Category: Cody

My Homeschool Kindergarten Curriculum

This year is Cody’s first official year of legally required schooling, and we will be doing homeschool Kindergarten. Last year we did Kindergarten as well, but it was more of his “T-K” or Transitional Kindergarten year. And because I got pregnant (and therefore sick) in January, we didn’t get very far and weren’t able to be consistent. So this year is the real Kindergarten year for Cody. ?

For our curriculum, I have continued to adjust and hone based on our experiences last year. I have kept in mind the fact that we will be juggling a newborn baby along with homeschooling this year, so I need to keep it as streamlined and hands-off as possible. Of course, Kindergarten is a pretty hands-on grade to teach! But with so much technology available now, I’m optimistic that Cody will be able to learn a lot of what he needs to without me directly teaching him.

It’s also good to know that while a minimum of several hours of instruction time per day is mandated for Kindergarten students in public schools (including virtual/online schools), that doesn’t apply to independent homeschools. Because one-on-one homeschooling is much more efficient, only about an hour and a half of school time is recommended per day for Kindergarten homeschoolers. That’s much more manageable goal for my family.

Our daily subjects this year are Language Arts/Reading/Vocabulary, Handwriting/Spelling, Read-Aloud, Math, Science, and Social Studies. Then we have weekly subjects of Art, Science Lab (experiments), Foreign Languages (ASL & Spanish), and Motor Skills/Logic/Critical Thinking. That may seem like a lot, but I’ve organized our schedule to be simple and easy.

Our materials for all of these subjects include several apps that Cody can use on his tablet, plus a few books and lesson kits. We also have an extensive home library of kids’ educational books and workbooks at our disposal.

Our base curriculum is through a program called Acellus. This is an affordable subscription-based service that includes Language Arts/Reading, Math, Science, and Social Studies. Each day, students are given assignments in each area, which spreads out the year’s curriculum evenly for the school year.

We also have several learning games on the computer/tablet from Endless Learning, including Endless Reader, Endless Alphabet, Endless Wordplay, Endless Numbers, and Endless Spanish. These are very well-made and fun-to-use apps that Cody enjoys, and he can play with them independently.

The last app we have for homeschooling is Khan Academy Kids, which is a wonderful program. It has fun songs, games and activities that teach logic and critical thinking, as well as a large read-aloud library. It is very well-made and fun for the kids, both Cody and Abigail.

We are using three lesson kits that I bought but never used for Cody’s schooling last year. These include All About Reading (Level 1), Spelling You See (Level A), and Math-U-See (Primer). These kits include instruction guides, workbooks, and other materials to teach these subjects.

Then we have a few books we are using for specific subjects, including The Reading Lesson, Teach Me Handwriting, The Art Book for Children, What Your Kindergartner Needs to Know, The Everything Kids’ Science Experiments Book, and We Can Sign. Lastly, we have flash cards for teaching ASL (American Sign Language) and Spanish. For science experiments and art projects, we are utilizing the many ideas available for free on the internet.

Here is what our detailed weekly schedule looks like:

Each day includes hands-on instruction in only one or two subjects, which are bolded.


  • Acellus – supervised independent work for 30 minutes
  • Reading & Vocabulary – lesson from The Reading Lesson for 10 minutes
  • Handwriting & Spelling – Endless Wordplay for 10 minutes
  • Read-Aloud – Khan Academy Kids library for 10 minutes
  • Math – Endless Numbers for 10 minutes
  • Art – one lesson from The Art Book for Children; supervised art project (approx. 20 mins)
  • Total hands-on time: about 30 minutes
  • Total school time: about 1 hour 30 minutes


  • Acellus – supervised independent work for 30 minutes
  • Reading & Vocabulary – Endless Reader for 10 minutes
  • Handwriting & Spelling – lesson from Teach Me Handwriting for 10 minutes
  • Read-Aloud – Khan Academy Kids library for 10 minutes
  • Math – Endless Numbers for 10 minutes
  • Social Studies – one lesson from What Your Kindergartener Needs to Know for 10 minutes
  • Total hands-on time: about 20 minutes
  • Total school time: about 1 hour 20 minutes


  • Acellus – supervised independent work for 30 minutes
  • Reading & Vocabulary – Endless Alphabet for 10 minutes
  • Handwriting & Spelling – Endless Wordplay for 10 minutes
  • Read-Aloud – books from our homeschool library for 10 minutes
  • Math – Endless Numbers for 10 minutes
  • Science Experiments – The Everything Kids’ Science Experiments Book or use an idea from the internet (approx. 10 minutes)
  • Total hands-on time: about 20 minutes
  • Total school time: about 1 hour 20 minutes


  • Acellus – supervised independent work for 30 minutes
  • Reading & Vocabulary – Endless Reader for 10 minutes
  • Handwriting & Spelling – Endless Wordplay for 10 minutes
  • Read-Aloud – Khan Academy Kids library for 10 minutes
  • Math – lesson from Math-U-See for 10 minutes
  • Foreign Languages – lesson from We Can Sign, and/or ASL or Spanish flash cards for 10 minutes; Endless Spanish for 10 minutes
  • Total hands-on time: about 20 minutes
  • Total school time: about 1 hour 30 minutes


  • Acellus – supervised independent work for 30 minutes
  • Reading & Vocabulary – Endless Alphabet for 10 minutes
  • Handwriting & Spelling – Endless Wordplay for 10 minutes
  • Read-Aloud – Khan Academy Kids library for 10 minutes
  • Math – Endless Numbers for 10 minutes
  • Motor Skills, Logic, & Critical Thinking – Khan Academy Kids for 10 minutes, supervised work on free choice of workbook for 10 minutes
  • Total hands-on time: about 10 minutes
  • Total school time: about 1 hour 30 minutes

The best thing about our schedule is that I only have to spend 10-30 minutes doing hands-on instruction each day. The rest of the school time is Cody doing independent activities with my guidance and assistance as needed. It should be manageable even while juggling other childcare duties. At the same time, it’s a full curriculum and I don’t feel like it’s lacking in any areas at all.

It’s also flexible! If Cody is particularly interested in a specific subject or activity, we can always spend more time on it. But for the most part, his attention span is still pretty limited so it’s nice to have a reasonable goal of only about 10 minutes per subject per day.

Overall, I believe it is important for kids to spend a lot of time playing and independently exploring their world rather than doing formal schoolwork. I want Cody to enjoy learning, and learn not just through memorization or repetition, but through experience. I think that our curriculum is going to encourage that, without neglecting the subjects that he does truly need to learn in a more formal way.

I’m excited to get started this year, and see how we do with our new curriculum! We will be doing year-round school, which means we have more frequent vacation periods spread out throughout the year rather than one long break during the summer. It also means we’ll be finishing our school year in August, followed by a short break before beginning again with the next school year. I’m eager to see how this works for us as well. I’m hoping it will discourage burnout and give us more flexibility as a family.

Kindergarten, here we come!

Semi-interesting notes:

It’s common, at least in California, to do Preschool for kids between 2-3, Pre-K for 3’s, T-K for 4’s, and then finally Kindergarten for 5’s, which is exactly what we have done so far. Those grades are based on the child’s age at the start of the school year in September, so since Cody’s birthday is in October, he’s on the older side for his grade level—he starts the grade at the “normal” age, but has his birthday a month later. We actually prefer for him to be slightly older than his peers rather than younger, so it works for us. Abigail will be even more so, since her birthday is in early September, right at the beginning of our school year.

For Abi, we’re not doing any formal homeschool Preschool, for a few reasons. One is that she already absorbs a lot from watching and listening in on Cody’s schooling, and another is that it doesn’t seem manageable with Amelia arriving in October. So we won’t be starting her homeschooling until Pre-K, just after she turns 4 in in September 2021—followed by T-K when she turns 5, and Kindergarten when she turns 6.

This choice means that both Cody and Abigail will be 18 years old during their senior year of high school, rather than turning 18 several months after graduating. We plan on doing the same thing for Amelia’s schooling, since she is expected to have an October birthday.


Here is a peek inside my Pre-K Homeschool curriculum for Cody this year!

Book List

Children’s Bible – 101 Favorite Stories from the Bible by Ura Miller
Memory Verses – My ABC Bible Verses: Hiding God’s Word in Little Hearts* by Susan Hunt & Yvette Banek
Devotional – A Little God Time for Kids: 365 Daily Devotions
Language Arts:
The Random House Book of Fairy Tales by Amy Ehrlich & Diane Goode
The Big Purple Book of Beginner Books by various authors including P.D. Eastman (There are also Blue & Red editions with stories by P.D. Eastman)
The Big Green Book of Beginner Books by Dr. Seuss (There are also Orange & Aqua editions with stories by Dr. Seuss)
Any treasury story book that you and your child enjoy will work well

First Thousand Words (in English) by Heather Amery & Stephen Cartwright
LeapFrog LeapReader (electronic pen) with Learn to Read 10 Book Bundle

The Art Book for Children by Phaidon Press
Art Lab for Little Kids by Susan Schwake

Eric Carle’s Animals Animals
A Treasury of Mother Goose Illustrated by Hilda Offen
The Random House Book of Poetry for Children by Jack Prelutsky
National Geographic Book of Animal Poetry

The Berenstain Bears’ Big Book of Science and Nature
Is the Blue Whale the Biggest Thing There Is? By Robert E. Wells
How Do You Lift a Lion? By Robert E. Wells
What’s Smaller than a Pygmy Shrew? By Robert E. Wells
What’s Under the Sea? By Sophy Tahta
Why Do Tigers Have Stripes? By Mike Unwin
How to Dig a Hole to the Other Side of the World by Faith McNulty
Science Learn and Explore Pre-K by DK Workbooks

Social Studies:
People by Peter Spier
Then and Now by Heather Amery
Things People Do by Anne Civardi
Stories from Around the World (Retold by Heather Amery)
Workbook: (pre-writing, thinking, numbers)
School Zone Big Preschool Workbook


How I Chose My Curriculum

Originally, I planned to use a pre-organized curriculum by a company called Sonlight. They create Christian, literature-based curriculum packages for preschool through high school. After ordering my package, I received the items and started out following the very well-organized Instructor’s Guide. Each week has a memory verse and a song of the week, and each day has a Bible story, along with selections from the various books included in the curriculum. There are also optional activities that can be done.

As I started out, I quickly realized that the books included are for the most part, quite old. I understand the value of classics, but when the majority of the books in a curriculum are published in the 1980s, I think it might be time for an update! Additionally, many of the books are by the same authors or publishing groups. It makes me feel like I’m only exposing my child to one person’s way of thinking, instead of teaching from a variety of sources.

So, after only a couple of days of that, I decided to keep what I liked and choose different books for the rest. I quickly ended up with my own curriculum, and have only kept a few things from Sonlight, mainly because I don’t want to go through the hassle of returning them for a partial refund, and I didn’t want to further delay our start of school by waiting for all new books.

I started out by deciding what subjects I wanted to study with my child. The core subjects I came up with were Bible, language arts, reading, science, social studies, and math. Since Cody is still too young for true math, we are learning the basics of numbers this year, and we do that mainly through his workbook. Bible is the subject we study every day, and we also do something in the reading category daily. That left me with three subjects to rotate through. I decided to make it five, so we can study one subject each day and go through all of them in a week.

Because I actually enjoyed the poetry selections from Sonlight, I chose that subject and picked a few new books. To round out the curriculum, I chose art as our final subject. (Next year, for Kindergarten, we will study Spanish and Math as a full subject, so I will have to rearrange accordingly).

After choosing our subjects, I simply went shopping for books I liked. I chose a few for each subject, based on what I felt was needed. Some books are large collections we will work through over the course of the year, and others are ones we will read for a few months, or perhaps only once.


What Homeschooling Looks Like for Us

Every day we review our memory verse for the week, then we read the Bible story for the day. We are currently using the Sonlight Instructor’s Guide for our Bible verse and story selections, but next year we will use My ABC Bible Verses, which can be reused for several years, and read chronologically through the Read and Learn Bible, which we already have.

He repeats the Bible verse (in short pieces), and I remind him briefly what it means. While reading the story, I ask him questions to help with comprehension and keep him engaged. The stories are short, and the pictures are lovely, so that helps.

Next, we choose a subject to focus on for the day. We have a jar with popsicle sticks, and each subject written on one stick. He chooses one and moves it to the “done” jar, and that’s the subject we study that day. The options are: Stories (Language Arts), Science, Art, Social studies, and Poetry.

For each subject, we typically read a few pages from one of the appropriate books, and possibly do an activity. We have the freedom to choose which book we want to read that day, and how much we want to read. I keep an eye on his attentiveness, and stop when I’m satisfied we’ve done enough and he’s beginning to lose focus.

Then we do some reading practice. We either look at a few pages of First Thousand Words, and practice reading the words and finding the objects in the pictures, or we read through one of his LeapReader books using his electronic pen.

We end by doing a few pages in his workbook, one of his favorite parts of school. I flip through and try to pick a variety of activities, and he likes to pick which ones to do as well. I usually have to tell him when we’re going to be done, because even though he loses focus, he says he wants to do more.

That’s it for our “formal” schooling during the day time. It usually takes us 20 minutes or so to do all of that, not including any activities we might do. We also have a devotional we read together as a family at bedtime.

As homeschoolers, we also see life skills as an important part of our children’s education. While he’s a bit young right now, we plan to teach cooking, cleaning, money management, nutrition, fitness, self-defense (through karate) and any other subjects they show an interest in.

The formal part of homeschooling sometimes seems intimidating to people, but I’ve found that at least at this early stage in our journey, it’s actually quite fun to choose books and subjects you want to explore together. Then you just start! One day at a time, they learn. I’m having a lot of fun with it, and Cody enjoys it too.


Do You Believe In Magic?

For the past few months, Cory and I have been struggling with Cody’s behavior and figuring out how to best discipline him. I’ve discovered that three year olds, AKA threenagers, are a whole other level of challenging. Forget “terrible twos,” it’s the threes that really get you! At least, that has been my experience so far.

Anyway, I started reading more parenting books, re-reading some of my old ones, and doing research on discipline methods. As an attachment parent, my first instinct has always been to try using “positive discipline” methods which do not include punishment. I’ve read books that have taught discipline methods such as simply staying calm, using specific ways of speaking, or relying on a toolbox of tricks. Some of them were helpful some of the time, but I struggled with not having a more streamlined, consistent, and most importantly effective way of disciplining. When my attempts at applying what I’ve learned failed, I would resort to anger, which wasn’t effective either and left me feeling guilty. (In other words, I’m the “bulldog” parent. Cory, on the other hand, tends to be the “pushover” parent.)

Finally, I found a resource that started to help. I found a website,, which provides a lot of realistic, practical, and evidence-based advice about a variety of parenting challenges. It helped me to better understand the developmental stage that Cody is in, and it also opened the door for me to accept that punishment, in the form of gentle consequences, does have a very important place in parenting. I highly recommend parents check it out to educate themselves and improve their parenting skills!

Still, even after my research, I was having a hard time applying a lot of what I learned to real-life situations with Cody. That’s when I came across a book called 1-2-3 Magic. I believe that this program is an answer to my prayers about how to handle Cody’s discipline! The ebook popped up as a suggestion for me when I was looking for a book to read on my tablet; I bought it and devoured it in two days. Since then, I have already seen excellent results, and I have felt very empowered and calm as a parent.

The 1-2-3 Magic system is simple, gentle, and effective. It involves cutting out unhelpful parental behaviors like nagging, yelling, lecturing, and spanking. Instead, discipline comes in the form of time-outs, or other consequences, which are enforced with very few words. There are also a handful of tools in the program for encouraging positive behavior. Most importantly, the program focuses on strengthening the parent-child bond, which is irreplaceable not only for disciplining effectively, but for enjoying our children!

We have been using 1-2-3 Magic for a week now, and of course we are still not perfect and never will be. But when we use it right, I am able to stay completely calm and still gain Cody’s compliance. It has honestly been a game-changer for me, even in this short amount of time. I was at the point where I admitted sadly to Cory that I wasn’t enjoying Cody anymore because of the constant struggles with his behavior. Now, I feel like a new parent, and I’ve been enjoying my son again because discipline is calm and quick. It is really a wonderful thing!

You can find out more about 1-2-3 Magic here. The book is available on every major ebook platform, or in physical form through many retailers. If it wasn’t clear already, I highly recommend this book for all parents!


There are no affiliate links in this post. I am simply a fan and I want to share my discovery!

Also note that 1-2-3 Magic is for children over the age of about 18 months to two years. “Discipline” for babies should consist mainly of prevention, redirection, and distraction. Consequences aren’t appropriate for these little ones, because they can’t understand at this age! 😉

Happy Second Birthday, Cody!

I am thrilled and also a little bit wistful to announce that Cody is officially two years old, which technically means he’s no longer a baby. How did that happen? It’s just crazy. Since he’s now past the most rapid stage of his development, I won’t be posting updates as frequently anymore, and will probably stick to a once-per-year reflection as he grows.

The past three months, Cody’s personality and his language development have both exploded {in a good way!} He’s becoming such a character, and he’s now saying new words every day. I find myself constantly amazed and delighted by new things he does!

Although he is somewhat quiet and timid in public, he is starting to come out of his shell. He is interacting with other kids and adults more, and he doesn’t get overwhelmed as easily was he used to. His personality at home is very playful, silly, affectionate, generally cooperative, and a bit mischievous.

Some of the silly and imaginative things he does are:

He insists on closing doors, if he notices they are open, and he has to do it by pulling the handle, which he can barely reach. It’s a bit of a process.

He imitates so much of what we do. He’ll copy us crossing our legs, “killing” a spider, dipping food in sauces, tickling {he copies the inchworm and spider fingers we use}, blowing on food to cool it down, exclaiming “hot!” and quickly pulling his hand back if something is hot {we keep him away from things that are hot enough to burn him, of course}

He does silly walks, like walking super slowly, marching, prancing, or doing a waddle-run.

He “sings” and hums, and dances to music.

He hits himself on the head {gently} and falls down. {I don’t know why but it’s funny!}

He has fake “crashes” on his scooter or anything he can ride on, by tipping it over and falling on the floor.

He makes a snoring sound for pretending to sleep.

He pretends his food is a car and drives it around the table before eating it, then says “bye bye car” after he eats it.

He can act sad very convincingly, including dramatic expressions and crying sounds—then he looks up, smiling at our reaction.

He organizes things into categories. We were amazed when he took it upon himself to organize our travel toiletries into piles, such as shampoos, deodorants, toothpaste, and even a “miscellaneous” pile.

He demonstrates problem solving skills. Recently, he wanted to go to the park, but we wouldn’t carry him and he didn’t want to walk himself. He led us to the closed garage and pointed until we opened it, then led us to the stroller and wanted to get in. We put him in and he pointed to the park, which we happily brought him to in the stroller. Cory and I were talking and didn’t even realize until later that he had orchestrated a solution to his problem all by himself!

Cody is also very sweet and affectionate. He gives kisses for ow-ies, including his own and others’. He makes a smooch sound when he gives kisses sometimes. He also blows kisses, gives hugs, and loves to snuggle. He sometimes tucks Cory’s or my arm around him when we snuggle at night, we think to prevent us from leaving.

Some of the less cute things he does are head butting, throwing toys and making messes on purpose, biting {he’s bitten three times, not hard enough to leave a mark, and seemingly out of curiosity}, being clingy, and throwing tantrums {almost always when he’s frustrated, tired, or hurting from teething}. All of these behaviors are things we’ve been able to manage pretty well with positive discipline. The clinginess is one of the ones that has been harder to deal with, because it’s partially a part of his developmental stage and need for security. At the same time, he is becoming more independent. He is easier to take places because he will sit in his stroller happily most of the time, or walk around holding one of our hands instead of demanding to be held all of the time.

Overall, Cody is a fairly cooperative boy. I don’t know how much of it is because of our parenting style or his natural disposition, but he generally listens and complies with our requests. Of course, there are times when he is contrary and not in the mood to cooperate, as all two-year-olds can be. Most of the time, though, he loves to help and try to do things for himself. He tries to help us put on his diapers and clothes, buckle him into seats, put groceries in the cart, and so on. As long as we have patience, things go pretty smoothly.

His new skills include running, climbing, walking on his tiptoes, coloring, painting, spinning a top, and riding his new standup scooter. His language skills are developing well, too. He chatters to himself in gibberish a lot more, and is saying a lot of new words. Some of his frequent new words are: uh-oh, bye, ow, paw, no-no, poopoo, booboo, car, door, two, hat, owl, and eyeball. He also can say, in his own way: hi (ha), cheese (chhhzzz), truck/chalk/work (gock), dagger (daga) {of all things}, trash (dash), and straw (sta). He can shake his head for no and nod for yes, and he still uses signs for “milky,” “again,” “more,” “down,” and “all done.” Beyond that, he understands hundreds of words and can identify them by pointing, proving to us that even though he can’t say that much yet, he does comprehend much of what we say.

Some other fun facts about Cody at age two:

For many months, Cody had a problem of stuffing too much food in his mouth at once and then gagging or spitting it out {which we called a “reset”}. Now, finally, he has learned to swallow normally and he’s been eating more as a result! In fact, I estimate that approximately 40% of his intake is from food now, and 60% from breastmilk. That’s great for him!

He is fascinated by whistling {Grandma Kim’s specialty}.

He loves watching movies on his tablet, and he even has preferences. His favorite movie by far is Home, but he also likes all three Toy Story movies, the Lion King, Inside Out, and Penguins of Madagascar to name a few.  Despite the warnings I hear frequently about limiting toddlers’ screen time, Cory and I have adopted a very laidback attitude towards it for now. The truth is, it’s a freaking lifesaver! Cody will happily sit and watch movies while I take showers, prepare meals, get chores done, or even just take a break and relax for a few minutes. Best of all, he is perfectly content in the car now, because we always put a movie on for him. It is amazing. And even though he spends probably more time watching a screen these days than I would like to admit, he also spends a lot of time doing other things like playing, enjoying the outdoors, eating, reading books, and of course sleeping. There are a lot of hours in the day! So I try to not feel guilty about it. He seems to me to be an incredibly smart and well-adjusted kid even with the basically unlimited screen time.

Last but not least, I present the stats! Cody now weighs 24 ½ pounds and is holding steady at 2’8” tall. He has still never had a haircut, because his hair has taken a long time to come in. It’s blonde, thin, and getting pretty long on the sides and back… and I love it! We plan to let it grow. =D

I love my boy so much. Aside from the newborn stage, I think this is my favorite stage yet. He’s so much fun and he delights me with his blossoming personality. I can’t wait to see who he develops into in the months and years to come. <3

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The Baby Years

As Cody’s baby years come to a close, I can look back and say that there are some things I loved so much about this precious time, and other things that I didn’t enjoy quite so much. Here are the top ten things that I will and won’t miss from the first two years of Cody’s life.

  1. I will miss “milk naps.” Those times when he would fall asleep nursing and we would just sit in our chair together. Sometimes I would doze off myself, and other times I would sit and gaze at his sweet, sleeping face, or read a book and enjoy the closeness. Now, he only takes one nap a day and I usually need that time for myself, so when he falls asleep nursing I transfer him to the bed. Eventually, he will stop falling asleep nursing altogether, and after that he will wean completely and our nursing relationship will end. That’s going to be a sad day for me! Luckily, that’s not happening yet, since we’re planning to keep nursing as long as we both enjoy it. But I will miss those milk naps!
  2. I will miss being able to easily hold him in my arms. He’s already outgrown baby-wearing, and I miss that. Eventually, he will be too heavy to hold for more than a few minutes, and he’ll be more independent and won’t want to be held often anyway. I am so going to miss those full-body snuggles when I’m holding him tight and gently rocking him before bedtime.
  3. I will miss rocking him to sleep. Although this was often Cory’s job, I have also enjoyed countless occasions of rocking my sweet boy to sleep. Usually these days, he falls asleep snuggling with daddy in bed, and rarely wants to be rocked any more.
  4. I will miss his little baby clothes. Some things they just don’t make for kids past infancy, like onesies and rompers. Or if they do, it’s a little bit odd. Either way, his clothes are getting bigger and they’re just not as cute in my opinion.
  5. I will miss spending almost all of my time with Cody. Eventually, we will have another baby and Cody will have to share my attention. As he grows older, he will want to do more independent activities as well.
  6. I won’t miss having very little time to myself. I will enjoy being able to leave Cody with a babysitter and go out with Cory for a date night more often. I will enjoy being able to get stuff done around the house without watching Cody as closely, or having him clinging onto me.
  7. I won’t miss changing diapers. Even though we’ve saved a ton of money by using cloth diapers, I won’t miss the constant laundry, or the unpleasant chore of cleaning older-baby poop off diapers, or even just changing them in general. It will be so nice to have a potty-trained child who takes care of his own elimination needs!
  8. I won’t miss nighttime wakings. A full 8-hours of uninterrupted sleep? Oh my heaven. I can’t wait. (On the other hand, I won’t have to miss co-sleeping, because we’re not stopping that! We love sharing a bed with our little guy, and can’t wait to {safely} add another little one to our {huge} family bed, whenever that may happen).
  9. I won’t miss drool, spit-up, and boogers. Yes, I know older kids still puke on you sometimes, but for the most part, the amount of bodily fluids seems to taper off significantly. That’ll be nice.
  10. I won’t miss being unable to communicate verbally with my child. When he can finally talk, I think it will be a big step up. On the other hand, I’ve been told that once they start, they never stop. So there’s that… plus, I also hear that communication may come to a halt once again during the teenage years. 😉 But for a while at least, I think it will be an improvement!

So there you have it. I have loved the baby years, but there are definitely positive changes ahead. Onward through our parenting adventure!

Happy 21 Months Birthday, Cody!

On Saturday, Cody turned 21 months old. That means he’s in his very last season of infanthood! How crazy is that?

In many ways, Cody is acting more and more like a child and less like a baby these days. In other ways, he’s still a baby and I’m enjoying those things as much as I can because I know they will be gone soon. Here are some of the highlights of what Cody has been up to for the past 3 months.

Cody is officially done with his baby shots. He won’t need any more vaccinations until he’s 5 years old, which is refreshing! He now weighs 23 pounds and is 32 inches tall, which is small for his age but not alarmingly so (he has slender parents and a short mom, after all). He’s been eating more solid foods slowly but surely, though for now he’s still almost exclusively eating foods from the grains and dairy food groups. He still nurses often, and I haven’t noticed a decrease in the frequency over the past year or so. We have no plans to wean anytime soon. Although some people may find it odd to nurse past infancy, our nursing relationship is very comfortable and important to both of us. Plus, it’s good for him!

He still naps once a day for about 2-3 hours in the early afternoon, which I so appreciate. Those nap times are important times for me to get stuff done and recharge. His bedtime is around 8:30, but he can sometimes take up to an hour to fall asleep. We put him to sleep by nursing, followed by rocking, then snuggling in bed. He’s still sleeping in our bed, by our own choice, because we love co-sleeping. As with nursing, we have no plans to end that any time soon, despite the fact that he still wakes up frequently at night to nurse, around 3 times. While it’s possible he would be sleeping through the night in his own bed by this age, we can’t know that for sure, and we treasure the closeness we have with him at night with our current setup. Plus, we all get enough sleep even with minor disruptions for nursing.

Lately, however, it’s been rough because he’s teething and it wakes him up more frequently, and sometimes he wakes up crying, which is not what I like to deal with in the middle of the night. Nursing every 30 minutes to 1 hour isn’t exactly conducive to a good night’s sleep, either. But we all know that this phase will pass, as soon as those second molars finally come in.

Cody is now starting to grow out of his 24 month size clothes, which means he will finally be in true toddler clothes—size 2T! and he will probably need to move up to size 7 shoes (toddler size) pretty soon too. We even have to switch him over to children’s medicines now instead of infant’s. It really hits you from every angle how quickly kids grow up!

Cody’s growing up in other ways, too. He’s good at sharing, often cooperates when we ask him to do things, can follow simple instructions, and tries to help us with simple chores. He also imitates tons of new sounds, from coughing to sound effects for pretend cooking to animal sounds. His favorite sounds are a lion rawr, a dog bark, and of course, vacuuming. (Everything can be used as a pretend vacuum, according to him.)

As much as he’s maturing, he’s also very much a toddler beginning the dreaded “terrible twos.” While this stage has many fun and enjoyable aspects, it also is filled with tantrums, defiance, frustration, random crying spells, unbelievably clingy days, and a bad attitude we sometimes just call “the mood.” A lot of these problems are the result of him being in pain because of teething, and we can tell a lot of it is also an expression of the frustration he’s feeling at being unable to communicate verbally or control his world. It’s not easy being almost-two!

On the other hand, he could be a lot worse. He’s such a sweet, silly, smart, and fun little guy. He loves being the center of attention and doing random goofy things to make us laugh. He gets really excited and giggles when he’s offered a food he likes, such as chocolate or “milky.” He also now uses “dada” and “mama” correctly, and has several different inflections he uses to communicate what he wants. He likes to chatter to himself, and yell and scream for fun. He can identify many people by pointing at them when their names are said, and he understands a great deal of the things we say, even if he can’t talk himself yet.

Some of his favorite things to do are play with water, ride his sit-down “scooter” around the house, play with the dog food, pet the guinea pigs, harass the dogs, play with his toys, and explore outside.

The next time I post a Cody update, he’ll be two years old. How exciting! Before then, I also plan to post a reflection on his baby years, and our experience of this stage of his life before we move on to what’s ahead. 🙂

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Happy 18 Months Birthday, Cody!

This week, Cody turned 1 ½! It’s hard to believe he’s already halfway through his second year. He’s becoming more and more of a “big boy” and less of a baby every day. It’s sad, but also exciting!

Here are some of his impressive accomplishments for the past three months:

He can point out almost 20 different body parts on himself and others when asked.

He can identify himself and others by pointing. (Where’s Cody? Where’s grandma? Etc.)

He can sign “all done,” “again,” “more,” “eat,” and “down,” along with his old signs “dada,” “milk,” and “ball.”

He finally signed “dada” while saying “dada” instead of saying “mama.”

He can follow simple instructions such as “close/open that,” “put that back/down,” “go around,” “don’t touch,” and “go get that.”

He cooperates and helps us with things like getting him dressed, getting him in his carseat, and putting his shoes on.

He sometimes helps clean up his toys.

He tries to play peek-a-boo with his hands and behind curtains or doors.

He is starting to try to use a spoon.

He takes our hand to lead us places.

He gives high-fives, low-fives, and waves bye-bye.

He makes “mmm” noises when he eats a food he likes.

He tries to tickle himself and others.

He imitates “gentle touch” when we use his hand to show him (especially when petting the dogs).

He imitates a lot of the things we do, such as vacuuming, brushing Sky, and cleaning.

He is good at sharing usually. *I hope to explain more about what sharing means for us later.

He tells us sometimes when he goes potty, and likes to practice sitting on his potty chair.

He has peed once and pooped once in his potty chair!


Some of Cody’s silly antics lately:

He likes to act goofy and try to make us laugh.

He loves to snuggle and “wrestle” on the couch and bed.

He loves running around the house, playing with the dogs, and exploring outside.

He enjoys bike rides. (He rides in a seat on dad’s bike.)

He prances, basically runs, walks backward, and spins in circles.

He loves to be chased.

He absolutely loves when he has both mine and Cory’s full attention and when we give him kisses and snuggles.

He loves piggy back rides and shoulder rides, and will try to climb on when he wants one.

He sometimes giggles and makes sounds in his sleep.


Some of Cody’s challenging behaviors:

He still has clingy days, where he wants to be held A LOT.

He sometimes tests limits and ignores our commands – he’s a toddler after all. 😉

He whines a lot. WORST NOISE EVER.

He can be very aggressive with me and Cory and the dogs.

He can be very demanding about nursing at times.

Physically, Cody’s growth has slowed down a lot, which is fairly normal for this age. I suspect that he’s growing into his body type, which will likely be slender since Cory and I are both slender. His weight at his 18 month checkup was 21 pounds and 10 ounces, and his height was 2’8”. That means he gained only four ounces in the past three months, and he grew just over an inch. He is now in the 16th percentile for weight, 31st percentile for height, and his head is slightly more proportional in the 91st percentile now. Cody has almost all of his teeth, but he’s still working on those second molars. He had a hard week of teething last week, but they haven’t quite come through yet.

Cody is eating a little bit more, but nowhere near a complete diet of food. We offer him bits of whatever we’re eating, but he mostly only eats breads, pastas, cereals, yogurt, cheese, and sweets. He did willingly eat his first vegetable recently, and he fed himself a piece of fruit, too. Generally though, we have to feed him or he will play with and throw his food and not eat any at all. He’s still nursing of course, and the majority of his nutrition comes from my milk.

He’s been sleeping perhaps slightly better during naps and bedtime. He goes down fairly easily for both. Occasionally, he’ll mix things up by skipping his nap altogether or taking it several hours off schedule. Typically, though, he takes his 1 ½ to 3 hour nap around noon. We are pretty consistent about his bedtime being 8:30, which is the time he should be in bed and sleeping. For his naps, I nurse him to sleep most days, or he falls asleep in the car on the way home from our morning activity. For bedtime, I nurse him and then dad rocks him to sleep. At night, he tends to wake up 3-4 times total which at this point is no big deal for me. Being that he sleeps in our bed and nurses back to sleep, the wakings aren’t too disruptive and I feel like I get a good nights’ sleep usually.

Cody is wearing 18 month size clothes, and isn’t ready to move up quite yet, except for his 24 month size plain white onesies which we use as pajamas. He wears “big boy” shoes now with solid bottoms, rather than the flexible shoes he used to wear, and he’s wearing a size 6. We’ve been using cloth diapers less and disposable diapers more now that he needs much less frequent changes and we’re out and about so much more. He wears a size 4 diaper, and I don’t see him going up a size for a very long time, if ever. We will probably potty train him before that.

On the topic of potty training, some people are surprised when they see his potty chair or hear me talking about him using the potty at this age. Typically, potty training doesn’t start until 2 years old or sometimes later. However, what we’re doing isn’t really “potty training” so much as it is simply getting him used to the idea of using the potty and recognizing his bodily processes. We actually call it “potty learning,” and we’ve been very casual about it thus far. Sometimes, between diaper changes or when we’re just hanging out around the house, we let him go diaper-free and encourage him to sit on the potty if he wants to. We’re going to continue doing this for a while and see where it takes us. We’re not in any hurry to potty train Cody before he’s ready—we’re just encouraging him and introducing him to the idea, since he’s shown interest in learning.

That’s about it! He’s adorable as ever, and dare I say things are getting somewhat easier. Or, maybe I’ve just become acclimated to the challenge—sort of like a callus develops over time as a result of agitation. Cody’s certainly given me plenty of agitation, so I must be a callus by now. 😉 As in most cases, I think this “callus” is definitely worth it.

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Happy 15 Months Birthday, Cody!

As of January 16, Cody is officially 15 months old. It’s already been a season since he turned one, and he’s definitely becoming more of a toddler and less of a baby every day.

In the past three months, Cody has demonstrated some very silly, cute, and smart behaviors. The list is long, so here we go:

He likes to do “downward dog,” AKA standing with his butt in the air and looking upside down at things between his legs. He can walk backwards, turn in circles, navigate difficult terrain and get around obstacles, and get up and down steps with little help. He loves to play on the couch and can almost climb on and off of it by himself. He likes to walk around the house with his shoes on—he will bring us his shoes so we will put them on him and then walk around with a satisfied smile. He also likes to walk around with adult shoes on, or put our shoes on his hands, or put things in our shoes. He loves to throw his toys and other things he can get his hands on down the stairs through the rails of the baby gate. He loves to push things, and climb things. He loves to snuggle us, the dogs, and sometimes his toys.

One not-so-cute thing he has learned to do is to hit when he’s angry. He also throws small tantrums, which usually involve him sitting down on the floor in protest. He can cry very loudly when he’s unhappy with us. He also fights going to bed now, I suspect because he doesn’t want to miss out on all the fun.

He often plays with his ears or his “anomalies,” (see my post called The Anomaly if you don’t know what I’m talking about.) He is starting to put his finger in his nose—oh, great! He mimics many things we do, including pretending to eat food and cook in his play kitchen, which we got him for Christmas. He tries to brush his hair and his teeth. He tries to snap his fingers when he sees us doing it. He is starting to wave and say “bye bye.” He understands what “watch your step” means. He picks up pieces of trash and brings them to us, or sometimes to the trash can to throw them away. He gives kisses with his mouth closed, and if you say “kiss” he will lean in. He also gives hugs when asked, sometimes. He loves pointing to everything so we will tell him what it is, including our noses, eyes, mouths, eyebrows, and especially things around the house. He calls me and Cory both “mama,” and sometimes other people too. He tries to sign “mama” and “dada” when he sees us doing it.

He has 14 teeth total now, out of 20 baby teeth that he will most likely have in by the time he’s 2 ½ years old. For now, he has all eight incisors, the top two canines and one bottom canine, and three of his first molars. He’s working on his fourth canine and fourth molar, which are close to coming through. There is no sign of any of his second molars yet, which means we might get a nice little break from teething for a while.

He is eating food finally, in small amounts. He doesn’t usually eat much of the fruits and veggies we give him, at least not yet, but he sure loves bread and chocolate—just like mom and dad! 😉

He still nurses a lot, which ensures that he’s getting the proper nutrition despite his picky eating.

His sleep hasn’t improved much, but it’s to the point of an acceptable imperfection most of the time. He nurses about three to four times each night, but the first time is when I go to bed and the last time is when I’m waking up in the morning, so really he only wakes me up twice at night. He goes to bed between 8 and 8:30, and wakes up sometime between 6:30 to 8. He takes one nap during the day, usually around noon, for about an hour and a half to two hours. Occasionally, he still takes a super long three hour nap, which is a nice treat for me!

He weighs about 22 pounds and is about 29 inches tall.

One of the best changes we’re starting to notice as he gets older is that he is finally becoming less clingy and less prone to separation anxiety. He lets many different people hold him now, including people he doesn’t know that well. We can even leave him with trusted people for short periods of time, perhaps up to an hour, without him crying. Progress! We’ve had two date nights in the past three months that have been really refreshing for us. 🙂

That’s it for now! We’re doing well and Cody’s growing into a happy, smart, sweet little boy.



Milky Monster

My son has always been very non-textbook. Baby books and online information tend to give lots of basic timelines about when babies do certain things in their lives, as well as other things that babies “should” do. They should start to sleep through the night between 3 and 12 months, but usually by 6 months. They will be ready for solids at 6 months. They should start teething around 6 months and get two teeth at a time every month or so. Yada yada yada. It’s all lies!

The reality is that there is practically no “normal” with babies because they are so very different and individual. There are easy babies, high-need babies, and babies in between, and within those “types” there are countless variations when it comes to everything from personality, sleeping habits, and eating habits, to developmental milestones and anything else you could think of. The point is, babies are all different. Yet a ridiculous amount of time and worry is spent over comparing babies to the non-existent normal.

For me, the biggest “concern” right now is Cody’s diet. He is still almost exclusively breastfed, by his own choice and in fact, insistence. He’s all about the milk! We offer him soft foods and finger foods, and occasionally even puréed baby food, multiple times a day. He will play with it, mush it, throw it, feed it to the dogs, and even taste it, but he never gets serious about really eating it. In American and modern culture, babies are often weaned completely off of breast milk or formula by 12 months, so having a baby who is now over 13 months and hasn’t even truly started solids is somewhat disconcerting. Yet from the beginning, I’ve been told over and over that breast milk is a baby’s perfect food—I have a hard time buying that suddenly at 6 months, it’s not enough, especially considering that babies were designed to nurse for much longer than that.

Although I’m not incredibly concerned personally, because I know that Cody’s doing just fine, I sometimes start to worry or feel impatient anyway. These feelings stem from two main sources: social and cultural influences, and my desire to have another baby.

When people, from extended family to other moms, hear that Cody is still exclusively breastfed, they often react with shock and concern. Reading the aforementioned baby books and online information makes it seem like Cody is another species of baby so rare that it’s not even worth mentioning him. And while my pediatrician happens to be fairly mellow and reasonable, I have to expect that by our next appointment when Cody is most likely still not going to be eating solids, even he will start to be worried. Everywhere I look, I feel like I’m being told that something is wrong with this situation.

Because I firmly believe breast milk continues to be the perfect food for babies past 6 months and even a year, I’m still pretty much at peace with Cody’s unique timeline. Those voices around me do sneak into my head sometimes, but for the most part, I don’t worry. But where I’m truly starting to feel impatient is in the arena of wanting another baby. Because Cody is not only still nursing, but nursing full-time, it is extremely unlikely for me to be able to get pregnant at this time. And although originally Cory and I had planned to have a four year age gap between our children, ever since Cody was born and we’ve watched him grow so fast over the past year, we’ve wanted another one sooner. Well, be careful what you wish for I guess, because at this rate Cody won’t be weaned until he’s 2 or 3, and we may end up with an almost 4 year age gap after all. =J

In the end, I am committed to respecting Cody’s timetable. I do not want to cut him off in terms of nursing, nor do I want to kick him out of our bed at night, which means that nursing will likely continue for quite a while longer, especially at night. (Which also means he probably won’t start sleeping through the night anytime soon either). That’s okay though—he needs as much milk as be can get until he’s ready to start eating solids for real. Even though we want another baby, I care even more about giving the very best to the one we have already. This is what he needs from me right now, and I’m happy to give it. <3


P.S. I’m hoping to post again soon about my take on the nutritional completeness of breast milk, and what if any supplements really are necessary, so stay tuned for that!

The Anomaly

When Cody was born, the doctors were worried at first. Doctors worrying over things that don’t need to be worried over is nothing new, of course. But in this case, they were worried because of a small birth defect they noticed. He had some trouble breathing when he first came out, and they thought that he may have had a defect in his trachea because of the defect that they could see on the side of his neck. Of course, everything turned out to be fine, and there is nothing wrong with his trachea. He was simply born with a little, benign growth on his neck and another smaller one next to his ear.

Cory and I have never been too concerned over his “skin tag” as we used to call it. We didn’t think it was a problem (and we were right), so it took us 10 months or so to get around to taking him to an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist to get it officially checked out, as recommended by Cody’s pediatrician. When we finally did take him, the doctor almost immediately told us what it was—a second branchial cleft anomaly. He recommended surgery to remove it, preferably (for him, the surgeon) soon.

When we got home, of course, I researched as much as I could about his “anomaly.” It didn’t take long for me and Cory to decide that no, we would not be putting our infant through surgery to remove it. As it turns out, these things are benign and the only reason for removing them is because of the possibility of infection. Well, if and when it becomes infected, that is when we will consider the necessity of surgery. The idea of Cody having surgery made me so anxious, it was a huge relief when we decided against it, at least for the time being.

But I was still confused about one thing. In my research on second branchial cleft anomalies, I found over and over again that they come in three forms: cysts, sinuses, or fistulas. Basically, when the baby is developing in the womb there are branchial clefts that develop into different parts of the inner face and neck. This particular defect occurs when the second branchial cleft doesn’t develop quite right. It can appear as a cyst, which is a fluid-filled lump under the skin, or as a sinus, which is a sort of groove in the tissue of the neck, or as a fistula, which as far as I understand it is a tube-like passageway (fistulas are extremely rare, apparently). The problem for me was that Cody’s “anomaly” was not any of these things. It’s like a large skin tag, not filled with fluid, and it has cartilage at the base. He also has a smaller skin tag right in front of his ear on the same side. None of the material I read on second branchial cleft anomalies included what looks like a skin tag or a growth as a possible form.

I put the issue aside for a long time, but today I was curious so I did some more research. It took me a very long time to find it, but I finally found out that Cody’s birth defect isn’t exactly a second branchial cleft anomaly, or at least not a typical one, but it’s actually called a— (get ready, this is a mouthful)— cervical chondrocutaneous branchial remnant with an associated preauricular tag. Let’s break this down, shall we?

“Cervical” means neck, “chondro” means cartilage, “cutaneous” means skin, and “branchial remnant” refers to the whole embryonic development mishap in the branchial cleft that I explained before, resulting in an “anomaly” or unusual formation. Altogether, it’s a perfect description of Cody’s growth. They are also most common in boys, always congenital (present at birth), and often come with another related defect. The skin tag next to Cody’s ear is commonly associated with these branchial remnants, and it’s called “preauricular” meaning “in front of the ear.” For an extremely rare and largely undocumented birth defect, Cody seems to be a textbook example.

Although I’m not sure why these types of anomalies aren’t mentioned in any of the research I found on second branchial cleft anomalies, from what I can tell, it still is one. Which means this information doesn’t change anything, except that it gives me more understanding and peace about it. Having a name for it, and knowing that yes, it is in fact benign, is very comforting for me.

I wanted to write this because I thought it was interesting, and also because there may be parents out there whose children have the same thing that Cody has, and who are frustrated by the confusing information on the internet (and possibly from their own doctors) about what exactly it is. So now you know! Yay, information!

The comforting reality is that these “anomalies” are not a health problem unless they become infected. Cysts, which contain fluid, can often become infected, but this a chondrocutaneous remnant, made up of cartilage and skin, not a cyst. Realistically, the only reason to have them removed is for aesthetic purposes. To put a baby through surgery for such a minor aesthetic purpose seems strange to me, but I’m not here to judge other parents for their choices. For me and Cory, though, we have decided that since there is no health risk, we aren’t going to have surgery for Cody until he is old enough to decide for himself. If, when he’s older, he feels self-conscious about it and wants to have it removed, we will support that. Honestly, it is my hope that we can raise him with enough confidence to not be bothered by it. But again, if having it removed will make him feel better about himself, I can live with that too. For now, I think he’s perfect just the way he is. 🙂