Alex Notes, Jul - Dec 2008

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July 9, 2008

Alex is turning into more of a little boy every day. He is starting to develop pride in himself and a competitive nature. He is always saying, See how big I am? I'm this big. He wants to be the biggest, the fastest and the oldest. He wants to be the leader. He will ask how old or how big he is going to be tomorrow. Even his toddler tummy has disappeared. He climbs and jumps everything and doesn't fuss when he gets hurt (unless he is really tired). He is starting to develop an affinity for sticks and has been initiated into the art of potion-making with the boys next door.

Another nice growing-up sign is that Alex plays by himself in the mornings now. Scott had taught him to look at the clock and not come into our room before 7:00. Now Alex is up at 8 or 8:30, or, to be honest, I don't really know when he's waking up because he just plays and if I don't hear him, I stay asleep! Yesterday I heard him around 8:00 so I got up and climbed into his bed with him - like he used to do with us - and he thought that was funny. He was up this morning at 7, though, and Scott remarked that Alex wakes up earlier on his turns to get up.

Alex has a really good vocabulary, I think. It's hard to tell, since other kids don't talk to me as much as Alex does (and he can get shy around other adults sometimes, but generally he doesn't). Some words he has thrown out lately that surprised me: barricade, certainly, vehicle, and ordinary. He is learning a lot at school. The other day he was playing with something and said they were his lily pads. I said, Where did you learn about lily pads? He said, At school. He has been singing bits of songs I don't know. People at his school always tell me how smart Alex is, and he also impressed everyone at his gymnastics by singing the Three little spotted frogs song ahead of the teacher.

We are also seeing progress on social interaction. Alex is much more likely to go play with other kids, without us, than he was. I have seen him initiate play with others too. Unfortunately, the last two times at the park, one of the kids was too young to get it, and the other one Alex approached didn't speak any English! I'm working hard to make playdates and we have 2 birthday parties coming up, so Alex should start to feel what it's like to have actual friends.

Alex and the gingerbread truck

Mommy's gingerbread truck was not as good as Emaw's.

Alex's memory continues to amaze us as well. The other day, when I was covering him with a light flannel blanket, he asked where the one with the cars was. We do, in fact, have one from that set, with lots of cars, trucks, planes, etc., but I put it in the give-away pile a long time ago. He might not have even seen it for 6 months. I noticed that I still had it in the give-away pile, so I got it out and gave it back to him. Another example - we were at a stop light on Redmond Way and Alex wanted to know what was there where the road went straight (we always turn left to come home from there). I told him there were just houses. He said that the soccer class was that way. He was close to right -- it was a similar intersection, the next light down, and we had gone to the soccer place (Arena Sports) only twice, at least 4-5 months ago. Alex was also talking a lot about EMaw's gingerbread from Christmas and insisted we make another one so we could put stuff in the back of it. I suspect I am not going to be able to put anything over on this kid. I hope I can stay a step ahead when he starts getting sneaky.

We had a nice 4th of July. We told Alex he could stay up for the fireworks if he took a nap that day (started building up this idea at least a week ahead). On that day, he balked at the nap and said he didn't want to go to fireworks. Then he changed his mind. I told him the way to try for a nap was to darken the room and lie still and quietly for 15 minutes. If he didn't fall asleep he could get up, but if he got up before 15 minutes had passed, the timer would start over (this is something I read, not something I came up with myself). Well, I expected a fight, but he stayed put and fell asleep -- for almost 3 hours! Which was just right because that was how late he stayed up. We took his ear protection (from the wood shop), went to the Petersons for a cookout then walked with them to the Bellevue fireworks. It went fine, he wasn't scared and seemed to enjoy it. After a bit, he said, Mommy, you're my little girl and you don't know what those are. We got home and to bed around 11:30 and slept in until about 8:30, and it didn't even seem to throw him off at all. That's really nice, since flexibility has not really been one of Alex's or my strengths.

August 13, 2008

Oh, let's see, what have we been up to for the last month? I signed Alex up for dance class, as a way to get back into some music activity. The class includes tap, ballet and tumbling. Alex was really cute when we got the shoes. He wanted to put them on when we left the store. I told him that he couldn't wear them on the wood floors at home, so he tapped on the sidewalk in front of the store for about half an hour. Alex really liked the first class but is not as enamored of it now. The other kids are older and have been in dance longer so the class moves a little faster than he is ready for. But he is doing a good job. There's only one more class, then we will probably go back to gymnastics (Alex has actually asked to).

Starting out the hike.

We tried a hike to Twin Falls. It didn't go that well. I guess we got off to a decent start, but Alex fell pretty hard on his knee and when we got to the view point that was 3/4 mile in, he was pretty much done. Scott hiked ahead to the better view while I carried Alex back down. Oh well, it was at least a start.

But, something that we did have success with was camping last weekend. We went with Aaron, Dana and Caleb to the Beverly Creek area north of Cle Elum. Everything went fine, even going potty in the woods (which was a big concern for me) and sleeping. We borrowed a second tent so Alex and I slept in that tent and Scott slept in ours. Alex did a good job entertaining himself, enjoying the woods, and interacting with Caleb. In the morning, we tried another hike and Alex was really excited to go, but he tired out about 1/2 mile in and wanted to be carried. I said I would carry him back, but I was not about to carry him deeper up the trail! The Feavers continued on and we headed back. It was a really good weekend (well, single night).

The way back on the hike.

Alex is motivated to work on going to the potty because we have told him we'd get him his bunk bed once he did. We didn't really make that big a deal about it, just mentioned it, and he is talking about it himself now. There was still an accident (at the pizza place!) but there's a lot more cooperation and success lately.

It's interesting to watch Alex learn through play. Any new experience he has becomes some pretend play. Currently, it's climbing up and sitting on a ladder and being a lifeguard. He makes me be someone in the pool. I have to pay to come in the pool, then he blows the whistle and calls everyone out of the pool because there's a storm. Then, I have to tell him that someone won't get out of the pool and he has to make them get out. Getting to see this kind of thing over and over lets me see that that's how Alex makes sense of his world.

Alex is getting interested in writing his letters. He knows, I would say, all the upper case and most of the lower case letters. He says he wants to do homework like the school age kids, and I have some writing workbooks that I can pull out for him. Alex can spell his first and last name and also has an uncanny ability to know the words you spell out in front of him, not that I think he really is getting it from anything but context.

September 14, 2008

This update opens with a visit to the ER. We were at the library, leaving to go to the park. I wanted to use the restroom, and since Alex hates the noise in there, I let him wait in the lobby. The restroom door was propped open, and just as I was finishing my business, I heard Alex screaming. I hustled out, thinking that either someone started talking to him and it scared him, or worse, that he had tried to open one of the entry doors and gotten his fingers caught. I rushed out, to find Alex dripping blood. Back into the restroom I carried him, to get some paper towels and figure out what happened. I finally figured out he had a cut on his scalp -- he said he fell on the edge of a bench but I cannot figure out how he hit his head where he did, on the bench where he said. I thought we were going to have to call an ambulance since I couldn't drive with him so upset, but the bleeding stopped and Alex calmed down. We drove to the hospital, where rather than stitches they used glue. Alex was unbelievably calm while the doctor was messing with him.

Alex and I took a vacation to Virginia and New Jersey again this year, taking the train between. Virginia seemed very hot to us Pacific Northwesters so we didn't play outside that much. Alex had a few tractor rides with his PawPaw. Jake and Alex actually played together a few times this visit. Jake has matured a lot. On the last visit, he didn't really get how much smaller Alex is, and this time he was really good with Alex. Paw Paw got Alex some fireworks, and I was surprised to see Alex want more of them. Emaw helped Alex climb on some big haybales.

Alex and I did a much better job on the train this time. I did not take the stroller, for one, and we packaged the car seat in a bag that was easier to carry than the big box we toted last year. Plus we didn't have to take as much stuff on the trip as when Alex was younger. We rode to Trenton where the Gasches met us. They had arranged a rental on a canal in Manahawkin (I didn't even know NJ had an area like this -- it reminded me of south Florida without the palm trees). We went to the beach and we painted pottery. I tried doing sand casts with plaster, but that was only moderately successful. Alex liked playing in the waves on the beach, but the next day was super windy and we all stayed huddled under the umbrella. We tried mini golf but Alex balked, favoring the arcade inside, where he actually rode a motorcycle video game and did some other stuff. When we were looking at some pictures before the trip, Alex said he wanted to go back to the park in Lincroft, so Nana and Pop Pop took him while Karen and I finished cleaning up the cottage. Alex was not as impressed with the blue car, but he did find a friend to play with there. No trip to NJ would be complete without a stop at Monmouth Mall to ride all the rides. There were fewer of them this year, and sheez, they cost fifty cents to a dollar now! Alex and I spent the last night at Karen's so we would be close to the airport for an early flight. Overall, I thought Alex did really well with the time change and sleeping in different places. He was pretty bratty towards me though, and it took a few days to reset once we got home.

More to come...

September 30, 2008

So, continuing from when I ran out of time...

I suppose the biggest news regarding Alex is that I have started back to work. As of September 8, Alex has been going to preschool every day. Scott stays home with him in the morning, dropping him off around 9:30 or 10, and I pick him up around 4:30. It was not easy at first, but overall I think it's working out pretty well.

Other observations:

  • Alex is playing a lot more with other kids and talks about his classmates at home. For a long time, it seemed, he was very fascinated with Kshitij and with the idea of being older. Alex was constantly asking, can Kshitij do this or that or the other thing. And, we went to Kshitij's 3rd birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese's. Alex is also more daring at the park and will play with other kids, go down the slide, etc.
  • I was going to comment that Alex has not been lining up his cars as much, but now he has started back doing it. He will play by himself with them for a fairly long time.
  • Alex is starting to write some letters. I let him punch in the phone number for the Safeway discount card on the credit card reader screen, and he's pretty good at it.
  • Alex still likes to pile up stuff. I am not sure where this came from, maybe seeing trucks with stuff in the back, but he is always saying that the couch is his truck (tool van, fire truck, truck going camping, etc.) then loading in everything that is not nailed down.
  • Bike riding is going pretty well. Alex is interested, especially when the neighbor boys are out on their bikes. He doesn't have the braking thing down and I had to chase after him to keep him from crashing one day.
  • Alex is pretty interested in tv but we still don't go over 2 hours a day, and in fact we probably average an hour or less. He likes Sesame Street, Barney, Bob the Builder and Super Why. We also record another reading show, Between the Lions but I think it's a little advanced.
  • We joined the Pro Club (Microsoft pays for me and Google pays for Scott and Alex is free) and I took him swimming there once. He really enjoyed it and I had to make him leave after nearly an hour.

  • December 13, 2008

    My goodness, it's been a long time since I added to the diary! I remarked to Lisa when we were home for a visit that you can gauge Alex's difficult periods by whether or not I am adding notes. When we are battling, I just can't bring myself to write up anything, but when things are going well I have lots to say. But, this delay is not due to Alex being naughty. I think it's partly from starting back to work. I'm just not as productive at home after Alex's bedtime.

    So, let's see... Alex is having his ups and downs with behavior, which I suppose puts him right on track. Scott and I have had to work together to make a strategy for getting more cooperation at home. There have been lots of fights on getting dressed (for Scott now, since I am up and gone before those guys get up), tooth brushing, bedtime, just about everything. There has been a lot of hitting (not hard, but still!), insolence, contrariness, etc. We just got really fed up. Scott pretty much sat Alex down and set him straight one night, which actually seemed to help.

    Here's our new approach. One, a zero-tolerance (well, maybe one warning) on hitting, name calling, etc. Two, an allowance. This is to help with a lot of things, like asking for stuff at the store all the time, and to encourage better behavior by tying it to something tangible. He gets 50-cents a day, contingent on cooperation throughout the day. We are also introducing some chores, which Alex seems to really like. He likes to be helpful. There's also $2 a week that does not depend on anything. I think this is a lot more money than Scott and I used to get as kids! So far, Alex has earned the allowance every day since we started (had to earn back part of it one night after I took a quarter off the table), and he has bought a Lego toy and some pirate figures. And he has helped tidy up toys and take out the trash. So it's going ok so far.

    So, what else? Alex has a new teacher at school (again) but does not seem to be phased by it this time. I like his teachers and think they are doing a good job. He plays with a bunch of boys and comes home talking a lot about Star Wars. I finally learned what "playing Star Wars" entails -- each boy shouts "I'm Darth Vader" or "I'm Obie Kenobie" or some character, then they run across the playground and say it again. Sometimes when I pick Alex up, he's wearing a Superman costume.

    Alex has something else he does that cracks him up. I have no idea where this came from, but he will say (in a sing-song voice) "Get your favorite finger" so I point out a finger. "Open your mouth" so I open my mouth. Then he puts my finger in my mouth and laughs. He also loves saying "poopy" and "stupid" (so sometimes he gets a timeout for using that on Scott and me).

    These days, Alex still loves playing with his cars. When we emptied out the piggy banks to kick-start the idea of allowance, he had $20 and and chose to buy a set of 20 cars. He still likes playing submarine and airline captain, and still piles up a bunch of stuff for driving some sort of truck. He also really likes playing police: the lookout is his top bunk. He and Scott are the police and I'm the bad guy. I have to do something to get put in jail, on the bottom bunk. Then the police go to sleep and I escape and hide somewhere so they have to come put me back in jail. We do this for a few times before Scott or I end it. For some reason, though, Alex is scared to come look for me by himself.

    Alex has not ridden his bike in a long time, and in fact basically had forgotten how a couple weeks ago when he tried again. He still does gymnastics and is a very good climber. He is excited about skiing, and the other night wanted to put on his skis. He put on the boots, anyway, and we went outside for a mini ski lesson. I guess it's good to get him thinking about it before getting out on the snow. We are finally getting snow tonight, so I think we may go out tomorrow and try it for real.

    Alex is, unfortunately, getting into TV a lot. We are having to limit it, but it is also good for when Alex is tired. He watches the Toy Story movie a lot. We also have videos on trains, plus we get ones from the library on planes, boats, etc. He likes Super Why (but they seem to have not made very many episodes of it, since we haven't even been watching very long and seem to have watched them all already), Between the Lions, Bob the Builder, Clifford, Barney, and Mister Rogers. He likes to watch Star Trek with Scott and me -- he calls it Red Team Yellow Team because of the uniforms on the show. We probably watch about an hour and a half a day, some days less.

    I guess that's about it. Hopefully I will write up a bit more after Christmas. Check out Scott's PicasaWeb site for updated pictures.

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