Friday, March 29, 2013

How to Wean a Toddler from their Precious Binky. . . (or "passie", as we always called it!)

A friend asked this on Facebook, and I realized I do have a few gems to share after raising 7 children. (Although I'll admit that the more kids I had, the more I figured out how little I actually knew!) But here's a strategy that worked for us with 5 of our kids who became somewhat "binky dependent" over those first couple of years. . . I'll tell ya though, those binkies are a lifesaver!

And I know people have concerns about teeth growing crooked and yada yada yada, but out of 7 children, only two of mine so far have been candidates for braces (One is just now completing invisalign at age 19, the second will probably start sometime this year at age 16). I have seen absolutely no correlation between teeth problems and those who used binkies or not. So that's my anecdotal evidence anyway. ;)

Fer Cute! - On My Mind BPA-free Pacifiers - Available at
"Ok moms, I wanna know... How did you take away your baby's binky? It's only been the last few months that JW has become really, REALLY attached, because of teething. Now he has his top teeth, and I want the bink to go bye, bye." - Nellie Edmonds, Utah

Jumbled Sunshine Answer:
We used a "binky leash" to pin the passie to the pillow with a safety diaper pin. Make sure it's long enough they can lay there in bed with it and short enough that they can't get it wrapped around their neck. I made my own by braiding some yarn. This way the child can only have it at naptime and bedtime. (Just be aware that a clever toddler may start carrying the pillow around the house to have their precious binky/passie along at all time, haha! We resorted to pinning the pillow to the toddler mattress with one of our kids, haha!)

It's a good compromise - the passie is still there if they really need it emotionally, but it's a little bit of a hassle for them to go find it. This way they only use it when they really really need it the most. (Usually bedtime). Although funny thing - one of our more emotional daughters would run to her bedroom whenever she was upset and lay there sucking on her passie to comfort herself, then come back out when she was happy - it worked rather well, actually. hee hee

Anyway, after a few weeks/months of this routine, when you think the child has gotten to the point to not be totally dependent on it during the day, choose an out-of-town weekend when the binky gets "accidentally" left at home on the pillow. (You can take one hidden in your bag if you are worried about your sanity on the trip, lol.) Chances are, the child will do fine all weekend long, which is the sign that they are ready to give it up.

So - when you pull into the driveway at the end of the trip, one parents runs inside and takes the passie off the pillow. The child has likely forgotten about it after a couple days "binky-free". Worked for us. . . let's see. . . five times!

Love the "snooze button" and "volume control" ones!
So true.
On My Mind BPA-free Pacifiers - Available at

The worst response we ever had was a child saying, "Where passie?" when we got home. After expressing an appropriate level of surprise that it was missing (without directly lying of course, haha), I explained to the child at her own level that since she hadn't used it all weekend, it was clear that she was a big girl now and didn't need it anymore. I offered her blanket and some hugs, and that was that!

Oh yeah, I feel like the passie master right now! :D

Have a great day all you Mommies and Daddies!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Calendaring: A Critical Skill to Master

Today I only have a few minutes due to a very crazy several weeks. . . so I'll just go over one of the most basic and important items in time management - CALENDARING! It doesn't really matter if you use a wall calendar, a pocket calendar, a phone calendar, or an online calendar. But seriously . . . if your life is even a tiny bit busy, you need to use a calendar!

"But," you may ask, "How do I use a calendar?"

To those who have been calendaring for years, this may seem like a foolish question. But honestly, when did they ever teach you how to use a calendar in school? They *had* calendars in school, but did you ever really learn the properly way to utilize a calendar to keep your life sane and on schedule? I know that I wasn't taught it in all my years of school, including obtaining a bachelor's degree in college. I learned it on my own, as I assume everyone else who knows how to use a calendar does.

As a Freshman in college I realized there was no possible way to keep track of everything I needed to do unless I had a calendar/planner. My first "real" calendar (as in, one that I actually used consistently), was a simple little notebook with 7 days across a 2-page spread like this:

Here's how I used it: I simply wrote down assignments on the day they were due. So it would say, for instance: "DUE: Read Psych Ch 1". For each class, I would take the syllabus for the entire semester and write all assignments into the planner on the day they needed to be handed in. Then I would take large projects and break them down into smaller tasks, and lists those throughout the semester so they would be done on time. These can be marked with (parentheses) so that you know they are "optionally" due that day. This way, every day I could look ahead at the whole week and make sure I was doing all the homework I needed to have done for the next few days. I could also pencil in all the social activities, work schedule, and more, that needed to be listed for that particular week. It worked out really well for me as a student.

Once I became a mother and homemaker, I found that it was critical to have a wall calendar that everyone can see in a central location. Everyone's schedules have to go on it. We've used a wall calendar for the family for over 20 years, and here's a picture of the one we are currently using: 
This is the "Big Grid 2013 Wall Calendar" from Click on the picture to go to the full details online. They have it on sale for less than $4 right now since it's already March. So - good time to buy!

Anyway - It doesn't really matter what kind of calendar you use, as long as there is enough space in the little boxes for what your family has going on during an average day. I like this "Big Grid" calendar because it expands over the whole fold-out instead of taking up half the space with a picture. Don't get me wrong, I love picture calendars, but the squares are WAY too small. So I may hang blank pretty calendars around the house just to see what day it is, but we only put the schedule on our main kitchen calendar. You can get this "Big Grid" calendar at THIS LINK or click on the image above. 

Ideally, with a calendar like this being used by the family, you are going to only put your SCHEDULED EVENTS on it. Don't put "to-do's" or "job charts" on it, it will get too cluttered. Just list all appointments and other scheduled things that have to be done on a certain day. So, for instance, when you get the soccer schedule, put all the games and practices on the calendar. When you have a doctor appointment, write it on the calendar. If you always have a date with your husband on a certain night, put it on the calendar (use pencil if it's an activity that could be rescheduled if needed.) When you have someone ask you to do something for them such as babysit, or bring food to an activity, write it on the calendar! If you are not by your calendar, then you have to have a notebook or some kind of task app on your phone that you are committed to recording when you get home. (If you go electronic, it's helpful to put a little reminder on the phone so it will beep you when you are at home and remind you to put it on the family calendar). Either that, or ask the person call you back when you are at home in front of your calendar before you commit! This works wonders for just keeping track of those basic things that are on the schedule that you don't want to forget.

What I do right now for my calendaring system, is two-fold: I have the wall calendar for the family items, and I use a Google calendar online that happens to also sync automatically with my phone. This way, I have my own personal basic schedule always in front of me no matter where I go. Ideally, each week I take everything that's on the family calendar and enter it into my Google calendar, and vice versa. I say ideally because it doesn't always happen. I admit it! But it still greatly simplifies my life, because it's not too big of a deal if I have to check in two places. 

Once upon a time, I thought it might work better if *everyone* in the family had a Google calendar, thinking that this would replace the wall calendar. Honestly, it was a total failure because everyone in the family was sharing one or two computers. So when that phone call came with a new schedule, who wants to run over to the computer, start it up, wait for the calendar to load, then type it in? Right now, most of my teens have their own little calendars on the phones or computers, so some of them will update their Google calendars, which are all shared with everyone else in the family. However, for the most part, the main place they have to make sure they have recorded their schedules is on the family calendar. (Remember, this is not for personal scheduled things like a routine or when all the class periods are - the family calendar is just for the events that involve someone else in the family or events when they will be gone so everyone else needs to know about it. 

I'm sure someday we'll all have a little flat screen hanging on the wall that will be connected to the internet and can be used as a family calendar that is also visible on everyone's phones. As a matter of fact, the technology is already there, but it's not quite ready as far as being affordable and practical. So, for now, it seems best to me to have a paper one on the wall for the family, and have everyone use their own personal systems, then have one day per week (I like Sunday or Monday nights) for everyone to tell everyone else what's going on and make sure everything for the coming week is recorded on the family calendar. 

This works out really well because each person can fill in other types of things on their personal calendars. For instance, I keep track of my daily and weekly routines, my work schedule, meal plans, etc. These are all on my Google calendar under different "calendars" that can be kept separate in various colors on there. It works out well for me most of the time and keeps me on track so I don't get too distracted. Although, like you probably suspect, there are time periods when I will completely forget my online calendar and just fly by the seat of my pants. This is a good break for me from the tedium of a schedule, but it always ends up getting crazy so I fall back into the tried-and-true calendaring system.

Remember the most important rule about a calendar or a schedule - it is a TOOL to help you accomplish what needs to be done and help jog your memory about everything you have committed to. Use it to help yourself be organized, but don't ever make yourself a slave to the calendar. You scheduled all those appointments and you have the personal power to cancel them as well. If it's getting too busy, you may need to simply say, "I'm not going to be able to do that!" to one of your scheduled items. Have the courage. Trust me, it will make life much better so you don't end up with a nervous breakdown!

In our family, no matter what else happens, we never EVER stop using the family wall calendar. It is right there by the kitchen where everyone can see it, and the rule is *supposed to be* that if you don't write it on the calendar, don't plan on my driving you there. I have probably been a little lax on this, so the kids have gotten a little lazy about some of their schedules. But for the most part, we are pretty consistent, so the wall calendar can be trusted 95% of the time to at least have the most important items on it. This has saved me so much hassle. And when things aren't recorded, there is inevitably a scramble at the last minute to figure out rides and etc. 

SO - new habit for you? If you don't have a family wall calendar, I highly recommend you get one! Right now is a great time because everything for 2013 will be discounted since it's already the end of March. I like to order from because they have a large variety of choices. Just don't get too caught up in the pictures so you end up forgetting to get something that will actually be useful!

That's it for today my jumbled friends! Talk to you again real soon. . . Have a fantabulous day!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Book Preview: The Art of Homemaking

It's all fine and good to be spontaneous and have fun, and I hope I never lose that, but at the same time, it is a constant life-long battle to keep focused and organized so that something can get done! Ever felt that way?

Yeah, I thought so. Me too. When I was a new Mom, I came across this great old book that helped me in so many ways:
The Art of Homemaking by Daryl V. Hoole (1962)

I don't know where I got it or when, but I'm so glad I did, because it was a great teaching tool for me back in 1992, when I was a young mother and a college student trying to figure out how to balance all of my responsibilities. While out of date by modern standards, this book was my first peek into home management and how to stay organized so that things could run smoothly despite the unpredictability of parenthood and life in general. Besides the great time-tested true principles talked about in this book, there are some adorable pictures that I just have to share:
Haha - Do you ever feel like this in the morning?? Me? Let's see: #1 - yes, a lot. And #2 - occasionally!

Here's another one that I love:
Haha, laying on the couch eating bon-bons! Unfortunately that's what a lot of people think homemakers do all day. But if you have been a stay-at-home Mom of babies, toddlers or preschoolers, you know better! If you did do this (and if the kids would let you for even a minute, you would seriously pay for it later - totally not worth it.) Don't ask me how I know that, hee hee. 

Most women who are even giving a half-hearted effort won't be seen doing anything remotely like this during the day. Besides, does she really look like she's enjoying herself? Don't think so. Here's the contrasting picture:
Hahaha! There. That's better! Look at all those happy people. Especially the lady with the broom, hee hee.

Okay, this one is probably more like how I feel much of the time, and I'm suspecting you too:
Oh no! How to get it all done!?
But isn't this drawing great? It brings to mind all the adventures of Lucille Ball.
The poor woman's like, "Oh my! Where do I even start?"

This one's just the best:
Thank goodness for the modern washing machine! Now she can wear her heels, makeup, cute little dress and apron and still get the laundry done without a hitch!

Okay, so that might be a stretch for how most of us look these days, whether doing laundry or not! But isn't it fun to see the pictures? And doesn't it just inspire you a little bit to do better with your job, whether at work or home or church? It does me.

This book was my lifeline as a young woman who had just quit her full-time job and full-time student life to become a stay-at-home Mom. What in the world was I going to do all day? Haha - those days are long gone, with 5 busy teenagers and 2 gradeschoolers, I never have to wonder what I am going to do all day anymore. Instead, what I have to figure out is what should I do today, and choose from all the many things that I could do today.

In my next post, I'm going to go into the basics of taking charge of your schedule and how to find what works for you. I've found that no matter how I "change it up" over the years, success always comes down to a few basic principles, as taught quite well in "The Art of Homemaking". Here's a sneak peek at a few of them:

  • Make a basic daily/weekly schedule.
  • Keep an updated calendar and look at it every morning!
  • Create routines that are realistic and stick to them until they are a habit.
  • If it's not working, tweak it, but don't throw out the baby with the bath water!
  • Reward yourself for doing things right.
  • Don't get down on yourself for not being perfect.
  • Take a day off now and then. Seriously. Do.
So, until then, my jumbled friends . . . enjoy this final thought for the day:
Just do it!

Monday, March 4, 2013

When Disaster Strikes. . . Or Does It?

I've decided to write a post today to make everyone feel better about their lives and homes. This is going to take a lot of courage, because we all go through this life trying to put our "best foot forward" and keep our struggles and weaknesses to ourselves. That is a good strategy in many ways. It is helpful for forming relationships, getting a job, "keeping up with the Joneses" and many other things. But it has a destructive side too.

When we think that everyone around us has a "perfect" life, and only see the parts of other people's lives that make them look amazing, we can get quite discouraged. And it's especially destructive because what we are seeing from the "outside" is not usually the truth at all. In fact, it very seldom is the entire story.

I was having a discussion about this the other day with a couple of friends, and it was very therapeutic for everyone in the conversation to realize that we were all "normal", and that we didn't need to hide behind this wall of perfection just so others would accept us.

That said, there is a time and place for everything. No one wants to hang around someone who brings them down or makes them feel sorry for them. No one likes to hear someone complain all the time. At the same time, no one wants to be around someone who is always bragging either. In fact, as in many many things in this life, there is one extreme on the right and one extreme on the left, and the truth lies somewhere in between.

And so, for the sake of truth and encouragement, I am going to show you some pictures of what my house looks like this morning, after a very fun weekend (gulp). Yeah. I am. Everyone knows that a picture is worth a thousand words, right? And after all, I'm short on time this morning, so here goes. . .

The Den. . . 

The Family Bathroom. . .

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