Monday, June 20, 2016

Sibling Rivalry


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!


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 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!