Ellie is a super cute charmer, but we try not to let her get away with too much.  She’s walking almost exclusively and just got her first pair of “real” shoes (until now she’s had leather slippers for maximum flexibility).

 

She likes to draw on the floor or table and wipe it up.  It’s good that I’ve learned not to yell about such things, but not so good that it’s simply a game . . . no matter how much one learns as a parent kids always challenge you further!

 

She doesn’t use the potty so much anymore, but I’m just taking it as it comes.

 

She can eat quite well on her own, drinking from a normal short glass and using a fork to stab food, though fingers are still preferred.  It amazes me what kids can learn given the chance and calm expectations.  Food is a great way to give a kid a multi-sensory craft without having to do anything extra other than cook what you always do for the family.  Yes, it’s a mess to clean up as they learn, but clean-up is part of any multi-sensory craft!

 

From our notes:

 

August

Vivienne accidentally trips Ellie.  Ellie was very angry and made it known by crying and pointing her finger at Vivienne.  Vivienne apologized and Ellie quickly forgave her, doing a simplified version of our forgiveness ritual: stroking her sister gently and hugging.

 

September

Ellie starts to communicate in two-word pairs, doing things as pointing down the stairs then pointing to herself to indicate that she wants to go out with us, too.  I do my best to respect these calm communication attempts in hopes that we reinforce the power of using calm words as opposed to throwing a temper tantrum.

 

Her signing vocabulary is probably the largest of any of our kids but she’s using speech, too.  She says “I selber” when she wants to do something herself (selber means (my)self  in German).

 

Says something that clearly means and sounds like “cows” while pointing to them.

Posted by harp on Saturday, September 24, 2016 at 1:15 pm | Edit
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Daniel is growing taller and thinning out.  He’s nearly always dry at night, but struggles during the day . . . and he had the most EC . . .

 

He’s a full participant in the creative play of his older siblings and doesn’t need me much when things are happening, though he’s a wonderful cuddler especially in the morning or when he’s hurt.

 

He enjoys being around for our “lessons” but chooses to play quietly rather than participate most of the time, with the one exception being copy work.  We all love copy work.  Each person sits and does work at his own level and it’s interesting and useful to us all.  It has a boring title, but the flexible framework it provides is priceless.

 

August

Looked at the clock and said “It’s three o’clock” and he was right!  (It turns out that he was lucky that time.)

 

Me: What’s your name?

Daniel: Daniel protoceretops

 

Said our memory verse from memory (Ephesians 6:1 Children obey your parents in the Lord for this is right.)

 

We’ve started 5 minutes of one-on-one time for each of the kids with each parent at bedtimes and everyone enjoys it, though it’s good we call it special time and not 1-on-1 time because we’re rarely uninterrupted.  Daniel likes to ask “What’s outside?” then look out the window with me and name things.  Then we fall back into the bed and he asks “What’s outside?”

 

Can spin a top.

Posted by harp on Wednesday, September 21, 2016 at 9:10 pm | Edit
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June

Joseph: Hey!

Janet: Hay is for horses.

Joseph: I said “hey” with an ‘e’ not with an ‘a.’

 

July

6 year molar (bottom right)

Backward jump rope with a piece of hose (extra piece cut off from our hose)

6 year molar upper right

2 loose teeth! (July 11)

Ties shoes on own

 

“I don’t want to drop trash. Dexter will choke.  No one in Switzerland should be like the Gambians.” (Joseph is looking over my shoulder as I type.  He saw I had written “dump” and said “That’s a type-o.  I said ‘drop’ not ‘dump.’  Sure enough, that’s what the note says . . . this was from over a month ago!)

 

“People might be therapods.”

“Why?”

“They have two legs and two hands.”

 

Janet to Stephan: What’s “kreidezeit” in English?

Joseph: cretaceous period!

 

August

“Does that embrass you?”

 

Joseph discovered The Unschoolers Handbook book that was in my room and read it when I didn’t know.  I found out because he said something about it’s great to homeschool because he can fix his mistakes and redo his work rather than just getting it wrong.

 

August 8th he lost his first tooth! Lower left

 

Inspired by a friend, we’ve been using the Yousician app for learning piano.  Joseph was regular with it (daily) until he started to teach himself to read real notation (around August 9th) and discovered the “lessons” function of our keyboard.  He taught himself the right hand of amazing grace and can read simples pieces out of our Faber and Faber piano method for kids.

Nothing replaces a human teacher, but sometimes the right technology can give the right start!  I’m excited to share music with him!

 

Joseph is now in homeschool 1st grade.  We started doing some official “lessons” together with all the kids and he’s really taken to it.  Since he was 1 ½ and teaching himself the alphabet and how to write it I learned not to direct his learning because he had his own strong direction and shut down when I interfered.  I pegged him as “does not like adult-led teaching” and there he remained (I had plenty of additional evidence, too).  Whether I’ve learned to change my style or he’s grown or something else, one thing is clear: he no longer fits in that box and it is therefore very dangerous to put a person in a box – they might just change!  He enjoys the short inputs and the guidance I’m giving – and he still has lots of time to direct his own learning.

 

His current passion is dinosaurs.

 

It’s a pleasure to be Joseph’s mother and teacher!

Posted by harp on Wednesday, August 31, 2016 at 6:40 am | Edit
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From our notes:

July

After hearing thunder outside Vivienne asked “Is that a dinosaur?”  You can tell what the kids are into these days . . .

 

August

She wrote her full name (Vivienne Linda Stücklin).  She writes her first name on a regular basis at home and at Sunday school.

 

In the Hello Kitty activity book she got from Grandma and Joy, Vivienne enjoys doing the paint-by-numbers.  After a few of them over the course of a few days she was able to read part of the instructions herself (“green” and “blue”).

 

She read the “LEO” sign on the road, but we think that was just remembering.

 

Vivienne is enthusiastic when we do our school lessons and is happy to trace letters, draw, sing, and she’s become a real monkey in our home “gym.”  She likes to hang by one arm and twist around – she does look like a monkey!

 

Vivienne loves doing things with me and often chooses to help me with work rather than play, though she is also growing more able at playing on her own.  She much prefers to play with her siblings or neighbors, though.

Posted by harp on Tuesday, August 30, 2016 at 6:41 am | Edit
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Ellie has grown so much!  She now chooses walking as a mode of transportation more often than not.  She uses many signs throughout the day including toilet, eat, water, please, milk, thank you, cheese, and want.  She is a communicator.  It is amazing to watch as she is by far the earliest and best communicator (as we can remember).

 

From our notes:

July

Ellie says “baba” for Bappe (Stephan).

Signs “water” and “more”

 

She stopped using the potty for a while, but now that she knows the sign for “toilet” she’s more willing to try but in any case she is aware of when she goes in her diaper because she’ll stop and use the sign.

 

August

Daniel spilled and Ellie brought us a rag to help clean it up without being asked.  I said “thanks” and she signed “thanks” back with a big smile.

 

She started choosing to walk some.

 

We have a ritual of apology and forgiveness where the kids give a hug when they say “I forgive you.”  I had asked Daniel to apologize for hurting Ellie and she gave him an “I forgive you” hug.  How do I know it?  I don’t know – she’s just a clear communicator!

 

At 13 months and not comfortable walking, she climbed up the bracciation ladder confidently and quickly.  She went high enough to hit her head on the cross ladder and then came down on her own.  I was nervous, and when it was over we were all proud!  (Of course she chose to do this when we were trying to get to bed – the kids always know when to pull out their greatest feats of physical and intellectual growth.)

 

I placed a pizza baking sheet near her and she said something that clearly sounded like “don’t touch.”  Her signs are often accompanied by vocalizations (tzs for please, for example).

 

She drew on the gym mat and I gave her a cloth and she wiped it up.

 

The best signs she knows are “yes” and “no” which she just does with a nod or a shake.  It is a wonderful blessing to have a 14 month-old who can clearly express “yes” and “no.”

 

She signed “father” and said “dada.”

 

Once she started crawling up the stairs thought we were all in the living room.  I asked if she wanted to go to bed. She shook her head “no.”  I asked if she needed to pee and she nodded “yes.”  I took her to the pot and she peed!  This was the beginning of her reawakening of interest in using the bathroom.

 

In a word, she’s a charmer and I’m enjoying each stage so much more than I ever was able to before (by choice and experience).  I write that so when I look back later I can assure myself that I DID enjoy my kids when they were little!

Posted by harp on Saturday, August 27, 2016 at 4:04 pm | Edit
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Daniel is three!  It’s hard to believe he’s only three.  He’s been talking for so long and so well and plays with his older siblings in much the same ways they do.  Sure, he drags his feet when it comes time to use the bathroom or put on his shoes, but he’s capable, just likes to take his time . . .

 

We had family over for his birthday and enjoyed warm sunny weather and play outdoors and in.  He didn’t talk as much about his birthday coming up as Vivienne did, but he did keep saying “When I am three, I’m three.”  That’s for sure!

 

From our notes:

 

July

He can climb in and out of the play pen (just for fun – Ellie sleeps there).

 

He is more of a deliberate speaker, but will still substitute English if he doesn’t know the German.  For example, “Ich bin share-a das for Ellie.”

 

Some German grammar spills over to English for a while before getting corrected.  “I’ll put it there in.”

 

August

He wrote his name!  I wrote in all caps and he copied.  So fun!

 

Once Ellie fell and nobody saw it but Daniel.  She was bleeding from the mouth and we asked him what happened.  He was able, after a few attempts, to describe and show us what happened.  That was quite impressive for a not-yet-three-year-old!

 

Speaking of deliberate speech, I had told Daniel that on his third birthday the potty would disappear and he would use the toilet because three-year-olds don’t need potties.  The next day he said “When I am three years old the potty will . . . disatape . . . disappear!”

 

He often thinks before he talks, which makes it very easy to interrupt him because nobody knows he’s trying to say something.  We are more aware of this, however, and that helps.  It was quite frustrating for a while to have him suddenly burst out in frustration saying “I’m talking!!” when he had been completely silent!

 

Daniel loves jumping on our trampoline (indoor, but fairly large and with bungie cords not springs) and running after balls.

 

He plays very well with Ellie and she loves playing with him.  He is still sometimes too rough with her, but not very often, and will apologize right away if he’s hurt her.  He was one of the first people Ellie would walk to.

 

Daniel has started drawing people and making pictures to give to others.  He currently saves all of his money (except for some occasional very generous gifts to God) and has over 10 Francs in his savings.

 

Joseph says he gave Daniel a gorgosaurus for his birthday.

 

Daniel is quite social and likes people with people, and also hanging out with the grown-ups when they talk.

 

He is quite deliberate (i.e. slow) in eating, dressing, and all manner of things that adults would rather he be quicker at, but his laid-back nature is a good thing when it comes to sibling difficulties.  He can still get quite upset, and he can sometimes use his calm to intentionally push his siblings buttons, but for the most part he is willing to play “peaceably.”

 

Daniel got a tricycle for his birthday because we realized that thought he can balance just fine on his pedalless bike, he doesn’t know how to pedal.

 

We are so happy you are part of our family, Daniel!  We love you!

Posted by harp on Thursday, August 18, 2016 at 10:35 am | Edit
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Ugh, I have NO notes on Vivienne!  She continues to struggle to grow in staying calm and in control, but is wonderfully generous and thoughtful when she is “herself.”  She enjoying drawing, painting, dancing, and playing with others.

 

She loves sitting next to Ellie at meals so she can feed and take care of her.

 

For project time she often wants to bake, and she always wants to do things with me.

 

She’s letting her hair grow out (I think that means no more cutting her own hair – phew!) and is patient enough to let me put it in ponytails or I even braided her hair once.  Wow, we have a little girl!

Posted by harp on Friday, July 22, 2016 at 1:19 pm | Edit
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So none of my children managed to walk before 13 months, not that it matters, I’m just sayin’ . . . she will take a few steps every few days but she is in no hurry.  I think it’s because she’s afraid of some overenthusiastic sibling pushing her over . . .

 

All of my notes for this month have to do with her mouth.  She got her last incisor (lower left) and two upper molars this month.

 

Ellie says “ciao ciao” and “good night” quite clearly in context.

 

That’s the end of my notes, but in general she is quite communicative.  She’s started signing “please” and “finished” at meals and I really have to get my act together or none of my kids will have learned baby sign despite having minored in sign language in college.  I am working through my guilt of not having a second chance to give at least one of my babies all the opportunities I imagined I would before actually becoming a parent . . .

 

The biggest change this month is that we night-weaned Ellie (using this helpful article as a starting point, for those who’ve asked me).  She was ready for it, hardly complaining at all (a few 10 minutes cry sessions was it).  She never want to go to bed or back to bed, but if I calmly show her it isn’t time to get up and nurse she cries less than a minute before falling asleep again.  I am beside myself with excitement having the bed to myself for the time being.  (Stephan is still sleeping with the older kids . . .)  I have more energy for the kids when they sleep at night, so we’re all enjoying the changes.  Still, it’s weird to think that the baby stage is nearly over – it was SO intense it felt like it was a permanent sentence!

 

But this is about Ellie, not me. ;)  She is no longer deathly afraid of the water – she even walked through the shallow pool holding my hands.  She loves playing at the sink while I cook.

 

She’s still a happy and charming little girl.

Posted by harp on Thursday, July 21, 2016 at 2:37 pm | Edit
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This is Daniel’s last month of being a two-year-old.  I love two-year-olds!  Aside from the toilet needs (he’s actually mostly dry at night but is too busy playing during the day to always make it on time), it’s such a delightful age of discovery and growing ability.  He uses the workspace tools alongside the others and mostly knows not to draw or cut furniture and clothing . . .

 

He is quite able in communication, using full sentences in German and English (no High German yet).  He is usually easy to understand despite using “t” for “k” and some other consonant replacements.  It makes “trying” and “crying” sound the same, but context is usually enough.  He speaks deliberately, which is more like Joseph at that age than Vivienne, our prattler.

 

What is super sweet is how much he and Ellie get along.  When Ellie wakes up she can’t wait to wake up her “dada” and Daniel responds well to her climbing on him as a wake-up.  They smile and coo and laugh and it’s the sweetest picture in the world.  Often Daniel claims Ellie is saying something that we haven’t noticed, like “Ellie said thanks.”

 

Whenever the weather has been warm enough Daniel likes to splash in the kiddie pool with Vivienne.

 

He’s starting to lose his afternoon nap, or I don’t have the patience to make him do it.  I’ve started telling the older three they can go where they please during “independent time” but they have to stay quiet, and I retreat to my bedroom for a little rest and down time.  It works fairly well and at least I get some rest before they need me again.  One of Daniel’s favorite things to do in this time is play Mommy and kid with Vivienne in the attic.  Often Daniel is the mommy.

 

He likes running around, wresting, kicking and throwing balls, and playing with cars.

 

Argh, again my notes are pathetic.

 

June:

He calls his bathing suit a “babing soup.”

 

July:

He watches and learns from everything around him.  Joseph has being learning about American money on ABCya.com games and later when Joseph said he wanted to earn a 20 Franc bill he looked at me seriously and said “I want 10 Francs and a dime.”

 

He is irresistibly cute with his cubby red cheeks and comic manner.  He has a slight tendency toward being spoiled, but he’s much better than he was during Grandma and Dad-o’s visit because we are more aware of how he can charm everyone and get away with stuff.  The challenges of parenting never go away, do they?

Posted by harp on Saturday, July 16, 2016 at 9:41 pm | Edit
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Wow.  The baby years are so intense.  Now my youngest is over one and I’m not pregnant.  It’s like I’m coming up for air for the first time in six years and I can’t believe how much my family has grown – including Stephan and me!  What an intense school life is.  How sweet the rewards of long and unrewarding hours of comforting babies, disciplining toddlers, loving the kid behind the temper tantrum, and patiently letting them “help” in the kitchen!

 

Joseph is an able, happy, curious, helpful boy and we are so thankful that we get to cherish life with him!  His academic abilities are still advancing at an unusual rate, thanks in large part to online resources that he can navigate himself since he can read.  The world is so different from when I homeschooled.  I am so excited to experience homeschooling in a whole new way.

 

Joseph has grown tremendously this year in his social skills.  He is still outgoing, but more sophisticated in his “bids” – ways of engaging strangers and friends.  He can entertain long hours by himself still, but always enjoys the time he gets to spend with neighborhood kids, folks at church, and visitors.

 

Joseph wanted to enter 1st grade on his birthday, and I told him he couldn’t do that if he were going to regular school, but in homeschool kindergarten he could decide to be done with kindergarten and start first grade, so I guess our first homeschool year is finished (though officially we have one more week.)  He was happy and accepting that he was in homeschool kindergarten and not at a school like all the other kids he knows (I’m working on getting together more often with other homeschoolers – but they aren’t exactly close!).  This was a great relief as he was set on going to “Gersag school” – though of course, if you do choose public school you don’t get that sort of choice and neither where we lived before no where we are now would he have been sent to Gersag.

 

Enough technical stuff.  Joseph had a great birthday, enjoying his treasure hunt to his LEGO fire boat and spending the rest of the day putting it together in the new (old) large table in the attic.  We had Graham Gem muffins as cake and Stephan took the day off so we could all be together as a family – Joseph’s request.

 

Most of my notes on Joseph go into the homeschool report, but there are a few from the “Cute Things” list.

 

May

Joseph had mono and had a hard time resting enough to recover, but did finally get over it.

 

“Gave ball back to ellie” – a note Joseph wrote, which goes with the note he wrote in Ellie’s column: “gave Joseph ball”

 

Wrote an email in Swiss German to Bappe.  We’ve never taught him how to write Swiss German.  I’m not even sure if he’s seen it, but he did a pretty good job trying phonetically.

 

June

Brachiates across the ladder with one hand per rung.

 

Stumbles onto Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Asks, “What is a triolgy?”

Stephan: “A trilogy is three books that belong together.”

Joseph: “But it can be four!”

Stephan: “The Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a joke trilogy.”

Joseph: “Why is that funny?”

 

While he still doesn’t get plenty of jokes, he’s starting to appreciate them – again a sign of social growth!

 

Joseph still enjoys origami, Legos, biking, reading, things that are fast, cooking, DuoLingo (language learning), ABCya.com games, math drill programs (Big Brainz, Xtra Math), and recently again Khan Academy and much more.  Perhaps his favorite thing to do is help Daddy with projects – especially ones involving wood.

 

Joseph rarely is out of control and when he’s upset he can calm down.  He doesn’t feel things as intensely as Vivienne, but can still be quite disappointed.  He is good at respectful negotiation, and most of the time has a good attitude.  He can ask at any time to earn media time, and more often than not he is willing and able to do the task I set for him, like taking down the recycling to sort or cleaning up his workspace or a room.

 

My days with Joseph are like having a little adult around.  He can entertain himself, help others, and communicate respectfully and well.  Of course he has much to learn in terms of competencies and social skills, but he is well on the right path and I enjoy his company very much.  Sometimes I feel bad that I have to focus so much attention and energy on the others that I don’t have much quality time with him.  He’s left to his own devices a lot, but I am sure that is also good for him.  I hope to be more intentional about time with him this year so we can enjoy each other more!

 

Joseph: When I am six, may I get up at 5am?

Janet: Yes, you may.

Joseph:  When I am seven, I want to get up at 4:30am.

Janet: Do you think the older you are the earlier you get up?

Joseph: Yes.

 

Joseph has always been an early riser but I guess my model of early rising is making an impression (though I only get up around 5:15).

 

Maybe we’ll have more quality time in the mornings!  Or maybe I’ll let him binge on media time before breakfast.  If he learns that getting up early means getting in the things that are important to him, then maybe that’s not a bad lesson.  What do you think?

 

We love you, Joseph!  We look forward to watching you grow in the coming year!

Posted by harp on Tuesday, June 28, 2016 at 5:52 pm | Edit
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Vivienne started doing simple math!!!  This is terribly exciting for me as I feel I’ve neglected her education with all the fuss over Joseph’s early abilities and trying to get permission to homeschool.  She’s managed to pick up a good intuition, and though she is not confident in her abilities (who could avoid slipping into the fixed mindset of “my brother is the one who can read and do math – not me”?) she solved several simple problems with either fingers or unit cubes (addition and subtraction less than 10).  She did the problems in order to complete a paint-by-numbers sheet.

 

She is learning that she can learn and that’s the best lesson I can teach!

 

Other evidence:

“I’m learning to be a mommy,” as she munched some salad, “because mommies like salad.”

 

Vivienne has started to be able to play in the attic by herself during quiet time.  More than fifty percent of the time it is still a struggle, but she doesn’t really need the sleep anymore and she is starting to figure out how to use the time on her own.  She’s only lasted longer than hour once, though.

Posted by harp on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 at 9:00 pm | Edit
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Ellie is a year old already.  She still feels so tiny!  We celebrated by taking all day to put together her gift: a WaterPlay system of canals and locks.  Joseph did most of the assembly on his own.

 

In the evening Stephan’s folks and his sister and the cousins came for playtime and food.  Chocolate cupcake crumbs were everywhere and everyone had a great time.

 

Simple.  The joy of family.  Collapse into bed!  It was a good day for Ellie.

 

We love you, Ellie!  You are bright like your name and spread sunshine over our days!  You always wave to your father as he rides to work and insist on watching him from the doorstop as he bikes away.  You reach out for hugs when your siblings wake up in the mornings, and you rest your head on your mommy or daddy’s shoulder when you need a little rest and love.  We’re so thankful for you!

 

May:

Ellie can go up and down the stairs easily (she purposefully turns around to go down backwards).

 

June:

Joseph wrote, “put away dice,” which means she put dice in the square hole I put in the lid of a yogurt container – great entertainment!

 

Daniel is the only one with a name (besides “mama”) and she calls him “da da.”  It is so precious to see her reach out to him when he gets up in the morning or is finished with a nap.  She adores him!

 

“eh eh” means no, but it also means yes if she doesn’t shake her head or if she claps her hands.  Hand clapping can also mean she wants to use the potty.

 

She sometimes joins us in hand-holding for mealtime prayers.

 

She ways goodbye and says “tsch” and use it once to indicate that she wanted to upstairs and take a nap.

 

She started walking while holding someone’s hands and loves the activity whenever someone is willing to indulge her.

 

Her 2nd lower right incisor arrived.

 

June 14th she started experimenting with standing without holding on to anything.  Look ma! No hands!  And she is so proud of herself.

 

She has a conscious, or the desire to please.  If I walk in the room and she has something she thinks she’s not supposed to have she startles then offers whatever it was to me with a smile.

Posted by harp on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 at 9:00 pm | Edit
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Daniel is as cute as ever.  His speech continues to develop but he still has some cute sayings.

 

“Upslide down”

“e blitzli” (e bitzli – a little)

 

He can read the numbers on a die.

 

He usually puts his allowance (15 rappen for each dry night) in his savings because he likes to drop the coins in the slot, but once he kept it long enough to buy a doughnut at Lidl.  Joseph and Vivienne also bought a doughnut each that day.  It’s a good thing we go shopping in the morning when it’s not too busy. ;)

 

He zipped his sweater-jacket all by himself.

Posted by harp on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 at 8:59 pm | Edit
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April:

Vivienne did a handstand (not against a wall).  She flops down into a semi-bridge and it looks painful, but she doesn’t seem to mind . . .

 

She read all the numbers on the 100 chart with just a little help at the multiples of ten.

 

She can hang by her knees on the brachiation ladder.

 

She can sing the ABC song.  Like the #’s she’s kind of picked things up without much direct work.  She doesn’t have the patience/obsession that her brothers do to learn these things, but clearly she learns them in her own way anyway.

 

“I want to be married with a kind of aminal flower on the ring.”

 

She learned to ride the bigger bike we got for her.

 

She can move from one rung of the brachiation to the next.  She did it with no swinging – just pure strength.

 

May:

Goes the length of the brachiation ladder.

 

Rides Joseph’s bike (Joseph’s note).

Posted by harp on Saturday, June 4, 2016 at 11:27 am | Edit
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April:

 

Ellie says “bye bye.”

 

Signs “potty” (though she hasn’t since).

 

Stood for 1 second without support.

 

Ellie waves and blows kisses (putting her hand over her mouth) when people say bye or tschuss.

 

She learned to crawl up and down whole flights of stairs.

 

May:

I handed Ellie a blue rag (the kind we wipe spills off of the floor with) and she started wiping the floor and looked proud of herself.

 

“gave Joseph ball” – Joseph’s note.  Joseph “gave ball back to Ellie”

 

Ellie reached up to me and said “mamama.”  She often uses “mama” for me now.

Posted by harp on Monday, May 23, 2016 at 2:25 pm | Edit
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