When I first had Emma I added the tag “A whole new world” on this blog because I was so amazed by how much things changed when that little baby entered my life. When I added the tag I thought I might use it for a year, maybe two, and then I would settle into this parenting gig and the tag would just become “My world” instead of a whole new one.

Yeah, so I was wrong. Being a parent is like going spelunking. You go from room to room, cave to cave, hole to hole, and just when you think there can’t be anymore of the cave to see, you crawl through a little crevice in the rock and a new and glorious cavern opens up to you. (FWIW – I have only been caving once and hated it – parenting is a lot more fun.)

William and Emma have become (always were really) such delightful wonderful creatures. Full disclosure – Will is still going through a tough time sometimes related to being just-barely-four. He gets very emotional and very angry about nothing and everything all at the same time and sometimes all we can do is hold him and let him cry. I am convinced we are at the tail-end of this phase though – and the moments in between the tough ones are just wonderful. He is full of humor and love and delights in every little thing he learns from day to day.

Emma has become such a big girl. She is genuinely helpful to me around the house, really enjoys being a good older sister and helping her brother – especially when he is having a hard time, and she is generally a lot of fun to be with. She doesn’t like being asked to speak in French, but every once in a while she will come out with a phrase or a song and Mike and I sneak a look to each other across the table, in complete astonishment at what she is learning when we aren’t around. One day at the park her brother was being picked on by another boy and as they were leaving Emma turned to the boy and admonished him in French to stop messing with her brother. I wish I had been there to see his face.

Both kids genuinely love each other, despite those moments when they don’t. Both seem happiest when the whole family, including Jo, our au pair, are all hanging out together.

Parenting can be such an endurance test – especially with little ones – it can sometimes feel like you are just putting one foot in front of the other and getting through the day with as few tears as possible. Recently I have felt like our family unit has moved into a new phase along with the kids. We are enjoying each other more than ever and are relating as much more of a group, making decisions together about where to go and what to do, as opposed to Mom and Dad telling the little ones what the plans are. Things feel fresh and new in a way they haven’t for a while – I am so excited about the adventures we will have together in the coming years!

It feels like Spring in our house in so many ways.

This weekend – three weeks after he turned four – we took the training wheels off William’s bike. It was one year earlier than we did with Emma, but he had been tearing around on the training wheels for a while and something about the way he rode made us feel like he might be able to handle riding on two wheels. So we strapped on the gyrowheel and he took off. At first he was frustrated but after about four tries he was able to ride by himself and eventually the battery on the gyrowheel died and then he was REALLY riding by himself. This was taken in the park on the day after the wheels came off:

Wiliam - First day of school 2012

There is no way to really catch up sufficiently since my last post. No way to really update all that has happened since then so that when I look back years from now I say “Oooh right – I remember that summer!”

So I suppose I will skip summer completely (it was fine, a five day power outage, time spent at the beach and on the eastern shore and many hours logged at the pool) and move right along to fall, since I can mostly remember what has happened this fall so far.

Emma began kindergarten and William returned to pre-school.

Emma has fared pretty well at kindergarten. She is in a French immersion program, which means she learns the regular curriculum, only in French. All French, all the time. When we got into the program (via lottery, pure luck) I was concerned that Emma’s sweet little head would explode when she went to school the first day and didn’t understand a single. word. they. were. saying. Friends with kids in the program reassured me – “At that age everything is like a puzzle to figure out, so this is just one more puzzle.” And I felt more at ease.

Emma - First day of Kindergarten 2012

Emma came home the first day and… her head exploded. If nothing else, at least I can say that I know my kid. She was exhausted and looked like she was in total shock. Eventually the shock wore off and she begged to be put into an english speaking program, but we persisted, sending her back the next day. When she came home that second night, in between crying spells, she proudly announced to me that I am a “fille” and she is a “fille” but William is not. It took me a moment, but then I said (much too enthusiastically I am sure) “YES!! YES YES YES YES! WE ARE FILLES!”

There have been many more tears since then, as much about the transition to kindergarten I think as the language spoken there. But the tears have gradually lessened and they are being replaced by French songs and phrases she is starting to learn. And as she learns she gains confidence and enjoyment and so on and so on.

She is still mostly exhausted at the end of each day, so we are holding off on playdates or any after school activities for now, but overall she is much happier. She loves letters and numbers and can count to 15 in French and is close to learning the alphabet in French. She comes home and wants to write on EVERYTHING – pads of paper, receipts, wrapping paper, tables, placemats, books, herself – anything is fare game for her writing. She can write her name, William, Mommy and Daddy now without asking for guidance and is slowly adding words to the list. We aren’t supposed to be teaching her to read in English since they are working on teaching her to read in French at school, and we aren’t, but I also don’t think we are supposed to be discouraging her desire to write and learn letters, so we let her go.

William returned to pre-school without any incident or problem at all, except that he doesn’t attend five days a week. Just like last year, he asks every day (including weekends) if he is going to school today. When the answer is “No”, he wails “But I want to go to schooooool!” Sorry buddy – next year!
William - First day of school 2012

He has been having a hard time with temper tantrums lately, and when I say “he” I guess I mean “we”. He does them just fine – quite well really in comparison to other children’s pathetic attempts at true temper tantrums. He has it down to a science really – scream, pick up the nearest thing, fling it across the room, charge your sister and hit her on the head with both hands and watch the chaos around you. Good times. When he is not trying to deal with his anger, he is truly one of the sweetest, snuggliest children I know. Which makes the tantrums all the more difficult to bear. We are still experimenting with the best ways to deal with his anger, and the best ways to help him deal with his anger.

I will let you know how it all works out.

My son, of late, reminds me of a Chinese fortune cookie. Or at least what we used to do to a fortune cookie in college (of COURSE we don’t still do this now, we are GROWN ups now…)

So in case you don’t know it, here is the game: add “in bed” behind your fortune. So “You will have great success and make many friends” becomes “You will have great success and make many friends…IN BED”. See? Hysterical!! At least when you are 19 and maybe a little tipsy.

William has taken this to a new level. He has an addition to almost everything we say to him these days and thinks it is even funnier than we used to think our fortunes were.

Here is a little sample – a conversation I had with him yesterday:

Me: William, I need to get you dressed so we can go to the pool.

William: Go to the pool in a poopy diaper!!! HA HA HA HA HA

Me: William, no potty talk.

William: No potty talk in a poopy diaper. HA HA HA HA HA HA HA.

Me: *$#*&^&$*(

There really is nothing quite like life with a three-year old boy.

Massanutten 2012

William turned three this past Monday. I have been terrible at keeping up with updates, which I know doesn’t matter to a lot of you, but part of my reason for doing the updates is that I don’t have a baby book or other way of looking back at what he was like as a baby. My big plan was to show these to the kids when they got a bit older so they could learn about what they were like as kids.

Best laid plans. Hopefully he will forgive me.

So anyway – our sweet William is three. He goes to pre-school two days a week for two hours each day with Ms. Debbie and nine other kids. He absolutely loves it and on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays when he doesn’t have school he always asks “Do I go to ‘chool today?” When the answer is an apologetic “no” he gets very grumpy and quiet.

He is talking up a storm, has great motor skills and balance – although he hasn’t learned how to pedal his bike yet. He is great on his scooter, but the bike, not so much. Maybe this summer. At today’s annual check-up he weighed in at 32 pounds and 37 inches tall. 50th percentile all the way around.

He loves sports. All sports – soccer, football, hockey, basketball. Which is funny, because if you know Mike and me, you know that while we like watching sports (some of them anyway) we are not the most athletically inclined and certainly have not been introducing William to any sports on our own. I enrolled him in a “Coach Doug Sports” class where the little ones “play” a different sport every week and he loooooved it. Now he is able to identify what kind of sport a ball belongs to and spends countless hours kicking or throwing balls around the house. Which is lovely really. The throwing of balls. In the house. So far there has been no damage, but now that the weather is getting nicer we are hopeful that we can redirect his sports hijinks outside.

He is not a picky eater, although he plays with his food constantly. I know this is somewhat developmentally appropriate, but it still makes me nuts, which he knows and loves. His table manners are getting better though; at least now he can say excuse me and clears his own place after a meal.

His sleeping habits have gotten better – he goes to bed with no fuss at all, as long as I promise to come check on him “in a few minutes”. But most nights he wakes up in the middle of the night and comes into bed with us. Usually we are too asleep to get him back to bed, which has only reinforced the habit. The worst part of it is that he tends to kick us in the face or the belly, depending on which way he gets himself turned, which is not the nicest way to wake up. Something to work on with him I suppose.

He generally loves his big sister almost more than he loves the rest of us. In the mornings when he first wakes up (in our bed) and sees her, his first words are “EMMA! I love you!” to which she responds “I love you too William.” I mean it just doesn’t get much better than that right?

William is a amazingly happy, easygoing, lovable boy with a great sense of humor who flashes a smile at us multiple times a day. He likes being a big boy, except when I remind him that big boys sleep in their own beds, then he looks at me and says “I’m not SO big mommy, I’m still little.”

Touché sweet boy. Touché.

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