Last week Audra decided that screaming only when she's upset was not enough, and now she screams when she's happy too. For some reason I find this hilarious (Ryan less so), particularly when Ryan, Josie, and I were sitting around the table, all plugging our ears as Audra expressed how pleased she was with her food by screaming at it :)
Besides that, Audra just did a lot of bouncing with excitement last week. She would touch her ball, bounce at it as it rolled away, crawl over to it, touch it again, bounce, rinse, repeat. Josie also has been regaling us with various songs lately, and Audra apparently loved that too, since she would just bounce with glee whenever Josie stomped by.
We finally got Audra's walker out of the attic, and she's been especially intrigued with it, using it both backwards to crawl with and forward as it was intended (although sometimes with a rather perplexed look on her face). She also spends a decent amount of time just standing next to it, like, "hey, I don't need your stinkin' walker! ... oh wait, yes I do." ;) And actually, she will now use just about anything as a walker, and will push a stool, chair, or table around in front of her so she can walk behind it.
Sleep is going just fine. There were a couple of instances where Audra woke up last week but got herself back to sleep without nursing, albeit in awkward positions, like arched backward under my arm. Also, she has started waking less frequently at night again, and even did a couple of 5-hour stretches (!!). She still is pretty restless the last couple hours of the night, so she wakes/nurses frequently then, but beyond that, she had a couple of nights where she only woke once or twice before 4am.
I tested adding broccoli back into my diet last week, and not only did Audra do just fine with me eating it, but she seemed to do really well eating it herself too. Given her enthusiastic approach to food so far, I kind of thought she might like some spicier food, but it turns out she is not at all a fan. It was actually on accident, too, since Ryan just gave her some avocado that had been sitting on top of some slightly spicy fish, but suddenly she was crying and crying, rubbing her eyes, and very upset. So I fished the avocado out of her mouth, gave her some water, and she did ok after that, but yeah. No spicy food for Audra.
Audra's other eye tooth is definitely coming through now, although I don't see any more teeth lurking under her gums yet, so she may have a little break before the next ones. I can't really get any pictures of her top teeth yet (oh, but they look like they'll be giant), but here's one of her bottom teeth, at least :)
Audra got the second dose of her flu shot on Monday, and while she did well for the shot itself, she did have some trouble the rest of the day. She apparently struggled with napping at daycare, waking up screaming each time, and then was really upset in the evening too. She had some problems falling asleep that night, but then slept just fine overnight and seemed to be back to normal the next day.
This week Audra learned how to stand for a really long time on her own. It almost doesn't make sense how well she is able to balance all of a sudden. We also don't remember Josie ever really just *standing*, so this is very exciting to us :) I guess that's one of the benefits of having more than one kid, especially when they seem to be quite different from each other - we get to be excited all over again for each new thing since each kid is tackling it in their own - very different - way :)
Audra will now sometimes take steps towards Ryan just barely holding onto his thumb. She won't try walking on her own quite yet, but I have a feeling it won't be much longer. She has been doing quite well walking holding onto two of our hands, and can now walk with just one hand, as long as she doesn't get too distracted ;) I'm actually looking forward to her being able to walk - she already gets into quite a bit, so it's not like that's going to be much of a change (although we do still need to barricade off the stairs...), and I'm really just hoping that being able to walk might help ease some of the crying. Despite how quickly she can crawl now, she still gets quite upset if we walk away from her too quickly, and hopefully she won't feel like she's being abandoned once she can walk too and keep up with us more.
Audra is cutting at least one more tooth right now - her left eye tooth started coming through last weekend, and the right one is now bulging just below the gums, if it hasn't broken through already (she's not exactly cooperative when I try to check). So she has 5-6 teeth still emerging right now, and she is just a trouper - very little (additional) fussiness, hand-gnawing, or difficulties sleeping, and no fever. She only rarely drools - despite all the teeth coming through - and actually, she doesn't spit up either, except for if I've eaten something I shouldn't have (like dairy - she can tolerate some amount in my diet, but I apparently crossed that line last week since she spat up a few times). This is also a big difference from Josie. So we definitely had a "laundry problem" with Josie with all the spitting up that she did for about the first year, while Audra's "laundry problem" is - to avoid being too graphic - from the other end. She still has poo blowouts every.single.time (this is with changing her immediately, trying different diapers and sizes, etc.), but this looks like it will be resolved soon as we switch over to more solid foods.
Audra and Josie have had a lot of fun playing together lately. Josie continues to build up block towers for Audra to knock down, and they've started doing puzzles together too... sort of. It consists more of Josie attempting to do a puzzle while Audra tries to grab and taste-test every piece that she can.
Our daycare provider thinks that Audra has started dancing, but I think it's more just that she's REALLY EXCITED about certain things, which just so happens to include music :) She has been flailing her arms around and yelling when she likes things, and now has added bouncing to the mix too, which is just super cute.
Audra's sleep was not too bad last week - several stretches of 3 hours straight, and several others of her waking after 2 hours but then getting herself back to sleep for another hour. She also napped quite well over the weekend, waking up upset after the first half hour both days, but then nursing back down and sleeping for a couple of hours after that. And that's all I really have to say about sleep for this week - I think I may finally be getting fatigued about talking about it :)
Back when Audra was first born, our go-to activity to calm her down (besides nursing or walking her in the carrier) was to put her on her change table. Now she almost always HATES it with me, and will just scream (in an almost amusingly angry manner) whenever I set her down, although she does a lot better with Ryan now (i.e., I hear belly laughs from the both of them when he changes her). So now my replacement go-to activity for her is to give her some food. This kid loooves food. She calms right down (well, besides the excited arm flapping) as soon as I put her in the high chair, and she just attacks any food I put in front of her (including green pepper, sweet potato, carrot, pear, and pulled pork for this week). She's also starting to learn how to drink out of a sippy cup - she's quite interested in drinking from it, but hasn't quite figured out how far back she needs to tilt her head yet.
We also had friends over last weekend (including their three kids), which gave a fun little peek into our future of being able to get our kids together with other kids and have them entertain each other and have fun. Josie was running around with their younger daughter, while the older daughter took Audra under her wing as Audra tried to follow the other kids around and play with them :) She did great during dinner (albeit using her hummus more as a face scrub than as food), and was perfectly content in the carrier with me as we made s'mores around the bonfire afterwards :)
[There is that middle finger again...]
[She likes to blow at us, and, when I'm not calling her "Audra Mae" (note: not her real middle name), I like to call her "dude" or "little dude"... I'm so imaginative with nicknames ;) ]
The theme for October seemed to be about switching identities for Josie. We had several dinners where she would announce our alternate identities (I'm Peppa, you're George!), she had an ongoing game at school where she was a sick kitty cat (which somehow involved mulch in her shirt serving as medicine and band-aids), and she dressed as a tiger for Halloween :)
She was quite excited about being a tiger, and practiced all week for how she was going to say "Happy Halloween! ROAR!" :) I went to see her parade at school, and while Josie was a little subdued at first, once she caught sight of me she squealed and stomped her feet, she was so excited :)
I planned to stay home with Audra while Ryan took Josie trick-or-treating with her cousins, but first I diligently followed the instructions on my face paint set, and did a pretty passable tiger paint job for Josie, if I do say so myself ;) Josie seemed to be a fan too: when I was painting her upper lip, I had asked her to hold very still and not talk.... and yet she kept talking. After I asked her again to not talk, she reverently whispered, "But it's so beautiful!" She had a great time trick-or-treating this year, and was still raring to go even after her bucket was completely full.
Josie's imagination has really been a thing to behold this month. She seems to love the mulch at school, and several days in a row, had her shirt filled with it when I went to pick her up, pronounced it her "mulch baby" and did not want to go home without it. She also told me about her invisible friends standing on her stickers (who then broke the counter but at least fixed it afterward), and said that she yelled "No!" at Sofia the dead swan when she was taking a nap.
Her language skills are also improving at a rather rapid pace. Lately she has been really interested in having me spell things - she'll call out words for me to spell, then will mouth along with me as I say each letter. She also is starting to make connections that the words she sees actually mean something attainable to her, since she sometimes can recognize them now. So she's been more involved on the computer, as she tries to find her name or Audra's name on the screen, and insists on typing her name (and the rest of the family's, if she gets the chance), which has led to her first IM (sending her name to Ryan), and first Google+ post (where she shared a random article with Ryan, then captioned it by typing all of our names, twice). She also is getting a bit more complex with her sentences, and her grasp of time. For example, she told me not to burn my hand again (remembering that I had burned my hand on the oven a couple of weeks prior), and when Ryan asked her if she would ride on a skateboard ramp, she responded, "Yes, we will hold hands and ride skateboards and we will never fall."
She apparently knows more math than we realized, too, as she randomly announced "two and two is four" and correctly answered some other simple addition problems we put to her. And we also realized she does yoga at school, as she happily ran through several poses one night. So we got out my yoga mat, put on a kids' yoga video, and she had a blast :)
Her eating is still a little inconsistent - she did start eating better again, although there were a couple of nights where she started with the "I don't liiiiiike it" whine before she even saw dinner, which I still find massively annoying (although, sadly, one of those times was probably legitimate, since she got sick after dinner :( ). But beyond that, she's being much more cooperative with food again, trying everything on her plate without a fight, and even asking for seconds on occasion (rather than her usual request for fruit or nuts after she finishes dinner). I also split an artichoke with her, which she was quite excited about, although we had a bit of a dispute over whether it was an artichoke or an avocado ;)
Since I'm currently avoiding dairy, it seemed like a good excuse to have a "practice pie" to test a dairy-free recipe before Thanksgiving, so my mom and Josie made a pumpkin pie together. It turned out well, although we were quickly reminded of one of the reasons we don't normally give Josie sugar, as she seemed to be having a bit of a sugar rush afterward.
My mom also took Josie for the day one Saturday, marking the longest Josie has been away from us on a weekend so far. My mom picked her up mid-morning, they got lunch from Chick-Fil-A (Josie's favorite), and then they went to a pumpkin patch after nap with my aunt (Auntie Pat, as Josie calls her), and one of my mom's friends and her granddaughter. Josie had a great time playing on the seesaw there, which was made out of an old tractor seat, complete with steering wheel, and (repeatedly) going up and down all of the slides.
After another stressful attempt to get out of the house for a Mommy/Josie outing, I ended up putting them on hold for now. It can be difficult enough to get Josie out of the house sometimes, and when there are certain prerequisites to me being able to leave (pumping, trying to get Audra to nap to minimize the chances that she'll scream the whole time I'm gone because she's overtired), I get more stressed and it just doesn't lead to a good situation with Josie. So now we're just trying to find unscheduled opportunities whenever we can for me to have more one-on-one time with Josie, which is working out fairly well. It may not be a whole afternoon with her, but a short outing with her every other week or so is workable for us for now. So one of our outings was an abbreviated trip to the library (the day after the attempt that broke "Mommy/Josie day"), and then we went out to pick up burgers again afterward, which Josie was sorely disappointed by because I didn't get her a kids' meal (which comes with a soda).
[Sometimes it's hard to be a Josie]
Josie and Audra are still doing really well together. Josie was super into playing peekaboo with Audra one day, throwing a small blanket over Audra's head and then pulling it off to peals of laughter... mainly her own. Josie was quite a bit more excited about this game than Audra was, but I suspect Audra tolerated it because it was Josie ;) Josie has had the opportunity to wake Audra up a few times now, which I think she loves being able to do - Josie certainly doesn't like it when we wake her up, but she seems to delight in waking up Audra and seeing her grin when she catches sight of Josie :) Perhaps not coincidentally now that Audra likes playing with blocks, Josie has shown a renewed interest in them too, and will build towers using every one of the blocks she can find. And although she fusses about Audra knocking them over while she's building them, as soon as she's done, she'll encourage Audra to come and knock them all down :) Josie also does a great job trying to keep Audra content in the car, and will tell her "it's ok, Audra", or sing to her or even make up songs for her so she doesn't cry.
Speaking of songs, Josie is pretty obsessed with one of my favorite bands (Tegan & Sara). She asks very nicely for "more Tegan & Sara, please" whenever a non-T&S band comes on in the car, sometimes will request specific songs (and is able to recognize some of them now just by the opening notes), and likes to analyze some of their videos too ;) And although I do love them, I have to admit - after weeks of only listening to T&S with Josie in the car, I definitely skip over their songs when I'm on my own now ;) Josie and I have sort of a fundamental difference of opinion over the music selection in my car, though - Tegan & Sara are one of my "outliers" compared to the pop punk I normally listen to, and one of only 3-4 groups I listen to that are fronted by girls - not that I have anything against girl singers, I think it's just not that common with the genre of music I like. Meanwhile, Josie *only* likes bands with female vocalists, dubbing just about every other band I like as "bad boys" - although she does like songs where Tegan or Sara collaborate with other "boy" bands, and sometimes asks for songs with "Tegan and that boy" or "Sara and that boy". Silly girl. She also sings along to several of the songs now, and while she normally demands that I not sing too, she did allow me to join in once, which prompted an awesome singalong (at the top of our lungs) that still brings a smile to my face to remember :)
[Pointing usually requires one eye being closed] [I clearly had done something wrong here]
Except for an epic, overtiredness-fueled meltdown on Saturday which led to Audra (and me) skipping Ryan's mom's birthday dinner, last week was a pretty good week :) And for some reason, I hardly took any pictures (and no videos!) of Audra last week, so I will attempt to make up for that with words instead ;)
Audra appears to have gotten over her latest cold now (as have I... and Ryan... and Josie. Could it be that we're all healthy for the moment?!), but she still looks a little rough. No matter how diligently I cut and file her nails down, poor thing usually has scabs in her ears and on her nose from her nails anyway (and now I have a scratch on my nose from her attempt to forcibly remove it from my face too). She also banged her eye against a table this weekend, so she's sporting a bit of a black eye at the moment :( But she also cut her other top tooth this weekend, which seemed to happen rather quickly, with just some more hand-gnawing than usual for a couple of days and possibly being a factor for her Saturday meltdown.
Audra still isn't doing too well napping for us on the weekends unless Ryan walks with her, but she did pretty well with her overnight sleep this week. She had a few 3-hour stretches and some nights only (only!) woke up maybe 4-5 times. Now that I'm able to fall back to sleep more quickly again - and she didn't wake whenever I shifted - these constituted pretty good nights. I had been having trouble getting back to sleep in the early hours of the morning for the past several weeks, and while I guess it was nice to have the extra "thinking" time (I came up with so many good ideas then!), I'm still fine with getting that time back to sleep instead of think ;) Audra also seemed to be resettling herself more overnight without my assistance, including once when I was pretending to still be asleep and she just rolled over so her head was on my shoulder and slept for the next hour cuddled up on me.
Audra seems like getting kisses and me poking her nose more now, since she'll hold quite still for it rather than ducking from it like she used to (whether or not that was intentional is a different story...). Her left middle finger is also apparently the explorer of the bunch, since that's what she'll use to touch things or poke at them (including Josie's eyeball yesterday, which she wasn't too pleased about). Audra has also hilariously redoubled her efforts in the grunting game - now she balls up her fists, scrunches her eyes shut, and does funny things with her eyebrows as she aggressively grunts at us, sometimes throwing in an "AH-DA!" too :) She will say "dada" if prompted, but just looked at me rather bemusedly when I tried to get her to say "mama". Oh well.
The first time I see Audra when she gets home from daycare is now one of my favorite parts of the day - as soon as she notices me, she'll head straight for me (making cute little sounds the whole way), then usually pauses right before she gets to me to grab my hands or sit up to show how excited she is by bouncing and flailing her arms around. Then I quickly end up covered in children as I nurse her, since Josie will usually come join us to pat Audra on the head and sneak in some cuddles of her own with me too, before we started rushing around again to get dinner ready and then get us all off to bed.
So, I'm happy that I've finally started to also use nursing for communication and affection rather than just sustenance, sleepytime, and comfort if Audra gets hurt. As some of my middle-of-the-night thinking sessions, I've been exploring what my "baby nirvana" would be for Audra - as in, the place I want to be in my parenting of her. And I've realized that my ideal is even further on the "crunchy" side of the continuum than I realized - I think my nirvana would be to just accept and melt into her very neediness of me, wearing her more, nursing her more, keeping her closer. I've done some of that already out of what seemed to be necessity, but I think we would both be happier if I went even further with that. Along with all the other things I feel like I need to do (like clean the house), I just struggle with the tension between what she should be doing (based on what I admittedly believe are some arbitrary societal pressures), and what she is doing, which is just being her own unique little baby self. It's also hard since I obviously have another child and a husband who I need to be present for too, but Ryan has been particularly wonderful with Josie lately while I focus on the neediest of our family members right now.
I anticipated growing and changing as a parent to meet Audra's needs, but how that's manifesting is still catching me off guard with just how difficult it can be. We've taken the approach that the baby's needs take priority for about the first year, then we will gently and gradually shift to being more balanced with more give-and-take in the relationship after that, all based on our main parenting tenet of "doing right by the kids". So a large part of my struggle stems from giving up so much control, especially for this first year, although I'm realizing that I'm so much happier when I just accept that there are many things in my life right now that I can't control, and they are probably not going to turn out the way I wanted them to. The sleeping situation in particular still overwhelms me sometimes, since I don't believe that Audra will be sleeping on her own anytime soon, but I'm also finding the beauty and peace in just giving in and enjoying sleeping with my littlest snug up against me. And if my experience with Josie is anything to base it on, I will not regret one tiny little bit doing all of this for Audra - sleeping with her, trying our best to hold her when she wants to be held and comforting her when she cries. Everyone has to make the decisions that they believe are best for their family, and in concept, I absolutely believe in the decisions we've made - just in actuality, I still have to push past my lingering wishes that things were somehow different,in some unspecified way, and just work with things as they are.
[This for her Aunt Alyson, who likes babies in overalls ;)]
For Audra's first Halloween, Josie and Ryan went out trick-or-treating, while I dressed Audra up like a pumpkin and chased her around trying to take non-blurry camera phone pictures of her :) Since Ryan didn't have a chance to take her out for a nap walk after daycare, she lasted for about five minutes before deciding she was quite done being a pumpkin, so we ended up going to bed early at 6:45pm. We know how to live it up at our house ;)
[I just find this picture very funny. Trust that she was up to no good.]
Audra really got into blowing raspberries this week, which is just adorable. Along with her various other babbling noises, we have now had many conversations comprised mainly of blowing raspberries at each other. Much less cute is that she also started grinding her teeth this week.
Audra is learning how to open the cabinets, and now has her own designated pot and spoon to bang around. And as she gets more adventurous, she's getting herself into sticky situations a bit more - she has climbed right into one of the corner cabinets and attempted to crawl under/through a stool, but then usually gets stuck and has to have us save her.
She still has a little bit of a cold, but it's more tolerable now that she's just coughing some during the day and a little congested at night, rather than coughing so much she can't sleep. And we finally got her diaper rash to start clearing up - the answer was apparently Lotrimin a couple of times a day and Triple Paste with every diaper change. I had never seen a rash that bad before, so I was starting to get a little worried about it, but hopefully it will be totally gone in a few more days.
Audra tried out pears for the first time last week, which seems to be a hit. She certainly is interested in eating solids and is ingesting some, but it seems her gag reflex is still pretty strong since she ends up spitting quite a bit out. In part because of this, we're still holding off on giving the ok to daycare to start giving her solids until she gets a little more skilled at feeding herself, chewing, and actually swallowing the food. We're going along with the "food before one is just for fun" mantra, and prefer to have her do it at her own pace, so she can control what she's feeding herself more and explore the different textures, consistencies, and tastes.
Audra did pretty well with the time change, just having some problems going to sleep the first night (which doesn't make any sense, but she ended up going down almost 2 hours later than normal) and then waking up an hour earlier the next day, but now she's back to going to bed usually between 7:30-8:30pm (depending on if she got a car or walking nap in after daycare) and waking up between 6:30-7am. Her biggest problem that could possibly be blamed on the time change is really the drive home from daycare, since she has been screaming bloody murder for that again. Ryan is thrilled.
After a couple of rough nights of Audra waking frequently or wanting to nurse most of the night, we have had a marvelous last few nights of sleep - she still is waking about every hour for the first and last few hours of the night, but in the middle, she has been doing 2- and 3-hour stretches now. She generally falls back asleep fairly easily overnight, even when I get her up for a diaper change at 4am and she's wide awake afterwards (and she also fell back asleep once on the change table, and slept through me changing her diaper AND sleeper). She also was able to resettle herself without nursing a few times when I disturbed her by shifting around trying to get comfortable, and so I actually feel decently well-rested at the moment now too :)
[She really likes the clapping part of playing with blocks, and is starting to try to clap herself too]