W&G: 4.5 Years Old

I haven't celebrated the boys' half birthday before, mostly because it falls deep into October when treats already abound. But this year I knew they'd understand half birthdays a little bit more so I wanted to do something fun. I decorated their room with a giant spider web (little spiders included) they've been asking to get for the front porch and added a bunch of balloons and a ghost for them to wake up to. It was so fun watching them on the camera. William woke up first and quickly woke up George to check it out. Next we made the Trader Joe's boxed pumpkin pancakes (really good) and added sprinkles of their choice to one pancake each and topped with fresh whipped cream. They were shy about it, but each told their teachers it was their half birthday. Their friend's mom told me her son mentioned the sprinkle pancakes with whipped cream so perhaps the class got a full report ;) That afternoon we made a pumpkin sheet cake and then cut it in half so they each got a 'half' to cut from for their half birthday. It was a fun day, though anytime I asked them to do something, they complained that they shouldn't have to on their birthday...

It definitely doesn't feel like 6 months have passed since their garbage party but I guess a lot has happened -- we celebrated Colette's big first birthday, they finished school and went to various summer camps, we went to Cincinnati and spent the end of summer in Napa. And here we are, already over 2 months into school. Looking back at their 4-year old post, I now see how much they've grown. Physically, they've both grown over an inch since their 4th birthday, at least by my growth chart measuring. Dave and I were just watching a video of them swimming in July in Cincinnati and they've made a lot of progress with that since then as well. Dave got to see them on the soccer field the other day at practice and was impressed with how engaged they were when other kids kept taking breaks, returning to their parents, etc. They're definitely on their way to being on an actual soccer team.

They've expressed interest in doing some new things too, like taking a dance class, gymnastics and baseball. We're still getting their schedule together for after Christmas, but we're thinking about dropping soccer for the session and adding Acrosports (gymnastics type class) and baseball. They still really like their art class at the DeYoung where they spend some time in the museum learning about art, and then they have time outdoors to do art along with the theme of the day. Here's the class blog.

EAT: It seems silly to update on these topics at this age but I'll give a brief update. I'm pretty happy with where they're at. G will go in waves where he'll be really interested in doing taste tests and I oblige. Sometimes he'll find something he likes, or thinks he likes, at least for a week, and then he reverts to not eating it anymore. Many times I feel like he tries things to please me, even though I'm not pushing him to do so, I think he knows I would love it if he did. Overall, we still struggle with veggies but he'll down smoothies Jessica makes packed with veggies so while I'd prefer to be making some progress in eating veggies in their true form, beggars can't be choosers. Ever the rule follower, he always gets mad if we put two fruits in his lunch instead of one and always refuses the second fruit (out of principle as for awhile we were telling him he had to have a -- as in singular -- fruit at lunch). W doesn't really drink milk, but otherwise eats a very balanced diet. Veggies aren't his thing either, but he's more likely to at least try them. In general, he'll taste my dinners and actually now that I think about it, G often modifies my dinner, as he's free to do, by wiping off sauce, scraping off veggies, etc. I'm fine with that as long as he's not asking us to do it. We did get take the boys out to dinner with us one Thursday a few weeks ago and they got all dressed up themselves for the special night out. They did pretty well, but definitely need more practice waiting patiently for the food and using manner when talking to the servers. They were so excited to go though!

William and Mom going out to dinner, W in his black shirt and red bow tie he wanted to wear to dinner, but we didn't have
SLEEP: Some nights are harder than other to get them down, but I'd say they sleep 10-11 hours a night on average (falling asleep by 8:30, waking up around 6:30, though there have been plenty of mornings they sleep in past 7). Sun/moon clock is still a top purchase and they always wait to come upstairs until sun comes up. They have quiet time every day and G naps maybe 2-3 times per month, W slightly more, though it's becoming rarer for him as well.

PLAY: William is so into art and is really talented. G is also really into art but probably doesn't spend as much time doing it. He's more into creating, using tape and glue and William loves to draw. It was so fun to see their recent self-portraits, I couldn't believe all the detail they both included! Riding bikes is still a top activity and we try to spend time doing it on weekends as they don't get much, if any, time during the week to ride around, especially now that it's getting dark earlier. Building is the other consistent activity when playing inside, whether building forts with pillows or castles and other structures with wood blocks, Duplos or magnatiles. We've just started letting them get into some of the small legos and they really like those too, but that's a bit harder to manage. I recently went through their book drawers and realized that while they still like them, most of them can be given to, or saved for, Colette. The boys have so many books that it was a relief to move them but now I'm struggling with having a ridiculous amount of books for one kid, but getting rid of books is so hard! Once they start reading on their own, they may want to come back to these, right? We participate in Book Tree at their school, which sends 10 curated books each month for us to borrow and then return for a new set. We've read some really great books that we wouldn't have come across otherwise. George is really into Berenstain Bear books right now and though we get tired of reading them, I loved those growing up so I usually don't mind.

William's drawing for Santa

Turkeys! W on top, G on bottom

G's recycling creation

POTTY: G continued to struggle with having accidents and we were trying to pinpoint the problem. Reminders were backfiring -- he didn't want to be asked and would always say no. He'd get really mad when asked and often still have an accident later. We did a urine sample to make sure there was nothing off that was causing accidents and it came back clear. We knew that sometimes he just didn't want to stop what he was doing, and he'd tell us that much, but by 4.5 years old, we were definitely having concerns. Finally in August, I proposed a 'potty chart', basically a countdown calendar of 30 days and when he got to the final day, he'd get to go to the dollar store Daiso and pick out one thing. We knew G would be motivated by this, but we still weren't sure if he would physically be able to do it. We had never done a reward chart before. The trick to this one, was if he had an accident, we'd throw the chart away and he'd start a new one the next day. So he had to go 30 consecutive days without an accident. I had my doubts, but if this didn't work, we would have to seek professional advice beyond the pediatrician. We went through several charts, as I mentioned, we started the chart before we went to Napa in mid-August and G finally finished a 30-day chart on Oct 24, or so I thought. I was so happy as we got to the final day of the potty chart with no accidents. I picked the boys up at art camp so I could take them over to Daiso and in the car ride between the two, I asked G casually, 'any accidents at art?'. He said shyly, 'yes Mom'. I didn't really believe him so kept driving to Daiso and when I went to unbuckle him, I felt wet pants. He told me he had been playing in the water. It was a super hot day and apparently they had been running through the mister. Well, the pants felt wetter than from a mister, and William confirmed they had been playing around water so I didn't know what to do. I hoped it was just a fluke and decided to let him get the prize. After much looking (since they no longer had the sword W had gotten the previous month), he picked out some candy and in the car home, I asked him again, and told him he could keep his prize but did he really have an accident? And he said yes. I didn't let on, but I was so disappointed and so bummed. I really felt like Dave and I had gotten over this hurdle with G and to go this long only to see it hadn't really been fixed, was not fun. Even worse, G had a handful of accidents over the next 10 days. We didn't know what to do. I didn't know if he was lazy or if now that he had gotten his prize, he was over it. Finally I talked to him specifically about it and it came out that he wanted that sword. I told him I'd order a sword on Amazon but since it was a potty prize, he couldn't keep it if he had an accident. It took that sword almost a week to arrive, but he hasn't had an accident since that talk several weeks ago (and has mostly forgotten about the sword anyway). And even more impressive, a week ago Saturday, G decided he didn't want to wear pull ups to bed anymore. Again, I had my doubts, he was often wet in the morning, though since I started taking him to the bathroom before I went to bed a few months ago, it definitely had made a difference. Anyway, I know it will happen sooner or later, but he's gone over a week straight waking up dry and no pull up. I can't believe it! So proud of him!

Current challenges: With the potty issue hopefully behind us, we moved on to working on a few other things. We really want them to do a better job saying hello to people, looking people, including adults, in the eye when they're talking, shaking hands, etc. We also got a chore chart so it's very clear what they're responsible for each day. We're making some progress on this, but as with everything, consistency is key.

William: He's been a bit of instigator lately and is always pushing G's buttons. At times they're playing together and G starts whining or tattletales but that just encourages W more. Though Dave doesn't get any, I'm having a lot of attitude from him, as is Jessica. A lot of 'you're the baddest mom' or 'you can't be our mom anymore' or 'I'm gonna get a stick and hit you'. I'm sort of stumped on how to deal with this. Obviously it's not okay so I've tried to tell him and he needs to focus on saying his feelings 'I'm mad at you', 'I don't like that you're saying that', etc., instead of saying words that can hurt someone (as he will say 'baddest George' etc. too). I read somewhere that correcting them and saying, 'I think what you meant to say was xxxx' in a calm voice can help, and I did try that once and it did, he agreed and it didn't escalate. When I'm tired or have a short fuse, I don't have the patience for that unfortunately and go into yelling mode that he can't talk to me like that. The other thing we've talked about trying is that I'm just going to calmly say 'attitude' when he starts having one as a reminder for him to change his tone and words and see if that will nip it in the bud.

George: He's been continuing to have some major tantrums since the beginning of the school year, but thankfully, they are fewer and farther between now. Sometimes he's able to handle situations surprisingly well that I was sure would be a complete freak out (giving something to W only for example), and then other times he just can't do it. It was interesting talking to his teacher at parent teacher conferences last week as she said first of all, he never has those tantrums at school, but she can physically see him trying to contain all his energy for activities like circle time, and once he gets to the roof for outdoor play, all that energy is released. It did give us a different perspective that if he's trying so hard to keep it all in check at school, that it should be okay to release once in a while at home. Of course it's frustrating to deal with, but it does help if it's not quite so often. She also recommended lots of after school physical activity, which they do a lot of, but I think even more can be built in for G.

Another theme that's come up at their conferences is their need for time apart. William in particular has been asking at school when he'll be able to have time alone. They're in separate classes and though they are sometimes in the same area doing the same activity, they're apparently often not next to each other or engaging. The roof seems to be the time they're together most. We try to keep them separate at quiet time for an hour a day and lately I've been trying to do 'special time', even if just 10 minutes per kid, where I am alone with one of them to do an activity of their choosing (usually hide and seek). We're also planning one-on-one play dates where we have someone come to our house to play with one of them, but the other goes to someone else's house at the same time.

Bottom line, even with Jessica's help, I'm finding that the majority of my time is still being spent with at least one kid. I feel like up until the point C was born, we weren't doing much splitting them up, so it does feel like I'm being stretched exponentially now with trying to give each what they need, including some alone time with just one. I really don't know how other people with more kids do it!

Kindergarten prep: Dave and I are in the thick of tours and open houses and all applications are due within the next month (ahh!). It's definitely a time-consuming process but it's cool to see all the wonderful schools there are to choose from -- er, try to get into. The boys' progress reports showed William to be on track for everything. George is doing great as well, though his fine motor skills are still emerging in some areas. We thought he was going to be a lefty since he favored that hand, even with an awkward grip but one day I saw him use his right hand and his grip is so much better! I'm trying to remind him to use that hand now. I think we're beginning to narrow down our list of schools, or at least get them in priority order. Luckily, I think there are several schools that would be an excellent fit for both of them and are focused on values that are important to Dave and I, so we'll see how things turn out in March.

weight: 35.5lb (34lbs 6 months ago)
height: 40.5 inches (39.25 inches 6 months ago)
shoe size: 9.5
clothes: Solidly in 4T

weight: 44lbs (43lbs 6 months ago)
height: 44.5 inches (42.75 inches 6 months ago)
shoe size: 11
clothes:  Solidly in 5T, a few 6s

To my boys... I end up putting off these posts as it's getting harder and harder to sit down and capture everything I want to. I'm not good at noting down the funny things you say or do anymore, just not enough time. I feel like I'm heading into the unknown with so much at this stage. So much unknown with the kindergarten process, but also with the new phases you guys are entering. The attitude, the 2-year old style tantrums but from a 45lb 4-year old who's a lot harder to carry out of the store, the twin dynamic of you both needing your own time and space, yet it being so difficult to find the best way to do that. Dad and I are talking about all of this and trying to figure out the best approaches but our new 'special time' of 10-minutes one-on-one has been a big hit and is fun for me too. Although I know we're in for plenty more bickering over the years, I hope that by splitting you up in school next year, in separate rooms, with different classmates and teachers, that that will be huge for you as an individual and bring you closer as brothers when you are together.

First, a few stories I've noted down:
  • George found a penny and asked Dedee to give to it to Daddy to put in his wallet so he could buy something in Cincinnati. After much discussion about Dedee giving both W and G three coins, G comes out after 10 minutes and says, "actually, you can keep the coins. I want the long flat paper with the big numbers." 
  • I can't remember the context now (and really can't imagine a situation he would get this in his own words) but William said he didn't want to get a show-ache.
  • Colette discovered the boys’ penises in the bathtub which the boys thought was hilarious and wanted to see her vagina, but I told them that she didn’t need to show them and they’re not allowed to touch etc. So the next day I was changing in front of them at JCC and W says, ‘oh, that’s a vagina!’
  • George was kicking Jessica’s new car seats and wouldn’t stop and he said, ‘your car isn’t as expensive as Mom’s’ (I'm horrified by this and can't imagine how he came up with it). I had a long talk with him about how people have different cars, or different things, and it doesn’t matter etc., etc. The next morning he saw the neighbors pull out and it was cold so he saw the exhaust and made a comment about them having a gas car. I reminded him that no one cares whether it’s gas or electric and he said, ‘the earth cares’. Touché! 
  • You both love for me to give you a rub or a scratch at bedtime, and sing 'hush little baby'. I don't do it every night, but lately, I've been going through each of your Christmas lists to fill in the 'Mama's gonna buy you...'. You both love it.

William, Ms. Amy wasn't as detailed in her comments on your progress report but says you 'demonstrate self-confidence', regulate your emotions, ask insightful questions and that you're very sweet and caring. You love to draw and are 'advanced' per your progress report and it's really cool to see the progression of skills. You're very detail-oriented when it comes to your art and want it just so. You like to have me pull photos up on my phone for you to copy and often want Jessica or I to draw something for you, which we hesitate to do, partly because we're not great artists, but also because we'd rather you use your imagination and do it how you're thinking. You're not usually the first to speak up when we're talking about letters with you and George, but you surprised me when we were playing a game on the drawing board where we said a letter, number or shape and you tried to draw it, you really knew so many already! And not just knew them, but could actually write them. You have excellent fine motor skills and your writing is very clear. You love the villain in any story and your play often centers around being that character. You've come up with several Halloween costume ideas for the family so far -- you as the Wicked Witch and the rest of the us as the rest of the Wizard of Oz, you as Scar and the rest of us as hyenas in Lion King (well, Colette would get to be Nala apparently, lucky her), and the latest, Darth Vader as you just learned about that character. Though shows aren't really my thing, I can see and appreciate your love for fantasy, the story and the characters that you share with Dad. You get sucked in and will be the perfect movie partner for Dad in a few more years. I can't wait to take you to see the Lion King show, I hope G will make it through but I know you'll just love it and it will be so much fun to add a new activity we can do together with you guys. I'm trying to figure you out right now as you talk about wanting time away from George but then can't stay away from him and push his buttons at every opportunity possible. You've been playing with other kids, which is great, but one day at chapel, you wouldn't hold George's hand and he was heartbroken, apparently had to be taken out of the room to calm down. It's a new situation to navigate for all of us as we certainly want each of you to develop strong friendships outside of each other. One last story I have to include - you rarely have epic meltdowns, but a few weeks ago you would not stop crying, all because you wanted to have your birthday every day, so you could become an adult quicker... so you could be a construction worker right now. Finally, after multiple attempts, I told you that adults can't go trick-or-treating and get candy and that was enough to convince you that you actually didn't want to be an adult yet :) William, despite your recent attitude, you are still such a sweet, cuddly boy. You love to get close when reading books and crawl on my lap in the mornings when I have a million things to do. You like nothing more than a nice scratch on your tummy or back and will generally tell me exactly how fast to scratch, what area to cover and which song I should sing to accompany it. You amaze me each day with the things you're able to do, and more specifically, draw. It's so much fun to see you grow. I love you so much!

George, Ms. Linnea described you as a 'good student' and she meant it in the sense that you really do act like a student already. You come in ready to learn, are always the first to sign your name on the sign in sheet, you love helping in any way you can. In your progress report, there were multiple references to you being more of a doer and less about relating to others ('though he does so well') and that you sometimes need reminders to be the 'boss of your own body', especially on the roof. We were told that you'll always finish what you're working on and are quite persistent. You love the routines that are all detailed out and will be the first to remind Ms. Linnea when she forgets something. You are 'incredibly self-motivated' and are 'a leader and gets things done'. You're described as 'strong, but gentle' and 'a logical thinker'. You have classic boy energy and need plenty of opportunities to get that out, though you are able to focus for projects for long periods of time as well. Beyond school, lately you've been very interested in homeless people, or as you call them, 'people who live by the streetlights'. While W has gotten caught up in his Christmas list, I've tried to offset that by plenty of talk about Christmas being a great excuse to do things for other people. Throughout the day you're coming up with ideas about things you can do for people who live by the streetlights. Some recent suggestions include giving them your now unnecessary pull-ups since they don't have a bathroom, giving them a chair and ideally a folding chair, so they can sit during the day. Ms. Linnea also told us that after one of the teachers shared about Project Night Night where you donate a new blanket and stuffed animal, Lyle in your class burst out in tears because she thought she had to give her favorite stuffed animal away. The sharks class gathered around and reassured her she wouldn't have to, but the first person who spoke was you, and you said, 'Well I have so many stuffed animals at home, surely I could spare one for someone who needs it'. Thankfully it was well-received and got everyone thinking. You're so strong and now can go across the monkey bars on your own, awesome! Dad also recently reminded me of a conversation he had with you where he asked you if it's more important to be fair, or to be kind, and you said fair. You're very into doing what's fair and I'm not sure if it's due to the twin thing, or just who you are. I have to finish by saying you're the sweetest boy, lately after I asked you and William why you only tell Coco how much you love her and never me, you now tell me randomly throughout the day 'I love you Mom'. You're my best little helper, almost always willing and say 'sure Mom'. And your love for Colette is pretty awesome to witness too. The best is seeing her run to you both when you get home and give you both a good hug. I love you so much George and it's so fun to see the big boy you're becoming! Next stop... 5!

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