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Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Sleep Training

We have been lucky. We have been oh so lucky. The Kid, since birth, has been a decent sleeper. Up until about a month ago, he used to beg us to go to bed. We were so smug. We were the McSmuggersons. And boy, have the mighty have fallen. For the past month, the Kid has decided that sleeping is for morons and has fought his bedtime tooth and nail. For at least 4 weeks, when we have put him to bed, without fail, 20 minutes later we here the pitter patter of toddler feet heading our way. We would bring him back calmly for the first 6 times, but by the 7th time, we were getting angry and desperate. Last week I started reading to him in bed and it was wonderful a few times, but the little bugger would forcibly keep himself awake and reading out loud for an hour straight is ever loving exhausting.

If this was our only problem, I would have accepted it and would have prayed that this phase would pass. But, not only is he fighting going to bed, he is now coming into our bed at 4 a.m. every morning. It was adorable the first week or two. Now, not so much. Especially because toddlers have some need to breakdance while sleeping and they also enjoy kicking you in the head.

These past 4 weeks were starting to wear on us and the crowning glory was when the Husband told me last week that the neighbour downstairs had complained. Now, I didn't realize that someone lived downstairs all the time. I never saw the lights on consistently and just assumed that it was a Vienna part-timer. I was wrong. The Husband told me she seemed very nice and was trying to be understanding. Because she didn't do the traditional Viennese call the cops on us move, I decided to be proactive and make her some cupcakes on Saturday. I rang her bell with my tray of artificially coloured cupcakes and introduced myself.

"Hi! I am Raphael's mom. We live upstairs. I brought these to apologize for all the noise" she eyed me warily. "I made you CUPCAKES!" I proclaimed.
All natural... all natural neon food colouring
"Thank you, but I don't really eat sweets. I'll take one, however. Is that strawberry glaze?" she asked.
"Nope! Just some good old fashioned food colouring. So anyway..." I answered in falsetto. She motioned for me to come in and I realized that the Husband had been napping so if he woke up and I wasn't home, he would have had no idea I had been kidnapped and kept in a box downstairs. Stupid, Tova. Stupid.

I walked in and she pointed to the kitchen and told me to sit down. Being nervous and trying to think of ways to say "special needs" in German, I kept blabbering. "So anyway, I am sorry about all the noise. Our son, he is a little developmentally delayed and is having a hard time adjusting to all the changes."

"Oh yes, I noticed that he was mentally disabled." she replied. Now, at this point I did the full bodied twitch but swallowed my rage and kept listening "There a lots of special schools for children like him." That was a line crossed. I took a breath.

"Well, he is three and a half and just a little delayed. We're not thinking of special schools just yet. So anyway, I just came to aplogize and to let you know that we are starting sleep training tonight and hopefully in a few days, he won't be waking you up in the middle of the night." She thanked me and was very nice and then I left with my full tray of cupcakes. Luckily I could pass them on to a good home since I am watching the calories and can't be trusted around things with frosting.

Thinking I had nipped that problem in the bud, I spent the rest of the day with the Kid and decided to wait another night for sleep training as him coughing up a lung was probably not conducive to a new regime.
You call that a cough, I'll show you a cough
Sunday morning I took a little early morning walk and as I neared our apartment, the downstairs neighbour opened her window and greeted me. Crap. She asked me if I took a lot of morning walks and suggested we do it together and I kept thinking how incredibly stupid I was for doing a nice thing. When I got home, I told the Husband and he yelled "YOU HAD TO GO AND MAKE CUPCAKES! YOU JUST HAD TO DO IT!" The Husband, although a major fan of Melrose Place, does not want to be friends with people in our building. At.all.
If Heather Locklear lived downstairs, I believe the Husband would be making cupcakes... a lot.

On Sunday I went to a lovely birthday party for a friend's daughter. In the evening. I re-read the e-mail I had gotten from my therapist about sleep training and made the Husband read it as well. Essentially, this training should take three nights. In a nutshell, you, without saying a word, calmly take your child back to his or her bed over and over again and wait until they fall asleep. This is different from our normal "GO TO SLEEP! GOOOOOOOOOOO TOOOOOOOOOOO SLEEP!" I was open to this new method. I hunkered down and started reading The Tao of Martha. After about 45 minutes, my throat started to seize and I decided that was enough for the night and told the Kid it was bedtime.

I walked out and turned off his light and one minute later, he came out. I took him by the hand and brought him back to bed. One minute later; repeat. This happened about 30 times over the next hour and then I finally placed him in bed and pointed angrily at his pillow. I turned into that closet monkey from the Family Guy.

The Kid couldn't see my rage but he sensed it and his head hit the pillow. I sat down on the floor and stared at him. After an hour he fell asleep and I was done.
I surrender!
I felt spent but was happy it had finally worked (2 hours, 2 MOTHER LOVING HOURS!) The Husband missed the fun because he was on the sofa asleep. He does not require sleep training. I woke him up with a kick and we headed to bed. I prayed we would get a good night's sleep. At 3 in the morning, it happened. The Kid tried to crawl into bed and I got up and lead him back to bed. This went on repeat for 45 minutes and I was in tears. So I decided to take my rage out on the Husband and yelled at him "FOR THE LOVE OF GOD HELP ME!" He took over for another 45 minutes and broke the cardinal rule of not talking to the Kid. So I angrily kicked off the covers and yelled "DON'T TALK TO HIM!" and then it was downhill from there.


It wasn't pretty, ladies and gentlemen. It wasn't pretty. Lest you think we screamed in front of the Kid like this, I can assure you that these were angry whispers. Very very angry whispers outside the Kid's door. We are very mean to each other at 3 in the morning. I might have said something about visiting a lawyer. Might have. Perhaps. At least we could both smile the next morning when I pointed out that the Kid made it through the night without sleeping in our bed. Needless to say, we are fine again. For now. Never forget.
Sleep training; 2014. We will rebuild.
What is it about toddlers. Why are they angelic one minute and satan's little boy the next? Look at this beautiful face!

Sleep training? "Hi Mommy!"

So last night was night two and it went a LOT better than the first night. The Husband put him to bed and he fell asleep within minutes. Well, they both did. Then, yes, he did wake up at three but I put him back to bed and laid down on the ground beside him. I am currently awaiting an email from my therapist confirming that this is a mistake. He slept until 5 and then I gave him some milk and then I headed out for my walk and the Husband took over. Tonight will be night 3 and I just hope he makes it through the night. I am a zombie. I am at the end. Please keep us in your prayers or just send me a referral for a decent divorce lawyer to keep on file. Maybe send one to the Husband as well. Fair's fair.

Operation Tubetop 12 Week Challenge - Week 3

Wassup! Oh man, am I happy to be heading to work today. It has been the House of Sick over here. The Kid has a bad cold (it is starting to clear up now) and now the Husband has man flu. Luckily he (the Husband) segregated himself yesterday and stayed for the afternoon at his parents' place. The Nanny, like an angel, arrived yesterday afternoon at our place so I was able to head out and take a breath and buy moss (Halloween, it a-coming). I also met a friend in the evening for a trip to Ikea. Little sidenote: Ikea shopping with another female is how the Ikea experience should go down. There is aahing and oohing and no "I will cut you, you bastard if you do not let me buy this totally impractical lamp". Ahem. Anyway. As promised, here are my stats after 2 weeks. It's not a huge loss but I am still really happy. I am getting a lot of walking in and being very careful with my caloric intake. I have also noticed that my stomach has settled these past couple of weeks and I am in a much better mood. Win win.

So here comes week 3 and I am ready! Here is my plan for the upcoming week; exercise-wise:

Monday: I didn't get a morning walk in because of sleep training (stay tuned) but managed over 20,000 steps.
Tuesday: Morning walk and an extra mini walk after work
Wednesday: Morning walk and home yoga for 30 minutes
Thursday: Morning walk x 2 and pilates
Friday: Step machine
Saturday: Morning walk
Sunday: (hopefully) Bikram and then family walk in the afternoon

Week 3, here we go! Let's do this!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

A Crafty Weekend

Finally finally I got a whole weekend at home. It has been 9 weeks since we have had an only family weekend and it was so needed. I hate flaking on plans but I realized that after this summer, family weekends are a priority. I also got a lot of crafting done which was fantastic! Usually I have to wait until the Kid is in bed until I can get my papier mache on and since, for the past month or so, he hasn't been instantly falling asleep, our nights have pretty much been nightmarific. In the past, the Kid would happily go to bed but for some unknown reason, he has bucked this awesome trend and now gets out of his bed at least 20 times in the course of an hour or two. This has been driving us batshit crazy. On Sunday I set up his big boy bed and he was ecstatic. We put him to bed at 8 and I decided to give reading a try.
Kind of looks like where the cast of MTV's Underaged and Engaged stars would spend their wedding night.

As I wrote on Facebook, for the first time in over a year, I was able to actually read a book to him. I read Peter Rabbit and at the end of the book, the Kid demanded an encore. I read the book 4 times and hid my tears of joy. Then I told him it was time for bed and turned off his light. I was in a happy place for about 10 minutes. Then a low-rent version of Benny Hill happened and the Husband and I spent 2 hours chasing the Kid back to bed. He finally passed out at 10 and then we did too. At 4 in the morning, he came into our bed and we spent an hour trying to get him to go back to sleep. We were not zen at.all. Last night I decided that we had to nip this spiel in the bud and I decided to read again. But this time (and yes, you can judge me as a mother, but not openly) I hid my Kindle in one of his books and read a novel out loud. No, it was not 50 Shades of Gray but rather The Tao of Martha by Jen Lancaster. Lulled by my grating voice, he fell asleep within 30 minutes. It was pretty awesome. The Husband is on bedtime duty tonight, he might be bringing in a Sports Illustrated. We are bad people.
This is a perfectly good book for bedtime reading for a toddler. Please don't judge me.

So, back to the crafting. It was great! The Kid hung out at the dining room table playing with fake leaves while I painted and glued and created. The Husband, meanwhile, put together some Ikea furniture. There was a lot of swearing in the background. But I stayed in the moment and felt all sorts of feels. Especially when the Husband stabbed himself in the thigh with a screwdriver. I kid you not, there is a hole in his jeans. I didn't laugh... out loud.

The first thing I did was make my Fall wreath. I took a styrofoam wreath, got some glue, and glued on dozens of fake leaves. Then I tied on a Fall berry twig thing with some orange ribbon and voila. Apologies for the craptastic picture.

And then I headed to the shop for some more foliage and stumbled upon a white ceramic pumpkin. Yes! Our living room is white, silver and pink and I was struggling with the colour theme for a Fall centerpiece. #firstworldproblems. But this pumpkin saved the day. I decided to paint the remaining fake leaves in silver paint and add pink and silver glitter.

And then I artfully placed it on a silver platter and I am smitten with my Fall centerpiece. Come, let us adore it.

It was a great weekend and I feel like it was the great start to the Fall season. I still have so much to do the next few weeks but I feel much more relaxed knowing that I can craft during the day and the only casualty will be glitter in the Kid's diaper in a day or two.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Week 2 of the 12 Week Challenge

Happy Monday! Wow! End of week 1 and I am so happy to report that I lost some weight. This is epic considering I was sick this weekend and it was a weekend and weekend rhymes with pizza. I did not drink anything which pretty much is a flashing sign that girl be sick. I tried to do mind over matter throughout the weekend.

My body was all like "Gurl, you sick."
And I was all like "No way, Jose. I have stuff to do."
And my body was all like "Watch me shut down!"
And I was all like "Mind conquers all, bitch."

It was a ghetto pantomine and I'm still not sure if I am sick or not but since I am heading to work, survey says that I'm going to be o.k. Last night was epic but I will talk about it in another post. However, after the momentous event, the Kid decided to drive us up the wall at 20 minute intervals for 2 hours. Then at 4, he started up again. Needless to say, I am the walking dead this morning.
For the love of God,

But back to the challenge. The past week was not bad in terms of keeping my calories at a good level. Sure, there were a few days I thought I would go all coyote and eat my own arm, but otherwise, it was not that bad. I also got a ton of walking in thanks to Fitbit. What I really like about it is that it keeps me moving. It's a little like a Jewish mother sending you e-mails like "Just a few more steps" or "You've reached your calorie intake for the day". Screw you Fitbit, you're not the boss of me. Or, maybe you are. Sigh.

So, without further ado... I present my stats.

I am down 2.5 kilos which is 5.5 pounds. I know that the majority of it is water but hey, I'll take it! Here is to another successful week. My goals are (exercise-wise)

Monday: Walk (45 minutes)
Tuesday: Step machine (45 minutes)
Wednesday: Step machine and 30 minutes of yoga
Thursday: Walk (45 minutes) and morning pilates (1 hour)
Friday: Walk (45 minutes) and maybe Bikram
Saturday: Walk (45 minutes)
Sunday: Bikram

Gotta keep moving and keeping my calories low!! Hope you all are happy with your stats! Happy Monday!

Friday, 5 September 2014

The New Daycare

I cannot believe we have survived the past few months. Since May we have been juggling schedules and working out contingency plans for half day daycare. The past 6 weeks, the Kid has had no daycare at all and I have noticed the past couple of weeks he has been a little stir-crazy. So Wednesday was finally the start of the new, dream daycare downstairs.

I was pukey, I was shakey, I wished for an alcohol addiction so I could make myself an early morning mimosa while cracking some inappropriate joke. The Kid could tell something was up when I pulled out the Polo shirt in lime green and the pants that actually fit and have a crease on the legs. As I wrote on Facebook, it was eerily similar to that first scene in Jurassic Park when they are transporting the Raptor in that cage and that guy gets sucked in. Replace cage with carriage, and guy, with me holding cookies.
Mommy's bringing out the collared shirts, time to go ape shit.
At 8:45, we walked less than a minute and made it to the front gate. He knew what was up and tried to escape. We did the whole "Bye Raphael, see you later. BYE BYE!" which never ever works but there were other parents around so threatening the Kid didn't seem like a great way to make a first impression. We chatted with the director briefly as the Kid ran in the front yard. She suggested we just leave him out there and he will eventually follow. Yes! High five principal lady! We chatted briefly to another dad and when I heard silence, I went to investigate. He was in the director's office, sitting at her desk, playing with her. I literally laughed out loud. He doesn't deal with middle management, he goes straight to the top.

After a few minutes, he finally followed us in and promptly laid down in the middle of the hallway. We met both teachers - one is a child specialist (thank you! FINALLY!) and the other a trained kindergarten teacher. There are also 2 classroom helpers. So, let's do some math. Fifteen kids and 4 adults for no cost at all, versus 15 kids and 2-3 adults for 300 euros a month. I'm not good at numbers but I think THIS IS AWESOME!
By my calulations, I can afford a new pair of shoes every month now.
The staff are all so friendly and understanding. And then... and then they said "How about you all sit out here and let him make the decision to go into the classroom on his own". NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

You may recall that this was the suggestion at the other place we tried out in January. This lead to 4 weeks of sitting in a drafty coat room, trying to let a 3 year make a life choice he didn't want to make. No. Not this time Senorita. Not on my watch. Mommy no play that game. After 45 minutes of him rolling on the ground, playing up his special needs, I suggested I go into the classroom with him. They were cool with it and of course, as soon as I went in, he came. After 15 minutes they suggested that was great for the first day and we then headed home. They seemed quite happy with the result but I couldn't help but have a little post traumatic stress from our last experience.

Yesterday was day two and I decided that the best way to get him in was to go straight into the classroom. I took off my hoops and heels and sat down by the toys. He came with me and proceeded to sit on my lap for 90 minutes, kvetching every time I shifted to avoid children. One girl talked at me for about 10 minutes. Her nail polish was nice. Apparently, as she informed me, it was a combination of pink and purple glitter. The teacher finally suggested it was time to go home again and the Kid actually got a little pissed. He was loving sitting on my lap, wrapping himself in my poncho (I've gotten fat) and watching the other kids.
Tell me more about your nail polish and your hobbies and your parents' names

After some wailing on his part, we got home and watched some cartoons and I tried not to rock back and forth. This is going to be a very long month. Unfortunately I don't have much time to take off so the Husband and the Mother in Law and I will have to trade off mornings with the Nanny taking over the afternoons. I have a feeling that he will be going into that room more often on his own if I am not there. He sticks to me like mud sticks to a toddler. I know I should be bouncing off the walls in joy but I've been burned before. I know this is a totally different ball game; a) they can't kick us out; b) they are actually trained professionals and c) they know that he is special needs but all the hurt and despair has been coming back out in my cranium and reminding me of that terrible time a few months ago. I'm also getting sick so I know I am hyper sensitive at this time. Even though I will deny it that I was acting all psychotic the other night when the Husband asked if I put margarine or butter on his English Muffin and I responded with "WHAT IS YOUR OBSESSION WITH BUTTER?!?! WHAT ARE YOU?!?! THE BUTTER NAZI! WHAT'S YOUR PROBLEM?!?!" Yeah, that was a fun dinner.
The starter of marital discord in this home
So anyway, that is the update for now. The place truly is amazing and we could not be luckier to have a spot in this amazing place. I just need to shake this funk. I wish I had a crystal ball that could show me that all will be well, that the Kid will finally find his voice, that he will be just a normal child, happy and well-adjusted. That every time I bring him to daycare I won't have a pit in my stomach, bracing to hear just how terribly he behaved the day before, to have a normal day where there aren't 3 different relatives taking care of  him in 3 hour shifts and maybe, just maybe, we can have just a normal life again. Most importantly, I just want him to find himself.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Food Inspired by Films - Amadeus

I meant to post this last week but didn't have time to add the finishing touches... like finding the perfect GIF, etc. So, this is my 4th film-inspired dinner post and I have to say, I'm still loving this challenge. It is a perfect blend of small-scale decorating and food making. Martha Stewart on a "ridic" small budget squashed into a tiny Zales jewelry box.

Last week, the film I chose was Amadeus. This film, I'm guessing, was a huge hit in the 80's. It was, as you probably can guess, a film about Mozart. A very loosely based film about Mozart. So loose that even Kim Kardashian clutched her pearls. Yes. I did that. I totally did. Anyway, the film portrays a young and stroppy Mozart in his prime, pissing off the high society and going tete a tete with the classical master, Salieri. Like an old fashioned Justin Bieber. What's that I hear? Oh yes, thousands of angry musicologists picking up their quills to write me a strongly worded letter. HOW DARE YOU COMPARE MOZART TO BIEBER? HOW DAAAARE YOU!

I'm going off track here. Anyway, I figured it was time to do a Vienna-based film this time around. The menu was:

Schnitzel (chicken)
Kaesespaetzle (cheese and dumplings and more cheese)
Cucumber salad in a vinegar dressing
Esterhazy torte

The funny thing is, is that I really do not ever get in the mood for Austrian cuisine. I had a lot of it as a kid in the 90's, I had a lot of it when I moved back in 2004 and so I am often not in da mood for it. However, every time I order a schnitzel, I think to myself "ZOMG! This is so good! Why don't I eat this more often?!!?" and then I forget that I thought that and go another 6 months thinking "Schnitzel, blech". So I decided to actually give it a whirl and well, it worked out.

To make a schnitzel you first beat the crap out of the meat. Then you dip it in some flour, then some eggs and then some seasoned bread crumbs. Then you fry it in any type of non-nutrionally type oil or butter. I used a combo of butter and oil because I too like to live dangerously. The problem with schnitzel making? It be messy.

I need a new pot
I also made some kaesespaetzel which is a heart attack in a metal pan. You boil the dumplings, you drain them, then you mix in some butter, lots of strong shredded cheese and fried onion, then more cheese on top and then bake it all. So good. So very good.

I decided to forgo the traditional potato salad because contrary to my belief, potatoes are not a vegetable. I used thinly sliced cucumbers and onions and made a vinegar dressing. If you are making an Austrian salad, you need to make sure to drown your salad in dressing. Literally drown the greens. And may God strike you down if you forget to put a pinch of sugar into the dressing. And that was the meal paired with a delicious Carnuntum red.
All that glitters is cholesterol 

After blocking our arteries, we had Esterhazy torte which is one of the better Austrian cakes because I believe the main ingredient is butter.
*heavy breathing*

Here is a shot of the table setting. I went dramatic with a black fan and masks. I think it worked out well.

So I wish you all a tremendous day. I am about to embark on our second day at the new daycare. Stay tuned for a post about that!

He was the Ke$ha of his time.

Monday, 1 September 2014

And so it Begins.... Again

Hey everybody! IT IS SEPTEMBER! Yaaaay! I love this time of the year! We had a non-summer weather wise and so I am ready to fogeddaboutit and move straight into Fall. Pumpkin spice lattes (low fat low cal low taste), crisp sunny days (we need a couple) and cozy and forgiving sweaters and boots.
It's like they know me.
As I mentioned last week, I have decided to start another 12 week challenge. Today is the day and I have almost made it to the end of the day. God give me strength.

I'm not going to lie, it was a rough day. There is crazy rain outside and all I would like to do is curl up on the sofa and eat Bugles... but I won't. I started off this morning with a great 40 minute workout with my handy dandy small step machine. Had a low fat latte for breakfast, an Atkins meal replacement bar for lunch, briefly considered gnawing at my arm for protein and then had a yummy meal of a blended veg. soup and a chik pattie and English muffin. And, because I was within my calories, a glass(es) of wine. The soup helped to fill the hunger and I made enough for lunch tomorrow. Remind me to bring it with me, y'all.

I made it to over 16,00 steps and I'm feeling good. Only 11 weeks and 6 days to go. Siiigh. There a few people participating in this challenge and that is awesome! The more people participating the better it will be... Misery loves company, non?

I stepped on the scale this morning and took my measurements. I'm not going to lie. It was painful to see.

I give myself a hallpass because of the past couple of months but I have to come to the realisation that there will always be something happening that will trigger eating orgies. This challenge will be about taking each day at a time, not beating myself up if I go off track and trying to meet my goals.

So what are my goals this time around? Walk with me...

(1) Walk at least 10,000 steps a day. Fitbit is keeping me on track.
(2) Get at least 5 hours of cardio a week
(3) Keep my calories between 1200 and 1400 a day
(4) Weigh and measure myself at least once a week (will publish stats next week)
(5) Bribe myself by putting away 20 euros for every kilo (2.2 pounds) lost so that at the end, I can buy some pretty things.

Sound simple? Well, of course it sounds simple. But it is going to be hard. This is a mental game and I need to win it. I NEED TO! WHO'S WITH ME!!! RAWR! But let me take one more sip of wine, first...