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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Sleeping in her own bed

Tonight as I was trying to sneak out of Astrid's bedroom she said to me, "Goodnight Mom. I'll see you in the morning. Can you turn the light off?"

Oh my gosh, my daughter is a big girl now!

When she was born both U. and I agreed that we didn't want a baby sleeping with us in our bed. We'd heard horror stories from friends and didn't want that for ourselves.

We setup a routine as soon as we could and Astrid slept in her crib and then her own bed. Then over a year ago things changed. Astrid traveled with U. to Germany to see his dying mother and pay his last respects. She died not too long after that. Astrid had night terrors after that and was traumatized by the experience. She continued to have night terrors when she got home, so we let her sleep in our bed. That setup a bad habit. It was easier to let her sleep in our bed then it was to go through a whole ordeal and lots of tears and tantrums to get her to sleep in her own bed. We thought she would go back to sleeping in her bed, but realized unless we went back to the routine it would never happen.

So we started with baby steps, Astrid had to go to sleep in her own bed, and she could come into ours if she woke up in the night. We got her a dream catcher, and hung it in her bedroom window to help catch the bad dreams in the webbing, so no bad dreams to get through and they'd melt away with the morning sun. That helped a little. Until she had bad dreams again and told me the dream catcher didn't work. Then she would sleep and come into our bed in the morning. Whenever she would protest that she couldn't sleep all by herself, I reminded her that she did when she was a baby and she could as a big girl.

Friends of ours with a kid around the same age have the same issue. Their take on it is that their kid won't be little forever, and will one day not want to be so close to them, so they permit it.

It can be very sweet to sleep with your kid. They're warm & snuggly and there's so much love and tenderness there. To watch Astrid sleep takes my breath away sometimes, she looks so sweet an innocent, a little angel. But the reality is it never gave U. and I time to ourselves in the evenings, and one of us would end up on the couch when Astrid would crawl into our bed, because there wasn't enough room for all 3 of us to be comfortable. After a year of that things had to change back to the way we tried to hard to get to - her sleeping in her own bed.

In the process, she would cry like a banshee every time she heard me try to sneak out after she'd just fallen asleep - after hours of trying to get her to sleep with reading, songs, back rubs, her sleep sheep playing the song of rain. She'd cry out, "Don't leave!" I was getting frustrated, and more times than I'd like to admit I fell asleep in her bed - being exhausted and waiting for the moment when she would fall asleep - I'd put myself to sleep.

The past couple days she has slept through the night again in her own bed. I've tried to make her bed the most comfortable, cozy place on earth with a new blanket and pillow, and U. put up the canopy again that makes it like a kid cave. (We took it off in the summer when it got too hot, but now it's Fall and nights are cooler.) Recently my mom bought her a winter blanket that is pink and super soft, with a matching super soft, pink pillowcase. She crawled into bed and had no qualms about going to sleep tonight.

We're also reading "The Wizard of Oz". The book has great illustrations and it's long so I read pages to her each night, and we continue where we left off each night. She saw the movie with her nanny so she knows the story, which captivates her imagination.

And I sing to her which I've done since she was a newborn.

Keeping my fingers crossed that this sticks - so U. & I can get a good night's sleep and hope the little one does too in her own bed.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Great Idea

At this age Astrid is able to tell me what she's thinking about, and she loves to share her great ideas with me like this one:

Astrid was telling me she had a great idea. That she could write a letter to Santa Claus this year.

"That's a great idea I thinked about in my brain," she said.

I made a pact with Astrid

Astrid REALLY wants a baby brother or baby sister. I mean BADLY. She is so baby crazy. Just about everyday she asks me if I'm going to have one for her. So finally I sat her down and was like look here's the deal-

How can I have another baby if you act like a baby? Then I'll have two babies to take care of, and Mommy can't take care of two babies at once. I can only have another baby if you act like a big girl. You have to listen to mommy. No more temper tantrums.

Astrid responded, "Okay! Okay! I will mom! I promise!"

She'll do anything to get a baby. And she knows that in order to grease the wheel to get me to agree to have another child would be a major accomplishment - as I am definitely NOT baby crazy. I am perfectly happy with one child.

Now whenever Astrid acts up all I have to say is one of two things:
"I thought you wanted a brother or sister?" or "Are you acting like a baby or a big girl?"
Immediately she'll change her tune - smile and say, "Oh I forgot. Okay. Sorry I'll be good."

So lately my demands have been ramping up.
"You have to go to bed at night without any tears," I said tonight. "I can't have another baby if you cry every time I put you to bed. Then I'll have the little baby crying & you crying - and I can't handle two babies crying at the same time."

"No more crying when I brush your teeth Astrid. You're a big girl now."

Both those comments were followed by a smile and twinkle in her eye at knowing if she acts like a big girl she will get her baby. That's the pact we made.

Tonight she wanted me to get her string cheese from the fridge after dinner, and I said I would, but she had to wait since I was cleaning the dishes.

"Look mom. I'm being good. Can you give me a baby now?" she said.

Oh and I'm afraid she may have inherited my ability to negotiate because now she is demanding a baby brother AND a baby sister.

So we'll see how this goes.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Only Mama & Papa

Astrid had a urinary tract infection earlier this year that cleared up nicely with antibiotics. But then a month later she had some similar symptoms - fever, nausea, and she was telling me that it hurt when she went pee. So I immediately took her to see the Pediatrician again. The tests came back negative, but the doctor wanted to examine Astrid.

That is when all hell broke lose. Astrid did NOT want to let the doctor examine her private area. She would not sit on the table. She would not let me pull her underwear down. No siree.

The peeing in the cup was bad enough, but she was kicking & screaming & completely hysterical when she heard the doctor wanted to check her out down there.

When I asked her about it afterwards she said, "I didn't want her to. Only Mama & Papa can do that."

In the end we just made sure no more bubble baths, just water and soap and we have had no more problems. But it donned on me that Astrid is old enough to know what inappropriate is - even if it's a doctor. And to understand the difference between what trusted people are allowed to do and strangers. I shared this with U. and he said, "It's good that she knows the difference."

And with all the cases that have come to light of children being abducted - I have had kid discussions with Astrid about strangers. If a stranger asks her to come with them - to say no and run away & get an adult. If an adult asks her for help looking for their dog or to find something or help them with anything - don't go alone - find Mama & Papa first. Never go with a stranger, even if they have a kid with them. If you think she's too young at 4 1/2 to understand - think again. Her response to me was, "Do they take you and put you in a cage?"

I don't want to scare her, but I want to give her the tools to be able to see through a ruse and to have that in her head in case she's ever in that situation - to be prepared.

She also tells me when we're holding hands, crossing the street together, "Only cross the street with Mama & Papa. Never run out into the street by yourself." Exactly.

Just want my little one to be safe.

Friday, November 13, 2009


From the back seat of the car, Astrid explained to me that there were Tooth Fairies around Santa Claus.

I had no clue what she was talking about until I noticed she was staring at an Advent calendar that we bought from the German market, and there were creatures with wings around Santa. She kept asking me if they were tooth fairies, holding the Advent calendar up so I could see it in the rear view mirror.

I told her I thought they could be fairies or Christmas angels - but I didn't think they were tooth fairies. Then of course she argued with me that they were indeed tooth fairies.

Me: "Who lost a tooth?"
Astrid: "I don't know."
Me: "Isn't the tooth fairy supposed to come when a kid loses a baby tooth?"
Astrid: "Oh yeah."

Astrid: "I think they're angels."
Me: "Could be."
Astrid: "Just like me. I'm your little angel."
(So sweet. I do call her my little angel.)

Astrid: "But I don't have wings. And I can't fly."
Me: "You don't need to fly. You'll always be my little angel."
Astrid: "I know."

Family TV watching

I'm not a bit proponent of TV. I'd much rather Astrid be painting, or doing a puzzle, or playing - than watching the boob tube. In fact I did not allow her to watch any TV before the age of 2. Even though those Baby Einstein DVD's were all the rage. And even after we rationed & heavily censored the shows we did allow her to watch. We made sure they were educational shows like Sesame Street, more geared towards her age on PBS with no commercials.

But now as she's getting older (she's 4 1/2), for the first time we are allowing her watch 1 TV show with us that is not a kid's show or a cartoon made for pre-kinder children. That show happens to be Survivor. It's a reality TV game show, there's beautiful scenery/nature/wildlife, and there's just enough going on that keeps the little one interested.

We all cuddle up under a blanket on the couch on Thursday evenings and enjoy the show together as a family.

Astrid stays up later now. So long gone are the days she went to bed at 6:30 every night. Those were nice in that U. and I had time together after the baby was asleep. But the reality is now we don't even get home until 6:30 (from work/school). Then there's dinner to cook & eating dinner together. We want to be able to spend some time with her before she goes to bed and goes to school the next day, rather than rushing her off to bed.

U. and I are getting sick of watching kid shows & it's nice to be able to watch a show as a family. We can actually watch it live while it's playing on TV. Whenever one of us leaves the room to go to the bathroom or kitchen or wherever - the other family members shout out "It's on!" after commercials. Kind of fun.

Tonight's episode, one of the contestants killed a rat and they cooked it and ate it. So we had an interesting conversation with Astrid about why the girl did that - she was starving & it was food, etc. She told us, "No it's not! It's a mouse. It's cute." And she's right of course. At least she's old enough to question things and talk about it.

Funny thing is she must enjoy it too, because she'll ask for "the show with people" - Survivor during the week and we keep trying to explain to her that it's only on Thursday, just once a week. She keeps insisting we watch it everyday, not quite getting the concept of a weekly TV show.

Astrid is now 4 yrs, 6 months, 3 weeks & 4 days old

Where has the time gone?

I look at my little baby who is growing into a beautiful little girl. I remember when she was just born and how small and delicate she was. Now she has long, strong legs and it's no longer easy to hold her in my arms like a baby.

Tonight she fell asleep on the couch while I was holding her. U. & I argued over who should carry her to her room to put her to bed. U. claimed it wasn't good for his injured back. I argued I wouldn't be able to lift her up in her bunk bed. She was sound asleep so she was dead weight. In the end we compromised. U. picked her up off my lap to chest level, and I took her from there. She woke up a bit so she crawled right up into her bed. This is the same baby that U. used to hold in one hand while bottle feeding. Now look at us - 2 parents claiming our kid is going to break out back.

Last night as I was singing to Astrid at bedtime, she smiled at me as her eyelids got heavy. She looked so sweet and innocent, just like a doll. I stared at her face, taking in every detail, just like I did when she was a newborn. Marveling at what a beautiful creature she is. Blessed to be her mother. And forever thankful.