the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Fending off the body snatchers

The aliens have been waking Leta up at ungodly hours. We did what anyone would do to protect our child from their corrupt influence and have once again sealed off her room from their death rays. This way she will never see the sun again.

our strategy to curtail the aliens

As Jon and I hung the tin foil in her windows on Friday night we felt a tad mischievous. She was going to wake up at 6 AM the next morning like she has been doing for the last month, but the appearance of the room would indicate that it was still the middle of the night. A small part of me felt like we were intentionally deceiving her. That small part kept asking whether or not our personal comfort was worth the lie. The much bigger, world weary part of me had the answer and it went something like this: SHUT UP ALREADY.

Like clockwork she woke up at 6 AM on Saturday morning. Jon and I braced for the screeching, but after thirty seconds of loud rustling she fell back asleep. She didn’t wake back up until 8:15. HAH! When I got up to go and get her I did a stylish moonwalk out our bedroom door and pumped my arms in the air like the pistons of an engine, a victory dance to signify our victory over the tyranny of a two-year-old who regularly sneaks into the bathroom to scratch her underarms with my toothbrush.

  • Elenalyn

    2006/03/20 at 7:33 am

    Oh, the things we do to for a little extra sleep. I’ve been known to tickle Nathan awake to prevent a nap, just so he’d sleep longer that night…

  • Elenalyn

    2006/03/20 at 7:34 am

    Oh, the things we do for a little extra sleep. I’ve been known to tickle Nathan awake to prevent a nap, just so he’d sleep longer that night…

  • Vickee

    2006/03/20 at 7:32 am

    This trick is usually discovered after birth of 2nd child, when parents are too tired to worry about ruining First Born’s Spirit by putting amy limitations on said child’s physical world. In reality, Sleep solves so many spirit-crushing problems. We graduated from the foil to light-blocking pleated shades.

    By the way, after a few days of the dark room, Miss Smarty-Pants is going to figure out that dark room doesn’t mean it’s still night. We had a few nights of little ones stumbling around in the wee hours, but eventually everyone started sleeping through the night. For awhile. Then the night terrors started. Then we had to limit reading to non-scary bedtime books due to nightmares. I spose that 6-year molars teething pain is next. It’s always somethin’!

  • Be Still

    2006/03/20 at 7:23 am

    We could never do this. In the Midwest, foil on the windows makes people suspect you are running a Meth lab.

  • Jon Z.

    2006/03/20 at 7:11 am

    PS: 6 a.m. is considered “late sleep” around the Zahlaway household. 8:15 sounds like noon to me.

  • patchuga

    2006/03/20 at 7:10 am

    We do the same thing with our kids. Because they are sun-powered. Not only does the baby have tinfoil on all the windows in his room, he has a humidifier for white noise and a blanket to divide the room in two–so the door is not visible from the crib. During naps, we run a fan to add to the white noise. The oldest didn’t even get tinfoil, he got cardboard duct-taped to the windows. IT WORKS.

  • christy

    2006/03/20 at 7:11 am

    she’s like a bird! try putting a towel over her head next time you want her to take a nap, and I bet she’ll nod right off.

    the bad news is you’ll spend a fortune on suet.

  • NicoleR

    2006/03/20 at 7:14 am

    Child rearing isn’t in my near future but I feel confident that with your non-conventional approach (i’ve been taking notes)raising kiddos is going to be easy, or at least fun as hell.

  • Self-Proclaimed Supermom

    2006/03/20 at 7:04 am

    That is the best idea I have ever heard! I need to try that on my kids. You are a smart, smart mommy.

  • Elizabeth

    2006/03/20 at 7:06 am

    When I was little, my parents made me a clock and told me that I couldn’t come out of my room until the big hand was on the 12 and the little hand was on the 6.

    Why did this work?

    Because the clock was paper.

    The big hand was never going to get to the 12.

    The little hand was never going to get to the 6.

    I’m not sure how long this worked, but it definitely did work for a while.

  • Julie Odland

    2006/03/20 at 6:49 am

    Scratching her underarms with your toothbrush, huh? Mine does the opposite–he unscrews the lid of my deodorant and sticks it in his mouth. MMmmmm lavendar.

    Anyway, enjoy the sleeping!

  • Jon Z.

    2006/03/20 at 6:52 am

    Dear god, this works?? Hark, where’s my tin foil and tape???

  • strawberrygoldie

    2006/03/20 at 6:55 am

    When my ex hubby was a kid, he thought that foil on windows meant that the people inside the house were doing the nasteeeee.

    Why did he think that you ask? Not even he knows.

    This is a man who wakeboards naked by the local country club.

    I have a son with this man.

    Oh, what the future holds for me as a mom…

  • Redpepr

    2006/03/20 at 6:49 am

    You are devious and inspiring. i want to be like you when i grow up!


  • Snickrsnack Katie

    2006/03/20 at 6:48 am

    At first, I must admit I thought this was a tad strange, to put foil in the windows. But then I realized it was no more deceiving than me adding water to the apple juice or buying veggie burgers for our 4 year old and telling him they are regular hamburgers. Sometimes, we have to lie to our kids for their own good. And if it gives us a good chuckle in the meantime, what is the harm in that? I so need to give this hint to my sister, whose 15 month old daughter denies sleep until the point where she goes crashing headfirst into a wall from exhaustion. You, Heather, are a genius.

  • The Mighty Jimbo

    2006/03/20 at 6:47 am

    what do you recommend for a dog that has the same schedule?

    i’m not what he’s been doing with MY toothbrush, but judging from his breath, he isn’t using it on his teeth.

  • Kgoofyjmk

    2006/03/20 at 6:42 am


  • Maxigumee

    2006/03/20 at 6:47 am

    Tin foil has so many uses! I never knew it could block out sunlight, though! I could have saved a lot of money on eye masks and thick curtains if I had known that.

  • Goingape

    2006/03/20 at 6:41 am

    Wow, I need to do that for my cats. Not that Leta is like a pet… But my two cats start watching the birds the moment the sun comes up, and the best viewing window is in our bedroom.

  • Samantha

    2006/03/20 at 6:40 am

    Forget the kids rooms. I’m thinking of doing it in my room. Was up at 7 Saturday and Sunday bloody sun. Huzzah, for the 8:15 sleep in. Don’t think I’m not jealous cause I am!

  • Thérèse

    2006/03/20 at 6:41 am

    Hee. I wonder what new ways she’ll find of torturing you once she wises up to this new situation. I mean, if you think about it… she’ll have more energy now.

  • wordnerd

    2006/03/20 at 6:40 am

    Ahh…Heather. Seriously, despite being the rockstar of Internet land, you still hear the same small albeit GODAWFULANNOYING internal voices that we all do….:*)

    Have a good day. This post made me giggle…:*)

  • Maniacal

    2006/03/20 at 6:37 am

    Funny, just yesterday I mentioned to my husband your idea of Tin Foil in the windows. He kinda looked at me like I was crazy. Those pescy Aliens are ALLLLL the way over here in NJ too!! BAY-STARDS!!

    That’s IT, I’m doin it…Husband approval or not!!!

  • Lady Bug

    2006/03/20 at 6:36 am

    Note to self: Stop by the store for tin foil on the way home from work.

  • Karen Rani

    2006/03/20 at 6:37 am

    What a brilliant idea! THANK YOU. From the back of my eyelids!

  • birdgal

    2006/03/20 at 6:31 am

    This has given me an idea for the impending ‘spring forward’ that is daylight savings time…I just know my munchkin will be waking up an ungodly hour earlier when it happens!!

  • rivetergirl

    2006/03/20 at 6:34 am

    I was going to suggest wrapping her crib in tin foil, but I guess covering the windows will work, too.

  • Alison Kerr

    2006/03/20 at 6:33 am

    I have to laugh at the choice of foil as a light-blocking agent. It makes me think of tin-foil hats!

  • katielauren

    2006/03/20 at 6:45 pm

    Does anyone else waste away their days here reading the home pages of the people that comment? Or am I just so pathetically obsessed with Dooce I have to stalk her readers as well?

  • lisadijon

    2006/03/20 at 5:47 pm

    a neighbor with a 2 1/2 year old son told me they set up a light with a timer in his bedroom. they set the timer for 7am, and tell him he has to stay in bed until it’s wake-up time, and that he will know it’s wake-up time when the light comes on. and it works for them! thought it was a clever idea.

  • Shutterbug

    2006/03/20 at 6:21 pm

    Sometimes a mom has to do what a mom has to do. I convinced my daughter that we couldn’t get out of bed until seaseme street was over (8:30 am back then). That way, I could sleep while she watched. God bless the electronic babysitter.

  • Vickie

    2006/03/20 at 6:28 pm

    Elvis used tin foil on his windows too.

  • Heather

    2006/03/20 at 5:31 pm

    Pure Genius!

    The (perhaps mentally disordered) lady who used to stand around my old university campus wearing a metal colander on her head (lined with tinfoil) who ranted about “people stealing her brain waves and replacing them with “evil” radio waves” and handing out brochures proving it would surely approve.

    So, you can add the “anti brainwave stealing” properties to your list of benefits tinfoil brings, right below alien death ray protection.

  • Danielle

    2006/03/20 at 4:57 pm

    And here I thought tinfoil was only good for making hats and blocking out the alien voices. *smacks forehead* Little did I know it was also good for the body snatchers.

    wooo-hooo! Victory Dance, indeed. 😉

  • jn

    2006/03/20 at 5:18 pm

    Way to go, good thinking! My parents used whiskey..made them look…um…less crazy. [No, no, the key word is “look”, don’t focus on the “crazy” part] I don’t know if you saw this, but if the foil *perhaps* was to block out transmissions…then you may want to read this:
    (it’s from MIT, it’s gotta be legit, right?). (love your blog, btw)

  • carmen

    2006/03/20 at 4:14 pm

    When my sister was pretty little she was having reocurring nightmares that were beginning to make her afraid to sleep at all. One night, however, she woke up and told us that she needed to put tin foil on her bed to fend off the monsters. My mom wrapped a strip of tin foil around her bed post, and after that my sister never had bad dreams. It’s pretty strange, and I suppose the tin foil use isn’t quite the same as Leta’s, but it got the job done none the less.

  • Stacey

    2006/03/20 at 4:50 pm

    Aluminum foil huh? Ever since the sun has been rising earlier and earlier my daughter has been in the habit of rising with it.

    Needless to say, Mommy doesn’t do 5 am.

    I’m so trying this.

  • Snickrsnack Katie

    2006/03/20 at 4:06 pm

    Oh my God the picture-of-the-day so does show how much Leta resembles Jon. But seriously, Heather, there are some photos I have seen where she favors you. Especially her profile. But I do have an idea of what it is like to have a child that really resembles Daddy. It is enraging. My poor sister has a beautiful 15 month old who, when I saw her for the first time in the delivery room, I started crying because she looked so much like my brother in law. Not because he is ugly or anything, I just knew that my sister was always destined to hear “God, she doesn’t look anything like you!” Once in a while, the baby does look like our side of the family. But usually when she is screaming or wagging her finger and saying “NO!” Is this an evil trick from God?

  • Strizz

    2006/03/20 at 3:53 pm

    Whomever coined the phrase “You have plenty on time to sleep when you’re dead” had no children. And tin foiled windows.

  • Katherine

    2006/03/20 at 3:15 pm

    Mommy! Wake Up! IT’S MORNING TIME!!!!

  • Minxy

    2006/03/20 at 2:32 pm

    Thanks for the idea for when I eventually have little ones. That’s the best story I’ve heard in a long time.

  • JustLinda

    2006/03/20 at 3:07 pm

    It’s a great tactic.

    When she’s a lazy, no-good college student home on a break, partying all night and sleeping all day, just remember to check the windows to make sure she didn’t use the tin foil trick as a method of foiling your plans (pun, get it?) to wake her up at a decent hour.

    You can start practicing now “Young lady, what do you think you’re doing sleeping until past NOON? Get UP and do something productive with your day. Your father was up at 6 and he’s already built a new addition onto the house. And me, well, I’ve already heaped a week’s worth of motherly guilt on your 20 year old shoulders. Thank me already, will you?”

  • Angella

    2006/03/20 at 2:02 pm

    We used to put tin foil on our 2 boys’ windows. Then I was worried the neighbours would think we were running a grow op 🙂
    So, I now have taped up thick black construction paper.
    Not a single pinoint of light is allowed to come through their windows.
    You do what you gotta do!

  • Kate

    2006/03/20 at 12:54 pm

    Must look fantastic from the outside. Exterior shot?

  • hopefulloser

    2006/03/20 at 1:09 pm

    Holy cow,
    I always wondered about those people who put tin foil on their windows. Now I can imagine the other side. They aren’t all meth labs and mad bombers.

  • Kristine

    2006/03/20 at 1:25 pm

    There HAS to be a “You Might be A Redneck” joke floating around here SOMEWHERES.

    We had tin foil over our WHOLE house…of course, we lived in a mobile home.

  • Miranda Puckett

    2006/03/20 at 1:39 pm

    Of course she can do the moonwalk first thing in the morning… You saw the mad dance moves she was banging at SXSW.


    After I ate raw bacon once (it had been frozen) at my grandmother’s house, my parents convinced me that I had trichinosis. Yes, they are evil. But I never ate raw bacon again!

  • Vix

    2006/03/20 at 12:19 pm

    Oh my God. Why the hell didn’t I think of that six months ago?

    V xx

  • Donny

    2006/03/20 at 12:20 pm

    When my son was a baby, my ex wife and I (together at the time) just got used to being on different schedules. I had night duty. She had day duty. I’d rent movies to watch as I rocked him to sleep at night. Thankfully, when he started sleeping through the night he slept in until 8am at the earliest.

  • monkey

    2006/03/20 at 12:35 pm

    Wow! Never thought about tinfoil. My oldest would wake up quietly and watch tv or play (at the time, we shared a bedroom- a two story bedroom). I could never give my youngest that kind of freedom yet. The house would be destroyed within minutes. And he’s the lighter sleeper of the two. I just try to keep the blinds shut, but that rarely works if it’s really bright out. Ah the tricks of parenthood.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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