Tuesday, December 23, 2008

On the 11th Day of Christmas, the Sleep Doula gave to me...

... 11 Sleeping Hours!
10 Cell Phone Supports
9 "Don't you give ins"
8 Guilt-free Emails
7 Back Muscle Spasms
6 Hours of Shushing
5 Marital Fights
4 Nights on the Floor
3 In Our Bed
2 Rested Adults
And a daughter who sleeps in her crib!

One week. It took one week (with one particular night of hell after the initial sleep training, where I may or may not have screamed at J at 3 am, "Fuck you and your job!") but she slept. A full night. Which she hadn't done in SIX MONTHS!

Never did I imagine that I would put my daughter down in her crib and that she would actually lay herself down and figure out that it was time to sleep. But this is consistently the case now. Oh, it's still unpleasant. There's still crying/whimpering, which begins the second she's tired so I think I need to bump bedtime a half hour earlier, but there's an end to the screams and she's using them to settle herself down the way she did a year ago.

Tracey Ruiz, the Sleep Doula, is about the nicest, most down-to-earth person you may ever meet. If you've ever met Ann Douglas, she has a lot of the same warm characteristics. But Tracey is dirty. She equates sleep to sex at every turn and she had my heart when I received an email from her asking, "So did you get lucky yet?"

What I love best about Tracey is that she never admonishes your choices, nor your obvious mistakes. She has such a gentle way of telling you how to correct something, that you don't feel like an asshole about it. She empowers you with the support you need to get through the ugly parts of sleep training, keeping you focussed on the end goal: More sleep for everyone.

I have heard from NoMo that if you would rather avoid CIO, Tracey will give you tips on how to get better sleep without it. I totally get it -- hearing a baby cry is awful. And if you don't want to go through with that, I completely understand and respect that. But let me tell you, short term pain for long term sleeping gain is worth it.

Some person on Twitter sent me to some blog pretending to be the official word on parenting science, with tons of stats on why CIO is terrible. That person can suck it. (Merry Christmas! And suck it!) I love my daughter more than anything, but I cannot be a good parent when I am so tired all the time. She is 16 months old -- old enough to be able to handle a few nights of me laying down the new law. I have attended to her needs ever so thoroughly over the past year and four months. I have responded to every whimper. And this is what's lead her to believe that I'm her playmate at 1, 3 and 5 am.

Lucy wakes up crying at every opportunity. She cries after her incredibly short naps, she cries in the morning, in the middle of the night. She has never really been that baby who babbles happily in her crib. She is always exhausted, never fully rested, and really hyper as a result. I have read ALL the sleep books, tried all the methods, and nothing worked for us. I really feel that I had no choice but to call the Sleep Doula and work with her on this.

I can't totally reveal Tracey's methods here, since she does forgo sleep herself in exchange for a niche business opportunity. But I will say that the crying it out is supported, either by the parents (with Tracey on the other end of a cell phone for support) or by Tracey and her team -- should you not be able to go through with it on your own. (The only reason our training took so long was because we were taking Loogoo into our bed at 5/6 am out of frustration and guilt.)

I will say that since the training, my daughter has been calmer, gentler, more alert. She will sit still for a whole book or a cuddle. She's eating better. She is hugging and kissing us. I am able to read her cues better than I've ever been. To think that for a while there I was wondering if she had a neurological condition! I am actually enjoying my daughter and her quirky, sweet self and not bemoaning her troublesome nature as much.

Having Tracey at a text message's end is the real perk of this service. Having a professional -- who is not sleepy and confused -- calmly suggest improvements at 2 am rocks. No question is too ridiculous. She even told me I could move the kids back in together in a few weeks. (Hey Nate, Merry Christmas! Here's your eviction notice!) I totally recommend Tracey for the sleep-deprived. Though the house visits are usually GTA-only, I'm sure she could do phone consults to wherever.

Now onto marriage triage so that I can actually get me some lucky! (Let's turn that labial frown upside down, shall we?)

**************

Happy Happy Ho-Hos to all of you this week. Santa brought me a new work structure and a third of a new person, so I'm hoping I'll be less stressed and have more time to update soon.

Monday, December 15, 2008

WWTTD?

I know, I know. I hate sending people to other sites to say, "Read me there..." But seriously, I went to see Tina Turner Friday night and I think my summation of the show has some hilarity to it. So if you need a Scarbie laugh GO. (I say "Nutbush*" a few times. Does that help?)

*For the record, it's been 4 days and I am still giggling at "Nutbush." Yes I am that immature.

What Tina taught me

Originally published on Sweetspot.ca


Friday night, my buddy Elise (our Marketing and Events Coordinator) and I had the great pleasure of seeing Tina Turner live in concert. My husband was surly about it all day. "I'm a bigger Tina Turner fan than you! I should be the one going!" Yet when the extra ticket came up, he chose making pizza and playing Lego Star Wars on the Wii with our son over the concert. (And that's why I love him.) So I called Elise (she fit the criteria of childless -- meaning available in a flash -- and fabulously fun), grabbed my three other girlfriends and headed to the show.

The thing is -- EVERYONE is a Tina Turner fan. There is no way you could go to this show and not be struck by her grace, her gift and her spirit. After the show, we could not stop gushing about Tina. Here's what we took away from our unbelievable, once-in-a-lifetime experience:

1. You are never too old for stilettos and a mini skirt -- if you take pride in yourself. Oh Stacey and Clinton may have their signs that say, "No mini skirts after 35," but they are not talking about Tina. Tina is 69, shakin' her thang in sequins and Louboutins -- and looking hawt! She made me want to go to the gym, pronto.

2. You can be a good mama AND have a solid career.
Tina has two kids of her own (and, according to Wikipedia, she's also the adoptive mother of two of Ike's kids from other relationships). I believe she's even a grandmother. Can you imagine Tina being your grandma? That would be all kinds of awesome.

3. Be good to your people. Tina stopped the show to introduce not only the members of her band and her dancers, but also her lighting and stage crew -- each person by name with 20,000 strangers cheering for their hard work to make the show happen. Then, to top it off, she rolled credits at the end of the show to reinforce her gratitude and recognition. Amazing. It stood out.

4. Never underestimate the power of a good tease. Oh we all knew "Proud Mary" was coming, but Tina really dragged it out until we were practically begging for it. I must remember that in my every day...

5. Class is something that comes from within. Tina/Anna Mae came from humble beginnings. Stardom has not diminished her ability to stay centred, nor to be gracious, kind and friendly. "I really enjoyed you enjoying me," she said humbly to the crowd.

6. There are some things only Tina can pull off. Telling (I'm guesstimating) 8000 men you want them to "give it to you real hard," and then getting them to shout out, "What's love got to do, got to do with it." Tina alone. Coming out in full Mad Max regalia, including that Clingon wig and having people think you kick ass? Seulement Tina. Wearing that much sequins? Only Tina. Getting 20K people to shout "Nutbush?" Yep, just Tina. She's simply the best.



Don't make Tina mad by goin' around tryin' to get people to say Nutbush all day! Only Tina!

PS: What's with lame people that pay a lot of money for a live concert and then get mad when you're up in your seat dancing? Would they not be happier at home watching a DVD of the concert? If Tina is shakin' a tailfeather at 69, I think you could get up and show your appreciation a little. Is this only a Toronto thing? Email me. And

Friday, December 12, 2008

Outsourcing

I don't know why I find certain aspects of domestic life so hard, but I do. My mom managed to do it all and I don't remember her complaining. She was home with us until I was a tween though, and I do recall a lot of "TV as the babysitter" and being sent to our room to play so she could catch up on Y&R while peeling potatoes. (Multitasking!)

But it's the trying to have a career with "two kids under four" that's killing me and my former hipster-meets-Martha Stewart self. (Note: referring to yourself as a former hipster makes you instantly old and uncool.) My house is a mess. My tree isn't up. (Well, I managed the stockings and the Santa photo...) Outwardly, everything looks peachy (because we never entertain inside our 830 sq ft "all we can afford to live downtown" house), but inside is a home that is crying out for order on all fronts.

So I've been outsourcing: Hiring women who are good at things I suck at to help make my life easier. I never thought I'd be THAT woman, but outsourcing is helping me cope with the tough parts of this mommy gig. Here's what I've tried so far.

1. The Cleaning Lady: Oh sweet Rosanna. What I wouldn't give up to have her come every week (clearly I am bad at budgeting, because if I truly meant this I would give up those lattes). At first I felt bad about someone else doing my floors. Then I told myself that would be like feeling bad for getting the mechanic to fix your car. She's an expert. She takes half the time I would and when I come home on Rosanna days I have five whole minutes of bliss before the kids undo it all.

2. The Time Doctor: I recently reviewed the Time Doctor's service for the site. I'm really chronologically challenged and this woman is a pro at helping parents organize their time. And some day, when I have the time, I'll start to implement her recommendations. (Yeah, I get a big F on that one, but I still think she's worth it.)

3. *The Sleep Doula: This is a resource that's been getting a lot of buzz in Toronto mom circles. A nice woman who give you tips and tricks on getting your baby to sleep better, and if needed, will come to your house to make sure everyone is getting their Zzzs? Sign me up! (It's midnight and Lucy has been up twice already.)

Tracey Ruiz, THE Sleep Doula, instantly put me at ease. She has a voice that could lull angels to sleep. Not for a second did she make me like a bad mommy for the choices I've made in regards to Lucy's sleep habits. She said that it takes a day to create or undo any bad habits in babies, and that within three nights of following her methods we should see a marked improvement on the situation.

She did recommend consulting with your family doctor before attempting any sleep training, to rule out ear infections or sleep apnea. So I don't have anything really to report just yet, until we see the doctor Monday. Stay tuned.

What are you outsourcing these days? Should I try any of it?.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Star Wars: Whoremone Wars

This week our relationship reached a new level of sexlessness.

We got a Wii.

Admittedly, the kind Nintendo PR people sent it to my work so that I could potentially review a game at the day job.

I have not touched it once. I am too busy to touch... it.

The huzzle is already obsessed with it. He called me Saturday night from work.

Him: (excited, breathless) "I got us a present."
Me: (knowing full well that the word "us" was being used extravagantly by a frugal man) "Is it green and can we smoke it?"
Him: "No, no. I've had that for weeks. This is better."
Me: (trying to sound enthused, knowing that this is not something that will even remotely exite me) "What is it?"
Him: "Well, I went to HMV. And man, I haven't been to a music store in ages, but it's like all vids in there now. So I got. LEGO. STAR. WARS. FORTWENTYBUCKS!"

Upon hearing this my labia frowned with disapproval. They knew he was about to find yet another distraction to keep him playing with moi.

Also, in the modern marriage, how does one say, "Hey, this is my game system. That we have because of my job. And um, I kinda wanted to play some chick shit on there like bowling, before you sullied it with your nerdom..."?

I said nothing. I could tell by his voice that he had defaced my machine already. I could picture him lazing on the couch, holding the nunchuck and controller in a slightly perverse way, getting off on unlocking R2D2.

Tonight the kids went to bed relatively early. I had work to do but I hadn't seen the huz in a few days and was hoping for some physical interaction. I'm ovulating and my crotch is hotter than that lava world that Anakin/Darth chooses as home in the last movie. OK, I admit, sitting on the couch with greasy hair and the cat and computer on your lap (not to mention the Chewbacca in your panties) is not an obvious invitation for the sex. But I figured pheromones from needing a shower would take care of it. (It worked for Napoleon and Josephine didn't it?)

I did not expect the even less sexy mating calls coming from the other side of the room. "Check this out," he kept insisting. Just like in sixth grade, when I waxed poetic on Optimus Prime in order to have conversations with boys I liked, I fained interest.

(Forgive me other Star Wars nerds, for it is late and I don't feel like looking up the spellings of names or places.)

Me: "Are you Obi Won?"
Him: "No! I'm Qui Gon Jin!"
Me: "Cool?"
Him: "See these guys? They are all my guys. I got them all already."
Me: (rolling my third eye, the one they tell you exists in yoga class -- then trying to get involved) "Oh, was that Padme? Can you be Padme?"
Him: "Why the fuck would I want to be Padme?"
Me: (Having to continue pretend-interest causing me to barf a bit in my mouth) "Well, she's kinda cool. She fights some doesn't she? And she IS the mother of Luke and Leia..."
Him: "I guess... Yes guy! I just killed Darth Maul. I'm going to bed."

In the old days, or if this was in real Tatooine time, I would have thought killing Darth Maul would have made him feel more manly, more of a Jedi if you will. I would have thought he would have shown me his light sabre in return. No such luck.

Then a second chance...

Him: "Whaaaaat? Now I AM Darth Maul. WICKED!"
Me: (indifferent, pretending to work)
Him: "Man, there's an invisible field there."
Me: (growing increasingly less horny by the second, still holding out slight hope for action)
Him: "Aw yeah! 82% Jedi! G'night."
Me: "Yo, pass me a chocolate cookie before you go?"

Padme got more action in Episode Two than I did tonight peeps. Thanks George Lucas. And Dutch plastic brickmakers. And Japanese video game wizzes. Damn globalization.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

On TV again

If you're sick of my sob stories and can get the Toronto feed of Global TV, I'll be on tomorrow morning at 8:45 am, talking about being fun, fabulous and frugal for the holidays in tough economic times. Hopefully their makeup person can hide the tired bags under my eyes... don't judge.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Don't Wish it Away

"I don't enjoy her," he said grimly Sunday morning, looking over her as she brought him book after book, begging to be read to over and over again. I knew it absolutely wasn't true, that he was only tired and feeling it momentarily, but the words left a red hot mark on my cheek.

It's not what he says on those mornings that we haven't slept, but what's between the lines: You wanted her Nadine. I was perfectly content with one. You insisted. Now look at this mess.

My daughter is difficult, demanding, high maintenance. I love her passionately, more than I ever imagined. I can't compare my two children. They are night and day. But it's fair to say that Nate was easy. It's fair to think that if we'd had Lucy first, we'd have waited longer in between kids, or not had a second at all. But it's just not fair to Lucy.

She didn't ask to be here. And yet here she is. Fierce and funny and fantastic. She enters every room arms in the air, saying, "Halloo!" though it looks more like "Holla! Look at me! I am radiant! I am cute! I want you to love me."

But she cannot sleep, and I'm starting to think something's wrong. That maybe something has always been wrong. She fights sleep at every turn, unable to settle herself down. We tried Crying It Out a month or so ago, but it didn't really work. In the end I could not settle my gut feeling that it was making things worse somehow. And it was. She became fearful of her bed, afraid of us leaving her room and completely unable to soothe herself. She is too spirited for CIO, and now I'm really unsure what to do.

She's been sleeping in her own crib since she was two months old. Bringing her into our bed never soothes her, though at 6am it sometimes buys me a half hour nap (if one can really sleep with a baby attached to one's boob). But last night we tried bringing her into our bed and after some restlessness she slept for six hours. I noticed that at first her breathing was uneven, laboured somewhat. She whimpers in her sleep and it takes her so long to get to long steady breaths of deep sleep. My gut is telling me there's something not right with that. But the problem with being sick in the head is that nobody believes your claims of sickness -- not your own, and not when you suspect something might be wrong with your children either.

So I have to get to the bottom of it. Because we're wishing her beautiful babyhood away. Because right now, with my crazy job and J's shift work, her sleeping problems are inconvenient. A pain in the butt. And I feel absolutely horrible about this.

"Hurray up and be six already," he mockingly yells at her. And my eyes well up. Because 15 months have flown by and one day I will wake up and she'll be sixteen and I'll wonder why I worked so hard when I could have been savouring her smallness.