Thursday, September 30, 2010

Breakthrough! and some other ramblings

Ok so I wasn't going to post about this because I feel like I am always whining about something Baby Girl is or isn't doing that is making my life miserable and I want you guys to know that I really do love the little squirt and mostly she makes my life awesomer despite all my complaining.  How's that for a good run-on sentence to start a post?

Anyway...what I wasn't going to post about and now AM going to post about is this:  For 8 days in a row Lila StinkerFace Kautzi did not sleep longer than 30 minutes for any nap.  Now, she's never been a long napper (I throw a party if she sleeps longer than an hour), but 30 minutes?  Come ON!  And as we have learned, sleep begets sleep, so when she doesn't get good naps she can't get good night sleep so after several days of bad naps, she started waking up during the night.  Not cool, Zeus.  What's a mama to do?!  I tried everything: earlier naptimes, later naptimes, fewer naps, more naps, rearranging feedings, earlier bedtimes, controlled wake-up times, colder house, warmer house.  Nothing worked.  Until...

A few days ago, after two crap-o-la naps earlier that day, she was rubbing her eyes around 4:00.  I wasn't too optimistic, but I thought, why not try for a third nap today?  The worst that can happen is she screams her brains out for 20 minutes until I give up.  But she didn't scream her brains out.  She just whimpered on off to sleep.  And slept for...wait for it... an HOUR!  Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah, hallelujah, ha-leh-luh-ya!!

I wasn't quite ready to declare it a victory yet (don't be fooled by my Hallelujah Chorus).  But the next day she took one hour-long nap and one 30 minute snooze.  And the next day it got a bit better.  And so on

I would like to announce that last night, Baby Girl slept from 8:30pm to 8:00am, woke up to eat and then slept from 8:20 to 10:00!!  Which means even Mama, night owl that I am with my midnight bedtime, got 10! hours! of! sleep! last! night!  THEN, she took an hour-and-a-half nap this afternoon!  I think I might just go conquer the world.  Or maybe just my messy kitchen.

Thanks for tolerating my boring mommy stories.  This is my life, people.

Here's a little something to make reading this post worth it - I found* it on the internets:
check it out
It's a website where you can design and print your own fabrics.  I'm a wannabe seamstress (wannabe = one time I sewed a hem around a pre-cut fabric and called it a tea towel, but then my sister-in-law needed her sewing machine back and I haven't done anything since.  Wanna teach me??) and I spent all (HOUR!) of Baby Girl's nap time ogling all the pretty fabrics.  You should ogle them, too.  Do it.  Now. Well, not now, but after you read my footnote.  Which is going to start riiiiiigghhht NOW:

*found = less I scoured cyber space looking for a fun crafty website and more I saw it mentioned on a friend-of-a-friend's blog.  Which blog?  You might ask.  Well I'll tell you:  Check her out, too - she's far from "wannabe."

Sunday, September 26, 2010

It's almost Lila's birthday!

I said that to Eric the other day and he just shook his head at me.  See, if you know me at all you know that I lovelovelove birthdays!  Especially my own.  And I have a really special tradition of starting the birthday countdown about three months out.  Actually, Eric won't let me start counting down to my birthday until after his, so since we've been married, I'm only allowed two months of birthday anticipation.  The nerve.

And now I have another birthday to celebrate!  And really, people I think I'm gonna be just as crazy about Baby Girl's birthday as my own.  If not more so.  Because this December 16th, I'm not only celebrating our first year of life with my sweet little pixie, but I'm also celebrating how awesome I am.  Now I'm not one to toot my own horn, but I'm pretty awesome.  Do you KNOW how hard labor is?  And let's be honest, I didn't have the most graceful of pregnancies what with all the puking and swelling and all - plus it's hard for a hobbit-footed hippopotamus to waddle around gracefully.  So I say once a year it's reasonable to recognize just how awesome I am for surviving all of that misery!  Who cares if every other mommy in the world went through the same thing and they don't see the need to throw themselves a party?  I say, "Three cheers for ME!"  Oh, and "Happy Birthday, Lila!"
little pixie
I am a little nervous for Lila that her birthday will get overshadowed by...oh what's that one holiday?  Oh yeah.  CHRISTMAS.  And let's be honest, Christmas is really very proud of itself.  Christmas is even more self-aggrandizing than I am!  Christmas insists on Target hauling out the decorations for its party in SEPTEMBER (yes, my friends, I saw the Christmas lights on the back wall of Target the other day.  Ridiculous.) as well as having every radio station play songs dedicated to it starting 2 months out!  It would be like me insisting on you guys singing happy birthday to me every time you saw me starting in February (not that I'd complain).  Come on, Christmas!  Let my Baby Girl have some attention, too!  (By the way, as a disclaimer, I would like to say that I actually do love Christmas.  But I love the part about celebrating the day a tiny baby was born who would one day wipe away my tears and fix my heart and forgive my mistakes and save my life.  I'm not so keen on the giant snow globes and inflatable Pooh Bears dressed as Santas.  Sheesh.)

I'm not sure why I love birthdays so much.  Maybe it's because I love presents.  Especially unique, thoughtful, handmade, one-of-a-kinders.  Or Anthropoligie gift cards.  I'm not picky.  I also love giving gifts and have been told I'm an awesome gift-giver (that's okay to brag about, right?).  But if you didn't get one from me this year, it's not because I don't love you.  It's because we are short in the dollar department since I lost my job or maybe because I agonized over finding the perfect gift and then couldn't be satisfied with mediocre when nothing was screaming your name.  It's a blessing and a curse.  But I digress...

Maybe I love birthdays because birthdays were always a huge deal growing up.  My mom pulled out all the stops in the creativity department.  (I won't mention that every year she would be up late the night before swearing "I'm never doing this again! Next year we're renting out Chuck E. Cheese and calling it done!")  I had a princess party one year (okay maybe it was a few years in a row.  What can I say?  My daddy called me Princess, I had a complex maybe) and she drew a poster of a princess in front of a castle.  Then she MADE magic wands as party favors (sewed little stuffed cloth stars and affixed them to the tops of wooden rods with streamers coming down.  For reals.)  Another party was a backwards party.  She hand-made the invites, writing them each backwards so my friends had to hold them up to the mirror to read them.  We all dressed backwards and we played backwards games and did everything in reverse order.  Kids had to come to the back door and say "Ho ho ho! Merry Halloween" to get in (I'm not exactly sure why that's the backwards way to say Happy Birthday, but we thought it was hysterical).  I could write a whole post about our birthday parties, but what I'm getting at is, I've got a lot to live up to!

So needless to say, I'm feeling like I need to have my A-game on to live up to the tradition my mom has created of over-the-top birthday parties AND set the precedent for all of Lila's birthday parties (not to mention to put a certain holiday in it's place).  So today I was googling "awesome ideas for one-year-old birthday" and feeling a little disappointed by the LAME results (Mickey Mouse plates and napkins, a round cake with cupcake ears?  That's all you got???) and I thought, I've got to tap into some true creative juices.  That's you guys.  I want to hear about your favorite parties growing up or good ideas you've witnessed or original ideas you have to celebrate Lila Josephine!

Because really, presents and parties aside, I think I really love birthdays because they celebrate life.  Tony Campolo tells a story about the time he threw a birthday party for a prostitute because it seemed like the kind of thing that Jesus would do -  bring celebration to people who have nothing to celebrate.  The truth is, people are meant to be celebrated simply because they are.  We seem to be hard-wired to appreciate genius and beauty.  Just as we celebrate a work of art or a beautiful novel or a provocative movie or a football victory (did you SEE the Chiefs cream the 49ers??), we are meant to recognize the genius and beauty of God's favorite bit of creation.  And never before in my life have I been so amazed by the creativity of the Lord than I have been as I have watched my daughter grow - first inside my belly and now outside of it.  I can't think of anything more worth celebrating.  In 82 days.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

WORDS: now organic!

If motherhood has taught me anything, it is to eat my words.  It's amazing what you think you know before you have kids.  You look at the unruly children in Target and think, "Why doesn't that mom just march them right out of there?"  It never occurs to you that maybe this is the only window in that mother's day when she's not changing diapers, folding laundry, chasing little urchins, cleaning up a food fight, or strategizing her plan of attack on the disaster box that is her house during that precious 60 minutes of nap time.  Let me tell ya, when you have a window, you use it.  Screaming children or no screaming children.

So here's my latest linguistic lunch.  When I was pregnant, I heard about a form of parenting in which parents do not baby-proof because doing so avoids the opportunity to teach and discipline their child.  Baby-proofing simply keeps things off limits and unattainable so that Baby doesn't hurt herself (you know, by eating ant traps or licking electrical outlets - more on that later) or destroy precious things (like computers that make a really fun noise when pulled to the ground).  Instead, this particular parenting strategy advises not to baby-proof, but to train your child to know what she should and shouldn't play with.  Brilliant! I thought.  I'll save so much money by not buying the gear, plus I won't have those hideous bulky things on the toilets and doors, etc.  Ahh, the ignorance of the childless.

The strategy worked for a couple months.  You know, the months when Baby Girl was a mere (cute) blob on the living room rug.  Once that blob sprouted arms and legs in place of her floppy appendages, it was a whole new ball game.
blobs can't do this
By the way, have you ever tried to discipline a 9-month-old?  Let me tell you a few things.

First of all, she's much faster than you think.  No sooner do I walk to the washing machine to start a load of diapers, do I hear her banging on the trash can in the bathroom - despite the fact that I left her playing safely in her room.  And by "playing," I mean re-organizing her bookshelf.  And by "re-organizing," I mean throwing all the books in a heap on the floor.
good thing her mommy likes to re-organize
Secondly, she seems to have selective memory.  The little tricks that she so excellently demonstrates in private seem to slip her mind when I ask her to perform in public.  (Do you have any idea how idiotic I feel saying, "How big is Lila?" 20 times to a child who just stares at me blankly?)  But she has no problem recalling where the computer is or which kitchen cabinet contains all the poisons.  Awesome.

see? PROOF that shes' soooo big!

Third of all, she seems to have an unnatural curiosity toward things that might fry her brains.  Like when I turned my back for oh, 6 seconds, only to swing around again when I heard the sound, "Ah-ah-ah."  Hmmm, what's that sound?  Oh, nothing.  Just my child LICKING THE ELECTRICAL OUTLET.  Seriously.  Hands on either side of the outlet, tongue out.  Question: What's more dangerous than sticking a body part in an electrical outlet?  Answer: Sticking a WET body part in an electrical outlet.  Good thing I had my box of baby-proofing safety gear sitting helpfully unopened on the table.  Right.

I tried distraction.  No good.  She would much rather play with the empty grocery bag with all of its choking, strangling and suffocating potential than the nice, safe sock monkey.
I tried scolding.  Too bad she thinks, "No, Lila!" is our new fun game.
I tried re-directing.  Also a fun game.  I can see the ticker-tape across her little brain, "When I crawl over here, Mama chases me and picks me up. FUN!"  Now she even stops halfway to her destination to turn around and grin at me.
I tried physical force (as in holding her down on the changing table when she tries to wiggle her little body into a dare-devilish dive onto the floor).  Turns out she's pretty strong.

Yeah, disciplining can come later.  I'm opting for keeping my child alive.  Next time you're over, check out our new "decorations."  Anyone have any ideas for making child-proof stuff look less blah?
Put those thinking caps on while I salt and pepper my latest meal: Humility a-la Baby Girl.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

First Day of School

Lila and I had our first day of school today. On a grading scale of A-F, I'd say the day started as a D- and ended as a B+. Things got off to a bad start early in the morning. And I mean early in the morning. As in 12:45 am when I awoke to a crying baby. After 30 minutes of having no luck getting her back to sleep, I rudely informed my sleepy husband that she was "his baby, too" and "suggested" that he take a shift trying to get her back to sleep. Of course, great guy that he is, he willingly got up for late-night daddy duty and I crawled back in bed.

Unfortunately, I'm blessed (cursed?) with the gift of supernatural mommy hearing and despite turning off the monitor, closing the bedroom door and covering my head with my blanket, I could still hear every distraught shout emitting from Lila's room. Long story short, an hour and a half later Lila was finally asleep again and I groaned as I looked at the clock that shone a green 2:25am. Baaaaaaahhh. So much for dedicating a good chunk of my holiday to getting my act together so I could get to bed on time and thus have that elusive "good night's sleep" before our first day.

Baby Girls seem equipped with a sixth sense of knowing when the most inconvenient time to stage a revolt might be. I can just see her sitting in her throne of a high chair, stroking her evil-looking kitty and staring at a high-tech screen that shows a calendar with the date "September 7th" circled on it saying, "The night before the first day of school? Perrrfect!"

ANYWAY. After hitting snooze twice and waking up with a total of 6 hours of sleep logged instead of the planned 8 hours, I stumbled into the shower (wasted a good 2 minutes staring into space holding the razor in my hand and had to settle for shaving only the bottom halves of my legs), dried my hair in a jiffy and actually made it out the door on time. Impressive, no?

So why the D-? Well, you see, Lila comes to school with me (we have a nursery for the teachers' kids - seriously, this is the best mommy job EVER) so I wanted to get there early to get her set up, get my classroom put together and be the smiling teacher every nervous 6-year-old wants to be greeted by at the door. So I pull into the parking lot an hour before school starts and at this point I'm still optimistic. I even snapped the iconic "first day of school shot" of Lila (check out her glazed over look as she attempted a bleary-eyed smile). However, after unloading and lugging a sleepy baby (who, by the way, I had to wake up in the morning after all those late-night shenanigans), a pack-n-play, 3 coolers (my lunch, Lila's lunch, and her bottles), all of my school stuff, a diaper bag, a bag of Lila's sleep stuff, and my purse up the ramp to the door, guess what? All the doors are locked. So there I am standing outside the school door, staring inside like a lonely bag lady. Good grief.

15 minutes later, already sweating, I'm rescued by our school's director who (hallelujah!) has a key. So now I'm down to 45 minutes and then I remember that I'm not allowed to park where I parked so I pass LJ off to some responsible kids, and run down the hall to move my car. 37 minutes. I sheepishly hand the childcare ladies my 3-pager about Lila's life story, set up her pack-n-play, kiss her bye-bye and run to set up my classroom. 20 minutes. (I should insert here the fact that I share my classroom with a sunday school class AND an after school program so it's always a bit of a treasure hunt trying to find where everything ended up in a week's shuffling.) The first kids arrive and I'm still scrambling to rearrange tables, set out nametags, and sort through the mass of papers I brought with me for parents to fill out. So much for being the in-control smiling teacher to put little first-graders at ease. They had to settle for frazzled and sweat-glistening. But hey, I'll smile for the photo opp anyway.

30 minutes into our day and I'm rambling to the kids about our greetings we'll do each morning when one cutie-pie pipes up, "What's a greet?" See now if only I had had the time to collect myself before the day started, I would have read through my first day lesson plan and remembered that I have to explain EVERYTHING the first day! Yes, I've been doing this for 6 years, but 6 years ago these students were Lila's age! (Oh geez, that reminds me. One of my students pointed out to me today that I was more than 20 years older than her. Thanks for that.)

So I stumble and bumble my way through a process that should definitely be a lot more graceful after 6 years of practice (but hey, I'm only on year one of being a teacher AND a mommy!), and finally get a break around 10:30 when I ship the kids off to PE. I check in with the childcare ladies, expecting to find a ready-to-eat Baby Girl who has just woken up from her nap (wait, I mean ready-to-eat in the sense that she's hungry, not in the sense that she's the one being eaten, although she did look especially scrumptious in her cute little first-day-of-school outfit). Instead, I'm told she just stopped yelling 5 minutes ago after a 30 minute nap-protest. You nursing mamas out there will know that this is not good news.

About that time, Little Sister calls and reminds me of her offer to pick Lila up from school if she's having a hard day and I tell her she might be the heroine of the day if Lila doesn't take a long enough nap. Fortunately, this is where things began to turn the corner from D- to B+. Lila slept an hour (she's been only giving me 45 minute whimpy naps at home recently), woke up ravenous and ate ALL the food I brought her for lunch (including the broccoli of which she had spit out every bite the night before), and was happy as a clam until my 1:00 break when I got to feed her, snuggle her and put her down for another hour-long nap! I also got my act together as teacher and had the kids at ease by the end of the day - with time to spare to pass out birthday treats for one of the kiddos and play Heads Up Seven Up! Howa-bout-that!

LJ and I came home from school and snuggled on the couch, the Husband ordered a pizza and I rewarded myself with a DP from QT for surviving the first day of school. Lila went to bed at 7:30, with nary a peep of protest cuz she was all tuckered out from the day's excitement. One day done, a whole year's left to go. When next Monday night rolls around, say a prayer for us. I have a sinking feeling we'll need it.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

We're Baaaaaack!

Hello over here! (That was for you, Uncle Kyle!) We have been crazy kids these last few weeks: jet-setting across the country to Denver for a wedding, 4 days home, then a drive to the great state of Minnesota with its lovely lakes, beautiful weather (although it was unseasonably warm this year), and dear friends and family. Also, IKEA. Mmmmm.

In all of our traveling adventures, we learned a few good lessons over the last few weeks which I would like to share with you.

Denver Lesson #1. 8-month-old Baby Girls are definitely too old to be sleeping in the same room as Mommy and Daddy. Side lesson: Eric and I aren't too sharp. It took us 3 nights to realize that Lila and Mommy in the same room didn't work. Lila woke up every 1.5 hours expecting a little snack and play time, and when put back in her crib, she complained noisily until Mommy was so deliriously tired that she foolishly complied and fed the girl. When I finally wised up and slept on the pull out in the other room, we got a solid 3 hours of sleep - whoopee! Night 4, both Eric and I slept on the pull out while Lila slept in the bedroom and guess what? She slept 8 hours! How 'bout that.

Denver Lesson #2. It's silly to use up precious luggage space on toys when there are wonderful things like remote controls to play with. Just try not to think about how many people's hands have been on it. Yucka.

Denver Lesson #3. When your grouchy (and sleep-deprived) kid is teething so you decide to give her Tylenol to help her feel better, don't - under any circumstances - force-feed it to her despite any "dramatic" gagging she attempts. It's not drama. She's actually gagging. She WILL throw up on you. And then you will feel like a horrible mom because you made your daughter puke and you will cry in the corner while your patient and loving husband launders your vomit-soaked jeans. True story.

Denver Lesson #4. It's impossible to get a good picture of five children when three of them are under the age of four. Best just to admit defeat and settle for the memory of kids dressed up cute for a wedding. (If you want to giggle a little bit, click on the pictures to see them bigger. There was one of the five who was feeling especially uncooperative that night. Can you guess who?)

Minneapolis Lesson #1. Night time is the time to travel by car for Baby Girls. I was worried she wouldn't sleep long in the car, but apparently with a full tummy and a fort-like apparatus fashioned with a blanket around her car seat, she must have thought her crib was equipped with a fancy vibrator. The only downside is Mommies and Daddies get sleepy when they drive at night. (Thank you Red Bull and Dr. Pepper!)

Minneapolis Lesson #2. There is a secret trick to giving exhausted parents a break when too much travel becomes overwhelming and a wiggly baby is just too much to handle. Her name is Nanny. I suggest anyone traveling with an infant bring along a grandparent as back-up. There is this thing about grandparents - they never tire of holding, playing with, and generally distracting their grand kids. It's like magic.

Minneapolis Lesson #3. Baby Girls like to stare at ice cream even if they can't eat it. Maybe that's why every little girl grows up into a woman with a weakness for it. (By the by, have you ever been to Crema on 34th and Lyndale? It's divine. Try the mango!)

Minneapolis Lesson #4. Always, always forego the pricey hotel room in favor of the home of a family member. Aunt Jill offered to host us in her awesome home for the weekend. Not only is it the cutest place I ever did see, it's also 3 blocks from Lake Harriet, has the perfect little Lila-sized walk-in closet for Baby Girl to sleep in, and she even gave up her oh-so-comfy Tempurpedic bed for us! Who needs an exercise room when you've got a beautiful lake to jog around? Who needs room service when your aunt makes you yummy tomato-mozzarella-basil salad with goods from her garden? Who needs an expensive hotel suite when Baby Girl is perfectly happy in the spacious closet-room? Huh? Who needs 'em? Not me! (You're the BEST Aunt Jill!)

If you hadn't guessed from the lessons learned, Minneapolis was a much more successful and enjoyable trip than Denver. But it's not Denver's fault that it was the guinea pig trip! In fact, Denver's lessons - learned from mishap, mistake and misery - paved the way for Minneapolis' more enjoyable lessons. Don't feel sad, Denver. Next time, we'll let you go second.

Really, both of our trips were wonderful, but we are glad to be home. I have spent the last week recovering in every way. My house, however, has not recovered from our return home. My sweet husband (who had to come back early from Minnesota to get back to work) cleaned the house so that I wouldn't have to come home to a disaster zone. Seven days later, you'd never know he put such work into it. My suitcase is still open - half unpacked - in our bedroom, Lila's toys are EVERYWHERE, and the broom hasn't seen the light of day in a week. But to my credit, Lila's naps are back on track, I've started making round two of Lila's meals (green beans, cherries, blueberries, and sweet potatoes this time), and school starts next week. Maybe if we're lucky, in the next seven days Franny's doggie hair clumps will be retrieved from the recesses of our living room. I wouldn't count on it, though.