Dear Olivia: Weeks 22 and 23


Dear Olivia,

You ever have one of those weeks where you just can’t catch a break? Or a few in a row?

Yeah, that’s where we are right now.

To be fair, I think we’re on the upswing now, but man has it been tough.

We started off the week in a very sleep-deprived state. What began as the four-month sleep regression slid headlong into a very terrible situation where your naps were all twenty minutes, you woke up every two hours all night, every night, and convincing you to fall asleep could take upwards of an hour.


That brought us to last Friday night, when everything seemed to be normal. Awful, but normal. After we put you to bed you woke up after twenty minutes. Thirty minutes. Twenty-five minutes. The night crept onwards and you would. Not. Sleep.

Every time we rocked you back to sleep, we’d gently ease you down into the pack ‘n play, and EVERY SINGLE TIME your eyes would pop back open and you’d start wailing. Again and again, all night long. You slept for no more than an hour continuously, and we eventually gave up trying to get you to sleep in the pack ‘n play. We took turns holding you until the sun rose and it was pointless to stay in bed any longer. All three of us were exhausted with red-rimmed eyes and pale faces.

I think that might have been the worst night we’ve ever had thus far with either you or Natalie. Gold star for you!

It was pretty clear by 3 a.m. that this wasn’t normal “wakefulness.” I spent the morning with you at an urgent care clinic, and sure enough, you had an ear infection. They sent us home with some antibiotics and assurances that you’d be sleeping better soon.

And you did! Saturday night was definitely better. We did make a pretty drastic decision, though. We took a hard look at your sleeping arrangements and figured hey, it’s not like things could be any worse than last night, right? Let’s put ‘er in the crib!

So we did. The pack ‘n play is now folded up and stowed away, and you’re in your own room, full time.

You didn’t stay in the crib, of  course. That would’ve been entirely too easy. No, after having some more difficulties with you  staying asleep, I decided to try something completely different based on the advice of my favorite baby sleep website: we put you in your swing.

This might sound counter-intuitive, like a step backwards. But it’s clear you’re still relying on motion to get to sleep, as evidenced by the hours and hours and hours of rocking we’ve done over the past few weeks. But then you wake up in a very flat, very motionless crib, and realize that something isn’t quite right. So you cry and can’t go back to sleep.

The theory with the swing is that we gradually turn down the speed until eventually you fall asleep with it motionless, at which point it’s time to transition into the crib.

I was a bit skeptical, but day one was such an unmitigated success that there was no question: it works. You took three naps that day, all ranging in length from 1 hour to two and a half hours.


After almost a full week of sleeping in the swing (at night, too), we’ve dialed the speed allllll the way back to the slowest setting. We’re going to try it with the swing off over the next few days and see how that goes. But there’s no question that EVERYONE is sleeping better with this arrangement. You’re still waking up at night, of course, and on some nights more frequently than others. Last night you only got up once; the night before that, four times. So, it’s still a work in progress.

But the biggest, most amazing difference is in the routine. Pre-swing: rocking, bouncing, walking, swaying, sitting in the dark for twenty, thirty, forty minutes waiting for you to be out cold, trying to put you down, failing, rinse and repeat. Now: Put you in swing, turn on swing. Close door.

The end.


It’s kind of like sleep training, but without all the tears. Sometimes you fuss for a few minutes, and a few times this week (maybe twice, or three times?) I’ve had to go back in and top you off before you fall asleep, but we’re at the point now where you’re asleep within two minutes of me putting you in the swing. I timed it, because I’m a dork like that.

It’s magical.

And it’s helped keep me sane for the rest of this week, when your sister got the same ear infection you had AND pink eye, and then I got sick with whatever upper respiratory bug you both gave me.

Thanks, girls. You’re too kind. You know that’s not what “caring is sharing” means, right?

Love always,


Dear Olivia: Week 21

Olivia-week21-webDear Olivia,

This weekend we put up our Christmas tree. If you think that sounds like a simple endeavor, I’m sorry to say that you are very wrong.

It should have been simple. Our tree was (please note the past tense) a basic plastic affair of a modest size with branches that you fold out and fluff up to make it look more realistic (Christmas tree manufacturers, who, exactly, do you think you’re fooling with these things?). Pop together. Unfold. Hang lights. Bask in the glow of holiday cheer. Done and done.


The problem really started about five years ago. Our cats, then as now, were jerks that liked to chew on the lower branches of the tree. We bought some bitter apple spray that’s marketed as a chewing deterrent for pets and said NOT TODAY, CATS.

We DOUSED that tree. They chewed, we sprayed. They chewed some more, we sprayed some more. Until we came to the horrifying realization that not only did the bitter apple spray have basically no effect on our cats, but also that you could taste it if you got too close to the tree.

We packed the tree away after Christmas and gratefully said goodbye to the intoxicating smell of fake pine needles and bitter apple spray.

Until the following year when we opened up the Christmas tree box and FOOF out wafted a cloud of that vile spray, coating our hands, faces, clothing, and furniture. If you weren’t careful about washing your hands after touching the tree, you were in for a pleasant surprise when you popped that next Christmas cookie in your mouth.


This happened every year. And every year the cats sat smugly on the tree skirt, gnawing on the branches while maintaining direct eye contact with us. What’re you gonna do about it, punk? You’re going to touch the tree to stop me? I DON’T THINK SO NOM NOM NOM.

Surely the potency would fade from year to year, we’d say.

Nope. Nope nope nope.

Every year, every single year it was like this. Until this year, when I found myself gingerly handling the branches with kitchen gloves and trying not to breathe as I fluffed them up and said ENOUGH LET’S GO TO TARGET WE NEED A NEW TREE.

So we did. And wouldn’t you know, fake trees have improved exponentially in the last five years. If you squint and hang some pine-scented sticks on it, it’s very close to passing for a real one.

But the best part is that I can now stand in front of our tree, our beautiful, beautiful tree, with you in my arms and not have to worry about either one of us breathing in toxic bitter apple fumes.

Or, the more likely scenario, your sister making herself sick from licking the ornaments.

This is just the beginning of a beautiful Christmas season, sweet girl.

We’re so glad you’re here to enjoy it with us.

Love always,


Confessions of a Mediocre Homemaker

Last year I wrote a post about how much I suck at homemaking and I got some really, really supportive feedback basically telling me to breathe, honey, it’s ok. I’m sure I also horrified a lot of people who are really grossed out by food on the floor, but those were kind enough to not to comment and say…ew. 

So, one year later, where do we stand?

In a slightly cleaner house.

I don’t have any miracle solutions to share with you, I’m sad to say. But over the past year I’ve found a few strategies that work for me and thought I’d write about them, just in case they might be helpful to anyone else.

Fair warning: these are not high-level, whip your entire household into shape with military efficiency and bounce quarters off your tightly-made bed kind of tips. If this were a class, it wouldn’t even be Homemaking 101 — we’re talking remedial homemaking.

Let’s do it.

1. Take care of yourself.

This is the biggest, most important thing I’ve found for myself. If I’m exhausted and subsisting entirely on coffee and the crust from Natalie’s sandwiches and not drinking any water…I’m useless.

I’m absolutely not saying you need to run to Whole Foods and spend $847 on asparagus water and quinoa and kale and eat nothing but that, but basic nutrition plays a HUGE role in how much energy you have. I get more done when I fuel my body right. Fact. 

So if the house is a mess and I’m absolutely dragging and just can’t even at the thought of pulling out the vacuum, I try to get back to basics. Drink some water. Eat something with protein. Take a nap.

HA HA HA HA ok just kidding about that last one.

2. Reach for the low-hanging fruit.

After Natalie was born, I learned the value of keeping your expectations very, very low. It was a while before I started using written to-do lists, but when I did, the items on them were like “brush teeth” and “put on clothes other than the ones you slept in last night.” Basic, everyday, normal human being type stuff. That way when I got nothing done except those things, I didn’t feel quite so bad. After all, I kept a human being alive AND brushed my teeth today. #winning  Even though my list is a little more involved today, I haven’t forgotten the psychological boost of crossing super easy, extremely obtainable things off the to-do list. I don’t like writing those things out every day, though, so I made a habit tracker with the really basic stuff. Do the thing, color in the box. Boom, done. (Hat tip to Kara at Boho Berry for the idea for this tracker.)

The easiest ones for me are making the bed and taking my vitamins. If I do those two things first thing in the morning I’m usually much more motivated and productive the rest of the day. Silly, but it works.

3. Make the house smell pretty.

 My brain has a really hard time reconciling a nice smelling Yankee Candle tart or (my personal favorite) the Walmart wax melts with a messy kitchen. Just can’t do it. I used to hoard my wax melts for the “right occasion” (um I know, what?) but now I have one going almost all the time. LOVE. IT. They cost a whopping $2 for a pack of 6 melts, so that’s $2 for many hours of happiness and motivation. If my house smells nice I’m definitely more inclined to spiffy things up a bit.

4. Invest in cleaning supplies that motivate you to actually clean.

I’m using the word “invest” quite loosely here — no need to buy that gold-plated toilet brush I’m sure you’ve been eyeing. Maybe spend a few extra bucks and get the stuff that smells really nice instead of like something that’ll burn your eyebrows off if you get too close. For me, that stuff is basically anything by Mrs. Myers.

 I think that brand is available at Target, but ePantry (affiliate link) is where I get mine. Right now they’re running a deal where if you sign up using my link, you get a $10 credit. Might I suggest anything in the orange and clove scent? It’s amazing. Seriously.  So far I’m super impressed both with the company and with the Mrs. Myers products. I never in my life thought I’d be enthusiastically recommending CLEANING PRODUCTS on my MOM BLOG (dear god, what has my life come to), but, here we are.

I can tell you that my sink has NEVER been cleaner than after I got the sink scrubbing powder stuff (technical term). I’m not Fly Lady-obsessive about it, i.e. I don’t scrub my sink every night before I go to bed, but I’ve been doing it probably 3 times per week. Which is 3 times per week more than I’ve ever cleaned any sink, ever, in my whole life. Except for when I worked at a bed-and-breakfast inn and that was kind of my job. But that’s a story for another time.

So yes, for the first time ever I actually enjoy wiping down my countertops and admiring my shiny, shiny sink. I don’t even recognize myself anymore. We’re not exactly talking Stepford wives-level of housekeeping, but it’s a heck of a lot better than where I was at this time last year.

One of Gretchen Rubin’s Secrets of Adulthood is that outer order contributes to inner calm. I couldn’t agree more. I don’t think I’ll ever enjoy cleaning bathrooms, but hey…at least my kitchen sink is clean.



Dear Olivia: Week 20

olivia-week20-webDear Olivia,

Today is Thanksgiving, and I am thankful.

I’m thankful for you and for your sister. For the laughter you bring to my life, the joy you bring each other, and for making me strive, each and every day, to be a better mother. For the well of patience that, although at times has run dry, is deeper than I ever knew.

I’m thankful for your dad. For the light in his eyes when he looks at you and Natalie, for his willingness to read books in silly voices and build endless block towers, and for shooing me out the door to go for a run when he knows I’ve had a tough day. For being my rock and my sounding board and my port in a storm.

I’m thankful for our family, both near and far. For amazing grandparents on both sides of the ocean, and aunts and uncles and cousins who love you to the moon and back. For willing hands to hold you and bright smiles to match your own and sparkling eyes that say hello, little one, we are so happy to see you.

I’m thankful for all that we are and all that we have. We are, truly and unironically and without question, blessed. It is my hope more than anything that you see this, see how lucky you are and how much in life there is to be grateful for.

Not just today, but every day. But today is as good a day as any to count our blessings. Because today is Thanksgiving.

And I am thankful.

Love always,


Currently | 11

IMG_1633.JPGRight now I’m…

Mainlining coffee. Olivia is going through a hell of a sleep regression, in addition to being sniffly and congested, and that’s no fun for any of us.

Wearing sweatshirts. Not parkas, not mittens, not snuggies. God I love fall in Tennessee.

Humming the theme songs to FAR too many Sprout Kids tv shows. This constant passing back and forth of daycare germs has totally wiped me out and we’ve been preeeeeetty liberal with screen time. Ruff-Ruff, Tweet, and Dave! We’ll have a magical time (a magical time!) *pokes out eardrums with a baby spoon*

Loving these Yankee Candle tart knock-offs from Walmart (I don’t have all those scents; that’s just an example). They’re cheap, are fragrant for a decent amount of time, and I’m really impressed with the scents I’ve gotten. The food ones are especially delicious and make my house smell like holidays. I can’t wait till we get our tree up and I can start using the pine tree-scented one.

Dying to see Natalie’s first official school pictures. Apparently we’re a little more casual than most parents, because her teacher took one look at her on picture day and asked if I had an outfit for her to wear. Um, you’re looking at it. We just don’t do dressy. I braided her hair WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT FROM ME.

Watching endless YouTube videos about wearing your baby in a back carry. I’m SO EXCITED to get good at this and dream of the day I can wear Olivia and don’t have to awkwardly reach around her with t-Rex arms to do things. But also nervous, because it’s definitely a little nerve-wracking at first.

Finding muscles I didn’t know I had. I started Stage 2 of New Rules of Lifting for Women and holy cow they are not messing around. It hurts so good.

Hope you all have a lovely Thanksgiving, or, for those of you not in the US, a lovely Thursday. If you need me I’ll be counting down the minutes until tomorrow at midnight when I can legally (in this house, anyway) push play on my holiday playlist.




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