Friday, October 30, 2009

What a sweet little boy...

A couple of weeks ago I had my favorite pictures of Finnan and Jude from the past year printed (The picture above was taken in May, shortly before Jude was born). As Atticus and I were looking through the pictures and reminiscing, we both said aloud, "What a sweet little boy he innocent." Before I go on, let me preface this post. Finnan still is an incredibly sweet little boy, who is still very loving and appears that we are dealing with the dreaded terrible twos.

Finnan is in the process of testing us and his emotional capabilities. He is testing our rules trying to get away with just little infractions or, at least, threatening infractions. No throwing books? Ok, what happens if I just throw it a few inches? No licking Mama's phone? Ok, what if I grin impishly and stick my tongue out a millimeter away from the phone. No walking through the flowers at the Botanical Gardens? Ok, what if I run through them? Individually this infractions are not terrible and I usually feel like I can deal with them appropriately, but his recent tantrums are another story. He seems to have gotten in the habit of having post-nap tantrums. Despite my efforts, I have not figured out how to effectively prevent them. Yesterday, he did not want to change his diaper. Well, the diaper had already been on over 8 hours and a spot was forming on his jeans. When I took his pants off, it started, but the tantrum was not yet ear piercing nor did involve dangerous lunges yet. In hopes of preventing escalation I explained to him that we could go for a walk or play outside when we finished. We could even go to the park if he wanted. So, I continued and took his diaper off. That did it. The screeching and lunging began. He threw himself to the trash can and dug out the sopping wet diaper I just took off of him. He wanted to put that diaper back on instead of one of the clean diapers I offered him (I offered every color of cloth we had or a disposable). No, he wanted the dirty one. Really? Seriously? Now I have read many of the books and I try to follow "kum-by-ya discipline" (this is Atticus' term, not the official term, which is positive discipline). But it is completely ineffective for these tantrums. No amount of prevention, comfort, or empowerment seem to help. Jude's presence seems to aggravate him further. He has to go in time-out to try to calm himself down. I can do nothing for him. Eventually, I'll have my sweet little boy back again, but I have yet to figure out what he needs. We are just hoping he passes through this phase quickly, unlike his father, who apparently lingered in it for quite some time and in the meantime focus on finding just a little bit of humor in it.


It took Finnan a couple of days, but as we entered the backyard today he started to ask, Reese? Reese? Reese?

This past weekend we drove to the cottage on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. The purpose of the trip was to give Reese to my brother, Michael, and his girlfriend, Rebecca. The changes around our house in the past year have put a lot of stress on Reese. She has always been a timid dog, specifically terrified of thunderstorms and wary around children. When Finnan was a baby she was able to stay away from him, but as his mobility skills increased, so did her fear of him. Over the past couple of months, Reese had a few run-ins with Finnan. When storms approached, she became increasingly anxious, needing to beneath our legs or in a dark corner. Finnan got in her way. The first time she just batted him with her paw. The second she bit him. While it was only a superficial wound, it became clear that we could not keep her. She bit him right below me while I was changing Jude's diaper and both of them were vying for my affection. I know this was my fault, yet, unfortunately, I did not realistically think I could prevent it from happening again.

Luckily, Michael and Rebecca bought a townhome a few weeks ago and were able to take Reese. Of course, I was upset that we had to give her away. She has been a wonderful companion and has always been an incredibly sweet and loving dog. But, I know now, especially after this weekend, that she is going to be so much happier with Michael. Michael and Rebecca spent the day with us at the cottage and Reese was immediately drawn to them. I was pleasantly surprised that when they left, she ran out to their car without any coaxing, despite the fact that it was storming. It really seemed like she knew she was going with them. Or if she didn't, she made it very clear that she was ready for a change and wanted to go with them. It is such a relief to me and Atticus to have her with Michael and Rebecca. We have already gotten wonderful reports back of her happily greeting them as they arrive home, walking through the neighborhood, and even sleeping on their bed. She is once again a spoiled dog. Thank you, Michael and Rebecca!

As an added benefit to the trip, we got to see Atticus' mom and sister, Caelyn, along with a few of his aunts, uncles and cousins. Both Finnan and Jude loved their visit. Finnan got to go in a boat, sit in a tractor, tromp through the river, play incessantly with a few of Atticus' younger cousins and be spoiled by Honey and Caelyn. He even fished for the first time. They didn't catch anything, but Finnan mastered reeling. Jude absolutely loved the attention he received from Atticus' cousins Josh, Luke and Rory. He laughed continuously as they blew kisses on his belly and made funny faces. He thrived with all of the commotion and attention.

Now, drive to Maryland, you might be asking. . . after the last experience where Jude cried all the way from Navarre Beach, Florida to Atlanta? Well, yes. We did it because, well, we didn't have any choice, but it went pretty well. The ride there was perfect. We left around 2 pm. They both took 2 hour naps in the car then were entertained by Atticus for a while before we made our first stop. We lingered for a little while at a rest stop then made it another 2 hours before dinner. After dinner, they both feel asleep for the rest of the 11 hour trip. It was timed perfectly. On the way back we stopped in Charlottesville, VA to visit a college friend Jackie, her husband, Austin, and her two-year-old Tucker. The live in an amazing 1800s farm house complete with chickens, gardens and a lot of land. And, probably more important to Finnan, Tucker has the same obsession with wheeled vehicles. They played together while the adults got to visit. It was the perfect stop followed by the not-so-perfect drive home. We left in the morning and so endured much more awake time. Atticus' iPhone and YouTube saved us for the last couple of hours. It looks like we will definitely be getting a DVD player for the car before our Christmas travels.

We did learn that driving with 2 kids does not have to leave us grasping for our sanity or worrying about hearing loss. We'll no longer be on lock-down at home and look forward to heading back to Maryland soon!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

5 months

This past month started off a bit rocky, but I really feel like the past week or so with Jude has been one of the most enjoyable.

I guess I'll start with the rocky. Jude progressively started waking up at night more and anyone who has had a baby (and others can imagine) that not only makes for a crankier baby but also cranky parents. To compound this, Finnan's night time "non-routine" was getting out of hand and he seemed to be going to bed later after ump-teen books, songs, the retrieval of trucks, water, snack, milk, etc. and he still seemed to be screaming as we left his room at night. So, in come the sleep theory books. As an aside, I really dislike these books. I consulted them so frequently through Finnan's first year, agonized over their differences and let them make me feel guilty every step of the way. Naturally, I swore them off this time around. Oh well, for better or worse (I think better), they came out again. With marching orders from the experts, we moved Jude out of the swing and into the crib, gave him an earlier bedtime and we Ferberized him, or partially Ferberized him, I'm still a bit of a softy. Basically, what that means is that we let Jude cry it out, but we went in to pat him and talk to him after 5 minutes of crying, then another 10 minutes, 15, 20, 25, 30 (yes, we got to this, our little stinker was stubborn). According to Ferber, your baby will be sleeping through the night after 3 nights of this. Well, I decided, I don't need Jude sleeping through the night, I just want him only waking once. So to ensure he only wakes once, I only feed him after three. He seemed to get the point after only one night, thankfully. However, he does continue to need some crying it out as he loves to roll to his tummy, but tends to get stuck there and frustrated. Naps are still kind of all over the place. According to the experts, I need to get him on a strict routine, but that just doesn't seem practical to me, so I'm avoiding it for now. For Finnan, Atticus created a brilliant routine. We read one to two books out of his room on the sofa before bed. Then we ask if he wants to take the books with him to bed and let him lead the way to his bedroom and climb in bed himself. Voila! Finnan is now almost always in bed at 8! All of the above makes night-time so much more manageable and enjoyable. And, best of all, both Finnan and Jude seem to be happier during the day.

Okay, on to the more fun stuff. Jude seems to be getting more interactive and he particularly enjoys being with Finnan. When Finnan gets up close to him, a huge smile flashes across Jude's face. Jude laughs when Finnan lays his head on his belly, gives him hugs, or even lays on top of him (this is not something that I advocate). Jude now tolerates, and maybe even enjoys, all of his carriers now. I think his favorite is the kangaroo hold in the sling. He watched Finnan's music class today in his car seat and did not fuss the entire time. I was impressed- he did better than all of the toddlers there :)! As I said before, he is rolling from his back to tummy continuously, but can't seem to get back over. He is doing some scooting. He loves his play mat and is just starting to use the exer-saucer. He is still only nursing. I did try to sneak some formula in his diet in anticipation of going away for a night, but as Elisha Cooper says in the book Crawling: A Father's First Year it was as if we inserted a cattle prod into his mouth. Oh well, luckily I like nursing! It looks like the next stop is sitting up, which I think will open up a whole new world for him and the rest of us.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

'Tis the season

Welcome fall, welcome home improvement projects! As our house and our family grew this past spring, so did our to-do list. We built a front porch, well now we need a porch swing. We tore down our old deck, now we need a new deck. We had to cut a tree down, ah, the perfect place for a tree house. Our house was extended in almost all directions, all of our landscaping needs to be reconfigured and it would be nice if paths were laid out. And this is only our outdoor list. The summer heat prevented us from getting started on many of these projects, but now, with the goal of finishing by Thanksgiving, we have devoted all weekend energy to them. In the past couple of weeks Atticus has been working on the tree house (hopefully a tree housewarming party will be in the near future :)) and with Paw-Paw's help this weekend (while I am in New York), he hopes to get started on the deck.

I am proud to announce the completion of the first project- the porch swing has been stained and is now hanging on our front porch. We now just put a baby gate at the porch stairs and leave the front door open. I love it! I intended to take a picture of the porch swing, but apparently my camera has a mind of its own. You can at least see the chain that the swing is attached to...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Apple picking

This week we went apple picking with Heather and Lily. Finnan and Lily have been strolling next to each other since they were only a few months old and have become good friends in the process. They are also lucky enough to both go to Ms. Gabriela's play group on Fridays. I know it has been a relief to me to know that Finnan has Lily there to look after him and vice versa.

You can see they enjoyed their trip to the orchard...although, we probably could have also walked to the field down the street and they would have had just as much fun. The two of them were so perfectly picturesque- holding each other's hands, hugging each other, sharing snacks and running through the field together. Finnan even carried Lily's bag of apples for a while. Finnan never successfully picked an apple (he preferred holding on to the bag rather then pull an apple with two hands), but I am sure he will enjoy helping me make the apple pie which is sure to come!