Thursday, October 29, 2009

Best Buys

With November just around the corner and a soon-to-open small business that should see plenty of demand as the Christmas holidays approach, I am trying to finish up my Christmas shopping before the seasonal rush begins.

I normally begin this shopping in July and August, when the local bookstores have their annual sales. Little A's wardrobe gets more and more packed with presents until the time comes for them to be wrapped and distributed to boys and girls both naughty and nice.

Needless to say, majority of my presents every year are books. And while some may be unappreciated (and hopefully re-gifted) by those for whom reading is not a huge priority, others are read and enjoyed, some of them time and time again.

For my nephews, nieces and godkids, I get titles I have loved from a young age and still do, books that I think should be on every shelf. A few of these are not often available in local bookstores, so it is always pure luck to find them at my favourite secondhand bookshop. Some of them can be had for a song, and I snap them up eagerly.

I hope this year's recipients enjoy their books. After all, as Carlos Ruiz Zafon said, "Presents are made for the pleasure of who gives them, not for the merits of who receives them."

Monday, October 26, 2009

Growing Up

About a month before he turned two, I was determined to get Little A sleeping through the night and weaned, if it was possible to do both at the same time. Up until that point, he still nursed to sleep every nap and nighttime and managed 2-3 feedings a night plus one upon waking up in the morning. It was starting to drive me crazy.

The first few nights of denying pre-sleep nursing meant plenty of crying and throwing himself about the bed until Little A collapsed with exhaustion. Within a fortnight though, the crying decreased to whining and then to just cuddling next to me until he fell asleep. Hooray! The nighttime and morning feedings continued, though, as did the naptime one unless we weren't home and he fell asleep in his stroller or car seat.

I then applied one of the techniques detailed in Elizabeth Pantley's No-Cry Sleep Solution, decreasing the length of nursing time with each nighttime feeding, and eventually just refusing to feed at all. At first, Little A would go from half-asleep to more awake and protest loudly, but within a week or so, he learned to put himself back to sleep because there was no boob to be had, and then, joy of joys, he simply started sleeping longer until he was making it through the night. Hooray!

Morning feedings were quickly eliminated by taking him out for breakfast before he could complain too much, but surprisingly, the naptime feedings were the last to go. Perhaps Little A wanted to hold on to this last bonding session as long as he could.

When we are at home, at naptime Little A comes up to me, takes my hand, leads me to the bed, lifts his arms up to be carried onto it (though he is perfectly capable of climbing up himself) and then pulls me down next to him. He cuddles into my side and makes sure I do not leave until he is well and truly asleep.

Even when he no longer nursed to sleep, I had to be there every time it was naptime, unless I was not home, in which case he fought off sleep as long as he could before giving in and sleeping in his stroller. Some days he simply refused to nap at all.

Last week, my growing boy managed to fall asleep twice on the bed for late naps without my being next to him. The au pair let him play quietly on the bed until his eyes shut from tiredness.

Today, I was sitting at the table reading while Little A finished his lunch when he just walked off down the corridor. A few minutes later, I peeked into his room but didn't see him playing there. When I looked into our room, where Big A was on the bed watching tv, I saw Little A at the foot of the bed, reclining. Big A waved me away and called me in two minutes later to show me our son sleeping quietly. Little A had climbed on the bed by himself, held on to his favourite dvd and lay down. He turned his head to look at his dad and then shut his eyes and was asleep instantly. He knew I was there ready for the regular naptime routine, but chose to grow up today and go to sleep without mum, on his own.

I looked down at my sleeping son, feeling a mixture of pride and sadness for the little person who once depended on me for nourishment and comfort and is now well and truly on the way to being all grown up.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Nighttime and Nappies

An old schoolfriend recently had a baby boy. At six weeks she was marvelling at how he slept through the night in 6-hour stretches and at three months he is sleeping 11 hours a night.

I was very envious of her non-sleep deprived state. Little A only started sleeping 6 hour stretches just before he turned two, and sometimes that was a single stretch per night, meaning he and I were up incredibly early while he played for a few hours before napping. Slowly though, he learned to sleep longer. Coupled with the end of night-time feedings, he can now sleep the full night through, and if he does wake up, he goes back to sleep without needing to wake me up.

This victory was not yet celebrated when he decided, for the second time, (the first being when he was about 20 months old) that he no longer needed nappies. The first refusal stage lasted a few weeks and was solved by switching to pull-up nappies. This time, we thought he might be ready to start toilet training.

Little A quickly learned that the bed, couches and rugs were no-wee zones, but would go on the floors instead, stubbornly refusing to make it to the bathrooms unless he happened to already be in there for a bath. Night-times, however, he has generally remained dry, allowing him to sleep without nappies most of the time. He only wets the bed at night if he is very tired and has had a long day that is different from his usual schedule.

In the morning and after his nap, Little A pees in the bathroom, but we are still working on regular daytime wee times. I hope that this continues to work as forcing him into nappies now results in two-year old tantrums, and anyone who has raised a child will know how tiresome these can be.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Searching for Greens

Two weeks after back-to-back storms lashed the northern Philippines, flooding an island slightly smaller than the size of England and causing landslides, massive population displacement and now, leptospirosis, I went to the supermarket to find many areas empty.

The tinned meat section was cleared out, which was fine by me as most of that had gone to relief goods, but the produce section was woefully vegetable-free because most of the vegetables we buy are grown in the north, which at the time was inaccessible by road due to the floods. Parts of the south had flooded as well, so the salad greens normally sourced there were absent as well.

What veg there was was marked up by about 4 times its regular price. Three layers of price stickers showed massive price increases in the span of a few days. I purchased only what was absolutely needed, and went home with bags full of meat and fish but very little vegetables. No carrots, no potatoes, no greens.

One good thing brought about by the floods was an abundance of fish, and while prices of these hadn't decreased, supply was better, giving a wider variety of choice.

Weather reports warn of a new typhoon headed our way, due to make landfall tomorrow. With most of the country still reeling from the last two storms, we pray that this one will sweep by with a minimum of damage.