Tuesday, November 15, 2016

15 Truths About Sleep Training

Little One is a terrible sleeper. Sleep training was a nightmare and she still isn't sleeping through the night at seven months. Sleep training can be a controversial topic, some parents don't believe in it and others are strongly believe in one method or another.

As a first time parent, learning about your baby's sleep needs, patterns and signs is tricky. Babies are not like adults or even older children. They don't sleep when they're tired and their needs are totally different. There's a lot of room for error and mistakes are almost unavoidable.

We've learned a lot, read a lot and have come to a better place than ever before. A few months ago, if you had been at our house during bedtime, you would have sat with us while Little One screamed her head off for what seemed like an eternity. This happened to us every night for about six weeks. We actually had to kick our sleep training into high gear and power through a lot difficult times to get her to sleep.

But now, at bedtime, it is a totally different story. We go through our routine - bath time, diaper, 10 minutes of nursing, burping and into bed. I talk to her about how she's going to get all snug and have a great night sleep. A kiss on the forehead followed by, "We love you, sleep well, we'll see you in the morning." And she is off to sleep.

I know she doesn't fall asleep right away but she generally doesn't make a single noise. She puts herself to sleep every night. It has made nighttime feedings and nap times better too. We've even noticed that she can wake up at night or during a nap and put herself back to sleep without us.

For those of us who are firm believers (or those of you who are curious), there are some definite truths that are universal.

1. It's necessary - It's important. It changed our lives and made Little One's relationship with sleep so much better.

2. It's heartbreaking - While it is super important, as a mom your heart totally breaks as you sit there with the monitor crying at you. You just want to scoop her up but you know you shouldn't.

3. Sleep training takes time - It doesn't happen overnight. And actually, it usually doesn't happen in the four days that the Ferber Method describes. It's a process, some times you have to start all over again and some times you're interrupted by teething or a growth spurt.

4. There is no 'one-size-fits-all' solution - We did a little bit of Ferber and a little bit of the Rapid Extinction method.  We needed both options. Mix and match, as long as it is working for your family.

5. Baby will still love you in the morning - When I read this some where, I really need to hear it. It is so true. Your baby won't stop loving you because they cry the night before. Little One was and still is so happy to see us every time she wakes up.

6. You can do it - I really didn't think I could do it but if I can, you can too.

7. Your routine can be a lifesaver - I described ours above and it was the same all throughout sleep training. Now when she's tired and we start the routine, she is so happy.

8. Consistency is key - If you sleep train one night and not the next, your making a battle into a war.

9. You will make mistakes - Hindsight is 20/20. There were a number of times when we said, "Crap, we probably shouldn't have gone in to comfort her." But try to remember them and learn from them. You'll be able to get back on track after any mistake.

10. Every baby is different - So important to remember while you're sleep training.

11. The internet can help but use it with caution and common sense.

12. It's an accomplishment - When your baby is finally sleeping well and going down without a fight, take a minute to think about what you've accomplished.

13. Because it is totally worth it.

14. Don't let the good sleepers get you down. I have several friends who have excellent little sleepers. Try not to compare yourself to them.

15. Wine, ice cream, coffee, chocolate, trashy TV. Whatever your comfort object is, make sure you rely on it during sleep training. Having that comfort while you wait out a crying baby really helps.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Ultimate Baby Led Weaning Checklist

As of tomorrow, we'll be a full into the baby led weaning adventure. We're still loving it and are totally committed to it. Little One is has started to really love food, pickles are still her favorite. We've really established our eating routine, are exploring new recipes and are having a lot of fun with the whole process.

I'm excited to share some recipes soon but first, I wanted to share our Ultimate Baby Led Weaning Checklist. These are things that we use and need every day throughout this process.

1. Bibs - And a lot of them. We love these ones that we got from our Amazon registry. They're simple, there are a ton of them and they're easy to wash.

2. Paper towels - There's a lot of mess and a lot of cleaning up, paper towels are essentials.

3. Dogs - Not an essential but they are an important part of our cleaning crew here.

4. Patience - I wish I had a link for you to buy this one but that would be too easy.

5. Baby Led Weaning Cookbook - We use this for everything from how we cut up and serve certain fruits and veggies to our meal planning. There are some great recipes and it also provides a lot of inspiration. Once you start to think and cook like this book, you can figure out how to turn any of your favorites into a baby friendly recipe.

6. Good leftover containers/Tupperware - We tend to chop or cook enough food for several days at a time for Little One. We just store everything and take out pieces or cut off strips at meal time. For instance, there's a container full of sticks of peppers and cucumbers in the fridge right now. Doing this makes it easier and therefore, more likely that we'll get a meal in.

7. Sense of humor - If you don't think that the faces and mess are hysterical during Baby Led Weaning, you're crazy. We crack up all the time.

8. Camera - Speaking of funny faces, baby led weaning provides a lot of memories. Make sure you have your camera or phone ready to capture everything.

9. Good high chair - This is super important. Actually, one of the most important parts of baby led weaning. Ours is the Ingenuity Trio 3-in-1 Ridgedale High Chair, it works really well. 

Bonus tip: Make sure all of the parts are easily washable. I'm not joking about the mess.

10. The internet - In addition to that cookbook, I use Pinterest and Google pretty consistently for Baby Led Weaning planning, tips and ideas. See my Baby Led Weaning Board here.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Product Review: Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumparoo

Obsessed is probably an understatement here. Before I get into the product, you should know a few things about Little One. When I was pregnant, I used to say "She kicks all the time." And I would always get the same response, "This is just your first, you're not used to it."

Cut to a few months later, she kicked all the time when she was a newborn. We'd spend hours laying on our bed with her just kicking and kicking until she was tired. During our first pediatrician appointment, five days after she was born, the doctor said "oh, she's very active."

Then one day several weeks ago, we noticed that when we held her she would just jump up and down on our laps. When she was in her Rock 'N Play, she would just bounce and bounce. We both thought the doorway bouncers weren't sold any more plus we didn't have a good door way for it. So, we took to Amazon and found the Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumparoo - $59.99 and 2-day shipping with Prime.

From about two minutes after we put her in this chair, she was in love. Just look at her face in that picture. She will bounce for longer than she'll do any one other thing.

The variety of toys is a huge help because when she gets bored facing one way, we turn her and it's like a whole new toy for her. The lights and music are probably her favorite out of any toy so far.

My favorite things about the Jumparoo are:

-Variety of toys
-Her ability to face different directions
-Safety features - covers on the springs, sturdy seat
-Colors - She loves colors and the ones on this toy are great
-Different modes and volumes
-Size - It fits perfectly in our office
-Easy to set up

This toy also grows with Little One with different height settings so she'll be able to use it for a while.

A few things that I don't love is that there isn't much variety with the music, which is more difficult for us to handle than her. And it can be difficult to get her into it. Neither of these are dealer breakers, not at all.

As a family with two work at home parents, the Fisher-Price Rainforest Jumparoo has been a lifesaver because she loves to jump in it while mom and dad are working right next to her.

If you have an active little one and are looking for another independent play set up, this is the perfect toy. And I would encourage you to dance and bounce with them. She really goes crazy when I start moving with her.

Friday, November 4, 2016

21 Truths About Exclusively Breastfeeding

The choice to breastfeed, pump,use formula or some combination is a very personal and important decision for every family. I knew from the beginning that we would try to do exclusive breastfeeding and I was lucky to have it work wonderfully. I have plenty of friends who chose or had to do formula and others that did a combination.

When you decide to breastfeed you get tons of information and can look up even more online. Thinking back of the last seven months of exclusively nursing, I had some truths I wanted to share.

And those moms who have or are exclusively nursing will recognize a lot of these.

1. It's hard - There's no way around it, even for those of us who are lucky enough to have it go smoothly.

2. It can be lonely - There's a lot of time spent in quiet rooms with just you and your baby. A lot of those moments are precious but some are very lonely.

3. It's empowering - Think about it, you're growing a human.

4. Breastfed babies burp - Don't let them tell you otherwise.

5. Breastfed baby poop smells - I'm not sure where the rumor started that it doesn't.

6. You decide what to wear based on access to your boobs.

7. Boob fixes everything - If Little One is really freaking out, a little bit of nursing will always calm her down.

8. Nursing scarves are your friends.

9. You can't eat enough. There's never enough food in our house to keep up with all calories that baby takes from you. I call her a tiny calorie vampire.

10. It's not for everyone and that's ok. Happy, healthy mom and baby are all that matters.

11. There's a lot of luck involved. My girl had an easy time latching and we were very compatible, I was lucky.

12. Distracted eating is real and its so frustrating! What? Squirrel? Noise? Dad? Light? Nothing?

13. Water. You have to drink so much water. I thought that would end when my pregnancy ended. 

14. There can be a ton of pressure. Did you feed her enough? Is that why she won't sleep? 

15. And you always have questions. What foods do I eat/avoid? Are they getting enough milk? How can I tell when she's done?

16. But the internet might not be the best way to find answers.  There are some crazy people and some not so expert "experts" out there. Read carefully and use your head.

17. But don't worry, ALMOST everything is "normal".  Of course, not everything so use common sense.

18. It can be boring. Make sure you have entertainment, especially during growth spurts and cluster feeding times. How many times can one person watch The Office? A lot.

19. Don't give up. Even when you're tired  exhausted and baby won't focus or is screaming. Just take it one feeding at a time.

20. Staying awake during night feedings and during the early feedings is a struggle. I've developed quite the nighttime Zillow habit.

21. It's a blessing and they grow too fast. When you're nursing, you can't help but notice how fast baby springs up because you're holding them in the same position over and over again.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Little One's 6 Month Doctor's Appointment

It's hard to believe that Little One is 6 months old already, actually she's almost 7 months at this point. And for those of you who have watched your's grow up, you know that doctor's appointments can be stressful.

Little One was always...well, little. But the good news is she's continuing to grow really well. She's now in the 25th percentile for weight and 50th percentile for height. Her head is not little at all, it's actually close to the 90th percentile.

When the doctor says "she looks perfect, everything is great", it is such a big relief. We love our doctor and she's very down to earth, honest and level-headed. As first time parents, hearing that we're doing everything right makes our day.

I also love that she's very clear about our goals for her before the next appointment. This gives us something to look forward to and work on with our girl.

Poor Little One did have to get four shots at this one appointment but it's nothing that nursing and cuddling couldn't fix.

All-in-all it went well, Little One was pretty brave and everything looks great.

My advice for any one heading to one of your child's regular, first year appointment, is:

1. Make a list of your non-urgent questions.

2. Pay attention to the doctor.

3. Ask your doctor for goals for the next appointment.

4. Don't stress out about the shots.

5. Try to both go, if you can.

6. Try to remember and enjoy the moments, they go too fast, just like everything else.

Our 3rd Anniversary

Yesterday was our 3 year anniversary. I always see all these anniversary posts about how so much has changed in the years since marriage. And while we've had more than our fair share of change, what amazes me is the things that don't change.

We're still teammates, partners and best friends. We still make each other laugh and stand right by each other's side through everything. We're still actively interested in what the other has to say and are happy to just be together. And we still support each other, take interest in the other's hobbies and learn from each other.

I think the only way you can enjoy all the change is if you have a foundation of things that don't change. At the core, our relationship is still the same. So we can move any where in the world, have more children and tackle anything else that comes our way. Because we have that steady foundation.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Favorite Recipe: Mongolian Beef - PF Chang's Copycat Recipe


We've been focusing on more and more home cooking recently and we're trying hard to move past just protein with veggies on the side. My husband really wants to cook more actual recipes. Our deal is I find the recipes and he'll make them.

I found this one on, you guessed it, Pinterest. And we didn't have a Pinterest Fail, this recipe actually worked out really well.

We live no where near a PF Chang's and Chinese food around here leaves a little bit to be desired but we both love most Asian flavors. This recipe was a great for satisfying that craving.

Oh and for my Gluten Free friends, this recipe qualifies!

Here's the recipe:


225g (1/2 lb) stir fry beef (I used thin cut eye of round)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
coconut oil
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1 large clove garlic, crushed
60mls (1/4 cup) gluten free soy sauce
4 tablespoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons water
sesame seeds (optional, for garnish)
3 green salad onions, sliced at an angle

1. Cut your beef into thin strips and in a bowl (or ziplock bag) stir it together with the cornstarch until it is well coated.
2. Finely chop the garlic and grate your ginger, then prepare your salad onions by cutting them at an angle. Set a small handful of the onions aside to garnish the dish later.
3. In a bowl mix together the soy sauce, sugar and water.
4. Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a wok on a medium heat.
5. When it's hot add in the garlic and ginger and stir for a couple of seconds then immediately add in soy sauce mix, then the beef.
6. Give it a quick stir around and then add in the onions (minus some for garnish)
7. Stir continuously for 5-10 minutes until the beef is cooked and the sauce has thickened. If you find it is too thick then add in a little more water and stir well until it thins out a bit.
8. Serve immediately over rice, garnish with salad onions and sesame seeds if desired.

And here's the original source.