Another few months have already passed for John! Our little dude always corrects us when we say he's "our little boy." He'll say, "No, I'm a big boy!" or "No, I'm a big man!"
John has settled into a good routine now. He has preschool every Monday and Wednesday from 9:30 until 2:30, and he LOVES it! He has quite a few "buddies" from school, and he talks about them constantly, especially Raffa (short for Raphael), Danny and Julian. One of John's favorite parts of the school day -- besides hanging with his buddies -- is art time. It's so nice for him to bring home an adorable piece of art at the end of the day! His teachers say that he takes art time very seriously, and I believe it, since we're constantly doing crafts at home (coloring, painting, etc.). I bought a corkboard strip on sale at Pottery Barn Kids that we're going to put up in the playroom to display his many projects.
On Tuesday and Thursday mornings we go to the YMCA, which is just about a mile from our house. I try to get us out the door by 8:40 so I can go to a 9:00 class, and then we try to leave again around 10:15 so we can get home in time for Lila's first nap. The Y is totally awesome -- and since we have a free military family membership that includes free unlimited childcare for one child (Lila), we only end up paying $15 a month for John's (unlimited) childcare! John loves playing with the other kids in the childcare center. He always looks forward to meeting new buddies. Last Tuesday, he was having so much fun there that he didn't want to leave and he started to cry! He had been coloring a picture of Spiderman with one of the teachers.
Fridays are our "wildcard" days. Since we've been doing so much traveling lately, we like to keep that day open. If we have to go to Illinois that week, we leave Thursday morning after Lila wakes up from her first nap, which means we spend Friday in Illinois. This winter, I plan to make Friday morning our "swimming" day at the Y -- I'll drop Lila off at the childcare center and take John with me to the pool area. (He's been asking about the pool there ever since we took a tour of the gym back in August.) On the weekends, Daddy can come with us to the Y and we can take both kids to the pool!
So what do we do the rest of the day during the week? On Monday and Wednesday afternoons, Lila and I pick John up from school and do a short outing before we have to go back to the house for Lila's second nap. This is something we've just started doing in the last few weeks -- now that Lila's older and doesn't need her second nap as early, we have time to go somewhere for a little while. This past Monday afternoon, for example, we went to the Brookfield mall for an hour. Today, we went to the library in Wauwatosa. Later, while Lila is taking her second nap, John and I play together (preferably outside if it's not freezing cold) or do some chores -- he loves to do chores (cleaning the downstairs bathroom, washing dishes, cooking or baking, raking leaves). Occasionally, if I can tell John is really tired (i.e. if he didn't nap during naptime at school), I'll put on a short program for him to watch on his "special 'puter" (portable DVD player).
On Tuesdays and Thursdays after we get home from the gym, I try to have a project for John to do while Lila's sleeping if it's too cold to play outside. It might be an art project, or it might be a project like bringing up all the Christmas decorations from the basement and deciding where to put them in the house. I like to involve him in as many household tasks/decisions as possible because it makes him feel grown-up. If I can't think of anything for him to do and I can tell he's getting really bored (which can cause him to act out), I put on an episode of Sesame Street, which is on PBS Kids from 11 to noon. I figure it's better for him to sit and watch an educational program than to get so bored that he starts misbehaving.
After lunch, we start the wind-down process. John still has "naptime" around 1 or 1:30 p.m., although he hasn't consistently fallen asleep during naptime for at least a couple of weeks. (He falls asleep during school naptime about 50% of the time.) If he is acting especially tired and I think it's possible he might sleep, I'll close the shades in his room. Usually, though, he won't be tired enough to fall asleep and he'll get bored after awhile, so I'll go back in to open the shades and bring him some books to read or toys to play with (it's so dark in his room with the shades closed that he can't see to read/play unless I open them). I give him about 45 minutes to an hour for "naptime" if he hasn't fallen asleep before I go to get him.
The transition to no nap has been a bit difficult. John usually can't fall asleep for a nap, but most days he could still use one. It's strange because he always seems to be ready to go to sleep when we head upstairs for naptime, but he just can't fall asleep. I've tried moving naptime around to different times, too (as early as 12:45 and as late as 2), but nothing works on a regular basis. To make up for the lost nap, we've been putting him to bed earlier -- around 7 p.m., but sometimes earlier if he's especially tired. Tonight we put him down at 6:30 because he was having a really hard time at dinner. He'll probably be up at 7 tomorrow morning (his usual wake-up time), so at least he's getting 12+ hours of total sleep. One of my sleep books says that 11.5-11.75 hours of total sleep is the average for this age.
But enough with the mundane stuff and on to a couple of fun facts about John!
- John has become very finnicky about pajamas. If it's not bath night, he often asks to sleep in his clothes. If it is bath night and his clothes are already off, he'll usually be o.k. with putting pajamas on if he can pick them out. He always picks out a pair of his summer pajamas, so we end up putting a pair of warm fleece pajamas on underneath so he doesn't freeze. Some of the combinations he has been wearing lately are pretty interesting! In the morning, John wants to put on his clothes right away. It is the rare occasion that he still has his pajamas on at breakfast.
- John wants to be just like his little sister. If Lila is holding one of her blankets, he wants to hold one too. If Lila is eating Cheerios out of her snack cup, he wants to eat Cheerios out of a snack cup too. If Lila is playing with a certain toy, he wants to play with it too. It is exhausting for Mommy to keep up with all the ways in which John wants to copy Lila!
- John LOVES sports -- playing them, talking about them and/or listening to their radio broadcasts. Baseball and football are his favorites. Daddy has done a great job of playing catch with John in the front yard and teaching him about tackling in football (John thought tackling meant going up to an opponent and tickling him, hehe). It's been really fun this fall to be in Wisconsin, since all the major sports teams here have had great seasons! We followed the Brewers very closely, and John still wears the Brewers hat Daddy had gotten for him at a June game at Miller Park. Now we're well into the Packers' season.
-I keep forgetting to post about how John is progressing with his German, but he is still doing amazingly well. When I speak to him in German, he understands almost everything I say -- it's unbelievable. And he responds to me -- correctly -- in English. I'm especially amazed because I haven't been as diligent about speaking to him in German as I was when we still lived in Illinois. But I do still play a lot of German music in the car. That's helped him learn a bunch of traditional German children's songs (his favorites are "Backe, backe Kuchen" and "Bruderchen, komm tanz mit mir") and the German alphabet. I'm still so impressed that he can keep the two alphabets separate!
And some photos.....