Monday, June 18, 2012

Jack had his first grading in Karate and made yellow belt. While it is not a difficult grading, he practised when he first got up in the mornings, and went through the event with confidence.

Posted by Doug at 12:53 PM

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Grace’s transition to one sleep a day is not going so well. She is often conking out midafternoon and dropping off to sleep – almost never actually in her bed. (Mostly in the car, but the other day was at the Kitchen table.) She generally wakes up in a very unhappy mood, and can take well over half an hour to settle. She then isn't tired at her normal bed time.

Posted by Doug at 5:49 PM

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

It’s been a battle – as much for Al to accept as for Grace, but going forward we won’t be insisting Grace has a midday sleep. She’s been fighting it for a while, with a steady ramping up her objections. She generally isn’t sleeping at childcare now, so can’t see why she needs to at home.

I expect she will on occasion still have a nap, but it will now be on her terms.

It will impact Al most, as she usually relied on those quiet couple hours to get additional work done. Grace will also probably be extra grumpy in the evenings until she adjusts fully.

Posted by Doug at 12:33 PM

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

We are going to have to consider cutting Grace’s hair short – she refuses to allow us to use a comb or brush on it, and it often looks atrocious with many knotted “bird nests”. When we do manage to lay brush on hair, she generally snatches it away after 2 seconds with the exclamation that it is Gracie’s turn. What follows usually makes it worse, before she lets out a loud “Done” and charges off.

Al was trying to warn her tonight that she wouldn’t want to have her hair cut short. Grace simply replied with “Chop it short”.

Posted by Doug at 7:47 PM

Sunday, April 29, 2012

I was walking upstairs to tuck Jack into bed tonight when I noticed Grace going through the menu on Al’s computer and shutting it down. I was hit by the reality that I have not taught Jack or Grace how to use a computer. Instead they watched what Al did and learned from that.

This morning I had to fix a couple of issues on Jack’s laptop – he had managed to disable the speakers, and set the time zone to Fuji. The other day I caught him looking at his mum’s emails - as he just wanted to know what the program was all about.

They are both experimenting, exploring and leaning about computers for themselves.

In fact -just about every time you perform any action, both kids are there looking closely, figuring out what you are doing and how you are doing it.

Posted by Doug at 8:19 PM

Friday, April 20, 2012

We are going to have to limit how often Jack and Grace are in the car together for the next month or three – especially for school pick-ups. Grace has just got unmanageable with her out of control hitting, kicking, spitting and tantrum throwing, focused mainly on harming Jack or the seat in front of her. Jack came perilously close to getting another black eye yesterday – I would have put money on the bruise turning into an absolute shiner. Grace simply can’t stop herself, regardless the consequence.

Tonight for example she isn’t allowed to watch any TV or play on the computer. She understands what the punishment is for, but it didn’t curb her behaviour, and it won’t influence her the next time.

Posted by Doug at 5:37 PM

Grace is outside watching the Garbage truck saying "There's the dummy".

The removal of the dummy has been relatively good at night, with only one difficult evening. She is getting up earlier in the mornings though, and is not as easy to get down for a mid day sleep, meaning she has been more tired for the last week, and much harder work because of it.

Posted by Doug at 10:08 AM

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The second day without Grace’s dummy went better. She got upset during her midday sleep, but after sad crying and several visits from Al, she finally put herself to sleep. The three subsequent sleeps all went well without more than a comment or two. At one point she remarked that her dummies would be hurting the Garbage man’s teeth instead of hers.

Posted by Doug at 10:09 PM

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The first test of dummyless sleeping was at lunch yesterday. Grace went to her cot ok, but 5 minutes later was calling for her parents. An hour of crying and regular visits later, the sleep was abandoned.

The second test went much better – a very tired looking girl when to bed, discussed the absent dummies, but fell asleep exhausted. She seemed to sleep well, although did get up a little earlier in the morning. Sometimes Grace would lie for a while singing to herself, talking to her toys, and generally relaxing. I suspect she might be less inclined to do that without her dummy, at least in the short term.

Posted by Doug at 10:59 AM

Friday, April 13, 2012

Grace has started to allow herself to have "pretty hair" - on occasion

Grace's last night with a Dummy.

Posted by Doug at 11:26 AM

Allison took the kids to the dentist on Wednesday. While there was no work to be done, the dentist tactfully remarked on the fact the position of Grace’s front teeth were being impacted by the use of a dummy.

Al was mortified.

Grace only uses a dummy when she sleeps. Al had been holding off dropping it as it helped Grace with her day sleeps, something she is already dropping at Childcare. Straight after the visit Al told Grace that the dummy had to go in the Bin on Friday morning because the dentist said it was hurting her teeth. This morning we went through the process of Grace putting the dummies in the bin, and then ensured she was there when the Garbage truck came and took the last of them away.

Now we wait and see how long it takes Grace to adjust. In hindsight it probably wasn’t the best idea to go through this process on Friday the 13th.

Posted by Doug at 9:13 AM

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Jack is currently saving his pocket money to buy a DS 3D game console around Christmas. His last big purchase before this latest endeavor was a Star War’s lightsabre set. It has three parts which can all connect in various ways, or be used as two separate swords. They light and flash and make proper noises when swung. Jack watches his Star Wars Clone Wars DVD’s, and acts out the various battle scenes using the swords. I had thought the toys would break quickly and be a waste, but Jack certainly continues to get his monies worth out of them.

Posted by Doug at 6:56 PM

Monday, April 09, 2012

Jack made a couple remarks this Easter that suggest someone at school with older siblings was whispering in his ear about the origins of the Easter Bunny. He was excited at times, but more when he forgot himself. When we are absolutely sure of it, we will have to have a conversation with him about not discussing it with his younger sister.

One of the main goals achieved this break was to update the budget and plan ahead for the next 12 months. We had to make substantial allowances for the changes to the Private health Cover Rebates and the expected increase in bills from the Carbon tax. With some extra money needing to be allocated toward health and fitness, the amount we are saving each month took quite a hit. We are noticeably worse off since this government came into power, which is very frustrating.

One thing I will say for Grace – for as difficult as she can be when angry, she does go out of her way to regularly give her parents the most beautifully fierce hugs.

Posted by Doug at 10:21 PM

Saturday, April 07, 2012

After several bad experiences travelling with Grace last year, we put on hold all long family trips away until she got older. This weekend we journeyed down to Geelong to visit Grandma Q after her hip operation, and to give me the opportunity to check out one of the nearby hunting locations. Normally when Al travels there and back, she times it so that Grace sleeps both ways. This time we came home at a point where she would be awake, to test if her travel fortitude had improved over the last 9 months.

It had – she did not throw a huge out of control tantrum or take her seat belt off multiple times.

She did however whinge and complain, cry, kick the back of mum’s seat, and hit and kick Jack repeatedly. She remarked multiple times that she had had enough Car - she wanted the trip to be over immediately, and couldn’t cope when that was not forthcoming.

It is very distracting having to chastise her, and watch for when she next took a swing at Jack. (Necessary as Jack tends to cry wolf, even if she didn’t connect.) This is not ideal while driving – for example I missed the first signs for an 80km roadwork zone, and drove through a fixed camera at 100km. (With other traffic I might add, and a complete lack of any roadwork’s.) That possibly very expensive experience just reinforces why we still need to wait longer before travelling with her long distances again.

Posted by Doug at 10:28 PM

Thursday, April 05, 2012

I took Jack with me on my last visit to my parents. When we travel together on long distances, I give him a zip lock bag of lollies that he can eat at his own pace. He’s been good at rationing them out – although watching Charlie and the Chocolate Factory probably didn’t make that easy on the weekend. After our latest trip he had some left over, which I planned to give him as reward. I checked on the bag this morning and it was empty. I asked him if he had been quietly eating them, but he adamantly denied it, before strongly suggesting I should check with mum. If anyone was stealing lollies around the house, it would probably be her…

(As it was, I had consolidated them in the one bag, so it was my mistake.)

Posted by Doug at 8:51 AM

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Like Jack, Grace has been refusing to eat her main meal at times.

With Jack we just let him go hungry for a couple nights, and he very quickly learnt to at least bargain with us instead of refusing to eat. (Such as, I will eat 4 more mouthfuls of this, and 2 more of that...)

Grace also quickly understood the consequence of refusing to eat, and can at times begrudgingly be coerced into it. But her anger often stilll gets the better of her, and she is prone to throw the food across the table or onto the floor. Grace has already gone to bed without tea many more times than Jack ever has, and I expect going forward, will always be prone to that punishment.

Posted by Doug at 8:44 AM

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Jack has settled back into school unfazed and without a problem, happy that he is catching up with his friends every day. It has been interesting to see the reactions of other parents to the mix of kids in the new classes. In some examples you can see they are happy or dismissive of placements based on whether it is socially advantageous for their child (or themselves).

More than once I have witnessed an innocent remark of “Oh, I can see our children are in the same class” being met with a mildly distained “Oh yes, but Johnny is already close friends with so and so…” followed by a turned shoulder. Always been surprised at how early parents focus on their kids position on the social ladder.

I don’t think Jack is considered to be placed too high on the social ladder – or his parents for that matter. There is a subtle but obvious “outsider” tag for those of us who travel from outside the suburb to attend the school. The parents of Jack’s main mates however seem pleased by the friendship – Jack is genuinely nice, respectful, well behaved, and keen on school and learning. Traits you would have thought would be the considered important by all – but apparently not.

Posted by Doug at 11:23 AM

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Jack went back to school today nonplussed and without stress. He came home happy. Al and I were also calm about it. What a difference 12 months makes. (Things can change day by day, but we appreciated today for what it was.)

He spent some time tonight finishing off the latest book he was reading – a 184 page Edith Blyton hardback that he read cover to cover in less than 3 days. His transition from small school reader to children’s novels has really seen his reading leap forward again. Every so often, either voluntarily or in answer to a leading question, he will discuss some aspect of the story he is reading which has shown that he is taking it in.

Both Al and I loved reading as kids, so it is great to see Jack enjoying it so much. In that regard Jack is also being a good role model for Grace. Tonight while Jack read aloud to himself on the couch, Grace sat opposite, doing the same thing but using made up babble.

Posted by Doug at 8:18 PM

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The last month has been very wearying – which is a worry as I had quite a lot of time off, and was meant to have re-charged my batteries for the new year.

One reason has been my health. My slipped disc noticeably impacted my movement for several weeks after it happened, and even now after 6 weeks it is still not 100%. Then late last week a trip to the dentist found a badly rotted tooth. A 5 minute extraction turned into two and a half hours in the chair, taking it out in small crumbling pieces. Physically my mouth is still recovering from that. My mental recovery will take even longer!

Another reason has been the effort to clear up a few items off the To Do list. I found Jack a laptop at a good price in the Boxing Day Sales. It may seem strange for a 6 year old to have his own laptop, but it was pertinent to get him off Al’s computer. For one he was learning enough through school to start downloading and installing things. We were also having problems with Grace insisting of taking over when he was using it, or deliberately turning it off to upset him.

This saw a chain of purchases over the month – which culminated in buying and setting up a new bookcase and desk for his room, and moving his old storage units to the downstairs play area. This took a lot of research and running around! Between these and some cleanup efforts, we managed to get several of the areas in the house to look neat for almost the first time since the kids arrived.

Mostly however the month has been wearing due to Grace. It started out with her toilet training, which after a couple hard days has gone far more smoothly than Jack’s did. It still adds work to the day though. She also hasn’t been sleeping as well – battling or skipping her midday sleep at times, going to bed late (often using the potty as an excuse to get up several times), and getting up early. This tires both her and her Mum out. Plus she has generally just been throwing a lot more tantrums than normal. The moment she doesn't get what she wants she goes into banshee mode, being deliberately naughty, hitting, biting, scratching, screaming, and damaging things around the house. A dozen of those in a row and both of us are rattled and over it.

Jack is getting the short straw here, being sent off and told to keep himself amused and out of the way while we try to deal with Grace. (A task he can be rather bad at – often returning minutes later to be belted by Grace, and yelled at for not doing what he was told.)

We don’t really have Grace’s measure on this – and have been ineffective in containing the behaviour or getting it to improve. You can’t discuss it with her (as she is too busy trying to bash your head in), there is no place in the house we can contain her within (she climbs out of her cot, opens any door etc), and there seems to nothing of consequence we can threaten or punish her with that she cares enough about. (In fact, she will often deliberately do whatever you tell her not to while you are watching, to trigger the punishment to spite you (and herself).)

As a consequence we have rarely left the house with her this month.

It is certainly not all doom and gloom. Grace really is doing great with her toilet training, and I can’t remember the last time she had an accident during the day. (Mostly it is just not getting her dress or her “bundies” out of the way properly while sitting on the potty). She is also pretty happy – assuming she has her Mum’s full attention and is doing whatever she wants, for as long as she wants. She is also going well in the new room at childcare (although was told off for singing at the top of her voice during one nap time). We are coping well with Jack being on school holidays, and the house is looking better organised than it has in years. I am also pretty happy with how I have coped overall. That doesn’t however make the last month any less tiring!

Posted by Doug at 10:32 PM

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Al was reflecting on our year tonight, as you do. While it was very busy, with many small achievements, there were two that particularly stood out. The first was that we could not have hoped for Jack’s first year of school to have gone so well, or been any happier with his school. The second was that we solidified and noticeably moved forward with our financial goals. These had stagnated the previous two years (as expected) with Al being off work with Grace’s birth, and from having two children in childcare. It was nice to feel we had jumped forward so much, and that our long held plans were falling into place as hoped.

Posted by Doug at 11:09 PM

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