Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Our First Friendsgiving

It was the morning of Sunday, November 15, 2015. Victor, Max, and I were eating breakfast and browsing through the ads in the Sunday paper when Victor randomly stated, "We should have a Friendsgiving next weekend." After a quick consultation with our calendar, we settled on Sunday, November 22. Texts were sent, attendees were confirmed, and a menu was created. I honestly can't believe how quickly it all came together!

Over the course of the following week, I was doing my research on common Thanksgiving fare and searching for fun recipes. Our get-together turned itself into a potluck of sorts, as our guests immediately offered to bring certain dishes to share. Since we were hosting, I offered to make the turkey and gravy, as well as the Crockpot mac 'n cheese I had made for a football party months earlier that got rave reviews. 

While I didn't hesitate to volunteer to make the turkey, I was still super nervous because I'd never cooked such a large bird before. I attempted to do a whole roasted chicken years ago and it turned out terribly, so I've been a little gun-shy with anything in the realm since. But gosh darn it, I'm almost 31 years old, a soon-to-be mother of two, and I like to consider myself a little Suzy Homemaker--it's about time I learned to roast a turkey!

Armed with some advice from my mom, a recipe I happened upon in my November issue of All Recipes magazine, and a 19 lb. Butterball turkey from Target (they had the best deal at 99 cents a pound!), I was ready to tempt fate.

Long story short, the turkey turned out beautifully and deliciously. Everyone else's dishes were equally scrumptious. We had turkey, gravy, mac 'n cheese, stuffing, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, rolls, cranberry sauce, and a ham. There were plenty of leftovers, and I thought ahead and used some coupons to buy some Ziploc brand food storage containers so people could easily take some home. For dessert, we noshed on pumpkin pie, pumpkin roll, and apple pie. We had a gaggle of toddlers and babies running/crawling around our basement, and Max cried every time one of his friends left. We all had a great time and we're looking forward to making this a yearly tradition!

Here are some photos from our gathering. The lighting isn't the best in our basement, and these are all iPhone photos, so please forgive the quality!

I only take credit for the turkey, gravy, mac 'n cheese (not pictured) and salad (also not pictured).

My pride and joy! According to my MIL, this is how Martha Stewart carves her turkeys!

They wouldn't stop hugging each other! 
...or high-fiving!
Plenty to play with!

Have you celebrated "Friendsgiving" with your "framily?" We've been rolling with this crew for about 8 years now, and we've celebrated each couple's wedding and the birth(s) of each family's child(ren). It's amazing how much can change in just a few short years!

I'll be taking a break from blogging for the rest of the week so I can focus on enjoying the holiday with my family in Ohio! Have a joyful Thanksgiving with those you love most, and we'll see you next week!

Don't forget to comment on this giveaway post to be entered to win a copy of A December to Remember by Dave Barnes!

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Oh baby! Round Two | How we told our people

Y'all, I feel like this pregnancy is d r a g g i n g. Seriously. We announced our pregnancy to the world just a few days shy of two weeks ago, but it feels like it was two months ago. Every day I ask myself how far along I am, and after some date crunching I realize I'm still only 13 weeks and some change. Whaaaattt?! 

In pregnancy's defense, I've never been good at waiting. This makes the early weeks of pregnancy crawl by at a snail's pace. Both with Max and with this pregnancy, we waited until after our first prenatal appointment to tell our families. Call me overly cautious, but I wanted to be sure there was actually something growing in there before we told people about it. That meant we had to wait close to 5 weeks from the time we found out we were expecting before we spilled the beans to anyone. Keeping a secret for that long from some of the most important people in your life is tough business!

I had my 8 week prenatal appointment with my obstetrician on Thursday, October 15. Victor's mom came to watch Max while I went to the doctor. I had a pretty wicked cough at the time, so it didn't raise any red flags with my mother-in-law that I had a doctor's appointment. Then my mom and sister came to visit the next day, and Victor and I planned to tell them all when we were all together for dinner that Sunday night. 

My original plan for announcing this pregnancy was to have Max wander out into the kitchen wearing a "Big Brother" t-shirt. I had seen them everywhere, so I was sure I'd be able to find one; but, being the superstitious gal that I am, I didn't want to buy one before my 8-week appointment (can't jinx it, folks). That gave me only a day and a half to find a shirt before my mom and sister came. And of course, I couldn't find one. Carter's had one available online, so that was out of the question since it wouldn't get here in time. At Kohl's, I was able to find little onesies that said "I love my brother" and "I love my sister," so I grabbed those out of desperation, thinking I could have Max walk out carrying both of them. 

On Sunday morning, my mom, sister, and I went to Target, and I did some sneaky searching to see if a Big Brother (or any kind of "brother") shirt had miraculously appeared since I was there on Friday. No such luck, so I grabbed a 4-pack of plain white onesies, muttering something about wanting to have some for layering this winter. I was really planning to write something clever on one of them, but I still wasn't sure what. During Max's nap, my mom and sister headed to Old Navy, so I quickly wrote my message on a onesie and hid it in my nightstand. Once they got home, we got started on dinner preparations.

The whole weekend, I was worried that my mom or sister would ask me about how the baby makin' was going since they knew we had been trying for several months and that I was getting pretty frustrated. Luckily, they didn't ask...until we were making dinner on Sunday. I quickly lied that it was going OK and that I was supposed to get my next period in the next week or so, and that squashed any further questions. My heart was racing; I'm a terrible liar, and my sister can almost always tell when I'm trying to get one past them. It seemed to work this time, though!

Selfie-sticking during dinner prep, all while lying through my teeth!
Once everyone arrived for dinner, my nerves were getting the best of me, so I took Max upstairs to change him into his onesie; I didn't even tell Victor I was doing it. I just wanted to get it over with! My heart was pounding out of my chest and I was shaking like a leaf--I don't know why I was so nervous! Max and I came downstairs and I held him close to me while I announced, "Max wants to show you all his new shirt." Then I put him down and he walked toward everyone.

He had pants on when he showed everyone his shirt. This was taken right before bathtime.
The first person to say something was my sister, and she shouted, "What?! You little sh*@! You lied!!!" Everyone else caught on shortly after and there was lots of squealing, clapping, and celebrating. My original plan was to get photos/video of everyone's reaction, but I forgot; it probably would've been shaky/blurry anyway since I was such a bucket of nerves. We didn't get any photos from the dinner, actually. #fail. But people have plenty of lovely memories from that night, so I guess it's okay.

Everyone is so excited to add another baby to our brood! I'm so glad we were able to tell everyone together this time!

In case you missed:

Monday, November 23, 2015

Giveaway! | A Warm and Cozy Christmas Album

I know it's not quite Thanksgiving yet, but I've already started listening to Christmas music. If you read my post defending the "Christmas creep" a couple of weeks ago, you'll understand why I don't hesitate to spin the Christmas tunes before the Christmas season officially starts. Christmas gives me the warm-fuzzies!

I have a Christmas playlist on my iPhone, and I play it on shuffle non-stop in November/December. It's a great mix of upbeat/dance-worthy tunes and classic, snuggly songs. You can always bet I'm singing along with whichever song is playing at the moment, too. You can't squash my joy when Christmas music is playing.

Two of my very favorite albums on my playlist are by Dave Barnes. Have you heard of him? I mentioned a few of his songs in my post about choosing a first-dance wedding song earlier this year. He and I go way back; I saw Dave perform for the first time in uptown Oxford (home of Miami University, my alma mater) my junior year of college (2006) and I became an instant fan.

Fan-girling with other fan-girl pals
After I moved to Maryland, I continued to love his music and bought his new albums when they came out.  I also saw him perform live in Annapolis twice.

That's Milo, the class bear from the year I taught 2nd grade.  Yes, I took him to the concert with me.  And Dave was gracious enough to take a photo with us for Milo's Adventure Journal.

Dave is a very talented singer-songwriter from Nashville. He's released 8 albums, two of which are fantastic Christmas albums. While I prefer his own versions of his songs, it's worth noting that his song "God Gave Me You" (from his album What We Want, What We Get) was released by Blake Shelton and was nominated for a Grammy in 2012. He's also written songs for artists like Matt Wertz (whom he tours with occasionally), Tim McGraw, and Billy Currington, among others.

Dave doesn't get a lot of radio air time, from what I've noticed, but I do frequently hear his song "Little Lies" over the sound system at Home Depot (of all places!). He's a very goofy guy, too, and records some pretty silly videos. In my experience, he's performed in very small, intimate venues (like Rams Head in Annapolis, MD), which is why I have been so lucky to get photos with him.

Now that you have all the background deets, it's time to tell you about the Christmas Album giveaway! Since it's the season of giving, I am going to give away a copy of his Christmas album A December to Remember to one lucky blog reader!

I love every single song on this album. It features old favorites like "White Christmas," "It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year," and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas;" as well as original tunes like "So, Santa," "Peace on Earth," and the incredibly beautiful "When Love Was Born." If you enjoy fun and beautiful Christmas music, you are sure to love this album, so get entered!

All you have to do to enter is leave a comment stating something you love about Christmas.  You can comment here on the blog in the comments section, under the link to this post on the Little Blue Sailboat Facebook page, under the link to this post on my personal Facebook page, or send me an email at You only have to comment one way to be entered, but I have to be able to contact you afterward if you win, so don't comment anonymously!  Good luck!

Please submit your entry by midnight on the evening of Friday, December 4, 2015. I will announce the winner on Monday, December 7, 2015! Happy entering!

Friday, November 20, 2015

Oh hey, Friday | Five Reasons I Cried This Week

Pregnancy hormones are ravaging my body these days.  So much so that I cry...a lot.  Here is a sample of some of the things that have made me cry in the past 7 days:

  1. I watched Ellen each day. Seriously, that's reason enough for me to cry. Last Friday, Ellen surprised Jeannie, a member of her staff (the gal who shows up at people's houses to surprise them), with a role on Grease Live. She also showed a montage of Jeannie's various surprises, and also a clip of how she came to become a staff member. So dang sweet. And I love Jeannie. Then, on Monday, people who Ellen has helped over the years put together a thank you video for her. That woman is amazing.  I cry almost every day watching her show.  And not just little tears. Like big, fat, roll-down-the-face tears. On Thursday, she was showing a montage of her favorite "celebrity scares" from over the years. I laughed so hard, tears were rolling down my face, so that counts as a cry, too. In total, Ellen has been responsible for 3 of this week's cries.
  2. The attacks in Paris happened. I'm afraid that my kids are going to grow up in a world where this is the norm, and it scares me.
  3. I read this article on Hello Giggles and it restored my faith in humanity. We need more compassionate, genuinely kind people like this Chad fella.  On a similar note, I caught a glimpse of this photo, which has been floating around the web. An older gentleman offered to help a young man tie his necktie, and made sure the young man could do it on his own afterward. The sweetest. Here's an article about the photo and the story behind it. 
  4. Max refused to eat dinner Saturday night. Like, screamingly refused. And it was salmon. He loves salmon. He's been refusing to eat what we put in front of him a lot lately, even stuff he's loved in the past, and it's becoming incredibly frustrating. I had to leave the room to cry by myself. (I spoke to his pediatrician about it on Wednesday; apparently this is normal for this age and could last quite a while. Awesome.)
  5. I put on "Deck the Rooftop" from the Glee Christmas album in the car and Max danced nonstop to it in his carseat, then asked for "more" when the song was over.  Tears of joy welled up in my eyes as I anticipated how much fun this Christmas season is going to be with him.  

In total, I've cried 13 times this week. Some tears were happy, some were sad, some were out of frustration, and others were a result of laughing really hard. I fully expect to have more "multiple cries" weeks throughout the next 6 months of pregnancy--it's all part of the journey.

Here's to hoping that one of my cries for the next 7 days isn't because I ruined the turkey for our Friendsgiving on Sunday. I've never made a turkey before. Wish me luck!

Have a great weekend! Be sure to check back on Monday for a Christmas album giveaway!

Linking up with:
Astleigh at Hill Collection
Karli at September Farm

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Recipes That Rock | Pumpkin Roll

I have decided that I want to make "baking a pumpkin roll" a tradition in my family, likely for Thanksgiving. It's such a yummy dessert, and it is messy and fun to make--a true labor of love. I think it will be something my kids will look forward to making each year, and one day I'll pass down my favorite recipe to them.

My pumpkin roll skills are a little rusty since I've taken a 2 year hiatus from making one, so I thought I'd make one this week for our Friendsgiving on Sunday before making one with my sister for our big family Thanksgiving next week. You all reap the benefits of this practice roll since I took lots of photos so I could share the recipe with you!

I love this recipe mostly because of the cream cheese filling. I've had other pumpkin rolls that have a more cake-frosting-like filling, and they don't hold a candle to this one. The combination of sweet and tangy is simply perfection.

Pumpkin Roll


For the cake:
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup LIBBY'S 100% Pure Pumpkin
  • 1 cup walnuts, chopped (optional--I never use the walnuts)
  • 1 dish towel and powdered sugar (for rolling up the cake)
For the filling:
  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • 6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar (optional for decoration)

For cake:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Grease a 15 x 10 inch jelly roll pan and line with wax paper. Grease and flour paper. Sprinkle a thin, cotton kitchen towel with powdered sugar and set aside. Be sure to put enough powdered sugar on the towel to keep the cake from sticking (be very generous).
  2. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves, and salt in a small bowl. Beat eggs and granulated sugar in large mixer bowl until thick. Beat in pumpkin. Stir in flour mixture. Spread evenly into prepared pan.  Sprinkle with nuts, if using. 
  3. Bake for 13-15 minutes or until top of cake springs back when touched. (**If using a dark colored pan, begin checking for doneness at 11 minutes.**)  Immediately loosen and turn cake onto prepared towel. Remove wax paper. Roll up cake and towel together, starting with the narrow end. Cool completely on wire rack. 
For filling:

Beat cream cheese, 1 cup powdered sugar, butter and vanilla extract in small mixer bowl until smooth.

Once cake has cooled (about 40 minutes to an hour after rolling in towel):

Carefully unroll cake. Spread cream cheese mixture over cake. Re-roll cake and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate at least one hour. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving, if desired. Slice and enjoy!

There were no complaints from me when it came time to lick the knife...and spoon...and bowl after this step.

I'm going to have to hide this in the back of the fridge so I don't eat any more of it before Sunday.  It's so good, even Max approves...and he's been pretty picky lately!

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do!  

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

DIY Advent Calendar

I decided a few weeks ago that I want to implement an Advent calendar into our Christmas celebrations, and I've been on the hunt for some reusable DIY options. I wanted something that I could hang on the wall and use year after year, but I also wanted to be able to change it a bit each year to make it applicable to my kids and our family. I had already found and printed out some activity ideas for our Advent calendar, so I just needed to figure out the design.

During Max's naptime on Sunday, I whipped this one up using things I had lying around the house (I suppose it pays to be somewhat of a "craft product hoarder").

I used these designs as inspiration for my end product.



When I saw this last one, I knew that I would be able to create my advent calendar from start to finish before Max even woke up from his nap!  I already had everything I needed!

This was super easy to create, and even if you don't already have all of the materials on hand, you could spend as little as $15 at a craft store to get everything you needed.  Chances are you already have some stuff at home.

DIY Advent Calendar


  • large open picture frame
  • paint (I used spray paint, but you could also use acrylic paint and a brush)
  • twine, string, or wire
  • mini clothespins
  • wrapping paper, cardstock, scrapbook paper, or gift tags (the can of tags pictured is from Target, but I didn't use them for this project)
  • Not pictured: marker or pen, scissors, staple gun, decorative ribbon for hanging frame
What you'll do:
  1. Measure your frame opening to determine how you will space out your rows of twine/string/wire. You will need to have 24 items hanging on your calendar, so plan accordingly. You could also measure and cut your paper for each day at this time, if you want to be exact. The opening of my frame was 13 inches, so I marked at 1", 3", 5", 7", 9" and 11". Be sure to mark both sides of the opening.
  2. Paint your picture frame. Victor bought me this gold glitter spray paint at Home Depot a couple of years ago (it came in a set with silver glitter spray paint), and I've never used it before. I totally forgot that I had it and was originally going to use acrylic paint for the frame, but this just seemed like a better, more festive choice. 
    Isn't she a beaut?!
  3. While your frame dries, choose activities for the 24 days leading up to Christmas. I found this list and this list on Pinterest and printed them out a week or two ago, then went through and identified the ones I liked for my family. I combined some from each list to create 24 activities for my family to do in December, and I even tweaked a few to reflect some traditions we already have (i.e. instead of making gingerbread cookies, we will make our pretzel treats; instead of watching Polar Express, we will watch Mickey's Christmas Carol). I chose a mixture of service-related activities and family-oriented ones.
  4. Consult your calendar (if you're a control freak like me) and schedule activities for specific days in December. I saved certain events for weekends and reserved others for weekdays. My birthday is on the 14th, and I love looking at Christmas lights, so I assigned "see the lights at the Mormon temple" for the night of my birthday. Victor's office Christmas party is scheduled for the 18th, so we will "go to a Christmas party" on that day. 
  5. Write your activities on your designated papers. I eyeballed (meaning I didn't measure) folded sections of wrapping paper for my activities. I also printed out some cute numbers and glued them to the front of each folded piece of paper. 
  6. Once your frame is dry, staple your string/twine/wire to the back of the frame across the lines you drew on the back of your frame. My super-smart husband suggested that I just staple one continuous length all the way down the frame to help keep the lines taut (you could also use this method if you wanted more slack lengths of string). It really cut down on cutting time. 
  7. Attach your activities using your mini clothespins. 
  8. Add your ribbon and tie it to your liking to aid in hanging your frame on the wall.

An extra step I needed to complete this project was to seal the paint because the glitter was coming off (as glitter tends to do). I just painted a coat of clear Mod Podge over the glitter paint to seal it in. If you use plain acrylic paint or a non-glittery spray paint, you could skip that step.

I am so thrilled with how this turned out, and I can't wait to start this tradition this year! I already have plans to save my scraps from gift-wrapping this year to use for the activities next year! I fully anticipate changing some of the activities from year to year based on what we enjoyed, what worked logistically and what didn't, and the ages of my kids. Also, once Max gets a little older, I plan to mix the numbers up, like in the photo below, as opposed to posting them in numerical order. The former kindergarten teacher in me knows that this can help reinforce number sense.  Always learning!


Do you use an Advent calendar?  What are some of your favorite things to do in December to celebrate the holidays?

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Things I want to remember about my 18-month-old

Max is 18 months old today! I can't believe my baby is a year and a half old. In just 6 short months, he will be two...and just days away from being a big brother! It has been such a blessing to see him grow into the sweet little boy he is today. I look back at his monthly photos from his first year of life, and I find it difficult to remember the days he was a toothless, immobile, chubby-faced little baby--although the only time he was truly "little" was his first week of life; then he was in the 95th percentile or higher for weight, height, and head circumference until he turned one!

Time is flying by so fast, and I know that it is going to continue to pass at warp speed as we get closer to welcoming Max's little brother or sister to our family next spring. There are so many things I want to remember about my sweet Maximiliano at this age, so I thought I'd make a list and save it here to look back to.

What I want to remember about Max as an 18-month-old:

  • how he loves to share with people.  He willingly offers food, sips of his drink, books, toys, etc. to anyone near him.
  • how he claps for himself when he does something he's proud of, like putting something in the trash can or making a tower of Mega Blocks or dumping out all of my bobby pins.
  • how he loves to help us unload groceries, sweep floors, empty the dryer, or carry something from point A to point B.
  • how he puts his little hand in mine when we get to the last page of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom so we can point to the letters as I sing the alphabet song.
  • how he's fascinated with books and will "read" them to anyone who will listen. 
  • how sometimes he's so tired at naptime that he'll cozy up to my chest and wrap his arms around my neck instead of looking at the book I'm reading.
  • how he loves to dance and somehow has learned a new dance move every time we get jiggy.
  • how he walks to the end of his crib after his goodnight kiss so he can get one last kiss before I leave his room for the night.
  • how he reaches for both my hand and Victor's hand when we go on family walks.
  • how he points and says, "Dada" anytime he sees anything that Victor may have touched: his shoes, his belt, his coffee mug, his car, his wine glass...
  • how he is usually happy to follow directions if he feels like he's helping me.
  • the fact that he doesn't say the word "No" yet.
  • his angelic "singing" voice.
  • how he finds Curious George hilarious and giggles when he does something silly.
  • how he "reads" words on shirts, in books, or on the back of his high chair by pointing and saying, "Ay, iy, ey, oh."
  • how he sees us doing something and wants to do the same thing.  If we're looking at the ads in the Sunday paper, he wants to browse through one, too.  If we're writing a list, he wants to write, too.  If I'm wiping something up from the floor, the next time he gets his hands on a towel, napkin, or wipe, he's going to clean the floor the same way.
  • how he won't stand on the floor to eat a snack for fear that Kenny will snatch it out of his hand. He always requests to sit on a stool at the kitchen island.
  • how he thinks Kenny must be hand-fed his dog food and occasionally will sneak a few pieces for himself. 
    Post dog-food snack.
  • how he loves to blow raspberries on any exposed skin he can find.
  • his giggles when he's tickled below his neck or when his thighs are squeezed.
  • how he thinks he's "jumping" but his feet never leave the ground.
  • how he always chooses my cerulean flats for me to wear anytime he's in my closet with me while I'm getting dressed. 
  • how he will ride all the way to Target (a 15-minute drive) with his lips pursed, but when it's time to give a kiss, he still gives the open-mouthed, slobbery kind. 
  • how he brings his "boo boos" to me so I can kiss them.  Once they're kissed, he's immediately cured.
  • how he'll climb onto my lap, no matter where we are, if there's a good book to be read.
  • how he beats on his chest like Tarzan any time his shirt is removed.
  • how he somehow makes the TV remote do things we never knew it could do, and he seems to do the same thing every time he gets his hands on it.
  • how he can be entertained for a solid 20 minutes if he gets his hands on his daddy's tape measure.
  • how he runs to find me for a hug and comfort when Kenny starts barking incessantly.
  • how he points and nods repeatedly as if to say, "Yes, I want that," even though we have a hard time figuring out what it is he wants.  His continued nods are his way of encouraging us to play the guessing game until we figure it out.
  • how he babbles and shrugs or gestures as if he instinctively knows how to look confused or perturbed.
This sweet boy of mine has my heart, and I'm so lucky that God chose me to be his mommy.

Monday, November 16, 2015

How we survived the 18-month sleep regression

If you're a parent, you know the effort it takes to encourage your child to be a good sleeper.  I'm sure some parents were blessed with automatically awesome snoozers, but it's more likely that you're going to have to do some sort of sleep training to get your child to sleep through the night and put him/herself to sleep.  Max started sleeping through the night at around 6 weeks, but then when he started teething at 3 months, those long nights of uninterrupted sleep were replaced by frequent awakenings.  In hindsight, I realize that I did some things that hindered him from developing good sleep habits, such as: keeping him up too late, letting him fall asleep on me instead of in his crib, nursing him to sleep, etc.  Even despite a great, consistent bedtime routine, he still woke up multiple times a night and needed help to go back to sleep.

It wasn't until we moved to our new house last March, when Max was 10 months old, that I really got serious about the sleep training and began using the Ferber method of "crying it out" (I had tried the gentler "Sleep Lady" method earlier and I feel like I wasted 3 months of our lives with no success. That's not to say it wouldn't work for your child, and I have her book if you'd like to have it!  I did like her suggestions for a daily schedule for baby). The first week was awful and he cried every time I left his room, but each night got better and better as he learned to put himself to sleep, which then equipped him to put himself back to sleep if he woke up in the middle of the night. As a result, he's a fabulous napper and even better nighttime sleeper.  I feel relief because I know he's getting plenty of sleep, and he's a very happy kid as a result.  My one regret was not starting sooner.

Snoozing peacefully

However, in late October into November, Max was going through a textbook sleep regression.  He was only 17 months old at the time, but everything he was doing was consistent with what is described as the 18-month sleep regression.  Sleep regressions are common in babies/toddlers at various ages, largely due to the new skills they are learning, such as crawling, walking, eating solids, etc.  According to the Baby Sleep Site, these are some common causes of the 18-month sleep regression:

  • teething--they're likely cutting their canine/cuspids (the pointy teeth), and they could even be starting to grow their two-year molars
  • separation anxiety--this usually rears its ugly head around 7-8 months, but it can last through 18 months
  • increasing independence--if you've got a strong-willed toddler, you could be in trouble!  They like to test their limits.
Sleep regressions often begin out of nowhere, with no warning, and they typically end just as suddenly. They can last anywhere from 2-6 weeks, and they can be incredibly frustrating and exhausting, both for baby and for you.  Max's regression lasted for about 2 weeks, and it was a doozy of a regression.  The older the child gets, the harder the sleep regressions become because you have to add in a discipline factor since they could be testing their limits with you when they refuse to sleep.

This was completely true for Max.  He started throwing some wicked temper tantrums right around the time that his regression started.  When naptime or bedtime came around, he went up to his room willingly and seamlessly went through his bedtime routine.  However, once I left his room, he would stand facing his door and scream and cry--at the top of his lungs--and he was relentless.  He would typically calm down after 15 minutes and go to sleep, but those 15 minutes were long and loud.  He would also wake up at least once a night screaming and wouldn't be able to soothe himself back sleep, requiring me to go in to him and rock him for a bit.  He would always cry for at least a little bit after I put him back in his crib, but most nights he'd be asleep again within 5 minutes.  Naptimes were also rough, with the same screaming/crying/yelling. He would wake up after about an hour and scream and cry again; sometimes he'd go back to sleep and other times that was the end of naptime.  Still, on some days, he didn't nap at all.  This was such a drastic change from my wonderful sleeper who would sleep 11-12 hours through the night and 2-3 hours at naptime every day.

The worst of this regression occurred one Saturday morning at around 5 AM.  I left Max's room after soothing and rocking him for about 10 minutes.  I went to the bathroom before heading back to bed, and I heard a loud *thud* come from Max's room.  I bolted to check on him, but before I got to his room, he was opening his door and walking out to me.  Yes, ladies and gentlemen, he flipped himself out of his crib! Enter panic mode!!!  First thing was to check to make sure nothing was broken.  Thankfully, Max was fine. Then as I tried to rock him to calm him down, a million thoughts were spinning through my head: is it time to transition him to a toddler bed?  How do we make sure he doesn't climb out again?  Long story short, Max never went back to sleep that morning, and Mommy was a zombie all day. Victor and I put his crib mattress on the floor inside of his crib to make it more difficult for him to climb out, and we put some extra cushioning around the crib in case he did manage to get out again. My gut was telling me that he literally catapulted himself out of his crib that morning because he was so mad and that it wasn't an intentional jail break.  I didn't think he'd try to climb out again, but each naptime and bedtime after that, I watched the monitor like a hawk while he screamed and cried to make sure he wasn't trying to climb out.  He hasn't tried since, thank goodness.

I am happy to report that we have had zero screaming/crying/yelling at naptime or bedtime for about 2 weeks now; it ended just as suddenly as it started--like I said, textbook sleep regression. How did we survive, you ask?  First of all, I did my research and determined that this was, in fact, a sleep regression and wasn't a result of some other issue.  Secondly, I tried to remain calm and patient, which was easier said than done at times.  Thirdly, I was consistent and reverted back to my sleep training principles that I used when Max was just 10 months old.  I let him scream/cry it out for no longer than 15 minutes before I went up to soothe him.  If he woke in the middle of the night or during his nap, I'd give him 10 minutes to try to calm down before checking on him.  The video monitor helped a lot so I could see what he was doing and was reassured that he was safe.  Fourth, I tried to remain confident that I was doing what was best for my child. even when my methods were questioned by others.  Max is at the age where he makes cause and effect connections, and giving in to his tantrums would only encourage his behavior. I knew he was safe, had a clean diaper, was fed, and was warm enough in his crib.  He was testing his limits, and I had to stand my ground.

Parents, if you haven't experienced a sleep regression yet, I hope this gives you some helpful information for when you do.  Even if you don't subscribe to the cry-it-out/Ferber method of sleep training, know that you can still revert back to your chosen method if your child goes through a sleep regression in the future.  And if your precious babe starts giving you the run around at bedtime, hang in there, go with your gut, and remain consistent.  You'll get through it!

Lastly, here is a great chart with the recommended amounts of sleep that babies need at various ages. I've seen many similar charts (some go as high as 7-8 years old), and the total number of hours of sleep/naps for each age is pretty consistent across the various charts.  This is a great guideline, but something I have learned in my 18 months of being a parent is that your child might not subscribe completely to these totals.  Something else I have learned is a well-rested baby equals a happy baby, so do what you can to ensure your baby is getting good sleep, even if it means you have to leave a party early or turn down a lunch date from time to time.

Note: this chart states the total hours of sleep a child needs per day, which includes both nighttime sleep and naps.

I am always happy to share what has worked for my family with regard to sleep training and routines. This does not guarantee that it will work for your child (my fear is that it might not work for baby #2!), but I'd be happy to share with you if you have any questions!  Feel free to send me an email at with any questions you may have!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Oh hey, Friday! | Five Family Thanksgiving Traditions

First off, thank you all SO MUCH for the sweet messages--texts, calls, emails, comments, etc.--about our baby #2 news yesterday!  We are so thrilled to be expanding our family and we already know this next baby is so loved by many!

Since I had some big news to post yesterday, I didn't get to link up with Astleigh at Hill Collection and Rachel at Floral and Fudge for their Thanksgiving traditions link up.  And since it's "Oh hey, Friday!," I thought I'd combine the two and bring you a list of 5 of my family Thanksgiving traditions!

1.  Travel to Ohio:  Before my dad passed away, my sister and I would head to Michigan for the Thanksgiving holiday every year.  Now that dad is no longer with us, Victor and I (and now Max) make the trip to Ohio every year to celebrate Thanksgiving with my mom's side of the family.  We always drive, so it's a fun (albeit long) road trip.  Our road trips to Ohio carry their own traditions, too, so it's always a great trip!

2.  Thanksgiving lunch with my mom's siblings:  My mom is one of 7 kids, and 5 of the siblings live in the greater Cincinnati area, which makes for some great family get-togethers.  We usually eat at my Aunt Sue's house, and lunch is typically scheduled for 1 PM.  It's a potluck of sorts, with everyone bringing something to share.  My mom always makes a non-raisin dressing/stuffing and a veggie platter.  Uncle Charlie and his wife make some scrumptious homemade pies.  Aunt Sue makes the fluffiest mashed potatoes. Uncle Pat brings the turkey.  Aunt Rose brings her beloved applesauce, and her husband usually whips something delicious up, as well (his family used to own a restaurant and he's a fantastic cook!). We enjoy a big lunch, watch some football, and they choose the date that they will celebrate Christmas together (I miss celebrating Christmas with them.  The white elephant gift exchange is quite intense!).  The cousins play ping pong, and this year we might need to institute a dance party for Max.  It's always a joyful couple of hours spent with some incredible people.

Thanksgiving 2014 at Aunt Sue's

3.  Friday night dinner downtown:  This tradition began in 2008, the same year that my sister and I started celebrating Thanksgiving with our mom.  The day after Thanksgiving, there is a big tree lighting ceremony on Fountain Square in downtown Cincinnati, and the restaurant Palomino has great views of the tree.  My mom makes a reservation there every year, and we enjoy a delicious dinner, followed by a stroll through Macy's and a trip outside to see the tree and all the other excitement that goes on on the Square--live music, ice skating, food trucks, etc.

Palomino 2014 (this is not the big Fountain Square

4.  Making a pumpkin roll:  This isn't necessarily a tradition yet, but I'd like it to be.  I LOVE a pumpkin roll, and I have found a fabulous recipe for it.  I haven't made one in 2 years, but this year, my sister and I promised to bring one to our family's Thanksgiving lunch, so it's time to get messy!  I think this will be fun to do with my kids once they're older, as well.  I will post the recipe next week!

source.  This link goes to the recipe I use, but I'll post again next week!

5.  Avoid Black Friday shopping:  Don't get me wrong, I love a good deal.  But I don't love crowds. Or feeling rushed.  Or being pushed and shoved.  Or waiting in long lines.  I've never gone out shopping on Black Friday, but I imagine it to be like that episode of Friends where Rachel and Phoebe help Monica find her wedding dress at a discount dress shop and they need whistles to find one another/alert that there's a problem.  That's the stuff my nightmares are made of, so I steer clear. My sister and mom sometimes go out if they have something specific they're looking for and know it's on crazy sale, for instance, a Dyson vacuum.  One year, Victor and I went out to Starbucks, Target and Walmart in the afternoon, after the madness had died down, which then prompted Victor to purchase a couple of TVs for his office.  But otherwise, we stay farrrrr away.

This would be me.  Hiding in a clothing rack.
I love traditions, even if those traditions include not doing something!  What are your Thanksgiving traditions?

Linking up with:
Astleigh at Hill Collection
Rachel at Floral and Fudge
Karli at September Farm

Hill Collection

Thursday, November 12, 2015

A special announcement...

photo by Dottie Millwater Photography saw that right.  We're adding another superhero to our squad in May 2016!

We are so thrilled to be expecting baby #2 in the spring!  This baby is due on May 26, 2016.  Max was due May 25, 2014.  It seems as though God wants us to have May babies!  Max was born a week early, though, so he should turn 2 before his brother or sister is born.  But I suppose it goes without saying that we will have one big birthday party for our two littles in years to come!

So far in this pregnancy, I've noticed some similarities and differences in my symptoms compared to when I was pregnant with Max.  I know every pregnancy is different, so I will take this one at face value, but it's hard not to compare.

  • Fatigue.  I was SO TIRED all the time during the first trimester with Max.  I was teaching kindergarten full time then, so I think it was even worse the first time around.  By the end of the day, I was a zombie.  After we announced we were expecting Max, my friend and coworker said, "I knew it. I kept thinking, 'Either Rachel is mad at me, or she's pregnant.'  I was so worn out by the end of the day that I was quiet and short-tempered...I just wanted to take a nap!  I even almost fell asleep at the dinner table once!  This time around, I'm still feeling the exhaustion, but it's different.  I don't feel persistently exhausted like I did in my first pregnancy. If I'm really tired, I can take a short nap during Max's naptime.  I was so tired on Monday afternoon that I willingly slept through the Ellen show...that's a big deal, guys!  If I'm in the house, I always watch Ellen!
  • Spidey-sense of smell.  I've always had a very talented nose, but my skills increase ten-fold when I'm growing a baby.  Victor and his family love red wine.  I've never been a huge fan of it, but I would drink it occasionally (when NOT with-child, of course).  However, when I'm pregnant, I can smell a glass from across the room, and it's not a smell my nose appreciates. Also, the smell of tuna/other canned fish makes my stomach turn.
  • "It's just emotion taking me over."  Do you remember that song?  I believe the Bee Gees sang it first.  Then Destiny's Child covered it (I love their version).  Anyway, I digress.  I feel all the feelings when I'm pregnant, which can be quite overwhelming when I'm already a sensitive person.  I cry at the silliest things.  I watch the Ellen show every day, and her little acts of kindness make me bawl my eyes out. A little boy who loves the James Bond movies got to meet Daniel Craig last week on her show and when he went in to hug Daniel, I started to well up.  5 Seconds of Summer's "Amnesia" came on the Ariana Grande Pandora station during one of Max's dance parties and I started crying while really listening to the lyrics.  I also might be a little irrational from time to time.  Sorry Victor.
  • Nausea.  I was not very nauseous when I was pregnant with Max.  I could get occasional waves of nausea, typically when I was a passenger in a car, but I wouldn't say it was a persistent symptom.  It's a different story this time around.  Almost every night (yes, night), I get hit with nausea right around dinner time.  That's why I'm not referring to it as "morning sickness," because it's rarely in the morning.  How disappointing is it when you cook a yummy meal for your family and then you can't even eat it?  I made salmon a couple of weeks ago and ended up eating cereal for dinner because I took one bite of the salmon and almost tossed my cookies. The other night, I went to bed fighting nausea.  What the what?!
  • Heartburn.  Flippin' everything gives me heartburn these days!  I had some heartburn with Max, but I could usually pinpoint what caused it (Simply Lemonade with Raspberry would always cause it), it was later in the pregnancy, and it was pretty infrequent.  I don't think it bodes well for the remaining 28-ish weeks of this pregnancy that my heartburn is pretty bad this early.  Send me your TUMS coupons...I think I'm gonna need them!
  • Still not in maternity pants.  This is a big win.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE maternity clothes. I vowed never to go back to regular clothes after spending 6.5 months in them last time. They're so comfy and forgiving.  I was regularly wearing maternity pants at 10/11 weeks when I was pregnant with Max because I was so bloated and uncomfortable that I couldn't bear wearing regular pants.  Not this time.  My box of maternity clothes is still in our back garage right now, and I don't have plans to pull it out until this bump pops.
  • Cravings.  I haven't had too many.  Last time, I wanted Chipotle burritos all. the. time.  Not so much this time.  I saw Eugene Levy eating a bagel with cream cheese in a movie a few weeks ago, and it was ALL I could think about for 3 days until I went to the grocery store and bought two sesame seed bagels and some whipped cream cheese.  Other than that one incident, I basically want sweet stuff, mostly fruit.  I'm having a love affair with apples right now (sorry, watermelon).
Again, we are so very excited to become a family of four next year, and we are praying for a healthy baby and pregnancy.  We will be finding out the gender of this baby so we know if we need to stock up on girl clothes or if we're all set with Max's overflowing bins of outgrown duds.  We got all gender-neutral reusable baby items for Max (swing, bouncer, car seat, etc.), so we won't need to get much else in that department.  If this one is a girl and we end up having a third baby, we'll likely keep that one a surprise. But we're definitely finding out this time.

I don't think I'll do weekly "bumpdates" with this pregnancy, but I will update you on some pregnancy-related things from time to time.  I plan to share how we told our family next week!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A day in the life

I thought I'd do a little "Day in the Life" post so you can get a window into what a typical weekday is like for this stay-at-home mommy.  Some parts of this day (Tuesday, November 10) were very typical, and others were not.
My day started at 6:30 AM, when my alarm went off.  I reset it for 7, though, because I could.  I wanted to get up to do some barre3 since I've been having some sciatic nerve pain lately, but I felt that I needed another 30 minutes of sleep.  Then at 7:10, Max started screaming out of nowhere in his crib.  Like, one second he was asleep and the next he was screaming bloody murder.  I didn't want to run in to him right away (we cry it out--for a certain amount of time--in this house), but I watched and listened to him on the monitor to make sure he was okay.  He calmed down after about 5 minutes and then was asleep 5 minutes after that, so that was my cue to get up, get dressed, and get down to the basement. By the time I was downstairs, let the dog out, and was all set up in the workout room, it was nearly 7:40.

I did a 30 minute Standing Slim video, which I love.  One of the things I love about barre3 is how low-impact it is, but it's still so effective and I always break a little sweat (sometimes a big sweat).  

After my workout, I showered and got ready for the day.  It was supposed to rain all day, so I didn't bother doing anything with my hair (curly hair problems).  Then I went in to get Max up.

Lately, Max has been waking up around 3 or 4 AM.  He just rolls around in his crib and babbles to himself for about an hour, then falls back asleep.  This makes him want to sleep a bit later in the morning.  On this particular morning, I went in to get him around 9 AM, which is about 30 minutes to an hour later than he usually wakes up.  He immediately wanted to sit in the glider and read his little Bible.

After getting Max dressed, we headed downstairs for breakfast.  Victor was still home on this particular day since he had a morning court appointment and was leaving straight from home instead of going to his office first.  We got to have breakfast together, and Victor made us English muffin sandwiches with egg and cheese.  Of course I smothered mine in ketchup because it's my favorite condiment and it just made good sense.

I want another one of these right now.  So yummy.  Also, I can't say enough about Simply Heinz ketchup. All natural, simple ingredients.  Tomato paste, salt, sugar (not high fructose corn syrup), onion powder, etc.  We love it.

After breakfast (around 10 AM), Victor left for court and Max and I headed to Costco.  I really didn't want to have to go to Costco on a rainy day, but I needed to pick up some canvas prints we had made, plus we needed a bunch of other stuff.  So we braved the rain and headed into the madness.  About an hour later, we were heading home with all of our bulk purchases.

Once we got home, I unloaded the car and put everything in the kitchen, then started on lunch--peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and applesauce.  Max inhaled his (after a few minutes of protesting being put in his high chair), and while he was eating, I made some trips to the basement to put some of our Costco purchases in the basement fridge: 6 half-gallon cartons of milk, Eggo waffles, vegetable soup, and some party appetizers.  I had to make about 3 trips, and I don't like to do those when Max is not restrained in some way because I'm afraid he'll try to follow me downstairs (he can open doors) and he's not the best at navigating stairs by himself.

After lunch, Max and I sat down to watch his pre-naptime episode of Sesame Street.  At 1 PM, I took him upstairs, went through our naptime routine (close drapes, turn on white noise, change diaper, read book, sing, put Max and his 3 bedtime buddies + blankie in his crib), and grabbed some laundry to throw in the washer.  Max was asleep by 1:15 after some rolling around and rearranging his stuffed animals, and I got started on repackaging our meat and fish that I bought at Costco.  Costco days can be a little stressful and overwhelming if I have to get a lot of stuff.  It takes a while to get everything situated at home, especially when I have Max with me.  Luckily I got a lot of easy stuff done while he was eating lunch, so all I had left to do was the meat/fish and washing/slicing the berries.

This is what I started with, meat/fish wise.  Lots of chicken breasts and thighs, salmon, and tilapia.  I like to bag the salmon and tilapia separately to make it easy to grab meal-sized portions.  The chicken is easy--just separate the packages.  But the fish takes a bit of time.  After about 20 minutes, I had this cake pan loaded up to take to the basement freezer.

After arranging this stuff in the basement fridge, I grabbed the meat and fish I'd need for the week's dinners and brought them up to the kitchen freezer.  Then I washed and sliced the blueberries and strawberries I had bought.  I also did a load of laundry and prepared the dry goods for my overnight oats jars for the rest of the week.

At about 2:20, I was able to sit down and eat my lunch, read some blogs, and read a bit of my book. I'm still reading Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult.  I'm almost finished and very enthralled.

The Ellen show came on at 3 (I never miss an episode, if I can help it.  She makes my day), and during commercials, I read more of my book.  Max was still asleep at 4 when Ellen ended, so I took a little nap until I heard him wake up at 4:30.  Max and I came downstairs, played with some Mega Blocks, vacuumed the rugs by the front door and back slider, then we snuggled up on the couch with some apple slices and Pete's Dragon, one of my favorite childhood movies.

Max lost interest in the movie after about 30 minutes (much to my dismay), so we went into his playroom to color, and he swept the room with his play broom.  Victor got home around 5:45, and I got started on dinner.  I am usually already making dinner by the time Victor gets home, but this night was a special exception. His parents, brother, and brother's fiancee returned from Portugal on this day and were driving home from the airport in New Jersey.  They were coming to our house for dinner and wouldn't arrive until close to 8 PM, so dinner was going to be about an hour later than we usually eat.  

I made spaghetti with meatballs, and while the sauce was simmering, I switched over/folded some more laundry, took out the recycling, and read to Max.  Victor and Max played a bit, too, while I was finishing up dinner.  Victor's family arrived around 7:30.  We ate, they filled us in on their trip, and Max showed off for our guests.  They left around 8:45 (it was a long day of traveling for them.  I give them credit for coming over for dinner.  I always just want to go straight home after returning from Portugal), and Max finished is bedtime bottle and Sesame Street episode (he loves the Street!).  He got to bed late due to our dinner get-together, so we had to postpone his bath till the morning.

After Max was asleep, I changed into my PJs and headed downstairs to blog and read my book. It was a long, productive day!

And there you have it!  I hope your week is going great!  And I wanted to wish a Happy Veterans' Day to those who have served or are currently serving in our armed forces.  Your sacrifices for our freedoms are endlessly appreciated.