Friday, July 8, 2011

Alex at 3.5 Years Old

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Because of Tot School posts, I often write about what Alex does.  It’s not too often, though, that my posts really talk about who Alex is.  It’s been bugging me, because it’s more important in the long run to write about WHO my son is rather than what he can do. This is a long-overdue post on my sweet boy.

This will definitely be a rambling post with only a small bit of organization.  I’m just writing thoughts as they come to mind.

Alex is such a sweet boy.  He’s bright, inquisitive, and helpful. He’s a chatterbox at home, he’s friendly with people he knows well, and he tends to be shy with everyone else.  He’s so full of joy, energy, and excitement.

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I see so much of Keith in Alex.  He’s logical, like his Daddy, and he likes to know how things work.  He loves music, and he enjoys when Daddy lets him have a try at the drums after church on Sunday morning.  (Daddy plays the drums during worship.)

Alex loves to listen to music, and he sings a few songs – although not usually in key! ;)  He loves to sing the ABC song, the chorus of Jesus Loves Me, and bit and pieces of many other church and praise songs.  I love to quietly listen when Alex doesn’t know I’m paying attention.  There’s nothing better for a Mama’s heart than hearing her 3 year old singing “Yes, Jesus Loves Me” while he plays with his cars.

Just last night, as I put the boys to bed, I was singing “Jesus Loves Me” to Max.  (Each boy gets a song with Mama at bedtime.)  From across the room, Alex quietly sang EVERY WORD with me.  I didn’t dare look up, for fear that he would stop.  Oh, how I loved that moment!

Alex likes to eat, and he’s not a picky eater, but he is quite the s-l-o-w-p-o-k-e.  Dinner often takes over an hour.  We give him small portions, and he knows that he must finish everything on his plate.  Even if he loves the food, he still chit-chats, stares out the window, looks around the room, and finds one million ways to forget that he is supposed to be eating.

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His favorite breakfasts are pancakes, waffles, or Frosted Mini Wheats.  (The last is because they currently have Lightning McQueen on the cereal box!)  His favorite lunches are jelly bread or chicken nuggets.  His favorite dinners are glazed meatballs or orange chicken.

He loves fruit, enjoys many fresh veggies, and loves to drink milk all day long.  He is allowed 6 ounces of juice each day, and then he gets water or milk.  Once in a while, we give him lemonade as a special treat.

Alex loves fruit snacks right now.  I prefer to give him Stretch Island fruit leather, and he really likes that.  He prefers fruit snacks, though, because they are shaped like his favorite characters – Lightning McQueen, John Deere, Curious George, etc.

He also loves to snack on crackers of all kind, fruit, M&Ms, and any candy he’s allowed to eat...which isn’t much.  He loves Pez, which is a special treat.  He loves ice cream and chocolate shakes.  He definitely has his mama and daddy’s love for chocolate!

Like I said, this little boy is a chatterbox!  I love that he’s such a good talker, but there are definitely moments when I just want him to stop talking! ;)

He loves words, and he uses some surprisingly big words.  Alex picks up on everything he hears from the people around him, from books, or from TV. He just soaks up all the words and then uses them properly in casual conversation. As an example, he looked over at Max one night during dinner and said, “Max is DEVOURING his chicken!” 

Alex asks questions constantly.  I suppose it’s the best way to learn about the world around him, but sometimes I long for peace.  He takes in all the information we share with him, and uses it in his play and in his conversations.

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Alex is a really good little boy.  He is an excellent helper, and he’s usually quick to obey. 

He’s also 3.

Being 3 definitely comes with a little attitude and sass.  He gets angry when we interrupt his play and ask him do something like put away his toys, get dressed, or get ready to go.  He has a hard time sharing with Max, often grabbing toys away from his little brother. He yells at Max and even spanks his brother’s hand on occasion.  We’re working so hard to encourage him to treat his brother with kindness.

There are times when Alex, like everyone, gets grouchy.  He needs a few minutes to pout.  He gets angry once in a while, and he needs a little time to settle.  Most of the time, when he’s had a chance to calm down, you can reason with the boy.

Alex gets the occasional spanking, but usually a warning or a time-out will suffice. 

Although we don’t have a chore chart (or any other set-in-stone chores), we do ask Alex to help around the house.  He often sets the table before dinner.  He throws things in the trash.  He brings clothes to the hamper.  He must clean up all the trains and cars on his bedroom floor before naptime and bedtime.

I need to think about establishing some daily chores that he must do.  He understands what “responsible” means, but soon we’ll have to start giving him some real responsibilities…definitely by the time he turns 4!

Alex is 100% potty trained, both day and night.  He sleeps with a pull-up, but it’s been months since he has had an accident during the night.  We still do it just to protect his mattress in case of an accident.

Alex gets up in the night if needed, takes himself to the bathroom, and puts himself back to bed.  All Keith and I hear is the click of Alex’s bedroom door when he returns to his room.

One night last week, we woke to a big thud.  A crying Alex came running into our bedroom.  I guess he climbed up on the bathroom stool to turn on the nightlight, his foot slipped, and he banged his head on the counter.  He was fine, but the poor little guy was awfully startled. 

Every once in a while, he gets too busy and doesn’t make it to the potty in time.  It’s a very rare accident these days, though. We’re so proud of Alex for his independence in this area!

In the past month or two, Alex has developed a strong desire to be around other kids.  He begs to play with neighbor kids.  He wakes up in the morning asking if he can have a friend come over to play.  When we take him places, he seeks out other children. 

He longingly stares out the window at the “big kids” (6 – 9 year olds) riding their bikes through the neighborhood.  Alex LOVES when I let him join the neighbor kids in the street.  He gets on his tricycle, and he puts his all into pedaling around while the big kids ride their 2-wheelers.  They are so patient with him, making sure that Alex feels included!

One little girl, Judith, is always asking to come over and play.  She’s 8, and she really doesn’t have anything in common with our little boys, but loves to play with them.  Until recently, Alex called her “Judas”.  He’s finally figured out her name, but it sure made me smile when he called her that. (That’s Judith in the picture below…)

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He loves going to Wee Worship at church.  There’s no fear, just excitement.  He’ll be attending VBS next week, and he’s so excited.  We listen to the CD of VBS songs over and over again.  His VBS t-shirt is sitting on a chair in the living room, and he asks  to wear it every day.  He can’t wait to wear it and go to VBS!

Alex’s Day
Alex is almost always up at 7 AM.  If he wakes before that, he knows that he must stay in his room until the clock says 7.  If Max is awake, the two boys will chat and play.  If Max is asleep, Alex will usually wait quietly.   (Once in a while, he’s a stinker and he wakes Max.)

It’s pretty routine around here: wake up, hang out with Mommy and snuggle for a bit, go to the table for breakfast (and usually watch Curious George or Caillou while eating), then get dressed.  I pick his clothes, but Alex can entirely dress himself.

The morning is spent playing with Thomas trains or Cars toys.  Sometimes he kindly includes Max; other times, he selfishly yanks the toys out of Max’s hand and tries to play alone.  His imagination with his trains and cars is so incredible.  I love to stand back and watch him play!

After a while, he’ll crave some attention, so Mommy will play trains or cars with him.  We’ll sit and play on Daddy’s iPod for a few minutes.  We’ll have a snack.  We’ll go outside and play.  We’ll run to the grocery store or CVS.  Sometimes, he’ll ask Max to go upstairs and play for a bit in our playroom. 

Alex still naps.  He can go without, but he gets pretty cranky before bedtime.  Both boys go down for a nap at around 2 PM.  They know that they must stay in bed until 4 PM.  Alex sometimes sings to himself or plays quietly until he falls asleep, but he knows that it’s his quiet time and he almost always falls asleep.

After nap, the boys will often have a small snack.  I’ll get started on making dinner.  Sometimes, Alex helps me.  Other times, he sits on the kitchen stools and plays with his cars. 

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Daddy gets home a little after 5 PM.  We eat dinner around 6 PM.  Daddy wrestles, chases, and has fun with the boys.  (Alex ADORES this time!)  Bath is at 7:30 PM, bedtime is 8 PM.

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Once Alex is dried off, he brushes his teeth and gets his pajamas on all by himself.  Mommy or Daddy help him finish brushing his teeth, of course, but Alex is so proud of doing these things independently.

We read a story, pray together, and Alex still requests that I sing him a song most nights.  I tuck him in, make sure he has a “booger cloth” (flannel and velour cloth wipe – which he prefers to a Kleenex) and a pair of socks.  He must have his pillow and his puppy.

Alex has started to realize that Mommy & Daddy have a life after he goes to bed.  He knows that Daddy turns on the TV when the boys are in the bathtub.  Now, Alex usually goes in the living room to brush his teeth and see what Daddy is watching.  (Usually it’s something like “Minute To Win It” or “America’s Got Talent”.)  He stalls a bit, hoping to see a little more of what’s on TV.  He comes out of his bedroom after 5 minutes, saying “I’m having a wittle twubble sleeping, Daddy”.  (He’s promptly returned to bed and told to try a little harder.)

From day 1, Alex hasn’t been the world’s greatest sleeper.  He’s so obedient that he lays there, but I don’t think he falls asleep easily.  I imagine that he’s often awake for at least an hour after we put him to bed.  Sometimes he kicks the wall, other times he talks quietly to himself.  Once in a while, I find some toys on the floor or on his bed if I peek in on them.  (I’m not one to peek often – once they’re asleep, I usually       leave them be unless I have reason to be concerned.) 

More and more often, Alex is trying to do things independently.  He gets dressed without help.  He turns on the bathtub and fills it at bathtime (with supervision).  He gets the milk or juice from the fridge when he wants his cup filled.

This morning, he got the donuts (special treat) and climbed up on a stool to get his own plate from the cabinet. 

He opens the car door on his own.  He can almost buckle his own carseat.  He can completely do the chest clip and he can do half of the bottom buckle.

He will take a screwdriver, open something, and get it ready for us to put the new batteries in.

In so many ways, we’ve seen him becoming independent in the past few months.  It’s so helpful, but so sad to think our little guy can do so many things without our help these days.

Alex is a little afraid of the dark.  Once in a while, Max will mess with the nightlight in their bedroom.  Alex screams until we fix it.

He’s also afraid of hand dryers in public bathrooms.  I’ve learned not to use them when Alex is with me.  My poor niece, Emma, didn’t know this when she took Alex to the bathroom at Dairy Queen a few weeks ago.  Alex came back to the table with tears streaming down his face because Emma had made him dry his hands and he was terrified.  He’s fine with fans, blenders, hair dryers, etc…but for some reason, he just can’t handle the hand dryers.

He’s afraid of flies when he’s in bed.  He doesn’t mind them during the day; in fact, he’ll go get the fly swatter and kill them all by himself.  When he’s in bed, though, he’ll sob and scream if he hears a fly in the room.  Go figure.

Right now, Alex is adoring Lightning McQueen and all his Cars friends.  We haven’t been to see the new movie yet, but we’ve promised Alex it will be his first theater movie.  He’s very excited!

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We had a hard time finding the Cars matchbox-sized toys.  Aunt Deb gave him Lightning McQueen for his birthday, and I found Mater on eBay for $6.  We found a Mack on clearance at Meijer. The other toys from the first movie were harder to come by.  I found Guido & Luigi at Meijer with the new movie toys.  Alex begged for Sally for months before we were blessed by some toys from unexpected places.

First, the pediatrician was asking Alex if he’s seen the new Cars 2 movie yet.  In that conversation, she found out that there were some Cars toys that Alex wanted.  Dr. Brewer said that her boys have duplicates, and she went home that night to find them.  I got an e-mail the next morning letting me know that we could pick up Doc, Sally, Ramone, and Chick Hicks at the office.  Wow!

Next, a friend from church stopped by with some extra toys from her home daycare.  She only has girls right now, so she wanted to clear out some of her boy toys.  In the bag was an extra Mack truck and Mater!  Even though we already had one of each, Alex & Max both love having an extra.  This has prevented many arguments in our house! :)

The most recent additions are from cousin Kyle’s friend Kevin.  He’s outgrown his Cars toys, and when he heard that Alex loves Cars toys, he gave Kyle a whole bag FULL of cars.  Alex left many at Kevin & Annie’s house, but we now have The King and several other cars in the collection at our house.  That was SO sweet of Kevin!

Alex’s other favorite is Thomas trains.  He loves to watch the Thomas movies, and he spends at least an hour every day playing with his trains and tracks.  He has such an imagination when playing!  Alex usually invites Max to come with him.  (“Max, do you want to play trains with me?”) Alex gets annoyed when Max messes up the track, but he does a decent job of including his little brother.

Alex’s trains (and cars…) talk to each other, toot their horns or whistles, and have little adventures.  Thomas gets caught in a storm.  Mater goes to CVS.  Percy goes to the zoo.  Harold the Helicopter takes people from Sodor Island to McDonald’s.  I love how Alex mixes in his own reality with the things he sees in his Cars and Thomas movies!

Other than that, Alex will randomly play with other toys.  He likes to play Hi-Ho-Cherry-O (or “Apple Cheerios”, as he called it last week…) and the memory game.  He loves to ride his tricycle, read books, play with playdoh…

Alex’s tricycle is a big hit right now.  He loves to ride it in circles in the driveway – around and around and around.  He’d like a ‘big boy bike’, but we decided to wait until he turns 4.  (Max is itching to take over the tricycle, anyway, so the timing will be good.)  The stinky thing about a winter birthday is that you can’t really use your fun outdoor gifts until the weather warms up!

It’s no secret that Max is our truly mischievous child at this point.  Alex isn’t faultless, though.  He likes to sneak candy, he leaves my bedroom while I’m showering (he knows that he MUST stay in there to play so I can hear him), and now that he can open the door from the laundry room to the garage, he’s snuck out a few times to ride his tricycle.  It’s always when Daddy is outside or when he knows I’m getting ready to go outside.  But one time, he thought Daddy was outside (when really, Daddy was in the house) and Alex was outside all alone riding his tricycle around the driveway.  We’re working on Alex TELLING SOMEONE what he’s doing and waiting patiently until Mommy or Daddy can come outside with him.

Big Brother

Yes, Alex can be mean to his brother.  He’d like to boss Max all day long if he could.  We definitely have to encourage kindness, break up arguments, and remind him how to share.  At the same time, they play nicely together.  Alex teaches Max, encourages Max, and wants to be with his little brother.

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Alex loves baby Jensyn, wanting to go in her room as soon as she’s awake.  He loves to hold her, kiss her, replace her paci if it falls out.  He loves when I put bows in Jensyn’s hair.  He is so sweet with his baby sister!

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We love this little boy so much.  Every day brings new joys and new challenges, but we adore watching him grow and mature. 

Alex, we love you more than you’ll ever know!  Keep on singing God’s praises every day, and keep on being YOU! 

Love ya, Little Man!


Ewa said...

This is a great post.
It's so nice to meet this lovely little boy closer.
Alex you are such a nice individual ;-)))
Hugs from Poland

Anonymous said...

what a wonderful post and a sweet way of remembering your boy at 3.5! I need to do a better job of writing this stuff down!

Elise said...

So many special details about Alex. You'll be able to look back on this with him in years to come and recall precious times.

Annie S said...

What an amazing record of an amazing little boy! One thought - children often sing out of tune because they are trying to sing too low, more like adults. If adults sing in a higher voice (think Mickey Mouse or Snow White) then the child does too and suddenly sings beautifully in tune.