Tag Archives: talk

Grace: Walking, climbing and dancing

When I look back at Grace’s progress in the past six months, it is hard for me to believe that my little munchkin has transformed from a passive sitter to a highly mobile toddler.  At nine months old, Grace was perfectly content to sit in one spot and play with toys.  She wasn’t even really interested in crawling until she was nearly a year old.  It is possible she did not like the feeling of the cold, hard tile against her knees (the majority of our house has tile flooring). When she finally began moving across the room, it was the bottom scoot that she preferred the most.  We would try to put her in a crawling position on the ground, but she would fuss until she could sit down and then scoot along using the padding of her diapered rear end.

When she reached her first birthday and she hadn’t really gravitated toward crawling and walking, I began to worry a little bit.  However, it was funny to watch Grace develop her bottom scoot into a one-legged / one-arm crawl.  She would use the other leg as a lever and just scoot her way from one side of the room to the other and then pull herself up on a chair or small table so she could stand.

It was around 14 months old that Grace finally started gravitating toward taking some steps on her own.  She was confident as long as she was holding someone’s hand or could walk along the side of a couch or table. Right around this time, we also discovered that Grace did know how to crawl on all fours.  Jared was the first one to point this out to us.  He got down on his hands and knees with her while she was sitting on the play mat in our living room and helped Grace to copy his movements.

Her independent walking finally began a little after she reached the 15 month mark.  On July 11, she walked across the room without any assistance.  In the months that followed, her mobility has progressed to the point that she’s can walk, climb and dance.  She loves tacking stairs whenever she can find them.  (We have none in our home, except for a small step that leads into our garage). She learned how to climb up on the dining room table all by herself.  We now have to keep all our chairs pushed all the way in.  Fortunately, the chairs are too heavy for her to pull out again.  She also likes to climb the ladder that leads up to the top bunk of the boys’ bunk bed.  This has made it necessary for me to remove the ladder during daytime hours so I don’t have to worry about Grace climbing up to Jared’s bed and getting stuck there while I’m in another room.

Grace also loves to ‘dance.’ Basically, this means she spins around, waving her arms and stomping her feet.  She’ll do this whenever she hears music.  As soon as the music begins, a big smile flashes across her face, she begins to shake with excitement and then starts to spin around the room.

Grace’s language is also beginning to develop.  She knows her basics, “Daddy, Mommy, yes, no, etc.” She’ll also surprise me by putting together phrases such as “see you tomorrow” and “I want a cracker.” In some ways, I can get her attention more easily than her older brother, Luke. She loves to help me clean up by putting objects in containers.  She is very good at putting away her brother’s hot wheel cars.

She does tend to gravitate toward boy toys, but she also has some girlie toys that she likes.  And she’s recently decided on a favorite blanket.  It is hard to take it away from her in the mornings when its’ time to get up and eat breakfast.

Although she is still in a crib, we have already purchased a toddler bed for her and are looking at transitioning her into it at some point before the end of the year.  Grace is definitely the reigning princess of the family and is well loved by her older brothers.

Grace is armed and ready to play in the pool.

Grace, the climber

 

Luke: from potty training to preschool

August 2012 – This year I’ve watched my energetic and self-determined toddler develop into a full-blown preschooler.  Our first challenge after he reached his third birthday on January 5 was to begin the process of potty training in earnest.  He had been watching Jared use the toilet for quite some time.  He would use it very inconsistently.  I had completely switched him out of normal diapers and started using the Huggies “pull up” diapers to encourage him to learn how to pull down his clothing on his own.  But I didn’t really focus on potty training in earnest until mid-January.

The process took a little longer than I had originally expected.  It didn’t help that Luke caught a stomach flu that gave him diarrhea during the second week of being potty trained.  But I was determined that we were not going back to pull ups again and that I was not purchasing another diaper to put on that child’s behind.  I think it took a full three weeks for Luke to be officially potty trained.

Our biggest challenge with Jared was getting him potty trained at night.  After the first week of potty training at the age of three, Jared has had only a handful of day-time accidents.  However, he would continue to wet his bed for another year and a half.  The interesting difference with Luke was that he seemed to gain night time bladder control almost immediately.  Luke will still have accidents during the day, because he gets so engrossed in whatever activity he is doing and will “hold it” until it’s too late to get to the bathroom.  But he rarely wets his bed.

It was actually, this process of potty training that began planting doubts into my mind of Luke’s readiness to start any kind of school program in the fall. It has always been harder for me to capture the attention of Luke than Jared. He seemed to manage pretty well in a nursery setting, but I just wasn’t sure he was ready for a classroom setting. I couldn’t help but transport myself mentally to the time that I taught English at a little Korean language school in South Korea in 2002. I had the youngest class which included three and four year olds.  I had scoffed at the parents who sent their little three year old “babies” to school who were just barely potty trained.  I remember telling myself then that I would never send my child to school that young. Now, here I was contemplating doing just that.

I also felt that Luke had been in Jared’s shadow in his learning development.  As I worked through preschool activities with Jared, Luke would do his best to keep up, even though he wasn’t quite able to comprehend everything that I was teaching Jared.  Up to this point, Luke had never been separated from Jared for more than an hour or two at a time. I thought it might be good to keep Luke at home so that I could focus on him without being under the shadow of his big brother.

Stephen made fun of me at first, saying that I was having a hard time letting go of my kids.  However, once school got started, he began to agree with me.  It became especially clear that we had made the right decision when we watched Luke being unable to get ready in the mornings as quickly as his big brother. Luke still cannot really make his bed and needs help dressing himself.  He also has a hard time staying on task unless someone is standing right beside him.

I don’t worry about any of this now, because it just makes it clear to me that Luke hasn’t reached that stage of independence.  Slowly, he is making progress.  He is learning how to communicate himself more clearly.  Earlier in the year, he was having trouble completing his sentences and would begin stuttering and then rushing his words together in a blast of phonic sound while appearing as if his entire face was going to explode.  (Seriously, it was quite an interesting thing to watch.) Now, he’s able to make himself understood most of the time and enjoys joining in conversations with the family.

As with our decision to keep Jared in the half-day kindergarten program, I have not regretted for a moment keeping Luke out of school altogether.  I am really enjoying the pre-school activities I’ve been doing with Luke.  He’s been working on his alphabet, basic phonics, writing letters and writing numbers, and learning how to count different items.  I’ve also been using different flash card games to help him build his vocabulary. Another activity that has become part of his morning exercises is going over a section out of his Awana Cubbies book.  Luke has been so excited that he is old enough now to participate in the Awana program with Jared.  Luke also enjoys learning Bible verses and doing the activities and projects that the book recommends.

Luke has been enjoying this time that I spend with him in the mornings.  You may wonder what Grace is doing at this time.  I usually am feeding her the rest of her breakfast and letting her look at little books and play with small toys until Luke is finished with his exercises.  I don’t spend more than an hour and a half in the morning on these activities.  Then, Luke and Grace play on their own unless we have an outing planned or a list of errands that Mommy wants to take care of before picking up Jared at school.

Luke is really beginning to understand what it means to be big brother now that he is the one that Mommy turns to for help while Jared is at school.  He is also starting to look to Grace more for companionship now that Jared isn’t here as much to fill that void. In the past six months, Luke has grown three inches, gone up one shoe size and is wearing 4T in most of his clothing.  He is still about six inches shorter than Jared, but has slowly caught up to him in weight so that he now is only two to three pounds lighter than Jared.

Luke loves music and impresses his Sunday school teachers by being one of the few enthusiastic “worshipers” during their praise and worship time.  They tell me that Luke always makes his way to the front of the room so that he can dance and do the motions to all the songs they sing.

Meier Boy Accomplishments

I have been surprised to see how well my sons have been able to handle the different baby sitters who came in and out of the house during the time that their nanny was sick.  There was only one day when I really could tell that they were struggling.  I was on my way home one morning when I began to hear them chanting, “Mommy! Mommy!”

I found them standing at the child-safety gate in the front door, rocking back and forth and looking for me to come home.  It made me laugh as I reached in the door to give them hugs.

Jared and Luke look at books together as they drink their morning bottle of milk.

They are learning so many things, so quickly.  One of the things that our nanny has contributed to is teaching my boys how to count in Spanish.  She plays these little jumping and counting games with them.  Luke can actually count from one to ten in Spanish and he can’t even count that far in English.  I heard Jared once count to 24 in Spanish. 

Another one of Luke’s new fascinations is trying to have a conversation with you on the phone.  You should try it sometime.  Give us a call and we’ll hand the phone to Luke.  He will talk your ear off.  Will you understand what he says?  Well…possibly ten percent. But he loves to talk on the phone. 

Jared, on the other hand, is getting much better at having a conversation….if he doesn’t get shy.  He’ll say, “How are you?” I’m fine” all in one breath and then continue to tell you about his latest exploits or the most recent treasure he has found. He is also able to make himself understood by Luke a lot better than before.

Luke is so used to having his big brother around all the time that he always looks a little confused or lost when Jared isn’t around.  Sometimes Daddy takes Jared in the running stroller when he goes out to exercise.  Just recently, we’ve started sending Jared to Awana (for 3 years and up) and allowing him to attend Sunday school instead of staying in the nursery. 

Whenever Luke realizes that his brother is missing, he usually spends about five minutes wandering around saying, “Jey-wed…where are you?” before he notices that he has full and complete access to all the toys that his big brother usually yanks out of his hands.  However, it seems that Luke has more fun when his brother is there to wrestle over the toys than when he is playing with toys by himself. 

Both boys are soaking in more vocabulary every day.  Recently, I realized that Jared had the Bingo song memorized.  I thought to myself, “If Jared can memorize how to spell ‘Bingo’ than he can certainly spell his own name which has the same amount of letters.”

A few days later, Jared is singing:
“There was a boy who had a friend and Jared was his name. 
J-A-R-E-D,
J-A-R-E-D,
J-A-R-E-D
And Jared can spell his name-o.”

Jared has also memorized three different verses from the Bible after several months of doing bed time devotions.  He knows Psalm 118:24, John 4:16 and Psalm 27:1.  Feel free to quiz him on any of these verses the next time you talk to him.  He’ll probably tell you, if he’s not feeling shy at the time.

Luke’s Melodic Expressions

Luke spreads the sause on his own pizza pie.

In the past year, it has become evident that Luke really likes different kinds of music.  All I have to do is start singing something or turn on a CD and Luke starts swinging his arms around and moving his body to the rhythm of the sounds he hears.  He’s also drawn to musical instruments that he finds. 

If you are on our Facebook page, you should take a look at this video, if you haven’t seen it yet:

http://www.facebook.com/Stephen.CristinaMeier?v=app_2392950137#!/video/video.php?v=420303491650

Just recently, he has started trying to sing some of the songs I have taught Jared.  His favorite so far is Old McDonald.  He can’t really pronounce the words, but he’ll make the sounds of the song that sound something like this:

“Oh muh-dow waw… aw…aw…aw…..ee eye ee eye oh!!!”

Then he tries to pinch his nose to signify that the pig on Old McDonald’s farm had an “oink, oink” here, there and everywhere. It’s really quite cute.

Of course, the last few days, he’s been singing “Happy Birthday to you!” randomly because his mommy recently celebrated her birthday and he got fascinated with the song.

Jared Boy and Baby Luke

It is amazing to see how quickly my two little boys are growing.  Jared is becoming more and more articulate in his speech (both English and Spanish) and Luke is an independent walker.  It is very interesting to watch them interact and to see their similarities and differences.

Jared has always been my little shadow.  He does not like to be left alone for anything.  Therefore, using a “time out” as punishment usually works like a charm to get him to straighten out attitude…to the extent that two year old can accomplish this.  Or if I am about to go somewhere and I want him to follow me, I can just tell him, “O.K. Jared.  I’m leaving. Bye!”  That usually brings him running in my direction. He is also learning how to sing.  We have been listening to many children’s songs, and Jared has memorized some of the songs already. 

Here are some of his favorites:
“The Gospel Train”
“The Bear Went Over the Mountain”
“Skinny-Marinky-Dink”

Luke is a more independent boy.  He doesn’t care what everyone else is doing.  If he has him eyes focused on something, nothing will tear him away.  Going for a walk with Luke is a bit of a challenge, because he wants to go in his own direction and doesn’t follow Mommy at all.  I can tell him that I’m leaving him and he doesn’t even pay attention.  He is just so excited to be able to walk on his own that he wants to use his new found freedom as much as possible. 

He has also mixed a lot more Spanish into his first words that Jared has.  He’ll say “Chao” when he says “Good-bye” to people.  I’ve heard him say the word for cookie in Spanish as well.  There are a lot of other things that Luke says now, but I simply haven’t figured out his language yet.  Sometimes I think he’s mixing both languages together into his own unique language. 

Jared always tries to be the “big brother.” Sometimes, he’s a little too bossy and rough with his little brother.  Luke isn’t quite old enough to retaliate.  It will be interesting to see what happens when Luke starts fighting back.  For now, he just starts crying and then Mommy comes running into the scene to rescue Luke from Jared. 

There are other times that Jared and Luke are sweet and kind to each other.  Sometimes, I’ll find them both in a fierce embrace as they roll around on the floor together. 

Jared and Luke play in the the grass.

Luke Becomes Mobile

Luke enjoys the sunshine and grass

Luke enjoys the sunshine and grass

In the past two weeks, Luke has gone from being a sitter to being a crawler. I have been forgetting to mention this monumental accomplishment in the midst of trying to pass my Ph.D. exams.

However, it has happened. Luke knows how to crawl now and is using his new found mobility to propel him across the room to destinations that might not always be good for him. The other day, I found him dumping all the trash out of the living room trash can. Another time, I found him chewing on a piece of a poster that he had ripped off a wall.

Even though Jared is only 17 months older than Luke, he has long since past the stage of wanting to stick everything in his mouth or pull things off of shelves. Now it’s time to move things back up to unreachable shelves until Luke is old enough to be leave things along. This past weekend, we finally removed the bassinette from his Graco Pack’n Play, because he was starting to pull himself up into a standing position that was precariously close to causing an accidental spill from the side of the crib. I think he is still adjusting to sleeping in the bottom of the Pack’n Play instead of hovering above it in his little bassinette.

It is hard to believe that this little boy was a new born nine months ago and that he will be 10 months old on the 5th of November. It is neat to watch Jared and Luke play together.

Sometimes, Jared is a little bossy, but he does like to help Mamma keep Luke from getting into things that he shouldn’t. Sometimes I’ll hear Jared saying “Baby, don’t do that!” and then I’ll find Luke chewing on something that he shouldn’t chew on.

I guess that’s what big brothers are for, right?

Update on Jared Talk

Jared’s vocabulary is expanding more and more every day.  It’s amazing all the little words and phrases he is picking up (or trying to pick up) since the last time I wrote about it in mid-March.  Sometimes, I still have to play the guessing game to figure out what he’s saying.  

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Visit this post to see what words he has been saying for a while:
https://mkmeierfam.wordpress.com/2009/03/03/the-interpreting-of-jaredish/
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Here is a list of words that still confuse me:
“Mama” and “mum-mum”
He calls his mother “Mama”, but he calls his bottle of formula milk “mum-mum.” One morning, I thought he was screaming out my name, but he was actually thirsty and wanting to drink his milk.  I’m glad I was able to figure it out after a little while. 

“Daddy” “teddy” “taxi”
Amazingly enough, all three of these words sound very similar when they are coming out of Jared’s mouth.  

Aunt Anita and our nanny Marina are both “Nina.”
Sometimes I don’t know if he is asking to see his Aunt’s face on Skype or if he wants to see his nanny walk through the front door. 

“Please” and “cheese”
We’ve taught him how to say both, but sometimes I can’t tell which one he’s saying! 

List of Spanish words he has learned:
There are some words Jared would rather say in Spanish than English.

“biba” which is short for “pelicula” (movie)
“mimo” or “mima” is short for “amigo / amiga” (friend)
“lapiz” (pencil)
“agua” (water)
“alli esta!” (There it is!)
“gracias” (Thank you) 

List of phrases:
Finally, we’re trying to teach him some helpful phrases that will help him communicate more effectively with people around him.  Here are a few he can say.

“Help me.”
“Please.”
“Don’t want that.”
“Up, Mamma.”

When Stephen had his birthday, I tried to get Jared to say “Happy Birthday.”  The closest I got was for Jared to say “Happy Day.”  I guess that’s close enough for a 22 month old.

Jared plays in the sand

Jared plays in the sand