Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Life is stranger than science fiction

Starlog message
To: Commander B. Maker
From: 2nd Officer NT Lyons

Greetings, Commander Maker. I report from my base of the last 9 months and hope that all is well at the Battlestar Newbaybee.

It appears that you received my Code Red message as per my GBTW discharge instructions from April. In the last week, I began to detect an increased usage by the Pilot of my Mothership of these words: "go", "back", "to", and "work", and you must have responded appropriately to my Code Red SOS to influence the pilot's course of actions of our past week. After many months spent enjoying a light sleep in the 4-wheeled all-terrain buggy, I have been transported into the cage-like sleeping berth in my quarters for my daytime sleep in order to establish a more predictable pattern to this activity. Darkening fabric has been placed over the windows of my quarters so that it is difficult to be disturbed by the sunbeams streaming in (though these are uncommon in this drab winter climate), and I have been outfitted in my nighttime sleepsuit. The effect has been generally positive to my mood, although the Mothership Pilot still seems to wish for me to engage in even more sleeping activity. Perhaps once the pain in my mouth subsides I will be able to relax and enjoy my cozy quarters even more. Have you had any updates on the expected arrival date of my right central incisor? It would be most helpful to know this for planning purposes.

I have also been given charge of two poor creatures who were apparently in need of support and encouragement; one is a bear with some obvious issues, as he is unable to detach himself from a soft blanket, and the other is a giraffe suffering from a shorter-than-normal neck. I have done my best to let them know that with me, they are safe from the evil forces of Banished Plush Toys.

I must report, Sir, on a most delicious meal which was prepared by the Mothership Chef last night. It seemed to go by the code name "Penny" and to use a phrase from our field, it was out of this world! Slightly softened, tubular-shaped delicacies, served with a sauce not dissimilar in texture and consistency to molten lava. I could not get enough of the tubes, and the Mothership Chef was quite perplexed at how quickly I slurped down the "Penny". She kept examining the floor around my dining seat thinking that I had just dropped them. But they were so good I even ate some of the ones which had been abandoned by my 1st officer.

I was also sent out yesterday and today to an alternative Day Station to explore a new territory. The Mothership Pilot was close by, only a few feet away as I began to familiarize myself with the new surroundings. There were other officers there who are posted in nearby quarters and we began to communicate. I look forward to reporting as to whether we'll become comrades. On Thursday and Friday I will attend the Day Station for lunch; I am quite hopeful that I will encounter "Penny" there as well.

Sir, I do want to thank you for selecting me for this mission. The senior officers at my Mothership have been very kind and generous to me and I hope you and they have been happy with my work as well.

I leave you with some photos of me in my new daytime sleep mode, and several from today in the all-terrain buggy. Babyspeed, NTL

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Reader birthdays!

January 19th, 20th, and 21st are three special readers' birthdays - so happy birthday Mona, Kathryn and Raina! Three wonderful friends from all phases of my life (can't believe it's taken me this long to realize I know people with birthdays on three consecutive days!). Everyone at DwL hopes you had fabulous special days and sends lots of love.

I can say I know a travel writer!

I am taking the liberty of re-posting some travel articles by friend Liz Breslin which she put on Facebook recently. I love both of them: although the closest I've come to Abu Dhabi is on the big screen for Sex and the City 2, I have been to Avebury. Something about the Avebury article reminds me of one of my own family's excursions to Roman Britain, to Maiden Castle. I think Mom and I were both very much looking forward to visiting the gift shop and cafe (as we are often found to do) and come to find out that all that's at Maiden Castle is a big hill. And some cows.

Well done, Liz, these are awesome!

Lordy mercy, our week in review

You know how sometimes you'll look back on a week and think, man that went by quickly!; whereas other times you'll reflect on the events of a day and find it almost impossible to believe that it occurred within the last 7 days?
This week has been one of the latter...I swear Tuesday feels like it happens in another lifetime and on Thursday I was an emotional wreck, but now I'm just my usual self (ha ha - whatever that means!)
It does indeed seem that there has been a lot going on in our little household the past couple of weeks, what with the potty training, the pacifier withdrawal project, my increasing anxiety about returning to work, combined with the general January blah's that many people probably feel. It was very exciting this week to realize that the days are getting longer and it's staying a little lighter in the afternoons, if only by a little bit. Progress is what matters.
On that note, we have been making progress with Noah's sleep. The beginning of the week didn't start well, and I think I last reported that we were replacing the pacifier/dummy with a bottle, and I was worried that was a step in the wrong direction. On Wednesday night into Thursday morning, I had a pretty big "wobble": Noah had woken at about 12:45 and I'd given him a bottle. After he had that he went back down in his cot to sleep, but then when he woke again around 4:45 I tried this shushing and rocking technique that just failed massively. After about half an hour I was exhausted, and Matt came downstairs to find me making another bottle. Something about standing in the dark kitchen, and doing something which I knew probably wasn't the resolution to the issue, made me feel so utterly defeated, and after we got Noah back to sleep, I just had to have a little cry. Having gone through this all before with Blake, I guess I just somehow wanted to be the one, this time around, to crack the sleep mystery. I wanted to fix the problem, solve the puzzle, pat myself on the back after doing a victory lap around the playgroup (no scratch that, being smug about sleep to other mothers is a definite no-no in my books). And at 5:00 on Thursday morning, none of that was going to be happening at the rate we were going.
Later that day, I decided I was going to start to do something which Lin had me do with Blake, which was to institute a proper naptime routine. After an early lunch I gave Noah some milk, put him in his sleepsack in his cot, and let him do some crying and yelling before he did finally nod off to sleep on his own. He slept for 45 minutes, then woke up. That was good, but I thought he could do better. I went and shushed him and he went back for another 45. That made me pleased. I've been doing this naptime thing now for the past four days, and it does seem to be working. If Noah is tired and the nap is timed right, he will pretty much go off to sleep without too little fuss.
There is a theory that if you get the daytime sleep sorted out, the nighttime sleep will follow. I don't know how true it is, but we have had a few decent nights since my waterworks. On Thursday night Matt was out and Noah went down for the night around 7:15 pm. He then woke at 11:30, and I knew that was much too early for him to be hungry. I held him in my arms, and then he fell back asleep until 4:45, at which point I decided he had gone without milk for about 9 hours, and I felt justified in giving him a bottle. He then went back for another hour and a half or so. Friday and Saturday nights have been pretty similar, and I guess if it carried on like this, I would be ok with it. As long as it's predictable, and doesn't really involve me doing much in that middle of the night wake, I think it would be ok. We'll see what tonight holds.

I am sometimes amazed at what a difference a day can make, and on Thursday morning when I felt so frustrated and tired, I did try to take a deep breath and put things in perspective. Back in December, I was walking along the South Bank and walked past a smartly-dressed young mother pushing a red Bugaboo. She looked like so many mothers enjoying a walk with her baby that there was nothing remarkable about her. Except for, I noticed as we walked past each other, she had only one arm. I spent much of the rest of that day - and every now and then since - thinking to myself what an incredibly challenging, incredibly courageous, incredibly exhausting, incredibly incredible life she and her baby must have. Think about changing an 8-month-old's diaper with one hand, or managing 10 sets of snaps on a sleepsuit or trying to have a cup of tea while getting lunch ready when the baby is cranky. That's got to be hard. My sleep issues don't seem so hard in comparison. I also read of a family in Wales who were in a car accident returning from holiday last week; a 20-year-old father and 23-year-old mother died, leaving their 6-month-old baby boy an orphan. I still basically can't think of that without shedding a tear and thinking how unfair and cruel a story like that can make life seem. My sleep issues...not unfair really.
On Friday I awoke with a better perspective. I am tired, yes. I will be less tired, eventually. Progress is good, but backward steps are also probably inevitable. Noah's 4th tooth has still not make its full appearance yet, and there will be 16 more after that one. So it could take a while for this sleeping-through-the-night concept to materialize. For now, I'm going to focus on the achievements: a few daytime naps, the ability to go to sleep without sucking a pacifier, some longer stretches in the night. It's been a pretty emotional and intense time, but I'm thankful for each and every day. Tomorrow Noah spends an hour at the nursery for the first of his settling-in days. I will stay with him, so it won't be too hard on either of us hopefully. But it is the start of my letting go, and ultimately that is hard. My vow this week is to take more pictures; I somehow haven't really had the camera out much of January. Hopefully I'll have a little more light each day, and that does brighten the spirits.


Some of you may be wondering how we're doing with the Baby-Led Weaning approach to solids for Noah. It's going really well, in fact, and I think he has started "eating with a bit more purpose" (I think I remember a quote like this from the book). Favorites are spaghetti, dried apricots, oranges, sausages, and - new a few weeks ago - Cheerios! I have not followed the approach to the letter, and every morning I can be found spoon-feeding him his breakfast cereal. Yogurt is also something I feel better about feeding to him, as opposed to letting him muck in and get it everywhere except down his throat. But generally I've enjoyed it and I think Noah has too. Some days when I try to feed him something - like I did today with some of my soup - he'll just push the spoon away and go back to his selection of goodies on his highchair tray. So at that point I just say to myself, "I tried." He still seems a good weight and I'm wrapping up with breastfeeding [I originally started writing this on Jan 5th], so he should be getting enough milk based on what I can see him having with his bottles.
It definitely has suited me from the point-of-view of not having to make endless purees and spend time trying to spoon-feed him, but it definitely is messy (and the food doesn't just end up on him, or on the floor, but all over me, the high chair, the dining table...). The other night I made a kind of cottage pie thing and we actually all ate it for dinner, so that seemed like the whole plan had been a good idea.
I have a really funny video of him eating spaghetti but it's so massive that I can't upload it anywhere; I'm going to see if Matt can figure some way of doing it. In the meantime, here is Noah enjoying an orange. Ignore the dried muck on the back of his highchair if you can!

2010: The Year in Review

Belatedly, here were my reflections as the clocked ticked over into 2011. Just getting it all written down before the end of January (p.s. for those of you wondering if our Christmas card to you got lost in the mail...erm, no, it didn't. We just didn't manage to do them this year!)

I have really felt quite sad to see the end of "twenty-ten"; for me 2011 signals my return to the corporate world, and I guess I feel a bit shocked and saddened to say goodbye to the year "my little baby" was born. I know that one of the things I was quite worried about with having a second child was being able to love him or her as much as I did Blake. Incredibly, it's just nature's way that you muster up more love than that you thought you could give, and I've acutely felt that Noah is "my baby" as opposed to "the baby", and that now that we're into a new year, "our year" has now ended. The number of times recently where I've just held him really tightly and kissed his downy head...I hope he knows that although I haven't always been able to give him my all this year, I have done my best.

January was cold, and even colder in our new but very old house. We got snow which was fun to walk around in; we explored our new neighborhood amidst the white stuff. We had the heating on almost constantly, which was particularly useful at 5:17 in the morning, which seemed to be Blake's preferred time of day to wake up. We wondered and wondered about how to make him sleep later, but finally we gave up and were grateful when CBeebies finally came on air at 6:00 am.

In February we celebrated Blake's birthday with a trip to the Transport Museum. He was two, and he was often quite terrible, but was generally charming, very talkative and funny. I got bigger, and more tired, and I was sometimes relieved to back into the office after my day "off" just so I could recover a bit from the physical exhaustion of chasing after Blake for an entire day. In the meantime I was trying to get into a hypno frame of mind related to my upcoming labor; we were too tired in the evenings to do the exercises, and the relaxation cd fulfilled its purpose - although basically it just made me fall asleep while listening to it.

Anna and I compared notes in the early weeks of March, and we were thankful and happy for the arrival of Joseph toward the end of the month.

April finally came, and I finally felt as ready as I'd ever be to be a mother of two. Good thing, since "BLT" made his way into the world on the 9th, one day past his due date and playing the leading role in the drama of his birth. And what drama it was, but a glorious and wondrous day; the soundtrack to which would be Blake's excited shouts when we brought the baby home: "That's my brother, that's my brother!" as both Grannies were there to greet us. For several days after his arrival he was just "Brother Lyons," but eventually he became Noah. Bet they could use him out in Queensland right now.

After I finally stopped saying, "He just flew out," I couldn't believe that our order for a "sleeper" had been received by the powers in charge of these things. He slept so much, that I eventually started to get a tiny bit worried. He wasn't sleeping through the night or anything like that, but I did manage to paint a small bedroom while he just snoozed in his bouncy chair. Given that it was the first time I'd ever painted a room, it took me a while; it was an awfully long snooze.

I got used to living life on two floors. It was quite different having to go up and down the stairs in the house after being on one level in our flat. I tried to stay positive and told myself I was grateful for the exercise. The ol' bod wasn't quite the same after baby number 2; probably never will be, in all honesty. I made the classic new mother mistake of thinking I could fit into my normal jeans sometime around June. Mmm, waistband says no!

I felt guilty about sending Blake off to pre-school while Noah and I larked about, but I told myself he needed the routine and that he needed me to not have them both for 5 days in a row. I'll always be grateful that I had some time with Noah to myself; and I'll equally probably regret not having Blake around more during such a unique and special time in his life. I've now learned that I can never win. My friend Mel had told me that having two children was easier in some ways, because with two they would definitely have to share your time, and you could lose that feeling of needing to be everything to one person. I get where she was coming from, but it took me many months not to feel like I had to still be everything to everyone. I'm still working on that one, in fact.

We celebrated Bishy's 70th birthday in May, and the cousins enjoyed meeting each other. Although we missed our flight, we eventually got to Clinton in June, and Blake had a ball. With Granny Karla and Grandpa John by his side, he became the most frequent visitor to the Clinton Beach playground - "Shall we go to the swings, Granny Karla?".

The summer here was lovely and hot, and we got to know our new neighborhood and all the parks and things to do in it. We made lots of new acquaintances, some of whom turned into friends. England's World Cup campaign was a pretty big disappointment, and the US didn't win either, so it wasn't a great result for any of our nationalities. I loved the summer, and having our outdoor space, because it meant my laundry dried more quickly. I sometimes wondered if I might be the first person to drown in laundry...

All the while, Noah just loved watching what his big brother did, but he stopped watching when it came to the lessons about sleeping through the night. He just wasn't interested in that, evidently. I kept thinking that we should have cracked it much earlier, but Noah turned out to be as bad, if not worse, than Blake in terms of sleep. The little monkey!

September saw the first of hopefully many "urban family" holidays, when we headed off to the south of France with Teams Anderson-Kilner, Cook and Pendse. It is fun to think of the kids growing older, more aware, and crucially - more independent and able to play in their own company! - in the years to come. It was very relaxing, but also tiring; I'm not used to staying up so late during our vacations, and the kids saw no reason to sleep in just because we were on a break. No doubt we have some fun holidays ahead with them and other urban family members.

Noah was baptised in October, at our new church, All Saints. He was a little saint during the service and made us so proud. Blake and Emma attempting to sing along to the hymns with hymnals in hand was also pretty sweet.

In November I learned that I would not, as I had at one point in my life previously harbored secret hopes to, become the future Queen of England. I quickly got over it as I learned that we would get an extra day off this year for the wedding. I do think that Kate Middleton is very beautiful and totally deserving of the role, so I wish her and William a very happy life together.

December brought more cold weather, Blake's first nativity play, and of course, more sleepless nights for Noah. The poor kid hasn't had curtains in his room since we had the windows replaced in August, and I have spent many nights staring out of his window on to our peaceful little street at stupid-o'clock in the morning. The neighbors across the way had a baby in September, and since then I've at least felt some comfort and solidarity when I see some of their lights on at 2:30 in the morning as well. This time of course I know the sleepless nights will - eventually - end. Please let them end. Soon. Tonight, even?!

We spent a white Christmas at Bishy's and then soon after the countdown to the new year was on. Part of me thinks, "Where did the year go?!" and the other part of me reminds myself, "Don't you remember, you were doing laundry."

I'm sure my memory fails me somewhat and that the above snippets hardly do justice to the year. Along the way we thought about our plans for what we'll do to the house, we celebrated weddings and birthdays and new arrivals, we (ok, Matt) worked in the garden, and I among other things, tried to remember to enjoy the time with Noah and Blake. After all, I'll never get time like this again, and there will always be laundry to do. Happy New Year!

Local milk bar closes

West Dulwich, London (BP) - January 19, 2010
A local milk bar has become the latest establishment to close its doors to customers. "I'd had the milk bar open twice during the years 2008-2011," said the owner in an exclusive interview with Dances with Lyons. "It was a fantastic experience to be a milk bar owner, but the time seemed right to close it down. In December I started to evaluate our opening hours, and chose not to renew our 24-hour license. That perhaps signalled the start of the end."

Milk bar owners - always women - are renowned to be some of the hardest-working people in the world, often working around the clock and making many sacrifices for their customers, notably related to sleep. Their appearances and wardrobes are also known to suffer. Most choose to engage in the profession only for a limited time, if at all. "I closed the bar back in January 2009 when I was heading back into my job outside the home, and after re-opening in April 2010, I've decided to close for similar reasons. My most recent customer had just been stopping by for a quick hello in the very early morning; I don't think he was heartbroken or surprised to hear I was shutting. Since he got his first three teeth, he just seemed mostly interested in showing them off, and frankly, a milk bar is really not the place for those."

"It was always about customer satisfaction, and it's been a pleasure to have been the exclusive drinking joint of choice for our valued customers for a substantial amount of time. Although I was somewhat emotional when I decided which day was closing day, it feels right. These days, customers' needs change so rapidly, and they have so much choice and variety. Our first customer reportedly now drinks pink milk and hot chocolate; I just can't compete with that."

The owner reports that she will not open any similar establishments in the future, and as a result, various items from the milk bar will be auctioned in the community. "It was a great experience, one I'd recommend. But I'll look forward to the next stages of life, and of course I'll always be there for our clients in other ways."

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The emotional electric bull of my past 24 hours

Everyone will no doubt be familiar with the phrase, "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade," but do you know the second half of this phrase: "When life gives you sleep deprivation..."?

No? Darn, I hoped there might be an answer...

My return to work is now less than three weeks away, and I think I must internally be starting to feel the stress and sadness that it will bring. There are lots of things that are really good about my going back to work, but I know it may take a lot of energy and effort to get used to a new routine, and I'm going to be as sad to leave Noah at nursery - at least for that first day - as I was when I left Blake back in January 2009. It will be strange to get back into that whole "corporate world" - the lingo, the politics (and required diplomacy), the clothing that ought not to be covered in baby food or puke...

The last time I met with my manager back in September, we discussed briefly the "conflicting priorities" that our company was feeling related to doing our best to keep our clients happy, attempt to increase revenue, and stay ahead of our competion. This morning at 5:00 I had a real sense of priority conflict, and it made me think a lot today about what it is that makes having a non-sleeping-through-the-night baby just so hard.

In the summer of 2007, when I first got pregnant with Blake, I wish someone had said this to me: "Why don't you just know this now, that you may not sleep well or properly for the next 5 years" (they would have had to have been slightly omniscient to know about Noah as well, but anyway), then I actually think my whole attitude to sleep or the lack of it would be very different. Not just, Oh, you're going to sleep badly when pregnant, and then when the baby comes, but also, And possibly for the rest of your life, when your child is under your roof and then when they're out in the wide world. I am actually pretty good at functioning - or at least getting by - on what might be considered by many to be "little" sleep. I certainly don't often get 8 hours a night, as recommended by those folks who also recommend eating 5 a day (does wine count?!), or getting your heart rate above a certain level several times a week (sprinting to make sure that Blake applies his brake - aka his foot on the sidewalk - when on his scooter as he approaches an intersection...I must do that at least 6 times a week!). If I remember I buy moisturiser with sunscreen, and I do floss regularly, but staying up late has always kind of been my Achilles Heel (in that staying up late does not actually equate to being good on not enough sleep, and that situation of illusion not matching up with reality equals a problem in my "I am Superhero" mind).

Since taking away Noah's pacifier, he has, as I've mentioned, had some really good nights. He has also had some pretty normal ones, too, and it's also that going backwards after doing really well that is really really difficult. One of the challenges now is, of course (duh!), how to get him back to sleep without his dummy, and perhaps problematically, in the middle of the night, or at least when it's dark, the only thing that really seems to do that effectively is a bottle. Now, this is an issue (or is it?); we've basically just replaced the pacifier with a bottle, and that's surely not the direction we want to be heading. After some pretty agonizing nights/pre-dawn hellish hours over the weekend, Matt and I agreed that making decisions in the middle of the night is not a good thing (hear hear!), and that we would agree a plan, and a backup plan, before we both went to bed. Two nights ago Noah woke up sometime around 5:00-something, and I basically didn't think I should feed him so I attempted to "hold him back to sleep". I put that in quotes because if you can use your imagination, there is nothing in what actually happened that would relate to that description; what in fact happened was that I tried to basically wrestle a screeching, arching, twisting, screaming, kicking, writhing twenty-pound child into lying contentedly in my loving, welcoming motherly arms. I just had a thought - should I give it a name and patent it in case someone decides that it would be a very popular and effective exercise class for building and toning arm strength? Now coming to a gym near you: BabyWrestle! Maybe that's my winning lottery ticket right there....
So, two nights ago, this finally worked. Noah would do all this extremely energetic and angry-sounding activity, to then sort of kind of fall into a sleep. At about the time of restored slumber, Matt had to get up for work, so it was kind of a pyrrhic victory [get me with my second greco-roman reference, my Latin teacher parents surely will be proud!]. I also maybe had another half an hour sleep. The plan, then for last night was that if Noah woke once, I would give him a bottle; if we woke again, and couldn't get him to go back to sleep in his cot within a matter of minutes, I would take him downstairs and try to get him back to sleep, and at least the volume wouldn't be as intense for Matt, and possibly Blake. Matt and I were both pretty knackered last night - which was exacerbated by the somewhat unusual situation of Noah not actually just going right to sleep after his evening bottle, such that we just had to leave him to cry himself to sleep - so went to bed around 10:00pm, and Noah woke after about 5 hours, around 12:45. I went and made a bottle, which he sucked down, and then he next woke at about 5:15. I tried feebly to shush him in his cot, but it was clear that wasn't going to work very well, so I brought him down to the couch where he began his acrobatics.

I definitely don't - and Matt corroborates this - remember Blake ever being just as LOUD as Noah is, but I guess we never really even let Blake do much crying in the way that we have let Noah do. I am quite fearful of the projected decibel levels of Noah's Terrible Two's though. He also has been through the wars in a way I don't remember with Blake; he seems to try to stand up a lot more in his cot and slip and bang his face or head on the cot slats. It's really awful to witness (and hear through the wall between our bed and his cot), and today he was sporting a little bruise on his forehead. [I am not sure how I feel about using smiley faces in my writing, but if I were to use them, I would put a sad face in now].

But back to conflicting priorities, which is I think the crux of the issue. As I was sitting on the couch, I was saying out loud, very softly, "Shhhh, Noah, shhhhhh, it's sleepy time...shhhhh, it's ok, Mommy's here, shhhh, hey, hey, calm down...shhhh" but inside my head, I was basically thinking, "This is so f**ing unfair, I am person too, and I have rights and one of those rights is sleep, and why oh why can you just not calm down and please just go back to sleep so that all will be right with the world." Immediately my next thought - internal again - was "You selfish woman, he's just a baby and he's clearly not happy and how can you think of yourself first when you've got to be stronger than that and it's your duty and obligation to make him stop crying and what if he's teething and you're not comforting him?!" And so on...
Finally after about half an hour I decided I had had enough and went and made a bottle. After he had it though, he refused to be put down in his cot. I screamed silently - but so emphatically that it basically hurt around my mouth and I thought later to myself that I probably looked like Edvard Munch's The Scream and laughed about what would happen if my face got frozen in that position. It was the ponderings and the laughter of a very tired woman...

Conveniently, by this point it was now after 6:00 and Blake had been woken up and had trotted into our bedroom to climb into our bed with Matt. As Matt was going to be waking up soon, I basically just took Noah into Blake's bed with me, where Noah promptly fell asleep.
At some point in my dream I heard Blake saying something about a "nice surprise" and "Mommy? Where are you?" and after he'd said it a few times in my dream, I realised he was saying it in reality, and that he was very confused about where I was, and uncertain of why I would be in the darkness of his bedroom in his bed as opposed to my own bed where I normally am in the morning. His phrase of the week is "Close your eyes, I've got a nice surprise" which means he has successfully done a wee in the potty and is coming to show me the potty's removable plastic insert and its contents. And no, that's not lemonade in there...I'm just waiting for him to drop it on the carpet! It was 6:47, so Noah and I had probably been asleep for another 30 minutes or so, but when I tried to move him into his cot, he just woke up, and that was it for the day.
I can't exactly quantify how irritable I was in the morning, but it was pretty bad. Although I normally ascribe to the theory that children are God's gift sent down to make the world a better place (or some other similarly nice thought), I decided today that in fact they are small minions sent out by private mental health institutions to increase self-admissions (and subsequently, revenue) by overtired mothers. I happened to be in Victoria Station, and to prove just how weak I was feeling, I succumbed to the temptation of a chocolate glazed Krispy Kreme donut. I knew I was really tired then, but man, was it tasty!

Where was I going with this? Ah yes, conflicting priorities, I've kind of covered (me being a tired person and feeling like that's not fair), and another one which I only briefly mentioned: expectation-setting. If you've been a new parent in modern times, you will have probably consulted one if not dozens of books, websites, friends, family members, medical professionals, Big Issue salesmen (ok, not done that), about how to get a child to sleep through the night. And here again is where I think if I could just be a little less of a result-driven perfectionist, life would be better. Rather than, why the h&ll is he still not sleeping through the night when he should be?, I could think, Wow, he slept for a 5-hour stretch and then another 4 hours - that's good! But no, that's not the way I see it at the moment. Shame on me...

There was an article yesterday which made me smile, about a recent NetMums study that talked about mothers telling "white lies" about things like how much tv their kids watch, what they eat, etc, all to put on a good show to the other mothers. You can read it here if you're interested. Although I actually don't think I fit in line with what they report (I'll be pretty honest to any mothers I talk to that Blake has spent a lot of the last 9 months watching "too much" tv, and well, I don't really think it's a secret by looking at me that I'm a far from perfect person and mother!), I loved this which I read in another article that was linked to the NetMums study one: "When I was feeling overwhelmed by life (kids, work, whatever), I'd plaster a smile on my face and tell the world I was "fine". (I've since learned that, in counsellor-speak, "F.I.N.E." means fed-up, insecure, neurotic, and emotional)." Brilliant.
Tonight we go to bed unsure of what the night will bring. It will probably bring a wake-up or two, but I'm going to try to be a haven of peace, calm, and hippy relaxation techniques. What I will actually feel at 3:29 or 5:48 am may not quite match up with that.

But if you see me around and wonder why I'm grinning when I say I'm "fine", you'll know what I mean. Maybe tomorrow I'll wake up not only on the right side of the bed, but it will be my own bed to boot. And whatever you do, beware not of Greeks bearing gifts, but of toddlers bearing lemonade. It might not be the nice surprise you're looking for!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Just another Sunday night

Well, it's the end of another week, and as if often the case on a Sunday night, I'm up late trying to do one of two things, depending on the perspective. I could be trying to get a headstart on the week, but in reality it's that I'm finally getting caught up on the week that is just ending. I have no idea if it's true but I bet a good number of my posts would have Sunday night timestamps!

Many readers will be pleased to know that I'll no longer be providing play-by-play reports of Blake's potty training; what I will say is that he is doing really well and we've had a few accident-free days. That is probably due in part to our staying in quite a bit; we went to church today and I found myself whisking Blake off to get changed in order to get back in time for communion (where Blake, after receiving his blessing, kept asking very loudly in reference to my wafer - "Mommy, what's that?!"). It's also in part to Blake just deciding that #1 in the potty is ok, and then just doing #2's in his pants. So it's not all smooth sailing, but we're getting there.

As for Project Pacifier Reduction, that's going ok too. Noah has had some rock star sleep nights (going pretty much until about 5:30ish!), interspersed with some normal ones where we're up at 2:00 am and can't figure out what it is he needs. I've stayed strong with keeping the pacifier away from him, though, so hopefully he is forgetting that he ever had it.

This week is the last of my carefree weeks of maternity leave; I'll start settling Noah in at nursery on the 24th. I'm going to try to enjoy the week and not get too emotional about what's around the corner. We'll all be fine, I know.

I had been having post-Christmas memory card overload on my cameras, but I've spent some time tonight downloading pictures, so I'll hope to take some more pictures and post them. Here are a few to tide some grandmothers over! It feels like such a relief to have that done and be able to start afresh with taking photos...

Matt was saying tonight that he thinks Noah is more adventurous than Blake was, and this picture perhaps reinforces that thought. The two spots on Noah's forehead are fading bruises from some tumble or another that he has taken in the past couple of days. He just goes for things, and often takes some big falls when he forgets he's standing up, or on the stairs, for instance. I have to watch him so carefully or he just scurries off to get into mischief!
Is Blake laughing at how easy it is to get chocolate coins from Mommy?

See, I don't miss my dummy!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Yo cuz!

We headed down to Uncle David's on Saturday for a Christmas follow-up session with the Godalming Lyonses. David had been unable to join us on Christmas Day because of the weather, so he invited us down for lunch and to take away his as of then undelivered presents.

Blake absolutely loves his cousin Emma, so they had a ball playing together. It really brings a smile to my face to see them have so much fun together; Maya and Noah are also both looking more like they'll be partners in crime in no time as well.

Here is the crew assembled together. Getting smiles from 4 of them proved impossible!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Thinking for myself

I've wondered this week what in the world people did before the Internet. A quick look at my Google history this week would see these questions spelled out in full (as if I was writing to an Agony Aunt or someone!): "What comes first: bladder or bowel control?", "Nighttime dummy weaning: how to do it?" and "When should you take the Christmas tree down?" For the question about Christmas decorations, I found a page that spelled out the various merits of taking the tree down either on 12th night/Epiphany, or the day after Epiphany, and the best answer, I thought: "Whenever you want to." Amen to that.

Noah can officially claim to have had an dental epiphany, in that his next two teeth arrived on the same day - January 7th. The bottom right one and the top left one. The top right one is agonizingly close to being here, as well, but he has been a grumpy chap for the last week so they must be pretty painful.
Here he is, sporting some tasty-looking muck on his face and showing them off:

We also seem to have entered a major separation anxiety patch; there are moans and whimpers whenever I leave the room without him, and I'll soon hear him crawling quickly to find out where I've gone. The two intense first days of Blake's potty training probably didn't help with his clinginess; I basically carried him around the house as I followed Blake so Noah got even more comfortable being attached to my hip. I found out today that Noah weighs 19lbs, 5 oz, which also helps explain why my biceps ache - you try carrying around 20 pounds for what probably amounts to 5 hours a day, and I bet your arms will hurt too!

One of the things I will never be able to say about the Januarys preceeding my return to work is that they were relaxing. In 2009 we were tackling Blake's sleep with Lin, and as you know, we're hard at work at the moment with Blake and his "big boy" endeavors. And so it was with a slightly maniacal tone to my voice that I asked Matt on Sunday night what he thought we should do about Noah's dummy/pacifier. Noah really loves it, has always loved to suck, but there was one night last week where I had to get up about 4 times to put it back in his mouth when it had fallen out and he couldn't find it in the night, nor could he go back to sleep without it. I reminded myself that it was always going to be easier to break the habit now rather than later, and that it might be hard for a few days but would hopefully be worth it.

On Monday I gave it to him only very briefly, just right at times where he was getting really fussy because of being tired. He was really tired when we finally got him to sleep at just before 8:00 pm, which is late for him, but because of that he just went into his cot and fell right to sleep - no dummy. I tried to give him a bit of a dream feed around midnight, but he wasn't really interested. I went to bed, and the next time I heard him the clock said 5:34. The alarm clock is on Matt's side of the bed and my vision isn't super, so I definitely had to stare at the clock for a good few seconds to process what it was telling me. If it was true - and yes, indeed, that first number is 5 and not 2 or 3 - well, whoa - that's good!! I gave him a little feed and then he came into the bed with us (Blake was already there; not sure what time he came in) before sleeping til 7:00. Amazing! Before I got too too excited I asked Matt if he had gone to him in the night, but he hadn't, so basically Noah had just slept through the night, totally unexpectedly. Could it be that he was able to self-settle?!

Matt reminded me that morning that it could of course have been a fluke, but with a result like that I was going to at least do my best to keep a good thing going, so on Tuesday I didn't give him the dummy the entire day. This was a little bit trickier, as there were times when he really really wanted it, and he was very upset, very loud and very unsure about where his soother had gone. A friend from church came over with her 21-month-old son and her 2-week-old baby and I felt sooo bad...toward the end of the afternoon, I was convinced Noah needed a nap, but since he wasn't able yet to figure out how to get himself off to sleep, he pretty much just yelled the house down. I felt so bad for Lisa who had probably come over hoping for a bit of a change of scenery, some calm conversation, a nice relaxing cup of tea...and instead she got some ballistic child and his mother who insisted on trying to see if he would fall asleep on his own. When I realized I had broken a sweat in trying to get him to go to sleep, I gave up, but that meant he just didn't have an afternoon nap, so I wasn't sure how that was going to go down in the night (the whole sleep breeding sleep thing does seem to hold true for a lot of kids, but I'm not sure it ever has for mine).

Anyway, Noah went down pretty easily without the dummy, but then he woke around 11:30 pm or so and had another massive tantrum where he was inconsolable, arching his back and nearly thrashing himself out of my arms. Finally after about 20 minutes of patting, shushing, singing, rocking, and a lot of deep breathing on my part, we gave him a little bottle. He then slept through until 5:40!! Result! I gave him a meager breastfeed then, and he went back into his cot for a few minutes, but then stirred again close to 6. I decided I would try to just go ahead and give his morning bottle then, which he did have and went back to sleep until 8:45. Obviously this schedule is not going to be any good once I'm back at work and we all need to get out of the house at 7:30, but this is some good progress for sure. At least I know he is capable of sleeping longer stretches.

Today was another dummy-free day, and he was a bit more cheery today at times when he would have been in full meltdown mode yesterday. We'll see how tonight is, but maybe, just maybe, we might be on the right track. Of course writing that out means that I'm probably destined to his worst night ever, but I go to bed in hope.

While I can't claim to know what the easiest path to an unbroken night's sleep is, I do feel proud that I decided to make this change for us all. I'm telling myself it's one of those situations where it is going to be hard in the short term, but better in the long run. Short-term pain for long-term gain! Now I'd better be off to plan out tomorrow's meals. I'm thinking cold turkey and chocolate coins; they're both proving to be pretty effective.

Book reviews: We Are All Made of Glue and Stick or Twist

I'll be honest, I had a thought the other day that I am indeed that mother: the one who pontificates about her brilliant toddler's urinary and bowel movements, and assumes that her audience is not only interested, but also impressed with her choice vocabulary to descibe the unmentionables and the toddler's command of his understanding of the toilet. Deep inside me, there is the person I once was before all this took over my life. And in an effort to keep some balance to the blog, I offer you some book reviews!

You should definitely read We Are All Made of Glue. It's the third book by the Marina Lewycka, who wrote A Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian and Two Caravans. As is her style, the latest novel does indeed have a foreign-born protagonist, the cat-loving, bargain-hunting Naomi Shapiro, whose life collides with that of the English Georgie, whose husband has just left her as the story begins. Georgie spies Mrs. Shapiro removing items from the skip in front of her North London house (where Georgie has just deposited her husband's treasured possessions) and so begins a tale that is almost just believable, both sad and funny, and definitely heart-warming. The author's gift is in the dialogue of the various quirky characters, especially the often slightly incorrect English and wacky situations which just made me laugh out loud at times. I found Lewycka's first two books amusing but also depressing, whereas this left me with a smile on my face. A definite winner if you're looking for a good book to curl up with (if you get to do that sort of thing, of course!).

I also stayed up late over Christmas to get through the very enjoyable Stick or Twist by Eleanor Moran, who is friends with Nina. At Nina's Hen Night in November I sat next to Eleanor at dinner, so I promised to check out her books. Stick or Twist tells the story of 30-something Anna, who makes the bold move of declining the offer of marriage from her boyfriend of 10 years because their relationship just doesn't have it anymore. Other suitors and possible Mr Right's enter the tale, which is anchored from a time perspective by a media event Anna is organising at work. I would highly recommend this one as a great chick lit read for the beach, or if any of you mothers out there need an escape to the now fantasy worlds of going out for mid-week drinks, flirting with new bad-boy beaus, boozy weekend mini-breaks, do what I did and stay up late to read it!

That's all for now; happy reading!

More potty updates

One of the first cassette tapes I owned (remember those?) was Paula Abdul's Forever Your Girl, and I've been humming the first couple lines of "Opposites Attract" the past few days: "I take two steps forward, I take two steps back..." and reminiscing about being a 12-year-old girl who was so happy to have her first tape, as opposed to a 34-year-old woman who was trying not be beaten down by a 3-year-old's potty training efforts.

Blake, to his credit, has been doing really well. On Friday he went to nursery and only had one accident, but they said he had done a good job about trying to go. He insisted on leaving his pull-up on after his naptime, but when he came home he sat in his potty and did a wee - cue the party atmosphere which I can conjure up for such occasions! On Saturday we were due to go see Matt's Uncle David, so we pretty much put the whole thing on hold since it was probably not in anyone's interest for us to force it upon someone else's carpets or conversation. For some reason I can't quite remember what happened on Sunday, but I do remember that on Monday morning Blake came to wake me up with an excited, "Mommy, come see! Come see what I've done!" I knew that it could go two ways, but I was over the moon when I saw he'd done a wee on his potty - I was most impressed that he had taken his pull-up off to do it...he was getting it! Ten minutes later, he poo'd his pants, but I'm trying to focus on the positives!

Today was also a morning wee in the potty (yay!), then a poo in the pants (boo!, but outwardly, it's ok); then an evening wee in the potty, then a poo in the pants. Suddenly it's not very much fun anymore, and I'm of course now wondering what it is that's going to make him decide it isn't really a good thing to go in your pants, as in a way whether he poos his pants or his nappy doesn't seem to make much difference to him. Either way I'm wiping his bum.

I guess for now I just have to accept that we make take two steps forward and then two steps back. And that I need to have the potty at the ready at all times!

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Potty training update, Day 2

Occasionally I speculate to myself about possible careers I could have had, if I'd been thinking more clearly during college. I sometimes say that if I could live my life over again, not that I'd want to, I would become an identifiable profession such as "doctor, lawyer, nurse, accountant", etc which would allow me to work anywhere. Apart from teacher (God bless my parents, don't know how they did it...). I would then not be tied down to a major hub of industry, able to ride a bike without fear of getting creamed by a truck or bus, or walk to work - through sunny meadows of flowers and buzzing bees, of course, and then eat lunch at home, made with home-grown produce from my garden, natch. And all my friends and family could explain what I do, as opposed to something vague in IT or finance.

After Thursday, I can now add a new list to the things that run through my head late at night, that of "Jobs I Never Want to Have". After my probably somewhere around 14-16 hours spent fully focused on The Training of the Potty, Day 2, here is what I concluded I could never be in life: a stalker, a spy, a hunter, a nature photographer where the subject only appears very infrequently and thus requires the photographer to camp out and wait for an appearance, which will usually be at 2:00 am and require the wearing of infrared glasses, an artist specializing in nude art, anything involving looking at "male parts" on a constant basis. I also have a theory that any children who think their mothers are nags are the ones who have some deep and strong memories of potty training.

We woke up on Thursday with the same amount of energy as on Wednesday, that being "little" for me and "lots" for Blake. I had done a bit of research on Wednesday night and decided that on Thursday I would adopt a more truly bare bottom approach, thinking that perhaps the feel of the fabric of the pants/undies was too similar to a nappy. So off it came, and then my day of being Blake's shadow began. I was unprepared for this question which came flying at me: "What's this wrinkly bit of my wee-wee?" and was proud of myself that I didn't go with my first answer, which would have been, "Ask your Daddy" (who wasn't due home for another 11 hours!). I finally managed to say "They're more of your boy parts," which seemed to be met with approval. Within about 5 minutes, Blake said he was cold and wanted his trousers on, so they went on over a pair of the pants (fair enough, I thought). Man, was the day tiring! It was so rare for me to be NOT right at his side, every now and then asking in my attempting-not-to-be-irritating-but-likely-failing-miserably voice, "Sweetie, do you need the potty?" Most often the answer was a groaning "NO, Mommy!" I also observed Blake doing some interesting hip swivelling/gyrations that reminded me of '80's exercise videos; although convinced that the faster the swivel the more likely it was that a bladder or bowel urge was imminent, nothing ever happened.

Sometime mid-morning, when I had very briefly let Blake out of my sight to do something for Noah, I came into the lounge to find him sitting on his little potty. I thought to myself, "Wow, this looks good!" He kept getting very excited and intimating that something was going to happen, so I just let him hang around and sat on the couch to look with sideways glances to see if there was any truth to this. After a while, he got up and decided he wanted to do something else; the potty was empty. I praised him for sitting and trying, and we went up to his room and played for a bit. After lunch came a breakthrough. We were back upstairs and Blake announced he was going into our room, and said that he needed me and Noah to stay outside. I am sure that hunter-like, my ears and eyebrows perked up; sensing that something was about to happen, I perched on the other side of the door with the potty ready. Quiet from the room. I burst in to find Blake standing, with a strange and contemplative look on his face. I had about 2 seconds before he started to say that something was happening and I swept the potty beneath him to make the catch. VICTORY! We then whooped and cheered and it was very exciting. Our elation was contagious: even Noah smiled and laughed. We phoned Matt and it was a very good moment, duly rewarded with a chocolate coin. I was feeling tired and also in need of a reward, so I had 2 chocolate digestives. We then went and watched Mickey Mouse's Christmas Special; I needed a break. By 4:30, I had a realization that despite the successful deposit of a #2, I had not seen any signs of any liquid the entire day - no accidents, hurrah!, but no anything, either, and he hadn't been in a pull-up at all for it to go unnoticed. I started to get worried that he was storing up his urine and that it was going to flood, toxically, into his blood or something. Surely he should have gone by now?! For some reason I also then started thinking about those poor people whom you read about who get stranded in a desert and have to drink their own urine...that just doesn't seem nice! I digress...

Finally, I discovered I had no reason to worry: Blake announced that he was cold and needed some trousers on, and went to put on the pair that were on the floor from the morning. That wasn't going to work, however, as he said, "Oh no, Mommy, these are too wet!" Aha! So he had had an accident, but it just didn't result in a puddle and he also didn't mention it. At least I could stop worrying about the toxic substances backing up in his system.

When Matt got home, Blake upped his game by actually sitting on the potty to do another #2; this was definite progress as he consciously decided to sit, instead of my just swooping in and getting lucky with a timely catch by the potty. More celebrations and chocolate coins. Unfortunately he didn't really get it all out and then poo'd himself about 15 minutes later. Greeeeat, but I was too tired, and also happy at the general good results of the day, to care too much.

What I did need, though, was some fresh air. We'd been inside for 2 straight days and I felt I had been Blake's shadow all day, so I popped out for a quick walk. Without meaning to sound too voyeuristic, I've loved this time of year in the neighborhood; it gets dark so early that people have to turn their lights on, which means in my recent afternoon/evening walks I've been able to look in on people's houses and see lots of nice Christmas decorations and some lovely interiors of some beautiful homes.

I do, however, just keep walking and never look too carefully; after all, I know that being a spy is definitely not a job I want. I'm going to stick to being, if not the Lyons' tamer, at least the Lyons' potty trainer. It is pretty rewarding after all, and most importantly, it can be done anywhere!

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The importance of rainbows, or when it rains, it pours

There are several ways in which I could give this post a theme, and I've decided it's got to revolve around a quote which I often remind myself of when things get a bit dicey: There can be no rainbow without a cloud and a storm.
I had told myself we were going to do potty training with Blake over Christmas; I think he's really of the age where he should be able to go to the toilet voluntarily, he has shown some interest in it over the past couple of months, and I thought that having the added support of Matt at home over the break would help make the whole thing easier. As is often the case when we contemplate overcoming a "milestone hurdle" during a vacation, we ended up being too lazy to do anything over the nearly 2-week Christmas break. On the one hand vacations are the ideal time to focus on things like getting rid of the pacifier, or potty training, or whatever the heck it is that will come next (that I haven't even thought of); on the other, it's meant to be a break and it seems like we give so much attention to parenting as it is, that it's nice not to have some extra stress to deal with. So, in the end, we didn't really tackle potty training with much gusto. I had started to use the method described in the book Toddler Taming, which is where you keep taking the child to the potty or toilet, where you read them a story or entertain them for a bit, all the while hoping that while they're sitting on the pot, something will happen - and then you can get really excited about it. The child will remember that praise, and you're on the road to success. I did try this a couple of times, but nothing was ever deposited in the toilet, and Blake was usually only ever slightly perched on it, so that if he even did attempt something, it probably would have not created a splash or a plop. He also got bored of the stories, so that seemed like it was going to take FOREVER. I did give him a chocolate coin when he cooperated with a visit, but he lost interest in these too.
When I dropped him off at nursery yesterday, I reported my mediocre attempts over the holidays, and they asked whether I wanted them to try there instead of at home. I felt I should be the one to kick it off, so I told them I would start today, with the approach often called the "bare bottom" one; essentially, take the nappy off and if they wet or soil themselves, they'll soon learn. This morning I woke up ready to start, and it was exciting. I had bought some Mickey Mouse "big boy pants" a couple of weeks ago, so I kitted B out in these and we were off. There was a lot of excitement in the air and I thought I would go hoarse from all the pumping up I was doing about how wonderful the toilet was, won't it be nice not to need a nappy changing, poor Noah, he'll still have to be in nappies because he's a baby, ad nauseum. Two hours in, and nothing had happened, so I thought, ooh, maybe this will be easy! Stupid woman! Haven't you learned anything in your nearly three years of being a mother?! Of course it's not going to be easy...!At some point soon after (why was I out of the room?! I'm not sure) I heard him say from the living room, "Mom, come look what's happened!!" I entered to find a small puddle on the floor and congratulated myself for having rolled up the rug earlier in the morning. I reacted without emotion - that's ok, let's get you cleaned up and mop up this wee wee, that sort of thing. He was instantly interested in another pair of pants, so we went to select those. Not too bad, I thought. He'll get it eventually. I did periodically ask if he needed to go, but after I had finished changing Noah and was washing my hands, I heard Blake say excitedly, "Mom, it's happened again!" This time, it was on the edge of our bedroom and the hallway, so I had to deal with some carpet clean-up. Ironically, I had the carpets cleaned yesterday, having scheduled it for what was supposed to be the "Post-Christmas-break/post-potty-training" clean! We'll eventually get rid of the carpet when we finally get around to re-doing our kitchen, but still...I thought, "Oh, it was so clean yesterday!" Still, nothing too serious.
Around midday I got my hopes up that everyone was going to be tired at roughly the same time, so that maybe we could all have a nap together. Blake intimated that he was sleepy so we all headed up to my bed; Noah isn't 100% healthy (he seemed to get a cold starting yesterday afternoon and had a fever last night, probably related to three teeth which are literally about to pop through his gums) and fell asleep right away, but Blake decided he wasn't in fact tired and started lining up all his toy cars on the side of the bed. I think I must have dozed off, but Noah then woke up after 20 minutes anyway, and that was the end of naptime!
I had put Blake in a "pull-up" diaper for the proposed naptime, and didn't change him out of it immediately. This turned out to be a mixed blessing, because he did in fact do his number 2 business while he had the pull-up on. Good on the one hand that it didn't require me to clean up the carpet, but not good in terms of the "training" aspect. I was back to changing a nappy!
It is always quite a long day at home with both boys if we don't go out, even longer when neither of them really has a decent nap. At around 3:00 I realised that we were desperate to get some groceries, so I was in the dining room finalizing the Ocado order when I heard from the living room, where Blake was watchin an episode of his new favorite show, Handy Manny: "Mom, it's on the sofa!" The huge wet patch on the couch was not from him spilling his cup of water, so off came the cover and in that went into the wash. More non-emotion from me and yet another change of pants. Very very shortly thereafter I hear an exasperated, "Oh no, not again!" and he's standing by a puddle near the tv. How have I missed all of these? I despair to myself, before heading off for more towels and yet another pair of pants.
At this point something interesting happened, which is that Blake then told me that he needed a poo, so we headed up to the toilet. He also told me that he needed privacy, so he left me and Noah in the hallway while he shut the door. I listened carefully, and thought - although now I wonder if it was hopeful imagination - that I heard a sound of something in the toilet. He excitedly said, "Mom, I did it!" and I went in to have a look. There are two options about what happened here, and one is that it was one of those "phantom sinkers" - i.e. you think you should see something, but there isn't anything that could confirm your actions just seconds before; the second is that he made it up, and I am ashamed to admit I think it may be the latter, based on his reaction and the fact that he was very very keen to have his chocolate coin right away. His usual time to do a number 2, if he's going to do a second one during the day, wouldn't be at that time, either; it would be after dinner. Anyway, I shelved my doubts and got really into the celebrations - clapping and whooping and of course going and dutifully getting the chocolate coin. Whether or not he actually did something in there...I'll probably never know!
I was making some dinner and asked Blake to let me know if Noah headed toward the stairs (we've installed a stair gate at the top but the layout of the banister at the bottom is proving tricky for a bottom gate). He reported with a shout that Noah was going up, and indeed Noah was a few steps up already. I told Blake I was so proud of him for letting me know and calling me in, and I could definitely see in his face that he was excited for this praise. Hilariously, the next thing Blake said was, "Mom, I'm so cute!" You little stinker! I had to smile though...
The final accident was again in the living room, making it five for the day. A huge puddle, which Blake tried to tackle with a broom (me shouting, "No, no, sweetie, not with a broom!"). To be honest, I was so sick of seeing him mincing around in his Mickey Mouse pants - the fifth pair of the day - that as soon as Matt walked through the door I had to get on to Google to see if I was actually doing this right. I think tomorrow I'm going to try the approach of no pants - truly bare bottom, as I do wonder if the fabric feels too much like a nappy for Blake to know the difference. Of course, as many people will tell you, and which I completely understand, the ideal time to do this is obviously not mid-winter, but rather spring or summer when he could be out running around naked in the back garden. And who knows, we may still take advantage of that opportunity if there isn't any progress!
I'll of course be crossing my fingers that tomorrow is better. I know better than to visibly lose my patience; after all he has had nearly three years of just letting it go, so it's bound to feel like a big change. I also need to work out this whole reward thing and see if I can improve that; right now he's not getting to the toilet to even earn the reward, so it feels a bit chicken and egg!
By 7:30 I was exhausted. It had been a pretty boring, yet demanding and challenging day, and I just wanted both of the boys to be asleep so that I could take a break from thinking about responding to all their needs related to bodily functions. To add insult to injury, though, I had just given Noah his bottle and had to pop downstairs to get his sleep sack. He coughed, and given that he's always been a bit of a pukey baby, and that he actually isn't well, he then threw up his entire bottle - plus what smelled like the strawberry yogurt he'd had for dessert - all over me as I was standing on the staircase. Matt kindly cleaned up the stairs while I went and changed Noah and me; I'd had enough of mopping up messes today.
I then went out for a bit of fresh air - my exercise for 2011 is going to have to be running, despite the fact that I don't really like running and that it probably won't be good for my dodgy knees. At the moment anything else - swimming, for instance - is too complicated to figure out in terms of logistics. I smelled like strawberry puke, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that there had been a light sprinkle at some point in the afternoon that I hadn't noticed as I was dealing with all the sprinkling in the house. I did 20 minutes of running and walking, and contemplated this post. I decided that I am going to have to hope and believe in the idea that there can be no rainbow without a cloud and a storm. I just hope we get to see that rainbow soon! In the meantime, before I forget, I have a third load of laundry to put on...

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Happy New Year!

Apologies that it has taken me four days to wish a Happy New Year to all our loyal readers...hopefully many of you will have only reconnected with the world wide web today, if you enjoyed a few days out of the office or if you boycotted anything with keyboards over the holiday season.
We did not exactly "ring in" the new year; rather we were sitting on the couch watching some made-for-the-event program on tv. At some time which felt like VERY LATE o'clock, the announcer made a big production of doing the countdown, and Matt and I looked at each other and said, "Happy New Year" like we were octogenarians greeting each other in the communal breakfast hall of our retirement village. Gone are the days of drunken choruses of Auld Lang Syne (I always vow to actually learn the words, but never do), frantic searches for someone to kiss amongst the overflowing glasses of champagne(preferably the person you went to the party with, or your husband; hopefully they're even one and the same), hangovers so bad that you spend the entirety of New Year's Day in bed (aaaah, actually that part sounds kind of nice!)...
We did have a nice evening, in fact; we got the boys to bed at somewhat decent hours and then we had a fancy ready-meal dinner from the local Cook shop. I couldn't eat all of mine because I had eaten what felt like an entire fishery of smoked salmon and creme fraiche blinis, something of a favorite for me at New Year. Matt has re-started his decluttering-the-house efforts; first thing to go was a "vintage" bottle of cava that had been sitting on top of the kitchen cupboards for at least a year. Even scarier is that this bottle had probably been sitting on top of the kitchen cupboard of our previous home for at least a year, if not 3. As I was drinking it I was thinking to myself, "This is such a recipe for disaster," reasons being: 1) We hardly ever really drink any more, so anything beyond a glass or two is bound to give me a hangover anyway 2) This particular bottle of cava is one that in the four or so years that it's been hanging around, is the one that I always overlook or ignore and either choose another one or actually go out and buy more instead of opening that one 3) I am pretty certain it was cheap to begin with 4) The lack of functional extractor fans in each of our last two kitchens means that the conditions for the stuff to go completely off were optimal 5) Something about the fact that consuming it was part of a decluttering exercise meant that we felt compelled to drink it all.
In fact, strangely, against the odds, it tasted fine, if not even good. We then went on to drink the actual bottle of decent champagne that I'd bought, and sharing a kid-free dinner felt "special", so all in all it was a nice evening. I remember that for Blake's first NYE, he was awake (and in no mood to sleep), and Noah in fact stirred at about 11:40 pm. He, however, was content to have a bit of milk and go back to sleep, so in that respect he was following the rules of NYE for one his age!

I hadn't realised until that night that we were indeed moving into a new decade, but with this additional weight of importance, we seem to have done resolutions - I think I'd given up on doing any for the past couple of years, knowing how I am and how soon into January I give up on most of them. Top of both of our lists is to lose weight, which should now be allowed given my limited breastfeeding (more on that in an imminent post), and my desire to re-enter the working world not looking totally the part of "mother of 2 who really let herself go". I need to work on my wardrobe, that's for sure, so I'm going to figure out a way to conquer my retail phobia. And then the usual things like be a better correspondent, be a better person, etc. I'd actually like to learn something new - maybe Photoshop or how to sew - but for now I'm going to concentrate on the weight thing and then see how much dedication I have to sticking to any resolutions! I did briefly toy with "going to bed earlier" being one of my goals, but it's now just gone half past twelve at night, and I've always been a night owl so I'm just not sure I can stick to that one. Maybe I'll just learn the lyrics to Auld Lang Syne and then be ready for next year. If we manage to stay up late enough...