Sunday, December 8, 2013

What you really need for a baby

I am generally a "you do it your way, I'll do it mine" type, so I have not had a very thorough blog for the reason that I do not usually share my advice unsolicited with people. I do not presume to be an expert in many things. 

That said I see a lot of my friends these days pinning, what you absolutely must register for lists, by those claiming to be minimalists, and yet containing a large number of things which I do not consider to be even remotely necessary. So in the interest of minimalism, not for it's own sake, but for the sake of a Christian ethic that rejects consumerism for it's misuse of both personal and global resources, I have decided it is time for me to throw in my own two cents.  

So this comes with a disclaimer that I am not going to judge you as a bad Christian if you buy more than this for your baby, or even if you tell your friends I'm a total moron. But I hope that this will be helpful, and put your mind at ease that babies do not in fact require very many belongings. 

For a long time I have yearned for minimalism. Clutter actually drives me crazy. I cannot stand the feeling that I always need something else, and I often have the feeling that if God suddenly called us to a new place I need to be able to go very quickly. And yet with registering, both for my marriage, and for my first child, the lists put on me this great pressure to get everything. This list reflects what we find we actually use, after four pregnancies worth of research and three babies worth of actual experience. 

1. Somewhere for baby to sleep. This will look different for each family. You may want your baby in his/her own room in a crib that will change into a toddler bed and then into a twin, or your baby may simply sleep in your own bed for the first year or two. We actually have a few different options. I love my cosleeper (made by my mom and RJ) because I can nurse baby in bed, laying down, and simply roll over and lay them in their own bed when they are finished and I need more space. The down side to this is that baby outgrows it around 6 months, so we need something bigger. We also have a pretty wooden crib, actually a port-a-crib size, since it was cheaper, and takes up less space than a full crib, but still fits up to a two year old. The down side to this is that it take up more space, and that I have to get up to get baby and then put them back after a feeding. The third piece is a pack'n'play, and if you are really on a budget this is all you really need. It is short enough to use beside the bed for a cosleeper, yet large enough for up to a two year old, and it can travel with you for holidays and vacations. Also in this category, by default, is blankets, although they will use them for a lot more than sleeping. We like to have 4-6 swaddle blankets. I make new ones for each baby's design scheme (since they don't have a nursery to decorate) out of 1 1/4 yds flannel. They are big enough (45x45") and stick well for swaddling. If you are careful to cut with the grain they will stay square! We also have one bamboo velour cuddle blanket and one floor quilt for each baby. If you have carpet a floor quilt is optional, especially since the the window between when baby is old enough to play on the floor, and when he/she will just crawl right off it isn't very long.

2. Travel Gear. The most absolutely necessary is a car seat (assuming you have a car). Since it is required by law, and for even the most basic level of child safety. They are however quite heavy to carry about, and studies are now showing the negative effects on babies whose parents leave them in these carriers the majority of the day, rather than holding or carrying them. For this reason, almost any time we are not in the car we use a wrap carrier. I have a sleepy wrap, which I love, but it's a bit of a commitment (complicated to put on) for a quick walk to the mail box, or to see if it will calm baby while I wash dishes. So I would like to try a sling as well. Also in this category is a diaper bag, although I prefer to just use a larger purse/book bag for myself, and throw in a Thirty-One zipper pouch with baby's things. If you are anything like me, you probably have a few options already in your closet, but a new baby is a great excuse for a new bag.

3. Diapers. I have a lot of other information on here about this topic, but for now I will say this. Cloth is so simple. I have heard so many friends say that they don't even think of it as any more work than disposables any more, and others say that although it takes more time it is always a good time for their family. Cloth is not only a better use of personal and global resources, but it demonstrates the love you have for doing beautiful things for your baby like paper diapers never can. I recommend 8 covers and 24 inserts each in a two size system, for the most budget efficient. If you are having more than 2 kids I think it is also worth getting 12-18 newborn all in ones and 12-18 newborn fitteds along with a stash of medium and extra large covers, for a better fit through every stage. You will definitely get your money's worth out of them. You will also need a diaper pail liner, two travel wet bags and 3 or 4 dozen wipes. If you have a little room to splurge get a diaper sprayer, it makes clean up soooo easy. This is the longest section on here, because honestly well over half of what we own for our children is diapers. They just don't need much stuff. Aside from a cosleeper or crib, the only other furnishings you might need for baby is to make sure you have baskets or shelves for clothes and diapers. Again, you probably already have some things like this around the house and will just need to do some rearranging.

4. Clothing. This is simple. You need 8-10 outfits per size, but people will likely buy you more than that for shower gifts, whether you register for it or not, so buying clothes is really dependent on how picky you are about what your baby wears. Also, most will advise getting clothes in a variety of sizes, but be careful, because you never know how fast they will grow. They will end up in a larger or smaller size than you bought for this season, and sometimes skip over a size all together. The bottom line: you may end up with more clothes than anything else, but that does not mean that this category should be anything you worry about. grab what you need as you go and be grateful for gifts at showers, birthdays, and christmas. People will love buying your baby clothes.

5. Feeding. Ultimately you need nothing for this category for 6+ months besides your own boobs. There are a few things that may be helpful though. I love my Boppy pillow. It helps so much to prevent an aching back and shoulders, especially when baby is very small. We have two covers, so we can change it when it get's spit up on. Aside from blankets our favorite baby accessory is burp rags. Now you could just use blankets, but we would go through too many. I have six that are hand dyed newborn prefolds. Whatever you do don't get the ones with regular quilting cotton prints sewn down the middle, because that stuff is not absorbant at all, and it will drive you nuts (if you are as picky as me). I also make a few flannel ones to match baby's blankets, and have finally found my favorite pattern. Maybe I will share it on here sometime. The other feeding thing that we have loved is my Milkies milk catcher. You just put it on the side you aren't nursing from and it catches the drips. I am terrible at pumping, so this has been a real help for having bottles for babysitters. We have two glass evenflo bottles, and that is all we have needed. If you do have to pump, get a really good one, like a hygeia, or you will go nuts. 

After six months all you need is smaller spoons and unbreakable plates. I'm serious. We did baby led weaning with Julian and will with Oscar and all future babies. There is really no need to buy bottles of food or even to puree and freeze your own. just give baby bits of what you are having and as long as they are still nursing on demand, don't sweat it if nothing actually makes it into their mouths.

6. Medicine, Baths and Toiletries. This is the list that can get so long sometimes, but we use hardly any of the things we got for Efrim. For the first 6 months to a year all you need is gripe water or gas drops, and an amber necklace plus maybe some teething tablets if that is not enough. After that we give the boys bioplasma, echinacea, saline nose spray, and emergen-C if they are having cold symptoms, along with peppermint, lavender, or eucalyptus in the essential oil diffuser, and vix if it get's really bad. We use Ibuprofen if their fevers get really bad, but put off treating a fever as long as we can. For upset stomach we try to get as much pedialyte down them as possible. None of these are things you need on hand before you bring baby home, and none of them need to be registered for.

We bath babies in the sink until they are old enough to sit up reliably on their own. We have a simple fast drying foam mat. We don't always even use soap. When we do I use Honest Co. Shampoo and Body Wash, because I trust them more than any other to be pure and safe. The kids do not have special baby towels or wash rags, we use our towels and the same wash cloths we use for cloth wipes. I also love this sponge brush that comes with our home-birth kit. Afterward we rub them in my Curel, Honest Healing Balm (which could be listed above for any type of abrasions or cuts, we use it for everything), or Coconut oil.

As far as special toiletries I swear the only one we use is the smaller fingernail clippers. Nose suckers never work, even Nosefrida. Medicine usually comes with it's own droppers. I feel like this list went on forever when I was registering, but I honestly can't even think of anything else, because we just don't use them.

To summarize, and show you just exactly how short the list is, this is a baby registry/shopping checklist:

1. Crib, cosleeper, and/or pack'n'play
2. 4-6 swaddle blankets
3. Cuddle Blanket
4. Floor quilt (optional)
5. Car Seat
6. Wrap carrier and/or sling
7. Diaper Bag or clutch (optional)
8. Diaper Stash
    8 small, 8 large covers
    24 small, 24 large easy folds or flats
    12-18 nb all in ones, 12-18 nb fitteds (optional)
    8 medium, 4 x-large covers (optional)
9. Wet bags and cloth wipes - diaper sprayer (optional)
10. Clothes
11.  Boppy and covers
12. 6-12 Burp rags

13. Milk-Catcher and/or pump
14. Bottles
15. Gripe Water
16. Amber Necklace
17. Foam bath mat
18. Baby Wash
19. Scrub Brush
20. Fingernail clippers

Now that looks manageable doesn't it!

Monday, June 3, 2013

To my son

This week has really been a struggle, with physical and emotional symptoms blending together until I no longer know which came first. Though none of these trials have been resolved, the love and support of my friends Betsy and Amanda and others, have brought me back to the peace that passes all understanding. Over and over during the last month I have been replaying this same little conversation with Oscar that I wanted to share, both to record it for him to read in the future, and to help anyone else who is going through a hard time, whether similar or not.


I want you to know right off the bat that you will not be born to the same parents who had Efrim and Julian. Losing your sister has transformed your Daddy and I to the heart. None of the experiences of your pregnancy and birth will come with the same unmingled joy we experienced with our first two babies. We found out we were expecting you only two weeks before Lucy's first birthday. We didn't know how we could share happy news with our loved ones in the middle of such painful memories. Last month we found out your gender within days of Lucy's headstone being delivered to the cemetery. And every step along the way, as we prepare to meet you, these joyful milestones serve also as painful reminders of all we are missing, of the hole in our family where Lucy should be, of the sister you three boys will never know.

What you also need to know, however, is that this does not diminish our love for you in any way. In fact, I think in many ways you will be born to stronger, wiser, and more deeply joyful parents than your big brothers first knew. Our love for and experience of you is more rich and deep because we know more fully of it's fragility, of how truly precious you are, and the blessing that each child is to a home, each day we share with you, however few. You will receive the love that Mommy's arms have saved up for 30 months, longing for a baby to hold.

Your name is Oscar Pax. Oscar means the Lord's warrior, and Pax means peace. I want you to know that our Lord gives peace that passes all understanding. Truly he has blessed us with greater peace in the midst of our deepest sorrow than I ever could have imagined before. He came into the world and leaves his Spirit with the church to establish a kingdom of such peace that lions will lay down with lambs and our swords will be beaten into plow shares, but little one, this is a hard fought peace. A peace that passes understanding is one that comes in circumstances that are anything but peaceful.  It is a peace in the midst of confusion, brokenness, and anguish. This world is not an easy place, but we serve an impossible God, who gives us peace in the midst of our hardest battles.

I know that at times I will have unreasonable expectations for you to fill my heart with joy. I promise to turn to God for that satisfaction, and allow you to be a silly little boy, who doesn't do everything right, and sometimes gets on my nerves. I know that sometimes I will be tempted never to let go of you, for fear of losing you, but I promise to ask our Father for the courage to let you be free. After all, I have learned nothing if not that you are really his to begin with, and he is really the one who protects you after all. I know that sometimes I will feel sadness for missing your sister when I want only to feel joy for knowing you, but I promise to be honest, to honor you both with the truth, so that my hurt does not build up inside to hurt others in turn.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort. 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Friday, May 24, 2013

Why we're revealing the gender of our baby after all.

RJ and I are not fun-faces-when-we-get-a-surprise kind of people. So we've never done the whole gender reveal party thing. But in a world where most of our friends do, a text to reveal the gender of our fourth child seemed a little underwhelming. We decided it would be much more fun for our friends and family to be surprised at the birth, the old fashioned way.

But the other day I had a change of heart. Our last baby, Lucy, was still born at 36 weeks, and the love and support for her were overwhelming. It was as if everyone already knew her. As much as I felt we had been robbed of her life, the most important thing I clung to was the time we had indeed shared. I realized that, come what may, I didn't want to keep our friends and family from the opportunity to love and dream of this baby, even now. So we are happy to announce...

Oscar Pax Barnett
  will be joining a family near you, September 2013!

Monday, April 29, 2013

A third way of parenting

About a year before our first son was born we started looking for books on parenting. It seemed to us at the time that the people we knew with really fussy kids recommended attachment parenting books. The things they said made sense, but we didn't want kids who cried all the time like theirs. They couldn't go anywhere. Their whole lives revolved around what made their baby feel good. In contrast we knew some people with really laid back babies, who seemed to go with the flow. Their schedule was predictable, and mom and dad were in control of activities. These parents all recommended the book Baby Wise. So this is what we went with.

I read the whole book, and made a plan before Efrim got here. But somehow in all of this we tried our best to follow Baby Wise, and ended up with one of those screaming kids anyway. I tried to feed Efrim on the schedule they recommended, but he always acted like he was starving. I tried to get him on a nap routine, and he fought tooth and nail. I was always going against what I felt like I should do. Parents are supposed to impose structure they said, your baby needs you to tell him what to do when in order to feel secure, but this didn't work for us. Efrim was unhappy, I was unhappy.

So when we got pregnant with Julian we read The Attachment Parenting Book. It had a lot of helpful information, but I ended up loving another book even more. Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing surprisingly became my favorite. I was looking for a little bit of help with spacing our children without relying on oral contraceptives or using condoms all the time. I humored the fact that it was written from the perspective of, "This is the way the Church (catholic) says we should space our children." But what I found was a lot of the same principles as I found in attachment parenting literature, but with a purpose. We don't listen to our instincts because it prevents obesity and keeps our children from becoming sociopaths, but because God gave our babies the tools to communicate and he gave us the hormonal/instinctual responses that we were supposed to have.

Then came the feminist backlash. While Julian was in my belly, or a tiny baby in my arms I started coming across these articles protesting that attachment parenting was reversing the tide of feminism and shackling women back to their home and babies. I wrote these off as ridiculous. Children are a blessing, It's selfish to neglect them in order to pursue your own career. Someone has to raise them, and if it's not you it's a professional nanny, and what does that do to feminism? She said early feminists dreamed of children being raised in communal kitchens and nurseries, and equated this to the modern marvel of daycare -- yuck. And yet, while I haven't changed my mind about these initial responses, I began to ache, and chafe under the constraints of being a live in nanny/day care planner in my own home. My kids are my first ministry. Absolutely. But does that mean that for the next 25 years they are my only ministry, my only vocation?

I began to see that I was not a good parent to my kids when I was an unhappy person. I saw that by postponing my other callings until my kids were independent, I was putting at least half of who I was as a person on a shelf to wait for later. By some happy accidents, and a lot of tortured nights awake, I began to rediscover the parts of me I'd been missing. I'd thought I had to choose. It was almost too easy to go back to school. Logsdon's program, while making our lives a lot busier, really has not disrupted my parenting at all. And I've found that when I am a lot happier, even when I am just as tired, my kids are happier too.

Photo from

As I embraced both parts of my identity I began to have more grace for my friends who thrive on turning their homes into perfect baby centered Montessori preschools, and also for my friends who were leaving eight week old babies at day care to return to work. But neither of these was me. Where did I fall into all of this. I felt like there had to be a way for RJ and I to do ministry and art and academic work with our kids in tow. I knew this was best for us, I had a feeling it was best for them, and I really believe it is best for the people we interact with also. But in a world telling me my kids should be in the nursery so they aren't distracting, or that I shouldn't be taking them somewhere that is just for my benefit in the first place, where was I getting this idea. Clearly there are two worlds; big people world, and kids world, and the two should never meet, except for the stay at home moms and day care workers who are trapped in kid world.

Then it hit me, the reason I thought this would work. I was raised like this. My parents had a calling to engage in culture missionally, but they also had a conviction that it was their responsibility to raise their children themselves, not to delegate that to someone else. They didn't need to be separated from us in order to do their work, and they didn't let a prescribed list of kid-friendly activities dictate their plans. And I wouldn't trade that upbringing for anything. I realize it may limit the churches or para-church ministries that will hire me, it will shape the way we build a business, and it will often be offensive to people that we "brought kids here." But our work and our kids are not separate parts of our lives. This used to be the norm, worldwide, when babies rode in slings while Mom got her work done, and helped out from the time they learned to walk. So our work isn't farming anymore. If we think it's valuable and stimulating I think they will too. I did.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

I'm just trying to take some frugal, organizing steps.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem

Listening to Matisyahu sing "Jerusalem" on the way home from New Testament always gets to me. I remember Dr. Lyle's earnestness in speaking of Paul's yearning for the salvation of his fellow Jews. He says in Romans 9:1-5 that he would give his own salvation if it meant that his brethren could accept the gospel.

He always gets a little wistful when he talks about Paul sitting on the shore at Corinth, his heart wanting to go to Rome, but feeling compelled to take the offering of the Gentile churches to the church in Jerusalem himself. I never understood why until tonight -- his heart being pulled two ways at once, and I'll never read Romans again without seeing the fingers laced with Jerusalem.

I feel with Paul because I see in the lives of those I love most dearly -- those who share my own heritage -- I see every one who was left dead inside by a Church who keeps a smile while with abuse behind closed doors, I see every one who heard no shortage of judgement, but ultimately failed to receive the answers to the questions that haunted the most, every one who gave all they had to give and then watched as the Church turn her back when there was nothing left, every one who was told faith is something we do at home but it doesn't really effect our choices, every one who just has so much hurt that letting down those walls is more than anyone can bear.

I see Jesus standing on the hill as he walks deliberately toward his own death saying, "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!"
I hear this song, and I see Paul and Jesus and Israel and the ones my heart loves and I would give my own salvation to undo the hurt and gather them under the wings of the Lord.

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Amazima means truth in Luganda. Katie Davis, Ugandan expat, Mommy, and founder of Amazima Ministries says in her book,

For more information go to or

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I have been working and working on our Real Food/Weston A. Price diet, but I think the Barnett house is about to take a different approach to food budgeting. In Katie's book she tells a story of being home on a fund raising trip, in her parent's suburban home with abundantly full pantries, when her newest daughter said to her over the phone, "Thank you for food, Mommy. Today I am still alive." What if we all ate the same types of simple meals people eat all over the world, not starving, just simpler, and gave the difference in our food budget to those who don't have any at all. It's just a baby step in living simply, so that others can live.