Our family is growing in many ways... Growing in numbers, knowledge, parenting skills, growing in love, in our faith, growing our culinary skills (if you can call it that), growing without gluten (some of us), growing green...........

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Back from Vacation... Kind of.

Meaning it was kind of a vacation, not that we're kind of back...though I guess that could be true in a sense, as well. ;)

One of my closest friends just got married. In Florida. We've been friends longer than...well, any other friend I've had. We're those friends that were always inseparable up through high school and have been through a lot together, and even though we don't talk as regularly these days, when we do, it's like we just pick up where we left off. He still lives in KY, but they got married on the beach in FL, and there wasn't a question as to whether or not we would be there. We even pulled Camden out of school to go. I don't think he would have forgiven me if he hadn't gone. Mark is Camden's godfather, and Camden just has this connection with him. He looks up to Mark so much and thinks the world of him. (Me, too. His friendship means the world to me.) :)

So, anyway...off we went. And while we were at it, we figured we would take a few days to enjoy the beach.

The trip altogether actually wasn't the best "vacation" we've had. We drove through the night to get there, as it was 12 hours of driving not including stops. It took us 15 hours going there... We woke the boys to leave around 10:30pm Tuesday evening, and Aiden thought it was time to wake up and play once in the car, so he was up for another hour. We couldn't help but laugh, thinking it would be our luck that he would just stay awake, but he did eventually go to sleep. Then he woke at 2am throwing up all over the place...and thought he had to stay up for another hour to play once we finally had things cleaned up enough to get back on the road. I didn't sleep much in the car when Ryan drove, which is pretty typical for me. Once we arrived Wednesday afternoon, we realized that the memory card for the good camera was still at home in the computer. I was ready to freak out, but Ryan went and bought a new one after I explained that no, we couldn't just not take pictures. Hello...it was Mark's wedding! (Him buying a new one worked for me, since he's the one that told me he had gotten all of the camera things together...) Then when changing Aiden's diaper right after we arrived, that little kiddo kicked my hand just the right way and caused me to spill some melted coconut oil ALL over the place, including his body and my jeans (good thing that stuff isn't like regular oil and washes right out!). We found out the water was out in the room after unpacking EVERYthing, but luckily it was only for a couple of hours, so we didn't need to switch rooms. After a day and a half, we realized Ryan was having a bad reaction to being out in the sun...and finally put together it was because he was still on antibiotics and shouldn't have mixed the two. This meant he couldn't be in direct sunlight, so...some things weren't as fun for him (or the rest of us at times). I had a cold and woke up every morning with a sore throat that sometimes went away but most days didn't. We discovered that a restaurant with a sign claiming it is "Kid friendly" does not mean they have changing tables and other restaurants make all of their pasta and pizza dough with eggs, meaning you may just have to walk out if your child is allergic b/c there is nothing for him to eat.

It seemed like our whole vacation was full of little things like this. But we still managed to have fun and enjoy the trip. We saw dolphins the first morning we were at the beach (at 8am since they are an hour behind, meaning Aiden woke up at 4:30am Destin-time!). We also saw rays swimming around Camden the next day... Those things were everywhere. The weather was wonderful, though a bit too hot the last couple days, and there was no rain. (It always seems to rain when we go to the beach.) Aiden was so well-behaved when eating out. That's normal, but we ate out a lot, so we were very impressed. (I think we need to detox now, as well. All that eating out...ugh.) The kids both were great in general, really. We hit the breakfast buffet at the hotel as soon as it opened every day, and the lady working just loved Aiden and would bring him (& Camden) oranges...which he LOVES. It was nice to be met with a friendly face each morning. We also got to have lunch with Mark & Kelly the day before their wedding. And I saw some friends at the wedding that I haven't seen in years!

And the most important part of the trip, the whole reason we were there...the wedding. It was beautiful, of course! It really was. It was more than we expected for a beach wedding, and we had a lot of fun, even if we spent a lot of the night chasing after Aiden, who was RUNNING everywhere he could. You could see how happy the newlyweds were and couldn't help grinning for them all night long.

We left last night at 9:30 our time (8:30 beach-time) and arrived home about 14 hours later... The trip home wasn't as involved as the trip there. No kids throwing up or trying to play all night long. Aiden did have one hour where he really struggled with sleeping, but we were in an area with a lot of stop lights instead of the interstate. Other than that, the kids slept really well. Ryan and I struggled sleeping when it was our turn, but we managed and made it home all in one piece. As much as driving through the night might not be the most pleasant for us, it certainly has its benefits, and we'll be doing it more often, I'm sure! Our road trips aren't usually too short, and this really helped Aiden deal with being in the car for such long periods.

Of course, I took a bunch of pictures on the trip. I tend to go everywhere with a camera, but I only uploaded a fraction of what I took. You can see the most post-worthy here:
2010 Destin, FL Beach Trip - Mark & Kelly's Wedding

Monday, May 17, 2010

Things aren't always black and white

One of my friends posted a link to an article about children and racism on facebook today. It reminded me of a story I've wanted to share but keep forgetting.

When Camden was younger, I really tried to teach him that everyone was the same, regardless of color, sex, or anything else. It was an effort I made intentionally. I've always tried to make sure he is exposed to people with many differences instead of only having him spend time around people that are similar to him, in whatever way. When I went back to school and became a student at Berea College, I really appreciated the diversity of the student body. That's one of the many things Berea College is known for, and I knew it was an incredible benefit for my child to be exposed to people of so many different races, from so many different countries.

Another aspect of BC is that every student has to work on campus as part of its labor program. Freshman year, I was placed in the library cleaning. Our boss was a wonderful lady that I still keep in touch with, and she would always have tons of baked goods at our meetings. At one meeting, Camden was with me, and we were sitting across from two other BC students. They happened to be black. One had darker skin, the other lighter.

I can't remember the question at this time...but I clearly remember that Camden was saying he liked one better than the other because it was a lighter brown. I remember the boys both kind of trying to laugh it off a bit, and I definitely squirmed in my seat, quite embarrassed. Was he saying he liked someone better because they had lighter skin?? Was this my son making a racist comment??

It wasn't.

My son was talking about the types of fudge that were on the table in between me and the other boys. There was some chocolate fudge (dark brown) and peanut butter fudge (light brown). He wasn't talking about the people in the room at all. He was simply saying he liked the peanut butter fudge better, but he didn't realize why they were different other than the colors!

What did this show me? A lot. Mainly, the rest of us were so ready to assume that a simple comment was a racial one. We were quick to assume that a child was talking about the color of someone's skin before we even let him finish or show what he was talking about...which was right in front of our faces. This wasn't just ME assuming this, it was the other two boys, as well. The child in the scenario, the one making the comment, did nothing wrong and made no negative remarks. It was the adults that so easily jumped to race.

This was an eye-opening experience that has stuck with me. It reminded me that children often see past things like the color of someone's skin, and comments that have nothing to do with race can often and easily be mistaken as such. Why? Because that is what we often (and sadly) expect. Children are so innocent. They *learn* what they are taught. Racism doesn't just happen naturally on its own.

As parents, we have a lot of power when it comes to what our children learn. I try to make conscious decisions in many regards to ensure that my children are exposed to a variety of different people, places, beliefs, ideas. I want them exposed to great diversity. I don't want them going to all-white schools or schools where everyone is in a similar SES. I don't want to live in a neighborhood where all of our neighbors look the same. I do not want them to ignore that there are different races and colors of skin, eyes, hair, whatever. No. Differences are to be celebrated! Differences lead to learning, as well. I do want them to see that each and every one of us has differences as well as similarities...and that while they might like fudge that is lighter or darker in color...the color of someone's skin means absolutely nothing in regards to whether that person should be valued more or less than another.


Saturday was a very long but also a very exciting day. It was Camden's soccer tournament - both the semi-finals and the final game. Camden's team went into the semi-finals undefeated. This was Camden's last season with this team, as he'll age out in the summer. It was extremely hot, and we were out all day in the hot, hot sun. They won the semi-finals 2-0.

In the finals (playing one of his best friends!), they had a tied game, still tied in overtime, then a shootout, which always means lots of tension...and the Rapids came away the CHAMPIONS!!

They were also the only team in the entire Holly Springs league (not just their age group) to go through their entire season undefeated! Needless to say Camden has ONE happy boy since Saturday, and we are so proud of him! I have to admit that this mama teared up some and had to choke back tears when they won. I didn't want to go embarrassing him as the mom that was crying, but I was so proud of him and just so stinking excited for him! This is something he has really wanted and worked hard for since starting to play soccer, so it was a really big deal. It's his first time winning in the championship game, though his teams have come close many times - it was always just out of reach! :) It was quite a long day - basically out at the park from 8:30-3-something, with a break between the two games for lunch! But it was worth it! Even Aiden did extremely well, not getting fussy at all (he napped a bit when we came home for lunch, but Ryan had to wake him to come to the finals b/c we forgot he had the lawn chairs!).

After all this soccer hoopla, Aiden is becoming quite the fan, too! You might notice from all the soccer pictures throughout the regular photo albums online that Aiden always wears a soccer outfit to the games. Gotta support big brother! :) He started trying to say soccer recently, though it would come out "sock-ball!" instead of soccer ball. Throughout Saturday, he evolved from saying that to saying "soccer!"...and he says it ALL the time now! His other saying of the day on Saturday: "GO!" He would cheer from the sidelines and tell Camden and his team "GO!" as loud as he could. He has been carrying around this little soccer bouncy ball ever since he came across it a few days ago and has become inseparable from it. If he somehow looses sight of it, he walks around saying "Soccer?? Where go?" He says it in the cutest voice ever, holding his hands out, palms up, like he doesn't know where it is. I think we might have another soccer player on our hands...

Here is the link to some pics, if you're interested.
Camden's Soccer Tournament

A BIG congrats to Camden and his team, the Rapids. They had a stellar season this year, and I know Camden is thrilled to have ended his time with this team on such a great note!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Considering Ourselves Lucky

This morning started off pretty typical. Aiden woke earlier than we wanted, but later than usual at 6am. I tried to put him back down and went back to my bed. He was quiet for a few minutes and then started playing, indicating he was up for the day. After a while, Daddy went to get him and bring him to me to nurse. What was different was that he showed up with Aiden only wearing his pajama shirt.... Hmm.

My first question to Ryan: Did he poop?
His response: I don't know. It was too dark to see.

I've heard way too many stories of parents finding out their child could take off their diaper by finding them in the crib, dirty diaper by their side, and poop smeared EVERYwhere. That was my fear and what my mind immediately jumped to.... Of course, I usually hear this from people that didn't have some kind of pants on over the diaper, so the child just undid the diaper tabs and easily took off the diaper. I thought we were immune for a little longer, since we don't do that. Apparently they can figure out how to take those pants off at some age, though. Imagine that. ;) We'll go back to wearing onesies under those two piece pajamas, I guess. (Off topic, just last week, Aiden took his shirt off while he was supposed to be going to sleep, too. After I put it back on, he got it stuck over his head - his arms still in the arm holes but the rest of the shirt was pulled over his head and around the back of his neck. After that, I left the shirt off.)

When we went back into the room, the diaper tabs were still where they would have been if he had the diaper on, and they were still in the pajama pants, indicating he had pushed them off together. There was one tiny piece of poop lying on the sheet. Nice.

BUT...upon looking into the diaper, there was a much larger than normal amount of poop INSIDE it. He most likely did not even touch the poop that was loose in the crib. It most likely was still attached to another area and fell off...if you know what I mean. (Haha! Are you picturing that? Gross. Ha.) Considering the fact that what was in the diaper was more than usual and that he had managed to take all of that off while keeping it IN the diaper...we're considering ourselves very, very lucky.

Just one more reason we can't leave him sitting in his crib while we try to snooze a bit more. (We've learned that if he doesn't go down to sleep within a small amount of time, he will poop. I guess that now goes for when he wakes up, too...)

I'm sure you can sit back and enjoy a good laugh now. And be happy your child hasn't done it.


Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's Day!

To all the moms and moms-to-be out there: HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY!

I'm so appreciative of all of my mommy friends... I love that I know so many other moms that are there to show support and encouragement, to offer words of wisdom and advice, to accept the different ways we parent and learn from one another, to be there to listen when we need to vent and to simply offer an ear and a bit of understanding without judgment, and all the other wonderful things we are able to bring to our friendships. Being a mother is such an adventure, and it's so nice to be able to share it with other moms.

My children...words cannot express what becoming a mother has done for me and to me. I always felt I was born to be a mother. Whether I'm all that great at the job is hard for me to say, but the love I have for my children is overwhelming in a way that only other mothers could ever understand. Even on the most frustrating days, being a mother is still the most rewarding experience. That's all I'm going to say now, as I'm already tearing up...

One of my favorite pics of me and my mom - at my cousin's wedding in 2003.

And an especially Happy Mother's Day to my own mom, who has been the most amazing blessing in my life. She is absolutely incredible in my eyes. Nobody is stronger, more beautiful, and just simply more amazing than she is. I love you, Mom.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Twenty-one months

I've been working on this for over a week. Blogger keeps deleting things! Ugh. But here it is...

  • Lining things up. And when I say "lining things up," I mean he is showing some perfectionist tendencies. (He comes by that honestly...from BOTH parents.) The lining up is usually with his cars (any and all of them), and if they aren't exactly how he wants, he will nudge them into the right place a bit at a time. We'll find things lined up all over the place...

An example of things being lined up. This was in April, and he's gotten even better at it since then. More "perfect" lines and all...
  • His Bible. Aiden got his new Bible for Easter, and he's basically been inseparable from it ever since. He takes the thing EVERYwhere he goes - to the potty (yes), to the car, in the stroller, to the store, the zoo...everywhere. It's about the only book he ever wants to read, whether he's reading to himself or having us read to him. We (I'm sorry...the Easter Bunny) first got him a paperback Bible with just the new testament, but we quickly realized he would need it in hard cover b/c he was wearing the book out (not being rough, just from so much reading!), so he now has it in hard cover, also including the old testament. I have read through the entire thing over 4 times now (and Daddy reads it at his own pace, too, so who knows how many times he's heard the whole thing already!). We're certainly not complaining.

Reading his Bible. Doesn't he look so serious about it?!
  • Tag Jr. Books. He got these for Christmas and played with them some, but it's like he REALLY figured it out all the sudden and just loves sitting and playing with them.
  • Favorite foods: carrots, strawberries, and oranges. He will eat and eat and eat any of these until you tell him there is no more. We've been strawberry picking four times now, and if you ask him about going again, he's already headed to the car... (He actually doesn't eat the berries while picking! He's managed to learn that they're dirty and we need to wash them at home first. I'm quite impressed! He does squish a few while inspecting some after I've put them in the bucket, but...can't always win!) And oranges...we have to watch him with those. At home, I cut them so there is no peel, but when we're at the grocery, there are usually samples. And if you turn your eyes away from him for a moment, he will eat the peel. And like it.
  • Reading out loud. It's so funny to watch. He'll sit in his boppy pillow, stick his feet straight out and cross them at his ankles (I think it's adorable how he sits when he reads!), and will proceed to read out loud. He'll make his voice go up and down and will sound like he's really telling a story. (He doesn't use many real words when he does this, for some reason.) And the best part, every now and then, he'll "read" something and then will start laughing out loud like what he read was the most hilarious thing ever! He'll just laugh and laugh for a while and then continue reading.
  • His Veggie Tales cd. He calls it "tomato" because one of the characters is a tomato. Whenever he says tomato, he emphasizes it "TOE-may-toe" (because that's how we always said it when talking to him...), and he reaches down and touches his toe! Haha! He knows the difference, but still makes the connection. He does this when eating tomatoes, as well.
  • Baby. I started watching a little girl, about 8-9 months old, a couple days a week. Aiden is absolutely crazy about her!! He asks for her all the time and goes around saying "baby, baby" in this cute, sing-song voice. For those of you that are familiar with Baby Signing Time, it sounds just like the intro song (surely where he got it from!).
  • The B-I-B-L-E song or Jesus Loves Me - Bible related songs, who woulda thought? ;)
  • Walking over to one of us, reaching out for our hand, and leading us to what he wants to do. He doesn't always have something big to show us; I think he just likes knowing he can lead.
  • Taking certain toys along when he goes upstairs for a diaper change or whatever else. It's usually his Bible, another book, or cars. He likes to have something in his hands, though. When I say it's time to go upstairs, he scrambles to get whatever he wants and then runs to the steps.

Holding as many cars as those little hands can handle!
  • Saying "sorry" to his toys. This mostly happens with his cars. He'll be playing and then suddenly say "sorry!" and then go right on playing. Ryan and I just giggle quietly and wonder what is going through his mind.

Least Favorites
  • Having trouble getting things where he wants them (e.g. books on shelves, cars just how he wants). He gets so frustrated if things don't go how he wants them or if he has difficulty. He'll throw himself a little mini-fit and might throw down the object. Sometimes he'll end up asking for help after a moment, and sometimes he just figures it out himself.
  • Not nursing during the (new) morning nap. We took out that nursing session a long time ago, so when we reintroduced the morning nap, I wasn't about to add in an unnecessary nursing session. He would get really mad...well, not mad, but sad. He would cry in a way that showed he was truly hurt, not just mad he wasn't getting his way. It just about broke my heart! He wouldn't even let me read to him, b/c as soon as we sat down, he tried to turn around to nurse and would get really upset. But...if I just put him in bed, he would roll over and go right to sleep. He's doing better now and will sit for a story without fussing too much.
  • Pooh Bear running. He has this big Pooh Bear that will walk, run, etc, when you push his hand. (He also makes a comment when he falls over and then thanks you when you hug him - it's really too cute!) Aiden likes for Pooh to walk but not to run, so when he runs, Aiden gets mad. But you can't skip that option, so he gets mad a few times before Pooh gets back to the walking setting...
  • People being in his way. If he wants to do something and you're in the way, he just pushes you. Um...we're not having that. He's slowly learning to ask us to move please (usually just saying please b/c he doesn't say "move" yet). We won't move when he pushes, and if you happen to be around and he does it to you...make him ask. Nicely. Just because he's little and cute doesn't mean he gets a pass at being rude. He has to learn manners, too. ;)
This is the face he made when I told him to sit back down.
He knows he isn't to stand on the chair but thought he could get away with it...

And this is the face he made when he realized he couldn't get away with it and those precious cars went into time-out.

New Developments
  • Saying "uh-oh" - Yes, one of those other typical first words, and he's just now saying it. I guess we just don't say "uh-oh" much in general, and we intentionally didn't say it when Aiden would drop things to avoid that "uh-oh" game. He says it now, and it's adorable, and he only says it when it really is an accident. :)
  • Going down the stairs (and now not). Well, for about a week he would go down the stairs. Remember, last month, he was TERRIFIED of going down the stairs himself. Now he's back to being terrified of it. He didn't fall or anything, just decided he had enough and was still scared of falling.
  • Sand box. We're hoping this helps him get over his fear of sand, especially for when we visit the beach again soon. It seems to be working. He'll not only stand in the sand box, but he will pour sand over his legs. That's big!
  • Enunciating words ("Bibe-UHL," "miLK," "duck"). It's funny how these things seem to happen overnight! One day, he was saying "mi-mi" for milk. The very next day, he was trying to add in the "lk," but that's really all you heard when he said the word. The next day, I kid you not, he was saying "miLK." It's just incredible how quickly these things happen. You can see him trying to enunciate many words properly, too. Even today, he was repeating milk over and over, trying to say the "i" different ways..."muhlk, meilk, milk." He'll slowly sound it out while paying close attention to how his mouth is shaped. So neat to watch him.
  • Sleeping - two naps in the daytime. It's amazing how much he has been sleeping, and it just goes to show that he really does need more sleep than he's been getting. It's been tough going back to two naps a day (for me, not for him), but it's also been necessary.
  • Toddler picky-ness. This is just your typical, run-of-the-mill pickyness (is that even a word?). You know...I might have liked this food yesterday, and I'll like it again tomorrow, but not today, thankyouverymuch...I know I said "no," but I really mean "yes" and am just saying "no" because I can...things like that.
  • Saying two words together (e.g. Bye Camden, more cheese). This was another thing that just seemed to happen overnight! Suddenly he's stringing words together!
  • Weight... Is this kid ever going to grow!?! We had bought all 18-24 month clothes for the summer, and this child is still fitting mostly into 12-18 month pants! And a couple 24-month or 2T that have the adjustable waist (thank God for those things! I guess he will need those, just like his big brother does!). His waist is TINY. But he needs to grow soon or else his entire wardrobe is useless (or the bottoms, at least). Geez kid. Up until now, he's fit according to his age, so it's not been a problem. I think he likes to throw us curve balls to confuse us from time to time.
  • Mommy instead of Mama. And another overnighter...literally. One day he called me "mama" and now I'm "mommy." It's still cute, but it's also another reminder of how quickly he's growing!

Are we done here?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Sleep update (kind of)

First of all, thanks for all of the comments. (I get most of my comments via email, fb, talking in person, or phone calls, actually.) It's nice to know others are going or have gone through similar things. Not that I want others to feel our pain, but there's definitely something about knowing you're not alone! I think many parents deal with problems with their children sleeping - they just don't all talk about it so much, whether because they don't want to admit they don't have it all under control or they don't want to be pressured into handling it in a way they aren't comfortable, or for whatever reasons. I know there are more of us sleep-deprived parents out there! ;)

Secondly...we kind of have a plan. It's kind of what we already started doing with a little added to it. We have been trying to just get up when Aiden gets up. After MONTHS of trying to get him to sleep past 5am, WE'RE exhausted, so we're trying to get to bed earlier. Sometimes you have to stop and take care of yourselves first, so that's what we're doing. Before we can put much more energy into working with Aiden at 5am or earlier, WE need to get some more rest.

But Aiden still needs more sleep. While it wasn't our preferred thing to do, we have gone back to giving Aiden two naps a day. This is not preferred for many reasons... We'll have to miss out on our weekly commitments (playdates and Bible study) for a while b/c a morning nap will take place at those times. Running errands is harder when you only have around lunchtime free, too. And at some point, we will have to transition once again to one nap instead of two. Also, Aiden nurses before the afternoon nap, but I'm not going to add back in another nursing before a morning nap. He's not liked that, but it's how it is.

The first day of two naps didn't go so well, so I wasn't too encouraged. He took two one-hour naps and woke up QUITE grumpy from the second one, clearly tired but refusing to go back to sleep. When we go for the first nap, I try to read to Aiden, but he gets so mad that I'm not nursing him, I end up just putting him in bed. BUT once I tuck him in and leave the room...he stops fussing. So, I don't feel so bad about him getting upset and missing the story. He's only mad while I'm right there!

Second day of two naps... He took two 1h45m long naps! That's a total of three and a half hours of sleep. When he takes one nap, he only sleeps about two hours. Now, we would rather him sleep that extra hour and a half in the morning before getting up for the day, but right now...we're just happy he's getting it period! Hopefully we can gradually get him to sleep longer and cut out that morning nap. But let's not get too ahead of ourselves just yet.

So, these long naps have happened over the past few days. And even though he's been sleeping until dinner time in the afternoons, he's not going to bed much later at all! Maybe 15 minutes later... And he's going right to sleep, often quicker than he usually falls asleep. Clearly he needs this extra rest! I've been really surprised at how easily he goes to sleep, as he doesn't even seem to be tired when I put him down for his morning nap! He'll be playing happily, acting like sleep is the last thing he needs. Yet it's obviously not.

Mornings... Well, one morning, he thought he would start waking at 3:30. I ended up going into him instead of Ryan. Why? Won't he just want to nurse? Well, of course! BUT I'm better about getting him tucked in and quickly leaving, even if he's fussing. Ryan wants him to calm down first and keep the blankets on. I've dealt with Aiden and sleeping more than Ryan has, so I'm a bit better at knowing when I can get out versus when I'm really needing to stay in longer. Not that Ryan doesn't try! He REALLY does, and I love that about him. So, I went in. Aiden screamed when I wouldn't get him out to nurse. I tucked him in, explained that he needed to go to sleep until the sun was shining, and I left. Before I was through my bedroom door, he had stopped crying. (This normally doesn't happen in the mornings...I wonder if that extra sleep during naptime has helped...) From this point until 5:30, he would wake like this and then sleep for 20 or so minutes, wake again, sleep again, with me going in whenever he woke. Why don't I just leave him alone when he wakes? Because I know my son. You don't go check on him, and he wakes up even more. That's the opposite of what we want.

This morning, he woke before 5, I went in, he went back to sleep until 5:30 and was then up for the day. See it however you want, I choose to see this as progress. :) I only needed to go to him once. And he went back to sleep for a bit and for a longer stretch than he did the other mornings. And he woke later than he did the other mornings.

Ryan and I have been managing to get into bed by around 10pm the past few nights, as well. I noticed the last two nights that by 10, I was feeling like it was well after 11. Maybe our bodies are adjusting to going to sleep a bit earlier, who knows. Hopefully we can keep this up, because WE certainly need the extra sleep. Another plus is that...if we continue to wake early (yet still get to bed early and get more sleep), Ryan might try to start working earlier...which means coming home earlier and actually having more time all together! That would be so wonderful because now, we eat the moment he walks in the door. As soon as dinner is over, he literally picks Aiden up from the high chair and takes him straight up to give him a bath! Then we get Aiden in bed. Not much time with Daddy... So, if this works out, we might even have more time as a family in the evenings. Silver lining.

I feel like we at least have a better grasp on what we are doing now.

We have gotten some suggestions from others. One friend also had to go back to two naps. It's always encouraging to know someone else who also had to back-track a bit. Some have recommended room-darkening blinds/curtains. We were all ready to get some, and when I was in Aiden's room multiple times the other morning, I actually paid attention and noticed it was still rather dark, as in very dark. Some have simply been sympathetic about it because they've been through something similar or just know they couldn't function on such little sleep. Some have mentioned letting him cry it out. Well, that's a long story, and there are many reasons we aren't doing that.

For one thing, (and I hate to even admit this) I tried it before and it totally backfired, causing Aiden to be extremely cling and fearful of me even getting him near his bed. I only let him cry for naptime for two days. It took much longer than two days to undo (more than a week even and that was with quite a bit of work and reassurance on my part), and I won't do it again. I only did it because I was at the end of my rope at the time, not knowing what else to do, as we had (thought we had) exhausted all other methods. Also, it's not that Aiden won't go to sleep on his own. He does. Every night and every naptime. We've always taught him to do that...sometimes he did better and he went through phases where he wouldn't do it. We never were ones to nurse/rock/sing him to sleep. It didn't help that he would fall asleep within minutes of starting to nurse. Even in the hospital, we would work at keeping him awake to get the full meal. A nurse snapped at me that he was too cold when she saw that we had left him in only a diaper while nursing. When my mother and I snapped back that he wouldn't stay awake to nurse, she politely backed off. Point is, we tried very hard not to let him nurse to sleep from day one, but it was a lot of work! So, this child who wonderfully puts himself to sleep will still have a hard time going back to sleep if he does wake. One of my friends said she thinks that is what makes his case a bit different b/c most babies that can put themselves TO sleep can typically put themselves back to sleep if they wake too early. Who knows why he's so different... But I'm not sure how letting him cry will teach him to go BACK to sleep. If he wakes and is left to cry, he only wakes up more! That just doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

I will say that Aiden will be allowed to fuss when going to sleep or back to sleep. Now...I differentiate between letting him fuss some and letting him CIO (cry it out). Fussing is a bit of crying but it's when he's whining some b/c he's not happy with what we're doing. When it gets to the point he is actually crying - that means he needs something or is scared or hurt. I won't let him get to that point without checking on him. I think there are many reasons not to let a child stay in that emotional state. It's not healthy for various reasons. It's not that I'm fearful he will remember being left to cry and will hate me for it one day. Ha. No. It has more to do with how being that upset can affect his stress hormones and his health. There's a lot of research on it out there. Also...the real CIO plan is not about leaving your child to cry until they fall asleep! The real CIO only intends for parents to leave their child to cry for a small amount of time before checking in on them at certain intervals. They're not meant to leave the child for hours, crying. And I won't do that. I think some people hear CIO and just assume you're supposed to just leave them to cry until they give up, but that's not the case.

Seriously...I could go on and on about this, but I won't. It's a whole other topic, and I don't want to turn Aiden's sleep stuff into a debate on whether or not to let a child cry it out (so please, don't go there). I know parents that have done it, and I know people that won't. To each his own, and I will not judge another parent for doing what they feel is comfortable. But I don't need to hear any more suggestions to just let him cry. We've tried to do that, anyway, and it does NOT work with Aiden...it does quite the opposite, and I won't go that route with him. He does fuss some, and we know at which point to step in. His sleep issues are not the result of us not letting him cry for hours. He actually sleeps rather well! He just wakes up an hour or so earlier than he needs.

Back to the main issue.... *Sigh* So easy to get off topic. Anyway, he's taking his second nap of the day now. I've noticed with each day of two naps, he goes to sleep quicker and quicker, indicating this is just what he needs. I've also noticed that he has woken some during his naps and put himself back to sleep! Even once or twice he's stirred in the middle of the night, and he went right back to sleep on his own. This is real improvement for him! And all we've done is made sure he got an extra nap! Instead of feeling guilty that we haven't been doing this, I am just happy we are doing it now. I know this means we'll miss out on our weekly activities - my time with other mommy friends, his time with his little buddies. But the fact is, his sleep is our top priority at the moment. It affects too many aspects of his health, brain development, and mood to put other *wants* above it. Hopefully it won't take too long, and we'll be back on track with our other activities soon, though. I know we're going to miss them! Meanwhile, I'm enjoying the fact that my child is sleeping and am hopeful that this will help.