Friday, March 19, 2010

The Land of Insomnia

I, personally, have very rarely had trouble sleeping. Sometimes--often--I stay up too late for no good reason, but I am always happy to climb into bed and almost never have trouble staying asleep (unless, of course, someone else wakes me up!) In short, sleep and I have always gotten along fine.

Not so for my husband. He hates to go to sleep. When he was a kid, he used to lie in bed for hours, not sleeping. Before we got married, he never went to sleep before every last one of his roommates had turned in for the night. He was perpetually underrested, and tells a story of once hallucinating in shiur something about a magical battleaxe. Inexplicably, he never made the connection between "being tired all the time" and "not sleeping enough." Seriously. It never occurred to him that he was tired because he slept six hours a night. I have no explanation for this, since he's a pretty smart guy, but I can attest to it personally.

His dislike of sleep seems to be genetic, as I've mentioned before; his father will put off going to sleep until he passes out on the couch, and the first time he (my FIL) came to visit, I came out of bed to find out where they were to find both him and my husband sitting next to each other in identical positions on the couch, conked out completely with books on their laps.

When Barak was born... well. When Barak was born, literally from the day he was born, he resisted sleep, and not much has changed. He loves staying up late. He is never happier or sweeter or more delightful than he is at, say, 9:30 or 10 PM when everyone is asleep but him and me and maybe Abba is around somewhere too. But being that he's five years old, he does eventually crash; the secret is getting him into bed before the meltdown occurs, because the warning period is usually pretty short.

Iyyar has never been quite like that. When he gets into bed, he falls asleep pretty quickly, but if he wakes up at night, it's bad--he gets really disoriented and has a hard time falling back to sleep. As a baby, though, especially for the first nine months or so, he was horrible. It tooks literally hours to get him to sleep and then twenty minutes later he'd wake up screaming. It was awful. I still don't know what it was or why it stopped--the sound machine helped a lot so I have to think it was some kind of a sensory thing.

Avtalyon never had sleep issues. He was an amazing sleeper for the first three months, and part of the reason the adjustment to three kids was so easy for me was that for the first half of my maternity leave at least all he did was wake up every three hours, nurse, look around a little bit, and go back to sleep. These days, though... he is not quite ready to dump the nap, because if he doesn't get one he melts down completely. But when he does nap, he frequently sleeps two or three hours and then, around bedtime, is standing in his crib for hours. Lately, he's been waking up in the middle of the night, not crying, not wanting to be soothed, just awake. He wants to come out and play. Failing that, he wants a book. Failing that, he will entertain himself by any means necessary, the louder the better. For the record, he has two roommates. I've tried waking him up earlier from his nap and have regretted it every time--he's disoriented and miserable and just falls on the floor and screams. The only way to get him to calm down and stop is to put him in the stroller and take him for a walk so he can zone out and recover.

Which brings us to... Marika. Sweetest baby ever. Seriously. One of the easiest, too. But lately, she's developed this habit of waking up at around 9 or 10 PM all perky-like. Perfectly happy. Just awake. And she stays awake. Last night I tried nursing her and putting her down any number of times, and she kept waking right back up. At 10 MHH came home and I asked him to bore her (for a while every time he took her and walked around the house with her she'd pass right out. "I'm very boring," he told me proudly.) That didn't work either. An hour later he came into my office with a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed baby. Hmm. I went and cleaned the kitchen and by midnight we both really wanted to go to bed but Marika was having none of it. Time for the big guns. I turned out the light, got into bed with her and pulled her close to nurse. All I could think of was a puppy worrying a bone; she was latched on but flailing and thrashing and whacking me and then started to wail and howl. Hmm. I put her upright, thinking she needed to burp, and she did calm down, with a few tragic after-wails to let me know just how awful things were and how difficult her recovery would be. I opened my eyes and realized that she was, once again, wide awake and looking around. She'd been mad because she didn't want to be nursed to asleep, she wanted to be AWAKE. And looking around. Which she was. Until 1:30 am.

It's not like she naps all day, either. She has maybe a 2-hour nap in the morning and two or three shorter ones in the afternoon. She's awake most of the day. I'm careful now not to take her out in the Snugli for too long, because that can easily turn into a 3-hour nap for her.

She looks so big to me now--she's two arms' worth of baby. I remember when she was born being able to hold her with one arm, with her head in the crook of my elbow and my hand around the bottom of her tush. Can't do that now. Usually now when I'm walking around the house with her she's either looking over my shoulder, or I'm holding her on my hip facing outward, which she likes. She loves lying on her back and especially when I'm changing her diaper will give me these fabulous grins. I'm even seeing signs of a second dimple appearing in her right cheek--she's been a one-dimple baby until now. She's just starting to grab onto toys and my clothes and seems to have a particular fondness for a certain ratty orange sweater I wear around the house a lot. "Hmm," she seems to be thinking, "That's nice yarn. Wonder if she'll still have some of that lying around when I'm old enough to knit." I think I do, too.

Monday, March 15, 2010

He's in

And I'm very happy and only freaking a little.

Next step: talk to boss.

Next step after that: rent out apartment.

Next step after that: pack!

Friday, March 12, 2010


It's been busy around here. Well, it's always busy, but it's been even busier than usual. Lots I could blog about but don't have time to write up. So, in brief:

1. MHH had two job interviews last week: one for the Israel program, one for a job prospect here at some indeterminate time in the future. So far as we know, decisions for the program have been made and letters are going out next week. Stay tuned.

2. Xtreme Telecommuting: no decisions, since my boss, reasonably enough, wants to know about #1 (above) first.

3. After discovering her thumb around Purim (the joy!) and soothing herself back to sleep with it a number of times (the amazement!) and a few nights of fantastically good sleep (the sleep!) Marika has... well, not lost her thumb exactly, but lost her taste for it. I hope she gets it back. We really liked that thumb phase and want it back. And yeah, yeah, I know, you can't take away a thumb like you can take away a pacifier when she gets older. Know what? I DON'T CARE. I just want her to sleep at night. Which, lately, she hasn't been doing, preferring instead to be entertained at, oh, 1 am. Every night I am determined that she will stay in a dark room in a sleepy environment all night. Every night I give up when it's been an hour or two of bright perky-eyed happy baby wanting to play. I lie down and nurse her and she screams hysterically; I turn her upright and she quiets down, hiccups a few times, recovers slowly from the trauma, looks at me shyly, and starts showing her dimples. She wins.

4. Iyyar is getting so big. He's talking more clearly, gets himself dressed in the morning by himself (although his sartorial choices--oof. Blue plaid flannel shirt with red and green plaid flannel pants! "It's gonna be all cozy for me!") He likes to yell "potch!" as though it is a very bad word. Or whisper "stupidhead!" and giggle madly. Who's got a big brother?

5. Speaking of big brothers... Avtalyon thinks he's five. The other day he came up to me with a Lincoln Log wanting me to put it in his belt loop. So he could shoot it like a gun. He's talking more and more every day; last week my friend Charlotte sent us this massive Costco-sized Special K box full of about 50 different pairs of hand-me-down little girl socks (let us not even contemplate the kind of laundry organization that must have been involved in maintaining all of those socks in paired states over two and a half years of twin girls wearing them... clearly, she is on a different laundry level from us mere mortals). Anyway, one of the socks had Elmo on them and Avtalyon was, of course, enraptured. For some reason I don't now recall I couldn't get them on his feet quite as quickly as he wanted--probably I was holding a baby--and he protested. "Imma! I want it! I want it my Elmo socks!" Wow.

6. Now that I'm on the topic of Avtalyon speech: "barkip," "barkistan," and "baykinih" are still going, but really the word of the moment is "Matim!" as in, Hebrew for "It fits!" He is obsessed with jigsaw puzzles--specifically those big Melissa and Doug floor puzzles that we now have about seven of because even though they're expensive they are so fabulous. All the boys will do them, together, without fighting, which is a miracle in itself; but most fun of all is watching Avtalyon find a piece that fits, throw up his hands in victory, and shout, "MaTIIIIIM!" I bought three new puzzles last week--a tractor, a barn, and a Noah's ark. Barak wanted to know why there were only two giraffes and not seven like the pasuk says. I told him that the giraffes couldn't all fit in the picture and he was OK with that.

7. Barak is in a new toy stage: Playmobil. Jasmin sent Iyyar some Playmobil when Marika was born, and I added a little to it via star-chart prize, and then my friend Karen blew their minds by sending a HUGE box of Romans vs. Barbarians. Lots of shooting and "You're dead now!" I've given up; the Y chromosome has me beat. I still won't buy them violent toys myself but they've been making guns and swords and bomb-shooters out of Lego so that's really just for my own self-respect. And Barak's little Lego has what he terms a "cannonball-shooter." As opposed to, you know, a cannon.

8. Work. Work is busy. Not much to say there.

9. I still don't have Marika's social security number, which means I'll have to get an extension for my taxes if it doesn't turn up soon. This is annoying. She was born Nov. 30 and I filed for it at the hospital! How long does it take, really?

10. I just bought a new carseat because the convertible carseat I bought for Barak when he was 1 has expired (!!!). Two days later, I just saw that Combi now has a convertible carseat that snaps into a stroller. Oh for one of these when I took Iyyar to Hungary! And if we're in Israel next year and I have to come back for work, that'd be an awfully nice thing to have for Marika. Hmm.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

The Avtalyon Chronicles

In honor of Avtalyon at 25 months, give or take.

1. New word of the week: "barkistan." No, it's not some war-torn country. It's a garbage can. Expanded version of the earlier favorite, "barkip." A similar word with totally different meaning: "Barkinih!" This means, "It's broken!"

2. Gone, oh, gone are the days when Avtalyon was an easygoing little baby, content with everything. He has figured out that the best way to get my attention is to be LOUD AND DEMANDING. He summons. He shouts. And when he wants my attention, he hollers both syllables, loud and clear: "EEEE! MMMMMMA!" It doesn't get him anywhere, but he does it anyway.

3. He likes chickens, both in toy and food form. "Chickum!" Current favorite toys are probably legos, which he likes to attach to the train pieces and drive around. Beep beep.

4. He continues to adore Asnat, and to associate her most strongly with the eating of oranges. "Apooz!" His Hebrew is pretty impressive. Today I heard him tell her he wanted to eat. "Echol! Echol!"

5. He still likes his pacifier and his blankie, specifically, the tag, which he holds up against his cheek. If he is feeling magnanimous, sometimes he'll rub it against my cheek or Abba's. He's only supposed to have the blankie and pluggie when in his crib, although this rule is not absolute--sometimes he'll pull the blankie out through the bars, or find a pluggie hiding somewhere. It's clear when he does this that he knows he's getting away with something--he gives me a guilty grin and doesn't really protest much when I take them away.

6. He can open the fridge now. This is annoying. Sometimes when I open it, he pushes past me and starts taking things out.

7. I've started making him clean up his toys. A couple of times this week, when I told him to pick up Lego and he decided to see what would happen if he said no, he found himself in his crib having a time-out. Then he cleaned up. Happily. He even sang the cleanup song: "Yeeyup! Yeeyup!"

8. Puzzles continue to be a huge hit, such that I bought a few more today. He and Iyyar, who will not turn 4 until May, can do a 100-piece puzzle labeled for 6 and above if they work on it together. Not a brand new one, one they've done before with help, but still--I'm impressed.

9. He hates sweaters. Annoying, but true. I have to force them over his head when we're going outside and he tries his best to get them off as soon as we get home.

10. He likes Ernie. It's so funny; Barak likes Cookie Monster, Iyyar loved Grover, and Avtalyon, for whatever reason, is an Ernie fan. He likes to come into my room, take the box of size 1-2 diapers for Marika that's sitting on the dresser/changing table, and neatly arrange them on my bed/the floor/the bouncy seat. Mysteriously, the Ernie diapers rarely make it back into the box--sometimes I find them hidden under his crib.

11. Although I usually buy generic diapers, I weakened at his obvious delight in Ernie diapers and bought him a huge box of size 4 Pampers at Sam's Club. Now, of course, I am stuck; he won't ever be willing to go back. Wonder if I can leverage this into early toilet training...

12. He has been taking really long naps lately, sometimes finishing them with a long spell of being awake in his crib but not asking to come out. Sometimes he's in there until past 3; I go in to see if he's OK and find him just standing there, holding his blanket and sucking his pluggie, looking perfectly happy. Once he sees me, of course, he's excited to come out.

13. He seems to spend much of the afternoon just waiting for Barak to come home. Every so often he'll run to the window and ask for Barak; when Barak does finally make his appearance, at about 4, the joy is boundless.

14. He likes pizza. A lot. He's been asking for it daily for at least a week. I should really make some tomorrow. It's not a bad dinner when it's whole wheat, and Avtalyon happily eats his loaded with vegetables.

15. He likes chickpeas, straight out of the can. I don't get this personally, but okay.

16. I still haven't cut his hair. It's fine in the front but is getting shaggy and curly in back. I don't want to cut it till I have to though.

17. After months of wearing real shoes, he came across some of the knockoff Robeez shoes from Target with giraffes on them. I don't think these were ever his--I'm pretty sure they were only Iyyar's. Surprisingly, they fit, and he loves them. He asks for them in Hebrew. "Eeyafa! Eeyafa!"

18. Avtalyon does not laugh. He chortles. Sometimes he actually says "ho ho ho."

19. He likes sitting at the table, preferably without booster seat. This is hard for me when the other kids are in the kitchen but Asnat, with fewer kids to watch, lets him do it. I think it makes him feel big.

20. He really likes Play-Doh, but if you don't watch him, he eats it.

21. He likes toy tools. He especially likes to hammer things.

22. He often sleeps with his feet sticking out through the bars of his crib. Doesn't look too comfortable to me, but he doesn't seem to mind.

23. If I disappear into the bathroom or office, he comes looking for me. "Imma! We'ha you! IIIMMMAAAA!"

24. He likes my water bottle, but whenever I let him have it he invariably dumps out the contents. He's very into high chair chemistry experiments too. The milk! into the oatmeal! Chickpeas into the cucumbers into the water! He has figured out that bad things happen when he dumps things on the floor, though, and has stopped doing that--mostly.

25. He wants to do everything his brothers do, and is convinced that he's at least five. In fact, he's not. He's still my baby boy.

Monday, March 01, 2010

Purim sameach

Hope you managed to keep the dragons out of your shaloch manos.