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!

Monday, August 11, 2014

(cow) milk trial, day 1

When M4 turned one we started giving him cows' milk in uncooked foods (the frosting on his cake, mac and cheese) and we tried giving it to him in a cup. He always developed red patches where the food touched his face. We quit offering milk, but he is ok with yogurt and cheese, so we know he isn't allergic to milk.

The allergist assured me that a rash on his face does not mean he'd have other negative reactions. If he is intolerant to milk he'd have a stomach ache or other similar symptoms. I'm hoping not to have to pump breastmilk for daycare this year and I know the kids there get milk at meals, so we decided to try M4 with milk at breakfast this week and see if he tolerates it.

He was ignoring the sippy cup of milk at breakfast today and had eaten all his food, so we were encouraging him to try it. He took a tiny sip.

Papa: "Was that milk good? Do you want more?"

M4: (shaking his head incredulously and patting my knee) "Mama milk."

Me: "Well, that is milk too, milk from a cow."


Papa and I: "Yes, cows' milk. Want to try some?"

M4: "No."

It was just like he thought we were playing a prank on him!

Friday, August 01, 2014

Experiments in Parenting: Special Job of the Day!

Here is my second post on the habits I tried to implement this summer. Of course we aren't 100% awesome at either technique, but I'm talking about general trends in behavior!

In the late spring I read a message board discussion about appropriate chores for elementary aged children. I was really surprised at what some parents had their 5 to 10 year old children doing on a regular basis... washing dishes, doing the loads of laundry independently (sorting, washing, drying, folding), cleaning bathrooms, and more!

Since I had some extra time this summer I thought I could teach some of these chores with the end goal of assigning more routine responsibilities to each child as school starts up again. Another goal was to not make the experience into a situation where I was forcing them to do all the work because I'm horribly mean all of the time.

With that in mind, I created "SPECIAL JOB OF THE DAY!" Each weekday morning I write down a job for each of the older 3 children for them to do that day. I can not believe how excited they were the first weeks to see what their job would be.

I try to come up with a variety of jobs for the week that use different skills (wash or dry the dishes, empty the dishwasher, set the table, help cook lunch, mop the floor, fold the clean towels, wash windows, help me organize your dresser drawers, water plants, weed at the garden with Papa) and rotate the jobs that can be done by everyone. We have about one day a week where the job is something other than housework. For example, they've been asked to write a card or letter to someone, help bake cookies before we have company, read a book to a sibling, and pick out lunch ideas from a couple cookbooks. I try to keep in mind that this is supposed to be educational and fun, so often I'm right there with them helping. It doesn't always save me time, but the goal is mostly to add that responsibility to the day.

It has been going very well. If I am slow to write down the task they always ask to see what they will be doing. Even if they grumble a bit, the jobs always get done by bedtime. No threats or time outs, we just all do our job because that is what happens when you are given a special job of the day. During the first week when one child was refusing to do her job another piped up, "But it is your special job of the day, you have to do it!" That worked and the job got done. Some jobs are tied to a time of day and it is easy to say that TV has to wait until the job is done, but for the most part they want to get things finished.

Most of all, this project has kept me motivated to get my chores done each day. I need to have washed the dishes if M2 is going to dry them!

One of my favorite parts of this project is the times where the kids anticipate their job or ask if I can give them a specific chore that week. Thursday has become, "clean so we can vaccum, pick up your toys, and dust your room" day. This isn't a new chore for them, but it is something that actually needs to be done by them, so I like to include it. They thought it was pretty funny last week when they picked up everything the day before so that they didn't have to do any work on Thursday. Of course this week we seemed to have every toy in the house out and at 3 PM on Thursday I was having to keep them on task quite a bit. But, overall we still are having a positive experience.

I'm guessing they will not be as excited to have new chores they are responsible for and I'm not going to keep giving them daily jobs once school starts, so we'll see how we blend "special job of the day" into "work you are expected to do each week."

Thursday, July 31, 2014

M3's quote of the day

M3, during snack time: "Are there bike races in our town for my age?"

Me: "I don't think there are any bike races in our town."

M3: "If there were, I'd win the gold medal now that I can pedal bike. Or, maybe instead of medals they'd give out chocolate chip mint cookies and I'd win 2 cookies because I'm so fast!"