Monday, April 29, 2013

Morning Cocoa I

Welcome to the virtual coffee date. Pour yourself a cup of cocoa, iced tea, or whatever beverage you prefer and make yourself comfortable.

I'm listening to the birds sing their morning songs as I write this.  These pre-dawn minutes are precious in my book as they are often the only few uninterrupted moments I have during very busy days.

Last weekend was a wonderful blend of good food, good drinks, and great company.  The adults laughed as the kids provided endless hours of entertainment by dancing to the eternal Gangnam Psy, tumbing across the living room floor, and singing various songs.  We all enjoyed a walk down by the river and fully exhausted each child by bedtime.

This last week was an intense one.  Midterms, workshops, and hours of homework took up most of my time while mountains of clean and dirty laundry, dirty dishes, and other mundane household chores took up the rest.  Sometimes this busyness feels too much, like I'm stretched out as far as I can go, yet the alternative doesn't sound appealing either so I trudge through these really busy times and enjoy those weeks when things are busy but relatively quiet.

Yesterday was my birthday.  For those of you who follow and/or are friends with me on Facebook, you're quite aware of my sleep chronicles, or non-sleep chronicles as it were. So it was very apropos that my celebrations centered around sleep: I slept in, took a nap, and went to bed early while my sweet husband watched/entertained the kids for me.  It was blissful.  The rest of the day was spent enjoying my family, eating at a delicious Italian restaurant for lunch, and laughing as my kids and husband baked me a wonderful cake and sang Happy Birthday to me.  The most perfect birthday I've ever had.

How has your month been? Good? Bad? Busy? Any exciting news? I want to hear all about it.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Mourning With Boston

"Breaking news, there are reports of a possible bomb explosion at the Boston marathon. Details are still forthcoming."

"Mommy! Are we at the doctor's appointment yet?" Emily asked.

"Shhhhh.  I just heard something on the radio."

"But mommy!"


"We have eyewitness confirmation that two bombs exploded at the Boston marathon....."

I listened to the reports over and over again, tears stinging my eyes as the horrific details came out of Boston.  I thought back to the heart wrenching interview I had listened to just that morning of the Newtown Strong Fund running for the Sandy Hook Elementary school victims and how the Boston marathon had dedicated mile 26 to the victims and their families.  Sobs erupted from my throat.

I didn't write anything after the Newtown shootings.  My words felt inadequate.  After this tragedy, my words still feel inadequate.  But I am mourning for those who were injured, for those who lost their lives, for the families of the victims, for the loss of innocence and I write because I don't know what else to do.

I don't understand why these events happen or what events precipitated for a person or organization to feel justified in committing such a repulsive act.  Yet, as I've listened to and read reports of how Bostonians have reached out to victims and displaced marathon racers,  or how Newtown residents have created organizations (like the Strong Fund) to remember and support the victims, I feel hope.  I believe President Obama said it best during his press conference this morning:

"We also know this — the American people refuse to be terrorized.  Because what the world saw yesterday in the aftermath of the explosions were stories of heroism and kindness, and generosity and love:  Exhausted runners who kept running to the nearest hospital to give blood, and those who stayed to tend to the wounded, some tearing off their own clothes to make tourniquets.  The first responders who ran into the chaos to save lives.  The men and women who are still treating the wounded at some of the best hospitals in the world, and the medical students who hurried to help, saying “When we heard, we all came in.”  The priests who opened their churches and ministered to the hurt and the fearful.  And the good people of Boston who opened their homes to the victims of this attack and those shaken by it.
So if you want to know who we are, what America is, how we respond to evil — that’s it.  Selflessly.  Compassionately.  Unafraid."
(Read more:

May we all mourn for the victims of this and other horrific acts of violence.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Morning Cocoa Revisited

Writing isn't easy lately. Parenting, homework, and other life things are getting in the way. Like so many of you, I'm sure, I just don't have the time to produce quality - or any - content.

Back on my old blog, I did a series of posts in which I invited you (the reader) over to my virtual house for a cup of tea (hot cocoa, Dr. Pepper, whatever beverage you prefer) and good conversation. I miss that. If I invited you, would you come over?  Just bring you and your beautiful words.  We'll make in a Monday tradition.

So, see you then?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Sleep Training, Losers Edition

Back when Sister E was a tiny infant and I felt the familiar first parent's fear of never sleeping again, I decided to check out all the excellent sleep training books my friends and family had recommended.  Their reviews often stated, "your child will sleep through the night forever!"  And I was like, yeah. I'm totally down.

The first rule? Focus everything in your schedule around your baby's sleep schedule.  Having one made that oh-so-easy.  Like a champ, Emily was sleeping through the night by 7 months. Bed at 7/8, wake up at 6/7, it was fantastic.  When Brother A was born, it barely ruffled her sleep feathers.  Since I had had such success, I immediately started him on the sleep routine.  By 6-7 months, he was mostly sleeping through the night. I was, clearly, a fantastic and superior mom.

But as any wiser parent knows, don't ever believe reviews that promise "forever" in their marketing campaign. As the wise Kip stated, "like anyone could even know that."

With my miscarriages, moving about 1500 miles away from our old friends and all our family, and everything else that happened in that 2 year period, the kids inevitably stopped sleeping through the night. In fact, they just stopped sleeping.  Too often, Mr. B and I would stare at each other on the couch as the kids ran circles around us, at 10 pm.  They would typically wake up 1-3 times a night and wake up at 5 am, ready to go. To top it off, they refused to sleep anywhere but our bed.  With a queen bed, our sleeping quarters were cramped.

So one day I called my mom sobbing, "Why don't my kids sleep? Ever?"  (One can tell I'm desperate when I use the word, "why.") She, the mother of 10, could give me advice that no book ever could - "you are doing awesome, Amber, just remember your parenting principles of lore and stick to them."

Ding, ding, ding, ding!

That past year my parenting style definitely took a major hit. Mr. B and I were parenting out of desperation in the middle of chaos. It doesn't exactly yield great results. I dusted off my old college textbooks on child development and guzzled down the pertinent information about each of my kids' stages. I threw out the guilt I had for, well, everything, and decided to provide incentives for my kids going to sleep.

This past week, things have changed drastically. The kids not only go to bed, they stay in their bed all night long, and wake up less frequently (only if they are thirsty and/or hurting in some way or another).

I'm sure the tempting offer of a treat has helped ensure their cooperation, but it stems from more than that. I threw out those books that made everything about the child's sleep and focused more on my children. That's made all the difference.