Thursday, August 30, 2012

Niece sleepovers

My 2-year-old niece Madelyn has been coming to stay with us anywhere between 1 and 3 weekends a month. We love spending time with her - we actually fostered her for the first 6 months of her life (more on that later), so we have a bit of a special bond with her and cherish the time we get to spend with her now that she's full time at home with her mama. Her mama (my sister Jackie) went back to school this week and needed some help with childcare, so Maddie came to stay with us for a couple of nights.

She's a co-sleeper, which (for those of you non-parents out there) means she doesn't sleep in her own bed, she sleeps with her mom. There are million arguments out there for and against this, and I really have very little judgment for co-sleeping or not co-sleeping. For the record, she co-sleeps because she doesn't have her own room, and because when she was a baby, she only would fall asleep while being held. It's kind of a slippery slope from there.

Anyway - she co-sleeps, which means when she comes to stay with us, she sleeps in our bed with us. This was kind of cute (albeit nerve-wracking) when she was a baby, but she just turned 2 (!!) last week, so she's no longer a chubby little baby, and is instead now very much a kid, with long arms and long legs, feet suddenly too big for her body, and most importantly, strong, developing muscles. She sleeps in between us and doesn't like to be covered, so if the covers touch her while she's sleeping, she'll kick and kick until they are off. She'll also twist and contort her body into positions that can't possibly be comfortable, positions that involve the three of us forming a letter "H" on the bed. Needless to say, the only one out of the three of us that gets a good night sleep is Maddie. Gina and I are left to figure out how best to maximize the very small amount of space she leaves us on either side of the bed. The toddler rolls, flips, sits up, turns, shifts, fidgets all night, constantly needing to feel the body of someone next to her. We wake up cranky, she wakes up excited for the day.

Finally, last night, we realized we can't all three sleep comfortably in the bed, so Gina volunteered to take the couch and give Maddie and I the bed. It's kind of a catch 22 - with the couch, you get to sleep by yourself, but it's not the most comfortable couch in the world, so you still might not get a good night's sleep. I thought for sure with just Maddie and I in the bed, we'd be fine and I'd get a great night's sleep.

When we finally got Maddie to calm down enough to go to bed (at 11:30pm!), she got into bed without argument. Once I shut the light off, she took her pillow, set it on my stomach, slapped it a few times, and laid her head down, so that half of her body was on me and half of her body was on the bed. I was exhausted. All I wanted to do was sleep, and with a 27 pound kid leaning on me, it wasn't likely to happen quickly. I thought back to every night no one forced her to sleep on her own, every night that led us to this moment, where she can't sleep on her own in a bed. I thought how this was only going to get worse the older (and heavier) she got.

When I knew she was sleeping, I carefully lifted her off of me and put her in her own space in the bed. She didn't argue - instead, she curled toward me, sighed contentedly, put her arm on my arm and, still sleeping, gently patted me with her chubby little hand. She slept nuzzled near me almost the entire night (except the part where she actually fell off the bed, which I knew would happen - she just whimpered and fell back asleep as soon as I picked her back up). I still didn't get a great night's sleep, but having this little kid smelling faintly of oatmeal shampoo so near me all night, feeling her little hand pat me almost like she was comforting me, and being able to feel her soft freshly-dry curls against my shoulder all night - it was better than any full night's sleep could ever be. I know there will come a day when she will no longer smile broadly and run to me when she sees me, where she will no longer reach for me to hug her, and no longer pat me gently with her hands. She won't always wrap her arms around my leg, and she definitely won't always sleep in bed with me when she sleeps over. When I look at her and think about all of these things, it's then that the sleep doesn't matter, and I'm just intoxicated in the intensity and beauty of now. Right. Now.

**A rare solo-nap, splayed out.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Postcards from Parenthood: Flying the Friendly Skies

It was only five years ago that I genuinely enjoyed flying. I was amazed that human ingenuity had figured out a way for 300 people to be contained in an aluminum tube and for that tube to be able to make its way to 30,000 feet and stay there for hours on end, landing on the other side of the country or even the earth. I would get goosebumps on takeoff and landing, sometimes fighting back happy tears that I was lucky enough to live this life.

Not surprisingly, that changed pretty quickly after I started traveling for work. After about 6 months of flights that ranged from 1 to 17 hours, and in quick succession, I realized that not only did I not like flying, I loathed it. It got so bad that the smell of LAX was enough to make me nauseous. I eventually took a break from traveling, but the whole flying experience has never been the same for me. I look at it as a giant inconvenience that threatens to catapult my blood pressure and thin my patience to a dangerous level.

I knew flying with our then-9 month old foster daughter would be somewhat challenging. But we had practice last summer when we flew with our then-9 month old niece Madelyn. She was a fussy kid, but she was so great on the flight. Our little bee is such a pleasant kid, so we were a little concerned that the flight would change that. We were right to be concerned.

We took six flights for our "vacation" this year. Our flight from LAX to Pittsburgh connected in Newark. Our flight from Pittsburgh to Myrtle Beach connected in Charlotte. And our flight from Myrtle Beach to LAX connected in Atlanta. She did so well on almost all of these flights, even on the first one when a guy who I thought was drunk passed out right in the aisle next to us. She woke up from her slumber, confused, dazed, and looking like a junkie - glassy, unfocused eyes and messy hair - but she handled it and eventually fell back asleep. It was the flight from Atlanta to Los Angeles where she decided this flying thing was BULLSHIT and does everyone know how much this sucks or is it just me?

The brilliance of her decision to misbehave on the flight from Atlanta was two-fold. One, gina and I were in completely different parts of the plane. The people next to gina wouldn't switch with me because they were a couple and had been traveling for a long time and were just so tired (boo-hoo). The girl next to me was about 17 and was traveling with her parents, but her parents were a few rows up, so I thought for sure she'd switch with gina and the baby. I asked her, explaining that my partner was in the back with our 9 month old kid and would she mind switching, even though I understand it would be an inconvenience because the seat is in the back of the plane? She simply said, "I'd rather not." Thanks, bitch. So gina and I were separated for the entirety of the flight, and you can't cut a baby in half, so we had to take turns being on our own with her.

(Here's the thing - I fly a lot for work, and I understand it sucks to be in the back of the plane. If a newly married couple or a duo of girlfriends asks me to switch to sit in the back of the plane, my answer is always no. But when there is a baby involved, it's just plan rude to split up the parents. Period.)

Two, the flight was FULL of children. I was in a row with the 17 year old snot face and another girl, a newlywed who didn't get to sit by her husband. Gina took the first round with the baby, so I was alone and quiet up there with the 17 year old brat and newlywed. As the flight attendants were making their announcements, it sounded like an elementary school lunch room on the plane - just a loud general child din. Obviously this is not ideal, but I have no beef with loud kids on planes. Seat-kicking is another thing altogether (not okay), but kids are loud, it's fine. Well, crabass 17 year old and newlywed were talking about how many kids there were on the plane and they were sighing and rolling their eyes about how they hope it's a quiet flight. I thought, just you wait, bitch.

The entire row behind mine was taken up by a family. Two parents and five children, one of which was a lap child (who is supposed to be under 2 years of age) who was CLEARLY no younger than 3 1/2 years old. They were loud and annoying, and the guy across the aisle from me was annoyed by them from the minute he sat down. Lots of heavy sighing and eye rolling. I smiled and couldn't wait to bring up little bee to sit with me, so there would be MORE children to annoy him.

For about 30 minutes of the first 2 hours of the flight, little bee slept on gina's lap. I knew this without even seeing her, because the rest of the 90 minutes of those first two hours, I could hear her yelling and crying. Halfway through the flight, I went to relieve gina, took the baby back up to my seat. Little bee was over it. Done. Would NOT sit still, fussed, bitched, complained, and I let her. I told her out loud, "You cry as much as you want to, kid. This sucks being on this plane." She kept kicking Spoiled Teenager McGillis next to me, and I never once apologized. I did my best to keep her in my space and away from everyone, but when she did cause a fuss, I never said anything. Screw you guys!

The guy across the aisle from me finally turned around to the family behind us and yelled at the father, telling him he needs to control his kids, "I'm just trying to get to Los Angeles here, and you're ruining this flight!" The father laughed and said, "Maybe you should've taken a private jet." Grumpy guy was all, "I paid for my seat and those are not my kids, I shouldn't have to deal with them, they're YOUR kids." The flight attendant came over and spoke to the guy like he was a five year old, and tried to smooth things over ("Okay sir, did you ask him nicely to keep his children quiet?"). The whole thing was just so ridiculous - I already had my statement prepared if he turned to me and complained about my baby. I'll share it here since he didn't say anything to me and I didn't get to use it:

"You think you're miserable? She's a baby. She didn't choose to come on this flight. She has no idea what's going on. All she wants to do is roll around and play. The difference here is, you're an adult and should have the capability to deal with stressful situations. She's a baby, and hasn't learned that yet." Just try me, Grumpy Guy!

I said two things to gina when we got off the plane: "Thank God we will never have to fly again with her at this age," and later, "I can't wait to go back to work."

Where did YOU go on YOUR summer vacation?

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Hello everyone, and welcome back to my little corner of the interwebs. I know some at least one of you have has missed me, and I do apologize for my absence. Instead of harping on that, let's talk about my plans for this space.

I've been blogging since about 2004, and the reason I always liked it was because it got me writing. As I look through my archives, dating back to when I was 25 (!!), I realize that this blog has been a great way for me to chronicle my life, a little spot for me to look back and remember things that become so easily forgotten. They might not be worth remembering to others, but they are to me, and I've always kept a blog for my own use and not with hopes of monetizing or profiting.

So what can you expect from this space? I realize a lot of bloggers look for their "voice," or try to capitalize on their "brand." Well, I don't really know what my voice sounds like or what my brand looks like, so for now, here's what you will see here:

--Anything and everything on my radar. Television, books, movies, popular culture, maybe some unpopular culture (although I'm probably not cool enough to know about the unpopular culture), politics, Los Angeles, Ohio, aunthood, parenthood (yep), writing, producing, comedy, podcasts, music, college football...and whatever else I'm thinking of. There's no theme here, people - just Katie's head.

--Labels - I hope to be diligent about labeling all of these posts so they are easily accessible on this page to anyone who might want to read about a certain topic.

--There will be an entry some point in the near future explaining my two-year hiatus from this space.

What is my goal for this space? I've been a writer since I was in 2nd grade. It's been the one thing I've been told consistently I'm good at, and whenever I feel like my life is lacking, I always think, "I should be writing more." I'm not saying this is the space I SHOULD be writing in, but this is a start, and I hope to use this space to unlock my creativity in my own personal writing, writing that I might actually try to get published some day.

I'm not going to proclaim some lofty goal of posting every day, but I feel like a goal of three times a week is an achievable one. It's easy to be great at setting unattainable goals, but it takes a stronger sense of self to set attainable ones, so let's start at 3 posts a week. I hope that's enough to keep you coming back for more, because while the main point of this space is for me to remember things and get back on track writing-wise, I also love sharing my thoughts with YOU and hearing your thoughts back. Also, there is a part of me that has a fear of sharing certain things, but I am starting to realize I'll never get to where I want to be if I'm not honest with myself, and what better way is there to hold myself accountable than to put my thoughts and goals out there for you to read and judge? (Or perhaps I just like being ridiculed? Not sure.)

Thanks in advance for stopping in to say hi. And please, if there is anything I can do to make your katieeverybody blog experience more enjoyable, let me know. I'm not sure how much I will be willing to or even know HOW to change, but I would love to hear your thoughts.