Sunday, December 17, 2017

Every. Single. Minute.

The Duke and Duchess of Sabie Manor are very pleased to share this lovely picture as they celebrate master Grant’s fourth birthday, 
and would like to thank everyone for all of the kind messages they have received.

My conversations with Grant are the highlight of my day.

Wait - AND my husband coming home from work, seeing Logan grow up, playing with Ollie and Toby, my back not hurting anymore, and breathing air... yup, conversations with Grant are a huge highlight of my day.

Why? They make me laugh. They make me think. They make me smile. They make me appreciate the way his mind works. They make me want to climb in the back of the van with him and snuggle and hope someone else can drive us to school.

On the way to school today...

Grant: Mom, this ride is so long. I'm going to count to 100.
Me: Okay, go.

G: 1, 2, 3, wait! That will take too long. I'm going to start at 11. 11, 12, 13... No wait. Count by 10s it will be faster. 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100!
M: Whew! That was quick. We are still on the freeway.

G: Ya mom, you should drive faster.
M: I can only go as fast as the car in front of me.

G: Mom, pick a faster car to follow tomorrow.

In the mornings, I don't play music. I don't have the radio on. We drive in silence. I don't ask questions. I wait. If nothing else, parenthood has taught me to sit quietly and wait (I'll hold while you all giggle at me waiting and being quiet.)
I wait for the magic that happens when Grant and Logan are in the car together. They talk to each other. They laugh. Grant tells me all about the dinosaur that lives in the forest - the grove of trees we pass every day. Grant used to count the school buses. Three school buses was normal, only one meant we were early, and one day we counted seven - we were really late to school that day. Now he keeps track of trucks, car transporters, blue cars, red trucks... you name it and depending on the day he is tracking it. I have no use for music in my car, just the boys talking and laughing is music to my ears.


The other day, Grant asked me what his belly button was for. In our house, we answer the question we were asked, but stop there. Usually just enough information is... well, enough. 

G: (eating lunch with Logan). Mom, why do we have belly buttons?
M: Well, when you were in my tummy, I ate food. That food went from my tummy in to your tummy through a hose to your belly button.

G: EW. Gross. Good thing we have mouths now.
M: Yup, good thing.

G: Logan too?
M: Yup, my tummy fed Logan's tummy too.
Grant now gets up to walk over and pick up Logan's shirt to make sure he has a belly button too. Logan takes this as an invitation and takes off his shirt at the table.

G: You fed us through a hose?
M: Well, I chewed it first, and it got digested. And then you got it. It made you grow.
Grant makes a face, sits down, and continues to eat his lunch while contemplating the meaning of life. Logan, in Logan fashion, is done with lunch and announces this by throwing all his food on the floor.


Before our trip to Costco the other day:

Grant: Logan, make sure you poop before we go so you don’t smell like poop in Costco.

I could not agree more. 


Speaking of counting to 100, it was Mom's day at school the other day and I got to visit Grant at school and have him show me around.

This is a picture from one of Grant's teachers. The school uses an app to take photos during the day and they show up on the app on my phone. Love it. Grant is learning to use the 1-100 board. First, you organize the numbers in groups of 10 under the correct heading, and then place them in the square board in the proper order. You can see by the order Grant did all the 10's first, and then sort of just fills in as he goes.

 Same day, total joy and excitement at being done with his "work".

On Mom's Day, I went to school with Grant for an hour and he got to show me all around the classroom and what his favorite "works" are. First of all - do not sit in the wrong spot! 19 moms all trying to sit down in the classroom with their kids telling them "No mom, that's not my special spot." AH!! Someone please tell me where to sit. I finally gave Grant my hand and said "Tell mom where to be," and he did. He placed me right where you see me and I stayed for fear of being yelled at.

He immediately pulls out a rug (all works must be done on a rug), unrolls the rug, and goes straight for the 1-100 board. This time even though he lined up the categories at the top, he skipped them and took the tiles from the box and went immediately to the board. The board is basically a 10 x 10 grid with 100 squares penciled in. You can see he started with 1, 2, 3 and 5. Then the fun started. What you don't see is that then he pulled out all the 10's - 10, 20, 30... and lined them up down the side of the board. Then he started pulling out random tiles and placing them in the square where they go.

Example: he pulled out 67 and put his finger on the 60 tile already on the board, counted 7 squares over, and put the 67 in that square. If you've ever wanted to see a mom try her hardest not to cry in preschool, today was the day. I sat there. I said nothing. I tried by very best not to jump in, and then realized, I wasn't needed anyway. And that's the point. He did it all by himself.

Now I must add he likes to type on the computer at home. He types letters, tries to spell things, and has recently learned you can type numbers too. I set up a square template for him in Excel to type numbers in 1-100 (before he did this work at school) and we talked about how you know you did it right when all the 1's line up going down - 1, 11, 21, 31...they all line up.

When he was done with the work at school, before I could say anything, he looked at me and said "I know I did it right because look, all the 7's line up." Ugh. Tears.

Yes, there is Dad's day early next semester. Will keep you posted.

More Fun with Questions

When we are getting ready for school, Grant does most of the heavy lifting himself. We set out his clothes the night before, which he promptly vetoes the next morning and picks new clothes. He and Logan both can pick out their breakfast, and luckily, Logan likes to copy brother and everyone brushes their teeth together. We were brushing teeth one morning and I mentioned we will have to put the children's toothpaste on the shopping list...
(Keep in mind the three of us are brushing our teeth while we have this little chat).

G: Which shopping list does it go on? 
M: Well, I will put it on Target and the grocery store and where ever we go first is where we will get it.

G: But where is it?
M: At both places, Target and Schnucks.

G: But where?
M: You mean where in the store? (nodding) In Target, the toothpaste is over by all the lotions and soaps, where all those aisles are together. 

G: Oh, where all the pretty mom stuff is at Target?
M: (trying not to laugh and spit out toothpaste) Yes bud, over by all the pretty mom stuff.


Grant's Birthday

For Grant's birthday we were invited to the preschool class to spend a few minutes telling the class all about Grant, what he likes, sharing his favorite toys, and then reading Grant's favorite book to the class. Kyle, Logan and I all got ready and the 4 of us went to school together. He was shy about having us in "his space" and was not really happy about being the center of attention. I don't think it is a case of being embarrassed, more shy and not wanting the attention - more so not wanting everyone looking at him. We were only there for 20 minutes, and once we left I'm sure he bounced right back to his normal self at school.

Grant goes to a Montessori school and birthdays are science-based. Grant is supposed to hold the Earth and walk around the sun (a lit candle) 4 times to learn that a year is once around the sun, but he said no thanks to that. Kyle held the Earth and told the class all about Grant's exciting first 4 years. You can see Logan in the background, exploring the class and not having a concern for what is going on.

Then we switched and it was my turn to show the class the collage that Grant made of family pictures, stickers, cut-outs from magazines and coloring books of all his favorite toys. He even did the scissors and glue-stick all by himself.

In the end, it was time to go. Gave him one big hug and off we went. I'm sure he was happy to have it all over and done with.
Funny thing happened later that day - I was taking Logan to the Toddler room to meet the teacher - he will start 2 days a week in January with the same Toddler teacher that Grant had - and we saw Grant's class walk by. Every student in line behind the teacher, all hands at the sides, eyes straight ahead, totally quiet. I gave Grant the big mom wave, and he turned his head to look at me once, and kept on walking.

Forty-five minutes later when I picked him up and he climbed in the van he says right away "Mom, we aren't allowed to talk. We have to have eyes front, mouths closed and hands on our hips." Okay bud, you did a great job then.
"Ya, Logan is going to have to learn all these rules pretty quickly."

Funny conversation earlier that morning - the morning he turned 4 and clearly a switch turned on in his brain because he is a totally different person than the 3 yr old from last week. All four of us were in the kitchen having breakfast getting ready to go to school...

G: Mom - what are those bumps on your shoulders?
M: Hmmm....what are you talking about bud?

G: Those two bumps on your  shoulders? (points to his chest)
M: (Keep it straight. Keep it simple. Go for science.). Bud, ladies and men are different. Ladies have breasts in case they have babies, then they can feed the babies milk. I'm a lady and I have had two babies, you and Logan.

G: All ladies have them?
M: Yes. Every one is different. All ladies are different. They are in case you have a baby, then you can feed the baby milk.

G: Oh, can I have another breakfast bar?
M: Yup, here you go.

Naps and Quiet Games

Due to being the 2nd child, Logan gets the shaft on morning naps. He gets a quick nap while we drive Grant to school, and another quick one when we pick Grant up. Therefore, he is a great after-lunch napper. Grant is not an every-day napper, but has picked up the skills for playing quietly. We have a rule while I take Logan upstairs and read books for nap, Grant can come with us, read books on his own, or find a quiet game to play until I come back downstairs. The other day I was upstairs reading Logan books and in the back of my mind I heard the basement door open. I heard feet going down the steps, the cabinet open, and a game being brought back up to the kitchen. Then I heard tiles being stacked on the kitchen table and he was telling Ollie "mom says we have to be quiet" in the loudest little boy shhhh-voice you can imagine.

I knew he was playing Rummikub. We had brought the game out before and just lined up the numbers and looked at the tiles, never really played the game by the rules. However, I think when he gets a bit older he will jump right in and beat the pants off of all of us. I was not ready for what I saw when I came downstairs.

This is what he did. On his own. Quietly, in about 20 minutes. He pulled out the trays and not only separated by color, but you can see he had time to put some of them in order. He was so excited he talked in the loudest whisper ever. I asked if he wanted me to play with him and he politely declined, "No thank you, I'm good. I'm almost done lining them up."

Of course when Logan woke up, he saw what was on the table and Grant was willing to show Logan how to do it. Logan mostly wanted to chew on the tiles and try to place them in the tray. Grant would come by every few minutes to help Logan separate them by color and line them up. Then Logan would knock everything on the floor just to watch Grant lose his marbles... and so it goes. 

Those of you who have played cards with me before know that I hold my cards backwards. Rummy, poker - you name it and I hold my cards with the higher numbers on the left. When I would play cards with mom and Grandma Siemens, Grandma Siemens used to call me "Mandi from backwards land." Well, look who else is from backwards land, and no, I did not show him that.


Last year Grant had just turned 3, and it was the first year he understood the idea of presents. Did he understand Christmas? Probably not. He had just had a birthday and turned 3, and all the presents on the table were for him. Then 10 days later was Christmas and he had a tough time understanding why all the presents under the tree were not for him. I can see the confusion. The big milestone was just being excited and physically knowing how to unwrap and get to the present. Last year with just the four of us, actually three because Logan was 6 months old and napped through most of it, opening presents took 4 hours. No exaggeration. He would open a present and be so excited (which is exactly what you want) and then go off and play with present. We had to remind him to come back because he had a few more. This year's birthday was pretty much the same, with about 20 minutes per present while he played with each one. Which really, is exactly what you would hope for because so many kids rip through the paper only to see what it is and reach for the next gift. These days at the ones to enjoy.

This year, Grant understands a bit more, and while Logan doesn't totally understand, he does notice when Grant thinks something is important or special, so he follows suit. Here are a few of the things that the boys think are pretty important.

The felt Christmas tree. I bought this last year (or maybe the year before that when he was 2?) on etsy for Grant to play with. The idea was he could move the ornaments and presents around on this tree and not on the real tree. Grant still loves to play with it. Logan mostly ignores it until Grant is playing with it, and then goes over to bug Grant.

Kyle does the house up every year. He changes out the bulbs to the lights on the house so they are red and green, and we have a candy cane walk-way. I open the front door so the boys can see out through the clear storm door and look at the candy canes lit up and all the lights on the neighbors' houses. Grant will ask me every day "Can you tell the sun to go down so we can see the lights?"

I call it the Costco Christmas tree. The impulse-purchase Christmas tree that sings lovely standard Christmas songs and has Santa and his reindeer on one level and a train on the bottom, and it lights up! What more could two boys want? I'm actually surprised we haven't broken it yet. We are on year 2 and the boys keep trying to put in their own trains on the bottom track and it blocks the whole thing up. Tough little singing tree!


A friend of mine, who knows I try to sneak in reading books whenever I can, recently asked me to join a book club. I said thanks but politely declined. My thought process on that is I have a very limited time to read all the books on my long long list, and I usually the books other people read aren't the ones I want to read. In theory, I don't want to read the same book as 11 other people and then talk about it. HOWEVER, if you could have 12 people read 12 different books and then come to a meeting and talk about them, I could learn about 11 different books and then quickly either add them to my read list or my no-thanks list.

If you read books and want to talk about them, I am on with a few friends and we post our reviews there. Goodreads is a good way to keep track of the books you have read, plus the books you want to read, and read reviews from other people about books you are on the fence about - like Netflix is for movies, Goodreads is for books. I also have a small group on facebook where we post our book reviews. Just let me know if you are interested.

I am currently reading a book by Joe Biden, Promise me, Dad.
Regardless if you like his politics or not, this is a great book about family. love, hope and motivation. I find it very interesting too because we get play-by-play info of certain political aspects that you don't hear everyday on the news. I also had no idea that he was married before Jill and that his two sons are not from his current wife. No spoilers here, you learn that on the first few pages. His first wife is the wife of his two sons and a young daughter, but the wife and daughter die in a car accident that nearly kills the boys as well. You will be in tears by page 4.  Happy tears and sad tears. Highly recommend.

When I read a book, rarely do I get it from the library. The books I have read most recently are to learn a new skill, add to parenting theories, or read about a person. I don't just read books, I devour them. I highlight, I write, I love my books. I consume them.  I rarely give them away or loan them out. If I do loan a book out I have no expectation of getting it back. The house of my dreams has a room in it just for books, so I can keep all the books I read and look at them again. In that regard, I suggest you buy your own Joe Biden book, because this one I am keeping.

I also just read a fiction trilogy, mostly because they are turning the first book into a movie and I wanted to see what the fuss was all about. It is the Southern Reach trilogy: Annihilation; Authority; Acceptance, by Jeff VanderMeer. Great books, a quick read, but you don't want to read them quickly. You need to pay attention. I did buy these books off Amazon because it was faster than waiting for my turn at the library. They are making a movie off the first book with Natalie Portman, and it is one of those books where if the movie nails it, then it will be awesome and epic, or it could go horribly wrong and be the worst movie ever. After reading all 3 books, I am excited to see the movie. I do have these books, and I am happy to pass them along to anyone who would like to read them.

That's all I have for now! Until next time, keep exploring! Love and hugs from our family to yours.

M, K, G, L, T & O