Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Harvesting Arugula

Harper loves to help in the garden and in the kitchen. She often asks to sit on the counter and help me cook. She likes when she gets to pour ingredients into a bowl and stir it all up. She also likes when it is time to make the salad. She will go outside with mom or dad and harvest arugula from our garden. Then we come inside and wash it. She really likes to use the salad spinner to dry it off. She enjoys it, and she is getting to be a good helper.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Communicating Joy

Jack is more and more expressive everyday. He waves his little hand and flashes a coy smile at his favorite people. If you say "bounce, bounce, bounce", he dances and bounces his body. He started clapping his hands in celebration two days ago. If you say, "Yay" and clap, he'll follow suit. Or if he's feeling it, he just starts clapping on his own. It's fun to hear baby hands clap together and see your little boy smiling up at you, hands mirroring the obvious joy his face is radiating. Jack likes to applaud his sister when she does something impressive (sings songs, runs, hops...). He also says something that sounds like "Yay" when I prompt him.

He's got a sweet, subtle sense of humor, too. When I'm walking and singing him to sleep, if I stop the song and the walk abruptly and look at him, he smiles at me like he gets the joke. If I ask him, "Do you think that's funny?" He smiles and laughs like he understands what 'funny' means.

Just like Harper, Jack's enjoying the bird mobile/toy on the side of his crib. When he wakes from his nap, he entertains himself by pushing the button with his foot and watching the birds fly around and around to the tune of classical music. I often hear the sound of this toy before I hear him cry out through the monitor. Such a sweetie pie. We're trying to use his crib more and he's taking to it slowly. It just requires patience and consistency and it's a little tougher to do it with #2 than with Harper, simply because he is the second child (keeping Harper quiet, keeping Harper out of her own room when Jack's having his AM nap, worrying about Jack's noise waking Harper...).

Having two is definitely tougher than one, but we lucked out that Jack is as sweet as he is. Harper and Jack are great buddies, and his general contentment, attachment and lovey-ness, and capacity for joy makes him a natural part of our family and a fun part of everything.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Sunset Harper

Harper continues to be a curious and sweet girl, always wanting to know, always wanting to love. Her relationship with Jack is very warm. A couple of days, when Jack was having his morning nap and we were getting ready for the day, Harper lamented his absence, saying, "Mama, I don't like when he's sleeping because then I can't see his beautiful eyes!"

Jack's becoming more and more verbal, experimenting with new sounds all the time. Last week, he was on a kick with the "huh huh huh" sound (said shouting enthusiastically). Every morning, Jack would wake and begin these shouts loud enough for Harper to hear in her room. She came in one morning and told me, "Mama, Jack's a rooster!" Needless to say, Ethan loved that nickname for little Jack. One evening, while driving past the COS farm at dusk, Harper looked out the window at the passing animals and the setting sun and declared, "I'm Sunset Harper." Again, an instantly favorite nickname was born. Henceforth, Ethan's been calling the kids "Sunset Harper and The Rooster".

Harper's facility with language continues to amaze. She is sight-reading many words now, and sounding out with contextual help many more words. It is clear she feels very successful with reading and every time we do some educational activity at the "artist table", she is 100% into it. She takes the pasting, reading, coloring, and determining-the-answer quite seriously. Honestly, if I were grading her for all of these workbook pages, she'd be scoring about a 95%. Her first answer is rarely wrong. She's also made up a few words of her own (reminds me of my first made-up words, i.e. "Honkadoodeous"). A short dictionary follows:

Queeze: v. to squeeze extra hard (with teeth clinched and everything)
Noda: n. the desire to queeze
Tadee: n. morning time
Tada: n. evening
Tadeaux: n. afternoon

The girl is also good with numbers. The other day she pointed out the "seven palm trees" out the window, and sure enough I counted seven tops of trees poking out from the suburban skyline. She is becoming faster at adding numbers together and we've been using "subtractions strips" to learn to take away. It all comes very easy for her. She spent the night with Grandma a couple nights ago and when she returned Grandma told us that Harper could count by tens. This was news to us, especially because we've never talked about it or worked on it. She must have figured it out on her own (?)... is that possible? She counted this way to ninety without any need for correction, but had to be reminded that 100 would be next.

She's clearly cognitively ready for preschool, but Harper is also a very cautious girl. We know school will challenge her not so much academically, but more socially and physically. We recently got her a small slide for our yard. At the store, she was excited about the idea. When it was assembled at home, she didn't want anything to do with it. E and I were frustrated, wondering how you teach a kid to be more brave. We set her on the top several times and she slid down (with a little trepidation), but would not climb the ladder at the back for anything. Part of the reasoning behind the purchase was that it was something Harper could do for and by herself. We were feeling a little disappointed that night, but over the course of the next three days, Harper began to get more comfortable with the slide. Each day, she went one step further up the ladder in the back, and each day she approached the slide with more enthusiasm and less fear. One day I watched in surprise when she did it all by herself, without requesting Mom or Dad to be behind her for security. It was a great lesson for us all. Harper learned about trying and trying again, doing things for herself, overcoming fear, trusting Mom and Dad. We learned that you can't rush a kid into doing something before their time and you have to allow for the timing to be different than you want or expect. Other kids Harper's age are not as reticent about playground equipment. But then, other kids Harper's age are not as brilliant in so many ways, either. Harper will enjoy the confidence of always knowing the answer, but she'll definitely have to face and overcome some fear when she begins preschool.

Speaking of preschool, we've tried to enroll her in Montessori's summer program (so she'd start the 2nd week of July) rather than September, but we're still waiting to hear back from them (probably next week). Keep your fingers crossed for us!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Happy Boy

Wii Bowling

This is Harper's second time Wii bowling. She bowled this game completely unassisted. Note the two strikes and two spares.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Harper, circa 1940

Teeth Photo

Photo taken 3/8/08 See 'em? Click to see full screen.

7 months old today!

Jack Jack has begun waving hi and bye. It is sooooooo cute... the blogging doesn't do it justice. In true genius fashion, the boy is waving his greetings to loved ones at a very young age. He first waved back to us on Saturday morning, just a few days before he turned 7 months. He will often wave back in reply to your greetings, but perhaps the coolest part of this is that he will also initiate your interaction by beginning to wave at you without any solicitations. He just wants to say "hi".

Jack remains a super sweet kid, leaning into me when he wants to nurse or if he is feeling a little shy. He prefers Mama, a little of the "stranger anxiety" setting in, and when in another's arms, he'll whine a sad (almost dog-like) sound at me with eyes fixed until I respond and rescue him. He instantly, I mean instantly, stops his fuss when Mama holds him. That goes for waking up from a not-in-Mom's-arms nap, as well. He will cry out, maybe even tear up, but as soon as I have him, it's completely over. Sometimes he'll even smile at me through wet eyes. He's definitely well-attached. Jack adores his Daddy, too. He tosses gleaming smiles at Dad when E returns home from work or when we approach Dad. He leans into Daddy when he's tired. He continues to adore his sister, clearly missing her when he wakes before Harper in the afternoon, and clearly happy to see her when she emerges from her nap.

Jack got his 6 month shots yesterday. At the appointment, he measured 27 1/2" long and weighed in at 16 lbs. 3 oz. All of these stats mean he's not particularly tall (a bit taller than average... 65th percentile) and he's skinny (35th percentile) for his age.

Knowing that this is my last time in life with a baby, I am savoring the moments with little Jack. I am so glad that I have the chance to be home with my little ones as they start their important lives. I hold Jack for his afternoon nap (he usually naps in the AM, during Harper's afternoon nap, and occasionally evening-- although we're phasing that one out). He sleeps nestled in, on my left arm and if all is well (no snot, no diarrhea, nothing ailing him), he's a good sleeper at night, only waking once or twice to have a quick sip and go right back to sleep. As he falls asleep, he usually sings/hums a little song to himself. I held Harper more than most Mommies, too, and looking back I have no regrets: I didn't miss any opportunities for cuddling, she's well-attached and ( I believe) as a result, easy to discipline, and she's a great sleeper while many of her peers we know don't sleep as well as she. Jack loves to snuggle in and be lovey, and why deny him that luxury?

He still nurses 97% of his nutritional intake, but we've started to introduce some cereals (he likes them better than the baby food stuff). Interestingly, the introduction of this additional food has been just that, additional. It hasn't seemed to change his desire for "ninny milk" yet. He's a growing, hungry boy!

Since we've been gardening lately, we've learned that Jack really likes to be outside. We put on a wide-brimmed white hat, throw out a blanket for him, and he's happy in the grass with a few toys. He watches me work and smiles at me often. As my great Aunt Jesse said upon seeing his birth announcement, "he's smiling because he knows he's landed in a soft place"... I think there's something to that. He truly loves his family, and he's a perfect fit with all of us.