October 30, 2013

The 18 month Sleep Regression: Top 10 things that helped.

This morning I read a post on one of my Facebook groups about an 18 month old losing their lovely sleep pattern. It all came back to me so quickly.

From months twelve to eighteen, if you were like us, sleep was good. And I mean 11-13 hour nights of blissful quiet, broken occasionally by a fever or cutting a tooth. But if Sienna wasn't sick or teething, sleep was... well blissful. We climbed into bed each night knowing there was a chance we'd clock eight hours of glorious sleep (if we could tear ourselves away from reality tv or a good book). 

And then.... then we hit the 18 month sleep regression. We thought it was molars. We thought it was a cold. We thought it was night terrors. Night mares. Developmental strides. The absolute height of separation anxiety. We talked it to death. All we knew is that Sienna tossed and turned all night. She let out cries. She sometimes was sitting up talking to her stuffed animals at 3:30 am as if it was time for a full on conversation. She practiced her words. She cried at bed time. Something we have NEVER dealt with, and she kept crying until I came back in at times. She was avoidant of her nighttime routine, more fussy during the day (hello sleep deprivation), and mama was a very unhappy camper too.

After a couple weeks, no fevers, and no teeth - we knew it was just one of these things we had to ride out. We went through this for about six weeks. It was hell. I was losing my mind because I was tired every day. I kept telling myself it was the 18 month regression. In retrospect, she did have a total verbal explosion in the past month which could definitely have been contributing. Whatever it was, here's what I found helped ease the pain.

Top Ten 18 Month Sleep Regression Sanity Savers:
1. Starting a new routine that included NO TV the last 1.5 hours before bed.  No TV for the whole day when we could swing it, but sometimes it wasn't reality. We used to allow one episode of Curious George while she drank her milk. This was cut entirely and took a couple days to get used to, but worked for the best.

2. Reading a few extra books and doing some extra cuddles at night. Talking to her about her day and reminding her we would play again tomorrow. Lots of extra verbal attention. Reminding her bed time was coming, but also that tomorrow would be fun. 

3. Letting Sienna have some control of things since going to bed is not her choice. For example, we hold up two pairs of pajamas every night and let her pick. Before she climbs into her chair we ask her to pick out her books. We also sometimes let her choose things like if mommy or daddy will sit and read with her, and what cup she wants to drink out of.  (We still do this, toddler control for the win.)

4. Making sure we got on a very set routine again. Bed time between 7 and 7:15- no exceptions. We started to get sloppy with this for awhile as our work schedules got busy. It's not fair to let Sienna's sleep suffer because work is crazy. We also tried to minimize travel during this crazy sleep time.We started her routine between 6:15 and 6:30.

5. Taking full advantage of her naps. Letting her sleep longer than usual if she was really tired. We found that no matter what we tried, night sleep was screwy. So instead of our usual waking her after a certain amount of time, we stopped that. There were a few 3+ hour naps in there- and boy did she need it. (We didn't push back bed time, we still kept it the same).

6. After checking to make sure all was well (no fever, no vomit), telling her it was time for night night, we walked out of the room even if she protested. If she did get really upset, we went in and told her to lay down and it was time for night night. Put her blanket over her, patted her back until she calmed down. Once or twice I had to pick her up, but generally just putting my hand on her back worked. I always went back in if she got hysterical, but otherwise she could soothe herself with her lovies and blankets.

7.  Taking a deep breath, reading a book, watching a TV show with J as soon as we put her down. We knew we'd have restless nights so we tried to veg early. Even if we weren't sleeping, our bodies were resting. It also helped to have someone to remind me she sometimes needed to work it out on her own. Team work.

 8. Napping on weekends when she napped if we had a rough night. Take a long hot shower if your partner is home and can be on baby duty for awhile. Exercise. If your mom offers to order you pizza so there's no post dinner clean up, go for it. Basically, take care of yourself during these regressions like you did when you had a newborn. Let people help you.

9.  Lean on your mom friends. They get it. They've been there. Asking them the exact pattern of their kid's sleep may not help, but hearing them laugh gently as they tell you they've been there is priceless. Besides, motherhood isn't all fun and it's nice to hear that you're not the only one who feels that way.

10. Tell yourself over and over it will pass. This helped me tremendously because I knew in my heart it was a phase. I wanted a quick fix, but also had read and heard that this can go on for awhile. I'm grateful it was only 6 weeks- but what a zombie I was during that time. It will pass. It will pass. It will pass.

For awhile, I couldn't find the motivation to write this because it was sort of traumatic to go through and writing it down reminded me how little sleep I was getting and how much anxiety it was provoking in me to see my girl's total sleep hours dwindling.  But I'm hoping this will help some other 3 am googling mama going through the 18 month sleep regression. It's not fun, but as I said...

It will pass.  Can't wait to book a trip to an island and leave J alone for the next sleep regression! I mean... Can't wait to figure out what will happen during the next sleep regression. Until then, happy sleeping.


Very bad no good sportsmanship

Let me first be clear on something: I'm not one of those moms or professionals for that matter who think everyone should "win" and get a participatory gold medal. I know from my own experience and watching children grow that sometimes losing is part of the battle. I'm not saying to shield from what it feels like to be disappointed. I'm not even saying to tell them that they should not be upset or to try to cheer them up after a loss. I think some of the most important lessons in life come from figuring out how to pick yourself back up when you fall. A gentle guiding hand and a hug doesn't hurt, but preventing disappointment only hurts kids long term. But there has to be a line between protecting and coddling and full out letting kids act inappropriately in terms of sportsmanship.

On Saturday we went to a Philly Union game. Across from our amazingly wonderful season ticket seats, was a little boy who was probably about 8 or 9 years old. He was pumped to be at the game- you could tell. He never sat down. He had a Union scarf around his neck. And then.... then he opened his mouth. The crass horrible words coming out were atrocious.  He was yelling at players and coaches on the opposing team as if he was a 40 year old coach getting riled up on the sidelines himself. He was saying words I don't think are nearly appropriate for a school aged kid. His dad sat silently, never quieting him down. Never telling him to take it easy or to take it down a level. People were staring. Shaking their heads. We were at a PHILLY SPORTS EVENT. So you know if other people were sort of confused and appalled by it, it was pretty bad.

I didn't expect the kid to call out "good play" as the other team scored a goal. But I also didn't expect him to call the players nasty names and become physically irritable when they were winning. And then it happened. In the 88th minute of the game, we scored a goal- which was quickly answered by the other team scoring again. His silent dad broke his silence and the nasty remarks started coming out of his mouth too. If you want to be an adult who says bad words and horrible things about another team (or the referee a few times as luck would have it), that's your choice. But did this dad realize he was creating a mini monster? His son said phrases he clearly was repeating, such as "this is soccer, not ballet" and other remarks that were adult-produced speech emulated in this sweet looking child.

I turned to J at one point and said, "I'm trying not to say something but I feel bad for this kid and his dad is ruining his experience of sports. Also he's really inappropriate." I got that look of, "Don't you dare say a word," from Jamie as we chowed on our Chickie's and Pete's fries. After all, you never know how strangers are going to react. But my blog is mine, and that dad will probably never read it (though oh how I wish he would) so here it goes.

It got me thinking... why is bullying okay in sports? Why do we let coaches push kids to their limits before they even reach puberty? Why are fans allowed to yell obscenities at the other team (especially in front of little kids)? Why are we allowed to slay players from other teams- who actually may be on "our" team tomorrow? I don't expect sports to be all candy canes and rainbows. Competition is good. Sports and responsibility and dedication are amazingly wonderful, shaping, chock full of life activities. But they don't have to be laden with direct distinct bullying and terribly bad sportsmanship. There's a lovely gift we can give our kids- teaching them to be classy and kind and gracious losers. They will still lose, make no mistake, but the way they lose is so important. Teaching anger instead of a slow (maybe even tearful) acceptance of loss, teaching blaming instead of learning a lesson- those aren't helpful at all.  Thinking about how some good levels of anxiety may push us to our optimal level of performance? Better use of our emotions. Using our mistakes to motivate us to perform better next time? Absolutely.

I'm not the perfect parent. I don't claim to be and I learn my lessons one day at a time like every other parent out there. But maybe.... maybe we should stop and think really hard before we mold our kids into the mean kid on the team- the bully in school- who hears it's okay to make fun of people and harass people for how they perform on the field, or in life. 

These are the kids that will be in school with my kid(s). And while Sienna also will not be perfect (as evidenced by the 8:00am tantrum over a popsicle this morning), I'll try to teach her grace in losing. I'll try to help her understand that calling other people names doesn't make her the winner.  I'll surely hug her when she's disappointed and feeling down about not getting or doing what she wants.  I married a man- quite purposely- who sees the good and necessity in almost all situations. I know he will help our children do the same as they go through life.

Next time I see a dad and a son or a mom and a daughter (girls are not immune- think mean girl syndrome) like this, maybe I'll toss a compliment the child's way just to see if I can brighten up their day and switch his or her prerogative.

So teach your kids to shake hands when they lose. To get back on the horse when they fall off. To restrain from blaming others for their disappointments. Quite simply, teach your kids despite all odds, to be kind.


October 24, 2013

A few things I love.

In our house lately, there are a few things that consistently make me smile:

~Sienna does this new thing where she runs as fast as she can across the room and tackles us with a hug. She especially likes to do it in public, at gym class.

~In the morning, Sienna used to ask for just me. Now she goes through the repetoire. Mama? Hi! Dada? Dad bed? Dad work? Duck? Ba ba? The last two are her lovies- duck and lamby. We have to make sure they get out of the bed and come with us.

~Quiet time in the evenings has returned. J is not playing soccer this season and we've made a good effort to spend some quality time together. With wedding season (almost) coming to a close, we also have less traveling going on and more time to catch up on movies we've had on our Netflix queue.

~Windows open for fall weather. Even on chilly days, I crack the window open in the kitchen to let in some fresh air. It never fails to make the house feel less stuffy and more cozey.

~The prospect of new moves on the horizon and sitting in bed, laptops googling and trulia-ing, discussing where life will take us next with Jamie is my favorite way to end a day.

~Dare I say this: The ability to do house chores and watch Sienna play independently for awhile while I watch over her from the kitchen. This is life saving and wonderful and also makes me realize how she is really growing up.

~Watching S sit on our bed in the morning. Footie pjs that are now a size 2T. Chubby legs turning into kid legs. Drinking her milk and sometimes stating loudly to Jamie, "MORE MILK PEAS DADDY!"Her loud demands make me laugh every.single.time.

Always important to remember (and document) the small things. Here's to a quick rest of the week! 


October 22, 2013


{Dear husband, this is almost a week belated. But it wouldn't post last week, so it's here this week.  I love you just as much today as on our anniversary anyway, and I didn't want it to go to waste. }
Today is our third anniversary. I could get all mushy gushy but instead I gathered some of my favorite photos from over the last year since anniversary two and put together a little video.  The video isn't the best quality since blogger limits what I can upload, but it's a good reminder of our year. Year three was a really good one. Happy Anniversary to us!


If I had to choose,
my best day ever
my finest hour
my wildest dream come true
Mine would be you.


Front Railing Reveal

That sounds way exciting.
It's a railing, and it looks good but I actually have already posted on instagram so technically this is not the official reveal. And it's just a railing.
I digress. Last time I left the blog we were at this point.
After weekends of being away and at weddings and seriously way too busy, J found one day to get up the side railing. He is a champ and worked all day and it went well.
Lesson #1 learned: If you buy the 6' rail at home depot, you actually get a railing that is approximately 5'7". It is labeled 6 feet. This is absolutely absurd. If you find the tiny print, it will say it is only 5'7" but the big bold writing on the front says otherwise. Splurge for the longer post if you need it because if you don't you'll have go to back to home depot many times.
Fast forward: A few weeks later we still had a lot to do so my parents came down. My mom and I handled all the baby playing and house cleaning while my dad and Jamie spent literally all day- breaksfast until dinner, after lots of coffee of course, completing the rest.
We had to rent a drill to get through the cement. And then after they made the progress on the left, had to undo it and we were back to the photo on the right because drilling through metal is also no fun.
A lot of this took place: staring at saw and railing and trying to decide exactly what angle to cut at in order to get the right outcome. There were also multiple cuts.  Unrelated, our nephew once said in pre school that a pencil was to put behind your ear because he saw J's dad do this so often. Cracks me up. At the end of the day, they figured it out.
When the bottom post was in well and they were struggling with the top post, they called in the very cute reserves. In her boots and northface fleece she was the best foreman they could ask for and I'm pretty sure with a little bit of Sienna around they figured it out.
And this, here is the end product. I'm so ridiculously happy with this! It makes the entire house look different. As we think about where our next move will be, putting these finishing touches on the house really will pay off. Nothing like good curb appeal!


October 16, 2013

Put your kids to bed on time... and before 9.

Sometimes the work life balance is overwhelming, but the other night while Sienna slept (see following my own advice) I wrote this blog for philly.com healthy kids section:

Time for Bed! Do regular bedtimes benefit your child?

A success as a mom and workerbee.

PS Happy happy anniversary, Jamie. I love you!


October 13, 2013

Leaf Jumping.

My parents have a huge backyard.

Back in the late eighties and early nineties when we were little the fall was primetime.
Primetime for LEAF PILE JUMPING.

My dad would rake and rake and rake and we'd come tearing down the hill in the backyard.
Our black lab usually leading the race to chase her tennis ball.
Diving into the huge pile of leaves.

Today my parents were visiting (a HUGE thank you + reno update soon to come)
My mom told me to get the rake- Sienna needed a leaf pile.

We raked, and Sienna squealed with glee as we showed her how to do the first jump.
After her love at first sight/experience, she didn't want to stop.
We had to tuck in her shirt to stop the leaves from creeping up her tummy.
Her laughter was literally contagious and I found myself back in the leaf pile at Highland Drive.

Thanks, S, for reminding me how much fun it is to be a kid. Check out the last picture.
Even grammy joined in. A perfect crisp leaf jumping day.

Happy Fall, Loves.


October 10, 2013

I knew I spoke too soon... Also my mom is my hero

Yesterday I posted about how we outgrew the 18 month sleep regression- yay. And how things seemed to start to go back to normal.

I should have never written it down because the internet gods looked down on me and laughed and laughed and then sent me home after work to a projective vomiting almost-103 fevered baby.

Last night I slept on the couch (if you can call waking up every hour with a poor babe who was whining and sweating). I set up the pack in play in the living room so S was never out of arm's reach of me. I prayed the vomiting would stop overnight and it did. I mean, thank God because something needed to give.

I'm pretty sure on top of teething and a fever that S is getting her two year molars. The perfect most horrible storm.  I get so anxious when she's sick- which I am sure is because of our two day admission to the children's hospital last time she had a stomach virus that lasted a raging 13 days. A sick baby is my kryptonite. J always reassures me it will get better. Unfortunately our work schedules this week have been crazy and we don't know who's coming or going and who is sleeping or not sleeping. I know some parents have it way worse, and I'm not saying poor me. But this is reality in my house right now.

I've never (ever ever ever ever) been more thankful than my mom than when she helps me take care of a sick little S. Okay, fine I was alllllmost as thankful after I had S and she did things like made sure my sheets were clean and brought meals and held the baby so I could sneak in naps. But she continues to prove herself as my hero time and time again. I'm not saying I'm not a good mom, but.... I have a long way to go to get to her selfless amazing no complaints just take care of things and be grateful while she's doing it level of awesome.

So here are our lessons:
a) Don't write about how great things are going with your baby because you'll be wrong the next day
b) Hug your mom. It's a damn hard job.
c) Hug my mom if you see her- she's the best there is.


October 9, 2013

New routines lately.

Sienna is hilarious lately at night. She knows what she wants and when she wants it.

Bath time? No thanks mom, I'd rather run around half naked down the hallway chasing the cat or squealing at daddy as he runs after me.

We have realized that sometimes she needs more wind down time otherwise falling asleep is no easy feat. A few extra books and then some quiet rocking with one of us (not to sleep, just to relax) before crib.

A couple weeks ago I went away for the night with my best friends. We had a ball. If you know my sleep nazi ways, you know that I was mildly concerned about what I would come home to, nap wise and sleep wise. I asked J if she went down okay for him and he replied that of course she did, he just talked to her about their day.

I mean.... how cute? A (mostly) one-sided conversation about what they played that day, what S ate, what they will do tomorrow.

Two nights ago, I happened to put in a load of laundry and the dishes before I went up to say goodnight to my girl, who was happily reading books with daddy. Her lights were already off and I heard the faint sound of their voices.... again talking about their day. This might be my favorite new routine that's going on. She absolutely loves it.

So I did the only spy like mama thing to do, I turned on the monitor and stalked them listened to them talk. I know this sort of looks creepy and alien like, but here's S, lovey in hand, looking up at her daddy as he talks about their day.

And then, as if it wasn't already melt my heart cuteness night... Our little one now sleeps with her arm firmly around her lamby friend.  She always looks so comfy cuddled up to him. A girl after my own heart on the cuddling for sure.

PS I think we have finally emerged from the weird 18 month sleep regression that sort of started around this crazy time. {Now that I typed that we know that this will probably backfire. Such is life.}


October 7, 2013

The Blog Overhaul: New Template, New {DIY!} Header, Signature, and some other fun....

{Preface: All of these update & semi tutorials are for Windows, not mac computers}

A little while back, I decided my blog needed a makeover. It was sort of too much someone else's, not enough mine, and I needed a reason to start writing about life again. An aesthetic overhaul was the way to go. So what did I do?
Well first of all, my old background had to go.
Enter Star Sunflower Studio. I totally found this site via googling; I wanted something simple but also me. I really loved some of their backgrounds. So I bit the bullet- for the first time I decided to pay for a good background. I knew I could figure out the rest on my own, but this was easy peasy for a starting ground. Oh and also, amazing customer service. They sent me links and directions for installing my twitter and pinterest
They are also on etsy! You can search for them (sunstarlowerstudio) and see what they have for you, too.
Okay so I had my background. And I knew I wanted to create my own header with photos, so I decided that I would google and figure it out on my own. I knew that Picasa was the way to go but really had no clue how to start. I searched many blogs and found Blissfully Domestic to be the most helpful. So a big thanks to her! I literally just followed her steps. Except, I went a few steps further. First of all, you can get digital scrapbook paper. Who knew? I decided that the third block of my header would be a digital scrapbook jpeg. I just found one I liked, and saved it. Then added it right into my picasa collage.

You just save your picasa collage as a jpeg. When you go into blogger, you go to layout, Header, and then just add your image.

Easy as that. Okay fine, it took me forever to really line up the photos. And if you want a full tutorial, for sure head on over to Blissfully Domestic as linked above. That was my saving grace.

A few other things: I am obsessed with fonts. I hate normal fonts for fun things like a blog header, or if I am printing invitations, or writing letters. So I religiously use DaFont to find new fun looks for my words. For the header, I wanted to have something different. I downloaded a few  new fonts and mixed and matched with old fonts. You can add this right in when making your collage. Once you choose a font, just download it and save it wherever you want.

 I usually save to my desktop just because it's easy to get to. Once it shows up on your desktop, right click and hit "extract files". Double click on the new (same named) folder and then double click on the font listed inside. You will see this:

Okay sort of you will see this. Your screen may not have an excel sheet about your friend's baby shower on the bottom. But you get the point. Hit install, give it a minute, and VOILA! It will land in your fonts for you to use from here on out. Easy right? It's one of my fave things to do in terms of spicing things up.

I used my new fonts for my signature too. I just wrote my name, then found some hearts in a font I loved, and there we have it. I saved it as a jpeg via word. Then I uploaded it to picasa. Then simply steal the code they used to create your image (it's not stealing like illegal stealing).

Go to settings on blogger, then Posts and Comments, and then find the box that says post template.  It will look like this:

Copy and paste your link in the Post Template area. Hit save and it should show up on all of your posts to come. I don't know how to go back and make other posts have your signature, but this part is easy and even I could do it during naps/after baby bed time.

My friend Kelly suggested that I post this to help other non-full time bloggers who are just figuring this out day to day, so here it is. Are there other random blog things you want to know? Things that I didn't make clear that I can help with?

Happy blog re-designing!


October 3, 2013

mount washington adventures

We went up to New Hampshire last week for five days. The long trip is inevitably structured around our annual hike up Mt. Washington.  The last two years I haven't hiked (pregnant + small infants do not make for good years for mama to hike). This year, I was determined to get back at it. J has been joining us on this hike for years now. I think the first time I dragged him along was when I was in graduate school and he keeps coming back, so I guess it can't be that bad.
Mt. Washington is such an interesting hike because it's a mix between a moderately paced walk in the woods at the very start and a heart pounding sweating work out at the end climbing over huge boulders. Each time I hike I forget how hard it is- and how pretty it is. Each time we hike I am so excited to reach the summit and feel the sense of accomplishment. Each time we hike, I forget how badly my quads and ankles will hurt the next day because there is just.no.other. work out like heading straight down rocks for hours on end. And each time we hike (by three days later) I'm looking forward to the next time. I'm always grateful when my dad starts the emails or texts rolling asking us for good dates for "the hike" every fall.
There's nothing quite like Washington to me- it's a family tradition. It's a powerful natural beast of crazy weather. It's sun shining through freezing cold biting air at times. It's snow in August. It's heat in October. It's sitting on the top of the headwall of Tuckerman's ravine, admiring the amazingly gorgeous scenery, and eating lunch before finishing the last part of the hike. It's my dad eating chili at the top (hello, my stomach + chili would be a disaster, I stick to a chocolate chip cookie). It's my uncle Kurt taking the best photos even if it does mean making me extremely nervous hanging off cliffs and edges. It's my brother switching gears from joking with me to asking if I'm okay as we approach the summit... and the end of the hike on the way down. It's having my husband be a part of something that is so inherently a part of the Tuohy clan. It's a clear view from the summit on crystal clear blue days. It's spending eight to nine seriously quality hours with my family without any interruptions. It's like home.
Pinkham Notch pre hike circa 7 am.

Gorgeous view (I think that's Mt. Madison in the background)



Until next year, Mt. Washington....
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