August, 2008

Sam is enormously recovered from his tonsillectomy now. It was definitely a harder recovery than post-tubes, but he now breathes silently at night, whereas before he was always quite audible, and that alone makes me feel that it was probably the right choice.
Yesterday we had further health issues as Nina stuck two small plastic beads up her right nostril. One bead she was able to get out here at home, but she continued to cry and to say that there was a bead in her nose. We couldn't see it and weren't sure if it was just the feeling post-bead removal, but decided to take her in anyway. Luckily West Mid A&E was very quiet last night and she was seen quite quickly. Indeed there was a bead still there. In the end it took one doctor, two nurses, and me to hold her down to allow for bead removal. Nina hopefully learned that it's not a good idea to stick things up one's nose, and we learned that Nina still must be supervised with small objects...
Today was Sports Day at the Croft Centre, organized by Three Wings Trust. We biked there, marking Sam's longest bike ride yet (a bit under half an hour at Sam's speed). Sam and Nina enjoyed the very low-key races and had fun playing at the playground afterwards as well.
On Saturday we went to Brighton. It was not great weather and I didn't want to go to another park only to be rained out, and our original plan was to go to Herstmonceux Science Center, but Nina started getting restless just as the signs for Brighton came up so we changed plans midway and to Brighton we went. Sam and Håkan went to the Sealife Centre while Nina, who is not so sure about aquariums, and I wandered around town a bit and checked out Brighton Pier. Brighton Pier was certainly a very interesting place, as was the whole town really, and I'm glad we got the chance to see it. It's great that both kids are at ages where we can do that sort of thing more easily.
Here at home chess is the new game of choice. Nina has now learnt that it's called "chess" rather than "chests" and that they're "pawns" instead of "ponds." :) Sam has been playing against everyone in the house and seems quite smitten with the game.
Several days ago I again started a campaign to let nighttime be for sleeping rather than nursing. We have had mixed success. The first night again was the most difficult, although nowhere near as difficult as the first night we attempted it a couple months ago. A few nights we've gone the whole night. Twice now she's slept through till 4am, which is extremely good for her. We are definitely headed in the right direction. We are still doing the star chart for dressing in the morning and undressing at night. She continues to get frustrated but is much more interested in dressing independently which is great. Yesterday at All Soul's I was able to send her away several times to continue playing while I chatted with another parent, something she would not have tolerated a month ago. So that is all good. We do need to continue to work on using gentle hands with Sam in particular. It will be very good for her, and for Sam as well, when school starts back up again.

Today was visit number two to Dr. Rundell, the behaviour specialist. It went better than last time, but did still end up with Nina on the floor screaming for awhile. Such a fun way to start the day. Anyway, we again reviewed the importance of boundaries and consistency, and consistent boundaries, and we were sent on our merry way with another chart for self-dressing. But this time Nina only gets a sticker if she is able to dress herself completely without yelling, so it is a much more challenging chart. I clearly have a lot to work on in terms of my general approach but the book I just started reading, The No-Cry Discipline Solution, assures me that the mere fact that I am reading it shows that there's hope and further suggests that as long as a parent does right 70% of the time, that parent is doing just fine. Elizabeth Pantley, who wrote the book, is clearly much closer to my temperament than Dr. Rundell, so it's great to be getting discipline suggestions from both sides of the aisle, so to speak.

I can't remember if I wrote about the little songs or not. Nina is still doing little songs about various things and apparently it runs in the family, as Seviah did it for at least a year. They tend to be made-up songs about things that are happening.
When we first bought the chess set, Sam didn't seem especially interested, but something clicked and it is now his favorite activity second only to reading his Bionicle Encyclopedia. Playing chess with him is an interesting challenge as we try to figure out the appropriate amount of success and setback. He was able to put Håkan into checkmate in four moves recently (we didn't teach him how to... I wouldn't have even known how to teach him to). Nina has played chess with Sam on several occasions and is already learning how the pieces move, which may end up being sort of like me knowing all the words to "American Pie" at 4 (but not at 5 or 41).
The current favorite video is the Sesame Street classic "Sing Yourself Silly."
Yesterday we went to the Croft Centre Summer Party which meant Sam and Nina were able to spend a whole hour in the ball pool much to their contentment.

Last night at about 11:30 we got home from our spur of the moment overnight trip to Dorset. We left, with everyone else, on Saturday about mid-morning. What we learned was, watch out for Bank Holiday weekends. The traffic was really bad and in the end we took several alternate routes which were scenic but not direct. We didn't reach Portland until about 4. We had a quick walk to try to find the boulders then went to the Mermaid Inn for dinner. After that it was off to the campground. It started to rain just as we were pulling in. Luckily it was only light rain until later in the night, then the rain started in earnest and the wind as well. The kids were so excited by the novelty of sleeping in a tent that they didn't get to sleep until around 10PM. In the night I realized that camping is much better if it's quite warm outside or if everybody involved is willing to sleep in their very own sleeping bag... I think next summer it would be worth trying again, when we've also found a campground that doesn't hire a cover band on Saturday nights. But hey, you gotta try it to know if it's going to work or not, and it was definitely a new and different experience for the kids.
In the morning we headed to Lyme Regis after playing in the campground playground for awhile. We had a lovely breakfast and headed to the beach. The kids had a fabulous time on the beach despite the rather cool temperatures. Then it was time to head back to Portland to search again for the boulders. We soon realized that bouldering wasn't going to quite work out so we opted for doing a roped climb. Both kids were extremely excited about that prospect. It was a bit nerve-racking to belay for the first time in well over six years but went fine, and then after a coin toss it was Nina's turn to climb. She wasn't quite sure about coming down the first time but quickly decided it was fun and did it a couple more times. Then it was Sam's turn... well, Sam got up to the lowest ledge with some help, and then flat-out refused to sit down and come down. He started to get very upset, which led to Nina getting upset, which led to me bouldering up to the ledge to talk him through the logistics of being lowered. After, oh, ten minutes, he was ready to try, and then decided that yes, in fact that was fun, and wanted to do it again... So after my proper turn, the kids had a few more turns, and in the end, a wonderful time was had by all.
Then it was in to Weymouth to look for dinner. We chose an Italian place with a kid menu that was extremely overcrowded and we had to wait a very long time. The food was very good, but very slow in coming, and we were sitting outside, which was a bit chilly, but such is the stuff of spur of the moment trips. We decided to drive home after dinner which went much, much faster. Nina woke up about 15 minutes from home and was not at all pleased about being in the car, but both kids were able to fall back asleep once at home.
We are very glad we went, even though there were some logistical challenges, and we hope to take more such trips in the future.

I have been reading The No-Cry Discipline Solution by Elizabeth Pantley and it has already had an effect. Last Thursday we had our first-ever family meeting, where the kids got to look over the official Family Guidelines, which are now posted in the kitchen and the upstairs hall. Tonight, after Nina scratched Sam enough to leave a mark, it was time to start the Happy Faces system. Sam and Nina both got to color 10 index cards with a happy face on one side and a sad face on the other side. We then posted them on a bulletin board along with our three most important rules: No violence, no unnecessary screaming, no impolite interrupting. The deal is, if a rule is broken, the happy face turns into a sad face, thus reducing the number of mini chocolate chips each kid gets at the end of the day. If there are no infractions, each kid gets 10 mini chocolate chips(these are even smaller than your usual chocolate chip-- almost too small really, but less is more). It worked amazingly well this evening-- Nina has never been so quick to get into her bath, and she put on her pajamas without a hitch. I think this is the discipline strategy I've been searching for...
Håkan bravely took Sam and Nina to Ikea this morning as I had to go to Kingston. He reported that it went quite well and that they ate heartily at the Ikea restaurant... and played very happily in the Ikea playground. I continue to appreciate their increased mobility.
Last night Nina got to sleep 2 out of 3 times without nursing. According to Dr. Rundell I just need to make up my mind, and I guess I haven't quite done that yet, but I'm getting closer and closer. I think the hardest thing is the fact that it will lead short-term to still more sleep deprivation. But it really should be done for all of us. Nina has also taken to sleeping with the wooden rattle that she is holding in this entry's picture, which is not the most pleasant thing when she brings it up into our bed, but is rather entertaining. She also continues to love dancing and has been copying Leslie Feist in her Sesame Street video which is quite entertaining.
Sam is getting more and more comfortable in the pool. He has been dipping his face more often. Håkan reports that he is approaching swimming in his Sam way.
School starts next Thursday for Sam! Still not sure when it starts for Nina, but am so glad she is signed up for four rather than three mornings a week.