Thursday, October 6, 2016

Learning to Sleep

You know that feeling when you're strung out and sleep deprived and your head is pounding and foggy most of the time? You think you have it together and that you're functioning pretty well considering the joke that is your sleep situation. And then you get a couple of months removed from that point in time, look back, and realize just what a basketcase you were for a hot minute. 

Otto boy, bless his sweet little heart, came out and quickly made it known that his 4 AM in-utero dance parties were indicative of his sleep patterns earthside. I'm not exaggerating when I say that every time I laid down to go to sleep for the first 9 months of his life, Otto would wake up within 30 minutes. And every time I put him to sleep, he would wake up at least 3 times before settling in for all of 1-2 hours. Thankfully in the moment I was just tired enough to be blissfully ignorant of the insanity, and I used my crutches. Swinging, cosleeping, swaddling, bouncing, nursing to sleep, and nursing in my sleep were my saving graces. They all worked in different combinations, and I held on tight to them for dear life until they didn't work anymore. 

Every morning I woke up for a long day, and every night went to bed for a long and sleepless night preceding another long day. This is the nature of babies and it didn't come as a surprise, but those long days and nights certainly test a lady's nerves now and then. So you ride it out, laugh (or cry) off the crazy, and survive, remembering that babies aren't up all night forever and that this phase will pass.

We made it work until it just didn't. It became increasingly more clear that even though I do not like the idea of sleep training and wanted to do everything in my power  not to make my sweet baby cry in his bed, I was doing him an injustice by not helping him learn to sleep (and my whole family an injustice by not sleeping myself and being a cranky zombie woman). The night before we moved to Waxahachie was the one that made my decision to sleep train final. Otto and I were up until 4:30 in the morning and none of my life-saving tactics were working- he wouldn't nurse. He wouldn't swing. He wouldn't lay with me. He was so exhausted that he wouldn't sleep, and both of us spent a lot of time in tears that night. Our tiny apartment had paper thin walls and we were all on top of each other, so I knew I needed to wait until we had a little more space. I decided that our first night in our new house, we would start sleep training Otto boy (he was almost 9 months). 

Now you have to understand that I was desperate at this point. I had tried every way around crying it out to no avail. None of my crutches even KIND of worked anymore. With Milo, we would give him a bottle in bed to help him fall asleep, (I know I know) but Otto never took a bottle, so that option was out too. I had to tell Trevor that he was not allowed to give me sad puppy dog eyes even once because I needed zero extra guilt than I already felt. Trevor is wonderful in every way, but he was never the one trying to get Otto down for literally hours every day and night. I knew that this was what needed to happen and I told Trevor he had to support me and comfort me and be nice to me about it, because otherwise I knew I wouldn't go through with it. 

True story: Otto currently sleeps in a pack and play in a closet. It's dark, quiet, and cozy. The first night, Otto cried for 45 minutes. I went in and patted his back and told him I still loved him in increments of about 8-12-15 minutes (unless he was starting to calm down). The next night he cried for about 20 minutes, and the third night he laid down, took a breath, turned his head, and SLEPT. When he woke up in the night, I did the same thing (but in all honesty I sleep with earplugs so I'm a little foggy on the midnight wake ups). The first night I did nurse him around 4:30 AM because my boobs felt like they would explode after not nursing since bedtime, but the next day I waited until he was awake for the day (around 6:30). 

For naptime, I did the same. It took longer for naps to catch on, and the first week or so he didn't nap much at all (if he was still awake after about 45-50 minutes I gave in). But after a couple of weeks, he was napping like a champ 2x a day, no problem. 

Now Otto sings himself to sleep, and knows to do the same if he wakes up in the night. I kid you not, he is a completely different baby. He's happy and cheery when he's awake. He gives me clear signals when he wants to sleep, and he goes down like a dream. My anxiety levels have plummeted because I can count on bedtime happening at bedtime and not lasting a frustrating 5 hours followed by a wake up 2 hours later. Sleep is a BIG DEAL! We are all a lot more sane these days and it's because of the miracle of a good night's sleep all around. I sleep trained my baby and he still loves me and knows I love him. 

I guess the point here is that some babies need help learning to sleep. Some figure it out easier, and all babies are different with what they prefer for sleep. Otto clearly needed help getting it figured out, and it has been LIFE CHANGING. My main advice when sleep training would be this:

WAIT until you're all more than ready. Sleep is a family effort!

DON'T sleep train tiny babies. They just need love. They'll fall asleep eventually while they're still so little. 

Set a date and commit. 

There is nothing "one size fits all" about any two babies. Feel it out and figure out what works for you and your specific baby!

Stick it out until that's not an option anymore. I tried everything in my power with Otto until nothing would work, which helped me not question the decision to sleep train. 

If it's not taking in a week or so, it's too soon! You'll know when everyone is ready for that step if you have to take it, and if it's not catching on, try again when they're a bit older and more ready. 

Trust your instincts. You're the mom. You'll know if your baby is ready, and you'll know if they aren't. 

Good luck and happy sleeping! 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

State of the Tribe

Life is so calm right now. I really shouldn't type that out loud, should I? It's peaceful and we are in a good routine, which I'm learning in my old age helps us thrive more than anything. Time is going at a perfect clip and I'm so glad for the lull after so much crazy the last few years! These seasons of life are few and far between, so I'm soaking it in while it's here!

I weaned Otto gradually at about 11.5 months. I really despise weaning. It makes me sad and I go through a little dip of depression for a couple of weeks. I hate the ending of that chapter and giving up that piece of our relationship, but I also know that my fertility clock moves at a snail's pace so it was time to get that show thinking about considering getting on the road again. About a week after our last time (cue crocodile tears), and right after Otto turned 1, I realized that I felt more myself than I have in years! No wonky hormones. Not even a cycle. Just a little break from it all, and it's kind of great!

Observation by Milo re: my raisins, "hahaha! Look at that. That's silly that your boobs got little." You know you're seriously deflated when your 3 year old even notices.

Otto at 1- things I always want to remember (because all those sweet little quirks have a nasty way of slipping your mind as they gradually fade):
Always claps on command
Puts bum in the air and head on the ground downward dog style and giggles like a goof
Scoots on books- one hand on the book and crawls it around the room
So squirmy and ticklish
Eats everything
Drops ANYTHING he's doing if he hears someone say "yay!" So he can clap
Dancing fool
Sings himself to sleep
Loves throwing his food on the ground and throwing toys haphazardly behind him a la bombs away 

We are LOVING Waxahachie. Not big. Not too tiny. Down to earth. It's such a great place!

I ran my first half marathon! I made it in 1:47. Fun! I want to try another one! Someday.

Life is so good and refreshingly normal- a definite recharging phase. These are days I'll look back on and remember with all good feelings.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Old Days

Every now and then, I let my mind wander back to the old days, the old me.

I remember sitting on my roof outside my window late at night watching the big Kansas thunderstorms rolling through and talking on the phone. I can smell the rain on the shingles still warm from the day. 

I remember the glorious feeling of going to sleep late on a weekend night and knowing that the next morning, I had nothing I had to wake up early for. I could sleep as late as I wanted and roll out of bed at my leisure. 

I remember driving down the country roads with the windows down and the radio blaring, breathing in the sweet air of a summer night and getting hit on at stop lights. 

I remember leisurely taking an hour to get ready, and still never managing to be on time. 

I remember going to the store. Alone. Or wandering the mall. Or eating dinner and not standing up EVEN ONCE during the meal. 

I remember when my stress was caused by whether a boy called me, who was dating who, or if heaven forbid I didn't have plans on a weekend night.

It's not that I was selfish, it's just that in that phase of life, I was living for me. I wasn't responsible for anyone else's life. I was spontaneous. I was a hopeless romantic. I was a dreamer. I couldn't have known any different until that part of my life was over. 
It's easy to romanticize the carefree parts of the past when those days are behind you. I always hoped for a big life, one that would matter. I couldn't have known just how small a big life can be. I'm not out saving the world with the Peace Corps like I once planned. I haven't traveled. I never did make it to Africa and I haven't solved the human trafficking crisis. 

These days more often than not, I'm summoned from my lunch to offer moral support while my child poops. I'm getting juice, changing diapers, and crying tears of exasperation when my three year old is completely out of control despite the fact that I try to be a good parent. I'm escaping to Target for the sole purpose of leaving the house. I'm spoon feeding, making sandwiches, folding laundry, refolding laundry when little hands find it, cleaning the bathrooms while my big boy "helps" by spraying water ev-er-y-where.. Picking up and putting away and sweeping and wiping just to do it again in 14 hours. I'm trying and failing to match my husband's dress socks correctly, and trying and usually succeeding to keep tabs on where everyone's everything is. 

I'm being woken by a tiny voice asking if we can snuggle. I'm listening to the soundtrack of sweet toddler songs and baby babbling filling my home. I'm answered with "I wub you too" and I'm covered in slobbery, snotty kisses. I'm singing "you are my sunshine" on a loop and I have a baby permanently glued to my hip. I'm climbed on and clung to and asked to be held. I'm skipping pants and makeup, sneaking in showers, and yet my husband still tells me I'm beautiful. 

You know, sometimes my mind does go back to those simple days. And it lingers there for a minute or two, or maybe even a whole afternoon depending on the kind of day we're having. But without fail, it comes back to my here and now, my boys and my man, and I would choose this life over and over and over. Someday I'll sleep in again and I'll wish for that tiny voice to wake me up early. I'll travel the world and long for the days of playing Legos in my living room all day long. I'll miss the tiny laundry and the fingerprints  on the windows and mirrors. I'll get in the car and not buckle a single carseat, and I'll miss having someone to lift into the cart and chat with through the store. I'll miss having my bag overflowing with diapers and wipes and hot wheel cars, and having an excuse to always carry Teddy Grahams. The days are long, but the years are far too short. I haven't saved the world just yet, but the hopeless romantic and dreamer in me is still alive and well. The greatest dream I've ever had is now my reality. I'm living it right this second, and I'm head over heels in love.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Milo Highlight Reel

3 year olds are funny, funny people. Some of the things that come out of this munch's mouth have me rolling. 

When he says his prayers, he always includes select cousins and his Aunt Sarah. It's usually "please bless my bed and daddy's and mommy's bed and Otto's bed and Jaxon's bed and Colton's bed and Hudsy's bed and Sarah and Ruby and Gaby and Madison and Zoey". He LOVES his people!

When Otto gets out of bed, it's always the sweetest reunion of smiles and hello's from these two. Brothers are the best!

Milo Quotes:
"Mom you're such a silly guy"

When Trevor is hug attacking me: "dad, that's my mom! That's just enough!"

First thing in the morning- me: hi bud! Milo: yeah! It's me!

Me- Milo want to go get the mail? Milo- no, it's hot. I don't want to go get the mail. (He's right you know. Texas is on fire.)

When he gets a shiver: "that was a big coldy!"

Asking to see dad leave for work- "Mom can I see dad out the teeny tiny teeny tiny little window please?" (The peep hole)

The other day in the church restroom, I went potty after Milo, during which he so gracefully informed everyone: "Mom, you just have a bum. And I have a penis. And Otto has a penis. And dad has a penis." Y'welc for the impromptu anatomy lesson, patrons of the women's room. 

Milo likes to ask ambiguous/difficult questions.

What are you sitting?
What is my room doing?
Why is this the fireplace?
What are these strawberries?

And he's old enough now that we can crack each other up in the kind of giggles where neither of you can breathe. I live for that!

Every morning he comes to me and says, I just want to snuggle. And we fall back asleep for a while and I melt. 

He's really something else, this boy!

Monday, July 25, 2016


The thing with women is that we are under the impression that we must always be fighting tooth and nail through a body toning workout program, fill in our eyebrows, cook gourmet skinny meals, stick to a diet plan involving intense amounts of counting, and throw birthday parties full of Pinterest cakes and garlands.

It's exhausting. 

Too often we feel obligated to do all of these extras so we don't feel like failures. Try as I might to be laid back, this striving for perfection in parts of my life that aren't the most significant feels almost ingrained in me. So many things are trying to matter in life that they tend to cloud the precious few that actually do. But I'm finally starting to internalize the truth that there is nobody holding me to that pressure but myself. 

There is beautiful freedom in lowering your standards and being at peace with mediocre. When you let some pieces be good enough, other aspects will soar. 

I want my own definition of beauty and success: For my kids to know I play with them, hard. For them to know that there are no words for how fiercely I love them. I want to laugh with my husband. I want to say yes. I want to read my book in the quiet evenings. I want to dance. I want to be healthy and balanced. I want eye contact. I want to always have my babies in my arms or on my hip.  

So, I'll be over here with a jiggly bum and makeup-less eyebrows, letting the pieces of myself that have no baring on true joy be refreshingly average while I live my miraculously extraordinary life with all the love and color it deserves. 

Sunday, July 10, 2016

On Being A Baby

Otto isn't like Milo. I love Milo for all his energy and vigor and urgency with which he lives his life. But I love Otto for his more relaxed approach just as much. 

Otto is the quintessential baby in every sense of the word. He's snuggly and giggly and smiley and chunky and delicious. His first word is mama and he loves his permanent spot on my hip. He's constantly checking things out and then always coming back to his safe haven of my arms. My baby is just such a baby, and I LOVE it. 

Just today at church, Otto fell asleep on my shoulder as I bounced him and rubbed his back. Milo's sleeping in arms days were log over by this age, so I'm soaking it all in with my Otto boy. I stood rocking him in the back of the primary room with a silly smile that couldn't be wiped off my face. Is there anything better than a baby asleep in your arms with their little cheek nestled in your neck? I think not. 

We've had so much fun with our Milestone cards, ever so gradually documenting all of Otto's biggest days. Please take your time crossing your big steps off the list sweet boy. You've got all the time in the world and although I'm trying to ignore the fact that 1 is just around the corner, we sure are enjoying the ride. 

Milestone Cards-
Otto's bib and romper-

Friday, July 8, 2016

Eyes Wide Open

What do you want?

These words have been screaming in my head as I try like the dickens to round out yet another journey through the refiner's fire. Constantly I'm stumbling through the process of being shaped and molded into the woman I'm meant to be.

I have this idea of the wife and mother I want to be remembered as. I want my legacy to be one of joy, patience, unconditional love, charity, and light. I want to make my house a home, to keep my babies feeling secure and happy, and for them to always know that they were and always will be my number one priority. 

The most beautiful love story of all time is right under my nose, and I fully intend to soak in every raw, exhausting, breathtaking moment of it.