Sunday, February 22, 2015

Visitors

My parents came to visit last weekend (yay!)  We were all so excited to see them and show them our new house.  Because of my mom's accident last September, they hadn't been able to make the trip.  It did mean we got extra time in Portland (I think we went three times between September and December), but we were all anxiously awaiting them visiting us.

It was such a fun weekend -- even though we mostly just hung around our house and neighborhood.  Eric got lots of yard work done (there is a lot of yard to tackle at this place), we played games, enjoyed a couple of evening fires, went on walks in our neighborhood (to the ice rink, park, and farmer's market), hung out in the newly carpeted playroom, made a bunch of meals, and just hung out.  This house is a great house for entertaining and for having guests. 

Alden loved that my dad would pick him up and walk him around the neighborhood.  Alden loves being outside.  Kailey loved having people around who are willing to play with her non-stop. 

And, my mom bought two amazing gifts for them -- a mermaid costume for Kailey and a hand-made alphabet book for Alden.  These are both masterpieces.  Kailey is so amazed at the things my mom can create and cannot wait to learn how to sew and create gowns and costumes herself.



Having Eric's mom here over the holidays and my parents here this last weekend makes our house start to feel like home.  It was a great weekend.  None of us wanted them to leave.  Luckily, they'll be back for Alden's birthday festivities (!! he's going to be one -- how is that possible already?!) at the end of the month.  And, while I told myself we don't have to go all out on his birthday the way we have with Kai over the years (particularly since last year we broke the mold and were pretty low-key), we seem to have already failed to lower expectations... we've invited 115 people to his party (which is doubling as a housewarming party).

Here's to making our house into a home!

Communicating

As with Kailey before him, we've been trying to teach Alden how to sign for months.  It's clear that Alden is increasingly understanding language.  When we talk about "Abby" or the "cat", he looks around for her making the high pitched "AHH" that he uses to identify her.  He LOVES Abby.  Somehow, despite her 19 years, she tolerates his poking and attempts at affection which, more often than not, result in her tail being pulled or her ears being pinched.  She is such a good cat.  Except, she's decided the upstairs playroom makes a good litter box.  Now that we finally got that room carpeted, we have to remember to keep the door shut so that she cannot get in there. 

Anyway, I digress.  Alden and language.  What I'm trying to say is, he understands many words.  I know he understands what I'm saying when I say "milk", "eat", "Kailey", "daddy", "Will", "outside", "ball", "cat", and "paci".  He also clearly understands "no" and, for the moment, will stop what he's doing when you say, "no!"  Usually, he also bursts into tears.  But, the point is, he stops. 

And, he also understands how to get a reaction out of us.  He knows, for example, that Eric and I are both worry-warts about him choking while he eats.  So, he delights in stuffing his mouth full of food and then coughing.  I'm doing my best to ignore him, but he knows it gets me.  I can tell by the glimmer in his eye and the sly smile he gets after each "coughing" fit. 

And, he is even attempting the occasional sign.  Really he just does the sign for milk or he uses his pointer finger to direct us to what he wants.  But, he has attempted to use his hands to indicate other words -- he's just not doing it correctly yet.

He uses the milk sign correctly many times -- as he knows that it means milk.  But, he also seems to think it means "more", too.  The other day when I was feeding him I kept asking him if he wanted more while signing the word at the same time.  He would raise his hand and sign "milk" in return.  I would correct him and put both of my hands together and say, "more".  He'd look at me expectantly and sign "milk".  I would manipulate his hands for him (which he actually lets us do occasionally), and then give him more.  Then we'd start again.  After a few rounds, I said, "Alden, both hands!"  In response, he held up his hand to sign milk and then held up his other hand and opened and closed them in unison.  The double fisted milk sign.  I laughed and gave him more. 

Last night I was trying again and, rather than signing "more", he started swiping his hand across his face.  I copied him, which he thought was the funniest thing he ever saw.  He quickly swiped his hand against his face again, and I copied.  He cracked up.  We did that for about 10 minutes.  It was hilarious. 

I hope all this means signing will be coming soon.  He clearly gets how to imitate and he understands that the hand motions mean things -- usually milk.  Sometimes more!

I know Kai didn't really take off with signing until she was about 15 months (13 adjusted) -- so, he seems to be in that same zone.  Alden uses the whine so very effectively that I doubt he really sees the need for more sophisticated communication -- but, we're hoping to replace the whine and the shout with a quieter form of communication soon.

And, just for fun, I leave you with Alden enjoying the swings at the park down the street from our house (this house, I really am starting to love it)

Little Dribblers

Kailey is on a basketball team through school this year.  I love how her school coordinates so many of the activities on site.  It really is a school made for working parents!  The coaches are two of the dads of other 1st graders and they have practice once a week at school (during the afterschool camp program) -- so, we don't have to pick her up and get her somewhere.  The games are against other private schools on Saturdays.  The 1st grade girls always play at 1 PM, so it's easy to remember. 

Better than all that, Kailey has really enjoyed it.  The first game was a bit of a disaster, so we were really not sure if she was going to take to it.  She had been having fun at the practices with her friends leading up to the first game, but she was wholly unprepared for the audience, the buzzer, and the other team when it came to game time.  She watched the 2nd grade boys - who play at noon - for a few minutes leading up to their game and promptly burst into tears and started yelling, "I'm not going to do this." 

I basically played along that game.  Walking up and down the court with her, while she clung to my leg.  It was fun. 

After that game, in typical Kailey style, she had a chance to process the whole thing.  She talked to us about how she hated the buzzer and people watching her.  We got her ready for the next game, even getting them to forego the buzzer (it's really unnecessary at this age!) She did great in her second game and has improved every game since then.

Kai has a hard time getting the ball to the hoop, given her size.  But, she's determined and over the course of the season has perfected the granny shot!  Observe:


Her principal commented to us the other day how much he likes to watch Kailey play because she's so focused and determined.  I love how she overcomes challenges -- whether it be fear of playing in front of an audience or the challenge of how to get a basketball up so high when one is on the small side.  One thing about Kailey, she always finds a way.

Monday, February 9, 2015

VIdeo Update

Since I've been so delinquent in posting in this space, I thought I'd just post a few videos from the last month.

First up, Kailey LOVES ice skating.  She's been taking lessons at our local rink (we have a local rink... it's walking distance to the house!)  She asks to go every weekend on the days when there is no lesson and begs to stay at the end of each lesson.  She's made quick progress.  This video is from her first class -- and they had them skating backwards!



Alden LOVES eating.  He doesn't like baby food.  If it comes out of a pouch, he generally rejects it.  Unless, of course, Will is eating it (Will is the baby that comes for our nanny share).  He'll eat Will's baby food.  But, otherwise, no baby food.  So far he hasn't found a regular food he doesn't like (although, the orange our nanny gave him disagreed with him... he got terrible diaper rash).  He also just enjoys mealtime.  Observe:



Finally, Alden is sort of, kind of getting signs down.  He can do the milk sign, but he signs it for "milk" and for "more" and also as a way of getting our attention.  If you ask him to say "milk", he'll do the sign.  But, if you ask him to say "more", he'll sign "milk" but look at his other hand as if to say, "what is it that I'm supposed to do with this other hand?"  It's funny.  I have to remind myself that Kai was quite a bit older than Alden before she took off with the signing.  Sometimes it's hard to remember that Alden is only 10 months old -- since he's in the clothes Kai work from 18 months - 2 years!!   Here's Alden saying hello:


What a Difference a Year (and a School) Makes

As I've said before, Kailey is having a great school year.  The troubles from last year seem far away.  And, honestly, it's not that Kailey is a totally different person.  Yes, she's learned a lot about how to manage her frustration.  But, she still gets frustrated.  In fact, I did hear about an incident at school where she poked another kid in the ribs.  She got in trouble for it and had to sit out of recess for a little bit.  More importantly, it was used not as an opportunity to shame her but to talk about her feelings, how to handle frustration, and she was recognized for positive behavior later that very same day.  Addressing the negative, rewarding the positive and helping kids make good choices... isn't that what it's all about?

Other than the one poke, I think Kailey doesn't resort to physical aggression anymore (thank goodness!)  Although, she does find more sophisticated ways of dealing with her frustration at others.  For example, she started a school wide spy club to spy on another girl that was being mean to her.  Spying is better than hitting -- but, not much.  So, we spent a long time talking about that one -- how it's not nice to single out others, how she would feel if others spied on her, and how even when someone hurts your feelings she has to figure out how to talk it out and resolve it rather than retaliating.  We also talked to the other parents, who we've become friends with.  And we talked to her teacher and the after school coordinator.  Which I guess shows that we are more on top of things this year, too.

Despite a few missteps, Kailey has had very few issues at school.  In fact, this last week, she was recognized at the school wide assembly for her conflict resolution skills.  Her teacher recognized her and one other girl (the girl, in fact, that Kai had the brief run-in with that prompted the spy club).  She said that they both excelled at resolving conflicts in a positive manner and using "velvet" words (words that make you feel good) as opposed to "sandpaper" words (words that are rough). 

I felt like sending Mr. Thompson an email letting him know that Kai was getting an award in conflict resolution . But, I didn't.  Mostly, I was just proud at how far she's come and how hard she's working.  And, also, so very happy we are at a school that lets kids shine and be celebrated despite the occasional misstep.