Embracing Motherhood My 15 Month Old "Baby" is Still Not Sleeping Through the Night

My 15 Month Old “Baby” is Still Not Sleeping Through the Night

It’s 2 o’clock in the morning, and it feels like my head just hit the pillow, but now he’s crying again. I wait for a minute to see if it’s just a quiet whimper and he’ll fall back asleep, or if it’s more of a full on cry and he needs me.

His cry gets louder and takes on a shrill brassy tone. I jump quickly to my feet keeping my eyes still half closed because I don’t want to fully wake up.

He’s sitting up in his crib, and I pull up my shirt over my right breast so that I’m ready to nurse before I even scoop him up. We plop down onto my tower of pillows (that have been there since he was born), and as we nestle under the covers, my head tips back, my eyes close, and I drift back to sleep.

I awaken to little fingers tickling at my neck, and before he can fully wake up, I cradle him in my arms and tuck him back into his crib.

As I walk through the closet door, take one step, and plop immediately back into bed, I wonder once again why I didn’t just leave him in our king sized bed in between us, like I did when he was smaller. There’s definitely plenty of room, but for some reason, I just sleep better when he’s in his own crib. And even though I know I’ll have to go and get him again in a few hours, the time in between I will be sprawled out on my belly hugging my body pillow (that is now just a part of my side of the bed after four pregnancies) and sleeping HARD knowing that there’s no one next to me that I might squish or who might kick me in the face.

I nurse him again at 4:30 a.m. and wonder if I should just get up for the day. I’ve already gotten about 5 hours of sleep, which is pretty much par for the course these days, and there’s so much to do…

But against my better judgement, I decide to close my eyes again just for a moment. Before I know it, I am startled awake by a small little cry. I know that I must have been sleeping because the remnants of an intense dream still dance across the backs of my eyelids, but it doesn’t feel like more than two minutes have gone by. When I look at the clock, I realize it’s been about two hours since I’ve last nursed him.

As I meet him in front of his crib, he starts babbling, “4, 5, 6, 7..” and I know that he’ll want to be awake for the day. Still, I cuddle him up in bed and nurse him one last time. When he’s done, he pulls away and smiles happily at me, “A, B, C, D…” he says in his sweet little voice, and then proceeds to chant through the entire alphabet as I rock him in my arms, turning up the red glow of the salt lamp beside my bed as I look at him, smiling, and nodding the entire time.

He eventually he squirms out of my arms, slides off from our mattress on the floor, and heads over to the door happy and ready to start his day.

Not every night is this peaceful. Some nights he’s up every hour, and I feel like the walking dead as I shuffle through our nursing routine or try to bounce and rock him to sleep when he’s teething, sick, or really gassy. Other nights, Scott awakens to hear me cursing or crying as I gather my phone, Ophelia’s monitor, and Julian’s silky knowing that we’ll be out in the living room for the next few hours when all I want to do is just close my eyes and drift away.

But still, even when things are at their toughest, I’m glad that I can be there to rock him in my arms as those sharp little daggers of teeth torture his gums, help him breathe by sucking out all of his boogers with a Nose Frida, rub his tummy and pump his legs to help him with his gassy tummy, and give him nourishment and sustenance with my body’s milk.

Lack of sleep is like a badge of honor that I wear as a mother, and I’m proud of it!

On days when I’m really tired, I close my eyes for a few minutes after story time, or I might get a quick nap when Scott gets home (Napping when the baby naps doesn’t happen when you have four kids!), and I always get to sleep in on the weekends! (Thank you love!)

This idea that babies should sleep through the night at some certain age is completely arbitrary, and seems kind of fishy the way that this abnormal fallacy is spread throughout the major “parenting websites” out there as “normal”. Sleep train your baby before they can stand you say? Don’t let them fall asleep breastfeeding because it’s a bad habit you say? Make them cry it out because a baby needs a well rested mommy you say?

Hogwash! It is an HONOR to nurse my baby to sleep every night! I love being in tune with his needs! I love how his nighttime nursing keeps my milk supply up!

I don’t want to turn my mommy heart off while I listen to him scream himself to sleep every night, I don’t want him to stop needing me, and I don’t want him to stop telling me that he needs me.

Already, he is starting to show signs of not needing me anymore, and it’s scary! After 15 months of nursing to sleep every night, he is starting to pull away before he’s done, preferring instead to burrow his face in the silkies tucked in the crook of my arm and fall asleep that way. And sometimes after we do our bedtime routine and nurse, he squirms away from me until I lay him down in his crib, ready to fall asleep on his own.

The mistake I made with Ruby and Elliot was thinking that there would be some magical day that they wouldn’t need me in the night anymore.

Now, with Ophelia and Julian, I realize that the progression with sleep is just as gradual as the progression with any other milestone.

2 and a half year old Ophelia didn’t just start reading one day. It was a gradual sequence of events that began with daily flashcards at 8 months old and progressed a little more every day from there. Ophelia still needs me in the night a few times a week. Sometimes she wants some milk, sometimes a pacifier, and sometimes I think she just wants to be covered up again. Heck, even Ruby and Elliot still need to go to the bathroom or get a drink of water in the night sometimes! It’s never over. It’s never done. Having kids means that you’ll probably always be sleeping with one ear open, and IT’S WORTH IT! It’s so worth it!

I have finally learned (after 4 children) to stop Googling so much and to start listening, really listening, to what my mommy heart has to say. My mother’s intuition has more answers than any book on the shelves, and I know that when I trust in it, the answers are always more individualized and nuanced that anything some Dr. Sleep with a doctorate could have ever written.

It’s time that we all listened to our mommy hearts. It’s time that we stop trying to perpetuate the idea that there is ONE right way of doing things and that there is some unrealistic standard that we are all somehow failing. I get that it feels good to be supported by the attachment parenting group or the cry it out group once you’ve made those decisions, but neither group knows what’s best for you in every possible scenario. Maybe your mommy heart IS telling you that if you don’t have your child cry it out you are going to straight up lose it! If that is what you need to do then do it! You DO know best! Read the blogs, look at the forums, skim through the books if you must, but know that they are only there to kickstart what’s inside.

When we listen to our mommy hearts, when we respect our intuition and demand that others respect it to, it will give us the confidence to own this thing called motherhood.

Because sleep issues are just the beginning of this journey of motherhood. Before we know it, our little ones will be teenagers, and then adults, and someday (maybe) mothers and fathers themselves. And when this happens, I want to share with them how I loved these nights, how I cherished this time, how I gave everything I could, and how I loved it.

Embracing Motherhood How to Make an Outdoor Teepee

How to Make an Outdoor Teepee

Making an outdoor teepee is a fun and easy project that will provide a natural play area for your children. Who needs expensive plastic playground equipment when there’s old free tree branches lying around anyways?

There are lots of different variations and ways to embellish your teepee once you get the frame up…anything from being completely covered with bark to having living walls with something like beans or flowering vines!

Ruby and Elliot Playing in the Teepee

Ruby and Elliot Playing in the Teepee

Materials

  • Long Sticks: I drove around in my husband’s pick up truck and stopped along the side of the road whenever I found some really good long branches. Look for a few that have like a “v” at the top so that they can interlock and form the base when you get started.
  • Shovel: You want one with a point that you can really step on.
  • Gardening Gloves: These are optional, but be warned, you will end up with dirt under your fingernails!

Directions

  1. Make a Circle: Stand in the center of where you want your teepee and using a small to medium stick, draw a circle around yourself. Mark the edges of the circle by scoring it with your shovel.
  2. Plan Your Opening: Consider the position of the sun (if you want to have shade or not) and the location in relation to the rest of your yard. I wanted my opening to face the center of the yard so that I could always see who was inside, even though this meant that it would be really sunny inside all the time.
  3. Dig Holes: You’ll want to start with three holes for the anchor sticks. Dig a circle (much bigger than your stick…about 8-10 inches in diameter) and take out the piece of sod intact. Continue to dig down about another shovel’s depth. Make sure you leave a lot of loose soil at the bottom.
  4. Anchor Sticks: You might need some help to steady the three anchor sticks as you place them in at the same time. If you can find at least one stick that has a “v” at the top, it will really help to lock the sticks together at the top. Position the sticks in the ground, and lean them into each other until they are steady.
  5. Bury the Sticks: Fill in around the stick with all of the loose dirt that was taken out, and then place the piece of sod back on top. Stamp it down with your feet.
  6. Fill in with Sticks: I buried about eight more sticks, and then I just started leaning the rest of the sticks against other sticks. My little ones liked weaving in and out of the stick openings, so I left some spots more open than others.
  7. Cover: You can choose to leave the sides somewhat open, continue layering with sticks until it is filled in more, or find some other material such as pine needle branches or bark to fill it in completely. You might even want to grow something like beans or morning glories along the sticks to create some living walls.

In Conclusion

I probably had as much fun building this teepee as the kids have had playing in it. Once the weather starts to get nice, my husband and I like having outdoor projects to work on. It’s a fun way to be outside, get a bit of physical activity, and accomplish something! We are currently working on making some big dirt hills covered with sod, stepping stumps, obstacle course, and preparing our garden as we try our best to transform our 1 acre of regulated city land into as natural and fun of an environment as we can. (Here’s a little video of our backyard projects.) It’s going to be a fun summer!

Our Teepee One Year Later

Our Teepee One Year Later

Embracing Motherhood chicken cordon bleu

The Best Chicken Cordon Bleu You’ll Ever Taste!

This is the best chicken cordon blue recipe I have ever had the pleasure of eating. The taste is amazing and complex, but it is seriously easy to make.

I have so many other blogs that I want to write right now, but I just have to take a moment to share this recipe that I stumbled upon for chicken cordon bleu because it is soooooo good! (Thanks mortgage company newsletter!)  I have tried making this before, and I always felt like I needed a sauce to go along with it, but the way that all of these ingredients work together makes a sauce or any sides even…irrelevant.

Ingredients

  • 4 Boneless Chicken Breast Halves
  • 1 lb of Deli Ham
  • 1 lb of Swiss Cheese
  • 1 Cup of Melted Butter
  • 4 Slices of Bread (I prefer sourdough.)
  • Seasonings: Salt, Pepper, Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Paprika, really…whatever you fancy

Directions

  1. Preheat the Oven: to 350º F
  2. Cut the Chicken: Use a really sharp knife to cut the breasts into layers that are ¼ thick.

    My Workstation for chicken cordon bleu

    My Workstation

  3. Ham and Swiss: Top each chicken breast filet with a slice of cheese and then ham.
  4. Roll It: Roll, tuck the ends, and secure with a couple of toothpicks.
  5. Butter: Use a glass bowl to melt the butter (the shallower the better), then dip the entire roll in it. Make sure the butter gets into every crevice.
  6. Breadcrumbs: Use a blender, or crumble by hand, the slices of bread. Add your preferred seasonings and mix. After dipping the chicken in butter, roll it around in the breadcrumbs.
  7. Baking Pan: Place the chicken rolls into a (preferably glass) baking pan. You can squish them together pretty closely.

    Ready to bake my chicken cordon bleu!

    Ready to bake!

  8. Cook: Bake for 40 minutes at 350º F.

    chicken cordon bleu out of the oven

    Ok…so a few are missing already. 🙂

  9. Serve: Serve alone or with noodles or rice and some sort of veggie like broccoli or asparagus.

    Kid's Plate of chicken cordon bleu

    Kid’s Plate

Embracing Motherhood How to Make a Stock Tank Pool

How to Make a Stock Tank Pool

What’s the one thing that always feels good on a hot summer’s day? Water. Running through a sprinkler, splashing in a kiddie pool, going down a slip and slide, and floating in a pool are all ways to make the summer heat mesh nicely with your body.

Swimming in Our Stock Tank Pool (2017)

Swimming in Our Stock Tank Pool (2017)

With five young kids seven and under, we don’t really like to go anywhere, and this stock tank pool has been an amazing cost effective addition to our yard for both us and our kids. When the temperature is above 70º F (we’ll even settle for 60º F on an early spring thaw), our kids will play in it for hours every single day. This is our third summer using it, and has held up beautifully.

Another early spring swim on a 60 degree day!

Swimming in our stock tank pool in mid April! Brrrr…

They love sitting in their round doughnuts bouncing up and down, riding around on pool noodles, jumping off from the ladder, and just splashing around. My husband and I like to find a way to float and relax. When we close our eyes and feel our bodies bob around in the water, we can almost envision that we’re floating on the shores of some tropical island…until Elliot does a cannonball that is!

With our stock tank pool, homemade sandbox, garden, backyard teepee, stepping stumps, and homemade obstacle course, we are content to just stay home all summer long! *Video note: We don’t typically run the filter while kids are swimming in it. The suction is incredibly strong and can be quite shocking if you accidentally press your butt against it! 🙂

When we started researching pools last summer, I was almost tempted to buy a 12 foot Intex pool, but after reading reviews about patching pinholes and knowing that my kids like to play rough (which it couldn’t sustain), I didn’t think it sounded like a good idea.

Growing up, my Aunt Sue always had a round stock tank pool that she placed on a deck in her backyard. She always kept the water crystal clear with a filter and had it set up on a little deck. It was beautiful! We had an oval shaped horse trough pool growing up, but we never really kept it clean, and it turned into a holding tank for the tadpoles and turtles that we would catch in our nearby lake. It was still really fun though!

I scoured the Internet for some good directions for making a stock tank pool and could only find really cute pictures (that often showed crystal clear water with no filter…not possible!) without many good directions, so I hope that in this post, I can be a little more specific. Needless to say, we learned how to do everything wrong before we learned how to do everything right, so hopefully, if you’re looking to make your own stock tank pool, you can avoid some of the pitfalls we had.

Summer fun in our stock tank pool

Summer fun in our stock tank pool

Materials

  • 10 Foot (diameter) Round Galvanized Steel Stock Tank Pool: An 8 foot would work too. They are typically 2 feet high – which is pretty much shorter than anyone who is really good at walking, so it’s safe for toddlers! If you want to buy something online, Amazon has these plastic 8 foots, and the hole saw kits I talk about later work on plastic as well. Stockyards Ranch Supply in Colorado also has them, and you can call for a delivery quote.
  • Sand Filter Pump: You don’t have to have a pump if you’re okay with just emptying the pool when it gets dirty or using some chlorine or bromine tablets, but I highly recommend buying one for the long haul. It’s great for filtering out algae and debris, has a 24-hour timer with preset cycles for automatic operation, is low maintenance (you only need to empty out the sand every 5 years), and has a six-function control valve that lets you filter, backwash, rinse, recirculate, drain, and close the system. We bought the filter for a 16″ diameter pool. It filters 2,450 gallons per hour, and it does a very nice job, but we still need to add shock treatment or drain it completely several times over the summer. They also offer a 12″ filter that cycles through 1,600 gallons an hour and a 10″ filter that cycles through 1,050 gallons an hour. *FYI: a 10″ stock tank pool holds 1,100 gallons.
  • Pool Filter SandWe just used some sand from our sandbox, but this type of sand that I linked to was recommended by our pool filter system manual.
  • *Additional Filter Systems:
    • Saltwater System: It pretty much makes its own “natural” chlorine. You could use this in addition to the sand filter for optimum performance.
    • Cartridge Filter Pump: If you’re looking for the cheapest option, you could get this cartridge filter pump, but you’d have to replace the filters every two weeks.
    • Floating Dispenser and Bromine Tablets or Chlorine Tablets (bromine is safer than chlorine…slightly).
    • Pool Water Shock: Kills bacteria and algae in one big “shock” of chlorine.
    • Because of the dangers of chlorine, we try our best to avoid it. We’d prefer not to use any of these methods, but we have used the pool shock a time or two when things got bad (mainly because we didn’t use our pool filter properly). It did a fine job of killing the algae, and we just avoided the pool until it all evaporated, 24-48 hours. 
  • Drill: You’ll need to drill two holes into the pool if you’re going to attach a filter. As convenient as a cordless drill can be, we have had much more success with drilling projects that need a lot of power to use a corded drill. You’ll also need a hole saw kit to attach to your drill.
  • Hose Conversion Adapter KitWe got some metal hardware from the store, but the plastic ones I linked to here should work fine as well. Basically, you just need something to attach the pool filter to the hole you’ll make in the pool.
    For attaching the pool filter tubes to the hole in the pool.

    For attaching the pool filter tubes to the hole in the pool.

    We cut our hole too small, so we needed some extra pieces!

    We initially cut our hole too small, so we needed some extra pieces!

  • Plumber’s PuttyThis stuff is waterproof and great for plugging up all leaks! If I could do it again though, I think this epoxy would’ve worked better.
  • *18″ Pool: If you’re looking for something bigger that is super easy to set up and comes with EVERYTHING you’ll need, you might want to check this out. 🙂

Directions

  1. Get the pool to your house! You can order a stock tank pool online and they will deliver it, or you can purchase it from a store and for a fee they can probably deliver it too. My husband knew someone who had an open trailer. They went to the store, picked it up, strapped it down, and drove it to our house.
  2. Prepare the pool location. You want a place that is flat and level that isn’t close to too many trees that will annoy you with their random leaves cluttering your pool. When we made our sandbox, we put an extra load where we wanted our pool, and it made an excellent base. (You don’t have to do this, it’s just a nice touch.)

    laying down the stock tank pool

    Getting the Stock Tank Pool Home

  3. Set up the pool filter. This seems a lot more complicated than it really is, especially after you watch the instruction video, but bear with it, it’s not that bad. Basically, you’ll need to put it together and fill it with sand. You can put it on a base, but we never did and it worked just fine.

    Pool Filter for the Stock Tank Pool

    Pool Filter for the Stock Tank Pool

  4. Measure the pool filter tubes. We made the mistake of measuring the interior diameter rather than the exterior diameter of our tubes and since the drill bit needs to connect with the center, once you make a hole too small, you can’t make it bigger. This made the entire process of connecting the tubes turn into a HUGE ordeal for us (and is why you’ll notice lots of adhesive covered with cloths over our tubes). We had to get extender pieces and everything leaked in every possible place, but we eventually got it all sealed up and running great. So basically, measure twice and cut once!
  5. Cut two holes in the stock tank pool for the filter tubes. You’ll want to position the holes about 2-3 feet apart from each other in about the middle of the top half of the pool walls. Use a drill and a metal drill bit to cut the holes. Some protective eyewear is probably a good idea. 🙂
  6. Attach the hardware into the holes made in the stock tank pool. Get as snug of a fit as you can, and then seal everything up with epoxy or plumber’s putty. You might even want to put some plumber’s tape around the threads.
  7. Attach the pool filter tubes. Once again, get everything to fit as tight as you can then seal everything with plumber’s putty or epoxy. Don’t worry, you’ll be able to detach the tubes at the filter to drain the pool. (Plus there’s a little screw thing near the bottom of the pool that you can take out to drain the pool too.)

    Stock Tank Pool

    Stock Tank Pool

  8. Fill with water. Fill the water just above the holes to make sure they are not leaking. If they are, drain the water a bit and seal any holes. When we did this, we just used whatever sealers we could find in our house. It made a big mess, but it did the job!

Stock Tank Pool Maintenance

  1. Keep the junk out. We made sure to establish some rules with the kids about not putting sand or other debris into the pool and put a little foot rinsing bucket in front of the ladder. I also like using a pool skimmer about once a week or so to fish out any stray floaties. But seriously, we don’t get too strict here because it’s no fun if you start getting paranoid about every speck of dirt that might get in.
  2. Run the filter. Pay close attention to the owner’s manual for your filter and run all scheduled maintenance. We did a poor job of this the first year we had our pool, and as a result, the tubes filled up with green algae as did the filter, and it became very hard to keep clean. I highly recommend watching the instruction DVD that comes with your filter (if you choose to use one…you really don’t have to). It has a 24 hour timer attached, so it’s easy enough to schedule about an hour every day for the filter and rinse. Just don’t forget the backwash and rinse…very important!
  3. Drain it. After the first fill up during the first year of having our pool, it stayed pretty clean and clear for about 6-8 weeks. Then, it started to get a little green looking, and then like the next day we couldn’t see the bottom of the pool! When this happens, all of the shock treatment in the world won’t make a difference, and it’s better to just drain it. To drain the pool, unscrew the tubes from the filter and pull the plug out from the bottom. It will make the ground nice and swampy for the afternoon, but the water will all drain away eventually.

    Draining the Stock Tank Pool

    Draining the Stock Tank Pool

  4. Power wash it. Having a good power washer like this is useful around the house for so many reasons, but for cleaning out a dirty pool, it’s simply the best! Unless you want to be super meticulous, you won’t get every little speck, but it will dislodge most of the gunk, and the rest you can get with elbow grease.

    Power Washing the Stock Tank Pool

    Power Washing the Stock Tank Pool

  5. Scrub it. I like using this natural cleaner called Sol-U-Mel (it’s AMAZING and cleans EVERYTHING…it’s like Goof Off without the toxins). Spray, scrub, spray, scrub, spray, scrub…

    Scrubbing the Stock Tank Pool

    Scrubbing the Stock Tank Pool

  6. All clean! Now that the pool is nice and clean, make sure the pool filter is free from debris, and fill it up again! Check for leaks as it’s filling, and if you notice anything, a little plumber’s putty should do the trick.

    Our Stock Tank Pool is Nice and Clean

    Our Stock Tank Pool is Nice and Clean

Additional Pool Items

  • Pool LadderThis is the one we got, and it’s quite a bit taller than our pool, but our kids love it!
  • Solar CoverThis works great to keep debris out of the pool and to warm the water. If you get this, I don’t think you need a pool cover.
  • Pool SkimmerThis is great for getting out grass clippings, small leaves, and any other little floaters.
  • Life Jackets: These life jackets are our favorites for the little ones (30-50 lbs) and are great for teaching kids the mechanics of swimming.
  • Swimming Diapers: As much as I love to have my kids run around naked in the summer, I don’t like them peeing and pooping in our pool!
  • Flotation Devices: This pool isn’t that big enough hold anything too big, but our kids have enjoyed some basic round tubes. We have also enjoyed getting some fancy full body floating devices for a really tropical experience!
  • Pool NoodlesThe kids have enjoyed playing with these in the pool more than anything! Scott and I like tucking one under our neck and one under our ankles and floating like we’re in the middle of the crystal clear waters of some tropical resort!
  • Diving Rings and Sticks: Once kids can hold their breath underwater, these diving rings and sticks (with goggles) make for a lot of fun!
  • Foot Rinsing BucketWe like putting a large rectangular bucket in front of the ladder so that the kids will rinse their feet before going in.

In Conclusion

If you want something sturdy and fun that will allow you to enjoy hours and hours of backyard fun in the summer sun, I highly recommend getting a stock tank pool set up. If we had gone with one of the cheap Intex pools of a similar size, we would constantly have to nag the kids to be gentle and then it would probably still pop a hole at some point anyways. This has stood up VERY well to lots of roughhousing, and I’m hoping that it will last for years to come!

Happy swimming!