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.