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2 bricks and a Swaddle

Sam_bouncy_seat_3It seems like Sam has a new thing every day. Just when I commit to whatever seems to be his new sleeping program, it changes.

Whenever I happen upon something that seems to work, I get really attached to doing it exactly right the next night. And the next. No deviations. My standards are low. If something we do yields four hours in a row, it becomes our New Thing.

For a blissful little while we had a magic sleeping formula: 2 bricks and a Swaddle. It got Sam sleeping in his crib for 4-6 hours in a row. The bricks are under the head of his bed and the SwaddleMe is the miracle blanket that works for parents like me who can not for the life of them keep their babies swaddled using a blanket. I was so attached to this formula, I packed bricks with us to the hotel and when we spent the night at Dave and Sarah's.

And then overnight, he outgrew the SwaddleMe. I immediately ordered more but the day they came he decided he was over it and moved on to his next thing: flipping over on his belly in the swaddler. So for nearly a week we've been what I call regressing to the waking every two hours nonsense. And I am pretty much a train wreck. Until tonight. It's quarter to three in the morning and I got four hours in a row because he is sleeping peacefully on his belly with his little bottom sticking up.

I discovered his new thing during nap time today. He got quiet unusually fast so I went to check on him and found him flipped to his belly, up on his arms in a Cobra pose gazing at his Fishy mobile and grinning to himself and "talking" the fishies. A few minutes later I heard nothing. I went back to check and he was totally out. No fit, no fuss. And I loved him more.

Battle of the Wills: Sam - 1, Mommy - 0

I am supposed to be sleeping. I have the house all to myself with instructions to take a nap. Matt and Lucy are visiting friends, Sam is at his Fairy Godmother's house and I am supposed to be sleeping. We suspect that if I don't get some sleep soon I really am going to freak the hell out.

Sam and I had our first true battle of the wills. He so won.

You might think he is too young for this. Hey, I was as surprised as anyone to find him "stomping" his chubby little leg in his crib. It went something like this:

Me: He's rubbing his eyes. He hasn't napped for more than a few minutes at a time all day, surely he's tired. Luckily the bigger SwaddleMe came in the mail and I can probably get a nice long nap from him. {This thinking is, of course, my first mistake because I'm clearly setting up his behavior as something he does TO or FOR me and obviously this is not the case}.

Sam: Hard to say what he's thinking

Me: Read him the Hungry Caterpillar in English and again in Slovak, changed him, swaddled and fed him. Sweet, sweet dreams. I put him in his crib, completely asleep.


Me: Shh. Shhh. Shhh. Shh. Pat, pat, pat. Shh. Shh. Shh. pat, pat, pat.

Sam: Back to sleep

Me: Put him in his crib


Me: Better let him cry it out. He's changed, fed, burped and just exhausted.


Me: Okay, I'll wait five minutes. No, ten. I go to check on him in three. He's clearly alive so I let him keep crying. Five minutes later I hear this banging sound. What the hell is that noise? I find him with his leg out of the swaddle (the same one he's not supposed to be able to get out of - it says so on the package). His free little leg is kicking the crib. Hard. I decide to let him fuss it out.

Sam: No idea what he's thinking at this point but it sounds like: WAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. WAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. WAHHHHHHHHHHHHH. And then suddenly: silence.

Me: Hmmm. Better just make sure he's alive.

Sam: This'll teach her. He managed to flip himself over onto his belly and was asleep face down on the other side of the crib and facing the opposite direction. Wow. What a dilemma. He's asleep, finally. But then there's that whole SIDS thing with the sleeping on the belly business. Gently, gently I try to move him over. His eyes flip open and it's on again: WAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. WAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH. WAHHHHHHHHHHHHH.

Me: Oh hell, you win. I pluck him out of his crib and he's all smiles after I unwrap him and put him in his PlaySaucer deal - we listened to a baby signing CD and he loved it. Even though I am probably teaching him most of the wrong signs since I can't seem to remember them for the life of me. Maybe if he let me sleep ...


On the Eve of 28

Flipping through a journal from a few years ago I came by this birthday eve entry written at the Wayside in Rockaway Beach where we lived in 2004.

dawning of a new day - on the eve of 28. i thought by now i'd be married with a house and 2 kids. I was 18. In my early 20s I worried that may never happen. And now, on the eve of 28, I know that it all happens in its own good time- I attract the experiences i need to take me to new levels of awareness and dimensions of understanding. On the eve of 28 I know to trust myself and that I am greater than my mistakes, regrets and shortcomings because all have contributed to the whole I am today - a work in progress. I've learned you can fall in love with the place you hated by a shift in attitude and suspension of judgment. I've learned that angels wear flannel and drive old trucks - and some have a penchant for cheap, domestic beer. I've learned that at the end of the day it doesn't matter who did the dishes last and that mom was right, you sleep better knowing you'll wake up to a clean kitchen sink.

I've gone from trading cigarettes and magazines to recipes and cleaning tips but I've never doubted or forgotten the circle of girlfriends that pull me in from the edge on days I could just say to hell with it all - and who celebrate my tiny triumphs and daily dramas - whatever they may be. On the eve of 28 I've learned that it's true no one cares what my GPA was and I've learned that friendship is a commitment you have the right to chose carefully.

Flashback City

Pants on Fire - worked on chapters 1 and 13 (random I know)

I hate not being able to post pictures and write during the day but on the upside, we are getting closer to getting things fixed and figured out. Cross your fingers.

Each of the 18 chapters in Pants on Fire starts with an article by intern reporter Emma Ryan (one of the main characters). As I'm writing them I'm remembering things from my reporting days I'd completely forgotten about. The stories behind the stories. So I'm starting to take some notes on those flashbacks for a future book project.

Since it's the 21st and I'm nowhere near the end, it's safe to say finishing the book in February was way too ambitious. But now that Sam MIGHT be making a habit of sleeping through part of the night (don't want to jinx this) I might be able to get a better writing routine going. I'm running out of fingers to cross!

Life is Good

Pants on Fire: 454 words, Chapter Thirteen

I'm having some concentration issues, what with the new part-time job I have dealing with insurance companies, agents, doctors, replacing Sam's car seat, etc., all thanks to this one person deciding that wherever he had to be was more important than driving safely. So, I decided to start writing my car accident chapter using the very fresh images of the inside of the ambulance to make the details more engaging. Howerver, despite this unexpected field work, I will not be putting the guy who rear-ended me in my dedication.

On my 85th phone call of the day, I found out the guy who hit us might not actually have insurance. Sweet. So very sweet.

But you know what, I can hardly be upset about all that because a) I am HOME and b) my home is WARM. Like really cozy warm and c) most importantly we are alive and healthy.

But back to my warm home. Here's what this means to me: I no longer have to schlep to Lowe's, Wilco, Bi-Mart or whoever has pellets on sale on a twice-a-week basis, pack 40 pound bags of pellets into the truck and then into the house and then feed the stove all day, hoping it doesn't get clogged. Then, when it does get clogged, wait for it to shut all the way down and vacuum it out hoping that the ShopVac doesn't get clogged and then sweeping up the pellets that spilled in the process and then change my clothes because by now I'm covered in ash.

It means that tonight, when I gave Sam his bath, I just had to get his towel and washcloths. I didn't have to make sure it was warm enough out here, carry the portable heater into the bathroom giving it plenty of time to warm up before giving him his bath, sometimes missing my window of opportunity and putting a stinky boy to bed. He doesn't actually stink but only because he is so dang sweet.

It means that as I type this I hear Sam making little sleepy cooey noises while he sleeps IN HIS CRIB in his WARM room and I don't have to worry about the stove running out of pellets in the middle of the night leaving him to freeze in his swing. Ahh. Life is Good.

No Place Like Home

Well, the Universe is certainly offering me a lesson in patience and flexibility. I think we're on our last night of living like refugees. The county inspector came out on his day off to pass the electrical work this afternoon so now we're just waiting for the power company to come out and hook us back up.

It's been lights out at our house since Friday afternoon. Lights, heaters, hot water, you know, like camping. At home. Thankfully, George and Amy let us crash at their house. Me, Matt, the baby and the dog.

We figured we'd break up the imposition and stayed at a hotel Saturday night. A nasty, nasty hotel in a smoking room where we listened to people having sex. And I've had better showers at campgrounds.

With the house torn apart, the power out and my computer broken, the feeling of being displaced got to me on Saturday and I decided to take Baby Chi Chi to Target for a little retail therapy. And to buy a label maker. A label maker, I think, is the next step in my master plan of organizing everything.

We were almost home when we got in a car accident. Hit from the back by someone going 55 miles an hour. Baby Chi Chi slept through the whole thing! I ended up in a neck brace on a stretcher and Sam had his first (and hopefully last) ride in an ambulance. He seemed to like the pretty lights. We're both fine. I have a slightly sprained ankle and wrist and essentially feel like, well, like I got hit by a car.

Luckily, I did get the label maker so I can create a new file for the accident paperwork.

Valentine's Past and why I think this "holiday" sucks

"Can you move your car?"

Niki and I looked up from her couch to see my boyfriend/her roommate standing in the doorway. Huh?

"Can you move your car?" He repeated without really making eye contact.

"Uh, sure. What's up?" I asked, addressing his strange behavior, since he did, after all, have the spare key to my car on his ring. And suddenly it was clear. He was breaking up with me. What a jackass. But, in his defense, it was probably hard dating someone who was in love with another guy.

Still. He knew where I was at going into the relationship. Also, it was the day before Valentine's day. Really, what a jackass. So Niki and I decided to get out of town on Valentine's day and drove to my hometown. My parents were out of town and I forgot to call the lady who took care of the dog while they were gone to let her know we were there. I made things worse by saying to her, "Oh, Nik and I will be here all weekend so we can take care of the dog (also named Niki). Unfortunately she assumed Nik was a Nick and I've met few who could rival her Neighborhood Gossip status.

Another Valentine's day story that stands out is when another friend of mine got a card from her newish boyfriend. He simply wrote, "Hey!" and his name. Bellingham, it seems, had no shortage of Jackasses.

Not all of my dating days Valentine's were a disaster. My favorite one pre-Matt was when my "we're not really boyfriend and girlfriend but what the hell else do I call it" and I went to Canada with, ironically, Nik's ex-boyfriend and his sister. I remember it being a pretty awesome night, though it's funny what details actually stand out and which ones blend into other memories. 

Oh! And then there's the new perspective I got on this stupid "holiday" while working at the grade school.

My issue with Valentine's day is that it does more harm than good. It sets people up for failure, and causes more heartaches than heart throbs. Though, the coupons for heart-shaped pizzas are nice.

And frankly, if there really was a naked little cupid buzzing around here, he wouldn't let Valentine's day be a weeknight because there is nothing romantic about stressing out to try to do something special for the sake of doing something special. On a Thursday. Luckily for us, Thursdays are traditionally "Together Thursdays" at our house, because, see, we love each other 365 days a year so we don't need this one day to prove it. So I don't need flowers that'll die by Tuesday, or a fancy cell phone or for God's sake jewelry. If you can arrange for me to get a full night's sleep, I'll be your valentine. Otherwise, I'm looking for romantic gestures more often than once a year.

Tonight's sleep is dedicated to the Fabulous Dr. K

Not sure if it's the shots, the bricks under his crib or the SwaddleMe blanket, but Baby Chi Chi has logged more hours in his crib tonight than he has since he was 10 days old. The house is strangely silent without the click, click, clunk of the swing going all night.

So what gives with the bricks? Well, the fabulous Dr. K suggested we try something different to achieve a different result after he tried to convince me that I was lucky to have four hours of sleep in a row and I said "Oh, hell no. Why should I not get any sleep when it seems to be that just about every other baby I hear about has been sleeping through the night since damn near day one." Well, first of all, he agreed with me that some of these parents of perfectly peaceful babies are liars. I am paraphrasing a little. Then, he asked what I've done differently to try to get him to sleep better. Hmm. Not much. I suppose I was waiting for the Sleep Through the Night Fairy to come visit our house since she seems to have missed it in her canvassing of the state of Oregon.

He said that it was still okay for him to be sleeping in the swing but if I was frustrated with that and concerned that he would, in fact, be moving into his dorm room with a papasan swing, I could try to ease him into his crib by putting some bricks under the legs to create a slight incline to help with the reflux issue. Matt got right on that when we got home. Then, I wrapped that little guy in a SwaddleMe like I saw Mel do the other night and he's only woken up a couple of times in the last four hours and hopefully is down now for the night. Fingers are crossed. Well, they will be when I'm finished typing this.

Also he had some great answers to my questions. My favorite one was when I asked about the whole crib bumper debate. He said there wasn't much of a debate in his mind, it's dangerous and unnecessary so take it out.

Me: Oh. Okay. But what about his little head?

Dr. K: Blank look.

Me: Well, he is super scooty right now and he scoots his way to the top edge of the crib.

Dr. K: All the more reason to get rid of the decorative bumper.

Me: But what about his little head hitting the hard bars on the crib?

Dr. K: Oh, that'll only happen a couple times. This is the part of his life where he learns about cause and effect.

I love that he's not an alarmist but he tells me what he thinks, straight up, and backs it up with research, all without being patronizing. And I really love that his advice works! So, on that note, I should probably get to bed before just in case he decides to play 2 o'clock, 3 o'clock, 4 o'clock rock. Again.

Adventures in Teething

Wild_animal_sam Teething_sad_sam Teeting_ring_sam Happy_orajel_sam Happy_orajel_sam_2

So that's an affirmative on the teething thing. I swore I was going to be the prepared, organized mom but that would require planning ahead, and well, I didn't anticipate he would start teething this early so I was the mom driving around this little town looking for Orajel (or anything) to soothe little Gritchy McGritchington. I came home with relief in an expensive little cherry flavored tube and this story to report to Matt:

Me: So the lady at X. asked if she could help me find something. When I told her my baby was teething and seemed to be hurting a lot she said - "Well, I probably shouldn't tell you this but we used to just use a little whiskey."

Matt: I was just thinking I could use a little whiskey.

Me: No, I mean she suggested it for the baby. For his gums.

We had a little laugh and I started to read the directions.

Me: Oh, well maybe we should just try the whiskey because this says I can't give him the Orajel before 4 months of age.

Matt: He's 4 months old in a week. And he has to be 21 for the whiskey.

Patience for the Patient's Mom

Pants on Fire: 799 words, Chapter One

Sam goes in for his 4 month appointment (and shots) tomorrow. How can he possibly already be four months old?! His doctor must see us on the schedule and feel a mixture of joy and dread. Joy because he gets to see one of the raddest little dudes and dread because the aforementioned Raddest Little Dude has a mom with questions. A long list of them.

A few of them:

Do babies play possum?

So, uh, is it okay for him to watch television? Pathetic I know. But when the tv is on, he really seems to be watching it and I need to know if that's okay.

What is the deal with the crib bumpers? Do I need to take his out? And why. Google offers me a clusterfu*k of information on this and no consensus.

I hear babies are ready for solid foods at 4 to 6 months. So is it 4? Or 6? And how the hell do I know?

Do I really need to boil all of his water? Seriously? I suppose I could do that during commercials from all the television he's watching.

I'm sure the doc has a pretty good idea of the type of person he's dealing with. I assured him on our first visit that in exchange for his patient and thoughtful answers to my questions I promise not to have him paged at home with things I can Google. He said to go ahead and call.