Wednesday, May 26, 2010


Besides the things we have always done nearly every day, I am starting to have the kids help me more around the house and doing more reading aloud to them. I also pulled up Nick's booster seat closer to the table so he can sit like he is truly part of the family.

Xander is good at doing his own chore cards. Today I also asked him to help me pull off dirty pillowcases and put on clean ones, plump the pillows, place them at the head of the bed, clean the insides of windows, and clear more dishes from the table himself. Nick "helped" me dust and sweep. Most of these chores were done in the master bedroom, so these were not personal chores for them, but I want them to get used to all of the work that's done around the house. This is a great time to do it. Xander willingly did everything I asked him to do. As much as he likes his independent play time, he likes to hang out with me. (I know this is short-lived - another good reason to take advantage of it now!) Nick likes to be with me, too, and going around doing chores is more interesting to him than his same old toys in the same old places. He did protest when I swept the laundry room floor one-handed; I think he felt insecure with only one arm around him and my body leaning away.

I read aloud to both of them more often than I usually do and allowed Xander to build with Legos while I read. We hadn't been doing learning activities very often because I scheduled them for after rest time and he kept falling asleep and passing the time that I had available for them. I changed that to just before rest time and we had a great time. I am honestly amazed at what he has learned since the last time I tried certain things with him. He can make careful closed circles around objects. When there was a longer object he wanted to circle, he asked me if he could make an oval instead. We talked about things that change from color to color like ripening fruits and chameleons. He listened intently to a longer picture book called Little Red Riding Hood: A New-Fangled Prairie Tale and followed the story with comprehension. (I stopped and made comments or asked him questions throughout.) He sang with me (which didn't used to be his strong point) and found rectangles around the room. We had a ruler out at one point and he used it to measure things that he was building.

I know he's no dummy, it's just that he's been slower to verbalize everything and reluctant to do writing and workbook activities. Now he does those things well and happily.

We have not had the TV on yet today. He is perfectly content to do chores, play, listen to books, do learning activities, go to the library, and draw lines in a workbook. (This by itself is enough to make it a wonderful day, but another fantastic part of it was that I got more chores done since I had them help me rather than waiting until they napped to start my cleaning work.)

Oh, and we got his first library card today and put it into his first wallet.

He also says that he is going to save up for a kid's computer. By this he means a real computer with Internet, because he wants to "look for Little Einsteins things."

Nick is smiling and "talking" to us. He is so good at imitating. I told him I was sweeping cobwebs and he said, "Cob bledehlaalll." He's beginning to clap on his own. He already learned to stamp his feet to music. I realized the other day that he doesn't touch the top shelf books on his bookcase even though he can reach them. I had spent about ten minutes on telling him no to those books and yes to the ones on the bottom shelf. He looks at me before he tries to touch our DVD player or drop food on the floor. He knows.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Xander Milestone

Xander got his first allowance on Monday night, fifty cents. He put part of it in his piggy bank and part in his sharing jar. He wanted to put the bigger coins in his piggy bank. Since his allowance came in nickels and dimes, his sharing jar actually got the larger amount of money.

He does not quite understand the whole process yet, but he has bought two items for himself with his own money: a used dragon book and an awesome pirate ship we found at Goodwill for a dollar.

After happily reading/listening to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Xander and I have started a few more chapter books. We finished Sir Pants and Sir Reddy and the dragon chapter book. We got halfway through The Mouse and the Motorcycle but Xander lost interest in that. I started the Boxcar Children's The Pizza Mystery but he doesn't want to go back to it after reading only one chapter.

We went to the Chronicles of Narnia exhibition at the Museum of Science and History last weekend, which Xander loved, and which prompted him to want to watch Prince Caspian again. Last night we read the first chapter of Prince Caspian and he is really excited about it.

I'm not sure if it's because I love those books too that he is so good at listening to them, or because he knows the movies from them, or because they're well written, or because they include talking animals... I think we're going to have to stick to the somewhat supernatural themes for now. Talking animals, dragons, knights and battles, witches and bad guys. I'll have to see if Stuart Little fits the bill or if the farm setting is too nonviolent for him. I'm not saying farms are nonviolent (from the animals' points of view) but nobody goes around wearing swords, charging their enemies, or shouting, "For Narnia!"

Monday, May 17, 2010

More Nick Milestones

Just now I gave Nick his first half-sippy-cup of all whole cow's milk. He is eleven and a half months old and we just finished a canister of formula. Erik and I are both comfortable with going to cow's milk now. Xander was on all cow's milk at around eleven months. His pediatrician at that time approved and he did well with it. Nick's been having milk mixed in with his formula for two months now with no problems.

So that's another one-year milestone down.

He's been focusing a lot on talking. He mimics words and copies signs very well now and has lots of fun with it. Too much fun. They don't necessarily mean anything because he has fun saying or signing them over and over.

Nick has been really clingy today. I keep thinking it's a tooth but I also just found a little sore between his two front teeth, like a canker sore. Hmmm.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

New Words

This afternoon, Nick showed me a couple of new words! Of course, when Daddy came home and I wanted to show him, Nick just smiled a big-ol' silent smile instead of blabbing the word like he had been doing.

The words are "ball" and "quack-quack"! Very exciting! I know that watching a Baby Einstein video last week helped him get "ball" down because they had a segment on balls that he watched carefully. So today I rolled balls back and forth with him saying the word and he said it almost every time except when Daddy came home! His version is "bah" of course.

The quack won't be recognizable for a while. It's more my tone and register of voice that he mimics when we see a picture of a duck. It's kind of a "gwah-gwah" but most of the resemblance is just in the imitation of my voice. Need I say it's darling?

Molly's Visit Begins

Molly's here! She came in last night and will be driving to Charleston tomorrow but then she'll be back with us on Tuesday, for another five days. Today she played cars with the boys and learned all about dragons with Xander. After lunch we went to Tree Hill Nature Center which was calming and pretty as usual, but Xander really got into it! Every showcase was "amazing!" and "great!" Of course the goats, tortoise, rooster, hens, possum, and owl were big hits. Also the tadpoles in the pond. Nick was very mellow in his stroller but responded to the hens. He got to hear the real-live, unmusical sound of goats bleating.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Downtown Field Trip

Today pest control came and we had to leave the house for four and a half hours. It turned out to be a great day, although tiring. First Erik and I had to get everything up off the floor that wasn't furniture and vacuum the carpeted rooms. What with packing lunches for all of us on top of the rearranging, this took all morning!

I had to (sadly) wake Nick up after only a half-hour morning nap when the guy came. He was really happy to be up and on the go at first, but tired quickly. We got snacks from the grocery store, dropped off things at Goodwill, and went to the big downtown library for Preschool Storytime. Parents and younger siblings are allowed in this one, so we all went in and Nick loved the place. There were some great toys around the room for someone his age. Xander's friends JT and Izelle were both there. After stories and an activity where everyone put up pictures of different flowers on a display board, they had free play time. Then clean-up, a song, and bye-bye time. Nick had a great time flirting with the adults in the room but drove away some preschoolers when he wanted to "play" cars with them. The bright spot was he got the big colorful carpet and a bin of cars and trucks all to himself. Elvia very nicely offered to bring both Xander and Izelle to the art time after story time while Nick and I refilled our parking meter. Then we had picnic lunch in the courtyard with JT and his mom, Cheri, and two other around-4-year-olds and their moms. It was nice, but a good thing we had all eaten a bit in the car earlier, because I mainly helped Nick move around in the courtyard and didn't eat a thing. Xander and the boys ran around for a while after eating. They were pretty hyper and a little bit loud, but it was genuine little-boy outdoor activity and good for them.

Then we browsed the children's library, Xander and the boys played a game of Memory, Nick fussed a bit and looked around with me, and we went for a walk to kill more time before heading home. We browsed two used book stores and Xander made his first purchase ever with his own money: a short chapter book on dragons for $1.00. Nick was kind of fussy throughout and had had his fill of food and drinks, so we went back to the car and drove home. We got home only five minutes before the allotted four hours post-pest-spray, and everyone was ready for a nap, so I went ahead in with them. Windows were cracked open, Nick went straight to sleep, I fell asleep on the couch, and from the dead silence in Xander's room I assume he's been sleeping, too. (He started rest time with me reading him the first dragon chapter and him going through the book on his own afterward.)

It was a last-minute plan to go to the library (because it was a last-minute scheduling of pest control) but it was so neatly perfect. Xander got to do art time with Izelle and her mom, who's an artist, and later got to run around and yell with JT and the other boys, which is what they're good at doing together.

Molly comes in tonight. Another exciting event. Unfortunately, I won't have a main dish ready for dinner. Forgot to thaw the meat. So hopefully Erik will bring home a rotisserie chicken to go with boiled dill potatoes, green beans, and caramel biscuits.

At the library, we borrowed a video and an art-filled picture book for Nick ("Signing Time: Happy Birthday to You!" and Baby Loves from the Metropolitan Museum of Art), board books for both kids because I know Xander will enjoy them, too (A Little Kitty and Who Are They?), an I Can Read book (Spider-Man Versus The Vulture) for guess who, and a Boxcar Children chapter book The Pizza Mystery in case Xander likes it. I have such fond memories of my second-grade teacher reading the Boxcar Children books to us.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day 2010

Wonderful Mother's Day yesterday. Couldn't have been better. Erik got up with the kids and I slept in until - gasp - 11:00! Then Erik prepared a fresh waffle, eggs, bacon, and coffee for me. We played with the kids outside for a while and then it was naptime. Got to lounge and read and take a bath. After naptime, we decided to go to the zoo for the evening! It was a gorgeous, cool (for Florida) day, animals were stirring, and the crowds were leaving as we entered. The kids got to eat dinner at the zoo and Erik picked up take-out for us while I got the kids ready for bed. More lounging and reading! Not much cleaning up! It was wonderful.

I forgot to mention Erik had taken the boys to the store in the morning and brought me a beautiful flower bouquet and a singing card from Toy Story 2.

Friday, May 7, 2010

He Wants To Do Something Wrong

This evening I went into the bonus room to use a permanent marker that was in the desk. Xander had all his figures (and a few animals) out on the floor. He came up to me and said very quietly, "I want you to go away."

I asked, "Why? What do you want to do?"

He whispered, "I want you to go away."

I whispered, "Do you want to do something wrong?"

He whispered, solemnly, "Yes. I want to get out the other animals." (I told him earlier that he could play with all his knight/creature figures but not the animals, too. He had to choose between them.)

I said, "No, you may not do that. You know why? You and I are going to have to clean up your toys in 25 minutes before bed, and if you get more than one set of toys out that's too big a job. But you can play with all your figures here, and even those few animals I let you have earlier."

He said, "Okay. Look! Is it Narnia?"

I said, "Yes, it looks like Narnia to me!"

Now he is happily playing.

An Adventure In Keeping Cool

We had what you might call an adventure today. An almost-adventure. What happened was that I decided we could drop off our Teacher Appreciation gift at preschool today. I was rushing to get both kids ready, Xander was eating slowly, Nick kept grabbing for my keys, I was helping Xander get his shoes on, and the last straw was probably my sweater on a hot day keeping me uncomfortable as I tried to get us out the door before Nick started a real fuss. I tossed my keys to the side where Nick couldn't reach them, got Xander's shoes on, grabbed the various bags we needed, and got us all out the door and into the car. The kids were buckled up. I wanted to start the car. No keys. I had finally locked us out of the house on a hot day with no way back in, no faulty window. It was only a matter of time because when I lock up the house, I lock up the house. I leave no lock unturned. Which is why I usually have only one place I keep my keys. It is very important that someone like me keep them nearby! Long story short, I called Erik's phone a bunch of times in a row causing his coworker to go find him and hand him his phone which had been charging at his desk. He very, very pleasantly drove back home to let us in the house. We played in the back yard while we waited which turned out fine. In those first few minutes, I really had to work to keep from losing my cool, and I'm sure my frustration showed in the way I talked to Xander a couple times. It was a lesson to me on rushing and impatience. After Erik saved us, I grabbed the keys and we went.

We dropped off a bowl of treats with the director once we got to school because we appreciate everybody there. Xander had insisted on carrying the popcorn box with Ms. Nokosha's stuff in it. He got very shy when he saw everyone lying down in dim lighting. We had arrived at nap time. That and the fact that he was only dropping by school rather than having been there all morning combined to make him act strange. Ms. Nokosha kept asking him what was the matter and put him on her lap as he gave her our little gift. She tried to get him to talk but he was being so quiet. He almost looked scared! I asked him to tell her what movies he loved, since we were giving her treats on a movie theme. That opened him up to say that he loved Spiderman. She said she loved Shrek and Happy Feet and asked if he knew those movies. He nodded. Meanwhile poor Nick had been in my arms sweating. Those infant car seats are very safe but they are also sweatboxes in the car in summer. I had to read the car manual when we got back in to figure out the best way to get the air conditioning back to the back seat! We left after a few minutes and when I asked Xander how it was dropping off the gift to Ms. Nokosha, he said, "I love Spiderman." So anyway. He did say that he liked giving it to her and yes, he thought she would like it. By the time we reached home, he was his old self again and said this week we could look for more things and give her another gift!

Then he told me he was tired and wanted to sleep for rest time. !!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Today's Funny Activity

Xander thought of this one on his own. He got himself completely under our square laundry basket and Nick went to work pushing it around. Lots of giggling from the boys.

This is going to be great when they get old enough to entertain themselves!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

One-Year Milestones

I've been thinking about the milestones that occur around one year old, since Nick is 11 months old on Saturday. This is the list I came up with: [updates in red, since he has  now been 1 year old for two days!]

Switching to cow's milk
-----we already do half formula/half cow's milk out of necessity, with good results
-----low iron at his check-up :(, doing vitamins in his milk
-----pretty much there, posted about it previously
-----a pro, except now it's injury time
Switching to independent playtime in his room instead of his playpen?
-----I haven't made up my mind to do this quite yet
-----not going to do this until he shows me he is completely ready for it; he likes independent play in his playpen right now
One-year molars
-----please, no!
-----I don't know, he's had a cough for a month that I attributed to teething; his right incisor has popped out a little bit and I might be seeing white spots on his lower gum, too; he puts his finger all the way back in his mouth for comfort
Baby's first haircut
-----don't know why I was thinking one year here, it's whenever the parents want, I guess; posted about this already
-----had his first haircut and now he's looking shaggy again; it's gotten kind of hot with summer and I may start to agree with Erik about the buzz cut
Okay to introduce honey and citrus and possibly eggs
-----but I've already given him eggs with good results
-----we had already been doing some eggs and peanut butter with no problem; now I will think about honey graham crackers and citrus fruits--but not while his split lip is healing!
Switching to a front-facing car seat
-----thinking about putting Xander in a booster seat and Nick in Xander's convertible car seat (Nick will not overheat as quickly and may be more content in the car)
-----done; Xander loves it and Nick has become fussier--even spit up twice; we'll see what happens when we drive to Tampa later in the month and use the DVD player
One-year birthday party
-----not exactly a milestone but definitely an event in the parents' lives; we do this party game at one year where we lay down a pencil, paintbrush, ball, tool, and maybe a doll and an animal, too...and let the baby loose to see what he picks up first, which "predicts" his future occupation
-----we forgot to do the game, though he loved the balloon and all his toys (bouncy ball, foam letters and numbers, stuffed knit penguin, plastic farm animals, musical book, interesting cards); will do the game sometime soon if I remember

Life has gotten more hectic again. It was already a bit challenging with a baby and a preschooler; now they are both old enough to give me more of a run for my money. I will go Cathy on you and say "Aaaaacckkkkk!" until further notice.


I'm still feeling a little weak today from whatever my illness was, but getting better all the time. When 11:30 rolled around and lunch was over, I decided I would rather face doing errands with the boys than try to entertain them at home, indoors. It has gotten too hot to have them outside at noon. I had Nick out in the back yard for under five minutes yesterday and he was already sweating. He gulped down a lot of water and later I saw that he had a heat rash. Today he sported a onesie and he might do the same for bedtime. Xander's in the tank and shorts I laid out for him instead of those hot dinosaur pajamas he's been choosing and declining to take off. Time for short-sleeved pajamas, poor red-cheeked Xander!

So we got some essentials at the grocery store - coffee, diapers, toilet paper, and toothbrush, in order of importance - and picked up treats for Xander's teacher's Teacher Appreciation gift. Apparently, according to a blogger who is incredibly on top of holidays, this week is Teacher Appreciation Week. Xander really does appreciate his teacher, Ms. Nokosha, and he is old enough to be super excited about giving his teacher a gift. Even though he only sees her one morning a week. So why not? We kept the cost down thanks to some things we had at home and a really great gift idea from the same blogger (Secrets of a Super Mommy). If you look at her blog, do NOT spend too much time there. I find a peak a week is enough. Anything more and I feel like exploding from the anxiety of not keeping up with fun holidays - let alone keeping up with someone like her! Ridiculous! Yet fascinating! And she really gives people some awesome ideas. I'm just saying, be careful when you view it.

We are using her idea of a Movie Night gift. We already had a small plastic popcorn holder, which I filled with a movie candy box of Starburst, a single serving microwave popcorn, a small cylinder of M&Ms which Xander picked out all by himself, and an envelope with a Redbox logo glued on it that holds three dollars. This is of course swiped straight from Super Mommy's post. Then we have a 20-oz. Sprite (because there was a sale at Blockbuster where we bought this stuff) and a note attached to it with a gold thread tied in a bow. The only thing I changed from Super Mommy's idea (other than the cuteness factor - mine is always going to be way down there) was the size of the soda, the type of ribbon, and a couple things about the note. The words are pretty much straight from the blog post: "Superman, Batman, pick one to see. You're a Super Hero to me! I'm "soda"lighted you're my teacher." I added Ms. Nokosha on top and Xander wrote his X at the bottom. Then I cut out the words in a word balloon comic-book style. My one splash of creativity. We have yet to give it to her, so we'll see how it's received, but Xander will definitely enjoy giving it to her. I like how he was so excited to go shopping for her treats even though there was no mention of anything for him. Our Teacher Appreciation gift cost us $8.

While we were out, he got some surprise treats. He remembered to correctly identify a quarter, so I gave him one to put in a gum vending machine. He had his first chew of gum ever! I gave him instructions and he did fine with it. It is now in the trash where it should be. :) While we were at Blockbuster, I let him choose the free rental we get from returning one of our online subscription rentals to the store. With a little help from me, he chose Night at the Museum. He saw and loved the sequel during Mom's visit when she recommended it. I showed him where the movie was on the shelf and he said, "That was just what I was thinking of!!" Ahh, the magic of Mommy-mind-reading. The third treat of the day was when I said he could watch it in his room, on the portable DVD player, for rest time. I'll post a picture of him enjoying this heady treat.

It's so interesting to me that his sense of humor is maturing bit by bit. He thought the scene of Ben Stiller's character singing in to the museum's sound system was really funny. Before it was usually him fake-laughing along with the adults whenever we laughed at something, but this was something he decided was funny all on his own.

We finished The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. It was perfectly on his level. I read a list somewhere that said that was a grades 2-7 book, so I looked at the other books listed at that age level. For our next chapter book, I gave him a choice between Sir Pants and Sir Reddy (the one I wrote with him and Mom illustrated), The Mouse and the Motorcycle by Beverly Cleary, and Prince Caspian. He chose Sir Pants and Sir Reddy. Next time I may add Stuart Little to the choices. I know there are still some fantastic picture books out there for his level, so maybe we will save chapter books for bedtime and picture books for before rest time, or vice versa. Right now he is also enjoying How Do Dinosaurs Say I Love You? and the book I picked out for Nick, Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? so his range of book interests is very wide.

As for Nick, he is much happier these days. Instead of screaming and crying out in frustration, he is down to one short yell before he starts to help himself out. He can pull himself up and walk a little ways with no problem. Like Erik and I suspected, this skill has almost eliminated his discontent.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Baby's First Haircut

During Nick's bath this evening I snipped some hair for his first haircut ever. It was as piecemeal a job as you would expect from someone working solo on a pre-toddler in a bathtub, and I'm sure his dad will help me finish the job sometime soon. But it's cute. We did Xander's first haircut when he was 10 months old and used the clippers. He was a mini blonde G.I. Joe. Nick still has a little baby curl when his hair's wet, so mama's happy.

Erik, sorry I didn't wait for you if you wanted to be part of the first haircut. Nick took naps really early today, so I found myself with a three-hour stretch to bedtime and most of the usual things done. :-0

That last photo is intriguing, right? It's just fast hands in front of a wavy plastic strap of a lullaby music box. This is by far the best photograph I've gotten of Nick in a long time using the laptop.

Xander the paleontologist-to-be is watching a dinosaur special on TV.


Nick has been able to take one step on his own for a while now. Around Friday he started taking three steps in a row. By Sunday, he took six steps in a row, and then had tons of fun practicing all day long. He should be walking around by himself very soon.

He is four days away from being 11 months old, so he did reach this milestone before Xander. I wondered if he would or not. He seemed to have the skills sooner than Xander did, but he's more cautious than Xander was, so he wasn't in a hurry to move on to walking by himself. Xander started walking at 11 months--I don't remember what part of the month it was. ;)

In the same time frame, Xander decided he wants to be a paleontologist when he grows up. His aunt Leslie got into a conversation with him that prompted his new idea. Later when we went to visit friends, he told them his ambition. They even understood him after only two tries.