Monday, June 27, 2011

We Need Your Vote!

Vote for us in the Parents Cover Contest! Our Beautiful Boy: Charlie is in the running to become a weekly Reader's Choice Winner! One winner will be chosen as a finalist at the Professional Cover Shoot! Vote now at!" Thanks!!

P.S. You can vote once ever day until the contest ends on July 3, 2011. You can also vote mote than once by using any additional email addresses you have.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Three "B" Words

We've been devoting a lot of time and energy to three little words in our house lately, all of which begin with the letter "b." 
Big Boy Bed!
I've posted about this before, here and here regarding the issues with our little man and sleep.  He is an amazing, wonderful, smart, funny, sweet little boy but sleep - or rather independent sleep - has always been somewhat problematic in our household.  He wants to be where we (and the action) are, period.  He sleeps beautifully, with us.  It's been a big challenge for me.  On one hand, I want him to sleep all night in his own room, but on the other hand, I have a lot of trouble with letting him CIO.  I used to be a believer in CIO but then I read (maybe too much?) about attachment issues in adoption and I decided, unequivocally, that I want to do everything I can to help, rather than hinder that process in our lives.  Some part of me still thinks we should just do CIO for two weeks and be done with it but, as I shared in my previous posts, that is excruciating for me.  Our son is a strong willed little person and I have a (very large) soft spot for him!   

In any case, this problem has ebbed and flowed in our lives since we became parents.  He has always slept better when being held and he needed to be swaddled well past the six month mark, in order to get good sleep.  During the latter part of my first semester of student teaching last fall, I basically gave up and started letting him sleep in our bed.  Until that point, I had been trying to get him to sleep in his own room but, inevitably, one of us (usually my dear, sweet husband) would cave in and the little one would end up in our bed at some point during the night, usually on the earlier end.  There came a point when I was simply too tired and I decided it was not an issue I was going to expend my energy on any longer.  I'm a little ashamed to admit that I literally just gave up but it's the truth.  Besides, some parts of the arrangement we had going were nice.  With being so busy, I wasn't spending as much time with the little boy as usual so it was nice to have that extra cuddle time with him.  

Buuuuut then it started affecting our marriage. We were irritable with each other & just not connecting the way we once had.  It came to mind that some of the issues were stemming from our little bedroom invader.  I'm not even talking about the private aspects of marriage here, although that was a factor too.  The hardest part was that our  simple cuddling/together time where we could reconnect with each other as mutual adults who share a partnership and love for an amazing little boy was nonexistent. For a time there, I felt that each of us had a great relationship with our son, but that our relationship with each other was taking a big back seat to our child.  Heck, not even a back seat...more like a dangling from the tail pipe by a thread position.  Not good.  
So, that left only one option, do something about it.  After some discussion, and yes, I'll admit it, even some arguing, we agreed that we had to tackle the bedtime issue.  Michael works two jobs so I found that I was often the one trying to fix it all.  Once I finally had the necessary conversation with Michael that we had to tackle the issue together as a team, things got much better. We still have our own unique nuances and ways of dealing with our son but we are a united front & Charlie is responding to that.  I made/am making a big deal about us getting and staying on the same page because that was definitely a factor in letting this issue get out of hand.  To tell the truth, we are just now coming out of that phase, and we're still learning how to get it right.  We are both working hard to make sure our son's bedtime is routine, routine, routine.   So seems to be working, mostly. 
About two weeks ago, we took the side rail off his crib, made a big production of getting him new sheets and a pillow, read stories about bed time (in which I overemphasized kids sleeping in their OWN beds.) Now we start the bedtime process by around 7:30 most nights.  We sit in his rocking chair while we read two stories, (sometimes with a perusal of his baby book thrown in too,) and sing three songs.  He gets in bed & I tuck him in and he...usually...goes to sleep.  Or I should say, he's starting to go to sleep.  We started this new routine two weeks ago and we are just now breaking through to where the rhythm is setting in and we are getting less resistance.  We had some rough nights there where it was taking him, literally, hours to fall asleep.  Then I got a little smarter and started leaving the room.  Sometimes he will try to get up and follow me, at which point I firmly tell him to get back into bed.  I say, "Mommy loves you very much but it's time to go to bed now."  He will ask us why he has to sleep in his own bed & I explicitly tell him, "Because Mommy & Daddy need Mommy & Daddy time; Charlie needs Charlie time."   Sometimes he shakes his head repeatedly as he says, "No not a want to seep in YaYa own bed want to seep in mommy/daddy own bed."  But, on some level, I think he's getting it.   The consistency and repetition is helping. 

I'll be honest and tell you that he still ends up making his way into our room by around 4:00 a.m. most mornings; however, I think the resolution of that will be phase two of this operation.  For now, we're getting some much-needed time for us, he's sleeping better (if not perfectly,) and we are all feeling much happier now that we've resumed our efforts at dealing with the issues head on, together.  It is taking, and will take time.  This will probably be something with which we will struggle for several years.  It is a learning process for all of us, and we are far from perfect.  I think the important thing, which is the thing on which we are actually making headway, is to be able to strike a balance between meeting our son's needs and letting those needs govern our entire lives, even our marriage.  I actually think he feels safer and more secure when there are some firm limits put into place, and when we have some expectations of him that are clearly identified, such as, "Charlie sleeps in his own bed because he's a big boy and big boys sleep in their own beds."  

For now...we are getting there, one day at a time.  I figured I should share some of what we've been doing/dealing with because I know there are others out there who struggle with some of these same issues.  Getting enough, high quality sleep is so important, it affects every aspect of our lives.  And yet, it's one of the things that is changed most profoundly when we become parents.  We all deal with it on some level but when you have a child for whom sleep is problematic, the issues are tenfold.  Here's to many peaceful nights ahead!   





Thursday, June 2, 2011

Spaghetti Arms & Meatball Hugs

And just like that...the two-year-old shows his sunny side again.  Last night while we were sitting at dinner, he literally had my face in his hands and was giving me kiss after kiss, right on the lips.  It was the sweetest thing ever.  Well, that is unless you count our recent game invention of "spaghetti arms & meatball hugs." 

He has such sweet, skinny little arms that I started saying, "Give me spaghetti arms" when I wanted a hug because I love the way his arms feel as they wrap around my neck.  Smart little chap that he is, he turned our new game from "spaghetti arms" into meatball hug.  Now he will run up with his arms stretched out wide, wrap his adorable spaghetti arms around my neck and smush his cheek up against mine as he is saying, "meeebaaaa huuuuuug" over and over.

Now that, friends, for sure, is the cutest. thing. ever.  Ahhh the joys of toddler-hood!