Tuesday, December 30, 2008

So! Christmas!


I started this Christmas post earlier today during "nap" time but now I'm sitting here at my desk with both hands free for the first time in I don't know how long because Wesley is ASLEEP in his freaking BED. I KNOW! We'll see how long it lasts because Ryan is putting Charlie to bed right now and it sounds like there is an entire NBA team up there doing agility drills. But so far I haven't heard a PEEP on the monitor. NO PEEPS. All this is possible, by the way, because the other day I did a little redecorating and moved the crib into the guest room which has a door that closes. Totally worth the effort it took to remove the door from its hinges, shove Ryan's desk out into Wesley's former sleeping alcove, disassemble the crib, shove it into the guest room, reassemble it, and then re-hang the door (by myself). If you ask me. Now. I will continue to enjoy this free time while it still exists. And I am fully aware, this not being my first rodeo, that there will be many, many, false starts on the path to sleep training. And also that the first time Ryan goes on a business trip they will likely both mutiny/develop ear infections and refuse to sleep. But for now, typing, with two hands.

Back to Christmas!

Christmas was FUN! (because how many posts can you write about how little sleep you are getting, really?)

We went to church Christmas Eve. Charlie was a king and Wesley was an angel. Charlie got to go up to the front and stand in the choir loft with all the other little kings to listen to the Christmas story. Wesley got to stay with me and eat.

Angel and a King

More proof that he can sleep through anything besides night time. Wesley was not as impressed with his stocking as Charlie was with his. But you can see how cozy and relaxing he finds my side of the bed. And also that he is getting really cute.

Wesley stocking fun

Santa brought Charlie a FLASHLIGHT! He brought Ryan one too so he wouldn't be jealous.


And TRAINS! He couldn't believe it! Let that be a lesson to you, Santa is listening. Even if you clam up when you finally get the opportunity to ask him for more trains.

More trains!

I finished Wesley's blanket around 11:30 Christmas Eve. As you can see, it was a huge hit.

Wesley's new blanket

And the cousins got coordinating jammies for Christmas.


Then we had Christmas dinner at my aunt and uncle's. Charlie got to sit by his all-time favorite family member, Sarah, who gave up her usual Christmas plate and cup so Charlie could use it this year. Charlie didn't completely understand and repeatedly gestured at his mug and said "Mama coffee! Mama coffee!" That was a proud moment for me. This picture was taken about fifteen minutes before the meal. They were hungry.

Heads of the Table

And finally, Wesley was overcome by the excitement of the day and the large meal and had to lie down. I like to imagine him with football on in the background and his pants unbuttoned.

Pretty in Pink Wesley

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Irony can bite me

Wesley is not what you would call a good sleeper. Most nights he goes down between 9 and 10. Every night I think "Tonight's the night! He's going to skip a feeding tonight!" as I collapse into my bed. And every night I wake up to feed him at 1:00, 3:00, and 3:25 before finally giving up and bringing him into bed with me so I can hook him up to the all night drive up buffet. This pleases him greatly. He snuggles his warm little body into me and sighs contentedly before drifting off to dream-and-non-stop-eating land. It's cozy and idyllic for about ten minutes before I either get really really cold because I'm afraid to pull the covers past my hips for fear of smothering him or really really hot because I am cuddling with the human equivalent of a nuclear reactor. Fortunately I am so exhausted by doing this night after night for the last month or twelve that I usually don't have any trouble sleeping this way. Until he wiggles and grunts and pretends he's about to wake up. Which happens a lot.

So you can imagine my elation when I woke up last night at 1:15 to discover that he was STILL ASLEEP. Tonight! Is! The! Night! I was just about to fall back asleep when Charlie's cry jolted me out of bed. I ran down the hall to silence him before he woke Wesley up. I found his pacifier and Phent, settled him down and went back to bed. 1:30, more crying. This time Ryan and I both went to his room to find him standing in the middle of the floor pointing at a blank spot on his wall and wailing "Scary! Scary! Scary!" I picked him up and held him. I reassured him that there was nothing there. I bent over to lay him in his bed and he dug his little fingernails into the backs of my arms and started crying again.

I sat on the edge of his bed holding him and said to Ryan "REALLY? Wesley's going to sleep through the night and I STILL don't get to sleep? REALLY?!" I mean COME ON Universe!! Give me a $#@%ing break!

Charlie could not be consoled so he came into our bed where he made it clear that he was too scared to go back to sleep. Eyes half open I whispered to him that once he woke up the bad dream was all gone and it wouldn't be there if he went back to sleep. He allowed Ryan to take him back to his room whispering "Bad dream all gone" all the way. But he would only stay in bed if Ryan laid next to him on the floor.

Finally it seemed that Charlie was asleep. It was 2:30. I went to sleep. Then. "WAAAAAAAAAH!!!!" Charlie again. 3:00 I heard Ryan get up and close Charlie's door. Then I heard shuffling and grunting coming from Wesley's crib.

So I brought him into my bed. I wasn't able to get him back into the crib until 6:00. He woke up again at 7:30. We had plans at 8:30.

[sound of head pounding on desk in frustration]

Angel and a King
Partners in crime on their way to Bethlehem to honor the Newborn King

[By the way, Christmas was very very special and I will post about it as soon as I can focus my eyes again]

Monday, December 22, 2008


Since I (like you) have tired of looking for supporting examples and want nothing more than to put on some Christmas music (I'm looking at you Harry Connick Jr., oh yes I am) and drink egg nog with Charlie and Wes while we create beautiful Christmas decorations from Cheerios and discarded paper towel rolls, I will give you some pictures of our latest Magical Childhood Experience. As you know, a Magical Childhood Experience qualifies as such by ending with one or more participants crying, high as a kite on sugar, or dirty. Charlie was good and sugared up and ready for a bath after both nights of our cookie making.

Roll out the dough
First you roll out the dough and require several reminders that the rolling pin is not a musical instrument OR a weapon.

Mmmm, flour
Don't forget to eat plenty of flour.

Cutting them out
The fun part, making the shapes!

The really fun part, decorating! The more enthusiastic the sprinkling, the better, apparently.

The really really fun part, EATING!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Sunday Science Corner

A sentence I just found in my dissertation:

"These histograms add to the similarities that have already been observed between the five data sets. FIND SUPPORTING EXAMPLES!!!!!"

Uh, it's the thought that counts, right?


Also, don't tell my committee, but I just downloaded "Womanizer" by Britney Spears. I think it might put my PhD cantidate status in jeapordy.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The temperature climbed out the thirties yesterday so I was able to take a break from scratching tally marks on the wall above my bed and do some Christmas shopping. Hobby Lobby and Target weren't enough to send Charlie into a raging tantrum, even after getting stuck TWICE behind People Who Don't Speak English But Have A Million Questions And Are Oblivious to the Crying Children in your Cart (I'm not being snarky, this woman truly did not speak English, it was like Saturday Night Live), so after his nap I decided we should head to the outlet mall to look for coordinating pajamas for the entire family (the kids in the entire family...I will likely sleep in my clothes Christmas Eve having collapsed in a heap of tissue paper and tape and gift receipts and a half-finished dissertation homemade blanket for Wesley).

Everything was fine until it was time to depart from Gymboree (of the endless Thomas the Tank Engine video) for the second time. Charlie had been getting whinier and whinier (and even managed to convince me that he had dropped his bus, one of his favorite toys, in The Children's Place, despite me swearing that he had left it in the car. No bus and I still have no idea what he was talking about) and being ripped away from the TV for the second time that day was more than he could handle. I could tell he was disappointed, but he was handling it well, so when he showed interest in a coin operated firetruck outside the store I thought "What the heck?" and plopped him into the driver's seat, deposited the last of my toll-road quarters and pushed the button.

Immediately, he was The Happiest Toddler in the World. Pushing the siren button. Giggling. Beaming angelically up at me.

Then the ride stopped and he hopped out and headed for an airplane nearby. "Another one!" he said cheerfully as he started to climb in.

"Oh, sorry buddy, only one ride today!" I said I as I picked him up and put him back in the stroller.

It was as though I had slapped him. Huge, fat tears sprang to his eyes. He wailed all the way back to the car.

As it was happening I was confident that he was just overtired and hungry and having a tantrum. And it was a tantrum of sorts, but not the type of thing I was envisioning when I thought about The Terrible Twos. He wasn't being bratty, he was just crushed that he didn't get to go for another ride. CRUSHED. And that thought made me sad.

Obviously, I would never give in to such a display. And of course totally losing your stuff over a coin operated airplane at the mall is totally inappropriate behavior that should be discouraged. But he is only two! And once the initial smugness of knowing that I was maintaining calm and being firm just like Super Nanny says wore off, I started to feel kind of bad for him. Once he started to calm down I said "Did you have fun on the fire truck?"

"Yes" he said sniffing.

"You wanted to go on another ride, didn't you?"

"Yes" more sniffing.

"Well, riding the firetruck is a very special treat. You only get one ride. Maybe you can go again the next time we come here. Maybe you could show Papa the firetruck!"

Quietly, "Special treat".

Even though I know I wouldn't have changed anything about my reaction, I felt kind of bad about the whole thing all evening. Then this morning while he was eating breakfast Charlie said "Rode firetruck!"

"You got to ride a firetruck?"

"YEAH! Push button! Woo woo woo woo!" (there was a button to run the siren)

"Wow, that sounds like fun!"

"FUN!!! Rode firetruck! Button! Woo woo woo woo!"

I think he got over it.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Winter Wonderland? Pfft.

Ironically, we took advantage of the near seventy degree weather on Saturday to take Charlie ice skating. There is a grocery store downtown here that has a rink on their roof and that sounded so much more idyllic than going to the indoor ice rink. For some reason I was picturing Rockefeller Center as we got into the elevator in the parking garage. The rink wasn't quite as grand, but it served our purposes nicely. Ryan laced up Charlie's (tiny, adorable, double-bladed) ice skates and reminded him over and over that "These special shoes are hard to walk in and you're going to have to hold Mama's hand very tightly, OK?" I stood up and held out my hand and Charlie stood up and took off towards the ice by himself. Walking was not a problem. I stopped him just short of the ice to make him put on his bike helmet. Ryan thought I was being silly, but I have a very vivid memory of whacking the heck out of my head on ice when I was a little kid and it hurting for a long time. Sure enough, after a few laps Charlie fell and bonked his helmet-clad head on the wall on the side of the rink and laughed it off thanks to his over-protective mother.

We took turns holding Wesley while the other one took slow laps around the ice hunched over holding Charlie's hands while he slipped and slid and occasionally (very occasionally) actually skated. Every time he fell he said "COLD! COLDCOLDCOLD!!" and laughed. He loved it. So much fun.

Prepping for a triple-toe-loop

That was not a low-cut top when I left the house. It must have been feeding time. How many family holiday memory videos now feature my boobs, do you think?

Anyway, it's good we got out when we did because we now have three runny noses and with temperatures in the upper twenties and thirties with winter weather advisories (whatever that means) for the last two days we're not going anywhere. Not even Sonic! I haven't even gotten dressed yet and it's almost noon. Charlie went back to bed shortly after breakfast and Wesley and I dozed (and nursed, always with the eating, that kid) on the couch in front of The View. Ryan just called and he is bringing us lunch because we are so pitiful with our sniffing and sneezing and general moping around not getting dressed and not able to take anything for the congestion because we are all either under the age of five or breastfeeding.

Brothers in jammies
"Send help! We are prisoners of winter!"

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Away in a Manger

Saturday night we dressed the family in Old Testament garb for our church's annual live nativity. Ryan was Joseph, I was Mary, Wesley was Jesus, and Charlie was a shepherd. The plan was that we would sit together in the manger with five or six live goats while a narrator read the Christmas Story and played music.

To summarize: Charlie, live animals, fifteen long minutes.

Because an entourage is not mentioned in any of the Gospels, we decided that Ryan, Wesley, and I should go out first, like in the script, and then Charlie should come along with the shepherds when it was their turn. Fortunately one of the other shepherds was a friend of mine and she agreed to keep an eye on Charlie.


So, Ryan and I went out there holding Wesley and sat on a bale of hay. As instructed, Ryan and I smiled and looked at each other or at Wesley. Finally the shepherds came into the manger, Charlie with my friend, walking nicely. They were to stand and adore the baby for a few minutes while the narrator continued the story then walk back and sit on the side of the stable. Charlie broke free from my friend and walked around the stable performing important shepherding jobs like petting the goats and feeding them hay. One of the other shepherds retrieved him before they left the manger and I lost track of him for a while.

I went back to doing my Mary jobs: gazing at the baby, smiling lovingly at Ryan, and nodding at the Three Wise men and the Three Kings who came to visit the newborn King. And also, firmly holding the pacifier in Wesley's mouth. Apparently they didn't do nursing tunics in first century Nazareth. I started to wonder what Charlie was up to and when I discretely broke character for a moment to look for him I found him wandering around in front of the stable petting the goats, holding out huge handfuls of hay for them, and playing with some Christmas lights on a fence in front of the stable. There was nothing I could do (nowhere in the Gospels does it say Mary threatened one of the shepherds with a time out and loss of Curious George watching privileges) so I was relieved when one of the other shepherds snuck out and led him back to the group.

Wesley is in there somewhere

Fortunately he was pretty mellow for the rest of the show and didn't actually try to EAT the hay until later when my mom took him to the petting zoo area. He washed it down with some hot cocoa and was as good as new. When my mom asked him how he liked being a shepherd, Charlie said "Sheep soft! Eat grass!"

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

How to get yourself taken out for donuts, a guest post by Charlie

1. Lay groundwork the night before by secretly slipping your younger brother espresso or other stimulant immediately before "bedtime"

2. Drink the last of the milk so Mama can't have coffee at home (This is the most important step)

3. Coordinate fits of hysterical crying for no reason with brother for 7:45, 8:13, 8:39, and 9:17

4. "Help" unload the dishwasher

5. "Help" sort the miscellaneous kitchen tools in the drawer

6. Compose, rehearse, and perform Tupperware and Wooden Spoon symphony in the middle of the kitchen floor

7. Feign autism when asked to help clean up

8. Plug in the Christmas tree

9. Lose Phent approximately eleven thousand times

10. Help younger brother "get cozy" by covering him with warm blankets. Multiple warm, adult-size blankets.

11. Help younger brother prepare for the rigors of space travel by enthusiastically pushing the swing

12. Become entrapped in younger brother's bouncey seat, scream as though missing a limb

13. Stick hand down pants, look innocent, report findings--"Poop?"

14. Suddenly begin behaving adorabley, play quietly and independently for several minutes, then find Mama and ask "Hug please?"

15. Stand by door to garage repeating "Special treat please? Special treat please?"

Ready to Go
Partners in crime.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Exhaustion and Dehydration

Wesley is sick. He has RSV, which is just a fancy name for ass-kicking cold with cough and the inability to sleep for more than four consecutive minutes. There's nothing they can do to help him so this not-sleeping, barely-eating, hacking, gagging carosel of fun should last until Wednesday at least, at which point you will find me wandering in the street half-dressed and trying to bite my own ear (Also, soaked from head to toe in spitup. He may be small, but he's got a projectile spitup that could put out a house fire). He is miserable, the poor little guy.

Also, I have found the absolute bottom as far as mommy-guilt goes... it's thinking about your sick infant "Would you please just go to sleep so I can finish these stupid revisions and get on with my life?" Speaking of revisions, I better get right on that. Because I need to finish this ridiculous project even more than I need a shower, or rest, or fun of any kind.

In summary: Blurgh.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Making it (Also, could I have mentioned comfort food more times in one post? Probably not)

One time during undergrad I was sitting in a lecture for my Control Theory class (scintillating!) when the professor stopped mid sentence, looked right at me, and said "You look very weary." I don't remember the exact circumstances, but I think I had just returned from a 2-week field project for my research job and was spending every waking minute trying to catch up on all I had missed. Usually this meant sacrificing one class for another, turning in a whole problem set in one class and half in another one week, then reversing that the next week, carefully balancing the work so I could get the best possible grades in all of my classes. It meant living in the computer lab where I worked, coming home at two o'clock in the morning to fall into bed only to wake up at 7:30 to do it all over again. It helped that most of my professors knew me well and I had spent the first three years of college building up a good enough reputation that I could engage in a little professor-sanctioned class skipping when things got to be too much. Usually I spent this time doing self indulgent things like taking a shower or finishing my homework for my next class (while eating my favorite snack in the Student Union--a chocolate doughnut and a huge cup of OJ with ice, how did I not weigh nine-hundred pounds?). As usual, I was probably overcommitted, but in those days I knew all I had to do was keep up the frenetic pace until Christmas or Thanksgiving break when I could go home to my parents' house and be taken care of for a week or two.

After travelling for Thanksgiving with a sick toddler, and spending a week at home with a sick toddler and a sick infant and a husband who is here as much as humanly possible but who has a huge deadline at the end of December and having a huge deadline at the end of December myself, I am once again feeling (and looking I'm sure) very weary and wishing sometimes that I could leave it all behind for two weeks at Christmas Break. But that would mean missing out on taking Charlie to "Breakfast With Santa" tomorrow at church (He's going to ask for more train tracks. Or he might become overwhelmed and start sobbing like last year, it's a coin toss).

Fortunately, I am being well taken care of. Ryan encouraged me to go sneak in a shower Wednesday night and when I came downstairs he had set up the Christmas tree, turned on nice music, and poured me a glass of egg nog (that was one long shower). He has promised to eat cookies and watch White Christmas with me on Saturday like I used to do with my friend Godmother before we moved. My dad comes over several days a week to watch Wesley so I can work; today he even brought coffee cake. I am so grateful to have such a wonderful family (and also: the Folgers).

Now, dissertation time... and I can type with TWO HANDS.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A real cry for help of a blog post

This worked so well getting Wesley to calm down:

Whatever Works

That I thought I'd try it on my grumpy toddler:

Not to be Outdone

It did not have the same effect. Although apparently the washing machine makes a very satisfying noise when it is kicked repeatedly (by Charlie, I only kick it after everyone is in bed).

Anyone want to come over for the two boy production of "Les Miserables"? Not the epic French novel set during the Revolution, the epic WHINING FEST that began at approximately 6:30 this morning and has not stopped yet.

Someone needs to tell Charlie the story of the Boy Who Cried Wolf so that next time he bumps his head hard enough to give him a bruise I respond accordingly instead of chirping "Oops! OK, into the carseat! We're going to storytime!!"

Did I mention that Ryan is working late today? Until after bedtime? Lucky %$@#ing bastard.