And just like that, things changed completely

After many hours and weeks and books and loooong nights, our little 5 1/2 month old learned how to fall asleep on her own. It might not sound like much, but in our house, it is the holy grail. For those that read last Friday’s blog I’m also gonna need you to go ahead and come in on Sunday, too…you know I even resorted to developing some serious strategies and tactics to address the issue. I don’t know if she got wind of what was to come or if she is just an overachiever (obv), but we didn’t even get to Phase 2 before she jumped to the finish line!

Her bedtime used to be a complicated routine of feeding, rocking and precise jiggling followed by a stealthy transfer to her crib and about an hour of standing vigil to catch any startles or snorts or stirs that might wake her up and cause us to start again. I would even try to catch her before she completely woke up in hopes a simple butt-tapping might be enough to get her back to sleep.

I am not exaggerating when I tell you my master-butt-tapping right forearm has a huge knot in it, my left shoulder is always tense and the bags under my eyes have taken up permanent residence. Par for the course perhaps, but these are all things I wouldn’t mind seeing in the rearview mirror.

People said it would get better. They said there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that one day I’ll forget these pains and even the fog of fatigue. Well my friends, I don’t want to jump the gun but I think I see the promise land.

Two nights ago we put Rose down drowsy but awake like every single person recommends. Usually it elicits cries and some dramatic leg thumps but this time she played a bit with her little blanky, talked, rubbed her ears, made a few puppy-like  whimpers and just as my husband and I thought we’d go up to rock her to sleep we did a double-take. What was that? She was asleep? We thought it was a fluke but when she woke in the night we let her do the same thing, hang out solo-style and drift back to sleep. And she did. Now we are in day 2 and she has fallen asleep on her own for every nap and for two evenings of a few wakes ups. She still gets fed once at night but when it isn’t time to eat, we just let her do her new little trick.

I am utterly floored and wonder how my baby changed so quickly. My quality of life has improved by a factor of 10, the sun is shining, I hear birds chirping and I am wearing a flower behind my ear. Sleep doesn’t matter unless you aren’t getting it. And then it changes everything. I know we’ll have some tough nights again but even having 2 nights in a row of only getting up once, instead of 3-5 times feels like a gift from the gods. Keeping in mind it has been 5 1/2 months of this. Momma deserves some shut-eye.

I love every version of my baby but this new good-at-sleeping-baby is getting lots of praise.

In fact, she is a dream.

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First Day of Preschool

Kiki’s last day of preschool was on Tuesday and it had me thinking back to her first day of preschool…..

It was finally here – the day I had been waiting for for what seemed like forever.  Kiki’s first day of preschool.  I had made it.  I was going to have a regular break from childcare duties two whole days a week.  Not exactly two whole days – preschool is only 9 to 12, but it sounded more exciting to me when I said two whole days.   I deserved this.  I worked hard for this.  I put in lots of long days and even longer nights to get us all to this point.  I was so proud of myself.  Oh, and I guess it was a milestone for Kiki too.

I bought her first-day-of-school outfit weeks ahead of time.  I ordered her the uber-popular and ridiculously adorable little bookbag that looks like an animal.  The night before her first day I fixed her a wonderfully filling dinner and got her to bed early.  I went to bed with butterflies in my stomach.

And then it all went to hell.  Kiki woke up twice that night.  Ugh.  And when she woke up at 6 am, I knew she hadn’t had enough sleep.  So I made sure the alarm on my phone was set and I walked my little girl back to her room and climbed into bed with her.  I put my phone under the pillow and tried to get comfy so we could both get a little more sleep.

I woke up a little later surprised that my alarm hadn’t gone off yet.  I reach for my phone to see the time.  8:40. What?!?!  8:40!!!  School starts in 20 minutes.  My alarm didn’t go off.  Crap.  Crap. Crap.

My mind starts racing.  We gotta go.  I have to wake Kiki up.  I have to get dressed.  I have to feed her breakfast.  Crap. Crap. Crap.

I don’t want Kiki to get stressed out on her first day of school so I’m somehow able to put up a calm and excited front for her all the while completely freaking out in my head.

To Kiki: “Hey baby it’s your first day of school!  Let’s get dressed!”

To myself: Motherhood fail.

To Kiki:  “I have a fun idea!  Let’s eat your waffles in the car!”

To myself:  Motherhood fail.

To Kiki:  “Who can put our shoes on faster?  Me or you? “

To myself:  Motherhood fail.

I manage to get our butts out of the house at 8:59 – some kind of record for sure.  I snap a few pics of Kiki – I don’t care how late we are, I am not missing out of chronicling this day – and get in the car.  I try to avoid looking at myself in the rearview mirror because greasy ponytail and morning breath were not exactly how I planned on presenting myself to my daughter’s teachers, but let’s not dwell.

We skip up the stairs (because skipping is speedy but I can pass it off as fun) and I peek in the door and see that her class hasn’t even started circle time.  I breathe a huge sigh of relief.  I did it.  I recovered from a huge motherhood blunder.  I put a smile on my face and I walk Kiki into class.

I look around the room and am filled with excitement for all the new experiences that my daughter is going to have and all the new friends she is going to make.  Then I smile as my fiercely independent little girl waves to me and walks over to play with the dollhouse.  No tears, no fear.  I am so proud.

Then the little girl already at the dollhouse stiff arms Kiki and says, “No.  You can’t play with me.”

Crap. Crap. Crap.  I hold my breath while I wait to see how she reacts.  Kiki looks unphased and the two teachers immediately come over to sort it out.

I slowly back out the classroom.  It’s out of my hands.  She is their responsibility now.  I am officially off the clock.

Play Date

Last Friday afternoon, my friend came over to visit with her two boys- an almost four years old and a fifteen months old. Let’s refer to her as Olivia, her older boy as Eric and her younger boy as Charlie. Lemon Cake has played with Eric on many other occasions at parks and Olivia’s home but they did not play regularly and frequently together. However, anytime they have been together, they played well and there were always lots of laughs and fun.

About forty five minutes into our play date, Lemon Cake and Eric started tugging back and forth over a car. I immediately stepped in and started intervening, giving Lemon Cake the language to use, coaxing him to take turn with the car…etc. Olivia put her hand on my knee gently and suggested, “Let’s stop intervening and see what happens.” Those words were glorious to my ears. It felt like a huge rock has been lifted off my chest.

As a parent who believes in minimalist intervention (in theory) I have yet to figure out how to actually not intervene when it comes to conflicts between Lemon Cake and his peers. It is difficult and complicated because every family has different rules/expectations for behaviors, and different interpretations of when a situation calls for intervention. Lemon Cake and Eric have similar levels of energies, interests, verbal skills and physicality, which makes them good partners in this “experiment”.

As expected, the conflict over the car accelerated. I was watching and sitting on my hands willing myself to not do or say anything. After all, this is what I want. I thought to myself, “As much as I believe in non-intervention, is this really going to work? Someone is about to get hurt or start crying.” At this moment, the ferocious tugging mixed in with some yelling between the two boys suddenly turned into laughter. They just started laughing like it has turned into a game. I couldn’t believe it. The entire interaction probably didn’t last more than fifteen seconds.

A while later, Lemon Cake started crying. (At this point Eric has cried twice so I was relieved that it was Lemon Cake’s turn to get upset.)Being the ever attentive mother that I am, I immediately threw myself over to offer hugs and comforting words, “Do you need a hug?” “Is your body hurt?” “Can you tell me where it hurts?” …etc. He cried with his back turned to me and did not respond to me once, as if he didn’t need my comfort. Eric started talking to him. I don’t remember if they were words of comfort or if it was about playing some other games, Lemon Cake broke into laughter and the incident was over just like that. It was a very successful minimalist intervention play date. The only times we had to intervene were when they were being rough with the pop up tent in Lemon Cake’s room, or when they were not careful enough around the little siblings.

I am keenly aware that it would not always go so smoothly like this play date even if both parents agree with minimalist intervention. A whole host of factors come into play; the children’s moods, energy levels, personalities, gender, indoor or outdoor play, are other children involved, are the parents “on the same page”…etc. The goal here is to be attuned to the children playing together and to observe before jumping to intervene. The goal here is not simply “don’t intervene”. I have been reading about “sportscasting” which I think would work well with conflicts that do need some guidance. Here is the link if you are interested:

http://www.janetlansbury.com/2013/04/5-benefits-of-sportscasting-your-childs-struggles/

I have started to do this only about a week ago even though I read this article a long time ago. Tried it once and didn’t work as the children were already in very heated conflict. I think it will take a lot of practice. I don’t know if it will work every time or if it will work at all. However, I do know that acknowledging each child’s feelings and wants always help in a conflict so it doesn’t hurt to try. When an adult swoops in to help, most often than not, there is judgment placed on the wrong doer. It also takes away a valuable learning opportunity for the children when they are constantly told, “share!” “be nice!” “don’t be mean!”

I will end this blog with another update to unlimited media experiment. It seems to be a pattern that Lemon Cake asks for more videos on the weekends. One of the weekend days he also got to watch the “Cars” movie which I would normally prohibit on week days especially in the mornings. I have also organized more easy and fun activities to help minimize video time. Today he barely watched two episodes, and he wanted to end the second one early so he can make pizza with me. He loves those coloring books that require invisible markers and would often eagerly do coloring after school instead of asking for videos. Water play is also a favorite- this is as simple as putting water in a big plastic basin, add some food coloring and various water toys. At this moment, I feel at ease about this experiment. Will keep you posted!

No No No

When trying to entertain a cranky child, especially a newborn, you can easily find yourself going to bizarre lengths to illicit a smile.  Little Miss Junior has started teething in the last week or two, and the tip top of her first tooth is peaking out of her lower gum.  Of course this event has been followed with a fair amount of drooling, an intensified desire to mercilessly gum anything in grabbing distance, and a solid uptick in cranky behavior towards the end of the day.  In that regard I’ve been experimenting with a variety of smile inducing activities to keep LMJ in good spirits.

Our first child enjoyed mummification in a swaddle while being bounced on an exercise ball.  Thankfully LMJ is her own woman with no real interest in extended bounce sessions.  She certainly enjoys a rousing chorus of “Grand Ole Duke of York” on Daddy’s knee, but perpetual motion is not her thing.  No, LMJ enjoys the finer things in life… pulling hair, chewing on most anything, and belches.  Yes my youngest daughter will break from a solid whining session and giggle at a good Daddy burp.  Atta girl.  This marvelous discovery came to me a couple weeks ago quite by accident, when an actual daddy burp elicited giggling delight from my 7 month old.  Ever the opportunist, I proceeded to burp in her face for the next minute or two, much to her amusement.  Red was a bit less thrilled.

I also introduced LMJ to her first ride on daddy’s shoulders in the last week.  This was a direct attempt to calm a cranky little girl before bedtime and make it through those last 45 minutes before bath-bottle-bed without a major meltdown.  Not surprisingly she did enjoy her first look at the world from a new vantage point, but mostly I think because I let her pull my hair with impunity and chew away on the back of my head like a toothless happy baby zombie.

So here I was in my living room two days ago with LMJ perched on my shoulders happily munching on the back of my hair while simultaneously trying to pull some out from both sides of my head when I caught whiff of a telling odor.  Either our dog had just relieved herself on my feet or, much more likely, LMJ was making a large deposit at the diaper bank while seated happily on my shoulders.  Bear in mind that I have both hands above my head holding her mid-section while she’s gleefully trying to pull all the hair off my head with her very small fingers.  I slowly raise my soiled offspring over my head and hold her in front of me at arm’s length to survey the damage.  Houston, we have a problem.

LMJ has recently just started enjoying her first non-milk meals… mostly things like baby cereal mixed with applesauce, but a whole new world of culinary delight.  The downside of these adventures in mushy eating are the new, ‘explosive’ deposits to her diaper fund.   As I held my squirming 7 month old in front of me, I knew immediately we had a 4 alarm fire in progress.  Not one to be bound by the constraints of a diaper, LMJ’s latest masterpiece was breaking new ground, all the way up her back.

Diaper changes right now are particularly difficult for a couple reasons.  First, LMJ is trying to roll/crawl/move most of the time.  She’s not mobile yet, but she’s working on it.  If you set her down she will auto-roll to her right like it’s her job and she’s never missed a day at the office.  She will then grab any object within reaching distance and put it in her mouth.  She is currently at war with the remote control and one day she will eat one if we let her.

It is this squirming soiled roll crazy child that I’m now attempting to separate from her very messy onesy without smearing either the wall or her face with the full contents of her diaper.  I manage to split her from the onesy, remove the diaper, and begin the Exxon-Valdez’esque cleaning operations.  It is at this moment that I look down and see that my grab n chew daughter has her right hand locked onto her soiled diaper which I thought I had put out of reach.  She is naked, not yet cleaned off, and draped in my right arm while my left hand is holding the very soiled onesy when Red comes through the door returning from a dog walk.

My inner voice is screaming ‘no! no! no! no!’ at the thought of her pulling that diaper to her mouth.  Police footage would later reveal it was more like ‘Ahhh!  Ahhh!  Ahhh!’ out loud to the room but I swear I was shouting no.  Red bursts out laughing while I careen our poop covered child over the changing table and get her to drop the diaper without any major disaster.  What followed involved a lot of soap and a new onesy.  No more post meal, pre-bed baby on shoulders walks… next time I’ll just burp in her face.

911

This is going to seem strange and cryptic, I’m sure.  It has nothing to do with today’s holiday and is kind of from left field.  But, it’s been on my mind, so…

A few days ago I caught this lengthy commercial/public service announcement about how important it is to know the signs of stroke so that you can get a stroke victim to the hospital ASAP.  It went on and on about how everyone that is normally with you should know the signs – friends, family, co-workers.  It was imploring people to spread the word so that they could help someone else, or so that someone could help them if they were to suffer a stroke.

I stood in front of the television, staring at this commercial, and thinking to myself that the people I am normally surrounded by are 3 and 1 years old.  I am not naive enough to think that I couldn’t have a stroke sometime soon (people of all ages get them), and I was left thinking about the multitude of other things that could happen to me (I could fall down the stairs, slip in the shower, have a heart attack, and so on and so forth) while I was alone with A and I.

We don’t have a home phone so I can’t potentially teach my 3.5 year old how to pick up the phone and dial 911.  My cell phone is password protected so that my kids can’t get into it, and so that a stranger can’t get into it if they steal it from me.  Of course it has the emergency phone call option, but i don’t think A is old enough to understand how to manage that.  And, if I was able to teach her, would she only do it in a true emergency?  With my luck she would call 911 while I was in the shower.

So I stood there thinking, “Well, I’m f*cked if there ever is an emergency where I become unable to use the phone.” (Pardon my language, but that is exactly what I was thinking.)  I tried to think of other things I could teach A, like running to another house for help.  The problem there is that I keep the door bolted and the only people home during the weekdays are the weirdos who live kiddie corner from us and I don’t think I want her alone with them.  All the other houses around us have people who are out at work.

Now I have this nagging feeling that I have to try to be proactive and think of a scenario that would save my life (if it came to that).  Do any of you have suggestions?  Has anyone else thought of this before?  Help!  Literally!

The Liebster Award

Thank you www.dogoodermama.wordpress.com for our Liebster nomination.  We are so pleased for the opportunity to share more of ourselves and bestow the honor on others.

Liebster Awards go to “up and coming” bloggers with less than 200 followers.  The origins of this award are unclear and are simply given by fellow award nominees to blogs that inspire them and that they enjoy reading.  “Liebster” means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, kind, pleasant, valued, cute, endearing, and welcome in German.

When you receive a Liebster Award, you have to give 11 random facts about yourself, answer 11 questions posed by the nominator, nominate 11 other blogs, and pose 11 questions for your nominees.  Here we go…..

11 RANDOM FACTS ABOUT US

  1.  The last straw that made my parents send me to an all-girls Catholic high school was when I cut school in the 8th grade.  Naughty naughty.  This makes me fear for my two daughters being teenagers simultaneously.  (Mrs. Miss)
  2. I sometimes can’t help but dance when I’m listening to my iPod even as I walk down the street.  (Mrs. Miss)
  3. I recently lost 30 lbs. (mch9206)
  4. The final episode of M.A.S.H. totally choked me up (Dad-E)
  5. “I like reading depressing books. Any books by Dennis Lehane, Wally Lamb and Hubert Selby are right up my alley. I have read She’s Come Undone over 100 times.” (mamakush)
  6. I remind myself of the elderly zookeeper in “A Sick Day for Amos McGee.” (MOE)
  7. I switched to decaf when I was pregnant and never back (a lot of people find this so odd).  (MOE)
  8. I took piano lessons for 4 years in middle/high school but I could not play you a single song now.  I did not retain it at all.  Guess I should have paid more attention.  (Moms)
  9.  I keep tweezers in my car.  Whenever we get somewhere and my daughter wants to stay in the car to finish listening to song, I will pull out my tweezers and pluck my eyebrows.  Weird, I know, but the natural lighting is so much better for seeing all the little hairs.  (Moms)
  10.  I once swam from Alcatraz to San Francisco…and lived to tell the tale.  (MumsySus)
  11.  I’m scared of cats. Seriously.  (MumsySus)

QUESTIONS POSED

What musical artist are you listening to these days?

The lady who sings on the CD “Toddler Tunes”(mch9206)

Our radio is frequently tuned in to the Playground on Sat and Sun evenings on WERS. Other than that, Peanut is also enjoying

some John Coltraine jazz (and sounds so cute when she tries to say “saxophone.”)  (MOE)

If you could be any animal, what would you be? Why?

A turtle because they’re awesome and always have shelter with them.  (mch9206)

I would be a dolphin so that I could swim and play in the ocean all day with my family and buddies.  (Mrs.Miss)     

What do you say when your (or someone else’s) kid asks you why the sky is blue?

The sky is blue because of the light reflecting off of the ocean and bouncing back up into the sky.  (Mrs.Miss)

Light from the sun is made of colors and blue shines through when light comes to our sky.  (Dad-E)

Favorite Food?

Cheese, is there anything it can’t do?  (Dad-E)

If $$ were no object, where would you travel on your next vacation?

Greece.  (mamakush)

How do you like your eggs?

Scrambled, poached and sunny side up!  (mamakush)

Favorite Reality TV Show?

I am obsessed with Survivor.  I have watched the show on and off over the years (more on lately) and am totally into this

season (Moms)

What was your very first job?

Other than babysitting, raking leaves in the neighborhood, and selling sno-cones out of my font lawn?  My first real job was

the summer I started high school.  I worked at the dentist office where my mom worked.  I filed patient charts and, if I was

lucky, cleaned dental tools.  Ooooh yeah.  I was living the dream.  (Moms)

What book is on your nightstand right now?

Right now I have Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems by Richard Ferber on my nightstand but I’m too scared to read it. I can’t

take little Rose’s cry and wonder if I’ll ever have the strength for sleep training. I’m waiting for a really terrible night to

inspire me to toughen up and crack the spine of this book.  (MumsySus)

What’s your guilty pleasure?

My pleasures don’t include much guilt but perhaps a slightly guilty one is that 2nd glass of Napa Cabernet-Sauvignon…but

some days call for it!  (MumsySus)

At what age is your earliest memory?

Probably around age 4 when my brother was born.  (MOE)

 

BLOGS WE NOMINATE!!!

 

www.wanderwithustravel.wordpress.com

 

http://niederfamily.blogspot.com/

 

http://grabyourgreens.blogspot.com/

 

http://parentinginpdx.blogspot.com/

 

http://mamasurfs.com/

 

www.memyselfandkids.com

 

www.kaelamoore.wordpress.com

 

www.5kidswdisabilities.com

 

www.onethousandsingledays.com

 

www.parentingandstuff.wordpress.com

 

www.morningstoryanddilbert.wordpress.com

 

QUESTIONS WE POSE:

  1. If you could have dinner with three people – alive or dead – who would those three people be and why?
  2. Who is your favorite Beatle?
  3. What was your best vacation?
  4. Who’s your celebrity crush?
  5. If you were to start your own business, what would it be?
  6. What was your favorite book from childhood?
  7. What TV show or movie do you like but wouldn’t want to admit to other people?
  8. What do you enjoy most about writing?
  9. What’s the best children’s museum you have ever been to?
  10. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
  11. If you were trapped on a desert island what three things would you want and why?

 

I’m also gonna need you to go ahead and come in on Sunday, too…

I will readily admit that I am a broken record. I continue to think, dream, and yes stratigize about sleep. Every child has their strengths and let’s just say ‘opportunities for improvement’. Since day 1 with little Rose, sleep is where she has LOTS of room to improve. And I pray to every god I’ve ever heard of that she does. Soon. Please. Have mercy on my soul…

Now that I’m back at work and spending my daytime hours thinking about conference calls, operational efficiencies, and every marketing buzzword you know and hate, I can’t help but to want to apply Business-Self to Mommy-Self. That’s right, just like I ended up planning our wedding in powerpoint and only somewhat jokingly referring to it as a ‘strat-plan’, I am using my day job to provide some hope or at least structure to my full-time job, Mommyhood.

So here it is.

A 3 Phased Sleep Strategy

Phase 1:

  • Successfully transition Rose from her bassinet in our room to her own crib in her nursery.
  • Phase out one of the night feedings by gradually extending the amount of time she eats at night by 30 minutes each night.

Phase 2:

  • Break down the sleep association she has with breast feeding. Feed her when she is wide awake and put her to sleep by rocking her or holding her.

Phase 3:

  • Help her learn how to put herself to sleep instead of relying on her parents. This will allow her to go back to sleep when she wakes up during the ‘brief awakenings’ throughout the night. Instead of fully waking up and needing us to help put her back to sleep.

I recently got ‘buy-in’ from my co-executive (husband) so we are pretty much ‘locked and loaded’. Execution of Phase 1 began right before her 5 month birthday and after almost a week, progress has been documented validating the path we’ve pursued. I’m hoping this 3-step approach will help us ‘achieve success’ by the end of her first ‘two quarters’ (i.e. 6 months). Progress updates will be provided to all interested parties.

And please make sure Rose gets the memo…Image

MumsySus, CEO