Coco is 28 Months

Wow, it seems like so much has happened in the last month, not specifically with Colette, but just lots of changes in general. It's been nice to get into a new routine since the boys started school at the end of August and now Coco has started all her fall classes as well. Jessica moved on to a new family a month ago so there have been adjustments with that as well. Overall, things are going well with everyone and we're settling in.

The boys are in school 8:15-2:15 every day and Coco comes with me to drop them off each day. We walk them into their classrooms and she loves to shake the Head of School's hand each day, just like the boys are required to. Then we're off to do our adventures, and we're lucky, many days one of my parents is here so that Coco can still take her nap at 1pm and doesn't have to be woken up to go get the boys. Here's our current schedule:

Mon: Outdoor class in the Presidio, Dedee usually comes from 11-4 so that I can either work out, or do lunch duty at the boys school, then drive soccer carpool and stay for their practice while she stays with C who is hopefully napping.

Tue: MyGym, my dad is here 12-3, longer if we need, so that I can go for a swim and pick up the boys.

Wed: Outdoor class at various places in the city, this day I usually let C stay up and then we pick up the boys together and go to the park for a bit after school.

Thu: Swim class downtown, which we usually combine with a visit to the Exploratorium or Ferry Building and playground. I swim while Coco has her lesson so I get my workout in. Dedee comes at 2 so I can pick up the boys and do any appointments I need to. If she can stay over, Dave and I go out to dinner.

Fri: Drop-off art class. On nights Dedee stays over, she'll take C to art class and drop her off while I do a pilates class. Then she'll pick her up and stay with her until I pick up the boys if I have volunteering at their school.

It's still a ton of driving for my parents but we've worked out a schedule that covers just about all of my needs so that I'm able to do lots of stuff at the boys' school, take care of all my personal appointments and get a few work outs in. When one of them is out of town, I may have more days on my own, but it's been really nice to have a set schedule so I know when I can volunteer, but also my parent's flexibility that if we end up with something on a Wednesday, they can swap days. We no longer use my parents on the weekends, unless we have something special that we need them for, so it's definitely more on Dave as well, but they are all getting bigger and the boys still do a quiet time, so usually we both get a break for an hour or two while everyone is resting. We still like to do things together as a family, but the boys have started having soccer games on Saturday afternoons and it's been so nice for me to stay with C while she naps and rest myself, or get a few things done before Dave gets back with the boys.

I figured we'd need to get a few local babysitters and surprisingly we haven't needed to yet. So far the month has been fairly slow as far as meetings and other nights out, but starting this week and for many in the future, there are multiple 'nights out' for either Dave and I. I'm fine getting everyone through the dinner/bath/bedtime routine on my own and luckily a lot of nights I don't need to head out until 6:30 or 7 which makes it easier for Dave to finish bedtime on his own. It's still a lot for everyone -- Jessica did a ton of stuff beyond watching the kids, so I'm working out the best ways to get all that maintained, and it was so nice to have her flexibility to stay late pretty much whenever we needed. With that said, it's been nice to have the time just with our family. While there's plenty of push back, we're asking the boys to do more and more for themselves, all of which I feel is age appropriate and is definitely beneficial in the long run. They're getting used to cleaning up more after themselves, putting away their laundry, setting and clearing the table, and bringing in their backpacks. I've tried to include Coco as well and she has to clean up her toys each night and help set the table.

So far things are going pretty well, and while there are many days I'm pretty tired by 8pm, I've really tried to use the last month to just focus on the kids and what they need. I read a bunch of different parenting books over the past month and while it's certainly a work in progress and some days are better than others, there are main areas I'm trying to work on -- pausing before I get involved which is helpful to just take a moment to think about my response before I just yell, or decide if I should even be getting involved or encourage them to work it out themselves, listening and empathizing instead of just pushing my agenda. The boys especially have been challenging in the past week or so when I feel like all the changes and longer day at school finally hit them and they're grouchy and often rude at certain points, but I know they're tired so I really do try to take a different approach. Unfortunately if it's already been a long day without a break, that's certainly harder to do so as I said, a work in progress.

But overall, we're on the right track and I've really enjoyed my time with Coco in the mornings and I'm glad I didn't give that up for her to start preschool early. She loves her time with Dedee and Papa too, as do they, so I think it's a win-win for everyone.

EAT: Luckily we're still going strong. She's now decided she doesn't like fruit in her oatmeal or cereal but will eat it on the side so I'll go with that. She pretty much eat anything if it's someone else's... Still loves fish and any meat and will at least taste veggies though doesn't particularly like them. I've decided I need to start taking her on sushi dates -- we never introduced the boys since W is allergic to fish and now I don't think G would even try it, even though he does love (cooked) salmon. We'll see what she thinks.

SLEEP: A few weeks ago, we thought she was giving up her nap. Currently we're in a good routine that she gets about 5 naps a week (and I keep her up on the days I don't have someone to stay with her while I get the boys). This seems to be a good balance as she's tired enough on those days to nap, though she does take a lot longer to go to sleep at night so we're definitely in that in between that if we dropped the nap, we'd certainly have quicker bedtimes. Right now she's napping 1.5, but often 2 hours and then will lay in her bed for an hour talking and playing (and often requiring us to check on her). If she doesn't nap, she's asleep shortly after we put her in bed at 7. She has been waking up randomly during the night sometimes, either needing water, or telling us she's having a party with her friends, so who knows. I think what was affecting her naps a few weeks ago was that she had to poop and was waiting until 20 minutes or so into nap time, and then wouldn't fall asleep after.

PLAY: I feel like she's exploded in this area. She's loving all of her classes, talking to everyone and even actually playing with kids, not just parallel play. She met a friend, Zoe, at her Wed outdoor class a few weeks ago and they've totally hit it off. They play so well with each other, coming up with games pretending rocks are eggs and they're cooking. It's so cool to see her in this way, really interacting with other kids, new kids. I feel like she doesn't really have a 'crew' anymore. We had a little group last year but several have moved out of the city, one started preschool, etc, so even if we don't see these kids beyond the class, I think it's great exposure for her.

Coco loves imaginative play and can go on forever playing with her dollhouse, making sure everyone has gone potty, taking a bath and gotten their dress on for the ball. I love taking videos of this, capturing her vocabulary and imagination at this stage. She also loves setting up tea parties, or other parties with all her stuffed animals and dolls. She's really into costumes and dressing up, and often that involves dressing up her animals in costumes as well. She's not doing as much potty play this month, but there has been plenty of 'getting ready for the ball'. She plays so well independently which I think has also helped with the transition of not having so much help. I'm able to make dinner or take care of a few things while she happily does her thing.

While she is independent, there's certain things she loves for us to do for her. We always have to blow on her food and she still loves to have me feed her (I only oblige occasionally). Ideally she'd be sitting on Daddy's lap during dinner but since potty training and her poop situation where her butt never seems to be fully clean, we've had to cut that off completely.

I took out the stash of Halloween books we have a few weeks ago and they have been such a hit! Coco loves everything about Halloween right now and we have to read the Halloween books over and over again. She wants to be a witch and dresses up in a hand-me-down size 4T witches costume we have. I'm debating what to do as I like this costume better than anything available on Amazon but it's clearly too big and dragging on the bottom so I'll have to see if I can pin. She loves pretending to be a witch with various different things. We have some sticks my mom got for the boys years ago for 'levers' on their diggers and now they've become broomsticks. I even saw her pick up William's belt the other day to use as her broomstick. She loves talking about werewolves, ghosts and anything else Halloween.

Those activities take up about 95% of her time. Occasionally she'll play with duplos, color (she's getting much better!), do puzzles or various other games we have around. There are some toys the boys are outgrowing that Dave and I have debated getting rid of, and put out to see if C is interested in (trains, paw patrol stuff) and she really isn't.

She also is making great connections. I hear telling her dollhouse friends to go on the balance beam, just like we did at outdoor class (on fallen trees). She also recognizes feelings and will comment if someone is crying, but also when she's doing imaginative play - 'he's so sad that his castle breaked' (doesn't quite have all the tenses yet).

Entertained herself for an hour during the boys' practice with these 

TALK: Coco is very opinionated (what two-year old isn't??) but she understands so much and her vocabulary continues to grow which does really help manage tough situations. We're at the point now where I feel like she can tell us anything she needs to. She still has trouble with 'z', 'ch' and 'sh' sounds but overall, at least to those who are around little kids, is pretty understandable. She loves to talk and whether it's playing with her dollhouse or walking around, she's constantly narrating everything she's doing or whatever she sees. 'Mama puts on her jacket', she even will tell me she's going to get something from her room and 'I'll be right back'. She replies with 'I got it' and 'see you later' as well. She uses words like 'actually' and tells me about stuff from 'yesterday' (which is still basically anything in the past).

POTTY: Honestly, I was hoping for more progress by now, though I realized yesterday that it's only been two months since we cut out diaper so maybe I shouldn't have such high expectations. She's doing okay... many times she's fine, and lately, she does better when we're out and about and doesn't have any pee accidents. Other days, like several days last week, she peed on the floor at home multiple times during the day. Overall peeing she gets though. Poop has always been an issue and for awhile she was holding it. I'll say that that has improved, but hasn't totally gone away. Now she'll sometimes streak her underwear (but not fully poop in it, more like she's tried to hold it in and has been mostly successful), or when we're at home and she's bottoms-free, she'll just poop until it's coming out, and then go sit on the potty until it's all the way out. She rarely will go sit down before she starts to poop so we have a long way to go, but I feel like we have made a lot of progress with her holding her poop. We've talked with her about going back to diapers (particularly after two days last week with multiple accidents all day) and she wants to wear underwear (and honestly, I feel like she's past diapers so there's really no going back). I know the advice is to be calm about things, no pressure, indifference even and then she'll get it on her own, but that's hard after a day full of accidents. I'm hoping next month's update will reveal some major progress, but honestly, I'm not expecting it.

Coco, what a fun month we've had! You love taking the boys to school and being a part of the daily drop-off. You've adjusted so well to all your classes and are so much fun to watch and be around. I love to see all you're discovering and that you're so comfortable doing so. Sometimes you'll check to see that I'm nearby, but usually you're fine to head off on your own to check everything out, either by yourself, or with other friends. You had no problem heading in the water the first day with teacher Julie and have done pretty well at art class being dropped off, even though a lot of the other moms stay (their kids are younger). Even though Dedee or I could stay, I specifically wanted to give you the opportunity for you to be dropped off and be there on your own. Between those two classes and church every Sunday, I hope we're preparing you well for preschool drop-offs next year. You've had so much fun at your outdoor classes, getting covered with dirt, touching bugs and finding rocks and sticks. You still love MyGym, though I feel like after Christmas I'll be ready to switch to something on this side of town, maybe soccer. It is so fun to just be a fly on the wall wherever you are. You're so creative and have so much fun coming up with your stories and playing with all your friends. You love your Dedee and Papa so much and I love how excited you get every time they come, even though you see them often. That's something that has been lost with the boys so I'm hopeful you always appreciate, and don't take for granted, how lucky you are to have them nearby and to see them so frequently. I always feel a bit of regret when I hear friends talking about their kids starting preschool and know that could've been an option for you, but I feel so confident in my decision. It's been so nice to have this time with you and I'm enjoying so much having 'just one' at those times. We've been doing special time with your brothers for awhile but you've just caught on to the idea and now request special time, mostly from Dad, which is pretty hard to turn down. In so many ways, you want to do everything just like the rest of us. There are so many times when Dad and I just look at each other and smile after something you say. This is the best age when so much of what you're saying is still new and you are always surprising us. So grateful to have this year with you to myself and I know you'll be ready for preschool in the fall.

First Day of Kindergarten

I almost didn't know what to do with myself when I got home at 9am on Wednesday after taking the boys for their first day of school. There had been so much leading up to the moment, that it sort of felt like, 'now what?'. Coco and I had a fun morning and went to the park but I couldn't stop thinking about the boys and wondering how they were doing and couldn't wait to go pick them up to hear all about it. This was such a long and intense process, that it was crazy to think that we had made it and it was finally their first day!

We had a good night before school started. They did well at the 30-minute orientation earlier that day and we had a lot of fun at the park afterward with all the other Kindergarten families. The boys still weren't feeling particularly excited; all they could focus on was the fact that they wouldn't be together. The teachers had sent the kids home with 'jitter glitter' and reading it to them and sprinkling a little under their pillows, plus the addition of introducing them to the 'night before school fairies' actually got them really excited. They said they had to go to sleep right away, and in fact, they did.

I decorated their room with a 'happy first day' banner, a bit more glitter sprinkled on the floor and left some balloons around the room. I woke up at 5am realizing I had forgotten to set an alarm and couldn't go back to sleep with first-day excitement myself. But it was a really smooth morning, I finally had to wake Colette up when we were leaving at 7:45 and the babysitter had arrived. We decided to take the bike to school since we figured parking would be awful and it was the right choice.

Then we waited in the long line of families waiting to shake hands with the school heads, what I found out is a daily tradition but all the families are there on the first day and they have a photographer to get a photo of each child. George was getting stressed out waiting in line and with the thought of him having to shake hands so I let him run around the block a bit, which helped, but he still was not happy about shaking hands. Classic photo though!

The boys went into their classes just fine and Dave and I said goodbye and went to the parents reception for a bit to chat with other parents. There have been lots of events so far and I already feel like I'm getting to know a lot of the parents. We're really happy with the community.

I couldn't wait to pick the boys up and they were excited to see me too. I took them to get ice cream after and tried to get as many stories out as I could. I was a bit nervous to hear how lunch went -- you can't bring a lunch to Town, everyone eats the cafe food but it's high quality and apparently really good. Every day there's a salad bar, two soup options and sandwiches, plus main courses -- the first day was sausage and bell pepper pizza with spinach strawberry salad. Good way to start off the year, George said the pizza 'was good, like really really good'. Typically the kids head through the line with their trays to get what they want but for the first few weeks of school, a tray is plated for the kindergarteners with a little of each main of the day. Side note: I got to do lunch duty on Friday which was taco salad, brown rice and grilled squash for lunch so I was definitely curious to see how the boys would do. I checked on them and G had eaten the chocolate chip bread (on Fridays they get dessert instead of fruit) but that was it, but William had gotten up to get himself soup. I helped George go pick out a sandwich so hopefully he gets the hang of it. It's so funny though, there are three lunch seatings, K/1/2, 3/4/5 and 6/7/8 and with each shift, the kids are more adventurous, taking vegetables, more of the main, etc., and by 8th grade, some of the kids are taller than me and eating a huge plate of food. 

Other stories from the day -- George 'loved everything except upper field (recess) because William was playing with another kid and didn't want him to join'. The snacks were good and they get a morning snack and afternoon snack. The teachers are nice and they both love PE (they're playing soccer) and recess. William has since mentioned a new friend most days; we haven't gotten as much out of George, he says he plays with William. They get to sit together at lunch currently (assigned tables which get switched up every month).

They both have a female head teacher, and a male assistant teacher. Ms. Frelinghuysen and Mr. Dumothier for George in KB and Ms. Hollister and Mr. Vick in KA. I love that they both have a male teacher. We gave each teacher a little gift on the first day, thanks to Annie for the tip.

The rest of the week has gone well but it's so nice to have two short weeks before really getting into the school year. We're feeling so great having them at this wonderful school!