Thursday, July 30, 2009

Stop. Collaborate. And listen.

It's five AM and I am awake again. Another restless night with the loudest baby in creation. I thank Providence that I do not require great sleep to function well(ish).

There was a moment yesterday. A moment that almost passed me by. A moment so thinly veiled in it's innocence that I nearly chose to pass it up.

A house in disorder. A bowl of brightly colored beads scattered across the floor. Raw chicken on the counter waiting to be turned into something edible. And a little girl asking me to dance.

It's easy to brush her off with the list of things that I must accomplish in order to feel sane. It's easy to sit her in front of the T.V. and make promises about a "later" that may never come. It's so easy to get swept up in the mundane details of the everyday that we forget what makes this life unforgettable.

And so I stopped. And we danced. We danced to Queen's Another One Bites The Dust. And we laughed. Once again in that moment I was reminded that these few minutes, these few precious minutes are the fulfillment of childhood visions.

Here we are. My daughter and I. MY daughter. I dreamed about these moments as a child. Forgot about them for awhile during the time I was a veritable Johnny Appleseed of "wild oats". And then, when the time was right, they found me.

So, we let the beads fall where they may. And we let the chicken sit on the counter (but not long enough to cause salmonella). And we danced. For a few moments all the things that seemed so pressing, fell away.

Sometimes memories happen all on their own. And sometimes we have to stop and make them.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Life....With Children

I have began and then erased the beginning of several different posts on several different topics. I believe I am running on such a consistent lack of sleep that a deep fog has settled into every crevice of my mind and until I lock myself in the closet or bathroom with a notebook or the computer I will be unable to gather and piece together the fragments of my thoughts.

So, until that day, let me invite you into the chaos that is my world right now.

(Sometimes) 5ish, coerced out of what feels like the first deep sleep of the night by Husband who wishes to have a few moments of conversation without the incessant chatter of children constantly bombarding us.

Make tea (Earl Grey...YOU KNOW IT) and coffee.

Search cupboard in a daze looking for my Thomas Jefferson coffee mug. I simply can't wake up well without the help of the profile of our third president.

6ish, Bid Husband farewell as he heads off to work.

Sit at kitchen table in a daze and marvel at the quiet.

Talk to God.

Compile a list of things that need to be done before the day ends. (some days I am more ambitious than others....hell, some days there is no list)

Look at facebook and try not to fall asleep.

Listen for baby in the monitor.

7:30ish Ellie wakes up.....we make a mad dash for the toilet and hope we make it there in time.

Respond to pleas of: I'm hungry, I'm firsty, with the appropriate food and drink.

Eat a grapefruit and wish it was pancakes.

Attempt to finish a Tae Bo video while not stepping on Ellie who is doing her own freestyle version which spans the length of the room.

Look around this tiny apartment and try to comprehend the mess that seemed to appear out of thin air.

Sing a song about cleaning up in a sometimes successful attempt to get Ellie to take all her junk back to her room.

Occasionally step on the pointy edge of some toy laying in the middle of the floor and hop around trying not to teach daughter expletives that want to fly from my mouth.

9ish Baby wakes up, sometimes happy, sometimes not, but always hungry.

Feed baby while visualizing all the calories being sucked from my body (preferably my butt) and transferred to her tiny little frame. What's mine can now be yours.

Talk in a high pitched voice and act like an idiot in attempt to coerce a smile or even the hint of a giggle from the baby. Well, at least it usually works on Ellie.

10ish Sing the "school time" song and lead Ellie like the Pied Piper into her room where I try to get her to sit still for close to 45 minutes.

Teach her the day of the week and the date. Go over letters and their sounds, numbers, and writing. The latter is proving more difficult that I thought it would be.

11ish Let Ellie watch a show while I try to get baby to nap. Some days are easier than others. Look into crying baby's eyes and tell her that if only I could trade her places, I gladly would . But alas, God has seen fit to make ME the parent, so shut those peepers and for heavens sake GO TO SLEEP.
Five minutes later. Reassure crying baby that I did not abandon her and am still here to usher her into a peaceful sleep which sometimes involves a little "Milk nightcap".

11.45ish Make lunch. Tell Ellie that while her Father may find ice cream an appropriate lunch time meal, I do not and therefore she will be eating something healthy and nutritious thereby securing my place as the "Bad Guy".

Eat some version of a salad or whole wheat sandwich and wish it was a steaming bowl of pasta smothered in a creamy sauce.
12ish Baby wakes up again and this time usually can't be talked or shushed into returning to sleep

Feed baby again.

12:30ish Put Ellie down for a nap

Contemplate blogging, but usually abandon the idea and instead opt to finish a few pages of one of the five books I checked out of the library.

1:30ish Try to get baby to nap again by any means possible. Go through tears and frustration once again. Sometimes give in and lay down with her which does the trick for both of us in minutes.

Dream about weird things

2:30-3ish usually get waken up by Ellie and make another mad dash for the bathroom. Once again respond to the hungry and firsty pleas with appropriate food and drink.

Really wish I could drink more caffeinated drinks.

Wonder where the day has gone and wish I had spent more time outside underneath the trees.

(sometimes) Go to the pool, after much gathering of things and preparation of the children.

Let Ellie play in the kiddie pool while trying to keep Ari happy.

Look at the lifeguards and remember all the summers of my youth spent swimming and laughing.

Miss my childhood.

5ish go home and get dinner ready for husband who will arrive home soon. Tired and hungry.

Make a mad dash through the house in an attempt to clean up the mess that has once again mysteriously appeared.

Look at myself in the mirror and wonder if I remembered to brush my teeth.

(sometimes) put on makeup and try to look like the woman he married.

Welcome Husband home and try to keep Ellie from bombarding him right away with feet and endless words.


Clean up dinner mess.

Bathe children.

7:30ish Jeremy puts Ellie in bed while I begin what can be a two hour long process of getting the baby to fall asleep.

9ish fall onto the couch and think about a hot bath and a glass of wine. Usually, it's just a thought.

10:30ish Go to bed and fall asleep with my earphones in listening to an audio book.

The next day: Repeat

Occasionally some variables that may occur are:

Putting on nice clothes and makeup

Completing some of the To Do list

Leaving the house

Fun, Huh?

Friday, July 17, 2009

Baby Books and Sleep Solutions

All right guys who read this blog, you may want to turn away now because unless you have children, you're probably going to be lost. I promise to write something amusing and mildly controversial for you in a future post.

So there's a ten week old baby at our house and she is NOTHING like my first child in any aspect other than those big doe eyes and skinny little legs. From the time Elsbeth was a few weeks old, I could swaddle her and put her to bed wide awake and she would put herself to sleep and sleep for several hours at a stretch. That was during the day. Sleeping through the night took awhile longer for us, I think because she was breast fed and I've heard breastfed babies need to eat more frequently. This wasn't a problem at the time though, because Jeremy was in Kuwait and I just let her sleep in bed with me and eat during the night whenever she became hungry. As any Mom who's done this will tell you, it's pretty awesome to nurse in bed. It's comfortable for me and the baby and I can pretty much drift back off to sleep.

Well, I thought the same method would work with this baby and that's when I realized that just like snowflakes, no two babies are alike. And this one is causing me some pretty big headaches. During the day, if we're out I carry her in a Mei Tei, an Asian style front carrier from baby hawk. She routinely falls asleep in this carrier which is kind of nice when I'm having lunch with a friend or shopping. Occasionally I can slip it off and put her in her cradle, but she usually doesn't stay asleep for very long that way. I feed her on demand which is usually every two to three hours although sometimes, especially in the evenings it's quite a bit more.

And then there's the evenings. She is very fussy at night and for a couple of weeks I wondered if she had colic. Nothing I did seemed to stop her crying. It wasn't an "I'm in pain" kind of cry, it was just an "I'm pissed" cry. Recently though, the evening crying has lessened but I'm still having much trouble getting her to fall asleep. I feed her, swaddle her, and then lay her down in a dark room with a relatively loud fan, and shhhhhhhhhh her until her eyes start rolling around in her head. Then I try to make my exit. It usually always ends in crying. I go back in, give her her pacifier which has most often fallen out, and try shhhhhhhhhing again with a combination butt pat. It has never worked. The crying escalates to the point where I think she's going to choke and I inevitably get in bed with her and nurse her to sleep and if I don't fall asleep myself, I make as quiet an exit as possible.

I have read The Baby Whisperer, The Happiest Baby on the Block, and Dr. Sears baby book. The only one I haven't read is Babywise which came recommended by a few friends. Here is where my struggles lie.
Dr. Sears is an advocate of attachment parenting, which encourages co-sleeping, babywearing, and other such methods of keeping baby physically near you. He makes the point that babies were near us physically for nine months and then we force them to lie in a dark room by themselves and push them around in strollers far from our bodies and this is not natural. He also points to cultures that routinely wear their babies and breastfeed several times an hour stating that there is little instance of colic and prolonged periods of crying. To that I say, it's all good and well to have your boobs exposed all day if you live in Africa, but it might draw some unwanted stares here.

From what I've heard, the Baby Whisperer is similar to Babywise in that they both advocate a schedule and a little "cry it out". Some things about the Baby Whisperer I like, but I am just not OK with crying. I know people who can let their children cry for over and hour, and I just can't. The thing that some may call Mother's intuition or the Mothering instinct sends up red flags when I hear my babies cry. I think when they're a little older short periods of crying are OK with "check ins" if needed.

So, here I am, torn between how to handle this needy baby while not betraying what my heart tells me to do. They're only small for so long; I don't mind rocking or holding her to sleep. I just want her to stay asleep for longer than 15 minutes without me having to lay next to her.

Here is what I propose to do. I plan to get serious about a schedule with her while still feeding her on demand during her awake periods during the day. For naps and during bedtime, I will swaddle and do the same sleep routine every time which will include the five S's of The Happiest Baby on the Block. I would truly appreciate any shared experiences from other Mother's (or Fathers for that matter) or advice. And it is my hope that if I am successful, this may benefit someone who is experiencing something similar.

UPDATE: As I have been in the process of writing this post, it is naptime and I decided to use it as my first attempt at my new plan. I fed her, swaddled her, gave her her pacifier, bounced and shhhhhhhed her until she was sleepy but not asleep. And then I put her in bed. She was quiet for about 10 minutes at which point she started crying. I let it escalate slightly and then went in and gave her the pacifier and shhhhhed her; she fell back asleep. She awoke a couple more times and I repeated the process, and to my great relief, she has now been asleep for over 30 minutes. This just may work. Now, we'll just have to see about night time.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

For the Pleasure of Your Eyes

I have about 15 different posts swimming in fragments around my presently addled brain. I can't seem to fully or cohesively extract one in particular, so I'm going to offer you a story that made me laugh to the point of tears recently. I'll end with a series on what's been offered in the "Foyer Freebies" lately, just in case you wee anxiously awaiting the next installment.

Lately, every day is an adventure for me. Learning how to manage two small children while staying relatively sane has proven, at times, more difficult than I imagined it would be. Elsbeth can be very willful ( I have NO idea where she gets it), usually when we're in public. Jeremy and I have had to regroup and strategize together to form a plan of action for these instances. He prefers to reward good behavior, while I prefer a good, old fashioned public beat down in the style of that screaming Mom you can always hear somewhere off in the distance at Walmart. "I said NO, you AINT gettin that toy! Granny already dun gotchu sumpin! Now you put 'at back fore I beat yer butt!"

Actually, I abhor the public spanking as much as it amuses me to observe it being done to other unruly little heathens. And I think Elsbeth realizes this and it is why she acts out more when we're in a public environment. So, I have taken to consistently enforcing time outs in the cart and then ignoring her screams and the judgemental stares of onlookers. Guess what? It's working. I threaten action and I instantly get the correct behavior 99% of the time. It has become a joy to take her places. And here is just such an example.

A couple of days ago we made a run to Target. I was walking with Ari in the baby carrier and Ellie was sitting in the seat of the cart. As I was shopping, Ellie kept me entertained with precious little songs and stories told to me in a strange little voice that was almost cartoon like. I wasn't giving her my full attention, only half listening, but occasionally she would say in the funny voice, Ohhhhh, my bewwy hurts. And then back to the singing or the story. This went on for about fifteen minutes.

We were in the shampoo aisle which was relatively crowded with about six or seven other people, when she says in the same funny voice, Ohhh, it stinks in here. Then back to the singing. I'm in the process of smelling different body washes when she says, Uh, Oh, we better getoutta here! I'm going poopy. And then. Then she let loose the loudest and most offensive sounding gas. It sure did sound like she had gone poopy. I began to laugh and could barely manage to get the words out to ask her if she had in fact pooped her pants. She looked at me with a huge Cheshire cat grin and said, uh-huh, I did. I started to laugh even harder and had to hold on to the shelf for support. People around us had been giggling for some time and it made me laugh all the more. Tears were streaming down my face.

I'll take the poopy pants kid any day over the screaming, kicking, dragging her feet monster I had been dealing with. Oh, and in the end, her pants weren't even dirty.

And now (insert drum roll) in the continuing series of Foyer Freebies, Here is what you COULD have gotten for free if only you lived in this building.

A parenting magazine, a mouse pad, and a children's bike helmet. Apparently, the part in the magazine about bicycle safety was overlooked.
Another mag, some plastic snack cups, some articles for a baby girl, and the fingers of a small child.
And, just because pureed squash wasn't bad enough...we're offering you green beans. AT LEAST thery're organic. And hey, maybe there's ONE baby in the world that loves them. And hopefully it lives in this very building.
Some questionable reading material, and (GASP) golden glitter spray with (ANOTHER GASP) a sponge applicator! That will go so well with my bedazzler!
And finally, some more shady and dog eared reading material.

You sure do want to move here now don't you?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Good Times

Growing up, my Father would often entertain us with stories about growing up in the fifties. The pictures he painted for me were so vivid, I could almost see him riding his bicycle to the barber shop his Grandfather owned in Broad Ripple and sneaking under the fence to go to the Indiana State fair every summer. Rolled up blue jean cuffs, white t shirts and a crew cut; life was so innocent then.

I wanted so badly to be transported back in time to live in the fifties. I watched Grease more than was good for me and had my Grandmother make me a poodle skirt which I wore every time there was a costume party. Although, now I've learned to accept the fact that this was meant to be my time on Earth, I'm still enamored with all things fifties. And every summer, I'm reminded of the movies I've watched and the stories my Father told me about that time and I'm taken back, if only for a little while.

It's usually the music that does it for me. I have a favorite playlist that I made the summer I lived with my parents while Jeremy was in Kuwait. I would like to share some of my favorite songs with you....enjoy

I dedicate all of these songs to my Father, who for me, created a world with words and in turn taught me to do the same.

And the artwork on this video....well, it can only be classified as pure genius. ;)