Discipline Round-Up

Ah, the art and science of disciplining children. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for many years, long before marriage and Lucy. As an education major, we talked about different “classroom management” and discipline approaches quite a bit. I nannied a ton for about five years, and then of course taught in the classroom for four. But really, parenting and practicing discipline? It takes the cake. You don’t have the luxury of choosing the age you feel most able to discipline effectively…you’ve got all the ages and all the stages. You can’t defer to their parents or hand them off at the end of the day because…you are the parent.

So I thought I’d pull together a few resources on discipline that I’ve been pondering over the past year, particularly now that Lucy is rearing her little will more than ever, and this is only 14.5 months of life. I fully realize there are as many shades of parenting styles and disciplining as there are personalities. I’m not here to laud one over the rest or condemn any; I’m just sharing what has helped me to see child-rearing as a bigger picture rather than getting bogged down by the moments and the crazy amounts of patience required.


I’ve talked briefly before about our research into the philosophy and ideas behind Montessori and their discipline approach. I like a lot of it, but it still leaves a lot of practical holes for me. I’d love to sit in a toddler Montessori classroom in action and actually see what the teachers do to respond to tantrums, non-compliance, disregard for safety, hitting/any form of aggression, etc.. This Montessori teacher had some super helpful hints about daily discipline. I especially liked her advice to not tack on “ok?” to the end of requests or commands (e.g. “It’s time to put your toys away, ok?”).

Gentle Discipline:

This may sound ineffective, but isn’t it really the approach God takes with his sinful human creations? It’s similar to Montessori in that it’s based on logical consequences to misbehavior. This post has some good ideas and advice about how to use it with your kids. It also involves no spanking. Big debate in the parenting world, right? Tom and I have had several conversations about this over the past couple years, and we both agree that we don’t want spanking as part of our regular arsenal of discipline techniques. We were both spanked as children, and while not at all scarred by the experience, we both firmly remember not learning anything about correcting our behavior, just being angry and ashamed by the spanking. Plus, most parents tend to spank as a reaction, out of impatience or anger, and that’s not a teaching moment. It’s a tough choice. I know many parents who occasionally spank and don’t do it angrily, they actually wait and do it calmly. But it still seems like such an illogical answer to the misbehavior, like, “Ok, so ten minutes ago you pulled half the hair out of your sister’s head. So now I’m going to take a wooden spoon and swat your bum.” Not much of a connection, especially for little ones who can’t reason yet anyway.

Catholic Authors/Others:

I have liked lots of posts by Leila Lawler about child-rearing on her blog, especially this one. (Maybe not the spanking…I don’t know…see above). She has a very no-nonsense approach yet isn’t harsh. She gives some great, practical tips, and actual things to do and say in given situations. I always find examples like that helpful.

I’ve leafed through Greg Popcak’s Parenting with Grace, and would like to read the whole thing. As a psychologist, he has down-to-earth tips, and as a devout Catholic, adds parenting with the faith in mind.

Tom and I skimmed through Simplicity Parenting last fall, and there are some solid ideas there about parenting with a back to basics style (i.e. get rid of so much junk! Play with your kids and let them be kids!).

Tom’s dad sent us several of Jim Stenson’s easily readable little books on parenting a while ago. They were helpful in thinking about parenting and discipline as a personal family philosophy (the why behind all the whats of parenting).


So that’s what we’ve been thinking and reading about so far, but we have lots to learn! What are your favorite resources on discipline?


The Sacred and Profane

The true, the good, and the beautiful. Here we go!

(A Five Favorites post).


I have been reading all the buzz around the internet about Leila Lawler’s new book, The Little Oratory. The drawings were done by her daughter and our friend Deirdre, whose husband worked at Tom’s school. We finally ordered the book a few weeks ago, and it’s lovely. It also came at the perfect time, since we are starting fresh with planning out the layout of our new home, and now we’re really excited to include our own little oratory in the family room. The authors give a good overview of the liturgical life of the Church and then break it down into practical and do-able tips for incorporating that into family life. Highly recommend!


Tom got me this book for Mother’s Day, which has been perfect for the mornings (uh..every one) when I only have a minute or two to reflect. I love the format: a quote or small meditation from a saint, a short prayer, and an idea for a concrete action for the day.


Ok, here comes the frivolity. This sea salt spray looks awesome! I’m not in love with the price tag, but still. We’ve come to the conclusion that the only possible time for me to shower this coming year is at night, so this stuff will probably help if I can spray it in at night and throw my hair up.


And for some dorky home organization: I found that by using the Preview program on the Mac, I can take the pictures of our future kitchen and pre-organize where every single thing will go. Slightly neurotic, slightly amazing. I just click a text box over the area I want to label, and voila! I now have every drawer, cabinet, and shelf space labeled so that when we move in, we (and our pack of amazing helpers, whoever they may be), will know exactly where everything goes. And then we won’t have to guess for the first 4 weeks we live there.

kitchen front

Just a peek at my craziness


I also got much of my inspiration for good kitchen flow/organization from iHeart Organizing blog, which also has tons of other home inspiration and DIY ideas.


And this one isn’t really a favorite so much as a request: what are the best (free, of course) contraction timer apps out there?? There are so many to choose from, so suggestions would be welcomed! I just want to be prepared (unlike last time, which was before I had any sort of portable smart device, and instead tried to time contractions on a website while lugging my MacBook. Guess how that went). We hit the 37 week mark yesterday, AKA: full-term, sapping energy, and tons o’ muscle aches. BUT, we’re trying to make sure baby doesn’t even think about coming until June 27, which is when Tom has two weeks off between summer camps. Timing is everything, tiny bebe, so get it right. 🙂



Four Ways to Stay Sharp after Baby– at Verily Magazine!

I’ve been such a big fan of Verily magazine since they began, and was so sad they had to stop the print magazine. The articles are always so engaging, informative, and well-written, plus the graphics and photography are top-notch. So I’m thrilled that they just published a little piece I wrote on ways to keep your brain active after you’ve had a baby. 


Shortly after having my first baby, I came across dozens of mommy self-help articles online. Most of them focused on things like how to avoid dressing frumpy, how to eat quick-and-healthy meals, how to get back into an exercise regime, and how to keep your marriage strong. While these are all good concepts, something important was missing: how to keep your brain alert and your intelligence afloat postpartum.

(Read the rest here…)

The New Abode

Now that we are officially homeowners (still so strange!!), the real excitement begins: decorating and making the house a home with our own flavor. We have about two months until move-in, so that we can adjust to life with two under two while still under my ever-helpful parents’ roof. In the meantime, I’m starting to get crazy with Pinterest, Craigslist and a bunch of design websites, like Apartment Therapy and Design Sponge. The house is, thankfully, in almost move-in ready condition, we just have a few minor safety concerns to fix up, and a few walls to paint, and the rest will be all the fun and games of arranging furniture and making it cozy.

Behold, our new dwelling!

Raised beds, ready to go!

Raised beds, ready to go!

kitchen back

Tiny kitchen, but it’s all very nicely updated so we’ll survive 🙂


See what I mean about walls to paint? This gaudy blue is in the dining room, the hall bath, AND the master bedroom! And it sucks up all the gorgeous light from the many windows.


Big great room/living room


…with the most odd fireplace ever. We’re going to paint it white and install some kind of cover or bookshelf in front, because the pointy copper cover is riiiight at toddler-head level.

Big ol' backyard

Big ol’ backyard– hopefully future home to all the crunchy things– chickens, bees, more garden beds… 🙂

And then the upstairs is comprised of three bedrooms and a bathroom. Simple, small, and perfect for a starter home, we say. And providentially, I happened to meet a bunch of women last month at a discussion group who all live in this neighborhood, within blocks of us. They go to the church nearby, have bunches of children, and have tons of connections with us since the Northern VA Catholic world is small. It never ceases to amaze me! We’re excited to finally live in a real neighborhood, especially since this house is on a nice, safe, cul-de-sac.

St. Joseph really delivered on this one! Can’t wait to share after pictures once we’ve moved in, unpacked a little, and inserted a few more pieces of furniture (when you double your square footage, your seemingly large pile of possessions suddenly looks…sparse). Now I’m off to continue stalking Craigslist for the perfect end tables…

Back from the Dead!

Well, after the previous cheery post about recovering from illness without OTC meds, I proceeded to come down with the worst sinus infection of my life. Let’s just say pregnancy has a way of magnifying even normal illnesses, and draaaagging them out, because the ole immune system is non-existent. All the garlic, cod liver oil, vitamin C/D/A, etc all go…to the baby! So I was miserable for another entire week, popping many a Tylenol and then eventually a prescription steroid nasal spray. I made it through, and still managed not to need antibiotics, though I was tempted. Very tempted. I just know it would’ve made the whole lowered immune system thing much worse in the end.

Also, as I began to emerge from the foggy cave filled with endless tissues (I cannot tell you HOW MANY BOXES I went through) and pounding headaches/toothaches, the weather became so amazing. We had a great day last Saturday visiting the family farm of one of Tom’s students. The grandparents own an amazing 90 acre plot with not one, but two homes on it, several ponds, a huge pool, and just endless fun for kids, or babies who think they’re one of the big kids. Lucy had a blast between the two dogs, the gravel driveway, and the sopping wet pool toys (though she strongly refused to go in), and her first ice cream popsicle. I took zero pictures, because if I wasn’t frantically running after Miss I-Don’t-Care-If-I-Never-See-You-Again, I was furiously blowing my nose. But it was gorgeous and sunny and fun. And on the way home, we got this double stroller!


It was $50, and the family used it once. In Disneyland. It’s normally $170 new, soooo we hit the jackpot. Thank you, Craigslist.

In other exciting news, we are officially done house hunting!! Praise the Lord. And thank you for all the prayers. We are closing on a house today and will move into it at the beginning of August. At which point we will have TWO children. It has just recently, as in the last two days, hit us that this baby could be born within 3 weeks. Now, I’m not quite sure, because I’m measuring two weeks behind, but that may just mean baby’s smaller. Also, baby is stubbornly stuck in the right posterior position, which means the body is facing outwards instead of towards my back. That explains why I feel the strangest, most surprising/weird movements in there, and not kicks. I’m doing whatever I can to get the child to turn like a corkscrew, because posterior labors are labors from hell, and are more likely to end in interventions. Turn, baby!

And now some photographic evidence of the big sister herself, whose new favorite word is no, pronounced, “naw-oh!” in perfect whiny pitch. Heaven help us.

The most patriotic of babies

The most patriotic of babies

Filling up the pool

Filling up the pool

Step 1: Scream "naw-oh!!" as parents try to put you in pool Step 2: Acquiesce to sit on step of pool, only after Papa has filled with .25 inches of warm tap water Step 3: Realize water is fun. Proceed to get in, splash, and play for next 1.5 hours.

Step 1: Scream “naw-oh!!” as parents try to put you in pool
Step 2: Acquiesce to sit on step of pool, only after Papa has filled with .25 inches of warm tap water
Step 3: Realize water is fun. Proceed to get in, splash, and play for next 1.5 hours.

Everyone needs a foam sticker on the cheek

Everyone needs a foam sticker on the cheek