Very much oftenly

Before bed tonight… “Mom why I don’t get to sleep with you very much oftenly. I wish I was Daddy” – Elliott

So sweet even after many nights of waking us up with night terrors or climbing up my back when I did let him (Jordan was gone for a week). May he always want to spend that much time with me!!!!

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Green Bay

We went to Green Bay for Christmas. Some of the highlights below:
Blue Moon once cream as requested by Elliott and only available in the Midwest

4 generations of girls

Some reading time with Uncle Mike (and expectant father!)

Cuddle time at the Children’s Museum with our amazing cousins. (Kids are ages, from left to right: 1, 6, 5, 3.5, 2.5)

Can crushing with Grandpa

A very merry Christmas indeed!

(And super excitedly, I was able to upload these pictures from my phone – yay!  This feature was missing on wordpress for the past 2 years or so and I’m thrilled its back!)

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6 years of Natalie – with a reflection on the year leading up to #6!

I am Loving these photos – she just seems so much older this past year!  (Okay, 0 to 1 was a big jump too!)

Newborn - everyone's favorite Christmas present in 2010!

Newborn – everyone’s favorite Christmas present in 2010!

Yummy! 1st time cupcake eater!

Yummy! 1st time cupcake eater!

Why is the cupcake so small for age 2?

Why is the cupcake so small for age 2?

I'll take 3 for my 3rd, please!

I’ll take 3 for my 3rd, please!

4 is better than every before - celebrating with a pool vaca in FL!

4 is better than every before – celebrating with a pool vaca in FL!

Now I'm 5 - time for my pre-bday pedi!

Now I’m 5 – time for my pre-bday pedi!

I'm S-I-X!

I’m S-I-X!

Happy 6th Birthday, Natalie!

Height / Weight: For some reason, I’m thinking 48 inches and 48 lbs. so I must be wrong with one of those.  She might only weight 44 lbs.

Personality

Even just thinking about how to describe Natalie makes me smile.  She is joyful and fun.  She is strong-willed.  She is an independent thinker and wants her ideas to be heard, yet does a really good job incorporating others’ into her play. She wants to “do well” and she tries hard.  (That is where she is probably most like me.)  She is very silly and loves bathroom humor (that is where she is most like her Dad…. Although there are many other finer qualities she has taken from him as well.)

Key Milestones

  • Writing all letters – still prefers capital but is definitely writing more lower case letters
  • Sounds out words when writing
  • Very beginning reading – sounding out words
  • Writing and knowing numbers – still working on the “teens” but has made significant progress
  • In the summer, she was building some confidence in swimming and would dog paddle.
  • Super far away from riding a bike

Natalie’s Favorite Activities

Natalie likes ballet a lot.  (She hasn’t been interested in trying a sport with a ball.)  Especially when she needs some downtown, she likes to play independently with set-ups, dolls, shopkins, in her bedroom.  She will sometimes go along with Elliott’s wishes and play things like superheros, forts, etc.  She enjoys imaginative play like babies and “hot lava” too.  She also loves “wrestling” with her dad and dancing to “Under the Sea”.  (Even that has changed a lot over this year – Natalie as Ariel used to “run” away from Daddy Triton to the shore and taunt him, whereas now she just does her own graceful moves without paying much attention to anyone else.)   She likes to play games, especially Uno.  I have definitely learned a lot of “sneaky” strategies from her (like holding onto the Draw 4 closer to the end of the game, especially when your opponents calls “Uno”).  She likes to go to the library or bookstore, read books, BounceTown, Children’s Museum, and play dates.  She likes to write, do crafts and loves to draw.  Her drawing skills have really developed – and surpassed my stick figures.  She’s more into Barbies and that size of dolls vs. other dolls.  She likes dressing those dolls and her American Girls dolls too.  You should also see her set a table.  She has beautiful design and is very diligent.  She also likes fashions.

Natalie’s Favorite Books

Natalie really enjoys listening to chapter books like Missy’s Super Royal Deluxe series and Magic Treehouse Series.  She still likes more traditional pictures books like Elephant and Piggy (by Mo Willems) and Fancy Nancy.

My Favorite Activity with Natalie

I love some of the “structure” of playing with Natalie vs. the totally open play.  I love playing games like Uno or Trouble or Sneaky Squirrel with her.  I love reading stories with her – we definitely have similar interests in books (I’m excited for her to get old enough to read things like Matilda).  And I love going on “dates” with her!  She’s too fun to be with to just choose one activity.

Favorite Memory

Hiking with Natalie is a lot of fun.  I especially liked hiking with her in Maine; she was climbing on rocks and continued wanting to explore further.

 

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Birthday Celebration

Monday, December 19th was Natalie’s 6th birthday!  The celebration weekend kicked off with a party at BounceTown with about 17 school friends and neighbors.  I don’t have the best pictures on my phone, but here is one of Natalie being silly with her friend Sophie… and Elliott was quick to join in.  The next is a little neighbor girl who just turned 3 and was following Elliott around for half of the party (to his dismay).  She is such a cutie though – he would regret that decision if he was 10 years older!

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On Saturday, our house was practically freezing – the heat went out (for the 2nd time in two weeks) so it was down to 52 degrees.  Elliott, Natalie and I huddled in her bedroom with the space heater and many layers of clothes while opening her presents from the night before.  We also had a “big” snowstorm that morning so the streets weren’t plowed and the library closed, so it was hard to find an interesting place to get out of the house.  We ended up at the town toy store!  (Not what we needed after this loot!)

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On Sunday, Natalie and I joined friends for a shortened performance of the Nutcracker at a historic house in Holyoke.  The dancers were primarily children.  I thought Natalie would want to be part of it in the future but she was content to watch.  Her own ballet is really progressing though and she tries so hard.

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Then, on Monday, Jordan and I were the “Royal Readers” in Natalie’s classroom.  Natalie and a classmate greeted us outside the classroom and we walked into a royal line-up of kindergarteners bowing to us.  Then, we each shared a favorite memory of Natalie when she was little.  Jordan’s centered around her chubbiness and how she was so chubby that people would either chuckle or ask to squeeze her 5 fat rolls when we were walking around town.  I shared memories of Natalie being super social from the start – we used to call her a church flirt as she would make friends everywhere and anywhere.  She even was planning playdates before she could really talk.  Then we read a Pippi Longstocking book, had cookies and accompanied Natalie to the office for a sparkly purple birthday pencil.

The Monday night celebration included awesome decorations (courtesy of Alison, Elliott and Natalie) and pizza (Natalie’s choice) with salad (parents’ choice) with our good friend Daniele too!

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Here the kids the morning of Natalie’s birthday – could you ask for a cuter winter bundle!?!

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American Girl Cafe – 3rd Annual Birthday Tradition

Nana began a birthday tradition for Natalie when she turned 4 and got her first American Girl doll (from Nana and Pop): Birthday lunch at the American Girl Cafe.  We had our biggest group yet this year – the (young) boys and Grandma joined.  It was great to have them, but I have to admit… previous years were a bit more relaxing.  After 5 minutes in the American Girl store, Elliott said “I not really enjoying the American Girl doll store,” and he and I headed next door to the Lego store.

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Chi-town is Elliott’s kinda town

Elliott got to hit up all of his favorites in Chicago….

1. Trains!  Brown line to red line to blue line.  Yes, he talked me into 3 train lines b/c he is 3 years old and blue is his favorite color (and the furthest from Nana’s and Pop’s house)

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2.  Firefighters!  We stopped by his fav station on Halsted.

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3.  Rockets! (A first time, but its still pretty awesome.)

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4.  Gorillas and Zoolights

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5.  Not but definitely not least – Family!

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Conferences

Elliott and Natalie had parent-teacher conferences in late October.  Natalie even did a self-assessment leading up to her student-led conference.  She responded “yes” to important statements like “When something is hard, I keep trying” and “My work shows my very best effort”.  And even the one statement or so that she wrote “No” to, “I use some lower case letters,” she has already improved on since the conference!

I am super proud of how hard Natalie is trying in school.  She knows nearly all of her lower case letters, is working on phonetic spelling, is sounding out words, is negotiating friendships, etc.  Here are some of her work samples.

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Elliott’s conference with Ms. Krista was very positive too.  He is adjusting well to Natalie not being at his school.  He is making some new friends, though he still counts Natalie’s friends from last year as his too.  (And Natalie tells me that some of them really look out for him.)  One time, I visited class and saw him using wood pieces (e.g. straight lines, curved lines) to make letters (based on an outline).  He told me today that his favorite class is recess.  Natalie told me that her favorite class is reading.

My notebook with more specifics is at home and I’m typing this from Chicago, so hopefully I will add some more later.

Update – Notes from Elliott’s Conference

  • Using handwriting without tears (same as Natalie) – working on b and p right now
  • Learning lots of new vocab – like peninsula
  • Working on sorting into categories, like animals by land, air and water
  • Counting rods, counting with numerals
  • Follows routines well
  • To encourage independence, say “I bet you can do that yourself”

Update – Notes from Natalie’s Conference

  • Gentle
  • Tries hard
  • Knows what she wants to say in her head and can execute
  • Does a great job of including everyone
  • Independent with projects
  • Knew 19 sounds
  • Still tripped up naming and knowing what the teen numbers look like, so we could do a running game outside (run to # 19, which would be chalked on the driveway), write all #s to 20, put them in order (ascending and descending)
  • Goal for reading is to get to Level D (note: her thanksgiving independent reading books were level C)
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90 years old in 90-degree FL

We visited Florida for Pappaw’s 90th birthday.  Kathy and Bill hosted a lovely party at their home, with guests from 3 years old to 90 years old.  Here’s a sampling of photos I took from Jordan’s phone…

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We didn't want to forget about Mammaw's birthday, which is coming up later this month! Natalie picked out a blue jay since Mammaw loves birds.

We didn’t want to forget about Mammaw’s birthday, which is coming up later this month! Natalie picked out a blue jay since Mammaw loves birds.

 

Cousin Jacob... your pseudo-monster truck is AMAZING. And what?!? You are going to be a fire fighter too! You are the

Cousin Jacob… your pseudo-monster truck is AMAZING. And what?!? You are going to be a fire fighter too! You are the coolest guy we know.

 

Pics of us - so you can see us even when we're not here!

Pics of us – so you can see us even when we’re not here!

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Homework

Natalie’s school had a 5-day weekend (thanks to Columbus Day, a teacher development day and a Jewish holiday), so her teacher sent homework.  We are in Florida for Pappaw’s 90th birthday, so I needed to bring it with us.  She was very diligent in working on it – the first prompt: “My favorite place at school is…. ”

After staring at the paper which only had a 4×6 drawing area and uncertain what part of the kitchen she would draw, I told her we could do a full size picture if she prefers.  She preferred:

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The place is the kitchen because the dog house is there.  You will see her friend on the far right, Eliza, in the dog house and I was told Eliza often wears a dress with dogs on it.  Natalie also drew one of her best friends, Eve, in the picture, even though Eve prefers to play at the sand table.  The green thing is the old fashioned phone.

I asked Elliott if he wanted to do some homework too.  I explained it was important to write his name and draw his favorite thing at preschool.  He was done by the time Natalie even realized we could get a bigger piece of paper.  His favorite room is the art room.

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Here are some cute recent pictures.  I walked into this impromptu cuddle the other day…

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I met Elliott and Alison for lunch one day…. can you get a more honorable and adorable lunch date?

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I was able to pick up Natalie from school one day too – I couldn’t be more excited to see this adorable kindergartener.  (She wouldn’t let me take it right outside of school but kindly let me down the hill.)

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Summer video with friends

Last July, we visited our friends Jon and Kristen who live just outside of Boston.  We met them while we were in business school at Kellogg, and they are some of the kindest, funniest, and most fun people you’ll meet.  And there three kids are the same.

Elliott and Natalie had a blast when we went out this summer to stay with them for a night, and hopefully, we’ll do it again next summer.  I made this little video to commemorate the weekend.

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