Tuesday, May 25, 2010

a special candle

Over the past few weeks, I've been dealing with a couple of big blow-ups. First off, my daughter Adelaide stopped sleeping. Then, my hard drive blew out, leaving me computerless and in fear of never accessing my records or work again.

There are few times in Adelaide's childhood when I've turned to the baby books. Long ago I threw away most of the standard books which seem to come to you when you have a child via well-meaning relatives or friends. I found that relying on my gut served us much better, rather than worrying what, for example, my child should be doing developmentally on her 232nd day.

I am not dedicated to one specific parenting philiosophy, and I have found no one book which is my parenthood bible (although I have discovered a few gems that will stay on my shelves: How To Raise An Amazing Child the Montessori Way, You Are Your Child's First Teacher, Simplicity Parenting). But mostly I prefer to pick and choose that which resonates with me and leave a lot of bits right out.

But then, there are some experiences with my daughter that have left me curled on the floor, crying to myself and wondering just how I will survive... I'm sure all parents out there know exactly what I am talking about! This is how I found myself when, for the umpteenth night in a row Adelaide was awake for all hours delusional and screaming. My exhausted brain and blurry common sense weren't helping me this time... Time to drag out those books.

And so, realising how much of Adelaide's world was mixed up with vacations, family visiting, and increasingly later bedtimes, we have implemented a tighter family schedule. Dinner at 6, bathtime at 7, storytime and bed before or by 8. And, one absolutely magical special sleepytime candle.

I can't remember which book recommended a candle for bedtime, but I cannot thank the wisdom of the author enough. I kind of thought it was just an overly simplistic idea - to have a special candle especially for a little child's bedtime - but I was at a point that I would try anything and so out came a candle. We make a special event of dimming the room, and lighting the candle together with a match. When the candle is lit, it is a magical, special, quiet time. We speak in whispers. We watch its dim light glow reflect throughout the room. And it is time for sleep to come.

This special bedtime candle has worked absolute wonders with Adelaide, whom was never really a great sleeper. It seems to even have helped with me (I've never been a good sleeper, either) And the two of us have been sleeping wonderfully well in it's soft glow ever since.

Another magical even has occured since the introduction of the special sleepytime candle - I have tried it out and with it lit Adelaide has begun napping mid-afternoon again, several times a week. Before the introduction of the sleepytime candle, she hadn't napped at all in well over 6 months.

I am not sure who is more thrilled with the special sleepytime candle and Adelaide's new sleeping and habits... Myself or Elliot. He is just ever so pleased to have his little girl napping once again. (This can't doesn't miss a beat!)

PS. I now have my computer back, but I am still sifting through it's remains, hopefully and anxiously. But 2 years of Adelaide's childhood in photographs are just... gone. I am left thankful that I've kept this blog because I still have it and it's record of many of my days and experiences with my daughter. And... I've missed all of you, too! I hope you are all happy and doing well.

40 comments:

bianca said...

I don't know if this will be helpful, but with each of my children I noticed the less sleep they got, the less restful sleep became. When I tried to keep them awake to wear them out, keeping them up later or trying to skip naps so sleep came earlier, it seemed to always backfire. Those nights were the most restless, leaving us all grumpy and even more exhausted the next day. Kids need a good bit of sleep-I've learned. Moving them away from lengthy sleep too soon can create bad sleeping cycles.

Whitney said...

what a sweet idea... sometimes i look forward to the days when my son is a toddler so i can do little things like this with him. :)

kendra said...

Oh yikes! Two years of photos gone! Were you crying as much as I can imagine myself doing?

Great idea about the candle. My three year old has had a hard time going to sleep both for nap and bedtime. Luckily things have gotten easier, after lots of my hair got pulled out. However I will definitely give the candle idea a try should he have trouble again.

Artfulife said...

The candle is a great idea. Kids crave routine & thrive when they have it. The past two weeks due to our move, have been chaotic. For the last two days I've worked at getting the kids back on their schedule & let me tell you it has made a difference for all of us. I hope this candle & new routine continue to work for the both of you. Wishing you the best :)

Nicole Austin said...

i'm glad to hear you've found something that works for you and your daughter. sleep can be so tricky with little ones. my baby just turned a year and i'm still waiting for her to get into some kind of natural sleep rhythm. my first was such a good sleeper--still is. i'm afraid i haven't figured out what "works" with my little one. but it's getting easier day by day. i'm sorry to hear about your photos, it's hard to lose those memories.

Islay said...

Love the idea about the candle, thanks! But how incredibly heartbreaking to lose those photos. I hope lots of relatives have them, and you can salvage enough from the blog. Our Mac has a really good external hardrive system (all automatic, so you don't need to remember to back up) - I can thoroughly recommend one if you're looking for a new computer.

lifeinredshoes said...

I must say again, you are incredible Mother.

tassy said...

I normally just lurk here, but wanted to say how sorry I was about the photos! I live in fear of losing ours and despite baking them all onto disk as often as I remember, i still worry that one day i'll turn on the computer and find them all corrupted! Thank goodness for blogs!

NorthernStar said...

It's awful to think that you have lost all your precious memories. Have you tried a data recovery program or a data recovery service? Some of them will come and pick up your hard drive and look at it for free. They only charge you if they can actually fix it.

Leanda said...

Firstly, I have to just comment on your PS... I literally gasped when I read that. I cannot imagine how devastating that is to have lost all those photos!! No back up Sharilyn?? But I'm so glad you have found a solution to Adelaide's sleeplessness (although I did read (!) somewhere that a child's sleeping patterns could be largely inherited). My little one is due in 4 weeks and I have two books, the Dr Sears Baby Book and What to Expect: The First Year. I find them helpful to some extent, and yes, to know what to do in the event of a child's fever is reassuring, but I hope I too can just follow my instincts. But it sounds like most of the time you are doing the exact right thing! And thank you for the book recommendations. Having been a fan of the Montessori approach for many years I still haven't come across a good Montessori book.
Continue being a fantastic parent my dear, little Adelaide is proof of that... you are one person I look to for advice!

Megan said...

I am so so so sorry to hear about your computer and your photos! I'm so sad for your loss. But, I am also glad about your blog! I'm sorry to hear about Addie's sleep issues. What a nightmare! It must have felt like there was no end in sight. It's kind of clinical but I LOVE the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. I refer to it at every stage of life for my little one. It's fascinating, scientifically. But, basically, in a nutshell it pushes the idea that the earlier the bedtime the better and they tend to sleep later in the morning the earlier they are put to bed. And as they get more rested, they will nap better. It seems like this has proven true in Addie's case as well. It pushes the bedtime routine and early bedtime. (It pushes for around 7:00 in the best case scenario). The book talks about children in an overtired state and how they can't relax for sleeping and it just keeps cycling. The candle seemed to be the perfect catalyst for change! Hopefully the bliss will continue! I'll file away that candle idea. :) Thanks for sharing, it's nice to hear that I'm not alone in these sorts of struggles that make you want to pull your hair out from time to time. (ps, thanks for those book ideas!)

Norma said...

oh dear, what a rough patch you all have been going through. i'm glad you're all sleeping better. just learned from my doc just how important enough sleep is and how it's not emphasized enough. also glad your computer is up and going again. sorry for your picture loss. happened to me too. now i do back-ups into a portable hard drive. :) lessons learned. take care.

sunny said...

Very, very happy for you that Addie is sleeping so well now and even napping! Great news.

amberlee said...

Oh my goodness so sorry to hear about the photos! That makes me want to go check my back up settings right now! Amazing turn around on the sleep issue. Those three books have been on my amazon wishlist for a while, but this made me move them to the shopping cart! We are having some sleep issues now too, I find keeping a schedule so hard!

jmquilts said...

I, too, am w/o my computer for a time and I understand how hard it is! My son is 17 y/o and our resident geek. He will be working on it again once another part arrives. Thankfully he says my hard drive is probably fine; it looks like a major hardware problem. Yikes!$!$

Your candle idea is sweet! I love it. I don't have the need now, but so remember when sleep in the children was hard to come by. I'm thankful you are both sleeping better! :)

Jana said...

Sleeping children are so precious! As is your Adelaide.

My kids had 6:30/7:00 bedtimes well into elementary school-they were just tired and needed sleep and we adults needed time without kids around. It worked perfectly. It just meant that we chose not to do a ton of activities when they were young. I liked that-no regrets.

We also have had room time every afternoon that we were home. Some times they slept, sometimes they didn't. Now that they are teens, the nap several times a week again. So sweet. And they are busy most nights with friends, work and church. I love that too.

I'm so sorry that you have lost photos...{hugs}
jana

Danielle said...

So sorry about your computer and sleepless nights! One of the best things I read/heard was that sleep begets sleep (also mess begets mess, but that's a different subject altogether :). Here's to even more rest for you soon!

April said...

I have lost several years' worth of photos in a hard drive failure before, too. It's devastating. I completely sympathize. :(

Perhaps it would be worth backing up your photos online, as well as regularly backing up your computer. I believe for a small fee you can host an unlimited number of photos on Flickr, and you can make it private so no one else can see the photos.

That way if something happens and your computer crashes again, but your back up is old or corrupted, you'll have them online (i.e., it'll be a 2nd form of backup). The other nice thing about it being online is if there is an area disaster (both your computer and back up are ruined) or you're far from home, the photos can still be accessed.

When my computer died, I lost so much. But the photos were the most difficult to lose.

Give yourself time to grieve. And don't stop taking new pictures.

Rose said...

We have a bedtime candle, too. I believe I read about it in You Are Your Child's First Teacher. I second that it is a great book. Rhythm and routine are what children crave most--for things to be the same and reliable.

Sorry to hear about your photos. I've lost data before too, and it is absolutely devastating.

Deborah said...

What a great idea! Sound lovely! Wonder if my teens would love it? They work so late on the computer with homework that it can be hard to wind down! I'm glad you're back! I've missed you!

{little.happy.things} said...

Glad to have you back! I know how it feels when the computer blow-up. I am dealing with the same problem now. The good thing is that I did backup all my files and photos, cause it happened to me once before and I cried 3 days over the lost pictures....

Who know candle would work, right? I will keep it in mind just in case my niece or my coming baby don't sleep.

Anonymous said...

I am very surprised to be the first to comment that when reading your post regarding a candle all I can think of is FIRE HAZARD! I don't know where this thought is coming from - normally, I am not too anxious about such things - but I feel compelled to tell you. Please be careful!

Liza said...

I'm with "Anonymous". I thought the same thing. I'm sure you're being careful though. Just an idea...they do make little lamps that look like candles and give out that nice flickering glow.

I just recently discovered your blog and it has been a gem! You have such a beautiful little girl. I have two kids of my own and many of the things I have read on your blog I have gone through with my little girl!

Thank you for inspiring me to finish my daughter's quilt. :)

Kirby3131 said...

I might have to implement the candle idea for me! I don't have children, but it sounds like an amazing idea.

About your stuff - I know this is going to sound like a commercial, but I use Carbonite.com and so does my husband and when he lost his computer and everything on it one day, it was all backed up on Carbonite. He was able to get a new computer and just download the original files from them. It was awesome. Photos are saved, too.

I also download every single photo I take on Photobucket.com. I have it on my computer and on photobucket and backed up by carbonite.

I can't imagine losing all of those precious memories.

Doppelganger said...

I'm so sorry about the photos. I went through something similar, and while I was glad that my favourite images were on Flickr, I lost many, many precious photos.

And good for you for figuring out the sleeping situation. Again, I've been through something similar with my older son. At around the age of three, he stopped napping and shortly afterward starting having what we later found out are called night terrors. He'd scream and be completely irrational for anywhere from a few minutes to hours. It took us weeks to pinpoint that lack of sleep was the problem. We developed a much tighter (and earlier) getting-to-bed schedule, and eventually the problem resolved, though it would come back if we let ourselves get lax. Night terrors don't affect all children, but man, they're rough on the kids -- and their parents -- who are affected.

Amanda said...

Poor you losing all those photos!!! Our computer was playing up a few weeks back and I was so paranoid about losing our pics. Lucky you have your blog as a bit of a record. Love the nightime candle idea and will have to check out those books you have recommended.

Anonymous said...

i love the candle idea! will have to try that with my 2yr old. do you leave it burning or blow it out when you leave the room? may sound like a dumb question, but i can see my little one picking it up and setting the house on fire:)

Holly said...

As a parent, I think few of us have not struggled at one time or another with sleep challenges. After some of our own challenges, we too put our son on a sleep schedule with a clear routine leading up to bedtime, and it has worked magic for us ever since--he has been a champion sleeper for years now (although still a very early riser--but I think those are just his bio-rhythms). One book I read, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, claimed that often, when you get the sleep routine down right, the more sleep a child gets, the better they will nap-and conversely, when they are too tired, they do not nap well. While it never seems to make sense, we see this again and again with our son--when we are out late and he gets to bed well past his bedtime, the next day he does not nap...anyway, I am happy to know you have found your magic sleep formula for Adelaide. And also, I adore the name Adelaide--it was the name of my favorite great aunt.

Kyla said...

we love the bedtime candle. we also spray rose water or lavender water around the room and on the pillows. Have you tired reciting a special night time verse? We usually say this one, and my 7 and 3 year olds love reciting it before blowing out their candles or snuffing them out with a special snuffer. "Evening is coming, the sun sinks to rest. the birds are all flying, home to their nests. Caw caw, says the crow, as she flies over head. 'It's time little children are going to bed."

Susana Estevam said...

oh! I'm very sorry for the lost pictures.

I'm sure the candle idea came from the book "simplicity parenting".

Alissa Nicolau said...

In case someone before me hasn't mentioned it, try out Blurb. If you don't know about them, they're awesome! They are a photo place. Make photo, recipe, whatever books. The best part tho is that they make blog books. They'll "slurp" your blog in a few short minutes and you can print the blog out into a hard or soft covered book. They are awesome. I've used them a few times now and l-o-v-e them. Your blog is so pretty and full of great info that I believe your loving following might even purchase copies. I swear I don't work for them! I simply love Blurb. So sorry about your missing photographs. Heartbreaking.

Lana said...

I love your approach to parenting and books etc. We feel very much the same here... By accident, I introduced the sleepytime tractor and it has worked wonders for us. The blinky lights on the tractor and the Farmer in the Dell tune have worked like magic for our bedtimes. I don't think that will be in a parenting book anytime soon.

Sue said...

Love the candle idea. So glad you are back online.

a very fine house said...

I have just happened upon your blog, what a beautiful photo of your daughter and the cat, oh and I love the quilt too!

Anonymous said...

Lovely blog! Your daughter is beautiful!
May want to consider a very strict schedule with her sleeping - nap every day at a certain time, and then a routine bedtime plan. It has ALWAYS worked with the kids in our family - and we NEVER deviate from the schedule for the good of the kids and the sanity of the parents! Just a thought on what works here!
Happy Day!

babalisme said...

I'm a new mother as well and I'm in no way having the right to preach you about parenting, but I also think that they publish so many parenting books to torture us. Really. My mom doesn't live in an era of information so she practically watched me grow naturally. Of course there are some of her methods I am now much against at, but here I am, alive and well. Good luck getting Adelaide sleepy ^_^

Anyway, THAT is one FAT CAT!

Anonymous said...

i lost year's 3-4 of my son's pictures as well....... devastating to say the least. i am sorry for you but i was told while apple can't recover a lot you can send it to a company in florida and they have a great record but i can't find the name, my point is maybe send it in to try to recover the pics. good luck!

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