Monday, October 29, 2012

For the sake of his teef

Last Monday, Noah, Blake and I headed down to our local dentist, for an appointment with a purpose. A long, long time ago - sometime around Christmas in 2010, I think - we made Noah give up his pacifier. All went well, if I remember, until we flew to North Carolina the following April. On the 9-hour flight, Noah seemed to cry a lot, and when you're in an enclosed space at 30,000 feet, you do what you can to preserve your and everyone else's sanity. So although we didn't have a pacifier for him, we did have his bottle. At first it had milk in it, but then he drank that and just seemed to get comfort from sucking on the empty bottle, and well, there was peace and quiet and that seemed like a good thing.

Fast forward 18 months, and it'd be difficult to say what Noah liked more - the milk in the bottle or simply the bottle, and having it when he asked for it. "Milk in my bottle" would be the morning wake-up order, and as soon as he came in from nursery he'd also ask, "Where's my bottle?" In situations like this, I often choose the path of least resistance, and so it was that we've now got a beautiful little boy with a pretty misshapen palate and a lovely little lisp that - even if not caused by his bottle - has definitely not been helped by it!

I decided that I am going to get my children's blame for a lot of things in life, no doubt, but that the sooner we tried to break him of the habit, the better it would be. I told Matt that I needed to hear it from the dentist, and so I booked an appointment for him and me. My friend Jenny wisely told me that it might not hurt for Noah to hear it from the dentist that he shouldn't have the bottle, and that was very good advice indeed. When we went for the appointment, I reiterated to Noah what the dentist had said: "No bottles." That night, when Matt came home, Noah told him the message: "The dentist thaid, 'No more bottles.'" Bless him.

That night pretty much sucked, let me tell you. Precisely because, there was no bottle-sucking happening as it usually did in the middle of the night when Noah would wake up and root around for the bottle that he'd fallen asleep with. We decided that because it was going to be hard, that he could sleep with us, and it took me back to scenes of screaming infants and earaches and teething. Noah arched his back and roared that he didn't want to go to bed, and that he wanted to go downstairs and watch tv (it was about 10:00pm by this point). I let him watch a show on my iPhone before finally getting him to nod off, to the tunes of my renditions of "The Wheels on the Bus", "Hush Little Baby", and for some reason (never tried this one before) "Unchained Melody". [probably wouldn't recommend that one for singing without any's very slow and at times I think I nearly started laughing at how awful I was]. At 2:00am Noah woke up, and within seconds starting screaming, "I want the iPad." Yes, that might top a list of the 10 things NEVER heard by a child in 1978. Now, I'm guessing there are others who get that as a request at various points throughout the day; 2:00am is not a good time to hear it, though. We somehow managed through the night, with the next day feeling like one of those where I imagined that the dark circles under my eyes were as big as oceans, although I could not help but feel pride when Noah reported to his nursery teachers that "the dentist thays 'no more bottles'." And he grinned as if he knew that really, he didn't need that bottle and hadn't needed it for the past year or so.

And since then, he has really been so good about not having it. I think on Tuesday night he may have slept with us again, but then we managed to get him to go to sleep in his bed after having his milk in a cow sippy cup (that was funny...he seemed to think initially that a cow says "meow"...but then corrected himself to report that it is "moo". At least if he does think that a cow says "meow", it won't be having a bottle for 2 years longer than he should have that will have caused that confusion!).

Like with so many things with children, it's just amazing how quickly they adapt. Hopefully I have not caused too much permanent damage by not having the guts to take away his bottle sooner. As for guts, I did wash the bottle carefully and put it high up in a kitchen cupboard. Not having a b-o-t-t-l-e in the house seemed too big a leap of faith.


Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A few pictures

From the "quiet room" at church on Sunday, to some fall scenes today...and an appearance by a mystery guest at dinner!

October 16, 2012

Autumn blues, and moving on!

I’ve been thinking for a few days now – ok, maybe a few weeks – that I really miss writing this blog.  There are so many things that happen which cause me to think, Oh, I must write about that…tonight! And then tonight comes and I’m just too darn tired to do it.  Of all the prevailing moods I have at the moment, "exhausted" is unfortunately the one that keeps rising above the others.  Although last week "grumpy" pipped "exhausted" to the title, now that I reflect on it.  I was in such a bad mood last week (“I ‘ad the ‘ump” as they might say in some British dialect…maybe Essex?) and it was only this week that I concluded what the reason was.  Since February 2008, I’ve lived the life of a part-timer.  A double-timer, of course, in that I have the job outside the home, as well as the pretty demanding job in the home.  But equally, since I went on leave with Blake, I technically have been working part-time at work, 4 days a week.   With Blake’s starting school, and my quest to have that thing which we all lust for but many of us probably don’t achieve (yes, I’m talking about “it all”), I requested to change my schedule at work.  Technically I added an hour and a half to my working week – which is really not much, considering how much time people put into their jobs and how much overtime and unpaid hours many people do – but in that mere 1.5 hours, the whole dynamic of my life changed.  And yes, I am being a drama queen (or at least, last week I was).  Whereas I used to have one full day in the middle of the week to do all those things that many people in full-time employment can’t do (i.e. not set an alarm in the morning, decide at 8:30am whether or not I would shower or not for the day, go to the grocery store anytime between 9:02 and 1:47 in the afternoon, or failing a trip to the grocery store, see if I could finagle a nap at around 2:30 or 3:00 in the afternoon) – all of these activities were now totally and categorically unavailable to me.  In my new schedule, I work two days at home from 9:30-2:30.  Sounds pretty nice, right?  And it’s still nice when I describe what happens on those days, which is that on Mondays I walk three 5-year-old’s to school and get to be part of the “school run”.  Nevermind that the pace we take to get there is about as far from a run as you could ever imagine, and that if one day any of them complains that their shoulders hurt I would not be surprised if it’s as a result of being dragged up the last little bit of the hill that leads to school by a generally kind but slightly militant lady who keeps repeating, “Keep coming, guys!”  I then rush home to log on to my laptop by 9:30, and then in some unfathomable twist of time and space, it is then all of a sudden 2:50pm and I really need to go back up the hill to retrieve Blake at the end of the school day (3:15).  We do something similar on Tuesdays – although for me it involves fewer children in the morning – and then on Wednesday the whole thing intensifies as I then also have to be in the office and therefore in ownership of a face with make up and at least the semblance of an iron having graced my clothes.  Not to mention that Noah is in the mix here and has to be at a place that is different to the school that is uphill.  But hey, it’s ALL GOOD!  We are part of an awesome rota with two neighborhood families and a woman who helps out in the afternoon, but many days it does feel as if you have to know first what the day is to know how Blake will get to school, how Noah will get to nursery, how I will get to or from work, and who is involved in achieving all of that. 

Last week, in all honesty I’ve concluded, I was in mourning.  Mourning is a pretty strong word, so if it's too strong - deep regret would probably suffice.  I was basically really really sad that with the change in my schedule, things hadn’t gotten easier.  Of course not…I had tried to tell myself that it would be better, and that it would be really nice to be involved in Blake’s school life – and that part is great, I guess – but really, last week I was just sad.  Sad that I no longer have a day off in the middle of the week to just switch off from the corporate world.  Sad that I have to – have chosen to – part company with Noah 5 days a week, something I never did with Blake until it was forced upon me through the school schedule.  Sad that I somehow let myself bet on my desire to be equally “present” in both aspects of my life – the home and the work outside the home – and, last week, the feeling I had was that I’d lost the bet. 
This week, I woke up with a renewed vow to try to be more positive.  I am lucky.  I have choices.  I have a great deal of autonomy in my role, and my employer hopefully knows that I’m valuable and that I make positive contributions.  My boys don’t seem to hate me, yet, so that’s a good sign.  Noah has been more positive when he goes into nursery and Blake is having a grand time at school, making new friends, learning all sorts of cool ways to remember how to write letters, and becoming generally a little bit more grown-up each day.  For the first time in about a month, it wasn’t raining on Monday morning when I had to play the shepherd mother and herd Blake and his friends to school.  There is a lot to be happy about.  I’m going to try to make the most of the little snippets of time that I have at home – whether it’s 5 minutes at the beginning of the day, the hour I have at lunch that I can enjoy not in the concrete landscape of the City of London, or the half an hour at the end of the day where I could probably get a thing or two done around the house before I go get Blake.  If last week was mourning, then this week is adjustment and acceptance.  Of course, life isn’t over.  Please, don’t get me wrong there.   But that phase I had in life where I had the luxury of a mid-week day off – the time I’ve had to spend with my “babies” – is.  Like so many stages of life with children, each milestone often comes equally with celebration and a touch of remorse.   And so it was that for me last week, remorse was the overriding feeling. 
As I said, the tone of this week has been so much better.  It’s amazing what a slight shake to your internal barometer can actually do – I kind of just had to tell myself on Sunday that I would be much better to just accept things as they are as opposed to wallow in misery – especially when it relates to something that the majority of the world just does without question (i.e. full-time work!). 
And so, maybe I’ll try to grab a 15-minute slot when I have it to try to write more.  I miss writing – I definitely find it important to my record-keeping and to my being able to capture what I’m feeling and what we’ve been doing.  But for now, I’m off to bed….it all starts again tomorrow!