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Archive for the ‘sleep’ Category

It’s late late late local time, and I can’t sleep.

I’ve made a meal plan for the boys while I’m gone next week, added items to various lists, eaten ice cream and pepperkake, and browsed Facebook and old blog posts for the past 1.5 hours. All four men in the house are asleep, but it’s only a question of time before one or more of them start the nightly migration from their rooms to ours, making it even more of a shame that I’m not sleeping while they are.

It’s okay. It’s Thanksgiving. I’ll pretend that I’m high on pie and coffee. And try to record the tones of gratefulness of 2013 before sleep descends.

A List Of Thankfulness, Numbered:

7 is for the seven plus months we’ve had with Cai Ruben. Both chaos and joy increased exponentially as we increased to a family of five. We are humbly, humbly thankful for another safe arrival of a healthy baby. I am convinced that this one is never going to grow up, but will be my baby forever. Why he’s working on crawling is totally throwing me for a loop.

p.s. Did I ever write up a birth story for him? Have I done that for ANY of them? Remind me to do that one day.

6 is for the number of years we’ve been married. Thankful, as always, for a caring husband and fantastic co-parent. These little-kid years are not easy on a relationship, but with luckily for us, our shared trait of stubborness is working in our favor. As is a mutual love of beer and select crime series. Six years down, many more to go.

5 is for the number of years we’ve had with Karel Magne. He’s reading now. Did I mention that? Just single words, not sentences, not books, but words. The first step in entering that world of independent magic. I don’t know if I’m ready for it. What happens when your heart grows up and doesn’t need you anymore? Five is for our oldest brother, the ”storste bukkene Bruse” (biggest billy goat Gruff). He charms us, impresses us, exasperates us, he doesn’t eat meat…par for the course with a billy goat, I guess.

4 is the number of Thanksgivings we’ve had in Steinkjer. Almost four years in the same place means I meet people I know almost every time we’re out. It means that when newer arrivals are working through the emotional contortions of a new/old/different place, I can’t commiserate so much anymore. No one wants to hear ”just give it time”… so I don’t say so much of anything. Four is also the number of screens I access daily to stave off tiredness and feign connectedness with the outside world. Thankful for technology, and as always, Skype.

3 is the number of years we’ve had with Emil Birk. Or rather, Emilian Birk Lyngstad, as he calls himself now. Three months as a three year old…I just don’t even have the words. Two is a piece of cake compared to three. For my own sake, let me repeat it: I am thankful for Emilian Birk Lyngstad. I am thankful for the funny things he says and his soft cheek  snuggles. I love the medley of cartoon theme songs he sings every morning. I would love it more if it weren’t at 6:30 a.m. and accompanied by flailing legs, but you can’t have it all. I love that in the midst of throwing a fit about something, if you explain the situation to him, he will eventually heave a big sigh and say ”okay, maybe.” Right now I love that he will not be three forever…but when he’s five I’ll probably wish that he was. Sigh. So irritating.

2 is…what time it is right now? the number of liters of coffee I’m going to need tomorrow? Two is the number of days until I’m boarding a plane with the baby to Spain to meet Catie. So two represents our thankfulness for the friends we have throughout the world, the friends who travel the world, the friends who love us and keep us in their hearts even when we’re elsewhere in the world. The shrinking of the planet has it’s drawbacks. Small enough to cross paths, but still too wide to hold hands.

1. There is one roof sheltering our five heads. One roof that we sleep, eat, play, talk, shout, and irritate each other under. We know many families for whom this is not so. Or for whom it is now but wasn’t before. However great the joy of being reunited might be, I am thankful for not bearing the weight of being separated.

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

Praise Him all creatures here below.

Praise Him above ye heavenly hosts.

Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

Amen.

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Crazy as it may sound, there’s an upside to the tiredness a new baby brings to the mix.

A whole lotta not caring.

Kind of liberating, actually. After Emil was born I remember fist pumping in the living room after making an appointment for him –which required a phone call in Norwegian. I spoke so much more Norwegian after he was born, not because it was better than before, but because i was just too flipping tired to care if it came out right or not.

Unfortunately, my language skills are worse than ever now, so the not-caring has spilled over into personal appearance. You know, where the stain count on your shirt just has to be under three in order for it to be acceptable to wear in public. Last week for the 17th of May celebration I found, miracle of miracles, a nursing-friendly dress in my closet that was CLEAN. (What’s even more remarkable is that I wasn’t even nursing when I bought that dress. That’s a cunning subconcious right there.) I don’t remember washing it, but I must have. Honestly, finding that dress and then shoes that matched was so big of a victory that I didn’t even care that my legs were dry pasty white and i’d had no time to put on makeup. Those pasty white legs paraded through town thinking that they weren’t nearly as pasty white as they could be. (What does that even mean? Pasty white is pasty white.)

Being tired lets me pretend that we DO live in America and all dress codes fly, so I happily and confidently go grocery shopping with crazy hair and sweatpants.

Being tired lets me pretend that I’m best friends with the whole world so that it’s not a big deal if I forgot to put in nursing pads and start leaking milk all over the place.

Being tired lets me have an internal giggle at the fact that I might have accidentally flashed someone at the grocery store while trying to pacify a screaming infant in the cereal aisle. (I will not even get into the ordeal that that particular shopping trip was.)

Sure, I can’t remember anything and speaking coherently in any  language has become kind of a challenge, but this whole minimal-thinking-about-appearance thing has been pretty great. Be thou gone forever, vanity

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We made it through December relatively unscathed, but January turned out to be a bit much.

Poor Bjørn has been completely incapacitated twice this month by some evil, miserable virus. From the first round a domino effect came into play — first one man down, then two, then three, then a slow resurrection, then down again… It’s been crazy. In some miracle of immunity I don’t quite understand, I withstood the first round (as well as the round the month before), but as of last week Wednesday my luck ran out. I sat on the couch that afternoon across from my convalescing husband giving myself the pre-barnehage pick-up pep talk: ”Okay. It’s going to be okay,” the next 20 minutes interspersed with randomly placed out-loud ”Okay”s. Interesting how the ”I’m about to get sick” anxiety set in hours before the first physical symptoms.

Does anyone else have these mild anxiety attacks at the prospect of both parents being sick at the same time? I mean, I feel like I’m pretty good at managing my resources, but I draw a blank on that particular scenario.

So we’ve spent a good portion of January in our pajamas (which is like a dream come true for Karel). Thus I’ve spent a good portion of January watching the layers of dust in all but the most necessary portions of the house grow and trying not to freak out about it. The problem with being mom-sick seems to be that sometimes it’s just your body that gives out. Or both body and mind give out and you can’t move for a day, but after about 24 hours your brain starts going again while your body just can’t. Oh, the THINKING! Good Lord have mercy, make the thinking stop. Evidently once no longer physically able to do the very physically demanding jobs of my housewifey world, my brain goes into overdrive remembering all the other things I was going to do. Take a class, find a job, write an article, blah, blah, blah. But doing those things STILL takes energy that you DON’T HAVE…so let’s launch into another wave of guilt and anxiety over things not accomplished. (insert eye roll.) Then, at the time you need sleep the most, nightime insomnia-born-of-anxiety sets in, because in this crazy world-of-germs it seems better to just stay awake than to fall asleep just to be woken up by coughs or cries or people falling out of bed.

Seriously. It’s ridiculous.

On the other hand, it hit me for the first time during this month of revolving door viruses that my future is going to hold a whole lotta man-sickness.

Once again, good Lord have mercy.

Bjørn is an undemanding patient; granted, when he’s down he’s down, but other than allowing him rest, he doesn’t ask for much. Karel, however, seems to be heading down the more typical mansick path. Not feeling good is met with wails of ”Oh, what is happening to me?” as if he’s suddenly discovered green plaques all over his body. Or  panicked outburst inches outside the bathroom: ”I just can’t walk anymore”. My favorite so far is the politely worded yet pathetically toned: ”Mama, I really need you to help me a lot today,” uttered by the young master languishing on the couch, requesting ”warm drinks” that are lovingly prepared but then never drunk.

Emil Birk is slightly less dramatic so far, but just as clingy. He’s developed a TV addiction that we’ll have to deal with later, as well as an affinity for the saying the word ”no” while interestingly enough completely disregarding it when it’s said by someone else. Ricocheting back and forth between acting as comforter and terrorizer of his older brother is his other main activity.

The little guy in utero is kicking around as strong as ever, despite the demise of his family all around him. But he, too, adds another dimension to being momsick. What do you get when you pair sudden coughing attacks with a weak, squished, bladder? Let’s just say it’s not only peed-in little boy underwear making up our laundry pile these days.

Anyway, I’m on round two of the crud now, brought on no doubt by a combination of exhaustion and residual viral bits in my system. So this time I’m doing my best to turn my brain off and concentrate solely on recovery and baby-growing.

Here’s to a healthy February!

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Getting from here:

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to here:Image

We’ve developed a new bedtime routine with Emil. It goes something like this:

7 p.m. Snack/kveldsmat. This is necessary for Karel because he doesn’t eat much dinner. It is necessary for Emil because 10 hours without eating….well, that’s a long time for a guy like Emil. Gotta load up.

7:30: Wrestle pajamas on both boys (things like ”No, I am not going to try to catch you” are often said aimed in the direction of flailing limbs behind couch cushions).

7:40: Brush teeth, wash hands, face, potty, etc. We have a very small bathroom, folks. I tend to feel like it’s the most dangerous room in the house for under-3’s; or for any age when there is one under-3 present. Want to see how quick a parent’s reaction time is? Stick them in a small bathroom with a running faucet and two little boys. The greater the speed, the fewer the splashes.

7:50: Divide and conquer. Karel in his bed for story reading, Emil in his room for story reading.

Karel is tired after a day at barnehage. Reading and then sleeping is not usually too much of a problem.

Emil…Emil is a routine kind of guy, it turns out. And our current routine is such: Say good night to the pictures on the wall (”Natta, Manchester. Natta, Riga”). Say good night to Karel (which involves a hug that lasts 2 minutes and an impossible to break iron grip). Enter Emil’s room. Choose a book to read.

Book is denied.

Choose another book to read.

That book is also denied.

Show him, one by one, all his books until we find the one that strikes his fancy that particular evening. Begin to read it, either in bed or on the rocking chair. About half way through, one of two things will happen. He will either close the book in your hands and turn around to be held, or close the book in your hands and start roaming around his room. Regardless, the next move is the same.

Tuck in toddler, tuck in ”monkey”, kiss toddler, kiss monkey, say prayers, and slowly back away to the door catching dramatically blown toddler kisses.

Close door. Tightly.

After 5-10 minutes we usually hear some kind of crashing from the bedroom. Next is my favorite part of the whole routine: opening the door to find Emil inevitably standing in the middle of the room, explaining very matter-of-factly the source of the crashing as soon as he sees me.

How one can make noise and destruction seem so innocent, un-malicious, sweet, and routine is beyond me. This is the gift of our second child.

He points to whatever he’s been working on, I point to the bed, and up he scrambles.  Re-tuck, re-kiss, maybe a snuggle with his trademark head-lock hug, and slowly back towards the door again.

Sweet dreams, Emil Birk. Looking forward to waking up to your smiling face.

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Sleep is a big topic around here: between me and mama friends (how many times did [insert-child’s-name] wake up last night?), between me and Karel (yes, honey, we DO need to rest), between me and Bjørn. Sleep convos between me and Bjørn make me laugh a little bit, actually. They are neither commiseration (as with mama friends) or persuasive/foot-down (as with Karel), but a little more…unsure. As in, Bjørn-the-deep-sleeper says to me tentatively in the morning, ”Last night wasn’t so bad, was it?,” then inevitably receives a look somwhere on the withering scale as I recount the number of times Emil and/or Karel woke up, how many hours I spent in our bed vs. Karel’s bed, or how many trips between rooms I made during the night. That’s not even counting the occasional waking-up-at-3-ridiculously-hungry night. Poor Bjørn. He has learned to tread lightly when it comes to the sleep conversations, because he can never, ever be right. Which isn’t entirely fair, when you remember this story.

(more…)

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Lest you be fooled, the following things do not pass as substitutes for sleep:

  • coffee
  • Reese’s Pieces
  • chocolate/pastry/cookies
  • stronger coffee
  • surfing the blog-universe
  • Facebook
  • ”Everybody Loves Raymond” reruns
  • ANY reruns
  • online window shopping
  • espresso
Your tired brain may initially think that any or all of these things will provide that tiny-little-boost needed to get through the day…but I am slowly learning that the resulting seratonin/dopamine surge from any of those small indulgences is much less effective than a nap. Maybe I’ll make computer/t.v./phone covers that say: ”Back away from the bright shiny screen” and put them into place on those super-tired days when will-power is at it’s lowest. Huh.
*** HOWEVER:  the following have been proven to be effective:
  • hot showers
  • shopping for cute things
  • walks outside
If you can combine the last two, all the better. That was our strategy yesterday 🙂

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