## Saturday, October 17, 2009

### A numbers game

Guest entry from Sarah:

Leo has gone to London for a week, so I’ve hijacked the blog from him. I lack his humorous style, so bear with me. As a little background to the story that follows, a couple of nights ago I went to the kids’ school for “parent education night,” when the teachers teach us about how they teach our kids. It’s a Montessori school, and most of us aren’t too familiar with the methods, so these nights help us decode what we hear about their day at school. Math was the subject of the night. Jamie has been very into math lately, so I was quite interested.

So, our first activity this weekend was soccer. Jamie was a little sad afterwards because he hadn’t scored any goals, although he had played well. Jamie asked Connor how many goals he had scored in his little game, of which he had played all of five minutes, and Connor thought for a minute (clearly assessing how far he could push the exaggeration), and said, “ummm…. five hundred.”

Later, we were in the car between birthday parties, and Jamie started a game with Connor involving math. He would quiz Connor with questions like, “what comes after three?” On the easy ones, Connor was getting maybe 50%. But then Jamie made things a little tougher, and starting asking addition and subtraction questions, and it was all over for poor little Connor, who had no clue. Example:

Jamie: What’s 2 + 2?

Connor: Ummm, 100?

Yeah, good guess. It was pretty funny to listen to, and passed the time in the car. Connor is fascinated enough by numbers that he didn’t care how often he was wrong, which helped maintain the good moods.

## Monday, October 12, 2009

### So they do get tired...

As many of you know the old "that'll really tire them out" thing doesn't seem to work as often as one thinks it will. However, we have evidence in the first picture that occasionally it does happen. This was taken at about 8:15 PM, Sunday night after a busy, fun weekend. It began with soccer on Saturday morning. Jamie is doing great. He played in a game where he was one of the older students but he was sort of a star, breaking away from the mob around the ball and dribbling for several goals. Connor is playing too, though on his own terms to be sure. This involves mainly holding Mommy's hand through all practice activities. For the game that followed, he kicked the ball once and then left the field immediately, to be held by Daddy while I "reffed" another game.

We have been cutting out Connor's afternoon nap lately in an attempt to get him out of the habit of being awake until 9:00 every night, so we had lunch and pretty much went right out, first to the garden store for some plants and then off to the Fire Festival, where there were bouncy castles and fire trucks to be climbed on and cotton candy to be eaten.

Sunday consisted of some good play time in the morning, followed by a play date at a friend's down the street. Then we went to the pumpkin patch where the boys did more bouncy castles, looked at snakes and turles, picked pumpkins and won prizes. Then another trip to the garden store. Finally we got home and everybody cozied up in our bed for popcorn and a movie. Dinner and bath followed and then books.

Connor made it through the first 2 books and then fell sound asleep. The picture is actually about 2 minutes after Sarah tried to take him to bed. He woke up and said, angrily, "NOOO!!! I want to 'nuggle on the couch!!" So she put him back and he fell asleep again. When books were done I picked him up to take him to bed and this time he gestured grumpily towards the light sabre next to him on the couch. Having gotten that firmly in hand he went willingly to bed, where he fell deeply asleep with the light sabre still grasped firmly. Jamie was fascinated by this and still quite alert, but he he fell asleep about 2 minutes after getting in bed.

## Sunday, October 11, 2009

Jamie is actually turning into quite a helpful family member. He is very fond of yard work and especially loves doing what he calls the "outside vacuum", in which we suck up leaves and grass clippings for the compost. He also likes to clean and can be turned loose with a Swiffer, small (inside) vacuum or a damp rag and genuinely contribute to household maintenance. He and Connor also like to fight for who goes out and gets the paper from the lawn in the morning. We went to the garden store today and he impressed us by carrying bags of rocks and two rather large plants to the cart.

He is a bit selective of course and some things just don't interest him, very often the kinds of things we'd like him to do, such as carrying his trash out of the car or helping to carry all his school things into the house when we get home. Tonight we had a bit of a mystery in that the laundry machine had stopped running and the top was open. Now this is a little fraught because with Connor still potty-training, suffice it to say, the laundry is serious business and needs to get done, and the right way. So Sarah asked me if I had opened it, and then naturally turned to Jamie. He answered very quickly, while running through the room, "No...I don't care about that stuff."

## Thursday, October 8, 2009

### Heartbreaking moment of the day

We've had the sense that Connor has been very happy at his school and I think he is. We also figured that since he is around Jamie and his friends so much he wouldn't have too much trouble with the fact that he would be the youngest kid in the classroom, since Montessori mixes ages 3-6 at this level. Jamie has been very into show and tell lately, bringing in for instance a large number of cicada moltings he had collected (Sarah did not enjoy this) and a photobook of his trip to Cyprus. So on the way to school he was talking about this, so Sarah asked Connor if his classroom did show and tell as well. He replied, "I don't go to show and tell because I feel small." Sarah was a little speechless at first and asked if the big kids were nice to him and he said yes. Sometimes it just ain't easy being small I guess.

## Wednesday, October 7, 2009

### Looking out for #2

Connor has to look out for himself, there is no question about it. He is very very quick to speak up if he feels that Jamie is getting anything that he is not. As noted in the previous post, he also likes to deliberately take the contrary position to Jamie, just to test out who is going to get his way. Poor thing, really, it must seem like he has to watch out for disadvantage at every turn. We had told Jamie as a part of a developing chores plan that if, among other things, he cleared his plate after every meal, he would get an allowance. Jamie took it a bit more literally. He brought his plate to the sink after breakfast yesterday and then demanded some money. We explained to him the way it would work and he was satisfied. Connor, however, was clearly listening, because he looked up and said "Is Jamie going to get ALL the money??" No, we said. Connor replied succinctly, "Good," and went back to his coloring.

## Tuesday, October 6, 2009

### What a boy wants

On Wednesdays this semester I pick the boys up at 3:15. Sarah isn't usually home until 5:30 or so, so I like to take the boys for an ice cream and some kind of activity. Last week after our frozen treat we went to Hermann Park. There is an outdoor theater there, with a big grassy hill where people can sit. Because we have two Houston boys, who have grown up looking at a completely flat landscape, this is fascinating. So we played on the hill. The boys like to run down the hill with me at the bottom, trying to run past without me catching them. I have to walk a fine line between seeming like I really am trying to catch them, but not actually doing so.

As is almost always the case just we have gotten somewhere, Jamie announced he needed the potty so off we went to take care of that. Public bathrooms with the two of them are always a bit of an adventure ("Connor! Don't touch ANYTHING!!"). Finally, we got some good hill running in. Jamie then declared he wanted to go to the dinosaur museum, across the street. Connor, sensing an opportunity, announced that he did not want to go, thus ensuring that I would displease one of them. In this case, I opted against going because it was getting late and the boys get very cranky if their blood sugar gets low. Apparently, however, this had already happened as Jamie had a meltdown. Even as I know I'm doing the right thing, of course, part of me always feels bad in not giving them what they want. But then later, having calmed down a bit, Jamie announced, in EXACTLY the same tone that he had said he wanted to go to the museum, that he wanted to go to Pluto and he wanted to go when he was still a kid. This reassures me, actually, by making it clear that no matter what there will always be something else he wants and he will never understand why he can't have it all.