Sunday, February 27, 2011

Who wants to sleep alone?

Last week, my husband and I watched Paranormal Activity 2, a prequel to the first movie that documented a couple who were being harrassed by a demon (not really, it's a movie-not-a-documentary). The prequel lays the foundation for the 'why' of the original movie, the demon has come to claim a family's firstborn son, an infant. The mother catches on pretty quickly to their new houseguest, but despite her fear, junior naps and sleeps in a crib in a separate room from the parents. I mean, really? Really???? You have a demon in your house, and you're not going to at least co-sleep? After the movie ended (sorry, I won't spoil the ending for you, you'll have to rent it), I took Grace out of her bed and brought her to bed with us. Yeah, I know it's a movie, but you can never be too safe, right? Right???

When we brought our first baby home, we co-slept with her for a few weeks, setting up a basinette in our bedroom, she was moved into her crib in a separate room when she was about eight weeks old. At the time, we had never even entertained the idea of bed-sharing. We moved Maddy into her room because that's what we thought we were 'supposed' to do -- conventional wisdom dictates that babies sleep in cribs. I can still remember the panic I felt at having her sleep apart from us. I kept a monitor in her crib, close to her face, I turned the speaker as loud as possible so I could hear her breathing. When I wasn't satisfied I could hear anything, I would creep into her room and check on her. Our (my) plans for a restful night's sleep were sidelined by worry and middle-of-the-night feedings.

When our second baby was born two years later, we kept her in our bed from day one. Maddy was sleeping through the night at that point, and we were worried that having a baby crying in her crib in the middle of the night would wake Maddy up as well. Once we started bed-sharing, we never looked back. Having Hannah in bed with us was reassuring, and the middle-of-the-night feedings were much easier to deal with. Instead of getting out of my bed, walking to a separate bedroom, and picking a baby up so that I could nurse her in a rocking chair, I simply rolled over, unclipped my nursing bra, and latched her on. I would often sleep through her feedings, as long as my breast was within reach, she would simply latch on and off throughout the night as needed. I was never worried about her safety in our bed -- I kept a pillow between Hannah and my husband, he's a deep sleeper, I wanted to make sure there was a barrier keeping him away from her. When I was facing Hannah, I would curl myself around her, when I would turn away from her, she would always shimmy herself close to my back. I made sure our covers were always pushed down so that nothing covered her face. Once Hannah was mobile, we started putting her down into her crib at the start of the night, I would nurse her down in the rocking chair, then transfer her to the crib. When we went to bed, I would bring her to bed with us, as long as she was nursing through the night, she slept with us. When Hannah was old enough to sit up, we would put a basket of toys in the bed, and if she woke up early, she would play between us while we slept -- it would only buy us an extra 20-30 minutes of shut-eye, but any parent knows how valuable that can be! What about our love life, you ask? There are other rooms in the house. We managed to conceive two more babies. Clearly, it didn't take a hit.

At the time, we endured plenty of comments from concerned family members (aka my mother) who insisted we were forming poor sleeping habits. Our child would never learn to soothe herself to sleep, and she would never be comfortable sleeping by herself. In short, we were 'breaking' our child by bed-sharing with her. When Hannah was 2.5 years old, we were expecting our third child. Hannah weaned at night shortly before he was born, and we moved her into her own bed in her own room. Was it hard? Not at all! In fact, we had an easier time transtitioning Hannah from our bed to her own bed than we did transitioning Maddy from the crib to her own bed. Furthermore, Hannah was much more secure sleeping by herself -- to this day, Maddy will not sleep with the door shut (she won't even go upstairs by herself during the day!).

When Owen was born, he slept in our bed (the same place he was born!). We had a harder time transitioning him out of our bed, he was almost three years old when Grace was born. It took a little while to figure it out, but Owen was just lonely at night by himself. We managed to transition him into Hannah's bed, he bed-shared with her for a little while, then we put a second twin bed in her room, and they shared a room. Owen is just a kid who doesn't like to sleep alone. He's five now, and he shares a room with Grace -- Grace slept in our bed until she was almost 2.5 years old, moving out of our bed into her own was easy. She's always been an independent child (understatement of the century!), she wants to do what the big kids do.

So all of the kids sleep in their own beds now, they all have different sleep habits, but we never had to 'train' any of them to sleep. I'm a firm believer that kids are born with different sleep habits, there will never be a 'one size fits all' approach to getting them to sleep. All you can do is adapt to their needs, you certainly can't 'ruin' a child by sleeping with them. Even now, I still occasionally bed-share with the kids, not because they want to, but because I do. When my husband goes out of town, I usually end up bringing one of them into our bed. I'm a big fraidy-cat, and besides, who wants to sleep alone?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

flippin' awesome!

Since becoming parents over a decade ago, my husband and I have recorded very little footage of our children, and it's something that I already regret. We've purchased various devices over the years with the intent to capture memories on film, both for our sake, and our children's sake, but we never really used any of them, save for a clip here and there. I have no video footage of myself as a child, I'm envious of people lucky enough to have home movies. The closest thing I have is a grainy video from our wedding with really bad sound, as bad as it is, I still like to watch it once in a while to see and hear my Dad.

This vacation, however, all of that has changed. I purchased a flip video camera (ultraHD 8GB, $179.99) for my business for the purpose of recording product reviews and tutorials. I didn't really intend to use the camera on vacation, I'm technically-challenged (understatement of the century), and I assumed it would take a while to figure it all out. Do you want to know how quickly I managed to figure it all out? I was recording footage withing two minutes of pulling out of the store's parking lot! The flip camera is *that* easy to use. One button start & stop, what could be easier than that? The camera comes with a small user guide, but it's interface is quite intuitive, other than a quick skim-through, I didn't really bother with the user guide.

The camera is very small, not much bigger than a cellphone, so it's easy to stow in my purse, it's always charged, so I've always got it handy, 'just in case'. So far, I've recorded 72 clips (!!!). Yes, I've gone completely overboard, I've already pared some of the videos down, the camera's preloaded software is rudimentary, but it allows me to edit the videos to the best of my ability (let's face it, I'm not going to get an Oscar for anything I record anytime soon). I can trim videos (cut off footage at the beginning and the end), merge videos, add music and titles -- I really have no need to do anything more than that. The preloaded software also gives me the ability to create still pictures from video footage, I haven't had the chance to get any developed yet, but given the quality of the video footage, I expect the stills will turn out well.

Downloading footage from the flip is quite easy, an attached USB arm, combined with its preloaded software, makes the task of storing video files a breeze. I simply plug the device into my laptop, and videos are saved to a folder (named with the month and year) and removed from the camera, while recharing the camera's battery at the same time. I don't have to fuss with cables or a charger, and I don't have to worry about video files being stored in 7 million diferent folders. It's a genius device, to be sure.

The high definiton video footage recorded by the flip camera is pretty great -- incredibly crisp, with clear audio. Image stabiliazition means the resulting footage is not shaky, no matter what I'm recording (if I'm walking and recording, the footage is remarkably steady). The camera's preloaded software makes it easy to share videos on various social media websites, though I've only uploaded videos to my Facebook account manually, I do not give any application access to my Facebook profile.

As great as this camera is, there are a couple of things I would change if I could. The zoom is not very powerful, it's sort of useless (I call it the 'baby zoom' when I'm recording -- and yes, I have to narrate everything). You're better off moving closer to whatever you're recording if you can, but in some instances (on a whale-watching tour, for example), that's impossible. The camera isn't great at recording in a dark setting, the resulting footage is grainy and unfocused (not that we record a lot at night, get your mind out of the gutters!). We took the flip to a family dinner last night, the restaurant's lighting was quite dim, and the resulting footage is not very clear. The power button is easy to turn on accidentally, though if unused for a short period, the camera shuts itself off.

Overall, I'm very (very!) pleased I made this purchase. The flip camera will be a great asset to the business -- our YouTube channel will be functional shortly, I think it will be a great way to connect with people about the products we sell. As a side benefit, our kids will one day be able to view snips and clips of their childhood. If they ask about life prior to 2011, I'll just have to tell them video cameras didn't exist (it will be our secret, right?).