Saturday, January 28, 2012

Will Power

8 rolls, 2 wiggles, and a stretch.

Naomi VII

Here's what we wrote about Jasmine Olivia @ 5 months old:

She doesn't eat all that well during the day because she's too
easily distracted (she'll stop eating if she hears a fly in the next
room rubbing his wings together)... but she'll chug a 5 oz bottle with
her eyes closed in the middle of the night without waking up..

Even with these small things it's funny to see how much things don't change from one child to the next; as Naomi has suddenly developed the same nosey neighbor syndrome when it's time to chug a bottle. And she has finally made the jump from 3 ounces to 5. In terms of other notables with Naomi @ 5 months, she...
  • tries to grab everything (but not nearly at the same level as Thing 1 and 2)
  • will sleep from 8 til 6:30 on a good night... usually with a 10 minute intermission for a bottle... but sometimes not
  • seems to be having a little more separation anxiety at this age than I remember for the others... but then she's used to more people in the house; so maybe that should be expected.
  • reaped the "benefits" of a single day on formula (i.e., constipation)... but is happily back to the breast milk regime
  • has graduated to baby food and a high chair
  • has found first gear on her walker (by 4 months, Jasmine was already in 5th gear... but more on that in a minute)
  • and rolls over in both directions

Here's a little more detail about those last 3 points:

New Company & Solid Foods
We broke out the high chair at the 5-month mark and presented her with her first non-breastmilk experience: a small bowl of rice cereal and a piece of chocolate cake. Okay, so mommy vetoed the chocolate cake... but, in keeping with her reputation as the easy baby, she ate the rice cereal like a champion. In fact, I'd say that she ate it with a little bit of an attitude; as if to say, "y'all should've started feeding me solids a long time ago." So now, with her high chair pulled up, we're officially a family of 5 at the dinner table... which I think is kinda cool.

First Gear
So one night I turned to Venesa and said, you know, I hate to be so comparative with the kids, but Naomi doesn't seem to be as active as Justin & Jasmine were at this age. And so a conversation ensued and led us to revisit our trusty blog. Rewind 2 years, and boom, there was Jasmine at 4 months... doing donuts like a NASCAR champion ... And as we brainstormed about why Naomi wasn't even moving in the walker [can't be the walker, it's same one jasmine had... can't be the floors... can't be her height, she's the longest of all 3 kids... is she too chubby?... ] Yep, I was ready to sign her up for special ed... until it hit us: check the height setting! Long story short, we owe her an apology on this one: we set her up for failure, and then had the nerve to talk about her. And so we knocked the setting down a notch and 5 seconds later she scooted across the floor waving her hands like a healed person at a Benny Hinn conference (I can walk!). Sorry girl. I guess we owe you one.

Electric Slide
Yep, it's official: You can no longer put her on the floor somewhere and expect her to be there when you get back. The girl will string together 8 rolls and a wiggle, and be under the couch in the blink of an eye. I'll never forget the first time that Justin did that. I left and came back, and he was gone! He had never moved before and so I never thought to look around for him (as in just 4 feet away). I just about panicked was ready to call the police (for all of 3 seconds). Ahhhh... but I'm 3 kids wiser now. And while I was able to play it cool this time, I'm still able to appreciate it as a pretty significant milestone. Roll. Crawl. Pull up. And Walk. She'll be asking for the car keys before we know it. Check out the next entry for a photo sequence of her maneuvers.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Milestone XXXI

Two things that are not exactly milestones in the usual sense of worthwhile achievements; but things that I nonetheless thought worth documenting simply for the sake of remembrance. In a word, our son has become... a junky.

1. Video Junky
Sometime in the past 3 months, Justin Alexander officially became addicted to video games. Being a boy, this one was probably inevitable; but I thought we had more time before we'd be prying him away from a computer kicking and screaming, begging for 5 more minutes ("but I only have one more level!")... Ahhh... Flashbacks. ColecoVision, 1981. Entire weekends of my life lost to the realm of Donkey Kong and Mouse Trap. Band-Aids secured over joystick blisters. Some of my fondest memories. And here we are... 30 years later (ugh!)... and despite the absence of a Wii, Playstation or an Xbox in the house... our young jedi has found his way. May the force be with him.

From the old...

to the new.

2. Spider-man Junky
Moving to Hartsville has also translated into Justin being unconditionally hooked on one cartoon: Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends. Yep, thanks to the good people at Netflix (and also thanks to our lack of cable tv and lack of reception) this classic is now a staple in the cartoon rotation. Funny enough, it's also another throwback to 1981. Just like with the video games, my amusement probably has less to do with Justin and more to do with my own nostalgia. At 6 years old, this cartoon had me glued to the tube. And so it's amusing to see that, 3 decades later, it is still equally potent as a toddler tranquilizer. There's nothing he'd rather watch (though I think Jasmine Olivia could do without it... she calls Spidy a "bad man"). So while that's two more things that the 1st born and I have in common; he's still got me beat in one key category: I never graduated to custome status.

What's the largest size they sell? Maybe it's not too late.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


With a handful of degrees between us and an obvious passion for education, we're theoretically prime candidates for homeschooling our children. But practically speaking, I still can't figure out how we got here. Venesa will be the first to tell you that my grand post-marriage plans included two incomes and a lavish annual vacation. But we followed the breadcrumbs and here we are. Hopefully in God's will for our family. Somewhat clueless, but excited for the potential.

The kids have already declared Co-op Monday as one of their favorite parts of Oakdale Academy (aka "mommy school"). Co-op is the once-a-week opportunity for homeschool kids across the city to come together and choose from a smorgasbord of classes that are offered each semester. You can take up to 4 or 5 classes, but two is plenty for our 2 preschoolers. Besides, even though they seem to enjoy it all, I've got a feeling that the classes themselves are nothing but bookends for the part of Co-op that they look forward to the most: Recess. 30 minutes of a few dozen little kids running around the gym, rolling basketballs over each other, and screaming incoherently at the top of their lungs. Actually, I personally haven't made it to Co-op yet... but that's how I picture recess and it makes for good writing; so I'm sticking with it.

Anyhow, pray for us. We need it for sure.
Welcome to Oakdale Academy.

Sunday, January 22, 2012


Milestones XXX
As I've written before, moving to Hartsville 5 month ago meant that we'd have to sink or swim in the midst of a lot of transitional milestones: new house, new city and state, new job & church, new baby (Naomi came 5 days after we moved in) and a first-time school experience for Justin Alexander. Granted, the last item on the list was self-imposed, but we thought it would be a bright idea to send Justin and Jasmine to preschool for a semester or two in order to give Venesa the best opportunity to cope with a newborn in the midst of so much change. In the end, she hyperventilated over the thought of being left home without any kids, and so we decided to just send Justin.

Well... fast forward 5 months, and I am excited to say that (as of Dec 16) the preschool experiment has come to an end. And boy was it a journey. From over-the-top Halloween celebrations and Santa Claus confusion (there will be no fat man in the chimney for us), to bullying and discipline issues; it seemed like every week brought a different issue that made us revisit and question our sanity decision. In the end, I could write a book (or at least a really long pamphlet) about our not-so-virtuous experience with private preschool; but I suppose that I also have to balance that by giving credit where it's due: For one, we appreciated his teacher. As two educators ourselves, we know that we probably have many years ahead of us of being overly critical of our childrens' teachers. Yet, I can still easily say that we appreciated Ms. Denise's level of dedication to her students and her classroom.

In the column of pros, I should also point out that Justin had fun. He looked forward to it everyday and adapted better than we could have imagined. Lastly, he did learn a lot. While we can't say that they added a lot of academic value, there were lots of new experiences (new songs and games, school play, etc.) and plenty of non-academic lessons to be gleaned from his classroom and sandbox adventures (some of which I've written about here). But perhaps most important of all, the whole experience was akin to using a quality primer before the final paint job: It paved the way for our homeschool experience in more ways than one. It helped Justin learn firsthand the structure and purpose of school overall. And our constant observations at the more detailed level gave me and Venesa more ideas than we could count in terms of how to build and shape a school of our own. I guess you can say it was like an internship. Experience gained and a nice stepping stone for what's to come. From that perspective, I guess you can say it was successful after all.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Triple Helix

(In reverse order) Justin, Jasmine & Naomi Janelle @ 4 months

Ain't life wonderful?

Circling The Sun

Brownie Cake and Chuck E. Cheese... It must be daddy's birthday. 365 more days of life... and I'm happy to say that I took none of them for granted. Here's to the next 365 (plus one). Cheers.

Venesa surprised me with an early celebration in the midst of our New Year's Eve shindig, and so I had a crowd for a change (her fam and some friends) to help me devour my goodies. Goodies, I should mention, that were made off-premises and personally delivered by Lela herself... which explains why I didn't smell 'em cooking. You got me. Thanks again.

Man... that's a lot of candles.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Bosom Buddies

The new year brings new acquaintances.