Saturday, February 21, 2009

Claire - the Snowflake

Hoping to capitalize on her penchant for tip-toe walking, we signed up Claire for "Snowflake classes," a 6-week session of ballet at the local dance studio. The classes are very low-key and are essentially to help parents determine if their child would be interested in studying ballet in a more formal setting. Though she didn't wear high-heeled tap shoes and a beehive with spit-curls, Ms. Joyce certainly reminded me of my childhood ballet teacher. In fact, I really think her name was Ms. Joyce too. Anyway, this Ms. Joyce did not mess around. There was no playing around or time for coddling. It was, "hands on the bar, watch my feet, get back in line, etc."

Claire had a great time, and we are considering signing her up in the fall for full-time classes next year. Today was the final "snowflake" class, so all the girls got certificates of completion. Claire asked Shawn today if she danced in the fall if she would be called a "leaf."

These pictures were taken with Shawn's cell phone, so they aren't the best quality. Claire is all in pink, third from the front.

Ms. Joyce and Claire

Friday, February 20, 2009

Valentine's Fun

Shawn has pretty much guaranteed that any man in Claire's later life will have a hard time measuring up when it comes to Valentine's Day. Friday night, he came home from work with a dozen red roses for me, and three pink roses for Claire. As you can see, she was thrilled.

Saturday morning, Shawn handed out the rest of the Valentine's gifts. Both kids got cards from us and cards from Grandma. Ben was fascinated with his Thomas the Train card that whistled when he opened it. Claire got a small heart-shaped box of chocolate, and Ben got brand new Lightening McQueen pj's. He just saw Cars for the first time last week, so it was the perfect gift for him.
Here's a short video from the morning. They all think that I'm just trying to take a picture.

Here is Claire showing the camera her Valentine card from Grandma. It included stickers she could use to dress up the princess on the front cover.

The icing on the cake was Saturday night when Shawn took Claire to the Children's Museum's "Daddy Daughter Dance." They went to this dance last year, and Claire had such a good time that she was asking me about it right after Christmas. She begged to wear her "pink princess dress" without tights, and since it was fairly warm outside, she got to do just that. The night included museum admission, dinner, crafts, and dancing.

While Claire and Shawn were dancing the night away, Ben and I had our own "date." His dinner choice was Taco Bell, so after eating our tacos, we spent the night eating Valentine suckers and watching Thomas the Train videos. He was perfectly content. You'll notice that he's still wearing his pj's from the morning. He refused to take them off all day.

Claire was what can only be described as "smug" about the fact that Shawn took her and not me on a date for Valentine's day. I'm still holding out hope that my date will come soon. (hint, hint!)

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Random Pics

Here are some random pictures that have been taken in the last several weeks.

Claire took this picture, and Ben was crying because he wanted to hold the camera. I swear I didn't pinch him.

Playing the drums

Stayin' Alive

The kids got sleeping bags and pillows from Grandma for Christmas, and here they are "sleeping" in them. Ben needs to work on his fake sleep look. Also, the little sweeties are holding hands. (click on the picture to see it better)

Friday, February 6, 2009

What Life is Like

I haven't posted in ages. I know the grandparents love the updated photos, so I generally try to include them in posts. Well, I haven't taken any recently; thus, no new posts. We also haven't really had any exciting new events taking place, so I worry that just posting about the "everyday" will be a bit boring. Ah well. It's my blog, right?

So I am officially an English tutor, and this part-time job keeps me surprisingly busy. The one student I "home school" requires me to come up with an entire course just for her. As any teacher knows, planning a course, writing tests, reading texts for the first time all take a lot of time. However, I find that I really do enjoy this job - such as it is. I get to teach just as I would in a classroom, and I don't have the piles of papers to grade afterwards! Win, win.

I'm also meeting once a week with two very sweet Korean girls who are boarding students at Salem. They are both very intelligent, but since English is not their native language, they are having obvious problems in their English and history classes. Anyway, one of the girls asked me to help perfect her English pronunciation. I am not at all trained for that job, but I did some research on common problems that Koreans have with speaking English, and we started to practice some of the sounds that are particularly difficult for Koreans to make. This practice generally involves me over-exaggerating the shape of my tongue and my mouth, so that she can see what my mouth is doing when making sounds. It's actually pretty hilarious. We spent a LONG time on the word "squirrel." She never really got it, but I did learn the Korean word for "squirrel." And it is actually much easier to say in Korean than it is in English.

Shawn's job is still going well, keeping him busy. We are actually very grateful for this, knowing that many companies like the one for which he works have not been able to survive the economic decline. Thankfully, they've had plenty to do, and the southern winter weather (such as it is) allows them to keep working.

As for Ben and Claire. Well, Ben's latest passion is for trains. He LOVES Thomas the Train and begs me to "play trains" with him all day long. Actually, he doesn't really beg. It's more like a command: "Mommy, you play trains with me, right this minute!" Imperious little stinker, isn't he? Actually, he says "right this mimit," so he gets away with the disrespect because he sounds so darn cute. He is still refusing his nap most days, but I just leave him in his crib anyway. He has become used to this situation and has now figured out a way to entertain himself for the duration. Yesterday this is what I heard through the door of his room:

"I'm going to eat my piggies for dinner. Yummy! (slurping noise) Those stinky toes are yummy to my tummy . . . ew, gross." (puking noise, followed by hysterical laughing).

Really, I have no idea where he gets this stuff.

He is getting closer and closer to really getting the whole potty thing. Yesterday, he actually told me he had to go to the bathroom and ended up with a dry diaper for most of the day. He still hasn't quite figured out when it's ok for him to take off his diaper (like when it's time to go on the potty) and when it isn't (like after he's pooped while in his crib). I've had more than one "finger-painting" clean up. It's hard to maintain one's sanity (and not cuss like a sailor) while cleaning up feces, so I'm really (really) looking forward to the day when he finally gets it.

Speaking of losing my salvation. Beyond poop clean up, not much drives me to crazy town like the daily struggle to get Claire dressed. If it's not her socks, it's the pants, the shirt, or her blasted hair bow. Tights drive her to histrionics, and we don't even attempt getting her to wear some type of shoe other than her CROCS. In light of this, Claire has finally started seeing an Occupational Therapist to help with some of her sensory integration issues. Her evaluation showed that she has some problems with the auditory, tactile, and vestibular (inner ear, balance stuff) senses. Mostly this therapy involves a lot of play, so she is really enjoying herself. We are hopeful that she can work through some of her fears and frustrations and can start enjoying more activities. I realize that this is totally not a PC thing to say, but one of my biggest fears for her is that after starting kindergarten next year, kids will quickly pick up on her little quirks and label her as the weird kid who walks on her toes. My heart breaks when I think of Claire sitting at a little desk wearing headphones because there is going to be a fire drill that day! Ok, it's a little funny too, but still.

Anyway, that's a brief (not really) picture of what life is like in the Black household right now.