Monday, July 25, 2016

The Bean is Five and a Half!

The Bean is five and a half!



Craziness I tell you. I can remember holding our teeny tiny little baby like it was yesterday. Perhaps that's because we've been retelling his birth story almost daily, but more likely it is because time really does fly with these not-so-little-anymore ones.





And while he has changed, he really is very much the same kid he's always been.



The second half of the school year went quite well. He became quite good buddies with two of the boys in his class, and developed some other more peripheral friendships. While "the three musketeers" may not have always been the greatest influence on each other, they did seem to really like each other and The Bean was much happier overall. They seemed to play a lot of superheros and StarWars. The Bean knows very little about either one, but talks about both a lot. Ha ha!



Academically he did very well this year. He still needs to work on self-regulation a bit, but overall his report card was glowing. He's a great helper and very caring towards others. His literacy, math, science, music, art, media and phys. ed. skills are all wonderful. My biggest concern for the second part of the year was that he wasn't challenged enough based on what I know he is capable of. Inquiry in the kindergarten classroom is student-driven, which I like, but I felt like he didn't walk away from the units with a lot of new knowledge or understanding. Fortunately I have a pretty good relationship with his teacher (who he will have again next year) so I think I'll just have to stay more on top of knowing what it is they're studying and reinforcing it at home.

That said, a few of his newer interests seem to have stemmed from things they were exploring at school --space and dinosaurs being the two standouts. There have been lots of solar systems and t-rexes drawn lately.



He's still super-social. I'm convinced that he knows 90% of the staff and students (and their parents!) at his school based on the greetings he both calls out and receives when walking through the school hallways. I've had more than a handful of teachers stop me to talk about how much they adore him. He also keeps up with the comings and goings of the neighbourhood, shouting out hellos to people on their way to work from our balcony most mornings.

We've seen him pushing the limits a little bit with his behaviour. I think a lot of what we're seeing is stemming from his desire to be more independent, but he's not necessarily ready for all the independence he (thinks he) wants. I've been pretty strict now that he's home for the summer and I think he's starting to understand that he needs to stay within our boundaries.



That said, he's mostly really cooperative and has become such a great helper and very independent in his day-to-day routines. He rarely complains about being asked to help tidy up. He has started doing little chores, like clearing his plate after a meal, without reminders. He wakes up, brushes his teeth and gets dressed, and heads into the kitchen for breakfast without being asked. We give him lots of acknowledgement and praise for being so helpful.



He continues to be a very loving, affectionate kid. It's not uncommon for him to say "I love you" or give you a big hug or kiss for no reason.











To describe The Bean as active would be an understatement. I think if he had his choice, he would be moving all the time. He is very interested in sports. He continued Gymnastics throughout the winter and spring, and as I know I've said before his body control is amazing. We've noticed that he's gotten stronger too. In the spring he also did swimming lessons and progressed from Preschool Swim 1 to Preschool Swim 2, which means he was able do things like jump into the water and bob back up, do assisted floats, glides, and kicks. He's still not a swimmer, but he's definitely more comfortable in the water than he was. I'm hoping he'll be able to continue in the fall. He also started skateboarding lessons with a teenager from down the street. It's only half and hour once a week and pretty casual at that, but he loves it. The guy teaching him is very calm and cool --a good influence, I think. Of course, he also still bike rides, scooters, climbs (EVERYTHING!), runs, jumps, etc.

He had his first ER visit this past Mothers' Day. He was, apparently, trying to use his pillow as a bobsled and overshot a little, landing on the wooden floor with his chin. It split right open and required four stitches. He was pretty stoic during the whole ordeal. (Which is how I would expect him to handle something like this. It's just his way.) He was pretty proud to show the stitches off at school and it really didn't slow him down any.





He's definitely become much more interested in fine motor skills like building, art and writing. He's into constructing things whether it be from Duplo or recyclables. He often wants to make signs or write notes. He's quite good at sounding out words, but usually asks for help. He likes to make things to send people in the mail.



Singing is another newer interest. He's always loved music, and learned a ton of new songs at school this year. He took the end of year performance very seriously. They sang three songs -Somewhere Over the Rainbow, Tomorrow, and Talk to the Animals. I was impressed that he was able to remember all of the words and carry a tune. He's got quite a sweet little singing voice.

He's also become much more interested in playing games. We have several; his favourites seem to be Go Fish, memory match, mancala, this one called Camelot Jr., and Jenga. He loves to play on the tablet and phone, but that's a treat reserved for weekends.



In all things, he still shows a tendency towards perfectionism and competitiveness. He wants to be able to do most things perfectly the first time, and we've been talking a lot about the need to practice and how it's okay not to be "the best" at everything. He was quite frustrated when he asked to take the training wheels off his bicycle, but then kept tipping over. We ended up putting them back on.

Food wise things are going well. He's started eating a much wider variety of foods. Even if something is not "his favourite" he knows he has to try it, and he usually eats it without complaining. Often he even remarks on how good something tastes and almost always says thank you for making dinner. It's so nice to be able to prepare one meal at dinner time rather than trying to make different things to accommodate everybody. He's still completely off dairy.

He weighs just over 37lbs. I'm not sure how tall he is, but he's typically wearing size 4 and 5 shirts and size 4 pants. (He can get away with smaller sizes in shorts. He's still a skinny mini.) Shoe size is a 10. Like with Sprout, I had his feet measured and found out I had been putting him in shoes that were much too small. Oops.





His sleep is pretty good. He recently went through a bit of a bed-wetting spell, but we started taking him to the washroom when we went to bed and that seems to have helped quite a bit. He occasionally has nightmares and will call out or cry for us to come and comfort him. Mostly though he falls asleep quickly at bedtime (7:30/8:00pm) and wakes up at a fairly reasonable time in the morning (6:00/7:00am).

He's a pretty terrific kid. I feel like we're on this cusp between him being a little kid and being a big kid, so I'm trying to make an effort to appreciate where he is right now. We love him so much!

---
Also,
-his favourite colour is red
-his "uniform" (according to him) is sweat pants/shorts and a superhero t-shirt

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Sprout is Three and Half!

Sprout is three and a half!


This kid! And surely she is a kid now, and no longer a baby or even a toddler. She is a sweet, silly, stubborn little thing. She knows precisely what she wants and is quite adept at getting her way whether it be through sweet-talking or digging in her heels.



She can be reluctant in new situations, but more often hangs back and watches for a few minutes and then jumps right into the action. She likes the reassurance of having one of her "grown ups" around, but has done really well with her drop off music class (if not ballet), and will interact with other kids at the park, so I'm not too concerned about how she'll fare in kindergarten this fall.



Thankfully her attitude towards kindergarten has changed in the past few months. She used to say that she wanted to stay with me, but now is says she's excited about kindergarten. We know some siblings of friends who will also be going into JK at our school next year and have also met another little girl (with two moms!) in the neighbourhood. We got an "unofficial" confirmation that she'll be in The Bean's class in the fall (they combine JK and SK here) and that they will both have the same teacher he has this year. We're not very familiar with the other kindergarten teacher, but we like The Bean's teacher and are very happy with this news.



She's a chatterbox. She can still be a bit hard to understand, but I feel like her speech is getting slightly clearer. She's definitely forming longer and more complex sentences with a degree of thoughtfulness behind them that sometimes surprises me. She asks fantastic questions.



She's also really funny. A few recent things that made me laugh:
-A stranger on the subway told her she was cute, to which she replied, "Did you know that I am cute AND I am funny?"
-We explained to her that we couldn't keep any of the feral kittens because Jen is very allergic. Sprout relayed this to a neighbour saying, "Mommy can't eat cats. She's allergic."
-She was making mud pies and told me they were gluten and dairy free, so she could share them with Mommy and The Bean.



She's super into princesses and much of the stereotypical "girly" stuff. More than princesses though, her free play tends to gravitate towards pretending to be a doctor or a veterinarian, which is very in-keeping with her character. She is such a nurturer. She is amazingly sweet with animals. (Though she's quite scared of bugs and crawly things.) She has taken to nursing us when we've hurt ourselves, running to get a wet wipe (a cure-all in her mind) and Band-Aids (of course).




She's also quite affectionate, particularly with me. She loves sitting on laps and snuggling. I have a feeling that when she does stop nursing (which is still happening before bed most nights) that it will be replaced by snuggling time. The other night she asked me to lie down with her and I said I couldn't, so she said, "It's okay, Mama. Later when you are sleeping I will just come quietly into your room and snuggle into bed with you." It made me laugh, because it is exactly what she does. I'm a light sleeper and usually wake up during the night, often to find her snuggled up against me. Unfortunately she's a bit of a bed hog, which means I often go to sleep in her bed, but if she wakes up she'll come back over and crawl into bed with me again. It's ridiculous. But it's also kind of sweet.

She can be quite stubborn, but fortunately has stopped with the hitting, which was happening a little bit back towards her birthday. Getting her to eat her dinner has become a bit of a battle, and the other night she asserted, "I am only going to say this one more time: I am not eating my broccoli!" (Or whatever the vegetable was.) Jen and I were fighting back the laughter. Overall she's usually good-natured, but when she's tired she can be a bit of a beast. She's given up naps in the past few months, so late afternoons and evenings can be trying. Thankfully, getting her down at bedtime has become much easier. For a little while she was falling asleep nursing, now she doesn't, and she often fights sleep, but it's no where near as bad as it was before when she was up until 10 and 11 at night.

Overall she's a good eater. She definitely likes her sweets, but they're pretty limited. Her breakfast of choice these days is an English muffin and a yogurt drink, her favourite lunch is probably quiche or baked beans with some pears on the side, and dinner would be chicken fingers, rice and some sort of veggie. She looooves milk, but we make her drink water 95% of the time. Juice is reserved for special occasions.



Her gross motor skills are slowly, but surely improving. She's started taking more risks on playground equipment, such as going across the tires without someone there spotting her. She's getting quite good on her scooter and has recently figured out pedaling on her tricycle... a bicycle may be in her future (foruth birthday present, perhaps). She ended up quitting ballet as it wasn't quite what she wanted from the class ("It's not REAL ballet.") but did really well with swimming. She loves being in the water. I hope we're able to get to the pool often over the summer and that they get back into swimming classes in the fall.













Her fine motor skills are decent. She still hasn't figured out writing, and I'll have to work on her writing her name over the summer, but she still enjoys drawing, painting, beading, etc. She likes to help pour and stir when I bake. She doesn't seem to have a strong hand preference, which may be making things a little more difficult for her in terms of developing better control. I think she'll end up being a righty who uses her left hand for certain things.









Jumping back to activities --she did a program at a local farm this winter and really liked the animal portions, in particular. Now when we go visit the farm she doesn't understand why she can't pet the animals like she was able to during her classes. Over the spring we went back to our outdoor ed. program, this time as volunteers. I didn't think it was run quite as well as it was in the fall, but we still both enjoyed it. She just finished up her music classes which she's been doing since January and was fantastic with. She went with my cousin's son, which I think was nice for both of them. She often sings the songs she's learned in it, along with many other little songs she knows or makes up. She sings about everything.

She still has the same group of friends and favourite people. She also has become quite attached to a little girl from the nature program. We're going to try to continue to meet up over the summer. Hopefully it works out.





She's continuing to grow and is now solidly in 3T clothing, but moving into 4t, which just boggles my mind as I'm so used to having a small-for-their-age child. I recently found out I've been putting both kids in shoes that are WAY too small for them, so she's now wearing size 10. As I posted about before, she cut off all her long hair and how has a cute bob. I was surprised that she kept asking for a haircut, but she doesn't seem to have any regrets whatsoever, so I guess she was pretty sure of herself.



She's in diapers at night still and wakes up dry maybe 30-50% of the time. Still not enough for us to chance it. Bedtime is usually between 7 and 8pm (usually on the later side, rather than the earlier) and she wakes up between 6 and 7am most days, though lately it's been closer to 8am, so maybe she's going through a growth spurt or something.



It doesn't seem like she's going to slow down. This girl, she keeps us on our toes! We love her though.

---
Edited to add these two post-haircut photos.



Thursday, June 23, 2016

Summer Bucket List 2016

SUMMER! 

This spring went by in a whirlwind.  Fortunately I finished (and passed!) the course I've been taking, celebrated my 36th birthday, and am now finally able to think about the next few months.  

The Bean finishes school in less than one week and then we are pretty much wide open for two months. Well, sort of wide open; even though we really haven't made a ton of plans, the summer days seem to be filling up quickly. 

I think it's time for a Summer Bucket List...

The Two Moms to Be Summer Bucket List for 2016
1. Have a picnic on the front lawn. Bonus points for having friends join us.
2. Paint rocks.
3. Pick berries.
4. Grow vegetables in our front yard garden.
5. Plan a blogger meet-up.
6. Get the finishing touches on the kids' room done. 
7. Ride a roller coaster.
8. Brew sun tea using herbs we've grown.
9. Celebrate love.
10. Go to the Farmer's Market.
11. Meet up with friends. Often.
12. Collect shells at the beach.
13. Borrow books from the library.
14. Be tourists in our own city.
15. Camp in Grandma and Grandpa's backyard --don't forget the s'mores!
16. Listen to live music.
17. Take a family vacation.
18. Find some new splash pads to play at.
19. Go on at least two kid-free date nights with my wife.
20. Bake a peach pie. 
21. Donate toys, books and clothes that we're no longer using. 
22. Go to the zoo.
23. Ride our bikes --try to get the Bean riding a two-wheeler with no training wheels.
24. Visit a new-to-us skateboarding park.

Apparently I have a lot of ideas on how to fill those summer days! I think we'll be busy, but have a lot of fun. 


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Hair Cut

Today I did the unthinkable. I cut our daughter's long, gorgeous hair. I was totally cool about it in the moment, but I'm now feeling like I need a stiff drink. I'm sure to some people that sounds ridiculous --I'm sure I would have thought it sounded ridiculous three years ago-- but her hair. It really is a defining feature. 


Which is, in part, why I was compliant in cutting it off.

Sprout has, in the past, expressed interest in cutting her hair. She usually takes it back when pressed though. I'm not sure what prompted this, but for the past few days she's been saying she wants short hair like her brother's. At just a few days shy of three and a half, I think she understands that the request to have short hair means she will have short hair for a while. And just in case she didn't, I may have told her a few (dozen) times. I explained that I don't know how to do really short haircuts, but that I could cut her hair shorter. She confidently marched into the bathroom and climbed into the tub --our hair-cutting location. (She's had a few previous trims in the tub.)

I think it's important to listen to what kids tell us. I also think it's important to give them some control in their lives. This haircut is about her appearance. It's not a permanent thing. It's not dangerous or unhygienic. She's entitled to a say.

Beyond that, I've had a bit of a concern for a while now that her hair was becoming the feature that defined her not to others, but that it was also becoming a key element of the way she saw herself. I didn't love that something about her appearance was such a big focus; so when she said she wanted it cut I thought, Maybe this is a good thing. 


Still, hearing the scissors in my hand snip off eight inches of her hair wasn't easy for me. I know it will grow back (if she wants to grow it back) but really once I started cutting, it couldn't be undone.

Funny, this attachment I feel to her hair.


So far, she seems totally confident in her decision. I did get chastised for not cutting it short enough, but when Jen asked her at dinner what she thought of her haircut, she bluntly responded, "Good." No hint of regret.


And let's face it, it's going to be way easier to manage now. Washing it will be a breeze. It'll take just seconds to brush through in the mornings. I'm sure it won't keep it out of her eyes, but I'm not sure anything would. I have to say, I think her new hair cut will grow on me. ;)


***
We plan to donate Sprout's hair to Pantene's Beautiful Lengths which creates real-hair wigs for women who have lost their hair due to cancer treatment.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

April

Well, when did that happen? The days have been passing so quickly lately. We've all been keeping busy with programs (the kids), courses (me! What was I thinking?), work (Jen), and just life (all of us), but the days are slowly getting warmer and the sun is out and things are pretty good.

Honestly, I barely know what to say, it's been so long since I've been in this space.

Sprout has given up naps completely. She still does a "quiet time" in her room. Some days that goes better than others. She's been managing to hold herself together emotionally in the afternoon for the most part and crashing pretty hard at bedtime, which is a nice change. Her schedule is busy with Music on Mondays, Nature Camp on Tuesdays, Swimming on Wednesdays and Ballet on Saturdays, but it actually doesn't feel like too much. All but the Nature Camp are short drop off programs, so she's getting used to spending some time away from Mama, which is a good thing. She isn't very enthusiastic about starting school in the fall, but I'm hoping they'll place her and The Bean in the same class (with his current teacher) and that that will help with the transition.

The Bean is doing pretty well. He won't usually complain about going to school, but I know he rather be home most days. He did spoken to by his teacher the other week for getting carried away with his two best buddies, so now he's playing with some other kids, which isn't really a bad thing. I don't think he's being very challenged at school, so we've started doing a little bit of "homework" in the evenings. He seems to like it. At least for now. He's also taking Swimming on Wednesdays and keeping up with Gymnastic on Sundays and just last week started Skateboarding lessons with a young teenager from down the street which is is SUPER EXCITED about. He's such an athletic/agile kid. It's really quite incredible.

As for myself, I started some career counselling, but have kind of dropped the ball on it. It wasn't exactly what I was hoping for and the counselor isn't at all familiar with my field. Still, I know I should follow up... I also started taking a course which is keeping me pretty busy most evenings. It's a bit frustrating, because though not a requirement, most of the assignments seem to be written for teachers who are currently in a classroom. I addressed this with my prof, and her response was basically just to make shit up. Super useful. At least at the end of it I will have my Specialist qualifications (which may or may not help me in future job searching). Sunday I start a tutoring job for a little boy. It's only an hour or two a week, but at least it's something. I'm a little nervous about it and hope that he makes progress while I'm working with him.

Jen's doing well at her job. She seems really happy there and any doubts about her leaving the other place are long gone. After taking a bit of a hiatus over the winter she's also back to commuting on her bike, which is a good thing for her as she really seems to enjoy the physical activity. (Much like our son.)

Two weeks ago Jen and I took a weekend trip to Boston for our friends' wedding. We're both very happy that our long-time friend has found a wonderful person to be her partner. Their wedding was very nice with delicious food and lots to drink. We also got to see some friends of theirs that we're friendly with and it was nice to catch up with familliar faces. AND we got to meet some long-time blog friends in real life which was also very cool.  (Hi R! Hi S!)

And... a photo dump?  Because it's been forever? And a picture is worth a thousand words?  Well, why not...

FEBRUARY
Goofball.
Sweetheart.
My other sweetie.
Indoor snow play.
Playing dolls.
Hockey. He isn't happy that we won't sign him up for lessons. 
Creating.
Pirate.
Baker.
Princess. (Always.)

MARCH
Play "shoe store."
Skateboarder.
Rock climbers.
Tree climber. (Fearless!)
Nature lover.
Bookworm.
Bunk beds!
More bunk bed fun.
 APRIL
Botanical Gardens.
The four musketeers.
Ballerina.
At the Zoo.
Sprinkler in April.
Artist.