Saturday, August 29, 2015

My 5 month olds

Here they are:

Jack

Cora

Luke

This is such a sweet stage.  Nice and sturdy, super loving and interactive, immobile :)  All our babies were 19 lbs at 5 months, so lots of squishy sweetness :)

Monday, August 24, 2015

Why I know you'll do great in Kindergarten

You are kind.

I'm always trying to think of conversation starters at dinner, so tonight, I asked "What is one kind thing you did and what is one kind thing someone did for you today?" ... "Jacob?"  While Jacob was talking, I saw a light flash in Jack's eyes and he jumped in "When I saw someone crying at school, I was thinking about asking them to sit by me, but both spots by me were already taken."  I love that he had this impulse. (Jacob did add, "well, were the spots by that kid taken?" ) I also really love that the conversation we had last week about "what would you do if you saw someone feeling sad" flashed through his mind in a real life moment out in the world.  

You are curious.

All the words that come to mind when asked to describe you are synonyms with curious.  You just plain love to learn.  We have 8 books out from the library on the Great Chicago Fire; we have requests in for books about astronauts.  You hear about something, you want to know more, and you track down the info (i.e. you hound us relentlessly until we read it/look it up/request it.)  You love "why."  You know you are going to learn to read this year and I'm so excited to see the power this gives you.

You are ready.

With you at Kindergarten today, I felt oddly at peace.  I know you will encounter many situations and new experiences out in the world, but I trust the little person you are becoming and I know you are ready to try, to fail, to learn, to succeed, to grow.

It's not all sunshine and roses.  You can be so erratic, but there is so much goodness in you and, as a former teacher, I would have loved having a Jack in my class :)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Luke at 5 Months

Luke's life has had big changes in the last month, although some things have stayed the same:

He's still chubby, chubby and he's still our sweet, sweet baby.
5 months: 19 lbs - just like his big brother and sister at that age!

No visible teeth, but LOTS of drooling and gnawing!

He is now the most eligible bachelor at the daycare center at my work.  He had a ridiculously sweet three week entree into the world of daycare being one of two babies at the center.  Our center is a mix of care for staff children and children of our accelerated high school students.  The high school babies didn't start until mid-August, so now there are a total of four babies with his teacher.  Four babies makes the room a more hopping place and Luke isn't getting those same amazing naps he had been at home.  Last weekend, he was home for a 3 day stretch and he was still napping 6-7 hours a day, like he had been pre-daycare, but, where he might take a 2.5-3 hour nap at home, his daycare naps tend to be 45 minutes. Yikes!!  I hope we can figure this out over the next month.  It's a huge boon that I work part time because he gets some breaks to nap at home, but he does have some longer days at daycare and I want to know that he's getting the rest he needs.

Luke and I both love his teacher, Ms. Larita.  She's a blessing - great care and very easy to talk to, which is important since I am able to pop over and nurse him for about half his feedings.  I also have been nursing him upon arrival.  This makes sense for a lot of reasons:
1) It's easier to get out of the house without needing to feed him first.
2) It's a gentler way of dropping him off.
3) It makes it clear that his belly is full, so, even if he's fussy, it won't look like hunger is the culprit.
4) It maximizes the time between feedings.

Because of less optimal napping, Luke's bedtime has inched up to between 6-6:30, with some 5:30 days this month!  I still wake him to nurse between 9:30-10 and he still sleeps all the way through the night, often with me waking him at 6:30.

With the big kids starting school next week, I hope we can get on a better rhythm as a whole family because I'm done with having every day/week be different!  If we have a better schedule, I think it will help Luke have a better schedule.  Not that he's complaining.  He continues to be the easiest baby - adapting to whatever each day brings.

 Other big adventures this month:
First trip to SC to visit Grammy and Big Papa

Time with cousin Billy (both boys post-nap)

Flight home alone with Mom - the precious moments of "only-child-dom"

Reunion with brother Jack who didn't make the SC trip

Luke was baptized on the 16th and it was such a special day.  Luke is our third baby baptized by our pastor, Callie, at Rayne, our church.  Our Rayne family is certainly an extension of family for us here in New Orleans.
Wearing my big brother's baptism outfit and a kiss from my big sister




Luke is such a joy to our family!  We think he's our little blondie with more light peach fuzz appearing daily :)



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