Friday, April 30, 2010
Thursday, April 29, 2010
I realized this weekend when Alli asked Caleb to draw animals with her that he doesn't draw anything on his own except patterns of shapes. I can't even get him to try to draw a face. When given blank paper, he always draws concentric circles, lines, or rows of some shape. It is always very regular and formulaic. He traces all of his letters very well, and can write about half of them without tracing, but he always wants each letter to be perfect. He is forever holding up a traced letter and saying, "Do you like my 'M', Mama?" I say, "It's great, Caleb! Great job!" Then he says, "I think it is not good. See that part? I'm gonna wipe it off and do it again." Sometimes I try to talk him out of it, wanting to avoid the perfectionism that he is so prone to, but other times I say nothing.
Ethan also prefers a printed sheet to a blank one. He will make a few lines across a blank sheet and be done, but he spends a long time coloring a printed sheet. First, he uses a marker to color over every letter and number on the sheet (like the web address and title at the bottom of each sheet). Then, he picks one object, like all of the flowers, and he meticulously covers each flower with whatever color marker he is using. Then he chooses another color and repeats the pattern with another object. He does not have Caleb's attention span, though, and he never finishes a picture before growing bored and getting up from the table to do something else.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
In addition to becoming a Mommy and, at least temporarily, retiring from her speech therapy career, Alli has gotten into birding since we saw each other last. Everywhere we went this weekend, she pointed out to me the unique sounds of all different kinds of birds. I have a bird feeder on our deck, mostly for the boys' entertainment, and she taught all three of us the names of our frequent visitors. Although I was fascinated by her ability to identify so many birds by their calls, I'm afraid I made a very poor birding student, since my hearing is not the best.
Alli was much more successful at teaching me a few speech therapy skills to work on with Caleb . She said the age four is an important year for honing sounds that have not yet developed naturally. She taught me about auditory bombardment and auditory discriminaton. Even after just two days of being intentional with these things, Caleb is pronouncing the initial "f" sound much more clearly than he was before. I have just gotten used to the sound replacements and ommissions in both boys' speech, and it was good to have a fresh ear (specifically the ear of a seasoned speech therapist) call attention to some easily-corrected articulation errors.
On another note, Alli's husband Damon is really into games. "Into" doesn't accurately describe his relationship with games. He brought a whole suitcase of options for us to play. And to top it off, we were telling him about what we thought was an obscure Asian game that another friend tried to teach us, and he pulled that very game out of his suitcase! Teasing him aside, we did have a lot of fun learning and playing the game Dominion. Marcus added to the fun by interspersing questions from our coffee table "If..." book whenever one of us had to step away from the table.
We had a great weekend with our old friends, and I really hope we don't let another couple of years go by before we do it again.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
Friday, April 23, 2010
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Last week, I commented to Marcus that it would be nice if he mowed the front yard of the vacant house down the road from us. It is for sale, and the grass had grown so high that it was obscuring the real estate sign. So this weekend, after Marcus mowed our yard, he headed up the street and mowed theirs. Well, you guessed it...he ended up hitting a big rock under all that tall grass and breaking both the mower blade and the part that attaches it. The mower is very old, and we are having trouble locating a replacement part, so we are currently mowerless. And, yet again, no good deed goes unpunished :)
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Since I have felt this way for the past year, Marcus has grown increasingly concerned that the further I get from the baby stage, the less likely I will want to re-enter it. I hope, mostly for his sake, that I will want another baby eventually, but for now, I will continue on this monthly roller coaster that hinges on my monthly negative result :)
The irony of the way I feel is that, five years ago, I was taking tests month after month, hoping upon hope for a positive result. And the relief I feel each month right now was deep disappointment in that other life stage. How God must chuckle at our fickle hearts, yearning so much in one direction or another, foolishly believing that we know best. Many days, I wonder why it is so hard for me to let go and trust him. Then other times, when powerful emotions roil within me or intellectual doubt accosts me, I am amazed that I ever succeed even for a few hours to surrender my heart to Him. Regardless, I remain steadfast in my belief that it is our journey in life that is of most importance; not one particular moment, day, or even season, but the sum of these snapshots that make up our lives.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Monday, April 19, 2010
Caleb and Ethan are genetically-wired with springs in their feet. They LOVE to jump and bounce, so a trampoline is a perfect gift. Now if we can just keep them from getting hurt...hopefully, they have also inherited the bubble of protection that has followed their dare-devil father all of his life. And it won't hurt that Mommy makes them wear their bicycle helmuts while they jump :)
Friday, April 16, 2010
Did he really just turn four? The other day, I made him wear a white shirt under his polo as an undershirt. It was a school day, and he protested the extra shirt by saying, "None of my friends at school have to wear two shirts! Everyone at my school only wears ONE shirt...ONE, ONE, ONE shirt! I'm the only boy who wears two shirts!" Seriously? Does this stuff start already?
Thursday, April 15, 2010
I took the boys to their two-year-old and four-year-old well visit last week. It was a very peaceful visit, since there were no shots. They did have to do a finger prick on both boys. Caleb screamed bloody murder while the nurse squeeze drops of blood out of his finger, but Ethan just watched her curiously and didn't cry at all. He's got his Daddy's curiosity about how the body works, while Caleb has my aversion to blood. Both boys were asked to pee in a cup for the first time this visit. Ethan was successful, but Caleb had just gone potty and had nothing to offer. He felt very bad about it, but I assured him it was no big deal.
Anyway, on to the numbers that make these well visits interesting... At two-years-old, Ethan weighed in at 27 lbs, 4 oz, which put him around the 45th percentile for weight. He was 34 1/4 inches tall, which is around the 50th percentile. That's pretty much where he has been on the growth curves since he was 6 months old, so no surprises there.
At four-years-old, Caleb weighed in 37 lbs, which was around the 50th percentile. He measured 42 inches tall which is the 80th percentile. He's always been between 70th and 95th percentile in height, but his weight has fluctuated a lot more. He stayed around 25th percentile as a one-year-old, and then around the 75th percentile as a two and three-year-old. Now I guess he's evened out to the 50th :)
They were both pronounced very healthy little boys by Dr. H, and I said a prayer of thanks for another uneventful well visit :)
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
After everyone was warmed up and stuffed with bacon and eggs, we headed all headed out on a little hike called the Treetop Trail. It is a boardwalk hike at tree level (just like the title), and there are rescued birds in cages all along the trail. We all enjoyed the walk, and then we loaded back up in the cars to go to the petting farm, a little further down the state park road. It was such nice weather by now, and we spent more than an hour walking around in the petting farm, enjoying all of the animals, but especially the baby goats and the pony. Then we shared a picnic lunch, which we had to guard carefully from the opportunistic peacocks that strutted around the picnic tables.
After lunch, we made a quick trip out of the state park to get a few things at Walmart, also hoping the kids would take a short nap in the car. Caleb obliged us, but Ethan chattered all the way there. So Ethan and I went inside while Marcus stayed with sleeping Caleb in the car. When we got back to camp, Caleb and I went to the beach while Marcus, Ethan, and the Pollard's took a nap. I had bought the boys little hand-held fishing nets at Walmart, so Caleb and I took them and caught two minnows and a water bug. After about an hour, Ethan and the Pollard's were up, and we all went back to the beach together, armed with five little nets, and (this time) a bug jar to collect our booty in. Quenta caught a minnow and a tadpole right away, but there weren't too many other bugs out because the temperature was cooling down.
For dinner Saturday night, we grilled burgers and hot dogs again, and I broke out the broccoli salad I'd made at home. After dinner, the Pollard's handed out glow sticks to all the kids, which they loved of course. We even got brave and let the older four kids roast a few marshmallows on their own. That made me a little nervous to have four preschoolers so close to the campfire, but it made it easier that Caleb was a very cautious roaster. He was more warming the marshmallow slightly and then eating it :)
The kids went down a little earlier Saturday night, and we adults enjoyed another night talking and eating around the campfire. Sunday morning felt about 10 degrees warmer than Saturday had. I was the first up, so I started the morning fire and then started the bacon. Breakfast was bacon, fried eggs and toast again. I think the morning is my favorite thing about camping out (though I really love the campfire at night, as well). The kids are happy and rested (generally), the smell of bacon and eggs in the open air is something else, and the whole day outside is ahead of us. We all enjoyed a leisurely morning of eating, playing around the campsite, and then breaking camp. We headed home for much-needed baths and naps around noon, and spent the rest of the afternoon unpacking and cleaning pollen off everything (including ourselves).
Monday, April 12, 2010
As always, the kids and a GREAT time camping. We went with the Pollard's, and the five kids had a blast together. They played tickle monster, soccer ball, chase, frisbee, throw-the-turtle, follow-the-leader, and a lion-attack game where Caleb and Ethan crawled out of our tent and slithered on the ground, roaring like lions (and looking like injured seals) while the triplets squealed and ran. Of course, the four boys took turns rotating in and out of time-out for crossing "the line" throughout the weekend. Addison was helpful and obedient, as always, and we could count on her to spot any misdemeanors that the four adults missed :)
Marcus got to take Friday off work, making this the first camping trip that he got to be there for (part of) setting up camp! I left first thing Friday morning (8:00 am) to make sure that we could get a good pair of tent sites. Then I set up our tent and unloaded a few things and headed back to get Marcus and the boys. We finished packing and loading the car, stopped to get a pizza for lunch, and were back at the camp site around 11:00 am. After lunch, we walked to the on site playground for a little while and let the boys burn off some energy. The Pollard's arrived a little later and set up their camp.
Around 3:00, everybody but me, Caleb and Ethan laid down for a nap. I wanted my boys to skip their naps so they would go to bed at dusk, so I took them to the camp beach while Marcus and the Pollard's slept. After naps, we fixed hamburgers, hot dogs and fried potatoes for dinner. I think food tastes so much better camping than it does at home! Quenta did a great job grilling the burgers on a less-than-ideal grate over the campfire.
On this campout, we sort of skipped the traditional after-dinner trips to the bathhouse to shower everyone, and I think that was a great move. It was cool enough that no one was getting sweaty, and there was just no point in cleaning off the dirt that would be back in it's place on little bodies within about twenty minutes. Instead, after dinner, we all changed into warmer clothes and Marcus and I put our boys to bed. The triplets went down a little later, and then we broke out the marshmallows and roasting forks. I love smores around a campfire! We talked until 11:00ish, exchanging stories from elementary school, and then headed to bed, hoping for a good night's sleep for a full day on Saturday.
More about our weekend tomorrow :)
Thursday, April 8, 2010
When we first got the membership, I had not worked out on any regular basis since college (more than eight years ago), and I really had no idea of the best way to get started. So I got a schedule of all the different classes and picked an aerobics class that looked promising. I went to one class and thought it was boring. I also didn't like having to rush the boys to get to the gym at a certain time, so on to Plan B.
The next time, I just loaded the boys up at an opportune time (which is a time that neither they nor I am in the middle of something) and we arrived at an odd time when no classes were starting. So I dropped them off in the play room and headed upstairs to run laps on the indoor track. I ran (i.e. jogged) for about 20 minutes and then I walked downstairs to the weight room.
I'm sure that I looked more than a little lost, because several different people asked me if I needed help and offered various unsolicited pointers throughout my weight workout. That first day, I spent most of my time figuring out the machines and reading all of the little instruction panels on each machine. Even though I didn't do that much weight lifting that first day, I was SO SORE the next day. Especially my poor legs, which hadn't been used for running in way too long.
Over the next couple of weeks, I honed my cardio/weights work-out routine down to an art form. I can only leave the boys in childcare for 90 minutes, so everything I do is on a tight schedule: I drop the boys off, pick up a locker assignment at the front desk, put my bag in the locker and head for the cardio room. I spend 22-25 minutes running on the treadmill (because the track started hurting my knees). Then I make a beeline for the weight room and do my 3 sets each on the 15 machines that I use each day. Usually, I end up running out of time and have to skip the last weight machine on my list. Then I spend about five minutes stretching (I should spend more, but the clock is running!), and head for the shower. I always end up turning my blow dryer off within a minute or two of my childcare time being up, so I speedwalk back to the play room and greet my two little men: the younger one runs into my arms, but I have to pry the older away from whatever Disney movie he is watching.
I have had no interest in working out since running with my college roommate, but now I really do love it and can't imagine my week without it. Thanks again, Dad!
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
The group picture below was taken at our second Easter Egg Hunt. It was a gathering of the two small groups that were created when our original small group divided into two back in January. It was a lot of fun to have everyone together again, and to watch all sixteen of our kids playing with each other in the Pollard's backyard. Caleb held his own in the mad rush of egg hunting; Ethan, on the other hand, must have decided that the first egg hunt was enough frenetic activity for him, because at the second one, he picked up five eggs and then sat down to eat the candy inside.
Oh yeah, as you can see from the final picture, Ethan was NOT a big fan of having his picture taken with the Easter Bunny :)
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Since Ethan could walk, he has been convinced that he can do anything that Caleb can do...and he actually does his version of everything Caleb can do. Furthermore, he remains oblivious to the difference between his efforts and Caleb's accomplishments. Caleb jumps off the top step and Ethan jumps off the third step. Caleb makes a basket and Ethan throws the ball and hits the pole. Caleb does a somersault and Ethan puts his hands and head on the floor and then stands back up. Lately, Caleb has been into rhyming, especially while we are in the car. As I am driving, Caleb will say, "DOG and FOG, is that rhyming, Mama?" or "SNAP and CLAP, is that rhyming, Mama?" Ethan, always eager to be part of the fun, has started jumping in with his non-rhyming two cents, "Mama, Mama, CAR and COOKIE, dat rhyming, Mama?" He has no idea that he is doing all of these things differently than Caleb.
The only exception I have seen to Ethan's contented oblivion happened earlier last week. Caleb and Ethan were enjoying their evening dance/run/be crazy time after baths. Their favorite "dance" song was playing (Genocide by The Offspring), and they were sprinting laps around a pile of toys in the play room. Caleb shouted, "I'm SUPER-FAST!" Ethan echoed, "I'm SUPER-FAST, too!" As they were running, Caleb lapped Ethan two or three times, which has never phased Ethan before, but for some reason, Ethan stopped in mid-stride, his face crumpled into tears, and he came wailing to me. I asked him what was wrong and he choked out, "I not super-fast! Bubba super-fast!"
You can't make this stuff up :)
Monday, April 5, 2010
Since Ethan's birthday fell on Easter Sunday this year, it was a little hard to give him the "birthday boy" day that we gave Caleb a couple weeks ago, but we did our best. Sunday morning we went to the Easter Service at our church, and we let Ethan stay with us in church the whole time instead of going to the toddler nursery, which he LOVED. (He was surprisingly good and quiet the whole time; he even fell asleep on me for about ten minutes during the sermon.) After church, we went out to eat at T.G.I. Friday's with another family for lunch, so that Ethan could have his meal of choice, which was chicken nuggets (just like Caleb chose). After a long afternoon nap, Ethan spent the rest of the afternoon in his favorite place: outside. The boys rode bikes, played in the back yard, and played in the sandbox on the deck until dinner. For dinner, Daddy grilled steaks and Mommy cooked fried potatoes and asparagus, as well as apple pie with ice cream for dessert. Ethan asked us to sing Happy Birthday to him about five times during dinner, and we obliged each time.
Marcus thought up a cool idea of watching videos from when the boys were younger as a birthday tradition, but, after he already told the boys what we were going to do, we realized that all of our old videos are in the safety deposit box at the bank for safe-keeping, except for one DVD we made of newborn Caleb. Well, you guessed it, we watched that video. Ethan kept asking, "Where picture of me? Where baby Ethan?" We felt really bad. But he eventually gave up and went to play with his train set while the three of us finished the video. Poor Ethan...I hope this doesn't start him down a road of birthday pity-parties like others before him :)
On to the developmental stuff this month...it's been two months since Ethan took off his diaper and informed me that he wanted to go pee-pee in the potty. Overall, he has been super easy to potty train, but he did have a relapse for two days last week. He had like ten accidents within 24 hours, and I was afraid he had called it quits on the potty. But I ramped up the rewards and praise and encouragement (all of which had kind of lapsed), and he got back on track. Now he is back to 2 or 3 accidents a week, which is where we were before the relapse.
Behaviorally, this month has been better than the month before, but he is still hitting and instigating conflict regularly. According to Miss Margaret at the Rec Center, he has been acting much better when I leave him there, and I haven't had any bad reports from his teachers at church lately, so it appears that he is mostly saving it for me and Caleb. Not ideal, but better than the alternative :)
Miss Margaret put it best when she said, "He can be so bad when he wants to, but then he'll run into your arms and kiss you and you completely forget what he just did."
Friday, April 2, 2010
Overall, I feel much, much better about what I am cooking for my family than I did before we joined the co-op. It gives me weekly accountability, as well as a better standard of food. So, thanks, Grow Alabama, and keep up the good work!
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Caleb always pronounces "sorry" as "awwww-ree," usually drawing out the first syllable for several seconds. When comparing things, he always abbreviates the word "than": "I bigger 'n Ethan." "That car faster 'n us." "Daddy is stronger 'n me." When counting to twenty, he often leaves out numbers 14 and 15. When talking about some time other than the present, he almost always says "tomorrow", even if it is in the past.
Caleb's favorite color, hands-down, is yellow. All of his teachers at church and school know to save the yellow marker, crayons, construction paper and even scissors for Caleb. Every single craft that comes home with him has been colored yellow. We cannot keep a yellow marker in our house because as soon as I buy new markers, he colors fifteen pictures solid yellow within two or three days, and the marker is done with.
Caleb's favorite song is Jesus Loves Me, which he sings solo all throughout the day. At bedtime, it is always the first song he chooses to sing. He likes singing a lot of other songs as well, but that is his favorite. And, on a final note, Caleb loves to pontificate to Ethan about the house rules and which choices are good and bad. I never again need to wonder if Caleb completely understands what I expect of him, because I hear him parroting my words and explanations to the little guy, and I know it is all in there somewhere :)
PICTURES! Here is a link to a few of the pictures from our annual photo shoot with Heather Swanner: http://www.heatherswannerphotography.com/blog/2010/03/spring-fever/. These are the ones she liked the best and put on her blog. I haven't seen the whole shoot yet, and won't until she gets them all uploaded. I'll post that link when I get it, Mimi and Nanna :)