Monday, 29 September 2014

Toddler Sleep Update..or..How we got our 2 year old back on track

Remember this? When Seb just would not sleep alone? And stay awake for hours on end at various points throughout the night?

Well, at the risk of cosmically breaking the pattern, I'm happy to report we seem to have gotten his sleep routine back on track. Most nights we can count on him to sleep from 8pm-6:30 or 7am, (...knocking on wood..loudly!). I wanted to share the update and let you know what we did that seemed to help.

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, by Marc Weissbluth is our go-to sleep book. I had actually lent our copy out to a friend, but texted her something along the lines of "Remember that sleep book? I need it back asap. I have to re-read the toddler section. We're dying over here." So, here are the tips that we put into place.

1. No talking when you go into his room. This one is as easy as it sounds. No talking. Period. Even 'negative' talking (ex "It's not time to play. It's time to go to sleep.") is still attention, which is what he wants. Go in. Do what you need to do. Leave. No talking.

2. The same parent goes in every time that night. This keeps it consistent. You can switch parents on different nights, but when it's your night, it's your night. Then your little one knows a little bit more what to expect.

3. Ignore the whining. I don't remember if this was actually one of the tips from the book, but it was the philosophy we adopted. We have a video monitor, so we could see what was going on, and if he was really crying and freaking out, we absolutely went in to check on him, but the whining, we tried to have him settle that on his own.

4. Music/white noise. Seb started to really enjoy lullaby music. We use it in in the car if we need to drive somewhere during nap time, and it knocks him out quickly. So we started using our favourite white noise app again, but this time set to 'music box'. I also bought him a Lullaby Gloworm because Rob's friends were telling him their baby liked it, but Seb hasn't really warmed up to it too much.

5. Sleep rules. This was/is the best one. Directly from his book, we followed Dr. Weissbluth's suggested sleep rules. I wrote them on paper (pink..Seb's favourite), and Seb coloured the page. The sleep rules are:
At bedtime we
1. Lay down
2. Close our eyes
3. Stay very quiet
4. Go to sleep
(Seb is still in a crib we modified the first sleep rule. Instead of lay down, you can say "stay in bed".)

Then I made a second page called "Sebastian's Sleep Stickers". Before bed each night, after storytime we'd read the sleep rules together. In the morning, if he had a good night, he got a sleep sticker for his sheet. Seb LOVES his sleep stickers. He asks for them every morning. And look at all of the sleep stickers he has this month! If he ever does have a bad night and ask for a sleep sticker, we just say, "Not today. We can try again tomorrow." You can also do the sleep stickers after nap as well for consistency if you like. We don't do that regularly, because naps don't seem to be a problem.

In addition to the sleep stickers, you can also have a motivating reward. Seb likes things like yogurt raisins or fruit gummies, so he gets one or two with his sleep sticker on good mornings.

Maybe it was a phase and all of our antics had nothing to do with it. More than likely getting back into a nice daily routine after the business of the summer helped significantly. Nonetheless, these 5 tips, along with a few bottles of wine, helped us get back on track. Hope they help if you need them too! And thank you so much to everyone who commented earlier with their encouraging words! #miserylovescompany :)


Monday, 15 September 2014

Learn How to take Better Pictures with your Phone

A few weeks ago, I started playing with my photography skills. You may have noticed if you've been following me on instagram lately. During the last half of August, I registered for the SnapShop Phone Course by Ashley Ann Photography/Under the Sycamore.

Before this course, I knew next to nothing about photography. One of my sorority sisters did a quick workshop with us a few years back to try and teach us what all of those functions on our cameras meant, but I didn't really retain much of it unfortunately. (Which was entirely the fault of the student, not the teacher. My friend S, who shared her tips, takes amazing photographs.)

Plus, I now take pictures almost exclusively with my phone. When I'm out with Seb, I don't carry our other camera around (which I'm pretty sure is damaged a little anyways), and I find my iPhone can usually take pretty decent pictures. So, while I could do the point and shoot thing to capture whatever I'm taking a picture of, I wanted to learn more about how to take my pictures from ordinary to interesting. Ashley describes the course as "written in a personal and conversational way, this course contains all my thoughts and approaches to capturing life with a phone camera." One look through her instagram feed had me drooling. I can learn to take pictures like this on my phone??? Sign me up!

While I'm not at that level yet by any means, I do think I was able to apply her suggestions and snap a few "interesting" pictures while I was practising in the summer.

Playing with sunstreaks

Practising lines and rule of thirds


  Trying new tips for indoor pictures and angles

The course is entirely online through her blog and via instagram. It's module-based, so you can work through it at your own pace within the 3 week window the course is open. Ashley provides her students with a hashtag to use so they can all see each other's pictures on instagram and leave each other comments/feedback. 

I love the specific practice ideas and prompts provided, so it's quick and easy to start practising her tips right away. As I mentioned before, I had no previous photography knowledge, and I really felt I gained so much from her course. She easily explained the basics of photography and how to use my phone to capture everyday moments in a practical and realistic way. She also shared a ton of her own photos as examples so we had lots of guidance and ideas of what we were working towards. Past students can keep following the course on instagram to get new prompt ideas after their course time has ended.

What I also appreciated was this was not an app-heavy course. She did get into editing with apps a bit, but the course doesn't push a number of expensive phone apps, so you could fully participate without spending more.

So that's my newest hobby! Photography :) I'm enjoying it and look forward to playing around with all of the tips and tricks I learned in the SnapShop Phone Course.


Monday, 1 September 2014

Baby Shower Brunch #pinterestforthewin

Last week my cousin and I hosted a baby shower for a friend. Our theme was Baby Shower Brunch (hey...we had to be finished the shower by nap time) and were expecting about 20 women to attend. For brunch we set up a waffle bar and served them with salad, parfaits, and the yummiest chocolate caramel cheesecake pops.

To save time in the morning, I made the waffles ahead of time and froze them. Then I just heated them in the oven for 10 mins when the guests arrived.

Pretty much all of the ideas I had for the shower I found on Pinterest. Here's my whole Baby Shower Brunch Pinterest Board.  This is the link for my specific waffle bar inspiration. My table wasn't large enough to label every item on it, so I liked this way of labeling the steps instead.

Waffle Bar
Step 1 - Grab a waffle
Step 2 - Choose a spread
Step 3 - Add some fruit
Step 4 - Pour on the toppings
Step 5 - Eat and Enjoy!

Do you see the fork and knife? They look totally real right? I discovered silver plastic utensils this summer, and I couldn't wait to use them again. I think they add just a bit of extra withitness to your event. I've heard you can get them at Costco, but I found mine at a dollar store.

My cousin organized a baby food tasting game, which I surprisingly sucked at, and another fun game where you had to match the time of gestation in days to different animals. Yeah, African Elephants have an average gestation of 645 days, so when you're 36 weeks along and totally over being pregnant, just be glad you're not an African Elephant, though you may feel like one ;)

Throughout the shower, I encouraged guests to write little messages to the new mama-to-be on diapers and then sent them all home with her at the end.

And, finally, because it was a brunch, I though the perfect favours would be little whiskey bottles filled with maple syrup. I ordered them from the Etsy store Temples Treats, and they don't seem to be available anymore but here is something very similar. I then used baker's twine and blank tags to write a little thank you note to the guests.

And that was it! We had fun, and I know it was a special day for our new mama friend.


Related - Baby Shower Gift Idea: Mama's Medicine Cabinet