Search Results for: sleeping babies

22 weeks: I am big and lazy {pregnancy update}

Wow.  I feel amazed again at how much bigger I am just a week later.  I did a little googling and found that babies often experience a growth spurt from 16-20 weeks, so maybe we’re at the tail end of that.  Then again, maybe gravity has been unkind because I had several very long days last week when Perry, Deanna and I attended the Texas Republican Convention as delegates.

You know those tiny gold toned baby feet pins you can get from pro-life organizations?   I spent 3 days with mine pinned to the belly of my shirt and everyone who noticed loved it.   It also helped cover my belly button, which is beginning to pop out and will stay there for the next several months.

I can’t believe the third trimester is creeping up on me – or am I creeping up on it?  It seems like this pregnancy has gone very quickly so far.  I think there are several reasons:

  1. I didn’t spend the first 3 months counting the days until I stopped puking.
  2. We’ve been uncharacteristically busy – though I’ve been saying that for a long time.  Eventually I may have to accept this pace as the new normal for us.
  3. The end of my childbearing years is getting closer.  I may have 10 years or more, but I don’t know.  Each pregnancy is more likely to be my last, so I find myself savoring the experience more each time and less anxious to be done.  I can’t wait to meet my baby and every milestone is exciting, but every day is precious too.
Belly pics
Will I regret it if I skip the dress this week and just settle for the pic above?  This week has been HOT so far, and I have no desire to pull on a full length synthetic dress, go outside for a photo session, and change clothes again.  It just sounds like a lot of work.  Dinner is in the crock pot, the little kids are napping, the laundry is caught up, and it’s the heat of the day.  I’d much rather sit in front of a fan and drink ice water.  Wouldn’t you?

Baby at 22 weeks

  • Baby is about 11 inches long and weighs in at about 1 pound.
  • Baby reacts to loud sounds.
  • Baby starts having a regular sleeping and waking rhythm.
  • The mother’s movements can wake her baby.
  • Taste buds are forming on baby’s tongue.
  • more

Your turn: How are you this week?  Leave your update in the comments or link to it!

21 weeks: I did the Drano gender test {pregnancy update}

I had a prenatal checkup last Thursday, and Jennifer asked if I was sure about my dates.  She asked because I’m still measuring 3 cm. big, just like last time.  Neither of us said the T[win] word, probably because neither of us thinks that’s why.  I assume it has more to do with the fact that my uterus knows exactly how big it’s going to get over the next 5 months and just wants to be proactive in the process.  Apparently my uterus is not a procrastinator like the rest of my body, although that begs the question “why are my babies born late?”  Somebody needs to have a talk with my uterus.

In other news, we went to a baby shower over the weekend – not for our own baby, but for a newlywed at church who is expecting a honeymoon baby!  I think our baby celebrated his/her first shower by getting the hiccups.  I don’t think it’s the first time, but it’s the first time it was distinct and rhythmic enough to be reasonably sure.

One of the games we played at the shower required us to fill in the last few words in a line from a nursery rhyme.  One stumped everyone because we all remembered different versions, and we ended up guessing wildly: Rub-a-dub-dub, 3 men in a tub, how do you think ____  ____  ____.

they all fit?

they managed to wash?

they got there?

But Megan’s guess brought down the house: how do you think their wives felt?

What’s your best answer?

Drano gender test

OK, I did it: the Drano gender test.  It’s generally categorized with old wives’ tales, but my midwife chuckled a little before telling me that it’s the only one with enough credibility to make it into the midwifery texts.  If I remember correctly, she said that the chemical reaction has to do with hormones produced in part by the baby.  That means that while there can be a lot of variation, it does seem to have a better than 50/50 accuracy level – if you can figure out whose instructions to follow and how to interpret the results.  She also backed up what another friend’s midwife told her: Until 20 years ago, it was considered somewhat accurate in the midwifery community. In her words: “It’s the best and most accurate of the just-for-fun tests.”  Since then the Drano formula has changed, and now you have to use the crystals to get anything better than 50/50.

Of course you could be a stick-in-the-mud and point out that anecdotal evidence is meaningless because people will remember the times it worked and forget the times it failed, but who likes a stick-in-the-mud?  I did a lot of googling, and here’s what seems to give the best results:

How to do the Drano baby gender test:

  1. Wait until at least 20 weeks gestation (some sources say 16 weeks).
  2. Save some of your first morning urine in a canning jar.  Laugh at all the people who think this test is dangerous because they imagine you peeing into a jar that is already filled with Drano.
  3. Take it outside and add some Crystal Drano (must be crystals, not liquid. I found it at WalMart).  Laugh at the people who thought you had to actually pee outside to do this test.
  4. Stand back – this will generate heat and toxic fumes.  Laugh at the people who think this is dangerous because you might hover over the jar sniffing your own fizzy pee fumes.
  5. Wait until the chemical reaction has finished and check the color of the resulting liquid: brownish or blackish indicates a boy, greenish, bluish, or no change indicates a girl.
  6. Take it with a grain of salt.  🙂  The results, that is.  Not the urine/Drano mixture.  Please dispose of that carefully and safely.
My results?  Definitely brownish.  A boy?  We’ll see!  Oddly enough, most of our household is hoping for or expecting a girl (the guesses ran 9 to 3).  We love the craziness of a house with boys, but even the boys think it’s time for another baby girl, and PerryBoy thinks it’s important that we stick to our current pattern of girl, boy, girl, boy…GIRL.  He’s very mathematically minded.  I find it easier to picture myself with a baby girl this time, but does anyone think that might be because so far 80% of my babies have been girls?  As hubby would say, “Ya think?!
I plan to do the test again this week, but a bit more scientifically.  This morning, I used about 2 oz of urine and 2 Tbs of Drano crystals.  Next, I want to start with a small (measured) amount of Drano and watch the results.  Then I’ll add a little more, and a little more, and a little more.  My plan is to see if the proportions used change the results significantly.

Belly pics

Update 1: I did the test again, this time in several different proportions. Every time, the results were unquestionably brownish. Of course we still don’t know if the results are correct in our case or if we’re even interpreting it correctly, but it’s definitely consistent for me.

Update 2: On July 3, I had an ultrasound. Boy! In this case – my first time to try the Drano gender test – it was right!

We’re past the halfway point now, and I’m pretty sure the baby has entered a growth spurt.  Well, one of us has, and I’m hoping the it’s the baby.  Now I wake up looking like I did at bedtime last week: remember the Lumpy Sleeping Bag effects of gravity?  I haven’t googled to see if this is a typical time for a growth spurt, because if it’s not then I don’t want to know.

The dress is lying for me, like any good friend would.  I’m WAY bigger than this in real life.  I’m big enough that a total stranger asked me when I was due, and she didn’t even see me from the side.

Baby at 21 weeks:


  • Length is now measured crown to heel: baby has grown to 10.5 inches (27 cm) – 12.7 ounces (360 grams)!
  • The small intestine is starting to absorb sugar from the amniotic fluid.
  • Bone marrow has started making blood cells.
  • more

I would LOVE to hear from anyone who does (or already did) the Drano test as described  above – especially if you already know what you’re having so you can tell us if it worked or failed for you!  If you did it differently, please let us know that too.  Who thinks it’s complete poppycock?  Who thinks there might be something to it?

4 Moms Q&A

4 Moms, 35 Kids It’s time for the monthly Q&A.  You’ve got questions, and we’re all wondering if I have answers.  Let’s give it a try, shall we?

Q: We just had our first child and are so excited to start our family! We have recently been convicted not to have so much control over the number of children the Lord might want to send, but I’m concerned about my health, and the health of our next baby, if we were to get pregnant again in the next few months. How much time was there between your children since you were able to breast feed? How do you help your body recover between babies?

A: I have always gotten pregnant when my baby is:

a.) taking more food than breastmilk

b.) consistently sleeping through the night

This varies from one woman to the next, but my fertility doesn’t return until both of the above are true.  With the first 6, this gave us natural spacing of almost exactly 19 months.  Since then our spacing has stretched to about 2 years. I don’t do anything special to help my body recover between babies, but I do try to maintain a generally active lifestyle and healthy diet whether I’m pregnant or not, and I take prenatal vitamins whenever I remember.  I’ve been nursing and/or pregnant non-stop since 2 months after my wedding, nearly 20 years ago, so prenatal vitamins are always appropriate!

Q. When you really want another baby how do you keep from pining away for another one and accept what God has for you at that moment? (Seems to me that is almost harder to trust God then than when you aren’t interested in having more.) Also, how do you survive the first trimester blahs?

A. That’s not really something I’ve had to face.  I always seem to have another baby before the pining kicks in.  I guess I’ve occasionally found myself on the flip side of the coin: learning that I’m pregnant before I feel ready for another baby, especially back when all the kids were little and I  already felt overwhelmed with day-to-day life. I quickly learned that my attitude was closely linked to my husband’s: when he was excited, I was.  When he felt hesitant, I felt the same way.  I think that when we both realized how much his attitude impacted mine, we also realized that we are able and responsible to rule our emotions rather than being led by them.  When we resolved to welcome each new addition with unmitigated joy, it just seemed to happen naturally. I know this doesn’t necessarily answer your question, but I do think the key is to rest content in God’s will and His timing.  We should bend our heart toward His will, rather than following our heart wherever it leads us. How do I survive the first trimester blahs?  Mainly by reminding myself that it only lasts a season.  This too shall pass.  🙂

Q. I need discipline help!!! I already have read your posts and the posts at Raising Olives on the subject. I have also studied the scriptures. I need to make changes in my home, but I would like a concrete example of HOW you USE discipline.

Q. I’ve got baby #5 on the way and trying to deal w/a very defiant 3.5 yr old is leaving me exhausted/flustered. He’s always been more on the energetic, spirited side – so I’m wondering if any of your littles gave you a hard way to go and the way you handled it biblically. 🙂

A. I’ll borrow advice from the Headmistress over at the the Common Room, and tell you that offering specific discipline advice online is dangerous business.  It’s too easy to misunderstand and be misunderstood.  Instead, I would suggest you seek out a Christian family with happy, well-behaved children in your church or other circles.  Choose somebody you trust and admire, invite them into your home so they can get to know your family, and ask them. I will tell you this much: we have our share of spirited and strong-willed children, and it’s more important than ever to train them while they are young.  A little one who is accustomed to getting his way will become a defiant teen someday, one who towers over his mom (and possibly his dad) and is unwilling to be led by anything but his own desires, determined to learn every lesson the hard way – or not at all.  That is not what we want for our children.  We’re not in this for ourselves, and the path of least resistance now can lead to hardship and grief for everyone involved in years to come.

Q. How do you teach holiness and purity to your pre-teens/teenagers. What resources do you use other than the Bible (if any). And at what age have you taught the “facts of life”.

A. In a society where nearly every teen has a never-ending chain of boyfriends/girlfriends, it’s not hard to address this topic.  It’s all around us, and we have talked about it freely since they were little. We have several books that have proven helpful:

The Princess and the Kiss BookThe Princess and the Kiss – A loving king and queen present their daughter with a gift from God — her first kiss — to keep or to give away. Amidst a culture that mocks purity and virtue, give your daughters a storybook that beautifully portrays the value of purity and the rewards of waiting on God’s timing. By Jennie Bishop. Hardback. 30 pgs.

Before You Meet Prince CharmingBefore You Meet Prince Charming – How can young people be committed to purity and to God’s best? This guide to radiant purity combines the story of a young princess with solid, clear teaching of biblical convictions that young ladies today need to grasp. Through a captivating fairy tale, modern day examples, practical instruction, and abundant humor, Sarah Mally challenges young ladies to turn to the Lord for fulfillment, to guard their hearts and minds, to identify and avoid the world’s thinking, and to shine brightly in this generation. Beall Phillips writes, “Every young lady desiring to be married one day must read this book! It will challenge you; it will stir you; it will delight you! Most importantly, it will help you practically prepare for one of the most important decisions of your life.” Suggested for young ladies ages 12 and up.

What He Must Be...If He Wants to Marry My DaughterWhat He Must Be…If He Wants to Marry My Daughter – What will you say when that certain young man sits down in your living room, sweaty-palmed and tongue-tied, and asks permission to marry your daughter? What criteria should he meet before the two of them join together for life?

Gratefully, God has given us a clear picture of the role of the husband/father in the home, and in What He Must Be…If He Wants to Marry My Daughter, Dr. Voddie Baucham breaks this picture down into ten desirable qualities. Not only should parents of young women seek these qualities in a son in law, but parents of young men should strive to cultivate these qualities in their sons.

Dr. Baucham, one of the architects of the Family Integrated Church movement, follows up his popular book Family Driven Faith with this compelling, down-to-earth apologetic of biblical manhood.

It’s Not That ComplicatedIt’s Not That Complicated (we don’t have this yet, but I’m sure it’s great!) – Have you ever been confused about your friendships with boys, or how to handle crushes? How friendly is too friendly? How close is too close? What do you do when a guy is paying you way too much attention? What does it means to be a “sister, in all purity”? And what do guys think about all this?

Guy-girl relationships have always been complicated, but perhaps never more so than they are today. So, what’s a girl to do about boys?

Download Sample Chapter

Enter It’s (Not That) Complicated: How to Relate to Guys in a Healthy, Sane and Biblical Way — a new book by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin.

In this engaging work, these sisters take a humorous, hopeful, and deeply thought-provoking new look at guy-girl relationships in our times. Dealing practically with real-life complications such as online interaction, Hollywood expectations, undefined relationships, and unrequited love, the Botkins share important biblical principles that will help young ladies be sisterly, confident, and edifying as they interact with young men.

What Our Father Taught Us about BoysWhat Our Father Taught Us about Boys – How can young ladies keep their hearts pure? What responsibilities do they have toward young men? Is it possible to be “just friends?” Listen to practical advice on navigating the tricky waters of relationships with boys, and how these relationships—properly conducted—can be edifying and strengthening to a civilization that honors marriage and family life.

To answer your other question, the 4 Moms posted about how we teach the facts of life last May.  I, for one, was very amused by the wildly different approaches among our 4 families, since we all seem to agree so often on so many topics.

Q. tell me about your children going out an getting jobs now that they are coming to that age

A. Perry is blessed to work at a truly family-friendly place of business, where the children have been able to go to work with him regularly for years.  When they are younger, they do it for fun and toys, but as they get older they are added to the payroll and earn a very fair hourly wage. They love working with their dad and relish their time in “the real world.”  They have learned a wide variety of skills, made more friends than they can count, and earned more money than any teen needs, giving them the opportunity to invest, build up savings accounts and learn about money management. Now that some of the older girls have learner’s permits, working with dad an hour from home also gives them time to practice driving.  This makes me happy, since it means less time for me in the passenger seat with brand-new drivers.  😉
The other moms are taking questions today, too.
  • Smockity Frocks
  • Common Room
  • Raising Olives

  • Upcoming topics for 4 Moms:

    • March 1 – Teaching writing (composition)
    • March 8 – (food related topic)
    • March 15 – How to save memories without being overrun

    Recent topics:

    About 4 Moms, including a complete list of all past topics

    4 Moms Q&A: toothbrushes, internet filters, taming the stuff monster

    4 Moms 35 Kids answer questions about big families

    It may be Thursday when you read this, but let me warn you: my brain has no idea what day or time it is.  I’m writing this post on Tuesday because I have a 6 hour drive to make tomorrow (yesterday?) and it feel like Wednesday already, because it’s actually Tuesday but I was up ALL NIGHT with a sick baby.

    If you think that was confusing, try using my brain.  Take everything that follows with a grain of salt – or maybe with a martini, if it seems more suitable.

    Since today is the Q&A session and my brain is fried for want of sleep, who thinks it would be a good idea to use this post more for entertainment than actual advice?  Or maybe you could think of my answers as a test, marking a true/false checkbox next to each one?  Yes, I like that idea.  We’ll do that. (Who can name the source of that quote? No peeking at the link.)

    Question from Renee:

    I have a silly question for you. I know you have mentioned that you have one bathroom and there are 12 of you. Well, there are 7 of us and one bathroom, and I was wondering how you store the toothbrushes in the bathroom. Right now I have a small basket that holds everyones brush and a tube of paste, but everyone is complaining about their brush touching someone elses. Any suggestions?


    We have toothbrush troubles too, but ours are slightly different:

    Toothbrush Problem #1 – We often find ourselves with a collection of 27 toothbrushes, and nobody knows where all the extras came from or who they belong to.  About twice/week, we have to thin down the toothbrushes so that the size of our collection resembles the number of occupants in our house.

    Toothbrush Problem #2 – We have tried several different toothbrush holders, and none do a good job of keeping 12 toothbrushes both secure and sanitary.  A pint jar keeps them secure, but quickly collects sour moisture in the bottom.  A traditional holder with an open bottom keep them more sanitary because it’s open on the bottom, but they are constantly falling out, especially if we try to cram 12 toothbrushes into a holder designed for a family of 4.toothbrush holders for the big family

    I recently ordered several of these.  They don’t look especially durable, but they’re inexpensive so I ordered extras.  Each holds 4 toothbrushes, and they can be mounted in groups or trimmed to fit your family size.
    When they arrive, one will be mounted high for Perry and me and a couple of wee people who really don’t need the ability to swish their toothbrushes in the toilet unattended.  The others will be mounted lower, and each person in the family will have precisely ONE SPACE for his/her toothbrush.

    Any toothbrush found in the wrong space is subject to toilet dunking, or unauthorized use, which may be even more disgusting in the opinions of some.  Especially if it’s used to brush the dog’s teeth.


    Question from Kelly G.:

    Hi Kim, I’ve been reading your blog for a while, and I wanted to ask you if your family uses an internet filter, and if so which one? We haven’t had the best of luck with them, they either don’t work very well or make our computer so slow it’s unbearable.  Just wanted to hear your thoughts on internet filters.

    Answer: We don’t use an internet filter, but we have used Covenant Eyes internet accountability software for many years.  This lets anyone in the house access any site, so we’re not limited or enabled by the standards of the filter which may be very different from our own standard.  It also doesn’t slow down our browsing like most filters do.

    Instead, Covenant Eyes tracks all internet browsing (even in browsers with privacy settings) and mails a report to one or more accountability partners you have chosen.  The report is laid out to make it easy for you to quickly scan for potential trouble spots so you don’t have to look at each and every url visited since the last report, but you can also do that if you feel the need.
    Covenant Eyes works for Windows, Mac, and iPhone/iPod devices. I was excited to learn that they’re hard at work on an Android app too.  Once the software is installed on a device, it can’t be uninstalled without sending a warning to the accountability partner, so it’s very difficult to circumvent.

    The software itself is free and can be installed on as many devices as you want.  You just pay monthly for one account that can be used on any device which has the Covenant Eyes software installed.  An account can be shared by the whole family unless you want everyone to have separate logins so that you have separate reports for each user.  The first account is $8.99/month and add’l accounts are only $1.50.

    That’s a lot of details, but I guess it shows you how much we appreciate CE.

    [for the sake of disclosure, you should know that I learned about the Covenant Eyes affiliate program after writing this, signed up as quick as I could, and changed the links to affiliate links.  sign up through my link, enjoy your first month for free, and I’ll make a little dough to help support my ice cream habit.]


    Question from Debs:

    I can”t remember if you’ve talked about this before, but having been pregnant lots, I wondered if you had experience of nursing while being pregnant with the next baby?

    I’m still nursing my 16 month old and neither of us is ready to give that up, but I’m also at that sort of stage where I wouldn’t be at all surprised to have a positive pregnacy test in the near-ish future.

    Do you have any thoughts or advice you could share on the subject?


    The gaps between my pregnancies have changed over the years, but my pattern has not: When the baby starts getting more of his/her nutrition from the table than directly from me, my fertility returns.  I’ve always been still nursing a baby when I find I’m pregnant with the next.

    For me, this hasn’t been a problem.  I generally find that it takes the edge off the overpowering nausea but does make me more tired, a difficult tradeoff since exhaustion often contributes to morning sickness.

    In the end the baby always ends up gradually weaned at some point before the middle of my pregnancy, so I have never tandem nursed.  Most of the time this happens on accident: the baby becomes more interested in food and I become less interested in nursing, mainly because I’m spending so much time vomiting.  At any rate, weaning has never been an abrupt or traumatic experience in our family, and morning sickness helps me lose those last few pounds that just don’t come off while I’m nursing.  See?  A silver lining around the sickly green cloud that surrounds the first half of pregnancy.


    Question from Donna:

    We have 6 children and even though we only give them each 3 gifts at Christmas, when you add in grandparents and others, we easily have 40 something gifts coming into our house.  Storage is a problem.  I regularly keep a bag or box that I toss things into for Goodwill, but it’s still a challenge. Do you have tips?


    We have struggled with the same problem over the years, but seem to have reached a point of equilibrium and understanding with both the children and with well-meaning relatives.

    On the one hand, everyone now understands that space is at a premium in our home.  Some will ask us for suggestions or run an idea past us before making a purchase, doing their best to come up with ideas that don’t simply add more “stuff” to the house.  Others simply understand that gifts are often passed along rather quickly to make room for others.

    The children have come to grips with the fact that if they receive a lot of new items, they’re going to have to make some difficult decisions about what to pass on to others outside, whether it be old stuff or new.  They have also learned to understand that it’s not an insult when a gift they give to a sibling does not necessarily become a deeply treasured heirloom to be passed on to descendants.

    I think the old saying is trite but true to a certain extent: “It’s the thought that counts.”  Among the dignitaries of etiquette (Emily Post and Miss Manners come to mind), it’s well established that a gift comes with no strings attached, and while a genuine thank you is most definitely in order, the recipient is under no obligation to keep, use or display a gift for any set period of time.  This concept frees us from the guilt of purging and allows us to thin our belongings to only what is truly meaningful and/or useful to us.

    I’ll confess to one more way we keep the stuff-monster under control: attrition.  Stuff breaks in our house.  A lot.  And we really don’t get worked up over because, well, we know there will be plenty more stuff heading our way and we really didn’t need it all in the first place.

    There’s a fine line, I think, between poor stewardship and not caring for the things of this world.  I fear we often find ourselves on the wrong side of that line, but we try to get it right.


    Question from Sarah:

    My mother was/is a stay at home mother; however, she viewed her position as one of dedication to raising children and taking on all the responsibilities of the household.  She thought the children should not be made to do chores, but rather be children (i.e., play).  (And she wondered why we would whine when asked to do anything around the house.)  Her attitude has been a huge help with my new baby, she cannot get enough of spending time with the baby – loves babies.  Unfortunately this has put me in a spot of not knowing how to raise a helping child.  The only options I know are you let a child get away with everything, or discipline them into “submission”.  I know there has to be a better way, so this leads me to my question for your pile – I would be interested to know what you have learned with your kids on best practices to raise a cheerful helper.


    What a blessing your mom is to you!  You’re smart to be thankful for her strengths while recognizing where you can do better.

    When it comes to children and work, remember that we should be training them into adulthood, not endless childhood.  Parents do their children a disservice when they let them practice at being childish until they are adults.  Now what?  These adult children have no idea of how to act or work like an adult, and must spend the next portion of their lives figuring it out for themselves, or simply avoiding it.

    In my experience, children love to help while they’re little.  This often isn’t helpful for us – it may take longer to do a chore with the help of a little one than to do it alone.  But this is when you can most easily nurture and nourish that desire to help.  This is when your child is forming ideas and opinions about work, and if household chores are associated with warm fuzzy memories of sweet time with Mommy, your future looks bright!

    What it comes to, then, is teaching your child that work is good for us.  For a little one, it’s fun times with Mom.  As you work together, begin planting thoughts for later: explain that God gave Adam work to do even in Paradise, that the Bible speaks severely about laziness and indolence, that in all labor there is profit (Pro. 14:23), that we are to glorify God in everything we do (I Cor. 10:31).

    Expect some resistance now and then.  Children are sinful like the rest of us, and we’re all prone to laziness in one degree or another.  Realize that your children will likely mirror your own flaws and weakness, and set a good example in your own approach to work.  Make sure it’s an attitude your children can see and hear: talk to them about your work, and why and how you do it.



    I have been listening to you on the Baby Conference mp3s while I nurse my 2 month old twins.  Question for you…how do you handle sickness in your large family?  My other children are 10, 8, 6, and 5.  I believe we have the influenza bug starting in our home.


    We don’t really “handle” sickness.  We go about our business.  The sick ones go on light duty, doing school or chores if they’re up to it, or camping out in bed if they’re not.  The rest of us avoid sharing cups with anyone is, was, or might soon be sick.  That sums up our policy on sickness.

    OK, maybe there’s more.

    We take extra vitamin C and D3 when we remember, and…well…that’s it.  Yeah.

    Unless you want to take notes so you can blog the really, really bad ones.  That way you can laugh someday about how ____ puked in ____’s hair while she was sleeping, then ____ woke up, saw what had happened, and threw up on _____.

    What?  You don’t have one of those stories yet?  You will.


    Question from Jenny:

    Hey Kim, Can you talk about dogs? Specifically, what to do when dogs drive you crazy? Needy dogs? How do you instill a love of animals in your kids…and be nice to the dog when you don’t feel like helping one more needy creature?


    Jenny, I’m really glad you asked this question.  My husband likes to tease me about ovarian guilt, a phenomenon mostly related to mothers and their children, but I think I feel more guilt when it comes to dogs.

    We have 3 dogs.  Two are beloved pets, and one is not.  In all fairness, I should also mention that one of our dogs likes to eat treats from the cat box.  Can you guess which one?

    I guess you could say that like people, some pets are easier to love than others.  You just have to do it.  Love is not an emotion, but an action.  Maybe you don’t have to love pets, but you can say the same thing about kindness, mercy, and being nice to the dog even though her breath really, really stinks.  You don’t have to feel it in order to do it, and your children can understand this too.  Sometimes a dog just needs a nice pat on the head or a good belly rub.  He doesn’t have to know what you’re thinking at the moment.

    We make a bit of a game out of saying mean things to the poop-eater in a sweet, syrupy voice.  She loves the attention, wriggling with joy as we address her and list off her faults.  I don’t recommend trying this with the annoying humans in your life, but it might make you feel better about the dog.

    Question from Lisa:

    My question is about your chickens. This could probably be a post in itself, or perhaps you have already done so? I just want to know all about them: how you assign care for them, how you handle the eggs (dirt, storage, etc.), predator protection…anything else you can think of. I ask because we have a small flock of our own (23 hens + a rooster), but living in the middle of Alaska, and only being a family of three and one on the way, we probably “do chickens” differently, especially because they are literally cooped up for much of the year. Thanks!


    I think Lisa is right.  This could easily be a post in itself and I have posted about our chickens in the past, but because my judgment is sleeping while my fingers type on unattended, I’m going to answer her questions in quick bullet fashion:

    • Lydia does the daily animal chores in our family, including chickens.  This is at her request, because she really enjoys animals.  I’m glad, because she is a mature, trustworthy gal and I can count on her to remember to lock up the coop at night.
    • We usually gather eggs more than once/day and put them straight into the fridge in styrofoam egg cartons that our friends save for us after they’ve eaten their store-bought eggs.  I’m still working to teach the kids to wash the dirty eggs, but clean eggs should not be routinely washed as this removes a protective coating.  At first, we marked the cartons by days of the week so we could remember to eat the oldest eggs first.  As it turns out, we have no trouble eating our eggs in a timely fashion so this system has gone by the wayside.
    • With 3 dogs and a fake owl, we have very little trouble with predators.  I’ve seen foxes and hawks have a go at the girls every now and then, but numbers remain fairly stable with no extra precautions beyond a nightly lock-up in a secure coop.

    Apparently the auto-pilot function on my brain crashed, because the post ends here.

    The other moms are taking questions too:

    Upcoming topics for June: TBA because we didn’t plan ahead again surprises are fun!

    Recent topics:

  • May 19 – 4 Moms try to lose the baby weight
  • May 12 – 4 Moms practice hospitality, and YOU are invited!
  • May 5 – 4 Moms talk about you-know-what
  • April 28 – 4 Moms Q&A: sleep, exercise, and making do with one bathroom
  • April 21 – Large families & church, part 2: keeping them quiet
  • April 14 – Eating inexpensively on the road
  • April 7 – 4 Moms teach history
  • March 24 – Large families & church, part 1: getting there on time
  • March 17 – Bread baking linky
  • March 10 – Spring cleaning
  • March 3 – Books for early readers
  • February 24 – 4 Moms Q&A: my first audio blog on potty training and more
  • February 17 – Individual time with children: scary stuff here.  Just kidding.  Let go of the guilt.
  • February 10Cooking with little ones without losing your sanity
  • February 3 –Teaching reading, because it’s so much easier than teaching them to use the toilet.  Do not request a 4 Moms post about potty training, do you hear me?
  • January 27 – Q&A: Must-have baby equipment and other nitty gritty stuff
  • January 20 – Top 10 Books for Preschoolers
  • January 13 – Soups and Stews
  • January 6 – Teaching Bible
  • 4 Moms Q&A: sleep, exercise, and making do with one bathroom

    Enter our current giveaway for a beautiful FlexiClip

    Well, the Headmistress may like to talk about food on the second Thursday of every month, but my favorite is the fourth week of the month, in which we answer questions from you. Lest you think too highly of me, I’ll confess right away that it’s my favorite because I’m lazy.  This is the post where I don’t have to ramble on trying to sound knowledgeable.  I can mumble “I dunno” and move right on to the next question.  I also don’t have to think of what to write about because you all are providing the topics.  That makes it easy, and I like easy.

    Of course, sometimes it’s not so easy because some of these questions are hard. If you would ask me how and why an algebraic formula works, I could help, but ask how to keep moody teens from bickering and you’re more likely to get a deer-in-the-headlights look followed by a lot of theoretical hypothesizing about what I should probably be doing differently.

    Now that I can cross that question off the list, let’s try some easier ones.

    Click below for the audio version with extra material and bonus bunny trails:

    Listen to 4 Moms Q&A, #2

    Sound quality may be low in certain browsers; if that’s the case, right click and save before you listen.

    1. Elizabeth R asked:
    I have a question about beans as you mentioned that your family eats a lot of bean. How do you cook dried beans so that they do not become a mushy mess? I do fairly well in soups, but for something like Chili, without the broth to cushion them they become “mashed beans” when I try to add other ingredients. I would love to get away from the high-priced cans if possible.

    We like our beans very soft, so we don’t mind if they get a little mashed.  However, if you like firmer beans, you would probably love them cooked in a pressure cooker.  It’s very convenient and economical too, since they cook in just a few minutes rather than all day on the stovetop or in the slow cooker.

    If you don’t have a pressure cooker/canner, I highly recommend you get one. and actually use it. If you do have one, don’t be afraid of the thing.  Make the most of it, and let me know your favorite uses so I can make the most of mine!

    2. Michelle Ross wants to know:

    Can you post pictures of the bunk beds with the safety rails? How much did it cost to order the rails and did you only get them for the top 2 on each set?

    We only allowed the older children to sleep on the top two levels of the bunk beds, but we still ordered rails for them right away for the sake of safety.  We got them directly from the manufacturer.  They’re a little behind the times; we had to order by phone, then send an old-fashioned check by Pony Express, er, snail mail before they shipped the rails.  It didn’t take too long, though.  I think we had them in less than 2 weeks.

    Later, we decided to order more rails for the lower levels as well.  They make the unit look a little neater and help keep the bedding from slipping around or threatening to slide out entirely.

    Lovely patchwork quilt from Marie Madeline Studio.  Note the pocket knife.

    The rails were about $15 each including shipping, which means that overall we would have been slightly better off to simply buy another set of shelves from Costco, cart the 180 lb. box across the parking lot and cram it into our van, haul it up 12 steps onto the deck, keep the 8 rails included, and throw away the excess parts.  For some reason Perry didn’t see it this way and opted to let the FedEx guy bring the rails right to our door.

    3. theresa asks the big question on everyone’s mind:

    How do you work one bathroom?

    The short answer is: barely.  It was pretty easy 6 years ago when most of the kids were little and there were less of them.  Now that nearly everyone in the house wants or needs daily showers, it’s becoming a balancing act.

    But keep in mind that just one or two generations ago it was nearly unheard of to have more than one bathroom, and households our size were not really unusual.  This is what we keep telling each other while we stand in line outside the bathroom door.

    Oh – and we actually do have more than one restroom.  There’s an additional facility outside for the males in the family.  It’s called The Woods. 😀

    4. Claire is curious:

    I have a question about naptimes with your little ones… I have a 1yr old and one on the way and I feel like my life revolves around her naptimes (2 a day now). How do you handle naptimes with your younger children and do you plan things around their naps, or just expect them to learn to sleep wherever they are? I was wondering how this works in a large family where it may be hard to coordinate those kind of things perfectly.

    When everyone was young, naps were a fixed part of the day and we did everything in our power to schedule around them.  The very young ones could sleep in carseats if necessary, but it was hardly convenient and there was still the question of 4 and 5yo’s who did best with naps but might have to do without.

    Now I have babysitters everywhere I look.  If we have to go out in the middle of the day and a little one falls asleep in the carseat, I’m nearly guaranteed to have a teen near at hand who will beg to stay in the car with a sleeping toddler and a good book or her iPod.

    As our schedule has become more flexible over the years, I have found that my children become more flexible as well.  Back in the days of rigid naptimes, my 2yo would fall apart if she didn’t get her nap on time.  Now that we often fly by the seat of our figurative pants, we find that our little ones can skip a nap now and then without dire or drastic consequences.

    I must conclude that children are highly adaptable, and schedules are for the sake and sanity of the parent even more than for the good of the child.

    5. Sarah has another sleep-related question:

    Do you have any problems with your children sleeping? We have a toddler who wakes in the small hours, often due to itching from a skin problem, but then wakes his sibling in the same room. We are working on treatment for the skin but this causes a fair amount of disruption.

    At the risk of sounding harsh or flippant, I’ll ask: Why is it a problem if he wakes his sibling?  Maybe I’m a mean mom, but I expect my children to fall back to sleep with a minimum of fuss if they’re awakened during the night.  I tell them, “Stay in bed.  Be quiet.  Go back to sleep.”  And eventually, they do.  They might fidget or whisper to each other for a bit or get up to use the bathroom, but that’s ok.  They’ll doze off, and if they’re very little they might sleep a little later or take a longer nap the next day.

    6. Sandy wants to know:

    You’ve said before that you wear clothes more than once if they are still clean enough.  I’m wondering if you have a system or a place for putting the worn-but-not-yet-dirty clothes, or do you just put them back in the cupboard with the clean ones?  It seems that we often end up with piles of clothes that are waiting to be worn again….

    We have a variety of methods for handling this in our house.  I like to fold mine neatly and drape them over a chair if I’ll be wearing them again the next day, and if they aren’t perfectly clean that’s the only alternative to the laundry hamper.  If I don’t plan to wear them that soon, I hang them in the closet again.  I don’t think this is a problem with clothes that still look and smell completely clean.
    If I think Perry will want to wear a shirt again, I often hang it from a coat hook next to our bedroom door rather than inside the closet.
    Most of the children find it simpler to put their clean-but-worn articles of clothing on the floor or under the bed until they’re dirty, then they can put them in the laundry.

    7. Liz p flatters me with her assumption that I exercise:

    How do you find time to exercise, especially when there are no children old enough to baby sit yet?

    Me? Exercise?! Well, laughing is great for the abdominal muscles.

    Honestly, remember that time I started walking when I was pregnant with Parker?  And the entire extended family thought I had been kidnapped? Because nobody could entertain the possible that I might be walking for exercise?

    OK, I do exercise  a little.  When I had lots of littles I actually exercised much more, and I suspect that’s closer to what you wanted to know anyway.

    I really didn’t find it difficult, but maybe that’s because my notion of exercise differs from others:

    • I put a baby in a backpack and 2 or 3 toddlers in a double stroller and hauled everyone to the library, the store, and any other destination within walking distance.  If I wanted a more rigorous workout, I carried a heavier toddler and let the baby ride in the stroller.
    • When Perry and I had a lawn mowing business one summer, I begged to do the mowing in the evenings while he stayed home with the wee ones.
    • I ran up and down the stairs on every excuse that arose rather than waiting and combining trips.
    • I did various floor exercises and body weight exercises with babies and toddlers around, under and on me.  Try a couple of pushups with a monkey on your back.  You’ll get in shape pretty quickly.
    • I carried babies and toddlers on my hip through much of the day.  Great for toning the arms.  Breastfeeding without a special pillow or other support is also helpful.

    I think you get the idea.  A mom’s life can be very active, and your physical fitness is far more limited by your activity choices than by the number and age of your children.

    8. Lora wonders:

    How do you handle sunscreen? It is apparent that your family is outside for many hours a day. Do you all wear sunscreen, do only some of you wear it, how do you afford it, and who is responsible for making sure that you are all slathered up when necessary?

    We’re probably not outside in the direct sun as much as you think – we do most of our outdoor stuff early or late in the day.  Because of that, we don’t often wear sunscreen.  We don’t worry about sunscreen unless we’re likely to wind up with sunburns, e.g. swimming  or in direct sun for extended periods while the sun is high.
    There are some questions about the safety of sunscreen, and with a few exceptions, we’re not prone to burn easily.  Our children have Indian heritage on both sides of the family, and even our redhead is the darker type, with brown eyes and unfreckled skin that tans more readily than it burns.
    If there does seem to be a chance of getting burned, I usually make sure that we have vulnerable areas covered with either cloth or sunblock.  This means the little ones often swim with a t-shirt to protect arms and shoulder, and I sometimes encourage our redhead to swim in capri pants if we’re going to be in direct sun for a long time.

    9. Malia had a whole list of questions.  I’ll answer some now and save some for later:

    How do you train older siblings to help younger siblings and how do you train younger siblings to be respectful of older siblings?

    I think it largely comes to down the behavior we model for our children.  These 2 questions are tightly connected because they touch on the concept of the servant-leader.
    A good leader doesn’t just wield power; a good leader serves those he rules.  Christ was the ultimate example of this, and we emulate this in our own relationships by serving those under our authority: the husband serves the family, the wife serves the children, the older children serve the younger ones. Yes, it goes both ways, but if you were worrying about that just now, you’re missing the point. This service can and ought to take many forms, but as a whole it becomes a picture of Christ’s sacrificial love for His people.
    At the same time, out of respect for God we must honor those who have authority over us and we teach our children to do the same.  Little ones don’t just learn to obey Dad and Mom as directed in Ephesians 6:1.  They learn to obey Big Sister, because God said to obey your parents and your parents told you to obey Big Sister, or because Mom gave her authority over you, and if you disobey her you are disobeying Mom.  When they get a little older, they begin to understand that all authority flows out of God and we obey those in authority over us out of respect for God, even if we don’t like the way a particular authority is acting.
    All this may be more than your 3yo can grasp right away, but if you understand it and begin communicating it to your children they will get it when they’re ready.

    10. Malia also wants to know:

    How often do you really sweep and mop your floors. Mine always look dusty and have an assortment of things on them. Crumbs, toys, paper, food, etc… What time of day??

    We sweep constantly, and mop not nearly often enough.  We have a small house with lots of foot traffic in a very dusty climate.  If that’s not enough, we have 3 dogs and a very large cat in the house.  If that’s not enough, I can probably come up with more excuses.  I’m good at them.
    I can also make you feel better about your floors by assuring you that mine are dirtier than yours, even though we just finished sweeping and will sweep again in a few hours or less.

    Solution: you need floors that hide dirt better. I recommend tile or linoleum in a print that helps camouflage dirt, pet hair, crumbs, wads of paper, crayons, pillows, socks and underwear, and small children.  Then your floors will look nice.
    That’s all for today, folks.  I have a few questions left over for the next session, and if you have a question of your own, you can ask in the comments on this post.

    The other moms:

    Upcoming topics:

    • er…it’s a surprise. Because we don’t know yet.

    Recent topics:

  • April 21 – Large families & church, part 2: keeping them quiet
  • April 14 – Eating inexpensively on the road
  • April 7 – 4 Moms teach history
  • March 24 – Large families & church, part 1: getting there on time
  • March 17 – Bread baking linky
  • March 10 – Spring cleaning
  • March 3 – Books for early readers
  • February 24 – 4 Moms Q&A: my first audio blog on potty training and more
  • February 17 – Individual time with children: scary stuff here.  Just kidding.  Let go of the guilt.
  • February 10Cooking with little ones without losing your sanity
  • February 3 –Teaching reading, because it’s so much easier than teaching them to use the toilet.  Do not request a 4 Moms post about potty training, do you hear me?
  • January 27 – Q&A: Must-have baby equipment and other nitty gritty stuff
  • January 20 – Top 10 Books for Preschoolers
  • January 13 – Soups and Stews
  • January 6 – Teaching Bible
  • 4 Moms Q&A: Must-have baby equipment and other nitty gritty stuff

    Welcome back to the weekly 4 Moms post, in which 4 moms with a collective total of 35 children share our knowledge, experience and and helpful tips in maintaining health, order and sanity.

    This week we’re going to answer your questions.  This is my favorite post of the month because it feels like 5 or 6 posts in one, and I didn’t have to think up a topic for a single one.

  • Connie at Smockity Frocks
  • Headmistress at The Common Room
  • Kimberly at Raising Olives
  • Or you can start here.  That’s fine too.  In fact, I’m flattered, unless you’re the sort that saves the best for last.  In that case, starting here means you don’t really like my blog and just want eat your vegetables first so you can move on to dessert.


    I am having baby #7 (at 42 ) yet am  starting over as there is a 6 year gap between 6 and 7  and so we got rid of most of our baby items.  Space is limited and the budget is low.  What are your top 5-10 products that you just can’t live without?  Do you use a full size crib?  Any advice would be appreciated.


    Congrats on baby #7!  Isn’t it amazing how each can be just as exciting as the first?

    I gave up the full size crib a long time ago.  Now I love to use a travel bed while the baby is small enough, then move up to a Pack-n-Play when it becomes necessary.  Those 2 items are at the top of my list.  I think a changing table is utterly unnecessary, as is an extensive wardrobe.

    Here’s my full list, off the top of my head.  If anyone thinks I missed something crucial, feel free to speak up.

    Must Have Baby Equipment

    1. Infant car seat –  I love the standard bucket style with a separate base, so it snaps in and out.
    2. Travel bed – Much smaller and more portable than a playpen or crib, and good for several months until your baby can pull up, sit up, or becomes otherwise mobile.
    3. Portable playpen – I’ve always used a pack-n-play but there are other brands available.  This takes the place of a full size crib beautifully if you don’t mind bending over.  If you use a travel bed, you won’t need this until later.
    4. Drawstring gowns – Not as cute as fun jammies but infinitely more practical.  These make diaper changes so much faster and easier in those early days, especially when you’re working around an umbilical stump.  I wish I had discovered these several children earlier.   I find that just 5 or 6 is usually plenty.
    5. Blankets and burp rags – Babies may not need a lot of clothes, but I do find we go through a lot of these.  Plain cotton diapers make nice burp rags, but it’s even nicer if a friends wants to give you some cuter ones.
    6. Diapers and wipes – Cloth or disposable, but one way or another you’re going to need them.  Don’t waste time or money on a fancy wipe warmer; just warm it in the palm of your hand for a second if you’re concerned.  You’ll probably find your baby doesn’t acknowledge the difference either way.
    7. Ergo baby carrier – Yes, there are a million choices out there and most are cheaper than the Ergo, but I wish I had discovered this one back when my first was born.  No learning curve, and no aching back or shoulders no matter how big your baby or toddler is.  I’ll never love another baby carrier again.  I own another less expensive carrier with a very similar design and much cuter fabric, but the quality just isn’t the same.  You get what you pay for; buy an Ergo.


    How do you manage to use the bathroom?!?
    I’m having a hard time just sneaking away for the one single minute it would take me to use the restroom and then I get frustrated and irritated because for pity’s sake I just need to use the bathroom and I keep getting called away to take care of needs even more urgent than my own.


    When all my children were young, I resigned myself to using the bathroom with the door open so that I could address problems while taking care of personal business.  Just think of it as one more way that God uses children to sanctify us and keep us humble.  This too shall pass.  Once they get old enough that modesty becomes an issue, they’re old enough to live without you for 60 seconds, right?


    I’d love to see you elaborate on the nitty-gritty of how having all of your kids in one room actually works. For instance, do you have any little ones who wake up much earlier than the others? And how to do get them (especially young toddlers) to stay quiet so as not to wake their siblings in the morning? Are they allowed to leave the room as soon as they get up, or is there a certain time they need to wait for? What age does the baby move into the big kids’ room? etc….


    We don’t worry about some children waking others.  While we do require some basic courtesy (keep the lights off and the noise level low when others are sleeping) I tend to believe that if a child needs the sleep, she’ll sleep through whatever is going on.

    Of course this takes a little patience; at first they were more sensitive to noise and activity, but we have found it surprisingly easy to adapt to new surroundings and situations.

    To answer some of your specific questions, some of our younger ones are often the first out of bed, and if the house is quiet they usually come straight to my room.  If it’s too early to get up, I just send them back to bed.  If it’s a reasonable rise hour, we all start getting up one by one as we’re awakened.

    The babies usually move into the big kids’ room(s) as soon as they reliably sleep through the night.  While most of my babies begin to sleep through the night at a very young age, I don’t consider them reliable sleepers until much later, usually some time around their first birthday.


    As a couple who have decided to allow God to do your family planning, do you ever have trouble relating to other Christian couples who do not share this vision? We don’t regularly fellowship with anyone who shares this vision and it breaks my heart to hear the way many Christian women talk about children as though they’re such a great burden… I often feel that I would like to share the joy of remaining open to pregnancy but I don’t know how without sounding “holier than thou” or judgmental of their choice. Is it best to just keep your mouth shut, smile and let your life speak? We only have three, at this point, under the age of 5 so it isn’t immediately apparent what our birth control philosophy is.


    While we are not shy about expressing our views, we do tend to keep our mouths shut and let our life speak, as you put it – until somebody asks a question.  Then all bets are off!  As you mentioned, in the earlier years your birth control philosophy isn’t immediately apparent, and we have many friends whose position we don’t know.  However, it is always a joy to find others who share our view or at least are interested in hearing and considering it.

    I am much less shy, though, about addressing hormonal birth control, which can act as an abortifacient.  I haven’t found a good way to bring it up myself but when the subject is broached I don’t mince words.  It breaks my heart that so many Christians are aborting their own children for want of knowledge!


    I have six daughters and would be very interested to know how you handle contention between daughters. How do you handle bossiness? Or do you even have that problem???


    What’s your take on dealing with bickering, fighting children? Some days I want to pull out my hair at the cycle of pester…scream…pester…scream…etc. That the oldest two get into. They can play wonderfully together at times, and then at other times just seem to spend all day getting under each other’s skin. How do you maintain (relative) peace and keep the bickering to a minimum?


    Actually, I don’t really have the answer to these questions.  Yes, we have our share of bickering and bossiness.  I like to think our children are best friends and get along wonderfully, but that doesn’t mean it’s perfect.  They do bicker and squabble over the most ridiculous things.  They remind me of a couple of other people I know, whom the children also happen to look like.

    The important thing is that they also admit fault, ask forgiveness, and keep being best friends.

    That doesn’t mean we tolerate or condone strife and contention.  We try to nip it in the bud, and we emphasize that one person’s sinful attitude does not justify the sins of another.  We are each responsible for our own sins.  At the same time, when arguments happen I try to impress upon each child that she probably could have ended or defused the situation by exercising humility, and her pride led her sibling into sin as well.


    I would love to know what type of vehicle everyone drives, and what everyone has driven as their family has grown. We have four children, all still in car seats, and our minivan is absolutely FULL.


    Faced by the prospect of outgrowing our 9 passenger Suburban with the birth of our 8th child, we ruled out a 12 passenger van because it has absolutely no cargo space unless you take out a bench, and then you’re back to 8 or 9 seats.

    Instead, we moved directly up to a standard issue Ford 15 passenger van in white.  It’s a very common vehicle for large families, Baptist churches and smugglers of illegal immigrants, especially after the windows are darkly tinted.

    I love my big white so much that I’ve been considering a post titled, “Top Ten Reasons to Drive a 15 Passenger Van.”


    How do you take such great photos? Not the posed photos but the ones of the kids in action – playing, cooking, making faces, etc. Of course all the photos are great, but I can’t seem to get the right light and focus with my natural setting photos. I assume you have had loads of practice and could share a few tips. (and help me save money on professional photos).


    Thank you!  Most of our best photos are taken by our older children.  We have some very accomplished photographers with a lot of natural talent.  One resource that has really helped to develop that talent is Me Ra Koh’s instructional videos.

    I love the title of the first, Refuse to Say Cheese.  It’s all about not collecting endless photos of people smiling woodenly at the camera.  I credit that simple phrase with much of the charm of the photos my daughters take – they really capture the young ones’ personalities and emotions by catching them in the midst of real life.

    Beyond the Green Box goes into more depth about the technical details of the camera and using more advanced features to really get the effect you want, but Me Ra does a good job of keeping it light and goes easy on the math.


    How do you manage to look after your own health while looking after a large family and staying within a tight budget. I have 4 children between 7 and 1 yo and am having health issues from neglecting myself for too long. How do you do it?


    I try to eat a healthy diet, take a good quality prenatal vitamin, and maintain a basic level of activity.  I know getting enough sleep is very important, though I don’t always do it.

    Over the years I have done some intensive exercise for limited periods of time.  Some cost money, some were free, and some even made money: a year of karate, a summer of lawn-mowing, a gym membership, a year of bicycling, several months of weigh-lifting, etc.

    But I have to give God the glory.  He has chosen to bless me with sturdy health so far which has enabled me to do all these things.  Indeed, every breath is from Him!

    My husband also takes his role seriously and takes care of me in every way he can think of, including my health.  He knows when I need more sleep and does his best to help me get it.  He reminds me to take my vitamins because he knows I’ll forget.  He encourages me to exercise because he knows I dislike it and will procrastinate, but he also knows that I like the results and will thank him when I’m done.

    Likewise, I know that it pleases him for me to take care of myself and so I do it not just for myself but for him.  Sometimes this is more motivating than my own desire to lose a few pounds or have more energy.  Sometimes I’m lazy anyway.  🙂

    Do you have a question you’d like to see here next month?  Ask in the comments on this post and I’ll give it my best shot.

    Upcoming topics for 4 Moms 35 Kids:

    • February 3 – Teaching reading, because it’s so much easier than teaching them to use the toilet.  Do not request a 4 Moms post about potty training, do you hear me?
    • February 10 – Cooking with little ones.  With, I said.  Not Cooking Little Ones.
    • February 17 – Spending individual time with your children: isn’t the very topic enough to make you feel guilty?
    • February  24 – Q & A.  Got a question?  Leave it in the comments on this post.  Or you can email me, but I promise you right now I will lose your email and forget to answer your question for 15 months.  By then, you probably will have found your own answer.

    Sleep training: a 10 day log

    I’ve bragged in the past about how early my babies sleep through the night.  Did anyone notice that I’ve been strangely silent on that topic for the last few months?  Go ahead.  Yuck it up, people.  Laugh me to scorn.  After a brief but glorious stint of 7 hour nights, Parker is back to waking up every 4 hours or less.  At 4 months, my boy is still waking up at least once/night, usually twice – especially if you, like me, consider 6 AM to be part of the night.  If I’m not up yet, it’s night.  That’s how the definition reads in my dictionary.

    I think I’ve become soft in my old age.  I used to wait until my babies got good and angry before I got them up, and all but one slept through the night by 2 months.  Now, I value sleep so much that I’m not willing to lie there listening to a cranky baby complain.  I’d rather get him up and feed him so we can both get some sleep.


    Like a good adult, I finally woke up to the fact that a short-term sacrifice of sleep might be a win for the longterm cause.  If I buckle down and exert some tough love, we’ll all sleep better and be better people.  We’ll be doing our bit to further world peace.

    It helps that I have suddenly realized that he’s just toying with me.  When he wakes up at 2:00, he doesn’t cry.  Not really. He fusses.  He whines.  He tosses and turns, and complains that he can’t get back to sleep.  He asks for a drink of milk.  Then he wakes again at 4 AM and does the same thing.  The boy is bored, not hungry.  Boredom just doesn’t tug at the heartstrings like a wailing hungry little babe.  Proof: when I get him up to feed him, he falls asleep before he finishes.

    And so I resolved to take my own advice.


    1. Wait to get him up until he really and truly cries.  Once he works into a genuine cry, give him a minute or two to make sure he means it.
    2. Cut feedings short, ending them as soon as the baby begins to slow down.
    3. No socializing: keep lights out, and don’t talk or play.  Don’t change diapers unless absolutely necessary.
    4. Put baby back to bed asap.  DO NOT doze off and let baby sleep at the breast.

    Let me clarify: There is nothing wrong with doing any or all of the above if you don’t care whether your baby sleeps straight through the night.  If you’re convinced that your baby is waking because he’s truly hungry, by all means feed him.  If your baby is scared, comfort him.  If you enjoy his company at 2 AM and expect to continue enjoying it, then don’t let me change your mind.

    But if you long for a full night’s sleep while your baby is waking up because he thinks sleeping at night is just boring and he has better things to do, you might want to try my tips.  This is the method that has helped all of my babies to sleep through the night at very early ages.

    Here’s what happened the first 10 nights after I decided that I really did want to sleep through the night and actually took my own advice.


    Unless otherwise specified, Parker usually goes to bed around 11 PM.  Then…

    NIGHT 1

    On the first night after my resolution, he fussed for nearly 2 hours from 2 AM until 4 AM before he finally got angry and started wailing.  At that point, I brought him to my bed for a quick feeding.  He was asleep and back in his own bed in less than 15 minutes, without even taking time for a full feeding.  He slept until nearly 7 AM that morning.

    NIGHT 2

    The second night, he didn’t wake up until 4 AM.  He fussed for about 40 minutes, then fell back asleep without ever crying!  He woke at 6:30, moderately hungry but not famished as I would have expected.

    NIGHT 3

    This time, he woke around 3 AM.  He talked to himself and quietly complained for about 40 minutes before dozing off.  He didn’t make a peep until 8:30.  He woke up good and hungry this time.

    NIGHT 4

    Parker went to bed around 10, and woke up at 1:50 AM. That could be my fault, since Perry and I were sneaking into bed just about that time. I let Parker fuss, expecting that he would doze off as he had for the past few nights. Not so. He fussed for over 30 minutes, and then finally broke into a real cry, so I got him up and nursed him. After that he slept soundly until 8:30 AM.

    The fact that I had to give him that nighttime feeding was a little disappointing since he’s been doing so well during this transition, but I don’t think it’s a big deal. I didn’t expect him to progress so quickly anyway – I’m thankful that we’ve seen such immediate changes already, and if really is hungry now and then during the night then of course I’ll feed the poor guy!

    NIGHT 6

    Pickle – did I tell you his nickname?  That’s how Bethany pronounced Parker at first, and it stuck – Pickle went to bed early this night, about 9:30.  I didn’t expect him to make it through the night, and he didn’t.  He did sleep until 4, a stretch of 6 1/2 hours.  He woke and fussed as usual, finally breaking into a cry after about 20 minutes.  He dozed off 15 minutes into a feeding, and slept until 8:30 AM.

    NIGHT 7

    Fell asleep around 10, up at 5 to eat.  We’re still not where I’d like to be, but a 7 hour stretch is nothing to complain about.  I’m proud of my little guy.

    NIGHT 8

    The little guy slept from 11 to 5:45, woke for a quick half-hearted feeding, and went back to bed for a gloriously long time.  This is progress!

    NIGHT 9

    We seem to have a new norm.  Once again, he went to bed between 10 and 11, and woke for a brief feeding around 5:30 or 6.  This is a nice stretch, but I’m hoping it lengthens gradually – or better yet, I’m hoping it lengthens quickly.  Just another hour would make it a full night’s sleep!  We’re so close!

    NIGHT 10

    Ten nights into this effort, Parker finally slept an 8 hour stretch!  Unfortunately, he went to bed earlier than usual so the end of his 8 hours came much earlier than the end of mine, but I’m not complaining!  I wonder if he’ll give an encore performance?


    You might be wondering if sleeping through the night will affect your baby’s daytime routine.  Every baby is different, but in our case improved sleep patterns at night seem to help with daytime sleep as well.  My babies seem to take longer naps, sleep more deeply, and wake in a better mood if they’re sleeping well at night.

    This link between daytime and nighttime sleep patterns carries over to something we’ve noticed about our 4yo boy:  He still needs naps.  If he misses his nap, he seems fine until after bedtime.  Then he’s far more prone to wake up crying or angry during the night (often multiple times) or to wet the bed – something he never does if he’s had a nap.

    This isn’t just about sleep for a tired mama.  A good night’s sleep makes life easier for the little ones too.

    Car seat training

    Of our 10 living children, we have only had 1 vociferous car seat objector: Parker.  The others took most of their naps in their car seats, rode happily wherever life took them, and enjoyed being able to watch life unfold from a vantage point provided by their seat on the table or counter.

    Parker is different.  He hates his car seat.  He finds nothing soothing about a ride to town.  He yells as soon as we strap him in, cries himself to sleep if he has time, and wakes up ready for more.

    No, I’m not putting him in a hot seat that has been left baking in the van.  No, the problem is not insufficient padding.  And the problem really isn’t that we expect a young baby to spend hours entertaining himself while we ignore him.  Hah.  I mock you.  I laugh you to scorn.

    He really just hates being in the car seat.  He wants to be held, plain and simple.  The boy has us wrapped around his little finger and he knows it.

    I’m reasonably sure this is because we have stayed home far more with him than with any of the others.  We’re living an hour from town and our 2nd car has been dead since some time before he arrived so he just hasn’t been forced to get used to the car seat.  The poor boy has become a homebody.  He’s my homeboy, mah homey.  He’s tense and unpleasant if we are away from home for more than a few hours, and he visibly relaxes when we get home again.

    I’m sure the fact that he has 9 older siblings is also a factor.  When I had only little ones, the babies had to be set down frequently, and the car seat was my tool of choice.  The car seat made it easy to rock the baby with one foot when a toddler needed some attention; easy to move a sleeping baby from room to room with me so that the preschooler couldn’t practice her creativity upon the baby unsupervised; easy to set the seat up on a table top so the baby could watch the rest of the family doing school.

    Now that we have so many sets of arms in the house, the baby need never be set down.  It seems easy to pass a demanding baby from one set of arms to another, but eventually it creates problems.  We’re learning this the hard way.

    I have also moved away from the habit of putting our babies down for naps in their car seat.  Our first 9 babies took nearly all their naps in the car seat whether we were at home or abroad.  Most of them even spent the night in their car seat, next to our bed.  They took to it very quickly and seemed to find comfort in the semi-fetal position, surrounded by padding on 3 sides.  For some reason I didn’t start that habit with Parker, and now we’re reaping the consequences.

    But I’m going to try to change that this week.  He’s going to spend a lot of short periods in his car seat this week, sometimes being entertained and other times being left to entertain himself.  He’s also going to be taking most or all of his naps this week in his car seat.

    That’s Parker’s part of the deal.  The rest of us will work very hard at not pitching him, ourselves or each other over the rail of the deck.  OK, I’m exaggerating.  But we all know that stress levels can rise when there’s a cranky baby in the house.

    So far, he has done surprisingly well.  I wish I had worked on this weeks ago.  He cries for much shorter times than in the van, quickly settling down to watch his toys and swat at them.  His naps are much shorter than usual, but at least he’s sleeping in his car seat.  That’s not usually on his list of  Things to Do on Road Trips.  Of course the real test will be our next outing.

    And don’t worry – we’re taking him out for plenty of loving!  This little boy has 11 pairs of arms to love him.  His problem isn’t that he spends too much time alone.  He doesn’t know the meaning of the word.

    Still no baby

    I’m still having mild but noticeable contractions, 3 days and counting.  They are enough to keep me from sleeping very soundly at night, but I feel rested enough that it’s not really bothering me – just enough to get me psyched for labor and baby!

    Today at one point they were as close as 10 minutes apart but not strong enough to convince me that the baby was going to be here any time soon.  Now they seem to have spread out again.  At this rate, I may be able to tell the baby someday that I was in labor for a week, though it hardly feels as dramatic as it will sound.

    I still don’t realistically expect to have the baby before next weekend since weekend babies seem to be such a well-established pattern for us, but we’ll see.  It’s fun to finally feel the anticipation building!

    On the bright side, nearly all of my checklist is done and I have a new toy that I hope to use a lot during labor: hubby, Lydia and Kaitlyn conspired to give me an iPod Nano!  It’s Lydia’s gently used one since she plans to upgrade soon.  I had intended to save my pocket money and buy it from her when she was ready, but she and hubby saw how much I’ve enjoyed borrowing it for my walks so they struck a quiet deal.  Kaitlyn added a pair of genuine Apple ear buds for me, and hubby also bought an arm band to make it easier for me to carry and use when I exercise.  I’m so tickled to have one of my own!  I spent some time today loading it with Max McLean’s Bible (love his voice and enunciation!), Dandelion Fire by Nathan Wilson
    , and all my Jamie Soles albums, plus some other quiet, peaceful music that I hope will be good during labor.

    Oh – and did I say in a previous post that there were less baby animals around here?  I forgot to mention the fact that we caught the tarantula in the very act of creating an egg case while our company was here on Saturday evening!  I don’t know if she got along with her old boyfriend better than we thought back in January or if it’s just wishful thinking on her part (apparently captive females will sometimes create a whole case of unfertilized eggs), but it was shocking to say the least.

    And our 2nd broody hen, who I thought was expecting sometime after the weekend, is now the proud mother of between 7 and 10 fluffy baby chicks.  I can hear their happy peeping all the way up on our deck.  So sweet!  Can’t wait to hear my own sweet baby soon!

    Good news and bad news

    Bethany and I went to the midwife’s office today for our checkups.  Mine went very well.  That was the good news.

    Bethany’s wasn’t quite so good.  She started out by getting her heel poked for the PKU.  She didn’t appreciate it.

    Then she was weighed.  Let’s just say my midwife wasn’t as happy as I was about Bethany sleeping 7 hours at a stretch.  She has only gained one ounce in the past week.  Ann recommended that I wake Bethany at least once during the night.

    However, Ann was willing to grant that her slow weight gain might be due to nursing difficulties, and recommended that I try nipple shields for my own comfort and healing and to help Bethany learn to latch on better.  She didn’t have to tell me twice!  I was at Babies R Us an hour later.

    I do have several other excuses to offer on Bethany’s behalf: a couple of our babies have been very slow gainers and stayed petite; my mother-in-law is very petite, as are several of my sisters.  It could be partly genetic.  We just don’t do butterball babies in our family.  Also, Bethany had only lost 3 oz. at her 3 day checkup.  She may  have lost a little more after that before she started gaining (newborns typically lose up to 10% of their body weight in the first several days).  And finally, on her 3 day checkup Ann weighed her in the afternoon just after her hungriest time of day; today she weighed her in the morning after a long night’s sleep.  It may have been an unfair comparison.

    In spite of all this, Ann felt we needed to keep an eye on her weight, so here’s the agreement we came to: I’m using shields, and feeling great relief and optimism after just one feeding.  I’ll feed Bethany as much as I can during her awake times using our new-and-improved-pain-free delivery method, and weigh her several times over the next week.  If she gains at least 1/2 oz per day, we’re all happy.  If not, I’ll start waking her during the night for a feeding – at least for a week or two.  I’m hoping we can avoid that route because she sleeps like her dad.  It might take a cold bath at 3 AM to get that little girl going!