Tuesday, September 30, 2008
No Hugs For You!
It's a Wonderful Life, But It's Just Not a Good Week
Enjoying Music in Chicago...But Just Not Often Enough
I'm Sorry...I Forgot
Cross Posted from Chicago Moms Blog
from August 27, 2008
It's almost 3 am, and Avi is finally asleep after an hour of pacing, bouncing, singing and trying to keep her from nursing on my arm. It's our third night of "sleep training", and since I really feel uncomfortable with that term, let me rephrase that: it's my third night of not nursing her every hour, on the hour; it's my third night of trying to figure out a compromise between what's best for my baby and what's best for me; it's my third night of wondering what kind of mother I want to be, and what kind of mother I actually am.
See, we had it somewhat easy with Nourit. Yes, she did nurse 2 or 3 times a night for the first year, but she also had stretches where she'd sleep for 6 or 7 hours at a time. In her own bed. She'd at least sleep for 4 hours at a time, but it recently dawned on me that Avi has not yet slept for more than 4 hours in a row in the last 7 months, and I think my current record is at 2 1/2.
I have been reevaluating my mothering choices ever since Avi was born.
It suddenly didn't make sense to me that such a small human being should sleep by herself, away from the warmth and comfort that she'd experienced for so long in my belly. It didn't make sense to ignore her cries for milk or comfort, since she was too young for conscious manipulation. All the natural parenting books and articles I had stumbled upon started to make more sense than the regimented, orderly parenting philosophies that I'd been exposed to originally. Even though Avi is not my first child, I feel like I'm learning so many new things the second time around. And I'm starting to question my choices for Nourit. Even tonight, as I closed her door, I felt like she was still such a little creature to be shut away by herself, in her own room. Yet, she has been sleeping soundly through the night and through naps since she was 1, and that's a healthy thing, right?
When we brought Avi home from the hospital, I brought her into bed with us so we would both get more sleep (something we were too afraid to do with Nourit because we thought we'd squish her.) I didn't have the luxury of naptime now, with a toddler to watch, and work to do. And with so many visitors, I didn't want Avi to cry and disturb them. Sure, they were family, but I never felt comfortable subjecting my in-laws to long bouts of a crying baby. Even after borrowing a friend's co-sleeper, she seemed to spend more time next to me nursing than actually sleeping. But my instincts told me she should be kept warm next to me, and allowed access to me at this crucial time of growth. Unfortunately, Mike and I sleep on a Full sized mattress, not even a Queen, so he was soon relegated to the couch.
And now, here we are. I am sleep-starved, Avi has started to wake up hourly, and I'm feeling rather incredulous about the claims of the women in the last two natural parenting books I've read. For instance, how is it possible that one gets more sleep when they have their infant next to them all night? In my case, I'm always semi-awake and sore from posturing around the child so she can nurse, and for some reason, the smaller they are, the more space they take up. We have moved her from the bed to a crib in our room. But over the past week or so, each hour, it seems, her little head pops up like a turtle as she looks desperately over the edge of her crib for her comfort source.
So, I suppose my compromise is to hold my little force of a baby through the crying, just so she doesn't feel abandoned. (Or, more to the point, so I don't feel that she feels abandoned.) I'm not sure how far memory reaches back, but I have so many memories of crying behind closed doors as a child (which I'm sure fueled my depression later on.) I thought this was normal, until I mentioned it to my childhood friend and she told me she doesn't ever remember crying like that. So I really want to be careful to listen to my children, whether infants or toddlers or school-aged, and not have them retreat behind closed doors to cry. Hopefully, little Avi's body will adjust, she'll eat more during the day, and sleep longer at night. And she'll grow and thrive, and not have a lingering sense of abandonment. Hopefully, too, Nourit isn't learning to be "detached" and destined for co-dependence issues later on in life. With the amount of love we lavish on her during the daytime, I doubt that will happen. But those thoughts do cross my mind.
Maybe soon I'll start getting more sleep, too (and not be on the computer at 4am!) Over the past three years, since getting pregnant with #1, I have been continually amazed at everything I didn't know; had never learned; was never taught; about the “natural” act of giving birth and parenting. Some things come more naturally than others, but there is so much that just isn’t clear. (I seriously wished there was a manual when I left the hospital with Nourit, but then I realized that there are actually hundreds of them. Unfortunately, they all give different advice.) Which path do I choose with regard to sleeping/feeding/clothing/etc? Which philosophy suits me and my child, and to what extent? What happens when I change my mind half-way through? Have I completely messed up my child at that point?? Why didn’t my mother tell me how to be a mother??? (Okay, do you see how I can work myself up at 3am?)
In reality, I do know the answer to all of these – there is no one answer. This is life, and life is different for every child, mother, parent. One thing that is the same for all of us, though, is that we all need more than 2 hours of sleep!!
Cross Posted from Chicago Moms Blog
from August 25,2008
Not long ago, I felt complete frustration about our beginning attempts at potty training. I wasn't mentally or emotionally ready for Nourit to begin potty training, and would have happily waited until she was 3, but I began it to combat her self-imposed constipation, or as we dubbed it, her 'praying to the poop god.' (This is a pose she would strike to hold it in; knees out, head back, hands pressed together in Namaste. It would last for days until she finally pooped.) Although we'd had the potty for almost a year, and she had had some good times on it, she was, at this point, completely against sitting on the potty. She would scream, kick, sob, and wet every pair of underpants I put on her in protest. It was not a good start, and I had begun to look in the Yellow Pages for Potty Boot Camp.
Then it started to click, and much faster than I expected. We put up a potty chart and it soon began to fill up with stickers. She hasn't stopped giving her toy dragon pretend suppositories, but she has started pooping on her own, and she has made it through a few days without accidents. (Although, she did end our last evening with guests peeing on the floor right in front of them. Oh, well!) Today was the pinnacle in potty training for us after an accident free foray out into the world and back home, wearing underwear. (Both of us, in fact!)
But now I'm afraid she's too good at using the potty. See, we ran out of cookies today.
After days of sheepishly feeding our child 6 or 7 cookies per day, 1 for every time she successfully used her potty (and of course, for every 1 she eats, we eat 2 or 3), we saw the last of the animals, and the end of the alphabet at about 6pm this evening. It was then necessary to break open the chocolate. (It's a good thing we buy it by the pound at Trader Joe's!)
A few months back, when we started promising a 'cookie and a sticker when you poop on the potty', we didn't forsee the day when she actually would do it. Many, many times. Being musicians, we even made up a whole song about it, so of course, that's her mantra now. I know as parents we should be strong enough to put an end to the cookie trail, but we're a little afraid. It's so nice having her run to the potty on her own. It's so nice not changing her diaper so much now. It's so nice not having the neighbors hear her scream bloody murder when we suggest potty time. So we're not ready to give up bribes just yet. I think we are just going to downgrade to chocolate chips...the really little ones...as soon as I can get to the store.
Sunday, September 28, 2008
Jessica came about 5 and Mike and I went out ON A DATE! We tried out Bin 36 downtown, and spent a few hours creating our own pairings of wine with cheese. We even made it through an entire evening without mentioning the word 'poop' once. (Not only that, but I wore high heels for the first time in, oh, two years, I think.) It was a real date. Then we came home and watched the follow up news on the debate. Not the most romantic way to end an evening, but oh well.
Saturday morning we ate apricot crepes and headed to the garden. I picked 4 good sized eggplant, herbs, and a few varieties of tomatoes. We walked through the market and talked to some friends and neighbors - besides Moshe and Danielle, we never know who we'll see there. We listened to a group of kids drumming then headed home for Nourit's nap. Boy, did she nap! Avi, on the other hand, remained in the Moby wrap for the entire afternoon, helping me clean.
When Nourit woke up, we headed to the Midway for the Latin Jazz group who was playing as part of the 2nd Annual Hyde Park Jazz Festival. Who should run up but Anissa (who we met exactly a year ago in the same spot) and Felix. It was good to visit with their moms again while the kids danced and ran around. The music was good, too.
Today, Nourit had another chance to dance all around Hyde Park when we walked by the 57th Street Children's Bookfair on our way home from church. She made a paper crown, snagged a blue balloon, and found the parade. Headed up by a group of drummers and consisting of 6 or 7 costumed cartoon characters and a group of ballerinas, the parade marched back and forth on a two block stretch about 3 or 4 times. Nourit decided she was part of the parade and smiled, danced and ran right in the middle of the entire group. By 2:30, after watching a dance exposition, singing with Marsha's Music Together, and purchasing a few books, we headed home hungry, tired and happy.
Now we're resting up for the last shindig of the weekend - our neighbor BBQ in the backyard. We didn't get to the store to pick up any lamb, so it just might be lots of grilled veggies for us!
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
And here's Avi from Nourit's perspective. When I uploaded pictures tonight, I was surprised to find these. Mike didn't 'fess up to taking them, and there were a few following with the telltale finger in the way. But all in all, I think Nourit's getting better camera technique.
What's on the menu these days? Besides breastmilk, Avi has now sampled peas, carrots, avocado, apples, bananas, cereal, arrowroot cookies, and the occasional crumb off the floor.
Monday, September 22, 2008
It also means I've forgotten all the wonderful things that happened between my last post and today. I read once that a silence in a journal can be more telling than the actual writing. Well, my silence tells me that we were really busy. Or tired. Or both.
Avi, my sweet faced little baby, will now be named Crazy Tooth. She can't nurse enough, and when she does - OUCH! I'm trying to have her sleep in bed with me at night - on purpose this time, and not just reactively. I just feel so strongly that she should be next to me right now. I'm not sure how long we'll continue this, but at least until I'm convinced she'll be better off alone. (I'm just not convinced yet, no matter how many times she scrapes her teeth on my...) Anyway, in church yesterday, Pastor Joe was trying to garner signatures for the Nursery Schedule. "The kids don't bite," he said, trying to get the frightened non-parents in the congregation to volunteer. Mike and I immediately pointed to Avi and spoke simultaneously, "This one does!" Later, during our coffee time following service, I saw Joe's eyes get huge as he saw Avi lunge at me and get a swatch of my shirt in between her teeth. She's cute, but she's dangerous.
And Nourit. Our funny, funny-faced Nourit. I need a recorder on me all the time to catch the wonderful things she comes up with. We spend a good deal of time 'training' her (disciplining, for those with stronger stomachs.) But we also spend a good deal of time laughing at/with/because of her. She comes up with funny sayings and funny moves, and there was a moment this weekend where all four of us were on the floor in the hall, and whatever it was she was doing, we just laughed and laughed. Even Avi. I can't remember what she said or did, but I hope this impression will be forever etched in my memory. Here's another, involving our little neighbor, Abigail.
Nourit had been talking about Abigail all Saturday afternoon. She was wrapping pretend presents for her, and was looking forward to seeing her again. That evening, while we ate dinner, Abigail went outside to play. Nourit barely touched her food while she had a one-sided conversation with her older friend out the window. (Okay, there were alot of wilted greens on that night's menu, which could have accounted for part of it.) Finally, I said we could go outside and she put on her sandals in record time. As soon as she got outside, Abigail, was just as excited that her friend had arrived to play. The girls both raced for the swings and I pushed them while Abigail's dad was grilling their supper. Then Abigail began to sing softly. She had about 3 or 4 songs from VBS that she circulated through. Nourit began to sing, too, her own stream-of-consciousness composition. Abigail got to the second song and began to sing louder. Nourit upped her volume, too. By the third song, accompanied by the screech of the two swings, Abigail sounded like a bible-pounding preacher - YES, JESUS LOVES ME! and Nourit's melodies were getting quite a bit more angular and just plain loud. I asked them if they wanted to go play in the sandbox, and off they went happily - two little friends, playing side by side. The end.
Mike and I had a quick conversation this afternoon as he stopped by my work for a minute. We worry about Nourit being with a babysitter more often this year. This morning, she kept pushing us with her usual attention-getting experiments on the baby, knowing we were running around and trying to get out the door. But I didn't see any of that when I got home today. She had had a wonderful time with Jessica, who I feel so blessed to have in our life right now. She's all of 21, and has more love and energy than anyone I know, and can juggle both of the girls quite successfully. She had put Avi down in her crib for a nap (at this point, she's been in there for almost 2 hours. That just doesn't happen for me!) and Nourit just had pure joy in her eyes as she tried to practice the fish-lip face in the mirror that Jessica had shown her today. After Jessica left with the promise to come back tomorrow, Nourit and I snuggled and read books before she calmly and happily went off for a nap.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Monday, September 15, 2008
It was such a short ceremony - most rituals and ceremonies in our faith and culture seem to be that way - and I tried to grasp how meaningful it really was in that quick moment. We are declaring that the most important thing for our children isn't their health, education or future happiness, but their relationship with God. That's pretty counter-cultural these days, and I know it will take more than one declaration of commitment to ensure they grow up knowing the peace, love and protection that God promises.
I've been praying for Nourit and Avital since they were both in the womb, and will for the rest of our lives. The harder part for me is to know how to "fix the words of (God) in (our) hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on (our) hands and bind them on (our) foreheads. (How to) teach them to (our) children, talking about them when (we) sit at home and when (we) walk along the road, when (we) lie down and when (we) get up." Deuteronomy 11:18-19. It's easy for me to talk to my girls about music, or how to get dressed, or to think imaginatively, but quite a bit more difficult for me to express myself genuinely about matters of faith. It's like French for me - I can speak it fluently in my head, but I stutter when it crosses my lips.
Friday, September 12, 2008
I was the recipient of a blessedly wonderful nap this afternoon (see Naptime for Mama) and even stole a few minutes to go out and grab a hot chocolate while I ran a couple errands with Avi while Nourit napped.
Tonight, we decided that nothing is better on a rainy Friday night than gelato. So we got in our 2 month old car and headed for Cafe Gelato. We got bumped. Not hard enough to deploy the airbags, but enough to get the other guy's insurance info. Fortunately, we were all fine, and Avi barely opened her eyes from her motion induced nap. And hopefully Nourit won't remember the idiot who drove by and screamed the F- word about 25 times just to let us know we were holding up traffic. Lovely.
Our gelato was still yummy, though.
I really needed a nap today like no other day before. Those of you who know me know I'd love to nap, but when given the chance, I usually can't because there is too much racing around in my brain to relax. But today I somehow made it until 1:30 without a drop of caffeine, and quietly acquiesced when Nourit ordered me to lie on the couch as part of her game. Mike took pity on me and told me to go to bed with sleepy Avi, and he'd put Nourit down for her nap. So when I asked Nourit for a kiss before my nap, she decided she'd put me to bed. She escorted me to my room, then grabbed a book off of my bedside table to read to me. She had two choices: The Essential Chomsky or the Holy Bible. She chose the Bible. Then she climbed up next to me and began to read.
"Once upon a time....skidyappolla chikona....mom...nap....boogaskmiaopo...God told Noah...skippy oh...then the bumblebees were there....smogojaybiers...God....mama....The End."
An actual transcript would have been about 5 minutes longer, but I paraphrased the best I could. After this amazing storytelling, Nourit sang me 'Baa Baa Black Sheep - habinany Wool.'
I slept soundly for two hours and woke up feeling like a human being again.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
It's a little freaky to me that the ice-cream truck down the street from us plays Christmas carols.
Maybe they got a deal on a soundtrack from a Floridian ice-cream truck that runs all year round. That's the only explanation I can come up with.
Tuesday, September 9, 2008
Not only did the cold winds of Autumn blow in this morning, but so did the winds of perpetual change. Mike rolled in from Victoria after midnight, and rolled out of bed by 7:20 in time for me to go back to my morning work routine. (When he rang the buzzer, I distinctly remember thinking, as I woke up from what could probably be called sleep, "What obnoxious toy is making that noise?" ) I really prefer having my mornings with the girls, but I also began to teach lessons again this evening, so had to make the change back to mornings. There's always more work to do for people in the mornings. Leave it until the afternoon and they figure it out for themselves.
3:30 Jessica arrived. She is just as phenomenal as her references said. Although I had already hired another wonderful young woman to help us with childcare during the fall, I knew that we'd never be able to work out a schedule with just one person, so when I met Jessica, I hired her on the spot. That's because Nourit actually responded immediately to her when she came over, and went so far as to escort her to the door with a proper goodbye when the meeting was finished. No trace of Shy Girl with Jessica.
So when she came to watch the girls while I taught lessons tonight, I was surprised at how much more she even impressed me tonight. She played outside with Nourit, and kept her outside laughing and making up new games for quite a long time. (We've had other sitters who refused to go outside.) When they came back into the apartment, somehow the young woman got Nourit to whisper. I honestly didn't think she was physically capable of whispering at this age! I even overheard Jessica being firm with Nourit when she wasn't being nice, and followed it up with positive reinforcement. By the time she left, Nourit was calm, bathed, and ready for bed. And all this while she carried around a screaming Avi. Which was not her fault. Here's why.
Avi has a new tooth! It poked through on the top right front of her mouth tonight! My little barracuda has her third weapon to use on mommy at the least expected moment.
Monday, September 8, 2008
and oh, boy, was I weary this morning. Last night was the worst of the last 5 nights that Mike has been away, and in addition to an insomniac baby, I had a grand mess in the kitchen and rest of the house, so I was ready to lose it. I did lose it. At 4:30 in the morning, I hadn't slept more than 2 hours total, and I was doing the dishes that were piled in the sink, just so I could hook up the dishwasher and run the dirty dishes through that had been sitting for two days. After all, we would need some plates to eat our hamburger buns on for breakfast. (I left the refrigerator open the night before, so we had no food for breakfast except what was in the freezer. Hamburger buns. Yum.)
Crawling back into bed at 5, Avi still was awake, so I took her with me, ruining the last 4 nights of work to keep her in her crib. She immediately calmed down and fell asleep. And I cried. I hadn't even had an hour to myself since last week, I realized, and I wouldn't have any chance to sleep before the girls would be up for the day. The house needed cleaning, and not just for my comfort. It needed cleaning for our health and safety. We needed food in the refrigerator, and I needed to make sure I had a babysitter for this week, and those following. I needed to prepare for lessons starting, and actually show up at work for real. During the dark hours between night and morning, everything seems insurmountable. I prayed, trying not to feel the usual guilt for feeling sorry for myself. I asked God for supernatural strength, not entirely resigned to a reality in which He'd actually give it to me.
Somewhere between 5:30 and 7:30, I dozed. When Nourit woke up, I coaxed her back into bed with me while I nursed Avi, buying a little more time to just lie still. At 8, she said, "Mommy, it's time to get up." I couldn't imagine how I was going to stand up, much less make it through the day. Driving to the store on such little sleep seemed like a dangerous idea, but staying home all day with a toddler seemed more dangerous.
But I did it. I got up, toasted our hamburger buns and spread peanut butter and jam on them, and began to feel something like optimism. It could possibly be a good day. We could go to the store, I could get a coffee to drink while we shopped. I wouldn't have to call child services on myself after all. And even though there were a few episodes where my fuse almost blew, we made it into the car and to Lincoln Park without a hitch. Nourit had a great time pushing her little cart next to mine, and Avi snoozed in the Moby wrap. We went to the coffee shop, bought groceries, and made it back before the rain came. Then, both girls napped (which hasn't happened in a few days), and somehow, as I write this at 9pm, the house is relatively clean. (I did find a cockroach belly up in the cleaning bucket, but at least I didn't have to chase him down.)
An hour ago, I sat down to find the passage in Isaiah that I have highlighted, and turn to so many times.
"Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. (A much bigger job than keeping the pantry stocked.) He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. (Does that mean He can make sense of my irrational, middle-of-the-night thoughts?) He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak."
And even though I know this verse so well that I intentionally looked for it, it really hit me tonight. He gave me that strength today. In my sleep-deprived weakness, He gave me the power to not only make it through the day, but to feel a peace and a joy that at 4:30 in the morning, I thought I would never feel until my children were adults.
Maybe once school starts, I'll even find myself running races and soaring on wings like eagles.
Friday, September 5, 2008
Back to God's mercy, though. He has really given me time each day, as well as the impetus, to seek Him. So that part of my quest for discipline has been sustainable, if not necessarily growing, over these past 2 months. Unfortunately, my lovely mornings alone at the garden are a thing of the past, what with a baby who parties from 2-4 am and a husband who keeps leaving me for exotic vacations. (Just kidding, Mike!) I was really motivated by another mother's blog to set aside time each day for prayer. She set aside many times, but I'm not at the point for that. However, I would like to take one long Saturday morning each month to find more stillness and quietness. Mike, can we look at our schedules?
Yoga? Exercise? Not in the last few weeks. I guess it's really not as big a priority right now, but I still would like it to work back into my routine, whenever that's established. (Which will be as soon as Avi starts sleeping more than 2 hours at night. Did I mention Avi is not a good sleeper at night?)
There are so many other things in my life I want to be more regulated. I pay our bills on time, but have little time for budgeting or planning, as I'd like to do each month. Our food life is one of great confusion to me (a blog about that to come soon.) I even feel the need to have a routine 'time-out' for Mike and I, since we rarely go on dates. We've had a few more outings alone this summer than since before Nourit was born, but that always seems to be what we sacrifice. I'm even starting to feel the need to have daily activities for Nourit: art time, library time, playtime, etc. That might be a little too control-freakish of me, though, since she's only two!
This is probably a mundane subject to anyone reading, but keeping this blog actually helps motivate me to continue what I've started.
Wednesday, September 3, 2008
Nourit took her second horseride of the summer, this time with mama on board. Churchill Downs, here we come!
And finally, we stopped to see Mark, Michelle and Izzy. Wow, has she changed since Christmas - still a cutie, but now a blonde, mobile, chatty cutie!
Now we're back home, gearing up for the fall. Mike is on his way to Victoria, B.C. for the Aventa Workshop until Monday. I've been interviewing babysitters for the schoolyear, and am trying hard not to be depressed about the end of a much-too-short summer.