Tag Archives: Parenting

Target Tantrums


Earlier this year Norah had her first major toddler tantrum at a public park. I wrote about it here, in Terrible Twos – Norah Style. I thought that was bad. Until I experienced our first toddler tantrum at a public store – enclosed, with echoes and shopping carts, where strangers abound.

If you’ve ever read this blog around the holidays, you know my infatuation with the holiday assorted Trader Jo Jos, at where else? Trader Joe’s. I’m a little surprised I haven’t been paid for my incredible (and FREE) advertising, but I guess I’m not Ellen, and to be honest, they move fast anyway; that’s just how delicious they really are.

So, although the nearest TJ’s is a little over 30 minutes away, I decide to make the trek because of course, the cookies. Need I say more?

I remember we need wrapping paper so decide on a whim to go to Target first. That way, the kids can walk around a little and stretch their legs. I knew they would want to see the toys and that would be okay. We’ve done the toy thing a few times in the past couple months and they usually leave with nothing, although sometimes with something from the dollar section. They know they are “waiting for Santa Claus.”

In fact, Miles and Norah continued to repeat this phrase throughout the toy section, which many shoppers (soon to be victims) thought was cute.

Norah: “Look at the baby!”

Miles: “We have to wait for Santa Claus.”

Miles: “I wanna T-Rex like this one!”

Norah: “We have to wait for Santa Claus.”

You get the gist.

Unfortunately, that T-Rex had quite the hold on little Miles. I could tell pretty fast it was going to be hard to let go, but I had my faith in him. It would be okay. He could do it. The other day in Publix he wanted to gum. I said no. He cried through the checkout line but then got over it. I handled that, now I can handle this, and so can he.


It started with tears, following quickly with blood-curdling screams. I begin walking away from the toy section with Norah, looking back at him of course, and hoping he follows. I tell the people looking at us that “he’s not mine – just this little good girl here” but they don’t get the joke, and in the 10 seconds of me walking a different direction 5 people are surrounding him thinking he’s lost. So I say “Gig is up – apparently he IS mine. Whoops!” and no one thought that was funny, either.

See, I try to find the humor in these situations.

I pick him up, thrust him into the cart, but he’s jerking recklessly (and still screaming), doing anything to get out of my arms. He knows how to detach the cart belt, too. Knowing that wouldn’t work, I pin his body down on top of our goods and we roll to the checkout, his body half on and half off.

From there I set him down nearby and talk very stern, saying it is NOT OKAY TO SCREAM LIKE THIS and YOU ARE IN TIME OUT and CUT IT OUT.

I try to put our items on the belt but then a little old lady gets hit with a shoe (I wish I was joking) and another shoe ends up hitting our cashier. He has thrown his shoes and socks and he is full-fledged, spread eagle on the ground. And the screaming ensues.

I apologize profusely and walk back over to him. This is quite the production, and our audience is growing. At this point one of the workers starts unloading our things on the moving bed (because of course I have more than wrapping paper – I’m at Target for goodness sakes – the store sucks you in.)

As I try to move him from the ground he is screaming “NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO” over and over and over. I have never in his almost 3 years seen him like this. Ever. I pick him up more forcefully and he hits me, hard.

It gets quiet. He looks at me wide-eyed. Our audience waits, wondering what I’ll do. So I just give in and give him the toy. It was all too much.

Just kidding – NO WAY! What did I do? I yanked those pants down, rounded the corner, and popped that butt hard. More than once. This behavior was absolutely unacceptable.

In Chicago, I would fear a dreaded DCFS call.We may not have snow for Christmas,  but I will say one thing we got going for us – I don’t think anyone is afraid of a little spank in the South.

If our no-gum-at-Publix experience was a high school One Act show, this had to be a Broadway musical, a Hamilton at it’s finest. At this point Norah is also crying because when one of them cries too hard the other one usually starts to cry as well. Twin thing?

I put him in the cart and buckle the belt, knowing he won’t try to get out because he is sensing defeat. I announce to our viewers that I’m sorry for the racket, that we will have to continue to hear the awful screams until I leave because the child wants a toy and he isn’t going to get one.

The following responses were a pleasant surprise, super helpful for this tired Mama. “Don’t give in!” and, “You’re handling it well!” and, “The worst is when they give ‘em what they want after the tantrum– don’t do it! You got this.”

I suddenly had a support group of all ages cheering me on.

On the way to Trader Joe’s (It was the last thing I wanted to do, but now I needed the cookies more than ever) Norah told Miles that Santa and Jesus were mad that he was bad.

Miles replied with, “Sorry Santa, sorry Jesus.” We need to work on our priorities; OBVS Jesus comes first.

“What about Mommy?” I asked.

“Sorry, Mama, “he said.

Didn’t make it all better, but certainly helped. Thankfully today was a new day, and it makes me appreciate the new mercies we get everyday from our heavenly Father. As parents, we want to do our best to model that to our children, even when it’s hard, even when we feel like holding a grudge.

Merry Christmas! Here’s to little tantrums (from both kids AND adults) and lots of LOVE as we celebrate the wonderful gift of our Savior. 

Here’s our pic when I said “Smile for the camera.” Notice the absence of shoes and socks.



Gas on a Plane


I have to write this so it’s printed and Miles can’t tell me one day I made it up, although he will probably say that or blame me anyway. Aren’t all of our problems a byproduct of our parents? JK. 🙂

So…it was the first time traveling with the twins with one adult – just me. Granted, I would much rather be the only adult with them on a 2 and 1/2 hour plane ride compared to a 17-hour car drive. Can I get an Amen?

Miles was so excited for the airplane. Being ALL BOY, he is very into Things that Go at the moment. I went to Wal-Mart and got several cheap and exciting plane activities and prizes – stickers, Dory and Cars coloring books, play dough, kid chapstick, suckers, etc.  I also purchased a Cars vehicle and a My Little Pony to add to their current collections. Then, to be even more proactive, I got them headphones and downloaded the movie Cars as well as Elmo in Grouchland – Norah’s favorite – on this small, less than 30 dollar tablet, nothing like an Ipad.

Although we definitely limit the kids’ electronic usage, they somehow work my phone almost better than me. The only time they really see the Ipad is when we use FaceTime. The other times are when they steal our phones. We don’t always notice until suddenly it gets very quiet. Find the nearest (or farthest – they are starting to get smarter) corner or closet, and there they are, on the Sesame Street app, You Tube, or looking through pictures.

SMH, kleptomaniacs at such a young age.

Anyway, the plan was to use the tablet as a last resort on the airplane if things got hairy. Unfortunately, for the first 20 minutes, “a bit hairy,” was the understatement of the century. 

Miles, the child who had joyfully anticipated this adventure, was full-on hysterical. It wasn’t the “I’m 2 years old and going to throw a toddler tantrum.” Instead, it was “I’m going to have a panic attack if you don’t get me off this plane!”


“No airplane! No take off! No Daddy! No Florida!” over and over and over, crying huge alligator tears.


“I waan tuh git ahhhhhff!”

I tried everything. I pulled out all the stops. My goody bag that was supposed to last the entire ride was gone within 20 minutes. He didn’t want the suckers, the toys, nada.

And the tablet? Well, I PURCHASED the movies, but apparently I never DOWNLOADED them over Wifi. So….yeah. That stinks.

My saving grace with “The King” – the Dinoco car I purchased. I told Miles we couldn’t open it until we took off, so no matter how much he screamed (at the top of his lungs, might I add) “NO TAKE OFF!!!!!!!!” he was desperate to try to behave so when we actually got in the air we could open his new toy.

That’s also how I knew it wasn’t just a tantrum. He’s mostly a people-pleaser, and it’s very easy to redirect him. When nothing was working, including the car, I knew he genuinely did NOT want to be on the airplane.

Thankfully, after a mild delay, we finally DID take off, and after that he was pretty content. He enjoyed looking out the window, watching the clouds, pointing out other odds and ends to Norah, who by the way, saw the sucker and other candy and never looked back.  A girl after my own heart. 

I wish the earlier hysterics were the only reason people looked and stared and whispered at the three of us, but alas, I must get to the title of this piece…Gas on a Plane.

In all reality, people looked at our row quite often. Those near us, and EVERYONE who passed us. Why? I’m pretty sure they were convinced both kids (if not myself included) crapped our pants.

Our row smelled SOOOO bad. I was convinced the kids’ pooped, too! Either that or an animal died.

The stewardess commented, and more than one person asked me nicely if perhaps one the kids needed a diaper change. I kid you not! So, we had a lot of looks.

After checking Miles’ diaper 5 times in 5 minutes, he yelled, “It’s just gas, Mom! It’s just gas!” Despite the smell, I burst out laughing. 

Each time I checked the diaper, that was his response. People around us started to laugh and smile. Although it reeked, his consistent “Just gas, Mom!” was cute as could be.

We survived the flight without electronic devices. There was no poop explosions. Other than the initial meltdown, we were good to go.

The best part? Watching the twins run as fast as their little feet could go, backpacks on, to reach their Daddy was absolutely priceless. You could tell everyone, including Chris, was on cloud nine. 

We were in Florida. We were finally home.



Christopher Columbus Day Reflection



I was ambushed. 

Disclaimer: I’m not a history buff. I don’t teach Social Studies. My first year of teaching I embarrassingly confused World War I and the Revolutionary War. True story. During research papers I also called Chris in the middle of class to ask who won the Vietnam War in an attempt to help a student write his paper. He conveniently switched topics after it was clear I still couldn’t help him. Bless those first year guinea pigs. Bless them.

Anyway, what I want to say has nothing to do with Columbus Day, really. I mean absolutely nothing. But, in my crazy-randomness of thinking, I made a far-fetched connection and decided to tie-in this day that teachers and students love (Yesss to long weekends! Sorry to working parents!)

Here it goes. Christopher Columbus/discovering America/interaction with the Natives – it’s controversial, I’m aware. We’re taught to celebrate this man and the day he sailed the blue in 1492. You know the story; a story, like all stories, that has more than one side.

Good educators teach both sides to the story, that although we are thrilled as Americans to have a United States of America, this exploration led to the destruction of American Indians who were happily settled in this territory before Columbus and whoever else took over. Again, not a history buff.

Whether we should thank Columbus for his ambush and celebrate the day, or boycott the National holiday altogether, I have zero opinion. In fact, a small, arrogant part of me thinks that people who have huge problems with this issue should get some new problems, because please people, there’s worse things. Syria? Human trafficking? Unclean water for the majority of people on this planet?

I digress.

Today I write you to say I am very thankful for a takeover. No one sailed their ship to my house, obviously. And, it’s not really a takeover when you ask for it…which, by the way, is a blog all on its own. When you need help, YOU have to do something about it. Don’t WAIT for someone to figure it out. Don’t ASSUME someone will notice. ASK.

So…yesterday. Chris had a school commitment (district golf outing – difficult work, I’m sure) and although the kids are teething and not sleeping as well, I was determined as ever to get to church on my own with both of them.

No one could have guessed our morning was chaotic based on our matching outfits and big smiles entering the building. Granted, 2 against 1 is never easy, so some people may have assumed it wasn’t easy getting out the door.

Who am I kidding? We bring the circus everywhere we go.

Anyway, I managed to get myself ready and the kids ready and got to church on time. I did text someone in advance to see if there would be an extra hand or two if need be.

Well, it was need be. No, the kids weren’t awful. Yes, we ended up in the cry room. But it was me – call it my exhaustion, slight mental instability, whatever. As my church friend/childcare helper/earthly savior of the day helped me put the crying kids in their car seats, the rest of the day seemed daunting and impossible. And it was only 10:30 in the morning.

“Do yall have lunch plans?” I asked.

When they didn’t, I took a deep breath as the tears welled up and went for it. “Can you come by and help me get the kids out of the car and give me a chance to get their lunch ready?”

Now, I do this most days on my own. Getting them in and out of the car, preparing lunch, putting them down for nap – this is second nature. I know how to do this on my own, and so does Chris. I don’t actually need someone to help me do this, but yesterday, I did. I needed someone to takeover.

I knew my limits. I knew I felt off. So I set my guilt and shame to the side for a hot minute and simply asked.

Next thing I know, we’re in my bedroom talking/processing/deep breathing while her 8 or 9? and 13-year old sons are feeding Miles and Norah lunch. Bless them. Bless her. Thank you Lord for community. They left and I never even fed them. I mean, whoa. Are these not the kind of people we all desperately need in our lives???

This ambush to my normal routine wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t willing to be vulnerable. People, we were made for one another! Love God, Love People. If we can get this right, all the other stuff can go to the wayside (I’ll add “for the most part” because I’m not looking to start theological discussions).

Yesterday I was shown immense grace and love. I was embarrassed at first, but later empowered by my willingness to be vulnerable. It’s in our brokenness that God can truly work in us. Only then can we experience his full power and healing.

It didn’t matter if the kids and I “looked” the part at church. Gotta love cheesy moms who do the matching outfits and don’t even attempt to deny it was completely intentional.

On the inside, I was hurting. I needed an ambush of love. And I got it.

What does this have to do with Columbus? Pretty much nothing. I
 said it was far-fetched. Nonetheless, enjoy the holiday if you’re off. Yay for my hubby being home!

Have a great week.


Underage Drinking


So much to say.  Lots of good things happening in the Madden world as of now. Ask me again next week. It’s a daily, sometimes hourly, thing. Some of you understand this (and you are my people, my kindred spirits).

When Chris started back to work, my “off” feeling (mental instability, increased anxiety, mild depression) brimmed the surface. Thankfully I was immediately aware. Awareness is key, right? So, I added some extra therapy sessions, got more help from family, and started subbing occasionally. Oh how I feel more balanced already! Being Mrs. Madden once again a time or two a week feels fantastic.

However, I am so glad it’s not full-time. Nothing is better than leaving at the end of the day with NO TAKE HOME WORK. I come home to simply play with the kids, mostly carefree. I did determine that twice a week is probably the max I want to be away from M & N.

I also recently met some “celebrity” favorites, Jen Hatmaker and Glennon Doyle at the Women of Faith conference. Incredible experience! Talk about feeling LOVED by GOD. Much more on that topic in weeks to come.

However, I interrupt this broadcasting to tell you what JUST happened. I literally turned on a lullaby video less than a minute ago so I can share this horrifying mama moment. 

As I cleaned up dinner, Chris left to take Abby on a quick jog. The kids were in the family room (which you can’t see from the kitchen), but I knew they would be fine for the 10 seconds it takes me to start the dishwasher.

Suddenly, the TV (which was not turned on previously) is blaring. I stomp in because they know they can’t touch the TV, and since we keep the clicker out of reach the only possible way the TV is on is if they turn it on manually.

So I’m marching in guns ‘a blazing only to be MORTIFIED.

Before I say anything else I must tell you that we are mostly a dry home. I was raised thinking alcohol was a sin but now I don’t believe you’ll go to hell for enjoying a glass of wine (although it’s not something I enjoy because I really just don’t like the taste of alcohol. I also don’t believe in anything that you have to “acquire” the taste for…it makes no sense to me).  But I’ll continue.

We drink very rarely, and believe as stated in the Bible that drunkenness is a sin. Just like almost anything in life, it’s about moderation. But because we recently had a luau bash for my 30th, there happens to be some adult beverages around. I feel the need to preface my story with all of this so you don’t think we are raging alcoholics. Although since this blog is the truth and nothing but the (often weird/sad/scary/awkward) truth, I suppose you would already know if that was the case.

I’m also prefacing this alcohol stuff because I’m already experiencing nervous ticks in anticipation of my family who will read this disapprovingly. You’re already shaking your heads. The condemnation is shooting out of your eyes and into my soul. I get it.

Oh well.

 Anyway, when I walk in, here’s what I see.

They didn’t touch the TV. The clicker was left on bookshelf next to the couch, and now it sits in Norah’s hand. Norah is lounging on the couch with the remote control, watching TV at a 146% volume. Miles is right beside her, with a beer in his hand, liquid running down his clothing and onto the couch. He had reached his hands over the side of the sofa to the top of the bookshelf (which is normally out of reach…growth spurt, perhaps?) to grab this beverage, and evidently proceeded to dump it all over himself (along with the couch).


If I wasn’t so furious about the wet couch and the fact that someone left a beverage of the alcohol sort in the open I would’ve captured a picture. Because seriously, no words can describe this image. Brother and sister, side by side, watching TV, drinking beer, with guilty looks from head to toe.

I think the whole neighborhood heard me screaming for my husband. Or was it at him? Better left unsaid.

Next time you think you’re negligent in parenting, just remember this one! Needless to say, it won’t be the last time these two get into some trouble. Just look at them! 


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