Category: Parenting

Spin the Wheel

It’s been a hot minute since I posted, and it’s not been for lack of inspiration. I have a note on my phone with seven different posts I want to write! But, life has been crazy. I’m fairly certain that life will be crazy for the foreseeable future. 

Life with five kids is a lot. For me, going from two to three was a challenging transition, and then going from three to four was just the gradual process of becoming a parental figure to my stepdaughter, Penny. She’s our oldest, so it wasn’t exactly the same as adding a new baby to the family. 

With Finley, I really feel the five. FIVE. It’s grueling, to be honest. 

You would think that co-parenting with four parents would be easier in a way. We only have four of our kids about 50% of the time, because the other 50% they are with their other parents. And in some ways, it is pretty awesome. We get to have some quiet nights with just Finley, and some nights with just Finley and Penny, and some nights with the Westys (that’s what we call my three kiddos from my previous marriage) and Finley, which is a different dynamic than when we have all five. 

Having times without all of the kids gives me and RJ the ability to decompress a bit and recharge for the next time we have them. When we have all of them, we call it “Kid Chaos,” and the name is fitting. It can feel a tad chaotic when you’re holding a baby, two kids are crying at once, and the other two are asking you for things. Oh, and there’s poop, too. Where? Just everywhere. In diapers, unflushed in toilets, in the dog’s crate, possibly on me somewhere. It’s par for the course. 

So the days when we have fewer kids are really helpful for our sanity—or what’s left of it.

But, in other ways, our co-parenting lifestyle is more challenging. The scheduling alone could be an Olympic sport. Even as someone who enjoys organization and lists and calendars and schedules, I can’t always keep track of who’s supposed to be where and when. I absolutely hate being the one who dropped the ball in the parenting game. 

The hardest part, though, is the emotional side of things. 

My mental state is drastically affected by which kids are with me on any given day. When it’s Kid Chaos, I automatically go into Mom Boss mode. I summon the patience and energy to keep things running (mostly) smoothly. I pull out some of my best parenting tactics and often find myself satisfied with my work at the end of the day. 

But, if Kid Chaos goes on too long, I run out of steam. I sometimes describe stress to my kids like air in a balloon. If you’re blowing up a balloon, and you keep adding more and more air, eventually it’s going to burst. If you stop adding air, and maybe even let some out, then you will be able to fill it up again later without it bursting. All the things in life that cause stress are like air that you’re adding to your balloon. Taking time to release some of that pressure—to pause, rest, and recharge—is important to prevent a blowup, AKA an emotional meltdown. 

So, needless to say, when Kid Chaos goes on longer than my personal balloon can handle, it doesn’t end well. Those are the days that I consider “bad parenting” days. Am I too hard on myself? Possibly. But in any case, yelling at my kids is not something I want to do, ever. So when I fail at keeping myself regulated and end up adding to the chaos with my own out-of-control emotions, I consider that a parenting fail.

When it’s time to bring the Westys to their dad, I usually have a complex tangle of emotions to process. I feel relief, because I can finally let some air out of my balloon. Even if my balloon didn’t survive, well, at least I have time to acquire a new one. (Metaphorically speaking…) When I get a break, I have a chance to mentally recover from any bad moments I had with the kids. That brings a sense of relief, because God only knows I need those breaks. 

But the feeling of relief is very quickly followed by guilt. Mom-guilt is a powerful force, and I have loads of it. There’s guilt over feeling relieved that I get a break from my kids. There’s guilt over needing a break at all. There’s guilt that I’m only half of a parent to the Westys, because I’m only with them half of the time—I know that this isn’t true, but it’s what that little voice in my head tells me. 

There’s guilt in knowing that our divorce has caused and continues to cause pain to my children, because they are sometimes upset during the transitions and often miss the parent who they aren’t with. There’s guilt in hearing my kids tell me that they wish we all lived together. There’s guilt in every meltdown, misbehavior, and moment of conflict, because what if it was caused by the trauma of our divorce? 

Guilt is heavy, indeed. 

Plain and simple sadness is also entangled in the ball of emotions. I’m sad that I’m not with my kids. I’m sad and nostalgic about the simplicity of our lives when we were a nuclear family. I’m sad knowing in my heart that Cory and I were not meant for each other forever, and nothing that I did or he did would have changed that. I’m sad knowing that the first part of my adult life was spent with Cory instead of RJ, and that the first part of RJ’s adult life was spent with Amber instead of me, and knowing that I still wouldn’t change a single thing because it brought me my kids exactly as they are. 

I’m sad that out of all our kids, only one will know what it’s like to have an intact family. I’m sad that I’ve done to my kids the one thing I never, ever wanted to do to them—and vowed never to do!—because I didn’t want them to experience the pain that I experienced as a child. I’m sad because I know that life just isn’t as simple as I once believed, and we can only do our best, and nothing is guaranteed, and things change in ways we can’t predict. 

I often find that when I’m with my kids, I feel stressed and overwhelmed, and yet somehow also energized and motivated. But when I’m not with all of them, I feel relieved, and yet also sad and anxious and depressed. It becomes this paradox where “I can’t live with them, and can’t live without them,” as they say. I’m unhappy in both situations, just in different ways. 

It can feel like each day I’m just spinning a wheel to see what it lands on. Chaos? Stress? Guilt? Sadness? Depression? Anxiety? 

Which will it be today? 

Of course, those aren’t the only things I feel. I feel joy and excitement, amusement, contentedness, satisfaction, and so many more positive things when I’m with my kids. They make me laugh, delight me with their adorableness, and warm my heart with their sweetness. Above all, when I’m with my kids, I feel love.

There is no love like a parent’s love for their child. I would do anything—anything—for my kids, and my highest priority in life is to take care of them. But also, there is no love like a child’s love for their parent. To your child, you are a hero. You are the one human in the world (or one of a very select few) that they need and love more than any other. You are the world to them. Even when they say they hate you, or that you’re mean, or any other angry and thoughtless thing that kids can sometimes spew at us parents, we still know that they love us and will forgive us. We can mess up again and again and again, but as long as we do our best and try, our kids will still think we hung the moon. That is such a privilege. 

To love and be loved as a mother is the most priceless gift. Despite the immense challenges that come with parenthood, I wouldn’t give it up for anything. My kids are my biggest source of both pain and joy in my daily life. They are everything.

So, onward I march. I’ll continue to take my days as they come, one at a time. I’ll continue to spin the wheel. Or maybe the wheel is spinning me? At this point, I don’t think it really matters. I’m just along for the ride. 

{Room} Sharing is Caring

Almost a year ago, we decided to move Cody and Abigail out of our bedroom and into their own. Before that, Cody had been sleeping in a twin bed which was pushed up against our king, and Abigail slept in bed with us (she was still nursing at the time). We decided we were ready to have our own space back in our bedroom, and we converted our master closet to an office for Cory so that the second bedroom could be used for the kids.

When we gave them their own bedroom, we knew it would be a process to get them to sleep in their own beds. We started with one of us lying in bed with one of them until they fell asleep each night—usually Cory with Cody and me with Abigail, since I often could nurse her to sleep still. Then, we would sneak out and go to our own bedroom after they fell asleep.

Later, when they inevitably woke up in the middle of the night, Cody was allowed to come sleep in a cot by our bed, while I often ended up going back to Abigail’s bed to nurse her back to sleep. It wasn’t uncommon for me to stay there most of the night. After I weaned her in preparation for becoming pregnant again, she woke up slightly less often, but I still spent many nights in her bed because she wanted the closeness. 

More recently, we started the process of weaning Cody off of being cuddled to sleep. We knew that with Amelia on the way, it was time for him to graduate to going to sleep on his own. We took several weeks to gradually shorten the time Cory spent laying in his bed, and at the same time we started weaning Abigail off of needing me to lay with her all night. Instead, Cory would move from Cody’s bed to hers after the prescribed time, and I would be able to leave the room. 

Finally we got to the point where Cody was going to sleep on his own, with Cory putting Abigail to sleep in her bed. But even then, Cody would come to our room 90% of nights to sleep in his cot, and Abigail would come to our room every single night to sleep in our bed.

Transitioning Abigail to sleeping in her cot in our room instead of our bed was the next step, and necessary before we were going to have a new baby in our bed. Unfortunately, our attempts didn’t go well! She got out of her cot over and over to ask why she couldn’t get in our bed. I wasn’t getting sleep, and neither was she. Even Cody was still complaining often about being lonely and scared at night before he came to our room. And with the door opening and closing multiple times every night, sometimes paired with a mischievous cat sneaking into the room or repeated reminders needed for the sleepy kids to close the door, I can say it was not very restful! 

Not only am I already getting up multiple times each night to go to the bathroom, and often struggling with pregnancy insomnia, but I was being woken up several more times by the kids’ antics. I knew that once Amelia is here, our system would be very disruptive for her sleep as well.

So, we decided to make a big change. In our new house, we have a rather large master bedroom, with a nook off on one side that just so happens to be the perfect size for a twin bed. And so, after almost a year of trying to convince the kids to sleep in their own room with little success, we decided to officially room-share as a way to finally wean Abigail from co-sleeping and bring peace to our nighttime sleep arrangements. Cody’s loft bed fits perfectly over Abigail’s twin, off to the side in our room, and our room still feels like ours. The kids’ room is still where they keep their clothes and toys, and one of the places they play during the day. Our room is only where they sleep.

Since making the change, Cody has been much more confident about bedtime and the idea of sleeping by himself. Cory still lays with Abigail until she falls asleep, which is often only a few minutes. The best part is, both kids now stay in their own beds all night long! Abigail does occasionally get up and need a reminder to get back in bed, but she doesn’t fight it. I’m confident it will stop as she gets more adjusted to the new arrangement. 

This change has allowed us to be ready to welcome Amelia, without having to force Cody and Abi into nighttime independence before they feel ready. Some parents prefer to use sleep training techniques to teach their children to sleep on their own—and I’m not judging those parents by any means! In fact, sometimes I envy them. But Cory and I have always tried to support our particular kids’ high emotional needs, even when it’s not convenient for us. I just don’t have it in me to shut them out of our room at night when I know that they’re scared and lonely and craving the comfort of their parents. For us, extended nighttime parenting has been a way of life that we’ve embraced. That’s just our choice as parents and our way of doing what we hope is best for them.

Deciding to move back to room-sharing after having the kids in their own bedroom for almost a year was a hard decision for us at first. We worried that we were taking a step back instead of making progress, and that other people wouldn’t understand our decision. But really, who cares what other people think, especially about our family’s choice of sleeping arrangements? We know that this makes the most sense for us, and is a step in the right direction because everyone in our home is able to sleep better this way. 

One concern a lot of people seem to have about co-sleeping is the effect it can have on marital intimacy. I have to say that in my experience, intimacy has been less affected when we room-shared than when we didn’t, because our kids tend to fall asleep faster and easier, and stay asleep better, when they feel safe and secure in our room. It then becomes a simple matter of “sneaking” out of the room for some private time, and then sneaking back in later with no children the wiser. (When our babies are little, we’ve had a baby monitor on them to ensure that they are safe while unattended in the adult bed, which also has side rails to keep them from falling off.) 

When Cody and Abigail were sleeping in their own room, they were more likely to take longer to fall asleep or wake up sooner after falling asleep than we needed them to, and there would often be no opportunity for alone time. Even when the timing all worked out, it wasn’t any harder or easier to prioritize intimacy simply because the kids weren’t in our bedroom. As long as a secondary private and comfortable space in our home has been available, such as a guest bedroom, there hasn’t been a problem. For us, co-sleeping is not a barrier to having a healthy sex life, and if anything it has helped make us more intentional about it.

In a few years, we will have to revisit moving the kids to their own bedrooms to sleep. We’d like to become foster parents when Amelia is weaned and ready to stop co-sleeping, and in order to do that we will need to move the kids out of our bedroom—because foster parents are not allowed to practice co-sleeping or room-sharing, even with their biological children. But until then, we will enjoy the solution that we have found to work well for us. 

Truth be told, we love having our kids close by at night, knowing they are safe and sound and sleeping happily. With Amelia, as with Cody and Abigail when they were babies, we are planning to have her in our bed with us to facilitate easier nighttime nursing and care.

On a side note, the idea that I could possibly roll over onto my baby is ridiculous to me, because I have always been extremely aware of where my baby is at night. Maybe it’s a factor of breastfeeding, but if I can wake up instantly at the slightest wiggle hinting that my baby might want to nurse, then I’m quite sure I would never be able to squish her accidentally. Parents who take sleep medications, are obese, drink, or use drugs should not co-sleep—this is true. Having a safe sleep surface is also important. But breastfeeding moms who co-sleep following the proper guidelines are safe candidates for co-sleeping, and I stand by that! Getting enough sleep with a baby who breastfeeds through the night would be impossible for me without bed-sharing, and I know that a well-rested mom is also best for baby’s safety and well-being.

Sleeping snuggled up with my babies, and waking up next to their sweet little faces, has been one of the most special parts of early parenting for me. I will continue to treasure it for as long as I can with my final biological baby. 

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.

I Am Positive

A couple of weeks ago, I hit a wall with my parenting strategies. Specifically with discipline, I realized that what we have been doing is not working. I suddenly saw our interactions with the kids and our methods for handling misbehavior as if from an outsider’s perspective, and I didn’t like what I saw.

For about two years now, we have been using 1-2-3 Magic as our main form of a discipline system. This involves counting to three and giving timeouts for misbehaviors. Of course, to be fair, 1-2-3 Magic includes a lot more than that—the system is also full of tools for encouraging good behavior, fostering strong relationships between parents and children, and reducing negative interactions between parents and children.

Using 1-2-3 Magic properly, parents would not yell, nag, lecture, shame, or disrespect their children. Unfortunately, at least for me and Cory, we have found it impossible to use correctly. We had developed a habit of using a disrespectful tone and unkind words with our children, and even yelling at them, on a regular basis. One day I just realized that it was all falling apart.

As is my typical response, I turned to research. I decided it was time to look for something better. That was when I found Positive Parenting Solutions, and the online parenting course that they offer. I signed up and started learning all that I could right away.

It took me a week to complete the course, and I did spend a lot of time working through the material. I’ve taken this week off from homeschooling in order to finish the course and make a plan for implementing all that I’ve learned. I really felt like this was an urgent matter to deal with, because I didn’t want to go one more day without treating my children like the treasures they are (and being the best parent that I can be)!

Now that I’ve come out of the other side of it, I wanted to share some of the most important things I’ve learned and how Cory and I plan to change our ways as a parenting team.

This course is gold, in my opinion. I’ve read a lot of positive parenting and discipline books, but I have never found them to be practical or realistic. This course is incredibly actionable. It taught me a lot of concepts I already was familiar with from my studies of child development, but I had not been able to put to use with my children because of the realities of day-to-day parenting. Simply put, this course is not just a pile of theory—it’s a pile of tools that I can actually use—and I am!

To start, Positive Parenting Solutions finally changed my mind about punishment. As much as I’ve always wanted to be able to remove punishment from my parental arsenal, I have never found a replacement that would actually work. Kids need to learn how to behave in ways that are responsible and respectful, and their natural inclinations are anything but! How will they learn without experiencing consequences? How can we modify behavior without using the basic behavior modification tools of reward and punishment?

It turns out, there are ways. Is it as “easy” as simply doling out rewards for good behavior and punishments for bad behavior? No, it’s not. But guess what? Parenting is not easy. It’s not simple, either. It’s complex, and challenging, and requires a high level of effort and creativity and energy and patience. Oh, so much patience.


The problem with punishment, though, is that it causes animosity between parent and child. It doesn’t teach the child to behave better because they have learned an important lesson—though it may teach them to behave better out of fear or the desire to receive external rewards. I don’t want my children to be motivated that way! I want them to have an internal compass of right and wrong, and feel good about doing good because it’s right. I certainly don’t want them to act out of fear.

This concept hit home because the reason I even took this course was directly tied to my realization that punishing my kids with time-outs wasn’t helping them learn to behave better. It was causing me to feel more anger and frustration towards them, and them to feel less connected to me as well.

Now, I have better options in my toolbox. A whole lot of them are focused on preventing misbehavior by laying a strong foundation of positive attention, empowerment, and training in appropriate behavior. These positive tools, such as having daily one-on-one time with each child and providing many opportunities for the kids to make choices throughout their day, are already making a big difference in my family. An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure!

For the times when children still misbehave, because they will, I now have calmer, kinder, more respectful ways of handling it that really work, without threatening anybody’s dignity. I can use natural consequences, control the environment and the order in which privileges are enjoyed, ignore certain inappropriate behaviors, and use coaching to help my children learn better ways of behaving—just to name a few of my new tools.

This course also directed me to an extremely valuable resource for handling Cody’s potty training struggles, one of the bigger areas of conflict we’ve been dealing with. I learned that kids his age having accidents are experiencing a health problem, not misbehaving. It turns out, there is a little known but strongly established link between constipation and accidents, and kids over the age of four who are still having accidents are almost always chronically constipated and have blockages in their colons. (It often goes undetected because constipated kids can still poop every day, even with those blockages!) Now that I have this knowledge, I can help him rather than blame him for something he can’t control.

But anyway, that’s really a topic for a different post. My point is, I have learned an incredible amount of valuable information and I have so much hope that my parenting is going to improve tremendously now, and our lives will all be so much better for it.

This is all an amazing answer to prayer, by the way! The night before I found Positive Parenting Solutions, I wrote in my prayer journal asking God to help me figure out a solution to our parenting struggles. I told him I didn’t know what I needed, but I trusted that he did. The next day, I started researching and found this program, and I have been moving in the right direction ever since. God is good!

Here’s to always growing and becoming the best versions of ourselves we can be—with God’s help! I can’t wait to see the type of parent I become in the months and years ahead.

Side note: I am not saying I am a bad parent, or that people who use punishment and rewards are bad parents. I happen to believe I am a wonderful mom, though not perfect, and I know that intentions matter. There are many styles of parenting and I am focused on parenting in the best way I can, based on my research, understanding, and beliefs. That’s all any of us can do! No judgement here.

7 Things I Learned {And One Thing I Ignored} From ParentShift

I recently read a parenting book called ParentShift. This book describes a positive approach to parenting that the authors call “heart-centered”.

Some suggestions in this book are ones I completely and strongly disagree with—such as the opinion that all punishments and rewards are bad disciplinary tools. I am still a proponent of 1-2-3 Magic, which I have found to be very practical and effective for my family. {We use time-outs, removing privileges, logical consequences, as well as verbal corrections and praise}.

However, what I did love about ParentShift is the focus on children’s emotional needs.

It can be easy to forget that children have emotional needs that look different from adult needs. Many times, unwanted behaviors stem from unmet needs, or a misunderstanding of where children are developmentally and what they really need. This book does a wonderful job of creating awareness in this area.

Here are some of the helpful insights and tools I learned from this book:


1. Children’s emotional needs can be boiled down to the acronym SPECIAL.  

S stands for smile, which represents fun, laughter, and play. Children need to play and laugh to be emotionally healthy. Silliness is part of being a well-balanced kid!

P stands for power, which represents children having choices, gaining competency, and being given responsibilities. Allowing children to make some of their own choices, and create their own personal boundaries, is powerful and important. Training children to do things for themselves, teaching them skills, and expecting them to contribute to the family’s chores are all important ways of not only meeting children’s emotional needs, but raising productive individuals.

E stands for exploration. This represents allowing children to follow their interests, try new things, experience life, and experiment with the world around them. In young children, exploration is a need to see, touch, and taste things. In older children, it may look more like trying different sports or hobbies, choosing their own electives in school, and forming their own worldviews.

C stands for connection, which essentially means having meaningful and engaged relationships with family members, particularly parents. High-level connections are created when we actively engage with our children. Parents can foster strong connections with their children by meeting their emotional needs, being supportive, and of course, being loving.

I stands for important. Children need to feel that they matter, and that their opinions are important to their parents. While parents may often know what’s best, there are also times when we simply have our own opinions, which are neither right nor wrong. Taking our children’s feelings and views into account helps them to feel important, which they are!

A stands for attention, specifically quality attention and listening. Giving children some undivided, focused attention each day—think eye contact, loving touch, and active listening—helps to meet their emotional needs. 

L stands for love. Children need unconditional love, affection, and acceptance. They need to know that they are treasured and cared for no matter what. As a Christian, I believe that our unconditional love is a reflection of God’s love for us and our children, and teaching children how valuable they are to God is the best foundation for a healthy self-esteem.


2. Parents should keep an eye on the balance of their children’s emotional bank accounts.

When we meet children’s emotional needs, we make deposits into their emotional bank accounts. When we have conflict with our children, we make withdrawals. It can be helpful to remember that while every parent will (and must) make withdrawals at times, we are also able to make many more deposits. Fun, affection, focused attention, and active listening are all great ways to fill up a child’s emotional bank account.


3. There is a difference between reacting and responding.

When parents simply react to their children, they often lack intention and do or say things that they later regret. But when we take time to respond thoughtfully to our children, we can feel more confident in our parenting. In stress mode, the brains of both children and adults are reactive, rather than responsive.

It serves us well to use a technique called Pause-Breathe-Ask when we find ourselves, and/or our children, in stress mode. This simply means that we stop before saying or doing what we immediately want to say or do. Then we breathe deeply a few times, which helps our brains to disperse those stress hormones and lets our reasoning abilities come back online. Then we ask ourselves, what does my child need in this moment? Doing Pause-Breathe-Ask allows us to better do our jobs as parents, rather than simply reacting impulsively. It also models self-regulation for our children.

*This part is my opinion, and not in the book. I would add that when it comes to tantrums, children are already in stress mode, and they are unable to be reasoned with at that point. Allowing children to express those emotions {have that tantrum} is necessary before offering comfort or discussing feelings. We don’t need to give them attention or attempt to punish them, we can simply ignore them until they are calm. It’s also okay to calmly and gently help them move to an appropriate location when they are expressing their emotions loudly.


4. Children’s developmental stages and individual temperaments are important

Understanding where a child is developmentally means being educated about what behaviors and abilities are typical at their specific age. Understanding a child’s individual temperament means learning about who that child is uniquely, in terms of eight key characteristics: emotional intensity, persistence, sensitivity, distractibility, adaptability, regularity, activity level, and approach to new things. There are no “good” or “bad” temperaments—we are all created different, and that’s okay! Having a clear understanding of a child’s stage of development and individual temperament is helpful for parents to create realistic expectations.


5. Parents must set limits and boundaries.

Limits are rules set in place that are based on health, safety, respect, and responsibility. They vary by family, but there are many universally accepted limits as well. Boundaries are our personal limits of what we will and will not accept. Limits and boundaries should be reasonable, age-appropriate, consistent, and explainable. That means that there should be a reason for each limit and boundary—even if that reason is simply, “I am not comfortable with that.”

We should also allow our children to set their own personal boundaries. Children should be allowed to decide what they wear (within reason), how much they eat, how they feel, whether they want to be touched, and what interests/hobbies/sports they want to participate in. Children’s privacy should be respected, with agreed-upon safety measures in place.


6. Sibling rivalry can be managed with many tools.

Parents can prevent sibling rivalry as much as possible by meeting each child’s needs, treating children uniquely for who they are, avoiding comparisons, avoiding taking sides, encouraging teamwork, making “sharing” fair and respectful, teaching children how to calm themselves down, and being aware of triggers {such as too much screen time, not enough sleep, too much sugar, etc.}.

When fights between siblings do happen, parents can simply ignore bickering, squabbling, and other minor (though annoying) fighting. When fights heat up to involve name-calling, bullying/intimidation, or are about to or have become physical, parents should intervene.

 *This is my approach, and not in the book: for sibling rivalry that goes beyond bickering, I use 1-2-3 Magic and count them both.


7. Power struggles can also be managed with many tools.

Prevention is the best medicine, and power struggles can often be prevented by offering choices, adding fun, keeping limits and boundaries reasonable, and maintaining a strong connection with our children.

When conflicts arise, we can simply state the limit or boundary in a friendly tone. We can use “do” statements instead of “don’t” statements—”please use a quiet voice in the house,” instead of “don’t yell.” We can use one-word reminders—“shoes,” instead of “put your shoes away”—or even a simple gesture (such as pointing to the shoes). We can also let our children save face; allowing them to have the last word or display of attitude is fine, as long as the rules are followed and everyone moves on afterward.

*In 1-2-3 Magic, this is also discussed. As long as the child isn’t trying to rub their attitude in your face, like following you around with a pouting expression, then just let it go. A little door slam, eye-roll, or exasperated sigh never killed anyone. We aren’t raising robots, we’re raising human beings. 


Those are the gems of wisdom I discovered in the book, ParentShift. I didn’t find the entire system to be practical for my family, for the ages and stages of my kids right now. And I didn’t appreciate the heavy-handed message that parents are essentially ruining their children by continuing to use other systems.

However, I can definitely see the benefits of using many of the concepts and tools in this book. Especially as my children get older, I hope to move away from punishments and rewards more and more, and be able to use only positive discipline tools—but for young children, internal motivation is not very powerful, and parents often do need to create external motivators.

Even in my preferred parenting book, 1-2-3 Magic, an emphasis is placed on the goal of gradually moving from a “dictatorship” to a “democracy.” By the time children become teenagers, they are much more able to be active participants in their own discipline—they are able to feel strong intrinsic motivation, help decide on family rules, contribute meaningfully to the running of the household, accept responsibility for their mistakes, and brainstorm and follow through with making amends when necessary. The goal is ultimately raising adults, not children. {Adult kids may always need their parents, but they can also be responsible, competent, critically-thinking, and self-motivated. This is the goal!}

Spiritual Lessons from My Journey into Motherhood


Being pregnant was such a special time in my life. Although I didn’t have the most comfortable pregnancies, I did really enjoy the process of bringing new lives into the world.

Currently, I am not planning on becoming pregnant again. Instead, my husband and I plan on adopting a baby. Reflecting on my journey into biological motherhood over the past few years, there are a few important lessons I have learned.


Childbirth Doesn’t Have to be Terrifying

Before we were married, I went through a phase of thinking that I would never want to have children. At first, this was mostly due to fears about the birth process, and how horrible and scary and painful it would be. The simple mechanics of it just seemed horrifying. I have a low pain-tolerance, and a phobia of needles and medical environments in general. I didn’t want to have to face any of that. I thought that instead, we should adopt—even knowing deep down that having biological children was part of God’s plan for me.

Counter-intuitive though it may seem, learning about natural childbirth was the thing that started to change my mind about birth. I learned that women’s bodies were made to do it. I learned that birth doesn’t have to be medicalized. I learned about midwifery, homebirth, and using hypnosis for childbirth. I learned about supernatural childbirth, and how my faith in God can be used powerfully to experience a better birth. These things gave me the confidence I needed to overcome my fear of childbirth, and welcome the opportunity to bring babies into the world with the miraculous gifts of pregnancy and birth.


The Risk Is Worth It

There’s a saying that becoming a parent is like choosing to have your heart walk around outside of your body. And it’s true! Being a parent is incredibly risky. You love this other person so much that it’s beyond words, and the idea of them ever getting hurt or making a bad decision is terrifying to you. You have everything invested in your children, and yet very little control over what happens to them. That idea scared the living daylights out of me, and it was one of the reasons I was afraid to become a parent.

It took a very painful experience for me to understand that the risk of losing a child, while terrifying, does not outweigh the worth of being a parent. Being a parent has been the most rewarding thing I’ve done in my life, and I couldn’t imagine not having this privilege. I was meant to be a mother. It’s one of God’s callings on my life that I can’t deny, no matter what pain or risks I have to face.

But I had to learn this through the experience of pregnancy loss. My husband and I lost our first baby, Sam, only six weeks into our pregnancy. At first, I was in a place of anger, utter heartbreak, loss of trust, and loss of hope for the future. Other people’s words of comfort often felt like a slap in the face to me. They told me that I should hold on to God, but I was furious at him. They told me to keep trusting him because it was all in his plan, but I felt like my trust in him was broken. Most of all, I despised it when people told me that we could try again. The thought of trying again, of putting myself at risk for heartbreak again, was a terrible thought. I felt that it wasn’t worth the risk.

It was from this place of darkness that God showed us the light. Through the guidance of some godly people in our lives, God showed us the simple truth that he is good. We learned that our miscarriage was not God’s doing or his plan for us, but an attack from the enemy. We also learned that God is bigger and stronger than our enemy. We learned what living victoriously in Jesus really means.

Without those lessons, we wouldn’t have been able to handle the fear, as parents, of “what might happen.” Instead of living in fear, we trust and believe that God has his hand over our family. I don’t have to worry about what might happen to my kids because I know that God’s got them. They are in good hands.


The Big Picture

Sometimes, even with strong faith and trust in God, we can experience loss and trials in this world. It is a broken world, after all. We may not be of this world (as Christians), but we are still in it.

I try not to entertain thoughts of what might happen in scenarios of my greatest fears. I believe that we should discipline our thoughts and train ourselves to think about good things, not horrible ones. But I do have an understanding that my faith might not always protect me or my family in this world. Bad things could happen. Christians can lose their children tragically, just like anybody else.

But instead of fearing for this, I focus on the big picture. The big picture is my human approximation of what God sees. He sees things in light of eternity! This life seems so big to us. It seems like everything. But what we often forget to realize is that compared to eternity, this life is just a drop in the bucket. What we also often forget to realize is that compared to an eternity in paradise with God, this life is basically a poop parade.

Now, I know that sounds pretty negative. But it’s not, I promise! Realizing that this life, our bodies, the earthly things we have, and our comfort in this lifetime is all temporary… well, it’s actually so freeing. If we lose our earthly lives, we gain something better– eternal life. As long as you’ve accepted Jesus as your savior, that is!*

So if my faith is not always enough to save my kids or myself from suffering, or even death, then I can have peace and comfort and joy even, knowing that there is something unspeakably wonderful ahead.

As a parent, there is no greater comfort. I know that it’s going to be okay, literally NO. MATTER. WHAT. There might be suffering, but suffering is temporary. An eternity of JOY is ahead, and that is something to celebrate. This is why we praise God! Isn’t he awesome?



*Have you accepted Jesus as your savior yet? Do you want to? You can, right now!

Just pray this prayer:

God, I know that I am not perfect. I have sinned, and that means I am not worthy of you. But I believe you sent your son Jesus to Earth, and he lived a perfect life and he died on the cross, as a sacrifice for me. Jesus, I invite you into my heart right now. Please come in and forgive me of my sins. Make me right with God. Help me live my life in a way that pleases you.

In Jesus name,


If you prayed that prayer, then you are now a redeemed child of God! You just made the best decision you could ever make. Your eternity is secured! Go ahead and celebrate that. And please share it with someone. Leave me a comment or send me a message. Go find a church you can be a part of, and continue to grow in your faith.

Happy First Birthday, Abigail!

My little baby is now a one year old! The time has flown by even faster the second time around.

Abigail is a very sweet, curious, active, and silly girl. Here are some of her traits and quirks at the age of one:

She likes to put on things like socks and hats and shoes. If she sees shoes on the floor, she will try to put them on her feet, or if they’re adult-sized, she’ll settle for wearing them on her hands and sliding around the floor on hands and knees. When she sees her own shoes, she insists on wearing them. Socks are also a frequent target.

She still puts a lot of things in her mouth. She especially likes to find tiny pieces of whatever on the floor to put in her mouth. Although I vacuum often, it’s impossible to keep up! I have to watch her closely to keep her from eating things she shouldn’t. She also likes to put things in her mouth that stretch the limits of what her mouth should be able to hold, like a ping-pong ball. (Little weirdo.)

She is becoming more vocal, and makes all sorts of silly sounds. Her and Cody spur each other on in making loud and silly noises, then cracking each other up laughing. She doesn’t say any words regularly, even though she has said “mama” and “dada” a few times.

She hit two milestones before her first birthday: her first teeth finally emerging, and her first independent steps. She now has two front bottom teeth just peeking out, and it looks like her two front top teeth will be next. As for walking, she doesn’t use it as a primary way of getting around yet, but she thinks it’s super fun to stand up, take a few steps, and bask in our adoration.

She loves dancing to music she likes, usually something with a beat. Her trademark move is to twist side to side with her arms out and elbows crooked. More recently, she’s been experimenting with some foot-stomping. 🙂

Abigail is still quite clingy, but she is more willing to go to other people to be held than Cody was at this age. She accepts brief separations from us with little fussing. Cory and I can attend church services together, go on date nights, and let family members help us with the kids when we get together! It’s a treat.

Around the house on a daily basis, it’s unpredictable whether Abigail will want me to hold her all day or perhaps play independently for some of the time, allowing me to get stuff done. The first kind of day is hard, because I’m very task-oriented and being handicapped by a baby demanding to be held constantly is frustrating. The second kind of day is less common, and very appreciated. It will be nice as she gets older to see her become more and more independent, and get a little bit more of my own time back.

Part of Abigail’s clinginess is her habit of grabbing the shirt of whoever is holding her. She almost always has one hand fastened tightly to the neckline of my shirt. It’s becoming more common for her to take it a step further and shove her hand right down my shirt. This can be annoying when we’re in public and she nearly exposes me to the world. I also have to put my foot down when she starts getting a little too “touchy feely.” (Here’s one of the weird things I’ve had to say all too often as a parent: “Stop touching my nipple!”)

Unfortunately, Abigail’s naps are not very good. She takes only one nap most days. ONE. At this age, Cody was just transitioning from three to two naps. Abigail is already down to one, and I fear for what lies ahead. Her one nap isn’t anywhere near the luxurious three hour naps Cody used to take up to the age of three. Nope, she’ll give me an hour on a good day. (Maybe up to two hours on a marvelous day, but sometimes only 40 minutes on a not-so-great day).

Even that one nap is often a struggle. She usually falls asleep nursing or in the carrier, and I attempt to move her to her bed. We recently bought a crib for her (the first crib we’ve ever used, since Cody never had one). We put her down there for her naps, and we reserve the right to plop her in there at bedtime if she decides to pull another midnight wake-up party.

On a happier note, she is an excellent eater. She eats many foods, and is not picky. Almost anything we set in front of her, she will eat enthusiastically. Of course we have to serve her foods that are soft enough for her, and cut into small enough pieces, since she only has two tiny front teeth. But that doesn’t stop her from being a little foodie! It’s so lovely to see our child happily eating fruits and vegetables. Cody didn’t eat ANY solid food until he was two years old, and even now at almost-four, he doesn’t eat fruits or vegetables except on a rare occasion. So suffice it to say, it’s wonderful to see Abigail enjoying food so much at this age.

That’s pretty much it! Abigail is a joy, and seems to only get cuter by the day.



Happy First Birthday, my sweet girl! Mommy and Daddy and brother love you sooo much! You are my treasure.


Happy 10 Months Birthday, Abigail!

Little Abi is now 10 months old. It’s a fun age, but also a challenging one!

She takes two naps per day, about an hour give or take. Really, that’s not much for her age, but I’ll take what I can get.

She sleeps okay at night, sometimes only waking up a couple of times to nurse, but more often she wakes up frequently and is restless. I blame it on teething, because ibuprofen seems to help. Speaking of teething, she still doesn’t have a single tooth. They’re in hiding!

Abigail loves to explore. She crawls everywhere (always on her hands and knees now instead of her belly), climbs on things, pulls herself up to stand, and puts everything in her mouth. She can climb up the small slide we have in our play area by herself, on either end (ladder or slide). She climbs up the stairs any chance she gets. She keeps us on on our toes!

She is eating baby food, but only to supplement her primarily breastfed diet.

Her diaper rash has finally healed, and only has mild flare-ups now. The ointment that finally worked for us is called Triple Paste, and I am so thankful for it.

Abi gives “kisses” sometimes, involving putting her open mouth on my face (or Cory’s). It’s pretty cute, actually. Probably the cutest thing she does on a regular basis is playing peek-a-boo. She loves it when we play with her, but even when we’re doing other things, she’s constantly seeking out fabrics to use to cover her head and then pull them off, with a look of pure delight on her face. She will use clean laundry from the basket, the play scarves we have, or even the skirt of her dress. It’s super silly!

She is extremely clingy. She wants to be held pretty much all the time, but sometimes her desire to explore triumphs and we will get a few minutes of a break from holding her. A few times a day, I have to put her in her playpen and let her cry so I can take care of some basic needs for myself, Cody, or our many pets. It can be pretty stressful.

We wear her in the carrier often, too, but she tends to not like it when I wear her facing in unless she wants to sleep. It’s difficult to wear her facing out and get anything done, because she’s very grabby. So the carrier doesn’t help me much in that way, but it is often how we put her to sleep for naps or bedtime.

Abigail loves her brother, and they often make each other laugh just by looking at each other and being silly. She also enjoys patting the dogs when they’re not too rambunctious and overwhelming her. She especially loves following our new kitten, Leo, around the house as he explores. She tries to pet him, and our other cat Luna, but they usually move too fast for her to get a lot of pets in.

When daddy comes home from work, Abigail gets very excited and crawls to him so he will pick her up. But in general, she tends to want me to hold her. So when Cory is home, I often have to stay out of her sight in order to get things done, because as soon as she sees me she will start fussing and trying to get me to hold her.

Happy Seven Months Birthday, Abigail!

In the beginning of this month, Abi turned seven months old. Our silly little girl is more than halfway to one!

At seven months, she is able to sit up on her own, but usually prefers laying on her belly. She hasn’t crawled yet, but she’s getting pretty close. She loves to play with toys or interesting objects, and gets bored easily. She’s not content to just sit and observe things, she wants to explore with her hands. Holding her while trying to do anything else is very difficult, because she grabs everything!

For a couple of weeks, she seemed close to night-weaning, meaning sleeping through the night without having to nurse. But unfortunately, all progress was lost soon after that, when she started nursing even more frequently than ever at night. Typically she nurses anywhere from three to six times per night. Thankfully, three is more common than six.

She has teething pain and other signs of teething (like soaking her shirt in drool) sporadically, as she has since about three months, but no teeth have emerged yet. We can see them under the skin on her bottom gum, so I expect them to come out soon, but they’ve really been taking their time!

Somewhat concerningly, she still weighs 18 lbs, which means she hasn’t gained any weight in the last month. But because she’s still quite a chunky baby, still in the 64th percentile (down from the 78th), and seems active and happy, we’re not too concerned. She grew so fast in the first 6 months of her life that she’s probably just “catching down.” 😉

Abigail loves her nightly bath. She gets excited when we say “bath” and when she sees the tub. She starts bouncing in our arms and gets the biggest smile on her face! It’s really cute. On the flip side, she generally hates her after-bath lotioning, and usually cries or fusses through the entire lotion-diaper-pajamas process. But after that drama, she happily nurses to sleep, and the world is right again.

Just after turning seven months, Abigail said “mama” for the first time! Now it seems to be her favorite word, and she uses it frequently to summon her milk slave. For the record, she did say “dada” first, at about six months. It’s up for debate whether she had the intention, or was just babbling, but she did say it a lot so it could easily be her true first word. Now that she’s also said “mama,” I’m more willing to give the first word award to “dada.” ;P (In all fairness, Cody’s first word was “mama,” so it’s a good balance that we each get one.)

At this age, Abi takes three naps; morning, afternoon, and night. Technically the last nap could be considered part of her nighttime sleep, but we wake her up before we all go to bed as a family in order to give her a bath and keep her eczema at bay. She sleeps about 9-10 hours at night (waking up on average four times to nurse).
She has stretches of being content playing on the floor or in her bouncer, as long as a parent is close by. She also has stretches of being very clingy and crying any time she’s put down. She never really has times when she cries inconsolably, and when she is fussy even while being held, it’s a sign she needs to nap. Typically, she goes down fairly easily for her naps.

As the weather is beginning to warm up, I am enjoying dressing her in little dresses and skirts, showing off those adorably chunky baby legs! Oh what fun to dress a baby girl.

Happy Six Months Birthday, Abigail!

{This is very belated, as I wrote it but didn’t get around to posting it until now!}

Abigail turned six months old last weekend. I can’t believe we’re already halfway to one year!

Abi is still wearing some size 9 months clothes, and she also wears some things that are size 12 months. She weighs 18 lbs, and is tall for her age (or I guess you would say “long” at this stage since she’s not standing.)

She doesn’t sit up on her own yet or crawl. She still mostly likes to get around by rolling, or by us carrying her. She does travel pretty far by rolling and wiggling, so maybe she doesn’t feel too motivated to try anything more just yet. She doesn’t like to lay on her back, and always rolls to her side or belly when we put her down. Diaper changes are a struggle because she fights to be on her belly!

The biggest change this month has been her desire to explore things with her hands. She is no longer content to just watch the action, she wants to grab it for herself! She loves to grab, shake, taste, and slam anything she can get her hands on. Anything we are doing while holding her will be targeted. Because of that, we can’t really do much else while holding her any more. No computer, paper books, or cooking. She also tends to wriggle around a lot while she’s being held, which makes it more of a two-arm job. And unfortunately, our easy baby has disappeared, as she now demands to be held for a majority of the day. I still wouldn’t consider her high-need, because in other ways she really isn’t, but I also wouldn’t call her “easy” any more.

Because of how heavy she is, I’ve found wearing her to be a bit uncomfortable and hard on my back. So I don’t typically spend a lot of time with her in the carrier, but it’s definitely still useful for outings, and Cory still wears her for hours each day. Personally, I prefer to hold her in my arms, which I find to be easier on my back. She also seems more content that way, because I can shift her position and try different things to keep her entertained.

She did her first reach to be held this month, something I always find cute. She reaches for both me and her dad, though she does have a preference for me sometimes. She’s had a couple of episodes of separation anxiety from me, but she’s also accepted other caregivers easily. We even went out on a date, and left her with a babysitter!

Abigail has always seemed to eyeball our food, so when our pediatrician said we could start trying to feed her baby food, I thought, “why not?” And as it turns out, she is a great eater! It’s such a new experience for me to spoon feed a baby food and have her actually swallow it and open her mouth for more. So far, we’ve tried sweet potatoes, pears, peas, bananas, carrots, and cereal. She’s liked all of them except for the pears and cereal, and she wasn’t as enthusiastic about the peas as she was with the others. But she really seems to love sweet potatoes, bananas, and carrots. It’s exciting to see her accepting fruits and veggies already, and it gives me hope that she will be a good eater as she grows up.

Of course for now, she’s still so young that I’m not looking to make solid foods a big part of her diet. I still believe breastmilk is best for the first year. I typically feed her just half of a jar of stage one baby food (which is a tiny jar to begin with), then finish it off the next day and wait a few days before feeding her another one. I like the idea of introducing a variety of foods to her, but as I said, nothing beats breastmilk for baby nutrition!

Speaking of which, she’s still a great nurser and my supply is great as usual. She nurses about every 3 hours or so, and typically two to three times during the night. She sleeps with us in our family bed, and we all go to bed at about 10 PM (although Abigail frequently falls asleep before that). Cory gets up with the kids, usually sometime between 6:30 and 7:30. Occasionally, Abigail and/or Cody will stay asleep with me until I get up at 8. That means generally, Abi sleeps for nine to eleven hours per night.

She takes two naps at fairly predictable times now. Her first nap is in the late morning, around 10:30 or so, and her second nap is usually in the mid afternoon, around 3:30 or so. It can vary by a couple of hours some days, but that’s the most common. Her naps are about an hour long on average, but they can also be longer. When teething is bothering her, she has trouble staying asleep for naps and is restless at night.

As for her eczema and diaper rash: we finally beat it! The eczema could flare up again without warning at any time, of course, but for now her skin is clear. We bathe her in just water (no soap) every other day, and follow that with a full-body lotioning. The diaper rash was finally cured when we got a prescription for a steroid cream. It took about two weeks for it to fully go away using that, but it’s finally gone. Unfortunately, ever since we stopped the steroid cream, the rash keeps trying to come back. We put a light layer of Aquaphor on her at every change, but we still notice redness appearing every few days. When we see it, we put on more steroid cream for a day or two, and that takes care of it. It’s frustrating to have to keep using that, though, because I know it’s not recommended to use it long-term. Her skin is just so darn sensitive, and doesn’t respond to anything else! But at least for now, it seems to be under control, and she’s not uncomfortable any more. Thank God!

So that’s about it! Abi is a happy, healthy baby, and just the sweetest little nugget. Those chunky cheeks and big blue eyes, and her adorable smile… they get me every time. <3