Friday, August 31, 2012

Four Years Old


Four!?  Yes Ace has had a wonderful fourth year on this planet and I couldn't be more proud of him.    He started out his fourth year in Mississippi and it comes to a close back in the NW.   He's quite the U.S. traveler! When we last checked in with Ace he was as busy as ever.  No slowing down since then.  :)

New things for his fourth year:   Potty trained (day and night!),  fully independent and sleeping through the night after we say good night (YAY! HOORAY!! REJOICING!!!), a *big* boy bed, first professional haircut, first filling, and preschool!

Yes, the Monday after he turned 3 I told him that all the diapers disappeared.  I prepped him all of August, made it a big exciting deal that potty training full force was happening and it was.   He of course did great.  Early progress can be read about here.  Overall, he's done great.  In January I decided that he had done so well with the night time pullups (I couldn't remember the last time he had peed in one in weeks and weeks) and so I told him when they ran out they were all gone.  They ran out the beginning of February and we've not had one accident.    A fully potty trained and self-sufficient pottier is what we have now!  Hooray.  Hopefully this marks the end of toilet talk for our eldest son! :)

In general I am in awe at how smart Ace truly is.  He uses sentences like "Actually mom if given a choice, I choose to do this because it seems like the best choice."  or "I just assumed we would be there shortly and that was why I made the decision not to take a nap in the car."  I know adults that aren't that articulate!  He is a sponge for language and words.   Every now and then he still has something just ever so off in his vocabulary or phrasing.   Our dog he calls "Pixeled", he still refers to yogurt as logurt.  It drives his father crazy because it is true Ace when pressed will properly call it yogurt, I find it endearing and cling to the shred of toddler he ever had in the first place when it comes to language.   My favorite misstep in language though has to be the dirty hamster.  I nearly die laughing every time he says it and since it's not a regularly discussed topic in our house I forget about it and it makes it all that much more funny... because honestly how often does one talk about the dirty clothes hamper?  hehe dirty hamster!  I love it! :)   He often thinks faster than his words coming out of his mouth and so this leads to a jumbled repetition of the early phrase of whatever his sentence is while he works out the rest of his thoughts.   Patience is key in these moments, but sometimes we have him stop and think and then speak.  :)

Ace has such a kind heart and it only continues to grow.  He has great patience for his sister - in spite of her right on track status of a younger sibling.   Don't get me wrong they still have struggle wars over non-sharing,  he still gets frustrated when his sister hits him, stands in his way of tv, etc.. but on the grand scheme of things he is quite the loving brother.   He is good to share with other kids in school, church, and play dates - yet doesn't let himself get bullied either.    He has a kind heart toward 'other kids' that are in need and is generous at giving away toys to others.   A sign perhaps he has too many toys himself, but I've known plenty of kids that have too many and still don't want to share with the less fortunate.  If I have to choose one I'll take the kind hearted motivation.   I think one of my favorite things is that on Loving Husband's birthday Ace came running in the moment he woke up and said 'Happy Birthday, Dad!' and then ran off to go potty (typically the first thing he does every morning.)  It was so sweet!  Made me smile, and I'm sure it made his dad smile too.    He is very good at giving positive feedback to others as well.   We were coloring something the other day (he, myself, and his sister) and he was quite the motivator.  "You're doing a great job, mom!  That looks really nice.  Sister's is very pretty too!"  I of course returned the compliment on his fine work as well.    

In this last year Ace has gone through waves of gratefulness and ungratefulness.  It's a learning curve for sure between entitlement and appreciation.    We had a few bumps but for the most part Ace is very quick to tell me thank you and to show me that he appreciates the things and activities that I do for him.  Loving Husband tends to get a shorter end of that stick and we're not entirely sure why other than maybe Ace doesn't feel he needs to provide as much feedback to his dad.  It's a current existing question mark as we trudge into Year FIVE.

Ace is growing!   In this last year he has gained 3lbs and grown 2.5" topping off at 32lbs and 39.5" in the charts.  The end of spring was met with a huge growth spurt that resulted in the need for new shoes.  The others made it about nine months.  Not bad.  :)  In all this growth somewhere along the way his car bed just became impractical!   Every night we'd hear him thumping his arm, leg, head, hand... everything on the side of that small toddler bed.   The next morning he'd complain my ___ hurts.  Poor kid was beating himself up!  So we knew we needed to upgrade.  I looked at a twin but figured that width wise and his star-fish sleeping habits that it wouldn't last long either and so we jumped head first into a full-size bed!  Yep my giant 3.5 year old now slept in this bed that made him look tiny... and I loved it!   He still looks pretty small once again after another summer growth spurt but that first night or so he looked utterly tiny to me and I cherished it!   Sleeping through the night has been in full swing most of this past year - but around 3.5 he was in massive stall before bed mode.   Thankfully as a general rule that has been eliminated and he is pretty easy to put to bed.   Napping is about 70/30 these days with 70% of the time no nap occurring.  For the most part I'd say he still NEEDS the nap but he avoids it and I don't push it unless it's dire.   I suspect in a few months they will cease entirely.

Ace started preschool in January.  We waited until January since our return from Mississippi landed smack in the fall semester and we didn't want to just throw him in right when we returned.  We wanted to ease him back into the NW and give him a good start in preschool.   Overall it was a great experience for his 2 days a week half day program.   He made one really good friend and the two of them started on the same day.  Ace loved school, being able to take a toy to show and tell on a few occasions, being the "special leader" and doing the music program there.   It was so great to attend my first Mother's Day program and his first graduation!   This mommy couldn't be more proud to watch my son sing (and squirm) on stage and sing to us. 

As far as favorite things goes his dad ranks #1 for sure.   He always wants to know where he is, when is he coming home, when is it the weekend and he's STAYING home?  It's adorable.   He has declared that his favorite song "is that one that says 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger' you know that one that girl sings"  Yes, it's true Ace's favorite song is Stronger by Kelly Clarkson at the moment. :)  A favorite series of phrases he's been on a roll with lately have been along these lines  "Sometimes I like to do stuff with just you, me and sister; and sometimes I like to do things with just me and you; and sometimes I like to do things just me and dad... yah."  He alters the the order, the coupling of people, etc but he always seems to say it in this soft and sweet voice sometimes with his head tilted and his eyes squinted.   It's adorable.    I also love his phrase "That's so sweet of you."    Ace is a people pleaser and is always trying to make those around him happy.   As I've said he has a very kind heart!

It's been a great fourth year for our little man.   He's kind, sweet, nervous at times, strong willed, opinionated, and full of energy and we love it all.  I love that he's so aware, engaged, and loves his family.    He loves to do 'something special'  nearly every day and as a mommy I try my best to find fun activities that create lasting memories, lessons, and excitement.   I can't wait to see what year five has for us!!!




1. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE T. V. SHOW? Jake and the Neverland Pirates and Meeeee (said singing.)

2. WHAT DID YOU HAVE FOR BREAKFAST?  (Skipped this question as we were still in bed and had yet to have breakfast and I wanted him to focus and finish... mentioning breakfast would have not worked in my favor.)

3. WHAT IS YOUR MIDDLE NAME? He repeated his whole name (No just your middle one.) I don't know.

4. FAVORITE FOOD? Apples.

5. WHAT FOOD DO YOU DISLIKE? Avocado.

6. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE COLOR? Black

7. FAVORITE LUNCH?  Apples (Seriously, what else?) Peanut butter and jelly (Hmm maybe I should make that more as I can't recall anytime recently that I made it.)

8. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING TO DO? Go out with my dad.

9. IF YOU COULD GO ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD ON VACATION, WHERE WOULD YOU GO? The owl park! (said with enthusiasm and it a park near our house, sounds like a cheap vacation and same vacay as last year.)

10. FAVORITE SPORT? Soccer.

11. WHEN IS YOUR BIRTHDAY? August 24th!!!!!

12. ARE YOU A MORNING PERSON OR A NIGHT PERSON? A daytime to person that loves to eats apples.

13. PETS: Yah, Pixel.

14. ANY NEW AND EXCITING NEWS YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE WITH US? Um... I don't know.  We don't really have that kind of stuff.  You guys do but I don't know I don't... I mean my birthday is exciting!

15. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO BE WHEN YOU GROW UP ? I don't know yet.  I just don't know yet. (An improvement from last year where 'nothing' often was the winning 'choice' for a profession.)

16. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CANDY? Blueberries!!!! (That's not a candy) The red things that are in red packages. (Skittles?) Oh yah Skittles. (He hasn't had them in months, but sure why not.)

17. WHERE IS THE FURTHEST YOU'VE EVER BEEN FROM HOME? Mississippi!

18. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE BOOK? The King and His Six Friends  (He and his dad do read this one together.)

19. WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?  I don't know... spending time with you?  (I'm not looking for a RIGHT answer but that's sweet.)

20. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MOVIE?  The Avengers with dad (He hasn't actually seen the movie - he just watches episodes of the cartoon with his father.  But in general  he has abandoned movies a lot in place of many many episodes of a variety of tv programs)

21. WHICH CAME FIRST, THE CHICKEN OR THE EGG? I don't know... The chicken... or the egg.  The chicken came out of an egg and grew up into a chicken. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Nineteen Months old

Mommy's GalMae this month has really expanded her vocabulary.  Including her first phrase of "Hep me!" (Help me!)  It started out as one word but I think she now recognizes that it is two words.   I have since lost track of every new word she has but some of my favorites whether new or old are:  Luv you,  tick-all (tickle), Pix-uhl (Pixel), and Mommy! 

New things for Mae in her 19th month:  her first ice cream - which now she asks for regularly "creeeam... bowl... taebull(table)"  It's cute and watching her eat the sticky mess was a lot of fun too!

She sings in church, loves to dance when there is music on, folds her hands to pray - and constantly say 'more' when any of it ends because she always wants more singing, dancing, and praying.   I  love it! 

She LOVES her brother and wants to do everything he does.  He makes her laugh and she is pretty good to not bother him TOO much.   Mae loves to do school just as much as her brother and we sit at the dining room table with her in her high chair and do school all together.  :)

Mae is still itty bitty in size but she's feeling heavier and I'm  happy for that that she's growing!  She LOOKS bigger and as of today (even though I'm woefully late on posting her 19 month blog!)  She was 18lbs and 1oz!  Hooray!   She also has had seven weeks of totally healthy and I'm so thankful that we've avoided any summer colds!!

This past month has also been an experience with tantrums.  Mae also has received a few more time outs this month.  A time out for Mae is in the Pack-N-Play.  Since she sleeps in her bed or our bed, the PnP is really only for TOs.   She's nearly 2 now so the time out is 2 minutes.   On one venture to the pnp she decided to strip all her clothes off in protest.   Silly girl... a few days later she upped the atte and stripped off the diaper too and then fell asleep.  lol.   She was out cold and so I was able to put a new diaper on her before any accidents occurred but oh my!    Never a dull moment!!!

I cannot believe that we're rapidly approaching her second birthday.   With the holidays looming that milestone will arrive even more quickly!    She's a joy and SO happy! She wakes up with her BIG EYES and just smiles as bright as the sun.   She still loves her mama milk and to snuggle next to me all night.    Can't wait to see what is next for her!

Mae recently has been able to recognize TWO of something and can hold up two finger - she often wants TWOOOOOO crackers.   She can count two things.. although not ... 1, 2... just look at it and say TWO!  Very happy with a giant smile.  :) 

Mae's teeth count of fully in teeth is 5, but she's got 3 more broken through and descending rapidly, one of those being a molar.  The other molars are just about to break through and we're looking forward to that so that she can enjoy eating more variety in foods with better ease!    Eating wise she does ok - still eats like a bird many meals but then at other times we're wondering where on earth she's putting it!  Quite the adventure!!

Friday, August 24, 2012

Happy Birthday, Ace!

I can't believe you're four!   More to come... but for now mommy needs to sleep!  I have a monsterous list of things to accomplish before your Monster Party in roughly 14 hours!  I love you!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Ten on Ten - August

I cannot believe that it is August!   Where did the time go!?  I'm happy to report that my 10 on 10 is late being posted because THIS mommy actually got out of the house for a girl's night!   And I didn't get home until after 1am!  HoOrAy!!!    On another note -- a Happy Birthday shout out to Kaylee and Ethan! 


Ace helped with this edit - he really likes the heat map edits, but I reigned him in some for this one. :)

Mae requested I do her hair and then promptly pulls it out to look at it.  Rinse and repeat all day long. :)


With kids fully engaged into totally educationally mind stimulating activities ::cough a movie:: 
mommy continued to edit the first birthday shoot that I did.  




4pm mommy finally gets a shower!

back from berry picking with dad the children play (?) outside.

Last  shot of the day before mommy gets outta dodge and goes free!!!
Ten on Ten over at A Bit of Sunshine!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Summer Time with Toddlers!

I love that my kids are at an age to enjoy an activity - sometimes for great stretches of time even!   So while my blog has been pretty dern quiet this summer - don't fret lots of fun is going on!  Need a sampling?   Lots of ideas for you to enjoy with kids of all ages coming up!

SLIME
This activity from creation until it was time to eat lunch kept him in one place, entertained and fully engaged for over 90 minutes.  He probably could have gone longer, but his father had brought home lunch and so he reluctantly put it all away.   I got the recipe from our slime at Tot Treasures.  I got my liquid starch online at Walmart with shipping of only $0.97!


It was more sticky in the beginning but eventually worked itself together into almost rubber ball texture. 
Stored in a ziplock, the next day it was a bit stickier, but after working it again was back to 'normal' :)

ROADWORK 
Yes, playing with oatmeal is a huge hit in our house!  Break out the splat mat and go to town.  This time I dropped in a set of Cat trucks (they sell them at Target/Walmart/BRU for about $6) and while they played I had Ace attempt to follow the 'directions' in the book Roadwork.  The book is chalk full of onomatopoeia that are fun to listen to.  Ace was very patient when his sister was anything but a helper on the building part - she did great with demolition though!
 

On a different day we broke out the black beans and playdough to read through the same book and build different roads.
PAINTING

I recently invested in Colorations Liquid Watercolors and some blotter bottles (bingo markers?) and I absolutely LOVE these paints.   It doesn't take much paint to go far and even if gets all over them and they look like they'll be permanently stained - give them a bucket of water (or a bath) and they're squeaky clean without any scrubbing.    We've made several signs for birthdays, welcome homes, and the one below was the one they worked on for the 4th of July!

FIREWORKS!
Yes, what summer is complete without them!  This year Ace was super excited to be able to light some of his own.  Mae enjoyed a little action with her father, but for the most part was a sideline observer.   Overall it was a nice quiet 4th of July and while it was chilly - Ace's coat is a bit overkill, but he seemed happy enough. 

GARDENING
Breaking out the black beans again and this time they're building a garden.  Using some 'clay pots' that are actually silicone cupcake holders I found on clearance somewhere they played with some silk flowers, garden tools, some seeds (acorns) and some other garden friends.  They had a great 45 minutes spent with all this sensory fun!



BUBBLE BLOWING

Big bubbles, make your own bubbles, no spill bubble buckets!   They are a favorite and they are endless and pretty clean fun. 



MANIPULATIVES

Ace didn't have school this summer and so we still wanted to keep him busy, but not always requiring an elaborate project that requires a ton of prep or clean up work and so I invested in a few types of manipulatives for the kids.    Ace and his fancy headgear are working on tangrams.  I got the pattern cards and then foam magnetic shapes from Amazon, the white board I got at Target - it's back to school season so they're everywhere - I recommend 11x17 or somewhere around there... an 8x10 is too small to really make the pictures.  Mae is playing with some dominos, which she matches colors, stacks, and generally throws around.  :)  Ace uses them to count, set up and knock down (old skool, hehe) and match.
He REALLY likes that red/white shirt... these pictures aren't taken all on the same day. :)
 RAINBOW RICE
I was really excited about this one! :)  Just so much fun.  First after much pricing the Dollar Store is by far the best price to buy rice. I was a bit skeptical at first since they are 1.5lb bags, I though surely a giant bag at the grocery store would be cheaper - nope.  I used about 3 bags so about 4lbs of rice to accomplish this project.  I used the above mentioned watercolors to dye the rice - simply tossed in a bunch of rice into a sandwich bag, dumped in some watercolor (less than a teaspoon at first) and mixed until it was all mixed.  If the color wasn't vibrant enough I dumped in more and so on until the right color was achieved.  If I managed to put just the right amount of color in I was able to reuse the same ziplock over and over to complete the dying process.  I stored them individually in a ziplock tupperware.  I'm told you can use food dye also but then you have to use alcohol (or hand sanitizer) to 'lock in' the color.  We had no color transfer with mine - and some of my rice was dyed within an hour of play.   The tub is a '32 quart' tub that I simply used a piece of cardboard to divide it off so I didn't need MORE rice.

Before the kids started to dig into the rice they sat with great anticipation and read through Planting a Rainbow and pointing to all of the colors that matched.  Ace correctly pointed out that the "red" wasn't red at all but rather pink... I know, bud... sorry the red just was NOT happening.  It would have been ready to eat rice if I had added TOO much 'water'color! After initial presentation and mixing occurred we 'tore down' the fence (I saved it for another project.) 





GEOGRAPHY
When Loving Husband is away on a mission Ace typically is allowed one sleepover night in our bed.   This past mission I saved it for a particularly exciting and important night.  The Opening Ceremonies for the Olympics!   I broke out the fabric panel that I have of the world map along with his placemat of the world and he watched the Opening Ceremonies eagerly awaiting the country of Russia to walk in - it was the biggest! As the countries walked in we looked for them on the map.  I would find it on my map and point to it and then he would try to find it on his.  :)  He did a pretty good job considering the size discrepancy between the two maps! 

Alas in the Opening Ceremonies the countries walk in at the end and it was nearly 10:30 when the M-Countries were parading in and he was fading fast.   He was out by the end of the Ms and I shook him awake (he sleeps like the dead once he's out!) and he acknowledged it - but the thrill was gone.   He still enjoyed popcorn, candy, and lemonade in bed WAY past his bedtime though! :)  Looking forward to doing it again with him for the Closing Ceremonies when the Olympians walking in FIRST! :)


SPLISH SPLASH!

What's more fun that water!   Sprinklers, pools, you can't go wrong!  Got a little play slide, throw it in at the edge of the pool and you have a water slide!  The kids had a great time with theirs!  Happy summer, everyone!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Pixel

Our family has converted!  We are now dog people!   After putting together a 30 slide power point presentation for Loving Husband (no lie)  we got him on board to the idea of getting a dog.   Because every kid needs a dog!  

Loving Husband wanted a puppy and I wanted a cairn terrier and a dog from a shelter.     It seemed to be fate that right after LH got on board we found a litter that was ready to go home with two pups still unclaimed from the litter.   So we went to have a look!  

Having studied up we went through several 'tests' with the dog to ensure that it wasn't a dog that was overly nervous, skiddish, aggressive, etc..  He passed all the tests and I think best of all he was raised in a foster home with small kids that loved and smothered them excessively and so our pup was more than happy.    Yes, our little guy was on the smaller size from the litter.   He was one of five puppies to be born to a cairn terrier mix who was found wandering in a park.  His mama delivered the next day in the shelter and then all of them went to live at their foster home until adoption day.   

Our little guy weighed in at 2.2lbs at 8 weeks and was neutered!  Eep!  Sad day for the tiny guy... but coming from a shelter it's their policy so that they prevent future unwanted litters.  It makes sense but it is still a little sad.   I digress!   So he was neutered on a Friday and that Sunday we went to have a look-see!   As I mentioned above he was perfect for us and although smaller than our desired dog, he stole our hearts and we took him home.  On our ride home we began to go through names and after going through several options we moved onto photography terms and came across Pixel!  It was perfect.  So by the time we headed to the pet store to buy his food we knew his name and so we got his tag! :)


In his foster home he had been in a pin with his brothers and sisters and adults in the home said 'good night' at 8pm and then good morning at 5am.   This was a bit of a transition for us all the first week.   We crate trained Pixel and the first two nights we had him in a pin with his crate inside and the door open.  He happily slept in his crate from the start with no issue.   Night three we closed the crate and eliminated the pin and he slept through the night our 9 week old puppy slept all night and was even starting to stretch out his sleep pushing past 6am.   After a week or two he was finally on track with the rest of the family with a more reasonable 7am(ish) start.  :)


Pixel loves to play fetch and aside from not wanting to drop whatever he retrieved he's pretty good at it! He has recently learned to 'speak' - which is good - now we can concentrate on 'quiet' :) but to be fair he's a pretty good dog and isn't a yapper. He barks when he's excited and playing, when he needs to go potty, or is trying to get our attention. He is still uber hyper when meeting new people and is very much a puppy. 



Pixel the first few weeks of his life with us were full of medicine!  Poor dog needed some ear drops twice a day and he caught kennel cough somewhere along the way and required a 2 week round of 2x a day oral antibiotics.  Thankfully he and I got into a routine and he actually was very good at taking the antibiotic meds... The ear drops depended on the day and his level of angst - but we got through it and he's a happy and good to go puppy!   

I have to give this puppy props because on the 4th of July (his first holiday!)  He did not care one bit about the war zone that was going on in our neighborhood... and when I say war zone I am talking about 7-10 different neighbors within visible distance from one another lighting off professional sized mortars over and over and over.  He didn't budge and went to sleep no problem.


He's a great dog and a happy new addition to our family - even if logistically he does take a little extra planning as a result. :) The kids love him and Morgan only took a few days to warm up to him. Pixel does jump and bite on them (playfully in his mind) and so there is still more work to be done, but overall they all get along great!



 Pixel is a typical puppy that requires training to break habits of biting, jumping, etc.  :)   I am happy to report that just in the last week - Week 14 - so 5 weeks after having Pixel in our home I am feeling more confident that he's finally "getting" potty training.  I think a large hurdle for that is that he finally has learned that he CAN in fact get down off the deck and go in the yard.  Silly dog.  He's tiny, but he's not THAT tiny.  :) 
 
Now the BIGGEST question - what IS he?   His mama was a carin terrier mix.  But his papa??  Originally it was guessed that he was a chihuahua, but that is less and less likely - next guess was a toy or mini Australian Shepard because of his general look and the natural bobtail that he has.   Most recently yorkie or sheltie has been tossed around.  Anyone else care to weigh in?   :) 

9.5 weeks old

14 weeks old

He's gotten a bit longer, taller, and his snout has elongated some.  He weighs in at 3.6lbs now.