Saturday, July 26, 2014

M3 on the pedal bike!


M3 has been asking to try her 12 inch bike again recently. She has been using a balance bike for over a year and has gotten much more confident on it in the last month or so. She tried the pedal bike at the beginning of the summer and didn't quite have it yet.

Last night Papa gave her a push and off she went! He coached her a little to look where she wanted to go and keep pedaling, but soon she caught on. She still needs help getting started, but I'm sure she'll get it soon!

In the video you can see Papa's "Staff" shirt from an engineering event from a few years ago. I always smile when he wears it on our bike rides and walks to the store as if we are some sort of group he is leading.

Sunday night update: Tonight M3 figured out how to push off and get started on her own! She also, more importantly, got the hang of stopping herself! She was independently riding back and forth around the cul-de-sac!

Quote of the day

M.G., in the car on the way to the swimming pool, "When I see the 'end road construction' signs I always think that they are from a group of people protesting road construction."

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Experiments in Parenting: 4 part apology

Every summer I seem to try a few different ideas to improve our routine or work on those areas where I feel like I have dropped the ball. This summer I pulled a couple ideas from things I read and we've had more success than I expected!

4 part apology
I read an interesting article about teaching kids how to apologize. ( It's so difficult to say that you are sorry in a productive way, even for adults! And many times it is not very satisfying to have someone only say, "I'm sorry."

I found that this article gave suggestions that helped me make the jump from what I knew was a good way to ask for forgiveness to it being something we could teach. The general form is, "I'm sorry that I ____. It was wrong because _____. In the future I will ____. Will you forgive me?"

We don't ask them to always give a 4-part apology, but I often will when emotions are high or physical violence is involved. The first few times I walked through each step and had the kids make suggestions about what to say. Now the older two can work through it for the most part and the 4 year old needs a little help still.

What has surprised me is that taking the time to say all four parts diffuses the situation and usually puts the children back on the same team. In the past, I know that having one child apologize simply, without feeling, did not make a dent in hurt feelings or bad attitudes. You can't make, "Sorry," sincere if it isn't.

In trying this method I was hoping that down the road the kids would be able to ask for forgiveness out in the "real world" but expected that if one person did something that everyone involved knew was wrong that the apology I requested would fall about as flat as always.

Instead, it forces the kids to listen to each other. I am surprised at the number of times the offended party is itching to get back to whatever situation caused the initial drama. Having to pause long enough to hear someone compose 4 sentences allows everyone to come to their senses. Other times, if someone is rightfully upset or hurt it does bring some sincerity to the situation. (Using positive language for the steps is important.)

I have enjoyed seeing them help each other find the words to use and seeing the difference in how they treat each other as they move forward. Especially when both people have something to apologize for. If the toddler is around he'll say his version of "forgive!" after everyone has said their parts and he'll clap for them. Encouraging civil conversation, and having a form to help us along, heals a lot of wounds.

Today, in the heat of the moment, M3 bit M2. I separated them, had them sit for a minute or two to calm down, and then asked her to give a full apology to her brother. She said, "I'm sorry that I bit you. It was wrong because it hurt you and did not respect you. In the future I will ask first."

At that point M2, who had every right to be upset at his sister, broke into giggles and said, "Well, I'm never going to say yes to you!" Then she asked for forgiveness, he gave it happily, and they went off to play in different rooms, each feeling better. (Even with a 4 part apology I get to impose other consequences if the situation needs it!) 

Thursday, July 17, 2014

July 2014

Blog post titles are easy when posting seems to happen about once a month!

The kids finished up their swimming lessons. We decided to participate in only one 3 week session this summer. I think M2 and M3 will benefit from a year of getting stronger before trying to pass the level they are on. M.G. was VERY proud to pass level 4 on the first try this summer! She didn't expect to, but she worked hard and looked like a stronger swimmer this summer. They are looking forward to visits to the city pool, we went tonight and had a good time.

M.G. will finish up summer soccer this weekend with a tournament. She is torn about which sport activity to continue with in the fall. M2 has one week of soccer left and then will participate in a second, shorter soccer camp later in the month. He is a little soccer dynamo and it is fun to see him get out there and give it his all.

M3 built herself a microphone so that she could sing along to her Phineus and Ferb cd - she was putting a lot of feeling into each song!

She also suggested we both carry our babies so that we could get the vacuuming done, since both of our babies are afraid of the vacuum.

I found out yesterday that they should have classes for me to teach in the fall and it just happened to be the deadline for getting our calendar in at daycare for August. We're trying to decide if M3 should attend both daycare and preschool in the fall or if daycare would be sufficient. I hate to take away even more home time and the logistics would be tricky. But, she has really been looking forward to this milestone and we are happy with the program that M.G. and M2 attended.

M4 has been pretending to put sunscreen on us after watching us put it on the kids.

He has started to enjoy listening to books and will bring them over to be read. He has a few favorites and will really giggle when he hears them.
He's been talking more and more and will mimic us in a sing-song long string of babble that ends in giggles.

My parents were here for the 4th of July. We had a bit of heavy rain during supper, but still were able to have s'mores and see the fireworks.

Papa and I celebrated our 11th wedding anniversary. We were visiting Grandma and Grandpa M and took a photo outside of the church where we had our wedding.

Every summer we slip 'n side and use the kiddie pool at Grandma and Grandpa M's. They got it all set up and then it started pouring. The kids didn't care and had fun running around in the rain while playing. 

M4 wasn't too sure, but he had some fun before he was ready to go back inside.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

June 2014

We've worked our way through the first month of summer vacation. At supper tonight we learned that M.G. hasn't met her two summer goals - going to the community pool and eating a s'more.We'll have to get on that! It's been a rainy month so far, hopefully we'll get some good pool weather soon.

M.G. and M2 finished their school year at the end of May. M.G. will move on to a new building next year and she looks so much older than she did when she started at this building for kindergarten! A few days after the end of the school year we traveled to Minnesota. The kids and I stayed with my parents for a vacation while Papa traveled for work.

Photo we sent in our Fathers' day cards!
We had a few days at home before heading to Utah for a family vacation. In those days at home we had M3's birthday! She is so happy to be 4! She wanted flowers on her cake and offered me advice as I frosted. She had a good check-up and is 32 lbs, 40.25 inches. She talked the doctor's ear off and after going to a lot of M4's well child visits finally had the spotlight.

Her big gift from us this year!
The days fly by here. I am really enjoying the time with everyone and am very glad that I can relax in the short evening hours instead of trying to squeeze in some work time.

I have enjoyed watching the kids play together. M4 is getting old enough to participate some of the time. He gravitates toward M.G. a lot and she is good at helping him out. He loves to shout, "mow, mow," and then she lets him mow the grass for her Lego city.

M4 mowing and M.G. in her sporty glasses for soccer.
M.G. is on a soccer team this summer and has a few weeks of piano lessons. She, M2, and M3 all are in swimming lessons now. M2 will have a soccer clinic in a few weeks.

We took M2 in for an eye exam before our vision insurance changes for the worse. His vision is great now. I never realized that kids' vision can change suddenly with a growth spurt. It is good to know that likely M.G.'s vision wasn't horrible for a long time, but instead probably quickly changed.

M4 likes to kick the ball around with them! He is trying to talk up a storm and now likes listening to stories.

Tuesday, June 03, 2014

The Yard

M4 loves looking out the front window in the kitchen, especially when people, birds, dogs, or vehicles are outside. When he had his arm in the sling I didn't take him outside to play as often, so he and I would stand at the window and watch the rest of the family playing. He'd stay as long as there were people to see. Eventually I let him stand on a chair while I stood next to him.

The kids saw him and would wave at him or dance around for him. Papa would also wave when he passed by. When M.G. came in she thought it was so funny that M4 was still looking out the window and she asked if he was watching his favorite show, "The Yard."

Now if M4 hears the lawn mower he runs for the window to watch Papa going back and forth. M.G. calls out, "The Yard is on, The Yard is on!"

Over the last few weeks, I think it has evolved to being a network called The Yard with different programs, like "Lawn Mowing with Papa," "Scootering with Rebecca," and "Soccer!"

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

May 14?!

My grades are submitted for the semester! M4 is home today with a fever. I had a really rough cold last week (is it a cold with aches and fever?) and I guess he is getting it now. It has dragged on and on for me, I hope it moves faster for him.

A photo from two weeks ago as I planned for my final class of the semester.

First semester this year was tough as I tried to do too much with too little time. I was always scrambling, staying up late, working on the weekend, and using every last minute. I knew it would be difficult with two new classes to teach after staying at home for so long. This semester was much less stressful as far as finding time to get things done, since I had my notes from first semester, but much more difficult with illness, weather, and other family things cropping up. I should have kept track, but it felt like every week was an exception to our smooth plans and required schedule juggling of some sort. Even today, Papa and I are taking turns at work so that M4 could rest at home.

The school year has been very good though. I have greatly enjoyed being a part of the department and teaching. I won't hear for a while if they have need for me again next year, but I hope it works out.

The older two are excited to be finishing up the school year. M.G. is eating lunch at Pizza Ranch today with the principal and other kids who earned enough points in the reading program. She was very excited! M2's class has a bunch of theme days for the end of the year, lots of fun!

We went back and forth between holding our spot at daycare by sending the younger two a couple times a week during the summer or by putting down a deposit to hold the spots. We decided to keep them home and M3 goes back and forth between wanting to be done already and being sad that she is nearly done. Her talking has improved a lot more, except she has added a lisp sometimes. She is just such a talker! At gymnastics yesterday they each picked an animal for the whole group to imitate. (Butterfly, cat, etc.) She picked a donkey from Custer State Park because then she'd get to try to poke her head into windows at people. Here are two drawings she sent to Grandma and Grandpa B so that they would not miss us too much when they were on their vacation. (The first one is M4, M3, M2, MG - but she wanted more space to fit in a larger M.G. The second is me and Papa.)

Earlier last week, M4 fell from his high chair and broke his arm. He loves to stand in the chair to watch us in the kitchen and normally is very sure footed, so we had become less cautious about it. After he fell he was favoring his arm a little, but not very upset, so we let it go until the next day. Papa brought him in and an x-ray showed a break in his upper left arm. He is in a splint now and we've been giving him Advil. It should only take 2-3 weeks to heal. The doctor gave Papa the rest of the bandage material to wrap M4's monkey that was with them at the visit.

The splint and sling don't slow him down. He has been in good spirits and still plays with everyone. We keep his arm inside his shirt to encourage him to keep it still, yet he still grabs with that hand and holds toys through his shirt. He wanted to drum a few days ago and a broken arm did not stop him!
Mother's Day was low-key this year. Wanting to keep M4 close to home, combined with a busy weekend of grading after finals week, kept us around the house. But it was nice at the same time to watch a movie together, play a game or two, and just be around the house.

I had joked that I'd hide M4's cast in the photo for Mother's day, but then when the time came he did not want to pose for a photo and refused to turn toward the camera.

I'm looking forward to summer vacation! I quit my job with the tutoring company a few months ago, so it will be the first time in several years (6?) that I'm not trying to squeeze work into nap and evening times. I think these monkeys will keep me busy, but in a very good way.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Dr DeSoto, kindergartener

Friday was "dress like a book character" day in kindergarten.  M2 chose Dr DeSoto, mouse dentist. He had fun helping find pieces for his outfit.  

Friday all the 3rd graders came home with a ginkgo tree.  We decided to plant it near the spot we just took down a huge pine - we'll see what happens, it is very scrawny right now.  I guess we have 3 years until M2 brings home his Arbor day tree if this one doesn't take...