The whole gang (plus one Tita) headed down to Key West for a little beach time and relaxation. Did I really write that? I totally meant support Mike in his 12.5-mile swim race that spanned the perimeter of the entire island.
10 days. Three flights. Two states. A taste of early American history and a big bite of family and friends. We did it all with both kids plus some sanity to spare.
The day finally came. Maxon embraced his inner artist. Actually, truth be told, this day came a few months ago but we have been a little, ahem, neglectful of our little blog. It all started the day I realized that he was holding scissors properly and opening and closing the blades to effectively cut paper. Prior to that he could get the scissors to close once and then just ripped the paper apart. Then the cute little button-and-string manipulatives I bought were actually being threaded together instead of being thrown across the room in frustration. Lo and behold, the dexterity in this little three-year-old’s finger (“but I’m three-and-a-half!”) can do more than swipe the screen of the iPad.
Next thing I know, he is writing his name. I fully credit Mike for introducing the concept of writing letters on the whiteboard and then to school for their daily “journal” exercises. Over the next few weeks, he came home with sheets of “artwork” where he dutifully wrote his own name on the back. At first the letters in his name were mostly in a jumble, definitely written in order but placed inconsistently. Sometimes it was even right to left. Over the next few weeks, the line became straighter and always left to right. He started drawing actual pictures instead of tight little scribbles. I’m not saying I always know what he’s drawing but clearly he has a vision.
We’ve also tried out a number of classes this spring. We just wrapped up a semester of Music Together with Cooper and we are currently trying out soccer class with varying levels of success. The shakiest class we’ve taken so far was swim lessons just last month. It was the first class of any kind where he left me by the sidelines and he was on his own in his little class with the teacher. While eager to do what he was told by the teacher, he would do the bare minimum to get any place on his head wet and was generally ready to bail if another kid started getting a little splashy. When the teacher was pulling them around the pool on pool noodles, he kept his head and neck so far up above water I thought he’d get a cramp. While he didn’t love swim lessons on that first go-round, I do think it piqued his interest and he is much more adamant about going to the pool lately. We had a big breakthrough while we were in Virginia where he was able to float all by himself on a pool noodle and just this weekend he got into our neighbor’s pool (with another promise of a pool noodle) without much prodding. There is still hope.
However, not all developments are positive. Maxon is also embracing his inner toddler. I thought it was just a passing phase a few months ago but still it lingers. The baby talk. The whining. The whimpering and crying at the drop of a hat. The whining. The volleyball conversations that sound a lot like “yes, it is” and “no, it’s not”. Wanting to be carried just like Cooper. Or eating whatever Cooper is eating. And the whining. Lots of whining. Did I mention whining?
Maxon is also embracing his big brother duties, such as taking away toys from Cooper and putting them where he can’t reach. Or seeing which toy Cooper is waddling towards and getting there faster to snatch it up (“but I had it first!”). Or standing riiiight next to him and stressing Cooper out (“But I’m not even touching him!”). But then again, he is also quick to run off and grab a pillow and put it on the spot where Cooper fell or bumped his head. And to repeat over and over whatever little random thing he did to make Cooper laugh. And to endlessly sing the “Itsy-Bitsy Spider” on demand.
He is the total package.
So the last we left it, Cooper was scheduled to get surgery to put ear tubes in. I’m happy to report that Super Trooper Cooper handled the entire ordeal with the resilience the comes so naturally to little children and was back to normal that same day. I’m even happier to report that since then we’ve had no recurrence of any ear infections, even after a couple of colds and sprouting three molars. Magic? Yes, I believe so. At his follow-up appointment, the doctor confirmed that his tubes were in the right place and doing their job and the audiologist said his hearing was perfect. At least we got this part right!
We are still fighting the good fight on the allergy front. We went back to the allergist in April to talk about the results of the allergy blood test and had him skin-tested for additional items that I thought he was reacting to. I’ve been keeping a log of every little thing he eats and it actually came in handy in identifying possible allergens. So in addition to all of the top eight allergens (milk, eggs, soy, wheat, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts), we also confirmed an allergy to quinoa (seriously?). I also suspect an allergy to barley and garlic. Seriously.
I’ve been on my own food prep journey this whole time myself. It was really hard for me to readjust my shopping list and recipes and I found it extremely frustrating every time I had to go to the grocery store. It’s still frustrating now but I’ve started getting used to knowing what I can buy and what I need to leave on the shelves. It’s also been stressful having to be so vigilant at all times about what Cooper is eating, if the nutritional value is enough, and if he is having an unexpected allergic reaction. For instance, I started off making fresh coconut milk from dessicated coconut shreds back in March since the packaged “coconut beverages” were too low-calorie and low-fat for growing babies in my opinion. While a fun experiment the first time around, it got old quickly having to go through the entire multi-step, multi-day process every 3 days since it does not have a long shelf-life. Once he started turning his nose up at the sippy cup, I abandoned the scratch process and bought canned coconut milk and just cut it with water until he seemed utterly disinterested in drinking that at all. We then tried vanilla-flavored unsweetened hemp milk (tastes like vanilla-flavored rope, in case you were wondering) with much success so I was finally able to stop that hamster wheel turning in my brain. It actually isn’t terribly difficult to feed Cooper once you know that basically all packaged and processed foods are out of the running and are willing to make almost everything from scratch, but it sure is inconvenient.
On a lighter note, Cooper has really come along with communicating. A lot of it is still grunting, sign language, head-shaking no, and head-shaking yes, which is surprisingly effective 90% of the day, but he finally said “mama” and correctly pointed to me just in the last couple of weeks. I think he is saying “done” (“duh!”) when he signs all done and “wawa” as he signs water. And then there are my favorite words of his: backpack and poop. No phonetic spelling for the reader needed.
He fits in around here just fine.