There’s No Such Thing As The “Terrible Twos” {Guest Post}

There's no such thing as the terrible two's so what is a parent to do? Try this simple tip. ©

Whoever coined the phrase “terrible twos” must have done so before they were the parent of a three-year old.

Because if the twos are “terrible,” then the “threes” are a nightmare in living color.

At least that was the case in our home, with all three of our children. I hear so many other parents share the same discovery upon the arrival of their first child’s third birthday.

Yes, I think the “terrible twos” are an urban legend.

Because when they’re two, it’s all, “Yes mommy,”

And, “I love you mommy,”

And, “What can I do to please you today mommy?”

And then they turn three, and it’s “No.”

And “You can’t make me.”

And “I don’t love you anymore.”

And “You’re the worst mommy ever!”

And it’s temper tantrums in the aisles of the grocery store.

And non-sensical arguing, 24/7.

And battle time at the dinner table.

And potty training.

(Don’t even get me started on that one.)

I don’t know what happens on the 1,094th day of their sweet little lives, but whatever it is, it’s not good.

It’s as if there’s a switch on their backs. And on the eve of their third birthday, someone dressed for the cover of darkness, and wearing a mask, sneaks into our home while all the chicks are tucked safely into bed, and flips the switch from “angel” to … well, the opposite of that.

And the next day, our whole life changes.

For at least 12 months.

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I remember vividly when my husband, Kory, and I discovered that our sweet little angel of a first-born had made that transition. It revealed itself in a battle of the wills that centered around swallowing food.

We wanted her to.

And she wouldn’t.

For hours at a time, she would hold her food in between her cheeks and her gums.

What in the world?

Were we raising a child or a chipmunk?

We weren’t sure.

It happened day after day, for weeks on end.

And it got so out of hand that we were having to wrestle her to the ground before bedtime to sweep her mouth of whatever food she was storing up for winter so she wouldn’t choke to death in her sleep.

That control battle dominated the scene for weeks and tainted every other interaction we had with our daughter because we were frustrated and exhausted.

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I remember one day in particular.

Kory was working late.

I was pregnant with our first-born son.

And it was dinner time.

It had been a long day, and our daughter had been preparing for hibernation and telling me “no” for most of it. She also wouldn’t put her pee pee in the potty, so I’d cleaned up at least 10 messes on the floor when I could barely reach my toes.

I made her favorite meal for dinner, which she informed me she no longer liked. But with some coaxing, I got her to eat. (Well, I guess that’s what you call it when someone chews up their food and stores it between their cheeks and their gums.)

She had a mouthful of food that she wouldn’t swallow, and it was time for bed.

I was too tired to fight her, so I ignored it, and I took her upstairs for bath, hoping she would swallow her food on her own. But one bath, one story, and one prayer later, the food was still in her mouth. So the time had come when I was going to have to deal with it, whether I wanted to or not.

But when I began to reach towards her mouth to sweep the food out with my fingers, there was no daughter.

There was only Zuul.

The child flipped out, demonstrating some moves I hadn’t yet seen.

And with my pregnant belly in the way, I couldn’t control her. So I carried her flailing body back to the high chair and strapped her in so she couldn’t hurt herself or me.

I “left” the room because, if raising a three-year old had taught us anything, we’d learned that temper tantrums require an audience. So I lurked around the corner, out of sight, sitting on the floor with my head between my knees, sobbing while she screamed.

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I’d had it with all the disobedience.

I’d had it with the battles of the wills.

I’d had it with the feelings of disdain for my own child.

I’d had it with the feelings of failure as her mom.

But while I sat there, I felt God leading me to pray. So I did. And as is often the case, I felt God leading me to do something in my prayers.

I felt God leading me to give thanks for this child.

Yeah, right.

This horribly disobedient, three-year-old-who-thinks-she’s-a-chipmunk, control freak, who was screaming like something demon-possessed in the other room.

I’m not going to say it was easy at first.

I was in the weeds of the terrible threes.

So I’d lost sight of all the beautifully good and wonderful things about this child, and I needed a reminder. But after searching the most inner parts of my heart and soul, I was able to identify some wonderful things about her that were getting lost in all the things we were working on.

Her outgoing nature.

Her care for others.

Her blossoming love for Jesus.

Her knack for prayers.

Her sense of humor.

Her creativity.

Her amazing vocabulary.

Her wisdom.

Her sparkling eyes.

And her smile.

Just to name a few.

I found that the list went on and on and on. And as I sat there on the floor giving thanks for this beautifully imperfect three-year old, I got so lost in my list, I didn’t even notice that she’d finally stopped screaming in the other room.

When I finished my prayer, I pulled myself off the floor, swept her out of the high chair, and put her to bed, feeling entirely different about both her and me than I had just a few minutes before.

Are you in a difficult season with one of your children?

If so, know you’re not alone. Know there are countless other moms and dads walking their own journey of struggle right along side you.

It’s normal.

But in our attempt to convey the appearance that we have it all together, most of us just don’t talk about it. So it feels like we’re the only parents in the world who can’t control our kids.

Having raised three children out of the terrible threes and some other difficult seasons as well, I know this too. Like any other season, this season, will pass.  And there will be things about it you’ll miss.

So stay the course.

Maintain your resolve.

Know there’s light at the end of this tunnel.

And along the way, when you find yourself in the midst of the toughest of days, take a parent time out to give thanks for the child (or children) that have you on your knees. It’s a truly transforming exercise that will help you regain some much needed perspective.

It may just save your day.

Do you have any strategies for changing your outlook when one of your children becomes consistently challenging?


Jennifer Knott - Confessions Of A Pastor's FamilyJennifer is a pastor’s wife, mom of three “tiggers”, part-time attorney, and Noonday Collection Independent Ambassador. She is passionate about families and loves to inspire and encourage couples as they strive to build strong, healthy relationships with God, each other, and their kids.

In a social media driven world that puts only its highlight reels online, Jennifer has observed an unmet need for deep, authentic relationships. As a result, she blogs over at Confessions Of A Pastor’s Family, where she shares transparent stories about her faith, marriage, family, and ministry so that others might see God’s transforming power in her imperfect family and be inspired to use their own families as a witness to others in the name of Jesus Christ.

Every Girl Wants To Be Gourmet [Guest Post]

I love to cook. It’s something I didn’t know about myself until I met my husband. He loves to cook (gets that from his Opa), and he’s really good at it. Over the years, it’s rubbed off on me…at least the “love” part. I still have a long way to go with respect to the “good” part.

The difference between us? I’m a rule-follower, and he’s a fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants kind of guy. The end result? I can pick out a mean recipe that is usually a crowd-pleaser, and I will follow it.  To. The. Letter. (at least the first time). And I usually have a fairly good result with the family.

Except for butternut squash or carrot soup.

Or pastas that don’t involve a red or cream sauce.

Or casseroles.


I’ve tried countless recipes in these departments to no avail. Between you and me, I don’t think it’s the recipes that are the problem. I think it’s the picky eaters involved. But we have a way of dealing with that in our home, and you can read about that here.

My husband, on the other hand, can’t follow a recipe to save his life, but if all we have on hand is some cream of chicken soup, Italian bread crumbs, a few chicken breasts, and a vegetable, he’ll whip up THE MOST DELICIOUS MEAL. Of course, we’ll never be able to have it again because he won’t be able to re-create it, but that’s OK. He’ll come up with another delicious, but different, version next time.

I’m always looking for new (and easy) recipes that will spice up the food I’m serving to my family because I want to keep mealtime interesting, and I want to continue introducing new foods to our kids in hopes of broadening their palates. I’m certain that someday…they’ll thank me. (They will eventually thank me, won’t they?)

This is an interest that I share with my sister, Lindsay, and my cousin, Amber. Over the years, we have swapped recipes, shared shortcuts, and even spent time cooking together, each of us bringing something new to the table for the other to try.

For a number of years, Amber and I lived minutes from each other, and it wasn’t an uncommon occurrence for us (and our hubbies) to destroy one of our kitchens trying to create something new. On one such occassion, we learned that Amber’s husband George is allergic to jalapenos. He was charged with slicing and seeding about 20 of them for something we were grilling and, bless his heart, for the next week, he couldn’t use his fingers due to the burning sensation under his nails! Note taken. Now we all wear gloves or use a spoon!

Our hubbies, about 10 years ago, whipping up a beach vacation breakfast for the girls, before any of us had children. I love pulling out old photos!

Recently, though, my family moved across town as a result of my husband’s appointment at a new church. And with Amber and George managing 15 month old quadruplets…


and us having 3 children ranging in age from 2-9…

 We just don’t get to see them as much as we used to. So when Amber and I received an invitation from my sister (who lives halfway between us) to attend a cooking class at her house lead by Audrey McGinnis, owner of Every Girl Gourmet, we decided to seize the moment to spend a little time together and sharpen our skills at the same time.

Meet Audrey, owner of Every Girl Gourmet. Isn’t she the cutest thing ever?

The concept?

1. A night with the girls;

2. A cooking class lead by a finalist from Season 3 of Master Chef (remember the girl who made the cakes that looked like the Judges?  That’s Audrey!)

Audrey made it to the top 36, got the coveted apron, and was cut (from the show, not with a knife) during a meat challenge. But she points to her experience at Master Chef as the inspiration for this new aspect of her business.

3. A three-course meal;


4. 3-5 recipes to take home;

5. And some really awesome, but simple, cooking tips to keep in your back pocket.

We had a blast! Audrey is polished, well-spoken, and witty. She’s a great cook. She knows how to make everyone feel comfortable in the kitchen. And she’s lots of fun to be around.

We left with 5 great recipes including a beverage, appetizer, salad dressing, main course, and dessert. And we were stuffed! But Amber and I agreed that the best part of the evening was soaking in some practical cooking tips that transcend the recipes Audrey shared with us.

This is my sister, Lindsay. She's a local news anchor, and even in her own kitchen, she looks like she's doing an interview!

This is my sister, Lindsay. She’s a local news anchor, and even in her own kitchen, she looks like she’s doing an interview!

Here’s a few things we learned:

1. Roasting vine-ripened tomatoes is the secret to delicious homemade salsa (plus adding a can of Fireroasted tomatoes). Audrey taught us to roast the tomatoes at 500 degrees in a round cake tin covered with foil. After removing the tomatoes from the oven, Audrey shared that covering them with the foil for about 15 minutes helps loosen the skins so they will peel right off.

Roasted Tomatoes

I’ve made two batches of Audrey’s salsa since the party. Delicious!

2. Adding a little tobasco to a buttermilk ranch dressing recipe is a nice touch.

3. The pits of an avocado will keep guacamole from turning brown. So after you whip up a batch of delicious guacamole, reunite the flesh of the avocado with its pit. It will thank you by staying green!

4. When baking any recipe that calls for vegetable oil, replace the oil with an equal amount of apple sauce. The end result? A healthier dessert, free of transfats, that will be light and fluffy (if you’re going for a dense cake, do not make this substitution).

5. When baking any chocolate recipe, if it calls for a cup of milk or water, add a teaspoon of instant ground coffee to the milk or water to increase the intensity of the chocolate.

6. If your recipe calls for eggs at room temperature and you forget to take them out of the refrigerator ahead of time, don’t panic. Instead, place them in a bowl of luke warm water for 3-4 minutes. (In exchange for this little tidbit, I shared a secret regarding softening butter — if you take butter right out of the refrigerator and grate it with a cheese grater, you will have softened butter for creaming without the wait time.)

As usual, I forgot to remove eggs from the refrigerator today. Audrey's trick worked like a charm!

As usual, I forgot to remove eggs from the refrigerator today. Audrey’s trick worked like a charm!

7. And finally, have you every wondered how to eat a cupcake without getting frosting all over your nose? Audrey taught us that a truly moist cupcake can be broken easily in half by tearing the top of the cupcake off the base. Then, take the base and place it on top of the icing (like an oreo), and wala! A mess-free cupcake with icing in every bite!

We learned a ton of other things as well, but most importantly, we got to spend some time with each other and we got to escape, even if just for a few hours, from the demands of work and family.  That alone was worth the cost of admission!

How do you love spending time with the girls?  And what are some of your favorite practical cooking tips?

P.S.  If you enjoyed reading this post, please come visit me and my family at Confessions Of A Pastor’s Family.  I am married to a pastor in the local church and recently launched this blog as a place for us to share stories regarding our Faith, Marriage, Family, and Ministry.  It is our hope that, through candid posts, we can touch the lives of families beyond the walls of our own church in a positive way.  We’d love to hear from you!

P.S.S.  Also, be sure to check out Audrey’s blog, Every Girl Gourmet.  It’s filled with great recipes and helpful cooking tips!