Category Archives: Question for the Mamas

How to Train a Babysitter

I started babysitting when I was just shy of 11 years old. Yes you heard correctly… 11 years old!! Why someone trusted me at such a young age to take care of their children, I am not sure. I was a very responsible kid, but I certainly had no idea of what the characteristics of […]

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Rachel - August 10, 2014 - 2:25 pm

Great list! Ryan and I leave the kids for up to two hours with a twelve year old neighbor. Her parents are usually home and she almost always brings a friend or her older sister. The kids LOVE her because she plays with them non-stop. Eleanor actually cried when she left. There is something about that sweet-spot for girl and boy babysitters between the ages of 12 and 14. They really play! That’s being said, we only use her for short bursts and not during naps or bedtimes.

One more bullet to add: Please feel free to text me a picture at some point while I’m gone. I start to ache for my kids after being gone for more than a few hours and pictures really help.

EmmaJ - August 10, 2014 - 3:22 pm

We generally only use babysitters for date nights, and maybe once a year for something during the day. We are lucky to have good neighbors who will watch our children (and vice versa us theirs) if there is something during the day. The girls we hire are always from our church and normally 15-17 years old. We pay $10 an hour for 3 kids and round up if it isn’t a whole hour. This usually requires them to make dinner and do bed time. We let the kids watch one movie and then the babysitter usually plays games or do a puzzles. We also ask that they read scriptures and do prayers. We favor the girls who can drive themselves to and from our house and currently we have two girls on regulate rotation. They are great girls and are usally doing homework when we get home. The house is always cleaned up from whatever they played with the kids.

Karli - August 10, 2014 - 3:30 pm

Kara, I’ve always known we were kindred spirits. I actually DID try to set up my own babysitters club at age 11. Didn’t last super long, but it was a great attempt. I am perfectly comfortable with certain 11 and 12 year olds watching my kids, as they are much more attentive and excited about it. But I play it on a case by case basis. I almost never pay more than $6 an hour, but I will give bonuses for doing dishes and going above and beyond. I do think kids either haven’t been trained like we were to go above and beyond or they’re lazier. I’m not sure which.

And while I like to hire sitters to provide teens with jobs, my life has been changed by the formation of a babysitting co-op in my neighborhood. It has saved me lots of money, provided my kids with social time, and made me freer to go things without all the kids in two and without feeling guilty about pawning them off on a friend. Also, it’s much more helpful during the day when teen sitters are in school. I can email you details if you’re interested. I know you’d have the resources down there to set one up in no time.

Finally, I’m curious as to your feelings on male babysitters. I know a lot of people who won’t have one as a rule, which is sad to me, because my oldest son will someday make a great babysitter.

kara - August 11, 2014 - 12:04 am

I think that you are right about 12-14 year olds being most willing to really get down and play with kids. I would definitely consider a younger kid if they lived close and had parents nearby.
Sounds like you have a good setup with babysitters. I feel like the process is getting easier now that I don’t have a baby or young toddler. My kids are at easier stages to be left, which makes it nice!
I do want to hear more about the babysitting co-op. I’ve heard of them happening hear, but they always sounded kind of complicated and hard to keep drama from happening. Tell me know more. We have had a teenage boy babysit a couple of times. I am not opposed to having a boy, I just am not sure how to seek them out. I imagine that Gabe would also someday be a great babysitter. He LOVES playing with any toddlers of our friends
Another point that I forgot… I think that it is important for the moms to take the sitters home afterwards instead of dads. I remember many many awkward car rides home with dads. Not that they were creepy or weird or anything… but awkward is the right word. I think that some dads may not be as prone to chit chat as moms, so sometimes those 10 minutes felt like an hour :)

To Procreate or not to Procreate… that is the question!

I love babies. No, I mean… I really love babies. Since I stopped teaching baby class a couple of months ago, I have realized how much I indeed love and miss babies. Pretty much any time someone asks me about my experiences teaching baby class, I tear up. That job was special. I got to […]

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Rachel - May 10, 2013 - 10:15 pm

Another good post! I will follow this one. I have to say that all of your pictures about the first year with babies did not bring forth a single bit of sentiment in me. I am just not a mom that does well in the first year. But, I am very sentimental about years 2-4 right now. :( I came from a big family and always wanted one of my own. I am sad that we are done with two but I just can’t do another pregnancy and first year right now and if we wait any longer, I would be at high risk for a baby with medical problems. I just can’t do that considering our current situation. So, I think we are done. But, if someone told me I could give birth to healthy one-year-old without having to be pregnant, I’d do it in a second!

Adrienne W - May 11, 2013 - 12:07 am

Oh, babies! I also love babies, but I haven’t really had a chance to get baby hungry, because I always have my own. I’m really lucky to have super easy babies, which makes newborns so enjoyable for us.
When I was young I always wanted lots of kids, because I enjoyed being one of six kids, but by the time I got married, I always thought we’d have four. And now I have five. So in some ways I have more kids than I thought I’d have. I wanted to be done at four, but we both felt like we weren’t done and that was hard for me. But I knew that I would hate to live with the feeling that we should have one more. The timing of a couple of our babies has been a surprise, but I KNOW they were supposed to come when they did. And of course I wouldn’t change anything now. It is crazy at our house, but I really do love it most days. And five kids isn’t a whole lot harder than three was. It’s all hard work. In some ways I feel like this wasn’t my decision, but the Lord’s and I am willing to accept that. And enjoy it!
As far as being done… We just got rid of all the baby stuff we aren’t using and it felt really good. It didn’t make me sad. I think we’re done, but with our crazy fertility, I have to know that more babies are a possibility until something REALLY permanent is done. And if we’re supposed to have more, then we’ll deal with it. We’ve discussed becoming foster parents when our kids are a little bit older. We have friends who foster only babies and we’d both like to do that.
I feel a lot of judgement from others about my tons of kids, but I don’t let it bother me. I also sometimes feel jealous of others who feel they are done at 2 or 3 because of logisitcs (housing, travelling, one on one time, etc), but I just try to focus on the blessings that my babies are and be the best mother I can be.

Sarabeth - May 11, 2013 - 12:25 am

I, too, adore babies. Audrey is turning 1 on Tuesday, and it’s pretty much killing me. I want more babies. Well, my heart wants more babies. But my head tells me that 4 is plenty. And Steve definitely does not want more, so I think we’re done. But I still have a ways to go before that does not make me sad. However, I think a lot of my sadness comes simply from the fact that my having-baby days are over, and I think that will make me sad even if I had 15 babies. Know what I mean? Like I think I will need to face those feelings at some point, regardless…I’m not just going to keep on having them just to avoid that sadness. When having babies was the biggest thing i looked forward to my entire life – and now it’s over – it’s hard to not have that to look forward to any more. Part of it, too, is just accepting that I’m getting older. Boo! Oh, and though I’m ecstatic to see my sisters both about to have their own first babies, I admit that it makes me ache for me to hold my own newborn again.

Anyway, that was a lot of rambling. On the brighter side, I do look forward to my kids being older and being able to do fun things with them and to enjoy them gaining a bit more independence. I am truly loving these younger years with my kids, before life gets as crazy as I know it will.

Annmarie - May 11, 2013 - 12:26 pm

Kara – this is a perfect Mother’s Day topic! It has also been on my mind lately, so thanks for putting out the questions in your blog! :) I decided from an early age that I would have 2 kids. I came from a family with 2 kids, so I think that this was what I knew. I waited a very long time to have kids. I wanted to be married, to have already enjoyed time alone with my spouse, to own a home and to have our finances in order. I was very traditional in the way I went about starting a family. :) There’s really not much about my family that’s traditional. ;) Now, 5 years later, I have a beautiful 10-year-old daughter that we adopted through the foster system at age 4 and a son, who is now 3, that I gave birth to. About a year after giving birth to my youngest, I starting longing to be pregnant again. I had mixed feelings about this longing. I also thought that I would adopt, if I wanted to have more. I feel a strong moral and social responsiblity to adopt. I still very much long to birth another child. Now that I am newly divorced, this picture feels much more complicated. I don’t want to give up this desire to complete my family!
I love babies. I love how I felt when I was the Mom of a wee one! The breast feeding hormones made me feel so content, looking into my baby’s eyes while nursing, the intense bonding with other mom’s of newborns for survival. ;) It was definitely one of my favorite times in my life! Kara, you talked about how you bond more intensely with your husband during this stage. That made me realize how I reach out to both old and new friends much more in this stage. I have such a big community and stay connected when I have a baby!
I have loved all the stages since infancy, with both my kids! I would like for them to have another partner in crime to share their childhoods and adulthoods with! :)

Kara - May 11, 2013 - 6:50 pm

I would say that you have an exceptionally rough past few months, so I don’t blame you. If baby stage is not a favorite of yours, then cheers to you starting to move past that stage :).
Way to not care what people think. Haters gonna hate girl, but you are an awesome mama with an awesome family!
Good luck in “mourning” being done. It is so true that there are many things to look forward to with our kids. I hope that we can do some of those fun things in the future together with our families!
What an amazing transition to motherhood you had! I wish you and your family lots of happiness as you find a groove with this new transition in your life. Hugs!

Robyn - May 11, 2013 - 11:36 pm

Oh Kara. So much, so much I want to say. BUT, it is late.

So let me share this one thing. For me, part of the compulisive draw towards having a newborn (that I STILL feel OFTEN) is that having a baby provides the rare opportunity to “fall in love”.

I fell head over heels in love was with Scott. Then when Tanner was born it was like falling in love all over again. Then again with Sage, and Elliette, and Asher. FALLING IN LOVE is so fun! The newness, the thrill, the giddy excitement, the discovery, the indescribable joy that comes from realizing you can’t/don’t want to live another day without them and are ready to commit your whole heart, soul, and being to them.

It’s a rush. It’s nourishing. It’s bouyant. It’s new and fun and exciting. It’s energizing. It’s HAPPY.

But just like a marriage must eventually move past the “honeymoon” phase, so too must the parenting.

The thought of having another baby thrills me. Have another baby tomorrow? YOU BET! What could possibly be better than another pure and innocent newborn? Another person to fall in love with? YOU BET! Sign me up. Another baby to snuggle, and nurse, and cuddle? YOU BET! Another baby to help and watch learn to sit, crawl, walk, talk? YOU BET! Witnessing the joy of discovery that accompanies babies is one of the greatest joys in life.

We have 4. We are done. It was a tough transition, but the right one.

So much to say . . . but that’s my one point for tonight. One of the reasons why saying goodbye to babies was tough because it was also saying goodbye to the thrill of falling in love.

kara - May 12, 2013 - 12:48 pm

I never thought about it that way, but is so true. Falling in love with a new human being that was literally a part of you… kind of an addicting feeling. Yes, the honeymoon ends..right around 6 weeks when my babies cry a lot :). So, maybe that is exactly what hurts.. not being able to fall in love with a human being in such an intense way again.

Carrie - May 13, 2013 - 9:42 am

This was a very interesting post for me to read because I’m at the opposite end of you, Kara, and everyone commenting. I’m newly married (well, we’re coming up on our 2nd wedding anniversary), nearly 33, and childless. My husband and I feel pulled to start our family now (especially since I’m getting older) and we have ideas about what that family will look like – how many kids, etc., but since we’ve never experienced any of it ourselves, we truly have no idea how we’ll feel about it all, how many kids we will end up wanting, and such. We love, love, love being married and we so enjoy our life together just the two of us, so I’m always wondering if I’ll be as happy when we have a family and our lives and hearts are pulled in a million different directions. It’s nice to read, though, how much all the women commenting on this post love having babies – and love their husbands throughout it all. As we embark on this stage in our lives and in our marriage, it can be pretty scary. I’m glad to have the Internet to learn from seasoned moms such as yourselves!

kara - May 13, 2013 - 12:32 pm

Good luck with your procreating decisions :). There is nothing in the world that makes me love Chris more than when I watch him be a good daddy, and I’m sure it will be the same for you Carrie whenever the timing is right for you guys! It really is true that love multiplies and our capacity to love expands. I’ll look forward to your updates :).


One of our favorite things to do is a family (and probably yours too) , is to go to the library. It may not be the best parenting, but I can get my kids to do almost anything if they know that we will be going to the library. It’s just one of those simple […]

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Katie Carleski - March 8, 2013 - 9:07 pm

Oh this post is lovely! Reminds me of my boys. Some of our favourites right now are the, ‘Mysterious Benedict Society,’ and, ‘Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place,’ books. My second oldest loves the, ‘Nate the Great,’ books and remarked that, “even though they are WAY too easy for me now Mom, I still just love them.”

Story book wise, we have always been a fan of the, ‘Click, Clack, Moo,’ series and things by Sandra Boyton. All of my kids find the, ‘Bad Kitty,’ books hilarious too, which is great because the older ones will take them, and climb up into the tree house with the younger ones and read them out loud. Then I can hear all this little laughter pouring out of the tree house and my heart is happy because I know my boys are bonding over something that is super important in my life–books.

Katrina - March 9, 2013 - 8:20 am

Mo Willems is a complete genius. Everything he writes makes my kids laugh. I also love the books by Cynthia Rylant. I think the kids prefer “Henry and Mudge”, but her “Mr Putter and Tabby” books are my favorite. Lizzy thinks Peter Brown is funny, but I have only read one or two. (She read one in preschool, and demanded that we go get it at the library.)I also like Pat Hutchins, and Berkley Breathed. And if you haven’t read “Ballet Kitty” you should.Oh, and the kids love the Magic School Bus books, which take FOREVER to read out loud.

Kara - March 10, 2013 - 11:49 am

Thanks for the recs. I will for sure try the Nate the Great books with Gabe. Books for sure create so much bonding between parent/child and siblings.
Yes, when I heard that Mo Willems was a writer for Sesame Street, it all made sense of why his books are so funny. We haven’t read “Mr Putter and Tabby”, but we will check some out next time. We will also check out Ballet Kitty. Thanks!

adrienne w - March 11, 2013 - 2:09 pm

We love the library! It is one of the few places I will actually venture out to by myself with all five kids. It’s just worth it! Macartney got the Mercy Watson books for Christmas and they were a perfect beginner chapter book series. They really built her confidence and when she finished she just wanted to keep going. She really enjoys the Ivy and Bean series. I prefer them to Junie B. Jones. Still mischievous, but not as bratty.
My kids are very into non-fiction books, which is good and bad. It’s good because it makes me happy that they want to learn all about the world around them. But I really don’t enjoy reading books about deadly insects or mummification as bedtime stories! I’ve had to limit the number of non-fiction books they get because they can be hard to get through.
I will definitely have to check out the Zen Shorts book. I’ve seen it on the shelves, but we’ve never got it, for some reason. I think you’ve inspired me to take the kids to the library today after school! Wish me luck! ;)

What do you want to be when you grow up?

I am going to start working on scanning old pictures so that we have all of our pictures saved digitally. I cam across these gems. These are a couple of my senior pictures. Oh how I wish we could all share old pictures together, because nothing brings a laugh like awkward old pictures.What, it isn’t […]

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Teesha - March 3, 2013 - 11:18 pm

One little nugget of encouragement that you might find useful at some point in your journey…….when I was considering going to grad school, but was belly-aching about how old I’d be when I finished getting my Masters in Music Therapy, a very wise friend said “so what, so you’ll be 35. You are going to get there in the same amount of time. Do you want to arrive at 35 with or without your degree?” That really helped put things in perspective and I never looked back :)
I don’t have any other creative ideas for you – all of them sound great and I’m sure the right choice will rise up in your heart!

Adrienne W - March 4, 2013 - 6:50 am

Oh, Kara! No wonder we’re such good friends! I often think about what I’m going to be when I grow up. And I also wanted to be a Marine Biologist. I wanted to live in Oregon and either work on a whale watching boat or at the aquarium so I could teach people. ( I live in land locked northern Alberta!) I also looked into Play Therapy when I was in school. Then after I had little kids, I felt like I couldn’t handle it as well. I don’t think I could distance myself like I once could. When I was in school (and roomies with you) I was going to be a Music Therapist, but I felt like it might be too specific and hard to find work. Now I go through a million scenarios in my mind of what I would be -everything from a dolphin trainer to a doctor (I don’t think either of these will plan out ;) ). I’m not sure what I’ll do, but it’s exciting to think about. I could see you being successful and loving anyone of those options! And I’d buy your children’s CD for sure. Hey, maybe we should go in on that together! :)

Katrina - March 4, 2013 - 8:36 am

Recently I’ve become enamored with the idea of becoming a children’s librarian. I have zero interest in cataloging and archiving, and I’m not sure how much of that would be a part of it, but I do love the idea of developing programs to promote literacy and I’d love to be an expert in children’s literature. It would require grad school, and I don’t think there are a lot of jobs available, but how awesome would it be to be in charge of story hour every week?

Kelly - March 4, 2013 - 9:00 am

I’m pretty sure I know which marine biologist mom you’re talking about. Living in a small town is so great. Anyway, I’m a firm believer in following your passion. If you do what you love, it will never feel like work and you will excel and the money will follow. This experience will be a great model for your kids.

Leah - March 4, 2013 - 10:02 am


I wanted to be a Marine Biologist too! I think I was about 10… I had a dolphin ring, dolphin Christmas ornaments, and even planned to get a dolphin tatoo when I got older (thankfully didn’t happen though). I wanted to be the trainer at Marine World and teach people about conservation. My parents even ok’d me going to Oregon State since they offered the program, even though they both went to U of O haha

You would be amazing at any of the jobs you’ve listed! Trust your instincts, keep your eyes and heart open, and let God lead you on your journey. How exciting to consider the possibilities!


Mondisa - March 4, 2013 - 10:50 am

For the longest time I was determined to be a horse trainer and riding instructor. All I wanted to do was be at the barn and I swore that I would never get married or have kids. I even started out at Oregon State as an Animal Science major and my horse went with me. I had it all planned out.

Fast forward about 15 years – I don’t even have horses anymore. I still love them, but they’re not my focus. Not only am I married, but I have FOUR kids. I did get my degree, but not in Animal Science. I have a BS in Business and my Master’s in Business Administration. I feel like I should have everything planned out now and that I should be walking that path already. I did all that work and spent all that time and instead, all I really want to do is be home with my kids.

I’ve been trying to find a way to do that and still use the education I worked so hard for. Working from home is something new that the company I work for is offering, so I feel very blessed to be home 2x a week now, but I’m still not with the kids as much as I’d like to be. I can feel that something else is coming – I don’t know what and I don’t know how, but I’m going to get that opportunity. I believe that completely.

Kara, you inspire me as a mom. I love seeing and hearing about you and your family and your experiences. My only advice would be to do what feels right and don’t be afraid to try some of the things you mentioned. It might not work out, but sometimes the process of trying is more important than succeeding. :)

Kara - March 4, 2013 - 8:09 pm

I used to think about being a music therapist, but I’m pretty sure we live nowhere near a program? Thanks for the advice. Blessings to you and your family with the near arrival of new baby Teesha!
We should totally make children’s music together. I vote that you do dolphin training so you can live somewhere warm :).
I also have thought about being a children’s librarian. Yes, the issues is that 1)Not sure there is a program in the area and 2) Very limited jobs. It would seriously be the coolest job though!Being around children’s books all day and helping families would be so awesome! I wonder if U of O has a program you could do?
Thanks for the advice. That is what I am trying to figure out… what really is my passion and then how to make it happen. I will probably have to work for at least 20 years, so I definitely want to love it. Also the reason why I don’t want to rush into making the decision of what to do. I don’t want to do extra schooling for something that I’m not excited about! So happy for you to have found something you are so good at and love!
I am noticing a marine biologist passion with a lot of us :). Leah, I’d be curious to hear more about how you decided to do what you are doing? Are you an ultra sound tech? Thanks for the reminder that God WILL lead me on my journey if I keep my heart open.
Thanks so much for your sweet and insightful comment. Fun to hear more about your journey. You are juggling a lot right now, and I bet that you are doing a great job with it! Thanks for the reminder to be okay with failure. I have a hard time with that sometimes, and it is important to remember that it is all part of the journey.

Katrina - March 4, 2013 - 8:14 pm

U of O doesn’t have a library sciences program. They are pretty few and far between. I think the nearest is in Seattle at UW. Anyway, I’m still several years away from committing to anything.

Meaghan - March 4, 2013 - 8:21 pm

When I think of you, I think of a life coach. You are doing that now really…you could education young minds or those young at heart about a number of things: nutrition, fashion, etiquette, morals, exercise…the list goes on.
My grandmother taught illiterate adults how to read. She travelled to Italy and taught night classes. She did this with family in tow. We still use the spaghetti recipe she obtained from a student there.

Kris - March 4, 2013 - 9:02 pm

Katrina-There is a library science program at one of the private Portland colleges…Lewis and Clark maybe and they offer online classes. My friend was taking Masters level classes there.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with being noncommittal. A career move every five years or so would be awesome! Our modern focus on intense specialization is crazy making and leaves those of us with many passions and interests feeling compromised. Also, compensation systems can disincentivize stretching into new territory. I am also concerned at the lack of perspective and loss of opportunity to make connections when one focuses on the micro.

I don’t think it is too late to be all of those things Kara.

Kara - March 8, 2013 - 8:20 pm

You are a sweetie. I want to come see the babe some time!!
It’s true. I think it was generations of old who worked the same job for 35 years. It will be interesting to see, though, how retirement works out for all of us, or if we keep on working doing something that we love!

The Sock-ness Monster

There is seriously a monster that must come into our house at night who eats one of each pair of socks. We have serious issues over here when it comes to losing socks. I have finally resorted to trying to buy mostly the same sock for each person, but I still feel like socks are […]

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Adrienne W - February 22, 2013 - 11:35 am

Happens to us, too. I don’t have any great first hand experience to solve the problem, but I keep a small basket to pu spare socks in and periodically I go through and most of them end up finding their partners eventually. I have heard a good suggestions that I keep meaning to try: Get a mesh lingerie laundry bag for each person and have them put their dirty socks right into the bag when they take them off. Then you zip up the bag and put them straight into the wash. Sounds like a good solution if you can get everyone to put their dirty socks in the bag. I find socks all over the house.

Kelly - February 22, 2013 - 2:16 pm

We seem to have the worst problems with the littlest socks so that forced us into the habit of putting those into a mesh bag, like Adrienne suggested. Each bag has a loop and a snap so you can attach it to the hamper and we keep one at each hamper. It doesn’t matter whose socks go in the bag, as long as they go in as pairs. It works really well if you can get the socks in there. We’ve resorted to putting bags in a lot of places and most socks end up in one.

Elisa - February 22, 2013 - 8:52 pm

I have a laundry basket that is devoted to socks. I put all socks and underwear in the basket when I remove them from the dryer and I fold them about once a week. Don’t seem to loose many socks :)

kara - February 24, 2013 - 5:10 pm

Okay, so it is sounding like the laundry bags are the way to go? I may need them in like 5 locations in my house. Actually, if I had one right by the door, that would probably help a lot. Let’s see if I can make improvement in this area. It feels lame to have to keep spending money on socks!