Saturday, October 11, 2014

Sleeping...or Lack Thereof

After two nights of sleeping for 3 hours in a row last week, our system kind of fell apart with not being home enough over the last few days. Of course, we had good reasons for not being home :-). We enjoyed some visiting with relatives we don't get to see too often and also celebrated a niece's birthday.

After the 2 nights of semi-hopefulness, Brielle was back to her usual sleepless antics. I am seriously tired, dude. So tired, I'm saying dude. So tired, saying dude makes me laugh like a hyena. Dude is a funny word. Dude. bahahahaha. Okay, now I'm acting like I'm 10. Be quiet, Jenna. Seriously. See, I'm even talking to myself. I'm also hallucinating some days. I was absolutely convinced I saw a mouse scurry under my dryer the other day. Then, I saw something run across the floor yesterday. My first thought was mouse! Then, giant spider! Turned out, I had kicked a cheerio. Freaky little things, those cheerios are.

I fear I look like a walking dead woman most days. I'm afraid to go out in public or have to talk to anyone as all that wants to come out of my mouth is garbled up jibberish that make no sense. Gratefully, my Mom-in-law took my two oldest for an afternoon. Though the house was a disaster, I put Brielle in her crib to play and crawled into my bed for a nap. This morning, my husband offered to keep the kids occupied in the morning, and I had a two hour nap. I felt like a new woman after that nap. I'd like to feel like a new woman every day. Today, I was trying to get her back on track with her naps and bedtime. She ate a huge bowl of food for supper tonight and went to bed at 6:45 pm on her own, so I'm feeling hopeful. But, now she's crying.... Start the timer for 10 minutes. I feel hope slipping away...

In other news, I went to the doctor regarding my neck pain and numb/tingling/weird sensations in my arm. I have a cyst in my wrist that is causing my wrist pain. The neck/arm/shoulder thing is a little weird, but all basic neurological stuff seems to check out fine. I will be trying physio, massage, and chiro for that. It's kind of a pain. Literally. Why am I just so funny, sometimes?

Timer's up. Time to go. Toodles.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Sleep Training Day 3 & Kindergarten

I am almost afraid to say it...

I think we are making progress with Brielle.

Today is Day 3 of using the Sleep Sense Program

Night 1...She went to bed around 6:30 p.m. (Yes, there was intermittent crying as was expected, and she didn't really settle into sleep for a longggg time.) It was much like previous evenings, but we handled it according the the book this time. I nursed her awake again at 11 p.m., she woke up at 12:30 a.m., again, crying. I changed her and put her back in her crib awake and followed the program with how to deal with the crying, but I did not feed her. She fell asleep again around 1 a.m. Woke up at 4:45 a.m. I ended up nursing her awake again around 5:00 a.m. since she really did seem hungry. She fell asleep on her own and then woke up for the day at 7 a.m. This is a HUGE improvement. I cannot even tell you how awesome it was to get 3 1/2 hours of sleep in. a. row. I'm feeling optimistic.

Night 2: I'm following the books suggestions for naps and daytime routines, etc. She had a pretty good nap in the morning (from 9 to 11). She pretty much has NEVER napped this well before, so I am shocked and amazed and thrilled. The afternoon nap did not go as well. I'm not really sure why. I am trying to figure out if she should be having 2 or 3 naps as she is borderline between the two it seems.
She went to bed around 7 p.m. I followed the book's suggestions again for dealing with the crying and waking up. I nursed her again at 10:30 p.m. and again at 2:30 a.m. After the 2:30 a.m. wake up, she slept all the way until 7 a.m. This is insane progress. Like, I can't even tell you how massive an improvement this is. I'm so excited. Too bad my 2 year old decides to protest and gets up a few times in the night and is up for the day at 6:15 a.m. (he has learned how to climb over his baby gate now....ugh. Seriously, child...). I am seriously frustrated with the fact that my 2 year old (who used to be a great sleeper) has decided to act up in the night. Just when Brielle starts to improve... If it wasn't for my 2 year old, I would have had one pretty awesome night.

Day 3: We are off to a great start. She was up happy at 7 a.m., ate, had breakfast, down for nap at 9 a.m. with very little fussing this time and is just starting to stir at 10:45 .

I'm so crazy excited, nervous, and hopeful that she will soon be almost sleeping through the night that I'm afraid to even mention it...I'm just praying this progress continues and that my son will stay in bed now, too.

Homeschool

This morning I ordered the Little Hearts for His Glory curriculum from Heart of Dakota. I really, really like what I'm seeing from them and still think out of all the curriculums I've looked at, it suits my teaching style and our family the best. In later years, it's pretty heavily-centred around American History, which is a concern I've had. However, in researching curriculums, I've found that there are lots of Canadians who still use Heart of Dakota and just supplement it with Canadian material. Next year, I plan on supplementing with Donna Ward's curriculum Canada, My Country. For now, we have just been doing school very informally. We've been doing a few phonics lessons a week from the Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons book. We are half-way through the book. By the end, she should be reading around a Grade 2 level. We are also reading lots of books from the library, including classics like Beatrix Potter and also non-fiction books, such as Canada's Arctic Animals as one example. I am eagerly anticipating my Little Hearts for His Glory curriculum to arrive.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sleep Training: Day 1

After last night, I`d finally had enough.  After the usual bedtime attempts, crying it out, and the usual shenanigans, Brielle finally settled down at 1 a.m. Before that, she slept for 20 minutes here and there. Well between 1 a.m. and 6 a.m., I was still up 3-5 times with her. Nathanael woke up at 6 a.m. and would not go back to bed. I probably got somewhere between 2 and 3 hours total sleep (not consecutive). This pattern has gone on for far too long. Though I`ve read 5-10 books about sleep training, today I was on the search for a sure-fire solution. I am desperate. I found one more book I had not yet read. The Sleep Sense Program. I bought the ebook version of it and spent most of the afternoon reading through it,  or at least through the most relevant parts. Honestly, it`s not rocket science. It pretty much the same thing I`ve read before, just packaged a little differently. It`s more straight forward than most of the books I`ve read, though. It`s a little more...here`s what you need to do, here`s what to expect. It`s a no-nonsense approach. Less theory. She says it like it is. It gives numbers, as in the number of minutes to do this or expect that. It gives me an idea of what`s reasonable. I like that. I need that. I have a good feeling about this one.

Tonight is Day 1. I`m preparing myself for a bit of a tough night. I`m hoping I`m stubborn enough to not resort back to the old ways of eventually becoming so tired that she ends up in bed with us at 4 a.m. The plan is to wean her cold turkey. No more co-sleeping. No more all-night-buffet. No, that does not mean letting her cry it out all night long. If absolutely necessary, I will feed her one time in the night, but only if absolutely necessary. I`m actually hoping to instead give her a bottle in the night if I have to. Even my trusted pediatrician has assured me that she only needs one feeding in the night (if at all) once I have her on solids. I put her to bed quite a bit earlier than usual (6:40 pm) tonight. It took only 20 minutes for her to fall asleep tonight after our bedtime routine. She woke up again 20 minutes later, though, and we were off to the usual protesting. Eventually we got her back to sleep on her own (without me nursing her). It took a long time, though. It will likely be a rough night. I *think* I`m mentally prepared for it, though.  I have a plan after reading the book. Insert self-talk. Okay...I can do this! I need to do this!

Monday, September 29, 2014

The Gist of It

The other day I wrote a long post called "Something's Gotta Give." Perhaps some of you already read it. I decided to take it down off my blog. It just felt a little too much "woe is me." It's not that I didn't feel what I wrote...because I did. It's just that maybe I was a little too honest, as in, I told too much. Maybe I'm just feeling embarassed about what I wrote. I don't know. Blogging is a fine line between "keeping it real" but not airing out all your dirty laundry for all to read. That line can get blurry sometimes.

For those of you who didn't read it, here's the gist of it:

- My baby doesn't sleep.

- Physically, I'm not doing overly well. I've been having some strange symptoms lately.

- I've been troubled with a lot of anxiety/stress lately. This may be the cause of many of my symptoms.

-Things need to change around here.

What does this translate to?

I'm dedicating the rest of this year to getting things back in order around here. A real, focused effort to changing our habits. Working on getting Brielle to sleep better, potty training Nathanael, routines, boundaries, healthier habits for myself, etc. This means much less time online. I don't know yet how much less exactly. Being online...social media, etc just isn't all that important in the grand scheme of things. The dynamics of my life have changed a lot since I first signed up for Facebook and started blogging. Our family has changed and grown. This season of life is especially busy, and so this little blog of mine has been neglected. I don't really feel bad about that, though. My time needs to be spent on other things, on better things....on people...my family...

Thanks for understanding,

Monday, September 22, 2014

Menu Plan Monday

This week my menu plan is based on using up what I already have on hand or can make from scratch (such as the tortillas for the wraps). I'm going to do my best to avoid going to the grocery store this week.

Monday - Cheeseburger Soup (using leftover grilled burgers in the freezer)

Tuesday - Crockpot Pepper Steak & Herbed Rice

Wednesday - Grilled Salmon, Herbed Rice, Salad

Thursday - Leftovers & Mashed Potatoes

Friday - Pizza Night

Saturday - Crispy Southwest Wraps

Sunday - Leftovers

Friday, September 19, 2014

Quiet Evening Thoughts

I hear the pleasant chatter of neighbours outside as I breathe in the refreshing air of another beautiful fall evening. The dishwasher hums and swooshes in its methodical, rhythmical way, which is strangely comforting. On the cupboard a few dishes were waiting for me to handwash them, but I somehow managed to fit all of my stray pots and pans from supper into the dishwasher.  I love it when that happens.  And for the moment my three precious children are all sleeping, though only a minute ago I heard a sweet little squawk from Brielle. My hard-working husband is in the field, helping to bring in the harvest for another season. Though there is work for me to do...there is always work for me to do :-)... this introvert is enjoying a moment of rest and quiet contemplation amid the stillness of the evening.

Our home has been a bundle of busyness and stress as of late. It has been exhausting. Only family and our closest friends know the extent of it all. Physical and mental rest has eluded us for far too long. I long for days of routine, familiarity, calmness, and predictability. I pray those days will come soon. I caught a glimpse of those days the other evening when I snuggled up my kids on the couch to read a Beatrix Potter tale, a bedtime story read unhurriedly for once. Routine is comforting, not boring, to this introvert. Are you surprised I'm an introvert? Most who know our family would likely think of me as the extrovert and my husband as the introvert. I am far more introverted than I like to admit and am strangely surprised that I am not very extroverted. Being alone energizes me. Unless I am properly rested, being around people drains me, which pains me a little to admit that. That is not to say I can't talk a mile-a-minute and jabber most everyone's ears off when I want to, though.:-) My husband is the opposite. He is usually energized by being around friends and family, always up for a spontaneous adventure. He is usually calm and rather quiet in a crowd, but that is because he is not an attention-seeker and is far more self-controlled than I am. Though we are both first-borns, and so, naturally, we bring a double-dose of hard-headedness and stubborness :-), we complement each other and get along very well. We are very similar in many ways, and so we truly "get" each other's strange quirks, thoughts, and habits. We have been married for just over 9 years. I love him more than words could ever express. He is a fantastic husband and dad. Oh, life has felt rather tumultuous lately, but how much more bearable it is to sail the seas of life when you are riding its waves hand-in-hand with the one you love most, trusting the Captain all the way.

Monday, September 15, 2014

My Babies Don't Sleep

6 1/2 month old Brielle is really not sleeping well. She's crawling, pulling herself up to standing while holding on to something, saying "dadadadada", but not sleeping. I don't know what my problem is, but my babies just never sleep well. Elianna was a horrible sleeper until she was probably 2 1/2 or 3 years old. Nathanael was a horrible sleeper until he turned a year old (when I quit nursing, he went from being up 3 or 4 times a night to sleeping 12 hours straight almost immediately). Brielle is up...oh...at least 5 times a night (as in 5 times within 8 hours). I put her to bed (or Craig puts her to bed) around 8 pm. She will sleep for approximately one hour and then at 9 pm, the crying fits start. I mean, she cries pretty much non-stop for 5 hours unless she's being snuggled or nursed if it's been awhile, although that doesn't even always help. My gut tells me that nursing-to-sleep/co-sleep thing that we were doing for awhile is a major part of the problem. My gut also tells me that she is having stomach-aches (as she can be very gassy), though I have not found the cause of that. Now, though, we try very hard to not do the nurse-to-sleep thing, but the sleep problem has not ended. She will sleep for 20 minutes up to an hour sporatically within those 5 hours. But from 9 pm until 2 or 3 a.m., it's pretty much impossible for me to sleep as it takes me at least 20 minutes to get to sleep and by that time her next crying fit has started. And no, I don't race in at the first cry, either. I have read every book out there to do with sleeping issues. I've tried cry-it-out, I've tried EASY, I've tried babywise, baby whisperer, pat and shush, gas drops, gripe water, giving a bottle. You name it...I've TRIED IT ALL!  Finally, at 2 or 3 am., she settles down a little bit and might sleep for 2-3 hours in a row if I'm very lucky. This stretch often happens with her sleeping not-so-soundly with me on the couch. This is the only way I've been able to get any sleep whatsoever.This happens Every.single.night. Her best night was probably when she was about 3 weeks old and slept for 4 hours in a row once or twice  No, I'm not exaggerating. Yes, I'm barely surviving. I have a 2 year old and almost-5 year old to chase around all-day. Honestly, the last 6 months have been pretty brutal, and I am tired...bone-tired. My house is an absolute disaster.  I would do just about anything for 3 hours of uninterrupted night-time sleep. Just.about.anything. Don't even talk to me about something crazy like 5, 6, or 7 hours in a row...

Our extended family has been a real blessing to us and has taken the older two kids for a few days here and there.They have baby-sat for me when I have had several appointments lately (I've had to go to the dentist 4 times, chiropractor 2 times, doctor once, and massage therapist once in the last month for myself along with dentist for my kids, immunizations, and doctor appointments for my kids).  My sister is amazing and comes and washes my dishes for me and helps me put the kids to bed. I can't imagine how I'd be coping without them! This, along with a pretty hefty dose of "life" stress that has been hounding us down lately, is the reason why this blog is on the back-burner. Very recently, I was flat out in bed for almost a week with an incredibly sore back. Driving down the road to go to the doctor had me pulled over with tears streaming down my face. The pain was similar to labour-pain. That's the only way I can describe it. I am SO thankful that I went to the chiropractor, who told me it was actually my pelvis that was out of place and he fixed my problem! I was a bit of a skeptic that the chiropractor does much good (don't hate me for that!), but now I'm on-board as he gave me almost immediate relief! I was shocked at the difference. It lasted 4 days and then went out again, but I went back and have been good now for another few days. Yes, I still have the "normal" back aches/muscle aches, but the excrutiating, debilitating pain that I was experiencing (I couldn't even sit at church) is gone. Praise the Lord! That was a big answer to prayer.

Any "spare" minute I have is used to either eat (which, like yesterday, meant scarfing down a few cheesies and an apple at 8 pm (I forgot to eat my own supper as I was feeding Brielle), shower (which doesn't happen as often as it probably should), or sleeping/veging-out. There is no time (and if there is ever "time", there is rarely the energy) for cleaning, exercise, hobbies, or the like. Play-dates, mom's groups, etc...at this point, I don't even have the energy for that. This is survival-mode at its finest (or worst). If you want to still be my friend after seeing me in this mess I'm in, physically and mentally, well, you are just too sweet. I know this post sounds far too whiny and complaining-like. I truly hesistated to even write it as I'd much prefer to write something edifying and encouraging. I really, really, really would like to say that thing are going "really well." But, truthfully, they aren't. I am not ungrateful for the many blessings I have and have found that focusing on those things helps keep my heart in the right place. Spiritually, I am doing "ok". God has seemed distant lately, but I know better than to depend on my feelings because by faith and through His Word I know He is near, cares for me, and loves me even though I don't always "feel" it. However, I feel like it's important for me to write this just so people can maybe understand why I have had to say "no" to so many things lately. All this stress and exhaustion is why we went to our parents' church in town yesterday instead of to our dear home-church (which is a drive out of town). It is not going to be this way forever. This is only a season. I am not depressed, though. I can find joy and laugh and smile during moments. I am just incredibly, insanely stressed-out and exhausted mentally and physically. I couldn't even remember my phone number when the chiropractor's clinic asked me.

On the homeschool front, we continue to focus on phonics and reading. My husband and I are discussing the possibility of not yet ordering our planned curriculum for this year and, instead, focusing on character training and reading/phonics. I found this Character First program here, which has enough free material to cover many character issues. We have plenty of kindergarten "workbooks" and a fantastic libary to supplement that. I have talked to lots of Christian homeschool veterans.You know what nearly all of them advise? Don't worry so much about the "curriculum" when they are so young and pushing curriculum. Focus on character, work ethic, Bible memorization, and read, read, read. I know our daughter picks up a lot from simply reading to her. We are pondering how to approach this all and figure out what works for us and where the Lord is leading. Both of us feel strongly the Lord pressing on our heart to invest more in building strong relationships with our kids and in biblical parenting/character training. Our most important task is to point our children to the cross and pray for their salvation, which does not come from homeschooling, following the right "curriculum" or even "character training" (though character is important) or Bible memorization but from the work of the Holy Spirit. 

Please don't get me wrong...we are not neglecting our children's education. We educate throughout the day in day-to-day life, are following a phonics program, and are just trying to figure out which way to go this year and what to "focus" on as she only just turned 5! She is young! Most kindergarten kids are going to school to learn the basics...how to follow the rules, respect authority, relate to others, communicate well, tie their shoes, act in an orderly fashion, follow routines, learn to share and play nicely, respect others, conflict resolution, how to cut, glue, colour nicely, create, draw, print, and basic phonics and math. We will cover all these and more...We are simply thinking of taking a less-traditional "curriculum" approach this year (or at least for the first half of the year) and focus more on character training and biblical principles.

There are plenty of professing Christians who know their Bible and know "good character traits" but are not truly saved. However, our job as Christian parents is to train up our children in the way they should go and teach them about the Lord and share and live out the gospel daily. Biblical principles and encouraging godly behaviour is important and plays a role in pointing our children to Jesus, but it will not save them! We cannot save our children...only the Lord can. (and because we will fail at godly character and producing the fruit of the Spirit without the Lord's help...this points us to the cross and shows that we are in utter dependence on Him as there is not one of us who is "good". It shows how desperately short we fall and how our only hope is that we can be forgiven our sins only through faith in Jesus and by His grace.)

Those are my scattered thoughts for today. Welcome to my sleep-deprived brain, which never seems to turn off...

 Coffee time...
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