Tuesday, April 3, 2018

The Age of Not Believing

Well, we made it seven years. This past weekend, over Easter, The Bean's skepticism and questioning couldn't be ignored any longer. Half of me wanted to be the one to tell him. To control that dissemination of information. The other half of me is glad that Jen did the explaining. It's a bit sad, knowing that he knows. Of course, once the truth about the Easter Bunny was out, Santa and the Tooth Fairy were quickly revealed. We have asked, and hope, that he preserves the secret... helping to create magic for the little ones who do still believe. The oldest in his grade and among his cousins. We'll see if he is up to the task. 

A letter from the Easter Bunny.


Best Easter photo of the two of them.
Note to self: Next year do sibling photos before the egg hunt.

Monday, March 26, 2018


This afternoon Bug called me over to the playscape. "I need help." "What are you doing, Bug?" "Climbing across here." Here being the outside of the playscape. I had to stop myself from telling her that she shouldn't, that it was against the rules, or unsafe. Because after 3pm there aren't the same restrictions. And I rather she figure things out how to confront challenges than always be safe. So I stood behind her. Arms outstretched. Ready to catch her if she fell. (She didn't.) And after that first trial with me standing behind her she went on to do it by herself at least a dozen more times. Mastering it by the time we left half an hour later. Watching her made me realize how much these brave, problem-solving, persistent kids have to teach me.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

The Bean is Seven Years Old!

Today The Bean is seven years old!

Guys... we have a seven year old! When did that happen?! When did he go from being a cute little toddler into a proper KID? And not even a little kid. A big kid. Crazy.

Grade One is off to a good start. The Bean sometimes complains that he doesn't like school, but I think it's because it's work. His teacher is more firm than in kindergarten and he's started having to try a bit harder. Things still seem to come easy for him, but he is having to put in more effort. He is excelling with Literacy, an doing well in Math and Science, LOVES Phys. Ed. and Drama but, somewhat surprisingly, seems more or less indifferent to music. That said, he was in choir during the fall term and shone in the school concert where they sang a lot of really fun songs like, I'm Still Standing, and I want a Hippopotamus for Christmas.

He seems to know everyone in the school. It seems his preference is to play sports with older kids and recess, and while he isn't excluded, but he's not exactly "one of them" either. In class, he still socializes with a group of kids he's known since Junior Kindergarten. There are five of them together this year. (And he as a crush on one of the girls! Eek!)

He LOVES to be outdoors and be active. He has taken a huge interest in sports. We enrolled him in Soccer in the fall and he has excelled. He even won an award for "Most Improved Player" which he was incredibly proud of. His swimming has also come a far way. Like with Sprout, the lessons at the private swim school seemed to make a big difference to his capabilities in the water. He can now swim the width of the pool and has been working on various strokes. He would most certainly do any sport we allowed him to, but so far two seems to be keeping us busy enough. He has been asking about basketball though, and told me just today that there might be a ball hockey club starting at school. I guess we'll see what comes of it all...

One of the few times he's not moving is when he's reading. This child devours books. He will sit and read an entire chapter book in one go. Between Christmas and his birthday he must have gotten about 25 new books and I'm fairly certain he has read them all. I can't keep up anymore! Magic Treehouse Merlin Missions, The Kindgom of Wrenley, Little Legends, Rahl Dahl, Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary are favourites. Anyone with suggestions of great kids books feel free to comment! Nothing too scary though, he gets nightmares from those.

Board games have also been a growing pass time. He's taking an interest in games with more complicated rules. Monopoly Jr. is a new favourite for our money-obsessed child. Sorry!, Connect Four, and Uno are other "classics" that he enjoys. He got a cool cooperative game called Cauldron Quest for his birthday and we've probably played it a couple dozen times so far. He's not the best loser, but the repeated message about enjoying playing being the goal may slowly be sinking in.

The Bean does not like being alone. I feel like he's actually taken a step back in this regard. We live in a small apartment, yet still he does not like to go into a room without anyone else there. That means he asks us to sit with him in the bathroom, go with him into his bedroom whenever he wants to change/get a book/play in there, and we always get his company, even when we might rather have two minutes alone. And aside from the time when he's reading, he pretty much always wants someone to be interacting with him. He and Sprout play well together most of the time, but their interests are quite different, so that can be a struggle.

This also has been making bedtime hard. He always asks if we will lie with him, or at least sit in his room. I've instituted a routine that if they are in bed on time (7:30pm), that I take turns lying with them until 8pm. So, about half the time I'm in there snuggling. It's hard, because by that time, I'm often just done; so I try to remind myself that this phase will be over all too soon and that I'll miss cuddling these sweet, needy children.

Speaking of sweet, The Bean has become quite the little writer and every so often will gift us with little love notes. He also likes sending emoji-heavy text messages and emails. He adds things to the grocery list in our kitchen, which is pretty adorable... kid writing requesting "bagals" up there on the white board. He's written several books and I'm thinking he might enjoy a diary sometime soon. (He often has things he wants to talk to us about --his crush, an interaction from during the school day. He'll preface it by saying, "You won't laugh at me, will you?" or "If I tell you something, you wouldn't tell anyone else, right?" So I've been thinking a place to record and process these thoughts might be of interest to him.)

Health-wise he's been doing pretty well. He had a stomach virus before the holidays and is fighting a cold now after having gotten his flu shot last week. I'm always worried that with his asthma a cold is going to morph into bronchitis which is going to morph into pneumonia. We've been dosing him with multivitamins and elderberry and probiotics in the hope that we'll be able to keep things at bay. His digestive system is still an issue, but a managed issue. His pediatrician suggested putting him on a low FODMAPS diet just to see if it would help, but I can't imagine trying to get him to stick to that. His favourite foods are carbs. The aforementioned "bagals", cereal, crackers, etc. He's not an adventurous eater by any means, but he eats a bit of a variety from each of the food groups, so I can't complain (though he's trying to veto certain things he used it eat, so maybe I can/will complain...). We tend to rotate the same dozen or so dinners... usually a meat and a veggie, though both kids like rice, pasta and potatoes too.

He's gaining weight. Still on his own little growth curve. Somewhere around the 20th percentile, I believe. He is almost 45lbs and 3'10". He mostly wears size 5 clothes, but is moving into 6s mostly for the length. Shoe size is about a 12.

We've been having a challenge dealing with angry outbursts from The Bean. I'm not sure why it is, but he has developed a tendency to yell or snap at us when things aren't going as he would like. I find it frustrating and exhausting. It's not the way that Jen or I typically interact, so I'm not sure where he's picked it up from, or if it's just something that's innate. I'm trying to be more aware of my tone and to give him my undivided attention as much as possible in the hopes that that improves things. As far as I know, it's just something that happens at home, which is a good thing overall, though still hard on us.

The Bean seem to be going through a lot of changes lately, overall positive, but still challenging for him to navigate, I'm sure. Higher expectations being placed on him, more independence, a greater recognition of the outside world and the way that people interact in it. We're learning how to parent him through these changes. To have patience and listen and provide both the support and space he needs. Seven is bound to be an exciting year!

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Sprout is Five!

Today Sprout is five years old!

Five! Can you believe it? Our little bug is getting so big and this has been a big year for her! She's really grown up quite a bit in the past twelve months. Still super cuddly and sweet and with the most innate sense of humour of any kid I've ever known, but ever so much more grown up.

So, this kid. What is there to say about her? She really is a character. She's incredibly thoughtful and quite a chatterbox and I just love listening to her ramble on and catch little glimpses of how her brain works.

As good as we thought it was for her to have her brother in her class last year when she started kindergarten, we think it has been equally as good for her to have her independence this year. She's definitely on the more reserved side --it takes her quite a while to feel comfortable and express herself freely-- but I think she's gotten there. Her teachers use an app to post photos of the students at work and play and the ones they share with her in them seem very much her. Lots of imaginative play. Focused work. Always with the people she cares about most.

She is naturally funny. This past week when we were visiting Jen's folks she was in the living room playing "Princess Family" with Jen's dad (yes, he is a good sport). As he often does, he started roughhousing with her and tickling her belly. She started shrieking "Stop! Stop! You've made me pee my royal pants!" We all busted up laughing. Later in the week she was lying down to sleep, and as became the routine, Jen's mom was lying with them (she's also a good sport). Sprout said, "Grandma, I'm still hungry." To which Grandma replied, "Well, you didn't eat your dinner." Sprout asked her if she could come downstairs and ask us to get her more food and Grandma said yes, she could ask. So she got up, let out a big exhale, and said, "Well, wish me luck!" Just a few examples, and I'm not sure if they'll come across quite as well written out as they did in real life, but take my word, she's a hoot.

On the flip side, she is sensitive and incredibly thoughtful. She has really taken interest in helping me to prepare dinners. I try to find jobs she can manage. Grating cheese, cutting vegetables, things like that. We started giving both kids allowance for "being helpful and cooperative", but she has no interest in receiving money. She just likes to help. Another example: Last year we made care packages that we would give out to homeless people when we were stopped in traffic. This year Jen and I came home from her work party with the "favours", which were some very nice winter hats and mittens from HBC. Sprout saw them and right away suggested that we give them away to the homeless people because, "It's been so cold, and we have enough warm clothes." Sweet, right? She remembers what peoples' favourite colours are and what their interested in, what toys her friends are coveting for their birthdays. She draws pictures for her friends and teachers and has started writing little love notes.
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<3 for="" p="" u="" us.="">Speaking of, she is just beginning to read and write, which is one of my absolute favourite milestones. For a long time she would say, "I can spell the: t-h-e." I'd ask her if she could spell anything else and she would just say no. Then, sometime in the last month I wrote down a few sight words and asked her if she could read them and it was like it just clicked. She didn't get them all, but I taped them up on the wall, and told her the ones that she didn't know. Is, it, in, on, and, the, up, down... stuff like that. Within a week she recognized them all. Then she spontaneously started spelling words. "Mama, did you know, p-o-p spells pop? And d-a-d- spells dad?" and then when I spelled out a few words for her she told me what they were. I was amazed. It seemed to come out of nowhere. I've been sitting down with her here and there and letting her read little books to me. She's so proud of herself. I'm pretty proud of her too.

She still loves being read to, of course. 
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<3 for="" p="" u="" us.="">Aside from that, her favourite pass times are putting on "shows", imaginative play and arts and crafts. She would happily play family all day every day. Recently she's been showing more interest in playing with figurines, which I prefer. She got a few dolls and animals, as well as some Lego Friends sets for her birthday and Christmas, so those have been in high rotation. She loves animals so the Puppy Show Lego set and Puppy Surprise doll (with three pups!) were favourites. Oh, and the Barbie with the pooping dog that my brother gave to her. Naturally.

She continued on with swim and dance classes over the fall and did great in both. We didn't get in to the city swim lessons in the fall, so I registered the kids at a private swim school. It was pricey, but really good. Her class only had one other child in it, and she made a ton of progress. She did really well in dance too. We were hesitant to sign her up because she often sat out at the side before, but I think she finally got comfortable enough with the teachers and the routine that she actually participated this time around. I dropped the ball on getting the kids signed up for winter programs, so unfortunately I think she'll have to take a little hiatus from dance. Hopefully we can get her back into it in the spring. We've also talked about a few other options, but I still have to get all that sorted out.

The fall was a bit rough health wise. Sprout definitely had one bout of stomach illness, and I think also was home with a fever/cold for a few days prior to that. It's all a bit of a blur. She has been complaining a lot about her stomach. I think that she has reflux. I took her to the ped. a while back but he kind of pooh-poohed it. Her well check will be sometime in the next few weeks and I'll have to bring it up again. I don't like over-medicating anyone, much less children, but I think she needs something. Fortunately she continues to have a good appetite and is definitely gaining weight and growing. I'd put her just under 40lbs and tall for her age, whatever that means. She's solidly in size 5 clothing now and has a unique sense of style that involves lots of mismatched patterns and layers. Shoes are size 12. 

She's been sleeping well. She'll chatter away to herself for a bit before falling asleep most nights and goes through until the morning. She's often the last one up. She's still grumbly in the mornings, but also adorable lumbering out of the room with her messy bed head. She often comes over and wants a little snuggle on the couch before starting her day.

Mornings can be tough. She is s-l-o-w about everything and needs lots of reminders to stay on track. It's not my favoruite thing to feel like I'm hounding her just to get her out the door. I always think that maybe we should just get her up earlier, but I have a feeling it wouldn't make a difference and that she'd just be even grumpier getting out of bed. She's usually perked up by the time she arrives at school, eager to see her friends and share bits of news with them and her teachers.

...Speaking of bed, I should be heading off. Keeping up with five year old is exhausting! ;) 

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Party Girl

I'm am happy to say that Sprout's 5th birthday party was a success!

With her actual birthday being Christmas Eve and that weekend being crazy for most people, and this coming weekend being Jen's work party, we decided a party a few weeks early was the way to go. We wanted to do something, but also keep things pretty simple. We let her choose a few friends to have over. She had a reasonably small guest list but the party date got closer, she started asking in include more people. The fact that our home can only accommodate so many people made us insist on keeping numbers down. (Sweetly, she did want to include some of The Bean's friends so that he would have "someone to play with", but we vetoed that, thinking that even one or two six year old boys could quickly derail her mermaid birthday party plans.) In the end, there were eight kids, plus our two. It was a perfect number of guests.

Sprout dressed in her mermaid attire. We brought out some blocks and Magantiles so that there was something for the kids to do while we waited for everyone to arrive. When everyone was here the kids went over to the table to paint and decorate their very own little treasure chests. Sprout surprised me by asking for brown paint and keeping her treasure chest very unadorned. I guess she was going for a realistic look. As kids finished up Jen applied mermaid tattoos and they went back to the living room to play a bit. When everyone was done we distributed popcorn in little paper bags and started up the movie. I was worried it might be a bit long, or a bit scary, but everyone did quite well. A few kids meandered over to our dress up clothes towards the end, but they were quiet and didn't disrupt the others. While the movie played I put "loot" into the treasure chests and moved them over by the front door so the kids could take them home afterwards and we set up the table with cupcakes and fruit. I was up until after midnight making these cupcakes. They weren't particularly complicated, I just didn't time things as well as I should have and was already a bit tired and moving more slowly than I expected. Anyway, they turned out cute. Not mermaid cupcakes, per se, but they definitely fit with the theme. Sprout huffed and puffed (and huffed and puffed) and (eventually) blew out all her candles. Who wants to bet she wished for a unicorn? The kids licked all the icing off the top of their cupcakes and since there were a few minutes to spare and she was SO eager, we let Sprout open her gifts with her friends there. She got lots of art-oriented gifts and plenty of fairy/princess/mermaid/unicorn toys which she was thrilled with.

Parents arrived, the kiddos went home, we got things tidied up pretty efficiently. Her best friend stayed for dinner, which really was the icing on the cake as far as Sprout was concerned. (Pun intended.)

Her actual 5th birthday is just ten days away. I'll need to make more cupcakes as per our Christmas Eve dessert tradition. She'll also get to open her gifts from us then.

I cannot believe this child is going to be five years old.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

December Days

We haven't yet seen snow, but I know that it won't be too long. The weather reports are saying it'll be here by the end of the week. I'm still not quite sure what happened to summer. Needless to say, winter is sneaking up on me.

I'm about 96% over a pretty bad bout of Bronchitis. (How's that for alliteration?) I always say parents shouldn't be allowed to get sick, but the kids had back to back stomach bugs and I got worn down in the week and a bit it took them to both get better. It started out as a cough, which I chalked up to a combination of tired and weather, but got progressively worse, and then worse still while we were away in PA for Thanksgiving. So Monday morning I was off to the doctor and then filling prescriptions for antibiotics. Thank goodness for modern medicine. 

The good thing about being away while sick is that there were lots of other hands around to help out with the kiddos. I got to sleep in late and nap pretty much everyday, which was ah-mazing and definitely wouldn't have happened at home. Sprout decided that she loves Grandma more than she loves me. The Bean decided he wants to live outside. Really, I can't blame either of them. We're so lucky to have this home-away-from-home. Both kids had to be forced into the car when it was time to go. Thank goodness we'll be back over Christmas. Otherwise might have had to leave them there.

The week before the holiday the kids got their report cards and we had Parent/Teacher interviews. Both kids did really well. I'm always trying to read between the lines when we get their report cards and every "usually" or "with reminders" sends up red flags. I embarrassed Jen by bringing a clipboard with their report cards and my notes of things I wanted to follow up on. Both their teachers were very reassuring. The Bean is excelling. His teacher is encouraging us to find additional ways to challenge him, such as doing the Spelling Bee. She seems to be challenging him to do more than the bare minimum and will send him back to add details in his writing, etc. I think she's a good fit for him. He was also awarded the "Super Ace" character award for Empathy the week after reports were sent home. We were proud of him. It's also reassuring to know that while he can be a bit of a bear at home, he seems to behave well at school. Sprout also had a great report. She is coming out of her shell and stepping into more of a leadership role in the classroom. She's very helpful and, they say, is starting to branch out in her friendships (I still think she mostly cares about her best friend). I noticed that she was becoming more interested in reading and put a bunch of sight words up on the wall. This past week she's gone from recognizing one word ("the") to about twenty! I was shocked and also felt a little badly that I wasn't more on top of where she was and what she needed to progress. I'm trying to carve out a little bit of time after school everyday now to read with her and work on phonics. 

What else is new?

We got family photos taken on the weekend. We got a Groupon for a local studio. They don't do the greatest job, but the price is right and it guarantees that we have at least one photo of all of us each year. (We've been going for four years now, I think.) The Bean was being a bit of a goof and his smile isn't what I was hoping for, but it is what it is. We also got a nice one of just the two kids. The kids also visited Santa at the mall. Sprout modified her request for a unicorn, to a request for a horse and a horn. I had told her unicorns weren't real creatures so even Santa wouldn't be able to bring her one, so she has adopted a DIY attitude and is planning on crafting one herself. Tenacious little girl. The Bean hasn't had any stand out request, but asked Santa for the tools and pieces to build a mobile home. Hopefully neither of them is too disappointed on Christmas morning. 

Sprout's fifth birthday party is this weekend. She's having a few friends over, mostly from school. We're decorating treasure chests, watching The Little Mermaid and eating cupcakes. I tried to keep it pretty simple, but still have it be something she enjoyed. I hope it goes as planned! I don't have too much left to do other than buy balloons and make cupcakes. I cannot believe our baby is going to be five. 

Once her birthday has passed it'll be time to start thinking about The Bean's. What a season! I'll try to update again soon.

Monday, November 13, 2017


Somehow the fall has passed me by. Technically I know that's not true, but there are more leaves on the ground than on the trees and we had our first snowfall last week, so never mind what the calendar says,  it feels like winter has started.

With it came our first illnesses of the season. The Bug vomited in bed a week ago Friday and we've been dealing with all sorts of bodily fluids since then, because of course, just about the time she was starting to feel better the school called to let me know The Bean was feeling sick. I'm completely run down. I've been trying to push through it during the days, but by the evenings even talking is taking the wind out of me and sleep is interrupted by coughing fits throughout the night. I just hope I'm doing better by the time it hits Jen, because despite all the oregano oil she's downing every morning, she's probably next.

I think I owe this blog a summer bucket list update, but summer seems so long ago. I will likely just leave it at that we didn't complete our entire list, but we had a good summer. We were outside a lot. We visited family and friends. We swam and hiked and played and read and chilled and ate about a bazillion popsicles. Just what summers should be.

The kids started back to school without any issues. The Bean was so ready for Grade One. His teacher is a little more no-nonsense than last year's, but that's okay for him. He's been happy to be able to do "Kilometer Club" at recess and participate in some of the activities kindergarteners are excluded from. He's been acing his spelling tests every week. With the exception of a girl in his class who seems to enjoy annoying him, he doesn't have any complaints about school. Buggy is also doing well. She seems more confident than she was last year. I worry a little about her academic skills, but I have been reminding myself that had she been born a week later she'd be a grade below where she is. She's funny and clever and very sweet and has a wickedly good memory, she just doesn't read yet. I'm sure she'll get there. It's hard not to compare. Parent/Teacher interviews are on Thursday night. We'll get the official school updates then.

Speaking of the school, I took on the role of School Council Chair this year. There wasn't anyone who wanted to step forward, so I thought since I'm already there so often and pretty involved already it wouldn't be that big of a deal. Silly me. (Though, to be fair, I was a little mislead by the previous chair, who assured me it was only "an hour or two" of work a week. More like and hour or two a day...) Anyway, all that to say my free time has been a lot less free, keeping up on emails, and insurance documents, and fundraising plans, etc. etc. I keep thinking things will  settle down, but I at this point I'm starting to realize that's probably wishful thinking.

So, anyway, here we are. Well past summer. Winter and all the holiday and birthday craziness just around the corner. I'm working on wish lists and party planning, and thinking about what to pack when we go down for Thanksgiving next week and what we'll wear for our annual family photos. Things don't ever seem to slow down. But, sickness aside, everything is good. We have a week of vacation to look forward to. We have an almost-five-year old who is obsessed with unicorns and mermaids, likes conducting science experiments, and still snuggles me every morning, and an almost-seven-year old who loves tech-y gadgets, soccer and is a voracious reader. My wife wakes up at 5:30am every day so she can do professional reading, bikes to work in the most colourful bike gear in all of uptown, and despite me not taking complements well, is incredibly sweet and doting and helpful. I have amazing friends. I'm enjoying tutoring and working over lunches at the school. I've got a few good books stacked on my night table. Life is pretty good right now. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Coming Out

Last night, when I was vegging out, scrolling through FaceBook I came across a few posts about National Coming Out Day. I'm always conflicted when I see these things. Coming out was a process for me. It was not easy. Short story, which I do believe I've shared here before, is that when my mother suspected that I was in a relationship with a woman I was kicked out of the house. I always feel a need to say, "Protect yourself!" when I see what could be construed as across the board encouragement for people to come out and that things "get better."

After some consideration, I decided to make a post. I tried to be very thoughtful in my wording. To acknowledge the support I have received and for which I am beyond thankful (including my mother's --while there will always be some element of hurt and lost trust, we have come a long way and that isn't something I take for granted), while also acknowledging that coming out can be hard and asking for compassion from those who find themselves being "come out" to.

Here is what I wrote:
Coming out can be a very difficult process for so many of us. Speaking to my own experience, it is terrifying to worry how the people who matter most to you will react. Please be kind. Please try to put your fears and prejudices aside and show love to anyone who trusts you enough to come out to you. It may not be easy for you, but I am almost certain that it is harder for them.
My heartfelt gratitude to everyone who has supported me since I came out and who supports me now.

I knew if my mom saw my post she might feel defensive. I hoped that she would take it for what it was --a call for empathy. Support for those who need it. Unfortunately she did not. She wrote a response in which she tried to justify her actions. The two of us have had these conversations. As much as I am ever going to, I understand that her fear came from a place of love. I really have tried to move on. It's been 17 years. She does her best to show support now for myself, Jen and the kids. I wasn't trying to rehash anything. Not trying to make anyone feel guilty.

Anyway, the result is that because of her response I felt the need to further defend/explain myself. To seek reassurances and perspective from friends whose opinions I value. In many ways I think the post was successful in opening some interesting topics up for discussion. But still, it's been an emotional day which was very much NOT the intention.

Trying to navigate feelings that will always be hurt while trying to reassuring the person who hurt them in the first place... it's hard.

So that's what's been up here in the past 24 hours. I realize I need to update on the past three months, and I will try to get there. My brain has been pretty full lately.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Bean is Six and Half!

Today The Bean is six and a half... actually, that's not entirely true. It's been a little over a month since he reached that "milestone" age, but summer equals busy and I'm only just now finding the time to sit down and write his update. Don't worry folks, we'll pay for his therapy.

What an interesting age this is. The Bean certainly isn't a "little kid" anymore, but he's not quite a "big kid" either. While he very much wants to be a part of grown up conversations and have all kinds of independence, he still loves to pretend play with his sister, is afraid of being alone, and loves getting snuggles.

This may sound a bit funny, but he seems to be speaking in a more mature way lately. I think a lot has to do with all the reading he does, because he has been trying out new words and phrases fairly regularly. Sometimes he gets them in the right context, other times not so much. It catches me off guard. I guess it's just not something I really expect. It is pretty neat to see him try to figure out. It also surprises me in that I would definitely hesitate to try out a new word with other people, but he is so willing to take the risk. I'm not sure if that's personality, something that has been fostered, or what.

While he can be shy at times, particularly around new people, overall he is outgoing and confident. He's still on the small side, but rarely hesitates to approach older kids and ask them if he can join in. He wears his heart on his sleeve and you can see his shoulders slump when he is rejected. Occasionally he needs reminders of how it makes him feel to be told he's "too small," but overall he does well with younger kids too. He adores babies.

He LOVES be outside. I think he would live outside if we let him. He and I did a "Nature Nuts" program at the Brickworks over the winter. I didn't think it was very well organized, but he loved getting out on adventures. He hikes, runs, bikes, scoots, skateboards, skates, climbs, swims... The summer has been pretty fabulous for all of that. Second to being active, he probably enjoys reading the most. Okay. Not entirely true. iPad or other tablets might rank as #2, or maybe even #1, but they're almost exclusively reserved for short periods over the weekends. He also really likes TV. But again: his access is limited. He's become a lot more interested in playing games. Uno and Old Maid have been in high rotation this summer. He's very competitive.

We have been so busy over the past few months. The end of the school year was a whirlwind with lessons, and playing at the park after school and visiting friends, but the summer has also been busy. We've taken a break from all scheduled programs, but will likely go back to piano, swimming and gymnastics in the fall. The Bean wants to do everything. Jen and I have talked about putting him in dance or acting, because he seems to enjoy both, but he's been talking more about learning to play drums and basketball. I think our neighbours might find a way of getting us evicted if we bought him a drum set, and we'll see what happens with the basketball...

On top of being active, he's also pretty fearless. He has no reservations about climbing to the top of the tallest trees and jumping from their branches back down to the ground. He loves to go fast. He got to ride go carts for the first time this summer and thought they were pretty much the best thing ever along with the roller coasters he was able to ride on at various amusement parks. I can totally see him getting into some sort of extreme sport.

Health wise he's been good. I'm not sure if I ever mentioned what we found out about his belly issues. The gastroenterologist we've been going to hasn't been super helpful. After reading some research, we decided to take him off Restorolax, and if anything I'd say we've seen a positive improvement both with his digestive issues and with his temperament. We tried to have him tested for Celiac, but it turns out he actually lacks the protein that is used to check for it. Then, again after doing some research, I found out that the vast majority of people who lack this protein are allergic to dairy, which we strongly suspect is The Bean's #1 issue. Anyway, we may have him tested for other allergies, but it's not a huge priority right now as things mostly seem to be under control.

His teeth have been an ongoing issue. He lost his first tooth in the spring, which was pretty exciting with the tooth fairy coming to visit and all. His second tooth fell out shortly after. We were happy that they came out as the new ones were already growing in behind the baby teeth. The top two were wobbly for a while and both fell out, again within days of each other, at the end of the school year. Meanwhile his six year molars erupted and when we went for a dentist appointment last month they were already showing signs of decay. The dentist assured us that we're doing a good job looking after his teeth, but that probably because of deficiencies or an illness during their developmen, he has what appears to be very weak enamel and is prone to cavities. Poor kid. He got his eighth filling shortly after that appointment.

He eats well. He seems to like what he likes, and NOT like what he doesn't like. He isn't super into trying new foods, and often will say "Yuck!" before it's even touched his tongue, only to say after another few seconds that actually he does like it. Lately he's been eating a ton which makes me suspect he's about to have another growth spurt. He would be happy to survive on carbs and ketchup.

He's currently about 44/45 inches tall and about 44/45lbs. We just got him new running shoes for school and they are a size 13. They're just a smidge big, but I'm hoping they will last into the new year. In clothing he's anywhere between a 4 and a 6, but leaning towards the larger sizes. Bottoms are generally smaller so they don't fall off his tiny waist. If he had his way he would be either in underwear or pajamas 24/7.

We've been a bit off of our schedule, but generally speaking he goes to bed between 7:30 and 8:30pm and sleeps to about 6:30-7:30am. There were a few days earlier in the summer that he slept until after 9am. It was amazing!

I'm not really looking forward to getting us all back on a schedule for the start of the school year. The Bean is excited that he is going to be in Grade One. I feel like he's ready. Like I've said before, his reading is amazing. His comprehension is just a little behind his reading abilities, but still far beyond what would be expected at his age. His math abilities are average. Science and Social Sciences are probably average too. Gross motor skills are awesome and fine motor are probably right on track. He's able to reflect on his actions and does a pretty decent job with self-regulation, for the most part. I am slightly concerned about how influenced he can be by others, and hope that he'll behave appropriately (meaning with respect for others and with kindness). He's got a strong personality and is very sweet, but he also wants to fit in with the crowd, make people laugh, and get lots of attention.

A story: Back in April he and Sprout had been out drawing on the sidewalk with chalk. He had spent a long time working on the characters from P.J. Masks and Sprout, not really paying attention, drew over some of his work. He was so upset. He grabbed a white chalk and drew a big square around "his" area and went over to Sprout and said, "Sprout, do not draw in my area!" Later on I told him that I was impressed at how he handled the situation, knowing that he had been pretty upset. To which he says to me, "Self-Regulation, Mama." (He's also been known to coach me into taking a breath when I'm losing my temper with them.) Overall I'd say he's a pretty fantastic brother.

And on that note I am going to wrap this very overdue update up. I'm pretty sure this sweet child will be empathetic when he reads these later on and sees how behind I was. He keeps us on our toes and is such a great kid.

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Sprout is Four and a Half!

Sprout is four and a half!

Fourth Birthday Celebrations

Closer to four and a half

Our baby... well on her way to being five years old! My goodness. 

What to say about her? For one who has only been alive for four and a half years, she is so very much herself. She is affectionate and loyal and independent and quirky.

Western Pennsylvania Girl

Most days Sprout wakes up grumbly. You dare not speak to her. She will lumber over to wherever I am sitting and climb up into my lap for a snuggle. She likes to turn sideways and curl up into a little ball, tucking her head under my chin. She just barely fits. After a few minutes she will allow someone to ask what she would like to eat and prepare her breakfast. Then she's good.

She has been warming up to Jen more and more. She'll occasionally hold her hand when we're out for a walk, or lean up against her during story time. Jen relishes it. I love seeing her being more affectionate with Jen. We both know she loves Jen, but having Sprout admit to it and show it more openly has been a long time coming.

Her brother is her best friend. They get under each other's skin from time to time, but overall they're so good together. Sprout is fiercely loyal towards him. I have a feeling that she's going to grow up always having a few very close friends, rather than a wide social circle. There are several kids in her class that she likes well enough, but only two or three that she really wants to spend any time with outside of school. We were happy to find out that one of her favourite classmates will be with her again next year, as well as a little neighbour that she really likes. I think it'll be a bit of a transition not having her brother there.

The school year finished out pretty well. Her separation anxiety improved somewhat... or I got better with dealing with it. Her report card was very positive. She was described as very helpful and caring. Proud moms over here.

Making playdough for her class

She still tends to prefer make believe play over anything else. Family, school, and doctor/vet are her most favourite games. She has a fantastic imagination and will get completely immersed in her play, even if no one is playing with her. She does like playing with others, and sometimes I feel badly because I don't exactly jump at the chance of pretending to be her baby and I often try to get her into something else --arts and crafts, cooking, or playing outdoors. She is not easily distracted.


She loves performing too. Nothing particularly rehearsed or choreographed, but she'll set up a stage and grab something to use as a microphone and put on a show. She often makes up her own little songs. I adore it. When she is happy she'll sing to herself.

She continues to be very nurturing. She loves animals. When we're out she will, without fail, stop people and ask to pet their dogs. She approaches them so gently. I swear she connects with them on another level. She also loves babies. Her Christmas wishes (we start planning early over here) are for 200 babies and a real live unicorn.

Her motor skills are coming along. She's definitely much more interested in writing now than ever before. She likes to make notes for her friends, write grocery lists, draw pictures. She knows how to print most of her letters, but will still ask for confirmation. ("How many bumps does a B have, Mama?") She's become much more coordinated in her gross motor skills and more confident too. She runs, skips, gallops and dances... climbs, swings and spins. She seems to enjoy her gymnastics classes and is a little fish in the swimming pool. She made huge progress with skating over the winter as well. Dance class was a bit of a bust, but not because she couldn't do it, she just wasn't into being there and often dug those heels in once it came time to participate.

She can be very stubborn. Another example came to a battle of the wills with her clothing choices. She went through a long phase this winter of not wanting to wear anything that matched. It drove me a bit bonkers. Fortunately she seems to be back on the matching bandwagon now.

She also went through a phase of unique hairdo requests

She is most definitely part squirrel. She hides things all over the place. She loves things that are tiny. She also loves things that are shiny and sparkly. So maybe she is part magpie too? She's definitely way more into princesses than I would have imagined a child of mine would be. But, thinking back, I also loved princesses and sparkly things when I was four.

We've seen a lot of progress with her articulation. There are still sounds that she is working on... "sh" and "r" aren't quite there. I'm still a bit concerned, but it is reassuring to know that her classmates and teachers didn't seem to have difficulty understanding what she was saying. She is pretty chatty and her vocabulary continues to grow. I find it especially cute when she answers questions with words like "actually..." or throws in an "in particular..." She picked up a lot of little phrases from her ECE this year. (Some more appropriate than others... "For the love of God" was among them!)

End of year primary music concert

She's been asking me to teacher her how to read quite often lately. She still loves to look at books, but will go more for books she's been read many times than ones she is less familiar with. If we leave out parts when we are reading to her, she will correct us. I think I'll work with her on it over the summer. I'm pretty sure she'll be able to pick up CVC words and some simple sight words. I really did not push it at all this year, and wouldn't, but she is asking so I will try.

She is a pretty good eater. She will almost always take a lick of something unfamiliar and more often than not will go on to eat it. She is, however, a painfully slow eater. It's not necessarily that she dawdles, she just really, really takes her time.

I almost dare not mention it, but her sleep is finally good. Lights out is between 7:30 and 8:00pm. She sometimes has a hard time settling, but once she is asleep she has pretty much sleeping in her own bed through the entire night. Hurray! If she's tossing and turning she will ask for me to come and cuddle her. Lying quietly with an arm around her usually helps. She rarely wakes in the night, but sometimes her brother wakes her up. She likes to "sleep in" in the morning, and usually is up between 7:00 and 8:00am.

This bug. She's quite a character. As I said, so very much herself and we're getting to see that develop more and more. It's a wonder and a privilege. I just love her.