Sunday, July 17, 2016

16 Months: World traveler and all that





So, without asking our permission, Luke is now 16 months! Judging by his happy demeanor, I'd say he has loved this last month of life.

The month started with lazy days at home together.  This gave him lots of time to nap in his own bed where he continues to prove himself to be a child who loves sleep! He still takes twice daily naps usually lasting a total of 4 hours or more and sleeps a solid 11+ hours at night!

Then there was the New York City trip!

Luke and I flew to NYC and met up with my mom who watched him while I attended the Teacher's College Summer Reading Institute. The conference was great as was the special dynamic of time with my mom and time with my baby. We all enjoyed each other's company. *Luke did show us that he's not always a perfect sleeper as he would just stand and grin at us from his pack n play until we eventually turned out all lights and the TV around 9:30 each night. So much for staying up to watch a movie!

  • Luke and I then admirably handled parting from each other on the street in NYC as he drove away (unbuckled, sitting in my mom's lap) in a taxi to the airport. My anxiety levels decreased each time I heard he'd safely made it to the next destination. My mom further proved herself an amazing grandma as she donned the Ergo and took Luke on the taxi, two flights, a long layover, and an hour drive home. Go Grammy! And Go Luke as he's proven to be a much easier flying companion than his big sister Cora!
  • Luke then got to experience life as both the only child AND the only grandchild staying with my parents for 3 days while the big kids, Jacob, and I enjoyed a weekend vacation in NYC and while Luke's cousins were also out of town. Every third child/fourth grandchild should get to experience being solo at some point!  My parent's awesome one floor house and huge suburban yard tipped Luke over from half walker-half crawler into full time walker. There have been Owen babies toddling around that house for nearly 60 years at this point!
  • Then there were a few days of pure chaos when 5 grandkids descended on my parents' house, ages ranging from 5 weeks to 6 years. Luke got to meet baby Owen who, at 14 months younger, will undoubtedly be Luke's great friend one day.  This was a super helpful experiment because my baby sister is getting married in September in Wyoming and we all realized we are going to need an on call babysitter if the adults want to actually be able to have a conversation!
Luke and Owen
Grammy with all her grandkids minus Luke who was napping
I flew home alone with 3 kids!  All went smoothly except that unplanned 2 hours sitting on the runway bc of weather!

Luke then returned to his home, his crib, and his ducks and is very happy to be here. Now that he's a full time walker he's really discovering our outside space. When I say "Luke, do you want to put on your shoes and go outside" I can expect to find him standing by the door with shoes or "zuh" in hand.


There have been so many sweet moments of the month. The best has been Luke's habit of laying his head on my shoulder multiple times during the day - not just when he's tired. It's his way of reconnecting with me and I LOVE IT!

We still have our nightly routine of saying good night and touching special things in his room and he's back to letting me lay him down and blowing me a kiss as I leave. Jacob and I've talked about weaning him from his before bed feeding just so Jacob can get in on this sweet routine.

He's still nursing 4 times most days, but I can see how we'll be at 3 feedings soon. I consider these the glory days of nursing. It's easy, convenient, and the sweetest point of connection between the two of us.

Luke is officially the third Landry lover of books (or I guess the fifth). We read three books any time I'm putting him down for nap or nighttime and he'd be happy to read more. A lot of his language development has solidified through the things he sees in his favorite books. Our favorite new words:
  • animal sounds!  He can do a duck, dog, cat, cow, sheep, bee, snake, and lion.  And he's the world's gentlest lion, such a sweet little snarl.
  • "how" for house, "eh" for egg (both in a book and the ones we retrieve daily from the chicken coop), "Papa" for Big Papa (who after his visit Luke will now name when he sees his picture), "tar" for the star on his favorite blankets, which he drags around after him :)
And Luke conquered his fear of elevators.  Yes, apparently it's possible for babies to have such fears because Luke always got very anxious, squirmy, and whiny when we'd ride the elevator at the doctor's office, but after our New York week, he would point to the hotel room door at the mention of getting to ride the elevator, excited to try it again.

His appetite is also much better this month and he's been trying new dishes: lasagna, red beans and rice, okra, and cream of wheat while still randomly holding out on some foods (no peaches, canteloupe, pineapple, or much meat as of late.)

This whole family is so thankful for such a sweet and gentle child to love and experience all the first with!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Sibling Rivalry

Exhale.

I am DETERMINED to figure out some good strategies for dealing with the siblings at war sibling rivalry in our house right now! As best as I can remember, Jack and Cora seemed to turn on each other around the time Luke was born.That may be oversimplifying things but I remember checking out the book Siblings Without Rivalry last May... and I can read some awful sweet posts about Jack & Cora pre-Luke.


The Good Old Days
A third child arrives, the older two subconsciously decide they must take down their fellow-child sibling because the baby is too cute to compete with? Do they sense there is only enough air/space/love in the family for two?

What does sibling rivalry look like at the Landry household?

- Pictures from Jack always addressed to "Mommy, Daddy and Luke"
- A frantic fight (often with tears) about whose turn it is to sit next to Luke at meals; it doesn't seem to matter that we offered a "fair" rotating schedule, it is always a moment of high drama. We hear things like "But that's NOT FAIR. Now Cora gets to sit by him two times today and I only get to sit by him once!"
- Me: "Who wants to go wake up Luke?" No immediate response. "I do," says Cora. "I do!" shouts Jack and two children come barreling by me trying to get there first. Screams heard from the child who does not make it first.
- Cora walks up and slaps Jack. Disbelief and tears from Jack.
- Jack is playing a card game and Cora purposefully walks across his cards. Righteous anger from Jack.
- Cora (who sits in the seat by the van door): "Let me get out first Jack." Jack rips his seat belt off and bolts to the door half landing on her lap. Screams; tears.

I thought it was bad a month ago but we were on such a roller coaster that I felt sure once we were all on summer vacation and life slowed down that the ample servings of attention they'd each receive would cure all our ills.

Ha. Ha.

What actually happened was that we were all home together for many, many hours. What this meant was that all the above instances had about 500 more minutes of opportunity to happen in new and inventive ways.

Our strand of sibling rivalry evidently is NOT a result of a lack of attention. I have spent a ton of quality time with these guys in the last month and the rivalry has only gained steam.

And while I know Luke's entry into the family is somehow related, he also sleeps for as many as 7 of Jack and Cora's 13 waking hours. There is a ton of time when it's just the two of them splitting mine or Jacob's attention.

I know this is normal. I also think it has a lot to do with their ages and learning how to play well with someone 2.5 years older/younger than you.

But I still NEED to figure out how to mollify the angst because it's stressing ME out!!

So what is my plan?

I borrowed the book Siblings Without Rivalry again and have been carrying it around for two months unopened. I need to read it.

I remember from the first time I read this book that the parent has to extricate herself from the bickering, blaming, negotiating, leaving the kids to sort things out on their own as often as possible. I swear I'm trying but I need to figure out a way to do this more effectively.

I've started drawing a "kindness column" each day (8 or 9 empty boxes that lead to a more excitedly drawn box). Jack and Cora are both intrigued and don't even care that there is no clear reward. I've been noticing the acts of kindness I do see. Today they got to color in 3 boxes. Here were those good moments:

  • On our walk today, Jack patiently helped Cora walk around a dead bird when I'd given up on her and had walked away :)  
  • When Cora stopped to empty her shoe in the middle of an (empty) intersection, I look up to find that Jack has stopped and has his hand held out to the empty street in a stop signal to ward off any oncoming traffic :)
  • Cora sweetly ran off to get Luke a new blanket and quietly shut his door before his nap. :)
My Goal: Lessen the yelling and bickering (which is stressful on us all), help them see the fun and enjoyable qualities in the other, cement in their minds that our family is a team.

Goal: More of this!


I'll report back!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Luke at 15 months - talking AND walking!

Luke surprised us all about a week ago with a few toddling steps. Isn't it hilarious in the first few weeks of walking to look up and SEE YOUR BABY WALKING?! So funny! In a week, he can already toddle across the room and stand himself back up once he falls down.

Beautiful blue eyes has added just a few new words this month: hat, nose, and (today), bubble. He will also answer "ruh-ruh" when you ask "What does a dog say?"

Bedtime Ritual

This month we've fallen into the sweetest nap and night-time rituals. We walk into his room and he points and says "Buh!" We read two or three books and he'll still point and want another. I usually give in. Then it's time for mama
-milk which he's always happy to have.

There are pictures of Jack and Cora on the wall as babies and I used to prompt him to say goodnight to "baby Jack-Jack and baby To-ta". Now we start by telling each picture goodnight, then move to touch the bead art picture on his door, then we tell a few other items goodnight (a ceramic elephant, the car on his growth chart, the big picture of a boat above his bed). Luke loves this and gestures me from one item to the next. He also added pointing to his window, so now we say goodnight to outside too.

Then I lay him in his bed and he pops immediately up and waits for me to cover him with his blanket. For a few days, he'd laugh and then blow me a kiss (for real!!) but more often then not he'll stand up and fuss for a second as I leave before settling himself down.

Sweet baby.

Picky Eater?!

Luke is definitely our pickiest baby eater. (I just fact-checked this statement by rereading my blog when Cora was this age and if you know Jack you know he's ALWAYS been a great eater!) There were a few weeks this month when Luke seemed to only be eating oatmeal, blueberries, bananas and peanut butter on bread.

Luke has always swiped away foods that he's not interested in. With a baby it has been hard to know what to do when he rejects a food. If he were to throw it on the floor, for example, and we give it back to him, he just throws it away again. He won't tolerate being fed so unless he wants to put it in his mouth, it's not going to get there. (We tried forcing the issue a few times with lots of sputtering and tears as a result.)

Some small wins have been mashing up fruit into his morning oatmeal. Whereas he would never eat a raspberry if given one, he eats them just fine when they are mashed into his oatmeal. We also find that you can't give up. We've probably given him roasted broccoli 50 times. He's eaten it about 20 of those times. He seems sensitive to temperature (prefers warm, hates cold) and also just seems to know what he wants/whether he's hungry.

Breakfast is oatmeal and fruit. Lunch at school needs to be reliable: usually two fruits he likes (bananas, blueberries, apples, pears, or melons are usually winners, sometimes pineapple) + bread with peanut butter or leftover plain pasta or pizza. Cold veggies are going to come home uneaten.

Meat is usually a no, though he does love sucking on bacon. And cheese!  My other kids can't get enough but after months of offering, Luke has only eaten it a few times!

But there is nothing wrong with him. On occasion, he'll scarf down everything near him and he's always game for something sweet. We don't give him sweets except on very special occasions. His "treat" is the occasional dried fig which he LOVES!  He's getting plenty of breastmilk so our plan is to just keep offering only healthy foods and to try not to stress about his eating habits!

Trouble!

We've found that Luke likes stacking toys, but his favorite games to play are still climbing stairs, eating shoes, eating crayons, paper, or books, and opening cabinets that are not baby proof!  We have an exersaucer which he considers baby jail. Sometimes he'll fight so hard when I try to put him in that I have to give up because I can't get his legs in. Once in, he can be distracted if Cora or I start bouncing with him and chant "Bounce Lutey Bounce!" The exersaucer is majorly helpful because it's really hard to make dinner when you have to pluck a baby off the stairs every 45 seconds.


(Sorry for the scary sounds of talking in slo-mo!)

Love the shoe in his mouth!


This baby is definitely starting to seem like a toddler this month!




Baby of a brewery owner!

Thursday, June 09, 2016

All the emoticons! Cora is 4!

So obviously the reason to keep having babies is because if you do NOT your baby girl will turn four and all your kids will be practically grown!

Lately, three has not seemed all that young. Young three seems young as I look at other people's children, but old three has not as I've looked at my own child.

Cora still seems young when I see her sprawled and asleep, when she's in those adorable fitted children's PJs, and when she melts into a pool of uselessness after a long day.

Cora seems old because she is a second child and is living in a 6 year old's world. She seems old because she's opinionated and articulate. She seems old because no baby could extract so many emotions from Jacob and me across one single day.

We recently watched some baby videos of Cora. These videos are especially precious to me because when our rental car was broken into last year and our laptops stolen, I lost a lot of not-backed-up pictures/videos of Cora.  I had backed up a few (like 10!!) and I'm so glad. How amazing to see the fieriness in her even as a 12 month old. Such expressions!  


Man, she is fiery. I mean to write down the things she says but I never do and then of course I forget them.  

A few things to note about Cora at this birthday:
  • She's intuitive. She notices things and is aware and observant. When Jacob, for once, happened to wear a non-Urban South embossed shirt one day, she noticed and asked why.  She calls me on my feelings and usually can explain why I'm feeling them "Mommy, you're frustrated because..."  
  • She says "right?" a lot at the end of her sentences. Tante Sara pointed this out after having Cora spend the night.  Once pointed out to us, we couldn't believe we hadn't noticed it. Cora has an affirming tic: "It's okay that I spilled my drink, right Mommy? Everyone has accidents, right? Right, Mommy?"
  • She's competing for the world's worst sleeper award. One recent night she was up for more than an hour after Jack went to bed, making 8 trips down to tell us one more thing. When finally asleep, she started having atrocious night terrors where she was screaming at the top of her lungs. Then she woke us up in the middle of the night, as usual, because she was scared and wanted to relocate to our room. And she didn't sleep in and was grumpy early in the morning.  Those are the difficult times...
  • Every night she relocates in the middle of the night to the floor beside our bed. It works for her.
  • Cora is glass and she's not shatter proof.  Apparently Geminis have two personalities. Cora can go from the best companion to the worst in a matter of seconds. (Think: glass shattering.) I've figured out that she struggles mightily to pull herself back together once she falls apart so it's better to let the meltdown happen and then intervene afterward, because she can and will go back to being pleasant company if she's not met head-on. This is why night-time is hard. While it feels ridiculous to  "allow" the many post-bedtime visits, the alternative is to come down hard and then have an escalating (crying, screaming, defiant) 3 year old on your hands. Isn't it better to tolerate one more "I need to tell you something....um...PAUSE...what are we having for breakfast tomorrow?" than to unleash the beast as Jacob would say?
  • Which brings me to: Cora does not back down. I may hang a sign on her that says "Do not approach directly." That time I flew 9 hours overnight to Europe alone with her at 12 months? And she didn't sleep more than 45 minutes?  That was a preview of what was to come. Does.Not.Back.Down. Still a trait of hers.
  • Luckily, she's super cute and funny. I love sitting back and watching where her imagination takes her. 
  • She's an amazing big sister - she can be relied on to play with Luke and keep him safe when we are busy. He loves his "To-ta" and they give each other sweet smackers on the lips :)
  • She loves her big brother even though they are in total war right now.  It breaks my heart a little because she lights up when he's sweet to her. But since she's an instigator, I can't feel too sorry for her. Jack frequently says "Stop antagonizing me Cora!!"


Ahh Cora.  I'm fully confident that all of this fire is refining some wonderful things in your little person. Today, your birthday, was a perfect snapshot of life with you. Jacob and I both said it's fortunate there is only one day a year where you can say "It's my birthday, so I..."  Lots of ups and downs and randoms today but, as typical, there was an extremely rewarding snuggle at the end of the day where all of your sweetness and beautiful spirit was radiating. I love all of you and everything you teach me daily. Here's to many more years!

Sunday, May 15, 2016

14 Months!

Still talking, not walking, but getting some good practice!
What Luke Loves
- His mama milk - this has been the month where he's started naming nursing and going in search of the goods
- His "da-da" who just the sight of makes Luke chuckle
- The ducks!  Every time we pull in the driveway, Luke knows he's near the ducks and he starts saying "Duck!!" or "Hi Duck!" and if he knows we're walking over toward them he starts clapping his hands and squealing. So the ducks have gotten a major reprieve as we were contemplating getting rid of them but now I couldn't do that to Luke. He, Cora, and I have taken over giving them water and feeding them every day and they both love it.
- Freedom to explore
- Climbing the stairs over and over
- Eating paper (books, toilet paper) or really any wood product (furniture, etc.)
- "Buh!" he happily sits and flips through his books
This girl is a great big sister!
- "Nana!" bananas are still his favorite food, so much so that this term now means banana and also "Give me something I want to eat!" His teachers would laugh because they'd pull out his lunch box and he'd be all "Nana, NANA!" leaving them to say "Luke, your mama didn't send you a banana!"  We now all know this means "Give me a banana OR something else equally appealing"
- Oranges (can't say it but can scarf down two whole satsumas and still want more)
- A whole pear, but watch out because he will eat the WHOLE pear, stem and all, if you aren't paying attention

Luke still swipes or throws foods he doesn't want.  He is still very PICKY and is subsisting on fruit, bread, and breastmilk.
- His bed - he points to it and would like you to just leave if he's really tired.
- He's developing a fondness for his muslin blanket set, the same type of blankets that Cora so strongly attached to.  He carries it around in his teeth sometimes and will clutch it as he lays down to sleep.

Luke and "To-ta"
What Luke Says Now
- "To-ta" for Cora - I love it!!
- "Ow-sigh" for outside
- "Ma-ma mih" for mama milk
- "wa-wa" for water
- 2 word phrases: Hi Da-da, Hi To-ta, Hi Ja-Ja, Hi Duck!
- "ah-pul" for apple

Luke still is a great sleeper and needs his two naps. We did hit a snag this month where he became more sensitive to noise. I always check on all three kids before I go to bed and, for Luke, that means opening his door. It creaks and it started waking him up. And then he'd refuse to go back to sleep without nursing. And after nursing, he'd cry again. Only Jacob could settle him down. So after a few nights of this, Jacob is looking at me like I'm crazy for continuing to check on him, but when it's been 4 hours since I've seen the child, I just want to lay eyes on him, make sure he's breathing and is under a blanket. We've never needed a monitor and it seems silly to get one so late in the game but we may try to borrow a video monitor or maybe oil some hinges??

Luke and Addison at school

In other news...

There is so much else going on with our family (Urban South, big work decisions, Kindergarten graduation, parenting challenges) but the last few months have felt like we were riding a wave that never slowed down. As I sit here planning out the last week of school, I am so glad and so grateful that we are about to have a chance to breathe in. I'll be off work for several weeks and there will be no school, no drop offs, no schedules, no carpool planning. The kids just want to play at home. I just want to be at home. I want to enjoy these three babies and help them make the lazy summer memories that I have from my childhood. Late June will bring travel and July will bring camp, but at a gentler pace than these last few months. I have so much more to say but finding the time to do anything lately has been hard. I hope that changes over this next month.

I am NOT going to smile for this gimmicky Grandmother's Day card!

But I will eat one of these hearts

Tasty!

"Taking a picture with 3 kids"

Daddy does better: 2 out of 3 is good odds these days!


Friday, April 15, 2016

13 Months!

This has been a big month for our baby boy!

Talking ...
- Luke had a word explosion this month.  Duck (he's obsessed; remember, we have real ones!), nigh-nigh, book, baby, ball, truck added to Mama, Dada, Ja-Ja, and nana.  I sometimes think he can say something like "To-wa" for Cora but jury is out.
- He also says a few 2 word phrases; he'll say "Hi Duh" when we visit our ducks.  When I bring him into our bed in the morning and he sees Jacob, he says "Dada!" and when prompted, he can say "Hi Dada" and I even got him to say "Dada nigh-nigh"
- He says "nigh-nigh" when he's tired.  This kid!!
- One reason I love Luke's teacher is that she gets just as tickled/excited as I do anytime Luke says a new word :)



But not walking
- Not even close!  He can cruise (and climb up the stairs) but he can't stand by himself yet.  We are seriously impeding his ability to walk because we are constantly picking him up because our world is just too dangerous for him!
With his best buddy Addison

Why would I walk when these guys can push me around?


He's perfect...
- He's a sweet thumb sucker with a preference for his Mommy. He loves to read his books, always has a toy in his mouth, and thinks his brother, sister, and (especially) his Daddy are really funny.

But he's trouble!
- He eats toilet paper, knocks over full glasses of water that are supposedly out of his reach, eats toys he shouldn't, climbs stairs, doesn't understand the word no, chews on shoes, and constantly has electrical outlet covers in his mouth. Whew! It was already crazy to get the family ready in the morning but Luke definitely took it to a new level this month. He oftentimes ends up in his crib with a book so we know he's safe and so we can actually get ready.
He's a sizeable guy BUT he's 4 lbs smaller than Jack was at this age!!
Firsts
He got sick for the first time this month, twice. First, an ear infection that had him up almost an entire night and, then, a cold. This disrupted his 12 hour sleep stretches and he's still waking occasionally.

Picky
He is an opinionated eater. If he doesn't like the look of a food, it is gone from his tray. He has a mean swipe and it would be funny except that it's seriously hard to get him to try new things. He likes to feed himself (as in he jerks away if you try to put a piece of food in his mouth) but he's not willing to try new things. Favorite foods continue to be bananas, bread, blueberries, and oatmeal. He ate a lot of grapes this month. He also likes pizza and he loved his birthday cakes.

Party Pics








My babies



Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Happy Birthday to my Baby

It is your birth day little one and that day will ALWAYS be as special to me as it is to you :)

I relive the days/hours before my babies' births as their birthdays approach. Ask me in a year what I did each hour of today and I will not be able to tell you but the end of each of my pregnancies is seared into my memory and hopefully always will be. I like looking back at myself at a time right before life changed. In the days before Jack was born, I just had no idea. In the days before Cora was born, I had no idea how simple life was with just one child. Same with life before Luke. Looking back at those weeks, everything seems simpler.

These last few days, I've just marveled though that one year ago I DID NOT KNOW this child. Tonight, as I put Luke to bed, I was lingering. Singing him all my favorite lullabies: Edelweiss (changing Edelweiss to Baby Luke), You are My Sunshine, and Stay with me, Lord Jesus. Now I have known him for a whole year and, of course, cannot imagine my life without him.  

If you ever want to just talk and talk and talk, get me started on the subject of having babies. It is likely we are done, we definitely probably should be done, but I have found the experience to be magical and miraculous and it makes me sad to think I'm through that time in my life. So I've been all kinds of sentimental recently.

But what keeps me at a place of contentment is that I feel I have drunk in this past year and enjoyed it so much. I have been crazy busy and can't say I haven't missed a lot because of the warp speed our life is running at these days. BUT I have appreciated and savored and lingered.

LUKE

He's still the baby to beat all babies at 12 months :) Will he one day be challenging? It's hard to imagine. He's still the magical sleeper - 12 hours no matter what. And we still find him in his crib in the morning, usually awake, just quietly sucking his thumb, patiently waiting for someone to come get him.

He's lovable and now is loved to the point that we are having fights and tears about who gets to sit by him at meals. Argh. !#%!%  
21 lbs 13 oz of loving

12 month photo shoot went something like this
Best shot!
He is matter of fact. Put a food in front of him he's not interested in? No mind. Without a sound of protest, he'll just swipe it right off his tray. It doesn't matter if he ate it yesterday; if he doesn't want it now, he doesn't give it a second glance. This makes packing his lunch hard as you never know when he's going to be "over" a certain food. And he won't let you put food in his mouth unless it's something on a spoon. So it's hard to get him to try something. If he doesn't like the look of that plum slice, there's no way of getting him to know what it tastes like.

Current favorite foods: bananas!!, blueberries, oranges, oatmeal, bread, warm roasted vegetables (but not cold!).  

He's still a great nurser. He may be moving from 6 to 5 feedings a day and that one dropped feeding is all my baby-mommy heart can take right now. Let's keep taking baby steps on that one Luke!

As for baby steps, he's still very laid back in this area. He is starting to pull up more regularly, but doesn't cruise. He crawls to get around and he's fast. We have been standing him up behind a wagon or push toy and he can take steps that way, though he looks like an old man barely able to handle his walker :) So precious.

Old Man Luke with his walker

Luke's favorite facial expression - scrunched up nose :) :)
He's a handful for sure as crawling babies are. Always a new place to explore and oblivious to the word no. He can pop out outlet covers and loves to put them in his mouth. We keep discovering him with small things in his mouth, thankfully always right away. He loves to eat shoes (so, so gross). He hates to be contained. He acts like it's the ultimate betrayal when we put him in the exersaucer now.  

He has become more attached to me and cries pitifully when left in the church nursery or when someone else besides Momma wants to hold him. He also sometimes cries now when I leave his classroom, but he loves his teachers and is so comfortable there that those cries are short lived.

He clearly says "mama," "da-da," "dja-dja" for his brother, and "nana" for his favorite food.  He can sign "more" and he loves to clap and wave.

Time go slowly please.