Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pay Attention!

Like most parents, I often find my attention is required in ten different places at once. Aside from the direct parenting attention required, there are meals to get, housework to do, emails to check, errands to run, chauffering to and from activities...you get the idea.

Trevor is of the age that he can manage to keep himself fairly well-occupied with minimal guidance from me; in fact, he is beginning to prefer to "do his own thing" and only wants my attention occasionally through the day.

Gavin is pretty much happy as long as I've fed him and he has some toys to monkey around with, needing attention only when he's tired. Plus, I wear him a fair bit so he has contact with me throughout the day.

Amy, however, craves my attention. She can and sometimes does manage to keep herself busy...lately she has been all about writing: cards, books, notes to friends, both on the computer and with a pencil. I've also been making a real point of making sure I spend time with her each day engaging in books and writing with her. BUT. Maybe it's because I've been spending more time on this lately that we had a little blow out this weekend.

On Sunday, I had some Christmas cards that needed to be done up and sent out. I had purchased a box of 32 cards. Some were earmarked for teachers and coaches, some for my aunties, some for various other family and friends. Amy, who loves all things Christmas especially glittery, shiny cards, immediately wanted to do a whole bunch of them up for her friends at school. I said, "Sure, just let me do mine up first and you can have all the rest of them." She is wise beyond her years and knows that I might not actually get around to doing them even that same day (especially since I've been trying to get them done for a week but can't seem to get around to giving it the attention it deserves). She grumped down the stairs, upset that she didn't get to do her cards right that minute.

About 20 minutes later as I was having simultaneous conversations with my husband in real life and my dad on the phone, she stomped upstairs and presented me with a piece of paper with a drawing on it. I glanced at it without looking and tossed it down on the desktop. She glared at me for a minute and then grumped down the stairs again. After about 10 more minutes, she came up and and glared at me some more prompting me to ask,
"What's up, Buttercup?"
"Well, did you read it?"
"Huh? Oh this, right, let's look at it." I opened the paper to see a stick person with a very frowny face and a big X through the it, with the word Mommy under the drawing. Hmmm. No wonder she was so choked at me, I didn't even give her hate mail attention.
"Okaaaay...it seems like you're pretty mad at me, is this about the cards?"
She turned on her heel and stomped back down the stairs.

I thought to myself that I should just give her some cards, I could probably scrounge up some extras or just pick up some more the next time I was out. So I counted out one of each of the eight designs and took them downstairs to her. I handed them to her and said, "Here you go, I counted and I'll still have enough cards and that way you've got some, too."

She didn't say anything. I went back upstairs. She followed me up about three minutes later and handed the cards back to me without a word, then went back downstairs again.


I went downstairs where she was hiding behind a chair and asked her what was wrong and she started to cry. "I don't want you to not have enough cards!" "
"But I counted them," I told her, "it's ok, you can totally have them. I'm not mad at all." But that just made her cry harder. (I'm really looking forward to going through PMS with her someday.)

Then something occurred to me.
"Are you worried that I'm mad because of the picture you drew?"
She nodded.
"I'm not mad, you were just upset. But that's why you have to be careful about what you write and draw about people, it's hard to take it back. Come on, let's go do some cards together."

We sat down at the table to do some cards and I figured I could write a list for her to copy with her friends' names on it. We made the list and as she started the first card, I looked at the clock and realized that I had to get going and have a shower if we were all going to get to Trevor's hockey game on time. I started to say, "There you go, I'm just going to go have a shower..." when she stopped me and put her hand on my arm. She said, "I just want to spend some time with you."

Of course. That was what she had been trying to tell me all morning, I just wasn't listening.

I sat back down and we finished them up...and I wore a hat to hockey.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Sleep Update

Dear internet, I know you are dying for the latest update on the sleep saga...if not, keep reading and you can enjoy your own little bit of sleep zzzzzzzzzzzzzz. (btw, I know the soother is supposed to go in his MOUTH, not his eye).

We got Gavin to get himself to sleep in the evening on his own with minimal stress. He squawks for about a minute and then realizes he'd feel better if he'd just close his eyes so he rolls over and goes to sleep. Mission #1 accomplished.

The problem was that we had gotten in the habit of nursing and cuddling back to sleep through the night. This, from my baby who slept through the night at 7 weeks and rarely nursed at night suddenly seemed to need to cuddle and nurse for ridiculous amounts of time three or four times per night?! The problem was mostly my fault, as usual. You see, he shares a room with Trevor and I was reluctant to let Gavin squawk himself back to sleep and disturb Trevor's sleep. So I'd rush in, pick him up and go downstairs to try to settle him. After three weeks of this, I was done!

I knew I needed to give him the chance to figure out how to self-soothe through the night, so I set up the playpen in our basement and camped out downstairs with him for a couple of nights.

The first night he woke several times; the first time he was up for about 25 minutes crying pretty hard. I went to him a couple of times and put his soother in or talked softly, but I didn't pick him up. The rest of the night, he awoke three or four times, squawked once or twice and went back to sleep.

Then last night, he went to sleep at 7:00 pm. And he slept through until Trevor came downstairs and woke him up at 7:45 am. RIGHT THROUGH. I, on the other hand, was up several times to have a peek at him and make sure he was ok.

I feel like a rock star today. It's amazing how great it feels to have some sleep under my belt! If he does it again tonight, we're moving back upstairs.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity | Video on TED.com

Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity Video on TED.com

I found this so inspiring! It's worth the 20 minutes it takes to watch it, especially if you are working in education or have a child in school. It makes me reflect on my own teaching practice and my interactions with my kids about their school life; am I doing everything I can to encourage their creativity? Are they willing to be wrong about something?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I now remember how when your kids are not sleeping how all-consuming it is and how it feels like it will never end. You ramble on and on giving minute by minute accounts of how last night's bedtime went to the cashier at Safeway because it is your sole preoccupation in your sleep-deprived state. I have also been on the other end of those conversations in times in my life that my kids were sleeping and politely nodded while thinking to myself, "Jeez, get some perspective, it's only a little sleep and it can't last like this forever." And as I recall having thought that, I'd like to go back in time and punch my well-rested self in the nose. Because it really is that bad when you're not getting enough sleep!

Now I have these conversations with myself having been through, like, three whole weeks of sleep issues with Gavin. (I know there are many people who suffer through this for YEARS with babies/toddlers who don't sleep or let their parents sleep, so don't hate me.) At times these past weeks, I felt so angry, frustrated and sad that Gavin wouldn't just go to sleep already. Then my intellectual self would try to reason with me that this struggle wouldn't last forever, in fact it might only last a couple more nights. But my sleep-deprived emotional self just couldn't deal with it.

I tried the No-Cry Sleep Solution and for us, it just wasn't a good fit. I lack the patience required to gently re-shape sleep behaviour and was just becoming totally resentful and even more sleep deprived. So we did cry-it-out. With the boys sharing a room I just needed Gavin to figure out how to get himself to sleep and quickly. The first two nights were tough to listen to, about 20 minutes of full-on crying both nights. And ever since? A minute or two of squawking, and then peaceful sleep, for naps and night sleep! He is napping better which has in turn improved his night sleep; I've had to make a commitment to do what I can in terms of activities and scheduling to support his naps during the day...not easy with two other busy kids! Night waking was becoming an issue for us where it totally hadn't been before AT ALL. Since he's figured out how to get himself to sleep, he's better at getting himself back to sleep at night without me.

I have no judgment on parents and their sleeping arrangements; people have to do what works best for their family and parenting style. For us this is what worked.

If you're interested, here is what his sleep schedule seems to have settled into:

7:00 - wakes up
10:00 - naps
11:30 or 12:00- wakes up
2:30 - naps
3:30 or 4:00 - wakes up
7:00 - bedtime
11:00 ish, wakes up and I feed him one last time. And then I get to have some sleep!

** You might notice the time stamp on this entry...I'm up not because of Gavin, but poor Trevor who has been inflicted with Barf-o-Rama making the rounds at our house again. Gavin actually got himself back to sleep after that whole commotion at 4:00 am!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Christmas Recipes

Check this out if you still have Christmas baking to do...lots of easy recipes!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Easy Christmas Shopping...

Here is a hot Christmas shopping tip courtesy of my friend, Nadia...Lee Valley Tools offers shopping on their website. They have lots of good quality and unusual items for the home, garden and even some cool gift ideas for kids. You can order and pay online with your credit card and then arrange to pick it up in the store when it is convenient for you at no extra charge. No crowds, unique gifts...easy squeezy!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Ummm, he's sleeping...

We toughed it out again at bedtime, 20 minutes of crying and then he went to sleep. Hopefully the night goes ok...

Update on my last post

I'm an idiot, dear internet! I wanted to go in and snap a photo of Gavin sleeping for my last post. So I tiptoed in, camera in hand, and I didn't get more than a foot in the door when he woke up, spotted me and started screaming again. It only lasted for 5 minutes this time. Man, what a gigantic ass am I.
So, I'm sorry, no picture just yet. Our sleep is more important.

Sleep - I Want Some, Please!

All of a sudden, about two weeks ago, Gavin figured out that I still exist after I leave him to go to sleep (curse you, object permanence!). And ever since, my previously magical sleeper has been a demon about going to bed.

When Trevor was about this age (8 months), I did some form of modified cry-it-out to get him to go to sleep. What I remember about it was this: it took forever and involved me traipsing in at specified time intervals to "soothe" him without picking him up. But everytime I went in, he would get all upset again because I wasn't picking him up and cuddling him - again. It was like repeated rejection. Eventually, he did learn to get himself to sleep has been a pretty good sleeper ever since and seems not to be too scarred by the experience (though it was certainly unpleasant during the process for everyone living in our house).

As usual, I barely remember this phase with Amy. I think it's because we were in the middle of trying to "train" Trevor to stay in bed so we were parked outside their bedrooms playing cards on the floor; Amy could hear and see us out there so she just crashed around in her crib amusing herself until she got tired enough to go to sleep on her own. There was no conscious training involved, we were just in baby/toddler survival mode.

Fast forward six years to my sweet angel, Gavin. I was feeling like cry-it-out was rather unpalatable this time around. I bought a book called "The No-Cry Sleep Solution," by Elizabeth Pantley. I found the premise very appealing; you gradually shift your baby's sleep associations and behaviour through making gentle changes. I bought a notebook for making sleep logs so I could track his behaviour, and thought I had committed to this plan for the next 10 days.

I'm on Day 2 and ready to throw in the towel. See, he WAS a very good sleeper. It's like we're starting from scratch. And since the primary goal with this approach is no-cry, it seems like I am just reinforcing his fussy behaviour. Everytime it is time for a nap or to settle down from a night-waking, I go in and he just gets all riled up when he sees me. Each night this week it has taken progressively longer for him to get to sleep and when he enters light sleep he pops wide awake and wants me wants me wants me! Last night it was from 10:00 pm until 1:30 am!!

I also get the importance of naps in preventing overtiredness at bedtime and helping to ensure a good night's sleep. So I went to put him down for a nap this morning at 10:15, as he seemed to be getting tired. At this writing, it is 11:20. He woke up at 10:30 or so and has been crying ever since. I went in once to replace his soother and he just got more upset. I know he needs to sleep, and I am so fed up with this after three whole days of it (sorry, those of you who live this nightmare for 2 years or more), I am not going in there. I have a shitload of things to do around here, Amy's home sick today (again) and can only amuse herself for so long quietly. So I'm not going in, no-cry method be damned. I am just not patient enough for that.

Until I can't stand the crying anymore, that is....OMG! I think he finally went to sleep! Oh please, I hope I didn't just jinx it...fingers crossed for me!

Everyone approaches babies and sleeping differently; I welcome your thoughts/suggestions/comments. Unless they involve name-calling because I let him cry it out today, you're welcome to disagree but be nice, please. I just really need some sleep.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Upsetting Headline and Flying with Babies

This headline screaming "Breastfeeding Mom Smothers Baby" made me groan out loud. In this age where many (most) people only get their news through 10 second soundbites and sensational headlines on the internet, this is particularly upsetting as it insinuates that breastfeeding might be a dangerous activity.
Breastfeeding a baby on a plane is actually a great way to help keep him settled and equalize his ear pressure (especially on descent). Breastfeeding on a plane poses no greater risk than sitting on your living room couch. I suspect that this poor mother was either a) so tired she drifted off while holding the baby and perhaps shifted position, or b) was forced to cover up with a blanket not designed to be a nursing cover (as some airlines have asked nursing moms to do in the past). Either way, this is tragic to be sure, but breastfeeding should not be maligned as the culprit in this terrible accident.

Got me thinking, though, about my recent flights with Gavin and how airlines and Transport Canada handle infants on planes. On my flight to Toronto, I was travelling without my husband so I purchased a seat for Gavin thinking that a five hour flight is a long to have to hold a not-yet-sitting baby on my lap. Initially I thought I could just lie him down when the seat belt sign wasn't on, and pick him up in the "brace" position when it was...but, no, you actually have to drag your carseat onto the airplane and install it when you purchase a seat for an infant. Actually, this kind of makes sense, and ultimately seems safer to me in case of some sort of accident. BUT, then why can you have your infant/toddler under 2 years sit on your lap while travelling? Yeah, you save the airfare, but in case of an accident the whole holding-the-baby-in-the-brace-position seems about as effective as it would in a car. Maybe they figure that the plane would be going down in a flaming ball of death anyway, so it doesn't matter if they're in a carseat or not. But if that's the case, then why make you bring a carseat on board in the case of a purchased ticket? Hmmm...

So, when we flew to and from Palm Springs recently, it was a shorter flight and Dave was with me for trading off baby-holding duty so Gavin rode on my lap. On the way there, I found it quite tiring having to wrestle with him grabbing at stuff the whole time and thought that it would be much easier to wear him on the flight home in my Babyhawk. So on the flight home, he cozied up in the mei-tai style carrier, it was much easier getting to the gate, he drifted off nicely, and then....the flight attendant came by and told me I couldn't wear him! Apparently having something tied onto me like that could hamper my ability to exit the aircraft in case of an emergency. Buuuut, it's safer to have him flying loose around the cabin?! Or my arms all occupied with holding a baby while I'm trying to secure an oxygen mask?! I was pissed! I took him out, buggered up his nap and had to wrestle a cranky monkey (with a crankier mom) all the way back to Vancouver.

I get that airlines have guidelines they have to follow, but I just don't get the logic of the guidelines. Either you value safety and require everyone to purchase a seat for their infant with an approved car seat installed. Or you let people hold their children under 2 whatever way works best for them since safety in a crash is really not the priority anyway.

Am I dense, or missing something here?