(Almost) 16 Month Bedtime Boot Camp

Spencer woke up at 10:30 last night sans any discernible discomfort, hunger, or any other issue. After 2 noble but failed attempts by Jonathan to get him back to sleep and after Motrin was administered for the teething pain I'd imagined must be unbearable, it was my turn. I rocked him for no less than 2 minutes before he was clawing his way out of the glider and saying, "Mmmm Mmmm" (translation: Movie).

So as any no nonsense, well-seasoned, "love must be tough" parent would do, I let him pull me into the living room by my finger and then proceeded to turn on a dvd for him to watch--still imaging his teeth were hurting so excruciatingly as to keep him from sleeping. Also, I reasoned, I really needed to watch him for a little bit longer to make sure he didn't seem to be sick in any other way. Halfway into the first movie, it became crystal clear that he felt fine. He would have watched movies all night if I'd let him.

An hour later--once the Motrin should have been in full-force to treat all the imagined maladies plaguing my innocent toddler--I took him back to his room. He threw a fit and tried to get down. I've decided it's ridiculous to hold him down to rock him. So, I put him in his crib, told him it was time for "night night," walked out, and braced myself for the ensuing temper tantrum. He fussed, yelped, and cried for forty-five minutes until he finally fell asleep. There were a couple of times that he was quiet for about 5 minutes, where I'd be almost positive he'd given it up, but noooo. When the whole ordeal came to a close, it was 1 am.

Now, he'd been demanding curtain calls from Jonathan at nights rather frequently lately. I would tuck him in, and then he'd fuss pretty hard for ten minutes or so. Our main concern is not the fussing, but the fact that every now and then he won't go to sleep and it's because he's had a dirty diaper. I can't bear the thought of him having to fall asleep with feces all over his bottom--and remaining there all night! So, neither of us were loving the extra tuck-in time, but it seemed worth it to safeguard against the dreaded physical and psychological damage that must certainly ensue if your child sleeps all night in a dirty diaper.

However, Spencer unknowingly sealed his fate when he started refusing to nap at his regular time. He's been doing it off and on for a couple of weeks now. He'd fuss and push and play and scream for as long as he possibly could before he'd finally crash (way too late in the day) for a nap--further complicating his night time routine. We'd had this down pat for so long, that at first I was looking at certain days as isolated events, instead of seeing them as a behavioral trend. Either I'd worked the day before, or we had company over and he wanted to be in on it, or Jonathan put him down and he was waiting 'til I got home so I would do it, etc. etc. But in the middle of our midnight viewing of Veggie Tales, I saw the light--this had to end.

I think the sudden sleep-aversion must be part of a bunch of new developmental milestones. He also started shaking his head "no," this week, and apparently he'd decided to "just say no" to sleeping as well. Jonathan and I were just talking about how he seemed so much older almost over night. Apparently it was time to re-learn how this whole sleeping thing goes at the Kelley house.

So, nap time today was no problem due to the hangover from our impromptu bunkin' party last night. For good measure we also took him to the park this morning, to get him good and worn out. Nap time was on time, no fighting, no problem. Tonight bed time was set up to model the atonement--once for all. Spencer did cry and fuss for about fifteen or twenty minutes. (This from my child who hasn't cried at bedtime ever...now staying asleep was always a different story). It was reminiscent of last night's theatrics, but not nearly as bad. Then, all of a sudden, right on cue, rang the sound of silence. I'm hopeful that he's "cured," but willing to do this for as long as it takes.

Even as I'm typing I'm telling myself that he does not have a dirty diaper. If he does, a much different, penitent, anguished-mother post will follow tomorrow. But only time will tell. I hold this truth to be self-evident: it is important for all of us to have our alone time. More now than ever. I don't claim to "know" many things for sure, but this is one thing that you can't persuade me otherwise. I need sleep, in my bed, for many hours at a time. And he needs the same thing at this point in his life. So, and I know this is no surprise to many of you, I'm fightin' for it.

PS--I know Spencer very well. I am not only his mother, but his primary care-giver since birth. In his short fifteen months, we've spent a great quantity of time together. Some of it could be called "quality" I guess...I don't know how you'd label the rest of it. But it's always met minimum standards. I know how he acts when he does not feel good, even when I can't tell exactly what is wrong, and I would never ignore that sort of behavior to get him to take a nap or go to bed at a certain time.

A Story That Should Be Told

In the Spring of 2007, I did some minimal gardening in our front flower beds. There are a million different things that you can plant. There was no amount of research or sun-amount observing that could help me make the final, crucial decision of how to spend the $8 I hoped to use to magically make the front flowerbeds look fabulous. An elderly lady previously owned our home and spent what must have been a respectable chunk of money to landscape the front and back yards to help sell the house. For this I am eternally grateful. However, because of this, I felt that the pressure was on. I desperately did not want to be "those people" who moved in and dropped the ball on the landscaping upkeep.

So, armed with my knowledge of everything and nothing involving what I needed and/or wanted to buy, I threw caution to the wind and purchased two green, leafy, plants that were so short I couldn't get their roots underground without covering some of their foliage as well. The little plastic, vertical sign said it all: "Dwarf Banana Plant." Why, you ask, would I choose this particular plant? Well, I have always loved the ocean and in turn all things tropical or anything that in any way evokes images of the beach or the ocean or peace or calm or sunny days or breeze....you get the idea. So, since there was no way to make a "right" decision (can you tell that this bothered me?) I made the second best one--I made a tropical decision. I disregarded the fact that neither our yard, nor our house, nor our geographic location has anything to do with the stereotypical "tropical" foliage, and I planted them.

I planted them sometime after the last frost date. This is a date that varies depending on which "zone" or part of the country you live in. It is known to most people who plant more than two things in their yard per year. It's also a date which I have already forgotten. It's ok, because my mother knows this date, and it is my firm conviction that it is useless for us to duplicate knowledge. She knows some things; I know some things. Why should we both know all the same things? What a waste. All that to say, the date is sometime in the spring. I probably planted them Mid-April. Maybe May.

So spring came and went, and summer did the same, and eventually it had been at least six months since I'd gotten my hands a little dirty, and taken part in something horticultural. Turns out that this story could also be entitled, "The Dwarf Banana Plants That Could," because in November 2007--the same year I'd planted them--I had to ask my mom and one of my sisters, as well as my mom's shovel, to help me un-plant what I had done.

It appears that "Dwarf Banana Plant" was somewhat of a misnomer. If it were named "Dwarf Banana Tree, " I would feel as if I'd been fairly warned. These were relatively small for trees.

So much for not being "those people" who let all manner of crazy grow in their flowerbeds for months on end with no pruning, trimming, or other sort of manicuring. After much hard work (and a short photo shoot for posterity) the three of us managed to fell one of the "plants." Then we wisely and shamelessly enlisted Jonathan to do the rest of the manual labor. (Such a lucky guy). He managed to get the second one down, and then went on to get them both bagged for trash pick up. We had to wait a few more months before we--and by "we" I mean Jonathan--could get the remaining stumps out of the ground.

Mom's hand is in the picture to help you with scale.

Good times with gardening. Now you know what not to plant this spring. Glad to be of help.

And no, they never produced any bananas--maybe if we'd waited 'til New Years'.


Spencer Here

Hello, friends--Spencer here. I told Mom it was about time she let me be a guest blogger. I've really got to get some more exposure if I'm ever going to land a gig like that E-trade baby.

Lately I've noticed a few Easter-looking goodies stuffed up in the top of Mom's closet, and I'm thinkin' they're for me. I remember last year when I was relegated to watching Parker hunt eggs. I really wanted to be in on the fun.

From what I could tell, there was actually stuff inside that you could eat. I could not for the life of me get my egg open. I think Mom was holding out on me.

Anyway, this year I'm going to dominate that egg hunt. I'll get to practice at my church and then wow the grandparents Easter Sunday. I love a good round of applause.

Now, this is what I wore on Easter last year. It was the most "baby-ish" thing my mom ever put me in. I don't know that I really minded, but I'm hoping for something a little more manly this year so that I can impress all the ladies.

I'll let you know how it all goes down. I'm pretty excited. I do love some Dove Dark Chocolate.


(Very) Short Stories from the Life of Spencer

Chapter 2: The Month of March

I know most parents are convinced that their child is brilliant, talented, supremely creative, and the most beautiful ever created. I am no exception. However, Spencer has garnered quite a following of people, all who believe the same as I do and only 1 of them also happens to be his parent. All the more amazing is how he manages to keep me enamored amidst his most "challenging" days.

Every time I begin to fear that my delicate psyche will not tolerate one more increasingly loud demand or devastatingly hard bonk life begins to plateau. Spencer's health has been good this past week, which makes a world of difference in his demeanor! Who among us is any different?

Spencer has added another dance step to his repertoire, it's a hard to describe but hilarious to experience little stompy run. He has reserved it, for the most part, for celebratory stomping; but he has pulled it out a time or two in order to exaggeratedly display his displeasure. More blonde, crazy curls have made their debut this month, particularly after a nice, long (sweaty) nap--just a head full of craziness! The curls really do seem indicative of his personality right now, which makes them even more precious, but enough about his dancing prowess and beauty

As far as his unparalleled intelligence, I'll let you be the judge. I walked into the living room one day and saw his magnetic Leapfrog toy (intended to be used on the refrigerator) stuck to our fiberglass door, along with all the accompanying pieces. I automatically assumed Jonathan or my mom had figured out it would work on the door and put it their to see if that would entice Spencer to actually play with it. I mentioned it to Jonathan, and he said he thought Spencer did it. I seriously doubted that, especially because ALL the pieces were on the door.

I could imagine a scenario where Spencer randomly stuck one or two pieces up there, but I couldn't imagine him carrying them from the kitchen, one by one into the living room and placing each one, individually on the door. We're talking 8 small pieces and 1 large, music playing piece--9 things in all. Toddlers are supposed to have short attention spans, and from the way he begs me to change out his DVD's every 3 minutes, I have regarded this a truism.

In the past, I've only ever seen him knock the pieces off of the refrigerator with large sweeping arm motions and then walk away, leaving them all over the floor. His play with this toy had been solely destructive. And, even if he had decided to add a constructive twist to the day, I'd first have to be convinced that he was the one who figured out the door was magnetic. I mean, I think he's smart and all, but that's quite a stretch. So, the next time I talked to my mom I asked her when she had showed him that little trick. She says she didn't have anything to do with it. Should we call MENSA yet?

Now, in order to present you with a fair and balanced picture of Spencer during his fifteenth month, I feel compelled to include this little gem. He is convinced that the covers of his board books (both front and back) are somehow adhered to currently un-viewable pages. This inexplicable adhesion has really angered him this month. He sits there and tries desperately to peel the front cover apart (it is thicker than the other pages), and then, if I can convince him to go on and give the subsequent pages a chance, once we make it to the last page and the back cover, he gets angry all over again. He is positive that the world is conspiring to hide from him all those pages that are attached to the front and back covers of his books. Much screaming, peeling, and crying has resulted from this unfounded paranoia. Needless to say, I haven't really pushed the books this month. I may have been doing the opposite.

As was discussed in my previous post, the first part of March gave us the opportunity to play host to a hitherto unexperienced variation of the GI virus. I knew something was wrong with Spencer when he ran into my room in the morning after Jonathan got him out of bed. (That part was normal). I pulled him up on the bed, where he usually gives me a tiny snuggle and then demands I assume my role of his personal servant for the remainder of the day. Instead he wanted to play with the remote control on my bedside table. (This wasn't totally out of the ordinary). He proceeded to turn on my "mmmmm mmmmm" (movie) and watched it, completely motionless for a full 5-7 minutes. This is not normal. Funnier still, it was Gilmore Girls. I had a little guilt, since that show "is not for babies," but the whole situation was so strange I had no intention of putting it to an end. I had to see how long he'd watch it (you know, for the book I will someday write that will be filled with rock solid data and spine tingling analysis such as this).

Spencer did hit a particularly golden milestone this month--he let his Nana put him to bed at night. Yes, this was the first time. And he slept 'til morning. He has let his Gigi put him to bed a few times, but he would usually wake up a few hours later (for a mommy check?). I was disproportionately ecstatic about this occurrence. It's exhausting to feel like you are the only one who can put your child to bed at night. Now, he will let Jonathan put him to bed, but this occurs infrequently and usually involves something akin to the aforementioned GI virus. Plus, it's not much help if you are attempting a date night and the only other person your child will go to bed for is your husband (unless your date nights feature people other than your husband--but this isn't that sort of blog).

Spencer's passion for toilet bowl water has certainly blossomed this month. I am hoping to channel it into a love for playing in a plastic pool in the backyard for hours upon end this summer. But, meanwhile, I'm trying to keep all valuables up high and the bathroom doors continually closed. Last night I realized that he had put my hair brush in the toilet the day before (along with his passy, which I caught him trying to fish out) and then I'd set it on the bathroom counter to sanitize. Instead of following through with my plan the next morning, I jumped out of bed, hopped in the shower, and then used the brush to fix my hair. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why I should never shower first thing in the morning. I'm just not all there yet. Try back around 10 am. Lesson we learn from this: clean all potty items immediately (I tossed the passy).

Well, we haven't even touched on Spencer's disposal of Jonathan's Ipod (we're guessing trash, but it could have fallen victim to the toilet as well) or his impressive 60 second record for ingesting entire mini bananas, but I feel as if I might be losing momentum. Always stop while they're still interested, right?



This year, our family involuntarily gave up health and normalcy for the first half of Lent. I knew we had gone to the bad place when my precious little 15 month old signed "more" after his first dropper full of infant Tylenol. (He gets .4 plus .8, so you have to administer it twice.) When, after the second dropper full, he signed "finished,” the thought occurred to me that this routine had become all too familiar.

In an effort to make lemonade from the multiple lemons we’ve encountered called “viruses,” I floated the idea to God that it’d be great if all these “little” sicknesses were building my immunity to the point that after a few more months at this rate I should have been exposed to most of the “best” that Central Arkansas has to offer. Holding to the idea that what doesn’t kill me will only make me stronger, I think I should be the strongest I’ve ever been very soon.

Now, I do realize that the above paragraph represents wishful, na├»ve thinking, and that I have not even hit the tip of the ice burg of childhood illnesses, rather we are just skimming past the small chunks of ice that lay miles and miles away from it, signaling that although you can’t yet see it, it’s looming in the distance. And for the most part, I’m okay with that. I knew it was part of the deal. I can handle most of the pestilence with grace--humidifiers, fussiness, Tylenol, fluids, and lazy days around the house in order to keep our germs to ourselves.
There is really just one pesky microbe that I do not take in stride. There is one that I dread like the plague. This is the gastrointestinal type. If there is a GI bug within 100 miles of my person, my immune system courts it, begging it to break down its measly defenses in order to come hang out at my house. And then the fun begins. I can honestly say that few things are as mentally trying to me as being nauseated. And there is nothing you can do about it. The virus will run its course. 

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered that not everyone’s immune system invites these sorts of maladies. I have friends that have little to no recollection of ever throwing up. Wow. That’s all I can say.

I will spare you the details of the virus' successful attack, dismantling any and all attempts to be a functioning human being, and jump ahead to the recovery time, including lots of Clorox wipes, hot water washes for all textiles contacted, and feelings of general overwhelm-ment regarding how behind you are in every area of life. And, in my case, there is that none-too-subtle reminder that the only difference between this and being pregnant is that when you’re pregnant, you are still expected to go places and talk to people because technically you’re as healthy as they come. That and duration. Successful pregnancies last much longer than GI viruses. And you actually gain weight, and are required to eat, and the ending is more painful...but I digress.

I will now be spending the second half of Lent attempting to give up worrying about the next pregnancy and meditating on the fact that pain and sickness, though intangible, are nonetheless very real things.
Up next, fun Spencer stories.