Co-sleeping: Who Needs the Sleep Anyways…

You wake up with heavy, groggy eyes and it slowly begins to dawn on you that you are not in your familiar bed.  You notice the feminine curtains…the wall decor…and turn to see a snoring beauty at your side.  “Crap!” you mouth, “I did it again”.  You slither out of bed and do a sneak crawl out the door.  It sounds like an intro to a romantic comedy movie right?  The whole ‘one night stand’ scene.  Except…let’s rewind back…those ‘feminine’ curtains?  bubble gum pink….the wall decor? Toddleresque princess….the snoring beauty?…your 2 year old daughter.  You’ve been a victim of co-sleeping my friend.  It’s a scene right out of a movie alright…except it’s the opening scene of my theoretical pilot comedy series appropriately entitled “A Day in the Life”.

Co-sleeping is basically the sleeping arrangement that involves the family in some form or another.  Some cultures do it out of necessity…cramped living spaces…other cultures do it for bonding…some nursing moms lean towards it…still other cultures do it on pure accident.  I suppose I knew early on…dozing off in the hospital room…when the nurses expected me to keep getting up and down to place my son in that awkwardly tall heavy plastic bassinet…that I may fall prey to co-sleeping.

Co-sleeping can be dangerous.  There is much out there discussing the risks.  Obviously, when you put instincts to love and protect out there with inappropriate bedding and sleep-deprived adults…you hope you don’t fall into that pool of statistics.  Whether it be S.I.D.S or something more depressingly explainable, sad things do happen to babies.  That being said I need to quickly lean on my defense mechanisms of humor before I make somebody cry. Quick! A funny story!

One night, as Joe and I lay there with Dom in the middle…we both mysteriously were awake and suddenly fixated on Dom’s leg.  He had slowly raised his leg straight up in a 90 degree angle and kept it there for a second.  Without warning…he quickly bent his knee and swiftly kicked Joe right in the nuts…then placed his leg cleanly back with the other.  It was…and still is…hilarious.  He must have been about a year and a half then…strong enough for it to hurt.

When Dom was very small…he would ball up and lay on my chest and stomach..replacing the bump that he so freshly left.  It was my first glimpse of mommy multi-tasking….snuggling while watching T.V.   And so it went…different kids…different years…balancing the comfort of a small back pressed up against yours against the kicking feet.  Shielding your face from unexpected blows or bad morning breath.  Blocking your ears from subtle or less subtle snoring.  Cursing the fact that the other bedrooms are on a different floor.  Smiling at sleepy angelic faces.  Telling yourself you’ll do the SuperNanny method the next night.

Now…maybe you are one of those parents who’ve never had co-sleeping cross your path.  You’ve religiously placed your child in their own appropriately sized bedding, ushered them back after bad dreams…never had an issue.  Well…let me pat you on the back…and let me keep on patting you to help you warm up your cold heart..is it beating?  Oh wait…maybe I’m patting out hot flames…you might be one of those ‘sex every night’ couples…….freaks.  Your ‘New Jersey Housewives’ lifestyle is making the rest of us parents of youngsters look bad…stop it!

In all truth…I’m probably a little jealous.  No not of your ‘New Jersey Housewife’ debauchery…but maybe of your discipline.  It takes a lot of self-discipline to get through  a good bedtime routine.   But obviously, that good night sleep and 8 hour lapse of physical space is optimal for functioning the next day.  For a couple of our kids, they started out so strong…sleeping on their own.  Then…whether it be the introduction to fear or the wisdom to realize that Mom and Dad’s bed is WAY more comfortable….you see them…standing there at the side of your bed…or maybe you just feel their eery little presence next to you.

Joe is (and will always be) way better at putting the kids to bed.  Truth be told…if I was a single mom I’d have plenty of pillows.  We are towards the end of our co-sleeping days, but I do special request him to tuck Maria in.  For him…it’s swift…for me?  Well…let’s just say that I’m just as tired as Maria when I tuck her in.  As for the boys? …They have each other.  We will always have a four bedroom house..eventually they will all be used.

Now laying here…it seems like there are countless times that I have been woken up by a child.  Somebody’s dream….a break in R.E.M…a foot to a body part.  Take tonight ..I fell asleep incredibly early…8:30…but woke up at 12:30 because somebody cried and peed.  Fortunately,  it was not in my bed.  Now, I didn’t say that they keep me up…that sometimes is my own doing, but it’s usually a kid that wakes me up (or Joe moving from the couch to the bed) that does it.  Otherwise, it’s just the mere fact that I have the mind of a mom that wakes me up…still a kid to blame.

For some reason, I remember Dr. Phil who said that kids don’t come in throwing the car keys on your nightstand and insist on co-sleeping…it’s the same thinkism that kids shed diapers by kindergarten…all things good and bad…must end.  Sleep or co-sleep as you must…may the best night of sleep WIN!

Mouse-Ka-Tears

One thing that makes being a homeowner absolutely suck is to discover a mouse in the house.  Yes…I am going there.  A topic that not everybody likes to talk about to others.  I suppose it scares others because it oozes ghetto slum scum, they think you hoard adult diapers, or that you’ll slip a mouse in their coat pocket when they’re not looking.  But it happens.  Though it can happen in older homes with all the itty bitty foundation cracks in the winter, I suppose it can happen in a million dollar home by a field somewhere…though I feel less empathy for you.

Here’s a list of Do’s and Don’t’s

Do realize that it is just a small creature.  Very quickly this 2-3 inch creature can turn into Godzilla.  It is not Godzilla…at least you would hear him coming and brace yourself.  No, a mouse is a small creature that juts out unexpectedly scaring the crap out of you at the least opportune time.

Don’t be the first one to wake up.  A mouse will likely be ending his adventures.  They like the night life ba-by…o.k. that was creepy and cheesy…sorry.  Let your husband be the one to set the mouse straight.  If you are the first one up, be sure to walk into the room like Godzilla…while announcing your arrival.  

Do expect to see the mouse at night.  You will be watching T.V. in the dark.  Keep your eyes on the screen and damn your peripheral vision.  After shaking off the idea that the mouse will want to share your pillow, you might contemplate whether or not to pee in the middle of the night…Sure you might stick on your slippers and brave it out…but he’ll just be sitting on the toilet seat waiting for you anyways.

Do set traps…but tell your spouse.  One night I set up a line of invisible packing tape…but I just tripped up and caught a husband.

Do set a variety of traps.  I mistakenly invested in those humane traps.  They are plastic boxes that you are supposed to bait and trap with.  Then you put the trap in a bag…drive 5 miles to a field..and release the mouse…or how I envision it…you drop kick the bag across the field running like hell while screaming and flailing your arms back to the car. They don’t work.

Sticky traps work well…they capture small toys that slip under the couch and the drapes.

Big snappy traps work with the downside being that the mouse will scream loud enough that PETA fines you.

Old-fashioned traps can be funny to watch your husband attempt to set up.  

Bait boxes only if they are child and pet proofed.  

Also prepare some sort of catch and release box.  It gives the kids and you the impression that you have a heart of gold.

Do watch Mickey Mouse.  Cartoons and story books make mice look so cute…you almost forget that they can carry disease. Maybe you have a shy pet.

Don’t obsess.  Researching the species and their living habits will not do any good…Just stop Googling…the average life span is one year and brown mice tend to be loners.

Don’t call the exterminator.  It just costs money.  They will tell you to line up traps near the wall, clean any clutter, and fill in the foundation cracks.  Stick a brillo pad in the porch steps and mail me a check for $150…thank you.

Do keep the floors clean.  If your kids are throwing around food like it’s confetti, the mouse doesn’t want week old cheese or a month old glob of peanut butter…there is a virtual buffet behind the fridge.

Do cut down on clutter…especially paper.  Paper is like some sort of life source as it provides food and shelter for the mouse…and we’ve all seen Hoarders.

Do realize that it can happen again. Though we’d like to think it’s like that one case of food poisoning you got…the truth is..we know how much you like those late night tacos.  It will probably happen again.  Brace yourself towards the cold months.  While you wait to catch the mouse,  have a sense of humor about it…as with anything a sense of humor can help you persevere through life’s little challenges….and keep away those Mouse-Ka-Tears.  

FaceTweet

It was in late 2008 when I leaned over Joe’s shoulder to first lay my eyes on Facebook.  Never a big MySpace person, I took only slight interest in social media at the time.  I decided to start up an innocent little account.  My first status updates reported exactly what I was doing, “I am watching T.V.” or “I just fed seven children”. I posted a bunch of pictures and used it like a scrapbook.  Perhaps the combination of being pregnant with my fourth child in 2009 and suffering insomnia would put me slightly off the edge and make Facebook become an outlet for me.  I’d impulsively post snapshots and sometimes witty daily observations…I have my fun.  

So…when I decided to give Twitter a shot I was met with this question, “Who do you want to follow?”….Follow?  I don’t know…who should I be ‘following’?  After I transfered the five friends I could easily identify from Facebook, I was left to a list of categories of actors, musicians, comedy, Nascar, etc.  Never one to be too big on celebrity idolization, I quickly retreated back to my comfort zone (a.k.a the blue box with the white F in it).  I mean…o.k…I’m not saying that I’m so cool that I’ve never written a fan letter before…but I never did mail one.  I mean, Facebook is criticized for making ‘fake’ friendships…but my Twitter ‘feed’ makes me laugh.  I scroll through and see…Oprah…Parents magazine…Ellen….Patricia Heaton…Justin Timberlake..Mindy Kaling… Joyce Meyer…

Obviously, the thing that is worse than realizing that celebrities aren’t like the rest of us is realizing that they really are.  Sometimes…I don’t even know what they are talking about…with all the hashtags# and the @ signs.  It’s like I’m overhearing a conversation that they are having to their friends…their ‘real life’ friends.  Other times, I’m not even sure if it is the actual celebrity tweeting or their second cousin who is in charge of their social media.  A couple times I @ ted them.  I sent them a specific message giving my 2 cents.  There is no ‘like’ button…and this unnerves me.  What results are recycled Facebook statuses that are just sitting in oblivious cyber space on Twitter.  But in the meantime…Mindy Kaling thinks Eucerin lotion rocks and Parents magazine is reminding me how to parent again.  

I feel like I am doing something wrong…isn’t there a way to FaceTweet?…I mean say the same thing twice with one push of a button…it’s too much work.

And really…what’s so wrong with Facebook friends?  I like my conveniently distant friends.   I’m much too busy to put too much effort into a friendship…I get constantly interrupted on the phone…I hang with the kids when I’m not working…Facebook works for me.  But, there are definitely times that I would like to transfer a couple Facebook friends into my daily routine….like when realizing that I am on the brink of putting ‘Magic Mike’ in my Netflix queue…or when I had to explain a P.M.S. moment to my husband earlier today…you get the idea.   Just like my sorority ‘sisters’ who bid on me after being a transfer student…I know we aren’t really ‘sisters’….we are just at the same place at the same time having a few laughs and a little fun.  Soon, we will graduate and I will have trouble remembering your last name….but in the meantime, let’s sing chants and paint paddles.  

Justin Timberlake sends his love 

Shouldn’t I Be Working on my Doctoral Work Right Now?

Perhaps the most haunting thing about pursuing higher education while functioning as an adult is the idea that you should be doing ‘something else’ right now. While watching a movie….”Shouldn’t I be working on my paper?”. While hanging with the kids….”Shouldn’t I be doing laundry?” While doing laundry….”Shouldn’t I be hanging with the kids?”. While doing your paper….”Shouldn’t I be watching a movie?” and so on.

For whatever reason I chose to pursue my Masters’ degree in 2003. The scary thing about online schooling is how impulsively you can enroll. From Ebay to AOL to ‘University of Phoenix’ and BAM! I was teaching part-time, raising a 3 year old and pregnant with Joey. I’d spend lots of 2 o’clock in the mornings or weekend sneak aways hiding out on the basement computer. It’s all a blur really…which is scary because the student loan debts are extremely clear. I graduated in 2005 with not a gray hair in sight.

In July 2010, I enrolled in the Ed.D program (with specialization on Higher Education and Adult Learning) at Walden I leaned toward the Ed.D versus the Ph.D because I mistakenly thought the Ed.D lasted 3 years while the Ph.D lasts 7. I was wrong…you have up to 7 years either way. Maybe it was just a way to keep my mind challenged…at least that’s what the voices in my head reassured me. Despite a loved one showing me a newsclip entitled, “You Can’t Afford This Degree” I bulldozed my way through. It’s all been going pretty well so far. Working with 16 week semesters versus the 5-6 week classes during my Masters’ makes it more manageable. Despite four kids and working part-time, I’ve found the time to complete my coursework…..until last semester.

Last semester I had two courses at the same time and we switched to what is less than lovingly called ‘BlackBoard’. At times I would deny I was in the second class altogether. Though I got a ‘B’ in one course , I got a ‘U’ in the second one. I haven’t gotten a ‘U’ since grade school when I kept forgetting my gym shoes for P.E. Like a scarlet letter that ‘U’, but I was told that I could redeem myself in the next course. I am now in what is called ‘Doctoral Intensive’. What happens is that you need to take at least 2 of these courses back to back, more if you need….trust me…I’ll need.

I’ve changed my topic once. My original idea was to address ADHD Awareness for Early Childhood Providers. I started literature review and had some interest in the topic.This got denied because it needs to be geared toward my direct work setting.So…starting from scratch I was at a loss. I’m not one to find or complain about problems. What was my problem? My problem was finding a problem? My topic is switched to Retention of black men in the community college setting. As a Caucasian woman I am treading carefully as to not make this look like some sort of Key and Peele parody. I have a long way to go. As with anything…a day at a time. Gotta Love It!

3-1-13 update: transferred to Ed.S program, last class starts this week!

R.I.P Little Yellow Fish

I could eat a cow, a pig, a chicken, or a fish and not think twice….but accidentally losing a little yellow pet fish down the kitchen drain two days ago haunts me.  It was a Thursday night and I was home with 3 out of 4 kids.  I was sitting reading Tony a book…which should have been the red flag there.  I can never sit down and read Tony a book because Maria is usually there grabbing it away…but dammit I was going to finish that book.  Sure enough, I go downstairs to see she had dumped all the fish food in the tank.  So I have to lug the plastic tank up with two kids underfoot.  My abnormally low blood pressure goes up pretty high when these type of things happen.  Following protocol, I get the fish in a separate container and get to work.  The tank looks pretty good…so I put the fish back.  The water that the fish were in was dirty…so having a temporary moment of perfectionism, I decide to slowly dump a little out of the tank.  Oh dear Lord, a little yellow fish has slipped out and is flopping about.  I quickly dismiss using a pincer grasp to pick him up barehanded, afraid to squeeze him and grab for a spoon…I get a fork.  Try to scoop him with a spoon, but it is too late…he has slipped into a small gap in the drain.  Oh shit.  The combination of that and realizing that Maria has just put her whole fist into a jar of peanut butter makes me cry.  Tony has made mention of the incident to Joey, and I think it will be better coming from me.  FAIL!  Obviously Joey has inherited my emotional genetic fibers.  He sobs for this poor fish and we hug…hard.  I suddenly feel for my mom as there were some childhood pet fails that I’m sure she had to endure a little mommy guilty from.  It then occurs to me that I could never be a paramedic. One kid thinks we should buy another little yellow fish, while another says he was irreplacable.  The other little yellow fish seems irritable and chases the other orange pair around.  The goldfish shakes his head at me.  We wouldn’t have the other fish if it weren’t for the goldfish.  Tony won him at the Early Childhood fair in April.  I’m pretty sure the next time I go to Wal-mart I will buy mommy guilt fish partners.  Joey is now content thinking that the fish is in the Rock River, possibly to be discovered by a passerbyer who will scoop him up and adopt him…when he is older he will understand sewage systems…I wish I didn’t.   Yep, pretty sure I can’t handle being a pet owner, I’m just busy enough figuring out motherhood.  R.I.P Little Yellow Fish may you swim with the fishes and be reunited with your little yellow fish descendants in fishy heaven.