Category Archives: Parenting

Sleeping, for us, for now

I think “for us, for now” are really good words to learn as a parent.

This week was a tempest in the sleep department, in a teacup of my own making. After two nights of trying out a major change to Del’s sleep habits, I realized that the only change I really wanted was an earlier bedtime for my little man. I wanted that partly for him, because when he’s not well-rested, he’s more irritable and less playful (like both of his parents!) and when he is well-rested, he’s a giggling little charmer, And I wanted it partly for us, because, well, we like to cook and eat dinner. That’s a neat thing to be able to do. We also like to watch TV together while we eat, and I like to keep Del’s TV exposure minimal. We might also like to have sex sometimes, and it certainly helps if you’re not worn out with three hours of cranky-baby management at the end of the day… but that’s another post…or maybe not.

Anyhow, after giving some ideas from books a few tries, and feeling horrible and seeing no good effects whatsoever (except that my child slept really heavily after three hours of crying… don’t we all?!)  and after taking with several terrific moms about their sleep decisions, I dropped the whole project.

My goal is for a well-rested baby to go to sleep most of the time around 7:30 -8. For us, for now, that means some good activity in the late afternoon to use up some of our little man’s boundless energy. Then it means a nice calming bath, and nursing to sleep in bed. It means if he’s sleeping he can stay in our bed while we eat in the next room. It means we’ve “won” if he’s asleep for a couple of hours that first time after “bed time” and then he gets to nurse again because he’ll fall back asleep. And it means when we come to bed, we move our slumbering baby to his crib till he wakes to eat again.

For us, for now, this meets the goal, and neither Del or I have to cry about it.


When baby makes four

Dana Byrd lives in Charlotte, NC where she practices her supermom skills raising her two sons, working from home and running insane distances before 7 am. Her calm mothering and boundless sense of humor inspire me. Guess what: she’s also a terrific writer! – kjw


Warning: guest blogger has a propensity toward overusing parenthetical asides and is self-indulgent with the dash.  Be prepared to get lost in the morass that is her mind on two small children.

I love being a mama: love it, love it, love it.  I’ll be candid, I never really liked kids all that much until I had my own; babies especially just sort of seemed weird and oh-fine-I’ll-admit-it: gross (they poop on themselves!).  Continue reading

Our International House of Pancakes?

From contributing writer Ann Croft, whose skills at interpreting baby dance are legendary.

Like many new parents, we are teaching our child to use sign language to communicate with us.  And, like many new babies, our daughter is teaching us her own version of that sign language so that we can better understand her needs and desires (which, by the way, are one and the same to her).

The best example of this is her sign for pancakes.  Actually, it’s not a sign so much as it is an interpretive dance.

It seems when I first gave her a pancake, I acted out this elaborate pantomime that included shaking my head from side to side while blowing on the pancake and saying the word “hot” over and over.

Can you now guess what my child does EVERY time she wants a pancake?

And this kid wants pancakes all the time.  My husband makes large batches of toddler-sized oval pancakes a few times a month and freezes them in zip lock bags.  He makes blueberry and oatmeal ones for her breakfast and sweet potato ones for dinner.   I’ve included the recipe for the sweet potato pancake below.  The blueberry oatmeal is something that he throws together with Bisquick, blueberries and rolled oats.

But, before you worry that my child’s diet is as limited as her vocabulary (she says both hi and hot).  Let me assure you she eats many things, but none so enthusiastically as her pancakes.  And, if her violent head-shaking, near hyper-ventilating blowing and repetition of “HOT” over and over don’t get her that much-needed pancake fast enough – well, our little Einstein will go through the litany of signs (More? Eat? Bird? Hat?) until a pancake is placed in her out reached hand and she begins cramming it into her mouth.

Maybe we should learn the sign for pancake?

Sweet Potato Pancake Recipe

1 T butter (melted)

½ C Cooked Sweet Potatoes (mashed)

1 egg

1/3 C Flour

½ t baking powder

¼ C milk

Mix sweet potatoes with egg.  Stir in flour and baking powder.  Add the milk and the butter.  Cook on a buttered skillet over medium heat.

My baby ate!

Tonight Del Giacomo Walls ate his first solid food! I made fresh steamed sweet potato and mama’s milk puree, and we set Del up in his Bumbo seat to have a taste. He LOVED it. I am so proud of my little guy. He ate happily, played with the spoon himself, and, because our child is hilarious, he licked his tray between bites! After his bath (sweet potatoes are sticky!) he snuggled up and nursed and fell asleep. Oh my little baby, soak in all those vitamins. This mama is one happy lady.

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Nine tips to survive being a single-income family

I read recently that about 70 percent of moms return to work after the birth or adoption of their child – about 65 percent of them returning before their child is 5 years old. Makes sense, really – it’s hard to live on one income these days. And lots of women enjoy and miss their full time jobs, and god knows the world needs bright, capable women in decision making roles in every field. (And yep, I  know sometimes it’s a dad staying at home – I just didn’t parse the stats that deeply.)

If the 30-35 percent of parents at home with their babies are anything like me, it’s a reality check to start living on just one primary income. A few months into our adventure of living frugally, I have accumulated a few helpful ideas for making it work. They might help you too.

1) Budget for the necessities first. Necessities are the bills and the food. Get the bills out of the way, then buy the food. What’s left can be divided among other priorities and you know the lights, heat and pantry are covered.

image from

2) Become an expert menu planner. I love to watch Kitchen Nightmares (especially the British version). It’s not even funny how much my fridge used to resemble a Kitchen Nightmare restaurant fridge (ok, I think it is funny…). But bad planning results in waste (now whether you have the presence of mind to toss that waste is another thing, right Gordon Ramsay?) and when you’re living on one income waste is only funny if Gordon will come to your house and call you a donkey. Like the great chef advises all those loser chefs, I have really focused on menu planning that make ssmart use of ingredients and utilizes leftovers. Leftovers are first a lunch meal the next day, then any remaining ingredients or elements of the meal get used in meals on later days. Example, tacos one night provide meat and toppings for taco salads at lunch the next day. The following night any remaining taco meat can go into a chili along with the half tub of salsa. The cheese and sour cream get used as chili toppings. The following day, the chili and cheese can top tortilla chips for a great nacho lunch. If this is a no-brainer for you, congrats! you’ve achieved menu planning expert status and no one will call you a donkey. I’m still working on it, but it feels good to be eating well, wasting nothing, and keeping within the budget. Continue reading

*whispers* Elmo!

From contributing writer Ann Croft,  one of the coolest moms I know.


I am ashamed to admit it, but I have let my 13 month-old watch television.  And not just once – more like once a week.

I am ashamed, not because I grew up without television, but, because I am one of those obnoxious people who will state with disgust, “Oh – I don’t watch T.V.”   And here I am, letting – no not letting – encouraging my baby to watch Elmo.

I’ve got a million excuses.  And they all begin with the fact that I’m exhausted.

The kicker is that my kid, my brilliant, creative, funny kid, LOVES Elmo.  The first time I put in an Elmo DVD (that my pusher-husband brought home from the library – yes, let’s blame him!) she stopped what she was doing, plopped down on the rug, and said, “Hi!” to the T.V.  She was hooked.

She laughs uproariously when Elmo laughs.  Which is ALL the time, by the way.  And she bops along to his silly songs.  I’m pretty sure she thinks Elmo is a very talented cat as she calls to him the same way she calls our housecats.

While she watches, she will often turn her head to check in with me almost as if she is making sure that I am soaking it all in with her.  Her eyes seem to say, “Got that, mommy, got that?  Mr. Noodle thinks a banana is a telephone!  Oh Mr. Noodle!”

And it gets better.  I let her stand directly beneath the television, holding on to the table with her neck bent almost 90 degrees staring up at the screen.  Yes, I have moved her away for fear that she’ll strain her eyes or pull the whole thing down on herself.  But it’s as if she just can’t get close enough to Elmo.  She always ends up back in that position.

Get this girl a hard hat!

So.  Not only is my child’s brain being turned to mush by the evil producers of Sesame Street, she is going to need a neck brace and glasses by the time she gets to kindergarten.

But let me tell you.  As guilty as I feel.  As much as I try to keep this my dirty little secret.  As much as I say, “Just this once because I am soooo tired.  But after this, never again,” I have to admit it, much like my 13 month-old, I’m hooked on Elmo.


Do dah doo doo Do dah doo doo Elmo’s World. . . .♬♫

Parents tell the truth about becoming parents

Letty shared this amazing video with me via Woah Baby on Facebook yesterday. This is GOOD, TRUE stuff, people. Watch it. Twice.