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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Sleep Training my 16-month-old

I have put it off for quite some time, and now that I might soon be rejoining the work force it is time to get Nathan able to fall asleep on his own. We may need him in daycare, and they certainly won't be able to gently rock and sing him to sleep for up to thirty minutes, and then again when he reawakens a half-hour later. As much as I am not a fan of the cry-it out method (specifically the extinction form of it) I do believe at this point in his life any major change like this will bring some amount of tears.

The first few nights were particularly rough, we actually tried pick-up-put-down method for a while. This worked alright for the first night. He kept getting to a point where he was hysterical, and it would be cruel to let him carry on like that. The second night, however, when I picked him up he might calm down - only to cry harder when I set him back in his crib. The first couple of nights I also resigned myself to singing and singing and singing. It's a wonder I had any voice left after that. By day three, my husband and I started making small adjustments that would work better in the long run. After all, I didn't want Nathan to require constant singing to fall asleep. We were ecstatic when Nathan fell asleep at bedtime (after crying through his entire nap) after under an hour of fussing! What a relief! Just the encouragement we needed to keep it up. Day four was rough again - but I expected it to take more effort with me in the room, as the one who used to nurse him to sleep. He did eventually fall asleep though, and that is an improvement over the day prior. As the week progressed, he cried for shorter periods of time. 

Here are a few tips that worked for us:

Build a regular sleepy-time routine. 
Same time every day for naps and bed time. Start this as early as you want! Children may not take to it before 4 months of age, but getting them used to it can only help. Consistency is key with a sleepy time routine. Ours is change diaper into PJs, brush teeth with a couple minutes of cuddling, storytime in the crib, and lights out with a couple of lullabies. It should be simple and in the same order each night.

Ensure that your child is burning off lots of energy throughout the day.
If they still have energy to burn when it's bed time, it will be more difficult to get them down. Make sure you have lots of play time and stimulating activities throughout the day. If it is nearing bed time and you think they still have too much energy, my little guy loves bath time before bed - burns off energy and is cozy warm!

Make sure he gets enough food.
I didn't even really consider the fact that my boy was used to nursing to sleep and throughout the night - therefore used to getting more calories through nursing. Now I try to give him a snack a short while before we begin the bed time routine.

Do not react to his crying.
The exception to this rule is when he gets hysterical. I won't ignore my child who is freaking out. After the first day and a half though, Nathan never got to this point. Once he was somewhat used to the plan, he would cry but not freak out. And this is where you must not react to it. It is to get your attention and play and stay awake, or to get you to nurse him back to sleep. My husband and I swivel the little chair around away from Nathan so that he knows we are there, but we aren't making eye contact.

Earplugs.
The first week could be rough. Lots of loud crying, screaming, and general noise. I definitely wish I had grabbed a pair in the first couple of days!


Try to avoid starting a sleep training program when your little one is pushing out teeth or unwell. These are times when he will likely need extra cuddles and nursing sessions. If you can hold off a few days in these instances, I'd recommend it.


Do any of you have any experience sleep training a young toddler? Leave any tips that helped you in the comments! :-)


Edited to add: One of the most disheartening and frustrating happenings during this is when all goes well for a few days and then -- BAM it's like we're back to day #1. This can happen because of teething, shots, sickness, overtired little one, and more. Through times like these, I find it's best to give extra cuddles and if they are truly upset (hysterical crying/screaming) then perhaps hold off for that day/night and try again the next day. You will be able to tell the difference between regular crying and hysterical crying. In my experience, the latter just seems to wake them up more so while simultaneously causing them to be overtired. Basically, they won't go to sleep like this. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Some of My Goals with Nathan

As part of my general list of resolutions, I am trying to build good habits in Nathan now. Easier to build them in the first place as the norm, rather than trying to have him relearn how to do things.

My biggest challenge over the next couple of weeks will be sleep training. I have been nursing him to sleep  for the past 15+ months. It is taking longer and longer to get him to actually fall asleep, and I simply do not have the time or patience for it now. So, we are finally going the route of sleep training. Our current plan is this:

Sleepytime routine - same things in the same order at the same time daily (naps and bedtime). Consistency is key.
Change into PJs (nighttime)
Brush teeth
Quiet/Cuddle time for 5-10 minutes
Crib for storytime (this is usually crying time)
After 10 minutes of crying, 5 minutes of cuddles, then back into the crib.
Repeat as necessary!

I hope that at some point in the next couple of weeks he will actually fall asleep during his crib moments. For now I suppose if I can just get him used to going into the crib awake without screaming, I will be happy.

Other than that, I am really trying to instill in Nathan the habit of cleaning up after himself. Yes, it's a stretch to expect much at this age. It's more about him understanding the words "clean up" and doing so with me when I ask him to. So far it's hit or miss - he'll toss a few items in the toy box but then move on to other things. That's OK - it's something!

Additionally, hygiene is important to us - I'm teaching him to brush his teeth on his own (and then I also do afterward, of course) and to wash his hands. The second one is a challenge, because I am currently in need of a step stool to get him up to the sink. So far I can hold him up and hope he goes for the running water. It's something!

I suppose all of these revolve around building good habits with Nathan now.

What are your goals with your children (if you have any)?

Sunday, January 13, 2013

KETO: Spaghetti (Squash), Alfredo, and Pumpkin Cheesecake

As you may know, my husband and I are on a month-long (and then some) Keto-venture to start off the new year in the right direction! The main problem we've faced when attempting to go long-term low-carb is variety in our meals. Low-carb tends to mean that you must be cooking and prepping a lot more - most of that shelf-stable product is full of carbohydrates. So it is ever important to keep variety in your ketogenic diet.

So it is time again for some more of the recipes we have enjoyed!

Keto Meatballs and Spaghetti (Squash)

I have a favorite meatball recipe that I use whether we are doing low-carb or not. It is based off of the Meatball Nirvana recipe on AllRecipes. The only changes I've made to adapt it to Keto are:  remove the bread crumbs and add one egg and replace milk with heavy cream (might be able to try almond or coconut milk).

Meatballs
Ingredients:

1 pound extra lean ground beef (or turkey)
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 small onion, diced
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
3/4 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 dash hot pepper sauce (such as Sriracha)
1 1/2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup heavy cream/water mixture
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 large egg

Instructions:

1. Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
2. Place the beef into a mixing bowl, and season with salt, onion, garlic salt, Italian seasoning, oregano, red pepper flakes, hot pepper sauce, and Worcestershire sauce; mix well. Add the cream, Parmesan cheese, and egg. Mix until evenly blended, then form into 1 1/2-inch meatballs, and place onto a baking sheet.
3. Bake in the preheated oven until no longer pink in the center, 20 to 25 minutes.

Spaghetti Squash
Ingredients: (these are all estimates - add as much as you need depending on how big the squash is)
1 spaghetti squash
1.5-2 cups of low-sugar spaghetti sauce
0.5 cup Butter
0.25 cup parmesan cheese
Garlic salt to taste

Instructions:
1. Using a sharp knife, poke 10 or more holes in the spaghetti squash and microwave on high for roughly 12 minutes. If you hear a gradually increasing hissing noise from the squash then you should stop the microwave early, because it might pop open (big mess).
2. Carefully cut the squash in half and remove the seeds in the middle.
3. Scrape out the squash innards, which will come out resembling noodles.
4. I like to saute' the noodles in butter before adding the sauce. Cook on medium/high in a big pot (there will be a lot of squash) with the butter, just mixing a bit. Add the garlic salt and the spaghetti sauce. Finally, add parmesan.

Combine these two and you have a lovely high-fat meal loaded with veggies! The spaghetti squash really surprised me with how many "noodles" really come from it. We always have leftovers!

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Keto Chicken Alfredo

For this recipe, I used spaghetti squash again! They were on sale so we thought we'd experiment.

Ingredients: 
3-4 Chicken breasts
Seasoning for chicken breast (basic salt and pepper are always a match)
1 Spaghetti Squash
1 stick of butter
1/3-1/2 cup parmesan
4 ounces of cream cheese
1/4 cup of sour cream
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

1. Cook up some delicious chicken breast in the oven - typically 45 min-1 hour on 350 degrees F (check instructions on the package). Set aside for now.
2. Cook the spaghetti squash as before - poke 10+ holes all over with a sharp knife and microwave on high for 12 minutes.
3. Make the alfredo sauce - melt butter in a pan on medium and add the garlic salt. Mix in the parmesan and cream cheese, followed by the sour cream. The measurements here are all estimates as well. Keep tasting the sauce to make sure it is good. If the sauce looks like it is separating, add more sour cream!
4. Cut up the cooked chicken, add to the spaghetti squash and stir in the alfredo sauce.

We enjoyed this even more than using spaghetti sauce. Additionally, fewer carbs in this sauce than the spaghetti sauce.
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This one is less a recipe, and more of a combination.

Keto Corned Beef (Cauliflower) Hash

Steam up some cauliflower, cut or break it into smaller pieces, and cook it up with the corned beef you can buy at the store sans hash browns.  I like to add onion and sriracha to this to add more flavor. Easy and tasty (if you like corned beef).


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Low-Carb & Gluten Free Pumpkin Cheesecake (from I Breathe... I'm Hungry...)

The only part I skipped in this recipe is the crust - I was all out of coconut flour! Darn! I also cut back the sweetener to about 1/2 cup instead of 3/4.

This was a huge HUGE hit for us. Fall may be over but I don't care! I love pumpkin. This recipe is easy and fantastically tasty! With the fresh made whipped cream on top, it is no different from a regular dessert in my opinion. Fantastic. I will make it again, and I will try to hold off a few days before doing so.

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This doesn't qualify as a recipe, or as "making" anything, but we recently discovered Dove's Sugar Free Chocolate Creme Candy. These are very good! Don't have too many if you are trying to stay in ketosis - I think 5 pieces is a serving size. I would have one in a day, to be safe.


Well I hope everyone is doing well on their resolutions!

And we are back for 2013

I apologize for there long gap in posting. Everything is great and I have just been quite busy this whole time! Actually, I have been going in so many different directions since I last posted that my blog only seemed to cross my mind at the least opportune times.

Anyhow, here we go! 2013!

Who made resolutions? One of my main resolutions is to get to my goal weight/body shape, and then find a compromise between low-carb and 'regular' eating in order to maintain that weight. Step one is being on keto throughout the monthly of Fanuary and into February. So far we have loved it! I will be posting some new low carb recipes that we have enjoyed.

Otherwise, many of my goals revolve around Nathan - teaching him and building good habits. I cannot believe how big he is! This past few weeks he learned new things constantly!. I want to keep that in motion, of course. My main course of action is to keep him in new and exciting surroundings fairly often. This cold weather hinders that goal a bit, but we make it work and it will only get better once the weather cooperates.

Ever since I started my maternity leave, I have found myself devoting more and more time toward Nathan and my husband Jason. To a fault. In trying to take care of them I have let drop many friendships. Having a child drastically changes your relationships with everyone - and sometimes friends without kids do not understand. Another of my resolutions is to step it up and make the effort to reconnect to people outside of my household that I've missed.


This is just a basic rundown of my goals, but soon to come will be more!