I’m working on an evolved version of my blog that will be a resource for parents. It will have troll-free forums (seriously, I have good gaurd dog admins) and all manner of stories about parenthood. I’m currently looking for submissions to add to the site. I’m moving away from advice kind of stuff and more into the perspective of the parent and thier challenges, revelations and joys of parenthood. Parenting is SO hard and I really think that hearing about TRUE stories from our peer parents can be very helpful.

So please e-mail [email protected] if you have a story to share. This can be anything from pregnancy to challenges with your children, it can be happy moments or stories of loss, funny or embarassing stories. Bonus points for how your children have humbled you.

How to play with a baby

My favorite moments with my baby are when I just lay next to her and watch as she discovers her fingers or gazes at the changing patterns of light on the ceiling. Once I make myself slow down and observe her, I am quickly reminded how fascinating and fleeting these quiet moments can be.


Learning to Love My #4thtrimesterbody

10373500_926950613997985_326717428872032857_nI recent read a post by 4th Trimester Bodies that really made me think about my own perception of the post baby body. I previously had desired to lose the baby fat as soon as possible after birth. With my son, this was a source of stress for me because I worked out 5 days a week and ate healthy but the weight stayed on until I was done breastfeeding. This second time around, I am mre able to relax about it. I know that I’ll loose the weight eventually. For now, I am in the season of breast feeding; my fat will be plump, my belly squishy like a pillow (as my son says) and my tight jeans will sit in the back of my closet for a bit longer. I am okay with that.

 Thank you 4th Trimester Bodies for the inspiration. Find them on Twitter, Instagram, and FB for your own inspiration. 

Two Tips to Help Older Children “Play” With a New Baby

My 2 year-old son is very excited to play with his new sister…sometimes TOO excited. So I have been working on modeling how we play with a baby.

1.  Always ask her (and me) before you touch her. This is important to establish now. Even though I am the one that gives permission at this point, children need to know that just because they CAN pick up or touch a baby with ease does not mean that it’s allowed. We are in charge of our own bodies as are others so we must respect this unseen boundary, even with the smallest beings.

2. Her favorite kind of play is when we sit and watch her quietly. It can be overstimulating for a small baby to have toys shaken in front of their face, or to be chatted at too loudly or too much. So in working with modeling quiet observation, we can better keep a quiet space and set up our older children to have reverence for the tiny moments that we would all miss if we interfered too much.

That’s it! Just those 2 simple rules for play that even my 2 year-old can remember. At first my daughter would just gaze at him in her sweet newborn way, but now at 12 weeks she smiles and babbles back to him. He has had such a good start for being gentle and observant with her that he will now tell me excitedly when she gets her hand in her mouth or grabs for a toy. It’s SUCH a joy to see my two great loves fall in love with each other, I could sit back and quietly observe them all day long. :)

Busy Mom Needs Snacks!

10434141_10203109430668981_6183827541351368645_nBy 3pm, I am about to crash and realize that I have not sat down and eaten a decent meal since breakfast. If I can remember to  just snack all day, it may not be the best way to feel fully nourished, but it keeps me sane and able to handle the people in my life who depend on me. In this post by Summer Tomato, the hows and whys of snacking are laid out very helpfully. “Snacking should be a clearly defined occurring, not something that drags out over the course of hours. It helps if snacks come in defined quantities to prevent mindless eating.”

Here is a list of fast, on the go snacks that get me through the day:

Homemade energy bars/balls

Apples and almonds (super power food!)

String cheese and carrots

Hard boiled eggs

Celery and cream cheese with dates

Avocado on Rye crackers


AND my personal favorite, JUICE! I carry around a jar of fresh made vegetable juice all day and take big swigs when I feel my energy slipping.

Got a sweet tooth? I seem to have more of a sweet tooth now than I ever have before, mostly from being so tired with 2 kids to care for.  Try these raw chocolate brownies!


• 1 cup of Prunes or pitted dates (moist)

• 0.5 cup raw Cacao

• 2 tablespoons virgin Coconut oil

• 1 cup Pumpkin seeds (make into a flour)

• 2.5 tablespoons Honey or Agave nectar

• 1/4 teaspoon real Vanilla

• 2 small pinches of Himalayan salt


Grind the Pumpkin seeds into a fine flour in a coffee grinder or blender. Put aside in a bowl. To the bowl add the dry ingredients (Cacao, Salt and Vanilla and stir by hand.) Add the moist Prunes to a food processor and process until you have a “prune-paste”. Put the paste in the bowl with the dry ingredients and add the Coconut oil and Honey/Agave to the bowl and start massaging with your hands until you have a dough ball.

Roll small balls of the dough, flatten them into patties and use a fork to make stripes. Eat them as they are or put them in the fridge to eat them cold.

Feel free to follow my Snacks Pinterest Board for regularly updated ideas.

Life With Two

10152003_10202756858334893_4538149032471656100_nMy daughter was born on April 14th at home after a FAST and HARD labor of 5 hours. Things have been very challenging and joyous. :) I’m starting to get my bearings and soon I’ll be blogging regularly again. It’s my self-care/artistic outlet so I’m excited to share my journey with two.10411972_10203087979172707_3921680281209807071_n

My son is really enjoying his sister most of the time. He is very excited when he gets to see her. She sleeps most of the time so this is a rare treat for him. She has even smiled at him a few times.



My sweet little baby is very calm. More so than my son was as a baby. My assumption is that I am calm this time. Having a newborn this time is easy; it having a newborn AND a 2 year old that’s the challenge. I learn something new about this balance every day and am sure to keep track to share. :)


Ten Encouraging Links for Supporting Baby’s Sleep Learning

I’m in the process of mentally preparing for baby number 2, due in April. Part of this process is reading how I can support my baby’s sleep right from the start and avoid creating the type of bad habits I did with my son. We did so many things that I just don’t need (or want) to do next time; we bounced him for hours in the middle of the night, we shushed him when he cried, we rushed to even the tiniest of peeps (which turns out were just sleep noises) and I nursed him for hours and hours on end while he slept. Not only are these things unnecessary and habit forming as well as PREVENTING him from getting good sleep, but they will be impossible to do while I care for my 2.5 year old son along with our new baby. There ARE respectful ways to support infant sleep right from the start and I wanted to share my collection of these encouraging articles with you. I have also created a group on Facebook for Respectful Sleep Learning, which will be heavily moderated to make for a safe space for vulnerable, sleep-deprived mothers to seek help and support.

The rhythm of sleep – By Vanessa at Deep Breath of Parenting

“There are, of course, a multitude of challenges that affect our sleep and our children’s sleep.  At our parent meeting, we brainstormed a list of what hurts sleep:

  • Lack of/ change in/ break in rhythm
  • Sugar/ stimulating foods
  • Late nights
  • Too much to drink
  • Fears (ex. dark, death, separation)
  • Media/ screen time
  • Loud noise/ unpredictable noise
  • High activity
  • Too much light
  • Stress
  • Uncomfortable clothing (ex. itchy, too hot/ too cold)
  • Eating too late
  • Sleep deprivation

There are also lots of things we can do to help our children sleep.  Here are some of the things we brainstormed at our meeting:

  • Strong, stable rhythm
  • Let the child know when it is almost time for the bedtime routine to begin (For example, sing a song as a cue and then begin the routine a few minutes later)
  • Repetition
  • Caregiving/ connection during bedtime routine
  • Modeling our own enjoyment of sleep
  • Creating a calm sleeping environment
  • Warm bath
  • Early bedtime
  • Hot water bottle/ heat on belly at bedtime
  • Ritual
  • Calming or no scent
  • Parents personal belief/ conviction that bedtime routine/ style is healthy for your child
  • Transitional/ comfort items (ex. stuffed animal, blanket)”

Helping Babies Sleep (With Empathy And Compassion) – By Eileen Henry, guest post on Elevating Child Care

The second thing I recommend is to try to distinguish between struggle and suffering in the child’s cries. Since struggle is inherent in all development, we can be confident that our child can develop a healthy relationship with struggle by allowing them to have their struggles. If at any time you hear what sounds like suffering, by all means go in and offer soothing and comfort to your child. We will always respond to suffering, but we can do so without “rescuing” or “fixing” the child’s sleep.”

How I got my baby to sleep – By Suchada at Mama Eve

“My magic secret to sleep is almost pathetically easy: I watch for when they’re tired, and then I put them to bed. I learned this “trick” from reading Magda Gerber’s book, Your Self-Confident Baby, and spending many hours with Janet Lansbury, both in person and on her blog. I feel a little silly this never occurred to me on my own. I was so wrapped up in making sure I comforted my children, and let them know I was there for them, and “helping” them go to sleep that I never realized I was in the way of letting them sleep on their own.”

The Importance of Self-Soothing to Infant Sleep (and how to support it!) – By Alice at Science of Mom

When babies associate something like feeding, rocking, or bouncing with their transition to sleep, they often expect those same conditions when they wake during the night. All of us wake during the night – babies and adults alike. We check our surroundings to make sure everything feels right, and if it doesn’t, we go on alert. When Baby C was bounced to sleep, she woke 45 minutes later and everything felt wrong – she wasn’t bouncing anymore! She called for help, and, being good, responsive parents, Husband or I came running to see if she wanted to nurse, to change her diaper, to shush her, and then finally, to bounce her again so she could go back to sleep – often only to wake again 45 minutes later to repeat the whole process. This was not a very restful night of sleep for any of us. When a baby knows how to self-soothe and falls asleep independently, she wakes in the night, checks her surroundings, and finding nothing to be alarmed about, she goes back to sleep without needing our help.”

Babies Can’t Wait Six Months to Learn Self-Calming Skills – By Kitty Raymond at Raymond Parenting

“Putting a newborn baby into bed – awake – several times each day and leaving it free to self-calm to sleep makes great sense to me.  I fear that parents are made to feel so worried that if their baby ever cries or fusses long enough to practice self-calming, it will affect the attachment process or cause emotional problems later in life.  It won’t.  It doesn’t.  This unfair fearmongering by some health professionals results in parents  rushing to pick up a fussy baby way too fast, ruining baby’s chance to show what he could do for himself.”

Babies and Crying: What’s a parent to do? – By Lisa Sunbury at Regarding Baby

The fact is, there is no evidence whatsoever that occasional CIO in typically developing babies causes any damage. PERIOD. More importantly, there IS evidence that severely sleep-deprived mothers are at much higher risk of developing an already common –and dangerous — condition: postpartum depression. And PPD certainly CAN lead to long-term damage to both baby — and the entire family. CIO is a method that, when implemented thoughtfully, can often lead to improved sleep (and health and happiness) for everyone.” – Quote by Doctor Heather Wittenberg (in post)

Why We Ditched Attachment Parenting – by Emily at Holistic Squid

It’s my opinion that for most parents, the early days of parenthood would be much easier if healthy sleep patterns are introduced at a younger age. Other moms and dads come in with chronic pain caused by baby wearing or awkward positions while co-sleeping. Parents need to know that they should not be suffering at the price of practicing attachment parenting. Don’t get me wrong, the message here is not that one way is better than the other, but in fact, the opposite. Each baby has a unique temperament, and every child will respond differently to different methods. There is not one right way to parent a child. As such, each family needs to find the best methods that work for them.”

The Subtleties of Baby Sleep (4 Important Things To Know) – By Janet Lansbury at Elevating Child Care

Babies can become unsettled and resist sleep if our attitude towards bedtime is pitying, as in “poor baby has to go sleep”; when we’re anticipating a battle, “uh-oh, this is going to be trouble”; or even when they sense our impatience, “you’re tired, so hurry up and go to sleep already!”  These attitudes make it far more difficult for our baby to do his or her job, which is to relax and let go enough to let sleep happen.

The most important thing to know about sleep is the most important thing to know about parenting in general: Babies are aware and competent whole people. They are listening, noticing, absorbing, primed to learn about us and life through our every interaction, no matter how subtle, whether we want them to or not.”

Respectful Sleep Learning Series – By Tiffany at Tongonto.com (be sure to check out all three parts)

The issue of infant sleep learning is not black and white.  There are so many options between cry-it-out and doing nothing and no parent should be expected to sacrifice herself to prevent her child from ever experiencing discomfort or frustration.  First, because it’s unreasonable, and second, because your children will experience frustration no matter how hard you try to keep it from them, but you all will handle it better if you are well rested.  Read Part III of this series for more information on how to do respectful sleep learning.”

The Gift of Sleep Stories: A Compilation of MANY Moms Success Stories with Sleep Training – By Sydney at Learning Motherhood

“People imagine that we put our babies in bed and then walk away for hours refusing any help, food, soothing, and love of any kind. I know many mothers who have sleep trained and have never heard of such a thing. I don’t call this CIO because it’s not at all. We followed a method in the beginning and then adjusted as we listened and learned more about our son and his different cries. Once we learned to listen, our reactions changed to fit his needs. Most of the negative comments were about mis-informed mothers who were fearful of crying infants. I think this is the heart of the matter; we all have different views on crying. Crying is not as big of a deal as some of us think. It was this mis-information and fear-mongering about crying that actually stopped me from listening to my instincts about my son in the first place.  It’s very important that that is heard so I’ll say it again: fear-mongering about crying actually stopped me from listening to my own instincts. 

So I want to share some of those stories with you now.  I want to be clear that I am not suggesting that this is a course of action for you. I’m ALL for co-sleeping (read my post about it) and Attachment Parenting(read that post here.) it’s just that babies and mothers are different and we all must choose what is right for our family life. My hope is simply to increase the support for mothers who do choose this path. I am suggesting that if you choose to do something like this that you talk to your baby about it then LISTEN. Really try and objectively listen as they will tell you so much more than you can imagine. Their cries are not just problems to be fixed; they are stories that they want you to hear. There will always be those who judge, so hopefully you can tune out those fearful voices and listen to you own.”

Sleep Topics covered by Janet Lansbury (tags for sleep, all great!)

In this search on Janet’s site you will find so many great posts on the subject of supporting sleep, including: Helping Babies Sleep (With Empathy And Compassion) Guest Post by Eileen HenryHow To Help Your Baby To Sleep (Without Rocking)Baby’s “No Cry” Sleep Is Exhausting (More Wisdom From Eileen Henry) and Sleep on This.

I really hope that you find these resources helpful. Please share anything else that you have found to support your own journey in supporting you baby’s sleep.

Three Tips for Tackling Toddler Toy Clutter

unnamedHaving a simple and tidy play space is not only important to me, but to my son as well. He is the kind of child that gets very easily over-stimulated when there is too much going on. So I have worked very hard to create a space that allows for independent and imaginative free play with as much order that can be hoped for when you live with a 2 year-old. I have also made sure that 99% of his toys are what Magda Gerber calls ‘passive objects'; “toys that don’t do anything. The toys respond only when the child activates them. In other words, our active child manipulates passive objects.” She applies this to babies but I feel that as they grow we must still work to keep toys very open-ended and simple to allow for more complex play. “When toys become complicated with microchips, flashing lights, and sound effects, children are easily mesmerized. Trouble is, the more the toy can do, the less the child can do.” (Read more about this from Katy at Family Education.com)

1. Keep the space simple; less is more.

Here’s an example of our playroom space. I have drawing items (crayons unnamed-1and paper), a train set, little peg people, animals and a castle, and a shelf of various cars. On the other side of his room I have a shelf of books, some nature items (shells, pinecones, etc), a basket of apple branch blocks and some old sheets to make forts or use as capes. This does not look or sound like much, but with the fewer options it is actually easier for a child to make a choice for play and stick with it. Especially if you have a child that is prone to overstimulation.

A play space is also an area that you will be best free of adult clutter. Less pictures on the wall, less noise and less artificial light. Try and find a space (if you can) that is full of natural light and away from busy street sounds. I am lucky that the playroom is in the back of our house and we have about an ache of undeveloped land behind us; a rarity in Portland! We hardly need to turn on the lights and we can hear the birds chirping through the open windows.

2. Create an organized back up with overflow toys.

In his closet I have various toys that can be taken out when he wants unnamed-2more; all he has to do is ask and then I open the closet for him to choose his toys. Among the basic overflow of extra simple toys, there are toys in here with more pieces that would become a disaster if left out all of the time such as puzzles and legos.  This is also a good way to keep toy rotation in order. About once every month I rotate which toys stay out regularly. So for now it’s trains and play people and next month it may be tools and play kitchen items. Kara Fleck from Simple Kids writes: “We rotate books and toys because I feel like rotating allows us to have  less toys but enjoy them more.” Check out her post on toy rotation for lots of great ideas.

I don’t have a rule about how much stuff he can have out but if it seems like too much, I will observe and see if there is something that I could put back. Because he likes a bit more simplicity, he usually limits this to one to two things on his own. Often times if it seems like a big mess, it might be an elaborate play that we can’t comprehend, so best to be hesitant before rushing in to clean up before we have carefully observed.

3. Only put out what YOU are willing to clean up. 

This is where the simple play space and minimal extra toys will serve YOU as well as your child. Less toys and more organization means less work for you to clean up.

It can be quite challenging to urge a small child to clean up their play space. They don’t want to because it’s nice to see all of their hard work out on display. With my own child, I will offer that he keep a few of his most special things (often a block tower or a line of cars) in a safe space for later. I clean up and invite him to help me. I do not push it, because pushing it will make most children resist, especially at that young of an age. Cleaning up with your children is a process that takes grace. Here are Five Tips to Getting Kids to Help With Clean Up, by The Awake Parent. It is perfectly acceptable to strive for a 3 year old to clean up their toys, it just takes work and patience.

I would love to hear your thoughts on managing toys. What have you found that works for your family? Here’s my son playing in his “special house,” one of his favorite things, and all he needs is an old sheet and his imagination. What simple things inspire your own child’s creativity?