Monthly Archives: July 2012

Our Little Cupcake!

Makenna has been one for almost a month!  She is growing

up so quickly and lately it seems like she’s doing

something new every day.  This is such a fun age! 

Here’s her top seven hobbies right now:

1.) She loves feeding the dogs her finger food when she doesn’t think we’re watching.  Makenna’s mealtimes have become Oliver and Zoe’s favorite time of day.  I’ve started to put them in their kennels while I feed her until she learns not to do it, otherwise we’ll soon have two obese dogs!

2.) Makenna LOVES crawling in a variety of fashions.  She prefers the army crawl most of the time, but can also move rather quickly on her hands and knees. 

3.) She is adamant that she will get in our downstairs bathroom any time that door is open!  If I know I need to go in there to check on Evan, I sit her down on the other side of the family room and she is able to get across the long room in seconds.  I don’t know what she thinks is going on in that bathroom that is so interesting (Dora the Explorer? One of her grandmas?), but dang it, she’s gonna find out!

4.) Makenna LOVES cupcakes, real or plastic!  For days, everywhere she went, she carried a plastic turquoise and brown cupcake.  Standing, sitting, playing with other toys, that little cupcake was in her hand.  It cracked us up!  And when Ryan was holding her birthday cupcake with its lit candle while we sang happy birthday to her, she got mad that he was keeping it from her!!!!  He just didn’t want her to try to touch the flame and get hurt. 

5.) If she’s laying or sitting quietly in the family room and has her hands near her mouth, I know I need to check out what she’s doing because she is fascinated with my hair that she finds on the floor.  No matter how often I try to make sure there are no stray hairs laying on our carpet, she manages to find one!  Yuck. 

6.) Makenna LOVES her feet and does cute things with them.  She loves grabbing her toes when she’s being changed, enjoys holding toys with her feet, curls her feet together, and tucks her toes up under the edge of her high chair tray.  Makenna is all about her feet!

7.) She’s starting to hold her own with Evan and their toys!  In the past, Evan would grab toys from Makenna if we weren’t vigilant at watching what he was doing.  We challenge this behavior if we see it, but Makenna is also not giving up her toys as easily as before…and she’s starting to crawl over to where he is and play with him or try to take his toys!  It has begun!

25 Rules for Mothers with Daughters

Awhile back, a friend forwarded me “25 Rules for Mothers with Sons”.  I liked it so much I added it to my blog (giving credit where it’s due, of course, to Tabitha Studer.  Her blog address is:  I started looking around for a similar one for mothers with daughters, but hadn’t found any that I truly connected with.  So over the past few months, I’ve tried to come up with a list myself. 

I have really enjoyed reflecting on what I’d like to teach Makenna now that I am a mother to a daughter.  Some of what I’ve written comes from working with teenage girls, the rest are things that I gleaned from my own experiences.  I hope I can fulfill the things I’ve put on this list, but I’m sure that this in no way is a complete list.  So I’d love your opinion.  What things do you think a mother should teach her daughter?  What have I missed?   If you were to create your own list of Rules for Mothers with Daughters, what would be important to you? Feel free to leave me a comment below. 

1.       Develop her emotional intelligence—help her learn to not be ruled by her emotions, but not to ignore them either.  People have long assumed that women were automatically better with feelings than men because it’s more socially acceptable for women to express them.  But many women struggle with emotions.  Teach her to value her feelings, but also to express them in appropriate ways and to not be driven by them.  Role model healthy ways to deal with/express anger, sadness, disappointment, etc.
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  2.  Tearscan be beautiful, but are also powerful.  Help her to not be ashamed of her sensitive side, but also share with her that tears are not to be used to manipulate others.

 3.Affirm her strengths and skills, regardless  of whether they’re traditional gender-role  ones.Whether my daughter wants to be a nurse, a pilot, a teacher, or a mechanic, I want to delight in the strengths and skills God has given her.

4. Cultivate assertiveness.  Educate her on how vicious women can be towards each other and
how to cultivate relationships that avoid these dynamics.  Help her practice being assertive
rather than passive-aggressive, passive, or aggressive. Challenge her behavior if/when you see
her gossiping, excluding, or being a doormat.
5.  Educate her that popularity isn’t worth being a“mean” girl or selling out your values. If
everyone likes you all the time, you’re doing something wrong. Reach out to those who
don’t fit in as naturally and be willing to explore friendships outside of your group.  Life is always
richer when you surround yourself with people with a variety of personalities, interests, and
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6.  Explore what things she wants to share with others and which things should only be shared
after someone has earned trust, whether it be physically, sexually, or emotionally.  Empower her
to have strong boundaries  and to not be afraid to defend them.

7. Empower her to express herself, to have a strong and clear voice—both with her actual
voice but also through other means…music, art, writing in a journal, etc.  And teach her that she doesn’t always have to be known as the “nice” girl by always agreeing with others and not rocking the boat if necessary.  Teach her how to use her voice to express herself, but not in a way that hurts others (i.e, harsh words, rumors, gossip, etc).

8.   Encourage her to embrace her beauty and sexuality without using them as a way to gain
power or position or as the sole basis of her self-worth.  Teach her to value character, integrity, and intelligence more than beauty 

9.  Teach her how to change a tire!  There will be times when she has to fend for herself and
teaching her this particular skill will remind her that she is capable of doing so.
10.   Teach her how to bake and cook.  Eating together is a way to connect with others and
providing some of the yummy food is a great and fun skill to have.  And sometimes a plate of
cookies or a loaf of delicious banana bread can make someone feel treasured. 
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11.   Cultivate a sense of humor and an ability to laugh at oneself!  A great sense of humor is so attractive and also makes life’s ups and downs easier to take.

12.   Read, read, read!  Read fiction, non-fiction, all sorts of books.  Read things that challenge your mind, touch your heart, and challenge you to grow! 

13. Encourage her to try new things and go new places.At the same time, as she explores the world, cultivate a street-smart sense in her.

14. Teach her that sometimes the most valuable things in life require waiting, hard work, and risk. Live these principles out in your own life.

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15.   Remind her that human relationships are important but that she is not solely defined by them.  Her intrinsic value comes from who God made her to be rather than who she is connected to here on earth…whether it be family relationships, friendships, or romantic relationships. 

16.   Grow a daddy’s girl—encourage a close relationship between your husband and her. 
Make sure she has “date nights” with her dad.  She will feel treasured by him (which
hopefully decreases the likelihood that she’ll chase after approval from other boys/men to fill a
void) and learn lessons from him that a mother never could teach the same way.
17.   Teach her to seek out men with integrity, men who treat her with respect, and make her
feel cherished.  Explore what qualities important men in her life have/had that she wants in
someone of the opposite sex.
18.Listen to her, even if that means listening, listening some more, and listening again.  You’re a
woman yourself, you know how much our gender talks and how good it feels when someone
truly listens!  
picture from fotosearch

19.   Support her when she feels alone socially.  Teach her healthy ways to manage it when friendships break down, she feels isolated, or she is struggling with peers.Explain that some friendships will last a lifetime, others will be only for a season, and that’s okay.  Encourage her to care deeply or however long that particular friend is in her life. 

20.   Help her love her body and all that it can do.  Whether she is big-boned or petite,
encourage her to appreciate her body and be comfortable with the characteristics that aren’t
exactly as she would like.  Presenting yourself with a genuine smile and carrying yourself with
confidence accentuates one’s strengths and can make you more attractive than the best
makeup or a push-up bra ever could! 
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21.   Encourage a healthy relationship with food.  Eat to live vs. live to eat.  Explore ways to
cope with difficult emotions or situations instead of turning to food.
22.   Teach her how to be aware of her environment and how to read other people.  If she
feels something is unsafe or fishy, encourage her to follow her gut.  Encourage her to find ways
to strengthen her abilities to protect herself, both physically and emotionally, and how to make
smart choices in an unsafe world (for example…going out on the town with friends, letting
people know where you’re going, avoiding being compromised by substances, etc.).  Educate her
on domestic violence and emotional abuse. 
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23.   From an early age, help her understand that her life story has been written by God and has already begun and is full of love, passion, and adventure.  Challenge the notion that her life doesn’t truly begin until she has found “the man”.  She is not a damsel in distress waiting for her prince charming. 

24.   Expose her to strong women, both through experiences with strong women in her family and examples from her family history.  Seek out the stories of other women throughout history that are worthy of emulating.  A great resource for a jumping off point is:

25.   Teach her creative ways to bring beauty, grace, hope, and peace into all environments she comes into.  Some women are gifted at making the physical environment around them beautiful.  Other women bring hope, grace, and peace into situations through the mere presence of their beautiful souls.  

Want more resources? Check out a GREAT blog posting I found that has a HUGE list of resources for Moms of Girls…Resources for Parenting Girls

Five Steps Forward, Four Steps Back

“Every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives, is the perfect preparation for a future only He can see.”  –Corrie Ten Boom

Until the past few weeks, Evan’s been eating like a rockstar!  For much of March, April, May, and June, he was consuming more food and drink than he ever had before!  There were little to no refusals or throwing up.  He was even demonstrating the ability to keep himself from vomiting if his gag reflex was triggered. I was amazed!  And his weight continued to increase (he hit 25 lbs at one point) and he was doing a GREAT job exploring the land of soft solids (see below for soft solid ideas).  Additionally, Evan was medication-free, which was amazing as he’s always seemed to be on something.  I was thrilled! 

Examples of Soft Solids:

Cut up Strawberries


Blueberries (the skin was too much for Evan)

Hotdogs (de-skinned)

Mac & Cheese (one piece at a time)

Other cooked noodles



Eggs (hard boiled, cut up or little pieces of scrambled egg)

French fries (small pieces)

Breakfast potatoes


Canned Fruits or Veggies

Gerber Veggie & Fruit Pick-ups (these are very soft and bite sized.  Various types: apples, carrots, peaches)

Cooked Cauliflower

Small pieces of pizza (pieces that have sauce and cheese, no meat, no crust)

Then in mid-June, there was a major regression.  Evan went from eating a full meal in 10-15 minutes to taking over an hour to eat the same amount.  He started to spit food out again and vomiting resumed too.  Initially we thought that this was solely behavioral, a response to Ryan and me going out of town and Evan staying with extended family.  We just needed to get back into our structure and schedule.  Pretty soon, both Ryan and I wondered if more was going on than just behaviors.  Evan seemed to be overly sensitive to food volume again and at times seemed to vomit in a way that it seemed like he had little control over it.  He also was complaining of feeling nauseous. 

My first thought was to touch base with our feeding therapist.  She recommended taking several steps backwards in how we were feeding Evan.  Going back and reinforcing his meals a little at a time vs. reinforcing the entire meal.  And going back to old exercises to help Evan’s gag reflex and chewing abilities.  These tips helped.  I think for some reason, even though Evan’s pattern in the past was to take three steps forward, two steps back, because of all the success in recent months, I hadn’t thought about him regressing this significantly!  Having to take not just one step but multiple steps back was frustrating. 

We also got in touch with our GI doctor.  She recommended that Evan resume his acid reflux medication and that we have an upper GI study done.  She wondered out loud whether Evan could have a hernia or something else bothering him.  He seemed to be in pain when she’d press on the upper part of his stomach and that would explain why Evan’s struggles seemed to ebb and flow.  The upper GI study was not a new recommendation.  She had mentioned it six to eight months ago but it didn’t seem necessary at the time because Evan was progressing well and didn’t seem to be in any physical discomfort.  And because Evan would need to drink Barium (a thick liquid—something that would likely be difficult for Evan), we felt that if it wasn’t absolutely necessary, why do it.  Now she told us that if he couldn’t drink the Barium, they could put it into his stomach via a feeding tube.  So back to medical tests.  It’s one of those situations where you don’t know whether to hope they find something because it will help things make sense or if you want to hope and pray that the results show everything is normal. 

So we’ve taken five steps forward and four steps back.  Its hard to not get frustrated.  I’m trying to focus on the positive, how much weight Evan’s gained, the new skills he has, etc. but it’s difficult to still be addressing the same issues we thought we had overcome.  Especially the vomiting.   

Makenna is now a year old and is eating table food.  It is so amazing to watch her eat…how intuitive or instinctual the process can be for most children, but also how difficult it is for her brother.  It’s hard not to compare the two when they eat because they’re right next to each other!  The awesome thing is that Evan gets interested in what Makenna’s eating and is willing to try the foods she is eating that he’d normally wrinkle his nose at. J  Can’t wait to see what the next few months hold as we start working intensively with our feeding therapist again and learn the results of the upper GI scan. 

I came across an EXCELLENT handout online that shows the oral motor developmental skill progression (by Megan-Lynette Richmond, CCC-SLP).  For anyone that would like more information about the developmental progression, here’s the link:

Also listed below is the Food Texture Progression.  Evan can eat some soft solids (we just need the amount to increase significantly) and occasionally eats some crunchy solids so we’re further down on the list than we originally were! 

Food Texture Progression:

·        Liquids

·        Purees

·        Soft solids

·        Crunchy solids (toast, pizza, bagels)

·        Sandwiches

·        Mixed texture (casserole, soups)

What Next in Feeding Therapy?

·        Continue to strengthen chewing skills

·        Continue weight gain (he should be at least 28 lbs.—this goal now seems attainable!)

·        Continue to introduce and increase soft solids

·        Decrease/eliminate refusal skills and vomiting

·        Decrease/eliminate use of super-structured techniques (such as using timer and DVD
       during meals)

·        Eventually increase solids (all types) and decrease purees

·        Eventually decrease and then eliminate use of calorie-increasing supplements (Carnation  
       Instant Breakfast and DuoCal)

·        Evan will consistently feed himself and drink using a cup

·        Evan will be able to use his self-feeding skills in other environments

Looking at these lists is honestly overwhelming.  I need to remind myself to take it one day at a time.  The following verse is a great reminder:

“Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”  Matthew 6:34

Flying with Babies or Children

When I was a new mother, I was apprehensive about flying with Evan, especially because my first flight would be just me and him, Ryan would not be traveling with us. I googled “flying with a baby” and didn’t come up with much useful information besides “make sure your baby is breastfed or bottle-fed during take off and landing so the pressure doesn’t hurt their ears.” I was disappointed because I wanted more tips on how to be best prepared for air travel with a child. I wanted a lot of “tools in my toolbox” to be able to use to keep him from crying the whole flight and to keep him occupied. I wanted to be over-prepared. I didn’t want to be one of “those people”…the people that other passengers roll their eyes at…the ones whose children ruin an otherwise peaceful flight!

Evan has successfully flown many a time now, including down to Mexico! And Makenna has flown twice in her short lifetime. Over the past few years, I’ve asked a myriad of other mothers their advice about how to make flying with little ones manageable or less stressful. I’ve gotten GREAT tips (thanks Mom, Shelly Estevez, and Kate Veatch to name a few). Here’s what I’ve gleaned so far:


    • A fully stocked diaper bag which includes at the minimum: several diapers, a changing mat, pacifiers, wipes, and a change of clothing for each child traveling with you.
    • Food/drink—make sure to have enough formula, breastmilk, babyfood or snacks to keep your children satisfied. Security is usually good about sealed baby beverages and unopened baby food. If the liquid is not sealed (i.e. breastmilk or an already made bottle), you may have to have an additional security test done on it, but it is brief. I’ve found that Enfamils ready-to-go powder packets are PERFECT for flying. It’s got the right amount of formula in a small packet so all you have to do is add it to four ounces of water. No measuring, no transporting a large container of formula, and you can wait until you’re through security to prepare it (avoiding the extra hassle)…
  • Comfort Items–If you’re traveling with a baby six months or younger, bring a blanket they can snuggle into. At any age, if they have a special toy that comforts them, bring it along too.
  • Front Carrier–If your baby likes to move around (usually six months and older), a friend suggested having them sit on your lap using a front carrier. That way you can have your hands free at times and you know they won’t fall off your lap when you’re moving things around. I didn’t get this advice until after my last trip with Makenna and she was such a wiggle-worm, it would have helped, A LOT.
  • Strollers that have a click-in car seat are AWESOME for airports. This is dual-purpose. You can use it to transport not only your child, but also the diaper bag and anything else going on the plane with you. And if your baby/child is riding on your lap, it allows you to double check right before boarding that there aren’t any (free) extra seats to put your car seat on (we’ve had the best flights when our children had their own seats next to us). Worst case scenario, there are no extra seats available and you gate check both items (free).
  • Books—especially “interactive” ones (flip books, books that have textures or moving parts)
  • Technology—some parents swear by using their iphones to entertain their kids, others LOVE that there are TVs available for a child to watch during flight. Use whatever you can to keep your child occupied!
  • Something new: some friends and family have recommended buying cheap, little toys for kids to play with on the plane. The novelty of them can keep them occupied longer than toys they are used to playing with. Also, some parents purchase special treats for their children that they only get when traveling.
  • Plastic Bags–Airlines expect parents of young children/babies to “pack out” their dirty diapers. I didn’t know this, but they don’t want people throwing away stinky diapers in their tiny bathrooms! I guess this makes sense. I found this out after the fact when a flight attendant educated me that we’re supposed to bring plastic bags and after we’ve changed our child, take the dirty diaper with us. So—bring a few plastic bags in case you have a diaper change mid-flight.
  • Window Decals/Stickers–My friend, Kate, recommended getting decal/window stickers because your child can stick them on the window and/or tray and they come right off.
  • Other Activities Your Child Will Like–Recently, I’ve found other activities that can easily be used on a plane on Pinterest.  Evan has loved these laminated pages he can put stickers on (the idea was found on

These will definitely be coming with us on our next flight.  For now I’ve just done Evan’s name–four letters, two per sheet of laminated paper. 

Since Evan LOVES buckles, I’m also planning on making him this buckle toy, also found on Pinterest (see below for the link for instructions).   This is a must have for us as it won’t take up much space, is easily transportable, and it will keep him occupied indefinitely, whether in the car or on a plane.  There are also websites for other activities in “busy bags” that sound like they’d be useful on planes.  I still need to explore those ideas.


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  • Toddler car seat—once your child is two years old, they are no longer allowed to ride on your lap for free. You’re expected to buy them their own seat. If your child LOVES undoing buckles, it’ll be worth it to lug your toddler car seat through the airport as the buckle on the plane is very easy to take off. Plus, there’s just something comforting for them about being in their own chair when doing something out of the norm.
    • Consider your child’s temperament. Some people swear by traveling when their child normally sleeps, others had horror stories doing that. My children don’t tend to sleep well if they’re not at home, so we did not try to book our flights during their nap or bedtimes. If your baby or child can sleep anywhere, maybe that strategy could work for you. 
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you’re traveling alone. I’ve found many people are more than willing to help a parent traveling alone with kids and will extend a hand before I’ve even had to ask. Places you’ll likely need help are going thru security (putting your stroller and/or carseat on the conveyor belt), and when getting situated on the plane. And both of my kids have LOVED being entertained by the people sitting near us on the plane…some fellow passengers have been the key to having a meltdown-free trip!
  • Consult a professional if necessarySome people have mentioned that they have used Benadrylto calm their children for flying. We haven’t seen Evan get tired from allergy medicine so it’s not something we’ve used to calm him before traveling. Check with your pediatrician if you think this is something you want to try. Warning, some kids get tired on Benadryl, others get very hyper. This is not a cure-all and should not be attempted without medical oversight.
  • Get creative. Sometimes non-toy toys are the best! My kids have loved playing with the plastic cup I got water in mid-flight, a straw wrapper, the Enfamil“packet”, etc.


    • This too shall pass.” Even if you have a rough flight, it won’t last forever! This mantra has gotten me through flights when my children were loud or upset!
    • Most people on flights have had their own children. Even though a loud child or crying baby can be irritating, the flight will come to an end eventually. Plus, you’ll give both yourself and the other passengers a story to tell afterwards!
  • One of my co-workers told me something that has helped me fly with children ever since: “People on planes tend to give grace to parents with little kids as long as they can see you’re trying your best.”

Would love to hear from you.  What tips would you give parents who are flying with babies or little children?

This had nothing to do with flying, but I wanted to add it…just because!

Croissants, Eggrolls, & Dr. Sears, Oh My!

This past year I’ve had the pleasure of reading two really good books:  Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua and Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman.  These books beautifully combine two of my passions: parenting philosophy and cultures different from my own.   

What have I learned about French and Chinese parenting?  I’m going to try to briefly summarize both books below, but to get a true, more thorough feel for either of these perspectives, please pick up a copy of the books at a bookstore (or library) near you!  My summary in no way does either book justice! 

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Motherby Amy Chua

I initially heard about this book when reading a review of it in Time Magazine. Some of what had been mentioned made me wonder if I would connect with this author at all.  For example, she called one of her daughters “garbage” and rejected homemade birthday cards from both daughters as not good enough.  The parenting relationship also seemed to have an element of shame and conditional love, which I reacted strongly too. 

When I finally picked up this book, it ended up being an enjoyable experience which made me think more about how we in the US raise our children and whether we do have too low of standards at times for our children. I still disagree with some choices this author made with her children but respect her willingness to put them out there, providing an opportunity for dialogue about parenting styles in different cultures.  

Amy Chua also wrote “World on Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability,” another excellent book, about an entirely different issue. Her ability to write about a variety of different issues was inspiring.

“Un pan chocolate” (one of the only
French sayings Heidi and I could say
well when in Paris!)

Bringing Up Bebe: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting by Pamela Druckerman

Druckerman’s book focuses on being an American who gets pregnant and raises her daughter while living in Paris, France.   From the expectations about a woman’s weight gain during pregnancy to how to get a baby to sleep and eat well, there were glaring differences between the American culture and French culture.  When she started to look into the issues more in depth, her French friends were unable to explain how they did certain things because it seemed like common sense and the only way of doing things. 

Ms. Druckerman delved into the history of childcare in France, the famous child experts’ writings, and spoke with French pediatricians to tease out how they do what they do.  I was impressed that most French babies are sleeping through the night by three months and there is rarely a finicky eater in the bunch!  Having a child who has struggled to meet our American developmental milestones, I also appreciated that the French focus more on kids doing things at their own pace and on discovery and experience, rather than beating peers to each milestone.  Druckerman also felt that French women seemed to balance being a mother with other aspects of a female’s life more than their American counterparts and that they managed guilt better.  This was a fascinating book and I’d recommend it to anyone interested in looking more deeply at why we parent like we do and how others do it differently!  Druckerman also has another book out that I’d like to read called: “Lust in Translation: Infidelity from Toyko to Tennessee.”

Both books have really helped me ponder my own parenting philosophy and how our American culture has impacted it.  I like how both perspectives focus on what kind of people they want their children to become in the future and base their decisions about parenting on those goals. 

Specifically, about Chinese parenting, I appreciated that she had high expectations for her children and remained future focused when making decisions in the present.  Many times, we rise to the level of expectations put on us.  How often do we set too low of expectations here in the US and get mediocrity?  I’d love to have high but realistic expectations of my children, but also have unconditional love in the mix. 

Regarding the French style of parenting, I really liked how they focused on teaching children to tolerate frustration from a very early age.  This is a crucial skill that many kids and teenagers in our culture lack.  This ability helps one be able to manage emotions well, delay gratification, and make good choices (as well as decreases the likelihood of substance abuse or anger management issues).   I also appreciated how while French parents remain attentive and invested in their children, their children also learn from a young age that the world doesn’t revolve around them.  I’ve seen too many an American child who is the king or queen of his or her household with disastrous results.

How have these books helped me as I continue to formulate how I parent my children?

·         They make me wonder why I do some of the things I do as a mother.  Is it a cultural thing or is it really the best for me and my children?

·         When am I parenting with the best for my children in mind and when am I making a choice because it’s easier for me or because of my own emotions or needs? 

·         Do I have too low of expectations for my children?  If so, what should my expectations be?

·         How do I show my children that they are treasured and delighted in while at the same time teaching them that the world does not revolve around them?