Short Night, Long Day

Last night E and I had insomnia. We took turns being awake and waking each other. I started my day feeling raw.

I kept busy, but felt drained and fragile.

Liev came home in a wonderful mood. His infectuous cheer was just what we needed to end the day on a happy note. Tomorrow I will be jolly and well rested.

 Good cheer, all.

Illustration from “Jim And The Beanstalk.” Textures: texturemate, and m. r. nelson.

The Kitty Speaks!


Kitty sleeps in my art room downstairs. We gated the former dining room by velcroing Liev’s deconstructed crib sides to the doorways. This sounds much worse than it looks. It looks as if we have snazzy custom wood gates.

Anyway, kitty sleeps away from us for her own health and safety. Cats have nocturnal moments incompatible with three light and grumpy sleepers. Nevertheless, meowing concerts sometimes wake me.

One reason kitty wakes me is  Liev. He is about 100% potty trained at night, but with the new school year, he has been shouting out for a potty escort. The shadows in the stairway spook him.

When I was a kid, my mom cured my hallway fears with a flashlight. If we tried that with Liev, he’d dismantle the flashlight and eat the bulb. So, the household ears are open at night for Liev.

The other reason kitty wakes us—she has perfected meowing “Mama.” A year ago, my Mom observed that kitty does a first-rate imitation of Liev’s “Mama!” I dismissed this offhand. My mistake. I recently noticed that the “ma-meowing” peaks at five in the morning. It jars me awake since it sounds enough like Liev to fool my sleeping brain.

Today was the third morning in a row she woke me with a thousand insistant meows. I wondered what kitty wanted. She had fresh litter, lots of food and a bowl of bottled water big enough to swim in.

At six, I dragged my cranky self downstairs. She rushed to the kitty gate, “Ma-meow? Meow, Meow?” I let her out. She ran half way across the kitchen and turned to see if I was following her. I followed her. She dashed into the downstairs bathroom. “Marr-rrow?” Aha. She wanted to show me how delicious the toilet water was. Sigh.

Next month, I am buying this.

The Red Frog Nightmare

Red Frog

Every now and then, the nightmare factory sends my son a humdinger. Tuesday night, Liev woke us up shouting “I have a bad dream! I have a bad dream!” I slogged to his room to cuddle him back to sleep. With the hysteria only a four-year-old can muster, he proclaimed:

“You know what’s the worst nightmare? A frog with three colors—green, red and black. Red is the worst color because it means stop. And I don’t want to stop!”

I expected monsters, farm animals, or even a birthday party to be the subject of his nightmare, not a colored frog. I reminded myself that dreams don’t need to make sense to be horrifying. We banished his toy frog to the laundry room and I settled him down to sleep. In minutes, his breathing became regular. Yay!  Five minutes later, he rolled over. Five more minutes passed. Even with my eyes closed, I sensed him staring at me inquisitively. I opened my eyes. He informed me:

“You know, all frogs are not bad. Just the ones with red on them…”

I had many options. Being me, I did a statistical analysis of previous nightmare incidents. I included Liev’s distress, time of morning and my need for sleep as variables. I decided to give him five more minutes of cuddles and let him read himself to sleep. I miscalculated. An hour later, I hovered on the jerky borderland of sleep. The knocking began.

“It’s time to wake up, guys. It’s already light outside. It’s time to wake up!”

Our little rooster had spied the first glimmer of dawn at 4:30. I had to admit, despite the bad dreams and early hour, Liev was impeccably polite. Papa took him back to his room as I feigned sleep. At 5:30, Liev returned.

“Guys! It’s time to get up! Guys! It’s very light outside.”
“Mama…Mama, I’ve read all the books in my room. It’s time to get up.”

Thus, our day started. I cooked French toast and Liev read science books. Liev remained angelic and sweet all morning, and to my surprise, after school as well. At 6:50 pm,  he conked out, snuggled next to me on the couch. His resilience and good humor surprised and pleased me. If only I could grasp that courage at will. I would have slept better that night.

I was too tired to sleep. Insomnia usually starts with my brain grinding in obsessive, doomed circles. Wednesday night, my body felt twitchy and restive. My blood prickled as if it wanted to escape and whirl around in a margarita machine. Pacing did not help and even the Weather Channel did not soothe me. I considered Temple Grandin’s squeezing machine. Perhaps I could invent a spinning gadget to propel me into tranquility. I vividly imagined the device but lamented my inability to make one quiet enough to use at home.

At last, I decided to visit Cute Overload. If your mind is filled with fuzzy goodness, eventually your body has to relax. Then I hit upon the ultimate relaxer:

I adore Simon’s Cat. The simple line drawings and kitty mischief are a balm to the soul. I made it back to bed around midnight and had monochrome kitty dreams.

Photo Red Frog by Etai Adam. 

Overstimulated: Personal Observances


It’s going to be one of those days.

And by that, I mean I need to use all my internal resources to figure things out.

It started yesterday after Liev came home from school. I proudly restrained myself from my usual singing and hand-clapping (I am happy to see him!). I gave him space and ignored “rumbling” behaviors, using my own list of what to do to keep on track.

As usual, Liev flung off his pants. The nasty rash on his bottom had become red, raised and angry. For two weeks, I’ve moisturized the patch and applied Lanacane. Now it was worse, and he had a fever (100.9). I called the nurse who recommended he be seen today at 6:10 that evening.

Mentally, I calculated the sheer agony of an evening doctor’s appointment versus the sheer agony of non-stop fretting over Liev’s health.  When I put off my concerns over rashes last year, Liev wound up in the hospital for an allergic reaction to penicillin. So, 6:10 it was.

Egor sometimes comes to appointments with me, since talking to the doctor disorganizes Liev (and me too!). Last night, E had so much back pain; I could not subject him to such a grueling experience. So on the twenty-minute drive to the doctors, Liev asked me every addition and place value question he could think of.  This helped organize him, but I felt greatly distracted as I drove. My strategy–give answers and fake being interested. I am quite skilled at this!

Everything went smoothly at the doctor’s until she started to talk to me.  Liev melted down–no tears just wild behavior–tipping things over and tearing paper. I handed the doctor a notebook and asked her to write down information for me. It worked. Liev continued to act out until we were back in the car and everything was quiet.  His transformation into a saint was instantaneous. I might have aggravated beyond belief without my new sensory insight.

On the drive home, Liev was still a question machine, but in a placid, let’s-be-friends sort of way.  He created interesting “puzzles” out of a wooden block fidget and hummed to himself. I felt so stressed when I got home I wanted to scream, but I organized our bedroom closet instead.

I felt better in about twenty minutes and went back to mama duty. After kiddo was in bed,  I made the mistake of watching House, MD with E.  How many times do I watch it and find myself too wound up to hit my target bedtime of 10:00?  About four times out of five.  Well, I was tired and just wanted to sit and “be” with hubby. The blaring special effects of my recent DVR movies (SyFy!) would surely melt my last two brain cells. Why not a little House@#$%&;*%$@!!!

It wasn’t even a good episode.  You know what set me off? Poor House, being nastily berated for insensitivity when it was obvious to me that the poor fellow was simply overwhelmed by the speaker’s crisis.  Did I personalize this? Yes.

At 9:40, I was trying to fall asleep with my body vibrating with tension. My ribs seemed to be especially harmonic. I closed my eyes and the image of a red oscilloscope recording the vibrations of my ribs appeared.

Good Grief

I watched the rib oscillations and imagined myself being monitored and tested for mental and physical wellness.  The vivid vision fascinated me and I half slipped into a trance state, synchronizing the vibrations to all the bones in my body. It was almost a physical sensation and it rather freaked me out. I have always been able to close my eyes, deeply concentrate, and freak the shit out of myself.

Mind you, I knew my little hallucination was not real. It is my anxiety coping mechanism.  Instead of ruminating over events, graphic daydreams transport me to an odd, but more soothing place. Nevertheless, anxiety still intrudes, and the bliss of having odd thoughts turns ugly. I shook myself out of it, checked my email, and trotted downstairs.  I paced and watched Comedy Central until 11:00 when I fell into a peaceful vibrationless sleep.

Sleep Problems

No Papa + school=nightmares. Liev woke up at 4:00 with nightmares and was unable to go back to sleep. To add to the stress of the whole situation, he seems unable to spend more than 10 minutes with his Grandmother, without running around and causing mischief. Things will get better when Papa gets back!

On the bright side, it is wonderful to have someone here to cook delicious meals for us!