Wednesday, August 04, 2010

The Puzzle Master and The Foodie

I wish I were writing more... I miss it.
We have been planning for a big party this weekend, trying to fix up the house, trying to organize and plan.

My sister: Sometimes I think you only plan parties so that you have deadlines for your projects...
Me: That is absolutely the reason we plan parties.

We are excited to see friends and family. These children and this year of getting acclimated have affected our social life. So I have been staying up late and trying not to fall asleep on the way home from work.

Softball ended Monday night. It was a terrible game. We were shutout and lost via the "mercy rule." It was a fast game, and there's nothing to make you hate the mercy rule like a game that is over in 51 minutes, I mean come on!!! There should be an associated time component: you can only get mercied after the 5th inning if you've been playing for more than 90 minutes.

Anyway, it was a weird season for all the rain-outs we had and it was much hotter than usual, and this was Katy's and my first season trying to both play with 2 kids. Our team aunties and Nana and Papa and Grandma Bella helped us to accomplish this and our boys (and their moms) are better for all the nights they (we) were breathing in hot air at the field for 2-4 hours during the week.

It was like the team we had 15 years ago- nearly all of our fans under the age of 7. Our team composition has changed a little every year. The cooler caddies are turning into meals (you've got to feed these kids). The 2 teams that merged (was it 3 seasons ago now or 2?) have definitely jelled into one team.

Katy and I continue to look at this ever-evolving group and marvel that many of our best, most genuine, reliable, generous, supportive, laughter-filled, friendships were born of this low-pressure women's league softball team in the town of Midpoint. These people have helped to raise me, allowed me to help raise them, their kids, and are helping me to raise my kids. This is nothing less than a network of support and crazy sanity.

Regardless of the final score, we break bread (read: chips and dip and some times BBQ or take out) and sip beers (and juice boxes). And recount a strategy to do better or at least have more fun next time. Every year game I try not to pull muscles. At least once a night, a warm breeze washes over sweaty skin and one of us chants, "a day at the beach". Or this season, "NO REWARD".

At the end of the season, I always worry a little, "What will next year bring?" I only hope more of the same unexpected, simple, fun and a sense of "found time" outdoors with peeps.

I will do a photo update and newletters for each of the boys soon (I SWEAR!!!)
For now, briefly:

SeƱor Destruction (as we've taken to calling our younger son) is finally... getting some bits of food down the back of his throat. He's been "eating" and "feeding himself" for a while now- about 4-6 weeks, I think: bits of cheese, avocado, crusts, pasta, apples, mango, many fruits other than strawberries... ML long ago (2 weeks) rejected tiny bits of food for larger slices and chunks he can gnaw on, but he is like the cookie monster: The stuff goes in, he spends a good deal of time chewing it, and it falls or is spit out in tiny pieces.

We can recycle perfect piles of food from his bib and put them on the tray in front of him and he will continue until we are left with diced produce. It is very interesting and not like JB progressed in his eating at all.

ML looks like he is eating, but if you train your eye on him, eventually, the stuff comes out. Chew, chew, chew, chew, chew, spit out. He's still on formula and baby food, so we are not worried about his calories, it is just a funny little trait of his. This week that may be turning around. I think a few pieces are actually making it to his esophagus and stomach.

ML also is insistent about walking everywhere. He wants to walk non-stop while holding ONE FINGER. He does this thing where he is holding an adult's finger with one hand and he takes his other hand and grabs you to steady your hand so that he may either adjust his grip on the finger he is holding, or select a new, sturdier finger to cling to. It is a strange demonstration of genius and my father said, "It pretty much freaked me out how smart he is- that seemed like too high a level of reasoning for a kid so young."

JB is blowing our minds too with his sudden capacity to put puzzles together. Katy and I don't know why this is so impressive to us, but a few months ago, he couldn't really do any puzzles except the ones that have a picture of the exact thing that you are putting into the singular cutout- one hole for each piece. Now, he can just somehow do puzzles. He is cautious about not wanting to do it wrong and will often repeat, "Can you help me? Can you help me?" But we realized if we treated that question as if he said, "Can you watch me?" Instead of jumping in and helping, he can do it all by himself.

He also got a new bike- 2 wheeler with training wheels. He's had it for 1.5 weeks and has ridden it almost every day. The progress he has made in his ability to steer, start, and stop is also amazing to us. Maybe we are easily thrilled, but I this is where it gets hard not to limit a 3 year old by what your sure he probably can not do.

Katy and i have talked about paying serious mind to and trying to implement some research that we learned about from Adam: that kids who are told, "You did so good, you are so smart! I'm proud of you," are much more likely to not want to try new and harder things, than kids that are told, "You did so good, you must have tried really hard! I'm proud of how you chose to stick to it".

I can already see in JB some of what that study concluded: if success is tied to the labels "smart" or "good", moving on to harder things might mean losing those labels. But if success is tied to working hard and not being afraid to try, than moving on to harder things only requires being willing to put forth more effort. "I guess I can try harder next time," is a much easier on the I-want-to-please-you soul of a child than "I guess you must have been wrong when you called me smart".

It's a good lesson for me even in evaluating my adult learning processes and successes and failures too.

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