Mothering through instincts

Through my journey as a mother there have been instances where I’ve had to let go and allow myself to just Do.

Tonight TB decided he wasn’t tired and didn’t want to sleep. Now, in this house we put a huge emphasis on sleep. Whenever FB wouldn’t sleep we’d spend the whole evening trying to get him to sleep whether he was tired or not. We were so desperate for sleep and in search of the ever elusive Sleep Through The Night (I wish I could tell me as a new mom to relax, but I was dealing the best I could) that we spent a lot of time getting him to sleep.

We were probably a little less rigid with SB, because he did not require as much sleep as FB and also because he was our second.

Unfortunately, though TB may not be tired, The Husband and I were ready for bed. That is where things get stressful. I dismiss The Husband (since he gets up with the boys in the morning) and take the night shift. By this time TB is getting tired but the reason he’s not sleeping yet is catching up with him (gas pains? Teething? Who knows! ) and he is getting cranky.

His belly is filled and he’s swaddled, soother in, and we proceed to bop. Walk. Bounce. Pat. Nothing works. I find myself getting stressed. My body tenses. I start to resent my baby. I finally resort to sitting on the couch and holding him tight while he continues to cry (all the while I’m barely holding it together myself.)

A sudden comprehension flows over me as I realize my entire body is tense. Just noticing this causes my body to melt into the couch cushions as I relax. Baby is still crying but I find myself rocking us gently. Suddenly my face is pressing into his sweet little chubby cheek and rubbing against his forehead and nose. I can feel his tiny body relax and less than 30 seconds later he stops crying and is gently snoring.

30 seconds from crying to sleeping and all it took was relaxing my own body and rubbing his face with my cheeks. I’m not sure why I did it but thanks instincts. I owe you one.

I’d love to hear your stories of how your instincts guided your mothering!


Let’s Talk TV

More than a year ago I read an article in a magazine about giving up TV (disclaimer: The Husband and I didn’t give up TV after bedtime) and was encouraged to attempt it with FB and SB. I had grown tired of having little TV zombies and I really wanted to encourage them to play and learn rather than watch and zone out.

The Husband and I decided we’d let the boys watch one short program right after waking and one short program right before bed but, as the article I read suggested, we allowed unlimited TV time on the weekends (typically starting on Saturday, not Friday, with the exception of movie nights) and the kicker was that we were going to start immediately. None of this “ease into it” stuff for us.

It was like ripping off a bandaid and it totally worked. It was helpful that we already didn’t allow the boys to have computer/game time (we call it screen time) in the first place. The first day they played, colored, and otherwise occupied themselves just fine, demonstrating that they are perfectly capable of finding non-screen entertainment. The rest of the week went well, with them only asking a few times if they could watch TV.

The long term benefits have been enormous. Our family dynamic has changed a bit since we gave up TV. We’ve added a family member (and new babies are big parental time-sucks) and FB started public school as a first grader (he was previously unschooled for kindergarten) so occasionally we watch more TV than we should. The Chew is a favorite to watch while I’m snuggling a snoozing baby and SB had also figured out that I can rarely turn down watching The Sorcerer’s Stone. Generally though we stick to it. FB comes home from school, drops his school stuff by the front door, and immediately works on some sort of art project/book/lego model that he’s dreamed up with SB (who has eagerly anticipated FB’s arrival since precisely 10 minutes after FB went to school) trotting along behind.

I often find once I actually put my mind to something, it actually works out pretty easy. This is one of those times.



Babywearing Third Born

I documented my babywearing journey at paxbaby.com (visit the link for a great place to learn/rent/buy!) Here is my original post: http://www.themccaskellkulishfamily.com/2014/11/my-baby-wearing-journey/

Third Born is a lucky guy. First and Second Born paved the babywearing way for me, so I actually feel like quite an old pro.

Our first venture out with all three boys. In a cotton/linen ring sling I borrowed.

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Wrapped in my Storchenweige in honor of World Babywearing Week 2014

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Wrapped in my wool/cotton/silk Oscha

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He gets worn a ton. He has a bit of silent reflux so prefers to be upright. Babywearing has been a lifesaver for me this time around.

I’ve been interviewed about babywearing, read it here: http://www.bakkentoday.com/event/article/id/379542/publisher_ID/1/

Back to blogging

I have not blogged in ages and for that, I apologize.

I have a new little nursling now (officially Third Born; watch for his birth story in the coming weeks), a First Born in First Grade, and a Second Born who is bored out of his gourd while he waits to be old enough for kindergarten.

Our lives are full and happy. Last year The Husband decided to pick up bagpipes again. I am devoting more time to my breastfeeding counselor volunteer work and I hope to pick up my camera more often. First Born is a Tiger Scout. Second Born is very much enjoying being a big brother. Third Born is, well, a baby.

Watch this space in the coming months as I will be updating, deleting, and moving things around.


At a pumpkin patch?

Would you, could you…NIP?

In honor of all the Nurse-in-public stories in the news recently I thought I’d write up a blog post celebrating Second Born and my nursing-in-public photos. I am pretty sure I have more I can dig up, but this is it for now!

So if you nurse in public, whether it be with or without a cover, celebrate your small and your big victories!

My Baby-wearing Journey

Originally guest posted at http://paxbaby.com/a-babywearing-saga/


When a woman finds out that she is going to be a mother, almost immediately pictures float into her head of what kind of mother she wants to be. For me, I wanted to cloth diaper, I wanted to breastfeed, I didn’t want my baby to “cry it out”, and I wanted to baby-wear. With each of these decisions I had to do research to be successful. I’m proud to say I was successful at all of them. My son was a cloth diapered, breastfed, not left to cry, worn baby. Then my second son came along, and he was the same.

This is my journey into baby-wearing.

Initially I wasn’t exactly sure of what type of baby-wearing device I wanted. There are so many choices! I had decided from the get-go that I would not be doing a Bjorn (or “crotch-dangler”) but aside from that I was pretty lost. Thankfully while I was pregnant I had a customer come into the print shop where I worked to make up some business cards that included information about Moby Wraps. When she came back in to pick up her cards I inquired about what exactly a Moby Wrap was and she was more than willing to help!

A Moby Wrap is a stretchy wrap that is 5.5 meters long that you tie in one big knot around you and put baby somewhere in there. At least that is what I came away from that conversation with. At the very least I had decided that a Moby Wrap was the wrap for me so when a good friend asked me if she could buy me something baby-wearing related as a baby gift, I told her “Sure!” Pretty soon my pretty moss Moby Wrap was delivered to my door.

I was very excited to show my husband (Chris) all about this new fangled baby item that had arrived so of course we had to find the closest thing to a baby that we could to try it out. That meant our cats, Calvin and Hobbes, were the unsuspecting victims!

Doing what new parents do, trying out the wrap before baby gets here.

Connor arrived after a failed induction via c-section on October 25th, 2007 and because I was so very sore, Chris took over the task of introducing our new bundle to the Moby Wrap.

In the hospital showing off the wrap.

The bond between a breastfed baby and his mother is extraordinary but often times the daddies feel left out of that experience. We were very fortunate for the closeness that wearing Connor offered to Chris.

Here you can see them bonding 😀

I was unable to wear Connor for many weeks due to my incision from my c-section. My first time wearing him was to the mall at Christmas to see Santa. He slept for most of the time and we got lots of stares and many people stopped us to ask questions (all very positive energy, thankfully).

After that first time, I was a pro. I wore him everywhere. He was not too attached as a baby (I didn’t have to wear him for him to be able to nap) so I didn’t wear him around the house, but when we went places you can bet that I ditched that infant bucket car seat long before he was too big for it, I hated lugging that thing around anyway! He enjoyed being close to mama and once his neck control was good I’d wear him facing out.

Eventually he began getting heavy so my repertoire of wearing positions gradually changed. I could no longer wear him facing out because it killed my lower back and I was interested in trying a back position.

I gathered up my best friend and she helped me hold Connor on my back and get a nice and snug tie around him. I just wore him around the house that first back carry time.

In the interest of full disclosure, I do NOT recommend a back carry in a stretchy wrap, especially for anyone new to baby-wearing, unless you *really* know what you are doing. Stretchy wraps tend to loosen as you wear them and are difficult to get a good snug fit on baby.

Enjoying the spring weather.

Fourth of July – He’s not going anywhere, but he can’t see anything either!

Watching Fireworks.

As Connor got heavier and heavier the Moby Wrap was not ideal as an everyday carrier for us any longer. It would loosen as I wore him and didn’t offer as much support on my shoulders and back for his extra heft.

Around that time I received a $50 e-gift certificate in a lotto on a popular cloth diapering message board. The e-gift certificate was for a web-store specializing a baby carriers. I did a little research and knew I wanted something with a little structure, I was leaning towards a mei tei because they were economically priced, but someone opened my eyes to a Soft Structured Carrier and I decided on an Ergo.

An Ergo is a carrier that has a soft frame and backpack-like straps. It is very “daddy-friendly” because it doesn’t require any tying and very simple and fast to slip on and off.

Short hike at Itasca State Park in Minnesota.

I love my Ergo. We used it All.The.Time. Short quick to the store? Pop Connor on my back and in we went. Day trip to a Minnesota State Park? Ergo here we come! Trip to the Badlands in North Dakota? Screw the stroller, we left that at home and just brought the Ergo.

Sadly once I found out I was pregnant with my second son I wore Connor very little due to the extreme fatigue that comes with pregnancy.

However I decided to get myself reacquainted around 32 weeks pregnant. Early in my baby-wearing journey I found a Storchenwiege woven wrap for super cheap at a consignment store but I never took the time to learn how to use it very well. I hemmed and hawed over selling it several times but finally decided to keep it and put in the effort to learn it in order to use it with the new baby, specifically with back carries.

A woven wrap is a large piece of fabric that has very little stretch to it. These are ideal for back carries but work great for just about everything. My Storch is a 4.1 meter Vicki.

Graeme’s baby wearing journey hasn’t been as well documented as Connor’s.

Daddy doing the inaugural wearing in the hospital. Who says daddies can’t bond with exclusively BF babies?

A tradition it seems, here we are out to see Santa.

In March we planned a trip to a hotel with an indoor water-park. I knew I’d want to be hands-mostly-free in the pool so I researched a water sling. I knew I wouldn’t be using it for anything but wearing in the water and I wanted something that dried really quickly and was fast to take on and off. I decided on a Taylor Made Water Ring Sling, my first real ring sling.

A ring sling is a carrier that consists of a non-stretch fabric with two rings at one end that the tail end is then threaded through to make a pouch for baby to sit in.

Now that I have two kids, back carries in my woven wrap are pretty essential (I can’t even believe I was going to sell my storch!) I have wrapped Graeme on my back so many times I can’t even count. I’ve made little old ladies very nervous at the mall when I throw him back there and wrap him up all by myself (I let them “spot” if they are really persistent, but I make sure they know only to intervene if Graeme is falling off otherwise I get all discombobulated when they start picking up rails and stuff) and he’s napped back there while I photographed a wedding. Together we made a man blush when Graeme was on my back while waiting in line at the local Dairy Queen (never cutesy ask an infant if they get ice cream too, my response was “Well yes, in a few hours.” Never saw a man turn more shades of red than right then!)

This wrapping job looks a little odd but he was very secure back there!

Families who baby-wear together, stay together!

Recently I’ve added a mei tei to my carrier selection. It’s not a fancy one, just one made by another mama, but I quite like the Michael Miller fabric and the simplicity of it (especially since I have a bit of baby weight to loose yet before my Ergo fits right).

It’s a horrendous photo but since people like photos (and I wanted to show the print!) I thought I’d post it anyway. You can see where Graeme prefers to be!

After all of this I’d like to think of myself as an experienced baby-wearer but I know that there is still tons more to learn and I look forward to continuing this journey long into the toddler years with my children!

Thumper Pond

We headed on over to Thumper Pond Resort on March 17-20. This date was chosen because we thought it’d be BEFORE the flood this year. Little did we know that Mother Nature had planned the flood a week early. Suspected crest date? March 21. We left everything to the higher powers that be and got the heck outta dodge and would totally do it again (for those who are wondering, the crest came and went with little to-do).

We shared a double queen room with Sara and the girls and spent the few days swimming, lounging, eating, and spa-ing it up. I know, spa is not a verb but I think I’m going to try to make it one. It worked for Google right?

I picked up a Taylor Made Ring Sling to use in the water from http://heavenlyhold.com/ and it was worth every penny!

These are not the greatest pictures (I can’t believe I’m actually putting them up here *blush*) but hey, we had fun!

Jaci w/ Graeme, Chris w/ Connor and Selia in the water.
Jaci w/ Graeme, Chris w/ Connor and Selia in the water.
Graeme is in the Taylor Made Mesh Ring Sling.
Graeme is in the Taylor Made Mesh Ring Sling.



Things are going well with these two. Connor adores his brother. When Graeme is sleeping, Connor tries to wake him up :p, when Graeme is crying, Connor yells “OKAY BAYYBEEE!” 😀 We are working on that! He likes holding him…for two seconds before he’ll exclaim “Heavy!” and give him back. Connor will hold Graeme’s soother in his mouth to stop his crying.

He has even already picked on him. Graeme has a very small amount of hair on the back of his head. I was burping him and Connor came up and looked at his head and started laughing and pointing: “Little bit hair. Back there!”

I love my boys 🙂