Saturday, June 30, 2007

This I Believe

The Stuff of Sleep or How to Know When it is Time to Throw the Baby Books Out With the Bath Water
After discussing baby sleep with multiple friends and parents who have Ferberized, co-slept, Nanny 911'ed, "worn their babies down in a sling," shushed, swung, suckled and swaddled their little ones to sleep; after browsing whole bookshelves in my local bookstore and public library dedicated to sleep issues like "The Family Bed," "The Horse (I mean Baby) Whisperer," "The No Cry Sleep Solution," "The Happiest Baby on the Block," Happy Baby, Healthy Sleep," along with the popular Dr. Sears and Dr. Seuss’s Sleep books, the most wisdom I could glean was that you can either follow the experts, or follow your baby.

When Juj was born, nearly 11 years ago, he slept in a small antique crib (which would certainly not meet safety standards today) next to our pull-out futon in the living room of our first apartment together. When he’d wake with the hunger cry, piercing and unnerving, my husband and I would feed him and hold him and burp him and off he would go back into the little outdated criblette on his SIDS-dangerous tummy. After 10 or so weeks, with minimal crying and fussing at night, he began to sleep 10-12 hours, straight on through the sweet, sweet night. Sleep like that, solid, dream filled sleep, that soother of the day’s pricks and thorns, that mender of a fragmented mind and body was ours again.

Now, I realize that not every baby takes to this sleep stuff so easily and that the world is filled with sleep deprived parents desperate for answers, second guessing themselves and trying to figure out how to get a little bit of sleep please. It’s is frustrating, exhausting and just plain maddening.

I know this now because when little Petunia, who was a heat seeking missile from day one, was born, she abhorred the bassinet, the co-sleeper and the crib so much that her harsh, piercing cries shook the walls every time we set her down for the night. We were confounded. Before Petunia’s birth, we snickered to ourselves about how our two year old nephew still slept with his parents and assured ourselves that we would never be so overprotective, so lacking in boundaries and discipline, indeed such complete suckers! But eventually all the conventional sleeping contraptions went the way of the dinosaurs, except for the Kangaroo Korner fleece pouch, and we reluctantly became a co-sleeping family. That is where she slept best. It helped us through months of night terrors, teething pain and not otherwise specified night waking. In fact, we all slept better.

At twenty months, Lil Pet sleeps well through the night, right between us, hogging the bed, kicking off the covers, pushing us both to either edges of our mattress. We’ve given up our own snuggling at night, but we sleep, fiber optic butterfly fluttering out blues and greens on the wall, ocean waves rushing in and out all night from a digital alarm clock on the dresser, we sleep until morning, being flexible enough to bend when a strong enough wind blows.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

First Comes Love...

So like most evenings out with a toddler, the wedding of my sweet brother-in-law to the even sweeter bride O. was jam packed with the never-ending excitement of messes, owies, mischievous behavior and abbreviated conversations that characterize social functions with kids. Miss Petunia began her adventure with a white dress and her signature Mardi gras beads while Sir Juj, the ring bearer along with cousin Ko, began his night with a white shirt, although he did ask if I could cut the collar off before we left.

The service was led by a circuit court judge in a kilt and the maids and men of honor marched arm and arm down the isle to the sound of bagpipes. I wish my powers of observation were stronger here, but I was distracted my the Pet and her insistent plea of "out!." We wrestled her down and gave her a drink and a few toys which kept her quiet for like 2 seconds until she screamed out "MINE" in a shrill toddler voice over the quiet whispers of the exchanging of the vows. Luckily the service clipped along nicely and she soon caught up with the boys and their honey (see last post). Although there were many people I would have loved to chat with, I followed a group of nicely dressed 2-4 footers through the halls of the hotel, stopping at the vending machine for snacks (the hor’s d’oeuvres were made of unrecognizable substances to the under 10 set) then on to watching them crawl around like kitties and horses in the swooning room. I gulped down a glass of red wine in relative isolation of the anteroom, but then came dinner in the ballroom with the rest of society.

The boys began their dining experience by slamming a dozen or so little cupletts of half and half and egged the Pet to do so to. Juj sat next to Ko and took him on as an apprentice in his alchemy work, making concoctions of water, pepper, cream, beer, tic tacs and candle wax, while the Pet and a baby at another table threw spoons, fruit and napkins at each other. Needless to say, our dinner was far from relaxing, and other than hearing a killer speech from the bridesmaid, I didn’t register much other than myself saying "stop playing in the candle wax Juj", "Stop putting tic tacs in the cake Juj", "Eat something other than candy Juj", "Get up off the floor Juj," and so on. So, before the chocolate wedding cake was cut and before Ko could use Juj’s white shirt as a napkin for the chocolate wedding cake, Little Petunia grew tired and heavy in papa’s arms. Upon transfer to the front carrier in which I though she would sleep peacefully and let me pretend for a few moments that I was a normal adult again, she woke up, burped and then threw up creamer and watermelon all over me and her nice white dress. So, to the bride and groom, love and good wishes... but be sure to enjoy this time before you belong to the puke, owie, broken record, go home early club that comes with those sweet, little urchins we call kids!

Friday, June 15, 2007


Like a balloon that has been cut lose, free floating, flowing with the current, caught up in the gusto of the first week of summer vacation. All four of us home, tired today from staying up too late all week for birthday parties, outdoor music and street festivals - our beds full of sand from the beach, a house full of spy gear traps and alarms set by Juj and friends, big kids and little kids in and out of the house, the yard, the sandbox, eating strawberries out of the garden and drippy Popsicles from the freezer, hatching plans for sleepovers, lemonade stands, movie nights and camping trips.

Juj’s campaign for Mexican food every day of the week has finally come to fruition: so this week we have had black bean burritos, cheese enchiladas with pineapple, nachos with salsa, peppers and sour cream, and refried bean tostados topped with guacamole. The Pet is becoming the picky eater she should be at this age and still favors her bottle of whole milk, blueberries, watermelon and cheese. "Ba," she request first thing in the morning. "Hunry," she will say when she wants food. She is more than labeling these days, moving on to descriptive words like "itchy (when referring to the wooded area around the soccer field), sticky (after eating pancakes), stuck (when trying to pull a picture of a kitty out of a book), uphigh (one word), hot, dark, pretty (when seeing or smelling flowers). "Honey" is her newest one when referring to sweets, candy that is, lolly pops and licorice, taffy and gum, she knows far too much about these things already.

JB has his final graduation tonight, as a neurophysiology fellow, and what a Fellow he is. Although he is resistant to multitasking (taking two kids to the store, bringing the baby along to do drop offs and pickups, bring the kids to work when I just can't do it anymore :)...), he has been a stellar at home dad this last week. But, no martyrs here, there have been plenty of fussing and fighting about who is doing what with what little free time there is. Next week we start with the structure of summer classes, programs and camps and the introduction of daycare for the little Pet. So, as chaotic as this week has been, it was a good immersion into summer living, the free flowing non-stop motion of long summer days.

Friday, June 08, 2007

See I told you so...

The Peonies have popped,

And the Berries are bearing,

But best of all, the fabric dying has begun! This piece of white cotton sat bunched and gathered in a bucket of navy and lilac fiber reactive dyes with sprinklings of salt overnight. Can't wait to do more!