Wednesday, June 25, 2014

My big kids

Wow, it's been a while since I've blogged. Time to update on my kids!

Paul is now 4 1/2 years old. In November, he tested in to Airline Park Academy for Advanced Studies where he will begin attending in August in PreK-4. I think he's looking forward to big-boy least I hope he is. He finishes up at Kinder Haus this summer and I'll be sad that he isn't there anymore when I am working. But, his new school is practically right down the street. Maybe I can spy on him at my lunch time. (ha-ha) His speech is improving each day. He understands everything and knows how to say mostly everything, especially if he really thinks about it. But, he's used to mispronouncing some sounds so now he does it mostly out of habit I think. But, if we repeat the word and have him say it slowly, he usually gets it right. His best friend is Conner, who started at Kinder Haus last fall, but he isn't attending anymore, as he'll be in Kindergarten in the fall. We hope to have playdates with him this summer.

Camille just started in the Pre-K class at Kinder Haus, so she and Paul will be in class together for the summer. She has two best friends, Mila and Charley, and talks about them all the time. For that matter, she's always talking about something. Her speech is nearly perfect and she usually never misses a chance to repeat something we've said - which isn't always a good thing! Gotta watch what we say now! Camille is also now sleeping in a big-girl twin bed, complete with princess sheets, as of about 2 weeks ago and as of a few nights ago, she is now diaper or pull-up free at nights! She has slept a few nights with no accident and a couple of nights with accidents, so we aren't 100% yet, but she is doing great! She can even go to the potty and turn on and off the water by herself now!

This past weekend we went to the Inn by the Sea for the annual Spear family beach trip and boy are Paul and Camille little water babies! They LOVED the ocean and the pool. It was great fun and everyone got a great tan but me - ha-ha!

Well, back to my Montessori studies - I will be finished in the beginning of August and will be Montessori Age 3-6 Certified through North American Montessori Center. Not sure where that will bring me next in my career path, but for now I'm happy working 3 days a week still at Kinder Haus.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

5 years ago...

Five years ago today I found out that I was going to be a mother. Today I am sitting at home with my 4 (almost 4 1/2) year old who's got a stomach bug and had to miss school. Camille had the bug a few days ago, and seeing as how they share everything now, that of course means germs.

 It seems almost a lifetime ago that I took that pregnancy test on April Fool's Day 2009. It was no joke, though. The eight following months of pregnancy went by relatively quickly, and here we are 5 years later with not just one, but two amazing healthy children. Though they are 18 months apart in age, it seemed at times, when they were very young, that we had twins. Two in diapers, two needing mashed up/cut up food, two who couldn't talk, two who couldn't quite play together at such young ages, so had to be entertained independently.

Those first two years with both of them were very challenging at times, and I really don't know how we did it on some days. When Paul was two years and three months old, we found a wonderful school, Kinder Haus Montessori, and he began attending two days a week. That gave me a break with "only one" baby to entertain for those days, or rather, only one baby to have to tote around as I did grocery shopping or other errands. Camille, however, did not love to be in a car seat in the grocery cart, so I never did get a lot done. She has been very mobile, ever since she was growing in the womb (some of those kicks were PAINFUL!), so I guess I can't really blame her.

But, the older Paul and Camille got, the more they were able to socialize and really start to play "together." I think, or at least hope, that they are best friends, and will remain that way as they grow older together. As most siblings do, they have their challenging days of working and playing together, but as they are growing and maturing, they are going for longer and longer periods of time without altercations. Camille loves to follow in Paul's footsteps, whether that means playing with blocks, or playing Superheroes - though, she is always the "princess" for those charades. Paul enjoys being a leader and showing and teaching Camille all about the world around them. Camille is no pushover though, she's not one to hold back her opinion.

The one area where Camille is stronger is verbal language. She started talking the same time Paul did, but she was 12 months and he was 2 1/2, so she's had much more of her life to be practicing correct pronunciations of words, and Paul still struggles with it a bit. But, each day, he gets better and better, and each day he uses more words to tell us stories about his day, or about his make-believe scenarios with his superhero action figures.

The speech delay has not in any way hindered his capability to learn and to grow intellectually. In fact, this past November, Paul tested and was accepted in to Airline Park Academy for Advanced Studies with a score of 96 on a nationally ranked entrance exam. He'll start at his new "big-boy" school in Pre-K 4 in the fall, and Camille will move up to the Kinder Haus Pre-K/K 3-6 class in June.

Both of my children amaze me each day with all they have learned and all the growing that they have done in such a short time since that pregnancy test 5 years ago today. I can only imagine what the next 5 years will bring.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

A summer for preschoolers

Well, here we are in the middle of the summer with a 2 year old and a 3 1/2 year old.  The name of the game these days is, how do we keep these ever-growing, ever-changing kiddos entertained and happy?

One of our favorite activities lately has been going to the library every 2nd or 3rd Tuesday for story/craft time.  Each week is a new theme and they get to listen to the librarians read 4-5 books about the theme alternated with fun children's songs in between and at the end, they get to make a related craft.  It lasts about an hour and keeps them occupied right up until we need to go home for lunch.  We also use this library trip to check out a new bunch of books to read.  The kids love choosing their own books, which is a pretty haphazard method of just randomly grabbing the first 5 or 6 that they each come across on the shelves.  They will occasionally look at the cover first, but usually, it's literally a luck of the draw what mix of books we'll end up with - they're all from the children's section, of course, but sometimes some of them are a bit strange, or too wordy, for a 2 or 3 year old to sit through.  But we give each one a fair shot, and if there are any really good ones, we'll usually re-check them out the next time, too.  We've actually bought them books that they first discovered at the library that they almost refused to turn in.  I guess we're making little readers out of them - yeah!

Another of our favorite activities is going to Palm Tree Playground, and we usually attend on Mommy and Me Tuesdays, because it's cheaper and they open earlier!  It's an indoor playground featuring a large climbing structure for older children and a fenced in baby play area for tots aged 3 and under.  Paul is big enough to crawl through the large climbing structure and Camille just enjoys running all around the place.  We usually alternate this with the library on most Tuesdays.

Occasionally, we'll do another activity from our Metairie Moms group, like play at the indoor Chick-Fil-A play area and eat breakfast or lunch there or go to a park, when it's not so hot outside, or go to one of the Audubon attractons - zoo, aquarium, insectarium.

It's so nice that the kids are at an age where they can both enjoy all of these activities and understand what's going on, as well as communicate what activities they like best, or don't like so much.

One of the things they really like to do is to go to Target and walk up and down the toy aisles checking out all of the toys.  They know we usually don't buy anything, and they are OK with that, and are usually very polite during this activity "Put this toy back please" "Get that toy please" "Go to another aisle?"  It's really fun if I know we have time to spare, which we usually do.  So, I just enjoy browsing and taking pictures of them having fun.

The big news of the summer is that Camille is POTTY TRAINED!  We began potty training the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend, and spent the entire weekend locked up at home to initiate the potty training and since then she's only been in a diaper at bed time and underwear for the rest of the day.  Usually at naps, she's in underwear with no accident.  She's been doing absolutely amazing, especially considering she was potty trained before even turning two!  It took several weeks for her not to be afraid to go #2 on the potty, but she would reluctantly do it.  Now, it's no problem at all!  She now takes herself to the potty, for the most part, when she has to go and we don't have to escort her all the time, though she does need help wiping and washing her hands still.  But, overall, we've been extremely pleased and impressed with her quick progress.  It's already made our lives so much simpler, not having to take diapers everywhere, and knowing that she will likely not have an accident as long as we potty right before leaving the house.

Paul is our little superhero these days.  His favorites right now are Spiderman and Thor.  He will "shoot webs" from his wrist like Spiderman and he likes to pretend he has a hammer like Thor. He's (and Camille) also been talking a lot more lately.  He can hold regular conversations, but we still aren't always clear on his pronunciation of certain words and it takes us a while sometimes to figure out what he's saying.  But, the difference in this time last year, when he was barely talking at all, and one year later, is remarkable.

Paul, Camille and I are still all going to school together on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  It's been fun to be there and get to see them during the day.  They have both been doing extremely well at school and seem to really enjoy their time there.  The cutest thing is that when both of their classes are on the playground together, Paul and Camille can usually be found swinging next to each other on the swings, or maybe even playing "Ring Around the Rosy" together.  It's really sweet how they stick by each other.

That leads me to mention that whenever we are anywhere in public and Camille starts to stray too far, Paul has an absolute fit yelling to Camille and telling her to come back.  He absolutely hates when he isn't close enough to hold her hand.  It's so sweet that he's already so protective of her.  I think it'll really serve her well when she's old enough to have to start fending off the boys.  Paul will be right there for her.

About 3 months ago, we started doing little chore charts with the kids.  Each week, there's a new chart that they can earn stickers on, and at the end of the week, we count up the stickers and that's how much allowance they get (30 stickers = 30 cents).  The chores/activities range from brushing teeth to helping with laundry or unloading dishes to feeding Mandy to cleaning up their room or putting their dirty clothes in the hamper.  They seem to really have taken to this and are more willing to help around the house when they know it equals a star sticker that they get to add to the chart, which will translate to money on Saturdays.  They love being able to put a pile of coins in their piggy bank at the end of the week.  There's also a separate chart for "Gentle Hands".  There are 25 total spaces and each day that they have gentle hands ALL DAY, they get a sticker for the chart.  This one usually takes them about a month or a little longer to fill up and at the end of that time, they get a special prize - a new toy that Mommy or Daddy has picked out (usually a great Target clearance deal).  They are totally in to this, and it seems to have helped some with being gentle with one another.

Well, I'll try and update again soon, since it's been too long in between since the last blog.  But, for now, good night and happy summer!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

"Kid" talk

In the last week or so, Camille has learned to open bedroom doors!  Good & bad comes with that, of course.  We had hoped that since we transitioned her crib to a "big girl bed", combined with the new door-opening talent, we wouldn't be waking up anymore to a shrill "Mommy!!  Mommy!! Mommy!! Daddy!! Daddy!! Daddy!!".  We envisioned her helping herself out of bed, opening the door and coming down the hall to our room to peacefully wake us - that's how it went with her brother, at least.  Well, she still prefers the old method - so for now, we go in her room upon our alarming awakening, and tell her that she can get out of her own bed, which she does, once we arrive.
In addition to her new door-opening skill, she and Paul are both starting to talk pretty well.  Camille talks in 3-5 word sentences at times and Paul can pretty much hold a conversation, though we still don't quite understand all of their word pronunciations.  But, we're getting quite good at translating. For example, Camille's word for "milk" sounds like "noch" - not sure why, since she makes mostly all of her letter sounds pretty well, especially the beginning "M" sound as found in "Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!".
One of our favorite "Paul words" is his version of "goof ball" in which he says a perfectly enunciated "douche ball".  We laugh every time. I have a feeling that's going to get us in trouble one day if he decides to call an unsuspecting and unaware victim, "goof ball".  Also, he calls, Superman, his favorite of the super heroes, "Du-ka-doo".  That's the sound he started making when he heard the Superman theme in "Du-ka-dooo-doo, du-ka-dooo-doo, du-ka-doo-doo-doo-doo".  He's finally starting to say "Soo-ah-man", but for the most part, the nearly-invincible super hero now has the ever-intimidating name of "Du-ka-doo".

Sunday, February 17, 2013

An almost-pleasant morning awakening

This morning, while we were in bed, we heard the kids get up on their own, and all was well for a few minutes.  "Wow, how nice this is", we thought.  The kids can get up and entertain each other now while we spend a few minutes more lounging and getting up the energy to roll on our of bed...well, we hardly had time to complete that thought before the yelling began.  So, that got us up and snapped us right on out of that daydream.  When we went to find them, they were sitting on the floor in Camille's room and had appeared to have previously been playing - it was really cute - other than the fact that they were arguing with each other, of course.  However, it was the first time Camille woke up without crying or whining for us to come in and get her, even though her bed is converted to a "big-girl bed" and her door is cracked so she can get out.  So, I think there is hope of that daydream of ours coming true one day; we just have to work on getting them to play nicely unsupervised for more than 3 minutes at a time.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Night #2 in Camille's Big-Girl Bed!

This is night number two for Camille in her big-girl bed, and she is sleeping WITHOUT her pacifier!  She hasn't used her pacifier since Monday night; today is Wednesday - so that makes 2 naps and 2 bedtimes without it!  She's only asked for it one time, at nap at school today, but the teachers just ignored the request, and she didn't press it, so they didn't give it to her.  This is huge!  Paul had his for pretty much exactly 2 1/2 years, so according to that schedule, she's almost a year ahead of time - so, going by that time table, maybe potty-training will be next month!  I guess I should start thinking of a new name for this blog, since "another day another DIAPER" will be out-dated once that happens - woo-hoo!

Paul is having his own milestones, too!  He is getting smarter by the minute.  I've been making them some Montessori printable "work" from online websites and today I printed some pictures of  different constellations.  They're basically a black sky with the tracing of the stars that form the different shapes.  Without being told anything about it, Paul said it was pictures of stars.  It doesn't look like OUR night sky - since we see a lot fewer stars for one thing.  Not to mention, Paul is never up late enough to see it that dark in the sky anyways.  He's also conquered most of the preschool level work I've made so far, including a coloring by number, where 5 batman logos all had a number in them, and at the bottom of the page, a color was spelled out in it's own color.  So, he had to look to see what color each number corresponded with, and color accordingly.  Pretty smart for a just-turned 3 year old if you ask me.

In addition to being incredibly advanced and smart (hey it's a blog about my kids - I can brag all I want), these days, when the kids are in a sweet mood, they really do love to take care of each other.  Camille will always go and get Paul's shoes if it's time to go somewhere, and Paul will go and get toys or other things for Camille, because he pretty much always remembers where everything is if we can't find something.

Oh, and a funny story from last night - I went to check on Camille a few hours after I put her down - since it was her first night in the big-girl bed.  And, I found her in the middle of her floor sound asleep!  I picked her up and put her back in the bed, and she just kept on sleeping.  Hopefully she'll stay in there tonight.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

A big night!

Today I converted Camille's crib to a toddler bed, or "big-girl bed" as we proudly call it.  So, now she can crawl in and out of it on her own.  Tonight will, of course, be the first night she gets to try it out.  It's been about two hours since I put her in there, and so far so good - though, just in case, we have the pillows lined up at the opening, for the likely chance she finds the floor in the middle of the night.  She never was one to be patient about getting out of the crib upon waking, so hopefully now, instead of screaming or whining for us, she'll let herself out and come find us in our room in the morning - we'll have to get Paul to teach her this.  We'll see how it goes!
(This picture was right after I converted the bed; big brother is looking a little more excited than the owner of the bed...or maybe he's just more of a ham in front of the camera!)