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Monday, March 4th, 2013
I’ve decided my favorite game to play with Fia is “sleep.” This is when she tells me to lie down, close my eyes, and, well, sleep. Yes, a fascinating game. She proceeds to put blankets and stuffed animals all over me. As long as Emmett is truly sleeping in his crib, I can get away with this game. Even, dare I say, doze off a bit?
But her other favorite game is recreating the scene of the crime–Hers.
Every night when we put her to bed and begin to walk out, before we ever reach the door, she stands up in protest. She’s like the white version of Hush Puppy in Beasts of the Southern Wild. I know what to say before I even turn around.
“Fia, lie back down.”
“No!” she says and stomps her foot on the mattress.
“Fia, I said lie down.” (This time I’m always a little more stern.)
She stomps the same foot again. On the third try I say,
“Fia, lie down or else I’m shutting the door all the way!” (Something that, when done on occasion, makes her wail as if she were losing a limb.)
Boom. Hit the dirt. She is down in a flash.
So is it weird that when we play she loves to imitate this whole scene in reverse? As in, I am Fia, she is Mama. (Follow that?)
She does it all over the house. Or at the beach. Or in the yard. We’ll be hanging out and suddenly she’ll shout, “Mama, lie down!!!” It’s my instant alert that it’s Game-On time. I stomp my foot. “Lie down!” she yells at me (far louder and intense than we ever do, by the way). And so it begins…
By the time we reach the end of the first go around, in which I hit the ground/grass/sand with a fury, lest the invisible door be closed, she is howling with laughter. “Again mama! Let’s do it again! I’m going to be you again!” she shouts with glee (as if there were any other choice).
It’s especially funny when she does it right before bedtime. We’ll be settling in her bed to read and up she goes.
“Let’s play the stomp foot game.”
Seven minutes later when I really put her down the stomping begins in earnest. She doesn’t seem to “get” the irony that we just went through this. It’s hard to keep a straight face.
I wrote awhile back at how I observed her putting dolls in time out and wondered if that was normal. Maybe this is just the second level of that type of exploration. I mean you play tea party, so why not play punishment-party? (Punishment being the threat of closing her door.)
The best part of the real going-to-bed routine is that after the protesting, when I’m standing with my hand on the doorknob, indicating that I have the power to shut it, she lies down and says, ”But mama, just one more kiss and hug.” Even though I’ve given her 17 already, I always get pulled back in. Sometimes for a triple encore on top of a triple encore. Phil shakes his head when I finally emerge a half hour later. He knows I can’t resist her. I shrug my shoulders and say, “Yep. Love fest party.” Then I pour my wine and settle into my 21 minutes of relaxing before I go to bed myself. With no protest.
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bedtime, crib, getting toddler to sleep, mattress, playing sleep game, playtime, sleep training, time out game | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Milestone Monday, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Must Read
Thursday, February 21st, 2013
I always thought when you have kids, spontaneity goes out the window. In the beginning it kinda does. But during these early years–before real school gets in the way–I’m finding myself more spontaneous than during my pre-kid/marathon/climbing Kilimanjaro years. Take, for example, last week. We went to Hawaii. On a whim. No sh-t.
Phil got an unexpected window in his schedule last Friday–a whole, glorious week off between scripts. We looked at each other like, “Should we go for it?” I got online and began calling places to stay. With kids, we wanted a house. And I only wanted the Big Island. It doesn’t rain there. Yes, I was picky and determined. Not an easy combo.
Every booking agent laughed.
“This short of notice? Villas book out 6 months in advance.”
After multiple calls I was about to concede defeat. Then a woman named Anne returned my call.
“I have a house that no one has rented before. The owners weren’t planning on renting it this week, but they are game.”
Then Phil and I took it a step further. We called his parents–Rev and Bev (Rev is a retired Episcopalian priest). They live in Wisconsin. We asked them to come too. It’s a place they’ve always wanted to see. And of course they always want to see the grandkids. They are almost 80-years old. Rev’s back is bad. It’s a 12-hour flight. And though retired, they still have plenty of things on their calendar. Meals-On-Wheels, Tuesday Club, Ash Wednesday, you know the drill.
Phil’s mom, at first, said No Way. His dad said Yes Way. Then apparently Rev said to Bev, “You just aren’t spontaneous.” Well that’s all it took. Spontaneity might not be her thing but stubborn is. And she isn’t about to let Rev “be right.” She called us back. They were down. Woo hoo!
I called in a sitter and worked for 4 hours on securing a place, renting a car, and booking flights. Travel, planning, and cleaning are my forte. I should have been a cleaning lady-travel agent.
I began doing all the last-minute things you do before you go. Find someone to feed the cat. Throw in laundry. Put paper on hold. Pack. Pack more. Arrange for Cynthia Roelle to write some blog posts. (Thank you, Cindy!)
48-hours later we were on our way to 6 perfect days. We had a house with a pool and the beach in the distance.
This was last week. Now we are back and I’ve realized a few things:
- When you book last-minute, you have no time to anticipate. Therefore, when your vacation is over, your letdown isn’t as great. I’m not writing this from a pit of post-vacation depression. Just a little blue. But also totally rejuvenated.
- You become super-efficient in getting ready. And you accept that some things just have to be left undone.
- It’s hit or miss, but sometimes you can get deals. Flights weren’t bad, we used miles for some, and since the villa wasn’t going to rent out anyway, we got it for slightly less.
- You have no time to worry about the what-ifs. “What if Emmett gets a cold?”, “What if Fia won’t sleep?”, “What if my father-in-law snores so loud it keeps us all up?”
- And if you have it, throw money at the problem. Case in point:
I found a company over there that rents everything for kids. It is an amazing idea. For the week, I got two cribs with bumpers and blankets (taken to house and assembled before we arrived, taken apart when we left), a big tub of toys picked out specifically for Em and Fi, a highchair, beach toys, and a play yard. All for less than $300. I think that’s pretty good, considering.
Needless to say, we had an amazing time. We played in the pool every day…
We went to the beach a handful of times…
We saw whales. And waterfalls. Big and small.
We bought fresh fish from a local market and grilled. We watched Emmett walk…
…and Fia swim (yes, after I declared her swim lessons awash, she suddenly started to “get it.” And enjoy them. So we’re sticking with it for now). I sat outside one morning and read my book. It was heaven.
Now we are back and I feel refreshed and rested. I’m so glad we seized the moment. We did the same with our Death Valley adventure in December. So is it possible that kids make you more spontaneous? That they help you to live in the moment, embrace what’s present? I guess if you let them and let yourself. This was a big way to do it, but there are small, everyday ways, too:
Fia wants to take a different route to school so we can go past “the little blue car.” Okay, let’s do it…
We get stir-crazy, but it’s late in the day. We decide last-minute to run to the zoo. Even if we only have time to see the reptiles…
Stuff like this. Of course, if you have a husband who never knows when he can take vacation, you’re kinda forced to live impulsively on a larger scale. I am rarely bored.
I also really give Rev and Bev credit. It seems the older you are, the more stuck in your ways you become. They even took a red-eye home, landed, and went to church, then drove 3 hours home from Chicago. But I know it was worth every minute…
I feel like this way of living must keep me young. I also realize there is a difference in being flexible versus spontaneous. As parents we have to be flexible. You have plans but your kid gets sick. You cancel. But what if spontaneous could be attained by choice rather than necessity. It’s something to think about….
Consistency is good (especially with sleep/sleep training), but throwing it all to the wind isn’t a bad thing either. It also keeps my spirit free and adventurous. I can tell it rubs off on my tots, too. For me, parenthood–and even life is general–is all about finding that balance. I definitely think we did last week.
Until next time…Mahalo.
P.S. As a side note: I’d love to hear how spontaneous you are with your kids. Please share!
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Airplane, beach, Big Island, crib, hawaii, pool, sand, spontaneous, sun, swimming, toddler toys, travel, travel tips, vacation, villa, Whales | Categories:
Cynthia's Guest Blog, Fearless Feisty Mama, Have Baby, Will Travel, Mom Situations, Mom Tricks and Tips, Must Read
Monday, October 22nd, 2012
The other night Phil was out of town. I was having one of those cravings for Fia… you know, like the kind when you want to eat your child, yet you know you’ll never have enough of them to get full? It’s that insatiable feeling of mom-love. I decided to have her sleep in bed with me. I envisioned spooning her all night and getting some sort of tangible fullness. Uh-huh.
9:30 pm–in bed reading my book. Fia lifting legs in the air. “What are you doing honey?” “Making shadows Mama. Look!”
“It is two hours past your bedtime. That’s it.”
Book closed. Lights out. Fia puts hands in air. She swings her arms back and forth. I bark, “No more shadows!” I’m officially annoyed at my decision to have her sleep with me. Plus, I had to shut off my Kindle during a riveting reading moment.
11:00 p.m.—a foot is in my mouth.
12:30 a.m.—I am eating Big Bird.
1:00 a.m.—Emmett starts to cry. I hear him through the monitor. I sneak into his room to pacify. Pitter-patter. In come little feet. “Fia, go back to bed,” I whisper.
This is important for two reasons. First—it’s one o’clock in the f-cking morning. But second, Em is so sensitive to noise that if she starts talking, he’ll jerk up and start giggling. Yes, my baby laughs too much. I realize there are worse problems to have…but in the middle of the night, all issues seem insurmountable.
I get Em back in his crib, Fia back in my bed. I threaten that I’m putting her back in her crib. But I know she’ll wail. I can’t take the “you get to sleep with mommy tonight” back. I can feel Ferber shaking his head…
3:00 a.m.—an ankle on my ear. A thigh on my stomach. I am in a bad game of Twister and I’m losing.
4:00 a.m.–Wayne pounces on the bed and yowls. I curse myself. How did I forget about the stupid cat? Fia bolts up in bed. “Mama, Wayne is here!” Yep, didn’t know that. Thanks.
I get up, grab the 18-pound load of fur and sequester him downstairs.
5:30 a.m.—Em wakes up. This time he’s hungry. I sneak in again. Put him on the boob. Pretty soon her little shadow appears, then her little body. I have to whisper again, “Get back in bed. Shhh. Shhh.” Emmett pulls off the boob to look. It’s his big sister! Cue the giggling. I tell her to just lie quietly on the carpet in front of me so Em can’t see her. She does. And puts her legs in the air. Yep, the shadow game is back.
6:00 a.m.—Em is sleeping. So is Fia. I am wide-awake. The sun is rising and I can feel the bags pulling down on my face.
I didn’t get one cuddle. I am not full. But at this point, I don’t care. I just want my bed back.
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Wednesday, September 12th, 2012
Here’s what really gets to me when I talk about sleep training. So many of the co-sleepers defend their position by comparing what people did in the dark ages with babies. Here is an example from last week’s post:
“In tribal times, you would have never made your baby cry all alone in a crib. And we wonder what’s wrong with society!!…Until the 1920′s, babies have slept with their parents for centuries. It’s still the norm in all other cultures other than in America.”
I’m not singling out this particular person. I appreciate she read my blog and took the time to comment. But this is the type of thing I generally see when discussing sleep training.
First of all, let’s get the facts straight. America is not the only country to put babies in a crib. Most of the developed world doesn’t co-sleep. That includes Europe and Asia too, which encompasses, oh, a few countries here and there. Let’s not forget Canada. You think crib makers only sell to the United States? Seriously?
But my real annoyance is the comparison of current day to that of tribal and biblical times and what those in third world countries do. I’m pretty sure a villager in Africa would be thrilled with a crib. I am guessing that is the least of their worries though.
Has anyone ever toured the Tenement Museum in NYC? It’s an amazing place. They have reconstructed a real tenement to show how families used to live. This is before housing and labor–including child labor–laws were enacted. It was commonplace for a family of 8-10 to live in a 300-square foot space with no running water or electricity. No indoor plumbing. There was no room for cribs or separate bedrooms. Infants routinely died from diarrhea. Sanitation was completely lacking. To use those times as a barometer for what is good for today seems completely ludicrous to me.
Also, you think none of these people from past generations let their babies cry? Think again. Whether you were working all day in the fields or in the sweatshops of New York, don’t you imagine that parents were completely exhausted and just collapsed at night? They probably slept through a crying baby. If they did wake up, sure, mom put the baby on the boob so they could both sleep. I get it. It’s called survival.
Today in Sub-Saharan Africa, one in four babies under the age of 5 dies. Who wants to compare those statistics to what we have?
I know what you’re going to say: infant mortality rates have nothing to do with co-sleeping (unless you suffocate your baby, which does happen and thus why the AAP recommends against it).
But what irks me is this instant assumption that if something was practiced “for centuries” and still exists in villages in Africa, that we should use that as an argument for practices today. I spoke before about this in my case against homebirth.
There was a time when pregnant women were routinely drugged into a “Twilight Sleep” and strapped down unconscious to give birth. They were also given a pill to prevent their milk from coming in. Hard to fathom right? Seems completely insane. Inhumane even. But just because I believe in hospital births, epidurals and the beauty of modern medicine and vaccines doesn’t mean that I concur with the major and egregious practices of the past.
So sure, come up with why co-sleeping works for you: that you love having your baby snuggled tight next to you; that it’s a way for everyone to get more sleep; that it is your bonding time. Those reasons make sense. I did it too. Still do for weekend naps. Put Em on the boob and we drift off. It is heaven. It didn’t work for me at night because I was too paranoid of rolling on him. I was up constantly checking myself. Now he’s in his crib and doing really well. So whatever works.
But for those of us who want to sleep train and have our babies in their cribs getting an uninterrupted 12-hour stretch of one of the most basic human needs, please don’t point to history and lambast us for our decision. And for the record, here is a recent study that backs up why sleep (and thus, sleep training for those babies who don’t just fall into it naturally) is so crucial. I’m just saying…..
Picture courtesy of Shutterstock
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bed-sharing, bonding, breastfeeding, cosleep, cosleeping, crib, family bed, Ferber, homebirth, naps, nursing, sleep training, Weisenbluth | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Mom Situations, Must Read, Newborn Care
Friday, August 31st, 2012
In my constant quest to get my daughter to sleep past 6:03 every morning, I’m trying to come up with ways she can entertain herself. When friends tell me, “My baby plays quietly in her crib in the morning,” I want to spit. But one can always dare to dream…
The other night, after she was asleep, I put some books in her crib. I figured when she woke up, maybe she’d read them. Instead, I was awoken by two huge thumps. I raced into her room, terrified she fell out. Nope. She was just chucking the books out.
“No books in my crib!!!” she screamed.
OOhhh–kkkay. Didn’t know we had crib rules dictated by a toddler.
I told my friend Elizabeth about it, who did just about the kindest thing anyone has ever done for me. She offered to make me a “pocket crib.” I didn’t know what that was, but it sounded cool. And considering I can barely sew a button, it’s like she just offered to climb Everest for me.
Two days later, we had it. Fia and I made a big production out of stuffing it with books, animals, and a sippy cup. I explained to her how she can read her books and play when Mama is still sleeping. Unfortunately, she hasn’t grasped the concept so I’m still not that mom who can say, “My daughter plays quietly in her crib.” But for naps, she sometimes reads a book or two before falling asleep. I’ll take what I can get.
Elizabeth is now custom-making these by the way, so feel free to visit her website.
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books, crib, crib pocket, dreams, naps, playing in crib, reading, sleep, sleep training, toddler | Categories:
Fearless Feisty Mama, Fia Friday