rosemond on being a relaxed parent

"The most effective parents ... are those who are not constantly busy in their children's lives, but are relaxed and therefore create a relaxed environment in which their children can discover their potential. Instead of hovering anxiously over their children, they act as consultants to their growth and development."

This John Rosemond quote comes from the first edition of his 6 Point Plan book. It resonates with me because my goal as a home-maker is to set up a relaxed, comfortable home life that stimulates growth and development but doesn't micromanage.

It's also in line with some general principles laid out by Maria Montessori, whose curriculum is all about promoting independence while developing children of character who are good stewards of themselves, their energy and interests, and their environment. It's such an encouragement to see trusted advice (Rosemond) overlapping with unprecedented advice (Montessori).


gabriel's first costume

Because I have dreams of being that mom, and because I have approximately zero disposable income, and because he's too young to know the difference anyway, I decided to make Gabriel's Halloween costume.

This year Gabriel will be dressing as a turtle. I figured it would be cute because he is crawling and because we call him the little turtle when he pops his head up, it would be "free" because I already had everything I'd need to make it, and it would satisfy my deep, insatiable need to "make stuff." That right there is the costume trifecta for a crafty single mom.

I used bits and bobs from my yarn stash to make several different "granny squares" (actually hexagons) in varying shades of greens and brown. From those, I picked my favorites and then made a total of seven* to assemble for the turtle shell.

Making the shell "blanket" was really fast, and I more or less followed these guidelines.

I seamed them all together (while walking beside the grocery cart at Costco, much to my mom's disturbance), and then had the fun job of figuring out how to get the thing to stay on. Eventually I settled on knitting up a ribbed harnessy-type rig to attach to the front - a stretchy waistband across the middle and then two shoulder straps.

And there we have it! Gabriel the Turtle.

*Ten cool points to the person who can tell me why this is asterisked


things i cannot do while gabriel contemplates sleep

While Gabriel is contemplating sleep, the behaviors in which I must not engage include but are not limited to:

- Looking at the TV, even if it's on mute
- Looking at my phone
- Looking at my ipad
- Looking at a book
- Talking
- Singing or humming
- Knitting
- Writing or drawing
- Eating or drinking
- Shushing the dog
- Changing positions
- Breathing too loudly
- Turning on a light
- Turning off a light
- Attemping to cover the baby with anything

If I break the rules, I get a restless baby who insists on sitting up and crawling around instead of going to sleep. And sometimes I get a restless baby even if I don't break the rules. At which point I consider finding the nearest wall and begin beating my head against it, and then I take a deep breath and remind myself that he will only be this little for a very short time. And then I'm (usually) ready to try again.


inventing our way through sleep training, part 2

Recap of Part 1: Gabriel wasn't sleeping enough. I was stressed and bogged down and miserable. I had to find a way to wake up and get out of bed early in the morning without waking him.

So what did I do? Well, first I threw a few tantrums. Silent ones, of course, because I didn't want to wake the baby (and goodness knows I only have time for my own tantrums when the little man is asleep).

Then I took to the Innernets. And because I am a Five, I read too much and got overwhelmed.

So I did that thing that Dr. Sears and everybody else keeps telling me to do: I listened to my gut and trusted my instinct. I am completely and entirely making up my own way to "sleep train" Gabriel. It hasn't yet shortened the amount of time it takes to get him to sleep, but there have been some changes. I've chosen to see these changes as positive.

First things first: I started charting his sleep. I keep track, down to 15-minute increments, how much he is sleeping, when he gets drowsy but doesn't sleep, and when he wakes up but goes right back down. It sounds cumbersome, but it's not. I kinda love this information-gathering business, anyway. Because I'm a Five.

Next, I instituted something I have loosely defined as a "bedtime routine." It is VERY bare-bones right now, a la FlyLady's way of introducing people to routines. I wait for the first signs of sleepiness (which usually appear between 7 and 7:30) and then it's go-time. Gabriel's bedtime routine currently is as follows: bath, then sleep. I run the water, start up the bedtime music in the bedroom, lay out his PJs and overnight diaper, and then plunk him in a warm bath and let him splash until he loses interest and/or until he yawns. (This is all very fast because the bathroom is attached to the bedroom and it all takes place in like a 10 foot radius.) Sometimes he is Not Interested in the water and sometimes I think he'd stay in there all night if I let him. Then I towel him off, dress him, and then we lie down while he nurses and (on a good night) goes to sleep.

Things I hope to add to the bedtime routine:
- Brushing teeth and hair (we already do this in the morning) (at least on the mornings I manage to remember to brush my own hair)
- Reading a story
- Baby massage
- Come up with two bedtime routines - maybe grouping story and massage on one night and bath on alternating nights? I figure this might be good on those evenings when I am not the one putting him to bed or just really not feeling the idea of another infant bath.

On a good night, all goes according to plan and I am free to be a non-parenting adult at 8pm. And let me tell you, as a single mom it is Very Important to have some grown up time in the evening before bed. If I don't get it, I find myself staying up way too late watching TV just to be Not-Mommy for a few minutes. Not helpful.

It doesn't all go according to plan, however. More on that soon.


inventing our way through sleep training, part 1

Gabriel and I share a bed.

It started with our first night together in the hospital. It was 2am, I was awake, and there was a cute baby in the room. Couldn't be helped.

I made valiant efforts to get him to sleep in his crib. Sometimes he noticed the crib and protested, sometimes not. I remember this one fluke of a night where he went from midnight to 7am in the crib. I woke up to daylight, in a panic.

We got off to a good start. He'd go down between 7 or 8 in the crib, awake and happy as a clam (sometimes). Whenever he woke up for the 2am feeding, I would stumble over, grab him, and plop him beside me for another 6 hours of sleep. I figured at some point he would extend the sleeping sessions until we made it all night.

And then some things changed. I spent a month traveling around North Carolina. It was easiest to keep him in the bed with me. I figured it was only temporary, that we'd be back with a crib in a few weeks and it wouldn't be too hard to transition him back into sleeping alone.

So that was May. Five months later, we are still not quite in crib land again, and it's time to make some changes to the way we're sleeping. Here's the breakdown:

1. The primo concern is that I've been charting his sleep, and he isn't getting enough. The recommended sleep totals for a 10-month-old baby, including naps and overnights, are 14 hours. He gets 13 on a good day and is averaging somewhere around 12.

2. I noticed somewhere in the haze and fog of single-parenting a baby that going to sleep at night had become more and more of a struggle for him. I think it happened around the time he started crawling. He's always had a tendency to fight going to sleep and then wake himself up once he finally got there, but it's been really bad lately. If he senses that he's nodding off, he rolls over, pushes his drowsy self up, and looks around until he sees something interesting enough to lunge toward.

3. (Or maybe this should be 2b.) I was spending well over an hour - sometimes well over two hours - trying to "parent" him to sleep. And this is not counting the many, many minutes spent on pre-nap and bedtime nursing. Have you ever done that? I don't recommend it for those who would prefer their sanity remain intact. By the time he'd find the sweet relief of naptime, I would be either a. too exhausted to get myself up and moving toward accomplishing something, so I'd get my own nap or b. too mush-brained to figure out what to do with my newfound freedom, let alone do anything remotely productive. It was a very frustrating, astonishingly and almost frighteningly unproductive time. I have never felt so trapped, inadequate, and terrified of the future.

4. I found a (super awesome) job I can do at home, but it comes with a 9am deadline every weekday morning. I did some math and came to the conclusion that I needed to start getting up at 6:30 each morning. Fine with me, but the problem is that Gabriel got up at 6:30 with me. Not only was Mr. Early Riser-pants's early rising not conducive to my getting work done, it was exacerbating all the other sleep concerns. It turns out that alarms loud enough to wake me also wake him, and alarms quiet enough for him to sleep through are also quiet enough for me to sleep through. Oops. (Side note: the first person who invents an in-ear alarm that only the wearer can hear and won't fall out at night and won't cause hearing damage or brain cancer is my new bestie. You're welcome, for the million-dollar idea.)

(part 2 coming soon)


i have everything

I've spent a lot of time this year thinking about what I've lost, or don't have, or what is missing. Part of this is natural, for sure, and part and parcel for enduring the end of a marriage and all the upheaval that causes. There are times, though, that I am desperate to feel something other than this desperation. When I need a quick turnaround of thought, I look at my baby. Not so much a baby these days, he's almost 10 months old. He's very busy these days, with lots of crawling and throwing and learning and standing to be done.

Gabriel is my world, now. Everything I do is for his benefit - I even see my own self-care as being important for his well-being. Nothing matters to me as much as he does. There are times that I crawl into bed next to him and I can't help but cuddle him and kiss his warm forehead. I love him so much.

My boy is healthy. He is thriving and growing and engaged. Aside from the pesky 9-month sleep regression we're elbow-deep into, there's nothing wrong with him. The gratitude I feel for his health cuts me to my core. I look at my checking balance, my thoughts cloud with worry, and then I hear my baby boy howl and I remember that he's healthy...I have enough.

I was working late the other night and followed the rabbit down a sad hole that has been trying to eat my foot lately. I read one family's story of trisomy 18. I watched the 99 Balloons video again. I thought of the infant son of a girl who went to my school two decades ago. A former classmate whose two children face seemingly insurmountable health crises regularly. Autism. Seizures. Oxygen tubes. These are things friends of mine live with, friends who don't know if their children will be able to live "normal" lives or even see their next (or even their first) birthday. 

I can't outfit Gabriel's room with a wall-mounted, child-safe mirror or put him in the sweet Swedish moccasins I'd love for his jellybean toes as the weather gets chilly. I won't be getting the cookware I could really use any time soon and I'm afraid of heeding my 12-year-old vehicle's warning to check the engine. My paychecks are smaller than the average Costco trip total and I'm wearing clothes I had in college instead of buying new things. 

BUT. I can expect to celebrate my son's first birthday with him, and many birthdays after that. Really, that's all I need.

I have everything. I am so grateful. 


being met

I was moping around feeling generally unsettled and invisible and exhausted and overwhelmed by who-knows-what the other day, so I took my listless self to the computer and read some stuff in the Google Reader.

There, I was met.

By this,

and this.


this post is kind of a downer

I've had a hard time keeping my head up lately. Too many things just aren't going the way I'd planned, meta to micro. I'm feeling thwarted, disappointed, and let down. Everywhere I turn, I see a "yes, but." Yes, this divorce is about as "easy" as a divorce-with-children can be, but it's by no means easy. Yes, the baby's very healthy, but he's not eating real food or sleeping, and that is becoming a real challenge for this single mama. Yes, I've got enough work to get us through the end of the year, but my bank account is frightfully low and January's calendar is bare. Yes, we're going to have a beautiful new home, but it's been 4 months and we're still living in the guest room. (And yes, the guest room is better than most hotel rooms I've been in, but it's not quite home.)

I've been unsettled and "in transition" for 5 weeks shy of a year, now. That's a long time not to feel like I have a real home. There's no rhythm to our days right now. I haven't found an easy routine. Not having regular naps or a reliable bedtime has made it more challenging to keep my wits. Gabriel is starting to stand on his own, and this house is good for visits but a little too adult-y to be the ideal full-time, full-access baby wonderland. But it's not my home, so I'll just keep vigilant and pray the apartment is ready soon.

This is not how I ever would have envisioned Gabriel's first year. And while there's been some tremendous good, right now, in this particular moment, I'm feeling the weight of the challenges.