Yay for Christmas!

I wasn’t really in the mood for Christmas this year. However, I love spending time with family and friends. I just want it to be relaxed and stress-free.

I decorated a little (hey, at least the tree is up!) and Christmas-shopped (on the 23rd, with my 15-mo-old in tow, but it got done and Beanie was EXTREMELY well-behaved). I did a little baking, even after swearing off sugar, gluten, and dairy (which only lasted a day or two, but my stomach is happier for it, and Beanie has been sleeping through the night, so objective accomplished). We had our choir concert (despite a few hiccups, it went splendidly), family dinners (remarkably low-drama on both sides), church service (but my husband and I had nursery duty, and the power went out, so we didn’t get to participate), and Christmas morning with the kids today (the day after Christmas). It was a great weekend!

But it didn’t really feel like Christmas! I think the weather had a lot to do with it. It doesn’t feel like winter, and Christmas is supposed to be kind of an escape from winter (at least, in my mind). Warmth, family, fun — all while the weather outside is “frightful”.

Another part of the problem is that I like to work up to Christmas with music, movies, more decorations, etc, and I felt kinda disconnected from it this year. I listened to music in the car, sure, but we weren’t in the car that often. I’m not bombarded with visual or aural media anymore, not having a central radio in the house or subscription to cable. I’m actually very glad for the lack of media bombardment, because I have gotten to a point where I strongly dislike most contemporary Christmas music, and Christmas ads on TV are overwhelming and the programming is often pretty shallow.

Then, for a couple weeks leading up to the last few days before Christmas, Beanie was waking every two to four hours with teething pain, gas bubbles, or a desire to be fed, and I was turning into a mindless zombie who could barely function enough to do laundry. He’s slept through the night for several nights now, so I have more or less gotten caught up on sleep (thank goodness!), but not in enough time to be fully prepared for the holidays.

Now that I’ve gotten all that out of my system . . . We had a great Christmas, really! I just feel like I was kind of sideswiped by it and am left wondering what happened. 🙂

It was fun to watch Pie open his gifts without help this year, and play with them! He appreciates books and toys more than he did last year. Beanie had fun, too, and it will be even more fun next year when HE is more aware of what a present is, and that it might contain something fun just for him.

I’ve lowered my expectations a lot over the past few years, especially since I started to struggle with the “true meaning of Christmas”, and what I wanted to teach my children about it. Even though we haven’t really made a solid decision or any real solid family traditions (other than dinner(s) and gift-opening time with the rest of the family, and my husband and I watching Black Adder Christmas Carol after the boys have gone to bed), I think we have done well by not emphasizing the presents quite as much to Pie. He was thrilled with what he got, but he didn’t run around asking for more, or saying, “Is that ALL?”. Granted, he did run around stealing other people’s gifts like they were his — especially Beanie’s — but Christmas isn’t (yet) ALL about the present-getting. I’m hoping we can do some crafts next year and emphasize the GIVING, because that always makes me feel more Christmasy — when I can make something I know someone will like, and see the smile on their face when they get it.

So here’s to a new year, wherein I promise to do so much better NEXT Christmas than I did this year. We’ll see how that goes. In the meantime, I won’t raise my expectations much, because it’s kind of relaxing when all I expect is good times with family and friends. 🙂

* * * *

I did have to do a little self-training in regards to my own “Christmas getting” attitude. I didn’t have a lot of presents to open that were just for me at any of the gift-opening activities we did, including our own little family’s — and I really do love opening presents. However, that was just due to a shipping snafu on my husband’s part, so I do have some surprises coming to me in the next few weeks. As much as I like presents ON Christmas, I also like presents AFTER Christmas, so it kind of works out well. 🙂 I also know he was thinking of me, and put a lot of time into what he ordered, so I’m not even going to drop hints to make him feel bad. But it is pretty funny. 😉

“This Is What Democracy Looks Like”

I’m going off the beaten path of mommy blogs and into the realm of politics to talk about someone else’s wayward children for a minute.

I kind of ignored the “Occupy” movement, except for the occasional news snippet here and there, because they have no discernible point to their escapades, except to get noticed and try to convince people that living in a tent in the middle of the city will crumble big business and bring the rich people to their knees. Also, they made me mad.

Like toddlers, they don’t have the emotional maturity to understand that their big, angry tantrum — or seemingly level-headed attempt to hold their breath until something happens — will not, in fact, result in rich people giving all their money away (or the government forcing them to) or big businesses closing their doors. Sure, it’s annoying. They’ll get some backlash from the people whose attention they want. But, inevitably, they will be ignored and left on the ground to finish their tantrum (or come to after passing out from lack of oxygen), and they will have to move on with their lives — because everyone else has.

Should their tantrum become violent enough, they will endure punishment that might hurt them in the short term. They may need to be escorted out of the public place to be dealt with elsewhere. They might have to be grounded for a while until they meet the terms of punishment (jail time, community service (hah!)).

There were some businesses in New York, in the epicenter of this whole fiasco, who had to close their doors to Occupy protesters — specifically, bathroom doors. Occupiers would use the restrooms and trash them, and small businesses — who had so far been kind in letting them use their facilities — could not afford to maintain such repairs, and the Occupy Wall Street movement was not about to offer the money to fix the damage. Instead, Occupiers threw hissy fits because someone was restricting what they believed they were entitled to. Disgusting!

And now, Occupiers in Seattle (and several other port cities) are impeding commerce (and keeping middle-class, blue-collar workers from earning their wages), because they don’t like . . . stuff. They don’t like people to have stuff! Buying stuff only makes other people rich, and IT’S NOT FAAAAAIIRRRRR! WAAAAAAH!!!

I was driving through Tacoma the other day, coming back from my husband’s battalion Christmas party, and I passed the little Occupy Tacoma encampment. There were a bunch of tents nestled behind some wrought iron fencing, probably in what used to be a little green area for university students and pedestrians. It almost looked like the whole thing was fenced in, but I couldn’t get a good look at it, since I was driving. There were signs all over the fencing, and one of them I wish I could have taken a picture of, because it was so incongruous with the backdrop of tents in the middle of an urban area, and my perception of reality. It said, in big, bold, black letters: “This Is What Democracy Looks Like”.

I immediately thought, “If this is what Democracy looks like to you, I don’t want to live there!” The Democracy I live in (which isn’t really, truly a Democracy, but a Representative Republic, or whatever) lets us live in a heated house purchased or rented with money we earned and saved (that we can give or keep at our discretion, except for that which the government borrows interest-free every year), buy our own food and clothing (that we can share, give, or keep at our discretion), and peacefully protest our government. It also lets us make as much money as we can through industry and service. It allows us to be individuals, with power over our own lives (ideally — that benefit seems to be shrinking as the Nanny State grows).

I’d really hate to experience their version of Communism! Besides, if the Occupy movement was really rallying to improve Democracy, they would have traveled to Washington D.C. like the Tea Party did last year. Only, they would have had more news coverage, because they would have stayed, gotten out of control, and would not have cleaned up after themselves.

Now, the Occupy Tacoma group is actually pretty well-behaved, as Occupy groups go. But I’m picking on them, because . . . it’s Tacoma. It’s not even a really nice part of Tacoma. They should have gone and camped out on the doorsteps of the fancy condos a few miles north, if they really wanted the rich people to notice them. But, I guess this encampment is conveniently close to a coffee shop, the Spaghetti Factory, The Rock Pizza and Brewery, the Tacoma branch of the University of Washington, a couple big hotels, and a couple of museums and a convention center. And the Port of Tacoma, which really doesn’t house any legislators or policy makers, unless you maybe possibly count the courthouse a few miles away. It’s possible they also want the attention of people coming and going on the junction of Highway 509, because that’s where I saw it for the first time.

I decided to look up the Occupy Tacoma movement, because I was curious about what their particular “goals and objectives” might be. Here is their website: occupytacoma.org, and their Facebook Page (featuring the American peace gesture, which I always thought was hilariously identical to the British flip-off).

So I perused their site a bit, and came across this: “Needed at Occupation Park”. There are so many laughable invalidations of their movement in that list, alone. Someone is going to have to go to a store and purchase those items, resulting in someone profiting from this movement. Hello, irony! And there are three brand-specific products asked for directly, and several products that will end up benefiting very large corporations, because those are not things that can be manufactured by small, local businesses. They’re even endorsing Big Oil with their need for plastic shelves, serving gloves, and propane, among other things! Several of the items are also not sustainable products, and probably made in other countries. They are advertising the exact opposite of what they’re protesting (and Occupy Seattle’s needs are even worse)!

I’m going to offer some advice (which is also applicable to much of the Green movement) that they probably didn’t think about, because they’re probably not in the habit of thinking (that would be too hard, yo): If you really want to impact big business, and you really want to send them a message and show the filthy rich that people are capable of living without material wealth, then move to the wilderness and start some communes. Then, obey every law of the county/state/country while living off the land and sharing everything equally among all members of the communes. Find and clean your own water sources, and create your own electricity, transportation, and internal economy — and, remember, everything plastic benefits Big Oil, so no plastics, natural gases, or charcoal filters, unless you mine it and refine it yourself (so you might want to recruit an engineer who has seen the error of his ways in getting a college education and trying to make some money in our bourgeoisie economy). Contribute nothing to the businesses you detest so much (not even to Big Pharma, which makes the vaccines and medicines that will keep communal diseases at bay!), and produce nothing that would bring you a profit, either, except in traded goods and services necessary for survival (as long as you accept nothing created by corporations, or even moderately-wealthy local businesses).

After you succeed at making self-sustaining communities that are truly self-sustaining, where everyone is equally wealthy (or not) and the community is unmarred by greed or corruption, THEN you go out into the urban areas and preach the joys and benefits of living for yourself — and the evils of big corporations and material wealth. But while you’re proselytizing and protesting, don’t buy anything or consume anything made by large corporations, try to live off the good graces of others, and don’t break any laws. Take your protests to the capitals, where (and when) the legislators meet. Be peaceful, and — for goodness sake — have a point!

Only then can you be taken seriously as a movement spearheaded by adult reason and non-contradictory messages. Or, more importantly, you’ll learn that equal wealth for unequal productivity is more unfair than the “fairness” you used to believe in.

Besides, without all those basic survival skills — or no one with the time and resources to take care of you — should our economy collapse and become the moneyless “equality” that this movement wishes it to be, you will be the first to self destruct and eat each other.

(I was going to try to review an article taking up a tab on my browser for days now, but I’ll have to make that Part 2 of this topic, and write when I’m not dealing with actual children at the same time.)

EXTRA, EXTRA! I was invited to contribute to Unified Patriots, so I will post future political posts there, and link back to them here. Here is this post there. Thanks for reading! 🙂

I Miss Sleep

It’s probably the biggest complaint of any parent with small children: “I’m so tired!” If the small children are newly-born, sleep-regressing, or teething, it kind of catapults into: “I’m so freaking tired, I want to curl up in a ball and hide from life for the next decade.”

Yeah, you know what I mean. Just an FYI, I can’t guarantee the coherency of this post. Bear with me while I vent ramble blubber vent.

My cute little baby — sweet little Beanie — has been running a three-digit fever for the past few days. I suspect it’s from teething, but we’re quarantining, nonetheless, in case it’s something else. No other symptoms but the little spikes under his gums, mild stomach upset from gas, and inability to sleep through the night without significant help from Tylenol are presenting themselves.

But, let me tell you, I sure have plenty of bodily complaints to add to his list! My left elbow and wrist will never be the same, from hours of holding an arching, kicking, thirteen-pound infant and bouncing to get the gas bubbles out. My left foot is feeling the pressure of that extra 13-ish pounds. I get upper-back spasms and tight lower back, despite weekly-ish visits to a chiropractor. I’m irritable and seriously lack patience, because being awake from two AM to four-thirty AM every other night seriously messes with my already dwindling energy levels and brain function. ** TMI: Also, sore boobs, from trying to nurse a teething infant whose latch changes daily, and whose jaws clamp shut when he falls asleep. *wince* **

And the screaming . . . Not my screaming, mind you. The screaming at three AM, when I’m pretty sure he’s almost asleep enough to detach him (see “TMI” above) and put him to bed, but he wakes and arches and I have to start all over again for the fifth time — bouncing, walking, nursing, etc. Then, almost like clockwork, he passes out just about four AM, but I have to wait an extra ten minutes or so to make sure it’s FOR REAL this time.

I know there are countless parents out there who deal with this. I’m just complaining because, y’know, sometimes ya just gotta vent or you’ll explode. I don’t cry — I’m not a crier. I get frustrated and angry. I resent it about myself, then get depressed. If I don’t vent once in a while, I just bottle it up and carry it around with me. It causes anxiety and more depression — ’cause, seriously, why can’t I cope? Parents deal with this stuff all the time! Parents did it for generations before parenting books came out! Grr!

For reasons that really only make me look lazy and incompetent, Beanie is still in our bedroom. We have two bedrooms in this house, and, eventually, the boys will share one. For now, I LIKE that I can separate them for simultaneous nap and quiet time. Beanie goes to his bed in our room, and Pie has his whole room to play in for a couple hours. The two activities don’t always coincide, but when they do, you get a blog post! Hooray! Or I can choose from literally hundreds of activities of my own that will be put off to do the dishes or websurf. I’d nap, except I’m afraid I’d just be more tired later, when the nap turned out too short to make up for hours lost during the night.

Oops, rambling again. ANYway, Beanie is also a light sleeper. If Pie wakes up in the night (which isn’t often), Beanie is apt to wake up, too. And be LOUD about it. And insistent. (Maybe he’s a bit spoiled to nursing in the middle of the night, but he’s also still not eating solid food (and has been off the formula train lately), so I kind of have to feed him every time he asks.) And our house ECHOES like you wouldn’t believe, so to let him cry it out in OUR bedroom means neither me nor my husband sleeps, and my husband gets WAY crankier than I do if he doesn’t get a solid six to eight hours. To let him cry it out in Pie’s room means NONE of us sleep, because my husband is unconsciously geared to waking up with Pie while I take care of Beanie. It’s a lose-lose. So, I get up with Beanie when he wakes up, Pie sleeps on blissfully unaware in his own room, and Sweetie puts a pillow over his head and sleeps the deep sleep of the Daddy Who Has To Get Up For Work In X Hours. Beanie screams, and I . . . do a mother’s duty. Bounce, walk, nurse; lather, rinse, repeat; and maybe watch more Star Trek on Netflix — because I ran out of Castle on DVD, and Star Trek has subtitles so I can watch with the volume down low.

I should count my blessings, though. At least I can almost get another three or four hours of sleep before Pie wakes me (and Beanie) up the next morning, and then Beanie is ALMOST guaranteed to take a long nap. And the nights Beanie DOESN’T wake up, he’s apt to sleep nine to twelve hours, depending on bedtime and morning sleep disturbances. </Segue in 5…4…3…> I’m EXCEPTIONALLY THANKFUL I’m not this mom, who thinks it’s normal or okay for her two-and-a-half-year-old to wake her FOUR TO SEVEN TIMES a night to nurse!(!!)

Now, I have no problem with a mom wanting to nurse her toddler. I weaned Pie when he was fourteen months, and I probably won’t wean Beanie until I’m sure he’s eating enough solid food to make up for it. He might be two years old before I wean him. But I believe that’s my prerogative. I might throw in the towel early and trade my milk for raw cow’s milk and formula, because I’m so tired of being tied down and being the sole source of his nutrition in the middle of the night. I understand and sympathize with much of what that mom wrote about, and daytime nursing every three or four hours makes sense — that’s about Beanie’s average, too.

But, dang it, if my child’s not teething, gassy, sick, or soaked, I do NOT want to be waking up multiple times a night to nurse him. ESPECIALLY if he starts eating solid food like a normal child. Children that age should be sleeping through the night. Granted, I’m a lot more lenient with formula than I was with Pie, so I’m more likely to offer a bottle before bed at times Beanie’s more hungry so that he will last through the night; and I don’t always mind waking up just once to feed him, because he is pretty dinky and really does need the extra calories over a span of twelve hours.

But FOUR to SEVEN TIMES A NIGHT? Good grief! I’d be a raving lunatic, and it would have NOTHING to do with the idea that self-pity or guilt makes me more exhausted than just pure sleep deprivation. I just couldn’t do it! Waking up with Beanie means a two-minute trip to the bathroom so I’m not uncomfortable while nursing him, a two-minute or so diaper change, a walk to the living room and a settling into the couch, and a nursing session that may or may not actually result in a sleeping child at the end. Then, whenever he’s finally asleep again, a moment of touch-and-go where I lower him carefully back into his bed despite the muscle spasms, and crawl into my bed to try to go back to sleep. That’s at LEAST half an hour to forty-five minutes! Four to seven sessions like that a night, and I would be in a mental institution. It’s bad enough he doesn’t get to sleep till eleven some nights, and wakes at two and stays awake till four. I know that’s NOT normal, and I’ll do my best to make sure that it doesn’t happen every night, and it ENDS when he’s mostly done teething.

To be fair, she probably co-sleeps, which is something I cannot and will not do. Kudos to those who can successfully sleep with a wiggling baby between them, and good luck transitioning that baby to its own bed; but I cannot do it. I won’t even let the cat between my husband and me. Also, the last time I brought Beanie to bed to nurse because I was just too exhausted to stay awake, he bit and pulled and drew blood. I still shudder to think about it, so we don’t nurse in bed ANYmore.

To each parent his or her own, of course. If you’re fine with waking up every hour for a two-year-old to nurse, then, by all means. Most parents are thrilled when their four-month-old QUITS that habit after the four-month sleep-regression and starts sleeping through most of the night again. Excuse me if I look funny at any parent who doesn’t do their darnedest to teach their toddler how to sleep through the night without having to fill his or her belly every one or two hours, because that just looks like insanity to me. It’s insane enough having to stay up four hours out of every eight at night to bounce gas bubbles out of a one-year-old.

Hm, it appears this vent has turned into a rant, and I’m getting redundant and repeating myself. I’ll stop now. 🙂 And I can finally close that tab on my browser . . . But, more immediately, Beanie’s awake from his nap now and I hate typing one-handed. So, I’ll write again later, because there’s another article sticking in my craw. But I’ll wait till I’m a little more coherent for that one.