Friday, May 5, 2017

Happy Half Birthday, Forest!



Forest just celebrated his half birthday and is only 6 short months away from turning 4. So far, 3 has been a challenging age. It's simultaneously the easiest and hardest phase he’s gone through.  Three year olds are famously volatile, hence the accurately coined phrase ‘Threenager’. He’ll be in such a good mood and then the littlest thing can send him into an inconsolable conniption fit. Then other days some major bummer could happen and he totally takes it in stride and handles it like a champ. Seriously, I never know what the day will bring or if I will be dealing with an angelic sweetheart or a mischievous terror.  Here’s a quick snapshot of Forest’s life these days: 

Favorite Book: He’s still very much into Thomas so his 5-minute Thomas stories is a book we read everyday. 
He also loves to read through activity books. He has a huge Thomas sticker and activity book and he won’t color it but wants us to read it to him and he does all the activities with his finger. 

I think he loves it so much he doesn’t want to mar it with actual crayons. He also loves the Llama Llama series. He and Llama have a lot in common (both shy momma’s boys). 

Favorite TV Show/Movie: Favorite TV show is still Thomas but he will occasionally ask for Chuggington or Curious George. Disney- Pixar Cars has been dethroned and the title of new favorite movie goes to Disney Planes. We’ll see if Crophopper still reigns supreme over McQueen after Cars 3 comes out this June. We have a very excited little boy at our house! 

Favorite Toy: Dusty Crophopper currently goes everywhere with us. 


Favorite foods: Raspberries, Mac and Cheese, chocolate milk, carrots, spaghetti, graham crackers with hazelnut butter, and turkey sandwiches. 

Language Development: He’s definitely had a big leap lately and is starting to tell very detailed stories. It’s fun to see his imagination at work and also to start getting very accurate play by play events of what goes on at preschool. 

Cutest Sayings: One new phrase he says is ‘in a lot of days’ when he’s talking about something that happened a long time ago or is coming in the future. For example: “Spring will turn to summer and then Cars 3 will come to the movie theater in a lot of days.” Or “In a lot of days ago when I was a baby I watched Harry the Bunny and then a Baby Einstein where they had different colors on the flatbeds.” 

Something not-so-cute is he’s starting to use the term ‘hate’. The other day he smiled at me and said ‘I hate you mommy!’. I said ‘That is the meanest thing you could say to me’ and he replied ‘No mommy, I hate you nicely.’. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t fully grasp what the word means…. But he’ll say ‘I hate those kind of bubbles.’ etc, and it really bothers me. As a kid we were NEVER allowed to use that word so I’m trying get him to say ‘I strongly dislike’ instead of ‘hate’. 

New Skills: He did awesome at ski school! 
He is writing his name better and better. That pesky ‘S’ is pretty frustrating but he keeps trying. 

He’s building to his bank of sight words and is a really good speller too. 

He was trying to search for 'Thomas Youtube'.
He loves to spell/read the names of his classmates and favorite characters. 
Stats: He’s about 37 lbs and 41.75 inches. I think 81% for weight and around 92% for height. 
I find it hard to believe he’s not higher than 92% for height because I seriously haven’t met anyone his age taller than him! I calculate his percentiles based on the WHO (worldwide) statistics so Jonathan and I joke that it’s those dang Germans and Ethiopians screwing up the curve.  According to the CDC which is based on American statistics he's 94.7% which seems more accurate.

Schedule: Sadly naps are no more. One day he just stopped napping cold turkey. At first he was still going down without a fight and having some quiet time in his room but now quiet time has turned into hysterically crying time so I’m not sure how long we can keep it up. He’s still in a crib but we plan to make the transition to big boy bed in June. That should be fun. He goes to bed around 7 pm and mostly sleeps til 7 AM. Although I am very sad to see naptime go, it is nice to be at a point where we aren’t a slave to his schedule anymore. However, I do see a correlation between the dropping of naps and the uptick of exorcist like tantrums all the live long day. 

Other Observations: Forest loves music and likes to boss us around as to what we listen to in the car. His first choice is always Ed Sheeran and he can sing every word of every song on the new album. He also gets very upset when we skip over ‘the song with bad words’. 

He doesn’t like loud noises and even some soft noises (bees buzzing) bother him and he’ll shriek and say ‘I don’t like that sound!’ He’s always been a light sleeper and I wonder if it’s because he’s so noise sensitive. He also has a keen sense of smell. When I get him up in the morning he’ll say ‘What is that smell? Bacon?’ (or ‘coffee’ depending on how early he wakes up). 

He continues to be super silly, super happy, super energetic and super shy. 
He loves pretending to drive and gravitates to steering wheels at playgrounds. Bonus points if the fake steering will has a grill that looks like a jeep. 

He seems to have lost interest in art and puzzles for the time being. 

He just felt like he needed more time to devote to his car/train/plane obsession. At least he’s diversifying his vehicular interests beyond just steam trains. 




My struggles: Forest is crazy shy. But he’s very atypically shy. He is so adventurous and full of joy. He can’t wait to jump in and try new things, and he’ll gladly follow a group of kiddos around but he really hasn’t figured out how to have a conversation with anyone outside of his very close family and friends. His teachers say they have to really encourage him to speak at all and he usually won’t respond verbally if someone asks him a question. He hates to be put on the spot or have the attention on him. Even if it’s me trying to get something on video, he will say ‘NO!’ and stop doing whatever cute thing I was trying to film. 

His teacher told me that her main worry with Forest is that he’s so smart and well-behaved (??) that it’s likely he won’t get the attention he needs in school because he won’t be seeking it the way some kids do. She suggested we try to set up playdates with one or two kids from class and just in the last 3 weeks we’ve been making more of an effort and it has made a huge difference. Even though he’s still quiet and shy, he isn’t totally mute. He asked the cashier for milk at McDonald’s, he talked to a friend at school, and he’s been talking to me in front of other people which is something he wasn’t doing 3 weeks ago. 

We were at a playground the other day and a 9 year old girl kindly offered to play with Forest and show him where a pretend car was. She came down the slide after a bit and said to me 'He doesn't talk much, does he? He only said two words! When I asked him where he was driving he said "The Beach."' I told her he is pretty quiet but inwardly I was like 'Two whole words? In response to a question from a total stranger? Woohoo Forest!!!!' 


I was at the point that I thought he may need to be assessed for a spectrum disorder but after seeing his progress with a just little more intention on our part, I feel hopeful that it’s a personality issue rather than a developmental one.  It's something we definitely have our eye on but I have to remind myself that being shy and introverted is perfectly normal and no less valuable than being outgoing and extroverted. 

Of course we want him to be able to easily make friends and to respond in socially expected ways and ask questions in school if he needs help, but we don't want to change the core of who he is. And having an little introvert definitely has it's perks, like a kid who will happily entertain himself for hours on end. And let's get real - he gets its from his momma and in terms of personality, the apple really hasn't fallen far from the tree. 

Another struggle is that he’s been having sooooo many tantrums lately. With Jonathan coming and going, he is testing more than the typical three year old. Add that to dropping naps and not getting enough sleep and he’s just so moody. I’m having to follow through on some tough love these days and it’s a lot of trial and error to find which discipline is most effective with him. 

Well that was just a short (hahahaha!) synopsis of life with our 3.5 year old. I'll try to blog again soon but with preschool ending and no more naptime, it's getting pretty hard to find the time! 

Friday, April 28, 2017

California!



I’ve been pining away for Northern California ever since we moved away 10 months ago. It has a lot of sentimental value for me because it’s where Forest spent the majority of baby and toddlerhood and where I bonded strongly with women who were also new to the world of motherhood. Not to mention it is a stunningly beautiful place and though Southeast Texas has it’s charms, rolling green hills and mild weather are not among them.

I’d say I feel homesick but can a place I lived temporarily as an adult be considered ‘home’? I guess that since it’s the last place that I felt a sense of belonging and contentedness then ‘homesick’ would be the appropriate word. 

I felt very ambivalent about visiting but when my friend Natalie found out her family was being relocated to Singapore in May,  I knew that if I didn’t plan a trip beforehand it might be a loooooooooong time before our paths crossed again. Forest had a school break for Easter so we booked flights for the long weekend and planned to see and do as much as possible. It was such a good trip!! 

We got to catch up with great friends and enjoy some of our favorite California past-times. On night one, Jonathan went to a Giants game in San Fran with his friend Dave while Dave’s wife Pinthip and I ordered takeout and let our 3 year olds play while we caught up and I bonded with their new baby. Two of my best friends had babies since we moved so that was another exciting thing about our homecoming! 

Bryce was Forest’s first BFF and it was so awesome to see them back together. It was also hilarious now that they are fluenty speaking, just how apparent their personalities were already back when they were just a year old.


Bryce was super social, confident and leading the charge and Forest was sheepishly and meticulously exploring all of his buddy’s toys, reluctantly interacting only when it was absolutely necessary. Not much has changed in the past 2 years (expect their size)! 


"This hug is seriously invading my personal space but our moms really want a picture of it so let's just power through it". - Forest anytime i ask him to give someone a hug.
 The next morning we met up with lots of friends for an outing at the Oakland Zoo. Because it was good Friday it was pretty crowded but the kids still had a blast. We didn’t do much animal sighting but plenty of playground playing. 


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All the kids' favorite part of the zoo are the rides on the way out anyway! Forest and his buddy Brooklyn had fun driving cars, flying planes, riding coasters together. 
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We all took a nice train ride through the zoo too so you know Forest was pretty stoked about that! 


We even got to see the giraffes from the train which WAS Forest’s favorite animal until he saw the otters that day. Now if we ask his favorite animal he exclaims ‘Otters!’. This week his preschool class is studying Oceans and he told me they learned about sharks. I said ‘Did you tell your teacher that you like sharks?' and he said ‘No I don’t like sharks! I like Otters! They live in the ocean too!’. He’s just starting to get the concept that you can like two different things at the same time. Just because raspberries are your favorite fruit doesn’t mean you have to swear off grapes. He’s a fiercely loyal one already. Also, who the heck picks raspberries as their favorite fruit? This kid is a major weirdo sometimes. 

Combine jet lag with a busy morning outside and there was not a chance Forest was going to make it home without falling asleep in the car! He and Jon both took a snooze and I wished I’d brought a book as I let them sleep it off in the parking lot of our hotel. 
That afternoon we went for ice cream and then met up with friends at the park. 
31 flavors at Baskin Robbins and this kid picks Lemon Custard. Weirdo, I'm telling you.



After having a blast and also racking up some boo-boos at the playground we headed out to our favorite Thai restaurant with Dave, Pinthip and their crew. 

The next day was some of the best weather on the forecast so first we headed to the farmer's market in Danville for the best coffee on the planet and some winery snacks to take along to Livermore Valley later that morning.  Forest immediately remembered the train at the Farmer's market so of course we hit that up too. We also scored some hummus, dried fruit and chocolate dipped peanut butter cookies (Forest's contribution) for wine pairing later in the day.
10 months ago! He's grown so much.


We met our friends Jake and Sara and their 3 and 1 year old girls in Livermore. Though I said Bryce was F’s first best friend, he and Brooklyn were having playdates before they were 6 months old! 

Sadly they moved away when Forest was about 9 months and then they happened to move back right after we left for Texas. Womp Womp. Anyway we had such a great morning hanging out on the lawn at Concannon and Darcie Kent wineries. So much fun that I forgot to take many pictures. Oops. That happened a lot on this trip!


Livermore is a bit lesser known that Napa and Sonoma and is frequented by mostly locals. Most of the wineries are laid back and family friendly so it was such a nice and relaxing morning(well as relaxing as a morning chasing toddlers can be). Luckily Forest and Brooklyn were a great match and both love trains so they played very well together and kept each other from wandering too far. 

That afternoon we met some more friends out for dinner, and once again, I forgot to take pictures. The next morning was Easter. It was pretty rainy and Forest was sort of overwhelmed with all the social interaction the past few days so we decided not to make him go to the church nursery. We just did the Easter story together and then headed to our friends’ house for an Easter egg hunt and hot cross buns. Forest did an Easter egg hunt with the same friend last year and when I asked if he remembered it he said “Yes; some of the eggs were empty.” I apparently traumatized him last year by not filling all the eggs, so I made sure to overcompensate this year. 

Each of the participating kiddos had 12 of their own color eggs that parents were responsible for filling (and there was quite the fight over who got to have the blue eggs). I filled Forest’s orange eggs with raisins, goldfish and trail mix (I know; lamest mom ever!) but I stuck a few Thomas minis in a couple of eggs and he was ecstatic.  
I was worried he would hunt for the blue eggs despite being assigned Orange, but he did really good with sticking to the plan. 
He even handed a blue egg to Max, the lucky blue egg recipient (seniority). Forest was the slowest in hunting his eggs because he had to open them all as he went to see what surprises awaited inside. 
I did bum a few chocolates off of the other mommas because I felt super lame for being the mom that only brought healthy egg fillers. Forest was pretty excited about that too! (As was Jonathan who conspicuously confiscated most of the peanut butter cups.) It was such a fun morning spent with great friends and seriously adorable kiddos. 










Everyone was pretty busy with family Easter activities the rest of the day so we just went home for a nap and then grabbed dinner at one of our favorite spots in downtown Danville. 

We left pretty early the next morning for our flight which turned out to be sort of an ordeal. They shut down the Houston airport due to weather so we were re-routed to Austin. We spent about 3 hours on the ground in Austin before finally getting the ok to fly to Houston. 

Once we got there, we were given the wrong baggage carousel number and were waiting for about 40 minutes until someone happened to walk by the right carousel and spot their bags and kindly came to announce it to the rest of us. They’d been there so long that all the belt had stopped! 

It was a long day for us but Forest always get to pick a special snack for the plane so he was very content with his family size bag of cheez-its and hours’ worth of Thomas downloaded from Netflix. 
(Trying to explain the concept of wi-fi, streaming, and downloading Netflix to Forest.)

Doesn’t take much to make him a happy camper.