Motherhood, Marriage and Other Wild Rides

Health, Happiness and the Pursuit of Mommyhood

Top 10 Foods to Help Little Ones Sleep Better June 22, 2009

We’ve  certainly had our issues with bedtime. Both our boys require strategic, point-by-point operations before they will agree to close their eyes for the night. We’ve tried everything (and I do mean everything) to put them to sleep, including altering their dinner options to encourage a restful sleep.

Regardless of the book or manuals you read, what works and doesn’t work in parenting is often learned through trial and error. As far as the foods we’ve  been choosing before bedtime, apparently we’ve been following the wrong tack.

While many stand by a high-protein pre-bedtime routine, (citing the side benefits of turkey because it contains sleep-inducing tryptophan), researchers have nixed this connection. It turns out turkey, like most foods, just doesn’t contain enough tryptophan to put you to sleep, explains Elizabeth Somer, R.D., author of The Food & Mood Cookbook: Recipes for Eating Well and Feeling Your Best

This comes as a surprise to me. As a former macrobiotic, I thought I knew a thing or two about the food-mood connection. Instead, Somer recommends we choose light but high-carbohydrate snacks in order to boost levels of serotonin (the brain’s sleep chemical) without overloading  the digestive system. Of course, it never hurts to wash them down with something warm and soothing, such as a cup of herbal tea (chamomile or lemon balm) or warm milk. Perhaps I’ll try incorporating a little tea-party ritual with the boys before bedtime.

The Top 10 Foods to Promote Sleep
Try one of these yummy foods about an hour before bedtime. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that your little one (and you!) get a good night’s rest tonight!

  • A 4-ounce baked potato topped with salsa
  • Half of a whole-wheat English muffin or raisin bagel drizzled with honey
  • 1 slice whole or multi-grain bread smeared with almond or cashew butter
  • Half a cup of pasta topped with marinara sauce
  • 2 cups air-popped popcorn
  • Fresh strawberries dunked in a little fat-free chocolate syrup
  • A handful of oyster crackers and one piece of fruit
  • A small slice of angel food cake topped with berries
  • A frozen whole-wheat waffle, toasted, with maple syrup
  • Half a cup of pretzels   
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Win! 1 of 4 Copies of “Because I Said So” by Dawn Meehan March 29, 2009

meehanbookNeed a laugh?
I’m giving away 4 FREE copies of Dawn Meehan’s new book, “Because I Said So…And Other Tales From a Less-Than-Perfect Parent”!

Meehan began her writing career with a hilarious eBay auction for a package of Pokemon cards inadvertently placed in her shopping cart by one of her six (yes, SIX!) children during a particularly harrowing grocery shopping trip. The story she told was so engagingly funny (haven’t all us moms had our own “special” moments in the grocery store with our own wild monkeys, er, innocent cherubs?) that her popular auction listing earned her appearances on NPR, ABC World News with Charles Gibson, CBS and CNN. (And she sold the cards for $142.51!)

Dawn Meehan’s wonderful, warm and funny book is filled with tales from the motherhood trenches, as she pokes fun at her mothering mishaps–but always with a tender heart toward her family.

A natural story-teller, Meehan shares her tales of triumph and woes much like we might dish about our own parenting dilemmas at a playgroup–and always with a positive, funny spin. I found her book comforting. There have been plenty of nights I’ve laid awake next to a toddler who just… won’t… go… to… SLEEEEEP! breaking apart and examining my struggles over what ought to be easy (a simple visit to the post office, convincing a child to put on his shoes and get in the car, deciding whether the boys can have an extra cookie or let them bawl about it for the next hour.) Dawn Meehan understands these struggles—and bears witness to them daily with her six kids—with a big heart and patience to spare, sharing it all with a good laugh.

Moms Like It!

  • “If you’re having a crazy day, read Because I Said So… and not just because, er, I said so, but because it’s fun and probably a lot like your life six times over.” — Jen Singer, creator, MommaSaid.net, and author, Stop Second-Guessing Yourself The Toddler Years
  • “No parent is perfect. But if you’ve ever found yourself in the unpleasant company of other parents who didn’t happen to get that memo, then this is the book for you. Because I Said So will have you laughing until your cheeks hurt, and you might even start feeling a whole lot better about your own parental adventures. You’re going to love this book!” — Martha Bolton, bestselling author
  • “Stories more gripping than duct tape and humor funnier than a stand-up comic! I laughed until cappuccino came out my nose. Many have claimed to be the next Erma Bombeck, but only Dawn Meehan can rightfully wear that bathrobe. Hers is the permanent new voice of parenting humor for us all.” — Debi Stack, author of Smotherly LoveTM: I Know Where Your Buttons Are and I’m Not Afraid to Push Them

WIN! One of FOUR free copies of Dawn Meehan’s new book, Because I Said So!  All you need to do is leave a comment on this blogpost!
Four winners will be randomly selected on April 30, 2009. 
Keep it for yourself–or give this heart-warming book as a gift for Mother’s Day or a baby shower! (My Aunt Janet had six kids (all boys—gasp!) Hmm, I think I might send her a copy. It’s cheaper than therapy.)

Learn more at Guidepost Books, or visit Dawn at BecauseISaidSo.com.

 

September is National Baby Safety Month September 16, 2008

Having a baby in the house changes everything. Lurking next to those seemingly innocuous blinds on the windows are cords which can strangle with little plastic pulls which can choke. The ongoing battle with your mate to keep the toilet seat down is now a life-or-death matter. It’s a scary world out there…er, in here. 

Following are some safety tips from www.usa.safekids.org that can help prevent child injuries inside the home. They are the bare minimum. Read on for a detailed approach to home safety.

  • Install hardware-mounted safety gates at the top and bottom of stairways with two or more steps. Pressure-mounted models may not be strong enough.
  • Keep toilet lids closed and locked, and doors to bathrooms and utility rooms closed, when not in use. Put razors, curling irons and hair dryers out of reach.
  • Lock up potential poisons out of children’s reach. This includes alcoholic beverages, household cleaning formulas, laundry supplies, medications (including nonprescription varieties like vitamins, children’s Tylenol or Advil), paint, kerosene, gasoline, charcoal, lighter fluid, bug spray, pesticides, and fertilizers.
  • Cover every electrical outlet in your home with a child-resistant outlet cover (the plastic plugs are easy to pry out).
  • Keep furniture away from windows. Install guards or stops on windows that are not emergency exits.

For Newborns and Infants (under three months)

Premobile little ones need special precautions, predominantly in the areas where baby will be sleeping (list compiled by Wayne Parker.)

Crib Safety. “We used to lose too many babies to accidents in cribs or bassinets,” says Parker, “so the standards are now pretty clear. New cribs generally meet them, but if you are using an older or second-hand crib, you will need to be extra careful.”

  • Use a crib made since 1992 that meets safety standards set by the American Society for Testing and Material (ASTM).
  • Be sure the crib mattress fits snugly. You should be able to slide only one finger between the mattress and the side rails and headboard. If it is wider than that, get a larger mattress.
  • Don’t use a crib that has wide or raised corner posts or decorative cutouts in the headboard since a baby’s head could become trapped there, or loose clothing could get caught and increase the risk of strangling the baby.
  • The slats on the crib should be 2 3/8 inches apart or less; any wider and a baby’s head can get caught between them.
  • Make sure all screws, bolts, and other hardware are securely installed to prevent the crib from collapsing.
  • Never put pillows, extra bedding, electric blankets, heating pads, or stuffed animals in a crib. Babies can easily suffocate, and it can happen quickly.

Changing Tables. A popular item in nurseries, the changing table is very convenient, but can be a risk if not secured.

  • Install and use a safety belt on your infant’s changing table. Babies can get a little rambunctious and can easily slide off the table if they are not strapped in.
  • Place a rug under the changing table and crib, which will offer some cushion in case of a fall.

For Crawlers and Walkers

Once a baby is mobile, making your home safe is almost a daily chore. Here are some important items from  Parenthood.com to watch for:

  • Keep coins, small toys, nail scissors, and balloons (any item that is small enough to fit inside a cardboard toilet paper roll) out of infant’s reach.
  • Remove mobiles and other hanging toys from the crib as soon as your child can reach up and touch them.
  • Shorten drapery and blind cords.
  • Remove the plastic end caps on doorstops, or replace the stops with a one-piece design.
  • Drill breathing holes into any trunk you are using as a toy box in case a child gets trapped inside. (And install safety hinges on toy boxes, or buy one with a removable lid to prevent pinched fingers.)
  • Place houseplants out of children’s reach; know the names of all plants in case a child eats one of them.
  • Keep a bottle of Ipecac and activated charcoal in your home, but use only when instructed by a medical professional.
  • Install ground fault circuit interrupters on outlets near sinks and bathtubs since they stop the electrical current when an appliance gets wet.
  • Place screened barriers around fireplaces, radiators, and portable space heaters.
  • Pad the edges of coffee tables and brick or tile fireplaces.
  • Remove the crib bumper pad as soon as your infant can get up on all fours since baby may use it as a step to climb out.
  • Position audio/video equipment so children cannot pull televisions or stereos off furniture.
  • Keep appliance cords wrapped short so children cannot pull coffee makers, toasters, and other appliances.
  • Secure bookshelves, entertainment centers, and bureaus to walls since they can topple onto children who use furniture to pull up and stand.
Special Notes
 

Bedtime Roulette April 1, 2008

Filed under: Baby Bedtime Drama,Lacko Family Chronicles — rjlacko @ 11:45 pm
Tags: , , ,

I’ve whined about it before: Our 3-year-old Joseph will do anything (and I do mean anything) to avoid going to bed. However, I haven’t spoke of our nighttime strife in quite a while, so I feel absolved from any guilt about moaning about it further.

I’d first like to note that there are, increasingly, evenings when he goes to bed with nary a foot-stomp, plea-bargain or meltdown. In fact, my husband and I are so very hopeful, so naively optimistic about their increasing frequency that we “expect” little Joseph will go to bed before events of grave importance (for example, a new episode of Lost). 

Like the odds of winning at Roulette (even Albert Einstein is reported to have said, “The only way to beat Roulette is to steal chips off the table when the dealer isn’t looking”, or something like that), our chances of landing on a win is slim. Of course, our roulette table is not slotted with numbers and colors, but ingenious ploys to prolong or avoid altogether the march to dreamland. I’ll give you a partial list. Keep in mind, the following are not isolated tactics; they are all used in combination and succession…over several hours.

I suppose I should also note that our son would sooner walk through hot coals than go to bed by himself. Every night, after bath, books and snuggling, one of us has to lay with him until he goes to sleep or he will bring down the house with wailing and kicking and screaming. So, the following takes place upon “lights out,” as we lay together waiting for his eyes to close.

1. The Classic: Read another story! (We read anywhere from 3-6 books at naps and bedtime. Sometimes the same one 3 times in a row.)
2. The Classic II: “Water, please. Want water.”
3. The Classic II with Torture: Chanting “want water, mommy (or daddy)” over and over and over and over… he will whisper it, cry it, whine it, scream, then whisper again, for more than an hour. During this particular ploy, we take turns shushing and begging him to stop. It’s mind-melting.
4. I need my: Joseph will begin a list of things he “needs”. These items might include his jacket; birthday cake; Bonkers the stuffed frog; his Brookie pillow (a pillow his cousin Brooke sewed for him); Baby Hippo; Barker Jr. (stuffed dog); cheese; broccoli; his blankie; (you get the idea).
5. “Light on!” “Light on!” he chants, hoping we will go back to book reading. 
6. “Close the door!”
7. “Want music!”
8. “Fan!” (ceiling fan, that is.)
9. Kicking: A little foot comes up and nudges your back or hip. Every so softly. Over and over.
10. Hand holding. I actually love laying with my little son in the dark holding hands. I know that he won’t go to sleep until we are cuddled together and holding hands in spoon position (and I just love the smell of his hair!), but as you can see it can be a long haul to get to that moment. Sometimes he slips right into sleep so naturally and beautifully that my love for him just swells and glows. Other nights, he tosses and turns, changing hands, changing sleep positions, dropping my hand, then searching for it, etc.
11. Flipping the pillow. He will demand that his pillow be flipped. Within a minute, he demands it be flipped back. This may happen a few times, but it always ends up on the original side.
12. Blankets up to his chin. Blankets kicked down to his feet.
13. Taking his jammie top off.
14. Suddenly asking for the potty. 99% of the time, nothing happens once we get to it.
15. “I do it myself! Myself!” This is the kiss of death, because he is usually quite wound up when he begins this campaign. He wants to go to bed by himself (a concept we’ve tried to teach him countless times) but the moment you agree, kiss him goodnight and say, “see you in the morning!” there he appears, right at your heals. He doesn’t stay in bed by himself for as long as it takes to return to your own room.
16. “Tickle my back!”: Again, my husband and I both like to do this for him, but it would be nice if, in exchange, he would fall asleep.
17. Ever so slowly edging off the bed.

Adding insult to injury, at school he goes to sleep like a dream; at home, we are clearly nothing short of chumps. How did we get to this place? That’s easy: by catering to our son. From infancy we let him sleep with us until we were too exhausted to function, then we played along with his little games because we’d just moved into a new house and wanted him to feel comfortable, then we put him in a new school and wanted to reassure him, then because we just had another baby and wanted him to adjust…

During numerous conversations about this dilemma, my husband Joseph and I agree that, in truth, we both greatly enjoy aspects of laying with him, namely the snuggling, kisses goodnight and quiet talk about events of the day. It’s the rest of it that has gotten old. And, that many nights, we don’t even get to see each other, because little Joseph carries on these, um, “hi-jinx” until late into the evening. Sigh. My husband swears that the rest of the world uses the Ferber method and lets the child cry it out. He probably believes this because we’ve tried every other method in parentdom. I just can’t believe that refusing to answer a child’s increasing panic over being left alone is the healthiest approach. What about his ability to trust that we will meet his needs? Of course, exactly how healthy is our current “method”?

 

Cool Decor Ideas for Kid’s Rooms! March 24, 2008

This previously published story is now available for FREE reprint.
Simply include my byline and drop me a note indicating when and where it will appear.
  

Decorating your child’s room presents an unusual dilemma: unlike the kitchen or living room, decorating your child’s room is an opportunity to actively involve your child in the process, helping define his or her favorite colors, interests, and personality.

Sit down with your child—if you can find a place to sit in that bedroom!—and talk about the stuff that makes up his or her life. Your child wants a cool hangout for friends and hobbies, and wants a look that expresses his or her individuality and independence. You want a room that can be kept organized, provides a study area, and is a complement to the rest of the home. The challenge is to create a special place that is a sleeping retreat, study, computer and audio-video room, and an entertaining space for friends. Where to begin?

Color, color, color! You know the old maxim: painting the walls is one of the most cost-effective yet dramatic remodels. The neutral palette in your dining area may be stunning, but in your kid’s room, double-dog-dare yourself. Paint the whole room in one solid hue, try color “blocks” (large squares of hues that “ground” a picture, mirror, or row of shelves) or try mixing paints and papers in contemporary patterns. Paint the walls in colors which best reflect your child’s personality; those are the hues that are most likely to make your child feel comfortable in his or her surroundings.

Pink. Your child is gentle and affectionate. A good communicator, your child lets people know how fond she is of them.
Yellow. Your child has an expansive personality that is bubbly and warm. He or she is cheerful, energetic and spirited in all activities.
Orange. Your child likes to lead games and be active. Talkative and lively, he or she has a generous spirit.
Red. Your child is competitive and socially assertive. Learning stimulates him or her, including dramatic artistic pursuits, such as theater and music. Your child is passionate about life.
Green. Your child is nurturer, caring for pets, and is sensitive to others’ feelings. Your child is relaxed, and enjoys the great outdoors.
Purple. Your child quietly observes others in social situations, which can give him or her a mysterious air. An intuitive soul, your child is comforting and reassuring when someone is troubled.
Blue. Your child is easy-going. He or she is comfortable with both friends and solo activities. His or her room is a place of tranquillity and peace.

San Diego-based Interior Decorator Michelle Strausbaugh assures parents, “If your child chooses a wall color you just can’t agree to, compromise by using the color in an area rug, beanbag chair or pillows. Should they tire of it, a new favorite can easily replace it.” 

Eye-catching lighting
Great lighting adds warmth and character to a room. Pendant lights are ideal for creating soft, diffused lighting without using any floor space. Hung overhead, these lights are away from curious hands and ever-growing limbs. Loose wires can be tamed with cord covers painted to match the wall. With cords and fixtures readily available for a very low cost, virtually anything can be made into a pendant light, simply by drilling a hole in the fixture. Keep glare and fire hazards to a minimum with low wattage (40w or less) bulbs. Hang different size pendants in an attractive grouping, or align 2-4 identical pendants in a row. 

Genius organizational tricks
Clothes, sporting equipment, books and CDs all require storage. Your local home center has a selection of closet organization systems available to manage everything in one spot. Many of these systems are adjustable, so that if your child gives up soccer for baseball, the shelves can be moved around to accommodate a glove and bat instead of a soccer ball. Install inexpensive bracket or floating shelves just below the ceiling to house books and mementos, or stack colorful cubes or bins for modular storage. Simple, inexpensive wood shelves look fabulous when the back is painted a contrasting or deeper hue than the bedroom wall, adding depth. Magnetic boards hold calendars and photos. Strausbaugh suggests parents “keep clutter in check by placing smaller toys in attractive baskets, or cover plain, cardboard containers with funky paper. Label containers so children can participate in clean up–for small children apply pictures of contents.”
Involve your child when deciding what goes where: he or she knows how often an item is used, and those daily items should be easily reached and replaced. Come up with the categories that make sense for your kid: Sports, Hobbies, Toys, Clothing, School stuff. The more your child feels a part of this process, the greater the likelihood he or she will keep up with the organization.  

Kids spend a lot of time with friends in their rooms, so choose additional seating pieces that do double-duty. Ottomans with built-in storage can house games or hobbies while also serving as a footstool or a game or snack table. Another great choice is an oversized armchair or futon that folds out to a twin bed: perfect for a stay-over guest! 

Grouping collections
Be sure to place all like items (all dolls, trophies, figurines, etc.) in one location. More attractive to the eye, this showcases your child’s interests and is a principle of feng shui. At clean-up time, putting things back where they belong is a no-brainer. Strausbaugh arranges favorite photos or sports cards on desktops, positioning clear or colored plexi-glass over the items to create a fun and washable work area.  

Setting up study areas
Your child’s desk is where greatness begins. Facilitate longer, more comfortable study periods by ensuring ample space to spread out books and papers in front of a computer. Pair it with a comfy chair. Choose a high-quality halogen light for the desk; Don’t depend on the ceiling fixture, which casts shadows, is not bright enough, and may cause headaches. Teach your child to put away pens, pencils and study materials before bed, leaving a tidy surface. This practice will help your child to have a more restful sleep, and presents a fresh space to get started for the next study session.  

Extra Special Extras!
Strausbaugh adds whimsy to kids’ rooms. “Kids love a ceiling with personality! Paint it a bright color, string twinkle lights, or hang their favorite posters. Utilize colorful clips to hang your child’s favorite items—photos, hats, stuffed animals, found items—to a cable system or clothing line strung across the room.   

 

RSV …P? Infectious Virus Comes to the Party February 22, 2008

I stood at th door, chatting with my neighbor as she packed up her drowsy two-year-old after a ruckus third birthday party for little Joseph. “It was so nice to have you over! We haven’t seen you in ages,” I offered. To reply, she dropped this bomb: “yeah, we’ve been busy. Last week the kids were all sick with RSV.” I gulped hard, meekly repeating, “RSV?”

If I were able to pronounce it, I might have shouted, “Respiratory Syncycial Virus!” as though it were an accusation, shaking my fist in protest. 

Sure enough, two days later, my son (who had blown into every last noisemaker available at the party, regardless of owner) developed a barking cough, runny nose and slight fever–fetchingly accessorized with a wad of goop in each eye. Eeew. Then, my little Noah, shirker of every cold and flu, began to bark and cough, rasping for breath and crying every time he swallowed. Then Daddy got it. Either I’ve got a heck of an immune system, or my ability to catch a virus is as sharp as my my ability to catch anything thrown my way, but it always takes several weeks of repeated exposure if I finally catch a virus.

According to Dr. Jim Sears, RSV is a virus that causes a respiratory tract infection. It can cause respiratory tract illness in patients of all ages, but children under the age of one are especially vulnerable. RSV is a very serious concern for infants. In fact, it is the most common cause of bronchiolitis and pneumonia and is the leading cause of viral death in children under the age of five. It has also been shown that RSV is the number one reason for hospitalization of children under the age of one.

At 11 o’clock at night, this is not the news you want to read when your 10-month-old infant is feverish, red-faced and wailing. None of us slept. I kept vigil over my fitful baby, nudging him whenever the word “apnea” broke across my sleepy mind, and my husband tended to little Joseph. The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say each year as many as 125,000 children are hospitalized with serious RSV disease and some may die from complications. We were officially freaked out.

The next day, a visit to our ped (Dr. Mitchell Naficy) put us at ease. The boys are sick, but it isn’t life-threatening, and better yet, there is nothing we can do but ride it out, expecting symtoms to disappear over 3-4 days. I say ‘better yet’, because I also read about a shot called Synagis® (palivizumab) which may be administered (and anyone who knows me knows how I hate “new” pharmaceuticals (It’s 10 years old.). Reality check: little Joseph has embraced his “sick days” indoors—vitamin-fortified juices are appearing regularly, we’re cuddling up for Jungle Book and old Charlie Brown reruns, and of course, the three P’s (puzzles, painting and play dough.) Noah, on the other hand, is miserable. Fever after fever, sore throat and lack of appetite. Thank God I’m still nursing, or the child might starve and/or dehydrate.

Dr. Naficy also mentioned how these symtoms are sweeping the nation. In fact, I was on the phone with my dad who was visiting retired friends in Florida this month with exactly the same cough and cold and also ran into my neighbor whose daughter was one of our party guests, and she has developed “the bark.”

The birthday gift that just keeps on giving! 

Allow me to close with a personal note so obvious I shouldn’t have to say it: Don’t bring your sick kid to a birthday party! RSVP no, thank you, we have RSV! 

**For information on natural remedies for kids and families that are proven shorten the duration of the common cold, check out Winter Wellness!

 

Gluten-free, Schmooten-free November 16, 2007

I’m on the verge of giving up. The only thing stopping me from waving bye-bye to our gluten-free experiment is my husband’s absence–he’s on a business trip until Saturday night, and we are all in this together. So until he returns, I’ll grin and bare it.

His trip cushions him from toddler tantrum fallout; I’m a one-woman tantrum-wrangler, while nursing and entertaining my infant on the side. I haven’t been able to even shower since he left, but I did pick up a nice ylang-ylang candle today, so at least it will smell pretty around here until he gets back…

OK, the lowdown: Little Joseph’s school has, after all, not been as supportive as I’d thought. They like to bake muffins, etc., and little Joseph enjoys the yummy results. And so he should, I imagine. Even as an adult with self-control, self-awareness, and well, concern that I should gain too much “self”, if I were hanging about with a bunch of friends baking muffins, I know perfectly well I’d want to help myself to them, warm right out of the oven, and would be greatly disappointed if I were excluded.

Regardless, I have been faithfully serving only gluten-free foods to Joseph at home and I have to admit, the tantrums come and go as mysteriously as ever, even after several days in a row of being only with us, without the interruption of nursery-school food. To be honest, it’s tricky to figure out what to serve him. We all consider the soy-based angel hair pasta a big hit–high in protein, low in calories, and low-glycemic, it also meets the grown-ups’ nutrition requirements. While my first attempts at making gluten-free bread were quite spectacular, for some reason I have not hit a homerun since. We’ve, unfortunately, had to throw out more bread than I care to admit, because it either did not cook evenly (mush on the inside, cement on the outside), was hard as rocks or completely unpalatable. I’ve considered just getting a bread maker, but, even though I’ve been using packaged mixes, I like the centuries-old tradition of bread making. For whatever reason, I’ve always held a certain respect for breadmakers–it’s truly an art craft, and I feel like buying an electric bread-maker would be like the skilled quilter resigning herself to machine stitches. (Not that I can quilt, either.)

Here is where we stand: I love my son and I would go to the ends of the earth for him. When I picked him up from school the other day, he spontaneously decided to give each classmate a hug before leaving. He was waving and shouting, “bye-bye! adios! sayonara!” walking out of the school and was full of giggles. He ate a good dinner and we played games and watched some Diego. By bathtime, however, he was screaming “mine, mine mine!” in the tub (what he was referring to is anyone’s guess) and throwing bath toys and washcloths all over the bathroom. When I got him out, he spent the next hour screaming, kicking and carrying on like a wild monkey, and then, sigh, finally settled into his bed and snuggled me and gave kisses and hugs for another hour and was once again my sweet angel. What on earth?! Is he secretly a pre-menstrual teen-aged girl? Perhaps I should invite the cast of puppets from Baby Einstein over to stage a toddler version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

By contrast, my little infant Noah just giggles and smiles. Then laughs, then chatters. He goes to sleep when I put him in the crib, and he waits patiently while I stir organic apple sauce into his brown rice cereal with nary a complaint. He keeps me sane. He keeps little Joseph sane–he loves to love up his baby brother with kisses, and even when he’s in the middle of a breakdown will pause to hand Noah a toy.

So, my gameplan is a.) find a new approach/reaction to little J’s unbridled screaming fits, and b.) try making a bigger deal out of his good behavior than I do out of his undesirable behavior.

And, maybe this weekend I’ll make whole grain pancakes.