Thursday, November 29, 2007

As difficult as it is normally to deal with Charlotte's erratic sleep habits, it's exponentially worse when handling it alone. No matter how frustrated I'm getting listening to her "cry it out" (ha!) or bending over her crib soothing her, I know that if I get too wiped out I can pass the baton to Jeff. It was very hard this morning after the third round of crying and soothing and waking up again to go back to our bedroom and see Jeff's side of the bed, neatly made. I was all alone with an unreasonable child.

Charlotte had three great nights of fairly difficult bedtimes but then sleeping through the night. That streak was broken Monday night, the last night Jeff was home before leaving for Honduras. Tuesday she woke up at 2:30 and went to sleep at 4. Last night she was up at 1:30 and finally dropped off at 5.

When I look at that time span (3 1/2 hours!) I'm amazed I held it together as well as I did. I freaked out at one point, yelled at her ("go to sleep!") and then left the room and called my parents. My dad, for the record, sounds very lucid on the phone at 2:30 a.m. central time. Even though I still had an hour and a half of work ahead of me after I got off the phone with him, I felt better--comforted, less alone.

And this morning, after my piddly two and a half hours of sleep, my friend Wendy was kind enough to come over and watch Charlotte while I took a nap. I woke up feeling refreshed, even though I'm pretty sure I was dreaming about my new career as a car thief.

What will I do if she does this every single night? Just keep working, crying, and calling when need be, I guess. It's all I can do.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

This is not an auspicious beginning.

It is 3:43 a.m. I am up folding laundry. It's one way to pass the time while I let my baby scream herself hoarse for the third round of crying. She's been awake since 2:30 a.m.


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Today at 4:30 p.m., I dropped Jeff off at our church. From there he drove with a group of other parishoners to Columbus, where they'll spend the night before flying out to Honduras early tomorrow morning.

Jeff and the group of volunteers from church will be working for a week at Montana de Luz, an orphanage for HIV positive kids south of Tegucigulpa. He'll be back home December 5.

I'm really excited for Jeff. I had the opportunity to go on two international mission trips when I was in college (Honduras in 1997, the Philippines in 1999), but Jeff never did. When calls for volunteers to go on this year's trip came up this past summer, I nudged Jeff. "You should do that. You should go," I said. I knew I'd be done with school for the quarter by then, and that if there was any good time for me to single parent, that would be it.

His wheels started turning, and a few months later he signed on. Thanks to the generous donations of our friends and family in addition to church fundraising he was able to come up with all the money he needed to take the trip. And he managed at the last minute to get his (apparently lost) passport renewed and expedited. On the way to church today he did mention he forgot to pack a towel, but those of us who know Jeff know his penchant for not showering should make that not too much of an issue.

I really hope he has an amazing, transformative experience there. And I hope Charlotte and I are able to hold it all together here. I have a network of friends from school and church who have gone out of their way to let me know they're available to watch Charlotte for an hour or two here or there so I can maybe get a run in or go out for a cup of coffee. My biggest concern is the nights. After three great nights of sleep, Charlotte was back up to her old tricks last night, waking up at 2:30 and finally drifting off again around 4 a.m. Boo. Let's hope that's not a sign of things to come.

I'll keep you all posted about Jeff as I hear from him/the group. Check out that link above; it's a pretty amazing place.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Charlotte turned 17 months old on Jeff's birthday, November 23.

She nursed for the last time on November 22.

I never expected to be one of those people, one of those moms who is still nursing past the first birthday. I wanted to nurse up until her first birthday, sure (as recommended by many doctors and the World Health Organization, among others), but I guess I imagined a scene like this: Charlotte's first birthday party. The cupcake with single lit candle is produced. The crowd sings to the smiling little cherub. She destroys the cupcake in artistic fashion. Then she turns to me and says, in complete sentences, "Now that I'm one, mother, I disdain the breast. Thank you for your services, but from now on I will drink only from a cup and will also endeavor to do my own laundry."

Everything I wrote about happened, except for that last part. In fact, when Charlotte turned one, she showed no signs of slowing down in the nursing department. Quite the opposite, actually. She had learned to say "nurse," and now demanded nursing morning, noon, and night. I was upset about it for a while. I felt like I was ready to quit, to reclaim my body as my own.

But a number of friends and sources and, most importantly, Jeff, made me realize that this summer was probably not the best time to force weaning on Charlotte. "It'll probably happen more naturally when she's ready," one friend said. "You'll just know when that is."

I definitely knew when she was ready, but boy did it happen suddenly. I wasn't even planning on weaning last week. I just got too busy. Wednesday morning Jeff woke up with Charlotte and I slept a little longer, so we missed the morning nursing session. Then I was so busy Wednesday evening with the rebaking of burnt pies and other Thanksgiving preparations that Jeff whisked Charlotte off to bed without the aid of my mammaries. Same thing Thursday morning--too busy, and Charlotte was too distracted by Uncle Scott (a.k.a. Uncle Awesome, a distinct improvement over Uncle Caca) to care.

So one thing led to another and then it was Saturday and I was buying cabbage to shove in my bra and now it's Monday and I haven't nursed in four full days. So I guess we're weaning.

In quite possibly related news, Charlotte slept through the night the last two nights. We've made some changes, which I'll write more about later, but needless to say this is a vast improvement over the kind of sleep we were getting before. Hallelujah. Thanks for all your advice and well-wishes and concern. It really helped.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Happy birthday, Jeff. Your figure's changed a bit since we first met (11 years ago!) but I love you just the same.

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Last night, Charlotte went to bed (after the normal three rounds of crying and comforting) around 8:30 p.m. She slept until almost 2 a.m., when I heard her crying and saying "Mama" over the monitor. I waited ten minutes, then went in to the dark room. Jeff had turned the nightlight off. I kept it off and didn't get her out of her crib--just lay her back down and comforted her for a few minutes. It was hard to see in the darkened room, but I could tell by her breathing that she was asleep. I snuck out.

Then I woke up at 8 a.m. What? Wait, huh? I peeked in her room just to make sure she still had a pulse. Yep, still breathing. She woke up a half-hour later, totally refreshed and cheerful. She's now reading books with uncle ca-ca, who arrived last night.

If it could have been this easy all along, I'm going to feel really stupid.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

No, I really burned the pie.

Let's get that depressing post off the top, shall we? How about an amusing anecdote instead!

This year I'm hosting Thanksgiving for a mishmash of friends and family. I've never done the whole turkey-stuffing-pie fest myself, so I wanted to be prepared. Today was prep day, where I spent time assembling casseroles, peeling and soaking potatoes, and baking pies. I finished one pie this afternoon, a sour cream apple. It was a thing of beauty. I set it on the stovetop to cool.

A couple hours later, Jeff asked me if I wanted a cup of tea. He put the kettle on to boil. A minute later, I smelled something distinctly smoky. Then, from my vantage point on the couch, I spotted the reflection of something in our stainless steel canisters...something that looked a lot like fire.

"Do you smell something?" Jeff asked.

"Uh, I think there's a fire in the kitchen. Like, an actual fire," I responded.

Jeff checked it out. Later he told me that he stood in the entrance of the kitchen and lightly blew on the inferno, which at this point was sending two-foot flames shooting into the air. Then he called for me.

I grabbed the fire extinguisher, urged Jeff to take the baby outside, and assumed my macho stance as I hosed down the fire.

Somehow Jeff had turned on the front burner, directly under the pie, instead of the back burner, under the teakettle. Oops. The pie was a total loss, I'm sorry to say. I also got to give my kitchen that deep-cleaning I'd been longing to give it for some time. Man, that stuff inside the extinguisher really gets everywhere.

Let's hope tomorrow's celebrations are a lot less fiery. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone.

Friday, November 16, 2007

More Video!

Charlotte's been busy. This is a long one, so make sure to take a bathroom break before you start it.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

New Video!

Charlotte's Halloween 2007.

More video coming soon!

Saturday, November 10, 2007

News Brief: Uncle Scott is now "uncle ca-ca."

That's an improvement over "uncle cocks," which is what Charlotte was calling him a few days ago.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

This morning, as I was getting ready for school, Jeff and Charlotte were reading books in Charlotte's room. I heard lots of chatter from Charlotte, so I went to check it out.

The morning light was soft and pale, that November light that signals the beginning of winter. Jeff sat in the old white rocking chair with Charlotte, still in her pink footie pajamas, on his lap. They were reading "Caps for Sale," and Charlotte was telling Jeff about the "monkeys...peekaboo! Tss tss tss!"

It's not available in stores, but that's the best gift I could have gotten for my 30th birthday.


On a more humorous note:

If you ask Charlotte how old she is, she'll say "one!" and hold up her finger. I've been trying to teach her how old Jeff and I are. "How old is mama, Charlotte?" I'd ask. "One!" she'd reply enthusiastically. "No, mama is thirty, Charlotte. Can you say thirty?"

She thought about it for a second, then said, "FORTY!"

Let's go back to "one," how about.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

A week late for Halloween, but:

Ghost Swing!

A real post, about Charlotte, coming as soon as I finish grading these papers.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Happy Halloween

Last night's trick-or-treating extravaganza went well, although Charlotte flubbed her lines. We'd been rehearsing the event for some days now. First we'd knock on something to simulate knocking on people's doors. "What do you say when they open the door?" I'd ask Charlotte. By yesterday she had it down. "Turkey teat!" she'd cry out. I'd mime putting candy in her bag, prompt her to say thanks ("Sank oo") and then wish the givers a happy Halloween.

Something happened when we got out into the neighborhood among the other costumed kids. Charlotte took one look at the bowls full of shiny, colorful candy and lost all her inhibitions and training. "What do you say, Charlotte?" I prompted her. But instead of turkey teat, she said something I had never heard her say before. "MORE CANDY!"

She varied her request through the night, sometimes requesting "more num-nums" or just "more," but we didn't once get her to say trick-or-treat. She was saying thank you, however, by halfway through the night. And I think I heard a couple "halloween"s in there as well. But somewhere between our back door and that first house, she channelled a normal, candy-grubbing beggar instead of the polite little urchin we were hoping for. Oh, well.