I hate being a bag lady when I leave the house, so I always try to condense all the stuff into one bag. Because of this, I tend to change bags often, switching from my purse to the pool bag to the boys' backpacks, etc. However, I've run into a lot of trouble when my phone or my debit card slides into the bottom of the bag. I often don't see it when unpacking and repacking the next bag. I've actually been caught at the check-out line of Target with no way to pay!

My solution cost me $25 and has saved me tons of headache: Pouchee. Pouchee is a small purse organizer with pockets and slots for everything. There's a place for your phone, sunglasses, keys, pen, credit/library/insurance cards, lipstick, and more. I actually don't have enough stuff to fill all the pockets!

When changing bags, you just pick up Pouchee and drop it into the new bag. You always have everything. Now that's smart.

I recently finished Lisa Whelchel's "Creative Correction: Extraordinary Ideas for Everyday Discipline" and found it to be one of the best books I've read in a long time. Lisa Whelchel is best known for her role as Blair on the TV series The Facts of Life. She is now a home-schooling mother of 3. I saw her speak at Fellowship Church (where I used to attend and work) in Texas, and was impressed by her wisdom and eloquence. I'm always on the look-out for ways to glean wisdom from moms who seem to be "successful" parents, so I was especially excited to discover Lisa authored books. "Creative Correction" did not disappoint me.

The book follows a basic structure: each chapter covers a topic like parenting the heart of a child, spanking, sibling conflict, or toddlerhood. The chapters are divided into sections: an informative discussion of the topic; then, a "toolbox" of practical ways to implement the topic. This toolbox is like a treasure chest of creative ways to work with God to shape the heart and character of your child. I've already used a handful of the ideas with Patriot and met with resounding success!

I tend to become very frustrated when discipling Patriot and weary of reusing the old time-out approach. I've found such freedom in adding to my bag of discipline tricks and knowing I have other options. This freedom alone has helped me keep my cool when he's in a meltdown.

The most impressive aspect of this book is its Scriptural basis. So much of what we read in parenting books and magazines changes over time. I find it difficult to trust these opinions when forming my parenting strategies. However, I believe there is no surer way to discipline and grow a child than on the truths found in the Bible.

These truths will not change, and Lisa has led readers to some of the most applicable passages. She dedicated 20 pages to memory verses, grouped categorically, that will help guide children in the correct path. So far we've taught Patriot a verse about whining and a verse about listening. Next will be respecting authority. I love repeating Bible verses to Patriot instead of saying "It's not nice to whine" over and over. I hope I learn to get better at this.

Overall, "Creative Correction" is a great reminder that God is the ultimate parent and we earthly parents must simply follow His lead in guiding our children. What a relief to know He is in control and it isn't all my fault! I would recommend this book to any parent.

A few weeks ago we took a family trip to a nearby horse race track: Keeneland. Having grown up in Central Kentucky, Matt and I both enjoy a day at the race track. I love the pageantry and the beautiful animals. Matt loves the excitement and the chance of the game. Patriot loves to cheer and make friends with everyone sitting around us. So when we go to Keeneland it's an all-day affair.

When this spring's racing season started, however, I was nursing Azlan. The idea of nursing in the stands, sitting elbow to elbow with someone else, stressed me out a little, so I decided I'd walk back out to the car when feeding times rolled around. I wasn't excited about the idea. Like most sporting arenas, the parking lot is sprawling so a hike out there and back would not be quick. But I'm a mom and mom's are tough, so I'd sacrifice for my Baby One, knowing that this is only for a season.

Matt decided not to let me play the martyr and got on the Keeneland website to see what he could find. Under the "Frequently Asked Questions" section, it actually suggested that breastfeeding moms use the First Aid station. What a great idea!

I tried it out that day and had the most pleasant time! There was a clean sink for washing hands, a soft bed to change his diaper, and all the privacy I needed. The friendly medical workers were bored (thankfully) and could hardly wait to dote on him once his belly was full!

So, all you nursing moms out there, next time you find yourself with a hungry baby at a sporting arena, amusement park, airport, or shopping mall, find the nearest First Aid station. You'll be glad you did!

Does anyone know a woman who loves her jeans? I mean, really loves her jeans? These women are few and far between.

In my B.C. (before children) days I had finally found my PERFECT PAIR OF JEANS. They were Polo by Ralph Lauren Relaxed Fit Bootcut jeans. The fit was just right. The rise covered by backside without gaping. The wash made me feel cool without looking like I was trying to be a teenager. And, if I caught a sale, I could get them for less than $50. I loved those jeans.

Now, my A.D. (after delivery) body isn't the same as my B.C. body. I've almost lost enough baby weight that I can comfortably zip the jeans, but they don't look the same. Things have changed and I'm back on the hunt for the illusive PERFECT PAIR OF JEANS.

I found a tool that just might help. Zafu has a "jeans finder" quiz. You answer a few simple questions and it provides a list of jeans they say will fit you. They even rank the results as best fitting to worst fitting. They provide the retail cost of the jeans and a link to stores' websites if you're brave enough to order pre-dressing room.

My list included about 30 pairs of jeans in different brands that ranged from $35 - $170. My sister completed the quiz and had 6 pairs of jeans ranging from $20 - $65.

Take the quiz and see what you discover.

I haven't been out to try on any of the jeans on my list. I'm planning to take an "all by myself" weekend when I quit nursing, so maybe I'll do some jeans shopping then. Let me know if any of you try this.

I still have 3 pairs of my B.C. PERFECT PAIR OF JEANS. I can't bring myself to let go of the dream that one day they just might fit like they used to. But now I have hope that I might find an A.D. PERFECT PAIR OF JEANS that I love just as much.

Most mothers I know have their parenting "hill to die on" -- that one thing that they have determined they will not sacrifice for any reason.

Some moms have chosen nutrition as their "hill." If they have anything to do with it, a hot dog will never enter their child's mouth. Their children will eat one piece of candy at Halloween and the rest will be trashed. They will feed their kids only healthy meals at almost all costs.

Other moms choose TV as their "hill." Their children will only watch preapproved videos. TV time is limited to 30 minutes a day and only educational shows. These moms will never let the TV serve as a temporary babysitter.

I have chosen sleep as the "hill" I die on. I am pretty serious about nap and bed times. With few exceptions, my boys spend every afternoon in their beds at our house. My 2 1/2-year-old still naps for 2 hours every afternoon. My 8-month-old naps every afternoon and most mornings. (I am a little flexible with his morning nap because we run errands a few mornings each week.) They both sleep about 11 hours at night.

Why do I insist my boys spend more hours asleep than awake? Simply, I see a drastic difference in their behavior when they are tired. The baby cries more, eats less, and is less willing to play and interact. My toddler is more argumentative, disrespectful, and overbearing. And I think it's perfectly logical. When I am overtired, I am less patient, less creative, and less pleasant to be around. Why would I expect my children to respond any differently?

However, most children in America do not get the sleep they need. According to a 2004 poll conducted by the National Sleep Foundation, the average child 10-years-old and younger gets .5-2.5 fewer hours of sleep per day than they need. The younger the child, the more sleep deprived they are, with the average infant receiving 1.5-2.5 fewer hours of sleep than recommended.

"It is clear from the poll results that we need to focus as much on the sleeping half of children's lives as we do on the waking half. Children are clearly not getting enough sleep," says Jodi A. Mindell, PhD, who served as Chair of NSF's 2004 Poll Task Force. "And a remarkable number of children have some kind of sleep problem. We need to help parents to become better educated about positive sleep practices so that their children can get the sleep they need to be able to function at their best during the day."

The Foundation's recommendations for improving your child's sleep include:
  • making sleep a family priority.
  • setting regular bedtime routines.
  • adhering to determined bedtimes and waketimes.
  • eliminating caffeine from children's diets.
  • removing TVs and computers from children's bedrooms.
I hope you'll evaluate your family's sleep habits as you think about what "hill" you're willing to die on. Please don't think any less of my parenting when I feed my kids cold cereal while they watch "Curious George." And don't worry about me judging your parenting decisions. I'll be asleep.
10. They finally found the source of that smell: a sippy cup of milk under the seat.
9. A Happy Meal toy just rolled across the floorboard and is lodged under the gas pedal.
8. Can't find the "Dora's Danceparty" CD that we need to listen to right now.
7. Who ever expected those Lofthouse cookies to crumble so quickly?
6. Screaming baby -- can't find the pacifier.
5. Busy playing pretend basketball.
4. The oldest is throwing paper wads at the baby.
3. The baby is choking on paper wads.
2. "Can't you hold it just a few more minutes until we get home?"
1. All the kids are asleep and Mom is enjoying the peace.
I heard a woman at my church mention how much easier her life became when her children became self-cleaning. I am a full-time mom with two sons: Patriot, 2 1/2, and Azlan, 8 months. As you can imagine, cleaning them seems to take up a chunk of my time.

I decided to track exactly how much time I actually spend cleaning my kids. To put parameters around the experiment, I determined to only count time spent cleaning the children themselves, not cleaning up after them. Which means I included time spent wiping bottoms, faces, hands, noses, etc. I did not include time spent wiping tables, washing sippy cups, picking up toys, doing laundry, etc.

The grand total? I spent on average 2 hours, 15 minutes per day over three days cleaning my kids!

We are potty training Patriot (a whole different post!) so he's learning to wipe his own bottom and wash his own hands. His success in these endeavors gives me hope that my 2 hours a day may be dwindling over the next few months.

Before long, he just might be a self-cleaning kid! But then what would I do with all that spare time?