A Note to My Boys Before Starting Kindergarten, Age 5

First annual photo in these shirts... will they fit when they graduate in 2027?
George, I'm so excited for you to start at Town School. Dad and I knew it was the best place for you and while you would've done just fine at any of the many great schools in the city, we felt like all your energy would be best converted into learning at Town. You are so smart, ask excellent questions and always ask for clarification when you still don't understand something. You really want to understand how everything works, like your latest questions about how wheels turn on a car... no, not how they physically turn but what in the car causes the wheels to be able to go. Some of your questions are already leading me to google, or defaulting to Dad who seems to know how everything works! I can't wait for you to learn more about letters and start to read. You have a good understanding of sounds already so I'm hoping it will come easily to you. You already love solving math questions Dad and I pose and expect you to do well in that area too. I know you'd prefer to have William in your class but I also know you're prepared to do this on your own. You weren't thrilled when you were in different groups at Tree Frog Treks and even though it wasn't your preference, I was proud that you moved forward and after telling me you didn't want to stay, you did, and didn't ask (or maybe didn't know it could be an option) to be moved to William's group. I expect you to grow so much by not always having William by your side. I know it will be a bit of a challenge, and trust me, I can identify. It's hard to put yourself out there when it comes to meeting new friends but I really hope not having an automatic buddy with you all the time will force you to do it. You'll be with these boys for the next nine years. I'm in the same boat with the parents and plan to try my best too so I'll be right there with you. I hope your time at Town, starting with Kindergarten, gives you strong relationships with both friends and teachers, an education that is challenging and fun, but most importantly, reinforces what Dad and I are trying to teach you -- being a kind and good person is most important, try your hardest and don't be afraid to fail, and especially since you have a twin brother, try not to be too competitive. You and William have different strengths and probably always will. Just because he's good (or better) at something shouldn't prevent you from trying to improve or to do your best. Things won't always be fair, but focus on being the best person YOU can be. You've always been my great helper and I hope you continue to think of others, help out your teacher when they need it and be a friend to anyone who needs one. I feel so lucky to have had so much time with you these last 5 years and though there are moments I'm ready for a break, it's still hard to let you go and start this great next phase. You're ready, I can't wait to see what your kindergarten year brings!

William, I'm so excited for you to start your first year at Town School. You are blessed with Dad's social skills and make friends easily so expect you to find your niche very quickly. Though I think many would assume that George depends more on you than the other way around, you definitely get a sense of security from having your brother there with you. I remember your holiday performance your first year of preschool at Christmastime. You were 3.5 years old and you clung tightly to George even though I'd consider you more of the natural performer. I think having George there with you sometimes makes you more dependent than you really are. There were times last year at school when you wanted space from George, which definitely hurt his feelings, but was also understandable. I'm really hoping that by being in separate classes this year, you'll both grow in ways that just couldn't happen if you were together. It makes me so happy to see you be able to join in with other kids so confidently, something that doesn't come easily to me. You'll be with this group of kids for 9 years so I really hope you build some wonderful friendships that will last beyond your years at Town. You would've done well at many different types of schools -- private, public, co-ed, single-sex, etc. You're so easy going, you can sit still and focus much longer than most boys I've seen and get along well with everyone. Your fine motor is excellent and your water color painting from theater camp last week had all the teachers raving to Jessica at pickup. You are so passionate about music and stories and I hope you're able to get over any minor stage fright to be a part of performances as I think you'd absolutely love your time on stage. You had so much personality during your theater camp performance. I love all the different activities Town offers and hope you'll explore many of them. You're so fast, George tells me you're 'good at sprinting'. I know you would love to be taller and I pray that being one of the smallest boys (at least for now) doesn't hurt your self-esteem but I hope you can avoid too many comparisons and instead focus on your strengths and remember that bigger doesn't mean better... you can often catch boys several years older. I expect you to do well in the classroom, you're a good listener, can sit at circle time and contribute to class discussions. I hope having some space from George will lead you to participate even more -- George tends to ask so many questions and always jumps to be the first to answer that sometimes I feel like you don't even get a chance to think about the answer before he says it. You may be a bit more like me in that... I like to think about things for a moment and it takes me a minute to process. Know that you will have different strengths and challenges than George, and that's okay. You'll also likely have different interests and I hope you try anything that appeals to you, whether or not George will be doing it with you. You are so imaginative, artistic and talented but you also get frustrated when things don't turn out how you've pictured in your head. I hope you can work through that and know that growth and learning comes from the failures and not the successes. Many things come easily to you, but not everything will. As I told George, being a kind and good person is at the top of God's list so always keep that in mind. Be a friend to someone who looks lonely, help anyone who needs it and speak up when things aren't right. It makes me sad to think this is the beginning of having you at away from me longer than you're at home during the day, but I know you'll do great. I am so lucky to have gotten as much time with you as I have and look forward to hearing all your stories after school each day. Kindergarten, here you come!

Last Week of Summer

The boys have their orientation tomorrow morning and then a class picnic and Wednesday is their first day of school. We've had just over a week without camps and of course I wanted to plan some fun adventures before I lose them to school.

Last week Dave was in Taiwan and it was Jessica's last week, thankfully, so while it was a busy and exhausting week, I'm glad I had the help.

My mom had been in Denver for several weeks, and then my dad took over for her to help my brother once she got back. We were so excited to see her and she stayed with Coco on Monday while I took the boys to Alcatraz. I've been wanting to take them but I'm glad I waited until they were 5. We had a great time! The boys loved the quick ferry ride and liked exploring the island and prison. George was very interested in the history and he and I spent a little time the day before reading the history. Both boys liked the audio tour and I was surprised we spent a good two hours on the island. We decided to head to Coit Tower, which we've been to once before, but it was a bit more crowded this time which I should have expected for summer, so we didn't stay long. Then it was a stop for pizza slices at Tony's and ice cream at Swensens. The boys were in heaven! Coco was in heaven having Dedee all to herself at home.

On Tuesday, I took all three down to Curioddessy in San Mateo. I had taken the boys at the beginning of summer but Coco wasn't with us. Coco was a bit difficult that day, I had to intervene plenty of times, but we still had fun.

On Wednesday, we headed to the east bay and my mom met us at the Chabot Space Center, another new place for us. There was plenty for the boys to do and I'm sure we'll go back but it wasn't as big of a hit as some of the others we've been to. We did get to stop by a nearby park that we had been to with Ashely several years ago and the boys had a blast exploring that before heading home.

Thursday we went to the Children's Creativity Museum and played at the playground there before my mom met us. There's so many fun activities there for all ages so everyone had a blast. The boys even made some music videos though I think they need more a bit more practice :) That night, Jessica stayed home with Coco while I took the boys out to dinner. We've been working on their manner's (George's in particular at the dinner table) and they both did really well with ordering, sitting nicely and eaten the southern food feast.

Vehicles we colored and scanned to the screen!

On Friday, I took everyone for donuts at a place we'd driven by multiple times and then we headed over to the new Civic Center Park in front of city hall. They've done a job cleaning it up and the kids had a lot of fun. We also checked out the Main Library, which I've never been in (there are multiple other branches closer to us). It was huge and they had a great children's section. They even have a vending machine of kids books that you can take home and keep. Really fun for the kids to pick them out and push the buttons.

Today was our last day for adventures before school starts so after our Trader Joe's run, we headed down to Chinatown to the fortune cookie factory. It's crazy to see the old school machine with a pancake-like batter that's poured in and pressed down and then each cook is folded by hand after the fortune is put in. We got some samples and then took a box to go.

Then we drove what was maybe a mile to the new Salesforce Park which is build onto of the new transit center. It just opened a few weeks ago so we definitely wanted to check it out but driving there during the week isn't ideal as it's right in the thick of all the office buildings which means no good parking options nearby and just a lot of traffic in general. We parked on the Embarcadero and walked from there. The park is great, reminds me of the High Line in New York. They did a great job. There's a big game cart where you can just take a game and sit down at one of many tables. There's a foosball table and a big connect-4. In another area there's a book cart for adult books and another for kids' books plus coloring sheets and crayons. Coco enjoyed reading books with me there. None of them were too into the actual playground, which is mostly just a big net-climbing area but the boys said they definitely wanted to come back.

We picked up American Grilled Cheese sandwiches and ate them on the drive across town for their first soccer practice. The boys asked me to take photos of them and send them to Dave. They were so proud of their new shorts and soccer cleats. They actually did really well at soccer too!

Coco played by herself for an hour trying these on and trying to hang them on the tree

It's been a fun week and I'm excited for them to start school. Not sure they're particularly excited since they'll be split up and I know they'll do great.

Coco is 27 Months

We're in the last week of summer before the back-to-school activities and first day of school come for the boys next week. We've been home for most of the last month and unfortunately we weren't greeted with sunny days but instead the typical foggy San Francisco summer. It's been pretty depressing, but we've made the most of it.

Coco completed another 3-week Tue/Thu summer camp session at Stretch and had a great time. We had no issues with drop-off, she seemed really comfortable with the routine and it was so fun to hear about her talk about 'going to school at Stretch.' She did pretty well with her potty at school, which sort of surprised me, but I guess with other kids going, and frequent teacher reminders, maybe it was easier than being at home and distracted during play. She did come home in her spare clothes most days, but due to playing with the water table. She got so used to the routine, that on the last day, the teacher told me she saw a kid pour water on himself, so did the same and then said, 'I have to change now!', smiling. She has no problem with outfit changes :)

Sleep and eating has remained the same. I'm actually really happy with the variety and volume she continues to eat and think back to the rough early days trying to get her to eat, wondering if a feeding tube and being intubated for so long would affect her relationship with food longterm. So far she hasn't slowed down at all. Sleeping is generally okay, though she is taking longer to fall asleep at night. She probably needs a slightly later bedtime, but she does well in her crib until falling asleep, at least most nights, so we'll stick to the routine for now. Naps have been great some days, and non-exisistant other days but I'll attempt naps for as long as I can.

Overall, she continues to surprise us each day with the things she can say and do. She really seems like such a big girl. A few days ago we were at the park and she was able to climb up this big spider-web that I really didn't expect her to be able to do. Her language has exploded even further and I feel like she can say pretty much everything. Sometimes it's the phrases that surprise me, but other times it's single words like 'either' used correctly that make me pause. There are so many I have thought, 'I need to write that down', but here are a few I actually did:
'I still oosing (using) that'
'That will be so good for her' or 'that will be good for me'.
'See you later, I'll be right back' when she headed inside to get her tools.
She told me I was hiding her cup, then said, 'I'm teasing Mama!'
When I finally got her out of bed one day after she didn't nap, she wags her finger at me and say, 'I not sleeping'.
'She so happy!' is what she says anytime her princess underwear stays dry, and therefore her princess is still happy.
When she was trying to put my shoes on and I told her they were too small, 'no, they're perfect!'
When I ask her to do something she's fully capable of doing, like 'can you bring your cup over?', sometimes she'll say, 'I can't. I can't'.
'What dis?' 'What dat?'

There has been so much imaginative play surrounding potty training. I overhear her at her dollhouse talking about the dolls having to go potty, sitting on the potty, etc. But her favorite thing is to get all her favorite stuffed animals and have them wear a pull-up and then underwear over. We seriously have like 6 pairs of underwear all over the upstairs every day because she's playing with it all day. I hear her say, 'Mickey have to go potty! Still dry! Yay Mickey!'. She sits her friends on the little potty and says 'tinkle toot toot' and then gets their underwear back on. It turns bedtime and nap time into a whole thing because everyone needs to be appropriately dressed in the pull-up and underwear combo. That may be part of the nap issue too, she can sit in her bed chatting to her stuffed animal friends for well over an hour. I just went in now and saw this, with them all lined up and she told me they were on the carousel. She did finally fall asleep.

Her potty is progressing well. She's definitely out of diapers and there's no going back. She does pretty well with pee and will go when we're out and I ask her, most of the time, and will mostly hold it at home and then go when she needs to. But there are definitely still accidents here and there. It's only been wet underwear at its worst, I've never needed to change her clothes. Poop has continued to cause some issues, though I do think it's getting a little better. She held her poop even in diapers and we've continued those troubles where I see her standing there with her bum clenched and tell her to go potty and she runs over squawking, sits down and lets a little out, though usually it's whatever she has let out and is sitting in her bum that then falls out into the potty. Finally this week we were successful with some bigger poops in the potty instead of tiny ones multiple times a day. Then last night she had diarrhea which I think has actually helped things as she told me beforehand both time and was able to make it to the potty the last few times. I'm hoping that's a blessing in disguise and clearing out her system a bit so she's not backed up and will get us on a better track. She's good about having prunes each day and I've been giving her prune juice and occasionally a prune pouch too. She also has a kids probiotic which I think is making a difference too so when she does go now, it is a better consistency which will hopefully break the cycle of it being painful for her to go. Well, I guess that doesn't sound great, but really, overall we can go out, I have her go when we get somewhere and every 45 mins or so but for the most part she hasn't told me when she has to go when we're out (or maybe I haven't given her enough time?). At home we continue to do bottoms free so she just runs around with a shirt on and it does make it easy for her to go on her own at home. I usually hear a squawk and tell her to go sit on the potty and she will, and goes. Occasionally she goes over and goes on her own without announcing it frantically. But even when she does do the squawk, she is still holding it and making it to the potty so I'm fine with it.

the night she took her diaper off

Coco: You keep growing so much and just seem like a bigger girl in what you can do each and every day. With the boys starting Kindergarten in a week, I am so grateful I still have you with me (but already don't know what I'll do when I'm saying goodbye to you at K!). While I've had moments of regret that I didn't try to get you in a 2-year old preschool program since you did so well at Stretch, I am so glad I have this year with you. We'll do our classes and have a good schedule for the week and I know you'll get plenty of enrichment, but again, with the boys starting longer days soon, it does make me want to take advantage of every moment I have with each of you before the time at home gets shorter and shorter. It really is different with 'just one' and I've enjoyed the freedom we have that I didn't have with your brothers. I think you will be so ready for school a year from now but you'll be totally fine home with me for another year. I really have so much fun with you, you make me laugh and bring so much joy to me, as well as to our family. Next month's update will be fun as you will have started all your fall classes; I'm especially excited for you to start private swim lessons at the end of the month!