COVID Kinder

We booked a long road trip at the end of August thinking it would be Cam’s 3rd week of virtual school. As such, we thought we would have the hang of it and could apply our virtual school learnings to the road.

Then, the school year was pushed back and his first day, a Thursday, fell on the 6th day of our trip.

So, as it went, Cam took his first official day of virtual Kindergarten from our Airbnb in Grants Pass, Oregon.

The first and second days were really just about meeting the teacher, learning rules and getting oriented, so they were easy to handle. But I will say it was a unique thing to be starting elementary school from a place other than our home.

Cam had a great attitude… you can even see he was cooperative for photos, which is not really his thing, so that means something too.

My mama heart bursts when I look at these photos.

Growing Brains and Bodies

It’s a cliché but it’s so true that my little kiddos are becoming not so little way too quickly.

A little evidence for your perusal…

Cam’s learning so much at school. He has conquered the alphabet and beginning sounds and is now working on second hard sounds in words, while also practicing his letters and writing constantly. This is one of several writing samples he brings home every week. While he didn’t get “don’t” in this example, his teacher said he’s doing great with second hard sounds, among the top of the class.

Cam's writing journal

Cam is also figuring out phones beyond the games designed for kids. He can open our phones, hide away, do silly things, and he has even composed a couple of his first texts (emojis + his name). Here are a couple photo gems I discovered he took, probably knowing they would make me laugh.

We started reading more involved books, which is such a relief after 5 years of kid books. His first chapter book was James and the Giant Peach. Then, Cam and I read The Mouse and the Motorcycle, followed by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. It is really fun to read children’s literature with him now because there’s just so much more substance.

Reading Real books!

In terms of physical changes, Cam’s ever-present frog belly, the one he has had since 3 weeks after birth is officially and utterly GONE. He is skinny. He has knobby little knees and abs you can see when he’s wiggling around his room between baths and bedtime. His elbows dig into me when he’s climbing on my lap. While I didn’t want him to be a little chubby buddy forever, it’s hard letting go of the natural toddler/small kid chub that made him so darn cute.

While he has had a mega appetite for two weeks now (double the kid meals each meal of the day, and can also eat an adult meal faster than me), and I’m sure he’ll shoot up another inch when we’re busy blinking, he hasn’t grown height-wise in 3 months.

This fact doesn’t matter, at all, unless you’re a 5 year old. He asked me to measure him a few weeks ago against our cabinet door where we’ve been tracking height. I was certain he would be taller than 3 months ago because that’s the way it is with kids. However, I couldn’t even fake it. He was the same height as a few months prior and he did not take the news well.

He. Was. Devastated. He was so sad he ran to his room and curled up crying in the corner. He brought it up multiple times after that, restarting the cry-fest.

Measuring kids' growth

So far as I can tell he is in the middle or maybe a little taller than half his class and his Dr. visits show him as mid-60 %ile, so he’s going to be fine, but for now, we’re hoping for a little growth to get him back on the right emotional track!

As for Demi G, she is also growing in mind and body. She is, and always has, been so independent, but that has translated to early everything. She dresses herself, she potty trained herself, she wants to do her hair herself, she wants to cook/climb/create things herself. Her language skills are still advanced and so helpful to us. It’s rare we don’t know what she’s trying to communicate.

While we haven’t been to a well visit in a long time (we will be soon for her 3-year), she’s pretty tall, and her hair has sprouted! Look at these locks!

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She desperately wants to keep up with “brudder” on all levels. While she wants to do all the same things and act in the same way as him, she also wants to prove it, so she gets upset when she hasn’t had her turn to try or to show what she can do.

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She even thinks she wants the same food as Cam until I serve it to her and she realizes she likes it her own way.

A few days ago, there was a sweet little first. I was comforting her after she woke up grumpy from a nap. Cam was occupied with Morgan who was over playing and Demi continued to whine in my arms. Eventually she said, “I just want brother”… with tears on her lashes, it just melted my mommy heart.

Most of the time she’s trying to keep up and forge her own path, which has led to a lot of quick development, but I do love when she’s dependent and clingy. She’s the little one and I’ll cling to her too!

Night Talks

For several months now, our nighttime ritual with Cam and Demi is to read books, turn out the light, talk about our favorite parts of our days and then turn on music and go to sleep.

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And for several months each of their responses for the highlights of their day have been fairly appropriate for their age–they just say something that’s easy and top of mind, like, “My favorite part of the day was when you came home, mommy.” Or, “Eating ice cream!”

I always have to work on Cam for what he learned, or what was interesting at school, or anything beyond the surface.

This evening though, I got some thoughtful highs and lows from his day and I loved it! First he told me that there was actually a “bad part of the day”. He described the trees at his school and how they have big roots and told me he tripped and fell over the root, split his jeans and got a bloody knee. He then showed me the cut. Oh man he was cute talking about this big mishap.

Then he said, “Oh and there was a funny part of the day too!” He went on to tell me that he was playing at the water table and his classmate Seth knocked it over and it splashed all over him. And he laughed and was looking at my reaction to see if I thought it was funny too.

He asked me about my day and I told him it actually wasn’t a great workday because one of my coworkers quit and it was sad because I liked working with this person. I said I won’t really be seeing them or working with them anymore.

Cam then said that it was kind of like when his 3rd grade buddy (they are paired with a 3rd grader for a once weekly activity) moved away and wasn’t going to his school anymore. He said he wouldn’t be seeing them anymore.

I just loved everything about this little conversation–that he is really thinking about his day and determining what to tell me, that he is clearly starting to feel more comfortable at school based on his willingness to dive into the details, and that he was able to relatemy work situation to his world. 

I don’t always love how quickly these kids are growing up, but I do enjoy the perks of his growing brain and the new levels of interaction we get to have. ❤

Moments Like These

I’ve heard other parents who have boys and girls talk about their children being best friends. This is a fairly foreign concept for me because my brother and I were friends…. only when nobody else was around for us to play with. And only when I followed my brother’s rules for all the games. And only when we were between the ages of 5 and 11. After that, no promises.

Well, I don’t know if it’s that 2.5 year age difference (both my brother and I, and Cam and Demi) that inspires competition, or if it’s just something in the differences (or similarities) in their personalities, but I don’t get the feeling Cam and Demi will be “best friends.”

That is okay. I acknowledge that they can have a good relationship regardless–that they’ll have a shared experience in life, and will hopefully respect and support each other.

But, now, at 2.5 and 5 years old, we’re seeing small moments where they cooperate and it’s so lovely that it almost cancels out all the conflict and crying. I think Cam will enjoy showing his sister how to do things over the years, but I can tell that Demi only wants a certain level of help because she is so proud of her ability to do things by herself.

As an aside, Cam asked me if I wanted to practice math with him. So, he wrote out a couple equations on paper (addition only for now). He got both of them correct, even with his cute backwards 4. Then he demonstrated the equation in objects. I love watching his brain develop now that he’s in school. His advancement seems faster than I was expecting. Here’s 3 (acorns), plus (indicated by a magnet) 4 acorns , equals (another magnet) 7 (acorns).

Cam Equations

When I asked him how many letters in the alphabet, he cheated by counting the alphabet puzzle spaces, but he nailed “26”. I haven’t really seen him count objects accurately when the numbers get that high. So, another success!

Be In Spider!

When I’ve giggled at and re-watched a kid video 3 or 4 times, that’s a sure sign I should put it on the blog.

Demi has a Michelle Obama board book with phrases like “Be Inspired” and Demi likes having us read the words and she repeats them. I can’t stop laughing at her attempts to say the long words. She’s an articulate girl for her age, but she still hangs onto some mispronunciations with common words (we forever call them pinotails, not ponytails, and things like “strillo” for stroller) and she gets tangled in the long words too. I love it.

Here’s the cutie patootie.

Holy TK!

The last couple weeks have been intense. Good, bad, highs, lows, happy tears, sad tears, stressed tears, all the tears.

Transitions are so tough.

First, Cam said goodbye to Taproot where he’s been learning and growing for 2+ years with Mrs. Karla and her crew.

Who cried the most? Me. Followed by Mrs. Karla who wished Cam well in English and in Spanish. “Mi Amor! I will miss you. You’re going to do so good and make lots of friends….”

And Cam? So nonchalant. He mostly had a little grin and maybe disregard? I’m not even sure. The best I can really translate, he was ready for change as much as a Cam can be ready. On the way home from his last day of school we discussed how he might be ready for more challenges, new people, new learning, new toys and he firmly said that he was ready. That gave me more hope than I’ve ever had in a Cam transition.

From Thursday at Taproot to Monday at Northmont Elementary, Cam didn’t really have time to think about and process all the change. He said he was excited, but we weren’t holding our breath.

Then, Monday.

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Cam was so excited in the morning that when I asked if he was ready he said “let’s go right now!” So we went outside where neighbor Kaya was also leaving for her first day of school (different school, 1 grade ahead of Cam) so we snagged a pic before going separate ways.

At Northmont, we also snapped a pic with Morgan, the only person Cam knows in his new school and new class… thank goodness for that.

They hung up their backpacks and headed inside the Ms. Labshere’s classroom and assumed their seats at different tables.

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He showed a little trepidation and as I tried to leave, I saw him put the legos he was working with back into his tables’ box and put his head down on his table. At that point, I made things worse because I’d forgotten to hand him his glasses and re-approached him. His wet eyelashes and nervous stare just wrecked me.

I tried to give him a pep-talk and not cry myself. I handed him his glasses, kissed him and left. As soon as I was out the door, I was crying and his head was back on his desk.

Luckily, he had a great day. Ms. Labshere said he was a happy camper the rest of the day. She attached this photo to an email update to Joe and I:

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The next days are a blur… for Cam probably and me too. Tuesday – Thursday were smooth and then Joe encouraged me to drop him off on Friday in part so I could see his progress and excitement to go to school.

Well, Friday was pretty tough. He cried a lot and clung to me. At some point, Ms Labshere pried his little lizard body off of me and I had to leave quickly.

This week (week 2) was about the same level of smooth and rocky. We had a couple good days, then on Wednesday when he wanted to take his “me bag” to school, but it wasn’t ready yet, he lost his mind. He wouldn’t leave for school and was screaming over the me bag, no matter what Joe and I could think of to say. We tried gentle, loving, encouraging, stern, casual, … and then we gave up. We had to force him into the car kicking and screaming. It was awful.

Thursday, we had his “me bag” ready, darn tootin’. Heaven forbid we lag another day and face the angry and sad snot monster that was provoked the day before. And he could NOT wait to go to school. Go figure.

So, here is a pic of him and a few of his classmates presenting their me bags.

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Inside Cam’s bag:

  • A ziploc full of jewels and rocks, of course! This was for his favorite possession.
  • A drawing of a BBQ chicken pizza representing his favorite food.
  • Photos of his family and his Mila dog.
  • His favorite toy, which was his Ironman… I can’t say I really think this is his favorite toy, so I think there was some 5 year old psychology going on when he picked it, like perhaps he thought it would be cool? His real favorite toys are his Angry Birds game, games in general, string/tape/scissors. Here are the pics of his family and Mila that were in the me bag:

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Overall, I thiiiiiink we’re going to survive this transition. But it certainly isn’t easy, even in the moments when I think things are happy I can’t help but worry about my little guy and wonder what he’s thinking, how he’s doing and if he’s making friends.

I am extremely proud of him. He’s being brave and trying hard and bringing home little tokens of success. Gosh I love him.

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Do You Know How Much I Love You?

Here’s another Cam Says / Demi Says, but holy smokes, this one was a doozy. Let’s start with that one…

Me to both Cam and Demi: do you know how much I love you both?
D: I o’ know (how she says I don’t know)
Me: A lot.
D: Seven?
Me: Way more.
D: Hundred?
Me: Way more.
C: Like a million hundred, ninety eight hundred, ninety eight?
Me: Yeah, more like that.
C: But you wouldn’t want to count to that many. It would take a long time.
Me: I agree, that wouldn’t be fun.
C: Yeah, by the time you get to that number, you’d be gone.
Me: oh?
C: Yeah, you’d be up there. [Gestures to the sky]
Me: Oh. Hmm. Probably….

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Demi was sitting on the counter while I made her breakfast. When I opened the fridge to get out the peanut butter and jelly, I said, “Woah, the fridge is stinky!”

Demi said, “brother poop in it?”

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One day later Demi and I were leaving the house for errands and when I opened the car door I realized the night before leftovers were inside. I said, “Woah, what’s that smell?”

Demi then said, “brother toot?”

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A few days ago I handed Demi a wipe and asked her if she would wipe off her mouth and hand.

She responded sternly with a slight smile, “No mommy, me no wipe my mouth and hands!”

Surprised, I said, “Excuse me, where did this attitude come from?”

She replied, “My mouth!”

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Last thoughts from Cam before falling asleep at bedtime:

Do rainbows only happen when there’s rain and sunshine at the same time?

Does this… [uses his finger to draw a question mark in the air]… mean a mystery?

It’s All in the Numbers

Let’s start off by saying I’m glad Cam can’t tell time yet. He also doesn’t seem to have an opinion on what is “a lot” or “little” so I still for now have the freedom of saying we had a lot of sweets when we had the right amount, or that we only have a little time before bed and I can pick whatever amount of time I want.

But, he is getting better at it. He’s better at counting, can recognize most numbers, write some of them, and has heard certain recurring times enough that he knows 8:00ish is time to get ready for bed and 9:00ish is too late.

One thing I really love is when he tries to say the biggest number he knows. It makes no sense and it’s great.

Here we are discussing how long Bugs Bunny takes to eat a carrot (an astute observation that he never finishes the carrot, if I might add):

If you look close enough you’ll see he’s struggling to focus on me at this close distance–which is what we’re trying to correct with his glasses.

Anyway, the conversation was cute and he cracks me up… and that’s all folks!

Popalops and Pinotails

I’m already rolling into Demi Says, Part 2! Why? Because Daddy-O and I each independently observed her language explosion over the last couple weeks and were discussing how surprised we were that she was communicating so well, and with improving sentence structure and vocabulary in general.

Now I know I already noted that she calls lollipops “popalops” but I hadn’t already noted that she calls ponytails “pinotails” (pronounced pee-no-tails). I decided if she ever has her own blog it should be called Popalops and Pinotails and she’d at least have one devoted reader. I wish she would call them popalops and pinotails forever.

Here’s a photo of Daddy-O’s best pinotails to date:

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Some others:

Yesterday, Demi had a fever the whole day. It rose and then we gave her medicine (“meh-sin”) and it came down again, all day and all night long. This morning as I was tip-toeing around the house getting ready for work and trying not to wake the recovering patient, she quietly walked into the kitchen and startled me with “Hi Mama!” to which I accidentally slipped out, “Sh*t!”

After I gained my composure and gave her a hug. I asked her how she was doing. She said “me all betta, no more feeber.” She definitely wasn’t 100%, but she was right that the fever broke and she must have felt better.

It made my mommy heart happy that she at least sort of understood the situation and her condition. I think it bodes well for minimizing the tantrum phase if she can process these kinds of concepts and give feedback that we understand and can respond to.

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Tonight, when I got on the road after work, I called the fam to check in. I can surprisingly have a back and forth with Demi which goes something like this:

D: Mama almost home?
Me: Almost, I’ll be home soon.
D: Where are you?
Me: On the freeway, I’ll be home in just a little bit.
D: All done working?
Me: Yes, all done working.
D: I love you.
Me: melty and swooning as much over her conversation as over her itty bitty little phone voice.

At that point, it was a little after 6 and Demi told Joe she was tired. I was bummed to hear this because that meant if she actually fell asleep that early, I wouldn’t get to see her.

When I got home at about 7, I tried to make a quiet entrance and she came running around the corner. I greeted her and said, “I thought you were going to bed, what happened?” She responded with, “I climb out of bed mama.”

Oh how I love how simple and matter of fact kids can be.

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Other words/phrases/sentences/commands she has tackled pretty successfully:

  • Garage door open mama
  • Me hungry now mama, breakfast
  • Like it! or Mila like it! or Me like it! or Mama like it!?
  • Careful mama
  • Demi self, Demi do it, Demi turn
  • Great Grandma Bernice gave her a Goldilocks and the 3 Bears book that had a little stuffed Goldilocks with it. The other day she pulled the book out and asked “Me Goldilocks?” to ask where her doll was. Seriously she said Goldilocks.
  • Daddy do brother laundry. All dirty. Jacket dirty.
  • Monkey gave it to me
  • Santa gave it to me
  • Raaaaaaining! Poooooouring!

I absolutely love listening to her talk, free-form, after we read books and turn off the lights. She often rambles about her day and says really cute sweet things that I just respond with “oh yeah?” and “very good” and “thank you for telling me” because they really are stream-of-consciousness with a bunch of nouns in a row like “Inny, Poppy, Larson, Baby Steely, brother funny,” and then she usually caps it off with a “me happy” or “I love you mama.”

Imagination

I posted a photo of Cam a little over a year ago where he’s running around in jammies, no pants and wielding a broom. It still makes me smile.

Here’s the 4 year old edition of that photo… Cam rigging up a vehicle out of a laundry basket, twine and found objects, and sitting next to his new favorite doll ‘Shine’. And of course (safety first!), he has a good strong helmet on.

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Who knows what this vehicle will do, but it is evidence of his growing imagination and his natural interest in tinkering. He gets an idea and there’s nothing anyone can do to stop him from doing it.