Every Night's and All-Nighter When You're a Parent

In the past three years, the hubs and I have enjoyed about ten nights of uninterrupted sleep. That’s about 1,085 un-enjoyable days. I’m surprised dark, saggy bulges aren’t permanently tattooed under my eyes.

Mornings after five-hour stretches feel like we’ve endlessly dozed on clouds. Best. Nights. Sleep. Ever. Sleeping in means 8 a.m. And, Jack sneaking between us at 5 a.m., instead of midnight, is a “great night.”

I’m not sure how we got so lucky. Having two kids who find it fun to wake up all night. Jack was horrible right out of the gate. I clearly remember the first weeks of his life. Pleading to God to help him stay asleep. Hearing his grunts and tiny hiccup cries every hour. Unable to open my eyes. Rocking him for hours.

We had a very specific bedtime routine. Still do. Let him sleep with us. Cry it out (see my previous post on that here). You name it, we tried it. It was never going to sleep that was the issue. It was staying asleep. Now almost three, Jack usually wakes up once a night. And, normally ends up in our bed. But, not without a few humorous sleep conversations. 

Now Ella? She’s the sassy, unpredictable one. When she was four weeks old, we gushed about her consistent five-to-six hour stretches. Would wake up to quickly nurse, then instantly fell back asleep for another five hours.

At four months, it was easy to wean her of night feedings. Two nights of a couple extra snuggles and she kicked the habit.  But a few weeks later, she found her voice. And, discovered we came to it.

Now almost eight months old, Ella owns the night. It’s like playing cards. Never sure of the hand we’ll be dealt. Goes to bed around 8 or 9 p.m. Never ever fusses. And, usually can’t even finish her bottle. (For the recommended amount of sleep your baby should have by age, click here).

Sometimes she’ll barely wake once. Just for the missing pacifier. But, those nights are becoming scarcer. Normally, she’s up for an hour sometime between 2 and 4 a.m. Grinning and batting my face. Seriously. Last night, she squealed and elbowed as I forced her into the sleep position in my arms. She was mad. Mad! And, that was after a half-hour of Justin rocking and rocking and rocking.

If she’s not up for one solid hour, she’s waking up every two to three. Shove in the pacifier. Or rock for a few seconds. She’s good for another two to three.

Ella’s unusual sleep patterns and Jack’s sleep talking and midnight snuggles are the perfect recipe for auto-parents. With some edge of course.We're lucky to get a solid hour these days. It's always one or the other. Never both at one time.

Last nights party with Ella made me realize something. It’s time for some new sleep training. And, I had just read an article in Parenting Magazine about a new book written by a pediatrician that doesn’t involve Cry It Out. The Happiest Baby Guide to Great Sleep is written by Harvey Karp, M.D., who also wrote The Happiest Toddler on the Block.  And, it addresses kids up to five years. Maybe I can kill two birds with one book?

So, sorry Ella. Maybe you should leave the sass at your door and get some shuteye. 


Unjunking Junk Food. It's Unreal.

I could live off chocolate. And the days I forget to pack my lunch for work, I do. We stopped buying chocolate candy because it’s gone within hours. I just can’t resist. We’ve since stopped buying anything sweet. Our almost three-year-old can’t withstand treats. Mainly Skittles and Taffy. But, his eyes get all gooey, face in a smirk, when we mention chocolate. “Mommy’s medicine,” Jack grins.

So, when I heard of Healthy Child, Healthy World’s partnership with UNREAL Candy, I had to try. Again, I just can’t resist. And this was taking my addiction to an entire new level. An “unjunked” level. UNREAL sent us a sample pack. A large pack. And, it was gone so quickly my husband accused me of sleep walking and devouring the treats in one frenzy.
Jack super pumped to try UNREAL's 54, similar to peanut M & M's
UNREAL has created “unjunked” candy. Meaning the goods contain no artificial flavors, preservatives or hormones, no genetically modified organisms (GMOs), no hydrogenated oils and – best of all – no corn syrup.

UNREAL uses real sugar, natural oils and real milk. It’s delish. Chocolately heaven with more cacao than leading brands. And, the peanut butter cups? Better then the alternative. Hands down freshest tasting peanut butter ever. The sweetest part is there is actually fiber in every bar. Fiber! Three to five grams in each serving. 

Also, as UNREAL says, you don’t need to travel to a fancy health food store to buy it. It’s only available where junk food is available. So, keep looking for UNREAL to fill shelves of local check out lines soon. And trust me. It’s unreal.

Now, if they could create some sweet candy to keep the little guy's satisfaction… 



Summer "Bucket" List

There are many days I find us trapped in typical. Especially as we capture the warmth of Michigan’s summer. Head to the beach. Stroll downtown. Eat icecream. Explore the backyard. Blow bubbles. And, splash in the pool.

It’s not that our regular activities aren’t fun. Just normal. And plenty of days we’ve gotten caught in the couch. Thinking of something new and exciting to do. 

I ask Jack, “What should we do today? Something really cool.”
“Play!” Jack jumps.
As if his conclusion is totally unique from all the rest.

So, with a lot of help from Pinterest and a little brainstorming from me, I created a Summer “Bucket” List (as seen on The Home Teacher blog). All the things to eat up empty days. All the spontaneous fun in one place. Science projects, yummy summer treats, indoor activities, everything I want to do with the kids. But can never remember when there’s time to do them. 

Here’s how it goes:

The bucket: I purchased two tin pails from Target’s dollar bins. One pail to choose activities from. One for extra sticks and sharpie for additions to the list. I also place the completed in here to, so we’re not repeating activities.

The list: I found a bag full of colored Popsicle sticks from Michael’s Arts & Crafts. All our ideas are written on a colored stick by category.

Yellow: Outside
Red: Inside
Green: Places to go near home
Blue: Places to go around lower Michigan.

The fun: Jack picks a stick from the bucket whenever we have free time. Rainy day? Jack picks a red one. Free afternoon? He picks a yellow one.  Been stuck at home? Green. Family trip next weekend? Blue.

The to do’s: A few fun and inspiring things off our bucket list:

Water pinatas
Make a play garden
Kid car wash
Nature scavenger hunt
Squirt gun fight
Wash the car
Sprinkler games
Catch a bug for a day
Paper plate ring toss
Feed the birds out of hands
Create a mud pie

Sink or float game
Indoor obstacle course
Soap cloud
Paint rocks
Banana sundaes
Make bird feeders
Puppet show
Scavenger hunt
Melt crayons
Decorate cookies
ABC matt game

Make a bouquet of wildflowers
Kensington water park
Domiano Farms
Feed horses
Plant flowers
Pick fresh fruit at Spicer's Orchard
Local library garden

Visit Lake Michigan
Detroit Zoo
Water Park
Take a train ride
Potter Park Zoo
Henry Ford Museum

For the “how to’s” on some of the mentioned activities, visit my Pinterest page. But don’t forget to become a fan! 

Painting rocks


The Fish Learns to Swim

Our summer is floating away. Literally. We’ve splashed plenty of afternoons away at the lake. Fished off the dock. Ate sand at the beach. Hunted for turtles on the paddleboat. And, treaded the slippery rocks of Lake Huron.

We’re a typical lake-loving Michigan family. So our water adventures won’t stop here. We’ve got at least 56 more days of this fun.

My plan was to wait until winter to enroll Jack in swim class. He’s not even three. But, the little fish took to all things water with purpose. So we started swim classes in June.

I signed up for an eight-week class through our local community education program. Saturday mornings at the high school. Just Mommy and Jack. A pool. And, 15 other little duos braving the cold pool.

I wasn’t sure how Jack would fare. I knew he’d favor the pool part. But, I wasn’t sure if he’d soak up the techniques. Prefer the water toys. Or whine to continuously jump off the side.

He did all three.

At our first class, most tots clung to their moms’ legs. Afraid of the ocean-sized pool. Not Jack. He sheepishly griped to dive in. Instantly. I couldn’t get his Crocs off fast enough.

By class two Jack was floating and kicking with reason. Showed the instructor how he’d practiced blowing bubbles in the bathtub. Droplets tickled his eyebrows as he largely exhaled into the water. Class three, we were jumping in. Swimming – assisted – towards sharks and boats.

He now understands the techniques. But can’t connect them together. To stay afloat. Regardless, I’m proud. He listens well. Practices. And, shows classmates not to be afraid.

Eventually he’ll learn how to swim alone. His determination and enthusiasm says so. Besides, we’ve made some new local friends. A group we call “Saturday Morning Swim.” Although none of our future plans involve swimming.

Best of all, we’ve enjoyed quality time every Saturday morning. Just the two of us. Me and my little Bear. Thinking I’ll continue our ritual with another activity in the fall.

What are some of your favorite activities to do with your little ones? Do you have a favorite community education program?



Away From My Blog Preview

I’m a slacker. Blog slacker that is. Summer is washing away with fun and adventure. And I’m too busy to share it all. Sorry for that. But, I promise to fill up pages – and inspire – with some nifty things beginning next week. We’re headed north to the cabin for a week. For now, here’s a sneak peak of what’s to come. Happy Fourth all!

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