Archive for February, 2009
While we were in Ethiopia, we got into a conversation one night about co-sleeping and adoption. One of the things we learned in our adoption process was that many of the kids would be used to having shared a bed before coming home and that transitioning to sleeping alone might be difficult. During an attachment teleconference, the adoptive families dialed in were encouraged to think about co-sleeping in some way. Now, back to Ethiopia where we were out to dinner– all the families with our agency who were traveling that week- and we got on the subject of sharing beds and one of the parents talked about how much they loved having their own bed which got us into a funny conversation about sleep habits and idiosyncracies, etc which reminded me of the funniest sleep story I have in my pocket. So here we go.
When I was a single girl, I loved sleeping diagnolly in my bed. So, needless to say, when I married BF, I had to learn how to sleep straight in the bed. I did it, but when BF inched into my half of the bed, I’d protest. One night, BF was allover my side of the bed, and I protested like I always had.
“No, I am not!” He insisted.
“Yes, you are!” I replied, allowing the fight to go down the He Said, She Said territory of our infamous cupcake squabble.
“I’m not,” he started to lightly snore again, and I wasn’t having it so I turned on my bedside table lamp to prove my point.
Without any line of demarcation on our headboard that showed what the middle point was, there was no way to tell who the winner of this debate was.
“You are being ridiculous,” BF told me and then tried to hug me which would be great with him because it meant that he got even more of the real estate on my side of the bed.
“Oh no, you don’t.”
“What,” BF asked, feigning innocence and getting even more cozy on my side of the bed.
And then we were both up, running to the kitchen to get a tape measure, masking tape, and a pencil. Back in the bedroom, both of us self-righteous, we measured the bed, marked the half-way point, and then got out the masking tape and put a line of tape from our headboard to our foot board to make our point to the other. Satisfied that the line of demarcation was clearly established, we turned off our lights and settled into our bed, silent, until we both erupted in laughter.
On that note, BF says he feels like he is my Marley (ala Marley and Me). One of my girlfriends told me that if BF made us the type of money that Marley made John Grogan, BF would get over being my Marley really fast— especially if he got to pick Brad Pitt to play him in the movie.
Jillian, at Rooted In Love, and her husband traveled to Ethiopia at the same time we did to pick up her two darling boys. She just did a post on what it is not helpful for you to do with an adoptive family in your life (and what is helpful). I wanted to share it with you in case you are preparing for an adoption journey or will soon be welcoming home a family from an adoption journey.
Oh, I spoke way too soon about our sleep progress here at the house. If baby slept four total hours last night between 7 am and 7 pm, I would be shocked. Let’s hope today is a step forward!
So, if you are a long time reader of this blog, you know that my work is a hodge podge of things– I am a freelance writer for magazines, a book author, a speaker, a professor, and I chair a non-profit, Circle de Luz (if you are new to the blog and interested, feel free to click on the links to learn more). When we started down the road to parenthood last August, one of the very first questions we needed to answer in our home study was what our plans were regarding childcare. BF is self-employed, too, so we had a unique opportunity to come up with a solution that involved both of us. Ultimately, what we decided was that we would split the day between work and being home with the baby. I would be with SBA (sweet Baby A) from 8 am until 1 pm and BF would be home with him from 1-6. The hardest part, it seemed, was deciding who got to work the morning hours since we both contend that we do our best work in the morning. As our trip to pick up SBA approached, I worked to get all of my February deadlines met before we took off on January 23. I was eager to have a month without deadlines and knew that if I could get it all in, all I would need to attend to in a time sensitive manner for the month of February was my teaching– grading, lesson plans, and then the actual teaching, etc. Before we left, I turned in six articles and officially wiped my February slate mostly clear.
We thought that one month– February– would be just the thing to get some semblance of a schedule in place so that we could officially resume working in March (and, to be fair, BF has needed to do some work this month, too, so neither of us had completely clean slates but we did have tidier slates than usual). Neither of us (me and BF) are terribly routine driven so we weren’t hell bent on a fast and hard schedule. A ball park of how things work would do plenty to suffice. Except there is no ball park. There is not even a sand lot of a schedule going on. There is, perhaps, some semblance of a back yard pick up game type of schedule (ie: ‘meet in the yard afterschool and see what happens’), though, and that, you see, is our silver lining.
It’s about that time to go back to work on a more regular basis than we have been, and that hint of a schedule will be so helpful in making that happen. I spent this past weekend cleaning out my office to make room for a workspace for BF so that he has a place to do things here while the baby is napping. I will “commute” to BF’s office– a little less than a mile from our house (it’s a good thing I embarked on my make an effort resolution since I’ll now have to leave the house to do work on a daily basis)– to do my work in the afternoons. And, slowly, we’ll figure it out. I’ll learn how to be creative and productive in the afternoon (with less sleep than before), and we’ll both learn how to get as much done in half the time (because, honestly, we both know we piddled a few hours of every day away before SBA joined us), although I imagine our biggest challenge will be working while fighting the urge to be with our boy. And, right now, I can’t even imagine writing an interesting sentence or giving a talk that isn’t laced with me desperately trying to find the word in my sleep deprived mind but I have faith that it is like riding a bicycle after a hiatus. It works itself out. Someone reassure me that that is true.
I have a pretty blank slate when I go back to work and the ability to make things happen the way I imagined– if I am patient and deliberate. There are two books I desperately want to write that I can go ahead and get started on– but writing them alone doesn’t pay the bills so I’ll need to spend some time trying to land contracts for them. There are a few articles that I really want to write and I’ll need to find homes for them. I’ll go back to teaching adult continuing education classes in April and I just love those workshops so I am especially looking forward to them. And there are exciting things on the horizon as Circle de Luz begins to grow. All in all, I am hopeful that all the pieces can come together into a plan that helps most moments seem intentional and good. Because, in the end, that’s what we all want. To do work– both at home and away from home and however that work might be defined– that speaks to us, that brings out our best, and that adds to our life.
And, on cue, SBA is up from a nap. A new normal indeed.
I hate to speak too soon but I just have to write down somewhere that we have had some sleep progess at our house. As you might recall, our boy was waking up consistently at the 45 minute mark after falling asleep. Seriously, we’d get up with him 14 times in a night before he decides somewhere between 5 and 6 am that he is up for the day. Now, his awake time at night has dropped significantly. It used to be up to an hour and a half. Now the worst case scenario is probably 20 minutes. But still, 14 times of 20 minute pops over night is more than 4 and a half hours which means that our boy was sleeping less than 6 hours a night. Add that to his two forty-five minute naps in a day and our boy was maybe approaching 7.5 hours of sleep a day. Now, I can go without sleep. It wasn’t until this past weekend (so almost 4 weeks of being a mom) where I was having trouble finding words when I was explaining something. But I was really worried about our boy. Babies his age are supposed to sleep 14-16 hours and that significantly helps their growth and development. If he’s down to just 7ish hours, how is that hurting him?
We’ve tried everything. I could write a darn funny post about our attempts at getting our boy to sleep for longer than 45 minute stretches but I’ll spare you. What I will say is that this weekend, after I put a healthy dent into The Happiest Baby on the Block and after observing that his arms were a significant part of the problem in his waking (he pinwheels the heck out of them while he sleeps, knocks himself in the face, and then wakes up mad at whoever punched him), we busted out the kiddopatamus swaddle. We had tried swaddling him in Ethiopia but he always busted out of the swaddle and seemed so mad about it. Recently, we bought 2 new swaddles that were bigger for our now 18 pounds (yep, he gained 2 pounds in 17 days) of joy and we used them on Sunday and Monday night with some success. Our little guy is now sleeping somewhere between 90 minutes and 120 minutes at a pop and so that has reduced his wake ups to 6 or 7 a night. And, lo and behold, he is indeed the happiest baby on the block with all that sleep in his system (truth be told, he was pretty happy before the sleep, too, but he did have his overtired breakdowns. We haven’t seen an overtired breakdown since Sunday which is like lightyears ago). Today, he even napped for two hours in his swaddle.
Our other sleep solutions are an ocean sound machine (love it!), a vaporizer, and a little feeding and belly rocking when he wakes up at night. With all that in place, we’re coming closer to 5 to 10 minute wake-ups when he does wake up.
PS: you’ll be glad to know that he’s moved out of his Moses basket and sleeps in his crib now. I’ll sneak crib shots of him soon!
I’ll keep you posted on our progress!
I came across this scary statistic in my December/January 2009 issue of Hispanic. Researchers at the University of Florida and the University of Texas found that children are exposed to 7 times more alcohol advertising if they attend a school where at least one-fifth of the students are Hispanic. Specifically, in the study of 63 elementary schools, researchers found there were 29 alcohol ads on average in a two block radius surrounding schools with larger Hispanic populations compared with an average of four ads around schools with less than a 20% Latino population. This is particularly worrisome because past research shows that exposure to such ads is strongly associated with alcohol use and intention to use alcohol. Latino children are also at increased risk for alcohol use at young ages.
So what to do? For the next week, pay attention to the billboards that surround your child’s school or the schools in your community. If you believe they are problematic, contact the Parent Teacher Association at the school with your observation and request that they put together a petition that informs the offending company’s marketing director that you would like the billboard moved. We can change the things that are wrong in the world. It just takes our attention.
I took a hefty (read 15ish) stack of magazines with me on the plane to Ethiopia and collected some quotes about body image that I wanted to share with you.
From the February issue of Instyle:
“I always wanted brown curly hair, brown eyes, and dark skin. That’s because I grew up in an Italian family and wanted everything I didn’t have. I was about 29 when I realized that all I’ve got is this, so I might as well figure out what “this” is.” Bradley Cooper
From the February issue of Shape:
“You’ll never find me obsessing over what I looked like at 19- that’s fighting time, gravity, and the natural aging process. As long as I’m eating right, exercising, and being the best I can be, I will celebrate the person I am today.” Tyra Banks
“I can’t control how I’m perceived, only how I’m presented.” Jared Matthew Weiss (a life stylist)
From the January issue of O, the Oprah Magazine:
“Equating the physical body with “I’, the body that is destined to grow old, wither, and die, always leads to suffering. To refrain from identifying with the body doesn’t mean that you no longer care for it. If it is strong, beautiful, or vigorous, you can apprecaite those attributes while they last. You can also improve your body’s condition through nutrition and exercise. If you don’t equate the body with who you are, when beauty fades, vigor diminishes, or the body becomes incapacitated, this will not affect your sense of worth or identity in any way. In fact, as the body begins to weaken, the light of consciousness can shine more easily.” Eckhart Tolle (from Oneness With All Life)
Here is what we packed for our trip to Ethiopia. Logistically, we checked 3 suitcases/ Rubbermaid containers of donations and one suitcase that had our items in it. We also carried on 4 bags– a hiking day pack, a school-type backpack that doubled as our diaper bag in country, a camera bag, and a carry on suitcase that had enough of Abram’s stuff to get us through if we lost our luggage. We packed our carry on bags in a way that would allow us to be prepared if our luggage was lost. Turns out that was a good strategy because our luggage got to Ethiopia a day and a half after us (although we suspect that this was more our fault than the airlines. If you are flying Emirates with an overnight layover in Dubai, let me know and I’ll give you the spill on how to make sure your luggage shows up).
Here is how I have organized these lists for your use. Things are sorted categorically (medical, baby, etc. If we used it en route or in country, I have bolded it. If I packed it in our carry on luggage, I have written CO after the item. Hope this is helpful. Let me know if you have any questions!