How I got my Baby to Take Naps

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I cannot believe I went through one full kid without knowing about these magical inserts that make babies sleep. I’m legitimately amazed at how it has transformed my afternoons. A couple of weeks ago, Preston would NOT take two naps and honestly, I was lucky to even get one (besides the lame 30 minute cat or car naps all moms just love).

Fast-forward to today and he’s a napping pro and it really did change as soon as this bad boy arrived; the DockATot Grand. You might be rolling your eyes at the fact that this is clearly a sponsored post, but guys I swear I will not put a product on my blog without really believing it’s cool or worth your while.

As soon as we put this thing in his crib, he instantly started napping two times a day – and he puts himself to sleep with ease. I’m not saying this is guaranteed to happen with ALL babies, but I do know two other mama’s who have had similar experiences.

I think there’s something about them feeling a little more secure while laying inside a DockATot. Cribs can seem a little large for babies; even a 12 month old like Preston. Also, crib mattresses are kinda hard (I’ve always thought that) and I think the DockATot provides Preston some comfort and a snuggle-factor that a crib mattress and sheet cannot.

If your baby already sleeps great, how nice for you. If you’re struggling to get your baby to nap (or even sleep through the night), I highly recommend you giving this product a try! It totally worked for us!

Xo,

Bethany

 

 

Hey Diddle Diddle 1st Birthday

First birthdays have always been a big deal, but millennial moms have taken it to a whole new level if you ask our Baby Boomer parents. What can I say? That’s just how we roll…

Preston’s first birthday was definitely not as detail oriented as his big brother’s was because it’s just harder to plan parties with two kids in tow (second child syndrome) and also, Preston had Croup just one week earlier so we were a little distracted.

Still, I wanted Preston to have a special first birthday.

I decided on a Hey Diddle Diddle theme because Preston gets particularly excited whenever he hears that nursery rhyme. It’s pretty adorable :).

I didn’t find a ton of Hey Diddle Diddle party ideas on Pinterest that I liked, so I sort of just threw this together. I picked some colors and ran with it — I threw in some Hey Diddle Diddle references here and there, but it was definitely understated because I just couldn’t spend the kind of time on this that I would have liked. I kept the menu easy by having a sandwich bar. The smash cake and cupcakes were made by my favorite Sacramento bakery, Freeport Bakery. Here are some pics for inspo in case you ever want to use this party theme!

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California Mom’s guide to Gibson Ranch Country Park

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“We passed through Sacramento on the way to Tahoe” was a statement I heard often during the six years I lived in Orange County and later, Los Angeles. It was said innocently, but it always kinda irked me because my hometown has so much more to offer than your average passer through town and I never understood why more people couldn’t make the distinction between Sacramento and say, Modesto (no offense to Modesto). Home to over a million residents, the Sacramento region has an NBA team, a United Soccer League team (there’s talk about them becoming an MLS team) and a minor league baseball team, which is a Triple-A affiliate of the San Francisco Giants. It also has a lengthy history dating back to Sutter’s Fort, The Gold Rush and the Central Pacific Railroad. It’s home to the Crocker Art Museum which houses internationally recognized art pieces, not to mention our rich pool of local artists. We have endless nightlife options and a booming restaurant scene (even according to our Bay Area frienemies). PLUS, we’ve been declared the ‘Farm-to-Fork’ Capital of America, which means you can rest assured that your food is most likely sustainably sourced from a nearby farm. I should probably also mention that Sacramento is the Capital of the sixth largest economy in the world, but I’m assuming you already know that.

californiamomsimage-1Hopefully all of this info has drawn you into visiting if you haven’t already, because I’ve teamed up with a group of California Mom bloggers (check out their links at the end of this post) and we are spilling our local knowledge of places to take your kids throughout our beautiful state. I decided to share about a less obvious spot, Gibson Ranch Country Park, about 20ish minutes outside of Sacramento, because it’s a destination you wouldn’t easily find just by googling.

Located in Elverta, CA, this 30 plus acres park is still within Sacramento County lines, but you’ll feel like you’re out in the country. When you enter the property, you’ll almost immediately see horses peacefully grazing, as well as endless natural fields, heritage oak trees and a pond filled with fish, ducks and geese. I immediately feel a sense of tranquility when I enter; I roll down the windows and let that clean country air blow through the car.

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Here are a few activities you can do while you’re there:

Feed the Ducks

I’ve been reading more and more about how feeding bread to ducks is bad for them, so here are some alternative options, or pick-up some duck feed

Have a Picnic

There are shaded picnic tables all around the pond, near the playground

Let the Kids Play

There’s a large playground close to the pond

Go Fishing

The pond is stocked with catfish and trout

Fly a Kite

The park’s wide-open fields are the perfect spot

Run Around

Just set the kids loose! There are acres of fields for them to run around and wear themselves out

Visit the Stables

You can see the horses close-up, or you can call ahead and see if there are any horses available to rent for a little ride around the property

Hike

There are five-ish miles of trail

Host an Event

Gibson Ranch accommodates parties as large as weddings and as small as family BBQs – I’m thinking this could be a good spot for my son’s 4th birthday in September 🙂

Go Camping

You can reserve a campsite or even a rustic cabin

 

This park is seriously cool – it’s a must see if you’re ever out this way, even if you are just passing through on your way to Tahoe 🙂

Be sure to head over to these other California moms and check out some of their favorite spots:

8 Relationship Tactics that Keep us Strong

photogfavs065.jpgAfter being married for 5 ½ years (together for 8 ½) I wanted to offer up a few tips for keeping the relationship strong. We’re no experts in the world of marriage and by no means are we perfect, but I feel like we’ve found a groove to where I can honestly say we are happily married and I could actually give some marriage advice. Relationships aren’t a one size fits all thing; we are all unique, but I still think some of these could be transferred into any relationship.

WE ARE KIND; WHEN WE’RE NOT, WE SAY SORRY

So this one is really tested when you become a parent. Sleep deprivation combined with the frustration of toddler meltdowns, crying babies and constant messes will turn kindness flat on its face. But what saves us is that we recognize when we snap at one another and apologize almost immediately. The second a bratty remark leaves my lips, I do my best to always apologize and admit that I’m just frustrated with the situation, not him. He does the same. It’s so very important not to be stubborn – be quick to offer up an apology when you’re being an a-hole.

WE OVER COMMUNICATE

When we had pre-marital meetings with our Pastor before we got married, he talked to us about the number one cause of divorce according to his many years of marriage counseling, which is poor communication. Whether it’s poor communication about money, the kids, needs, whatever. To combat this, the most impactful thing we’ve done is had little relationship check-ins. We try to do them every week (that often doesn’t happen) but we do them often enough and just sort of ask each other how we’re doing: “Is there anything that’s been bugging you? Is there anything you’ve been meaning to discuss with me but haven’t had the chance?” This is when you MUST be honest because bottling up stuff is damaging in the long run.

WE PRAY TOGETHER

Obviously this doesn’t apply to all relationships, but for us this is a big thing. Going to church and worshiping together, praying together and for each other brings a level of intimacy that nothing else can. It deepens the level of trust and love that we already have.

WE GO ON DATES

This is the no brainer one that everyone knows, but it can be super challenging after you have kids. It is so very important to take time alone together.

WE LAUGH AT OUR KIDS

Kids can be super annoying and sometimes all we can do is laugh at how insane our baby is acting, or how silly our toddler’s tantrum is. Making fun of our kids brings us closer together and pulls our heads out of the frustration of parenthood. To be clear, we don’t do it in front of them; trying not to damage their self esteem haha.

WE TAKE TIME APART

Scheduling time with friends is super important in keeping our relationship strong. Time away with just the girls can be so rejuvenating and I’m sure guys feel the same way.

WE TELL EACH OTHER OUR NEEDS

Your needs can be absolutely anything; whether you or your partner need more physical intimacy, more verbal intimacy or something simple like needing occasional flowers, a chore done, help with the kids, encouraging words, more hugs, time away from the kids – whatever it is. In my less mature years, I used to think “he should know I need this” or “I wish I didn’t have to tell him to do xyz.” Through experience, I’ve learned that is a stupid way to think, so now I just tell Ryan when I feel like I have a need that isn’t being met. Your needs matter and it’s your spouse’s job to meet them as much as possible; but it’s your job to meet his/hers to the best of your ability also.

WE ARE AWARE OF EACH OTHER’S LOVE LANGUAGE

Take this quiz and find out, share the results with your spouse, show your love accordingly.

 

 

 

 

 

All you need is Love and a JORD Wood Watch

img_1956Valentine’s Day has always seemed a little silly to me. I never understood why society needed a designated day to celebrate love. After all, Ryan and I celebrated each other all the time with dates, sweet notes, random flowers, and just laughing and enjoying life together.

It sounds like it was all sunshine and roses because for the most part, it was. We very rarely had any sort of an argument and we did everything together! We wrote love notes; he brought me random bouquets of flowers; we had date nights every single night, even if that just meant we were at home; we took trips together; we watched entire movies together; we went on runs together; we went wine tasting like every other weekend.

Then we had a kid.

Ok, I started to sort of get it. But still, Valentine’s Day seemed a bit blown up to me.

Then we had a second kid.

And now, I GET IT.

I finally understand that Valentine’s Day serves a purpose: It forces you to designate time to celebrate your special relationship, even while entrenched (maybe even drowning) in parenthood.

Honestly, Ryan and I can barely have a conversation when the kids are awake and by the time they’re in bed, we are pretty drained. Our feeling of togetherness is constantly interrupted by a chatty three year old, diapers, picking up toys, cleaning up messy floors 700 times a day, the never ending laundry, the time-outs, the crying, the kissing of the boo boos, the frantic “what’s in Preston’s mouth!” It’s no big shocker why marriages statistically suffer after having kids.

We’ve had countless discussions about how important it is that we make time for each other, but that’s easier said than done when you have young kids. Never before have I cherished moments alone with Ryan like I do now. With one kid, all we had to do was put Porter down for a nap and boom, alone time. But with two, there’s a good chance their naps won’t overlap, giving you zero breaks and it’s exhausting.

Romance has become less grandiose and more about the tiny moments that the kids can’t take away from us, like when Ryan comes up behind me while I’m cooking dinner to give me a kiss; or when we bring each other drinks; the rare occasion when we write each other a note by the coffee pot; the hug that lasts way longer than normal even though Preston is fussing and Porter is saying something completely ridiculous; the offering to take one or both kids to the store so the other parent can get a break; the sharing of tasks when it’s time to get the kids bathed and in bed; couch snuggles during that small window of time between the kids going to bed and us passing out – this is what parenthood romance looks like for us.

And while I’m so very grateful for these sweet moments, it’s not enough. I want more.

I want more of Ryan all to myself. I want more of what we used to have, without giving less to my sweet babies. I want it all.

How the heck do we do this? Literally asking the question because I have yet to find the perfect solution. If you’ve found it, please comment below and tell me what you do. If it involves hundreds of dollars in babysitting money, your advice won’t help me.

I think the answer could be something really simple though; carving out time. If we want more time together, we just have to reserve it. It sounds so simple, so why can’t we do it? Even if it’s just a quick trip out to lunch, a picnic to keep it simple, a movie, a hike, whatever. All we really need is some quality time together that doesn’t involve our little humans we made. I want to recommit to this on Valentine’s Day.

I decided to give Ryan a JORD Wood Watch for an early Valentine’s Day present because it perfectly commemorates how important quality time is for our marriage to stay strong. I want him to look at the watch everyday and remember how much I love spending quality time with him. I gave Ryan this one, but there are so many awesome designs to choose from. It’s a unique watch because it’s literally made out of wood – I love that it’s sleek but rustic at the same time and Ryan’s obsessed. You can click on the links below to see all the different cool watches. I’ve even been eying the women’s line and I like what I see!

JORD Wood Watch Links:

GIVEAWAY – win $25 towards a watch just for entering, could win up to $100!

Men’s Shop 

Women’s Shop

Luxury Wooden Watch
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This is a sponsored post, but all thoughts and opinions are my own

Why I love Freshly Picked Moccs

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When I was pregnant with Porter and found out he was a boy, I became very focused on finding cute boy clothes. In my head, boy clothes meant ugly spider man shirts, onesies with teddy bears on them that say “mommy loves me,” bulky Velcro shoes that light up, and whatever other hideous thing you can think of.

Thankfully, all I had to do was a little Google searching to find cute, stylish clothes I now exclusively dress my boys in, aside from occasional ugly footie pajamas (pajamas get a free pass because they’re warm and not worn in public for the most part).

One of the first brands I fell in love with back in 2013 is Freshly Picked, and I wasn’t the only one. Since then, the brand has expanded and it’s become wildly successful.

At $60 a pair, I admit it took me a little while to bite the bullet and buy a pair for Porter when he was a baby; he didn’t have his first pair until he was about a year old. Once I had them, I regretted not buying them sooner because they are AMAZING. They made my life so much easier because they’re super easy to put on (even with squirmy baby feet), they’re made with real leather with solid construction, they’re durable, they’re stylish AND they stretch, so your babe will be able to wear them for longer than he/she would a more traditional shoe.

logo (1).jpgSince then, Freshly Picked has blown up. They’re so successful, they were able to reduce the cost of making some of the classic colors and they passed that savings on to their customers, because they’re awesome. They also frequently have sales, so you can always get your hands on a pair for less than $60. Check www.freshlypicked.com to see the latest prints and styles, and also to find the reduced priced moccs! Needless to say, my second son Preston has been wearing Freshly Picked moccs since his first month of life. Now that he’s almost 10 months old, he practically lives in them.IMG_2048 2.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I should mention that there are a gazillion knock-off Freshly Picked moccs being sold out there and I have to admit, I did succumb to ordering a pair once and the quality just didn’t compare. They didn’t fit his feet as well, the material felt cheap and they weren’t nearly as durable. I would take one pair of genuine Freshly Picked moccs over 10 pairs of fakies any day!

 

Post sponsored by Freshly Picked, but all opinions are 100 percent my own.

 

How I Sleep Trained my Baby by Accident

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Before I get started with this, I think it’s important for me to make clear that I do not consider myself to be an expert mother. I get frustrated and yell sometimes (although yelling is something I’ve been MAJORLY working on). I do things I probably shouldn’t, like let my three year old have fruit snacks at 8:30 a.m. just to get him out of my hair; I let my BABY watch his big brother’s TV shows; I forget to send thank you cards after my son’s birthday (or I just never get around to it); I force my baby to skip his morning nap because I selfishly want to get all my errands done while my oldest is in Preschool; I prop my baby up on a boppy with a bottle so I can get some stuff done while he eats; I could go on and on about everything I do that I know some moms consider deplorable.

Today I’m going to share with you one thing I did right, but it was by accident.

My second son, Preston, started sleeping four hour stretches as early as two weeks old and I felt very optimistic that he was going to be one of those freak babies who sleeps through the night at two months old; and then he was and I felt like I hit the jackpot.

Then came his first cold, which lead to his first ear infection…then another, and another. It was downhill from there and we were back to waking up every two hours. After numerous failed antibiotic treatments, he had his ear tubes surgery when he was about eight months old. I naively thought that would be the magic flip of the switch to get him sleeping through the night because that’s how it went for my first son. I. Was. So. Wrong.

Preston had sleep regressed to the point where waking up was ingrained in him, even without the ear pain. After a couple weeks post op, he still wasn’t sleeping well and it occurred to me that we might have to actually “sleep train” our baby. Then Preston got sick again, and that idea got shelved. He ended up with a double ear infection despite the tubes, but this time the antibiotic treatments actually worked. Once again, I naively hoped that would do the trick and he would start sleeping.

Eeeeehhhh. Wrong again.

We were so desperate for sleep it never seemed like a good time to “sleep train.” We would instead just pop a bottle in his mouth to get him back to sleep as quickly as possible. It didn’t help that our toddler shares a wall with him and we were always afraid he’d wake up.

Then one random night when he was nine months old, I sort of snapped. He woke up at 2:30 a.m. like he always did, and something changed in me. I got up and instead of making a bottle, I went into his room, gave him his paci and Little Unicorn swaddle blanket that he likes to nuzzle his face in and I told him to please shut up shuush and left the room. The screaming intensified when I left and Ryan asked me if he should go make a bottle. My response: “NO! He’s almost nine months old; he does not need food anymore during the night and hasn’t for a while. He needs to shut up and go to sleep! I can’t do this anymore…he’s fine. He needs to figure it out. Humans sleep at night and he will do it too.”

After 15 minutes of crying, it intensified and I decided to go reassure him. I gave him back his paci and swaddler he had thrown, gently rubbed his back and told him it’s time to go night night. I went back to bed and the crying continued.

This time I waited 30 minutes. Reminder, none of this was planned.

30 minutes later, he was still crying. I went in and did my reassuring thing and went back to bed. Still crying.

This time I waited an hour. In my head I thought, “He’s fine. He’s safe in his crib, he doesn’t need to eat every three hours at this age.” 45 minutes later, he was silent. He slept until 6AM.

The very next night, he slept from 7:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. Same story the following night every night since barring one or two exceptions. I’m sure I’m jinxing myself by writing about this, but I’m excited and feel like I need to share this for any tired moms out there who are hesitant to “sleep train.”

I just want to say this: It doesn’t need to be a big complicated deal. You probably don’t need to read an entire book about it. You might just need to let him/her cry a little. And yes, it sucks. It’s like nails on a chalkboard and your heart aches and you feel like you need to rescue your little one. But what are you rescuing him/her from? You’re not! You’re enabling their poor sleeping habits (in my opinion). That’s what helped me realize that it’s ok if he cries a little in order for me to start getting some sleep. Sleep deprivation is a real form of torture and my tirednesss was making me a worse mom.

So, I sleep trained my baby by accident. I have no clue if this would work for any of your babies, but I thought it was a story worth sharing.

 

 

*photo credit: Hilary Blair Photography*