Stop Biting Her Face!

My house is a giant mess. Marko gets into everything. Anytime I sit down, I sit on a raisin or stale Cheerio or a blob of jelly, even on days when I know I didn't serve anyone jelly (how do they reach that high?). Laurel's preferred activity is to make "art" out of little bits of garbage she finds. Max leaves puddles of drool. Most nights, I tidy the house but it takes only 5 minutes for it to look like burglars rifled through all our stuff but decided to steal nothing, because everything we own is a broken down piece of crap, or if it was once good, has since been destroyed by the children. But then we have a morning like this one, everyone hanging out in the dining room, painting and listening to music, Max looking on from his high chair. I have time for a second cup of coffee. All is calm.

I am learning that there needs to be a balance between structure and flexibility. I made a daily routine that includes post-dinner outside play, and that has turned out to be a really good thing for bedtime. Playing outside after dinner has become this privilege that I can use to leverage good behavior. I didn't intend for that, but that's they see it as a reward. We play outside before dinner, too, but for some reason, it doesn't seem to be viewed the same in their eyes. I'm thinking ahead to summer time, when I'll have all three kids all day long again and trying to get ready for that. I give them a bucket of warm water (because it's still kind of cool here) and some shovels and containers from the recycling bin and they pretty much entertain themselves with mud.

Laurel and Marko fight a lot. I try not to intervene, but you have to draw the line at face-biting! (Seriously, I said, "No face-biting" today.) If I stay back, usually they move through the conflict in 5 minutes or less. But there are days when they seem to pick at each other all day long.

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