Friday, March 4, 2016

How Pavlov Helped Me With Bedtime

This post is 100% true, and not satire at all.

No, seriously. I want to tell you about how Pavlov helped me with bedtime.

Azi is 2 and has always been fairly easy about bedtime.

For the first 18 months of his life, bedtime was like this:

- Nurse baby
- Say "it's bedtime!" to baby
- Place baby in his own crib in a dark room (first our room, then his room once he was a year old)
- Kiss baby, say goodnight to baby
- Close door

Yep. That was it. It was like on TV, and it was the dream. A far, far cry from how it was with Aias, who co-sleeped until he was 4 and nursed until through the night until he was well over 3.  It wasn't that we hated co-sleeping with Aias, it was that Azi hated cosleeping. He's the type who needs to be in silent, pitch blackness, completely on his own to sleep. To each his own.

At 18 months the bedtime routine got a bit longer.  We'd warn him about bedtime, and then we'd go into his room and read what started as 3 books, but eventually ended up being about 20. Bedtime went from 2 minutes, to like 30 minutes. I actually sort of loved it, but some nights, it was tiring. More so to us, than to him.

Then at 2, he seemed to have figured out that he could decline bedtime. He could ask for drinks, say he needed to use the toilet, complain that his toenails were chipped and needed repainting, etc, etc. Before we even got to the books!

After like 4 days of this (don't hate me), I decided I couldn't let this previously perfect situation devolve.  We'd been winning so far and I wasn't gonna give this life up.  It was when he was having his third drink of the night, I put my phone timer on for 5 seconds.

5...4...3...2...1...

BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.

He stopped what he was doing and looked toward the beeping phone.

"That's the bedtime alarm" I said "That means it's bedtime. Let's go!"

He trusts me, and I made this declaration with 100% confidence.

He looked at me fairly seriously, and put his arms out to me.  We went into his room, put him into his bed, kissed him goodnight, turned the light off, closed the door, and he went to sleep.

The next night, I did the same.  The next night, I did the same. The next night, I did the same.

After like 5 nights, I put the alarm on.  He stopped what he was doing, ran toward me, and asked to go to bed.

A few nights ago, he was giving Morgan a bit of the run around before bed.  So I said "Ok, I'm gonna show you a trick, but you better not judge me" and I did my thing.

Morgan was astonished, because of course, I am tricky and awesome.

I told him he could use the trick, but he could never screw it up or I would be super pissed off.  He needed to do it exactly perfectly, so Azi always needed to be in PJs, wearing a night diaper, and with a bottle ready.  There could be no delaying.  Any pause in the perfect process could possibly break the ritual and then we'd have to come up with another method, which I'm very lazy about.

The only issue now, is that when I time the laundry, I can't use my phone timer.  I tried the the other day, and Azi asked for an untimely nap.  Had to follow through with it to keep true to my game.

I don't feel guilty about this at all. There's comfort in ritual, and no one has to cry.

Fin.

Thanks, bro. 


 
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Monday, January 18, 2016

For Time to Stand Still

It's April 14th, 1991.
I am a week shy of 8 years old, and I am crying.
I am crying because tomorrow is my mom's birthday.
She is going to turn 27.
I am convinced she is old; so old, in fact, that surely she will die soon.

I am devastated and I sob.  My parents are likely annoyed, maybe a little amused.  My dad hugs me and says "Mom isn't old, she's young. How do you think I feel, I'm almost 30!"

He's trying to be funny. I cry louder.  I'm a very sensitive and stubborn child. If I am convinced my mom is ancient and near death, there's no convincing me otherwise.

A year earlier, or maybe a year later, I cry on New Year's Even with the same level of anxiety and concern, because the year is almost over and we will never have that year again.

Never. Ever.

Because this is the type of thing that alarms me. We eat Chinese Food and I sob.  My sister plays toys oblivious, because I do this kind of thing all the time.

It's the summer of 1993.
I am 10 years old and I am staying with Oma and Opa at our Summer House in Lake Ossipee.
It's raining, which is basically the worst.
Opa is sitting on his reclining chair, wearing yellow shorts.
He's reading the newspaper.
I am reading the comics, of every newspaper from the past few months.
Opa has them saved in a stack behind his chair so they can be used as kindling for the wood stove.  They are the weekly papers, and I discover for the first time that they have comics too.  I
Thank. God.
I'm going to read them all so I don't die of boredom.
He yells into the kitchen "Hey Betty, do you remember [some guy's name]. He died!"
Oma remembers him.  They don't seem particularly sad.

Opa turns to me and says "When you get to be my age you read the obituaries, because the people you know start to die of all sorts of things."
He says this very matter of factly and continues reading.

"That's horrible" I say.

That night at dinner we are eating corn on the cob, and there is no proper salt.
Instead there is a bizarre product called "No Salt."  It tastes like shit, and I can't figure out why they would make something that is called No Salt, but it is used in place of salt, and literally tastes nothing like salt.

Opa tells me it lowers your blood pressure so you live longer.  At the time, I'm not sure it's worth it.  We are also eating margarine which is also supposed to make you live longer.

18 years later, Opa dies.  I am devastated.

At his funeral, I think of the No Salt. I wonder how many extra years it bought him, if any.  My mind starts to wander, "Did it COST him years?" and then I stop myself.  I cannot let that be so.

We know the truth about margarine now, and often, I wonder if there's a truth to No Salt.

I don't allow myself to Google it.

I can't remember the time frame of some of these memories.

At one point, my Oma's best friend dies.  Her name was Anne.  She was a wonderful woman I had met dozens of times.
Some time passes, and Oma and I are in the car.
I'm not sure where we were driving.
A Rod Stewart song comes on the radio.
It reminds Oma of her best friend and she cries.
We talk about it, a little. I know all the words and we sing it together.

When I hear someone has died, I hope they are old. Somehow, it sounds better if they are old.

"She died of old age"
"She died, but she was very old"

Anne did not die of old age, she died of cancer. I know this is exactly how you don't want to die.

But if you just die from being old, then that's easy right? It sounds absolutely innocuous to die when you are old.  As a kid, I imagined that somehow, when you are old and you die, everyone around you is ok with it. Because after all, you were old. And old people die. It's only sad when a young person dies, because that's just tragic. Right?

The first funeral I remember attending was my Oma's mother.  She was a fixture in our family. Her and her husband, who I think was named Bill.  We called her Grammie, and she was blind. Bill (was that his name?) was a nice man and would always walk around holding her hand, guiding her.

When she died it was strange.  I don't remember if I felt sad, I just felt... strange.  Dodie, who was my grandfather's cousin, but basically a bonus grandparent/aunt to us, asked me if I wanted to go to the funeral. The answer was yes, because I had not been to one before.

I don't remember the funeral being weird, but I do remember everyone seemed relieved and I don't know that I saw anyone cry.  We went to Howard Johnson's afterward, and there was a bunch of food left over.  Dodie insisted we bring the leftovers home, since they'd been paid for, after all.

They were good sandwiches, but when we brought them home, no one ate them. They had been delightful and delicious at the gathering after the funeral, but it was as if they had crossed the line after that point.  The death was to stay at Howard Johnson's.

Don't bring death home.

We've always been a food loving family, but it was as if they were death sandwiches, and we all knew it.

I remember my mom throwing them away. Good riddance to them. Now we were all safe.

Through all these years, my family was constant.
My mom and dad, my Oma and Opa, Dodie and John, Grandpa and Pat, my aunts and uncles, my cousins.
It was as if they had always been there, and always would be.

When Opa died in 2011, the bubble burst.  As ridiculous as it probably seemed, until that point I was fully convinced my core family was impervious to death.

I had known many people who had died, but it seemed like our family was well beyond that. We'd just be eternal like rocks.

When Opa died, everyone seemed vulnerable.  Every car ride was a potential fatality, every cough was the sign of a cancer that had spread to the lungs, every phone call was obviously someone reporting to me that someone had died.

When anyone calls, the first thing I say now is not "Hello," but rather, "Is everything ok?"

And normally it is, except for when it's not.

And when I think back to when I was a child, and all the times that I had wished for time to pass, I can't shake the feeling of regret.

I wished the time away so very often.

It would be forever until I was in "real school" when you got to stay all day instead of just half day for kindergarten.
It would be forever until I got to be a 5th grader and take part in the Invention Convention.
It would be forever until I got to be in Middle School.
It would be forever until I got to be in High School.
It would be forever until I got to move out.

Gone, gone. All the time gone.

When my 6-year-old sits on the couch at night and we look at books, his feet are gigantic. He puts them on my lap and they are not the tiny baby feet they once were. I think back to when I wished away the sleepless nights, wanting him to be bigger. Now I don't want him to be bigger at all. And now I don't even necessarily want to sleep, because it seems like a waste of time.

Now when I lay in bed at night, I hope that time will go slowly.
I hope that hours will take days.

I think of how annoying my 2-year-old was at some point or another that day, and how I'd happily have him annoy me just the same way for a decade or more as a 2-year-old.

I lay and wonder how many more times I will see my dad, or my mom, or my sisters, or my Oma.
I love them so much and they are so far away.
I wonder, will I see them 5 more times?
Will I be that lucky?

I wish that time would stand still, if only just for a while.

And I wish it would give me all my people back.




 
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Monday, January 4, 2016

Squirrelfish Life

This is a squirrel:



Cute, right?  Sure.  But its life sort of sucks.  It runs around naked and furry, moving nuts around.  Just moving nuts from place to place.

Day.
After Day.
After Day.

Yeah... I know what I just said.  Calm down, perverts.

Anyway, squirrels are adorable or whatever, but I wouldn't want to be one.  But lately I definitely feel like one.  Though I am not naked and furry moving nuts around (there, I did it again), there are similarities, TRUST ME.

I love STUFF.  My stuff, specifically.  So I find myself day in and day out, running around putting stuff away, "tidying," decluttering, whatever you want to call it. And it is just starting to feel absurd. What am I doing, really, besides moving an object from one place to another, because in one place it makes me feel like I'm tidy and in another place it makes me feel like I'm not tidy, and for what?

I clean and tidy NONSTOP.  It's miserable. And lately I just feel like a stupid squirrel.  Why am I moving all my stuff from place to place? It just gets moved again.  Then days and days go by. And I tell myself, "I'll do X once the place is in good shape" or whatever. And guess what? It's NEVER perfect. I just squirrel... and squirrel... and squirrel.

A squirrels life is NO LIFE for a human.

I think for a long time I thought I just needed the best storage solutions ever, or a bigger place.  I think the fact is, I'd probably fill any storage space or any sized home with more stuff.

Because guess what?

This is a goldfish:



And I'm kind of like one of those too.  You see, apparently goldfish grow to fit whatever sized space they are in.

I TOTALLY GET THAT.  Because evidently, I do the same damn thing.

So now I have to ask myself, do I love my stuff so much that I want to spend my days shuffling it around like a squirrel? Or do I want to do actual fun things and have experiences with my family?

The answer is, I want to squirrel less FOR SURE. But I do love my stuff.  So I need to strike some sort of balance.

What's my solution for this problem?

HA! Did you think this was the type of blog entry that solved a problem? Sorry, you'll need Pinterest for that. I am so not that person. I don't really have a steadfast solution to this.

So far, I've been checking out different Facebook groups and blogs that are run entirely by robot people who are completely not-squirrel or goldfish like, who seem to have no material attachments whatsoever, but are still not completely Buddhist-like, so they have computers and Internet access.

Fortunately I also have friends to talk to, since none of them want to be squirrels, either.

So it seems I have some serious thinking to do. And planning. And I'll keep updating on my progress, if I have any, or if I find similarities between myself and any other animals.
 
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Sunday, January 3, 2016

Oh, Christmas Tree

I LOVED Christmas vacation.

It wasn't really my vacation, I suppose. And Morgan really only had a few days off. But having Aias home from school and being able to spend every day with both children is always my favourite. It's not to say they are perfect, but there's something really nice about having them both under my roof at the same time.

Our Christmas tree is still up, which is super strange for us. Christmas is my favourite day ever, but then when the 26th comes along, I want every sign of Christmas GONE.  It just seems so wrong to keep it around beyond the 25th.

Normally we'd have taken it down immediately on the morning of the 26th, but this year we obviously did not.  My mother-in-law was visiting and it seemed like a boring thing to do with a houseguest. I thought we'd take it down right after she left, but Morgan got sick.  I thought we'd take it down tonight, but we aren't.   We can't take it to be recycled into wood chips until the 9th, and we can't bring our Christmas stuff back to storage until this coming weekend (it isn't open late hours during the work week), so instead of taking the ornaments off tonight, we will look at it shining bright all week, remove the ornaments Friday night, and bring it to be chipped on Saturday followed by a trip to storage with all the Christmas goodies.

Better to look at the beautifully ornamented and lit tree all week, than to look at boxes and a bare dead tree, right?

I really liked it this year.


 
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Saturday, January 2, 2016

Resolutions for 2016: The Year of Intention

Don't even get me started on all the anti-resolution sentiments that seemed to populate social media last year.  Half my friends were coming up with New Year's Resolutions (like is done), and the other half were spouting hipster anti-resolution sentiments, but making sure they took the time to post them like 10x a day.  Because obviously it's way cooler to constantly talk about how you aren't resolving to better yourself in any way, than to actually make a resolution, however unlikely you are to follow through with it.

WHATEVER.  Those people suck.

This year people seem more, erm, resolute? Hardy har har. It's probably because we are getting so old now.  We have finally embraced the concept of bettering ourselves.



I have no problem making New Year's Resolutions.  I happen have a number of things I want to accomplish in 2016.  I will list them below for accountability.

1.  Eating out no more than once per week
2.  Sticking to a cash budget like we have in the past
3.  Running one road race per month
4.  Doing one sudoku puzzle per week
5.  Reading one book per month
6.  Being more intentional in everything I do

My "word" of the year is going to be "INTENTION." I want to do everything with more actual intention, rather than just coasting by or going with the flow.

Good luck, self.



  
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