Thursday, August 25, 2011

First Grade!

Zach started first grade on the 17th. We started the day with some blueberry coffeecake, which I decided last year might have to be a tradition. The only problem is that Drew isn't a big fan, which I can't figure out, because he loves blueberries and he loves cake. I think Uncle Will must have gotten to him...

Anyway, Zach doesn't look that thrilled in these pictures, but he was super excited for school, especially for 3 recesses. It could have been the sun in his eyes, but it was probably because I wouldn't let him ride the bus to school on the first day. It was his first day of all-day school, and darn it, I wanted to take him! He said as he wistfully watched the bus pick up the kids across the street, "I'm sorta sad you're taking me to school today... and sorta glad." I'm pretty sure he put the last part in there so as not to hurt my feelings.

I tried to get a picture of all three boys on the front steps. See for yourself how they turned out.

Nope, not a single framer in the bunch.

When I taught 5th grade at a school very nearby (but not the one Zach goes to), the first day of school was always crazy. Even at 5th grade, tons of parents dropped their kids off and took their kid's picture with me. After the open house at Zach's school on the 15th, which was jam-packed, I expected the first day of school to be the same way. Wrong. We got up there and I was one of the few parents there- it was kind of weird. I was a little nervous to be leaving Zach for the whole day, and he seemed a little nervous, too (I think the gigantic crowd at the open house left him unsettled). However, as we got to school, I saw quite a few other teachers I used to teach with who are now at this school (this is just the second year Zach's school has been open), and just seeing the familiar faces and knowing they'd be there with Zach helped me feel better. Most of the people Zach doesn't know, but I think it helped him, too, to know that quite a few of the adults (including the principal) are Mom's friends.

Zach's teacher is in her second year of teaching, and reminds me so much of my early teacher-self. She loves running, has 2 older sisters, and apparently has a dog she loves to tell stories about. That was comforting, too.

Zach did ride the bus home on the first day, and that went just fine. A friend up the street who is in Zach's class also rides the bus, so the two of them sit together and seem to have a lot of fun. She rode the bus last year for kindergarten, so she has a little experience with the whole routine. The bus drop-off/pick-up at school is literally right outside of Zach's classroom, and in the neighborhood it is across the street and up a couple of houses, so it's all quite convenient.

To top it off, if you live more than a mile from the school, you don't have to pay for the bus service, and we live 1.1 miles away. I would like to walk/ride bikes with Zach to school, but with Drew and Jake and nap schedules and everything, right now it just doesn't work. Maybe in the spring or next year. And at some point, hopefully Zach can do it on his own. Mike and I rode bikes up to the school last night for Curriculum Night, and it was a quick, easy ride. Zach has actually ridden his bike up there before with me while I was running, so I know it's not a problem for him.

After school on the first day, we went to the pool. The bus was supposed to drop off at 3:55 (school gets out at 3:40), but on the first day it didn't drop off until 4:30, so we got a later start than I had planned. We had dinner and played around, and celebrated a great first day of first grade. Here's Jake with his buddy Lucy.

So school is going well so far. Zach has already had a sick day, though, so there goes perfect attendance! He woke up on Tuesday not feeling great and did his somewhat regular eat breakfast, throw up, take a nap, and then be perfectly fine deal. It's weird, but thankfully it only affects him and not Drew or Jake (knock on wood). Zach assures us he is working on listening and making good choices (he struggled a little last year with too much talking). He knows 2 kids in his class (the neighbor girl and a boy from preschool who Zach has always liked but isn't our first choice for a friend), and that was comforting for him right away. I'm hoping he quickly makes lots of new friends and has a great year.

I so clearly remember my first day of teaching after Zach was born. It was the first day of school of my 6th year of teaching, and Zach was 11 weeks old. I quit at the end of that school year to stay home with Zach, and now he's gone off and left me! I can't believe my little boy is a first grader!

Sunday, August 21, 2011

End of Summer

Ahhh, summer. It was good while it lasted. As I think back over the last couple of months, I'm not really sure where all the time went or what we did. Mostly I feel like the summer was spent working around Jake's naps, which left little time to do a lot of fun stuff. But, we made our own fun, I guess. I have captured some moments on my phone, so the pictures aren't that great.

There were lots of bike rides/dog walks, which generally serve a myriad of purposes- exercise for the boys and me (though going around 3 blocks doesn't really count for me), a change of scenery for Jake (and all of us, really) when he's getting fussy, an exciting field trip for the dogs, and a break in the day when I am especially ready for Mike to get home and to have a little reprieve from the 6 & under crowd. On one path we take regularly, there's a house with a few big rocks in front, and the boys like to stop and stand on them.

On one of our walks recently we discovered some big machines working, so we stood and watched for a while. It was pretty cool- there was one big compactor-type machine flattening out the land and one bulldozer scooping dirt, and then at one point, the compactor came up and the bulldozer got behind it and pushed it the whole length of the area, which was far and out of sight for us. It was neat to watch the teamwork. Plus, one of the drivers waved at the boys, which I always think is nice.

Sometimes on our walks we veer off onto a path that goes back towards Zach's school. There's a bridge over a little creek, and the boys like to throw rocks into the water. I thought this was a kind of cute picture. Probably would have been cuter without the bike helmets.

One day the boys were out in the garage & driveway using sidewalk chalk. I wanted to make things a little more fun, so I looked online for some other ideas of things to do with sidewalk chalk, and two ideas I got were to soak the chalk in water for a while (makes it much richer looking on the cement) and to mash it up with water to make chalk-paint. So we did both. It started out as the boys and me painting on the floor of the garage, and then the boys asked if they could paint on the walls. I thought, "Hmm, it said online that it just washes off with water, so that should be fine." About 10 minutes in, I started thinking, "But will it just wash off the walls, or does that only apply to cement & plastic, or other non-porous surfaces? I'm not sure Mike will appreciate the walls of the garage being painted like this when he gets home... Crap... I guess if we ever move, I'll have to paint the walls of the garage... crap."

Mike wasn't thrilled when he got home, but agreed that I will be responsible for painting the walls should we ever decide to move. Until then, our garage is a little more interesting than most people's, I guess.

The boys also had fun "washing" Drew's old car/stroller thing. Unfortunately, they failed to clean up their supplies as instructed, and we had to skip going to the park like we had planned. We've had some struggles with listening and following directions in this house lately, and I have found that following through on my end sometimes stinks (we missed a trip to the pool as well) for everyone, even though I know it's important.

After the car washing (but not cleaning up, though I didn't know it yet), the boys were excited to realize we were having a smoothie for a snack that day. We love smoothies, and though I don't follow a recipe, my standard is a mix of frozen blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries, a handful of spinach leaves, ice cubes and some water, and either yogurt or silken tofu, depending on what I have on hand. Oh, and the most important ingredient- a few chocolate chips. They are delicious and healthy (even the chocolate chips are semi-sweet, so they're still healthy, right??), and the boys love them as much as I do.

This is Drew's typical post-smoothie face.

Zach's isn't quite so messy.

A day or two after the chalk and no cleaning up incident, we did make it to the park. The boys were excited because we decided to go to a different park than the two closest to us. Zach enjoyed the monkey bars.

Drew and Jake enjoyed this musical feature, which I think is pretty neat, too, and unlike anything I've seen at any other park.

And I even managed to get a picture of all 3 of them on the slides.

Though it has been difficult to get to the pool this summer due to Jake's schedule and the fact that it is a challenge to manage 3 kids ages 6 & under at the pool by myself, we did manage to go a fair number of times for an hour or two. It really helped that Drew got more comfortable in the water after his swim lessons. We also tried to take advantage of going in the evenings, when the pool was definitely not busy and we had a slightly larger window of time and Mike could go along, too. There have been many evenings where Mike, Zach, and Drew went to the pool and Jake and I stayed home, and that worked out well, too. At the end of last summer, Zach was jumping off the diving board and swimming pretty well. At the beginning of this summer, though, he was pretty nervous about being where he couldn't touch, and Drew would only jump in where he could touch if he was holding an adult's hand. Here's a video of where they are now to show you how far they've come.

The last few days of summer were spent just kind of playing around. Everybody seems especially fascinated in the vacuum hose. Drew and I played firemen for about an hour with that as our fire hose one day, and Zach and Jake played with it, too. If only they could safely and effectively use it around the house...

Jake decided he is old enough to start using the laptop,

but then decided to just be silly instead.

Then he practiced standing some more, which has quickly become his favorite thing.

I pulled out an old toy that everybody seems to enjoy.

I have so many good pictures of Zach and Jake; too bad I can't get a really good one of all three of them!

Bring on fall!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Jake at 8 Months

Jake is already 8 months old, and I feel like rather than inching toward that first birthday, he's barreling toward it. As I uploaded pictures to iPhoto last night, I caught sight of a sweet picture of Jake right around Christmas, when he was just a couple of weeks old. He was so little and sweet, all snug and tight and swaddled. It just baffles me how it feels like we were just there, swaddling him, helping him sleep all the time, and dealing with all that newborn stuff, and now he is pulling up, army-crawling all over, and I lay him down in his crib and he puts himself to sleep, no swaddling, shushing, etc. How does it go by so quickly??

Jake recently experienced another baby rite of passage- his first time in the Tupperware cabinet. He hasn't yet figured out how to open the cabinets (other than the little plastic one on the play kitchen), but I have a feeling it's only a matter of time before we have to break out the cabinet locks again.

Jake is still army-crawling, though he is getting up on his hands and knees and taking a couple of steps forward on his hands and knees. After a couple of steps, though, he usually drops his tummy and resorts to army-crawling. I cheer like crazy when he stays up on all fours, though, hoping that soon he'll catch on and that will be the default mode of transportation. Jake loves to crawl over to the plant and grab the leaves, but I think he definitely is learning that Mom always tells him no when he does that. I swear he grabs for a leaf and looks for me. It's amazing how early they learn that kind of thing. I just read that babies start to learn cause and effect as early as 2 months, so I suppose he does know he'll get my attention by going for the plant. He also likes to crawl on the shelf that is under our little end-table, where he can find lots of computer cords and my knitting stuff. Like the plant, that also garners Mom moving Jake to a different area. He really likes to crawl under anything he can, and frequently goes under the kitchen table and chairs. This is okay, except that he often ends up hitting his forehead on the horizontal bars of the kitchen chairs because he hasn't learned to duck his head far enough yet. Going under his exersaucer is fun, too.

Jake reaches out to touch the dogs more and more, which usually results in lots of licking. In the picture below, Maggie either wanted to just cuddle with Jake, or she wanted the blue dryer ball he was playing with. Knowing Maggie, I think it was probably the latter.

Jake seems to really enjoy swinging in the swing in our backyard. He (and Foudy) also like it when I blow bubbles. I think Jake prefers to suck on the bubbles bottle, and Foudy prefers to chase bubbles.

The other day Zach and Drew were out on the deck, sitting on the bench, and the big door was open but the screen door was shut. Jake crawled over there and quickly realized that he could not get out there, and he was definitely mad about it. He laid there, looked up at his brothers, and fussed, making it very clear that he wanted to be out there with them. The next day he crawled over to check out Maggie on the other side of the door.

One of Jake's other new skills is pulling up. Last weekend I set him down next to a toy that is meant for standing at, and I quickly put something away in my bathroom. When I came out of the bathroom a minute later, Jake was standing at the toy. He's not very stable yet, so I make sure to stay close-by when I think he's about to pull up. He also is getting up on his knees a lot to reach things. As a result, we moved his crib mattress down to the lowest level this week.

A few weeks ago I took Jake to the doctor for a weight check. At his 6 month appointment, the doctor said to come back in 6 weeks to check his weight since his percentile had dropped. Thankfully in that 6 weeks, Jake gained 1 pound, putting him at 16 lbs. 10 oz. From the 6 month appointment to the 9 month appointment, the average weight gain is 2 pounds, so he was right on track. However, he dropped from the 75%ile at 9 weeks to the 39%ile at 4 months to the 17%ile at 6 months to the 11%ile at 7 months 19 days. He's still on the longer side at 27.8 inches, which puts him at the 62%ile. The weight thing bugs me, but I'm trying not to get too worried about it. I explained to the pediatrician that I was nursing him 4x a day (every 4 hours) and feeding him solids 3x a day, but that at the 2 middle nursing sessions, Jake was distracted and not that hungry. The pediatrician suggested taking out the middle feeding of solids so that Jake would take more calories from milk. Breast milk has an average of 20 calories per ounce, and baby food generally has fewer calories than that. My sisters and I always seem to have small kids, so I guess we must naturally make skim milk, right? Anyway, it seems like Jake is doing a little better with nursing, but it's hard to tell. The kid is just so busy, too. He hardly ever sits still, and I figure that since he rolled over and got mobile so early, he probably is burning a lot of calories. I'm very curious to see what he weighs at his 9 month appointment. Hopefully he gains another pound or more.

The other major milestone we've met is that Jake has just recently dropped that third, late afternoon nap. It's kind of a mixed blessing. It's nice to have more awake time for him in the afternoon/evening so we can do things, but it also takes away my baby-free dinner prep time. As a result of taking out that last nap, Jake needs to go to bed a bit earlier, so now he typically wakes up between 6:30 and 7:00 (I'm working on pushing his wake-up time back to 7:00 by not going into his room until then, hoping that will naturally get him to sleep a little later), takes his first nap around 8:35/9:00 (generally right at 2 hours after waking up, which is why I'm trying to push him back to 7:00 for waking up), sleeps for an hour to an hour and a half, takes his next nap around 12:45/1:00, and wakes up between 2:30 and 3:00, and then is in bed by 7:00. All in all it's worked out to be a pretty good schedule, although it is sometimes tough to squeeze in any errands or anything between 11:00 and 1:00 and also feed everybody lunch. Once Drew starts preschool a couple of days a week, I'll need Jake to not take his nap until at least 9:00 (that's what time I drop Drew off), so hopefully he'll start consistently sleeping until 7:00. It would be great, too, if his nap and Drew's nap overlapped a little more (Drew usually goes down at 2:00), but right now I'll take what I can get.

Well, speaking of naps, I think Jake is awake from his afternoon nap right now, so I better go check on that little pumpkin. He's just such a sweet, happy baby, and I'm trying to be sure to enjoy each stage since I know Jake is our last. Oh- through a former student who volunteers with refugee families in the area, I was able donate 3 boxes of baby clothes, our Bumbo seat, activity gym, and bouncy seat to an Ethiopian family with 3 boys under age 4. It feels so great to have helped out that family and to be rid of some of our clutter. I'm looking forward to continuing to purge stuff every few months as Jake outgrows clothes, though some items (particularly those that all 3 boys wore) are a little tough to say goodbye to.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

A Good Time Was Had By All- I Think

Last weekend Mike and I got together with our college friends for our somewhat regular summer get-together on the Mississippi. We dropped the boys and dogs off at Grandpa Kevin and Grandma Cynthia's house on Friday morning, and we were off. We got up to our friend's parents' cabin at lunchtime, hung out with Troy, Jenny, Arch, and Jenn, and waited for the other two couples, BJ & Carey and Dave & Laura, to arrive. Once everybody was there we headed out to the sand bar to relax, play some corn hole, and just enjoy the sun and water. It was great.

Saturday morning we all went to a nearby town for the Divorce Open, a little golf tournament we set up for all 5 couples where couples compete together in an alternate shot format. For example, Mike hit off the tee on hole #1, then I hit the next ball onto the green, and he putted in. It's called the Divorce Open because of the teamwork required and the bickering that could ensue. In our case, Mike is obviously a much better golfer than I am (maybe if I had a free lunch hour every day to golf I'd be decent, too... that's a joke... sort of), so I provided him with some more challenging shots than he's used to having when he plays by himself. A couple of the girls playing had never golfed before, but they were good sports about giving it a try. Either way, it was a lot of fun.

Later on Saturday we went back out to the sand bar, and then headed up the river to some bar/restaurant for dinner. I didn't have my camera along, but I did have my phone, and here are the prize-worthy photos I took both in the restaurant and on the way back to the cabin. Prepare to be impressed.

First, Carey, Dave, and Jenny.

Now me and Soup (a.k.a. BJ) with one of his Cajun shrimp that he kept raving about. Obviously he doesn't get out much- it was breaded, fried bar food. How good could it really be?

Then Jenny and Mike, who this group all calls Bird or Birdie- it's a college/callege (inside joke) thing.

Here's Arch rubbing Soup's nipples. Don't ask. Arch's wife, Jenn, is in the purple dress. Somehow she managed to avoid all other pictures I took.

Laura, Dave, and Jen.

Dave, Jen, Mike, and Laura. It appears as though Dave isn't necessarily thrilled about the placement of Jen's hand on his wife's leg, but I think it was pretty innocent.

Alas, those are the only pictures I have from the weekend. Thanks, friends, for a great time! It went way too quickly, and I am bummed it's over already. There were of course some inappropriate comments and some spats here and there, but I think we all left the weekend still friends, and personally, I know Mike and I can't wait until the next time!!