Archive for August, 2010

In Which Bedtime is Banished

Posted: August 26, 2010 in Parenting

When Noah was little, he was an early riser. I mean early : he never let us sleep later than six a.m., no matter what time we put him down.

In the ramp up to puberty, which started around age ten for him, Noah began sleeping later. He also began having trouble falling asleep (something that we still don’t know whether to attribute to puberty or heredity, as his father still sometimes suffers from it). I figured that since his body had started letting him sleep later than the roosters, it knew what it was doing. We dropped his bedtime and simply let him decide when he was ready to sleep, and let him sleep pretty much as late as he needed to.

For several years now, that has meant he’s up til four, five, or six in the morning and sleeps until three, four, or even five in the evening. He’s responsible about getting up early if he needs to and plans ahead for those mornings. I know my mother worries that he’ll never be able to hold a job with a “normal” schedule if he’s allowed to live like this now. I wholeheartedly disagree, but I suspect the point will be moot: musicians aren’t known for keeping bankers’ hours, after all.

But my thinking on the subject of bedtime has always been: if he’s getting enough sleep — and if he’s not interrupting my sleep — he can keep any schedule he wants to. It’s not like he has to get up for school or anything.

Nighttime has since become Noah’s favorite time of day. He gets uninterrupted access to the XBox, peace and quiet, personal space, alone time. Like his mother, I think he savors being alone to do his thing.

But all that’s about to change: his little brother has apparently hit the puberty on-ramp now, too.

Aengus (who desperately wants to be like his brother) has been asking for ages now that his bedtime be dropped as well. My concern with that thus far has been that no matter what time he goes to bed, his body gets him up between seven and eight in the morning. Sleep is vital to good health, I’ve explained, so until his body starts letting him sleep in, it’s important that he go to bed a bit on the early side. I promised Aengus that once he’s able to sleep late any time that he’s stayed up late, we’ll drop his bedtime.

But even so, I think we’ve been pretty laid back: his bedtime, at nine years old, is ten o’clock. And not rigidly ten: as long as he’s up in his room before Jon Stewart, I don’t bat an eyelash.

The last two weeks or so have become difficult, though. He’s been having trouble getting to sleep and, in fact, now experiences a burst of energy when he “should” be settling down for the night. Were he younger, I’d say he’s getting a second wind that could be avoided if we got him to bed earlier. But, knowing what puberty does to a body, I’m pretty confident that would be fighting a losing battle at his age.

He’s also been sleeping correspondingly later in the morning, not getting up until after ten for a few weeks now, and not until almost noon for the past week. Though he hasn’t asked me to keep my promise, I knew it was time.

Today, we banished forevermore “bedtime” in our home.

Aengus will be given reminders, of course, about listening to his body’s cues and settling down when it shows signs of being ready for sleep. And we’ll have to talk a lot about going to bed earlier than usual when we have places to go the next day. And he most definitely will be lectured about the dangers of waking mom in the middle of the night. But being given responsibility is the best way I know to learn how to handle it. And so it’s time.

Noah is not going to like this.

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Our family has felt . . . disjointed for quite some time now. With Noah in the throes of puberty (and my instinctive reaction to negativity being withdrawal), it’s felt like he mentally moved out already. I’m not ready for that!!! Aengus has never, by nature, been as open and connected with me as Noah always used to be. Add the Xbox and we’ve felt separate for a very long time now.

But on Friday, Aengus and I had a day away from home, just the two of us. We ate at IHOP (computation: percents, life skills), visited friends (socialization), walked through a few malls (economics), and talkedtalkedtalked (about aliens, gods, and ghosts: cultural mythology, about illnesses: P.E., and about politics). He never opens up to me the way Noah used to, but it was still nice to connect with him a little bit. We also bought the next book in the Magic Tree House series, by his request (reading).

Noah was in a good mood when we came home and wanted to watch Casablanca with me. When Noah requests that I do something with him — anything at all — I drop my own plans and do it. He and I used to be extraordinarily close; and while I know that shouldn’t last forever, I do miss it. So we watched Casablanca, and he loved it. I loved watching it with him.

Fridays are Jason’s short days at work, so after dinner (together!), we decided to watch a movie — together. We don’t often do that anymore, since we each have our own interests and are often just doing our own thing. But we decided it was time Aengus started his Pop Culture Tour and Noah returned to his. And the movie to reboot the tour was . . . Conan the Destroyer.

Can someone please tell me why this movie was made?!

Saturday is a blur, since I spent it spring cleaning my kitchen. We have mice, and I’d had it with them. I took everything out of my cabinets and drawers, washed it all, and cleaned the cabinets. We set traps, which I am normally opposed to; I prefer to let the natural food chain take care of things. That’s why you’ll find spiders in my house. But no snakes have moved in and our cats are useless as mousers. So the traps ended up catching nine mice. I haven’t seen any, erm, evidence of mice since then.

On Sunday, Noah went to his bandmates’ house for a sleepover/practice session (music, socialization).

Good friends and a guitar.

Their family is wonderful and a really good influence on him. While he was away, Aengus had his bff over for a sleepover. They actually managed to sleep a little this time, after spending the evening running around outside (with guns, of course; P.E.), building lots of Bionicles (engineering), playing chess (strategic thinking), and of course playing video games (cooperative problem solving, dynamic thinking).

Monday evening, after Aengus’s friend left, he crashed while I ran out to get Noah back. We had our own little one-on-one time at the mall, checking out books and posters and DVDs and talking, talking, talking. It was wonderful to talk about stuff with him, real stuff like the “Ground Zero Mosque” and financial responsibility and the importance of interpersonal skills and whether it’s group psychology or biology that determines what we find attractive and why physical attributes are so prized when it’s intelligence that really matters.

I absolutely loved it.


Aengus slept over last night at his good buddy’s house. He took his new iPod (he’s already had the talk about responsibility and that we won’t replace it if he loses or breaks it, blahblahblah) and TWENTY-SEVEN motherfucking Bionicle creations.

I know it was TWENTY-SEVEN motherfucking guys because he set them all up in our living room, organized them into teams, tallied them, and counted his tallies. That’s computation, number sense, and the beginnings of multiplication, people. Add in all the building of those guys and you’ve got physical science and engineering.

The only traditional sleepover item he packed was his toothbrush — although I had to remind him, and I was under no delusions that he’d use it. He crashed around six this evening after staying up most of the night. 😀 I’ll nag him about his teeth in the morning.

Me? Yesterday, I peeled peaches. And peeled peaches. Then, when my ADD couldn’t take it anymore, I facebooked for a bit . . . then peeled more fucking peaches.

Almost done with one bowlful (and the compost bucket is already overflowing)

I only got about halfway through the ones I’d picked that morning, so I put those in the freezer to later be turned into wine (when my bff’s daughter gets out of the hospital, I’ma have mah girls over to maykah da wahn). I’ll be peeling the other half for jelly tomorrow. Focus, Adesa. Focus.

After Shelby left last night, Noah spent some time with his other girl, a little Fender acoustic number (music), then played some Call of Duty (strategic, cooperative, and dynamic thinking; history) with his friend Nick. No idea how late he was up, but he didn’t get up today until after four. I’ve only spotted him occasionally tonight; he’s spending today in his room, I guess.

I hate when he has days like this. He’s already cutting those apron strings (not that I’ve ever worn one), and it breaks my heart. But to go an entire day without spending any time with me . . . it feels like I’m in mourning.

Aengus’s friend’s family brought him home this afternoon, and while the boys played outside (P.E., imaginative thinking, leadership skills), his friend’s sister and mother watched Across the Universe with me. I’ve seen it before, and I like it very much. Beatles music, with a plot — what’s not to like? I got a bit weepy, though, when they sang “Let It Be.” My dad loves the Beatles (and, I think, fancied himself as one of them in another life). I grew up listening to them and know most of their songs by heart.

My dad was just like most dads in the 70s: worked all day, came home in time to discipline the kids after they’d gotten in trouble with mom during the day, fixed stuff around the house, and put the kids to bed. When we did get to see him relax and hang out with us, though, he was always singing. He’s the reason people’s conversations always remind me of song lyrics and why I always break into song myself — apologies to the world for that.

Hearing them sing “Let It Be” in the movie got me to thinking first about my fantastic dad . . . and then about Noah, and what kind of father he’ll be. Although I sing A LOT to myself and there’s always music around here, I really never sang to him the way my dad did to me.

My one piece of advice to Noah when he enters fatherhood will be: sing to your kids. And don’t ever stop, even when they get bigger. Especially when they get bigger.

Ahhh . . . Tha’s Be’er

Posted: August 15, 2010 in Uncategorized

After beating up my face massaging my sinuses last night and drinking diluted apple cider vinegar, I’m feeling much more like myself today. I’m still congested, and I can feel the pressure mounting again in my sinuses, but at least I have more energy — ’cause I got shit to do!

Closer to my usual, perky self (no comments from the peanut gallery!)

Up for today: harvesting our shamefully overburdened peach trees, taking Noah and his girlfriend (Shelby, for you noobs) to a movie, taking Shelby home, and taking Aengus to his bff’s house for a sleepover; cleaning the wreck that is my kitchen; shredding then freezing or baking all this frigging zucchini; then a manicure and facial ’cause it’s True Blood night!

Last night, while I was trying not to whine about my sinuses (I’m such a pussy about pain, even after giving birth without drugs), I was cheered by two of my favorite sounds in the universe: Noah and Shelby, being affectionate and laughing together while playing Super Mario; and Aengus, laughing hysterically while playing Halo online with his bff. There’s just something about your child’s laughter, isn’t there?

Now, to work. Wish me luck as I make my first attempt at using a neti pot. :6

UPDATE: After the neti pot:

Well, a neti pot isn't glamorous, dainty, or at all girly to use . . . but it works!

In Which I Am Too Sick to Post

Posted: August 14, 2010 in Uncategorized

Not a pretty sight when I'm sick.

In Which The Boys Have Big Ideas

Posted: August 12, 2010 in Aengus, Noah

Aengus has been building Bionicles nonstop since our return from the Bay; his head seems to be full of ideas for new weapons and armor. I suspect I’ll be finding those little pieces until I’m ninety. The up side, though, is that he’s getting lots of engineering practice and is getting innovative and creative in his designs. And, might I add, he’s color-coordinating them — something he hasn’t done before. The designer in me is flushing with pride.

This weekend, Noah talked with us more than he usually does. We had spirited conversations about a lot of things and joked around like we haven’t in a long time. ❤ He’s back to normal now, though. 😦

He also reiterated his interest in an eighteenth birthday trip to Japan. Though we dream a lot in this family without often following through, I am determined to make this happen for him. I traveled to Ecuador when I was seventeen, and the experience was life-changing; I very much want that for him. In fact, I told him that I’d give up my fortieth birthday trip to add to the Japan fund.

He gaped at me.

Noah told me he’d like to start learning Japanese now so that he’s prepared by the time he’d actually arrive. Of course. Toughest language on the planet to learn? Sure, let’s do it! Then I asked who he’d like to go with, wondering whether he’d want to make it a solo trip or take a buddy.

“You,” he said without hesitation. “And Shelby. And . . . I guess Dad.”

Pretending not to be absolutely over the moon that he wanted me to go with him, I asked, “What about Aengus? We can’t go on a trip to the other side of the world and exclude him from the experience!”

To which he replied, “Why not?”

Pltt.


On Friday night, we finally made our way to my parents’ boat for the first time in far too long. As my parents’ marina, Parkside, is a bit too quiet for kids and lacks a swimming pool, we motored over to Mears Point Marina in Kent Narrows on Saturday morning.

We enjoyed the two hour sail, but were glad to dock the boat and turn the A/C back on! To me, motoring on the Chesapeake means something like a roller coaster ride; my dad’s boat during my childhood was an 18′ runabout. But my parents are lucky enough to now have a boat too large for those pesky waves to toss it about too much. Aengus complained about the rocking of the boat; I thought it wasn’t rocking enough!

We enjoyed the Mears pool on Saturday and walked around the island a bit. We were treated to a seafood dinner, and Aengus learned how to eat crab. I learned that I do NOT like those clams that have penis-like organs sticking out of them.

I don’t care which ones they were — Littleneck or Cherrystone or whatever — I’m never eating clams again. They had the texture of the muck at the bottom of the bay. Blech!

Aengus and I taught Grammy how to play poker, and Noah played his guitar for us a lot. We also watched several movies (it was too damn hot to stay outside long) and went boat shopping. 🙂 I’ve decided on a trawler style, at least forty foot long, but it doesn’t matter to me if there are even engines in it. I’m happy sitting at the dock, music playing and drink in hand. ❤

I had been really looking forward to taking Noah to Red Eyes on Sunday because they had a band playing that I thought he’d like — and because Red Eyes is legendary. It’s such a popular bar that they need parking attendants and bouncers on Sunday afternoons, for crying out loud. Sadly, they also enacted their usual nighttime over-21 policy in the afternoon, too, and we couldn’t take the kids in.

So we did some more walking around, had some ice cream, and went swimming again. Later on, Grammy stayed on the boat with the kids while my dad took Jason and I back to Red Eyes for their weekly bikini contest. (Locals: Did you know the cover charge is up to $10 a person?!)

Oy. It was like a giant frat party. And I am too old (and too overweight) to immerse myself in that nonsense. So we rose above it all . . . and sat in the air-conditioned second floor of the building, while all the scantily-clad, drunk young’uns whooped it up outside. It was perfect: we had a great view but none of the heat or nonsense. The contestants danced like strippers (and several claimed to have children, but I can’t imagine they’ve given birth). It was all very low-class, so of course I was drinking beer. But the emcee was hysterical and totally made it worth the cover charge. I’d love to bring Noah and his friends back for his 21st birthday.

Monday came too soon. We had a wonderful lunch on our way back across the bay (excellent cream of crab soup), then packed up and headed home. The Wild Cherry is for sale, so who knows if we’ll have another weekend like this. Captain Jerry’s been doing this for thirty years, though, so I suspect he won’t be long without a boat.

Once a sailor, always a sailor.