Sleep Training at Nine Months Old

August 4th, 2016 | Posted by Erica House in Life - (6 Comments)
Sleep training

Warning: extremely long post. Other sleep deprived mamas may appreciate our experience.

There were nights that I thought I’d never sleep again.

Until my son was 9 months old he rarely slept more than 4 hours at a time. After getting up to nurse him it would take me about 30 minutes to fall back asleep again, so his 2-3 wakings a night meant I was running on fumes.

Before having a baby I didn’t think I could let my child cry it out. How hard is it to just go comfort your child when they are upset?

Ha. Hahahahahahahahahaha.

If only it were that easy!
Sleep training

Sleeping patterns prior to sleep training

Around 9 months we started a cry-it-out approach to get little man to fall asleep in the crib on his own. It’s been a very long, slow, progression getting him into his crib. Here’s his history;

  • 0-5 months slept in his rock-n-play next to our bed
  • 5-8 months slept in a swing in his room. The swing was never on, but it was slightly inclined.
  • 8-9 months slept in his crib, but it took forever to get him to fall asleep. I do not miss those nights.

We had a few habits we needed to break; sleeping in his swing, being nursed to sleep, and night wakings. He was also napping only on me after nursing.

When we first put him in the crib I put a pillow under the crib on one end, and rolled up a towel into a ‘U’ shape and put it under his sheet. This ‘cradled’ him and had him at a slight incline to mimic the swing. It helped. A little. Looking back I would rather just throw him in there and let him CIO all at once.

After a few weeks we realized he liked sleeping on his stomach better, so we took the towel and pillow out of the crib and he started sleeping longer stretches. It still took almost an hour to get him to fall asleep since we were putting him in the crib awake which is what all the sleep experts on google were telling me to do. By nursing him to sleep we were teaching him that he needed the boob to sleep, so every time he woke up during the night he’d want to nurse again to get back to sleep.

Our CIO approach

I read all the horrible studies on letting babies CIO. How it permanently alters their brains from the high cortisol. I read many more studies that found no differences with kids who were left to CIO. I researched many different methods and almost all of them said by night 3 the babies were putting themselves to sleep within minutes.

Not our kid.

It took five very, very, long nights before we could put him in the crib wide awake and he’d fall asleep on his own. Our approach was to let him cry for about 10 minutes, go in and check on him (less than 1 minute and just verbal reassurance we were there if he needed us but it was time to go to sleep) and go in and check every 15 min after that if need be. Sometimes he’d wake up and just fuss, so we wouldn’t count that time. We’d start the 10 min time once he was truly crying.

Here are the notes I took on those nights:

  • 6/10. Put in crib awake at 7. Checked at 7:20, on my way up to check again 7:30 and he became quiet. Fell asleep a few min later.
    • Woke up at 11:30, nursed, went right to sleep.
    • Woke up at 2, checked on him after 5 min, went to sleep a few min later.
  • 6/11, put in crib at 7:15. Fell asleep after 12 min of fussing.
    • Woke up at 8:30. Alternated between crying and fussing for 25 min. Checked. Waited 10 min. Checked again. Fell asleep 3 min later.
    • Woke up at 10:10. Checked at 10:17. Fell asleep 10 min later.
    • Woke up at 1:50, nursed, went right back to sleep
    • Woke up at 5:20, nursed, went back to sleep for an hour
  • 6/12, fell asleep nursing, put in crib 6:40 and immediately crying, checked at 6:50. Checked at 7:00. Asleep 12 min later.
    • Woke up at 8. Cried for 8 min, checked. Fell asleep five minutes later.
    • Woke up at 10:30, nursed. Right back to sleep.
    • Woke at 1:18. Checked at 1:23, poopy diaper so I changed him. Asleep 8 min later.
    • Up at 5. Nursed. Right back to sleep.
    • Up at 6:45.
  • 6/13. In bed at 7:07 immediately crying. Checked at 7:17. Asleep at 7:23.
    • Woke up at 9:44, checked at 9:50. Checked at 10:02, fell asleep immediately after.
    • Woke up at 1:40, nursed. Right back to sleep.
    • Woke up at 4, went back to sleep.
    • Woke up at 5:30, nursed, went back to sleep for an hour.
  • 6/14 on bed 7:16. Immediate crying/fussing. Asleep at 7:26.
    • Up at 9:10. Fussed. Fell asleep 5 min later.
    • Up at 10:20. Fussed. Back to sleep.
    • Up at 11:45. Nursed, right back to sleep
    • Up at 2:30. Fussed. Asleep at 2:40.
    • Up at 6:45.
  • 6/15 in bed at 7:30, fell asleep IMMEDIATELY
    • Up at 5!! Nursed. Slept until 7:30
From that night on we could put him in his crib wide awake, and he’d normally be asleep by the time I got downstairs – with ZERO crying. Success!
A few weeks later we tackled night wakings. I wouldn’t nurse him if it hadn’t been at least 5 hours since his last time nursing. So if he nursed at 7 before bed I wouldn’t feed him again until midnight. If he woke up before then we’d let him cry it out for 10 minutes, go check, then wait 15 minutes. He would typically go back to sleep before the 10 min time period. Within 2 nights he was no longer waking to nurse! He will still wake between 5-6 a.m. usually but I’ll nurse him then and he will sleep until 7:30 a.m..
I was going to discuss nap training as well but since this post is already close to 1000 words so I’ll save that for my next post!
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask! I’m certainly not an expert but I’d be happy to give advice, and just listen if you need to vent!
Epiglottitis

17 things to be exact.

Last week I saw my friends Jen and Brittany both do fun blog posts answering 17 ‘getting to know you’ questions and I thought I would do the same. I have been so focused on other projects this Summer (bootcamps, my free eCourse on making money blogging, and LuLaRoe) that I haven’t been blogging as much as I used to and I really miss it! My final bootcamp for the year will start August 22nd, and my free eCourse starts Monday, so after August I will be focused back on the blog, LuLaRoe and my first eBook.

1. What brings you the greatest joy? 

My son laughing and hugging me around the neck. He doesn’t really know what a hug is yet, but he’ll just throw his arms around me and squeeze and I just about melt. Being outside with him is a close second.

2. What are your vices?

Work or big projects. I use working as a way to cope with anxiety. My therapist likes to tell Travis (he’s come to a few sessions so the therapist can better explain to him what my anxiety is like and how he can help with it) that I should be CEO of a major company. I’ve just got that personality type. Driven enough to work 24/7 without downtime, and that’s a huge fault of mine. Working on a project, accomplishing things, and creating endless to-do lists invigorates me, but it also drains me. The very thing that helps me feel less anxious also creates anxiety! In the last 2-3 months I’ve stopped working almost entirely while my son is awake and I’m finding this new balance is much better.

3. What is on your nightstand?

Synthroid (my thyroid medication), a water bottle, baby monitor, a bag of gemstones I got from Chena Hot Springs, a salt lamp, regular lamp, and a few books.

4. Do you have a secret talent?

I don’t think so! I always wish I had some musical or artistic talent. I’d say the only thing I’m better than average at is running long distances. I’ll never be very fast but I can chug along for hours. I’m pretty good at baking things, and cross-stitch/embroidery.

Make it Rain

5. What is your greatest indulgence?

I’m lame and don’t indulge in much. I’m trying to change that and loosen up on the budget a bit and live more! Food is probably the biggest indulgence for me. I wish it was travel, but that’s a bit hard to do with a little one.

6. What should everyone try at least once in their life? 

Go on a vacation alone! I went to Chicago alone for my 30th birthday. Didn’t know anyone. Didn’t have any plans. Had the best time of my life. Wandering around the city and I never felt more like the person I always wanted to be. I have very few ‘pre-baby’ regrets but I do wish I would have traveled solo more.

Chicago

I think I need to bring the pink streak back!

7. What makes you laugh? 

My husband is pretty funny. We don’t share the same sense of humor but he can randomly start booty dancing in the kitchen, or send me some meme while he’s at work, and it always cracks me up.

8. What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?

I was in a coma once. I had epiglottitis when I was 5 and had to be put in a medically induced coma. Epiglottitis is what killed George Washington. My front four teeth are fake thanks to a bike accident in high school. I just had my first pedicure at age 32. I only have one tattoo, a star on my foot, that I got on a first date with someone when I was 19. Yes, that’s more than one thing.

Epiglottitis

9. What is on your bucket list?

I didn’t care about these two destinations while living in Florida the last 20+ years, but even since I moved to Alaska (and had a baby) I’ve been obsessed with visiting Hawaii and Disneyworld! We may put Hawaii down as one of our choices for our next duty station.

10. What is on your feet right now?

Nothing! I’m in my pajamas on the couch getting ready to go to bed.

11. How did you make your first dollar?

My best friend Jamie and I started a jewelry business when I was in second grade. “J and E Jewelry.” We probably sold a bracelet to each of our Moms and then closed down the company! In college I made and sold jewelry on Etsy.

Locket necklace

12. What superstitions do you believe in?

None. We each make our own good and bad luck.

13. What items in your closet do you wear the most? 

Workout clothes. Nothing but workout clothes, and LuLaRoe leggings now!

14. What is the best gift you ever received?

My son.

15. What is on your liquor shelf? 

I have one bottle of rum in the house. Travis doesn’t drink, and I drink once every 1-2 months. I wanted a mojito a few weeks ago so I picked up some rum!

16. What is on your kitchen counter?

A fruit basket, Keurig, knife set and blue and yellow kitchen towels. I like to keep things as clean and minimal as possible.

17. What would you never leave home without?

My phone, water bottle, purse (keys, cards, etc.) and mints. Even though I quit smoking years ago I still have to have mints or something to chew on when I’m driving.

Your turn! I’d love to know what is on your nightstand? Are you superstitious? 

DIET OR SCAM-

I had a potential client ask me a question on twitter last week that has been on my mind ever since. She said she planned to follow my carb cycling program for the six weeks of the program, but stop once it ended and wanted to know if she’d gain weight back again.

Well, probably. (I’m assuming she meant she’d be going back to exactly how she was eating before.)

So many of my clients have the mistaken belief that they can ‘diet down’ to their goal weight and then *poof* they can go back to eating as they did before and maintain their weight loss. I wish that was the case!
DIET OR SCAM-

The depressing reality is that about 80% of people who lose weight will regain all of it, or more, within two years. 

Research is very inconclusive about the exact percentage. I’ve seen some studies say 50% regain the weight, and others say 90%. So, I think it’s safe to say the majority will regain the weight they lost. Whatever the number it’s a depressing statistic.

Biologically there are some changes that happen to you when you drop a lot of weight that makes it harder to continue losing weight, and maintain the weight loss. Your metabolism adjusts and your brain chemistry starts messing with your hunger signals. Psychologically, you start to feel a bit defeated when the scale stops moving.

I think one of the biggest reasons why people regain the weight is because they look at dieting as a temporary situation instead of a permanent lifestyle change. Most people can stick to any diet for 4-6 weeks. They’ll stick with egg whites for breakfast instead of their favorite cereal and be okay with abstaining from wine for a few weeks.

Then, the novelty wears off and their willpower is depleted. Willpower is a muscle just like your biceps. If you constantly flex it you will eventually fatigue it and you won’t be able to use it temporarily. That’s when the binges start. Or the ‘all or nothing’ thinking (I ate too much crap food today I might as well just throw in the towel.)

I lost 50+ pounds in my mid twenties and have kept it off for 8 years. I gained 40 pounds while pregnant and lost it all by 9 months postpartum. Why was I different? What did I do that made me keep the weight off?

I made a permanent mindset shift. I took two years to lose the weight. I made small changes that added up to big results without totally overwhelming me. Here’s the general shifts I made in order:

  • Gave up fast food, candy, and drinking anything with calories
  • A few months later, after already losing 10-15 pounds, I started going to the gym 3x a week to just use the machines to strength train
  • A few months later I started going to the gym 5x a week and adding in cardio
  • A few years later I started
  • A year after my first 5k I ran my first marathon
  • A few years ago I got into really clean eating. Limiting all processed foods. Focusing on vegetables.
  • Recently I tried carb cycling and I was able to lose the last 5 pounds of baby weight with it.

I didn’t do it all over night. I never even thought of myself as being on a ‘diet.’ I was just eating healthier and exercising. There was no end date in sight for when I would stop. This was my life, forever.

Are there days where I eat nothing but sugar and carbs? Yes. It’s okay. That’s life.

Are there days when I don’t want to exercise? At least once a week. On those days I’ll go for a walk with my son. That’s exercise and so much fun!

I hate when I hear of women really struggling to lose weight, or keep the weight off. No one should spend their lives hating themselves or how they look. Food shouldn’t be looked at as an enemy. Exercise shouldn’t be viewed as a punishment. Nutritious food and regular movement will help lower your stress, increase your happiness, and add years to your life.

You can have all that and still enjoy your occasional cupcakes and regular glass of wine too. Isn’t life grand?

If you feel like you are stuck in this mindset and want help losing weight for good please feel free to reach out to me! I will be holding just one more bootcamp this year starting on August 22nd and I already have women registered for it. If you’d like more info just email me at Erica@EricaDHouse.com.

Every Runner Should Know-

Last Wednesday I took my son to the Children’s Museum downtown. I sent my Mom a ton of photos throughout the day, as I always do, and was a bit surprised I hadn’t heard back. Later in the afternoon I tried to call her and she didn’t answer. I suspected something was up.

I tried calling again about an hour later and this time I got through. I asked (jokingly) why she was ignoring her grandson. She responded in tears, “I’m in the ER.”

Every Runner Should Know-

Oddly enough my first thought was that something happened to my Dad. That wasn’t the case though and she proceeded to tell me what happened.

The heat in Florida has prevented my Mom from being able to go out for a walk the last few weeks. The weather was overcast last Wednesday so it was cool enough to go for a quick walk around the neighborhood. Not too far from home she was passing by a house with a pit bull tied up on a leash and harness outside. She passed the house, not suspecting anything would happen, and out of nowhere the dog broke off it’s leash and attacked her legs.

He came up from behind so she didn’t have any time to react. She actually had mace in her back pocket but wasn’t even thinking coherently enough to try and use it since the dog completely blindsided her. She began screaming and she could feel the dogs teeth sinking into her feet over and over. The owners came running out and attempted to pull the dog off of her. The man, who she said was easily 6’4″ and quite large, was on top of the dog trying to keep him pinned to the group but the dog repeatedly got away and kept biting my Mom.

Finally the owners were able to get the dog into the house. Neighbors had come out to see what all the yelling was about (the female owner of the dog was crying hysterical on the ground.) One neighbor held my Mom’s hand as she waited for the ambulance to arrive.

Of course this all happens when my Dad was out of town. I’m so glad she had a friend meet her at the hospital and stay with her all day, and come over the next morning to get her prescriptions filled and help her around the house. She ended up with 12 stitches and still (five days later) can’t walk without being in a significant amount of pain.

I was so mad.

I’m still so mad.

This was the first time something has happened and I’ve been too far away to help. I was pissed that I couldn’t be there. I’m pissed that it happened. I’m pissed that she won’t be able to go on a walk again without being afraid of every dog that barks.

I asked some of the running groups I’m a member of what tips they had for dealing with aggressive dogs. I’ve also done a lot of reading online as I’m now wondering what I would do if it happened to me while I was out with my son.

In general here are some tips that experts (dog trainers, vets, etc.) say to do when facing an aggressive dog:

  • Remain calm. Ironic, I know. Dogs can sense fear and if you start screaming and running away it will only trigger their desire to want to attack you even more.
  • Don’t make eye contact with the dog. This is threatening to them.
  • Don’t turn your back to the dog. Try to slightly angle yourself to them so you can see them out of the corner of your eye.
  • You can try to firmly tell them, “NO” or “sit/stay.” Of all the commands dogs might know those are the most common.
  • If the dog doesn’t come any closer you can try to slowly back away.
  • If the dog comes closer and starts to try and bite try to give him something to chew on that’s not you. A jacket, a stick, a hat or even your shoe.
  • If the dog does attack they usually go for the feet first to knock you on the ground. They are very specific in going for the feet, so they can get you down and then go for your neck and face. A 71 year old woman was just killed yesterday by her own pit bull who used this approach.
  • If the dog gets you on the ground cover your neck with your hands and ball up into a fetal position. Try not to scream and wiggle. There’s still a chance he can lose interest in you.

I sincerely hope that you won’t ever need to use these tips, but in case you find yourself in this situation maybe they will help. I plan on taking a large stick with me on every walk, some bear spray (it is Alaska after all) and maybe even a stun gun. I used to run with mace and will start doing that again. In general it isn’t recommended to use mace/pepper spray on dogs as it can just irritate them more than stop them. I would only use it as a last resort if the dog was actively biting me and I could spray it directly into his eyes.

I’ve also ordered this cat keychain that could be used against man or animal.

The CatIf it came down to protecting myself or my son against a dog I would hate to do it but the best places to target are the dogs eyes and throat. Again, the thought of even doing that to a dog makes me nauseous, but the thought of a dog attacking my son makes me think of doing things I’d normally find unimaginable.

Have you ever had a run in with a dog?

Easy DIY Wellness Shot

July 14th, 2016 | Posted by Erica House in Life - (8 Comments)
Wellness Shot

One of the things I miss most about living in the lower 48 is access to diverse restaurants and health food stores. We have a few up here in Alaska but they are very tiny (our towns population is 30,000 and we are the second largest city in the state!)

I’ve been seeing wellness shots pop up on snapchat and Instagram and I was intrigued. I looked up recipes for various wellness shots and played around with making my own. This wellness shot is great for boosting your immune system and your metabolism. The lemon cayenne combination is quite the kicker!Wellness Shot

Wellness shot

  • 2-3 T. lemon juice
  • 2-3 T. water
  • 1/8-1/4 tsp minced ginger
  • dash of cayenne
  • dash of tumeric
  • stevia, if desired

Directions: add all ingredients to a small mason jar. Shake vigorously and enjoy. I like mine ice cold so when shaking I’ll throw an ice cube in there.

Instead of constantly buying lemons from the store I found this 100% pure lemon juice. This is so much easier than juicing lemons every morning! I also found a small jar of extremely finely minced ginger that’s perfect for these shots. Most wellness shot recipes I found required using a juicer and I didn’t want to have to hassle with that so I’m glad I found a way to make them without one.

IMG_2448

This shot is strong. Knock you on your ass tequila strong. My bikini competitor friends love the lemon cayenne combination as it acts as a natural appetite suppressant. Lemon and ginger are great for supporting digestion and decreasing nausea. Tumeric, cayenne and ginger can reduce inflammation. If you are feeling very bold you could add in 1-2 T. of apple cider vinegar. I am not that bold yet.IMG_2456

If you are feeling a cold coming on or having an issue with allergies you could add some local honey and bee pollen to sweeten it up and help boost your immune system.

While at the store I saw they sold wheatgrass packets from Amazing Grass. I love their original product so I decided to see what the powdered wheatgrass was like. IMG_2434

I added the packet to 4 oz of water (the directions say to use 8 oz.) IMG_2440

Look at all that green goodness. IMG_2444

That stuff is potent. It is definitely going to be an acquired taste! It’s worth it though as wheatgrass provides a concentrated amount of vitamins C and E, plus beta carotene.

In trying to make the best of our time in Alaska that sometimes entails kitchen experiments to concoct my own version of a wellness shot people in big cities spend $5+ for. Now if only I could recreate Whole Foods and Target then Alaska would truly be perfect.

Have you ever tried a wellness shot? 
What health trend have you noticed recently? I feel so out of touch up here!

IMG_3425

We had quite the exciting weekend! I’ve been trying to find a time to take baby to the Fairbanks Children’s Museum as I thought they were closed on the weekends, but wanted Travis to be able to come with us for his first time. Well, I’m dumb, and they are open on Saturday so we went after his morning nap.

I loved watching baby explore all the different exhibits!

IMG_3391

The whole family enjoyed this suction tube thing the best. You could flip different switches to change the direction of the air flow and experiment with putting soft balls and scarves in one spot to see where they’d shoot out. IMG_3401

Baby’s favorite spot was the water table. This just reaffirms that I need to buy one for him for the backyard! I’ve been keeping my eye on the local sale pages on Facebook to try and snag one used.IMG_3416

I really loved that they had a separtte spot for the little babies. An annual family membership is $120 and I think we would end up going here once a week so I’m going to ask my parents for a membership for his 1st birthday in September (two freaking months away – I cannot believe it.)

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After the museum we walked to one of our favorite restaurants, the Crepery. I don’t know about Travis but it’s the best food I’ve had in Fairbanks. I got the Mediterranean crepe and it was stuffed with cheese, tomatoes, and green olives. We ‘split’ a creme brulee crepe. I say ‘split’ because I only snagged a few bites before Travis devoured it.IMG_3423

We even gave baby a few bites! I was holding out to give him sugar on his first birthday, but it was so good and he kept trying to eat it so we gave him a few strawberry slices covered in creme brulee and whipped cream. He loved it.

While we were downtown we walked over to Kitchen Vixen to see what they have in stock. They are only open on the weekends and always post the cutest macarons on facebook. I’ve only had macarons once before so I wanted to try them again! The sea salt caramel was one of the best sweets I’ve ever had – by far. IMG_3425

Thank goodness yesterday was a feast day!

Saturday night we kayaked out to an area of Tanana Lake that’s only really accessible by boat. Baby and I picnicked while Travis fished. He loves being out on the water! We only kayak about 5-10 minutes with at a time as that seems to be the longest he will sit still before wanting to explore.
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I am excited for this week! I have so many projects I’ve been working on and things are really starting to take off. I’m organizing a free 5 day course on blog monetization that starts August 1st if you are interested sign up here. I’ve got a waitlist going for my bootcamp starting August 22nd, and we are hoping to hear back from Travis’s work about taking some time off for a few trips we want to take this Fall!

How was your weekend?