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Posts Tagged ‘Look what I can do!’

I guess it’s pretty clear that Ezra has been the star of the show here for the last 16 months. This is for two reasons, one of them being that it’s really sort of tricky to navigate what you should share about your kids once they get older and the second is TIME, as in, I don’t have any to write more than one substantial post a month. To remedy this, I’m going to try to do a quick family update each month when I post my photo sets so I can write down some of the cool/annoying/awesome stuff the rest of us are up to and at least give the illusion that our world doesn’t revolve around a despot toddler king {which it 100% does}. Ezra will still have his own post for the time being because he is my babaaaay and I’m not ready to let that go just yet.

So Let’s start with me. As it turns out I’ve become a bit obsessive and have absolutely loved documenting our every day family life over on Instagram for the My 365 Project. It has been a HUGE push to better my photography skills which are now somewhere between Does Not Suck and Can Sometimes be Okay When I’m Not Screwing It All Up. I take out my big camera pretty much every day and I love reading articles and watching video tutorials when I can squeeze them in. Recently I watched one about Newborn Photography which blew my mind… too bad there were so damn many precious, tiny babies in those videos, distracting me from actually retaining any of the information.

Here are my favorite shots from February 14, {the whole set is here}:

3.5.1 3.5.2 3.5.3 3.5.4 3.5.5 3.5.6 3.5.7 3.5.8 3.5.9

Other than being a chauffeur, homework overlord and packer of backpacks for the older two, I’m enjoying the calm before the {dance} storm. Competition fees have been turned in and we’re hoping one of the costumes will be handed out for decorating this week sometime. UPDATE!!: I now have a fringey pile of orange and pink and approximately 800 stones to affix to it! {Also: Sweet baby Jesus in heaven, please bless our room mom for not including those teeny/tiny/miniscule devil sequins, I am forever in her debt, AMEN.}   So: YAY! Let’s get this done! And: Oh God. I’m going to die from E-6000.

Here Lies Christy, who at 2am after 14 straight hours of gluing varying sizes of irritatingly small, iridescent stones, mistook her wine for the E-6000, gluing her throat shut. It was a good death. RIP.

Moving on to Bill… You remember him right? That guy I married? I wouldn’t really know since he’s done nothing but workworkwork for the last few months. Thankfully, he’s able to do part of this in the evenings on our couch but still, it’s been a really busy time for him both with work, personal projects and the side stuff. We divide and conquer from the hours of 4:30-8pm and then it’s back to his laptop until 11ish. Since he likes to watch stuff while he works, we pick a series to binge-watch so at least we have the pretense of together time. Against my better judgement, I let Bill choose the show this go-round and he picked Breaking Bad. We tried this show once a couple of years ago and after the third episode I told Bill if he wanted to keep watching it that was fine but I just couldn’t spend my relaxing time watching something so painful that I wanted to throw myself off a bridge after each episode. And yeah, I know, Best TV Show Of All Time, Is One of The Greats, yada-yada-accolade-cakes. I get that, I really do. My opinion though {which was right on the money after those first 3 episodes {re:THE PAINFULNESS} and unchanged when we watched it all the way through}, is that the first 2 seasons were pretty meh, save a couple of episodes, then in the third season they turned the characters into 100% unlikable, reprehensible shells of humans. There was no fading into gray for me, really. They went from conflicted, desperate and confused to The Most Terrible People and by the last third of the 4th season things blew up.

I’m not going to turn this family update into a BB recap but since it has dominated my time with my husband for the last 2 months I will say this. The writing and acting in the last 2 seasons was truly smart and really just downright phenomenal. But. And this is a big, huge, hairy but. I can’t handle watching shows where everyone is awful. There is no one to root for on this show, save maybe one, and even this guy has done so many despicable things and suffered such terrible losses, there’s no way he’ll ever come out functional. This makes each episode something you have to suffer through. Maybe other people could root for Walter White {but you’re probably a closet sociopath, FYI}. Not me though, not even at the end and I think it’s sort of troublesome if you actively want your protagonist to bite it. I get the whole idea of the “anti-hero” but man, I just found the whole thing to be so reprehensible, and even though I appreciate the art of it, {TL;DR!} you could not pay me to watch that shit again.

Okay, stay tuned for next month’s Bill update when I talk about True Detective, Scandal or House of Cards, because that is what our marriage has turned into at this point.

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Rowan: My first born has been a busy little bee with school and dance. She officially turned 8 and a half which is still just so weird to say. My kid is like, old and stuff. School has been going really well. So well, I feel like anything I write here will just sound like obnoxious bragging. I can take pretty much zero credit for this anyway, it just turns out I am raising the non-magical Hermione Granger, complete with tears when school is cancelled for the 6th snow day of 2014. She’s tested out of the curriculum reading assessments through third grade. She gets herself up early so she can read for fun and while math isn’t her favorite and she has to work hard, she gets great marks. She has an excellent memory so history tests are super fun for her and she aces them. Most weeks I forget to go over her spelling words with her {super mom, I know} and she has brought home a 15/15 every week, save one, the entire year. Do you see what I mean about the bragging? I sound like a total asshole right now but I don’t care. She works hard. She’s so independent. And I’m so proud of her.

Here is Hermione/Rowan reading a math book. For fun. Listen, guys. I know I was there and all when she was born and I'm fairly certain they placed her directly into my arms but there is just no possible way she can be my kid.

Here is Hermione/Rowan reading a math book before bed. For FUN. Listen, guys. I know I was there and all when she was born and I’m fairly certain they placed her directly into my arms but there is just no possible way she can be my kid. Like ZERO percent chance. Back me up, everyone who knows me…

Conversely, dance has been rough for her this year. I touched on this a few months ago, about the challenges of the flexibility amidst the other choreography and how it’s been tough for her. Rowan isn’t a Career Dancer. She doesn’t have the natural flexibility. She doesn’t have a family member that was or still is a dancer that can help her at home {for free} with the intricacies. She doesn’t have room in her house that she can practice without hitting the couch or a coffee table or another human. She also doesn’t have parents who have a huge disposable income for $50 worth of private lessons a week. Though this has always been the case for her, it was made really apparent this year as so many of the girls at the studio are doing this extra stuff. Rowan has always been very happy to just be a part of the group and work her hardest but based on all the extras the other kids are doing she’s starting to fall behind and feel what she’s contributing isn’t good enough for her team.

In most cases it’s not a matter of dance mom one-up-man-ship, but that all these kids really love dance, want to do their very best and they have very supportive parents that are making that happen for them. And while I personally feel some of it is getting a little out of hand, if it works for the individual family then that’s thier choice to make . Unfortunately, it doesn’t work for us which will be a tricky road to navigate if Rowan wants to keep dancing competitively. In the meantime we’ve done what we can to help her through. We share private lessons with others so they’re not so spendy. We go to open gym so she can work on flexibility instead of paying $30 an hour to work one-on-one with a gymnastics coach. She shows up every day ready to work her butt off and she really does. We practice at home, couches, coffee tables and other humans be damned. I feel guilty, like I’m not doing enough to support her sometimes, but the reality is, dance isn’t our family’s only reality and I just have to make peace with that and hope Rowan understands when the other girls are progressing in a way that she isn’t.

I will say that the coolest thing to witness was a few weeks ago when parents were invited in to watch and the instructor was working on turns with them, which need some work all around. Some of the girls have been doing these turns for well over a year or two in various solos and small groups but a little over half have just started them in earnest since January and Rowan was having trouble finding the rhythm of them. She struggled the Tuesday before big time and when her teacher asked her to do it in front of everyone I held my breath, fighting the urge to throw my hands over my eyes but… she did okay, and compared to where she was the week before, okay was AWESOME. And when she was done her teacher gave her an approving smile and the other girls clapped for her and it was so, so sweet. She really is in with a great group of very kind kids, which is important to us because she spends so much time there.

3.5.12

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After a completely activity-free fall, Keaton has been enjoying swimming lessons, a basketball clinic and joining the boys/partners dance at the studio. Swimming has been going well for him I think, but it’s stressful because Bill has to handle the two boys while I take Rowan to ballet. Ezra goes to baby swim from 6-6:30pm and Keaton does level 3 from 6:30-7pm. I haven’t seen Ezra at all and have only been able to watch Keaton 1.5 times which makes me feel shitty but just the way things worked out this time around.

Basketball was… sort of hilarious. Keaton definitely has an aptitude for sports; he has a good eye and great coordination. Since he’s never had trouble picking these sorts of things up, I thought this would transfer to basketball but it totally did not. The six sessions he had, he made a total of 8 baskets. He is not tall, on the contrary, he is a peanut compared to the other boys and while his fancy footwork was awesome while playing defense, you could totally tell they were the feet of a dancer, not a ball player. Still, the whole point was to get him out of the house for a couple of hours on Saturdays and to have fun, and both of these things were accomplished so I’ll call it a win while recognizing that we are NOT raising a hoops star.

3.5.10

In January we were asked if Keaton was interested in doing the big boys’ number at the studio. At first he didn’t want to do it and I practically had to drag him there but after a few practices he fell back in love with the booty-shaking and I’ll admit, it’s been pretty fun to watch him again. It was most definitely the right decision for him and our family sanity to pull him from the line numbers but I’m glad he’s still able to dance in some capacity~ plus it will give him something to do one of the days we’re in Florida for Nationals this June.

School has been going really well for him. He loves his teacher, his classmates and has gotten a green light every day so far. His reading skills have really taken off in the last month. He can now read Frog and Toad style books all by himself and while getting him to stop jumping around the living room like a maniac can be hard after a long day at school, once he gets settled in he really gets into the story. I’m so proud of how great he’s doing although I will say, he has been having some attitude and listening problems at home that are driving both his father and I nuts. I think a lot of it has to do with the fact that he is the child that requires the least amount of our time and energy. He’s so laid back and easy-going so we tend to just let him do his own thing which sometimes results in him feeling left out, and then he acts out, not terribly, but just enough to push our buttons. I hate that it’s come to this so we’re trying to make an extra effort to spend one-on-one time with him in hopes that the attitude and listening issues will work themselves out.

Okay! Wow! I’m… gonna stop now. That was really, really long. I had a lot to catch up on but the good news is, that shouldn’t be an issue if I keep this up month to month. Of course this is me we’re talking about so no guarantees. Hope everyone made it though February alive and here’s looking to somewhat of a thaw by the end of March.

 

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I distinctly remember the moment Rowan turned on me. My sweet, happy child, the baby who people always asked, as she smiled toothlessly at them, “Does she EVER cry? She’s so easy-going!” Just after she turned 14 months, I was walking through the mall when she arched her back in my arms, the toddler signal that she wanted to be released to try out her new-found ability to walk on her own two feet, a little trick she had only learned a few weeks before. I didn’t want to set her down but she was persistent so I plopped her at my feet and reached for her hand. In the past she had willingly grasped it without argument but as I bent down to enfold the tiny bit of pudgy knuckles in my grip, she was… not there. In a 10 second time frame she had made her way 20 feet ahead of me and holy crap, when did she learn how to run? Arms flailing, pigtails flying in the wind, she was FREE.

I spent the next, oh, 4-5 years of my life painstakingly trying to contain that girl’s independent spirit. Trying to find the balance of not squashing it all-together, but getting her to just please put her shoes on without a 20 minute argument/meltdown. Keaton was such a miserable little guy for his first 14 months but miraculously, somewhere just before 15 months he transformed into this happy-go-lucky, easy-going little fellow that, sure, pulled a few typical assy toddler moves {in contrast to his sister he was super clingy}, but he didn’t have the attention span nor the motivation to have tantrums and also was not driven to destroy us like his sister was during the toddler years.

So now here we are with Ezra, at this pivotal moment of toddler development and I am maybe a little frightened of what the coming weeks/months/years have in store for us. If there was a spectrum, with Keaton at one end and Rowan at the other, Ezra would most likely fall two-thirds of the way to the Rowan end. He was a happy baby, but not quite as easy-going and smiley as she was. He is independent in many ways, but much more reliant on me. They are both very, very stubborn. The main difference though is that he is way, way, way less verbal at this age than she was and he is very, very physically strong. This is maybe causing me not an insignificant amount of fear for what it will be like to actually have to take him out in public, something I’ve not attempted on too grand a scale since he became mobile. I guess what I’m saying is, uh, if you have any calming, soothing vibes lying around, I would greatly appreciate if you’d throw them at my toddler every chance you can get.

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Now! Here’s how Ezra spent thirteen months…

* He learned to navigate going down the stairs backwards. He mastered climbing up them about thirty seconds after he learned to crawl at 8 months but after a few failed attempts to get down them face first, he just didn’t attempt it, which was kind of nice- I never even had to gate them off. If he went up to the loft, he’d just stay up there until he got bored, then he’d whine and I’d go up to retrieve him, and he just left the stairs going down to the entryway alone. Our house is 90% baby-proofed so he can really wander around wherever he wants and we don’t have to worry too much about what he’s getting into as long as the bathroom and bedroom doors stay shut. A day or two after he turned 13 months he finally figured out that he could make it down the stairs himself and after a few slow, tentative tries, he quickly learned to position himself on the top step, get on his belly, get a shit-eating grin across his face, push off with his arms and WHOOOOOSH,  he flies down backward at break-neck speed. Every time {no really, EVERY TIME} I run because I think he has fallen to his death but, no. There he is standing at the bottom, the grin still firmly planted wide on his cheeks.

12.30.9

{Full disclosure, he did fall once and crack his head good on the bannister. He got a bad bump but when I called the pediatrician they told us he was most likely fine as he wasn’t wobbly, sleepy or throwing up so to just wake him up a few times in the night to be safe. The bump was already gone by the next morning and it didn’t slow him down a bit, although I watched over him pretty closely for the next few days, impeding on his fun.}

12.30.7

* Into everything. Here is a comprehensive but not exhaustive list of things Ezra likes to get into {it grows by the nanosecond}: cupboards, bins, drawers, nightstands, make-up, toilet and accompanying paper, diaper stacks, diaper pail, cords, outlets and power strips {don’t forget to drool all over your hands or just go ahead and lick the sockets!} his siblings’ dressers which he pulls open and just starts FLINGING neatly folded clothing out of like there is goddamn buried treasure at the bottom and ohshit here comes mommy, better start flinging faster, must fling it alllllllll…., dog food and water dishes, bookshelves, old DVDs, whatever has been carelessly left on the first two inches of any higher-up table or counter-top, any glass that has been left out must be dumped unceremoniously, Barbies thrown asunder, sword bin ravaged.

12.30.8

I am pleased to report that while we do occasionally have to gate the tree off in the mornings while we’re all running around and upanddown and upanddown the stairs, Ezra has mostly left it alone, or at least there hasn’t yet been any major tree related disasters. He will walk over and bat at the branches while staring at us, testing how long it takes to get the firm No! or uh-UH! but that’s about it.

* Lots of firsts this month! First carousel ride, first time decorating sugar cookies, first time eating Christmas cookies, first candy cane, first ride in a sled, first time wearing boots and snowpants. You pretty much rocked all of it, except maybe the boots which you just… did not understand. When I stood you up after putting them on you, you flopped back to the ground, unwilling to put your trust in the clunky things. Oh well, this being Minnesota, you have a whole loooooong winter to get used to them.

12.30.3

* What is up with the sock thing, Baby? For whatever reason you hate them and figured out that if you take them off in front of me I just put them back on you so now you not only hide to go pull them off, you then hide the socks. I’ve found them in my nightstand, inside Tupperware containers, inside the child-proofed cabinets {uh, how are you doing this?} and in several random drawers. So far this is my favorite… I … don’t think this is what they mean by hanging your stockings…

12.30.1

* Language. This is still a tough one. You say your own versions {that mostly only I can decipher} of cracker, cookie, stop, drop, pretzel, nosey, uh-oh, nie-nie, cheeks, sock, thank you, kiss, and some other randoms but still don’t use mama, daddy, baby, please, up, more etc. It’s so frustrating because you understand almost everything we say. You follow commands! You will materialize out of no where, pointing to your mouth, if someone says marshmallow. If I ask for a hug or a kiss you gladly give it. If I ask you to go get your milk, or cup or shoe or ball you don’t hesitate! But you just. won’t. say. the. words. yourself. Grumblecakes. You still MEOOOOOOW. Incessantly.

12.30.2

*Throwing food. This has BY FAR been the most frustrating thing this month. We can no longert put food on Ezra’s high-chair tray so he can feed himself because after one or two bites he picks up a piece, holds it out to the side and stares at us blankly as he drops it to the dog. It’s BEYOND infuriating. {For us, obviously Luna is decidedly OK with this arragement.} To save food I began just sitting with him and putting bites directly in his mouth but now he just removes them, full of baby slime, and throws them over anyway. He refuses all vegetables and in true toddler form, has become pickier and pickier everyday. We’ve reverted back to the pouches of over-priced baby squeezers because he can feed them to himself, doesn’t throw them until they’re empty and at least there is some freaking spinach in them. I need to do a big diet overhaul for all of us in January, a big part of which will be to break this food throwing habit. Also, his facial eczema has only gotten worse. We cut out whole milk and most cheeses but fell woefully short on removing other dairy with the craziness of the holidays. So lots of food trouble-shooting ahead, after I get the big kids back to school.

12.30.4

* As far as breastfeeding goes, Ezzie dropped his day feeding completely so we are now down to one nursing session in the morning. I don’t know how long we’ll keep this up, I have a feeling we’re down to our last few weeks of breastfeeding which, sunrise/sunset yadayada.

* His molars are coming in soooooo slooooooow, and have given him a perpetually runny nose that is driving us all bonkers. The top two have broken through and are making their way down, and his gums on the bottom are so damn swollen that I forgive him for being a cranky jerk most days.

* Ezra went to the church nursery for the first time this month! Admittedly, we do the church thing mostly for the kids. I’m not saying all hope is lost, but after being part of the shady-ass Catholic church for 30+ years, I’m finding it really hard to immerse myself in any religion for all the rage and anger I harbor for the terrible things that institution covered up and their disturbing stance on the civil rights issues of today. I do love the very open and accepting little Episcopal church we’ve joined and I’m so glad my kids have a group of wonderful role models to spend a couple of hours or so with each week but, well, let’s just say I wasn’t heartbroken that Bill has taken over church duty for the last six months as services and Sunday school fell right in the middle of naptime. Now that we are OFFICIALLY down to one nap between 11:30- 2ish though, we’ve started to go back as a family. Ezra went willingly to the nursery the first two times but has since decided that having mom or dad chase him up and down the halls is much preferable to a roomful of toys and doting teenagers so we’ll see how long my comeback lasts.

12.30.10

Oh my Ezra. My very favorite time with you this month has been just after we wave through the window to the big kids as they get on the bus. I heat up my coffee and plop down on the floor. Sometimes we listen to This American Life or Radio Lab podcasts, sometimes we don’t. And then? We snuggle, or roll the ball, or tickle, or sing, or stack cups or build blocks or play horsey. I repeat words, you stare at me quiet and stubborn. You peek-a-boo from behind the couch or from behind your own chubby fingers. We laugh and laugh. The breakfast dishes are still in the sink, the laundry loads need to be switched, no one’s bed is made but I’m teaching you how to blow kisses and wow, I’m not giving up this moment for anything.

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Before I dive into Ezra’s monthly blah blah I just want to describe to you the moment I just had… My blood started pumping so hard it filled my head, my palms became clammy and my hands started shaking. My chest went tight and I felt like I could feel every single hair on my entire body as I tried to catch my breath. Slowly I attempted to regulate my breathing as I clutched my pounding head in my hands, the only thought swirling around in there… my god. I’m going to have a highly mobile, non-verbal 13 month old and a Christmas tree in my house at the same time for 5 weeks.

AND THEN I DIED.

Which I’m actually quite thankful for because death is a far easier thing to deal with than a baby, that I just know will figure out how to scale the gate I will inevitably have to put up, whose main goal in life will be to take that tree OUT. He will maim the branches. Pull off the needles and eat them. He will get too close, poke his eye and then cry like it was the tree’s fault. Then he will get mad and try to hit the tree but when that won’t prove satisfying he will try to push it and when he realizes the branches just spring back, only to hit him in the face again, he will charge that sucker in a fit of horrifying toddler rage and knock it over. Or he might just look at it suspiciously, like what’s this giant pokey green thing doing in my house and then largely ignore it. I’m betting on option one though and wow, I am feeling all of the fear now, just ALL OF IT.

Alright, time to reanimate so I can throw some bullet points up about mini-budders month of twelve, stepping away from the inviting, warm, glowing orb of light in 3…2…1…

11.26.1

This month in Ezra!

* The biggest change for our guy was the room swap which I think he’s adjusting to fairly well. Unfortunately we did this at sort of a crappy time for him developmentally as he was definitely starting a sleep regression, getting ready to drop a nap and cutting his molars. It was either now or after Christmas though and I really just wanted to get the whole mess out of the way before the holidays. He’s had a few rough nights but it hasn’t seemed to impact the older two at all and most times the wake-ups can be resolved with a simple re-corking of the nuk.

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*naps. Ah, naps, BANE of my existence. Since he was nine months old, Ezra has been insistent on napping right at 9:30am after a 6:15 wake up. Since he is so spotty on whether he’ll then follow that early morning nap with a late afternoon nap, I have been trying since September to push back the morning nap. This would give him a more balanced spread of awake time~ that 7 hour stretch of no nap is very rough on all of us. He would NOT have it though. If I tried to push the nap back any more than 20 minutes he would lose his ever-loving mind, and then when he would fall asleep he’d only go down for 45 minutes instead of his regular 2-2.5 hour rest and then still refuse the afternoon nap. Forty-five minutes of sleep during a 13 hour stretch for an infant is not a sustainable schedule. Of course now this week, that of the holiday in which I need him to sleep in the morning otherwise wreak havoc all over our Thanksgiving plans, is the time he chooses to skip the morning nap in favor of reaching over and banging the wood blinds against the window frame and giggling maniacally for 40 minutes until I finally give up and pull him out. He of course went down smoothly at 12:30pm, exactly the time we need to be out of the house and on our way to a day of family stuffs. GAH, this is stressing me out.

11.26.4

* Teeth! After getting 8 teeth between 6.5 and 9 months we had a blessed break until last weekend. He came home from his grandparents’ house with a fever of about 100 and a runny nose which sent me into a panic because of the upcoming holiday and the fact that he had just gotten over a stupid cold that lasted over two weeks. He woke up a number of times that night, needing tylenol, a cuddle and a nuk but by the morning the fever had vanished and in its place I felt the corner of a branny-new molar poking through. UGHUGHUGHUGHUGH. As you may recall, molars are my least favorite things about toddlers. It’s gonna be a fun few months.

11.26.2

{*This photo series brought to you by dumdums, aka: the only way to get a baby to sit still for more than three seconds.}

* Food. Everything gives him a damn rash around his lips. EVERYTHAAAAAANG. We have to put petroleum jelly around his mouth before and after every meal and even then he still gets red and irritated. Before nap and bed times he also gets either a prescription strength hydrocortisone or a combo of lotrimin, neosporin and regular hydrocortisone, which may lessen the redness and irritation briefly but it certainly hasn’t helped to heal it.

We can’t figure out one thing as the cause. He reacts to carrots, citrus and tomato, it definitely gets worse when he is teething and really really bad when he has any dairy. Do you know what toddlers live off of? Whole milk. That makes this whole “keeping the kid alive thing” a little trickier. As if one child with a dairy problem wasn’t enough, now we have a second. I just don’t get it. Bill and I ate ALL THE THINGS when we were little and neither had any food sensitivities or allergies. We exposed all our kids to a variety of foods at appropriate times to minimize the chances and Rowan, my picky child, remains completely food allergy free. The boys would eat anything but can’t and it is maddening too have to pay over seven freaking dollars for a package of dairy-free cookies or snacks. This week his mouth flared up so bad he looked like The Joker, so I finally broke down and am committing to a month of dairy free for him, let the vanilla flavored coconut milk commence. He does still breastfeed twice daily. I was able to drop the before-bed feeding with no problem for him or myself. His need for a morning and afternoon feeding is still pretty strong so I’ll just be following his cues on when he wants to wean from that.

11.26.6

* Ezra has gone from new drunk baby walk to stealthy, speedy drunk baby walk. He still stumbles at times but he can go FAST, and now rarely, if ever, breaks out into a crawl. {RIP cute and creepy baby franken-crawl, I will miss you.} Now that walking is fairly mastered he has started to move on to climbing. Lord help me, Internet.

11.26.5

* Language. Welp. Not much progress was made this month. He makes a vaguely familiar sound when he’s trying to say a word, like “guk” for his rubber duck, “sss sssk” for sock and other similar things but he still doesn’t say anything discernible. The exception being thank you which is a relatively easier to understand “tink ye” as he hands you toy after toy. No intentional ‘mama’ or ‘dada’ or ‘more’ or ‘uppy’ even though we repeat the words and use the baby signs all day long. Listen kid, I think it’s highly adorable you’re trying so hard to say the name of your ducky but maybe let’s focus on something more practical like “up” so you can stop trying to wedge your body between me and whatever I’m standing next to so that you can hang off my shirt and scream. Forming a u and a p sounds with your mouth seems so much easier than these shenanigans.

His sound effects repertoire has become very impressive though and his receptive language and ability to follow instructions continues to grow every day. He is also starting to point much more than he was last month so I’m holding out hope this doesn’t turn into a ‘thing’. {And I know there are tons of you out there with kids that didn’t make a peep until 18 months or later but when your other two kids were absolute motor-mouths at this age… well, the difference is huge and worth paying attention to.}

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To sum up, at 12 months Ezra loved: Meowing, walking, dance parties with his siblings, brushing his teeth, baths, snuggling blanky, eating cake, going to the playground, raiding the cupboards, sneaking into the bathroom to inspect the wastebasket and remove anything he didn’t think should be thrown away {i.e dirty kleenex} and removing and hiding his socks. {Where are all the damn socks baby? No, seriously, you only have one and a half pairs left.}

11.26.9

This month has been one of your most adventurous ones yet. It’s been SO fun to watch you explore the world on two feet. One of my favorite things to do this month was to bundle you up, set you on the sidewalk and just let you go. Seeing your little body bob up and down as you carefully lifted your feet in a kind of slow-paced, very deliberate march, filled my heart up to the very top. You are so happy outside {in the wild. Yep, this is total foreshadowing of your personality isn’t it?} that I’m a little frightened of being trapped indoors with you for the next 5-6 months. We’ll get through though {if the Christmas tree doesn’t kill mommy} {again} and I can’t wait to see you racing up and down those sidewalks come spring. We love you, pal.

11.26.8

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So! Look who learned a new skill while I was cleaning off his high chair after lunch! I don’t want to be all *NEWSFLASH* Against all odds, small child hoists himself up by his boot {one moccasin} straps to conquer monstrous living room furniture in unforgiving conditions... But, well, I’m sort of gonna be like that…

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This wouldn’t be a big deal if he knew how to correctly dismount the couch when it was time. When Ezra is on my bed with me he knows to slither down the side feet first but something about the couch just screams HEAD FIRST! to him which yields unpleasant results. He’ll learn. This little guy is a smartypants to the first degree but in the meantime… it’s gonna be a bruise filled few weeks. I’m thinking of just lining the floor with pillows until he turns three.

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I want to take a minute to note the kids’ big art show and music concert we attended last night which was just as crazy as usual {massively over-crowded and chaotic} but at least now we know what to expect and can accept it for what it is, however horrifying it may be for a claustrophobic person.

The kids have been talking about this a ton and were super excited to show us their art work and all the songs they’ve been hard at work practicing. Rowan has a strict “surprise” policy, which means she won’t sing us or even tell us the names of any of the songs her class will be performing ahead of time so we can, I don’t know, go in with a musically cleansed pallet? Whatever, she’s really strict about it, so much so that whenever Keaton would so much as hum “Little Miss Muffet” or “Jack and Jill” Rowan would FREAK, like GOD, Keaton don’t you even know about My Policy {TM}, how could you?

And that was just for his Kindergarten class songs, ones that she had absolutely no involvement in. You don’t even want to KNOW the tone her voice took with him when he started singing the big group number for me, oh lord, the curl of drama in her voice went to a whole ‘nother level as she spit “You are ruining this for EVERYONE”. Which is to say, he was ruining it for no one, not even her, despite her very righteous indignation. Regardless, we’ve learned to just not ask too much about what we will hear on concert night because of this quirk.

I did have a little parenting conundrum beforehand though. Their music teacher instructed Keaton’s class to “wear their best” so Keaton came home from school, very excited, and said, “Mom! Mrs. H said we should wear our best clothes! I’m going to wear my tuxedo from boys’ dance because that is the fanciest thing I own!” Now, if you remember the pictures I probably posted last spring of my second-born dressed to the nines in a tux, you will have noted that this was not a sharp, sophisticated 2013 tuxedo, but rather something more closely associated with a bad 1980s prom photo. Line-texured shirt, hunter green bow tie and cumberbund, lots of sharp, unnecessary waist angles and ridiculously pointy tails. Now don’t get me wrong, it was/is completely adorable up on a dance stage, but for a school concert? Yeah, not so much.

At first I said sure, without really thinking about it. Keaton does not get embarrassed or ruffled easily. This is a kid who will still regularly come downstairs with a ninja mask, bow-staff and one of his sister’s leotards on and he has exactly NO SHAME. He’s asked to wear one of Rowan’s jumpers to school {because they look comfy, mom!} and he still will sport nail polish in the summer with absolutely no inhibitions. I 100% do NOT want to change this aspect of him. It’s one of my very favorite things and it’s truly what makes my Keaton so damn Keaton.

But. I didn’t want him to get hurt feelings if one of the kids {or let’s face it, adults, who I’ve learned can be worse when it comes to stuff like this} laughed at him or made fun of his very fancy outfit. The last thing I wanted to have happen would be for him to become self-conscious and lose the ability to just not give a shit about what other people think. Rowan was never as care-free as Keaton, but she got much more self-conscious somewhere between 6 and 7 and look, if/when it happens, it happens and that’s fine… I just didn’t want some jerky kid to kick-start it over a John Hughs tux.

I tried to explain to him that he would be a little over-dressed and that we could have a fancy family night that he could wear it to instead but he had his mind made up. I ended up polling a parent group I belong to and all agreed that I should let him sport the tux but should bring a back-up outfit just in case he felt it would be better to change. Brilliant! I explained the deal to Keaton which he accepted but he never wavered in his desire to wear the tux.

When we got to school, I dropped Keaton off in a room full of plaid shirts, sweater vests and khakis. I approached his teacher and said “Yeah, about the tux…” and she said, “Oh, we know all about the tux. Keaton talked about wearing it allll week”. Ha! Turns out it would have been weird for him not to wear it, as his whole class had been briefed on the sheer awesomeness of it. And therein I learned a very valuable lesson about trusting this kid, who knows himself through and through. And when they marched in, he stood up front and center, so proud as he sang his little heart out. It was a really great moment to be his mama.

Rowan did super great as well, and we were all surprised {!!!}! by the songs she sang {well, except for the last one, thanks for ruining LIFE, Keaton}. She was also very proud of her artwork and beamed as she pointed out her pieces hanging on the wall. It was all around a very busy, but fun evening celebrating just how awesome these little people are.

"Jazz"

“Jazz”

So much style in one little body.

So much style in one little body.

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9.30.12

So 10 months? Ten months was… not a picnic. There were some definite highs but with an awful cold that lasted two weeks and what seemed to be a very painful case of ghost molars, everyone in this house is ready for a fresh start with our youngest budders as we round out infant-hood over the next month.

Here are the goods…

Crawling continues to provide seemingly endless entertainment. We thought you’d eventually move away from the bear crawl to the more accepted version of hands and knees but no such thing has happened and for that I am grateful. Seeing your little body haul ass around corners up on hands and feet just never gets old. The best is when your feet get ahead of your hands and you totally wipe out on your face, or better still, tuck into a stunt-man roll and go ass over tea kettle. Either way you pop right back up with a determined smirk, undoubtedly aiming to break some sort of crawling record, or your face, we’ll see what comes first.

9.30.14

You are WHOLLY uninterested in walking. You have cruised furniture since you could crawl but you don’t even really like it when I try to get you to hold my hands and walk. You can stand alone fairly steadily but no amount of coaxing can get you to take a step. As far as you are concerned walking is an unacceptably inefficient means of getting around.

9.30.2

You said mamamama for the first time this month! For 3 days at the beginning of the month you repeated the m-a combination over and over and over and my heart burst as you looked at me with a smile and sometimes a hug as you said it. Then… you just stopped. Completely. Everyday I would try to coax it out of you and everyday you stared at me in utter confusion which quickly melted into disinterest. As if you had no idea that we had just spent the previous three days lovingly using each others names like civilized humans. Is this some sort of trick? Or test? Are you just messing with me? Because it realllly feels like you’re messing with me.

9.30.4

Sleep training was the biggest hurdle we faced this month. After brushing up on my Pantly/Weissbluth/Sears/Ferber and searching the great wide internet for personal stories of sleep-training ten month olds, Bill and I decided on a modified approach that was much less cut and dry than the tactic we used with Keaton. We went this route because unlike Keaton, we knew Ezra could self sooth. He wakes up several times a night and puts himself back to sleep just fine, never needing more than the occasional re-nuking. In fact the night-time bed routine wasn’t the issue at all, it was naps; for which I was still having to vigorously rock him while he fought sleep every step of the way.

The first thing Bill and I did was compare notes so that we could do the exact same thing at nap-time {which I do} and bedtime {which we do together}. We landed on this:

1. Nurse on one side

2. Change diaper, get in PJs

3. Nurse on the other side.*

4. snuggle him in a blanket, with a nuk and his stuffed puppy.

5. Read 2-3 stories

6. Gently cuddle/sway him as we hum 2-4 songs

7. Lay him down tired but awake, cover him up and out the door

{* Since he’s down to only one nursing session during the day, I start with the diaper change and move on to the snuggle and the stories. For whatever reason, nursing seems to energize him during the day so doing it around naps has been cut out.}

So we had our plan of a peaceful routine mapped out, we just had to agree on what level of crying/fussing/partying we would allow before intervening and trying to get him back down or giving up. Ezra is a very intense, very energy-filled small human. Naturally, we were terrified he would just scream for hours which was in no way an acceptable means to teach him to sooth himself to sleep. Thankfully, he went pretty easy on us. As far as nighttime went, there was only one night where he cried for more than a few minutes. For whatever reason, on the 5th night in, he just started screaming when Bill began the night-time process and he just could not calm himself down. I went up to him every 5 minutes or so to snuggle him back in and try to sooth him with shushing and pats but that only infuriated him. Finally after 40 minutes he cried himself out and it was awful and gut/heart wrenching but that was the worst of it. Every other night he has happily put himself to sleep without so much as a peep.

9.30.11

Naps continue to be hit or miss but at least I’m not having to jog-rock him while he tries to take swings at me. For his morning nap I follow our routine and he might babble or fuss for up to ten minutes but he then puts himself to sleep for 1.5 to 2.5 hours. The afternoon nap is my arch-nemesis. He will babble and fuss sometimes for up to 30 minutes, which is my limit. If he starts full-out crying at that point I give up and get him up, but roughly two to three times a week he’ll figure it out and fall asleep. I really wish he was ready to push back his morning nap a couple of hours so we could just have one nap but he is sooooo not there yet. Unfortunately he is a nightmare the 4-5 days he doesn’t take the second nap because 11:30-7 is WAY too long a stretch for him to go without sleeping. I have tried to talk this out rationally with him but so far he has been unresponsive to my pleas.

9.30.5

So! I guess sleep training was mostly successful. One of the best things we got out of it was the chance to introduce story time. Here is where I tell you that Rowan was born loving books and that {for once} is not hyperbole. From birth I would rock her in the chair while I read out of my childhood copy of A Wind in the Willows. Once she became mobile we didn’t need to set up baby jail as long as we set her in front of the bookcase. At Ezra’s age she would set up camp in front of the shelves and pull down and page through book after book, happy as a clam.

Foolishly, I thought this would be how all my kids were wired, so I was shocked when Keaton adamantly refused to be read to. Books were for throwing, chewing, hurling, and ripping. I am also not exaggerating when I say that child would not sit for a full story until he was 4 freaking years old. This sort of killed me dead, as one of my favorite parts of being a parent is reading and sharing stories with my kids. Now Ezra is WAAAAAYYYYYY {waywaywaywayway} more active than Keaton ever was so I held out exactly ZERO hope that he would sit for stories but we decided to try it as a part of our nighttime routine and whaddya know? He sat and was fairly engaged. He is really particular about the books he wants but as long as he likes them, he will sit and snuggle and help turn the pages. His favorites are: Little Gorilla, Goodnight Moon, I Love You Goodnight, Pajama Time and Ten Little Ladybugs. He will tolerate a few others at times but remains highly suspicious of Jamberry, for whatever reason.

9.30.3

Other awesome things:

His stuffed puppy. We’ve tried introducing several adorable woobies, all of which he has inexplicably refused. I got the three kids a small plush Snoopy when Ezra was born and that, along with the blanket my mom made him that stays in his crib, seem to be his chosen objects so far.

9.30.10

Playing light sabers. Now, under the careful tutelage of his big brother, when Ezra picks up one of Keaton’s swords or sabers {or anything even remotely resembling one} he makes a zzzzzzz buzzing/hum sound with a giant grin on his face. The force is super strong with this one, it’s pretty awesome.

9.30.7

Really plays now. He has gone from watching his siblings play to actively trying to insert himself. Keaton in particular loves to play “Roll around like a really loud ninja and hide from the baby” with him. They all love the game where the older two cover him up with a blanket and watch him flail and laugh as he tries to baby-ghost his way out of it.

9.30.1

Meows. The other two counted “kitty” as their first word. While Ezra prefers the more realistic “mroooooww” mimic to identify and/or communicate with the cats. It’s highly adorable and I’ve tried unsuccessfully to get it on video many times over the last few weeks. He has also started “ruffing” when he sees Luna. All this fits in well with his wild-boy persona.

You know, baby, it’s fairly probable that you are our last little gunterling and I sort of feel cheated out of my full amount of baby time since you’ve really been an active toddler since you were about nine months old. You spent this month in a constant fury of pick me up/no put me down/no pick me up and you spent many hours perfecting your fake cry which begins with a grimace so exaggerated and slo-mo, that infuriating as it is, I can’t help but laugh. Much of 10 months was aggravating and exhausting and there were many nights I was very happy to see you snuggle in for the next 11 hours so I could enjoy life without being constantly yelled at. Things have already gotten better with the dissipation of the crappy cold we all had so I’m really looking forward to the amazing things eleven months will bring you. We love you, Pal.

9.30.9

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9.2.10

Tomorrow my Sir, my budders, my Keaton starts Kindergarten. There was a time, in what now seems like the very distant past, that I could never have imagined we would make it here, Bubba. There were so many nights that I held your screaming, shaking, inconsolable body, so many days of pacifying your cries, wimpers and whines, so many moments that I didn’t think I would be able to make it until the next nap, let alone the next birthday but… five and a half years later, here we are.

On the eve of your first foray into Kindergarten I’m wracking my brain in wonder as to when you grew into an honest-to-god boy. Instead of coming back empty-handed and declaring your long limbs and thinned-out cheeks the work of some mysterious witchcraft,  I came back with giant fistfuls of memories, all that are a small slice of the journey that has made you, you. The path that has brought us to this night.

Whether it was watching you throw yourself down a giant metal slide with gleeful abandon, or seeing you grin through a ride on a gigantic roller coaster or seeing you play catcher and 3rd base at your first T-ball game, or watching you take a running jump and cannon-balling into the deep-end, a little bit of my baby slipped away and was replaced by Big Boy. You know the ones…

kgf

The ones who graduate preschool.

The ones who become big brothers.

The ones who become big brothers.

The ones who back-float like a boss.

The ones who back-float like a boss.

The ones who can shake their booties up on a huge stage in fron of hundreds of people.

The ones who can shake their booties up on a huge stage in front of hundreds of people.

The ones who learn to draw Ninja Turtles.

The ones who learn to draw Ninja Turtles.

The ones who FINALLY brave the fireworks.

The ones who FINALLY give fireworks a second chance.

The ones who are total rockstarian.

The ones who are totally rockstarian.

The ones who hit a home run.

The ones who hit a home run.

9.2.12

The ones that can do handstands.

9.2.7

And fight off invisible orc armies with big sticks.

I have to be honest, Buddy. I didn’t think sending you off to Kindergarten would be that big of a deal. After all, I have been through this two times before with your sister and even more so than that you are my Big Guy and after three years of preschool and being oldish for your grade, you are more than ready to move up and out and beyond. But a couple of weeks ago I sent you to Kindergarten camp and when I saw how small you looked in that giant classroom, panic set in. What if you get confused about where you’re supposed to be? What if you forget to get off the bus and we’re on the evening news because the bus company has lost you? What if you drop your lunch tray and you get embarrassed? What if you freak out when you realize they don’t let you watch PBS during lunch? What if some jerky kid makes fun of your glasses or how you say “drawl” instead of draw? Because mama will HUNT THEM DOWN and… well, give them a stern talking to, or something. You really are my big guy, who does big guy stuff, but still…

The panic wore off eventually, mostly when you came home in one very happy, very exhausted piece. And even though I’m sad. Even though I worry. Even though those kids better watch their backs if they are mean to my baby… I know, I just know…

You're gonna do great.

You’re gonna do great, Sir.

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