juthwara: (Chu)
Hey look, I blinked and the summer is gone. The older kids had a fantastic time at camp. We took our annual two-week summer trip to Michigan, spending time with both of our families and seeing friends in Indiana and Ohio on the way.

And now it's time for school again. Katherine was not entirely resigned to starting school again:

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Alec, on the other hand was entirely ready to rock kindergarten:

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The dress code was changed this year from navy blue polo and khaki bottoms to any color collared shirt and long pants or skirt.* It is, however, entirely silent on the subject of monkey hats.


*which I didn't find out about until after I ordered 15 navy blue polo shirts and 6 pairs of khaki pants. Sigh. Fortunately, you can return website orders from Target to the store, so I returned 75 percent of them and bought some other colors, which makes Katherine very very happy.

Five

Jun. 30th, 2014 01:03 am
juthwara: (Chu)
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Last Monday, Alec turned five. He also started his first day at Big Kid camp, attending day camp with Katherine for the first time, five days a week. In the past month, he has also had his last day of preschool ever, because he starts kindergarten in the fall. My little boy is getting so big!

Very big, actually. He's 45 inches tall and 43 pounds, which is the 90th percentile for height and 75th for weight. He's always been a very solid kid, and he's starting to thin out and get a bit more willowy.

Currently, he loves Legoes and playing Lego-related computer games. He can spend hours playing with Play-doh. He has started enacting elaborate conversations between toy figures (or the other day, puzzle pieces). He's starting to read short words and do basic addition. I predict great things for him next year in kindergarten.

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juthwara: (Chu)
It was... not a great parenting day. More like the kind of day that makes you wonder if Medea had the right idea. But it was pretty amusing when Alec was wailing as I carried him into preschool that he didn't want to go to this school because "It has too many windows!"

He's in a phase lately where if he doesn't like something but can't verbal why, he grabs onto the first trait he can see. Recently, he was insisting he didn't like the Spiderman shirt I bought him because "It's too stripy and fluffy."

***

Exercise: 20 minutes on exercise bike
juthwara: (Chu)
This evening, I was making Alec take a few bites of dinner before being excused. He had taken three bites, and I asked him to take two more, then asked him if he had taken three bites and then took two more, how many would he have taken? He took a bite, then said, "Five."

He was evaluated for a speech delay earlier this year and the evaluation report came back reporting fairly limited math skills for his age. I'm thinking they were a bit off on that.

****

At James's two-year appointment, he weighed in at 24 pounds, 3 ounces. That's no weight gain at all from his previous doctor's appointment six weeks earlier (when we took him in after he had been throwing up for two weeks straight, so you would think once the vomiting stopped, he would put some weight back on). And it's around the 5th percentile for weight, when he's over 50th percentile for height. This is somewhat worrisome.

Now mind you, I don't think he's ever managed to crack the 35 percentile for weight, but a drop in weight gain curve from the 30th to 5th percentile is still not something you want to see. It could be quite likely he just takes after his father, who was six feet tall and 140 pounds when we met, and could be legitimately accused of being able to disappear by turning sideways. But meanwhile, we're working hard on getting more fattening foods into him.

I had thought we were doing pretty well on that front. But as it turns out, while we were giving him lots of fat and protein, closer attention to what he actually eats revealed that our toddler is attempting to turn himself into an herbivore. All of the nice fattening cheese or sunflower butter sandwiches in the world won't matter if he plows his way through a plate of apple slices first.

It seems silly to complain that my child likes fruits and vegetables too much, but he really does need fat and protein to grow properly too. I didn't realize the extent of the problem until the other day when he threw a cheese stick on the ground and came over to me to beg for lettuce.

Good lord child, that's just weird.

Anyway, I'm giving him less plant matter so he can't fill up on that and making a bigger effort to get him to drink milk. I haven't pushed cow's milk much because he's not incredibly fond of it and if he doesn't drink enough liquid, he comes to me to make up for it. I've partially solved that by adding hot chocolate powder to his morning milk, which both make it more appealing and adds calories. I've started giving him cheese sticks as a default snack and putting cream cheese on his morning toast. And there's always direct injections of lard. We'll fatten up our little piggy yet.

***

Exercise: twenty minutes on exercise bike, 11000 steps per pedometer (thank you James, for deciding to do laps around the bookstore this evening)
juthwara: (Chu)
Given my rate of posting over the past year, it seems foolish to attempt NaBloPoMo this year. And yet I truly want to post more, so I'm going to try it anyway.

I've actually been meaning to post for most of the past week, but instead, I've been working on Katherine's Halloween costume:

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She's a musketeer. I'm a little conflicted about it, because she got the idea from a movie she watched. Afterward, she was asking me about historical Musketeers, practicing her fencing and even told me she thought she was over princesses. Great, right? The problem is that the movie was Barbie and the Three Musketeers, and she may be over princesses, but now she's into Barbie. Something of a lateral move, I think.

Anyway, I'm absurdly proud of the costume, because the long skirt is detachable and can be turned into a cloak, while there's a short skirt underneath more suitable for swashbuckling. Here's a very bad picture of it:

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With the amount of work that went into Katherine's costume, I didn't have it in me to do any other sewing, so the boys got store-bought costumes. James was an elephant:

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James currently has a passionate love affair with elephants, and aside from dogs which bark properly, all animals trumpet like an elephant as far as he's concerned. Meanwhile, Alec loves clothes with monkeys on them, so his costume was a natural fit:

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And now I'm going to save the rest of my words for tomorrow, when November begins. More anon.

Schooled

Sep. 14th, 2013 01:45 am
juthwara: (Chu)
School started for Katherine last Tuesday. Nearly two weeks in, things are going very well. Katherine really likes her school and her teacher and she's made a couple friends. She has another uti, and her teacher is taking the issues that come with that in stride. Better yet, while in the dropoff line last week, her assistant principal told me how well she was doing and how loveable she is. Hearing that your kid's school really likes her is a major plus.

And she has art, music and gym, plus her teacher is teaching them yoga, none of which she would be getting at her local school. I feel very conflicted about the fact that by sending her to a charter school, we're actively taking money away from the school district that's so desperately in debt. But I don't think anyone who's paid any attention to the national headlines on the condition of the Philadelphia School District would argue that we should be sending our child there if we can find an alternative. At this point, there's so little staff to provide even basic supervision that even the schools that had a low violence rate aren't safe.

***

Last week, at the end of the excruciating two week break between the end of Alec's summer preschool and the beginning of fall preschool, I told Alec we were going to preschool the next day to see his new classroom. In the past, he's been reluctant to leave for preschool, although he always happily runs in once he's at his classroom. But that day, he cheered and insisted we needed to pack his lunch and his backpack. So he put two pieces of bread, a cut up cheese stick and a juice box in his lunch box, grabbed his backpack and insisted on putting them in the car, no matter how many times I told him we were just going to pick his father up from work. I was amused but pleased at this new enthusiasm.

The next day, we dropped Katherine off at school, I told him we were going to preschool and the chorus of "I don't want to go to school" began. It only got louder as we arrived and I had to practically drag him inside, mentally cursing my premature optimism, until he finally collapsed on the hallway floor and finally managed to get out "I WANT MY BACKPACK!"

Oh. Well, we could do that. We went back out to the car, he put on his backpack and grabbed his lunchbox and practically ran into his classroom, ready to stay for the day.

He had his first full day in the four-year-olds room on Tuesday. Wednesday morning, he got dressed, packed his lunch, put on his coat and backpack and appeared in my bedroom, announcing he was ready for school. Sadly, he only goes to preschool Tuesdays and Thursdays. I think he's having a good time.

Sad panda

Nov. 6th, 2012 12:49 am
juthwara: (Chu)
Poor Alec was quite a sad panda today. He's been snotty and coughing for a couple days, but seemed perfectly chipper until this morning, when he actually asked me to put him down for a nap. He was clearly exhausted but having trouble staying asleep, so I finally bribed him to stay in bed with the Nook, on which he can watch Netflix and will sometimes get him to lie still long enough for sleep to catch up with him when he's fighting a nap particularly hard.

But then he came downstairs crying that his face hurt. I looked at him and saw how his eyes were red-rimmed and had dark shadows under them and took him to the doctor. And it was a darn good thing we managed to get that last-minute late afternoon appointment, because the doctor took one look in his ears and said it was no wonder he was miserable, since they're both infected. Poor little guy.

I'm trying to decide if three doses of antibiotic is enough for him to be able to go to preschool tomorrow. He perked up quite a bit with some ibuprofen, but was still clearly under the weather this evening. I guess we'll see how he is in the morning. I don't want to send him to school sick, but it's going to be a pain and a half to have to take him when I vote tomorrow.
juthwara: (Default)
I've been using some of my lovely, lovely free time to do some planning for school next year. I came to the conclusion a while ago that while we like Five in a Row, it takes a huge amount of prep work that I just don't have time or energy for this year. I'm not planning on giving it up, but we'll row less often and focus more on canned curriculum that doesn't require much more than opening the book and doing the day's assignment. I feel like second grade needs a bit more structure as well, which will be easier to do with more of a focus on daily assignments.

So, the plan so far:

Language arts: Daily reading, Reading Eggs, Writing With Ease volume 1, something for spelling (All About Spelling and Spelling Power have both been recommended to me)
Math: MEP 2A and 2B, plus some computer games to help cement basic math facts
History: Story of the World volume 1. I intend to start the year with some prehistory, along with a unit on dinosaurs for science, then move into SOTW. K has a lot of questions lately that would be addressed by covering the Big Bang and the concept of evolution, we'll start there and progress up to humans before getting into recorded history. I also intend to do some heavy supplementing and maybe take some time out periodically for American History, since SOTW volume 1 is all ancient history.
Science: This is the area I don't have plans to use a specific curriculum for. I think we'll spend another year following K's interests. If they tend heavily in one particular scientific discipline, I might look into a curriculum, but otherwise I think it's better to take a broad approach.
Geography/Social Studies: This will partially be covered along with history. We will probably include this mostly with any Five in a Row books we do.
Art/Music: This is the exciting part - there's a homeschooling enrichment center opening right near us! So based on the sampling of classes they had this summer, we'll be able to get Katherine into some good art classes (and possibly something music based, but so far she steadfastly refuses to take a music class). She's also starting ballet this fall.

I've been thinking a lot about what to do with Alec as well. He's doing preschool two days a week, but that leaves three where he needs to be occupied. I don't think three-year-olds should be pressured into academics, but he's really interested in letters and numbers, so it would be nice to find some "school" things to occupy him while I'm teaching Katherine, and also some stuff to do with him while she's on the computer. There are computer games at the library that can occupy him quite a while that he can do himself, so I'm looking for more computer games that preschoolers can do independently. Puzzles can keep him occupied for quite a while, so periodically getting some new ones should help. Beyond that, reading together and books that help him practice the alphabet and counting should make him happy while Katherine is working independently.

I can't quite believe the end of the summer is so close. We need to come to some decisions about our long-term schooling plans, but for now, we have the makings of a fun year.

Three

Jul. 1st, 2012 11:23 pm
juthwara: (Default)
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A week ago Saturday, Alec turned three years old. A week or so before that, we gritted our teeth and finally cut off the mop of curls, and just like that, my baby was gone and this little boy was standing there.

I won't know his actual measurements until tomorrow, but he's the size of most of the four-year-olds we meet. His language has suddenly exploded in the last two months, and now I hear about dino rexes and monkeys all day long. He knows most of his letters, can count to twenty and makes a mean Lego tower.

He's my big boy. And he's so very, very three. Happy Birthday, sweetheart.

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juthwara: (Default)
I've been mentally composing blog posts for the past two weeks, but never quite getting to it because of the many things in my life conspiring to prevent me from typing. In no particular order:

* Alec has been out of preschool for the past two weeks. We had known about last week, because his preschool year ended a week before his summer program starts. However, he wasn't able to go to his last week of preschool, for absolutely infuriating reasons. For the past couple months, he's had molluscum, an utterly harmless virus that causes painless bumps on your skin. There's no real treatment for it, except for unpleasant sounding things like freezing or scraping the spots, or medications that may or may not work after a few weeks. So unless there's a problem, you just wait it out. It's really common, and as I said, he's had it for a couple months. Unfortunately for us, it's on his face, and the preschool called us concerned about a couple of the spots the next-to-last week of preschool. We humored them and took him to the doctor (K had it in preschool as well, so we recognized it right away), who wrote us a note saying that it was harmless and there was no reason he couldn't attend school. But the preschool director saw that it was contagious and refused to let him attend, even after talking to our doctor on the phone. I would like to take this opportunity to point out that he almost certainly caught the virus at preschool, but as far as I know, there was no effort made to inspect any of his classmates to see if they needed to be sent home because they had this terrible virus. Just Alec, because he was unlucky enough to get the spots someplace visible.

So we need to find a new preschool for next fall, because aside from being nail-spitting mad, molluscum can last for months and it's entirely possible he'll still have it in September. I'm hoping that the drive to his summer program won't be too bad and we'll be able to send him there in the fall. It would have the advantage of removing the time pressure of getting him potty trained before the fall.

Meanwhile, he's been home for two weeks, and he's developing an advanced case of Three, mostly in the form of finding it funny to defy us. Summer camp starts next week and it can't come soon enough.

* I'm still working on the stupid homeschooling portfolio. It's turned out to be more complicated than I expected, because I stupidly didn't read the stupid guidelines closely enough and discovered that while I had been keeping a stupid book log, it was supposed to be a dated stupid book log. I feel dumb now. And I've been a bit busy fudging reconstructing the stupid book log.

We're meeting with the evaluator on Monday, so I have to have it done by then. I should, in fact, be working on it now.

* I'm beginning to suspect that James has reflux. It took a while, because he hasn't been doing the classic arch away during eating, although he's starting to get fussier during feeds. Instead, he's falling in a pattern of eat for half an hour, fall asleep and sleep for 10 minutes, wake up when the acid makes it too painful and want to eat again to soothe the pain. Repeat on endless loop throughout the day. I can usually get one longer nap in the middle of the day where he can be put down, and he's getting pretty consistent with an 8 hour stretch at night, which is saving my sanity. But other than that, it's me pinned to the couch all day long, feeding him endlessly and I find it difficult to type around him. I know he's getting plenty of milk, because he does an excellent Vesuvius impression (in addition to the copious emissions from the other end). Meanwhile, I'm going slowly crazy sitting trapped in one place while my two older children engage in spirited attempts to kill each other. He's getting fussy enough that I feel justified in calling the doctor on Monday instead of waiting until his next appointment, nearly two weeks away. I might develop bedsores if we wait that long.

* This isn't actually preventing me from typing, but it's weighing on my mind: shortly after getting home from the hospital, I got a call from my mother's main health aide saying she was in the hospital after a period of atrial fibrillation. As it turned out, one of the smaller arteries going to her heart was 80 percent blocked, and she was placed on medication to break it up. But she's been very low energy ever since, and when I discussed it with her aide when they were visiting that one doctor at the hospital said she was showing signs of the early stages of congestive heart failure.

So yeah, that's super fun. I've known for a long time that people in wheelchairs often live shorter lives. If nothing else, Mom has a perpetual UTI because she has a catheter. It's sent her to the emergency room a couple times, and I'm sure at some point she'll get sick with something else and it will rear up while she's weakened and make everything far more complicated. But being prepared for the possibility of my mother starting to develop life-threatening problems doesn't make it suck any less when it happens.

* Oh yes, did I mention I have a cold? That's super convenient right now.

So to sum up: I'm busy and stressed. But I'll try to find more time to type after the stupid portfolio is in.
juthwara: (Default)
How you can tell James is a third child:

He's lying in my lap, blissfully asleep with a full diaper. And because he's a third child, I have no intention of waking him up to change it unless he starts developing diaper rashes or decides to protest. Until then, if it isn't bothering him, it isn't bothering me. As an experienced parent, my first priority is always on "blissfully asleep."

****

[livejournal.com profile] longstrider's parents left last Thursday (leaving behind a rearranged basement, some very nice plants in the backyard and our eternal gratitude), which means shit is about to get real around here. [livejournal.com profile] longstrider will be home from work for the next two weeks, which will cushion me from the cold hard reality of life with three children for a little while longer.

Life being outnumbered by our children is going reasonably well. We're getting a good bedtime routine down, and except for a stomach bug throwing it into chaos last week, the older children are actually going down pretty easily. The nighttime itself is much dicier - James will often go for at least one extended 5-6 period a night, but it might not always be at a useful time. Sunday, for instance, it was from 4:30 to 10:30. Not exactly helpful, baby.

Yesterday was devoted to figuring out how to get Alec out of the house for the summer. His current preschool has a summer program, but it's full time only, and that feels like a big jump from the two days a week we've been doing. So we checked out the preschool at our church today, which will let us do only a couple days of week on an individual weekly basis and have the advantage of being quite a bit cheaper. I think it will be worth it, even though it will be more driving. It will be good for all of us for him to have time out of the house with well-rested people who have planned activities for him, and it will save my sanity to have one less kid in the house.

***

As for the oldest kid, we're keeping her somewhat occupied with a minimal schedule of reading and math, and that's more than plenty for the moment. Last week, I had to ask [livejournal.com profile] longstrider to take over math instruction for the day because I couldn't figure out how to do it. In my defense, our math curriculum is designed to teach problem solving and algebraic thinking, so it wasn't just straight addition and subtraction. But still. Five terms of upper-level college math and a BA in computer science and I was so tired I had to look at the answer manual to figure out a first grade math sheet. Sigh.

I do have a few more things beyond reading and math planned to do soon to round out our portfolio. Do me a favor and bug me to get the portfolio done this week, since I really need to make myself do it while [livejournal.com profile] longstrider is home and I still have some time and energy. Bleah.
***

On a completely different note, we managed to see Avengers last weekend. I think it might possibly have been the best action movie I've ever seen (and the least problematic, which I admit is pretty low bar, but I was pretty happy with how little cringing I had to do). The interactions, both positive and negative, between the team members was fantastic - of course, who would expect any less that great dialogue and character development from Joss Whedon?
juthwara: (Default)
1. K and I got up too early last Wednesday morning and went to the children's hospital for another attempt at a vcug. They gave her versed this time, which makes children very sleepy and mellow, and thank goodness, because K was freaking out again. I was impressed with the nurse who gave her the medication, who was the right combination of kind and tough, and managed to get K to willingly take the medicine when she was more interested in curling up in a little ball and hiding her face. The doctor had warned me that she was on the older end of children that Versed works well for, and it just doesn't work at all for some children. I held her in a rocking chair for a while, talking about her grandmother's trip to Alaska and other distracting things, until the nurse came back in and I looked down and realized her eyes were closed. Clearly working for her, thank goodness. It was all pretty easy after that, since while she wasn't really asleep, she was pretty happily zoned out. Thankfully the test went very quickly (and everything is fine, or at least, what they were testing for isn't the cause of the UTIs). K was quite amusingly goofy and wobbly for quite a while.

We couldn't get an appointment with the urologist to actually go discuss this test until August. To say I am ... unhappy with this doctor's office is putting it mildly.

2. The last day of school was last Friday, and we celebrated by getting up waaay too early to go to Hershey Park for an end-of-year celebration with our cyber school. I have to say, if you're the amusement park type, Hershey Park is a pretty good one. Lots of rides, including water rides for hot days, clean as a whistle and the extra bonus of chocolate.

The end of the school year deserves its own post for purposes of reflection on successes, failures, plans for next year and general navel-gazing. We are planning on homeschooling again next year. But meanwhile, we're enjoying the general slothfulness of the first week of summer break.

3. Both of the children were out of sorts on Friday - Alec had woken up obscenely early on Friday (a general trand last week - what the hell child?), fell asleep on the way to daycare and when I carried him in and set him down on the couch, he opened his eyes just long enough to wiggle into a more comfortable position and went back out. He was asleep again when I picked him up, and he stayed asleep when I carried him out to the car, during the twenty minutes we waited for [livejournal.com profile] longstrider to get out of work and for another hour after we got home.

K, meanwhile, had had a rather fragile day and was cuddled up with the sitter when I picked her up and inclined to be tearful for no reason any of us could see. I was utterly perplexed, since she loves the sitter, until we got home and she cuddled up to me on the couch and I suddenly realized she was burning up. We took her temperature : 103. Then we stuck the thermometer under Alec's arm and got the same result.

Oh. Well, that would explain it. They were both inclined to lie around a lot yesterday, although they would both perk up with application of ibuprofen. Alec was pretty much better last night. K, poor bunny, still had a fever tonight, and will probably go into the doctor tomorrow if she's not any better tomorrow. I keep quizzing her about any possible symptom of another UTI, but so far she seems clear. It's almost certainly a virus, given her brother was sick too and her father and I aren't feeling too chipper either, but it's hard not to be paranoid when you're constantly dealing with a chronic illness.
juthwara: (Default)
Two months ago, I kept wondering why it was I thought I hated early toddlerhood so much. Was it because when K was that age, [livejournal.com profile] longstrider was out of work and we were insanely stressed? Because our current toddler was unendingly delightful.

Now, I can remember why: because at 18 months, they turn into little monsters. Little screaming, tantrumming, perpetual motion, howler monkey monsters. Actually, K waited until she was 19 months to really pull it out (although to be fair, my memories of that period of her life are very hazy because of the little distraction of moving to Philadelphia), while Alec is proving to be precocious. Or maybe it just feels that way, since the headbutting has made this quite literally a painful phase for all of us.

Despite waking for the day at 4:30 yesterday morning, he still manages to be cute enough to keep himself from being put out on the curb with the recycling. He seems to have a good sense of when to pull out the cute and distracts me from finding a cardboard box by playing peek-a-boo. K was cute at that age because toddlers are naturally cute. But Alec has been deliberately clowning to make me laugh for several months. The difference between an introvert and an extrovert, right there.

I've been feeling a bit smug lately because I've managed to keep him occupied for hours lately with two simple things that cost less than $10 together. The first is two sets of Mardi Gras beads from the Target dollar bins. Alec adores putting things around his neck, so these are perfect for him to put them on, and take them off, and put them on again and take two off and drop one and put the other one back on... you get the idea. We always let him know he's very pretty in his beads, which makes him happy.

The other was the $6 purchase of a large poster board, to which I glued down some train track. Alec loves the train table at the bookstore, but when I tried to pull our trains out at home, he was interested but couldn't restrain himself from lifting the track up, descending like the hand of God to ruin the fun quite effectively. Now, we have a nice little track setup that lives under the coffee table until gets pulled out so he can play on it happily for hours (often after we've found him lying on his stomach attempting to push trains on the track under the table). Our little train boy.
juthwara: (Default)
I've always had trouble precisely describing Alec's personality. He's a very very happy little boy, calm and cheerful most of the time. He has a gigantic fan club due to his happy smile and cheerful wave that he favors people with indiscriminately. But despite that, it's hard for me to describe exactly as "easygoing," because once he experiences distress, he pulls out the drama queen. It's more like his barometer is set at extra happy, so it takes more to get it to dip down into unhappy, but once he's there, he's really there.

Lately, he's started in on tantrums when his will is thwarted, and I must say, he's certainly mastered them with style - arching his back and hitting me if I'm holding him, collapsing dramatically to the ground, crawling along the ground hitting his forehead on the ground. There is no end to the depths of his woe over my refusing to let him fish old coffee cups out of a public trash can.

Today, however, I noticed that while he was collapsed on the ground, weeping, he was glancing up at me to make sure that I was paying attention. This fit in nicely with what his babysitters were telling me earlier today, that when he's begging for their food, he uses an incredibly fake cry to try and convince them that he's starving.

K certainly could throw a good tantrum, but I never got the feeling that she was expressing anything more than the true intensity of her feelings. Alec though? That one is destined for the theatre.
juthwara: (Default)
At 16 months, Alec:

* pretends to feed me by shoving a spoon or a cup in my mouth and helpfully saying "Mmmmmm!" in case I don't get the hint
* does the same thing to the cats. They are less receptive (although surprisingly patient given they're getting bashed with a cup)
* takes my face in his hands and kisses me sloppily on the lips
* presses parts of his head (some might say the relevant verb here is actually "bashes") to my lips to get me to kiss him
* happily scribbles on paper with crayons for several minutes before attempting to enjoy a nice colored wax snack
* identifies dogs (and cats) with vigorous woofing, including paging through Sandra Boynton's "Doggies" and woofing
* points to cats in a book and says "Cat!"
* LOVES sending cars down ramps
* has started putting trains together to push along train track instead of just wandering around with a train car in each hand
* walks around with a toy phone pressed to his ear, saying "Hello!"
* can accurately sort shapes into his shape sorter and can place puzzle pieces on the correct slot, although he can't get them in yet
* can turn doorknobs well enough to open all of the doors in the house, making us panic daily
* requests a rousing chorus of "Itsy-bitsy Spider" by making the finger motions
* flirts shamelessly with everyone he meets
* carries a broom and dustpan around whenever I take him to work, which is very convenient because I can still see him even when he's on the other side of the circulation desk
* is quite possibly the cutest thing I've ever encountered

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juthwara: (Default)
You know, I had kind of been dreading this age, the age of mobility with absolutely no sense of self-preservation or discipline. The age when they cheerfully try to kill themselves on a regular basis while ignoring your yelling at them to stop. And then throw a tantrum because you ruined their fun.

What I had forgotten is how astonishingly cute this age is. Little babies are cute because of what they are, while toddlers are cute because of what they do. Whether he's making his toy cell phone play music and dancing to it or clapping and cheering for his ball popper, he exudes cuteness from every pore. He dripped cuteness this morning when he picked up his sister's electronic hamster and went crawling after it. He radiated cuteness as he sat down on the bathmat in the bathroom to examine it closely. And then he positively radiated cuteness as he got up on his knees, lifted the toilet lid and threw it in the toilet, as we shouted and futilely ran to try and stop him, which was difficult given that we were almost helpless with laughter at the same time. That's early toddlerhood in a nutshell for you.

Anyway, Alec is busy adding skills at a great rate:

Gross motor: No walking yet. But he can stand unassisted for a good thirty seconds or more, and can sometimes stay standing when I put him down on his feet. He has taken a step when moving between two support objects. He can also walk while pushing something, but after a few days of doing that, he largely lost interest. He's on the cusp of movement, but just needs to decide he wants to do it.

When it comes to climbing, however, he has seized the day and then some. For quite a while, he would crawl over to the stairs and just look up at them curiously, which was quite a relief given that K had figured out crawling up stairs before she could really crawl across the floor properly. He has it all figured out now though. I'm not sure how to feel about the fact that when he manages to get free in the basement, he now makes a beeline for the stairs instead of the cat food. He can also climb onto couches and the bed. Thankfully, he has also figured out how to climb down safely instead of his previous method of falling off head first.

Fine motor: This is more of a gross motor age, but he's definitely working on using his hands. He's very interested in using a fork and will pick up pieces of food and stick them on his fork. One of his favorite pastimes in restaurants is putting straws through the hole in cup lids.

Cognitive:

We're starting to hear new words pretty often: Mama, Dada, Ka (Katherine), cat, woof, book, train, block, uh oh (this is a big favorite, especially when he's peering over the edge of something at an object he's just thrown down. I keep telling him it's not uh oh if you do it on purpose, but does he listen?)

We're seeing a lot of imitative behavior now. Putting the toy phone to his ear, attempting to use silverware, pulling tissues out of the box and blowing his nose are all fun games. The other day, I had grabbed a couple packets of Splenda to put in my iced tea, and he grabbed a packet and looked at me expectantly until I opened it for him and let him pour it in my tea. He looked incredibly pleased when I called him a good helper. And then K got upset because she's supposed to be the helper. Ah, sibling rivalry.

He loves music and paging through books. Books featuring baby faces and touch and feel books are the favorites right now. He's starting to work on stacking rings and nesting cups. It's incredibly cute to watch him put one cup inside another and let out a very pleased "Gah!" with a grin.

At his last checkup, he was 26 pounds six ounces and 31.5 inches (although I think it was close to 32). That's 85 and 95 percentiles respectively. He's pretty much out of 18 month clothes. He's our huge, happy, good natured baby.

P7262846

Water baby

Jun. 19th, 2010 01:11 am
juthwara: (Default)
We went to what was theoretically SCA archery practice on Sunday, but in reality was a bunch of people hanging out while the kids frolicked in the wading pool and under the sprinkler.

All of the kids had fun, but oh my, Alec is apparently part selkie. He splashed in the pool, he splashed in the water table. He climbed in and out of the pool through sheer force of will. Finally, he crawled over and just sat under the sprinkler, occasionally waving his arms in joy, too exhausted to play any more but utterly unwilling to leave all of the wonderful water.

Incidentally, I have to say that I'm very impressed with the waterproofness of Bumgenius pocket diapers. I had put one on him without any absorbent material as a swim diaper, and it would take on water when it gapped, but then wouldn't let it drain, so he routinely had a cup of water hanging off of his crotch. As I said, impressive water retention abilities there. I finally just took the diaper off and let him frolic naked. I figured everyone there knew what baby boys look like under their diapers and there's really such a short in your life that you're allowed to have no modesty at all.

*****

It was K's last day of school today. They had a short ceremony to celebrate moving up to kindergarten with the parents looking on proudly (and brilliant people that we are, we remembered the camera but forgot that the battery was still in the charger). It was particularly nice that the teacher they had the longest this year came back to be part of the ceremony and say good bye to the kids. Her class had four teachers this year. The regular teacher had to take a leave of absence for health reasons, so they got a long-term sub who was a retired fifth grade teacher. He was pretty good, especially considering he wasn't used to being surrounded by four year olds every day. His training wasn't in preschool, but he tried hard. But then the school district informed him that if he taught past a certain point, he would start losing retirement benefits, so he had to leave six weeks before the end of the year. Then they got the sub who seemed entirely unprepared to deal with small children. My opinion of her was cemented the day she informed me that K had had a tantrum over something and I was supposed to talk to her to keep it from happening again. I see. 1, what on Earth are you doing teaching preschool if you can't handle a tantrum, and 2, if only I had realized the way to put an end to tantrums was to talk to her. And here I had been sending her memos, which didn't seem to work at all! Yeesh. But she left after a couple weeks, and they got the final teacher who thankfully seemed to actually know about preschool.

And now I need to figure out what to do with us for the next three months. We can't afford any sort of day camp (do they have camps based on the theme "Get this kid out of my hair for a few hours"?), but I'm thinking I need to figure out at least child care for Fridays. [livejournal.com profile] longstrider and I had been switching off working Fridays and Saturdays, which was tiring but at least we got one day a week off together the weeks I didn't work Sundays. But since the branch libraries have stopped Saturday hours for the summer, I'm only going to be able to work Saturdays and Sundays. And since he also managed to get a bunch of Sunday hours at the Central Library downtown, there's going to be something like a seven week period this summer that I will have to work every Saturday and we will switch off who works on Sunday. Meaning that we won't have a day off for nearly two months if I can't get some child care and work some Fridays. Yikes.

As for what to do with the other four days of the week, I foresee taking heavy advantage of museum memberships and trying to schedule a lot of playdates. I really want to get her in some swimming lessons, but that may have to wait depending on what our finances look like.

First, though, we have the kids' birthdays to get through next week and then a pilgrimage Midwestward. I'm looking forward to going home for a while.
juthwara: (Alec2)
If I had to choose a word to describe this age, it would be "handsy." The desire to explore and manipulate objects has intersected with new manual dexterity to create a baby from whom nothing within arms' reach is safe. He pulls down the toys dangling over his bouncy seat until he can cram them in his mouth and pulls the toys on his play arch down from their hooks. Then he examines them with thorough scientific interest before cramming them firmly in his mouth.

His gross motor skills are slowly but surely coming along. He can roll over, but he doesn't like it much. But he still manages to wiggle around quite a lot. He can sit for short periods when propped from behind by a Boppy, and I suspect he's about a month from sitting on his own.

If I could use two words, the other one would be "wet." The drool, it threatens to submerge the house. The fountains of spitup are slowly but surely drying up, but it doesn't matter because we still have to change his shirts two or three times a day. One wickedly sharp tooth has poked through, and another is gouging its way up, bringing on a waterfall of saliva. We're waiting on solids until six months, but this morning [livejournal.com profile] longstrider noticed that Alec was watching him very intently as he ate. He may well decide that he's ready for real food before we do. He has that spiffy new tooth to try out, after all.

All in all, he's a big, happy baby bursting with vitality. I wouldn't necessarily call him a mellow baby, since he has quite the high pitched shriek available when life is less than optimal, but he's a very happy baby. And we're very happy to have him.

PB141904
juthwara: (Default)
This started out as a comment on Fairoriana's post on boys and gender issues, but it's getting long enough that I'm making it a post instead.

I've found the gender issues for both of my children have been remarkably interrelated, which shouldn't be surprising since gender politics are interrelated. With Alec, I've confronted new issues that I haven't before with K, because it's more accepted for girls to transcend gender barriers. This, of course, is because boy stuff = good and girl stuff = bad, so it's more accepted for girls to do boy stuff than it is for boys to do girl stuff.

At the tender age of four months, the biggest area this has come up for with Alec is with clothing. When I was pregnant, K wanted to buy Baby Brother an outfit every time we passed baby clothes, and I was often happy to oblige. But I found myself steering her away from the frilly dresses she was attracted to, once biting down the words "Boys don't wear dresses" right before they came out of my mouth. Part of my motivation with this was that we already had plenty of baby girl clothes, so if I was going to spend money, I'd rather do it on more boy-oriented stuff. But the other part was the same thing that made me initially set aside the hand-me-down baby clothes from K that were pink or had flowers. It wasn't even so much my not wanting to see my son in pink as I was afraid of having to defend putting him in pink when we were out in public.

However, one night I was looking at a pink flowered nightgown that was of the type I liked best (snaps up the front), and decided that 1) it was stupid not to use perfectly good clothes because society has arbitrarily decided they're not for girls, 2) why do I care what random strangers think about how I dress my children, and 3), if I'm willing to buy dinosaurs for K, I should be willing to put Alec in pink. So now I do. I haven't put him in any dresses and I don't think I will, but so far the adorable pink sleeper with the bunny on it has failed to cause his penis to fall off. I'm still a little shy of putting him in anything too girly to go out, mostly because I'm pathologically conflict-averse and just don't want to deal with nose old ladies with rigid gender expectations.

This Sunday, Alec will be wearing the christening gown my grandfather wore in 1906. In fact, he wore dresses until he was three years old. I suspect he also wore pink since it was considered a boy's color in those days. He was still manly enough to father two children.

As Alec gets older, there will certainly be more clothes issues - would I let him wear a dress in public? Will I let him have long hair (given that his father has long hair, almost certainly). The issue again will not be as much what I'm comfortable with as trying to negotiate his desires with what the rest of the world thinks. The nosy old ladies will turn into his peers, and I'll have to decide how to help him balance expressing his true self with peer acceptance. But that will be true whether he wants to wear a dress or not.

But I'll also butt up against things that are more my issues, that I'm already dealing with K - as a feminist, what sort of toys do I allow my children to play with? And as usual, it's the girl toys that come up suspect. Out of the entire world of boy toys, military toys are the only ones that give me pause, and I haven't come to a real decision about that. But with girl toys, there are tons of things that bother me. Cooking and housework toys are fine, since I don't even considered those gendered toys as every adult needs to know how to feed themselves and keep up basic household hygiene. Baby doll play is about nurturing, which again I consider applicable to both sexes. Dollhouses are a miniature version of household play. All fine for both of my children.

But then we get to princesses, which I've already discussed. And Barbie. I'm more leery but consider both of those more or less inocuous if we approach them the right way. But then there's hair dressing toys, or play makeup kits, or fashion design software.

There are age issues with those things as well, but I don't want to get into that here. Let's say right now they're being considered for a hypothetical ten-year-old, and the makeup won't be worn in public.

When I ask myself, why is it okay for my child to pretend to cook or take care of babies the way she will when she's an adult, but not pretend to style hair or put together pretty outfits the way she will when she's an adult, the only answer I can come up with is that unlike housework or child care, those are things women do that haven't become acceptable for heteresexual men to do as well. Women are judged by how they look in a way that men just aren't, and knowing how to put yourself together well is an important skill for a woman who wants to be professionally successful. I often wish I had had more opportuntities to learn that sort of thing when I was younger. But because this is something that only women do, it's of course seen as superficial and worthless. But just try climbing the corporate ladder with no makeup on. So I wouldn't buy any of those things for my preschool daughter, but when she's older, well, why not? Do they truly have inherently less social worth than playing paintball? And if my son shows interest in these things, I can't in fairness deny then to him any more than I would refuse to buy my daughter a skateboard.

It's astonishing how far down the internalized sexism goes when you start interrogating it. And no wonder this got too long for just a comment. I just keep trying to remind myself the conclusion I came to when I started wondering why I didn't want to buy K pink: the only thing wrong with the color pink (besides not especially complimenting her complexion) is that it's the code color for girl that everything meant for girls is required to be coated in. There's nothing wrong with being a girl, therefore there's nothing wrong with pink as long as it's balanced with all of the other colors.
juthwara: (Default)
PA251764PA251760PA251757

Guess who's teething?

Our gigantic baby, that's who. He was 26 inches and 17 pounds, 3 ounces at his well baby visit today. I expect our health insurance to cancel his coverage any minute now. He's in the 90th percentile for height, weight and head circumference, making him a very well-proportioned baby. And you can really see it - he has a decent amount of chub, but he's not at all fat, just big. He's firmly into 9 month clothes now that all of his wrists and ankles are sticking out of 6 month clothes and we can't snap any of them under his crotch without endangering our future grandchildren.

In physical developments, he has started rolling over. And like magic, the boy who never wanted to play on the floor is suddenly thrilled to be under his activity arch. He's even happy to be on his stomach for quite a while. He isn't making any forward movement when he squirms around on the floor, but he will often wind up 90 or 180 degrees away from where he started by rolling around. He's become much more interested in holding and examining objects, and he frequently becomes frustrated when he's under his activity arch because he can't hold the dangling toys and hold them the way he wants to.

Socially, he's the most incredible flirt. It's not just that he will smile at anyone who looks at or talks to him. He will also deliberately catch the eye of people passing him and give them a coy, come-hither smile.

He has started laughing, in response to being tickled, to many of the things K does, and to being sung nonsense. Honestly, I'm not sure why I bother to remember lyrics to songs when the thing he finds most hysterical is my chanting:

A dee-dee-dee,
A dee-dee-dee,
A dee-dee-dee-dee dee-dee-dee!
[vigorously move baby's arms about in various semaphore positions]

Not exactly poetry for the ages. But who could resist making this face smile?

PA251798

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