Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Luke's Newest Skill

He had a spotter, but he pretty much did it on his own, in a matter of three minutes. Lunch was the motivation. For the record, he still doesn't really hands-and-knees crawl yet, but that hasn't stopped him. He generally makes a good start on hands and knees, then resorts to the army crawl because it's just faster. He has also already fallen on his face several times after pulling up and then letting go with both hands and taking a step. I keep telling him he should practice balancing first, but apparently he doesn't have time for that. He is one busy little person.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Easter Bunny: Just Another Load of Hooey

It turns out that when I had misgivings about Ella perceiving Santa as a strange old guy coming into our house, I was spot on. This is the conversation that occurred in our house last night, starting at supper and finally ending at bedtime.

Dave: Ella, do you know what we are going to do Saturday night?
Ella: What?
Dave: We are going to leave a little salad on the table when we go to bed and the Easter Bunny is going to come and eat it.
Me: (in my head) What in the world is he thinking?!
Ella: (thinking hard) Daddy, you're just tricking me!
Laughter, followed by:
Ella: I don't wike Easter Bunnies.
Dave: (laughing) I know you don't.
Then there was more worrying and repeating of salad and Easter Bunny, etc. Fast-forward to bath time.

Ella: I'm going to eat all of the salad so the Easter Bunny can't have any!
Me: You don't have to worry about the Easter Bunny; he's not coming in this house.
Ella: Mommy, I want you to sleep with me all night long so the Easter Bunny doesn't come in.
Me: Dave! Get in here and fix this!
Dave: Ella, do you know what I'm going to do if the Easter Bunny comes in? I'm going to kick him in the bootie.
Me: (in an undertone to Dave) I was thinking more like telling her you made it up and it's not real, not telling her that we will kick animals.

A few minutes later.
Ella: Mommy, I want you to shut the door really tight so the Easter Bunny doesn't come in.
Me: The Easter Bunny isn't real. Daddy was just pretending, just like he was pretending that he had a Wocket in his pocket (also at bedtime; also not appreciated). If you see an Easter Bunny at the store, it's just someone dressed in a costume. There are real bunnies, and people like to look at and talk about bunnies at Easter, but there is no Easter Bunny and no one is coming into our house.

It continued until I finally reminded her that I would come to her or she could come to my bed if she woke up scared during the night. She did. Four times between 9:30 and 1:30, when she finally got in bed with me. She didn't wake up again after that, but she did sleep velcroed to my body. For once, I did not feel bad that there might not be room in the bed for Dave.

Dave did redeem himself at bedtime when I heard him talking to her about Jesus and Heaven. This morning, Ella told me that her memory verse for this week is "Jesus is risen!" I told her that was exactly right, and that's what Easter is all about.

She will get an Easter basket Sunday morning, but she picked it out herself at Target (of all things, she picked the Spiderman basket). She picked out her own chocolate bunny, though she doesn't know that I bought it. We also picked out a basket and some plastic eggs for Luke, and she knows I plan to fill them with Puffs since he can't have chocolate yet. We will dye eggs Saturday morning. She's having a party and an Easter egg hunt at school today. We will go to church Sunday morning - but we do that every week.

While I haven't put as much emphasis on the death and resurrection (yet, becuase she's not even 3) as I did about the birth at Christmas, she does understand that this holiday is about Jesus. So, the Easter Bunny myth has been dispelled, but I expect to spend many more nights reassuring her that no one will be coming into our house.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Birth Wish List

Eight months removed from Luke’s delivery (!) and with my sister’s pregnancy, I’ve been thinking a lot about birth. I’ve been reading birth stories and research and ACOG statements. It’s a huge interest of mine, and I think I’m on some sort of therapeutic path to heal my hurting soul about the birth that I missed. I’ve been grieving what I missed.

Yes, I am healthy and I have healthy children and I am forever grateful for that. But, yes, I am one of those women to whom the process matters. It matters a lot.

Last night, I was talking to Dave about my frustration with the medical community’s attitude toward birth in this state and the serious lack of options a birthing woman has here. We got on the subject of birth plans, and he asked me about mine. I didn’t even know where it was anymore since it never mattered anyway. He told me I should post it on the blog. I’m still not sure if he was making fun of me, but it got me thinking that it might be good for me to write it out again.

I don’t really like the term “plan” so much because that just seems to beg for something to go awry, so I’m calling mine a wish list. Truly, that’s what it is now, because I’ll likely never have another “birth”.

So, this is my wish list for the fictitious birth I’ll never have.

I would like to labor in quiet with the lights low and with the freedom to move as I please. Please enter the room quietly and please address me in a quiet voice before touching me.

I would like minimal interruption, so please address as many questions as possible to my support person.

I would like to push my baby out of my body in the position of my choosing, at my own pace.

I would like to catch the baby myself, so please do not touch me or the baby without asking.

I would like to deliver the placenta without assistance.

After Birth
I would like to hold my baby skin-to-skin and nurse immediately, so please postpone the newborn procedures until I am ready.

I would like to wait until the umbilical cord has stopped pulsing before cutting it.

That’s it. It seems so simple when I write it out.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


It's been a busy few days with a sick one and a zoo field trip, but the extra time at home let me get some new pictures.

I've been wearing Luke a lot because he hasn't been feeling well, so Ella has been wearing her baby on her back while she works, too. In this picture she's sporting a backpack carrier because it's the most similiar to my Babyhawk, but she also has a sling and a wrap. I don't use a sling because the one-shoulder carry isn't comfortable for me, but she likes hers because it's easy for her to put it on herself.

Here she is resting on her new blanket and pillow after our trip to the zoo. She very nearly put herself to sleep listening to Floyd Cramer while the babies (her students) napped on their nap mats. They nap face down, completely covered so that she has to lift the corner of the blanket to tell them to stop "squirming and wigglwing". Sometimes she has to straighten the blankets if they squirm too much.
This is what we found last night when it was her turn to get pajamas. I always take Luke out of the tub first, dry and diaper him, and leave him in the crib to play. Ella laughed and lauged at him (which he thought was hilarious) and then she asked me, "Do ducks do that?" She meant, do ducks baby-gnaw crib rails, and I told her I didn't know but this one does.
Caught! Playing in Ella's tea things. She still doesn't know, but he loves to sort through her basket of dishes. I'm pretty sure these would be off limits, but she did let him play in the baskets of food from her kitchen yesterday.
I just realized in looking at these pictures that Luke has Dave's eyes; they scrunch up and turn downward at the corners when he smiles.

Friday, April 08, 2011

Fundraising Success!

In my post about the Trike-A-Thon, I said that I would consider it a success if Ella asked one person for money and if she rode her tricycle at the Trike-A-Thon. She did both! I had to help her ask for money, but she did it. Her teacher said she sat on the trike and watched the other kids for a few minutes, but then she rode for about half an hour. She was really excited about it, and even traded trikes with one of her friends for a few minutes! That really surprised me.

Thanks to a very generous anonymous donation, Ella met the fundraising goal I set for her the first day and she ended up raising a total of $240 (excluding what Dave and I donated). The grand total for the school was $3180. It was a huge success for St. Jude's!

The H. Luke Update
Ella, Luke, and I were in their room after the bath the other night and I was dressing Ella while Luke played in the crib. Ella and Luke were laughing at each other through the bars, and he just pulled himself up to his feet like he's been doing it for years. He was so proud! The next morning when Dave went in there to get him, he was standing at the rail waiting for him. He has also realized that he can move from his stomach into a sitting position by himself, and while he isn't crawling in the traditional hands and knees way - he is going all over the place using the army crawl, pulling himself along with fists and elbows. And, with all this new mobility, he's finally sleeping again and a lot more content.

He isn't really making any recognizable sounds, except the occasional "Heeey", but he does engage in back and forth interaction and he mimics us. This morning, Ella was coughing and he looked up at her and coughed back, then smiled, waiting. She coughed at him. He coughed back. This went on for several minutes. Then I was telling Grandmother about it when we got to her house, and he started coughing again and looked expectantly at Ella.

Watching kids learn really amazes me.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

More About Spiritedness

I’ve almost finished reading Raising Your Spirited Child (Kurcinka), and I’ve been putting some of the suggestions into practice. For example, as Ella melted down Sunday evening out of frustration and exhaustion, I scooped her up and plunked her into the bathtub. One of the suggestions in the book is to use water when they start to lose control – water tables, baths, playing in the kitchen sink, etc. - because it is soothing to them. Initially, once she regained enough composure to use her words, she fussed at me because she didn’t want to come inside but she settled down and enjoyed the bath. She was a much happier child when she came out of the tub, and I put her on the fast track to bed – which is what she desperately needed.

I have found that, more than the practical suggestions, the book has given me a better understanding of her personality and how her mind and body work so that I can better handle it when she’s moving into the “red zone” – i.e. Out-of-Control Meltdown. I have a better understanding of the things that trigger her move to the red zone and what I can do to help her stay in the “green zone” – that peaceful place where she is in control of her emotions/body/words.

I have also learned a lot about myself and how my interactions with her can either move us both to red or keep us in green. As the adult, it’s obviously my job to maintain control of myself so I can help her learn to recognize when she’s losing control and learn how to regain/maintain control of herself. So not only do I have a better understanding of what triggers send her spiraling out of control, I also know what triggers send me spiraling out of control. Not so surprisingly, we have a lot of the same triggers: too many transitions, lack of quiet time to ourselves, invasion of personal space, and abrupt changes of plans, just to name a few.

I’ve learned that we are both introverts; loosely paraphrased, that means that we get our energy from spending time alone or with a close loved one (i.e. she can recharge by playing by herself or by having quiet time with me), and being with large groups or with people we don’t know well is exhausting for us. In complete contrast, extroverts get their energy by being around other people and they find that having too much time alone is exhausting. I took the survey for her and for myself, and both of us only scored 1 out of 9 on the extrovert list and 9 out of 10 on the introvert list. This didn’t surprise me, but I have a much better understanding of what it means now – of why I am like I am and why I often find myself so drained at the same times that she is struggling.

Case in point, a couple of weeks ago we had an open house scheduled for Sunday afternoon (our house is on the market, but that’s another story). We had a loose plan to go to church, eat lunch afterward in the fellowship hall, and then find somewhere to camp and watch basketball for a few hours. I had prepared Ella for this, with the assumption that we would all be camping somewhere together. On the way to church, Dave suggested we go to Buffalo Wild Wings to watch the games after church. Thinking of transitioning Ella, I assumed he meant we would just go there after we had lunch at church, and he assumed I knew he meant we would skip lunch at church and eat there. Regardless, I needed to transition Ella. Unfortunately, she happened to be present when we reconciled that difference, and she picked up my weird energy as I struggled to adjust to a different plan than what I had in mind. We decided to let her go home with Grandmother (She had been asking to, but she balked when she felt me waver about lunch.), so we went upstairs to find her. Grandmother already had her plate, so I got in line to fix a plate for Ella, still not sure if Dave and I were going to stay and eat or leave and watch basketball. I was concerned with making sure Ella was okay with going home with Grandmother and I thought it might be easier for her if we stayed to eat, but I knew Dave really wanted to leave and watch the games. In the background, Luke was fussing because he needed a nap. We were standing in line and Ella walked up to me and bit me. Hard, on the soft part of my thigh. She doesn’t generally bite, but she has bitten me just like that once before. I immediately bent down and corrected her, which led to tears, and more stimulation for me. As I stood there in the loud, bright (fluorescent lights really bother me sometimes) fellowship hall with a crying child on my shoulder and a fussing baby in the background,  feeling completely frazzled, I glanced up at what seemed like an impossibly long line to fix her a plate and I nearly lost it. There was too much talking, too much noise, too many people too close together, too much light, too much everything. I looked at Dave and said, “I have to get out of here. I want to leave.” I asked one of the ladies at the front of the line if I could go ahead of her to fix Ella a plate and she graciously agreed. I got Ella set up and reassured that I wasn’t leaving her forever and would be back to Grandmother’s to pick her up later, scooped up the now crying Luke, and practically ran out of there.

In talking it over with Dave, who thought I was really losing my sanity, I reached a few conclusions, thanks to my recent reading. I had had way too little sleep in the nights leading up to this, and that alone seriously impeded my ability to cope with the change of plans and the extra stimulation that a fellowship lunch usually brings. I was seriously stressed out about the open house, and had been for days, though it took me a while to realize and vocalize it. I wasn’t stressed about keeping the house clean, as Dave first believed when I was struggling to articulate – I was stressed about the thought that strangers were going to be walking through it and I was VERY resentful that I could not go home when I desperately needed a nap. I had not had enough quiet time to myself to recharge. I was one big, frazzled nerve ending trying to help another little frazzled nerve ending cope with all the same stresses. I know that she bit me because she was over-stimulated, too. The only other time she has bitten me (aside from the teething phase), it happened the exact same way, in the fellowship hall at church.

The good news is that I got out of there before I really lost control, and I had a calm afternoon while Ella had a calm afternoon playing at Grandmother’s. She decided to spend the night, and I decided to let her. I camped out on our couch, nursed Luke to sleep, and did not move for three hours when I got up to go to bed. The next morning, I was good to go again, and so was Ella.

I can’t say that the book is teaching me anything I didn’t already know on some level, but it is making me feel less like a socially inept freak and more like a normal person because now I have a better understanding of why I am so uncomfortable around crowds and strangers. It’s also helping me recognize when we (Ella and/or me) are headed for disaster so that I can take appropriate steps to mitigate it before we get beyond the coping point. I definitely think Ella is responding well to the things I’ve been practicing because she’s been doing a much better job of using her words when she’s upset rather than defaulting to an all-out, shrieking, tearful meltdown.

I think the book is worth the read, but I’d suggest you read How To Talk So Kids Will Listen and Listen So Kids Will Talk, by Faber and Mazlish, first. I’ve found that Raising Your Spirited Child suggests a lot of the same methods for helping your child learn to communicate (with words rather than shrieks, teeth, hands, etc), but How To Talk lays it out in a lot more detail with a lot more practical application.

I never really considered that I would learn so much about myself on this Great Parenting Adventure; it’s pretty liberating, if not disconcerting at times.

Monday, April 04, 2011

We Heart Soap

I have been trying to spend a little more one-on-one time with Ella lately (when she lets me, but more about that in a minute). The child loves soap, so we decided to make some ourselves. I can't take credit for the idea. Ella's friend from church and her very creative mother made little soap snow globes to give as gifts this past Christmas, and Ella has been using it in the tub lately. She also loves the AVON body paint soaps, which she calls deodorant and insists that I not rinse off before getting her out of the tub.

I Googled it, of course, and made my weekly trip to Michael's (We might go broke keeping EGR in craft supplies; she's quite the painter.) for the ingredients. It's easy-peasy.

Glycerin (I got clear with olive oil because she could use the extra moisture with all the scrubbing she does.)
Scented oil
Plastic molds (They make them especially for soap, but I bought candy molds because the shapes were more fun).

We melted the glycerin in the microwave, she dropped in the colors and scent, and I poured it into the molds. We made flowers, lions, monkeys, elephants, bears, a princess, a castle, and a carriage. We had so many, she decided to give some as gifts. I put away a handful in the bathroom drawer so I'd have extra when she runs out. I already had to give her a new one because she uses them up quickly. While we were cleaning up the mess (Did I mention that soap is self-cleaning?) I found some other candy molds that I didn't know I had, so next time we are going to make teddy bears for her friends at school. We took a picture (she arranged them on the towel for me); aren't they pretty? I think I had as much fun as she did, and I'm already scheming gift ideas.
I tried to have a girls' day with her and Aunt Becca yesterday, but she insisted that we bring Luke along. The plan was to drop Luke and Dave off at the house after church and pick up Aunt Becca for shopping. However, Ella informed me that "Luke will cry before we get back and we need to bring him with us because he's a baby." So, we brought him with us.

That's how it usually goes when I try to spend time with her by herself. She wants him to be there, too. He was napping the day we made soap, and she regretted afterward that he didn't get to sit in his high chair and watch. Occasionally, she doesn't want him around if she wants the tub to herself or for me to cuddle her at bedtime, but most of the time she wants him right there with us.