About Kristin Wynalda

Hi, I'm Kristin. I'm the author of Big Books, Little Ears. The stay-at-home mom thing didn't come naturally to me. Reading chapter books to my young son helped us bond and made me a better mom. Now I'm sharing what I've learned with y'all!

Batwings and Broomsticks

So, there the hubs and I were, snuggled up in bed on a cool winter evening, when I heard a quiet flap-flap-flap. It sounded like the hubs was snoring gently. I thought that was a little weird, since he does not normally do that, but no problem. I heard it again, a gentle flap-flap-flap, and I wondered if I should try to roll him over if he was going to be like this all night.

I decided against disturbing him and was drifting off to sleep when all of the sudden the hubs jumped and yelled, “THAT’S A BAT!! There’s a bat in the room!!”

We did the only reasonable thing and pulled the covers up over our heads.

“A BAT!” I whispered to the hubs in our blanket tent. “Are you sure?”

We could still hear it flying around the room, even with the covers over our heads.

“That’s a bat,” the hubs said assuredly.

I was sort of freaking out, because bats are creepy.

(Now, here would be about the place where I would put a free stock photo from the internet of a bat. However, when I was trying to search for free bat images, our internet safety feature kept saying ADULT CONTENT and not letting me continue. First, I feel old, because we now have kids in our home able to use the internet and we need a filter. We are so old. Second, I have no idea what sort of adult content could come from searching “free bat pic” but apparently it’s a thing. Third, I cannot seem to locate the override password, and I’m not going to reset it just for a picture of a bat. Use your imagination, please. It was a huge, nasty, brown, winged, fanged bat.)

“Ok, well, we have to get out of here,” I said, making a plan. “We’ll just slip off on your side – HEY!”

I yelped because the covers were being pulled off of me and I was going to be exposed for the bat to attack, maim, and probably kill! As I was in the middle of explaining my genius plan to escape the bat, the hubs had moved out of the bed onto the floor, taking the covers with him and leaving me to fend for myself. I jumped out of bed and dove to join him under the blanket that was now on the floor. Then I shuffled after the hubs as he hustled to the door and out of the bedroom.

Once safely in the hallway with the door shut behind us and the bat locked in our bedroom we analyzed our position. A nasty, winged, most-likely-rabid beast had taken over our bedroom. My preference was to abandon the room completely and sleep on the couch for the rest of my life, but the hubs vetoed that idea.

He decided he would go in and conquer the beast, but he would need protection first. His coat was in the bedroom, but he had his hunting boots readily available. I went and grabbed him my coat, which is neon blue, shiny, and puffy. Perhaps the shiny neon would disorient the creature he was going to fight?

It was also quite small on him, but he zipped it all the way up and put the hood on, so that only his eyes were showing. Except of course for half of his forearms and an inch and a half of mid-drift that was exposed because it really was too small for him.

While he was putting on his shoes, I found the broom and stood ready to arm him.

So, there was the hubs, standing like a puffy, bright blue warrior, ready to go in and battle the bat.

As he took the broom and faced the door I uttered encouragement to spur on my brave protector, “Just PLEASE don’t let it out of the bedroom, ok??”

He slowly cracked open the bedroom door and peered in.

“I don’t see it,” he whispered back to me as I stood in the hallway.

Then, “AHH! There it is! It’s on my coat!”

This was followed by a swift whack from the broom, and the foe was defeated. I did not see any of this happen because I panicked when he yelled and ducked into the bathroom. But I am sure that he was just the most macho, amazing, puffy-blue man who has ever vanquished a bat.

(Of course, we would have preferred to shoo it outside to allow the bat to live, but since it had been in the house when the kids’ bedroom door was open and they were sleeping, we needed to test it in order to avoid painful rabies shots. Rest in peace, bat; we did not wish you ill, even though you scared us half to death.)

The next Monday the hubs took the bat to the health department since they will test them for free, and it came back negative for rabies. That meant we avoided shots and we were all thankful for that. The hubs was especially thankful he did not have to get rabies shots, since he hates shots so much that if I let him he would probably just choose to die from rabies instead of getting the shots.

After so much excitement, I half expected the hubs to have much to say in his sleep, but he did not talk at all that night. I would know, since I spent much of the night lying awake, imagining that I was hearing more flap-flap-flap around the ceiling. But thankfully, there were no more bats in the bedroom that evening, although it is good to know that the hubs can handle them like a pro.


Men of Hollywood, It’s Not You, It’s Me

Over the last twelve months I was only sort of successful at meeting my 2017 resolutions.

  • Read a book every month – check.
  • Trim down my wardrobe to capsule size – some progress but still way too many sweaters.
  • Do a pull up at the gym – not even close.

Thankfully, 2017 is over, and it is time for a fresh start and fresh resolutions. This year I am resolving to give some things up, mainly impulse buying at Target, the Facebook app on my phone, and my relationship with famous attractive men.

That last one might surprise you, especially if you know me in all of my Midwestern-soccer-mom glory, but it’s true. You see, as much as I love my partner and appreciate him, he does occasionally do things that irritate me. Recently I have noticed that when he does those things my brain compares him to some of Hollywood’s leading men, and tries to convince me that they would never act this way. These thoughts just creep right into my head.

My brain says, “You know who would never take it for granted that he can go get a haircut whenever he wants with no kids tagging along and forget to tell me about the haircut so that dinner dries out in the oven? Chris Pratt, that’s who. Chris would never treat me like that.”


Or the thought comes to me, “Hmm, if I were married to Ryan Gosling I’m pretty sure I’d be getting a shoulder rub right now, instead of cleaning tile grout.”

This is ridiculous because I have no idea what these people are like in real life. When I was not paying attention, my brain cobbled together this idea that they would be so wonderful because I have seen them act that way in movies and smile on magazine covers. My impression of them is not reality.

Also, have you met people? Honestly, most of them are just ok. I have yet to meet a perfect person, or someone who is selfless all of the time. The idea that anyone, even those who seem perfect on the big screen, would appreciate me all of the time or behave exactly as I want them to is laughable.

Actually, it is more than laughable: it is dangerous. My favorite author, C.S. Lewis, said, “Envy is insatiable. The more you concede to it the more it will demand.”

Giving in to the desire to glance longingly at someone else’s life robs me of the ability to see the wonderful qualities of my own relationship. If I want to maintain a fulfilling relationship, I need to direct the bulk of my positive and appreciative feelings towards my partner, not pretend fantasy people.

So, next time I am in line at the grocery store and perusing the perfectly placed celebrity magazines, I need to not see the picture of a beardless Chris Evans and think, “I bet he would oil the squeaky hinges on the door to the garage without being reminded.”

Instead, I will do whatever it takes to starve this desire to compare what I have with other people, even if it means only reading Diabetes Prevention while standing in line at the grocery story instead of People!

Last night, the hubs was talking in his sleep and it was the perfect reminder of the hubs’ sweetness, and why I should stop fantasizing once and for all in 2018. I was lying in bed wondering if it would be socially acceptable to beg people to not send me thank-you notes for gifts I gave them this Christmas so that I could neglect writing any of my own. All of the sudden the hubs sat up and turned to face me.

Hubs: Hey! What’s going on?

Me: Nothing. Are you ok?

Hubs: Yeah. Just checking in.

Me: Ok. Love you.

Hubs: Yep. Love you.

Then he rolled over and did not say anything else. He had seemed pretty out of it, so I figured he was asleep. This morning I confirmed that he did not remember our conversation and was talking in his sleep. Either one, awake or asleep, would not have surprised me, though, because he is very good about checking to see how I am doing.

Does Justin Timberlake check on his wife even when he is sleeping? I don’t know. And in 2018, I am determined not to care.

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Photo Credit: Heather Huisman

My International Sleep Talking Husband

The hubs and I recently had the opportunity to visit some of his family members in England.



We had the most wonderful time, and I marked a lot of things off of my bucket list that I had always dreamed of seeing.


Y’all, see how I’m twirling in this gorgeous assembly room in Bath? I’m doing that because JANE AUSTEN DANCED HERE, UNDER THESE VERY CHANDELIERS. I had no chill when we walked into this room.

We also ate a ton of delicious food. I could happily eat scones and clotted cream every day for the rest of my life. Unfortunately, that opportunity has not presented itself.


One of the things I love about traveling is how completely different everything can be from the usual routine. Something new that we used a lot in England was the subway, bus, and rail system. We live out in the woods, in a rural no-mans land between small towns. Our house is right in between three villages, so we have one as our address, another as our school district, and the third is our area code for our phone. It’s like the Bermuda Triangle of mid-western America. Out here in our little wooded paradise I can not use public transportation much. But I think we adapted fairly quickly to English public transportation. I really liked the ease of using the bus system to get around, and I got fairly adept at making transfers. (Fairly adept…I mean, not perfect. It’s not like I wasn’t OBVIOUSLY a tourist…) And, of course we were always careful to find the correct platform and “mind the gap” when getting on and off.

The hubs has not talked in his sleep in some months, so I was startled when he woke me up by loudly talking on our last night in England.

Hubs: Hey, too many on the platform.

Me: Hmm? What’s wrong?

Hubs: I just think there’s too many on the platform. Got to watch out.

Me: Ok, I’ll do that. Anything else?

Hubs: No. Maybe. No, I guess not.

Me: Alright, goodnight, then.

Hubs: Sure. That’s fine.

Then he rolled over and went back to sleep.

I am not certain if the hubs was thinking about the subway or train platform when he was talking in his sleep. It would make sense to me, since it was the only “platform” he had recently been concerned with. But even if he wasn’t, our trip is one that I am sure we will both be dreaming and talking about for a long time to come!

The Wheels on the Bike Go Round and Round

The munchkin loves things with wheels – trains, cars, motorcycles, tractors, scooters, unicycles. They’re his favorite toys, and his favorite part of going to school this year was the drive there and back when he could see the trucks on the highway.


Pairing this love of things-that-go and the hubs’ love of biking, we thought it would be easy to teach the munchkin how to ride a bike. Yeah…not so much.


Getting the munchkin on a bike has been…a journey. He just freaks out anytime we try to put him on the bike or even bring it out of the garage. We have tried a normal bike with training wheels, bike without training wheels, balance bike, and letting him walk the bike around. No luck. The munchkin wants nothing to do with the bike.

I know he is not that old, so we are just taking a break from it since there is no pressure to ride a bike, but I do think it sort of bothers the hubs since he loves to bike so much. I am hoping that once bike racing season comes around again and we get to see the hubs in all of his racing glory the munchkin will feel inspired to at least get on his bike, but we will see.


I was reminded of the hubs’ commitment to biking the other night when he was asleep. I was up late, trying to cram in a few more chapters of my book for book club the next morning. The hubs had rolled over to go to sleep some time ago.

All of the sudden, he started yelling.


I looked over at him in shock. He popped his head up, blinking his eyes.

Me: What in the world?!?

Hubs: I was in a bike race. It was the final sprint, and I gave it a giant final push.

Me: Wow. Well, it was certainly loud…

Hubs: Yeah, I know. It was so loud I woke myself up.

He rolled back over to go back to sleep.

Hubs: And, you’ll be happy to know that I won.

He was right, I was happy to know that he won. And I was even more happy to know that he got his sleep talking done before I fell asleep!

The Ups and Downs

I love roller coasters. I do not merely like them, I LOVE them. If I were to craft my perfect day it would definitely include a waffle covered in Nutella and strawberries, and roller coasters with no lines. My dad introduced me to roller coasters and was my first riding buddy. He says I am the only person he knows who does not scream on roller coasters, but giggles almost the entire time. I have never known him to put his hands in the air or scream, but when we go over a particularly large hill or upside down he will let out a, “woooAAAAHHHhh!”

The hubs likes roller coasters, too, and some of my favorite memories are of days spent in theme parks, riding together. He likes to put his hands in the air on rides, but I just cannot get behind that method of riding. I will cling tightly to the bar while giggling like a maniac, thank you very much.

Roller coasters have been on my mind today since last night his sleep talking took me on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster.

I had been asleep for some time when I woke up because the hubs was moving around. I turned over and saw that the he had pushed himself up onto his elbows.

Me: You ok?

Hubs: Yeah, yeah, nothing wrong.

That seemed like a reasonable response, so for a second I thought he was awake.

Hubs: It’s just really hard to see where to go, you know?

Well, guess he’s a sleep.

Me: Oh. Yeah, I guess so.

The hubs started smacking his arms together.

Hubs: Oh, man, both of my arms fell asleep.

Wait a minute, that is a normal reason to be up, maybe he is actually awake.

Me: I’m sorry. Is there anything I can do for you?

Hubs: Yeah, just try not to…TAKE OVER THE WORLD…can you do that?

Nope, he’s definitely asleep.

Me: Sure. Ok, I love you.

The hubs giggled.

Me: Goodnight.

Hubs: Yep. Goodnight.

Wow, what a roller coaster of emotions! Was the hubs awake, was he asleep, who knew? This was not as much fun as an actual roller coaster, but I have to admit that life with the hubs is never boring!


As we turned the calendar page to January 2017, I made a few New Year’s resolutions. Most of them are pretty attainable, and I have even already made good progress on my resolution to read 12 books this year. One resolution, however, has not had such good success, and that is my brilliant idea that I should wake up before the rest of the family.

It just sounds like such a good idea: a chance to start the day off in peace and quiet, and to get some things done before the craziness begins. And there is all this research about productivity being highest in the morning, and stuff like that. When I made this resolution, however, I neglected to factor in the fact that in order to wake up bright eyed and bushy tailed early in the morning a person must get an adequate number of hours of sleep. This has just not been happening for me.

Take, for example, a night earlier this week. I had good intentions to get up early in the morning and went to bed at a reasonable time. Then I stared at the ceiling for awhile thinking about the merits of preschool versus homeschool versus no school, and how if I screw up this one decision it will probably be the first thing my son tells his therapist about his mother someday.

I know worrying is not helping anything, so I started my favorite white-noise app on my phone, and relaxed and started to drift off. Of course I refuse to pay for the upgraded version of the app that has no advertisements, so just as I was falling asleep a commercial for a very loud action movie interrupted the soothing ocean sounds, and I jolted awake to the terrifying sound of machine guns apparently in our bedroom.

Once my heart rate came back down to a normal range, I finally fell asleep. A few minutes later, teething baby girl woke up and needed a bottle and rocking before she’d fall back asleep. I wandered back to bed from the nursery and fell back asleep. It felt like I had just closed my eyes when the munchkin came into our room because he had woken up and was scared. I took him back to bed and prayed with him and tucked him back into bed.

I finally stumbled back to my own bed, tripping over a full laundry basket on the way. As I climbed back under the covers, the hubs threw his arm over to my side of the bed and started talking to me.

Hubs: You coming back now?

The hubs sounded sort of muffled and slurred, and I thought he was sleep talking.

Me: Are you awake?

Hubs: I am. I don’t think I was, but I am now.

Me: Are you sure?

Hubs: Yes, of course. Definitely.

He still sounded funny and like he was asleep, but I was ridiculously tired and did not say anything else.

Hubs: I love you.

I rolled over to turn off my alarm clock, acknowledging that there was no way I was getting up in just a few hours. I did not answer the hubs, because I really did think he was sleep talking.

Hubs: Hey, I love you!

Me: I love you, too. Please let me go to sleep.

The next morning I asked the hubs about our conversation, and he had no idea what I was talking about. Not only did he sleep through this little chat we had, he did not even know that I had been up with the kids. I do not know if the hubs made any resolutions for 2017, but if he did and one of them is to be a deep sleeper and sleep talk, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!

As for the status of my resolution of getting so much done before everyone else in the house wakes up…I’ll try again in 2018.

Armchair Olympians

At our house we LOVE the Olympics! Because…well, because it is the OLYMPICS! And it is just fabulous.

This year I basically let the munchkin watch as much Olympics on TV as he wanted to. In typical 3-year-old style, he definitely took advantage of my lax screen time rules.

As we were watching the Olympics the munchkin said some pretty memorable things:

Watching beach volleyball, “When do they play bocce ball?”

As the male gymnasts came out after watching the female gymnasts already, “Where are the girls? Mom, where did the girls go? I want the girls back!”

Still watching the gymnasts, now on the high bar, “I can do that…I can do that…That, too…Mama, I can do that.”

Watching rowing, “Mama, why are they doing that? Mama, really, why are they doing that? I think it must be a race.”

Watching any swimming event, “Daddy, could you do that?”

The munchkin has great faith in the hubs’ athletic ability, as well he should. But there is one ability I think the hubs might be losing as he gets older: I think he might be stopping the sleep talking. What used to be an almost nightly occurrence is now reduced to every few weeks. He only talked in his sleep once during the weeks of the Olympics.

He sat up, shaking his head. “That girl! What are we going to do? THAT GIRL!”

I think he was talking about our dear dog, because it was the same exasperated tone he uses when he is annoyed with her.

So, not a lot of sleep talking about the Olympics this time around, but there is always the winter Olympics! Maybe he will talk about them in his sleep in two years!



What Not To Wear, New Baby Edition

I used to love the television show, “What Not To Wear.” It was a show where they would give unsuspecting fashion challenged people a makeover. I thought the hosts of the show, Stacy and Clinton, were so cool, and so witty, and so stylish. Frequently when a guest was a mom and dressed in comfortable but not very stylish clothes, Stacy and Clinton would talk to them about their clothing choices, and say things like, “Having kids is no excuse. It doesn’t take any longer to put on pants with buttons than sweat pants.”

Or, “It’s just as much effort to pick out a cute blouse as a t-shirt, so go for the blouse! You have no excuse.”

And the moms would come away from their week of shopping in New York and look so chic, and so much better than when they left, and there was not an oversized t-shirt or yoga pant in sight.

At the time I always thought, “Stacy and Clinton are so right. It doesn’t take any longer to put on nice clothes. If I ever become a mom, I’m not going to dress in sweatpants all the time.”

Now ten years removed from watching the show and in a totally different life position, I discovered something. Stacy and Clinton have no idea what they are talking about.

As it turns out, those precious seconds it takes to button up actual pants, they matter. Do you know how much trouble a high energy 3 year old can get into in 6 seconds? Today I left the fully clothed munchkin in the living room, walked to the changing table with the baby, and looked out the window to see that the munchkin had walked out of the house and was running around the yard, naked. In 6 seconds he stripped naked and ran out of the house. This is why I like to wear pants that don’t require buttoning or a belt. Oh man, I don’t even want to think about how far he could get if I had to button my pants and buckle a belt!

In addition, when Stacy and Clinton sent these newly made-over ladies home with admonitions to steer clear of baggy cotton t-shirts, they weren’t considering the laundry situation. Baby is quite the spitter, and today has gone through 5 onesies, 2 bibs, and 2 tiny pairs of baby pants. I tend to be collateral damage to all this spitting, and am currently on my fourth shirt in 7 hours. Now, if I had been following Stacy and Clinton’s guidelines, the laundry situation would be quite complicated, with the buttons, delicate wash cycles, dry-clean-only tags, and lay-flat-to-dry directions. Thankfully, yoga pants and t-shirts have no special cleaning instructions, so I’m really not too perturbed at all the wardrobe changes I have to go through in a day. But it does mean Clinton and Stacy were very wrong: picking nice clothes does take more effort, especially if they get dirty every 45 minutes.

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Baby girl is such a sweetheart, I do not mind her messiness. Photo credit: Huisman Photography

The sleep talking hubs does not seem to mind the current state of my wardrobe. Actually, since we brought baby home the hubs has not been “the sleep talking hubs,” as he has not done much sleep talking. I think he is just too tired, and I am probably tired enough that even if he has talked I slept right through it. But last night he did talk some.

I was lying in bed when I felt the hubs jump in his sleep. As if he were gently scolding someone, he said, “No, no, no!”

I asked who he was talking to, and he said, “Oh, no one.”

I was so tired I let it go at that, and went back to sleep.

I am not sure what the hubs was saying, “No,” to, but I do know what I would say no to: anyone, even Clinton or Stacy, who tried to pry my comfiest yoga pants away from me.

Pants with elastic waistbands FOREVER!

Waiting Game

We are anxiously anticipating the arrival of munchkin-the-sequel in a few weeks. She is supposed to make her debut in 3 weeks, but the munchkin was a whole two weeks late when he finally decided to show up, so I am not holding my breath that 2.0 will be here anytime soon.

Apparently the fact that the munchkin arrived 2 weeks after his due date is a bit of a medical anomaly. At one of my first visits to the doctor during this pregnancy the nurse who was updating my chart said, “Did you really go 42 weeks with your first baby? That can’t be right.”

Nope, it was right.

At this same visit the doctor asked, “Wow, you went 42 weeks with your first. Do you plan to do that again?”

At a later visit a nurse commented, “Hmm, 42 weeks…we don’t see that very often. Did you do that on purpose?”

More recently a different nurse was looking at my chart and said, “It says here that your first pregnancy you went 42 weeks. Can you tell me why you chose to do that?”

They give me way too much credit: I was not aware that I had that much control on when the munchkin showed up!

For now, we are patiently waiting for baby to show up. The hubs talked about waiting in his sleep last week, but I don’t think he was waiting for our baby girl. I was just starting to fall asleep when the hubs sat up and crossed his arms.

Me: Are you ok?

Hubs: Yep, just waiting for Thomas.

Me: Oh, ok. Do you think he’ll be long?

Hubs: Don’t worry about it honey.

Me: Alright. I’m going back to sleep then.

Then I rolled back over and went back to sleep. I’m not sure how long the hubs sat up, but I hope that whoever he thought was coming didn’t keep him waiting for too long!

Traffic Signals

I am so glad that I have worked hard to provide the munchkin’s with a variety of educational, colorful, and safe toys. That way they can all sit in the toy bin while he plays ONLY with his little cars. The munchkin is obsessed with cars. It does not matter whether he is playing inside, outside, at the library, in the bathtub, at restaurants – he always has a car in hand.

The munchkin likes to point out cars and trucks when we drive places. He also knows about traffic signs and signals and excitedly tells us what to do when he sees one that he recognizes. For example, when he sees a green light he yells, “Green means GO!”

I think it is pretty cute when he does that. It is a little disconcerting though when he sees a red light because he yells, “MAMA!!! STOP!!!!”

Unfortunately he does not understand that we can turn right on a red light. His car seat has been soaked with his tears several times in the last few weeks because Mama or Daddy have turned right on red. He cries from the back seat, “NO! But it’s a red light! Red means STOP!”

It is so sad, and we have tried to explain that it is ok several times, but he just does not get it yet. We have to keep working on those complex traffic rules!

I am not sure what  the hubs was thinking about while he was sleeping the other night, but from what he said it is possible he was thinking about cars, too. We were having a random February thunderstorm, and I was lying in bed listening to the rain and thunder when the hubs sat up suddenly.

Me: You awake? It’s so weird to have a thunderstorm in winter.

Hubs: You’re really booking it, aren’t you!?

Me: What?

Hubs: You were booking it.

Me: What are you talking about? Are you asleep?

But the hubs did not say anything else, so I was left to listen to the rain and wonder what he was talking about in his sleep by myself. I am not sure if he was talking about a car booking it down the street, but I know that if the munchkin talked in his sleep, it would almost definitely be about cars!