Monthly Archives: January 2012

but the bright spots are pretty glorious

Lest you think we sit around with the shades pulled listening to early Smiths albums and reading Sylvia Plath all the time, I’d like to share with you something that brings us joy on a regular basis.

It should come as no surprise that our son loves to read. We read to him daily, and we often have multiple story times each day. We have dinner time stories and bedtime stories, as well as impromptu story-readings throughout the day. We are a book-loving family, and J and I both adore reading to our son. After BG’s bath at night, we all gather on the sofa and read a pile of books. It’s usually just two, but it can be up to four or five depending on how persuasive BG is (or how cooperative he has been with his nighttime routine). We have our favorites, most of which have a nighttime theme, but we also introduce new ones from time to time. For Christmas, BG’s grandma gave him some lovely new books that we all enjoy.* These have become welcome additions to our bedtime repertoire; in fact two of them are must-reads nearly every night.

A few nights ago, BG asked J to sit in front of the fire with him and read. I was taking too long to come join them, so he wanted to get started without me. My wife obliged. BG grabbed a book, opened it, and proceeded to read the title page (for some reason in this particular book, he likes us to read the title, author, and illustrator). Then he opened the next page, and he “read” the entire next page (essentially two stanzas of four lines each). He turned the page and kept “reading.” He was spot on with what he was reading, despite the fact that there were plenty of words he hadn’t heard anywhere but this book. Eventually, he got a little shy and asked J to finish reading, but we were faily impressed with his memorization. Then last night, he did this again. We had two books remaining to be read, so he grabbed the book he had read to J a few nights prior and began to read it to us. He needed prompting a couple of times on later pages, but he “read” all twenty-four pages of the book to us. We then moved on to the next book in his lap. This is a much more complicated book. It’s prose; it contains dialog; much of the prose is descriptive and, well, long–we’re talking a good sized paragraph on each page.

I started to read this one, and BG picked up a few words in. And he kept going! We would turn a page, offer a couple of words as a prompt, and he would keep going. He has the entire 32-page book memorized. My wife and I just encouraged him along, mouthing “Wow!” behind his back with each new page. We were totally awed.

This isn’t the first time BG has memorized books. Even six to eight months ago, he was finishing the last word or two of most pages in If You Give a Moose a Muffin and later in Hop on Pop, but he had never memorized and repeated whole pages, let alone whole books.

I know this is just something kids do, that they have these amazing memories, and they benefit greatly from repetition, but that doesn’t make this any less magical to me–this moment of having my child so engaged in what we read him that he commits it to memory, that he repeats it back with precision and care and pride. What a wonderful thing to see him feel so accomplished. Honestly, I don’t know that this says anything about what kind of reader or student or person he’ll be, but I hope it means he’ll enjoy reading, that he will continue to get so excited about his books that he wants to share them with us in return, that he will keep finding this family reading time as precious as J and I do.

 

*If you’re looking for some great nighttime books, these are just a few of our current favorites for bedtime:

  • Lights Out, Night’s Out by William Boniface (and beautifully illustrated by Milena Kirkova)–this is also one of those cool “animotion” books and also the first of the books mentioned above
  • Leo the Lightening Bug by Eric Drachman (illustrated by James Muscarello)–the second book mentioned above
  • So Sleepy Story by Uri Shulevitz
  • The Lonely Firefly by Eric Carle
  • Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathman
  • In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

 

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and again

After not even two weeks of wellness, our son came down with the sniffles last night and woke up with a full-blown head cold this morning. He had told us yesterday he was “having a rough time” and wanted a breathing treatment. It turns out he was indeed having a rough time, for his poor little nose is stuffy as can be. He is presently snoring next to me after waking up four times after his initial bedtime tonight. Of course, the cold itself needn’t be so bad. He’s been up and playing and generally feeling okay for most of the day. Once in awhile, he has come to one of us to say, “Too much boogies!” meaning the snot has surpassed his two-year-old nose-wiping abilities, and he needs our help. The boy refuses to blow his nose. He has done it a number of times quite successfully, but when we encourage him to blow, he gives us a very strong-willed, “No!” and then hides his face or runs away. If only he could really understand.

What I’m most concerned about is the secondary infection that nearly always follows. Since he has just had pneumonia not even a month ago, we’re told it is likely he could develop another lung infection. Of course, there are also the ears and the sinuses. Maybe this time it will be his left elbow, his toenails, the hair follicles on his eyebrows. All ridiculousness aside, my wife and I are bracing ourselves for what is to come but hoping we’ll escape this one with just a raw nose.

It’s all such a bummer because we were just getting back into the swing of things with our social lives. We started our third session of Music Together with BG’s favorite teacher. We got to go to our moms’ group and hang out with some lovely women and their kids. BG and Mama went to a new storytime. We even had a playdate set up for this week (which we’ll now have to cancel). This is what begins to really get depressing because we find ourselves missing out on living our lives, and each time, BG regresses in some way. This time, he’s gotten back into his physical aggression, hitting, pinching, scratching, and even biting us. It’s so discouraging.

And yet I don’t want to sound like this. I don’t want to be this person who’s forever complaining, but maybe if I had a month or even two months (nah, that’s getting greedy) of a healthy family, I’d whine a little less.

So please, if you could, send us your best “no secondary infection” vibes for the coming weeks. It would be nice if this one would sail by like a little head cold should.

 

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a little better than a bedbug

You are all so sweet, and your support and virtual hugs have certainly helped to buoy my spirits a bit. Yesterday, my wife took BG shopping while I worked, and she came home with new bedding for our guest room/my office to make me more comfortable on our (dreadfully hard) futon as we work toward being better rested and prepare for BigBoyBed Training, Round #245.

I don’t think we’ll do this cosleeping thing longer than a week or so. My son is not fun to share a bed with. Initially, it was actually very sweet to be able to snuggle with him, especially when he was still ill, and I felt like my comfort was doing some good. But he’s a bed hog and a pillow thief, and he does weird things like sticking his hand in the top, back of my shirt (??) or trying to use my skull as a pillow. He hates blankets, so he often tries to deprive me of blankets as well (not okay), and he really prefers my pillow but only if I’m also sleeping on it (also not okay).

Granted, we’re getting more sleep. He’s sleeping pretty well once he gets over me taking him to the guest room and not hanging out with him in his room endlessly or not putting him in bed with my wife and I (for some reason, he gets really mad about the futon, which I think is a good thing in the long run).  I’m mostly sleeping okay. At least I’m not going back and forth between our room and his. And J, well, the cats seem to be waking her up plenty, but she’s sleeping a bit more too. Who knows; we may all wake up well-rested one day soon.

As much as it makes me cringe to say it, I think I’m going to be sleeping on his floor once we make the decision to start bed training again. The loose plan is to sleep there for a few days until he’s sleeping well, and then I’ll slowly move myself closer to the door and into the hall and so on. Maybe it will work; it’s got to work better than bribes with cheap toys or stickers did.

 

On a more positive note, my wife and I are going on a date tomorrow. We’re going to see a movie, the first movie we’ve seen in a theater since just before BG was born. I hope we don’t sleep through it.

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deprived

After two years of talking about our lack of sleep, I’m really just done with it, but here we are again–or still. I honestly can’t believe it. I do understand, however, why sleep deprivation is such an effective means of torture, but there’s no telling that to a two-year-old.

Did I mention that for almost three months, we had a son who went down at 8pm and slept through until at least 6am, and once or twice, even 8am? We did. Those were blissful months. I was sleeping in my own bed, and my wife was there with me. We even had an occasional spontaneous intimate moment. My back started to recover from sleeping in rocking chairs and on floor pads. It may have all been a dream. Right now, it feels like it must have been.

At this moment, I am typing in the dark whilst sitting on the futon in our guest room. My son is trying to get comfortable next to me. He woke up fifteen minutes ago, after sleeping for only an hour, and couldn’t go back to sleep in his room. I’m “working” at the moment, which means I’m waiting for a live student to pop into a chat room. These are my work hours. Our son won’t settle for J at night, which is a very long story which ultimately comes down to me being the nighttime parent because I screwed things up a long time ago with things like night nursing, but that’s all in the past. We can’t do anything about that now.

Unfortunately, our little family is in crisis because of our lack of sleep. Last night, the night before my wife’s first day back at school for a new semester, our son woke up as I was getting ready for bed, and I couldn’t get him back to sleep until well into the one o’clock hour. When he woke up again at 3am, I ushered him as quickly as I could out of our room and to the guest room/office where I opted to sleep with him to keep him quiet. Sadly, J didn’t sleep once this happened–not much anyway–so her first day back was one of total exhaustion. Our exhaustion is deep and ugly. It has resulted in countless quarrels and several big fights. It has us drinking far too much caffeine. I’m hitting the Rescue Remedy as often as I can to combat the anxiety I have about sleep.

This sleep regression is something that was born of the toddler bed transition. Unfortunately, this was also the exact moment our son decided to get his two-year molars. He came down with two nasty illnesses as well, but he was finally sort of starting to sleep in his bed. There was even one fluke of a night when he slept through the night and we rewarded him with a toy. But then he got that dreaded New Year’s ailment, the one that ended in pneumonia, and all bets were off. We coslept a lot–all three of us. I would sleep with him whole nights on the futon. We just did what we could to see our son through the illness. Unfortunately, within all of this, we started to see a major sleep regression. As he felt better, he stopped napping for more than thirty minutes or so. He couldn’t sleep for long at all in his bed. We have had nights (as I recently recorded) where he has woken up five minutes after going back down, thirty minutes after going back down–all night long. We’re in some kind of hell. Counter to our instincts, we’ve put him in his bed and left him to cry only to have a child who’s far too upset to sleep. If I thought it would help, I’d offer to buy him a car as bribery.

In therapy today, we were both a wreck. We worked through some ugly shit that has come up during the sleeplessness, and eventually, our therapist urged us to come up with some way, any way, to get some sleep for a few weeks, suggesting we may need to cosleep again so that we can all get some rest and recover. So we’re loosely cosleeping, which is to say, we’re not going to push the issue of him sleeping in his bed for awhile, and I’m probably going to be spending a lot of nights on the futon with the boy until he works this out and we devise a plan that works. It feels like we’ve taken about ten steps back. Maybe on the other side of this, we’ll see some sort of amazing development. Maybe he’ll start sleeping through the night and reading  and speaking two more languages. Or maybe he’ll just sleep okay and not be such a grumpy little mess. Either way, it’s got to get better from here. (Doesn’t it?)

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where oh where is my sleep

We had the worst night ever last night. BG woke up every half hour to an hour. He wouldn’t go back to his bed. When he did, he wouldn’t lie down. He cried. I cried. I begged him to sleep. I bargained with him. I pleaded. I left him in his room crying. I did everything I could imagine to get him to sleep in his bed, and he woke up every time, sometimes just five minutes later, but almost always before I was truly able to get back to sleep. By 3:30 or so, I grabbed some pillows and a couple of blankets and crashed out on his floor. Not only am I exhausted, but my hips and back are screaming. We all slept very little last night. Very, very little indeed.

He has been asleep for three hours, and he has already woken up once. I don’t have any hopes that tonight will be better.

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the diva cup: a review

I never write reviews here, but I have happened upon a product–an experience if you will–that I have to share, and because this blog started with ample discussions of my lady parts and cycles, it seems only appropriate that I share with all of you.

A few months ago, a friend of mine was visiting, and she asked if I had heard of the moon cup–a menstrual cup. Of course, I had. We had used a disposable menstrual cup during inseminations for some time. No, no, this is a bit different, she assured me, and she proceeded to give me the sales pitch of a lifetime by sharing her experience with this cup she had been using. She was having shorter cycles, fewer cramps, no odor, and far less fuss. I was intrigued, but it took another visit and a similar sales pitch to my wife for me to remember that I was contemplating this thing.

I have long hated feminine hygiene products. I don’t know any one of us who enjoys buying these things and using them. It’s a pain, and none of them are perfect. To me, pads and tampons have always been uncomfortable in some way or another, and the cost is insane. Each year, it seems the cost of these things goes up, and as many of you know, we’ve had plenty of months when we have had to live on next to nothing. Having to shell out what could otherwise have been food money was always so frustrating.

Last month when my cycle arrived, I decided it was time to give this thing a try. At the little market near us, they sell the Diva cup (probably the most common cup out there), so when my wife was headed to the store for some wine, I had her pick one up. It cost $26, and just one can last several years.

I was initially a little worried that it would take some time to learn to put the thing in, that I would have to remove it and replace it, and that it would be a big mess. But it wasn’t. It was so simple and so easy to tell it was in place. I put it in and forgot about it. The beauty of this cup is that you can leave it in place for 10-12 hours. I honestly can go eight hours without thinking about it at all. I don’t feel it. I don’t even worry about it (okay, I did the first month, but my worries were very quickly eased when nothing happened). I literally had only one small leak, and it was because I simply let the thing go for too long on a heavy flow day. Normally, my heavy flow days with tampons are cause for lots of bathroom “checks” and honestly plenty of tampon failures. For most of my period, I wore a tiny pantyliner, and it was just once that I even needed it.

Most women when thinking about the cup are okay with the insertion but not so much with the emptying or cleaning of it. Let me just say, if you’ve dealt with a pad, if you’ve ever had to throw away a tampon, you’ve dealt with far more grossness than you’re going to encounter here. Seriously. Just take it out (it has a little stem, which makes it easy), dump it, and either wipe it or rinse it, and put it back in. It’s seriously that easy.

One of the wonderful surprises about this is that you never have to carry supplies. I was worried that a public restroom “change” might be messy, but honestly it’s not any messier than inserting a tampon (if you’ve used the ones without applicators, you’re fine).

Another lovely surprise is that because it’s made of silicone, it doesn’t sap all the moisture out of your lady bits, which means you feel far more normal. Sure there’s still the sensitivity and cramping of a period, but even that is less. It’s amazing.

I can honestly say that when old Flo showed up this month, I was happy to use my cup again. I can’t believe how transformative this is, how freeing it feels to not be bound to the tampon/pad manufacturers, to be able to go wherever I want (hiking! camping! shopping!) without thinking about supplies. I never imagined managing my period could be so easy.

A couple of weeks after my first go-around with the Diva, my wife’s period arrived, and we had almost no supplies. She was complaining about how awful the tampons were, so when I went to the store later that day, I brought one home from her. She was an instant convert. My wife has always hated dealing with things like this. She’s always been far more squeamish than I about matters of the body, but she used the cup easily throughout her whole period without a single leak or any other mishap. She’s in love with her Diva cup too.

I’m telling you, this thing will change you. I can’t recommend it enough–and it’s not just for “tampon people.” It’s not even comparable, honestly. Just consider it: you’ll reduce the mounds of waste created with menstrual products, you’ll reduce the amount of money you’re spending on those products, and you’ll significantly decrease the amount of time you spend thinking and/or dealing with your period. It’s revolutionary, ladies.

You can find the Diva cup here and other cup options (including pretty colors!) here.

 

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breathing easier

First of all, holy moly! My blog has had three times as many views as it ever has on a single day. If you’re new out there, welcome. I’d love to know how you found me!

 

I can’t believe what a trying two weeks it has been since our boy got sick, but I think we’re finally turning a corner. This hasn’t been without a multitude of scares. In fact, on Thursday, we nearly wound up in the hospital after BG spiked a fever early in the morning, even after two days of antibiotics. We took him to the doctor, and his blood oxygen level was lowish (topping out at just 94 if that means anything to you). The doctor sent us for chest x-rays, and we came back for another round blood saturation testing, at which point his levels were much better (97/98), and while his x-rays certainly showed pneumonia, it was a mild-ish variety that she didn’t think would pose any problems. She did have us lower his prednisone dosage so that we could get rid of the ‘roid-raging toddler with pneumonia (seriously–we needed to give him the stuff, but he was hitting us, kicking us, throwing everything in sight. Yikes.). That day, my parents came to see us, giving us some much-needed support (we left him the next day to sleep in Grandma’s arms while we had a grocery shopping date).

Yesterday morning, when returning a call to the office (they’ve been great about checking in), I spoke with a nurse practitioner who was grilling me about his treatment, and when I mentioned that he took his albuterol easily, she took a moment to clarify and then freaked out on me. If you’re not familiar with breathing treatments, there are a couple of ways these can be done. Albuterol can be administered in an inhaler, and for a child, a spacer is used–this tube on which a mask is attached. The tube holds the medicine in place so that the child has the time to breathe it in. The tube also has a little pipe that adults can use, and we had taken to using that, since BG reacted as though we were smothering him when we held the mask on his face while he took a couple of breaths. Well, it seems that by letting BG be a little more self-sufficient in an effort to avoid traumatizing him several times a day, we were giving him virtually none of the medication. When the nurse told me this, I nearly died. My heart dropped to my feet. I was horrified. She continued to rant about how someone should have educated us more (yes) and then finally offered to have us come in to the office to get him a nebulizer treatment.

Oddly, his doctor wasn’t convinced the nebulizer would be best for him because she didn’t think he would sit still for ten minutes. Another child a bit younger than him was in the room next to us, screaming inconsolably, while receiving such a treatment. When faced with the same treatment, BG eagerly examined how the machine worked (and because it was similar to a humidifier–a machine he LOVES–it was totally fascinating to him), and then he sat quietly, mask held up to his face, and listened to a book his Mama was reading. Until now, he had been so pale, but after a ten-minute treatment, his cheeks were rosy again. His lips were rosy. He was coughing productively. When the doctor saw how favorably he responded, she sent us home with a nebulizer. He has used it several times, and he sits very quietly, holding his mask up to his face, very aware of his special new machine.

The likelihood is, we’re going to need this thing for a long time. Chances are, he’s going to be dealing with wheeziness and even asthmatic tendencies for at least his young childhood if not longer. Knowing that we’ve got something to help him through this a bit more effectively eases my worries some, but I can’t help but be concerned that this is going to color his childhood in some significant ways. As with so many childhood ailments, he may well outgrow this in the next year or so. This is obviously what we’re hoping for.

But I don’t mean to go to dark places here, especially because we’re finally having an upswing. Yesterday’s office visit also revealed a rash that may have been caused by BG’s antibiotic, so we have a new antibiotic, a new nebulizer, and this morning, we had a boy who was ready to get up and eat, a boy who wanted to be up playing much of the day. He’s still quite sick, still fighting ear infections and clearing those sick little lungs out, but he’s improving, and for the first time in a couple of weeks, we heard his laugh many times, saw his smile, even saw him testing boundaries again–a good indicator that he’s coming back to his vibrant little two-year-old self. Oh how I’ve missed him.

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okay, universe, you can ease up a bit now

Our boy has been sick for a week with a cold–a brutal cold that has had him feverish and clingy–we’re talking must-be-in contact-with-a-mom-all-day-long-and-most-of-the-night clingy. After thirty seconds or so of being put down, we have heard the refrain, “Pick you up and hug you, hug you!” It’s been an exhausting week. We thought he had turned a corner, but then last night, he spiked another fever as he coughed and coughed, and when I came into his room, he climbed into my lap repeating what I always tell him when he’s needing comfort, “I’ve got you. I’ve got you.” He was burning up and sick as can be.

We got him to the doctor this morning, predicting croup or ear infections. Instead, the diagnosis was a little more surprising: pneumonia with a double ear infection chaser. We were sent him with a handful of prescriptions. Today we learned what our kid is like on prednisolone, something we’ll not be giving to him again. He suddenly acted as though he was healed. Nothing was wrong with him. (Except for his high fever that hadn’t gotten the message.) He was ready to run around outside, play with every toy he has, chase the cats. We kept him as still as we could, but this false health eventually collapsed him into nearly three hours of napping. On top of all this, he was monster-child, hitting me, scratching me, and otherwise being a crazy little critter neither my wife nor I recognized. Fortunately, he’s also responding well to his inhaler, so we’re going to stick with that unless things get worse again. Oh, the decisions we have to make as parents.

I’m so sad that my boy is enduring another year of sick. It seems any time he is in contact with other kids, he ends up with a month of illness. I’m told this means that he’s developing his immune system, that eventually, like so many other kids, his health will even out and he’ll have a few colds a year without much fanfare.

But that isn’t the case now, and I’m feeling a little whiney myself because while I’m not sick (yet), and my wife is not sick (yet), today marked the end of my one break from work all year long, and half of that break, the part during which I planned on having loads of fun with my little family of three, we were holed up trying to get our boy healthy.

On New Year’s Eve, we celebrated three years since our positive pregnancy test, and even though we were all suffering from some serious cabin fever, my wife and I felt so blessed to spend the end of our year watching over this:

I can tell you that there were multiple New Year’s Eves when I would have given anything to be staying home with a child, even a sick child. It doesn’t escape me even now, with my son all kinds of crazy and sick that we are so blessed to have this little guy in our lives. So I’ll take the all-day hug-a-thons, the endless trails of snot, the waking up to soothe our sick boy back to sleep. I’ll take it all because every moment with this boy is gold.

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new year, new beginnings

I can’t believe how much I disappeared over the past few weeks, but I’ve been off work, and because I work 30-plus hours a week online, getting on the computer felt a little too much like walking into the office, so I’ve stayed away and lived life, and it has been mostly really lovely.

In the process, however, I’ve missed some major holidays, so let me just say that I hope your winter holidays have been filled with joy and love and many, many blessings.

Today marks the first day of 2012, and while I am not one for resolutions, I do like to make plans for fresh starts and new projects. For instance, I have been talking for a year now about enrolling in doula training. This week, I finally put down a deposit on an amazing program that will take place in the spring. I have a nice long reading list, and I’m so excited to finally be doing this.

On the other career front, I’m also trying to get back into the classroom by next fall. I miss teaching, miss the comfort and challenge of academia. Plus, if I teach, we can send BG to our preferred preschool, which is no small thing.

I want to engage in more creative pursuits too, and I completely missed out on last year’s color photo project, so this year, I’m planning to take on the 2012 Photo Challenge as outlined here.

And that’s what I have so far–a list in the making, something to get me started.

What are your new projects for 2012?

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