Saturday, October 18, 2003

October 18 – Aidan’s 4th birthday party. Aidan tells me he is 3 ½ but almost 4 but that he won’t REALLY be 4 on the day of his party – he birthday is a few days later. I queried Aidan several times on his desired guest list. Fortunately he isn’t like a lot of kids who like to rattle off the names of everyone in his class. He had no problem at all keeping it down to a select few. Thomas & Zoe are still considered very close friends – although we see Zoe only a few times a year these days. They headed the list. Theo (and his 2 yr old sister Lillian) were next – Theo and Aidan are 2 peas in a pod at school – by far his best friend. Theo also lives a half block from school and we have stopped off there a few times after school recently – which is now becoming almost a daily request. Ella Baker was requested although I wasn’t really that aware of them being good buddies – but I think they play well together. She moved to the morning program but has just added back Friday afternoon with us (my teaching day). And Zoe of Henry and Zoe (and Henry) were requested. Interesting to me that I think he has a preference for Zoe although again I never see him play with her – but perhaps that is because they don’t go to school on Friday. Cammie was also invited – she seems to be liked by a lot of kids at school – she seems very sweet – and her parents are unbelievably welcoming and seem to have at least one school friend & family over for dinner each week. We invited our friend Cassie but she was busy. That is it.

Pete had ruled out the school as a birthday locale. I thought perhaps Acrosports with Thomas might be fun – but after attending another party Sarah ruled that one out. Hmm – what should we do. Should we bite the bullet and host it here?! How many little kids would be wreaking havoc? I thought perhaps we could get Cousin Jeff to come and do sing-a-long with the kids – he picked up my guitar at Quincy & Ellie’s 1 yr party here last year and the kids were entranced. Too bad he was busy. Next thought – let’s have a Cooking Party. The kids love any cooking project at school and both boys love any cooking we do at home – either real or pretend. We already had 2 aprons and I knew some friends had some too. I ordered real, adjustable, paper chefs hats through the internet (thank you google or was it froogle?). And on that day I was working at school helping clear out the basement I ran across 5 or 6 old kids aprons – score! Now to figure out the logistics… I decided to let the kids divide into 4 groups of 2 or 3 and each group make something for us all to eat. Then afterwards the real fun would be decorating cookies. First “course” was Chex mix – add 2 more cereals, some cashews, pretzels, honey roasted peanuts and I think we have a winner – measure, pour and mix – hard work and quite rewarding for 4 yr olds. Next comes the fruit salad. Cutting is a skill they like to work hard at to master. OK let’s cut up some melon, and cut, and cut. Add apples, blueberries, grapes (pluck ‘em off the stem 1st), oranges & pineapple, cut some bananas and toss. Try to keep it in the bowl… Pasta salad time – to the corkscrew pasta add 2 containers of pesto, pine nuts, sun dried tomatoes, and grated parmesan. Stir as best you can and try hard to keep it in the bowl. Eat stray noodles. Last item was intended for Quincy & Lillian but soon became a free for all – jello jigglers – firm jello you cut with cookie cutters. I think 8 little bodies would have been content to do vulture imitations around the 11”x13” if I had let them!

I had just enough seats (as Quincy got his high chair and Millie got her Dad’s lap) for the kids. Adults were left to fend for themselves. The food was pretty good. But at least 3 kids had gooey noses and despite insistence on handwashing before “cooking” I am sure germs were freely spread. It was nice to watch – the kids did a pretty good job of having a decent lunch.

After lunch we went on the landing and played a little “pin the nose on the pumpkin”. They all wore the blindfold – and I for one couldn’t see anything out from under it. I had located the pumpkin at the right height with Aidan’s assistance in the a.m. (he REALLY wanted to help get ready for the party). He also took a couple of practice tries. I spun each kid 3 times then set them straight and gave them a push. They only had about 3 or 4 feet to go but they all (with exception of Lilly) were within about 3” of the center of the pumpkin. The adults were joking that it would have been much more entertaining to let the adults try to do it. The kids seemed to like it though. I had another game but didn’t bother getting it out as it doesn’t work that well – the spider dangles and catches bugs with the Velcro on the bottom of its legs – but the legs often catch each other…

Back to the table for cookie decorating. A time that I think a lot of us adults cringed. A time of excess. How many sprinkles can you pile on one cookie? About ½” worth in some cases! I gave each kid their own icing and left them select a color to add and they each picked a couple of cookies. I was surprised that with one exception all kids picked pink or green frosting. I finally had one request for blue. Aidan went with pink although later used some green and blue. A couple of kids just wanted to eat the sprinkles and icing when they were done. Too bad as by far the best part was the cookie – I have a new recipe that makes beautiful cookie cutter cookies as well as tasting really good. I had the babysitter make up this batch yesterday while Quincy slept and Aidan & I were off at school. Aidan selected which of our 100 cookie cutters to use…

Then it was time for cake. Aidan had asked for CAKE not cupcakes this year. What flavor – vanilla. Hmm. I asked if he wanted an ice cream cake – YES! Flavor? Vanilla, strawberry & chocolate. Hmm – I’ll ask again another day… He agreed that mint chocolate chip and regular chocolate chip sounded pretty nifty. I ordered it up from Ben & Jerry’s. It was very good. I brought it right to the table from the freezer and tried to use my slicing / carving knife for the job – it was having trouble – so I had to go back for my 9” chef knife – it was up to the task. The kids were so quiet while they ate. It was so nice! Of course before we could eat we had to have candle blowing out time. Aidan had come to me early in the morning and told me that he didn’t want people to sing happy birthday to him at his party. Both Pete and I at various times tried to reason with him but he stayed firm in NOT wanting a song. When the time came he reminded me and I asked everyone not to sing. We weren’t even allowed to count 1, 2, 3, 4. But he blew out the candles happily enough. I had funny curly candles that were very skinny (he picked them out). The cake was too firm to poke them in! I finally made little hole with the back of the match which worked perfectly.

I had decided to play the present opening thing by ear – some kids take them home to open, some get to open one a day, some open them all at the party. Aidan decided he wanted to open them at the party and I agreed. I was off looking for something and came back and had missed a couple presents! I had cleared the table off and had thought we would do it there but the kids just plunked down on the landing with only one adult in sight and went at it. Thomas said he wanted to help Aidan open his presents – and did so. Normally Aidan is a very slow opener but I think having help kept things moving at a fast clip. He has only really gotten 2 of the presents actually out of their boxes and played with them. Zoe gave him (like she gave Thomas) – a tool set. A big hit. Quincy was enjoying them too – I couldn’t find my camera in time to get Quincy and Aidan pretend screwing something onto a kitchen cabinet with Aidan & Pete wearing kitchen gloves, and Pete using the saw on anything he could think of – like Quincy’s thigh. It was pretty cute. Quincy gets right in there with his brother. Good thing for the most part they are very good friends. 2nd toy to be really enjoyed – the Brio ambulance train for our train track. Came with 2 “cars” – the first one for the driver and the 2nd for the patient (it came with the 2 people too). Quincy really didn’t want to part with them esp as it makes ambulance sounds. Aidan was pretty darn good about sharing. We also got 2 little pieces of track that can be used to make funky transitions when your tracks don’t line up. Both kids liked all the pictures on the box and somehow thought that the little box contained several trains and a lot of track! Aidan is not so sure about the pieces but Sara really got them for me anyway…

Well that about wrapped up the party. Aidan handed out the goodie bags and people left en mass. The party started at 11 a.m. and I think most people left perhaps around 2.30. Ella had come late (from another party – just in time for cookies and cake) so she stayed a little bit after the others left which was nice. Pete and I did a little cleaning but the place wasn’t too badly off. He then took the boys off to the Exploritorium at around 4 while I did a bit more clean up and then put my feet up for a bit. Nice. Both boys have not gotten enough sleep the last few days so we aimed for an early bedtime. That ended up being 8 for Aidan and after 9 for Quincy which isn’t really much earlier than usual. Aidan was quite a little bear at bedtime thanks to being over tired. Quincy just won’t go to bed for me at all unless I stay in bed with him – he cries and cries even if I try to sit in the doorway and read. Somehow he is willing to go to bed with Pete in the doorway. Oh well. And he still doesn’t sleep through the night… Well it is late here – I will post and head off to bed myself now.

Friday, October 10, 2003

Ok – an update at last. I compose regularly in my head and not at all on the computer. That said…

Quincy’s language has been the thing really fascinating me the past month or so. Mid to late August he really ramped it up and started trying to say most words that you said. Julia Reiff tells me that Ellie started her parrot stage mid-August. Her language skills are much more precise than Quincy’s (other people can understand her easily!). I sort of felt for a long time that Quincy must have been an Hawaiian in a previous life. He has every vowel sound going down pat but only about 5 constants – and almost the same ones they use. For a long time now Quincy has had possessive words down – mine, my, our, mommy’s, Aidan’s, etc. “My Turn” gets a good work out. But he is putting together 5 word sentences these days no problem. I seem to remember Aidan’s early longer sentences being full of nouns and verbs – “orange light blue truck” – leaving out the word “on” in the middle. Quincy has the “on”. He says things like “put it down right here” although it sounds more like “puh ih down righ here”. He often says “read A book”. And he’ll use “the” as well. He has picked up most of his colors along the way without any particular effort on our part. Perhaps because often he and Aidan will have matching things but in different colors – or he needs to tell us which color cup he wants. He clearly knows that the yellow chair belongs to Aidan and the green one is his. Both kids can get rather upset when the other uses their stuff although I think Quincy might even be more aware of it than Aidan when it comes to toys – he picks up a yellow car and tells me it is Aidan’s – but then asks where Quincy’s (pronounced Keency) red car is. Aidan would be happy to play with Quincy’s car if he came across it and not necessarily think of it as belonging to Quincy.

Quincy looked to be stretching out his night time sleeping before our summer trip to Europe – which of course wreaked havoc with his schedule esp as he wasn’t getting enough calories at a lot of meals. Unfortunately he hasn’t made any move back and is waking 2 or more usually 3 times a night and wanting to nurse! He can go all day without nursing quite easily however… The boys share the double bed futon in their room most nights. Interestingly this past week (Pete has been out of town) I have brought Quincy into bed with me for convenience in the middle of the night – and somewhere in the wee hours Aidan creeps into bed with us too. Clearly Aidan misses the company as he usually stays in his bed all night although perhaps once a week we get a 4 a.m. visit.

Aidan has had his school days increased to 4 afternoons a week. He loves it as he goes the same days Theo goes now. I haven’t been quite as enthusiastic about that… Aidan and Theo were inseparable until lately when they have been forced to separate at snacktime. The “new” teacher didn’t realize that they were best buddies and she told me that she felt so bad for Theo the last month of school (when we were gone) as he seemed so lonely. Aidan does fine without Theo but the reverse isn’t as true. The were going pee together – in the same toilet even! A few times they bumped heads as they were even so physically close together! I liked having the day different where Aidan played with other kids, but Aidan is quite happy with the current arrangement. Theo has a 2 year old sister Lillian that Quincy likes. We hang out at their house sometimes as they live half a block from school. Unfortunately they have a yappy small terrier that both of my kids are terrified of for no good reason so I sometimes end up with a kid in my lap or within 2’ of me at all times.

We are getting to see a lot of Thomas these days as we arranged the kids’ schedules so that they share Acrosports class at 9 a.m. on Tuesdays followed by playtime at our house before heading off to school. Wednesdays we head down to their house in Redwood City – a 40 min drive south. At least the weather is usually a very nice change from the city – never any fog! On Thomas’ birthday party day our car read 60 degrees as we headed out of town (and we were in dense fog at 1 p.m.) but was up to 77 degrees when we arrived. Ahh. Both boys got “bigger boy bikes” at about the same week as it turns out and we usually take our bikes down there as they live on a dead end street on the flat. The biking interest has died down a bit – and Aidan is always a bit more interested than Thomas. We usually take our swim stuff too and use their pool. Quincy was VERY into that although we haven’t gone in the last 2 weeks. Unfortunately their pool guy comes Wed mornings and adds a bunch of new (cool) water so the pool isn’t as warm as “usual” (Sara installed solar heating). They now have a 5 bedroom home with a large downstairs play area. Quincy usually tries to drag me down their first thing (open door mommy!) as there is usually the train set up. Thomas still has trouble thinking of Quincy as anything other than a baby who eats toys (and Quincy never did much toy eating) and tries hard to exclude him often. The bigger boys often head right into Thomas’ room and SLAM goes the door in Quincy’s face. Aidan sometimes tries to intervene for Quincy esp if I have a little talk to Thomas about letting Quincy play with something – then Aidan will jump right into policeman mode and try to enforce “sharing”.

We joined Thomas for his Wednesday swim class once (and watched it the week before that). He goes to an outdoor (but covered) 92 degree pool. And this summer he really learned to swim – he does laps and is working on various strokes. We are just very excited that Aidan is no longer absolutely terrified of the water and is OK about getting his face wet! He is also willing to splash around now with just waterwings or a life preserver on – a huge step forward. Quincy given the right opportunity would be swimming by now – he loves the water and automatically goes into full kicking mode. He just gets cold (clue lips) very very easily as he has no body fat on him.

Now Wednesday mornings we go to our local park where Coach Jamie has Soccerkids Class. There are a couple of other kids from Aidan’s school and class is at least half girls (often much bigger girls!). Coach Jamie is GREAT. I am not sure we will keep on with it though. First class it took 30 of the class’ 40 minutes to get Aidan on the field. Next class Aidan insisted that I run along side him holding his hand (and carrying Quincy). 3rd class I got to stand out in the field with them (as opposed to all other moms hanging out back on the far sidelines) but I didn’t have to hold his hand nor do much running (still have to hold Quincy). This last time I was out there standing nearby for much of the class but was allowed to go to the regular mom area for some of the time. Hmm. Jamie does a lot of fun games like have the kids pretend they are dinosaurs collecting eggs (soccer balls) and raiding the other kids “nests”. I think Aidan thought these games were soccer. They finally had a “real” game this 4th class – where they also saw the goals for the 1st time and learned to “power” kick. Some of the kids have been taking classes for a while. Anyway toward the end of time they finally divided into teams and played a “real” game of soccer. I was horrified to see Aidan get knocked down and another kid fall over him but coach handled it beautifully and Aidan got a free kick off it that happened to make one of only 2 goals scored. Aidan had told me earlier in the class then he doesn’t really like to run after the ball after he kicks it (he likes to leisurely walk!) and I realized that soccer probably was NOT the game for him! Aidan is one of the few boys I know who does like to just RUN. He is pretty good at it and certainly enjoys running up and down our hallway with Quincy…