Monday, May 30, 2011

Braided Hair (for a few minutes)

Recently I discovered that L. has enough hair for braids. I don't know why it took me so long. She doesn't have any idea how exciting it is. She doesn't really care.

But she doesn't mind if I take advantage of the few minutes she sits still (while watching Sesame Street) to braid her hair.

The first time I just braided her bangs to keep them out of her face. This worked really well and she didn't seem to mind. She didn't pull it out and it last all day.

Today I decided to just keep going and braided all of her hair in a circle (like a crown) to keep it off her neck. I just started at her left temple and braided across the top of her head like I did when I just braided her bangs. But I kept going, pulling hair from the middle and the outside, until I'd gone all the way around. I finished with a ponytail low behind her left ear.
I LOVE it. Cutest hair ever.

L. decided it felt interesting and started pulling on it almost immediately. It lasted about five minutes. That was all I needed to get pictures!

Homemade Finger Paint

We made homemade finger paint today. Honestly, I'm probably just going to buy it in the future.

The recipe worked. L. paints with it and thinks it's great. I think it leaves a little to be desired. Perhaps it's just my fingerpaint making skills. Perhaps I'm just picky about my fingerpaint.

We used the Original Fingerpaint Recipe from Creative Kids at Home. I stirred for 30 minutes before it thickened and that was only after I turned the heat up to medium.

L. about lost it after the first 15 minutes of me standing at the store, unable to help her with I can't remember what.

After it finally thickened I let it cool (just like the instructions say) before I added the color. But when I stirred in the color it got lumpy. It was a bit like paste (not sticky but a little lumpy.)

Like I said before, it totally could have been me. Maybe I didn't cook it at the right temperature. Perhaps if it thickens in 15 minutes on low it won't get too thick later. Maybe since I turned it up it kept cooking (but seriously, I was worried how long it would take on low and L. was really, really ready to start painting.) Maybe I was supposed to turn it off after 15 minutes and stir indefinitely until it thickened so it didn't keep cooking. I don't know.

Regardless of the lumps, L. had a great time. I thought the colors didn't seem as vibrant as I thought they would on the paper and it was a bit like rubbing paste around but she had a blast. I put the paint on top of the fridge and every time L. walks past the fridge she asks me to get the paint down (by ask I mean she stands on her toes and tries to reach while yelling for me to help.)

I guess that means it was a success...

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Motherhood Anxiety

Once upon a time I took L. to a park playdate in an attempt to meet more moms in my neighborhood. The group was supposed to meet at 10am. We arrived on time and marched ourselves over to the only group of women in sight.

They looked about the right age. Their kids looked about the right age. I introduced myself. They introduced themselves. I pulled up a seat and sat down. I was super nervous but tried to smile and do the necessary small talk. Then I took L. to play on the equipment.

When I sat down again, one of the mom's politely asked how long we'd lived here. I mentioned we'd been here a few months but it was my first time meeting the group.

She said, "oh, what group is that?"

My stomach did a belly-flop inside itself.

Turns out they were not the group I'd been looking for. I'd just invaded a random group of friends out at the park with their kids.

Cue the sick feeling in my stomach, my red face, my total mortification. I tried to laugh it off and they were really nice about it but it still didn't change the way I felt.

Turns out the play date had been cancelled.

Despite my best intentions I had totally messed up. In hindsight I should have asked first thing if they were the group I was looking for. I should have realized I didn't recognize their names from the emails. I should have known better.

That pretty much sums up how I've been feeling lately. No matter the effort I put forth, the desire outcome does not appear and I feel sick to my stomach.

I stay home because I want to spend time with my daughter. When I'm home I feel like I spend all my time trying to keep her occupied so I can get other stuff done. I feel like a bad mom for sitting her down in front of Sesame Street so I can do the dishes.

Yesterday morning while I was trying to get dressed, she kept taking things out of the desk and the nightstand and the closet. I told her, "no" so many times that she started singing, "no, no, no, no, no, no, no" right back at me (while continuing to empty the nightstand).

Later, I took my glasses off while we were nursing because she kept grabbing them and leaving smudges on the lenses. In two seconds I'd forgotten they were there. While I let the dog out she climbed on the couch, got them off the counter and broke them. I should have known better.

I want her to hear me say something other than, "no". I want her to have a mommy that smiles and isn't crabby all the time. I want to be a good role model. I don't feel like I'm being a good role model when I can't seem to find enough time for myself to shower by myself (L. has been showering with me lately...she plays with toys in the tub while I wash my hair at top speed). I want her to grow up knowing it's okay to take care of yourself.

I know it's okay to take care of myself, so why don't I?

At the same time, I feel like all I've been doing lately is complain. I don't have time to shower by myself but whose fault is that? I need to make the time. I hate feeling like I'm always making excuses for myself. I'm tired (which is true). I'm inpatient (because I'm tired). I frustrated (because I'm tired and impatient)...and I feel like I've written this all before. I feel like I should have figured it out by now and I'm anxious that I have not.

I brought this topic up to other mothers, the consensus seems to be, "that's just how it is when you're a mom."

Seriously? I don't believe it. There have to be people out there who don't feel this way. Am I just supposed to accept that there are a few supermoms who can do everything and still have energy to pick up the crackers off the floor for the 10th time and laugh about it and the rest of us (me) are just screwed?

Why does it have to be that way? Why does doing anything for myself make me feel guilty or selfish? Why do I only even attempt to do things for myself when J. is at work and L. is napping? It makes me feel like there is always a timer running and I don't know how long it's set for. It makes in impossible to relax. It makes it impossible for me to enjoy myself. I'd think I was just setting myself up for failure except that I know I feel the same way any other time.

There is a constant anxiety that I should be doing something else (for someone else).

Things I used to do because they made me happy aren't making me seem happy anymore. I'm so tired they've just become more items on the overwhelming to do list. Even this blog has felt like a chore lately. On top of that, I've started worrying if L. will some day resent me for writing so publicly about my experiences and emotions.

Someday will I feel like that should have been obvious as well?

But I have to add that we have good days too. Every now and then I feel like a supermom. L. is really great kid. She's so smart. so curious, so adventurous, so expressive.

There is the guilt again. Where did all this guilt come from? We have so many good moments, good days. I feel guilty for writing about the bad days. I feel like writing about the bad days makes me ungrateful for what I have. I'm not. I know how lucky I am.

On the other hand I feel like only writing about the good days is not an accurate representation of motherhood in my world. I have to write about the bad days, even if it takes me 10 minutes to click the "publish post" button.

I'll write about a good day soon.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Sleeping Changes, Challenges, and Progress

One week ago today, L. turned 18 months old. Crazy. I totally can't believe she's 18 months old. It seems so much older than 17 months. It's so close to 2 years old.

Anyhow, that's not what I'm really posting about today.

We've been working on this sleep thing for a while now. We got to a good place where L. was only nursing one time at night and J. was the primary comforter if she woke up when it wasn't time to nurse. She was going to bed relatively easily and at the same time every night. Naps weren't too great but it was getting better.

But every time I think we're making progress, we stop making progress.

It is so frustrating. We start getting into a good routine and then we go out of town or L. gets sick or bedtime gets moved to accommodate swim lessons or she's teething or whatever. It's ALWAYS something.

Why is this such a problem?

Because L. is really smart. She figured there are variables. She figured out that if we're staying with relatives we won't let her scream and cry and wake up the entire household and she might get to nurse an extra time. She figured out that if she cries every time J. tries to put her in the crib, eventually he will get really tired and sleep with her in the spare bedroom. She figured out that if she doesn't let J. comfort her back to sleep the first time she wakes up, she might get to nurse early.

Long story short, L. started waking up frequently (screaming and crying) and not going back to sleep on the off chance that she would get to nurse. She started waking up every time we put her in the crib on the off chance that J. would sleep with her in the spare room. She found every single loophole. She figured out how to beat the system.

I'm aware our inconsistency is responsible for all of this. I also know we don't live in a vacuum. There will always be interruptions and we can only do so much.

Consequently, last Tuesday (coincidentally, L's 18 month birthday), J. and I sat down to devise a new loophole free plan to reach our goal: L. sleeping through the night in her own crib.

The new plan: Same bedtime routine (potty, bath, brush/floss, lotion, diaper, pajamas, read stories, nurse) with a few new twists.

First, when L. is done nursing, I put her in her crib. Once she is in the crib, we do not take her out again until morning. We still go in to comfort her as soon as she cries but we do not pick her up. If we pick her up it gives her the option to refuse to go back in.

Second, no more nighttime feedings. I'm no longer nursing L. at night. Yup, you heard me right. No more nursing at night. This was huge for me. This was really scary. I was afraid she would be so angry with me that she would stop nursing altogether. I've always wanted to let her wean herself and I was worried about cutting her off. But since she's waking up at night to nurse, we figured we needed to remove the temptation to encourage her to sleep longer. We figured she would stop waking up to nurse after she figured out she wasn't going to get any milk.

Third, the first few nights I would sleep in her room so that I could be there if she woke up and encourage her to go back to sleep before she was fully awake.

Finally, she has to stay in her crib until at least 7am. We wanted to avoid her waking up earlier and earlier for her morning milk.

That was our plan. We hoped it would encourage her to soothe herself to sleep each night and to sleep longer and longer stretches while learning to go right back to sleep if she woke up.

The first night was rough but not as bad as I expected. She fell asleep really well and slept for a few hours. She woke up at 10am and cried but fell back to sleep within 10 minutes. She woke up at 3:20am and cried for 20 minutes. She was more angry than anything. She didn't want me to rub her back and hit my hand away. I sang to her a little and eventually she wanted a hug. I gave her a hug over the railing and she lay herself down and went to sleep. She woke up at 4:50am and did the same thing only she didn't cry as hard or as long. I switched with J. so I could be sure of a little more uninterrupted sleep. She woke up for a second around 5:20am but went straight back to sleep and slept until 7:15am.

Later that day, nap time was a different story. I kept an eye on her and when she started acting tired, we nursed. She nursed until she was almost asleep and I put her in her crib. She threw a huge tantrum. She continued to throw a tantrum for 50 minutes. It was the longest 50 minutes ever. She was crying so hard I thought she might throw up. Again, she didn't want me to comfort her. She didn't want me to leave but she didn't want me to touch her. After nearly an hour, she let me give her a hug and she lay down and went to sleep.

Night two: Our bedtime routine went really smoothly. After she nursed, I put her in her crib and she rolled around a little (no crying) while I sang to her and she fell asleep quickly. She woke up twice--once around 3am and once around 5am for about 10 minutes each time. She slept until 7:15am.

Our second attempt at a nap was better too. She fell asleep nursing but woke up when I put her in her crib. Jogged back and forth in her crib for over an hour before she fell asleep. It took her a while but at least she didn't cry. I decided I'd try putting her down at 1pm the next day even if she acted tired earlier since two days in a row she'd fallen asleep around 1pm.

Night three: Great bedtime routine. After nursing I put her in her crib and she waved at me and said, "bye-bye, night-night". So I left her alone. She played with her snoedel and talked to herself for a few minutes before fussing a little. I went in a gave her a hug and again she hugged me and told me to leave. We repeated this a few times and she fell asleep. During the night she woke up twice for just a few seconds each time. She'd stand up at the railing, I'd give her a hug and she'd buckle her knees as soon as I hugged her so she could lay back down...and she'd go back to sleep.

I was so excited. I felt like we were doing so well. Just three nights in and she was almost sleeping through the night. She wasn't waking up hysterical or hungry in the middle of the night. She was happy when she woke up in the morning.

And just when I thought it could only get better, we started struggling again. Saturday afternoon when I put her in her crib for a nap, she told me she had to go potty (she signed it and said it). I didn't want to tell her no. Who wants to tell a potty training child they have to go in their diaper? So I took her to the potty. She didn't go and I put her right back in her crib. She told me again that she had to go. She thought she'd found the loophole. I wouldn't be duped again.

Saturday night (since J. had had three nights of sleep) we decided he would get up with L. while I slept. We thought we were still being consistent since we were sticking to our rules. It would just be J. getting up instead of me. She went to bed fine and slept until 3:30am. Then she woke up and wouldn't go back to sleep. Finally J. came and got me. She went right back to sleep after a quick hug. But she kept waking up. I think she decided if she works hard enough she'll get both of us. In the morning she woke up at 6:45am and told me she had to go to the bathroom. Once again I was fooled.

So here we are. Night 3 she woke up twice for a few seconds each time and slept until 7:15am. Night 6 we've regressed back to waking up 5 times and L. trying to con her way out of bed in the morning.

I'm kicking myself. Part of me wants to think it's the teeth she has coming in. The rest of me knows better.

That's not to say we haven't made any progress. She's putting herself to sleep for naps and at bedtime. She's napping for longer stretches that ever before. She's sleeping until at least 3am every morning before she wakes up. These are all good things. I know we've made positive progress. I just want to make sure we overcome our mistakes before they are too ingrained. I want to go back to night 3 and go forward from there.

I still want to sleep a whole night through. It will be a reality. Soon.

So tonight I'm starting over. Total consistency. Same bedtime routine. Same person waking up when she does. She'll stay in bed until 7am even if she says she has to go potty. She might cry, she might get angry. That's okay. It will get better. I know she can do it.

I'll let you know where we are three days from now.

Where I've Been...

Obviously, I haven't been writing too much these days.

In all honesty--I haven't felt like it. I've been really, really tired. So tired I've been wondering if I'm anemic again. We'll see.

Perhaps I'm just tired. Perhaps I'm just in a funk. Either option is entirely possible. It happens from time to time.

Anyhow, I'm trying to get out of whatever it is and I'm going to start by writing a post I've been postponing for the last week.

Hope you all are well...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Frustration

Have you ever had one of those days where you feel like you are not getting anything done?

Today was like that for me. Every time I crossed something off my list, three more things were added to the bottom.

It went something like this:

I put a dish in the dishwasher. L. took two dishes out of the dishwasher.

I closed the dishwasher. L opened it.

Repeat about 10 times.

I cut out my next sewing project and I had a problem with the machine. I bought the wrong needles and wrong size tracing paper.

I got out my sourdough starter to make bread and it had gone bad.

I watered the garden and the ants are back. My nasturtiums are almost gone.

L. woke up from her nap and cried for thirty minutes. I couldn't figure out what was wrong.

My mother-in-law was going to come over and hang out but couldn't at the last minute.

***

It was a total bummer of an afternoon.

Tomorrow will be a better day.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Lazy Days Skirts

My (almost) first project since I got my sewing machine was to make a skirt for my friend's daughter who turned two last weekend. I decided to make L. a skirt first to practice. This was a good decision...but more on that later.
I found this Lazy Days Skirt pattern months ago and was excited to finally try it. Although it was not my initial plan, I ended up making the girls matching skirts with different colored ribbons. I'm so glad I did. They were adorable.
I think L. is probably going to end up with 10 of these skirts. It was a great beginning project. It's very simple and very forgiving. The instructions are straight forward and it doesn't take much material. I made all kinds of silly mistakes while making the first skirt (like accidentally sewing the two sides of the skirt together when I was sewing on the ribbon) but the second one was better.
I'm in love with this skirt. I think my next project will be figuring out how to make one for myself.

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