Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Home Tour Tuesday and Then Some!

I don't know about you, but my mind seems to be going in eighteen million different directions. Tis the season to be crazy, right? I do love this time of year and so thankful to be able to celebrate Jillian's technically second Christmas and upcoming first birthday with her. I just want everything to be perfect and I already feel like I am running out of time. I think I am trying to make up for two Christmas's at once this year since I was pregnant last year and was due on December 24th. Everything last year was about the birth of our baby so I finally feel like this year I can let my hair down and go nuts!

This past week was a total whirlwind for our family. My brother was in town this week from Arkansas with his wife and the twins so we literally crammed in every family activity that we could think of to make the most of their visit to Cleveland. I hosted a Sprinkle for my sister last Saturday, family portrait day was on Tuesday, had Thanksgiving dinner at my parents house on Thursday, and attended the twins Baptism in Youngstown this past Saturday. Crazy times but certainly fun times. I can only imagine how my brother and sister in law felt carting two six month twin girls around town all week after a twelve hour trek across the country from Arkansas!!!!

I decided on Saturday night that I needed some serious down time after all of the madness. After putting Jillian to bed that night, I decided to take a long, relaxing bubble bath here:

I opened up a bottle of wine, lit some candles, and logged into my Pandora Christmas music station on my netbook. It was heaven and just what I needed to reset.

Coincidentally, Shannon over at Webbisodes is hosting her Tuesday Home Tour and it's all about where you go to relax in your home. I immediately thought of my awesome Saturday night relaxing away in the garden tub in our master bath and at this moment can't quite think of anything more relaxing then that!!!! I hope you too will head on over to Shannon's blog and post about where your most relaxing place is in your home. And especially this time of year, we all need a spot in our home to unwind and relax!

Just a reminder that there is still time to sign up for the ornament exchange!!! I have been so excited by the turnout so far and can't wait to see how it all turns out! Thank you so much for everyone who has signed up, I have received your emails and can't wait to reveal your partners. Sign up will continue through Wednesday, December 1st at 9 p.m. EST and Ornament Exchange partners will be revealed on Friday, December 3rd on my blog (Karen At Home), as well as Shannon's blog (Webbisodes). Please email me at jandkontalbot@yahoo.com to sign up!

I also wanted to mention that on Monday I began Stage I of the South Beach Diet and have already lost a pound!!! I plan on drafting up a separate post about my experience with the South Beach Diet and hopefully my success with it. I know we all can use some extra motivation around this time of year when everything around you seems to be mixed with peppermint and dipped in chocolate!!!!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Karen At Home for the Holidays!!!!


I can't even begin to tell you how excited I am to kick off the holiday season with a beautiful new blog design. This beautiful new look could not have been possible without the amazing creativity and hard work of Shannon at Persnickety Pages and More. Shannon by far exceeded my expectations in both her creativity and professionalism. Shannon also answered all of my questions promptly and with such patience because lord knows I had a lot of them!!!!

Shannon's knowledge on blog design is second to none and I feel very blessed to not only be one of her customers but also her friend. Shannon and I met several months ago when we both realized we had two beautiful girls named Jillian/Gillian. From that moment on we bonded over stories of our love for our girls, our love for Carter's, and our love for blogging. When Shannon is not spending hours on end creating beautiful blog designs, you can find her writing about her beautiful daugther Gillian Grace on her personal blog, Webbisodes.

I am also very excited that Shannon at Webbisodes
and I have teamed up to host our first annual Ornament Exchange amongst our readers! The rules are easy to follow and we hope you will join us in the fun and help us to spead some holiday cheer throughout blog land!

Ornament Exchange Details:

1. Sign up will run today (11/29) through Wednesday, December 1st at 9 p.m. EST.

2. To sign up, please email me at jandkontalbot@yahoo.com.

In your email please include:

-Ornament Exchange in the subject line

-Your first and last name

-Your mailing address

-Your blog address (if applicable)

3. Ornament Exchange partners will be revealed on Friday, December 3rd on my blog (Karen At Home), as well as Shannon's blog (Webbisodes). All participants will also be notified by email with their partner's name and mailing address.

4. Please purchase an ornament for exchange up to $15 in value.

5. All ornaments must be mailed between Monday, December 6th and Wednesday, December 8th.

6. All participants are asked to post and link up with pictures of their received ornament on Thursday, December 17th. A link up will be provided on both hosts' blogs (Webbisodes and Karen at Home).

7. We encourage all participants to grab the Webbisodes/Karen At Home ornament exchange button above and paste it into the side bar of your blog until the exchange is over. The more that know about the ornament exchange, the merrier!!!

Both Shannon and I hope that our first Ornament Exchange will be a huge success and encourage you to not only join us in a little holiday gift-giving fun. Please help us get the word out by posting about the ornament exchange on your blog. I hope you are as excited as I am about the ornament exchange, it's the perfect opportunity for us to get to know our readers and for you to make some new bloggy friends along the way!!!

Happy Holidays from Karen At Home (for the Holidays!!!) and Shannon at Webbisodes.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Accessorizing with Vinyl Decals

I have been inspired lately to accessorize our home with vinyl decals in certain areas of our home. Vinyl decals are a very cheap and easy way to add style to your home without putting holes in your walls. I debated for a long time, over a year to be exact, on what I wanted to put over Jillian's crib. If you recall this post, I was torn between the vinyl decal with her initial on it or her name in decorative wooden letters. I decided to go with the decal for two reasons. One, I didn't have to put seven holes in the wall to spell out her name, and two, this decal was at least fifty dollars cheaper. So it was a win-win for me.

I also shamelessly copied this idea off of my neighbor. Since we built our home and were the first to live here, I thought it was such a cute idea to put an established sign in our foyer with our last name and the year we built our home. The white box is our last name covered up for all you stalkers out there, but you get the idea!!!

I am also in the process of ordering a 'Pantry' sign to go over the pantry door in our kitchen. I got this idea from Katie over at Cleared For Takeoff. I think it looks adorable over her pantry door.

If you are interested in ordering vinyl decals for your home, I ordered mine from Etsy Seller Elphannie.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Show Us Your Life: Laundry Rooms

Kelly's Korner is hosting her "Show Us Your Life" today and is featuring Laundry Rooms. I absolutely love our laundry room even though I feel like it is the easiest room in the house to get and stay messy. It's right off of the garage so it's so easy to just set something in there and shut the door. Not to mention, ever since I had a baby, I am CONSTANTLY doing laundry so it is never really clean. Nevertheless, I did take some pictures of the laundry room pre-Jillian so you can see what it looks like when it doesn't have heaping piles of laundry all over the floor!!! Please take a look around my laundry room and then head on over to Kelly's to check out some other beautiful, if not cleaner, laundry rooms!
I am so appreciative of our laundry room and just happy in general to have one. In our first home, the washer and dryer were in the kitchen!!! Out of all of the things that I disliked about that house, that was probably tops on my list. When Jeff and I built this home, it had to have a laundry room.
I found that it's extremely challenging to take pictures of our laundry room without a wide angle lens. Our laundry room is long and narrow so it's hard to photograph.

My pride and joy, the LG Front Load Washer and Dryer. These girls get a workout in our home!!!
We upgraded the cabinet in the laundry because the standard builder grade cabinet looked like particle board. It really cheapened the look of the laundry room. I like the one my chose so much better.
The laundry room was one of the first rooms in the house that we painted. The color is Behr Provence. It's a french blue color, I love the richness of the color against the stark white cabinets.
Now just to keep things real, here is how our laundry room looks today. It's Friday and it's my day off of work. It's been a long week and the laundry is piling up. Please tell me your laundry room looks more like these pictures than the ones on top???
So many clothes, they are bursting into the hallway.
Jeff built these shelves for me before Jillian came. I had been using her closet for a laundry clothes hanger for the longest time because we didn't have any shelving. I really like these shelves, I can hang a lot of clothes on them and I can store laundry baskets and other items on top.

Thanks for stopping by!!!!

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Jillian is Ten Months Old!

My sweet Jillian, you are no where close to being just ten months old anymore but this is the first time in weeks I have been able to sit you down for a photo shoot and blog about it. You are actually turning 11 months this weekend! Good Lord, where did this month go? It seems a few hospital visits, ear infections, so many sleepless nights I lost count, surgeries, etc, delayed me a bit! We are finally, finally, finally back on track and needed to take a moment to write down what you has been doing this past month before time passes us by any quicker!!!

You are now a seasoned crawler. You have been doing this for a weeks now, I believe just a few days after I wrote up your nine month post. You had been army crawling then and easily transitioned into a regular crawler a week or two after that. You crawls everywhere! You also follow me all over the house now which I love. You even follows me into the bathroom which I am not really loving but I will let it go since you are so stinkin' cute! I love how you now callsfor me when you can't find me. If I am in the laundry room which is off of our great room, you will start calling for me with these short pitched "Ah's!" I will answer you back with the same "Ah!" and then once you get an idea to where I am, I will then call for you to come find me. A few minutes later I here you trampling into the laundry room with a huge smile on your face! It's so cute!!!

You are also Mommy's little helper in the kitchen too. You have so many toys, but if I am doing dishes or preparing a meal, you will follow after me and hang out right beside me. Usually trying to open the nearest cabinet to play in. Because of your active crawling and new interest in all of the items in my kitchen, baby proofing our home has officially begun. We have bought outlet covers and a few cabinet latches so far. Baby gates will be our next baby proofing endeavor. Another thing that we found is that our door stops now look like this:

You seems to have an obsession for door stops. At first you were afraid of them. You tried playing with one and was a bit taken aback at first from the loud twang that it made. You got used to it pretty quickly and then felt the need to twang all of the door stops. At first I thought it was pretty cute and something fun for you to play with until I found one of the white little plastic door stop covers almost in your mouth!! You had pulled the end off of the doorstop in our bedroom and were two seconds from snacking on it. So no more doorstops in our house for awhile!!!!

Jillian is also pulling herself up onto everything but only with her knees. You first started doing this the night of Cry It Out #1 and now will pull herself up onto the coffee table, the end tables, and the bathtub. We will place her in a standing position along the couch and coffee table and you feels pretty sturdy standing there for a few minutes. I am sure that milestone is only a few weeks away.

Jillian, you are still in Carter's size nine month clothing and don't seem to be growing out of this size any time soon. You do however fit into size 9 and 12 months sleepers because you are so tall. You are still in a size 3 diapers and I am still loving the Target diapers. When you were in the hospital a few weeks ago, you weighed 17 pounds, 8 ounces. You hadn't gained anything since your nine month visit, you had lost weight from being so sick. Hopefully you are back on track and gaining some weight back.

Look at those long legs! I think it's safe to say you are going to have long legs and be tall like your Mommy.

Your eye lashes are so beautiful!! You receive more compliments from strangers on your eye lashes than anything else.

Mommy has been trying to mix in a few adult foods along with your baby food. You still eat Stage II foods for breakfast and lunch, however, I just recently started feeding you Gerber Stage III foods for dinner. The Stage III foods have meat and chunky vegetables in which is great practice for you to eat adult foods. As far as adult foods go, you have tried Nana and Papa's homemade pasta, Kraft Macaroni and cheese, grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken noodle soup, Tyson chicken nuggets, green beans, apples and bananas. Your favorite snack of regular food is shredded cheddar cheese. All I have to do is get the bag out from the refrigerator and you start flapping your arms a mile a minute. You also love yogurt melts and puffs now and are a champ at picking them up with your fingers and putting them in your mouth. I still break them up into little pieces, larger ones still seem to make you choke a bit. You just can't get enough of them though, you could probably eat a full meal on yogurt melts alone if I let you.

Mommy and Daddy have spent some long and trying hours this month getting up with you at night but what an amazing sleeper you are now that we are done with our sleep training!!! You go to sleep every night by 8:30pm, sometimes even earlier if you are really tired, and you sleep until around 7am. I no longer dread bedtime. Mommy and Daddy no longer take turns at night seeing who can get you to sleep the fastest. It's been a wonderful transition and life is just so much easier for everyone, especially you. As we I type this, I just put you down for a nap. You are fussing just a bit in your crib but you are laying down and trying to fall asleep on your own. I can confidently say that I am sure you will be sound asleep in a few minutes and will probably nap for at least an hour. Daycare naps are another story but we are hopeful that with better naps at home will lead to better naps at daycare!!!!

We put your bumpers in your crib for the first time this month and you really seem to like them. At first, they scared the crap out of us and we were constantly checking on you since you love to lay your head on them. I know the SIDS danger is so small right now for ten months, but it was still a big step for us to put them back in your crib. We decided to do it when we started sleep training because we thought it would be one way to keep those paci's from rolling out of your crib!!! There was nothing worse than hearing that paci hit the floor every night and then you crying for it.

Jillian, Mommy finally stopped nursing you last week and it was one of the hardest things I had to do. I honestly never thought I would have so much trouble with it. It seemed to signify that you were no longer a baby. Every time I thought about it, I would get upset. I finally had to just set a date and do it. When the last time to nurse you came, I wasn't as upset about it as I thought I would be. I thought there would be lots of tears and hugs but I got through it. I guess I was finally ready too. You have done so well with the transition. I was worried that it would upset you too which was one of the reasons that I delayed it for so long. Every now and then when you are tired you put your head towards my chest but then you quickly forget about it as soon as I give you your paci.

You still only have two bottom teeth but I feel like you have been teething for months now. Your doctor claims that most of your ear infections have been due to teething, however, I do not see any new teeth wanting to pop through yet. You are not saying any words just yet, however, when you are upset and crying you do say "Ma ma ma". Not quite sure if you know what this means, but I will take it as a sign that you want your Mommy! You also seem to be trying to say Papa every now and then too to you Papa's delight.

Jillian's favorite toys are her Snoozer bear, mini Elmo doll, blocks, Fisher Price musical keys, the Fisher Price Laugh and Learn table (without the legs) and your Vtech laptop. Your favorite book at bedtime is The Ten Little Ladybugs. You love to run your fingers along the little plastic lady bugs every time we read it to you.

My sweet girl.

Thank you for another great month sweetie. I am so happy that your ear infections have cleared up and that you are finally sleeping much better. I wrote in your last monthly post that I was worried about you getting ear tubes. Now that you have them and it's all behind us, it's such a huge relief for all of us. My love for you grows more and more every day. I am so thankful to God for choosing me to be your Mommy, what a precious gift you are.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Home Tour Tuesday with Webbisodes

One of my dearest bloggy friends, Shannon is having a fun and exciting link up party for Tuesdays. It's a weekly tour of your home along with a yummy holiday recipe. I hope everyone thinks it's as adorable as she is and will link up. You are all very familiar with my kitchen so I don't want to bore you too much with it again, however, I have added a few new accessories here and there that I thought I take the opportunity and show you. As you all know, I am accessory challenged so when I decide on a wall accessory, you know I have put a lot of thought into it!!!

I added a third apothecary jar to my kitchen island. I am very big lately on decorating in groups of three so I felt the need to add an extra jar. I also like how the yellow ties in with the counter tops and adds some extra color to the room.

I also hung up a sconce along the wall facing our kitchen. The door is to our basement and since the wall can be seen from all angles of our kitchen and great room, I thought an extra sconce on the side of the door would add some visual interest.


I also have fun recipe to share with you!! I came across it this weekend while we were having dinner at Bravo! with Jeff's family. We ordered an appetizer from their new holiday menu, their Spicy Feta Dip. It. Was. Amazing!!!!! I asked our waitress what was in it and she comes out with an actual index card with all of the ingredients written on it! She explained that she wouldn't give me the exact measurements but by looking at the thick consistency of the dip, you can pretty much take a stab on how much you would need of each ingredient.

Feta Cheese
Olive Oil
Fresh Oregano
Pepperchini Peppers (there was very little of this in it)
Lemon Juice
Crushed Red Pepper

Garnish with Roasted Red Peppers

Bravo! served the dip very warm so I would suggest once you mix your ingredients popping it in the oven for 15-30 minutes on 350 degrees. Serve with Tortilla or Pita Chips.



We consume A LOT of pasta in our house since my husband is Italian and I would love to share with you one of our favorite pasta meals. It's one of my favorite's because it's so easy to make and so yummy! It's great for when you don't have a lot of time to cook but want to avoid the trap of running out and grabbing some fast food. It only takes twenty minutes to make and requires a few ingredients. I always seem to make it after a long day at the office so my family can still enjoy a warm meal after a hectic and busy day. Enjoy!!!


1lb of Spaghetti
1lb Broccoli Florets
2 cups Olive Oil

1 tsp Garlic Salt
1 tbsp Fresh garlic or Dried minced garlic
1 cup Kraft Parmesan cheese (Optional)

I use a deep dish pan when preparing this meal. This pan is my go to pan for almost all of my meals. It is also great for sauteing chicken in. I would be lost without it in my kitchen!

Pour the olive oil into the pan.

Turn your stove top on to simmer to warm the olive oil ever so slightly. You don't want it to get too warm where it starts popping or sizzling. Add the salt and the garlic. The last time I made this meal, I actually didn't have any fresh garlic or minced garlic so I added a little of Pampered Chef's Garlic Garlic. So if you have this in your pantry, it also works with this meal!

While the oil, garlic, and salt are warming, cook your pasta and broccoli.

I normally will just microwave the broccoli in a glass bowl until it is no longer firm. Add the broccoli to your pan of oil and stir, fully coating the broccoli with the olive oil mixture. Let the broccoli simmer in the oil for a few minutes and then stir in the pasta.

Fully coat the pasta in the oil and broccoli mixture. You can add more oil if necessary. Add more garlic if you like. I am a garlic girl so I usually add a lot. Jeff doesn't like the added garlic I will usually serve his up first and then just add extra garlic to my bowl. You can also toss in some Kraft Parmesan cheese before serving too. Enjoy!!!!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Sunburst Mirror

Jeff hung up my TJMaxx Homegoods find of the year, the Sunburst Mirror! I have been looking for a sunburst mirror for over the living room couch for as long as we lived in the house. You can imagine my excitement when I saw that our local TJMaxx Homegoods had three of them in their wall decor section a few weeks ago!!!!

To complete the living room, I just ordered the Avington coffee table from Target. We bought the Avington end tables before Jillian arrived and I recently decided that the living room really did need the matching coffee table to look more finished. I can't wait for it to come in!!! FYI...The Avington collection is on sale this week at Target along with free shipping!!!!

I can't wait for it to come in!!! FYI...The Avington collection is on sale this week at Target along with free shipping on orders $50 or more at Target.com!!!!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A Little Bit of Everything

I feel like somebody pushed the paused button on life while we were trying to survive life with Jillian's chronic ear infections. It's been two weeks since Jillian received her ear tubes and we finally feel like we are getting back on track. I wanted to write a quick post to pretty much wrap up a lot of loose ends that we have been dealing with lately and provide a few updates on what has been going on with us.
  • First of all, Cleveland received it's first snow this weekend!!!! Where did this come from? I am so not ready for this! Wasn't it just August? It's amazing how time just keeps zipping on by. I haven't even set a date yet for Jillian's first birthday party, I really need to get moving on that! In honor of said snowfall, Mix 106.5 here in Cleveland kicked off it's non-stop Christmas music which will play through Christmas. I have actually been enjoying listening to Christmas music this week even though the weather has returned to sunny and fifties all week.
  • Even though time is flying by, I feel like I wrote this post YEARS ago. I finally decided that Sunday would be my last day to nurse Jillian. The decision had been a long time coming. I wanted to do it right around the time I wrote that post and was trying to talk myself into it, however once Jillian's ear infections wouldn't clear up, it was one of the only things that would get Jillian back to sleep at night. Just the thought of my last feeding with Jillian would make my stomach hurt and I would get tears in my eyes. I don't know why I was having such a hard time with this. But I knew I had to do it. I only nursed her once every other day and sometimes at night if necessary. I was producing just enough milk to mix with her rice cereal, barely enough for full bottles anymore. So Sunday morning when Jillian woke up, I nursed her for the last time. It was so hard, I felt badly for her too because I knew how much she enjoyed our time together too. However, I am done and now enjoying life breast pump free! I do have one final hurdle to jump through in this breast feeding journey. It's trying to deal with the girls drying up! Oh. My. Lord. I am in some serious pain! If anyone has some home remedies on how to make this transition any easier, I would love to hear them. I can barely move and I am pretty much stuck sleeping flat on my back all night since trying to sleep on my side is impossible.
  • I had my last HcG blood test on Monday. The nurse called today and my HcG results are back to zero. I am no longer technically pregnant. All we have to do is wait one cycle and we have the green light to start trying. Now that we know we are able to get pregnant on our own, we are going to aggressively start trying for Baby #2! I hope we are blessed again soon. Since the miscarriage, I now find myself feeling those familiar twinges of sadness again when I hear pregnancy announcements. It just saddens me knowing that I could of had another sweet baby in June already.
  • Can you believe that Jillian already has another double ear infection? While I was at the MOPS meeting yesterday, I went downstairs to check on Jillian and was surprised to find her crying hysterically. So unlike her. I felt horrible. So I scooped her up as one of the women explained that she noticed a lot of ear drainage coming out of her right ear. Sure enough, Jillian's ear was coated in a waxy, crusty goop. Jeff, Jillian, and I have all been battling colds so I am sure that triggered an ear infection. Now that Jillian has tubes, dealing with an ear infection is now easy peasy! I ran up to CVS and filled the prescription for antibiotic ear drops that the ENT wrote after her surgery. No more oral antibiotics, no more visits to the pediatrician. All we have to is administer 5 drops in each ear for several days and she will be as good as new!!! Jillian was very cranky yesterday and not quite herself, however, she seemed to be in a better mood already today. She also slept great last night. I was a little nervous because I wasn't sure on what to expect for her first ear infection post-tubes, but she was great! Not one peep last night.
  • Sleep training is still going very well. I would no longer call it sleep training, it's now a part of every day life. She still cries as soon as I put her down in her crib at night but she is normally asleep in five minutes. Sleep training has been such a great thing for our whole family. Jillian is now going to bed every night at 8:30pm and without any night awakenings. If I hear Jillian get up, I will just watch her on the monitor for a few minutes as she changes positions or searches for her paci, and then I fall back to sleep knowing that she is OK. It's been wonderful!!!!
So what have we learned these past few months? Ear tubes + Sleep training = The Promise Land!!!!!

Monday, November 08, 2010

Crying It Out: Nights 5 and Naptime

You know how much I hate blog posts without pictures so here is another picture of me and my sweet kitty on Halloween night. I am sure this is much more pleasant than more picture of her crying!!!!

Night #5 of our 'Crying It Out' week was by far the easiest. We put Jillian to bed promptly at 8:30pm after her bath, bottle, and book. She cried for around ten minutes and quickly went to sleep. She only watched the door for a few minutes that night and mostly just laid down after a few minutes of crying. I feel badly that she still continues to cry, even if it is only for a few minutes. I imagine one of thees nights she will no longer cry? My dream is for me to put her down one night and she just rolls over and goes to bed!!! Let's hope that is only a few days away.

Jillian briefly woke up that night around 5am and fussed a bit but never really had a full blown cry. To be honest, I barely remember it! I too am getting used to not waking up and getting out of bed at night so I am starting to sleep more through these brief night awakenings. I remember looking at the monitor just to see if she was OK and she must have quieted down shortly after that because I can not recall much else!!!! Things are going very well and Jeff and I are really starting to get some sleep this weekend! I also feel like Jillian is also much happier and a more rested child. One thing I have noticed is that she now wakes up around her normal 7:30am wake up time crying where she used to wake up happy. I think that she is probably now worried that we aren't going to come get her so now she cries when she wakes up for good. I am hoping she will figure it out that when it's time for her to get up, we will go in and get her.


We initially decided not to let Jillian 'Cry It Out' for nap time until we made some head way on her bedtime and night awakenings. I also didn't want to start 'Cry It Out' at nap time with daycare smack in the middle of it so we decided to hold off and try it on Friday which is my day off. This way she can be sleep trained for naps from Friday to Tuesday which is a total of five days of good solid nap training. Since Jeff was at work on Friday, I had to attempt this on my own. Jillian will typically be ready for a nap around 3-4 hours after she has been awake in the morning. I waited until I knew she was good and tired, I didn't want to lay her down for a nap if she wasn't some what sleepy. While she and I were playing together in our Great Room, Jillian put her head down on my lap for a few moments. It was so sweet and also a first with her. This child NEVER wants to show you that she is tired, she constantly fights it. So this sign of tiredness was a huge win for us. Perhaps sleep training is letting her know that it's OK to be tired??? Who knows, but I am really hoping so! I picked her up and walked her upstairs into her room. Again she put her head on my shoulder, wanting me to hold her like I normally would. My heart melted but I told myself I had to be strong. It was SO tempting just to sit down in her chair and cuddle with her until she fell asleep. After a few more minutes, I placed her down in her crib. She didn't even hit the mattress before she looked at me with the "why are you doing this to me?" look. She then started crying, one of those cries that is so deep that her face turned red, her mouth was wide open, but nothing came out. How horrible did I feel!!! But I had to be strong because this is the whole reason why she needs sleep training for naps. She acts like you are torturing her by just putting her down to sleep!!! We can no longer continue to play this game with her. So I left her room and went downstairs to wash the dishes. I was hoping by doing something productive would distract me a bit from her sobs. I put the monitor on the counter next to me and would periodically check on her. I was shocked to see that she was quiet and asleep after only ten minutes! I thought for sure I had a good thirty minutes of listening to her cry ahead of me. The sleep training at night certainly helped in getting her to sleep a lot quicker for nap time. She slept for a good two hours and woke up a happy girl. I put her down again the same way for her afternoon nap as well. More tears, more mean looks for Mommy, but again, she was asleep in ten minutes. What progress!! I no longer had to spend 30 minutes holding her to get her asleep for nap time.

This pretty much wraps up my series of posts on 'Crying It Out'. We are starting night #7 tonight and everything so far seems to be consistent behavior with night #5. I will probably periodically update you in combination with other posts but feel that we are on our way of having a good sleeper on our hands. I am sure it will take a few more days of her initially crying in protest of bedtime/nap time but I feel pretty good that she will grow out of this too. Please leave me a comment or send me an email if you ever have any sleep training questions, I would love to share our experience with you. Hope you all had a great weekend!

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Crying It Out: Nights 3 & 4

I thought I would combine nights #3 and #4 since each night is gradually becoming less and less eventful.
Just to summarize, night #2 of 'Crying It Out' was a significant improvement over night #1, especially with the night awakening. Night #3 was also an improvement in comparison to night #2. We started Jillian's bed time routine at 7:45pm, the same as we had the past two nights. I was a little nervous for night #3 because I had to put her to sleep myself. Jeff has hockey on Wednesday nights so he had to leave right after bath time. I fed Jillian a bottle, read her a book, and them promptly put her to sleep at 8:30pm. She cried for about fifteen minutes and then finally fell asleep. I noticed that she didn't try to watch for us by the door as much as she had the past two nights. She seemed to be laying down more a lot more that night. There were no tantrums and no hysterical cries. Thankfully Jillian had pity on her Mommy she didn't wake up the rest of the time that Jeff was at hockey. I was actually able to enjoy a little HGTV and caught up on some blogging. It was a great evening spent alone having some "Mommy" time.
That night, Jillian woke up promptly at 1:30am and only cried for a half hour. Jeff didn't even have to go into her room for a visit, a lot of her crying was mostly some fussing along with a lot of tossing and turning. She then finally fell back asleep. The night awakenings is where we are seeing the biggest improvement. What a difference from being awake on and off for over three straight hours on night #1 to only thirty minutes of crying by night #3. I noticed that my body was still getting up a few times a night as it did these past few months. I too need to train myself to go back to sleep and stay asleep. It seems like I wake up a lot at night just because I too am conditioned.

Jeff was back home for night #4 and it was his turn to give Jillian a bottle and read her a book. She fell asleep again after 15 minutes of crying. I still felt horrible even after fours days of this but her constant improvement each night kept us going. After Jeff put her to bed, we resumed our positions on the couch as we had each night and tried to distract ourselves by watching our recorded shows on the DVR. I can't say enough how having Jeff there with me really did make such a difference.
Jillian's night awakening on night #4 was at 12:35am. An hour earlier than her usual wake up time. Her crying only lasted 15 minutes and I felt that I wasn't as wide awake myself for it as I had been the last four nights. When I woke up the next morning, I recalled waking up and watching her for a few minutes on the monitor but never fully woke up. Perhaps my own schedule was starting to turn itself around and I was getting used to better sleep.

I received a question in my Night #2 post asking me if I would have done this sooner if given the chance. My answer is yes. I know 'Crying It Out' is usually recommended in most sleep books around six months, however, I know so many Moms who have successfully tried it sooner. A lot of my co-workers and working friends, including my sister, have tried it around four months, which is around the time that a typical maternity leave is over with. They decided to try it so they could get more sleep when returning back to work. Jillian was never a good sleeper, she didn't start sleeping through the night until eight months. It seemed like as soon as she did finally start to consistently sleep through the night, her ear infections started to interfere with any progress that we made. Jillian also would not go to sleep at bedtime without falling asleep to a bottle. If she didn't fall asleep after her bed time bottle, it was a constant struggle of both Jeff and I taking turns trying to get her to sleep. If we put her in her crib even remotely awake, she would cry in protest. We either had to rock her or walk around with her for 30-60 minutes each night. Naps were also a struggle for us too. She wouldn't nap in her crib until finally around four months and when she did, I would have to find a way to get her to sleep before I laid her down. There was a brief period where I was able to "trick" Jillian into taking a nap by putting her in her crib with a few toys and she would eventually lay down and fall asleep, however, once her ear infection troubles started, she would ONLY go down for a nap with me holding her. On day #5 of crying it out, I decided to let Jillian cry it out with naps too. I will get more into that in my Night #5 post.
Looking back, I would have loved to have started 'Cry It Out' around six months. Babies around six months no longer need to get up at night to feed, they are getting their necessary nutrition during the day. Night awakenings after six months are now more out of habit than a nutritional necessity. Now that Jillian is ten months, she is old enough to throw tantrums and angrily throw herself around in her crib. She also now sits up and kneels in her crib. I think seeing her react the way she did by constantly sitting up and kneeling along the railings and crying just stressed us out more. We were afraid she was going to hurt herself! At least at six months, she wasn't sitting and would only have been able to roll around in a laying position. Now that we have been through this, if we are having any kind of sleep troubles with our next baby, he or she will have to go through it a lot earlier than Jillian did.
Thank you for all of your questions and supportive comments! It sounds like so many of you have also dealt with sleep issues with your babies. I know 'Crying It Out' isn't for everybody, but I am glad that I am able to share our experience. We are not out of the woods yet but we are certainly enjoying more sleep at our house!!!!

Crying It Out: Night Two

After our very exhausting Night #1 of crying it out with Jillian, I was more determined than ever to keep this up. After being awake for over three hours on Night #1, I knew there were definitely some issues there. She was so used to getting up with me at night, that it was obviously that she would continue to do so even though her ears were fine. She definitely needed some parental intervention.

We repeated the exact same routine as we did for Night #1. I wanted to be sure that we were consistent with absolutely everything. Jeff and I both gave her a bath, however, it was Jeff's turn to give her the bottle and read her a book. We were alternating nights of putting Jillian to bed so she wouldn't think either parent was "the bad guy".

At 8:30pm, Jeff put Jillian to bed. The one difference I noticed right away is that there were no more tantrums. She cried a little in the beginning, however, her cries turned to just a lot of fussing and whimpering shortly after that. She still sat as close as she could to the door and pulled herself up into a kneeling position to watch the door of her room in hopes of one of us coming in to rescue her. You could see her trying to fall asleep against the crib pad again, she would try anything but to lay down. This girl could certainly fight sleep with the best of them! After a few more minutes, she was so tired that she eventually gave up and laid down. Her cries and fussing lasted only a total of twenty minutes tonight.
Jillian woke up around 1:30am that night, pretty much right on schedule. Jeff went into her room twice just to check in on her and to reassure her that everything was going to be OK. He didn't pick her up. We decided that I wasn't going to make any night time visits because we didn't want Jillian to think I was coming in to nurse her. The entire night awakening lasted for an hour and half. Listening to Jillian cry for that long was hard, however compared to the three hou awakening the nigt before, it was a lot easier to take. Especially being able to stay in bed and not have to continuously rock her for several hours. Of course the whole night was emotionally exhausting on both Jeff and I but we could already see the progress that we were making.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Crying It Out: Night One

On Monday night, Jeff and I ran out of excuses to why we shouldn't start sleep training Jillian. We had just received a glowing report from Jillian's ENT that morning and knew that her ears had never been better. The time to let her 'Cry It Out' was now.

Jeff and I gave each other pep talks all day that we were finally going to do it. Tonight was the night. The moment that we were going to give our daughter the gift of sleep. I had read several books on sleep training and felt about as confident as I could on the subject. In addition to reading sleep training books, the key to feeling good about beginning a sleep training program is to also talk to other Mom's about their sleep training experiences. I spoke to my Mom, my sister, co-workers, friends, and other Mommy bloggers. I asked them hundreds of questions. And you know what? Every Mom I spoke to had a success story to share. Not one said sleep training didn't work for them. Every one of them told me to be strong and stick with it. The end result far outweighs just a few nights of crying. "Just keep your eye on the prize" I was told.
Feeling confidant about our decision to start sleep training, we decided to follow the method best explained in the book "Sleeping Through the Night" by Jodi A. Mindell, PhD. I felt that out of all the books I had read, this 'Cry It Out' method was the "kindest" of them all.

Her 'Cry It Out' method follows these four steps:

  • Step 1 - Set Bedtime: Your baby needs to go to bed at the same time every night. It's important to set your baby's internal clock so that their body is accustomed to falling asleep at the exact same time every night. Baby's relish routine.

  • Step 2 - Establish a Bedtime Routine: A set bedtime routine is essential to your baby's being able to fall asleep easily and quickly. It helps your baby get sleepy and transition from daytime to nighttime. Jeff and I decided that we were going to consistently follow the 3 B's. Bath, Bottle, Book for our bedtime routine.

  • Step 3 - Bedroom Environment: You need to make sure that your baby's bedroom is the same all the time when he is sleeping. Eliminate all negative sleep associations. If you baby falls asleep to a sound machine, then it should continue to play throughout the night.

  • Step 4 - Put down Awake: Now is the time to teach your child to fall asleep on his own. This step is obviously the hardest!!!! After your baby's sleep routine is done, put him in his crib, say good night, and leave the room. Don't nurse him, don't stay with him, don't rock him. Here is where it will most likely get ugly. There will be crying, screaming, kicking, tantrums, etc. Wait a few minutes and then decide when you think it is best to go back in for a quick visit. When you do decide to visit, tell them it is OK and that it is time for sleep. Don't pick him up, or cuddle. Be gentle but firm. Stay no longer than one minute. Make your stay very brief and uneventful. You don't want to do anything to reinforce your baby's crying. Leave the room. Wait again. And then check again in a few minutes if you feel you need to. The longer you wait between visits though only makes things easier for both of you. This step obviously will take awhile. Eventually your baby will fall asleep. The first night takes roughly 45 minutes for your baby to stop crying and fall asleep.

In regards to night awakenings during sleep training, Jodi's method recommends that you treat any night awakenings as you normally would. She explains that after going through sleep training, your baby should no longer wake up at night after two weeks. This new bedtime routine will remove all negative sleep associations and your baby will no longer have any reason to wake up in the middle of the night. After our first night of sleep training, I no longer agree with this recommendation and will explain why later.

Here is how our first night of sleep training went:

Jeff and I decided to set 8:30pm as Jillian's bedtime. She typically would fall asleep between 8pm and 9pm so 8:30pm seemed like a great time to aim for. At 7:45pm we took Jillian upstairs, gave her a bath, fed her a 6 ounce bottle, and then read her a book. We were worried that she may try to fall asleep while drinking her bottle. She was so used to falling asleep that way so we were worried that she would still negatively associate this step as a signal to fall asleep. She closed her eyes a few times but that was about it. For once in her short life, we didn't want her to fall asleep with a bottle in mouth! After she finished her bottle, I read her favorite book, "The Ten Little Ladybugs." I kept glancing over at the clock and grew very nervous as it inched closer and closer to 8:30pm. Oh my God, we were really going to do this! So I gave Jillian a huge hug and a kiss. I told her how much I loved her. I then placed her in her crib. Before she even hit the mattress, she started to cry and kick her legs. Just a reminder that we really needed to do this, just the thought of laying down in her crib and not in my arms freaked her out! I patted her head and made sure that I spoke the words "It's time for sleep Jillian." Not really sure if she understood what I said or not,but I wanted to be consistent. I then turned on her sound machine, switched off her lamp, and shut her bedroom door. She started wailing!!! I quickly ran down the stairs with our video monitor and joined Jeff on the couch. We just sat there and watched her flail about on the monitor. She crawled over to the corner of her crib. We couldn't believe it, she was trying to pull herself up in her crib into a kneeling position. And then she did it! Several times actually and then she would throw herself backwards onto her crib mattress in a raging fit. A complete tantrum ensued. Jeff and I just watched in horror and in fascination at the same time. We actually started laughing at her reaction. We couldn't believe what a fit our baby was throwing. After 15 minutes of said temper tantrum, she calmed down a little bit, but then started wailing again. Jeff decided it was a good time to make his first visit into her room just to let her know that everything was OK. He didn't pick her up, only spoke to her briefly, telling her she was a good girl and needed to go to sleep. He left the room again and she quickly crawled over to the edge of her crib, pulling herself up again into a kneeling position, watching him leave the room. She pretty much stayed in that kneeling position until she laid down and fell asleep. I would say that Jillian cried for 30 minutes straight and then only fussed and whimpered for another 15 before completely falling asleep. Exactly as the book had predicted, around 45 minutes. One of my co-workers told me that her daughter cried for an hour and a half for their first night of sleep training so it does vary. To be honest, the first night was not that bad. I had psyched myself up for a lot of crying myself and it didn't happen. Having Jeff there with me as my partner in crime really made all the difference. It was great knowing we were in it together, working towards a common goal.

The night awakening is where it got REALLY ugly. A very unhappy Jillian woke up at 2am as she had been for the past several weeks. I tried to follow what the book said and to treat the night wakening as normal. So I did. I rocked Jillian back to sleep in her room and she fell asleep around 2:30am. I was so excited that it didn't take that long to get her back to sleep. I crawled back into bed and went to sleep. At 3:30am, Jillian woke up again! I couldn't believe it. So back into room I went, completed frustrated and exhausted. I tried everything to get her back to sleep again. I held her, rocked her, and in a moment of desperation, nursed her. Several times I thought she was asleep, however as soon as I tried to place her back into her crib, her eyes would spring open and she would cry. Ugh!!! By 5:30am, I had enough. Jeff walked into Jillian's room, obviously woken up by all of Jillian's sleep protests. We both agreed to screw what the book said about night awakenings, we decided to let her cry it out again. Being awake from 2am to 5:30am was not good for anyone. So we kissed Jillian good night and let her cry it out again. She was sound asleep in ten minutes. How could she not? She was completed exhausted too. Because of our crazy night, she didn't wake up again until 9:30am. Thank the Lord Tuesday is my day off and I was able to sleep until 9:30am too. And you know what? Jillian was all smiles in the morning. She still loved me!