It’s hard to believe that it has been 5 years already since a scared little boy and a couple of scared parents instantly became a family. For those of you that might be new to our blog, we celebrate Gotcha Day each year with a few traditions; a cake (there are 5 candles but 2 are blended together in the photo)…
a few presents…
and a comparison stairwell photo.
It’s always shocking to look at the stair photo and see how much he has changed. Below are the links to the past stair photos if you missed them the first time around or if you just want to see them again.
Remember the old board game Trouble with the “pop-o-matic” die-rolling bubble in the middle?
Dede bought Liam this game for his birthday back in April and we’ve been playing a couple or three times per week as time permits.
Initially of course, he moved his pegs (painfully) slowly around the board, stopping at every hole and often losing count. It was all new to him, so his plays were random and not goal-oriented. Honestly, it was a bit of a chore to get through a game.
Now, he jumps his pegs in increments around the board rather than 1 hole at a time. He’s always looking ahead to what his next optimal dice roll should be to land on another player’s peg, and putting some genuine critical thought into which piece is the best to move depending on each roll of the die. And of course, he’s talking trash to intimidate the other players along the way!
Sure, we’ve always been big believers in playing analog (not electronic) games and encouraging tactile activities, so ok, maybe this is nothing truly miraculous and shouldn’t come as such a great surprise to me, but it’s just such an unexpected thrill when you actually see firsthand how much this has boosted his math and decision-making skills. You can practically see synapses forming, his dexterity improving, and of course, the big confidence boost he gets when he wins.
All that, from playing a simple little board game. Genius!
There may not necessarily be anything wrong with digital games—Liam sure loves to play Angry Birds and Cut the Rope on the iPad—but I believe huddling around the table, playing a physical board game has to potential to be so much more enriching. It’s a shared experience with all sorts of social, practical, and cognitive lessons lurking just out of sight. It’s fascinating to watch as your child develops new skills and masters new concepts. And it’s just fun!
This makes me nostalgic for the days when all of us cousins would play board games at Pampaw or Uncle Truett’s during holidays. And it reminds me of Rich schooling me on Monopoly.
So, now it’s your turn… Are there board games that you’d recommend for those with young children? What were some of your all-time favorite board games?
Liam has officially graduated from Kindergarten!
It’s been a long year of learning for all of us. We had no idea how difficult the transition from daycare Pre-K to public elementary school Kindergarten was going to be.
Apparently life in Pre-K, even though it seemed well-structured, was still mostly about playing and doing things on your own schedule. So going to a class setting where all activities are highly-structured took a bit of a toll on our guy. We thought all hope was lost for the first few months, but after the Christmas break things worked out and he adjusted to the routine and even won a citizenship award by the end of the year. We’re so proud of our little guy and still totally amazed that he can now read books on his own.
I’m glad Summer is finally here and we can all relax and enjoy the next few months before first grade starts!
Today was the BIG DAY—Liam’s first day of Kindergarten. It’s a day I’ve been dreading for awhile now. Maybe it’s because I equate starting public school to my baby growing up. But Liam has been excited all summer at the thought of going to his big school.
We walked him into school this morning and stayed until the bell rang for class to begin. He waved goodbye and was ready to begin the day. I’m very thankful that I was not one of the parents that I saw in the hallways that had their children clinging to them in tears. I don’t think I could’ve handled that.
According to Liam, in the end, it was an awesome day and he can’t wait to go back again tomorrow!
There’s been a surge of articles in parenting magazines, blogs, and news coverage about bullying lately. Children are being tormented in America’s schools and online—sometimes to the point of committing suicide. It’s hard to believe that something I had been so totally unaware of is such a huge problem, yet the media has declared bullying to be a national epidemic.
There’s some contention about just how severe this has become; some experts insist that bullying is no more prevalent now than it was back when little boys yanked little girls’ pigtails and that the media’s portrayal is unrealistic and excessive, making behaviors that might simply be cruel into something more criminal. Maybe physical bullying has taken a backseat to psychological or emotional bullying, but even if the media has blown this out of proportion, there’s no denying that bullying is a credible and increasing problem.
As a parent, I’m thankful for all of the efforts to shed some light on this problem and I fully support both punishing bullies and helping kids learn to better cope with pressure-filled situations. But maybe we should put forth as much effort looking at some of the root causes. I believe a big contributing factor is how acclimated we’ve become to violence.
Horrific, explicit, oppressive violence is now an accepted part of our everyday lives.
Remember the movie Robocop about a terminally-wounded Detroit cop who returns to the police force as a powerful cyborg? What you may not recall is that the 1987 movie was initially given an X rating by the MPAA due to its graphic violence. Right, the movie was rated “X” not because of explicit sexual content, but for its shockingly-violent imagery. To appease the requirements of the ratings board, writer/director Paul Verhoeven pulled back on the significant blood & gore in 3 scenes so the movie could be released with an “R” rating instead.
Yet compared to what we routinely see on TV, movies, and video games now, the uncut version of that movie is tame by today’s standards. Within a 20 year span, what was shocking and socially repulsive has become acceptable, commonplace entertainment. Movies have become gleefully gruesome and morbidity is now mainstream. Consider the “Saw” series that let us watch as people are brutally murdered in twisted, torturous manners. Compare the likes of a Bruce Lee or Chuck Norris martial arts movie to that of the endless barrage of bloody carnage shown in contemporary movies like “Kill Bill.”
Likewise, TV shows even feature a stunning degree of graphic violence. Procedural cop shows like C.S.I. are far more realistically gruesome than that X-rated version of Robocop. Even when the violence isn’t necessarily visually graphic, there’s still some extremely negative behaviors at play. Consider that toddlers now watch wrestling on TV, which was strictly the guilty pleasure of Dads when we were kids—much to the disapproval of most Moms.
And where playing video games in our teen years meant shooting squiggly blips to make pixelated aliens disappear, now video gamers are immersed in battles where they fire super-realistic weapons at convincingly-real, three-dimensional opponents who yowl in agony when hit, spurt blood, limp, and finally collapse in a nauseating mass on the ground when they’ve sustained too much damage. (Until recently, this is the sort of thing that only soldiers would have to endure—and sometimes suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result.) Other video games reward players for beating up women, stealing cars, pistol-whipping passers-by, and inflicting varying degrees of terrible carnage on, well, anything that moves. According to some estimates, by the time typical American children reach the age of 18, they’ve already seen 200,000 acts of violence and 40,000 murders on some sort of screen.
We’ve allowed our society as a whole to become fully engulfed, acclimated, and accustomed to horrendous, gratuitous violence as a normal component of daily life. Perversely, our society actually savors and glorifies extreme cruelty and destructiveness! And as we’ve become numb and indifferent to negativity and violence, bullying has escalated to epidemic proportions. Surely, that’s no coincidence.
One of Liam’s bottom front teeth has been loose for a few weeks now. I decided yesterday that I better get to the craft store and figure out something cool for him to put the tooth in for the Tooth Fairy. I found this Melissa & Doug Wooden Treasure Chest and we went to work on painting & decorating it this morning and we were both pleased with the finished product:
We finished it just in the nick of time! Not 2 hours later, Liam came in the room holding his tooth. I’m not 100% convinced it was coincidence that it “fell” out as soon as the box was finished, but either way, the Tooth Fairy will be paying us a visit tonight for the first time!
We live in the sports haven of Texas. For those of you that have seen the movie or TV show Friday Night Lights, that was our school and the city where we live. Rob & I catch a lot of grief from our friends for not being sports fanatics. It’s been a great concern to many of them that our child be raised proper and put into sports at an early age so that he will one day achieve greatness by being chosen to play the ultimate of all sports, football. I say whatever to that!
I’m lucky to have a husband that isn’t all about sports. We are of the same mindset in that we want Liam to find his own way and will encourage him to try anything that interests him. So far, he has taken swim lessons and gymnastics classes. This month we enrolled him in the YMCA T-Ball program. The YMCA program is non-competitive and they don’t even keep score at the games. All the kids get to play and it’s just about learning some basics and having fun. Sitting out in the heat for practice isn’t my favorite things to do, but it was all worth it yesterday seeing him play in his first T-Ball game.
It’s hilarious to watch because the kids are clueless on what to do. Once they finally hit the ball, they usually forget to drop the bat and they have no idea where first base is. I was actually quite amazed at how well they did at their first game compared to their practices. I guess something just sort of clicks when they play another team.
I’m not sure if baseball will be his “thing” in the future but for now he seems to like it and has made a friend or two which is always good.
I had a wonderful Mother’s Day today. It started with a dozen roses from my wonderful husband and Liam gave me a Starbucks Doodle It Tumbler that he wrote “Liam Loves Mom” on. Liam also wrote the same message on his dry erase board for me to see. I love that he’s learning to write and spell but I hate that he’s growing up so fast.
The Pre-K school also had a Mother’s Day Tea on Friday. Liam & I had lunch with all the other kids and their Moms. We were all given a set of aprons for the Moms and the kids with their handprints on them. I think the idea is for us to cook together in the kitchen but they obviously don’t know our family very well or they’d know this would be a more suitable Father’s Day gift. Rob thinks it’s funny because I don’t want the aprons to get dirty because I’m afraid the paint will wash off so I’m just going to store them away.
We also went to see G-Ma this afternoon at the nursing home and wish her a happy Mother’s Day. She was feeling a little down when we got there but perked right up when she saw Liam. He sang her a couple of songs and the whole place was perked up by the time we left. One lady was even doing a little dancing.
I hope all the Moms out there had a wonderful day with your kiddos. I sure did!
This past weekend the weather was very nice and a perfect opportunity to let Liam burn off some cabin fever. We took him to the playground of what will most likely be his school next year (sniff). He had a great time playing until…
He was swinging and all was going well. He’s started to figure out how to lean back and pump his legs to keep himself going on the swing. Well somewhere in the midst of using all his new skills, he forgot the most basic one—to hang on! Yep, he let go as he was leaning back and did an almost perfect Gainer. I looked up about the time he was finishing his flip and on his forward lunge face-first into the dirt. My heart stopped and I just knew there was going to be blood everywhere when he got up. Rob scooped him up and after close inspection, we could not find blood anywhere but his face and mouth were full of dirt. We got him home and all cleaned up and other than his nose being scraped, he was fine.
I wonder how many more of these incidents I have in store for me. I’m afraid to even think about it because I know the count is going to be high. I took the picture below tonight while he was giving me his “I need sympathy” look.