Monday, April 30, 2012

The Great Outdoors

We've been loving the glorious spring weather this year.  Drew especially loves being outside.  He's figured out how to open the sliding screen door and let himself out back.  
These are his "outside" pants.

Because this is his favorite mode of motation outside.  Is it too embarrassing to sew patches on the seat of his pants?  And no, this is not our house.  Drew is a bit obsessive about climbing stairs.  Everyone's stairs.  On the whole street.

We also broke out the sand and water boxes from last summer.  Clean, simple fun.  OK, well not really very clean--especially with Drew.  Our house kind of feels like a beach house now, and not in a good way.  And not actually all that simple, considering we had to traverse the entire length of Lowe's three times before we found playground sand.  And then I had to carry a 60 lb bag of sand through the house and into the backyard.  I was REALLY hoping that the bag wouldn't break in the house.  

But they loved it and it feels so nice outside, I don't even mind my sandy floors.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

April 2012 Tidbits

A very common Tess refrain these days:  "I know that already."

Tess decided that she really needed a vanity dressing table in her room so, in her words, "I can do my hair and makeup and all that to get ready for the day."  When she saw that her plea was falling on deaf ears, she came up with a "great idea" to make her own mirror.  She drew and cut her mirror out of paper and taped it above the small craft table in her room.   Her "mirror" is rimmed in movie-star-style light bulbs, and she even drew a separate light switch which she taped to the wall so she can turn the "lights" on and off.  This morning she hauled all of her hair stuff to the table so she could "get ready" while staring at mirror-shaped piece of paper on the wall.

Tess was nervous to go to Cade's birthday party by herself.  This is somewhat understandable since there were a lot of kids she didn't know at his party last year.  I agreed to stay with her and I helped out her friend Danielle who was also a little shy at the party.  At one point, Danielle said to me, "Tess' mom, can you stand beside me too?"  On the way home Tess said to me, "Mom, that's why I wanted you to stay.  So you could help Danielle.  I knew she would need that."  Sure Tess--you weren't nervous at all, just looking out for your friend.

"Mom, I have some really exciting news! In a few minutes, I'm going to have a baby! (I'm just pretending.)"

Every weekend Ryan likes to do the crossword puzzle in the Washington Post magazine. Ryan and Tess also like to work on the "spot the difference" picture puzzle in the magazine. Today Tess told Ryan she wanted to do the "spotword" puzzle with him.

"Mom, can I watch Disney Jr., where the magic begins?"

Drewie's been flush with fever, so I told Tess she shouldn't kiss on him because she might catch his germ. Tess lamented, "But it's so hard not to kiss his cheeks cuz they are so pink and so cute!"

Drew wasn't feeling well this morning, which means that Tess was suddenly sick too. That is, until I mentioned an activity she wanted to do. "I'm not sick. I think I was just pretending. You know how I know I'm healthy? Cuz I can hear my heart going "bum-bum, bum-bum, bum-bum."

Tess informed me excitedly that for the upcoming "Mother's Day Tea" party at her school, we could drink tea and coffee. Her hopes were pretty much dashed when I had to break the news to her that we would be drinking lemonade.

As we were discussing the Mother's Day Tea, Ryan told Tess that he was disappointed he didn't get to come. He suggested that he hide in a neighboring room and she could slip him cookies and cakes. "Don't worry Dad," she said. "I'm going to have a BOY'S Tea Party so you can come too!" She looked at me and whispered out of the corner her mouth, "I'm just trying to make him happy." Then she winked and flashed me a "thumbs-up" sign.

Tess was whipping up a pretend meal for Ryan in her play kitchen. She asked him, "Do you want white salt or black salt?" "Black salt?" he asked. "Do you mean pepper?" "Yeah pepper," she replied.

"Mom, when I grow up I want to be 4 things: a mommy, pregnant, a church teacher, and a school teacher."

Most kids wear holes in the knees of their pants. Drew wears holes in the seat of his pants.

"Mom, you make me the worst day ever!"

While visiting the Natural History Museum, Tess was fascinated by an exhibit on space. There was an area that looked like a "little movie theater" with a screen and two seats. Eagerly, she ran over to watch a film about the formation of the solar system. Right after a meteorite slammed into the Earth's mantle to form the moon, Tess turned to me and said, "I sure wish we had some candy to go with this movie!"

When I asked Tess whether she wanted swiss or cheddar cheese on her sandwich, she told me she wanted "sweater" cheese. I guess that means a little bit of both?

At the library, I had Tess pick out some nonfiction books that looked interesting to her. (She calls nonfiction books "serious books.") One book she picked out was on bacteria. (No, I didn't let her pick just anything. I did veto "How Oil Rigs Work.") The bacteria book was way over her head, but Ryan managed to glean some bits of information to share while it reading to Tess. When they were finished, she told him, "The bacteria in my belly are tickling me!"

Tess was proud to show me a craft she made at school. According to her report, they were given different foam shapes that they were supposed to decorate with smiley faces. Tess handed me a butterfly with 4 googly eyes--one on each wing. I smiled and said, "That's a silly butterfly with four eyeballs!" Slightly offended, she explained to me that it wasn't a silly butterfly. "Dad read me a butterfly book that said some butterflies have large spots on their wings that look like big eyes to scare other animals away." Apparently her craft was not silly, but a study of mimicry as a defense mechanism. I stand corrected.

Drew can now say ball, bottle, bird, baby, bath, bubble, andberry. Unfortunately, all his words sound exactly like "ba."

Tess wanted to use the computer, which was out of battery power. She plugged in the cord and said, "S-l-l-l-urp! Drink it up computer! Drink up your food!"

After a rough night, Tess ended up spending the rest of the night in bed with us. Thus, no one but Tess got any sleep. When she rose bright, early and cheery the next morning, she proclaimed with a smile: "I was here the whole time!" No kidding.

Tess was excited when I told her we were going to Nana & Papa's house for dinner. I reminded her that there wouldn't be cousins there this time. "I know that already. You want to play with me in the exercise room? I know--you can be my cousin!"

Drew now knows ASL signs for lightmilkall done, and bird.Unfortunately, his signs can be tough to decipher since he manifests each one with excited hand shaking and squeezing.
Usually context helps. The rest of the time I just pretend to know what he means.

I've noticed a pattern of evolutionary drift when it comes to the names Tess picks for her dolls. For a while, she preferred the name "Charlotte." In a slight shift, her favorite doll name is now "Harlot."

Drew's new favorite activity is to climb up Tess' stool in the bathroom and try to reach the sink. Last time he did this, Tess reported to me: "Mom, I turned on the the water in the sink so Drew can play. Say thank you, Mom."

"Boys can have ponytails too, you know. If they are really old and have mustaches."

"Mom, I really wish our car had a TV. Most cars do, you know."

I finally figured out how to get Drew to try new foods: hold him on my lap while I eat and tell him, "No, no Drew. That food's not for you. It's Mama's food. No, no!"

Drew folded his arms for the prayer for the first time tonight.

"Mom, next time you go to choir practice, I want to come too. But not to the nursery. I want to go to the choir part. You know why? Cuz I got a beautiful voice!" [Piercing falsetto, vibrato voice] "Laaaaaaaaaa!"

Drew is the only baby I know who can jump sitting down.

Ryan and Tess were getting ready to go out and he asked her if she needed her sunglasses. She looked at him and squinted her eyes, "Nope--these are my sunglasses."

Tess pulled her sunglasses down to the tip of her nose and peered at me over top of them. "Do I look like a really important person?"

Between Easter and all the fairy tales we've been reading lately, Tess has been talking a lot about death. She was telling one of her dolls what it means to have "good luck," and the following description of death ensued: "Good luck means you have only good things happen to you. Like you don't die. Not now, you don't die, but you do die sometimes. Because everyone dies. But then, know what? You come back to life and you don't die ever again! And you get to live with your family for 100 years! Know what it means when you die? It means you fall on the ground."

Tess explained how it is that you can have a daydream: "If you take a nap during the daytime."

Tess told me she was going to make some signs for our house that say: "No shoes in the house." Wonder where she got that idea.

Tess has been having fun over Spring Break playing with her Morley cousins. Last night Tess asked, "You know my cousin who's a little bit my age?" Um, you mean Jake? "Yeah, Jake. He's my favorite boy. Six is a good age."

"I'm going to be three things when I grow up: a mommy, a nursery teacher and a school teacher! Oh, and I want to be a worker too."

Tess informed me that when she grows up, she's going to be a mommy with a job who goes to work. When I asked who is going to take care of her kids, she replied, "Their daddy can stay and babysitter them."

Tess (while watching Disney Junior): "Can we go to Disney Wo[unclear]?"
Dad: "Disney World?"
Tess: "No, Disney Wall."
Dad: "I think that's located in China."

Ryan and I burrowed deeper under the blankets early Saturday morning as we heard Drew fussing and Tess start spelling out loud: "M-O-M! M-O-M! M-O-M!," as if she was sending a dire SOS signal. We finally gave in and called for Tess to come hop in bed with us. She gave a tortured cry and replied through her tears with what is sure to become a classic line, "I can't because I'm watching Drew!"

Dad (while reading Little Red Riding Hood): "Tess, why did the wolf go to Grandma's house, put on her nightgown, and climb into her bed? What did he want?"
Tess: "He wanted to eat her cake! He was hungry."

This morning Tess and I played a cooking game on the iPod and took turns adding ingredients to the mixing bowl. With only a few ingredients left to be added, she pointed to the salt and said to me, "That ingredient there is waiting for you." (RKH)

Tess (after turning on her Primary songs CD): "We sing this song in Primary. I LOVE to sing in Primary!"
Dad: "Tess, do you sing softly or loudly in Primary?"
Tess: "Sometimes loud and sometimes soft."
Dad: "Do you yell during some songs?"
Tess: "No. But you can yell in Primary songs about yelling."

Mom: "Tess, you sure have lots of ideas."
Tess: "That's because I'm a really good thinker."

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

A Metamorphosis

We attended an open house at Tess' preschool.  Her classroom was decorated to the nines with all the artwork and projects they've been working on all year.  I have a special place in my heart for St. Matthew's and Tess' teachers, Mrs. Hope McCaw and Mrs. Laura Ellis.  I remember how hysterical she was the first day I had to leave her, and Mrs. McCaw picked Tess up, held her and gave her a long hug.  Teachers aren't supposed to do that these days, but it's just what Tess needed to feel comfortable and understood.  Tess' Primary teachers during this time, Sister Darlene Smith and Sister Liz Cummings, have modeled similar loving behavior for Tess at church, and have been important influences as well.

As difficult an experience as the preschool trauma drama has been, it's helped me better understand the kind of teacher Tess responds to.  Talking with her teacher, she agreed that Tess doesn't need someone to hold her hand the whole time, but she does need to trust her teacher and know she can turn to her if she needs help.  Tess still tells me about the time she had an "accident" and how Mrs. Ellis "wasn't mad at all.  You get to go in a little room and put on new underwears and pants!"  Mrs. McCaw doesn't rush or push the class; the pace is nice and relaxed and the atmosphere is encouraging and nurturing.

Bit by bit, Tess has started to come out of her shell and feel comfortable there.  She's made good little friends and loves her school days.  Tess' sparkle and curiosity has returned, in place of the clinginess and constant anxiety.  Often when I pick her up from school, she'll say, "Awww, Mom!  I want to go back to school right now!  I love my school!''  Music to my ears!

"If you give a preschooler a pancake...."

Self portraits.

In her favorite center, the "home" center.

Playing with windsocks and streamers in the wind.

Marble painting. 

They have a squirrel that lives outside their classroom window that they've named "Super Squirrel."

Sprouting seeds.

Dress-up time.

Hatching butterflies in their classroom.

We were so proud of Tess that a little ice cream celebration was in order.

I'd been meaning to take Tess back to the butterfly exhibit at the Natural History Museum.  Since she's been learning about butterflies in school, this was a good opportunity.  Again, it was a big change since the last time she went and was so terrified.  I think they've "grown" more butterflies since last time--they were truly everywhere!

Lots of changes--all for the better!

Friday, April 20, 2012

An Afternoon

I took the kids on an afternoon outing to Occoquan to feed the ducks.  I don't know if it was the perfect weather, appreciative waterfowl, or ample number of fence slats for Drewie to walk along, but the kids didn't want to leave!

A few pics of Drewie in motion (time-lapse style):


The all-important transition from crawling to scooting.

The scoot.

And he's up!

Come rescue me because I can't get down myself!

My curious Tess:

 This is her "I'm telling you a serious, interesting story" face.  I love this face.

Note also the pink headband. Tess has a thing for headbands these days.  It started when we picked up our mail, which was wrapped in a large rubber band.  Of course, she had a "great idea" that it could be a headband, and she donned it 70's "Let's-Get-Physical" style, across her forehead.  Then she had another "great idea" to color the rubber band with her nonpermanent markers, so it left stripes of marker on her forehead.  After she'd been wearing it a while, Ryan and I suddenly heard panicked Tess shrieks as she screamed, "It's too tight, it's too tight!"  The rubber band headband compression had become too much for her.  It left tight red marks across her forehead along with the marker stripes.

Of course she was very upset because she loved her headband and really needed a headband for "exercising," so I finally appeased her with a promise to buy her a real headband.  At the store she passed up the stretchy elastic headbands for some plastic ones, which she now wears constantly.  Probably for the best, since I'm not sure how the Jane Fonda look would've gone over at school.

And a number of other Tess faces that she took on the way home.  I often turn on my camera to find an extensive series of photos by Tess.  I usually delete them, but these are just too "Tess."