My baby!

Sep. 17th, 2013 08:59 pm
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Today Casper left school as a walker, met up with 3 6th grade girls (2 the other girls on her soccer team) and they walked to the public library (about a block away, through a very preppy posh shopping district) and did their homework. Then a parent picked them up and took them to one family's house and fed them, and took them to soccer.

Everything was fine, of course, but we had no contact (not that we were expecting any) from school drop-off at 9am to soccer pick up. I am a little bit like, "My Baby!" and kind of pleased that this was no big deal. Casper said the 6th graders did tend to imply she was a bit of a baby, but she thinks they thought she was only in 4th grade, not 5th. They seem like nice girls.

Dillo, for his part, asked for a spelling test tonight at snack time. Because mr. flea was helping Casper study her spelling words Monday night, and he was all boastful that HE could spell those words. (Which he can. His spelling instincts are pretty good, while hers are abysmal, although he did get caught up with "goat" this afternoon (he tried "gote" and thought that seemed wrong, but couldn't decide what was right so he stopped at chickens.) He's getting gifted testing on Oct. 5 to see if he can get into the gifted program, and I am a little worried. It's a CogAt test, which he had in K and just missed the gifted cutoff (95%ile). But if he doesn't make it this round they also take results from the content-based grade level tests he'll take later this year, and I suspect he will ace those.


Nov. 26th, 2011 09:41 pm
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Dillo read me the letter from his grandmother that he has posted on his bulletin board tonight. I went and got an Elephant and Piggie book and asked him to read it to me, and he did. He needed help with a very few words - now, and here, and he had trouble with a few long words. Mostly once I helped him with a word, he could read it again, although he never quite got "banana." (We read We Are In A Book.) I said, "You must be working so hard on your reading at school!" and he said, "They don't teach us reading, they only teach us math." I asked him how he's learned to read so well and he said he didn't know. He still doesn't really get silent e, but he has good instincts at word guessing and can sound out a lot, and rarely reverses letters. I'd say he's probably reading now, mid-K, about as well as Casper was reading at the end of first/beginning of second grade, and with more endurance and ease. Lucky guy, to have it come so easily.
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Let us begin with school. The school is a "neighborhood" public school, in a very nice neighborhood (some rentals in the zone, but houses for sale at $4-500,000 are the standard.) Judging by eye the student body is about 10% non-white, largely black but a few Asians (south and east); I have not seen a child I would guess is Latino. There are a lot of blondes; we're back in the land of the Germans! We're scheduled to get on the bus route on October 24 (there is no stop within 1/4 mile of our house, so they have to create a stop for us, and this takes 2 weeks), but in the meantime our routine is mr. flea drives us all to school at about 8:30; the kids play on the playground and I watch them (other kids start showing up by 8:45, the before-school program, kids off the buses, and drop-offs); and at 9:15 they line up and go into school and I walk 2.1 miles home.

In the afternoon I walk 2.1 miles back to school, pick the kids up when they are released at 3:35, and we all walk home. We haven't actually walked the whole thing yet. Day 1 we were 2/3 of the way home and our neighbors drove by and picked us up (on purpose - I had mentioned the bus assignment delay, and their 8 year old saw us from her schoolbus and begged her mother to come get us so they could play. Neighbor 8 year old and Casper have hit it off great guns - a sleepover is planned for tonight.) Yesterday it rained and mr. flea did the pickup, but he forgot and was late and was unreachable at work, so if it rains again I am calling Nice Neighbor and asking for help rather than spending an hour and a half trying not to panic about whether someone is picking up my kids. Today is cool but sunny and I am planning to break at the library.

Dillo is in K is a large mixed class (I think it's actually K and 1 together) of about 36 kids and 2 teachers, although one of the teacher is his primary. He seems to be doing fine, and the work is at his level, and to his interests (they are doing planets and the sun; we had a talk about why Pluto was no longer a planet this morning). He had an accident yesterday, but this is hardly unusual for him.

In general, Dillo has pretty much taught himself to read this past month. He sounds out words everywhere and all the time - from boxes, on signs, anything with letters. He hasn't grasped the Silent E concept yet, and in general tends to be frustrated that letters do not always make the same sounds, but once he's read a word he tends to remember it. SO completely different from Casper at this age, who got letter identification and sounds, but never had any spontaneous interest in sounding out words and in fact is still not very good at it.

Casper is in 3rd grade in a small classroom with about 20 kids and 1 teacher and a part-time student aide. She got off to a decent start socially - the teacher cleverly seating her next to an extremely social and outgoing girl - but has been overwhelmed and disorganized about work. She never brought the homework packet home, and I discovered last night that she had a spelling test today, but she had no idea on which chapter in the spelling book, and she seems to have lost the book (Danger Along the Ohio) that is serving as their reading and social studies text (it has never come home). The teacher has been responsive to email, so I hope we can get Casper sorted out soon. She is happy, in general, and they have started division (with Smarties) and she picked it right up, and I sent her in with $5 to buy a recorder for music class.

At home she had a brief phase of obsessively reading Dahl's Matilda (her proper first chapter book) but she has stalled out on p. 91 and I need to get her going again. Neighbor 8 year old takes a dance class that seems fine, so I think we will sign Casper up for that too. Next to look at are Girl Scouts (although she does not seem interested at the moment), and maybe Art club at school, and then when our finances settle out some kind of music lessons I think.

Every afternoon the 4 kids on the block play together, outside, at their house, and at ours (Neighbors have a 5 year old girl with an October birthday, so she is still in preschool; she and Dillo are not BFFs like Casper and the 8 year old, but they deal perfectly well). I was brave and spent 45 minutes with the parents over a glass of wine yesterday (and nearly burned our soup - gas stoves are enthusiastic!) so I am starting to get to know them.
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I go back to work tomorrow; the kids start school Wednesday.

They have written 3 thank-you notes with little fuss.  Casper's are somewhat routine but still decent, and Dillo writes his name and the name of the gift-giver (which I spell).  Dillo's writing is adorable - his es are backwards - and he has developed in figural drawing, too, with round eyes and smiles and bodies and limbs.  He still prefers drawing rockets to people.

We are almost finished with The Hobbit - read two chapters this noon in the sun on the porch, with the kids swinging in the hammock.  I'd like to finish tonight.  Dillo only partly follows, but likes to pretend he is little Bilbo with his sword Sting.

I didn't get much accomplished, and was stressed out by unstructured days in cold weather with the kids, but it was okay.
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Dillo has so much going on in his brain right now. When he yells MOOOOOM! at 5am and I go snuggle him, he lies next to me whispering things like "ssss, ssss, tttt, tttt, stop." Or counting the syllables in words, or the sounds. He knows most of the letters and what they look like in capital and lower case, and most of their basic sounds. He knows his numbers. That's all not unusual for his age (4, in PreK where they are working on this stuff) but the extent to which he is actively aware of letters and numbers around him (looking at the clock and reading the numbers) and going through them in his head is new to me - Casper wasn't like this at this age.

He "read" me the book Hug by Jez Alborough last night. ("Read" because Hug has three words in it: hug, Bobo, and Mommy.) We also looked at a bit of "Swing, Otto, Swing." We played with the name Bobo, making it Gogo and Vovo and JoJo and Zozo. He loves to play these games. It's nice.
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So, we successfully accomplished the first Math Monday (there is $7.09 in Casper's purse right now) and Muuuusic Tuuuuesday (stemless wineglasses with varying levels of water in them - not as tuneful as one might have hoped). Today is Write-a-Postcard Wednesday; Casper plans to write to her 7 year old cousin E in Ohio, and Dillo wants to write to Grandma Debbie. (This will be an exciting exercise in exploring exactly how much Dillo can write - I know he can make a P, and he knows a lot of the letters, but I'm wondering if I write out "Grandma Debbie" for him if he'll be able to copy it.)

In other accomplishments, we got Casper a 20-inch bike with no training wheels, in like-new condition, for $20 on Saturday. (It is a boy's bike, and red, and even has stunt pegs! So far not a peep out of her about its being a boy's bike.) Unfortunately it's just a hair too big for her still, and definitely too big for her to learn how to ride a two-wheeler on, since she can't easily put her feet on the ground and save herself. So mr. flea removed the pedals and chain and training wheels from her current bike, making it into a "coaster" just right for practicing balance. We borrowed the neighbor's tiny 12-inch bike (Spiderman, with training wheels) for Dillo, and he has taken to it, though he has trouble getting started from a stop.

Since Dillo is now experimenting with bikes higher off the ground than a big wheel, a helmet was in order, and he got to pick out a super-cute navy-with-subtle-sparkles-and-cool-green-bugs one at Target. He wore it out of the store, natch, and as I buckled him into his carseat, we had the following exchange:
Dillo: I am never taking off my helmet.
me: Not even in the bath?
Dillo: Okay, I will take my helmet off in the bath.

Later in the restaurant he made up a song about loving his helmet. And he took it to school Monday and Tuesday, and cried and cried when we wouldn't go back inside and get it this morning.
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I feel like Dillo gets short shrift around here, being the second kid and all. And while he's a great talker, he is not as picturesque a talker as Casper was at his age. He says cute and funny things, but they are usually in the "you had to be there" vein (like when he said yesterday, to Owen's dad, "I don't like Owen.")

So, Dillo. He's 2 years and almost 9 months now. He went off to school in a pull-up this morning for the first time. We've been talking up the whole "peep in the potty" thing heavily lately, and bought the pull-ups yesterday, but he has yet to ever actually pee in the potty. He does sit on it at school; he mostly won't at home, though we haven't pushed. In related news (well, it's about his penis, anyway) I was able to retract his foreskin pretty much all the way last night (this occurred in the context of after bath, and him trying to do it, and complaining, "I can't open it!")

He mostly sleeps through the night and has been less often awake for the day at insane AM; often he's not up until 6:30 and Sunday morning he slept until 7:30! Getting him to go to sleep at night is a terrible battle though, which I have started handing off to mr. flea. He's simply not tired until past 9pm, because he gets a 2+ hour nap at daycare. I am very tired and impatient at 9pm, and mr. flea does a much better job of playing 'whose feet make a bigger shadow' with the flashlight and giggling until he falls asleep.

When I was doing bedtime more often, we had gotten into the habit of singing Little Bunny Foo-Foo and also telling the story of Casper's yellow balloon ("and the wind took it, and it went down the storm drain! Will you sing that one?") It's not a song, but a story that starts out true (Casper was SO SAD about the balloon) and ends with Dillo's inventions, regarding a space ship and a monster and the rescue of the balloon from the storm drain.

He remains a Beta Male - rough and tumble friends (like Owen, and some of his friends at school) are too much for him, and he's not aggressive in grabbing back a taken toy (unless he's tussling with his sister, in which case he's likely to give as good as he gets.) He still loves donuts (this morning in the car: "Can we go to the donuts?" No. "Will you take me to the coffee shop?") and en-dee-ems. He gets wild hairs and throws things, goes around the house dumping out bins of toys and sweeping magazines off the coffee table but in general is not deliberately destructive (he accidentally broke a DVD trying to get it out of the box). He hates having his hair combed and complains at clothing changes, wanting "soft pants". He mostly won't wear jeans and is silly picky about shirts - doesn't like tags.

He's not very interested in the new weaning bunny but is suddenly quite attached to his stuffed seal, Sealy, such that Sealy needs to be found before bedtime. This is a new phenomenon for me, as neither kid has much been into lovies before. He likes cars, and small rubber balls, and painting. He eats apples and yogurt tubes like they are going out of style. He can mostly sing the alphabet and recite numbers to 10, and recognizes the letters A and O. He's a little boy!


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