Category Archives: sleep

Wachet Auf

To say that I am not a morning person would be an understatement approximately equivalent to saying that Voldemort has some anger issues. I’m the kid who never took an 8am class in college or grad school, because I knew I’d never pass it. When we were looking at kindergarten options for the Hatchling, I immediately ruled out any school with a start time earlier than 8:30, because we would be tardy Every. Single. Day. My natural schedule would see me going to bed around 1:30 or 2:00 in the morning, and sleeping until 10:30. I yearn for the days when I have surly teenagers who sleep until 1 pm so I can go back to sleeping in myself. I’m also a person who a) needs a lot of sleep and b) looooooves sleeping. Some people can function on 5-6 hours of sleep per day; I am not one of those people. If I don’t get 7 or 8 hours a night, I’m an irritable, edgy, semi-functioning mess. I find sleep almost perfectly satisfying, whether it’s in the form of a mid-morning catnap or a luxurious weekend lie-in.

However. I am thinking that I may need to start getting up … argh … before my children do, ack, because I have not been finding regular meditation time, and it is making me cranky.

Meditation is a key element of Buddhism, some would say THE key element. The Buddha said, “Meditate. Live purely. Be quiet. Do your work with mastery. Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds! Shine.” Buddha taught that meditation leads to both serenity and insight, which are the “swift pair of messengers” that bring nirvana. I dunno about you, but I certainly could use more serenity and insight in my life. At a practical level, meditation makes me a much more patient parent, makes it far easier for me to weather the ups and downs of life, and dramatically reduces my urgent desire for mood-altering substances like cocktails and all-expenses-paid cruises to the Mediterranean. So, for many reasons, I need to find regular time to do it. During the school year, I was managing to meditate while the Hatchling was in school and the Sprout was napping, but that’s no longer our schedule. I could do it after the girls go to bed, but y’all: I am fucking TIRED at the end of the day. All I wanna do after the girls go to bed is sit on the sofa and watch Glee. (While checking on my online class and surfing Facebook. Ahem.) So I think mornings are going to have to be the time.

At any rate, for the next two weeks I’m going to try to get up before anyone else and do some zazen. Surely even *I* can do two weeks of early rising, right? I’ll keep you posted.

I write letters

Dear Molars,
You suck. Why you gotta hurt so much coming in? Moreover, why you gotta come in four at a time? That just seems like unnecessary zealousness on your part. Christ, the Sprout is only ten months old. Surely she doesn’t need to get ALL of her teeth this month. Take a break, already!

Sincerely,
The Squab

Dear Evolution,
What the hell? How can it be a good idea for it to hurt like hot pokers in your mouth when your teeth are coming in? I mean, what if we were in the wild and the Sprout, distracted out of her little mind with teething pain, was unable to defend herself from ravening predators? THOSE GENES WOULD NOT BE PASSED ON, NOW, WOULD THEY? In related news, teething pain is making the Sprout so unbelievably cranky that I may soon be returning her to the wild, just so the rest of us can get a decent night’s sleep. If Child Protection Services want to know who’s responsible, tell them to talk to Charles Darwin.

Regards,
The Squab

Bedtime Stories

Last night. Bedtime. Had battled various bugs in the bedroom earlier in the day and Mr. Squab had to get rid of a spider on the ceiling right above the bed just before we got in. I have a bug phobia.

Me: Can I snuggle with you? (Mr. Squab lifts arm to make the snuggle niche available.) Ummmm … can you tell me a story?

Mr Squab: (rolls eyes) What are you, five? Why?

Me: I don’t want to dream about bugs!! I need some other images in my head!

Mr. Squab: (pause) Once upon a time there was a little boy named Harold who liked to poop in people’s yards …

Me: (snorting with suppressed laughter) What the hell kind of story is THAT? I don’t want to dream about poop, either!

Mr. Squab: You asked for a story.

Me: (pause; can’t help self) Well, what happened with Harold? Why did he poop in people’s yards?

Mr. Squab: If he liked you, he’d leave a log in your yard.

Me: But what did the neighbors say?

Mr. Squab: They didn’t say anything. (long pause)

Me: But … that’s not a story! What happened after THAT?

Mr. Squab: Harold died.

Me: Of what?

Mr. Squab: Constipation.

Me: (nearly helpless with laughter, as is Mr. Squab) Oh, my god. That is the worst story ever. There is something wrong with you.

Mr. Squab: Sweet dreams.

Tired.

Well, hello. Ahem. Anybody still out there? Soooo … it’s been awhile. I guess I needed a break or something. Actually, that would be “or something” because it’s not so much that I needed a break from blogging (I mentally narrate my day in blog posts; it’s sad) as it is … other stuff. Part of it was the realization that many of my posts were causing concern among certain friends and family members as to my mental and emotional stability. I mean, I don’t want to make people think I’m about to go over the edge, here! And part of it was the realization that lately I’ve been feeling a lot like I’m about to go over the edge, here.

My stock answer when people ask me what it’s like, having two kids, is “It’s kicking my ass!” This is said – and meant – semi-jocularly, but the fact of the matter is that it’s also objectively true about 75% of the time. I constantly feel frazzled, stretched too thin, unfocused, inadequate, lacking direction, dysfunctional, and frustrated. In short, I am a BUSHEL BASKET OF FUN these days. Whoo. During one of my recent meltdowns, I explained to Mr. Squab that I don’t feel like I’m living up to my own (dwindling) standards in any aspect of my life right now: I’m not being the kind of mother I want to be, I’m not being a good partner to Mr. Squab, I’m completely overwhelmed even by minimal housework, I’m not making any progress in my professional life, and god knows I’m not taking great care of myself. My inner honors student is appalled at my inability to Get. Anything. Done. And while cognitively I’m aware that this, too, shall pass, I’ve been spending too much time lately feeling hopeless and dissatisfied. Which, let’s face it, is not the most fun way to be in the world. Also it is booooorrrrrriiiiiiiiinnnnnnggggg to talk about.

Mr. Squab, who I should say right now is basically a saint, pointed out that almost all of my funk can be traced back to one overarching cause: the lack of sleep. The Sprout, like her sister before her, wakes up every two hours all night long. Every night. Sometimes even more often than that. During the day, she takes wee naps in the morning and then a longer nap – as long as three hours, sometimes – in the afternoon, while the Hatchling sleeps. Which means that for the last five months I have not slept for longer than maybe three hours at one go … uh, at all. When the Hatchling was this same age, I was also profoundly sleep-deprived, but at least I could sleep whenever she did all through the day if I was really out of it. No such luck with two! And as any veteran parent can attest, after a few months of completely inadequate rest, you start to get a little psycho, and the worst of it is that you’re too tired to remember that fatigue is the source of your misery. I casually mentioned the Sprout’s poor sleeping habits at my weekly playgroup recently, and everyone immediately offered sympathy, remarking on how rough it is, how much you lose your mind, how everything goes all to hell when you’re so, so, so, so tired. It was like a revelation: Oh, yeah! That IS why I feel so shitty! Because I NEVER GET ANY SLEEP. It’s not that I’m an inadequate person! I’m just an inadequately rested person!

This realization does not, of course, help me get any more sleep – that will have to wait for sleep training in a month – but it does make me feel a little bit better about being such a mess. Because, really, I’m doing fine: I have lovely children and a wonderful partner and a good support system and a roof over my head and enough to eat etc., etc. I’m just bloody tired, is all.

Comfort food posting

I know, I know: Where the hell have I been? What am I, blogger or a slacker? Well, mostly I’ve been trying to sleep, trying being the operative word. For example, here’s how nap time goes: put down the Sprout, put down the Hatchling, wash out the accumulated bottles from the morning/previous night, do a half-assed picking up of the kitchen. Start to get really sleepy, lie down on sofa, doze for 10 minutes, get up to put pacifier back in Sprout’s mouth, doze for 15 minutes, hear the cat making a racket right outside the Hatchling’s door (he does this on purpose), go get cat and shut gate to upstairs, lie down and doze for 15 minutes, get up to nurse Sprout, doze for 10 minutes, wake up to telemarketer phone call, curse all telemarketers, hide phone in sofa cushions, shut cat out on the back porch, put pacifier in Sprout’s mouth, take deep breath, lie down, doze for 20 minutes, and then the Hatchling wakes up.

Sounds restful, don’t it? I’d probably be better off not even trying to nap, but I’m too tired not to.

Anyhoo, I was all jazzed up for tonight because I was actually going to Go. Out. To A Bar. (!!!) Mr. Squab was going to watch the girls and I promised to be back before the Hatchling’s bedtime. It was going to be so awesome, seeing old friends and drinking, you know, the sweet, sweet booze. But then the Sprout decided that today was projectile vomiting day, and she participated with unusual vigor. She’s fine – no fever or anything and she seems to have settled down now – but I really didn’t think I could leave Mr. Squab at home with a hyperactive three-year-old and a barfing one-month-old. So no night out for me …

… which leads me to the comfort food, aka the real point of this post. Since I was home, and since we didn’t have any sweet treats in the house, I whipped up some chocolate pound cake from my mother’s recipe, and holy crap is it good. I frankly don’t really understand why anyone makes non-chocolate poundcake, unless it’s because you haven’t made it with this recipe. When I was little, we used to make my mom take the cake out early so it would fall a little bit and we could eat the extra dense, moist pieces – but have no fear, it’s plenty dense and moist even when it’s fully baked. We like it warm out of the oven with no adornment, but then I almost always frost it with cream cheese frosting once it’s cooled off. Anyway, it’s a simple recipe that makes crazy delicious cake, so try it out next time you have a yen for something yummy.

Chocolate Pound Cake
1/2 c. shortening
1 c. butter
2 3/4 c. sugar
5 eggs
3 c. flour
1/2 c. cocoa
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/4 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla

Cream butter and shortening together. Slowly add sugar, then add eggs one at a time and beat until fluffy. Whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt together, and add to shortening mixture alternately with milk and vanilla. Beat on medium for 2-3 minutes. Pour into greased and floured tube or bundt pan. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 hours. Try to restrain yourself from eating entire cake at one sitting.

Cream Cheese Icing
8 oz. cream cheese
1 stick butter
1 box powdered sugar
6 Tblsp cocoa
1 tsp vanilla

Whip it all together and slap it on the cake. Or eat it directly from the bowl, whichever.

I write letters

Dear Sprout,
For your information, the hours between 2 and 5 am are generally considered ideal for SLEEPING, unless you are an owl, a bat, or a college student. As you do not fall into any of these categories, it would be greatly appreciated if you would desist from your nocturnal wakefulness. We enjoy hanging out with you, but if you don’t let us get some sleep we may have to consider selling you to the highest bidder.

Sincerely,
your exhausted parents

Awesome and Not Awesome

Awesome:
Having your mother, who is basically Martha Stewart, come for a visit and cook and clean like a true maniac. She cleaned my room, y’all. She is the ONLY person other than myself whom I would allow to even witness my room in its usual state of chaotic decrepitude, and not only did she witness it, in three hours she cleaned that sucker from top to bottom. I can only assume that she’ll dine out on the horror of it for weeks to come, but so far she’s been very pleasant about it to my face. We have also been eating like royalty, including fried chicken with hawaiian rice, pork chops with garlic mashed potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes, and fresh green beans, and tonight’s meal of sauerbraten with poppyseed noodles and red cabbage. That’s not even including the chocolate chip cookies, pound cake with chocolate cream cheese frosting, and banana bread. Mr. Squab thinks he died and went to heaven. She also does all the dishes, and has been helping me sort through all the Hatchling’s baby clothes and clean out the Hatchling’s room – oh, and then today she went out and bought the Hatchling a new twin bed because she has already outgrown the toddler bed we just set up for her about a month ago. (No, really: as in breaking the slats that hold up the mattress. She’s the size of a four year old.) We also went out today and got supplies for her to knit the Hatchling a purple and green cardigan with dragonfly buttons. A clean house, good food, new clothes and furniture: these are the building blocks of a peaceful Squabby mind. We will be very sad to see her go, and she’ll probably collapse from exhaustion the minute she steps onto the plane.

Not Awesome:
Having a reaction to the flu shot I got on Thursday that makes me feel … well … kind of like I’m getting the flu. So I’m spacey and really tired and not much good for anything. I woke up this morning at five o’clock with what I thought was an allergy attack, but it didn’t go away and I’ve felt increasingly blech as the day progressed. (And if you ever need evidence that I am not a morning person, just try talking to me when I’ve been forced out of bed at 5 AM by nasal difficulties. It’s not pretty, y’all. Not pretty at all.) It had BETTER be a reaction to the shot and not some actual disease coming on, because I’m supposed to fly out to see my sister and her new baby this coming weekend, and I refuse to be waylaid. Take that, contagion.