Answering Hard Questions

Answering Hard Questions

Recently, our nearly six year old has been asking some real gems about the world. I have entertained several queries about God, her body, my body, the bodies of others, people’s intentions, what happens when people die, and even questions about disasters and murder.

This is not something you generally prepare for when expecting a child or when raising a youngster. Thankfully, answering hard questions can be simplified by keeping in mind three simple guiding ideas: truth, tact, and appropriateness. Please take a moment to read more at my post today on Natural Parents Network: Answering Hard Questions, and leave your own thoughts in the comments.

Wordless Wednesday: Goofy Guy


Wordless Wednesday: Indoor Active Play


Milestone Moments: I gave away my cloth diapers!

Joseph has not been wearing diapers for a few weeks now. He still has trouble remembering to go potty when he wakes up in the morning – hence the night time pull-up – but as of two months before his 3rd birthday, he has been wearing big-boy underwear full time during the day, with accidents few and far between.

At a certain point in these past few weeks, I had to decide what to do with my stash of cloth diapers.

Sweet Ride Diaper

Most of them were sewn by me: Mama made, Silly Bear Handmade fleece diapers made up about 90% of the stash. I couldn’t fathom trying to sell them on a swap site, since my WAHM diaper brand is not well known, aaaaand I’m pretty attached to some of them. . . not gonna lie. But I wasn’t sure if or how to give them away. . . because I spent so much of my time (nearly) perfecting the art or sewing cloth diapers, and all the memories of Joseph with his fleecy little bum are still so fresh in my mind.

But they had to go. I wasn’t using them anymore, and someone else could. But who?

Finally, I wandered into the perfect conversation: A friend of mine in the Kodiak community that has a large family (talking, kids from college-age to diapers) was talking about her youngest boy, who is a friend of Joe’s. He is nearly two, but she wants to hold off on doing any potty learning or training with him until they get back from a family vacation to the lower 48 this summer. Smart. However, she said, lately, J. had been pooping in several diapers per day, and she said that she just felt so wasteful throwing out diaper after diaper. I offered my stash of fleece cloth diapers, and she accepted – she asked if she could buy them off of me, but I told her NO.

“Enjoy them, take good care of them, and pay it forward to another family once you are finished with them” I said.

And then I packed them all up, handed them to her at the next play date, and that whole two-year period of Joseph’s life was absolutely over. No more diapers.


What a milestone moment.

I have a second preschooler now, wearing underwear and the nightly pull-up. Not a baby, not a toddler: a kid. Nearly three. And I gave away my cloth diapers. Wow. Amazing how life just bulldozes forward and we all grow and grow and grow.

I was very pleased to have found a family to gift with my diaper stash. And I hope that they are pleased with their gift. And I am incredibly proud of my big boy Joe that just keeps growing as if there is no stopping.


What did you do with your cloth diaper stash after your littlest was finished using it?


What kind of emotions did you experience as your children learned to potty independently?

Toddler Table Manners

IMG_1634“I’d never be able to get her to sit still without buckling her!”

“How do you know he won’t fall out?”

“I wish my kid had table manners like that.”

When our son Joseph (now almost 3) was 18 months old, he already had a grip on basic table manners. Yes, he can be a hooligan while eating just like any other child, and of course he had (and still has) his moments of devil-may-care table antics. . . but he was at 18 months able to:

  • sit still, with good posture
  • use a fork and a spoon (and fingers)
  • drink from a cup
  • and wipe his face and hands with a napkin during and when finished eating.
  • And he can tell us when he is “all done.”

We rarely if ever spoon feed him (only sometimes when he is really really tired) and he also knows to clean up messes that he makes. He loves to wipe the table, even if at this point, he doesn’t get it very clean.

He has these skills because we have been enabling him to learn and use them since he began eating solid foods around 6-7 months. We allowed our child to learn these skills by presenting him with the means to discover his own abilities through a Montessori-inspired presentation and nurture of table skills.

We have thoroughly enjoyed and benefitted as a family from the use of a method that allows real baby-led weaning: the choice to choose foods and eat them at will, in a comfortable and empowering physical environment.

If you would like to read more, please visit my full post on Toddler Table Manners: A Montessori-Inspired
Approach on The full post has information about introducing a napkin and using utensils, too!

Yes, I nursed two children at once!

This is a question that I get frequently from friends and from mothers when I’m leading La Leche League meetings. Many moms and expectant moms are curious about how (and why) I tandem nursed our two silly bears, Abbey (now 5) and Joe (now nearly 3). Yes, I nursed two children at once! Yes, I nursed two children at once!

Here is a post that I wrote a while back to discuss tandem nursing. It may not be a goof fit for everyone, but for us, with some reflection and adaptation, it worked to our advantage and to our children’s great benefit. Abbey weaned naturally at 4 years and 11 months – and Joe, now nearly 3 years old, comes to my breast an average of twice per day (surrounding sleeping times).

Navigating a Tandem Nursing Experience

When I became pregnant with our second child, Joseph, I was elated. Instantly, I thought forward to tandem nursing Abbey (who would be 2.5 years at Joseph’s due date) and our new baby, and I was really looking forward to enjoying the experience of nursing two children and the bond that it would form!

When the actual tandem nursing experience came to pass, elated wasn’t quite the right word for the feelings that surfaced. At times I found myself feeling like a mommy dog, nursing a litter of pups! But it still was wonderful, and it’s been an interesting and beautiful experience, and a stunning example of how our bodies are made to mother and how our mothering is meant to evolve.


Tandem Nursing During the Newborn Period


One of the first things that Abbey said about her baby brother was “Mommy, you need to give my brother Mamas. He wants mamas to drink!” and she started to undo my nursing tank and gently nudge Joseph’s head toward my breast. Sharing was not an issue for Abbey. She constantly wanted to “share mamas” with Joseph, and was happy to do so. But she wanted to share with Joseph every time that he ate. . . and as a newborn eats upwards of 12 times per day, I had to tell Abbey that sharing with him every time he nursed was just not feasible nor was it a comfortable thing for me.


When planning to tandem nurse, I urge you to do some meditating on the newborn stage, and prepare some appropriate limits and explanations for your older child about why a newborn baby nurses so frequently, and how that is different from the pattern of nursing that they use as an older child. For example: You’re not a baby; you’re my big girl: For Abbey, it was vital that I explain to her that she just could not nurse all day long. . . statements like “Babies drink mamas all the time because they’re growing really really fast. You’re a big girl, and big girls drink mamas sometimes AND eat food to grow tall and strong!”


Abbey still enjoys eating her snack and then running around the house showing off her strong muscles and long legs. Feeding Abbey a snack while Joseph nursed in mid-morning or mid-afternoon was also helpful. I’d preface her snack with “Wow, won’t Joseph be excited when he is old enough to have this yogurt like you! What a special snack!” and then when she was settled with her snack, I would settle down to nurse Joseph.

Tandem Nursing an Older Baby and a Preschooler

Simply saying “No thank you” and asking Abbey to respect my words when she would ask me for “mamas” started to happen more and more as Joseph grew into a crawling infant and would need to nurse for reasons other than just sustenance.

When he would [and still] “ask[s]” to nurse by rooting at by breast or signing for milk because his gums were sore from teething pains or if he fell and bumped his body while trying to learn a new gross motor skill, I would scoop him up and nurse him. . . and Abbey wanted me to do the same for her.

At this point, I just had to start saying “No thank you” to her requests to nurse. . . evolving my child-led-weaning ideals to save the happiness of the household, and do best by both of my children.

I was feeling touched-out and challenged by Abbey’s intensity and demanding nature regarding my “mamas”. And mommy off balance is not good for a family.

Teaching Bodily Integrity:

I needed to come back to a place of balance and peace, and setting limits with my nursing preschooler allowed me to reinstate balance and peace in our tandem nursing relationship and in our household.

I had planned on letting Abbey naturally wean and not imposing my feelings on her requests at all. But this type of all or nothing approach just didn’t work out for our family, and so I taught Abbey a respect for my bodily integrity right alongside teaching her about her own.

Committing to and explaining bodily integrity: I told Abbey, “This is my body, and these are my “mamas”. I choose to share them with you because I love you, and I know you need to nurse sometimes. But I can’t nurse you all the time, and I feel so unhappy when you throw a fit over nursing. Ask me calmly about nursing, and then mommy can enjoy nursing you!”

If you find yourself feeling touched-out by tandem nursing, I urge you to contemplate the WHO’s recommendation on breastfeeding past infancy, and meditate on what it means for you.

They recommend breastfeeding to 2 years of age and then after that, as long as is mutually beneficial and desired.

I asked myself, “I know that breastfeeding my older child is normal and healthy for both of us. But I am having a hard time. What would make this nursing relationship desirable once more for me? What can I change to make it beneficial for ME?” So that I could provide a peaceful and comforting nursing relationship for Abbey instead of one filled with strain and struggle.

Finding Peace:

What I needed was peace in our nursing sessions. With some work, establishing and enforcing nursing limits for Abbey, we have once more come to a place of peace in our tandem nursing story. Now, Every day when Abbey comes downstairs from her nap, she asks to nurse on the sofa – she offers her brother one breast or the other, and takes the other “mama” for herself. Switching after a couple minutes, holding hands, playfully tickling and tugging at each other, my little toddler and beautiful child tandem nurse at my breast . . . and I am finally, actually elated about tandem nursing, just like I dreamt I would be.

This post was originally published on

Encouraging Healthy Sleep Habits Encouraging Healthy Sleep HabitsIt was a cool, fall night, a couple years ago. The curtains were drawn but I’d left the windows cracked, and I was enjoying the soft night air as I sipped some wine and knit in front of the TV. Joseph and Abbey were snugly tucked in for night-night time, and I was relishing in the peace and quiet.

Until I felt that something was amiss.

I couldn’t concentrate on Emily Deschanel and David Borneaz and the Booth/Brennan love affair on the TV. . . I messed up my knitting three times in a row. So I got up to go check the house and see what was bugging my mommy-senses.

When I got up the stairs, I noticed the glow of Abbey’s flower light. Her door was wide open and her bed was empty. I checked the restroom. No Abbey. I checked our bedroom, quietly, so as not to wake Joseph, sleeping by our bedside. Abs wasn’t in there, either. So, where was she? I started to panic just a little and headed back downstairs. I checked the whole house twice over, looking for my preschooler, and started to panic that she had gone outside without me knowing! Then I heard a thump in the dining room and a little voice that scared me out of my skin.

“I’m just hiding mommy” she peeped.

You should have seen me.

I nearly peed myself, I was so startled.

Abbey had been under the dining table the whole time. Quiet as a mouse, she had ninja-sneaked her way out of her room, down the stairs, through the kitchen, and under the dining room table without me even hearing her. And scared me to death both with the thought that she may have gone outside in the middle of the night and with her startling reappearance.

“In your bed, NOW Abbey. You scared me! Bed. NOW.”

And now, the same scene repeats itself with Joe as my new little escape artist.

Bedtime. . . how should we handle it?

Encouraging Healthy Sleeping Habits

(How to deal with sneaky bedtime escape artists) Encouraging Healthy Sleep Habits Sleep is a huge target issue with all parents. It’s how we recharge our batteries – and as adults (and especially as parents) we get so little of it that we find sleeping precious. Ironically, our little ones. . . don’t always share that sentiment. From naptime struggles to endless bedtime negotiations. . . from silliness and slyness to serious and scary nightmares and fears, sleep is an issue that affects every parent and child. Sleep is also a necessary and vital component to a child’s overall health and well being. Toddlers need 12-14 hours of sleep per 24-hour period and preschoolers require 11-13 hours to be at their best 1. It’s important to make sure our children get enough sleep and that they develop healthy sleeping habits to serve them in adolescence and adulthood. But how? With ninja-like sneaking, stall tactics, tantrums, fears, etc. . . our little ones can make naptime and bedtime incredibly tricky. Here’s my list of tips to help resolve naptime and bedtime struggles so you and your Silly Bears can rest well.

  1. Compassion and Authenticity. Let’s be real, parents: coping with a child who is sensitive or troublesome at bedtime is incredibly irritating, no matter how truly frightened they are or incredibly hilarious their antics can be. Naptime and Bedtime are important, and we really don’t like it when bedtime snuggles become bedtime struggles. Be compassionate with yourself and allow yourself to be upset about sleep issues. I find that if I allow myself to be frustrated, it’s easier to be calm and solve the issue. Also important to remember is that you are not alone in having sleep time struggles and issues. Being authentic and compassionate with yourself is a great first step to overcoming the issue at hand and encouraging healthy sleep (and stress) habits for your little one.
  2. Clarity. Don’t let the cat get your tongue when your little one escapes bed, but don’t turn into Tolstoy with your response, either. A simple “It’s bedtime. Let’s go back to your bed.” is good enough.
  3. Calm. Nothing ruins parental authority faster than an emotional meltdown, or an adult temper tantrum. If I need a moment to compose myself after several times of putting a sneaky escape artist back to bed, I take one – and I am always glad that I did. Yelling, threatening, or chastising a toddler or child for sneaking out of bed sometimes feels satisfying, but it is far from successful and definitely not a healthy habit. I find that when I stay calm but firm in my voice and word choice, “It’s bedtime” resonates much more with my children.
  4. Consistency. I cannot stress this enough: Children thrive on consistency. Make a plan for yourself, and get your partner in on the plan as well. Make an effort to respond the same way each and every time that a child gets out of bed or protests going to sleep. Ours goes somewhat in this order:
  • Defining Night Night: “It’s night night time. At night, we get comfy in our beds, close our eyes and go to sleep. It’s your job to rest and I’ll see you in the morning!”
  • Do you need something to help you sleep? (our list goes extra kisses, a bedtime water cup, a small snack, and then and only then, extra cuddles)
  • Mommy and daddy love you, but its bedtime – it’s time to sleep now!

We repeat this as much as we need to, as calmly as possible, for as long as it takes to settle our Silly Bears. Usually, it takes no more than one or two go-throughs. Other nights, it can be a marathon.

5. Candor. Be truthful with your children about their need for rest, and be truthful with yourself about how much energy you can give to entertain your child’s bedtime push-back. Try not to compare your bedtimes to other families routines, but being truthful about how you do bedtime with your parenting peers is helpful for everyone, if it comes up.

How do you handle sneaky bedtime escapes, or toddler tenacity when it comes to night time?


Do you find that Consistency, Calm, Clarity, and Compassion help YOU and your family to maintain a healthy bed time routine?

Tell me in the comments!

Embracing technology to help with parenting

Today I’m hosting a guest post by Barbara Sheppard about how being a techno mom can save time, money, and even help keep your kids safe.


“Mommy brain” may not be an actual diagnosis, but mention it around a group of moms, and they’ll all knowingly nod their heads. “Mommy brain” describes the point where lack of sleep and excess of minutia collide…that point where details both important and unimportant start leaking out.

Many moms have turned to technology – especially smart phone apps – to help them keep it all together. You may find them in a folder called “Family Management,” “Sanity Savers,” or something similar on a mom’s phone. What they have in common is adding a dollop of fun to meeting a specific need using the following top apps:

Baby Timer

Baby Timer, recommended by, helps busy moms keep track of their baby’s schedule. Although a timer may feel unnatural and cold to you, there are some circumstances when Baby Time can be an invaluable tool. For example, your child has a digestive problem, and your pediatrician needs to know how many times they have had a bowel movement during the day. You can use the app to record each diaper change. You can use the journal feature to write down notes for the doctor, keep track of baby’s vitamins and medications, and create shopping lists. And for parents with twins, triplets, and even more, this app is a lifesaver, especially in the early days before the babies have settled into a regular routine. Whether you have one baby or multiples, the ability to track the scheduling details for both multiples and older siblings can free your mind for other things – like sleeping.


One of the most frequent questions moms hear is, “When is it my turn?” In a family with several kids, it’s not unusual to have timers running on the stove, the microwave, the phone, and the tablet…all at the same time. How else can moms keep with whose turn it is on the computer, who’s used up all of their TV time, how long the chicken has been in the oven, etc.? Timer+ lets you run as many timers as you want, all at the same time. You can even label each timer, so that you don’t have to try to remember what each alarm means.


A lot of moms can relate to gazing at a sale price in a store, trying to remember whether it’s actually a good deal. PriceBook takes the burden off your memory. You enter the various price points of the items you buy the most at each of your favorite stores; as long as you have your phone with you, you’ll have the information you need.

Using Technology

Photo Credit: Gesa Henselmans

The Mom App

The Mom App (there’s also The Dad App) is the all-in-one motherlode of family management apps. Shopping lists (complete with flags for items that have available coupons), to-do lists, medical information, recipes, and more, The Mom App can convert even the most tech-resistant. It even has the ability to share items with dad, caregivers, or anyone else who needs the information.

Family Tracker

Moms of older kids will love Family Tracker, recommended by (another popular parenting web site). Once your kids have accepted your tracking request, you can keep up with their whereabouts via the GPS on their phones. It comes with a built-in text messaging system (that also lets you know when your messages have been read), and you can even program it to play a loud, obnoxious siren if your kid isn’t picking up.


Once the logistics of daily life are under control for the immediate family, moms have time to worry about other things…like all of those birthdays and special occasions they’ve been forgetting. Treat makes it easy to send greeting cards to your loved ones. And not just any cards. With Treat, you can create a greeting card like no other by choosing a design and personalizing it with not only your own text, but a personal photo you upload right into the app. They’ll mail the card for you, and even include a gift card from one of several popular retailers. Even better, they’ll remind you so you never miss a date. And, in case you do forget, you can snap a quick photo and send an instant personalized digital card.

Technology is here to stay. According to a survey from Common Sense Media, 38 percent of children under the age of two have used a mobile device. That number is only going to rise. Smart moms will do their best to keep up, both to share something that is vitally important to their kids and to take advantage of technology to manage increasingly complex family logistics.

Barbara Sheppard is a mommy blogger. She enjoys finding innovative ways of using technology to improve family life.

Friday Focus: Love and Discipline Busy Mom

These two can keep a mama busy and create some stress! Self-control is so important in parenting with love and respect.

I often get questions from personal friends and from online followers on why (and how) we choose not to punish by spanking. I will be totally honest and say that both my husband and I have failed in this and have laid hurtful hands on the kids in moments of weakness and helpless anger. But mostly, if we feel angry and unable to handle things calmly, we try to take a parent time out util we can deal with the problem and/or behavior with calm and consistency with our house rules.

Modeling and consistency are key.  Discipline is showing a child the way to live. They’re following in our footsteps. So, spanking makes absolutely no sense. It’s telling a child, “I don’t like what you did, and I’m bigger than you, so I can exert my power over you and hit you” it also says “you’re bad!” to the child. So I try not to do it. I don’t want to create more stress in hour house than there already is!


Modeling and Consistency Compassionate Time-Outs

I usually carefully police my OWN behavior in order to make sure that I am showing my babies the kind of person I want them to look up to. I do use time outs, but only when one of the kids really needs a break from the situation at hand – and the time outs are not punishments, they are time to stop and think about the rule that they are disregarding. So, I sit WITH them, we watch the clock, and take deep breaths for one minute (or three minutes, sometimes, for Abbey). Then we recite the rule that the child broke, talk about what happened to lead to the destructive or disrespectful behavior, and think of something we can do differently next time.

Time outs aren’t shame-based when they’re used with compassion. . . and they’re not useless when used with consistency and presence. It helps the child think about what they’re doing and the actions that they’re taking. And lets them know that mommy (or daddy) cares about them. Responding with sensitivity can be so useful in consistently supporting house rules and respectful behavior without shaming.

In Their Shoes

Of course, this example uses breastfeeding as an example for an adult to get “in children’s shoes” . . . the topic is so central in my life as a LLL Leader and student of Public Health. So, here we go: lets get into a situation in which we are upset and someone is trying to change our behavior with words.

Suppose you are a mom (or maybe you are a mom) who tried awfully hard to breastfeed, but ended up weaning from the breast early and using formula. Would you feel empowered to try again if someone said “shame on you for not making it work the first time! You need to be punished for the way you behaved! Babies deserve breastmilk! What’s wrong with you!?” or if someone said instead, “I’m sorry it didn’t work out the first time. That must make you feel sad. I can help you try again. We can talk about this, and next time you try, I know you can succeed!”

I’m pretty sure that in both of the situations above, you would prefer the gentle, supportive, sensitive approach. It’s human to be self-preserving, and being yelled at or shamed is scary. We respond better to positive language and perform tasks (including learning how to calm down when upset) better when positive, supportive language is used.

Obviously, we as adults don’t want to be shamed and ridiculed for our behaviors – It feels awful, even just thinking about it, doesn’t it!? So why would we want to put that same heavy, awful feeling on our little ones?

Do you try to parent with compassion?

What do you think your discipline tactics say to your child?

Wordless Wednesday – Hiking and Painting