7 Quick Takes Friday (vol. 171)

May 4, 2012 | 52 comments

— 1 —

Let me just warn you that I am writing this on very little sleep. Last night was one of the worst nights I have had in my parenting history — and that is saying something, considering that my first child woke up every few hours around the clock until he was almost two years old. The 11-month-old baby woke up around midnight, and alternated crying, fussing, and loud babbling until 5:00 AM. As she is still in our room, this meant that neither my husband nor I slept at all last night.

Anyone who tells me to savor these moments because they go by so fast will have their IP address summarily banned and a virus downloaded to their computer that causes it to catch on fire.

— 2 —

The baby’s sleep has been drifting from “very good” to “not great” over the past few weeks, and I am extremely ready to get this under control. I believe in gentle parenting: My babies need to be gentle on me, and let me sleep. And so I wouldn’t mind a little intermittent Kim West-style “crying it out”ย to send the message that no, seriously, we sleep at night in this family. But the problem is that I don’t have the kind of house where I can do that. Just imagine this…


…in the crib with the baby. I wouldn’t be able to let her cry for ten seconds without imagining that she’s crying not because she’s frustrated about falling asleep, but because she is being STUNG OVER AND OVER AGAIN BY A VENOMOUS ARACHNID THAT IS ATTACKING HER IN HER CRIB!!!!!!

— 3 —

Let me bring some balance into this post by telling you about Megan Tietz’s new book, Spirit-Led Parenting. For those of you who aren’t already familiar with her, Megan blogs at Sorta Crunchy and has been joining us in Quick Takes for years. She and co-author Laura Oyer wrote the book with this mission:

In Spirit-Led Parenting, two mothers share their stories. They tell of a journey that began in fear-soaked, tear-stained days marked by an overwhelming fear of failure that eventually found redemption in discovering the freedom to ignore the wisdom of man and follow the direction of the Spirit. This gentle path looks toward the example of God the Father, seeks after Christ’s unequivocal call to servanthood, and leans upon the wisdom of the Holy Spirit in determining and meeting the individual needs of each unique child.

I had a chance to glance at an early copy of the book, and it’s delightful. Though my own parenting style differs slightly from that of Megan and Laura (read: I recently mused to a friend that my parenting book would be called Mommy Is Going to Die if You Don’t Stop Being Bad and Go to Sleep: A Guide to Draconian Parenting Methods), I appreciated how honest they were about their journeys, as well as their passion for helping moms and babies find peace during that intense first year.

— 4 —

One big issue we’re having is that the baby really needs her own space. But with seven people in a three-bedroom house, there is not a lot of space to be had. And so I’ve been drawing a lot of inspiration from the local Ikea, which has all sorts of model living spaces set up for people who live in tiny spaces. Check out this video to see what I mean:


Whenever I go to our local store, I am always fascinated by their little “Living in 550 Square Feet” model home things they have set up. All my efficiency-loving German genes come alive, and I stand in awe as I look up and down the wall and behold an area where not a single square inch is wasted. I am convinced that if I could just get hooked up with a ten thousand dollar Ikea gift card, I could transform my house into a model of efficiently used space.

— 5 —

From my homeowner’s association:

When I saw the peppy clipart of that zany little snake, I did not expect it to be a warning about rattlesnakes sighted within the neighborhood. That image goes with an announcement like, Lost pet snake – answers to ‘Snookums’. That is not the appropriate artwork for a communique that says, in so many words, “Hey, there are venomous creatures lurking in the neighborhood! Unlike the scorpions that fill your houses, these things can actually kill you! Have fun when you go for your next jog — hope you don’t die!” (I’m paraphrasing, but that is how I interpreted it.)

The best part was what came next, which I unfortunately could not capture in the screenshot: An admonishment that read “DO NOT PANIC!!!” (copied in the exact style it was written). OF COURSE!!! WHY WOULD I PANIC WHEN YOU ARE TELLING ME NOT TO, USING A BOLDED FONT AND THREE EXCLAMATION POINTS?!?!?!?! SOUNDS LIKE A LAID BACK SITUATION TO ME!!!

— 6 —

I recently downloaded a great album called The Covers, in which Christian artists cover classic popular songs. To get an idea of the effort that went into putting these songs together, check out Audrey Assad’s post about the song she chose to cover, Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here. This is one of my favorite albums I’ve bought in a long time.

(Which I discovered thanks to Marc Barnes, who, as far as I can tell, is becoming one of the most popular bloggers in the solar system.)

— 7 —

Don’t forget to take some time to read others’ Quick Takes posts on the list below. There’s always some great stuff there! It’s always a bright spot in my weekend to grab a cup of coffee and see what everyone else has to say.

I’m off to not sleep while not thinking about the scorpions and rattlesnakes that surround my house. Have a great weekend!



  1. Rhonda

    I totally dig your parenting style. But I kind of feel guilty about it. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Dorian Speed

    You know, when there was the thing in the news about how they found the eight-foot alligator in front of the elementary school a few neighborhoods down the road, I looked at my life, looked at my choices, and thought: Is this worse than scorpions?

    And I’m going to go with: No. No, it is not.

    Because you can see an alligator coming and either examine your conscience or run like the wind, but a scorpion could attack at any time. And so now this rattlesnake thing is like the ultimate escalation. The only way we in the Houston metro area could compete is if there were an outbreak of venomous spiders, in which case I would definitely have to move back in with my parents.

  3. Blair

    Haha, I totally wrote about sleep issues in my Quick Takes, too. We had a 4yr old in bed half the night moaning with a tummy ache last night, and my toddler was up until almost midnight tonight! I tried to nap during naptime but kept being interrupted by screaming fits by the preschooler. This lifestyle is really tiring. I’m in need of some spirit-led parenting, for sure! Off to check out the book and blog…

    Oh and they’ve killed 2 rattlesnakes in our parish’s “backyard” where there’s a playground and the kids play for hours every week. Great!

  4. George @ Convert Journal

    #2 – ah yes, video from your classic Singing in the Raid post! On #4, the vide
    o shows that with Ikea products, you not only pack more in, but the place always stays perfectly neat. Sure. Maybe Snookums eats scorpions in #5?

    My entry this week… To Be Born – a video short story exploring one woman’s “choice.” Paul Ryan speaks sensibly at Georgetown, result as expected. More background on the LCWR (lest anyone still thinks action was either unnecessary or rash). Our hope is in our young and there is reason to be optimistic. Some good pieces last week on radical feminism. Welcoming our soldiers home. A quote of the week.

  5. Becky

    Your sleeping issues are just like mine. We also are a family of seven in a 3 bedroom home with a baby sleeping in the room with us. (We’re like you but minus the scorpions.) We’ve been trying to figure out how the baby can get his own space so he can sleep.

    In fact, as I type this, it’s almost 1 in the morning, because the baby decided it was “up time” and has been babbling for the past hour.

    One of the things we were going to do was put him in our master bathroom as his own bedroom–but gut out the bathroom first. I realize this is a little extreme, but we were going to renovate that bathroom first. Now after all that work, my husband looked at the bathroom and looked at the crib and said, “You know, I don’t think the cribs going to fit in there.”

    Here are a few suggestions of sleeping arrangements that we have used over the years. It’s not ideal, not perfect, but it worked.

    Have one of your children give up his/her room so the baby can get his own space and yodel all he wants at night. Have that child either move in with a brother/sister (yes, I know it will probably be very crowded) or set up a temporary “bedroom” in a sun room or basement by buying a futon. Bedroom at night, living room by day. This is what we’re going to have to do in our situation. My kids are excited about it. I am not.

    Other things we’ve tried, give up a large closet and put the crib (if it fits) in there as a little nook for the baby, and take off one of the doors so you don’t feel like your stacking your baby away for the night. We hung a curtain so he couldn’t see us.

    The other thing we did that worked really well is that we took our best and deepest sleeping child, and put a toddler bed in our closet and had the baby take over the child’s room. My 4 year old slept in our closet for a year and a half and she thought it was great. We made it cute with a cute curtain and her own little table and lamp with her bed in there. That way when the baby woke up to yodel at night, it was still a little noisy, but it was easier to fall asleep.

    As for scorpions, I’ve got nothing for you. I live in Minnesota. Move, perhaps?

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      Really like the closet idea. I need to think if there’s any way we could make this work…

      • Heather

        We had the same sleep problem w/ #4 and #5 – 7 of us in 1100 sq ft – I know! Baby didn’t need his/her “own” space so much as he/she needed (happened w/ both kids, not twins btw) to not sleep where I was. So we moved child in w/ a sibling who would probably sleep through the crying and baby did not even wake up and cry sleeping in same room w/ sibling! We also moved a child w/ was sleeping through the night (about 3 yrs old at the time) in the crib in our room and put baby in that other child’s room in a pack-n-play. Again, it worked b/c the baby needed to not sleep where I was. Don’t know why, but maybe worth a try for you?

  6. Kara

    I don’t even remember what sleep IS.

  7. Beth Anne @ The Catholic Couponer Blog

    I too am a lover of IKEA! 90% of my room/house is made up of stuff from ikea. My bed frame, my night table, my desk, my dresser…LOL. When I moved from TX to FL I also went from being 45 minutes from ikea to 2 hours. That was a major LOSS but on the plus side I now spend less money at ikea ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. jen

    Yeah… rattlesnakes alone would be an excuse to move for me. They told us in Montana that they never crossed the highway or the railroad tracks. THEY LIED!!!!!

  9. Valerie @ Momma in Progress

    This is probably going to sound snarkier than intended but #1? Worse parenting night ever? Really? I would suspect ear infection or tooth coming in.

    • Amy

      I second Valerie, whenever I’ve a generally good sleeper suddenly awake at night, I scrutinize the nap schedule, suspect the teeth, think merciful thoughts (and try to remember my own coffee intake… sometimes caffeine can sneak into the milk) Best of luck.

  10. Amy@Diapeepees

    Scorpions and rattlers, oh my …I think the most ferocious creatures we have trolling are backyard are raccoons. Though I did read (while homeschooling, of course) that groundhogs can get pretty riled when forced to defend their turf.

    • Amy@Diapeepees

      I meant “our” — not are. Sorry, makes me crazy. I couldn’t just leave it. (Am I the only one who re-reads my comments for grammar?)

  11. Kathleen Basi

    First of all, Jen: “Anyone who tells me to savor these moments because they go by so fast will have their IP address summarily banned and a virus downloaded to their computer that causes it to catch on fire.”


    I’m really sorry you’re having trouble with the baby sleeping. We have recently crossed into the “must let him cry” stage (wrote out my angst on that here: http://bit.ly/K6i8jN. But I don’t have scorpions in the house, only sweet ants, so I’m afraid I’m no help to you! I’ll say a prayer that your IKEA trips bear fruit.

    I love how you can make everything so funny. Even rattlesnakes. ๐Ÿ™‚ I’m so glad I don’t live in Texas! Just sayin’. ๐Ÿ™‚

  12. Colleen Martin

    I totally feel your pain of being a family of seven in a 3 bedroom house. But you must move the baby out of your room to get some sleep!! We have the three oldest boys in one room (bunk beds) and the sole girl in a room with her baby brother. It works for now, and hopefully when it stops working we’ll have a 4 bedroom house ๐Ÿ™‚

  13. Steph

    All caps, bold, ITALICS, and exclamation points. Yes, that is the perfect way to convey the message to not panic.

  14. Becky

    The overwhelming majority of poisonous snake bites in this country occur then the person is attempting to pick up the snake. Scorpions will come into your house not even realizing that you are there but rattlesnakes usually notice you and they actually don’t want to bite you. They know that you are too big to eat, and it is a waste of venom. So chances are good that you are safe from the snakes as long as you don’t try to pick them up. The notice from your H.A. is probably meant to convey “Don’t think that every snake you see is ok to play with”. You may not need this warning, but believe me, many of your fellow Texans do. And if a rattlesnake is rattling at you, that is a good sign. The snake is warning you, trying to give you a chance to run away.

  15. lisa

    We have a 3 bedroom house with 8 kids (why? I don’t know what we were thinking when we bought this place with 7 kids already in tow – probably all of the loveliness of 2 large living areas spread out all over a ranch style home). And right now our two year old has the master bedroom all to herself while my husband and I enjoy the adventure of sleeping on an airmattress in the living room. This has been going on for near to a year now because she would NOT SLEEP with us in the room with her. I was desparate for sleep – so desparate that when that baby was in for her 1 year check up the pediatrician asked me right off the bat how well she was sleeping. NOT AT ALL! He asked if she was waking about every 1 hour to 1 1/2 hours? Why yes, indeed, she was! He told us that was her natural sleep cycle and that whatever we did, we needed to get out of the same room with her. It was like a miracle. The first night out, she fussed a bit at around 11:30 or midnight, (and I checked on her, because Dallas is known for horrid bugs too!), but from that night on she has slept all night long, every night, even with ear infections. I’m not saying this is the best solution for you or anyone else, but we have had several friends hear us praise God for sleep over the last year and they have tried this technique themselves, all with great success! I don’t think an air mattress is ideal, and many of our friends had guest rooms to move into while they awaited baby becoming old enough to move in with big siblings; every night while we are airing up the bed I think to myself, “I will sleep at least 7 hours straight tonight. Thank you, God!”
    Maybe it’s worth a shot! And if not for you, maybe one of your readers finds themselves in this same position.

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      Interesting suggestion! I hadn’t even thought of that. I’ll definitely consider it — I am really, really ready to get some sleep. Thanks!

  16. Sheila @ Seasoned Joy

    I feel your pain with the not-sleeping baby. My baby is just a day or so younger than yours, and has never been a good sleeper. My book would have to be titled “Mommy is going to lose her #&$@!?@$S* mind if you do not PUT YOUR HEAD DOWN AND GO TO SLEEP.*
    Subtitled: Also, STOP BITING ME, I know you have new teeth but you don’t need to prove it on my nipple”

    I’m sure it would be a big hit in the Christian parenting market.

    And I have a facebook friend I’m about ready to block from seeing my infrequent updates becaue I get so tired of her gushing that I must make sure and cherish every moment with my young children, because the time just goes by so fast, and she’d give anything to have her babies back. I mean, I *know* that time goes by fast, and I know that this is a season, and blahblahblah, please just let me share a funny story about a disaster that my son caused without chastising me for sounding unappreciative for the opportunity to clean up every spice from my cabinet that he dumped on the floor.

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      Please let me know when I can pre-order Mommy is going to lose her #&$@!?@$S* mind if you do not PUT YOUR HEAD DOWN AND GO TO SLEEP: Also, STOP BITING ME.

    • Mama

      Oh, yes! So I’m not the only one with thin patience. Our son has slept w/me for since birth (2/2011) Poor daddy has had the couch, as we are in my parents home and my bedroom has the same small bed I grew up with. At least that helps with not having to chart my cycles… Our sweet, loving and most darling son (I really mean all that) now has his two top teeth…”Please don’t bite Mama!” Has occurred…He’s really into making sure we understand when he disagrees with what is happening to him…oh, yes!

  17. Elizabeth @ Coppertop Kitchen

    The stories of pests in your neighborhood are terrifying. I’m really looking forward to checking out Spirit-Led Parenting! We’re expecting baby #1 in November, and I’m trying to gather as many tools for handling the first year as possible!

  18. Karianna@Caffeinated Catholic Mama

    I love those small spaces at IKEA. I just love to wander through and look at wonder at the Swedish engineering. I am a big fan of small houses but I agree, I’d be happy with a $10K IKEA card (and a designer) as well!

    Thanks for the album recommendation… off to iTunes!

  19. CC Jen

    People who tell you to “savor the moment” are generally so far removed from these kinds of moments that they should really just be keeping their mouth shut. Just sayin’.

  20. priest's wife (@byzcathwife)

    about babies and sleep- I have 4 kids 12 and under (so I have more time experience and you have more quantity experience)—good call on not letting the baby cry it out, but you do have some white noise maker (humidifier? dehumidifier? soft music?) near the baby and black out blinds telling her it is night from 8 to 7, right?

    My kids never had to cry it out, but they were never talked to between 8 and 7- I or husband would take care of the baby silently- loveydovey talk, eye contact and smiles are for the daytime hours (so waking up wasn’t that interesting)

  21. Kaitlin @ More Like Mary

    I’ve been thinking about getting that album-now I’ll have to just do it!

  22. The Boring Blogger

    We had our first in our room till a year. We all slept with a sound machine that sounded like a river or some sort of lame babbling brook. I always knew exactly when the cattail would hit the log… always just before the larger gurgle. It drove me a little crazy sometimes, but I do think it helped us all sleep better.

    • Jennifer Fulwiler

      I always knew exactly when the cattail would hit the logโ€ฆ always just before the larger gurgle.

      Okay, for some reason that remark is *really* cracking me up. Maybe because I used to have a roommate who used a sound machine every night. Thanks for the laugh.

  23. Marea

    Just had a few short minutes to read your blog.
    Sleep – the overarching subject of parents of children < 3 yrs.!

    A couple of thoughts from my experience:

    1.Good sleep is essential to good parenting, and a good life, so persevere in whatever it takes to promote a better night's sleep for all 7 in your household!

    2.Scorpion tip from my Arizona (also scorpion country) relatives – put all four crib legs into widemouth canning jars – apparently the scorpions find it difficult to climb up the glass jars, traverse the "moat" to the crib leg and into the crib.

    Here's to sweet, uninterrupted, REM dreams!

  24. Marea

    Postscript from Marea on the subject of sleep:

    This book changed my life when our children were babies and toddlers:

    “Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems” by Richard Ferber
    I am not implying you are at the “problem” stage, but it would be a helpful book to any parent.

  25. Barbara C.

    We do the “family bed” until they are four (a twin bed and a queen bed pushed together). On average we have two kids in the bed with us at any time, but I (and they) sleep better that way.

    But we are a family of six with baby #5 due in August living in a three-bedroom town home. However, my MIL moved in with us last October taking the third bedroom. I just redid the kid’s room to prepare for kid #3 who turns four on Wednesday to move in there, but I had to plan ahead for kid #4 to move in to the room in two years. Here’s a blog post I did about it: http://barboo77.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/making-room/ And a lot of the new furniture came from IKEA!!

    The one thing in our favor is that are oldest four are all girls. If baby #5 turns out to be a boy, it could make things really interesting in a few years. What I wouldn’t give to be able to afford a house with just one more bedroom and a private back yard.

    A few months ago I came across information on the Feingold Diet. While I wasn’t willing to shell out the money for all of their books, it did make me aware that my six-year-old has a sensitivity to oranges/orange juice which causes her to have bad dreams and wake multiple times per night (in addition to trips to the bathroom). Once I cut both out of her diet, she woke up less and was no longer scared to go back to sleep on her own.

    And as you have a probably figured out since this is kid #5, approaching a year old, her sleep habits could be getting ready to change.

  26. Christine

    Hilarious. You always make me laugh.
    My toddler was up and needs to nurse to fall back to sleep.
    I will probably nurse this kid till she is 16…I need sleep really really bad.

  27. Louise

    Jen, I’m sorry to hear about your baby’s sleep patterns! I went through similar difficulties with my daughter. I do not do well with sleep deprivation, and I really feel your pain. Although I didn’t have the scorpion worries — yikes! That would make it much scarier!

    That screenshot of the snake is hilarious. And, as always, your reactions are hysterical!

  28. Gillian

    I hear you on the baby woes. My 4 1/2 month old is very prone to colic and last night I had a little bit of cheese in sandwiches at a reception… This is no way compares to your case though, as he slept in between all the fussiness ๐Ÿ˜›

    If baby needs her own space to sleep, why not try the living room? If you have a playpen this is an excellent way to get one more bedroom for the baby. We had my middle son in a playpen in the living romo for a while, at my in -laws and then when we moved into our own space. Eventuially we moved the playpen in with his brother, but that just led to big brother climbing in with him anyway, so they got a bed ๐Ÿ˜›

    • Mama

      Our son (15 months) long ago perfected climbing out of his playpen…it was good for a time…

  29. Kendra @ The Nerdy Wife

    I have an infant who doesn’t sleep sometimes too, I get it ๐Ÿ™‚

  30. Trena

    My 20 month old still sleeps with us because she wakes up about 2-4 times during the night. I can relate!

  31. Martha

    Ugh. Mothering sucks. Yep, I said it. We’re on #7, and she apparently doesn’t need sleep. She’s 1, and has been up every hour since she was born. Not to mention being unable to sleep without being attached constantly to my nipple until we let her cry it out at about 6 months. But still, even with hours and hours of crying under her belt- no go. We fondly (or not-so-fondly) call her ‘Aunt Elaine,’ after my insane insomniac aunt who can be found at all hours of the night crocheting doilies, moving furniture, and occasionally calling you, forgetting that other people actually sleep at night. Good times.

  32. Meg

    Oh, I miss living near an IKEA so much. It was so nice! I had a 9’3″x9’9″ bedroom for a few years and made it work with a loft bed, armchair & storage ottoman, and dresser from IKEA. (The biggest problem of the room? One outlet. Behind the door. Extension cord & power strip.) If ANY of your kids are okay for bunk/loft beds, they help with the space issue. A lot. Also — it’s possible to turn the top bunk into a storage space if the kids are too young to sleep up there.

  33. Christie


    Thank you for sharing this! It is a relief for me to know that so many other people have the same problem with sleeping babies.

    This is the arrangement we have:

    we figured out that when my one-year-old stirs in the night, he immediately wants to nurse. And my mommy instincts make me acutely aware of every time he moves. My husband is . . . well . . . less maternal! He can sleep through a hurricane (which is good, for he has work in the morning).

    So I’ve started to put the baby to sleep in the bed with us and then move out for the night. Whether it is a spare bedroom or the living room couch, just make sure that it is far enough away for you not to wake at a little babbling or mewling but close enough to wake to operatic wailing. This way I can get in and nurse the baby before he wakes up Dad.

    Do some of your children share the dead-to-the-world sleep talent of my husband? Perhaps you could but the baby to sleep in the bedroom with them. Or, in an emergency, you or your husband (or both?) could relocate to the living room.

    I hope this helps. God bless you!

  34. Michelle M

    Jennifer, you probably know about this already but if not, here is the address to enter for a $10,000 IKEA gift card. It is in the latest issue of Food and Wine: http://www.foodandwine.com/ikeadreamkitchengiveaway . I hope you win!!!

  35. Kimberlie

    I absolutely loved that video you have in #4! My husband and I have traveled to New Zealand and Australia, and I have also been to England and Ireland. In all four places we stayed in “normal” homes, not hotels. While these countries all have the most stunningly beautiful places, and some pretty good food (yes, even England and Ireland despite their bad culinary reps), the one thing I saw that has stayed with me for YEARS is how well they live in much smaller places than we do in the US. Not one inch of space is wasted. Not one. I keep telling my husband how much wasted space we have in our home (about 2500 sq ft – 4 bed) and yet the space we are actually able to use for living feels cramped because it’s poorly laid out and planned. I don’t know who the builder thought would be living in this house but it was not a family of 6 (as evidenced by my 286 sq ft great room with an off-centered fireplace only a small closet for storage and 42 sq ft kitchen with almost no counterspace). My dream is to live in the perfectly designed and planned 1500 sq ft home. You know, the one in which every square inch of space has an actual use and purpose. That’s my dream.

  36. Jerrah

    I can see a lot of people enjoyed your post here and we are all waiting for your next post as well.. Keep it up!

  37. Bekah S

    My 14 mo twins both slept until 4:15am last night. This is the third time I have slept this much since they were born. The fact that I can count those nights that specifically is scary. But I completely understand! Sleep deprivation is no joke!

  38. Beth T.

    Serious laughter over here because of this one: “I believe in gentle parenting: My babies need to be gentle on me, and let me sleep.” Oh, but how I do feel guilty about not keeping them in bed with me sometimes…!

  39. Jenny

    Hi.. This is what people should read always.. We are all hoping that you can post more of this and we can’t actually wait already..

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