But here we are.
You guys, Roo has grown and changed so very much over the last year, and since I have been especially bad at blogging lately (I just looked back over to my blog history and realized that I was apparently awesome in 2011. That was my big year, I guess. How did I blog so much with a kindergartener, preschooler, and infant? I can't blog like that NOW with everyone in school 3-4 days per week!), I would like to bring you all up to speed on this amazing little boy.
- While Roo continues to be stubborn and ornery, his listening and understanding have improved DRAMATICALLY over the last year. Even simple commands like "Go get your coat!" or "Come here, Buddy!" would be met with a blank stare this time last year. Now he "gets" just about everything I ask him to do. Now, whether or not he chooses to do it... that's a different story. But he's getting better at that too.
- I absolutely love his school. He currently attends a county-run preschool that is housed in our county DD school. He is incredibly loved there. I'm not in the school very often (he rides the bus), but when I am, I am overwhelmed at the people who call out his name as we walk down the hall.
- You guys, a little less than five years ago, I mentally circled this Spring on the calendar. THIS is when he was supposed to have heart surgery to repair a hole that the cardiologist said was too big to close on its own. But as you may remember, IT CLOSED ON ITS OWN! So here we are, NOT preparing my baby for heart surgery!
- Roo's vocabulary is growing by the minute, I swear. He talks so much these days, and is slowly becoming more understandable. He even has several sentences that he says regularly, like "Where did it go?" (usually after he has thrown something), "Layla (our dog) is a good girl", and "Lamby, sit here!" (pointing to the seat next to him).
- Speaking of Lamb, she is absolutely amazing with him. Both bigs are, but she just has something special with him. They are absolutely inseparable at home.
- He is eating more food! What? His favorites are still graham crackers and yogurt (and pancakes and ice cream and cookies...), but he is expanding his palate more and more. Most nights we give him a small plate of whatever we are having for dinner, and he'll eat most of that before we pull out the yogurt. He eats chicken and steak really well, and has recently started chowing down scrambled eggs and quiche whenever we have them (which is almost every morning). He's still not wild about fruits or veggies, although he likes raisins, Craisins, and pineapple. He will also eat just about anything if it is in soup form. Even if it's chunky, so it is not necessarily about having it in a smooth texture. Who knows. The kid is a mystery unfolding.
- He has actually taken on a couple of chores completely on his own (which has me thinking that I need to give him some new ones). When we come home from somewhere, he will let the dog out of her crate and let her outside. Also, any time he hears her barking at the door, he'll let her back in. (We have to monitor these to make sure he doesn't take off! More on that in the next section.) When the big kids clean up after dinner, he grabs a towel to help wipe down the table. And in the mornings, he always takes his dirty PJs and puts them in the laundry room.
- Some of Roo's current (and continuing) likes: Paw Patrol, Elmo, "Frozen" (still!), fist bumps, singing & dancing, throwing (still!), running, playing outside, and grandparents :-)
- Roo continues to have no regard for safety. Last summer (I can't remember if I posted this already) we were on vacation in Florida, hanging out with some friends at the rental house on the beach, and we realized that we didn't know where Roo was. He had left the house, walked across the wooden steps that go over the dunes, and was juuuuuuuuust getting ready to set foot on the neverending expanse of beach that is the Florida coastline. I have never been more scared/relieved/drained/panicked/thankful in my life. Then a few weeks ago, my entire family (my crew, my mom and dad, my brothers with their wives and kids) was hanging out at my parents' house, when my hubby looked out the window and said, "Roo is outside." You guys, it was 0 degrees outside. He had on no coat. And when my teenage nephews went out after him (with no shoes on--bless), he ran away, laughing! I also get regular reports from church about how many times he escaped from his classroom. NO REGARD FOR SAFETY.
- Play dates with Roo are tough. For one thing, his disregard for safety (have I mentioned that?) also manifests itself as an intense curiosity to explore new places, whether it is a park, someone's house, or a "play area" at a restaurant. I know that doesn't sound like a big deal, but it is extremely stressful to try to keep an eye on him every second, while also trying to manage a conversation with a friend. And if there are multiple people there, forget about it. I leave in tears, feeling like I can't connect with anyone. Another contributing factor is that we just don't get invited much. That's really not a plea for pity, just a fact of life right now. Roo is getting ready to turn 5, but he is still at a stage where he plays more by himself, alongside but not really with other kids--not to mention the fact that he doesn't communicate like a typical 3-5 year old, so no one is exactly dying to invite him over.
- When Roo was a baby, I absolutely LOVED how long that stage lasted. I mean, it was bittersweet, because it was hard that he couldn't do the things that other babies his age were doing, but the prolonged snuggly, cuddly baby stuff was AWESOME. And getting to really enjoy each new phase and milestone? Delicious. But here we are, still in this slightly-above-toddler-but-not-quite-out-of-it stage that involves lots of chasing and saying things a zillion times and playing catch and... it's just not my forte, guys. I am so sad every day that he gets on the bus, but I am overwhelmed with anxiety on the days he is home. I have no idea what to do with him all day. I can only roll the ball back & forth so many times, but I really want to invest in him when I have him home and to myself. I had this same struggle with the older two, but the phase didn't last nearly as long. I'm looking forward to nicer weather, when we can get outside more.
- Some of Roo's current (and continuing) dislikes: Fruits and veggies, holding hands, being told "no", and bedtime :-)
- Roo is now starting to answer questions! This is HUGE! Abstract concepts like that are really tough for him to understand. He has known some basic colors (red, yellow, blue) for months now, but if you would point to something and say, "What color is this?" He would reply, "This." In other words, any question you asked him, he would just repeat the last thing you said. But now he is getting it. He'll answer questions about colors and animals sounds. He'll say "no" (or at least shake his head) if he doesn't want something. He's got another question he can answer, too, but you'll have to wait to hear that one. His ability to answer is still pretty much limited to those areas, but he's making progress. It's exciting!
- For Christmas we got Roo a balance bike, and he loves it! It is so fun to watch him scooting around--so far it's just been in the living room, but I can't wait to get him outside with it. :-) If you're not familiar with balance bikes, they are a relatively new concept, and they are fantastic! It is a bike with no pedals and no training wheels--he sits on it and scoots with his feet. It teaches him to work on balance first instead of pedaling. The idea is that it is easier for kids to add pedaling later on, after they have learned the balance of coasting without training wheels.
- He has suddenly started calling me "mama" instead of "mommy." I have know idea where that came from.
- He is starting to drink (a little) from an open cup instead of a sippy. This has been a tremendous battle with him. Fortunately, one of his favorite things to drink from an open cup is a smoothie. I LOVE this because I make smoothies with fruit, kale or spinach, milk, and a little bit of protein powder. It's a great way to get my non-fruit-and-veggie-eater to gulp down some good stuff!
- Potty training!!!! You may have seen on here or on my Facebook page that I did a short attempt at potty training after he showed some initial interest. It was a big, huge, complete disaster! I sat him on the potty every 30 minutes for 2 days, and he did not successfully use the potty ONE SINGLE TIME. We went through a lot of laundry in those two days. In April, though, I am going to try a similar-but-different approach. Although I want to be consistent and give him every opportunity for success, I am a big believer in not causing undue stress for anyone. If there is one thing that I have learned from this kid, it's that he'll be ready when he's ready. He crawled until he was three, then started RUNNING everywhere. He fought hard to sleep in his crib for months and months, then one day said, "Mommy? In the bed?" and never looked back. When he's ready for something, he's ready. Until then, he is just.not.gonna.do.it.
- School. Oh, school. Next year, Roo will be moving to a new school. He will NOT, though, be going to kindergarten. By law, he doesn't have to do that until he is 6, so we are going to do one more year of preschool. He will still be in the same program--a county-run preschool housed in another school--but now it will be housed in our local elementary school (where the bigs attend). This has pros and cons, but I think (hope) it's the right choice for us. It will be nice to have him 2 minutes away instead of 20. And it will help him to adjust to the new building/environment before kindergarten. Speaking of kindergarten, I have HUGE reservations about that and have already had sleepless nights trying to figure out the best thing for him. I'm sure I'll be talking more about that as time goes on, but if you want to pray for us, that's a good place to start.
- Church. In the next year or so, Roo will be at an age where kids are transitioning into some of the "big kid" programs. We have a fabulous kids' ministry director who is working with us on figuring out which things will be a good fit for him and what it will take to make some of those things happen. For instance, there is a Wednesday night program for boys that Monkey absolutely LOVES. (Also, Lamb is in a fantastic program for girls that night, and Mr. Fantastic and I attend a Bible study.) Right now, Roo is still in the nursery, where he just plays. In the fall, he really should move up to the preschool program, and in kindergarten he'd move up to the boys' program with Monkey--but I'm not sure how that will work. These are bigger groups of kids (where Roo can get overwhelmed and/or decide to run off), and unlike school, we're not talking about people who have a college education in working with kids or experience in working with kids with special needs. There are options we are exploring. I am incredibly thankful for yet another group of people who love Roo--and our family--and want to help him grow and learn in the best environment for everyone.
So that is Roo right now in a nutshell. A big nutshell. Maybe a coconut shell. We continue to be just... incredibly, incredibly thankful that God turned our world upside down 5 years ago.
And no, this does not take the place of a typical birthday post. That is coming too. Because, more of this.