Vivienne continues to grow at an incredible rate.  She’s much taller, and much more able to speak full sentences in English and German, often imitated more complex saying that I use and in the correct context.  She still loves to whine and as it literally makes my skin crawl and my will-power vanish and my tempter rise to the surface, I’ve been working very hard at never responding to a request until she reduces the whine at least a little, and as much as I can, insist the whine disappear completely.

 

Vivienne is a confident rider on the walking bike, and can lift her legs and coast a few seconds.  She has good endurance walking as well.  She likes doing exercises with me (I only do DVD’s now – I’ve given up on running at this stage in life – and as a bonus aside, I did a Yoga DVD today which doesn’t use weights, but Daniel went to the cupboard and got them out for me).  She still loves to help and is getting better at accepting when I don’t have the patience to let her help.  She looks after her brothers, especially Daniel, holding his hand as they walk outside and feeding him at dinner time.

 

At the pool she likes to practice floating, and recently, when we went swimming with Daddy, she released her hands while in the shallow pool so that she was floating briefly on her own.  She swam briefly with the noodle supporting her chest (going up under her arms), and in general is making slow, but steady progress on our pool trips (every Tuesday).

 

Every injury, big or small, gets the same drama.  She got stung by a bee and cried no longer than any other “incident.”  The other day she stuffed a half peanut up her nose.  Thankfully, she was able to blow it out . . .

 

She loves scissors and cutting paper into tiny bits with her pink zig-zag scissors.  She still likes to draw in books . . .

 

We’ve started reading more together, and sitting at the piano playing through some songs in a beginner book.  Fun!

 

She’s in an always-want-Mommy phase, which is sweet, but I have to find some space, too, so we’re working on her falling asleep without one of us.

 

She does mostly great during the day staying dry and nights are coming along.  No more diapers for her.  Hurrah!

 

Some cute quotes from the past month:

 

“I want a Hello Kitty shirt like God.”

 

After a fight with Joseph I said “you need to make peace, Vivienne.”  She responded with “I wanna piece o’ gum.”

 

I think I haven’t shown a proper balance of the delight she brings compared with the challenges.  We couldn’t be happy without her!

Posted by harp on Monday, September 22, 2014 at 1:53 pm | Edit
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Daniel is such a delight at the moment.  He has steadily worked on his walking and it is now his preferred mode of transportation.  He can walk up ramps, but asks for a hand coming down.  He does our stairs up and down holding onto the railing.  This makes me nervous as he never got as skilled at backing down the stairs as his siblings did, and he’s already done a nose-dive (but didn’t slide all the way down, thankfully – and hopefully it was a good lesson not to throw shoes down the stairwell . . .).  I love watching a chunky baby waddle along, fall, get up, waddle, sway, catch himself, and all with a delighted smile and laugh of a free spirit tasting flight for the first time.  He’s getting steadier by the day, and can even kick a balloon.  Daniel’s our earliest walker, and we’re all enjoying it!

 

Right along with the walking is his talking.  Nobody but family can understand him, but I am certain I have heard versions of Mommy milk, thank you, that, no (actually, he shakes his head and vocalizes “uh uh”), I love you, ouch, wow, hi, banana, and his favorite “that was easy” in imitation of the Staples easy button.  I mentioned before that that was his “first word” but he wasn’t communicating, well, that is ancient history now!  Daniel is keen on communicating, and he is patient and persistent about getting what he wants.  Nearly every day he tells me when he wants to blow bubbles on the balcony.  He’ll come find me, somehow indicate he wants me to come with him, then takes me to where the bubbles are kept and points up saying “da, da” then makes sure I follow him to the balcony and open the doors for him and stay there to blow bubbles.  It is so fun to have an early communicator.  I can’t remember now what Joseph and Vivienne were doing at this age, but we’ve had Daniel around for a year and it’s so nice to have him really engaged with us.  He plays more and more with his siblings, and they mostly take good care of him.  The other day I noted that I sat and drake my morning coffee while Vivienne and played with Daniel putting dominos in the home-made bank made from a yogurt container.  Ah, luxury.

 

I’ve taught him a few tricks, since he likes to be social.  If I say “give me a hug” he throws his hands back and lunges forward.  If I say “give me a kiss” I get a big, wide-open mouth smooch of love.  If I say “give me five” he slaps my hand (often five times!).  If I shush him he puts his index finger to his mouth and blows – so cute!

Posted by harp on Monday, September 15, 2014 at 9:48 pm | Edit
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Vivienne grew a great deal over vacation.  We’ve been working for a long time on switching to a “normal voice” instead of whining, and it has finally started to bear fruit.  As soon as we got back from vacation we stopped all diaper wearing, and it’s been going remarkably smoothly day and night.  We still have an accident or two each day but the nights are dry 3 out of 4 (with me sleeping with her so I can help her fully wake up and go when she needs to – but she always stirs when she needs to go).

 

Those changes in self-care make her less work and more of a help each day.  Once Daniel and I were slow walking down the stairs to do laundry, and when we arrived Joseph and Vivienne were taking care of it as a team.  It’s amazing that my little helpers are actually providing real help sometimes!  Parenting just gets better – or so it seems from here.  All three kids will happily play together for decent stretches of time (minutes, not hours, mind you).

 

Vivienne LOVES helping, be it dishes or laundry or shopping and she wants to be with Mommy every minute and does not like to see me leave the house without her.  It doesn’t mean she’s stuck to my side, though.  She can be quite independent if she knows I’m within calling distance and right now she is shopping with Daddy and had no trouble leaving me behind.

 

We went swimming just the kids and myself this week so they don’t lose their skills, and Vivienne enjoyed floating and splashing and though still not totally comfortable with putting her face under, she does try occasionally.  She’s come quite a ways!

 

Viv likes to look at books and describe the photos and tell her own stories – like I did as a kid!  She also likes music and can sing fairly well on pitch.  Family music time is something on my radar when thing settle down after vacation.

 

That’s the quick version!

Posted by harp on Saturday, August 23, 2014 at 3:16 pm | Edit
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We celebrated Daniel’s birthday on the weekend with his cousin A, who turned one a few days after him.  We had fondue and played with balloons and enjoyed the company of Grossvater and Grossmütti, fresh from their return from North America.

 alt

On his actual birthday Stephan had the day off, as it is Maria’s ascention and we are in a Catholic canton.  We had good family time and went to the farm to get milk, look at the cows and goats, which Daniel would hardly remember because it’s been so long, and stopped at the playground on the way home.  Daniel did the slide sitting up by himself and is getting bolder about taking steps on his own.

 

Daniel has four upper and four lower teeth and a melt-your-heart smile.  He is cuddly and gives great hugs, and loves playing peek-a-boo.  He loves being with his older siblings when they have the patience for his exploratory ways.  He’s down to one afternoon nap and we’re working on him being able to fall asleep in the playpen on his own.  Still in diapers for the most part, we’ve done enough EC that he’s happy sitting on the potty and we catch the majority of is poos.

 

He opens and closes his hands and clicks his tongue to say he wants to nurse.  We haven’t figured out his other words, though I does open and close his hands to mean he wants something.  He imitates the easy button from target, which says “that was easy.”  Cute, but it doesn’t help on the communication front.  Generally, he’s a happy baby, or I guess he’s a toddler now.  He only gets really upset if someone takes something away from him but many times even then he’s okay with it.

 

Amazingly, he’s mostly night weaned because he sleeps with Daddy while I look after the older two (who now sleep in the same bed in the kids’ room and V is night potty training).  I am looking forward to enjoying a baby that doesn’t necessarily need me at night, but currently I’m still catching up from vacation sleep-deprivation.

 

Daniel still has his thin blond hair, which remains uncut from birth.  He’s a chucky monkey, but that doesn’t keep him from moving fast.  He likes exploring, but is decent about obeying “no” and “come.”  He can be entertained by watching the goings on and always wants to be a part of dinner time and prayer.  He’ll hold hands during the prayer and after the “amen” waves his hands up and down and breaths in and out excitedly.  He enjoys trying all foods, but I would say still gets his main calories from nursing.

 

We can’t imagine live without our little light, Daniel.  At some point I passed from the stage where everything about parenting felt like thankless work to enjoying a lively home with three smiling gems (who still take a lot of work and aren’t always delightful, for the record).  I’m enjoying the baby stage a lot more this time around, and love watching Daniel grow and learn.

 

We love you so much, Daniel!  Happy birthday!

Posted by harp on Friday, August 22, 2014 at 12:51 pm | Edit
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Vivienne continues to blossom in language and sociability while here.  Potty training is on and off.  Viv loves watching all the happenings and work going on here and wants to help whenever she can.  She is gaining confidence in the pool, though won’t yet blow bubbles or put her face in the water.  She and Daniel have started playing together for sustained periods of time, for example, by playing peek-a-boo and playing crawl-chase.  Soon all three will entertain each other so well I won’t have to worry about them at all. ;)

Daniel is all smiles and loves his grandparents.  He does well when I run errands alone, and I can sense he knows the special connection in name to his Grandfather, being both Porters in middle name.  Daniel has started standing without support for brief moments, mostly unintentionally, and likes walking while holding onto hands.  Crawling is still the way to get anywhere, though.  This time I’m really hoping he’ll walk earlier rather than later.  It’s just easier to be out with a baby who can walk and stand rather than crawl through the dirt!  Daniel got a case of the croup one night and was miserable (I didn’t get to sleep until 4am).  I have to say I prefer the Swiss method of letting the cold air in than the Florida method of sitting in a steaming shower.  Both work on the cough, but bundling up for the cold is much nicer than sweating in a steaming bathroom.  Daniel is doing much better.  All in all we’ve enjoyed great health on this trip, and are thankful for it!

Hot and happy.  That sums it up for Dan and Viv here in Florida!

 

Update: I forgot I had some notes from before our trip with me.  Here they are.

Joseph: “Uncle Jay uff Schyzerduetsch isch Unggle Jot” (Jot is “j” in German)

 

Vivienne rode the walking bike to church May 25th.

 

May 15th I have a note that Daniel woke up, ate some imaginary item in his sleep and fell asleep again sitting up.  May 20th he very clearly said “Mamamamama” toward me.  May 22nd he got his second upper left tooth.  Starting with Grandma’s visit, Daniel has been quiet during the prayer before meals, then explodes in excitement after the Amen.

Posted by harp on Wednesday, July 2, 2014 at 7:47 pm | Edit
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Where to begin?  We are enjoying a lovely time in Florida with my folks.  Joseph is currently having a blast in the pool with Dad-o.  With the other two finally asleep I’ll attempt some computer work besides email.  What a time it’s been!  I’d forgotten how hot Florida is.  Especially when the air conditioning is broken.  The poor kids (okay, baby awake, but Grandma is taking over) sweat like crazy at the playground and the local kids look cool as cucumbers.  The body does acclimate to the climate it lives in.

 

So on to reflecting on Joseph.  Where to begin?  He is such a treasure.  I suppose I could start by saying that his sister saved his life yesterday.  We’ve been in the pool nearly every day for three weeks and Joseph is confident on the steps and when in a tube so I’ve stopped watching them like halks.  Of course there is always an adult In the pool with them, and usually two or three, but yesterday Dad-o was playing with Daniel in the water and I was floating in the deep end with Vivienne on me when she started saying “Joseph! Joseph!” I turned and looked and Joseph was in the water a foot from the edge of the pool with water up to his forhead.  He was trashing, but going nowhere.  I started making my way towards him but with holding Vivienne wasn’t going fast so I called out to Dad-o, who deposited Daniel at the edge of the pool, dove over to Joseph, put him on the edge and dove back to Daniel as by that point I was there as well.  A cough or two later Joseph was recovered and crying heartily.  It is so scary how things things can happen.  I didn’t know there was trouble – he made no sound as he struggled in the water.  That moment could have ended up very differently.  I am so thankful for God’s protection and Vivienne’s good sense and care for her brother.  We could have lost Joseph two days after his fourth birthday.  We could loose our children at any time.  But I shouldn’t dwell on my fears.  Before I had a chance to decide if I should make Joseph return to the pool a bit before heading in so he could conquer his fears, he was back at the edge of the pool, tube around him, and he jumped in.  We’re pretty sure that’s what he was doing when he slipped out of the tube and found himself “under the pool” as he puts it.  After that I spend some focused time blowing bubbles with him and trying to float and doing other such pool-skills work.  I’ve been working with Daniel and Vivienne, but Joseph has preferred to do his own thing and splash around with Dad-o and I’ve let it be.  It’s sad that when Joseph was 1 ½ he could swim a few feet underwater to the edge of a pool and climb out, but once Vivienne was born I couldn’t figure out how to go swimming with both of them and we stopped.  I’m thankful we’re getting a good swim camp with the grandparents now!

 

I still don’t know where to begin my reflection on the past year with Joseph.  How can you sum up a whole person in a few words?  He’s grown up so much.  He is reliably dry night and day and quite able to communicate his needs.  Since we’ve been in America his English speech has become more native like and less textbook-like.  What I mean is that he used to pronounce every word the way it was written, but now he uses the schwa sound and other “shortcuts” appropriate for the stress-timed language that English is.  Example “I am going to the store” has become “I’m going tuh-duh store.”  (I’m not exactly sure how to write it.)

 

We have a calendar with our trip itinerary.  Joseph always announces the day of the week and he can remember which date we went to which playground.  He knows some 40 digits of pi and enjoys reciting them with his Grandmother.  Numbers have played a background role since being on vacation, but they are still an intense interest of his.

On June 3rd  I asked Joseph how his day was by saying “Did you have fun today?” His answer was “no.” I asked “Was is a bad day?” “No, not bad” he replied.  “How was it?” I asked “It was a June 3rd day” he answered.  Duh, Mom!

 

Joseph reads silently to himself now, and is a confident and expressive reader.  He devowers the early readers that Grandma has here for him.  (Of the I Can Read! series he is comfortable at level 2 “High-interest stories for developing readers”)

He also enjoys reading origami books.  Sometimes he folds, and sometimes he just reads.  I wonder what is going on in his head.

Sadly, English is not consistent enough for him.  He insists that “Thomas” be pronounced with a “th” sound.  Though it annoys him, he comes around to the funny inconsistencies of English given enough time.

Joseph has clearly missed his Bappe and the Swiss German language and his home culture in general, but we have settled into a rhythm, and he clearly loves it here, too.  He still sings bits of hymns to himself, especially during quite time, which he usually spends doing legos or origami or reading.  A funny improvisation was “And the burden of my nail flew away. I am happy all the day!”

On Joseph’s birthday Grandma and Dad-o left a balloon outside the door, and it was a big hit.  We went to a creative, wooden playground (my favorite as a kid) and spent a long time there.  We went swimming most of the afternoon and had noodles and applesauce for dinner and Jiffy muffins with candles for cake.  Joseph had a wonderful time!  Viv got a bit jealous of Joseph’s gifts, but did quite well for her age.  Joseph opened presents until he came upon a book, then stopped to read it.

I’ve used my time and more.  I just can’t put into words how blessed we are by our sweet four-year-old Joseph.  Happy Birthday!

Posted by harp on Tuesday, July 1, 2014 at 9:49 pm | Edit
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This is Joseph’s last month as a three-year-old.  It’s hard to believe I’ve been a mother for less time than I’ve spent at university – and that’s just university in the States!  At university I learned how to work hard and learned that hard wasn’t enough.  As a mother I’ve learned to work harder and how to work smarter.  I hope in a few more years I can report that I work hard and smart!

But this is about Joseph, not Mommy!  Joseph remains a delight, a big help, and though sometimes a challenge, we’re definitely on an upward trend.  As his verbal skills increase, so does our ability to discuss and compromise and find a solution that works for both of us.  This means he doesn’t have tantrums any more, and though he does get upset when he doesn’t get his way (I think the first child in general gets his way more than parents realize) he can calm down with help, and if he’s still acting strange, a 10 minute break in his room is enough for him to return to his normal self.  (This is not really a traditional time-out, it is just a break for him and when he is ready to be social he can come out again.)

Joseph is kind to his siblings, and they love playing with him even though sometimes he gets a bit too rough.  He is learning to stop when they’ve had enough, and sometimes he treats them like a video game character (from TimezAttack) but it’s never intentional hurt.  For this, I am very grateful.  We are all learning to stay calm and use words even in the face of an immature action or response . . .

The big news is that Joseph learned to ride a bike!  We’ve been trying off and on and a bit at a time not trying to push anything.  May 7th he did 4 seconds on his own while biking with Bappe, and finally May 22nd while Grossvater was visiting he was able to ride on his own for half a minute after a push.  Now he can start all by himself and go in circles and mostly not fall.  He rode his pedal bike to church on Sunday for the first time and did a great job.  I can’t believe how much motherly pride I feel.  It’s SO exciting to see the kids learn new skills.  There is so much mundane stuff in mothering these accomplishments really rip me out of my “how can I work harder and smarter and actually feel like I’m accomplishing something?” mindset and remind me what a privilege mothering is.  (Vivienne is doing really well at the walking bike now, too.)

Joseph is still interested in the hymns we sing at bedtime and can follow along and sometimes sing along.  May 7th he sang along with “We Three Kings” – no, it’s not Christmas in May, the kids pick the hymn numbers and for some reason they liked Easter songs in Lent and Christmas songs during Easter . . .)

He knows the days of the week.  I recently made a hand-written calendar to help count the days until Grandma’s arrival, and he very much enjoys knowing what’s going to happen and crossing off days when they are done.  He knows that “May 28th I am three and June 28th I will be four.”

Note from May 10th: He calls Daniel a “bueb” (boy) and himself a “Grosse Bueb” (big boy) and Stephan a “Risebueb” (a huge boy).

He does great a night even when he needs to get up to use the toilet, though as most little kids are, he’s super tired!  Once he put his pyjamas back on after finishing the job, but then climbed back onto the toilet.  Luckliy Bappe looks after him at night (so Mama only has to worry about the baby’s interruptions – mostly.)

Joseph counted backwards from 50.

Joseph’s reading continues to grow.  The other day I woke up to find him sitting on the couch reading Fox in Socks.  He continued to the end and Stephan said that when he first woke up he was reading in bed at the beginning, so we’re guessing he made it through the whole book . . .  His mistakes are adorable, of course.  He read “The Complete Tales of Peter Rabbit” (a current favorite thanks to Grandma’s power-point reading of the first tale) as “the complement tales of Peter rabbit.”  He likes to read it while falling asleep.

Daniel likes hitting things, and people’s faces – he is big and strong so we’re working on this, but once when Daniel hit Joseph he said “Mommy, Daniel wiped my tear!”

Joseph is picking up the local dialect rather than sticking to Bappe’s Basel dialect.  That means that the “l” sound turns into a “w” sound sometimes.  When Joseph said “so shcnäu” instead of “so schnäl” Stephan said “Bisch e Luzärner Bueb?” but Joseph countered with “Nai, ich bine Stumpe.” (Stephan’s nickname for Joseph sometimes.)

Joseph likes to answer the phone when Stephan calls to say he’s heading home from work.  Sometimes the conversation is short, and sometimes long.  The other day it was short.  Grandma asked “Is that Bappe?” and Joseph answered “yes” and hung up.  Stephan called back and Joseph answered “Hallo nomol” (hello again.)

Grandma is outside with all three kids so I got to type this, but time is still incredibly short – I haven’t even thought about packing.  What’s an international trip with three under four anyway?

So, that’s my excuse for the quiet blog.

Ugh, I forgot about Project time!  He’s been playing TimezAttack a lot (I mentioned we got the upgrade).  He finished the Addition (facts up to 9+9) twice.  He’s half-way through the multiplication.  His video game skills have exploded (Bappe is still teaching him more arithmetic – he can brush is own teeth while counting by cubic numbers – Grandma and I are left in the dust.)

He wrote a comment on a friend’s fishing blog.

He’s done the first lesson or two of DuoLingo in Portuguese, German, French and Italian (with help, but he does an impressive job and is learning about capitalization and English spelling as well.)

We spend a ton of time at the science center exhibition at the local mall, but I hope to write that up separately.

His project time adventures are chronicled in his Google Doc project journal.  Anyone interested in following (and giving suggestions!) can email me and get the link.

We love you Joseph!  I look forward to homeschooling you, if our canton will allow it!

Posted by harp on Wednesday, May 28, 2014 at 9:53 am | Edit
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Vivienne has grown a lot and is a treasure to have around.  She is growing in independence in clothing and other physical needs as well as learning to calm down and use words.  She still likes to scream when upset, but I try to focus on celebrating every time she uses words instead of focus on the screaming, because that just makes me yell (or scream!).  Any other ideas, experienced ones?

 

Vivienne visibly practices her new words and phrases, clearly focusing on contorting her mouth and tongue to get the correct sound.  It’s a daily reminder the language and communication is not to be taken for granted, and that life for a two-year-old is a lot of work.  Opening “s” sounds are still missing, but I’m guessing Grandma will learn to understand her fairly quickly when she visits.

 

Vivienne falls asleep easily now for her afternoon naps, and she likes to sleep a long time.  Even if I wake her after 1 ½ hours she has trouble getting to sleep at night.  She is just a night owl!  She is getting more disciplined about it, though, so for the most part nights are not the struggle they used to be (writing this reflection is a good exercise in gratitude – I had nearly forgotten those nightly struggles!!).

 

Vivienne has a new favorite shirt every few weeks and the favored shirt is missed the moment it goes in the hamper and she can hardly stand to wait until it comes out of the dryer.

 

I haven’t tested her number and letter knowledge, but it is quite decent for her age.  I sometimes feel guilty that Joseph gets all the educational encouragement, but she simply has different interests so I can’t treat them the same.  Project time has deteriorated into playing TimezAttack with the help of her brother, and I keep hoping for the phase to pass.  I figure the summer will turn everything upside-down anyway so I’m not worrying too much about it.

 

She still loves snuggles and will often respond with “I love you Mommy” when I tell her I love her.  So sweet.  She is still a little charmer.

 

From our notes:

Joseph says “Christ is risen!” and Vivienne responds “Christ is risen indeed!”

 

Vivienne likes to sing a bit of the songs we know, and is getting closer in pitch and words.  She sang “come and worship, come and worship, worship Christ the risen keys.”

 

May 8th was her first try on the walking bike.  We have yet to be consistent enough to let the kids move up a level with the bikes, but with warmer weather and helping coming, I hope they get the chance soon!

 

Viv reads Joseph’s bath towel, which says Joseph Andreas as “Joseph Abcdefg.”

 

While snuggling Vivienne sang the song Stephan made up for Daniel only with changed lyrics, which went “Mama Mama yo mir han di garn.”  So sweet!

 

We love you, girl!

Posted by harp on Wednesday, May 21, 2014 at 1:23 pm | Edit
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In a cruel trick of fate the babysitter arrived 10 minutes after Vivienne fell asleep and 5 minutes after Daniel fell asleep and at a time when Joseph was happily playing by himself.  In other words, I’ve been exhausted running after kids all week hardly getting a moment to myself because Daniel doesn’t sleep in the afternoons and the one day I have help coming it would have been easier to go without.  I’m struggling with how strongly I feel about it.  I could use help almost every minute of the day and then it comes just in the one who-knows-how-brief moment I don’t need it.  So, how to spend it?  Tomorrow Daniel turns 9 months old and it’ll be another busy day, so, I’ll share his news.

 

He has a very neat pincer grasp, and has had for at least a month.  He got is upper right tooth April 23rd and his upper left May 2nd.  He is crawling and climbing all over and went up a whole flight of stairs yesterday.  He loves eating at the table with us and will eat whole noodles, bread, cooked veggies, potatoes, etc.  He’s the most advanced of all our kids in this way (but it still makes a mess on the floor).  He cruises and can reach up to the dining table.  He reached up to the third IKEA cubby shelf and pulled down the dominos onto himself.  He climbs up onto the trampoline and then onto the couch-chair and gets stranded, calling for help.  Remarkably, he doesn’t fall all that often, but he does get pushed over far too many times for my liking.

 

Monday we went to see the doctor because Joseph accidentally fell on him whiling climbing up the doorpost.  It was a new trick of Joseph’s and as we had company I didn’t react immediately to it.  I started to think about whether we should allow it or not and turned to make a coffee for our guests then I heard a thud, a cry and an “oh, excuse me, Daniel”.  Daniel had crawled through the doorway just as Joseph jumped down, smashing Daniel’s face on the brick hall floor.  It started swelling up right away and though I usually don’t call the doctor because I don’t want to have to go it, I called.  I think my imagination having to fill in the details made me more scared.  The doctor said he would be fine, and in fact, the bump went away mostly before we even got there.  The scrap was there, but I’m thankful his forehead took the blow and not his nose and mouth.

 

Daniel is a pretty happy baby, loving people and his siblings, beaming when Bappe comes home.  He even will entertain himself a bit while Vivienne naps and Joseph has quiet time, but since he’s usually awake it has made it hard to keep up my blogging – especially when there are more pressing tasks on the “at computer” list.  I am thankful he has slept long enough for me to write this.  Oh, that’s him – he just woke up . . .

Posted by harp on Wednesday, May 14, 2014 at 3:54 pm | Edit
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On to something more uplifting than crime networks and paperwork . . .

There’s a science museum exhibition (Technorama) at the local mall and the kids are loving it.  I get a chance to test out Lori’s (of PBH) idea of repeated experiences.  So far I’m loving it.  We happened upon the exhibit yesterday while mailing our taxes (done, tada!) and Joseph didn’t want to leave.  We went back this morning and I, for one, enjoyed the lack of crowds.  We stayed 1 ½ hours and would have stayed longer had we not had to make lunch.  When I wasn’t spotting Daniel’s stair practice or rescuing Vivienne from her acrobatics, I could sit and observe and write in my journal.  Yesterday Joseph was running around pushing buttons and going crazy just like all the other kids (adults were just as distracted, but less fast), and today he ran around only half the time.  He managed to explore on computerized exhibit enough to get the point for about half of the exercises before moving on.  The exhibit is there for two more weeks and the same attendant was there today as yesterday.  I am exited to come as often as we can and see if we can’t build a relationship with him and deepen our understanding and learning of the subject matter.  It’s a perfect place to try because it’s 5 minutes from our home, free, and the weather has been cold and rainy . . .

It’s hard to let the kids explore and keep my mouth shut.  It’s amazing how most people don’t bother reading anything and don’t spend more than 30 seconds pushing a few buttons and giving up if they don’t get it right away.  Adults are no better than kids.

Posted by harp on Friday, May 2, 2014 at 2:08 pm | Edit
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Oh where to start? He’s growing so fast!  Maturing, learning to be patient, calm himself down, use calm words, pick up toys quickly when he wants to get computer time, be a mentor to his sister, helping her do puzzles and work at the computer.  Of course there is still the occasional refusal to clean and consequent missing of a meal, or the still-too-frequent scream, but progress is progress and I’m so thankful for that.

 

April 2nd after eating too many apricots he said “my tummy is busy.”  An apt description.

 

3rd. I watch him play with the electronic Japanese alphabet keyboard.  A character is spoken and he has to push the correct one.  He know most of them, and even could understand some better than I could.

 

6. Joseph asks what “nüün hoch säx” is (9 to the 6th) then gets the calculator and types 9x9x9x9x9x9.

 

8. Gets to hanging from his knees on the trapeze himself.  He still keeps his weight on his hands, though.

 

10. Wakes up at 3:30am, gets dressed, gets himself breakfast. We discover him and send him back to bed. He gets up again at 4:30 out the colored blocks to play in the living room. . .

 

11. Looks at the analog clock and reads “2:20! It’s project time!”

 

15. Recites the TimezAttack promotion video.  Surely he could memorize better literature (if you click upgrade in the game then it takes you to the YouTube video.)

 

“I love you on Palm Sunday.”

 

16. Me: “It’s time for reading rest time, please turn off the computer.”  Joseph: “I need to beat this ogre then I will join you.”  How polite!

 

19. Haircut by Daddy.

 

20. Süssmost – “Siessmoscht” – heten “ü” – Stephan has to clarify

 

Joseph greets his friend J. at church with a “hi” and a handshake (Swiss German, of course.)

 

22. Ich muess äifach rysse! Bappe, Du lachsch mi a.

 

27. Joins in the worship at church by reading the overheads. “alles lob, alles lob, geb ich Dir alien” etc.  It’s worth the trouble of keeping them in the service – it’s so great to see him voluntarily participating in worship.

 

April 12-13 we celebrated all the April birthdays in Liestal and had a great weekend with folks.  We went to BCF, our old church in Basel and enjoyed seeing lots of old friends, though many were away for the Easter holidays.  We enjoyed more time with church folks at Mary’s birthday party.  I can’t write everything up, but I took my bullet journal with me for the weekend so I have that record.  It was so great to have a place to record thoughts and do some thinking and processing while away from my system.

Posted by harp on Tuesday, April 29, 2014 at 1:39 pm | Edit
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The other day we had to go shopping, so I told the kids to get ready.  I have enough to do getting myself, my bags, and Daniel ready, and then helping Vivienne with socks and shoes that Joseph pretty much takes care of himself (not without a nag to go to the bathroom).

He put on his socks and boots, jacket, hat, and scarf and marched confidently out the door . . . in his shorts.  It was 70 degrees.  They were red, white and blue stripped shorts, too.

Oddly, I didn’t get “bad mom” looks from the Swiss.  Most people just chuckled.  I did, too.

Posted by harp on Thursday, April 24, 2014 at 11:45 am | Edit
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It’s fun having a girl around.  She likes pink and purple and dressing up, but not too much.  She is social and imitates social etiquette in a sweet way.  She still whines and gets upset, but it’s been a while since she’s had a real temper.  It’s good I do these reflections because it makes me realize how much the kids grow.

 

From the cute things notes:

 

April 9th

Stephan has been talking about the moon’s motion and tracking it’s progress with the kids at bedtime.  Vivienne took to the idea and remembered herself to go the balcony and check out the moon.

 

Vivienne uses you and your correctly, and in general does well with the grammar of both languages.  Both Joseph and Vivienne say “I, too” as it is in German, but I haven’t corrected it.  I assume they’ll pick up on usage when we’re in the States this summer.

 

Pronunciation, on the other hand, can still be a challenge.  What’s “pahdzodecks”?  Hint: it’s English.  It’s a food. . . .

 

Pretzel sticks.

We generally understand her both languages, though, and she visibly works on getting her pronunciation better.  The other day she said “That’s a bär, Mommy” using the Swiss German pronunciation of “bear” with a throaty “r.”  I said “yes, that’s a bear” and she repeated “bear” doing a rather impressive job of getting the difficult English “r” sound.  Joseph still uses a sound closer to “w” for “r” sounds.

Not so many notes, but that makes it easier to type and read!

Plenty of pictures and videos on Stephan's blog.

 

Posted by harp on Monday, April 21, 2014 at 11:40 am | Edit
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Around March 8th Daniel started sitting on his own in a W position.  The 17th he passed a toy from one hand to the other, though I suspect he’s been doing it for a while.  He ate a Lego piece (small round) and had a little trouble swallowing it and a little trouble passing it, but we all survived.  Around that time (end of March) he threw up a few times and had a fever and jerky movements, but it didn’t last too long and he’s be fine ever since.

 

April 11th he crawled up half a flight of stairs without trouble.  He also responded to his name.  Stephan and I were having a conversation and Stephan said “Daniel” in the same kind of tone of voice we were talking and he looked up right away.

 

He’s great at ducking to crawl under furniture, which is much earlier than the others were, I believe.  He’s generally a happy baby during the day, though he still doesn’t nap much.  We have some rough nights, though, with him waking up early to poo or just being unhappy for some reason.  While we were at Stephan’s folks’ place I used their shampoo and when I went to bed Daniel got really upset.  He would calm down in Stephan’s arms and then see me and want to go to me, but as soon as he was near and could smell me he’d scream his lungs out again.  Note to self, 8-month-olds still care about smells . . .

Daniel is pretty content on his own and watching the other two.  It allows me to do project time with the others and get a little work done.  I love him to bits and enjoy having a chubby baby to snuggle.  He still only has two bottom teeth, but he loves eating with us at the table.

 

Those are my notes!

Posted by harp on Tuesday, April 15, 2014 at 11:32 am | Edit
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Joseph’s monthabirthday was Friday, the 28th and I have notes back from mid-February that I haven’t typed up yet!  I wasn’t about to catch up the day before my speech, but now that it’s over, I’ll try.

 

Feb. 12th Joseph makes an origami hat from memory with a candy wrapper.

 

“Numbers with Grossvater” – what kind of a memory trigger is that?!?!

 

Feb. 15th

3+37 = 259. (Stephan will have to explain. 259 = 37x7)

 

Joseph sings along with us at bedtime for the first time.  He’s sung the songs himself, but this time he joined in while we sang the Hallelujah chorus.

 

As Joseph took his medicine, for what purpose I know forget, he misinterprets the word “medicine” by saying “James Madison is number 4.”  (He was right, btw.)

 

Feb. 21st

Joseph is using “ich” and “du” (I and you) appropriately more often now.  He will also order Vivienne around and count to three if she doesn’t obey him.  Siblings illuminate your parenting techniques in rather interesting ways . . .

 

Feb. 27th

Joseph talked about yesterday.  This was the start of his growing ability to talk about the future and the past.  I was starting to get worried, but he’s making progress slowly but surely.  I do think the two languages make it more difficult, as past-tense is more complicated than present in general, and the two languages deal with it differently.

 

Joseph “plays” the recorder along with his “Liebe Gott, du ghörsch mis Lied” CD.

 

Joseph likes to lead Vivienne in prayer before they play in the workspace.  The pull out all the materials and set them on the table, then hold hands and pray, then give kisses and hugs, then get to drawing.  It is too cute.

 

March 1st Viv and Joseph had a good outing to Emmen Center with Bappe except that while waiting for the elevator a little girl came up to Joseph and slapped him in the face.  It was unclear why and it upset Joseph terribly.  He talked about it a few times after that, and each time he seemed to be able to handle it better.  It is so nice to be able to talk about bad things that happen to him, even if he can’t say much yet.  Not being able to express yourself and your struggles is such a frustrating experience.  I really feel for young kids!  They can’t express themselves and adults tell them such ridiculous and insulting things as “you’re fine,” “it’s not that bad,” “here, play with this” and otherwise totally miss the point.

 

March 3rd Joseph folded a little fish (from the origami book) and gave it to me – my first gift!

Joseph will now fight the bosses in TimezAttack if he first mutes the sound.

I have the feeling I wrote this somewhere . . .

 

Joseph to Bappe “nit das Powerhouse bewege” – he’s been watching my exercises . . .

 

March 10th at bedtime Joseph says it’s time to play “SleepAttack.”

 

We had raspberries on the table for dessert.  Joseph exclaimed “100 raspberries.”  Stephan doled them out carefully so we would all get the same number.  There were exactly 100 raspberries.  However, this is very much an exception.  There is lots more evidence to the contrary that Joseph has any number sense in this regard.  He’s a decent estimator, but the Domain claim that having seem the dots as a baby gives them a precise ability to count groups at a glance seems not to be the case, at least with the exposure Joseph got.

 

Joseph likes to talk more, and he uses filler, just like he hears adults doing.  A quote: “Daniel macht so grad über zum Beispiel schloofe.” (Daniel is so right now over for example sleeping)

 

For a reason I cannot now remember, 13 to the 13th was written out and Joseph was able to read it. 302,875,106,592,253. He had to start over a few times until he discovered to start with trillion, and needed a little help remembering the word, but then had no trouble.

 

End of March:

Joseph has been enjoying audio books very much.

Joseph reads Go Dog, Go on his own, and mostly correctly.  He made mistakes like “They will sleep all tonight.” (as opposed to night.)

 

He doesn’t like advancing in TimezAttack because the bosses get scarier.  He’s found a solution of creating a new user name and taking the pre-test again so that they same level of the video game now has new math problems.

 

He counts by 12’s.

 

Joseph brushes Vivienne’s teeth just the way Bappe does, counting by X2 up to132 .

 

At the homeschooling meeting Joseph repeatedly jumped off a four-foot ledge onto gravel.  I see myself as a mom who gives a lot of freedom of movement to her kids, but they were mostly on their own all morning as Stephan, Daniel and I were in the meeting.  There was always an adult on duty, inside and out, but mostly the kids looked after each other and nothing would have prevented a kid from doing something dumb or running into the street.  It was a bit scary, but when I did get to watch from a distance I realized just how much more competent they were when Stephan and I weren’t around.  It reminded me of campouts were we were allowed to run off for hours before checking in with adults.  It was grand fun.

Posted by harp on Sunday, March 30, 2014 at 8:10 pm | Edit
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