Louisa: Week 50

Unfortunately, we were all hit with a nasty head cold this week. Even Angelo, who usually is immune to any bug that railroads the rest of us, was feeling low and achy with a sore throat and cough. So it wasn’t the funnest week in the world, because being sick just plain sucks.

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We stayed close to home, though we tried to get a bit of fresh air everyday. Check out Nico and Angelo’s Thomas snow sculpture!

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Louisa had a big week nonetheless. Both she and Nico seemed to have matured and *grown* this past week. I’ll never understand why many weeks can go by without a noticeable change, and then all of a sudden a surge of development happens, but that seems to be the way things go. So here’s a rundown:

Communication: Louisa turned a corner in her communication this week. All of a sudden she put together her pointing skills, her grunting skills, and her intonation and facial expressions so that she can full-on “talk” to us. She spends a lot of her time pointing things out to us and going “ugh ugh” with her eyes bright and her mouth in an O. It’s amazing to see her so engaged to her world and to us, and we’ve made a big effort to name whatever she’s pointing at so that she can start associating the words with their likeness. I also feel like she’s getting a better grasp on the nuances of facial expressions and body language. She conveys so much more meaning now than she ever did before.

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Movement: Louisa has tried to do like her brother on a couple of occasions this, which have resulted in tremendous tumbles and a few bumps and scrapes. The worst was when she tried to climb atop his wooden step stool, and she made it to the top but then fell right off, clipping her chin along the way. Ouch! Other than that she’s getting better at climbing those stairs, and I’ve taught her how to scootch back down them again. With a bit more practice, she’ll be a pro at both.

Breastfeeding / Food: Louisa still nurses pretty much on command, pretty much round the clock. She also eats lots of foods, and I’m always so struck by how easy it is to feed her. One thing to note is that we got rid of the high chair a few weeks ago and it’s been great. She now sits in Nico’s old booster seat (which has a strap) and Nico got a new “minimalist” booster that he really likes. It’s way easier for him to get off and on, and having Louisa at table level is really lovely.

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Sleep: Louisa is not a sound sleeper. She wakes frequently, needs a lot of comforting, and prefers to sleep in our bed with us than alone in her room. These are facts. When we “sleep trained” Nico all those months ago, I remember thinking how awful it was, how much it took out of us to sit there in his room for 90+ minutes “shh’ing” and singing lullabies until my throat was bone dry and my arm was numb from rubbing his back through the slats of the crib. I remember thinking that I would never have evenings to myself ever again, that I felt like a hostage in my child’s bedroom, there against my will and unable to leave. I also remember thinking “I can’t ever go through this again” and consoled myself with the thought that the second child would most certainly be a better sleeper.

Ha, jokes on me. We’re back in that awful “hostage” phase, where we can’t do anything between the hours of 7 and 10pm because we’re busy putting the baby down to sleep. The location is different (our bed vs. the crib) but the scenario is basically the same.

(side note: With Nico, he was way more wiling to sleep in his crib (and actually slept much more soundly in his own bed than he ever did in ours). If Nico had Louisa’s distaste for her crib we never would have forced him in there or anything. We followed his cues and we comforted for as long as was needed for him to sleep peacefully. We used the term ‘sleep training’ veerrrrry loosely)

Anyway, I know that I can’t let my kids cry it out. I tried. With both of them, and it just wasn’t something I could do. And so I resign myself to waiting. Waiting for Louisa to learn how to sleep through the night on her own, at her own pace. In the meantime, we’ll be there for her when we’re needed, and we’ll comfort her when she asks.

In my heart and my gut I know I’m doing the right thing, that I’m laying a foundation of trust and well-being in her that will enable her to move to her bedroom with confidence and self-assurance when she’s ready.

And if experience taught me anything, it’s that this too, my dear friends, shall pass.

Louisa: Weeks 48 & 49

Week 48

Unfortunately, week 48 was rough. There were a lot of tears, a lot of clinginess, a lot of foul moods. Louisa wasn’t sleeping very well at night (what else is new) and during the day she was moody, inconsolable, and she would chase me around the house, trying desperately to grab hold of my legs and try to pull herself up into my arms. I indulged her as much as I could, but it’s tough with busy Nico underfoot as well.

Week 49

IMG_1519Early in the week, Louisa’s top left incisor poked through her gum, and we were granted a couple of days peace. But the pesky right incisor was taking its time, and it caused a lot of crying this week, too. Poor Louisa. Teeth are tough, but it seems this girl is even more sensitive to it than her brother was, if that’s possible.

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But there were some highlights to the week as well. For one, Louisa magically learned to climb the stairs, and she hasn’t stopped doing it since. We were at Angelo’s parents’ house on the weekend, and as she walked over to the stairs, we both said: “Don’t worry, she doesn’t know how to climb them.” and then she proceeded to make a liar out of us both and made her way up the stairs like she’d been doing it forever!! Ha. So now our days are filled with watching her “run” to the stairs, giggling maniacally, and letting her get to the top before going up there to bring her back downstairs. I’m average 15-20 flights of stairs a day (gotta get your exercise in however ya can!! haha).

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I also think that she’s going through a growth spurt. It seems like she’s taller now: she can reach a few ledges that she couldn’t before and I’ve had to retire a bit more of her clothes. Also, her shoe size jumped up, so that I ended up buying a pair of boots that don’t even fit her (grr… Second hand, but still, what a waste). Getting bigger is awesome in a lot of ways, not the least of which because it means she can interact so much more with her big brother without getting knocked around so much. And when they chase each other, she’s fast enough now that she can actually chase him. I still wish that Nico would let up on some of his roughhousing, but for the most part he’s pretty sweet to her.

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that hair tho

When she cries (which has been happening a lot lately) he’ll run into the playroom, find a toy (usually one she’s been interested in lately) and try to console her with it. It’s super cute.

Louisa seems more grown up in her play, as well. She’s really into playing these days, and it’s nice to see her gravitate towards certain toys or objects. Of course, the Tupperware drawer is a big hit, but so is the play kitchen and toy trains. Uh oh, I can see more boundary setting in my future!

Louisa’s new thing is that she will offer up a toy to me or Ange, and then ask for it back (by holding out her hand). It’s really cute, and she’ll do it over, and over, and over again. She’s also been sticking her tongue out a lot. I don’t know if that has anything to do with teeth, but it’s pretty darn cute too.

Well… Can you believe I only have two more weekly posts to do, and then we’ll be onto the monthly ones for her second year of life?! It seems to have gone by SO FAST this time around. I look at my big tall baby and think, “aren’t you still supposed to be my babe in arms?” To see her with so many skills to get along on her own (despite her intense clinginess) is fascinating and shocking.

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Oh, one final thought: the other day I got ready to breastfeed her, and I realized that I was really bracing myself for it. Then I realized that, without notice or fanfare, we’d entered the “toddler nursing” phase. She is no longer a passive baby gently suckling at my breast. Oh no, we’ve got full-on nursing gymnastics going on, and biting. She’s bitten me quite a few times, which sucks. I’m blaming it on teething, because it seems to be more rampant when she’s about to get new teeth. But it makes me shudder that we’ve only got 6 teeth, with 14 more to go… Yikes!

Nico Conversations (2)

It’s an interesting time, that first year of verbal communication. Nico talks constantly now, and even though his diction is not 100% clear, he’s made such tremendous headway in the past 6 months that it just makes me beam with pride. Late starts don’t mean a thang, y’all!

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Here are more Nico-isms we often hear around here:

Which hand?” <– Nico often plays the ‘which hand’ game with objects that are MUCH larger than his hand, making it Ah-Freaking-Dorable.

What a mess” (usually caused by the man himself)

Maman no have a beard

What is this?” <– this is perhaps my favourite thing that he says, because it shows his curiosity and his desire to learn. If he doesn’t know the word for something (or if he’s forgotten it) he’ll point to it and ask the question.

“C’mon guys, that was funny.” <– Nico said this to us after we scolded him for pushing his sister.

I wake up my brown eyes.” <– Nico has definitely picked up on the fact that Louisa has striking blue eyes, and people comment on them all the time. I always make a point of telling him that he has beautiful brown eyes. One morning he came up with this lovely sentence to let us know he was awake.

I sound like a noise.” you sure do, Nico.

It’s disgusting / delicious” “It’s yucky / yummy” “It’s awful” <– usually used to describe dinner.

Nico is also big into imaginative play these days. There is a running narrative now when he plays with his trains, and it’s fascinating. There’s a great mix of recreating scenarios from his life along with fantastical story lines. I could listen to him play all day long.

And now for the French: I’ve been a bit remiss in speaking exclusively French to Nico, but I try to keep it up as best I can. Nico really does understand most of it, but will almost always respond back to me in English. Here’s a funny anecdote from a couple of weeks ago: We were driving in the car, and I asked Nico if Louisa was asleep in her (rear-facing) carseat. “Est-ce que ses yeux sont ouverts?” I asked. Nico’s response was, “No, her eyes are blue“. I love it! It also made me realize that French has so many more words with more than one syllable, which may be why it’s harder for Nico to speak it? Who knows. I’m just happy to have such a sweet conversationalist to spend my days with!

<3

Louisa: Weeks 46 & 47

With every passing day it’s becoming more and more obvious that our little newborn baby is gone and we are now dealing with a rambunctious toddler.IMG_1489For one, she’s actually toddling – so there’s that. She walks all over the place, all day, every day. She’s getting better and faster at it all the time.

She’s also showing a lot more independence now. Walking will do that to a person, I guess. She wants to dip the chip, hold the spoon, open the cupboard, grab the cup, play the game all by herself. And for the most part, she can.

Another thing is that this girl is starting to show her preferences for certain things. Her actions all have intention now – she’ll play with the toy, discovering what it can do and how it works. She is fascinated with Nico’s toy trains, pushing them around the track and watching them go. It’s really great to see. But she’s been a bit moodier these days, too, and if I do something that she doesn’t like, she’ll act out in frustration. I can’t believe we’re already dealing with tantrums over here, but I guess we are.

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She’s also grown about 4 feet in the last two weeks! ha.

One interesting thing happened when her cousin came to visit this week: he wanted a ride on her rocking horse, and when she saw him on it, she got REALLY irritated and agitated and cried and flailed. I didn’t know what her problem was, but the minute Rio came off, she scrambled up to her horse and demanded to be put on it. Louisa, the girl who has been all up in Nico’s toys since she was big enough to grab them, was possessive about her things!!

And now that she can navigate her world a bit better, life in the playroom is in some ways way better, and WAY more complicated! On one hand, she can get to where she wants to be, and pick out which toys she’ll play with (instead of being plunked down in front of whatever toy I chose for her) which is great, but on the other hand both kids have had to really learn the meaning of “sharing” and “taking turns” in the last little while.

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And while Nico still acts out against his sister when she gets too familiar with his things, I think there is a change where he’s seeing her more as an equal than a nuisance. At this point, I think he knows she’s here to stay, and now that she can walk and grab and play like he does, he sort of gets that she’s a real person, too.

Finally, here’s a picture of the top of her head. So my kids don’t start off with a whole lot of hair – that’s fine. Hers is slowly filling in, and it’s ADORABLE.

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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.