Thursday, February 23, 2012

sleeping through the night

Now that it's been happening for a week, I feel cautiously optimistic in telling you that Vicki Jo has started sleeping ten or eleven hours every night without waking.  My feelings about this surprising development have kind of startled me.

It all started when Jeff had a four-week training in Kansas City to become a manager for his restaurant (the astute among you will note that "the pastor and the bartender" is now inaccurate, but "the pastor and the manager" just doesn't have the same ring, huh?).  I was left in charge of baby, dog and self with him only coming home every four or five days for a night or two.  As always, I was trying to keep as close as possible to a 7:00 bedtime for the young one, with frequent interruptions because she was coming along with me for everything at church in the evenings.  Usually we would make our way through this routine, I would lay her down in her little cradle that Jeff's granddaddy made for him (in our bedroom), and she would sleep anywhere from a couple hours all the way to midnight or so.  Whenever she woke up and cried out, I would come and bring her to bed with me.  Jeff would join us later, as he's a night owl.

Over time, I began to realize that I was awakening her night after night when I came in to the bedroom and picked her up to take to bed with me.  I resolved one night to see how long we could go before she woke me up by crying.   My eyes drooped shut on the living room couch, and next time I opened them, it was four in the morning!  She had gone nine hours!  Astonishing.

The next night, I let her try again.  This time she didn't wake up at all.  I woke her up at six when I went in to start getting ready for the day.  And this has continued to happen every night since then.  She has had a couple bad dreams thrown in there, but I can manage to soothe her and get her back to sleep.  She is no longer waking from hunger. 

I thought that I would be ecstatic about this development.  Finally, Vicki Jo has gained the ability and independence to be without me for a long stretch of time at night.  I have evenings free to watch tv, read blogs, or do whatever it is adults do after seven pm.  I thought there would be a sweet feeling of freedom.  Instead, I felt kind of . . . useless.  And a little bit lonely.  I had gotten so accustomed to the baby sleeping near me that I found that I missed all the time that we had shared.  And yet, when I went to wake the baby up and bring her to bed with me, I knew that she didn't sleep well.  Being so close all night was starting to stand in her way.

It was my first real taste of "my baby is growing up" sadness, and it hit me surprisingly hard.  As she nears a full twelve month trip around the sun, I am reminded of how tiny and helpless she was when we brought her home.  I just couldn't bear the thought of being separated from her for even a moment.  One year later, and she can spend half a day's time on her own, soothing herself and perhaps even enjoying a little alone time.

I do see that my few hours with her are precious.  When I work all day and she sleeps all night, we only see each other for a little bit in the morning and the evening.  I see how much I had relied on that time spent together at night to bring us closer together.  It almost makes me reconsider my decision to go back to work, and now that her dad got that promotion . . .

Thursday, February 16, 2012

in which i quit deodorant

By any account, I am a world-class sweater.  And no, I don't mean I'm made of softest alpaca.  I have always sweated a lot.  Like can't-wear-gray-in-summer sweating.  Like hardly-even-need-the-winter-coat sweating.  I'm usually the warmest person in any given room.  I've been addicted to my Sure invisible solid unscented stick since I was about twelve years old.  I thought that I would just have to buy all new white shirts every year.

My mom died of breast cancer, so I know that I have an increased risk for developing cancer myself.  I know the jury is still out on the effect of aluminum in antiperspirant, but I started to think why chance it?  If I could come up with something that could keep me marginally dry and non-stinky, I would consider using it.  After my last stick of Sure ran out, I tried just using nothing for a week or so.  Bad idea!  I could smell myself by midday, and this was during the winter!  I started looking up recipes for making your own deodorant.  It seemed like the common denominators were coconut oil, baking soda, and cornstarch.  Easy enough.

Here's how I did it:

Melt 6 T coconut oil in a small saucepan over low heat.

Once it's melted, add 4 T baking soda

And 4 T cornstarch.

Mix it up well.

At this point, I was sort of unsure what to do with it.  I decided just to dump it in a little cup and put it in the fridge until it set.  After it cooled, I dipped the cup in hot water and popped the cake of deodorant out.  I've been keeping it in the fridge wrapped in a washcloth.  I opted against keeping it in the bathroom because coconut oil melts at 76 degrees, and when we shower the bathroom regularly exceeds that temperature.  I just grab it while I'm making breakfast in the morning, hold the bar of deodorant in the washcloth against my skin for a moment to soften it, and then rub it around like regular antiperspirant.

The verdict?  Love it!  Ask me again in the heat of summer, because I might change my tune then.  But for now, it works great!  Keeps me smelling fresh, and even has reduced the amount of overall sweating.  Best part:  no white marks on dark clothes, and no yellow stains on white clothes!

And that, my friends, is how I went from this:

To this:

**Update 4/6/12**  After nearly four months of using this homemade deodorant, I started to get a small red rash in the center of each armpit.  Not sure if it was one of the ingredients, or just the physical scratching of the baking soda and cornstarch.  It got a little uncomfortable, plus it started getting really hot, so I caved and bought some Tom's of Maine deodorant.  I think the homemade will be my go-to during the cooler months.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

fifty nifty united states . . .

Anyone else have to memorize that song in school?  Alabama, Alaska, Arizona . . . I still remember every word.  I don't remember when or where I first heard about this, but I've always loved the idea of visiting a different state every year and taking a photo to remember it.  I thought it would be nice to start whenever I got married.  I'm a few years behind, but luckily we make regular trips to New York, Tennessee, Nevada, Kansas, and Illinois, so there were some stock pictures to start with!  It's fun to see these photos in relation to the map, to think about what we were doing when we were there, the friends and family with whom we shared the visits, and the new states that the future holds.  Of course, it also brings a tear to my eye when I see that the 2009 and 2010 photos are just me and Jeff, while 2011 show the three of us! 

2009:  Beersheba Springs, TN (our wedding)
2010:  Long Island, NY (for my friends' Natalie and John's wedding)
2011:  Lawrence, KS (two weeks after our new arrival, at our Bradley Birth class reunion!)
2012:  we have a visit in the works to my dad's family in Henderson, NV - they still need to meet Vicki Jo!

Do you have any fun family traditions like this?  Road trips that linger in your memory from childhood?  Do tell!