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Oh, I am so far behind! Apologies for dropping the ball on these notes. But, by the same token, the rate of change that we see is not as fast, so you aren't missing that much.
I suppose I should start back at Christmas. Alex "got it" a lot more this year than in the past. Alex really enjoyed helping set up and decorate the tree and put other decorations around the hosue. He had a hard time waiting until Christmas day to open presents. Big hits were a Knight's costume (helmet, shield, sword and sword belt), a dry-erase drawing board (which Scott and I use all the time too), an art studio for the computer, and Toy Story 2 movie, and Louise: The Adventures of a Chicken book. I have a feeling I am missing something but I can't remember that far back! He got a cool game in which you have to push these pods or touch these cones in sequence and he kinda' gets it, but so far Scott and I have had more fun with that.
We had some snow around Christmas. Alex played in the snow a lot more this year than before. We took this rental skis out and tried a few times in the yard. I think the helmet helped him want to stay out longer because it kept his head warm. We actually had to make in come back inside after a couple hours. Last year, he would turn catatonic after about ten minutes in the cold.
We have also gone up to Snoqualmie Pass a couple times and let Alex try skiing. He did a great job and enjoyed it. It's hard for him to learn, but he will pick it up. Another new thing Alex is learning is swimming. We go to the pool at the Pro Club at least once a week. Alex is resistent to trying the things I tell him, but last week, he initiated things I had told him about previously, like going under water, blowing bubbles and using a prone position. So, I expect with the skiing, he is going to internalize some things on his own and do them when he's ready.
One day during the snow, we went over to the Peterson's for Kim's baby shower. Scott was sick (I think, or maybe had to work?) so I took Alex with me, and Jess took Alex out sledding with Axel, and Dave and Dave's brothers and nephews. I was really surprised that he went off with them. Everyone had a great time.We had a good visit with Betty and Karen in January. They took Alex to both the local children's museums, the indoor playground, and more. We also took Alex to his first movie in the theater: The Tale of Desperaux. Surprisingly, he made it through the whole movie, though he did want to leave halfway through then changed his mind.
A funny story: Alex had a piece of thumbnail hanging off. I went to pull it off, but he yanked his hand away and said, No, it's my pet.
Well, as I was racking my brain trying to decide where to start, Alex gave me a big hint. He has been such a pain at bedtime lately! We are still getting him to bed at about the same time, but he complains so much, cries if I don't hang out with him, and then stays awake until about 10 or later. One night I had to turn off his light 3 times. It would be one thing if he were sleeping in late, but he's still up at the usual time (7-7:30). Ugh!
Alex enjoys being rude lately and has a bad case of potty-mouth and stupid-head-itis. He doesn't argue about being sent to his room for it, though, which is remarkable because that's about the only thing he doesn't argue about these days. Like this conversation tonight:
Alex: Donvovan says it's Darth Vader, but it's Dard Vader.
me: No, actually it's Darth.
Alex: No, it's Dard.
me: No, it's Darth Vader.
Alex: It's not Darth Vader, it's Dard Vader.
me: Why did you even ask me? Did you just ask me to argue about it?
Alex: Is it really Darth Vader?
So, let's think of some good thing. Thinking, thinking... Well, Alex is doing really well with his letters and numbers and is starting to learn letter sounds. He really likes playing games on PBSKids and can do a lot by himself. He is learning more about using the cool computer art studio Lisa gave him for Christmas. He has started wanting to get to school in time in the mornings to get a job (line leader, snack helper, etc) at circle time, and he hasn't been in any hurry to leave when I pick him up, so Alex's school day has stretched to roughly 9:30 to 5:30. But he still complains about going and says he never gets to play with me anymore, which is somewhat true because Scott is really the one with all the great imagination games. I tend to do more activity-based play, like going swimming or to the park or library.
One afternoon, we went out to the cul-de-sac to play, and Alex was running around with the older kids (age almost 5 - 10) and keeping up pretty well. He has discovered the wonderful world of sticks, but doesn't grasp any awareness of where the point of his stick is (it's all fun and games until someone loses an eye!).
Scott has been taking Alex to places on the weekends. They go to the Children's Musuem at Seattle Center and to the Museum of Flight. We tried the 3-D Under the Sea (or something like that) movie at the IMAX, but Alex bailed out early. He went to the Factoria children's musuem today on a school field trip and had a good time. Scott has also been teaching Alex about stars and planets, since he seems very interested in it (this month's topic at school).
Alex is 4!
For his birthday, we made cupcakes for him to take to school. Then, on Saturday, we co-hosted a party at Pump It Up with classmate Brennan, whose birthday is a week after Alex's. Most of the school kids came, along with some other folks we invited. I think everyone had a good time. The only thing Alex said he wanted for his birthday this year was a park ranger uniform. The Gasches sent a t-shirt and ball-cap from Yosemite plus a uniform-type outfit from the Grand Canyon. Alex was also thrilled with a light-saber that Jake picked out. He got a cool cow bank for organizing spending and saving money (complete with a roll each of quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies -- must have cost a lot to mail that!), a dynamo flashlight with clear plastic so you can see all the parts moving, some books, a puzzle and of course some Legos.
At Alex's checkup, he measured 40 3/4" (50-75th percentile), weighed 36 pounds (50th percentile), and had a BMI of 15.2 (25-50th percentile). He had to get 4 shots and this was the first time he was distressed about it beforehand and reacted when getting them. Oh well, no more until he turns 11. One of the things they asked Alex to do at the checkup was to try to copy some shapes (non-trivial ones) and then on the back of the paper, to draw a person. I was really curious how that would go, since I had never seen Alex try to draw a person and I have never asked him to draw anything in particular before. He did fine -- the doctor said that even some 5-year-olds don't do any better, so that was good.
We have been having behavior issues (maybe you noticed...) so we have started some new tactics. In particular, I am changing my work schedule to work 5 shorter days instead of 4 full days, so that I can pick Alex up from school earlier each day. At school, they go outside from 4 until 4:30, but the time after that is unstructured and the kids are cranky and there's an older boy (missed kindergarden cutoff by one day, so he's a year and a half older than Alex) who gives Alex trouble and from whom Alex is picking up bad habits. No, I don't think Alex is perfect and yes, I know he creates his own bad habits as well. But it's interesting that another mom named names before I brought it up, so it's not just me! Now I am trying to get Alex around 4:30, or earlier, and go to the park or come play at home. Scott is trying to play more in the mornings too. After only a week of this, things are much improved around here. Attitude and helpfulness are better, and requests for tv have diminished.
Alex is interested in hiking and biking, so I took him on a hike in Bridle Trails Park. He was alarmed at the amount of horse poop! We did set out on any particular trail, but when it was close to time to head home, we started following one of the marked trails that I knew would lead back to the parking lot. Yeah, um, 3.6 miles later! We were there about 2 1/2 hours and Alex walked pretty much the whole time. He started getting really tired but never got whiny. I refused to carry him until I knew how far we were (asked various people on horseback who passed by), so I carried him for just over 1/2 mile. Alex picked up some sticks, leaves, and a rock and we glued it down to make a collage when we got home. On Tuesday, Scott was entertaining a work visitor from Dublin at Redhook Brewery, so Alex and I took the bike up to Woodinville and rode out to Redhook and met them for dinner. Next time, I'll take Alex's bike and let him ride too.
One day Scott and I were talking about some testers in my group at work. Alex wanted to know what we were talking about, so Scott tried to explain it with an example of how to test a car. He said he would do something like turn the key and make sure the car started, then turn the key and make sure it turned off. Then Alex came up with some good ones, like "I would drive it up a really steep hill and see if it could go up" and "I would push on the gas pedal and see if smoke comes out the exhaust". He totally got the concept. I was so impressed I told some people at work about it the next day.
In art, Alex is starting to make more elaborate drawings of actual things (ok, imaginary actual things, like a flying castle, but still, going beyond scribbles). The other day when I picked him up, he was practicing cutting with scissors. He took all the pieces he had cut and said he wanted to glue them together to make a space ship. So I made a space ship out of a styro cup and some paper plates and cardboard, and tonight he glued on some of the paper and then painted it, without any hep from me at all. He does dot-to-dots pretty well, and regularly writes his name, except the X is turned more like a t. Interest in writing comes and goes, though. A few times, Alex asked how to spell something (STOP and CAUTION) and wrote it out. But then he hasn't shown interest in it for awhile since.
We are working on reading readiness as well. Scott started sounding out words and letters, so I have taken that on too and Alex can recognize some words. Of course he relies on context a lot too, but I think that's how people learn to read.
Generally, Alex has been pretty happy and cooperative, relatively speaking, but throws hissy fits and tells me I am the worst mom in the world when I won't let him have only cheetos and bacon for dinner (true story, not hyperbole). Maybe he will thank me for that one day. He was mean to Scott, maybe the expression of lingering anger after the 10-day Poland trip? Now he's back to hanging out with Daddy and thinks I'm mean. Except of course when I'm the only one around.
Alex likes to play hide and seek and is getting pretty good at finding hiding places. But once he finds a good one, he likes to use it for awhile so you have to look elsewhere for awhile before checking that spot again. He also likes to sneak up on me if I'm already downstairs when he gets up. He can be amazingly quiet when he wants to be.
Alex made me really proud the other day in the toy store. He was playing at the train table and wanted to show me something, but a younger child (2-ish) came over and started to play with the same thing. Alex didn't fuss or grab the toy, he just waited until the boy was done and then set it back up the way he wanted to show me.
We signed Alex up for his own NetFlix queue, since he likes to keep movies for awhile (we were only signed up to have one disk at a time). He watched:
Wow, so much has happened I don't know where to start. So I will start with a couple things that happened today. One, Alex recited the "Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear" rhyme. Scott and I had played around with tongue twisters a week or more ago, but I don't think we practiced it since then or anything, so I was pretty surprised. Another - we have been working on having Alex help out with chores more, including clearing his plate after meals and snacks. At first he would whine, "I am getting so tired of doing this!" which of course was met with zero sympathy. Today on me, he tried a different tack: "Mommy, will you do it for me, because you love me so much?" Of course I cracked up, and when he repeated it, I did in fact clear his dishes but informed him that I would not do it again for that reason and he would have to get more creative.
We bought a kid's tandem for the bike (Novara Afterburner, at REI (though I don't know how long that link will be good). The first ride was great. We drove up to a park in Woodinville and biked to Redhook for lunch. The second ride, not so good. We started at Redmond Town Center but only got a mile or so up the trail when Alex complained of being cold. Of course he had not heeded advice to wear a long sleeve shirt. We turned around and went to the gym instead.
Alex started swimming lessons at the Pro Club on Friday. He did really well and had a good time.
The Gasches were here at the end of August and we all went out to Ocean Shores for a few days. It was fun seeing Alex running around on the beach and playing in the grassy dunes. We played in the waves, but the water was too rough and it was too cold to really get out much past our knees. We went to Lake Quinault for a series of short hikes. Alex had sleepovers with his Nana just about every night they were here. Here are Scott's pictures.
Alex's daycare had enough kids the right age to separate out a pre-K class this fall. I'm glad, because we were concerned about Alex doing basically the same thing in the same room for yet another year. He is glad too and makes a big deal pf telling people he is in pre-K. He seems pretty happy at school most days. There is not as much drama among 4-year-olds as there is with the 3-year-olds.
We are working on sleeping without a diaper overnight, but I don't know if it is going to happen. I put my foot down about it because Alex was being lazy and not at all getting the idea of trying to be dry. We tried a few nights in the past, here and there. I make up his bed and his old "little bed" (the bench top seat made from the old sofa cushions) and leave out dry pajamas for him in the bathroom. For a kid who feigns being unable to dress himself in the morning, he does a remarkable job of changing into dry pajamas and moving beds without waking Scott or me up. The first night, he wet both beds -- the second time because he forgot he wasn't wearing a diaper (meaning, he's been using it while awake, instead of getting up and going to the bathroom). Since that night, he has been wet once each night. I said we would give it two weeks, but I am not convinced that he is not just a really sound sleeper. We will see how this turns out...
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