May 2, 2008

(click on a picture to start slide show)

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by Christy

What a couple of months it has been since we last updated this site! Anders turned 3 years old, and celebrated many big boy milestones. I am growing larger by the day, Ted calls me barnehus (baby-house or child-house in Norwegian). This is week 33, and the 3rd trimester is in full swing. Bending down has definitely become a problem, but my body is handling it all pretty well. I am also surviving the economics curriculum and my students seem to be surviving my Environmental Law class this term. Ted has been garnering applause after his lectures, a feat unheard of in many academic quarters. He is teaching a class on hybrid electric and other alternative vehicles this quarter and keeping 1 step ahead of the students.

The pictures show many of Anders' 3-year-old accomplishments, the chief of which is riding his own bike without training wheels! He spent about 2 weeks riding with the training wheels, but starting asking Ted to take them off because he knew that we don't have them, and our 11 year-old neighbor boy, Randall, does not have them either. (Ted and Anders spend lots of outside time playing with Randall and his sister Mary, who is 6. They are both very kind to Anders.) Anders spent some time practicing without the training wheels, with Ted's help, and Ted raised them up to their highest setting when he did use them. Watching Anders ride with the training wheels on, but not always touching the ground, was pretty neat. You could tell that he was trying to balance without letting them touch. He is very clever that way--he definitely has an ability to fine-tune his physical performance on a task. He has very good balance and grace.

Then just a couple of days ago, he would go for longer stretches without the training wheels before falling over, then suddenly he could ride around the whole cul-de-sac! Now he can get himself going without our help too, and he is starting to stop himself without falling. Even when he falls though, he rarely gets hurt (or thinks he is hurt). He laughs.

I've also been impressed with his ability to appreciate the dangers of riding in the street, which is what we do on the cul-de-sac. I was standing in the street watching him ride the other day when a UPS truck pulled in. He immediately rode to the curb and sat down, and I joined him on the curb to wait until the truck was gone. Ted said he did the same thing tonight when a car turned in. We don't let him ride near the entrance to the cul-de-sac, so we always have a little warning before a car is too close. He is also very attentive about stopping at corners and not crossing until we catch up to him (now that we walk slower than he rides!) I'm very impressed with him.

As you will also see on the videos, Anders has taken to writing and performing songs. It's pretty cool, and loud, but keeps him very happy. He usually calls me in to take videos of his songs now, so we can play them back right away.

We had a very good conference with his teacher, Stephanie, last week. She thinks Anders is great kid to have in the classroom. When I talk to him about school, I noticed that he considers himself one of the "big" kids, even though he is really one of the youngest (but not the newest anymore). She said he is very nice about helping the newer kids with tasks or showing them different things to do in the classroom. She also said that he has really made himself at home there, and can go from one task to another as he pleases. He has had lessons on cutting bananas and apples for snacks (they have special tools) and juicing oranges. The kids that help prepare snack also clean up and do their dishes. How lovely, but I see little signs of these wonderful tasks at home, although he is wanting to help out more and more around the kitchen. As at home, he also likes to spend time in their classroom garden, hanging out with other kids, playing the instruments outside, collecting leaves, or whatever. His teacher says that he is very intuitive about other kids' needs. She said he is one of very few little ones that will play the bells gently and with both mallets, rather than just banging on them (I guess his drums at home get the banging out of him). She thought he was responding to the fact that other people are working in the classroom too and he doesn't want to disturb anyone, along with really being interested in playing the bells. He also loves "movement," which is just the time when the kids get to go to a bigger room or to the playground to play. The movement teacher is one of his favorites. He is at school for 2 full days a week and 3 half days right now, and seems to be very happy. The afternoon teacher always tells me that he is really at home and has found his place there.

One thing we noticed a lot, especially after talking with his teacher, is how much he is interested in procedures and manipulating or operating some piece of equipment. He mastered the keyboard ages ago, and knew which buttons turned it on and off, which one turns the demo song on (the soundtrack to our lives sometimes), how to turn it down, how to change the voice, and now how to change the tempo too. He now likes to operate the microwave to help us heat up leftovers, and knows the correct order to push the buttons. He somehow figured out how to make my old cellphone from Norway take pictures, although occasionally he needs help getting it back in "camera mood" as he calls it. He always wants to "click on something" now when we have the computer out too. But, more amazing to me, I downloaded some pictures that we got via email and needed to rotate them to look at them properly. I said casually, "I have to rotate these," went to the menu, opened it, chose the rotate command, and it was done. I had to do 2 pictures. After he played with zooming in and out on the pictures for awhile by moving the mouse and clicking, he said, "I want to rotate this" and went to the right menu! He didn't get the right command, but I was amazed at how he took in that little procedure after only seeing me do it twice quickly with no explanation. Amazing little mind.

Anders has all kinds of cute 3 year old ways of saying things lately too, like "mines" (hey, it's his, or hers, or ours, why not mines?) I noticed lots of use of the regular past tense for irregular verbs too, like "fighted" instead of "fought," "drived" instead of "drove." It's astounding how they absorb the rule so effortlessly and apply it, and later have to learn the exceptions to the rule.

Luckily, I noticed in the paper yesterday that the high school jazz choir and band would be playing last night. We went for most of the concert and Anders was so great (we only went for his sake, after all!) He was enthalled for the whole thing, and even when he started getting obviously sleepy and moved to Ted's lap, he still insisited on staying to watch more. We did leave a little early to get to bed at a decent time, but he didn't protest too much and we were all really happy we went. It is always so satisfying when he really seems to appreciate a special experience.

He is a pretty neat little guy. He thinks that he will have a baby sister, because he is a boy so we must need a girl next. We'll see if he is right. Once in a while he still asks if I have a baby in my tummy, and wonders how it will get out. We do a brief and simple but true explanation, although he did ask the other day how I would get a hole in my tummy. I hope I don't get a hole in my tummy, but it happens that way sometimes! He was pretty smart to make that mental leap though.

We just had his 3-year check up, he is 39 pounds and 39 3/4 inches, 95th percentile for each. All-around healthy boy. He had to get 1 shot and I could tell that he really didn't remember what that meant. It was hard to watch him change from so trusting and docile to so hurt when the shot went in. He said "she hurt me!" Although reading the rest of a book and going to get a milkshake didn't help with the pain at the time, he declared that it helped anyway. We shouldn't have to have another shot until next year.

Of course, he presents us with plenty of challenges too. We can have a pretty long evening if he doesn't take a nap during the day, which he is doing more regularly. He goes to bed early, but he also goes to pieces over any little thing. There are days when not getting his way is simply the end of his little world. He's got pretty big emotions, but is learning how to handle them. He gets plenty of chances to be independent and lots of ways to get his energy out now that the weather is getting nicer, so that should help regulate mood a little better, I hope.

We've posted some of Anders' recent videos on YouTube:

Coffee on the Stairs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JJ1DR7YE7Xg&feature=user

Punk Ducks: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtcR9IOzvGc&feature=user

Look ma, no training wheels!: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CoyEqm-OS0&feature=user

Crashing for fun: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEWwNDuX9PI&feature=user

Spring Training: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ErywS1N9SGI&feature=user

Jazz Man: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4KctPQXez4&feature=user

If you want to go to one webpage to see all of the videos instead of opening them individually from here, go to: http://www.youtube.com/user/anderekkens