Thursday, March 27, 2008

C'mon, Cash Cow!

Because I am a giant ball of cheese, I'm entering Will into Good Morning America's cute baby contest. I feel slightly hesitant - it's a slippery slope, this child modeling thing. (Can pageants be far behind?) But like my grandma never said, "College don't pay for itself!" Anyone care to help me pick the pic?

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Is that a growth spurt in your body or are you just unhappy to see me?

I sent this email to a friend but I figured I might as well open it up to everyone. Advice, support, amphetamines, appreciated.

Well, after a brief stop in Sleepytown we seem to have found our way back to Suckville. Will's 13 weeks old now so maybe it's the three month growth spurt or the fact that he's teething (ALREADY!) but sleep is just as bad as before. He's waking up three times a night which wouldn't be unusual if it didn't take so many hours to get him back to sleep. Right now he's exhausted by 6 pm (which is so much earlier than we'd like) but he refuses to actually go into a deep sleep until around 7. (We just hold him for an hour. Anything less than that guarantees at least one wake up and once that happens, it takes hours to get him back to sleep again. It's like he thinks we're trying to fool him or something.) He wakes up at 10:30 for a feeding - which usually lasts until midnight (between the eating and the rocking back to sleep). Then he sleeps until 2:30, at which point he wants another feeding. (At first I thought he just needed soothed but he's always ravenous.) He wakes up again at 4:30, at which point I stop doing an "official" feed and just roll him over to nurse in bed, which usually lasts until we get up. (He'll stay on the titty for days. DAYS.) Right now it's taking between an hour and an hour and a half to get him to sleep which sucks beyond measure in the middle of the night. I've fallen asleep several times in the rocking chair. It usually takes two or three tries to get him transferred from our arms to the bed - he's still in our bed, unfortunately. We want to start putting him down in his crib but my fear is, if it takes so many tries to get him to down in our bed (a place he's familiar with), how hard is it going to be to get him into the crib? I mean, we're barely sleeping as it is! Matt and I are sleeping in separate rooms (one of us on the couch) and taking shifts getting him back to sleep.

We've decided we're going to start cry it out next month. I feel a little sick about it, mostly because the people I know who did it waited until their kids were older. I worry that Will won't be able to self-soothe (or that we'll cave to the crying) and that we'll have days of hell for nothing. I mean, what if it doesn't work? Has it ever not worked?

Naps have become nonexistent. Will desperately wants more sleep but no matter what I do - holding him, keeping him on the boob - he won't stay asleep longer than 20 minutes. Clearly something is making him too uncomfortable to sleep but I have no idea how to help. He's too young for Baby Orajel or any of the other teething pain relievers and he refuses to use a teether. (He won't take anything plastic, including a pacifier and, lately, a bottle.) Today I broke out the stroller because I was so desperate for him to take a nap (ALL BABIES SLEEP IN A STROLLER!) but he only slept - you guessed it - 20 minutes and then woke up and went into meltdown. Everyone keeps saying that it gets better but I'm having trouble keeping the faith. I swear, the only thing keeping him from the fire station is the fact that he's so freaking adorable.

OH! BREASTFEEDING! He refuses to stay on the boob for longer then five minutes before popping off. It's not that he's distracted - it's like my breasts are empty but they're totally not. He sucks and pops off, sucks and pops off, over and over. I have to switch boobs every two or three minutes. It's maddening (and painful) and I have no idea what's up. I try to hold his head in place but all he does is push really hard against my hand while stretching my nipple. I thought it was a flow problem and maybe it is, but when I squeeze my nipple to check for milk I always get some. Most of the time it squirts him in the eye. What gives? (I called La Leche League and they just told me to keep putting him back on. Helpful, that.)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Easter, Easter Bunny! Bok! Bok!

So Winona got busted for shoplifting again. Am I the only person who knows this? Why is this not front page news? (Okay, maybe not front page of the Times, but how is US Weekly not all over this shiznit?)

Friday, March 21, 2008

They don't call them "guilty pleasures" for nothing, folks.

Hold on to your kids, kids. Not only am I out of the house, I'm out of the house with my laptop! Because I have the best husband in all of New York (he's watching the boy AND cleaning the house!) I think it's time for some fun. Which means another round of THINGS ALISHA LOVES!

- Bravo TV
Having spent the last three months parked on the couch with a babe attached to my teat (now I know why it's called the "boob toob". Ba-da-CHI!), I have become something of a reality television connoisseur. None of that Dancing With The Starts/American Idol booshit. For me, it's all about Bravo. Sure, some of the shows sound prurient and juvenile - Millionaire Matchmaker, anyone? - but I assure you, Bravo's perfected the art. Top Chef and Project Runway are without peer but for the perfect blend of shadenfreude and Peeping Tom, it's all about The Real Housewives of New York City. There's the wife who refers to her husband only by his title ("The Count will be flying to Europe tomorrow"), the co-dependent couple who spend five figures on a single shopping spree (but even with all money, their 3 year old - who already reads, by the way - barely got into to pre-school. He was wait-listed at every single school, private AND public. He finally got accepted to their SIXTEENTH choice), and the funny, tell-it-like-it-is redhead who hires a private plane to take her 16-year-old to a detox center for $75 ear candling treatments. Trust me, it's more compelling than it sounds. Almost as compelling as The Millionaire Matchmaker (if it costs you $10,000 a month to find love, there's something very wrong) and Make Me a Supermodel (kicks Top Model's ass. Bonus: no Tyra!)

- Unexpected finds
Because my corner Starbucks only has two tables (what gives, 'bucks?) I've been keeping my eyes peeled for a new haunt. Today, I found it. I just didn't expect it to be aTasti D-Lite. From Chowhound:

"Behind the unpromising facade of a Tasti D-Lite outlet in Hell’s Kitchen, there lurks a classy chocolate salon called The Cocoa Bar. Hot chocolate, made from the good stuff like MarieBelle and Schokinag, can be stellar, depending on who’s behind the counter. Also available: espresso drinks from Lavazza coffee, teas and tisanes, and fancy candies (Blanxart from Spain, Dolfin and Cote D’Or from Belgium). Nice comfortable chairs and couches, too."

FYI, the MarieBelle hot chocolate is delish, albeit crazy overpriced. ($5 for a demitasse cup? Oh all right...)

- Assorted NYC flotsam
Take the discarded lavender Post-It I found next to the Cocoa Bar's suggestion box:


Doin' what, exactly? Listening to smooth jazz? Eating froyo? The possibilities are endless...

- Places I totally want to check out, but probably never will
Like this place (above)

Moon River Chattel
62 Grand St., nr. Wythe Ave., Williamsburg; 718-388-1121
There’s a certain joy in lazily following Route 9 through the quaint towns and overflowing antique shops of the Hudson River Valley. But the trip always becomes more of an archaeological dig, and who has time for that every weekend? Instead, take the L to Bedford Avenue and walk eight blocks to Moon River Chattel, where you’ll find an impeccably curated collection of restored vintage furniture. Owners Christine Foley and Paul Sperduto scour the East Coast for eighteenth- to twentieth-century antiques ranging from glass-fronted cabinets to doorknobs, all embodying a timeless, utilitarian aesthetic. (“No Victorian, no chipping paint, no country,” says Sperduto.) They mix in charming new products, like hemp bath towels ($78) and blocks of Marseilles olive-oil soap ($11). A favorite with architects and restaurateurs (their pieces have ended up in hot spots like Hill Country and the Box), the store also makes gorgeous custom furniture using salvaged materials.

- Entire restaurants devoted to dessert
Need I say more?

- Freebies
The only good thing about turning 36 (not only are my belly and boobs decidedly droop-tastic, I'm working some serious old lady elbow) are the yearly birthday freebies that come my way. From Banana Republic, a $15 gift card. Coldstone Creamery offered up a birthday sundae. Aveda sent me a coupon for free perfume, and Sephora sent me some lotion from Philosophy. Of course all I really wanted was sleep (Will slept for an hour and a half last night. Total. Need I say more?) but until that happens, I'll take all the free crap I can get.

- Family members that feel obligated to babysit
Thanks to Cousin Amanda, Matt and I are going out tonight for the first time since Will was born. We're just going around the corner for dinner but WE'RE GOING AROUND THE CORNER! FOR DINNER!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Typing with one hand is tedius.

Er, I fear that I smooshed some toes in that last post. No smooshing intended, I swear! C'mon, bitching about the Midwest is the god-given right of anyone who grew up there! (AND WHO PLANS ON MOVING BACK!) I mock because I care. (Although I still say that cookie cutter tract homes are destroying the Heartland.)

We cool?

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The (thankfully) non-resident price for full-day preschool: $19,500

Although we're considering a return to the Midwest, I'm definitely not a fan of suburban living. All those cookie cutter homes and cookie cutter kids, oversized SUV's and unused backyards; it makes me woozy. As much as I bitch and moan about living in Gotham, it actually has a lot to recommend it, kid-wise. Unbeatable museums, a park the size of a small state, non-cringe-inducing children's theater; the list goes on. But there is one thing that the suburbs have that kick NYC's overpriced ass: Decent public schools.

The other day a neighbor and I were chatting about baby-rearing ("It's awful, isn't it?") when she asked me if I knew about the pre-school on the second floor. To clarify: I live in a 46-story building in the heart of Hell's Kitchen. It's government subsidized housing for artists - which is the only way we could afford to live in Manhattan - and getting is quite the coup. It has a five star gym, a parking garage, medical facilities for the elderly, the aforementioned pre-school, and a kick ass bakery right downstairs. I was on the waiting list for almost seven years. The pre-school isn't technically for residents - it's fully accredited and open to everyone - but I always assumed that Will would end up there. And that it would be, you know, free.

We all know where this is going, right?

See here's the thing - in this city, decent public schools are in short supply. Take, for instance, the school in my 'hood. Note the constant police presence and large, looming metal detectors. Note the talk about "baby daddies" and nonstop barrage of profanity. Note the fact that this is where my sweet baby boy might end up unless A) we hit it big and pay for private school, or B) he gets his daddy's brains and finagles himself into a gifted and talented program so we can transfer out of our district. Here's the thing: In order to get into a decent high school you have to get into a decent middle school, and in order to get into a decent middle school you have to get into a decent grade school, and in order to get into a decent grade school you have to go to the "right" pre-school, which is why we just submitted paperwork on our 2 1/2 month old so that he can attend - wrap your heads around this, kids - pre-pre-school. What's even crazier? It doesn't start until August of 2009, and Will got the last slot.

Think I'm exaggerating the nuts? This, from last week's New York Magazine:

Kindergarten Crop

It’s time for the city’s baby boomlet to go to kindergarten, and there’s not enough room.

It’s kindergarten-acceptance time, and the city’s ever-growing post-toddler population—the number of New Yorkers under 5 has increased more than 25 percent since 2000—promises massive, historic overcrowding in the city’s public schools. But parents who don’t like the sound of that, and would do anything to finagle their kids into the privileged “gifted” schools, are even more frantic than usual. The Department of Education has instituted new rules for gifted programs. In this year’s new, uniform process, only the super-testers—those kids who place in the 95th percentile or above—make the cut. (There was more flexibility in the past, and children who scored above the 90th percentile could pretty much count on a spot.) The new process also sends notifications in late March, well after private schools—where space is even tighter—require deposits from accepted kids’ parents.

“We got tons of calls from people whose kids didn’t get in anywhere,” says Amanda Uhry of Manhattan Private School Advisors, who ushers clients through the onerous admissions process at the so-called independent schools, which mailed kindergarten acceptances last month. “Parents were devastated.” Even top preschools that in previous years had no trouble getting their kids into kindergartens have seen some get shut out, she says, thanks to a larger-than-usual candidate pool. Little Red School House saw a 20 percent rise in applications from last year; Trevor Day School 15 percent; Hunter College Elementary School 24 percent; Marymount School 20 percent; and Brooklyn Friends a whopping 74 percent. Deborah Ashe, Trevor Day’s admissions director, has fielded lots of calls from preschool directors asking about children who’ve been wait-listed and even talking up kids who are now making the rounds once more after getting in nowhere. “It’s been an much more competitive year,” she says.

Patrick Sullivan, a member of the mayor’s Panel for Educational Policy who voted against the G&T changes, says the new requirements have caused “a lot of stress.” Parents won’t find out if their children are G&T bound for several weeks. “I’m in limbo,” says Laurie Frey, an Upper West Side parent whose three elder kids are in the gifted program but is waiting for word on her youngest. “In the past, it wasn’t so burdensome. But now the wait just goes on and on.”

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I teethe, therefore I cry.

Sure the girl is pretty, but $5,000 pretty?

So this is what 36 looks like, huh? Not too shabby I suppose, given the circumstances. And we all know to what circumstances I'm referring, and yes, those are the same circumstances that have kept me from blogging (or answering email or reading email) for days now. Unfortunately I can only type when I have my hands free (unlike Hatchet I can't type one-handed. Damn you, lack of a useful skill) so unless the kid is sleeping in the sling, my hands are busy doing things like trying to encourage tummy time or doing dishes or holding the remote while breastfeeding. (Rock of Love ain't gonna watch itself.) I won't lie, things were ugly - U-G-L-Y - for awhile. I won't bore you with the details but suffice it to say, prolonged lack of sleep makes things grim. How bad did it get? Bad enough that we paid for a consultation with an infant sleep specialist. She came highly recommended by our pediatrician and the testimonials were beyond glowing. She was to come to our house, suss out the situation and offer a personalized, step-by-step plan to get our guy some zzz's. Granted, it seemed like a lot to cover in only an hour ("unless you want to arrange a follow up consultation...") but we figured what the hell? All we had to lose was money.

Oh yeah, money.

The going rate for sleep in this city? Three hundred and fifty smackers.

Did I mention it was only an hour?

Not that any of it - the outrageous cost, the magnitude of the task - stopped us. You promise that my baby will sleep, I'll give you massages covered in truffles coated in gold. Desperation drives people to do crazy things. $350 an hour things. (Apparently in some cases, $80,000 things. Click for pics!) So was it worth it? Does $350 buy happiness? Hell to the N-O.

Instead, a very nice, very intelligent twenty-something came over, sat in our living room, and regurgitated the opening chapter of "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child". We learned all about infant sleep cycles and brain development and what to expect when we start sleep training which we can't do until he's 14 weeks. Turns out, we can't do much of anything until he's 14 weeks. Which would have been good to know - BEFORE WE SPENT $350. We sat there smiling and nodding, waiting for her to get to the point (what can we do now) but she just kept burping up variations of wait and see. ("Well, when he hits this next developmental milestone...", "In a few weeks you should start seeing major changes!") That's fine and good but for $350, I want to learn something I DIDN'T ALREADY KNOW. ANNNNND! If you're promising solutions, I expect them to be more creative and interesting than melonfarming cry-it-out! If I wanted to do a modified Ferber (which, yes, is what we're going to do) than I could've just re-read one of the gazillion sleep books gathering dust on my bookshelves or called Missy for some good old-fashioned hand holding. To give her some credit, she did offer some much needed reassurance that Will is on track developmentally and some things to look forward to in the weeks to come (consolidating sleep!) but I still get a little sick when I think about writing out that check.

That said, all is not lost. Some sanity has been regained. And the best part? The solution was totally free. I was talking to another sleep deprived mommy and she said that she and her husband slept in shifts. He took the first one - 10 pm to 2 am - and she did the second - 2 to 6 am. At first it sounded crazy but last night we decided to give it a go. And friends, it was heaven. Right now we're still sleeping in separate rooms but once we get our spankin' new co-sleeper set up (expect a call this weekend, Boyers) we'll have something that resembles a life - at least for three more weeks until we start sleep training...

Thursday, March 6, 2008

The doctor thinks he might be teething.

Last night he slept for two hours. Total.

He nursed nonstop from 2-6 a.m. He did not sleep during that time.

I slept for an hour and a half.

It's time for some help.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The things you learn while doing your taxes...

We spent almost $11,000 this year on health care.

Methinks a line has been crossed.

When "clean" comes down to which pair of jeans is covered in the least amount of baby pee, things are officially grim. And stinky. Very, very stinky.

SHOTS. And not the fun kind.

And Will thought tummy time sucked...

Yesterday the little guy had his two month immunizations, a potent cocktail of four separate and equally painful jabs in the chub of his legs. We chanced it and took him to a new office and man, am I glad we did. It's called the Continuum Center for Health and Healing and yes, it's just as floaty as the name suggests. (The place offers leech therapy. For reals.) But after spending his last two doctor's appointments in a gritty clinic on the Lower East Side we decided it was time to trade up. ($800 a month on health insurance ought to be good for something.) Let me tell you, this place was nice. Not as nice as the pediatric ophthalmologist we took Will to when he scratched his corneas but pretty melonfarming swank. (That visit was fascinating; a total peek into how the other half live. Unlike the small and sterile exam rooms I'm used to, his had flat screen TVs and those beautiful, clear sinks that look like bowls. The doctor was decked out in a gorgeous - I suspect custom made - suit and accompanied by a Gal Friday whose sole job was to trail behind and write down everything he said. I was pretty certain this guy was the emperor's new clothes until he was able to diagnose Matt and I from across the room. ("You and your husband have practically the same prescription, except that you have an astigmatism." Spooky.) As if that weren't cool enough, he was able to tell us when Will will likely need glasses (around age 8) and mentioned that when first saw me, he thought Susan Sarandon was back in the office. (To which I replied, "She must've been really, really tired.") Anyway, the Continuum Center was very Zen - everything was circular or draped in silk, much as I picture Oprah's bedroom. Luckily the doctor kept the flake factor to a minimum. Will is healthy and happy, albeit a touch on the puny side. (He's only in the 25th percentile, weight-wise. Perhaps it's my natural competitiveness or love of standardized tests but 25th percentile seems a bit remedial.) His lack of weight gain may be due to the fact that Will has tongue tie (surgery!), but she also suggested adding formula twice a day to fill in the gaps. Hopefully the extra calories will have the added benefit of prolonging his sleep, at least until we can contact the SLEEP SPECIALIST she recommended. You read that right - SLEEP SPECIALIST. Have you ever seen two more beautiful words? The doctor did say that we shouldn't contact them until Will is older - in her experience, sleep training is rarely successful before four months - but the fact that there's someone out there who can help... Do you hear angels? Because I hear angels.

As shitty as the shots were (and oh they were), the Center got huge points for the way they treated the little guy. They dimmed the lights to make the room more cozy and put pillows under his head and feet. They also had me breastfeed him while they gave the shots (to help soothe him) and waited a few minutes between them so that he could relax and recover. Now if only they offered something to help the parents relax...

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Where'd this little boy come from?

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Number of tears shed (by entire family) - Innumerable


Number of cups of caffeinated tea consumed - 1

Number of naps taken - 0

Number of hours it took to get an exhausted, overtired baby to bed - 3

I am officially decaf's bitch.