Where’s the Sandman?

Sleep

On any given morning around 4 a.m. my eyes open and I know that my long lost friend sleep has abandoned me yet again. I used to lie dormant, praying to go back to sleep, tossing and turning trying to figure out how I was going to function the next day. Some time last year, I embraced these early morning wakeups as a time of peace and stillness. I don’t set my alarm clock but when I wake, I get up. I trek downstairs in the dark, make myself a big cup of hot tea and find something to work on for the next three hours. Since I now get up, I’ve put the anxiety of not sleeping to bed. It just doesn’t bother me. So I fall asleep just fine, just haven’t mastered staying sleep.

My husband is my polar opposite in the sleep department. He has trouble falling asleep. He’s a night owl and usually doesn’t shut his eyes until about 2 a.m. Unbeknown to us and unintentionally, we usually, silently pass each other in the night.

It’s one thing for the of us to walk around sleep deprived, but a few months ago sleep also left my baby girl’s bed. She has never been great at soothing herself to sleep and recently has struggled to stay sleep for more than four hours at a time. So we did what any loving parents would do. We panicked. I made a diary of everything she ate, in hopes of finding the culprit. We continued our nightly routine and incorporated toddler Tai Chi after bath before prayer. We scented her room with lavender oil. We dimmed the lights. We tried melatonin. We even tried letting her sleep with the dog although his snores quickly proved to be too much. I was really starting to stress over it. I was reading everything I could on how to help a toddler sleep. I made an appointment with her pediatrician. We even had a parent teacher conference with her teacher to report her sleep issues and check up on her school “attitude.”

But one early morning last week something happened. I got out of bed about 3:58 a.m and by 4:36 a.m. I had already cleaned the kitchen and was about to start writing and I heard a soft voice say “mommy” I replied with a quiet yes and she made her way down the steps in the dark. When she came in the kitchen I am sure she expected me say what I also say “go back to bed, your body needs to rest, lay there quietly and think happy thoughts until you fall back to sleep.”

Instead, I asked her what was wrong. “Mommy I can’t sleep. No matter how hard I try, I just can’t sleep” she said. So I gave her a hug and I told her I understand and that sometimes that happens to me too and I offered her some tea. She smiled and accepted.

As we sat on the couch cuddled up with a warm cup of chamomile, we didn’t talk much, the lights were out and we watched the sunrise through the blinds. I empathized with her struggle and thought about my own. And that’s when she said it. “Momma, this is the best time of my life. I will remember this forever. Just you and me watching the sun come up with a cup of tea.”

I couldn’t help but smile and hug her even tighter. And while my quest to help her get the rest I know she so desperately needs won’t stop I recognize that at 5 years old she cherishes moments with me, even the sleepy ones and for now….that’s enough.

 

 

 

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It’s all in a Name

A little over a year ago we bought the children goldfish for their rooms. Morgan chose two, because she was the oldest. She named them Belle and Bo and decorated her fish tank with a rainbow and hot pink stones. As suspected, they didn’t live long because she insisted on feeding them herself. I suspect a little too much feeding contributed to their demise. We had a short Cosby like funeral by the porcelain throne and kept it moving. Garrett chose the smallest of the three fish and wasn’t phased at all by having just one. In fact, I think he preferred it. He chose a Hulk figurine for his tank and to no surprise he named his fish “Hulk”. Now, I must say I have questioned our decision to buy these fish many a days, because it really became just an extra chore for me. Garrett is too young to do anything but admire him and say “that’s my fish” so the feeding and cleaning of the tank was added to my already lengthy mommy list. Some days I remembered him, and some days I didn’t. But Hulk is resilient and never had any issues. That is until last Friday.

It’s rare for me to be the last one out of bed in this house, but I was wiped out and clearly my husband knew it. So I woke to the sound of the children dressing themselves and preparing to wash their faces in their bathroom. Before my feet could touch the floor my husband whispers “R.I.P. F.I.S.H” okay so I must admit it took me a minute to comprehend the spelling game. But around here, that’s how the parents communicate. It’s like our pig Latin. So, I nonchalantly asked what happened. He whispers that Hulk jumped out of his tank and he found him lifeless on the floor of our son’s room when he went to wake him for the day. To protect Garrett from any trauma he did what any parent would do. He took the wet overnight diaper he had removed from our son and scooped up Hulk and put him in the toilet before the children could see. I can’t help but chuckle at his quick thinking and keep to myself that I may have added a little too much water to the tank the night before.

After letting me in on the parent secret for the day, he tries to beat the children in the bathroom to flush Hulk before they can see him. Only thing is HULK is moving ever so gently at the bottom of the toilet bowl. My husband isn’t sure about what he just witnessed and decides I need to come confirm. By this time, the cat is definitely out of the bag or in the case the fish and the children know that the fish is in the toilet. By the time I make it to the bathroom HULK is definitely alive and actually looks quite comfortable. “He’s alive, he’s alive,” Morgan jumps and yells. At this point both adults know we have to try to save this fish or we would clearly miss out on the parent of the year awards and forever be the parents that killed HULK.

I run downstairs to get the net and we find Morgan’s empty tank and fill it halfway with water. When I return both children and daddy are surrounding the toilet watching in amazement as HULK gains more and more strength and settles in to the bottom of the toilet. Both children are cheering and I’m laughing because this is hilarious and all the noise is not helping HULK feel safe enough to move out of the crevice at the bottom of the toilet bowl. In fact, he backs up and we can barely see him.

I then usher the children out of the bathroom and my husband asked us to bring the fish food. Morgan delivers the fish food and waits in the hallway. Daddy sprinkles the fish food in the toilet and within seconds this fish that was once lifeless has been scooped up and put back into his tank that now has a little less water in it than the night before.

The children erupt with cheers for daddy. They are jumping up and down and clapping and yelling that HULK is alive, he’s alive. “You’re the best daddy in the world,” Morgan says. As the best daddy award was being delivered, Hulk was now getting reacquainted with his home. My husband looks at me and says “there is no way he will be alive when they get back from school” and I nod is agreement. We were both wrong. HULK is alive and well, in fact he acts as though the whole incident is behind him and I can’t help but think that he has in fact lived up to his name.

HULK

Potty Time

Garrett

If it doesn’t make money, it doesn’t make sense or something like that. Well, if that is true I don’t make sense a lot. I never started this blog with the intention of endorsing products or giving advice. Rarely will you hear me provide a “must have” list. And although I won’t get a dime I have got to share with you our family’s newest secret weapon. It’s called the potty watch and I tell you, it’s one of those inventions that you sit back and say….”why didn’t I think of that.”

The potty watch is a miniature timekeeper for toddler wrists, shaped like a potty that counts down pee time and alarms the child with cute little tunes when it’s time to go. If you are toilet training, it’s the best $9.99 you will ever spend. When you think about it, it’s an investment that will save you hundreds of dollars in pull-ups.

Don’t buy it on Amazon; theirs was defective. My husband got ours at Babies R’ Us. Now, he’s a gadget guy and I must say I didn’t have the same enthusiasm he had in his new purchase, until I an entire week went by without any accidents. My son is 32 months…okay, he’s 2 and a half and he has had quite a few successful potty training moments, but I wouldn’t have said he’s potty trained. That is, until the potty watch. In fact, I had just about given up on the idea and thought I’d try again when he turns three. After all, he’s a boy right? No rush. Well, I’ll tell you the rush. A box of pull-ups closes in on $50, you heard me right, $50 bucks. That’s a lot of money to piss away.

Secondly, I was growing increasingly irritated by him chasing me down in the house with a wet diaper in hand that he wanted changed. What nerve. A few minutes late and dollars short, I’d say. Lastly, did I mention a box of pull-ups is close to $50 bucks? It was definitely time to push this milestone along a little bit.

So why does it work? First, he thinks he’s grown up cause he has a “special” watch just for him. Then, it serves as a reminder to go and we make him go each time. Ours is set on every 60 minutes, the maximum setting and it’s amazing that his little bladder has yet to fail its mission. I mean a busy toddler has way too much to think about to remember to go to the bathroom. Plus, it reminds me to tell him to go handle his business.

Now, no product is perfect and you can’t have but so many expectations for $9.99. So don’t expect the toddler watch to keep time, it doesn’t. It’s just a stopwatch. It lets him know how many minutes or seconds until his next potty visit. And don’t expect it to shut off at nap time or bedtime, cause it doesn’t. That means we strategically place it downstairs so it doesn’t wake us up during the night, because the toddler tunes just don’t stop. Yes, that’s a little irritating and I can’t say that I have figured out how to wean the use of the potty watch. I’m just not there yet. I mean will he be in 1st grade with a must have watch that sings London Bridges every hour? I hope not. But for now, we are a full week in with just one accident and dry pull-ups when he wakes up and I’d consider that $9.99 well spent.photo 2

Gymnastics wins too

gymnasticsII

After almost three years in ballet, I was just getting in the groove of being a dancer mom and now she wants to throw me a curve ball. Okay so not exactly softball yet, but my soon to be 5 year old begged and begged to try gymnastics. The more she begged the more I suggested she make a choice, mommy’s schedule and state of mind just can’t handle too many extracurricular activities. “But mommy how can I choose when I’ve never taken gymnastics?”

So she won that round, can’t really argue with that type of logic and I decided to try a mini course with Parks and Recreation to test the waters. My first mistake was thinking classes were once per week, I thought it was just Mondays, but I stopped reading too soon because classes were actually Mondays AND Wednesdays and ballet on Tuesdays. Yikes….

But I kept telling myself, it was only for a few weeks and we would make a decision at the end of the cycle. So we trudged along. Perhaps I missed the clues at the end of the first class when another mom politely asked if she had taken private lessons, “she’s good,” she said, to which I simply replied “thank you.”

In true Morgan fashion, she showed up and showed out in every class. She loved it, she learned quick and practiced at home. To my chagrin, she even showed her 2-year-old brother how to do a front roll. Is that even the right term?

After two and half months it was finally time for the last class. I can’t say I was sad to see it leave the weekly schedule, but I was surprised at how much she enjoyed it, and frankly how much she learned in such a short period of time. She was excited because the last class meant mommy got to stay and watch. Yay…(total sarcasm), no quick stop to the post office or the grocery store for me.

But my nonchalant attitude quickly subsided as soon as she stepped on the balance beam. She was focused, poised, and happy and I was proud. She followed instructions and paid attention. Before long, I was pulling out my iPhone taking pictures and short videos to show daddy at dinner. When she finished her instructors gave her a hug and then asked the all so important question “is Morgan going to join us for the next cycle?” “There’s another class” Morgan asked? “Oh, can I mommy, please, please, please?”

And then I said it….”we’ll see.” To her, that meant yes and she skipped all the way back to the car as if she knew something that I don’t. I mean, what’s a poor momma to do? Three days a week with extracurricular activities is a bit much and I am sure her brother will join the calendar intrusion by summer’s end. All I can say is…. “Ain’t nobody got time for that.” See ya’ll at gymnastics in the Spring.

gymnastics

Smell the Flowers, Blow Out the Candle

Happy Day

In the hustle and bustle of this thing called life we get caught up. Sometimes we get caught up doing and forget to just be, live and enjoy the moment. The last few weeks have been a blur to me. I have been working hard to build a business. That means late nights, early mornings and more travel than I anticipated. Luckily, I have an awesome support system and children that will tell me if I am slipping. The other day I picked up my soon to be 5 year-old from school and was busy reading emails as she entered the car. When she got in, she followed, the routine, she strapped herself in, I listened for the click and she started to tell me about her day. But during her story, I checked out. I was trying to respond to a time sensitive matter I had just read in an email. And that’s when I heard it “mommy, I’m trying to talk to you. If I say it’s about a book will you listen?” Ouch, now for those new to the blog, I am a Publisher so books mean a whole lot. But books are not my everything, not even close and here was my daughter exclaiming that I would certainly listen if it had to do with books. Can you say reality check?

That was on a Tuesday, and I was supposed to leave for the third weekend in a row that Friday to go sell books. I never made it, I stayed home with my family and I have no regrets. Now I also have to mention that prior to my daughter’s sharp words my husband had also strongly recommended I slow down. I mean our lives were spiraling out of control, our schedules were conflicting, my house was a mess, my babies were eating way too much take out, I hadn’t been to the gym and the list was growing by the second of things I never wanted to happen while chasing something I felt I needed. And since, I would never talk about you, I will talk about me.

When my husband mentioned his concerns to me I cried. I cried because it all seemed just too much to bear, too many bags to carry through the airport of life. I felt tired just thinking about doing all that needed to be done. I felt defeated. I felt like in winning a business, I was actually losing a family structure I worked hard to create. I felt like I had let down those that meant the most. So when my toddler felt the need to sas me, I was reminded of my priorities and it’s at that moment I knew I needed to stop and smell the flowers and blow out the candle. In other words…breathe.

So I canceled everything on my ever so hectic schedule for Saturday and Sunday and began getting my life back. That meant meditation, organization, prayer and good old family time. We all slept in on Sunday and the weather was great so after breakfast our family went to the park; our now toddler babies rode their bikes and I walked briskly behind them. My husband brought out a t-ball set and we introduced the game and played with our babies until everyone was tired.

I know it seems simple right? It was and it was also necessary. I am proud of my accomplishments in business, but I am more proud of my family. Team Taylor is my priority and my children and husband miss me when I am not there. So, I am grateful for new days serving as new beginnings. I am grateful for allowing my family to check me when I am out of sorts and I am ever so grateful that I listened. Ya’ll know I don’t like to give advice so I will just make a suggestion; stop, smell the flowers and blow out the candle….in other words, just breathe. Live, laugh, and be.

photo 4 Lady M

 

Table for Four

 

Family Eating Lunch Together

For a number of reasons, but mostly ease our children transitioned from high chair to a toddler table smack dab in the middle of the living room in front the television. Since I would never talk about you, I will talk about me. I relished in the idea of being able to eat while my food was somewhat hot. They are learning independence I told myself. They are learning to feed themselves. They are learning how to share their space. I said a whole bunch of things to make it seem right to have them strategically placed in front the boob tube a synonym for idiot box.

Well the older they got the less likely they became to actually sit down and eat their food. Grazers I called them, after prayer they would take a bite, run a little; take a bite and play a little. Dinner became an all night affair and I was frustrated as I watched my hot home cooked meals turn to ice waiting for the mood to hit them to eat. Usually their plates were still full at bath time and bedtime snacks became their dinner.

So a change had to come and it came in the most traditional of senses…it’s amazing what eating at a dinner table did for our family. Okay so I admit that my kitchen table had become a catchall. It caught all the dirty dishes that didn’t make it to the sink. It caught all the coats, all the mail, all the keys…everything but a dinner setting.

Day 1 went something like this:

 “Why we have to eat in here,” Morgan said. “What about my show, I can’t see the T.V.”  We laughed and announced that from now on we were eating at the table for dinner. We explained that it’s important for us to talk to each other and to let our food digest by eating slowly. We followed up with reminders about table manners and having to ask to be excused from the table. And our children looked at us like we had lost our mind.

By the end of the week the conversation went like this:

“I like eating at the table,” Morgan said. “How come?” I asked. “Because we get to talk about each other’s day and tell stories,” she said. “So what do you want to talk about tonight,” her dad asked? “I want you to tell me a story she said. After a short pause my husband said “I have a true story to tell you about someone special that died this week, his name is Nelson Mandela.”

After a five-minute brief explanation of apartheid and Mandela’s life, my daughter interrupted and said “so he was like Martin Luther King.” Not a bad analogy for a 4-year-old hearing about Mandela for the first time. So we explained the differences and moved on to the next conversation, which happened to be about dessert. But I was happy, I was pleased that eating at the kitchen table encouraged our family. It helped us initiate conversation. It helped our children focus on eating and family time instead of looking for the next instant gratification through song, color and images on the “boob” tube.  Welcome, welcome, welcome to the dinner table.

Taylor 2013