Monthly Archives: June 2014

And . . . they’re off!

One big secret to living in the Fun Apartment is to get out of the Fun Apartment as often as we can. On a day to day basis, that means spreading out the errands so we always have somewhere to go. It means going to the park down the block even if it’s raining (hey, now it’s a water park!)

And in the summer, it means taking this whole show on the road! As I am a mere settler in this god-forsaken city, I have a sacred responsibility to raise these boys as Midwesterners, in the middle of this urban jungle. As Calvin Trillin said about raising kids in the city, “Despite all evidence to the contrary, you’re being raised in Kansas City.”

So that means we are packing up to spend several weeks visiting family and friends in the great heart of the nation. In practice, it means I will have to explain why my kids are turning down hot dogs, but will eat sushi and falafel. They will have to learn how to cross the street when there is no intersection. They will learn how to ride bikes. And I will have to give these same answers over and over again:

“Fourth floor. Nope, no elevator.”

“Yes, 480 square feet is about the same size as your garage.”

“No, I don’t know how we do it either.”

“Because milk is really expensive in the city. Why are you buying 8 gallons?”

Before you start to think of us as people who have a summer home, let me assure you, we have no such thing. I just have generous parents with extra bedrooms and a deep need to see their grandchildren. They are even lending us their car.

So we are packing up to drive halfway across the country. This far we haven’t needed to burst through the glass screen and rely on the iPad for entertainment. Although it looms large in our future, I am certain. Once that smooth gray cover is opened, it can never really be closed again. So we are holding off as long as we can.

Happily (?) driving in the summer offers some great views of construction vehicles and I always come loaded for bear when it comes to travel entertainment. Whenever we go anywhere, by plane or car, I pack their backpacks with new (well, new to them, anyway) books, crayons, random items I have squirreled away all year.

And a plastic bag. Because the big guy throws up in the car.

They pull their own suitcases, too. Really fast.

They pull their own suitcases, too. Really fast.

So, the Fun Apartment is on the move. Let’s see how this goes. . .






Filed under Living Small, The outside world

40 winks . . . to zero.

The end of the school year is approaching. This is a time that once filled me with joy and now leaves me with large amounts of dread. Two boys, one mommy, no outside routine. It could get ugly, people.

Mostly this terrifies me because once school gets out, it means the end of the nap. Our Little has been on the verge of not needing it for a while now (which explains why he is still banging around in his crib at this very moment), but I’ve been insisting, because nap time is also “Mommy’s utterly self-indulgent restorative time.” And it will come to an end. Soon.

That in itself is somewhat remarkable, because at least someone in my care has been napping now for five and a half years. And while this happened, I could flip my brain around for a little while and do things, like . . . well . . . umm, actually I’m not sure what I did, but it must have been terribly important and productive. You can take my word for it. But I worked hard to get each one of those naps.

After all, there is no shortage of accepted wisdom about putting your baby to sleep. Indeed there is an entire industry centered around this one–seemingly simple in practice!–activity. I followed none of this advice with Little. None.

Don’t nurse the baby to sleep! Put him down awake! Let him learn how to fall asleep on his own!

If you live in a tiny apartment (with the crib directly in the middle), just throw all that good advice out the window. I nursed our little guy right out, for bedtime and for naps, until he was almost 18 months old.* Why did I do this? Well, mostly because I had to. If I put him down awake, he was going to stay that way. If I wanted him to sleep (and I did–desperately) I had to put him down asleep. Otherwise, I would have to barricade myself and his older brother in our bedroom for two utterly silent hours. As it was, there were times when I had to count on a 3 year old not making ANY noise for 45 minutes while I bounced, snuggled, and shushed the little guy until he finally succumbed to the sandman. That is like asking a 3 year old to list the works of Shakespeare in order of publication, or to gulp down the kale smoothie without complaint. (To his credit, he did the first thing like a champ. The other two, well we’re still working on it. When was A Winter’s Tale written, again?)

Ever since Big went off to school, I have the luxury of spending lots of time to get the nap going. I still cuddle and sing him to sleep. It takes time, yes. And I put in that time, because that nap is my only break in the zany tedium blissful cakewalk that is stay at home mothering.

What do I do during nap time? I read. And I eat lunch. All by myself. (It sounds vaguely pornographic, doesn’t it?)

Mind you, for several months now, I have to keep his nap to a bare minimum, lest he be staring at me wide awake as I tumble into bed. But if he doesn’t catch that tiny bit of sleep midday, our evenings are spent with a tiny boxer who can’t hold his liquor. If he isn’t punching the cat or his brother, he’s slumped over one of us, declaring his love and fealty. So I know that my quiet, sanity-restoring literary lunches are not long for this world.

And quickly. Once Big is paroled from kindergarten, trying for nap time would closely resemble a hostage situation. Scooping out my eyes with a spoon sounds like more fun. Plus, I don’t think our fire escape would support all those hostage negotiators and SWAT teams.

So it goes. I have 7 (seven) more nap times left until they are gone forever. I am guarding them fiercely. You can forget about getting me to volunteer for stuff –PTA, I’m looking at you! After those seven naps, I will have to scramble to find that utterly alone time somewhere else — maybe when they are both peeing? That should buy me at least 2 minutes of solitude.

The nap is dead. Long live the nap.


(Have any of those doomsday scenarios of ignoring sleep advice descended upon us? Nope. He can fall asleep by himself and sleeps all night. Rivers continue to run toward the sea.)

*His older brother is not native to the Fun Apartment, and could take all his naps in ANOTHER ROOM. Shortly after we moved, he stopped napping. Too much fun, I guess.

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Filed under Living Small, Mistakes I have made