Wednesday, October 13, 2010

For my cousin Ginny (and every other mother who hasn't slept in eons)

So my cousin requested I talk about sleep, which just happens to be the most frequently used word in this household and what my life revolves around. I used to feel shallow about this fact, and then I realized...that there simply isn't anything better than sleep when you're not getting it. It makes or breaks the entire day. There were many months there where I fantasized about it. Now it's better. Now it's more of a strong desire.

Samaya unfortunately has never shared her parents' enthusiasm for the shutting of one's eyes. Our midwives told us before they left that first day to expect her to sleep a lot for the next day or two--that she would be recovering from the work of birth. But all Sisay and I can remember is a constant passing back and forth of our perfect and gorgeous and sleepless child and a whole lot of rocking in the middle of the night. For the next year, things didn't change a whole lot. Every 4 months or so, she would generously give us a 4-5 hour stretch, but generally speaking it was more like every hour and a half with maybe a 3 hour stretch thrown in. Now most of you reading this will be thinking, 'Oh, that must have been rough,' but then there is the contingent exclaiming, 'Yes, she understands! Oh, the torture!' This is mostly for you.

I was proactive. I read all the sleep books. I knew where I stood on the Ferber vs. Dr. Sears philosophies. And to the dismay of my husband, I implemented new plans weekly. My first priority was to get her to fall asleep on her own at around six months. This would logically lead to being able to put herself back to sleep when she woke up in the night.(HA!) We still read a book and nursed, but I would make sure she stayed awake after that long enough to sing one prayer. Then we would lay down on her bed next to ours and she would do the rest. At the beginning this was a VERY long process of repeatedly laying her back down (with varying levels of protest) until she got the message or wore herself out. But I was consistent, and now putting her to sleep is always easy and usually only minutes long.

Then it was on to the night wakings. They didn't change! And if they didn't result in milk, they always resulted in tantrums. I told myself I'd give her a year and then close the all-night all-you-can-drink milk bar. And I meant it. At around 13 months, I warned Sisay and braced myself. I had already spent a lot of time pointing out the differences between day time and night time, the sun and the moon, light and dark so that she was more conscious of the daily rhythms. That first night when she woke up, I told her as soothingly as I could that there would be "milk in the morning, when the sun comes up." "Night time is for sleeping. In the morning we will wake up and have milk." Mostly, I pretended to sleep. She wasn't pleased, but at least I knew she understood and was old enough now to go all night without food. She could have water, chamomile tea, even a banana (which I kept right by the bed) if she wanted but usually she declined. Surprisingly, it only took her a few days of crying before it clicked. It wasn't sudden, but she was waking up less and screaming a lot less.

Now, at 16 months, she sleeps around 8 hours straight. If she wakes up, it's rare that she needs me. The only problem is that after such a nice long stretch, she's not tired enough to go back to sleep and she's too tired really to be up for the day. So she crawls over to me and tosses and turns from 4 to 6 am, to her credit genuinely trying to go back to sleep. And then we're up for real. By 7 she's grumpy.

So help me God this child WILL sleep 10 (or 12) hours before her baby sister arrives in February.

By the way, we're having another baby girl! And she will be an EXCELLENT sleeper!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Thursday, September 16, 2010

This child

There is a small and swirling girl in our midst these days- only a shadow of the baby we once cradled in our arms. Every day, every hour, another word is spoken, new skill is learned, milestone is reached, and I say to myself, 'Don't forget this. Please don't forget this moment.' But the moments form miniature mountains around me and at the end of the day all that is left is a vague sense of awe at how quickly the landscape is changing around us. The details...washed away in the fading light.

Language. Oh to watch her finally and gradually communicate her thoughts in words:

"Hep, hep" she calls when she's gotten herself into a precarious situation. Often with both feet stuck inside the hole of her potty or wedged behind the toilet for God knows what reason.
"Please," she signs passionately and sometimes says, leaving the rest to be deciphered by her psychic parents: Please what??
A favorite: "Peace!" spoken dramatically with thumb and pointer finger thrust forward.
"Baby, na na na na na" as she points to a a sleeping baby in a magazine.
"No, no, no, no, no" accompanied by a wagging finger to show that a cupboard is not to be opened or the toilet water is not to be splashed in.
There are lists of words...all done, moon, balloon, bubble, baby, water, juice, peas, cheese, milk, May, Aman, Papa, Abdu'l-Baha (Ababa), bath, Elmo, ABCs, hat, shoes, apple, want this!,yeah, Tiernan (Neneh), zhuzhu (swing), ice, hi, bye, meow, Allah'u'abha (Abha), Brown bear, brown bear (bow beh, bow beh)...

But the most amazing thing is her recent ability to repeat words on the spot. Since it is currently less than pleasant to take her into any store (How dare you stop me from ripping everything off the shelves, running off with your debit card down the aisles, and from containing me in any form), I try to narrate everything that is happening to engage her in the process. As we ring up each grocery item, These are lemons, can you say lemon? And with amazing accuracy, she does! Every time it is completely amazing to hear her utter a word she has never said before right on the spot. I find myself looking around at the other people in line for some mutual acknowledgement of what we have just witnessed, but all I get is a polite smile. Today I asked her to say cranberry, and by golly she came pretty close. That's a solid three syllables folks.

And it isn't just words. We took Eric Carle's 'From Head to Toe' out of the library and within a day she had mastered each of the animal movements. She does a mean gorilla.
She pants and barks at dogs, makes some sound that Sisay taught her for squirrels, signs 'bird' and 'fish'.
She nurses her babies and lays them on the bed with an accompanying 'na na na na na.' She sits Elmo up in front of her wooden ABC toy and sings over and over again,'ABC! ABC! ABC!' This particularly kills me.
And she understands. everything. Which is particularly helpful for bribing purposes: Eat another bite and I'll give you more ice and You want milk? Okay, diaper change first, then milk.
We've also reached the point where important objects go completely and utterly missing when you should have been out the door 10 minutes ago. My hairbrush? In her sock drawer. Cell phone? Browning nicely in the play kitchen oven. Library book? To be continued...

I suppose that's enough of 'my daughter is so amazing and the internet must deeply understand.' Can I just say how completely yummy she was tonight when we were putting her to bed. Oh, the spontaneous hugs! Oh, the accompanied patting of our backs! I do declare there is nothing sweeter than a spontaneous hug from a 15-month-old.

Monday, August 23, 2010

'Summer' in installments....

PART 1: Squinchy Face

York Beach

more beach

Abdu'l-Baha's room

Sanam's wedding!

Kiddie pool

After her first slip and slide

At the fair

Raising of the peace flag at Green Acre

Thursday, June 24, 2010


Samaya is going through her 'yeah, yeah, yeah' phase. At first we thought her understanding of language had suddenly taken a giant leap. And then this conversation happened:

Me: Do you want milk?
Samaya: Yeah (breathy and passionate, accompanied by head nodding)
Me: Do you want to go outside?
Samaya: Yeah
Me: Do you want Daddy to hold you?
Samaya: Yeah
Me: Do you want to eat garbage?
Samaya: Yeah!
Me: Do you want us to leave you at Grandma and Grandpa's for the weekend?
Samaya: Yeah. yeah. yeah.

To her benefit though, she does understand a great deal. Especially anything involving milk.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

1 Year Around the Sun

It's sort of hard to believe that Samaya has already experienced all four seasons, each of the 12 months, each of the 365 days this little planet earth has spent traveling around its sun, and each of those days' sleepless (still!) nights. She most certainly has her parents circling around her, out of love yes, but also out of necessity. We got a fearless one, folks. The kind that will leap unhesitatingly over small cliffs, and into oceans and oncoming traffic if we let her. We try not to. Usually.

She had a lovely little birthday party with her little friends on Tuesday. Just a simple lunch in a nearby park complete with a pinata made by a dear friend and homemade cupcakes. We gave Samaya the opportunity to partake of sugar for the first time but she opted out and went for the strawberries on top. That's my girl.

We love this little fireball with her own ideas about the world. No doubt it will prove a challenge as we accompany her on her journey to join fearlessness with wisdom, willfulness with compromise, independence with interdependence. I hope we prove to be adequate mentors. And it is comforting to know she will never be walked on, bullied, or oppressed if she has any say about it. This one can fend for herself. Let's just please, please be gentle about it, Samaya. Deal?

I have been hoping and praying that we could get her a wooden kitchen for her birthday, and with the help of her grandparents, aunt, uncle, and the wonderful man in Gorham who makes beautiful children's furniture, today I got my wish. (I'm pretty sure it's Samaya's wish too.) She is quite pleased so far. My vision is to surround our family with what is necessary, high quality, and beautiful and to do my best in keeping out the incessant flow of plastic that inevitably seeps in. So here's to stone soup, mud pies, and pockets full of flowers.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Littlest Gardener

Our community garden is growing! I cannot tell you the joy this little piece of earth brings me with its magically appearing rows of tiny green shoots and sunshine and little muddy feet. I'll let Samaya show you around...

Here is Dada's potato plant

And these are the snow peas

here we have the radish rows (which do look an awful lot like green butterflies!)

and this is my little garden in the corner

Mama lets me help with the watering. I mostly water myself.

and there you have it. I hope you enjoyed the tour!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

Today was my first Mother's Day. To celebrate, I scared the bejesus out of my daughter. Twice. I swear on Baha'u'llah that normally I am a very loving and empathetic mother but on both of these occasions I laughed. hard. really hard.

The first time I was attempting to turn the radio on - which is connected to the speakers also used for the TV. Apparently someone had been watching Oprah rather loudly (Sisay) and the antennae was disconnected, resulting in VERY LOUD fuzz. Or is it static. You know the sound. Samaya was right behind me trying to eat the antennae wire or gnaw on the glass door, and at that moment she let out a blood curdling scream while wrapping her body around my back and doing a little jiggle.

I promise I did NOT laugh until after I was holding her in my arms and had assured her that everything was okay. But then I started imagining what could possibly have been going on in her almost 1 year-old little brain and all I could think about was the smoke monster from Lost. I don't know, it felt appropriate at the time. So while I was assuring Samaya that the smoke monster had not in fact traveled through the radio waves to get us (besides, the reception was too poor), I started laughing. Because it was just so funny that she had thought of that! This was also followed by another disconcerting feeling: she must have her grandfather's 'creative' imagination.

The second time, now that I think of it, was also my father's fault. Well, to be more accurate, it was Elmo Buff's fault. I was reading his wacked out blog this evening while Samaya played quietly across the room. We were both lost in our own worlds and when I finished reading I let out a strange high-pitched little chuckle. I guess I didn't sound like her mommy or something, but she screamed again and ran toward me like something had just nipped her on the butt. I might have laughed before she reached me.

There is a little girl in our house now who talks (in her own language, but convincingly so), walks, plays, laughs out loud, and gets scared. Where did my baby go?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010


Samaya now:

-blows kisses (primarily at strangers)
-gives kisses with an outward puff of air
-grabs rudely whatever you hand her
-shares her food with us
-plays peek-a-boo
-misses her Uncle Kalu
-runs and squeals with delight when we chase her
-talks fluently in her own language
-says Dada and Nana (referring to her mother)
-points where she wants you to take her and at pictures in books
-misses her Uncle Kalu
-sings along when we sing to her (but I'm sorry to say horribly out of tune and a bit monotone)
-waves hello to everyone she meets, especially srangers.
-loves injera and strawberries and lentils and apples and oranges
-gets extremely pissy when you take something away/won't let her eat paper/stop her from going somewhere
-when you tell her not to do something, she gives a frustrated grunt and does it anyway
-points at the door in eager anticipation if you ask her, 'outside?'
-misses her Uncle Kalu

P.S. I'll post some pictures of our recent trip to D.C. to visit Kalu in the near future.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

the tiny details

Some other things this mama doesn't want to forget...

-The child has sticky fingers. When crawling from point A to point B, if there be a book or an empty baby oil bottle (her favorite toy. I really don't know) in her path, it will be joining the parade. It makes me laugh every time because she almost always arrives a few pounds heavier and without having so much as paused. Not even so much as a glance at whatever is now in her hand.

-The tongue. My God, the tongue. Auntie Julia suggested maybe it's just too long for her mouth and she doesn't have anywhere else to put the remaining 3 feet that hang continuously out of her mouth.

-She got her third tooth on the top on Wednesday (I think).

-Her hair only grows on the top of her head.

-Every night when I'm putting her to bed I have to control wild fits of giggles because she's so damn amusing. She'll be dead asleep and then suddenly remember that she needs to sit bolt upright or stand up along the wall or crawl a couple laps around our bed. Before falling momentarily asleep with her head between her legs. I end up pinning her body down with my leg before she falls asleep. For good I mean.

-SAMAYA TOOK AT LEAST 6 STEPS YESTERDAY. Also, someone should probably tell her that walking comes before running. She was standing holding onto Grandma's hands when Daddy came home and she just let go and ran toward him. We all sort of gasped and that's when she stopped dead in her tracks, realized that no one was holding holding her anymore, and sat down. I was on the couch with a case of mastitis, but I nearly jumped out of my skin when she did this. I firmly believed that the first time she did this was an accident, but I guess we just have a total freak baby on our hands. Fine with me.

(sporting her new hat made by Auntie Claire!)

Happy Love Day

I'm shy...

want a kiss?

on second thought...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

updates for posterity's sake

Because I have yet to update the baby book since week 1, I'm hoping I can call upon the blog for a little assistance when I finally get around to it. That is if I remember to update THAT:

Let's talk mobility: she is. Once she started crawling, it didn't take her more than a couple days to master the nuances of her new locomotive- adjusting speed, ability to maneuver into tight spaces, ease of transitioning from carpet to tile. This last one was particularly cute. She would spend a significant amount of time trying to figure out how to cross into the kitchen not because it proved tricky to cross a thin metal strip level with the carpet but simply because the thin metal strip EXISTED.

It wasn't even a couple days later before she started pulling herself up onto the furniture and now moving along it. I'm not sure if it's because she started the cruising phase a bit early (she'll be 8 months in 4 days) and has yet to develop a concept of the damage that can be done to oneself as a result of gravity, but recently she's become downright bold. She'll stand up on the nearest couch, bed, chair and then dare herself to let go for longer amounts of time. And a number of times she's just taken off. Sisay says she took four steps when I was out of the room before landing on her hands and knees. And not because she really could. Because she thought she could. But still, we're impressed. When you hold her hands, she literally flings her body forward in a full out run. And if you grab her by the back of her shirt, she weaves and staggers in what we refer to as her drunken sailor routine. on speed.

And, oh the dancing. It has reached new heights of hip-swiveling, knee bouncing, hand twirling delight. The best way to describe it is a combination of belly dancing, hip hop, and Persian dancing.

She also started full on babbling, something she hadn't really displayed until recently. So far she says dadadada, bababababa, lalala, yayayaya, rararara and some other sounds that cannot be recorded by the English language. Sisay is convinced that the 'lalalalala' is 'Laurel' and is getting a good laugh out of it. I am less than impressed.

She still pants like a dog when she's exciting and sniffs rapidly in and out when she's annoyed (people have asked me if she has a breathing problem). Her personality is just exploding now and we are having so much fun (mostly). There is a lot of screaming and carrying on every time her diaper is changed or she isn't picked up in time or she is picked up before she snacks on the computer wires or her face is wiped. But we can PLAY now! I can chase her around the house. I can hide and she will come find me. I can surprise her around corners and hear her squeal in delight.

I think she's definitely a keeper.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Friday, January 22, 2010

my current life

I am so sick and tired of being sick and tired. You know? One cold after another and now a wicked sore throat. I'm hopped up on three aisles of the health food store and it's making me feel a bit light-headed.
Luckily, there is a tiny person trying to pull herself up on my body, banging a block on my back with definite rhythm. Oh, now she's eating wires. Make that paper. Make that the string on my hoodie. While eating the change from my wallet.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Seven Months Already

It's really amazing how much our little one has grown seemingly overnight. Since she's mastered crawling, her mood has also dramatically improved. The massive growth spurts-both mind and body-that dominated month 6, on top of teeth that seem to periodically try and fail to break through, on top of her first sickness...were trying for all involved. But now. How quickly we forget. Just last week I was complaining about what a fussy high maintenance child we had (no offense, Samaya) and today I am marveling at the joyful ball of energy I am privileged to spend my days with. (Of course, I loved her last week just as much- I'm just grateful she isn't always that intense.)

I don't know if I could really put words to it, but just the act of crawling seems to have changed so much about Samaya. Suddenly she is in charge of her own world and I can sit back in awe as she wields her power. Yesterday began the day Daddy has been dreaming of since before she was born- he came in the door from work and Samaya nearly sprinted into his arms. To see her be able to translate her desires into action is remarkable. She is her OWN person. Sisay and I periodically look at each other and say this when we're struck by the fact that we live with another human being-that we created.

But now it's really coming into fruition. If I'm in the kitchen and she wants me, she comes to me (albeit crying the whole way because she hasn't fully realized what she is capable of. and it's habit.) If she wants to explore the heating vent on the floor over there, or eat that piece of paper before I can stop her, or get away as fast as she can from the stuffed kitten that she is suddenly afraid of, then she can.

Probably those of you who don't have children or can't remember that long ago don't really understand just how amazing the begininning of this process is, but I'm willing to bet there are plenty of parents who know exactly what I'm trying and failing to say. It's like...her free will is manifesting itself. And suddenly I'm imagining all the decisions she'll ever make in her she'll handle being left out or bullied by another child, whether she'll be a dancer or a writer, whether she'll become a doctor like her daddy says she will. From the moment of conception, all parents marvel at the miracle of a unique and completely new life that has just entered the scene, but then it's months before we see that life, and even then it is a slow but beautiful unfolding of just exactly who this person is.
And in the end, will we ever really know? THAT, I think, is the very best part. I get to spend my days with a tiny and perfect mystery who just might, if I'm lucky, peel off one more layer of her endlessly layered self. It is always exciting.

In the meantime, I enjoy making wild hypotheses about her personality. For one, she is most definitely going to be a writer. The reason she crawled for the first time? To get that pencil I left on the floor. And paper. The girl loves paper. Grandfathers have had to inform me in grocery store check-out lanes that my daughter had nearly finished the grocery list. And we all know Samaya is as extroverted as one can be. At least two people a day (if I manage to leave the house) tell me she has made their day because of the huge grin she flashes and the attempt she makes to lunge into their arms. Also, she's a musician. Have you seen her play Grandma's piano or dance to, um, anything? especially t.v. commercials?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tough Times

Sorry for the hiatus. It's been a little rough going at our house. Samaya got quite sick for a while there, which meant even less sleep than usual, and then I got sick...I think the seven months of exhaustion along with being under the weather pushed over into the intolerable there for a bit and I just wasn't willing to leave the house let alone update the blog. But things are looking up.

I once again revisited the Great Sleep Crisis to see what I hadn't tried yet and ended up putting her down to sleep in a portable crib. Well it seems to be working- I think she needed her own space. She has slept about 3 1/2 - 4 hour stretches the last three days and I'll take that over pretty much anything you could dream of offering me right now. Last night Sisay had baby-duty and for the first time I slept in a separate room all by myself. That's right folks. All by myself. I slept four sweet hours, nursed the baby, and then...couldn't sleep for the rest of the night. I think I was trying too hard. I knew it was my only chance for probably another seven months and sleep never comes under pressure. But still, THANK YOU dear husband.

Also, in VERY BIG NEWS, Samaya has officially started CRAWLING!!!! I know, I should be frightened but I'm actually quite excited that she has that much more control over her world now. It's exciting when they start exercising their independence and interacting with the world on a whole new level-gives you a little more insight into their unfolding personalities. Now for the baby-proofing. Currently she is pulling herself up to standing on my back (I'm sitting on the floor). Such audacity, this one has.

Taken a mere half hour ago:

Saturday, January 2, 2010


Samaya has her first cold the poor thing. As the first born, she already expects and demands more attention than her parents have to give and the past couple days have been multiplied by five. Her life is not in danger by any means but she is one of those individuals who does not at all deal well with discomfort. Or waiting. Or anything less than constant stimulation. Novel stimulation. I have never been a strict adherent of the birth order philosophy, but so far she is not disappointing. And understandably- she spends most of her time with adults who cater to her every whim and, as of yet, there is little competition. Have I mentioned before that when she is in anyone's arms, she leans in the direction she wants them to go? And that if one does not agree to being her personal chauffeur the leaning gets more and more dramatic until she basically leaps out of your arms in an attempt to get there her own darn self? She is specific in her needs.

Back to the cold. Don't get me wrong-I have sympathy for the child. Her nose and mouth form a steady stream down her face and she has trouble nursing and breathing at the same time. She has, to her credit, tried so hard the past couple of nights to sleep. She sings in her high pitched 9th octave, VOLUNTARILY laying her head down on the bed in an attempt to self soothe. For those of you who are unaware, the only time any part of Samaya's body is not pumping, kicking, grabbing, wiggling, reaching, craning, arching, pulling, pushing, etc, etc, etc, is when she is sleeping. And that is an oh so temporary quarter step away from wide awake and up on all fours. We have been working since birth on her self-soothing skills though and now she often gets herself back to sleep (PRAISE THE LORD). But these delicate new skills cannot withstand obstructed nostrils and so the last two nights have been sleepless. And by that I mean more so than usual.

I must say, however, that there is something about your little one being sick that makes you love them a thousand times more. She's not even the cuddly sort and it still has that effect on me. You just wish you could take away those sniffles and look into those big glassy eyes and tell her you're going to make her feel all better.

But then she whines for the millionth time that hour and you call Grandma to PLEASE COME DEAL WITH HER GRANDCHILD FOR THE LOVE OF GOD.