Sunday, August 02, 2015

I-Need-a-Fresh-Start Days

Please tell me I'm not the only one who, at some point during a day, starts to think that that particular day is nearing unsalvageable and a new day is needed.

The problem this week was that it seemed like every day was one of those days.

I don't want to be too harsh on myself as Cora bookended last week with differing episodes of sickness, was out of school four days, and it was only my fourth week back at work.  Not a "typical" week, for sure.

Still. A few too many days like this together and you start to feel a little lost in the crazy and not quite sure what you're doing wrong.

If your child starts being rude and erratic within 2 minutes of being in your car after pickup from school, it might not feel like your fault per say, but it also can set off a chain of events that leaves you pretty quickly feeling like you need a fresh start day.

When your sick-but-not-acting-sick child starts to fall apart from 4:00 on, it can be hard to remember that she probably isn't feeling well and it can be VERY hard to still treat her with patience and compassion.

And then there's your baby, but no wait, he was his usual sweet self. He seemed to be saying "Mom and Dad, you look like you have your hands full, how about I go take a 3 hour nap and get out of the mix?" or "Gee, you guys seem busy, want me to knock off for the night at 5:55?"  And then he'd reappear for his 10:00 feeding and give us some sweet smiles and help give us the fresh start :)

So...in trying to figure out what we might could do to set us up for a better week, we:

  • Made sure both big kids napped on both weekend days as I think lack of naps and sleep was the chief culprit last week
  • Used the weekend naps to better plan for the week so there can be some better balance between work, school, and quality time together
  • Will now be very proactive with some Miralax because a constipated, willful child (i.e. one who can resist for HOURS in the middle of the night trying not to poop) is NOT someone you want to live with long term
Here's hoping!


Friday, July 17, 2015

Lukie Tukie at 4 Months

That's 17 lbs, 8 oz of handsome :)
And yes we do actually call him that :)

And sorry ladies (and all parents), this baby's not for sale. He's about the most perfect baby, with the slight exception that he can and will unload some serious spit up all over you several times a day.

A day in Luke's life

He still sleeps a solid 18 hours a day if you let him. If no one else's schedule is superseding his, his days go something like this:

5:45-6:30 - Wake up in his cradle - he more "calls out" than cries

I feed him in bed and we hang out until I need to get up. He usually then lays on his bath chair in the shower while I shower. He still loves the water and happily sits there sucking his hands. He then gets his bath.

Luke then comes downstairs to be a part of the breakfast routine. We start him with some tummy time, but he's only happy to do this for a few minutes. He then moves to his bouncy chair where, currently, he stuffs whatever he can into his mouth because he's working on his first tooth. I have some chew beads that he holds and chews on or we give him a cold ring, but he can't hold on to those very well.

By the time we are sitting down to eat, Luke's been up for more than an hour and CAN'T HANG! :) I usually feed him while I eat and that helps make him happy for a little bit longer and sometimes he will take a cat nap while we eat.

8:00-8:45 - Somewhere in this window, Luke goes down for his morning nap based on how early he got up and what's happening with everyone else.

Luke then sleeps for 3-3.5 hours and sometimes we wake him up if we need to or if it's been past 3 hours. He likes to sleep on his belly. We used to always give him his paci, but it's clear he prefers to just suck his thumb. He'll scoot around for a minute or so and then settle down with usually his right thumb in his mouth. He flipped over for the first time at 3 months and now will frequently flip himself over on to his back. He's not one for back sleeping, so if this happens, we just roll him back onto his tummy.

11:30-1:15 - This is Luke's awake time. He eats, gets dressed and hangs out with his family during lunch. He gets LOTS of Jack and Cora attention in this window and this is their most amped time of day, so poor baby. He usually participates in books before rest time and eats again. Staying awake for a full two hours is a stretch for this guy, he'd ideally already be asleep two hours after he woke up from his morning nap.

1:15-1:30 - Luke is usually back asleep. His favorite place to sleep is in his crib with the door shut and a fan on for white noise.

If we are home, he'll sleep for another 3 hours, though this nap is occasionally shorter. What most normally happens is that something is going on in the afternoon and he won't get to start his afternoon nap right when he needs it. He might take a cat nap but when he can finally get into his room, he crashes.

4:00-4:30 - He's up again and ready to hang out. He likes to be held, would be happy to go on a walk in his K-tan carrier, gets some more Jack and Cora attention, and his newest past time is being put down on a blanket alone in his room with some toys. We're still not quite to the point where he plays with anything, but I do think he likes to look at things at his eye level and, if he can get it to his mouth, he will. And his room is his favorite place, because, well, it's quiet :) A few times I'll come check on him and sweet baby is back to sleep sucking his thumb.

This time of day is a problem stretch for Luke as, remember, he doesn't like to be awake for more than 2 hours at a time, so he needs some kind of cat nap in the afternoon or he gets a little frantic by bed time.

By 7:00, he wants to have been fed and changed into his PJs. He might get a bath tub bath if he's been especially "spitty" that day :)

Around 10:00, I wake him as I get ready to go to bed and feed him once more and put him to sleep in the cradle by my bed. His cradle days are very numbered at this point as he's a big guy. One night, he ate closer to 8:00, so I tried leaving him in his crib and skipped the "dream feed" but he woke just shy of 5:00, so I'm keeping the 10:00 feeding for a while longer to help his wake-up match mine.

That's Luke's perfect schedule. The guy has had a pretty nice and relaxing life up until this point. He starts daycare on Monday and I so hope he can get good sleep there as he seems to be a baby that needs a lot of sleep. He's such a happy baby and I think that's because he's superbly rested and gets the breaks he needs between his super stimulating awake time (thank you Jack and Cora.)

I know all babies are sweet but there is something about Luke that just exudes an extra sweetness - we just adore him and can't get enough of him!




Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Recording this so I can one day say "How Did We...?"

I'm following a family that recently had quintuplet girls.  It always helps to keep your situation in perspective!

But with that said, things are hopping around here!

I went back to work on July 1st.  I've jumped back in at our busiest time of year as the ReNEW network is starting the new school year with a few weeks of professional development. I'm quickly getting up to speed and have been jumping around to lots of meetings across our six campuses to lay the groundwork for a new year.  I'm in an enviable role championing reading culture across the network, overseeing our libraries and reading incentive programs.  This year, I'm taking on management of a federal literacy grant.  So I've also been learning about this new role.

I've enjoyed seeing people and I love planning for a new school year. But boy has it been hectic!  Luke will be at daycare at ReNEW (at-work daycare - how cool is this!) but not until next week.  So for the first two weeks, Jacob and I've been tag teaming.  This goes something like this.

Courtney can you meet at X site on Y day at Z time?

"I think so.  Let me check my calendar."  But also let me check Jacob's calendar.  Let me forecast a week ahead of time and imagine when exactly I might need to feed Luke or pump.  Let me factor in driving time. I then set up meeting invites for me and for Jacob.....Meeting time changes.  Try to remember to update both calendar invites and see if it still works with feeding or pumping.

And then there is Jack and Cora.  Because we knew Luke would also be home, we figured it didn't make sense to pay for full day camps.  So Jack and Cora have been at camp only half days.  Jacob and I have split either taking or picking up.  But we couldn't be consistent because I needed to be flexible to varying meeting times.  So every day has been different.

Our little thumb sucker :)
Don't hate us, but it bears mentioning that Luke sleeps about 18 hours a day.  Not joking.  So it's not Luke making this hard, but the volume of scheduling..

But we have made it through 7 of the 10 days!  Adding in naps and a few TV afternoons, we've made it work.  But for Urban South's sake and my sanity, we both need more work time. So when Luke starts daycare next week, the older two will be doing full days at camp.

Jack and Cora are at a Montessori summer camp and love it.  It's a great little spot with shady play yards, two water days per week, healthy snacks, and lots of familiar faces.  Jack, especially, is thriving and it warmed my heart to have his teacher stop me to say "Jack is such a kind little boy."




In the background of our crazy schedules, my kind little boy has been having some serious mood swings.  I've learned that this is Jack.  Every few weeks/months he gets really erratic and then kind of levels out again.  I'm really thankful that this started before I went back to work or else I'd be blaming myself for the change :(

First day of ballet
Cora, on the other hand, is pretty consistently dramatic/erratic over the course of each day :)  She has many moments of sweetness and fun but also always a few meltdowns.  Her night terrors have also picked up and gotten worse :( I'd thought her night terrors were possibly due to the fact that she was no longer napping and possibly was overtired.  But she is napping again and her terrors have gotten more frequent and intense. It's hard to watch your little girl screaming full volume, crying, looking absolutely terrified, but not really seeing that you are there. It's also hard that she hasn't yet accepted the idea that yes, every night we must go to bed. She always looks so offended at bedtime.

 Life is so full.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Eating what's fresh and available: FIGS




Jacob's standards are sometimes hard to live up to :)  That's not a criticism, that's just a fact. He likes us to eat healthy. I do too. He also likes to eat what's local, what's in season, what's economically priced, and ideally, what's already in our freezer. See what I mean?

I can get on board at times but we do have different tastes and I don't get as excited about fish, duck, and the weird looking local vegetable he found at the market.  (i.e. kolrabe - Google it.)

But when our own garden is producing something en masse, I can get excited. Right now, that would be figs and who doesn't like figs? (I'm looking at you, Cora.)


We are picking nearly a gallon of figs every other day. Jack is happy to feast out of the fig bowl and Jacob is keeping our dehydrator running. In true Cora fashion, she's happy to eat dried figs, but won't eat fresh ones.

My job is to find creative uses for our fresh and dried figs. Here is what we've done this season:

Breakfast

Whole Wheat Fig muffins with cream cheese centers - 12 muffins used 1 1/2 cups of our newly dried figs

Steel Cut Oats cooked in whole milk with four fresh figs per bowl

We gave our friends a pint and they made these fig and walnut pancakes !

Snacks - we eat them plain, fresh or dried 

Lunch - Prosciutto, Fig, Manchego Sandwich  (that hasn't actually happened but I want it to happen)

Dinner:


Pistachio and Fig Couscous (trying it this week)

pizza bianco with blue cheese, fig and balsamic

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Lots of pictures from a great month

I'm feeling a lot of emotions these days!  My time home with Jack, Cora, and Luke has been so precious to me.  March and April were a blur of adjusting to and taking care of a new baby.  May had its own challenges but lots of enjoyable moments on the ball field and enjoying the last few weeks of both Jack and Cora at school at Waldorf.
Jack's graduation ceremony
Then June!  It was an awesome month.  A week of Vacation Bible School (which I direct),


a week at the beach with my family,



and then two and a half weeks of Camp Landry, which was my answer to unstructured time at home.  We had such a good time being creative together and embracing empty days.







And now the craziness begins!  I started back to work last Wednesday and the next few weeks will be a busy time preparing for a new school year and juggling camp schedules.

My goal is to successfully balance working and mothering three.  I work part time and while that is a dream in many ways, the challenge can be compartmentalizing.  Not worrying about/missing kids while I'm at work; not thinking about work (i.e. checking emails or finishing things) while I'm at home.  I loved being able to be creative and planning fun activities during our weeks home.  I don't want to abandon that approach now that I'm working.  And it's not just my overachieving streak, afternoons generally go better when there is a plan. And I find that I get a lot of joy out of being creative and trying new things with Jack and Cora.

I don't want to be sidetracked, stressed, or distracted by the laundry, the mess, the misbehaviors, and I want to try to keep my focus on what matters.  Which would be Jacob and these three.



This was at Fontainebleau State Park yesterday on the Fourth, a day at the end of which Jacob said, "I know we did a lot of things today, but I'm still trying to decide if you'd call it fun or not."  Haha!  Driving, beaching, splash padding, abandoning splash pad because someone's kid pooped, more splash padding, lunching, sitting in the car while Daddy brewery-toured, somehow spending an hour in Academy to buy one thing, and then abandoning plan to see fireworks because we were pooped... life with kids!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Baby Luke at 3 Months

I really love having a baby around!  We're soaking in this time with Luke because I know it all passes so quickly.  He continues to be an incredibly loved little guy!  And the best baby ever :)  Because...

Sleeping

I think when it's your third baby you are allowed to brag about a good sleeper.  Especially when your middle child still frequently wakes up in the middle of the night. Luke officially sleeps through the night.  Like the WHOLE night.  This took us majorly by surprise because we'd never experienced anything similar until our other children were like walking.  Not exaggerating.  It's been happening for a solid two weeks.  Luke goes down in his crib at 7 or 7:30.  I wake him to nurse him before I go to bed (though I'm wondering if that's even necessary?) and put him down in his cradle by our bed.  Where he sleeps soundly until about 6:00 a.m.

And it doesn't stop there.  He then takes two solid 3 hour naps plus a few small cat naps.  We have been the parents who googled "does my baby sleep too much?" and also checked with our pediatrician, but Luke's 17 and 18 hour sleep days appear to be normal on all accounts as he is growing like a weed, happy as a lark, and very alert and interactive with us.

Growing like a weed

16 lbs 3 oz at the 3 month mark!  Jack was also 16 lbs 3 oz at the same age, though an inch longer.  Cora was our "tiny" baby at 16 lbs even, though it's worth noting that she started a full pound smaller at birth than our boys.  The perks are fat, happy, soft, squishy babies.  The cons are that you literally have to separate fat rolls to keep baby clean :)

16 lbs 3 oz


Baths, showers, and other water sources

Luke continues to love the water.  He's all smiles and relaxation in the bath and he also generally liked the pool while we were on vacation.


It's hard to pose a baby! With sweet cousin Billy at the beach

What else Luke likes

Besides the water, he likes Mommy, Daddy, eating, looking at or having conversations with Mommy and Daddy, being held upright, being sung to, sucking on his hands, and being put down on his belly to sleep in quiet places.  Which in all honesty is probably why he's such a great sleeper,  His life is one lived in a loud, jarring, slightly stressful environment that he probably just needs a break from after an hour or so.

He also must like to spit-up because he does it a lot.  But obviously he's keeping enough down!
Luke's first trip: Atlanta for a wedding

Some good chub :)

Sucking his thumb

What is up next

June has been a fun month for us with Vacation Bible School, a week at the beach with my family, and then two full weeks at home together before I go back to work.  These at home weeks are great at helping me see exactly what Luke's ideal routine is before I need to communicate that to someone else.  Luke will be going to the day care center at my work which seems incredibly ideal as he'll be close by me most days, minimizing the need to pump and allowing me and him to lay eyes on each other as needed :)
First time in swing!

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Turning the page to 3

I love that this blog has become a holding place for our memories and a file cabinet of time.  We recently had our rental car broken into and laptops stolen.  :(  And the suckiest thing about it was that I lost many picture and video files from the past 3 years.  Luckily, so much has been shared here on the blog.  For Jack, we'll be able to say "check out all these sweet videos of you as a baby" (backed up on our hard drive) and for Cora, we'll luckily say "read about your early years on the blog."

I found myself getting sentimental last night as I thought about saying goodnight to my two year old little girl, knowing she'd be waking up as a three year old.  This time in life is passing so quickly!

I would so regret not capturing this moment in her life.  What a spit fire, vivacious, dramatic, expressive, "lives at the extremes," beautiful, smart little girl.

We are at the beach this week and we are getting some witnesses to Cora's extremes. I mean doesn't it suck when the birthday girl gets sent to time out before breakfast?

What is Cora like at just-today-three?

BEAUTIFUL.  I try to be mindful of telling her how beautiful she is because I think there are so many more important ways to define yourself. But I also can't help myself (nor can Jacob) because we just are wowed by her eyes, her curls, her soft sweet skin.  Just lovely.

CAPTIVATING. She has a whole book of facial expressions.  And gestures.  She is adorably emphatic, easily excited, and makes us laugh so often with the way she recounts events, asks questions, and even argues back.

SMART. She's very intuitive.  I'll never forget how at barely 2 she asked "why you frustrated Mommy?" She also knows how to push buttons and work situations. We're so in trouble with this one.

IMAGINATIVE. Oh Lordy!  Have you met Mimi and Da-da, her imaginary friends?  Sometimes Mimi is a mommy, sometimes a baby, and Cora also told us that it was Mimi who broke into our car and stole our computers... :)  This little girl is so happy with the simplest things - a stack of wash cloths, an assortment of rocks, even just dirt.

A JUXTAPOSITION. She can be loud; she can be shy.  She can be super cuddly and so sweet and downright mean a few minutes later.  I imagine a lot of this has to do with her age as she's just not sure how to handle some of her emotions.  Which leads us to:

IMPULSIVE.  A great example: This week, we told her it was time to get out of the pool. She didn't want to be done swimming.  So she just jumped back into the pool.  Without floaties.  Without anyone waiting to catch her.  Luckily Grammy hadn't gotten out yet and grabbed her.

CAN'T HANDLE BEING TOLD NO.  Ay-yi-yi  This one is killing us lately.  Cora gets SO easily offended if she is corrected.  I seriously worry she'll walk out into traffic because she almost compulsively does the thing you tell her not to, no matter how good and obvious your intentions are.

She's also killing us with her particular version of the whine.  It's a high pitched "Ehh!" when she's offended, wronged, annoyed, etc.  Her teachers loved her this year, but one of them spot on imitated this sound.

Sometimes these days I look at Cora and she just grabs my heart as I imagine that she's struggling some with the recent changes in our family.  She's at a challenging age and I think this must be a hard spot to be in with a little baby so easily attracting love and a big brother who is so proudly reaching new milestones of independence.

And then at other moments...my thoughts are less generous.

It's been so much fun to anticipate this birthday with Cora and I'm excited to share our birthday present with her tonight: an enamel "treasure box" with nine little drawers to hold her many treasures.  (I've seen these before at TJMaxx before and always wanted to have a reason to buy one!)  My family all contributed little treasures from their houses and she's going to love the pretty rocks, shells, old lockets, etc. that we filled it with.