Sunday, February 24, 2013

Max is Three!

Our baby boy turned three years old on February 1. We scheduled his wellness check up on the his birthday so I was able to find out his stats.  Weight is 32lb 6oz (50 - 75%) and height is 37.25" (50 - 75%).  Max is growing well and very healthy.  The pediatrician tried to carry a conversation with him to test out his verbal skills but he had a little stage fright and didn't say much.  At home, we've really noticed a big difference in Max's language skills in the last couple of months.  He's really stringing lots of words together and I'm particularly impressed with his proper use of tenses and pronouns.  Here are some of the things you might hear him say:

me: Max, eat your rice and tofu please
Max: I DID, I already ATE my rice!

Max: I'm tired
Jalen: then go to sleep!
Max: I WILL!

Max (on seeing a picture of Rick on the TV): that's YOU Daddy, that's YOU!

Here are some other things that are memorable about Max at 3 years old:
  •  He loves his set of 4 wooden Thomas the Train puzzles.  He will do them over and over again even though it probably takes him less than 5 minutes to complete each one.
  • Unfortunately, he doesn't know his numbers and letters that well yet.  We really have to work on this one.  
  • Max is obsessed with the Disney/Pixar Cars movies.  He especially loves Mater and loves all of the Mater's Tall Tale shorts.  He can almost recite all of them by heart even though he doesn't understand all of the words.
  • He loves to eat oranges.  When he eats navel oranges, he really cleans up all of the flesh.  He also loves to eat strawberries.  Other than that, he's quite a picky eater.  When he likes something he'll eat a lot but otherwise it can be quite a struggle to get him to eat. His all time favorite food is probably french fries.
  • Max is 90% potty trained!  He stays dry all day in his underwear.  We still put him in pull-ups at night but he's been dry overnight for at least 1 month.  He doesn't quite tell us when he needs to go pee so we do remind him to but he always tells us when he needs to poop because we let him watch Mater's Tall Tales as a treat afterwards.  I still need to get him to be able to go to the bathroom all by himself (without peeing all over the floor).
  • Max is not great at sharing toys.  He and Jalen often fight over the same things and egg each other on.  I often have to separate them and tell Jalen to play in a different room.
This year, I decided not to throw a big birthday party for Max.  We don't have a lot of friends with kids his age so if I had a big party, I'd be more worried about entertaining the older kids than Max.  So instead, I decided to have a birthday outing for him instead.  We took him to the Seattle Children's Museum for the afternoon.  Jalen and Max both had a lot of fun exploring the museum.  I still don't think Max realized that we did that for him, he was just having fun.

Here's Max in the art studio making a heart with clay.  He looks adorable in his little apron!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Potty Training Round 2

When Jalen reached about two and half years old, the day care that he attended at the time naturally started to potty train him.  They took him to the toilet about every 2 hours and encouraged him to use it in front of all his toddler friends.  When the school felt he was ready, they asked us to send Jalen to school in underwear (along with a couple of set of extra clothes).  After just a month or so (and a couple of accidents) we were diaper free with Jalen!  He kept his underwear dry day and night and rarely had accidents except when he waited too long to go to the toilet.  I was extra proud because I reached my goal of potty training Jalen before baby #2 was born.

This time around with Max, we started trying to get him to pee in the toilet around 2.5 years as well.  He showed little interest at first until we finally had a break through after Jalen showed him how to do it.  This was around last October so he was about 2 years and 8 months.  Max's school was a lot more passive compared to Jalen's old day care.  Whenever I asked them how Max did on the toilet at school they kind of just shrugged and told me that he wouldn't go.  This meant that we as parents had to take on a much more active role in potty training.  After the break through in October we decided to put him in Pull Ups and take him to the bathroom every 2 hours.  He did well and peed every time we took him but he wouldn't proactively go to the toilet.  It goes without saying that he wouldn't tell us when he needed to poop either.  After a couple of months and a few boxes of Pull Ups later, I decided to pull the plug on the expensive Pull Ups and went cold turkey with underwear.  Getting him to wear underwear was no problem since we bought a 10-pack of Cars 2 underwear from Costco a long time ago in anticipation of this.  He had 1 accident the first 2 days on the weekend.  When I sent him to school on Monday I was extra nervous and packed him 2 sets of extra clothes.  When I picked him up later that day, I was shocked that he was still wearing the same clothes!  The teachers said he did great but no poop.  Later that night, Max came over to me and said "uh oh, all wet".  He had peed in his pants.  After we took off his pants, he said "I need to go poo poo".  I was thinking, "could this be?!"  I sat him on the toilet and sure enough, a few minutes later he made his first #2 in the toilet!  This is a gross and most proud moment in a parent's life.  We hooped and cheered him on to give him all the positive reinforcement we could muster.  After that milestone, he stayed dry with no accidents (and 3 more poops in the toilet) until the following Saturday when he pooped in his underwear while we were visiting a friend's house.  Now it's day 16 with big boy under wear and no accidents at school so far (knock on wood).  He still wears pull ups at night but if this pattern continues, I'd be perfectly happy.  I'm already imagining the days in my future when I can leave the house without a giant diaper bag.  

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Jalen's Limited Mandarin

Jalen is now almost 1 month into his bilingual English-Chinese kindergarten program and he has finally started to share some of his new Chinese vocabulary with us. For example, he knows his colors like red (hong se), yellow (huang se) and brown (kafei se); and he's learning shapes like triangle (san jiao xing) and circle (yuan quan). He is slowly starting to surpass his daddy in Chinese! The surprising part is that Max is starting to copy his older brother. The other day he said out of nowhere "dian dian tou" -- nod your head because Jalen had been repeating it in song.

Friday, September 14, 2012

First Week of the School Year

Last week was a busy week of transition.  On Tuesday, the day after Labor Day, Max started his first day at his new day care at El Centro de la Raza.  It's a bilingual English/Spanish daycare.  Before his first day, we brought him in twice to visit so that it wouldn't be such a culture shock for him.  He had a fairly smooth first week.  His teachers commented that Max knew just what to do when it came time to eat or sleep.  He was only fussy after drop off but then would be happy the rest of the day.  I guess Max is a day care veteran now that he's at his third daycare in less than two years.  I always feel a pang of guilt whenever I put him through a new transition but I also have to remind myself that kids are incredibly resilient and sometimes these transitions are harder on the parents than the children.

On Wednesday, Jalen started kindergarten at Beacon Hill International School.  The morning was pretty hectic where all the parents crowded in the class room with their iPhones and digital SLRs snapping away photos like the paparazzi.  There are 3 kindergarten classes and they're all in a big open room with bookshelves and easels as dividers.  It must have been pretty overwhelming for Jalen. When the class bell rang and all the parents were being ushered out of the class so we had to say good bye to Jalen, he quietly shed a couple of tears.  But he just bravely wiped them away and tearfully said good bye.  Initially, Jalen was assigned to the all day English kindergarten program.  We had hoped that he would be in the Mandarin immersion program but since we moved in May and kindergarten registration happens in March, we ended up as #3 on the wait list.  Then on Wednesday afternoon we got the call from the principal and received the news that Jalen is IN for Mandarin immersion.  So from Thursday on, he gets English and social studies in the morning then after lunch he goes to Mandarin immersion where he learns math and science in Chinese.  After he got home on Thursday, I asked him if he learned any new Chinese words.  He said he learned a lot of Chinese words but he doesn't remember any of them.  Haha.  We just need to be patient as I'm sure he'll pick it up in no time.  I'm so excited that Jalen will be learning Chinese consistently.  I better brush up my Mandarin as well so I can start speaking to him in Mandarin at home more.

So now we face a brand new world of bilingual education (can you imagine when Max starts speaking Spanish?) and public school education.  Next week there's a kindergarten potluck where the parents can meet each other.  Then later in September we have our first PTA meeting.  I'm trying not to think too much about it so that I don't get overwhelmed.  It just seems that there's always new transitions so I just need to start accepting change as the norm.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Max's Limited Sentences

Being a second child means that Max is constantly being compared to his older brother. I remember when Jalen was about 2 years 4 months old he really turned the corner and started talking in full sentences. He'd say things like "I want to sit next to you". Max, on the other hand, is still in baby talk mode. He says a lot of things but only I can understand them because I "talk" to him everyday. He is talking in 3 to 4 word sentences though and here are some examples:

I need help
I wanna go bye bye
I ride bike!
I wanna watch TV
I'm bao bao (full)
I want nai nai (milk)
I'm sorry
I want wafu (waffle)
I don't want it
I play cars!
Bye bye choo choo train!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Scenes From the New Daycare

One of the benefits of the new school, Bright Horizons, is that they send frequent email communications including pictures each week.  It's a new thing that we didn't have our old school and we've been really loving the ability to peek into their days at school.

Here's Jalen in his class on his first day.  He's still a little shy, but he loves coloring.

Here's Jalen on his trike.  The daycare features a small, grass-less, playground which is a departure from the suburban daycare.

Here's Max on his first day, tentatively looking at the toys.  What you don't see here is a big window overlooking the Space Needle and a, uh hum, gentleman's club.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Jalen's 5 Year Stats

Last Friday we took Jalen to his 5 year wellness check up.  Jalen is growing great: 46lb 3oz (75 – 90%) and 45.5” (95%).  He has always been on the tall side and it’s exciting to see that he hasn’t slowed down one bit.  His BMI is also healthy at 15.7 (50 – 75%).  Since Jalen doesn’t know how to swim yet, the doctor advised that we should get him lessons soon so that he learns within the next couple of years.  

We’ve had some sleep challenges with Jalen since the beginning of the year.  He had always been a good sleeper and he’d been in his own room since about 2 months old.  However, in the last few months he’s been having a hard time either falling asleep in his own room or staying asleep.  We had always been firm about not sharing a bed with him but we’ve had to pick our battles after too many sleepless nights.  We’ve tried all kinds of different rewards and punishments with mixed results.  Since one of his key complaints is that he wants to sleep with someone, we’ve moved Jalen into a room with Max.  This has worked well for the most part except on the nights that Jalen would accidently wake up Max and all hell would break loose.  Some nights Jalen has slept on the floor of our bedroom because we wouldn’t let him into our bed and he wouldn’t go back to his room.  Lately, things have been a little better where he would stay in his room and not wake up anyone until at least 6:30am.  His reward is that he could play with his favorite toys (Transformers) and watch his favorite shows (Transformer cartoons on Netflix).  However, I’ve noticed that Jalen makes very calculated trade-offs when it comes to this reward system.  You see he goes to school all day on Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays.  On the night before those days, he’s more likely to break to rule and come into our bed.  That’s because there’s very little time, if any, to enjoy his reward the next day.  Whereas on the nights before a non-school day (he stays home with Grandma on Tuesdays and Thursdays), he is more likely to follow the rule since he’ll have all day to enjoy his reward.  This theory has been proven at least once.  I’m really hoping that he’ll grow out of this phase and go back to sleeping well without us.  Until then, we’ll just have to keep refining our incentive system to outsmart a 5 year old.