Tuesday, November 18, 2014

No monkey left behind

Overheard at lunch just now:

"Matthew, we each ate a quarter of a pear. Soon we will each get one eighth more so we will have had a quarter and an eighth. Mama just got a quarter, but 3 quarters and 2 eighths is a whole pear!"

When M.G. was figuring out fractions and other math ideas she wanted to talk about it a lot at lunch and supper. M2 was old enough to be listening to her and wanting to know more and down the row it goes. Now M3 comes out with these ideas that I know we've never specifically tried to teach her.

M.G. loved counting and organizing things -she'd spend time grouping toys, counting the objects in each group, dividing the groups up, etc. Just her personality. But it is fun to see that the things that were so interesting to her have just become regular vocab for the crowd.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Snow is here!

The weather has turned very cold and we have had a few dustings of snow that stuck around. The kids had no school today due to Veterans' day and it had kind of a snow day vibe.

Today M4 and I were watching the bigger kids playing outside in the cold and snow. When M.G. came in she asked if he was watching "The Yard." We decided it was a sneak preview of the upcoming season!

One of his favorites these days is this matching game. He likes to have help matching up the pairs and talking about the animals. We discovered this purple walrus matches the walrus tiles and he likes to match it. If you try to match it to a different animal he says, in a deep voice, "No! Walrus!"

M4 really likes ketchup and other sauces. One of the kids caught him dipping a finger in the ketchup when we were at Burger King a few months ago and shouted that he was using his reusable french fry to eat ketchup. Now we catch him using his reusable french fry quite often.

He has been saying "excuse me" a lot. "Scuse me book," if there is a book in his way. "Scuse me Mama." and so on.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

October 2014

October this year had a lot of activities and family fun. At the start of the month I finally got antibiotics for the horrible gunk that had plagued me for more than half of September. That was wonderful.

The older two and Papa had a couple weeks of soccer at the beginning of the month. The kids had a good experience there and are excited for the spring season. The weekends were pretty busy. We celebrated M4's birthday the first weekend, traveled to Iowa for a funeral during the second. The next weekend was the University homecoming parade, M.G. singing in the church choir, and her piano recital. Then, Halloween weekend, of course! This month M.G.'s orchestra started group rehearsal twice a week and she started a weekly enrichment class for students who have been evaluated as meeting the requirements. And we had a short visit from Grandma B who sewed M3's beautiful Elsa dress!

M4 had so much fun with the leaves this year and is still young enough that they'd rake a pile just for him to jump in.

He spends so much time with the toy kitchen actually pretending to cook. Makes it much easier for me to cook too!

The weather for the homecoming parade was beautiful. A little chilly, but not bad at all. This is our town's biggest parade with the most bands. (And lots of candy.) M.G. was so impressed to see the 5th grade orchestra there. The cellos and basses were riding on a trailer, but the violins and violas marched behind! That was a first for us to see.

We carved pumpkins on a nice, warm afternoon. M4 wasn't interested in pumpkin guts! M.G. and M2 did quite a bit of their own carving this year. (With those safe pumpkin saws.)

I couldn't get all 4 kids looking and smiling for my annual sitting in front of the house with pumpkins photo. It helps mark another year in our house. (5 years already!)

We had a homegrown pumpkin mold on us (we had 2 homegrown and 2 store bought ready to go.) M.G. was excited to be given a pumpkin at religious ed the Wednesday before Halloween. As soon as I saw her she said it should be his. Instead of carving it we used these Mr. Pumpkin Head parts we had been given a few years ago. The kids tried to help him pick his favorite parts, but then we realized he was just handing them all the parts!

M.G.'s school had a very fun Fall carnival on the Tuesday night before Halloween. The kids wore their costumes, played a huge number of games, and went through a haunted art room. There was even a dj and dance floor! They had a blast and, with the weather turning really cold, it was a good chance to wear their costumes without layers.  M3 had walk over and say hello to every other little Elsa we saw - and there were quite a few!

M3 was able to wear her costume to the party at preschool. The teachers assigned a saint to each kids' costume and talked about All Saints day as well. Then she changed into jammies for the daycare party that afternoon. M.G. and M4 got to wear jammies to school and daycare. M2's class dressed up as scarecrows for their party.

The temperature was right around 30 to 35 degrees at trick-or-treat time Friday night. The kids didn't care and bundled up before heading out. This year we had a sorceress, a magician, Elsa from the movie Frozen, and a calf.

The spoils, minus the unsafe nut candy.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

M4 turns 2!

M4 turned 2 on the 2nd! He's definitely a big guy now - trying to keep up with the big kids as much as possible.

There are so many things that make this a fun age - he is trying to talk about everything and he's figuring out so many new things.

On his actual birthday, Thursday, we had homemade cinnamon rolls for breakfast and he opened his gifts from us. He shouted "Choo Choo! as he opened his train. We knew it would be a hit because he is always pointing out trains to us. We also got him a breakfast set for the play kitchen. He spends a lot of time cooking, playing with the toy food, and washing the toy dishes. He's been serving lots of breakfast foods and giving them a lot of salt and pepper!

Saturday we had both sets of Grandparents here to celebrate. He was so excited to tell us that we had "2 Grandmas!" and "2 Grandpas!" around.
M4 likes to say the number 2 - perfect for his 2nd birthday! When he counts he'll throw in a random three, or six, or eight. But usually he points to each object while saying, "Two, Two, Three, Two, Two, Two, Six..."

He's more of a mimic than some of the other kids, trying to repeat what we say. This is especially fun when we are listening to music or reading out loud. He'll say the last word of each sentence as if he were reading along.

He likes to brush his teeth and has been trying the training potty. It's fun to act like a big guy! He isn't to the point of trying to stay dry, but he is so happy when the timing works out for using the potty. His diet is improving - dairy hasn't been bothering him and he's getting more veggies lately.

M4 is a strong willed little guy - he wants to climb up into his car seat and it really is better if I wait for him to do it, unless I want a fight. He wants to go along on every bike ride - he loves the trailer - and will get his helmet and get into place if he see what the big kids are doing. He helps dry dishes and do other chores because he'll pester me until I find a way for him to help me.

He is still a sweetie too, always ready to snuggle.
Opening one of his gifts very dramatically was hilarious!

Often this is what I find when I come out to the living room in the morning.
Watching out the window is still a favorite activity.
Singing with M3
M4 had his check-up today. He's about 27 lbs and 34.25 inches. He showed good growth and is near the 45th to 50th percentile. He and M3 have been playing with the doctor set this week and I think it helped. He had no tears and cooperated with every part of the exam. Such a relief after lots of crying at his previous two.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

September 2014

Our school routine has been pretty smooth this year, so far. Although, I can't help but feel that getting everyone situated each day is a big weight on my shoulders...or maybe that is something else...
A few updates:
* M.G. decided on viola for orchestra. She has her first lesson on Friday and is pretty excited. She enjoys piano and church choir, I can't wait to see what she thinks of this. She comes home talking about all the things they learn about in 4th grade. I really like hearing about what she's learning.

* First graders bring home a book, based on their reading level, to read out loud each night until they can read it "conversationally." M2 brought home a more difficult book each night for about a week and then suddenly didn't bring home any more. We thought he might have defeated the level-readers, like M.G. had when she was in 1st grade. Instead, today he brought home an early chapter book along with a writing journal. He's supposed to read and then answer a creative writing prompt each night.

* M3 is enjoying preschool and always has lots of information to tell me about what they did. Last week a favorite was when they learned the song, "Who let the Rs out? Ruh Ruh Ruh Ruh"

* Dance, soccer, religious ed, biking to school, and all of that is going smoothly and everyone is having fun! Papa is coaching both M.G. and M2's team (it is a 6 week season)

* M4 is doing much better at drop off. Most days he walks right in and hangs up his coat. Letting him walk from the car was a big help. We also talk a little about daycare on his home days - just a sentence or two. He now tries to say "teacher" and will talk about going to see his teachers or play with the teachers.

* They don't use high chairs at daycare and it didn't take him long to start refusing his high chair at home. He'd climb up on to Papa's chair and sit and wait for his food. We moved M3 to the bench by M.G. and moved M4 to a booster. He loves it!

Sunday, September 07, 2014

First Days

I think we are starting to feel like we are falling into our school year routines again.
First day of daycare for the year - 8/21
I'm teaching on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays again this year. M4 will be in daycare from about 8:30 to 3:30 on those days. He's in the toddler 1 classroom now. Instead of high chairs they sit at low tables for meals and that is adorable. His head teacher was M2's gymnastics teacher a few years ago and is very nice. M4 is still crying every drop-off, but he is having fun when I pick him up. On Friday they were playing outside and he was running and laughing. I hope that before long the mornings will improve!

M3 will be at daycare in the afternoons on those days. She's in the 4 year old room, which often combines with the 3 year old room during the day. However, last year she told us that at times the 3 year olds had to go in their own room because they weren't old enough for the things that the 4 year olds did at that time. She's excited now to be in the older group! The first day back I walked her into her room and her best friend from last year shouted her name and told her to stand in line by her. Then she said, "Catie, this is my new friend. She'll be both of our friends now." It was as if she hadn't missed a day!

First day of elementary school - 8/26
These two are just happy to be back in school! I love their excited faces. I think they were both a little nervous when we went to their classrooms to meet their teachers and drop supplies off on the day before school, but on the morning of they both just seemed happy.

M.G. has moved up to a new building this year. I am a little overwhelmed by it all, but she's doing a wonderful job. She bikes to school with some neighbors, which is going very well. She has a locker for her coat, but they don't keep anything else out there and they aren't locked. She has to type her own lunch number into the computer instead of giving the cashier a tag with her number like the elementary kids do. There are twelve (!) 4th grade classrooms! There is a 4th grade orchestra that she is really, really excited about.

M2 has said that first grade is fun. I think they spend a lot of the first few weeks of first grade learning the rules again. He has been excited about library, gym, and the other "specials." He has the same teachers for those classes as last year. Papa bikes him to school in the morning.

M4's first night in the big guys' room! - 8/29
We moved M4 into M2's room on the Friday of Labor Day weekend, thinking an extra day off to help us adjust would help. We're making progress in getting him to sleep in his bed instead of ours and I suppose that is better than not making progress. Mostly thinking about how nice it will be once he's able to fall back asleep without help, it's got to happen eventually.
First day of preschool - 9/3
M3 has been looking forward to school for so long and is so excited to be finally ready for preschool! Her preschool meets in the morning on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and then I bop over to pick her up and drop her at daycare those afternoons. She attends the program at our church. The preschool we used for M.G. and M2 meets Monday - Thursday and this works a little better with our schedule.

She and I drop M4 off at daycare so that he is there for breakfast and then I take her over to school. Those little minutes of driving before and after preschool are so fun - she always has something to talk about. She was a little sad about drop-off on Friday, her 2nd day, but last year at daycare she had a day or two like that at the beginning too. I think it is just a little blip as she transitions from summer to being gone for those days.
Can you get more excited than this?
They are all adjusting well - there is the normal extra wild behavior at home, but that tends to even out eventually. At supper last night I was saying that I missed them during the day. I asked if maybe we should try homeschooling so that we could spend more time together. M.G. said, "Well, I suppose you and Matthew could homeschool."

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

August 2014

August was a nice mix of days at home and a trip to Minnesota. The kids fill up the days with playing outside, playing inside, and an occasional park, library, or museum trip. We've been going to the pool with Papa after supper a few times a week. (No sunscreen needed and 2 adults!)

M4 finds the ball popper so funny!
 M4 has really gotten into playing with the big kids. Instead of just following them around he pretends with them and can participate a little.

Driving to their camp site.

He continues to enjoy stories. Hand, Hand, Fingers Thumb is a top favorite and he can sort-of recite it to us if he wants us to read it to him. He also loves to look at this little baby-safe book of family photos. He points to each person and names them. Sometimes he gets his toy phone (still a top favorite toy) and points to who he is calling.

One day M.G.'s "special job" was to make this t-shirt bag. (Only way I could guarantee that I'd make the time to help her with it, sadly.) We were given a similar t-shirt bag at the 4th of July parade and we liked the idea. She cut the arms and neck out of a t-shirt and then I showed her how to use my sewing machine to sew the hem. She did the sewing herself!

This shirt was free with the summer reading program a few years ago. She was excited to bring the bag to the library for her books. The children's librarian saw her bag, loved the idea, and showed it to all the other librarians as an idea for the future. She felt pretty proud!

Papa worked on a house project this month. This kitchen wall has bugged me since we moved in. I hate how in photos of our big events we have this big plain back drop. We had trouble deciding what to do with it or finding art work. I took this photo and messed with it in paint to see what I thought might work.

This is our finished product! Papa attached bead-board and trim to the wall. My mom found beautiful cloth napkins and framed them as a gift to us. They add some nice color to that big empty wall.

M.G. stays in Minnesota for a week with her grandparents each summer. Now that M2 has finished kindergarten it was his summer to go as well. They decided it would be fun to stay together instead of alternating where they stayed. Since Papa had a work trip that week, I decided to bring the younger two to MN too. We spent half the week with Grandma and Grandpa M while the older two were at my parents. Then we switched houses for the 2nd half of the week. Papa was able to join us for the last couple days! It was a fun week for all of us filled with all sorts of activities!
Swimming at Grandma and Grandpa M's house!

Watching ducks with Grandma and Grandpa B!

We're wrapping up summer vacation here! I have meetings tomorrow, so the little two are headed to daycare for a practice day. We're so glad that Grandma and Grandpa M are coming for a few days this week and then my parents will come next week to help out for the first day of university class. School starts on Tuesday! I think everyone has some jitters, but is very excited.

I took the girls to Great Clips on Sunday and Papa trimmed the guys' hair. He invested in clippers to help it go easier. We took a few photos with everyone looking sharp. M3 wanted a short haircut and has been talking about it for a couple months. She waltzed right in and had a great time. I'm not quite used to her new look, but she really likes it. She'll be going to preschool in the mornings on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and then daycare those afternoons.

I need to bring in a family photo and a photo of M4 for his new daycare classroom (Toddler 1). This was our first take and it melts my heart. I'm sure I'm going to be looking at it a few times during that first week of school!

And here is the whole gang! Now I won't feel as stressed about getting the perfect first day of school photos. (Or posting them any time soon!) I enjoyed this summer so much, but it just went so quickly. I'll miss them all once they head back to school and daycare. The older 3 are so excited though, that it will be great to hear about their adventures!