We did it!

After…three weeks? I think?…we were finally able to buy a new (used) car!  YAY!!!!  Although, STILL, not without some hiccups.  The transfer from Norwood to Warwick was supposed to take three to four days, business days, which with the holiday, meant that yesterday (Wednesday) was day #4.  No word from CarMax.  I emailed the person I was working with there to see if she had any updates for me, but it was towards the end of the workday, so I didn’t expect to hear back until today.  This morning, I called the Warwick location to see what they could tell me. The guy I spoke to said the car is there, it’ll be cleaned and ready in about half an hour, but there’s some issue with the title. He didn’t know exactly what, but he was going to find out and have someone get back to me.

GREAT.  More title problems.  An hour or two later, I got a text from the person I emailed telling me that everything was ready and we should make an appointment to test drive (and hopefully buy) the car.  I asked her if the title issue was resolved.  She said “it appears to be” and I should wait for the office confirmation to be sure.  Uh huh.  I called again and spoke to someone who said it was all sorted out.  So yay!  Only a couple of hours of frustration this time.

We were in the middle of failing to get Jack to sleep for his nap, so we put some snacks and toys in a couple of tote bags, put him in the car seat, and headed to CarMax.  For the third time.  Jack fell asleep on the way up, naturally (and GOOD), so I dropped John off at the entrance around 1:45 and drove in circles for another 15 minutes before they were ready for us.

The test drives went well, the car was (is) in good shape, and we were ready to buy!  And even then, even without having to jump through any more hoops or dealing with any of the usual dealer bullshit, it was STILL 5:30 before we left.  SO MANY HOURS.  Jack was really great, but he was losing it during the last hour, and we were, too.  He didn’t want to eat, he didn’t want to read truck books, he didn’t want to play with his toy phone or toy tablet.  He  just wanted to run around the place and push rolling chairs down the hallway.  That worked (kind of) when one of us could stay with him while the other answered questions and filled out paperwork, but at the end, we both had to read things and sign things, and he was driving everyone nuts.  Which is when I remembered the magic of YouTube.  Three Sesame Street shorts and two truck videos later, we were the proud owners of a new car.

I used to listen to music for ME, I think. It’s so hard to remember…

Children’s music is entirely too catchy.  It’s really hard to try to write something when the only words going through my head are “Ring ring ring ring ring ring ring.  Banana phone.  Boop-boop-ba-doop-ba-doop.”

I like it fine (that song is right up my alley), but the only songs that drive it away (temporarily) are Sesame Street songs, and is that really helping?

We started re-watching New Girl the other day, and Jack really likes the theme song to that show, but those 20 seconds on repeat might kill me.

I can also leap tall buildings in a single bound

I have put Jack down for real, honest-to-god, SOLID naps for THREE days in a row!  I did it, I am awesome, and I am for real doing the Carlton dance (which, ahem, I have learned since that video call with Corey and Mel).  (For those wondering, I did an approximation of the Kevin Bacon Footloose dance instead.)

For my next feat, I will turn a toddler into a blueberry.  He is HOOVERING blueberries lately.

Naps 2: The Nappening

In the last week, Jack has gotten one nap, and that was a short one.  We’ve both tried, neither of us has been successful, so we decided to reset again.  When John took over naps, the idea was that he would put a sleepy Jack down in the crib, give him a couple of minutes to settle down, and then leave.  If Jack cried, John would check in on him at increasing intervals (Ferber method).  When John was doing naps and it was working, he never had to do the Ferber thing.  Jack fell asleep within a couple of minutes every time.  Then he started taking longer to fall asleep, and then he wasn’t falling asleep at all. We kind of lost the plan, and so now we’re here.

Reset.  Again.  Back to Ferber, but since John really needs to work, I’m stepping back in.  Our plan yesterday was to have John read to him and put him down, then leave, and I’d do the check-ins.  John left, Jack started crying, and John retreated to his office and his headphones.  I waited out the five minutes (No fun – he sounded more upset than mad, not like the last time we tried this. I can outwait mad.), and then I went in.  Jack went into panic mode when he realized I wasn’t going to pick him up.  He had worked himself into a sweat, he was clutching at me and sobbing and calling my name, and with all of that, I still tried to leave like I’m supposed to.  He let out this wail I’ve never heard from him, like I was leaving him forever, and I rushed back in to pick him up.  We cried together, and John came back to give him a hug and apologize.

Experiment over.  We’re not doing it.  John is going to read the No-Cry Nap Method and try to get more advice out of it than I did months ago, and the meantime, we’re not going to leave him alone like that.

That was yesterday.  Last night he didn’t sleep well.  He was up from around 2:20 to a little after 4, and then he woke up for the day at 5:45.  We played and snacked and took a very exciting walk and played and snacked, and then I took him upstairs around 11:30, maybe a few minutes earlier.  We followed our nap routine (diaper change, back into pjs and the nap sack), and sat in the big chair to read a couple of books.  We read four short ones, and he was knuckling his eyes and yawning the whole time.  (In between books, you’d never know he was sleepy – he springs forward, practically falling out of my lap to point to the next book, or to scan the floor for one he just knows is around here somewhere.)  After the fourth book, I picked him up and he didn’t protest when I put him in the crib.  He went down flat and reached for my hand.  I started describing our morning (at one point, he sat up straight and shouted “GUCK!”), and he was asleep within three minutes.  I retrieved my hand and snuck out.  As of right now, he’s been asleep for an hour.

Fluke.  Today’s nap is the result of not sleeping well last night, and I REALLY don’t want that to be the norm.  But my plan, if he doesn’t go to sleep so easily tomorrow, is to try to soothe him to sleep from outside the crib, like we do at night, for around half an hour.  If he’s not asleep within that window, then I’ll have everything ready to go so I can just throw him in the stroller and go for a long walk.  At least he’ll get some restful time, and if we’re lucky, maybe he’ll snooze a little.

Change It Up

I’ve read in a million places that toddlers thrive on routine, but I can’t help but think that can get boring.  And routine doesn’t have to equal doing EXACTLY the same thing at the same time every day, right?  It can mean doing the same KIND of thing, yes?  Well, for my own sanity, the answer to that had better be yes.

I love Sesame Street to pieces, but I can only listen to the two classic sing-along albums so many times in one morning.  I LOVE that he likes them, but we need some variation, so I thought we’d try some Raffi.  I don’t know how I missed out on Raffi – I just looked him up and he was certainly active early enough – but I remember the kids I babysat being into his stuff.  (John doesn’t understand how it is that I am not familiar with “Baby Beluga”.  That’s just the way it is, man.)  Well, Jack wouldn’t even let me get through two songs, but I’m not giving up.  We’ll try again some other day.  In the meantime, I LOVE “Oscar Don’t Allow”, so those two Sesame Street albums can stay in rotation.

Car Trouble in the Time of Covid

Jack had a very exciting morning yesterday. He got to see a tow truck in action, up close and personal.  I suppose it was exciting for us, too, but tinged with a wide streak of Really? This is happening now?!?

John loaded the car up with some yard waste to take to the transfer station, but he didn’t get far.  The car sputtered to a stop right outside our front-yard neighbor’s house, and he pushed it into the parking area for the apartments right there on the corner.  It had been running rough for the last few days (or the last couple of times I drove it, anyway), but we figured that was a spark plug issue and we were planning that kind of maintenance.

We called our local repair place, got a tow truck dispatched from USAA (using the repair place’s towing service, turns out), and found out this morning that the engine seized up.

I am SO not in the mood for this.  Major engine repair, engine replacement, or new (used) car.  No, thanks!  Not now!  But this is what we will figure out over the next few days.

The tow truck part was pretty cool, though.  It was a flat-bed truck, and we (with Jack) watched the guy winch the car up onto the flat-bed and drive away. I got it on video for Jack’s endless perusal.

Can’t brain

Today was not a good day for braining.  Jack woke up at 2:45am and got some snatches of sleep before he gave up on trying around 4am, so the three of us have pretty much been up since 2:45 this morning. Well, Jack’s asleep now, but I’m coasting on fumes and won’t be conscious much longer.  Also, his nap was WAY too short and then, tired and upset as he was after only sleeping for 40 minutes, he couldn’t settle down enough to sleep again.

On the plus side, I’m the one who got him to sleep for his nap today, so yay me!  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t my nap technique that had him waking up 40 minutes later.

BUT short nap yesterday then bad night last night then short nap today possibly means bad night again tonight soooooo I’m going to bed right now.

Terribly sorry about only complaining about my lack of sleep tonight.  Let’s try again tomorrow.

If only they weren’t weeds

Yesterday was a beautiful warm day, so I thought I’d do something helpful AND be outside.  Yesterday was the day I would pull up dandelions.  And then I went outside and really looked.  Guys, we have SO many dandelions.  Acres of dandelions.  Endless seas of dandelions.  Dandelions as far as the eye can see.

I started in the far corner of the yard, with Jack nearby, our portable speaker in his hands playing Sesame Street songs.  He was as not interested in pulling up dandelions or playing in the dirt as you can possibly be and still be breathing, so my dandelion-pulling was interrupted by chasing after him – he headed for the street by way of the neighbor’s yard, he headed for the playset by way of the woods where poison ivy is probably making a comeback, and he headed for John who was in the driveway feeding branches to the chipper.  I felt like a sheepdog.

I went back to it while Jack was napping, shifting my focus to the front of the house where at least someone (me) would see the improvement, and I was able to make a dent before I gave up for the day.  There’s a very clear swath of dandelion-free grass.

Tomorrow will be when I realize how much I missed.

Picking out clothes

I didn’t know it started this early, but Jack has OPINIONS about his clothes.  For one thing, if he sees one of his doot d’doo shirts*, then he wants to wear it.  Nothing else will do d’doo.  (I’m sorry.)  He will not be persuaded otherwise.

*For the uninitiated, doot d’doo = superhero.

John and I have both taken to hiding those shirts so Jack won’t see them when we open the drawer – it’s our only hope of getting him to wear anything else.  The drawer with his shirts is the top left drawer of his dresser, right under his changing pad.  He can (and does) reach into it while sitting on top of the changing pad.  This morning, I got him into a soft, warm, long-sleeved gray shirt, but he reached into the drawer, said “oowee”, and grabbed a red shirt.  I held it up, and (my mistake), said “This is just a plain red shirt.  It’s not your oowee shirt.” I put it back.  So Jack reached in again and pulled out the other red shirt, which most definitely WAS his oowee shirt (fire engine).  I tried “You’re already wearing a shirt.  We can wear this one tomorrow.”  He pulled at the sleeves of the gray shirt, the one he had on, and said, “No.  Oowee.”

How can I argue with that?  The kid knows what he wants to wear.  It’s a good thing the t-shirts I just ordered are all covered in either fire trucks or superheroes.

Nap update

After four days in a row of me handling the naps, lots of crying, ZERO napping, we decided to have John try, and he would try the more traditional Ferber method – maybe if it’s not Mama doing the leaving, it’ll be easier on Jack.

And so?  We got four days in a row of Jack quietly sitting with John while he reads a couple of books, quietly going into the crib (he ASKED to go in on the second day), lying down when John asks him to, and falling asleep within two minutes on top of John’s hand while John quietly talks to him.  JUST LIKE AT NIGHT. (The 5th day was not so smooth.)

(Let’s review: this is EXACTLY what I tried to do for the first two days, and what I was doing for months with little success not that long ago.  Either we wore him down and he’s too exhausted to protest, or Dada is magic and Mama should stay out of it.)

The plan is that if he doesn’t fall asleep quickly like that, John will still leave and start the cry-it-out clock, but so far that hasn’t been necessary.  Does this count as being inconsistent, changing the script on him again?  I have no idea, but I do know we all prefer it when Jack doesn’t think we’ve abandoned him.  Fingers crossed this works consistently for at least a week, and then we’ll sub me in once Jack has this down, again JUST LIKE WE DID AT NIGHT.

Day 1: Jack only slept for about 25 minutes, but it was his first nap in more than a week (score!) and we think he pooped himself awake, so it wasn’t really a failure on anybody’s part (except Jack’s ability to poop when it’s convenient for the rest of us).

Day 2: Jack made it past 25 minutes by a substantial amount – he slept for just over an hour.  Again, we think he pooped himself awake.  Jack, you need to poop before naptime!

Day 3: Jack slept for an hour and 15 minutes, again going to sleep on John’s hand within a couple of minutes of lying down in the crib just because John asked him to.  Let’s keep this streak going!

Day 4: John had a harder time getting Jack to sleep, but he was ultimately successful, and he slept for an hour and 10 minutes.  I’ll take it.

Day 5: Jack woke up around 3:30 Sunday morning and only slept for 45 minutes between then and 5:45, when we gave up and got up, so we moved his nap a little earlier.  Unfortunately, John had to leave the room and start the cry-it-out clock for the first time Sunday.  He decided to do a reset on the first pop-in instead of just soothe and leave.  Jack fell sleep in John’s arms and he was able to put him down.  Not exactly following the plan, but we ended up with a sleeping baby (for almost an hour and a half), so it’s a win.

His Imperial Highness

I’ve been getting Jack outside most afternoons. We go out for his exercise in the mornings before naptime, walking at Jack-speed, which is something slower than an amble.  Think glacier.  The afternoons are for my exercise, so he goes in the stroller, and I get to choose the pace.  He’s been great – he gets to play with a toy and eat puffs or cheerios while seeing the sights, and I get to listen to an audiobook or podcast and actually feel like I’m working out.  I only occasionally have to play Bean Bag Rock instead of the Dresden Files.

For his entertainment, I usually give him his Scout phone, his snack container, and his water cup, but he can’t juggle all three (I need to order the snack tray that goes with the stroller).  I usually start him out with snack and the phone – he makes it very clear when he wants water.  We’ll be strolling along, and his right arm will rocket into the air, hand waving, and I’ll hear “dat-dat, dat-dat”.  I barely have to slow down to pass him his water, and when he’s done, the arm shoots into the air again, water in hand, and I take it back.  He resumes snacking or playing.

I am Mama, servant to the tiny emperor.

Half-birthdays – a wonderful excuse to eat cake

For John’s half-birthday on Monday, I made him us (let’s be real here) a chocolate cake with buttercream frosting and topped it with peanut butter cups.  No baking disasters to report – just yummy yummy chocolate cake.  The frosting was a bit much.  Bonus: the house smelled like chocolate cake for a few hours.

We (I) sang happy half-birthday to John, which he insists wasn’t necessary, but hey – whose fake holiday does he think this is?  We gave Jack three bites of cake, hoping we weren’t dooming ourselves to a toddler on a sugar-high with even that little bit, but he went to bed okay.  Poor exhausted baby – without his nap, he’s awake for 12 hours in a row every day now.

Nonstop excitement around here

We’ve had an eventful* morning.

To begin with, we received our first Jack-in-the-box.  Super exciting to unpack it.  Thanks to whoever sent us this package!

Then, John fixed the bookshelf in the corner so the two middle shelves will actually stay up, and then he put all the books back on the shelves.  Our Jack-not-in-the-box-anymore wasted no time in reasserting the status quo.

After that, Jack and I went for a walk to see some trucks, both of us bundled up in coat, hat, and mittens against the chilly morning.  My mittens were in my pockets while I carried** him home, and I was so preoccupied with keeping track of HIS mittens that I failed to notice when I lost one of mine.  I figured it out in the driveway, scooped up Jack, and retraced our steps.  Turns out that when Jack pointed out a mud puddle on our walk, he was actually telling me that I had dropped my mitten in it.


*Your definition may differ.

**See alternate definition of “walk”.

How can I do this to him?

Day 4:

Cry it out is AWFUL.  It’s horrible, it’s heart-breaking, and it’s the worst thing ever.  It might be the only thing that works, but that doesn’t make it fun.  I hate it.

I hate it.

I hate it.

Luckily, Jack doesn’t seem to be holding a grudge.  And also, after the first few minutes, he sounds more angry than sad, and then he switches to hopeless and dispairing, but regardless of the tone, it’s an hour of “Mama?  Mama!  Mama?  Mama?  Dada!  Dada!  Dada!  Dada!  Guck-guck!  Mama!”  He stands the whole time, and I have realized that I can’t pop in and reassure him because it winds him up even more – it’s like resetting him to saddest/angriest when I don’t rescue him.

I’m sticking with it because the results will be worth it, but this could take several weeks – I’ve read that it takes longer with naps (than with bedtime) and longer with toddlers (than with babies).

Switching it up

I know consistency is the key to sleep training, and I had every intention of sticking to the new nap routine as consistently as possible (and as close to our bedtime routine as possible) for as long as it took.  So changing the method two days in seemed kind of…inconsistent.  On the other hand, two days doesn’t equal routine, and really, when it’s that obvious it’s not going to work, it’s silly not to change it.

Bedtime routine: dim the light, turn on the sound machine, change his diaper, put on pjs and sleep sack, sit in the chair together and read a couple-three books, turn off the light, put him into the crib, and sit on the floor while he falls asleep.  He’s nearly always asleep within 10 minutes.  Works for me, works for John.

Trying that at naptime: pull the curtain most of the way, turn on the sound machine, change his diaper, put on pjs and the nap sack (lighter weight), sit in the chair together and read a couple-three books, close the curtain the rest of the way, put him in the crib, and sit on the floor for an hour and a half to two hours while Jack doesn’t sleep.

He cried, he giggled, he yelled, he kissed me, and after two days, it was pretty clear that I was the problem.  I am too dang entertaining.  (Also, maybe it’s not dark enough – we’re working on that.)

Day three (this past Saturday): we began letting him cry it out for naps.  Same routine except that instead of sitting on the floor after he goes in the crib, I just leave.

It sucks.

I’m raising a thief

Unloading and putting away groceries in the time of coronavirus is an enormous pain in the ass, requiring several steps:

  1. Unload the groceries from the car, still potentially contaminated, leaving them outside of the kitchen behind the closed baby gate so Jack doesn’t try to “help” empty the bags.
  2. Unpack the groceries from the bags, wiping them down one by one, and stage them on various countertops near where they go.
  3. Figure out how to reorganize the cabinets, the pantry, the fridge, and the freezer because we usually don’t buy this much at a time and a) how will all this fit in our tiny freezer, and b) for the pantry stuff, I REALLY need an hour to myself to reorganize because I have, for example, cans of beans spread across at least three different shelves mixed in with all kinds of random stuff.  How am I supposed to shop efficiently if I can’t see what we have?

During step 3, when half of the stuff was put away and the other half was spread out across kitchen counters, I heard footsteps, a sort of crunching THUMP, and excited toddler sounds.

I skidded around the doorway next to the stove and found Jack with the plastic tub of cookies, the top off, three cookies on the floor, and one in his mouth.  He also had the container of strawberries (ignored), both containers stolen from the counter next to the sink.

Who stole the cookie from the cookie jar?

Also, HE’S TOO TALL! The counters are no longer safe.

Toddlers bring change. And sleeplessness.

I made a face mask out of a bandana and two hair bands to wear at the store Wednesday morning.  Then I didn’t go to the store on Wednesday morning because someone woke up at 3am and was still wide awake at 5am when I tagged in.  He fell asleep a little before 6, but I couldn’t get him back into the crib, so the store plan went out the window, and I held him while he slept until 8:30ish.

On the one hand, yay for holding the sleeping baby!  I don’t get to do it much anymore, and it’s SO NICE.  On the other hand, I didn’t get much sleep after 3am…  On the third hand, we didn’t get a nap Wednesday, either, so BOO for that.

The new nap routine starts today (Thursday), and life is going to SUCK for a while.  The car is no longer reliable, and it was never a good long-term solution anyway.

Putting Jack to sleep is exhausting

The traffic last night was conspiring to keep Jack from going to sleep.  And we REALLY needed him to go to sleep (and sleep all night – which he did HOORAY HOORAY!).  Over the last several days, we’ve been having some trouble.  Jack didn’t get a nap at all on Saturday, he only got a little more than half an hour on Sunday, and he only got 10 minutes yesterday, when he REALLY needed a good nap because the night before (Sunday into Monday) was ROUGH.  He slept for about 4 hours, woke up a little after midnight, and then didn’t go back to sleep until 4am.  He wasn’t fussy after the first bit – he was just awake.  Wanted to babble at us.  We did our best to convince him that it was time for sleep, it was dark, and all good babies and gucks and woowees sleep when it’s the middle of the night, but he didn’t get the picture for several hours.

We’d gotten complacent – before Sunday night, he had slept for 11 to 13 hours straight every night except one in the month of April, and we were beginning to feel human again.

One bad night isn’t a pattern, but with several days of short or nonexistent naps followed by a night like that one, it’s hard to feel positive.

Anyway, the traffic.  John was putting Jack to bed, and I was doing the dishes.  At three separate times within 40 minutes, ambulances and fire engines went screaming down the road, sirens blaring, and THEN some giant truck laid on his horn as he went through the intersection near our house.

I nearly went outside to yell (at what, I don’t know – the universe?) “THE BABY IS TRYING TO SLEEP, PEOPLE!”

Now, as I speak type, he is napping. I don’t know how long we’ll get, but something is better than nothing and we’re at 20 minutes so far, so today is already a win over the last several days. Hold your breath and don’t slam any doors, my dudes, because the baby is sleeping.