Maxwell: Maximus is officially a tween. Although he wont be twelve for another two months, I'm noticing some distinctly teenager-ish behaviors that I was hoping we wouldn't have to deal with for a few more years. He's become an expert sigher and eye-roller. And if we press too hard, well, he's not afraid to stomp upstairs and just slam the crap out of his bed room door. He's starting to question his parents previously assumed omniscience and he likes to call us on any and all parental contradiction or hypocrisy. (No idea where he got THAT from.) He's making us step-up our game and be more careful as parents. But mostly he's just driving us nuts.
|First day of school 2013|
But then, every once in awhile, he snuggles up next to me, or climbs on to what's left of my lap, and tells me about something he saw or heard or read or did. And sometimes, when his family is not being too impossibly annoying, he says or does something funny, or laughs with us about something, and I know I haven't lost him to hormones just yet. There is still a little string of the old, happy Max to hang on to. I hope it never disappears.
Max is also growing into himself more as a student. He usually takes care of his homework as quickly as possible so he can get back to doing something he wants to do. He misses assignments occasionally, and Dad always goes through his math with him, but he's doing pretty well. Max's main limiting issue in life at the moment is speed. He want's to do everything super FAST! He eats fast, he reads fast, he rushes through his homework as fast as possible. Sometimes this is okay, like when you ask him to go get dressed and he's back 45 seconds later. Reading fast gets him through multiple books a week. But speeding through a math worksheet or reading comprehension assignment generally doesn't serve him well. So we're working on slowing down a little. When I was a kid, the thing I heard most from my mom in relation to homework was "Stay on task!" and/or "Put your blinders on!" (I had a tendency to get distracted easily. And still do.) Poor Max will hear "SLOW DOWN" another million and a half times before he gets through school. But maybe it will eventually sink in and even save him from running (literally running) into so much furniture!
His other Achilles Heal is sugar. He's addicted to sugar. He wants it. He craves it. He thinks about it constantly. For a kid who looks so much like his father, he sure is a lot like me. I talk to him about healthy choices, about hypoglycemia, about what's happening in his body, about finding a sweet but healthy alternative like fruit. Sometimes it works. Sometimes he suffers until we leave the vicinity of the kitchen and then finds something to sneak--like chocolate chips or straight up white granulated sugar. Sometimes we just let him have whatever he's asking for. Not sure what the right course of action is in this case, but we've determined that unlimited sugar isn't it. He has no off switch or satiety point. Any ideas let us know! Love you Maxer!
Samuel: Another school year, another set of issues to overcome and hopefully eventually conquer. Homework trauma being one. But I have to say, Sweet Sammy is growing up. He has quite a few things he has to deal with, but slowly and surely, he's figuring them out. How to not get overwhelmed. How to respond to his own anger and/or frustration. So much of what trips up Sammy is in his head. His own thoughts telling him he can't do something or it's too hard, or too much. But he's getting better. And generally, once he gets into a routine, things get even easier for him.
|You're witnessing a miracle right here!|
He, like Max, is still a voracious reader and that helps. If nothing else is going his way (Wii remotes not charged! Netflix not working! AND ALL THIS ON THE ONE DAY I'M ALLOWED TO WATCH TV AND PLAY WII!!??!?!?!?!?!) he still has a good book to fall into. Plus, happily, somehow he and Max seem to get along really well right now! They share a room, and it's actually not terrible! They play a lot of games together. Chess and Sorry are favorites at the moment. They listen to Audio Books from the library and build Lego ships and fortresses. They probably complain about their parents together. Whatever they have going on, at the moment, it's working for them.
Sam is also VERY excited for his new baby brother. He really wanted a sister, but he came to terms with another boy pretty quick. (A lot quicker than his mother.) He loves babies and is naturally very nurturing and sweet to little kids and babies. It's going to be fun to see him with a new baby to love again. I sure love my Sammy. He's a great kid.
Gabriel: Gabey makes us laugh. He's a TINY bit like Pavlov's dog. Every night during dinner, usually just after sitting down, Gabe has to go to the bathroom.
And he tells us repeatedly until either Doug or I respond and give him the go ahead. "I have to go potty. Can I go potty? I'm going potty. Okay? OKAY?!?"
Every night when I tuck him in and tell him to say his prayer, he starts it, "Heavenly Father..." and then has a yawning attack. He has to yawn at least two or three times before he can get another single word out. Every time. It's pretty funny. But once he's through the yawning, you should hear his prayers. He remembers every family member in need. He prays for Grandmas and Grandpas (even the ones in Heaven) and missionaries. He prays "please bless Jesus and help me to have good dreams and not nightmares..." (pronounced night-mayos) He's just a sweet kid. And speaking of praying, he's the most curious about God, and heaven and religion. He asks a lot of questions. He asked me if it was okay to say prayers anytime. (YES!) If he had to fold his arms and close his eyes to pray. (Only at night!) Then a few days later, talking about his day, he said, "I got bored at recess so I just said a prayer. In my head!" He's the most out-going of all the boys and makes friends wherever he goes. His school teacher loves him and so do the moms of his friends. Gabe is the kid that makes your kid behave better during a playdate. This is an entirely new thing for a Dub boy! ;)
Of course, often with sweet and sensitive you get whiney and overly-emotional on the other side. You do NOT want to deal with a sleep-deprived or overly hungry Gabe. First grade has been hard on him. I think it's just super busy and exhausting and his body still hasn't quite adjusted. So we've had some long, tearful/whine-filled evenings. Reading is also hard for him. I think we all thought it would come as naturally to him as it did to the big brothers. But it isn't coming and it's hard for him. Luckily, he still loves being read to, and he's working hard on reading his own books from school. I know he'll get there, it's just going to take him longer. And that's okay. Gabe's best friend is David, whom he reluctantly shares with Gray. But he still misses his best buddy Isaac--our neighbor in Japan--and still talks about him and writes him letters. (Which I may or may not get around to mailing...) Sometimes they get to talk on Skype when their mothers get it together enough to call at the right times. Gabey is a sweet, loyal, and loving little kid and we sure like him a lot.
On to Gray: Gray is a sweet, adorable, little tyrant. If Gray wants something, he stands in front of the nearest family member and yells at them until said family member gives in and gets him what he wants. It doesn't normally take long. He's very persistent. I think Gray knows there is change coming and I think he doesn't like it. Over the last few weeks, he's become very clingy to Mommy. Daddy will not do, and big brothers are DEFINITELY not allowed to help him, talk to him, or touch him if he darn-well doesn't feel like it. (Sorry big brothers! No more hugs and kisses for you--better luck with the next kid...)
With the one exception of play-dates with David, Gray wants to be near Mommy at all times even while sleeping, (he generally stumbles in around 1 a.m. and knows to come right to my side) and while with Mommy, he wants the i-Pad all to himself. (And NO brothers looking over his shoulder.) My phone will do in a pinch, but it has no movies, and no Netflix so it is clearly inferior.
This is a habit we developed mutually when I had morning sickness. It was how the two of us got through the day. Unfortunately, I'm over the morning sickness, but Gray isn't giving up the i-Pad. It's gotten a little out-of-control. He wakes up asking for it and he asks for it until I give in. And I usually give in. Sometimes so I can sleep a little longer. Sometimes so I can shower in peace. Sometimes to get him to do something like get dressed, or go to preschool, or leave my side. Sometimes because I just can't take the begging/screaming/crying any more.
To try to mitigate the i-Pad addiction, and to give him something fun to do in anticipation for new baby stealing all of Mom's time and attention, we recently enrolled him in a little neighborhood preschool program. It's right up the street and is on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9-12. I really thought he'd love it. He's only been about 5 times now, but so far, he does NOT love it. The first day he wouldn't leave my side and we finally left after an hour. The second day, after being offered all sorts of bribes and incentives, he went happily. But I think he thought maybe he could be done after that. Because he hasn't really gone happily since then. BUT, at least he's still going, and of course, he comes out very happy and proud of his work.
|First (full) day of preschool!|
Yesterday, before he left, I told him it was "show-and-tell" day. He was supposed to bring something that he could do by himself. As I talked to him I grabbed his toothbrush. "Want to show your friends you can brush your teeth?" For some reason, the very idea of public teeth-brushing offended him. He started yelling "NO! NO TOOF BWUSH!" and stood in the hall spread-eagled so I wouldn't be able to get past him to his backpack. I went ahead and put it back in the bathroom. It was pretty funny. Not sure if he did anything for show-and-tell yesterday, but he definitely didn't demonstrate his brushing skills.
Gray is going to have his world turned upside down soon. Hopefully he'll be okay, but I'm a little worried about him. In the mean time, I'm letting him sleep in my bed and stay next to me constantly and get lots of cuddling in. Hope it helps, though it might just make the contrast of baby arriving more severe. Wish us luck with that one. I sure love my little tyrant Gray. Hope he loves his baby brother! If not, I suppose there is always the i-Pad for consolation...we all might need it!