Posted in Children

Halloween #1

I was torn.

My motherly decision making center of the brain was shorting out.   What to do?  What to do?

The practical, frugal Rocket Surgeon side of me said celebrating EK’s first Halloween is ridiculous.  She’s nine months old for Heaven’s sake, she has no earthly idea what in the world we would be doing, she can’t even walk, much less ring a doorbell and say Trick or Treat.  She can’t even eat candy!  It’s silly to spend money on a costume she is going to wear once in her lifetime.  We’ll have plenty of years to do the whole Halloween thing.

The sentimental, sappy Rocket Surgeon side of me said celebrating EK’s first Halloween is essential.  She’s just nine months old, she’ll be so cute in a costume, she’ll need a picture for the baby book, she might think I was some horrible mother later on down the road (which will happen when she’s sixteen anyway) if we don’t.  Why would I want to miss out on this opportunity to share her with others?

So on October 31st, at around 11:00 a.m. I made up my mind.

We would do a small version of the Halloween thing.

Put on a costume, go to some family and close friends, visit out church festival, then come home and go to bed.

I found a very cute and easy Candy Corn costume to make at this site:  http://www.chicaandjo.com/2010/10/18/candy-corn-costume/

So while she took a nap, I was able to put her costume together.  And then of course, since I’m a beginner sewer, I was able to rip some of it out and re-put it together.  But it came together fairly simply with not too many frustrations on my part.

She hates hats.  Absolutely won’t leave them on.  Even with a “stampede string”,  we fought that thing.  She kept pulling it off, until I showed her herself in the mirror, and just like that she decided it was too cute to take off.

We made our rounds and enjoyed the night.

I must admit, she looked sweet enough to eat!

Posted in Children

9 months

Hey Emma Kate,

You’ve made it nine months so far and boy has the time really flown.  You are a such a joy!  We are so blessed to have you.  You have no idea how much you have enriched our lives.  And not just me and daddy, but all of your family.

My heart is so full of love for you sometimes I think it may burst.

You are one of a kind, kid.  You have such a determined spirit about you, and there is nothing in this world going to stop you.  Remember always to never let obstacles stand in your path.

Sleeping has been a challenge for you, it’s not one of your favorite things to do, but you need it after working so hard all the time.  But we’ve made big improvements in your sleeping, even though you still don’t sleep through the night.

You are absolutely out of this world gorgeous.  Strangers comment on your beauty all the time, especially your eyes.  You have these big, round, dark eyes that just seem to draw people in.  The other things people comment on?  Your size.  You’re not a teeny tiny baby, sister.  When they find out how old you are they tell me you are a big baby.  You’ve been called a barefoot porkchop even!  I think it was a term of endearment, so don’t let it offend you.  I sure didn’t.  You wear a size 12 months and are sporting a ghetto booty in your jeggings.  Now when you read this years down the road, you’ll probably have to ask some old person what that means.  Surely our memories won’t be so poor we can’t remember!

You’ve got six teeth.  4 on top and 2 on bottom.  Your teeth didn’t come in like they were supposed to, and there for a while, you had fangs.

You’re a big eater too.  We never could find a baby food you liked, and you just wanted to take the spoon from us and do it yourself, so we’ve moved on to table food and it seems to be just fine.  You feed yourself so well and can even drink from a glass.

I can’t tell you how smart you are, Emma.  Sometimes it’s just a little freaky.  Your mind works all the time and it’s like we can see the wheels turning.  You are constantly trying to figure something out.  Your favorite things to play with right now are your baby dolls and books.  You love on your babies with pats and kisses and turn pages in your books all the time.

You are pulling up everywhere and this month you decided to start taking a few steps while pushing a walking toy.  You are so proud of yourself too when you do something big like that.  You grin an infectious smile and look around to make sure someone is watching you.   Of course we all are, and we are cheering you on every step of the way.  Yea Emma!  Go Emma, Go!  We always will be.  All you’ll need to do is look around and we’ll be right behind you cheering you on!

We have so much to look forward to.  God has so blessed me by giving me you and my words will never ever be able to express it fully.

I love you oodles and gobs,

XOXO

Mama

Posted in Animals

Chasing Rabbits

We have these two dogs.

Drew and Grace.

 

Grace is so appropriately named and could have easily been named Faith.  She is loyal to the end.  Always there right beside you.

Drew on the other hand, should have been named Retard.

He’s just  a big goofy dog who likes to chase rabbits.

We have some pipe lying around because

1) we live in the country and country people acquire crap like pipe
2) J-Dub was going to build something but instead it’s laid in the pasture collecting rabbits.

Our dogs are outside dogs who live in the backyard, lush with dirt, having trampled or eaten every stitch of grass or weeds that ever attempted to grow there.  But each evening when it’s time to do the evening chores, we let the dogs out.  Who let the dogs out?  I said we do.  Opening the backyard fence gate is like shooting off a gun in the 50 meter dash.  Away they go, barreling past, knocking you down if you hadn’t the foresight to move quickly, sprinting towards the wide openness.

Grace runs a little pace and then realizes she is Grace the Faithful and comes back and follows whomever is doing chores, getting the hay, the horse feed, gathering the eggs.  She’s their little sidekick.

Drew the Retard on the other hand, heads to the pipe.  Because once upon a time, many moons ago,  he chased a rabbit.  And maybe that rabbit ran into the pipe.  So Retard thinks it’s still in there and he is determined to chase it out.

He starts at one end of the pipe, sticks his nose in, tail wagging maniacally, sniffs around, then runs to the other end of the pipe, sticks his nose in, sniffs around, then back again to the beginning.  Ad nauseum.

Every night this is his routine.  After he has run circles around the pipe, sniffing and wagging,  he then begins to dig.  Because if he can’t sniff that nonexistent rabbit out of there, by golly, he’ll dig it out. He starts at one end of the pipe digging ferociously, runs to the other side and digs ferociously over there, then back to the beginning, ad nauseum.

 

Perhaps he’s digging a grave for the nonexistent rabbit when he ousts him from the pipe in which he does not live.

Finally around sundown, panting and bloody toenails, he is exhausted.  But he will not leave his post.  No sirree, not this soldier.  While Grace the Faithful lies on the porch waiting on master to put her up, Drew the Retard lies beside the pipe and keeps vigil on the nonexistent rabbits until we have to call him home to his lush dirt backyard to rest up for his next night of rabbit chasing.

 

 

Posted in Children

Forgetaboutit!

There’s this movie that probably came out in the 90’s or something called Donnie Brasco.  I watched it once, a long time ago, and it was a decent movie. Decent, if  you like filth, and violence, and mafia crime.  Sex, and cussing, murder and mayhem.  Which, hey,  Iain’tgonnalie,   I do. Sometimes I even like it in my movies.  Haha.  Oh boy, I crack myself up.

Anyway, you should watch it sometime, as long as you don’t go to church with me.   And if you do go to church with me, then it’s one of those classic “do as I say, not as I do” hypocritical, Christian, faux pas.

It’s got Johnny Depp and Al Pacino.  Two dark, handsome tough guys, who cuss an awful lot.   Somehow, hearing mafia dudes say farfignooten just doesn’t really cut it.   Johnny is a cop trying to bring down some huge mafia dudes, one of which is Al Pacino.  In order to do this, he goes undercover as a mafia guy and tries to learn all their secrets and stuff.

So there’s this great part of the movie where two guys (not mafia dudes) ask Johnny Depp to explain what “forgetaboutit” means.  Evidently, if you’re mafia, it’s one of those words you say all the time.

Right up there with farfignooten.

So Johnny tries to explain.

Forgetaboutit means you agree with someone.  “Forgetaboutit!”
And sometimes you say it if you disagree with someone.  “Forgetaboutit!”
Sometimes it means something’s the greatest thing in the world. “Forgetaboutit!”
But it also is like saying go to hell.  “Forgetaboutit”
And sometimes, it just means, you know, forgetaboutit.

Since I’m no Johnny Depp, here’s the video clip, complete with cuss words.

We have a forgetaboutit at my house too.

It’s “mama”

When my 8 month old says it, she means I’m hungry.  “mama!”
But sometimes she means I’m tired. “mama!”
Or if she wants to be held. “mama.”
But maybe she wants milk.  “mama.”

And sometimes, it just means, you know,  mama.

Posted in Children

Sleeping on the Floor Part 3

“Having children is like living in a frat house – nobody sleeps, everything’s broken, and there’s a lot of throwing up.”
― Ray Romano

Last night marked Day 5 with my comfy “bed on the floor” gig.

And boy oh boy, I’m feeling like I can move mountains!

I’m almost afraid to tell you for fear that if I let it out, the universe will turn against me.  But here goes.

EK slept through the night.  Almost.

I scooted my little bed cot over closer to the door and out of reach to begin the transition to move me out of her room.

She had a late evening nap, so she went to bed about 45 minutes later than usual.  After going through our bedtime routine, I placed her in her crib, she rolled right over and went straight to sleep.  She awoke twice for 5-10 seconds of whining then she was able to put herself back to sleep, and slept until 4:45 this morning.  After some milk at 4:45, she went right back to sleep and slept 3 more hours until 7:45!

Success my friends, success. In my book anyway.

Since I never intervened or helped her get back to sleep until 4:45, Mama here got some good sleep too! Yippee.

We’re also making progress with our naps and yesterday she slept an hour and 15 minutes by herself in her crib.  This is huge as usually her naps are 40 minutes long and willy-nilly.

We’re getting there friends.  We’re getting there.

 

The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones. –Confucius

 

 

 

Posted in Children

Sleeping on the Floor Part 2

I’m continuing to log my experience with getting my little 8 month old to sleep in her own crib, eliminate night time feedings, and sleep through the night.

According to Tracy Hogg, a.k.a. The  Baby Whisperer, children fall into typically 5 different categories,  of course usually with some overlap.  Now since this post is a bit long, I paraphrased the types in my own words in italics for those who would prefer the Clif notes.

The Angel Baby—(in other words perfect)Angel babies are good as gold. They are mellow, eternally smiling, and consistently undemanding. Their cues are easy to read. They are not bothered by new surroundings and they are extremely portable. They feed, play, and sleep easily, and usually don’t cry when they wake up. They easily amuse themselves when they wake up in the morning. They can often calm themselves down. Even when they get overtired, it is easy to settle them down again.

The Textbook Baby—does it all by the book.  Textbook babies are predictable and fairly easy to handle. They do everything on cue so there are usually few surprises with them. They reach all the milestones right on schedule – sleep through the night by three months, roll over by five, sit up by six. They’ll have growth spurts like clockwork. They can play on their own for short periods (about 15 minutes) as early as one week old. They’ll coo a lot and look around. They smile when someone smiles at them. Though they have normal cranky periods, they are easy to calm and it isn’t hard to get them to sleep either.

The Grumpy Baby—-mad-as-hell Grumpy babies act like they’ve been here before and they are not at all happy to be back. They’re mad at the world and they let you know it. They whimper every morning, don’t smile much during the day and fuss their way to sleep every night. Their mothers have a lot of trouble keeping baby-sitters. They hate baths at first and every time someone tries to change or dress them, they get fidgety and irritable. Feeding is difficult because of their cranky disposition. Calming grumpy babies takes a patient Mum or Dad because they get very angry and their cries are particularly loud and long. If they reach a major meltdown, gently sway them front to back.
The Touchy Baby—sensitive and slow to adapt  touchy babies are ultra-sensitive. To them, the world is an endless array of sensory challenges. They flinch at the sound of a motorcycle revving outside their window, the TV blaring, a dog barking in the house next door. They blink or turn their heads away from bright lights. They sometimes cry for no apparent reason, even at their mothers. They often get fussy after a number of people have held them, or after outings. They’ll play on their own for a few minutes, but needs the reassurance that someone they know well is close by. They like to suck a lot and this cue may easily be misread for hunger. They nurse erratically, sometimes acting as though they have forgotten how. They have difficulty falling asleep during nap times or at night. They easily get off schedule – an extra-long nap, a skipped meal, an unexpected visitor, a trip, a change in formula, etc. can throw them out of the loop. To calm them, you have to recreate the womb – swaddle, snuggle them to your shoulder, whisper a rhythmic shushing sound close to their ear, and pat their back gently. The quicker you learn their cues and their cries, the simpler life is. They love structure and predictability.

The Spirited Baby– (my way or the highway) Spirited babies emerge from the womb knowing what they like and don’t like and they never hesitate to let you know it. They are very vocal and even seem aggressive at times. They scream for Mum or Dad when they wake in the morning. They hate lying in their own pee or poop and will vocalise their discomfort. They babble a lot and loudly. Their body language tends to be a bit jerky. They often need swaddling to get to sleep because their flailing arms and legs keep them up and overstimulated. If they start crying and the cycle is not interrupted, they reach the point of no return. Their crying will lead to more crying until they reach a fever pitch of rage. They’ll also notice other babies before those babies notice them. They’ll grab at their bottle at an early age and as soon as they’re old enough to develop a good, firm grasp, they’ll grab other babies’ toys as well.

Of all these types, EK tends to be a combination of Textbook and Spirited.  The Baby Whisperer continues to describe spirited toddlers as active, physical, willful, determined, and prone to temper tantrums.  Um, yes, starting to see a few of those already.  A spirited child is a consummate adventurer, needs clear boundaries, and here’s the part I know much too well:

Once they start crying, they have stamina and staying power, so you’re in for a long haul if you don’t have a good routine going at night.

As for sleep:  As babies, they hate being swaddled, but you absolutely need to block out any visual stimulation. They tend to be resistant to naps or nighttime rituals, because they don’t want to miss anything. If you’re lucky, even though they sleep less in the morning, it will be followed by a long afternoon nap.

Me?  Not lucky.  Never won at black jack or the long afternoon nap.  Most naps are 40 minutes for my sweetheart, both morning and afternoon.

When we first began sleep training, I started some routines for bedtime which included bath, a fan for white noise, talking to her and letting her know we were getting ready for bed, saying night-night to different things in the house while we made our way to her room, holding her for 10 minutes while her lullabies played softly, and then placing her in her crib.  EK cried for an hour and a half before going to sleep.  When she woke in the night, she also cried for an hour and a half.  Realizing that maybe she needed me in the same room, I made my make-shift bed from couch cushions and laid down beside her crib the following night.  She continued to stand at her crib and cry wanting out.  I took her out for one feeding per night, she calmed immediately, and I returned her as soon as she was finished.  Even though I badly wanted her to snuggle on my couch-bed, I made myself stick with the routine.  The other times she cried, I told her to lay down, go night night, and plugged my ears while she wailed.

On day three, she began laying on her stomach and reaching for me through the bars of her crib while crying, so I would put my hand in there and she would lay her sweet head down on top of my hand.  This at least kept her from standing up and settled her down.

We are making progress friends!  EK is still waking 4-5 times every night, but now instead of standing up and screaming, she whimpers a couple of times, sometimes she’ll sit up and look around, finds her binky, then she lays back down and puts herself to sleep.  Except for one time, when it continues for a long time, I go ahead and give her milk.

I’m glad to report that she is getting used to her crib, understanding that it is her new sleeping place, and starting to become a more independent sleeper.

I’m not sure how long this is going to take, but I’m in it for the long haul.  I see the progress that has been established in the last four days, and I’m feeling confident that consistency will pay off.  Kids learn by repetition and the more we do it, the better it will be for all of us.

Posted in Children

Sleeping on the Floor Part 1

I have a great mattress.  It’s one of those Sleep Numbers, where you can adjust the firmness.  A few years ago, J-Dub and I pranced into the mall with a credit card and succumbed to a sales pitch.

Impulse Buying + Credit Cards = The American Way, right?

I can’t remember my sleep number;  I can barely remember my birthday, much less the 42 different passwords stored in my brain for various accounts etc.   I usually have to ask J-Dub what my sleep number is.  For some reason he always knows, or makes one up just to fake me out.  Heck, I wouldn’t know the difference.  I did consider having it tattooed on my butt, but then I’d have to get a mirror to look, and to be frank, my butt isn’t much to gaze upon, even for myself.   I thought maybe I should tattoo it on my wrist, but then people might think I’m a concentration camp survivor or at the very least, a state penitentiary parolee in which case if I were a male state penitentiary parolee, my butt might have gotten noticed.

I guess it doesn’t really matter what my sleep number is since the last 3 nights I’ve slept on the floor.

In the baby’s nursery.

On a makeshift bed of couch cushions, my pillow, and a blanket.

You see, my little babe, she is utterly adorable.  She is.  She is also utterly awake most nights.  It’s not that she doesn’t go to sleep.  She does.  It’s just that she doesn’t STAY asleep.

So like a good mother, I’ve read.  I’ve researched.  I’ve investigated.  And I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s All.My. Fault.  It is.

Now I won’t take responsibility for her behavior if she robs a bank, but for this, I am the culprit.

She used to be a good sleeper.  When she was a wee one, she slept very well.  She would sleep in her crib.  She would go to sleep without being nursed or rocked.  She awoke and laid in her crib peacefully at times.

And then, then I screwed her up.

I took all the things I knew I was supposed to do, and didn’t do them.

“Swaddle her?” I scoffed.  “She gets too hot, she’s too confined, she doesn’t like it.”

“Let her sleep in her own bed?”  I laughed.  “But she’s so little, I need her, she needs me, she grows so fast, I’ll miss this.”

“Let her cry?”  I exclaimed.  “She feel afraid, abandoned, and become untrusting.”

“Be consistent?” I remarked.  “What about our free spirits?  Schedules, shmedules.  Routines, shmoutines.”

And so, the saga began.  She slept in our bed, at whatever times we traipsed to bed, and when she made the tiniest whimper, I comforted; two, three, sometimes four times each night.

Days turned into weeks, weeks into months, and before I knew it, I had an 8 month old in the bed standing at the headboard, or crawling on top of us while we tried to sleep, or kneading us in the back with her pointy little feet as she laid crosswise in the bed.  And as I lay there one night with her trying to suck my nose, I imagined our lives a year, two years down the road.  I saw a little toddler, upside down, feet in our face, whining ‘tickle my back, can I lay on your arm, I need a drink of water’, all the while wiggling, squiggling, and causing a ruckus.

You see, I like to sleep.  I enjoy it.  It’s practically the only fun I have in my life.  Take that from me, and I have nothing.  I am nothing.  So I stood on my exhausted two feet and made my valiant cry of, “ENOUGH!  THIS MUST STOP!”

And it hasn’t been easy.  Nay, nay.  We are currently on day 6 of a real effort to get her to sleep in her crib. (with 3 days of inconsistency when we were out of town).  That’s the first step.  Then comes sleeping with no feedings, next will be sleeping without me in the room.  I have my work cut out for me, but am beginning the process of undoing my doings.   The first night, I took expert advice to lay her down every time she stood in her crib, and then I counted the attempts.

No, not twenty times.

No, not thirty-three times.

No, not even one hundred twenty times.

But 133 times.  One hundred thirty-three times I laid her down.  And one hundred thirty-three times she pulled her weary self back up again.  Can you say torture?  For her.  For me.

Were there tears?  Oh my, yes.  Many tears.  Hers and mine.

She finally fell asleep crying and exhausted.

Like this.

She stayed asleep about 30 minutes, but who can blame her?  Could you sleep like that?  Can you even sit like that?

And now, since this post is becoming a novella and is only partially complete, I will end here and continue with our experimental research sleep training documentation tomorrow.  Hopefully.  If my bleary eyes can see the keyboard.