Tag Archives: Learning

Happy Valentine’s Day 2013

So, obviously this post is about a month late, but it was such a fun year this year that I just had to share!

A lot of people think that Valentine’s Day is a Hallmark holiday, and to a degree, it is. But I also think it’s such a fun day to show each other that you care – not that this shouldn’t happen throughout the year. I find it important to show Madeleine that you should show others why you love them and take some time to be selfless, caring, appreciative and kind. That being said, for Valentine’s day, we did a number of things.

First, school: They didn’t do anything super formal, but did decorate paper bags for their Valentines. Anyone who wanted to brought in Valentines and the friends all got to take their bags home that evening to see what their friends put in their bags. I did Valentines with Madeleine. Nothing fancy, just the ones you get at the store. But, I had her choose which version she wanted to give to each friend and then she signed an “M” on each one. 🙂

Second, her daddy: I didn’t feel the need to do anything elaborate or outlandish, but wanted to make sure it was thoughtful. I decided to help her write him a note about all of the things she loves about him. See the photos, below, for the details of this letter. She had a little bit of a hard time with the concept, so a few of the answers she gave were quite hilarious. Others were just super sweet, and yet others were a little bit…shocking? You can view a video of her showing her daddy his present by clicking here. At the end you even hear her say “You can say thank you to me?” LOL! We’ve been pretty strict about manners and she calls us out sometimes. 🙂

Letter - Page 1

Letter – Page 1

Letter - Pg 2

Letter – Page 2

 

She wrote "daddy" in much the same method she wrote her own name. :) I told her what letters to write and she did it!

She wrote “daddy” in much the same method she wrote her own name. 🙂 I told her what letters to write and she did it!

Her artwork for him

Her artwork for him

And finally, our own celebration as a couple: I made a trip to Portland with some girlfriends in January for my future sister in law’s wedding dress hunt!! You can read about it on my friend’s blog here. While there, we did some shopping in downtown Portland and I picked up adorable little mini-notecards with matching envelopes, a heart seal and red seal wax. I forgot to take photos of them after they were sealed, but I planted them throughout Alex’s work bag, car, etc so that he would find them throughout the day. 🙂

 I had been planning on making a delicous dinner, but Alex said he didn’t feel I should have to make dinner on Valentine’s Day. So – he took us out to our favorite Mexican restaurant down the road. We didn’t want to deal with the chaos at any of the “traditional” Valentine’s places and it was a nice little night out with my two loves.

Getting a good picture out of my little ham is next to impossible. LOL!

Getting a good picture out of my little ham is next to impossible. LOL!

M and mommy!

M and mommy!

And of course, what would Valentine’s Day be without red roses from my hubby??

❤ ❤ ❤

Hope you all enjoyed your Valentine’s Day this year!!!

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Preschool

It’s hard to believe that our baby girl has grown up enough to be in preschool already, but she is! We officially transferred her to her new preschool classroom in late October, after her birthday and she is really thriving. Every day we get a long description from her of who she played with and what she did and what she’s learning about. On occasion the response I get is “I don’t want to tell you!” when I ask her what she did that day. LOL!!! We get new artwork in her cubby every single day. She also attends the following “extra” classes each week:

  • Art Class: Twice a week
  • Spanish Class: Either once or twice a week, unsure.
  • Yoga: As a part of their “Movement Matters” curriculum

Built into their daily/weekly curriculum they also cover:

  • Math
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Science
  • Art
  • Outdoor Play/Exercise
  • Show and Tell to practice public speaking

Madeleine really loves her class! We get daily updates via e-mail about their lesson plan for the day and it is quite detailed. These are really nice so we can reenforce what they’re learning at school when she’s at home. It’s also really neat to see the variety of activities and thoughtfulness that her teacher puts into the lesson plans. Each week has a theme to focus on, and the activities are generally based around that. So during Space Week they talked a lot about planets, did space art projects, read space themed books, for example.

We had parent/teacher conferences a couple of weeks ago and her teacher said she was doing great! She had no concerns about her learning and development at all. She also said that she is starting to show preferences in play partners. Bianca seems to be a favorite friend these days. They both love to read and will sit together reading stories quite often during choice play. 😀

We get regular updates from her teacher on our family site where she uploads photos and descriptions of the kids’ activities. Below are some of the things they do!

During Math Counts, Madeleine worked with Joey on picking up leaves with tweezers.

During Math Counts, Madeleine worked with Joey on picking up leaves with tweezers.

First day of Preschool!

First day of Preschool!

Making an art project

Making an art project

Story time with friends

Story time with friends

Outside play time!!

Outside play time!!

Math activity time!

Math activity time!

Working on their "G" letter worksheets. M is in the pink sweater.

Working on their “G” letter worksheets. M is in the pink sweater.

Learning how to make a snowflake with paper and scissors.

Learning how to make a snowflake with paper and scissors during the winter themed week.

It is so exciting to see Madeleine learning and growing! She still surprises us with the concepts she is learning every day, and we are very thankful to have her at a school that takes education and their teaching so seriously.

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Handwriting

Check that out! (And take notice of her orange finger nails. She was quite thrilled about that)

I know it’s been a long time since I’ve updated here (with the most recent post being an exception). Since we changed M’s daycare in June-ish, she has been thriving in her new school. She has made new friends, likes her teachers, has show and tell (and is always asking me to take things to school for her for show and tell). She does Yoga and has art class. Her cubby always has new art projects that she’s completed and her arms are always covered in some sort of art supply (markers, paint, etc). They read and are fed all organic, locally sourced food. They sing and they dance and play outside on the playground. She adores the sandbox. It’s a great program.

One of the things this program works on from a young age that her other school didn’t is handwriting. Since the very first week, she has told us that she is “writing” and would scribble lines on her chalk board. She is actually getting quite good at it. She holds her pencil, much the same way that she sees us write. I’ve had people comment on it, actually. 🙂

So, on the way back from Vancouver, she drew the picture above when we stopped for lunch and was really excited to have her own pencil. Thing is, it was the restaurant’s pencil and we couldn’t bring it home which was quite upsetting to Madeleine. Alex promised that he’d get her a pencil at home, and that if we didn’t have one – we mostly use pens – that he’d run to the store and get her one. Well guess what!!? We didn’t have one. So guess who went to the store !?!? Yep – he did.

With her new notebook and pencil

He came back with a composition notebook and a packet of pencils for her with a pencil sharpener. This $3 gift has been one of the most popular in a while. She loves to sit down at her table and write words. She asks us to write her name for her, to write letters and our names, as well. She’s trying to figure it all out.

We also still have random scribbling and “pictures” that she tells me are coins. We predict that she will be one of those children who loves homework – who comes home from school and sits down to study. We find her like the picture to the left quite often. And here – just for pure entertainment value – an example of what a goof she is!! She told me she was going to lay down and take a nap while I cooked dinner. LOL It was awfully cute and oh-so-distracting.

 

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Time For a Change

I’m not going to go into specific details here, but wanted to make note that Alex and I had to make the difficult decision to remove Madeleine from the care of her current school/day care facility due to a lack of sufficient care. Not only was the care insufficient with repeated incidents around the same issue, but the administration refused to take accountability for the injuries our daughter incurred on Wedneday (June 27th). In addition, they did not propose to change anything about their protocols or procedures or staffing issues which left us feeling as though her safety was at risk by keeping her in their care.

This situation is sad and upsetting on numerous levels.

  • I am heartbroken that we placed her in the care of a school who has allowed the level of injury that she has incurred.
  • I am heartbroken that she is in so much pain and so scarred by the pain she’s in.
  • I am heartbroken that we have had to rip her away from the friends that she has made at this school. There is one child in particular that she was incredibly close to and I’m really sad that she won’t get to play with him every day anymore.

Luckily, Alex spent a good portion of the day after this incident (because we refused to return her to their care, we both had to take some time off work) calling other care facilities. Then the next day, I took the day off work to care for her and called additional facilities. We have since toured one facility and have another tour scheduled for Tuesday, July 3rd. We anticipate having her enrolled and ready to start the new school next week after the July 4th holiday.

The guilt I feel is immense. I do not know how to wrap my mind around the fact that we trusted someone who placed our daughter in this situation. This has always been my biggest fear around selecting a child care provider. I just hope that this does not have any long term emotional damage for M. 😦

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She’s a Clever Little Monkey

Madeleine is really starting to get articulate. Her speech is exploding even more than it had been before and she’s routinely speaking in full sentences now. With that ability to portray her thoughts, she has come up with some very clever little comments.

Play Time!

Madeleine loves to run. I don’t stop her from running in the house, mostly because I don’t have an issue with it at this age and I’m just so glad that she can. But evidently it was posing problems for the teachers at her (former) school. More on that in another post.  The lead teacher began working with her on using her “walking feet” and then described the following incident to me when I was dropping her off one morning.

Just before nap time, when they were trying to calm the children down, Madeleine would not stop running through the classroom riling the kids up again. (whoops!) So the teacher asked her to please step into the hallway by the restroom and wait for her there. When she want to talk to Madeleine, she told her that she needed to use her walking feet inside, slow down and calm down for nap and Madeleine’s response? “But my walking feet go fast!!” LMAO!

Ok, seriously! She is so funny! That is both not the right response but also so clever and hilarious that I could not contain my laughter when her teacher told me. Said teacher agreed with me that it was a very clever response, and they continued working on using walking feet inside from that point until this week.

Next up was a moment where she was playing with her toys in the house. I can’t recall what I was doing, but she was playing with some of her stuffed animals in/near the kitchen. When I went back to the kitchen, I found this:

I proceeded to ask Madeleine why the animals were all lined up like that (because it looks a little strange, no?) and she said “Animals sleeping!!” LOL! Oooh, ok. That makes much more sense, because sleeping on her tummy is something that Madeleine does, too. 🙂

We use lots of experiences as teaching lessons, because we like to explain to her how the world works. Here Alex was showing her how chop sticks are used to pick up food.

The story that Alex loves to tell most has to do with an octopus. Shortly before he graduated, Alex’s school had a Veteran’s Day celebration which included honoring those veterans who were graduating. We went as a family and after the formal ceremony things broke out into “grab a snack and chit chat” time. We grabbed a little snack for Madeleine and found a table. While she was eating she had her legs out to the sides of the chair, instead of in front, and wiggled her arms around and said “I a octopus!” Pretending to be different animals is something that’s become quite frequent around here these days. So, Alex said to her “Really? How many legs does an octopus have?” To which Madeleine furrowed her brow, looked down at her legs and said pointed to each leg as she counted “One, two. Two legs!” Hahaha! We about died laughing at the practicality of her response.

Daddy’s girl!

And finally, tonight. Most of you probably know that Alex has been doing some motorcycle riding as of late. So now we watch motorcycle racing videos and Madeleine is completely fascinated by the entire sport/activity. She knows the names of some of the best professional motorcycle riders out there. She points out motorcycles every time we see one in an shrill, shrieky, excited voice. She talks about needing to wear a helmet to keep safe. And about how she doesn’t ride motorcycles, but instead rides bicycles. LOL! Alex has set the DVR to record a motorcycle race this weekend to watch with her and tonight he was telling her which racers would be in it. Before bed, she brought it up again so I asked who her favorite motorcycle rider was and do you know what she said? She said “My daddy a favorite rider!” 😀 Alex was there and just beamed when she said it. Truly, it was the sweetest thing. She is in a bit of a daddy’s girl phase right now, too. They are so cute together!!

Stay tuned for an update to come regarding her latest MRI as well as her change in child care facilities!

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He’s a Master of….

Congratulations, hubby!

This past weekend Alex had commencement for his Tech MBA from the University of Washington Bothell campus. He has worked very hard for the last two years and we’re so proud of him!!

As a family, we make the decision to continue with his education despite Madeleine’s diagnosis with the theory that it won’t get any less stressful over time. He had just been accepted to the program and was month or so away from starting when Madeleine was diagnosed with cancer. Since I was out of work, a majority of her care fell on me, but I was fine with that. I knew it was important for him to power through his education so we could move on as a family. Boy, are we glad we made that decision because he is finally done!!!

After two long years in the program and 5 years of school since 2007, he had many long days and late nights. We’ve both seen promotions, cancer treatment, both of us starting new jobs at about the same time (a year ago) and a very demanding work/life balance for our family. However, we can check one box off the list! Alex has done it. 🙂 He is officially an MBA graduate!

Some of you might wonder why I am talking about myself in this post…and I am only because it’s been hard as a family. Much of his free time has been spent studying which drastically reduced his ability to spend time with us as a family. Drastically reduced his ability to help around the house, give me a break on the weekends, etc. However, he somehow still managed to get up early with her on Sundays when I was completely exhausted and needed an extra hour of sleep. He still somehow managed to help with housework when I was completely overwhelmed with my workload for work and was working 70+ hours a week. He is amazing and some might call him “super-dad!” I cannot state often enough how proud we are of him and how glad we are that he is such a hard worker for his future career and for our family.

So – that brings us to Sunday. Well, technically Saturday. We went over to Alex’s former co-worker’s house and classmate in this program. They’ve turned into good buddies and he was having a BBQ as a graduation party. It was really fun to be around a bunch of other couples with kids of similar ages to Madeleine (we don’t really get out much – see above for lack of family time notes 😛 ), and she thought it was awesome! Madeleine ran around with the other kids, ate dinner, entertained the baby and played with the dogs. We stayed out too late, but I think both Alex and I were having too good of a time to want to leave when we should’ve.

So mischievous – and she has her daddy’s eyes!

On Sunday much of the day was spent with Alex getting ready for graduation. He had to leave early so he could do the rehersal piece. I stayed home with M so she could get some sort of a nap in. Since we’d stayed out too late the night before and she woke up earlier than normal, she desperately needed it. The ceremony was nice, despite being unable to link up with Alex’s family whatsoever. Talk about a crowded arena! We finally found Alex in the mass of black robes on the floor and when he walked across the stage we cheered “Whooooooooooo!” M helped, even.

Afterwards I called my parents to let them know that he was officially a graduate and they were asking M all sorts of questions about what happened that day. I asked her, “M, what did daddy get today?” and in true 2 year old form she said “Daddy got a new hat! And a new book!” HAHA! I about died laughing. The new “book” was the blue cover that they put the faux diploma in. Oh, to see life out of the eyes of a 2 year old is a constant form of entertainment.

The fam

Afterwards we went to dinner with his family to celebrate, which was nice. Madeleine got to spend time with her Uncle Trevor and both sides of Alex’s family. We are so proud of you, honey!! Congratulations and here’s to many more years of success. 🙂

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2 years old – What’s happening?

2 Years Old!

Happy 2nd Birthday to our little girl! She’s no longer our baby – and is officially a little girl. Crazy how fast time flies. Apologies for the delayed birthday post. Between her surgery and my mom’s visit and then getting caught up at work and Halloween, it’s been a bit of a whirl wind! 🙂

We haven’t gotten in yet for her 2 year check up. We have it scheduled for a couple of weeks from now.  I need to stop referring people to M’s pediatrician! When I scheduled it he was scheduled a month and a half  out. Geez! That has never happened before – but the scheduler said he’s one of the really popular ones. I’m not surprised, he’s really great.

I do, however, have stats for her since she went to the doctor on her birthday for her eye surgery follow-up and on the 20th for her post-op from the most recent tumor re-section surgery. She was 24.6 lbs after the surgery. She lost about a pound and a half from the surgery, which isn’t surprising. She hardly ate at all for nearly a week, but I think she’s probably re-gained that by now. She’s about 33.5″ inches tall (I believe that’s what it was…I know it was 33.something…). It’s the first time they’ve measured her standing up instead of laying down! If the “double your height at 2″ trick works for her, she’ll be nearly 5′ 7”. I guess she’s not taking after her mommy with the petite jeans! Haha.

What has she accomplished developmentally at this point? A lot!!

  • She has become quite the chatterbox. We hear lots of 3 word phrases and even some 4 word phrases. Things like “kitty doing here??” (what’s kitty doing here) “Brush teeth now” “wonn a wosie song?” (Ring around the Rosie Song) “Tiger says grrrrrrr” “Go dowtairs watch Mickey” (Go downstairs and watch Mickey) “Birdie fwy in cwouds” (Birdies fly in the clouds)
  • Along with words comes counting. She is pretty amazing, if I do say so myself! She can count from 1-10, sometimes going to 11 and 12. We haven’t made it to the teens, yet. She’s been doing that for the last 2 months. September 3rd, to be exact. How do I know that? We were at my friend’s wedding reception and M just started counting. 🙂 Now she loves to count everything! And she can identify numbers visually, too. From 1-10.
  • We’re also working a lot on letters. She’s not identifying  very many of them, but she is quite comfortable with the ABC’s and we sing them often. When I say “we”, I mean, she actually sings along with me. 😀 It’s pretty darling.
  • Next comes singing. We sing, a lot! And she’s learning words to songs. For example: Her teachers sing a certain song to her. She came home one day and started singing it and making hand motions and we had no idea what she was doing! We didn’t know where she came up with it until we asked her teachers, but she now calls it the Farah Song. That’s her lead teacher’s name. 🙂 She also loves to sing Ring Around the Rosie and does the little dance/motions that go with that one as well. The Monkeys Jumping on the Bed (aka: wonn a wosie song), Daddy’s froggy song (aka: Froggy Song), The Marine Corps Hymn (aka:Daddy’s song), The Star Spangled Banner (aka: Pretty song).
  • Her world of animated movies has expanded greatly since her hospital stay. They kept her entertained when she couldn’t be active like she normally is. Shrek and Tangled are her two favorites. She used to call Shrek the “Donkey movie” but now she asks for it by name. Tangled is still the “horsie movie”, however. Rio is another one she enjoys a lot, it’s known as the “Birdie movie”. We don’t watch anywhere near as much as we did when she was post-op, but we will generally have movie time on a Saturday or Sunday where she gets to pick one to watch.
  • Mickey is still a huge obsession!! I let her watch an episode in the mornings before daycare while I’m gathering all of her things and getting her lunch put together for daycare. She can name all of the characters and sing the different songs.
  • Books are still #1 in this house, in terms of repeated activity. They are in basically every room in the house and she reads them constantly. In fact, she has so many books that her book bin and shelves are overflowing. I need to come up with a better storage solution. She reads them to herself, though, if I’m busy. It’s quite cute to listen to her ramble on about what she sees on each page.
  • She is learning about different animals and has all of their sounds pretty much mastered. She’s also learning about all sorts of different fruits and vegetables and what they look like/are called. We have been teaching her how to pick up after herself and how to take off her own shoes and put them on the shoe rack herself.  She also is quite good at identifying colors and shapes and has gone from not knowing quite what to do with some of her puzzles to being a master at them.
  • The kitty is still her BFF. She loves to let the kitty in the house in the morning (kitty sleeps in the garage so she doesn’t keep us all awake at night) and she’s very good at being gentle with her these days. Doesn’t mean she doesn’t still get excited and squeal and shriek and chase her around…none of which Calliope is too fond of. She’s even got her name down “Kai-pee”. 😀
  • In the last 6 months she began daycare and is thriving. It has really shown what a sweet disposition she has. Other kids will be mean to her, take her toys, push her, whatever and she doesn’t retaliate. She’ll get upset, but she doesn’t retaliate. It makes me a little mad on the one hand, because I don’t want other kids to pick on her. But on the other it makes me proud that she is such a sweet girl. I foresee needing to teach her to stand up for herself a bit in the future.
  • Her days at daycare are full of different activities. Today was picture day! She’s also been to an “Assembly” at which the Reptile Man did a show. She goes for walks, plays outside every day, does art projects, has singing time, reads, etc.
  • Her “redhead” personality is still in full force. She is quite stubborn and will freak out if she doesn’t get what she wants when she wants it. For example, when I am getting her out of the car to walk up to her class, she will ask to walk, and if I’m running late and try to carry her so I can hurry – screaming ensues. LOL! Generally I try not to do that, but sometimes it’s necessary.
  • As time goes on, she’s getting more and more snuggly. It is so awesome! I think it’s one thing to be snuggly as a newborn, but to have a little toddler that wants to snuggle with you and to know they mean it – that is awesome. I love her little hugs and kisses. In fact, in the hospital she couldn’t get enough of them – more than likely because she felt crummy, but she would grab my head with her little hands and pull it in towards her to get hugs and kisses.
  • We have been gradually introducing her to the potty. She sits on it in the evenings before bath time, and sometimes now she asks during the day. Daycare is gradually introducing it as well – offering her the potty and letting her try. So far she has had a number of successful attempts with us here at home, but none at daycare. In fact, Alex thought that he’d try this weekend to see how she would do if he put her in her Minnie Mouse undies. It went horribly with no successful attempts on the potty and she didn’t seem that interested in trying, so we know she’s not ready to try full time, but at least now we know. We’ll try again in a month or so to see if she’s more ready, then. But she is telling us when she’s gone and she does know what the potty is and what it’s for. So…we’ll see!
  • She is learning self-care. She rubs shampoo around on her hair and soap on her body during bath time. She’s also brushes her teeth and has a little stool at the sink which she stands on to get water on her toothbrush. Of course, I still have to help her with all of these things to make sure they’re correctly taken care of, but it’s fun to see her attempt and learn. Now she tells me that it’s time to brush her teeth, go potty and take a bath. 🙂
  • We’re finally seeming to be back on track after her surgery with regard to sleep. I’m hoping that continues! We may even have to push her bed time back, because the earlier I put her to bed at night, the earlier she wakes up. And when I’ve put her to bed about 1/2 an hour to an hour later, she seems to sleep until a more normal/reasonable time. When I’ve been putting her to bed at her normal 7:30, she seems to be getting up way too early (think 4-5 am early).
  • Madeleine is getting better with her manners. She knows to say please and thank you, although generally needs to be prompted because she doesn’t say it the first time. Right now we’re working on saying excuse me after any…gaseous emissions. She’s starting to get the hang of that, too. In fact, she said excuse me the other day when something was in her way while she tried to push her little grocery cart around the house.
  • She’s getting to a point where she remembers people that aren’t every day people for her. That’s pretty exciting. 🙂 For example, Uncle Paul came up and spent a couple of days with us and after he’d left, she kept asking about him. She always seems to be drawn to those that don’t gush over her. She likes people who play hard to get! Haha!
  • In terms of things we’ve been doing as a family – she got to visit the pumpkin patch for Halloween (more on that in a later post), she had a long visit from my mom after her surgery since I needed help so that I could work effectively from home while she was recovering. More on that in another post. Alex has taken her to the boats at Bellevue Square. For those not from the area, these are in a children’s play area at the mall that kids can climb and play in. We have gone berry picking, taken a trip to the Puyallup Fair and for mommy daughter pedicures. But mostly, we’ve just been busy with work, daycare, surgery, doctor’s visits and trying to get back on schedule and some sleep.
Now, for some additional photos. A friend had this shirt made for her. Isn’t it cute? And sparkly!! She loves sparkles – such a girl.

Whaaa? You want me to look at the camera??

And now, for some close-ups:

Still reading

Look at those pretty eyes!

You want me to do what?? Smile? Huh!

"Away!"

"You, pink Bear, you stay right there!"

 

I love this picture, because it's such a classic Madeleine face.

Hangin' out post-op.

I love this little outfit.

Ready to play outside!

One of her many birthday gifts. 🙂 She loves that thing!

Her cutie little rain jacket! 🙂 Out for a walk.

Ready to brush her teeth!

Time for mommy to help!

At the fair, checking out a fire truck!

Petting the miniature horses at the fair

"Cow say moooo!"

Hope you enjoyed! 🙂 I’ll try to catch up on posting about the last month or so.

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