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My life has completely changed. OUR lives have completely changed….

Lyon is officially Sleep Trained, and I’m LOVING life right now.

Above:  my baby deep asleep for one of his two naps of the day.  Good boy.

If you missed my part 1, you can find a little bit of background info here about our need to sleep train Lyon.  In summary, we knew we had to bite the bullet when:

1) Kyu & I would play “Rock, Paper, Scissors” every night to see who had to take the 3 hour night shift that inevitably came.  Kyu almost always lost.

2) When it was my turn, I would go in with my iphone and headphones while I rocked him back to sleep.  Hey, might as well watch a movie on Netflix instead of going crazy out of my mind from boredom, right?

3) On the evenings that we stayed up until 1am doing work, we’d forfeit sleep & decided it wasn’t worth it to sleep for an hour, just to wake up again with Lyon from 2-5am.  Those made for rough, rough next days.

How did it play out?  Here’s a recap:

3 months old: Transition out of Swaddle.  I attempted crying-it-out (cio) with Lyon, but after 20 minutes and a good, hard cry for me downstairs, I ran back to Lyon, squeezed him as hard as I could, and vowed to never put him (and me) through this type of torture again.  I told Kyu – “If I have to, I will rock this baby to sleep for the rest of his life…” as my dear husband rolled his eyes at me.

Lyon started to get into a rhythm soon after that.  He was a great sleeper so long as I rocked him to sleep.  That lasted about 2 months.

6 months old: The waking up in the middle of the night began.  We thought it was a phase and blamed it on teething.

7 months old: Still no teeth, and the night waking worsened as getting him back to sleep proved to be harder and harder.

8 months old: I started to become an angry person.  Resentful to my husband if he got more sleep than me, frustrated at Lyon for keeping us up, mad at myself for allowing this to go on this long.  And so Sleep Training began:

Night 1

7pm – Went down for bed.  Rocked him for approximately 3 minutes until he fell into a very deep slumber.

10pm – Woke up crying hysterically.  Thought I could quickly comfort him, but I proved to be very wrong.  I ended up rocking him for a very long time…

1am – Finally fell into a deep enough sleep for me to put him back in his crib.  I vowed to not pick him up again that night.

4am – Woke up again crying.  I knew that if I picked him up, it would take him longer to fall back asleep, so Kyu and I waited patiently by the monitor as he learned to put himself back to sleep.

His voice was so coarse from crying, and it pained me so much to watch him cry.

I ended up turning off the monitor, crying in Kyu’s arms, and labeling myself as the absolute worst mom in the world.  “CRAP, THIS IS SO HARD.”

6:45am – Finally found his paci, rolled onto his comfortable side, and fell asleep.

8am – woke up for the day

Night 2

7pm – went down for the night easily.  He was so exhausted from crying the entire night before that falling asleep that evening proved to be quite painless.

10pm – woke up crying for 10 minutes

10:45pm – woke up again crying.  Somehow managed to do a 180 degree turn in the crib while having a fit!

11:45 – fell back asleep on his own

3am – woke up again crying.  I listened for a little over an hour.

4:20am – went to him thinking I could soothe him, but that proved to be wrong.  I realized that by being there, I was stimulating him further…

5:30am – finally went to sleep for the rest of the night on his own.

8am – woke up for the day

Night 3

7pm – went down for the night

10pm – woke up crying.  I turned off the monitor and let Kyu take over…  Could not bear it anymore myself.

11:30pm – found his paci, rolled onto his side, and fell asleep.

11pm – woke up and cried for 5 minutes.  Found his paci, rolled onto his side, and fell asleep.

Slept the rest of the night.  Started to see the light at the end of the tunnel as I began witnessing my baby learn to soothe himself back to sleep.  That night was a big turning point for us.

Night 4

7pm – went down for the night

Slept the whole night.

Kyu and I danced in circles out of pure parental bliss.  Success.

We spent the next few weeks fine turning his schedule, teaching him to fall asleep 100% on this own, and stretching out his naps during the day so that he was getting at least 15-16 hours of really good, deep sleep a day.

Lyon is now an amazing sleeper and is such a happy, well-rested baby.  We put him down awake now, and after about 30 seconds of crying, he can put himself down to sleep within 5 minutes.

It’s one of the most incredible things for us to witness.  We never thought that we could break him from his need to be rocked to sleep, but after about a week of hard Sleep Training and a couple of weeks of fine-tuning, Lyon was a pro.

Life is good.

10 Things I learned through this process:

1.  Have a consistent bedtime routine.  Babies thrive on routine…  Ours is bath, quiet play, read for 5 minutes, white noise, last bottle, then sleep.

2.  Enforce a daily schedule.  There is no use in Sleep Training if you do not follow a daily schedule.  Your baby needs to wake up at the same time everyday, eat, nap & play at the same time everyday.  The more scheduled his routine, the more his body will become like clockwork.  It’s hard for the mom & dad at times, but it leads to less surprises in the end.

3.  You are stronger than you think.  The hardest part is deciding to do this.

4.  Learn your baby’s sleep cues…then put him down for bed BEFORE that.  When Lyon is sleepy, he rubs his eyes and starts to get a little deliriously hyper.  Super cute, but we know the window of time before he gets overtired is soon after that.  We’ve figured out his schedule so that we put Lyon down to sleep 10 minutes before he gets sleepy.  He plays in his crib for a little, settles down, and falls asleep happy each & every time.

5.  Make this a team effort.  During waiting periods, do something enjoyable with your partner, like play cards or listen to music. If you find the crying intolerable after a while, let your partner take over so you can take a walk or a warm bath. When you’re refreshed, you can give your partner a break.

6.  Teach him to fall asleep in your arms, in a pack n’ play, in a carseat too.  There will be days when you’ll travel with your baby, and he’ll be away from his familiar environment.  To make it easier on everyone, it’s important that he gets as much practice outside of his room & crib as possible.

7.  Learn to understand your baby’s cries…  Hearing your baby cry is a horrible, HORRIBLE part of Sleep Training.  But what is so fascinating about what I learned through this process is that I’m now able to understand and hear Lyon’s cries.  I know when he’s hungry, when he’s got a dirty diaper, when he’s whiny, when he’s overtired, when he’s in pain, and when he’s just bored of being by himself.

There’s a lot more crying in our future together, I’m sure… So, I’m glad I’m learning this early.

8.  The 1st night is tough.  You’ll second guess yourself, hate yourself & feel like the cruelest mother in the world.  Remember why you’re doing this and lean towards the light on the other side…  If you need to leave the first night, do.  You can get through this, and every day you are strong, it’s one less day to teaching your baby a lifelong skill.

9.  Start when you’re ready.  I wasn’t ready at 3 months, not even at 7 months even when the rest of my family was.  I blame it on being a first time mom, but in reality – I know I’m just a wimp.  It took a miserable 3 months of no sleep, a little bit of pushing from friends & family, and an incredibly unhappy baby to give me the thick skin I needed to help him go through this.  But I was ready when we started, and I stayed the course through it all.

10.  Remember the long term advantages of this method:  a child who wakes up in the morning feeling rested, refreshed and ready to take in the world.  Lyon now naps better, eats more, feels more eager to try new things, is more alert & attentive to his surroundings… it’s really amazing.


When chatting with Laura of Moms on Call after our Sleep Training experience for an update – I realized that I learned something pretty remarkable about life and parenting through this process… I realized that teaching my son how to soothe himself to sleep was one of the first lessons in life I would teach him.  Witnessing him learn to fall asleep on his own was like watching my baby climb Mt. Everest!  Truly miraculous and such a proud moment for us.

Her response was incredibly meaningful to me:  “There will be many times in life that we have to stand back and let them learn new things.  Sometimes when we continue to “Help” we are really just “standing in the way”………”

By letting go and allowing my son to flourish, I know I’m growing up a little bit as well.  Crazy how life can be like that.

We just wrapped up a full day commercial shoot with 7 incredibly adorable kids & babies, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with the images.  Chaffee, her mother Nancy, and I have been planning this shoot for a few months now.  B Braithwaite has some big projects underway, including a move to a new location in Buckhead next month.  Everyone’s so excited!

Here’s a peak behind the scenes today with all of the babies, fun props, outfits, stylists, assistants, photographers, mommies, daddies and nannies!  I was excited that little Lyon got to take part in this project…crazy hair and all 🙂

Amazing how everything came together beautifully in the end.  Stay tuned for B Braithwaite’s big move next month to see the final images!

2011 was a pretty epic year for the Parks… probably one of the best years of our lives.  The start of our family, finding our dream home, celebrating birthday milestones, and all of the special little moments in between.

Here is a look at the cards we designed & sent out this year.  A fun way of remembering a pretty incredible year.

Happy 2012 Everyone!

This is me and Lyon the day after Thanksgiving.

I remember Lyon being up (which subsequently meant dad & I were up) for about 5-6 hours that night, and it was a sad sad sight at breakfast the next morning.  The 3 of us were zombies – eyes sunken, no expressions whatsoever, sleep deprived and clearly not happy.

I knew something had to change.

I battled with Sleep Training and crying-it-out (cio) for months, as I was uneasy with the concept and what type of psychological damage it would have on my baby.  But after 6 weeks straight of no sleep for my family, it was time to put my fears aside and go the route that all of my mom friends said was inevitable… “You have to let him cry-it-out, Alice.  Trust me, you’re doing what’s best for your family.”

So, in hopes of this blog post helping someone…a mother like me struggling with the idea of letting her baby cry… I’ve decided to blog my experience.  I’ve broken this up into two posts because of the amount of detail involved:  (a) a little background & information and (b) my experience & the results.  Here we go…

First some background info: Lyon is 8 months old now, in the 95th percentile in weight & height, eats about 25-30 oz of formula and 9 oz of solids per day.  Clearly, he’s not starving.  He’s also teething, which I believe is what disrupted this wonderful sleeper’s slumber at night.  He went from sleeping 12 consecutive hours at night + 3-4 hours per day to maybe 8 hours at night and 2 hours per day.  This led to loss of appetite, weight loss, fusiness throughout the day and of course, sleep deprivation.

I consulted with Laura Hunter from Moms on Call prior to starting Sleep Training.  As a mother of 5, Laura has experienced it all.  She was able to guide me through this experience while providing me the “tough love” I needed to get through this.

Here’s what she wrote me:


He can sleep through the night. He can put himself to sleep but you have not given him a chance to. Every thing we do creates habit good or bad.

If it were me, I would feed at 7/7:30pm, put him down by 7:30/8pm, awake, LOUD sound machine close by, pitch black in the room and get out. He will throw a fit for up to 1 1/2-2hrs. Then sleep for a couple and do it again all night the first night. It gets better every night. I do not worry about naps till we get through the night. Make sure you have breathable bumper pads so arms/legs do not get stuck.

The longer you wait the harder it is. But you have to do it when you are ready.

The stories I get almost daily when parents do this are amazing. Over and over it is “I cannot believe how happy he is”, “He wakes up singing now”, “he will lay in his bed for 30 mins talking to himself” etc.

You can give a small lovie if you like in the crib.

Plan B is to put him down and set a goal “I will not go in til ???” Then do not go in till set time then every few days move set time. This takes longer and to me is tougher then just doing it and getting it over with.



What I admittedly am HUGELY at fault is that I’m a rocker.  I rock Lyon to sleep every time.  I can’t help it – he’s so insanely cute when he falls asleep in my arms, and there’s an untold emotional connection that comes when your son feels safe and secure in your arms as he drifts to sleep.

Also, it’s easy.  I can rock Lyon to sleep in less than 90 seconds usually…

This is also where my biggest blunder is.  Sigh.  I’m supposed to put Lyon to bed awake so he can learn to self-soothe and fall asleep on his own.  If I had started when he was younger, say 3-4 months old, it would have been a lot easier.  Especially in times like this when he’s reaching developmental milestones…

In saying this, I believed crying-it-out to be so cruel.  Why punish Lyon for something that wasn’t his fault (more so, mine.  I shouldn’t have rocked Lyon to sleep for so long)?  So, I went to Laura again and asked for her support.  A few questions that I had:

Q:  What can I expect to happen over the next few days?

A:  First night is tough. They may cry on and off all night. Better and better every night.  Days may be a bit tired until through the night

Q:  This method seems somewhat cruel to me….almost like I’m punishing him for something that’s not his fault.  Will Lyon think I’m abandoning him when I don’t go to him like I normally do?  How will this affect him longterm?  Will he have abandonment issues?

A:  What is the truth? The truth is he is loved, in a wonderful family, and in a great home! It is three nights–5 nights. I would rather be miserable for a few nights than so exhausted that am not enjoying my family.

If you stay the course, and you as a family do not get your rest, you will start to become *gulp* resentful towards yourself, towards your husband, and towards your baby.  It is far worse to live that life than to try teach your child to sleep.

Q:  When he goes through his next developmental milestone (say, sitting up by himself & not being able to get back down), will I have to go through all of this sleep training again?  How will that be?

A:  Yes, but it won’t be nearly as bad.

I decided to Sleep Train in 3 phases:  (1) Sleep through the night, (2) Fall asleep on his own without rocking (3) Tie in everything for his naps.

My next post will be the reality of how it all unfolds, how/if I survive it, and what I learn from it all…  Fingers crossed, wish me luck!

Stay tuned!


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I have never been one to make resolutions for the New Year. My reasoning? There’s no better time than the present to make positive change in your life…whether it be the new year or a Thursday in March.

I’ve thought long and hard about 2011 however, and I realized that given my new life and my new role, there simply isn’t enough time to make all of the changes I want to. By the time I formulate a plan for action, something comes up and I have to deviate to plan B.

So this year, I’m prioritizing. I’m focusing on the below and letting go of the rest… Here we go!

1. Eat healthier, lose weight, exercise, sleep & focus on self. Seems like a cliché resolution, yes? But now that I’m in my 30s and the baby weight around my hips & thighs are becoming a constant reminder that I no longer have a fast metabolism, it’s time to set some goals. Goal #1 – no more daily cupcakes. Goal #2 – drink tea instead of coffee. Goal #3 – go for a walk/jog/run daily, even if it’s 20 degrees outside. Goal #4 – fit into my old jeans comfortably, even though we all know that sweats is all the rage right now. Goal #5 – Focus on self. In between obsessing over dinner menus & Lyon’s daily caloric intake, I’m going to start paying more attention to me and how I feel.

There, I feel better already.

2. Read more. I used to read a lot… I could get lost in a book for hours; it was my escape from every day routine, and I credit reading to sparking all of the creative juices inside of me. But then life and business and baby came along, and I found reading to be the first to be let go…. And like exercise is to my husband and routine is to my son, I know I need to read this daily to keep me going.

Oh, I’m also going to blog more!

3. Be more organized. This is another resolution I’m sure all of us share… I think I’ve read about 30 articles in 5 different magazines & dozens of blogs about Organization Tips for 2012. But really – I am a mess right now, and if it weren’t for my incredibly organized husband, I would have probably lost my kid by now. So, this year – I’m taking 20 minutes every morning and every evening to organize that day and the next. I’m clearing the clutter from my office that kills my creativity daily. I’m purging off stuff I don’t need or use. I’m donating more to Goodwill. And I’m going to keep our fridge stocked with fresh fruits & veggies so I can tackle both #1 and #3. Awesomeness.

4. Take NAPCP to new heights. Kyu and I spent many late evenings in 2009 brainstorming all of the ways NAPCP could benefit child photographers and improve our industry. Our list was staggering… and quite daunting to be honest. But we’re going to push aside our fear of failure, dig deep in our resources, embrace being in the red to promote growth, and cross off all the things on our list that we’ve always wanted to do. I’m excited!

5. Go on more dates, travel as a family, schedule coffee tea with a friend. The year goes by too fast to push any of these aside…

2012 is going to be about living life to its absolute fullest, every single day…even if I have to cheat on my diet a little bit.

Cheers to that!