Browsing Category



Your Sleep Questions Answered // Volume 1

March 15, 2018

When Collins was around 4 months old, we hired a sleep consultant through Sleepwise Consulting to help us navigate some things surrounding sleep training. I could tell the second time around that I was becoming a little “soft” and needed some hand-holding to work through a few sleep issues we were having. It was tremendously helpful and I’ve raved to others about how professional, thoughtful and skilled I felt our consultant, Jeannine, was as we worked with her.

Since then, I’ve passed along Jeannine’s name to readers asking for sleep advice. While I’m certainly no expert, Jeannine is! She is a Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant and a fellow momma of little kiddos. And she has graciously volunteered to answer YOUR sleep questions. I solicited sleep questions on Instagram and Facebook from you guys, and chose 5 to answer this month. This will be an on-going series on the blog so if you have questions you want Jeannine to answer, send them my way ( and I’ll add them to the list!

Jeannine has done her best to cover the basics in her responses below, but if you want to talk with her in more detail you can get a free 15 minute phone consult here, or sign up for the full sleep consulting package if you want more personalized help and hand-holding. We started with the 15 minute call, then decided to buy the full package and it was money well spent! You can also check out their Facebook page for more info.

So, let’s get to the questions…

Question: Ever since we stopped swaddling our son, he will not sleep longer than a 2-3 hour stretch. How can we lengthen this?
Child’s age: 5 months
Child’s bedtime routine: He is ready for bed between 7-8pm, we do a bath, I nurse, and he falls right to sleep — in the Rock and Play.  If placed flat on his back in his crib, he immediately rolls over to his belly and starts rotating around in a circle, crawling and screaming — he will not lay down on his belly and
sleep.  So we’ve reverted to the Rock and Play for the past two months. He still has a strong startle reflex and continues to wake every 2-3 hours, sometimes more, kicking and flailing about. I go in, nurse or bounce him and he goes back to sleep.
How your baby/toddler currently falls sleep: We do a bath, I nurse, and he falls right to sleep.

Jeannine’s Response // 
This is such a great question! Learning how to sleep on a flat surface is a common struggle for little ones accustomed to the incline of a Rock and Play. We commonly see the moro reflex, which is the involuntary reflex response found in infants, go away between 3-4 months. He could have a bit of that still lingering. Since your little one is 5 months, and with the additional information you are giving me, I would suspect there are a few other things that could be causing the frequent wakings in the middle of the night. To work on those night wakings, I would try to move your son back into his crib. And then, you can help his troubles with rolling in the crib by practicing rolling front to back and back to front during each wake period each day.
Lastly, it’s common when a little one gets help to sleep, they wake every 1-3 hours at night needing that help back to sleep. So, I would recommend making sure your son is putting himself to sleep for both naps and night sleep independently, without any help including, nursing, rocking, or bouncing. This can be a tough goal and is something I would be happy to help with if you have a hard time on your own.

For the last month my daughter has been waking up in the 5:00 hour most days. I get up just after 6, so if she wakes before then I’ve started taking her into bed with me and she’ll sometimes fall back asleep and get more rest (otherwise, she’ll be crabby that day before her nap). If I lay her down in her bed she just screams and disrupts the house waking up her older brother. Any tips for getting her to sleep
later again?
Child’s age: 22 months
Child’s bedtime routine: bath (every other night), PJs, snack, brush teeth, 2 books
Child’s nap routine: afternoon 1-2 hours
How your baby/toddler currently falls sleep: Lay down in bed awake

Jeannine’s Answer // 

Early morning wakings are one of the most common troubles in this age group and can be the toughest to resolve. I would start by making sure it is completely dark in her room. When I say dark, I mean it should be just as dark at 12 pm as it is at 12 am in her room. The sunlight can come into our little one’s rooms and cause their mind/body to start to wake. Early mornings also our lightest sleep, and therefore can be hard to resettle once she has woken. Once you have made those changes, I would look at her schedule. If she is waking at 5am, happy and ready to go, she maybe capping out on total daily sleep needed. At her age, most toddlers need between 11-14 hours of total sleep in a 24-hour period. If she is getting 2-3 hours of daytime
sleep and goes to bed at 7pm, she has reached 12-13 hours of overall sleep by 5am. If
you continue to see that 5am waking, schedule a free 15 minute call with me to discuss in depth.

My little man is 9 months old and hasn’t slept through the night once! Advice on how to get to a full night of rest would be appreciated! I am not afraid of letting him cry it out but he will cry all night so we usually have to get up to feed him and he will always fall asleep again after a bottle. We have tried filling his belly before putting him down but he will only drink 4oz. at a time and we are up every 2-3
hours yet. Mama needs rest!
Child’s age: 9 months
Child’s bedtime routine: Bottle/rock at 6:45, lay down at 7pm (falls asleep right away)
Child’s nap routine: Morning nap at 9 am, afternoon nap at 1pm. Bottle before each nap, and sleeps 1.5 hours each nap.

Jeannine’s Answer // 
Hi momma, 9 months is a long time to go with this kind of broken sleep; you must be exhausted! I would be happy to help your family get some restful nights. It sounds like your son has an eat/feed association. This is the most common sleep prop for most infants. A sleep prop is anything external your son needs to fall asleep. What happens is, your son uses the bottle and possibly the rocking to get himself to a drowsy state to fall asleep. Then, when he moves through his sleep cycles in the middle of the night, he wakes and cannot get himself back to sleep, needing a bottle to get him drowsy again. To help this, you want to remove the feeds from his sleep. I would recommend changing your bedtime routine, so the bottle comes first, then a bath, pajamas, book (without rocking) and then into crib awake to drift off to sleep
on his own. Lastly, to work on removing feeds from daytime sleep, I highly recommend an eat/play/sleep pattern, so he eats when he wakes, then plays, and then falls asleep on his own without a bottle. These two changes can be tough, but with consistency they make such a huge difference in your son being able to fall asleep AND stay asleep on his own.

My daughter will nap an hour and a half to two hours for her daycare providers/sitters who watch her 3 times a week fairly consistently without waking. But when I am getting her to nap at home the other 4 days she will most often only do half hour to forty minute naps for me before she wakes herself up crying. I have tried to let her cry for up to 10-15 minutes to see if she will fall back asleep but she doesn’t.
Child’s age: 6 months
Child’s bedtime routine: We still nurse to sleep after getting her into pajamas and a sleep sack. She has been a fairly good sleeper. Sleeping from about 6 PM till 9:30 PM when I do a dream feed for her before I go to bed. Will sleep most nights until about 6 AM. So she does get about 12 hours most nights.
Child’s nap routine: Put her down when she starts to show signs of tiredness and let her cry for up to 20 minutes before going in and holding her. (we do feedings when she wakes up from naps.) She naps once in the morning around 9:30 or so, once in the afternoon around 1:30 and SOMETIMES will do a catnap around 4.
How your baby/toddler currently falls sleep: She puts herself to sleep for naps usually 5-10 minutes of crying, unless she cries for 20+minutes then I will try to rock her/walk with her to see if sleep will come, if not we go back to playing for a while and try again later. Nighttime still falls asleep while nursing.

Jeannine’s Answer // 
I am so glad you asked this question, I get at least 2 calls a week asking “why does my baby sleep better for our sitter?” It is most likely caused by the the differences in the way you each put her down. Do you have a similar routine? If not, I would try and synch up your routines. A great nap routine is diaper change, sleep sack (if you use one), read a book, white noise on, lights out and goodnight. If the child is
crying when mom puts her down, and then mom goes in and rocks her to sleep, her naps will most likely be only 1 sleep cycles (30-45 minutes). What happens is, they wake from their cycle, looking for mom to come back and rock them to sleep for the rest of their nap. In additional to synching up routine, I would be sure you are both on the same schedules as well, awake time can play a great part in how easy it is
for a LO to fall asleep. All my best to your family!

Our 8mo sleeps in short spurts and only falls back asleep by breastfeeding and rocking him. He goes down around 8pm, wakes at 11pm, then 1/2am, then 5am, then 8am for the day. We are not sleeping well. How can we get him to sleep in longer spurts?
Child’s age: 8 months
Child’s bedtime routine: we get him dressed in his pjs with a fresh diaper around 7 pm, then around 8 pm he has his final feeding and falls asleep just after that.
Child’s nap routine: He takes two naps a day, from 11am-1pm, and from 4pm-6pm.
How your baby/toddler currently falls sleep: He falls asleep after eating or being held/rocked. He shows a lot of anxiety when he sees or hears me leaving his room and freaks out, then needs to be rocked all over again. He sleeps with a white noise machine, no blankets, but does sleep with a paci and small animal lovey blankey.

Jeannine’s Answer // 
Your story is so similar to about ¾ of the families I work with. Some families have a single sleep prop they need to work on removing, but most of the families, have several sleep props. Sleep props are anything external needed for a child to fall asleep. They can be a bottle/nursing, pacifier, rocking, bouncing on a ball, twirling mom’s hair, playing with dad’s fingers, the list can go on. With the
information you gave, it looks like your son is using nursing, rocking and the pacifier to help with his sleep. When a baby uses these things to fall asleep instead of their own independent sleep tools, its often I see waking in the middle of the night every 1-3 hours. The reason for this is that once they fall asleep with someone or something’s help, when they come to their lightest sleep state in their sleep cycles, they wake entirely, and cannot put themselves back to sleep. They need those external sleep
props. Removing these can cause some protest at first, but with consistency and commitment, the protest should resolve, and your child will then have his own sleep tools to fall asleep and stay asleep on his own. This will require some sleep training. I recommend because of the way he already shows anxiety, to choose a very gentle sleep training method, and stick with it.

Family, Food & Recipes

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Energy Bites

February 27, 2018

This recipe isn’t going to break the internet with it’s creativity or for being something you haven’t seen before, but I frequently talk about and post about my energy bites, and when I was looking for an up to date recipe on Espresso & Cream, I realized that I didn’t have one posted! In the past I’ve made these with dates and nut butter as the binder, but truth be told we just don’t have dates on hand most of the time, so I’ve adapted the recipe to be adaptable to what I think most people typically have on hand. Though if you do have dates on hand most of the time, there are plenty of good recipes using them as well!

These energy bites have saved us a lot of money since I’m less tempted to grab an energy bar when I’m hungry and looking for a quick and easy snack. They are portable, and Ainsley thinks they are cookie dough that I let her eat whenever she wants so I call that a major #momwin in my book.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Energy Bites
Recipe type: Snack
Serves: 12 to 15
  • ¾ cup rolled oats
  • ½ cup chocolate protein powder of choice
  • ½ cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons hemp seeds
  1. Combine all the above ingredients together in a food processor and blend until well combined. Add additional honey or peanut butter if needed so mixture comes together easily. Scoop by heaping tablespoons and roll between your hands to form balls. Store in the refrigerator until ready to eat.


Family, Fashion, Food & Recipes

The Espresso and Cream Weekly Favorites

February 20, 2018

Lately, I’ve been craving a space and reason to share some of the products, podcasts, recipes, and more that I’ve been loving lately. I was initially going to use this idea as content for an e-newsletter, but after thinking about how cluttered inboxes are these days, it seemed a better fit to make this into a weekly blog post. Each week, I’ll be sharing my favorite thing I’ve bought, listened to, used on my skin, recipe and book and/or article to read. Hopefully this is a fun, inspiring little weekly round-up!

TO BUY // J. Crew Dorito Cotton and Silk Blend Blouse (pictured above)
It’s a little lightweight for cold weather, but I can already tell that I’m going to be wearing this all spring and summer long.

TO LISTEN // Balanced Bites Podcast with Diane Sanfilippo & Liz Wolfe 
Although this podcast is geared toward those who live a paleo lifestyle (which is certainly NOT me) I really love this podcast and their approach to health and wellness. It’s been around forever, and they have a wealth of experience, great advice and interesting experts on a variety of topics relating to health and wellness.

TO USE //Volume & Shape Shampoo and Conditioner 
Postpartum hair loss and re-growth is, undoubtedly, difficult to deal with and can really take a toll on your hair. One thing that’s helped tremendously in this process is Beautycounter’s Volume & Shape Shampoo and Conditioner. You truly couldn’t pay me to use anything else. Switching to a safer shampoo and conditioner has made my hair look healthier, but even more importantly it’s actually made my hair healthier. If you’re struggling with postpartum hair issues, I can’t recommend this line enough.

TO EAT // Pinch of Yum’s Chicken Wild Rice Soup 
I’ve made this a handful of times and it’s delicious, easy and worth making at least a few more times before winter is over!

TO READ // I Know How She Does It by Laura Vanderkam
I’m only a portion of the way through this book and already I can’t resist recommending it to you guys. If you’re a mom, business owner, wanna be business owner, working corporate employee or just busy woman (hello, this is probably all of you!) then you need to pick this book up. It’s empowering and really leaves you with the feeling of “I can!” in the best possible way.



Tips for Building a Business From Home

February 19, 2018

Most days of the week I’m running around with my hair on fire, jumping from mothering to working to keeping our house running the way it should, to attempting to find enough quality time with my husband and more. It’s a crazy season, this one where we are raising little kids while I’m also building a business and trying to care for myself and those around me, investing in the community and church that I’m a part of, and finding time to just enjoy this season, too. I love being busy, having a lot on my plate, but if I don’t keep an eye on that delicate balance of work and rest and hustle and slowing down every so often, I find myself edgy, exhausted and wondering which way is up.

A few weeks ago, on a particularly difficult and tiring day, I thought to myself, “Why am I even bothering?” I mean, there are plenty of days when I think it might just be easier to be all in with this mothering gig full-time or all in with this work gig, rather than living in this sometimes frazzled in-between of working from home mom life. Of course, it was a momentary loss of perspective, because most of the time I feel so very blessed to be able to do both of these jobs in the amount and mix that I currently do, but it’s not always easy. In fact, I reason to believe that there really isn’t any perfect set-up during this season (or any season) of raising kids, but rather our perspective that matters most.

I think a particularly difficult part about working from home, sans co-workers, is that it’s incredibly flexible but can be equal parts isolating and easy to get off track when life gets busy. One of my favorite phrases to describe my work is “flexible but not optional” because, let’s face it, when you say you work from home there is a tendency by some to assume that means you can work as much or as little as you would like on any given week.

But the truth is the work still needs to get done, the freelance schedule still holds tight, the emails still come rolling in and require a timely response. So, in this season with little kids and frequent disruptions to the schedule, that means lots of early morning work sessions, nap time hustle, and the occasional evening call or catching up on email while Joe and I watch Netflix. And friends? It’s so very worth it to me. Perhaps not to everyone, but I am so thankful to be able to continue to pursue my dreams even when that doesn’t happen when or how I want it to happen.

It’s easy, in any circumstance, to see the negative, the road blocks the reasons to complain – in work, or motherhood, or other life circumstances – and I’m as prone to it as the next person. But lately I’ve been thinking a lot about how my attitude shapes my experience and perspective when those twists and turns in the road come.

Okay, okay, that’s great and all but what does that mean tangibly? Well, if you’re currently working a flexible but not optional job, or perhaps you’re dreaming about doing something like what I do, here are my best tips for staying the course when you have every reason not to:

1. Identify Your Power Hours
Power hours are the times of the day when you’re most focused and mentally sharp. For me, that’s 4:30 am or sometime around there. I can pound out about three times the amount of work between 4:30 and 5:30 am as I could in four hours in the afternoon. I lose most of my focus past mid-afternoon, and working in the evenings is rarely a good strategy for maximizing productivity in my world. Find your power hours and try to match your hours up with your work when possible to maximize output with the smallest time input.

2. Multi Task When Possible
Things like listening to a business development podcast or audio-book can be done while I fold laundry or make dinner or play with the girls. It doesn’t require my full attention, yet I’m able to invest in myself and my development while also investing in other areas of my home and family life.

3. Use Every Pocket of Time
Find the times in your day that tend to be wasted time and figure out a strategy for maximizing it, such as the school pick-up line, that 30 minutes your toddler likes to watch Paw Patrol in the afternoon, nap time, etc. Sometimes I throw everything out the window and just enjoy that hour of nap time, but most of the time I’m busting my booty to get as many things done as possible.

4. Communicate With Your Spouse
This one is HUGE. I could not do what I do without a supportive spouse who was all-in with my desire to grow a business from home. There are seasons, like November and December, when things tend to get crazier on all fronts. It’s my personal work “busy season” but having an open conversation with Joe during that time and talking through the logistics, including the fact that this was a temporarily hectic time for work, was helpful in us navigating that season together. We talk each week about our work schedules and what nights we have something outside of our normal commitments, like a work dinner, team call, etc. It helps to be on the same page from the start of the week so we aren’t rushing around and scrambling at the last minute.



Self Care for Moms of Littles

February 15, 2018

This season of parenting little kids can be extremely exhausting, both physically and emotionally, can’t it? I found that with one kiddo, it was still relatively easy to make time for myself as Ainsley got older, but when two kids were in the mix finding pockets of time for some rest, rejuvenation and self care was even harder to come by. Now that they are both getting a little older, it’s a little easier to find some time for myself but some days can just be downright exhausting. I had one of those days just yesterday, when my cold was wearing me down, and two crabby, cold-ridden kiddos were also needing some extra love, and I really just wanted to curl up in a ball and sleep all afternoon.

Now, that’s not a typical scenario, and we are all bound to have days and weeks where self care gets thrown out the window in favor of caring for littles and work responsibilities and family duties, but making a regular habit of self care has been so important for my physical and emotional health, energy and well-being as I’ve transitioned to this role as mom over the last few years.

Care for Your Physical Body

  1. Exercise
    Find a form a physical exercise and routine that works for you. This is a non-negotiable for me. I don’t honestly know how I would have gotten through the early days of two kids without exercise. It gave me the boost of energy I needed when I was so tired I couldn’t keep my eyes open and helped me feel like myself again during a time when I felt so very unlike myself. If you’re feeling like it’s hard to find the motivation, spend some time figuring out WHY you want to exercise and get back into shape.Having a really strong why will keep you going when you don’t want to workout or eat healthy. For me, my why is that I want to be the best, most energetic mom I can be. I want to feel good in my clothes, because when I do, I’m more likely to be active with my kids and think less about myself. I want to be healthy so I can live a long life as an active mommy. I want to set an example to my girls that they can give of themselves AND care for themselves.
  2. Personal Care
    Investing in quality skincare and and makeup is obviously a recommendation of mine. I am always amazed at how life-giving it is to shower, wash your hair, pamper your skin with quality skincare and put on a little makeup. I also love that the skincare I use has given me confidence to go out of the house without a stitch of of makeup if I don’t have the time or energy to put anything on. Make time for yourself, friends. It’s so easy to put yourself on the back-burner during this season. My favorite products for pampering include this skincare collection and this mask.
  3. Occasional Pampering
    I put hair coloring, pedicures, doing your nails at home, and massages in this category. I get my hair colored every 12 weeks or so, pedicures probably every 3 or 4 months and massages maybe once or twice a year, so not very often. But it always feels so special when I get out of the house to do one of these things.
  4. Doctor’s Appointments and Preventative Care
    We spend so much time as moms booking appointments for our littles and going to doctor’s appointments for our kids and making sure that we stay up on those things for our family but neglect ourselves. Book those dentist appointments, get to the chiropractor as needed, don’t delay your yearly skin cancer check or wellness check-up at the doctor, etc.
  5. Eating and Drinking Well
    And by “drinking well” I don’t mean drinking wine and coffee all the time. I mean really hydrating your body every day. Fill up that plate with the foods that make your body feel healthy an nourished. Don’t constantly yoyo diet and binge or live on takeout food. Give you body the love and nourishment it deserves to keep up with those kiddos.

Care for Your Emotional and Spiritual Self 

  1. Time in God’s Word and Prayer
    While I would like to spend more time doing intensive Bible study methods (like inductive study method), I’ve realized that in this season, ease and accessibility is more important if I’m going to make a routine and stick to it. I have found that getting up early, having some quiet time to myself to drink a cup of coffee while reading through a Bible plan on the She Reads Truth app, along with some time to pray for myself and my family members, is the best option for me right now. It’s consistent, quiet, and usually uninterrupted and sets the tone for the day.
  2. Time to Myself
    This is tied to what is mentioned above, but I need to collect myself if I’m going to set the tone for my day. This may just be my personal preference, but I really dislike the days I wake up at the same time as my girls. There is something so jarring about being woken up at the same time as my girls and being needed from the second I wake up. I’ll go as far as to say I *need* to wake up early enough to put in my contacts, wash my face, and make a cup of coffee at a bare minimum before I start my day as a mom.
  3. Time to Connect with Friends
    This is something that I am, admittedly, not super great about sometimes. We have a few standing commitments, such as being HS youth group sponsors, so when we already have a few things on our weekly calendar I don’t love being away from home another night of the week on a standing/weekly basis. But I hope to improve in this area, or remove some of our standing commitments so I can invest in friendships more intentionally.