Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sleep Training PLUS a GIVEAWAY

Sleep Training PLUS a GIVEAWAY!

My (little) experience, words of wisdom from Sleep Training expert Melissa Brown, and suggestions from the well known book, Baby Wise:

Question And Answer Section with our sleep expert at the bottom of this post....

The benefits of sleep training are endless... But it ain't an easy feat. I started the beginning phase of sleep training "loosely" around 4 weeks old. I read up on it online, and have mostly been using the book "Baby Wise" by Gary Ezzo & Robert Bucknam, as well as consulting other mamas who have gone through this process with their own little ones. My next book on the list is "Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child" by Marc Weissbluth.

It seems much easier than it actually is. A lot of being a mom seems easier than it actually is when you haven't yet made the decision to have a baby.. I never thought I'd be the mom that cried at the site of her baby getting shots, who had anxiety about leaving him for the first couple of times, who'd be protective & not want to share his heart with any other woman, who would take picture after picture of his every move not wanting to miss a beat, or the mom who's heart just aches whenever he cries or whimpers in the slightest way. But I am. And I am so pleased that this is the mommy that God made me to be. My son will forever know how loved he is.  

 With that said, for those mommies who decide to sleep train more power to you! It takes determination, a strong mama, patience, support, consistency, and planning. I've heard the best time to start is when they are still really young (between 2-6 weeks is what I've read). This is because babies form habits quickly. If you rock your baby to sleep for 3 months straight for every nap and each time you put your baby down at night they're going to be upset when that all the sudden stops when it's all theyve known. Same thing goes for nursing them to sleep or cosleeping (GUILTY) and the list goes on. When they're newborns they usually fall asleep easily anyhow, it's waking them up that's tough! Lol. So we started to somewhat sleep train at 4 weeks.. I started to put Cash down when he was drowsy not yet asleep so he will learn to self sooth and put himself to sleep (Babywise). I also use two sleep props: his pacifier and his sleepy sound lamb that creates white noise with the sound of the ocean. The pacifier soothes him and the ocean sound helps him sleep and tune out other noises as well as helps notify him it's time to snooze. I decided on these two props on my own. Babywise has a chapter that discusses good and bad props. I feel that these are both beneficial and easy so i consider them to be good props to aid in his sleep (that's just my opinion). 

The most important thing I took away from Babywise specifically was the order in which I do things. Babywise is big on feed them first, then awake time (for at least 45mins after they eat @ cash's age) and then put them down for a nap by reading their hunger cues before they get overly tired and too fussy to sleep. I didn't really know what his hunger cues were but it took just a week to start noticing and learn them. Now its easy for me to tell when hes getting tired & makes putting him down for a nap much less time consuming. His naps at this age are supposed to be at least an hour to and hour & 1/2 and will increase in length as he gets older (but he will also have less naps throughout the day. He takes 3-4 right now. You're supposed to set a wake time in the AM to start the day so that you have more of a schedule for naps and feedings. This is especially important when you are a momma that has to go back to work! Schedules have to be flexible for your baby so they can eat more when going through a growth spurt etc. Schedules are big for family health by giving mom and dad some alone time  because baby will have a set bed time as well as giving baby the structure and stability he needs and mom and dad the predictable times of day that the baby will need certain things .. you can plan around it and establish a routine which makes planning your day much easier. A set wake time has been a little more of a challenge to be honest because some nights that he's up more often I get less sleep and I'm tempted to want to sleep in past the wake time we set. I'm working on being more disciplined ( ;. Cash was stuck eating snacks every hour and half for weeks when he was first born and then I started implementing the feed, awake, nap schedule as well as tried to space out his feedings to 2 1/2 to 3 hours stretches. And within 3 days he was on a 3 hour feeding schedule (much easier for mommy to have a life and not feel like a slave to the boob). This was at 4 weeks old. So needless to say, I was a fan of babywise right away!

Babywise is all about having a schedule but also being flexible. It's about the parent assessing the babies needs and deciding on what to do from there. Verses other methods that tell u to allow the baby to demand what he/she needs (which the book says moms will demand feed when in reality the baby might need something else and the mom needed to assess instead of act on it right away.. These babies tend to end up snacking.. Which is exactly what my cashy was doing up to 4 weeks old before I made some changes).  

 I really appreciated the first chapter about putting your marriage first and how it is the greatest gift you can give to your child. This is more of a challenge then one might think, at least it was for me in the beginning. I was feeding our son every hour & a half, irritable from lack of sleep, i had a newborn constantly dependent on me & needing me almost every minute of the waking day, a new moms hormones are all over the place from labor and also from breastfeeding, and the list of crazy goes on. I also had such mommy guilt when cash was awake if someone wasn't talking to him or playing with him & giving him attention because he was too little to play on his own or acknowledge Toys. I know, I'm ridiculous but that's just me. I was so hard on myself in so many ways ..for example about making sure to put my phone away ( unless taking a photo/video of him of course, ha) and being attentive as best as I could. But I realized me trying so hard, too hard, led to me feeling stressed.. And that doesn't do anyone any good. Especially my poor hubby who wouldn't know what to do to help. I work In the mental health field so my existence will always be to strive to give my family all of me & to make sure they never feel neglected or unloved or insignificant or have to compete for my love.. Basically I want to give them the healthiest life, the best life possible with the impact a mother can make. I have now learned I'm never going to be a perfect mommy & to be okay with just being my best and doing my best. With this outlook I can relax a little more & enjoy our family more. I can be okay with being 15-20 minutes late on feeding cash (if he isn't upset & crying his little heart out), I can stop worrying so much about germs & go grab a bite out to eat with my main boys, & I can leave him with his grandparents & know that although he may get off his routine, it's best for mama & daddy to have some alone time together & good for cash to have some time away from us and alone time with his loving grandparents. So I've learned in these past 2 months to have balance, to give your stressors to God & to be okay with your best & know that is enough. My husband is my best friend & is in this with me learning the in's and out's of being first time parents. And more specifically cash's parents. 

I'm just in the beginning stages of sleep training (or attempting to). I've already ran into snags like when Cash got his 2 month shots and slept for a 3 1/2 hour nap instead of 1 to 1 1/2hours & threw off our schedule.. Or how he started waking up from naps after just a half hour for multiple days and nothing would get him back to sleep (I didn't pick him up though., I tried jus comforting him, putting my hand on his cheek or his chest, my cheek to his cheek, giving him his paci, etc). So I'm still learning and doing my research and currently finishing Babywise and then going on to the next sleep book until i find what works... 

 But I have some exciting news for you mamas that are right there in this with me and having trouble figuring out these so called "snags" that throw off all of our hard work. I know there are some of you new mommies who are also struggling with figuring all of this out ..along with our babysitters, husbands, and grandparents that also watch our children.. And I know how difficult it can be when you are training them and no one else in your support system has read the material you have read cover to cover to train your baby to get better rest. (My husband is currently beginning the book! Lol). Well, I have some great news for you.. Some help! A savior who can make your greatest wish come true & give you the support and counsel you need .. Keep on reading.. 

 We are most certainly blessed to have Melissa Brown giving her professional input today. Melissa is an Infant Sleep Consultant and Family Care Counselor. She has her masters in Pastoral Care & Counseling and has her CPE certification, Melissa also has extensive training working with parents and families in times of high stress and/or transition, you can scope her website here: for more details. She offers consultation to help you get your little ones sleeping through the night at just 6-8 weeks old. She is an expert to say the least! She's has been helping my sister Kelsey sleep train her son (Canaan) whom had some difficulty getting back on his routine after teething and going on vacation (sound familiar? Ya it happens to the best of us!). You put in all this hard work for months day after day and night after night just to have everything get all out of sorts once they go through a growh spurt, get sick, go on vacation, or begin teething, crawling, walking or eating solids. Sheesh! This is where Melissa's one on one consultations come into play. She had my little nephew back on a routine of sleeping through the night 6:30pm to 6:30am and two structure nap times at the same time every day for approximately two hours each! It took just 2 weeks and he was better than back on track! Do you want her help?

Well, sweet dear Melissa is offering a GIVEAWAY of $100 dollars off  one of her packages to one of my readers. All you have to do is follow my the side bar and follow through entering your email.  (you can follow on Instagram here if you'd like to as well: tessaarmstrong8).  I will pick someone at random in two weeks (October 12th). Please leave a comment below with your email so I can email the winner & give you details.
She is also offerring 10% off all packages for ALL of my readers for the next 2 weeks (ends on OCTOBER 13th).  Let her know you were sent from this blog to get this discounted rate.
(you must be on a computer to comment and follow.. it wont work from your cell phone. I do apologize for the inconvenience in advance)

Let me just say that
Melissa gave me just 20 quick minutes of her time yesterday (as i begged and pleaded for her help) & those
twenty minutes have impacted my day for the next YEAR! She let me ask specific
questions about Cash's sleep habits and his schedule as of late. As i mentioned
previously, he had his shots this week and has been thrown off since! I also
had only managed to get him to sleep a 5 hour stretches as his longest sleep
stretch to date.  SOOOOOO after
implementing her suggestions for just ONE night my little guy only woke up to
feed ONCE! He went from feeding 3 times a night to ONCE in just one night of
doing exactly what she recommended. I highly suggest you email or call Melissa
and discuss working with her to get your babies/toddlers on track. Today i feel so much
more rested & my little one has currently been sleeping for a 2 hour nap as we speak, when he was on
this whole kick of only napping for 30 minutes the past two weeks! My mind is blowwwwn. She
is a goddess.


Melissa offered to answer some of the more common, yet difficult questions I have found people have in regards to sleep training a baby: 

 1) What is one of the most important/crucial things to know/follow/or do when it comes to sleep training a baby? 

Melissa: Sticking with a routine. Babies thrive on consistency and knowing what to expect. They do so well in an environment where they are able to get fed before they get super hungry/cranky and put to sleep before they get overtired. Following a schedule gives them the security that all of their needs are being met. Following that same theory a consistent bedtime and wake time really make a difference! And side note- both parents being on the same page really helps! I truly believe putting your marriage first is what's best for the family and both mom and dad need to be on board when deciding to sleep train and work on a schedule. 

2) What is the most difficult thing about sleep training and how do you overcome it? 

Melissa: The time or rather the endurance it takes to work through it. I have clients that get very discouraged the first week and feel like things are chaotic and never going to work and then the next morning I will get the text "He slept through the whole night!! He is still sleeping what do I do?!?" I know its so hard when you have 3-5 days in a row and nothing seems to work, you are establishing the routine and you have to give your little one time to adjust and then once they do you just keep moving forward. It is so hard for some to stick with it, but if they do they always are happy with the results! 

3) What are your "go to" most favorite tools you use to help babies sleep train?

Melissa: For newborns: The Miracle Blanket, a sound machine that goes ALL night, black out shades, a fan, and sleeping on an incline. As they get older I love Aidan and Anais sleep sacks instead of the swaddle and the Little Giraffe Lovies- they help them feel secure and self soothe as they continue to learn to transition themselves through the different sleep cycles.    

Tessa:  (I dont know about you guys but ill be going out and purchasing ALL of these.. Can I get an "AMEN"!?!?! I told you shes our savior!) 

4) Many moms fear that their child will feel abandoned and will suffer psychologically and emotionally due to the "cry it out" method. What do you have to say in response to their fears and the method? 

Melissa:  I get asked this ALL THE TIME. And Tess with your background I think you could have some things to say about this as well :) They are not suffering emotionally or feeling abandoned when you let them "fuss it out" (that's what we do at SleepShop  :)) .Quite frankly they are mad or confused that they are not being held or rocked to sleep and there is frustration involved as they learn their new skill of putting themselves to sleep. They cry because that is their only way of communicating and they are trying to figure out themselves what the crying will get them. A baby NEEDS to learn how to put themselves to sleep and how to self soothe and the ONLY way you can allow them to learn that lifelong skill is to let them practice. They are babies so it is baby steps to get there but just like we sit and teach our children to crawl and walk it is a process and often times a process that can be frustrating. However the end result is always worth it. I don't like to say you just let your baby "cry it out" you let your baby work it out to put themselves to sleep ;) And I believe in a gentle approach to do that. I have never had to just let my babies cry all night and then be done. I provide a schedule and a program that slowly stretches a baby's sleeping time out little by little till they are sleeping the desired amount of time. 

Tessa: I completely agree. I am no sleep expert, but I have studied the human mind & have my masters in Marriage and Family Therapy and have taken many courses on child development. Melissa is spot on when she says that a baby's only way of communicating is through crying.. thus, when our little ones cry it can sometimes be more traumatic for the parents than it actually is for the child. I love melissa's perspective on letting our baby "work it out" and "fuss it out", its their frustration in trying something new for the first time and not getting instant gratification of being picked up and rocked right away. I dont know about you but I dont want my sweet little boy to grow up always needing instant gratification.  God made babies to cry to give them a way of communicating and expressing themselves, it isnt a scary thing for a baby to cry, it is normal and infants on average cry 2 hours a day.  Normal, healthy crying. Between birth and about 6 weeks of age, the amount of crying typically increases to almost three hours each day, no matter what you do! After that, the fussing should eventually decrease to about an hour a day. (

5) How long do you think it should take for a baby to be sleep trained if they stick to the routine/plan?

Melissa: This depends on the age and the consistency of the parent. Babies over 5/6 months it is usually about 8-11 days. Newborns that begin with parent directed feeding and nap schedules will usually be sleeping through the night (9 hours) by 6 weeks and (12 hours) by 10 weeks. Toddlers or babies around 10 months sometimes take a couple weeks but again that depends on the comfort of the parent and what they are willing and wanting to do. 

6) When babies go through the aformentioned changes such as crawling, eating solids, growth spurts, and teething, do you have to retrain a baby all over again or what do you recommend to your clients? (Many mamas have shared with me that when their child started teething they went from sleeping 12 solid hours a night to screaming crying 3 times a night!)

Melissa: I get lots of calls when those changes happen! And a lot of mamas have issues with the 4 month sleep regression as well. My experience is that most babies that are truly sleep trained have some hiccups but those are usually resolved within a couple days. Now don't get me wrong there are some delays or what seem like regressions in this process but they will usually get right back on board as long as the parents stay consistent with their routine and continue to provide that schedule for their child. Issues arise when parents change what they have been doing and inevitably start forming habits that they don't want to continue with (ex. a baby gets up for teething and mom rocks baby back to sleep every time that happens. Then every time the baby gets up after that they want to be rocked back to sleep.)

I asked Melissa for a chart for my readers to know the ages their child should be sleeping what range of hours for night time and naps, heres what she said:

Newborn to 12/14 weeks : should be sleeping 17-20 hours during a 24 hour period. Again this is not an exact science but wake time should really only be feeding time and a little bit of stimulation. 

12/14 weeks-9 month:  Two (2 hours naps), One (30-45 min) cat nap, and 11-12 hours at night 

This can continue on till about 9 months and then you would usually drop the cat nap. 

9 months-13/15 months: Two (2 hour naps) and 11-12 hours at night. 

15+ months: One (2.5-3 hour) nap and 11- 12 hours at night (when they drop their morning nap they usually increase their night time sleep by 1 hour or so)

Wow, thank you so much Melissa! Your responses were so informative & 
I know my readers & I truly appreciate your time & suggestions!

Go check out Melissas website & blog, as you can she has great insight to offer! And please enter to win the giveaway to get one on one help from her! Melissa Brown (Infant Sleep Consultant and Family Care Counselor)  Feel free to email her at or call (949) 842-2529

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

One Year Wedding Anniversary

One Year Wedding Anniversary

Heres a glimpse of our special day.. Its so wonderful to go back and look at our photos and relive it!

 Our entire wedding party and guests prayed over us

Reciting his vows

 The moment he first saw me

 I love the way he looks at makes me melt

 He surprised me by writing me a song and having the DJ play it at the end of the night.. and took me onto the dance floor for a spin

First communion as a married couple

 Our first dance to "One and Only" by Adele

 This sunset was unreal.. everyone said it was the most gorgeous sky they've ever seen. Taylor and I both felt that it was Gods sweet way of affirming our marriage.. we felt so blessed by this beautiful sky, Jesus was right there with us.

 A sobbing mess walking down the aisle to the man I waited my whole life for.

 Exchanging rings
 Kissing my groom!

I was so happy to see him. We locked eyes and I never looked away.

 I couldnt help but cry tears of joy while telling him how much he means to me & promising myself to him for eternity.

 Mr & Mrs Armstrong

 We had the best night of our lives celebrating

I cannot believe we've been married for a year (September 22 2012)! I feel like it flew by because of the pregnancy and having little Cashy.  Its been a heck of a year and one full of blessings and HUGE changes.  A year ago we made vows and promised each other nothing short of forever.  I only love you more today than a year ago my sweet husband.  Each day my love grows deeper for different reasons, so many reasons.  You have shown me how our love is steadfast, it is patient, it is kind, it is humbling, it is a breath of fresh air, it is hard at times, it is work at times, but it is fun and it is playful, it is special and supernatural, it is holy and wonderful, it is pure, it beats any hardship, it fights for us, it is beautiful, it is happiness, it endures all things, it is everything 1 Corinithians 13 speaks of.. it is my hope. Our love keeps me afloat, our love is something i can have faith in every day that no matter what happens we will survive by loving each other and leaning on Christ. Thank you for loving me in a way i've never experienced. Thank you for becoming one flesh with me and taking on everything that I am as a woman. Thank you for being my best friend, my greatest supporter, my advocate and encourager, and my other half.  Thank you for standing by my side through the first year, when everyone knows the first year is usually the hardest.  We've gone through so many life changes this year from careers, to dreams, to being newlyweds, living together, to getting pregnant, and becoming first time parents. The key is, we did it TOGETHER. And thats what I want for the rest of my life no matter where the road takes me I want to be with you, doing it TOGETHER.  I believe Jesus made you just for me and I for you. You are my perfect match Taylor Holland Armstrong, and now you have blessed me with the most perfect special little boy and you both have just stolen my heart & wrecked it in the best way possible. I am yours forever & always. Not even death shall part me from you. 

Heres to many more years, many more memories, fighting for our love and living life abundantly together in Christ. I love you my sweet sweet husband.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Easy Quick Healthy Meals

Easy Quick Healthy Meals

Recipe's here:

Being a new mommy I dont always have time to cook a delicious healthy meal for my family. I am not one to want to eat out every night, not to mention how unreasonably expensive that would be.. so I have to come up with ways to make cooking work.  Here are just a couple simple ways i still manage to cook and eat healthy without spending hours (that i dont have) in the kitchen.

Last week I grilled up a slab of Trader Joe's Pollo Asada (its premarinated and its sooo good). I chopped up some leafy greens, avocado, onion, tomato, and cilantro.  Add a dallop of greek yogurt on the side (instead of sour cream) and top with shredded cheese and tortilla chips (or sweet potato or lentil chips to be a tad healthier). You can add some tapatio and squeezed lemon for flavor.  Or traders had a really good cilantro dressing.  Quick, easy, and good!

Lately I have been crazy Salmon in any form.. stuffed, grilled, teriyaki, garlic and lemon, you name it ill eat it.  Two delicious meals i've been making the past couple weeks are from trader joes (again of course). One is Tj's coucous and dill stuffed salmon and the other is TJ's spinach and feta stuffed salmon. OH and actually we've also had TJ's cajun seasoned salmon (a little too salty but REALLY good). I usually cook it in EVOO ( you could use coconut oil for the flavor as well) and I add fresh squeezed lemon while cooking it and after.  Heat up a bag of TJ's brown rice (takes 3 minutes..remember people, we are talkiing QUICK meals ..i know the microwave isnt the best option but I didnt have an hour to wait for rice to cook).  And then choose a go to with rice and fish is usually broccoli (top with a little fresh parmesan and you are good to go).

Heres the spinach and feta stuffed salmon (comes with 2 slices of salmon) brown rice and broccoli.

Ready in 3 minutes

A pic of the Salmon stuffed with couscous & dill

Last night we had Linguine with Clam Sauce from Trader Joe's.  This is such an easy meal to was missing vegetables so i added a whole bag of steamed spinach to the mix as well as some grilled chicken with some red pepper flakes, parmesan, and fresh minced garlic.  I grilled the chicken in EVOO.  This meal took less than 15 minutes to make and was delicious if you are crazy pasta (i was in the mood for Fall so something warm sounded good). You could also add sauteed tomatos, onion, red peppers or broccoli to add in some more veggies.  

 Serves 3

Use an entire bag of baby spinach


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Fashion Post: Layered Necklaces & Hats!

Fashion Post: Layered Necklaces & Hats!

This summer is all about layering necklaces, a fun trend that im loving! You can take 5 different pieces and get a ton of different looks out of layering them together and swapping one out for another depending on what look you're going for.  I recently purchased a few new chunky necklaces from H&M & Forever21 (inexpensive and worth every penny) and have been layering them with older necklaces that I've had for years. Its a great way to use those necklaces that have been sitting collecting dust in your jewelry box.

See the look here: (this is a little dramatic, half or a third of the necklaces here would look amaze)

Here are a few i'm eyeing:

Stacked necklace & summer Fedora for a Laguna Beach date night at Asada

Here are some great wide brim fedoras id like to get my hands on:

Monday, September 2, 2013

Happy Labor Day!

Happy Labor Day!

We spent our labor day in beautiful Laguna Beach.. heres a snap of our delicious tacos, side order of blackened chicken nachos, & tofu mushroom burger at Taco Loco.. So delish! 

This little boy takes my breath away!

In honor of Labor Day and to celebrate on this beautiful summer day & long weekend I thought i'd share some of my favorite summer picks! With family bbq's, all day beach outings, hanging by the pool and vacations these items are my go to's...  Enjoy (:

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Healthy Kale Broccoli Slaw Recipe

Healthy Kale Broccoli Slaw Recipe:

This recipe is absolutely delicious and its healthy! Its a fresh summer salad that would be perfect for a labor day get together!

Its really easy and quick!  


1 12 oz Classic Coleslaw  store bought package (broccoli slaw you can purchase from any grocery store)
2 cups Rainbow Slaw (another purchase from any grocery store)
1/4 cup Sliced Almonds
1/2 cup Dried Cranberries
3 cups Chopped fresh kale (i chopped it finer than it comes in the bag, i also took all of the bones out)

4 tbspn Apple Cider Vinegar or white rice vinegar
1 1/2 tsp dijon mustard Dijon mustard
3 Tbspn Honey or agave nector
1/4 tsp Kosher Salt
1/4 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4 tbspn Greek Yogurt or light sour cream
1/4 tsp fresh black pepper

I usually dont measure things and just eye ball it, so this is me guessing what i used.. you can add things in like chicken or chopped broccoli, etc if youd like. Have fun with it!

Combine ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together the dressing in a separate bowl until it is smooth and emulsified. Then combine them and toss until the salad is covered thoroughly.
Let it sit for 30 mins and enjoy! My hubby and I ate it 5 minutes later, so you dont necessarily have to wait. This is delicious and a must try!