Tuesday, August 26, 2008

as god is my witness, I'll never go sleepless again (until tomorrow)

Being sick, teething, entering the "terrible twos" (at 14 months, a bit early I think) - sometimes it's hard being Vivian. She's been fighting a cold for the last week, and there really is nothing sadder than a baby who just wants to nurse, but can't get more than a suck or two because she can't breathe through her nose. She gets so frustrated (because really, wouldn't you?) and then the tantrums start.

And oh, the tantrums.

Vivian has quite a set of lungs on her. She does not have a high-pitched scream. Oh no. When she gets worked up, she lets loose a throaty, loud and wild wail. Oh my god.

Sunday, Viv developed a fever. Not too high, say 101 degrees, but no one feels good when they have a fever. Fortunately, after she's had a dose of Tylenol, she cools down into her laid-back, happy-go-lucky self. I actually felt kind of bad that I couldn't take her somewhere like the park where she could have fun, because I didn't want to expose other kids to whatever Viv had.

Monday, Viv woke up still warm with a low-grade fever (100 degrees). We probably could have given her Tylenol and sent her to daycare, but if her fever came back after the medicine wore off, we would have had to pick her up and keep her out of daycare today. So instead, I stayed home for the morning while Richard went to work, and then he came home after lunch so I could head in to the office. Vivian seemed to be feeling fine, but the flip side of this feeling good was that she would not nap. She took one 40-minute catnap around 10:45 a.m. and then nothing for the rest of the day. This napless situation did not bode well for me. When I got home a little after 6 p.m., Rich took off for kickball. I hoped that Vivian would fall asleep while nursing, but no suck luck. She just popped up, with eyes that were just a little too bright and had a look that said "OK, now let's go PLAY!"

Everything seemed to be actually fine until it was time for bed. Between 8:30 and 9:15 p.m., I made 3 attempts to put her to bed. I was really hoping for no confrontation, but after the 2nd time she slipped out of my arms to run around like a mad woman, I had to put her in her crib crying for Daddy ("Daddadaddadaddadadda!") and wailing loudly enough I had to close the windows so as not to get the cops called on me.

She woke up again at 12:30 a.m. and would not go back to sleep by herself. I had to go back in and nurse her to sleep (and then stand next to the crib until she finally went back down). At 2 a.m., she woke up screaming again, and Richard brought her into our bed. At 3 a.m., she woke up again, and could not be soothed. No fever, but my only guess was teething pain (she's been clutching her mouth a lot). We gave her some Tylenol, but by that time, Vivian was awake, and did not want to go back to sleep. We tried for over an hour to calm her down before I gave up and put her back in her crib as she again cried for Daddy. Richard had never heard her do that before, and it just tore him up inside. She fell asleep (or I fell asleep to her cries - I honestly don't know) and stayed asleep until 8 a.m.

It should then come as no surprise that I look like hell this morning. I don't want to preemptively drug my child with Tylenol just so I can get some shut-eye, but oh god, I need to do something. I know this is just a phase, because we've gone through them before, and come out the other side where she sleeps for 6-8 hours in her crib peacefully, and settles down easily. I can't wait until we get there again.

Until then, excuse me while I catch a nap in my car.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

she's a great pumpkin!

Originally uploaded by Handy Crafts

Vivian has taken to pulling her blankie over her head and walking all over the house, and then bumping into furniture as she shuffles along like a Charlie Brown in his ghost costume. She thinks this is great fun. In this photo, she picked up a button down shirt of mine and pulled it over her head and ran around before collapsing on the ground.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

'cause knowledge is power!

What determines if a child will enjoy reading? Is it exposure to books, genetics, an early attachment to LeVar Burton?

I don't know what it is, but it seems that Richard and I have created a reader. Vivian loves books. Most of the time, she would rather read her books than play with her toys.

One day a week or two ago, Richard went to pick Vivian up from daycare, and when he walked into the playroom, he didn't see her. The rest of the kids were playing with toys, but Vivian was no where to be seen. Until he turned around, and looked in the ground-level book cubbies. Vivian had crawled in, and with her back to the class, had settled down to read a book. When Richard looked at the teacher with a slightly puzzled look on his face, she laughed and said, "Oh Vivian does that all the time!"

Every morning, she brings us a book that we read at least three times before we leave for daycare. In the evening, she bounces back and forth between us, bringing us books, and then crawling in our laps to be read to (absolutely my favorite thing she does -- it just melts my heart). In the average day, we probably read 7-8 books, and each one is read at least 2-3 times.

We did start reading to Vivian early, beginning before she could sit up, when all she wanted to do was eat the books instead of read them. And I think it's important for her to learn by example, by seeing us read our own books for pleasure. Much of the reading I've done in the last year has been done while breastfeeding.

But when she started to show a real interest in books, I was sort of at a loss to find appropriate books for her. Not that there is a shortage of children's books out there, but I wanted to find books that were stimulating and engaging that Viv would love and that I wouldn't hate by the time they were read for the 47th time. Many of the fantastic books I remembered from childhood ("Where the Wild Things Are," Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs," "George & Martha," among others) were a bit too long and too involved to hold Vivian's attention. Once we already had the Dr. Seuss and Eric Carle board books, I wasn't sure where to look for other book ideas.

And then I found an awesome guide to books for Vivian's age group, "
Reading with Babies, Toddlers and Twos." I picked it up on a whim at the LA Public Library store 50% off sale. For any parents out there, I cannot recommend this book highly enough. There are lists of recommended books (from actual kids of varying ages). There are also lists for kids with different interests and temperments (i.e., for the child that loves animals, cars, etc.) Here's a blurb from the book that describes what's inside:

Research shows that the number of different words a baby hears each day is the single most important predictor of later intelligence, school success and social competence. But what exactly should you read when?
- What do you buy after you've bought Goodnight Moon?

- Why should you read to a baby who can't even sit?
- How are you going to read to a baby who just found his feet--and won't stop trying them out?

- How often should you read to your baby to make sure she's ready for preschool?

Through this book, we've discovered Vivian's new favorite author/illustrator, Helen Oxenbury (how weird is it that I can say that a 13-month-old has a favorite author, and not choke on my own pretension?). We started with "
Clap Hands," a simple, 8-page board book that has warm and colorful illustrations of roly-poly babies. She became obsessed. No other books existed for her. Guessing that that was a good sign, we added* "Tickle, Tickle," "All Fall Down," and "Say Goodnight." She loves them all, and often pulls them out of her bookshelf and plops down to "read" all by herself.

Vivian is just now starting to make the transition to longer books, but I think these Oxenbury books will be with us for a long time. A new book that we've added to rotation is "
How Do Dinosaurs Say Goodnight?" While Vivian may not understand the concept of dinsosaurs yet, she does love the beautiful drawings and lyrical rhythmic text. And I just discovered that it's part of a whole "How Do Dinosaurs..." series. We may have found the additions to Vivian's library.

So, do you have recommendations for children's books? Either ones your kids/nieces/nephews/grandkids love or ones you remember from your childhood?

*In this tight economy, I'm really trying to reduce our trips to the bookstore while still making books avilable. While I do hope to instill a healthy love of the public library once she's a bit older, it's not very practical at this stage. Vivian loves the repetition of familiar books, so having to return the books after a couple of weeks wouldn't be too popular. So instead, I'm using my credits on
Paperback Swap (having unloaded several books I didn't need) to pick up these children's books. Free books! (or mostly free, I have to pay for postage for the books I send to others, but it's still a great deal)