A lot has happened/changed since the last time I wrote regularly here...but a lot is really still the same. I've been slow coming to terms with the fact that I no longer have a "baby" - I always pause in the baby section of stores only to realize that none of those products really apply to us anymore. We've got two straight up kids - with all the benefits and challenges that come with them. In many ways parenting has gotten easier in the last year or two. Both kids (mostly) sleep in their own beds, can get themselves dressed, play independently, go to the bathroom without assistance, can eat a meal and tackle chores that are actually helpful (unlike the toddler version of helping which just makes everything take twice as long). Whether they choose to do these things is another issue entirely...but they CAN be quite independent. After the first five years of parenthood that I spent either pregnant, nursing, or both...I've found a lot of freedom in the this stage of parenting. Of course new challenges crop up and we are still figuring out how to navigate this new chapter. We seem to be busy in a different way these days. Maybe busy is the wrong word. Our lives are full. Still, I do feel like we prioritize family time and we are doing a decent job of enjoying this era before it slips by.
Leo has adapted to school really well. He is closer to the end than the beginning of his kindergarten year and our one goal (that his first experience with school be a positive one) has been met. He loves his teacher, his friends and seems to be learning a lot. That said, it also takes a lot out of him. He comes home and just wants to either color, play with Legos or watch a tv show. Usually, we let him, because even though he does have homework, it is not mandatory. So we encourage homework, but equally encourage play...or even just relaxing.
The hardest transition on my end is that I just feel like I don't get enough of him. I miss him. We spent ALL of our time together for five years and now we get rushed mornings, packed evenings and (sometimes busy) weekends. At the end of the day I just want more time with him. He's turning into this incredible kid - singing songs I don't know, sharing jokes I'm not in on, and developing interests that I didn't introduce him to. It's amazing to watch, but bittersweet to loosen my grip on him. Luckily, he still really loves to cuddle, so if I ever do feel like he's growing up too fast, he's happy to slow down for a bit and remind me he's still my baby.
Leo is still his sweet sensitive self, but he has really come out of his shell this year. He was so very shy, especially with new people before, but now he's downright outgoing. He is quick to say hello or strike up conversation...he might even be a bit of a ham. He's reading easy reader books all on his own and loves math and science. He's in his second season at a local soccer league (jb was a coach last season) and loves digging holes outside.
Leo has a typical five-year-old sponge-like brain. He loves learning about animals and especially enjoys shows like Wild Kratts, that help him collect information. He also really enjoys learning things through song. We started with some simple songs - like the days of the week, months of the year, etc. (Well I guess really we began with the ABCs...) and he enjoyed them so much that we moved on to the 50 Nifty United States and now he's trying to master the periodic table song. The capacity for rote memorization at this age is impressive.
Leo is a much pickier eater than he was last year. His intake of fruits and veggies is limited to a short list of acceptable varieties. He is also still very particular about the types of clothes he wears. If it were up to him he would never wear anything that doesn't have an elastic waistband. We have to cut the tags out of his shirts, and the tantrums over socks and shoes each morning are epic. We are also deep in the whining phase of childhood, which I have little patience for...and I'm hoping the end is in sight soon. Other than these few quirks, he is a pretty easy going kid. He's eager to please, thoughtful, cautious and very in tune with other people's emotions. It's really a pleasure to know and parent him.
Zoe is going to preschool two mornings a week, but spends most of her time as my sidekick. She did go to school for four day a week for a while, but it was a bit much for her. Zoe prefers to be home/with me, so as long as that's an option, we are trying to maximize our time together. She is still quite the firecracker, but I do think things have slowly begun to chill out now that we are past that tough 2.5-3.5 stage. The silver lining of missing leo while he's in school is that Zoe and I have been having a lot of one on one time and it's been nice to get to see who she is when no one else is around.
Zoe's current obsession is her balance bike. She rides that thing everywhere. To school, to the park, to pick up Leo from school...even from the living room to the kitchen. The first day she got on it, she rode ten blocks to a friend's home...then ten blocks back. Even after that she cried when we told her we had to go back inside and take a break from riding. The next day, the first thing she did was hop back on the bike and the poor thing had bike seat bruise (anyone who has taken a spin class can relate, I'm sure) and it hurt too much to ride. She was devastated. But as soon as her bottom felt better she got back on and has barely gotten off to eat and sleep since.
Her "baby Koh-wah-wah" (Baby Koala is actually a stuffed elephant...I don't know why she named it that) is still very precious to her. So precious, in fact that Baby Koala made it onto our holiday card this year. Zoe is also very fond of two pandas, Max and Pearl, that were a gift from a friend of the family. She has a basket on her bike and brings them with her everywhere.
Zoe has grown out of many of her adorable mispronunciations. Most notably my beloved "farkley" for sparkley. Though she does still mix up or mis-remember the names of certain things and that is equally cute. For example, she calls sweat pants "sweaty pants." SWEATY PANTS. This is how kids survive. They drive you bonkers, but then they say something like "sweaty pants" and you can't stay mad.
Zoe can be quick to anger and often seems to be yelling. In fact, we thought she might have some hearing loss so we took her to the Doctor, but apparently she's just a loud kid who doesn't like to listen. So, uh, that's a relief? She knows what she wants and may the universe help you if you get in her way. She is confident, brave, funny (SO FUNNY) and sharp. While these traits can sometimes be challenging to parent, she is a hella cool person. Zoe jumps into everything with both feet. I admire her in so many ways...and feel lucky I get to know her and watch her grow into the girl (and eventually woman) she's meant to be.
Zoe still wants to do everything her brother does and imitates him and follows him and...well...as with every sibling set since the beginning of time...pesters him. There has been quite a bit of bickering in our house and it drives me batty. It's incredible what ridiculous things these two can fight about. Of course, usually, a few minutes later they are BFFs again. It's me that is left with the residual anxiety of several minutes of screaming and crying - about a dozen times a day. Still, I'd say over all they get along really well and clearly love each other dearly.
These two kids are so different, and while they do occasionally butt heads, mostly they compliment each other in really beautiful ways. They learn so much from each other. I'm in awe watching their friendship grow and evolve. Their goodbyes in the mornings and their reunions in the afternoons are enough to melt hearts. When they are able figure out ways to play harmoniously together, it's my favorite thing in the world to observe. They come up with fantastic imaginary worlds complete with headquarters and superpowers.
My own relationships with my siblings are so important to me now as an adult, and I really hope for my kids to have that in each other. So far they seem to be off to a great start.