The End of an Era

Yesterday we took this poster down in Jack’s room.  It’s kind of a sad day for me…the end of the Elmo era.  Elmo has been living on Jack’s closet door since we moved into this house 3 years ago but he’s been around for longer than that.

It’s been coming for a while.  Jack no longer wants to sleep with his super big Elmo that he got when he was 1 1/2.  He doesn’t even want to play with him.  Earlier in the year he gave Casey his very first Elmo, his baby Elmo that he slept with on and off since he was born.  

The first video that Jack ever watched was an Elmo video.  I had never seen Elmo’s World before but I remember after he watched the 3 episodes from his video over and over, I finally realized that they were all the same format.

We had tickets to Elmo Live and it was scheduled very close to my due date.  Just two tickets…I figured only Jack and Daddy would go.  I thought I was going into labor on Friday night, the day before the show.  I think I willed Casey to stay inside until Jack could get to his Elmo show.  I so wanted him to be able to go see Elmo.  It was his first show and he had a great time with his Daddy.  And then he got to meet his new sister the next day. 

Elmo was the first Halloween costume that Jack got to help pick out.

But yesterday we took down the Elmo poster and replaced it with a Star Wars poster.  I think the only hold-over is that sometimes Jack still talks like Elmo, in the 3rd person.  It used to bother me, but now it will probably be a little bittersweet as I remember how much we used to live in Elmo’s World and now we don’t.

So goodbye Elmo.  Thanks for the great memories!

School Days

Jack started kindergarten yesterday and Casey started preschool today!  Jack is liking his class but it’s Casey who is very excited.  Although I’m not sure if she is more excited or if I am.

Jack is going back to the same preschool he went to last year and has the same teacher for kindergarten as he had for preschool.  She moved up with the class.  He has several friends back from last year and some new friends to make.  He starts 20 minutes earlier than last year so he told Pat he was worried that he might not have time to play in the morning before school.  So far that hasn’t been a problem.

Casey has been talking about going to school all summer.  If ever anyone was ready for school, it was her.  I think she would rather have started yesterday when Jack did, but she had her first Little Gym class of the year yesterday and a new haircut and a donut from Dunkin Donuts to make her feel better.

When we met her teacher a few weeks ago, Casey was very shy and wouldn’t play with the other children or talk to the teacher.  She was so excited today that she just walked into the classroom and couldn’t wait for me to leave so she could start school.  She practically pushed me out the door and waved goodbye enthusiastically and that was it.

When I picked Casey up, she skipped out the door and was so excited to tell me that she got to go to the playground two times today and she met a girl named Olivia.  Interestingly Olivia is not in her class so I guess she met her on the playground.  She made a picture of a school house, had snack and someone gave her some cheese.  Overall, I think it was everything she had hoped it would be.  She can’t wait to go back on Friday although she thinks we should go shopping tomorrow while Jack’s in school.

And now I have some time to myself for the first time in 5 years!  I have a bazillion things planned for all this time – which is really going to be less than 9 hours a week.  I plan to make the most of it.  Today I did some grocery shopping in peace and went to the dentist without having to ask someone to watch the kids.  Boring, but so much easier without kids!

End of Year Program

We just got back from Jack’s end of year program.  I’ve been listening to him sing some of the songs for a month or so and I was looking forward to seeing it in concert.  We were all very excited about going to the show.  Jack started getting ready at 12:30 this afternoon.  I had to keep making him take his white shirt off when he was eating.  Casey put a dress on around this time too but she must have changed her clothes 5 times before we got back to the dress.  At 4:45 this afternoon she decided to put on pajamas.  Then she got them wet so she put on a different pair.  She also had a dance outfit, a Cinderella dress, and blue polka-dot pants on at various points in the day.

You’d think we’d be quite prepared to get to the show by the time it finally got here, but I got a little distracted by a big storm that blew some crazy winds at us when it rolled into town.  I had just gotten out of the shower and noticed that Tugger was acting a little funny and the sky was getting darker.  I ran to the front window to see what was going on and trees were bent over and it looked like a big dust cloud out there.  I decided I need to throw some clothes on and go close the garage door.  Then I started making sure there were no big funnels heading towards us and trying to check the weather.  Jack told me, “I don’t think there is any hope left for us.”  Maybe he’s watching too many dramatic Star Wars episodes.  Thankfully he was wrong and the winds only lasted for about 15 minutes and then a little rain and thunder rumbled through.  But it threw off my schedule.  I forgot to grab shoes for Pat and forgot the camera.  And the kids were being crazy up to the moment we left the house.  Luckily Pat had time to get home and grab the camera.

I spent most of Jack’s concert trying to figure out the best manual setting to take pictures because I knew from the last time he was one stage that the automatic settings didn’t give me great pictures.  I eventually figured it out, but long after Jack was on stage.  I got some decent pictures of the 2 year olds.  Too bad I don’t know any of them.

I spent the other time trying not to cry.  They had videos with sentimental music and cute little kindergardeners in caps and gowns and I think it was just designed to make mothers cry.  I didn’t even have someone “graduating.”  Up on stage one of the kindergardeners was crying and she was even prepared with tissues.  It was adorable and made me want to cry.  But I didn’t let any tears escape and now I’m prepared for next year.  So I can try harder not to cry…or bring tissues.

Casey spent the entire show pretending the center aisle was a hopscotch game.  She hopped up and then ran back to Pat.  Repeat a dozen times.  After Jack was done singing though, she was my only photography subject.

It was a great program with a nice little smorgasbord of snacks after the show.  I am so proud of Jack for standing up there and singing his heart out.  A year ago at the rec center preschool he wasn’t sure of himself enough to sing with the group.  He has grown so much this year.  And next year, both Jack and Casey will be on the stage!

Fashion for the 3 Year Old

The third part of Casey’s two weeks of growing up is that she can now get herself dressed.  Strangely, she’s spent more time undressed than before she was able to dress herself.

In the mornings after breakfast, I usually send Jack to his room to get dressed and then I either get dressed or help Casey get dressed.  One morning while I was brushing my teeth Jack came in and very excitedly told me, “Mommy, Casey can get dressed all by herself!”  Sure enough, Casey was wearing some ensemble that she had picked out and I think it actually matched.

Since then, she mostly gets herself dressed.  The only thing she can’t do is take her shirt off (in preparation for putting on a new one).  I try to let her pick out her clothes and she does a decent job.  Sometimes I try to guide her a little better and sometimes I let her wear what she wants and laugh at her smile to myself every time I look at her.

Lately, afternoons have turned into dress up time.  Casey will usually run to her room to change into a princess dress or dancing dress or her special mermaid garb.  Last week, Casey decided that she wanted to be a mermaid and I guess she thinks mermaids don’t wear clothes because when Casey is a mermaid she only wears underwear.  I’m pretty sure Ariel is clothed in all the books we have of her, but maybe mermaid fin and bikini top are as good as naked in Casey’s world.  Either way, it can be entertaining to see how Casey’s outfits evolve through the afternoon.  And there’s usually a trail of clothes and shoes throughout the house.  

This is one of my favorite outfits that Casey has personally styled.  Backwards football jersey over a black Halloween shirt, neon orange skirt over purple leggings, princess socks with pink shoes.  Sadly we will never see an exact replica of this outfit again because she got the purple leggings caught in a branch while climbing a tree and they have a big hole in them.

Casey is modeling her new tutu and play ballet shoes in this picture.  She accessorized with a headband and beads.  

I didn’t realize the purple leggings were so popular.  This ensemble is for grocery shopping.  It’s hard to tell but she has a baby carrier in her right hand and the baby is hanging out of it rather precipitously.  In her left hand she has her reusable grocery bag with some fresh produce.  Princess heels, long white gloves and a pink striped hat are essential for looking good at the grocery store.  Jack also chose his own clothing.  I’m not too keen on that combination of black and blue but if he gets himself dressed, it’s a win for me.

This is my little artist.  He put this hat on and told me it was his painting hat.  How did he know that he should wear that hat?  I haven’t a clue.

Casey is an artist as well.  She was only wearing underwear before we brought out the easel.  That’s her painting shirt.  I guess she needs painting pants as well.

Potty Training Child #2

A couple days after I took the front off Casey’s crib, she told me she wanted to wear underwear instead of a diaper.  I think we had told her that she could get a big-girl bed after she started going on the potty, but it seems like she heard it the other way around.

Back during the first weekend in January, Pat had duty on a Saturday and we had no plans so I decided it would be a good day to start potty training Casey.  8 pairs of wet underwear and 4 pairs of pants later, I think it is safe to call it a potty training failure.  Not once did she go on the potty despite all her talk about not peeing on the princesses or Dora (on her undies).  I decided to give it a break and try again later.  I gave it a few half-hearted attempts in the next few weeks and each time a poor princess would get wet again or Dora would be cursing in Spanish.

I didn’t have the highest of hopes when Casey told me she wanted to wear underwear, but I figured it was a good sign.  After 5 hours and multiple attempts on the potty, she finally went on the potty and not in her underwear!  And we finally had potty training success just a few weeks shy of her 3rd birthday.  In the first week she had a couple of accidents but since then she’s been great.  We had a few issues with using public bathrooms but I can’t really blame her and she was able to hold out until we got home.

Everyone says that girls are so much easier to potty train than boys but I didn’t believe that for a while.  I also heard that girls potty train closer to 2 than to 3.  I was feeling a little pressure…I think Jack was potty trained earlier than Casey was.  But once she decided she was ready to do it, it did turn out to be easier than Jack.  It took a good month of me checking to see if Jack had to go to the potty every 3 hours and it took a long time to go #2 on the potty and not in his underwear.  Those were some slightly gross days of hoping to get a pull up on him before he went in his underwear.

So now Casey can and does do everything herself.  She even sends me out of the room if at first she does ask me for something.  The only thing she has trouble with is turning on the faucet to wash her hands.  We’re still in pull-ups for night time but it’s so great to say that we are diaper free!  And Casey is the new owner of a princess suitcase from her proud Nana. 

Casey’s New Bed

More than a month ago, I was planning to write a post about Casey and all her “big girl” accomplishments at the time.  So better late than never, and with new and improved big girl-ness I’m finally getting to it.

Basically, within two weeks, (and about two weeks before her 3rd birthday) Casey started sleeping in a big girl bed, potty trained and started dressing herself.  At the time, I couldn’t believe it was all happening so quickly and it was relatively painless.

One weekend, I just decided it was time to take the front off of her crib thereby turning it into a big-girl bed.  I removed a few screws and Casey was so happy and jumped right in her bed. 

I thought bedtime was going to turn into a struggle but it really hasn’t.  She still goes right to bed and even if she needs to come out, she yells for me instead of coming out on her own.  Usually she doesn’t need to come out as much as she needs me to fetch her hole blankie for her or her pillow pet or a specific baby.  Most of the time she still yells for me in the mornings too when she wakes up…although I would rather her just come into my room so I can turn on the tv and lay in bed for a little while longer.

The downside of the big girl bed is that she doesn’t nap every day anymore.  Ever since we took her pacifier away, her naps haven’t been great but now she doesn’t take one at all sometimes.  I really thought I would be so sad the day that naps went away but I’m finding it gives me a lot more flexibility and time to get errands done if I need to.  I’m no longer a slave to being home between 1 and 3 in the afternoon.  But, most days I am home and I try to get her to take a nap.  Sometimes she’s just not going to take one.  Usually she has to use the potty 2 or 3 times on those days, spaced out about 20 minutes between each trip.  Sometimes I give up at that point and other times I yell at her and she finally takes a nap. 

If I think about it too much, I get sad that she’s not the amazing sleeper that she used to be.  Every since she started sleeping through the night she’s been a great napper and for a long time she slept until at least 8am every morning.  Lately, she’s even been waking up before 7 which was once unheard of with her.  But, I’m sure as she gets older she is needing less and less sleep.  On days that she doesn’t nap though, it gets pretty obvious that she needed one by about 4 or 5pm.  She gets dramatic and grabby and cranky and is constantly being a little bug to Jack. 

Fast forward to this past weekend and she is now in a really big big-girl bed.  The back of her crib is now the headboard to her new bed.  She has a pretty purple comforter and some pink sheets and she is a pretty happy girl.  Now we just need to work on keeping her in the middle of the bed and not falling on the floor.  And I need to recenter those pictures or find something else to put on her walls.  The beautiful orange piece of paper on the wall is some original artwork by Jack.  It says To Casey From Jack and has a picture of Casey that he drew.  As soon as I said I was going to take some pictures he ran to create this because he thought the room needed a little more decorating.

Picking Out a Book (4 yr old Edition)

Almost two years ago, I wrote a post called Picking Out a Book about how Jack picks out books for story time.  He liked a book called 100 First Words that wasn’t really a story and was driving me a little crazy.  It’s hard to believe that was only 2 years ago.  He was only 2.  I know the math is pretty simple, but the difference in two years is amazing.

His taste in books has changed a bit.  This week when I asked him what books he wanted from the library he said, “Books about space and books about the ocean and all the things in the ocean.  And do you think you could find me one about that red spot on Jupiter?  I want to know more about that red spot.  It’s a big storm and I want to know more about it.”  No hesitation there.

When I brought the books home, he inspected them all to make sure that I got everything that he asked for.  These are all from the non-fiction section of the children’s library.  I also brought some Curious George books and a Dinosaur Train book but he said, “I don’t like Dinosaur Train anymore.  Casey can have it.  I don’t like Curious George either.”  I think he has since changed his mind about George though because tonight George got curious at a chocolate factory.

I don’t remember learning about the solar system and the planets until somewhere around 4th grade.  I made a paper mache sun and learned a lot about the sun at one point but I’ve forgotten it.  I’m now relearning it all with Jack.  Who’s 4.  Crazy.  I didn’t know (or recall) that Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune were gas planets.  And space seems more vast and unfathomable to me now than it did at age 9.


Hitting the streets

Yesterday afternoon was kind of gloomy – looked like it might rain again. I figured we would play inside for the afternoon and I would start dinner early since it needed to cook in the oven for a while. However, our new friend stopped by to see if the kids wanted to play.

I think I’m going to call her the neighborhood social director. She is the 9 year old girl from across the street. We’ve been living here for over a year now and I’ve been watching her play with every kid in the neighborhood except for mine. She is always riding her bike around the block to see who is out playing. One street corner is practically a gold mine for her – 8 kids in one house. I’ve seen her there a lot and even at the house behind us. But never at our house.
A few weeks ago, she finally stopped by our house to meet our kids and play with them. I was starting to feel a little left out. Strangely, she decided to stop by when Pat was out in the yard playing with them. He came in the house to let me know that the kids had a new friend.
So yesterday the social director stopped by to see if Jack and Casey could come out to play. Which means that Mommy needs to go out and play. I would be comfortable if Jack went out to play with her by himself, but Casey is a full time job. She has a renewed affinity for the street. She realized that the slope at the bottom of our driveway is a lot of fun to ride down on her tricycle. So into the street she goes. Then she likes to drive over to the corner and play around on the curb and slope there. While I would prefer that she play in the driveway, there is a benefit to living between two cul-de-sacs. I keep my eye on her and down the street for cars but I let her play.
Luckily, it was warmer outside than I thought. The social director told us that she was going to get the kids from next door and bring them to our house to play in the driveway. She brought them over and also brought their soccer ball and net. They had never been to our house to play…they are a little older and it just seemed like we were never outside at the same time they were.
Thus began Jack’s first experience with team sports. They divided into teams of two to play soccer – one goalie and one player per team. Jack was a little confused as to how to get the ball at first. He just wanted to take turns and didn’t understand he had to try to kick the ball past a defender. He also refused to be goalie for a few minutes but when threatened to go inside, he came around.
From soccer they moved onto golf. Since they were taking turns, Jack enjoyed the game. We have a little putting green and they were all trying to hit it in the hole.
Finally they moved on to hockey and this is where Jack really shined. He had already kind of figured out how to play the game with other kids and he really had a great time trying to get the puck into the goal and playing goalie. And as his proud mother, I thought he did a great job as a goalie considering he was playing against a 4 year old, a 5 year old and a 9 year old.
I didn’t really mean to turn this into such a long story, but the overall point of it was that I felt like I watched him grow up before my eyes in that hour. He went from begging Mommy & Daddy to play hockey in the house to playing street hockey with the neighborhood kids. And I had a little vision of what it will be like in a couple of years when he and Casey are just out playing in the cul-de-sac with the other kids while I make dinner. Sometimes it’s hard to imagine that when you’re putting the shoes back on Casey’s feet for the 5th time (because it really wasn’t that warm out) or chasing her down the street for the 15th time. The apple-rum pork chops never made it into the oven, but I had a lot better time watching my kids make new friends and new memories.