Monday, December 27, 2010

Christmas Day 3

Christmas day 3 wasn't originally supposed to happen.  As mentioned previously Christmas day ran long so the next day we packed up the kids and ran out to my hometown to finish the immediate family gift opening.  This trip was much less stressful than the night before.

When we first got there we hung out for a while before we started opening any presents.  The house needed to be picked up some from the night before.  While Mom and I were doing this Alyce and Luke were left to their own devices.  Luke was playing with toys in the family room while Alyce played in the living room. There is a saying that when the kids are too quiet it means they are up to no good. After a while I went in to check on Alyce and when I rounded the corner I caught my little girl red handed!  Alyce has opened the wrapping paper on the corner of one of her presents!  Maybe I should have been mad but instead I said in a playful voice "what are you doing?".  Alyce immediately recoils and covers her face in embarrassment.  Naturally instead of teaching a valuable lesson I reached for my phone to snap a picture.

Pretty soon thereafter we open presents to the kid's delight.  Both Alyce and Luke did very good jobs opening up their presents and taking turns.  Alyce helped Luke whenever he ran into trouble.  In all they both behaved themselves.

By the time we headed back home Mom and I could tell the kids were spent.  Two and a half days long days of good behavior, over excitement, and late nights took their toll.  While the kids were in nap time Mom and I used the opportunity to assemble Luke's new toy, the Wheelie car ramp.  Assembling toys on Christmas put a smile on my face as I thought to myself that the torch has been passed.

Christmas Day 2

Of course when it comes to Christmas day 1 blends in to day 2.  When we got home the night of Christmas Eve we got Alyce all gigged up for Santa.  We got the Santa's Cookies plate out, added a few cookies, and a mug of milk.  While I was putting Alyce to bed she all of the sudden came down with a serious look on her face.  I asked her what the problem was and she asked how Santa was going to get in the house.  She went on to say that he couldn't come down the chimney as our TV table was in front of the doors.  I told her that I would move the table away from the wall to make room.  That must have been a good enough solution as she rolled over and went to sleep.

 Christmas morning Alyce and Luke were greeted by a stack of presents.  There were some presents from Mom and I and some presents from Santa.  Alyce's big present was a treasure chest full of dress up clothes and jewelery.  Luke's big present was a Little People Wheelie car play set.  The car play set was the big winner of the year.  Since opening it Alyce, Luke, Mom, and myself have all played with it.  After opening all of the presents the kids got to play for a little while and then we loaded them up into the car for breakfast and presents at Grams and Papas.

Presents and breakfast at Grams and Papa's house was a lot of fun.  Chris's half brother Joe and Gigi were there.  Alyce's favorite present was a tea party set and Luke's was a set of Fisher Price gears.  After breakfast we hung out until it was time to get the kids home for naps and quiet time.  We had to head out to Onermark Grams later that night and Luke needed all the sleep he could get.

We wanted to get out to my mother's house before the larger family party started so we could exchange presents.  However Luke didn't cooperate and we didn't get out there until just before the other guests showed up.  The next few hours was chaos.  Tables had to be moved and chairs set up to handle the influx of parents and children.  Alyce and Luke both had a great time playing with their cousins.  All of the kids are within 3 years of each other and even though they aren't old enough to be left to their own devices in the basement they were able to sneak away here and there to get in to a bit of trouble.

The best part of the Christmas party with my family is the white elephant gift exchange.  This year created a new wrinkle in that the kids wanted to "help" open all of the presents.  And even though we allowed Alyce to help with ours she wanted to help everyone and we had to keep telling her no.  This led to an unhappy little girl but luckily it never hit a full on tantrum.

After the party was over and the guests went home we futilely tried to do our immediate family gift exchange.  I thought we could get all of the presents opened even though it was way way past the kids bedtime.  I thought wrong.  We got a few open but quickly it degenerated into madness.  Instead we decided to call it a night and come back out the next day to finish the presents.

Christmas Day 1

It's two days after Christmas and only now have I had enough time to write about it. We were busy seeing family on both sides over the past three days. On Christmas Eve we went over to Gram's and Papa's house for the family Christmas. Alyce and Luke both had a great time running around the house and playing with their cousins. Luke found a good friend in his cousin Isabella. She took to him the second he walked in the door and he was more than happy to sit in her lap and give her lots of hugs. Alyce enjoyed dancing to all of the Christmas songs being sung by her family and played on her cousin Augostino's guitar.

Following dinner that the kids couldn't be bothered to eat the kids played the game Pin the Nose on Rudolf. Mom made the game for the Holiday Party at Alyce's school however she fell ill and missed that day. Rather than let it go to waste the kids played. Luke even got a chance to play however he didn't use the blindfold. When finished the kids asked what had they won? The answer, they got to open presents!

Alyce's favorite present opened was a doctor kit that has light up instruments. Luke liked a set of books and a play power drill.

Both kids did great all night. Mom's cousins all have kids our kids ages and aren't afraid to step in when needed. We do the same and this allows everyone to let their guard down and have a decent conversation as you can rely on each other to keep your kids from getting into major trouble.

The first night was down with two more to go.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

God is a Real Person

For a while Alyce has been asking who God is. We try our best to describe him to her but describing such a thing pushes the limits of what a 4 year old can understand.

On our way to school this morning Alyce asks if God is a real person. I say that yes he can be. And naturally her response is "why can't I see him?". Trying to put a response in terms she'd understand I say that it is because he is far away. After pondering that for a few moments she says "I think god is a real person and we can't see him because he is hiding behind trees". I love that little girl.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Under Construction

I've commented in the past about our new house being under construction.  Luckily things are progressing faster than we anticipated and we are closing on our new house January 17th.  At present the exterior of the house is finished, the interior walls are finished, and the cabinetry is being installed.  There is lots of work to be done but the excitement is building.

One downfall of the house being mostly done is that it is now under lock and key.  Once the garage door is installed and interior materials delivered the builder has the doors locked to prevent those items from walking away.  The builder's hours are from 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. so if we want to take a look at the progress we have to do it between those hours.  Instead of stopping by the house twice a week we now only go once a week during lunch.

Each week we bring the kids with us so they can take a look at what their new rooms are going to be like.  Alyce gets a lot out of this and Luke likes to come along for the ride.  Each time we are on the property we are supposed to wear hard hats and I can only remember one time that we've actually done it.  The hard hats are in the building office and more often than not we looked at the house after business hours thus no hats.  The one time we got hard hats we managed to get a picture of Luke and Alyce wearing them and it was so cute!  Luke looked especially happy to be wearing his.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Train Engine

Yesterday Alyce finished the last section of her Lowe's train.  In previous weeks Alyce and I put together the caboose and passenger cars.  This week we put together the engine.  Alyce's friend Gideon wasn't able to show up this week as he had a doctors appointment.  On the way to Lowe's Alyce was asking if Gideon was going to be there and when I had to break the news to her she was pretty broken up.  By the time we got our packet of materials and hammer Alyce had gotten over it.  We picked up a packet of materials for Gideon so he could finish his train.  Alyce was very protective of his packet and kept reminding me that it was Gideons; very cute.

Alyce's hammering skills have improved throughout this project.  Her swings have much more confidence with longer swings and more energy behind them.  With that confidence came a decrease in accuracy as half the swings were off the mark.  Some of that can be attributed to hand eye coordination but the rest comes from inattention.  While I was holding the pieces Alyce's swings went wild onto my fingers.  In pain I'd look up and she would be looking around rather than focusing on what she was doing.

The engine turned out great.  If I had my way I would have left the train natural wood and forgone the stickers.  But Alyce's favorite part is decorating the train and again she chose the holiday stickers.  That made two train cars decorated with holiday stickers and one decorated with freight train stickers.  When we got back home Alyce wanted to switch the stickers on the caboose and luckily I had saved them from a few weeks ago and mom switched them out.  Now all parts of our train match.

I really enjoyed this project.  In just a few weeks Alyce's skills with tools have improved.  Over the years with more complex projects I hope Alyce learns more skills like reading directions, taking measurements, and the use of more complex tools.  I don't expect her to become a master carpenter, but being able to assemble a new toy or furniture should be within her abilities when she has kids of her own.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Like Mother Like Daughter

Lately I've noticed a few things Alyce has been doing that she pulled directly from Mom.  When Alyce washes her hands she washes them her own normal way.  However, whenever she turns off the water she'll shake her hands dry in the sink and lightly tap her hands on the bowl.  Next now that it is cold Alyce is wearing long sleeve shirts.  Whenever she goes to put on her coat she pulls her sleeve down and holds onto it while pushing her arm through coat.  Doing this stops her shirt from bunching up in her sleeve.

What is so interesting about these two things is that Mom does the exact same thing.  I'm sure some behavioral expert could explain why that happens but I'll chalk it up to Mom being a good role model and Alyce wants to be just like her mother.  Even something insignificant like how you dry your hands is proof that your kids are watching and the examples you set are noticed, adopted, and enacted.  We need to keep our bedroom cleaner.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Winter Fun

This weekend we got our first blast of wintery weather.  What was originally only supposed to be an inch of snow turned into 2 or 3 inches.  This extra snow in combination with some really low temperatures allowed us to have some fun in the snow.  This was Also Luke's first real snowfall.  Last winter Luke could barely walk so getting him out in the snow out of the question.

Alyce and Luke spent the night at Gram's and Papa's because Mom and I attended a Christmas party the night before.  When we awoke and looked outside we knew that Alyce would be raring to go outside.  So we grabbed her snow suit and an extra change of clothes for Luke and went over to pick them up and to have some fun outside.

After getting both kids bundled up we ventured outside into the cold.  Sledding was the first item on the agenda. We grabbed their blue sled, walked to the side of the house, and took a few trips down the hill.  First I pulled Alyce down the hill in the sled to see how she handled it.  We didn't want a repeat of her first time in a sled.  After a run or two Alyce said that she "wanted to do it by herself".  The total vertical drop was about 15 feet so there wasn't much chance for damage and there was my little girl going down the hill all by herself.  Luke by that time had gotten his snow legs and caught up with us on the sled.  We put him and Alyce on the sled together and sent them on their way.  The extra weight was enough to add a few feet onto Alyce's first run and they ended up in a bush.  They both took a few more runs on the sled with Alyce taking a few more by herself.

Luke did remarkable well in the snow considering he wasn't properly attired.  He didn't have a snow suit, boots, or even waterproof gloves.  Even without that he preferred to walk through the snow and enjoyed each and every time on the sled.  He didn't have much of an opinion on what was going and was just going with the flow trying to figure out what this white stuff was.

We eventually grew tired of the sled and Luke's clothes weren't water resistant so Mom dropped him off inside to warm him back up.  He watched or rather cried at us through the window while Alyce took the last few runs on the sled.

Following the sled Mom took Alyce up front to teach her how to make snow angels.  Alyce has been wanting to do snow angels for some time but there hasn't been any snow.  What is kind of funny about snow angels is that she's been asking to do them but we don't know where she learned about them in the first place.  We are guessing most likely from a tv show.  Mom laid in the snow and waved her arms in legs while Alyce looked on.  Alyce then laid down and mimicked her actions.  Following that Alyce moved over a bit and did another snow angel, and another, and another, and another.  In all I'd say she did 15 snow angels in both the front and back yards.

After Gram's and Papa's and on the way to lunch Alyce said "we needed some snow" like someone would say we needed some rain in the middle of a drought.  We asked Alyce why we needed some snow and her response was "because Christmas needs it".  Bless her heart.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Middle Train

This Saturday Alyce and I went back to Lowe's to complete another section of train. This week we got to complete the center / passenger car of the train.

Alyce didn't seem as interested in this car as last weeks car but her hammering skills were much improved. She was able to finish more nails than last time.

Of course she was most interested in putting in the stickers. Alyce was very proud of her creation as she and Gideon were carrying their cars around the store.

Keeping people in the store post craft is the reason why they do it in the first place. If Alyce had her way we would have come hone with a new riding tractor.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Alyce's Cupcake

Over the past week or two, Alyce has made a cupcake at school. She's been telling us all about each step she's done when she comes home. I love it! Here is the final product:

School Pictures

Alyce is in school and gets to partake in the annual ritual that all kids get to enjoy, school pictures.  When preschool started we weren't sure Alyce was going to have class pictures.  We had seen announcements of school pictures on the school's sign but we weren't sure it applied to the preschoolers.  It turned out that we had to wait for picture retake day as the original picture day was on her preschool off day.

Mom and I thought the picture turned out great.  The picture just seemed to capture Alyce.  Her eye's weren't squinty, wasn't showing too much teeth, and looked genuinely happy to be there.


A while ago I wrote a story on Luke's blog about how we had a family morning.  Even though that post focused on Luke Alyce did participate.  One item we all played with was Duplo Legos.  Alyce really took a liking to them this time.  She took all sorts of Duplo blocks and made a spaceship out of them.  She was so very proud of herself when she was finished and she was very unhappy when Luke eventually destroyed it.

Towards the end of family time I made a pyramid out of the blocks.  Alyce noticed what I had made and she asked me how I made it.  So I took mine apart and showed her how to put the pieces together with each piece offset from next.  When finished we had made a pyramid together.

A few days later after quiet time Alyce walked out of her room holding a pyramid in her hand.  She had made it all by herself.  I was very proud of her at that moment.  She took something that I had shown her, commited it to memory, and recreated it.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Christmas Tree

So, today I decided to do a craft with the kids. I pulled out the construction paper and cut out Christmas trees and then I had the kids decorate them. Of course, I had to help Luke with his a little, but I think it was a big hit! Here's Alyce's tree:

Monday, December 6, 2010

Parent Teacher Conference

A few weeks ago, before Thanksgiving Mom and I had our first parent teacher conference. This conference was with one of Alyce's teachers Ms. Mary. Alyce's other teacher is Ms. Kit.

This being our first parent teacher conference we didn't know what to expect. Maybe she was going to tell us that Alyce's coloring skills are sub par and we can cross Harvard off the list of possible schools. It turned out to be nothing like that. Ms. Mary talked to us about what they were doing in class and Alyce's level of development. We are happy to say that Alyce has mastered all aspects of physical development for a kid her age. Other skills like penmanship and coloring are also age appropriate.

Ms. Mary, Mom, and Myself went on in length talking about how Alyce likes to do jobs in the class. Every day in class the teacher pulls out a name and assigns a student to specific job like the line leader, caboose, cleanup inspector, and song picker. Ms. Mary was telling us that getting jobs is Alyce's very favorite part of class. She went on to say that she gets so gigged up for a job that she is crestfallen whenever her name isn't picked. I applaud Alyce's willingness to help out. When we ask Alyce after school what her job was that day and she didn't have one she says that she "had the day off".  The picture below is a scan of the inspection report submitted by Alyce to the rest of the class.

There was one area that Alyce is exhibiting some problems, speech development. Ms. Mary said that Alyce's speech development was not where it should be. She described Alyce as knowing what she wanted to say but would dance around the word she was trying to get out. Sadly I knew exactly what she was talking about as both my mother and I suffer from the same problem. Whenever we are in a stressed environment our minds lock up and we know the word we want to say but just can't seem to get it out. Another aspect of her speech problems is that her speech is very melodic. I'm not sure why melodic speech is a bad thing. Perhaps it is warning sign relating to other issues. We have a follow up visit with the special school department that should be able to determine whether this is a problem or if she is behind the curve. The overall effect of Alyce have decreased speech ability is that she isn't keeping up with the other kids in her class and is still playing by herself. I've these behavior occur on repeated occasions. After I drop her off some mornings I look at Alyce through the window to see what she does when I'm not around. A few times I've witnessed her standing there, watching the other kids, and waiting for something to spur her into action. After a minute or so she seems to have taken everything in, decides on a course of action, and joins in an activity.  It pains me to see her standing on the sidelines but it doesn't seem to bother her as she is always looking forward to going to school.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Building a Train

Every few weeks throughout the year Lowe's has a workshop for kids where they get to build something. School buses and snowmen are projects I've heard about in the past. A few weeks ago we heard from our friends Josh and Tammy that a three part train set of workshops was coming up. I thought it would be a cool father daughter project for the holidays; playing with Gideon would also be a nice bonus.
This morning Alyce and I made the first section of train, the caboose. Having never done this I didn't quite know what to expect. The recommended ages for the workshop was 1st through 3rd grade so I thought it might be a bit much for her. If I hadn't been there then it definitely would have been but working together we managed. All of the parts were pre drilled so the nails went in pretty easy. I got each nail started, then Alyce took her turn, and I would finish the nail off. Alyce's hammering skills leave much to be desired but coming from a four year I was impressed.
Towards the end Alyce was losing interest that was until we brought the stickers out. The kit included two sets of stickers, holiday and normal. The holiday stickers had Christmas colors and greenery for decoration. The normal was more like a standard caboose. Surprisingly Alyce chose the normal stickers over the holiday ones. I think the horse sticker for the window won her over. I would have preferred the caboose be left plain as the natural wood gave it that old time feel. Regardless the final product turned out great.
Lowe's design was just the right amount of time and complexity. Anymore of either and the fun factor would have declined. We are looking forward to next weekend where we get to make the middle section of our three car train.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Amateur Photographer

Mom and I didn't know it but Alyce is an aspiring photographer.  Since Mom upgraded her iPhone to an iPhone 4 Alyce has been the recipient of her old one.  We took the SIM card out of it so it no longer makes telephone calls but it makes for a great device to watch movies and play games.  iPhones also have built in cameras and we hadn't thought to look at the list of photos as we didn't think Alyce knew how to use the camera.
Mom and I a few days ago while upgrading the phone took at look at the photos and were greeted by album upon album of pictures.  Most of them were taken during her quiet time at both the old house and the apartment.  Some have a obvious subject and others were taken while she was under her sheets.

The best pictures in the album were of the princesses on one of her books.  The cover is a picture of all of the princess but with each exposure Alyce focused on a different princess.  They were surprisingly well composed.  If finger painting doesn't work out for her perhaps she should try her hand at photography.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Can't Keep a Secret

Last week the first of my gifts for Mom arrived in the mail.  I'm ok to write about it since she told me what she wanted and saw the box before I got home.  Alyce was also there when the box arrived and wanted Mom to immediately to open it.  Mom delayed her because it had my name on it and said they needed to wait until I came home.  As I walked in the door Alyce runs up to me telling me there is a box for me and that I should open it.

I told her that we could open it but we had to do it upstairs because Mommy couldn't see it.  Upstairs I took the present out of the box and showed it to Alyce.  Alyce exclaimed that is was "very pretty".  I told her that it was a present for mommy from Luke and her and that we couldn't tell her what she was getting as it was going to be a surprise.

Following our quick little discussion Alyce went back downstairs.  Mom in jest asked Alyce what was in the box.  Alyce responded excitedly "it's a necklace for you"!  Note to self; 4 year olds can't keep secrets.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


Now that we are living in an apartment whenever we head out to the car we have to unlock it. Mom and I both have buttons on our key chains that allow us to unlock the doors remotely. In addition we can open the door by entering a code on a panel on the drivers side door.

Alyce has now taken it as her job to run up ahead of us while heading out to the car to enter the code and open the doors. One thing missing from her plan is that she doesn't know the code; instead she blindly hits keys. While she's doing that Mom or I reach into our pockets and hit the unlock button. Alyce thinks she has just unlocked the door, opens it, and climbs in none the wiser that in fact we did it for her.

It might be bad that we are keeping the truth from her but by her entering in the code she isn't running into the parking lot. I would say we are guilty of the crime of omission but we are doing it with the best of intentions.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

House Construction

It's been three weeks since construction began on our new house. In that time the foundation has been poured, framed, and roofed. As part of the fun and to check for defects we take the family out to the site for walkthroughs.

Alyce is a big fan of this as she gets to see her new room or the space that will be her new room. She enjoys waving to Mom from her window the most.

One time Alyce had to use the bathroom so we took her to the display to do her business without her walking through. Mom and I thought we could get away with skipping her turn. We thought wrong. Upon hearing that we were going to dinner rather than taking her turn led to an immediate and intense break down. Mom and I tried out best to cheer her up such as letting her try on a hard hat but looking at the picture obviously that failed.

In the end we caved and quickly brought her through the house. It seemed to do the trick as she was a happy camper the rest of the night.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Making Her Own Stories

In the past few days I've noticed a change in Alyce; she is starting to make her own stories.  Last night we cooked dinner over at Gram's and Papa's and they handed me a piece of junk mail that had my name on it but their address.  Most likely because we forwarded a few magazines to their house while we are living in the apartment and our new information hit a junk mail list.  When we got home Alyce asked if she could open up my mail and I agreed she could.  The junk mail was an advertisement for a home security system and one of the pages at the top there was a picture of a fire truck and a police car.  Alyce, sitting in my lap pointed out the police car and fire truck and described aspects about them such as fire trucks are loud.  She then proceeded to turn the page over to the blank side and started talking like she was reading a book even through there was nothing there.  The story she was telling focused on firetrucks that were red, were loud, and come by our house every day.  The story was only a few sentences long but every time she'd tell it she would add another aspect to it like there being more than one fire truck or police cars driving by too.

Earlier in the night while at the dinner table we were all talking about something that isn't important to the story with each person getting a turn to talk.  When it became Alyce's turn to talk she started going off on some tangent where most of her words either didn't make sense or were being mumbled.  This went on for maybe 20 seconds with the rest of the table just staring at her like lobsters were coming out of her ears.  After those 20 seconds she just stopped, looked at us, and said "I'm gonna be funny.  Bwak, bwak, bwak".  "Bwak" being the sound a chicken makes.  And while she is making her chicken noises she puts her hands in her armpits and flaps her arms like a chicken.  It was hilarious!  After she finished she asked the rest of us to do it too so going around the table we all made chicken noises, flapped our arms, and Alyce giggled the entire time.

Alyce is now making her own stories and her own humor.  I give the credit to her being older and to preschool.  I think her being in a structured environment with teachers trained in educating preschoolers has done wonders for her development.  I couldn't be prouder of her.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Helping Grandma

Today we went out to my home town to see Onermark Grams. It had been some time since we had last been out there as a family and thought a day outside of the apartment would be great.

While there we helped with a few chores. The first chore we tackled was to bundle up all the dead wood grandma had cut down days earlier. Alyce wanted to join in on the fun and started grabbing single sticks and depositing them in the yard waste bag. Every time she'd find a stick Alyce would say "I found another one" and drop it off. Later she noticed that I was cutting sticks down to size to fit better and she then wanted me to cut every one of her sticks in two because they were too big.

Following the stick removal Mom and Alyce were taking turns running around the house. Hearing the giggles of a 4 year old as she runs around the house is probably one of the greatest sounds ever.

The last job of the day was to rake some leaves and empty some pots on the back patio. The leaves on the patio can get pretty thick and it makes for some great piles for kids to run through. While we were moving around the table and chairs Alyce too a shot at raking a few leaves herself. She had mixed success but we appreciated the effort and it made for some cute pictures.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

New Sheets

One of the gifts Onermark Grams gave Alyce for her birthday was a set of princess sheets. For the past few days Alyce has been hounding Mom to put the sheets on her bed. Mom has been putting her off by saying the sheets needed to be washed before she could use them.

Tonight while I was washing the dishes after dinner Alyce drops a package of sheets in front of the washing machine. I asked Alyce what she was doing and she said "I'm putting these here so that Mommy will wash them".

For the record Mom has them in the wash now.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

That's Not Food

Tonight was my night to get Alyce ready for bed. When it was time to get her into her jammas we couldn't find them. While looking around the house Alyce says "I didn't eat them. They are not food".

Jammas. They are not food.

Sunday, October 31, 2010


Tonight was Halloween but the Halloween festivities weren't just limited to Sunday.  The entire weekend had sprinkles of Halloween fun.

Starting Saturday we went to the Boo at the Zoo at the St. Louis Zoo where we met up with our friends Josh, Tammy, and Gideon.  The Boo at the Zoo is an event at the zoo where everyone dresses up in costume and gets candy from so local radio stations etc.  Everyone in St. Louis must go to this event because by the time we arrived the parking lot was full and the traffic around the zoo was a mess.  Luckily we found a parking spot a few blocks away and after a short walk we were in.  Walking around the zoo most of the animal displays weren't that crowded as everyone was in line waiting for candy.  I'm sad to say they were wasting their time.  The lines for the candy were upwards of an hour long.  We decided early on to skip the candy but by luck we happened to walk past a candy station and got a handful.  Looking at the meager loot in Alyce's bag I was pleased that we didn't wait.  There were six pieces of taffy so hard they were inedible and a pack of sweet tarts.

Following lunch and the primate enclosure we walked past the bears and that is where Alyce fell apart.  I'm not sure what exactly happened but something set her off and she burst into tears.  We knew it was time to go at that point and Alyce didn't stop crying until we reached the car about 10 minutes later.  Pretty much everything she thought of was something to cry about; missing Gideon, not seeing the giraffes, and not wanting to leave the zoo were prime examples.  As we pulled away from the zoo area Alyce regained her composure and after a decent nap back at the apartment she was back to her old self.  I'm guessing she was just overtired.

To close, on Saturday I'd say that Boo at the Zoo was a bust and I doubt that we'll ever go back.  It just wasn't worth the hassle.

Tonight was a lot more fun.  After some naps from the kids they were ready to go trick or treating.  We went out to our old neighborhood as apartments are horrible places for getting candy.  Meeting up with old neighbors was great and Alyce seemed to enjoy seeing her friends again.  After a quick bite to eat it was time for some trick or treating.  Alyce was able to keep up with all of her friends this year.  As they were running from house to house Alyce was running with them.  At first she wasn't leading the charge but after a while she wanted to get up to the front because she wanted to "knock on someone's door."  It was awesome to see my little shy girl announce her opinion and make sure it happened.  She ended up moving to the head of the mob and sure enough she knocked on / run the doorbell of a few houses.  She picked up saying "trick or treat" at every door from the other girls and even started saying "thank you" without me having to say anything.  By the time we made a loop through the neighborhood Alyce had a significant pile of loot.  Enough candy for Alyce to say that her arms were getting tired holding it.  Later in the evening we finally got a look at how much she received and I will say this, kids nowadays get awesome candy.  She had 5 full sized candy bars plus a stack of other premium candy like fun size Snickers and Reese's Peanut Butter Cups.  There was not a single piece of cheap candy in the bag.

Friday, October 29, 2010

So Maybe This Wasn't a Good Idea

Tonight the family decided to save a few dollars and stay in rather than go out to eat.  As part of the evening we decided to watch a movie with Alyce after we put Luke to bed.

The movie we watched was Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs. The movie was pretty good and Alyce seemed to be enjoying herself up until the end. Then a combination of peril in the movie and her being overtired put Alyce in tears. She was worried about what was going to happen to the main character. We tried to reassure her that everything was going to be ok but it took until the of the movie for her to be convinced.

Following the movie it was close to 9:45 and Alyce was so tired that she couldn't keep herself together and the smallest infraction would lead to tears.  Luckily I coaxed her into to bed and was able to cut off her ramblings so she'd finally roll over and go to sleep.

Maybe we shouldn't have let her stay up that late. Next time we'll get the movie started earlier and with a bit less peril.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Alyce is This Many

Can you believe it? Alyce is 4 years old!  It seems like only yesterday that our little girl was brought into the world and now sleeping in the room down the hall is a 4 year old girl that is pretty much self sufficient.  A lot can happen in 4 years.

For the past few weeks the anticipation of turning 4 has been building.  It reached a fever pitch this weekend.  We had a birthday party for her on Sunday and a trip to Monkey Joe's today.  The party was at Gram's and Papa's house as our apartment is a little small for hosting parties.  GiGi, Onermark Grams, Trent Lisa & Shelby, Uncle Scott, Jeff Liz & Abby, Aunt Jean, and Aunt Sue were all there.  After dinner and before the cake Alyce opened her presents.  Another aspect of her getting older is that she no longer needs us to help with the opening of presents.  Alyce got a lot of great gifts but the most liked was the one Mom and I picked up for her, a princess scooter.  Alyce has been eying scooters for quite some time.  Her friend Zack from down the street has one that Alyce has used and she's pointed them out the few times we've been to Toys R Us.  We've been holding on to it for quite some time and there has even been a close call or two where Alyce could have seen it.

Tonight Alyce and Luke took a trip to Monkey Joe's for a bouncing good time.  Wednesday night is definitely the time to go as we had the whole place to ourselves.  Towards the end a few families filtered in with Alyce making friends with one of the girls.  Sadly they became friends about 5 minutes before we needed to leave.  Alyce and this girl kept riding the slide over and over again.  When it was time for Alyce to leave they shared a hug that melted our heart.  Following Monkey Joe's we met up with Josh, Tammy, and Gideon for burgers and ice cream at Culvers.

One funny part about the time leading up to Alyce's birthday was that she kept getting confused on how old she would be after her birthday.  Instead of saying the word four she would just hold up her hand showing four fingers and asking if she was going to be this many on her birthday.  After we'd tell her that yes she would be four she would then hold up five fingers and say "am I going to be this many after my birthday?".  I think by the time her birthday rolled around she finally figured it all out because when we asked her how old she was she'd very proudly say "four!".

Dance Class

A week ago Tuesday Mom and I were present for some epic cuteness; we got to watch Alyce during one of her dance classes.  That day was Parent's Observation day at dance class.  Up to this point and in the future Alyce's dance teacher keeps the kids and parents separated during dance class.  I didn't quite understand why she did this until being present for one of Alyce's dance classes this summer.  In that class it was pretty obvious that while Mom or I were within eye site of Alyce she would be extremely distracted.  Alyce's dance class has about 10 girls in it so imagine 10 distracted 3 - 5 year olds and the image of someone trying to herd cats comes to mind.

This week we were brought into the class to see what we've been paying for and to fill up the memory cards of all of those in attendance.  By the time I arrived the girls were at the end of the room waiting to start warming up.    I snuck in a little wave to Alyce and she waved back.  Also, I heard her tell one of the other girls "that's my daddy".

After a few stretching exercising the teacher went through a couple of routines that the girls had been working on.  The teacher would stand in front of the girls doing the routine and the girls would mimic her actions.  Pretty similar to an exercise class. The teacher also had lots of verbal instructions with directions like tap your left or right foot X number of times.  However, most kids don't know their right from their left so there is lots of bumping going on.  Alyce has made lots of progress since her summer dance class.  She wasn't the best dancer in the class, but definitely not the worst.  What impressed me most was her focus.  There were a few times where it wavered but for the most part she stayed on task.  The girls try to do the ballet moves very slowly and expressively seemed to be difficult for them.  Perhaps they are so used to gross motor skills that moving slowly requires a lot of concentration.

After the routines the girls did some ballet runs across the room.  Asking kids to walk on their tippy toes when they are used to heel toe yields mixed results.  Alyce did pretty good even though we weren't really sure she was going to stop running at the end of the room.

Following the ballet section of class Alyce donned her tap shoes.  In an instant the girls go from cute butterflies to bulls in a china shop.  I don't know what happened, maybe just the noisy shoes but every girls steps became over exaggerated, clumsy, and loud.  As their motor skills flew out the window so did their attention span.  Alyce even fell victim loss of attention as she started walking around on her heels.  Which is no easy task but not what she was supposed to be doing at the time.

As evidence that the fathers of today play an active role in their kids lives; when class was over all the guys got up, picked up their daughters, and gave them big hugs.  Most of them, myself included pulled ourselves away from work to be there and I'm glad I did as I would have regretted missing such a display of dancing prowess.

There was one heart wrenching moment of class.  One girl, most likely the youngest couldn't handle all the people in the room, or their attention, and burst into tears as the class started.  She just stood there with her hands over her eyes, red faced, and tears streaming down her cheeks.  The teacher in the class tried to console her as much as time would allow, but the mother just sat there rather than picking up her daughter and helping put her back together again.  Mom and I think that this girl just turned 3 and isn't capable of calming herself down thus needing her mom's help. It was pretty heart wrenching to watch as I would have picked Alyce up at the first tear.

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