Starting School! A ramble

Our boys will begin kindergarten this week.

I think I need to say that again because even though I’ve said it a lot in the last few months, the gravity of the idea still hasn’t quite sunk in. (Hence the wandering mess that I’m sharing with you here.)

E and M are starting school this week. They will be in kindergarten. They will be real students in a real school.

I started this post on Sunday. The ultimate Sunday–the last Sunday of their little childhood! Holy big deal!

Here’s what is getting me all emotional–the change, the huge, massive shift in our lives, and in all of our identities.

For these last five and a half years, the boys have been in some kind of daycare/childcare, but we’ve always had so much flexibility. Since A and I both work from home and especially since I became self-employed, we’ve been able to do schedule things whenever we want. I can pull them out of daycare for a random trip to Seattle, or for a birthday outing, or just to go have a special day together. It’s always especially nice to be doing fun things on weekdays, when all the other kids and grownups are at school and work! It feels like we’re playing hooky and getting away with something. And it feels like freedom.

But this is a really big transition. We’re now chained to the school year, the school day, the school calendar. They will be in school for the next THIRTEEN YEARS, which is basically forever. We’ll have to do our vacations, our special days, on all the holidays just like everyone else. No more freedom, no more spontaneity. (Sure, we can do a random day off I suppose, but I don’t think I’ll actually want to do that much. I’m too much of a rule follower and I do believe that attendance is important.)

This kindergarten transition is also about the boys ‘belonging to the world’ more and more (I just read that phrase the other day, isn’t it perfect?). We’ve had a little of that with daycare, where all these people know our kids and we don’t know them. It seems really weird and it makes me feel protective and cliquey, like hey, they are OUR boys, why do you know them. But of course that makes no sense. They’re going to have a new life at school, with new skills and new influences and new friends. None of which we have any control over!

They’re big little kids. They’re independent. They love math problems and they’re starting to sound out words. They don’t know how to tie shoes. They don’t know how to swim. They hold my hand when we cross the street. They lay down and cuddle on the couch with me. They pile on my lap so I can read them a book. They are best friend brothers and I think they also play with other kids, but probably mostly each other. How will they do at making good friends with other kids? Will they only hang out with each other? How much of a bad influence will they get from other kids? (I freaking hate the big after-school kids at their daycare who have taught them all kinds of terrible things.) Will they totally lose their innocence? Will they grow up too fast and want to stop being sweet little boys?

From now on, they are students. School-age children. And we are school parents! We’ll join the PTA and volunteer with school events! This is a whole new level of adulting and I feel a little blindsided and intimidated.

Another funny thing is that the day is the FIRST day of school. And I have to keep remembering with a little bit of shock and dismay that then they KEEP GOING. Forever and ever! It’s not just one day, it’s the first day of the rest of their lives! Ack!

Will they have homework? (Not in kindergarten, thank goodness. But I’m sure it will start after that.) What if it’s terrible and annoying? How much of a pain in the ass is schoolwork and projects and stuff going to be? What if one or both hates going to school?  What if someone cries or throws tantrums about not wanting to go to school? How will we deal with packing stupid lunches every day? Will they make friends? Will we make friends with the other class parents?

This is a huge transition for us too. I’m having a really hard time because I’m so used to school from a teacher point of view. From a parent point of view, this is completely new and different and this summer I’ve felt so helpless! I know absolutely nothing!! I also know nothing about what I *should* know and expect! For someone who likes to be in control, this is difficult.

I bought their school supplies several weeks ago, because someone on FB had to tell me to look on the school website to see the list. How would I have known to look on a website for a school supply list?! Was I supposed to know that?! Why does everyone else know this? Why do I know nothing? Why is the our district school website such a terrible labyrinth of bureaucratic confusion? I feel so new and bumbling!

We haven’t bought them new backpacks for school. I didn’t know what size backpack they’re supposed to have for kindergarten when they’re still so little. There are so many sizes of backpacks now, did you know that?! What do they even bring in a backpack? Are they going to be carrying notebooks and binders and pencil pouches? Two years ago I got them these little backpacks that we’ve been using for traveling and summer camp and daycare change of clothes. The lunch boxes that we got them two summers ago don’t really fit in the backpacks, so what *does* go in there? I don’t know if we’re fancy enough to get those metal bento box style lunchboxes that would fit. It doesn’t seem very special to just use the same old backpacks–but now it’s three days before school starts so have I completely ruined the Special First Day of School?!

This is their VERY FIRST FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL!!! Shouldn’t it be the most special of them all?! Am I making not enough of a big deal about this? Why haven’t I been able to plan better for this?

We’ve been able to roll into daycare whenever we wanted, and pick them up whenever we wanted. Now we’re locked into an actual, firm schedule. Miraculously, our school doesn’t start at the crack of dawn. We’ll be able to maintain their normal morning routine (wakeup between 7/73, breakfast, playtime, leave around 830), so we are very happy and relieved about that.

We are also super excited about physically going to school. It’s only a few blocks away—we timed it this week and it took less than NINE MINUTES to walk there!! We’ve been taking them to a daycare is 20 minutes away for the past FOUR YEARS. Each roundtrip to drop them off or pick them up was an hour. So there were two hours of daycare driving every day!! We will save so much gas and so much time! Plus, a little exercise and fresh air! (This is very easy to say in sunny August–we’ll see how I feel in dark and rainy November…)

We have one boy who is excited about kindergarten, and one boy who is nervous about kindergarten. They’ll be in the same class, so I think that will be really nice and helpful for them to have their best-friend-brother right there. They’ve never been apart or in separate classes, and I think going through the transition to real school together will be good.

I guess I just need to remember to take one thing at a time. Our kids are good kids and I think they’re going to do really well in school. It’s just a new part of our journey together as a family.

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FIVE!

  Here’s all the stuff M and E have been up to in 2017 as four year olds and the first month of five. I read over the Four post and a lot of their behaviors and stuff is still the same.

These boys are kids now. Not toddlers or little preschoolers anymore. They have lost all baby talk and sound like real little kids now. They still have sweet little boy voices, though, especially M. They say “drawl” for “draw” and E still says “helicoffter”. They love saying “actually” and doing that little head shake that 4 and 5 year olds do. They still have big chubby cheeks too. Here’s them getting to work like mama and daddy. 🙂

They are such kids in other ways. “This is boring” is a frequent sentence heard in our house. They think it’s hilarious to copy everything we say. They shorten words like little millenials! Breakfast foods mostly: oatmeal=oat; cheerios=cheer; pancakes=pank; french toast=french. 🙂

They’ve been in full time daycare/preschool a little more than a year now and it’s going well. In September they moved up to the 5s class, advanced pre-k. Their learning has started to expand so much. Their unsavory vocabulary has also increased, thanks to the older after-school kids. Grrrr.

They can write their names, they can write all the letters and numbers, they can write if you dictate to them. For awhile M drew his name with a backwards C. E doesn’t always write his letters all in the right order. They’re pretty good at trying to spell out words, except for vowels, which are always so tricky.

They can also do math! They can do very simple addition on their own and some of it they’ve seemed to memorize, like two plus two and three plus three. They can also mentally subtract. Just this morning I was doing a “spot the difference” with E, and there were six differences. We found some; he counted four and then said, “Only two more!” I am not super familiar with all the age milestones but I feel like that kind of two-step mental math is pretty impressive at this age.

Behavior wise, they are definitely five year olds. They get very hangry at the end of the day when I pick them up from daycare. There is FREQUENT and annoying whining. Here is a mean-mama photo I took of E: We were at the ICE CREAM SHOP and he had a tantrum because his ICE CREAM was in a cup not a cone.

They love crafts. They draw people now! It is so adorable! They also like making necklaces with pipecleaners and plastic beads, making bracelets with those tiny rubber bands (which are every-damn-where all over the house), drawing with markers, coloring, cutting paper into “tickets” (tiny squares) or snowflakes.

For extra-curricular activities, we put them in gymnastics for another term, which was wonderful. The teacher is SO patient and kind, and added new skills each class. And then we finally put them in a swim class for the late fall! We’ve been meaning to for, um, years now, but the Saturday morning classes fill up instantly. This time we decided to try a weekday evening class, which means we had to go straight from daycare. It actually worked pretty well. The boys loved it! That teacher was also fantastic–super patient, loved playing lots of little games with them.

Big travel year: Another visit to Washington DC this spring! We got to spend four days with A’s parents in Virginia and then two days in DC. This age was great, because they could understand so much and communicate so well. Plus they were so excited for everything, and that made it so much fun for us.

We did our yearly coast overnight trip to Astoria in September. It was our first time there, and it was great! (Except that the entire gorge had just caught fire, and the smoke rolled all the way out to the coast and made the sky awful.)

They continued to be scooter speedsters this year, racing down hills with confidence. They got bikes during Grandma and Grandpa’s visit in October and man were they excited! They ride well and definitely still need training wheels.

They’ve grown a lot. They still haven’t gained a ton of weight though; E has weighed 39 pounds and M is about 41/42 pounds forever. They’re in 5T clothes and size 11 shoes. Their feet don’t seem to grow very fast, and they wear out the velcro on their shoes faster than they outgrow the shoes themselves, which is annoying.

M has become an expert on the monkeybars this year! He has conquered all three sets at our local school playground. E finally learned how to really do the monkeybars while we were in Astoria.

Our house is officially de-babied! I took down the last baby gate in front of the stairs early this year. And we finally got big kid beds this spring! I can’t believe we kept them in their crib toddler beds for so long. They started wanting us to lay down with them, so we had to contort and fold ourselves, and it was super uncomfortable. One day I was like, I’m over this! and made the beds happen that weekend. I found these cute twin beds/bunkbeds on craigslist and we got awesome new mattresses and bedding at IKEA. They also slept in real beds at the hotel this summer and while visiting grandparents!

This summer they went through a huge phase of Ode to Joy. They would request to watch a certain concert fragment at night before bed, and they came up with their own interpretation of the words:

I can stop and make any venya
Us every morning save the things
Hark then im shoe petals
In California zumfit way ma foss

Ode to Joy

On TV/Netflix, they really like Paw Patrol, My Little Pony, Spirit. They really liked Magic Schoolbus for awhile too. Curious George occasionally; Daniel Tiger, Little Einsteins and Super Why are no longer of interest.

This summer M declared that he doesn’t come to snuggle in our bed anymore in the mornings. E does most mornings right when their owl clock turns green at 7, and snuggles with Daddy for awhile.

Bedtime is supposed to be 830 (meaning we leave their room around then), and on weekend days when they run around, it works great and they conk out quickly. During the week it’s much harder since they have so much more energy, and we don’t leave their room til 9 or later. Ugh.

Oh man, big news from this summer–they attended summer camp! That was the first time they’ve been in such a brand-new place, with brand-new teachers, and even in a brand-new language! It was at the language-immersion camp where I worked for the summer, so I was close by and got to see them a lot. It was so sweet, seeing their little selves with backpacks and new lunchboxes, starting to learn some Spanish, participating in the field days and stuff. They did really well and I was so proud of them.

The boys play together all the time. Last month I saw them play “Egg” where they both say “eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeg” and the first person to finish saying “egg” loses. They make up games with random materials. They love running and racing in the kitchen/living room. They love playing hide and seek. They love playing with Hot Wheels cars. They make forts, they pretend to be monsters, they pretend to be babies, they pretend to be superheroes. They are so creative, and we adore seeing them be fun and creative and interesting *together.*

They’re old enough for lots of puzzles and board games! They love Chutes & Ladders, Paw Patrol, Uno, Ring It, Monopoly Junior Party. M has a hard time losing games though, and will either pout, or quit playing, or start crying loudly if someone else wins. We also subscribed to High Five Magazine, and added on Puzzle Buzz and Hidden Pictures magazines.

They moved up to harness car seats! It’s kind of my favorite because they can buckle themselves into them! Makes daycare pickup AWESOME, especially when it’s cold/windy/rainy–I can just jump into my own seat and they also get into their own seats. (They’re always whining about being hungry while they do that, of course.)

This year they really discovered Legos! They got some real sets for their birthday and really liked putting them together. (So did Daddy!)

The boys’ Halloween costumes were a little random this year, from Costco: a skeleton knight and Superman.

Their 5th birthday party was at the Lego store, Bricks & Minifigs Portland.  The boys and some friends had a great time playing with Legos! And eating snacks and cake. (Adorable and delicious mini cakes by Jam Cakes!)

These kids are growing up so much. They’re still so little but they think they know everything already! And they love learning and knowing things. They are sweet and exasperating and whiny and wonderful.

Four! Fall & Winter 2016

We have four year olds!

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Big, giant, articulate four year olds. Who give spontaneous hugs and kisses, who fall to the floor yelling about not enough cheerios in their snacky cup, who scale couches and counters, who can entertain themselves and each other, who sometimes share nicely and who sometimes fight like dogs over jammies or toys, who can recite entire books, and so much more.

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Physical changes: they are definitely taller, and they’re wearing size 9 shoes right now. Their enunciation has improved dramatically–they don’t sound like toddlers anymore; they’re articulate like little kids now. Fully in the “actually” stage.

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No more naps, not even car naps. We found that bedtime was easier without them, and though they definitely get noticeably cranky sometimes in the afternoon, it’s usually fairly smooth to just make it through.

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This summer we did nighttime potty training, which involved us waking them up overnight to go potty while they were still half asleep. We started this process in June, I think, and we gradually changed the times, and in October we stopped waking them up, and they made it through the night! There have been just a few accidents since. Overall a massive improvement in all our lives to have that taken care of!

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Also, the whining. So much whining. Can you hear the whining that was happening in this picture? I’m probably a terrible person for taking a photo, but this child whined nonstop for at least twenty minutes the first day we went up to Salmon Days (a local festival near Seattle). There is also near-daily whining about food, either because someone wants food or wants more food or wants different food. I think one of the theme phrases for right now is “I’m hungry still” in a whine.

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Related to the whining, they get mad at us for things like making them eat their dinner, or telling them not to stand on their chair, or other unreasonable things. They constantly say things like, “You’re being mean! That’s rude! You can’t come to my birthday party!”

However, they also run up and give me spontaneous hugs and kisses. They love playing chase games and tickling games. They say, “You’re my best friend!” M tells me that he’ll always be my baby even when he’s a grownup, because that’s what I tell him, which is too adorable. They are really sweet and wonderful boys like 85% of the time. It’s just that that 15% is SO very annoying.

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Since the last post, we had some good summer adventures, like a million fruit-picking days (fresh raspberries are the best!!!), and two trips to the coast. Our annual 4th of July trip to the Hood River Valley to pick cherries and visit Mt Hood was a success. The boys were a little confused with the snow.  dsc_1091-3_web dsc_1129-9_web

We all went bowling together! They wanted to roll their bowling balls just like us, and they actually did really well. E won the first game! With the bumpers, obviously.

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After admiring the roller coasters at the Clark County Fair and at Oaks Park last year, this year they actually went on those kid roller coasters! M especially loved the Oaks Park one; he went like five times on the last trip there this fall. Here he is with A on the Clark County one. At first, E didn’t want to do the roller coaster, but after he saw M do it, then E wanted to. And he was so excited about it!

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We got in a few trips to Oaks Park too, and they were tall enough for just about all the kiddie rides. The Froghopper was a favorite for all of us.

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Birthday party time!! This year they asked to have their party at JJ Jump.We had a few friends come, and everyone had a good time bouncing and jumping all over the place.

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Thanksgiving headbands required some serious persuading this year. We had our now traditional dinner at the Edgefield buffet, and like always, the boys mainly ate bread and fruit and dessert. M did have some turkey, and I helped E have a couple bites too.

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So much energy these two have!! I’m glad we got that trampoline last Christmas; it’s a great way to bounce out some energy on the dark evenings after daycare.

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I had them help me make Christmas cookies in December. It was super adorable how excited they were to help cut out the shapes, and then decorate them. img_8205_web

This fall we *finally* moved up bedtime to 730, and that’s made a huge difference. (We’d  been getting them up to their room between 815/830, and it was always a giant headache, and it would take them for-e-ver to fall asleep.) Now we are usually done with the bedtime stuff around 8/815. So nice to have more quiet evening time! The boys often stay up a little longer reading in their beds with little LED lights, which is really sweet.

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We paint sometimes, and sometimes they get paint not on the paper. 🙂 dsc_3361_web dsc_3371_web

They love drawing and coloring. They still mainly do scribbles and coloring in patches, not really trying to draw people or objects. They can sort of color within lines. Just recently they started drawing shapes, like all kinds of circles or triangles. Sometimes they include letters, but usually not on their own. M wrote his whole name last month, sort of!

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They love cutting “tickets” with their scissors. Just very recently M got a little obsessed with paper snowflakes, so I’ve helped him make at least a dozen or more. There are tiny pieces of paper littering their table area more days than not.

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Both boys still come into our bed for snuggles in the morning. The catch is that M now comes in overnight too, and burrows into A and falls asleep. Half the time A doesn’t even realize it, but wakes up and finds M there, and then takes M back to his bed. Then M comes back between 6 and 7am, and goes back to sleep. E comes in around 7, and gets mad because he wants to be next to Daddy. M doesn’t want to move even though he’s been there for an hour or more. So there’s an argument, nearly every day. (And it’s always an argument about who gets to be next to Daddy because no one cares about snuggling with Mama.)

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M is totally and completely in love with potty talk. Poo and pee are now some of his favorite vocabulary words. One memorable example was his version of Jingle Bells where he replaced ALL the words with either ‘poo’ or ‘pee.’ Oh, four-year-olds.

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This fall we signed them up for a gymnastics class at the community center. I was worried that they’d just stare the whole time, since that’s what they did in their dance class a couple years ago, but they LOVED gymnastics! They fully participated, did a great job following directions, and really did well on the skills. (I got to visit one class; their nanny was with them for the others and had wonderful reports.)

Speaking of our nanny, she decided to pursue her other job full-time, so we switched to full-time daycare in November. It’s been a transition, for sure, but overall the boys have done pretty well. There’s been whining and crying when we drop them off, but they’re always playing happily when we pick them up. And for the first time, I started hearing them say, “I love school!” and “I want to stay here forever!”

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They’re into books, as always–especially Curious George (that’s them listening to the audio versions!) and Berenstain Bears. Daniel Tiger has waned a bit. For TV, they love Little Einsteins, and sometimes still Super Why and Curious George.

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Seriously. Look at these sweet faces! We love them so much!

Summer Coast Adventure 2016!

Hurray for another trip to the coast!

After a lot of trips to the Seaside/Cannon Beach areas, we decided to go somewhere new (Newport) this time for a two-night trip, and I’m glad, because it really did feel like an adventure.

The downside of traveling farther down the coast is obviously that it takes longer to get there. So we drove to Tillamook first (which was our first coast overnight trip with babies in 2013) and spent the afternoon in that area.

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The boys LOVED the cheese factory. They lay down on the floor and settled in like they were watching television. Probably they would have stayed for quite awhile…as it was we had to practically force them away, and that was to go get ice cream!

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Of course they loved getting to choose and enjoy their own big ice cream cones! (When we go to our local ice cream shop, they get a half scoop in a cup.)

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From there, we drove to Cape Lookout. The boys were excited to see a real live lighthouse! Sadly they were too small to go up to the top, but they’ll be excited next year to do it. 🙂 It was a gorgeous day to enjoy the coastal scenery!

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We drove south along the coast and I kept oohing and aahing. I wanted to stop every five feet but sat on my hands. We did pull into this viewpoint and I decided I wanted to jump with my boys. Andy dutifully took photos for me. 🙂 E & M did really well and they had a great time jumping with me! ❤

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We stopped for dinner at Pig n Pancake in Lincoln City (it’s our favorite place to eat when we’re at the coast), and continued down to Newport. The light as we approached was AMAZING. It wasn’t golden hour yet, but it was that perfect gold afternoon light and I was alternately so excited and so frustrated because I couldn’t stop and explore with my camera.

We arrived at our “hoo-tel,” as the boys kept saying, just across the street from the beach. It was going to be the boys’ bedtime soon but the weather and the light were perfect — PERFECT — so we dropped our stuff in our junior suite (literally half of our stuff was stuffed friends, by the way) and walked over to the beach.

Check it out. There was only a light breeze, and I was completely giddy with that light:

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They had a fabulous time scooping sand into buckets, running in circles, etc. We had to practically drag them away.

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Bedtime back at the hotel was…pretty much the worst. It took like two hours for them to calm down and go to sleep. It was after 10:30 I think. UGHHH.

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***

The next day we started out at the Newport Aquarium. This was the big draw for us and impetus for this trip; we’d been waiting a year or two until the boys would be big enough to enjoy it. We figured this age would be great. And since it cost so much for the four of us to get in, we were hoping they would think so too!

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We were there for 4-5 hours total, and we all enjoyed exploring. I had assumed it would be a bit bigger/fancier than it really was, but there was plenty to see. They didn’t care too much about the indoor exhibits, but they liked watching the otters swim in the outdoor exhibits. The tunnel, which we’ve seen in Goodnight Oregon for years now, was not quite as spectacular as I’d expected. But there were three or four, not just one, and that was neat. It was pretty cool to see sharks swimming above your head! Of course, the boys weren’t super interested in the fish…they were super intrigued by the scuba divers (which they pronounce scoopa-divers). They just wanted to sit and watch the divers float around.

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Once we’d exhausted the exhibits, we hit the gift shop on the way out. There, the boys discovered the shiny rocks bin. They played with them for probably fifteen minutes and would have happily stayed much longer. We did buy them a pouch of rocks of their choosing. (Which then would fall out/spill in the car and in the hotel for the rest of the trip, causing much distress.) After we’d finally left we asked them their favorite part of the aquarium, and they both said, the shiny rocks. Kids, man.

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***

That afternoon, after a nap and snack, we went to Seal Rock. I was hoping it wouldn’t be very windy, and there were supposed to be tide pools there. Unfortunately, E woke up super cranky, and he was very, very unhappy about the strong winds. M was happy though; he dug in the sand for a bit and then wanted to run around in the edge of the sand/water. I started to take E back to the car and halfway up the trail he decided that he wanted to go back to the beach. He was calmer and happier after that. M was having a great time racing near the water, and he and I went to explore the tide pools that were emerging. (Low tide was still several hours away, but the water was retreating slowly.) And eventually I found some sealife! I cut my feet really bad on some barnacles but I found a little puddle on a rock that was ringed with anemones! It was our first tidepool experience and wild sea creature spotting, and I was really excited about it. 🙂

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The following morning we visited the Hatfield Marine Science Center. It’s fairly small, but has some neat things to see. There is one octopus which we saw for less than a minute before she went into hiding again. There were two really neat water tables that demonstrated the tides and tsunamis. I was as interested as all the kids were. 🙂 And then we found the augmented reality geography sand table!! The boys would have played there all.day.long. (I can’t blame them; it’s a really fun tool.)

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Our final stop was the Yaquina Lighthouse in the afternoon before we headed home. It was CRAZY WINDY and so foggy we could honestly just barely see the lighthouse from the parking lot. It was very dramatic to see the scenery in that weather! We went to the visitor’s center afterward and the whole place looks so different in all the sunny pictures. (Also, we learned there that it’s pronounced “Yeh-kwinna” not “Yah-keenha”, which is weird.)

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As you can see, it was full and fun family adventure! I love creating these little traditions and exploring new places with our boys. I wonder how and when they’ll start building permanent memories, but even just for now, it’s pretty wonderful.

Easter 2016!

Just as this past Halloween and Christmas felt like the boys’ first ‘real’ holidays, this Easter was the best one yet. They were so excited about the Easter Bunny coming to visit, and doing some egg hunts.

We attended a group Easter egg hunt and brunch at a golf course. They were psyched for the pastries, and then for the hunt. They willingly wore their bunny ears. 🙂 I loved watching them eagerly grab eggs for their baskets! Then we all “played” putt-putt, and watching them push their golf balls around was adorable.

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That evening, we went to visit the Easter bunny at the mall! (The day before a holiday has been a great way to avoid crazy lines at Easter and Christmas for the last couple years.) The boys were SO happy and excited to see and meet and hug the Easter bunny this year! It made me smile with so-precious-it-almost-hurts feeling.

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On Easter morning we did a little egg hunt in our yard. My dad came to visit and helped us dye Easter eggs! I baked them in the oven instead of boiling them (I saw this video on Facebook), and they really seemed to like picking out colors for the eggs. I didn’t really let them do much…we only had one dozen, and I figured it would just be a giant mess if they tried to pick up those wire egg holders.

Then we went to a delicious Easter brunch at Edgefield–they ate a ton! Fruit, omelets, waffles, bacon, sausage, rolls, pastries, etc. (Kids four and under eat free at the holiday buffets, fyi.)

When we came home, we did another indoor egg hunt. Once the boys had found and gathered all the eggs, E took them upstairs to their room and proceeded to set up his own egg hunt for the rest of us. He announced, “Ok everyone, come find the eggs!” He’d made piles of eggs around the room, and then he pointed them all out for us. “Here’s some, and there’s some…” Heh.

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Hope you and your family had a fun Easter. 🙂

What life is like right now {January 2016}

I thought it would be fun to include a full rundown of our current daily life in my 2016 Project Life album. So I’m putting it here too, just for full posterity. M & E are 3 years (+ 2 months), and I know that daily routines will surely be quite different by next January. DSC_6994_WEB

The boys “wake up” at 7:45 – the owl clock turns green telling them they can get up. Usually they’re already awake and they yell out, “IT’S GREEN!” They can climb out of their cribs, but they don’t do it every day, and they don’t do it before we get to their room.

Breakfast is oatmeal (Trader Joe’s quick cook steel-cut oats) with smashed banana and blueberry sauce, sometimes with frozen blueberries on top. Also Cheerios, and sometimes raisins. Sometimes lately there will be a big tantrum if we don’t feed them fast enough, or in the order they prefer. (Usually it’s only one who does this, so that’s a small blessing, I guess?) After they eat, they play with stuff in their pajamas for awhile.

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Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, I usually wake up with them and our nanny comes at 8:30, and on Tuesdays and Thursdays, Daddy wakes up with them and takes them to daycare. On nanny days, there is a long morning outing to somewhere like a musical performance at a kid-friendly café, or OMSI, or a park. Often there’s a parks & rec class (like sports, movement, preschool cooking) in there too, depending on the season.

When they’re at home, lunch is around 1230. There’s applesauce with chia seeds, yogurt (full-fat plain, mixed with homemade mango puree [from frozen store-bought mango pieces]), and then something like a frozen whole-grain waffle with jam, or a quesadilla, or a PBJ, or lately, a scrambled egg muffin.

They go down for nap between 1-130, and wake up between 330-4. Sometimes they stir, and sometimes they call out, “I’M AWAKE!”, and sometimes one will get out of his crib and stand at the top of the stairs until we notice them.

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On nanny days, after our she leaves at 4:30, I usually take them to Swap & Play. (It’s a dedicated play space with three classrooms, open til 6pm seven days a week. It has been a GODSEND since we joined after Halloween!) Twice this month we’ve gone to the local library branch to select & check out books (like big kids!). Sometimes we might also go to the store.

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On daycare days, I pick them up between 530/545. They always run and hug me and it’s the best thing ever. Usually one of them has to go potty (because they’re still reluctant to go as often as they need to at daycare), so I take them to the school bathroom. We drive home and listen to “songs” – all last year it was kid songs from the two children’s CDs, but this month it’s been ‘regular’ music. They are obsessed right now with Under Pressure (Freddie Mercury & David Bowie) and Blank Space from Taylor Swift. They also like Shake it Off, Ex’s and Oh’s, some Lion King songs, some Frozen songs (they have not seen either actual movie), and a couple other random pop-y songs.

Dinner is around 630. We rotate a number of “main dishes” like mac & cheese, crockpot chili, mini pizzas from Trader Joe’s. Side/second dishes include things like pumpkin soup, a sandwich, microwave meatballs, some pirate’s booty or veggie snacks, plus a homemade veggie pouch. Sometimes they remember to ask for dessert—chocolate cat cookies, or something special that we’ve made like banana “ice cream” or, the other day, a mini chocolate cake.

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About three times a week we do bath after dinner, which is about 30 minutes of playing/splashing/shrieking, then protesting when it’s time to wash up. We wash their hair once a week or so. After that, they sit on the baby couch and watch TV. For all of 2015, it was sometimes an episode of Elmo, then Daniel Tiger overtook that, and then in December, they fell in love with Super Why.

Other nights, they just play. Blocks, beads (loose plastic beads–they are a big thing right now), books, running/chasing, groceries, puzzles, coloring with stamps or crayons, random toys they re-discover. (God, we have SO many toys in our house. It’s ridiculous.)

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We try to get upstairs for bed around 820. We turn on the noise machine and projector, and Mister Turtle who projects the blue and green stars. We talk about our day, maybe sing a song (we used to do it every night consistently, but have been inconsistent lately), give cuddles, and say goodnight. Often there will be requests for more hugs after we’ve gone downstairs.

Weekend days are very similar. We try to do morning outings, but sometimes it’s hard to get them out the door. We’ll go to the Vancouver Library, or Costco, or a play cafe, or if it’s nice enough, we’ll go outside. (Only happened twice so far this month…but considering it’s January, that’s pretty awesome.)

And that’s our life right now!

Three!!

Dear sweet babies who are now most definitely not babies,

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You are THREE!! Three years old! I can’t believe it. You are self-described “big kids” now.

The six months between 2.5 and 3 were the most fun yet, I think. You love learning and doing things, and it’s making life a lot more interesting and fun. (There have definitely been frustrating and difficult things, too, don’t worry.) {Since this post is so late, I’m including the rest of 2015, so a month or so after you actually turned three.}

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You basically talk like big kids now. You know tons of words and you put together very long and fairly complex sentences, but you thankfully still have your toddler dialect. It’s so cute listening to you talk. Like, lately when going potty, sometimes you say you want some privacy, but you pronounce it “probacy.” You are still good about saying Excuse Me and Thank You. When you’re mad at us, you shout and stomp, “No Thank You!!” and, “Dat’s not nice!” and sometimes, “You need to go to timeout!” and often, “Don’t talk to me!” (I swear we don’t say that to them.)

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You have grown so much! Each of you grew an inch and a half between June and December, and are both right around 36 inches tall (Malcolm, you’re still between 1/2 and 1 inch taller). Malcolm, you also feel a lot heavier, but according to our scale, you weigh 32 pounds and Emmett, you’ve been 30-31 pounds.

Your manual dexterity has dramatically increased and improved. You want to do pretty much everything we do. I love seeing you concentrate doing these kind of fine-motor skills activities. You practice writing, you use stamps and paints.

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Potty training!! This is a big one. We’d been dreading dealing with this, and we knew at least that we wanted to wait after our big trip in September. So we both read a potty training book and scheduled our first no-diapers weekend for the long Columbus Day weekend in October. It definitely took more three days for things to ‘click’, and we felt like we would never be able to leave our kitchen, let alone our house, ever again. Thankfully that wasn’t the case–by the following week you were making clear progress. And a month later you were doing well enough to get you in big-boy undies. One of you can make it through nap with no pullup, and one of you can sometimes. We haven’t tackled night-time potty training at all yet, partly because it sounds like a ton of work and energy, and partly because you’re still sleeping in your cribs.

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Speaking of cribs, you finally learned to climb out of them. Gulp! However, because you are awesome and we are so lucky, you don’t climb out very often. So we haven’t pulled the trigger about going to big-kid beds yet. We’re crossing our fingers that the transition will go smoothly whenever we do that this year. You’re also still using pacifiers for nap and bedtime. We will definitely transition away from those soon!

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You’ll not only willingly hold hands when we ask, but you also sometimes want all of us to hold hands, and ask for it. ❤ ❤ You’re getting even better at hugs too (when you deign to give them, that is; sometimes you say, “I already gave you one before” or “Not right now, I’m too busy.”)–Malcolm, you like to actually put your arms around us, and you do a little hand pat. It feels magical and I swear it cures all ills. 🙂 You will also say things like, “I missed you,” and “I’m so happy to see you.” (That’s what I always say when I pick you up at daycare or come back after being gone for awhile.)

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Your third birthday party was fantastic! We rented the toddler gym at a community center, and a bunch of friends enjoyed playing, doing crafts, and eating snacks and cake!

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Now that you aren’t babies, we gave ourselves the gift of de-babying the house (or starting to, at least). We gave away the changing table!!! Here’s what our living room (which is also the playroom and your ‘dressing room’) now looks like. IMG_6587_WEB

We also stopped using sippy cups and baby dishes. Instead, we use baby utensils and Corelle bowls and small plates (they are shatterproof). The dishwasher has to run every day now, but it’s such a relief to not deal with the soak bin that had lived in the sink for three whole years. You still drink a bit of milk in the evenings, and we use either plastic cups or mugs. 🙂

Things you eat: as many snacks as we will allow you. You would probably eat crackers all day every day if we let you. And you’d probably want ‘cheesy pasta’ (mac & cheese) every night for dinner. But we rotate things and limit the snacks…which of course you protest. You love frozen peas and corn and blueberries, you adore “smoolies” (smoothies). Malcolm, you’re still more open-minded to trying new things, and Emmett, you’re still a bit picky about new things or certain elements (like if you see “green things” or tomato bits in something, you want us to take it out or you won’t eat it). IMG_6599_WEB

Your creativity has blossomed even more. You create toys and ideas and play situations. You pretend to be teachers and if we try to do something or say something, they say, “No! We the teachers!”  Awhile ago, you watched an episode of Daniel Tiger that featured ballet, ice skating, and the Nutcracker, and once it was over, you both popped up and created ‘ice skates’ out of empty oatmeal canisters.

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You still love music, and playing your baby guitar and ukelele, and now sometimes you make up your own songs to the tunes of existing ones. Here’s a moment captured from October:

“There was only time to watch half an episode of Daniel Tiger before bedtime. Not surprisingly, M and E got pretty upset when we turned off the TV in the middle of the show. M eventually picked up the ukulele, took it over to baby couch, sat down and improvised the following song (roughly to the tune of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”):

I was trying to play with Mama and Daddy /
But they wasn’t listening /
I wanted to watch the whole thing /
With Katerina and O the Owl and Daniel Tiger on the playground /
I wanted to watch it all day”

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You are learning letters and spelling! Some must be from school, and some is from playing with the foam letters during bathtime, and some is definitely from SuperWhy (which is your newest favorite show). You know the upper-case letters, and you can spell out words! Malcolm, you pronounce the letter “L” as “ello”, which is freaking adorable.

“Why?” About two weeks before you turned three, your “why” buttons got switched on. Everything is “why? why? why?”

“Mama, are we at the gas station?” “Yes.” “Why?” “Well, because we need gas.” “Mama, are we going home now?” “Yes.” “Why?”

“Mama, what’s dat?” “That’s a {insert random object.}” “Why?” “Um….because that’s what it’s called.”

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You still do the, “Talk about it.. still talk about it.” You love learning about things and then hearing about them over and over again. And over and over again. Then you remember things from previous conversations and command us to talk about that too. (Fire engines were a big one recently. Any time we see or hear one, you say, “Talk about fire engines.” and I go through the spiel.)

Putting those two together–the reading-aloud process now often takes twice (or thrice!) as long, because there are endless questions and statements and retellings and requests for repetitions as we proceed through the book.

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You’ve finally gotten into artwork! You are interested in using stamps and inkpads, and finally paint. You were psyched to paint pumpkins for Halloween, and recently you asked to paint on paper…which morphed into painting hands. 🙂 You’re getting better at coloring and seem to really enjoy that too.

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You have a sense of the past, but it’s all “yesterday”. “Yesterday we got our Christmas tree!” as in several weeks ago. “Yesterday we went swimming,” as in several months ago. You have really good memories, and we are often surprised at the connections you make between happenings of the past and the present. There was one random evening this summer that we were walking outside and there was a skywriter. We sat on the side of the road and watched it write for awhile (it said Cool Moon? 🙂 ) and then like a week later, on another walk, one of you said something about the writing in the sky. Because we passed the same spot that we had watched it.

The holidays this year have been SO much fun, and filled with wonder and cuteness. Halloween was fantastic and so was Christmas.

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You’ve gotten even sweeter about helping each other. If one of you is upset, sometimes your brother will offer a special toy, or a hug. Often, you don’t want it, but it’s still so amazing to see the empathy that you have for one another. Both of you do the same if one of us gets an ouchie–you’ll say, Are you okay, Mama? or you’ll come over and give us a hug.

You are now officially travelers!! Your first plane ride and longest trip to date went really well in September. We are really excited for another family plane trip in 2016.

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Oh–this summer toothbrushing finally stopped being such a battle. Hallelujah. Sometimes we still have to chase you down, but you willingly open up and let us brush. Occasionally you’ll try to brush, but generally you’re playing with something and we’re contorting to reach the toothbrush to all those little teeth.

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Like all toddlers, you are obsessed with construction equipment. In Washington DC, your favorite part was probably finding and watching any and all tractors, diggers, cranes, excavators, bulldozers, etc.

Overall, you’re way more independent. You can bike or scooter the whole way without help, and at the playground you can climb on things without us worrying or fretting. You can open doors and cabinets, and fetch clothes, and even open one of the baby gates (ack!).

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As always, you go in waves of book obsessions. Here are some that you’ve liked a lot this year: Little Blue Truck, AlphaBlock/CountaBlock, Good Night New York/Oregon, This Book Just Ate My Dog, Chick N’ Pug/Chick N Pug Meet the Dude, What a Wonderful World, Daniel Tiger books, Don’t Let Pigeon Drive the Bus/Stay Up Late, Little Red Truck, The Little Dump Truck.

I’ve heard lots of tough things about three-year-olds…and we’re certainly seeing plenty of tantrums and power struggles and enhanced whining. But the increased personality and physical abilities and sense of humor that we’re already seeing is definitely worth the hard times. We love you so much!

love, mama