Friday, January 29, 2010

You might want to skip this if poop makes you sick.

I'm convinced that 2 must be the most dangerous age in a human's life.  Two-year-olds have the strength, agility, imagination and tenacity to do so many things.  But they have no caution, forethought, no sense of what is wrong or unhealthy or dangerous.  Everything around them presents a unique opportunity for experiment -- the pasta on their plate.  The overturned laundry basket next to the highest (no longer safest) counter.  Their diaper full of turds.  Why not?  It's there.

I'm very grateful to have had Tim home the past two afternoons, because I don't know if could have coped with this alone.  I don't have the stomach for it.  I've been brought to my knees by the horrors I've seen in this house.

We always tell Delaney to yell if she has a poop.  She almost always poops during quiet time, no matter what time quiet time is, but then she never tells us.  Or she'll tell us she has one when she doesn't.  I actually thought we were all set this time because she'd pooped before quiet time started.

When her two hours were up, I went in there, and was surprised to see she had a poopy diaper.  I reminded her that she should tell me right when she has it so I can change it right away.  As I opened the diaper, I wondered, 'What are those brown streaks on her belly?  Oh, please don't let it be what I think it is.. Oh, but it is.'  I changed her, and as I did, I wiped her anywhere I saw a trace of brown.  I got a good look at her fingers and fingernails, and I saw -- oh no, no, no no nononono...

I was really upset by now, and once I got her new diaper on, I hauled her to the bathroom to scrub her hands.  Her stepstool is not high enough so I have to hold her up with my arm under her belly.  Back in her room I ordered her to stand in the corner while I surveyed the rest of the room.  I don't know what made me pull back the curtain, but it's a good thing I did.  Delaney's artwork was all over the windowpane.  I nearly gagged.

Tim came upstairs and helped me clean up, and as we did so, we told Delaney she'd done a very bad thing.  We said over and over, Yo-Gabba-Gabba - style, "We don't play with poop."  "We don't play with poop."  We got her to say it too, with enthusiasm.

But no matter how forceful our tone was, no matter how abrupt we were with her, one thing was very obvious.  She did not feel any remorse or shame for what she'd done.  For her, this started out as boring quiet time, and turned into a party with Mom and Dad.  She said cheerfully, "I'm sorry," and you could tell she was loving every minute.  We've never been so frustrated.

She did become upset when, once cleanup was over, we turned off the lights and closed the curtain again, and told her not to move until the clock turned yellow.  We wanted her to know this was not 'get out of jail free' time.  Tim stood guard out in the hall.  First he had her sitting on the floor in time-out, not allowed to move.  As long as she was crying, he figured that she understood that we were angry with her because she'd done something bad. Then she became happy there, talking to herself, and he realized it was useless.  He then allowed her in her bed, and there she stayed until the clock turned yellow.

The next day I put her in quiet time, and we went over the rules.  "You yell if you have a poop."  "You don't play with poop, you understand?"

I checked on her a half hour into it, and everything was OK.  Tim was home, and eager to talk about the day's events with him and just relax, I let the rest of the two hours slip by, and they did.  Quickly.

If you could have seen my face when I opened her door, it would have looked a little something like this:

This was only 40 minutes before a potential babysitter was scheduled to arrive for an interview, mind you.

Tim and I were a very efficient team.  He whisked her to the bathtub without delay, and scrubbed her head to toe, while I descended on her room with plastic bags, all-purpose cleaner and baking soda.  I picked up at least 25 turds.  I gritted my teeth and vowed to embarrass her with this story one day.  There was hardly a spot in her room that had been spared.  The bed was stripped.  The stuffed animals were sniffed, and immediately quarantined.  Books were sprayed and wiped down.  Bedding was thrown into the washer.  Every surface was scrubbed.

The madder we got, the more cheerful Delaney became.  I said to Tim, "I'd slap her silly if I thought it would make an impression on her.  But the only impression would be the one left by my hand on her cheek!"  (OK, the truth is I'd never slap her silly, but it felt good to say.)  She just didn't get it.  In fact, later, she asked Tim for another "bubble bath."  I said, "Bubble bath?  We don't have any bubble bath."  Tim said that he'd used so much soap, the bath was unusually bubbly.  Her takeaway from this incident and our reaction: a bubble bath.

So, let's try to examine this from Delaney's point of view.  She plays with her poop, and thinks to herself, 'What will it be this time?'  Mama and Daddy running around my room yelling?  A bubble bath?  All this fuss over little old me -- what fun!  I'll just do something new with my poop every day, and wait for the show to begin.  Quiet time has never been so interesting.

The last two days have taught us that she is incapable of being disciplined because she only lives in the moment.  Unless we catch her red- er, brown-handed in the act, there is no disciplining.  So today, I will finally do something smart.  I will sit outside her room at quiet time, with the door open a few inches.  I will get comfy with a pillow and throw, and a book.  I guarandarntee you she will not play with her poop with me just outside the door.

Oh, and taking the advice I found somewhere on the Internet, I will buy some Play-Doh so that she can get her fix of playing with mushy things at other times during the day.

Do you think there will ever be a time when she does the right thing without me watching?

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Bodies in the basement!!

We went to the Smithsonian Natural History Museum today.  This is one of the things I love about living in this area.  You can drive to a museum in D.C., park right in front of it, and just waltz right in without paying.  It just doesn't work that way anywhere else.  Yes, we got there on Sunday, 20 minutes before they opened, but still, I think it's incredible.  In Boston, there's never any parking, any time.  And if there is, it costs $40.  I don't know if it makes up for the times when 95 is a parking lot, though..

This morning when we showed up and there wasn't a single other car parked along the street, we kept driving because we figured it must all be one big "no parking" zone.  We drove back around, pulled over, and we each got out of the car and read the signs on the curb, looking for the fine print.  We were convinced that as soon as we left our car there, it would be ticketed and towed.  Tim finally asked a street vender who "spoke English and drove a Tahoe" if we were allowed to park there, and he said we were.  So finally we relaxed and waited in our car for the museum to open.  We noticed everyone else who parked up and down the street after we arrived did the same thing, scrutinizing the signs.  One guy started feeding the meter even though it clearly said you only have to pay Monday through Saturday.  Tim decided to be a nice guy, and he got out and told him it was free today.  But when the car with New York plates parked in front of us, and the driver started putting coins in the meter, Tim said, "They're probably Yankees fans.  They can pay."

Since Tim is nicer than me, he let Delaney out of the stroller, and he chased her around.  In the ocean life section of the museum, there was a coral reef exhibit, and for all Delaney cared, that could have been the entire museum.  The sign didn't say anything about Finding Nemo, but it was basically a Finding Nemo exhibit.  There were clownfish in there, and beautiful anemones, and I recognized other species of fish from the movie too.  It took M&Ms, pretzels, and many promises to go back to the "fishies," to get her to go anywhere else with us.
"You're a clownfish, right?  Tell us a joke."

We made our way around, looking at all the things you expect to find in a natural history museum.  It had been awhile since I'd been to a natural history museum -- the Cincinnati one -- and I thought I would enjoy learning about the ancient peoples, because that's what I remembered most of all.  But a surprise favorite for me was the "Written in Bone" exhibit, that teaches you how people lived and died based on the condition of their bones.  If you didn't have kids with you, you could attempt to solve the riddles presented by the skeletons: male or female?  Young or old?  Diseased or healthy?  What killed this person?  And on and on.

There were a few skeletons on display that had been found buried under people's basements in Maryland and northern Virginia.  Very intriguing.  You could see by the way the grave was dug, and the placement of the bones, and anything else found in the grave, what the circumstances of the person's life and death had been.  Very sad, of course.  It's not a good story if it ends with being buried in a basement.  It was something I had not expected to see, and I wonder how many other natural history museums in the nation feature bodies found in basements.  Tim said, "This is giving me some ideas."  Har-har-har.

Two hours went by quickly, and it was back to the coral reef before heading home.  We ate lunch, and all of us had naps.  The girls and I slept over two hours.  I don't know about them, but I was exhausted.  The days have been busy, and Annalise has been waking up in the wee hours again (Sleep Lady, you're failing me!).  So the nap was needed, and everyone slept, and it was lovely.

Tim made enchiladas for dinner -- my favorite -- and it was a relaxing Sunday.  As you can, see Tim and the girls still had plenty of energy left after dinner and naps!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Feeling very humbled today

I came to the realization on the way back from Tot Gym this morning that over the past few days, maybe even weeks, I have allowed myself to be sucked down into a vortex of self-pity, and if I don't get ahold of myself, I'm in danger of becoming the type of mom I said I'd never want to be.

It was a little incident at Tot Gym (thank goodness "little" since it had the potential to be big), that woke me up to so many other things.  Suddenly I was staring at a montage of myself and not happy at all with what I saw.

There I am at 7 in the morning, wishing I didn't have to be the one to answer Delaney's thud-thud-thud wakeup call, and dragging myself to her room.  How long since Delaney got a cheerful greeting in the morning?

There I am, feeling burnt out from the long day, tearfully telling Tim how much I miss having his parents around, to "swoop in" every now and then and take these kids off our hands for a little while.

There I am, feeling like this house is falling down around me, and I can't get it under control.  I fantasize having someone else come in to clean my house, and not always having dirty bathrooms in the back of my mind. [We've already been down that road, and it's not happening.]

There I am complaining to friends about how Tim worked on a project all through the three-day weekend, and I didn't get the weekend help that I'm accustomed to getting, and we had no quality family time.  Three-day weekend, ha!  Try seven-month deployment!

There I am saying to Tim, "Ugh, I just can't do bathtime tonight;" knowing that he will pitch in and give Delaney her bath even though he's had a hard day himself.

Taken alone, none of these things is a big deal.  But add them all together over the course of just a couple weeks, and I'm alarmed.  Alarmed at how often I'm hoping and expecting someone else -- usually Tim -- to take over and do my job.  The job that I happily and eagerly signed up for.  The job that, as we were talking about at a friend's house the other night, we are darn lucky to be able to have.  It's a privilege to be able to stay home and raise these kids ourselves, and to be able to afford to is a luxury.  But lately the voice in me that says, I am blessed, I am lucky is being drowned out by the loud whiny one that says, Why me?  Why all the time?

How did I ever get it into my head that just because I am feeling especially challenged these days -- I'd even go so far as to say besieged some days -- that I am in any way entitled to a break?  Why am I still waiting for some relief?

So today, I take the girls to Tot Gym, as much to get out of the house and see friends, as to get Delaney somewhere where she can burn energy.  It is a little dance and gymnastics studio, comprised of a few rooms -- a studio, a room where the gymnastics equipment is, a coatroom, and a lobby with a desk -- all separated by doors that are not childproofed.  Neither is the front door.  The kids run from room to room, but the only rooms where there is anything for them to do are the dance studio and the gymnastics room, which are connected by a door.

With Delaney off playing independently, I relax and sit down with Annalise, just talking with the other moms there.  I know I ought to be checking on Delaney, but I shrug off my own little voice of concern, saying, "She's fine here, there's nothing for her to get into.."  OK, mostly true.  But then I'm ashamed to say, I followed that up with, "I'm sure the teacher wouldn't let her run out the front door, even if she were strong enough to open it."  Funny how at that moment I didn't hear what two things were wrong with that statement: that a) First and foremost, it's not Miss Sandra's job to keep kids from running out the door; and b) the idiotic idea that Delaney's not strong enough to do anything she sets her mind to doing.

Within a short while, I was told that Delaney, who makes it her mission to test any and all boundaries,  had tried to escape.  Miss Sandra, who I'm sure relishes the job of gatekeeper, in addition to dance and gymnastics instructor, had stopped her.

And here I was, face to face with my laziness, complacency and readiness to pass the buck  -- things that I had never before hesitated to notice in others from atop my high horse.

Feeling like a complete dumbass, I kept my Delaney in view the rest of the time we were there, and gave her a time-out for going to the door again soon before we left.  This is what it's about sometimes -- time-outs and crying.  Other times, it's all about hugs and smiles, and then life is easy.  But this too shall pass, and then it will be back to hugs and smiles, right?

Until then, can I stop waiting and expecting for a break?  For Delaney to stop acting like a two-year-old? For a fairy godmother to appear and say, "I've got it.  You spend the day at the spa."? Or even for Tim to get home just an hour or two early?

Can I catch myself about to complain about my wonderful life, and instead just suck it up and say a prayer?  Yeah, I'll try that and see how it goes.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Annalise at eight months

Annalise gets around much more these days. Earlier this month she began crawling and pulling up on things. I now have to keep an eye on her (*sigh*). Gone forever are the days of setting her down somewhere and figuring she'll stay put, or at least move at such a glacial pace that I only need to check on her every now and then every two minutes.  Now, it's, "No, Annie, the cords behind the TV are not a toy." The nerve of her, making me work harder!

Most of the time there's no need to worry -- it's Mama she's after, of course.  If I'm sitting at the table, she'll crawl under the table, then pull up on my legs, bumping her head on the table.  If I'm in the kitchen, she'll come after me and grab my ankles.  If it's late afternoon, she only wants to be held, and I put her on my back in the Ergo if I want to get anything done.  She's taking right after Delaney as a Mama's girl.  If I sit down on the floor, they both climb on me like bear cubs.  Poor Tim has to work hard for their attention.  Again, I don't know why.  He's way more fun than me, and he gives horseback rides too.  Do you think one of these days, they'll come to their senses?

She naps three times a day, usually -- once in the morning, once around the same time as Delaney, and then a late afternoon nap that we don't let last for more than an hour.   I now feed her solids twice a day, and she's doing a little better with them.  She has seemed extra hungry the last few days of this month, and she's been nursing quite a bit, especially as bedtime approaches.

I'm happy to say that she is now only nursing during the day.  I mentioned we were going to do the "Sleep Lady Shuffle" a couple weeks ago (that term is so funny to me; it invokes an image of me shuffling to her room at 2 a.m.).  For the first week-and-a-half, I stuck with the dream feed at 11, and then wouldn't feed her again until 7.  Sometimes she'd wake at 4:30, sometimes at 6:30, but I just took my post in her room and sat there. She didn't even act all that hungry, just upset that I wouldn't pick her up.  She'd fuss for about 45 minutes to an hour and then fall asleep.  I couldn't understand why she was still waking up, or why she wouldn't just settle into a pattern the way her big sis had so long ago.

Then one night I was so tired that I decided to go to bed a little after 8, and forego the dream feed -- just see what would happen and hope for the best.  She didn't wake up until 7.  She'd gone 12 hours.  I thought, 'This is too good to be true!'  And it was.  But it caused me to change my approach.  I skip the dream feed every night now, since it never seemed to consistently buy me more time anyway.  The past three nights she's been sleeping 11 hours, and 11 hours is how much uninterrupted sleep the Sleep Lady says they should get at this age.  Yay, 11!

She is such a slobbery mess all the time, we keep thinking teeth must be on the way soon.  But we've been saying that for at least four months now, haven't we?  She soaks her bibs within an hour.  In fact, she has a rash in the crease of her neck from excessive drool.  At least that's what I think it's from.  I keep putting Vaseline on it, but it doesn't seem to help.  I hope it's not fungus or something.

When she's being extra fussy and I suspect teething as the culprit, I give her Hyland's teething tablets.  The other day, I gave her a biter biscuit for the first time, and she enjoyed gnawing on that for awhile.  Her favorite thing to gnaw on is my finger, though.  If I'm holding her, she'll grab my finger and stick it in her mouth if I let her.

Look out, here comes trouble!  I love this stage, and I can't wait to see what the next month holds.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

New Years Resolution #2 (better late than never)

On a more cheerful note than yesterday, here is something that's been helping me beat the winter blahs: Jillian Michaels workout videos.  They are free on Verizon Fios On Demand  -- OK, not exactly free, but included!  I can do a 25-minute one, a 30-minute one, 40- or even and hour-long one, depending on what I'm in the mood for, or what really needs work.  If the girls are both down for "quiet time/nap," like today, I can do it then, and it's a great pick-me-up.   Those of you who watch The Biggest Loser know how motivating Jillian is; and even if you do one of the 25-minute 30 Day Shred workouts, you know you've done a lot when you're finished.  If I'd rather nap if they're both napping, I can do one at the end of the day, after I've put them to bed.  No excuses!

I heard about these videos from friends around here.  They are very popular with those who only have time to do things when their kids are asleep, and they have to be home.  Honestly, I like being able to work out in my living room, and not have to worry about how ratty my workout clothes look, or how clumsy my moves are.  I only have to worry about Tim videotaping me doing squats because he thinks he's friggin' hilarious.

There is even a "problem area" workout for things like muffin top or belly.  My post-baby belly decided to stick around awhile after Annie, and it's nice to be finally doing something about it sometime before her first birthday.  (Note: Sticking out your belly and using it as a shelf to carry the baby on, is not a good way to get rid of it.)  I don't know if the menu of workouts changes, just like Delaney's shows do every few weeks, but if they do, variety is good too.

There are many other workout videos by people other than Jillian Michaels, and I will check those out as well.  At first I wanted to try pilates because I know how much my sister Grace likes it.  But after five minutes, when the instructor said to keep my tailbone in contact with the floor, I knew that was not the best choice.  My tailbone is still not completely recovered from my fall down the stairs, and boy, did that hurt!    

It's been a week since I tried out workout videos On Demand.  I guess I could say getting in shape is my second New Year's Resolution.  Let's see how long I can stick with it!                

Friday, January 15, 2010

A cell fit for a princess

Who remembers what a cute nursery Delaney used to have?  It was my pride and joy in Massachusetts, the one room I took a good long look at with a lump in my throat before the movers came.  Delaney's ladybug nursery that Tim had conspired with his family to surprise me with its completion when I was six months pregnant with her.  When we moved here, we transferred it over as best we could, but without paint and wallpaper, since we were only staying here 10 months.  I even added a couple of things I thought would make it nicer, as she got a little older.  There was the sling bookshelf to hold all her books in her reach, with the covers facing out.  I'd even stuck leftover ladybugs and dragonflies to the side of it.  There was the little wooden rocking chair we made off with from Tim's parents', that was the perfect size for a munchkin.  Sometimes at story time, I would sit in the large wooden rocker, and she would sit in the small one, since she usually didn't like to sit in my lap anymore.  I even added a little toy box of sorts, with a couple puzzles in it, so she had her own little space to play.  That was the first thing to go when the insanity started.

Then we converted her crib to a toddler bed a few weeks ago, when she learned how to climb in and out of it.  Now her entire room is only a couple steps away from being converted to a padded room in a mental hospital.  She's losing her nice things one by one, but only Tim and I seem to care.  First went her little rocking chair, that Tim had lovingly repaired after it broke during the move.  I got tired of listening to her toss it around, and I didn't want it to break for good.  Next went the bookshelf I love, after I heard a crash one day during what we now refer to as "quiet time", and came upstairs to find it knocked over.  A few days ago, Tim came home from work and was sad to see the large wooden rocker in the middle of the family room  instead of beside her bed.  He remembered how he used to read stories to her with her on his lap, her drowsy head on his chest.  She'd used it to climb on top of her bureau, and that was that.  Her armoire is strapped to the wall, and the knobs are removed from the drawers.  I dearly hope she doesn't find another way to hurt herself with it, but there's nowhere else in the house to put it.  Her bureau is a low, squat, heavy thing that I couldn't even manage to pull over, but then again..

Oh, and then about an hour ago, I used the same threat with Delaney that Tim had used before, successfully.  "Delaney, if I hear any more noise, I'm coming in here and taking all your books and toys."  I felt so sad and defeated as I went back up there a half hour later to make good on my threat.

Every day I go through the same routine with her that I always have.  "Naptime" or "quiet time" is nothing new around here.  It's an important part of the day that I refuse to give up on because experts say kids this age still need naps; and even more importantly, Mama needs time to recharge her batteries.  But my batteries do not get recharged.  I cringe at every noise I hear now, and dash up those stairs every 20 minutes or more, afraid of what I might find.  I live in fear.  What's next?  Blinds broken?  Room-darkening shade ripped off the rod? Her head busted open?

I've tried niceness and meanness, and consequences.  During non- quiet time hours, time-outs are very effective with her for discipline.  But obviously that won't work, if she views quiet time as one long time-out.  I told Tim, if there was ever a time I thought she deserved a spanking, it's when she's wreaking havoc when she's supposed to be resting, and then waking her sister, to boot!  But Tim and I agree that spanking is not for us.

The other day, she slept for once, and so did Annie, and then so did I for a little while.  It was like heaven.  Why can't it be like that every day?  What am I doing wrong?  The Sleep Lady can not help me here.  Or maybe she could, if I was willing to pay $300 for a phone consultation. That'll be the day, when I pay someone $300 to talk to me on the phone!

I remember how, with care, love and joy, Tim and I selected every piece of furniture that went into that room.  We wanted the best.  Now we know, we could have thrown a mattress into the middle of an empty room and saved ourselves the trouble.  I realize now that every last detail that went into her nursery was really for us, not for her.  I still have the pictures, and it was lovely while it lasted.  If I have tears smarting my eyes right now, at least I can comfort myself with the fact that all of these nice things never mattered much to her.  They were all for me -- the big surprise, the nice furniture, all of it.  The only thing she ever needed was a quiet place to rest her head.

And now Mr. Clock is probably saying it's time to "wake up," and I hear the thud-thud-thud at the door.  I might be looking into a padded room for myself here soon.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Delaney at Two-and-a-Half Years

Here's our Delaney Grace, halfway between two and three, a tiny little girl even by two-year-old standards. But there's nothing tiny about her personality. Every day is full of laughter, silliness, comments, observations, and questions -- lots and lots of questions.

Driving down the road one day, Delaney asked "What's that, Mama? What house is that?" "What car is that?" Every two seconds. Every time we get in the car to go anywhere, the same thing happens. The only problem is, I don't even know what she's talking about most of the time, and I can't look when I'm driving. I remind her of this, but still she keeps asking. When you tell her what the thing is she's looking at, she tries out the word herself, and it's very cute to hear. I think she just enjoys the dialog with me more than adding to her vocabulary. Another thing she says all the time is, "Why not?" For example: "Mama, what's that?" "I don't know, Delaney, just a part of the refrigerator." "What's that, Mama?" "I don't know, sweetie." "Why not?"

Lately, we've also been hearing a lot of "I don't like ___." The list of things Delaney doesn't like is very long, and includes naptime, sitting in the cart, any limits on her freedom, and just about every kind of food except peanut butter and chocolate. To hear her say it, it sounds like, "I so like." It's strange, because I know she can pronounce "d." "I so like my bib." "I so like the straps [in the carseat]." I subject her to all of these things and more on a regular basis (I'm a big meanie), and for some strange reason, she still loves me and can't get enough of me.

It's the truth. When Tim was home with us for two weeks over the holidays, I expected she'd want to play with him more. But she was still all over me like white on rice. "Mama, come play toys with us." "Mama, look!" "Mama, watch me spin!" "Mama, what are you doin?" "Mama, I got something to show you." I don't get it. Tim is way more fun than I am. When I said this to him, he said, "I know. But you're her mama."

She got her first haircut ever on December 15. I had a hair appointment already, and Tim and I for once agreed Delaney needed one, so at the last minute, we got Delaney's appointment conveniently scheduled at the same time and place as mine. She didn't enjoy it at all, but she sat there and that's all that matters. We just wanted the ends trimmed because we both love her long tresses even if she looks disheveled more often than not. She whined a little, and cringed as the hairdresser did her thing, but she had a Dum-Dum sucker, so she tolerated it. A very nice surprise for me was the little certificate I was given in honor of "baby's first haircut", with a few locks of hair taped to it. That made a nice addition to her memory box. Can you believe I hadn't even thought of saving locks from the first haircut? Didn't even occur to me!

We reached a big milestone right after Christmas, when Delaney finally started sleeping in a big girl bed. I had planned on keeping her in a crib for several more months (I had my sights set on 3), but Tim and I realized that was not to be. First she started practicing in the hotel in Cincinnati, with a too-small pack 'n play with a bed next to it. She was emboldened when first she used the full bed to aid her climbing in and out, then climbed without it. That made her brave enough to test her skills with her crib at home. In one day of practicing, she became very good at climbing in and out of her crib, and it became a safety hazard. That very night, Tim converted it to a toddler bed, and she loves it. She's also stepped up her naptime antics. Most days when we put her in there for a nap, she barely sleeps a wink, and we dread the silence almost as much as the noise. At least she stays in the bed at night, and at any rate, she can't leave her room because of the doorknob cover. I can't keep her little forever, can I? But that doesn't stop me from trying.

From time to time Delaney exhibits the behavior that two-year-olds are infamous for. These instances usually happen in little clusters over the course of a few days. When I'm in the middle of one of those clusters, sometimes it's hard to remember what a good girl she is most of the time. Today, I left the first Mini Movers class I'd ever taken her to, after I had already put her in time-out once and warned her we'd be going home the next time she acted up. It was kind of ugly, so I'm glad none of our friends we're around to see. I won't tell the whole boring story, but it involved a lot of refusing to participate, trying to run off, and crying loudly. I felt sad seeing the tears in her big brown eyes as I led her out the door. It is very hard for me to enforce consequences when all I want her to do is have fun instead of spending all her time with her boring mom and baby sister at home. A kid needs exercise and here we are in the dead of winter, unable to go to the playground. But I bet the next time we're out, she listens to me. That's the whole idea.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

New Years Resolution #1:

Get Annie to sleep through the night.

I'd already made up my mind about weeks ago, and was just waiting for her to be over a cold. This morning, after falling down a flight of stairs in my fatigued state, I knew for sure this was the time. Good thing I wasn't holding either of the kids when it happened, and I'm OK except for a very sore tailbone, which I'm icing right now.

Here is a brief rundown of my secondborn's sleep history, because it is oh-so-fascinating:
- Newborn: woke every two hours around the clock, but gradually started sleeping for stretches of a few hours at night.
- 6 weeks to 4 months: slept through the night at least 8 hours, most of the time 12.
- 4 months to the present: steadily downhill. During the day, she doesn't eat as well as she used to because it is increasingly difficult to get her to focus on nursing. The introduction of solids has not alleviated this problem, because she's not interested in them yet, and only eats about a tablespoon at a time. At night, she knows I'm at her beck and call, and that's when her appetite is biggest. The last few weeks have been particularly bad, with me stumbling to her crib at least twice a night, banging my shoulders into the doorways like a drunk.

We are all suffering for my lack of sleep. I am an ogre without sleep, and an ogre is not a good mother. I feel worst for Delaney, because, even as a zombie, I can go through the motions of keeping a toddler and a baby alive, but I can't nurture her budding intellect. The best I can do for her is let her take her pick of any of her favorite shows On Demand. Dragon Tales means 27 minutes of her not asking me any questions. I know that's terrible!

For help in my crisis, I turn once again to my sleep bible: Goodnight, Sleep Tight by Kim West. This book saved my life once before, without scarring Delaney's, when she was about nine months old, and I pray it will again. It is a method for getting your baby or toddler to go to sleep independently, without letting them "cry it out." She provides solutions for just about every sleep problem imaginable, and advice for establishing a routine that is ideal for whatever age they are. Her methods make the most sense to me. This is the moderate approach, between those who say that not only should you nurse that baby every time she wakes up, you should be right next to her in bed; and those who say, let her cry it out and eventually she'll start sleeping. I don't think you do the child a favor in either case.

The Sleep Lady reassures me, in the chapter about six- to eight-month-olds, that a healthy baby in this age bracket does not need to eat at night. I feel this in my gut to be true. I also know that once she's not eating at night, she will sleep better, and eat more during the day. But in order to get to that place, I have to get past the first couple nights. (*shudder*) I do not expect Annalise to say to me when I go to her room tonight, and whisper sweet words but don't pick her up, "Thanks, Mom, for using this gentle method of sleep-training, so that we can all -- especially you -- get better sleep at night. I know what you're doing is really good for me."

Hopefully I can give you a positive update on this in a few days.