Once upon a time…

Jan Berenstain passed away this week. So sad. I just loved, loved, loved The Berenstain Bears as a kid. I remember being a little munchkin, laying in bed next to my mother right before bedtime every night and reading bedtime stories. I loved that time. It was special and cherished. And after reading, we’d always recap how my day was, I’d get to ask questions, we’d say prayers, whatever. It was very fluid. I think I loved that the most, that it was however I wanted it to be. It was our time.

So when I was pregnant, I remember vividly wanting to recreate that. Right before Nugget was born, The Man and I bought and were gifted many children’s books. Some I’d never heard of before, others were classics and some newly published. And so during the early months, bedtime consisted of me nursing Nugget while The Man and I read to her. Even though I knew she couldn’t understand us and always fell asleep during our ritual, it was still our special time. We went through several of the Paddington Bear tales, Goodnight Moon and Where The Wild Things Are, just to name a few. Then one night I pulled out Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree. I’d never read it before (I know, I know…for shame!). I’ve heard people just rave about it, talk about it like it was a family member, discuss its impact on their entire childhood and how it practically shaped them into who they are as adults. So, yes, I was a little ashamed that I’d never read it before (or at least I don’t remember it, but I’d think if it was that profound I’d actually have a glimmer of a memory about it) and finally drew up the courage to 1) tell The Man I’d never read it, 2) actually read it, and 3) read it to Nugget before she was 31. So, pulling it off the shelf, I looked forward to my grand transformation. I wondered how it would inspire me as an adult. Well, our handy dandy copy came with a CD of Shel Silverstein reading the book. Awesome! What better way to read a classic than with the author himself reading it the way he envisioned?

Well, have you read this book? Have you?! If you haven’t, let me clue you in to the horrifying realization that you are going to read one of the most depressing and frustrating tales of all time. Christ, no wonder you people were so “inspired” by it. So I’m sitting there nursing this 3 month old as The Man turns the pages to the book, listening to Shel Silverstein’s raspy voice spin a tale about the most selfish, self absorbed bastard who just takes and takes and takes from this poor tree who gives its life to this little boy turned man over and over and over again until he essentially becomes a piece of furniture. What horror! God, I cried…uncontrollably. I tried to hold it in, but just couldn’t and actually uttered, “Why did he do that?!” to The Man, hoping he’d have an answer. Surely he must’ve come to terms with this children’s tale since he’s had a couple of decades to process its message. I was just so angry…at the main character, at my dashed hopes for the book, at the emotions that were drawn up instead. Ugh, I wished I could reach into the pages and strangle that skinny jerk – the man, not the tree. I’m getting angry just writing about this.

So now I can say I’ve read The Giving Tree. I’ve read it to my lovely daughter as she drank herself into a milk coma. And I will probably read it again to her one day when she’s older, but I can safely say it won’t be anytime soon. Yeah, it’s a classic, but I wasn’t prepared to have Shel Silverstein himself tear my heart apart, throw it to the ground and ground it into dust. So, it’ll have to be another day when I subject Nugget to Silverstein’s lilting voice as it dances over the words that shape one’s moral compass. Another day…

Sleep. It rules…

Sleep. It rules my little world. If there is one thing that has surprised me the most about my journey in parenting, it’s the amount of time I dedicate to thinking and reading about it. I analyze Nugget’s sleep patterns, how they’ve changed, when they changed, whether I did something to affect them and how to improve them overall. I’ve bought books, emailed authors, called doctors and struck up conversation with random mothers in random places. I became a sleep nazi and had to host an intervention on myself. Once I relaxed a little bit about Nugget’s sleep, I felt a little less out of control. 

BUT, then we went away on that trip and her sleep went to hell. That desperate, anxious sleep nazi crept right back up. Then Nugget developed an intense, fiery red diaper rash (mmm, shall I post a picture?!) that obviously caused serious pain. THEN all the kids at daycare developed some horrible, snotty cold, making bad things worse. It’s really a wonder I even know what the date is because every night runs into every day right now and I’m just lucky we have digital clocks that help me tell time. 

So what is the point of all this bitching? I don’t know. It’s the only thing on my mind right now. ^^^Like I said, right? I need someone to commiserate with me without telling me their kid turned it around in 3 days because we’re going on a couple of weeks now. I get it; parents share success stories to illustrate that things do get better. They share snippets of what they did to improve their situation that make you feel hopeful. Unfortunately (well, for me anyway), I’ve usually tried all of those methods. Those stories often make me question whether I’m reinforcing negative behaviors or whether I’m not consistent enough with our routines. Not fun, though I’m sure everyone goes through it. 

It’s just too difficult not to take Nugget’s poor sleep personally. After all, I’m the one who taught her all of those bad sleep habits that we now have to undo…though I stand by my opinion that nursing to sleep and bedsharing are not bad habits in themselves. The bad habits I talk about have to do with my quick, and consistent, response to her cries at night. Almost everyone I’ve spoken with and every book I’ve read has pointed out that had I let Nugget fuss longer, she probably would have slept better in the long run. I would have given her the opportunity to figure things out on her own. 

Alas, here we are instead…essentially sleep training for the 4th, 5th time? I don’t even know. And by sleep training, it’s come down to letting her cry it out till she gets to sleep. And it’s about now people judge us for making this choice (like I did, admittedly). Going to her to soothe her or calm her down only makes things worse. Been there, done that. Sometimes, we still do it just to see. It doesn’t change, by the way. 

Meh. Well, what’s that saying people throw about expecting to help? “This, too, shall pass?” Yeah, well, let’s get the f***ing ball rolling already. Apparently, this thing we’re dealing with rolls like molasses.

Pack it anyway.

Did you know traveling with a toddler isn’t nearly as harrowing as one may believe? That’s what many articles and blog posts say. I know. I read nearly all of them before embarking on a little holiday vacay with The Man and Nugget. Did you also know that it’s not as bad simply because you’ve usually resigned yourself to the fact that your kid will scream on a plane for 12 hours and anything less is awesome? It’s all relative really. 

Frankly, traveling with a toddler is daunting. Your patience is tested. Your organizational skills are tested. Your relationships are tested – both between you and your kid and you and all of mankind. I mean, for a weeklong trip I’ve found I still pack the largest piece of luggage we own if only because diapers take up a lot of freaking space. Beyond that, I pack what we need and what I would need if I possibly lose, soil, break, rip, or get something confiscated. You think you’re done until you realize you have to pack things like medicine in case your kid develops a fever, nose drops for congestion, diaper cream for…yeah, super diaper cream for even worse, ear drops for cabin pressure, DVDs that’ll keep your kid quiet, books to do the same, new toys to introduce etc. etc. etc. By this point, you’ve pretty much loaded up your husband like a pack mule. Ugh. Daunting and heavy, really. 

But once you get to where you’re going, relief sets in and vacay begins. Unless you have jet lag to deal with. And I’m not talking about some chintzy 3 hour difference many moms express concern about. I’m talking having your days and nights completely reversed. Completely. Reversed. Ok, well honestly, we went with the flow on this one and it wasn’t too bad. Except the one day when sleep felt like an idea someone came up with. That was rough. Really rough. I sympathize with anyone who’s dealt with it or will deal with it soon. The funny part (we’ll just call it that) is that Nugget finally adjusted to the time difference about 7 days in of a 10 day trip. Just in time for us to do it again! 

All right, all right. I’m not trying to be all Debbie Downer here. Many families travel and struggle with all of these issues. I’m not the first and certainly won’t be the last mom to stress over and talk about traveling kids. The important thing is to enjoy vacation and let things flow. But let’s be realistic here. If you don’t plan ahead and pack well…well, good luck with that. I just hope I’m not the person next to you as your kid entertains himself by climbing over the chairs and pretending to have a gun shoot out with your face. Wait. That did happen to me. Damn you, kid karma.Image

Ah, long weekends

There are days, and they sometimes run in a row, when I actually feel like I have it together. Like, together together. Dishes done, floors mopped, toys picked up, dinner planned together. The type of together that makes me feel all light and airy, like all of those responsibilities and burdens no longer live on my shoulders. Then 2 days go by and it seems to go to hell again just to circle back around the next week.

God, and don’t get me started when you throw a holiday into the mix. Thanksgiving, albeit wonderful, also served to remind me that a few hours worth of cleaning doesn’t last a week when 6 raucous adults and 1 toddler get together for a beige dinner. (Seriously, most of Thanksgiving dinner is beige. It’s weird.) Not only that, but the hours of stress to pre-plan, plan, organize, purchase, pre-cook, cook, make last minute purchases for one meal aren’t exactly prime reason to continue doing it year after year. And all to hang out with people we wouldn’t be able to stand after 4 drinks and 4 hours. And I mean that fairly. I know I rub people the wrong way too.

But all in all, long weekends are awesome. They will separate the uber-organized from the chaotic schmucks though. Schmuck here. How do you do? I just can’t feign having energy at the end of the day, let alone a long holiday weekend. Taking the time to pack my gym bag, make sure I’m ready for work, pack Nugget’s daycare bag and ensure nothing’s missing just isn’t my strong suit when all I want to do is sit on the couch and watch bad TV. Although I was proud of myself last night when I did take the time to do all of that, even spending an extra 20 minutes searching for an Ipod that wasn’t exactly missing. (Yeah, it was on the coffee table.) But, whatever. We call those hiccups, right? So just when I think I’m being the responsible/superhero/do-it-all mom I read about, I get to the gym to find I have no pants.

Sick, sick, sick

I went to bed last night feeling a little under the weather. Not an hour later, I was paying homage to the porcelain throne. And I did that every two hours until about 4AM. Now, I bring this up for 2 reasons: 1) I have much more respect for anyone who goes through this as a single parent, and 2) do you know how difficult it is to be sick in silence so as not to wake a sleeping baby? It’s really hard! Anyway, The Man was right there helping me through it all and stepped right in when it really counted. I could barely lift my head without getting extremely dizzy, I couldn’t imagine dressing, feeding, and driving a child to daycare in that condition alone. And I actually thought for a split second, “Thank god I’m not a single mom.” It’s like the ultimate Broadway play…trying to act like you have it all together when, in reality, you’re suppressing every urge to hurl.

So after the two most important people in my life left to start their days, I crawled back into bed and actually slept until noon. I haven’t done that in ever. Yeah, ever. Not even in college, after those long, long nights of…studying. You know how those go. Anyway, so noon comes and I haul my butt into the living room to get productive and lay on the couch to watch TV. I think I’ve caught up on the worst segments of television to air on daytime TV now. I’m ready to get back to work. There are only so many episodes of “Friendzone” a person can take and I refused to watch any show featuring a Kardashian. I did catch one episode of “Intervention”, all the while hoping it wouldn’t be too graphic as to send me flying into the bathroom again. It didn’t, though I didn’t even make it to the end, and that was around 2PM. Productive, right? Up at noon, nap at 2?

As the fuzziness in my head slowly wears off, I’m at least happy that I was able to cuddle with Nugget for a little bit before we put her to bed. And maybe she sensed I wasn’t feeling well because she very much wanted to cuddle with me too. So that was a nice sendoff for tonight. I’m just praying she doesn’t contract whatever virus it is I have because we have a Thanksgiving meal to host this year and I’d very much like the family to be totally healthy.

Ok, so I’ve admitted that parenting has been an adventure with lots of turns and speedbumps and pitstops. I expected highs and lows, but what I didn’t expect was how fun it would be to watch this little human being discover and develop her own personality. And describing Nugget’s quirks just aren’t as fun as when I was finally able to snap a moment in time…

You can't tell me I ain't got no personality.

 
Look at this. I love it. The picture itself tells a great story. Here’s a kid who wasn’t ever going to sit still for a photo op, up from a good night’s rest she was ready to play. And so there she is, hair askew, uncentered and sticking out her tongue. I’d be the happiest mom in the world if I could just bottle up that wave of energy and take it with me everywhere.

This thing called Life is so cool!

So much has happened in the last month! We flew home (my home) to San Diego to visit family, spent an incredible week there just hanging out, Nugget figured out WALKING!, and now our days are defined by toddlerisms. And what I mean by “toddlerisms” are:

NO!” and

WAAAAAHHHHH!

I’m sure you know them both well, even if you don’t have children, because they’re fun to deal with when you’re the childless one, but they’re super fun to handle when it’s in your direction everyone is glaring. And as I’ve listened to some of my friends lament about the screaming kid in the next booth, I just want to say this: I’ve never, ever, ever gone out with Nugget and thought, “If she starts having a fit, I’ll just ignore her since I have no regard for other people.” And before you go on about how some people can be, I’d be willing to wager that more than 95% of the parents I’ve come across are probably not out to make your life more miserable than theirs at the present moment. So, seriously, give them a tiny break because little kiddos really have no other way of expressing their pain/sorrow/frustration/exhaustion than through a bit of ill-timed crying.

But, OK, being a toddler isn’t all about screaming and tears. There have been a ton of awesome moments…like the high fives. Oh, the high fives. Nugget just loves nothing more than a good high five. And if one person gets one, everyone gets one. (She likes to share.) And I will guarantee you this – there is nothing more awesome in this world than feeling totally included in a toddler’s game, and nothing more devastating than being excluded. There’s this scathing honesty about what children express and if there’s something “off” about a person that warrants fear or crying or a weird look, trust me, you’ll be hurt.

More than that, a Nugget’s curiosity also sprouted legs as her scope of play now extends both horizontally and vertically. She’s learned shelves are fun, baskets are fun, cabinets are crazy awesome and the bathroom is a-MAZE-ing!

Yesterday, while The Man was out running errands, I was left in charge. And what does one do when charged with watching a kiddo? You get on the internet for a few moments of peace and quiet email, Facebook, and Babycenter. Well, everything seemed seamless. Nugget was being her usual mild mannered self and life was still for 10 minutes.

About 8 minutes too long.

As you can see here, she likes toilet paper. Don’t we all, though? I mean, a whole episode of Seinfeld was dedicated to it. So I can’t really blame her. And if you look in the background at the toilet, you’ll see it’s childproofed. We learned early on that water play in the toilet is, uh, gross and can only lead to bad, bad things.

Ah, to feel completely astounded by the world again…that would be cool.

Be a good Asian…

So, Nugget was invited to a friend’s 1st birthday party (theme: bubbles) and we knew there would be a water play table and the kiddos would get wet. The last time we went anywhere near a pool or beach was last summer when she was just a couple months old. That swimsuit is now too small, of course, which meant I had to find something else. Off to Old Navy and, well, I just could not resist…

 

 

<———– See the character on her chest? Yes, that’s right people, it’s Hello Kitty, the expression free and timeless Japanese sensation. I’ve officially inducted Nugget into the tribe.

 

 

 

 

<——————– And here is a closer look. Do you see how Hello Kitty has scuba gear on? She must be giving her blessing for all healthy and fun water sports.

 

All in all, it was a great party! Nothing like playing in water to tire a 1 year old out!

Serenity now! Serenity now!

Well, all’s well with Nugget. Isn’t that great?  I was really hoping for a clear cut reason to the recent madness in our household. But noooo, Baby has to keep mommy and daddy guessing. Sitting in the exam room, her wonderful doctor took a look in both ears and exclaimed, “Well, it’s definitely not an ear infection. Not even a chance!” All I could muster was a semi-enthused, “Oh, that’s…good to hear.” He even took a second look to make sure. (Sigh).

Really? Really?! My anxiety is through the roof because I can’t predict what bedtime or naptime or nighttime will be like. I’m practically staring at the ceiling at night just waiting…tick, tick, tick…for that familiar cry since she’s no longer sleeping soundly through the night. The Man’s trying his best to be supportive and helpful and soothing and all that. But I really think this is just one of those Nugget-Mom things, where I feel this desperation for her to be well and settled back into a decent routine.

So, it’s come down to this: making a list. Let’s play detective, shall we?

1. We know she’s at an appropriate age to transition to 1 nap. According to what I’ve read (all over the internet, of course) is that the average age babies do this is between 12-24 months. You like that? That’s like the lazy scientist method or something. Ridiculous.

2. She was getting an average of 11-12 hours of uninterrupted sleep at night. That’s apparently a cornerstone of nap consolidation.

And

3. She’s been basically refusing her 2nd nap of the day.

To say I’m obsessed about my child’s sleep habits is fair. Especially now. So, instead of fighting her on 2 naps tomorrow I’m going to try moving her into a 1 nap a day routine (like she has at daycare). Hopefully, that’ll be the ticket to happiness here.

In other news, I’ve decided I’m quite happy with one child for now. Any talk of trying for a second is tabled.