Monday, August 26, 2013

4 Months, 6 Months, 4 Years, Preschool and All!

How do I even begin to catch up for not blogging for since April?  Dave Ries teased me that I'd do a few posts when I started blogging then none until Elliot was 10 years old.  Looks like I'm headed that way!  And with photos constantly being posted on Facebook, it seems redundant to put them on here.  However, this is my running record of my children's development and where I will go to pick up details for Leah's baby book, so I'd better get updating!

Photos to come...

LEAH- she's now 7 1/2 months old. Nice and plump- she's a very happy baby (and everyone seems to comment on such!).  She'll grin at anyone passing by, and get a mischievous spark in her eye when she's interacting with people.  She's very much a people person and it is evident this early in her life.  She goes with the flow and gets toted everywhere.

In mid-July (so just over 6 mo old), she started to military crawl across the floor at Grandma and Grandpa Papczun's.  So cool to watch- she'd work so hard to get to whatever toy she wanted.  No teeth as of yet, but she's been gnawing on things for months now as if they are right there, waiting to bust through.

Now we're in late August (7.5 mo) and she's up on all fours, rocking, just on the verge of crawling properly.

Old updates: At her 4 mo check up back in early May, she was 12#15 oz, so very close to 13#, 23".  25th percentile across the board, even with those chunky rolls on her thighs!

6 mo check up in July- she was ??#  and ??" as Pat took them to the apt and I didn't get a proper update!  TBA.  I am going to regret not finding this info and filling it in when it comes time to do her 1-year album!!!

She's fully sitting up now and much more wiggly.  She readily cracks up at comments and expressions, almost always adding a good vibe to this household.  She was very spoiled on vacation a few weeks ago, as we were staying with other people and at any whimper, I would put her on my chest to sleep or nurse her.  Now that we are back home, it's been a week of crying when I leave the room and having to let her cry it out a little in her crib at various times.  She's skipping the early morning (4-5a?) nurse and has been taking it to 7am or so lately.  Happy momma!

This lady still won't take a bottle.  Pat did very well with her while I worked this summer- he had to make it through 7.5 hours with just babyfood.  Most days, she seemed ready to nurse but not crazy mad starving.  The last week, however, she got a bug and vomited, had a bit of a fever, and refused food for that week.  Then, yes, she was crazy ready to nurse!  Luckily it was the last 4 days of teaching.  We fell off even more with the food as we traveled and had visitors, but now I am back to a solid 2x per day, skipping some nursing, hoping to ween a little.

ELLIOT- He turned 4 in July.  We spent his birthday at the water park again with the neighbors and had a great time.  Lots of stuff was going on this summer and he had a peak with the tantrums, after I felt like we were getting over the hump a little and seeing some "growing up" happening.  Two steps forward, one back.
The BM issue has come and gone, over and over.  Right now, we're in a good swing.  The summer has been rocky with any routines, so now we are sitting after every meal and this is helping a lot.  Every time the pendulum swings the wrong way, however, we buckle down, grit our teeth, and do what we can to support him through the setback.  Pat, though, did some tough-loving with making him rewear dirty underwear one time after rinsing it only (he had to wear it wet), I followed through the next time, and it seemed to turn the corner for us.  So hard.

He learned to ride his bike without training wheels a few weeks before his 4th birthday.  Such a big deal- he loves it and has now gotten really good at stopping and starting.  He wants to ride to school everyday!  It's darling to see- he's so little and is a speed demon.

Since mid-June, we've had my sister in from Lebanon with her two kids, along with my mom and brother (all at once!  It really was great!) for 5 days, made two trips to OH to see family, had friends from France stay with us for 2 weeks (very fun- they were very missed!), spend a week in Portland with those French friends at my brother's, hit Missoula for a weekend, and I taught for 5 of those weeks while Pat was home with the two kids.  So yes, I am looking forward to routine this fall.

Elliot started preschool today.  This was the narrative I sent to Pat on email after coming home.  No, no real tears from me, but moments where I just watched in awe as he pedaled down the sidewalk, on his way to school.

Elliot was great all morning. Nice, relaxing, perfect on the timing. He was excited. He was locking up his bike at school and and said he was nervous. I told him you were really nervous too but that it was good to be nervous because that meant you wanted it to go well and cared about what was happening. He kept saying he was nervous. We saw Izzy and her mom waiting, too, and that seemed to ease him a ton.  He took his moose from the bag, showed it off, then kept it close. While we were waiting by the door, he started kissing my leg and counting (we had agreed upon 10 hugs and 10 kisses). I started to say that he didn't have to say bye yet, but he got distracted by 4 or so... He walked/barged right into the classroom when it opened (I just let him go and waited my turn to sign in, etc). After a bit, I showed him where his cubby was, to put his moose in when he was done- he promptly dropped it and ran off to play. Jane asked us to stay and help build their journals- we did so, he drew (scribbled), and was very into it, commenting that yes, indeed, they were already doing fun stuff! He finished, started digging into other things- I asked an aid if this was a good time to go and she said yes. I got E's attention to say bye, "Ok, give me those hugs and kisses!" With attitude, he says, "But I already did!" I told him I was going home and he hardly noticed that I left.

Some friends have said day two is the tell-tale time or next week, once the novelty has worn off.  We shall see.  I do wish it was a little longer- only 2.5 hours, but daily.

The eating is 10x better, but not all that better when our visitors had kids who were better behaved and better eaters!  Again, makes me readjust my goals now that I'm home and routines can happen better.  First- no snacks!  Or very few...

He has fully outgrown his naps.  And with such a full summer, the bedtimes were very late, a lot!  I am sure this aided in his lovely ability to throw a major tantrum and sustain it for a while.

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Thank goodness it's springtime!  Cabin fever is full-blown at this house.  The rain has been oppressive, too, but if it's somewhat warmer and we get a bit wet racing back from a walk, that's better than the cold at this point. 
Updates are throughout the photos.  I need to be better at getting updates on here- do I say that every post now?!  General stuff- Leah is about 15 weeks now.  She might be getting teeth this early as her fist is constantly in her mouth and the drool is starting.  We shall see.  Elliot was much later than this with teeth.  She is so reactive- it seems Pat can make her laugh on demand.  She laughs heartily out loud with tickling, grins at nearly everyone, and seems to be very entertained by Elliot's antics.  Very easy going baby, as Elliot was (believe it or not!) at this age.  She is working hard at arching to flip over already, sometimes sticking with it very well and sometimes screaming in frustration.  She is learning to grab toys and we watched her discover her fist while traveling over Easter- she just kept staring at it, amazed, while the other hand stayed open and relaxed.  Lately she's been napping less during the day but more at night- the last two nights were great... 5-6 hour stint, nurse quickly, sleep again for a few hours.  Basically 10:30p-7a with one feeding.  I'm very happy (and rested!).
Elliot is giving us more and more glimpses of growing out of the terrible 18mo-4 years, as my sister calls it.  The tantrums are still full-blown but we have more time between them, they have been more predictable (ah, he hasn't eaten his dinner...) or he is more pleasant during the non-tantrum times!  Maybe the spring weather is helping him blossom as well!  He's been out on his bike a lot lately and wanting to walk to the lake or play outside.  He has soccer twice a week with the park district that is great for him and we get to storytime at the library about every week.  It is so great to see him sitting still, listening to the stories well, answering the questions, responding to the soccer coach ("Mom, Coach Gino told me to not use my hands and I listened!").  Crazy to think that he'll be in preschool come fall!!  Yikes!
We spent almost a week jumping around Ohio to see family and friends.  It went very well with the visiting- Elliot got to see almost all of his cousins minus the overseas ones and some who had a bug going through their house.  He played well and really enjoys connecting with them and our friends' kids.  This age is great- he's actually playing interactively with other kids and it's fun to see him run around with others.  The traveling part of the trip became weary- the naps were too few and far between, and the bedtimes were too late.  It all built up and by the time we were at my mom's for the second leg, he was melting down constantly.  One day was FULL of tantrums and I about lost my mind.  Pat had flown back to start school again (break was over) and Elliot seemed to get in that mode of not being able to snap out of the rut- a lunch out with my mom's cousins and a dinner with some more cousins turned into me battling a screaming, hyperventilating toddler the entire time.  Seeing that he was so sleep deprived and the eating is not consistent when traveling (the one night he awoke because of something, which awoke my nieces in the same room, so he crawled into bed with me, then he fell out of my bed twice, screaming, with the night stand and lamp falling over on him the second time), I guess what else could be expected?
The drive from NE OH to SW OH was supposed to be 3h45m so I thought it was no problem to do solo.  How bad could it be?  Well, Miss Mellow decided to cry or scream about 4 of the 5+ hours it took me.  I stopped 4 times to nurse her, hoping to konk her out, and each time she just continued the protest.  Elliot took it in stride, but whew, I was ready to be there.  I ended up being glad that it was the first leg that went so badly, as it couldn't have gone much worse, so I knew what I was up against.  The 4 1/2 hr drive to Chicago?  Wonderful, one stop, Leah slept almost the entire time, and Elliot was begging me to stop, "She's hungry, Mom!  We need to stop..." even though she was sleeping, as he always gets to play in the passenger side while I nurse her when we stop.  We made record time.  Made up for the other leg.
As I am writing this, Leah has worn herself out trying to flip over, has stopped with her back still arched, her torso twisted, and seems to have given in to exhaustion... I think she's asleep.  What a doll.
The last week or so, Elliot has been very sweet to her.  He asks to stop the swing so he can give her a quick kiss, and does just that.  He'll want to hug her, snuggle into her, and laughs at her funny expressions.  There really seems to be a bonding going on.  Pat and I snuck a watch of him and her interacting while she was playing on the playmat- he was unzipping her pjs so he could do sherberts on her belly, then zipped her all back up, all while talking to her in this high-pitched voice he seems to use with her.  We just stood and felt our hearts beam.  Now I see why my mom always wanted us to get along!  
When we get out, a fav is this cafe in Chinatown.  Elliot eats well there and we snapped a shot for proof!

Leah is a snuggle bunny!  Rocking her this way is one of the tricks to get her to sleep.
At Grandma and Grandpa Papczun's- we still didn't get a shot of her and Grandpa!  
Playing with Pat's brother's kids.  As you can see, Kyle (9) became a big buddy of Leah's- he wanted to hold her often!  It was so sweet.  

The weather was nice so the cousins made it out for a hike at a quarry.  Great time for everyone and Aunt Jen dug out some bundly things for Leah to keep her toasty as I did not pack for any outdoor activities!

She slept the whole hike.

Easter morning at Grandma Ulrich's church- Elliot thoroughly enjoyed the Easter Egg Hunt.

The crew at church- and that's Elliot's new "give me a smile!" reaction in front.
My munchkins on Easter morn.  Someone dubbed Leah my little Easter chick!
"Are they hatching?"  Just kidding- dying eggs with Uncle John and the boys.

Easter lunch at Grandma Ulrich's.
Catching Abigail and Chandler playing with Leah.
Couldn't get this flipped, but Abby, Rachel, and Lindsey were the full-fledged Leah fan club, especially when so turned off by Elliot's tantrums!

At church in Chicago.  This is Ms. Nemi- she has taken a special interest in Elliot.  She tells us that he's "full of life" and warns us to not be too hard on him so we don't squash his energy... 
One of Elliot's buddies at church- there's 3 boys that make a point to engage with him each time we see them.
Baby shower for the minister and his wife- another girl!  With Bonnie and Carenen- who will always have that special place as the person who was perfectly timed to be here, having a cup of tea, when my labor with Leah started so fast.
The huddle at soccer class.
Enjoying the double stroller we were so generously given.  Nice to get everyone to the lake, and this time Leroi was with us!  For some reason, Elliot loves getting this thing out.

Elliot taking charge of the dog.

At the point on a warm spring evening.  We got caught in the rain for the walk home, but Elliot enjoyed taking off his shoes and running around with the dog.
I couldn't resist playing dress up with this hat.
Elliot showing off his MN shirt Stephanie brought.
So great to see Avery and family.  Awesome that they interacted so well together.  Made me go back and browse through the old photos of when they were infants and Jen and I would go out and about with them to the museums and such.
My prediction- they are trouble together.  Leah's a sweet baby, but she has a glint in her eye sometimes and is just too entertained by Elliot's antics.
My little leprechaun at one of his last art classes.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Singing Contest

I was all set to write this post yesterday, complaining that Elliot was STILL pooping in his pants.  Today he proved me wrong- YAAAAAHOOOOOOOOO!  One successful squat on the pot is such a big deal that it has to promise more.  Right?  We were close this morning, with  him at least sitting to try when the prancing started, but to no avail.  We had places to go (tumbling class and an indoor playspace at a local church) and we trucked on.  The good deed happened at the church and trust me, I was mouthing "Hallelujah!"

Last night, though, the prancing started and I just have to share this tidbit.  Elliot had been acting nasty as well (which often goes hand-in-hand) and Pat had been dealing with the behavior as I slipped out for a walk and lake therapy.  I came home to Pat strongly encouraging him to sit on the potty and the frustration was getting the best of him.  I reminded him (as is so easy to do when you're not the one in the midst of it!) that we needed to take it in stride and not connect the pooping to his other punishments. 

That morning, Elliot and I had had a good talk about his successes with bms last fall at Kathy's and with Renee and how he was 3 then, not even 3 1/2.  He readily told me all about those times.  I also have tried to treat his moaning and pacing/circling with a "Yay!  Everything's working!  Your body is telling you exactly when you need to go to the potty!  How great!"  without much luck.

So, when he was eating dinner, I decided to simply sing some encouragement.  Again, all these damn things you readily do as a parent that seem so weird... I was now singing about poop.  I can't even remember the tune I made up but it included phrases like, "Elliot can poop in the potty, Elliot can poop in the potty, he's done it before, many times before.  You can do it, you can do it, you did it last fall, all of the time..."  He was giggling and laughing and I thought, "Hey, I can make light of this and plant some deep seeds."  Soon Elliot joined in and was singing the tune.  For one verse.  Then he made up his own lyrics that were, "I'll never poop in the potty, I'll never poop in the potty, I'm making poor choices, I'm making poor choices.  I will only poop in my underwearrrrrr, I will only poop in my underwearrrrrr."  Yep.  The little twerp.  I couldn't believe it.

He certainly feels proud of himself for overcoming this OVER A MONTH LONG issue for at least once, so I hope that carries him through the next time he gets the urge to go. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Still Amateurs...

Fun photos first, followed by the blabbering...
 She's been grinning and responding like crazy.  One evening, she just laid there and cooed and ahhed and smiled at Pat for a good 15 minutes or more- guess she's just already practicing how to work Daddy!
 Um, Dad?  Could you put her down to sleep, please?
 I'm lucky that another baby loves the Moby wrap! 
 Big brother, helping out.
 I think every Friday night my camera can find Leah asleep on Pat, him asleep too!  So exciting, this family life. (Although she looks awake here...??)
 Dave White, cousin from CO, was in town and stopped over for a visit.  We had a great time and Elliot loved him.  Of course, any fancy phone is a hit.
 Leah was NOT up for the photo shoot this day, but mom persevered, all in the name of fashion.
 This is the new bed we ordered for Leah- it's awesome.  Like a hammock for babies.  She sleeps very well in it (before, she would only sleep on us or propped up on our pillow in our bed).
Love capturing this moment, even if it's so grainy. 
The best I could get, trying to coerce Elliot into a shot with Leah as she was hamming it up.  He was there a split second and my camera has a delay.
The latest-- trying to use my reading/writing teacher brain to think about how to organize my updates- by child or by topic?  Let's start with Elliot.
Elliot is still struggling with the bms, which means we are, too.  The abnormal has become the norm.  This is where we are all still amateurs- I said to Pat the one time, "What do you think we should do?" and he responded with, "I don't know, I've never done this before..."  We're still trying to take it in stride.  Last week, Elliot went from Saturday until Thursday, using all his efforts to hold in his poop.  (And he's already on daily doses of Miralax... man, this kid has stamina!).  Called the doc, we were ready to go the suppository route when nature prevailed over his strong will.  He's been a bit more regular since- he's eating much better and I am trying to coach him with "You're eating things to make yourself go, then you're not listening to your body.  Your intestines are yelling at you and all the veggies are working, go with it!" 
His palette has expanded, which is more than wonderful.  He still is resistant to new foods, but with the positive chart we have up, rewarding trying new foods, eating vegs, staying in his seat, feeding himself, eating without a battle, etc, it seems to be working long-term.  Some days he works against it on purpose if he's in a rotten mood, and other days he's super proud.  It is so true, though, after too many battles over food, that going with the flow and taking it stride is a much better choice.  (Which, in hindsight, only makes sense, but it's not so obvious when you're in the midst of it all!)  Our meal times are rarely rough, as we have to hold onto the old notion that he'll eat when he's hungry.  And, although he's stubborn and would hold out for a long time, he seems to let down his guard so much when there isn't a battle-- no battle?  No fun, ok, I guess I'll eat a little.  We're timing meals and putting up the food when it's time, and my job is to refrain from nagging (and he reminds me of that!- "Mom, you can't say anything...").  It is the same outcome short-term and much better outcome long-term, so we're winning on this front.  Many days (like today), he went to bed without taking a bite for lunch.  We were awaiting another bm, of course, so we just put lunch in the fridge and assume he'll eat it later.
The big plus that has come out of this is that his snacks have been minimized without any effort on our part- his choice is only the food he didn't eat before. 
He is more quick-witted than ever- yesterday, when he demanded I warm up his lunch, I said, "Elliot, could you please ask me nicely to warm up your lunch?"  and he responded with, "Mom, could you please do anything I want you to do?"  Wow.  We are working very hard to coach him on proper, less-attitude-filled responses.  We hate to admit it, but we're giving a good whack immediately when he tarts back with major nos, "I don't want to..." or "I will never..." which is his favorite lately.  We explained that if timeouts or explanations had worked, we would not have to go the spanking route, but we tend to give too much lee-way and chances, and then, of course, he takes all those liberties and pushes it one step further.  I am realizing (again, duh, right?) that he begs for these boundaries with his behavior.  It's unfair to do otherwise and then expect him to police himself at this age.  Nip it fast, and he knows.  Give him an inch, and it's a mile mess later. 
I don't know how many times a day I say, "Elliot, please say that in a normal tone."

We are softies and are trying to compensate.  It's hard when we think his little quirks are entertaining and funny- really bad for parenting.  We do better with the infant stage, ha!  I believe, at this stage, it's half nurture, half nature.  We don't hesitate to share with others what a challenge he is, and lately, I've begun to think that we need to take this in stride.  We know it's our Elliot, we should expect the like and tackle it, it's our job, and stop bemoaning it (like on this blog?!).
Elliot is a sponge for information lately.  He is obsessed with outer space and the details there- this has lasted the last month or so.  We've had to brush up on our knowledge to get him the proper information.  I thought one of the coolest things he did the other day was say, "Hey, dad was wrong.  Mercury is NOT close to the sun..." as he saw on Cat-in-the-Hat that Mercury was still very far from the sun.  Kinda neat that he's questioning parents, as I remember thinking as a kid that my parents were right about everything.  Then, two days later, he says out of the blue, "Dad was right, Mercury is the CLOSEST to the sun..." clarifying the details after we had discussed it a few times. 
He can rattle off facts and planet names like you wouldn't believe.  He's constantly making connections between words and meanings.  A dunk tank was in one of his books, and he referenced the gas tank in a car after inquiring what a tank was.  It's always with the little index finger in the air, "Just like...."  Yep.  Love those little ah-ha moments and they seem to be often at this stage.
Leah had her 2-month check up yesterday- healthy and doing great!  She's responding so much more lately.  She weighs 10lb, 3 oz, is 22.5" long.  Around the 25th percentile almost across the board (a bit higher for height).  I went back on this blog to see where Elliot was at this point, as we all think she's so much thicker than he was-- he was just over 10lb at 2 1/2 mo.  So she's 2 weeks ahead in weight. 
It's fun to compare them- I took Elliot to school at Byrne at about this age and he was inhaling bottles from us, no issues at all, even cold.  Leah, well, she'll fuss and fight it.  It'll get in her, but nursing is so much easier and cleaner!  She has spit up maybe 3 times? whereas Elliot was a big spitter-upper.  She also has a lot more head control than he did, but his noggin was so large!
Her latest is the cooing and ahhing, as well as doing this periscoping with her head- she'll turn it consistently from side to side, seemingly taking in all of her surroundings and lodging the new information in her brain. 
Nights are better- she's getting good at sleeping 4 hours or so, eating in bed with me (not even a need to sit up), and going back to sleep relatively soon.  Sometimes she stays awake to play, but she has been a really good baby and not very fussy at all.  I feel rested and pretty good, overall.  The baby pounds are not melting off as they did with Elliot, but I'm older (bleh), it's winter (more bleh), and there's two of them to get out for walks or movement.  I've taken the exercise bike and placed in the living room- not ideal, but I've been using it consistently.  I am sure this is helping with my sleep and feeling ok.  Do I dare say I think I feel better personally overall than I did when there was one infant? 
I was thinking back and calculating just how much our routines have been upturned because of Leah.  I am one of those people who counts things like this.  We've had 6 overnight guests, plenty of other guests (all whom have come with yummy food!), have gone to OH once so far, spent two late nights at friends' houses, all in the past 2 months.  That alone might upset a toddler's rhythm.  I keep thinking we'll start laying low soon, but there are still people we have not caught up with who are on my list to contact. 
As I look ahead, though, I keep scheduling more.  This week, we are attempting a trip to the farm in OH without Pat (a friend of mine is coming along, yay!).  My dad is up and down, and I was hoping to help mom a bit by visiting him during the week so she could get more accomplished at home.  Then, we have close friends coming in 2 weeks to stay (more yay!).  After that, we realized that we need to use Pat's spring break at the end of March to go see his side, as we always need more time on that end to catch all the different people who are spread out (compared to the farm where we just stay put mostly).  Just after getting all that organized, I found out that my sister will be at the farm in OH the following week- of course we can't miss them!  So after spending 4 days with Pat's side, Pat is flying home so he can be back at work after break and I am trucking on with the kids to catch the Carpenters for a few more days, then coming back to Chicago.  Maybe we can lay low in April...?  I just hope the travel gods are with us.  We love staying connected and really don't see any other option than to utilize the time we have.  I can say that I hope the messiness we've had lately (literally!  ha!) isn't exacerbated by all this running around, but at the same time, I'm not willing to stay put simply because of the few struggles that come with the territory as we're already in that mess, right?

Friday, February 22, 2013

Is poop my every other word?

We are on, um, I think the 8th time or so of Elliot pooping in his pants, without even one voluntary effort to resume his daytime routines of being completely potty trained. It is going on 2 weeks now. I'll admit-I've been less than compassionate and patient at times, and have read a lot and called the pediatrician for reassurance. It takes all my efforts to do as advised-let him poop in his pants as much as he wants with no reaction from us, only mild encouragement. His words are exactly, "I'm doing everything I can to hold my poop," and "I want to only poop in my pants because it feels good." And yet he will apologize. I went back to pull ups at one point but was advised against that too. This is all just shitty.


Meanwhile, Leah us starting to look like she's months old, not 6 weeks! She's growing very fast.

Saturday, February 16, 2013