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Sleep (and lack thereof)

August 15, 2013

Do you get enough sleep every night? I certainly don’t. Partly my own fault, and partly my toddler son’s fault. He’s never been a great sleeper, from his newborn days, and continues to give us challenges. I don’t feel alone. Talking to other parents, it seems like sleep always comes up as a topic of annoyance / stress / complete despair. And, it seems to come up at every age and stage.

Lately, the issue in our house isn’t J sleeping through the night, it’s getting to sleep quickly and staying asleep long enough. J takes forever to settle at night (a consequence of going pacifier-less, moving to a big bed, and generally just being an energetic little fellow.). For a long time, we’d put him to bed at 8:30 and he wouldn’t fall asleep until 9:30 — or later. But he seemed to make up for this by sleeping in until at least 7:30am. Lately, he’s been taking a long time to fall asleep and, for some inexplicable reason, getting up by 6:00am every day. He also skips his naps not infrequently. The result? A very sleep deprived, cranky toddler. Which means a very sleep deprived, cranky mother. Not a great combination.

I’m hoping that, like many other phases, this too shall pass. But, in the meantime, we got him this OK to Wake clock that glows green when it’s time to get out of bed. My dream? Even if J wakes up at 5:45am, he will refrain from waking me until the green light goes off at 7. He may still be cranky, but I’ll be a little better equipped to deal with the tears and defiance and tantrums.

Here are some sleep tips from the Mayo Clinic for any insomniacs out there — with or without sleepless toddlers.

[image via here]

A day at the beach

August 11, 2013

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Ah, the beach. How I love you so. We had absolutely perfect weather here in Boston this weekend (sunny, low 80s, low humidity) so we spent the day at Crane Beach in Ipswich, MA — less than an hour from our house. Taking nothing away from my lovely lake weekend with the girls — but you really can’t beat the ocean. A day at the beach is pretty much the most relaxing outing you can take with a toddler. J can occupy himself for quite some time in the sand, while I get caught up on my beach reading. Current beach bag contents? The List, a fun, fast-paced book about a young reporter in Washington DC who uncovers a juicy scandal. Summer is coming to an end too fast, but I hope we’re able to do some more quick trips to the beach.

Vermillion

August 6, 2013

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I spent the weekend with my best friends in Vermillion, Ohio — not far from where we grew up on the west side of Cleveland. That’s (some of) us on a bench watching a beautiful sunset over Lake Erie. As much as I appreciate my current proximity to an ocean, I can’t forget how wonderful the Great Lakes are — not quite the ocean, but so much more than just a lake.

Vermillion is a small lakeside community about forty-five minutes from Cleveland, where many Clevelanders have summer homes. Especially in light of our now annual Boston-Cape Cod trek, Vermillion’s short distance from the city,  lack of traffic and general sleepiness is completely refreshing. It’s a perfect summer getaway, and the ideal place for a girls’ weekend where we spent our time sitting on the beach, or in the house with a beautiful view of the beach — just talking and talking and talking.

Motherhood many ways

August 1, 2013

One of my favorite mothering and life blogs, A Cup of Jo, has recently started a series called Motherhood Around the World. It highlights American mothers who are raising their kids in another country. Through their words and lovely pictures, they share things that surprise them about motherhood abroad. Truly fascinating.

Did you know that in Congo, babies ride on their mothers’ backs with them everywhere from three weeks old to two years old?

And did you know that in Norway, most kids start Barnehage (Norwegian for “children’s garden” — basically Norwegian pre-school and daycare)  when they’re one year old? It’s subsidized by the government to encourage people to go back to work. And it’s a good time to go back: Norwegian mothers get 10 months maternity leave at 100% pay or 12 months maternity leave at 80% pay.

And did you know that in the more rural areas of Japan, the entire town helps the kids walk safely to school?

You can read and view more of the Motherhood Around the World series by clicking the links below — and keep checking back to A Cup of Jo because the series will continue. I’m looking forward to the next installment.

Democratic Republic of Congo

Norway

Japan

[All images via A Cup of Jo]

What should we call me?

July 30, 2013

Our second baby — a boy! — is due in mid-December. There are many potential anxieties associated with adding a member to your family, but the most pressing for me at the moment is what to call the little guy.

For some reason I have trouble with boy names. Maybe because many names sound good for a man, but I can’t imagine it as a moniker for a teeny little baby.  Or maybe because many boy names come with an automatic nickname, no matter how much you like the full given name (Mike from Michael or Andy from Andrew). Or maybe just because I have to actually decide on a boy’s name — girl names are easier because I can talk about them only in theory at this point.

There’s one thing for sure about boy and girl names: naming has become quite the source of parental anxiety these days. There are dozens of websites devoted to the topic so you can research and obsess for hours upon mind-numbing hours. Some (insane) couples have even taken to holding a focus group to help determine their baby’s name. One of my favorite bloggers asked for advice from readers on her popular blog.

In the end, after all of the obsessing, the baby really becomes his name, and you can’t imagine it any other way. I recently looked at the list of names we had before J was born. It’s funny to think of calling him anything but the name we actually chose.

Here are some fun baby name time-wasters:

  • Baby Name Voyager on babynamewizard.com shows you how popular each name is graphically through time. (Wonder if George will spike next year?)
  • Nameberry.com has a lot of fun tools, including lists like Classic Baby Names and Cool Baby Names. (As parents, we’re probably more in the Classic than Cool camp, but maybe we should give our next child a leg up in the coolness factor by picking a cool name.)
  • The baby names section of the Social Security website lets you search official stats over time, and even lets you search by state so you can figure out what’s popular right where you are.
  • Nymblr.com will suggest baby names based on ones you already like, and let you save a list of your favorites.

And finally, the ultimate time-waster not associated with baby names, but the inspiration for the title of this blog post.

 

[image via here]

Babies are born moral — and biased

July 30, 2013

I saw a fascinating segment on 60 Minutes last night. Studies done at Yale’s Baby Lab show that morality is inherent — and so is bias. Babies as young as three months prefer puppets who are helpful and giving. They also prefer puppets who are similar to them — in this case, the puppet likes the same snacks that they do. Some very interesting implications.

You can see the segment here. It’s worth a watch — especially because the babies are pretty adorable.

[Image via cbsnews.com]

Separation anxiety

July 26, 2013

I haven’t been posting as often as I used to. The main culprit is that, after 2.5 years, I’ve returned to work part-time. I know, I know — 4.5 months pregnant is a good time to go back to work. But, it was a can’t-pass-it-up opportunity. One of my most-favorite colleagues from my first job in Chicago now works at a Boston-based company. She’ll be my (very flexible) boss. It’s mostly working from home, and only 20 hours a week. Couldn’t really ask for anything more. I figured, if I’m ever going back, this is the way to do it.

So far I’m really glad that I’m doing it. But it has been stressful at times — not so much in the work aspect, but in the mothering aspect. I stressed about leaving J with someone else — even for such a short amount of time each week. (Would he feel like I was abandoning him? Would he be sad, especially when I’m holed up in a room in the house on calls?) Lucky for me, he’s an incredibly flexible child who loves new people. Today, I had to spend the whole day in the office and I left him with a relatively new babysitter.  I wondered if he’d be upset, seeing me drive off in the morning, or ask about me during the day. “I’ll be home a little bit after your nap,” I told him. “When the moon comes out?” he said. “No, way before that. Just a little after you wake up.” And he smiles at me and keeps showing the babysitter his toys — quite excitedly. Didn’t even blink an eye when I drove off.

As it turns out, I’m the one with the separation anxiety.

Good food: Really, really easy chicken breasts

July 22, 2013

I found the easiest, fastest chicken breast recipe this week. It’s from theKitchn, a site I haven’t yet frequently but may have to start.  It’s very simple, and done completely on the stovetop: dredge in flour and spices, sear on high heat for 1 minute, turn down heat to medium and cover for 10 minutes, turn heat off and let sit — still covered — for 10 minutes. Don’t peek! The chicken breasts came out very tender.

So simple and good.

Here’s the link to the original post on theKitchn.

[Photo via here]

Growing up fast

July 18, 2013

I’m always the last to see things, so it probably makes no sense for me to post anything remotely viral on my blog.

But just in case you haven’t seen it: watch this amazing video created by a dad all about his son’s first year — a second a day. You watch this little boy go from newborn to walking in the span of the short video.

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I sat watching it by myself and crying. (I am pregnant, mind you.) It seems like J was just that teeny-tiny, and that he grew up in just that span of time — poof, suddenly he’s going to be three. No doubt our next little boy (we found out this morning!) will grow up just as fast. (Cue: pregnant lady tears.)

Chilling out

July 18, 2013

It’s been way hot here in Boston. And we’ve been doing out best to chill — mostly by going to the pool. Last year, J was very tentative in the water. This year, he’s a little fish. Partly, he’s older and less afraid. And, partly he’s bigger and fits this Puddle Jumper. He’s able to “swim” on his own all over the pool, with me trailing close behind. He’s gotten really confident “jumping” off the side (it’s really a big step — he hasn’t really mastered the jump yet, even on dry land).

We’ve enjoyed some chill treats, too, thanks to J’s grandparents who sent us this Zoku slush and shake maker. My favorite? Frozen lemonade. J likes apple juice.

And, finally: some thoughts on chilling out as a parent. Funny — and actually useful — advice for any parent in today’s high pressure parenting environment.

[image via here]