Coco, 2 years 9 months

Before we know it, I'll be writing Coco's 3-year post. Things don't change quite as much month-to-month that they do in the younger days so her update posts have been a bit more spread out. We've been in a good routine all year and honestly, the biggest challenge is that so many 2 year olds go to preschool already in the city so she's often the oldest in many of her classes. This has been fine, she still enjoys it, but it's crazy to be in class with kids she's a year older than, when they grow so much during that phase.

I purchased a pack of ballet classes at the boys' school auction so we redeemed those in January and February and she did enjoy it. The timing wasn't perfect since at least one Monday a month I've volunteering at the boys' school at 11 so I wasn't sold on continuing it. I did ask her if she wanted to do ballet or soccer and she said soccer, so starting next week, she'll try that out. We'll see!

Tuesdays we gave up MyGym, but have continued at Rabbit Hole which is still one of her favorites. A lot more kids joined the class this session so I think that has been fun for her too. She loves choosing a different costume each week and playing along with the make believe of riding in an elevator, taking a bus, going to a restaurant, etc. When we get home, she gets to spend several hours with Papa so a great day all around.

Wednesdays we've continued with our outdoor class, but the group changed after the holidays and the majority of the kids are almost 2 or just turned 2. She still enjoys it though we've had so much rain since Christmas that it has been wet most of our class days.

Thursdays are when we do swim lessons downtown and if we're motivated, we'll get out early to go to the Exploratorium, or the park if it's nice. Coco has improved so much since our trip to Florida, she's now using her arms (well, one arm mostly), taking breaths, and able to keep swimming, even though it doesn't look too great :) We have a handful more lessons on our pass with Julie which due to travel, should probably get us through April, and then it doesn't make sense to be paying for privates anymore since when she's 3 she can go in without me anywhere else. I'm excited to see how she'll do in a group setting.

On Fridays, Dedee is here (Thurs to Friday) and that's her morning with C so I try to work out, schedule volunteering at the boys' school, get my appointments in, etc. Coco goes to a drop-off art class from 10:30-12 so gives my mom a nice break too. Coco is really independent and the teacher has told me that she's in there with mostly older kids (it's a preschool-age class so mostly 3 and 4 year olds, but the teacher thought C was ready to go up from the toddler class) and loves to do whatever they're doing.

EAT: Despite Coco's ongoing poop issues, she still eats a ton and a pretty good variety. She has started saying, 'Ew, yuck!' and definitely picking up on the boys' preferences on foods and following suit. Overall, she'll still eat most things that the adults are eating so that definitely helps.

SLEEP: This is fine, she did go through a week or so of randomly waking up, requesting sparkling water, etc. or just being up in her bed for awhile in the middle of the night. It also took some adjustment getting her to wait for her sun clock to turn on after we got back from Colorado, she was waking up earlier and calling for us where it was impossible for us to ignore. It's hard to tell where she's at with naps. She can go 5 days without napping, but then she's napped that last 3 days in a row which is surprising. She's definitely not ready to go to bed at 7 if she's had a nap and since she's so independent, I don't really need the break as much as I did with the boys. I do want to give her the chance to nap in case she does need it, and we have the flexibility for us to be home during her nap time.

PLAY: Coco loves going to all her classes and is an active participant. She follows along with the songs and the hand motions, loves to sit and listen to stories or a puppet show and loves to explore at outdoor class. We spend very little time at the park now, partly due to the weather, but also we're more booked up with other classes now, which she really loves. Also, she has so much fun playing at home, either by herself, or with us - dollhouse or imaginary play of dressing up all her animals and dolls and going to a ball, having an extravagant tea party, building a castle or playing in her play kitchen. She's getting slightly more into dolls, but definitely still loves stuff animals or little figurines better. She is so funny when you listen to her conversations between her little princesses... there's a lot of arguing, 'No I want the pink dress!', 'No I want the pink dress!!!'. She's a constant chatterbox when playing by herself. She's not quite as talkative when she's at her classes, she'll certainly talk, but as is probably to be expected, where she's most comfortable it's constant :)

She likes to play downstairs in the boys' stuff more now, either in their dress-up clothes, or with their blocks or even legos. She'll build a little something, but she's much more interested in getting out all the little people and having them be involved in whatever she's built.

lego people and accessories drawer :)

She's been much more enthusiastic about cooking with me which has been fun. She helps cut peppers with her special knife, loves to stir and dump, crack eggs, and I was really impressed with her scooping skills when we made muffins yesterday and she used the little scoop to fill the whole muffin tin.

We still need to work on her scooter and bike skills. She's gotten a little bit better but we just aren't at the park as much as the boys were since we don't have Jessica taking her out in the afternoons anymore.

She still loves reading and will sit with anyone willing to read to her. We just got her a cd player like the boys have to listen to Disney stories on CD. She doesn't sit and listen to them but likes having it on in the background.

TALK: I think most can understand her, and I think she has made a little progress since the last update, but many of the same speech problems exist. As far as I understand right now, it's age appropriate and besides repeating words the correct way, I don't think anything else is necessary at the moment.

She's just starting to learn the power of her words and a game has started where George will say, 'Coco, do you love me?' and she'll say, 'I love you, but I don't love William'. Of course she doesn't mean it, but we've now had to ban George from bringing up anything on this subject, which he only does for his own satisfaction anyway.

POTTY: Oh man, where to begin here? Coco has been back in diapers since October when we met with the doctor about her poop problems, tested her urine, etc. (and all came back fine). We decided to put her back in diapers and just focus about getting the stool out comfortable for her, and work on her withholding issues. Though the doctor did suggest Miralax at the time, we decided to stick to prunes, prune juice, pouches, etc., which she was really good about eating and drinking, and things did improve. Her withholding problems have never been consistent, she'd have good weeks for awhile, and then have several days of rabbit poop, streaks, etc., signs of constipation, but overall things were moving along. We had always kept the conversation open about when she wanted to give away her diapers, she could tell us. And she would, occasionally, but never wanted to follow through. About a month ago now, she did decide to give away her diapers for good, and we attempted potty training again. Pee once again came easily, with an accident about 1x per week when we were out and she was more resistant to stopping to go, and we waited to long. Initially poop was okay. She wouldn't necessarily wait to poop in her diaper, but sometimes at nap time it would come out. Mostly, when she was bottoms-free at home and playing, a little bit would come out, she'd run to the potty, it would fall in, she'd be excited and proud, but no more would come out. No amount of sitting on the potty after meals, tempting rewards, etc., changed this behavior. In fact, about a week and a half into this trial of potty training, she got really constipated, so the point of screaming in pain and staying stiff-as-a-board for over an hour. I called the doctor again and we agreed to get her on Miralax. One a dose that afternoon, another when at 10pm she woke up again screaming in pain. Still, no poop. We flew to Colorado the next morning so gave her a does that morning and prayed she wouldn't be bothered on the plane. We made it just fine, but still no poop. Finally, that afternoon, while playing, she had several big, soft stools and no issues with them coming out. We obviously chose to go back to diapers while on our trip and starting this Miralax and all was fine but I was getting more stressed out that we really didn't have a plan in place, especially after we got home and took off the diapers and she went back to what was happening before, a little bit coming out, expect this time it was a lot messier. I decided to call a local parenting consultant group, Symbio, who are child psychologists with lots of experience with sleep issues, eating, potty, behavior, etc. I made an appointment with them and the first thing she said was, 'you need to get an X-ray done'. She gave me lots of other behavioral tips and advice, but was clear that until we found out if this was more of a medical issue, the behavioral stuff could only do so much. I called my pediatrician and after some back and forth, she gave in to getting C an X-ray. I took her that afternoon and sure enough, she was FOP (full of poop). I was able to see the pediatrician the next day who put Coco on a Miralax clean-out dose for 3 days, and then a step-down dose before we go onto the maintenance dose this weekend. A lot has come out, all soft and no pain for C, but I'm still concerned that the 'blockages' aren't out and making a more longterm planning including potty training. The problem is that her colon/rectum could have been stretched out over this long history of her withholding, which can prevent her from feeling when she needs to go. It takes awhile for those to shrink back down so I'm anxious to make sure we've cleared her out and get her on a good path to resolve this issue. I'm reading a book the doctor recommended now, and may seek other care if I'm not confident in the plan. It can be a long road to get over the withholding habit and break the constipation cycle so I don't want to waste anymore time.

Colette: We've been having so much fun together and as far as attention, I think you're one lucky girl. Dad has been home so much so you often stay with him while I run the boys to school. And unlike me, who's usually doing something around the house when I'm home with you, Dad usually gives you his undivided attention to  do tea party or get everyone dressed for the ball. Then you and I are off on our adventures and we get our own special time. I'm best when I'm out of the house away from all the things I have to get done and usually I'm able to just focus on you. Then, many days you get a visit for Dedee or Papa and you're definitely the star of that show! You love spending time with them, whether it's watching Papa fix something, or eating all his lunch, or reading books or setting up a full play scene with construction paper with Dedee. Every time Papa comes, you're silly-nervous for a minute or two but are always excited to see him. There's never any hesitation with Dedee, you light up when she arrives. Both of them are getting older so I don't know how long we'll get these day of them spending hours in the car in traffic to come see us but I feel so lucky you get to know all four of your grandparents. On a different subject, I feel so guilty about your potty issues. On the one hand, I feel like I did everything I could. I brought up your withholding or on-and-off constipation issues at every visit we had and beside the typical recs of prunes, etc., that was that. I feel horrible that we attempted and struggled through potty training several times when it was really beyond your control. I wish I had known to push to help get the main issue resolved as the past months have been stressful, I think for both of us, with the continued disappointment of it not clicking, even though in my mom gut, I knew you were ready and even if we waited another 6 months, the issue wouldn't be resolved. I'm glad we're hopefully heading in the right direction and by summer or at the latest by the start of school, we'll have you ready for Calvary.  We're just starting to plan your birthday party and I'm excited for the remaining months of just you and me in your current schedule before summer with the boys and you heading off to preschool each morning. We all love you so much!!

Colorado 2019

It's always fun to go back and do a trip again, once you've gotten all the kinks worked out, and that's how Dave and I like to roll. There's not a ton of variety in our travel from year to year but for this stage with the kids, it's just what we need.

We spent the kids' ski week in Colorado again, starting with the long weekend at my brother's house in Boulder. Weather can be all over the place in Colorado, even in February, with a 65 degree day followed by snow (which is what we got last year). This year it made it slightly easier for packing that it was just going to be cold the whole time. We arrived in the late afternoon and spent the rest of the day playing at my brother's and making homemade pizzas. The cousins got along great thing year, though over William and George are just so much rowdier. They seem to constantly be roughhousing, even if they aren't actually fighting, so despite our best efforts to keep that to a minimum and definitely out of public places, it was a bit of a struggle on that trip.

Sunday we woke up and played for a bit before heading into Denver to meet my friend from study-abroad in Paris, Maris, and her family. We decided to go to Casa Bonita, a cheesy Mexican restaurant in a cavernous space with an arcade, caves built in with a twisting tunnel, and the star attraction, cliff divers (complete with a swimming pool of course!). Maris said she used to go to birthday parties there growing up in Denver but hadn't been back sense. It was a super-fun experience and the kids all had a blast. It was easy to spend several hours there, thanks to Dave being with the kids so I could catch up with Maris. We debated going to the children's museum after, but decided just to head home, which was a good choice since all the kids drifted off on the way home.

Snow was predicted later that afternoon and evening, so after a short rest, we walked over the library to get some new books. They're just a few blocks away which was great. We had dinner at home that night.

It had snowed a lot overnight and on Monday, it was still very cold. We drove over to a new museum nearby and the kids had a great time in the Wolf exhibit, as well at the stem area. Next we headed over to the rec center for some indoor swimming. They have a great pool and it's definitely a good way to burn off some energy when so cold outside.

That night we were able to get a babysitter so we went out with Jon and Liz. Both had an early morning, Jon getting Liz to the airport in Denver at 6am before heading over to his school there. I got the kids to school in the morning, George came along and we picked up a few things at the store for the next leg of our trip. On our way up to the mountains, we stopped at a trampoline park and jumped all the wiggles out for an hour before starting our drive. We stopped at great restaurant our friend Maris recommended, Westbound and Down, before making it to Vail around 3pm. We had another great condo, this time the boys were in separate double beds upstairs in a loft and Coco was in a crib with Dave and I in the bedroom downstairs. She's still perfect happy in a crib but not sure how we'll adjust once she's in a bed. We swam in the (outdoor!) pool and sat in the hotel tub before going to a fun dinner at the Mexican restaurant at the hotel.

The boys tested back into level 2 which was good, and after 2 days of lessons, got through level 2+. We'll see where they'll be next year. It's hard to make much progress when it's just once a year but I think that's all we're up for at this point. The boys had a good ski day and Dave had fun on his own. I stayed with C and we walked over to the great library first thing, and they had story time and crafts all morning so we spent over 2 hours there. Then we walked over to the children's museum and played there for a few minutes before heading back to the condo for lunch. We got bundled up and tried to take Coco out to do a little sledding and playing in the snow, but there wasn't really a good area right there by the hotel, and she wasn't really into it anyway, so we headed over to pick up the boys and then went back to the children's museum to play for a bit before dinner. Dave discovered a new grill on the balcony so I picked up some steaks to grill up for dinner.

Thursday was another ski day for everyone, but Coco and I drove an hour up highway 70 to Glenwood Springs to go in the hot springs. We went as a family last year and it was so fun to be in the really warm pool while so cold outside. This year Coco was a bit scared by the dark-bottom so not much swimming happened. We stopped at Northside Cafe on the way home for a filet mignon breakfast burrito and their famous donuts, yum! I picked up the boys and we played at the snow-covered playground for a bit before heading home for pizza.

The next morning we packed up and drove back to Denver for a 1:30 flight home, luckily without any delays. A big storm came in that afternoon and Liz, who was flying back to Denver from SF got back hours later than she was scheduled too, so we're thankful we missed that. It was a great visit with our cousins and we hope to continue the annual trip. I was definitely tired after the trip - the boys were tough, I felt like I was nagging about picking up stuff, getting off of each other, just generally begging for kindness and helpfulness which wasn't really happening so that was hard. Dave had been sick on and off for weeks and Colorado is so bad for his nose that even though he could stay at my brother's house this year, it's just so dry that combined with a cold, he just doesn't do well. I'm so glad we get to do it though, and that the boys seem to be enjoying and picking up skiing. We'll see what next year brings when Coco is almost 4 and could technically do lessons as well.

W&G Halfway Through Kindergarten

The boys just celebrated their 100 days of school with a fun party, and we got their mid-year progress reports and had the conferences with their teachers. It's always so fun to hear about them from a different perspective and we love the little interviews the teachers do as a jumping off point for discussion in the conferences.


Where William likes to play during during 'Learning Choice' (free play) and at recess.

William is doing well and has made a lot of improvement in reading since we've been working on it more at home. I think he's right where he needs to be so we definitely need to keep it up so he doesn't fall behind. He's getting to the point where he knows more and more words so he can read most of a Little Critters book to Coco. He doesn't know every word, but enough to feel like he can read the story with a little help. Both boys read the Bob books pretty easily and the red Primary Phonics books are a perfect level. We're at the in-between stage where Level 1 Learn-to-read books are still a little bit too advanced, but they probably know maybe 60 or 70 sight words and are now learning Where, What, Were, There, Went, Want, etc., so I feel like soon that will open up a lot more. 

His teachers highlighted a few things we can be working on, like the teen numbers and gave us a stack of different games and a die with teen numbers on it to improve that area. He's had some issues in the classroom, though the vibe we've gotten from the teachers are that it is NOT William instigating it, but occasionally William doesn't handle it the right way. They've been working with the other boy too and overall things have improved. William is good about asking for help when he needs it but tells me that now he tries to just walk away. Theater arts still seems to be one of his favorites, and both boys love library, PE and recess ;)

George is doing well too. He's pulled out to be in a separate reading group which we're really happy about. George is actually a strong reader, even with, or maybe even stronger than William at the moment as he is good about remembering words he's already read, instead of needing to sound them out, and in general, reads (correctly) more without sounding out. Dave and I were a little surprised that G was in a separate class and W was not, but we've now discovered that G thrives in a smaller learning atmosphere, and while reading comes easily to him, writing is still tough, and he often is able to read without understanding a lot of the building blocks of reading, the different sounds that can be build etc. It's hard to get a straight answer from the reading teacher, as she's never assessed W so it's hard for her to compare. We're so glad he gets this attention as we noticed how shy he was during his Boy of the Week day when we were visiting and he was in front of the class. He's also be resistant to bringing in something for sharing as he has to talk about it, and he really didn't want to do the Personal Hero project because, again, he'd have to tell the story. We get long progress reports with a update on them specifically from each of their different teachers - PE, music etc., and in Theater Arts, the teacher commented how G is always first to volunteer for a solo, he also volunteered to do the talent show with a small group of boys. We found out that when they go to the specialty classes like Music and Theater arts, it's just half the class, so about 11 kids. When we brought this up to his reading teacher, she was only surprised that he's so shy in the classroom because he's the most active and engaged when she's with him and the three other students. This was reassuring and I'm so glad that he's in a school where there are so many opportunities to have a great student-teacher ratio. We also discussed some ideas with his teacher on how to gently engage him in the bigger classroom. He's strong in Math, and we challenged him to ask or answer one question a day, maybe focusing on math since he'll likely know the answer. I think he's very much like me, he only wants to answer or engage in the conversation if he's really confident, versus other kids in the class (or really people in any situation) who love to hear themselves talk no matter what they have to say ;)

George still wasn't getting books sent home and I had concerns about that as I feel like it's so limiting. We're lucky because we see both the mainstream approach that W gets in his classroom, as well as what G is getting separately for for those families who only have a kid pulled out for reading, I'm not sure why they wouldn't be sending books home to practice yet. G is capable of reading the same books as W, and now that I've requested it, his K teacher sent home a stack of books for us to use that are his level. We try to do 3 books a night for each boy and then the goal is to do one other activity -- sight words, sight word bingo, practicing in their writing books, or one of the other games the teachers sent home. We also have a great fine motor box the teacher sent home, with putting and beading to help build those muscles. We're very good about doing the reading every night, and they're in a good routine now that they usually initiate it, though the games and other stuff is still hit or miss. Ideally we're spending 15-20 minutes per day practicing which I feel is reasonable.

We are very happy with the school and all the extra attention I feel like they're getting (though I think every kid is too, which is amazing!). When we attended those conferences, each of the teachers had a stack of games and ideas for us to take home to help build skills specific to each of their needs.

Some of their projects from the year so far:

Hopes and Dreams

Personal Heroes

What do I like to do with my family?

Boy of the Week

William chose to have us read Willow when we came in and Papa, Dad, me and Coco came.

George chose to have us read Mr. Ferris and his Wheel and Dedee, Dad, me and Coco came.

Favorite instagram posts with the boys at school: