Thursday, August 21, 2008

Back to normal (wherever that is)

We've been sleep-training both boys for the last few days, and tonight it feels like everything has taken a turn for the better.

I put Nate to bed without any crying or tantrums, lots of hugs and kisses. I explained that if he came out of his room that I would have to lock the door, and it seems to have worked. The door's unlocked and Nate's in there talking to himself and singing, just like he used to. I can't tell you how much I love sitting in my room working and hearing him enjoying his own company. It fills me up.

Jack cried himself to sleep again tonight for all of 3 minutes before he was asleep. I started the full-on training last week and for several days he slept straight through 'til 5 or 6 am (and once until 7:30!) But two nights ago he was awake and inconsolable at 3:30 and I caved and gave him a bottle. Last night? Up at 2 am. Shocking, right?

Well I did it. I toughed it out and let him cry himself back to sleep. It took about 20, 25 minutes and then I didn't hear from him again until 6. I'm proud of him, and proud of me.

In sum: I'm locking one child in his room, and letting the other sob without anyone helping him. Go me!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Jack's Monthly Newsletter, Month Nine

Dear Jack,

I was 99% sure that you were 9 months old today, but I did have to do the math just to be sure. December, January, February, March, April, May, June, July, are officially 9 months old today. Whew.

You are still an avid climber, scaling whatever you can find. Almost every time I stand at the counter doing dishes or cooking, I feel little warm hands on the backs of my calves and knees as you hoist yourself upwards. Every time I look at this photo, the song "Climb Every Mountain" starts running through my mind:

I truly love the feel of your soft hands on me all the time, continuously, all day long. Making it especially fun, your brother has decided to get in on the act. When you crawl, he crawls. When you sit on my lap, he sits on my lap. When you use my legs to hoist yourself up, he uses them at the same time, when I carry you somewhere, he wants to be carried on the other side. Double the pleasure, double the fun (for you guys, anyway). I do enjoy the change in your previously reticent brother, and I love your love, until right about 6 pm. Then I need a little space. A lot of space. And a drink. (A lot of drinks.)

Your experimentation with standing unassisted began in New Hampshire and really got going yesterday. We were sitting on the living room floor - you used my knees to pull yourself standing, and let go for a good five seconds before you landed splat on your bottom. Nate and I cheered loudly and you grinned your gummy little smile as wide as it could go. I counted four or five other times that you let go for a few seconds each time. You're clearly on your way.

You're getting to eat a lot of "our" food now and you're pleased as punch. Last night you got the filling from the sweet potato burritos, and you gummed some celery to death at a restaurant a few days ago. It really takes the pressure off, knowing I can shut you up feed your soul with food when I need to get something done or I just want to chat with another adult at the dinner table.

Is it bad that 2 out of the 3 photos I planned to use for this newsletter are of you stuffing some sort of sustenance in your mouth?

Corn: the best teething tool ever:

In sum: you're cute, you're cuddly, you're not a huge fan of playing on the ground, and you're still massively in love with Nate. You're growing, you're eating, and you spend almost every second of the day grinning, even when you're tired and whiny. I love you endlessly.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

Daily schedule part 2

In Act 2 of our play, Nate is out of school for part of the summer and Jack is a big(ger) boy. Here's how things are going:

Jack's up around 7, and Nate around 7:30. Stewart takes morning shift and lets me sleep as late as possible. Jack gets a bottle first thing, and then I give them both breakfast: Nate gets cereal w/milk and blueberries on the side. Jack gets diced up bananas and blueberries with Cheerios sprinkled all over. That boy can eat.

I try to pack our bags the night before for whatever we're doing, so after breakfast I get them sunscreened, dressed, and out the door. Poor Jack is generally forced to take his first nap on the road. Monday we went for a hike on Roosevelt Island, Tuesday we went for an errand walk all over town, Wednesday we met friends at Clemyjontri Park, and today we went to the Germantown Water Park. Gotta stay busy with these two. (If we're having a quiet morning at home, Jack naps from around 9 to 10:30.)

Shoot to get home around 12:30, making every effort to make sure nobody falls asleep in the stroller or the car. I'll do anything to keep from ruining nap time. Time for lunch if we didn't eat it on the road. Lunch is usually some combination of yogurt, string cheese, carrots & dip, sliced veggies, fruit, and nuts. Jack gets diced up soft stuff and Cheerios, as usual. Around 1 Nate gets to watch one TV show (or part of a movie), and Jack watches right along with him. Such is the life of a second child. Nate sits slack on the recliner, bumper in hand, and Jack likes to stand at the TV and slap his hand on the entertainment center.

Jack usually goes down a few minutes before Nate, around 1:30. Nate follows, and I'm free until 3 ish when Jack wakes up from his nap. Afternoons are for relaxing in the neighborhood, so I usually take this time to have some special time with Jack. Lots of kisses, singing, tickling, and thoroughly enjoying this delicious child.

Nate wakes up between 4 and 4:30, and it's snack time for everyone. Snack is usually a piece of fruit and nuts. Then we have a relaxing afternoon: we cook dinner, head to the playground, visit with Sophia, ride Nate's scooter around the neighborhood, or play games at home. Jack starts to get cranky around 5:30, but gets his second wind when Stewart gets home around 6.

I scamper upstairs to work on eBay, or head out to CVS. One of us puts Jack down after his bath around 7:15, and Nate gets plunked in front of the TV. If Stewart is boxing, I put Nate to bed after 2 stories around 8:15. If Stewart's home, Nate gets serenaded to bed with 15 stories and much giggling around 8:30.

The end.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Daily schedule part 1

I meant to document our daily schedule months ago. I know how time goes by, and you can't even remember what you were doing a year before. Our lives aren't anything special, but I want the boys to know what we were doing before their memories start.

When Nate was still in school, here's how our lives went:

Nate usually woke up around 7 and Stewart was in charge of mornings. He usually let Nate watch one TV show and got him dressed for the day. Out the door around 8, on the back of the bike. Nate got to pick out a fruit snack to eat on the way (a bribe to get out the door? No doubt.)

I got up whenever Jack woke up and got started on whatever errands I could run, or phone calls I could make, with Nate out of the house. Jack always slept in the stroller, so I did a lot of "errand walks" around town.

I left the house at 12:15 to go to Nate's school for pickup. When he first started I used to walk to pick him up and take him back home in the stroller, but he fell asleep too often on the way home and ruined his nap. No more of that. Nate's lunch was supposed to end around 12:30, then they cleaned his face and hands, brushed his teeth, and changed his diaper before he left. On the way out of school Nate always opened and held the doors and pushed the "down" button to go to the parking garage. We ran down the garage hill to the car and got everyone strapped in. As we drove out of the lot, we chanted "up, up, up, up, up" as we went up the big hill to the street. "Whew, we made it!" at the top.

Now we're home, and it's about 1 pm. Nate gets to watch TV for 1/2 hour before nap. I give 10, 5, and 2 minute warnings and he still cries every time I turn off the TV. Carry him to nap and try to read him stories if he behaves himself. Nap runs until 4 almost every day. Love that nap.

Afternoons are for fun. We cook dinner, or go to the playground, or play with Sophia. Legos, sidewalk chalk, or playing on the bed in the basement. Daddy comes home around 6 every day (if he doesn't have a photography job) and takes over kid duty while I go upstairs to eBay. Games with Daddy are usually horsey, tag, a walk around the neighborhood or a trip to the playground. Dinner at 6:30, bath at 7. Nate gets to watch another TV show before bed (usually 2, if we're honest). Stewart leaves at 8:15 for boxing, so I put Nate down to bed soon after he leaves.

Tuesdays and Thursdays Nate has no school. Thursdays we hang out with Grandma, and Tuesdays are usually playgroup days. I try to stay busy and get us out of the house every morning!

Jack's on the crazy newborn schedule for most of this, which is why he's overlooked. Don't worry, Jack, you'll be featured much more prominently in the new daily schedule.

That's what bumpers are made of (for)

Other Bumper came to us months ago after a long hunt, and victorious eBay win. I thought that since Bumper was aging poorly, a younger prettier mistress might win Nate over. But he's a loyal boy, and Other Bumper has been sitting, lonely, in a corner.

Until today. Today it was used to secure Nate's door closed for naptime.

Two nights ago I lost count at 47 times putting him back in bed. Last night he played with me from 9 pm to 12:15 am. I'm done with that. The bumper fix was a success: he banged around a little while and then called to me "Mommy? Mommy? The door won't open!" Yes, Nate, that's the point. He sounded so surprised and earnest, as if I was going to say "Oh, no! Let me fix that for you, baby!"

I figure if I do this every day for a few days, he'll forget about the fun and games and just go back to laying in bed talking to himself until he falls asleep. Fingers crossed.

Laughing out loud

Nate just got out of bed for the third time tonight (new fun phase we're going through). As I'm silently leading him back to bed, ala Supernanny, and he's happily chattering away.

Nate: "Mama, there's a fish on your shirt. Look at that fish! Is that a fish Mama?"
Mama: (finally breaking down and smiling) "Yes, Nate, it's a fish. Goodnight."

As the door closes, he giggles and says "Silly fish." I laugh and shut the door and hear, faintly, "Watch your fingers Mama!"

Parenthood is hard and horrible and tiring and ridiculous and frustrating. Also the best thing ever. Ever.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My favorite pencil

I took Nate with me for a CVS run a few days ago, and he was incredibly good and patient as I figured out which transactions I wanted to make. It was a great CVS week (I took 12 free toothpastes to donate this morning), so I was there for quite a while. He handled it like a trooper.

Near the end of the checking-out, he noticed some pencils in a jar - the fun kind with big erasers. Grabbing one, he announced that he needed it. I started to ask him to put it back when he lunged at the jar again and said he needed one for Jack, too. And one for Dada, and one for Mommy. He picked out four, counted them right out, and held them like a bouquet. You tell me which parent wouldn't buy those pencils for him to bring home. Tell me and I'll go shake the life back into them.

This is the pencil he picked out for Dada.

The pink one was his, the orange one was Jack's, and mine was yellow.

He's not even 3 years old yet. I am stunned by his generous spirit and his love for Jack. He certainly has his share of "mine!" episodes, but over and over he surprises me with his behavior. Today I asked him if he wanted to go to the playground and his first question was "Can Jack come?" (I love that he thinks Jack's attendance is optional.)

I love this boy.

Monday, August 11, 2008

I bought my son a Bratz doll

Details about the Bratz doll later in this fascinating post.

Jack had his first protein today (tiny tofu cubes). He shoved them down just fine, like he does with everything I put in front of him. Here's what he's been eating lately (cut into cubes, obviously):

  • sweet potato
  • Cheerios (of course)
  • grapes
  • tomatoes
  • blueberries
  • thin spaghetti
  • bananas
He's such a good eater; maybe even better than Nate was. I fixed him a tray last night and was absently talking to my Mom while I was holding him. I couldn't figure out why he was squirming so much and trying to dive out of my arms. Finally figured out that he was lunging for the tray of food that was sitting on the kitchen counter. Silly boy.

In terms of sleeping, our trip to New Hampshire was an utter disaster. We were back to newborn days when a 3-hour stretch seemed like a gift. Between bouts of sobbing I decided to sleep train him immediately on our return, no being soft.

On Saturday Nate and I went to Target and shopped for a doll for Jack. Since my hair is his ultimate comfort, I wanted to try to find him a stuffed animal or a doll with long hair to put in the crib with him. It was a long day; every soft doll had yarn hair, none of the stuffed animals had long enough fur, and the only thing I could find with really long hair was a huge head. Too creepy to put in the crib. We finally happened upon the Bratz dolls, and their hair was the best shot I could find (that picture's not the one I got him, but whatever). I pulled off her earings, her feet (choking hazard), and whatever else came off and stuck her in his hands every time he reached for my hair. I don't think he's in love yet, but it's definitely got potential.

I've been being strict about naps. Bottle downstairs, then walk him upstairs awake, give him the paci and the doll, and put him in the crib. If he cries I give him 5 minutes, go in, put the pack back in, doll back in his arms, and back out the door. First nap, no problem. Second nap, 6 tries.

Saturday night he actually slept right through until 5 am, which was my "I'm not giving him a bottle before this" time. Steeled myself for the official start of sleep-training on Sunday night, and I think he sensed it. He slept until 7:30 this morning. First time ever he officially slept through the entire night. Woke up babbling.

Cross your fingers that tonight's just as good. I'm trying to be strong, but it's hard.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Nate's Monthly Newsletter, Two Years Eleven Months

Dear Nate,

Sometimes I think the title of this letter should be "Nate's Monthly Newsletter, Thirteen Years." You're sassy, independent, needy, an enormous smart-ass - and sometimes you're just pure joy. Just like any good teenager.

I'm writing this from our place in New Hampshire, where yesterday morning you woke us up saying "Let's go outside, guys. It's a bee-yoo-tiful day!" Never mind that it's rained every day for 5 days, any day with your cousins is a good day. We purposly came the week that Simon and Jamie would be here, and I'm so glad we did; you are so happy to be with them.

Yesterday you said to Jamie "I'll run out this door, and then you run out the door, and then you chase me, and I'll run in the other door." Jamie humored you and you guys ran in circles for a while before giving up to play something else. You seem so much older to me when you're playing with them - a glimpse of the future, I guess. You really fit in here, with them, with your other cousins, with your aunts and uncles and their friends.

A few days ago your cousin Will was taking us out for a ride in the motorboat. As we put our life-jackets on, I told you that the boat was noisy and fast, and that if you got scared we'd slow down and you'd be just fine. You made it all the way down the dock, watched me get in, and decided you were not up for a ride. I assured you it was fine and sent you back inside with a friend. I asked Will to hold on for one mintute, and one minute later you popped your head out of the house and wanted to go with us again. We sat in my lap and I distracted you by talking about the color of the clouds and the houses we were driving past, and you sat stoicly and braved it out. No crying, no clutching, just one request to slow down. About halfway through the ride you got pale and quiet, and I feared you were seasick. I tucked you closer to me, looked down, and you were sound asleep.

You are your own man, and I just adore you for it. We were talking about the boat a few days later and I was trying to get you pumped up. I said how much fun I thought it was, and how much I like to go fast. Your immediate response? "I like to go slow." Period. I hear you.

One of the great things about your almost-three-year-old-self is that sleep is almost a non-issue. We made you a little bed in the corner of our room, and you're just fine with it. You tuck yourself in, put your rump up in the air, and all's well. If Jack cries in the night, you just turn yourself over and keep on sleeping. If you fall asleep in the car, I just carry you to bed and you snuggle down in to the pillow and get yourself cozy. I can undress you, diaper you, whatever - when you're tired you want to sleep. It's lovely.

You are starting to understand so many concepts now. You can count to 14, but you actually understand numbers up to about 4 or 5. You tell me you have two cookies, and you do. You tell me you see three dogs, and there really are. When we're reading stories you like to point to the animsl that are in front of Diego, behind him, next to him. You point to characters on a page and ask me "What's that letter, Mama? What's that number?"

One of your favorite new phrases is "Sometimes..." You'll tell me "Sometimes I don't like to go for a nap" (as if sometimes you do.) "Sometimes I like to eat snack before my nap." You still love to try to negotiate with me; I tell you you can do something three more times, and you counter with five. It never works but you keep trying, and I love you for it.

Big stuff is ahead for you now, and I can't wait to watch it all happen for you. I'm so glad to be a part of it all, and I'm cheering for you every second of the way.

I love you,

A [hopefully] short hiatus

I'm going to take a break from blogging for a while; Jack still isn't sleeping through the night and I'm just stretched too thin right now. I've got to concentrate on the necessities, with a little CVS shopping thrown in for mental health. I'll post sporadically, and when I've got the boy trained and sleeping, and I've caught up and gotten sane again, I'll be back. Promise.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

CVS plan for August 3

Here's what I'm eyeing for August 3:
  • Revlon BOGO - find items for $4 and under and use the $2/coupons from the 7/20 SS to make this a freebie. Last time I could only find eye-pencil sharpeners under $4, but maybe another CVS will have something fun. This is a sale item, so no limits apply!
  • Colgate Total is $2.99 and generating $2 ECBs. I'm using a $1/coupon from the 7/27 SS to make this a freebie (limit 1).
  • Orajel toddler toothpaste is BOGO, and that's a great deal without any coupons. However, there is a fun catch: The August monthly deals include a Orajel Healthy Kid Kit when you purchase the toddler toothpaste. I haven't seen the August book in person so I can't give any more details; I'll update as soon as I know exactly how this works!
  • Crest toothpaste is $2.49 and generating $1.50 ECBs. I'm using a $1/coupon from the 7/6 P&G to make this a freebie (limit 5).
  • Extreme Energy Drink is a freebie after ECBs.
  • Powerade is on sale for $1, and I'm using a $1/coupon from the 6/8 SS to make this a `. No limit on sales items!
Anything I missed?

I may have some ECBs to burn up before they expire, so I'll get some 12-packs of Caffeine Free Diet Pepsi (buy 4 at $2.40, get a 12-pack of Mountain Dew free)

Friday, August 1, 2008

We're in trouble

I turned around this morning to find that Jack had made it up the first stair and was on his way to the next. We're totally in for it.