Wow...just wow. I've been inundated with so much to do lately...and we've all been fighting illness in the last few weeks. For now, though, everyone seems to be on the mend. The sniffles are minimal; the excitement for the coming holidays is through the roof.
This week marked the second piano lesson that Eli's had. Official piano lessons, anyway. I'd worked with him occasionally on the piano or violin at his request...but now, I've caved and allowed Eli to start formal lessons with a family friend. Bonus: she happens to be Korean, which Eli likes. Extra bonus: her teaching style is very Korean, which means high expectations, lots of homework, specific goals, and strict attention to detail. While, for some kids, this teaching style would backfire, Eli needs it. Everyone's been so relaxed about Eli's learning (including me), that he doesn't take it very seriously, so he needs a little more structure. So far, almost 3 weeks in, Eli is still 'on fire' to learn and is thoroughly enjoying his lessons. And, in usual Eli style, he is learning VERY rapidly. As my family said, he's "taking to it like a duck to water." And, Patrick and I agree, having our four year old run up and say "Look! Look! I drew my own treble clef by myself!" made us so proud. I did have to get onto him once for not taking his piano homework seriously, but he wants to learn so badly, he settled quickly. And when I say piano homework, I definitely mean that enough was given that he has homework NIGHTLY for the week, in addition to practicing the two songs that he's learning. And, in a contrast to American music teachers, instead of practicing for 15 minutes, he wasn't given an amount of time to practice...he was told to play one of the pieces 5 times correctly (starting completely over for errors), and the second (much easier) piece 1 time correctly. For the most part, this actually doesn't take nearly that long...for now. But for his age, I like this approach: playing a piece 5 times correctly is a very concrete goal...practicing for 15 minutes seems to abstract.
Eli's not done very much academically this week. We did manage to FINALLY begin Life of Fred: Dogs, which we are thoroughly enjoying. Eli's losing interest in his 1st and 2nd grade math books, because he's mastered almost all of the material in them. The only skills in these grade levels that he still needs to work on are borrowing with subtraction (which he's almost ready for) and a deeper understanding of place value. I will say, though, we've gone back to using the IXL website, and I let him play on the 3rd grade math activities. He taught himself to divide - by 5s, anyway; since he competently multiplies by 2s, 5s, and 10s, he could probably also figure out how to divide by 2 or 10. Eli's not showing a ton of reading growth lately, but he's not been practicing much, either. Our library started a winter reading club for kids, and he joined, so at least I know he'll read a total of 4 books this month. He's only done 1 so far, but is ready for another. The first book he read, Pepper and Poe, was absolutely adorable and is a new family favorite. While it's very simple (and has very few words to read), the story is really sweet and quite funny. It reminded me somewhat of Purina's "Dear Kitten" videos.
In other news, Itty Bitty failed a routine Early Intervention milestones check earlier this week. For those who don't know, in my area, Early Intervention is called BCW (Babies Can't Wait). The fact that he failed is not a big deal at this point, though he will have to have a more in-depth evaluation. The area he failed was gross motor/physical. He failed for three milestones. One, though we've seen him roll over (both directions), it's been at about a month since I've seen him do it. I honestly think that's mostly because of weight gain for the back-to-front roll....and because he strongly prefers to play on his tummy, he won't generally roll front-to-back. Two, he doesn't get up "into a crawling position." He is trying to move on the floor, but honestly hasn't figured it out yet. Third, he doesn't play with his feet while lying on his back. Again, I think that's partly because of his weight...and partly because he doesn't like to lie on his back at all. He DOES play with his feet sometimes when he's sitting up, though...but the evaluator said that this didn't count. I told her that he's pulling to stand, trying to lift a foot to step when he's standing, and that he's sitting independently, but that didn't count either. So, we have to wait on a physical therapist to call and set up an appointment to see him. Who knows? I could be wrong and he's simply not as flexible or as strong in some of the areas he should be. But, as strong as he is and as mobile as he tries to be, I'm not worried at this point. He's doing very well, and making progress all across the board. I wish he got more "floor time" at daycare, as I think this would help him, but he always seems to be in a bouncy seat, highchair, walker, swing, crib,..etc. In the meantime, I am going to try to give him some extra 'floor time' lying down at home, so that he can work on moving about.
Itty Bitty has had some really cute moments this week, though. Saturday afternoon, when he woke up to see a Christmas tree in the living room, the bewilderment on his face was absolutely hysterical. He looked from the tree to us several times with wide eyes; we could tell he had so many questions, but can't yet ask them all. Nearly a week later, he still looks at the tree quizzically.
Last night, he surprised us a couple of times by standing on his own. He's generally loved sitting on my leg and rock back-and-forth. Suddenly, yesterday, he gave an extra lunge, and ended up standing. I held his hand for support, then realized he didn't need it. I let go (but with hands nearby, so that he wouldn't fall), and he held it for a second or two. He's been using my shirt to pull himself to stand, but that is definitely the first time he got into the position on his own.
Finally, Wednesday night, at Eli's church choir practice, Itty Bitty surprised me again. The kids were all chatting, and a couple of the other moms and I (several with babies Itty Bitty's age) were sitting and playing with the babies. But, when the kids started singing, Itty Bitty had an immediate reaction. He froze, whipped his head around to find the sound, and struggled to turn to see the kids sing. Each time the kids took a break, Itty Bitty would turn back and show interest in the other babies and people (including me). Each time the kids began singing, Itty Bitty was so entirely focused on the music that I was unable to get his attention or distract him. When I tried to turn his back to them, he struggled to reorient himself so that he could see. It's the first time he's ever done anything like this before and it was really cute (albeit very surprising!). He does not do this at home, and ignores the background music at school...but we were very tickled by his behavior.