Tag Archives: sleep

Frosty Morning

 Oh it’s a very cold day here today. This morning was more than usually hard due to a very patchy nights sleep. If it wasn’t Steve coughing and wheezing like some nightmarish germ-ridden steam-punk engine it was Ida who had a series of troubling dreams.

I’d sat up too late finishing some more wings so was pretty tired to begin with which meant I was even slower on the uptake in reassuring her about her dreams which seemed to centre around some sandwiches being stolen, a christmas tree walking around downstairs and The Number Taker (damn you numberjacks.)

Although I don’t love how upset she is I do love that her language skills have upped to the point were she can tell me what she’s wailing about. I also love when you can see where the dream has seeded from. I can’t identify the sandwich trauma but I do recognise the tree from Mog’s Christmas which is one of her current favourite picture books and who wouldn’t be unnerved by the Number Taker? In fact he got jumbled up in my dreams and I woke sweating at 5am from one that involved him, christmas shopping and not being able to open my eyes because they’d been sewn up. *shudder*

Getting in from a very cold walk to school has clearly triggered some kind of hibernating cooking instinct. As I write there’s a plum jam steamed pudding and lentil soup steaming and simmering  on the oven top. I might even put dumplings in the soup…

Steve even grudgingly agreed to put the heating on which means Ida and I don’t have to hang out round the sewing machine in coats.

 Last night Zeph helped me pack up these teacup pincushions. They’re now wrapped up in cellophane and looking very pretty piled on top of the piano. It helps ease the pain of breaking into my teacup collection. I can’t resist them in charity shops and jumble sales much to Steve’s disapproval. Finally the raggle-taggle collection under the bed has been put to a satisfying use.

They’re voting today in Egypt. I think of it hopefully. Thin ends of wedges, small steps on long journeys and all that. It’s my best BT of the day and I send optimism up into the air and blow it their way.

regrets of a baited bear

It is a very grey day. As in it’s raining, the last day of the holidays and we are all tired and grumpy. I have losing-my-temper-like-a-fishwife remorse and I suspect Steve may have marrying-her niggles.

You see despite the fact that Ida was so bone tired she actually fell asleep at a reasonable hour in her own bed we didn’t have a great night after all. Due to the party in the church hall next to us which extended into the night and then into a loud, emotion and alcohol fueled dispute outside our bedroom window at about eleven thirty.

Something similar happened last Saturday so I had pent-up rage. Also a plastic bag of empty bottles and can’s that had been tossed over our fence. One of the cans hit Ida on the head.  I didn’t march straight round there with a lighted torch. I did spend half an hour composing an outraged letter for the priests.

So when Ida woke up for the second time and I had to cuddle her to calmness since she was frightened by all the shouting I went and indulged in a little shouting of my own.

Not helpful, not grownup, and not cool. Very satisfying though. Nothing  breaks up a gang of looming, leather clad, eastern european young men like a sleep deprived mother on the edge. I can’t even remember what I said – I know there was foul language, finger wagging and some ‘young man’ s.  All at the top of my voice.

I was almost instantly remorseful. This is not not sweating the small stuff. They were just stupid drunk men who were thoughtless. It’s hardly the end of the world. I feel ashamed.

I definitely have a temper. Mostly I keep a lid on it. I don’t really bear grudges either, it’s over quickly. Often I’m already feeling better and saying sorry as the other person reaches their peak. As I was dressing down those men last night I could see they were all abashed especially as they could see Ida upset on Steve’s shoulder. They weren’t mean – in fact it was hard to get them to stop baring their hearts and beating their foreheads in remorse and just leave. Blowing up like a pocket rocket Hulk does NOT mesh with my assuming-the-best-of-people, seeing-the-good life plan.

Must try harder.

I just asked Steve if he felt ashamed of me and he laughed and gave me a fizzy cola bottle. Maybe we can rename it as quirky. At least I’m not a sulker.

The sun has finally broken through the clouds, and is lighting up my smeary windows. Just in time for bed. It makes the lights that have been on for most of the dark day seem orange and odd. Toys are strewn all over the floor, Zeph and Ida spent the afternoon arranging the enormous cuddly animal collection into a  zoo and charging us for the privilege of being led around it. Money- sharping tom sawyers the both of them. They also took a lot of pleasure in burying Steve at one point;

 Ida is asleep in her bed. We have adopted a short-term plan of one of us lying on the bed til she drops off in her cot. It only takes half an hour and we can read. There’s already been a certain amount of, “no, no – let me..” On the way past Z’s room I looked in to say it’s lights off time as he’s got school in the morning but he was so pleading about being at a good bit in his book that I relented. I can’t resist a bit of bookish stuff and he totally plays me with it.

I love that.

Zoo days

I read a very wise post over on one of my favourite blogs recently. It has led me to feel less as though I’m failing when I don’t post every day. This is still my aim but it’s not the end of the world when I fail. Which I think is exactly as it should be.

It’s halfterm and we’ve spent our days doing fun stuff and my evenings are engaged in will-wrestling with Ida. She’s winning. Of course. Last night she finally consented to sleep when we went to bed ourselves and she had no one left to defy. She was up at the usual daybreak and has spent the day in her usual high spirits. However, touching all near wood, she is in her cot right now. I am taking nothing for granted but maybe the novelty of bed building has worn thin?

Yesterday we went to the zoo. The sun shone and it was the most lovely day. We even got cuddling-close to a fruit bat chewing a mouthful of banana.It was very hard to resist rubbing its tummy. It blinked at us with clever teddy bear eyes and licked banana off its snout. We admired its beautiful stretchy silk umbrella wings.

We LOVE these bats I tell you. We all reminisced about the time we were in the enclosure and a bit surprised and alarmed at how they swooped very close to us – something we’d never seen before until I realised that baby Ida was covered in fruity flapjack crumbs. Oops. Nearly lost her to  a pack of ravenous fruit bats, parent fail 101. She’d of loved that, raised by a pack of bats.

I couldn’t resist the urge to put her in the patchwork dress. This is her peering across at the Gorilla island. A couple are playing chase up and over the bars and in and out of the hot air balloon basket hanging there. She was fascinated. We noticed how much more interested she was in the bigger animals on this visit. It’s as though her horizons have expanded a little. Last visit she was more fascinated with pigeons than most of the caged animals.

It’s the zoo’s 175th birthday and they’ve got loads on. They’ve also got these new photo opp models.  I’m particularly fond of the ‘tortoise’ face Zeph is pulling, successfully I think.

There was a hideous tantrum when we tried to drag Ida away from this penguin. She seems to think this is how big the “baby” ones on the pebble beach are going to get. There was also a nasty scene when another poor child wanted to post some money into his chest – I had to drag her away screeching, “Mine, mine, ‘e’s miiiiine.”

 It was  a tantrumy day. Inevitable with a tired two-year old. In between the devilment she was gorgeously, heartstoppingly, tears-to-my-eyes adorable. (Though of course the tears could have been the pain from where she’d just sunk her teeth in or kicked me in the face.)

The new meerkat environment was lovely in the sunshine. My favourite bit was Ida showing Armadillo a meerkat and the meerkat staring back – fascinated by her cuddly;

We spent a pleasant ten minutes hanging out in the underwater bit even though all the penguins were up on the beach waiting for fish. Zeph thinks we should have a front room like this, just with more fish. A bit like Nemo’s sub (à la Verne and not Disney) I love watching the light streaming down through the water – just so soothing. 

Water is generally soothing. Today we spent half an hour lying on our stomachs watching our minipond and the insects in and around it. Less as exotic but more satisfying. BT’s abounding.

I’ve just run up to check – she’s asleep IN the cot. Don’t worry, I know it’s not over and just a blip – but still – a good one.

 

Nesting

I’ve been sorting stuff and tidying a corner of the bedroom. This enables me to get to the windows and de-mould them. If you sit on the end of the bed and look out of the window everything seems calm, ordered and lovely.

The rest of the house is tottering to hell in a handbasket. I’m not sure if feeling a bit wobbly means I’m more than usually sensitive to the mess or if feeling wobbly means I’m less on top of picking up and restoring order. Is it the chicken or the egg?

It’s the beginning of half term, Steve has the week booked off, I want to feel light airy and able to embrace a bit of family time wholeheartedly. It’s a bit like when you can’t get to sleep and you’re clock watching. Thinking “Christ! I have to get up in five hours, I’m going to be sooo tired – I HAVE to go to sleep…FECK – I have to get up in four hours – what is wrong with me? I REALLY have to get to sleep…BLAST – I have to get up in THREE damn hours…etc etc”

 The more you push for the feeling, the more elusive it seems. Right now happiness is the bluebird on the horizon. Which means you should just let it do its own bloody thing and get on with some hoovering.

I’m pretty sure that’s what the Dali Llama (I see him as a Llama in a  watered silk smoking jacket consulting a melting pocket watch) would say.

I’ve managed to finish two wobbly crocheted christmas baubles. (Thank you Lucy.) I’d like to embark upon something bigger. My friend Erika has offered up a pixie dress pattern, I might bridge the confidence gap with a tea cosy. I’m trying a ripple. We shall see. I’m also trying to knit a hat – the most basic kind. I really want a project to put on ravelry as my notebook seems very bare. Not seen any other scarfs…might be like joining a gardening forum and posting a photo of your Mr Cresshead eggshell. (Hell – I’m not knocking him, he’s a regular sight around here.)

Not blogging for a couple of days has left me feeling cross and unsettled. I feel unsatisfied and itchy. I can bear the state of the living room if the inside of my head is less messy and writing these posts helps a lot with that.

Right now Ida and I are engaged in a battle of wills about bedtime. She’s out-and-out winning. Of course. I distinctly remember this point with Zeph. The night you put them into their cot and close the door and they think – “why would I stay here? I don’t have to..” and out they pop. Both mine could climb out of their cot really early, in Zeph’s case before he could walk. But it took them both a while to hit this boundary being more about – I don’t have to do what you say than I can climb.

Zeph’s was short and sweet. We refer to it in this house as the night of a thousand returns. We were in a flat and I remember it clearly because we’d got a film, takeaway and bottle of wine in a hopeful, much-needed, look – we are still people and not just parents kind of night. The thud and then patter of hopeful feet and his small beaming face as he appeared in the doorway were pretty cute the first ten or so times – less so on the five hundredth. I kid you not. I insisted we stuck out the silent returns to the cot until he gave up. Which he did,  at about midnight, waaay after Steve had retired to bed. Still I got to say I told you so (I’m going to again – I TOLD YOU SO) as he didn’t do it again.

Ida has not been so straight forward. For a start we’ve got stairs now – makes the whole thing longer and in a strange way more complicated. After the first hour she just got wise, stayed very quiet and built herself a nest with all her bedding and cuddlies on the landing outside our bedroom door. We didn’t find her til we went up to bed and had been merrily downstairs congratulating ourselves on nipping it in the bud. Ha! This has set the pattern. She just waits until we go downstairs – gets her stuff – builds an alternative bed, wherever she pleases – and, basically, cocks a snook at us.

I’m at a loss – talking in bed with Steve I say we need to impose our will as Alphas. He points out we’re not wolves. I huff – instinctively I feel we need to, but this could because I spend long days as a toddler doormat. I mean – she’s going to sleep.

 Just last night it was in the bath.

Rude awakenings

I had to wake Ida this morning. I left it until the last possible moment – Zeph and I had done spellings, sandwiches and biscuits and she was still curled up like a possum. When I lifted her out she sleepily lashed out and began wailing.

I gave her a big hug and inhaled that amazing sleepy child aroma, a bit like vanilla biscuits. “I was ASLEEP!” she howls. I laugh in a hollow fashion as a million 4am’s spring to mind.

There followed a ten minute tussle with her refusing to relinquish her pyjamas and then having been stripped rejecting violently even her favourite purple owl dress.

It doesn’t bode well for those future teenage mornings.

My mum used to lunge into my bedroom, fling back the curtains and trill “what a beeeutiful day!” It didn’t help.

Things got worse downstairs where she threw a bowl of cereal at me. Hmmm. Not a morning person then, just like her mother. I am always cheerier when I wake up on my own. It’s usually early as my body clock has been steam rollered into submission by two early bird babies. Alarm clocks, noisy dressers (pointed look at Steve) and rambunctious children leave me feeling grouchy. Zeph went through a hideous phase of creeping into bed with us and then gently peeling up our eyelids.

Still the day went up after that. Ida and I made a chicken pie with pastry top and bottom. I am sure I can get four meals out of Sundays roast chicken. (It was free range – it has to stretch) We did some gardening, varnished a pig woven out of willow, looked at ladybirds (it was a sunny day and our garden was full of them, all yawning and stretching their wings) and bought a pineapple for pudding. I sliced it up at the table and shared it out. Now we’ve all got tingly tongues. Steve has told a charming story about its flesh dissolving enzymes and Zeph has gone upstairs to brush his teeth.

Ah – all my beautiful things.

Toddler tactics

Gah – it’s been one of those toddler days.

 A never-ending establishing of boundaries only to have them toppled again seconds later. This afternoon I sat on the floor wrestling her away from a bar stool in the leisure centre café. We nearly toppled a woman off it. Angrily she lifted her bag off the stool next to her. “Have I taken your seats?” she snaps, justifiably annoyed. Ida refuses to relinquish her iron grip on the leg, “Mine! MINE!” she howls. “No no” I say weakly. She retorts “It’s not a problem” (clearly it is, she’s tight-lipped) “No – I mean, she wants ALL the stools and probably your shoes and handbag too. Tomorrow she’ll invade Poland” She thaws – and laughs – I must look thoroughly brow beaten, sprawled on the floor. Zeph’s been out of swimming for at least two minutes. He’ll be standing by the doors dripping and furious, awaiting his towel.

Like a goddess the woman relents and proves the sisterhood rule and some  experienced toddler tactical knowledge. Pointing she trills “Ohhhh – MY towel!” Ida hurriedly wriggles out from under the stool and dashes to lay claim to it. My newfound lifesaver adds, “I’ll race you to the pool” to Ida’s back as she sprints off trailing the towel behind her.

I mouth a dishevelled “Thank you” and follow with the pushchair. As I turn the corner I can hear Zeph wailing, “No! – it’s my toweeeeeel- I neeeed it!”

It’s been a long evening.

and now I have to try to piece a lining to my patchwork skirt. I’ve already gathered it. I know it’s not going to work but have bodged myself into a corner. Again – Gah.

I desperately need to knit some ravelled sleeves of care – see – I’m gibbering. And seeing double, or is that just where I’ve sewn the skirt, lining and all to the leg of my jeans?

Eighteen months ago…

I’m not even the tiniest bit sleepy…

You can try but I don’t think I need to sleep EVER again.

course it’s always nice to lie down

and I do like my patchwork banket.

What was I saying?

YAAAAAAAAAAwn…

Zzzz…

Hey, no no no – I told you I wasn’t sleepy…

Gone.

 Huzzah, now do I sprint into the kitchen and wash up the tip of dirty crockery mountain? Or do I simply flop down on the floor next to the sofa for whatever blessed  sleep I can fit in?

Guess which I picked.

One of my most beautiful things. A sleeping child.

controlled crying tyrant

Success! at least four hours in a row and an hours nap this afternoon, whoop whoop. My mind is a little less fuzzy and tea is in the oven. I am ready to re-rant.

Which brings me round to controlled crying. Essentially leaving your child to cry – oh the inhumanity.

I couldn’t tag my parenting style. I know I haven’t lifted it wholesale from a book, it’s very unlikely I could break my conditioning to do this for anything (My dad once reduced my history teacher to tears at a parents evening with his relentless questioning of the syllabus, reading materials and indeed, as she tearfully confided to me the next day, history as a recorded narrative.)

I know I don’t get it right always but I know that I always do my best and have only love and the very best intentions behind my actions. I can see that every child is different and will need different approaches. Ideally this would be possible within the education system but can I can see why it isn’t but am sure it should be possible within parenting.

I recently had Oliver James’s weekend Guardian column concerning the long-term effects of cortisone drenching on developing brains shoved into my face by a friend of a friend who seemed to regard it as evidence of her status as sainthood parent and mine as the native who needed converting. During this battering (metaphorical, but she came very close to  a black eye) I had to impress a few things on her.

1) Just because it is in the Guardian it is not the ONLY TRUTH 

2) study – all a bit vague, what are the details behind these statistics, how many? how long? who was it funded by?  Need I remind us of the MMR fiasco.

3) The actual column stated the need to examine the context ie 10 mins crying set within a loving and supportive family framework does not compare to the studies on the negative outcomes from Bosnian orphanages.

4) That my partner and I had not in fact invited her, queen mummy, to assess and judge our parenting choices.

I know plenty of people within my own social circle and in the wider world who are joyfully “attached parenting”  their content and outstanding children and have a wonderful friend who runs a Gina Ford household which is well organised and happy. Surely any parent who cares enough to question their choices, who picks up a parenting book , any parenting book is doing a great job? I’ll tell you what really raises my hackles; hearing the phrase “well I just wouldn’t do controlled crying, I simply could not choose to leave my child to cry”

Yeah what kind of monster would choose this?  Well I did. Twice. 

The first time was when I returned to full-time to work when Zeph was six months. I quickly realised that either we sorted out bedtime and sleeping or I ran the risk of running amok with a machete and making the tabloid  front pages. So I read a lot, asked advice from a shedload of people and thrashed a plan out with Steve which worked in two days. Since then, hand on heart we’ve never had a problem with Z, apart from his recent sleepwalking rambles up and down the corridor rearranging toys. He even used to come in for a cuddle then put himself back to bed after a nightmare.

We applied the same plan with Ida when I had to quickly wean her off my habit of breastfeeding her to sleep (I defy anyone NOT to slip into this habit!) Bath, story, cuddle, familiar phrase, tuck up – out the door then leave 2 mins, then 5 mins then 10 mins then 10 min intervals until settled.  I never left them more than 10 mins, and never cuddled – just retucked, kissed murmured and left again. I wanted them to know I would come but now was time for sleeping, not playing,singing or cuddling and that their cot and the dark was a safe cosy place I knew they were safe in. It only took a couple of nights and no more than a few of the 10 mins and I swear to god – the crying never felt agonised. This means I was really lucky and it suited my kids. If it hadn’t of worked I would have had to try something else. I totally understand that techniques have to suit parent and child but resent the implication that since leaving your child to cry doesn’t suit you, if it does suit me then I’m bloody Pol Pot.

Basically I’m a try that, try this, muddle along, hope I don’t bugger it up, these two children are the best thing I ever did in my life – kind of mummy. So there are no winners and losers because basically it’s all Swings and Roundabouts. (seriously considering writing a self-help book or starting a cult under this name...)

Disclaimers to todays blog….

I do realise that the hackle rising to the above statement is, in part, projection of my own insecurities – PARTLY.

Obviously all bets are off when they’re ill – I’ve got Ida on my shoulder at first whimper at the moment..usually I’ve covered the two steps to her cot before I’ve even woken.

Nadia – If you’re reading this – I wouldn’t of actually punched you but it is true that I  dislike you now more than ever. Just thought I’d make that clear. Even sisterhood has its limits.

Todays beautiful thing, cutting gingham with sharp pinking shears for bunting, that crisp swish of the blades.

I’m so tired I’m seeing spots…

This is the first time I’ve looked blankly at the draft screen. I’ve usually got a lot to say, (I’m not claiming it’s interesting or even makes sense..) Possibly it’s harder today because I’m finding it hard to remember my last longer than two hours stretch of uninterrupted sleep.

I mean the kids aren’t bad sleepers usually. I am and unfortunately it seems Z has inherited my sleepwalking tendencies. Steve usually wanders around the house in the early hours, drinking lemsips and playing tetris. In fact Ida usually goes 7.30 – 6 with minimal waking ( this is mostly due to my heartless application of controlled crying – more on this later*) and is the best sleeper out of us. Not at the moment though – not with the temperature and dreadful itching and, new this morning, spots in her eyes. Not good. Not good at all.

It’s funny how your body adjusts to very little shuteye but it’s like when your windows are really dirty and you don’t notice till you give them a good clean and suddenly light streams in. Sleep deprivation mists the world around you.

* I lied – I lied. Just wrote a hagridden witty and insightful rant discourse on the thorny controlled crying issue and then lost it. Stupid computer, stupid spilt tea, stupid Laura for not saving draft.

I plan to regroup, fit in a bit of kip and try again.

BT today – calomine lotion..it smells lovely and it feels divine – Ida heaved a real sigh of relief today when we got to work with the bottle and the cotton wool. “dab dab mums, dab dab!”