Cloudy, With a Chance of Wine

Funny stories. Crafts we’ll never do. Recipes I’ll never make.

10 simple tips to help your baby sleep better

I recently reconnected with a friend from my childhood, who is currently pregnant with her second child. It was so fantastic to see her after all these years, but it was a little bit surreal to be discussing things like picky eaters, potty training, and temper tantrums with my childhood BFF, you know?

As the afternoon moved forward, and her son fell into a peaceful slumber in his stroller while my 3 y/o ran in circles around us (she’s a perpetual motion machine like me), my friend confided in me that she’s terrified her second child will be a nightmare in the sleep department. I guess her son was a complete angel when he was a baby, which makes her about 300% confident she won’t be as lucky a second time, and since she remembers my daughter was not the easiest baby in the world when it came to sleep, she asked me for some pointers.

Of course, I’ve blocked that part of motherhood out of my head, so I drew a complete blank when she asked me, but as soon as my daughter was in bed that night, I poured myself some wine (surprise!) and let the memories come flooding back so I could put a list of 10 simple tips to help her baby (and your baby!) sleep better, which I couldn’t wait to share with you…

If you or someone you know is navigating those first, colicky, sleep-deprived months of parenthood, this list of 10 simple tips to help your baby sleep better will (hopefully) change your life!

1. Visit your pediatrician

Before I get into all of my tips and tricks, I just want to take a moment to point out the obvious because, well, when you’re running on next to no sleep, obvious stuff isn’t always so obvious…

If your baby is extremely fussy and/or not sleeping, the first thing you should do is bookmark this page for another day and take your baby to your pediatrician’s office for a checkup. Chances are your child is just being a typical, fussy, colicky newborn, but it’s always better to err on the side of caution, right?

2. Educate yourself

If I could turn back the clock, I would’ve done a ton of research BEFORE I had my daughter, rather than in the wee hours of the morning during the dreaded 4-month sleep regression, and I would’ve focused on these fantastic resources:

THE HAPPIEST BABY ON THE BLOCK by Harvey Karp

This book gave me LOADS of tips and tricks to help me deal with colic and how to soothe my fussy baby, and it comes in DVD format for tired parents who are too busy walking and rocking and bouncing their colicky newborns to find the time to read.

HEALTHY SLEEP HABITS, HAPPY CHILD by Marc Weissbluth

I may not agree with everything Weissbluth says in this book, but he taught me some fundamental principles about daytime and nighttime sleep that were so valuable in helping me understand why my daughter and I were having so many challenges at bedtime, and he also helped me understand the importance of a solid nap schedule, so I highly recommend this book to new parents!

THE BABY SLEEP SITE by Nicole Johnson

I stumbled upon The Baby Sleep Site during a particularly bad patch with the 4-month sleep regression, and I instantly fell in love. It is filled with all kinds of resources, including articles, e-books, and parent stories that not only gave me the support and information I needed to help me get through that difficult time in my life, but also made me feel less alone. And for those who are really struggling in the sleep department, there are affordable personalized sleep consultations to choose from to help you and your family find your way back to a good night of sleep!

3. Order yourself a Miracle Blanket

I enrolled my daughter and myself in a mom-and-me class when she was about 6-weeks-old, where I connected with other new moms and learned a lot of great things about breastfeeding, introducing new foods, and keeping our home safe, but the most important takeaway, for me anyway, was this fabulous product called the Miracle Blanket. My daughter had only been sleeping a few hours in a row by this point (if I was lucky), and we were all tired and cranky, but the first night I wrapped her into that magical thing, she slept for over 6 hours without waking up. It helped with her colic, it made it easier to feed her in the night with minimal upset, and she consistently slept for longer stretches from that point forward (which is probably why it’s called a ‘Miracle Blanket’).

4. Invest in a vacuum and hair dryer

While I didn’t do a lot of research about sleep when my daughter was born, I did read a lot of material about colic. Call it mother’s intuition or whatever you want, but something deep in my soul knew there would be times my child would cry inconsolably in the middle of the night and I wouldn’t know what to do.

And I was right.

The good news is that I was prepared, and with the help of 2 of the most amazing household inventions known to mankind, I was often able to calm my daughter down quite quickly.

OUR VACUUM helped on those colicky nights when I just couldn’t calm my daughter down enough to sleep. All I had to do was plug the vacuum in, hold her close to me, and sway her from side to side, and she would eventually fall into a nice, peaceful sleep. It took a while, but it worked like a charm every single time.

And during that 2+ month period when my daughter insisted on screaming at the top of her lungs every time I tried to feed her and her pediatrician insisted there was nothing wrong with her (and suggested I start drinking beer in the evenings), I found MY HAIRDRYER was all it took to get her to calm down enough to nurse (and eventually sleep).

Pretty genius, right??!

5. Cocyntal, Cocyntal, Cocyntal!

When my daughter reached the 6-week mark, one of my girlfriends took it upon herself to call me at 10 pm and INSIST I get acquainted with my breast pump ASAP or my child would never (ever!) take a bottle from anyone. And, being the naive person I was back then, I did exactly as she said (hindsight is always 20/20, right?), and gave my already colicky daughter 4-ounces of milk using the bottle that came with my breast pump. This ended up being the biggest mistake of my life as I spent the next TWENTY FOUR HOURS trying to get my child to pass gas until another (much nicer) friend of mine dropped off a box of cocyntal at our condo. It totally did the trick and, with the blessing of our pediatrician, I gave my daughter a dose before every feed from that point forward and was amazed at how much happier she was.

6. Make sure your baby is getting enough sleep

For a long time, I was under the impression that the more I kept my daughter awake, the more she would sleep, but every sleep book, article, e-book, and coach I’ve ever spoken to has told me the exact opposite is true: sleep really does beget sleep. And experience confirms they are correct. So make sure your little one is getting enough sleep, and if you have no idea what the sleep requirements are for his or her age, this is a good place to start.

7. Establish a good bedtime routine

If you’ve read anything about babies and sleep, you have probably heard about the importance of establishing a good bedtime routine over and over (and over!) again, so I won’t dwell on this, but my daughter is living proof that kids really do thrive on routine. And if you make it fun, they may actually learn to love bedtime like my daughter does.

8. Blackout blinds

We waited far too long to buy blackout blinds for my daughter’s room, and I remember kicking myself for not doing it sooner. It made such a difference in helping with early morning wakings, and it continues to save my life during daylight savings each year! Oh, and if you can’t afford to have fancy blinds made especially for your child’s room, give Blackout Buddy a try. I haven’t tried them personally, but I’ve heard great things and they are portable for traveling!

9. Teach your baby to soothe himself to sleep sooner than later

During the mom-and-me class that taught me about the Miracle Blanket, the instructor warned all of us not to get into the habit of nursing (or rocking or bouncing) our babies to sleep, but to start teaching them how to soothe themselves by about the 6- or 8-week mark. Naturally, I thought she was crazy, but once the 4-month sleep regression took its hold and I was spending 10+ hours a day trying to get my child into her crib, I realized I should have listened to her and put my child down when she was drowsy but awake, rather than waiting until she was in a deep (deep) sleep before transferring her from my arms to her crib.

10. Give the dream feed a try

Since I was spending 10+ hours trying to get my daughter into her crib by the time she reached the 4-month mark, the idea of removing her from her crib to feed her in her sleep so she could sleep for longer stretches made me want to pee my pants in fear. So I never tried it, but a couple of my girlfriends SWORE this tip really helped them when their kids were babies. You can read more about dream feeds, and whether-or-not you should give it a try, right here.

11. Bonus tip

Whether you just brought your newborn home from the hospital, are navigating your way through the 4-month sleep regression, or have been up multiple times a night with your toddler for the last 3+ years, it’s hard to believe you’ll ever get a good night of sleep again, but I promise you will. It may not be tonight, or tomorrow night, or the night after that, but it will happen. In the meantime, make sure to keep a lot of ice cream in your freezer, and wine in your fridge, and remember to breathe, because the calmer you are, the calmer your baby will be.

At least that’s what I’ve heard.

(I am never calm.)

What tips do YOU have for sleep-deprived moms?

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*Note: These tips and resources worked well for me, but I am not a doctor or an expert on babies or sleep, so please ensure to speak with your doctor before using any of the tips and tricks above.

10 fun (& free!) at-home workout videos for busy moms

I have been on a major fitness kick lately.

I’m not sure what’s wrong with me.

It could be the beautiful weather, the longer days, or the fact that I spent an entire evening crying and snotting all over myself a couple of months ago when I discovered I’d gone up an entire clothing size since last summer, but whatever it is, I’m (finally) motivated to get myself back in shape.

The only problem is, my husband has been doing more traveling than usual lately, and since we don’t have any family or friends I can call to watch our 3 y/o so I can go to the gym when he’s away, I’ve been trying to come up with fun ways I can get a workout in at home when my daughter is in bed at night.

(Because if it isn’t fun, I’m not going to do it, you know?)

I did some Jillian Michaels workouts, and I really tried to get the body of a Victoria’s Secret Model, but I found I got bored really easily, and I just couldn’t find a way to keep myself engaged.

And then I remembered how much I used to love dance workouts when I was in my 20s, so I spent a ridiculous amount of time on YouTube watching workouts by Denise Austin on the BeFit Channel.

Have you heard of her?

She has a bunch of fantastic workout videos that will help you lose weight and tone your body from the comfort of your own home while also keeping you engaged and having fun, and I couldn’t resist sharing 10 of my favorites with you.

Give one a try and let me know what you think!

If you want to get back into an exercise routine, but can't find the time now that you're a mom, these 10 fun (& free!) at-home workout videos for busy moms are exactly what you need. Seriously.

1. Fat-Burning Funk Dance Workout

2. Ultimate Fat Burn Workout

3. Total Body Burn Cardio Dance Workout

4. Retro Aerobics Cardio Workout

5. Kickboxing Cardio Sculpt & Burn Workout

6. Strength Boot Camp Workout

7. Kickboxing Cardio Fat Blast Workout

8. Fat-Burning Cardio Latin Dance Workout

9. Cardio Fat-Burn Workout

10. Burn Fat Fast Cardio Workout

Do YOU have any suggestions on fun and engaging workout videos?

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I’m thinking of giving the zoo another try…

Do you know what I hate?

Winter.

I hate the snow, ice, sleet, and windchill warnings.

I hate wrestling my toddler into mitts, scarves, boots, and winter coats every time we want to leave the house.

I hate that everyone coughs and sneezes all over us whenever go outside.

I hate those painful little cracks that infest my hands for 6 months of the year from all of the hand sanitizer I use.

I hate that it gets dark at 4:30 pm.

I hate hair static.

And I especially hate winter weight gain.

So as soon as the weather creeps over the 10 degree mark and everyone starts to ditch their winter cough, I try to make the most of every single day.

Because I know it’ll be over in the blink of an eye.

I'm thinking of giving the zoo another try...

The only problem is, my daughter was blessed with sensitive, see-through skin that cannot withstand a lot of sun exposure and, if I’m going to be completely honest, I’d rather give myself an enema than apply sunblock to that child’s body.

It’s just such a production, you know??!

But after the winter we had this year, I absolutely refuse to spend another summer indoors, so I bought her a bunch of light-weight, long-sleeved tops and sunhats in hopes that would solve my problem. And it did. Until about a week ago when I was watching all of the footage I’ve shot of her on my iPhone so far this summer, and realized how absolutely ridiculous the poor kid looks walking around with winter clothes on in 30+ degree weather.

So I did the unthinkable.

I put on one of those cute sundresses my mum bought for her, covered her from head-to-toe in AVEENO® BABY Sunscreen Lotion SPF 55, and let her be a kid.

And you know what?

It was the FIRST TIME since she was born that she didn’t fight me on the whole sunblock thing.

I don’t know if it’s because it’s fragrance-free, non-greasy, and less irritating than all of the other brands of sunblock we’ve tried, or that she is just so desperate to fit in with her peers and not spend her entire visit to the park sweating like a 45-year-old man, but we’ve been back 3 times since then, and she hasn’t thrown a temper tantrum over the whole sunblock issue once.

(She saves that for when I remove her from the swings.)

But the best part is, I feel like I have my freedom back, and I have all kinds of exciting things planned for the rest of the summer with my little girl.

Outdoor play dates with friends.

Afternoons at our local splash pad.

A trip to Canada’s Wonderful.

And I’m even thinking of giving the zoo another try.

(I’m going to regret that last one, aren’t I?)

So if you have see-through kids like I do, and find yourself spending way too much time indoors when you would much rather be soaking up some vitamin D, I highly recommend AVEENO® BABY Sunscreen Lotion SPF 55. It’s uniquely formulated to protect your little one’s delicate skin from the sun’s harmful rays, it features effective broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection, it’s water resistant, non-greasy, and fragrance-free, and it’s recommended by pediatricians in Canada and recognized by the Canadian Dermatology Association.

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Now tell me…

What’s on YOUR bucket list this summer??!

This is a sponsored post. All opinions, including my intense hatred of winter, are my own. 

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8 glamorous (& easy!) hair updos that will hide your ears

When I posted 10 tutorials for easy, sexy, summer hair updos last month, it made me feel kind of depressed.

But it wasn’t because I couldn’t master the techniques in the tutorials or anything like that.

Nope.

The reason was quite simple: I don’t like wearing my hair up because I don’t want my ears to show.

Why?

Because I wear hearing aids.

I didn’t always wear hearing aids though. Instead, I used to spend half of my day saying things like, “Pardon?”, “I’m sorry?”, “Excuse me?”, “WHAT??!” over and over and over again. But then my daughter was referred to a specialist after failing her first hearing test less than 12 hours after she was born (spoiler alert: she’s totally fine), and while I was speaking to her audiologist, I discovered there are now hearing aids for the kind of high-frequency hearing loss I’ve had since before I can remember.

So I got my hearing tests and I was fitted for open-fit hearing aids, and the world is suddenly louder and more enjoyable for me.

Which is fantastic.

But I’ve always been really self-conscious about my hearing and, even though I would tell my daughter to embrace a little flaw such as this, I prefer to keep the whole hearing aid thing on the down-low.

Which brings me to the point of today’s post.

After feeling so down in the dumps about the fact that my vanity won’t let me sport all of these sexy summer hair updos outside of our home, I decided to get back on YouTube to find some hair updo tutorials that hide your ears.

And since I know there are other people out there who want to hide their ears as well, whether it’s because their ears are too big, they regret having their ears pierced a thousand times in each ear when they were a teenager, or they sport hearing aids like I do, I decided to share them all with you.

Let me know what you think!

Whether you (or your daughter) are self-conscious of your ears like I am, these easy tutorials are just what you need to teach yourself how to look glamorous this summer!

1. Easy, Half-Up, Half-Down Updo by MakeupWearables Hairstyles

This works best for long hair, but is definitely doable for medium-length hair as well.

2. Retro Bouffant Updo by Kayley Melissa

I was a bit skeptical, but she REALLY pulls this one together, and it’s an amazing look for a fancy occasion!

3. Sideways French Twist by The Small Things Blog

This wouldn’t completely hide my hearing aids, but it would definitely cover big ears!

4. Casual Half Up Updo by The Small Things Blog

I love this one – it’s quick, easy, and hides my ears perfectly, and it’s not too dressy for preschool drop-off and pick-up.

5. Twisted Updo by The Small Things Blog

This is a really fun updo, and I find I can adjust how long my hair sits over my ears to give me maximum coverage!

6. Romantic Chic Updo by atKristaBradford

Perfect for weddings and office Christmas parties (but probably a bit much for the park or the zoo)!

7. Two Strand Braid Hairstyle by Luxy Hair

I love how fun and relaxed and messy this look is, and you can easily hide your ear by simply pulling the hair overtop of your ears to make sure they are covered!

8. Soft romantic ponytail by Luxy Hair

This ponytail sits so low, it’s easy to pull your hair over your ears for maximum coverage, and it’s a classy style that can be dressed up or dressed down.

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5 tutorials to teach you how to draw natural-looking eyebrows

I started to get serious about makeup about a year ago, and one of the most important tips I’ve learned through watching makeup tutorials on YouTube is the importance of grooming, shaping, and filling in your eyebrows as they go a long way in not only softening your look, but also in opening up your eyes.

The only problem is, I was not blessed with naturally thick eyebrows, and no matter how much time I spend in front of the mirror, I am never able to make my brows look natural.

But that’s about to change.

I finally found some time to research tutorials to teach myself how to draw in perfect, natural-looking eyebrows, and after putting the techniques to the test over the last week with fantastic results, I decided to share the tutorials that helped me the most.

Good luck, and please share any additional eyebrow tips and tricks you have in the comments section at the bottom of this post!

Love the look of groomed, shaped, thick eyebrows, but have no idea how to sport it without looking like a clown? Me too! But thanks to these 5 fabulous tutorials, you can easily learn how to draw natural-looking eyebrows. And it's not as difficult as it looks!

1. Simple Tips and Tricks to Help You Get the Perfect Eyebrow by gossmakeupartist

Did you know that a smaller eyebrow arch makes your face look younger? Neither did I! But thanks to this tutorial by Wayne Goss (my all-time favorite makeup artist!), I’ve learned the importance of subtly as well as where my eyebrows should start and finish, where my arch should be, and how to make my nose look smaller.

2. How to Get Cara Delevingne Eyebrows by gossmakeupartist

If you already have full eyebrows, this is a fantastic tutorial to show you how to give them the perfect shape while still maintaining a natural look.

3. How to Fill in Thin Eyebrows by Michelle Phan

If you don’t have naturally thick eyebrows, this is a great tutorial to show you how easy it is the draw natural-looking, full eyebrows. And she makes it look so easy!

4. How to Get Glamorous, Naturally-Looking Eyebrows by TheChicNatural

This tutorial will teach you how to get a more formal, polished look with your brows. I was a bit skeptical at first, but she really pulled the look off, and shared a great tip to teach you how to make the start of your brows look more natural.

5. How to Fill-In and Sculpt Your Eyebrows by Jaclyn Hill

If you like a more draw-in look with arches, this tutorial is just what you need to figure out how to get the look you love. This is a little too drawn-in for my liking, but it is full of great tips and tricks!

 

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A fantastic tool to get your kids excited about learning

When I was a kid, summer vacations meant trips to the park, lazy days in the pool, play dates with friends, fireworks, walks to our local convenient store to buy freezies and ice cream cones, and embarrassing family outings.

(Like the time my father did this to my mother at a company BBQ.)

But when my family moved halfway around the world to a little city-state called Singapore, summer vacations weren’t AS exciting.

Now, don’t get me wrong. My sister and I still counted down the days until we didn’t have to wake up early and spend our evenings doing homework, but since most of our friends returned to the US during the summer months and my family stopped going on road trips shortly after my 7th birthday, the words, “I’m bored” came out of our mouths at least 3,400,603 times a day.

(Which might explain why my mother went back to work the moment I was old enough to stay home alone…)

So we were always a little excited when school started up again, even though we were more than a little rusty in the learning department after so much time in front of the TV.

And since I like to rub it in my mother’s nose that I’m more attentive and involved than she was (even though you and I know that’s not always the case), I make it a point to keep my daughter busy during the summer months.

A fantastic tool to get your kids excited about learning

She goes to summer camp Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.

We do mom-and-me gymnastics on Tuesdays.

We have a mom-and-me day on Thursdays, where we pick fun activities to do in the city together.

And we spend lots of time at the park with my husband on the weekends.

But 9 times out of 10, we end up with more free time than I know what to do with, and since my daughter and I are too see-through to spend much time in the sun, I am always on the hunt for things the 2 of us can do at home in the afternoon when nothing (and I mean NOTHING) will keep her occupied.

And because my child is not really one who enjoys crafts, but LOVES to learn, I was really excited when I saw that Mark Cuban invested in Zoobean on Shark Tank in April.

Have you heard about Zoobean?

Zoobean 1

It’s a service that curates apps, books, and educational resources for children, and it’s an excellent way to keep your kids engaged during the summer months so they don’t suffer from summer learning loss.

I recently had the opportunity to test out the Zoobean Expert service, and I was blown away. With this service, I have access to different educational kits centered around themes my child is interested in. For example, after her summer camp had 2 firefighters come in to speak to her class about fire safety a couple of weeks ago, I was able to download a ‘Firefighting’ kit that includes book and app recommendations, as well as relevant discussion starters and activities my daughter and I can do together to keep her engaged and learning (and occupied!) at home. I particularly loved the ideas it gave me to help create a firefighting-themed sensory bin, and I love the classic Donald Duck cartoon that was embedded into the kit!!

With my membership, I also have access to a full library of apps and books (we LOVE playing the ‘Little Matchups ABC – Alphabet Letters and Phonics Matching Game’ together!), and I’ve been matched up with a personal expert who provides me with personalized recommendations based on my daughter’s interests and learning level each week, as well as links to articles that are of interest to me as a parent.

We’ve been using Zoobean for a couple of weeks now, and it has done wonders in giving the 2 of us something to do TOGETHER in the afternoons, and I’m amazed at all of the different ideas the kits provide me with.

Zoobean 2

There are book and app recommendations, indoor and outdoor activities, family time ideas for the weekends, media resources with links to awesome YouTube videos, and let’s not forget the cute little rhymes about dinosaurs my daughter adores!

Excited to find out more about Zoobean?

I thought you would be.

And that’s why I’m giving you some goodies today:

1. You can get $10 off an Expert membership using the coupon code “EXPERTCLOUDY”

2. You can enjoy 20% off the Home Delivery service using the coupon code “HOMECLOUDY”

Just click the image below to redeem your coupon code now!

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But wait! There’s more!

I’m also giving away one 3-month Home Delivery Service today, which includes:

-Unlimited themed kits per month

-The ability to share content with up to 3 additional people

-One book delivered to your child by mail each month

-Two awesome app recommendations and app companions

-A 50% savings on custom kits

Aren’t I awesome??!

You can enter the giveaway using the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win, and then head on over to the Zoobean website to learn more about this awesome tool for you and your kids!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck and enjoy!

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of ZooBean. The opinions and text are all mine.