Monday, April 26, 2010

A sensitive boy

He's always dirty. He's always working. He's obsessed with trucks and likes to carry a tape measure in his pocket. But, underneath the tough boy facade, Finnan is more sensitive than even I knew. I had been having a hard time with Finnan for a couple of weeks. Even after he recovered from his roseola, he was very tantrum-prone and very defiant. It was impossible to have a meal, to put him down for a nap or for the night, or drop him off at Gabriela's. I was very frustrated. Neither Finnan or I were acting like ourselves anymore.

Everything became clearer a week ago. After I admittedly over-reacted to Finnan sitting on a hanging basket, Atticus decided to take a different approach. He picked Finnan up and started talking to him about what a good boy he was. Then, he asked him, "Who is my good boy?" He replied in a hushed tone, "Jude." Heartbreaking. Finnan is an incredibly independent toddler and Jude is very attached to me. I clearly was not giving Finnan the attention he needed. After this episode, we have tried to steer clear of time-outs (not that we have given them up), but tried to focus more on positive reinforcement. In addition to praising him when he has done something well (which we have always done), we are going out of our way to tell him what a good boy he is and how proud of him we are. I am trying to put Jude down more and focus on him when he needs me, even if that means listening to Jude cry for a bit. The best example of this working has been his behavior at bedtime. For a few nights, he would not go to bed. He was clinging to my neck and when I would finally pry him loose (it was after 9:00 for goodness sakes!) he would scream and pound at the door. (Amazingly, Jude has learned to sleep through this.) Well, instead of reading endless books and singing endless songs, we have started talking about how proud of him we are that he can go to bed without crying. "You are such a good boy! You can go to bed by yourself! I am so proud of you that you can go to bed by yourself!" Etc. etc. With this reinforcement he has opened his bedroom door and walked into bed by himself the past three nights. His tantrums and their intensity have also decreased.

The positive reinforcement seems to also be chipping away at his need to be fed by me. Finnan was feeding himself well before Jude was born and feeds himself when at Gabriela's, but at home, especially in the last couple of months, he refuses to eat without help. He will whine, "It's too heavy" incessantly and work himself up into a tantrum. To avoid this, I was just feeding him. While it seemed to prevent most conflicts at the table, it did not stop him from being upset if I was feeding Jude at the time and not him. I would have to feed them simultaneously. As a result, I have gotten more coordinated with my left hand and have probably lost a few more pounds myself. But, while food is often still too heavy for him, I do see him feeding himself unprompted more!

Time for the sprinklers!

How I have missed trips to the Botanical Gardens! This was our first chance to get there in a while and luckily it was a sprinkler worthy day. Given his love for water, Jude was more apprehensive than I thought he would be, but I hope the colder water will become more palatable to him as the days get warmer.

Atticus turns 30

We celebrated Atticus' 30th birthday this weekend with a pig roast. Unfortunately, I did not get any pictures of the pig, which was a 50 pounder and included all body parts. Actually, I didn't get a chance to grab my camera until we sang "Happy Birthday," so all but these few seconds of the party went undocumented.

We spent most of the week getting the house ready and deciding what we were going to do with the pig. Early in the week Atticus started digging a pit (Finnan and Jude are helping out in the last two pictures), but then we found someone who would rent us a Caja China (basically a 2x4 box with a metal top to put coals on top.) We also remedied some drainage issues in our backyard with a french drain and stone walkway. We were very thankful we did both of these things as on the day of the party it poured. Since we had the pig in a movable box, we were able to move it under a party tent while the drain and walkway kept our backyard from turning into its normal river during a storm.

Despite the rain, we had a great time with about 30 of our friends and 10 of their children. The guests were able to mingle in the house, on the porch and under the tent, so we still had plenty of room. Jude and Finnan started the party a little overwhelmed, but settled in fairly quickly. Finnan romped around with his friends Ansel, Lily, Handley, Elsa, and Andrew. He and Ansel seemed to be two of a kind and they giddily explored the house. At one point I found them with Atticus' blow gun (have no idea where they found that) and then later heard them laughing in front of the tool closet, each with a drill in their hands. When they weren't investigating forbidden corners of the house, they were jumping around with buckets on their heads. Jude was able to eye other babies: Harper, Graham and James. Jude was very enthusiastic about waving good bye to everyone. Since most of our friends have young children, the party cleared out around 7.

The pig turned out well. Atticus, being Atticus, has overanalyzed each part of the preparation and cooking of the pig to see how he could do better next time. So, we'll see, maybe there will be a next time. Finnan was not the least bit disturbed by the pig. In fact, he was very excited about cooking and eating the pig. He talked more about eating the pig than the cake which he had helped me pick out a few days before. Of course, when it came down to it, in true Finnan fashion, he did not each much more than french bread and the icing off of the birthday candles. Jude loved the pig, loved corn on the cob, loved the bean salad, loved the french bread....

Thank you to everyone who helped us celebrate! And a special thank you to Lyle for helping us prepare, give, and clean up after the party, and helping take care of Finnan and Jude!

Friday, April 16, 2010

A shared room

On Sunday, Jude moved into Finnan's room. This move terrified me. For the past couple of weeks Finnan was waking at night in strange, delirious tantrums. But the crib was going to be taken apart to lower the mattress, so we figured we would give it a try.

The first three nights were horrible. Jude cried when I put him to bed and woke every couple of hours crying. The first night I moved him back to the pack-n-play in our closet at 3 am and the second night I moved him at 11 pm. Strangely, Jude's hysterical crying was not disturbing Finnan, so the third night I decided I would just leave Jude in his crib until morning. Finnan abandoned his bed at 6 am, but I did not get Jude until 7.

After the second night, I was ready to give up. It seemed as if they were not ready. And, why was I making them share a room at all? Finnan answered that question for me. On the first night Finnan had fallen asleep on the way home from dinner, so was in bed before I put Jude down in the crib. When Jude started crying, Finnan woke. From outside the door I could hear Jude's cries turn into laughter and Finnan saying, "I right here, Jude, I right here." Since Finnan wasn't even in his pajamas, I decided to take Finnan out of the room and let Jude cry himself to sleep. On the third night, Jude woke while Finnan was tip-toeing into the room. Since, I had decided that if this was going to work, I needed to let Jude stay in his crib uninterrupted all night, I shut the door and sat outside their room anxiously. Finnan got out of bed and started singing to Jude, "Don't cry, Jude." Once Jude settled a little bit, he told Jude a story about his day. "Christian [Finnan's friend] come our house. Noooo!!! That's mine, Christian, that's mine." His story was a little cryptic, but obviously, he was having trouble sharing that day. It took a half hour for Jude to go to sleep. That's pretty quick without being able to use nursing as a crutch!

Amazingly, once Jude moved into the room, Finnan's night waking stopped. I was also surprised that Finnan was able to sleep through Jude's crying, which would go one for quite some time. And, thankfully, on the fourth night, Jude slept through the whole night until 6 am, at which point I brought him into bed with us. That I can handle and I am hoping for many more nights like that.

Oh my, 11 months

Only one more month until Jude is 1! I am occasionally struck with sadness that my baby is going to be one, but most of the time I am excited for this milestone. In the past couple of weeks Jude has become much more independent and is crawling and puling up. He is starting to push walker toys around and is working on getting back to a sitting position from a standing position. And, as I learned this morning, he can climb (see picture). Yikes!

Some other fun facts about Jude at his 11 month mark:
- I have to change his clothing at least once a day as he loves playing in the dirt and sand. I am hoping early allergen exposure turns out to be a good thing as before his nap I am always removing yellow-tinged, mud-stained clothes. Luckily he still loves his baths!
- He enjoys crawling in our shower and on Roux's dog bed. He also likes heading to the main bathroom as there is some exposed plumbing that is apparently quite fun to pull on.
- He already has an affinity to tools and loves to play in Finnan's tool box and bang his hammers, despite bonking himself in the head on a regular basis.
- He is a very good eater and out-eats Finnan on a daily basis. While he won't eat everything at a particular time, I have yet to find something he won't eat (at least in the past couple of weeks). I am always amazed when I see him furiously putting peas in his mouth. For Jude, butter, salt and garlic makes everything taste good. He still nurses 3-4 times a day.
- His dislike of the car seat has returned. It may be time to upgrade to the bigger rear-facing seat.
- I think his "winter skin" is actually eczema. I guess I'll find out more at his 12 month.
- He has 4 teeth.
- It has started to become more difficult to change his diaper, as he does not lay still. I am looking forward to this passing.
- He takes 1-2 naps a day. His morning nap (when he takes one) is usually short and his afternoon nap is 1.5-2 hours.
- He is a Mama's boy, but loves to rough house with Finnan and Atticus!

Boys who like dirt...

And red shirts! Here are pictures of Jude and Finnan (both at 11 months).

Friday, April 9, 2010

More Easter

Looking through my pictures from Easter just made me smile. And there were a few more notable moments that I wanted to mention...Jude's adorable Easter outfit, compliments of Honey, Jude crawling everywhere (even to visit the dogs and up the stairs), and Jude's first Hubig's pie (he liked it :)). If only my camera battery didn't die, maybe I could have caught Finnan swinging upside-down from the hammock, wrestling with Lyle, cooking Gumbo with Paw-Paw, stumbling drunkenly around after spinning, or playing on a pile of sand larger than me at the park. He joined right in with a five year old boy, making sand-bombs, sand-storms, sand-slides, and sand caves (to store the sand-bombs, of course). And lastly, hanging out with Caelyn in a power-less theater about three-quarters of the way through Wicked. Anyone want to tell me how the show ends? Only in New Orleans!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

The egg hunters

We spent Easter weekend in New Orleans. I was very happy we endured the horrible car ride down as we were blessed with family (including my two week old niece, Madeline!), extended family, a generous Easter bunny, beautiful weather, wonderful food, and, best of all, healthy kids! The highlight of the trip was being able to meet baby Madeline, but watching Finnan, Cullen (his second cousin), and Jude participate in an Easter egg hunt was a close second.

Cullen and Finnan always seem to hit it off and Easter was no exception. We were able to get a few bites of food into them before squeals of laughter and the sound of little feet running through the house became the soundtrack to our lunch. After a couple of hours of play, no naps and too many brownies, they were still going, so we turned the front yard into their hunting ground. When the egg hunt started, the laughing stopped, and Finnan got serious. To my surprise, he needed no coaching and he set out to collect all of the eggs. Finnan is a little quicker than Cullen and definitely used that to his advantage. At one point, Finnan saw Cullen going for an egg decorated like an airplane that he had especially commissioned from Paw-Paw. Finnan ran over and grabbed the egg just as Cullen was getting his fingertips on it. Jude was able to get a few eggs with the help of Aunt Cae-Cae. And, apparently even Jude understood the point of the hunt. When we put all three boys together for a picture, Jude slyly accumulated a few more eggs in his basket. The egg hunt ended with Finnan and Cullen attacking the very large plastic egg decorations in the neighbor's yard. The boys had all of us in hysterics.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Recovering from Roseola

Roseola seems so harmless. According to the doctors and the medical websites, it consists a few days of fever and then a rash appears. When the rash appears all symptoms are gone. I don't know how many times I saw the words "no big deal" when scouring the internet for more information. Atticus only found a few blogs which described experiences like ours. Reading those helped me get through the week and for that reason I am going to write about our experience.

Last Thursday when I tried to drop Finnan off at Gabriela's, he whimpered, teared up and clung to me. This was so uncharacteristic of him I took him home. Once home, he seemed to rally so I met up with some friends at the park. He whined the entire time we were there, "Go home." Since he was active at home before we left and indicated that he wanted to go to the park, we stayed. I had a rough weeks and wanted to socialize. However, once home, I decided I should take him to the doctor. He had a double ear infection and sinus infection. Ok, explains the behavior, and it should be an easy fix. I was feeling optimistic for the weekend. We started the antibiotics Thursday night, but his fever seemed to keep rising. Since we experienced this two weeks ago with Jude (I am hoping he had roseola then and is not about to get it), I didn't think much of it- the fever is from the infections. Friday, he barely stumbled out of bed and was burning up. Friday, Saturday and Sunday he ran extremely high fevers and only emerged from his bed to lay on the sofa. He was sleeping about 20 hours a day. I was planning on taking him back to the doctor on Monday, but that morning he woke up without a fever and with a rash covering his body.

Aha, roseola! The rash started, so now everything should be better. This is where our experience deviates from the norm. With the rash, Finnan started screaming. "No! No! No!" is about all I heard during all his waking hours for two days straight. He didn't want to go outside. He didn't want to watch TV. Nothing could soothe him. Luckily, he was still sleeping most of the day. I took him back to the doctor on Tuesday and they confirmed that he probably did have roseola and indicated that his ears and sinus infections were responding to the amoxicillin. According to the doctor, "I have no explanation for his behavior." Uh, ok. This is when Atticus found the few blogs explaining this type of reaction to roseola and saved me from having a mental breakdown. (Although a mini-mental breakdown did occur.) I felt like I was failing everyone. I was sick and unable to rest and get better. Jude started crawling and I wasn't encouraging him. Finnan clearly needed something and I could not figure out how to help him. When I would try to focus on Finnan, Jude's screams would rival Finnan's. When Finnan was calmer and I wanted to sit with him in front of the TV as a source of comfort, I couldn't because I had Jude.

Wednesday he seemed better, so I took him to the zoo, knowing he could just sit in his stroller and enjoy the view. He did just that, sat in the stroller the entire time, refusing to take off his snow hat or his fleece despite the temperature being in the high 70s. Once at home he started throwing the tantrums again. He was able to be soothed by TV and Caillou, Barney, and Wall-E saved me. However, he was still extremely irritable and I felt as if I was walking on pins and needles around him.

And, today, a full week later, he woke up singing in his bedroom. Thank goodness. I have my sweet boy back and he seems even sweeter than before. I even heard an unprompted, "Sorry, Jude" this morning as some sand unexpectedly drifted in Jude's direction.