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Dec 25, 2010

Merry Christmas!

We had a wonderful Christmas this year, and I hope you had too.

It was the first year Daniel realized what was going on, and he really got into the Christmas spirit. I heard that, at school, he loved to sing Christmas songs. He also played Santa a lot during these last few weeks, bringing presents to Charlotte in his sleigh. (and yes, I had to admit, I was sometimes involved as Rudolf!)

I was a little bit concerned about all the questions Daniel was asking about Santa. I for sure was expecting that he would see through things. First, he was very excited about Santa's visit at school last week. All week, he kept talking about Santa's visit, how he would go to hug him right away and ask him a lot of questions such as: will he park his reindeer in the parking lot? Can he come even if it rains? How does he climb in the chimney, does he need a cord? I was expecting that, after all this questioning, a lot of doubts would come in Daniel's mind.
However, during Santa's visit itself, Daniel became very shy, quite impressed, and he forgot all his questions. He was barely self-assured to walk up to Santa to get a candy cane. This is the power of Santa!

On Christmas Eve, Daniel was very excited. He kept looking through the windows to see if he could see Santa. He was wondering where the reindeer would go and if they could come without snow. It was so sweet! When we finally got him to bed (late), he staying sitting, trying to listen to any sound that could be Santa. There was a lot of commotion in the house, of us just putting the presents together. But fortunately, Daniel didn't get out of his room and he just thought we were just doing our typical activities. It was funny that Daniel was even hoping Santa would come and clean up his room while visiting. Ah, the magic of Santa. (sadly, this wish didn't happen, though)

Christmas morning was very nice too. The kids woke up very early, before they could see much in the living room. I think for a while Daniel was concerned that there was nothing to be seen (he also had no experience about what and where to look). He was just a little bit unsure. When he discovered the pile of presents, his eyes opened so wide. And so did they with every present he opened. It was very nice.

Charlotte did well too. She also saw Santa at daycare and let him take her in his arms without complaining too much (this was right before stranger anxiety kicked in big time). She went through the motions of Christmas morning very happily, which was a big relief.

I hope you had a great Christmas too. Merry Christmas!

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Dec 24, 2010

Not a good time for separation/stranger anxiety

Charlotte is growing very well, and becoming more interactive and physically active. I love seeing her coo and giggle with us, and reacting happily every time she sees me. Unfortunately, with the recognition of familiar faces comes a lot of separation/stranger anxiety. She used to be the easiest baby, but if I had any doubt about her ability to become assertive, it's gone now. Lately she has found a way to protest every time mama is not around.

It started a few weeks ago, where we noticed that Charlotte would start whining if we left her playing alone for a few minutes. Nothing major, but we realized that she had started noticing what was happening in her environment.

By now, things have blown to a full-scale separation anxiety phase. Charlotte cries when I leave her at daycare (which she never did in the 3.5 months before). It took her 3 days to accept being with my in-laws who had come to visit and play with her. She would get mad every time I would leave the room even though they were with her. More concerning, Charlotte started waking up often with nightmares at night, breaking the routine she had been so good at since age 7 weeks.

It's particularly bad timing since we are going to see a lot of new people in the next few weeks. First, my in-laws came to visit last week, and the transition was hard. In a few days, we will be meeting 7 other family members we haven't seen in a while. We will also be traveling to a new environment, which will not be helpful. By the time we return, Charlotte won't have been at daycare for 2 weeks. This promises to be a challenging couple of weeks.

Fortunately, she is such a fun baby when she is in a good mood. We can forgive her until she becomes more self-assured around new people (hopefully soon).

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Dec 22, 2010

Protective big brother super hero

As I mentioned recently, Daniel is currently fascinated by the idea of fighting against monsters. Any pretend play story can turn into something around a monster, having to hide and fight a monster. Daniel is obviously not scared of monsters, he always ends up beating the monster apart.

Recently, this interest turned into wanting to protect his baby sister, which was really cute. The first instance happened when I had to miss my weekly yoga class on Wednesday nights as my husband had to attend a business function. My cell phone alarm went off to let me know that it was yoga time. When I explained Daniel what the reminder was about and why I wasn't going to yoga tonight, he responded: "Mama, you should go to yoga. I can take care of Charlotte. I will give her her bottle." I then asked what he would do when she needed a new diaper for the night, and he very pragmatically said he would take his step stool to reach the changing table. Nothing could discourage him! He also reassured me that he would play by himself and not need me at all and I appreciated the thoughtfulness. He went on to explain that if a monster came to attack her, he would fight back. "So really, mama, you don't have to worry. Go to yoga and enjoy!" I was so touched!

A couple of days later, Daniel made a similar comment when a baby-sitter came to take care of him and Charlotte. He definitely didn't see the need for the sitter. He could take care of both of them after all. I tried to encourage him by saying that he was indeed a great big brother, but that their might be extreme situations where he might appreciate a little help, such as if Charlotte got sick or if there was a fire. It sounds like the prospect of these situations sounded more exciting than scary. Daniel continued to tell how he would carry Charlotte and make sure she would be OK. So sweet!

It would be great if he could continue to be as protective when the two of them start arguing over toys and parents attention! Wishful thinking?

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Dec 5, 2010

Language development, Curiosity and Literacy

As Charlotte is barely starting to communicate right now (babbling and giggling, primarily), it regularly strikes me how far we have come with Daniel in a couple of years. It's becoming so easy to communicate with him, and our discussions are taking very interesting turns. Recently, Daniel started asking all kinds of questions to understand the background of things he has been taking for granted for years. For instance, recent topics include: Who made the jacket I am wearing, why don't we work on Saturdays, where is the sun when it's night time. I am a little bit concerned going into the Christmas season knowing that Daniel is starting to question a lot of things and he might quickly be able to poke holes in the whole Santa Claus story. This could become an interesting challenge!

On the language front, Daniel is definitely slowly but surely making progress in his 2nd and third languages. He regularly makes simple sentences in French. As long as they use the 3rd person, he has a good chance of getting things right. So far, he hasn't learned the "je" pronoun yet, because I rarely use it with him. So he often will say things like: "I porte le sac". I don't mind the one mistake. It's still encouraging that Daniel is not always just taking the easy road and saying everything in English.
Also, Daniel now comments regularly and proudly that he "parle francais". It's great he is starting to recognize the different languages. One of Charlotte's friends at daycare has a French father, and I have been talking with him in French each time we meet. Last week, Daniel overheard the conversation and asked "why you parle francais to him?" This is a good example for him to realize how important French can be if he hears me use it with other people around here. Hopefully it will keep him motivated.

I don't think I have talked about literacy and letters here yet. Daniel has just started learning the letters in the last 6 months or so and progress was slow at first. So there wasn't much to report yet. Recently, Daniel has started to proactively ask which letter is at the beginning of words. It happens in the car, during dinner, while reading. In most cases, Daniel guesses the answer himself, although we might have to give him some hints. Also, when we read books, he wants to read them to us, pointing to the words and making up meaning as we go. He loves reading his German books, because they show more capital letters (for the beginning of each noun), so it's easier for Daniel to recognize. The other day, we were reading a German book about horses and we were on the page where we were seeing a horse at the vet. Daniel recognized the "O" for Operationssaal ("surgery room" and went on to "read" that the horse was a the hospital (in French, where the word "hospital" really sounds like it could start with O, so this was right on). Daniel definitely seems to be interested in reading, which is very exciting.

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