Toddlers + Sleep (another update)

About 1.5 months ago I wrote this update on our toddlers sleep ‘shenanigans’ and told the internet world we were going to try an earlier bedtime for our kiddos in hopes that sleeping through the night would happen.

And let me just say… HUGE SUCCESS.

toddler-sleep-update

Irrelevant photo except this is how I feel about bedtime at our house. All chaos, all the time.

Clara has been going to bed ‘early’ (between 7-8pm) since early August and sleeping through the night, and Isabelle has had the same bedtime, and just last week she has started sleeping through the night!

I have all of the thoughts about this whole ordeal, so allow me to share some of them.

+ Having two kids go to bed at the same time is hard, so we try to keep Isabelle awake 30 minutes after we put Clara to bed. If one parent is away from the house, it’s a complete sh*t show. It’s probably ideal to have bedtimes a good hour apart, but we just can’t keep Isabelle awake that long, nor do I want to by the end of the day!

+ When we first dropped Clara’s nap, we were all miserable. She had a lot of big emotions that she couldn’t seem to regulate and it was making me lose my mind. However, after about 2 weeks, she got used to it and could make it easily through the day without having major meltdowns. I was going to give up and go back to naps after like two days of her being an emotional mess, but I’m glad I stuck with it because now she’s her happy self during the day and so ready for bed at night!

+ At 7pm(ish) each night, Clara asks to go to bed!(!!!!!!!) It is wonderful. Even when we were camping and it was super bright outside, she requested to go to bed and was looking forward to snuggling up and going to sleep. What a difference this is from a few months ago when we were doing everything we could to get her to bed before 11pm and still failing miserably.

+ As with all phases of parenting, I look back and I can’t even remember what life was really like when Clara was up until 11pm every single day. I think I blocked it from my memory. All I know is that when I can sit down at 8pm and know that my day o’ parenting is done, it’s magical. I won’t say it’s productive though, because I’m so tired that I’m usually pretty entirely unmotivated.

+ These ‘no nap’ days are hard. I would love it if Clara still took a nap so I could have time to really gather my thoughts and relax every afternoon, or at least clean the floor without someone creating a mess IMMEDIATELY, but alas, those days are gone. I’m going to work on having her do ‘quiet time’ in her room for an hour or so, but every time I’ve tried that recently she’s gone right to sleep and it messes up our bedtime schedule, so I’m still trying to figure out a system that works best for all of us, and mainly my sanity.

+ We really can’t take any credit for Isabelle sleeping through the night because it seems like she was waking up consistently for 2-3 hours in the middle of the night, and then one night she slept all of the way through, and now she’s been sleeping through the night every night for over a week! What the heck?!  We did transition to one nap during the day a few weeks before that, so maybe that helped? I have no clue, honestly, and I don’t care. Isabelle is sleeping which means we’re ALL sleeping and life is much happier.

+  I should clarify and say that of course we were trying not to take Isabelle out of her crib and we were ‘shhhhhh’ing and trying to put her down drowsy but awake so she could self soothe, and we were also sticking to as much of a routine as I could handle… but we had been trying those techniques for a long time before she all of a sudden decided she knew how to sleep. I really think everything we had been doing helped, but eventually she just figured out the art of self-soothing. We can hear her wake up every night (and usually during naps) but she cries out once and then goes right back to sleep.

We fully realize that these sleepy nights probably won’t last forever, so we’re enjoying them while they do!

Hopefully I can stop talking about sleep now! Phew.

Well, until the next sleep regression.

Wish us (continued) luck!

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Monday thoughts.

+ Clara started preschool today! She was so excited to be back with her friends and teachers and I’m excited to only have one kid on my hands for two mornings per week!

+ I was listening to a podcast (Mom Enough) that mentioned that each meal we feed our kids should have a produce and a protein. This sounds so simple but it was a good reminder for me! I’m also trying to adopt the same habits for my own meals/snacks.

+ I tried Le Tote for the first time the other week and really like it! I’m going to do a fuller review post in the future, but I think this is an especially good service for pregnant women or newly postpartum moms, because you can rent clothes for a month in a different size than you normally wear, and then send them back! I wish I would have done this when I was wearing maternity clothes.

+ We had so much freakin’ fun this past summer and I’m a little sad it’s over. However, I’m excited for fall and football and pumpkins and cooler air and blanket scarves and the leaves changing and just all of the things. But maybe after September, I would like to enjoy a warm September before the PNW rains begin!

plain-washington

+ Confession: I am awesome at buying gifts and cards and AWFUL at actually sending them. I just found a present for a good friend that I meant to send almost a year ago! (It’s a CHRISTMAS present! So embarrassing.) I blame this on the severe hatred I have for the post office and also the fact that I’m great at planning things but suck at executing tasks. I was created for management, I guess.

+ We just received great news today – Tim’s grandparents’ house in Florida was only minimally damaged by Hurricane Irma. We were concerned because they were right in the path of the storm and were evacuated to a high school in the area, but they are unscathed and should be able to move right back into their house! This was a big answered prayer for Tim’s family. We’re continuing to pray for all of those people in both Texas and Florida who weren’t so fortunate and are facing huge obstacles to rebuild after the storm.

+ I don’t want to jinx us but both of our girls are sleeping through the night!!!!!! For a week and counting! Clara has actually been sleeping great for a long time now (praise Jesus, it finally happened!) and Isabelle has evidently figured out that sleeping for 11 consecutive hours is the way to go. We realize that this is probably not the end of our sleeping woes, but we are enjoying this while it lasts.

I hope that preschool also means that this blog will be updated a little more frequently… one can hope! I love writing on here, but these days I am dead tired after about 6pm so when writing doesn’t happen during the day, it just doesn’t happen! Right now I’m appreciating a toddler at school and the other toddler passed out on the couch (she isn’t supposed to be sleeping but I’m letting it slide for this 45 minutes of peace). Ah, life is good.

How has the back-to-school transition been for you?

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A weekend at Lake Wenatchee

My idea of a perfect vacation has certainly changed over the years.

I used to plan really ‘aggressive’ trips for me and Tim. Like, before we got married I planned a trip that included Napa, Yosemite, San Francisco, a drive to LA, and then some beach towns in Southern California. All in one trip. It was exhausting yet SO FUN. For our babymoon we traveled to four countries in Europe and for our honeymoon we went to a few different continents. I actually love planning trips and adventures, and now that we live in the PNW, I’m pretty much always planning our next camping trip, hike, drive, or weekend getaway.

A weekend near Lake Wenatchee

But, alas, having toddlers has slowed us down quite a bit, and now my ‘perfect’ weekend involves activities that would be fun for the girls as well as myself + Tim.

So get us to a lake and we’re all super happy.

A weekend near Lake Wenatchee

This past weekend we crossed over the Cascade Mountain range to a town near Leavenworth, WA.

Highlights of the trip included:

Day 1: We rented a cabin (through Airbnb!) that is part of a community with a pool. We took full advantage and jumped in almost as soon as we arrived in the late afternoon.

A weekend near Lake Wenatchee

Day 2: We went on a short hike to Hidden Lake where the girls stripped down and went skinny dipping in the super clear and refreshing mountain water. Then in the afternoon we drove to Lake Wenatchee State Park and played in the water (again!) as a family. Two lakes in one day… toddler heaven.

A weekend near Lake Wenatchee

Day 3: We drove into Leavenworth to get a coffee at Argonaut, lunch at Yodelin Broth Co, and ice cream. We also went to a petting zoo which was a huge hit for the girls. They were able to feed llamas and cows and pigs and goats… what more could a 1 year old and 3 year old ask for?! (Seriously, if you’re in Leavenworth with kids, go to Smallwood’s Harvest and enjoy hours of entertainment!) We also went back to our community pool in the afternoon… because we’re on vacation and clinging onto every last second of summer.

A weekend near Lake Wenatchee A weekend near Lake Wenatchee
A weekend near Lake Wenatchee

Well meaning parents buy tickets to go on ‘cow train’ because OF COURSE the kids will love it! Kids scream for the last 5 minutes of the 7 minute ride. Lesson learned.

Day 4: We met up with some friends (who were also in the area for the weekend) for some pancakes, and then we went back out to Lake Wenatchee State Park for some paddleboarding. Thankfully, the entire lake was really calm and there were no crowds when we got there, so we were able to enjoy our morning in relative peace! Tim and I each took turns on the SUP and Clara even got out on the water with Tim while Isabelle and I sat in the water and played with rocks. Then after lunch and a nap for Isabelle, we played in the river in the back of our (rented) house.

A weekend near Lake Wenatchee

My mama heart is so happy when I see my kids having fun outdoors, and that’s what this long weekend was all about! I was a little concerned when I saw the weather forecast (highs in the upper 90s!) but it ended up being just perfect for us, even without AC. The girls had a blast playing in rivers, lakes, dirt piles, on playgrounds, and in the yard of our rental house. Plus, I’m in a way better mood when I spend a lot of time outdoors, too. Wins for everyone!

A weekend near Lake Wenatchee

Plus, Clara told me she never wanted to leave our “vacation house”, which is as much of a glowing endorsement as I’m going to get from her.

What’s your ideal vacation like these days?!

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100% extrovert, right here!

I was talking with friends the other day about friendship in general – specifically, introverts and extroverts.

I am an extrovert. Like, an off-the-charts extrovert. I actually have a hard time relating to introverts, even though a lot of my very best friends are quite introverted. (They’re social introverts, but almost all of my best friends define themselves as introverts.) Opposites attract… I guess?

Are you an extrovert or introvert?

Photo by Chad Madden on Unsplash

One of my friends defined herself as an extreme introvert, and mentioned that she can only have a certain number of good friends before she begins to feel overwhelmed. This is an outgoing, social person, so I found this whole concept super intriguing!

I, on the other hand, feel like I could never have too many friends. I mean sure, it’s impossible to be a “good” friend to a bijillion people, but I love trying! I genuinely enjoy meeting people, getting to know them, forming connections, having great conversation with people alike and different from me… the whole thing. I almost never feel overwhelmed by too many people and too many relationships.

This conversation made me wonder… do other people have ‘limits’ on how many friendships they feel comfortable investing in? Does it make a person less of a good friend to people because when they have many friendships they invest in, rather than only a few? Do introverts and extroverts tend to attract each other because of the balance in energies, or are most extroverts friends with extroverts and vice versa?

Help me out with these questions, people, I would love your insights!

Posted in being introspective | 2 Comments

Advice For Your First Backpacking Trip

Two weekends ago (wow, how has time gone by this fast?!) I went on my first backpacking trip, and I can’t stop thinking about it.

It was a great trip. I loved seeing the wildflowers, alpine lakes, gorgeous basin, and all of the hikers out on the PCT. I also loved sleeping under the stars and by a lake and living pretty simply for a few days. I even loved learning how to filter my own water! I was feeling very much like a survivalist even though the friend I went with basically did all of the work.

There are a few things I learned from my first backpacking trip that I would like to pass along to the masses in case any of you are considering going on your own backpacking adventure soon!

Advice for your first backpacking trip

Advice For Your First Backpacking Trip

+ Do some training.

Walking with a heavy bag is HARD and I should have trained for it. I was under the assumption that I was in decent enough shape to go the 20 miles (spread out over 2 half days and 1 full day) because I had done a few hikes with Isabelle on my back. Here’s the thing, Isabelle is a hefty 20 lbs but the pack was more like 35 lbs. That is a big freakin’ difference! Especially because I weigh all of 100 lbs so this bag was huge on me. I should have done a few trial runs to make sure I was up for the 20 mile trek.

+ Know your mileage limit.

Five miles is the maximum distance that I would like to do on any given day. This is personal preference, of course, but mentally I just wasn’t so great after the first 5 miles. Our second day we did about 11 and I was not a happy camper, because my shoulders and neck hurt (because of the pack) and I was TIRED. If I could have done it again, I would have hiked a few miles with the pack, set up camp, and then day hiked to whichever awesome trail/view I wanted to see.

+ Weigh your bag ahead of time.

My friend and I were in a bit of a rush to get on the trail, so we took all of our gear, threw it in the trunk of her car, and headed out to the trailhead. I wish, in retrospect, that we would have taken the time (a day or so ahead of time) to gather everything we were planning on bringing and weigh it in our packs (with water). This way we would have had the opportunity to ditch any gear (or replace it with lighter items) before we set out.

+ Do your research.

There are some great backcountry campsites and you can take advantage of them if you do your research ahead of time! My friend , whoI went backpacking with, loves the adventure of finding a random place to set up camp, but I am a planner and prefer to find an ‘actual’ campsite. If it’s your first time backpacking, I recommend you have a plan that includes where you want to camp and where you will be walking each day – and this plan should include places you know you will be able to fill up on water! You really, really don’t want to run out of water.

+ Don’t be too cheap/minimalist.

Have you heard of those backpackers who manage to hike the entire PCT with a 10 lb pack? You are not going to be that person on your first trip. While I think you should try to make your pack as light as possible, bring the things that you know will make you comfortable, and know that these things may also be a bit more expensive. For example, I know that I don’t like being cold when I sleep, so I borrowed a good sleeping pad from a friend and bought a warm sleeping bag. I also bought this inflatable pillow that I actually really liked. If you think backpacking may only be a one time thing for you, borrow your gear from a friend or rent it from REI or another sports store. However, if you think this is going to be your new ‘thing’, buy good, high-quality gear so that it will last you for many years and adventures!

+ Have fun!

I was fairly anxious about this backpacking adventure because I just didn’t know what to expect (and I certainly didn’t start out on a ‘beginner’ hike), but it was truly a great experience! I spent way, way, way too much time (per usual) researching the probability of me getting attacked by a bear or cougar, and of course the only wildlife we saw were chipmunks. (And I hope I never, ever need to use the knowledge I’ve acquired!) The point is, if you have the opportunity to go backpacking and sleep under the stars for a few nights – go! You’ll create some wonderful memories. Or horrible memories. Either way, you’ll remember the experience forever!

Advice for your first backpacking trip
Advice for your first backpacking trip

Now that I’ve gone backpacking once I already can’t wait to do it again. And I’m not even a typically ‘outdoorsy’ person! It was just so fun to be able to get away from it all and relax/sleep in places I would never normally be. Awesome stuff.

Have you gone backpacking? Would you consider it?

Posted in adventuring | 8 Comments