Sydney :: 6

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Sydney turned six last week on Saturday.  So while Ingrid napped we went outside to take some photos.  She picked out her outfit which always makes me happy when she chooses something I made! Especially since that sweater took so long to knit. 🙂

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Such a big girl now.  Crazy to think  how tiny and helpless she was just 6 years ago!  They grow and learn so fast.

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Since her party was on Sunday, I couldn’t help but make her a little cake on her actual birthday so we could celebrate here as a family. Nothing crazy, just a boxed cake with pre-made icing… she helped make it of course so that is what made it special.

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For her party Sunday she invited some of her neighborhood friends and her old friends from pre-school over to the house. There was 10 kids in total and I think she had fun running around and playing with her friends.

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Syd is a sweet thing, a great big sister but she is still very hesitant, mopey and often lacks confidence.  She is my sensitive child and can get very mad if she (thinks) she can’t do something or you don’t pay attention to her and often limits herself and requires a lot of attention so its a dicey game she plays which always leaves me guessing as to if I should help or let her figure it out on her own and risk being scorned for not paying attention.  Oy!  Kids!

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Thankfully she seems to save all these traits for us (how lucky!), as her teacher said outside of some shyness early on Syd is asking questions and participating in class and often helps other students once she has completed her assignments.  Little trickster.  Alas even though she pushes our buttons I’m glad to see when we are not around she is confident and put-together.

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We’ve been going through a phase of separation anxiety for the past few months too.  Bad enough that she will wail and not let go when we leave for a date night.  It’s rather awful, I’m not sure what it stems from but it is rather cute whether little sister comes over and holds her hand to tell her it will ‘be ok’ when mommy and daddy leave.

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For her birthday my little brainiac asked for a dictionary and math games. So that is exactly what she got!  She sits and reads her dictionary in the mornings while I sip coffee.  The math game we got her helps with spatial and pattern recognition and is rather fun and we all can play and be challenged.

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It’s been a fun 6th year… they each keep getting better and better as we transition from baby to toddler to kid!

Kindergarten

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Sydney started Kindergarten back in August on the 31st.

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She no doubt was ready, being at the ripe age of 5.75!  Her teacher this year is Mrs. Finke and she is going to our local public school which is split with K-2 at one building and 3-6 in another.  Since the K-2 school is in another neighborhood she gets to ride the bus which is fun (if you are 5)!

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We head down to the bus stop around 8:05 am with a few other neighborhood kids and their parents armed with coffee.  She will transition to the school in our neighborhood when she is in the 3rd grade, then we can walk her to school!

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So far the transition has gone well. There was a bit of separation anxiety that hit around week 2 but other than that she has had a good time and is learning a lot.  She seems to be doing well with the no-nap adjustment well and doesn’t even nap much on the weekends anymore (but she still enjoys quiet time alone so that we can nap!).

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Its cute how she is learning new words through singing, she adds about a new word or two a week.  We stopped in for a open house a week ago and were able to see how ‘Math hour’ worked and it was cool to see how they incorporate play into the various stations to reinforce math concepts. pOverall its been a good start. The hardest part was dealing with the new logistics of having one kid one place and another kid somewhere else. DSC_4408.jpg

It also seems like they have a ridiculous amount of holidays thus far…we are on week 8 and I think they have only had 2 full 5-day weeks of school.  This is very different than where I grew up where only federal and christian holidays were observed. Thankfully the before and aftercare program she is participating in is open almost all the time, even when school is closed. Its basically the only way we can both work while having a kid in public school.  Crazy!

I hope to document each year the kids likes and hobbies as they progress through these years. Syd and I sat down on her first day and documented some of these before heading for the bus! More pictures are on Flickr.

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Age: 5

Likes: playing hide-and-go-seek, tag, coloring, ‘do math’, practice writing, riding bikes, playing board games, doing puzzles, reading.

Favorite food: fish or steak meat

What do you want to be when you grow up?: a doctor or a chef

No more training wheels!

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July 4th weekend Royce decided to take the training wheels off Syd’s bike which she got for Christmas.  They never worked that well anyways…our roads here are very uneven and she would get herself stuck with a training wheel up high enough that her rear bike wheel didn’t even touch the ground so she would just spin out…kind of defeated the purpose and made it frustrating.  And they were made of steel so we were unable to bend them up to make the bike a bit more “wobbly” to avoid the problem.

She has been using a balance bike since she was about 3 (or tall enough to use it…can’t recall when) which I think helped the process cause according to Royce she got it the first time he let her go!  She still has a hard time getting started, the concept of keeping one foot on the ground with another on the pedal is not quite there yet but hopefully after some more practice she will be off and riding all by herself.

If only we had side walks here for her to ride on… 😦

Syndey :: 5

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Syd turned 5 waaayyy back in November when life was chaos.  I had grand plans of throwing her requested “fall princess” party, complete with a fully yellow and orange tu-tu for her and leaf crowns for her guests.

But…

then Mama got a new job and was in NJ for a week, and the day of her birthday Mom was at an all day conference in DC…and then time just got away from everyone and stress levels were high so the party was cancelled.  Instead my dear friend Andrea invited us over for supper and she made Syd cupcakes and we sang “Happy Birthday” among our group of close friends.

#5. Hosted and attended by my #sisterwives who keep me afloat when chaos cancels a birthday party. @thehickman5 @ashleysiers

Since her party was cancelled Royce and I made it up to her by letting her chose where to go OUT for a birthday supper on Saturday night. She chose spaghetti, so we all got dressed up and went to our local Italian place down the road.  Of course a busy over stressed mom is also likely to forget to cancel the birthday cake order at the local bakery so we still had a cake to eat on Sunday but I couldn’t find candles except the numbers I’ve been saving to use for Ingrid so she turned 23 instead (2+3=5 right??).

When Mom forgets to cancel your birthday cake order and doesn't have a #5 candle on hand...you suddenly turn 23. (2+3=5 you are with me right?)

Even though there was no ‘official party’, I’m hopeful she still felt special over her weekend of celebration cause she deserves it.

Syd is a genuine little thing. No faking comes from her, if you ask her something it is likely you will get an honest to the core answer. She can be a very needy, pouty and sensitive and we are both still figuring out how to navigate her emotions.

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When she is in a good mood and all is aligned though she can be sweet as sugar. She loves her swim class and is doing well at kicking and jumping in without assistance. Its nice to see how she has grown and progressed over the year. Ballet started up this past summer and she also enjoys that activity and is learning a lot. We’ve tried other team organized activities but Syd is shy and doesn’t do well in that environment yet not to mention its still a bit young to expect a kid to play soccer with any meaningfulness.  At least the ballet classes are teaching her to listen and other things about balance, movement, use of space, slow vs. fast, etc.  You really notice the value between educated teachers (her swim class and ballet teachers) vs parent led activities (soccer) at moments like this so for now we will stick with the programs that have a solid instructional base to them.

Although I'm away I have amazing friends who take my Syd to #ballet and send me photos #sisterwives @thehickman5.

Sydney enjoys her pre-K class, writing her name and coloring. Our house is covered in paper with princesses and her name. She confesses she loves ‘math’ (sorting, counting). Dressing up (e.g., making capes from old swaddle blankets) and playing with her princesses, building towers for them and overall general imaginative play is also a common activity here.

Princess swaddle blanket watches a movie.

Over time she has gotten better with independent play but she still needs assistance or attention a lot of the time. And if you don’t give it to her she pouts…ahhh the balance of parenting. Often her pouting is her way to get attention so we are working on how her words can hurt others and she should only say negative things if she *truly* means them, not to just get attention. Mind games at 5…who knew?

Why you save an entire childhood loot of crayons and colored pencils. #berolprismacolor

She can sit down and watch a movie now though so when I need to get things done that is sometimes my go-to move on the weekends in the afternoon. Her and Ingrid play together pretty well too, mostly it is Syd bossing Ingrid around but generally it is actually eaiser to have them both at home because they entertain each other.

Proof that they watch intently and catch on quickly.

This next year will be a big year for her as she starts school!  It will be interesting to see how she does with the transition!

I’d post updated stats for her now but to be honest we haven’t even scheduled her appointment…right now its a race to see if she or Charlie gets in for their annual well-visit first.  Such is life!

UPDATE:  Syd had her 5-year visit on Jan 27th (a mere 2 months late but who is counting?).  Syd was 38 lbs (32%) and 43.5 inches (62%). Since her 3-year stats update she has gained 5 lbs and grew 3.5 inches. She is a been pole…good thing she still likes dresses b/c pants have never fit her well!

Some updated pictures

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Oh dear…this poor neglected space. Please do find solace in the fact that I’m not neglecting other things as well. I’m just busy juggling life, work, mom, wife and self.

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The summer is now behind us and we are moving towards fall, albeit slowly thanks to mother nature who still is lost in summer.

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I started a new temporary job on Monday and I was culling through photos to see if I had any updated pictures of the girls to take with me to my temporary new office. I realized that it has been a while since I got good photos of them…so last weekend while we were outside grilling up supper I brought out my Nikon to get some updated photos of the girls.

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We didn’t spend a lot of time. I didn’t change their outfits or comb their hair (I did make effort to wipe Ingrids face which seems to be constantly presented with a runny nose).

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Nothing fancy, nothing planed, nothing posed. Just two silly girls. Growing.

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Ni Ni

Hot chocolate and window light.

hot chocolate

Ingrid has a name for her sister and it is “NiNi”.  She asks for NiNi often…points to her, loves her, chases after her. Everything is NiNi, everything that isn’t Ingrid’s of course (which is most things right now). Sydney called herself “neigh neigh” for a long time before she could get the “s” and “d” part attached correctly so NiNi is really quite appropriate. We’ve even taken to calling her NiNi which likely isn’t helping Ingrid figure out how to properly say Sydney, but why speed up cuteness? Lets linger in this for a while shall we?

Bouncing off the walls and over your sister.

jumping over sister

It is fun to watch them play together. One doing one thing, the other doing exactly the same. Sydney is a great big sister, overly patient with Ingrid on things that in all honestly should require Ingrid to get punched. Syd has her moments of course…the pleasantries aren’t present all the time, that’s fairy-tale. For the most part though Syd does a good job looking out for Ingrid, and does a really good job telling me when Ingrid is being bad (like this weekend when Ingrid was throwing dirt from the deck planters into the dining room!).

Starfish

swim lessons – starfish

We are still working a bit on Sydney’s emotional control and allocating the correct level of emotion to the situation.  It is a work in progress…some days are better than others. She does seem to respond better to our frustrations when we display authentic emotions. Ignoring, mocking, or dismissing her bad behavior hasn’t worked as she will just keep pushing your buttons. Some of the best turn around (bad days made good) we have had recently have been when I’ve really expressed my anger with her in straight forward ways instead of bottling it up and ignoring it which in hindsight would be hard for a 4-year old to interpret!

New stages

photo by Crystal Liepa Photography

It’s been a while since I’ve written about Sydney…she turned 3 and-a-half on May 21st.  She is growing and learning each day. Some of the conversations I have with her surprise me. And her behavior has also matured as well.  She moved up into the preschool unit at day-care this June and has been loving her new room and new routines. They take more field trips, do more fun stuff and I think it was a needed move from her toddler room.

We also recently moved her into a ‘big girl bed’.

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big girl bed!

Royce picked up the beds the week we were off work for our Crystal & Dain ‘staycation’ and that Friday we dismantled her crib/toddler bed, put the twin bed together and acquired a mattress, duvet, sheets etc.  When we got home that night from the pool Sydney was ecstatic!

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She has only fallen out of it once to my knowledge. We put a pillow on the side and tuck it in with the comforter. She seems to love it and I’ll tell you it’s pretty fun on the lazy weekend mornings to just crawl in bed with my girls and read books, tickle or just snuggle. Eventually this bed will be bunked with her sisters which is currently being stored in the attic…someday…

photo by Crystal Liepa Photography

This past week Syd gave up her paci.  It was just that simple.  She decided one day she didn’t need it for nap time and so she didn’t use it (she doesn’t use one at school at nap time) and then that night although she went to bed with one she ‘lost it’ in the middle of the night. She woke up crying and wanted me to find it, but I didn’t even look. Instead I just tucked her back in, gave her puppy and told her she was a big girl and didn’t need that paci anymore.  I stayed with her for a little bit since she looked upset, but left before she fell back asleep.  You could tell she was torn with the transition.  She wanted it so badly, her lower lip just shook and pouted as she held back tears. But the thing is… the next day at nap time she didn’t ask for it, and neither did she that night. Eventually she located the ‘lost paci’ under her bed and she put it in Ingrid’s crib because she didn’t need it anymore.  And that is that!  Goes to tell you my (selfish) gut of just “let her part with it when she wants to” was right, no matter what any dentist or pediatrician or other mothers told me.

photo by Crystal Liepa Photography

The last big development is no more diapers!!  Although Syd has been potty trained for a few months now, she still wore a pull up at night. I had learned from my girlfriends in the neighborhood with older girls to not push night-time potty training as it can easily backfire (and then you have a kindergartner still wetting the bed — UGH). So we didn’t push it. I for one, being the selfish mother that I was (heck I’m finally getting a full night sleep after a year of sleep deprivation!!), didn’t want to be woken up in the middle of the night for any reason, much less bed wetting, so I was A’OK with the night-time pull-ups routine. We always made it clear to Syndey that if she kept her pull-ups dry she could go to bed in underwear. And then it just happened!  Each morning she would tell us she kept her pull-up dry and reminded us ‘how many’ she had done buy showing us her fingers.  We got to “this many” (hold up 10 fingers) and then she got to wear underwear. Easy Peasy.  I can only hope Ingrid can be this easy…well without all that poop drama/trauma OK? So far, no accidents. I know one will happen eventually… but its better than trying to ‘train’ a kid to not wet the bed in their sleep.

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poolside popsicle

She generally just seems so much more mature. She is more patient with her sister, knows that if she wants to play with something without Ingrid bothering her that she needs to go to her room or move to the table. She shares her toys effortlessly at the pool and with her friends. She participates and listens in dance class. I’ve even been able to send her home (or leave her at parties) with friends while I go home and put Ingrid down for a nap or to bed…which makes navigating this solo-parenting gig I have a lot of the time so much easier.  We’ve even started reading big kid books! I brought home Little House in the Big Woods the other day from the library to see if she would be interested in a chapter book…and each night she requests the ‘little girl farm story’.

Such a fun age, and stage. But all parents deserve a breather after a while don’t we?

Date night with Syd

The downfall of being the parent that is always around is that I fall into ‘keeping house together mode’ and ‘disciplinarian mode’ more often than ‘fun mode’…and this takes its toll on the relationship between me and the kids.  When describing some of Syd’s more recent behavioral challenges Our Parents as Teachers home visitor asked me how often I praise Syd for just being Syd and how often I do things just the two of us. The reality was; not much. I rarely spend 1:1 time with her because Ingrid is always around or tethered to me in some way. And I praise her for doing, listening, and for being good….but am not a fawner, lover, gushy giver of unsolicited affectionate mush. It’s just not my style.

But as I’m learning motherhood is all about pushing your boundaries, so this serious frowner has been working on giving more hugs and kisses and general gooey love towards a certain 3-year old in the house.

This weekend Royce worked the evening shifts so instead of hanging out with my hired help and the two girls (or going off to run errands on my own) on Saturday night I decided Syd and I would have an official date-night. I talked it up; we were going to leave Ingrid with the babysitter because she was a baby and the big girls were going to go out.

I gave her some choices on where she wanted to go and she decided she wanted to go see dinosaurs so we headed to the American Museum of Natural History to look for all the big and little dinosaurs. There were a ton of people there (spring break tourists??) but Syd did great; held my hand and pointed out all the dinos she knew…which was an impressive amount I must say. We didn’t stay long; 45 mins is a decent amount of time for that much walking for a 3-year old. We stopped at the gift shop on the way out to let her pick out something for herself and Ingrid. She did a great job of making her decision and chose this ridiculous squishy plastic T-Rex which got us a lot of chuckles from passers-by as we walked through downtown DC back to the car.

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roar!

After the museum we went out to supper. I gave her a few choices and she chose meatballs so we headed to my favorite small family owned Italian place. They didn’t have any tables available so we sat at the bar with our new friends.

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supper with our new friends

We had a great time chatting about our day and sharing our meatballs and chocolate tartufo. I thoroughly enjoyed my evening with her….no whining, no tantrums, no tears… just my silly smart Sydney.

Some more Geraniums

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Ingrid’s new dress!

I finished up this Geranium dress for Ingrid yesterday. Had been fiddling with that piping for too long and could never get it perfect at the back seam.

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thrifted buttons and piping

This was my first attempt at rounded piping.  I had done some flat piping for Syd’s 2nd birthday dress, which was FAR easier and less fiddly. The store-bought stuff is super fussy, mostly because it doesn’t play nice with 0.5 in seaming.  Next time I’ll just make my own so I can line everything up with the fabric edge.  Hopefully she will move enough that no one will notice that the piping isn’t perfect   The fabric is Enchanted Forest in Baby Blue by Alexander Henry.

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see! when she crawls she is a total blur.

I put it on her today in an attempt to heighten her (and my) mood.  Poor thing has been so crabby for so long I do not remember where my smiley girl went.  Back-to-back ear infections bring down everyone so it seems.  In a desperate dual attempt for happy-baby I also stopped giving her the Augmentin (antibiotic) that she was put on Thursday.  It was tearing her GI system up.  She would scream for hours post-dose.  I don’t care if I’m creating antibiotic resistant bugs, I couldn’t go through it anymore.

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a rare smile

I feel like she has been sick since the bout of RSV in January.  Hopefully spring time will turn things around, but I’m kind of hoping she has another infection soon so that she can meet the ‘guidelines’ for ear tubes.  They worked such wonders for her sister. I’m afraid if she doesn’t meet the guidelines this winter we will be suffering through more infections next winter.  Would like to just cut to the chase, seems we have some hereditary tympanic structure dysfunction and daycare isn’t helping by providing a constant source of infection either.

Anywhoo back to sewing…I also made another Geranium dress recently for Sydney.

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Syd’s “princess dress”

The fabric is insanely busy (Castles in the Sky in pink by Michael Miller) but my-oh-my she loves her ‘princess dress’. She wears it at least once a week and asks often to wear it when she gets home from school.  I’ve learned to love the fabric. The dress of course is super cute on her and is really comfortable for her to jump and move and do all that 3-year olds need to do.  I used some flat piping between the bodice and skirt to break things up a bit.  In hindsight I wish I would have used a solid fabric for the contrast trim and bodice lining. Would have taken the seizure inducing potential down a notch.

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Its got pink, purple, castles, rainbows and unicorns. What else would a girl want?

I found some vintage sheets at the thrift store the other weekend and may make one more out of this pattern for Syd and Ingrid.  I’m waiting for the new Oliver and S pattern to be released to make Easter dresses for the girls out of the other vintage sheet I picked up.

Testing Limits

Syd can be a stinker, but lately we have been seeing an interesting new side that’s starting — testing limits and blatantly doing things she has been told not to do. Like most things this is a stage; a stage to figure out yet again what she can get away with and what she can’t.

Bedtime has been particularly difficult lately. We put her down, she gets up, opens the door, asks for things, or just sits there at the door watching, waiting – for what? who knows. This can drag on bedtime for hours; we now refer to it as Whack-a-Mole (“How many times did you have to Whack-a-Mole?” is a common question now as we recap my evening). The thing about WAM is it cuts into the (very little) time I get for myself each evening before I go to bed. My time between 8-10pm is now predominately spent going back into the girls’ room putting Syd back down, closing the door, going back to what I was doing, only to be interrupted 10-15 mins later by my mole. And this assumes that the mole doesn’t wake up Ingrid during all of her shenanigans. Kinda irritating.

Like most things with children and discipline; consistency is key. What I was doing wasn’t working, things were actually getting worse, so I thought about it and changed my behavior. I’ve started to take away the personal (talking, caving to her “I need X’s”, giving repeat goodnight kisses) since it was getting me no where, and have instead replaced it with mean mommy (a curt “go back to bed” as I walk her to her bed and replace her blankets). Last night I only had to WAM once.  Hooray!

In addition to prolonging bedtime Syd has become adept at not listening; and completely defying what we tell her to do (or not do). The other night after a particularly bad evening where I had already taken a few privileges away (wearing her favorite dress to school the next day, and her bedside reading lamp) I had to pull a really mean mommy and took her paci away. Before I took it away I wanted to make sure she understood WHY I was taking it away and she was able to clearly say “because I opened my door again”. So she ‘gets it’, she just defying our rules. Stinker!

Anyways she cried about having her paci taken away but stopped after I told her I would throw it away if she woke up her sister (super mean mommy!). But before I went to bed I went in to check on Ingrid and I noticed the step stool had been moved – she was looking for her paci on top of the bookshelf. Stinker!

Then at midnight I heard some noises so I went to investigate. She had moved the step stool across the room to look for her paci in her dresser (where we sometimes keep it). I was shocked that she could move the stool (about the size of her!) across the room in the dark! Stinker! I moved the stool back to its place, told her to go to bed, gave her a little “you could have hurt yourself” speech, told her to NOT do that EVER again, and then walked out.

However, in the morning when I came in to get her up for school I saw she had moved the stool across the room AGAIN and was rummaging in the dresser drawers. Later she told Royce she was also trying to turn on the lamp on top of the dresser (I had taken away her bedside lamp) so that she could look for her paci. WTH! Stinker!

One of my friends gave us a child-proof thing to put on the door knob so that she can’t open her door anymore. The first night we had it on shortly after we put her to bed we heard her struggling to open the door so Royce went in to put her back to bed and she said “take that thing off, I no like it”.  Ha!  And then last night during story-time she pointed to the door and told Royce to take it off. Persistent little thing.

So this is what we are dealing with right now. Infuriating in the moment, hilarious in retrospect, and something that we will have to deal with for a long time…it just probably won’t revolve around bedtime and paci’s for long.

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