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.

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