Friday, March 26, 2010

On sleep, or lack thereof

I love my baby girl. You know that if you've read even just one of my blog posts. But I could live without seeing her from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m. Oh, even 6:30 if it's really necessary. But lately, I've been seeing quite a lot of my little one in the night hours. Remi and I are routinely awakened at least once in the night, sometimes two times, if we're really lucky. And even when she does bless us with a good night's sleep, our own sleep cycles are so trained to be awakened that we are jittery around 3 a.m., expecting to hear cries.

We thought the worst was past us after the first few months of her life, but it seems that for the moment at least, she's not a heavy sleeper. Perhaps it's nightmares? It would be one thing if she'd simply go back to sleep after a little rocking or a half bottle of warm milk. But things are getting more complicated lately. Her breathing becomes more regular while we rock her and then we try to put her back in her crib. And the moment her body touches the mattress, the cries start back up. So we stroke her head and say "shhh", and she calms again. Only to let out a whimper when we reach the door (walking backwards on tiptoes, praying). A few times Remi or I have just slept on a sleeping bag beside her crib holding her hand until she really goes down.

Sometimes she pulls all the Murphy's baby laws on us, waking multiple times, the last time at 5:30, when I'm supposed to get up at 6. And it's at these moments that I mutter to Remi "God hates me." And instantly feel guilty. Because of course, losing sleep is nothing compared to people who've lost their entire families to floods or civil wars. But lack of sleep makes you think crazy. Makes logic fly out the window. Which is why we desperately need to solve baby's sleep problem.

And to top it all off this weekend we spring forward an hour. One hour less of sleep. Maybe God does hate me after all?

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Seen around town

So I've had an idea for a while to post some photos of things I see around town. If I get my act together I'll try to do some themed ones. You can see that I have a thing for doors. There are some lovely ones in my town.

Even this old peeling one has its own beauty.

Here's an old brick house that's starting to settle and become crooked.

And here's a whimsical one: the super duper vending machine that sells everything from cakes and soft drinks to microwavable meals and Nutella. For those Nutella emergencies.

And we'll let Juliette finish us off. She's discovering how to fog up the window.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Mish mash post and mashed potatoes à la française

Highlights of Friday:
Juliette saying "ducky" as we passed the park where we often look at those very animals.

My recipe for hachis parmentier turning out decent. Remi asked for seconds. Imprecise recipe to follow.

Not so shining moments:
When I took the cookie away from JuJu during her doctor's visit (for head cold with fever #57 of the season), causing her to tug backwards and hit her head on the wall and mirror behind. No injuries sustained. Phew.

And when the doc said maybe her adenoids are enlarged, or her iron low, or, maybe, as I volunteered, I haven't been doing the nasal saline solution clean out thing as often as usual. Which could all be reasons she's been perpetually sick this season. She's got an x-ray scheduled for Wednesday to check out the adenoids theory.

Other than that it's been a quiet week. Only eleven hours of lessons and big holes in my schedule that made me feel as if I didn't work at all. And am not a productive member of society. I tried to get ahead on things, and it's a good thing as this week I've got 21 hours. If only it were a bit more consistent.

So here's my approximate recipe for the French comfort food hachis parmentier.

Peel and boil a goodish number of potatoes till cooked through.

Mash them up. No seasoning necessary but you can add a bit of butter and salt if you like.

At the same time, dice up and sautee some onions in oil. Nothing makes you feel like you're cooking like sauteeing onions.

Add some ground beef to the skillet (frying pan for those who don't speak Southern). I like to use some beef that's already got seasoning, or you could add some Mexican spice mix.

Beef doesn't need to be super brown, just mostly brown.

Mix beef and mashed potatoes in bowl. You may want to add more seasoning if your beef wasn't already seasoned. A can of spaghetti sauce hanging around your fridge, for example.

Put it all in an oven-proof pan. Sprinkle your favorite grated cheese on top. Here I use Emmental. In the US sharp cheddar might be nice.

Cook it all for about 15 to 20 minutes at 350°F (175°C) to melt the cheese.

Serve and enjoy. Goes well with a green salad or mixed veggies.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Gaga for Gaga

No, she's not actually saying Gaga but "Cat-ki" or "cat-cat". That's in response to the ugly hairless cat in the video Bad Romance. I'm surprised she can recognize it's a cat. But she does like the song, too. Have there been any studies done on the effects of Lady Gaga videos on twenty-month olds? Don't worry. She's also got a healthy diet of Wonder Pets DVDs and Dr. Seuss books.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Diagnose this!

Fever, an eruption of pimply spots. It doesn’t take Dr. Gregory House to figure this one out. Yes, a case of chicken pox has visited our household. Last Saturday I felt some strange bumps in Juliette’s hair and Sunday my suspicions were confirmed as the spots started multiplying. And as our little one already has sensitive skin, she had a rather bad case. Her poor back and tummy were covered with the pustules.

So it made things all the more painful when it was time to spray her little body with the antiseptic solution. She wailed and gripped on to my arm. It was at moments like that I wanted to kick the French health authorities who thought the vaccine wasn’t necessary in France. At least my doctor several months ago never said it was available. And I read on a brochure from the pharmacy that they were concerned that by vaccinating all the little ones, the illness would shift to teens and adults, for whom it’s more serious. Well, maybe that’s the case, but I wish I could have spared my pimply princess that suffering.

It was strange handling her with all those sores. I felt like I was playing in poison ivy with impunity. Having already had the disease, Remi and I couldn’t get it again. Immunity is a beautiful thing.

She stayed out of day care a few days (two of which with Remi and his mom watching her), but luckily was able to go back for the Carnaval celebration. It’s part of the pre-Easter festivals, like Carnaval in Venice, and the children dress up for the occasion. This year’s theme was animals at the zoo. I joked that Juliette should have been an animal with spots, but her sitter dressed her as a zebra. Here you can see her parading around with the yellow solution we had to put on her spots.

As for myself, my “pleasant” head cold of last week became sinusitis. A round of antibiotics and cortisone and I’m doing better, though still feeling some sinus pressure. Each week seems to be a copy/paste of the last since winter started. Baby sick, or me sick. Let’s hope the cycle will soon be broken!

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Sniffles and stuff

Sometimes I like having a little head cold. It centers me. I walk more slowly and deliberately, I take time for a cup of tea after work. I say, we’ll eat quick stuff instead of something elaborate. I sit on the couch longer and give Juliette more attention because I don’t want to get up and do something else. Wouldn’t it be great if I could be like this all the time, but minus the sinus pressure and sore throat?

However, the night’s a different story, especially as Remi’s sick, too. We whisper sweet nothings, genre, “do you want some Vicks (Vaporub)?” (By the way, I’m getting “I “heart” Vicks” t-shirts printed up if anyone’s interested.) Or, “don’t you think you need some cough syrup?” “Where’s my bleepin’ Kleenex?” “Maybe you should blow your nose.” And I don’t sleep well because I can’t breathe so much through my nose. And I couldn’t even nap well (which I really deserved in my puny state) for the same reason.

Hopefully the cold and flu season of 2009-10 should be winding down soon. We’ve had more than our fair share, especially little Juliette. But just as you think things should be going better, with longer days and a bit more sun, your body (and mind) can start playing tricks on you again. My doctor said that this transition between winter and spring actually can make us feel out of sorts and anxious. Our bodies are responding to the signals from nature and our circadian or daily rhythms must readjust. We’re more linked to nature than we realize, even if we don’t hibernate like bears. So don’t think it’s all in your head, and take care of yourselves over these next few weeks.

Murphy’s Law- Baby Version

1. If you need to get up early the next day, baby will cry at least three times at night, and at least one of those times just 30 minutes before you were supposed to wake up anyway.

2. If you can sleep late (‘cause it’s the weekend), baby will decide to wake up early, e.g. 6:30.

3. If you just changed her diaper, she will have a poopy one immediately after.

4. If you’re late for work, she will have a poopy diaper seconds before you need to walk out the door.

5. If you forget her bib when you go on an outing, she will be super messy that day.

6. If you give her a toy, she will always want the book/piece of food/remote control that YOU have.

7. If you buy her expensive toys, she will prefer the boxes they came in (I didn’t make this one up but it’s so true).

8. If you dress her particularly cute that day, she will get her clothes very dirty.

9. If you spend time making her a great home-made meal, she’ll just pick at it and ask for a cookie.

10. If she comes down with a high fever, it will be outside of normal doctor’s hours.

And so as not to totally scare off any would-be parents out there…

11. If you bend down to clean up dried cat throw-up, she’ll choose that moment to hug you.

(Curly hair just after a bath.)

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

A brief moment of calm

Cat and baby not screaming. Savor the moment. Juliette's interpretation of The Very Hungry Caterpillar.