Monday, March 29, 2010

Cousin RJ comes to Chicago!

Well, cousin RJ came to Chicago with his mom and dad, Jill (my 1st cousin) and Jarrod. RJ is just 4 months older than Elliot, which is becoming less and less of a spread as they grow. They were here to stay with some friends, so we all met at the aquarium and it was great to catch up. RJ has been walking for a few weeks, and he's hard to keep up with! I am just fine with Elliot taking his time to crawl, walk, whatever the motor method might be.

On Saturday, I went to the store and when I came back, Pat had given Elliot an animal cracker. Elliot chomped it (and soggied it) pretty well, so he gave him another. So his two little teeth seem to work! I pulled out some puffs that I had bought and it's quite funny to watch the eye-hand coordination developing. I see glimpses of Uncle Brad/Grandpa Ulrich (sorry guys, but you know it's true) when he gets frustrated and pounds his hands on the tray because he either did not make it into his mouth or the little puff stuck to his hand and won't come off easily. Well, maybe mom has some of those qualities, too...

The distraction of having something to work on in the high chair has helped the amount of babyfood I can sneak into his pesky little mouth. The tickling method was not nearly as successful once he figured out what I was doing and he started working really hard to laugh with his mouth shut.

He's also working on clapping, but rarely do the two little hands meet.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Back to School!

I went back to work today, after my nerves kept me scrubbing in the kitchen until midnight. Finally, Pat said, "Hon, you have to go to bed."

Elliot woke up before I left around 6:30am, so instead of letting him cry himself back to sleep (and it really did seem like he might not do so), I quickly got a little snuggling in and left him crying with Pat in our bed. Kinda hard, but when you just gotta get out the door early, there's not too much time for reflection. Last night were the few tears.

Luckily, the way it all worked out with timing, the sub, and what the administration wanted, I have two transition days with the sub still there, then we have spring break, and on April 5th, it's a full-go for me. It's seventh grade this year, thus I don't know names, and the sub wants to wrap a few things up anyway, so this is ideal. Although, for not really teaching much today, I sure am beat! It seemed every trip to the ladies' room involved catching up with a few people on the way.

Of course, Elliot did fabulously. The bottle issue is a non-issue at this point, and this week I tried hard to mimic his upcoming adjustment by not nursing him until late afternoon everyday, which went fine, too. Our good friend, Nancy, came to watch Elliot while Pat was gone (Leroi's owner) and we were so glad that she helped out so generously! I grabbed salads on my way home to cover dinner and we seem to be in decent shape. But I have to force an early bedtime now!

I have to say, it felt pretty darn great to be back in the classroom, interacting with the kids. As much as I am heartbroken to leave Elliot, we had a great start for his first 8 months, and it seems that the aching will fade quite fast since the day at school flies by. It probably helps that I know summer break is in 11 weeks. I expected to be more distracted or upset, and I really wasn't while at school. Now, the drive home could have been faster... :)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Second Trip to the Aquarium.

We joined Claire, Diane, and Martin for an afternoon at the aquarium last weekend. The fish are great for the kids to watch, but Elliot just didn't quite comprehend the 12' anaconda that would have eaten him as a snack.

I start work tomorrow. Pat's home with Elliot, and Nancy, our good friend, is helping out for a few hours while Pat takes care of a few work commitments. This will be my first full day away from him. We had an awesome day today, but there were a few mommy tears here and there... Just so glad I love my job. I am itching to get in front of a classroom again even though this little guy has my heart.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Kisses for Mom, Spurts for Dad.

Funny update on the kisses front: Elliot continues to give me multiple sloppy smooches, but each time Pat tries to persuade him for the same, Elliot pulls back, sticks his tongue out, and gives a good spurt. Of course, dad returns the favor with zerberts on Elliot's cheeks, and the give-and-take continues. It's hilarious. No kisses for daddy!

Saturday, March 20, 2010


We've had some fun play times lately. Riley, our neighbor, came over to play (he has a little sister coming in 2 months!). We were dogsitting, so we all went out for a walk and to the park. This is the aftermath... everyone was tired, but Riley held up better than Elliot and Leroi, as you can see!

Then we went to see Chance and Lora. Lora teaches kindergarten at Byrne with me, and our students work together a lot. Chance is 4, and was diagnosed back in October/November with stage 3 lymphoma. He's had quite a battle, but they have been amazingly positive and patient, and he is doing great now, full of energy. I played football with him while Lora snuggled my whiney Elliot. He required a wardrobe change part way through, thus the undershirt! Chance made him laugh out loud so much, it was darling. We had a great time together.

Elliot Kisses!

Pat's brother's kids at the funeral. We failed to get any shots of his sister's kids... Can you see where the coloring comes from?! He could be #4 in that family!

I can hardly get a shot now without that darn thumb in his mouth.
Major play session with dad while I got to nap-- I was so grateful!

Elliot has started to open his mouth wide, grab my head, softly maul my jawline or cheek, and sometimes there's even a "mmma" sound with it. We figure this is his version of kissing. And sometimes he ends up with a little suction. It's quite funny, and he gets in spurts where he'll do it over and over. Dad doesn't get as many kisses as me, and I figure that's the whisker factor. And the smooches seem to be at his whim, you can't ask for them.

He also will slap a five on your hand, which is fun.

That's the good stuff and today was definitely a good day that was needed. This week has been rough. Last night was the first night in almost 2 weeks that Elliot slept through the night... it started before our trip to Ohio and then, of course, the trip jostled things up, and Elliot was a grumpy gus for a few days, not napping well either. I was complaining and venting, just saying to my mom yesterday that when this has happened before, just as it seems to put me at my breaking point, Elliot straightens up. And voila, we all ended up in bed this morning together, sleeping until 10am, he napped decent today, and was in really good form. And I got a nap in, too! I was getting worried with work coming up if this continued. We'll see how next week goes.

It's just been a tiring week already, with the funeral, some other family issues on my side, trying to squeeze in things we had planned, and so I was not very patient with Elliot's timing. Obviously, this too shall pass, eh? Onward and upward!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Quick Trip to Ohio.

Pat's last grandmother (his dad's mom) passed away and we made the quick trip to Ohio for her services on Mon-Tuesday. We are tired but it is always good to catch family. Too bad these trips end up being so short and spurred by funerals, but it has given us contact with family that we might not otherwise see.

Monday's departure time of 2pm became 4:30, and was postponed after our cat showed symptoms that required a vet visit before we left.

Uncle Mike, who is really Pat's great uncle on his mom's side, turned 80 this past year. He drove the 1 1/2 hours in and spent the afternoon with all of us, snuggling with Elliot and talking to him. I so wished I would have thought to bring out the camera for the interaction-- it was so cute. He is one of the family members who we rarely see, but because of the grandmas passing in October and now in March, we were able to catch up with him each time.

Elliot did pretty well, considering the jostling in and out of the car, the no-napping, and lack of play time. He got plenty of attention to keep his mood up for most of the time!

He did have one meltdown in the car, and we were on the Ohio Turnpike... next service plaza, 26 miles. This doesn't sound that bad, until you consider that I already tried a bottle and had sung Itsy Bitsy Spider plenty of times. I was relieved when I saw the next green sign until I read that it said 12 more miles! Really!? I started a rendition of 100 Bottles of Milk on the Wall, Pat joined in, it worked good enough, and we actually got down to 35 bottles of milk by the time the 12 miles were up. He just needed out of the car for a bit and Pat got him to eat.

Once again, we failed to get good photos of the cousins, etc. That's hard to think about at a funeral, of course.

Work starts in one week. I've got plenty to keep me busy in the meantime.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

More Pure Joy.

So I think it went well, don't you?


We are dogsitting for some friends... Elliot's buddy, Leroi, is over for the weekend. Here is a sampling of how much Elliot enjoys Leroi's company (and mind you, this has been a bad weekend for the boy with whining, grumping, missed naps, etc, so this happiness is much appreciated!).

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Byrne Family.

Today, we visited my school to touch base with the teacher in my room and to see everyone. Elliot gave a lovely pouty lower lip and huge tears, out of character, upon the first person holding him, but he warmed up soon. We loved seeing everyone and Elliot even gave some answers out loud in class. (Thanks for your patience, Diane Lacki!) School was in session, and the groups of kids seemed a little overwhelming to Elliot, but he did fine. He got plenty of attention!!

I always forget to expect how worn out we get, though-- I didn't even get to catch everyone I wanted to before I found myself weary and shaky after realizing too late I needed food and drink (and most of you can relate to getting out the door, then realizing you should have eaten more breakfast...). Jen Long was nice enough to insist that I eat her yogurt. By then, Elliot had been fed but needed a nap pretty bad... I felt we rushed off without proper goodbyes and missed the end of the day when most people could have really visited with me. I need to plan better for trips like this. I should know better with the energy it takes to keep him fed.

Reassurance. Edited.

The night out for the CPR class was preceded with ridiculously irrational nightmares for me. So silly. I'm sure my return to work soon is spurring some of this, too.

I was apprehensive as to what kind of a time Claire, Martin, and Diane would have with Elliot, as he only had one nap and at 4:30 gave me a battle over a second one with no success. Surely, I thought, he will go down early and it's no biggie if there's no bottle.

We had no cell phone reception for the 3-hour class, but had no missed calls... the walk up the stairs home was brisk, as we were so curious to see if we would encounter an awake, starving Elliot, or a screaming one, or if he had cooperated and was sleeping soundly. He was sleeping soundly, and so was Diane in the pack and play.

Claire and Martin had taken some photos to show us of the two kids interacting-- so cute. I will get a hold of them and post them soon. As the photos progressed, one appeared of Martin successfully giving Elliot a bottle!! I gasped, thrilled, so thankful that they even attempted it, and hammered them for details. Apparently it was a 15-minute battle but he drank the whole thing and they even attempted a second one to be sure. He did not go down early, but at least he was fed and they didn't invest a lifetime getting it done! We recently discovered that Martin has a beautiful singing voice, and that was the secret weapon, so I am afraid we all need to do some vocal training to survive this transition.

I was so relieved and reassured. Whew.

Editorial Update: Hehem, this mom attempted a bottle as well today, and it was taken with MAYBE a minute of protest... clean and fast. I think we're good to go. :)
My favorite monkeys... what a pair, eh?

Sunday, March 7, 2010

We have a tooth!

Elliot's first little tooth is starting to appear on bottom. Not easily visible yet, but we can definitely feel it.

Update on the bottle front... two nights after the big initial showdown, Pat was getting to his post, etc, to keep up our efforts. After 20 minutes of hearing NO protests, I assumed they had not started, but alas, he took 3 oz fairly easily and was done. We thought we were in fine shape and we were all proud that we had "broke" him... until the next try when the monster decided to rear his little attitude again.

Yet, even for the protests the next time, it was 45 minutes to get a full bottle down instead of the HOUR and 45 minutes, so we have major improvement! As a teacher, this kid would have gotten major kudos for such a marked improvement. The big problem was that I was out for a haircut, and the first few attempts were no-gos... so his stubbornness allowed him to go 6 HOURS without eating simply because it wasn't the format he wanted (he decided to nap instead, etc).

There is going to have to be extreme diligence on our end to make this work. More than one other parent told me that their child would just eat very little with the caregiver and save up to eat like crazy when mom was home to nurse. I really hope he doesn't go this route since he's already a bit on the tiny side...

We can do this.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Getting Ready for Miss Renee and the Bottle Battle.

He's such a monkey when it comes to these foam letter blocks.

The week started off rough. I've had this loose plan in my head to give Elliot a bottle every day, to use up some outdating milk in the freezer and to get him ready for Miss Renee who will be watching him in a few weeks... well, timing was bad, or whatever, and I failed at this attempt for a while. Unconsciously, I have stopped giving him bottles and took for granted that he always took them. So, yep, you guessed it, he is refusing the bottle now.

We are at the 3 weeks 'til show time mark, so we needed to get down to business with getting him on a bottle. Monday was an all-out battle between him and me. I tried midday, thinking that he wouldn't be grumpy and this is when Renee will be giving them. After 30 minutes of absolutely the worst tantrum he has ever given me, and about half a dozen good, concerted efforts, I gave up and nursed him. Of course, he was grand after that and in great form. He got what he wanted. Peh. Elliot:1, Mom:0. I mean it was sobs and screams while he laid his head on my shoulder that went into hyperventilating. We have a stubborn one, it seems. And I realized after the fact that he was digging his heels in just as much as I was which was not a solution.

After putting out an APB to other parent contacts and receiving tons of tips, I felt the frustration fizzle and Pat and I braced ourselves for a task that had to be tackled.

Tuesday... Pat attempted a sippy cup first and then a bottle. After I sat here for 1 hour and 45 minutes listening to him scream, then Pat comforting him, then more screaming, FINALLY Pat walked back into the room with an exhausted, asleep baby on his shoulder and an empty bottle. Elliot:0, Dad:1. I was pretty impressed with Pat's efforts and determination since I had not been successful the night before. But I should have left the house instead of sitting there listening and stressing. The only thing that gave me perspective was realizing that Pat was the one in the midst of the tantrum and was the one who had to stick it out, no matter what; thus he was worse off than me who was simply listening.

The aftermath of the showdown between Pat and Elliot.
Here's hoping that the battles lessen and we are on to greener pastures. I had really not realized how attached he had become to me, so it's good that we're nipping this in the bud.

On Monday, we have a CPR class and Claire and Martin (with Diane) are watching Elliot. I realized as I started to organize what they would need to know that we have never left him for someone else to put to bed-- we've always gone out during the afternoon. That might be another adventure...


Updating some photos of Avery and Elliot. Elliot seems more aggressive than Avery. He kept pulling at her sleeve and taking off her sock. I hope this isn't something to worry us as parents already!! And look at that flirty look. Eeep.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Playing, it's what he does.

The letter M, brought to you by Elliot.

Oh, and on another note, I saw on a friend's blog that she has trouble here and there with the videos not appearing as well... so it's a blogger issue. I've found that they sometimes reappear if you check back later. Sorry.