Suzanna’s First Day at School

This is a summary of what I learned about Suzanna’s first day of pre-school, from Suzanna:

When she got into the classroom, she changed into her work shoes. Then the class had a gathering. Then everyone went to their work space. Then she had a presentation from Valerie about the Animal Cards, and Valerie sat on a little stool beside her. There was a “baby” who also had a presentation from Valerie. He is a boy, and he is little. And then she had snack and she ate watermelon and it was good. She had a drink from the water fountain in the kitchen. The sinks in the classroom are little and she can reach them and wash her hands. The toilets are regular size, but they are little too.

For comparison, this is what I learned from Alexander after a week of him going to the same pre-school: pretty much nothing.

From Across The Pond

Yesterday, Alexander asked me why I say “tom-ah-to” for tomato, but not “pot-ah-to” for potato. He is a cheeky monkey.

Today, Suzanna requested for “yo-gut” and then added on, “Mummy say yaw-gut. Suzieanna want yo-gut-yaw-gut please. And a BOON”. (Translation – yoghurt, and a spoon). She is a cheeky monkey too.

As long as they both comply with my requirement to remain “Mummy”, “Mum” or “Mumma”, we’ll manage ok.

Chatterbox

This video of Suzanna chattering away was taken last week during the kids’ after-bath/pre-bedtime play time.

She started asking “help me!” instead of just screeching when she wants something. Big improvement. She’s also starting to get a little bossy, what with all the “sit down Mummy!” directions. But again, I’ll take that over the baby Pterodactyl screeches any day of the week.

I think she’s already added another 20 or so words to her vocabulary since then. I guess she figured it was time to start speaking up.

Two Wheels!

Alexander has been riding his little scoot bike since the end of last year, and had gotten so good at balancing that it seemed time to take the training wheels off his little red bike and let him have at it.

This first video was taken on the day we took the training wheels. He just started riding his bike straight away! Sure, he’s a little wobbly and unsure, but he could do it! It was pretty incredible to watch.

The second video is after about a month of two-wheelin’ under his belt. He’s feeling pretty secure on his big blue bike these days, starting to experiment with what he can do – standing up going up the hills in our neighbourhood, zooming the bike up and down the driveways along the road on our evening walk like he used to do on his scoot bike as a way to add interest to his journey while those of us who are on foot plod along behind him.

Ain’t no stopping him now.

Alexander is 4

Can you believe that this little baby….
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…has grown into this little boy?
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Alexander of course would tell you that he is NOT a LITTLE boy. He is a BIG boy. He is FOUR. FOUR is BIG.

Alexander’s current favourite conversation starter is to announce “Hi! I am four!”, as though this critical piece of information will assure his audience that he does indeed have the necessary credentials to carry on a discussion. And, oh, what discussions there are to be had! The questions, the insight, the reasoning that goes on inside his head. It’s so fun to see Alexander thinking and learning and growing.

In addition to his morning pre-school activities, Alexander has been doing gymnastics twice a week since January, and we’ve been going to Music Together with Suzanna, Katie and Owen once a week for the past couple of months, so that keeps him occupied for a few afternoons of the week.

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He’s really taken to the gymnastics, and seems to revel in the running, jumping, bouncing around aspect of being at the gym. He can do several basic moves – a decent forward roll, a very nice bridge and a messy sort of cartwheel, plus all sorts of trampoline bounces and some basic bar work. Of course, it’s hard to tell what he’s really capable of, since anytime we go to watch him at the gym he acts out to ‘impress’ us.

Music Together has been a fun addition to the family. Alexander likes to use the drums/maracas etc and he also likes to dance around. The boy has moves :). At first, Alexander didn’t sing much in class, but as time has gone by I can see he is participating more. He likes to listen to the CD in the car, and every now and then he will break out and start singing some of the songs we’ve learned in class. That makes me happy.

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Around the time his 4th birthday arrived, Alexander gave up his afternoon nap. He’d been showing signs of letting the nap go, but would still fall asleep and sleep soundly for an hour or more most afternoons….however, the afternoon nap started playing havoc with the evening bed time, with Alexander repeatedly coming out into the living room after lights out, still awake hours after lights out. So we gritted our teeth and pulled the plug on the nap. He still does ‘quiet time’ most afternoons, and he still naps most weekends (because everyone else needs a nap!) and that seems to be working out well.

For his 4th birthday, one of his friends gifted him his first Real Book, EB White’s “Trumpet Of The Swan”. This lovely book has brought some big changes to Alexander’s reading habits. We are no longer restricted to endless re-readings of “What Do People Do All Day?”, but instead are encouraged – no, *required* – to read a chapter from his latest story book aloud to him at bed time. So far, we have read him “Trumpet Of The Swan” and moved on to “Wind In The Willows”. He is totally absorbed.

Backyard Camping

Alexander himself is not reading yet, but the seeds of interest are there, and I’m sure they will grow in their own good time. He’s pretty good with his numbers from 1-20 now, and can tell the time with reasonable accuracy (which means he can tell me whenever it looks like we might be running late….which is most of the time..). He draws the occasional pictures of people, but his preference is for modern art masterpieces created with smudgy textured paint. He regularly brings home artwork that he describes with titles such as “Big Fireboat Under Attack” or “Tsunami Eats Trucks”. And, yes, he knows what a tsunami is. And he knows about earthquakes and volcanoes. After the Japanese earthquake, we spent a lot of time discussing the basics of plate tectonics. He had a lot of questions. He has a lot of questions about everything.

Alexander Art

Of course, not everything is such smooth sailing. We have our challenges with Alexander, right alongside our joys. It should be no surprise to anyone that Alexander is opinionated. Opinionated and stubborn. Opinionated, stubborn and argumentative. He likes to do things the way he likes to do them, and in his opinion, his way is the ONLY way. Trying to coax some flexibility out of him can be so difficult; infuriating and frustrating for all involved. And he gets frustrated with Suzanna – she touches his toys, messes up his blocks and lego at any opportunity and doesn’t understand when he uses all his magical power words/phrases that are so effective on kids at school and on grown-ups (“Please don’t touch that. It is mine.” “You are making me frustrated!” “I need a pathway!” etc) . She seemingly “gets away” with all sorts of mischief that he *knows* is not allowed, and since he tends to see the world in black and white with no shades of gray, he fumes at the injustice of it all. “Baby Suzanna needs a time out!”. I can understand how the difference in expectations must seem dreadfully unfair. Being the oldest sibling is tough like that. I remember it well. And yet…this is life. Got to learn to deal!

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Overall, four is such a fun age, and Alexander is a great kid. He has a total cheeseball sense of humour, and nothing is funnier than the words “poop” and “butt” in his world. He teaches me things almost as often as I teach him things, and being with him makes me more aware and attentive to the world around us. Best of all, Alexander is a cool little dude who is fun to hang out with and interesting to talk to. I like him.

Suzanna at 16 months

Or is it 17 months now? It’s hard to keep up.

Suze

She is a rough and tumble little girl these days. She climbs everything she can reach, and she can reach a lot of things – chairs, the sofa, our beds, small walls in the playground/backyard etc. She searches out the step stool and moves it around the house to climb and reach whatever has piqued her interest. We try to stop her and for the most part we manage to spoil her fun and keep her safe, but every now and then she flies under the radar and bumps herself. Then there are bruises and tears, but soon as she stops crying she wriggles free and wants to climb again. She is fearless!

Suzanna is has added a few more words to her vocabulary and is doing some basic signing too. Recent works include: Book = boo. Cheese = chee. That one = da waaa. More = mo. Night night = nigh-nigh! Grandma = Gamma. I’m sure there are more, but these are the ones that are springing to mind. Suzanna produces a steady stream of chatter that is largely gibberish, with the occasional intelligible word thrown in. She says “Mummy!” a lot – it’s her go to word/phrase whenever she wants something, even if I’m not around. It mostly seems to mean “I want that thing!”. She still mainly communicates by shaking or nodding her head to indicate what she wants. And she knows what she wants. She regularly signs for “more”, “all done”, “food/drink”.

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She is particularly opinionated about her footwear. Some days she wants to wear her little pink trainers. Other days she wants her Crocs. She will not wear sandals. She likes to wander round the house and pick up other peoples shoes and put them on – mine, Mark’s, Alexander’s.

Suze loves fruit. Clementines and grapes are her favourites, but really, any fruit will do. She does eat other things, but only if there is no fruit in sight. She likes to sit at the kids table we have set up in the living room to eat her snack in the afternoon. She will sit there munching away, swinging her little feet under the table until she is done.

She loves the swing. She loves to dance and twirl to music. She likes to help load and unload the washing machine and dryer, and also the dishwasher. She makes scrunched up smiley faces when she is pleased to see someone. She understands most if not all of what is being said around her. She is not keen on the swimming pool and she is terrified of balloons. I think Alexander has scared her off both these things with his splashing (pool) and popping (balloon) and general loudness (both).

She loves books and being read to, and will routinely toddle off and come back with a book. She hands over the book, then turns around and backs up to plop down in an open lap for story time. It’s hard to resist.

Suzanna is always trying to get in Alexander’s business, and Alexander in turn likes to try to police Suzanna’s actions. So they butt heads a lot. Not literally. Not yet, anyway (there was some biting a couple of weeks ago though). They can play nicely together too and they certainly seek out each other’s attention. Both get upset if we try to separate them. It’s adorable and infuriating in equal measures.

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At her 15 month checkup, Suzanna weighed in at 22lb12oz (43%) and was 32.25″ (89%) tall. She is long and lean! And beautiful. And smart.

Driving Home

Alexander chattered at me the whole way.

“Wow Mum! Look at that sunset! The sun is going down. It is beautiful! I like it a lot. It’s pink! And it could be handsome too. We are getting nearer to the sunset. That means we are going east. What’s east Mum? Why are we going east? Is it day time in Australia? It is getting to be night time here, so that means it is day time in Australia, right Mum? Can I talk to cousin Benji on Skype when we get home? Can I talk to Uncle Andrew? Why is it night time? Am I going to have a bath when we get home? Baby Suzanna has had a bath, so she does not need a bath. I can have a bath all by myself. The sun is over the horizon. Look at the horizon. What *is* the horizon, Mum?”

He’s not even four years old yet. How am I going to keep up?