Learning about Toddler Sleep


Good morning!

Our son turns 2 very soon, and we recently experienced an epiphany regarding his sleep. The nurse practitioner at Target confirmed that an ear infection had cleared, but that fluid remained in one ear. He suggested that I contact our pediatrician about allergy medication to help dry him out and, hopefully, remove the discomfort that the fluid can cause. We did, and she agreed that it may not only prevent his frequent midnight wakings, but put him in a better spot to eat well and (finally) gain weight. You see, his weight has been under the curve for his age for much of his life.

I am happy to report that he is waking less often at night, and also that he is growing! Praise God!

Another thing I am remembering from when our daughter was 18 – 36 months old: she frequently woke early in the morning, fussing. Too early, according to her parent’s gauge. (I know you all know how important our sleep gauges are!) My husband finally figured out that she didn’t need comfort, she didn’t need questions about how she was doing and cajoling to just go back to sleep, already. She needed to be told, firmly that she was still tired, that it was still *night time* (again, we as the parents were the gauge of that 😉 ), and that she needed, right now, to lie down and go back to sleep.

It totally worked. Each time he was firm, she slept for at least another 30 minutes. It was a welcome reprieve for all.

I want to share these couple of items in case they help another family.

That’s all for now, folks!

Blessings to you,




Filling the Love Cup

Reuben turns 2, birthday party, Ingrid and Balloons-2
Patiently awaiting for those who fill her love cup 🙂

I am deciding today to just dive into this post with where we are at as a family right now. I thought about delaying the post and writing when I had more stories, evidence, conclusions…more time….(are you laughing at me? Because I am laughing at myself!).

Let’s just plunge into this post, shall we?

Where are we right now: We moved half way across the country just days shy of 9 months ago. We have been living with wonderful friends (family, actually, because the bond we have all formed is thicker than blood) who have done nothing short of laying down their lives for us. We barely knew these spectacular people when we moved in with them (a story for another time…that I think might become a book some day). We are still working with the Lord to find a house get into the house under which we have a contract…(more long stories that involve us learning far more than we ever wanted to about the inner workings of city permits, gas and DOT companies and much, much more…). We never could have imagined the challenges that this move would bring, and the process is definitely not over. Our daughter, Sweet Girl, just turned 5 (someone please pick my jaw up from the floor and explain to me how babies turn 5 the say after they are born???) and is in her first year of school. Our son, Little Man, is 2 and lives outdoors in the chicken coop whenever possible.

Before moving we were very far from family and had very few, but very close friends. We didn’t have Sweet Girl in school because we suspected a move might be on the horizon and we knew it would like come in the middle of the year. Life was in one sense a lot simpler, mostly because we had very few commitments, but it was also very challenging because our support system was hundreds of miles away.

The last year before the move was particularly challenging for me because we hit the end of the 3s and the beginning of the 4s with Sweet Girl. There is a series of books by Louise Bates Ames that covers each age/stage that children go through, highlighting where they are in terms of growth, how they have changed in the past year, what is unique to their current age and gives advice on how to handle the changing and growing. As with any book on parenting, I don’t agree with every word written but I find these books really helpful developmentally speaking, and I find that they demystify things for me. They help me to feel less frustrated about the changes that come and go in my children because I find myself less caught off guard. I was, as a wise mom-before-me put it, finding myself outside of the honeymoon phase of parenting Sweet Girl. She recommended Your Four Year Old: Wild and Wonderful. I knew just by the title that this was a must-read for me, and it really helped me make it through the gap of time where we could not put our daughter in school even though she was more than ready. In other words, it helped cut the negativity that I felt was starting to color our relationship and helped me to fill her love cup.

Filling the love cup/tank is a phrase that I have run across a number of times now in articles, posts, etc. It refers to a child’s emotional fuel tank. “Their emotional fuel is the attention, connection, and nurturing they receive from the people they love.” – Pam Leo. Pam, from the Natural Child Project, highlights how attention is good and helpful, but connection happens through truly engaging children which then strengthens emotional bonds. I have seen this to be true time and time again with Sweet Girl. And I am no expert. Nor do I feel like I accomplish the filling of the cup the way I wish I could on a daily basis. But that’s where you, people of our life (!), come in 🙂

Since moving we have gained the family mentioned above, which means my kids gained an extra sibling in an instant that I did not have to birth (fist pump!)…but given that we are 9 months into this adventure and all its challenges, I sometime wonder if birthing might have been easier…ha!                                                                                                         My husband and I have gained the opportunity to go out more than once in a blue moon because we now have an arsenal of babysitters at our finger tips We have gained a small, tight-knit school family that we are getting to know and love very much, and a city that has so much to do we will never exhaust all that is available even if we live here for the rest of our lives.

People! Love cups are being filled left and right and it’s not all on me! Do I hear an Alleluia chorus?? Can I get an AMEN?!

Babysitters fill love cups when they play the exact game with the exact rules that Sweet Girl invents on the spot, and they do so with even more excitement and enthusiasm than Sweet Girl. I am telling you, I cannot fill that portion of the cup.

School fills love cups because teachers are Sweet Girl’s heroes and they love her no matter what every.single.day. They see things in her that I don’t see. She let’s them see things about her that don’t come alive at home because the teachers bring new life from her wild and wonderful little self. School, by definition to Sweet Girl, is “a big building full of the most friends of her entire life”. She could never spend too much time at school. She hopes, with all her love-gushing-heart to marry two of her classmates and her favorite part of the day is lunch (without fail. every.single.day). Overflowing love cup, right here folks!

Time with mom, or as Sweet Girl calls it, Mommy-Sweet Girl time definitely fills the love cup in a special way. I also find it the hardest thing to accomplish on a daily basis with school, Little Man, naps, meals to cook, cleaning, and all the things that happen in a day that you all are oh-so familiar with. This is definitely cherished time, and often happens when Little Man naps. When I finally realized that I (personally, this may not be for you) needed to give that time to Sweet Girl and stop trying to reserve it for myself (at least some days of the week), we both (almost instantly) became happier, more loving, more cooperative – yes, both of us. I realized I was either making the time to spend together (because she doesn’t need to make the time – she is ALWAYS ready!) or we were left dealing with the emotions of a cup unfilled.

Arts and crafts fill Sweet Girl’s love cup. This could be at school, during mommy time, babysitter time, or sometimes even on her own if I set things up for her. She has a lot of favorite things she likes to do. In fact, life is her favorite. She will tell you that everything about her days are great and wonderful. But if I could highlight something that really fills her cup in a day, with the exception of being with friends, it’s being creative. Now if she gets to be with friends and be creative, well then the cup overflows!

Daddy Dates. These excursions and adventures fill the love cup in a unique way that I really can’t put into words. I fell in love with my husband in part because of his amazing left-field humor. Laughing, especially in this family, is a very powerful way of connecting. And no one can pull this off better than Daddy. My husband tries to take Sweet Girl out on his own more than a few times a year. They often go out for breakfast and then to a book store. Reading is one of “their things”. The latest adventures in reading include comic books, especially Calvin and Hobbes and Star Wars. If Daddy loves it, Sweet Girl loves it more. For this we fill up a whole case of love cups, no problem.

I could go on and on with examples of how I have seen the love cups filled, and I am sure we are just scratching the surface. The love that others have for my child helps me to help her to fill her cup. W

I say cheers (clink!) to filling the love cup one (or one thousand!) connection(s) at a time!

How does your family fill love cups? I wanna know!

Finally, I will leave you with one of my favorite quotes from one of my favorite authors, Lemony Snicket. This is for you, Sweet Girl!

“…I will love you until the bird hates a nest and the worm hates an apple, and until the apple hates a tree and the tree hates a nest, and until a bird hates a tree and an apple hates a nest, although honestly I cannot imagine that last occurrence no matter how hard I try. I will love you as we grow older, which has just happened, and has happened again, and happened several days ago, continuously, and then several years before that, and will continue to happen as the spinning hands of every clock and the flipping pages of every calendar mark the passage of time, except for the clocks that people have forgotten to wind and the calendars that people have forgotten to place in a highly visible area…”




Frumpy Friday

I’ve been eating the cute little jars of puppy chow that we were supposed to give to neighbors at Christmas time. We’ve been roughly 50% effective at handing them out, and the remainder are pretty much the only chocolate we have in the house, and my memory for chocolate is like that of an elephant. Thus “frumpy” has become a feeling, a look, and a blog post topic.

The more responsible side of me has taken to taking pictures of recipes, then uploading them to Pinterest. My theory is that this way, “all” recipes will be in “one” place. So far, so good. Now I don’t have to remove myself from the couch where I am eating puppy chow and checking the news on my phone in order to plan meals and update our shopping list app. It’s a huge step in efficiency! 😉 (PS: this recipe is a huge winner Winner chicken DINNER.)

Non traditional toys continue to be big hits around here. In the above shot, you see how my attempt at blocking the kitchen doorway with a turned over stool has turned into an opportunity for them to have an indoor jungle gym. I wish I could say I was smart enough to anticipate this, but no, I vainly thought it may deter them from entering the kitchen (which it didn’t). But it occupied them outside the kitchen, albeit eventually!

That’s all I got. This puppy chow business is really weighing me down. Literally! Happy Friday everyone! What are you up to this weekend? Anything fun?!


Miss Mary Clare

Frumpy Friday Summer Summary (Again)

3/4 of us have mild fevers this week, and the ENT we saw last week was not at all concerned about his lip tie, but he had a double ear infection, with teething, following a cold, and followed up by a cold, which we noticed on his birthday, and checked again for ear infection on Monday but didn’t find it, which we found out today has become another double ear infection, despite being on a strong antibiotic for the first double ear infection the entire time. Confused? Me too.

So, let’s simplify and let the photos speak, in no particular order:


This is my kids playing with new toys from Josh’s 1st birthday party. Balloons, Duplos, a hand-made stuffed bee puzzle toy, instruments: what could be better?! We haven’t played with old toys all week. To come downstairs and see this was, for me, super rewarding. Kinda like being a kid at Christmas.

Which brings up a burning question: why won’t our 2 year old play with the toy food and range that she’s had since Christmas?

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I am not in a habit of doing this. “This”, here, includes: turning the camera on myself, washing my hair (the results of which you see in the hairstyle), sitting in front of our sleeping porch windows while my family eats dinner, almost falling out the window, being seen by multiple neighbors. I have no explanation.

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The light, especially the shiny yellows from the above-mentioned perch, were lovely.  This gives only a hint, but enjoy!


There they are. The two men in my life. Love ’em. Even though one (I won’t mention who to protect their privacy) has begun to crawl up our very steep stairs all by his big self. Many times a day. Very quickly. And he doesn’t know how to climb down.

I have an unrelated question: how will I ever get anything done around here given this development?

And here’s an unrelated observation: until the climbing started, for the sake of sanity, I placidly brushed off those things people tell you when they hear you will have two who are close in age (ie: “you’ll be busy”). Now, one year on, I understand.


I could always find obliging smile-ers at our party for the little rascal.


Yep. Great smiles. Great folks.


And now, for the food! We grew most of the carrots you see above. Thanks to the inspiration of Pinterest, they are arranged kinda interestingly and seasonally. Please tell me you recognize the shape.


I have a question. Can you guess what this is? Love handles and all? (Other than “deliciousness”?)


I may be despairing of her ever playing with the kitchen toys, but I needn’t have despaired of her drumming on a bucket, even though I did despair of it! Not only has it happened (once), but I have proof. So at least we’re half normal.


Nose + cheek + upper lip + little hanies (hands) + fat foot with pointed toe bottoms = too much!


The above two pictures were taken at a Touch a Truck event. She’s tentatively excited about the police cruiser. Which gives you 1/100th of an idea of her level of interest when she saw cupcakes at the same event.


I love that my mother in law lets her wear her real necklaces.


Room Re-arrangement of the Month Club, view A. The pirate corner has been dispersed, and I’m slightly in mourning about it.


Room Re-arrangement of the Month Club, view B.


Making clutter and the We-Still-Haven’t-Finished-Moving-In style look sorta intentional. It’s important. To me. Probably none of our 18 guests noticed. Regardless, this photo brings peace to a corner of my soul (when I can ignore the bespeckled-with-mess carpet).


The light + those lovely faces + toddlers fat hands + dimples + remembering my mom’s beautiful hands holding her as a newborn! = contentment.


Here. This is what I mean. She left in a hurry after the birth to see to my ailing father, then showed up unanounced that night to hold her. Those hands have cared more and worked harder than any I’ve had the privilege of knowing.


He goes around the house pushing a car like a big boy. It surprises and delights me. I didn’t know they did this at such a young age!


I like to think that they both have Irish Twinkle Eyes. This’s a thing, right? Because if it isn’t, it should be. The world is a better place for it/them/twinkley eyes.

Love to you all,

Mary Clare


This is the Day the Lord Has Made!

This icon is similar to the one on displayed in the crying room at the church we attended.
This icon is similar to the one on displayed in the crying room at the church we attended.

Sundays can be difficult for a toddler.

One Sunday I took my son to church with me at a different location.  It is not our usual church, but on weekends my husband is working, I take my son there because it has a childcare during the service.  That morning we woke up 15 minutes later than usual, which means we got out the door 15 minutes later than usual.  I did not have time to feed my son a normal breakfast, so he had milk and a cheese stick in the car.  After all, the childcare would probably have a snack.

We got to the church just as the first song was beginning as shuffled downstairs to the childcare center only to discover the lights were off and childcare was cancelled this week.  We proceeded to go to the back to the crying room, so we could spend church there.  Unfortunately I was not equipped with my normal cracker snack, books, and toy cars that I usually bring to the normal church when we go as a family.  We made do with water in a sippy cup and an Apple TV remote that accidentally fell into the diaper bag.  The crying room had two religious children’s books to look at, some wooden chairs that made a high pitched squeaking sound when pushed, and an icon of toddler Jesus and Mary, which my son pointed out how much he loved Jesus’ bare feet. “Jesus- FEET!  FEET!”

We were soon joined by a couple with a 1 year old girl, who was quite energetic, and unfortunately copied some of my son’s less desirable behavior like jumping on the (low to the ground) ledge next to the large glass windows that faced the sanctuary.  She started to “jump, jump, jump” just like him and hit her head on the bar right above.  They decided to leave the crying room.

So, we had the crying room to ourselves, and I’d say we did fine and survived through the remainder of church.  I don’t remember anything about the reading or homily, but my son and I were present there.  During church that day I asked myself, “Why I am even here? How can this delight the Lord when it is simply a trial of my patience and a moment of possible stress?”  The Lord said to me, “This is the day I have made for you to be with me.  I am not asking you to be able to give church your full attention, but I that you and your son spent time with me today.”  So, my encouragement for all of us, whether or not we have little ones or not, is to answer the Lord’s invitation to us at church and even in our daily lives.  He wants us present to him.  He doesn’t need anything fancy- just us.  Can we all made Him smile by spending time with Him?

And by the way, never before have I noticed toddler Jesus’ feet on an icon!  My toddler realized Jesus had feet just like him!

Victory! We Both Got What We Wanted.

Handling our little drinking problem is for another day.
Handling our little drinking problem is for another day.

Not to get too personal, but I had to use the little ladies room at home, so I let the toddler loose within sight and took care of my little personal business. She discovered some new plastic bath toys I’d squirreled away until I could wash them. (Because one of my fears is that their brains will turn to slime if they get into plastic fresh from the factory.) OF COURSE she had to play with them “peeese? now? pay? I neeeed that”, etc. From one of us, she inherited some pretty impressive persistence.

“No, honey, we have to wash them – give them to me – eeek – you know what – you help me wash them then you can play with them.”

And that’s what we did. She loves to play with water and bubbles. It’s one of her best features.

Our toddlers are self service around here. At least when it comes to doing the washing.

5 decisions that made parenting easier for me

not an adequate number of toys for a one-year-old
not an adequate number of toys for a one-year-old

Parenting presents us with a never-ending stream of decisions to make: what to feed our kids, what kind of schedule to put them on, what activities to do with them, etc.  I’ve gotten stressed out over lots of these things, and continue to do so, but I’ve found that just making a decision is a huge help.  Here are five things I’ve decided over the past four years that have made my life a little easier … Continue reading

Wholesome Things to Do during the “Witching Hour”

Some friends recently reminded me of a site that houses some awesome Christian missionary music, saying that their kids really love it. I’m placing it in this list amongst some other ideas for wholesome ways to get through the witching hour, which in our home can happen at any time, but most often it’s the 2 hours before Daddy gets home which feels like 5 hours. I think you know what I mean. I’m doing this to remind myself of the options.  It may assist others as well! Continue reading

I’ve Been There Too

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A cute moment when my son decided to feed Elmo snack.

“I’ve been there too” are some of the most helpful words I have heard as a mom. Recently, I had a fellow mom say it to me when my son was displaying typical two-year old behavior at the park.  I will not go into the specific behavior, but let’s just say, it took a lot of patience and redirecting on my part.   This other mom understood what was going on and assured me that she had been there herself with her other children.

How good it felt to find out that I was not the only one who struggled with a park mishap.  We moms give each other lots of advice and tips, which are all good, but the best part for me is the simple assurance that someone else has been there too… and got through it just like I will.