The kids are still too little to stay up till midnight, so we put them to bed at the usual time, and started off 2014 relatively well-rested. Grandma & Grandpa left out for the frozen steppes of Ohio on January 4, though, which meant the kids had absolutely wicked grandparent-attention hangovers for the next couple of days — particularly on Monday the 6th, which saw Daddy back to work after a nice long break, and Annika still at home (school didn’t start up again until Jan. 7).
—Running: Annika decided she’d like to get into running, particularly to do the Wildflower Run this April with me (she’d do the kids’ 2K, I’d do the 5K) so she can get a medal. So when Grandma and I took the kids to Stride Rite to get properly fitted, we got her a pair of running shoes to go with the running clothes R. already got her, and she and I went for a run nearly every day of the break (and a few times on the way home from school). She takes it seriously, as is her wont, but also there is a lot of leaping, and tangents, and complaining about how faaaaar we’re going, hah!
—Free Dress day: The kids at her school contributed so much money to the fund for victims of the hurricane in the Philippines that they earned a free dress day. Annika, like most of the girls, took that as their opportunity to go fancy; she wore a swishy long skirt, a purple shirt with a big sequined heart on the front, and her sparkly silver shoes. So cute!
—Scrooge McDuck: The kid has some serious Scrooge tendencies. Lately her thing is that she wants to save up $400 to buy her own iPad Mini, which she persists in refusing to believe we wouldn’t let her just use all the time whenever she wants (“It would be MINE, bought with MY OWN MONEY,” she says … but the house rules would still apply, so, dream on, kid). So she’s bugging us for money, bugging us for chores to earn money, and putting all the money she has out on a table or bed and counting it, again and again …
—Bingeing on Lexia/DreamBox: At the computer lab at her school, they do these two programs called Lexia (reading) and DreamBox (math). She got obsessed with the levels (as she does), and badgered us to set her up with the programs at home, which we did; in one weekend, she played for like six hours at a time (while I did the Ace Parenting move of reading an 800-plus page novel, The Goldfinch). Result: She earned dozens of “coins” in DreamBox, and is now up to Level 5 (third grade) in Lexia.
—Impromptu playdate at Grace & Sean’s: I leaned on my friend Anne to take Lukas while I did the Cornerstone reading (finally caught up! woo!) at Annika’s school, and then when we went to pick him up, we just kind of stayed there for awhile. The four of those kids really do have a good time together (Sean, 4, enjoys playing big brother to Lukas), and Anne is pretty much my best friend I’ve made here in old San Ho, so it was good times all around.
—Passing the Gabba torch: So, judging by her choices when she’s in control of the remote, Annika has outgrown Yo Gabba Gabba! at last. But luckily for R. and me, Lukas has taken it up in a big way. He LOVES it, so so much. I’m really glad we will get to hang out with the Gabba gang for awhile longer.
—Working together: They are friends, and are learning how to depend on each other. The funniest example lately: Lukas leaning on one elbow and saying hopefully, in the car after swimming or whatever, as if they’ve just finished a tough but productive shift at the factory, "Watch somefin on tee-fee?” and Annika nodding thoughtfully, “Yeah, I think so.”
—Footstool Follies: Oh my heck, him with his little gray footstool, toting it everywhere like a beloved pet, and chocking it down and reaching for every goddamn thing, it’s driving me NUTS. It increases his reach (and he is already a Gumby octopus), his sight lines, his underfootedness … I mean, I’m proud of his simian ingenuity, I guess, but aaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhgggggghhh.
—Numbers: He knows his numbers 1, 2 and 3 really well now; I quiz him on how many (eyes, ears, noses, heads, feet) he has, and he always gets it, plus he can count how many marshmallows or whatever I put in front of him. He can say the next number all the way to ten (if you say “1, 2, 3, 4 …” he knows it’s 5), but can’t do independent counting that high yet.
—“Ah-ka OK?” Whenever she coughs, sneezes, or is out of his line of sight.
—“Daddy go to wuhk.” When Daddy is dressed and headed out the door.
—“Mommy OWN-leee.” Demonstrating that he does too know he’s not supposed to do, or touch, or handle, or whatever deviltry he’s currently doing as he says it.
—“Haffit right now!” Insisting, always.
—“WALK SELF!” Dog forbid you try to carry him across the road, or anywhere else. FOR SHAME.
—“Curian George” The good little monkey, friends with the man in the yellow hat.
—“monster soap” The Elmo & Friends training toothpaste we use on his baby toothbrush.