to everyone who so kindly took the time to offer me advice and encouragement: thank you SO much! its strange how this works, but just writing it all out and hearing that i'm not the only one has been the biggest help so far. also, tristan hasn't had any 4am mornings since then (fingers crossed)...he's been awake pretty regularly at 5am, which i feel i can actually do. this requires that i'm in bed by 9pm which isn't so bad. most everyone gave me advice to feed him right before bed which i honestly had NEVER thought of before!!! when he was nursing, i always gave him a top-up before he slept, but for some reason i just never thought of him still needing something at this age. so i've been giving him a little bowl of snacks while he's in the tub, things like almonds, or cheese or cereal. he loves it and tries to feed it to his toy dinosaurs and rubber duckies. thank goodness he doesn't mind soggy food :)
i also liked the advice someone gave about a heavy blanket making him feel grounded. when we visited canada last month, it was much colder there and i'd always put a nice blanket over him. he ended up sleeping until 6:00 by the end of our trip, so i'm thinking those 2 things may have something to do with one another. however, its still quite warm here, so i'll have to wait a month or two before adding any layers...in fact, i've got 2 fans going in his room right now!
blackout blinds are something we've had to do since he was just small...fashioned by my dad for cheap, its just sheets of aluminum foil taped to the inside of his window, then 2 dark blankets over that. it is pitch dark here until around 6:30am, so i know the light isn't waking him. he also hasn't been swaddled for quite awhile now (i know, i thought i'd NEVER get rid of that thing) so that's not bothering him. he is just an early riser and i love the idea of the alarm clock once he's old enough to read numbers.
we just got back home from a weekend visiting family up in LA. it was a 3 hour drive and tristan did AMAZINGLY well in the car, sleeping an hour each way and only getting fussy the last 5 minutes of our drive home. we had a fantastic time while there, but its always nice to arrive back home... though the million loads of laundry i could do without. speaking of which, i need to get back to that. have a great week everyone....check back soon, i've got another post swimming in my head!