Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Nick's News

There has been so much about Xander lately. I feel like I need to refocus on what I want to be doing with Nick. And Nick has some news as of about ten minutes ago.

First, I left him buckled into his booster seat while I got a washcloth to wash him off, and he was fussing. Then a crash and lots of crying. He knows I have to do something with his buckles before I get him out and he must have learned what I do!!!! The buckles were unbuckled and he was on the floor, poor baby! But he didn't seem hurt, just mad and frightened, and he calmed down immediately when I put on Baby Signing Time.

When I was examining him, I found evidence of his other piece of news. A tooth is just poking through, a lateral incisor. His sixth. He's been acting like he's teething for months now, so this is a relief. Although who knows, there may be many more coming right behind it. He actually seems a little behind in getting his teeth.

This morning he threw up in independent playtime and I wondered if it had to with teething or if he was sick. We seem to have the answer now.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Xander's Reaction to the Dentist Visit

I should mention that Xander seemed calm after the x-rays and tooth brushing and flossing were over. For the doctor's part, just checking his teeth with mirror and scraper, he was fine. He got to choose a toy from their bin at the end and actually ended up with two small dinosaurs thanks to the kindness of the technician. That made him smile.

Xander's First Dentist Visit

Ugh, I have a nervous stomach after this visit. Xander, overall, probably feels better than I do, but he was quite nervous and half-crying during some parts of his visit. (The x-ray room and camera made him nervous and the water sprayer really bothered him for some reason. I think whenever he had to have something far back in his little mouth he felt scared.) The worst part is he will have to go back. He has cavities and tooth decay in between many of his (crowded) teeth.

For his procedure, they will use oral sedation, some laughing gas, and a protective net to keep the child straight in the chair! I hope this works to keep him calm and maybe not remember much of it, but I am feeling sick to my stomach just thinking of having to help put him in that chair. He will be fine, but will he think he's going to be fine?? The other part of my sick stomach is the cost! Even if our insurance pays for nearly everything, we will still have to pay over $200 for the sedation.

I have never had a cavity so any dental procedure at all sounds bad to me. Ugh. It has me thinking about Nick's visits in the future - and he's a thumb sucker. Sigh.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Being A Teacher

Xander came out of roomtime to see me on the computer wearing my glasses. These days, I wear my glasses about two times a year.

He said, "Nice glasses you got on."

I said, "Thank you."

He said, "You look like you are being a teacher. Are you?"

I didn't know the glasses-teacher stereotype was learned so young!

Thursday, August 26, 2010


Xander and I are reading a children's history of William Shakespeare. The author posed some questions that are at the foundation of his plays. Xander had his own answers for two out of the three.

I read, "What is life about?"


"How shall we act?"

Xander: "Good!"

"What must we do?"

"Fight in Narnia!"

My children have a lot of answers these days. In the back yard, Nick walked away from me but kept looking back with that knowing toddler expression that seems to say, "Do you understand what I am communicating to you? Let me try again until you can get it."

I said, "Bye-bye!" but he kept looking meaningfully at me.

So I said, "Are you coming back to me, Nick?"

He shook his head and said, "no," with a shy tone of voice. Then he moved with purpose to the slide.

I had an uncanny feeling the whole time that he was much older than 14 months.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

"Subscribe To" Option

I added a "Subscribe" option at the bottom of the page. This should allow anyone who would like to subscribe to this blog and receive notification of posts.

Arts and Other Stuff

Nick is in his booster seat with tray, coloring in a coloring book with his non-toxic washable crayons. Of the arts projects I've tried with him, this one is keeping him occupied longest!

The Mengs seem pretty settled into their new place and loving it. It sounds like a great neighborhood to live in with kids. Bailey has 4-year-old friends nearby. I always forget about this, but we should Skype with them soon!

Xander did not cry on the way home from school today so I think we're making progress. (The last two days he cried a little bit about wanting to bring his bag home from school and being hungry.) Not very big issues, just a display of him being tired out from school. I did bring him a chocolate milk when I went to pick him up today. So far, in terms of using his energy and intellectual and social capacity, school has been good for him. He slept well last night. I hope that is a sign of deeper sleep during this school year.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Playing His Part

I had to post this. Xander is playing in his room. It has taken over a year of working on it, but today he finished his snack and asked me politely, "Can I play with my robots in my room with my figures?" I nodded yes.

"For roomtime?"

I nodded.

"Until you come get me?"

I nodded. And did a dance of joy inside my head.

Then I heard him playing with those Transformers and figures of all kinds and sizes.

"And I go to sleep when my Mommy tells me to."

Another figure: "Oooooooooooohhhhhhhhhh!" (As in, oh, now I get it. Or maybe he was supposed to be impressed?)

Handy Erik

I mentioned how Erik put up our new ceiling fan and patched the roof and fixed Xander's closet door. After he fixed Xander's door, Xander was extremely impressed.

In the very most awe-struck voice, he said, "Mommy, did Daddy fix the ceiling fan and my door? Did you fix it, Daddy? Did it not take a long time? Wow!"


Had to buy another booster seat for Xander on the fly - since Erik was taking Xander to school and we only just then remembered that Erik would need his seat to drop him off and I would need it to pick him up! Luckily, Nick lasted through the two stores we had to go to with the help of Goldfish crackers, raisins, and water. He even made it happily past his normal naptime. Suddenly there is this flurry of activity all based around a 4-year-old's schedule! VPK meeting this Thursday night, coaches' meeting next Tuesday night, a school supply I can't find anywhere due this Monday...

It's fun, though. In the car on the way to find a booster seat, I thought how I have never been happier. Spending my days with little kids helps me focus on the real important things in life: eating, drinking, sleeping, love, communicating, laughing, and paying attention to the smallest things. I don't think anyone is as lucky as I am.

And I have to admit, it is a break in a way to have Xander at school each morning.

Monday, August 23, 2010

New Things For the Adults In Our Household

We also had several exciting things happen for me and Erik lately. We celebrated our sixth anniversary on Saturday. One of the nicest parts was putting the kids to bed early so we could just hang out and drink champagne and look at our wedding and honeymoon photo albums.

A lot of the other stuff just sounds like work, but Erik and I are very excited. Yesterday Erik put up our new bedroom ceiling fan. Now he will sleep happy. He also patched our roof and bought the parts to reattach part of Xander's closet door. I recently bought a new hand towel and bath mat along with some nice matching bath products. Also two hypoallergenic pillows, two pillowcases, and a cotton sheet set. And a working lamp, and a matching wastepaper basket. All boring, all needed, and all things that we normally would not buy for ourselves.

I went for a run with Nick in the jogging stroller today while Xander was at school! It was a little hard, and a lot muggy, but I cannot believe I now have the freedom to run every day if I want to!!

New Schedule

Awwwwwww, I just checked in on Xander in rest time. He hasn't been sleeping for it lately and in fact I preferred him not to so that he could go to sleep better at night. He's fast asleep. I thought his school day might wear him out.

Nick is also completely 100% silent in his room. Our new fall schedule is wearing them out.


First Day of School

Even though Xander has gone to one-morning-a-week preschool for over a year, I count today as his First Day of School. He will start going every single day, and it's a public program, and he actually needs school supplies!! So it's really school now.

Here he is before driving off to his first day at the new school:

His school supplies at Wal-Mart cost us $22! I wasn't expecting that. But I love school and supplies and so does he, so we are happy. He got a pack of crayons, a pack of markers, a big ol' plastic-covered binder, Clorox wipes, kleenex, and he will be getting a Primary Journal composition book - the kind that leaves the top half of the page for drawing and the bottom half lined for writing. I am excited about what he will learn this year! And of course, me being me, I will be doing plenty with him as well. We are already practicing writing, reading, and social studies, along with all the reading aloud I like to do with him. Oh, and he will be doing sports.

I volunteered to coach his team after their second call for volunteers. I'm a little nervous about it but I also think it will be fun. There will be six or fewer boys on the team. Let's hope boys at that age don't mind a female coach.

I've got to go - lots to do!

Friday, August 20, 2010

Need More Sleep-y

Xander is learning some ways of dealing with his emotions. When he was recently sad, he told me he knew what to do: sit and count to seven and then he would feel better. He did! Yesterday he was angry at me for singing something the wrong way, so he asked me to say "what comes first" and then he would count to three. I said, "Take a deep breath, in, out," and then he counted to three and showed me he felt happy.

This morning we were doing a reading lesson and he began to whine and cry in the middle of it. After many warnings, I carried him off to bed, saying, "Whining and crying means you are tired." When he quieted down, I asked him if he was ready to continue. He said no, he was going to stay in bed longer and sleep.

Nick is having one of those days, too. But poor thing, part of it might be because we've run out of milk and I can't run to the store to get more with two kids needing to be in bed. :) I put Nick down to nap early. Perhaps Mommy should do the same. At least a shower!

Grandma Bonnie is coming sometime today on her way to her new contract job in New York. Cadbury the puppy is coming with her. Hopefully the kids will be better rested by then. Xander is looking forward to it.

We got to Skype with my brother (Uncle Jeff) yesterday since he was visiting Minnesota with some friends. I am sure we bored his friends mightily with showing what Nick can do, and how many stuffed dogs Xander has.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Sleep Times

Tried keeping Nick up longer before naps today. He's been needing more sleep rather than less for the last couple weeks, maybe due to teething. I don't know. But we all went for a walk this morning which made it easier to keep him until 10:00, then put him down for morning nap.

After that was lunch and outside time and "school" playtime for both boys together. I tried getting my household tasks done with them, but Nick yells when I go out of his sight and seemed pretty upset, so I let him watch Baby Signing Time on my lap. He is raring to go with talking and signing, so hopefully he will remember some of those signs. Then he went to nap at 2:00. All is silence now.

Xander has been sleeping better at night when he doesn't fall asleep during rest time, so today I allowed him to just look at three books on his bed before he gets to play in his room with his toys.

As for Mommy's rest times... Actually, for some reason both boys have been (easily) sleeping in until 7:30 most mornings, and I've moved my shower to Nick's morning naptime, so I get to sleep in until 7:00. Hurray! It makes quite a difference.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010


We are having a lull of a week. After some hustle and bustle getting Xander in and out of VPK programs, finishing up the Letter of the Week curriculum with Xander, and considering other big ventures, I find that we don't absolutely HAVE to do anything this week. It's very nice.

The big ventures we were considering:

1. Giving Xander a choice between participating in soccer, swim lessons, martial arts, skateboarding, or roller skating. He really emphatically wanted to skateboard. We thought the 4-year-old soccer league would be good for him. So Erik made an executive decision. Status: We pulled out Xander's old knee and elbow pads and bike helmet and told him we would be looking for a skateboard to buy for him. Then we signed him up for soccer, which starts in three weeks. It will most likely be one practice and one game per week, with very kid-friendly rules.

2. Watching our neighbors' baby when she is born, full-time. Status: We finally decided that although it would be possible, we don't need to do it, and therefore we are not going to put the additional strain on the family.

3. Getting Xander a pet sometime soon. We thought about turtles or pocket pets. I don't think we plan to make a decision soon. Status: There's no rush!

Xander now has these things on his plate:

1. He starts everyday VPK in one week.

2. He has his first dental appointment ever in two weeks. (Not happy about it, either.)

3. He starts soccer in three weeks.

Nick now has these things on his plate:

1. Mommy is slowly, slowly potty training him.

2. He better have molars or incisors brewing, or else I don't know what to make of his unhappiness and fatigue!

3. Learning more words. He is always trying to communicate with us now. The gibberish he spouts is real language to him. It's going to come pretty fast.

Monday, August 16, 2010

After I Made Those Chocolate Chip Cookies

After I made those chocolate chip cookies last week, I set a couple of them on a plate at Xander's place with a cup of milk. I didn't say anything. When Xander noticed them, he gasped (of course), and ran to find me. He gave me a big hug.

The Future Paleontologist Should Not Turn To Zoology, and Head Hugs

Xander had his last day at La Petite this morning. We picked up the things he still had in his cubby, including his La Petite picture, and handed out cards he had made for Ms. Nicosha, Ms. Crystal, Ms. Roxanne, Ms. Diana, Ms. Donna, Senaia, Darius, and Jerniya. It was sad for me because it was his first real experience outside the home and he enjoyed it so much. It is all thanks to Grandma Bonnie because we would not have been able to send him to any preschool without her.

To bring us out of the sentimental mode, I will report that Ms. Nicosha told me he killed a frog today. He told me that he had found a frog and that Ms. Nicosha killed it and that he helped it to live by putting a leaf on it, which "was nice to my friend." I'm afraid we are going to have to work on truth-telling with him. That or how to try to catch live things without smashing them. Or both.

Nick is still acting clingy, irritable, and sleepy. Very interesting. In between those things he is incredibly cute and fun. He doesn't like people to kiss or hug him but he is very cuddly if you put your head up to his and give him kind of a "head hug." He likes Xander's hugs, which are very close to being head hugs anyway.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Library Day

We went to Xander's last Preschool Storytime today, at least until next summer. He will be busy going to pre-k every day in two weeks and won't be able to make Preschool Storytime.

He had a great time playing a game with sharks, dolphins, and blue mats. He and the other kids "made waves" to scare away the dolphins and toss them off the mat. I guess the sharks were the good guys, since he came out with a small paper shark to play with.

Nick did well except for a small outburst of crying in the library and another in the car. He wanted more raisins. He plays well and carefully in the play area of the children's section. There is a huge dragon hanging from the children's section ceiling, up so high that I wouldn't except very young kids to notice it. Today he pointed it out to me.

Xander is now listening to his Smithsonian Oceanic Institute audiobooks. It's been a while since he wanted to, but he's been enjoying the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle audiobook during lunchtime. I have to be on watch for what he takes from that book, since one of the chapters was titled "The Slow-Eater-Tiny-Bite-Taker Cure." He doesn't need to learn any tricks from that particular little boy!

I am off to make some chocolate chip cookies before snack time.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

I Am A Princess And That's Not Silly

Xander loves to make funny noises at the table to make Nick laugh. Today he remarked to me that, "Nick thinks everything is silly."

Then he said, "Nick, I am a princess."

It was true. He was wearing my skirt apron and a frilly pillowcase I helped him clothespin around his neck so he could be a princess while he was doing his chores. I think he got the idea from Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle.

Then I heard, "Nick, that's not silly. I am a princess and that's not silly."

Xander sounded truly dismayed.

Monday, August 9, 2010

My Vacation

I went on a road trip this past weekend. By myself! I drove five hours south to visit my good friend Charity and her husband and Erik stayed with the kids. I don't say "stayed home with the kids" because it sounds like they traveled quite a bit too! On Saturday they went to an arts festival for lunch and play (there were clowns) and on Sunday they drove to Gainesville to visit two friends and go to the Butterfly Museum. The kids looked happy and worn out when they came home from that trip. I had beaten them home on Sunday by about an hour.

I learned just how young Xander sounds when you talk to him on the phone. Then when I got home again they both looked older to me. Go figure.

It was a great break for me and it all worked out nicely for Erik and the boys.

Friday, August 6, 2010

"Girls Only Want Boyfriends Who Have Great Skills"

Xander and I have a sort of ritual when I read aloud to him. Every time I get to the end of a chapter, I say, "End of the chapter." Every single time, in exactly the same way, Xander says, "What chapter will be next?" Then I read the number and title of the next chapter.

Today I let Xander try to cut all by himself in his cutting book while I was on the phone with Johanna. I came back to find that he can do every step of each cutting exercise with no help whatsoever. It's encouraging, because he hasn't had much practice with that until lately.

It is much too early to analyze our kids for their talents, but we are very tempted to do it anyway: Xander is our scientific and academic one, full of curiosity, intelligence, and imagination. He has great visual-spatial skills. I am even more impressed by them because 1) I don't have them and 2) I teach him a lot of academic and literary skills with not very much time spent on anything else. He can look at visual instructions and follow them without anyone saying a thing - I've seen this with different sets of blocks and the cutting book.

Nick seems to be athletic and verbal, although for him it is MUCH, MUCH too early to jump to conclusions. He loves being outside and often asks to go out. He loves throwing and kicking balls. He imitates people and sounds very accurately and speaks and signs much more easily than Xander did.

Other than those things, they are so very similar! They like to do the same things, have the same sense of humor, and they have physically developed in a similar way.

Thursday, August 5, 2010


I was reading Nick books today, and asked "Where is the ____?" and he pointed right to it and said, "Deh!" - TWICE! For different books! I was excited, and so was Nick. His face lights up when he realizes he's getting through to me.

 He also went pee in the potty!

I discovered his sign for "potty" yesterday. It's actually waving his hand, which is going to get really confusing, so I'm trying to correct it. But I just have to look for that now.

We have found a different school for Xander for his free pre-kindergarten. Unfortunately, the center he's been going to for over a year is suddenly closing. Maybe it will turn out to be good fortune. We found a place that's two blocks from Erik's building, nicer, has a better rating for kindergarten readiness, with really friendly kids and a playground on the beautiful downtown segment of the St. John's River. The director seems really flexible. They have a nice, big pre-k room with a pet fish. A pet fish is no big deal, except that La Petite never had any sort of pet for the kids.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

One-On-One Dates

A couple of weeks ago, Erik took Xander on an all-day canoe trip for a Daddy-Xander date. They ran into a few adventures, including a missing little girl and not catching up with Erik's friends either at the beginning of the trip or at the end. Xander did not agree that they were adventures, though, because they did not fit his idea of kids' adventures. He told me several times that there was green water and orange water and he played with kids. There was an alligator that crossed immediately in front of their boat. Erik reports that Xander was not at all afraid.

The next weekend I took him on our first official Mommy-Xander date. Xander chose where to go, and it was Steak 'n Shake. He knew all along that he wanted a mint chocolate chip shake after his dinner. The highlights for me were:

1. He read "mint" off the menu.
2. He thanked me twice without any prompting.
3. I had an opportunity to listen to his mealtime chattering without trying to get him to be quiet and eat.

The highlights for Xander were:

1. The cardboard car that they give all kids.
2. And the cook's hat.
3. And the two crayons that were included.
4. And the green mint chocolate chip shake with whipped cream and cherry. "The ice cream, I hadded the ice cream that I choosed for myself."

Alphabet Party

Xander and I have been using www.letteroftheweek.com for a long time now, and we finished "Z" week last week. The suggestion is to have an alphabet party when you finish, so we did!

Thanks to Xander, our dining room table is decorated with alphabet blocks. We still have up the windsock he made for "W" week.

This morning, almost as soon as the kids woke up, we went to the beach to meet Cheri and JT. It was a lot of fun and a nice time of day to be there. We saw a real live fishing boat, seagulls, sandpipers, surfers, and seashells. We also saw waves, just like when we went to the beach for "W" week.

When we got home, Xander colored a big alphabet banner that I made, and we hung it in the dining room. After lunch, we made these Ladybug Strawberries from www.learningdevelopmentactivities.com:


After that, we read books. Nick wanted Berenstains' A Book and Xander put together the alphabet puzzle in the My Playtime ABC book. Then Nick went into independent playtime to play with foam ABCs and his Leap Frog alphabet magnet toy and I re-gave Xander his Bob Books set, wrapped up with a bow. I told him the reason I was giving it to him again was that I knew that now he could read all of them. And he can! He is still on the slow side, but faster than before and much more confident. This is what he said after reading the first few Bob Books:

"I need to read some more. Whoa! Another Dot book! Some more Dot books?"

One of the longest sentences he read all by himself was:

"The bag had a tag."

Then Xander wrapped up some gift bows for Nick to open. Nick's favorite!

For his rest time, I am letting him watch one of the story videos that Aunt Judith and Uncle Bob and family gave the boys for Christmas: Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, which includes Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, Wild About Books, Five Creatures, Inch by Inch, Blueberries for Sal, A Story, A Story, and Millions of Cats. We read three of those books during letter weeks. :)

Erik was pretty impressed when Xander read the title of one of his Wonder Pets episodes, "The Wonder Pets Save the Unicorn." He knew which word was unicorn, and he even corrected what he had originally said, "the baby unicorn," because he saw that it did not really say that.

Tonight or tomorrow, depending on when I finish it, I will give Xander the book I'm making of all the things we did for each of our letter weeks. Most of the pages include the theme words on index cards, the color of the week, a nursery rhyme or poem, and a list of the different activities we did. Some of them include a colored country map or animal or story illustration.