The other day our family took a surprise trip to the aquarium: we woke the boys up on Friday morning and took them out to breakfast. Then we started driving south towards Monterey. They had no clue where we were going. Eventually as we neared Monterey, they started to see sand dunes and guessed that we were going to the beach. But it wasn't until we were in the building that they realized where we were. The last time we were there, Ben was just a newborn, so neither of the boys remembered anything about it. But they sure got excited when they saw all the sea creatures. Their favorite part of the aquarium was the touch tank, full of sea stars, kelp, anemones, and abalone shells.
My plan is to familiarize them with different sea animals, then take a trip to the library to find books about the animals they are most interested in so we can learn more about them. Then in a few weeks (or months) we'll take another trip to the aquarium to visit the animals they're now acquainted with. That's the plan anyway, we'll see how it actually works in Real Life.
It's been rewarding watching your personality develop more as you've progressed through age four. The newest thing about you is that you are talking a lot. And I do mean A LOT. You are constantly asking questions about everything: "What does ____ mean?", "What's for dinner?", "Why did you turn the car around?", "What are we doing after nap? And after that? And after that? And after..." Sometimes I have patience with your increased chatter, but often I have to say, "It's time to be quiet for a few minutes."
We've also noticed something a bit funny about you. When it comes to climbing and being physically adventurous around the home and playground, Ben has you beat. But when it comes to a natural environment like a hiking trail or the beach, you will scramble over, climb, and jump off of rocks like a monkey. (And equally interesting, Ben is uncharacteristically cautious and timid in these environments).
I've mentioned this in another post, but it bears repeating since we keep seeing this on a regular basis: you LOVE babies, especially ones that are 9 months and older. A calm, tender, and gentle side that we don't usually see comes out when you're around them. You're protective of them and you get so happy when you can make them smile. You also want to take them for rides in your Jeep, but we've nixed that idea.
Books: You love to be read almost any book. Your favorite books to look at by yourself are those that have simple words you can read, like The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss, and those that are about how things work. Some of your favorites are books about race cars, construction machines, trains, and how the body works. A steady favorite is anything by Richard Scarry.
Shows: You're really into trains lately, so we've revived a few old favorites like Thomas the Tank Engine and I Love Toy Trains. In general though, you only watch a few shows a week.
Toys: These days, you spend most of your time outdoors playing made up games with your brother. Today I saw you boys playing "Crash the race car", where you zoomed your bikes around the deck and pretended to crash each other and other imaginary cars. As for inside toys, Legos are your current favorite. Unsurprisingly, your favorite things to build are cars and trucks.
Activities & Skills: The other day we did our sand-writing activity and I was surprised to see that you know how to write almost all your uppercase letters. There are a few complex ones that you don't yet know how to write, like G and R.
I've noticed that you learn best when you can figure things out for yourself. For example, with reading, you will show interest in a certain sound combination (say, the "-er" combination), so I'll spend five minutes working with you on learning how to read it and listing out words that use that sound. After five minutes your attention span is spent, so you'll move on to another activity. Then a week later you'll surprise me by randomly pointing out a word with -er that I think you don't know and reading it to me.
You're also more interested than ever in learning your catechism. It's been amazing to see how much you can remember. You seem to be happy with yourself when you can remember all of your questions (you're up to 45 questions now!)
Behavior: Ever since you were about two, we've noted that you go through cycles of good and challenging behavior: you'll be a well-behaved angel for about four months and then go through a short period of very challenging behavior for a few weeks. Right now you're in the midst of an angelic period. I know it's going to come to an end soon, but for right now I'm really enjoying it.
One aspect of your good behavior recently is that you have periods of being very eager to help around the house and learn how to do new things. You're actually becoming pretty helpful. You (sometimes) get excited when it's time to fold your laundry because you (sometimes) like to help me fold things. You're getting really good at folding your pants, and so I set them aside in a pile according to owner and you fold and stack. Honestly, sometimes I'm the one who gets excited because I think laundry folding time will be cut in half for me, only to find out that you're not interested in helping at the moment. But when you are interested, it's a huge help.
You're also able to put dishes from the dishwasher away. I recently heard a speaker at my moms' group talk about how she rearranged her kitchen cabinets so her small children could help put the dishes away. This sounded good to me, so I tried it that afternoon and was surprised to see that you were able to empty the dishwasher and put almost everything away by yourself! Makes me wonder what else you're capable of...
Quotes: One day we had pot stickers with our dinner. I mistakenly called them dumplings and Daddy corrected me and said they were 'pot stickers'. We kept using both words interchangeably. Finally you declared, "I know! Let's call them Dump Stickers!" We all thought that was pretty funny.
When talking about how to write letters, you decided, "Mommy, I think that the letter R is kind of like a B, except it only has one bump and then a slide."
While grocery shopping with me, you asked me what the red onions were. I told you they were called 'red onions'. You looked confused and said, "But Mommy, they're purple. They should be called 'purple onions'." A nearby shopper overheard you and said, "Heh, the kid's right!"
"Mommy, I love God more than anything! Even more than you!" (Music to my ears, son!)
"Mrs. ____, I'm very curious about your house! May I see your room, please?"
Sizes: Shirt: 5 or 6 (depending on the brand) Pants: 5 Shoes: 11
This is what I see outside my dining room window in the early morning as I have my quiet time. I admit that it can be distracting at times, but it's so much fun to see the silhouettes of hummingbirds as they come to feed.