blank screen, blank brain: television and the zen of sleep training

We’ve been sans cable for three days now. Three whole days of television silence, broken only by the occasional DVD of Aladdin or Chicken Little, and can I just say I would not be sad if I never had to watch either of those movies again, ever? I may leave them down where the baby can get them by “accident” just so the option’s closed. Guh.

I think I miss the cable more than the baby does. He seems mildly put out that I haven’t offered to put on Jack’s Big Music Show lately, but other than that he doesn’t seem to even notice that there’s nothing on the TV screen. Mama, on the other hand? Feels like a crack addict. I haven’t had my Scrubs fix in days, and yes, I am aware that Zach Braff does the voice of Chicken Little, and no, that does not make it better. (Though I did keep expecting Chicken Little to yell “Banana hammock!” at several points during the movie.)

The lack of television coupled with the sleep training thing is all blessing and curse, and I will tell you why. First, it is good, because much of the reason the baby was staying up so late was because it was so easy for mama to hang out with him while she watched Adult Swim and crocheted. Now there is nothing to distract the baby from sleeping or the mama from letting him. Then, it is bad, because there is nothing to distract the mama from the myriad worries flitting in and out of her head like a swarm of moths. Related note: I have a moth phobia. Also spiders, but that’s neither here nor there. Again, the not having TV thing is good because I am not parking said kidlet in front of it during the day while I work or do school. Likewise, it is a nightmare because I get NOTHING done, oh my god, the nothing I get done is STAGGERING in its nothingness, especially on days like today when I have a deadline and an article I have to write and a child who is just bored and does not want to play quietly while mama compiles data.

But, yes. It evens out. << I typed that, and then the baby began to wail. He’d been asleep for all of 30 minutes, and I have spent the last hour upstairs with him while he alternately screamed inconsolably and clung to me like a barnacle while refusing to fall back asleep. I sang. I told stories. I rocked. I nursed. But the baby is so freaked out by the idea of sleeping alone that he will literally startle himself awake every time he drifts off, just so I won’t leave. It’s heartbreakingly sweet and desperately frustrating all at the same time.

I know what you’re saying. You’re saying what a horrible mother, and then you’re holding that thought because baby, awake. Again.

Okay. Where was I? Oh yes: What a horrible mother. Why make the poor child sleep alone? Why not just go to bed when he does? And I have no good reason, except that I don’t want to go to bed at 9pm every night, and also? I like being able to finish a thought every once in a while. I like being able to get stuff done. I like not having to divide my attention. Because did I mention the nothing I got done earlier?

The other half of you are probably saying Well why isn’t your husband helping? and the answer to that is that he is, just not tonight. We’ve been tag-teaming the bedtime routine, which is great (if somewhat less of a break for me than originally planned) but tonight I’m solo and he’s out gaming. The theory, I guess, is that Happy Fun Baby will not notice the lack of Dada as long as the schedule’s the same. Which is a lovely theory.

I have other theories. Many of them involve Tahiti, and the running away thereto. I hear it’s nice this time of year. Also? I bet they have cable.

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listmania: hearts and kisses edition

Happy Valentine’s Day, blogosphere! In case you didn’t know, Valentine’s Day isn’t just a genetically engineered plot device meant to boost flower sales during the slow months of winter. Valentine roots can be traced back as far as the Roman Lupercalia festival, in which young men dressed in loincloths spanked women with strips of goat hide. Of course, then the Christians came along and did away with all the spanking, and that’s how St. Valentine got his name on all the cards. Or something.

Anyway, we’re celebrating by not going out and not having a romantic dinner. We may also not give each other cards or flowers or anything that sparkles. Chez Cranky: the place to go to get your Valentine on.

It’s been an eventful few days since I last updated, and instead of trying to make it all flow together in Zen-like homogeneity, I will once again resort to list-making. You will read the list and rejoice, and all will be right with the world.

And if you don’t like it, I will spank you with a strip of goat hide. You know, for Valentine’s Day.

  • Last Thursday was my blogiversery (blog-a-versary?). Want to know how I know? Because my domain name expired! If you noticed that the site was down for much of the weekend (and I know you did), that’s why. Happy Blogiversary to me.
  • Saturday night Not So and I left Happy Fun Baby with an actual babysitter and went on an actual date. Woo hoo! We saw Glen Phillips at the Aladdin. Glen (I am so totally on first-name basis with him) was exquisite as always, though not barefoot. This could be because it is the middle of winter. His opening act was a woman named Vienna Teng, who I now love and adore. Brilliant pianist and singer. Glen made noises about touring with her and…someone else, whose name I don’t remember but yay, great…during the summer, and I am so, so there. Assuming we can get a sitter.
  • Taxes: done. Waiting for refund, which promises to be rather substantial. Will use to buy practical things like a new laptop for Not So and an Apple TV (see next item for the why).
  • Cable: gone! We got sick of plying Comcast with ridiculous amounts of money for ridiculously sub-par service and had them cancel our cable television yesterday. Unfortunately we’ve got to keep them for internet, since they’re the only option for high-speed in our neighborhood (and what is up with that? We’re in North Portland, not the North Pole) but at least we won’t be paying them as much. Also, Happy Fun Baby watches too much TV, and I know I won’t just leave the damn thing off if I have the option. Hooray, good parenting! But so we will be watching a lot of Netflix and downloading a lot of stuff from iTunes. Hence the Apple TV. You see. Because at least that way there won’t be commercials.
  • Speaking of Happy Fun Baby, he has discovered that he can scoot various furniture items around the room to facilitate dangerous climbing experiments. Yesterday I happened to look up to see that he had pushed the little ottoman up to the baby gate and had climbed up and slung one leg over the gate in preparation for – what? What, exactly? You’ve got to think these things through, kid. Happily I grabbed him before he went tumbling over and splatted on the hardwood.
  • I’m cutting way, way down on sweets in an effort to slow my slide into Screeching Harpy-dom (and hopefully lull my anxiety disorder into remission). This means I’m cooking a lot more, since I can pretty easily make lower-sugar versions of delicious things and trick myself into feeling like I’m not dieting. It’s been one day. So far I have not noticed much of a difference. I know you are surprised.

Now I must go do those productive things that good housewives do while their husbands are at work. None of those things involve goat hide, but wouldn’t the world be a more entertaining place if they did? (By the way: I’m totally just going to go read my rss feeds. But you can pretend I’m scrubbing the baseboards if it would make you feel better.)

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reflections on reflections

cat and babyI’m almost 14 months post-partum, and I finally feel like I belong in my skin.

I was taking a bath the other night and noticed the way my belly fat jiggled. That wasn’t unusual, because, dude – the belly, it jiggles, much like a bowl full of jelly, were you to fill a bowl with jelly and then try and fit it into a pair of jeans. But instead of instantly flashing back to my pregnancy or thinking that’s what happens when you give birth, I just thought that’s my belly.

Yeah, some epiphany, right? But it really was, and here’s why: my body is mine again. It might be flabby and lumpy and unattractively coiffed, but sometime in the last couple of weeks I stopped feeling like a vehicle for the continued sustenance of my kid and started feeling like a person who is also a mom. I mean, yes, I’m still nursing, so it’s not like I can exist separately from the kid for more than a couple of hours at a time, but now that he’s snarfing down every solid he can find the nursing seems a bit more secondary…and the mom thing, oddly, seems more deliberate. My body isn’t what makes me a mom; being a mom is.

I still don’t fit into most of my pre-preg clothes, but at least now I feel like doing something to get into shape is less like auto maintenance and more like – well, exercising. That’s something, right? Especially since I don’t even own a car.

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scattergories

I’m feeling somewhat disconnected tonight, so your update will be brought to you in easy to digest, bite-sized morsels, not unlike Fancy Feast. Only shorter on the Fancy. And smelling somewhat less of fish.

TV: My constant diet of Scrubs is slowly being replaced by a hearty helping of The Tube and a smattering of the Dresden Files. No BSG, since we missed the one before the last one and can’t watch the last one until we watch it. Clear? And Veronica Mars is still being recorded, but has faded from my affections. I prefer to remember Season I VM as-is, without the taint of Season II or the untamed mediocrity of Season III. Anyway we also have a stack of Lost episodes from Netflix, and we’re not watching those either. At what point does the Netflix membership become a financial drain? Note to self: watch Lost.

Music: I’m on a big Steve Burns kick lately. Who knows why. Too much Noggin? I keep listening the the unreleased version of Mighty Little Man (which is just…I don’t know why he changed it for the album version, because it is so deliciously confessional and good, and yes, I am a sucker for a confessional, why do you ask?), and there’s a part in which he says “I have my mother’s eyes” that makes me sad every time I hear it, because Happy Fun Baby? So does not have my eyes. The most he can say is “I have my mother’s poor anger management skills,” and is that really something you’d want to put in a song?

Books: I’ve been reading a truly obscene amount of material. Three entire books in the last week. That’s almost up to pre-baby consumption! And they’ve all been really good books, so yay for that. The Keep by Jennifer Egan is absolutely stunning, Good in Bed by Jennifer Weiner is surprisingly un-fluffy for a chick book, and Lauren Slater’s Blue Beyond Blue: Extraordinary Tales for Ordinary Dilemmas is, like everything else Lauren Slater writes, filled with a brilliance that borders on insanity. Yay, psychologist writers! At least her name isn’t Jennifer. I also have roughly a dozen crochet books on loan from the library, all of which suggest that I should really learn how to read a pattern. I don’t want to learn how to read patterns, though. Patterns involve counting, and that’s practically math. How am I supposed to relax when there’s math involved?

There might be more, but I am tired now, and do not wish to delve. G’night, internet.

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i quit

You know what I’m supposed to do during the day? I’m supposed to be an entrepreneur. I’m supposed to track down leads and follow them. I’m supposed to find ways to increase visibility for our new business while reinforcing the integrity of our vision. I’m supposed to be staying on top of design and technology trends and writing weekly articles on our blog.

You know what else I’m supposed to be doing during the day? Going to school. I’m in my third year at AiO and I have a 3.9 GPA, which I’m determined to hang on to until graduation, which is sometime next year. Since it’s an online school, I can set my own hours, provided I log in and post substantively at least 4 days a week. The number of assignments varies from class to class, but it’s typically between 3 and 5 per week. These are all accelerated, 5.5 week classes, so a lot of ground is covered.

Another thing I’m supposed to be doing during the day? Caring for and entertaning my toddler. I want to say this involves a lot of structured play, reading, and outdoor adventures. I want to say that, but it would be a lie. We do a fair amount of unstructured, interactive play and a lot of cuddling, but there’s also a fair amount of “educational” TV and me on my computer while the baby entertains himself. We don’t even have a structured lunchtime – I feed him when he seems hungry, and only bother with the high chair about half the time. If I were a nanny, I’d totally sit myself down and give me a serious talking-to about whether or not I’m in the right line of work.

Also on my list of must-do things every day? Housekeeper. I’ve got to do laundry, dishes, and daily maintenance for a household of three, plus stuff like mopping, dusting, trash taking-out, Diaper Champ changing, vacuuming and litterbox maintenance. Back in the day, I didn’t care so much if, say, the floor was dirty or the dishes were piled up. Now I need the floors to be clean because there’s a little person crawling around on them all day, and I can’t procrastinate on the dishes because there isn’t a later I can leave things for.

Then I have days like today, when I walk into the kitchen, see all the mess everywhere, and think “I QUIT.”  Even thinking that gives me a moment of relief. I don’t have to reprioritize, I don’t have to spend the next few hours running from the baby to the kitchen and back…I just quit. No more housework for me!

Except it doesn’t work that way, does it? It’s not like I can transfer to a cleaner house.

If I could, though? I’d be all OVER that.

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art + me = BFF

What’s in store for today? I’m heading over to the office to do some paintings for my sister. I promised them to her, what, eight months ago? The latest iteration had me giving them to her for Christmas, which is still possible if she had been, say, comatose for the past month. But still, better late than never, right?

Speaking of late, I’d planned on being at the office by now, but decided, inexplicably, to run my disk backups before I leave. This means that I have at least 20 more minutes of watching the little status bar on my backup program increase incrementally while my kid runs around being incredibly cute and making me not want to leave at all. He is seriously cute, though. You wouldn’t want to leave either.

It’s surprisingly hard to switch gears and go from Mama to Artist Person. Web design I can manage, but web design is less…I don’t know, visceral than painting. It requires less of me. Before Happy Fun Baby was born, I loved to be able to shut myself in a room and paint or write or draw. Now it feels like doing that is denying my kid somehow. Because god  forbid he have a mother who does something just because she loves doing it. ::face:: Besides, the web design – and even the toymaking – I can justify by pointing out that it will, theoretically, generate some sort of monetary compensation. The art is just for me. Well – in this case, it’s for Auntie Pep and Uncle Speedracer, but still.

On the Cranky Pals front, guess whose toys are being carried at LilyToad? If you said “Cranky Mama,” give yourself a shiny nickel! No, really – you deserve it. Seriously, I’m ridiculously excited about having my toys in an actual store, not to mention being able to feel like I’m contributing to LilyToad’s success, since I love that place unreasonably and would hate to see it go out of business. Dude, who went and got all serious here? I’m still doing the happy dance because someone likes my toys.

My backup is, like, 65% done. Woo hoo! I’m going to go have a sandwich.

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church of the almighty pinprick

The other day Not So and the baby and I went over to our favorite kid shop (they sell kids there! Thank you, I will be here all week) to pick up some black-and-white stripey BabyLegs so I can continue with my master plan of turning my toddler into a wee little goth. I was still sick, of course, because I am stubborn at just the wrong angle and refuse to actually go to the doctor. So my ears were still quite plugged for our little outing. Plugged ears make the world seem somewhat surreal and disconnected, like watching the TV on mute. A lot like that, in fact. As an added bonus I had become completely unable to gauge the volume of my voice, so in addition to constantly saying “What?” I was also, probably, shouting like a crazy person. Fun!

So of course I decided to get into a conversation with the owner of LilyToad about my recent flirtation with toymaking, which led to her expressing a genuine interest in carrying Cranky Pals at the store, which is highly improbable but nonetheless true. So, yay! Also: eek!

My “inventory” (if by inventory you mean a stack of felt remnants and a bunch of batting) is woefully sparse, and I still haven’t figured out the damned sewing machine, so naturally my first instinct was to go out to Bolt on Alberta and touch all the fabric. We picked up some yummy fuzzy something-or-other (one of these days I’m going to keep track of which fabric is which) and then, bolstered by our brave foray into the outside world, decided to walk a mile and a half in the fresh air, which surely held health-giving powers. Yes?

No. I spent the next day sick, exhausted, and weeping, completely unable to do anything in the least bit useful and annoying Happy Fun Baby by my refusal to be fun and/or engaging. Did I go to the doctor, you ask? I did not. But, to be fair, I felt much better the next day.

I have been sewing like a mad fiend since then in an effort to make up for the days I lost to my stupid cold. I’ve been referring to it like that pretty consistently – my stupid cold – and I intend to continue until every trace of phlegm is out of my system. Which might be never. I’ll just be that girl with the perpetual case of the sniffles.

Related: I’m thirty-two, for Christ’s sake. Enough with this “girl” thing already. ::shakes head at self::

So I’ll be bringing a bunch of Cranky Pals over to LilyToad tomorrow; keep your fingers crossed for me.

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