Louisa: Weeks 44 & 45

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Communication: I’m glad that I was able to finally capture a couple of photos of Louisa laughing, because that is her most natural state. She laughs and smiles a lot (I know, I mention it every week…) but she smiles AT us, and she laughs when something is funny, or makes her happy. She engages us with that beautiful smile.

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She’s also started doing a fake cry, which is ridiculously cute and even though I should be dissuading her from doing it, I end up mugging along with her and her exaggerated whimpers. It involves a lot of face straining and fake crying and tilting her head to one side. It’s adorable.

Movement: Folks, we have a walker! It’s been brewing for the past month or so, with her progressing day by day, getting more bold, taking more steps and feeling things out. But the other day she full-on walked unassisted across her Nonna’s kitchen, which must have been well over 10 baby steps in a row, so I’m calling it: the girl walks!

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Let the blurry photos abound!!

She’s still pretty wobbly on those legs, and she often has to pause and regain her balance before continuing on, but she’s getting it. One of the things that is holding her back is the fact that she gets SO EXCITED to be walking, giggling and gaining momentum, that she gets ahead of herself and loses balance. But she loves it. She’s happy. And who wouldn’t be??

Another funny little thing she’s started to do is bop. She hangs on to something, and then practices her “hopping”. It’s really cute, because she doesn’t get any air at all or anything, but she does it whilst looking down at her feet the whole time. And she laughs!

Food: I had been keeping her “meals” pretty casual, giving her bits of what we were having for dinner, and a couple of snacks throughout the day; but recently I decided more of a regimen might be beneficial for the girl (she is 10 1/2 months old, after all). So now she eats her very own breakfast every morning – mainly baby cereal with applesauce and yogurt. She loves it, and it’s a good next step for me, since it’s something we are already in the habit of making in the mornings for sir Nico.

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She is still open to munching on most things, but we’ve entered the “chew and spit” phase. Remember that nasty habit that had me so freaked out with Nico? Well, I’ve since learned that it is a normal, and HEALTHY milestone towards self-feeding, and I’m happy to report that I’m letting it all slide, and simply cleaning up the mess at the end of the meal. Besides, cleaning out her diapers has become a NIGHTMARE, so obviously she’s getting some food into her! Haha.

Teeth: Nothing to report. She still only has two up and two down.

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Sleep: Okay, here goes… I would like to state that I have never, ever, paid much attention to Louisa’s sleep. I never really noticed when she liked to nap during the day, let alone try to keep it somewhat consistent from day to day. I never attempted any kind of sleep training at night (maybe I thought about it a bit, and even mentioned it a couple of times on the blog, but I never stuck to any strategy for more than two nights in a row), so it’s been a bit of a rodeo right from the start, to say the least.

But here we are, 10 1/2 months into this journey, and sleep is a MAJOR source of contention in our home. Only now am I starting to pay attention to what’s been going on, and it’s not great: Louisa catches her daytime z’s anyway and anywhere she can. Sometimes she takes 3 catnaps, other times she crashes hard for 2+ hours straight, and sometimes she’s up so long and so late that she’s delirious and cranky, and is impossible to put down.

Louisa is also a full on co-sleeper. She needs me close by all night, every night. She reaches for me in the night to make sure I’m still there. She strokes my hair as she falls asleep. She neeeeeds me. Now, let me say this: I have absolutely no problem with the concept of co-sleeping in theory; I actually love many aspects of it (I mean, did you guys read my last sentence? She STROKES MY HAIR AS SHE FALLS ASLEEP. Swoon) But, there’s a big problem with sleeping next to Louisa: it is destroying my neck, shoulders and back. I can’t even. She falls asleep laying on my arm, and so I’m forced to sleep on my side with my shoulder up to my ear. And when she nurses, I have to arch my back for her to latch on correctly, and it makes it impossible for me to get comfortable, and makes my lower back stiff and sore. She’s also cut my sleep space in half and wakes me constantly because I’m such a light sleeper and I suffer from that “mamma bear” instinct where I wake up to the smallest noise or subtle shift from her.

Finally, there’s the Nico factor. The guy gets up any time after 6am, and the first thing he does is climb into bed next to me. He’s loud, he’s squirmy, and he wants nothing more than to wake us all up. Angelo does his best to get up with Nico and get him out of our bed and downstairs quietly (for which I’m super grateful!) but more often than not, Nico ends up waking the baby in the process.

I’d been coasting along like this for so long because i didn’t have the will to make a change, but it’s gotten bad enough now that I think it’s time to start shaping her routine a bit. Specifically, I’m hoping to bump her bedtime routine ahead significantly. Louisa’s bedtime (since birth basically) has been 8pm, and on some nights when she’s been fussy she hasn’t gone down till way after 10pm. Maybe that’s just too dang late for the little miss. Tonight she was exhausted at dinner, so I took her straight up to have a bath and she was dozing off at 6:30pm. We’ll see how the night goes – it might be just what she needs.

Favourites: She loves whatever Nico is into. He’s playing with trains, suddenly she loves trains. He moves onto reading some books, she’s close behind. He wants to play with his wooden food and play kitchen, well guess what – so does she. She’s sort of given up on her “baby toys” and wants whatever the big kid is after. But one thing I pulled out of storage that has captured her fancy is the latch board. She definitely loves that thing and spends whole minutes at a time playing with it.

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Aside from that, she loves walking (obviously), reading books (a new discovery for her), dancing to music, and running around the ottoman with Nico. Last night I watched them giggling together and touching faces – it definitely felt as though they were laughing at some inside joke that’s just between the two of them, and it really made my heart swell.

Louisa: Week 43 + Halloween

Louisa celebrated her first Halloween today, and she dressed up as an owl.

IMG_1341But first, let’s talk about Louisa this week: she continues to be more and more communicative. Her glances and nods are more directed now, and she conveys so much with her eyes and body language.

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And let’s talk about her laugh. This girl laughs loud and hard! Her whole face lights up, and she squawks super loudly when she’s happy. And these days, nothing makes her happier than practicing walking.

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Yes, our girl is trying desperately to walk, going around and around and around the furniture all day long. She’s getting pretty good at it, and more confident, too.

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Now, onto Halloween and her costume: I knew I wanted her to be an owl, but I also knew I wouldn’t be able to take on creating a big elaborate costume, either.

So, after a few internet searches I came up with the idea for this…

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I knit up a kid’s version of the “Devil Hat” from Stitch’n’Bitch in some super bulky yarn from my stash. I knitted the bottom part in garter instead of seed stitch only because it’s faster to do, and I didn’t want to run out of time. I added some tassels for ears, and knit some flat circles for the eyes. The beak and pupils are cut out from felt and hand stitched.

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I also knit up some quickie leg warmers using some yarn from my stash. I knit them in garter stitch too, to give them a chunkier look.

Finally, I cut out some more felt pieces for the chest, and attached them with an i-cord string around the neck. At first I had lovingly hand-basted all the pieces together so that you couldn’t see any stitches, but the moment I put it on her, she pulled and tugged at it so hard that I thought for sure she’d rip the whole thing apart. So I took it to my sewing machine and ran some thread through each feather to reinforce the whole thing and make sure it kept its shape.

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As for the rest of it, the brown ruffle skirt and the faux-fur vest are from her closet, and I thought they completed the outfit rather well. No wings required.

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Nico went as Pingu, but was in no mood for picture-taking.

It was supposed to be freezing on Halloween night, but the weather turned out to be a bit warmer, so Louisa was actually able to go out right at sunset without any additional layers. She didn’t venture far beyond our neighbour’s door though, and we left the real trick-or-treating to the boys.

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Happy Halloween!

Louisa: Week 42

Louisa is super awesome.

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There are a few bits of information I wanted to capture, so here they are in no particular order:

She LOVES animals. She leers at any pet that passes by on our walks, straining her neck to watch them for as long as she possibly can. She loves Enzo, and their friendship is developing well.

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We have been doing a version of Elimination Communication (aka infant potty training) for a few months now. I put her on the toilet at every diaper change, and since her BMs are pretty regular, I can tell when she’s due. I don’t put much more thought into it than that, and I’ve put zero pressure on myself to speed up the potty training process or anything. It’s just nice because it helps take the pressure off my washing machine.

I’ve culled our diaper stash down to just one brand: GiggleLife. All the other diapers are either losing their snaps or so stinky I can’t even. But the GL’s are still great, and holding up really well. I only have 21 of them though, so I’m still washing a load of diapers every second day or so.

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Louisa loves imitating. She alternates between shaking her head, clapping her hands, waving, and pointing. She is REALLY communicative, which is great. I’ve started doing the sign for milk to her, but I’m not really doing baby sign language this time around.

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Louisa plays with toys in a way she hadn’t before. She rolls cars along the ground, she bats at the drums and guitars, and she even shakes her little bell because she knows it’ll make a sound. This girl gets it.

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Louisa has been WAY more clingy at bedtime lately. This past week she can only seem to fall asleep if our noses are touching, and one night she fell asleep with both her hands on my cheeks. SWOON!

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I know that Nico and Louisa don’t really look like each other, but there are times when I am BOWLED OVER by how similar they are. Their hands and feet, for one, and some of their expressions, and when she’s nursing and I look down at her, it’s like I’m looking at Nico when he was 9 months old. They also both started out with that wispy baby hair.

So that’s about it. Oh yeah, she actually got Nico’s cold this week (I thought she had fought it already, but I guess I was wrong) and her nose is all stuffed up. Poor thing is having a hell of a time nursing, and she hates that snot sucker about as much as any other baby.

Sigh, let’s hope this illness leaves our house quickly!!

See you next week, where we get to celebrate Louisa’s first Halloween! Whheeeee!

Louisa: Weeks 40 & 41

Week 40

It was a low-key sort of week, as both kiddos got a cold that kept us huddled in. I’d feel bad about them getting sick, except that it’s the first illness we’ve had all YEAR, so at least that’s something. Nico got a number of colds and viruses in his first year, so it’s pretty incredible that Louisa managed to go 9 months relatively germ-free.

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But the cold did mess up sleep routines, and while he slept more, she actually slept less – her daytime naps were all over the place and quite short; except for the massive restorative nap she had that pretty much cleared her sinuses and made her better.

Nico’s cold still lingers while hers is pretty much cleared up; but that’s normal – she’s breastfeeding after all, so she’s getting all those amazing live white blood cells to power through the illness.

(hah, sorry for the PSA-type sentence there, I just think about it all the time, especially when they’re sick, how amazingly fortunate we are to have been able to breastfeed so successfully).

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Anyway, that’s that for week 40.

Week 41

This week has been all about MORE! More teeth (the two top front ones), more smiles and giggles, more awareness and interaction with Nico, and MORE movement! This girl is on the go!!

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Louisa seems tall to me, but maybe that’s because she now spends most of her waking hours standing up. She loves the new vantage point, and she’s pretty able when it comes to cruising. She can walk with the assistance of Nico’s Thomas or her high chair, and I feel it won’t be long before she’s walking on her own. She just wants it so badly, you know?

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Update: We went to playgroup today, and Louisa took her first unassisted step there!!!! OMG, I can’t believe my 9 1/2 month old “walked” all on her own. She is completely comfortable standing on her own, and she has been practicing stepping for a while. Finally it all came together and she showed off her moves at playgroup. Hooray!

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As for food, I think I mentioned this before, but purees are a thing of the past. The girl wants to eat what we eat. It’s made mealtimes super simple, and now that Nico’s on board to eat what we eat (which is working out maybe 65% of the time)  we’re feeling some relief in terms of meal prep.

But sleep, that one still evades us. Louisa had one of the worst nights of her life this week (but maybe it’s related to the walking breakthrough? Who knows). I just wish we could get past the 2.5 hour rut that we’re in. I know she can sleep for longer than that, but she just… doesn’t. It’s very hard.

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Aside from our wakeful nights, life with Louisa is super delightful. She is animated and active, loud and funny, happy and warm. She pulls me close with her hands and gives me huge open-mouth kisses. She crawls up to me and nuzzles her head into my chest. She babbles all the time and loves her brother’s antics.

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Basically, she’s super fun.

2014 Fall Colours Half Marathon Race Recap

Again this year, the Fall Colours run was met with PERFECT weather and foliage at its peak of autumn awesomeness.

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My game plan: On my last training run, I ran 7km in just under 40min, and that felt *right*. So I decided that I would break up my half marathon into three 7km chunks, and try to run each one in 40min. That would give me a final time of exactly 2:00:00. I also told myself that if I ran one of the 7kms slower than that, that I would NOT attempt to make up the time in the other thirds.

Race Day: I went to bed early the night before, and I managed to cobble together 7 hours of sleep (not altogether of course, but still, more sleep than I’d had in a while) and I happily followed my regular race morning routine. I drove myself down to the race (in Cumberland, about 20 minutes out of town) with what I thought was plenty of time to get there, park, and find my race kit and make it to the start. But then I ran into this:

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I got to the Cumberland town limits at 9:05, and I didn’t park my car on the Museum grounds (2.5km away) until 9:45am. The cars were chalk-a-block and not moving. Runners were all popping out of their cars and heading to the race on foot, but I couldn’t do that since I was alone. Then it took me a while to find the race kit tent, and once I had my kit, I had to run back to my parked car to stash it, so that when I finally made it to the start line, it had been FOUR WHOLE MINUTES since the race had started. Boo!!

1 – 7km

My first kilometre was really fast, because I was so mad that I’d started late AGAIN. Not only that but the 10km racers started right after me, and so I was getting passed on all sides by the speedy 10kers. When my Garmin beeped on the first km, I looked at it and saw I’d run it in 4:30. MUCH TOO FAST! I texted Angelo what had happened, and he sent a text back telling me to check my mental game and that I was only racing against myself. It was just what I needed to hear.

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I dialed it down for the next few kms, focusing on each upcoming runner, and methodically taking them over without accelerating too much. I prepared myself for the mental challenge ahead. I also slowed down a few times to catch a snapshot of the vistas whenever they were particularly spectacular. After all, the appeal of running this race are the beautiful colours of the changing leaves!

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I ended up running the first 7km in 36 minutes, which is pretty fast, but I was also happy to have a bit of a buffer in case I needed to slow down near the end.

8 – 14km

By this time I was feeling a lot better; I had gotten over the fact that I started late, and the weather, the scenery, and the texts back and forth with Angelo really made the run enjoyable. I had overtaken quite a few runners by this point, and the 10km racers had already turned around, so there were fewer people on the road.

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When I got to the halfway point, I felt a little bloated and waterlogged. I had slowed to a walk at each water station, but all that water was just sloshing around my stomach and making me feel a bit queasy. I walked for about 30 seconds just after the turnaround, and waited for my stomach to settle a bit.

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I started running again and felt okay, but worried that the second half of the race would be catastrophic. To keep from panicking too much, I forced myself to stop thinking about the race and look up at the trees and countryside. I fell into a nice rhythm after that, running kilometre after kilometre listinening to the sound of my race bib flapping against my racing belt. The sound became super meditative and hypnotic, and the whole world seemed to shrink away while I put one foot in front of the other.

Angelo also sent me a super sweet text from the kiddos: “Go mamma! Go mamma!” and it brought a smile to my face!

15 – 21km

Around this point I came upon a couple of runners, one with his hand on the other one’s back. I thought that he was trying to coax his friend along through a rough patch, but as I got closer, I realized that it was actually a blind person running with his guide. They were running at my pace, so I stayed behind them for a good 3 or 4km. It was amazing to see them running together, so in sync, with such subtle gestures to guide away from obstacles. There was also some serious camaraderie between them, and I felt really lucky to be running behind such disciplined racers. I totally credit them for my finish time, since they kept me at a steady, sustainable pace for the most of the last third of the race.

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But, inevitably I was bound to hit a wall, since I was pretty undertrained for the distance, and it happened at the 19th kilometre. I had walked through the last water station, and was finding it harder to start running again. I got a bit of a trot going but when the course went uphill, I just couldn’t. I veered off to the side of the road and slowed to a walk. I was pretty dejected, and it must have shown on my face, because just then a marathoner was running towards me, out for his second loop on the course. He said to me: “Keep going! You’ve still got a great time!” and it really boosted me up.

Finally I came upon the last big hill and though I wanted to run the whole way up, my legs had other plans. They were filled with lactic acid, and all of a sudden it was like they were made of cement. I lagged hard and found myself walking yet again, but just up to the top of the hill. Then it was just a matter of making it around the victory lap on the Museum grounds, where there were plenty of spectators cheering and whooping. I had nothing left for a sprint of any kind – not even enough to put on a brave face for the photographers. I was just spent and looking to be done.

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I crossed the finish line at 2:04 and I was pretty happy with that. It was a little strange to be done and not have anyone to talk to and no babies to hug. I found those two runners I’d followed and thanked them for being my pace gauge. Then I grabbed a bagel, my race t-shirt and headed back to the car.

I tried to drive away but my leg and foot cramped up pretty badly as I tried to step on the accelerator and brake. I had to pull over and give it a nice long stretch before I could head back home. But I drove home with the finisher’s medal around my neck, proud to have run my second half.

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Results:

Chip Time: 2:00:23
Clock Time: 2:04:33
Place: 119 out of 250
Gender: 47 out of 138
Category (F35-39): 5 out of 18