Summer Fun… Out of the Sun!

What to do with your busy two year old on a day in South Texas when the heat index is over 105 and all you wanna do is sit in an ice bath? Play with cups!! This fabulous idea came from a blog post of a friend-of-a-friend… And Becca loved it! With a two year old, we weren’t building the Great Wall of China or anything, but she loved knocking over what Mommy built… So we ended up working on her kicking skills more than her hand-eye coordination, but whatever! She had a blast, and it kept her fully occupied for over 30 minutes!!! Who needs tv, right? (Ha- don’t let me fool you… She still watched plenty of tv yesterday… But it WAS nice to turn it off for a while and do something fun together while Brother was napping.) I hope this idea helps you too, as you attempt to beat the heat/fight the rain/endure the snow wherever you are and whatever season you are in! 🙂

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The Gift of Becca

“You know that this next one might be normal, right?  And that’s ok?”  I’ll never forget sitting in the doctor’s office with our daughter for her eighteen month appointment and hearing those words come out of our doctor’s mouth.  He repeated them 6 months later after reading what has become a novella of Becca’s skills and abilities.  We have yet to know if our tiny Little Bear will be blessed/cursed with his sister’s brilliant mind.  Heaven help us.

And yes, I said it.  Her brilliant mind.  Boo is smart.  Not just smart, but brilliant.  There. I’ve finally been brave enough to say it.  I skirt around the truth with even my closest friends because I don’t want them to seem like I’m bragging, or Heaven forbid, putting down their kids because they don’t have the same skills she does and they are 10-12 months older.  I have recently found a FABULOUS resource in a woman named Colleen who writes over at Raising Lifelong Learners.  And reading some of her posts has empowered me to quit hiding behind the phrase “Becca is really smart.”  To finally say “Becca is gifted,” and to not worry about what any one says.  I’m going to hold my head high and admit to it.  Because maybe then I’ll finally one day meet a parent here in San Antonio who can actually relate to the wonderful, horrible thing that it is to be the parent of a gifted child.

I guess I first started noticing it when her vocabulary took off, but some kids are just verbal.  I noticed it when she loved to sit and pour over books for LONG periods of time, but some kids are just really into picture books.  I noticed it when she loved watching tv and would spout back the correct answers or repeat things from the show hours later, but ALL kids love tv.  Somewhere in there, though, the Elementary Education teacher with Elementary and Early Childhood certification, 5 years of teaching experience, and a masters degree in curriculum development with emphasis on data and testing analysis started seeing things that just weren’t right.

Not that it isn’t great that she could recognize the planet Saturn at 19 months and at 23 months looked at the sky and said “I see Saturn, Mommy?  No, not see Saturn.  Is too far way.  Need lelescope.”  But the fact that she knows what Saturn looks like, knows it’s out there in the sky somewhere too far away to see with the human eye, and knows that to look into space she needs a telescope… well, that might be a sign.  I can almost hear Jeff Foxworthy now: “you know your child is gifted when…here’s your sign.”

She knows her instruments by sight and sound – LOTS of them.  You can ask her “what instrument is that?” and she’ll look at you like “why did you ask me that?” and say “trumpet, Mommy.”  (insert a duh! here.)  She knows her colors, and wants to know more.  She knows that the letters on the crayon wrappers are words that will tell us the name, and will now hand me a crayon and say “Is not bweuw.  What is it?  Looks bweuw.  But not.”  Welcome to the world of crazy Crayola colors, young Grasshopper.

She knows her shapes.  All of them.  She knows that all the “agons” are confusing, so she’ll say “is octagon?  No.  Not a stop sign.  Is hexagon?  Less count, Mommy.” And will count the sides.  Her one-to-one correspondence isn’t quite there yet, so she’ll end up counting the sides of a pentagon twice and will say “what called when has ten sides, mommy?”  Cue mommy googling “ten sided shape name” because it’s been a while since I taught it, and honestly folks, it was in the teachers’ guide!  When do I need to know that a ten sided shape is a decagon?  Not important in my world.  Until now.  Because she cares.  And she wants to know.  And I’m sure she’ll remember.  Because she remembers EVERYTHING.

She can recognize and name almost all of her letters – in ANY order, and wants to know all the sounds they make and searches for them on street signs and billboards.  She can spell “stop” and is quick to tell you that an octagon is always supposed to be red and say “s-t-o-p.”  She watches the show Super Why (geared toward 4-7 year olds) and has amazed me by starting to show that she recognizes basic sight words.  She’s two, folks.  Barely two.  25 months old in two days.  And she’s reading and spelling and devouring everything we can teach her, and everything the tv (via PBS and Disney Jr) can teach her.  It’s amazing.

And yet it’s agonizing.  Because while her brain and mental abilities are at the level of a four and a half – five year old, and her body looks like a four and a half year old, her social and emotional skills are right on track.  She’s definitely two.  All day long.  And then some.  She’s like a brilliant train wreck, just waiting to happen.  Take her toys away?  Look out.  Tell her it’s time to clean up but she wants to play longer?  Sometimes she’ll reason with you and say “I play two more minutes, set timer?” or other times she’ll just start cleaning up.  But many times, she’ll just run off into the other room with her favorite toy to attempt to extend her play time.

How do you discipline the child who will do something, look straight at you and say “no time out”?  You give her a swat and put her in time out anyway.  Because she clearly knows she just did something wrong, knows the punishment for it, and is testing to see if MAYBE this time you will let her get away with it.  It’s a daily struggle for control in our household.  It’s almost like she can see the future and knows that in just a few short years she will have sucked both of us dry for knowledge and will be our mental superiors.

God entrusted us with this child, and we will do the best we can with what knowledge we have been given.  We will discipline, we will teach, we will succeed, and we will fail.  But most of all, we will love – because some days, that’s all we know how to do.  And I can do that with 500% accuracy.  I love this little angel with all my heart – even when she’s far from acting like an angel.

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Preparing for Baby Brother

I often wonder what Becca is thinking. But lately, she’s able to express that so much better, and I find it fun how much she likes to go in Grayson’s room, play with his toys, and sit in his car seat (it’s on the floor by the door in his room). She has gotten better at saying his name, too. He’s no longer “Dayson,” but is now regularly “Grayson.”
I’ve been struggling with the fact that he’s not here yet- dying to finally hold my baby boy in my arms! And it didn’t really hit me until this week that Becca might be really ready for him to arrive, too! She seems to fully understand that a baby is coming- she looks at the tiny diapers and sees her old crib and changing table all ready for a boy, and I think she’s starting to get it. She saw a pregnant woman at the grocery store yesterday, pointed, and said “Baby in dere! Grayson? No, Grayson mommy tummy.” That’s when it fully hit me that maybe she understands more than I think she does!
A friend suggested a craft project- her son did a painting for their new baby girl’s room before she was born as a way to prepare for the impending birth. I loved the idea! So yesterday we trekked to Hobby Lobby, where Becca picked out blue paint, an oval canvas, and an airplane- to make a painting for her lil bubba’s room. She was SO EXCITED! When we got home, she painted the entire oval blue, and then after her nap she had help to paint his name in white paint and then used her fingers to paint white clouds. She had so much fun and talked about painting that “oh-fal” all evening. After she went to bed, I attached the airplane and her daddy hung the canvas over Grayson’s crib. I know she’ll be so excited to see it hanging up today, and I bet she tells Grayson a million times that she painted that for him.
What a fun, easy, inexpensive (esp since Hobby Lobby had canvases 50% off this week!) project to really help her feel included in the preparations for baby brother!
Now if only he would get here….

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Santa Claus… And his Spring counterpart

Well, so last December as the Christmastime neared, Cody and I did what every parent of a young child does. We took Becca to see Santa Claus and get the famed photos. Except our little Christmas elf didn’t want ANY part of being in a picture with a crazy old man in a bright red suit sitting in front of a gorgeously decorated backdrop. She cried. No, actually, she screamed in terror. (Seriously, ya’ll… I was glad there were no other kids in line or they might have changed their minds about sharing their present wishes with the old cherub.) So, we did the next thing all good parents do, and we forced the issue. We ended up getting some super cute pictures with her sitting in front of the Christmas tree- in mommy’s lap… A safe distance away from said man-in-red. Fast forward a couple weeks and we relived the whole scene again… Altho thankfully she didn’t scream, and we already had some ok pics so we didn’t force the issue.

Well, so yesterday it came time for Becca to meet Santa’s Spring counterpart for the very first time. We took her to Chickfila for their Easter celebration, and I honestly wasn’t sure what she would do. The odds were stacked against me:
1. A restaurant we don’t go to very often (we usually visit a different location).
2. Tons of people she didn’t know after a weekend of over-stimulation and a day of just wanting to be by herself in her room.
3. A person she didn’t know dressed in a head-to-toe costume making them no longer look even partially human.
4. A character she didn’t recognize (she LOVES the Sesame Street characters at Sea World).

So yes, it was a bit crazy on my part to think it would go well, but I conjered up that wonderful parent who forced her child to take pictures with the Old Guy and off we went- her dressed in a cute springy outfit from my mom, and me armed with, well, nothing but George.

George- who stayed in the diaper bag from the time we got out of the car until the time we got back in it. She was a pro! We arrived 10 mins before the event started, and already the restaurant was so packed that we got the last high chair, and sat at a table for two! But she ate her dinner, and did a fabulous job making her Easter egg foam magnet craft.

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And then, she met him. The big, white, fluffy bunny. Her new bestie. I seriously think she would have stayed and hung out with him longer if we could have let her. She was fascinated. Enthralled. In love.

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As we got in the car, the talking began. “Bye bye, Eas-er bunny! See you waiter!” I didn’t have the heart to tell her it’d probably be a year before she’d run into him again. All the way home was this and that about the Eas-er bunny and Eas-er cow. (Yup, there’s one of those, too, folks… She wears pink and has a huge bow and ginormous eye lashes. She’s a bit scary, in my books, but Becca loved her, too!)

All in all, it was a fabulous evening, and though I’m surprised at the outcome, it’s definitely a pleasant-sort-of suprised, and I’m also hopeful… Hopeful that maybe THIS winter will be different, and maybe she’ll let the Big Man Himself hold her on HIS knee for a picture. Maybe if he’s at Chickfila…