October 29, 2007

Long Weekend

We had a busy weekend here at the Poulas house. We had a visit from Grandma Liz, a trip to the Dia De Los Muertos festival, and lots and lots of crying. Most of our weekends, as I have said before, run pretty smoothly. My wife takes some of the load off while we do something fun on Saturday, and then we clean on Sunday morning. This weekend however, was doomed from the start. Annie had those two shots at the doctor's Friday morning and Grandma wasn’t due until much later that night.

All babies are creatures of routine, but I am convinced that Annie is especially susceptible to the consequences of stretching out some of her well timed habits. The easiest one to make a mess of is her nap schedule. She can stay awake for longer than an hour and a half, but you are asking for trouble when it is time to put her down. On Friday, with a long doctor’s appointment and then lunch, she went about five hours with just a few quick catnaps in the car.

I knew at the beginning of the day that a schedule like that would be trouble. But when you are raising a child you often cut corners in order to have some semblance of a life of your own. A man should be able to eat a sandwich when he wants to or watch PTI in the afternoon. Unless of course what that man really wants is a baby that sleeps like a baby should. What happens to Annie when her routine is thrown upside down is what amounts to the full body equivalent of lockjaw. As soon as you assume the nap position (baby in crook of arm, pacifier held in mouth with other hand, semi recline) she starts to cry and stretch herself out in a perfectly straight line. She continues to push and cry until I give up and put her in the sling, or she gives up and grudgingly falls asleep. This is my fault. I almost always put her in the sling to nap; a habit that started out of convenience has now become a necessity. Now, my wife and are stuck looking for a naptime routine that works as well as her bedtime routine.

As Friday progressed, Annie’s mood soured. By mid afternoon she was near inconsolable and when she finally fell asleep (in her sling) she slept for almost three hours. When she woke up at 6 p.m. there were still five hours before Grandma’s flight landed. This led to yet another cut corner. A corner that we should have never dreamed of cutting. We left out her bedtime routine, because we thought that if she went to the airport with us at 11:30 she would freak out from being woken up. This was all well and good until it was time to actually put her to sleep at midnight. She went down easy enough, but proceeded to wake up at 1:30, 3:30, 5:30 and 7 a.m. Brutal.

Saturday morning was calm enough and this dad got to partake in one of his favorite pastimes…morning coffee with Grandma Liz. I’ve never told her this, but I love sitting with her in the morning before everyone else is awake. When you are married to my wife that usually amounts to about an hour, so there is plenty of relaxing time to chat about everything from childrearing to careers. When everyone else awoke it was time to get the day started. We got a needed boost in the morning from by a two hour nap by Annie, and at noon we were off to The Day of The Dead.

As far as festivals go, this was a pretty small one, and despite a nice effort by those involved, it was a bit of a sad sight. The children who participated all seemed to have a great time, but if I were involved in putting the event together, I would have been disappointed in the turnout. The pathetic amount of activity in downtown Shreveport only added to the desolate feel of the event. When we were walking up Texas street to the festival, it looked as if we were out at 4 a.m. on a Tuesday. Someday I will have to investigate what happened in Shreveport through the years to make it seem so lost.
Saturday afternoon was also calm and we went home to prepare for a rare date. My wife and I are not often alone, so we jumped at the chance to have Grandma baby-sit. We had a great meal (other than the inedible entrée my wife ordered which was professionally taken off the bill) at Bella Fresca that was only thrown off by the fact that we were about 30 years younger than everyone else in the room. These indicators that we have officially entered parenthood keep popping up for us. After two hours, two drinks, and too much food in our bellies we came home in jovial spirits, which were promptly dashed.

Annie was mid-wail when we opened the door and getting progressively louder. I have never seen her react that way at bedtime before. It took some major coaxing on my part to get her to sleep. I was very sorry that Grandma had to see her that way. I’m sure that this weekend was very difficult for her as well. Once Annie was asleep, she did her best to top her performance from the night before. She eventually accomplished her goal by teaming up with our dog Zoe and making sure that one of them cried/barked every half an hour or so. I’m not exaggerating. I literally found myself standing over Annie’s crib with tears in my eyes, praying that she would fall asleep. It was the hardest night since the first few, way back in early July.

When Grandma left early Sunday morning things returned to normal and we made sure that Annie took plenty of naps throughout the day. Her milestone of the weekend was a marathon session in her bouncer, something that she hadn’t enjoyed before. She is growing up so fast. Sunday night’s sleep was about a five on a scale of one to ten, but fives have been hard to come by lately, so I was content

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry the festival turnout wasn't good but then again, it's not all that surprising. Downtown just doesn't have a lot of appeal for most folks for a variety of reasons: 1. It's perceived as "unsafe" 2. It's no longer a family retail business district 3.Convenient Parking perceptions as families don't want to schlep their herd two or three blocks to an event unless it's at Festival Plaza.

Plus our area has a lot of non-profits with good intentions but they rely on scraps of newscoverage to promote their events and spend very little in the way of building images for themselves. In short, they keep doing things the same way and expect a different result each time. But hey, as long as they get something posted to their social resumes they're ok.

Shreveport's downtown is uninviting and tattered with all the empty retail spaces and hulking buildings that haven't been used for years. Couple that with loitering homeless and all the substance abusers attending counseling near the bus center and you'll get a good image of the first impressions people get when they drive through downtown. There's no historic preservation, no central business district of distinction and fenced up vacant lots or plaques where historic buildings once stood. Over years this leaves the impression that downtown is decaying. Even when they put neon on the Texas St. bridge over a decade ago, they touted laser beams and spotlights "shining the way" to a better downtown. Well...the lasers broke, the spotlights burned out and most of the neon is off on the bridge because none of the folks who started all that wanted to maintain and keep things going.

I've lived here back in the 1970's to mid 80's and left. I came back in the early 90's and I live in Bossier. I'm looking to leave again because despite the outside influences of casinos and filmmaking...this place still has the same cliques that make it an awkward place to do business. Shreveport is very much about who you know and not what you can bring to the table. Unless of course you have something for "Free" and they'll be your best buddy until you say "enough".

And race relations here suck on both sides of the color barrier. There is as much racism among blacks as there is whites and it's never going to go away here. Big reason downtown and the S'port side of the riverfront keeps folks away is that there is a perception that it's not safe. The Shreve Square was a fun place to go in the 1970's with clubs and restaurants everywhere and they had a good police presence. But now it's a place with hooligans raping women in clubs, the occasional downtown shooting and black on black crime. And where's all that downtown improvement that the DDA was supposed to bring? Last DDA director was a mayoral favorite who did nothing but get a few historic signs put up. He was "all hat but no cattle". And the new guy will be here for 2 or 3 years and move on after he gets a dose of "Shreveportitis". That's the image we have of our downtown and no one has done a thing about it except grandstand for the news cameras. Very little has been done.

Sorry if this comes off as being too negative, but hey I've tried. My wife is from here and she's ready for a change too. We came back to give the ol' homeplace a second chance and 15 years is a good run. While there has been some improvement, this area still lags far behind from what it should be. The oil/gas bust in the mid 1980's depleted the potential as most of the best and brightest left the area and continue to do so as wages are kept low and college grads can do far better just 3 hours west of here.

Quite honestly, I have maybe 15 years left of good career-time and I don't want to waste it here anymore.

October 30, 2007 at 10:32 AM  
Blogger GiGi Liz said...

Grandma Liz was thrilled to spend the quality time with Annie, no matter how sour her mood. Frankly, if someone had jabbed me several times in my plump little thigh I would have had a lousy weekend too! As for coffee in the morning, Joe and I had a nice little routine going for the year he and my daughter lived with us, it was nice to have a little of that back as well.

November 18, 2007 at 6:54 PM  

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