Brooklynn

progression

First day

I view the point of parenting to be getting your kids ready to not need you. Yes, have fun with them, and cherish the time you have with them. Just remember, at some point, they will leave and go out into the world. They need to go out into the world.

So, Brooklynn, go out into the world. Welcome to kindergarten.

We've been taking Brooklynn to daycare since she was a few months old, so it isn't as if we've never had her out of the house without us before. In fact, she will still spend part of her day at a daycare to allow all of us to avoid multiple drop-offs, pick-ups, and varied schedules. And she's fine with it.

Last night, as we reviewed her lunch list and picked out her first day outfit, she took some time to explain to Maddi that she would be going to school during the day but she'll come back in the afternoon so Mom can pick them both up. She explained it with a "Of course this will be fine" tone that showed she was the big sister, more than capable of taking care of herself.

With Brooklynn in daycare, she has been getting to be one of the big kids for a while now, some I'm used to seeing her as a rather mature and capable person. This morning, to help her get into the routine, we took her to daycare and let the shuttle take her to school. I told her that I would see her at school just to make sure she got to her classroom on the first day. At daycare, she was fine - I'll see you there if you want to come. If anything, Maddi was more worked up over the notion that Brooklynn would be leaving without her.

I got to the elementary school ten minutes before the bell rang to line up. It's been a while since I've been to K-5 age setting, and longer still since I was there on the first day. Since I didn't know exactly where Brooklynn would be dropped off, we hadn't set a firm meeting point to give her a "Wait for me here" direction. As I surveyed the mass of kids, parents, and supervisors on the playground, I regretted that.

I didn't think Brooklynn would have abandoned her belongings to play, but I swung by the slides and swings to check. I didn't see her. If nothing else, I knew I could wait by the door and at least wave to her as she went in since I told her I would be there. I was walking back to the school through the people when and opening in the crowd appeared and I spotted her.

She was standing still, clutching her backpack to her chest, looking at all the people swirling around her. Instead of the mature and worldly person we see at home, she seemed very small, timid, and afraid. She saw me as well, came over, and latched on to my leg. I crouch down to be at her level and everything came spilling out. They shuttle dropped her off and there weren't many other kids riding with her today and she didn't know where to go and she couldn't find her teacher and she didn't know where I was but she knew I should be somewhere and she just didn't know.

And so I helped her. With the assistance of a playground monitor, we found the tag where her class will line up. And we looked at the other class tags, and saw how others ones had numbers for the grade levels and hers had a K for kindergarten, and the letter of her teachers name. We put her backpack in the line and went to play for a minute. Brand new playground equipment, yes it's ok to go on it, and yes, I will be here when you're done.

The whistle blew for everyone to line up, so we went back, found her backpack, and got in line. We talked about where the shuttle from daycare dropped her off, and where it would pick her up at the end of the day. We talked about the fact tomorrow morning, she would need to do this herself and that I can't come every day with her. She said that she could handle it, and, since her teacher was starting the headcount of the kids in line, I gave her one last hug, got a tighter squeeze back, and I stepped away.

They waited for a minute while a few other classes went in first. Brooklynn motioned for me to come over to her, but I just told her she would be fine, right? She nodded, and it was her turn to file in. One last wave and she was gone. She didn't even need to look back.

I walked back to my car and headed back to work. The whole point of parenting is to get your kids ready not to need you. We're doing that. Some steps along the path are bigger than others, and I'd say that this morning was a gigantic one.

Good job, Brooklynn.

Enter the building

ride sally ride

Brooklynn has been riding her bike for the past two years with training wheels. She's comfortable with them on and rides pretty quickly, but the entire time, she's been aware that the training wheels are something big kids don't have. She also hasn't learned to lean into turns and when she pedals hard up hills, she sometimes lifts the back wheel off the ground leaning entirely onto the small training wheel. Last month, we told her that maybe this summer would be the year she learned to ride a bike without them. And she immediately demanded that we take the training wheels off. She was FIVE! No balance aides required. Because she's five. Of course a birthday automatically imparts the ability to balance on two wheels.

I took them off, and since her bike seat was set too high for her to reach the ground, I held on while she climbed up. The first trip to the corner and back I held on tight and kept her upright. I imagine it felt to her much like having the training wheels on. The bike stayed stable and vertical regardless of her body position. The next trip, she informed me that I didn't have to hold on so much. So I didn't.

Two seconds later, she was yelling at me because I almost let her fall and how could I do that!? She's just a little kid.

The training wheels went back on.

We've been looking at the strider bikes for Maddi, the kind where there aren't any pedals and kids learn to balance by walking with their feet and gliding. Brooklynn wanted nothing to do with it, because that was for little kids. She has a pedal bike, don't you know. But after visiting a store with them and letting the girls ride around the small strider bikes, Brooklynn admitted that maybe it would be ok to try it.

I lowered her bike seat all the way and took off the pedals. She could just reach the ground enough to push along and she started by basically walking. Our bike and walk outings went from a few miles around the hills of the neighborhood to around the block and back home. And little by little, we started to see improvements. She would glide the last 10 feet down the driveway. She would almost come to a complete stop before she put her foot down to catch herself.

Last night, we watched her glide down a slight hill on the sidewalk for almost 100 feet without touching her feet. Her balance wasn't perfect, and it really looked like she could use someplace to put her feet. Maybe it was time.

I put the pedals back on, and she was immediately more concerned with pedaling and braking than balancing. I helped her by holding on, but it did not go well. She put her bike away, told me I didn't do a good job for her, and went inside.

Brooklynn will quit on things if she doesn't immediately succeed. It's one of the things we are a little worried about her with as she starts school this fall. Rhiannon told her to try one more time. To just push along like she knows how, and if she felt good about it, maybe put her feet on the pedals. And if she still felt good, maybe pedal once around.

She got back on the bike. One more time, she told us. But that was it. And then...

I had to kick her off the bike to get ready for bed. She told me that she's going to ride all afternoon today.

I've never been so proud.

across the spectrum

Mornings have slowly evolved into a routine in the house. On a good day, this finds me up and ready before either of the girls are awake. While they are both capable of being a little independent, it's just easier to get started without them requiring any assistance. Since the time change a few weeks ago, this hasn't been an issue. It's still dark prior to 7am, and to this point, doesn't come too far ahead of sunrise. Some mornings, if we had an early bedtime the night before, Maddi will start making noise. We recently took the side off of her crib, and even though she can get out of her bed, she typically doesn't. Maybe it's the low side that's on it to keep her from rolling out. Maybe it's the fact that she can't open the doors in the house so she can't really go anywhere anyway. Whatever it is that keeps her in bed when she wakes up, I'm not going to complain.

Even if she isn't awake, Maddi typically pops up quickly after I walk in. She likes to have her diaper changed right away, and then a new outfit is selected. If I don't have one picked out yet, I get assistance in the closet. Thankfully, Rhiannon loads the closet with matching outfits pre-sorted, so as long as I take the pants under whatever shirt Maddi grabs, we are good to go. Then she likes to run down the hall and say good morning to Rhiannon.

Before I get Maddi, I like to open Brooklynn's door. This lets the hall light shine in for a little bit before I get her. It doesn't mean she's awake. More often than not, it means when I go in, the blankets are pulled over her head and she has her back to the door. Where Maddi seems pretty excited about getting ready, Brooklynn does not. She doesn't like being uncovered. She doesn't like getting dressed, or getting out of bed, or getting breakfast. Asking a person to sit at a table and eat food prior to 7:15 is asking a lot.

Maddi runs to the pantry and usually requests rice krispies. Brooklynn sulks at the table and rejects the three options I give her before sighing heavily and selecting the first choice I already gave her, as if her life is about to end because her dad can't figure out what is the least objectionable food to start a day with. Keep in mind, least objectionable is a very fluid term - what was a hit one morning may be detested the next day. Peach kuchen bars had a solid two week run until she decided one morning that peaches weren't really good for breakfast anymore and could I just dig all those out?

Maddi finishes eating and runs around finding her SHOES and HAT and COAT and BACKPACK! Every morning is a new adventure full of things to learn. She can pick out her footwear. She can put on her own coat. What is this amazing beverage in my bottle today? Why, it's WATER! HOORAY LIFE!!

Brooklynn decides about the time we need to leave that her mostly untouched and inedible breakfast is now the finest dining experience and how can we be so cruel as to tear her away from such delicacies before she is allowed to finish eating? Life is not fair. If it's cold, we make her wear her winter coat, the bulky one that bunches up when she sits in the car. Travesty! If we relent and let her wear the less bulky (and less warm) one, she will decide about the time the garage door closes that she is freezing and where is her warm coat and why isn't the car toasty yet? Anguish and torment.

If our life were a sitcom with two teenagers, Maddi would be a cheerleader excited about the big game and Brooklynn would be a brooding renegade, wearing all black and muttering to herself about how the world doesn't understand her.

Then I start the soundtrack to the Frozen movie as we drive. Peace settles over the car, Brooklynn signs along and Maddi chimes in on the words that end the major phrases. Just a simple drive, day after day. Routine. Aside from being both exasperating and exhausting every single morning, it's kind of comforting.

Now, having committed all of this in writing, I'm guessing tomorrow morning will be drastically different.

they don't need us

One of the things that Rhiannon and I have always felt strongly about is reading the girls bedtime stories. When Brooklynn was really little, we read a couple books that were more for the parents than for the child, a half chapter at a time each night. As she got older, we transitioned into a couple books each night that you can read through in one sitting. I think she is finally old enough that we could start reading longer stories a little at a time again, kind of like breaking a movie up into small pieces. Maddi is also now old enough that she likes her picture books and enjoys to read the same book multiple times in one night or repeat the same story night after night so she can find the pictures and say the words that she knows.

Or, maybe neither of them need us anymore and they will take over their own story needs.

Evenying Reading Bedtime Story

(Let's just keep the fact that Maddi's book is upside between us, ok? All she's really concerned with is that she finds which flap opens to reveal a baby.)

trick or treat, twice the fun

Halloween 2013 This was our first year of having two kids holding out buckets for candy. While Brooklynn has been excited for trick-or-treating for months since she decided that she would be a princess, Maddi had no idea what was coming. We tried her costume on a couple weeks ago and she didn't like having the hood on her head. We figured that we would let her wear it a few times before hand to get used to it.

And then it was the morning of Halloween and we hadn't put it on her one time. The girls' school had a Halloween party, and I guess seeing the other kids in costume made it ok for Maddi to like hers, because we had no issues.

Brooklynn was also quite happy with her costume of a princess dress. The same dress she wore over the summer for her 4th birthday, except Halloween isn't in June. Brooklynn doesn't like to wear things like pants or sleeves with a dress because then she might be a real princess, and the idea of marring her perfect costume with everyday accouterments like a coat or sweater did not sit well with her. Unfortunately for her, the end of October in North Dakota isn't typically bare-arms weathter; hence, we ended up with the remnants of tears that you might notice in some photos.

Halloween 2013

Once we got going, both girls had a wonderful time. Brooklynn took care of the ringing of doorbells, typically remembering the trick-or-treat's and thank you's. The first couple houses we stopped at let the girls pick out candy from the bowls themselves, which confused Maddi for the rest of the evening. Instead of holding out her bucket, she would grab candy from everyone's hand and put it in the pail herself. Yes, she wants your candy, but no, you can't put your hand near her bucket. Thank you.

Halloween 2013

While Brooklynn didn't want to pose for pictures by herself, Maddi had no such issue. Unless of course, the posing may have prevented her from being up to a front door on time to get more candy.

anything you can do

Bubbles We have a monkey see, monkey see situation in our house. Anything that Maddi sees Brooklynn do, she would like to do as well.

Brooklynn goes downstairs, Maddi goes downstairs.

Brooklynn watches a little TV before bed, Maddi watches a little TV before bed.

Brooklynn hides in her closet, Maddi hides right along side her.

It's cute, it's fun, and someday, Brooklynn is going to have a melt down because she just wants to be left alone.

Pumpkin designing

Someday, but not today.

four years

We have a little know it all in our house. And if she doesn't know, she asks. And asks. And asks.

And even when she does know, she still asks, just to make sure Mom and Dad keep on top of things.

I guess when you are four and think you're a princess, that kind of behavior comes standard.

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Having parents that coordinate your birthday cake and party favors to match your outfit probably doesn't help in the 'sense of entitlement' department.

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Happy birthday, Brooklynn.

bird chasing

Brooklynn was standing by the front window looking out into our yard the other day, bouncing up and down on her toes, nose pressed to the glass. I was getting ready to tell her not to lean on the window so she didn't get it dirty when she turned, saw me, and almost yelled, "Dad, there's a robin in the grass, can I go chase him?" I had no sooner signified my approval when she was out the front door and into the grass. The robin flew away, Brooklynn patrolled the lawn for a moment, and she came back in to announce her triumph.

If this was a one-time occurrence, you might think it odd behavior. It's not. When we are on walks: "Dad, can we go get that Robin?"

"No Brooklynn, that's someone else's yard."

In a park: "Dad, can I chase that bird?"

"Sure." And off she zooms.

Me, seeing a particularly large robin near the back patio: "Brooklynn, do you want to chase that bird out there?"

She looks out, rolls her eyes at me, and sighs, "No Dad. That bird has a baby in her belly. You can't chase those ones." And she walks away as if the weight of constantly having to educate me on the ways of the world and bird chasing sits heavily on her shoulders.

oh no!

We have been reading the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty out of Brooklynn's princess story book for a week now and she has been requesting to see the movie. Tonight, it's raining and we can't go outside, so I figured it was a good as night as any to watch it. Oh no!

Even though she knew it was coming, Malificent's first appearance was still enough to warrant an extended eye-covering period.

let's all be nice

We were driving home with the kids in the back and Rhiannon and I discussed something work related. Rhiannon’s comment to me about some ideas we were kicking around was “at least put a bug in his ear about it”. I replied, “Yeah, maybe I’ll do that.”

And from the back seat, “Hey, you don’t put bugs in people’s ears. That’s not nice!”

So, we got to try and explain how that phrase just means to tell someone an idea and maybe they’ll think about it and do something in the future. No bugs involved. And after trying to approach that several ways, I thought we reached an understanding. No real bugs, no naughty behavior. Just a case of a misunderstood idiom. Rhiannon and I moved on with our conversation.

Apparently not all of us moved on because a few minutes later, from the back seat, a small voice muttered to herself, “I don’t like bugs and I will not put them in people’s ears for ideas.”

snow days

Rhiannon has yet to have a snow day teaching this year, and considering she has a week to go before state testing, she doesn't want one right now. However, that doesn't mean we haven't been waiting for a nice day with some snow on a weekend. This year in Denver, the snow has been pretty sparse, so getting a sunny day to get the kids out was too good to pass up.

This is Fun

On top of that, the snow was great for packing.

Snowman Building

Outside of the one mishap where the first attempt at a tall snowman fell over, it went pretty well.

Snowman Building

And just like so many other things right now, we are calling the snowman George.

Snowman Building

holiday concert

Back by popular demand, Brooklynn's holiday concert for this year[1. As always, head over to Vimeo for the full HD version.].

2012 Holiday Concert from Chris&Rhiannon on Vimeo.

When the girls stop dance and all look down for a little bit in the first song, that was because two of them realized they had the same shoes. Brooklynn would also like to point out that she fell down because she was just doing a little silly dancing and not because she's still a little clumsy.

patched up

On Friday evening, as I carried Brooklynn in to the house after getting home from daycare, she told me her tummy hurt. I asked her what about it hurt and she threw up on me. Twice[1. I can verify that she ate all her corn for lunch that day.].

We were a little bummed out because we had planned on going to a pumpkin patch and activity center on Saturday morning with her friend Mason. We had already rescheduled one weekend due to inclement weather a couple weeks ago so this was our last shot before Halloween.

Corn Box

Rhiannon found out that Mason had been sick the weekend before and threw up for three days, so we weren't exactly confident that it would be something she would get over quickly[2. It also explained why Rhiannon was feeling sick for a few nights last week.]. We agreed to push back until Sunday and see how things went.

On Eyeore

Brooklynn didn't throw up at all Friday night or Saturday. Yes, she only ate graham crackers and took a 5 hour nap Saturday afternoon, but we won't complain. Sunday morning, after 36 hours healthy, the pumpkin patch was a go. Between the big slide, wagon rides, pony rides, pyramids, and pumpkin picking, we had about as much activity as we dared put Brooklynn through.

Driver's Seat

She threw up her only food of the day (mini-Oreos) later that afternoon, but she's been fine since then. Kids and their ability to bounce back.

every four years

Rhiannon and I really look forward to the summer Olympics every four years, completely forgetting that the enjoyment of watching so many different sports will soon be followed by the fall presidential election season. Unlike four years ago, we have now have two kids that occupy much of our time[1. So we don't pay as much attention to politics, I guess.], and perhaps more importantly[3. I don't mean to imply that anything like this is more important overall than our kids. Rather, it was intended to be a comment that the new TV technology helps us tune out political messages more than children do. Or something like that.], we watch most[2. Anything that isn't live sports, basically.] of our TV via DVR-type technology, which means no commercials[4. Now if we could just get those political surveys and focus group telephone calls to stop].

We've already conceded the fact that our two votes will not make one bit of difference one way or the other in the county we live in, but we will still probably fill out our ballots and turn them in. Maybe I'll let Brooklynn help me with mine. She seems to have taken a recent interest in politics, especially last Saturday morning when we visited the nearby donut shop and saw these on the shelf.

The Race

Apparently, Lamar's Donuts is doing a little informal political polling of their own and they let all ages make their viewpoints known. Rhiannon and I chose to abstain from picking one or the other lest our extremist views unduly influence our young and impressionable wards.

Brooklynn had no such reservations, and when we told her the blue one was a donkey and the red one and elephant, the correct choice was quickly obvious[1. I should have said the blue one was something cool like a giraffe, just to make it more fair.].

Maybe I won't be having her help me with my ballot after all.

friendly hangout

We were outside last weekend checking out our neighbors new camper when Brooklynn and Dylan decided to take off. They headed to our house to play, and when I informed them it wasn't ok for little girls to go inside completely unsupervised for too long, they decided that the rock by our lawn was the next best place to hang out. Get Friendly

I imagine it will seem like the blink of an eye until I wish that they would like to stay at our house to play rather than taking off across the neighborhood.

l o v e

Someone had her hair all done like a princess last weekend to be a flower girl and absolutely loved every minute of it. Curls

And then someone's dad drove her and her sister the long way around town between the wedding and the reception, because no naps had been taken up to that point. Someone's dad is a pretty smart guy.

Congratulations to the happy couple and thanks for including our little girl in the festivities.

L O V E

early reader

Brooklynn can't read yet, but it doesn't stop her from trying to look like she's a little bit of a bookworm. Book-wormish

As far as we know, no, there is nothing wrong with her eyes yet. The glasses are a trial pair for her dad who also looks like a huge nerd when he wears them. Those will not be the pair that sticks around the house.

recent conversations

As much as I've been frustrated with Brooklynn on the issue of her sleeping habits as of late, we still manage to see the wonderful little girl in there from time to time. This weekend, we told her that Maddi was going to start going to school with her and we would all have to get up earlier in the mornings coming up soon.

"Why?"

"Well, Mom has to go back to work."

"Why?"

"It's time for her to go teach her students like your teachers help you learn things. Plus, we don't have enough money to keep sending you to school to play with your friends and Mom stay home at the same time."

"You can have some of my money. It's in my piggy bank. I can share it with you."

And last night, as I was pulling the comforter up to tuck her in, she asked about her 'blanket' that we no longer have around.

"This isn't a blanket, right?"

"Nope, it's a comforter."

"My blanket is in the sky, right?"[1. As much as it may sound like we told her that her blanket died, she came up with this completely on her own.]

"Ok."

"Mr. Sun has my blanket."

"You think so?"

"Yeah, Mr. Sun has it, but he doesn't have any arms to cover up. We have to help him!"

"How are we going to do that?"

"We can fly my kite up to him to help. My kite will help him cover up with the blanket."