Wednesday, March 24, 2010


I took Addison to visit a preschool this morning. Since she has an early birthday, she'll be nearly six when she starts kindergarten. And since she'll be nearly 4 this fall, I've been wanting to put her in a part-time program this coming year, because I'll definitely want her something the next year too. Well, my friend Tricia told me that the high schools around here have preschool lab programs. They have high school students apply for the class, requiring ten teacher references and personal references. The students actually are trained to write curriculums, come up with art and science projects, circle time stuff, etc. and then they get to implement their ideas with actual preschoolers. The school doesn't start till the end of October, so the students have two months of classes before they get the kids. Of course they are supervised by adults too. The best part is that it only costs $180 for the whole school year! The main reason I've been hemming and hawing about preschool is because most of the ones I've checked out are around$250 a MONTH for three days a week.

I went today to check it out. It's Mon, Tues and Wed. from 7:45 to 10:45 (we'll have to wake up early). You never know what the actual environment is like till you go, so I put Ryan in the stroller and went a few blocks down to the high school (did I mention it's right in my neighborhood?). They have 24 kids from 3-4 (split off sometimes into younger/older 3's and younger/older 4's) and I think 14-16 students, plus the director in the classroom, so it's slightly more than 1 teacher per 2 kids. They have art, science, math, reading, circle time, snack time, music, and outdoor play (apparently there is a big playground with climbing ropes, tricycles, etc). I was there about an hour and was very impressed. The high schoolers were attentive and on the ball, and the kids were all very much under control. By breaking up into small groups and changing activities so much, the kids don't have time to get bored or distracted, and the students take turns trading off teaching, herding, etc. I was there during a fire drill too, and I loved how there were so many "adults" to keep track of the kids, hold hands, etc. I was wondering if I would find the girls gossiping, lounging around, or looking bored but they all seemed very busy and focused.

Addison had a ball. She played with toys for a little bit and then sat in on story time. During the drill, one teacher came up to take Addie's hand and from then on, she was just part of the group. They played London Bridges outside, and as we went back in, she didn't even look to see where I was. Then, after hearing another story, I told her it was time to go, and she said, "No, Mama, now it's MUSIC time," and followed the kids to their music mats.

My feeling is that it would be perfect for Addison this next year. It is close, the hours are good, it's 3 days a week, and it looks like it's safe and fun. Also I don't have to pack lunch or worry about nap interference either. Whether she learns a lot or not - that's mostly secondary right now, although they were doing letter stuff, sequence of events with pictures, etc. It may end up being fabulous and she learn tons of things, or it might just be a fun place for her to do, well Pre School stuff, like sitting on circle, lining up, sharing, etc. Since she will have another entire year of preschool the next year, I'm fine with taking things slow. Thanks so much for calling this to my attention Tricia!!! I am so excited! When I told Addie that she couldn't go till next fall, when she was a little bit bigger, she said, "But Mama, I don't know HOW to wait till I'm grown up!"

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

March news

Matt got back from his India trip safe and sound, but very tired from his travels. He spent most of his time on the campus of the Hindustan Bible Institute, which educates and trains Indian Christians on how to spread the Gospel throughout the Hindu population. He said that most Hindus believe in God and Jesus, and affirm His healing powers, but see Him as merely one god of many. Matt described the faith of the Indian Christians as such to make even devout Americans look heathen. He also said he has never seen so many people crammed on top of each other in his life. Chennai has 12 million people and is geographically much smaller than Houston. The average household has 5 children, most of whom live in absolute poverty. Here is a picture of a bathroom at a public school they went to visit:

This was in the city. They don’t even have toilet paper – they use a cup to dip water out of the bucket to “rinse” off.

We are very thankful he is home again. Ryan especially missed his Daddy – he saw pictures at my mom’s house and our house and would just say, “Dada, Dada” over and over. It was very sad.

I survived just fine while he was gone. I was home for a few days, then took the kids to see Matt’s mom at Thousand Trails Lake Whitney, where they were camping for Spring Break in a trailer. We only stayed two nights, but that was enough – I hadn’t packed much warm clothing for them, so the unexpected cold fronts were not pleasant. And poor Ryan isn’t quite ready for camping. He fell off the beds in the trailer a lot, fell in the rocks, got sand in his mouth and eyes, didn’t want to hold my hand ANYWHERE, and woke up the whole trailer every morning since he doensn’t know how to be quiet. Addie was running a fairly high fever the whole time we were there, and she wasn’t up for doing much. She slept fitfully at night, and didn’t nap during the day. We left after two days and drove up to see my mom in Dallas. Friday we went to the Arboretum and had a great time letting the kids run everywhere in the flowers. Saturday morning was cold and moldy, so we stayed in and then went out shopping later to get some new summer clothes for Addison. She also got a Princess roll-along suitcase. I figured it was time for her to have her own bag/suitcase for overnight trips. She LOVES it and so far has filled it with many animals that she wheels around. Ryan even took his socks off, put them in the suitcase, and started pulling it, saying, “Bye bye, Mama!” Sunday morning we woke up to …..SNOW!! It was icy cold. We bundled the kids up in whatever we could find, and went out for a grand total of three minutes. Addie threw a snow ball and attempted a snow angel, but then started crying about wanting to wash her hands. Ryan kept pulling his hat off, then started crying while staring at his frozen hands. He was so cold! We went straight in and had hot cocoa.

Ryan has been picking up words like crazy. Just this morning he learned, “Hey!” They are not always understandable, but he’s getting them with very few repetitions. I’m still getting used to the differences between him and Addison when she was his age. His slower verbal development makes me think he’s younger than he is, but he very obviously understands a lot. When I asked Addie if she was going exploring, Ryan immediately piped up with, “Dora? Dora?” He will say “Dora” all day. He has started to attach to his blankets. Oh, and he calls Addison DeeDee. She fussed about it at first, saying her her name was NOT DeeDee. So I told her that was just his name for her since he couldn’t say Addison. I told her that we could start calling him Ryan instead of Baby, since that wasn’t his name, and she said, “Yeah, but Baby is my name for him.” So we have DeeDee and Baby. He looks for her and calls her when he can’t see her. But man oh man, he has learned quick how to take care of himself. He’ll snatch a toy and run as fast as he can to a corner, then screech and scream and wave his arms and stomp his feet if you come near to try to get the toy back. He’s also started the lovely phase of “going boneless”, where the legs turn to jello and he flops on the floor about to crack his skull when he’s mad. I kept him by himself for a day while Matt’s sister took Addie and my nephew overnight to the farm. I took Ryan to the library for story time, which he’s never gone to, and it was SO different than with Addie. He wanted to stay in my lap most of the time. Addison would have been on the floor with the other kids. He stood a little, clinging to my leg, while they did the Hokey Pokey. Addie wouldn’t have been the first kid to dance, but she would have been the third or fourth. He is not as easy for me to read – I don’t know what he’s thinking a lot of the time, while it seemed like I could see Addie’s whole thought process unfold on her face. I don’t understand what sets him off, or what might draw his interest. Could be because I haven’t had the time to study him and get to know him by himself like I did with Addison, or could be because he’s a boy, or maybe it’s because he just has a different personality. However, I know that when Addie starts school, I’ll have two years at home with just him as a 3-4 year old.

My guy!

My brother and sis-in-law and niece Sarah are coming next week to visit. Sarah is 3 weeks younger than Ryan, and about half his size! I haven’t seen her since she was about 8 months old, so I am dying to hold her and see what kind of cutie she is. Addison will probably have a great time with her too.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

End of February Update

Matt's parents kept the kids at the farm last weekend and they had a blast. They got to ride the Rhino, play in the dirt, play with toys, and ate like hogs. Matt and I had a wonderful weekend. The weather was beautiful! We spent Friday night with our friend Eric, who cooked us dinner, and then Saturday morning Matt borrowed a bike and we went riding along a creekside path, through parks and into his old neighborhood. It was so much fun to just cruise along wherever we wanted! We rode by his old house that he lived in from 5th-12th grade, and the lady who owns it (actually, the people who bought it used to own the farm, and they traded the farm to Matt's parents for the Houston house!) came out and let us come inside to see how it looks after all these years. It was neat. Then we ate lunch out, and came home to do just a little bit of yard/garage work. I had a $50 gift card to Cypress Station Grill from when Casey won the local newspaper costume contest at Halloween, so we ate there, and then we had free movie passes to Studio Movie Grill (they give two free tickets to anyone once a month) and watched Shutter Island. After sleeping in Sunday, we actually got to lounge around while reading the paper and drinking coffee. Then we drove up to get the kids.

It was really fun spending time with Matt again, and having fun together on our own schedule. But we did miss the kids and were happy to see them again. It was a perfect little break. I've been trying more and more to truly enjoy the kids every day instead of keeping them occupied while I try to do a million other things at once. I don't pick up the house every day or feel like I constantly have to keep moving to get stuff done, and it's so much nicer overall - the kids are more relaxed because I am. I didn't think I was "overdoing" it in terms of housework and other distractions - but I don't think I was ever truly at the "letting things go" stage. I'm trying to find the right balance, which things to really just "let go" (if the laundry's in the basket instead of on the floor, then who cares if it takes a few days to fold? And every toy doesn't have to be picked up every day) and which things I do need to stay on top of (clean kitchen and bathrooms, washing clothes). My house is messier than normal, but I can already tell a change in my mood and the kids have just been behaving beautifully (mostly) for the past few weeks.

We took pictures last year of Addison in Matt's mom's wedding dress - the original plan was to take a picture every year on her birthday, but we never got around to it until March of last year, so this past weekend was the perfect time to capture 3-year-old Addie in the dress. I keep meaning to put her in something of mine every year, and Ryan could wear something of Matt's maybe? And I'll have to find something of my mom's too.....I guess you never know what piece of clothing would really epitomize a time period in your life that you can watch your kids grow into over the years. I first got the idea when I saw an article about a mom who put her girl in her grandma's old 1950's bathing suit, with the longer legs. By the time the girl was 16 or so, the swimsuit fit her like a glove and was a great vintage piece. Maybe I should have kept my Units outfits from the 80's!

Silly girl

She was actually very still and good

This was Matt's dad's suit jacket from their wedding

He loved it.

Oh, and we know we're spoiling the kids, but we bought them a couple of cheap toys while they were away. And we're probably setting a bad precedent but we got two of each toy. Partially so they won't fight, but also because it's so fun to watch them both play with the toys together. We got little bats and balls at the dollar store, then two microphones ($2). I had acquired two ride-on toys even before Ryan was born because I knew I'd have two kids and they would both need (want) a riding toy at the same time. Ryan is so cute copying Addison - he looks to her for information from how to climb into the car by yourself to how to dig a hole to plant flowers.

Singing "Jack and Jill", of all songs!

Standing up on the cars and "dancing"

I taught Ryan to snore today - Addie took a long nap so I told him she was still asleep and put my hands up to my cheek and snored. He thought it was hilarious, and he covers his mouth and makes hacking noises.