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Who Needs Sleep?

Categories: Parenting, Uncategorized, Working? Living?

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It’s late. Our room is quite dark, and now that Graham and I both use our iPhones for alarm clocks, we no longer have the red or neon blue glare of the current time in our bedroom. Our son is down the hall in his bed, coughing. I can’t let it go on any longer.

I sigh, get out of bed and head down the hallway to his room, where I give him some cough medicine by the glow of his night light.

“Mommy, you snuggle me?” he asks. It’s what he always asks when I end up down the hall in his room in the middle of the night.

“In a minute, buddy, I’m going to get the humidifier for you,” I answer.

I bring the humidifier down to the kitchen to fill it up and discover it’s two o’clock. No wonder I feel so groggy…my own cold medicine is still working in full force, making me feel fuzzy as I stand by the sink and wait for the humidifier base to fill with tap water.

Once I get Nate settled back into bed, I lay beside him, but I’m restless. I’m restless because he’s restless. He’s wide awake, and coughing almost constantly. There’s no way I’ll get to drift off here beside him.

I begin to count the seconds between coughs to keep my busy mind occupied and away from other thoughts that are invading my middle-of-the-night brain. I count to twelve between coughs and begin to feel there’s a little bit of hope that I might get some more sleep that night, after all.

Finally Nate seems calm and still enough that I sneak out of his room and back to my bed. I’m not there five minutes before I hear his small footsteps come down the hallway and settle on the floor beside me.


“Come on, Nate, back to your bed,” I say quietly.

He protests.

“I’ll come with you. Come on to your room so Daddy can get some sleep.”

And there it is, the thing that creeps into my tired mind while I tend to our sick son. The need for Daddy to get his sleep always seems to trump Mommy’s in our house, especially on a week night. Graham works on a construction site all day long, so of course it is important that he is alert enough to stay safe. I know this logically but in the middle of the night it seems so unfair. I work from home most days lately, full days in front of a computer instead of on a construction site. So naturally I can get by a lot easier the day after a rough night with Nate than Graham can. It’s still hard, though, and in the middle of the night, lying down next to a coughing kid for an hour, I resent that I have obligations the next day beyond caring for our son at home.

Who gets up with your kids on a week night when they are sick? Do you and your spouse take turns?

Reflecting on the Hits and Misses of 2012

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I’ve given up on making New Year’s resolutions. They always seem to feel insincere; the idea that I will exercise every day or eat salad every night or floss my teeth from now on just seems like so much personal lip service. Last year is the first year that I really gave up on resolutions and instead made a list of goals for the year.

Now that a year has passed, I’ve pulled out that list to see how well I did. One thing I learned about over this past year is reflection. I’ve learned the value of actively looking back over an experience and thinking about that experience to see what worked and what didn’t, then putting that reflection to use for the future.

As for my list of goals for last year, there were some solid hits, and some near misses, and a few items that flew under the radar in 2012, but overall I’m proud of the things my family and I managed to accomplish last year!

Three Hits:

I applied for and interviewed for one full-time position at the college where I work. I had intended to interview for an academic position, but instead I applied for a support position, but one that is much more up my alley. No word yet on whether or not I got the job…

I completed a continuing education course during the winter semester of 2012. I wanted to finish it with a grade of at least 75% but beat that with a grade of 80%.

I de-cluttered and organized the storage room in our house that we refer to as “the warehouse.” We recently picked up some shelving that was on sale and got rid of a bunch of junk and whipped that room into shape. This goal was accomplished just under the wire, on December 31, 2012. Phew!

Three Misses:

We wanted to contribute $100/month to our son’s RESP all year long. There was a snafu a few months back with the fund company we contribute to, and I didn’t make up the payments that were missed as a result. We missed three or four months of contributions. Gifts from Nate’s grandparents helped make up the difference. We’ve already got a system in place to make sure we don’t miss any contributions in 2013.

I had hoped to begin making regular contributions to my RRSP last year, too, but didn’t make any. I’ve got to get going with this one in 2013.

The last goal on my list read, “Finish off any home maintenance projects currently in progress but not yet complete.” Since I’m not the handyman in the family, I’m not shouldering the entire burden of this goal myself, so I don’t think I will make goals for 2013 that involve the use of power tools. Graham works hard, works often, has more than one job, and the projects around the house will get done when he has the time and energy. No biggie.

All in all, there were some things to be proud of, and some things to learn from. Now it’s time to make goals for 2013.

What are your family’s goals this year?

Yes, you can do that

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I was talking about princesses with my 7-year-old daughter the other day, and the discussion turned to the idea of princesses who need to be rescued (Cinderella, for example, or Sleeping Beauty) and princesses who don’t (Disney’s revamped Rapunzel, and Merida, the red-headed heroine of the newest Disney/Pixar movie, “Brave.”) As an example of Princesses who do the rescuing, I brought up Eowyn from “Return of the King,” the last book in the “Lord of the Ring” trilogy.

(You know, Eowyn… the princess who defied her father and rode into battle to defeat the embodiment of evil, who could not be killed by any man. “I am no man,” she declared as slayed the faceless demon.)

“So,” I told her, “next time someone says you can’t do something just because you’re a girl…”

“Mom,” she interrupted, rolling her eyes a tiny bit. “No one has ever told me that.”
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Easy tricks to try at home

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(Photo from mother-in-law sent this to me the other day, and the frugalista in my jumped for joy: It’s a list of clever, cheap ways to make life easier. I love finding out new ways to use the things I have lying around the house and easy ways to get more life out of the things I already have.

Did you know you could use a plastic drinking straw to hull strawberries? (Just push it through the bottom and out the top — the green part your kids hate will pop off.) I tried the trick for keeping a cut apple from browning this morning when I packed my daugher’s lunch, and it worked like a charm (with no sour taste from lemon juice or citric acid).

Here are my favorite tricks to try:
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The germiest place in your office? Your desk

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Once again, we’re in the thick of cold and flu season. And, once again, millions of parents are eying their sick days and wondering if they can really take any of them, even though they know they should stay out of the office when they’re sick.

Eighty percent of common infections can be spread through the air, water, food, and via contact with contaminated surfaces, Peter Sheldon, vice president of the commercial cleaning company Coverall, told me.  And the places where people are most likely to pick up germs aren’t as obvious as you might think.
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Have you checked your privacy settings lately?

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Now that my main office is inside my house, I spend more time on Facebook than I used to when I was commuting to work 40 miles away. It’s become my water cooler in a lot of ways, the place I go to catch up with coworkers, vet story ideas, and chat about the latest news.

But Facebook seems to change in some tiny way or another every few weeks. Between trying to navigate a new timeline to figuring out whether you follow your friends and their status feeds, it’s easy to forget to check your privacy settings. And Facebook counts on that, to some extent.
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Make your charity dollar go further

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We’re all feeling the effects of a lackluster economic right now, so you can imagine how much tighter the budget belt must feel for people who didn’t have much to begin with. It’s become more difficult for charities to help others, too — which means that now is the perfect time to do a little bit more. Even though times are tight, there are plenty of ways to give — and to let your dollar do more than you thought it could. Here are fiveoptions:
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4 tips for last-minute shoppers (like me)

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According to the American Research Group, more than a third of consumers have already finished their holiday shopping. Not started — finished.

I am not one of them.

I try to shop here and there throughout the year, stocking my gift closet with bargains, but inevitably a day or two before the holiday I discover that I need a stocking stuffer for a teenager (no easy feat, if you’re trying to stick to a small budget) or that I’ve given away as a birthday present something I’d stashed away for my own kids. I don’t wait until the 11th hour in order to save more money — though, given that stores are dropping prices in order to entice shoppers in this dismal economy, it’s been a bit of a win for me this year. I wait until the 11th hour because, even though it’s on the same day every year, Christmas always sneaks up on me before I’m ready.

If you’re a last-minute shopper, too — for whatever reason — here are four ideas that can help. Think of them as fake-cleaning tips, but for shopping.
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The working mom’s Thanksgiving survival guide

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When it comes to big holidays, most people could use a survival guide—not for getting through the big day itself, necessarily, but for dealing with all of the hoopla that goes along with it.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday (Friends! Family! Nothing to wrap and give except leftovers!), but if you work a paid job in addition to (unpaid) parenthood, that annual Thursday holiday can really do a number on your sanity.

What’s a working mom to do? Here, let me be your Thanksgiving sherpa:
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Bonus for coffee drinkers: lower rates of depression

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I almost always start the day with a cup or two (or three) of coffee. Cream, no sugar. Most of the time, I pour a cup, take a couple of sips, and leave it somewhere while I’m making kids’ breakfasts or packing lunches or trying to persuade my almost 5-year-old son to wear actual clothing to school. By the time I find it again, it’s lukewarm, but I quaff it anyway. Can’t let all that valuable caffeine go to waste now, can I?

According to a new study, coffee can do more than boost our level of alertness. Women who drink caffeinated coffee on a regular basis have a 20 percent lower risk of depression than non-java drinkers, The New York Times reported recently.
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