Saturday, March 31, 2007

Bizzaro American childhood

Since my last three posts were about sleep, it's time to change up. From the clothes and toys available to the types of concerns parents have these days, modern American childhood just seems bizarre. I don't know if it's just my perception or if something is just fundamentally different. Perhaps people are running out of ideas for toys and things to worry about.

When my husband and I were kids, we had the Fisher Price doctor's kit and our friends were our patients. Today, there's a doll that comes with a doctor's kit. The doll "gets sick," the child takes care of it. Jim calls this the Munchausen by proxy doll. And apparently, Barbie has run out of things to do. Now Barbie comes with a puppy on a leash and a pooper scooper. And get this, the dog actually poops out little plastic pebbles.

Remember when you went outside and built a fort from whatever you could find the yard? Now, home developers are selling mini McMansion playhouses and some parents are actually outfitting them with air conditioners, carpet and electricity. A few of my favorite forts: A bush in the woods formed a nice dome-like enclosure and the moss on the ground was my carpet; My friends and I dragged large logs to cover a three or four foot deep ravine. No carpet, no electricity and yes, it was hot (or cold) outside, and we came home dirty and no doubt covered in germs.

And speaking of germs ... from a letter in a recent newspaper advice column: A man is disgusted by children who blow out candles on a birthday cake. He's actually seen the spit flying as the candles are blown out. Ah, yes, another uptight germophobe ruining childhood. It would never, ever occur to me to worry about this. So maybe now children will have two cakes ... one for blowing out candles, another for eating (Jim's idea).

On our strolls around the neighborhood, Jim and I often encounter a band of children ranging in age from 3 to 10 years old. These children are always outside, often outfitted in capes, tutus, cowboy boots, plastic armor and the like. They are climbing trees, hawking lemonade, running, playing ball, "fighting" with various toy weapons, making trails in their yard, building forts. In short, they are outside being kids. Other children in the neighborhood are rarely outside. I sometimes catch a glimpse of them riding electric scooters and minibikes.

The former represents the kind of childhood my husband and I had and would like our son to have. The latter is just bizzaro.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Sleep happens ... eventually

No subject is more controversial in mommy world than how you get your child to go to sleep, I'm finding. There are the cry-it-out, bedtime routine nazi sleep trainers, and then there's ... uh, well, I don't know. This method is so ingrained in mommy world that no one will openly admit to doing anything else.

Whether you're baby is sleeping through the night is almost a measure of your parenting skills. Years ago, someone told me to put away the measuring stick. When I try to achieve "the norm," it causes stress. Achieving some arbitrary number of consecutive sleep hours for our son seems ridiculous to me. I took stock ... my son is getting enough sleep, I'm getting enough sleep and enough done around the house and my husband doesn't mind that Danny hangs out with us late into the evening. Of course, as he gets older, all of this is subject to change.

But if mommy world knew how sleep happened in my house these days, they'd be horrified.

Tonight, I put Danny in bed around 8 p.m. after his bath and massage. I went down to get dinner on the table. Halfway through our meal, he started shrieking. Jim went up to get him after a few minutes. He stopped crying immediately and was pleasant the rest of the evening. We put him on his play mat in the darkened family room. He just hung out, talking and playing. He started getting a little fussy around 10 p.m.

The "experts" suggest soft, soothing music or relaxing sounds for baby's sleep routine. Our son settles himself down and drifts off to sleep when we put on the Electronica music channel. Right now, he's asleep on his play mat with two fingers in his mouth and the Electronica channel blaring. I'm actually starting to like the music.

I can probably get him up into his crib in the next half hour. He'll sleep until about 12:30 or 1:00, which is when I get home from work and when I go to sleep when I'm not working. He nurses around 1:00 a.m., 4:30 a.m. and 8:30 a.m. At 4:30 a.m., I get him from his crib and put him in bed with us just before Jim gets up to go to work. This allows Jim and I to sleep without baby, me to get enough sleep and Danny to get what he needs at night.

Danny's already mastered the art of falling asleep without having to be rocked or nursed to sleep. If he can put himself to sleep when he's tired, he'll have good sleep habits for the rest of his life. The most important lesson for him to learn is to trust and respond appropriately to the signals his body is giving him -- sleep when you're tired, eat when you're hungry, seek companionsip when you're lonely being the most basic and probably the most crucial for health and happiness.

Monday, March 26, 2007

He's killing me ..

Two new photo albums are posted on the photoblog. Click here.

At my last posting, I reported a complete anomaly. Our son slept for nine hours in a row. Silly me, I thought we were turning a corner.

It was a fluke. The longest he's slept since then is 6 hours. Last night, he treated us to a serenade of ear-piercing shrieks. Either I'm getting more accustomed to this or I'm going insane ... my response was to just hold him up in front of me, stare at him and laugh out loud. This REALLY pissed him off.

Jim was "sleeping" through this little serenade and told me this afternoon that he was thinking the whole time "Just stick a boob in that kid already." Believe me, that was the first thing I tried. He wanted nothing to do with it. ARRRGGGHHHH! He finally settled down when I put him in the bed with me. I guess he was just lonely.

Baptism date

Danny will be baptized on April 15 after the 11:30 a.m. mass in the church where we were married, St. Pius X in Bowie, MD. Father Hill, the priest who married us will perform the rite. Anyone who wants to attend is invited. If you need to travel, here are two hotels in Bowie:
  • Hampton Inn
    15202 Major Lansdale Blvd., Bowie, 20716 - (301) 809-1800

  • Comfort Inn Bowie
    4500 Crain Hwy, Bowie, 21037 - (301) 464-0089

There will be a party afterward at the home of Danny's Nana Meehan in Bowie.

Monday, March 19, 2007

I'm stunned.

It's 7 in the morning and I'm sitting here listening to the baby monitor. Nothing. Not a peep. He's asleep. He's been asleep for eight hours. I got him out of the crib after seven hours to feed him. He went right back down. Maybe it's the white noise machine that I found at the thrift shop this weekend (for $2.95 and it has ten different sounds). Maybe it's because I carried him around in the sling while he was asleep last night. Maybe it was because I picked him up and comforted him immediately when he started shrieking last night. And maybe the reason will never be clear. I could repeat the same things tonight and he could be up every three hours.

I'm actually anxious for him to wake up because I am driving up to Maryland today. I wanted to get an early start. I woke up around 5:30 so I could hang out with Jim before we left and finish packing my bag. I should have stayed asleep.

Friday, March 16, 2007

Want the truth? Read the business section.

From the CVS corporate Web site:

At CVS/pharmacy, our number-one goal is to provide outstanding service and value to our customers — while meeting their healthcare needs and making their overall shopping experience as easy as possible.

From a story in the business section about CVS' merger with a drug-benefit manager:

CVS’ purchase of Caremark “has the potential to get more patients to refill more prescriptions and bring in more revenue,” said Matt Kaufler, a fund manager at Clover Capital Management in Rochester, N.Y. “Right now, every patient who doesn’t get refills is a lost revenue opportunity.”

Which do you think is closer to the company's real objective?

Other gems from today's paper:

From a city of Durham advertisement about lead in drinking water:
The first paragraph touts the "Health effects of lead." One of my pet peeves is the use of the word health, when, really, they are talking about illness. Health insurance and health care are two prime examples. Let's be clear about this ... insurance and medical care DO NOT make you healthy. Neither does lead in your drinking water.
From a car dealership advertisement:
Opposites apparently attract in this ad. "Lifetime Limited Warranty. Unlimited miles. Unlimited time." Wonder what the limits are?
From a story about a couple struggling with high medical bills:
"When I match the value of my being a lawyer to the social value of a teacher, it's not even close," he says.

"... It's absolutely tragic that someone who spent their life training children to be valuable members of society should now be faced with medical bills exceeding their ability to pay."

Psst, hey mister ... Lawyers are one of the biggest drains on the sick care system in this country.

I got six hours of sleep in a row last night, can you tell? And since my son now has a little more upper body control, I can sit him on my lap while I type with two hands.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Our son, the stranger

In just the past few days, Danny has become an entirely different baby. The number of screaming fits have decreased dramatically. He doesn't wake up shrieking an hour after we put him down for bed. He doesn't eat every two hours. I can put him down to play and not worry about him for at least a half hour. His attention span has more than doubled from 20 minutes to about 45 minutes of Sesame Street. He can put himself to sleep for his morning nap and I can even lay him down awake in his crib at bedtime. At dinnertime, we put him in his high chair and he has a conversation with us.

I was tempted to call the pediatrician yesterday because he was so mellow I thought something was wrong with him. He just fussed himself down for a nap a few minutes ago. And he even tolerated being carried in a sling yesterday.

Who is this baby and what has he done with my son? I feel a little guilty because I like this baby much better!

As for the sugar bowl ...

My husband's explanation:

"There's a 50-50 chance the sugar is in the sugar bowl. There's a 100 percent chance the sugar is in the bag. My life is all about saving nano-seconds."

So, apparently, he will use his precious nano-seconds to open the cabinet, get the bag out and open it, but not to lift the lid on the sugar bowl. And I guess it takes too many nano-seconds to put the bag of sugar back in the cabinet.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

I need a clear sugar bowl.

Normally, I have to put the fruit in very obvious places for my husband to find it. I never thought I'd have to do the same with the sugar. Let me explain ...

I have a very pretty, colorful ceramic sugar bowl that my best friend brought back from Italy for me nearly 10 years ago. It's beneath the coffee pot. Guess what's in it? Yep, sugar. I refill it when it's empty like a good little wifey. It never fails, the day after the sugar bowl is refilled, my husband will go to the trouble of getting his sugar from the bag. And then he leaves the bag of sugar on the counter.

Apparently, it's too much trouble to open the dainty little lid on the sugar bowl to see that the wifey has indeed not left him sugarless. I guess it's easier for him to find the sugar in the cabinet in a bag that is clearly marked than to simply peer into the sugar bowl to check the sugar status.

This seems to confirm my suspicion that if a man can't see something, it doesn't exist.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

I'll take addictions for $200, Alex.

Answer: Q-tips and chocolate

Question: What is Josee hopelessly addicted to?

I tried to give up chocolate for Lent this year. On Ash Wednesday, I was resolute. Then on Saturday, the Girl Scout cookies that I ordered in January came. This scenario seems familiar. I must have tried this another year during Lent. Why do Girl Scout cookies always come during Lent?! The more I try to stay away from chocolate (just to see if I can), the more I end up eating.

And as for the Q-tips, I use them whether my ears need cleaning or not. It just scratches an itch. I'm surprised my leg doesn't shake like the dog's does when we scratch in the right spot. We buy Q-tips in bulk - 500 at a time. I have them scattered all over the house. When we're almost out, I rummage through my bedside table drawer to see if I have a stash. This morning, I caught my son putting his finger in his ear and wiggling it around. He kept at it for a good three minutes or so, which is quite a while in baby time. Great ... he has my addictive personality.