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well, K and I finally made it for a weekend trip to visit the fabulous Clare and her hubs at Big Table Farm. AND we went without kids.
as in: sleeping all night, without interruption. sleeping in past 6:30 in the morning. lounging about, reading. having long conversations. staring into the fire. basically, sitting on my ass for extended periods of time doing nothing, and other similar activities which are impossible with children in the house.
it was lovely. cold. actually, freezing-ass cold, but wonderfully restorative to body and soul.
one huge bonus feature was that there were FOUR puppies in residence. 7-week-old puppies. the level of cuteness was truly breathtaking.
here are some shots:
One set of Elsa’s godparents are the excellent Q and G.
They are Jewish, and to my great delight they are taking their godparent role quite seriously and exposing Elsa to the Jewish religion and culture. (J and S (Kris’s kiddos) are actually half Jewish, so we’ll have plenty of reason to continue this wonderful tradition.)
So, this week we went to their house after dinner one night for a lighting of the Hanukah candles and a (very brief) story about the oil lasting for 8 days… pretty sure little of it sunk in (except the part of the evening when there were cookies shaped like dreidels). But it was the first of – I hope – many opportunities.
In just a few hours I’ll be taking off for a romantic weekend away in Mendocino, a tiny little village on the Northern Coast of California with very little activity.
No kids. No computers. No work. 48 hours with no plans.
I’m excited about our fabulous cozy accommodations in a B&B with an attached spa. And sleeping for hours without interruption by children. I’m excited about checking out the renowned Cafe Beaujolais, walking distance from our B&B. And then sleeping in the next day. And wine, probably lots of it (including one top-secret bottle that K keeps gloating about having procured for this weekend… she swears it’s going to knock my socks off, which is kind of hard to do with wine, so I’m really curious what she has up her sleeve).
I’m excited about the chance to sit and read in front of a fire. And a picnic and a walk on the beach.
I’m excited about, have I mentioned?, sleeping in…
It all just sounds like pure heaven.
Owen (or as Elsa would pronounce it, “Ohwie”) and his parents are some of our favorite folks. Nell and Earl are old friends of mine, and graciously agreed to be one set of Elsa’s godparents.
I shared a nanny with them for a year or so, and as a result Elsa and Owen became practically siblings – they were together 5 days a week for the whole day. While the new(ish) preschool situation is better for her social development (and my budget), Elsa misses Owen terribly. She asks for him all the time. And I miss seeing Nell and Earl as regularly as I used to. But at least they are – or have been – close by enough for spontaneous get-togethers. This morning we dropped by to play and I was so touched by the display of outright joy that Elsa and Owen show when they get to see each other.
I’m extraordinarily proud that Earl has been appointed by President Obama to a high-level role in the administration. But I am also so very sad that they are moving to DC as a result.
Elsa is not going to understand why we can’t just go over and see Ohwie on the weekend anymore. I’ll understand it, but I won’t like it.
I was talking to someone the other day who I don’t see often, but used to know well. She is a perfectly fine person, and very nice. She does not have kids.
Anyway, the thing is – I was complaining about (surprise!) Elsa’s current crazy sleeplessness… the multiple awakenings in the night and (especially) the pre-dawn wakeup calls.
And she said that I should simply say to Elsa – kindly yet firmly – that: “It is not time to wake up now. Mommy is tired and still sleeping and you need to go back to sleep”.
I thought my head was going to explode.
Do I look like a frickin moron?!? Do you think I haven’t tried that? Do you think I haven’t tried every possible thing I can think of to fix the situation? Including the most obvious and easy fricking solution which you have so cleverly offered up to me?
Plus, have you ever MET my child (in this case – yes, she has)? Elsa is one of the most willful persons on the planet… if she wants to get up, a nice little statement like that isn’t going to do squat. Or – for that matter – how well do you even know any 2 or almost-3 year olds? They are not big on just listening to reason in the middle of the night, or at most times of the day, for that matter. They certainly don’t give a shit if mommy is tired.
Ugh. I mean, yeah, I’m bitchier than normal right now – what with the lack of sleep and all – but I seriously thought my head was going to explode.
And I realized, in a moment of horrifying clarity, that I probably had given similarly worthless (and yet so very condescending!) advice back before I had Elsa. More than once.
To anyone who had to hear me pontificate about how to (easily, of course) have perfectly-behaved children in any given situation: I am so very sorry.
Part of the reason I am so cranky about the random light theft is that I’m cranky in general. I am sleep-deprived and therefore ready to lash out at just about anyone about anything. Unlike many people, I absolutely need 8 hours of sleep a night – really, at a minimum. And lately I’m not getting anywhere near that.
(Yeah, I just got back from vacation a week ago, but let me tell you, it doesn’t take long to go into negative sleep territory when your child has launched a full-on sleep strike.)
Elsa has been sleeping well for months. Really, no complaints.
Until this week. She is now refusing to go to sleep for at least an hour, sometimes more, after I put her down, she wakes up in the middle of the night every night for about 45 minutes to an hour, and then wakes up crazy early every day. And it’s getting worse.
Here are her wake-up times this week: Sunday, 5:00. Monday, 5:30. Tuesday, 5:15. Weds, 5:00. Thurs, 4:15. And today, 3:45. Sweet Jesus. We are talking WIDE awake, ready for the day, and insisting on getting up.
Nothing else has changed – she has the same nap schedule as always, same bedtime as always, etc. What the hell is going on? Somebody tell me how to stop this horrible progression.
I am frustrated and exhausted. I’m getting maybe 5 hours of sleep, which is OK for a night or two, but this many days in a row it makes me start to break down.
Today I actually cried (pathetically, to myself) after 45 minutes of negotiations with Elsa (AKA her yelling “Mama I’m done!” from her room and me alternatively ignoring her, which caused her to escalate into hysterics, and then cracking and yelling “It’s not morning yet – PLEASE go back to sleep!” from my room, about 20 million times and/or going to her room and telling her sternly that it was still night time) failed to work and she was absolutely refusing to go back to sleep. If I were a prisoner of war, I would have signed any confession they put in front of me to get just one more hour of sleep.
I have to work, so naps are not an option. Have been trying to get to bed earlier, but work and life obligations make that tough to do. Even when I get there kind of early, my brain won’t turn off.
I’m having a little pity party that I don’t have the kind of parent who will take the grand-kid for a night. Right now I would pay almost any price for one night’s solid sleep and the ability to wake up whenever I am ready.
I know parents of newborns do this all the time. And some parents handle much more than this, with grace and good attitudes. They are obviously made of stronger stuff than I.
Right now I’m mainlining caffeine and trying not to think about what the weekend holds.
I’ve leaving for vaca tomorrow morning.
It’s a bit after nine, and I am so tired I can barely keep my eyes open. So I think I’ll write a long boring post about my day, m’kay?
Today was my last full day with Elsa before I leave, and boy did we have fun. Up at the regular butt-crack of dawn (6:01 to be precise), we had a mini-breakfast (whole grain cheerios and milk eaten with a regular spoon – a new skill for her, and she still gets more milk on the table than into her mouth) then headed off to the farmer’s market, where we grazed our way though – basically extending the breakfast experience for at least another hour. Elsa ate a plum, half a blueberry muffin, and what had to be a half a pound of samples of peaches, nectarines, and pluots. The girl likes her stone fruit. I had some stone fruit samples too, but held out for my favorite – the dim sum booth. Got myself some crab crispy thingies, some chicken potstickers, and some scallion cakes. (I know that’s weird for breakfast but it is so freaking good.) Also got some yummy sesame balls for later in the day. We scored a big bag of cherries, some oatmeal-peanut butter-choc chip cookies, and a gorgeous focaccia covered in garlic, chard, tomatoes and cheese.
We stopped off at home to throw some stuff in the fridge and grab some supplies, then back in the car (along with the cherries and the focaccia) and we were off to the beach to visit Helga and her family. It was great to see her – I love her dearly and it’s been too long – and her kiddos, along with her brother’s family and her mom. And – ta da! – her new FIANCE! She’s been with him for a while, and they are so great together. I’m thrilled they are getting hitched, and so happy to see her so happy.
Elsa, as usual, was upset at the idea of the ocean, but eventually we coaxed her down onto the sand and she forgot to be scared. We had a great time. She built her first sand castle. Back up to the beach house for a quick shower then lunch for everyone then we headed home. Elsa conked out in the car but (thank goodness) didn’t protest at all when I transferred her into her bed, where she slept for another 2 hours! Woot!
After nap we went to hang out in my friend Erin’s backyard. Very lovely Sunday afternoon-ish time of doing nothing, really, but watching Elsa cruise around and chase the dog (and vice versa), nibble on cheese and olives and guacamole and chips, and grilled corn on the cob (yum!) and chat. Erin and her sig other John are great with Elsa and she really likes them. Of course, I do too.
Then we came home and Elsa “fixed” my hair – this is comprised of her pretending to braid it, and mostly just yanking on it, and occasionally congratulating me on not crying, and then at the end, pronouncing me “so beautiful”. We folded laundry (she chants “corner to corner” whenever folding – so cute) and I let her put away her own things (God knows where I will find them). Then a very tired and yet happy little kiddo went down without a fight and is now sleeping soundly.
I need to do laundry, and pack, and check in for my flight online (which is the whole reason why I picked up my laptop and somehow got distracted by my blog), and organize the schedule for the babysitter and write checks for the cleaning lady and the gardener, and download books to my iPad and God knows what else before I go to sleep.
Tomorrow we will have the regular morning routine, then I’ll have about an hour after Elsa goes to school before I take off for the airport. And by this time tomorrow, I’ll be (I hope) sitting outside enjoying the balmy evening and looking forward to sleeping in for the first time in months…
Elsa and I are back from a short road trip down to Monterey to the aquarium. We had a blast. Sure, partially it was terrific because I fell off – way off – the no-carb wagon (my roadtrip rules include no food rules). But mostly because it was just really fun. We went with my friend K and her two kiddos who are 3 and 5 – and whom Elsa (and I) really enjoy.
Can’t really say much about the aquarium because Elsa totally melted down about 10 minutes in and we had to go back to the hotel for an unscheduled (and desperately needed) nap. But here’s a nice picture.
But, the point is, even given that we essentially missed the big attraction that was the point of the whole trip, we had a terrific time.
I’ve always noticed what a big big difference it makes to have one other adult around – so much more fun and relaxing, even if there are many more kids in the mix. And that fun/relaxing factor goes way up when the other adult has a similar parenting style. K is an awesome mom – super affectionate and loving, but is also a hardass on whining and sassing and attitudes – just exactly how I aspire to be. And she is relaxed about stuff – no hovering over the children at the beach with a bottle of Purell in hand and warning them not to touch the seaweed.
The area where I live is very privileged and can be, well, uptight. I get a bit tired of feeling like the bad mom because I let my kid play in the dirt or eat with her hands. It’s one of the reasons I so enjoy my “village” of with pals who let their kids be kids too.
So, this was a nice respite from the helicopter parent pressure, and also from a carb-free life. I’ll take Elsa another time to the aquarium and actually see the fish.
And now, back on the wagon… T minus 6 for my trip.
Folks who are of a different race than their children have some interesting parenting issues. And adoptive parents who have kids of different race have additional things to consider.
Dr. John Raible recently put a post on his blog called A Crash Course in Transracial Adoptive Parenting. He knows of what he speaks – and this post is essentially a primer for people like me. It’s a comprehensive syllabus, really – including a reading list and assignments – and (IMHO) includes stuff that every parent of a transracially adopted child should know. I know I’m looking to get educated, and this is a great opportunity.
In response, a group of adoptive parents then started a new blog where they could – together – work their way through the Crash Course, and have a place to discuss it – the blog is called Transracial Adoptive Parenting.
If you have any interest in this topic, check out the Crash Course, and if you want to join the discussion, please sign up over at TAP! The more people participating, the better, as far as I’m concerned. I’m going to be a pretty low-level participant – don’t have much capacity to do a lot of the reading right away – but I’ll be following along.