December 31, 2009

Happy New Year's Eve: The "Better Full Than Empty" Edition

We spent the day in Chicago at the Shedd Aquarium (thanks to generous all-access passes given to me by the Shedd).

Chicago kids

I'm super glad I snapped this photo before we went inside because I didn't end up really taking much more.

We were planning to attend the family fireworks at Navy Pier that would be going on right about now. But as we were leaving the aquarium, my elderly 4-year-old complained of arthritis in his knee (or he bumped it or something) and the older boys wanted to go home and Ivy promptly fell asleep as soon as we strapped her in the car seat.

SO, instead of dishing out another $20 for parking and then bearing the cold cold COLD, we pointed our car homeward.

And here we are.

I've got to make this quick- ice cream sundaes with ALL the fixins are up next, and then Pop Rocks for everyone before bed, to ring in the New Year together as a family.

Chicago New Year's Eve 2009

I longingly said goodbye to the city as we headed home. The lights, the snow falling ever so gently, it was all picture perfect.

Another time, another me would have ran to it with open arms. But this time, this me, her arms are already full.

Family of Six

Happy happy happy New Year, friends.

Subscribe to my blog here
Twitter me- I'm babysteph

December 28, 2009

Co-SLEEP! Glorious co-SLEEP! Uh, not really.

Family bed, bed sharing, co-sleeping,

whatever you want to call it: Ivy (15 months) sleeps with me, has slept with me since the day she was born, and will continue to sleep with me for a while, and I honestly wouldn't have it any other way.

[Except when she won't sleep.]

Often bedtime is the only time I finally get a moment to myself. I admit, many days I can't WAIT for the kids to go to bed.

Like, for real, sometimes it's what I look forward to all day.

Until now, it was going pretty well. We have a routine bed time, we try to stay consistent as much as we can. Naps are no problem. Easy peasy.

It's night time that is the struggle. (and I even tried cutting out a nap and it still didn't help.)

I usually nurse her to sleep, or if I can tell she's especially tired, I'll lay her down and quietly let her know it's time for night-night. I put the video monitor by her and leave the room. Most of the time she drifts right off to sleep.

But lately, like the past week or so- maybe it's the holiday, maybe it's a growth spurt, maybe the moon is in its second house- WHO KNOWS- but she will NOT go to sleep, she won't even close her EYES!

(The past few nights) and last night I tried several times to put her to sleep, and she'd only cry or get down from the bed. Hubby tried. Several times. I eventually tried again, nursing her- she yawned, she was so tired, but her eyes remained open for at least an hour. So many times I was just SURE she was asleep and I looked down and there she was wide eyed looking at me or just off into space.

Sometimes she'll pop up and want to sing Itsy Bitsy Spider over and over (with hand motions) (it's so cute I might forget how much I want her to sleep and then I remember.)

I just lie there, no TV, no phone, nothing. Just trying to get her to sleep. Last night I was starting to lose my patience, and felt stressed out watching the clock go by in minutes, hours. My ME time and husband time wasting away.

I will NOT let her cry. It's not an option. I have my reasons.

Of course, I understand if she fusses a little or protests, but a real heart cry? Or calling for Mama needing me, or afraid? I can't-and will not- do it.


[You'd think by baby number 4 I'd have it all figured out but ohhhhh you are wrong, my friend.]

It's frustrating and exhausting, but I am 100% committed to my choice to parent this way. Choosing to co-sleep (or hahaha co-not-sleep) really does work for us- I never said it was perfect.

Eventually she falls asleep, and she stays asleep until morning.

I love her. It's worth it. I know I'm doing my best, and I'm wondering if I could do better.

Truth is, every child is different, and each child can change awake/sleep patterns while they are growing. It's an individual thing.

So it's not like you can fix my problem.

And many times it's because she's a really light sleeper. I'll finally get her to sleep and one of the boys will get up to go to the bathroom or come tell me how the wind is breathing too hard or someone will be too loud getting ice out of the fridge and she wakes up like it's time to start her day.

Maybe it's a fluke? (Shhh nobody move- she's actually asleep tonight.)

It helps to talk this out. It helps to explain WHY I'M SO TIRED.

This is a season, and it won't be like this forever. (Right?) Am I all alone here? (I can't imagine I am...)

But in the meantime, while I'm in the midst of it, maybe I'm seeking kind, gentle no-cry/no-crib suggestions, oh wise ones?

Or just some co-sleeping co-mmiserating? :)

Subscribe to my blog here
Twitter me- I'm babysteph

December 27, 2009

And that's what little girls are made of.

sweet ivy

It's true.


She is all sugar & spice and everything nice.

More than I could have ever imagined.

See also: So that's what little boys are made of.

Subscribe to my blog here
Twitter me- I'm babysteph

December 26, 2009

Babywearing during the holidays

babywearing on christmas

I'm thankful for babywearing while we celebrate Christmas at family & friend's homes. It's a guaranteed safe place, nap, and comfort for baby. And me.

Subscribe to my blog here
Twitter me- I'm babysteph

December 25, 2009

all the riches baby

The boys set out cookies for Santa, and a cup of [rice milk], on the bench below their stockings. Gray insisted on leaving two baby carrots on the rug by the front door. "One for Rudolph and one for Prancer."

Hubby and I started the gift wrapping process, being sure to use different paper for Santa presents separate from ours.It was confusing and complicated. And I started to wonder how much longer we'll keep up these shenanigans because HOW ANNOYING is it that Santa gets credit for all these presents that WE BOUGHT [with love]??

Not cool.

So it was approaching midnight (Santa & Mrs. Claus did some cuddling and might have played some Wii bowling before starting on the presents) and we hear Ivy waking up, seeing on the video monitor that she is actually getting down from the bed.

[totally not meant to look like a Sears portrait studio photo. weird.]

She makes her way down, coming to find us. I scoop her up and go to nurse her back to sleep and she is EATING THE REINDEER CARROTS. Two baby carrots clutched in her hands like prized possessions.

I let her munch on them a bit and then threw her leftovers back on the rug so that it looked like the reindeer ate them (a 15 month old baby will not remember this, right?)


I set her down by her dollhouse while I ran upstairs to get a diaper. When I came down the stairs she was finishing off Santa's milk! Oh that turkey. She is so lucky she's cute.

Because she didn't even get close to falling asleep until after 1 in the a.m. and I was EXHAUSTED. When the boys woke me up (after 8) I felt like I had just fallen asleep.

[for the longest time this morning (it was like heaven) Ivy sat behind the curtains playing quietly with a block and a pen.]

Christmas was perfect. Gray was thrilled to see the reindeer liked his carrots They've been nibbled on!

I stayed in my pjs the whole day. I should have taken more pictures, but didn't. I have no regrets.


I'd be embarrassed if you were to see my bank account, but somedays, like right now, I feel like the richest woman in the world.

Subscribe to my blog here
Twitter me- I'm babysteph

We wish you a

Merry Christmas

And holy WOW are we blessed.

Or is it the baby Jesus glow?

[card by TinyPrints]

December 24, 2009

Or is it the baby Jesus glow?

Every day I've been prompting the boys to share what they know about the Real Story of Christmas.

there's really a cookie under there.

As we suffocated decorated sugar cookies with sprinkles and icing, we talked.

He was born in a cabin, right?

Or was it like on a farm?

Sugar cookies.

I explain about the "hotel" not having any room for them. And it boggles my mind. The Prince of Peace...? They couldn't even make room for a baby about to be born... that was the KING?

Even reality show tv stars would be treated better. Or surely someone else would give up their room for a laboring woman, for Him?

Instead He gave up His own for those who shut their doors. For us. For me.

Stairs to see Santa.
[a visit with Santa- who's just a guy-
they know what Christmas is really about.]

I've had a home birth, and thinking about it I imagine it would be quite the birth experience to have animals all around as I labor.

They were probably being super nosy, wondering
what is up.

But, I reckon it was beautiful. With the shining stars in the sky, shelter still provided- while not lavish or medically equipped- nature happened. A miracle happened. Many, many, many, many years ago.

I have FOUR kids.
[the usual.]

I nurse my baby on Christmas Eve, thinking of a newborn Jesus. And the sacrifice God made for people that would hate him, and a people that would try to love him, but would always be hurting Him and failing Him. And would I ever be able to fathom it? My baby?

I hold Ivy tighter and am thankful I don't have to make that choice. And as a Mother, I understand it completely.

Merry Christmas.


December 23, 2009

Babywearing 103 Stories High

I'm busying myself in the kitchen preparing for Christmas eve dinner here tomorrow. I'm about to roll out the sugar cookie dough and let the kids go wild with sprinkles.

The day has been up and down and up for me. Hubby will be late again, but that gives me more time to clean up before he gets home.

Oh, holidays.

The Skydeck people sent over some photos from our trip up the Willis (Sears) Tower on Monday. I think it's so funny how many of you are woozy at the thought of that ledge. I didn't really think about it!

babywearing 103 stories high AHHH!

But now I find myself having a talk with the boys, reminding them that they should never walk out the windows of any other tall buildings.

boys jumping off the Sears Tower

P.S. I love Chicago so much.

Thanks, Kim for inviting us to the #skydecktweet meet-up, and the SkyDeck peeps for our complimentary photos & admission to the SkyDeck.

Subscribe to my blog here
Twitter me- I'm babysteph

December 22, 2009

So that's what little boys are made of.

chicago high

We drove into Chicago yesterday and visited the Willis Tower (aka the tower formerly known as Sears).

[The boys in the glass box ledge that makes you feel like you are WALKING OFF THE TALLEST BUILDING IN THE WORLD.]

Is it the tallest building in the world? I think it used to be. You'd think I'd know this after I just went there.

ivy on the ledge

Ivy's not dumb. She got down on her bum and scooted when she saw that city through the glass one-hundred-and-three stories below. I had to throw my lens cap out there to get her onto the ledge so the photographer could take a picture. She didn't go for that.

[I'm working on the pigtail thing. I feel broken as a Mom to a daughter. It's still sinking in. For real? I get to do this? Now what?]

(P.S. I love every second of it.)

(P.P.S. Omygosh isn't she the cutest thing ever??)

[My boys.]

On the way home Carter asks, "Why do I smell pumpkins?!"

In the sweetest, tiniest voice Gray sings, "I tooted."

Thanks, Kim for inviting us to the #skydecktweet meet-up!

Subscribe to my blog here
Twitter me- I'm babysteph

December 21, 2009

it's beginning to look a lot.

Every morning I tell Gray You got bigger while you slept! And he beams and asks am I six yet? And I say no, you're still four.

getting ready for Christmas

I am completely finished with my Christmas shopping and wrapping, and even what will go in the stockings. [It helps to have a lighter Christmas = less things to buy & wrap. Oh, but even so, my family is going to have an awesome Christmas.]

I also finished the blanket I was knitting for Beth's sister Sarah (who should be having her baby today!** He's here!! )

knit baby blanket

Ivy was sick all weekend long and the only thing that made her feel better was to be held. Even while she slept. [Especially while she slept.] Brother Noah was happy to help out. He rocked her to sleep a couple times.

noah rocks ivy to sleep.

Sometimes I ask Carter how did you get to be so cute? and he EATS IT UP and says I don't know, I just am!
Or other times he tries to think up ways he is so cute and then that's just even cuter.
The kids are home for two weeks on Christmas break and I'm so happy. I love having them here with me. Today we're planning on a trip up to the city. It's been snowing here, too! I hope I can get some good photos.

And I hope you're having a wonderful holiday.

Subscribe to my blog here
Twitter me- I'm babysteph

December 19, 2009

My heart skips a beat

One of my favorite things to do while nursing Ivy (which is still a lot) is to check Twitter and read blogs on my iPhone. Sometimes she falls asleep and I have to wait a spell until I can de-latch, if you know what I mean.

I enjoy those quiet moments to sometimes close my eyes, or read.

When I check my bloglines there are many blogs that make my stomach flutter a bit when I see they have a new post.

Here are a few of those blogs:

So Fawned
it's your movie
Hope 4 Peyton
NieNie Dialogues
Girl's Gone Child
Walk Slowly, Live Wildly

One last thing: Have you heard?

Blissdom Conference ~ Nashville ~ February 4-6 2010

[I'm taking a little break this week, so comments are closed. But please visit the sites I've linked to and feel free to leave me a comment on previous posts or email if you need to reach me.]

Subscribe to my blog here
Twitter me- I'm babysteph

December 18, 2009

The Gift of Nothing

I am sharing about having a simple Christmas at my friend Christine's site Boston Mamas. I hope you'll take a moment to read my post: Nothing and Everything.

(I mention some of the Christmas gifts we're giving thi
s year) and also my new favorite book.

One last thing: In these tough times, a kind word can mean more than anything you could buy with money. Compliment a stranger's shoes or pretty coat today. Tip a little bigger if you can, give someone a smile, a kind eye, let someone cut in front of you in line. I don't know, something random. You'll think of something, I'm sure. I will, too.

[I'm taking a little break this week, so comments are closed. But please visit the sites I've linked to and feel free to leave me a comment on previous posts or email if you need to reach me.]

Subscribe to my blog here
Twitter me- I'm babysteph

December 17, 2009

Shine on.

I have written a post at the Christmas Change blog today: No, I'm gonna let it shine.

Please let me know you stopped by (it would mean so much), and if you would like to write a post, too, you can link up right there in the Christmas Change sidebar.

One last thing: I'm not sure if you know this about me, but my oldest son Noah had uncontrollable seizures when he was just 2 years old. My lovelier than lovely Sister-In-Law Lisa has her own podcast series- Pink Floats, and she recently had me as a guest on her show to share about Noah's story, my story of faith during that time of his epilepsy and alternative treatment of the Ketogenic Diet. It's not often I share it out loud. You can hear it here- listen to Don't Give Up PT2.

[I'm taking a little break this week, so comments are closed. But please visit the sites I've linked to and feel free to leave me a comment on previous posts or email if you need to reach me.]

Subscribe to my blog here
Twitter me- I'm babysteph

December 16, 2009

Nie Nie's story

If you have a moment (right now would be perfect) grab a BIG cup of coffee or whatever your feel-good drink is, get comfortable, and read Jamiee Rose's feature of Stephanie Nielson of the NieNie Dialogues. I don't care if you saw her on Oprah. This is a million times better.

You will need tissues. And you will need to read Part 1 and Part 2, every chapter:

Part 1
Chapter 1: The crash
Chapter 2: Surgeries and prayers
Chapter 3: She wakes
Chapter 4: In the mirror

Part 2
Chapter 5: The children visit
Chapter 6: Coming home
Chapter 7: A familiar voice
Chapter 8: A new promise
Chapter 9: Heavenly fire
Chapter 10: Perspective and peace

One last thing:
Do you do something special with your child that is unique to just you two? If you have several children, do you do something that is special for each one? Even if it's a different way to say I love you or give smooches on a nose or an ear that sets each child apart... do you do something that is "your thing" that they will always remember and know you by? I'm thinking about the importance of this today.

[I'm taking a little break this week, so comments are closed. But please visit the sites I've linked to and feel free to leave me a comment on previous posts or email if you need to reach me.]

Subscribe to my blog here
Twitter me- I'm babysteph

Christmas Cookies

I'm baking Christmas cookies again today. This time for a cookie exchange with friends and for freezing until our family's big Christmas Eve celebration at my house.

Today I'm making Chai Birch Logs, Peppermint Meltaways, and Mint Chocolate Truffles. (Yes, those are actually the cookies I made- I took those photos!)

One last thing:
When was the last time you invited someone into your home? Even though it was a little (or a lot) messy? It's nice having people over. I always think my house is too small (it is small) but it's still my home and no matter the size, it's inviting and cozy. Looking at all these cookies and my coffee pot and dark chocolate raspberry hot cocoa, I need to invite people over more.

[I'm taking a little break this week, so comments are closed. But please visit the sites I've linked to and feel free to comment on old posts or email if you need to reach me.]

Subscribe to my blog
Twitter me- I'm babysteph

December 14, 2009

My Interview at Sakura Bloom

I've been interviewed by Sakura Bloom! You can see some of my favorite babywearing photos and what I've said about blogging and babywearing- Adventures In Babywearing: Stephanie and Ivy.

One last thing: I love writing letters. When's the last time you sent a note, a post card, a handwritten message in the mail to someone other than for a birthday or holiday or thank you? For just because? I am doing this today. I hope it brings cheer and brightness.

[I'm taking a little break this week, so comments are closed. But please visit the site I've linked to and feel free to comment on old posts or email if you need to reach me.]

Subscribe to my blog here
Twitter me- I'm babysteph


We went to that spaghetti dinner on Saturday night and I wanted to give you an update. Over $12,000 was raised for James and his family. The turn out was amazing. I had a very hard time holding back the tears. So happy the family is getting so much support, so sad that James has to be sick, and so thankful for our many many blessings.

Another friend of mine is reaching out to help a family in her homeschool group. Shelby Grace is a little girl with leukemia and as you can imagine, she and those that love her are having a very hard time. Happi opened up a Usbourne Books e-show in Shelby's name where 100% of her commission will go to the family, and any purchases will earn free books for Shelby and her siblings.

You can order until 12/31 but if you want your books in time for Christmas, you'll need to place your order no later than tomorrow, 12/15.

One last thing: When was the last time you bent down and looked into your child's eyes and really looked into your child's eyes? While they speak to you. While you speak to them? While you are both quiet. I'm willing my heart to remember to do this always.

[I'm taking a little break this week, so comments are closed. But please visit the sites I've linked to and feel free to comment on old posts or email if you need to reach me.]

Subscribe to my blog here
Twitter me- I'm babysteph

December 13, 2009

The grey, the claw at the sky.

Today I drove into the city with Ivy and Grayson to visit friends. It was very dreary. The sky's sleepy lids heavy with fatigue. So grey, almost smokey white. And the crackle-y trees with their claws and teeth bared. Their darkness against the color-less backdrop. Was quite lovely.

I would have taken a picture, but you can just imagine it instead. [I was driving and had precious cargo.]

 a walk

On our way home it was night and Gray marveled at the Christmas lights (a neon shirt and tie in a dry cleaner's window, a glowing hamburger in a diner). Any lights this time of year are Christmas lights to little him.

green coat pink boots

The city has a mouthful of buildings as tall as the clouds and thousands of sparkly scales were lit as we drove by. Through shiny tunnels and steel bridges and long, long roads taking us back to our warm, colorful home.


Subscribe to my blog here
Twitter me- I'm babysteph

December 12, 2009

It doesn't have to make sense to be awesome.

gray day

Today we did everything together as a family. We haven't had a day like this in a long time.

ivy & the barre

It was busy, and we went a lot of places, but we did it all together. And I liked it.

Christmas lights, ice skaters.

Tonight we drove around looking at Christmas lights.

Christmas lights, wizardy.

You might not know this about me yet, but I love when things don't make sense. Like this Santa/wizard Christmas light display. Awesome.

Christmas lights. Dinosaur Christmas.

There's a lot going on in this picture. Love the dinosaur. So Christmas. For real.

This gets me.

Subscribe to my blog here
Twitter me- I'm babysteph

December 11, 2009

all is calm.

when did she grow up?

There hasn't been a moment to sit still. I made dozens and dozens and dozens of cookies and truffles for teacher gifts and finished my Christmas shopping (all online of course, mostly at etsy)

and freecycled some things and picked up some things from freecycle and I'm involved in the auction (that ends today) and finalization of the Triathlon

and a ton of other things I can't even tell you about yet and, oh, fit in being a Mom and writer so I've been staying up past 2 a.m. every night to sit at my computer and work in the fabulous quiet of my house.

2 a.m. is actually quite beautiful when everyone else is fast asleep. I'm a little addicted to it.

There's so much to be done. There's so much chaos around me.

But I feel calm.


The kids busy themselves without me while I'm elbow deep in powdered sugar. So I spy and find them doing really sweet things like playing nicely together, or making up a new game or planning a new adventure in the bunk beds

and I

realize that it's not the moments they are on display for everyone to see, like when we meet new people, when we're walking into church, or in line at the grocery store. Their behavior in those times is not a reflection of my parenting (or shortcomings as a Mother).

It's these very moments, the ones when no one is watching. When you can see right in the window to what's true in their hearts and intentions, open and wide.

I peek and I beam and stifle teary giggles

and I

burst with love.

[And I think, I'm doing okay at this. ]

This is good.

This is really good.

christmas tree

And I

[think about who's watching me.]

Subscribe to my blog here
Twitter me- I'm

December 10, 2009

Sakura Bloom Triathlon GRAND PRIZE WINNER

Um, I mean WINNERS.


Leigh of Marvelous Kiddo & Sara Sophia of tout-est-des-roses.

It was hard enough judging each of the three rounds, and THEN we had to choose only one winner out of all?

There was no other way to call it than a tie. :)

Leigh's Round One answers one, two, and three.
Sara's Round One answers one, two, and three.

Leigh & Sarah's Round Two photo entries:

Leigh's Round Three video: (Baby Mamas) Put a Sling On 'Em

Sara's Round Three video: Babywearing is Magical

Our TWO grand prize winners will EACH receive a Sakura Bloom Luxe sling of their choice, made from eco-friendly, rare, wild silk handloomed in Southeast Asia. [Retail value $540]

This Triathlon blew my mind. It started out over a little phone call with Lynne at Sakura Bloom. We struck up a friendship and chatted for HOURS. And brainstormed a little ol' idea that turned into the Sakura Bloom Triathlon.

I am so fond of each of our seven contestants in many different ways. I feel blessed and honored that they entered this contest and went with it with their full hearts.


And now a special message from Lynne at Sakura Bloom:

I want to echo everything Steph said: it has been such a joy to do this contest and get to know these seven amazing women and their families over the last two months. I wish I could meet each and every one of them in person!

So much has happened: two babies were born during the contest, one of the videos went viral, and we collectively spread the love of babywearing to family and friends around the world. Hooray!

Our congratulations to Leigh and Sara Sophia, and our heartfelt thanks to all the participants for allowing us into their lives and for touching our hearts in so many ways.

As a thank you to all of you that have followed along during the Sakura Bloom Triathlon, Sakura Bloom is offering a sample sale now live with many one-of-a-kind slings, including some of the beautiful slings seen during the Triathlon.

With admiration and gratitude,
Lynne and everyone at Sakura Bloom

Subscribe to my blog here
Twitter me- I'm

December 9, 2009

Line forms here.

[Click here to enter the Blog • Bid • Hope Auction]



Christmas Cards


stockings in a line


You Capture: Lines.

Subscribe to my blog here
Twitter me- I'm babysteph

December 8, 2009

Blog • Bid • Hope: The Auction


Welcome to Blog • Bid • Hope, an auction benefitting The Liz Logelin Foundation and Anissa Mayhew.

Please scroll down to the connected posts to see the amazing items donated for your bidding pleasure right here at Adventures In Babywearing.

Our seven host sites will each be offering a different selection of items, so be sure to visit everyone:
Buried with Children, Mayhem & Moxie, Scary Mommy, 7 Clown Circus, The Extraordinary Ordinary, Mama’s Losin’ It, & of course here at Adventures in Babywearing,

Bidding will begin at $10 and bids will increase at $2 increments.

Scroll down to the connected posts, and if you see an item you'd like to bid on, simply leave a comment on that item's post stating your price. Please be sure your comment links back to your blog, or include your email address and/or blog link in your comment.

Shipping only in the US and Canada.

Auction ends on Friday December 11 at 5 PM (PST). Winners will be notified by Monday, December 14th and can send payment via Paypal.

Thank you for your participation, and happy bidding!

Up for auction here at Adventures In Babywearing:

Red Rock Bracelet
Poppy Clips And Room Decor
Dippin' And Dancin' With Baby
Inspire A Writer
Recycled T-shirt Dresses
Nintendo DS Lite


Don't see anything you want to bid on? There are many other ways to help:

Aiming Low, a community site started by Anissa, is hosting a "Shop for Anissa Day" on December 10. Visit their site for vendors who will be donating the days proceeds to Anissa and family.

• You can also donate directly by clicking below:

For The Liz Logelin Foundation

Subscribe to my blog here
Twitter me- I'm