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Apr 28, 2011

Happy Birthday, Charlotte!

It's been a year since our little girl joined our family. What a year! She has turned into this little toddler, actually not that little. 95% in height, 99% in weight. She loves to eat and she can never have enough of milk, in any form! Good that it's a good thing at her age!

She is happy most of the time (that is, when she is not getting frustrated), and interested in her environment. She is on the cautious side when it comes to physical activities. While she has been walking holding barely one finger for a long time, she hasn't developed the self-confidence to try walking by herself. Even when she is literally 2 inches away from something to hold onto, she isn't taking any risk. She usually reverts back to crawling to go where she wants to go.

She is pretty good at communicating, pointing at things and having a couple of words now. Her 2 favorite words are "dada" for her favorite big brother and "gogogo" when she wants to go somewhere or when she wants us to give her whatever we are holding (I haven't figured out the connection with the sounds, though. I doubt she is trying to say "give me" but who knows.) She occasionally says "mama" and has said "lait" (milk) a couple of times when pointing to her bottle. It might still be coincidence. Anyways, she is starting to become a lot of fun.

Daniel is having a harder time now that his sister is taking more space in the family. I think that is doesn't help that she needs to hold to us when she wants to walk. It makes us parents a lot more focused on her. I wrote about Daniel's maturity a few weeks ago. Well that wasn't a good idea. This phase is over! Hopefully it will come back soon

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Apr 18, 2011

What I will remind my 3 year-old of in 15 years

I mentioned last month that Daniel had been talking about preparing for college a lot, even though he is yeaaaaaaars away from it. It's really cute to hear him think through it at his age, since it leads to a lot of concerns, comments along the lines of "I don't want to leave you, mom and dad", sighs and hugs.

Yesterday, I had another moment that I wished to freeze as is and keep in a capsule when I need it in 15 years. We were on the Stanford campus (visited the Hoover Tower and the bookstore) and some teenagers were playing in the water fountain, climbing on the statue and just joking around. Daniel just couldn't understand why they would be doing this. He now understands that babies like Charlotte want to try everything, because they don't know better. But it was clear that these kids were older, and if he -at 3 years- knew that you are not supposed to play in the water fountain, these kids should too. Why would these bigger kids not know that? I had to explain that these kids probably know the rules already, but they are taking advantage of their parents not being here, to not listen.

This was just something Daniel couldn't comprehend (so thankful for that). He went on to tell me that, even when he is big, and if he is ever without mom and dad (which he doesn't want to do), he would still always be nice and remember what mom and dad taught him, and do the right thing.

Yeah, right... Can I remind him of this in 15 years?
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Language progress, 3 1/4 years

It's been a while since I gave an update on Daniel's language development. The last time was a quick note around his 3rd birthday. At the time, we had just spent 2 weeks surrounded by German-speaking grand-parents, and we had noticed great progress in German. To my surprise, Daniel continued to use a lot more German even after the grand-parents were gone. He is now regularly saying pretty good sentences in German. They are usually grammatically incorrect because he follows the order of words in English, but they have the right words, and it's great to see him use German spontaneously. On a side note, Daniel still makes some mistakes in English as well, even though we can now have very interesting conversations with him. For instance, he confuses "nobody" and "anybody", "him" and "her" and having difficulties with past and present tenses. We are not doing much to correct him, so we will have to wait until he realizes his teachers are saying things differently.

Daniel still understands French well, and he incorporates some vocabulary, but he doesn't say many French sentences yet. I have to say that I am a little bit disappointed about that. I spend a lot more time talking to Daniel in French than my husband spends talking to him in German (although I sometimes catch myself talking to him in English, when I need to explain something complex he might not have much background about). And it's not that the German grand-parents are visiting us all the time. So, I would have expected that by now Daniel's French would be better than his German. That was without counting on the fact that German is much closer to English than French. So that's where French loses.

In thinking about it, it makes sense that Daniel has an easier time translating for example "can you help me" to "kannst Du helfen mir" than to "peux-tu m'aider". Most German sentences Daniel has mastered are very close to their English equivalent. I think this is why it's been easier. I guess it will take more time for him to learn sentences that are very different. It's encouraging that the other day, he spontaneously translated an English word (I believe it was "nuts") into the corresponding French and German words. And he knew exactly what he was saying and why. So he is aware and interested in the three languages. I think, he just needs more time. Hopefully, when we go visit my family over the summer, we will see some long-lasting boost in French. Crossing my fingers. Otherwise, he might be an unhappy visitor if his cousin doesn't understand him!

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Apr 17, 2011

First day of summer weather

We had a great, sunny and warm weekend. This was great timing since it was the first weekend where the tent over the Menlo Park outdoor pool was gone; and Daniel had his swim lesson on Saturday. He did great, by the way. The skepticism of the first week was gone, and in this second lesson, he was really at ease jumping into the pool and trying to swim.
On Sunday, we set up our baby pool and slide in the garden. Daniel had a blast.

Charlotte was a little bit more skeptical, which I was surprised about because she loves baths. The water in the pool was still pretty cold, and she doesn't move much yet. So this could have been the reason. Or maybe just the new surprise and the fact that she was still half asleep from her nap. Anyways, we will try again with her another time!

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Apr 16, 2011

First real drawing

Last week, Daniel came back from school with his first real "good" drawing. While he started paying more attention to drawing about a year ago, it wasn't until about last month where he started describing his drawings with more specific descriptions. But his first ideas was to justify random curves as "roads". Not very specific. This time, the drawing represented a real object. Do you know what it is?

According to him, this is a .... school bus. Progress!

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Apr 10, 2011

Happy baby at the Children's Preschool Center

I have been looking for a reason to put some of these cute pictures from Charlotte online. Couldn't find any, except to say how happy she is at her daycare, the Children's Preschool Center. She is, really, smiling every day when we enter the room, showing excitement when her friends come in. I already wrote about our satisfaction with the Children's Preschool Center a few years ago. Now with 2 kids attending, we are still very happy and would recommend it to anyone looking for a good child care. Now on to the pictures. Enjoy...

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Apr 9, 2011


Over the last few weeks, Daniel has really grown in maturity. I am not sure if it's the pride of being 3, his new "responsibilities" as a big brother of an active toddler or just regular development. In any case, the last few weeks have been a breeze. All of a sudden, Daniel understands and follows procedures such as brushing teeth before bed time, signing his name carefully at school or putting sun screen on. He abides without complaining. He has also made a lot of progress in getting dressed by himself and regularly helps with household chores or even making sure Charlotte doesn't get in trouble. Lately, even when he doesn't quite like what we ask from him, he will quickly respond "ok" (although reluctantly) and follow directions. What a change from a few weeks ago when we had to threaten time out to get him to do anything to help. When he is disappointed by something (for instance, the toy store being already closed when trying to go and buy the long-time promised airplane toy), he quickly processes it and goes back to his happy mood. No more tantrums! Wow... Is this too good to be true?

At the same time, Daniel has started anticipating issues that have affected him in the past, and he is proactive in finding solutions. For instance, tonight, he specifically decided to watch a short TV program, so that he would have time for a long bedtime story. Previously, we had had to cut on bedtime stories when he watched TV too long. So he learned to ask how much time was left and to make the decision that worked for him.

He also asks very detailed questions on a variety of topics, challenging our simple answers when he doesn't get the specifics he wants. The other day, he couldn't quite believe me when I explained that trees drink water from their roots. He understands that water naturally goes down and not up. So how could the water go up from the roots to the leaves? This was very intriguing to him.

I continue to be amazed how much difference 2 years make. At almost one year, Charlotte is barely starting to learn about the world around her and to express very simple needs. 2 years ahead of her, her brother is able to carry a thoughtful discussion about pretty much anything, understand and process feelings and make thought-out decisions. I love listening to Daniel talk, and hearing all the thought process that goes on inside his head. And he talks a lot, all the time. I need to post a video some time. This might be my next post.

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