15 Month Alexandra

My baby has changed so much in the 3 months since her first birthday.

New developments:

She took her her first consecutive steps at 14 months and is now a pro, toddling all over the place, up and down the stairs without supervision and with only one minor tumble. If I let her, she would walk the sidewalk in front of our house endlessly. (But only the downhill side. I can’t seem to help her understand that she can turn around and walk the other way too. She must be one track minded like me.) It’s a full time job supervising a fast toddler in town, but fresh air and a good walk are always worth it for both of us.

Imitation is a new development. She does so many things we have never intentionally taught her, from talking with a phone to her ear, wiping the floor and other surfaces with a rag, and more. Her little brain is so open to information right now. I can show her something new only a few times, and she’ll remember. Things like where her nose, ears, mouth are and how old she is. She says “ONE” emphatically, holding up her little pointer finger. 

Speaking of teeth: she managed to turn one year old without any, but in the next six weeks, she popped a whopping SEVEN through swollen gums. She’s a trooper. And so am I as a matter of fact, but the fact that her entire life has been intense and full of challenges, teething has actually seemed like another ordinary step in the road. I guess that’s a good thing! 😀

For her rocky record, she has been sleeping much better at night. I can rarely get her to bed early, possibly from habit of being synced with her parents’ later bedtime, but after that, she’s been doing 4-5 hour stretches, which feels glorious. At one year old, she had only slept an 8 hour stretch once that I can remember, but she did it twice in the last seven days! I’ll never regret attachment parenting, but seeing my baby mature and change naturally, outgrow restless sleep, and choose independence… it is good for my soul and so worth it. 

I’ll never stop being perplexed at the intense growth and changes kids go through. Sometimes it takes 15 minutes to feed and put her to sleep. Other times it takes 3 hours like the other night. No joke. I only wish she had the words to tell me what’s wrong. She was deliriously tired, but could not go to sleep. Bouncing, playing in the crib, lying next to me, getting her legs rubbed, being fed again. Eventually she just screamed and acted in pain. At nearly 1 am, she finally slept for a five hour stretch only to repeat the screaming episode. I’m suspicious she had acid reflux, but it’s a mystery. Parenting is intense, but such an honor.

My girl is completely weaned from breast milk, but thriving on goat milk. Now that she has some teeth, I’m hoping she’ll become more interested in food. She eats some of my eggs some mornings, but often shakes her head no when offered food and mostly plays with it when I let her take the reins. (utensils)

Things I’m learning:

There are so many things I love about our daughter. Toddlerhood (and really all stages I guess) is so much about perspective. If I judge my daughter by the moments when she’s having an emotional meltdown or smacks me in the face, I would think I have such a “bad” child. But if I look at the many valuable things that are growing and she is taking on with gentle direction, I am amazed at the beautiful things that spontaneously come out of her sweet spirit. Identity over behavior. It sounds so simple, but I’m not sure why humans tend to complicate things. We like to have control and have predictable plans and outcomes, but the Kingdom, much less parenting, does not work that way. If we try to make it work that way, “good” results are not sustainable. 

Kids are just mini adults and truly struggle with the same things we do. I’m not interested in creating an obedient robot; I’m interested in teaching the art of good choices like self control and kindness, through example and joint problem solving. That’s the kind of eternal things that will make a smooth(er) transition into adulthood, when faced with the same challenges, simply on a larger scale. I am learning with her, to be honest.

Favorite Alexandra things: 

Hands down, her kisses. Ever since she learned to blow kisses, I was mesmerized. That little palm and kissing sound…it’s too much. She figured out how to kiss us on the face within a day, and we can never get enough. A lot of babies do the open mouth slobber thing, but she has the actual kiss down, sound effect and all. We never force physical affection so she learns about personal space and the option to reject touch she’s not comfortable with, but we do adore the spontaneous hugs and kisses and always make a big deal out of it. She praises herself and claps with the biggest smile on her face. She has kissed her teddy and even her reflection in the mirror. It’s the sweetest.

Her words. We always try to listen and agree and respond in some way when she goes off on a jabbering spree. It’s interesting to watch how validated and understood she feels when we do it, even if we technically don’t know what she is saying. My husband always says, “Talk to Daddy. Use your words,” when she’s randomly screaming or throwing a fit. It might seem silly if she can’t form words we understand in the English language, but when he looks her in the eyes, she does usually switch her tune and begin to talk dramatically and seriously about her feelings. Connection is a universal language. He listens and agrees. “That’s so much better! Good job.” She feels better and is pleased. I love watching my husband be a loving father.

Her silky hair. I’ve trimmed it out of her eyes twice, so I don’t have to rely on bows that get pulled out at some point anyways. 

Hearing her call for me after a nap. It’s a progression from random squawks and talking to herself to all out yells. That final (loud!) shriek lets me know my quiet time is officially over. I always smile to myself, walking up the stairs, anticipating the smile and tousled hair of my snuggly toddler. “Did you have a good nap?” (She usually shakes her head no, but that’s her general response to every question.) I reach for the outstretched wiggling fingers, and it’s a requirement to retrieve Teddy too. It’s the best moment.

I was sure I wanted a boy, but I clearly wasn’t aware of the gift I would get. 

©Brenda Kanagy


What Matters More Than Your Child’s Behavior

If you’re a mom, I’m sure you’ve been there. You’ve felt your face get red hot as your child loudly begged for a toy in the store as other shoppers looked on out of the corner of their eyes. You’ve felt the shame creep up your neck when your offspring hit another child or said something disrespectful in public. 

Even if no was was judging you, you were judging you. 

The eyes of onlookers seemed to bore into your back as you fumbled to make it right or do the correct “parent thing” on behalf of your small human.

What they didn’t know was that it was twenty minutes past nap time, and lunch was still to be eaten. They didn’t know that you had been up a million times with the baby or the toddler who had a nightmare or just wanted to be close to you. They didn’t know that everyone, including yourself, just needed a nap and some extra care. Most importantly, they didn’t know that the same child who was now violently throwing his head back in protest at the unfairness of life in the grocery isle had also wrapped his sticky arms around your neck with,”I love you. You’re my best mom,” at breakfast that morning.

You’re right: They don’t know. But you do. 

So what’s really bothering you, mama?

Let’s get these facts: They don’t need to know. You do. Others may judge you, (who knows) but you are your worst critic. The war is actually inside yourself. 

Even if you’re the only one who knows the missing elements from that dramatic public episode, it’s not they who need to be informed. You’re the one needing the reminder, and you’re definitely the one who needs to believe it. Because you are the mom, and you are giving life to these humans every single day. 

Somehow kids expose every inch of selfishness and pride wrapping its tenicles around our hearts. We know deep in our hearts that our kids are not the sum of the behavior they pull out in public. Somehow it still bothers us that they don’t know, but that’s just the point: they don’t know. 

Strangers are not qualified to accurately assess the life lessons being learned in your home. They certainly aren’t there for the long nights and cuddles and living room forts, much less the breaking point stress moments. They haven’t invested, so don’t give their input (imaginary or real) a platform in your mind. They don’t know. But you do!

Don’t let someone who only witnesses two seconds of your child’s behavior become a voice in your head, judging the big picture. Leave that to your spouse, your closest friends and your trusted mentors- your “lifers:” the ones in it with you for the long haul. The ones who not only share in your victories, but also walk through the dark pit of discouragement with you. 

Children are such good gauges of our spirit connection, and I have to say, 95% of the time, my daughter’s anger is a reflection of my anger, my frustrated reaction, or my lack of presence and patience.

Yes, there are times of random outbursts over a frustration when she can’t figure something out, for example, but such anger is usually dispelled by a gentle response and some loving, patient, and confidant direction or redirection. Making a big deal about the behavior at this stage usually only fuels the exasperation, heightening my frustration and making it a battle of wills that no one wins. 

I’ll admit I haven’t hit the stage of grand maul tantrums, but my toddler has definitely started exercising her little will, and I want to tell you a story.
The other week, I was trying to clean my house in a mad rush, and I got frustrated at my daughter for repeatedly trying to stick her hands in the toilet water while I was cleaning it. “Just STOP IT!” I said her name harshly and swatted her cloth diapered  bum. It didn’t hurt her through the thick diaper, but it sure provoked her. She threw her head back and screamed angrily like I have never seen. I knew instantly that I had gone wrong. 

Wow, Bren, how imature. Get it together! My connection with my child is more important than this clean toilet right now. 

She continued wailing while I took my supplies downstairs to give myself a moment to regroup. When I came back, she was waiting at the top of the stairs her little arms outstretched, wiggling her fingers in a “get me” gesture. I put aside the powerful turmoil of wanting to feel productive or accomplished and aligned my soul with love instead.

My response is more important than my child’s behavior in this moment.

There is time for the practical life stuff like scrubbing toilets, but it can’t come before the eternal stuff. This was eternal.  

She instantly went into my arms, and reciprocated my affection, forgiving me for my previous reaction. I held her close, and we sat together for a while.  

So yes, that was me last week finally experiencing first hand what it’s like to be that mom of a wiggly, noisy baby, having a hungry, overdue nap meltdown in a restaurant booth. Even Baby Einstein clips weren’t postponing the drama and restlessness. 

It was not pleasant, but I thought: so this is what it’s like? My baby is a little out of control right now, but you know what? It’s just a moment in time. I’m sorry if we are disturbing others around us, but shame is not my motivator. I’ll be patient. I’ll be kind. I’ll be fun. I’ll be confident. I’m a good mom, and we’ll get through this temporary moment in public just like we do at home. And it’s ok if I don’t get to enjoy my entree like I wanted to. 

I am showing her the art of choosing and teaching her to manage her emotions by doing it myself, and it is worth the time.

You and I have it in us to parent like Jesus gently parents us. He is so safe- so patient. His love is far deeper than our worst moments. It has life changing effects on our own parenting.

Yes, what you know, and how you respond matters more than your child’s behavior.

©Brenda Kanagy

One Year Antics

Baby girl is not walking, but she stands up by herself without assistance or support and often holds a squat. She also figured out how to back down steps since she learned to crawl them what seems like just last week.

Last week I decided that it might be time to back off the supervision and leave the steps open. She’s really good on steps, but I still envision her losing her balance and ending up in the ER. When does a parent decide their child has mastered a skill? No matter how prepared someone is, accidents still happen, and freaking out won’t make it less likely. I also noticed that my hovering sometimes made her more unsafe because her adrenaline rose and my presence broke her focus. What a life lesson.  I decided to give it a try one day, and she did great! I watched out of the corner of my eye some, but mostly just let her roam, much to her pleasure. It’s a mental choice to let go of fear. But I did it, and we’re breezing it like that frustrating blocked steps phase never happened. Secretly, we’re both happier this way. I told myself that there will always be risks, but that can’t hold me back. She spends a lot of time on the steps since, but ironically, freedom rather removed the novelty the blockades provided her, and she still comes back down frequently to be near me. It actually elimated a lot of stress for me, not having to carry her with me or leave her downstairs for a few minutes while I ran upstairs. 

Funny quirks:

For several months she’s had this pointing habit. She’ll point at me or her  dad or someone she likes from across the room and do a head nod/chin lift and say “Ahh” as an acknowledgement. We started this cute game where she touches her pointer finger to mine.(Fun in the dirt !)

I don’t know if it’s part of sensory discovery or what, but she loves to head butt people for fun. Sometimes she playfully head butts objects or furniture, and when she gets mad she bonks her head on the floor, which usually follows with “WHYYY me, Mom?” wails. “Life is unfair.” Or at least that is my interpretation. 🙂She loves to be goofy and scream and giggle with her grandma. When her dad has been gone for work extra much and she is all wired up to the emotional meltdown stage, warm daddy hugs calm her down like even I can’t in those moments. Don’t we all just need our daddy?It tickles me when she wrinkles her nose and puckers her lips into goofy expressions or copycats sounds we make. 

Our favorite book to read together is Usborne’s Animally. We love the flap or finger trail books for traveling, but this one is clever and endearing. It has the educational factor with the adverb use in each line, but also the loving, affectionate  tone, perfect for bedtime or after nap snuggles. The beautiful picture illustrations are wonderful too. I posted a fun video on YouTube of us reading it together last night.

I can’t forget my favorite: Sometimes in a desperate traveling moment I pull out Baby Einstein clips for distraction. She really latched on to the scene where the puppets are learning the punch line of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. She loved it, and since then sings, “Da Da Da Da” in the actual tune, randomly throughout the day or when encouraged. She immediately picks it out when I play the origional classical piece and gets all awwed and excited at the magestic bass notes. We love our smart, beautiful, funny girl!

@Brenda Kanagy 

Alexandra Turns One

Today one year ago, my world was changed forever when I met Alexandra Honor for the first time. After 18 hours of labor, I was so shocked to be holding the live baby that I had felt move inside me for the better part of 2015. 
Baby girl, parenthood took me for a wild ride as I physically cared for you and bonded with you in the first year, as you grew and changed and overcame obstacles. But now, you are old enough to laugh and smile and be silly and comprehend disappointment and reciprocate affection. Now you are old enough to be my friend, and it’s so special getting to know you in this new way.You are one special girl. No official walking just yet, but you pull yourself up along furniture, and learned to crawl steps like a wild girl just like that! You scared your dad and I so badly last week when you quietly slipped away in seconds while we were distracted and climbed the entire flight of stairs when it wasn’t blacked. I found you in our bedroom closet pleased, as punch with yourself. I love seeing you happy. I absolutely love seeing your delight as you claim new territory. You clap and kick your little feet like its the greatest thing ever, and it is. However, for my sake we are investing in baby gates. Never stop taking risks, but take it easy on Mom and Dad some too. You have your Daddy’s blue eyes. You love swaying and waving your hands to worship music. I learn from you, and sometimes when it’s a tough moment for both of us, we both calm down and get new perspective with the sound.You are a confirmation of redemption, a love gift to your dad and I. But besides that, you have your own destiny, pre-planned before time. As you learn and grow in independence and experience God for yourself, we’ll support you, but we’ll always be right here if you need us.Your name means “protector of mankind,” and I can see that it will be true even with your natural spunk. I pray God develops your gifts so they are walked out with honor, true to your name.

You are strong and kind and powerful. We love you very much. Happy Birthday, Baby. 

©Brenda Kanagy

To My Daughter On Mother’s Day

Oh, Baby, it’s been over nine months. Nine months since your slippery body left one world and came into another.

I didn’t comprehend how intensely hard it would be. I didn’t fathom how much a body could endure and recover from. I didn’t expect it to take so long to get my strength back or to not hurt, much less feel like a whole, fully functioning, emotionally healthy woman. I didn’t anticipate the identity crisis with body image- emotionally, sexually, and even spiritually. 

I’m still learning to take care of myself. Being a mom exposes my deepest flaws- my impatience, fears, my selfishness, but  also my pride in not giving myself enough grace and rest. I realize that all I want for you begins with all I overcome and receive for myself. I have never been more aware of my need for the constant presence of Jesus, not only to sustain me for the challenges, but to find fulfillment and sheer joy in.

Before you came, I suspected the hardest physical  change (longer term) to accept would be lack of sleep, and it was true. You came into my life with bright eyes and a beautiful heart, but with the seeming inability to give in to effortless sleep. I’ve adapted, but there are some days it’s extra hard. Like last night: Mother’s Day Eve. How ironic. Nothing I did could get you to settle. 

Were you still hungry? Are you not gaining weight because you aren’t getting enough? Why do you keep waking up? Why are you whimpering? Do you want comfort? Ok, lay safely next to me. No? Ok, it’s a burp. You finally sleep, and I should too. But instead I have mixed emotions. My first Mother’s Day weekend with you on the outside was actually one of the hardest mothering moments. Too little sleep, teething, social events, and just…coming to grips with the hard and the beautiful again. 

In my short life, I’ve discovered that money and kids are probably two of the biggest reasons couples fall apart. In our birth classes, we learned that babies have the potential to break or make a relationship. The statistics show that only 19% showed an improved relationship post-baby. Your dad and I made a promise to be in that number, and we fight for it every day. Not just for ourselves, but for you. I think what makes the difference is not the hardship; many things in life are hard. Parenthood tests your foundation and your commitment, but most importantly, if you let it, it expands your love.

I don’t tell you all these things so you feel unwanted. I tell you because I want you to know you are worth it. It was worth it the first moment I held your soft body against my chest. Through sobs leftover from the pain and adrenaline of crowning and birth, my first words were, “She is so beautiful!” I was in complete shock and completely enraptured at the miracle I was touching for the first time after 9 long months of carrying you. I watched in awe as the protective vernix absorbed and disappeared into your skin as a moisturizer on its own. I smelled your head and touched your black hair and tiny fingers. 

You were terrifyingly incredible and so very real for the first time. I didn’t know how to handle such a gift. Sometimes I still don’t, but now you are familiar. I know your little quirks and silly shrieks when I tickle your belly. I know that you like having your back stroked just like me. That was all that settled you to sleep a minute ago. 

There are so many things I don’t know. That’s parenthood! I don’t think I’ll ever have it all figured out, but we’re on this adventure together, and it is beautiful. We’ll discover so many treasures along the way. You are a mighty world changer, and I will do my best to call that out of you.

Happy Mother’s Day to my daughter. You have changed me forever, and I’m deeply grateful. I’m so glad you aren’t the boy I thought I wanted, because Alexandra Honor is better than my dreams. I love you fiercely, and always will. 

©Brenda Kanagy

7 months!

  Somehow amidst the upheaval of being homeless for the time being, my daughter is now over the half year timeline. (Ok, we are only between homes until our house is move-in ready, not homeless. But you get the point of how unsettled it feels.)  I hate not being settled in our own home to lull the winter away with my growing daughter, especially since her dad’s job is keeping him away overnight a lot right now. I feel like I literally can almost not wait for structure and calm in our house, but I am trying to enjoy the present with Baby regardless. Little Lady sure gets around on her tummy, but it’s still not forward very often. She is fast at backing and going in circles, but no official crawling yet. Her legs are getting stronger with assisted standing, and she does well with sitting by herself now, with occasional face plants and tumbles. She can go in circles while seated too.   It’s amazing how much her skills have developed since we moved. Baby is in such an explorative stage. It’s all about new textures, shapes, and colors. Her baby toys don’t hold her interest as long, and she loves new things to chew on and play with. I just bought her an old fashioned wooden rattle (with a beeswax finish) that she likes to gnaw on.  She’s a petite little thing. Her younger niece and nephew have far surpassed her in belly and thigh chubs, but her legs are long! She’s so fun to hold the rare times she gets in a snuggly mood. She has a nice amount of hair, and her blue eyes are lovelier than ever. Alex has switched from her gargling noise habit to “MAMAMAMAMA.” I like to think she’s saying my name, but I’m pretty sure she’s just exploring new sounds. We hit a teething curveball the last month(s), and this mama has been dealing with way less sleep than I would have thought to be humanely possible pre-motherhood.  I could say so much about the emotional and mental struggle and growth that I’m priveledged to have from these challenging days and nights, but my heart gets rather introverted and quiet when I try to process it on this platform. There are so many formulas and ideas and cookie-cutter opinions swirling around out there about parenthood, and I find myself feeling really alone- like the odd one out as I “feel out” my own journey differently than anything I’ve known or seen.

I badly want to be a mother worthy of hosting Jesus, and I daily struggle to quiet the voices and find my security and direction solely from the voice of God for the everyday parenting responsibilities. This might all sound too formal to apply to the life of a teething, pooping, cooing infant, but these years are so short, yet so worthy of intentional, divine inspiration.   She won’t always want my physical comfort. She won’t always pee in diapers. She will only be 7 months once. I don’t want to miss this important opportunity to love her and find God in the moments with her because I’m too rushed or ready for her to move beyond the physically demanding stage. How incredibly short-sighted and selfish. The struggle is so temporary, but the reward so eternal.   She was given as a gift- a miracle. I love you, Baby Alexandra Honor. I am the honored one to love you and care for you. Happy 7&1/2 months!

©Brenda Kanagy



I’ve been in shock that the amount of whole months Alexandra Honor has been born already takes up one hand. Time is going so fast. It’s probably the most cliche thing I’ve heard from parents, but I’m finding it incredibly true.

I think love and friendship should be developed over a lifetime, but parenthood is one example of fast love. It seems to multiply overnight, and what has only been a short part of my life so far seems like it was never any other way.

Alex is quite the charmer. She’s been developing her little lungs with new sounds. We laugh at her newborn puppy squeaks, gurgling, bubble blowing, and the occasional shriek.

She is a pro at rolling to her tummy now, and it’s actually a nuisance at times because she only lasts a few minutes before getting upset. Of course she keeps doing it over and over though! She’s getting so good at holding her little bobble head up too, so that helps tummy time last a little longer before she wails for assistance.

There are bad teething days where I am left exhausted, but there are also easy days of contentedly playing with toys and watching me work. She is a of fan of the old fashioned teething toy my sister got her. She chomps on the grapes and chills like that for a while sometimes before popping it back out. It’s hilarious.


Unfortunately, somebody already loves to watch the big screen if mom and dad sit down to watch a new episode of a show in the evening. Now that Dancing With the Stars is over, she’s getting her share of Fixer Upper every once in a while.

When she was younger, her emotional sensitivity to music was intense. I didn’t enjoy music much if it made her upset, but she’s growing out of that a bit. It’s been good to have music playing in my house again. She prefers a good beat though. If she’s fussy and I have to finish up some work before picking her up, I just turn our sound system up, and it keeps her calm for a bit longer. The vacuum cleaner works the same way. No excuse for a dirty house when Baby likes the noise. 🙂

Nights are not my favorite right now. We have left the “up only once a night” routine in the past apparently. It’s every few hours instead. Baby ends up in our bed half the night sometimes because her hungry times are so close together, and I can’t stay awake to put her back in her cradle between them. I don’t even like co-sleeping, but it happens by accident these days. Don’t try it, but the pain of lying on your side for hours without moving can be intense. Our bed is too small for three.


-Reaching. We have a little favoritism developing. Baby loves her daddy, but shes getting old enough to make it known when only mommy will do, especially in the evenings when it’s time to wind down for bed. She follows me with her eyes, sometimes cries when her dad tries to put her to sleep, and even twisted her body to reach for me for the first time the other night. Dad was not impressed, but we have fun with it. 🙂


-Sleepy interactions after nap time. Her face lights up when she sees me for the first time, and I adore her sleepy smiles and coos. Every time, I put my head down so she can touch my face. It’s the most precious thing. It feels like being batted and clawed, but I can tell by the twinkle in her eyes and the soft sighs that she’s caressing my face. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

-Bath time. This is no new thing, but the splashes are getting bigger! It’s a fun time to talk to her, and she thrives on the special attention.

-When Daddy comes home. I think she’s starting to recognize what it means when I get say, “Daddy’s home!” in that certain, excited tone of voice. I always want to play that time of day big for my kids. I love when my husband comes home, and I hope that same vibe can be impressed on them. I know it’s been a dream for my husband to hear “Daddy, Daddy!” and little feet pattering to the door. We aren’t there yet, but we are greeting him with lots of smiles and shy “I love you” looks.

Happy five month birthday, little Honor Baby.
© Brenda Kanagy