Daniel has a special love for his daddy, pointing to the door when he wants him home from work, running to him as soon as he arrives, snuggling, playing – he loves his daddy!  He enjoys my company, too, and is in generally very affectionate, but Daddy is certainly special.


Daniel is weaned.  He’s my earliest to wean, and so for the first time I understand when people say they miss it.  We’d been nursing nearly each morning, but Feb. 1st it seemed like all of a sudden there was no milk.  Daniel bit down a bit after trying to suck a bit, and it seemed like that was that.  We have nursed a few times since, like after he bit through his tongue when his chin hit the table as he fell – at least he tried, but he doesn’t ask for it anymore.  It’s over.  I think having it come suddenly is what makes me a bit shocked and miss it, though I am grateful to have him weaned before the next baby comes along.


From our notes:


He can put those colored oversized pins into the plastic trays with holes (they have them at church).  He can sort by color (at least did so while putting Blokus away – noticing that he’d put it in the wrong one and switching it to the right one.)  He can peel stickers, use scissors and glue, has a beautiful pen hold and is generally picking up a lot from his sibs.


Words!  Slow, but coming, and mostly in German, interestingly enough (the kids mostly speak English with each other).  Heiss (hot) is “high” and hilfe (help) is “hiff” or “heff” and fertig (finished or empty) is hard to write down and new.  He’s doing more signs, too, trying more and milk and please and cheese and bread.  And of course he understands a ton.


He’s aware and caring, and if you ask nicely, he’ll often comply.  Once at breakfast Vivienne was complaining because she had to finish her peanut butter toast before having yogurt, so Daniel offered her his yogurt.  When Joseph wanted his flashlight at night, Daniel got up to get it for him.


He loves helping to set the table and clean up after.  If I snap the end of a banana he can peel it, eat it, and throw away his trash without being asked.  We retired the high chair, so now if he’s at a meal and needs something, he’ll just as likely as not go get it himself – like a cup from the kitchen if we’ve forgotten to set it out.


He loves playing with his siblings best, and is always seeking them out.  He likes wrestling and running around, especially with his brother.

Posted by harp on Monday, February 23, 2015 at 8:52 pm | Edit
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I know my readers know that kids don’t have short attention spans, but I still think about that common misconception.  Our midwife came today for a check-up, and Vivienne spent every available moment playing midwife after that.  One session lasted 1 ½ hours, and only ended because I told her I had to go back to work.  She chose to skip her media time so she could keep me on the couch feeling my belly, pretending to listen to the heart beat, getting a tissue to wipe away the “gel” (i.e. spit) from the fetal monitor (i.e. fist), asking me how I was feeling, etc. etc.  I’ll be able to report that she and her little sib have been playing together since before the little one was born!  I am terribly curious how she’ll react when the baby is here!  In order to keep me on the couch she did all sorts of jobs to take care of Daniel and other needs so I didn’t have to get up.  It’s going to be fun!

Posted by harp on Wednesday, February 11, 2015 at 9:21 pm | Edit
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Joseph likes figuring out how old people are in terms of months, or rather, asking us to figure it out.


“When you calm up, you cry.”


“Twinkle, twinkle little star.  How I wonder how you are.”


He knows our address and phone number.


The last week he had an on-and-off case of diarrhea, and he was a pretty noble patient, despite eating restrictions and discomfort.


We got rid of the advent wreath after Epiphany, and I explained that it was ordinary time, so instead of lighting the advent candles for our family devotional time each evening, we could light just one plain candle.  He calls it the “ordinary candle”.


For our anniversary weekend, all three kids slept over with their Liestal grandparents and had a wonderful time.  Joseph especially keeps hoping he can spend the night again.


Most of my notes about Joseph go into my Bullet Journal and then I review those once a week and write a summary to his Educational Journal (a Google Doc).  As an attempt to my year-end summaries a bit easier, I’m trying a new system of reviewing the Educational Journal quarterly by topic.  With three topic categories I can review each every quarter by doing one at teach monthly reflection.  I’ve divided them up (somewhat randomly) for now thus:

A: Reading, Math, Academics

B: Music, Art, PE

C: Socialization, Character, Religion, Other


So, for January, I’ll review Oct.-Dec. 2014 for reading, math, and academics.  Here goes.


Joseph Academic Summary Oct.-Dec. 2014



I recorded 23 books that Joseph read entirely on his own, though he reads more than that for sure.  I record each time he reads a book, so removing duplications, he read a minimum of 21 unique books, mostly out loud (I can’t be sure he’s read the whole thing when he reads silently).



Our first attempts at dong dictations were in October.  We re-started in December to do thank-you notes.



Joseph enjoys writing when he is inspired to.  We let him write as he wishes and answer his spelling questions.  His handwriting and spelling is developing over time without correction, so I’m holding off worrying about “bad habits.”  Any elementary teachers reading this that have cautions/advice for us?




Joseph finishes Timez Attack, so he knows his times tables to 12x12, the same with division, and addition facts up to 10+10.


Joseph can tell time on an analog clock including the minutes.  For example (quote from Dec. 31st entry in Educational Journal 2014):

It’s not infrequent for Joseph and me to have a conversation like this one from Dec. 30th.

J: When is my media time?

Me: 2:15

J: For 30 minutes?

Me: Yes.

J: So I will start my media time at 2:15 and finish at 2:45.


He often announces the date at the start of the day, including the day of the week, and knows which months are which seasons and maintains a high interest in dates.



Joseph enjoys puzzles with each country a piece, or each state a piece and can do them fairly easily (though the ones we have often have the piece outlines on the bottom part, which makes it easier).  He knows all the states of the US, and can sing the state song from memory.


I think that does it.  That was painless enough, at least this time (my notes were scarce in October . . .)

Posted by harp on Thursday, February 5, 2015 at 8:09 pm | Edit
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We celebrated several times, all rather informally.  We visited a arts and crafts “Spielgruppe” to see if it might be something for Joseph and Vivienne, and I thought it would be a fun birthday activity as well.  On the day we had an intimate family celebration, with a few presents and blueberry muffins (thanks to Grandma, whose package arrived on the day!) and a helium balloon.  Vivienne still remembers how we celebrated Joseph’s birthday at Grandma and Dad-o’s and has been chomping at the bit for a LONG time to experience the glory herself!  She glories in the attention, and is not into sharing at the moment, but though I insist she be polite, I’m not making her share her treasures yet.  Our big gifts were a bead kit and a CD player with two mics (she’s willing to share one mic, though technically this gift was for all kids . . .)


The day after, Grossvater and Grossmutti visited, which the kids adored as usual, and on the weekend we went to a gathering of several families associated with BCF (Basel church) at a “play attic” in Basel where all sorts of amazing playground and gym equipment that would be banned in the US – with no supervision (except the parents).  Talk about play paradise.  After lunch we visited the relatives in Liestal for more celebrations.  Vivienne got a Cinderella dress from her Godfather.  She wears it constantly . . .


We’re all pretty worn out from all the excitement!


From what I’ve heard about life with me as a little girl, I’m raising a mini-me.  Vivienne is intense.  She has a big heart, and is very sensitive, caring deeply for others and unashamed to show affection.  If I’m ever hurt, she always asks if I need a kiss, and will kiss the soles of my feet if that’s where I’m injured.  She also feels hurt in a big way, which makes every day occurrences difficult to handle.  It is our challenge to protect her heart for others and show her how to handle her strong emotions more calmly.


She is quite independent, especially at home, but needs to be able to check in with me a lot, especially when we’re out and about.  She likes to help and is actually a decent dish washer (better than her older brother).  She can dress and undress alone and get herself breakfast (cereal and milk), though she still often likes help.  She is nearly day and night potty trained, though we have an accident about once every week.  She still takes naps nearly daily, and is much better at falling asleep on her own.


She loves books, and is always asking Stephan and I to read to her.  I’ve never heard her ask Joseph to read to her, but I often see them snuggled together as he reads aloud.  So sweet.


She does love pretty things, and pink, and Hello Kitty, but she also enjoys sharing in her brothers’ interests.  She watched more Cars than Joseph did while we had the DVD, and Stephan heard her in her sleep say “Cars DVD.  I like Cars DVD.”




I said she doesn’t like to share, but she is often generous, and if Joseph or Daniel is in need, she comes and tells me right away.  I wonder how she’ll do with a crying infant in the house!


Vivienne is tall.  She’s grown a ton in the past few months and is the same size Joseph was last year, which means she’s half a year ahead of him (38 ¾ in. 98cm).


Vivienne can do simple puzzles, can use a mouse (including clicking and dragging, as needed in ABCYa.com game, and scrolling as needed in Grandma’s Treasure Chest), can do the alphabet puzzle, can count to 20 skipping 15 then returning to 11 after 20, can read the numerals (but again, is frustratingly inconsistent about showing it).  She is a strong communicator, and socially aware of what to say when.  I look forward to seeing how her interests develop and how she learns to read and calculate, as it is obviously quite different from Joseph (who still seems normal to us because he was our first . . .).  Watching her learn and grow leaves me with no worries – she is certainly smart and able.  I know from personal experience what a struggle she has before her learning to deal with her intense emotions.  She is already displaying valiant efforts, especially in regards to lowering her pitch of speech (despite her excitement), which sometimes we think only the dogs have a chance of understanding.


She has the most adorable and charming expressions, and she is learning to use them for the reactions she gets.  With her wispy blond hair and innocent smile, she’s got lots of people wrapped around her finger.


It’s fun having you around, dear Vivienne!  We’re looking forward to another wonderful year with you!

Posted by harp on Tuesday, January 27, 2015 at 6:59 am | Edit
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Daniel is fully in the imitation stage and wants to do everything that he sees others doing.  It’s cute, it’s sometimes helpful, and it’s a lot of work.


We’re down to nursing once a day.  It’s nice to have the break, and to enjoy our special snuggle time in the morning.


He can blow bubbles in the water when we go swimming.


He has a clear no “uh uh” and fairly clear yes “heh” as in “eh heh” (I hope to get this, it’s much like adults use).


He currently sleeps at the foot of the double bed where Joseph and Vivienne sleep.  Sometimes he sleeps through the night, and sometimes we have to get up and pat him or walk him back to bed, but for the most part, we’re all enjoying not having infant sleep patterns in the house.  A first in 4 years!  The night after the kids spend the night with their Swiss grandfolks (our anniversary gift) all three kids slept through the night.  That felt amazing.


For naps he sleeps with Vivienne.  I love not having him in a crib, even though it takes some discipline to keep him in bed sometimes because when he wakes up he can get out of bed himself and come waddling out.  He’s such a cute sleepy-head.


He can build a Duplo tower, but of course prefers Legos when his sibs have them.


He’s a massive eater, with logical consequences in the other end.  I am grateful at least once a day that he nearly always uses the pot.  I don’t think the diapers could contain the amount he produces at once . . .


The past few days he’s been diaperless and runs to the pot when he needs to pee.  Might he be potty trained before the baby comes?!?!


He was showing me memory cards the other day, and he nearly always showed me the correct side of the card so that I could see the picture.  I know for certain the others took much longer to realize that if you hold up a card so you can see, the other person cannot.  It’s seems incredible he would get that this early, but it seemed very intentional.


He says “help” in a cross between the German and English “heff.”


Poor kid had the chicken pox after Christmas with Vivienne.  He’s mostly over it now.


I think he says “I want that” – at least he says something like it when his sister or brother try to take something from him and he pulls away and holds the item tightly to his chest.

Posted by harp on Friday, January 16, 2015 at 3:08 pm | Edit
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It is quite strange to think that only three years ago Joseph was Daniel’s size.  What a lot kids learn in a few years!


This Christmas has been a lot of fun because Joseph is old enough to appreciate Christmas songs and singing, and his enjoyment has carried over to the other two.  So for the first time, we’ve been able to celebrate Christmas and enjoy some traditions as a family that hold such meaning to me.  I think it’s moments like these that I thought about when I thought about having kids, but 4 ½ years is a long time before seeing the return on investment. [Pardon me, I can’t think anymore because Joseph is reading Genesis in a loud voice . . . oh, he just realized he’s supposed to be quiet during his quiet time, and asked if he’d lost the first 15min. of his media time because he was loud. I forgave him, and now he’s reading quietly . . .]


So that to say (again), having a baby was a real shock, but watching my kids grow up, electrifyingly exciting.  Maybe next year we can start singing in three-part harmony.  Let the fun begin!


We didn’t just sing hymns as a family, but went into the city to see the lights and join an Advent Sing put on by Migros (grocery store).  It was crowded, but the kids did great and it was fun, despite nearly every song being way too slow.


Dec. 16th Joseph came down with chicken pox, or so we think.  It was a light case and we didn’t go into the doctor, but it had been going around church, so it only seemed logical.


Cute quotes:

“Don’t say 1-2-3, Mommy.” (Yes, we sometimes use that discipline technique.)  “I didn’t.”  “Did you say 2-4-6?”


In prayer, “Thank you that I can be Vivienne and Daniel’s friend.  Thank you that I am Mom and Dad’s daughter.”  (S – I wonder how long we can get away with publicizing prayers . . .)


On Christmas day he found a half-empty beer can on the side of the road.  He managed to dump it all over his jacket before we noticed what was happening . . . fortunately, nobody had signed up for laundry on Christmas day . . .


Stephan and I are quite proud of ourselves.  We walked into the living room to see Joseph writing all over the wall.  In shock for a moment, in part because the picture was so good, we realized almost immediately that he was imitating Harold from the book “A Picture for Harold’s Room.”  When we asked if that’s what he was doing, Joseph said “YES!!!” and was clearly so excited that we noticed the meaning of his work.  Then when Stephan mentioned that it was on the wall and we only draw on paper, his face fell and he said in a pitiful voice “don’t be sad.”  Oh how hard!  We didn’t punish him, we just put up large swaths of paper, and all three kids had a blast drawing on paper on the walls.

Posted by harp on Tuesday, December 30, 2014 at 2:11 pm | Edit
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Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!  Lots going on for us as well as everyone, so this will be brief.


Viv threw up last night and has chicken pox this morning and is terribly disappointed that it means we won’t go to the pool today.  Swimming is a favorite activity of hers, as well as dancing, and playing with her brothers.


Vivienne can pump herself on a sing and on the trapeze.


She’s quite verbal and not often shy.  I asked the butcher at the grocery store how a certain cut of meat should be cooked.  It was pre-packaged, so felt like a bold enough move to bother the butcher with my question, but Vivienne wasn’t shy at all about asking for a slice of baloney, which the always give to kids if you order something at the counter.  Her “Darf ich Fleisch ha” was so clear the butcher heard it and obliged her request despite my embarrassment.


She can count into the teens in English and German, counting objects up to 5 or so.  She counted down from 8 once, too.


At practice for doing the worship music at church she sat near us, with her own music in her hand, making marks with a pen, just like I was doing – like most kids, she learns my imitation!  Still, it makes me chuckle.


Communication is key, language is secondary.  Examples: “Ich muess myni flakes eat-e” (putting a German verb ending on an English word.)  “Zahn-paste” (Zahpaste in DE, toothpaste EN).


I think most people know by now that we’re expecting again and are very excited!  I’ve had trouble with morning sickness, especially after meals, when I often have to lie down a bit before I can get to work again.  Just as the queasiness was getting better, Vivienne suddenly started feeling sick after eating and lying down in the spot I would.  I guess she’d had enough of that excuse from Mommy!


Viv is often, though not always, caring for her brothers and us.  One morning she fetched Daniel’s high chair, cup and bowl for his breakfast.


“I’m hicking up.”


She’s smart and practical.  They have to clean up before media time, so to encourage the start I asked her “What do you need to do to get your media time?”  Without missing a beat she replied “Go to Miss Tina!” (our neighbor who lets them watch television when they visit.)


Christmas time has shown again how much Viv loves all manner of sweets, and how Joseph generally does not (so she gets the extra portion!).


She can do simple puzzles, so I’ve gotten ours out again.  Her exposure is later than Joseph, but she’s learning faster – as to be expected with being older.  She and Joseph will do puzzles together.

Posted by harp on Tuesday, December 30, 2014 at 10:13 am | Edit
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He’s only 16 months?  Or have I made another miscalculation?  He’s not talking yet (besides, banana, which he says a dozen times a day) but he understands an amazing amount, as is typical for this age, but I’m profiting from experience so I know better how to use that ability.  It was hard for me to make the jump with Joseph that I no longer had a baby who couldn’t respond much, but a toddler who can understand and obey quite a bit if given the chance.  It’s a fun time.  We love you, little guy!


From the fridge notes:


Nov. 25th we noticed he has two bottom molars.

He likes to imitate the phrase “1, 2, 3, go!” though the numbers aren’t clear (it sounds more German than English), but the meaning is perfectly clear, and the intonation terribly cute (with a rising pitch for 1, 2, 3 and an excited squeal for go.)


I’ve reached the end of my rope with sleep deprivation.  I firmly believe there is nothing wrong with and everything natural about co-sleeping and waiting for kids to naturally sleep through the night (Joseph did around 3, and sleeps fine, is dry at night, able to get up when he needs to.)   BUT, my kids just love nursing at night and it makes the days tough.  I decided I’d rather be a little mean to my kids at night by not being fully available, so that I can be more fully available during the day to respond to requests and implement my own ideas of what being a good mom is.  I night-weaned Daniel, using the method I did for Vivienne, but soon I wanted more.  I read a book on baby sleep (The Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight) and got a good picture of what one can reasonably expect of a baby/toddler and a few ideas.  We didn’t follow the method to the letter, or much at all, just tried some things out to see how Daniel would respond.  He did pretty well, and the tears have been a little difficult, but not horrible.  You can’t prevent all crying, and he screams bloody murder during the day when someone takes a toy away from him.  We’re teaching him how to deal with his frustration, but like I can take the crying when I have to say “no” during the day because I know he’s not really in trouble or pain, I can take the crying at night when I choose to say “no” but I know he knows I’m right there and he’s not alone or afraid – just mad.  Sometimes before in the night I’d just get fed up and say “no” but it was random, and that must have been much harder for him (and me!).  It seems more humane to apply consistent boundaries we can both count on and deal with.  Anyway, for us at this time it was a good step.  Now he has a cough so we haven’t fully reaped the benefits of the sleep training, but he’s happy sleeping with Stephan and we’re all getting more sleep, and looking forward to more soon!  The amazing thing for me is being able to put him down in the bed for a nap – at the moment he and Vivienne nap together in the same adult bed – and he waves goodbye and they both can fall asleep (eventually, and not every time, but with the others at this age that would have been unthinkable!!!!).  It brings me so much more predictable working and rest time, and eliminates a lot of frustration for me.  (I have to insert that most of why I’ve gotten so much more effective with the time I do have is because I didn’t sleep train with Joseph.  So I’m thankful for the lessons!)  This new baby will get more gentle encouragement from earlier on to learn how to sleep on his own (I’ve decided no night EC, too.)


Speaking of EC, Daniel is very consistent about indicating he needs to go number 2 on the pot.  He does several pees a day on it as well, and can get to seated on it on his own (if he isn’t wearing a diaper – well, he’ll sit on it anyway if he has a diaper – another sign he needs to go.)  It’s been a fun and rewarding EC journey with Daniel.


He’s an active boy, able to climb up many tables and chairs by brute force.  That means the workspace is his, too, now, though if he eats markers he’s banned, but it’s hard to enforce, but he can climb back up so easily.

Posted by harp on Friday, December 19, 2014 at 8:20 pm | Edit
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Notes from this month:

Joseph builds a big Brio train ramp (with multiple support pillars to make it higher).

His attention span for the previously-mentioned “Garunge-arunge-a” game lasted 15 minutes.

I walked into the bathroom after quiet time and saw hair everywhere.  I took the time to breath, discover that it was doll hair and ask Joseph what happened.  “The dolls hair was too long.”  Clearly.


Joseph speak like Arnold Lobel’s Frog and Toad series.  He commanded his mouth “Stop coughing, my mouth!” and another time “Stop hicking me, cup!”  (The cup comes from hic-CUP.)


Knowing I was going to make cookies and I needed the kitchen lean first, he dried the dishes.


Our reference corner doesn’t get as much use as I’d hoped for, but maybe I just don’t see it.  The other day Joseph put his fingers in his nose and then in his mouth and asked “Did I just eat my moos-coos, Mommy?”  The Human Body book had been out to a page with the word “mucus” on it, so I’m guessing that was his reading, and almost-remembering the word.  I kind of expected a boy to pick up slang terms, but of course, he doesn’t have any older-kid-English influences, so I get a weird mix of gross and innocent in raising our kids here!


The homeschooling saga continues to drag on, and Joseph is becoming more aware of the words “school” and “homeschooling” and “kindergarten.”  The other day while talking about going to kindergarten he said “At kindergarten I would homeschool Mommy and Bappe.”  He might be closer to the truth than we all think . . .


That’s the end of the “Cute Things,” most of you can stop reading here . . .


Summary from Joseph’s Educational Journal


This is a test to see if I can reflect on the month’s notes and condense Joseph’s learning into something readable and informative.  Sample work is in his Educational Journal, I will not copy it here.



Joseph enjoys reading and ready several books a day, often going in phases of reading the same books several times.  We have a separate spot of library books right next to a comfy chair, and he spends at least 30 minutes a day spontaneously reading (and often Vivienne joins him and they discuss the books together).  Donald Duck Comics and Globi are current favorites.  He reads out load and silently in English and German, though his lack of vocabulary in High German shows.  Last I tested his English reading ability was at 2nd grade level, but was several months ago.  We read to the kids for 30 minutes every night, a book(s) of their choosing.



Joseph enjoys writing when he wants to, about a sentence every few days, of his own invention or copying.  He has started improvising his own stories out-loud, story-book style.  So far, he has only written English.



Joseph enjoys doing arithmetic problems and knows multiplication and division facts through 12x12 and addition and subtraction through 9+9 down cold (thanks to TimezAttack).  He enjoys making his own multi-digit addition and subtraction problems, and gets them right as long as there is no carrying, which he is only beginning to understand.  He likes checking his work with a calculator, or with a parent.  He is equally confident doing math in English and German.



Joseph speaks English (to Mom) and Swiss German (to Dad) at home and has started experimenting with High German, participating willingly in our “High German Mondays” as best he can.


Physical Fitness

Joseph swims nearly once a week and can put his head under water for a few seconds to dive for a ring or swim doggy-paddle.  He enjoys the water and trying new things.

He can pump himself on a swing, and get into a seated position on the trapeze and enjoys twisting and falling off.  He can do somersaults and enjoys jumping and running around, especially with other kids.



Joseph enjoys being with other kids and is often quick to introduce himself and join the play in a new situation.  He is happy to go along with directive-play lead by other children, or just to play in and around the others doing his own thing sometimes and joining others sometimes.  He has difficulty sharing and taking turns, but can do so with direction.



Joseph enjoys painting and drawing, though he prefers to write numbers.  He will draw bunnies at his sister’s request, and enjoys coloring in the lines and can do so neatly.  He makes precise origami and paper airplanes, often memorizing the steps needed to make a figure.



Music instruction is quite informal at this point.  He plays around with the piano keyboard, watching the screen that shows the music or chords, and sometimes “singing” along.  He asks for the violin every now and then.  He enjoys singing in church.  He knows some basic music theory (rhythm note names) and enjoys marching around with whistles and drums “making music” with his siblings.



Joseph can easily learn any technology he let him use, which is mostly the piano keyboard and the computer.  He can sign into the kids’ user account and open the programs he knows to use.  He can put a DVD in and out and click and type (one finger at a time) when needed.  We have no TV neither do we watch movies as a family, so his screen time is limited to his 30-45min a day of “media time” of his own choosing (within limits).  Mostly he plays the TimezAttack video game. His total media consumption (which includes his sister’s media time) is 5-7 hours a week (there is no media time on weekends).


Home Economics

Joseph enjoys helping in the kitchen, measuring and stirring and the like.  He must clean up his room after his quiet play time, and will wipe up a spill and sweep up a mess if reminded to do so.


Joseph also receives an allowance of 1 Franc a week, which he gets at our Sunday evening Family Meeting, and he must put at least 20rp in savings and give 10rp back to God.  At the end of the month he gets 10% interest on his savings and can choose to take some out, or leave it.  He usually gives the minimum and takes his savings when he has the chance.  He likes to spend his money on automated cars at the local mall or on DVD’s from the library (which he may watch during his media time.)


Did I say something about short?  Is this helpful? Or not?  Better kept in the Educational Journal?

Posted by harp on Monday, December 1, 2014 at 10:18 pm | Edit
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The only note I have on Vivienne this month is a quote “My belly button is not sicking.”  Yes, we had some sickness this month, and pour Viv is as bad as I am at keeping food down when ill.  The quote was a report from the next morning, where I found Joseph and Vivienne helping themselves to a grand breakfast before the rest of us were awake.  Thankfully, they did keep it all down and were their normal selves again.


Vivienne is a real helper, too.  Often I’ll do the breakable dishes and leave the rest for her.  She does a decent job for a two-year-old (the dishes are clean enough to use to serve family . . .) and I love that she likes to help.


Whining is slowly improving as her language ability grows.  She’s super sensitive, like I was (and sometimes still am), but we’re learning how to deal with it.  At this age, Joseph was doing simple calculations (writing 4+3=7 on the backboard) but I’m no longer worried or comparing (much as I tried not to before).  The other day she shows interest in letters, and we went over the alphabet puzzle together.  She knows several, and I get the impression she knows different ones on different days (just like Irish musicians and the hundreds of tunes they know, but recall different ones at different times!).  She’s smart and has put her efforts elsewhere.  When she wants to learn her letters solidly, she’ll do it.  She has plenty of time . . . I know that’s obvious to everyone but a young mother . . .

Posted by harp on Friday, November 21, 2014 at 9:04 am | Edit
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Daniel is turning into a big helper.  He likes bringing dishes to and from the table.  He likes imitating my Swish and Swipe of the bathroom.  He likes to empty the potty when he goes (which is still dangerous if done without help).  Lately I’ve been putting him in split pants because he does pretty well sitting on the pot if he needs to go, but can’t, or won’t, take off a diaper or undies.  He’s far from potty-trained, but he might be the earliest!  If he does miss, he’ll often tell me and get a rag to clean it up.  He’ll clean up other spills as well (of course, he only cleans as well as a 1-year-old, but it’s the thought that counts.)


Once I set my glasses down on a high shelf on the way into the bedroom to lie down with Daniel for a nap.  Afterwards I couldn’t find my glasses at all and resorted to asking the kids if they’d seen them.  Daniel walked into the bedroom and pointed up to the shelf where my glasses were, but not visible.  He had noticed that I’d set them there, remembered even after the nap, and understood that I was looking for them and that he could help!  I was, and still am, very impressed.  One-year-old can’t say much, but they sure do understand a lot more than we give them credit for!


The big news is that he broke his foot long ago when he pulled down the Natural History book onto himself.  We only just found out because I no clue it might be broken, I just thought it was bruised.  It seemed to take a while to heal – he soon was walking fine, but there was an indentation still.  I asked the doctor and she said it was most certainly a break in the metatarsus!  I had a “I’m a horrible mom” moment but usually kids outgrow those sorts of things so I was able to forgive myself after a day of guilt.  Daniel walks fine, so there’s no worries there.


We’ve been too busy for my tastes, and record keeping and picture taking has slowed . . .

Posted by harp on Thursday, November 20, 2014 at 5:37 pm | Edit
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Joseph continues to excel in academic areas and blow our socks off.  He’s had enough exposure to Japanese and has played around with the Japanese-speaking toys enough that he has started reading short strings of Japanese characters (Hiragana).  I think the main help is the interactive keyboard that quizzes with questions like “push “ka”” and “type tomato” (all in Japanese, of course.)  Stephan and I know enough to get him started, and he has to play on his own enough that he’s figured a bunch out on his own.  It still surprises us, though!  His English reading continues to improve and he has recently taken a greater interest in reading High German.  I partly credit the Hello Kitty DVD Vivienne got from the library, which is in High German, and partly credit the Disney comic books Joseph discovered at the library, which are also in High German.  However little I think about cartoons and comics, it’s hard to argue with the results.


Joseph has also reached some important physical achievements, like learning to ride the big bike we got for his 3rd birthday (we thought a little big meant it would last a while, and really, it was just too huge for him to learn, so we got a smaller one at a second-hand store.)  He’s learned to pump on the swing.  He can pull himself up to sitting on the trapeze by himself.


He’s also started drawing objects for the first time (not just numbers and letters).  He’s drawn people, a Boeing 737 (not that I can tell, but that’s what he calls it), and yesterday he drew Vivienne with her wispy blond hair.  So fun!  It’s great that he loves numbers, but . . . it’s fun to have kid drawings around the house now!


When I did a workspace-restart, Joseph was distressed.  Everything was gone!  When he asked what happened I said “I cleaned off the workspace.”  He replied, “You need to clean ON the workspace.”


A favorite game is “garunge-arunge-a,” adapted from the story of “Tom” by Tomie dePaola.  This is a special game played preferably with Daddy and involves scaring people with pretend chicken feet while saying “garunge-arunge-a.”


His origami phase has turned to a paper-airplane phase (note to self, this could be because we are out of origami paper . . .) and he even designed his own.  Stephan will have to add details to this note if necessary.


I was working at the computer one day and I hear in a loud voice behind me “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”  I turned to see Joseph reading not a kid Bible, but Stephan’s Bible.  His interest in the Bible was renewed because of the GTC (Grandma’s Treasure Chest) bit show on the books of the Bible.  It’s not King James, but I was still surprised that he could read tiny-print Bible, and made it through several verses.


Stephan’s nickname for Joseph has long been “Stumpe” but Joseph wants to be called Joseph now.  Ah sad . . .


“Daniel, you have to say ‘tete’ [thank you] because you are small.” Stephan, explain?


Stephan was working on videos from August 16th and Joseph said, “16 August isch e Samschtig.”


Oh, and math continues to be his one true love.  He discovered two-digit addition and subtracting on his Math Whiz (part calculator, part math-fact-quizzing machine) he can solve easy problems on paper, like 86-42, but has even started to get problems involving carrying right, though nobody knows exactly how he thinks about it.  I’ve showed him the American way and Stephan has showed him the German way, and he does neither as far as we can tell.


Again, I’ll leave out the negative.  We’re taking a parenting course PEP4Kids, which places a big emphasis on positive parenting.  I do think it’s a big help for parents to focus on what’s good and not overly much on what needs fixing, but such a conscious choice can make it look like one has it all together, which I assure you, we don’t.  One of the main reasons I wanted to take the course is to learn how to not yell.  I do so much less than I used to, but Joseph has picked it up, and I know I need to eliminate it.  SOMEHOW!


Despite the experimentation with yelling at home, Joseph has become quite social, freely introducing himself to other children, for example in the waiting room at the doctor office, and translating what he thinks relevant if I speak in English.  As in, at the doctor’s office I told the kids I was going to the bathroom and to look after Daniel, and Joseph thought it prudent to announce that to his new playmate . . .

Posted by harp on Monday, November 3, 2014 at 7:57 pm | Edit
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Vivienne is growing in stature, ability, and empathy.  She’ll eat Joseph’s left-over breakfast so he doesn’t have to (and so she doesn’t have to hear him whine), she’ll say “oh sweety” the way I do when her siblings get hurt (do I really sound like that?!?), and she’s nearly potty-trained day and night.  She has a few accidents a week, but they all have some direct cause, like her pants getting stuck on the way down.


Vivienne has learned to use the mouse to navigate like for Grandma’s Treasure Chest online bits.


English is still her stronger language, but she speaks to Daddy in Swiss German as long as she has the words, if not, she’ll just throw in English grammar and vocabulary as necessary.  For example, “Bappe, darf ich help ha bitte.”  It’s fun to see her deliberately try to speak a new word.  I’ve said this before, but it is amazing how kids learn languages.  It’s not easy!  At the dinner table Stephan told Vivienne that if she dropped her cup it would make a big mess, “Sauerei” in German.  She then explained to me in English that “When I drop my cup, I will be a dinosaur!”  Dinosaur in German is “Dinosaurier.”  How trusting kids are, and little wonder she didn’t drop her cup just to see what it would be like to be a dinosaur!


Viv likes to put on her pink plaid dress from the Daleys and dance to music.  Stephan notes “she’s expressive with her arms when dancing/twirling.”


Joseph has been getting a regular allowance and Vivienne has been getting 20rappen for each day and each night she is dry.  Last Sunday she received 2.40 for the week.  She’s been asking for 2 Francs because then she can rent the Hello Kitty DVD from the library, and when I handed her the pile of coins she was overwhelmed with emotion, burying her face in her hands and gasping “Oh my GOSH!”  We have a high-feeling kid on our hands.  I was almost afraid she’d faint.


Another example of her caring ways: Joseph was whining about having to himself a bowl rather than have me do it, so Viv just popped up and ran to get him a bowl.  When Joseph whined that it wasn’t the right color, she returned to the kitchen without any sign of frustration.


Writing this makes it clearer to me that I have to make sure that we do things Vivienne’s way sometimes or she might always give in to Joseph’s stronger personality.  They do play quite well together, though, and often all three of them play happily side-by-side.


I’m low on time, so I’ll skip the negative points, but don’t get the impression that life is idyllic over hear.  We are in a good place at the moment, though, for which I am grateful!

Posted by harp on Saturday, November 1, 2014 at 5:06 pm | Edit
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Daniel is a happy baby, a confident walker who knows his limits but is ever pushing them, a cuddler, a communicator, and an all-around joy to have around!  I finally understand why my Mom loves the 8-18month stage.  Either I’m finally organized enough that age can’t destroy the house, or he has enough entertainment from his siblings, or he’s just a more contented and responsive personality, I’m loving this age and stage.  Just this morning he walked up to me and planted two big kisses on my lips.  What a sweetie!  I’ve started to night wean him and that is going well, so look out, here comes more sleep!!!


Notes from this month:


Daniel likes to imitate sounds he hears; bird crows, dog barks, exclamations, words.



He can put the cap of a pen on and off.

He knows how hold hands during prayer and when the “amen” comes he waves his hands up and down excitedly.  We’ve taken to joining him.


He likes serving others when he knows their need.  Vivienne indicated she wanted water, and he went trotting off to fetch it for her.  He likes carrying dishes from the kitchen to the table and vice-versa, and throwing his night diaper in the trash.  Be warned, once he gets an idea he will carry it through – I once handed him a cup of water that was almost the same color blue of the cup he had just delivered to Joseph.  He trotted off to give that one to Joseph, too, and would not be deterred until Joseph had taken a sip.


22. Sept. Daniel busts his eye socket on the corner of the coffee table while trying to grab a ball . . . he’s healed nicely.


Oct. 1st he gets his 10th tooth – he has both first upper molars now.


He can entertain himself for a good long while looking at books, especially the ASL books.  He likes it when I say and sign the words and often tries to imitate.  So cute!


While Joseph was watching the power point show of the books of the Bible, he looked up when he heard his name.


We love you, Daniel!

Posted by harp on Saturday, October 18, 2014 at 10:21 am | Edit
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Some notes:


Joseph has oftend helped Daddy in the garden, especially harvesting potatoes.  During prayer time he said “thank you for potato digging.”


To Daniel: “Don’t go crawling on my hopscotch.  It’s not a crawlingscotch, it’s a hopscotch.”


While at the pool he’s experimented with dive-jumping in the waist-deep (for and adult) pool.  He also jumps into the kiddie pool once bust his lip when he hit the wall, but healed quickly (August 26).


August 28th I wrote “first piano lesson” and I’m not sure what I meant.  Maybe the first time we looked at the Faber and Faber book together and he asked me to play each piece and tried to play after me.  He got excited about the music theory part (so far just talking about note names).  Wow, that was only a month ago?


At the sandbox I pointed out a pine cone and Joseph said “It’s not a pine phone.”


Sept. 10th Joseph finished TimezAttack.


Joseph can button his shirt alone and has started to pump on the swing.


Sept. 25th Joseph has completed all four operations of TimezAttack and announced “I don’t need to play Big Brainz anymore.”


Joseph started naming different things you can drink: “water, milk, orange juice, apple juice, sugar orange juice, seltzer, raspberry lime, cranberry lime, black cherry, sugar orange.”  Some readers will note that the list includes all the seltzer flavors available at the Maggie P. this summer, including the orange, which wasn’t seltzer, but soda, hence “sugar orange.”


Tonight we were talking about Christmas (because Vivienne wants a Hello Kitty umbrella SO badly and I said she could put it on her Christmas list) and Joseph remembered the advent “calendar” (a series of small pockets on a string) his godmother gave him and described it, asking for it again.  How normal is it for a four-year-old to remember a year ago?  It seemed impressive to me, anyway.


Joseph continues to love to learn in his own way.  I am allowed to collaborate sometimes, but he still doesn’t like direct teaching all that much.  I pray he learns everything I think is necessary on his own steam for a while longer yet, or I imagine it could get pretty ugly!


Joseph is a delight, a big help, and growing more able and mature every day.  We love you!

Posted by harp on Monday, September 29, 2014 at 10:03 pm | Edit
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