Children’s Museum

We picked the kids up from pre-school and headed off to the children’s museum here in Grand Rapids where the mother of Ellie’s best friend is an administrator. The kids had a pizza party and then we headed into the main museum for the fun, though the kids probably would have enjoyed just hanging out in the office area. 😉

The museum is open late on Thursdays and we spent a few great hours playing on the various exhibits. Joshua and I went into this house of mirrors-type exhibit. We had a lot of fun hiding from each other and then finding the other person. Even when “hiding” you still were visible in one mirror or another. When we decided to try something else, Joshua thought he would run out of the mirrored exhibit and took about 4 steps and smacked into a mirror that was slightly angled away from him…he turned right into it and landed on his side. Of course, my first concern was making sure he was okay, but he didn’t even cry. He looked around at the wall; saw me in the reflection and just started cracking up laughing, as did I.
We spent quite a bit of time on the exhibits we chose to visit. The kids (Joshua, Ellie and Ellie’s friend Molly) got along amazingly well the whole evening and played together much of the time. The evening was a blast. It’s nice to see Ellie starting to have friends that she wants to do something with outside of the school-type environment and then having the attention to play together and enjoy it. When kids are younger, they can get together, but they also seem to get bored with each other and sort of do their own thing often. Fun times.

Learning away

So, in the last few weeks we’ve discovered that Joshua pretty much knows his ABCs. He doesn’t enunciate very well, but he can sing the song pretty well. Last week, Ellie sat Joshua down and worked on the ABCs over and over (it was quite cute to watch). Joshua has impressed us lately with the strides he is taking in language development (talking in complete sentences often) and general understanding of things.

Joshua is developing a very funny sense of humor and loves playing little tricks and he loves to laugh.

As was mentioned in a previous story, Ellie has moved up to a new classroom at her preschool. She was quite hesitant the first week there, but has loved it this week and told Paula that she hopes to stay in this classroom forever…and, she loves her new teachers.
Paula was speaking with one of her new teachers and he received his degree rather recently in elementary education. He told Paula that he was extremely impressed with how smart Ellie is and that she was smarter than many of the elementary school students he worked with in his student teaching. She just has very, very good reasoning skills for a child who is 3…or even older for that matter. There have been a few times in the past week or so where Paula and I have been taken aback…I’ll have to have Paula recall and incident because I am now drawing a blank (Ellie’s memory is much better than mine and you can’t trick that child on anything).
Paula here – Ellie’s friend Yu (pronounced you) is leaving school and moving back to Japan. We’ve had a couple “who’s on first-type” conversations with her as she says, “I played with Yu today,” or “Yu made this for me” but we hear, “I played with you today and You made this for me.” The whole things get kind of confusing. Ellie sits Sean and I down tonight to explain, “When I talk about playing with or sharing with ‘Yu’ and it’s school stuff, I am talking about ‘Yu’ – Y-u not you.” Then she went on. “There are three yous – Yu, Y-u, my friend, u, the letter of the alphabet and you” (pointing at us). “Now do you get it?”
Ellie’s a little concerned about Yu leaving. She’s also friends with his sister Yuki and really hopes they come back. She told me that she won’t see them for weeks and maybe longer. Then she told me that Japan is far away that they have to take an airplane. “Mom, I bet it’s farther than Florida. Is it?” “Yes, Ellie, it’s farther than Florida.” “Hmm, Mom, I think I will tell Yu to just sleep on the airplane, because he’ll probably be on it all night.” “Good idea, Ellie.” “Thanks Mom.”

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!! I have a feeling 2004 is going to be a great year! While I’m not a huge fan of unsolicited advice, I have some to share. If you are inclined to make resolutions at this time of the year, I suggest you add, “get a flu shot” to your list. I realize this won’t be necessary until late fall, early winter, so place it at the bottom of the list, but don’t forget it. I am the only member of my immediate family who got one this year and the only one to have avoided being very sick over the holidays. Seriously, the other three were very sick and I got an annoying little cold. Next November 1, the four of us are going en masse to the docs, sleeves rolled up, and ready.

We were excited about Christmas this year, as the kids are the age where they ‘get’ Santa and are excited about any present they receive. Santa came to our house early to accommodate our travel schedule. Unfortunately, Josh woke up with a 103 temp. He wasn’t quite as excited as we had anticipated. He needed help opening his presents. Ellie was thrilled. She loved all of her presents and marveled at how well Santa knows her because he got everything on the list including a pink bathrobe. She was sure Mrs. Claus must have picked that out. Josh liked his presents, but needed a rest between each one. He got the two busses he had been talking about for the previous two months. His bathrobe is blue, his favorite color. (Tonight the bathrobes were fireman/woman uniforms. They put fires out all over the house and even rescued a cat from the top of a bar stool.) All in all, our Christmas was a great time, but poor Josh was whipped by the time naptime came around. Josh is not the type of kid who can rest even when he’s sick. It’s just not in him. Ellie, on the other hand, can rest and needs to rest even when she’s not sick. Hmm, wonder which parent each of the kids takes after in this characteristic??
Sean’s flu hit as Josh was starting to get healthy. In the midst of this, I accidentally colored my hair red/orange. That’s another story for another time, but is relevant because I had to get it fixed while Sean was feeling really bad. I came home to find Sean in bed sleeping, the kids having a little snack and watching some TV. Ellie informed me that Daddy had been in bed for a long time, but they were fine. Time is not something Ellie has total mastery of, so I’m sure she exaggerated it a bit; still it was strange to see my toddlers alone in the family room eating and watching TV.
At this time, we were supposed to be in Kansas celebrating Christmas with Grandma and Grandpa and preparing for the event of the season, Ashley (Mellard) and Charlie’s wedding. Ellie was the flower girl and had what she called a “gorgeous dress” to wear. Josh and Sean felt better in time for us to get down there on the 22nd. Unfortunately, Ellie woke up on the 23rd with a fever and the flu. She was very sick and didn’t really feel completely better until about the 3rd of January. I feel bad that we passed the flu on Grandma and Grandpa Cook and Aunt Amber. I have a feeling that given the choice between seeing the kids and getting the flu or not seeing the kids and staying healthy, they would have stocked up on Tylenol anyway, but still it’s quite a price to pay.
On the morning of the wedding (27th), Ellie woke up and immediately started to cry. “I’m still sick!” she said. She was determined though and managed to get a bath. After a nap, she asked me to fix her hair for the wedding. When I was finished, she needed another nap, and that’s when we decided she couldn’t do it. Luckily, Ashley had made arrangements with a substitute flower girl who did a fantastic job, so all was well. My parents had come down for the wedding (really to see Ellie walk down the aisle in that fancy dress and visit with the Mellards, – neither of which they got to do because she was so sick) and stayed with the kids so we could be at the ceremony. As we were leaving, Ellie started to cry again, “Can’t I just go and watch?” Poor kid, she had been practicing for this one, and was so looking forward to dancing at the party afterward. The wedding was beautiful. I love weddings, and this one was very special! When we got back to the hotel, the phone rang. The bride and groom and the bride’s parents (Daryl and Ellen) had decided to make a special trip to our room to see Ellie. Have to admit, I had a few tears in my eyes after that one. Ellie wasn’t much for conversation, but once we were home, she said, “Mom, I’m sorry I wasn’t in the wedding.” I told her it was okay. I would take her to get her picture taken in the dress, and we would watch the movie and celebrate with the Mellards next time we were at their house. Then she said, “Ashley gave me a special present anyway, and mom, she looked like a real princess.” She really did too!
We celebrated Christmas with my family over the New Year holiday. The kids were excited to see their cousins but were still not quite themselves health wise. They voluntarily went to bed around nine o’clock. Did I mention the value of a flu shot earlier?? Still, we had fun. I think Sean was the only one in the house who actually saw 2004 arrive. He was giddy over having received an air compressor as a gift and couldn’t sleep. Seriously, Sean has wanted one for a long time. The rest of us were in desperate need of some sleep and were saving our excitement for the next morning.
Ellie and Josh are back at their “school” now. Ellie started in a new classroom. The first couple days were shaky, but she’s happy now. After about the third day of tears, and “I don’t want to go” we told Ellie she needed to have a ‘no-cry day.’ We told her we knew it was tough starting in a new place with new teachers, but she was missing out on a lot of fun choosing to cry instead of playing with her friends. We promised her a trip to the Children’s Museum if she could make it a whole day without tears. When I picked her up that day, she told me she did it, no tears. She also told me that no-cry days are a lot more fun than cry days and that if it was okay with me, she would make every day a no-cry day. So far, she has. Interestingly, the kids didn’t want to go to the museum. Sean was going to take them, and according to Ellie, “When we go to the museum with Daddy he just goes zip, zip, zip through it, so we would rather stay home and play.” Of course Sean denies that, but Ellie shook her head and gave him the suspicious eye. She’s taken to saying, “whatever” a lot lately, but missed this opportunity to use it.
Josh is having a great time back at school. Josh is not quite as much of a conformer as Ellie. I never worry about Ellie getting in trouble. She just has a knack for avoiding that sort of thing. Josh sometimes seems to seek it out. I fully expect to get a call someday where a teacher says, “We don’t normally use corporal punishment, but…” Contrary to my expectations, we hear what a great kid Josh is. This is good. I think part of his success is that he loves his teachers. When asked what his favorite part of Whistle Stop is, Josh doesn’t hesitate to answer, “Speranta.” Speranta is his lead teacher, and he adores her. His second and third favorite parts are Phyllis and Ruth – two more teachers. He has special friends too. Lately we have been hearing about all the kisses he’s getting from the girls. Yes, my son seems to have a way with the ladies. He also loves the snow. Josh is well-suited for Michigan. He has never done well with heat and loves snow. He dives into it, rolls around, doesn’t seem to be bothered by how cold it is. “Ooh cold” he’ll say, laughing and licking the snow off of his mittens. Next year he’ll be old enough to ski; I hope he likes this too.
This little journal entry has turned into a bit of a novella. I keep getting side-tracked by the Missouri/Syracuse game. Missouri is losing again. It really is hard to take your eyes off of a sinking ship.
2003 turned out to be pretty darn good. Our friend Brian Gunnett plowed his own driveway last week!! If that’s not enough to make our year, not sure what is. Here’s hoping Sean’s cousin Tara experiences the same results with her cancer treatment. Our kids continue to bring us joy beyond our wildest dreams. Sean and I consider ourselves two of the luckiest people in the entire world. Thanks to you, our family and friends, for putting us in that place.