Saturday, March 29, 2008

Seattle Series: We like our beaches windswept and cold in this family

Our unit deploys to the trail head. That bit of pink fleece sticking out of dad's coat is Audrey.

Patient strangers stop to take our photograph.

When informed how far it actually is to the lighthouse at the end of the spit, I decide perhaps I will turn back. My health is delicate.

Other families may like to splash around in warm, tropical waters where the sand is smooth and the drinks are served right from the deck of the hotel. But in our family, we like a really grinding hike down the beach, climbing over giant washed-up trees and medusa heads of seaweed. And wind-- don't forget the bone-chilling wind. Actually, I have very fond memories of walking the Dungeoness Spit and playing on this beach, even though the weather can be a bit raw. We made the walk together through the short rain-forest path down to the water and walked a short ways down the spit (some of us turned around quicker than others). It is hard to find more than just a fragment of seashell on the spit; the waves and rocks grind most of it to bits before it hits the shore. But it's wide open and beautiful, and they are protecting the delicate environment out here much more carefully than when I was a child and could pretty much take anything I found on the beach home in my pail (oh, how dad used to love the smell of warming crab shells and seaweed on the ride home in the car!). This is a place I hope to bring Audrey one day when she's old enough to dig holes in the sand and watch the seals playing off shore.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Seattle Series: Pa Skip and Audie-Pig

Here's Audrey with her Pa Skip* at her great-grandfather's house in Sequim. We were there to be with family for his memorial service, and Audrey spent time with aunts, uncles, cousins and grandparents. Pa Skip is working on new nicknames all the time, usually with his favorite endearment, "pig," worked in. Piglet. Audie-Pig. Pigarooni. You get the idea.

*Just adding a clarification since I realized I have made it sound as though Pa Skip, my dad, pictured above, was the one being memorialized. It was actually his dad (my grandfather, Audrey's great grandfather) who the family was gathered to remember. Pa Skip is pushing 70 but is still planning to be out in the field this season, being a geologist. Maybe he'll bring Audrey some cool rock samples to catalogue...or swallow.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

One final installment about sleep, sleep methods, and training myself into motherhood.

Okay, I figure those of you who read that heading and are still with me know that this is all about sleep issues, and those who are bored to sleep (lucky you!) by the topic have gone off to do something more interesting, like take a nice long nap. Now, to the crux of the matter. I think we are done with formal sleep training. I find this hard to come right out and say, but it isn’t working for us. We tried to get started, after carefully reading Ferber this time, and rather quickly decided to stop. My kid, when placed in her crib drowsy but awake starts crying right away, very hard, and ramps up to complete hysteria—I mean the whole works—from the first minute and it only gets worse. Visiting her on the recommended schedule does nothing but upset her further. Were we to stick with this, we’d need to commit to some very prolonged bouts of crying, probably several hours over several nights. I think for many kids the crying is less shrill, and with patience and a lot of consistency, the child can slowly calm down and get to sleep. I wish this were the case at our house, but even Ferber does not recommend leaving a child who is as upset as ours became. Ironically, I am following the advice he himself gives: if you can’t commit to this method and really follow it, spare yourself the trouble. It will not work if you try it only in fits and starts. Knowing that we are not going to stick with it for hours of crying, we are throwing in the towel now.

Now, please, if you are in the Sears camp, do not stand up and cheer—I am not crossing the field, baby slung close to my body, to go stand in the bleachers with that crowd, either. It may be that I am just the nervous, doubting type, but I’m still not quite content with attachment parenting. What I am, folks, is a sucker for sleep manuals of every single style and philosophy. Publishers love parents like me—parents who cannot seem to operate a book and their own common sense at the same time. You have only to check my bookshelves to see why this is an industry worth gazillions a year. Each book in turn has made me a zealot, for about 24 hours, to its methodology. The vignettes written by parents in the sidebars always get me—they sound so confident! So free of doubts! But this is exactly where I drive myself nuts and a more sensible person puts down the book, uses the helpful bits, and does what makes sense for her and her child—without obsessing over what the book recommends.

I would like to pause for a moment to say that Scott has weathered this with me with the patience of an absolute saint. And it was not Audrey who required his patience, my friends. It was me. Please send him an e-mail right now if you know him—he deserves pats on the back for his endurance. And I haven’t even started reading the toddler manuals yet.

So although we have put aside his method, I am not opposed to Ferber. In fact, philosophically I feel quite comfortable with sleep training and I wish I had a child for whom some sleep training could, without a mammoth struggle, really work. Maybe down the road, in some modified way, it will work for us, too. We know an awful lot of families for whom it has been just right. For now, Audrey is taking a nap in her swing (which is turned off, but she likes sleeping in it anyway). And last night, even though it took a while to get her down for the night, she was only up once, which I find I can live with. Maybe I can reach a similar peace with all these stacks of books around me…

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Back to Boston (but still on West Coast time)

Dear Readers,

We returned from our Seattle trip last night, haggard but glad to be home. A six-hour plane journey with a restless baby is... well, just like you'd imagine a six-hour plane journey with a restless baby to be. Rather tiring. But the flight attendants and other passesngers were all very nice to us. We are unpacking our suitcases, doing the laundry, trying to get Audrey back to her East-coast sleep "schedule" (ha! I laugh bitterly at the idea...) and when we have sorted ourselves out, we'll post some pictures of our trip. Audrey met many of her relatives on Kris's side of the family and had an important second visit with Pa Skip, Nanu and Auntie Janna.

Off to put the second load of laundry into the washer,


Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Yes, I heard you say "smile for the camera." I'm just not feeling it right now, okay?

Audrey is a ham when she's at home, but when she's out socializing with other kids she often has this quietly concerned expression. Her buddy Lena, though-- that girl knows how to let her hair down. The small amount she has, anyway.

Monday, March 17, 2008

How's that work again?

Audrey watched our neighbor Alexander sitting up, perfectly still and composed. She gets the idea, but as you can see, her technique is a bit wobbly.

Both kids snapped to attention as Neko T. Cat entered the room, stage right. Alexander crawled over to say hello, and Neko flipped out. She was quickly hauled from the room for a "time out." Alexander was unharmed, but we were embarrassed by her beastly behavior... and a little worried about what this means for our near-future. ( Yes, dad, I know you already vote for us to get rid of her. Thank you for your sensitivity. You can e-mail Scott about it; he agrees with you that Neko should move.)

Perfecting the Sears-Portrait pose

She's getting steadier every day, but it still only takes a few seconds for this...

To turn into this.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I should be embarrassed at the number of pictures I post of my kid. Really. It's absurd.

Audrey did not wear this t-shirt last week on the day of the Duke-UNC game, possibly contributing to Duke's loss. We would like to apologize to the team for our poor showing and wish them better luck next time.

I'd like to start with the lobster tail this evening. And don't skimp on the drawn butter.

This week I've learned to put my foot in my mouth. Mother says it's something she does all the time, and I should try to avoid it. Any idea what she means?

Monday, March 10, 2008

Table for one?

Audrey tasted her first solids on March 9th. One part rice cereal to three parts milk, making a thin yet elegant entree of gruel. She was enthusiastic, though whether this was for the food or the spoon, we weren't sure. She swallowed about half of what was offered, and the rest ended up on the bib, and on me. All told it was a much tidier affair than her last visit to the changing table, where the contents of her diaper (apologies to those with delicate sensibilities) had made it all the way to her armpits. I used to find it shocking that parents would discuss that kind of thing. Things have changed.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Nice work if you can get it.

Sit up and pay attention now: I'm about to get really sappy.

In the midst of our struggles with sleep (or lack thereof) there are times, like this one, when she falls asleep in my arms and I don't try to put her down at all, I just stay perfectly still for a while and remind myself that, however trying it can be to meet the endless needs of a baby, however daunting to sift my way through the parenting advice (Pick them up! Put them down! Trust your baby! All babies are tricksters!) I know these baby days are flying past us. Already, we are whispering in her ear, "Don't grow. Stay just as you are, forever." Whether she ever sleeps through the night or not (I pray the former) the real truth of it is this: the moments I am lucky enough to spend with my sleeping child in my arms will be among the sweetest of my life.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Daily Dose of Chickpea, for Dad on the Road

Scott's in Seattle, missing Audrey, so these are for him. Wonder Woman onesie from counsins Brittanie and Brianna. Linda Carter, eat your heart out.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Sleep: Reporting Live from the Big-Top

A quick update, for those who are following our exciting series on Audrey's daytime and nighttime sleep habits. (To the rest of you, tune in tomorrow for more cute pictures). Sleep training efforts this past couple of days have been a bust, resulting in so much prolonged crying that we decided to back up, do some more reading, check our methods, and think about it some more.

I feel like I am on a trapeze swing, swooping between two very small, rickety platforms, one called Sears (attachment parenting, wear your baby, sleep with your baby, never let them cry-- oh, and your own needs for sleep and structure can wait a decade or two) and the other called Ferber (children can and should learn to sleep on their own, a little crying never killed anyone, it's going to work, just be consistent and patient, etc.). Neither perch is quite comfortable and I am having a hard time making it look easy and anyway I can't fit into my pre-pregnancy sequined costumes. The tights chafe.

Audrey is back to napping in the swing while Scott is out of town, and I am afraid we will have to contact Fisher Price at some point to see about a custom made swing for her college dorm room.

I always am so grateful for the notes and calls and "I hear ya" messages I get from all of my friends and relatives out there-- thank you.

Sailing through the air with the greatest of ease-- or at least hanging on by my fingernails-- your correspondent,


Sunday, March 2, 2008

Yes, sir, I'll have her home by ten.

I thought we'd grab a bite to eat and then swing by the prom to get our picture taken. Your dad is, like, way serious about the curfew.

I brought a corsage but I ate it on the way here.

How does this top piece come off?

Audrey's first gentleman caller, Sam, came by with his mom Kate yesterday for lunch. Sam showed us how electrical outlets really are an overlooked source of entertainment, and he was devilishly quick at finding the back stairwell, which Kris had left wide open for his exploring (he almost did a header straight from the second to the first floor-- nice instincts there, Kris).