Friday, December 6, 2019

Vivan at 7 1/2

Vivian ha turned seven and a half and she couldn't be more excited to be getting older. She's in second grade, and loves keeping track of the days of the month both at school (this was her classroom job for the month of October) and at home on our whiteboard for clean up.

Her math skills have really taken off, as well. She's doing all the same work at her older brother, though she knows fewer shortcuts. She does multiplication by adding the numbers repeatedly, and she can always answer a questions correctly. She takes her time to calculate her answers, and often likes to do the math two different ways to make sure the numbers match before she answers. She saw an ad online for a new kids' math program while doing voluntary homework/further research on our computer about owls, the current unit of study at school.

She's done the math game everyday for the full level and rarely gets things wrong. She had no idea what it meant when it asked her to round numbers, but three questions (and zero explanations) later, she could answer those questions correctly, as well. She likes devising complex math problems that Theo needs to write down to answer and enjoys stumping him.

She is also rapidly outgrowing her wardrobe. Shirts and pants that used to fit are now Capri or three quarter sleeve length. She has learned if it doesn't reach her ankles, she can get rid of it, and she's so pleased to be growing so fast. We got rid of all her 3T clothes (and, shockingly, one 18 month tutu) before the big move, and she's now solidly in the girls' department in size small (6) instead of straddling the toddlers and girls' department. She wears a size 11 shoe, which is the same size as her younger brother. That worked out when I bought him new boots he didn't want, so she wears them instead. She figured out yesterday that her jeans don't pair well with those rain boots, as they won't stay tucked in and her legs get cold if they go on the outside of the boots.

Vivian loves color, and pink in particular, but she has so many favorite colors now I couldn't begin to list them all. Quite a few include things like "shiny golden" and other colors I wouldn't normally guess. She loves clothes that sparkle and shine, and has been known to intentionally paint her gray sweatpants at school with color so they "weren't so boring." She loves new clothes, whether they come from a store or as hand me downs, and is happy to wear a wide variety of sizes even if they don't fit.

She took her newest pair of fancy shoes (hand me downs from a friend's daughter) that are two sizes too big to wear for her Santa photos. She had to wear two pairs of socks to make them stay on her feet, and she still couldn't walk the three or so blocks to the store in them, so she stowed them underneath her doll stroller, which she and her friend pushed there.

She loves dressing other things, too, like her rapidly growing Groovy girl collection (I should stop buying them but I haven't yet), baby dolls, and even things like her beloved Ryba clownfish stuffie and her hard plastic Tsum Tsum carrying case. That particular item got a pair of her old (3T) hot pink shorts and a flower ponytail holder as an ear bow and got Santa photos as well. She loves sewing new clothes for Ryba out of fabric scraps using scissors and a needle and thread for basic construction.

Vivian would sleep later in the morning than her older brother if she slept in her own bed. Instead, she uses the crib mattress on the floor in the boys' room, and it's rare she sleeps in her own full size canopy bed, though she loves having her own space. In the move, she lucked into a "closet", actually a wardrobe left behind by the previous owners, and loves having a space to hang up her clothes and store her things. She still misses her nook, though. She's very independent, and will often be miserable rather than ask for help from anyone. She prefers to have more time on her own, and enjoys being in her own space without other people around. She gets along with just about everyone, but maintains only a few close friendships, and she's fiercely loyal.

She's also very athletic. In addition to snowboarding last winter with kids three years old (and much bigger), she often gets chosen for sports team before other kids. She is extremely coordinated and very fast, so she can evade tackles and snatch balls and frisbees out of mid air. She's moved up to actual ballet classes (rather than last year's pre-ballet), and still seems to enjoy it despite the lack of songs and stickers, though mainly we are signed up because she goes with a group of girls.

Vivian is the only child looking forward to skiing lessons this winter. She would prefer snowboarding lessons, but they seem to keep changing the minimum age. Last year we were told it was seven, and this year it is eight. We often use this as an excuse to go to Canada for skiing, as they will let kids as young as five take snowboarding lessons.

Vivian loves pasta of almost any type, though the mini cheese ravioli from Trader Joe's are her favorite. She also loves spaghetti, preferably with just butter and Parmesan cheese sprinkled in it. She would eat pasta every night if we let her, and she loves most carbs. She likes having a peanut butter and Nutella sandwich for packed lunches, and at Subway she gets a salami or pepperoni sandwich with mayo and nothing else. She loves bagels and has been known to make dinner for the entire family based on bagels, cream cheese, pepperoni, and whatever fruit or veggie we have on hand. When she gets angry, it's almost always because she needs more calories and she has very little fat content to draw on. If we can convince her to take a few bites, she turns from the grouchy gremlin back into the sweet girl we all know and love. The transformation only seems to take a good whiff of food it happens so quickly.

For her half birthday, we baked a cake. Vivian got to pick out both the cake and the frosting types. She choose chocolate fudge brownie cake and vanilla frosting with rainbow sprinkles. She helped bake the cake, and decorated it once it was done.

We look forward to sharing many more adventures, both in and out of school, with Vivian!

Friday, November 1, 2019

Theo is 9!

Theo is 9!

Theo had his ninth birthday. He couldn't make up his mind what he wanted to do to celebrate this year. His original plan involved Nerf guns (which he adorably calls nerve guns) and a bunch of boys shooting each other. Over the summer we talked about doing that in the park nearby, but then Theo realized with October fast approaching that the weather might not cooperate. So he decided he wanted to do a Pokemon party, Pokemon being one of his current two great loves along with Star Wars Legos. But with less than two weeks to go on the Pokemon plan, he declared that none of his friends will play Pokemon (even if they collect cards) and no one would come. While we discussed and decided that at least one friend does in fact play Pokemon (unlike in previous years, Pokemon is not the hot topic amongst schoolmates any longer apparently), Theo still didn't want to risk it.

So he decided imitation is the best form of flattery and he wanted to do a Magic The Gathering (a card game even I don't understand, and that Theo has some cards but not nearly as many as Pokemon or even baseball cards) draft party. Theo attended a classmate's draft party at a gaming store last month and clearly enjoyed the experience.

So with less than a week to go, we sent out invitations for the boys in his class (plus a few friends who have moved up to the next classroom, and a few friends outside school) to join us for a Magic party.

Perhaps I should've boned up on my Magic understanding but alas, having never played, and having no desire to start, I did not. We did have some fabulous decorations (potions in the five magic colors? A big banner featuring the same!) and popular food, but the game did not go as planned. It turns out when your kid asks multiple times if you have enough basic cards, you should check. In any case, the kids invaded, they played with our weapons stash (turns out we do have enough Nerf guns, swords, and who knows what else to arm ten or more boys, and now that we have a huge house, they can all run around accosting each other, too) for about half hour, settled down to attempt a draft, failed, resorted to entertaining themselves in a myriad of unfortunate ways, ate, went wild again, and finally, counting down the minutes on the adults' part, left. Big sigh of relief.

We had Subway sandwiches for the main course because Theo loves Subway. We also had Cheetos and it turns out he's not the only kid who loves Cheetos. We even fetched cucumbers last minute because we had forgotten them on the grocery run, and Theo almost single handedly devoured both of those with a generous sprinkling of salt. For his cake, he wanted an mint chocolate chip ice cream cake. Luckily, they make those, so I didn't have to craft one myself. (See also Vivian's sixth birthday, when she requested a Neapolitan ice cream cake.)

The kids who survived the party went home with some random assortments of Magic cards, and Theo scored big time in the Magic card department on gifts. He got loads of packs from friends, a deck builder set (if that's even what it's called) from Vivian, and a core box of whatever from Grandma. He also got a Magic mat, with room for not one but two players. His other main theme was Star Wars Legos, which as far as I can tell, are the only items on his Amazon wishlist. He got a small Hoth set from Grandma and Granddaddy, and a tie fighter verses a-wing (or something similar) from Babcia and Dziadzius. Then he got at least five other boxes, including a massive Hoth base set, a Hoth target shooting set, and another shooting set from Xavier. He opened all his gifts in the first 15 minutes of the day, and spent the remainder of the day, until around 3:15, constructing Legos after a nice bout of ripping open Magic card packs to see what was inside.

The end result is a table filled with a Lego battle set on Hoth, with a couple Endor features tossed in for good measure. Vivian and I also spotted a Lego like book light when we went out shopping, so we got that for him to read in bed without having to use a flashlight. I also learned that they make chew toys for kids, so I ordered a pack of five chew toys, three on necklaces and two pencil toppers.

Theo had golf lessons to attend because it was Sunday, though he elected not to take any treats to share there. From there, we let him pick our dinner destination. He did not surprise us with his Mexican selection, but he wanted the local joint to reduce travel time and increase game night time. Plus, they also have a TV with NFL football, which Theo follows avidly. Sadly, they are closed on Sundays, so we went down the hill to his under duress second choice with TVS only in the bar. Luckily, it worked out, and we even got to catch the start of Sunday Night football there after a short wait. Theo ordered and polished off his standard bean and cheese burrito, although alas it did not contain rice because the kids' tortillas are too small for too much stuffing. He had not one but two sides of beans and rice to make up for it, along with loads of chips, cheese dip, and even a mango Nino margarita to wash it all down.

For dessert, he wanted an mint chocolate ice cream cake with no actual cake (can't blame him there). That you cannot buy, at least on only a couple hours notice, so we got two containers of mint ice cream, melted them enough to get them into layers, and Michal added toffee bits and magic shell chocolate sauce on top of the layers. By the time we returned from Mexican, we were able to assemble the layers into a cake like configuration, light some candles, and sing. Sadly, Theo hates toffee and couldn't finish his slice of cake.

At home for game night, he choose to watch the Seahawks play, despite knowing the outcome from catching the score on the bottomline during dinner. He spent the rest of the evening watching them "destroy" the other team and enjoying every minute of it while devouring one of the new chew toys, which he only removed to talk. In less than two days, he's put some sizable dents in that silicone chew, but on the plus side, I haven't found any new shirts with dime sized holes dotting the sleeves.

Theo's solidly into medium size clothes in the boys department, and at the beginning of the school year I removed some of the smaller stuff and added the next size up, which is large listed at 10-12. He still wears nothing but long sleeve shirts, though he will wear a t-shirt over it for a special occasion like a baseball game or cross country race. He wears size three shoes, and still has a pair of the bright yellow Croc boots that have almost become his signature footwear (and make him super easy to spot even from a distance at the park). He also has a new pair of tennis shoes in bright red and blue, after rejecting the bright red pair in his favorite New Balance brand because they had laces instead of Velcro. He loves fleecy pants, but will wear jeans and even a button up shirt for "fancy" occasions like school pictures, which is about as fancy as we get around here.

His hair still curls when its long enough, which is frequently as he will only let me cut it and we don't get to that often. He still sleeps with what's left of poor old Jez, as well as his Star Wars sheet, a big blanket he calls Fuzz Fuzz, and more stuffed animals than I care to count. When we moved, we filled up two or three kitchen trash bags with all the stuffed animals, and I didn't do a good job parring the supply down any in transition. As a result, you can barely see Theo in the piles at the top of the bunk beds. Theo needs about 9 hours of sleep a night, though he's happy to keep both his siblings up, so he still has a fairly early bedtime around 7:15/7:30 most nights to accommodate their camaraderie. He falls asleep between 8 and 9 most nights and gets up at 6:30 unless he's "overly excited" - his words, not mine. Things that can make him overly excited include impending birthdays or even a trip.

Theo loves sports and plays football, ultimate frisbee, and soccer at school regularly. He still has tons of energy and needs lots of things to do, preferably with other friends, to stay occupied. He will often cry on school days if he doesn't have a play date, or even worse, if one of his siblings does and he doesn't.

He will eat almost anything we put in front of him, except toffee apparently, and now prefers his food more like grown ups, i.e. burgers need lettuce and tomatoes and he gets really excited about things like steak. He loves soup of almost any kind, and will still pick strawberry milkshakes as his favorite flavor. He drinks milk, and can assemble his own breakfast, though if there's an adult available, he'd rather be hungry than do the work himself. He's lost a lot of interest in his pet hamster, but still loves to get Rocky out of her cage and show her off when friends and visitors show an interest.

If I bothered to dig through his bed, which is rare, its strewn with legos, Pokemon cards, and books. His favorite books to date are the Star Wars visual encyclopedias. He checks out all the versions from the library, though he seems to love the aerial vehicles and space ships the best. He also loves to choose the Pokemon card guides as books for reading material in the evening before bed for us to read out loud to him. He enjoys the funny noises I make for each symbol. He's also started playing some sort of finger game with his dad, which I don't understand the gist or the rules. It involves trying to get the other person to look at a certain hand signal, and getting to slap them if they look. Very amusing if you have a Y chromosome apparently, but it gets crazy quickly.

Theo weighed in at 71 pounds and 13 ounces, putting him in the 76th percentile. He's 55.5 inches tall, in he 88th percentile. which means in about 12 more inches he will be as tall as me! I knew he'd been growing with all that eating. It must be going somewhere. I finally upgraded his clothes to the large size (10-12) from the medium (8-10) in the boys department, though depending on the brand he can still fit into the mediums as well.

Theo has oodles of confidence and still loves his social schedule. He continues to make new friends while maintaining older friendships, and is constantly in the front of any group, as close to any authority figure as he can manage. He's made big strides in reading over the summer, and his poetry is phenomenal, especially for his age. We can't wait to see what he does next!

Friday, October 18, 2019

Xavier at Five

Xavier is half a decade old! I can't believe it's been five years since I had a fat baby to cart around, but he's come so far.

Xavier graduated from his beloved preschool in August, along with eleven of his classmates, ten of whom had been together with the same teachers for two years. It's the end of era for us as well, as we have sent all three kids to the same preschool, and won't be going back again. Boo-hoo!

But that also means Xavier has joined his siblings at the big school, in kindergarten no less. He goes to school every day, which is still somewhat of a mystery to him after two years of alternating school days. He asks most days if it's school day, and cries when the answer is yes. But he runs off to join his class every morning once he arrives without a second glance back, and he's happy to stay and play longer even after 6.5 hours of school each day.

For his birthday, we gave him a choice of a big party or a trip to Tractor Days. So I took him on a trip to see Grandma and Granddaddy and enjoy all the joy of tons of tractors the weekend before his big day. He got to make a rope, grind endless amounts of corn into cornmeal, ride tractors, drive tractors, and even sell a few muscadines here and there. Mostly, he spent his time browsing at the one booth that sold toy tractors, and talking relatives (and attempting to talk to strangers) out of their money so he could enlarge his tractor collection. He also learned to ask the seller to "shorten" the prices so he could afford whatever caught his eye. He came home with at least three more tiny tractors, who knows how many accessories, and a cotton baler which made his day, and a sprayer which made his other day there. He got off the plane and asked to go directly to Tractor Days. Though it was closed for the day, we still made a pit stop to enjoy making the rounds before the crowds the following day, when we spent the entire day there.

We flew home the day before his birthday. His class encourages non-food treats, and he wanted to take jello, but had to settle for rubber cows that squirt water. (Think rubber duckies only in multiple colors and cow shapes.) He enjoyed handing them out to friends and even a few siblings at the end of the day. He had to be reminded by his brother in the all school meeting that he had a birthday this month, though, and still is learning the months of the year and the counting of days, despite counting down to his birthday for at least the better part of the summer.

We spent the afternoon searching for the right cake, after a breakfast of pastries from the local bakery. Xavier, as usual, devoured a chocolate croissant, and we went back to check out their supply of cakes. but didn't find anything. We ended up with a chocolate Seahawks cake for the family, which he enjoyed because the blue frosting turned his teeth and tongue blue (one of his favorite things). For dinner, he choose Mexican, and he picked the one that makes their own tortillas with a machine you can watch (plus it had Mac and cheese for Vivian, which was important to him). We feasted on cheese dip before coming home for cake. He cried because he had to spend a large part of the day at school instead of playing with his new toys.

For his birthday, in addition to all the new tractors he acquired, he got a Playmobil rocket set from Babcia and Dziadzius. Vivian gave him a Playmobil dump truck, and Theo scored with a popular present of a Brio cargo helicopter big enough for wooden trains or tiny vehicles, another one of Xavier's loves. He also got a off brand play doh pasta maker set, which was high on his wish list, and a sand and water table meant for 18 month olds that has a crane and wave make and has been a huge hit with all three of our kids. Our sitter got him a Lego combiner (combine harvester) and trailer set, which he put together and played with extensively.

Then we had a small party with his friends from preschool as well as new neighbor and a couple other friends. We had everyone over at the new house, where we treated them to bagels, fruit, and a tractor cake with the field plowed into the number 5 and let them run wild with toys new and old. 

Xavier also miraculously remembered a box that showed up marked as a present for him more than a month ago on our old porch. It got forgotten in the big move, but with his reminder/interrogation, I managed to locate it for him. It's a set of bath pipes you stick on the walls with suction cups and can reconfigure at will, which he also loves.

Xavier needs more sleep than he gets,  because he stays up talking with his siblings every night. He no longer naps except on long car or stroller rides, and has mostly outgrown the stroller though he still loves to ride in it and will request it especially later in the afternoons when we walk places. Between the move, starting school full time, and multiple fall birthdays, he's gotten nowhere near the amount of sleep he likes. He would fall asleep by 7:30 most nights if left to his own devices, which rarely happens. And he is often the last to get up.

He still loves his fuzzy blankets, and sleeps in underwear so he can better enjoy the fleece fluffy feeling of his favorite blankets directly against his skin. He still sleeps with his head tilted back to avoid the sleep apnea, but generally has little trouble. He loves favorite lovie, although he can sleep without him in a pinch, it makes life tougher without. He loves to pile favorite belongings into his bed and overflowing onto the shelves next to his bed to keep them close. He took his birthday presents to school one at a time in ascending size order starting on the actual day.

Xavier loves Mexican food and can eat his entire plate of quesadilla or bean and cheese burritos and all the rice and beans on the table. He drinks in copious amounts, and prefer to have two or three types of drinks at his disposal at any one time. He is the only child who helps prepare meals voluntarily, because he loves kitchen gadgets and cooking utensils so much. We got him a tiny secondhand ice cream maker, and he adores mixing up his own batches, usually in fruit flavors like strawberry or blueberry. For dessert, he will almost always choose strawberry, and for his cake, we got marble with strawberry filling only because they didn't make strawberry cake.

Xavier wears size five with size 11 shoes, and now outweighs his sister by at least two pounds. She's still got an inch or two on him in height, but we gotten the "are they twins?" questions multiple times. while he's never been small for his age, and he isn't about to start shrinking, he still has some trouble managing when given direct orders or if things don't go his way. His favorite form of resistance is to throw things, and getting less sleep hasn't improved this behavior. But overall he's a happy guy who talks almost non stop given the opportunity and uses very advanced language for his age. Strangers often remark on his extensive vocabulary and phrasing.

At his check up, he tipped the scales at 43 pounds and 3 ounces, which puts him in the 65th percentile. He is 44.8 inches tall, in the 82nd percentile, and more importantly, only about 3 inches from the magical four foot mark which means he won't have to pass the swim test to go down the big slide at the community pool.

With his love for kitchen items, tools, gardening, farm stuff, and tiny vehicles, Xavier has come into his own personality. Or as he puts it, he loves anything with "moving parts." We love you and Xavier and look forward to all the joy the next years will bring!