Sunday, October 19, 2014

Some General Updates

I really wanted to post tonight, but have so many things on my mind, that I thought it might be nice to have a "snapshot" style post.

  • This previous week was much improved for Eli.  He's starting to adjust to his new teacher and is feeling calmer at school. He had a fantastic week last week, though he informed me on Thursday that "it is SO HARD to be good for Mrs. E...!" His teacher was surprised to see a very differently-behaved (calm!) child, now that he's finally starting to settle down.  Hopefully, we weathered the worst of that storm for now.

  • We had a difficult day last week when one of our horses was sick (colic). Unfortunately, we had to have the emergency vet out to help treat her, and were up quite late that night. We are glad that she is back to normal and seems to be feeling just fine now.  Eli spent most of the time following the vet around and asking TONS of questions (and trying to be a "good helper"). Both our horse vet and our small animal vet are longtime family friends and adore kids. For this, we are very thankful!
  • Our dog, Rocky, who was started back on aspirin, is somewhat improved, but we are considering a medication that will be easier on his stomach. 

  • My long-term project in the garage, to create a large, safe, play area for Eli, is definitely coming along. I am now going through some old books in our storage area (we call it the "little room"). Most of them belonged to my great-grandparents and my great-great-grandparents.  It's painful and difficult to get rid of so many beautiful old books, but they've barely been looked at in the 10 years that they have been boxed up in storage.  It would be nice if they could be a blessing to someone else. It has been lovely to see all of the warm, heart-felt inscriptions in so many of them. I am going to miss having them all...which I know is probably very silly and overly-sentimental to most people.  I am not getting rid of all of them...but I am trying to decrease the collection by 75% or so - so that I have room to store some of Eli's baby stuff. And besides...I really only want to keep the ones that are extra-special to me.  
  •  I am also (finally) thinking about donating the writings of my great-great-grandfather to the Atlanta History Center or to the GA Archives, though I am going to keep digital copies of what he's written. He was a poet who dabbled in writing sermons and short essays...and beautiful, sweet, love letters.  The paper that they are typed on is disintegrating, and I really don't want these to be lost forever.

  • We are getting busier and busier as we move into fall. Eli has decided that he wants to sing in the children's choir at church and to participate in Wednesday night fellowship. We'd gone to the church last Wednesday, so that I could attend a children's ministry meeting. He was so happy to be able to play on the church playground with his church friends during fellowship time. He was a little disappointed today that there was no children's church (because the children's leaders were on vacation). I also think it would be great for him to have friends that aren't leaving him for Kindergarten next year! 

  • Eli's also still begging to start back at gymnastics....and Patrick and I are considering it.  I asked him if he'd like to play t-ball or soccer in the spring...and he replied "Both...but I really would rather do gymnastics."  He's absolutely set his mind on going back to gymnastics. He's not been in the gym for more than a year and a half...but still remembers it and can describe the things they used to do.  We're thinking about letting him for a little while, to see if he still enjoys it or not. He may very well enjoy it for a few months or so, then want to switch to something else. If anything, the strength and agility he'd be exposed to there should serve him well in any activity that he wants to enjoy. He loves to do so many things...and at different times, he's asked for swimming, piano, horse-back riding, ice skating/hockey, and martial arts lessons, too.  I'm hoping to keep him in no more than 1 activity at a time (plus church), so that he can explore different things and figure out what he really enjoys - but without sacrificing our family time.
  • Eli is also really enjoying playing his version of "tennis." As a reward for good behavior this week, I'd tried to take him to a nearby park to play tennis (his choice!), but all of the courts at the 3 parks we checked were full. We were finally able to find a time to play at a local school's court - and it was hilarious. Eli's learning to make contact with the ball, though he can't hit the ball over the net. He can, however, hit it directly BACKWARDS quite well. Eli spent a LOT of time chasing the ball with a huge grin on his face...and we both had a lot of fun.
  • Eli's been riding his bike a great deal, now, too. It's actually getting to be pretty difficult to keep up with him when he rides. He's fast! He loves to ride, and we took him to a new park to ride on a path this weekend.  He's definitely learning how to stop better, and surprised us by not only using the brakes, but putting his feet down when he stops (as opposed to jumping off the back of his bike to stop, which is what he was doing last week).   He also did a surprising maneuver where he coasted up to a bike rack, slowed down, parked his front tire in the rack,  and sat on his bike - waiting for Grandpa and I to catch up. He does still need someone to help him get onto his bike...but once he's on, he's good to go!
  • Eli's currently in a "period of consolidation."  Maria Montessori noted that kids, like adults, go through periods where a lot of learning takes place, then a normal "slow down" time to consolidate knowledge. I noticed that this particular slow-down coincided with the arrival of his new teacher, but I do think that it was coincidental that the two events happened at the same time. Eli's started to pick back up on a learning streak again. I've watched Eli, and have noticed his learning rhythms...a week or two of relaxation and imaginative playing...a  week or two of incessant, unceasing talking and asking every imaginable question...2-3 weeks of intense learning about anything that strikes his fancy, and a week or two of slowing down before repeating the process. Right now, we are definitely in the talking/questioning part of his learning cycle, and about to enter the intense learning phase.  As always, Patrick and I follow Eli's interests, and try to encourage him (but not push him). We are still using (primarily) Montessori methods at home...but I can't bring myself to resist correcting his work sometimes...and I really don't think we do enough science or geography at home.  However, Eli is constantly reminding us whether the sun is rising or setting in Japan (he knows it is the opposite of the US).
  • He started really, really wanting to read today, for the first time in a couple of weeks.   When Eli doesn't appear interested in something (even reading), we respect his wishes and let him be. In other words, we've not really read stories together in a couple weeks - though he has listened to a few books on CD in the car (usually, he likes to listen to an eclectic mix of the Frozen soundtrack, old DC Talk/Toby Mac songs, the VeggieTales, and classical/acapella music). Today, however, we read together while Patrick was completing an errand. When Patrick came home, Eli happened to be reading a story (The Very Hungry Caterpillar) aloud.  Although we have a couple of the author's other books, this one was new to Eli. As Eli read aloud, he didn't miss a beat as Patrick walked through the door....and Patrick was floored to hear him reading so well and fluently.  I knew this day was coming soon...when Eli would begin to read more complex stories by himself...but even I was surprised by how well Eli read.  He only had trouble on two or three pages. At this point, Eli's using phonics, whole-word recognition, and context clues to figure out the words on the page.  There's nothing quite like hearing my 3-year-old explain that "th" is a digraph, and that it means they form a special sound when they are together in a word. He is also able to legibly write the words he knows (though he sometimes asks how to spell words), and can write whole words an sentences.  He is definitely into word games (like word searches and simple "fill-in" crossword puzzles). 
  • Last night, Eli counted to 150+ in the car...and remarked "these numbers just keep going!"  He is definitely recognizing 2 digit numbers and is becoming pretty fluid with addition/subtraction that can be accomplished on his fingers : ).
  • On a final note for tonight, someone wants to simultaneously be Yoda, a Ninja Turtle (Donatello OR Raphael), and Dr. Who for Halloween. Decisions, decisions : ). My feelings about Halloween are pretty ambiguous (I am also fairly ambiguous about Valentine's Day), but Eli has such an imagination and loves to pretend to be various characters, that I certainly don't mind him enjoying that aspect of it. And, while I don't particularly care for messy pumpkin-carving, I do love to roast pumpkin seeds! Hopefully, he'll be able to make a decision before next week!

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