Unanchored Thoughts

Bits and pieces of musings about family, friends, social issues, and whatever else travels through my head without a purpose.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Greetings from the road

We are currently on day 5 of a week-long road trip between home, the Eastern Shore, and upstate NY. It has been great to see all of my side of the family, but a week-long road trip in the middle of winter with a 2 year old and newborn baby to four different over-night locations won't go down in history as our best road-trip agenda. In fact, it may be the worst. We are a particularly high-maintenance family right now. We travel with enough gear to outfit a small army and Graeme is a very fussy eater. Between our two kids we are awake until at least midnight and then again at 6AM, and ideally we need two separate sleeping areas. Graeme needs a room with dark and quiet. Ian needs a room with a light on most of the night and decent sound-proofing. It's hard to find accommodations that will patiently satisfy even a few of our needs. And, when the formula isn't close to accurate chaos erupts, as has happened on several occasions. Add to this the fact that I'm avoiding alcohol in an effort to stave off Ian's screeching makes for one not-so-happy mama.

The bright side is that Graeme is getting to know his grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins quite well and he loves the constant attention. Also, everyone, especially Graeme, is holding up very well and handling the constant change with relative ease. Never the less, I'm looking forward to returning to our own digs soon.

Friday, December 21, 2007


An interesting exchange has developed with Graeme that has me agreeing to all sorts of crazy ideas. It goes something like this:

Graeme: "I want cookies for dinner."
Mama: "You want cookies for dinner?"
Graeme: "OK"


Graeme: "Let's put Madison's food on floor." (Madison is the cat.)
Mama: "You want to put Madison's food on the floor?"
Graeme: "OK" (sound of cat food being poured all over the kitchen floor)

These are real world examples. I think I developed this habit of repeating what he says for clarification purposes. Even now, but especially a few months ago, it was difficult to discern what exactly he was saying. So, I would repeat what I thought he said to make sure I was understanding him correctly, as any good conversationalist would, right? Now, it's a habit, or perhaps a way for me to gather my thoughts while coming up with a more appropriate response that won't elicit wails of protest, such as, "cookies, what a great idea AFTER we eat dinner." Or, "Madison sure would like her food in this special bowl."

Instead, by repeating Graeme's requests I have inadvertently turned them into offers he gladly accepts.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My Pet Peeve of the Moment

...the anecdotes in parenting books that claim a particular technique worked miracles on the first try and with little effort.

I'm currently reading Happiest Baby on the Block and I must say that it has provided some of the better advice on getting a baby to sleep compared to some of the other books I've read over the past two years (sleep is important to me, but not so much for Graeme...or Ian it seems). The 5 s's (swaddle, side, swing, shhh, suck) resonate with Ian, particularly the side one. However, we are long from the "my child was asleep at the mere sight of the swaddling blanket" claimed by many of the parents quoted in the book. Who are these people? I hate them.

I've been 5 s'ing for 3 hours and as I type Ian appears to be in a slumber. I'm going to add a 6th 's', slogging. Slogging = putting Ian to sleep by creating blog entries.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Here Comes Santa Claus

I can't believe that we were able to get Graeme to sit on Santa's lap without (1) promising him lots of cookies, (2) Steve making a complete fool of himself jumping up and down on a Sunday afternoon in the mall, or (3) drugging him. We waited for about an hour in line. Well, I should say that Ian and I waited about an hour. Steve and Graeme rode the escalators 400 times. When it was our turn Graeme willingly went to Santa and then climbed on his lap after Santa offered a sticker. I quickly snapped a few good shots and then we scurried on our way without nary paying a dime. I'm not sure if I should be sharing this information, but Santa seemed didn't seem to mind and in fact suggested that we take a photo on our own camera with each of the boys individually. The operation at Pentagon City mall is inefficient at best and to wait for the opportunity to pay $25 for a 5x7 print would have added a good 30 minutes to our trip. So, we just took our photos, thanked Santa for the chocolate and stickers, paid our $1.50 parking fee and headed on our way. If I get coal in my stocking next Tuesday I'll know that this wasn't a good idea.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Ian's Screech

Ian has developed a few annoying habits. Poor guy, he's on the verge of being only 6 weeks old and I'm already complaining. He has a screech that sounds like someone is stepping on a cat's tail, repeatedly. This screech usually means he desperately wants to fall asleep and just can't. It usually ends abruptly when he finally succumbs to a good slumber. During the day I can manage it by putting him in the sling and carrying on with our day. However, this is more difficult at night. The house is asleep and pacing our basement gets monotonous. And "carrying on with the day" means "going to bed" for me, which doesn't satisfy little Ian. He has also taken to a 9PM-midnight waking during which time he screeches almost constantly. The sling doesn't calm him and I haven't found the magic solution to either preventing or curtailing this screech time.*

For example, he woke at 9:15 tonight, ate, screeched for a while then sat awake in the sling until about 11:15 when he ate again. I then walked, bounced, and sang until he miraculously fell asleep at 11:45PM (a few minutes ago). Now I must decide if I can risk transferring him to the car seat (where he sleeps) or continue typing until he's in a really deep sleep. Regardless, there are usually about 30 minutes of fidgeting that happen once he's in the car seat during which time I rock and sing and shhhhh him for fear that he wakes. By then it's usually about 1AM and then he wakes at 2 to eat again. This isn't making mama happy.

Fortunately, Steve has been saint-like with entertaining Graeme in the morning while Ian and I sleep-in until 8'ish.

I've now wasted enough time that Ian seems sound asleep. If you see another post in an hour you'll know that the transfer was unsuccessful. Wish me luck!

* You may notice a fair number of late-night postings which occur while I'm attempting to quiet him, or keep myself occupied while he screeches in the background.

Washington Monster

Graeme is fascinated with monsters. We aren't exactly sure how he views monsters or what exactly they mean to his 2-year old mind. In order to avoid introducing any of our own biases regarding monsters we just nod and ask probing questions when he talks about them. He doesn't necessarily seem to be afraid. For example, the other day Steve said he closed his bedroom door and said "Bye, bye monsters. See you later." Yet, he will also say "No monsters in there," before proceeding into our laundry room.

Tonight we went to see the Christmas tree near the White House (see picture above) and as we were driving down 395 he said "what's that monster" and pointed to the Washington Monument. I said, "that's the Washington monster." He then asked about the monster for most of the trip to and from DC. Where's the monster? I can't see the monster. Where are his eyes? I want to see his eyes. Monster is sleepy.

So, from here on out the legendary monument will be referred to as the Washington Monster in our household.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Bright Snow

We received about 4 inches of snow here in Arlington today. It was magical to play in it with Graeme. This was his first real experience with snow at a point when he is able to really be in it (as opposed to stand in a pile looking scared while I took pictures last year). I put him in some hand-me-down rain boots from the Dockins' boys and his winter coat and hat and we "crunched" around the neighborhood while he stuck out his hand to catch flakes, pressed his mitten into objects in the courtyard to watch it disappear and made footprints everywhere. I loved just watching his reaction and listening to his commentary. 'now (he can't really say the 's') disappear; 'now is loud (when he crunched his feet); I eat 'now.

After dinner he wanted to go out again. "Put coat on dad-ee." "Mom-ee stay here with Ian." At one point Steve asked me to bring sunglasses. Graeme stated that the snow was too bright and he needed sunglasses!


Sometimes the only peace in our house is the symbol on Ian's hat.

Our own apartment

Ian and I have acquired our own apartment. No, we haven't vacated the Arlington townhouse that Steve and I have lovingly made into a home stashed full of all types of gear to make two little boys very happy (and spoiled). Instead, we have retreated to the basement area for the night-time hours.

We traveled to Gatlinburg, TN for Thanksgiving for our annual visit with Steve's extended family. We stopped in Roanoke, VA on the way to break up the trip and after a horrendous night in the hotel we were dreading spending 4 more nights together in the guest accommodations at my in-laws newly acquired home in the Cobbly Nob neighborhood. Graeme has become a good sleeper, but not with Ian yelling at regular intervals throughout the night. Once woken, Graeme doesn't not settle down easily which makes for a very unhappy mama and daddy. Driving around the windy mountain roads of Cobbly Nob at 3AM to get Graeme back to sleep (akin to what Steve did in Roanoke) was not going to work for us. So, when we arrived at the new mountain home and saw that there were actually TWO guest rooms (one doubling as an office with a futon) we were thrilled. That's where Ian and I are sleeping, I declared. My very hospitable MIL quickly made up the futon, complete with an extra set of fluffy pillows that I love.

It was a beautiful thing. I could rock and walk and cuss all night long without fear of waking Steve (and having him observe my poor nighttime parenting, not that he would EVER pass judgement). And, I could sleep past Graeme's unreasonable 6AM wake-up time without feeling guilty for ignoring his calls for "mom-eee." Steve could get a full night's sleep and feel refreshed for Graeme's early waking and calls that have sadly morphed into "dad-eee."

It worked so well that we decided to replicate it at home with Ian and I sleeping in our basement office/den/guest quarters. Ian still likes his midnight fussy time which I can handle much better while surfing the Internet or watching the Discovery Health Channel (I am so SICK of Jon and Kate, particularly Kate, plus 8, though). Steve isn't particularly fond of Graeme's early rising, but until he starts lactating he's on Graeme-duty. In the meantime, Ian and I are growing quite fond of our apartment.