Milestone Summer

I love the saying “when you have kids the days are long, but the years are short.” As cliché as that is, it sure is accurate. This was our first real “summer break” since we were in school and you don’t realize how different it is until you’re in it. Pre-kids I remember when co-workers with kids would take spring break off and have to pretty much rearrange their lives for summer break, take vacations, etc. I didn’t get it, the year was just one continuous motion to me. Now we’re right on that train and it feels good to have that first year of learning (for Hannah and us) out of the way.

IMG_3251

One thing you think about, but can’t really plan for the first year, is what to do with your school-ager during summer break if you and your spouse both work. We looked at 100 options and probably missed 100 more, but ultimately did a mix of Y day camp and some other one-off camps. We figured a few things out this year and will be better prepared next year. The camps aren’t cheap, but the kids definitely don’t get cheated – Hannah was more exhausted afterward than she ever was after school. And the coolest part is she was able to develop some skills and friendships along the way.

img_3376.jpg

This summer Hannah had a couple of goals: learn to ride her bike without training wheels and pass the swim test. She didn’t exactly “declare” them, but they were both things she wanted to do and if I’m being honest, I didn’t really think she’d get to them. I’m not sure why that is, she’s relatively athletic and mature enough to do both, so I really shouldn’t have doubted her. I wasn’t discouraging obviously, I love nothing more than seeing her grow and learn, and those are two of the proudest moments I’ve experienced in my life.

IMG_3737

And what a huge lesson we learned. When your kids are really young you do so much for them and slowly they start to adapt and become more independent. Stating the obvious here, I know. But what you don’t realize is that at some point the learning process steps on the gas, so while she was seemingly so far off from riding a bike without training wheels or swimming competently, she picked them both up so much quicker than I expected. Another unexpected feeling, in addition to the intense pride and happiness for my daughter’s accomplishments, was a subtle, but real, sense of loss as they ride/swim away from you and while their newfound independence is something to be celebrated, as a parent you feel a tinge of melancholy as it’s one less thing they rely on you for. I imagine it to be a tiny fraction of the feeling parents get when their kid heads to prom or college or finally moves out – in the grand scheme of things, we’re just a foothill at the base of their newfound mountain of freedom.

IMG_3243

I almost forgot another big accomplishment from this summer – Hannah doing her first flip into a swimming pool! Here’s a video. Sure, she damn near hit her head a dozen times, but she’s didn’t so it’s all good! I love that she just went for it after seeing her cousin Bronson do it – one of the best feelings in the world is seeing your child face their fear and just kick ass.

IMG_3248

We also made it to a couple of water parks this summer and if you ever want to see 12-year-old Jake, just come with us next time. The kiddos had a blast, which is important I suppose, and we even got Sam in the water a few times! We went to Holiday World and Cedar Point water parks, both of which also have massive roller coasters, and Hannah kept asking when she could ride on them. She’s still a couple inches too short, but I’m amazed that she wants to go on them. And, of course, despite my lack of desire to ride them myself, obviously there’s no chance in hell I’m going to deny my daughter the opportunity. So next summer ol’ dad will put on his cargo shorts, Daytona Beach tank top, Asics walking shoes, and trying-to-look-cooler-than-I-am shades and take one for the team.

IMG_3278

Going to water parks and museums is tough with a 3-year-old, especially one who naps regularly. Logan lives up to his name sometimes (Wolverine) when he’s sleep deprived – it’s a good thing we had him declawed. Hannah can go strong though. After spending several hours at Holiday World we went back to the campground and spent another 2 hours on the waterslides and in the pool there. Side note: I highly, highly recommend Holiday World over Cedar Point if you’re looking for a water park within 5-6 hour drive. Of course, there’s also Wisconsin Dells, Kings Island, and other parks in Sandusky – eventually we’ll hit them all!

IMG_3286

Last year we tried t-ball, but this summer it was soccer, which Hannah enjoyed significantly more. It was fun seeing her and the other kids get more confident and aggressive as the summer went on. Due to lack of more qualified volunteers (which wouldn’t take much), I was a coach, and while it’s something I really enjoy doing, hopefully they’ll find a much better teacher of the game than me and I can be in charge of hydration and yelling “turn it around!” and “go the other way!” If your kid plays youth soccer you know what I mean haha.

IMG_3184

A couple more quick hits for commemoration sake. We had 2 guinea pigs for about 2 weeks. That was a fail. In less than 14 days the kids had rashes, we were out a couple hundred bucks, and Hannah’s bedroom smelled like a farm. Also, Hannah had her first “friends” birthday party and it was a great success – huge kudos to Sam for handling the vast majority of planning and running it. I got the chance to stop by, but had to work, so I missed out on most of the fun.

IMG_3672

Overall, it was a fantastic “first” summer. They should have them more often. Now it’s on to Christmas break and spring break planning. I realize now that our entire year, and lives, are dictated by school breaks. It’s going to be a fun ride, so here’s to continued adventures, farmers tans, and the creation of lifelong memories!

IMG_3693

Advertisements

September 6, 2018. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Observations and musings, Updates. Leave a comment.

School is in Session

Nine months ago we found ourselves in at a crossroads with Hannah and were weighing one of the biggest decisions first-time parents have.

IMG_1553

Sure, there have been other very important decisions to make in the past 5+ years. For instance, how long do we breastfeed, do we mix formula in there? When and how do we potty train her? Where do we send her to daycare and preschool? And not to mention all the medical issues big and small she’s dealt with (though she and we have been extremely fortunate so far with that stuff compared to what many others have to face). At the end of the day, though, those things all seem to work out and probably would have regardless of what decision we made.

IMG_1516
However, this summer we had to make a decision on when and where Hannah starts Kindergarten. She’s a June birthday and is now halfway to her 6th year of life, so we could have waited another year to start her. And up until a pivotal conference with her pre-K teachers we were comfortable giving her another year of pre-K so that she’d be on the older end of her class instead of one of the youngest. Her pre-K teachers were adamant that she start Kindergarten this year, but we weren’t sure. Our parents and other family members were all very supportive and helpful, but we knew that ultimately the decision was on Sam and I to make. I think we made the right call.

IMG_1831
But that was just half the decision, we still had to decide where she goes. Fort Wayne and our surrounding communities have some really strong options, way more than when we were kids. Public school either at FWCS or East Allen. Christian school. Catholic school. Lutheran school. Montessori school. And there are even more options with that. Sam and I are both proud products of FWCS and we really want to believe in the system, but we’ve all heard the negatives, and Sam hears them louder than I do since she interacts with parents at work day in and day out. Ultimately, after seriously the most intense discussions we’ve had in our marriage to date, we went with St. Joe Central, our neighborhood school.

IMG_1662
It’s still too early, in my opinion, to make an informed judgment on St. Joe just yet, she’s only halfway through her first year. However, while there have been some red flags out of the gate, so far it’s been a very positive experience, and it starts with her awesome teacher, Mrs. Townsend.

IMG_1841
What we do know, though, is she was and is absolutely ready for Kindergarten. I don’t think that would surprise anyone who knows Hannah, but after our first parent-teacher conference we knew we had made the right call. Her teacher said more nice things about Hannah in that 20 minutes than I imagine all my teachers said about me in my 14 years of school combined (we had Reading Readiness when I was in school). I managed to get pretty good grades thanks to the discipline and encouragement of my parents, but Sam was a much better student than I, so it’s no wonder that Hannah is off to a great start with a mom like her.

IMG_1346
One of the best highlights to me so far has been seeing her make strides in learning how to read. Every day she gets better and better at sounding out words and I’m continually amazed. But what made me (and Sam) even more proud was how her teacher gushed about Hannah’s behavior. She was really well behaved at daycare, and for the most part she is at home as well, but socially she’s flourished. She raises her hands and answers questions eagerly. Plus, she completes her work quickly and instead of not knowing what to do with herself, she goes and helps the other kids with their work and she does that on her own, we and the teacher never had to teach her to do that. I think that’s an innate thing that comes with being in our family – I grew up surrounded by professional coaches and educators and Sam has her share of family members who are natural teachers as well.

IMG_1873
This is a really long-winded way of bragging on my daughter, which I try to not do too much, but in this case, I think it’s going to be cool to look back and read this when she’s older and still helping others. I absolutely love that it’s in her mindset at such a young age.

IMG_0159-1

Other things worth mentioning for posterity’s sake: she loves gymnastics, going to the Y pool (working on going under water and swimming without a floaty), is super sweet with her little brother Logan (most of the time), and lost her first tooth in October.

IMG_1468

On a less serious note, Hannah continues to develop her love for art and potty humor. Everything is a canvas. If there’s a blank surface – scrap paper, cardboard box, receipt, coloring book, steamed up window, doesn’t matter what – she’ll find a writing utensil (or her finger) and draw a picture. She loves drawing pictures of her family and her attention to detail when it comes to hair and dresses is really neat to witness.

Hannahdraws

I’m not really sure where she gets her not-so-clean sense of humor. Couldn’t be from her dad, I am way too serious to make fart jokes! The challenge will be teaching her there is a time and place for irreverence –  but I just need someone to teach me first haha!

IMG_1866

December 11, 2017. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Observations and musings, Updates. Leave a comment.

M&M’s will never taste the same

7823DD17-AAD6-4F17-A473-89EC720AEB72_zpsrrrbmria (1)A few weeks ago, about a month after her 2nd birthday, Hannah started showing signs of being ready for potty training. She’d pull at her diaper and say something to that resembled “change diaper” and she showed interest in using the little pink toilet that we had sitting in the bathroom. One of my favorite stories that I’ll be telling until I can no longer talk is the first time she actually took off her pants and diaper and went into the bathroom because she knew she had to potty – she proceeded to put her hands on the wall, lean forward, and spread eagle over the toilet so she could “pee like daddy.” She was about as accurate as me too.

Because our beloved sitter Vicki wasn’t up for potty training toddlers (she had 2 others in her care) we decided to expedite the inevitable and enroll Hannah into daycare about a month and a half earlier than we planned. This wasn’t an easy decision, for many reasons, not least of which was the fact that we’d soon be paying about 50 more dollars a week at a daycare compared to what we were paying for in-home care. However, because it’s all about the munchkin and no longer about the Benjamins, we got her signed up and enrolled. After a series of snafus with our first choice (to put it nicely) we pulled a switcheroo, and now we’re loving her current “school.” (I know Joan will read this – we love your school as well and may end up there at some point 🙂 )

Hannah is now at Grace Point’s Kiddie Prep School and doing great. They are very hands-on with the potty training. We’re a week in and she’s having 1-2 accidents per day, usually one at school and one at home. It’s not going to happen overnight, we understand that, so it’s a fairly taxing ordeal. Every time we go through things like this I have more and more respect for my brother and sister-in-law – man, I just cannot imagine doing all this x2 with twins.

While the daycare is successful with getting Hannah to sit on the throne using stickers as collateral, we’ve resorted to mini M&M’s, fruit snacks, candy corn, whatever it takes. And talk about a rampant little mind – all I want her to do is take a leak and Hannah goes from being engrossed in Little Mermaid to dancing to dropping her drawers in the bathroom and sitting for half a second to running around the family room giggling pants-less to back to sitting on the potty for 3 seconds then to a meltdown about Ducky not being with her then another meltdown about Mommy not being in the room…then finally finishing that potty session. And this is every 30-45 minutes. Exhausting.

Something no one tells you until you’re in the thick of it is that it’s called “potty” training and not “potty and poop” training for a reason. That’s because apparently learning how to drop a deuce on a toilet is not the easiest thing for a 2 year old to grasp – even one that’s related to me! Not surprisingly, it’s much more comfortable, natural, and satisfying to just let it go in your diaper, or now in our case, undies. There really aren’t too many messier situations than changing a poo-filled pull-up diaper or size 4T underwear. It’s become second nature with the regular Pampers – just undo the velcro, lift the butt, and slide the diaper right out. Now, it’s much more complicated than that with pull-ups or panties. And by complicated, I mean shit gets everywhere. Maybe I’m just bad at it, but it gets on her legs, feet, my hands, the changing pad, the dresser, everywhere. A couple of times I’ve felt like the kid in Slumdog Millionaire who really wants that autograph.

We’re looking at the bright side, though. We really don’t want to have two in diapers at the same time. And the second one will be here before we know it (the OB’s crystal ball says March 10 as a matter of fact!)…so no pressure or anything Hannah. She’s well on her way, but we know there’s a long way to go, and this road isn’t exactly paved with gold.

September 9, 2014. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Observations and musings, Uncategorized, Updates. Leave a comment.

%d bloggers like this: