Month: April 2014

Inspire Your Kids to Be Readers

One of the most surprising parts of starting this blog has been the interest that my own children have in reading my writing.  All of them ask me daily if I have written another post.  They laugh and relish figuring out which kid I am writing about.

In particular my son (8 years old) will read my posts, give me feedback, and offer suggestions.  One post is never enough, he is always begging me to post something else.  So in his honor, this is a post about some of the things we have done that I think have helped inspire our kids to become readers.


1-We are readers.  We read nonfiction, fiction, magazines, social media, and our Bibles daily.

2-We read to the kids.  From the time they were newborns we have been reading to the kids.  We read poetry, old books, new books, books with pictures, books without pictures.  Right now our favorites are the Laura Ingalls Wilder books.  They are learning so much history and culture from these older books.  Its so fun to discuss a time from 100 years ago with them.


3-We tell stories.  We make up stories about things we see happening in the world.  We also take books we’ve read many times and pretend the pictures are telling a different story altogether.  We insert their names into favorite stories letting them take on the characters.

4-We use voices.  When we read short stories we love making up accents, reading slowly, reading quickly, reading softly, reading loudly.  Its an event!

5-We make reading a privilege.  Reading is an excuse to stay up past bedtime, reading means spending extra family time together.  Books are a special treat.


And now I can add to the list that, because of this blog, we read to them about themselves.  I cherish the blog my mom kept toward the end of her life; it helps keep her memory alive.  I hope someday my kids can reread my thoughts and remember the story of their lives.

Happy Reading!



Yuck, its a stomach virus! Please learn from my mistakes!


I was not planning on writing a post about this nasty subject anytime soon, but, unfortunately, it’s what we are dealing with today.

So since I’m quarantined in the house and pretty much relegated to laundry and bleaching surfaces, I thought I’d share the things I have learned over the years (besides asking the elders to come pray over my kids :-)) about this icky topic.

1-Stomach virus germs spread fast so keep them under control!!!

I know this doesn’t seem like a big tip, but for me it has changed the “order of operations” for dealing with theses viruses.  Do you remember in math class-“ E.xcuse M.y D.ear A.unt”?  If you went out of order everything could go wrong even if you had all the correct components.


Our early attempts to overcome this kind of yuckiness were total FAILS.

Oh I had the components.  I knew enough to abide by the sacred “BRAT diet” (bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast).  I knew that I needed to offer electrolyte solution. I knew I needed to clean up the mess.  But in the early years I was getting the ORDER all wrong.  I would panic that my children were getting dehydrated and give the food or drink too soon and trigger more vomiting.  That, of course, would trigger more germs which would then spread and we’d all end up sick.  I would end up with a pile of laundry the size of The Rockies and not just a couple of hills.

It was so sad one year when we got the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to stay one night at the beautiful Animal Kingdom Lodge with some of our best friends, but ended up dealing with 24-hours of vomiting instead.

Regretfully, at the first sign of a problem I began racing to heal my baby and I did it ALL WRONG!  I started trying a little white rice, a little ginger ale, a little gatorade; I was DESPERATE TO fix the problem and get back to the fun.  What I was really doing was messing with my little one’s poor tummy and making it worse!  We went through about a dozen towels and half-a-dozen sets of sheets!  PLEASE LEARN FROM MY MISTAKES!

After a night of misery, I surrendered that our Disney Dreams for the next day were not going to be realized and I called the pediatrician.  The nurses instructed me to stop giving my child anything (food or water) for two hours so that her stomach could calm down.  Then I was told to reintroduce the electrolyte solution 1 tsp at a time every 15 minutes (as long as there was no more vomiting) to begin rehydrating her.  If she did okay with that for a few hours then I could move on to more frequent fluids, and then the BRAT diet.

The prescription worked and that’s the order I have followed ever since:  I always wait a few hours from the first episode before offering any food or drink.  Then give small sips at a time with 15 minute breaks in between sips.

(Please contact your own health care provider for your own circumstances; dehydration can be very serious).

All I’m saying is I learned that trying to immediately use food and drink to FIX the virus or address hydration was NOT the way to go.

(I’m just a mom, not a doctor OK?)

The moral: in order to rehydrate your child you could be stimulating more vomiting, increasing the spread of germs in your house, and putting other family members at risk.

2-Probiotics are AMAZING!!!


These “good” germs are becoming so much more readily available.  I used to have to drive 20-45 minutes to get good quality probiotics.  But now we can usually find some at our local grocery or pharmacy store.  A good quality probiotic can help the sick member of your family get back to health a little more quickly.  Equally important, the healthy members of your family can take them according to the instructions on the label and build up a layer of protection from the vile germs that are trying to take over your home!  We try to keep them on hand for these emergencies at all times.  If we could afford it, we’d take some everyday, but for now we take them at the first sign of a friend or family member getting sick.

Today we all took our probiotics and as soon as my sicky had survived several hours without any vomiting episodes, I gave her a spoonful of applesauce with probiotics mixed in.  She kept it down and began acting more like herself within a few hours.

3-A solution of bleach and water in a spray bottle is your new best friend!!!

I learned this little tip from my children’s preschool.  Preschools have very strict guidelines to keep the germs to a minimum.  At ours, each teacher always has a spray bottle with bleach and water for emergencies.  In addition, each bathroom has a bottle for accidents that often occur.

When I was ripped from sleep at 4 am last night I was so grateful that I had my spray bottle ready to go for an (almost) mindless clean up of floors, light switches, and counters.

4-Wash away the germs!!!

Another pretty obvious one, but I mean GO WILD with washing.  At the first sign of puke, my husband instinctively jumped in the shower and I started the laundry.  Once he was out, I jumped in.  Wash, wash, wash your hands, wash them till their clean….



Allow the sick kid to use only 1 bathroom in the house to limit the spread of germs.




What are your tips for getting over a stomach virus? Or helping your kids cope?



Why I Switched to Cheap, Ugly, Diapers

Potty training is one of the most dreaded tasks of being a parent of young children.


I have done it three times. With each tot, there were times it definitely felt like I was drumming up a lot of activity for no good reason.  Collectively, my kids have had accidents in every space in my home, in every car seat, in grocery carts, on other peoples’ furniture, and at school.  It has taken a lot of perseverance and cleanup to get to the point I am now: three potty trained kids.

During those training days, it was a true challenge for me mentally to see my kids come close to mastery only to revert to daily accidents.

I’m not gonna lie to you.  Pull-ups made it worse!

(I am so happy I figured this out before I started training baby #3, the little general.)

Even though my older two were beginning to master the  potty around 20 months, they were required to wear a pull-up at preschool to save the teachers from constantly cleaning urine (understandable) until some official mastery was reached.  So I purchased those little cartoon-covered big-kid diapers for school.  And, for my own convenience, began using them some for naps, bedtime, and long trips.

Unfortunately, my kids LOVED them.  They were fascinated by the cool designs and how the fresh pee would change the diapers by revealing drawings with special disappearing ink (?) or something.  They really started reverting and although they would use the potty when they were told, they never felt motivated to go it on their own.


Before making the connection that the pull-ups were largely to blame, we tried everything!  Potty charts, prizes, dvd’s about going potty, prizes,  story books, prizes, staying outside naked, and prizes.  It seemed everything had some  positive impact but nothing would stick.


That’s when I brought home the generic, white, probably even slightly uncomfortable diapers.  That did the trick!

Approaching age 3, they were ready developmentally and emotionally to transition to underpants even for sleeping and trips.  So once the option was potty or bulky white diaper, they were ready to move on!  Both big kids were “officially potty trained” at age 3.

You can imagine that when my littlest baby began showing interest in the potty at 18 months we did things differently and reaped different results.  We have never given her a pull-up.  Yes she still has an accident every now and then but she only gets ugly, cheap diapers for nap and bedtime, so she is very motivated to use the potty regularly during her awake times.  She has been “officially trained” since she was 20 months and I couldn’t be happier!


P.S.  I do recommend the potty-training in 3-days initiative as well!  But whether you try that approach or not save your sanity and wallet and forego the pull-ups purchase

Becoming the Glue

I am responding to the Five Minute Friday Prompt: Glue

I have admired my Nonnie and my mom all my life.  They have been the family glue.  My mom died of cancer just 2 years ago at the young age of 56 and my grandmother is quite a bit older than that.

So here I am becoming the glue.  I told my mom on her death bed that I thought our family would be okay after she was gone and she nodded and said, “I know.”  I meant it as an encouragement to her that she had done a wonderfully thorough job preparing my siblings and me for what would come in the future and she had built something sticky enough to last beyond her last breath.  I really meant it.

But I didn’t really anticipate that being the oldest daughter with three children of my own would  push me to become the glue in my family.  I am honored to play this new role, but I also resist it.  Aren’t matriarchs older than this?  I wish my mom could still be the glue. But since she can’t I am going to try to be as sticky as I can.


5 minutes.


My method for sleeping longer stretches through the night sooner than you expect.


It’s all about teaching sweet lemon drop the difference between night and day!

Each of my babies was different. One has turned out to be a little on the OCD-side: an early riser, full of plans, and personal expectations. The second is part fairy, part author, happy as long as we’re having fun. Number three is a little general.

Despite VERY DIFFERENT PERSONALITIES, each responded positively to this routine. (Please keep in mind, I began from the first day home from the hospital, so it could take a little practice if your baby is used to something else.)

If you are still pregnant you can begin thinking through some of this now!

1-Establish the time period you want to have the longest stretch of sleep  

In the beginning, that probably means 4 hours. If you are nursing, you don’t want to hurt your milk supply by going very long without feeding. For me that was 12a-4a. In my opinion, 12a-4a is definitely when I wanted my baby sleeping. I guess you could say for ME that is OFFICIALLY NIGHT.

So for me 12a was bedtime.

2-Designate ONE nighttime sleeping location

This could be a co-sleeper, pack-n-play, or bassinet in your room. (I do recommend keeping the baby in your room so you can respond to her cues more quickly.)

Do not put the baby in his nighttime bed until the “bedtime” you chose for any reason.

Where will the little lump sleep during the day?

Throughout the day, try baby-wearing, utilize swings, pack-n-plays, bouncers, carseats, etc. Keep baby near you with lots of light and sound so he knows it is daytime and there’s a lot going on!

3-Cluster-feed your baby before bedtime so she’s had lots of mommy-time and her belly is full.

3 hours before the bedtime, breastfeed the baby on each side (I never used bottles, but I would guess around 1-2oz). Then play with and interact with your baby, let her swing, or have some tummy-time. Keep the activity going.

Repeat 1 hour later feeding on both sides (starting with the side you left off on). You may have to wake baby by undressing and changing.

Repeat 1 hour later with the same process. This is the “last feeding of the night”.

4-Complete your bedtime routine

Change baby into “pajamas” and a fresh diaper. Next swaddle your baby. Yes sometimes they try to wiggle out, but a little perseverance is worth it. I often double-swaddled to keep my little darlings tightly wrapped.

5-Put baby to bed


Lay baby in nighttime sleep place. It’s great for baby to go down awake, because he will learn to fall asleep on his own. At this point, you can feel fairly confident that baby is full and ready to sleep after all that eating!

6-Prepare for a calm, consistent atmosphere

Leave a very low light on so that when baby does wake in the night you don’t have to ever change the lights to check on baby. You don’t want to change the atmosphere with harsh lighting.

Keep it quiet. Its sleeping time: no talking, tv, or light, throughout the night. Only “shh” if its really needed.

7-Meet your babies feeding needs throughout the night, as quickly as possible

If you put baby down around 12a, the next feeding maybe sometime around 4 am.

If baby begins to wiggle in bed and seems to be rooting around, go ahead and feed her. It’s better to meet these needs before she is struggling and crying. You may have to spend extra time calming her if you wait until she is upset. Then immediately re-swaddle and place her back in her bed. If breast-feeding is firmly established, you may want to consider offering a pacifier.

8-Try to master the side-lying hold


If you are able, breastfeed your baby in a safe, side-lying hold so that you can get some rest while she eats. (I will post my breast-feeding tips in a future blog) If you can’t yet no worries.  🙂

9-Stretch out the 4 hours of solid sleep to a full night

Once your baby is falling asleep at the bedtime you have picked and sleeping for 4 hours consistently, begin moving the bedtime back hour by hour. Eventually I worked all of my babies back to 7pm.


I am happy to report that 8 years later , all three darlings still faithfully march through their bedtime routines and are in bed reading or sleeping at 7pm.


Sweet dreams everybody!

DISCLAIMER: I am just a mom, not a pediatrician and I can’t possibly know your unique situation. But this method has been a healthy and successful plan for my family and many of my friends. I hope it can help some of you. I’m sure there are many other great ways to get sleep and sanity but this is the plan that worked for me. J





Is It a Bad Thing to Want to Give Our Kids a Magical Childhood?

I am glad you took to the time to answer that post. I heartily agree!! 🙂

A Magical Childhood

Last week, a blog post went viral about why parents should stop trying to give their kids a magical childhood. 

One of my friends shared it on her Facebook wall and yesterday a speaker at a sustainability conference even recommended it, saying that parents today spend too much time “on those things like Pinterest” and “working so hard to make their children’s live magical.”

“They’re just making their own lives harder,” she scoffed, “trying to make everything perfect.”

Then she said it’s because we mothers are addicted to stress.

Yes, it turns out we secretly like stress and so the quest to make childhood fun is some deep, psychological quest to make ourselves unhappy.

Or something like that.  I had a really hard time understanding the logic in any of it.

These people seem to completely miss the point about what makes a childhood magical, and why some of us…

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The waiting game

If you are around 37.5 weeks pregnant, you are probably ready to sprint to the hospital at the first sign of any contractions. I know I was! I am one of those moms who was sent home multiple times, even with my third pregnancy. You’d think I would know what labor was like by then!

I have been thinking about the long third-trimester a lot lately as I have been stalking facebook daily to check on the status of count them 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 mothers-to-be! And they are all future-Florida Gator babies!! Wowee! I have to say all of the babies have come several days after their due dates. At least this spring, that seems to be pretty common.

If you are playing the waiting game, I just want to send a little bit of encouragement your way. Know that your sweet little lemon drop will eventually be in your arms. Don’t feel inadequate if you aren’t dilating or effacing or leaking or having a bloody show or any of the other “signs” quite yet.

But it is sooo hard! With my first child my belly was a cone-head


The cone-head belly!

(and I would soon learn that I always would carry like that) so around 7 months in I had people asking me whether I was having twins. And strangers shaking their heads and saying it’ll be any day now!

So imagine my surprise when I ended up being induced at 41+ weeks and it still took about 2 days for my son to show his darling face. Sometimes I think I would be walking around with an eight year old inside me if I had not induced.

Now, two more babies later, I can see a little more clearly that babies come when they come and then time speeds up to fast forward. If I could go back to my younger self I would say, “hold on you don’t need that induction just yet.” But my younger self would probably say, “shut up!”

So as you wait, may God bless you with a healthy baby boy or girl VERY VERY SOON!