Apr

13

Cooking Party

we threw Bella a Cooking Party for her 8th birthday last month, and i wanted to share the details with you, because it was a super simple party, that didn’t take too much prep, and the girls had a total blast!

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we started out with a homemade apron invitation, using card stock and ribbon:

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i kept the decor really simple:

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i bought inexpensive kid’s aprons and paper chef’s hats from Oriental Trading Company.  the aprons were made from pretty thin, white fabric, and a little too plain for my liking, so i added a little fabric pocket and some jumbo ric rac using some scraps i had, and attached it with Stitch Witchery, or iron on seam tape.  i then personalized each one using this felt monogramming technique.  (use caution when using an iron on these aprons.  thankfully i had a few extras, because i most definitely burned holes in a few of them!  make sure the iron does not come in direct contact with the apron, so use a cloth between the iron and the apron if you do attach fabric or felt.)  i also added some ric rac to the chef’s hats with some hot glue so it looked more like a matching set.

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they served as both decorations and party favors, and made the girls look so festive during the party!

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the first activity was to make some individual pizzas.  i used store bought dough and divided it up so each girl had their own dough to roll out:

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i set out a variety of toppings besides the basics of pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese (mini pepperonis, spinach, Parmesean Cheese, sausage, and broccoli):

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the girls used their hands and a few small rolling pins to roll their dough into any shape they wanted:DSC_0250 copy

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and then they topped their pizzas with as much toppings as they wanted:DSC_0273 copy

we baked each pizza on a piece of parchment paper with their name on it so they didn’t get mixed up, and added a little bit of cornmeal underneath the pizza, so they just slid off the paper after they were baked:DSC_0279 copy

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while we waited for the pizzas to cook, i set out bowls of strawberries, blueberries, and grapes, and the girls made fruit kabobs.  i let them cut off the stem of the strawberries with plastic knives:DSC_0286 copy

and they had fun arranging the fruit into different patterns:DSC_0290

after they had eaten their pizza and fruit, and after a little impromptu dance party broke out:

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we sent them outside for some piñata action.  because, according to an 8 year old, its not really a party without a piñata!

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while they were enjoying the piñata, i set up for the last of the cooking activities:  Cake Decorating:

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a few days before, i baked each girl a 3 tired, 6 inch cake, and froze them until the morning of the party (simpler than it looks.  keep reading.  i’ll show you how i did it).  you could also order small cakes from your local grocery store or bakery, but making them myself saved me a good chunk of money.

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i used these Wilton Easy Layers! 5-Piece Cake Pan Set, 6-Inch, but since using all 5 layers would’ve made the cakes too large for the girls, i instead used 3 layers per cake.  since i could bake 5 layers at a time, using just one store bought cake mix, this went fairly quickly.  and since the pans are small, making the layers the perfect height, i didn’t even have to cut the cake into layers, but could simply frost in between the layers and stack them up.  

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then the morning of the party, i pulled them out of the freezer and frosted them while frozen, eliminating crumbs in the frosting.  they sat at room temperature for a few hours and were perfectly defrosted in time for the cake decorating.

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then i let the girls decorate them however they wanted.  i used these plastic Wilton Squeeze Bottles, and filled each one with a different colored buttercream frosting that Bella and I made the morning of the party.  i used a simple buttercream recipe for all of the frosting (butter, powered sugar, and milk), and just made sure the consistency was not too stiff to make squeezing it out of the bottles difficult, but not too runny that it wouldn’t hold up on the cake.  using these bottles really prevented what could’ve been a huge frosting mess!
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the girls LOVED this part!  they traded around bottles of frosting and got right to work on their masterpieces:DSC_0400 copy

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i loved seeing each girl’s creativity on their individual cakes!DSC_0420 copy

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according to Bella, there’s apparently no such thing as too much buttercream, hence the double fisting!

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the girls were so proud of their cakes!

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instead of eating the cakes at the party, we boxed up each girl’s cake in an 8 inch cake box, using cake boxes like these: Cake Boxes White, 8 x 8 x 5 Inches, and let the girls take their cake home to show their families.  because…we had special cupcakes on hand as dessert…cupcakes that looked like each girl!

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 i was so excited about this element of the party.  my Sister in Law, who is an insanely talented Pastry Chef, recently opened her own business in Maryland, specializing in personalized cakes and cookies, and an assortment of many other treats.  so i commissioned her to help make my cupcake dreams a reality.  here’s how we did it:  i bought the actual cupcake at my local grocery store’s bakery, and asked them to flat frost them in a skin colored frosting.  then i sent my SIL a list of each girls’ traits:  eye color, hair length, texture, and color, and she made each individual piece, including the adorable chef’s hats.  she then shipped the pieces to me:

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and i assembled all of the cupcakes in about 3 minutes flat, Mr. Potato Head style…by just sticking each piece where they needed to go!  how brilliant is that?  here’s Bella:

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the girls absolutely loved this, and each girl was very quickly able to pick out which one they were:

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it amazed me how much the faces really did look like the girls!

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my SIL’s company is called Bake My Day, and she does everything from these kinds of personalized cupcake pieces, to birthday cakes (ridiculously tasty and amazingly decorated), to gorgeous wedding cakes, to the cutest sugar cookies you’ve ever seen.  and…as i showed you above, she ships lots of her creations!!  honestly, how amazing to get adorable, personalized cupcakes or cookies for your parties but not have to go through the pain of trying to create them yourselves.  on top of that, to get to work with someone like Melissa, who is so patient and just wants to create for you whatever you are dreaming up.  so if you are ever in need of cakes, cupcakes, cookies, etc. for your party, please go check her out.  they are currently in the process of getting their official website up and running, so in the meantime, you get info and see many of her creations here:  www.facebook.com/bakemydaymaryland and you can also email her directly at melissa@bakemydaymaryland.com.  and for a limited time, if you mention my blog, you get 10% off your order!  also, if you happen to be on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, stop in the shop at 415 S. Talbot Street in St. Michael’s, MD.  i’m constantly amazed by her talents, and i love watching her in action.  she has absolutely taught me some great tricks over the years!  i just wish she lived closer and we could play all the time!

after singing Happy Birthday and making wishes: (I’m guessing for a real Rainbow Unicorn.  its been the consistent wish for the last few years!):

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we capped off the party with some trampoline action, which became a heck of a lot more exciting when daddy jumped in too!DSC_0469 copy

this might go down in my books as one of my all time favorite parties.  the prep was super easy, the party itself flowed quickly, and the girls had a ball!

can’t believe my girl is 8.  lots of exciting things coming up for her this year…a new school, a new adventure of being on an All-Star cheerleading squad, lots of new tricks and flips and skills, another Nutcracker.  i’m absolutely loving this age, and just want to freeze her here!  so here’s to an amazing year of life, Bella Bug!

5 Comments

Mar

03

Baby Wise

Y’all ready for this? Dund dund dund…

do you remember that song from the 90′s…i think it was the Space Jam theme song.  I’m pretty sure I still remember every move of my 8th grade cheerleading dance to that song. I can’t remember what I ate for breakfast today, but I could show you some pretty epic dance moves…which included the throwing out of a peace sign. I wish I was kidding…Funny how the brain works.

DSC_0118 go right ahead.  laugh away….

Anyway…today’s post is not about that. Its actually about a much more heated and controversial subject. Which is why i’m asking if you are ready?? I recently listened to a podcast from This American Life (i’m obsessed. There is no way around it. Serial changed me, and podcasts are my new BFF.) anyway…it was about “internet trolls” and how people are so bold (and nasty) on the internet….fascinating. I could throw my two cents into that subject matter, cause as a blogger, i’ve been on the receiving end of nasty more times than I’d like to count…spanning the issues of everything from my grammatically incorrect writing style, to my poor mothering because we have an EOTS, to my utter ignorance of how to correctly use elastic thread. There’s lots you could bash me for, for sure…and truth be told…I’m slightly afraid that this post will be added to that list.

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(Canaan)

but…I have been wanting to write about this subject for the longest time, because as with everything on this blog, I write about the things I love, the things that i’ve found to be so helpful personally, things I want you to be able to benefit from as well…and this…its basically changed our lives as parents.  so…i’m just gonna go for it….and write about Baby Wise. For those of you unfamiliar with Baby Wise, at a very basic level, its a sleep training technique that we used for all 3 of our kiddos.

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Its controversial, because, lets face it, all parenting techniques are controversial depending on who you talk to. Cause you’ve got a bunch of emotional and passionate mommas (and dads too), who have many different thoughts on the best way to raise children, and so when faced with the idea that their way may not be the exact way that everyone else does it, you might end up with all the makings for WWIII.

So even though I know this could stir some controversy, and some of you may already feel your blood boiling just at the mention of Baby Wise, my ultimate hope is that this will serve to be of massive encouragement to those of you who want more info on the subject. This isn’t one of those posts where i’m taking a stance, or pleading my case, or taking a side. I’m simply aiming to pass along some information that has been very valuable to my family, in hopes that it might be valuable to your’s too. So please. Let’s be kind. And I hope you read this knowing that you have FULL freedom and i’ll cheer you along the way to do whatever it is your heart feels right about doing for your own babies, Baby Wise or not. Amen.  i really really mean that.

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(Canaan and Bella)

So here’s the deal, just so you see it in writing:

I DON’T THINK THIS IS THE ONLY WAY TO PARENT!!!

do you hear that? Honestly. I do not believe that in order to be a good parent then you have to adhere to the Baby Wise program, or that you even have to sleep train at all. If it floats your boat to cuddle and snuggle with your sweet child in your bed till they are 10 years old, nursing all along the way, more power to you. For real. That’s what’s so great about how God created us…we are all meant to be individuals, with different brains, and emotions, and passions…that’s a good thing. But Baby Wise…its just what happened to work for our family, and I would’ve given my right pinkie toe to have been able to read a real life momma’s account when I first started out. But i’m not writing about it because I think this is how everyone should parent.

Also…just so i’m on record…WE MOMMAS NEED TO BE KIND TO EACH OTHER!!

this is big y’all. Aren’t we hard enough on ourselves already as moms? We certainly don’t need to be hard on each other too.  I contemplated turning off the comments on this post, because somehow when you mention different parenting techniques, mommas get nasty. I’m telling you now…if there’s even a hint of nasty in a comment, I will remove it immediately and you will get a spanking :)  just kidding on the spanking part (talk about a controversial subject!) but I will remove it immediately. So…if you don’t have something nice to say, let’s just subscribe to the ol’ golden role, and don’t say anything at all. I am leaving comments open because I think blogs are a great forum to discuss subjects such as this, and seeing as I certainly don’t have this parenting thing in the bag, I would love to hear your thoughts, or your questions, or your encouragements, but I would love to hear them in a humble, non-judgmental manner. So go forth and comment, but BE FREAKIN’ NICE ABOUT IT!! thank you in advance.

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(Canaan)

Now that all that is clear, I find posts such as this to be so super valuable. I love to see how real mommas do the real things…like feeding and sleeping schedules and all things baby…so if you are preggo and wondering just how in the heck you are gonna care for your child…or if you are a sleep deprived momma and searching for something…anything….to give you some rest…or even just someone who knows someone who might benefit from reading about Baby Wise…this post is for you.  

Now…after doing Baby Wise with all 3 kiddos, it would seem logical that I would be an expert, right? Well, i’m not. Unfortunately. Shocker, I know. Don’t you wish things worked like that? So just know…if you want an expert, quit reading. But if you want a real-life, mistake making momma, read on, warriors! but also know…i am not a doctor, or a nutritionist, or a lactation consultant, or a baby expert.  i’m just a normal mom, who had normal, healthy, to-term babies, so use this as a guide only, but determine for yourself what is best for you and your baby.  I am going to give you specifics as it related to my own babies…times, schedules, etc. but please please know that every baby is different, and these are only meant to give you a picture of what this might look like in real life, and not meant to be a formula for your own child, or a means of comparison.

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so…here’s why we chose to do Baby Wise:

we had friends who had kids before us use this method…we watched it work successfully…so we read the book when I was preggo with Canaan, and we decided it would be a good method for our family. When Canaan was born, we were in full time youth ministry, so we had lots of events and meetings at night, and students at our house often. This meant two things…we needed to train our kids to have a consistent bedtime, and an easy and doable bedtime routine, and we needed to know that if we put them down to sleep in one place, but woke them up to transfer them home, that they would be able to go right back to sleep once home.

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(Canaan)

Once Baby Wise was established, it allowed us that flexibility, which has proven to be priceless, not only for their well-being, but for our jobs and lifestyle too.  It has also given us consistent and predicable time together at nights after bedtime for just us, so that our relationship and marriage and life did not end completely simply because kiddos entered the picture.

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The thing that caught my attention right away was the overarching theme of the book, and it’s this:  “Kids are to be a welcome addition to your family, but they are not to be the center of your family.”  that feels slightly unnatural, and had I not known, I would’ve revolved our entire world around my kids. However, not only have I come to believe that it is not good for my kids, it’s not good for me and Jake and our marriage either. I think one of the very best things that we can offer our kids, if its possible (I know sometimes its not) is for them to see our marriages as strong, healthy, and massively important to us.  I know that this takes a lot more than a simple sleep training technique to accomplish, but Baby Wise certainly helped us in that area, not only with a healthy mindset, but also with actual time together.

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I also think one of the best things we can offer our kids is to set ourselves up to be the best parents we can be. Which means, for me, that I need sleep. God knows how I tick, and I think He knows that I need to be well-rested in order to be the kind of momma He’s calling me to be. I know what kind of parent I am when i’m sleep deprived, and I know what kind of kids my kids are when they are sleep deprived…and not sleeping…its just plain ol’ HARD. And if you are like me, it makes you crazy. So establishing those sleeping patterns right off the bat has given us years of the kind of rest that our bodies and minds need. I’m not saying this is the same for everyone…but for me, that is the absolute truth. And not having to be up in the middle of the night for months or even years, was the right thing for me and my family, and Baby Wise was the method in which we were able to establish great sleeping patterns, that have benefitted my children (and me) since they were infants.

What this does NOT mean is that being a parent does not require loads and loads and loads and loads and loads and loads (you get the picture) of sacrifice and lots of succumbing to the needs of your children. I’m saying instead that I learned that there were loving ways to take care of my kids needs, while also protecting the needs of our marriage and life and overall well-being in general. I loved that concept.

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Since you can read the book and get all the in’s and out’s and specifics for yourself, i’m just gonna give you the absolute highlights that really helped us, and how we worked it in. if you have more specific questions, you can leave them in the comments and i’ll try really hard to answer them if I can. i’ll also give you our specific schedules, because I tend to think seeing exactly the way someone else does it is super helpful.  but please use our specifics as a guide and not as the rule.

Just to note: I don’t necessarily agree with everything written in the book, and I for sure would not have presented the information the same way as the authors. In my opinion, it tends to come off a little bit like they have it all figured out and this is a fool-proof method. I don’t think either of those are necessarily true. i hope you don’t read this post and think that we’ve got this whole parenting thing mastered and figured out.  nothing could be farther from the truth.

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Also, just for reference, I was very lax on the scheduling in the first few weeks, cause they are so little and there is so much adjustment going on. I don’t think I really started the actual sleep training with Canaan until he was around 4-6 weeks old, although I did start the 3 hour feeding schedule pretty early. I pretty much started at the beginning with the girls, cause it was familiar to me, but it was very loose still in the first few weeks, especially with the sleep. I mainly focused on the feeding schedule in the beginning.

Also…i nursed all three babies until they were 1 year old, so I will be referencing nursing, but you can totally insert bottle feeding/formula. The concept, etc is the exact same, although your timing and scheduling might be different depending on if your baby stays fuller longer on formula.

To set the stage, here is a quote from the book that I think will help in understanding the methods i’m going to describe below:

“Our conviction is that a baby should be fed when he or she signals readiness. With PDF {parent directed feeding, basically the Baby Wise method, as opposed to demand feeding, or feeding the baby when he cries, instead of at set scheduled times…you can read more about that in the book}, a mother feeds her baby when the baby is hungry, but she takes advantage of the first few weeks of life to guide the baby’s hunger patterns by a basic routine.”

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(Berkeley)

the things i’m going to describe that were the most helpful for us are the ways we guided our babies’ hunger patterns in the early days to set up a routine.

Here are my best, most important go-to tips in setting up a Baby Wise routine:

1) START YOUR FIRST FEEDING OF THE DAY AT THE SAME TIME EVERYDAY.

One of the most important things about Babywise for us was to start the first feeding of the day at the same time everyday. For us, it was 7:00 am. i chose 7:00 am because that made bedtime 7:00 pm and that was a good time for our family. This is where you can pick what time is best for you, because the rest of the day will fall into place according to that time. So I would work backwards, meaning…decide what time you want bedtime to be, and then adjust the first feeding accordingly (counting back 12 hours.) In fact, we pretty much stayed on that wake time and bed time schedule for many many years! In order to stay on schedule, that meant that some mornings I was waking my babies up to eat. And some mornings, they would wake early and I would do different things to make it closer to that 7:00 am feeding (more on that in a minute.) but eventually, all 3 of my babies would wake like clockwork at the time of the first feeding, ready to go.

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(Bella)

2) MAKE SURE YOUR BABY IS TAKING A FULL FEEDING AT EVERY FEEDING.

this is soo soo key. So for my breastfed kids, once we guided their hunger patterns to fall into a set routine, they were able to go 3 hours between feedings, so the 3 hour schedule (more on that later) was established pretty early on. But…the only reason they were able to establish that routine was because we worked HARD to give them full feedings at each feeding. Babies tend to snack if you let them. They will eat a little, fall asleep a little, and wake up not much later wanting to eat a little more, and the cycle repeats, resulting in almost round the clock nursing, and short, quick naps. (that falls more in line with on-demand feeding.) But if babies are able to get a full feeding before dozing off, their little bellies will be full enough to last until the next full feeding, which for my babies was 3 hours later (from the beginning of the first feeding to the beginning of the next feeding.)

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(Canaan)

but…this takes loads of work at first, because it is more common for babies to want to snack. It seems natural to let your baby eat and then fall asleep whenever they want. But for scheduling purposes, this is really hard, because what it trains the baby to do is to take small, snack-like feedings and short naps, waking up hungry every hour or so, and never quite rested and never quite full. But when a baby is trained to take full feedings at each feeding, they learn to eat until their bellies are truly full, instead of just quickly satisfied, and then they are able to sleep for much longer periods of time, actually getting fully rested. (to some degree, this is establishing your baby’s hunger patterns…training them to know when they are really full and when they are not, and how long they can go before they feel hungry again.) I hope that makes sense. Once I figured out this piece, it really did seem so logical and healthy to me. This is what I ultimately wanted for my babies…for them to be full and completely satisfied, so that they could also be fully rested. This is the crux of this whole thing…full feedings. And this really really helps the rest to fall into place more easily.

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(Berkeley)

This is not an easy task in the beginning, but its so worth it. The time it takes for a full feeding depends on the child. For my kids, who were pretty efficient nursers, 30 minutes was enough (15 minutes on each side), but please decide for your own child what is enough. For my babies, that meant that for a full 30 minutes…they were actually eating and sucking, not just sleeping in position. So as my baby would doze off, I would take all kinds of measures to keep them awake to continue eating. I would reposition them until they began eating again, I would gently stroke their cheek with a wet washcloth to wake them, I would change their diaper, I would take off their blanket, I would change their clothes, etc. whatever it took to wake them enough to get a full feeding each time…for my kids, at least 30 minutes of actual sucking and eating, which meant that in those beginning days, some feeding times were LOONG. This will feel like work, as I would often have to do each of those things at each feeding. But it is SOO short-lived, and will be worth every single amount of energy you put in now, because you are setting the stage for years and years of sleep habits that will benefit both you and your child.

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(Berkeley)

because…if your baby gets acquainted with taking full feedings, they will naturally fall into a very manageable schedule on their own, because their little metabolisms have been established to get hungry every 3 or so hours as opposed to every hour, etc, interrupting sleeping. Hope that makes sense.

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(Berkeley)

3) PUT BABY TO BED WHILE STILL AWAKE

I put my babies to bed for nap times and bedtimes when they were sleepy, but still awake. That means, if i wanted to rock them, I did so, but I generally didn’t rock them to sleep. So once they were in their cribs, they were able to fall asleep on their own, without my aid. The benefit to that is obvious…they didn’t need me to put them to actual sleep, and if they woke up in the middle of the night, as babies often do as they transition in and out of sleep cycles, they didn’t need me to put them back to sleep, but were able to happily fall asleep on their own again.  That became very normal to them, because they were used to being put to bed still awake.  that allowed me plenty of time during the day or right before bedtimes to rock, and cuddle, and sing, and read…but they just didn’t learn to need those things to actually fall asleep.

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(Berkeley)

In the beginning, my kids would fight this at times, so when my babies struggled, there were times when I would let them cry it out…we are believers in crying it out, but not excessively.  Meaning…i had to learn my babies’ cries. I knew the difference between a tired fuss, one where they were just trying to settle themselves to sleep, and a screaming cry, one where they needed to be comforted. I was fine to let them “cry it out” if it was a tired fuss, but when it became a screaming cry, I intervened. so if my babies needed some help to fall asleep, i helped them, especially in the beginning.  for example, Berkeley would often at a few months old be so sleepy but struggle when i put her down (she LOVED being held.)  so i would let her fuss for 5-10 minutes, then go in and comfort her, but put her back down awake again.  if she was still struggling after a while, i would again hold her and rock her for a bit and then try to put her down awake once again. But if she was really still struggling, even after a few attempts to cry it out, i would just go ahead and rock her to sleep and then put her down.  i just made sure i didn’t do that every time. It did not have a negative affect on the Baby Wise program if in the beginning I had to do that to get her adjusted to the schedule, because you are still making an effort to establish the sleeping patterns.

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(Berkeley)

it can be tedious in the beginning, and feel like you aren’t getting anywhere, but i PROMISE you will get there!  Nine weeks was around the time my babies began sleeping through the night, and i would say by 5 months, our entire daily schedule was a no-brainer, including easy nap times and bedtime, with hardly any struggle.  for some babies, its earlier.  Bella was a very easy baby and loved her sleep (she still does) so she was great with her naps much earlier.  but even for babies who liked to be held (Canaan and Berkeley) they were totally on schedule by 5 months with very little to no crying. And if there was crying at that point, then I knew something was out of the ordinary.

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(Bella)

4) EAT, WAKE, SLEEP CYCLE

The main component of the Babywise system is Eat, Wake, Sleep, in that order. (see schedule below) This pattern is used throughout the day to establish a consistent and predictable routine. Sticking to this schedule made my days so much easier with my babies.

I’ve already talked about the specifics on eating and taking full feedings, and on the napping, but let me say something about the wake time. This is hard to do. In the beginning, even a minute or two of wake time is working towards your goal, so don’t worry too much about not being able to keep your infant awake, especially after all the work it takes to just get a full feeding in. eventually, your baby will eat and be awake for longer periods of time. Just start off with the general concept, but know that the actual wake time will extend as they get older.

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(Berkeley)

SCHEDULES:

A few notes:

*feedings are scheduled from the START time of one feeding to the START time of the next

*all wake-times may be non-existent or very very short when a newborn

*feeding times take at least 30 minutes, if not more, especially in the beginning, so those wake times, although they look long, are not really long because you are feeding for a good portion of that.

BIRTH – 5 MONTHS-ISH:

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(Berkeley)

7:00 am: EAT THEN WAKE TIME

8:30-10:00 am: NAP

10:00 am: EAT THEN WAKE TIME

11:30-1:00 pm: NAP

1:00 pm: EAT THEN WAKE TIME

2:30 – 4:00 pm: NAP

4:00 pm: EAT THEN WAKE TIME

5:30-6:00/6:15 pm: NAP (this nap was usually shorter since it was before bed.  they would sometimes only sleep 30-45 minutes, or i would get them up a little early for bath, etc).

7:00 pm: EAT THEN BEDTIME (no wake time).

- i would usually bathe sometime after the 4:00 feeding, or before the 7:00 feeding.  so once i fed at 7:00, it was right to bed.

10:00/11:00 pm: DREAM FEED

i would wake them up to eat again and then put them right back to bed (called the “dream feed” cause they are pretty sleepy during this feeding since i was waking them.) i kept this feeding for a long time, about 5-6 months, mainly for my own milk supply.  but dropping it wasn’t a problem for my kids at that point. Once I did drop it, I pumped that feeding for a few months to build up my frozen milk supply so that I could leave bottles if I ever needed to go somewhere without the baby.

after the dream feed at 10 or 11, i would let them wake up on their own and feed them when they woke in the middle of the night.  For the “middle of the night” feedings, i would feed them and put them right back to bed. My babies slept in a cradle next to my bed until they were sleeping through the night (usually around 9 weeks) so if they woke to eat in the middle of the night, I would feed them right in my bed, and then burp, change a diaper, and put them right back down, with as little stimulation as possible. They usually went back to sleep with no issues.

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(Berkeley)

As newborns, my babies would generally wake up twice in the middle of the night to eat, usually around 1:00 am and 4:00 am (pretty close to the every 3 hours). I looked back at Berkeley’s schedule, and around 4-5 weeks old, she dropped down to only one feeding in the middle of the night, usually around 3:00 am. For the first few weeks of dropping a feeding, she would sometimes wake early, before 7:00 am, and I would do different things to try to stretch her to 7:00 am (i’ll talk about that in the next paragraph). By 9-10 weeks, all three of my kids dropped all middle of the night feedings, although I still kept the dream feed at 10/11:00 pm to ensure that they were still getting 6 feedings a day. Around that time is when we moved them out of the cradle in our room to their crib in the nursery.

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here’s a little tip to stay on the schedule with the first feeding starting at the same time each morning, even if your baby wakes earlier. As I said before, my goal was always to start the day with the first feeding at 7:00 am. so if my baby woke up before 6:00 am (for mine, it was usually around 5 or 5:30 am for the first few days of dropping a feeding, as they were still adjusting), i would usually try to let them cry just a little to see if they would fall back to sleep.  if they didn’t, i would get them up, nurse on one side only (so not really a full feeding…this is the only time I would purposefully let them snack) and put them right back to bed, treating it as a “middle of the night feeding” like I mentioned above. then i would wake them at 7:00 am and give them a full feeding then. (you may have a little less milk if you just fed on one side at 5:30 am, but just feed as best you can…i would still feed on both sides at 7:00 am, starting with the side that I didn’t feed on earlier, and I always had plenty of milk for them).

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(Berkeley)

if they woke up after 6:00 am and wouldn’t go back to sleep, i would try to stretch them as close to 7 as possible before feeding, so we might play, or cuddle, etc until it was as close to 7:00 as I could make it. (a half hour on either end is okay) i know that might sound weird, but one of the most important things in Baby Wise to get your baby to adjust is to start your schedule at the same time everyday. This is also so short-lived, and before you know it, they will be waking you right on time!

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(Bella)

I used this same technique if my babies woke early out of their naps and couldn’t settle themselves back to sleep after a minute or two, except I wouldn’t do the “snack” feed, but just let them have wake time until it was time to feed again. The only time I would adjust that and feed earlier than scheduled was if they were showing signs of hunger, due to a growth spurt, etc. which does happen and which I will mention later on.

At around 5 or 6 months, we transitioned to an every 4 hour schedule, and the time it took to nurse was much shorter, and playtimes were more of actual playtimes:

5 MONTHS – A YEAR (OR MORE):

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(Canaan)

7:00 am: WAKE AND EAT, THEN PLAY

9-11:00 am: NAP

11:00 am: EAT THEN PLAY

1-3:00 pm: NAP

3:00 pm: EAT THEN PLAY

5:30 pm: NAP (30-45 minutes)

7:00 pm: EAT AND BEDTIME

as I slowly introduced solid food at 6 months, I would nurse at the times listed, but offer food after I nursed, beginning with once a day, and slowly transitioning to 3 solid meals a day too. As I weaned at a year, I first dropped the late-afternoon feeding, and only nursed at the three meals, and then slowly backed off each feeding, dropping the early afternoon feeding next, then the bedtime feeding, and eventually the morning feeding. That’s just the way I did it, but that could be done any number of ways.

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(Canaan)

As with any method, there’s lots that can and should be adjusted according to your child’s individual needs. There are also lots of things that I changed with subsequent children, as I learned what worked well and what didn’t. My poor Canaan…he was my guinea pig (as most firstborns are with lots of things.) but it seems as if he’s adjusted fine! And now we can tell him stories and laugh about how we were as young, first-time parents. I mean…i was 23 when I had him….23 and CLUELESS!

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so…WHAT I LEARNED ALONG THE WAY AND DID DIFFERENTLY WITH #2 AND #3:

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once the girls came along, and I had one kiddo under my belt, I was not so afraid that I was gonna mess it up, or that it wasn’t gonna work. I learned along the way…that it IS going to work. And even though consistency is key, I learned that I could be consistent but still be flexible.

so….here are a few things I did differently:

I was not such a slave to the clock. I’m telling you, with Canaan, I was to the MINUTE! Like…if the next feeding is supposed to be at 3:00 pm, but its 2:53 and baby woke up early and is hungry, i’d wait until 3:00 on the dot. However, I quickly learned that 30 minutes either way isn’t gonna mess it up, so if you need to feed 30 minutes early, do it! Or if your baby is taking a longer nap, you can give them an extra 30 minutes. Or if they are showing any signs of hunger, even if for no good reason, its okay to feed them!

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(Berkeley)

I went slower. Meaning, I worked on staying on schedule as best as I could, but I didn’t freak out when things had to be adjusted, or if the day wasn’t going according to plan. I was way more laid back with #2 and #3, cause I knew that some days i’d just need to survive, and not sticking to the exact schedule wasn’t gonna mess it all up. Also…i soaked in them just being babies, and wanting to sleep in my arms, and be rocked and cuddled. I tried to stay on schedule with feedings, but often times with naps, especially in the first few months, I didn’t let them cry it out much at all.

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(Bella)

I paid more attention. I was aware of growth spurts, and off days, and teething, and I adjusted as needed, adding in more feedings, more naps, etc. this is my biggest regret with Canaan. I was such a first time, nervous-nelly of a mom, and I needed a formula to follow cause I had no clue how to be a momma yet, so I followed our Baby Wise schedule to a T…but when he hit a growth spurt around 4 months, and would cry after his feedings, it never crossed my mind that he was still hungry (because I hadn’t really experienced growth spurts yet), and since he had just taken a full feeding according to my clock and schedule, I failed to see at first that what he really needed was more milk!

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(Canaan)

I think this is more related to being a first time mom and just simply still figuring it all out, and less related to Baby Wise, but sticking to my schedule at this time wasn’t what he needed during that growth spurt, and it took me a bit to see that.  Thankfully, we caught on that something wasn’t quite right, and with the help of our pediatrician, I learned to add in more feedings and did some bottle supplementing with frozen breast milk and even some formula for a few days to ensure he was getting enough. But if I had just kept going according to my schedule, without paying attention to his needs or the needs of my milk supply, it could’ve been bad. So although Baby Wise is wonderful, it should be used as a loose and adjustable formula, and should never take precedent over your individual baby’s needs, at any specific time. So pay attention.

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Along those lines, I paid more attention to the kind of crying too, like I mentioned before. If I could go back to Canaan as a baby, I would’ve let him cry it out less. I think I was so afraid of “getting it right” that I was terrified that I would mess it up if I didn’t do it all exactly right, cry it out and all. So looking back, I feel like I let him cry it out the most. Now that i’ve done it a few times, I know that the system works, and they are gonna eventually get it…so I was more quick with my girls to comfort them and not let them cry it out for too long.

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(Berkeley)

These are a few areas where we adjusted the book to our individual family, and took and used the concepts, as opposed to being hard and fast with the “rules.”

in conclusion, let me say this…my kiddos are big time stinkers. Every single one of them. Sweet Berkeley might even be leading the pack in stinker-ness these days. They are normal kids, precious and fun and full of life, but also full of sin and selfishness and entitlement. But…they are healthy, well adjusted, brilliantly smart, very social, average-sized, loving, caring, empathetic individuals, who as much as they try to convince us otherwise with some disrespect and disobedience, really do love us and trust us as their parents. We cuddle, and hug, and kiss, and physically show affection for one another daily, and tell each other we love each other multiple times everyday. We are a normal, loving family, and although we screw it all up to tarnation all the live long day, I genuinely do not believe for even a second that sleep training my kids, or letting them cry it out, has led them to be anything less than, well, normal! And i’d think by now, at ages 10, 7 and 18 months, we’d know otherwise. I’m also pretty sure i’ve got a slew of friends, who may not have necessarily used this same method, or even who agree with it, but who would still vouch for my kiddos well-beings, mentally, emotionally and physically.

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I know that this is not the right system for everyone. I also know that some people actually feel hatred towards Baby Wise, or sleep training methods in general. So even though the “haters gonna hate,” I really do hope you hear the heart and motive behind why we chose to sleep-train, and the benefits we’ve experienced from Baby Wise. I also know for sure that there are mommas out there like me, who are dying for some real life momma advice on sleep training. This is the kind of post that I wish I had come across when I was a first time momma. so I really hope and pray that for those of you in that boat, this is helpful and valuable information. I can only speak from my own personal experience, but I can tell you that we have loved the outcome of those early days of the hard work of sleep training through Baby Wise, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

alpinexmas15-23

34 Comments

Feb

20

$20 DIY Jewelry Organization

if you happen to follow me on Pinterest, then you will know that i began pinning ideas for Jewelry Organization over 2 years ago.  i have been thinking for so long about how exactly i wanted to organize my jewelry, what to use, how it should look, and then last week, i decided that i needed to just stop thinking, and just start doing.  so i came up with this system along the way, and i’m really happy with how it all turned out.  and best thing is…it only cost me around $20.

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the initial inspiration came when i found this earring holder a few months ago at a garage sale.  i think i paid $1.00 for it, and after a quick coat of spray paint, and some cream burlap attached to the back, it was as good as new.

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i have since searched for one like it so that i could link it for you, cause its pretty awesome, but i honestly have no clue where its from, or how to find one like it.  however…i think it would be VERY easy to make something similar.  i know that Hobby Lobby sells open frames (you know…the ones without glass), and with a coupon, it would not cost much at all.  or even one like this could look amazing: 11×14 Barnwood Reclaimed Wood Open 11×14 Frame.  you could attach metal strips or even easier, wood strips, running horizontally, and drill small holes in the strips to hold the earrings, and voila…a homemade earring holder just like this one.

if you didn’t want to bother with the strips, you could even just hang your earrings from the burlap, or use decorative Hobby & Craft Metal Sheets and hang your earrings from that.  (if i were making one, i’d use the metal sheets.  i love how those look, and its so simple!)

for the rest of the project, i went to Home Depot and bought 1.25 inch wide decorative moulding.  you know, like the kind you find with the baseboards and crown moulding, in the really really long strips.  the kind i picked is priced by the yard, so it cost me a total of $11.00, but i bet you could possibly find moulding that is even less expensive.  i had the man at Home Depot cut it to the sizes i needed, eliminating a step in this project that i really didn’t want to do myself.

i had 2 pieces cut to 19 inches each, for my necklaces (which ended up being long enough for 12 hooks each, giving me room for a minimum of 24 necklaces) and one longer piece that measured 32 inches (long enough for 10 widely spaced hooks for bracelets.)

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i also bought brass plated cup hooks in two different sizes.  the smaller hooks were 5/8 inch, and i used those for all the necklaces and some of the bracelets.  they came in a box of 100 for around $4.

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the ones i bought are very similar to these:  5/8 Inch Brass Cup Hooks, 100 Pack.  the 6 bigger hooks were 1.5 inch, and those hold my wider, cuff style bracelets.  i got 2 for $1.16 at Home Depot, but you can also buy them in bulk packs if you need more: 1-1/2-Inch Brass Cup Hooks.  i used a total of 6.

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once i had all my supplies, the first thing i did was measure exactly where i wanted each hook.  after a little bit of math and some playing around with my necklace sizes, i decided that i wanted each hook for my necklaces to be 1.5 inches apart.  i began my row of hooks 1 inch in from each end, leaving room to place a screw later on to attach it to the wall.  i also wanted the hooks running horizontally down the middle of the main part of my moulding (not including the decorative edge).  that halfway point was at 3/8 inch from the top edge.  so i ran a line at that mark horizontally, and then marked where each of my hooks were going to be on that line.  i was able to fit 12 hooks on each short piece of moulding, giving me room for a minimum of 24 necklaces (not doubled).

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i did the same thing for the long piece, except i placed the hooks 3 inches apart to account for the width of my bracelets, and left 2 inches on each end.  i was able to fit 10 hooks on my long piece.

i began to screw in the hooks by hand so as to make the holes for each hook before spray painting.  i considered using a drill, but i couldn’t find our’s, and i am not one who likes to just stop and wait and put a project to hold, so i just figured i’d power thru.

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but…my skin was stripping and my fingers were killing me after just a few hooks…and they weren’t really going in as straight as i would’ve liked (although, once it was all said and done, you’d never notice that those first few hooks are a little off.)

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thankfully, the Hubs came home in the middle of my quest to make holes, found the drill, and in about 2 minutes flat had all the holes drilled for me.  so…although totally possible to make all those holes by hand with the hooks, i would highly suggest using a drill if possible.

once the holes were drilled, i painted the moulding.  i used my favorite gold spray paint, cause i happened to have it on hand, and i’m also on a gold kick and want to spray paint everything gold!

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once they were dry, i screwed in all the hooks (much easier now that all the holes were drilled).  one quick note about the hooks…because the depth of my moulding was very slightly smaller than the length of the hooks, i had to be careful when screwing them in that they didn’t pop thru the back of the moulding.  so i didn’t quite tighten the hooks all the way, but it didn’t make one bit of difference in the way it looks or the way it functions to have the hooks not quite flush with the moulding.  that will make sense to you if you are using moulding like mine.

to hang the moulding on the wall, we bought long drywall screws.  i painted the heads of each screw in the same gold spray paint so they would blend in.  (here’s a tip for painting screw heads.  place a piece of newspaper on the grass, then stick your screws into the ground thru the newspaper.  they stand upright, and the newspaper protects your grass from the paint.)

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we used a screw on each end of the moulding to attach it to the wall.

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i decided to hang my longer necklaces higher, and then my shorter necklaces right beneath them, and then the bracelets underneath the whole thing.  make sure when you are figuring out where to hang your moulding, that you take into account the length of your longest necklaces.

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i realized after the project was completed that i probably could’ve used all larger hooks for the bracelets, instead of some smaller and some larger.  it works for now, and i’ve doubled up a lot, even on the smaller hooks, but the larger hooks are probably better, since bracelets tend to be wide.  you can see the difference in how much the larger hooks hold as opposed to the smaller hooks.

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but for the necklaces, the smaller hooks are perfect, and there’s plenty of room to hang multiple necklaces from one hook:DSC_0047 copywe hung the jewelry in our master bedroom between our closet door and our bathroom door.  in a perfect world, i would’ve hung it in my closet, but there was not wall space in there to do so.  however, its so functional, and i’m finding that i’m actually wearing my jewelry more often because its so easy to access right out in the open.  i think it’d also look great in a bathroom if you have the wall space.

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so there you have it.  a quick, simple, and inexpensive project that brings loads of organization!

happy weekend!

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