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Posts Tagged ‘Monthly blah blahs’

Let’s get the awkward part out of the way and admit that Mama did a really crappy job of keeping the Internet abreast of all your one-year-old antics. Which… part of me is grateful for because life with three kids and a new house is no joke. We are constantly busy, constantly running and any down time I have right now is way better spent sitting on the floor in a heap of cars and trains with you snuggled in my lap. It also makes me sad because WOW did this year fly by at breakneck speed and I just want to hold tight to the little person you are right now. I love having a log of all the adorable and frustrating things your brother was doing at this age so I sort of feel like a failure for not keeping it up as I know all too well these moments that seem so sharp and unforgettable now will fade with time.

So! How do I sum of a year full of amazing you? Let’s start with your favorites:

Ezzy2_Poster

You’re favorite books: {Firstly, let me just say how grateful I am that you love stories. Getting Keaton to sit for books was impossible until he was 4 and now both of your siblings prefer to go off on their own and read to themselves so having another reading buddy is awesome.} You love; But Not the Hippopotamus, Each Peach Pear Plum, Ten Little Ladybugs, Goodnight Gorilla, 1,2,3’s with Charley Harper, Bear Takes A Trip, Wild Things, and I Love You Goodnight. You have to have 3 books before nap and bed and every time we get to number three you say “Laaaaaast book, Okaaaaaaay?…”

Favorite foods: Olives {the Felland is strong with this one}, beef sticks, spaghetti, fruit snacks, starburst, cake, berries and noodles. You have a major sweet tooth and I love that you change your voice when asking for a treat to see if my answer changes. You start with a whisper “a starburst please?” then, “A starburst? “a STARburst please?”, “starBURRRRRST?”

Favorite drink: Juice. Juice. Juice. JUICE! I only give you one or two small cups a day and you POUND them. You’re going to be tons of fun in college, I can already tell.

Favorite things: You love your blanket and nuk. So many times I go to look for you and start panicking when I can’t find you only to discover you between the couch and the coffee table laying with your blanket over your head. “Ezra! What are you doing?” Then a muffled, “I SNUGGLIN’!” Like, Duh, wasn’t that obvious, mom?

Favorite songs: ABC’s, Itsy-Bitsy Spider, and your very favorite, “What Does the Fox Say” WHY GOD, WHY? {Well, I know why, because it was on a Glee compilation CD your dad made for me and Rowan hates that song so Keaton would sing it to annoy her and you loved the big reaction it got so it quickly became your favorite, much to our chagrin.}

Favorite Games: Buttons, Ring Around the Rosie and the one where you and your brother run and chase each other screaming at the top of your lungs must be super fun because no matter how many times mama yells at you two to JUST STOP you guys keep at it.

Favorite Place: OUTSIDE! You have loved outside since you were a baby and every minute not spent out in the great outdoors is a minute wasted. You also love going to Grandma and Grandpa’s and to the park. You also love to go in Rowan’s room, but that’s a bit of a sore spot for your sister since you also like to destroy her Lego sets and steal her American Girl accessories. If I could count the times I’ve said “No-no rowan’s room” to you over the last 6 months it would, well, it would be a lot.

Favorite shows: I will say in the last couple of weeks you’ve started to branch out and begrudgingly allow some Daniel Tiger or Curious George but for a solid 5 months the only thing you’d sit for was Elmo’s World DVDs and sometimes Sesame Street because Elmo makes frequent appearances. Elmo is your everything. Rowan was like this and it drove me nuts but I’ve grown to love the furry red guy and know that all too soon you’ll become obsessed with Star Wars and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Amazing accomplishments and Firsts:

You are fast. Super fast. Like I have to legit run my hardest to catch you.

You are pretty fearless at the playground. I’m sure this comes because you have older siblings but you climb high and fly down the big slides. I see the look of horror in the eyes of the parents and grandparents of other toddlers that I would dare let you go on the big equipment but eh. You know what you’re doing and I’m not going to stop you so I just smile back at them.

You drink out of a cup like a boss. I don’t want to name names but 2 of your siblings couldn’t hold a damn cup without spilling it spectacularly until they were 4. Sometimes I still don’t even trust Keaton with an open cup. You might dribble a little but otherwise you do awesome with a big cup and prefer to use them over sippys.

You love to stack blocks. And knock them over. And stack them again. Wash, rinse, repeat.

I love how you say pumpkin, pronounced punkaaan. This is apropos of nothing, it just makes me really happy. If you had a toddler resume I would put this under one of your strengths.

You can count to 20; sometimes correctly, sometimes 1,2,3,5,7,8,9,15,18, 20!! You love to count.

You’re starting to learn your colors.

You handle the insane amount of car-time like a pro. From waiting in the parent pick up line to hauling your sister to and from dance, we easily spend 5-6 hours in the car a week and while you do get grumpy sometimes, it’s nothing that a little “Fox Say” and a fruit snack won’t fix.

Your language/communication is great. You still put “a” in front of almost everything. You speak in 3-5 word sentences, are starting to use pronouns correctly and you are very good about voicing your wants/opinions. This is a double-edged sword because you think just because you know how to correctly ask for chocolate you feel you should receive that chocolate every single time the spirit moves you and yes, son, in a perfect world that is how life would operate but out here in the real world, it’s just not how it works.

Some struggles, or UNfavorites we’ve experienced…

You’re a hitter. Not a hurty one… you don’t do it out of aggression, you do it solely for the reaction ad mostly you focus this behavior on your brother. We calmly but swiftly separate you and firmly go through the “Hands are not for hitting” spiel so then you’re like, fine “Sorry, Mama” here’s a fake hug that I don’t mean and then you kick because kicking is not using your hands, then we calmly but firmly go into the “Feet are not for Kicking” speech to which we get another half-hearted apology and fake hug and then you proceed to stick your tummy out as far as it will go to push with it and then we maybe not so calmly remove you and get a little screechy about NOT HURTING OUR FRIENDS WITH ANY PART OF OUR BODY, OK?!!! I know this is just a stage and consistency is key but it’s driving me BANANAS.

Related: You throw things when you’re mad. I… don’t like this at all.

You have trouble warming up to people. When new or unfamiliar people try to greet you, you hide behind me and shout ALL DONE until they quit looking at you. It is somehow very offensive for a stranger to say hello and let me just tell you it’s more than a little embarrassing when a cashier or friend of mom’s comes up to us and says “Oh he’s so adorable, look at your big blue eyes!” and you screech ALL DONE at the top of your lungs at them as they step back and look horrified. Rowan was very friendly to anyone, Keaton was clingy and a little shy but always sweet, you…. you… well, you are many wonderful things but sweet is not a descriptor I would often use for you.

I know these few paragraphs don’t do justice to the little person you have grown into the last year. One minute I’ll look at you and you’ll seem so small and the next, it’s like you magically stretch and you seem so giant to me. Sadly I know there are already things I’ve forgotten over the months. Just like with your big siblings, I sometimes close my eyes tight when I hold you and say “remember this, remember this moment right now” because I so badly want to stop time and keep you small and precious but the wish is fleeting… we love watching you grow and learn and explore all the things you’re curious about. We love seeing you try to imitate your big siblings, sometimes successfully, others not so much. We love seeing you smile and laugh, which you make us work for but oh, is it ever worth it. Mostly we just love you, Ez. And we wish you the very happiest of birthdays and an adventurous, marvelous year of Two.

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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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 2.27.8

So this month was a fun one! Ezra proved adorable, funny, sweet, smart and crazy-entertaining almost all the way through. That is, until he got the plague and spent a week and a half looking like he walked straight off The Walking Dead set. Only a few weeks after getting rid of a miserable double ear infection, the poor budders got another double ear infection and nasty eye infection, which caused both his eyes to get reddish/purplish rings around them while secreting neon green goo.

I’ll just leave you with that visual for a while…Can you see it? Nope, the eye boogers you’re imagining aren’t green enough. Think 1985 then amp it up by 1000. They were impressively green. Now imagine getting hit in the face with a 2×4, because that is what his eyes looked like. And don’t forget the two lines of perpetually seeping snot coming from his nose {directly into his mouth EEEEWWWWWAAAAHHHHHH} and the raspy breath with the gunky cough. Paired with an unsteady toddler walk, and a vocabulary that is dominated mainly by grunts and screeches, I was 90% convinced there was a tiny zombie lurking around here. Good thing toddlers are too picky to eat brains. They would have to be banana flavored brains or possibly strawberry-apple but only if it was Tuesday.

Anyway, after all that fantastic imagery which has hopefully frightened you from ever, ever procreating, he’s better finally so, yay!

2,27,9

Here is what Ez did this month:

Besides turning into the undead, he also turned into a ham. Seriously, such a ham sandwich. Everything he does, he does with a big cheese-ball grin, waiting to see your reaction and it better be good otherwise he’ll keep at it until it is.

Tantrums. We are having them, people. He goes all wet noodle and flops around on the floor until he sees that I’m doing the Official Parent Ignore Tactic, where I hold my head up high and away from him with a face that, while attempting to look stern and remain uninterested and unemotional, is really holding it together just enough not to let the smile crack through. This worked pretty well for a while. He would see he wasn’t getting any attention and give up. Unfortunately toddlers are always looking for new ways to be asshats, so now he has started to get up from ignored tantrums, come over to me and swat me on the leg to get my attention. Then he gingerly gets back down into tantrum position and resumes his floppy fish impression, only now he’s just landed his butt on the Stair of Shame and nobody wins.

2.27.4

Says “jump jump jump” happily as he jumps on the bed or the trampoline.

Climbs. The coffee table. The chairs. The toilet. The big table. The stools. The toy boxes. The play table. If I try to stop him he tries harder. He does not give up until he has hoisted his giant diapered butt onto an object, stood up, grinned at you and claimed it as his own. I mostly let him just do it to get it out of his system because once he’s conquered something he tends to leave it alone unless there’s something highly desirable at the top, like the cats’ water dishes that he can splash in, then dump onto all my prized literature books from college. I’m >FROWNY EMOTICONING< at you, baby.

2.27.5

Loves:

Shoes. We somehow lost his shoes sometime mid-December and his boots, I can only surmise, must have sharp needles lining the insides, because he refuses to put any pressure on his feet to stand when they are forcibly fitted on his person. This meant that he spent 2 straight months in Hanna Anderssen sock/slipper things which are lovely but not really Minnesota weather proof so I was finally shamed enough to head to Target where I was greeted with 9,768 styles of adorable girls’ shoe styles and 5 versions for boys that are either plastered in superheroes or are a boring brown/blue/black. THIS IS BULLSHIT. Boys like shoes too, assholes. {Well, at least their moms do.} I did end up finding a couple of okay pairs hidden on a clearance end-cap, one of which was the size up in the pair he lost, but still. I shouldn’t have to keep buying the same shoe because all the other options suck, Target. I love you, but I’m really mad at you right now which still won’t stop me from dropping another $150 on things I “need” next time I go in to get toilet paper.

Good Lord, What was I even talking about before I got mad at Target? OH! Shoes. SO now that Ezzer finally has shoes again he loves to walk on hard surfaces so he can hear his feet make cool noises. He carefully lifts his knee up high and then drops his foot with a big smile when he hears the tap. It’s all kinds of adorable to witness, trust me.

2.27.10

Dance, which means pumping his fists up and down and then throwing himself onto the floor and writhing around. He gets all his moves from Bill, BTW.

Books. We read a ton every day.

My phone. You and Suri are super tight these days. You babble at her incessantly and she directs you to the 5 closest restaurants in our area. I think it might be true love.

Turkey. Every time we give you a bite you say “turrrKEY!” and gobble it up; pun 100 percent intended.

Rowan. You and your sister have been super close this month. She adores playing with you and making you laugh. Every morning after nursing I say “let’s go get Rowan and Keaton up!” You haul ass up the stairs ahead of me and start banging on the door. {Thankfully doorknobs still mystify you, I’m sure you’ll have them figured out by 18 months though because my life is nothing if not HILARIOUS already}.  I open it up and after you run over to turn the fan off {whitenoise} you proceed to climb up on your sister’s bed and shove your sweet little face between her nose and the book she has it stuffed into. Rowan has never liked being interrupted, she will forever be my trouble-with-transitions kid, but you are the exception. She just laughs and puts her arms around you, pulling you in for a morning hug.

2.27.7

Says:

Jump, turkey, please, thank you, cracker, cookie, hello, stop, drop, uh-oh, ouch, hot, da-bu {pretzel}, fish, duck, quack, moo, meow, kitty, book, baa, woof, choo-choo, sock, shoe, hat, juice, tub, ear, eye, nose and a bunch of others that I can’t think of right now. He really has had a language explosion, but 85% of these words are only discernible to Bill, the kids and I. He gets the inflection perfect but the annunciation is all off so it’s really near impossible to understand him if you’re not us. Still, this is huge. Such a massive improvement from where we were a month ago. His language skills have been so puzzling to us because he started out just like Rowan and Keaton. He was an early babbler, and was able to make all the consonant and vowel sounds he needed to form words. He had amazing receptive language skills and even started regularly mimicking a few words by 8 months like ‘drop’, ‘stop’ ‘meow’ and ‘dada’. Then he just stopped altogether and wouldn’t even try to say anything other than MEOW for 6 months so it made me really nervous. I’m so relieved he’s figured things out because communication has gotten much easier but really? He still does not say mama intentionally, so none of this counts. Nice try, baby.

2.27.2

The winter days are getting so long. The weather this year is trying to kill all of us what with the daily highs never even reaching the teens and the snowsnowsnow. That paired with the fact that you’ve been so sick a majority of the last 2 months means we’ve been stuck inside since December. I was really hoping spring would take pity on us and give us a pre-show by way of a thaw out but nope, here we are nearly to March and the windchill was almost 40 below this morning. I complain because wow, this is ridiculous, but really there is no one else I’d rather be stuck inside with for months on end. Yes, you can be a little dangerous {no more sneaking into the dishwasher and pulling out knives!!} and yes, you can be a little feisty, but oh boy are you sweet, and snuggly and there has not been a day that’s gone by where I haven’t said, “Oh, baby. I just love you.” Because I really, really do.

2.27.6

 

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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.

12.30.11

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.

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{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.}

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* 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.

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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.

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* 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…

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* 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.

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*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.

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* 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.

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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.

12.30.5

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It was conferences this week! You wanna know how much fun it is to bring a mobile, nap-skipping baby into classrooms with thousands of things to destroy and/or choke on? SUPER FUN. The only major snafu was when Ezra’s milk cup exploded all over Bill, the baby and the classroom floor in a spectacular geyser of coconut milk. I’m pretty sure we won’t be invited back to 2nd grade unless we have proof of a babysitter first. It is now time for you to sit back {or, uh, slowly back away by means of the handy x button} and enjoy reading about my two oldest precious little snowflakes…

First up we have Keaton, Sir:

This little guy’s report surprised me the most. I know it’s not fair to pigeon-hole your kids but if I WERE to do that, Rowan would definitely be my academic child and Keaton would be our… wiggly… uh… funny…. uh… sports-ball child. I think that about sums it up nicely. He always got great reports in preschool and was always put in the more accelerated learning groups but I guess I sort of thought that he was placed there because his teachers had Rowan as well and maybe just assumed Keaton was similar.

I know. I’m a terrible mother. But in my defense Keaton has never had the patience to sit still and work for long periods. Getting this kid to sit for a story was impossible until he was four and even now he jumps around and plays invisible swords when I read him chapters of Harry Potter. He loses interest and gets bored easily and always defaults to some physical activity involving swordplay or barrel rolls.

So imagine my surprise when his reading assessment revealed he was already working on the end of the year goal list. I have been trying to make an effort for him to read to me but man.. reading with a beginning five year old is just plain exhausting. He gets so tired halfway through that he just turns off by the end of it, making guesses instead of reading tougher words and sounding out words like “is” and “the” when he has had them memorized for months.

I really need to find some shorter books for him because I think he would get more confident if he could read in shorter bursts. I’ve tried the whole, I’ll read a page, you read a page thing, or only reading a few pages a night but the payoff just isn’t there for him then and he ends up crabby about the whole thing. I need something like the Biscuit books but more challenging and maybe with a little more stimulating subject matter. He loves Gerald and Piggy {and really, who doesn’t} but he’s read them all so many times that he doesn’t even need to open the dang book to recite the story. Of course he always wants Star Wars books but those suckers have super tricky words so I end up reading half of it for him. Right now the best ones for him are the more simple Dr. Suess ones. He can read The Foot Book, One Fish Two Fish and The Cat in the Hat and green Eggs and Ham with very minimal help from me. I’m really proud of his hard work and was so happy and surprised at how well he is progressing in reading.

Other than that? Kindergarten and Keaton are getting along swimmingly. He was sososo ready to go and really hasn’t skipped a beat since September once he adjusted to the much longer days. He loves his teacher, and absolutely adores being around people all day. I honestly don’t know how I produced SUCH a people person but wow is he ever. This is the kid I have to bribe to just gooooo beeee byyyy youseeeeelf for fiiiiiiiiive minuuuuutes, pleeeeeease. He would never ever be/play/sleep/eat do anything alone if he could help it, so school is a blessing because there are 29 other kids plus a handful of teachers he gets to spread all that love around to.

He has a half-day once a week which has been our time. I’ve tried to make it as special as I can so I pack a lunch and take him to various parks, make trips to the library or come home and play board games. Unfortunately once Ezra switches to an afternoon nap we’re going to have to switch Keaton to full-day 5 days a week which will be good for him but I’m really going to miss my time with my big guy.

Now that winter is at our doorstep, I know I have to get him involved in an outside activity. Unfortunately it just wasn’t feasible time or money-wise to keep him in dance this year. It’s been sad because he really loved it but with the dramatic increase in hours he spent at school it was the best choice for him at this point. We’re hoping to get him back enrolled in either the all boys dance group or karate and he’ll start a little basketball clinic and swimming lessons in January so that should keep him active over the coldest winter months. All-in-all it’s been a bang-up start to his formative school years.

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Now for Little Miss Rowan:

As I mentioned, academics are never an issue for this kid so we don’t really worry. She is very close to being a Step 12 reader which is where the reading assessment ends {typically for end of the year third graders}. THIS IS WHERE THE BRAGGING COMES IN, if that wasn’t clear. Because I’m solely responsible for this, right? Me, the 7 year old who still couldn’t read simple sentences. Whose first grade teacher took pity on me and kept me in for recess to give extra help. I got it eventually and when I did I soared, I loved reading… but I was no Rowan. Her comprehension is phenomenal. She’ll read and {this is important} understand pretty much anything you lay in front of her.

We asked her teacher for a few reading suggestions because she absolutely devours books so quickly that I have a hard time keeping her challenged, but by the fourth or fifth one she suggested to our responses of “yep, she like that one” “read it” and “Yeah, she’s finished the whole series”, Bill was like, see! this is exactly our problem. She was stumped for a minute or two but after a good laugh she thought of a few titles Rowan has yet to read so the girl should be set for a while.

We moved on to math, where Rowan has bounced back and then some from last year. In first grade she was put in the most fast-paced math group and she struggled big time with the timed homework. They had 5 minutes to finish 100ish problems and it was really overwhelming for her. She spent the whole year getting more and more nervous about it until the end when she just quit trying all together. This kid had ended the first semester report with a strong “meets expectations” and by the end of the year she got the lowest score possible. When I talked with her teacher, who had left on maternity leave a few weeks before the end of the year, she was sure Rowan would bounce back fine, and thought the low assessment scores were due to the disruption of her leaving {Rowan was very close to this teacher and was not happy to be getting a sub}.

When we saw she was placed in the middle instead of the top math group at the start of this year we were relieved. The pressure and the pace was just too much for her very careful, perfectionist personality. She definitely has her confidence back. We did have one issue, however. The 64 question timed homework is the same sheet of  problems in the same order which they get about four times a week. They have 5 minutes to finish the sheet and seemingly overnight Rowan went from finishing in 4 and a half minutes to finishing in two and a half. “WOW, Rowan! That was quick!” “I know, Mom! Aren’t you proud!” “Yes! I can’t believe how much faster you’re doing these!” “Oh! It’s easy! See, the answers are always the same! So I know to just write 6,4 18, 7, 3, 15, 2…” “Uh… aren’t you reading the problem? “Why would I read the problem when I can just memorize the order of the answers?” “Oh, Rowan. I don’t think that’s how you’re supposed to do it.” “Why WOULDN’T you do it that way, it’s way easier!” *so much head-shaking* Sure enough, the next time she did the sheet I watched her carefully and she blew through the first three lines, having memorized the answers. Needless to say, I notified the teacher of this, um, tactic, for homework completion, and she said, “Huh. that’s the only sheet they offer because they want the kids to see the equation and immediately associate the answer. I always wondered if kids figured out that they were always the same.” Yep. Leave it to our kid. Lovely.

Last year was a tougher year friend-wise for Rowan because of the dynamic of her particular class. Unfortunately Rowan got drawn into this mid-year a bit because she really liked a few of the girls so she tried to play “the game” of who is allowed to play with who and on what day but after way too many mean-girl tactics {in FIRST grade. Seriously.} she had to give up on the group which was a tough call she made herself and she moved on to a smaller group of drama-free girls which she has very happily stuck with ever since. Thankfully this year has been awesome and her teacher said that even though she definitely has a few close friends she spends most of her free time with, she is a good friend to all her classmates and well-liked.

She has even become somewhat of a mentor to the kids who struggle. She has noticed since starting at this school that her teachers often sit her next to the kids who need a little extra help. Once and a while she’ll get frustrated by this if her seat partner is a little too rambunctious but she understands it’s because she can stay on task and be a helper even if there is a little chaos around her {this is a complete 180 from how she was when she first started school at five, she couldn’t handle ANY disruption}. One boy in particular has been having a hard time but since her teacher sat him next to Rowan, she has taken him under her wing and he’s been really benefiting from her friendship, and she really likes him as well.

This is one more reason I love this school so much. They are so big into positive attitude, reinforcement and character building as well as academics. And listen, kids are still kids. Mine make dumb mistakes all the time. They can be jerks to Bill and I and jerks to each other… we all have our days. But they are learning some valuable things about not just being a good student but about being a good person and that I’m really thankful for.

Other than that, it’s dancedancedance for this lady. She’s struggled a little bit to keep up with the flexibility and acro moves which caused a rough start this year. She kept thinking she there was just no way she would ever get them, but then, she just…did it, and no one was more surprised than her. The look on her face when came back upright after her first walk-over was “oh shit! did that just happen?!” It was pretty priceless to witness after months of failed-attempts. She has a great group of girls in her line who she really likes and has become close to one in particular so that was a big help getting through the toughest parts, but I think she’s now officially turned the corner from the “no I can’ts” to the “welp, it’s gonna be a lot of work but I know I cans”.

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There you have it! These two have done such a great job. After we got the report cards, we told them we’d take them out to a fancy family dinner. “Because we’re so smart?” Keaton asked, and I had to say, NOPE. I loved all the 3s and 4s on their report cards, but it was what we saw in the teacher’s comments that got them a crab and lobster dinner. Compassionate, good friend, role model, helper. Proud doesn’t begin to cover it.

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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.

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* 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.

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{*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.

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* 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.

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* 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.}

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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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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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