Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Update on Us, and Some Random Schtuff

I wrote a while ago about our family's struggle with Noah's sleeping habits. I am glad to report to you that things are so much better now. Noah wasn't one of those kids who started falling asleep on his own after one night of just 15 minutes of crying or anything (!), but after a couple of weeks, he's sleeping through the night. We were interrupted by a cold that, naturally, changed the game plan for a time.

I will never take a good night's sleep for granted again.

Naps are a different story. I haven't been successful in getting Noah to sleep in his crib for a nap. Still something to work on.

We also found out yesterday that Noah has a condition that I had called strabismus, in which the eye turns in toward the nose. His is slight. I wore glasses because of this condition from the time I was two until I was 12, when I had surgery to straighten my eye. We have basically the same options for Noah that I had. We have to cover his right eye with a patch for four hours a day (for six weeks, then we'll reevaluate) so that his left eye's cells can develop properly. Anyone want to try to help me keep an eye patch on a 15 month old boy? ...Hello?

In other news, today is Free Cone Day at Ben & Jerry's. Heck YEAH! If you're in the area, I highly recommend the Ben & Jerry's in Santa Barbara. I'll be going to the one here, of course. But that one is purdy.

I also wouldn't want anyone to miss the discussion here at Angela's blog (I've known Angela "in real life" for, gosh, over ten years). I love Angela's honesty and openness about her life and her family's decisionmaking--it seems that most Christian couples are struggling with different decisions (schooling, family culture, time together, etc.) because there are just more choices for us than there have been throughout human history. Period. We just have more to sift through and reconcile with our beliefs than most parents have ever had to even contemplate.

My brain wants to explode just thinking about it. I need ice cream.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

PSA. People, we've got to get together on this.

Please, please, please. For the love of Pete.

To all those sweet folk out there who believe whatever happens to land in their inbox:

  1. If the message is preceded by Fwd: Fwd: Fwd:, it is probably not true. Just believing me on that one will save you countless hours and a lot of dignity.
  2. If the claim sounds totally wild and you haven't heard it from any reputable news source yet, it's probably false. For instance, trying on bras in a store will not make you catch some horrible flesh-eating disease. I kid you not.
  3. If you aren't sure, check Snopes.com. There's a search field, and you can enter a couple of terms that will likely turn up your particular urban legend/horror story/political newsflash. You know, like "pigeon," "Coke," and "explode."
I am on this particular soapbox tonight because I received this forwarded message in my inbox tonight, warning me NOT TO ACCEPT THE NEW DOLLAR COIN!

A family member who is not a Christian wrote me soon afterward (having received the same message) and asked what I thought about it. He referred to Jesus driving out the moneychangers in the Temple and wondered how the sentiments expressed in the e-mail compared to Jesus' actions. (Yes, that is a very cool conversation. At least that came out of it. But what if he had just assumed all Christians feel the same way as the sender?)

Here's my reply to him, in part:

For me this falls solidly into the "give me a break" category, for a number of reasons.

First and foremost, like 99.98% of forwards, it's not true: http://www.snopes.com/politics/religion/dollarcoin.asp

I wish that the Fwd:Fwd:Fwd: LIES!!! CONSPIRACY!!! Brigade would check Snopes. Even once in a while. It would cut down a lot on my spam.

Anyway, even if it were true, I don't see why any uproar is needed or why a Christian would need to refuse the coins. I think people get all torqued up about stuff like this that totally doesn't matter, and they miss the really big stuff. Yes, Jesus threw the moneychangers out of the temple. Historically, commentators have felt that He was protesting (in an authoritative way) the corruption and abuse that had emerged when people started buying and selling in the Temple court itself the necessary items (as in, required by Biblical law) for sacrifice. The way they were doing it, and where they were doing it, made the holy Temple a "den of thieves."

Your question actually made me think of a time when Jesus was directly asked about money, in the context of paying taxes. In that political climate, religious Jews (here, the Pharisees) generally would have not liked a pro-Roman answer, but to answer against Rome, especially in the presence of government lackeys (Herodians), would be treason, and the people asking Jesus this question knew that. Check out what He says when they try to entrap him verbally:
Then the Pharisees went out and laid plans to trap him in his words. They sent their disciples to him along with the Herodians. "Teacher," they said, "we know you are a man of integrity and that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. You aren't swayed by men, because you pay no attention to who they are. Tell us then, what is your opinion? Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?" But Jesus, knowing their evil intent, said, "You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the coin used for paying the tax." They brought him a denarius, and he asked them, "Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?" "Caesar's," they replied. Then he said to them, "Give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's." When they heard this, they were amazed. So they left him and went away.
I love how He shuts them up!

What this says to me is that there is, as you say, a division between things monetary and the things of God, so to speak. I'd put it this way: God isn't a part of this world's system. He's not really worried, I think, about whether the USA has "In God We Trust" on its money, because saying it don't make it so. It doesn't make us a "Christian nation" to have that saying on our money. It may at one time have been a statement of collective values--or it may have been a political feel-good bone thrown to the people from its inception. I don't know. And thanks to Snopes, I don't have to care (ha!).
This is the kind of stuff that makes people think Christians are not very smart. That probably doesn't sound nice, but dang, people. We have got to start doing some due diligence on these things.

If I get another Madelyn Murray O'Hair forward, I will pound my desk so loudly that it will affect the San Andreas Fault. Don't test me on that one.

Friday, April 11, 2008

tee vee

Sometime in the first few months after Noah was born, we got cable TV. I mostly blame the fact that as a new parent, you're in a stupor all the time; you can't muster the brain cells for reading much, but you can't stare at a blank wall either. Okay, I read a lot of magazines. But anyway. Being a new (and breastfeeding) mother is kind of like being sick: you are in repose on the couch a lot of the time.

As many of you know, except for a short, maybe two-month stint, my husband and I hadn't had television for six years, so it's been...something that will take a whole post to sum up.

"Let me explain. No. There is too much. Let me sum up."

There are things about having television that I really like, I have to admit. I liked being warned about the huge twisters heading for my county a couple of weeks ago. I liked watching the weatherman show me just how high into the atmosphere the hailstorm extended at that very moment. I wanted to know exactly when to hasten to my basement stairs.

I like many, many reality shows. Not The Bachelor or Rock of Love. I love competition shows like Top Chef; I love watching Mike Rowe slog through rhinoceros poo on Dirty Jobs; I love finding out whether milk is the best way to cure a burning tongue on Mythbusters. I wish Stacy and Clinton were waiting around the corner for me with $5000. (I need it. But that's another post.) Basically, I subsist on a steady diet of TLC, Discovery, Bravo and...yeah, that's it. An occasional foray into Rick Steves' Europe or some such.

I went from "No, I haven't seen that. We don't have TV" to "Can you believe that Michael Johns was kicked off this week? I thought that Kristy Lee Cook would go for sure!" Weird.

It's a conflict, though, in my heart. I am constantly flummoxed by the things that are permitted on TV now. Nothing's really taboo, unless you consider the fact that Cinemax actually waits until fairly late at night to show the "adult" programming to be some kind of major boundary.

I don't want Noah growing up with this stuff as part of his life, which probably speaks volumes about its being in mine. I enjoy a lot of shows, but most of the ones I really like have bleeps throughout the broadcast. Do I really want to be explaining that to Noah anytime soon? Do I want to keep those shows for when he's asleep or something? I don't think that ultimately my enjoyment of the television will win out over my misgivings.

The other side of the coin: what kind of life do we envision? Are we going to be a no-TV family? There's a certain amount of estrangement from others that seems to happen when you can't converse about pop culture from a viewer's standpoint.

I am not trying to condemn any family's decisions. No way--not my place. We watch plenty of things that I just haven't had to decide what to do about yet. Once upon a time, I had all the answers for these things, but now I don't.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

It's a process...right?

I've changed so much since Noah was born. Some of it has been wonderful, the natural amendments that come with motherhood--but some of it has been a real surprise.

I guess I thought I had everything figured out. Not in an arrogant way, just in a I've-thought-this-out-and-can-back-it-up way.

Now I realize that I have darn near nothing figured out. There are a few things that are constant, that I know are true (like the resurrection of Jesus, or like my assurance that God is who He says He is). But a LOT of other stuff that I was confident about, I am not now.

It's hard to articulate what made that difference. My life circumstances have changed, for one. I am looking for work--and I never thought I'd work after I had a child. It's an assumption I had for as long as I can remember. My mother stayed home with me, I enjoyed and admired that, and I assumed that I would do the same. My beliefs accompanied that assumption beautifully.

I've come to see, though, that in life there's the Ideal (what you would like if you could dictate all circumstances) and there's the Real (what you've got). I assumed that the Ideal is just naturally what would occur, even though life experience had already given me a heads-up that's not the case. I'm too romantic, generally speaking.

I am wincing, afraid this will sound bitter. I hope it doesn't. It's where I honestly am. I think that I was naive before, and now...I don't know what I am. But if I am going to muck through it here, which I'd like to do, I've got to be honest. I feel so different in some ways from the person who wrote all the old posts that I almost wanted to start a new blog, but that feels like I'd be running away from myself. Running probably isn't the solution.

I am not disavowing all the old posts. But I can't say that all of them reflect who I am now. I've revealed my deepest thoughts and beliefs here before, so if you are still reading, you deserve to know that.

You know one thing I really love about blogging, though? The freedom. You can write about God, or food, or music, or the Presidential race, and it's okay. So that's what I am going to do. I also love that it's okay to change. That's what humans do. And if my blog is personal, which it's always been, then it's going to reflect the changes I go through. (Probably stating the obvious there, but it's helping me.)

All this blather, and I'll probably write a dang post about laundry or sushi next.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Thought I'd Dropped Off the Planet's Face?

Still here. Still breathing.

I really have missed this.

I'm in the middle of one of the toughest parts of parenting yet (and, of course, a controversial part, wouldn't you know it?): sleep training. Are you up for my saga? I promise to give you the Reader's Digest version.

The easiest thing to do with a newborn, in my not-vast experience, is nurse him to sleep. It was a no-brainer. Mom is totally exhausted; nursing lulls baby to sleep like a charm; baby sleeps for infinitesimal amount of time; Mom is thankful for this snippet of slumber. Plus, baby needs to eat and all that, so the waking up and feeding stuff is necessary for a nursing mother who is unable to pump.

Then the baby starts getting older. Like, say, 14 months old.

In short, over the past several months I have found myself with a growing sleep dilemma that matches my burgeoning sleep debt. Noah wakes up in the middle of the night, like a newborn (read: a bunch of times), and I dutifully rush to his side and nurse him back to sleep. At first, and for a long time, I blamed the wakings on teething. Noah got eight teeth before turning 1, and they were hard on him. Some people suggested letting him cry, but I didn't feel like I could handle it emotionally.

Then a couple of things happened.

I read Weissbluth's Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child about the same time that I hit an emotional and physical wall. I was completely, utterly exhausted from 14 months of fragmented sleep. Ryan and I had a friend over for lunch, and in the middle of preparing it, I started crying. I could not control myself because I was so dern tired.

It dawned on me that
A) it's not supposed to be like this. How would anyone get anything done, have more kids, or even have a surviving marriage?

B) I am not doing Noah any favors by encouraging and aiding his fragmented sleep. I've helped create a situation where he is unable to fall asleep without my assistance.


I looked at my options (Weissbluth presents several alternatives, and I read about a few others, too) and considered Noah's personality. He's bright, fun, social, playful...and extremely (EXTREMELY) tenacious. The boy knows what he wants and will fight hard for it.

We'll see how he does with the method I chose: hard-core extinction. Extinction means that we let him cry some. Yeah, it stinks. But according to theory and anecdote, it stinks short-term. At this point, I want the most effective and rapid solution, and this is supposed to be it. Noah has to start to understand that Mommy can't come every five seconds overnight. He has to learn to soothe himself back to sleep, just like every human does several times a night.

I realized we'd have to bite a bullet now or leave a much older Noah to address a sleep disorder. No thanks. I kept waiting for the problem to disappear, but instead, it was getting worse. I have to help Noah, and myself, right now.

I can't wait for this short, intense period to be over, though.

But let's look at a positive aspect: I've recovered some time to blog. And do dishes, and laundry, and pay bills, and post trillions of pictures on Snapfish.