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Isn't it amazing that no matter what size a woman is, she is made to feel self conscious by society?

When I was in high school, I wanted so badly to make it to 100lbs. I didn't want to look too thin. My grandma to this day, points out that you can see my collar bone and I need to put some weight on. In college, I made it over 100 and found a nice comfortable weight around 115 for most of my adult life.

I eat whatever I want, and I don't have an extra pound to show for it. I was comfortable and happy, however I struggled to find clothes that fit me. Pants were fine- I always ranged from a 0 to a 4, but I could get them to fit because the majority of my weight is in my butt and hips.  Shirts on the other hand never fit me. Dresses, never fit me. I had to find 0's or XS's which can be hard to come by. I didn't fill them out and they just hung on me. It was very frustrating, although not something I really complained about to anyone other than my husband or my mom, because I know a million women would die to have that problem. When I looked in the mirror, though- I was happy. I didn't have any complaints.

 When I became pregnant I wasn't worried about gaining weight. I knew that gaining weight was simply healthy for me and my baby. The pounds added on pretty quickly though, and people felt free to tell me that they'd noticed. They told me how good I looked with weight on (implying that I hadn't looked ok before). It was so frustrating that people felt it was ok to comment about my weight, even if they did think they were saying something nice. I gained 50 pounds during my pregnancy. I went from 115 to 165. Again, it didn't bother me while I was pregnant. I loved the way my body looked pregnant and even felt sexy. But, I did feel the stares and hear the comments about how I finally had some curves and looked good.

Now that I am no longer pregnant, I have a whole new body. I've had this new body for 6 months now and it has taken some adjustment to say the least. I lost 20 pounds pretty quickly in the first few weeks, and that's it. I have plateaued at 141 pounds. Really it's not about the number on the scale. When I look in the mirror, I look different. I have fat now that I've never seen on my body before. I have a belly that, when I sit, hangs over my pants for the first time in my life. My thighs touch when I walk, and my butt jiggles. I can actually see fat ripples if I pinch my skin or squat down. The fat on my legs is oddly uncomfortable if I try and kneel on the floor to play with Caroline- so I sit instead. My joints spread during pregnancy and aren't returning to their normal location... so my shoulders are wider and my shoes are tight. My XS shirts no longer fit over my shoulders, much less over my belly.

My previous body may or may not return, but in the meantime- I need clothes to wear. So, I cleaned out my closet. I got rid of 90% of the things that don't fit any longer. My closet looked bare. I sold some, donated others. I only held on to my favorite of favorite shirts in case one day they fit again. I used the money I made on my old clothes to buy new ones. My shirts are now mediums. My bottoms are now a 6 or an 8. It's definitely a new body.

I cried when I got rid of my clothes. It was probably less about the clothes and more about the new image. I knew I definitely felt self conscious for the first time. My husband looked at me and didn't understand..."they are just clothes, and you are beautiful". Then we talked about how we don't want our daughter to feel self conscious. I was always happy with how I looked, and I want that for her as well. Which means- she needs a mom that's happy with her body.

I looked in the mirror the next day and realized something. This body gave me my beautiful daughter. This body did something so amazing. It grew a human being. It birthed a human being. It's nursing a human being. HOW FREAKING AMAZING IS THAT!?! I remember those kicks inside my belly, and feeling like it was so surreal. I know the science...but really, how can my body just grow a person? It is an amazing thing to think about.

So, now when I look in the mirror, or when I notice my belly is bulging over my pants, or that you can see I have a belly through my shirt... I smile. That's all evidence that I created a life. I am so proud to be a mama- and I have the "battle scars" to show for it. So if Caroline grabs at my belly one day and laughs as it jiggles, I am going to laugh too! And I am going to tell her that she made my beautiful body the way that it is, and that I am so proud of it. I'll tell her that this body gave me the greatest gift in the world, and that no matter what I weigh, what she weighs, or what any woman weighs... we are all so very beautiful.

No matter how good of a sleeper your baby is, or how awesome at eating solid foods, etc... they will always have those random moments where they can't fall asleep and are up half the night, or they refuse to take solids all day and you just don't know why.

Last night we had one of these helpless moments. Caroline wouldn't sleep. Instead of going to bed by 7:15...she was up until 11:30. That's right, I said 11:30pm! Nothing, and I mean nothing, was putting her to sleep.

You go through your mama checklist of what it could be...
  • Is she hungry?
  • Is she hot/cold/uncomfortable?
  • Is she not feeling well?
  • Does she have a dirty diaper that we missed?
  • Is she in pain?
  • Is she teething?
  • Does she just miss us?
  • Is she overtired? (eventually, even if she wasn't to begin with...the answer is yes)
  • And on and on...
In these moments we do anything we can to try and help our little ones get to sleep, and we play detective to solve the mystery of what's wrong. We wish that they could just tell us, or point to the source of the problem, something.

In these moments, even if we no longer rock our babies to sleep... we do on this night. We hold them and try and make everything better. It works, but then as soon as you set them down, they are screaming again. So you repeat.

In these moments, you check everything. You strip them down and check for rashes, check their temperature, run your finger along their gums to check for teeth poking out, notice they feel ever so slightly warm (probably from being held at this point), so you run a cool washcloth over their face and neck. You give them Tylenol and gripe water, just in case. You feed them, just in case. You hold them. Eventually, you try and put your baby down again so she can sleep, but the moment you lay her in the crib, she screams.

In these moments, you realize that you are now far from your "routine", so maybe your baby is confused. Maybe since she always puts herself to sleep, she doesn't know what's going on. So you let her cry for a few minutes hoping she'll put herself to sleep. You realize that wasn't the problem. So you hold, rock, snuggle, rub her back and repeat.

In these moments, your husband eventually gets her and brings her into your room. She needs a break from the crying and so do you guys. So he places her between the two of you. She's happy. Content. Silent.

In these moments, you look at your peaceful baby lying next to you, and are relieved that nothing is really WRONG. You realize that if she's content just sitting here with you, then she's not in pain, she's probably feeling fine- at least not horrible, and she's happy to be with you. At this point she is just overtired, and whatever kept her up in the beginning of all of this has most likely subsided. Maybe the Tylenol worked, or maybe the gripe water. It honestly doesn't matter- the only thing that matters is that she's OK. You breathe.

In these moments, you let her drift off to sleep. You wonder if you should dare move her back to her crib, or if she should just sleep here, in your bed tonight. You think of all of the dangers, though. Your husband that sleeps so soundly he might roll over, the dogs that jump on the bed in the middle of the night might not notice her. You know you won't get any sleep- but does that really matter if she's sleeping? You also know that she will sleep so much better if she is in her crib. And that at 3am when your husband gets up for the day, you don't want her to wake up because she hears him. So it's decided- you'll move her. But you wait.

In these moments, you wait until you know she's in that deep sleep. You wait even longer because you are going to hate yourself if the transfer is not smooth and wakes her up. Then you just do it. You stand up and assess the situation. You look at how she's positioned and figure out the best way to lift her without waking her. She's in the middle of a king sized bed, so you have to lean way over to get to her. You slide your hands underneath her body so gently and quietly. And then you lift. Her body is heavy and limp and so you smile! She is fast asleep. You walk down the hallway, and your foot brushes against a pair of shoes that were left there. This little noise, causes her to flinch. You stop in your tracks and hold your breath. She's still sleeping, so you move again. You make it to her room only to realize you are holding her backwards- and it does matter, because her mattress is elevated on one side due to her reflux. You contemplate if you should try and twist your arms around to lay her down, or if you should lay her down and then re-lift and reposition her. You decide to twist and it's awkward, but you do it. She's still asleep. You stand there for a moment. All you want to do is give her a kiss- but you don't dare.

In these moments, you can't wait to see her in the morning. You go in and she is as happy and silly as ever. She is fine. Ironically, she has turned herself "backwards" in the crib, despite all the arm twisting you did last night to make sure she was positioned correctly. You laugh. You give her a kiss and a hug (or several), and tell her how much you love her. You cross your fingers that tonight goes better- and still wonder what on earth was wrong. You'll never know. And most likely, she'll be fine tonight and go back to her normal routine. She'll put herself to sleep in 5 minutes and she won't need you. You'll secretly wish you were getting baby snuggles- but know to be careful what you wish for...

When I am out and about with Caroline, I run into other mom's and they seem to expect me to act a certain way since I am a "first time mom". Mom's inform me that I will "get more relaxed with baby number two". Then they seem surprised when my baby drops something on the floor and I hand it right back to her without wiping it off with antibacterial wipes. It sometimes gets me wondering... how relaxed will I be with baby #2...because I already feel pretty relaxed about things!

Society seems to project a worried, strict first time mom personality, and I am almost made to feel awkward at times because I haven't done some of these things...

1. A toy must be washed once it has fallen on the floor

So this is the science background in me, but exposing my baby to germs and bacteria is a good thing. The more she is exposed to, the better her body will know how to handle it. She will build immunity, instead of shocking her system when she is FINALLY, one day exposed to bacteria. Dirt is a very good thing! So when that toy falls, I just pick it up and hand it right back.

2. People must wash their hands before holding your baby

See #1. You don't need to wash your hands to touch my baby. Unless you are sick...then you can definitely not touch or hold my baby. If you've been outside planting and your hands are a mess...totally fine. My baby has probably been sitting in dirt while I watered my plants that day.

3. You must take a diaper bag the size of Mt. Everest with you everywhere you go

This one seems to surprise people and I never realized this was a first time mom stigma. I have a normal sized diaper bag. Honestly, a couple of days ago I looked in it and realized there weren't even any diapers. OOPS. Usually there are 2 diapers, some wipes, some toys, an outfit change and now that Caroline is eating solids- some snacks. I'm not carrying the world on my back, and I figure if I am out and desperately needed something that I didn't have, odds are I could find what I needed at a store. We never need to do diaper changes while we are out though... we plan around our daily it's a rare moment that we'd be caught needing to.

4. Your baby should never fall

Sometimes I feel the judgment on this one. When Caroline was learning to sit, if she could fall onto a nice cushy surface (grass, carpet, etc.)... I let her fall over (not every time...but a few times for sure). I wanted her to learn that she needs to support herself. She only did this for a few days before she quickly realized she better learn how to hold herself up. She's an awesome sitter now. I got some looks for this one though, and at one point another mom put her hands out, but then informed me that "I'd be more relaxed with baby number 2"... I wondered to myself "Had she not noticed that I just let my baby fall over? Can I get more relaxed than that for baby #2? If so, my poor baby #2 is going to be falling on concrete or something".

5. Your baby should never cry

People seem to expect me to run to my baby if she's crying. They hand her back to me the second she cries. My response is usually to wait a few minutes if someone else is holding her. I obviously go to my baby and hold her and comfort her, but I might finish what I'm doing first sometimes, and I am perfectly ok with you trying to console my baby...if you want to... don't feel the need to rush over with her for my sake. Especially my family. I trust you. Have at it! Caroline has learned how to put herself to sleep, she has learned that if she wakes early from a nap she should go back to sleep, and she also knows that I'll be there for her whenever she needs me...but there's a balance, and she can also learn that grandparents and aunts and uncles can comfort her too.

6. Your baby should always be cutely dressed with a bow in her hair

I have felt inadequate as a mom sometimes...sitting in the pediatricians waiting room...all the cute little girls in dresses, leggings and bows and cute shoes when they don't even walk yet. My baby was always dressed in sleepers- no bow. They zip and unzip in one easy motion. This means diaper changes are easy...and diaper changes happen every 2 hours. So I'm looking for easy. Caroline is just barely getting dressed in cute outfits... and she is 6 months old.

7. You can't handle going out on your own

I was nervous the first time and was glad that I had my husband with me. We went to target when Caroline was 1 week old. We figured it out. I knew that it would only get harder to "deal" with as she got I just started going out. I went out every week in the beginning, and by month 3 I was going out every day to do something. Going out saves my sanity. I can only do so much around the house before I go stir crazy. Caroline agrees...she loves people watching!

8. You can't handle bathing your baby on your own

Once that first big poop explosion happens...the kind that you just need to bathe your baby...there might not be an option to have help. This happened to me right after my husband was back to work and my parents had gone back home. I had no help. I also didn't have time to be nervous- I had a poop covered baby. It was not easy, but I just had to do it. Once I had to do this, I figured I'd keep it up. I started bathing her on my own and it got easier and easier. Now, its easier to do on my own than to have my husband help. I just make him take his turn at bathing her too :)

9. You should bathe your baby every day

See #1. Germs are good. Dry skin is also not a good thing, and bathing too frequently will cause dry skin. My baby isn't sweating and running around, and doesn't have adult hormones causing her to smell... she's fine to go a few days.

10. You wipe down shopping carts, door handles, high chairs, and everything when you are out

See #1.

So with all the "first time mom" things that I don't do...if I really do get more relaxed with baby number 2... well, poor baby #2! Honestly, I feel like I'll be about the same. Baby number 2 is going to force me to be more relaxed with my baby schedules, though... that I do know. I am hoping we have a few years between the two kids, though. We really want to enjoy Caroline before adding to the family...and I love the difference in age between my sister and I. We were 4 school years apart. We didn't get in each other's way, but were close enough in age to enjoy one another. We are very close as a result. Having a few years will help me to implement my schedules easier as well ;)

My husband and I were looking through pictures of Caroline last night. It is amazing how much she's grown and developed in just 6 months. Her facial features have matured from that baby look, into more of a glimpse of her little girl look :) She has sprouted from 7 lbs 6oz, to over 16lbs (we find out at her 6 month appointment today what she weighs exactly). She has learned to communicate with us, and she understands certain phrases that we say to her. She has learned to grab toys and pass them from one hand to the other, she has learned to sit all on her own, she puts herself to sleep, sleeps all night long, and loves to eat solid food. She chews and opens her mouth when I say "big mouth please". She is so very smart.

Her personality shines through more and more each day. She is a little dare devil! She likes to sit quietly and observe, but when it's playtime, she absolutely LOVES being thrown around! She loves to fly high, zoom from side to side, flip upside down, and jump around. When this girl decides to walk and run she is going to keep me on my toes! She has such a sweet side too. She gives kisses to us and her stuffed animals. She snuggles in when she's tired and melts our hearts.

When she first arrived into our lives, we cried tears of joy, and the instant love we felt for her was immense. I suddenly knew exactly how much my parents love me, and I also realized that she won't understand our love for her until she has a baby of her own one day.

Over the last 6 months, it has been such an amazing experience welcoming her into our home and our hearts. She fits right into our lives, as if she was always a part of our family. She is silly, lively, sweet, intelligent, and simply an amazingly beautiful person. Our lives revolve around her now and it has been the best 6 months I could have ever dreamed of.

My family is my whole world now. I went from working full time, to being home full time with my wonderful daughter. I am so incredibly glad that I made this decision, and that we were able to make this work. There is nowhere I'd rather be. I get to be the first person to see her smile every morning, and I see her literally learn new things every single day. I am so thankful that I get to be a part of every second of her life.

Each month I've been writing in her baby book. I thought it was interesting when I looked back at her milestones:

MONTH 1: lifts head, moves head from side to side, rolled over once (on accident), more awake time, good at sucking, eats like a piranha, loves bath time and being held

MONTH 2: starting to drool, real smiles and giggles, very alert and responsive, loves naked baby time and time on the changing table, sometimes only wants mama

MONTH 3: talking a lot, swatting at toys, trying to grab toys, loves standing on  mama and changing table time

MONTH 4: holds toys in both hands and directs them to her mouth, follows noises and people, responds to name more frequently, great head control, loves to be tickled (neck and belly), loves tummy time, talking, naked baby time, and looking around

MONTH 5: eating solid food, rolled over once on purpose, passes toys from one hand  to another, grabs toys near you, responds to conversation, loves bouncer, solid food, flying high, storytime, and the dogs 

MONTH 6: sitting all by herself, chewing small bites, grabbing feet with hands, talking, testing vocal cords, loves flying, going upside down, eating food, petting the dogs, and going out (gets bored easily at home now even when being entertained)

What an amazing six months! I can't wait to see what the rest of this year will bring!

We have been introducing one food at a time, all have been purees, spoon fed etc. About a week ago Caroline started trying the puff. She gnawed on it very well and proved to have good chewing skills! As a result, my goal is to take some of her favorite foods and give them to her in small bite sizes, instead of pureeing them.

 Her absolute favorite food is bananas. So, I've been cutting up small pieces of bananas and giving them to her to try. She eats them, but is not quite as thrilled about it in bite size form. Since the puffs went so well, I also picked up some baby cookies and teething wafers. She really enjoyed the cookie, but it made such a mess. These are dissolvable cookies, so it was all over her hand and face as well! She ate it though, and of course she didn't mind the mess! The teething wafers were her favorite (and mamas too)! These don't make such a mess. It is about the length of a graham cracker and actually smells like one too. I was expecting this wafer to take her all day to was I wrong! It was gone in about 2 minutes! Definitely planning on keeping these around!

Yesterday, she also got to try strawberries. I was obviously a tiny bit nervous about this, as this is one of the foods that they can be highly allergic to. She definitely doesn't have a reaction at all in terms of allergies...but man she did NOT like it! Gagged and spit it right back out. I tried again today and got the same reaction, so we'll be putting this one on hold for now!

When we are eating our food, Caroline is always incredibly interested and opening her mouth for some to try. I'm finding it hard to let her try things that we eat, because it is always a mixture of things and I want to know exactly what she is eating so I can pinpoint any reactions she might have. Eventually, I'll have to get over this, but for now, I'm still trying to do one item at a time. I am finding it hard to resist, though as she is very interested! Yesterday we had philly sandwiches and mine was made with chicken. This is one of the meats she can try now! So, I found some pieces of chicken in my sandwich that weren't covered with cheese and mayonnaise and she got to try some! She gobbled it right down and seemed to really enjoy it! Looks like I'll be making some chicken for her to have at home!

I think at this point she is ready to really start trying some finger foods and real food! She has her 6 month appointment this week, so I'll be talking to the doctor about this, but have a feeling we'll be moving forward with food pretty quickly at this point!

Every day, Caroline and I try to get out of the house and do something. Some days it is a playdate with other mamas and babies, others a nice walk outside, maybe storytime at the library, or a shopping trip. When we do get together or meet other mamas and babies, I love seeing the unique differences and strengths of each baby!

We've all read the list of milestones our baby should have reached at each month, etc. In fact, nowadays we get email updates sent to our inbox reminding us of where our baby should be! Sometimes our baby is behind those predictions, sometimes ahead and sometimes right on "schedule". These are just estimates. I see and hear so often that parents are worried when their baby is not adhering to this perfect schedule of events that is "supposed" to occur. I have fallen into this trap as well. The reality is it is just a guideline and nothing to seriously worry about!

In the past week, I've met babies that are close in age to Caroline: 4 months, 7 months, 3 months, 5.5 months, and another 4 month old baby. Caroline is 6 months old. It was interesting to me when watching all of these babies. They all had their unique strengths and things they had been focusing on. One of the 4 month old babies was attempting to crawl , head down, but she was getting places! She hated the idea of sitting! She was also a fantastic roller! The 7 month old baby was sitting and reaching far in front of her body to grasp toys, she wasn't interested much in the other babies. The 5 month old is a great roller, but totally content to lay or lean against mama and observe (while he gets 4 teeth)...yes 4 teeth! The 3 month old baby loved her tummy time.

When Caroline was 2 months old, she started sitting with support and practicing her standing legs. These were her favorite things to do! Caroline has rolled once in each direction, and it was very purposeful. She was trying hard and succeeded! She hasn't cared to roll since. This was when she turned 5 months old. So, she can roll if she really wanted to, but she just doesn't care to. In the last week, however, she has learned how to sit...all on her own and isn't wobbly at this point at all! This is now her favorite thing to do! She also loves storytime. This is probably one of her favorite activities. She smiles and talks and laughs the WHOLE time. She sits in the beginning while others are walking in. She watches them intently. When storytime starts, however, she wants to be up on those standing legs of hers and bouncing around! She makes eye contact with the storyteller the entire time and just has a BLAST! I seriously wish they had these every week. I also wish I could record her somehow, because it is just the cutest thing in the world. I love seeing how engaged she is.

As I looked around at the babies at storytime, I noticed they were all doing something different. Some were focused on their parents, or their toys, or in their own little world. Some had a hold of their mamas keys, and some were looking at babies near to them. And some, like Caroline were ready to be running around like the toddlers! It is just so amazing to me to see the different personalities that are already shining through.

Babies choose to focus on certain skills and they put all of their energy into learning that one thing. It is so amazing to see how they do this, and what they choose to focus on! With all of the information at our hands, it is hard for parents to not be reading up on where their child should be and start comparing and worrying. I have definitely had some moments of worrying that Caroline isn't rolling yet. Then I look at all she is learning, though, and I can clearly see that she will get around to it when she feels like it.

I started this blog literally less than 2 weeks ago.

My two main goals:
- Record everything so I can remember it for future additions to our family
- Get information out there for other mamas in case it might help them out

I know that it is a long shot to have a blog be successful... to be so successful that when people do a google search, it would pop up as a resource for them. Still, though...I decided it was worth the time to write this blog. Even if it only helps a few other mamas- that's a few mamas that got some help! 1000 views is so miniscule in the scheme of things in the blogging world. When I woke up this morning to see that stat, though...I was ecSTATic! (sorry, I had to through some of my nerdiness in here) LOL Can you tell I was an engineer and chemistry teacher? haha

It really made my day though, to see that so many people have been able to get access to my blog. I have also had a few mamas message me for one on one help. This has been so rewarding. I have been able to give them ideas and answer questions at a moments notice...and it has helped them! This is above all, the best feeling in the world.

I've put my teaching career on hold at the moment in order to take care of my daughter full time. Perhaps my teacher side is coming out, but I am just loving being able to pass on our successes with others. It has been an honor to be talking to such amazing mamas as a result of this blog. I hope that it continues and I can continue to spread this help to more and more people!

My baby is nearly 6 months old now. Meaning -  I am NO EXPERT in babies by any means. This is my first baby and we are only half a year into it. So, as I write this blog, please know that I am in no way trying to claim I know what's best! I only know what has worked for MY baby. And I know that at least 4 other mamas have had success following our schedules and ideas because they've taken the time to share their success with me. It's nothing really...but it's also HUGE. It means the world to me.

I looked at my husband last night and said "this is probably so silly and such a waste of my time". While Caroline is napping, I write every day and add new information to this blog, and in the back of my mind I know the reality...that it is hard to get blogs out there. It is hard to get blogs accessible. 1000 views is small to the big bloggers, but it is a great feat for me! This blog will be my lifeline when we have baby number 2, it will be really special for our children to look back on, and so far it is helping other mamas get some ideas of things to try and some much needed rest! So I know this is not a waste of my time. It is an amazing opportunity for me that I am so glad to have taken on! I am so very glad that I convinced myself to move forward with this, and am so thankful for all the support! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!

Please continue to reach out to me. Find me on our facebook pages! I would love to hear your stories, your questions, your suggestions and your successes!

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Why am I doing sleep training with my kids?

Those of you that do sleep training like myself- we often need a reminder of the reasons. In the throws of CIO, every cell in your body feels like it's crying along with your baby, and it is easy to lose sight of the reasons behind this difficult choice that we've made. We all know that we need a plan going in, so that we don't give in and change plans mid cry- because it is so easy to do! We have all second guessed ourselves and gone against our plan, only to realize that we made things worse and prolonged our misery along with the baby's. Occasionally, there are set backs and we have to retrain so to speak. It get's easier and quicker each time, though. Sometimes, in the moment, when my baby is crying, however....I need a reminder of my choices as well!

Those of you that are cringing at even reading the words and you are very anti cri it out- I know that your answer to the question above most likely has something to do with me being a selfish mom. Well, yes there are some selfish reasons, but there are a lot of other reasons as well. But I'll start with my most selfish reason...

So as a reminder to myself, and for some insight to those of you that are maybe thinking of trying it, or as a glimpse of understanding for those of you that are completely against it... here are my reasons:

1. The obvious "selfish" reason-

My husband and I get more sleep, and we get some alone time together. My husband gets up at 3am for his job most days, so he goes to bed early. He is an awesome dad and an amazing husband, so if our baby is up, he'd most likely be up with us. I'd like him to get some rest before 3am rolls around.

Using this technique helps our baby fall asleep on her own if she happens to wake in the middle of the night, so it prevents us from having to get up as well. Again equaling more sleep for us and also for her. The more sleep we get, the better we can be at parenting. We will be more patient, and have more energy.

Another added benefit is that we have more time. Because she can now put herself to sleep, my husband and I get a tiny bit of alone time in the evenings. We get to be husband and wife instead of mama and daddy. And let's face it...we all need a little time to just enjoy our significant other! Lately, we sneak downstairs and enjoy some oreos and milk and some good laughs. So we might be adding on a few pounds, but we are having a fabulous time!

2. The baby gets more sleep-

We did CIO at 4 months as our doctor had recommended. Her naps and nights benefited greatly from this. She goes to sleep SO quickly for naps (within a minute or so), and most nights she goes to sleep without any crying at bedtime. It takes her  5-10 minutes before she is completely out at night. She sleeps longer for her naps, and she sleeps longer at night (7pm to 7am). If she wakes in the middle of the night, she rarely cries, she just puts herself back to sleep. Now, if she cries, its out of the ordinary, so I know something is wrong and I respond accordingly. She went from having 30/45 min naps, to having longer more restful naps of 2 hours. This means she is getting into her deep sleep cycles, which means she is happier when she wakes.

3. Happy baby

Since we started sleep training, she has been so well rested and so happy. Because she is sleeping so well, she has more energy to learn and observe during the day. I have seen a definite change in her. She is never upset because she is tired (unless for some reason I cause us to get off schedule- which rarely happens). If she is upset I know it is due to some other reason.

4. Healthy baby

We all need sleep. Babies need something like 12 hours of sleep. It get's slightly less as we age, and adults need 8 the last I heard. We are all getting that amount of sleep in our house - except for daddy. I think this will likely continue for our family as Caroline grows because she will know how to sleep well, and she will be accustomed to her early bedtime.

5. Routine and schedules are good for us and baby

Caroline knows exactly when her naps and bedtime are. She tells me that she's ready if I forget and she's not even 6 months old! She also tells me if we need to adjust our schedule. Caroline pretty much builds her own schedules because I watch her cues and she tweaks what I've put together. She knows what she needs and she lets me know. Then we stick to the schedule until she grows out of it. So, for her to be able to go to sleep at the same time every day give or take 5 minutes, helps her to know what to expect. Sleep training has helped us stick to these schedules so well. She is in bed by 715pm every night and sleeps all night long.

If you are interested to see how sleep training went for us, visit the sleep training page!

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In the first month of Caroline's life, another mama that I had been talking to introduced me to the Wonder Weeks. If you haven't heard of this before, the quick version is that every baby goes through the same mental developments around the same time in their lives. They experience sudden changes in their mental developments- these are called leaps. The Wonder Weeks is a book that describes what these changes are and predicts the time that they will happen in your babies life. There is a book and an app. I would highly recommend both. The book goes into detail about the developments and changes occurring in your little one. The app is a summarized version, but it allows you to track when these changes are occurring, very easily. The time frames that are predicted, have been SPOT ON for Caroline! The book predicts when your little one will be in what they call a "fussy phase".

Caroline is currently in her 5th leap. It is the "leap of relationships". She will learn that things can be further away- mama can be further away, toys, etc. She will be much more aware of when I leave the room, or when a toy is out of her grasp.

I usually read about these leaps right before Caroline is about to enter it. I file the info in the back of my mind, and watch for clues that she is experiencing this. Well, leap 5 has been obvious! Our sleep training has gone out the window at the moment! Actually, that's an exaggeration. The sleep training is still working in some ways. She is still sleeping through the night. That is HUGE. What is struggling this week, her being able to put herself to sleep at night. She did this so well for several weeks. Now, she is so aware of the fact that we are far away, that she is starting to cry and scream the minute I start walking towards the door! Thank you leap 5! haha

I am not strong enough to let my baby cry and scream for very long, so I have been going back in the room and helping her get to sleep. I have heard from other mamas that this phase passes, and they easily go back into their normal routine of putting themselves to sleep. So, while Caroline is in this extra fussy leap... I am going to help her however she needs.

I am noticing these changes during the day too. She is learning so much right now, that she is getting tired earlier. I still manage to keep her on schedule by 15 minutes or so, but she is definitely losing a lot of her energy just learning. The biggest change this week is she has learned how to sit! However, my once calm, quiet baby, is now crying and screaming when she drops a toy! If I give it back to her, she is happy again. I'm trying to show her that she can reach the toy still, so that she learns that she can still get to it, but honestly this week seems to be really taking it toll on for the most part I am simply helping her out.

Once these mental developments settle in, I will start working on getting her to put herself to sleep again, and not give her the toys immediately so that she can learn to grab them herself. I am so glad that I have had the Wonder Weeks as a resource, though...otherwise I feel like I would be so lost and confused as to why my little observer has turned upset all of the sudden! Through all of her tears though, it is amazing to see all that she is learning!

One thing that hasn't waivered this week (amazingly), is her naps. The nap training that we did is working so incredibly well! She still puts herself to sleep for naps with NO crying at all. She is asleep within 1-2 minutes. She's been waking a tiny bit early this week, but she is still getting good lengthy naps. I am so glad that I put the time in to do the nap training with her. I certainly can't imagine what this week would be like if she wasn't getting good naps!

We've all heard these words before. If we can just do things the way we want them done in the beginning, we will avoid having to change bad habits or correct things later. Well, sometimes this is easier said than done, and sometimes it really is easy if we think of it in time!

Last night my husband said "You know, we know when she's going to poop, so why don't we just put her on the toilet?". Of course! Why wouldn't we? We've heard all about potty training, and training pants, and those little potties for kids. But, he's right...why would we wait if we can do it now? She has predictable pooping schedules, so it would be pretty easy to just plop her on the toilet and let her poop there! I, of course, have no idea when she is peeing yet (at only 6 months old), but I sure know when she's about to poop- not only does she have a pooping schedule, but she also grunts and get's all red me ample time to strip her butt down and set her on the toilet!

This got me thinking of all of the things that I could be "starting as I mean to go on":

  1. Pooping in the potty- We started this morning. She usually poops during breakfast, so I watched her closely. She gave a tiny grunt, so I immediately stopped feeding her, took her diaper off and set her on the toilet and waited. She looked around in amusement since she'd never been in this place before. Once she had taken it all in, she started grunting and trying again. PLOP! There it went into the toilet! My little girl (6 months old), just used the big girl toilet. We are definitely going to continue this! I haven't decided yet if I want to get a potty for her, or just add one of those little seats to the big toilet...although if we are "starting as we mean to go", I guess I just decided we will be using the little seats that connect to the main toilet. Why have to transition her later from her little potty to the big girl potty? Decision made! :) This will mean less cleaning for mama as well!
  2. Making a mess at the table- Ok so this one may be inevitable, but I can help my cause a little bit! A few weeks after we started feeding her solid food, Caroline decided she wanted to help. Well, she can't direct the spoon to her mouth very well yet, and this makes a mess. So I decided to not let her do this until she was better suited to do so. We let her hold the spoon when we are done for now so she can get used to it. She also started taking her hands and wiping them on her mouth, getting them full of food and wiping them all over her face and hair. Well, this is never something we want her to do! I started working with her. Every time she would lift her hand to her mouth, I would say "no hands please" and she has learned pretty quickly to not do this! Sometimes we did this what felt like 30 times in one feeding, but she rarely tries now! We are starting to give her finger foods now (those little puffs, etc.) and we are showing her how to grab them and put them in her mouth. Hoping this doesn't confuse her! LOL
  3. Drinking from a cup- Caroline requested to do this on her own one day. I was drinking from my glass of water, and she opened her mouth and put her hands out. I was surprised, but decided to let her try some water from my glass. We've been doing it ever since, and we now give her her own little plastic cup during solid feedings. We have to pour it in her mouth obviously, but she drinks quite well from normal cups! She also practices with straw sippy cups so when we are out she can have a drink. We started this at 3.5 months old!
  4. Not everything is a toy- I didn't mind if she grabbed my phone at first. Sure, I thought...go ahead and try and hold something. I then started thinking ahead to when she grabs and throws and chews on things. I don't want my phone involved. So, now I am consciously thinking about what she is grabbing. I don't want her to learn that my phone can be a she is not allowed to hold it.
  5. Showering - Eventually, I don't want to have to bathe her in the bathtub. I want her to get in the shower with me and we'll get everything done together. I've heard stories of little ones being so scared to get in the shower because it is new to them. When she was really young (a few weeks old) we'd take her in the shower just to expose her to it. It was way too hard to wash her while holding her, so we still used the infant tub in the sink for that. Now that she is sitting (but not quite stable enough to sit in the tub unassisted), we bought a bath ring. She sits in the ring, and I give her a bath in the big girl tub! I am going to continue using this ring even when she sits well, so she learns she needs to be seated, not standing and playing in the tub. We also have one of those shower heads with the long hose, so I turn it on and rinse her and get her wet with the shower head. This way she knows what it is and she actually seems to really enjoy it!
  6. Putting yourself to sleep in your own room- I never officially did co-sleeping because I didn't want to make that a habit. I want my own adult bed to be shared with just my husband and my husband agrees! There were a couple of moments early on that she simply wouldn't sleep unless I held her- so we co-slept in the extra bed mostly...but not my bed during the nights. I also wanted her to learn to sleep in her own room, so at 6 weeks, she started sleeping in her crib in her own room. I also wanted her to learn to put herself to sleep and have good sleeping habits, so we helped her develop these qualities over time, and at 4 months we went all in with sleep training.
  7. Individual play time- I keep meaning to do this! I try it on occasion, and I do better than I'm probably letting on, but there is only so much awake time during the day, and I want to play with her! I am trying to, however, once a her in her playard and give her official independent playtime. I don't want her to always have to be entertained by someone- she needs to learn to play by herself at times. What I have always done is given her space. When she is having floor time, tummy time, etc... I tried to walk away at times and just let her try things. She seemed to try more things when I was not hovering all of the time. And then, of course, we have playtime together...this happens more frequently than not. I just want to keep in the back of my mind that I want her to be exposed to independent playtime from the start.
  8. Baby led weaning- I did research on baby led weaning before our baby had even arrived. I was on board and going to do this. When reality struck, scared me. I am scared of her choking on something, and I don't like the lack of structure to this. So at 4 months I started making baby purees. She is almost 6 months old and I have now introduced the puff! That was scary in and of itself! Now that she is chewing well though, I am feeling more comfortable with the idea of giving her foods from our plates to try- or in my case it might be more me cooking something specifically for her that is a real meal for her to try.  I do plan on incorporating some of this, however, because I want her to get used to chewing, and to grabbing finger foods, etc. I want her to be exposed to lots of foods as well, and we will not always be making her a separate meal of her own. It would be nice if she can eat from our plates sooner than later. So, I think I'm going to do baby led weaning kind of half way if that makes sense!


So I have to write about this teething stick! A mama on facebook recommended this as a good item to purchase to help babies through teething. I checked it out and it looked pretty awesome to me as well. I purchased two of them when Caroline was around 3 months old.

Caroline was just barely starting to grab at toys, and was having difficulty with most- but not with this stick! Caroline grabbed right on and took this everywhere! She was able to get it in her mouth and chew on it as well! We ended up leaving one in the car, and as soon as we'd put her in the car seat she'd reach out for it when I handed it to her. If we were going on a walk, she held it while she was in her stroller the ENTIRE time. Of course, we also kept one in the house for her to play with as well!

Everywhere I went, mama's that saw this stick were amazed and asking me what it was! I have literally given the information to probably 30 people- some I knew and some were just random strangers that were interested! We love it so much that we bought more!

Can I just say that Caroline isn't even teething yet!?! I can't imagine how helpful these will be then! The teething rings that go in the freezer were hard for Caroline to grasp at first...some of them are better but the shapes can be odd to hold onto, and she can't get them into her mouth where she wants them. So she usually just throws it back down. These she can get back far enough to enjoy chewing, but it has an anti-choking ring so she can't do anything but gag herself...she learned within a week or so not to do that.

I am so not getting paid to write about these- I just love them that much that I had to dedicate a post all to them! I think I may need to buy stock in these soon LOL

HERE IS THE LINK to buy them at amazon if you are interested. It is only $10 for 2 of them, which I think is well worth the money!

If you are interested in seeing some of the other must haves for baby that I put together, visit my MUST HAVE LIST FOR BABY PAGE!

The busy season is getting underway and I wont see much of my husband for the next 90 days or so. My husband is an incredibly hard worker and he is on call 24/7 for his job. He works every single weekend, all year round and only takes vacation in the winter. Even during that vacation he is in touch with work. You are probably thinking he is a doctor or someone really important for the demands to be so high. Well you are right. He is someone that is really important. He is one of the most important people in my life and in Caroline's life, and yes he is important at work as well. He is a doctor of sorts...

My husband is a Golf Course Superintendent. He is a doctor of grass. His job is preventative medicine (keeping disease and fungus away), his job is to heal (for those unfortunate moments that disease does hit), his job is to protect (those hot summer days that the grass can't hide in the shade or get a drink of water on its own), and his job is to anticipate what this living thing will need at all times. The grass is living and needs help to do so. There are people trampling all over it playing-golf, and this living thing is outside all day every day and needs help to survive. So on those windy, dry days, my husband is there giving the grass a drink. Golf course grass is more vulnerable due to the demands of the game and the shorter heights of the grass, and more. There is so much science behind all of this that my husband knows. I just barely know enough to be impressed and proud of my husband, and to be understanding when the job can pull him away at a moment's notice, and keep him away long hours during the demanding, hot summers.

I am so proud to have a husband that works so hard. My husband and I always strive to be better in our careers and our personal life. Caroline will see hard work in action. She will see dedication, responsibility, an amazing work ethic, and she will have high expectations of herself and those around her. I am so proud to have a husband that works so hard.

I am so proud to have a husband that is so family oriented. My husband may be exhausted from a long hard day outside, but he comes home and gives every last minute to me and Caroline and the dogs. He misses us while he's gone, and he doesn't always get as much time as he wants with us, but he makes the most of each moment. We do everything together. Other than him or I going to work, our neighbors have never seen us leave the house separately. We love spending time together even for the simple things like going grocery shopping. I am so proud to have a husband that is so family oriented.

I am so proud to have a husband that is such a good daddy. His face lights up when he sees Caroline. He worries about her, he plays with her, and he tells her that he loves her a million times a day. He comforts her so well. He is the only one that can hold her for quiet cuddles in the evenings, and he makes dinnertime something she looks forward to every day. She knew his voice the minute she was born, because he is such a good daddy he was talking to her long before she came out into the world. He fell in love the day she was born, and I fell more in love with him than I could have ever expected. I am so proud to have a husband that is such a good daddy.

I am so proud to have a husband that is my best friend. We support each other and have made it through some tough things with each other by our side. I don't have to speak for him to know what I am thinking. We can finish each other's sentences and we can talk without words. We enjoy doing all of the same things. We will never be the couple that has girls or guys night out. We want the other person there and things are so much more fun together. It's the little things that make our relationship strong. He makes me laugh harder than I've ever laughed. I am so proud to have a husband that is my best friend.

Every day, he kisses me goodbye in the early morning hours. I am awake enough to remember and respond, but drift back to sleep quickly. I smile every time I see him text or call to see how we are or to simply say 'I love you'. I am so lucky to have him in my life. And, yes, I literally feel myself falling more in love with him each day. Every time he looks at me, and every time he interacts with Caroline- I remember why I fell in love with him in the first place...not that I need any reminders. He has been so consistent and so strong. I love my little family so much.

There is a lot of judgment out there about the choices we make as mamas...and women are the worst at judging other women. This video was shared with me on facebook recently and it is too beautiful not to share on my blog!

Here's the thing: We all have our babies best interest at heart. We are all doing the very best we can. We will try things, we will succeed, we will change our minds, and we will have to tweak along the way. None of us are perfect. None of our babies are the same. None of our circumstances are the same. It is not for us to judge one another. If moms are judging other moms, who is out there to support us? This is THE hardest job in the world- raising another human being to be a beautiful person.


So let's SUPPORT one another regardless of the choices we make, because we all have made one choice that is the same- we all choose to love our babies!

I watched this video, and I am proud to say that I have made the choices that I have made. I am also proud to say that I will support you and all other moms who choose differently!

Here's what we (my husband and I) decided to choose:

  • We chose breastfeeding
  • We chose cloth diapers
  • We chose to have our baby sleep in her own room at 6 weeks
  • We will at some point feed our kids fast food
  • We chose for my new career to be a stay at home mom
  • We plan to choose public schools
  • We chose to use cry it out
  • We chose to babywear at my beco Gemini!
  • We chose to make most of our own baby food
  • We chose to let nature take its course- I ended up with a medical induction at 37 weeks, vaginal birth, with an epidural!
  • We chose to do what is best for us and our baby

Mama's Organized Chaos

This blog is all about my experiences as a mama! Getting our baby to learn day from night, sleep well, and be generally happy! I will tell the trials and errors and all of the successes along the way!

My name is Katrina Villegas. Just a little bit about me... I went to high school and college in Texas and attended Texas A&M University (WHOOP)! I majored in chemistry and quickly started work at a biotechnology company in Austin. My position as a lab tech transformed into a career as a process engineer. It was my job to streamline the process, increase quality, decrease cost, etc. It was all about efficiency! After about six years, I decided to get my master's degree in teaching. I attended Frostburg State University and started teaching high school chemistry that year. I taught for 3 years and absolutely loved it!

In the Spring of 2014 I was finally pregnant (we'd been trying for over a year and a half), and in November of 2014 my world changed. Caroline Villegas was born. She has become my whole world, my passion, my love. My husband and I agreed that I would stay home with her.

So here we are. I am a new mama and loving every minute of it. I am applying all of my engineering, teaching, and life experiences to making my new job go as smoothly as possible. My new career as a stay at home mom is challenging and so rewarding. I am constantly tweaking things and trying new things to give Caroline the best experiences. Sometimes (a lot of the time) it is trial and error and a whole lot of research and trust. With the internet at our hands these days, other new mamas like me look up everything and try to connect online. There is a lot of conflicting information out there! At the end of the day, the reality is you have to do what is best for you and your baby...and what worked great for one mom doesn't necessarily work great for another. There are certain things that I believe can work for everyone, though. So... this blog is meant to be a compilation of all the trials and errors and successes.

As an engineer we always said "don't reinvent the wheel" and "share best practices". That's the idea of this blog... these are my best practices so that you might not have to reinvent! :) There's also no getting around the fact that we somehow all have mommy brain I want to make sure that I remember my own best practices for baby number two someday! :)