4.27.2011

guest post #6 teaching another human how to sleep

And now, a guest post from Becca, a dear friend of mine from college (Westmont, woot woot!) and current blogger extraordinaire. Find her further confessions of a mama-in-training at www.whileyouwerenapping.com. 

I love sleep. I love everything about it. I love going to bed early on the weekends (yes! I am that strain of nerdy) with cool sheets, clean jammies, and a mountain of pillows behind my head. I love waking up early and staying in bed to read until a disgraceful amount of time has passed and the dog is whining to be let outside. And don’t even get me started on naps! Do you remember those glorious Friday afternoon naps in college? People, I got mono during my junior year of college, and secretly I didn’t mind because I got to nap often and without guilt. I love to sleep.

So when you have a baby, sleep suddenly becomes a major talking point. Sleep, diapers and paying for college. These are the trifecta of topics that strangers will bring up with you once the child is born. That, and pacifier use. But everyone loves to talk about sleep, specifically, how little sleep you may or may not be getting.

I was one of the lucky ones. “Hi baby,” strangers would coo at my darling ball of a boy. “Are you letting your mommy sleep?”
“Actually yes! He’s been sleeping through the night since he was six weeks old.” I would smile and then continue on with false modesty. “He really taught himself how to do it. I can’t take any credit for it.”

But, dear reader, do you want to know the truth? In my heart of hearts, I totally took credit for it! My boy, Cruz, was a great sleeper because I was a great mom. Right?

Then he turned four months old, and suddenly my Sleep Prince was a Sleep Bandit.
...but a really CUTE sleep bandit.
I was a lost ship, set adrift in a sea of wakefusdfjsfj g

Sorry. That was my head hitting the keyboard as I fell asleep writing this.

Days without sleeping through the night turned into weeks turned into months. And at this point I find myself with two options:

Option 1: Try to teach another human how to sleep.

Option 2: Hire a nice college student to pull all of her all-nighters in my son’s room.

Like Hermione Granger, I have never found a problem that can’t be solved by a trip to the library, and no tiny baby is going to prove me wrong. I armed myself with a stack of books, spent the last week speed- reading them, and have come to the definitive conclusion that these “experts” are full of seemingly obvious advice.  I am reading these books because I am having trouble convincing my son to sleep through the night. I’m fairly certain that if “shushing” him from across the room were going to do the trick, it would have already happened. Standing next to the crib “shushing” a fussy baby at 3am seems like it will be as effective as that “focus picture” I was supposed to use to take my mind off the pain during labor.
[Insert hilarious and knowing laughter]

There are two great results of sleep training so far. The first is that it actually seems to be working. Cruz sleeps longer, and with less and less intervention. The second is that I get to do a big dramatic wake-up routine when it’s actually time to get out of the crib. As soon as I hear those happy babbles over the monitor (and it’s after 6:30am!), I creep into his nursery, strike a pose, and jazz hands the heck out of our good morning cheer. “You did it! It’s time to wake up! It’s time to play! Yay!”

It still seems strange that I need to teach someone how to do such a basic thing. But if I get more sleep and a happy baby  (and again, can’t say too much about jazz hands) out of this experiment, then it’s certainly a first I’ll repeat over and over.
High five for sleeping!

4.25.2011

#52 getting showered for baby

Last week, Arabella and her planning team (or committee, for you church folk out there) threw Jeff and me the most amazing baby shower of my life. In fact, it was probably the best baby shower of your life too.  Here's some proof:


1. The theme was an Alice in Wonderland tea party, which would have been enough in itself to make me happy. I love Alice in Wonderland, even though when I was very young I was ill one day and my dad rented it for me and I watched it three times in one sitting so he bought it for me and when he proudly presented the purchased copy, instead of thanking him I told him I was sick of that movie and never wanted to watch it again. I'm sorry, Daddy and Alice in Wonderland. I was so wrong and so spoiled. And I'm sorry, English language, for that run-on back there.
2. It looked like the Mad Hatter himself had decorated. There were vintagey playing cards, old Alice prints, colorful tablecloths, topsy turvy vases made out of piles of teacups, signs that pointed to places like "yonder," bright hanging paper balls, and bubbles whenever people chose to contribute to the decor and blow them.
3. Arabella provided accouterments for us - a Mad Hatter's hat for Jeff and an adorable Red Queen's crown for me. This was exciting both because I got to wear a crown and because I've never used the word accouterments before.
4. Chadley played some kind of opera or something the whole time. It made the whole event feel rather epic.
5. The food was delicious and themey too. There were plenty of tea sandwiches made by Sissy and Tiffany, delicious chicken and pineapple made by my future BIL (that's brother in-law), and Arabella made colorful sweets too. My favorites were the swirly lollipops with Eiley written on them. We saved the extras after the party so we can hand them out whenever Eiley decides to make an appearance. The hospital staff will think I am a Martha Stewart kind of crazy. (My apologies to any mothers who personalized candy to hand out at the birth of their child. I meant crazy in a good way.)
6. Arabella also made a video for us with greetings from Zoe and Mikkele and my parents. She added music and kind words and edited it like a professional emotional puppetmaster. She only got a few tears out of me, but, in her words, she "made Jeff cry like the baby girl he's expecting." 
7. We got presents. That's always fun, even when the presents are things like bottles and bibs. Jeff and I were so grateful for this community of generous friends, and I do so enjoy ripping paper. 
Me and Arab
Photo credit: Ashley Manning
In conclusion, this first was surprisingly delightful!

4.18.2011

#51 dyeing a dress (or: making a dress to dye for)

*I promise, there is only one other dye pun in here.*


My sister, Jenna, is getting married! She met the love of her life last year, and they're looking forward to getting hitched here in Virginia in July. They've already started planning the wedding, and one decision they made is a general color scheme - basically a rainbow sherbet of yellow, pink, orange, and aqua. Sissy (which is what started out as a joke nickname, but I now just call her) has a good idea of the style of bridesmaids dresses she'd like her girlz (that z was intentional, thank you) to wear too - knee length, cotton summer dresses. In conclusion, we have officially made it nearly impossible to find coordinating dresses. 


The good news is that Sissy is a genius and realized that it would be easy to find white knee length, cotton summer dresses, and she figured out that we could dye them. So we went to Rit's website (that's a fabric dye company, for those of you who, like a week ago me, didn't know) and discovered that not only do they have an array of color options, they also have dye recipes, so we can get uber specific. You people may not be excited, but we were wholly thrilled. So thrilled, in fact, that we could not wait to try our experiment out.


On Saturday, a mere two days after our fashion epiphany, we went to Old Navy and Sissy bought an adorable white dress. We forgot to take a before picture, and Old Navy doesn't have it on their website, but it was straight up white like snow or a lamb or the dude that plays that funky music.


We took it back to her place, and I started dyeing while she slaved away making food for my baby shower. Basically, I put super hot water in a plastic tub, poured in half the bottle of dye, stirred, then added the dress. The instructions said to "continuously agitate the garment for 30 to 60 minutes," so I started yelling obscenities at the tub, but I ran out of things to say after like a minute and decided to try stirring it instead. Stirring a pot of clothes made me feel like Charlie's mom in that one really boring song that I always skip from the 70s Willy Wonka. So that was new too. Never felt like her before.
Sidenote: We tried not to get any of this in the food Sissy made.
We didn't want anyone
dyeing from it. Har.
After a half hour, I rinsed out the dress and ran it through the washer and then the dryer. This required patience, which was lame. But it was worth it! Check out the finished product:
Wouldn't you just swear that this came in this color?!
And isn't Sissy adorable?!
This is a first that I will definitely repeat. You know, because we're going to do this for the dresses for the wedding. So fun!

4.15.2011

#50 getting my blood drawn four times in one day

This first combined two things I hate: Needles and even numbers. I guess I should be thankful that they didn't have a clown taking my blood.

So, I'm pregnant (in case you somehow missed that) and it turns out being pregnant is strikingly similar to being a lab mouse. This week's test was for gestational diabetes. I admit, I don't fully understand what the ramifications will be if I am diagnosed with that; however, I
do know that the test ruined the first half of my week.

For three days before the test, I was on a special high carb, high sugar diet. Sounds kind of fun, right? Wrong. Being
forced to eat a dozen cupcakes in three days is not awesome. I started to resent them, and it's never good to feel such emotions toward inanimate objects. Especially inanimate objects that have sprinkles.

The night before the test, I had to fast starting at midnight. Don't worry, I had a snack at 11:45. The day of the test, we arrived at the doctor's office ready to go. The lab tech took my blood, then I drank an orange, syrupy drink, and then we waited. I won't bore you with the whole four hour visit. Here are highlights:

  • Due to my lack of caffeine, I may have been less than cordial to the first nurse we saw. Sorry, lady! I adjusted my attitude after meeting with her, but I still feel medium bad.
  • I usually lay down for anything with needles. Well, I did so well with the first blood draw, I decided to be brave and sit in a chair for the second one, like the rest of the grown ups.
  • I learned my lesson and laid down for blood draws three and four.
  • I had four different nurses ask if I'd left a urine sample. These people really should work on their small talk.
  • I'm rocking some track marks. I'm so street, yo.
  • Okay, it doesn't look quite this bad.
    Courtney enhanced the ugly for dramatic effect.
  • Man, chicken nuggets and diet coke taste good when you haven't eaten in 12 hours.
In conclusion, this is a first I do not want to repeat. Ever. Good grief. This child better be freaking adorable.

4.13.2011

rerun #1 panic attack in a kayak

For our second anniversary, Jeff and I were in Naples, Florida visiting his Aunt Rose Mary and generally just hanging out. We thought it would be romantic to take a peaceful kayak ride through the mangroves in Clam Bay. It was a hot day, so a water sport would be the perfect solution. Plus, we were able to rent the kayak for free through Rose Mary's membership at Pelican Bay, a chichi community in Naples.


We hopped in the kayak and pushed off. It was slow-going, hot, and sticky, but still rather peaceful. We went north first and found a lot of open water, which was easy to navigate but provided no shade from the hot sun and wasn't terribly interesting, so we headed back to the dock and grabbed our camera that we'd left there. While we were on land, I noticed a horrible, black, spider-like creature quickly creeping on the side of the dock. It stayed a safe distance away though, so I commented on it and moved on. Heart rate: Normal.


We pushed off again, this time headed south into the mangroves. Again, it was totally peaceful. I kind of felt like we were in Brazil or Costa Rica or the Jungle Cruise. It was cooler in the shade, and I was relaxed. I paused for a while and Jeff took over the rowing and steering.


Side note: It's really not the best idea to wholly give steering over to the person in the back of the boat who can't totally see what's going on. What happened next was not Jeff's fault.


I looked up and noticed that we were headed straight toward an overhanging branch. This concerned me. Then I saw one of those aforementioned horrible, black, spider-like creatures scurrying down said branch, obviously preparing himself for a direct hit to my face if we kept going the same direction. Heart rate: So not normal. I started screaming, thrashing my oar in the water, at the branch, at the kayak, at myself, at Jeff. Still screaming, I seriously weighed my options - should I let this thing eat my face off or should I jump in the water and let an alligator eat my legs off? More screaming, more thrashing, a tilt of the kayak, and then we were out of harm's way, face and legs still intact.


Some observations:
1. I wish someone had filmed me. I would have been a youtube sensation.
2. I was holding our digital camera the whole time and dunked it in the water in the midst of my panic attack. Jeff had that camera for four years, and I killed it. I blame the eight-legged monster.
3. It took me approximately 30 minutes to come down from that. There were tears, shaking, and a smidge of hyperventilating. Good workout.
4. This turned out to be one of the least romantic things we did that whole weekend. And that includes the few hours we spent watching reruns of Hannah Montana.
5. Turns out it was a harmless crab.
Does this look remotely harmless to you?!
Photo credit: www.greennature.com
In conclusion, I think Panic Attack in Kayak would make a great band name. You are welcome to use it.

4.12.2011

#49 spelling JEFF in pancakes

I have a long, sweet history with pancakes.

As a child, my dad would make pancakes often. They were usually awesome and shaped like Mickey or Minnie. My great grandma, Mudder, made thin pancakes and slathered them in butter and poured buttery syrup on top. Lethal. (I'm just now realizing that those were probably Swedish pancakes, which is one of my Mother-in-Law's many specialties.) Even my mom could make pancakes, which was a feat. She is absolutely an amazing mother, but cooking was never her strength, unless you count popping popcorn. She's a talented popcornista.

As an adult, I still love pancakes. Mikkele and I used to have Pancake Mondays, which was actually only one Monday, followed by a Pancake Tuesday the next week, followed by an end to that tradition. But this gem came out of one of those evenings:
We dubbed it pancake surprise. (Shhh...the surprise was blueberries.) It looks horrifying, but I promise it was delicious.

In addition to making pancakes, we enjoyed finding various pancake establishments in the Costa Mesa area. Chester Drawers Omelette Parlor was a favorite (R.I.P.), but the surprising winner was Pancakes R Us. It's in an old IHOP building, but it's independently owned, which somehow had a very ghettofying effect. The pancakes were amazing, but even more amazing was our waitress who made some wildly inappropriate comments throughout our evening. I'm having trouble remembering exactly what she said, but there was something about her ex-husband and at one point she grabbed a roll of her fat and said, "paid by the pound!" and cackled and we all kind of stared at her in horror. (Update: Mikkele just reminded me that we documented this madness. Please go here for the full story http://starsareawake.blogspot.com/2008/05/last-week-my-roommate-and-i-were.html.)

Anyway, back to my first. I still make pancakes all the time here. There's nothing faster, cheaper, and more delicious than a good breakfast for dinner. I do not, however, usually personalize the pancakes. This is what I did last week: 
My pancake penmanship could use a lot of work, but it made Jeff guffaw (and that's not a word I just throw out lightly), and I'm certain it tasted delicious, so I'm claiming this first as a success. 

4.09.2011

#48 blogging semi-consistently for an entire year

Happy anniversary, blog. You are inanimate and thusly incapable of emotion, but hey, congratulations anyway. 

In honor of this thrilling occasion, I have decided to make some blogular goals for the pending year. Ready? Go!

1. Start using correct capitalization. This is lame, but I promise it's a semi-rational decision. I figure that it has always been a dream of mine to write for a living, and perhaps blogging could be a way to start, and perhaps if I wanted to show my blog to a potential employer of some sort, I should demonstrate a slightly more comprehensive command of the English language. There are a lot of perhapses in there, but a girl has to try. 
2. Attempt to get more guest bloggers. I love writing, but I also love editing want this to be a forum for others to share their firsts. So let me know if you'd be willing to bust out a post. 
3. Post more often. Lofty goal time! Let's go with three posts per week. I should be able to do this with a combination of regular firsts, guest posts, and a new segment I'll call Reruns (memories of past firsts - don't worry, I'll keep these clean). 

That is all. Questions? Complaints? Offers to write a guest blog? Leave a comment below.

4.06.2011

#47 finding new uses for my stomach

just six months ago, i was only able to use my stomach as a washboard*. now i've discovered myriad new uses for this sucker. here's a top five:


1. arm rest. to be specific, an arm rest for myself, not others. seriously, where did i previously rest my arms? i think my lap, but if i try to do that now, my hands disappear and it looks like i'm a toddler who has to pee.
2. pillow. to be specific, a pillow for buster. this tends to make eiley move a lot. i can't decide if she's trying to hug her puppy back or if she's kicking him off of her or if she just happens to feel like doing some gymnastics every time buster hangs out here. i'll ask her whenever i get a chance and she's less fetusy.
3. hand magnet. okay, this hasn't been nearly as bad as i've read it can be. so far i have only had one stranger touch my belly. i thought i'd be totally okay with it because i'm absolutely fine with people i know touching it, but really, it was weird. in the future, i will touch the stranger's stomach in return and tentatively ask what we're doing.
4. table. very handy.
5. rationalizer. angry prospective student in the admissions office? send me in! who's going to yell at a pregnant chick? (okay, i actually have an answer for that rhetorical. he was a pastor named chuck, and he yelled at me for asking him to complete a one page form. that was, however, three months ago - my stomach was not up to its full hypnotic power yet.) for the most part, people try to be nice to me when we're face to stomach face, so they actually think rationally before they speak. amazing.



*that was a joke. i have never had washboard abs. i will never have washboard abs. i kind of think washboard abs look creepy on most women. 

4.05.2011

#46 writing a song

there are many talented songwriters in my life. my friend katie wrote an impressive ditty about a crush she had on a boy at the ymca once, and it moved me. my co-worker, thomas-steele, has recently mastered the auto tuner and writes what are sure to be future dance hits. (my personal favorite is "fish nuggets.") and (seriously now) my little brother, steven, is absolutely gifted in writing songs of worship. so i thought i'd give it a shot, if only for one evening.


this was not a successful first, for many reasons:
1. the lyrics are ridiculous.
2. the tune is atrocious.
3. i use the word "modicon," when i meant "modicum." turns out modicon is both the name of the first programmable logic controller and an oral contraception. either way, i have idiot moments at 0:59 and 1:04. 


a more dignified blogger would not post this. but i say dignity shmignity! this song is entitled "it won't tune." enjoy?


video