Thursday, March 31, 2016

My Experience with Breastfeeding on a Schedule

This post first appeared as a guest post here.

When I first met my husband, I also got introduced to many of his friends. Many of them were married, and several of them had kids. Most of the women had breastfed their babies, were currently breastfeeding, or were pregnant and planning on breastfeeding. That was my first introduction into the world of breastfeeding and as a result I just assumed breastfeeding is what you do when you have a baby. Coincidentally many of the women I mentioned previously not only breastfed their babies, but they are were Babywise families. So having breastfeeding babies on schedules was all I knew! ​

When my son was born, I had already read up on Babywise and was ready to get going. In the very first days my goal was for him to getfull feedings at our nursing sessions, and then take full naps that weren't interrupted by unnecessary disruptions. Within 24 hours he was on a 3-hour feeding schedule by his own doing, and the rest was history in terms of his schedule.

As for breastfeeding - what an experience! We had taken a breast feeding class before he was born and I would say that when the time came to nurse him for the first time I remembered close to nothing from the class. Praise the Lord for all the lactation consultants out there! Without their help we would have been doomed. When my son was born I was suffering from severe pregnancy carpel tunnel and I could not use my hands to hold him to my breast. My milk took days to come in because of the c-section (he was breech). My son had a shallow latch. The odds were so stacked against us! But we persevered. The LC taught my husband how to latch my son to me without me needing to do anything. That worked for the first two weeks, and then I was eventually was able to get surgery on both my wrists to relieve the carpel tunnel. We used formula until my milk came in, and I used a nipple shield the entire time my son was nursing to help with his shallow latch.

Given the uphill battle we had with breastfeeding, I very much credit much of our success to him being on a schedule. He took nice long feedings so I knew that if he was crying in between feedings it wasn't from hunger. My supply was able to regulate because his eating was predictable (outside of growth spurts). Knowing I had 2-2.5 hours in between feedings during the first weeks home really helped me recover from my c-section and later from my double wrist surgeries. After only a few weeks of him being on a schedule, he started sleeping longer at night and increasing his feeding time during the day to compensate for ounces he wasn't taking at night.

My goal with both my babies has been to breastfeed to 6 months, and I've met that goal with both of them. I never really cared for breastfeeding all that much with my son, probably because of the wrist surgeries and how uncomfortable I was during that ordeal. With my daughter, I've loved every minute of breastfeeding. She was a VBAC birth and has been a great nurser from the start. I also focused on full feedings with her from the first nursing session and she naturally put herself on a 3-hour schedule within 24 hours of being born. Because both my kids are on schedules, it's been easy to breastfeed a newborn while having a toddler because our days look mostly the same. As my daughter's needs change the schedules change, but all in all it's been very predictable and enjoyable for everyone.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Common Questions about Hiring a Nanny

Today is Pinterest Day for the Babywise Friendly Blog Network and we're all sharing on the topic of childcare. Follow us on Pinterest for more great tips, or check out the posts from the other ladies directly on their blogs.


I got my first nanny job at the age of 19. I was supposed to temporarily take over the job for a girl in my sorority house, but I ended up being the nanny for that family off and on for nearly a decade! That first nanny job paved the way for many other side babysitting and nanny jobs over the years. At this point, I've nannied consistently for four families and done short-term nanny or babysitting for dozens of families.

Due to my experience, I frequently get asked questions from my friends looking to hire a nanny (and friends looking to start nannying). The questions below should cover most of the basics, but please leave me comment if there is something I can try to answer for you that's not already covered.

Where do I find a nanny?
Unless you are using a service, my best recommendation is to find someone through your social networks. Unlike when you hire a gardener or cleaner, a nanny is someone whom you invite in to your home to be an extension of your family. Accordingly, it usually works out best when you have some type of pre-existing connection to them. 

Does experience matter?
This really depends on the age of your child(ren) and your comfort level. A potential nanny can have very little hands-on experience and still be a good nanny if she is able and willing to learn quickly. It's not all that difficult to take care of the physical needs of children; what is taxing is their emotional and mental needs.  You can teach skills, but it's harder to teach patience and intuition.

What the difference between a babysitter and a nanny?
This may vary geographically, but in our area (greater Seattle area), but "babysitter" generally means someone who watches your child(ren) for a few hours on occasion (usually in the evening). "Nanny" generally means someone who watches your child(ren) on a repeating basis during the day, and can also do additional tasks around the house (clean up dishes, fold laundry, etc). 

What is the nanny's job? 
Aside from caring after your child(ren), whatever you decide! It is not unreasonable to ask the nanny to clean up after a meal, fold and/or put away a pile of laundry, or tidy up a playroom. Anything beyond normal-keeping-up-with-the-children tasks can start to become more appropriate for a house cleaner. If you want your nanny to vacuum, clean bathrooms, dust, etc - you need to pay her accordingly.

Should we expect the nanny to adhere to our parenting?
YES! The goal of a desirable nanny should be to come alongside your family and mirror your parenting choices to the best of their ability. The combined goal of the nanny and the parents should be to create a seamless experience for the child(ren) in terms of behavior expectations, routine, and moral teaching.

What if the child will be asleep most of the time?
If the nanny is changing diapers or assisting with bathroom use, those both cancel out any "break" she is getting by having down time. Pay her as normal. 

Should I do a nanny share?
A nanny share is when two families share the same nanny. This is financially advantageous for everyone involved. The two families generally split the cost of paying the nanny; the nanny makes more money (more kids = more money!) and the families both get a nanny without each paying full price for her time.

Should I do my house or her house?
This is completely personal preference. The main thing two things to consider are: is her house safe (environment, location, people) and does she have age appropriate gear and toys.

What if she has her own kids, too?
This can be a great way to get your child some socialization, and is even better if you are friends with the nanny and her children outside of your childcare arrangement. Making this situation work depends on the ages and abilities of the children, and what the nanny can handle. My only personal rule on this is I don't do more than one child that can't walk, simply because it's too much to carry two non-walkers and help a toddler up the stairs or out the door. 

What if I will be at home while she is there?
Don't be home while the nanny is there. Being at home with the nanny there is incredibly uncomfortable for the nanny (unless you are close friends, but even then it's still borderline awkward). It's also confusing for the children - who is in charge? If you are uncomfortable with leaving your children with the nanny - solve that problem by finding a nanny you trust.

Do I need to provide food for her?
Kind of. You're probably hiring a nanny because you're working outside the home, so the last thing you need on your to-do list is "make lunch for the nanny". Don't worry about making her meals to eat at your house, but do have snack food on hand and invite her to it.

Who decides what to pay the nanny?
You can decide together, or you can set a rate and look for a nanny to agree to it without discussion.

How do we decide a fair rate?
Start with the going hourly rate in your area, and add +/- $1 per hour for the following considerations:
+$1 for exceptional experience 
+$1 college or graduate level education (even if not relevant to the field of child care)
+$1 for each additional children you have
-$1 she has her own children that she will be watching at the same time
-$1 you take your child to her house

What about paying per day instead of per hour?
This is a great idea for regular, consistent childcare. My rule of thumb is usually anything over 5 hours should be paid by a daily rate, unless the family or nanny prefers otherwise. To figure out a fair daily rate, I suggest taking the average amount of hours a day and multiply that number by the hourly rate and then round down just a little.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Mary: 8 months

We have a crawler! She's still just getting going with it, but she defintely is crawling. Before crawling she was scooting around on her cute little tushie and would just kind of "end up" somewhere else in the room and we were never really sure how she got there. But now she is crawling. And pulling up on everything. And I know walking with happen before I can blink twice!

Other fun news is that she has one tooth. Drew was never a fussy teether, and it appears Mary is the same way. We had no clue she was even cutting a tooth until it popped through!

Naps are still great (two 2-hour naps with no more afternoon catnap). Her overnight sleep is mostly great too; every once in a while she wakes up early in the evening to cry for a bit, or wake up about a half an hour early in the morning. Sometimes she plays and other times she cries, but overall she's still a great sleeper. Still no plans to combine the kids rooms right now but I would still like to do that in the future.

She's officially done nursing. I'm plowing through frozen breast milk so I will start to lessen the amount of frozen milk I give her each day because I do want it to extend with at least a little frozen breast milk each day until she turns one. She's still not super into solids but I think she's doing just fine with eating. Right now we're focusing on table manners, which mainly means not putting her hand in her mouth after every bite I give her. She's catching on quick.

Mary has a very dainty personality; she does not like anything to hurt, startle, or inconvenience her. If any of those things happen, I can accurately expect her to whimper or cry until someone picks her up to comfort her. That may get annoying later, but right now I think it's just so sweet how particular she is.

One thing I'm really proud of her for: she is able to take a nap in the church nursery on Sundays, even with all the lights on and kids playing. As long as she has her binky and her lovie, she's been taking naps in the swing in the nursery. This is great because it allows us to attend the 9am service, which we prefer, without Mary skipping her morning nap. And there is cuteness overload happening when we go to pick her up after service and she's just snoozing away in the swing. What is it about sleeping babies?!

Mary is also great at entertaining herself, mostly out of necessity. She is extremely fussy right around dinner time (as most babies are) and that's the only time of the day she really needs help from me to stay content. The rest of the day she spends scooting around exploring this and that or watching Drew. Having two kids is a major benefit in this way! I remember Drew would get so bored in our condo and I would run out ways to entertain him, places to put him, etc. I certainly don't have that problem with Mary! I actual struggle to find time during the day to really sit and connect with just her; now that her afternoon nap start just a little bit after Drew's, I've been sitting in her room and "reading" books with her. I hope she knows how important she is to me, even though Drew demands so much of my actual attention. It helps that Mary really loves Drew, and Kyle and my dad too, so she does get a lot of attention from people she loves throughout the day.

I hope that I am not telling you she is walking in her next update - why do babies insist on growing up so fast?!

We had a very busy photo shoot!

Those tummy rolls are delicious!

I finally called for Kyle and Drew to come help - Mary was sure happy daddy showed up!

Drew wanted to be in some pictures too :-)

What a muffin!

Getting out of Debt Is Not About the Math

This post first appeared as a guest post here.

For the majority of debtors, lack of basic math is not the reason they have debt. In reality, it’s not about the math – if it was simply about math, we likely wouldn’t be in debt to begin with.

On the surface, debt appears to be caused by lack of money. But money doesn’t spend itself; we have to tell our money where to go. Our circumstances don't cause us to go into debt , either; how we respond to our circumstances does. We're in charge of where our money goes, regardless of our circumstances. And what are we influenced by? Emotions. Getting out - and staying out - of debt is more about emotions than it is about math.

Emotions are the pathway between our circumstances and our justification of how we respond to those circumstances.Justification is what makes the unaffordable seem affordable. It makes the unwise option seem like the only option. It makes the want feel like a need. It makes something the future not seem as relevant as the present. It makes an expected expense seem like an unexpected emergency. Justification only exists when the math is not in our favor, and emotions do a good job of blurring the math.

If emotions get us in to debt, it should be no surprise that emotions can get us out of debt, too. That is why Dave Ramsey's debt snowball works so well. He encourages the debtor to focus on quick wins: go after the smallest debt first, regardless of the interest rates on your debt roster. Make minimum payments on all other debts until the smallest debt is paid off. The rational is: once you pay off one debt completely, you will feel more energized to tackle the next one. That feeling will continue as you go after subsequent debts. 

Tackling debt is actually Step 2 of Dave’s steps to financial peace. Notice these are not steps to “getting rich quick”, but steps to having peace about your finances. (You can have financial peace and not be rich, by the way!). Peace comes from knowing where your money is coming from, where it is, and where it's going  - ahead of time. As Dave says: if you have trouble managing your money, having more of it wont help. Having a budget is a great way to keep emotions separate from the math. When circumstances strike, a good budget will help you make wise decisions that aren't influenced by your emotions.

This post may contain affiliate links.

Friday, March 11, 2016


This week the ladies of the Babywise Friendly Blog Network are all answering frequently asked questions. Below is the schedule of blog posts for the week; I'll be sharing a little into to each blog post every day this week so just sit right where you are if you want to follow along!


Today Katrina from Mama's Organized Chaos is answering the question every mom of a toddler has at some point: when to transition to one nap? The age range for this transition is huge, so it's important to watch for signs of readiness instead of age. Katrina has some helpful tips to consider!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

One Quick Trick to Stop Unwanted Toddler Behavior

This week the ladies of the Babywise Friendly Blog Network are all answering frequently asked questions. Below is the schedule of blog posts for the week; I'll be sharing a little into to each blog post every day this week so just sit right where you are if you want to follow along!

Tuesday: The Moses Home + Team Cartwright
Wednesday: Emily at The Journey of Parenthood
Thursday: Wiley Adventures + Giving It Grace
Friday: Mama's Organized Chaos


Today I'm sharing a method for stopping bad behavior in toddlers (below), and Carrie from Wiley Adventures is over on her blog talking about scheduling. This is such a big topic, but Carrie does a great job breaking it down week by week through 52 weeks. Definitely save this post and come back to it if you're having a baby soon!


Truly the most frequently asked questions I get have to do with newborns and sleep, which is why I wrote this post about sleep goals for babies first four months. Today though, I am answering the second most frequently asked question I get, which is:

How do I get my toddler to stop doing "x" behavior?

The "x" behavior can be a whole host of undesirable behaviors: dropping food, tantrums at the table, delaying at bedtime...really, toddlers never tire of thinking up annoying things to do, do they? 

To stop unwanted behavior, I'll always first advise being more firm. In our home, disobedience or naughty behavior either means I'm not being clear enough with what's expected, or I'm not being swift enough with discipline. But if the undesired behavior is too clockwork - like a tantrum every time mom tries to put toddler in the car - I take a different approach. I like to change it up. The scenery, the routine, whatever - just do something to break the pattern of bad behavior. 

One of the earliest instances of this I can remember is when my son started having tantrums at the dinner table (around 18 months old). We tried all the standard approaches in order: ignore them, remove him from the table, discipline him. Nothing worked well or for very long. It was every night, on cue. One night I decided to just "remove the stage" for the tantrum: he and I ate dinner on the floor in the living room before dad got home. And there were no tantrums. The next evening, I moved his high chair to a different spot in the table, and again - no tantrums. My theory had worked - he just needed the pattern of behavior to be disrupted. 

I tried this theory again a few months later when he learned he could reach his bedroom light switch from his crib. It wasn't the end of the world for him to be flipping the light on and off in the morning while he waited for us to get him up, but that's just not really something I wanted him to do. While he is normally an obedient child when told no, he just couldn't control himself with the light switch. So one night we moved his crib out into the middle of the room for sleeping. A week later, we put it back against the wall and added some new stuffed animals for him to sleep with. We said nothing about the light switch, and he never touched it again. He had completely forgotten about it because we had broken the pattern of the bad behavior.

So my answer to the question of "how do I get my toddler to stop doing "x" behavior is to simply make a big change. Move something around, do something in a new spot, add a new item into the mix. Make the change for a dew days or a few weeks, until you know the pattern is broken, and then you can resume things back to normal. 

Wednesday, March 9, 2016


This week the ladies of the Babywise Friendly Blog Network are all answering frequently asked questions. Below is the schedule of blog posts for the week; I'll be sharing a little into to each blog post every day this week so just sit right where you are if you want to follow along!


Today Emily from The Journey of Parenthood is talking about how to drop the middle of the night feeding. This is one of the first big hurdles mom and baby go through in the process of baby condensing feedings rapidly during the first few months. Emily has a lot of good ideas to help get mom and baby through this milestone!

Tuesday, March 8, 2016


This week the ladies of the Babywise Friendly Blog Network are all answering frequently asked questions. Below is the schedule of blog posts for the week; I'll be sharing a little into to each blog post every day this week so just sit right where you are if you want to follow along!


Today Shea from The Moses Home is discussing what happens when a baby is overtired. Overtiredness can lead to a whole host of sleep problems, and is frequently to blame when baby can't get to sleep, or can't stay asleep. 


Also today, Kimberly from Team Cartwright is sharing about Babywise with twins! Having done Babywise with her toddler, this mama is now tackling teaching her sweet twins good sleep habits. She has some great insights to share about juggling Babywise for a toddler and two babies!

Monday, March 7, 2016


This week the ladies of the Babywise Friendly Blog Network are all answering frequently asked questions. Below is the schedule of blog posts for the week; I'll be sharing a little into to each blog post every day this week so just sit right where you are if you want to follow along!


Today Valerie from Chronicles of a Babywise Mom is talking about how to have a good sleeper. If you've ever checked out Valerie's blog, you'll know that she knows a whole lot about training babies (and toddlers!) to be good sleepers! This is definitely a post to pin now and read later if you're expecting a little one on the way soon :)

Friday, March 4, 2016

Hansen life: February

We had a really rough February. The month started out with a bang (pun intended): Drew split his head open on a play table in his bedroom. I was with Mary at the grocery store and got a phone call from my dad to come home quick because Drew was bleeding. Oh great, I thought. I figured it must have been his mouth - mouths bleed so heavily. Drew does this annoying thing where he spins in circles and thinks it's hilarious, and we always tell him to knock it off before he trips and crashes. That ended up being exactly what happened (and thankfully he no longer spins in circles anymore!), except it wasn't his mouth he hit, it was his forehead! When I got home from the store my dad had Drew in the kitchen in a highchair, and I could see the blood clear from the driveway through the front screen door! I got inside, promptly handed Mary off to my dad, threw Drew in the car, and called Kyle and told him to meet us at the ER. It was raining and they recently remodeled our local ER so I unknowingly parked on the OTHER SIDE OF THE BUILDING from the entrance. Cue super dramatic scene of me carrying my bleeding toddler in the rain around the building trying to find the new entrance to the ER. Once we got checked in things moved quickly, and Kyle was able to get there in time for the stitches. Drew had to be all swaddled up for the stitches and it was horrible for him and horrible for us to watch, but it went by quickly. Nine stitches! He had them in for a week, and they've been out now for several weeks and his scar is nice and neat and already starting to fade. We knew this day was coming and I'm just so thankful it was his forehead and not his mouth, nose, or eyes and that he didn't loose consciousness. Glad it's behind us now!
Two days after Drew got his stitches out, he got hit hard with the stomach bug. He started throwing up just after dinner, right as Kyle and I were getting ready to leave for a family birthday party for me and Kyle's cousin Joel (coincidentally, Joel got sick before the party so neither he nor I made it to our own party). Drew continued to throw up until the early hours of the morning - what a night! He recovered pretty well the next day. Two nights later (on Valentine's Day night), Kyle got the stomach bug! It kept him up all night, too, and he was out of commission the next day. That next day was President's Day so Kyle was off work anyway, but we had plans to celebrate Valentine's Day with a day date (brunch) and then another family birthday party for me with my family that evening - had to cancel both of those as well! We thought the rest of us were safe, but a week and a half later it was my turn. Up all night, completely out of commission the next day. Somehow Mary and my dad were spared (so far!). We ended February with the kids and I getting mega head colds. Can I just say I am SUPER ready for spring?!
In between stitches and stomach bugs, Kyle enjoyed playing in an annual Super Bowl Golf Tournament with the Hansen men (and friends), I celebrated my birthday with a night out in Seattle with some girlfriends from college as well as a movie night with some girlfriend's from church, I got to help Brooke out by volunteering at the annual Seattle Young Life fundraising gala, Kyle and I finally got our day date brunch to celebrate Valentine's Day, Kyle and his buddies had another quarterly poker night (Kyle has yet to win one of these poker nights...his turn has to be coming up!), and we attended some baby showers and kid birthdays along the way.

It looks really deep because the split was on top of a goose egg from where he hit his head.

Waiting to get stitched up

All sealed up! He was so sweaty from fighting being wrapped up during the stitches process.

We treated him to a Drew Special: french fries and ice cream :-)

We would let the stitches air out in the bath every night

He did so great with the band-aid - it hardly bothered him at all!

Nor did it slow him down, unfortunately...

Stitches out!

This is everyone that attended the joint birthparty for Joel and I that both Joel and I couldn't be at! 

Drew and buddy Keller enjoying some Table Time was coloring while the other was erasing...silly guys!

I'm almost officially done nursing Mary, so I had to capture this picture of her sweet legs during one of our final nursing sessions...she's such a sweet girl!

Celebrating my birthday in Seattle with Eleni and Danna - such a fun night now that we are all moms and spend the entire time talking about our kids!

Family walk with the new stroller. I swore I would never get a mega stroller...but I've changed my tune! 

Found Drew reading (like actually reciting the story from memory) to his bear. What a sweet kid!

There is a little neighborhood fire station a few blocks away that we always go past on our walks. Finally one day we walked by and the bay doors were open. Drew was so excited to see the firetrucks, and then one of the firemen saw us and waved us over. He let Drew climb up into ALL of the trucks, touch everything, meet all the was just such a fun time for Drew! What a memory! He is still talking about!

These two pictures of Mary really make me laugh - she is so funny!

Family date at the beach on Valentine's Day (just hours before Kyle got sick!)

Mary and mom

Stomping in puddles

Family pic - best we could do!

I love how much they like each other...I never had a brother, so I think it's really neat that Mary has a brother and really thinks he's great (for now - haha!).

Cart full of cute kids!

See - when they do things like this my heart almost can't handle it!

Full house for the Young Life Seattle auction!

Finally celebrated Valentine's Day with this handsome husband of mine!

Sweet little Mary had an appointment this month to get her eyes looked at. I've noticed that her right eye often turns in a little more than her left. The eye doctor noticed it as well, but said it's nothing to be worried about right now. It's likely a weak eye muscle, or simply the shape of her eye. She said just to keep an eye on it. I thought she was making a pun, so I laughed - but she was being are you an eye doctor and say "keep an eye on it" seriously without intending to make a pun?! Come ON - such an obvious joke! Anyway - we are truly keeping an eye on it, and I may follow up with her pediatrician to see if we should get a second opinion or just leave it be. She cracked me up in this picture with her little tongue sticking out :P