Alex Notes, Apr - Jun 2008

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April 3, 2008

Interesting -- I notice that when I'm weary of being a mom and when Alex is going through troubling times, I don't update this page. So you can assume from this update that we are (hopefully) on the upswing of things again.

Alex has had a really tough time going to school lately. A few times, I have had to physically detach him from myself and hand him to his teacher. It's wrenching! I know he is fine shortly after I leave, he's happy when I pick him up, and all kids go through those phases, but that only makes it somewhat easier. Some of it may be just a phase, part could be that the novelty of moving into the preschool room has worn off. The class has more girls than his toddler class did, and there's a bigger age range, up to age 5, so he might feel a little lost. And, I have been frustrated with mommy-ness so I have probably not been giving him enough true, undivided attention as I should. I am working on that, plus his school finally filled the position for the other teacher for his class, so hopefully things will ease up in that department.

Alex in the pool in his underpants.
This was after lunch, when we first got there and before we even were able to check into our rooms and change into bathing suits.

Our big news is that we have been to Hawaii with Nana, PopPop and Aunt Karen. Alex did fine on the flight (or, at least I think so because he was mostly with Scott), and we got compliments from passengers. We stayed at the Ko'Olina resort. Alex was much more daring about going into the pool and the lagoon than I expected. He really liked playing in the sand. We even drove to Waikiki and took a submarine tour, which included a ferry boat ride. The down side of the trip was that he never adjusted to the time and kept getting up at 5-6 a.m. -- NOT my idea of a vacation. On the bright side, Alex didn't miss a beat with the potty training, and I didn't even open the package of "Little Swimmers" diapers I had for him.

PawPaw always wants to know what Alex is saying these days. One cool thing is how quickly he adopts new words and terms into his vocabulary. One day I explained cooperating and used it a couple times. Later that day when we were doing something together, Alex pointed out that we were cooperating. The other day, I had my hands full and needed him to do something carefully, so I asked if he would do me a really big favor. He has used that back on me about 5 times now. A negative thing he picked up from one of the Amanda Pig books (which I really like) is to say "Go away and never come back." He usually says this when he is tired and crabby, when he's not getting his way, or when he hurts himself. Scott was relieved to learn that Alex says it to me and not just to him. Otherwise he was starting to get his feelings hurt. A few times, Alex has announced that he was going to do something silly, then he would do something he thinks is silly like run in a circle or put something on his head. Other times, he will say that something is "really, really silly."

I just found this playground toy for Alex on CraigsList. He has played with it some, and even the neighbor boys came over and played for awhile today (I think their mom may have put them up to it, or at least told them to go outside). I think it will be good to have for Alex to play on while I do my gardening and pursue my lofty landscaping goals this spring and summer. Speaking of which, Alex spent most of today outside with me in the garden. He won't enjoy it as much now that planting has begun and he can't just play in the dirt. (I will update my garden notes another day...)

I think potty training is basically done. Alex is even dry sometimes in the mornings. He has slept in underpants a few nights, but then had a couple wet nights or mornings and we decided to not bother for a bit unless he asks. Using public bathrooms is sometimes a problem due to loud flushing and hand dryers and Alex feeling like he is going to fall in. We had a big problem with this in the park the other day. I knew he was about to burst and I didn't want to let him back in the truck, so I thought I would teach his to go outside. This proved to be about as traumatic as the bathroom (ok, I made the decision rationally, but I'm not saying I did it calmly!). Today, to avoid a trip in the house with muddy shoes, I took another (calmer) opportunity to teach him. It was more successful, but I don't think Alex really gets the concept of aim yet.

April 10, 2008

Since Alex has a birthday coming up, I thought this would be a good time to write a bit about what Alex knows.

Alex knows the alphabet, but he still has trouble with N (vs. V) and M. He can spell GASCH but I don't think he really relates it to a sequence of individual letters. He can find letters for the Leap Frog "word whammer". I think he has always been aware of words on the page in books, but recently he has started pointing and saying, read that part.

Alex recognizes the digits 1 through 9 and understands that zero means none. For small numbers, maybe up through about 5, he knows which is more than another number. He is starting to hold up his fingers to represent quantities, but he seldom gets it right -- it's usually one or both hands fully open.

Books and reading are still big. Alex learns books really quickly. His current favorite is probably the Little Red Train stories. He has memorized and can sing Puff the Magic Dragon, and plays by saying in a sad voice "I'm Puff the magic dragon and Jackie Paper doesn't come anymore." We are starting to read longer books -- I am happy that Alex has finally started to enjoy the Frog and Toad books because I love those stories.

As far as TV watching goes, Alex will watch Sesame Street for the full episode, sometimes. We still watch very little - including watching fire truck videos on YouTube, we watch maybe 1/2 hour per day on average. We did rent the Cars movie and let him watch it in 2 sittings. He didn't really get it, but Scott and I thought it was a decent movie.

Alex is starting to become very interested in helping. He likes to pull a chair over and help cook. He actually listened the other day when I showed him how to sweep dirt into a pile (as opposed to sweeping my pile of dirt back out all over the floor!). He likes to clean the toilet. He can also go to the potty by himself and sometimes really doesn't want help.

The other day while I was sitting at my computer, Alex moved a bar stool to the opposite end of the bar (in front of the dishwasher) and announced that we were driving a fire truck, me in the front and him in the back. Then he wanted a snack and I told him it was dangerous to eat and drive at the same time. Tonight, the same thing happened. I told him he could have a snack while driving but only if he paid attention. Alex replied that he paid four attentions so it was ok.

Alex has figured out that he needs to stay still when playing hide-n-seek. Sometimes when I am gone from the room he will just hide anyway, under the pillows or blankets. He's getting pretty good at it -- I hope he never pulls it on me out at a store! Another game that Alex likes to play is to tell me that he's the daddy and I'm his little girl and that I don't know what [whatever] is. So then I will ask him a bunch of silly questions about it.

May 18, 2008

Scott adds:

There's a quote I remember from Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead:

Whatever became of the moment when one first knew about death? There must have been one, a moment, in childhood when it first occurred to you that you don't go on for ever. It must have been shattering - stamped into one's memory. And yet I can't remember it. It never occurred to me at all. What does one make of that? We must be born with an intuition of mortality. Before we know the words for it, before we know that there are words, out we come, bloodied and squalling with the knowledge that for all the compasses in the world, there's only one direction, and time is its only measure.

I remembered the kernel of this today (and looked up the rest) because this morning Alex asked Lynn and I, "What does dead mean?" I don't know what prompted this or where he heard it. But we did our best to explain what being dead meant and he next asked, "but that doesn't happen to us, right?" At which point I gently told him that everyone would die someday but it would hopefully would not happen for a long time. He nodded and seemed completely unfazed by the information.

So there you have it, Rosencrantz. Maybe some part of you knows you will die all along but when you're around three years old you pipe up and ask your parents what "dead" means and whether it's going to happen to you. And they have a hard time answering.

May 31, 2008

Alex in bike helmet

Alex is ready to ride.

We just had a good visit with Arthur and Betty, who came to help me out while Scott was in Italy for Andy and Courtney's wedding. We went on a couple bike rides on the Sammamish River trail and wandered around at the Folk Life Festival at Seattle Center. Alex rode his first carnival rides by himself - one with jalopies that circle a track, one with rockets and planes that go up pretty high, and one with a pirate ship that went in a very low, slow circle. I was impressed that he wanted to keep riding - we went through about $16 really quickly! Nana got to play lots of "store" and Scott's creation which is the new favorite, "desert truck adventure club." Alex did pretty well without Scott -- makes me wish I had gone to Italy too, because I think he would have been fine. What a difference the last few months have made. Scott printed out Italy pictures from the web and wrote Alex a letter for every night at bedtime, so that helped too.

More on the desert truck adventure club: They separated out all the pickup trucks from the multitude of matchbox (etc) cars. Some looked outfitted for the desert. They started off by hunting treasure. Scott would hide some treasure somewhere and then draw a map to it. We add new treasure from time to time. I'm not even sure what it started with, but it has grown to include screws and washers, buttons, beads from a broken necklace, bits of paper and tin foil, and even transistors and capacitors from the electrical tool box. I bought some gold metallic spray paint but haven't gotten around to making treasure from beans, popcorn and macaroni yet. One day the club built a solar power plant (from legos and big foam dominoes). Sometimes they sound the alarm and rescue animals that have wandered out into the desert. The current incarnation of the game typically involves pirates either stealing treasure from the club or claiming to be friends with the club but either way ending up in jail (Alex dons his policeman hat for that part). Sometimes the Martian guys get into it too.

This brings up another observation. This is probably common to all toddlers and pre-schoolers, but I notice Alex really wants to re-create experiences he has enjoyed. When we had a stretch of nice weather, I would walk with the stroller to pick him up from school, and I would bring him a snack of pirate booty. Now, every day when I drop him off, he tells me to bring him pirate booty in the afternoon (on a side note, one day I didn't and he pitched a fit and wouldn't get into his seat in the truck. He even told me to go home and get it and come back. I said, Alex I don't need this today. He said, yes you do need this today, then started laughing!) One time I took him to Seattle Center for a kid's thing. We got taffy and went out to the International Fountain. We've been back twice since and have had to get taffy and eat it by the fountain. Last week when it was warm, we got out the pool and played in the yard. Alex kept running to the other side of the yard, so I quietly followed him and surprised him when he turned around. He thought it was a riot and had me keep doing it that day and the other times we've played with the pool.

Another thing we are big into repeating is Barney! OK, before you moan too loudly, I have to say that I think Barney has a bad rap from people without kids and that it's really pretty good programming. But, I can see where the bad rap comes from, because we have watched the same episode (Here Kitty, Kitty, in case you want to look it up) OVER and OVER and OVER. It's cool that Alex has learned the songs and can even carry a tune. The down side is that I spent yesterday's house cleaning trying to get "Oh a tiger is an animal that walks around like a great big beautiful cat..." out of my head!

Alex has started to exhibit some shyness about nudity. We were at Jason and Steph's and the kids were playing in the pool. Alex got uncomfortable in wet shorts so I told him he could change or go naked. Surprisingly, he did not like the idea of going naked. There was another time I noticed this shyness. But, he is as interested in his penis as ever. He even shocked me the other day by holding a music wand up on himself, laughing and saying it was his penis (where in the world did he get that??). He noticed right away that the statue of David is naked. We are also into the pee and poop talk, like I'm going to pee on you, and I am walking the fine line between getting rid of it and reinforcing it.

Other items of note: Alex has started a sort of stuttering when he talks, repeating the start of a sentence a few times before getting to the end. I don't think this is anything to worry about but am going to look into it. He is showing more interest in coloring and drawing. He slept "commando" for about a week but after 3 straight mornings of washing sheets, I put him back in a diaper at night. Diapers seem to be dry in the morning, but he is not waking up at all at night so maybe it was stressing him out before -- for awhile, he was waking up crying 2 or 3 times a night. Funny how 7:00 doesn't seem so early when you get uninterrupted sleep! Typical hours are bedtime at 8:45, waking 7:15 - 7:45. He listens to music at bedtime. For a long time it was the African lullabies, then Puff, now one of the Kindermusik CDs.

Scott came home today and didn't nap so he could force himself back to local time. He went to bed at the same time as Alex and they are having a sleep-over in Alex's room. I wonder how long that will last.

Jun 1, 2008

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that Alex is 3 going on 13 and no longer believes anything I say. Me: "We have to leave now or the library will be closed." Alex: "No they won't." Me: "Look, there are some geese flying overhead." Alex: "Those aren't geese." Me: "Don't put your hand there or the door can close and crush it." Alex: "But I can just do this. Big boys can't put their hands there but I can." And this is constant, all day long. Think maybe the boy has a stubborn streak??

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