Friday, July 18, 2014

Jack Stories: Age 4.5

Jack the Fireman

Okay, if I don't start here, I won't accurately capture who Jack is at the moment.  Ladies and gentlemen, the fireman/firetrucks interest has now been going strong for three years.  I imagine he'll be a fireman for the 4th Halloween in a row this fall.

I think it could get blurry between how strong a child's natural interest in something is and then how much that interest is fostered by supportive parents.  We've visited the New Orleans fire departments so often, he had fire fighters visit his third birthday party.  I've taken him to the library countless times to search the New Orleans library system for fire books and submitted many requests to get those sent to our local branch.  And we did drive across the country and let Jack stop at lots of fire stations along the way.

Whether that's the chicken or the egg, I can't be sure, but Jack's interest in fire fighting remains very strong.  He's incredibly knowledgeable from his extensive reading and touring.  And he has plans to be a "regular fireman" (he doesn't want to be the fire chief as they don't fight fires) at a station with a pole.

He had a fun first in Jackson, when Uncle Chris set him up to visit the forestry service fire division.  (Uncle Chris works for the forestry service.)  Jack got to climb aboard the truck, but that wasn't new to him, as most fire fighters are incredibly generous with their time and their vehicles.  But these firefighters let Jack shoot the hose.  Now that was special!

In Louisiana

In New Mexico

In Wyoming

Jack the Reader

Jack continues to love to read.  On a day we've visited the library, he wants nothing more than to be left alone to "read" his bag of books.  (As a literacy specialist, I firmly believe reading is more than reading words; Jack reads pictures and is developing awesome reading strategies and comprehension skills as a result.) He reads daily during his rest time.   We read to him before rest and night time.  And he insists on picking out books to sleep with, which he then reads by the summer daylight that filters in until 8:00.

Wildfires, fire trucks, and firemen are his main interests, but he's also a fan of police and ambulance related stories and most fiction.  He loves Richard Scarry books, Berenstain Bears, and we've read the first three Laura Ingalls Wilder books together.  Jacob is now reading Shiloh to him.  Other good first chapter books he's enjoyed were Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Fantastic Mr. Fox by Roald Dahl. He has a book of 100 classic stories and he loves that one as well. He also loves to listen to books on CD, which I check out from the library. His favorites are Arthur (as in the aardvark) stories, but this week he's been listening to Aesop's Fables repeatedly.

Jack the Talker

On the one hand, we love listening to Jack-speak and he keeps us laughing a lot.  On the other hand, this kid can talk non-stop until your eyes glaze over.  He also is a smart little character, so watch out.  Amidst his never-ending banter, he'll reword things and you'll find that in your dazed out state, you just nodded your head or agreed to what you just said was not okay!

He's got generally good manners and does know to say "Excuse Me" when he wants to interrupt, but if you aren't quick enough to divert your attention you'll find yourself the victim of an "excuse-me-excuse-me-excuse-me" chant with a child climbing up your body and speaking right into your ear.  Recently, Jacob, who must have read some article, told Jack we were going to try a new tactic.  When Jack wants to interrupt, he should say "excuse me" one time and put his hand on our arm.  We will then cover his hand to let him know we heard him and then he needs to wait until we turn our attention to him. This has helped some.

Jack the Messy Eater

We've jokingly said that Jack should put a cup under his chin when eating fruit and then he can just finish his meal with some fruit juice, since so much comes out of his mouth when he eats... but he really should.  Jacob and I are both pretty neat, so it can be hard during a meal to be sitting across from a 4.5 year old.  Or maybe it's on us and we need to set higher expectations for this particular 4.5 year old.  We had cherry pie this week and the first night, Jack never picked up his fork, but instead managed to destroy the pie with hands only.  For leftovers, my mom told him he must use his fork.  He did, but then she found him wiping up the leftover filling with his whole hand and licking it off.

In the blueberry bushes...again
Jack the Artist

It's always nice when a Christmas gift is well utilized.  Jack loves his art easel and can spend 30 minutes on the dry erase side.  He draws a scene, puts it on fire, then draws firemen and trucks, and puts out the fire by covering everything with water.  His scenes have evolved into 13 story apartment buildings and multiple engines.  It's an awesome independent activity!!

Jack, my Heart

As I shared, this kid is just sweet.  He wants to be everyone's friend and he finds the joy in life so easily.  He is still a snuggler and my sweet little boy, but he's growing up fast!  Look, no more training wheels!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

My heart and my spirit

I sometimes think of Jack as my heart and Cora as my spirit.  This anecdote perfectly captures why.

On our vacation to Jackson Hole, the full family (minus Claire who couldn't quite handle the kitsch of a touristy attraction in her hometown) went to the Bar-T Ranch for a covered wagon ride into the mountains for dinner and a show.  Chris, Jackson resident for 10 years now, gamely came along.  It was a super friendly affair with the chance to get to know your wagon-mates on the picturesque trek up the mountain trail.

Jack and Cora were both into it.  Jack because he's read Laura Ingalls Wilder books with me and it was a little dip into history for him.  Cora because we were riding behind "horseys."

At the dinner, my little musical baby was clapping in beat to every song and enjoying being with her adoring male fans: her daddy, her Big Papa, and her Uncle "Tis".

For the "She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain" number, there was audience participation and all kids were called up.  Jack went up right away and after a few minutes, Cora decided to join.  As soon as she walked up, the youngest by several years, Jack protectively put his hands on her shoulders.  As the emcee gave directions and talked to each volunteer, Jack would lean down and whisper things to Cora.  And he'd periodically kiss her cheek and hug her.  SIGH!!

Cora was paying rapt attention to everything going on as each volunteer got their instructions for the song.  When it came to the childrens' part (rub your tummy), the emcee walked over to the kids and Cora stared wide eyed at him without making any other motion.  He stopped the song to say "This one is just precious!!"  And then he put the mike up to her mouth and what did my little just-turned-two spirited child say?


Heart and spirit.  The best gifts.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Cora Stories: Age 2

I've felt twinges of guilt after posting about how I've found there are times you can like one child more....even though it's true.  So what's been especially nice about our two weeks of family vacation is how I'm seeing that a change in routine/environment/pace can really reacquaint you with your children.

So here's the first of two posts of what I've gotten to know/see about my kids.

First up: Cora: Age 2

Road Trip Cora

Cora's been a handful lately.  Jacob and I can both attest to this.  Add to that the understandable concerns about a toddler in a carseat for 29 hours of driving and I was a little worried how Cora might do on our big road trip to Wyoming...

Well I was wrong.  As Cora's seatmate, I got to spend a ridiculous amount of quality time with her over four days and it was great!  She had the best seat in the car.  She was in the middle of the second row of our rented Suburban in a front-facing, cushiony carseat.  It was like having a picture window view from a padded armchair.  I was jealous!

She loved her seat and she was way more interested in her surroundings than Jack was.  She was close enough to Big Papa and Grammy in the front seat to interact and she kept up a steady steam of talk with them and me.  She had many snuggly moments when she'd pull my arm across her, wrap her arms around it, and cuddle my hand to her cheek.  :)

Sure she got antsy by the last hour of each day's driving, she had some difficulty falling asleep for naps, and she kept me very busy with lots of requests, but overall we all (me, Big Papa, and Grammy) really enjoyed this time to "hang out" with Cora.

Verbal Cora

From a child that put her first sentence together two months ago, she is talking non-stop now.

She is insistent that you answer her when she talks to you and she just talks louder and repeats what she's saying until you acknowledge her.  (This was also funny in the captive audience arena of the car.)

What she most loves to do is run through checklists.  Every day in the car she'd remind us all of where we were seated.  (And she had me move the one time I thought of sitting in a different spot.)  Amusingly, as we entered a barren stretch of New Mexico, Cora piped up: "Mama wawa?  May-may wawa?  Papa wawa?  Jack wawa?  Me wawa?" Thanks for thinking of our safety Cora.

I've had a lot of opportunity to listen to her talk, so I've figured out she can say all her vowel sounds + "b", "d", "h", "j", "m", "n", "w", and "y" consonant sounds.  She has a big vocabulary but most words need interpretation since she's missing half her consonant sounds.  Think of her saying "Cora" and you get the picture.

She's at the fun age where she constantly is saying things we didn't know she could say/conceptualize.  My favorite Cora-talk story comes from when we were eating dinner at the end of the final day of driving.  Cora had a bagel with peanut butter along with fruit.  She wasn't eating much and announced she was "All done!"  I assumed she was just too tired to eat, so I took her bagel and ate it instead of putting peanut butter on another bagel for myself.  Well Cora reached back later and grabbed her plate and ate some of her fruit.  My dad made a joke about how he was sorry she couldn't have her bagel but I'd eaten it.  A few more minutes passed and Cora asked for a cookie.  My mom said she was sorry, but Cora hadn't eaten much dinner.  Cora then gives everyone at the table a serious look and says "Mama ate my bread."  From a child who just started making sentences, this was hilariously surreal.

Stinker Cora

She still is keeping us on our toes with a few difficult behaviors.  She is very attached to me and often cries when I leave.  (Ask my mom how she cried for me all the way down the mountain...) When I'm around she's always saying "Mama hold!" but it's not enough for me to pull her into my lap.  She says "Stand up mama" or "get up mama."  And she'll say it over and over well past the point I've said no.

The 9-hour drive to catch our return flight from Denver didn't go as smoothly as the drive to Wyoming.  As I tried to nap, Cora squealed (FOR TWENTY SOLID MINUTES) "No mama sleep!"  "Mama wake up!"  "Mama no close eyes!"

And when we were stranded overnight in Denver, she held us all hostage in the hotel with her "Mama hold!" screams.  This child has a STRONG will and she will drive you to the point of near insanity without backing down.

BUT, overall, this special time together has really brought out all that is precious and beautiful about this little girl.  She has so much joy and spirit in such a cute little package.  And she can be so very loving.  It's been fun having all this extra time to hang out with her!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Let It Go

I'm probably one of the few Americans that made it to May 2014 without hearing the Frozen song "Let it Go."  Maybe that comes from having a 4.5 year old boy.

The first time I heard this song was toward the end of my miscarriage as I was overseeing a student field trip to the movie Frozen at The Prytania Theater.

I wasn't looking for a theme song, but that song will forever be linked to this experience.  The day of the field trip was my first attempt at reentering my life.  I was really committed to the idea of holding it together after five days of falling apart.  Luckily the theater was dark when that song came on.

The song is emotional and the refrain just got to me.  For me, a miscarriage was like having something you thought was safe in your arms, ripped away from you.  But not all at once. Tentatively at first so that there was hope you might not have to let go, but then gradually more certainly, so that a happy fullness slowly, achingly, became a sad emptiness.

Let it go? I didn't want to let this pregnancy go.  I didn't want to have a miscarriage.  I didn't want to NOT be pregnant.  When I first heard the song, I was wanting everything that was happening in my body to stop.  And I felt like I was on an emotional roller coaster that I wanted off of.

I pulled the song up on YouTube a week or so later and it brought on wracking, head on the table, sobs that left both me and Jacob feeling like, "Damn, but I thought you were doing better?!"

In an effort to disassociate the song from my sadness, I let Cora sit with me and watch some Frozen songs as we are just letting her watch TV for the first time.  She was spell-bound with rapt attention and I found her later that day singing "Eh-ih-go, eh-ih-go, eh-ih-go."  That helped.

But now what I'm wondering is when/how/should I let this experience go?  I've had the kindest friends who've shared their own miscarriage experiences with me.  I've seen them move on and be happy and so I feel confident that will be my experience too.  And for the vast part of my days, I do feel normal and happy.  But the sadness is still there and part of me can't/doesn't know how to let it go completely.

Monday, June 09, 2014

Happy Birthday Cora!

Breakfast in bed for a 2 year old involved co-opting the guest bed and laying down a picnic blanket!

Cora's present from Jack, a hand-decorated piggy bank complete with coins he shared with her

Present from Daddy: The Girl and the Bicycle by his friend Mark Pett - a tearjerker!

2 year old Miss Priss is off to her first day of summer camp at her school, the Child Development Program.

Lunch with Daddy

Running around Daddy's office was the best part

Now I can face forward!

 Nap and then dinner outside, per Cora's request

 Ice cream at Creole Creamery

Present from Mommy: "A Baby Girl Named Cora" ( - pretty easy to make your own book!)

I love you!

Friday, June 06, 2014

What Was Lost

I started this blog to keep a record of what happened as the Landry Family grew and grew up.  My first regular posts were weekly ones in the early days of my pregnancy with Cora.  I'd write the posts and then save them as drafts, to be published later when we'd widely shared the news we were pregnant.

In April and May, I found myself doing this again as we were excited to be expecting baby #3.  In mid-May, I experienced a miscarriage.  One day, I imagine I'll want to share more about what this experience was like.  For now, suffice to say, it has been heart-wrenching, unexpected, and so very, very sad.

I've been debating about whether to write about it.  But then again, I'd already written about it in these three special posts detailing how I was feeling to be pregnant, for the third time.  As I know so many women can relate, a miscarried pregnancy is still a very real pregnancy.  For a time, it was as alive and hope-filled as the pregnancies that bring us our children that we get to hold and know.

So I share that I've had a miscarriage because I want to share how happy and how special it was to be pregnant with this child, if even for a short time.  It is definitely a part of our family's story.

Our Life in Children's Books
Pregnant for the third time
Me and My 3 Kids

If you know of anyone who has had a miscarriage, I highly recommend the book What Was Lost: A Christian Journey through Miscarriage.  This book has been serving as a special companion through the experience, even more so for me as it was written by the minister who married Jacob and me, a loving voice through a difficult time.

Me and My 3 Kids

May 11, 2014: Mother's Day

Now when I'm out with both Jack and Cora, I keep having the thought "Wow!  Here I am out with my THREE kids!"  Now the third one is a little sesame seed conveniently tucked away inside, but I know how quickly seven-eight more months will pass and all three of those kids will be outside!

I continue to feel such peace and happiness about this baby.  I'm thinking of him/her as "the tiny one."  There is a lot of impending change for the Landrys but that doesn't make me feel any less ready for this new life.  Jacob and I have always wanted at least three kids and the timing, while not fully intended, is feeling really right.

I can't wait to experience this pregnancy with both Jack and Cora.  We are waiting to tell Jack because he already tells strangers whatever is on his mind, so we want to get a little further along before equipping him to spill the news right and left.  And Cora loves babies.  I want to help her feel excited about having her own baby.

I've been a little nervous this week because I still feel pretty great.  My memories of early pregnancy are decidedly not feeling great, but I found out earlier this time around, so I might find the nausea is just around the corner.  It's a bit ironic, because of course having an easy pregnancy would be GREAT since I already have two active little children.  But in my experience, a healthy pregnancy is a sick pregnancy, at least for a while.  Only time will tell.

I do have occasional waves of nausea, but very minor.  (I just eat a little snack or distract myself.)  I've also taken four naps this week which is unheard of, so I'm definitely feeling tired.  Jacob and I both went to bed at 9pm on Friday and somehow our children let us sleep till after 7am on Saturday, yet I still passed out for a catnap the next afternoon.

I can forget I'm pregnant during the day, but at night I feel a density in my belly, have a hard time getting comfortable, and have been waking to pee!  Oh how well I remember how changed sleeping becomes!!

So I guess I'll have my arms even more full next Mother's Day.  What a blessing.

Pregnant for the third time

May 2, 2014

And I'm excited :)

I'm the big 4 weeks and 4 days, so I'm still at a point where I completely forget this new development and then something will remind me and it's like Wow; WOW! (!!)

And I'm so pleasantly surprised how relaxed I am and how genuinely excited I am!  I feel just as in awe as I felt with finding out the first or second time.  I've been looking at Jack's 47 lb, crazy-full-of-life, full cheeked and blue eyed self and being like WOW - this was you once.  Who is this new child inside?  And looking at Cora, I'm just reminded of how quickly we went from finding out we were pregnant with her to her becoming more and more of a PERSON every day.

We didn't plan this baby and I PLAN things.  And yet I feel so relaxed!  Crazy!

I will say that finding out you are pregnant with your third child is a little different in the immediate minutes afterward.  Jacob and I were both like "huh."  (And we just left the pregnancy test sitting on the porch for a while, you know, slowly letting it sink in.)

I wasn't trusting the result of test one.  (Yes, you can potentially make errors when taking a pregnancy test.)  Jacob felt confident.  (He wasn't even in the room when I took it, yet somehow he felt confident from his not-in-the-body-in-question position that I was indeed pregnant.)  He said "don't waste money on another test, just wait a few days and see what happens."  Easy for him to say.  I made an executive decision (being the one in the body in question and all) to go get another pregnancy test the next day and it was only after that test, that I felt fully convinced.  Which is ironic, because I'd been thinking I was pregnant for days at that point.

I like how I become so much more attuned to what's happening in my body during pregnancy.  It's so cool to feel changes and know that there's this miraculous thing happening out of sight and even out of mind sometimes.

I've felt physically great all week and it's hard to imagine that changing.  Food has tasted great and I've been running even!  (For the first time in months!  Oh darn, what timing!)

I'd thought I might wait a bit to tell anyone, but I was feeling so excited tonight that I called my parents.  Of course I have told Cora, but she just laughs and laughs when I mention there is a baby in my belly.  She's a big fan of checking out her (or anyone else's) belly-button so she thinks I'm just mixing up the normal game.  :)

Haven't told Jack yet as he's not one to keep anything quiet!

I'm just really happy right now :)  Baby #3!!!

Our Life in Children's Books

April 28, 2014

First it was:

Then it was:

And soon it will be:

Baby Landry #3 due early January 2015!!

Friday, May 30, 2014

How Jack became the first Owen/Landry to break a bone

You know the inner battle between not wanting to be overprotective and having day-mares about what might happen to your child at any given moment?  I do!  A few weeks back at the park, I was having the thought "I've got to let Cora roam more freely; I've got to trust that I don't need to follow her every second."  Five seconds later, when I wasn't following her, she fell six feet off a play structure.  Naturally.

No broken bones though.  In fact neither I, Jacob, nor any of our siblings has ever broken a bone that we can recall.

Fast forward to Memorial Day weekend and Jack is having a BLAST on the water slide at his great aunt's house in Jennings, LA.  This was the same 8-foot slide that last year had me glued to its side, cringing every time he climbed it as my overactive imagination saw him toppling backwards off the top.  Well, this year he went up it at least thirty times without incident.  I gave him space to be a four year old boy and while Jacob and I were sitting at the opposite side of the pool with Cora, we saw his little head pop up over the top...and then plummet downward.

All fun earlier in the day
To Jacob's credit, he ran just as fast I did around the pool.  Jack was in a heap on the concrete, wailing.  We hadn't seen how he'd landed, so we gingerly picked him up.  He was clutching his arm, which had a little blood on the wrist, saying it hurt.  We sat with him on a porch swing for a while but he wasn't calming down.  Jack's not one to cry for long, but we thought he might just be overtired after a full day of playing in the pool.  So we took him inside and he fell asleep on the couch.  (With me hovering beside him; I have heard too many stories about concussions.) 

We woke him after a little while and when he stood up, he started sobbing again and clutching his arm, so we felt like we had our answer at that point.  We took him to the local ER and an x-ray showed two buckle fractures in his left arm, near the wrist.  He was sent home with a splint and instructions to follow up with an orthopedist on Monday. 

Jacob and I were so proud of Jack!  We've already seen he's a model patient.  He's a curious guy and likes attention, so the comings and goings of a hospital interest him.  Both this visit and at his recent ear surgery, he was the one answering all the questions.  And so matter of factly too.  He has been sticking to his "4 and one quarter" answer when asked his age, which always gets a smile.  When he was asked if he needed a wheel chair to go to the X-ray area, he looked at the nurse oddly and shook his head, probably thinking "It's my arm that's hurt, not my legs!"

He didn't need too much pain medicine between Saturday and Monday and was able to get his cast on Monday, Memorial Day, at Children's Hospital.  We are so lucky to have this awesome all-needs facility a five minute drive from our house.  (He's been there a few times at this point.)  Jack loves to check to see if the helicopter is on the roof whenever we are there.

There was no question on the color of the cast.  Red. 

Now Jack had not seemed down by the broken arm, but I was really sad for the guy!  Would this mean the end of his 2014 t-ball career?  A summer of no swimming?  What about the four day road trip with Grammy and Big Papa where we were planning to live it up in the hotel pools each night?  But Jack's break was "the best possible kind" according to the doctor and he'll get his cast off in 3 weeks, one day before our summer vacation and road trip. 

That's a happy ending to this story.  And in case you're wondering, I'm sure I'll be stationed back by the water slide next year.