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Happy Anniversary, Hither & Thither!

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Eight years ago today, Aron and I started writing Hither & Thither—and there have been over 1700 posts since. I can hardly believe that number! Each year, I like to take a look back and remember all that has happened—it’s just convenient that it happens to fall around the same time as the New Year!

Because so much of the content is drawn from our family life, there’s a special joy in going through each post and appreciating all we’ve done. There have been some incredible highs!

At the same time, I confess that this year has been one of the toughest for the site. There have been major backend problems the past ten months, and there have been many times I wanted to just throw in the towel. The push from advertisers for more and more input into native advertising, while understandable, is also something that has increasingly presented a challenge—to all bloggers, I imagine—as one tries to balance a need for compensation and the desire for new business challenges with authenticity. My answer at the end of the year was to move away from the practice of sponsored posts entirely, but I’m still trying to figure out the best, most transparent solution.

I worked with more contributors and reached out for more help this year, and it was awesome to be collaborating with others on something that—since Aron stopped writing it with me a few years ago—has been largely a solo endeavor. I’m grateful, in particular, to Alexis, Anna, Sarah, and Nicolette for their help at various times this year.

Most of all I’m grateful to those of you who keep reading and who keep commenting. I read every comment and try my best to reply. The conversations that happen after a post are the reward, and I feel lucky when they spark.

Thank you so much for reading and making it possible.

Here are some highlights from the past year! (Warning: these are always such long posts—but I can’t help it!)

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Replacing nap time with quiet time

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Just after Skyler was born, we began replacing Hudson’s nap time with quiet time. Until we made the switch, he would still fall asleep most afternoons, but only after 45-minutes or so of protestations—and I’d find myself waking him up, warm and groggy (and often grumpy) around 5pm. At bedtime, he would easily stay up until 8:30 and then chat to himself quietly until 9pm. In hindsight, I can’t believe I didn’t give up on naps sooner!

As hard as it was for me to let go, I knew it was time to stop requiring he sleep. So one day I announced we would have a new set of rules: I would set a timer—we used the same “OK to Wake Clock” that we use for every morning–for an 60 minutes, and he could bring any books or toys into his bed with him to read quietly. Looking back, I was still hopeful he would just fall asleep—given the chance. I kept the lights dim and put him in a pull-up (like the one he wears overnight). And the first few weeks were rough: it was as if he were jet-lagged. I wanted to go back on the plan so badly! He, on the other hand, was thrilled he wouldn’t have to fall asleep and easily passed the hour devouring books.

He would sometimes still fall asleep, but mostly he would play independently. At first we had rules about what he could do, but eventually did away with those.

As the months passed, I stopped expecting him to maybe fall asleep, and made it as bright as possible. I started to see the value in his coming up with freeplay activities and would let him play with whatever he liked as long as he wasn’t loud. And once he was out of diapers, he could come and go freely to use the bathroom. It was actually a relief once I let go of the hope that he would fall asleep. I don’t walk him to his room or go through a routine, tip-toeing away; instead it’s simply “time for quiet-time!”

Two years later, at age five, he still has a quiet-time almost every day. He usually comes out a few times to show me what he’s working on, and I don’t keep a timer in his room; but I think it’s a good chance for him to have to entertain himself. I often hear him counting and singing the songs he learned in school and I feel like he’s getting a chance to process the day. It’s also a nice break for me, particularly if it’s timed to Skyler’s nap.

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Skyler is almost the same age as Hudson was when he stopped napping and seems to be okay skipping a nap a few times a week. We alternately tell her it’s a day for “sleepytime” or “quiet-time.” So I imagine the end is near. I wonder, will I keep them separate so that she too might get the value of some play time alone? Or let them play together—but still without an adult to steer them?

How did you make the transition away from naptimes? Some parents have introduced quiet time with a dedicated box of activities and toys—reserved just for that hour. If you institute a quiet-time, what has worked best for you? How did you adjust bedtime?

P.S. Toilet learning, how to pick a preschool, and some of my favorite parenting books. (Also, funny sidenote: I only remember all the details of this so well because I wrote a draft about it 2-1/2 years ago—and forgot to publish it!)


Snowstorms (& Friday Links)

Lake Tahoe - Ashley Muir Bruhn - Hither and Thither-1

As you might have heard, California has been getting some much-needed water lately! Unfortunately, despite my happiness for the state and our reservoirs, it hasn’t been easy on us personally. It was a tough week as our cabin bore the brunt of two major snowstorms with warm rains in between. The Sierras got over 12 feet of snow in just a few days, closing the ski resorts and the highways in light of blizzard conditions. A tree fell on our cabin’s roof (thankfully no-one was hurt and the damage is minimal, considering); and the water table has risen so dramatically that we’re having flooding issues on the basement level that we’re still working to resolve. As I write this, the power continues to be out and we’re headed up to ensure that the temperatures don’t drop too low for the water pipes. It’s been a crazy storm! I’ve been sharing some photos on Instagram.

Still, there was plenty else to be distracted by this week. Some very good, some very bad. I’ve shared some links that are notable to me, below. What have you been reading lately?

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