Toddler Tuesday : Evolution of the Grumples

This is our beautiful boy.  He has a very happy disposition.  He finds joys in almost everything.

He is also a three year old boy . . . and sometimes, when things don’t go just the way he pictured, he takes it quite personally and his entire mood turns immediately sour and demanding.

We call it the Grumples.

Here is where the story of our parenting comes into play.  I am realizing that we are practicing patchwork parenting.  One of us reads something somewhere that resonates and we give it a try with Cole.

1.  Facebook Status

I heard of the grumples on Facebook.  A friend that I worked with over a decade ago posted a thank you to her child’s preschool teacher.  Cole was an infant but the post stuck with me . . . she said something to the effect that she was appreciative for the teacher sharing with them how to disperse the grumples, that they had just shaken them away.

So when Cole was around 2 and a half, we introduced him to this technique, only we kind of made it up, since it was only one Facebook status that gave us a glimpse.  And nine times out of ten we could help him by identifying that he had the grumples and helped him shake them away.  He would end up in a flurry of giggles and his mood shifted back quickly.

2. Pinterest

When Cole turned three he started having bigger tantrums, where he would want to bang or kick or hit when he had a rush of those grumples. And a little shaking in that kind of moment seemed as if it might escalate instead of bring on the giggles.

I was on Pinterest when I discovered the calming jar.


It was easy enough to make: water, glue, and glitter all in a jar.  I introduced it to Cole and when he was feeling super frustrated instead of going to a time out we would go to the calming jar.  He started asking for it when he felt frustrated.  And once all the glitter settled he would take a time out.  We only used it for a few weeks and then he was not tantrum-ing any more.

3.  Word of Mouth

The next behavior issue we hit arrived a few months later when we found Cole was getting a bit fresh when he had the grumples.  We would say something like, “Cole, please go sit in your chair,” and he would respond immediately, “You go sit in your chair!” And then if we tried to introduce some kind of discipline he would escalate.

We knew that we needed to find ways to prevent these grumple attacks.  So I grabbed a vase and a bunch of beads we had bought for stringing, and we introduced him to earning beads with his good behavior.  We became very proactive and he was earning beads all the time, especially when he used nice words.  We told him he would get a present when all the beads were in his cup.

This helped tremendously and he earned himself a Buzz Lightyear toy after a couple of months of really good behavior.

4.  Blogs

We mentioned in October that we are reading the e-book Parenting with Positive Guidance, we both also signed up for the feed for author, Amanda Morgan’s blog,

In October she wrote a post about blowing bubbles . . .

I filed it away for a good way to teach when we are next blowing bubbles.

Simultaneously I read a blog post (I don’t remember where it was from now), where the  author talked about the importance of breathing.  She suggested that when we take a deep breath we breathe out and smile.

So the next time that Cole had the grumples, instead of shaking him or having him shake (not very effective ways for him to help himself in public).  We encouraged him to blow the grumples away and then smile.

The next morning at breakfast, on his own when he felt frustrated he stopped, took a second, blew out, smiled and changed his perspective.

The kid is three!

This has become his latest coping skill (and the breathing out and smiling part I am trying to – it works)!

So it is a patchwork kind of parenting.  We are all learning about how to help ourselves when we feel frustrated.

And the grumples are making their appearance less and less at our house.


No Spend November


After a month of intentions in October, we are a little quieter here, but no less intentional.

I follow a blog, Small Notebook, that has written about No Spend Month, and have kept the idea in the back of my head.  What would it be like to choose not to spend for an entire month?

Andrew and I have tried a No Impact Month before in September of 2010.  It was not hard and it changed us.  We do lots of things differently after immersing ourselves for a month.

So we have quietly embraced No Spend November.

At the beginning of each month Andrew and I sit down and pay all of our bills for the month ahead.  So at the beginning of this month we did do that.

However we also then budget money for all kinds of things including clothes, dining, entertainment, discretionary spending . . . and we took this money and put it in an account not to be touched this month.

We knew there would be expenses this month that we would need to make.  We are traveling for Thanksgiving, we will purchase things for Christmas, but we have designated debit cards for each of those things and have to stick to those budgets.

We have learned a good deal already.

I thought I would share our intentional step . . . more to follow.

Intention Day 31: Andrew Intention Reflection

… to reflect on the past 31 days.

Over the month of October Liza and I have taken time each day to look at the day(s) ahead and figure out some little place in our lives where we can be intentional. I have so appreciated the rhythm this has added to our days. I like sharing in a common goal with Liza and knowing she is working towards similar paths in her day too.

My favorite things from the month were being intentional with Colton and with work. I am home with Colton each Tuesday and it was so fun to have ideas ready to go for him and to make our time together so much better.

For my office, I realized how little I try and connect with the people I work with, even though we are in the same office for 7+ hours a day. At the end of 31 days I feel like I know the people I work with much more and am enjoying my job all the better.

I look forward to continuing to be intentional in small and big ways.