Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Life Rhythms

Which at the moment are definitely on the discordant and not super rhythmic side of the page. If my life was a piece of music it would a Bartok or Shostakovich, neither of which are my favorites. I'm waiting to get to some Dvorak or Smetana. But I guess we have to get through the opening pieces first to get to the good stuff. Which always really annoyed me at concerts. I came for the Beethoven, I don't want to hear a piece by a still-wet-behind-the-ears composer who doesn't like to match any two notes with anything else and makes me feel like a badly and hastily shaken martini.

In the mean time, we are at least cobbling together our version of not-too-crazy-any-more-at-least-for-this-second. Which has been mostly due to the babies sleeping when normal people sleep. Not swing shift and graveyard workers. Which has added a lot less crazy-zombie to our waking hours.

Not that it is new news, but our kids have been ridiculous sleepers. All of them. No on has napped past 2 years of age. All of them preferred really late naps resulting in really late bedtimes. As I was also pregnant for most of their toddler years I was just glad to get any break ever and let the funky sleep cycles play out every day. Which in turn made for more of them. If there was ever a pattern interrupter, it was a stomach flu or cold which left ever more ridiculous habits in its wake. Along with a boatload of dirty laundry.

To be fair, to me, because it's my blog, growing up we had some pretty weird routines of our own, necessitated by my dad's work hours. The years he worked 1st watch, my mom would keep us all up late so we would sleep in and stay quiet so dad could sleep. After that it didn't matter when he worked. We were sticking with the first schedule. As all of our kids have tried to do as well.

Over a family vacation of miserable sleep I finally got desperate and ordered this book.

I don't care for the cry-it-out method so it seemed a safe bet. I really liked the book, especially the part where she admits if she knew it was her last baby she would totally enjoy it and let the baby nap in her arms and everything else a sleep trainer would be horrified by. I feel a little late to the party, not trying to sort thing out until Baby #6, but better late than never. I ordered several other sleep books though. Some more on the science side.  I thought the information he presented was fine. All 50 times  it was re packaged and represented. Maybe because it was written by a  man I didn't feel like it spoke to the mom in me. So in the end most of what we employed was from Pantley's book and most nights things have gone well. Of course it helps that Fiona is over a year now. And that Cyril can get Malachi to bed. I am curious how things would have played out had I had my act together and started  routines earlier. A lot better I am sure. But we are where we are because we were lazy. I mean I was lazy. (Shane would still get up early and go to work.)Hopefully there is time to remedy the rest of the family so they can learn to operate on better schedules and we can break the generational sleep dysfunction gift. Which it really is/was.

Thinking back over it gives me the heebie-jeebies. I am so grateful to not be in new baby sleep absolutely no rhythm phase of life right now. Even thinking about writing Fiona's birth story takes me too close to insanity days than I care to get right now. But I will someday. But today is not that day. Especially since Fiona got up before 6 and now is napping which will throw off her later nap and I'll have to keep it short so we can still have a decent bedtime because Shane needs to get to bed so he can get up early to ride his bike in to work. Again.

Biking in has turned into a very doable rhythm, at least in the drier, if you can call 'well, at least its not flooding' drier. Which we do. Shane gets to fit exercise into his crazy-busy days and avoid nasty car commutes. Biking only takes about as long as it might driving in at the same time so it's a win-win. Luckily he can drive to the start of the trail down the hill and then its trail all the way there with a nice shower at the end. So no biking next to cars, which I really like.

 Fiona got wind of the early departure and has gotten up to farewell the troops the past two mornings. Which requires her to get up before 6am! But an 8:00 bedtime is totally worth playing for so I'll just enjoy the single-child mornings and try to get a little housework done. Which is next on my rhythms that need much more improvement list.

"See, I'm really helpful to have around at ungodly hours."
Actually, this wasn't that early. It was the weekend and she was helping Shane make me a latte. But it was too cute to not include. Hope your sleep is normal and restful. Like this.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

A Little Bit of Our Normal and Detinitely Not Normal

Not that I know what normal is. At All. But we can pretend can't we.
Last week, I somehow found myself home alone. With the just the babies. I can't remember how I let that happen. I feel like such a spoiled lightweight. I mean when the big kids were little, I did it everyday. Meaning I packed them up and we went to my mother-in-laws. Every day. I'd call Shane and tell him where he should come if he wanted dinner. I remember at one point he said to me,
"You do know we have our own house. Where we live. Right?"
I knew we did. But I also knew there was no one there to talk to whose diaper I didn't have to change. Or who could make me a cup of coffee and a scone. So down the road to Grandma and Grandpa's we would go. And that was how I survived the early years of being the sole toilet-trained person at home.
Maybe not the most impressive parenting strategy, but the early years are just a survival game. And I think it was a great strategy everyone should be able to have. I would ask Audrey what she wanted to be when she grew up and she was answer , " A Grandma!" It was a good time for everyone.
But back to my Lone Survivor Day. Actually it was only a few hours, but it felt like I'd been sliding down rocky cliffs and suffering constant ambushes without backup for a week. It started with Shane taking Cyril to an appointment. Which Malachi was very upset about . Having none of it, he broke through the gate Shane installed to keep him from escaping and headed right after them. Cyril noticed and jumped out of the truck to walk him back up the driveway where I was just headed with crying Fi, who also does not like to be left out of any social excursion beyond the confines of our house. I don't know who has been telling her tales of the great big beyond the front door, but she is into it and will take any opportunity of attempting to get there. Fortunately she has not been successful in breaching the gate though I'm sure its just a matter of time before Muffin gives her lessons.  
 I wrestled them back behind the defensive zone, if that works. Shane did not marry me for my love, or knowledge of anything sporty. Though, him being as big a fan as I am, I think I can say whatever I want. Then, being the clever wife that he may, or may not, have married me for, I picked up a scarf and tied the gate shut. Malachi was again upset at being thwarted and quickly went on the offensive by suggesting we foam sword fight. Somehow he had left his sword on the back porch so I would of course have to unlock the back door for him to get it. I couldn't carry both kids and either kid would bolt once the door was opened so I, na├»vely, opened the door and told him to go get it, while I held wiggly Fi back. And of course he went out the door with no intention of ever coming back. Peacefully. Or any other way. Eventually I bribed him with some promise of something to come back in. And quickly locked the door.
I searched my mental data base of things to do when the only thing both kids are capable of doing together is destroying the house and came up with this:
It worked for about 30 min, during which I had to remember the protocols for de-tubbing and dressing two kids both of which have the singular life goal of discovering just how much a toilet is capable of sucking down in one flush. Bing turned up no results to said query so I  winged it by letting them air dry a bit and then offering another bribe to let me get close enough to throw a diaper and some bit of clothing on them both.
And then I thanked the parenting gods when I heard the doorbell, heralding the return of the three older kids from their lessons. Again, thanks to Grandma Trudy for ferrying them.

 Speaking of Malachi and toilets, potty-training is going swimmingly. Meaning you can almost swim from one room to the other, what with all his 'accidents'. It's not that he doesn't get it.  Really he just has a penchant for peeing on most anything. But we can call them accidents, if that makes you/me feel more comfortable. I'm thinking it might be time to get him some big boy shorts. He could really use a new receptacle for his, umm, gifts. And I could really use more laundry to wash. apparently, he could also use some lessons on how to wear said shorts. Or maybe he's trying to start a new trend. Keep an eye out for it next Fashion Week.

If you can use a laugh, Shane took Cyprian shoe shopping but nothing in the store was his size so they ordered some through the store. Two days later, this arrived:

At first I thought these little ones were like a hood ornament for his tennis shoes box. But realized they had sent a little kids 4, instead of a big kids 4. Cyprian was not so amused.
Fiona, on the other hand, was thoroughly amused when Shane and I took her to dinner last night for a final Harrah!
Is that water really for ME?

Ok, Fiona. I think you've had enough.
Everyone's pants were wet by the end of dinner. We did discover in addition to the feel of cold water dribbling down her chin, she also likes beets, limabeans, mahi mahi, and raspberry sorbet. Not so much panna cotta.  Hey, more for mom. She also does not like nursing quietly and discreetly while not exposing mom to a room full of strangers. Not that knowing them would make it any less annoying or difficult to attempt while eating. That is where the Last Harrah comes in. Until she can use a steak knife. Which will probably also be soon, courtesy of Malachi.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Watch Your Back!

Last night we had a bit of a scare. Kateri and Cyprian came running into the room shouting,

"I think there's something wrong with Cyprian's nose!"

Cyprian had his hands covering his nose and half his face. I didn't see any blood, so at first was not to concerned. Cyprian asked in a muffled voice,

"Does this mean there's something wrong with my nose? Is it supposed to sound like this?"

He pushed with his hands, moving his nose side to side. As he did there was a disgusting stomach turning crunching/grinding sound.

Before we could even try assessing his injury they both burst out laughing  and showed us the uncooked spaghetti noodles they were crunching with their teeth.

Apparently they had spent some time researching  practical jokes and were excited to 'share' the fun.

 Later, it was not so fun, when Pippin 'splashed' an empty cup on Audrey, who was heroically eating her breakfast while holding Fi, to whom practical jokes are a way of life, and taking advantage of Audrey's temporary distraction, reached out, grabbed the bowl of cereal, and deposited it and its contents on the floor.

So then we had a little talk about what kind, and when jokes are funny. And when they are not. And unintended consequences and who gets to clean up the mess. As far as practical jokes go, so far they are pretty harmless. Growing up with 5 brothers, and 3 sisters, we had our fair share of practical jokes. It seemed sometimes like we were a frat house and hazing was just a way of life.  It wasn't surprising when you went to get in your freshly run bath only to find out someone had put dishsoap in the running water and you now had a huge bubble bath that  made you smell like freshly scrubbed dishes. I think I used Dawn. And I'm pretty sure my mom was not pleased. Nor was my brother, the intending bather.

But that was not as bad as the times when someone would catch you while you were at your most vulnerable, after you had already started your bathing routine. We only had one bathroom so there was no monopolizing it just so  You could relax in your shower. That's what curtains were for. 

There you were, enjoying your nice shower. The sounds of the water drowning out the noise of the rest of the household, and unbeknownst to you, the sound of someone opening the bathroom door. You were only alerted to the presence of an intruder when the Sneaker, who had thoughtfully filled a large pitcher with ice water,  dumped the contents over the shower rod and all down your exposed and  shivering body, turning your warm shower  into an ice bath. Then before leaving, Sneaker would flush the toilet  to take up all the cold water and run. Leaving you with   streams of scalding   water blasting out the shower head.

Our pranks came in waves, some favorites lasting longer than others. I think the longest reigning and most popular prank was creating short circuits by secretly wiring appliance plugs. The shower tricks we kept to the kid crowd, but this was one the whole family, or even an uninitiated guest, could participate in. We'd get some thin copper wire and wrap it around the prongs of an electrical cord, creating a short circuit when someone was not on their guard  and plugged in whatever appliance they needed without first checking for booby traps. It was great because you could set a trap and no one would know  by whom or when it would be set off. Even if you were still in bed, you could  enjoy the loud pop, the surprised #$%^*!! And say to yourself,

"Ooh. Somebody's about to grind coffee."

And on a great morning you'd get to hear a second *zap* meaning they assumed there was only one rigged plug. And they were about to turn on the coffee maker.

All the outlet covers sported residual black smudges. Evidence of someone's carelessness. And sometimes the victim's fingers, if we were really lucky.

 There really wasn't much damage done, mostly just to peoples' nerves. Nowadays, with all the safety features, such a trick would flip a breaker you'd have to go out to the garage  to reset it and it would be a pain, so I don't recommend it. Just last month, Cyril decided to connect a bunch of small magnets he gathered from a broken toy, and then casually go around testing how strong it was. Oh look, it can pick up the entire metal napkin basket! That's pretty strong. He tested a few appliances for magnetic materials. Oh look, the screws on the switch plate. Maybe it will stick!

Immediately the whole kitchen went dark.

I sent him out to the fuse box. No matter how many times we turned it all the way off and back the breaker would not stay on. So I hung up some Christmas lights and we waited for Shane to investigate when he got home. It was a three switch plate so he replaced the one Cyril had stuck the magnet to. No dice. In the end he had to replace all three. So Shane is not a huge fan of that trick, though he did like the twinkle lights, which are still up and add a festive feel to the whole room.

As science experiments have been at a minimum this year I'm going to put the whole experience in the educational department. And hope that is it for the year.