Monday, November 19, 2018

Toddler B2: Two and a Half Years Old

Stephen is 2 1/2 and quickly approaching Big Boy status. He walks, runs and moves all the time. He really likes using William's scooter to get around and he's really good at it. He talks. YES, he is talking! In the last six months his language has improved a lot. He might not be the most articulate in communicating but he is using words and sentences. He usually skips the first letter in most words so they are hard to catch sometimes. Examples: Space is "pace" and high chair is "i-chair"

His newest phrase is "I'd know" which actually translates "I don't know." It is his answer to every question! He usually shrugs his shoulders too which is super adorable and makes me laugh. The other cute word he says is "ruffies" which means dog. Every time we meet a dog on the sidewalk he bends over, waves and says "Hi Ruffy." I also have to make a note that he calls William "Wilma" or "brother."

He is potty trained during the day but still wears disposable diapers at nap time and bed time. We packed our cloth diapers away in September. I'd like to say he caught on fairly quickly but in reality still isn't comfortable with #2 yet. Typically that is what he uses his nap time diaper for and I'm not really sure how to break that habit gently or hygienically.

We have been doing swimming lessons with Stephen since this summer and he really loves it. Typically he isn't timid to get into the water and he loves playing with all the toys they provide during the class. He doesn't like getting his head wet and floating on his back is still something he refuses to do; but jumping in, kicking and using his arms, blowing bubbles are all really fun.

We've gone to the beach a few times this summer and Stephen has no fear about jumping right into the water. I hang on to him pretty tight while we let the waves lap our feet. William is the exact opposite and until just recently always stayed far far away from the water.

Stephen and I went to the "Big Truck Day" event in the park. He got to "drive" a digger, loader, a muni bus, a garbage truck, a fire truck, and street sweeper! I think he loved it but may have been completely overwhelmed because I rarely saw him smile...

With William in school full time, I have become Stephen's number one play partner. We usually go to the YMCA so I can workout a few times a week and then we head over to the neighborhood rec center and play basketball in that gym. Stephen calls the Y "Mommy's gym" and the park "Stephen's gym." With this routine in place he doesn't say "No fun mommy's gym" anymore. (He really does have a good time in the childcare at the YMCA, I haven't figured out why he kept saying he wasn't having fun other than that he wasn't with me.)

Speaking of basketball, Stephen is amazing. He can shoot and pass a ball with skill. He hasn't made a basket in a real (tall) hoop yet, but he keeps trying. He can make his shot on any kid's hoop up to 5 ft high. I wasn't a basketball cheerleader when I was younger, but looks like I'll get my chance! Check out this video of both my boys shooting!

(You can enlarge the video by clicking the button in the bottom right corner)

Some of Stephen's favorite toys are: garbage trucks and trash cans, duplos, wooden blocks, and cars. He loves to paint and draw and asks to do homework whenever William is working on his school work. He also loves to look at books and be read to!

We let Stephen go trick-or-treating this year and let him have most of the candy too. This little guy has a sweet tooth like his mommy. He begs for his "treat" every morning before breakfast and several times throughout the day. We have a limit of one piece after his nap that we make him stick to otherwise, just like me, he'd be out of candy by now!

Stephen has always been super active, but in the last six months he has also become a big risk taker. He and William figured out how to go down this twist-pole on the same day and he didn't always wait for me to spot him while he made the 12-inch leap onto it! Climbing ladders, playing on jungle gyms and going down really steep slides make this mommy nervous but not my son. He doesn't think twice.

This summer and fall have been a ton of fun as he's grown and changed and become more of a little boy and a lot less of a baby. You don't hear this a lot, but I really think two year olds are awesome . . . at least my boys at age two is my favorite age.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Why Can't I Say That?

If you listen to my five year old for any amount of time you would hear what sounds a lot like bragging . . . about everything he can do. Here's an example:

William after writing the alphabet: "Mom, I'm really good at writing, aren't I?"
William getting ready to play a game with mom: "Mom, we're going to play Sleeping Queens, and I bet I'm going to win because I'm pretty good at this game."
William running: "Mom, aren't I the fastest?"

One day at the park he found another little boy who was willing to compete at life with him and the conversation went like this:
William: "I'm taller than you."
Other boy: "I'm Five. How old are you?"
William: "I'm 4 1/2."
Other boy: "I'm fast."
William: "I'm faster."

Usually when Chris or I hear this language, we try to bring him into reality and say something like, "William, you must really like writing," or "You've learned a lot since you started school." Sometimes we even talk to him about how there will always be someone better, faster, or taller than he is in life and he should just try his best. But it doesn't seem to phase him.

This morning after William had made one of these comments and I said, "I wonder what it would sound like if I talked like my five year old . . . I'm so tall, I'm so pretty, I'm so smart, I'm the best mom . . . " I said this in a light, joking manner and then Chris looked at me and said "Well, those are all true!" And I stopped.

I never say these kinds of things to myself (especially not out loud). In fact, I say the opposite. I'm ugly, I'm not smart enough, I'm not a good mom, I'm a giant. And those are not true. I'm speaking lies to myself.

Why can't I tell myself true statements? Okay, I might not be the BEST mom, but you know what I mean. And why do I feel compelled to teach my son that he isn't the best at anything right now? Why can't I let him brag about his new skills? Or course I don't want him to be self-centered or have a big ego. I want him to be kind to others and have courage to stand up for what's right. But what if in William's inner voice turns out like mine?

I don't have the answer to this. I'm sure it's a little bit of a balancing act -- helping him to see others' gifts and talents as well as his own and to use respectful language that doesn't put others down. But I also want to teach him to believe in himself and know what is true of himself.

So, if you need a fun exercise for yourself why not take a minute and pretend you are five. Shout out what you love, what you are great at, what you are the best at. Let yourself hear the words. 

The City in Smoke

Last Thursday, November 8th, there was something strange in the air. In the afternoon when I drove to pick up William from school I thought "Is there another fire or something?" The sky looks so eerie. Sure enough, that night I heard the news. There was a fire in Paradise, CA which is 175 miles north of San Francisco. We've had a few smokey days in the past so I didn't get too concerned. But on Friday morning you couldn't even breathe (or at least you didn't want to) when you went out side.

And it just didn't let up.

We tried to stay inside as much as possible; only leaving the house for school, swimming lessons, grocery shopping and work. Chris bought us masks for when we had to go outside (Stephen's still hasn't arrived yet though). We did indoor activities and brought out the new watercolors I had stored away for a rainy day (I wish it was a rainy day). The kids have painted almost everyday!

The air quality just kept getting worse. We reached the purple zone on the map, which is hazardous. And then yesterday, Friday the 16th, school was canceled for William because the district was concerned for the health of the kids getting to/from school and also the quality of the air in schools since it's not filtered.

So, yesterday we braved the outdoors so we could get to the California Academy of Sciences for the morning. I was a little sad that they had to close off their holiday exhibits because they were in open air parts of the museum but thankful they did for our safety. There was still plenty to do in the closed off portions. And William ran into a classmate so it was even better. We went to story time, had play time, looked at the penguins, went through the earthquake shake house exhibit and attended a session all about penguins. Then we braved the air to get home for nap time. It was worth it to have the experience but at the same time the air outside was so bad that even walking a block from the car to the museum had me second guessing myself.

And today we risked it again to get out of the house if only for a few hours. The SF MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) opened their permanent collection to the public for free this weekend because of the air quality outdoors. This was an amazing gesture. Not only had I not been to this museum in nearly 8 years but we could all go on a day when we literally had nothing else we could do (affordably) and we could all go for free. And they had great, breathable air! I was so grateful!

Chris had taken the kids one other time to the museum and Stephen was a little difficult to handle in such a fragile environment. It really wasn't any different today but after suffering one consequence he seemed to handle it much better.

After we walked through the collection we had each of the boys tell us which piece of art they liked the best and we took their photos next to it. William really liked the "Fire" exhibit, he thought it was actually moving! And Stephen really liked the gold monkey (sitting on Michael Jackson's lap).

To finish off the morning we ate lunch in the nearby food court. This was probably one of the more successful eating-out experiences we've had as a family! So, while we can't do our favorite things this week (like "go park" as Stephen says) we did have a couple of great experiences and made some memories.

It's been a really hard week: facing the reality of a massive fire and what that means to thousands of people who have lost everything and the increasing number of missing persons reported, the health concerns for everyone in the path of the smoke and the difficulty in staying indoors with two little kids who beg to go outside every day. We considered and even researched leaving the city for the weekend but it just wasn't feasible or at least it wasn't affordable. We're trying to stay as safe as we can and pray for rain. So far it doesn't look like we'll get a break from the smoke until Tuesday at the earliest.

If you are interested in seeing more of what it's like in the Bay Area with all the smoke, here are a few links to check out:
Before/After Photos of San Francisco
Air Quality Report for Friday November 16
Update on "Camp Fire"