claire's sleep secrets/part 2: sleep training

A while back I wrote a post called "Claire's Sleep Secrets" detailing how we had gotten Claire to sleep through the night by about 3 months.  I stand by the advice I gave there - it gave us a lot of wonderful nights of rest and Claire was a happy newborn.  You can't ask for much more than that!  

But then the 4 month sleep regression hit us REALLY hard.  We stuck to our principles of letting her fuss a bit before picking her up, but she became more and more persistent.  At first she picked up her middle of the night feeding again.  Then she picked up a 3 am feeding.  Soon after she stopped letting us put her down awake - she would cry and cry until we rocked her down, sometimes spending 30 minutes or more confined to sitting with her in one of our arms until she fell asleep.  On her worst nights, she'd be up 5-6 times, ultimately ending up in bed with us.  We replaced the pacifier a lot.

I kept thinking to myself that this was the way I had planned to parent - I was finding the most in common with Attachment Parenting principles and I was scared of Claire feeling alone.  But then her naps went the way of her nighttime sleep - she was only getting short naps in the sling.  We stopped wanting to go out (it loses its appeal when you come relieve the sitter at midnight only to be woken up an hour later.)  We knew we had to do something.

We had briefly attempted cry it out at a bad time, around 4 months.  It didn't work at all - she wailed for over an hour (with lots of reassurance intervals) before ending up in our bed and the experience sort of scarred me.  I knew though that 6 months was a good age for forming habits, and after having a baby scream at me with her eyes completely closed (she was SO TIRED) one night I laid her down, closed the door, and left the room.  She cried.  Darrell went in after about 5 minutes and told her "we're here, we love you, it's time for sleep."  She cried some more.  Again, "we're here, we love you, it's time for sleep."  5 minutes later......total silence.  I was obviously terrified that something horrible had happened but no - I peeked into see her sleeping soundly.  Here's the craziest part - each time she woke that night (which was significantly less than usual anyways) she re-settled within 5 minutes on her own.  She didn't even demand a night feeding!  I thought for sure she would want to eat at least once, considering she had been nursing back down 3-4 times each night.

What we had been doing, we realized, was keeping her from learning how to put herself to sleep.  We had stolen that skill from her when she went through the developmental leap at 4 months.  Instead of reinforcing her skills, we coddled her a little bit too much.  At the time it seemed like the easy way out, but we were only making life hard for ourselves in the long run.

We resolved to do the same thing on night two - I spent the entire day a little bit nervous.  Surely it was a fluke....she would wail for an hour tonight, I thought.  But nope, the books were right.  She cried for about half the time she had the night before - less than 10 minutes.  We laid her down when she showed signs of being tired and there was very little fuss.  She awoke a couple times that night (I can't be sure what times) but her crying was so minimal that I hardly remember it.  She put herself back to sleep even more quickly.

Night three....I was terrified of.  I work out of town every Tuesday and Wednesday in my hometown & we stay with my parents.  She has a crib there, but it's in my room, so I sleep right next to her.  We laid her down when she acted tired at 7:15 ish, and she cried less than 5 minutes before falling asleep, just like Ferber said she would.  This evening she didn't wake up until 4 am - at which point she started crying, definitely realized I was in the bed across the room, and didn't stop.  I ended up having to leave the room to sleep on the couch in the living room where I slept until 7, when I went to get her.  She stopped crying pretty quickly after I left the room, but I'm nervous about how this will affect her sleep in the future when we're there - we may have to move the crib or my sleeping situation, and I'm not sure how we would make that happen.  Hopefully by next week she'll be sleeping through the night consistently and it won't be necessary to deal with the wake up when we're in the room with her.

Night four got even harder.  Have you ever heard of an extinction burst?  It basically means (in science) your subject is amping up the original behavior in a last ditch attempt to win the war.  Here you've got two choices.

1) Wait it out, knowing that this is just the peak of the mountain you have to climb over.

2)  Never sleep again.

Okay, that might be sort of dramatic, but it's mostly true.  Claire cried for almost an hour on night four.  What can I say?  She's smart and stubborn.  I was REALLY REALLY REALLY tempted to go in and save her but after letting the internet remind me that doing so would mean the past nights had been a complete waste and we'd have to start ALL OVER I instead grabbed a bar of chocolate and attached my butt to the couch for some louder-than-normal Gilmore Girls.  She did eventually fall asleep, only waking for a few minutes around 4 am and falling back to sleep really quickly.

On night 5 we were pretty much home free.  She didn't cry more than 5 minutes any subsequent night and we've all continued to sleep through the night.  Now she wakes up and babbles a little bit around 6 am (when she's really hungry) and I pick up her, bring her into bed with me, and we nurse and snuggle until about 7 am.  Sometimes after travel or a screw up in our schedule she'll revert to crying for a bit longer when she goes down, but otherwise she's been predictably good at putting herself to sleep at night.  In sum, sleep training kind of saved us all.  It's not something I ever thought I would do, but now that we're through it I feel like it was absolutely the best decision for our family and for Claire!


vienna sling share/volume 3: kara

This week I'm thrilled to introduce Kara Peck and her daughter Grace, who will be sharing their very bittersweet (last!) babywearing experiences in our sling share series with Vienna Springs.  

In Kara's words: 

I first dabbled in wearing with my third baby, however, I had no help or advice.  Couple that to the carrier I had not being ideal, and I never got the hang of it.  

Fast forward to the fourth baby, and I started looking into better options.  It was that or drown!  I'm sure most parents can relate to that feeling.  With Grace, I found a much better carrier and a large community of help.  My experience just grew from there.  With such a large group of support and advisors, I quickly found myself deeply obsessed with wearing my daughter!  I was trying all the carriers I could get my hands on and making friends through it all.  I loved it!  

I had been wearing my "baby" for two years, at that point you become a toddler wearer, and you have to be a little more fierce about your decision to wear your child.  That's about the time I stumbled into a sweet group of friends online and found the Vienna Springs sling share.  I was quick to jump at the chance to try her slings.  My wearing days were slipping away, and the opportunity couldn't be missed.  I signed up and anxiously awaited my turn.  I began to wonder if we would even use it in the week we were slotted to have it.  Well the day it came, I opened up the package, feeling rather bittersweet about it.  Grace knows when new carriers are in the house, she was super excited.  When she saw it, she said "Ohhh pretty!"  Her eyes were lit up and she immediately wanted an up!  I was thrilled, I can tell you.  We of course loved the sling.  More than that, loved the fact that we could put all the love we had for wearing and all the love and friendships we had been give into a sling, and share it.  How amazing is that?  To be a part of something so beautiful.  I am honored and blessed.  The day we took these pictures is the last day we wore.  I am sad to say it, but so glad to be passing on the love.  To know that something so special exists is wonderful!  I think it's also safe to say, my daughter was thankful too!  Look at that smile!  I may not be wearing anymore, but that doesn't mean I've lost the love and kinship with other babywearing mamas.  I pass it on wherever I can.  As you can see, I'm not the only one who feels that way.  As parents, we often feel alone - well you aren't!  Don't hesitate to reach out.  Chances are you'll be as welcomed and blessed as I have been.  


the weekender/christmas edition!

Sorry for the radio silence everyone!  Our little house got attacked by the nastiest of colds, and last week, well I think we can pretty much strike it from the record.  Not much of anything happened really, and Darrell was the only one that made it out unscathed - although he was STILL forced to take a sick day just to take care of Claire & I on 6 month shot days.  Shot days are the worst, am I right?!  And I was just kind of pathetic at that point, all sweatpants and coughs and runny nose nonsense, not nearly the kind of parent you want taking care of your baby that just had 3 shots (in one day!  sheesh!) so Darrell came home from work and took over.  

I think we're mostly out of the woods now, I've been diffusing all the anti-germ essential oils for a week (more on this soon....) and it seems to have actually worked.  Friday night we went out for noodle soup just to make sure every cold was properly kicked to the curb. 

There is this fantastic restaurant in St. Louis' Chinatown called Famous Szechuan Pavilion.  Yes, we have a Chinatown, and yes it is VERY small.  But it exists!  Having been to China, well, this is as close to the real deal as it gets.  They don't turn the heat on (space heaters only, which I'm not sure actually saves any electricity but you know....) and the water isn't served cold.  Cleanliness is questionable.  However!  It's BYOB and all the food is served boiling hot, so no worries.  Get the house noodle soup and the vegetable fried rice.  Bonus points for frying an egg and serving it atop the fried rice leftovers for breakfast the next day!

 By Saturday we were all feeling mostly recovered and decided that it was time that Claire meet Santa!  She basically killed the first Santa visit.  Is it a little mean if I say I was kind of disappointed she didn't cry?  Those pictures are kind of hilarious.  I'm sure I'm jinxing us for next year and she'll have a total meltdown.  But she loved this guy!  He was sort of magical in a Miracle on 34th street kind of way.  He actually insisted he chat with every child after taking a picture (which made the line loooooooong) and he really did talk to Claire, and she stared into his eyes like he was Old St. Nick for sure, just rapt in attention.  Crazy stuff.  I'm not sure I could've felt any more warm & fuzzy.  

 Claire is definitely into the sparkly and fun elements of Christmas.  Her exersaucer is right next to our tree and this is pretty much all she does in it anymore: 

Holds her little hands like that and stares at the lights.  Okay, now for the rest of the baby photos this week that are completely unrelated to this narrative.  

She keeps trying to pull herself up on things and I keep telling her she's only 6 months old.  So far, she's winning this argument.  


newly minted traditions

Claire has the great fortune of being the first grandchild in our family - to say that she's had attention lavished on her since birth would be an understatement, and we've recorded practically her entire life.  Between the new iPhone's "burst" feature and my obsession with documenting her outfits we have so many good pictures of our daughter - pictures we have absolutely no idea what to do with!  It seems silly to leave them on our phones for our eyes only (and we share with anyone who cares to see in a shared photo stream) but it can be a cumbersome task to print and fill photo frames.  I'm not a crafty person and I am 100% okay with that.  

I'm also picky - the photo frame market isn't exactly geared towards young and modern, so when I found Minted's collection of photo art I was thrilled.  Here was something I wanted hanging in my home!  They have perhaps the only "baby's first year" option I've ever considered let alone really  wanted.  For those of us who take perhaps a few too many photos of our children (never!) they have great options like this "I love you to the moon and back" print that allows you to fill in with all your best snaps.  I could probably fill in three of them, actually, but I'll try to restrain myself.  If you happen to be able to narrow it down to just one photo - I applaud you - their gold foil prints are an amazing way to highlight some photography magic.  When you add the option of their (very affordable) modern gallery framing you have an all-in-one way to preserve your memories in the best way possible.  Expect photos of my living room covered in little collages of Claire, coming very soon!

ps - i was compensated by minted for posting about their art, but all opinions included are my own, i've been using their services for cards, invitation, and calling cards for years!  


when time starts to fly

So these blog posts lately, you may have noticed, are seriously lacking in textual components.  This isn't because of lack of things to say - there are always things to say, even when life gets really really normal & boring in that delicious way that it sometimes does when you have an exciting 6 month old but not a very exciting social life.  It's been more about the time it takes to say them.  I love sharing with you.  I want to say more.  But lately I've been spending less time talking and more time watching.  

Watching this little girl smile so hard she squishes her whole face up in that excited childlike way that reminds you of what it means to be happy with your whole body.  Watching her marvel at Christmas tree lights and puppy dog fur, and watching her army crawl towards exactly what she wants with a determination that makes me both proud & terrified (because I know what that determination can do, and how it sometimes can be a bit dangerous.)  I've watched her sleep when I should've been sleeping, watched her eat when I should've been typing an email with my other hand, and watched her grow with a quickness that is simultaneously exciting and heartbreaking.  

I frequently feel as though I didn't truly understand the concept of time passing until I became a mother, and now it stays with me, an acute awareness of every passing second.  

Sometimes I think I don't have a very good memory, but I am good at writing down how I'm feeling in the moment and this is where I do that - I just need to be more consistent with doing it.  Because someday when Claire is 17 and I only have the faint memory of what the top of her head smelled like the week she was born, I'll be able to read it here and it will come back to me.  I frequently think I'm too buried in my phone, too connected all the time, but for some things (the memories you want to save forever) the internet is just really awesome.  


the weekender: thanksgiving edition

Hello, from this side of a holiday weekend!  Aren't Mondays after holidays just the worst?  Perhaps it will make me feel better to reminisce on the weekend.  

From Thursday - Sunday we did a lot of this: 

and a lot of this (Claire's first Christmas movie, Elf!) 

We took lots of naps....

and lots of adorable pictures!

I hope you all had a lovely Thanksgiving weekend - now onto the best month of the year!  


let your heart run free/a giveaway with dimvaloo active living

Everything I'm wearing in the photos above can be found at Dimvaloo Active Living in Ladue.  

Yoga has been a big part of my life since college, and it's been the biggest commitment I've ever made to an exercise routine.  I really believe in it as the perfect workout - it does so much for your  physical & mental well being, and well-taught yoga works for every body type!  I love running, but after Claire was born and I needed to slowly step back into a workout, I went straight back to yoga.  Not only do I think it made me capable of running again so soon, I think it's what keeps me sane and reminds me to live in the moment as a mother.  Claire & I even go to mama/baby yoga classes every Friday - I'm starting her early!  

I hate to admit it, but on days when I'm going to yoga, I pretty much wear my gear all day long.  It certainly helps if it's cute!  Dimvaloo in Ladue has to have the most fun yoga clothes on the market.  I love the prints, the brights, the patterns - I mean come on, those lime green pants!  Their clothes would make a great gift for the yogi in your life, or as a little incentive to really get after your New Year's resolution (which is to go to yoga more, right?)  Luckily I can help you get a head start on your shopping.  Kate at Dimvaloo is giving away a $50 gift card to one lucky reader - and you can enter below!  This is just the start of an ongoing collaboration that I'm incredibly excited about.  I'll be teaching a class and hosting a "Wine Down Wednesday" event in January with the amazing Jess of City in a Jar, and there will be even more fun prizes to win at that event as well.  More details to come!  


friday link love

And just like that, it was winter!  Or so it seems in St. Louis - I spent a bit of time this week digging out my windshield, we put up the tree, and things are feeling very festive around here whether we were ready for it or not!  This weekend we're going home to Mt. Vernon to see family, Claire & I will be attending my friend's baby shower, and then after this weekend, it's time for Thanksgiving (crazy!)  Here's hoping I have time to sneak in a few runs, and maybe see the new Hunger Games?  

I hope you have a wonderful weekend!  Here are this week's links...

What would Disney princesses look like with real waistlines?  Apparently, a lot more normal!  How had I never noticed how crazy they were drawn?

I already have an issue with buying headbands for Claire, but now that I've found this Etsy shop I think it's going to become an even bigger problem.

Do we have a "mommy" problem in this country?  I thought this article was so interesting.

A day at home with a newborn, in excruciating detail & accuracy.

Ever since the temperatures have dropped, all I want to eat is soup!  This one sounds particularly yummy.

I've been reading this book & loving it - although admittedly, I've been tempted to just start re-reading Harry Potter, because for some reason this time of year makes me nostalgic about it!

I've been wearing Uggs for years (don't care, they're stupid comfy) but I've been thinking it might be time to upgrade, what with St. Louis' notoriously snowy winters the past few years.  These look kind of amazing!  


vienna sling share/volume 2: jessica & crystal

The next women to sharing their babywearing experiences in the Vienna Sling Share series will be Jessica, gorgeous mama to baby Emily, and Crystal who is wearing her daughter Ava, and also has a son named Braxton.  Take it away ladies!    

For us, babywearing began when my husband deployed to Afghanistan.  It was a life saver to put my daughter in a sling to get her calmed down, walk our two dogs, and get stuff done around the house.  It became a way of life for us.  I was so honored to be part of this sling share for a mama who needs a carrier.  My daughter Emily & I had a great time breaking in Huckleberry.  We did a lot of shopping and a lot of dog walking!  This was the first sling that we ever experimented with different carries - we mastered kangaroo and a back carry!  My favorite memory with Huckleberry was taking a trip to a pumpkin patch for Emily's first upcoming Halloween.  She was able to look at pumpkins, pet the goats & ponies, and be cuddled up with me the whole time.  We loved taking part in the Vienna Sling Share and sent it off with lots of love from the two of us.  I hope everyone else enjoys it as much as we did!  


Emily & Jessica

When I first became a mom with my son Braxton, baby wearing wasn't really on my agenda. I didn't know anything about it besides randomly seeing people using those Baby Bjorn carriers...even back then I thought to myself how uncomfortable they looked for both mom and baby so I steered clear of them. When I was pregnant with my second, Ava, I was introduced to the world of baby wearing by some friends. That's when I saw that there was so much more out there than those awful Bjorns. 

When Ava was born I realized that if I wanted to get anything done with two kids, I was going to have to wear her. Baby wearing really is a necessity when you have more than one child. Luckily Ava loved being close to me, and being worn. I started out by wrapping, because somehow ring slings intimidated me. The thing with wrapping is it can be time consuming compared to a ring sling where you just have to basically throw it over your shoulder, put baby in, and go.

I finally decided to buy a Sakura Bloom ring sling when Ava was around 7 months old, and I remember the first time I put her in it I was kicking myself that I didn't do it sooner. It was much easier than I had ever imagined. It may sound silly but because of the sling, I gained friendships with other like minded ladies from all over the world. There really was a community of moms out there that came together out of the love for using these slings. 

Because of that community I got to participate in the Vienna Sling Share, which is such a great idea. Instead of doing it for profit, or for personal gain, it's purpose was to break in a brand new sling for a deserving mama at the end. It's nice to know that there are people out there that still do nice stuff for others. Ring slings can be expensive, and I know that some people overlook them because of the price, but they really are worth it. 

When we got the sling in the mail, I instantly opened it and put Ava in. She was so sleepy already but I just couldn't wait, and neither could she since she fell right asleep in it. The color, Huckleberry, was seriously the perfect choice for the sling share. It was rich but subtle at the same time, so it works well for everyone...even me with my bright red hair. We were fourth on the list to get the sling and it was already super soft. I have never had a silk sling, only a pure and a simple linen by Sakura Bloom, but it felt amazing. It was pretty much love at first wear. Vienna Springs really makes a great sling, I'm telling you. 

We got the sling just in time for Halloween and it came in handy! Ava and I put on our kitten ears and did some trick or treating with Braxton around our small neighborhood before putting on the real costumes and going out for the night. Ava's costume was a little too poofy to wear in the sling but it was still fun. I don't see our baby wearing journey going for much longer, considering she's becoming very independent now, but I have cherished these moments. I'm so grateful that I have had something to help me through these "mom of two moments" and that I haven't had to rely on getting flustered with strollers or feeling helpless. My advice to any new parent is wear them, and don't be intimidated, because it will make your life so much easier. 




the weekender

Oh hey!  Hope you had as rad of a weekend as we did : )  

There was lots of snuggling, lots of snow, lots of sushi.  Really, lots of all the things & people we love.  So let's get this kicked off with the picture that embodies our life right now - a semi-mobile baby with a cute cloth diaper booty.  

Babies in bonnets in slings - is there anything cuter (the answer is no!  No there's not!)  

Friday night we went to Art: 314 @ the Contemporary Art Museum - a fun excuse to dress up.  Claire was not into my selfies quite as much as I was, but come on - gotta max out on the selfies when your false eyelash game is on!  

And then I got exactly one photo of my outfit...... #notafashionblogger

Claire woke us up at 7 the next day (actually, that's later than I thought we would get) so we got productive and put the tree up!  It was perfect timing - the first snow of the year started to fall that afternoon.  

And then this happened.  I swear my best timeline of Claire's growth will be the insane amount of photos I have of her sleeping on her daddy's chest.  Why can't it always be the weekend?  


friday link love

I'm not sure why, but my link love posts always get me so reflective.  Probably because it's always the end of another week, and the weeks seem to pass so quickly with Claire in the mix.  

This week, I really felt how close it is - how close we are to that time of year where everyone really shows their true colors.  Where you can feel stressed, or feel the joy.  I'm already feeling a little anxiety about our family gatherings - there's so much more pressure on us to come to EVERYTHING and to be everywhere because of Claire.  Just looking at our calendar for Thanksgiving & Christmas makes me nervous.  

But, I just need to keep in mind that the most important thing is us three and I'm trying to come to terms with the fact that we can't do everything.  Christmas with a baby will be a lot easier if we just simplify.  A few things we're doing differently this year?  Fewer gifts - I'm talking just parents, siblings, and one another.  I love buying something for each and every one of my loved ones, but this year of course we want to devote the majority of our resources to Claire, and the time investment in finding the right thing for everyone is just too much!  No doubling up on events - we won't be carting ourselves around to three lunches between noon and 3 pm.  Just one Thanksgiving dinner.  Living in the moment, rather than worrying about having Claire fed and changed by the time we have to hurry hurry to the next house.  

Lastly, no pressuring ourselves about decorating.  We'll have a tree - and that's it! And even though we'll be using our good old fake tree we'll probably take a trip to a tree farm for some photos of a bundled up baby, because you have to, right?  

Ranting about the holiday season, finished.  Here are this week's favorite links!  

Seriously, stop asking parents how their kids are sleeping!  

I cannot get enough of these funny posts captioning old paintings: here, women having a terrible time at old parties, and women being proposed to.  

Did you know that even sign language has accents?  

I don't have any *fancy* holiday parties this year, but I kind of wish that I did so I'd have an excuse to wear this dress!  

Graphic design can be so clever!  I never noticed most of these hidden messages in famous logos.  

Made me laugh, but also makes me shake my head!  I think someone from Mt. Vernon, IL wrote this e-card.  


my grown up christmas list

I know, I know, it's only November 13th, but realistically Christmas will be here before we know it!  Darrell & I already started our shopping, and I wanted to share a few things that are on my radar for gifts and to-dos.  

This week, I'll definitely be tackling Christmas cards.  I love love love sending them out, but this year I'm trying to pick a more budget friendly option - we have to send more cards out now that pictures of Claire are involved, and more cards means more $!  We'll probably end up using Snapfish or Shutterfly for the first time, but of course my favorite place to get cards if money was no object would be Minted.  I love their real gold foil accents!  

For Claire, I know we'll get clothes & toys a plenty (which is good, because I'm a bit lacking in the 6-12 month sizes) but I've also got my eye on this hand-stitched heirloom pillow from Etsy shop The Wild Hares, and another pair of moccasins for her from Giggles & Fluff.  It almost makes me tear up when I think about the fact that her first pair was SO huge when we received them 3 months ago, and now she's going to grow right out of them any day.  The buffalo plaid bonnet from Stella & Wilbur is one of my new favorites in their shop, I think bonnets are such a cute throwback and the perfect alternative to bows in the winter!  

For me?  At the top of my list is a cognac leather Lily Jade Madeleine diaper bag, a splurge but it seems it's the universal favorite!  I have enough slings to last a lifetime and will be wearing "sangria" from Sakura Bloom the whole month of December, but since it's discontinued I wanted to share Vienna Springs' holiday ready "bordeaux" sling.  The rich dark red would look picture perfect in photos!  (Her stockings are announced via her Instagram, and they go quickly!)  

Anything on your Christmas list that you're planning to get a head start on?  If there's anything that I've found true in the last few months of life with a baby, it's that getting a head start is the key to less stress!  


our family photos

Why is it so hard to get an entire family photo?  Really & truly, it's something that has bugged me since Claire has been born, that there are so few pictures of us as a threesome.  It's time to order Christmas cards (already!?) so we had to remedy that, stat.  A few weeks ago we headed to Tower Grove Park to snap some framers with our generous friends, Joanna & James.  They are crazy talented, and we got all of these shots in less than 30 minutes, which was about the point Claire was OVER it.  As you may well know, photos aren't always what they seem, and even though we took these in the middle of October we ended up picking the only day the temperature decided to jump back up to 80 degrees.  Needless to say, we weren't in those coats for very long!  
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