Friday, June 23, 2017

Boy Updates: Jack at 7.5 and Luke at 2 and a Quarter

It is so cool to be raising two little boys. This idea never really entered my mind growing up in a family with an older brother and two younger sisters and having mainly aunts. Sisters was what I knew and I didn't have an immediate example of what brothers were like.

Now I do! At the moment, I have a BIG boy who we affectionately call our Labrador because his size, energy levels, and coordination resemble a big and friendly puppy :) And I have my baby boy who still has that soft, squishy baby quality that I cannot snuggle enough! There is a 5+ year age gap between them so I'm not seeing them so much as brothers than as a big kid who is awfully sweet and gentle with his littlest sibling. Luke, for his part, adores both Jack and Cora.

So what's Jack like at 7.5?

  • Avid, avid reader - most mornings Luke's cries wake me and I'll go to his room and see that Jack's light is already on and he's reading in his bed. He had met two summer reading goals by the end of May and has set a personal goal to double/triple, etc. the 2017-page NOLA library goal.  He's at 5,000+ at the moment. 
  • He's persistently persistent.  Case in point: he read the first three Harry Potter books this spring and then immediately wanted to read the 4th. I checked my Commonsensemedia resource and it says there is a definite darker shift in the 4th book. (I've not read the series.) So I said no that he'd need to wait until he was older. About an hour later he asked again. And the next day and the next day and the next day. And then he started negotiating. And he's darn good at that! So pretty soon I had agreed that if he reread the first three then we could start the fourth one together. I wasn't sure if he'd fully comprehended the first three so I thought it would be a good test. In the end he amended his original negotiation to swap out two other books for HP1 and 2 and then he read those books and HP3 in one week. So now it's June and he's reading the 4th book. While I'd love to read all the time, I can't, which means he's reading the 4th one to himself and I'm occasionally checking in with "Is it scary yet?"  #mediocreparenting
  • Back to the avid reading, amidst HP4 chapters, he's read about 30 other books this week. His new favorite spot is to read on the porch. The only downside to all of this reading is that he's less interested in snuggling up for a read aloud book BUT he does enjoy a "reading party" (which means that we are all reading in one space), so that for sure is a win.
  • He is loving baseball season. At age 7, he's not entirely coordinated but he's super into the rules of the game and he's very motivated to practice. Oftentimes, he is throwing a ball against the fence in the driveway. He had the best night of his life when he got to go to an 8:30 game and, due to a shortage of players, got to play catcher AND 3rd base. That child held his glove up and caught a line drive to third earning himself the game ball. He was positively beaming the rest of the night :)
  • Just like a Labrador, he loves to wrestle and race and, when not reading, is happiest to be running around in open spaces.
  • He spends a lot of time on his bike in our driveway or playing sports games in our driveway. He'd always be up for a play date, so if you're reading this and have a 5-9 year old, give me a call!
  • He thrives in structure and has fully embraced the Camp Landry schedule. When I got lax on day 5 of Camp Landry, he stepped in and wrote the schedule for us.

  • He is a great patient and rocked some sinus surgery in early June. After a year of trying every suggestion and ruling out a bunch of things, we opted to have his ENT widen his sinuses and remove his adenoids to hopefully stop the persistent sinus infections that are his norm.  

and baby Luke at 2 years 3 months?
  • He's still so snuggly!  He calls snuggles "nuggles" and asks for them....sigh.
  • He's still drinking "mama milk" but now just 2 times a day which he's adjusted to. I weaned Cora at 2 years 6 months...
  • He had a potty breakthrough this weekend. We've been stressing how he CANNOT pee or poop in his swimsuit and at the pool he said, "pee pee coming!!!" so I walked him to some grass and took off his diaper. I then told him to make the pee pee come out to which he looked down and said "Pee pee come out!" Which was hilarious as nothing happened. Then he actually peed! And then 30 minutes later the whole scenario repeated itself and he peed again. Milestone! (Followed by a week of no more milestones!)
  • He's a destructive force. He dumps things out, swipes things off tables, and if he's mad, he'll throw things as a way of showing you've hurt his feelings. He has (and always has had) a really bad habit of dumping his plate on the floor when he's done. This week he dumped out a bowl of chili. This landed him straight in his crib which just broke his heart. He definitely knows when he's done something wrong and usually will tearfully say "I torry!" and rub your face gently. You can't stay mad at him for long!
We have a sensory bin and what started as such a sweet activity ended up in a HUGE MESS - Luke!!!!
  • He loves to read just as much as Jack and Cora. He's sitting through longer and longer stories and I think he's so smart (and of course I'm not biased.) Jack really wanted Luke to participate in the summer reading challenge too, so I'm managing Luke's log for him which brings to light how many books he asks for in a day.

  • I thought Luke would love Vacation Bible School this year. As a 2 year old, he was going to get to pop into some actual classes rather than just stay in the nursery. He had been loving hearing the "Bible Tool Songs" but I underestimated his attachment to me. I was the director/emcee and anytime he would see me, he'd start sobbing and couldn't be consoled. So I had a little shadow much of the week. This was especially cute the day he wore a super hero cape and I had a little caped figure flying after me every time I changed locations. This worked fine and he did participate some and rocked out on the dance moves!

  • Luke and I have a game where I'll say "I'm looking around for my favorite Looty-loo and then I'll dramatically look around before finding him right in front of me and say "There he is!" At which point, he'll say "I looking round..favrite Mommy....Dere is!" Here he is looking for me in the trash can :)

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Cora at FIVE

The night before Cora's birthday I decided I needed to savor my last night with 4 year old Cora and carry her to pee (we always walk her to the potty before we go to bed) and nearly threw my back out doing so because somehow my kids are all getting really, really big!!

Cora is still filling up rooms with her sunshine and energy and causing seismic tremors with her lows.  Jacob is constantly saying "she's a piece of work" and generally means this as a compliment!  She's such an exuberant, insightful, emotionally charged, beautiful little girl and we are frequently left stunned by her strong being.

These days, Cora is most likely to be found coloring and/or listening to an audio book on CD.  She can entertain herself for long stretches artfully coloring symmetrical pictures.  You might also find her with lots of small, not-typically-found-together items playing an imaginative game by herself.  In those moments, it's likely that she's got 2-5 pieces of costume wear on and oftentimes a headband worn 1970's style around her head, not at all holding her hair back.

One benefit of being the middle child is that you have a playmate both above and below you.  In the rare moments when Jack and Cora are able to put aside their differences, they can band together to ride bikes in the driveway and play super hero games.  Or you might bump into Harry Potter and Harry Potter's sister also named "Harry" (Cora's idea).  More often, Cora and Luke are running around, laughing or Luke is a prop in Cora's play (and loving every minute of it he is.)

Cora is social and fun to be around.  She has deep relationships, most especially with her former classmate Milo.  They met at age 2 and were tight little buddies the two years they were in class together.  They weren't in school together the last year but have kept their parents motivated to get them together because every time they play it's for happy, independent hours of imagination.  Cora also has made some other good friends through Waldorf this year and will get to move into the role of Mother Hen next year as she becomes a Sunflower (the second year of Waldorf Kindergarten).  Many of her classmates will be younger and her teacher noted how this will play to Cora's strengths.  She is patient and nurturing and also likes to lead in play, should work great!

Cora is our brown skinned, wild and curly haired, bright eyed child who can be so insightful and mature at times.  She operates best when well rested.  We achieved a major milestone this year as she now sleeps in either Jack's or her room and 90% of the time in a bed and not on the floor.  This ended a 1.5 year stretch of her moving to her "floor bed" in our room every night.  We try to get her to take 2 naps a week to keep her rested but that means signing on to an evening with a child who will still be awake when we go to bed.  This works pretty well though as she is independent and imaginative and is usually happy to play alone upstairs.

She still shatters like glass quite suddenly.  It oftentimes feels unexpected but definitely is more apt when she's tired or it's the afternoon of a no-nap day.  It's a jarring experience as she can be so upbeat one minute and literally a sobbing mess on the floor the next.  She can also get upset about the most irrational things.  She is the upbeat child in the backseat one minute and is kicking and screaming the next because we just affirmed the fact that her birthday was 5 weeks away.  Or the moment on her birthday when my happy, upbeat child all the sudden collapsed in the middle of the sidewalk because she didn't like that her birthday party was the next day and it was only family coming to her "birth day party" (something she had envisioned in her mind) that night.  I have a hard time in this type of moment because it is so irrational and out of the blue!!

Cora doesn't like to be told no and she can be easily offended.  But in true Cora style, she will also be completely happy 2 minutes later and doesn't show any sign of the storm clouds that just blew through.  She forgives and loves and definitely doesn't hold a grudge.

Not having her in our family would be like not having bright light.  It can overwhelm you at times but it makes everything so much more beautiful.  We are really lucky to be learning how to parent with this special girl.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

The Piece of Squash and the Cookie

My favorite nights are ones where dinner feels intentional and not rushed. We take turns talking about our days and windows open into our kids' "hidden" lives.

Tonight Luke even graduated from his usual response listing who he hung out with at school ("Play Toya, play Tu-ton, Play Eya")  and said "Played Outside." :)

Dinner was grilled squash wraps and squash steadily disappeared from Jack and Cora's plates but notably moved off the wrap and to the side of Luke's high chair. We had baked cookies so I optimistically brought 5 over to the table. We've been working on getting Luke to realize that he must eat healthy foods before having a treat, but Luke is not one to be talked into a behavior he's already chosen against.

Jack doesn't like to see his brother miss out so before I knew what was happening, Jack had moved one of the two squashes off Luke's plate telling Luke that he just had to eat one squash.

"Okay, that's fine I guess," says I....

Pretty soon, Jack has ripped the squash three more times until there is a tiny piece of globby squash on Luke's plate. Luke is insistently shaking his head and reaching for the cookie. Since he first was in a high chair at 7 months, Luke has been known for swiping off offending foods and he quickly had that squash bite on the floor. No worries! Jack had more subdivided bites to offer.

We all are eating our cookies at this point and Luke is now in tears, still reaching for "his". Jacob decides this kid is ready for bed and gets up to take him upstairs. Jack tries loading a bite of squash onto his own cookie to see if this will work for Luke.

NOOOO!!  The cries continue.

As Jacob unbuckles Luke from his seat, Jack impulsively takes his own cookie and pops it into Luke's mouth. Jacob and I both didn't see that one coming and before we could react, Luke instinctively covers his mouth with both hands somehow knowing that cookie might not get to stay in his mouth for long. Jack looked like he knew he was about to be in big trouble.

And then the moment was just perfect and I applaud Jacob for his long range, not reactive, parenting with project approach. (Read what we are reading.) Jacob said, "Jack, that shows that you have empathy which means that you have a kind heart. You didn't want Luke not to have a cookie and so you were willing to share your own. You have to understand that we were not giving Luke a cookie because we wanted to teach him a lesson about eating his dinner. "

At this point Jack has tears in his eyes !! so Jacob says "We're not mad at you.  It's hard for us to have to teach you guys lessons sometimes too."  (At this point Jacob has tears in his eyes too.)

This beautiful moment then moves to Jack saying, "Can I go listen to my story now?"  Because frameable parenting moments are like an old VHS that suddenly jumps to some old recording right as the music is swelling in the middle of a pivotal scene :)

I had to ignore the dishes and the overtired baby who is getting a bath upstairs and capture this sweet little Wednesday night moment. I love this little family of mine :)

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Happy Birthday Baby :)

We are reveling in Luke's birthday week. It started with his Big Papa, Grammy, Aunt Kristen, and cousins Billy and Baby O(wen) coming to visit this weekend. Sunday was birthday party day with MeeMaw and Team Carlisle (4 friends all in one family!).
At Storyland
Luke was super excited about his cake with "booberries" and kept sneaking blueberries pre-cake time. The best part of the party was sitting out on the cold porch with Luke (who knew it would be cold in NOLA on March 12th) and enjoying our cake together. I made a Copycat Whole Foods Chantilly Cake and convinced 3 Whole 30 eaters to cheat and try the end result!

And now, today, our youngest child is 2. Deep breaths. Down hormones!

Jack and Cora decorated a birthday chair for Luke and each picked out an old toy to gift Luke.

Luke celebrated with a doctor's appointment and a birthday party at school.  We arranged for his love interest, Cate, to attend, along with Cora. Because we are all zinging off the chantilly cake leftovers, I made healthy banana muffins instead of cake but I don't think the little friends minded.

Birthdays are exhausting!

And how else does one celebrate a 2 year old's birthday? He loves pizza and the park, so that was our evening plan. We were reminded, yet again, how not relaxing it is to go to a restaurant with all of our kids. The park was a much better fit.

Our 2 year old thinks nothing is too hard for him now!

2 year old updates:
- The hitting is still happening!  The last two park outings have resulted in hitting other kids. But Sunday at Urban South, Luke came up to me and said "people sharing" and then walked over and started giving toys to another child. And he is doing better with being willing to say that he's sorry if he hits. One step forward, one step back!

- He's amusing us with a new I Love You routine. At some point, Luke started saying "I love you apple!" which may have been his version of Cora/Jack's "I love you infinity." One night Jacob kept saying back to him "No, I love you apple" to which Luke replied "I love you orange!"  This totally sums up Luke - he's a witty guy who knows how to be funny.  Now our "I love yous" sound like:

Luke: "I love you apple"
Jacob: "I love you banana"
Luke: "I love you orange"
Jacob: "I love you pineapple"
Luke....."I LOVE YOU APPLE" (he runs out of fruits and since he has no other word to offer, his best effort at winning the exchange is to raise his voice)

Luke rubs deodorant all over his "botty" every day. Oh Luke.
LUKE - you entertain us and amaze us and have softened our lives these last two years!

You make all of us smile and I hope you loved your birthday :)

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Luke's 23 for 23

1. I've written monthly paper or online diaries for Jack, Cora, and Luke up to the point they turned 2.  Which is next month for this little guy...

Valentine Descriptors
2. We love a lot of what Luke says.  Some of our favorites: "What DEWing Da-DEE?"
3. "I see it" and "Raight Dere!" (his most southern sounding phrase)
4. "I love you," "I love you more" and "I love you most" are how we amp up the I love you exchange.
5. Luke likes the sound of the word NO coming out of his mouth.  This is demonstrated by how he stretches this word into multi-syllables: NNNo!  NeeOH!
6. Luke reminded us this month that he's nearing his second birthday as he's become a hitter. For a while, I was the only lucky one getting slapped, but then it extended to the rest of the family and now to innocent bystanders.
7. Luke is so much fun to read with. One of his favorites now is God's Dream by Desmond Tutu.  What a beautiful book.  I love how into it both he and Cora are.  He obviously understands how people feel sad. He just hasn't connected that to hitting yet...

8. One of his first non-board book favorites is Richard Scarry's Cars and Trucks and Things that Go. I love growing into a book. There is so much going on in these stories but right now we are just noticing what's on the page. Luke likes to look for "tall, tall cranes."

9. The "tall, tall crane" interest came from driving a lot on Tchoupitoulas. He also likes the "big bidge" and also likes the "little bidge" on Jeff Davis.
10. Sometimes from the back seat, he randomly shouts out "Not Dat Way!"  ??
11. When you ask him where Daddy is, he usually say "burdy" or "Daddy burdy time.  Lukey burdy time?"
12. Books, books, and more books. We have "reading parties" which just is an extended books time where I both read to the kids and we read our own books to ourselves (talk about an aha moment!) Luke was invited to his first reading party this month though he's a bit of a distraction as he pretty much just wants you to read to him. He will accept Cora or Jack reading to him.

13. He's grown 4 inches in 4 months! We thought he was our more average height child but that may be changing.
14. His appetite is strong! This may have something to do with the growth spurt. He can out-eat Cora for sure.
15. He likes wearing his "sandal shoes" now that it's practically summer here.He inherited two matching pairs of size 6.5 brown sandals - one from Jack and one from cousin Billy.
16. He's increasingly opinionated. He's more of his own person each day.
17. Since it's taken me two weeks to write this blog, I'm getting more and more evidence about our hitting problem.  I got publicly slapped several times at a birthday party and then Luke hit two other kids at the park this morning. I think we are being consistent - we work toward making him show gentle hands toward the offended person and have him say that he's sorry. If it's egregious or if he's not willing to make amends we plop him in a time out spot with his back facing the rest of the room/group. He's usually willing to apologize (though there have been a few times where he just yells NO! and hits (usually me) again) but so far we haven't seen any change in behavior...
18. He HATES being reprimanded and usually bursts into tears so we know he doesn't enjoy being chastised but he's obviously very interested in exploring his power which right now is the power of the fist.
19. I ordered Hands are Not For Hitting today.
20. And now for some pictures.  Luke's 2nd Mardi Gras
We live on the best corner! Personal viewing stand at the Valence St. Baptist Church

Again, perfect corner! Luke loved his play spot and even napped!

Still a thumb sucker! He's way more chill than Cora was at this age! She was a crazy MG toddler!

21. Both of these boys are growing!
Cal (and also Theo) at 1; Luke at almost 2
22. I know my snuggly baby days with Luke are limited so I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Krewe d'Etat parade with a sleeping baby in my lap!

23. I asked Luke how old he was going to be on his birthday and he said "Too much!"  No joke! That about sums it up!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

22 for 22

22 Observations at 22 Months

1. This was the month of "I-uh-won't-to."  Translation "I don't want to."  Used liberally.  Tante Sara, you're in trouble.
2. Luke's karaoke sessions have changed from solely Twinkle Twinkle to "ABCDEFG" and Row Row Your Boat.
3. We now have 3 children with opinions in the car. Jack and Cora are serious about listening to "their story" (a book on CD) and now Luke yells "Listen-Song!" and "1moresongmommy" at every pause. Thankfully it doesn't matter what type of song.
4. Luke has learned how to yell. He saw a bowl of apple slices in the car that I had brought for Jack's after school snack and even though I repeatedly explained that they weren't for him he repeatedly yelled, "ONE...AP...PLE...MOM...MY!"
5. It is so interesting to see his personality emerge and to try to guess where it will lead us.  The Jack and Cora we know today definitely were showing up at this age (him: intense and focused interests and her: wide swings of emotions).  Luke is still very cute and very sweet a lot but he is also opinionated, independent, and determined as well.
6. Our new nighttime routine consists of him sitting in his little toddler armchair and me leaning my back against it and reading our 3 nightly books.  I ask "Do you want to read in Mommy chair or Yu-Yu chair?"  and he always says "Yu-yu chair"
7. We often call him Yu-Yu which is the shortened-by-Luke version of our other nickname for him: Looty-loo.
8. He can now tell me about his day.  "Luke, what did you do at school today?"  Luke: "Play Toya."  "Play Momica"  "Play Tuten" - this is Toya his teacher, Monica the center director, and Houston his main classmate.
9. Luke's class continues to be tiny with Houston, about 6 months older than Luke and "Charm Baby" as Luke calls her who seems like just a baby at 13 months.  Everyone at the center knows Luke and I'm so lucky to have such a caring extended family there.
10. Luke's current favorite books are: My World (I've fallen in love with this lesser known Margaret Wise Brown book), Mama's Milk, and Karen Katz lift-the-flap books.
11. I'm still proudly nursing a toddler and while I get how it could seem odd if you've never done it, you also don't know what you are missing. Nursing a young baby is such a labor of love and blood, sweat, and tears at times. Nursing a toddler is such a beautiful chapter. For a few minutes, a few times a day, we both slow down. He calms down and gets re-centered. I calm down (thank you oxytocin) and get to connect with my baby in my arms. Luke has been tickled to death by the book Mama's Milk, one that was in my LLL library. On the cover there is a mama cat nursing her kittens and Luke says "Kitty cat drink mama milk" and laughs :) Then he usually says "Lukey drink mama milk." I highly recommend the book - anything to normalize breastfeeding!
12. Luke now says "Big poopy" when he poops. If it's super uncomfortable he'll also say "Change!" but otherwise he hates having his diaper changed.
13.  He's peed on the potty 3 times, more than a month ago. We have a little potty in the bathroom but aren't pushing it.
14. His appetite is huge and we've discovered a love for pasta and noodle dishes.
15. He still swipes his plate/bowl off his high chair when he's done, so we have to be quick. Oatmeal, pasta, ice cream, none of these things are fun when they splatter.
16. One method for coming downstairs we named "hiney scoot" and now Luke frequently is heard descending the stairs saying "Hiney-SCOOT" with a cute little squeak.
17. He just started calling Jacob Daddy-Waddy though it sounds more like "DAH-dee-WAH-dee"
18. He got to turn forward in his carseat and we're all happier!
19. Jack now sometimes gets Luke out of his crib in the morning and so we sometimes get visited by Luke rather than having to get out of bed to go get him. So far this is only positive.
20. Luke loves Cora's friend Cate :)  A lightbulb went off that Luke might always be a fan of Cora's friends :)
21. Luke says tons of words but you have to work to distinguish some of them. I love a baby voice and totally encourage baby speak!
22. We love this blonder-each day baby!
Good job Mommy, you took just 2 pictures this month :(

Friday, December 30, 2016

21 observations at 21 months

1: Most often heard from Luke this month "I do!  I do!"
2: Still an avid reader and delighted in his new book Planes Go from Santa
3: Loves to do puzzles and will happily sit, dump, complete, repeat!
4: Is super into songs, is a cute little dancer, and has turned our nursing sessions into Karaoke sessions, stopping to request "Tinkle, Tinkle" multiple times
5: Can sing the words to "Tinkle Tinkle" Little Star
6: Other favorite songs: Oh Christmas Tree and We Wish You a Merry Christmas - these songs were heard A LOT during our 7 hour Christmas drive to North Alabama
7: His eczema is responding well to Cerave (steroid free) cream and I'm grateful for the recommendation!
8: He was 27 lbs at his 21 month visit, 3 POUNDS(!) less than Jack was at that age but 3 ounces more than Cora
9: He still sucks his thumb and loves him some blankie - his teachers call him Linus

10: He loves doggies and "meows" and benefits from the fact that his aunts have dogs
11: Jacob has been heard saying "I just don't want him to grow up" and we both continue to get doses of peace in our life from this sweet baby and we are so grateful for his presence in our family.

12: Jack and Cora were generous gift givers to him for Christmas. Cora made him pictures and bought him a fruit bar with her own money. Jack built his name out of LEGOs and wrapped up some of his old toys.

13: Luke got a new chair from Grammy/Big Papa for Christmas and an ukulele from MeeMaw that were both big hits
Jack and Luke reading in Luke's new armchair
14: Luke didn't express much interest in present opening. He opted to nap during Christmas at MeeMaws and on Christmas morning.
15: He still loves and needs sleep and I feel like I deprived him of some needed sleep over break but after one day of him napping 10-1 and then being awake while Cora/Jack rested, I said "this does not a restful holiday break make :)"
16: He's too young to sit through church which he showed us on both Christmas Eve and Christmas morning services. Three kids in church is hard y'all!
17: We love talking to him. He has the sweetest way of responding "Yeah" when you ask him questions and he also likes to direct you by saying "Dat Way". We still think everything he says is adorable. He's an antidote to older children :)
18: But he's no angel. He's eaten a blue stamp, unrolled toilet paper, unspurled floss, dumped copious amounts of crayons, poured out our jar of cloves (multiple times) and other exciting exploits this last month.

19: He's learning a lot in his small little class and can "count" to 20 and "say" his ABCs with some skipping. The best part of it is his sweet little baby voice :)
20: He loves to play outside and to draw/paint.

21: He's blond, blue eyed, and oh-so soft and we all love him very much :)

Annual Celebration in the Oaks visit

Independent: climbs the rope barrier to find a comfortable spot under the lights