Friday, September 16, 2016

Pages and Screens

Life with a newborn takes on a somewhat surreal quality. You lose track of what day of the week it is. Odd meals (granola with a side of tortilla chips and salsa, anyone?) get eaten at odder hours. For a few weeks, days and nights seemed to blend together as I camped out on the couch and nursed my baby round the clock. V and Lila kept up with their work and school routine and I whiled away the hours with some books and TV.

I was looking for some unadulterated entertainment and found it in the Back to the Future trilogy on Netflix- you have Michael J. Fox, the 80s, a very cool DeLorean and The Power of Love. The second movie of the trilogy is fun because the time travel is from the 80s into 2015; we have already lived the future, people. If you're looking for pure fun, this is the one to watch.

More time-pass TV came in the form of Psych, the comic detective show- I like to watch an episode here and there- and Doc Martin, the British medical comedy drama set in a picturesque seaside village populated by all sorts of characters. I managed to watch all 7 seasons of Doc Martin, although I have seen many of them already when the series aired on PBS. It made for great background TV, the characters keeping me company as I went about my day.

I did watch one serious movie on Netflix, Spotlight (2015), the story of the Boston Globe's tenacious investigation of the scandal of priests abusing children. It won Best Picture at this year's Oscars- not the usual blockbuster Hollywood movie, it is a solid docu-drama made in a rather understated way.

The PBS streaming app made me a happy girl by featuring Series 6 of the Great British Baking Show. For this series, we suspended our rule of no TV during meals, and happily watched this show as a family while eating dinner- with Lila rooting for Nadiya all the way and offering her commentary on the various bakes.

Over on the print side, many of the books I've been reading reflect my deepest desire at this time- to get my baby to sleep so I can get some sleep! So I've blearily made my way through Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth and The Happiest Baby on the Block: The New Way to Calm Crying and Help Your Newborn Baby Sleep Longer by Harvey Karp. Sure, these books provide some helpful tips here and there. But mostly you read about all the grand things babies are supposed to do- like sleep longer after 6 weeks- and wonder why your offspring never got the memo.

For lighter reading, I turned to kid lit, and thoroughly enjoyed The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart. If you enjoyed Harry Potter and Roald Dahl, you have to look for this book (series, actually). It has the tried-and-true kid lit tropes of orphan children alone in the world banding together and fighting evil, but it works.

I had promised myself that given the stress of the newborn weeks, I wouldn't read anything very serious or depressing. Well, that plan was discarded quickly when I came upon a special issue of the New York Times Magazine titled Fractured Lands. The whole magazine issue is one long article, a brilliantly written mini-book. Scott Anderson describes the Middle East crisis from its origins all the way to the current exodus and refugee situation, through the lives of 6 individuals. It took me three solid weeks to read this issue, but I come away much better informed about the headlines that I glance at but don't really begin to understand. The whole issue is here online but I preferred reading it in hard copy.

In the kid section, Lila has been enjoying many library books lately and these two are recent favorites that we have read dozens of times before reluctantly returning them. I loved the gentle humor in Even Monsters Need Haircuts by Matthew McElligott. A barber's son takes over his dad's salon during the night to give "shamp-eews" and haircuts to monsters. What I loved best about The Runaway Wok: A Chinese New Year Tale by Ying Chang Compestine were the adorable and cheerful illustrations by Sebastia Serra.

Speaking of kid lit, I was very saddened to read that Anna Dewdney of the much-loved Llama Llama books has died all too young of brain cancer, two weeks ago. We own a couple of her books and they are so much fun to read aloud.

What have you been reading and watching these days?

32 comments:

  1. Nice to read a post from you after a long time! Hope you are getting enough sleep? Does Niam sleep well? My son who is now 7 months old is a terrible sleeper. Had his days and nights mixed up for 2 months, has never slept through the night even once. I'm always sleep deprived LOL. How nice that you're doing things you like. It is so so important.

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    1. I'm definitely not getting enough sleep! :) Niam sleeps for one 3-4 hour stretch from 7 PM to 11 PM and that's about the only "good sleep" that I get (yes, I go to bed at 7 PM); the rest of the night is feeds every 2-3 hours with bits of restless sleep in between. I don't mind waking up to feed him 2 or 3 times at night AT ALL but my fervent wish is he sleeps peacefully in between those feeds so I can catch some sleep too.

      Lila was a terrible sleeper for years (!) and in hindsight I would have been much more pro-active in shaping her into a good sleeper at an early age. I am trying to pay more attention to sleep habits with this new baby. Sleep is too important for both parents and baby!

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    2. I know how hard it is to manage without sleep!! I would love to hear some tips on how I can pro actively help my son sleep better. When you find time, of course. In the meantime, enjoy the baby. I wish I lived closer to you so that I could have helped you. The first few weeks are hard as hell.

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    3. E-mail me, please, and I will happily pass on a list of resources that I have come across.

      You are so kind to offer to help me :) I so appreciate the thought!

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  2. I've just finished "Hidden Legacy" by G J Minette and I thoroughly recommend it, Nupur! It's not your classic thriller but it kept me on the edge of my seat all the same.

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    1. Sounds like a great book- Shammi! I don't see it in our library system...but will look for it.

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    2. I kinda expected that... the author is British! But good luck :)

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  3. So great to see your post Nupur. Best wishes for Niam turning out to be a good sleeper and you getting some much needed shut eye. Our 3 year old son first slept through the night when he was around 2 years old and I think the following day was one of the best I had in those 2 years. He sleeps Ok-ish now (though takes a long time to fall asleep and needs us to sleep with him) at night, and having even few hours of undisturbed sleep is so crucial for sane functioning of brain! We never did any sort of "sleep training" for our son, mostly because we were too exhausted to try out anything! We do have certain rules, now though that makes bed time easier...outside vigorous play time in the evening that will tire him out, warm milk post dinner and quiet book time pre-bed.

    Currently reading 5 love languages on kindle. It came highly rated on goodreads and seems to be good so far.

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    1. Neha- a solid consistent before-bed routine is very helpful indeed! There's nothing like a full night's sleep. Part of my problem is that I am a light sleeper and not a good sleeper even at the best of times, young kids just aggravate that situation :)

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    2. By the way, your phrase "because we were too exhausted to try out anything" pretty much sums up how we fell into a dysfunctional sleep pattern with Lila. It was just a crazy time with no mental energy to try and fix the problem! Which is why I am being extra vigilant this time.

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  4. Nice to hear from you Nupur! The rule I told myself for the second child is to just take it easy. Not to worry about keeping the home clean or making sure the older one sticks to routines etc. That made it easier on everyone. My two year old is still a poor sleeper and wakes up atleast once to feed :(
    Enjoy the binge watching. I binge watched Turdors and Gilmore girls (third time!) during nursing. If you are looking for something light to read then I would recommend Liane Moriarty's book. Makes for a happy and casual read.

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    1. Sangeetha- since baby's birth, many family routines have indeed fallen by the wayside, especially around dinner time- but we'll slowly put them back in the months ahead. These days it is about keeping everyone fed and alive :)

      I should watch Gilmore Girls again. It is good background TV. Will look for Liane Moriart's books- thanks!

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  5. Surreal perfectly describes it! I used to watch mindless tv shows when my son was a newborn too. A lot of HGTV--I think my house was such a perennial mess that it made me feel calm to see people sorting and cleaning their environments :) Never gone back to watching them post nursing.
    I love the Mysterious Benedict society--amongst my fave kids books ever!

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    1. Niranjana- LOL at the HGTV binge watching. I'll have to look for the sequels of the Benedict books.

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  6. Oh no! I just discovered The Llama books a few months ago with my kiddos- so sad!

    Hopefully you are getting some rest! And I hear you regarding kids not getting 'the memo'. I didn't know babies actually slept till my second was born. Because my first NEVER slept. Like he'd watch my husband as he slept and I used to be sure he was thinking 'Man, I wish I could sleep like that'.. I used to even wonder about the phrase 'sleep like a baby' - because I never saw any evidence of that..lol

    By the way, have you seen North and South on Netflix- I am currently obsessed with it. Also Chef's Table- especially the episode with Massimo Bottura.

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    1. Lavanya- I know! The expression "Sleep like a baby" makes me shake my fists. By the law of averages, my second baby should be a terrific sleeper. A girl can hope!

      I will watch North and South- thanks for the reco. I did watch the Gaggan Anand episode of Chef's table and it was fascinating, that type of fancy food is totally not me but was fun to watch.

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    2. I second north and south. The book is also good. Plus, Richard Armitage is swoonworthy :)

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  7. Your post brought back memories of Soham's birth and the long sleepless nights, with the husband traveling and I was all alone.
    I love watching HGTV ( Flip or Flop, Fixer Upper-makes me want to go back to Texas, good ol' Texas) and looking at those beautiful homes and the spotless interiors with everything in harmony makes me feel like I want a home like that.. then I realize, I am not that neat and organized, my home usually looks like a tornado just hit it. sigh!
    Another 80's movie I like is 'Ferris Bueller's day off' and 'Dirty Dancing', love the songs, have you seen them?

    Currently reading 'Parshuram' by Dr. Vineet Chopra
    Watching: 2 Marathi serials (on apalimarathi) Ratris Khel Chale and Bun Maska
    Saw a Marathi movie as well, 'Double Seat'. Changla vatla. Worth watching.

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    1. Manasi- Yes, I've seen Ferris Bueller and it was great fun, and also seen Dirty Dancing and being a lover of dance, that one was great as well, especially that sequence at the end. Every time I lay down Niam on a quilt to play, I remember that movie and say "No one puts baby in a corner" :D

      I keep meaning to check out apalimarathi but still have not done it!!

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  8. Always love reading your posts Nupur. I really wonder who writes these sleep training books.

    My son used to wake up for milk in the night(around 3/4am) until he was about 2.5 I think. After that he has been sleeping through the night for solid 10 hrs. Actually he is very pafticular about sleep. He would be fine if he skipped dinner but he has to go to bed by max 9pm.

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    1. How cool that your son has a good internal body clock and wants to go to bed on time! Sleep can seriously make a huge difference in a child's day to day behavior, learning and being to enjoy life.

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  9. Hi Nupur,

    It felt so good to read your post as I was thinking about you and the little kiddo just yesterday. I hope you get some sleep and well-deserved rest. :-) Thanks for book and show recos. I am going to check out The Mysterious Benedict Society series as I love HP and Roald Dahl. take care and hugs,

    Siri

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    1. Thanks dear Siri :) Baby is sleeping a little better this week- fingers tightly crossed and knocking loudly on wood! You will love the Benedict series- fun but not too serious when life is busy.

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  10. Your post brought back memories. My daughter was a terrible sleeper. So I was determined to help my son learn better sleep habits. I mostly followed the Weissbluth book. It did help and he has been a great sleeper since then. I think I was also more relaxed mentally with him. I went back to work when he was 12 weeks old and the only thing that helped us both sleep was cosleeping. He had access to my boob all night long and I didn't care as long as it meant I could sleep. With my daughter I think I was worried about cosleeping and in general not as relaxed. I started sleep training him when he was about 9-10 months old and stuck with it. So, do what makes more sense for your situation even if it means not following some rules.
    When he was about a year and a half, we moved his crib to her room and my daughter's sleep issues all went away. I think having another person in the room with her made her feel more secure. She has also been a great sleeper since then. They are 3 years and 8 months apart and now share a bunk bed. She's 7 now and he's 3.

    I've been watching Chef's Table on Netflix. Highly recommend it.

    -Anu

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    1. Anu- I sincerely wish the Weissbluth book had a better editor! But I did get two tips from it for young babies- to give babies only 1-2 hours of waking time between naps so they don't get overtired and to start early bedtime and both those do seem to help a lot.

      Cosleeping never worked for me, I simply can't seem to sleep well with a baby/child by my side. Lila would tug at my hair all the time, and my husband's a big guy plus a deep sleeper and I always worry about him rolling on the kid! But I have the baby right next to me in a bassinet and that's working well. Like you said, you have to try different things and see what works for you!

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  11. Nupur,

    Have you stumbled on waitbutwhy.com ?
    I have thoroughly enjoyed it and often go back to it on a slow day at work. My favorite post is the one on procrastination because it struck such a deep personal cord, but start with anything that picks your fancy. He writes about everything from Elon Musk, Artificial Intelligence to spirituality and Facebook. He is insightful, engaging and one of the best things I've read recently.

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    1. Thanks for pointing out that site, Sowmya, I had not come across it and it looks like something I would enjoy reading!

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  12. Hi Nupur,
    Happy to see your post after the break. Have a nice time with the baby.
    Read the book 'A Casual Vacancy' by J.K Rowling. It was recommended as 'one of the 20 books which will change your perspective of life'. It is a tragic story covering a broad spectrum of life issues: adolescence, parent-child relationship, single parents, drug problems, in-laws, power struggle and so on.

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    1. Shreem- I tried reading Casual Vacancy when it first came out and gave up after 20-30 pages- it just did not click with me- but maybe it is time to try it again.

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    2. You are right..It is a bit dry only. I wrote down the character names on a piece of paper and their relationships with each other till I got a hang of the story.

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  13. Your post brought back memories of feeding my first one and re-reading the entire Agatha Christie canon. My mother and MIL had banned all TV watching during feeding and I was young enough to listen plus the TV was always in the living room and I wasn't comfortable then to feed in public.

    For the second, I have zero memory of what I did during feeding sessions.

    My first, son, didn't sleep through the night till he was 2. I think it had to do with diffused responsibility at bed time with living in a joint family and too much excitement and too many people responding to a crying baby awake in the middle of the night. It was a horrible year when I was back at work and waking up 3 times a night!

    With the second I was on my own, and determined to get her to sleep well. I basically did a version, nothing exciting happens after the last milk feed - no singing, no stories, no talking, no nothing. She slept through the night at 13 months and in the same bed as her older brother.

    When she woke, she would cuddle with him and if that didn't work then toddle into our room and snuggle with us - but no long sessions with a crying baby.

    My MIL jokes that even now I can get a baby to sleep by basically boring them firmly.
    Sleep when they sleep and know that one day they will be up later than you and you will be worrying about them not sleeping enough for other reasons ;-). Mine are now 18 and 14!

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  14. Nupur,

    First of all Congratulations on the birth of Niam! I know you are a fan of the great British baking show. Are you aware that PBS is currently airing the extension episodes where Paul and Mary demonstrate step by step how to cook the challenges they had on this season. I caught two episodes so far and it is amazing watching them create absolute perfections.
    Hope you catch the show and some sleep. Like you, I read novels while nursing. My criteria included that the paperback be light enough to hold in one hand.

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