Brain Dump

Well, hi there! Have you noticed the radio silence around here lately? I sure have… my free time lately has been completely consumed by graduate school and I’m getting sick of it. I’m currently 3/4 of the way through my last class of graduate school (as in, ever…I graduate next month!) and it’s kicking my butt. I think I’m finally over the hump of the hardest assignments and am starting to wrap things up so hopefully I’ll have a little more time for blogging soon.

Since my mind is completely bogged down with writing papers, turning projects in, and reading research articles, I figured I’d do a quick drive-by post today with a few things we’ve been up to lately…and issue a promise that I’ll have actual content up soon. We’ve actually done a little bit more work around the house!

The first thing I want to tell you about is the new chairs we got in the dining room. I don’t want to spoil anything because I want to do a more thorough post on them later, but I’m in l-o-v-e with them. We finally gave up on the head chairs that we’ve been talking about reupholstering for like two and a half years now (do you remember those? no? that’s because it’s been over a year since I’ve even mentioned them…) and got these instead – and I’m thrilled with the decision! More on them later, just know they’re awesome.

We had a fabulous Fourth of July weekend – had some pool time, had friends over, did lots of relaxing, and just enjoyed our time together. So basically, it was like every other day we’ve had so far this summer. Perfection!

Jackson is officially starting to actually eat some of the food we put in front of him (mostly just avocado as of now, but he had a few bites of squash and sucked on some toast the other day) and it’s so fun to watch him start to explore it. We’re doing baby-led weaning and we’re taking it very slow, since he isn’t quite six months yet. We’re mostly just letting him play around and try a few different things at this point, but I have a feeling that within the next couple of weeks he’ll be ready to start eating more – he ate a whole slice of avocado last night at dinner!

I’ve had a lot of questions about Jackson’s high chair – it’s the Blames high chair from Ikea and we also bought the Pyttig support pillow, since he’s still a bit small for the high chair on his own. We love both of them and have been very happy so far. The high chair is very easy to keep clean and actually looks great at our table – some reviews I’ve read complain that it sits kind of low, but it’s perfectly level with our table, which we love because it feels like he’s really participating at meal time. The support pillow has been fantastic to help him feel more secure in the chair, and we’ve even brought it with us to restaurants a few times so he can sit in the big high chairs there too – we’re thinking about getting another one to keep in the car! I’d highly recommend both of them for anyone looking for a high chair.

(Just because I can’t resist a couple more cute photos)

And that’s our update as of right now. I’ll be back soon (hopefully later this week!) with a real post, promise!

How was your holiday weekend? Anyone do anything exciting?

Jackson: Five Months

Stats: No appointment this month, but our scale at home tells me Jackson currently weighs about 16 pounds (with a wet diaper and clothes, so a bit less!).

Clothing Size: Jack is still fitting pretty nicely into his 3-6 month clothes for now! I thought he’d grow out of it this month, but they all still fit very well. He actually had several of pairs of 0-3 pants that still fit him up until a couple of weeks ago, and most of his 6 month pants are pretty baggy on him. I honestly think he may still have one or two pairs of 0-3 pants that fit, since baby clothing sizes vary so much!

Sleep: We’re finally settling back into a good sleep routine and it seems that the worst of his sleep regression is over, thank goodness. Naps are officially happening in the crib, and he generally takes 4-5 naps a day that are anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, though over the last week or so he’s started to toss in a few longer naps. I’m hoping that means he’s getting ready to consolidate them into three good naps a day, but we’ll see! At night, he seems to be moving towards a 12-hour sleep schedule. Most nights he’ll go down around 7:00, sleep until 5:00 (with one or two wake-ups for his pacifier, though I don’t really count them because they take us less than 30 seconds to deal with), eat, and then go back to sleep until 7:00 or so. I feel like we’re still very much in a transitional time with his sleep, though, so I’m not confident in saying anything is going to stick right now!

Eating: Still breastfeeding exclusively, though he’s showing us more and more every day that he’s ready to start solids. He’s constantly lunging for our food when we eat around him – the other day we were at a restaurant and he was sitting in my lap, and he grabbed my plate and pulled it right up to him! He also sometimes will sit at the table with us while we’re eating, open his mouth, and shout “ahhh! ahhh!” like he’s waiting for us to plop something in there. We’ve said in the past we were going to wait until 6 months to start solids, but our resolve is wavering as he gets more and more eager, so we’ll see…I predict we’ll start this month!

Milestones: He is rolling all over the place now! He rolled across the living room one day, and we always come into his room after naps to find him in a completely different position than where we left him. He’s getting really good at sitting up – his balance is still a bit off (he’s a bit top heavy with his big head!), so he needs support, but he’s can hold himself in a sitting position for a long time now! This month he also found his voice and when he’s in a good mood our house is full of the sound of a shrieking, giggling, shouting baby. He absolutely loves to let out little screams and then giggle at himself. It’s probably the cutest thing I’ve ever seen in my life.

Things we want to remember: I want to remember how adorable this phase is. He’s just starting to be able to explore a little bit more – he hasn’t figured out crawling but he is learning how to manipulate his body a little more and he’s finding creative ways to get where he wants to go. I never want to forget the adorable little shrieks he lets out when he’s excited, or how eager he is when I’m drinking or eating in front of him and he thinks maybe, just maybe, I’ll give him some. I want to keep soaking up any cuddles I get because they’re starting to become more and more rare as he gets more mobile. And I said this last month, but I don’t ever want to forget that sweet little look of concentration when he’s trying to figure something new out…I love watching him learn!

Special outings or adventures: It’s summer, so outings are becoming more and more common around here! We’ve been all over the place this month – he had his first water adventure, he met his future wife (aka my best friend’s daughter), we kicked off his first ever summer spent at home with his family, and he got to try out his stroller without the car seat for the first time. This month also marked Corey’s first Father’s day!

Favorites: His current favorite things include Sophie the giraffe, rolling around on the floor, playing with Cullen (they are OBSESSED with each other now!), and diaper changes (he giggles the whole time). Our favorites include making him laugh, watching him explore and learn new things, and just how interactive he’s becoming.

What we’ve learned: We’ve learned a lot about his napping and sleep patterns this month! We learned how important it is to stick to something, even if you think it might not work, because it can revolutionize your whole life (I’m not exaggerating when I say naps in the crib have changed my life). We’re also continuing to learn every day how to work together a little more efficiently, and how to be the best parents possible to this awesome little kid.

Our Summer So Far…

Y’all, summer is the best. Ever.

I feel like this is the first summer Corey and I have really been able to enjoy together as adults – last summer (the first year we were both teachers), I was pregnant and sick most of the time. The whole summer was a blur because we were so caught up in the newness of me being pregnant, and I spent the vast majority of my time sleeping or laying around on the couch. This summer, though, we are both home with no obligations (other than one last graduate school course that I’m finishing up) and we are enjoying it as much as we possibly can.

I said in our summer bucket list that I wanted us to have at least one fun outing every week, and we’ve stuck to that so far. I’ve been really good about taking photos of what we’ve been doing (another one of my summer resolutions!) so I figured I’d share a quick roundup of what we’ve done so far.

Week One

We kicked off the first week of summer with some serious nap training for Jackson, so we tried to stick pretty close to the house for the most part. We’re the type of people that need to get out of the house frequently, so we went somewhere most days but it was usually just a quick trip to Target or the grocery store. We did, however, manage to squeeze in a couple of fun outings.

We took a long walk to the local park one day and let Jackson sit in his stroller without the carseat for the first time ever. He loved it. He was talking and cooing almost the whole time, and he didn’t get fussy once on the entire 45-minute walk. I think we’re going to try to make this a regular outing for us, because it was fantastic.

We also spent one afternoon at my sister’s house playing in their inflatable splash pad. It was Jackson’s first non-bath experience with water, and he was fascinated. It took him a little while to warm up to it – for the first fifteen minutes or so he was just sitting there staring at the water, trying to figure out what was going on. But once he got the hang of it, he was all about it. He kept trying to lunge away from me and crawl across the pool area (he can’t crawl yet, so that didn’t work out too well for him…) and he loved just hanging out in the water. We spent forever playing around with the water that afternoon, and I can’t wait to do it again with him!

Week Two

The second week of summer (last week) we headed up to San Marcos to meet my best friend and her family for lunch at a gorgeous restaurant. They used to live in Fort Worth, which is about a 4 hour drive from us, but her husband is in med school and just started his residency in San Antonio, so they’re only two hours away…and San Marcos is a perfect halfway point for us to meet up! She has a daughter that was born exactly six weeks after Jackson, and it was our first time meeting each other’s kids. It was a blast and I can’t wait to start meeting up more often with them!

Week Three

This week is a bit crazy for us because I’m at a conference for work today, tomorrow, and Friday…so things have been busy! We spent most of Monday doing work stuff – Corey had an interview and I worked on moving stuff to my new classroom (I’m moving to a new school within my district this year). I’m still hoping we’ll be able to squeeze in an “official” fun outing this week, but we’ll see how things go! If nothing else, we’ve been doing a good job of going on lots of walks and spending some extra time outside!

What have you been up to so far this summer?


Sleep, Baby, Sleep – Part Two

Are you ready for the longest post ever? For those of you without a baby, it’ll probably also be the most boring post ever, so feel free to skip. But, if you’re anything like me right now, you can’t get enough of reading about baby sleep – I want to know how everyone’s babies are sleeping, how they got them to do it, and how I can improve what we’re doing. We recently decided to nap train Jackson, and I’m pretty adamant that it was one of the best decisions we’ve ever made. It’s totally changed the way we do things around here, and we’re all sleeping better as a result. So, let’s talk!

First I want to talk a little about why we chose to nap train, because I think it’s important to carefully consider what you’re doing with naps. Since about 6 weeks, Jackson has (had!) refused to nap in his crib at all. He’d sleep on me or Corey, he’d sleep in the Moby, and he’d sleep in a bouncer or swing at daycare (but never at home), he just wouldn’t sleep in the crib. We tried a lot of different things, but when I went back to work at 7 weeks it just wasn’t a priority. I hated being away from him all day long, so when we got home I was happy to let him snuggle up with me. And on the weekends, I felt like I needed to catch up on time spent with him, so it was no problem to spend half my day chained to the couch while he slept.

This worked for us for a couple of months, but towards the end of the school year I got really tired of it. I loved the cuddles, don’t get me wrong, but it was reaching a point where I had zero time that wasn’t being taken up by Jackson in some way, and Corey couldn’t ever get him to sleep as easily as I could so nap duty generally fell to me. I kept telling Corey we needed to do something about it, and we tried a few times, but he would just scream in the crib and I didn’t have the heart to let him cry (plus he was still so young, he definitely wasn’t ready to cry it out). Corey and I kept agreeing that we would wait until school got out to tackle it, because we were afraid that if we pushed the crib naps he wouldn’t sleep as well, which would affect night time sleep, which would affect our ability to function at work each day. Plus, if I sat down on the couch with him he would almost immediately snuggle up into me and fall asleep, so we didn’t want to mess with such an easy way to get him to nap.

One day, a couple of weeks before school got out, I was frustrated with being stuck on the couch with him, and he was about 4 months old (which some people say is a good time to start sleep training), so we decided to try and let him cry. It was a disaster. We lasted about 30 minutes (with frequent checks) before we decided it just wasn’t for us, ran in, and grabbed him. He immediately fell asleep in my arms, and was clearly upset. We both agreed we were never doing that again.

And then…

The weekend after school got out, Jackson’s naps went to hell. He suddenly wouldn’t sleep at all in my arms. I’d settle in on the couch like we had always done, and he would start arching his back and screaming. If I tried to rock him (which he usually loved), he would try to push his body as far away from mine as possible, crying the whole time. The only time he was calm? If I plopped him down in the crib.

The only problem was, he still couldn’t fall asleep very well in the crib. If we stayed in the room with him he was okay, but he just wanted to talk to us and give us smiles. But if we left, he cried. We tried the swing (nope), the bouncer (no way) and the Moby (fell asleep while Corey was walking outside with him, woke up as soon as they walked back in the door). One day that weekend he spent 7 hours with no more than a 15 minute catnap because we just could not figure out what to do.

At this point, we knew we had to revisit sleep training. He was giving us very clear cues that he was ready to nap in the crib, he just needed some help figuring out how to fall asleep. He was also showing us that if we were in the room, he couldn’t sleep because we were too distracting – and he was starting to fuss a bit before falling asleep no matter what, which gave us the idea that maybe he was a tension releaser, not a tension increaser like we originally thought.

So, after lots of thought and talking it over, we decided to re-visit crying it out. We gave ourselves one week and said we would stick to it for that long, but if it wasn’t improving we would ditch it and go for something else. I took notes on my phone and even made a graph (because I’m a data nerd!) of how his naps went over the course of the week, and we were pretty shocked at the results. I’ll share that in a minute, but first let’s talk about nap routines because, as I’ve said before, I think sleep routines and cues are vital!

Our nap routine is as follows:

- As soon as he starts to slow down/act tired (which was an hour and a half or so after his last nap when we first started, but is quickly moving towards two hours) we head upstairs. I close his blackout blinds and turn on his music.

- I change his diaper if it needs to be changed and put him in his sleep sack (we’ve officially transitioned over to this instead of the swaddle for all sleeping). We do this on the changing table and a use the same little phrases and games that Corey always uses with him at night. I think this helps him know it’s time to sleep, and it always gets a giggle out of him, which I can’t resist.

- I pick him up snuggle him for as long as he lets me. Usually this isn’t more than 10-15 seconds, then he starts arching his back and fussing until I lay him in the crib.

- I lay him down and sit down next to the crib. Then, (and you’ll laugh at me for this one…) I read him a few pages of Harry Potter. Sounds crazy, but it works. We realized early on that for naps he’s soothed by us talking to him or reading to him, but if we read one of his books he’s too stimulated by the pictures or the poetic rhythm. I grabbed Harry Potter one day when I knew he wanted to hear my voice but I didn’t have anything to say, and I read out loud to him for a while. It worked like a charm. So now, instead of a nap time book we read a few pages from Harry Potter.

- After I read, I give him a kiss, tell him I love him, and leave.

I have to admit, I miss this!

Once I leave, we’re basically doing a modified Ferber-style approach – when (if) he starts crying, I check the time, and I go peek in on him after about 5 minutes. I give him his pacifier back if necessary, pat him a few times, and kiss his forehead before leaving again. We’re not super consistent with the check-in times. Sometimes I’ll do a few 5 minute increments before going to 7 minutes, then 10, sometimes if he’s just fussing I go straight to 10 minute increments. It all depends on how hard he’s crying and if I think he’s about to fall asleep, but at this point he really only fusses if he loses the pacifier in the first few minutes, so I’ll pop it back in and he goes right to sleep.

Okay, let’s get to the fun part – the data. When we first started nap training I couldn’t get enough information on how this had worked for other people, so I’ll give a rundown of how things went for our first week. We were pretty surprised at how quickly it worked, which to us just confirmed that, as we suspected, Jackson was ready for this!

Here’s the graph that shows how long he cried for and how long he stayed asleep:

As of now (a little over two weeks in), he’s crying no more than 5 minutes when I put him down, and the vast majority of the time he doesn’t cry at all.

And here’s the graph that shows how long his naps lasted over the course of the week (again), along with the interval from waking up to going back to sleep.

The interesting part is that the nap length varied quite a bit for the first week, but by the second week (last week) naps were getting consistently longer and longer, and now it’s looking like he’s getting ready to consolidate down into three long naps a day. We’ll see what happens!

But, what was most interesting to me was the night sleep. Right before we started this we were having some really rough nights, so I took notes on how things looked once we were nap training. Here’s how it went down:

Night before we started:

- Was so tired we put him to bed at 6:00, much earlier than usual.
- Woke up three times for his pacifier between 6:00 and 10:00
- Up at 2:30 screaming. Obviously hungry, I was in there feeding him until about 3:30.
- Up again a few minutes after I got in bed. Corey spent about an hour in his room with him before he went back to sleep.
- Up for the day at 6:30.

Night One:

- Down at 7:30ish
- Woke up for pacifier three times between 9:45 and 11:30. One was my fault – was fussing in his sleep and I accidentally woke him up.
- Up for the day at 5:30.

Night Two:

- Down at 7:30
- Woke up for pacifier at 1:30 and 5:10.
- Up for the day at 5:30.

Night Three:

- Down at 6:45
- Up at 7:30 because he rolled into the side of his crib. Went right back to sleep after I moved him and gave back pacifier.
- Up for the day at 5:15.

You get the idea – nap training very quickly fixed the issues we were having with night sleep, and things are still going strong. I think he’s in a transitional time with sleep right now because it looks a little different every night, but now he’s going down between 6:30 and 7:00 every night, waking no more than 2 times throughout the night for his pacifier (and going straight back to sleep, so it takes us under a minute to actually deal with), and then getting up around 5, then eating and going straight back to sleep until 7 or so. A few times he’s slept straight through for the whole 12 hours, so I’m hoping that becomes the norm!

His new favorite way to sleep. Scares he hell out of Corey and me, but it’s kind of adorable. We try to move his head, but he just gets mad and moves it right back! 

Long story short? We nap trained, it was a fantastic decision, I have my life back, and everyone is happy. Until the next sleep regression hits us, but let’s not think about that yet.

Anyone else want to chat baby sleep? How are things going in your house? Anyone else have a baby that loves to sleep in ways that terrify you? If you don’t have a baby and are sleeping all night every night, tell me about that too…I want to live vicariously through you!

This entry was posted in Baby.

Cleaning House

Y’all, I’m so excited to share this. So! Excited!

Let’s just jump right in – because, really, I can’t wait any longer.

Mmmmm. Yeah, that’s my dining room. I’m in love.

But, let’s back up for a second.

We haven’t been doing much (or, anything) to the house lately. We’re trying to take care of some debt and get a few things in order before we take on any more house projects, so things have more or less been on hold around here. But. We had a few things brewing that added up to disaster. I’ll let you guess. We had…

- Decade-old (at least) carpet.
- Three dogs
- A doggy door
- A backyard. With dirt.
- Rain
- A baby who is getting ready to learn how to crawl.

Do you know what happens when you add all of those ingredients together? You know what, don’t guess, I’ll just tell you.

Yeah, that happens.

And I can tell you with certainty that it was much worse in person than it looks in these photos. It was awful. We’ve always dealt with this when it rains, because the dogs love to track in mud; but it’s never been more annoying than now, when we have a baby who loves to spend time hanging out on the floor. We’ve tried all sorts of things but nothing we could do really kept the carpet clean enough (and honestly, who has the energy to clean three sets of dog paws every single time they go outside?) and I finally reached the end of my rope. Corey and I talked about it and decided that there was really no good reason for us to wait.

We happened to have the money to take care of the floor (which doesn’t happen often!) so we decided to jump in and go for it. In the end, it’s totally worth it to delay getting rid of our debt by a few months if it means we get to enjoy this floor in the meantime.

This is the same flooring we used in Jackson’s room – just plain old vinyl plank flooring. Peel and stick, y’all. And I love it. It’s durable, it’s easy to lay down, and I don’t have to stress when the dogs scratch it up because it’s cheap. And it looks fantastic, to boot.

I won’t detail the process (because I already did that here), but I will add that it was slightly different than it was upstairs, since we have concrete subfloors down here. It just meant a little more cleaning/sanding and we had to fill in some holes from the carpet tacks, but other than that it was the same basic idea!

(Jack was a great helper!)

And now?

I don’t have to stress about nasty, stained, smelly carpet in my dining room. My living room, unfortunately, is still a carpeted mess, but we’ll be fixing that in the next few weeks! Getting the dining room done just made me that much more excited to get the living room done too, and I can’t wait to get started. And now, I don’t have to worry if I want to put Jackson down on the floor for a bit – it may not be quite as soft underneath him, but I’m actually able to keep it clean and we can always get a rug. It’s the best feeling ever to actually have my house look a little cleaner on a daily basis without any extra effort – that carpet just looked nasty!

Anyone else do any flooring updates lately? Please tell me we aren’t the only ones with completely nasty carpet!