Terrible Twos…and Threes

“Whoever came up with the term “terrible twos” must have felt very foolish after their kid turned three…”
― Jim GaffiganDad Is Fat

2017-07-20 Stella 3rd birthday [1]

In the months leading up to Stella’s third birthday, I thought there was no way age three could be worse than age two. I thought if I could just get past two, everything would be fine!

It is NOT fine.

The tantrums are epic. She screams herself red in the face until she’s choking and hyperventilating because you said NO to wearing rubber boots to bed, or putting on nail polish right before a bath, or eating jelly beans for dinner; or YES, she has to wear underwear today, just like every other day…

She is totally rude. Now, when people smile at her in the grocery store and tell her she has the most beautiful hair, she grumbles and whines and turns around so she doesn’t have to look at them.

And she thinks she’s a baby. I know the “experts” say it’s just a phase or whatever, but it’s still maddening to hear the incoherent, monosyllabic mumbling that comes out of her mouth. Her height does not help the situation. She looks like a realllllllly immature five-year-old when she says, “Da da, look, I wet!”

AND, she likes Taylor Swift songs. Gah! But I guess that’s my fault for letting her watch the movie SING and letting her dance to the “pig song…”

The good news is, she usually reserves the worst of this unpleasantness for whenever Dad is in the room. We don’t know why, because he doesn’t put up with it any more than I do. Wait, I guess that’s not good news. Never mind.

On the other hand, Stella is so sweet and happy and articulate. Those are her two extremes: she’s either delightful or demonic. There is no middle ground right now.

At her best, Stella can be reasoned with and you can actually have a conversation with her, sort of. Example:

S: “I want Shark! Will you go get him? He’s in Sophie’s room.”

D: “I’m sorry, but we don’t have Shark any more.”

S: “No, we do, he’s just in the other room. Will you please go get him?”

Dad, in hopes of having a tender, teaching moment to impress upon her young mind the importance of decluttering and sharing your abundance with those less fortunate, continues:

D: “Ok, I’ll go check…”

He comes back and makes up some baloney story,

D: “You know, here’s what happened. There was another girl who didn’t have any toys and we knew you had so many toys and would want to share with her, so we gave Shark to her so she would have something to play with. Doesn’t it feel good to share and help kids who don’t have toys?”

S: “No. I want Shark!”

Generally, Stella is almost completely self sufficient and helpful. When she’s in a good mood, she’ll do whatever I say. Thank goodness. And one of the most amazing things about her is her resilience. I stopped keeping track of how many times a day she falls down or bumps into walls or scrapes her knees or elbows because it’s never been a big deal. She’ll cry for two seconds and then say, “I’m okay!” It’s the best.

Her latest trick, when you compliment her on how good she is at doing X, is to respond with, “Yeah, I have dexterity.” We said dexterity means you’re good at doing things with your hands, such as: helping to make dinner by chopping vegetables (with a butter knife); painting our nails (with child proof nail polish); cutting up catalog paper into confetti-sized bits; writing (her name, the alphabet); drawing (flowers and outlines of hands with added fingernails and jewelry details, the Cat in the Hat, “potato people,” which are ovoid outlines of bodies with bulbous eyes and sticks for arms and legs); coloring all my printed MAGIC HOUR sketches with colored pencils on the light box after I’ve transferred the lines to watercolor paper; watercolor painting; coloring with markers; drilling holes in her play doh dentist patient’s teeth (his name is Mr. Unlucky) after administering healthy doses of Novocain; playing Dr. Stella, which entails bringing all her stuffed animals back from the dead by taking their temperatures and giving them flu shots; filling up all her purses with Legos and carrying them around the house; taking empty cardboard boxes and stuffing them with the most random assortment of toys then hiding the boxes in weird places; the list goes on….

She also likes looking at pictures of Australia (since reading, ALEXANDER AND THE TERRIBLE, HORRIBLE, NO GOOD, VERY BAD DAY, she tells us she’s going to Australia every day) and reading GREEN EGGS AND HAM and of course, hearing about every little thing that happened in the Bible and Book of Mormon (current favorite stories: Joseph of Egypt, Moses, Laban’s death, Abinadai’s death, Daniel and the Lion’s Den, Noah’s Ark)

I suppose these bright spots are worth the aggravation of three-year-old tantrums…just kidding, what am I saying?

2017-09-04 Stella labor day [1]2017-09-04 Stella labor day [2]2017-09-04 Stella labor day [3]


“Look at my tattoos!” and other conversation starters

Stella isn’t very good at just sitting on the potty. While she’s waiting, she figures she might as well be emptying all the bathroom cupboard drawers and strewing their contents across the floor. One time, she brought a notepad and a pen to the bathroom with her. Daddy thought she was just going to draw on the paper. Silly him. A few moments later, he went to check on her. She had scribbled all over her arms, tummy, and legs. “Look at my tattoos!” How does she know what tattoos are? “Oh, what did you draw?” I asked. “Alien spacemen,” she said. How does she know what alien spacemen are?

Another time, five minutes after we needed to be out the door to make it to school on time, Stella was not just sitting on the potty. I was somewhere else, doing something that was probably important, when I noticed the silence. I poked my head in the bathroom and Stella was on the potty with semi-permanent lip liner scrawled across her eyebrows and forehead. “I have makeup!” she said. I should have seen this coming. That makeup had been in the bottom cupboard drawer for nine months. How did it take that long for her to realize it was there? Well, now it’s in the trash.

One day while we were driving in the car, Stella told me she was going to work.

Me: “What kind of work do you do?”

S: “Business work.”

Me: “What kind of business?”


S: “Monkey business.”

How does she know what monkey business is?




Easter Talk

We were talking to Stella about Easter. Specifically, what happened during the last week of the Savior’s life. In honor of Palm Sunday, we made a really pathetic looking “palm branch” by tracing her hands on green paper, cutting them out, and taping them to a stick she found outside. She was proud of it anyway and walked around the house cradling it and saying she was going to show Daddy when he came home. Then we watched a video of Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey, and she rode on her own donkey, I mean dad.

Later, she recounted the story as follows:

S: Jesus rode on a donkey. Into “Jerusadem.”

Me: What did the people shout?

S: Lasagna!

Me: I think you mean, “Hosanna!”

S: Yeah!

Me: They said, “Hosanna, to the Son of David!”

S: “David! Stop it this instant!”

Me: No, not that David.

On Tuesday, we talked about how Jesus cleansed the temple.

S: Jesus was mad.

Me: Why?

S: Because the temple was dirty.

Me: Why?

S: Because of the sheep.

Me: What about the sheep?

S: The sheep pooped in the temple.

You can always count on poop to be memorable.

On Thursday, we made unleavened bread. It tasted gross.

Stella loves that song “Gethsemane.” It was probably one of the last songs she was really interested in before she started boycotting singing. Now she refuses to sing on camera or when we’re talking to anyone on the phone. But before she entered this downward spiral, I overheard her singing parts of “Gethsemane” to her stuffed pig. But instead of saying, “Jesus climbed the hill, to the garden still, his steps were heavy and slow….” she said:

“Jesus climbed the hill… [dramatic pause]

to steal cookies!”



A medley by Stella

Stella likes to sing/shout/blather herself to sleep at night. Sometimes it sounds like a mix of all the songs she’s been singing throughout the day:

Jesus came to…5 little speckled frogs, sitting on a speckled log, eating the most delicious…spider that wriggled and tickled and jiggled inside her…family here on earth, they are so…dumb, dumb, dumb, they chase anything that glitters, beginners, oh! And here they come, come, come, to…earth with power to choose, good choices bless me and my…foolish man built his house upon the sand, and the rains came tumbling down…to the edge of the water, long as I can remember, never really knowing why…at times I am tempted to…be shiny, like the treasure of a sunken pirate wreck, scrub the deck and…the Lord has shown me how I can…cross that line, will I cross that line? See the light where the sky meets the sea, it calls me and…what can I say except we’re dead soon?  Your granny LIED! The cold never bothered me anyway!



Bible Stories that my toddler tells to me

Today Stella was busy coloring on the table like I told her not to, when she paused and looked up and said, “Daniel in the lions’ den.”

Me: “Oh, who told you that?”

S: “Jackson.”

Me: “No, they must have told you that story in nursery yesterday?”

S: “Yeah.”

I showed her the picture of Daniel in the lions’ den from our book of Bible stories and again corrected the understandable misnomer (she had recently talked to her cousins Daniel and Jackson on FaceTime), pointing out that this wasn’t her cousin, but an old timey prophet. Later, she wanted to recap the highlights of the story:

S: “Daniel ate the lions. For breakfast.”

Me: “No, everyone thought the lions would eat Daniel but God saved him.”

S: “Lions were hungry.”

Me: Yes, they were hungry, but they didn’t eat Daniel because he prayed to Heavenly Father. Daniel was a good guy.”

S: “And Jackson.”

Me: “Yes, Jackson is a good guy too. So what happened to Daniel in the lions’ den?”

S: “Jackson ate him. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen!”


Speaking of (mostly) old timey prophets:

Stella & prophets 1

Stella & prophets 2


Our December went like this.

We went to Hobby Lobby and in the checkout line, Stella got excited when we approached the cashier. He had long hair and a bushy beard. She looked at him and said, “Jesus!” loud enough for the whole store to hear. His name was Devin. The other customers in line said, “Aww!” and told Devin that he’d just been given a nice compliment. I said I was sorry and we left as soon as possible.

Stella went to her preschool to sit in with her class that she’ll join in January. Two months ago, we started reading the Splat the Cat books. In the first book, Splat goes to school. His teacher, Mrs. Wimpydimple tells the class to welcome their new student and all the little kitties say, “HI SPLAT!” Stella’s teacher, Miss Nancy, told the class, “We have a new friend, say hi to Stella!” When all the kids said, “HI STELLA!” Stella smiled and said, “Wimpydimple!” Nobody knew what she was talking about, of course.

We went to Rancho Cucamonga for Christmas. Sophie had a blowout at an inopportune moment so baby Jesus was played by a teddy bear wrapped in a blankie, and Stella was supposed to be Mary in our Christmas Eve live nativity but instead walked around insisting that she was a wise man. Later she changed her mind and said, “I’m a wise woman,” after Daddy said so.

We wish you a merry Christmas, and a happy new year!

“Now where’s that middle C?”
Wise Woman costume by Kelsey and Skylie


Scary Stuff

Me: “Trick or treat, smell my…”

Stella: “undies!”

We did not teach her that.



We went to “Treat Street” on October 28th in downtown Lafayette. Businesses on Mt. Diablo Blvd welcomed trick-or-treaters so we stopped by a few of our favorite places, including Bel and Bunna’s Books, where Stella found Harry, Robot, and Sister.

We thought Stella would be all over the candy but she’s actually more interested in “scary stuff.” She discovered scary stuff when we went to Ross in August and found Halloween decorations on display (in AUGUST). When we couldn’t think of anything to do at the end of summer, we could always go to the store and push the shopping cart up and down the aisles of Halloween decor and that would entertain Stella for 10 whole minutes. Now we’ll know what to when we’re bored next September; we’ll go look at all  Christmas stuff at Target.