Cry It Out — a Parenting Primer

Cry It Out, or CIO as well-seasoned parents refer to it, is not fun.

I did it with the twins and lived to tell about it. I didn’t think I’d ever have to do it again; but then I had that surprise miracle baby.

Well, last night was a crash course in CIO Redux. I figured I’d expose myself for those of you just embarking on this parenting road block.

1.) Look at clock to log official start time: 2:39 a.m. This becomes very important later on. Flop back onto pillow and tell yourself sweet little lies like, “I could just fall back to sleep if I put this pillow over my head.” Nevermind that the screaming is so loud that you can still hear it underneath said pillow and your denial.

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2.) After ten minutes of carrying on, get up to pee. May as well empty the old bladder since clearly sleeping is not going to happen. Maybe she’ll even stop while I’m sitting here on the — DAMN IT! Fall into toilet (husband left seat up) and my ass has been contaminated by sitting on his urine dribbles. Ewww.

3.) Crawl back into bed, take a deep breath, and convince myself that she cannot keep this up forever. She’s wearing herself out. Smile smugly. #winning

4.) At approximately 2:59 a.m., get up again, pad down the hall to make sure other children are still asleep. Stand outside CIO kid’s door. Debate going in to make sure there’s not a REAL reason she’s hysterical. Real reasons include: blowout diaper, vomiting, limb stuck in crib rails. Unacceptable reasons (but by no means is this list exhaustive) include: whining for a drink of water; wanting another stuffed animal; being unable to locate a particular lovey due to the overwhelming crowding issues already in the crib; claiming to be poopy when in fact, one is NOT poopy. Determine that going in will only exacerbate the issue and since she keeps saying, “THIRSTY!” as if she’s been staggering around in the desert for twelve days, there’s not a true need to go in. Head back to bed.

5.) While tossing and turning, decide I may have some heartburn. Go downstairs in search of Tums. Might as well grab my cell phone to take back upstairs and catch up on Words With Friends since sleeping is not in the cards for me. Manage to score some serious points despite the severe sleep deprivation and the darkness and the irritability beginning to set in.

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6.) Husband is snoring loudly. Feeling resentful of his sleeping through this nonsense. Kick him in the shins maybe a tad harder than necessary.

7.) Mini poodle is whimpering through a doggie dream and doing some excessive snoring of his own. Nudge him. Envy his easy life. Why can’t I just be a dog?

8.) Keep checking the time. How much longer can this shit last? Isn’t she TIRED? God knows I am!

9.) When the clock flips to 3:39 a.m. (a full hour of CIO, which is why it’s super important to note the start time!), fling back the covers, stomp out of bed and race to her room. Throw the door open and hiss, “WHAT IS GOING ON?”

Tearstained cheeks and snot dripping, she waves her stuffed Olivia the pig at me. Olivia is naked. “Olivia? Dress? Dress on? Help, Mommy?” Sniffles. Bedhead. More dramatic sniffles. Rakes her little arm across her face to catch the drips.

Seriously? THIS is why you’ve been acting a fool for the last SIXTY MINUTES?! Because you stripped your doll and you can’t put her clothes back on?

I snatch the pig and the stupid red dress out of her hands. I stand there for a minute arguing with myself internally; if I get the pig dressed again, I may actually snag some more shut-eye. And if I don’t? I risk another hour (or more) of bullshit crying.

No contest.

In 13 seconds, Olivia is stuffed back into her dinky sailor suit, and my kid happily snuggles into the corner of her crib, sighing contentedly.

Wearily I return to my room. I heave myself into bed for what I’m hoping is the last time until morning. And what feels like the fortieth time.

Oh wait, it is morning.

And it takes me at least another 1/2 hour to unwind and relax enough (in the sweet, newfound silence) to fall back to sleep myself.


So how has CIO worked for you (or not)? Let me know in the comments!

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Happy Tenth Anniversary, Postpartum Progress!


I’m a little fuzzy about the first time I stumbled upon Postpartum Progress, yet I’m certain it was long before Piper was born in October, 2011.

My episodes with postpartum have blurred together, making the lines foggy for me…because I’ve also struggled with “regular” depression off & on since I was in college.

But I can say that PPD and PPA (and depression in general) are isolating. Those who haven’t experienced it themselves often have trouble relating or knowing what to do, say or how to help. I remember stumbling into my two-week post-op appointment after the twins were born via c-section. I couldn’t stop crying and my Ob/Gyn handed me a pamphlet about PPD. And at my six-week checkup after Piper was born, pretty much the same thing happened.

Depression is not only a liar, but it’s lonely. Which isn’t a winning combination.

I’ve felt all alone, like no one understood. Screaming on the inside, falling apart on the outside, I had nobody to confide in or share with (aside from my therapist and my mom).

Then I found Katherine’s site and her community of survivors, support, and strength.

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If you’re reading this and you’re suffering in silence, you don’t have to.

Find & “like” Postpartum Progress on Facebook. 

Looking for a little inspiration? Follow Postpartum Progress on Pinterest: Postpartum Depression Hope.

And here, you can read personal stories from fellow WARRIOR MOMS, moms who are just like you.

If you need more, you can join the Warrior Mom Community Private Forum where you’ll find plenty of peer support and information.

I’ve met Katherine Stone in person and have had the honor of hearing her speak at several conferences. She is easy to talk to, always willing to talk and help, and she’s a fighter and a mama and someone I admire. I’m proud to support Postpartum Progress and to be a part of this special week in her honor!



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Just Write: Sometimes

Sometimes the only things that keep me going are…

commissioning a Little Free Library of our very own for our yard.

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our little girl with her little legs crossed so daintily

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and taking myself on a date to see The Fault in Our Stars. The book is always better than the movie, but I still had to see it.

I am tired, friends.
I’m not fighting the same battle as Hazel Grace and Gus Waters, to be sure;
And there’s danger in comparison — I know this is true.

There’s an elephant in the room, a fly in the ointment.
Things fall apart.

I am not fighting cancer.
But I am fighting for my marriage. And some days, it feels like I’m fighting for my life.

I am sitting on a lot of couches (read: therapists’ offices).
I am making apologies.
I am learning about myself.
I am learning that anger and all my feelings…are draining.
I am sapped.

This sums it up quite nicely (thank you, Kelly Corrigan):

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There is no guide book for this, no handy Cosmopolitan checklist with corresponding code to see how your answers define you.

There is no one to show me the way.

But I’m using this time to learn about who I am and why I am… the way I am.

And I’m trying to use my voice. I need to.
And because I can’t just write the pretty things all the time.
I write the real things. No candy coating, no store-bought bow stuck on top.

Struggle is real.
Depression is real.
Marital issues are real.

Very few people talk about any of these frankly. And while it’s not fair for me to dive into great detail about ours, I still had to say it.

Because it’s real.
I can’t pretend everything’s okay when it isn’t.

And if you’re out there and you’re reading and this sounds familiar,
At least you know you’re not alone.

But it’s lonely out here.

I remind myself that we are not alone, even though it feels that way sometimes.

Underneath my chattering insecurities…there’s a survivor.
A warrior.
A truth-teller.

Thank you for listening.


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Just Write: Gutted


It’s how I feel in a papery hospital gown. I can’t stop thinking about how it’s been worn by hundreds (thousands?) of other naked people.


It’s how I feel when my braless breasts go sagging out to the sides as I lie down on the gurney.


It’s how I feel as the nurse tap tap taps on my hand to get the vein after she ties the tourniquet.


The needle shoves past my freckled skin. The prick of pain and the breath I yank in and the tears that gather.


It’s freezing in the OR and although I can feel some medicine starting to work, I’m hyper aware that someone is tying each of my ankles to something hard and cold at the foot of my narrow bed.


The medicine makes me feel wonky and swirly but my brain and body are strong and fighting it. I’m acutely aware that now my ankles are being being cranked up by pulleys, drawn to the top of each of two skinny poles.


Everyone knows there is nothing on underneath a hospital gown.

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I start to cry. The anesthesiologist peers over me with his blue mask and tells me it’s going to be okay. But how is it okay when strangers can now see my most private parts?


My body is on display. They’re used to it, they see all kinds of naked bodies day in and day out.

But I’m not used to it.

I don’t remember what else the anesthesiologist says to me, but I remember getting hysterical. The embarrassment of the surgery I was about to have rivaled the level of pain my fissure was causing. I cried hard. I wanted to disappear. I didn’t want people looking at my lady bits, my flabby white cellulite-ridden ass.

All I know is that the medicine is working, but it’s not enough because I’m still awake and conscious enough to feel the cold air hitting my bare body. I’m conscious enough to feel gross and ugly and inexcusably human. All my parts.

So it has come to this.

I sob as the room spins so much I feel like retching.

And then from somewhere above my head comes a mask and I’m told to inhale deeply and count.

At long last, everything goes black.

When I wake up, there’s scalding, searing pain like an iron. Sharp like the tip of a knife.

There’s no one there with me, and I try to call out for someone, but I can’t even make my mouth move.

I roll to my side and pull my knees up, fetal position.

I’ve been gutted.

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Redux: Giving Up the Good Girl

**I’ve been having a bit of a dry spell here on the blog, so today I’m taking an old post & revamping it. Hope you enjoy! What do you do when your writing well runs dry, or you don’t have the time to write?**

I dream of fighting back. I dream of being reckless and bold and talking back. I dream of not being told what to do. I dream of giving up the good girl.

I dream of the day when I don’t stumble or fumble or lose faith in myself, my beliefs. I dream that you have no power over me. I dream that I know the truth. I dream that I know what happened. I dream that it’s tangible and can’t be taken away from me.

I dream of eating fresh guacamole with blue corn chips all day long and a giant margarita to wash it down with. I dream of the extra meat on my bones, a slightly softer rounded belly, one that was once home to my daughters. I dream of a time when I can honor my body and its scars and curves instead of judging it every time I pass a mirror.

I dream of a glass of wine and a notebook, black ink all over the middle finger of my right hand. In the middle of the night, alone. Just me and silence and crumbs on a dirty plate in the kitchen sink.

I dream of you and me and soul mates. And matching games and finding pairs and starting over again and again. I dream that I’m someone else for a few minutes. I dream that time is a gift only I can grant myself.

I dream of slumber parties and Light As a Feather and telling secrets. I dream of a gaggle of girls and staying up all night whispering and playing truth or dare.

I dream of a place where I can say what I want about whatever I choose. I dream of a time when there is no censorship. I dream of letting kids be kids and not worrying so much all the damn time. I dream that it doesn’t matter what other people think. I dream that who we are is more important than where we live, what color our skin is, where (or if) we went to school, and what jobs we have. I dream that even the smartest people can be stupid.

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image credit

I dream of my destiny. Of making a platform for myself. I stand on it; it’s built of old notebooks, my favorite novels, my best friends, memories, conversations, my family, love, strength, smiles, tears and laughter. Bits of my childhood self glued to the woman I am now.

I dream that I don’t have to know the exact destination in order to find it. I dream that I can trust myself to get there. I dream that I’m someone worth knowing. I dream that I’m someone worth loving. I dream that I’m someone you can take a chance on. I dream of winning. I dream of pennies in a fountain and long-lost wishes coming true.

I dream that you love me and see me. I dream that together we have unlimited potential.

I dream that we all make mistakes. I dream that we’re forgiven. And that forgiveness comes easily, but not too easily.

I dream that I have a soul full of ladybugs. I dream of the night standing in your backyard with sunflowers towering over me. I dream of a drunken sailor ripping one from its roots and time stood still as he hurled it over the fence, such beauty wasted.

I dream of a note written on folded paper that landed on my desk. I dream of a night in a treehouse with a little tv and a lot of hormones. I dream of too many screwdrivers and vomiting and sleeping with one foot on the floor. I dream the best dreams and wake up sad to find they’re not real.

I dream that I dreamed you. I dream of chubby baby legs with feet that can’t be squished into perfect pink baby loafers. I dream of pigtails and tiny teeth. I dream of your hands yanking my hair. I dream of your baby voice saying “Mommy,” and your face buried in my neck. I dream of you when you were inside of me, and even before you were actually there.

I dream that someday, all alone, I will stand atop a mountain I’ve climbed and I’ll be sweaty and dirty and exhausted but I will have done it.

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A Lady in France : A Review

Jennie Goutet is not only my friend, but also the author of a brand new memoir: A Lady in France. Her book appealed to me on multiple levels, and I’ve always been drawn to Jennie’s openness and honesty when it comes to addressing tough subjects. I have felt a kinship with her for several years now, and so I eagerly devoured each chapter, always yearning for more.

If I’m being completely up front, I was apprehensive about reviewing her book because I knew a big piece of it was about religion and Christianity. And I’m not a very religious person. I’m Jewish, but for me, it’s more about the culture, heritage, and the traditions, and less about the spirituality, prayer, and God. Jennie chronicles her journey to God in a way that didn’t feel preachy or condescending at all; in fact, if anything, it’s made me question the depth and breadth of my core religious values.

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Jennie’s book opens when she’s 19 years old, studying abroad during her junior year of college.

Why did I go to France in the first place if I was so fearful? 

And I am one of the most fearful people you can meet. I have been terrified of

everything outside of my small life, haunted by the “what ifs,” accosted by

worry and the fear of flying or of grief, ever since I can remember.”

Jennie is painfully honest throughout her book, and confessions like these bring us closer to her. The irony of it, however, is that time and time again, she comes up against something so scary and instead of running away, she confronts the very thing that terrifies her. It’s also inspiring to read about someone (whom I can so closely identify with) abandoning everything to chase after her dreams…literally, since Jennie dreamed at age 17 about meeting and marrying a French man. And she sets out to find him and do just that.

Jennie will hold your hand and bring you along with her as she comes up against loss (suicide and death), depression, and addiction. She’ll describe the cultures and scenery with such vivid detail that it seems as if you’re right there with her; you’ll feel the monsoon, curse the Celiac disease, weep for the dying baby in her arms. You’ll fight back tears when she loses her brother and her fourth child, Alistair. You’ll cheer when she marries Matthieu and they bring their babies into the world. And you’ll laugh with recognition as she appreciates the little things (Fanta and hot showers), schleps strollers up and down stairs, and deals with construction workers and their endless dust.

Jennie manages to woo us with her grace and her immense well of gratitude…that never runs dry despite the many miles she travels, the experiences she has, and the life lessons she learns along the way.

What are you waiting for? Buy your paperback copy of A Lady in France on Amazon! (you can also get it on Kindle there!)

Want to connect with the author, Jennie Goutet? Of course you do!

Follow her on Twitter: @aladyinFrance

Read Jennie’s blog.

“Like” Jennie on Facebook.

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Jennie Goutet

Jennie blogs at A Lady in France and is a contributing author to Sunshine After the Storm — A Survival Guide For the Grieving Mother. She was a BlogHer Voice of the Year pick two years running, and her writing has appeared in Huffington Post, Queen Latifah’s website, and BlogHer, among other places. She lives just outside of Paris with her husband and three children.

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#WhereILivedWednesday with Ann Imig of Ann’s Rants

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241 East Livingston Place.

No one had ever lived there before us. It was a clean slate; a brand new house that smelled of paint and possibility. I was 11 when we moved in.

There was a pea gravel driveway and Dad liked lots of lush landscaping: liriope (though we called it “monkey grass”), ligustrums, palm trees, birch trees, and dogwoods.

We put in a pool in the backyard. One night Mom roused us from our cozy beds. Apparently the entire frog population of southeastern Louisiana had migrated to our freshly dug pit, not yet plastered. It seemed they were either very chatty with one another or it was mating season. Either way, we used brooms and rakes to coax them into garbage cans. We walked the cans down to the ditch at the end of the next block and introduced them to their new home so we could finally sleep.

There were railroad tracks nearby. At first the trains and their whistles bothered me; I stared at the ceiling at night, watching my fan go round and round. I started having irrational fears and stopped sleeping. Mom was a trooper. She’d come in my room and talk to me, sometimes rub my back for awhile to help me fall asleep.

We had a brass mail slot in the front door. Darby, our Yorkshire Terrier, ripped up the mail as it came in, shredding it to pieces if we weren’t there to rescue it first. We’d come home to a pile of torn up envelopes, flyers and paper, wet with doggie drool.

The unfinished third floor became our attic. Steep steps led up to a small area that became the backdrop for a Magellan video, a history assignment I had in seventh grade. Lori, Cecilia, Genevieve and I sweated like mad and put together a silly script. I played Barbara Walters, wearing a pale pink dress with shoulder pads that belonged to my mom. Lori took the role of Magellan, sporting a funny-smelling old man mask we had. One of my parents tilted the video camera from side to side to emulate a rolling ship at sea.

My room had dark green, almost turquoise carpet and light pink paint on the walls. I remember sitting on the floor, still in my red plaid uniform skirt, cutting myself for the first time. I was maybe 12 or 13 years old.

I cried in that room when I had a fight with my best friend. We stopped speaking to one other for a long time. It was rough. Rougher than I let on to anyone.

Sometimes late at night, I’d crawl under my bed to talk to my few friends on the phone. Being under there helped muffle the noise of my voice, because I wasn’t supposed to be up that late, or be tying up the phone for that long (pre-call waiting, a-hem).

I had my own bathroom (one of the advantages of being the only girl). Back then I showered and washed my hair every day (funny how that’s changed). In the small cabinet underneath my sink I had a set of tall, skinny pink & purple rollers and a crimping iron. And some Studio Line from L’Oréal products.

I remember running up to my room after the family meeting we had when my parents told us they were getting divorced. I grabbed my phone with shaking hands and dialed number after number until I got someone on the line. I made plans to leave and grabbed my backpack and a jacket out of my closet. I knew somehow that nothing would be the same when I returned. I looked around at my stuff and thought about how different things look after tragedy hits.

We moved into 241 East Livingston Place as a nuclear family. We left fragmented and a little frayed around the edges.

Want to join the fun? Head over to Ann’s blog on the last Wednesday of every month for the Where I Lived Wednesday linkup!

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A Room of My Own

I can’t stop thinking about writing. I write in my head all the time. In fact, I write my best blog posts while I’m driving my car or waiting in carpool line at the twins’ elementary school.

And that’s too bad because nothing gets copied to paper.

There was a time when I woke up at 5 a.m. every day and devoted myself to the daily practice of morning pages, as Anne Lamott recommends in Bird By Bird.

Eerily, that time was three years ago. Before I got pregnant unexpectedly with our third child, before I knew I was pregnant…and then became too tired to maintain that rigorous schedule.

I want to get back to an early morning writing practice. But since I started kicking some of my meds to the curb, sleep doesn’t come easily, which translates to being very tired in the mornings and having a tough time dragging myself out of bed.

Perhaps if I began rousing myself earlier, I’d solve my insomnia problems? Then I’d get some real writing done AND I’d sleep better. It’ll be a win-win!

My mind keeps wandering to Virginia Woolf’s essay A Room of One’s Own. I wish I had a little nook to write in, a space that was just mine. There wouldn’t be any stray Cheerios or Fisher-Price toys underfoot, no Dora the Explorer in the background; it would be sparsely decorated so as not to distract me. I envision a big, cozy chair and a fun little stool for my feet. A coaster with a cup of hot tea perched on it.

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Sometimes I look around our house and I feel selfish for wanting my own space. Of course I love my husband and our three children, but I just want a little nook.

I wonder how it would change my productivity and my writing?

For now, I think I’ll start setting my alarm clock for 5 a.m., at least a few mornings a week.

What about you? Where do you write? What is your fool-proof writing recipe? How do you keep yourself focused? What helps you draw out your muse? Any tips?

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My Inner Critic

From the second I wake up each morning until I fall asleep each night, I hear a running commentary in my head. It usually goes something like this:

“You’re so freaking stupid. I can’t believe you did that.”

“What is wrong with you?”

“Of course you screwed up. You always do. Typical.”

“You’re an awful mother. If you worked with her more, she wouldn’t have delays.”

“Don’t bother showering or putting on something nice. You’ll still look like shit.”

Before you can ask, no, I’m not kidding.

There’s a very old record player somewhere inside of me. And this same record has been on the turntable for years. Because it’s scratched in places, some parts just play over and over again. Drumming it in. Sealing it. Locking it tight.

“Just shut up. You don’t have anything important or intelligent to say.”

“I can’t believe you left the house looking like that. You’re disgusting.”

“Look at your flabby stomach. You’re so lazy. You need to go on a diet.”

“Why haven’t you been exercising? It’s your fault you are so out of shape. What a slob.” 

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I had a Fisher-Price record player similar to this one. Did you?

I talk to myself inside my head and the voice I hear is my own, but it is not very nice. It’s loud and coarse, angry, bitter and demeaning. There are no manners, no niceties. I’ve been doing this for so long I can’t quite remember when it began, or how or why. I don’t recall a time when I didn’t hear these things. Sure, the language evolved a bit over time and cuss words got sprinkled in here and there, but otherwise– it’s the way it’s always been.

And although I just became aware of how severe the problem is, it’s an entirely different matter to try to stop it. The behavior is so deeply ingrained, so habitual– it lasts all day long, every day. The idea of not doing it seems too daunting a task. Removing a ritual that’s been in place since I was maybe 10 or 12 years old? How do I even begin?

My therapist said, “It’s no wonder you’re depressed and feeling so strung out. Think about how it makes you feel to be beaten down in this way, all the time. That takes a toll on a person.”


I chewed on that for a few minutes before I started to cry.

I am, and have been, my own worst enemy. Self sabotage at its best.

And you know what’s almost comical? The things I say to myself I would never dream of saying to someone else. Not even on my worst day or if I was really upset. You just don’t speak to people that way! It’s rude and downright mean. It’s fine to have an opinion on something, but if you disagree you still need to be respectful in the process. There’s certainly no need for name calling.

But it’s totally acceptable to treat myself like shit. Because after all, I deserve it.

You know how sometimes you’re driving in the car and you wind up at your destination with absolutely no clue how you got there? You pull into a spot and shift into park and all of a sudden it’s like you snap yourself awake.

How did I get here? Wait, what? I’m in carpool line? I drove here myself? When?

It’s life on auto pilot. You go through the motions because you’ve done them a million times before and so you can multitask with the best of ‘em.

And so is the way with my inner critic.

My children don’t know about my inner critic. I hope they’ll never find out. And I pray every day that they’ll never develop one themselves.

Do you have an inner critic? What does he/she say to you? And if not, am I all alone in this?





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More Grammar Mistakes (a follow-up post)


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I wrote a post recently that resonated with many people: Top Eight Grammar Mistakes . It went over very well and in the comments, several of you left suggestions for other common grammar errors. So I decided it would be helpful to do a Part II, a follow-up post of sorts.

It’s important to master proper grammar because your writing is often the first thing people see about you.

In no particular order, here’s a(nother) list of commonly made grammatical mistakes:

1.) Pique, peak, peek

Three totally unrelated words. Pique is a verb, peak is a noun, and peek can be a noun or a verb, meaning a quick glance (noun), or to look at something furtively (verb).

Examples: Her blog post about social media mavens piqued my interest.

He hiked all the way up to the peak of the mountain.

If I’m worried about burning dinner, I just peek into the oven.

2.) Lay vs. lie

Lay means to put or place in a horizontal position, to set something down (or to lay eggs!). Lie is a noun and a verb. As a noun it means a false statement or an untruth. As a verb it means to either tell someone something untrue or the act of resting or being in a horizontal position.

Examples: I asked her to lay her book down before taking the test.

When his son came home late, he lied about where he’d been.

Whenever I have a bad headache, my mom tells me to lie down for awhile.

3.) Principal vs. principle

Principal can be a noun or an adjective; as a noun, it’s the head or director of something, i.e. the school principal. As an adjective, it describes something that is first or highest in rank. Principles, on the other hand, are guidelines or rules.

Here’s an example to help you remember: The high school principal is your PAL. Get it?

The principles behind calculus have always eluded me.

4.) Then vs. than 

Then is a noun (time), an adjective (being such at that time), & an adverb (at that time, next, or soon). Than is a conjunction used when referring to a comparison or a preference of some sort.

Examples: They did their homework, then they went outside to play.

The then president was impeached.

I’d rather jump off a cliff than eat bell peppers. He’s smarter than I.

5.) Faze & phase

Faze means to worry, bother, or disturb. Phase refers to a stage in a process of development; OR the phases of the moon.

Examples: She was so used to being bullied that the mean words didn’t even faze her.

My toddler throws tantrums all day long; they say it’s a phase, and I can’t wait until it’s over!

6.) Piece vs. peace

Piece is a part of something, or a slice of pie. Peace is the absence of any strife, war or disagreement.

Examples: Do you have a piece of gum?

As the mother of three, I often wish for peace and quiet.

 7.) Your & you’re

Your is possessive and you’re is a contraction, short for you are.

Examples: Is that your glass of wine or mine?

You’re going to drive me crazy if you don’t stop that.


So what am I leaving out this time? Be sure to leave me some examples in the comments! And thanks again for your suggestions for this post!

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