Must Have Baby Items: Newborn


This is will be a short list. Don’t let Babies R Us fool you: there are only a few absolute essentials to have on hand when that precious babe comes home and hooded towels ain’t one of them.  Here is a list of things I have actually needed when I had my 5 babies, and one item I didn’t have but certainly wanted (and still do!). Enjoy! xoxo

1.  Lanolin Nipple Cream

Put a liberal amount on before and after each breastfeeding, as well as before showering.  It does not hurt the baby at all and your nipples will thank you for not making them crack and bleed.

2. Video Baby Monitor

This is an absolute must have for me! I often wear my newborns when they nap, but, for the times I am not holding them, I want to at least see them. There are so many things that can happen to a baby that make no noises: blankets over face, spitting up, etc. With a video monitor, you can be 100% certain your baby is safe and well.  The big con to video monitors is, in my experience, they are incredibly fragile.  As in, one fall from the kitchen counter and they’re pushing up daisies.  This is the one I have now and its, amazingly, astonishingly, survived more than a few falls.  Its also on the cheaper side, score!

3. Car seat

This one is obvious, right? I recommend one with a high safety rating (check out this article that lists the 13 car seats which scored above the basic safety guidelines in a report done by Consumer Reports) and light weight. The proper place for an infant car seat is in the middle of the back row, which means you’ll be bending as well as lifting each time you take it out. This is quite a stress on the back. The lighter the seat is, (without compromising on safety, of course) the better.

The 13 car seats listed in the article are:

4. Click In Stroller

Though I prefer to wear newborns rather than put them in strollers, there will be times when baby falls asleep in the car and it just makes more sense to let them snooze undisturbed. This model fits almost any car seat and is super light weight. A jogging stroller it may not be but who goes jogging with a newborn, anyway?

This is the one I have  used with my last 2 children.  FYI, the car seat does not lock but must be buckled in, like a seat belt.

5. Nursing cover with wire

Emphasis on the “with wire”, people! Oh, if only I’d had one of these with my first baby! It would have saved me from many public toilet nursing sessions. The wire at the top is what sets this nursing cover apart from the rest. It allows a small window so you can see your baby, they can see you, and keeps the material off their face. Turns out, babies don’t like being smothered by fabric. Shocker, right?

6. Baby hammock

Wow, an amazon search for “baby hammock” leads one to some…unusual products.  I actually had to search for baby swing to find this but, look at it, it’s a hammock, am I right?  Anyway, this is the one I have used for my last 3 babies but really anything portable they can lay in while you shower, cook, or, yes, even pee is a must. I say portable because a newborn should never be left alone, unless, of course, you’re watching them on your handy dandy video monitor. I had a terrifying incident with my firstborn when I had left her in her Pack n’ Play in the bedroom while I took a shower.  There was a leaf hidden somewhere in it and she began choking on it. By the time I realized what was happening, she was almost unconscious. True story.  If she had been in the bathroom with me, I would have noticed far sooner something was off and it would not have been nearly as close of a call as it was.

Side note: I have also used the Rock n’ Swing version of this product and was very disappointed.  It fell apart in less than a month.  The one above, however, though it comes with no bells or whistles, has lasted me years and even came to me as a hand-me-down.  Also, the fabric is detachable, making it a cinch to clean.


7. Baby Carrier

I have had a million baby carriers (well, 4. but you know what I mean) and the Ergo is my favorite.  For a newborn I only recommend the Adapt or the 360, as you do not need an insert.  I put my babe in mine nearly every day and even breastfeed in it!


My #2 go to baby carrier is my Boba.  At about $40 its much cheaper than an Ergo and is perfect for newborns.  If I’m being honest, its kinder to my back as well as my bank account.  The cons for the Boba is you can’t breastfeed in it (or, at least, I can’t figure out how to), its a pain to take off and on, and older babies can wriggle around too much in it for my liking.

8. Co Sleeper

Ok, guys, I’ve never actually owned one of these.  Dreamed, prayed, yearned for, but never actually owned sob sob.  Another thing I’ve never owned with any of my children?  A crib.  Turns out, you don’t need one!  This sweet little pillow fits perfectly between Mom and Dad in bed and keeps baby within Mom’s reach (and breasts).  This would also  work as a portable baby carrier while baby is still too young to roll over (which usually happens around 3 months).  Simply carry it around the house with you and lay baby on it while you cook, vacuum, eat chocolate, drink wine, whatever.


That’s it, Mamas!  Did you notice that no play mats, mobiles, pacifiers or baths made it on the list? That’s because this is a list of MUST HAVES and, in my experience with my 5 babies, those don’t qualify.  Of course, there’s nothing wrong with any of those things and I’d be lying if I said no fuzzy pink hooded towels had ever graced my home, but if you’re on a budget, or just aiming for a minimalist nursery, you shouldn’t need anymore than the above.

God bless you and your little one!  Please leave a comment if there is an absolute must have in your experience that I have left out!

Disclaimer: I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for me to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.


7 Easy Steps to Potty Train Your Toddler

pexels-photo-589062.jpeg1. Wait

Sure, your Aunt’s cousin’s girlfriend’s son was potty trained by age 2, but that is the exception, not the rule. Personally, I don’t even begin to think about potty training until after my children’s 2nd birthday. Waiting until your child is a little more mature will save the both of you a LOT of frustration.

2. Look for the signs

There are several signs a child will exhibit when they reach the maturity level needed to potty train:

A. Interest in mommy and daddy’s potty times.

B. Talking about the act (“pee pee, mommy?) before they go.

C. And this is the BIG KAHUNA – dry diapers when they wake from sleep; in the morning or after nap. I personally use this as the catalyst into potty training. If they are not going the bathroom during their sleep it means their bladder is large enough to retain a decent amount of urine and (and this is the biggie) they are able to hold that urine for a long stretch of time.

3. Start slowly

Begin by inviting them to use the potty before bath time, bed time, and first thing in the morning. It might be helpful for you to go at that time as well. Keep it very casual at this point. You want the child to be intrigued, not overwhelmed.


4. Take off the diaper

The quickest way to potty train a child is to make them aware of when they actually go potty. Sound like circular reasoning?? Here’s the thing: diapers are so well made these days, most kids can’t tell they’ve even gone potty. So, wait for a warm season and get those buns in the sun! Head into the backyard and let your little guy run around naked (at least from the waist down). When he eventually pees, he’ll be instantly aware of it and will start to connect the urge to go to the actual act.

If you cannot get outside and going diaperless indoors is just not for you, try putting underwear on underneath the diaper. The underwear will get wet and, eventually, cold and uncomfortable. Your child will begin linking the urge to pee with the yucky feeling which he will want to avoid.

5. Get a potty seat

I personally prefer the potty seats that fit right over the toilet. This is the one we use at home and which I highly recommend. Whether you buy the full plastic potty that sits on the floor or one like the above, you will need something to accommodate that cutie little patootie.

6. Small rewards


Mini marshmallows

Chocolate chips

Tic tacs

Or, my personal favorite, jelly beans. It’s, honestly, unbelievable what a jelly bean can motivate a toddler to do. Unbelievable! That scary potty suddenly seems like a friend when a small reward is included.

7. Don’t punish


This is a don’t rather than a so. Don’t punish for small accidents, especially in the early days of potty training. You want the child to be excited and engaged, not frightened and overwhelmed. Punishing a child for an accident, as frustrating as it may be, will never speed up the potty training process. Rather it will delay it as the child will become fearful and will feel the desire to hide when the urge to potty comes on.

And now…Don’t forget to CELEBRATE!


Now that your toddler is such a big boy or girl, be sure to take them out to buy their first set of underwear! This is such a thrill for a child and is well deserved after making such a giant leap forward! And pat yourself on the back too, Mama, as you strut right past that diaper aisle!

7 Quick Takes

Hello, my sweet, neglected friends.  I am (sheepishly, baa) back after another inexcusably long hiatus.  I could blame the hiatus on a certain newish-born babe snoozing upstairs, but…actually, that’s a good plan.  It’s his fault.  Just ask him.  If he blinks twice rapidly, you’ll know I’m lying.

New year, new plan, folks! I am going to actually attempt to make a 7 quick takes post QUICK.  Hold your applause. Let’s see if I can do it.

  1. Peter Moseley


Swoon.  Heart eye emojis forever and eva and evvvvvvvv.  Peter aka Petey aka Pete aka Fat Bear aka Squish Butt Sandwich is every bit as wonderful as he looks.  He’s so happy and yummy smelling, I think I might order at least two or three more.  We’ll see.

2. The List


The List! The List! Long live the List!  So, this is my revolutionary new way to homeschool.  Ready for it? It’s pretty complicated.  Write a list.  Ok, maybe not so complicated.

Every morning, as I’m preparing to make breakfast (we eat Egg Toast basically every morning in case you were wondering in case you are as curious about people’s meals as I am.  This is always my first question to people when they come back from a vacation: Yeah, yeah, the Eiffel Tower is great, but what did you eat? Egg Toast is essentially French toast but way more eggs (at least one per person) and no sugar or vanilla. The syrup goes on the finished product, guys, no need to alert the authorities.)  Is anyone else beginning to understand why my Quick Takes are never very quick??)

Anywho, where were we?  Ah, yes, before I pull out my griddle, I pull out El Listo.  I make one for each kid who can read which, in my case, is my 9-year-old and my 7-year-old.  I write everything they need to do that day including chores, and yes, kisses for Mommy (that list ain’t over until the smoochies have been smooched). The above is just today’s example.  We alternate days for math and science with handwriting sprinkled throughout the week.  You didn’t know that handwriting was something that could be sprinkled, did you? Rainbow handwriting sprinkles.

Apart from the Morning Reading portion, which is about 45 minutes, all is done independently.  They come to me for help sometimes, of course, but they’re mainly on their own.  No more nagging, no fighting for my attention, no screaming, neglected 2-year-old, no cranky, wet baby.  Well, maybe it’d be more honest to say less of all the above.  Today, for example, I was free as a bird with a baby and a toddler strapped to its chest from 10 am on, while the kids worked steadily until lunch.  Insert maniacal laugh here.

3. Speaking of Morning Reading, we always have one of these going, picked out by the kids.  Currently, we’re reading about Mother Theresa.

4. These are theeee greatest.  My kids LOVE them and always have one or two playing during the day.

5. Speaking of audiobooks, has anyone else noticed that good ol’ Grandpa Joe from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory allegedly hasn’t been able to get out of bed for 20 years but somehow undergoes a miraculous healing when he gets the chance to go to Wonka’s factory?  What the heck, ppl?  If anyone should have gone with Charlie, it’s his mom who’s apparently been nursing a faker for the last two decades, amiright? Fist bumps all round.

6. Someone, please buy me one of these. Merci.

7. Petey’s Baptism!



A blessed feast of St Brigid to all!

Part 2: Jolie Charlene

I can’t believe I actually had the gall to this a summary.  This is legit longer than any actual birth story that I have read! For the 3 (optimistic estimate) of you who are actually still reading this, my apologies.  I have deceived you.

I clearly had to make a Part 2, though, bc how depressing would it be to end my birth story summary (lololol) with the words, “I saw a very blue, eerily quiet baby.”  Bad Mom Award Winner Forever.

I think about 20 minutes passed, of which I have absolutely no memory as I was flying high on the aforementioned anxiety medicine. Shaine was with Jolie in a different room so there’s no one to tell me if I started belting show-tunes or challenged the cadaver-nurse to a sword fight or whatever.  My best guess is I slept.  Eventually, they wheeled me into a room that blessedly held no trays full of knives and torches and other such instruments and I lay there for a few minutes until someone wheeled her in.  My baby.  My Jolie.

She’s in this little cradle thing and I reach my hand out to her and she actually (honestly, not making this up) reaches her little hand back out to me and it’s this wonderful, miraculous moment that I will never ever forget.  I ask the nurse if I can hold her, as I have literally not even touched her at this point, and she goes, “um, you’re kinda shaky.” Which is an understatement.  The uncontrollable flapping has ceased, thanks be to God, but now I’m trembling from head to foot, teeth chattering and all.  But still. Give me my baby, lady! She tentatively hands her to me and right away Jolie starts making this fishy-gulping movement with her mouth and I say, “I think she wants to nurse,” to which the aforementioned emotional robot/nurse replies, “She’s never going to nurse right now.  She’s way too groggy.” A statement I flatly ignore, pulling down my robe, and bam! Contact is made, baby nurses, and continues nursing for the next hour or so.  Casey 1, Robot Nurse 0.

The more I think about this birth, the more I realize how truly awful it was.  I spent the next 3 days in a recovery room with a handful of other newly made mothers, none of whom I saw even once as we were all separated by curtains. I was not once cleaned, given a way to brush my teeth (I couldn’t really walk due to the c section so I couldn’t get to a sink), or had any of the multitudes of sticky hospital pads attached to me removed.  When I was finally released to go home, I was still covered (covered) in dry blood from the labor and my husband had to get in the shower with me and scrub it all off as I had limited mobility from the C section.  The first night I spent in the recovery room they did not want to leave Jolie with me (still not sure why) so I told them to bring her to me every time she cried so I could nurse her.  I hate myself now for not being more assertive about keeping her with me.  This hospital was seriously over-crowded so who knows how quick they were to bring her me when she cried.  She could have cried for hours and I never would have known.  Also, there was no point in separating us if the reason was to let me rest after all the trauma as I can never sleep after I’ve had a baby and so I just laid there, alone (there was nowhere for Shaine to sleep and he was exhausted, having barely slept for 2 days), obsessing over the fear that someone might steal my baby.

I know, I know, it could have been worse.  We’re both alive.  I suppose I could have given birth in a pig pen underneath a bucking rodeo bull, but still.  It was hardly ideal.  Jolie has always had this grit about her, like she could survive anything.  Maybe her terrible entry into this world has something to do with that. Anyway, that’s my birth novella. Stay tuned for birth 2, which thankfully does not occur in a Soviet-era Russian hospital (aka Sacramento, CA).

jo birth

One hour


One week.


One year


2 years


3 years


4 years


5 years


6 years


7 years


8 years

So so so so so worth it.  My special angel.  My gift from God.  My Jolie Charlene.

Jolie Charlene

Part 1


So, I was 23 when I had my numero uno and Shaine was one week shy of 21.  (yesiliketorobcradles.  Ask me again, pls.) We were basically 2 and 5 years old and were like, alright! Let’s have a baaaaaabyy! Woo hoo!  Well, not exactly, but, looking back now it kinda feels like that.  I was about 38 weeks and his mother, brother, and mom’s boyfriend flew in from OKC to CA to be with us, bc, surely I would be having this baby any day now.  Surely.  Welp.  Maybe not.  Let me tell you, having your in-laws travel thousands of miles to meet their first grandchild and then failing to deliver said grandchild adds no pressure to the whole experience what. so. ever.

So, the due date comes…and goes.  My in-laws come…and go.  Shaine’s time off work comes…and goes.  My sanity comes…and goes.  (We planned things well, didn’t we?) Baby girl still happily crushing my innards all the while.  A week past my due date and I go in to get the stress test where they check the baby’s heartbeat and level of amniotic fluid to make sure everything’s still a-ok.  Well, I guess her heartbeat was a bit lower than they wanted it to be so, a call to my husband and off we go to the hospital to finally evict our little baby squatter.  On the way to the hospital, ish got real.  Not as in I started to actually go into labor.  LOLOLOL, please. Don’t be ridiculous. No, ish got real like I realized, (maybe, unnervingly?) for the first time that I was actually about to become a mother.  Up to this point, I had ZERO experience with babies.  I didn’t really even have any experience with little kids besides my brother who is autistic and a Martian and in no way prepared me to deal with other, non-martian children (yes, I am allowed to say that.  He’s my brother, for crying out loud.) I looked at Shaine at one point on the drive down and said, “I don’t know if I’m ready for this.” To which he replied, like the sage that he is, “You better get ready.”

We get to the hospital and I’m checked into a broom closet that will surely, surely only be temporary (it wasn’t), and the doctor (nurse? midwife? janitor? I can’t remember) asks me about my birth plan.  Of course, OF COURSE, I was going have a completely drug-free, vaginal birth! Did I look like one of those women who selfishly drug their babies? And, no, the fact that this birth would be induced with large amounts of torturous Pitocin made absolutely no difference whatsoever.  Why should it? Pe. Shaw. This convo is taking place literally (and you should know I only use literally in its correct usage as a rule) as a woman down the hall is screaming and I’m all “what’s going on with her?” and the doc says she is having a natural labor also and this does not faze me AT ALL.  I’m just like, oh good for her!

Fast forward to an hour later and I’m hunched over while an anesthesiologist is prepping my back, praying that the needle will just freaking get in there and GIVE ME THE JUICE! At one point the nurse mentions the so-recently hated, currently-beloved and coveted-above-all-riches epidural might not work and she officially becomes my Most Hated Person for the next 20 min or so.

Hallelujahx5billion, the epidural does take, the nurse, along with every person who has ever wronged me in my life, is pardoned in my mind, and all I say for the next 3 hours, over and over again in my mind, is thank You, God, thank You, God, thank You, God.

I could bore you with the next 20 or so hours of nothingness (sleep, watch TV, pee in a bag, sleep, watch TV, pee in a bag) but let’s fast forward to the next day when I’m finally getting ready to push (still in the broom closet! I’m not even joking about this.  I mean, it probably wasn’t an actual broom closet but I’m positive it was not meant to be used as a labor and delivery room. It was literally (again, correct usage) the size of a broom closet and how my husband, mom, and sister all slept in there with me overnight defies logic (though it’s seriously the sweetest thing ever, right? I think they slept on the floor!).

(Side note apology: that paragraph belongs in the run on sentence Hall of Shame.  How many parentheses did I manage to squeeze in there?  So sorry you had to suffer through that.)

I push through a few contractions.  A few more.  A half hour goes by.  An hour.  2 hours.  The world turns.  10 women in China deliver babies effortlessly.  I push. I push. I push.  Nada.

Suddenly, a horrid buzzing noise goes off on the baby monitor and every doctor, nurse, and cafeteria worker in the hospital crams into my minuscule room at once.  An oxygen mask is pushed on my face and one of the multitudes of doctors tells me the baby’s in distress and I need to get a C section NOW.  I look over at my husband in shock and he is kneeling on the ground, praying his heart out, God bless him.  The crowd files out to get the OR room ready and I just start to bawl.  This was so NOT how my labor was supposed to go.  This was so NOT how I was supposed to meet my baby.  I was supposed to give birth naturally, easily.  This was supposed to be the first of many, many children I would give birth to naturally and easily.  My husband and I had wanted a large family.  We calculated that, God willing all went smoothly, we could manage to have at least 12 (!!!!) children before I went through menopause.  I knew you couldn’t have 12 children if you had c-sections.  I think I’d heard the max was 4.  I felt like such a failure.  I felt like I had let my husband down, like I was this lemon that he was stuck with the rest of his life when he should have married a baby machine instead.  Of course, he didn’t feel that way and was amazingly sweet and wonderful and affirming, but I was crushed.  I was also exhausted.  My body had been in forced labor for over 24 hours and I hadn’t been allowed to eat anything in all that time.  I was beyond done.

Enter Dr. Crazy Pants.  A doctor I have never seen before bursts into the room at some point during my breakdown, thrusts her giant hands inside me, and shouts (really! shouts! and laughs! I’m not making this up!) that a woman “my size” will never give birth naturally.  My mom kinda gives her the stink eye and says something like, cool it, lady.  This is a girl who wants a large family. To which Dr. CPants hoots, What?! Why?! I’ve got 2 and that’s too many! Then she whisks me away to OR.

I’m not 100% sure how C-sections go for those who are not in emergency situations, but for me they somehow fixed it so the epidural affected my whole body rather than just below my hips.  For some reason, this amount of epidural didn’t sit well with my system and my head and arms started flapping uncontrollably, which was as wonderful as you can imagine.  Dr. CPants is still there, haunting me, and has now started shouting, “LAWD JEEEESUS! LAWD JEEEEESUS!” I’m unsure whether she is cursing or praying but, honestly, neither explanation is very comforting.  They’re prepping me and pulling the big sheet between my face and horror show that will soon be behind it, when I feel a panic attack coming on.  I’ve only had one other panic attack in my life (while being forced to run the mile in high school on a 110+ day which I still maintain is straight up child abuse), but the feeling is unmistakable.  I’m trying to distract myself, to think of anything but the fact that my body will be cut open in less than 2 minutes so I desperately try to strike up a conversation with the closest person to me, who (I think?) is a nurse.

“Are you reading anything these days?” I ask in a scary, high pitched voice, pretending to be totally casual.

“Huh?” she says and looks at me like she’s suddenly realized I’m not a cadaver.

“Books!” I squeak.  “What books are you reading?” The panic in my voice is obvious.

“Uh…” Still looking at me like she can’t figure out how the cadaver is talking. “Medical books, I guess…” She throws me this little scrap of human conversation then goes back to sharpening knives or whatever else device of torture she’s planning on slicing me open with.

Thanks be to God, Shaine (who unlike some ppl actually has the skill of speech) is allowed into the room.  He takes one look at me and sees I’m spiraling.  “Tell me about the Hobbit!” I yell, right off, like the truly insane person I am. And Shaine, just like the absolutely heavenly creature that he is, says, without any weird looks or eyebrow raises or anything, “Once there was a wizard named Gandalf…”

Oh my gosh, I’m loling writing this right now because I’m realizing what a crazy, awkward, nonsensical birth story this really is.

I don’t know how far he got into the story bc I actually did have the dreaded attack once the smell of burning flesh hit my uncontrollably flapping head.  I remember someone showing me a very blue, eerily quiet baby then I think they gave me some anxiety medicine bc everything’s a little blurry after that.

To be continued…

Birthin Babies

(Remember what I said about no g’s at the end of words in summer?  I was serious about that.)

So, my new hobby is scouring the internet for mom blogs and reading every birth story I can find.  Can’t imagine why.  And because I’m nothing if not a copy cat, I’ve kinda been feeling like I want to write my birth stories down too…buuuut, the problem with that is all my stories happened at least 2 years ago and I’m for sure not going to remember all the gory little details that I know you all are just dying to read (emiright?).

My solution is this: I’ll write a summary about each of the births! Yay!  I’m a genius, right? No one could see that coming, could they?  And then AND THEN when little bb boy is born, I will write his birth story down with every last mind-numbing detail that no one but me and maybe my mother could possibly ever care about.  I should add a disclaimer here, though, that, as I’ve made it my life’s motto to not undertake any task unless it be on a spontaneous whim (a very efficient way to live, btw), it’s entirely possible that I’ll have the boy (did I mention I’m having a boy? oh, 1000x? ok) and then be all, “meh, blog smlog,” thus maintaining my reign as World’s Biggest Flake.  We will see.

Alright, let’s get started! I think, in an effort to be a legit blogger, I’ll just put the links (links prove you know what you’re doing) below and you can click on the one you want to read.  Good?

Jolie Charlene

August 19, 2008


more to come…

7 Quick Takes

Again, yes, it’s been forever.  Again, sorry.

Ok, let’s just dive right in.

  1. Pregnancy Numero Cinco


Yes, I’m pregnant!  Yes, again! And, yes!  With a boy!!! I’m well into my 6th month actually and seeing as how I was talking about how I was not pregnant in my last post, it’s clearly been wayyyy too long between now and then.

This pregnancy has honestly been one of my toughest.  I don’t feel like I’ve done any of my pregnancies that gracefully but this baby has just sapped allllll my strength.  Thus far, we’ve made 3 trips to the ER for IV fluids and I’ve had to get 2 root canals.  TWO! (insert dying face emoji here). Let me tell you, hanging out basically upside down for an hour or so in a dental chair while pregnant (with a dentist who btw keeps pulling down his face mask and breathing his yucky man breath down your way too open mouth) is just delightful.  Just.

But, in some other key ways, this pregnancy’s actually been one of my most peaceful, too.  Mentally, I mean, not physically.  I’ve been told by large families that once you hit the 4 kid mark, things get noticeably easier.  I don’t know if I would agree that things have gotten easier (ahem, laundry, ahem, food), or if just have.  Normally, during my 3rd trimester, I’m freaking out about how the current baby is going to adjust and how we’re going to handle it financially and will my older kids be neglected, blah blah blah.  But with this little guy, the only thing I’m really thinking about is how awesome it will be to have a newborn again.  I honestly CANNOT wait to hold him and smell him and just cart him around.

2. Ages and Stages

Ok, I’ve said this before but I’m seriously in love with the 2-year-old stage.  Which I know is crazy bc it has this terrible rep as being just awful but I honestly find it to be the most magical, enchanting, cutesy patootsie stage ever.

Zoe has transformed from a demanding, Lt General of a baby to this sweet little counselor-tot.  She has this thing where, if any of us gets hurt or says they have a stomachache or whatever, she holds her arms out and says in this tiny but totally self-assured voice, “Come ere, come ere.  I got choo,” and then she wraps her arms around you and pats your back.  It’s the most precious thing in the world.  I could have a limb hacked off and be like, ok, I’m good, after one of her counsel seshes.


(Resistance is futile)

3.  Worries

That being said, 4: not my favorite age.  I’ve gone through this enough with my older girls to know that 4 just has bad juju all around it, but I re-heally find this stage challenging. Is it just my kids or are all 4-year-olds the most emotionally fragile people on the planet?  The list of things that make Ruby cry are endless and include everything from not being able to find her hat to not being sure if she has to go to the bathroom to thinking I’m giving her a stink eye when, in reality, something has gotten under my contact.  Anna, who is now 6, was the same way at that age and is pleasantly stoic now so I know that this is, in fact, a stage, but still, Ruby is def the child currently holding the title of Child I Am Most Worried About.  Check back in a few months when she is 5, fingers crossed.


(Don’t even think about borrowing one of those stuffed animals)

(Mom guilt add on: Ruby is honestly the sweetest child, who bursts into tears (shocker) whenever her sister puts roller skates on bc she’s afraid she’s going to fall.  I love her and her massive bleeding heart.  The constant breakdowns are just slowly killing me rn.)

4.   Books



This book has been awesome so far.  We’re about 3/4 of the way through it. It’s about a little boy with a serious facial deformity and how he and all the people around him cope with it.  It has chapters written from different characters’ points of view, like his sister and even his bully, which makes it even more interesting.

Full disclosure:  My 8-year-old LOVES this book.  My more sensitive 6-year-old has had a few nightmares from it, though, and has asked me more than once if there is any possible way for her face to suddenly become deformed.  Maybe best for older kids.

5. IN Parents. (Warning: if you are not a huge Personality Type geek, you may want to skip to number 6.)

I as in Introverted, N as in Intuitive.  If you were wondering if my Myers Briggs obsession is still going strong, wonder no more.  Shaine and I are both IN’s (I’m an INTP, he’s an INTJ).  IN’s are very very big about respecting other’s personal space, big on day dreaming, big on individuality, big on unconditional love and acceptance.  We pretty much hate being pushed into things by other ppl so make it a point not to do that to others.  I have generally considered this to be a plus, parenting-wise, and it’s probably not hard to figure out why 2 IN’s have embraced unschooling.  Lately, though, I was reading about ES’s.  They’re the opposite of IN’s.  Extraverted rather than Introverted, Sensory rather than Intuitive.  (An easy way to summarize the difference between an S and an N is to say an S understands the world through their senses while an N understands it through their thoughts.  An S experiences the mountains by climbing them.  An N understands the mountains by looking at them and thinking about them.) Anyways, as I was reading about ES’s I saw that their great strength when it comes to parenting is that they are engaging.  They play.  I am with my kids almost all the time.  And I think I am playful.  But I don’t really play.  I don’t like to play.  I like to watch them play, and I feel like I’ve given them enough siblings/free time that they shouldn’t really even need me to play.  But I know they want me to.  They want me to swim with them, to dance with them, ride bikes with them, etc.  And I’m not really very good at all that.   Tbh, I’m never going to be that mom who mountain bikes with the baby strapped on the back of her bike, but I’m trying to be at least a little more present.  Maybe, gasp, even swim with them every once in a while when really really all I want to do is sit and watch.


(Are you coming, Mom?


6. Grillin

Ok, this 7 Quick Takes is starting to feel like 7 Agonizingly Long Takes so let me just say I am married to the Grill Master.  Like, for real.  And we be grillin all the time these days.  Right now bb boy is feasting on carne asada tacos with grilled onions and tomato and, let me tell you, he ain’t complainin. (you don’t need g’s at the end of words in the summer, did you know?)

7. Spam


That’s all for now! See ya’ll later!



Catching Up

Guys, I don’t know what it is but I’ve been running catch up alllll year. I mean, I’m not even pregnant!  I actually think I might be more productive when I’m pregnant as, in the in-between pregnancy stage, I always have a needy 1-year-old running around like an escaped chimpanzee from the zoo.


No pants, no problem.  (Yes, that is a hideous stain on my carpet, thanks for asking.)


Not seen: Anna climbing on the back of the couch to escape an attack by pictured drumstick in said needy baby’s hands.

Side note:  You might not know this if your husband’s not a drummer like mine is, and thus do not have dozens of drumsticks laying around your home, but they (drumsticks) are basically the most painful things on earth.

Ok, case in point of how behind I am this year:  We celebrated St Nick day on December 7th.  In case you don’t know, St Nick day is December 6th, but I was too whatever to get my crap together (AND Trader Joe’s sold out of golden coins AGAIN this year before I could get my hands on any.  I blame all this on you, TJ’s.) So, I lied, gulp, and told my kids that this year it was being celebrated on the 7th.  Going to Hell, fo sho.  It gets worse.  As I said, we were sans chocolate coins and I obviously had done ZERO planning so I had no holy cards or icons or religious whatever on hand, so we filled their boots with TROLL BOOKS.  Troll freaking books.  If you were wondering who gets the prize for worst Orthodox convert this year, wonder no longer.

(I would insert a sweet picture of their boots lined up here but SURPRISE I took zero pictures.)  (Help)

I probably don’t have to tell you I’m not doing a Jesse Tree this year, but I’m not.  I’m going to be honest with you for a moment here.  I know the Jesse Tree is like The THING to Christian homeschooling families everywhere, but…I don’t really get it.  No judgment.  If you’re into it, power to you.  But, I don’t know.  The cute little story, the Bible verse everyone is too distracted to listen to, the little camel/donkey/candle ornament to color?  Eyeroll forever.

Is this post too negative?  Probably.  Sorry, peeps!

Ok, I’m going to end this with some positivity.  Here we go.  My three fav things right now.  Why?  Because.

  1. Praise Babies.

Oh, Praise Babies, how I do love thee.  In case you don’t know, Praise Babies is kinda like a Christian version of those Baby Einstein videos where pretty pictures float dreamily by only worship music is played in the background instead of Mozart or Bach or whatever.  Said needy baby is determined to cling to my leg (or preferably, breast) every minute of every day besides the thirteen minutes or so she is napping UNLESS Praise Babies is on, and then I am free for a whole mind-blowing 35 minutes.  Guess what is playing as I am typing at this very moment?  Praise Babies, friends.  Praise Babies.

2. Having an 8-year-old.

(Side note: Do you guys have these little cartoon cars at your mall, too?  Bc my kids almost crash into innocent shoppers about 10 times every time they ride them. How is this legal?)


What?  You can hang up your own clothes?  What? You can empty the dishwasher?  What?  You can take your little sister to the bathroom at the restaurant?  What? You can basically be my own personal slave?  (kidding kidding)  But, seriously, my girl, I love every inch of your moderately independent self.  I always thought that I would love the baby stage the most and be kinda sad when my kids grew out of that and were official Kids, but I gotta say, official kid age has major major perks.  I still love the niblets out of the baby stage, but there is soooooo much to love about the older stages too, I’m finding out.

3. Instagram Stories

How lame am I?  Very very lame, apparently.  But, I’m addicted.  I love watching ppl’s little home movies.  Movies of their kids, their cats, their burritos, whatever.  Bring it on.  Oversharers of the world, I love you.

Welllll, that’s about it for now.  Another random aimless post brought to you by Yours Truly.  As it is fairly unlikely I’ll get it together to put up another post before Christmas, let me wish you all a Merry Christmas!!! right now.

Oh!  On the Christmas note, I’m going to add one more thing.  I would just copy the video and paste it here so you could watch it but, as I’m cheap and have the most basic of basic plans, WordPress won’t let me (cheers, WP):

4. Carrie Underwood singing How Great Thou Art.  Have you guys seen this?  It is A-MA-ZING.  I love it.  I weep over it.  It’s just…the best.  Do yourself a favor and goggle it now, k?


The Simple Post

*I wrote the following to myself because I can’t seem to remember it.  Maybe if I publish it, I’ll feel too much a hypocrite to forget it again.


The only thing children need is love.  If we want to prepare our children for what really matters, then we will love them unconditionally.  We will forgive them.  We will see the best in them.  What truly matters will always matter and the only thing that will always matter is love.  “The greatest of these is love.”  “Only love will remain.”

If it is possible to love too much, then we do not know God.  God loves when it is stupid to love.  God forgives when no one would forgive.  The reason we are alive, that we even exist, is because God loves when it is stupid to love.  Of course, I’m talking as a man.  Men think there is a line where love should not cross.  God doesn’t know about this line.


The thing that homeschoolers talk about, think about, obsess, blog and read about is how to prepare our children for the future.  But we forget that the future is God.  We can’t push love aside and take care of it after the scholarships are earned and the mortgage is paid. Those things don’t even exist.  Not really.  We will not be grateful if we forget love and pursue these things.  We will not say, “I’m so glad I took care of that.  Now I can bother with the religious stuff.”

If handwriting or math or saying, “yes, ma’am” is the focus of every day of my children’s lives then they will grow up and they will not know that God is love.  If the focus of every day of my children’s lives is coerced prayers and forced readings of Scripture and “keep quiet during church”, then they will grow up and they will not know that God is love.  And they will not believe me if I tell them, though they might believe it if God tells them.

If the only thing I did all day, every single day of my children’s lives was love and forgive them, that would be enough.  That would be everything.



Hmm, not so much…

I’ll be lecturing a class on Creative Blog Posts titles at Harvard later this month if you’re interested.

We’re all given a lot of advice throughout our lives, right?  Some good, some not so much (see what I did there?).  Anyway, I was just obsessing over insignificant things in the shower, as you do, and I realized that a lot of things I have been told in my life, that I have taken for granted as hard, cold truths, are not actually true at all.  And so, since I possess that rare gift of oversharing, I’ve made a little (long, rambling, endless) list of them for your viewing pleasure.

  1. It is good to be a perfectionist.

I am NOT a perfectionist.  At all.  No one has ever accused me of being one (my nickname for years was Spacey Casey) and I am fairly certain no one ever will.  Example: I was late every single day of my junior year of high school. Every. Day.  Example 2: While changing my baby’s diaper yesterday, I wiped her with a damp bib  because I had run out of 1. wet wipes as well as 2. paper towels as well 3. toilet paper.  Now, most of my life I considered this a weakness.  It was certainly a weakness while in school.  But now that I am an adult, honestly, I’m starting to see it as a strength.  There are a number of studies out that say perfectionism can lead to depression because, while it may be possible to fill out a scantron perfectly, it’s not possible to argue with your husband perfectly. Or teach your kids perfectly.  Or pray perfectly.  It’s just not.  Not being a perfectionist has allowed me to be an optimist.  Yes, I might screw up here and there, my kids might be crazy, feral beasts off and on throughout the day, and my husband might be gone working and doing homework more often than I would like him to be, but, at the end of the day, we all love and forgive each other and that is enough.  That is more than enough!


(excuse me while I earn my nickname)

2. I would get used to waking up early.

Nope. Never.  Never.  Ever.  Mornings = death.  (I think the above picture was taken before 9 am)

3. I would miss working once I became a stay at home mom.

I remember being told this when I was pregnant with my first daughter, by virtually every woman I knew, and thinking inwardly, “For real?!” Now, just to clarify as my former boss aka Dad will be reading this: I had a great job.  My heart just wasn’t there.  I think this is true for many girls though it’s unpopular to say so.  I have met so many young girls who aren’t sure what they want to do with their lives.  They say maybe they’d like to go into creative arts or open a bakery or just travel a bit.  I wonder if maybe, like me, their true heart’s desire is to be a wife and mother.  I used to feel ashamed about how little ambition I had in school and work.  I thought maybe I was inherently lazy or stupid.  I can tell you now, after having/chasing/cooking for/cleaning up after four small children (and still hoping and praying for more!), I am neither lazy nor stupid (proof: I used nor in a sentence).  I’m actually pleased (and  a bit surprised) to say I can be quite the hard worker.  I just needed a vocation.  I needed a purpose.  Working couldn’t give me that, but motherhood and wifehood (is that a word??) has.

baby jo

(sweet dreams, you beautiful excuse not to work)

4.  Even if I did get used to the SAHM gig, I’d be dying for playdates so I could have “grown up” conversations.

Ahh, playdates.  Save me.  Please.  Playdates = death.  Contrary to what I had been told, children are fascinating as well as hilarious company and are, gasp, also capable of conversation.

5. If I didn’t succeed in high school, I’d never make it in college.

Blatant lie.  I barely graduated high school.  In fact, there was some controversy over whether or not I should be allowed to walk on stage during the graduation ceremony.  I did great in college.  I actually earned straight A’s one semester, and close to straight A’s all the other ones.  Yes, I did end up leaving college before I graduated but that was not because I couldn’t handle the workload.  I went full-time every semester while also working and even joined the debate team.

6.  I would regret dropping out of college.

While I am not against college in the slightest, I am against the idea of “finding yourself” in college. College is a horrible place to find yourself.  If you are lost, you will be more lost on a college campus.  I was very very lost in college and, upon reflection, probably depressed.  I had no clue as to what I wanted to do for a career.   Though I did enjoy my classes and received grades my high school self never dreamed of, I was floundering in my personal life.  I decided to take some time off to travel with my sister and get my head straight.  Within two years, I had a passionate faith, a beautiful husband, and a pregnant belly.  I have never, ever, for a moment, regretted dropping out of college.  Actually, it’s one of the best decisions I ever made.

p and c

(Hong Kong)

7. Getting married young is a mistake.

I was 21 when I got married.  My husband was 19 (  Seriously, what would happen if this joke was not made every single time it’s mentioned I’m older than my husband?  Would the Universe implode?)  We’ve been married nine years now.  In a lot of ways, we ‘ve grown up together.  We’ve made foolish, youthful mistakes together.  We’ve been poor together.  We’ve quit careers and started careers together.  And I wouldn’t have had it any other way.  Going through all the ups and downs of life has truly made us partners. It’s made us One.   There’s a scene in “Letters to Juliet” where the grandmother, who is searching for her long lost love, pulls up to the giant mansion  where she thinks he’s living and her grandson turns to her and says, “Well, looks like you got to skip the messy bits.” To which she quietly replies, “Life is the messy bits.”  Word.

c and s


8. My kids wouldn’t connect to the Faith in an Orthodox church.

Okay, no one actually said this to me, it was more something I said to myself.  In our seeker friendly culture, I was afraid my kids wouldn’t be able to find meaning in a 2-hour service full of chanting, incense, and standing.  Didn’t they need Veggie Tales and a rocking worship band to engage?  Wouldn’t they dread the services, as there are so many of them?  Wouldn’t they find the priests and the icons and the hymns strange?  No, no, and no.  It has been one of the greatest joys of my life to see my children grow in Orthodoxy.  They get it. They just Get. It.

st anna

Btw, kids LOVE icons.  And prostrations.  Who knew?

Okay, there you have it.  I could have written more but I assume you have better things to do with your time to read my endless rants, right?  I’ll just end with this: there is a certain mold people are expected to fit into; in school, work, adulthood.  When you don’t fit that mold, it can be scary. I don’t fit that mold.  I never did.  And, for many years, that truth really did scare me. I remember crying myself to sleep one night, calling out to God, begging Him to give me a future, pleading with Him to set me on a path, because I couldn’t imagine how I would walk the one the world had laid out for me.

And He did.  He gave me an awesome life.  He gave me purpose.  He gave me a future.  It’s okay that I didn’t fit the mold.  I think one of the reasons I am so grateful for my present life is because I always assumed my life would suck.  How could it not?  If you’re a terrible student and unmotivated worker, your life will inevitably be a giant failure,right?  As it turns out, No.  That’s not right.  There is more than one version of a Great Life.

9. This is only one version of a Great Life.

Until next time.