Sunday, April 28, 2013

Head Banging

No, I am not referring to my love of rock concerts here. 

I am talking about my sweet AND not so sweet 18 month old toddler Grace, and her affinity to rock back and forth while banging her head on her crib slats.  Yep, you read that right, we have a head banger in the house, and she is stressing this mama out.

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Just looking for this picture makes me a bit sad.  I almost forgot how sweet, soft, and cute this little mama once was…

Grace has been a topic of conversation between Chris and I more and more in the past few months.  Right around 9 or 10 months we noticed that Grace would rock back and forth in her crib.  Many babies do this when they are learning to crawl, it is a very normal stage of physical development.  Well, long after she was crawling and even walking Gracie continued with her rocking habit.  We would catch her down in the basement rocking back and forth into Bradley’s big bean bag chair, and in other weird places and moments around the house. 

Right around her one year well visit I spoke with our amazing pediatrician about this weird rocking phenomenon.  I have never had a child do it this much.  Chris still insists that Bradley did it some in his crib (I don’t remember that….).  The doctor told us to tell her to stop if we “caught” her doing it outside of the crib, but lots of babies body rock, head bang, and do lots of repetitive movements at night to comfort themselves or to fall asleep.

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It seems that in the past few months the rocking has become more and more of a habit.  Grace does it when she is falling asleep at night, right when she wakes up in the morning (until you get her up out of her crib), she does it in her sleep (I have thought she was up from a nap because I saw her rocking, only to come into her room and find her fast asleep), she does it in the middle of the night (Chris will be up late working and check the monitor at 11pm or 12am and see her rocking back and forth).  The head banging is so loud, even though she is bumping the top of her forehead into the bumper on the crib, that you can hear it in the kitchen which is right below her room.

Bradley and Ellie would wake up in the morning or from a long nap and babble, talk, call for mama, play with their lovies in the bed, etc.  The first thing Grace does when she wakes up is head bang and body rock.

It is really one of the most disturbing things to watch as a mom.

She now only does it outside of the crib if she is throwing a tantrum or gets in trouble.  She was throwing a fit right before her afternoon nap, and I was warming up her milk in the microwave.  Grace was crying and rolling around on the floor, found the wall, lined her self up and started banging her head into the WALL!!!!!!!!!!!

It is so upsetting to witness.  Of course I ran right over to her and stopped her by picking her up and consoling her.  I have done a lot of reading about body rocking and head banging in the past few weeks.  Apparently it is extremely normal and up to 20% of babies do it at some point or another.  Some children will do it until they are 2 or 3 years old (Lord, help me!!).  They will do it to fall asleep, while they are sleeping, and when they are in their cribs.  Many infants find the repetitive movement comforting and similar to being rocked in a rocking chair. 

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Unfortunately these aren’t our only concerns about this little one.  She isn’t talking much.  By that I mean she really doesn’t talk at all.  She communicates extremely well with gestures, pointing, screaming, and a few signs (more, all done, and please).  Grace probably has a total of 12 words, but doesn’t use them in her day to day life.  She said the word “Hershey” our dogs name, for probably two months, long before her first birthday, but then we haven’t heard it since then.  She consistently says, mama, dada, and night night.  Many words have come and gone.  This is so much different then our first two children as well.

We are in the process of doing a regimen of ear drops to try to clean out her ears (apparently they are extremely waxy).  Then we are going to the doctor this week for a look to see if she has any fluid build up.  It is my intuition that she cannot hear very well.  She is REALLY REALLY loud.  She can bring down the house with her screeching and crying.  I get the feeling that she almost doesn’t hear herself or realize how loud she really is. 

If her hearing seems to be alright we are going to move forward with some speech intervention this summer.  The doctor insists that she is still well within the “normal” range for a toddler her age.  But, some of these factors have me worried.

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All of this has really come to a head in the past few weeks because of her frustration levels, her attachment to me, and her head banging during the night.  We have had a few REALLY ROUGH nights with Grace in the past month.  It started with the molars coming in, and Chris and I popping in at night to give her some Oragel or Tylenol.  Then these episodes escalated and only I could get her back to sleep.  Then if I left her in her bed, she would head bang to the point of exhaustion, screaming her lungs out (you really have never heard anything like it), and get herself so worked up that Chris and I were in tears too.  I would have to get her out of bed, give her milk, or rock her to get her to stop head banging and body rocking. 

I really feel like I am a “seasoned” mom.  I have done this two times before.  I have sleep trained babies and infants.  I have two other kids will a full set of teeth that never did this much crying to get my attention.  Gracie is so dominate and only wants me.  It isn’t cute or endearing, at this point it is exhausting.  Chris tries with her, but she doesn’t make it easy.  She once cried so hard for a babysitter that she vomited her bottle all over her bedroom.  The poor babysitter that watches her while I volunteer in Bradley’s classroom finally has a great relationship with her, but it has taken almost a year.  The first time I left to go to his school I could hear her screaming from the road while I got into my car to leave.  The screaming is on another level. 

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I guess I am writing all of this for a few different reasons. 

One to vent.  It has been a tough few months. 

The second to remember.  Hopefully when she is heading off to Kindergarten this will all be a distant memory. 

Thirdly, I want to remember all this someday when my kids are older, or they are having their own children.  Times with three are tough lately.  It hasn’t been as hard as those first newborn days, but it hasn’t been easy either.  I have been worried about her, concerned, and exhausted by her at the same time.  My Dad was over helping one afternoon and it was a nut house while I was trying to get everyone down for nap.  Kids were cranky and whining.  I asked my Dad if he remembered my sister and I like this.  He said, you just don’t remember, you forget a lot of it.

I don’t want to forget the hard parts.  Motherhood is a journey.  There are amazing moments and many times when I know I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing with my life.  But, there are also lows like everything.  I question my abilities, my confidence wavers, my enjoyment for the day to day wans when times get tough.  I know these hard parts make us cherish the good moments even more. 

Right now, I am just hoping for a little less head banging and toddler screeching.  And a little more peaceful sleeps with some happy toddler moments squeezed in during the day. 

Mostly right now I am just saying a little prayer that all is well with Gracie and we will come out of this on the other side soon.  Right now I am just one worried mama.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Glammed Up

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Chris and I were excited to get dressed up for the Big Gig two weeks ago.  It isn’t very often when you are mom that you get a chance to don a tuxedo and your best dress.  In true crazy style we had the most hectic day with ballet, t ball, chris has two sales appointments for work, and I took Bradley to a birthday party in the afternoon.  It was a small feat to get the children settled and us showered, let alone in fancy clothes. But, we made it happen!

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It was a fun night out for a good cause.  All of the proceeds went towards the local Boys and Girls club in our area.  We got to drink, eat a yummy dinner, and get entertained by Terry Bradshaw and Howie Long…

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I was trying to just snap pictures with my iphone and they are hard to make out our celebrity hosts.  We lived it up, if only for a night.  Good friends…look at these boys!

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The amazing Jessica and Wes!!

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It is always fun in the moment and then the aftermath is never pretty.  Gracie woke up at 6:15, screaming for us in her crib.  I came down later to relieve Chris and I found him curled up on the couch downstairs, the basement trashed, and Ellie playing a triangle instrument over and over again in his ear. 

It is fun to do once in a while though!!  Until next time!

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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

13.1

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I actually was going to post about my half marathon this week.  It was on my mind to share my journey, thoughts, and excitement over finishing the race last weekend.  Then Monday happened.  I’m left with a feeling of sadness, along with the rest of the country. 

Before children when huge events occurred, like 9/11, I was glued to the TV.  Images, thoughts, news, people, videos.  I just wanted to understand the situation.  Even when the VT massacre occurred, Bradley was just a baby and he slept most of the day, so I watched the news non-stop.

Now I have bigger kids, and my first reaction is to turn the TV OFF.  Honestly, I saw people posting about the bombings on facebook, but I knew if I turned on the news it would be on a continuous loop.  I don’t want Bradley or Ellie even seeing the images.  The scary sounds.  The people screaming. 

I don’t want them to think our country is a scary place.  That bad people are creeping around every corner.  My family was just at the finish line of a much smaller race last weekend.  My husband and my parents and my children, cheering me on, watching me race by with a quick wave.  I would love to say that it could never happen here.  But, it seems that the bad is every where.  Now when these events occur I just think of my children.  What is their world going to be?  How can I raise them to make this world a better place?  Would they run away or run to help a fellow person who was injured? 

This is what I think about now when the bad things happen.  My children.  My three happy go lucky kids.  How can I keep them that way for as long as possible???

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To all of the runners, families, and friends that were just watching a beautiful moment with their loved ones or cheering on strangers I will be thinking and praying for you.

To Bradley, Ellie, and Gracie, I love you.  I know you will make this world a better place.  Thank you for coming to my race with Daddy.  You are my little lights and I was so thrilled to see your faces by the finish line.

My final Garmin Stats

Distance:   13.19 mi

Time:       1:58:55

Avg Pace:   8:57 min/mi

Elevation Gain:   840 ft  (Worst HILLS Ever!)

Calories:   1,352 C  (not bad!)

 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Insect Fossils & Other Fun Stuff

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We had a lot of fun at home during spring break!  I made this amazing mud play dough (thank you Pinterest-again!) and Bradley really got into it.  He figured out that if you squished things into the play dough you could see their outline when you lifted them out of the dough….smart boy!

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Here is Ellie making the snake outline in her play dough, we decided that the snake and the centipede were our favorite impressions to make!  First, squish in your insect into the play dough.

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Then slowly lift it out to see the cool impression you made…

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Then you have to feel your impression, of course!

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Bradley and I tackled a huge project during spring break, counting all of the change in the house.  Bradley has been learning about money at school, and I figured what better way to practice then to count the money we have lying around??

Well, it ended up being a much bigger project than I think Bradley and I were ready for.  It took us a few hours over one afternoon, but we counted out endless amounts of coins.  He would lay out the pennies into five groups of ten.  Then I would double check his counting before putting them in the coin sleeve.  The pennies were never ending, but I promised him $5 if he helped me with the project.  He wanted to give up and few times, but money is beginning to be a big source of motivation for him.  We counted out over $90 worth of change, and my drawers are a lot less crowded now too!

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We were really late on our egg dying because of the kids being gone for Easter.  So, we had to dye some eggs at the beginning of the week.  Bradley did a bit of tie dye with his eggs and rubber bands.  Ellie just enjoyed rolling them in all of the different colors.  It is great to just let them do their own thing and not give them tons of direction sometime.  They are creative little things and often surprise me with their aesthetic.

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It was a great week together with the all the kids at home.  I only wish the weather had been a bit warmer for more time outside!  Of course the first week back at school was beautiful and warm.  We have been outside almost every afternoon since school has been back in session.  Bring on the spring weather!

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Spring Break with the Littles

Last week we had spring break.  Me + All three children + 5 uninterrupted days = exhausting + fun.

If you caught all of that, basically we were home for spring break, and didn’t go to any exotic locations, but I tried to make it as fun as possible!  We are still working around Gracie’s nap schedule, so I tried to make my time with the two big munchkins special.  I made a huge list on our chalkboard of spring break activities:

  • play dates
  • trip to Maymont Park and Petting Farm
  • watching our caterpillars grow
  • make an insect book
  • play with our “insects” in new mud play dough
  • plant our seeds for our raised garden bed
  • trip to the BIG library
  • ABC Easter Egg Hunt
  • Easter Egg Sound matching game
  • Caterpillar crafts
  • flower shop play dough
  • garden sensory bin

I must say that we really got to most of the activities on our list!  Having a sketched out ‘plan’ made the week more manageable for me and exciting for them! 

Our trip to Maymont was the highlight of the week.  Chris took the day off of work, and we packed a picnic for the trip, and we were off!  The sign at the entrance of the petting farm…too perfect!

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Ellie inspecting the roosters.

Gracie was just as excited at Maymont.  The animals were right at her level and she could just reach out and give them a pet. 

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Right now we are in the middle of the stroller wars with Gracie.  She needs to be in a stroller, because she wanders off and runs away from you in large areas.  But, she hates the stroller and squawks and fusses in it because it is so confining.  We tried to give her some time out of the stroller at Maymont for running and playing with the big kids.  The problem was convincing her to get back in the stroller so we could continue our journey.  Cue the arched back tantruming toddler.  Fun times.  Refer to happy toddler below.  This is before we asked her to get back in the stroller…

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I also didn’t realize until we got home that I had dressed Gracie in the most un-coordinating stripe outfit ever.  Oh the things that you let go of by the third child.  This never would have happened with Bradley!

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After our trip to Maymont Petting Farm, I set up a sensory activity for the kids to play with after their naps.  The animals were sitting in a bag of birdseed (a mixture of grains, corn, peanuts and other fun things), the ducks were in a pond of blue gak, and the pigs were in their mud pit of play dough.

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The cows quickly made their way into the gak with the ducks.

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The mud play dough was awesome!  The recipe can be found here.

I think it is my new favorite play dough recipe and I will be using it for the basis of all of my future homemade play doughs.  It is SO SO soft, easy for the kids to manipulate and work with.  The recipe calls for 10 tablespoons of oil and I think that is the trick!  To make it mud, you add in a cup of cocoa, so it smells delicious too!

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Bradley came up with idea to cover all of the pigs in mud to look like they were actually playing in the mud.  Love him!  Basically our whole day revolved around our trip to Maymont and talking about animals.

More spring break adventures to share soon!! Love, Clare

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Tidbits

There have been a bunch of little events going on in the past few weeks that I haven’t been able to blog about!  It is always great to just throw them together in a post and call it a day.
That’s what it feels like sometimes! 
This past St. Patrick’s Day Chris was on his yearly beach golfing trip with the boys.  So, it was up to me to be sneaky all by myself.  The leprechauns sure were tricky…
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They dumped out our toys and dyed our milk green!  Then they left little gold coins sprinkled around the house with some fun St. Patty’s glasses and beads…
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I think some of the children drank WAY too much green milk!
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After St. Patty’s day we had a short break, followed by a week of birthdays!!
St. Patty’s Day wouldn’t be complete without playing with our green, glittery play dough
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And then Daddy turned 35 on Wednesday, March 27th, the same day that Baby Winn turned One!  Special times…
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We did a little cookie cake with the kids before heading out to an awesome dinner at the Ivy Inn!
Ahhhhhh, spring sort of arrived…
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At least for long enough for us to open up the sand box and get to work!  The littlest babe was in super duper sand heaven.  She was covered from head to feet in sand.  Sensory overload for her. 
The last little Tid Bit is the visit from the Easter bunny.  It was a strange Easter this year, because I stayed home with Grace while Chris took the older two down to his mom’s house on the farm.  They had a blast seeing the new baby calves, feeding the donkey, and going on an Easter egg hunt in Grandma’s back yard.  Bradley even found some money in his eggs! 
I decided to stay back with Grace for the main reason because she is really challenging right now.  Every child goes through that period where they are non-verbal and just plain difficult.  Pleasantly, when it was just Grace and I hanging out she was great!  I could give her loads of attention, do exactly what she wanted to do, and follow her schedule for the weekend.  We had a great time! 
Other than attempting to eat Easter Brunch with my parents which consisted of my mom holding her, my dad walking her around, and me walking her around, i.e. not much eating.  It really was a great weekend with her!  You would think after having two other children I would know that you can’t take a 17 month old out to eat.  Ever.
Once we got done with our attempt at Easter brunch, I rushed home so I could see the big kids come home from the farm.  I didn’t get many photos, but the Easter bunny was really generous and thoughtful this year.  Bradley got a Star Wars book, the Star Wars movies, and his very first real watch (also Star Wars).
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Ellie got a caterpillar habitat (more on that fun later!), silk scarves for dressing up and music, some rainbow ribbons for her music time, egg shakers, and lots of candy.
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Little Gracie got some scarves too, along with some egg shakers.  It was a mellow and quiet Easter this year for us! 
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Well, that about covers the end of March and beginning of April, whew!! 
Happy weekend!! Love, Clare