Sunday, February 28, 2010

Quaking

I woke up Saturday morning, excited to spend the weekend with Jen up in the city, but first was greeted by the news that an 8.8 earthquake had hit Chile.

From what I read in that first news article, I wasn't too worried about my family, most of whom live in Santiago (200miles north of the epicenter), but it still freaked me out.  And while I knew Chile would be MUCH better set up to handle this (thus able to avoid the mass and continuing devastation in Haiti) I still got pretty nervous. I called my dad, who lives in Texas but keeps close contact with all our Chilean family. Unfortunately while the damage in Santiago doesn't seem to have been too bad, power outbreaks were and continue to be rampant, making it difficult to communicate at all.  He finally called Jen and I today relaying news of a conversation with one family member who, when Daddy anxiously asked if they were ok, responded with, "Uh, yeah. Why? How are you?"  As if nothing had happened.

We also just heard from my mom that she talked to one of her old friends, who said he'd been terrified the whole 90 seconds that his house shook, holding his wife's hand in bed and just waiting for it all to come crashing down.  So, clearly, there are a few differing perspectives on how bad the earthquake was... but, thankfully, it seems everyone we know is ok, at worst needing to tend to some minor structural damage to their homes.

While Santiago got off easy, it does seem like Concepcion, which was much closer to the quake's center and is Chile's 2nd largest city (at about 900K people), has been hurt pretty badly.  Santiago is fairly modern, and most of the buildings are made to withstand earthquakes... most of the smaller, more rural areas are not.  They're the ones who'll be having trouble.  Fortunately the death tolls should be nowhere near what haiti has seen (This CNN update claims death tolls are just over 300 people so far) but there are probably still many, many more who might be left homeless or otherwise in pretty bad shape.  If you are interested in donating to disaster relief, please check out these resources for doing so.

Thanks to everyone who's been sending messages and asking about my family. I very much appreciate the outpouring of love. =)

PS- I just remembered this link of pictures shared via Twitter of post-earthquake damage in Chile.  And, BTW, I did still go up to the city and Jen and I had an incredibly wonderful time.  But those stories will wait till later....

EDIT: Damn, many reports now saying the death tolls is up to 700 and growing.  My heart goes out to everyone in Concepcion, Talca, and surrounding areas... and so, so glad it wasn't closer to Santiago.

Friday, February 26, 2010

on the relationship of distance and heart fondness

Despite getting sick over the weekend, this week's been going pretty well.  Donovan went to Miss Pam's house on Monday and Wednesday mornings, 9-12, and while the Wednesday morning drop-off was fairly traumatic, he seems to be enjoying his time there and feeling fairly comfortable.  Anytime I ask him about going to her house to play he smiles real big and gets all excited, which is a very good sign.

And let me tell you, three hours may not be all that long but it was MAGICAL to get that block of time to just get.stuff.done.  He even came home afterwards and took a good 1.5-2hr nap.  I could really get used to this new schedule... ; )  That said, I also noticed a very funny phenomenon on Wednesday, when I went to Target after dropping D off, and I found myself noticing every little blond-haired boy in the 1-4 year age group, and smiling wistfully after them, thinking about my own adorable kiddo whom I suddenly very much missed.

Which I suppose is also part of the point.  Getting that little bit of space so I remember how much I miss him when not around him.  It's surprisingly easy to forget when in the throes of a tantrum.

The weather has been all over the place this week, sunny and warmish one day, freezing cold the next, and today it's pouring down rain with winds so strong that one plank of our fence broke off.  I'm hoping the weather's a bit better tomorrow, as Jen and I have plans for a SISTERS NIGHT OUT!!! I'll head up to the city tomorrow afternoon, we'll hang out, go to a show, I'll spend the night at her place, then Zach and D will drive up Sunday to meet up with us and spend some family together time in SF.

I have to say, I'm a bit embarrassed that the thought of planning something like this had never even crossed my mind before for some reason.  It wasn't until Andrew moved to SF and suddenly Zach was making plans to spend one night hanging out with him every month, that the lightbulb went off and I said, "Hey wait a minute, I have a sister in the city, I could do that, too!"

It's amazing how far-reaching that sense of must-always-be-with-your-baby-can't-leave-him-alone-for-too-long-even-with-his-very-competent-and-loving-father really is.

Jen sent me an email the other day to try to plan out a little, and in it she asked me, "do you want to go eat breakfast on sunday morning somewhere there's a WAIT?? because you CAN???" And I laughed out loud, because it is SO TRUE.  Somehow those mundane things you dreaded doing before (like waiting for a table, or flying cross country) can seem absolutely luxurious once you become a parent and get the chance to do them alone.  Life's funny that way, isn't it?

I look forward to having a fun weekend and another opportunity to miss this little cutie pie:

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Six word sunday: A bit furry but good company

I woke this morning with a strange tummy ache. Then it got worse... And soon it was clear that I would not be able to handle doing much of anything today. As in, I spent the day lying either on the couch, or in bed.
I'm currently blamingt food right now, specifically the Quiznos turkey sandwich I had yesterday. I will never again doubt Zach's vendetta against deli meats.

Zach's been great all day, keeping D out of the house so I could veg out and distract myself with our old SATC DVDs. Then I napped for 4 hrs in the afternoon.

My stomach feels much better now, almost feel up to eating. But I can hardly stand up w/o feeling like I'm gonna faint. (am writing this on my phome bc the computer feels too far away)

Sierra's been my companion all day. It's been kinda nice to just lay with her- hardly ever get the chance these days.

I'm hoping to be all better tomorrowm but Zach's gonna take a sick day just in case.

My hubby rocks, y'all.

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Friday, February 19, 2010

mini escape

Last Thursday evening, as I was making sure my bags were packed (I'd managed to fit everything into my carry-on! I was so proud!) and about to get to bed, I got a call from Polli about how our flight, and thus our plans to go to Florida, were cancelled.

A few minutes later Zach is on the computer and, figuring that a) I would now be around for the weekend, b) it was Valentine's Day weekend, and c) we already had a babysitter (my mom) here ready and willing to take care of D as much as we wanted her to, decided to look up what hotel rates were for a night in San Francisco.  Turns out the recession is still hitting the tourism industry (or must be) b/c we found a great rate, and so got to spend Sunday night in SF just the two of us.

I intentionally didn't bring the dslr with us, since I wanted to just spend time together, but I did snap a handful of pictures with our point&shoot that I figured I'd share.

Sunday morning started out by picking Jen up from the Caltrain station, then all of us heading down to the farmers market for some shopping.  Then in the early afternoon Zach and I packed up a few things and drove up to the city.  We got to the room and just hung out for a bit (I sometimes feel guilty about not making the most of time in the city by going out and doing stuff, but then again when you get free time away from the kiddo sometimes the nicest thing to do is just... be), then headed out to meet up with Zach's brother, Andrew, and his girl-friend Jakki, who JUST MOVED HERE!!!  And are now living in a cute little apartment near Chinatown, with Frank, their pet rat (there's a whole story as to how they got Frank from Texas to California, but that will be for later telling... I'm trying to convince Andrew to write a guest post for me telling it, as he'll do it better justice than I).

We decided to go to North Beach to find a place to eat.  We wandered around exploring different streets for a good half-hour or longer.  I followed along, wondering from time to time why we were avoid the two streets in North Beach that have *all* the restaurants on them.  Jakki wondered why we didn't bother deciding on a place before leaving their apartment.  Meanwhile, Andrew started complaining about being disappointed by the lack of offerings by this hyped-up neighborhood.

Finally we decide to head down Columbus and lo and behold! We find a place within the first block.  And it doesn't even have much of a wait.  And the food was good.

(There's a lesson in here somewhere...)

But, dinner was good, we had a good time, and as we were having our dessert we even had a couple sit down at the next table who were carrying pillows so we got to ask them about the Valentine's Day Pillow Fight.

The next morning we thought about going to one of the many great breakfast places Jenny suggested... and decided instead to sleep in longer, then grab the free breakfast at the Starbucks in the hotel lobby.  And then we went back to our room and enjoyed the view until check-out time.


I took this at about 11am.  When we first got up a few hours earlier, it was so foggy the entire window was just WHITE.  You couldn't see *anything.*  Luckily, the fog did burn off for the most part, and it turned out to be a lovely day.

One thing that struck me is that the view is nice and all, except you see all the ugly tops of the buildings. One or two of them had converted the rooftops into patios, even with garden space, and I have to wonder why that isn't done more often.  Seems an easy way to a) get more "green space" in such a dense city, and b) make the city and views as a whole much prettier.  It seems to make even more sense when you consider that SF is one of those places where you could sit out on a rooftop deck and enjoy the weather most of the year.

After checking out we tried to drive to Golden Gate park to enjoy the nice weather, but apparently everyone else in the city had the same plan, to then we tried heading over to the beach, but that's where the gorgeous sun left us as we realized the water's edge was still engulfed in fog.  So we gave up and started driving south, though did pull off to one lookout stop that Zach wanted to check out.  And right there, in the middle of the parking lot, were these guys hanging out:


(And also this one, who apparently didn't like the provided stand)

We did stop at In-N-Out for lunch, then to REI for Zach to look at snowshoes.  Then we went home.  I know, not the most exciting of weekends.  We certainly don't take advantage of all SF has to offer. But, then again, I figure it's ok to be boring as long as we're just enjoying spending time together.  =)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

free range: kids, food

40/365
A few books I've picked up lately.  I finished Free Range Kids last week, and am currently making my way through the last section of In Defense of Food (haven't gotten to the book on power struggles yet).  Both of these books have blown me away.  I highly recommend them.  Not everyone might agree with everything in Free Range Kids (even I had a thing here or there that I didn't agree with) but overall it is very eye-opening, and makes you re-think many of our standards today as parents.  It helped remind me of how crazy and unrealistically high the bar has been raised for parents (so much so, that when Alice at finslippy writes this post, the comments section is filled not with shock and alarm but with a loud chorus of "Me, too!"s), and also opened my eyes about a LOT of cultural myths (for example, did you know there has never been a single documented case of anyone purposefully poisoning Halloween candy or putting anything sharp in fruit to hand out? Like, ever?).

Also, if nothing else, in a world where most parenting books seem to have the sole purpose of telling you how you're doing things the wrong way and if you don't do them the "right way" (aka what the author tells you) you'll end up with kids who are messed up and hate you for the rest of their lives, it is really friggin nice to read a book that instead says, "You know what? Most of how your kids turn out is nature/genetics anyway, and chances are no one of those little decisions you make each day (short of outright abuse/neglect) is really going to cause long-term damage. So relax. It's OK."

In Defense of Food has also been incredibly interesting. I'm always a little weary of reading these kinds of books b/c afterwards you feel morally obligated to make all sorts of changes to how you eat, and then feel guilty when you don't follow through.  Fast Food Nation, for example, almost but didn't quite manage to make me give up red meat (though it is now a rare treat now and then).  But, so far it's just been insanely interesting, and motivating.  It helps that Zach has been on a huge greens kick lately, buying collard greens and bok choy and other dark, leafy greens at the market every week and figuring out how best to cook them (turns out copious amounts of butter help quite a lot).

And that's part of what's nice about this book-- it's not about how this is good for you, or that's bad, and don't eat sweets, blah blah blah.  In fact, one of its main points is that there isn't one type of food or nutrient that is inherently really good or really bad (ok, maybe trans fats...) but that you really should look at the big picture when it comes to food.  The rules are simple: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."  Mainly, avoid processed foods.  Try to eat a balance, but don't obsess about your intake of fats vs protein, vitamins and omega-3, etc.  And that we're probably better off overall eating those sauteed greens, even with all the butter, than having another pasta-based dinner.

Next week, D will start spending a couple hours in a nearby home daycare center, 2 mornings a week.  One of my goals for that (glorious! wonderful! can you tell I'm excited!) extra free time I will have, is to spend more time on the food we eat-- planning, shopping, cooking.  I'm not much of a cook, but I'd like to change that.  I want to foster good eating habits, for Zach and I and also for D who is forming his food/taste habits now.  Luckily, we live in a place where it is easy to find fresh, whole foods, and that is something to take advantage of.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

10 Things That Make Me Happy (REVISED)

*Ahem* So apparently I have upset a certain husband of mine with my list.  Because he's not in it.  See, I kinda figured things like my HUSBAND and CHILD were, you know, unspoken things that of course make me happy, every day (or, well, most days at least).  I took the exercise to mean those little things in life that make your day.

So, Let me amend my list as follows:

0) My wonderful, sweet, loving, caring, understanding, and forgiving husband.
0.1) My adorable son.
0.2) Sierra and Nev, since they also deserve a prideful spot in this so-obvious-it-doesn't-even-need-to-be-said list of things that bring me joy.

So there. ; )

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


RULES:
List 10 things that make you happy, then tag 5 bloggers who make your day.

Jessica tagged me for this little blogging happiness exercise, so here is a list of 10 things that make me happy.


1. A good book (and getting the time to read one).
2. Watching my mom play with Donovan, and seeing them both radiate with joy.
3. A full night's sleep.
4. Creating a really beautiful photograph. 
5. Singing along to a favorite song.
6. Dark chocolate.
7. My ipod touch.
8. Getting blog comments.
9. My favorite jeans.
10. The Daily Show.

And now, my 5 bloggers who make me my day: Meg at Sew Liberated, Andrea at Forever is Tomorrow is Today, Criss at Criss Writes, Danielle at New Mommy Rant, and Lindsey at Balancing on a See Saw. Now, go forth and listify! ; )

(originally posted Feb 13, 2010)

to market

One of the great benefits of living in California is the gorgeous weather, and the plentiful farmer's markets. This means that on most Sunday mornings we are able to walk to our local market and pick up fresh foods, usually while enjoying a bit of sun along the way.

This is part of why we pay an arm and a leg to live here.

This past weekend I decided to bring my camera along and capture some markety goodness.  I don't think that many of the pictures came out so great, mainly b/c I was feeling a bit self-concious about taking them and so didn't take too much time to think about composition, etc.  But, I got a few that make me happy, and I hope to make this just one of many farmer's market photo expeditions.  Gotta leave yourself room to improve. ; )

Some beautiful flowers along the way.


A play break, for running and climbing.

More pretty flowers.
45/365

My favorite bread stand ever.

A post-market snack to satisfy a sweet tooth craving.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

change of look

As a teen I was constantly moving things around in my bedroom.  Every few months I'd get bored of the current furniture arrangement and spend a few hours moving everything around.  I don't do that very much anymore, for many reasons... but instead I've found that need for change has been transferred over to my blog.  Every so often I start to feel bored with the current set-up and start itching to change something. 

I've been wanting to change my template for a while, if nothing else because I know the comments layout was funky.  But I've also gotten more and more picky about the kind of layout/look I want, so it gets harder and harder to find something I like, or spend the time customizing it to my tastes.  Which (if you'll allow a random plug here) is one reason I like www.OurBlogTemplates.com -- the colors and fonts on their templates are almost completely customizable from withing Blogger's site, so pretty easy to use one of their templates as a "skeleton" and make it your own by changing the colors and header, etc... which is what I've been doing.  This is their Newspaper template, but with a totally different color scheme. 

I think I'm happy with it, though you may still see little tweaks here and there (change in font style, line added here or there...).  I'd love feedback on it (is the font size too small? Does anything look too cluttered?). 

At some point I will probably just hire someone to make a template for me, so I can get it exactly how I want it.  The trouble is, I don't always know what it is I actually want... ; )

Friday, February 12, 2010

nevermind....

Polli (my colleague/mentor who was organizing our trip) called me last night with news that our flight from Atlanta to Jacksonville had been cancelled... along with several other flights before it, meaning all the flights after ours were already way overbooked, and basically we could fly to Atlanta but then we'd be stuck there for two days and wouldn't get to Florida before Sunday afternoon (the course ends Monday morning).

Or, we could get last-minute tickets with another airline, pay upwards of $1,000 apiece, and possibly still get stuck.

So, our trip has been cancelled.  Which is a bummer.  =(

But, the silver lining is I get to enjoy more time with Mom while she's here, and last night after finding out the news Zach booked a night away in San Francisco for the two of us, instead (we actually get to celebrate Valentine's Day together!).  It's a not-so-great sign of the times that rates were really cheap on a holiday/Valentines weekend, but hey! I'm not complaining! I'm making lemonade here, folks.

D was up half the night last night.  He was partially congested, maybe having some teething pain (I think he's getting his 2nd molars already), and some of it may have also been the talks we had before he went to bed about how Mommy was going on a trip and would be gone for a few days.  By 1am I'd given him Motrin, assured him that Mommy's plans had changed and would very much still be here in the morning, and finally just let him whine to himself for about 10 minutes and we finally all got a bit of sleep.  At that point, I was very glad I no longer needed to be up at 4am for our flight...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A bit of a change of pace...

So after 4 days of solo parenting, Mom and Zach both arrived last night.  As a happy coincidence, their separate flights landed at the same time so they met at the airport and shared a taxi ride home.  D and I were able to catch them coming home so D saw them get out of the taxi, and he immediately got super excited to see LALA!!

Soon after they got home I had to leave for an Open House at a Spanish-Immersion preschool program we're considering for D for the fall.  Zach decided to come with me, figuring D would be fine with my mom.  Remembering how badly the previous leaving-D-with-someone-else attempts had gone this week, I was a bit worried-- I know he loves Lala but she'd only *just* arrived and I wasn't sure if maybe he might need some warming up time before Mom left...?

But no. We left. He didn't cry at all.  We got back when D was in the bath, and he did want me to get him out and put his diaper on, but after that he requested that Lala brush his teeth, and let her read his bedtime story and tuck him into bed.

This all just makes my heart swoon.  So wonderful. =)

Tomorrow, even before bright and early since the sun won't be up yet, I'll be leaving for Florida for 4 days to go to the 2010 Association Montessori Internationale Refresher Course.  This is a conference held every year as part of continuing education by AMI/USA, and I'm very excited about going this year as it's been a little while.  After getting my certification in 2005, I attended the course in North Carolina in 2006, and San Francisco in 2007 (just a week or 2 before our move overseas).  But then in 2008 I had a 2 week old babe, and in 2009 I was still breastfeeding him, and so this is my first chance to go since his birth.  It will probably be another few years, realistically, before I really launch myself back into the workforce, but I'd like to keep in touch with the Montessori community and this seems a good way to do so.  And while the lecture topics may technically be geared towards working with preschool-aged children, I bet I can still find topics/ideas relevant to Donovan and also just helping get/stay in the Montessori mindset.

I'm tagging along with my former coworkers, which is also pretty awesome since I don't see them very often and thus get to catch up with them.  =)

I should be getting back home around midnight on Monday night... meaning this will be my longest trip away from Donovan.  He probably will hardly miss me, as he's got Lala here to play with the whole time.  And to be frank, I'm kinda looking forward to a chance to travel when the only person I have to entertain is myself (it's been a while...).  But, I'm sure I'll be quite ready to get back to him by about days 3 and 4.  I mean, you know, it's a bit hard not to miss this:
37/365

Monday, February 08, 2010

busy bees

With Zach gone for the first half of this week, I wanted to make sure we got out of the house plenty to give D and I both a change of scenery and plenty of distraction.  I'm suddenly now looking at our week and wondering how it got quite so busy already...

Today's not bad. We went to the YMCA and tried out the Kids Corner option again.  D screamed and cried for a while, but eventually let me leave to do a micro-workout (as I kept one eye on the cardio room door just waiting for them to come back and tell me D wasn't calming down... thankfully, he did).  He's now taking an uncharacteristically long nap (1.5hrs and still going!), and then this afternoon my friend Julia graciously offered to watch D for a little while so I'll try to run a few kiddo-free errands while I can.

Then between tomorrow and Thursday I have 3 appointments to check out home daycares nearby as potential drop-in options for D.  Someone left a comment suggesting it in a previous post, and I hadn't thought of it before but thought would be a good thing to check out.  There's one whose sign I've passed many times in this same neighborhood, plus two others I found through Care.com, so will go check those out.  There's a bit of the usual apprehension about leaving him in another person's house, but if I like the caretakers and their homes and feel comfortable with them, this seems almost an ideal solution-- I think D would benefit from a bit of social interaction with a few other kids, and a different (aka NEW) space with a different (again, NEW) set of toys would probably also go over well.  But, it also has to be a place in which HE feels comfortable... I'm realizing as I try out this gym care thing out, that getting him used to a new place (and being w/out mommy) might be more challenging that I initially thought (and also makes me think we really need to do this, so he's not permanently attached to me all the time).

Zach and Mom arrive on Wednesday afternoon (at almost the exact same time, too), and then in the evening I'm going to an open house for a Spanish-immersion preschool that might be a possible option for D starting in the Fall.  I'm also going to an informal lunch at noon, on a topic about which I'm pretty excited, but D just got up so I'll have to leave that for another post...

Thursday, February 04, 2010

good help is hard to find

One thing we've done a very bad job of doing since becoming parents is finding baby-sitters.  We have a few friends who're willing to come over on a night or weekend to watch D, often for free which is incredible and wonderful and very, very awesome.  But I've done a crap job of trying to set up a few people whom I could call to watch D during normal, daytime working hours.  So on the occasion I've needed to do something during the work week and can't/don't want D to come along, I've managed to get Zach to stay home for a few hours or dropped him off with a fellow stay-at-home mom for an hour or two, which work well occasionally, but are also still not that great of solutions.  I end up hardly ever making appointments for things I need to do (like, go to the dentist) b/c I cringe at the thought of having to try to juggle my schedule, the doctor's schedule, and Zach's work schedule (which could change quickly and often, too, depending on what new meetings have cropped up) and find a time that works for all of us.

So we're now trying to find a sitter who could come in one or maybe 2 days a week just for a few hours, to give me a chance to run errands, get a break from D, and specified free times each week during which I could schedule stuff when I need to (hmmm manicure?).  It also looks like Zach's getting scheduled on more and more business trips now (short ones, 2-3 days... at least for now) and so getting a chance for time away, for either relaxing or just to get things done, will be even more important.

But even that is proving to be a whole other headache.  I first tried finding some sort of part-time daycare program, like the Mothers Morning Out programs you see EVERYWHERE in Texas and that I assumed were common everywhere else.  Not so.  The one program I found that worked that way was one day a week from 9-2 and had no set naptime for kids over 1yo. That would *not* work.  There's the French immersion place that's basically everything I'd ever hoped for and more, but it's half an hour away or worse in morning traffic so that's a no-go.  And most other places aren't willing to give you less than a 2-full-days-per-week commitment.

So now I'm looking at sitters who'd come here to watch D.  Which isn't quite as nice since if I'm serious about wanting to get anything done or have those hours be any sort of a break for me, D and I cannot be in the same house.  But, hey, there's a lot i can get done outside the house, and there's always the park, etc.  Anyway, so I started checking out Craigslist.org, but the few people I emailed back and forth with a few times seem to have disappeared off the face of the earth.  I now finally signed up for a paid find-a-sitter site, and am hoping to get better progress with that, but even still just thinking about finding the sitters, contacting them, doing an interview, seeing if D even likes them or feels at all comfortable... I want to go take a nap just thinking about it.

And I have to wonder why it's so damn hard to find someone to help watch your kids, and give a mama a break.

And yes, during all this, it is also painfully obvious to me that if we lived in Austin this wouldn't even be an issue, as we'd have several grandparents who'd be only too eager to spend a few hours each week watching the kiddo.  But, that is not the case.  And that's just the way things are.

So, anyway, pity-fest aside, hopefully within a few weeks we'll have someone who can help us out and who D will like being around.  *crossing my fingers*

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DONOVAN!!!

Two years ago today I was exhausted, confused, stunned, and overwhelmed... and holding the most precious little bundle of love that's ever been.  It's been an amazing ride, with many, many ups and downs. And as a special birthday treat to us, he even fell back asleep after his early morning wakeup and didn't wake us up till 6:45am.

Do I not have the best kiddo EVER?  ; )

And now, a little slideshow montage of the past year of my munchkin's adorableness.

Music: Cafe de la Paix by Thomas Fersen

We have special birthday plans for Friday, but today will be relatively low-key. It will vbe a spoiling day, where "no" will be heard much less often. He already had cereal with chocolate-covered raisins (one of his faves) mixed in. Should be a fun day. =)

Monday, February 01, 2010

Early Bird Update

So, D continues to wake at ungodly hours of the morning.  It's funny how just a few weeks ago, a 5:30am wake up call seemed like cruel and unusual punishment.  Now, it's a goal waking time.

We've been using the toddler alarm clock (the kind you set a time for in the morning and it glows green to signal that it's an ok time to wake).  We've been setting it to 5:30am.  The first morning D woke around 4:30, played in his room for a little while, then got tired and spent the next half hour or longer rattling the gate at his bedroom door and calling for us.  He actually called out for "Zach! Zach!" a few times (yes, using Daddy's actual name) and then settled back on his chant of "Open the gate! Open the gaaate!"  We had to come out a couple of times to remind him that we wouldn't be opening the gate till his alarm clock glowed green.  He proceeded to toss toys over the gate and into the hallway.

The second morning he slept in a little, and only cried at the gate for about 10-20 minutes or so.  The morning after that was a little better, and then this morning Zach said he heard D wake around 4:15 but after a brief bit of gate-rattling (no screaming) he went on to play quietly in his room up till Zach got up around 5:45am.  AWESOME.  I changed the clock settings so now it will glow green at 5:40 instead of 5:30, and the hope is to keep changing that every so often till hopefully establishing a 6am wake-up call (for us).  I'm praying writing about this won't jinx us for tomorrow morning.

A friend gave me a copy of Parenting magazine that had an article in it about letting your kids be alone in the morning without waking you up right away.  We got a few tips from that article that we implemented last night, like going into his room after he goes to sleep and leaving a basket of special "morning-time only" toys and also a snack and sippy cup with water.  We have one tupperware container that he can open pretty well on his own, so have some cereal and his favorite freeze-dried fruit pieces in it to tide him over if he wakes up hungry.

I still worry that he's not getting enough sleep-- I swear he had bags under his eyes this morning, and his naps are getting earlier and earlier (he'll go down by about 11am now, for 1-1.5hrs).  But, he wakes up happy in the morning and I don't see what else we can do to encourage him to sleep better, so *shrug.*

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