Third Quarter for the Littles

A week or so ago we got winter progress reports for the toddlers. They have skills and conduct requirements listed and mark beginning, making progress, or mastered for each.

No surprise Nicholas got making progress or mastered for everything and his teacher wrote that he is just a joy to have in the class. His personality is so much like his big sister. They both charm everyone.

Anthony has a little more trouble with a few concepts and behavior. He got mostly making progress and a couple mastered and beginning. His conduct in class is mostly between beginning and making progress which is a big improvement from a few months ago.

Early elementary grades are 1s, 2s, or 3s and are more like the toddlers’ beginning, making progress, and mastered idea than grades.

Elijah got all 3s in music, PE, and health and mostly 2s and 3s with just a few 1s in conduct, reading, math, science, and social studies. He can orally count to 39 with no mistakes and can identify all letters, both upper and lowercase, and their sounds (though the sound y makes trips him up a bit still).

Mayci got all 3s in PE, science, social studies, conduct, and fine arts. She got mostly 3s and a few 2s (no 1s) in language arts, reading, and math. She can identify all the uppercase letters and all but two lowercase letters and the sounds all letters make. She can count to 29 orally with no mistakes and objects up to 16.

Remote Learning Mornings

We intend to get up at 6:30, but we’ve slept through the alarm multiple times. We’re always up by 7.

I go around and collect the kids’ clothes for the day from their bins and toss them down from upstairs. Then I get dressed and come down. Meanwhile, Jamie takes the kids down and starts to give them applesauce, yogurt, meat sticks, or cereal.

Jamie usually gets four of them dressed while two of them are getting themselves dressed. I do the kids’ hair one after the other (and Lola takes her turn hopping up on the foam cube to get her hair brushed, too).

It’s about 7:20 by this point. Jamie takes the toddlers to their preschool while I get a good breakfast on the table for the older two. My second alarm of the day goes off at 7:35 so at that point I get the iPads up and running and get those two set up for their first Zoom session of the day.

Of course as soon as we get this down, the older two will be going to the actual school for school and will have to adjust our routine, but this is what we’re doing right now.

Thoughts on the first week of remote learning

All I can say is I really hope E&M get in during the first phase of in-person learning (starting 9/8). Zoom classes have been fabulous for Fritz and Adrian. For pre-k and kindergarten, it’s not so great. I have 14 alarms set on my phone (two for Adrian, one for Fritz, one for waking up in the morning, and the other ten for E&M’s on-line times). So pretty much my day is spent making sure the right kid gets on the right device and that homework is completed and submitted on time.

Fritz really likes a couple of his classes, especially Animation. He’s already gotten lots of homework over the course of the first week, and, as would be expected with Fritz, has gotten it all completed on his own without being reminded.

Adrian is surprisingly engaged in his classes and is participating and working hard. He got a 100% on his first test, an oral one in Spanish. He’s not great at remembering to actually submit his assignments that he has completed (we’re all still learning how to use Google Classroom). He has said he wouldn’t mind going to class in person, but I’m waiting until phase 3 or 4 before letting the older kids go simply because of exposure to more people over the course of a day.

There were quite a few technology hiccups the first week, some were our fault, like Adrian’s laptop needing a new battery (which arrived yesterday) and so when it came unplugged a couple times he lost connection with his class and our internet going down for a couple minutes kicking Fritz out of Zoom, while others were not, like M’s pre-k teacher’s internet going down for one morning and the district website crashing the first morning from all the people trying to log in at once. But even those hiccups weren’t so bad and were only minor inconveniences rather than huge problems.

Really my only true complaint is that Zoom just isn’t an appropriate way for 4 and 5 year olds to learn. Well, that and trying to keep two active little ones plus two babies (the toddlers go to preschool just before E&M start their school day) quiet and occupied all day is not easy. But so far so good for Fritz and Adrian and good enough for E&M.

Daily Schedule

I have never been good at maintaining a daily schedule. Terrible in fact. They highly recommend schedules, or at least routines, for foster kids. So we knew that was going to have to be a thing we needed to do. Of course then we got infants so schedules weren’t so important. And then we got the toddlers.

In order to not go insane with four babies, because let’s be honest, 1 and 2 are still babies, I have had to form a daily schedule. One of the first things we have to turn in with a new placement is a daily schedule. I pulled that one out of my butt. I had no clue even what time these boys would regularly nap after only a week with them.

After almost four months with all four boys, I wouldn’t say I’ve got a schedule so much as a relatively strict routine. Sometimes things like, say, a dozen poopy diapers in one day or a baby hitting a developmental leap super hard totally throw things off, but for the most part our days are very predictable.

I get up at 6:30. My hope is that I’ll then have a half hour or so to do some things without kids around but inevitably at least one wakes up when I do. Luckily they are all good at playing on their own so I can still get things done even with one or two awake (it gets a bit harder when three or four are up and needing my attention.

We do our morning assembly line and then it’s play time (nap time for the babies – they go to sleep whenever they are read which turns out to be some time between 9 and 10 usually and they sleep one to one and a half hours) until about 11:30. Then it’s lunch time.

I’ve discovered the toddlers eat way better and are more cooperative about taking bites if they are watching TV. So for now they eat breakfast and lunch in front of the TV. While they eat I feed another four ounces of baby food to each baby. We’re slowly transitioning to table foods, but for now their solids are mostly from jars. The babies are fed bottles on demand. They usually want one every 4-6 hours. When they are hungry, we feed them. That is one thing we definitely do not schedule.

After they eat lunch, the toddler get their diapers changed and we head up to their room. N goes in the crib and A gets in his toddler bed and I put on a Moshi. Usually they are out within 20-30 minutes.

The babies often play together for a little while after the toddlers are asleep, usually showing they are ready for a nap about 1pm. We change them (it’s always nice to start a nap with a clean diaper) and rock them and once they are asleep, they go in their cribs (which are in our bedroom).

The babies usually sleep an hour and a half and the toddlers usually wake up about 3. N has been having some nightmares lately so those sometimes cut his nap short (and sometimes his crying from them wakes A as well). Since A is in a toddler bed, he gets up on his own and almost always heads straight to Jamie’s office for a few cuddles before coming downstairs (A is able to open doors and operate the baby gates – actually just recently N learned to do those things as well).

The boys play from the time they wake up until dinner. If it’s not too hot they’ll play outside a bit (both in the morning and afternoon). They all love anything with wheels – cars, trucks, airplanes, etc. – so we have a whole lot of those. The babies like stuffed toys. Baby B is a big fan of puzzles. The toddlers love Duplos and they all like playing with Magna-Tiles.

Dinner is about 5:30. We always eat together as a family. We’re working on keeping A at the table with us. The babies get another 4 ounces of baby food plus whatever from the table they can eat with the few teeth they have. N has an excellent appetite and is pretty willing to try things he isn’t familiar with. It’s a little harder with A. Usually if we can get him to try something he does like it.

After dinner we go for a walk. We started that for our sanity with the lockdown. Sometimes you’ve just got to get out of the house. Honestly, I’ve never seen so many people outside in our neighborhood in the almost seven years we’ve lived here as in the last month or so. It’s nice.

After our walk, Jamie takes the toddlers up for their bath. We’ve discovered that N’s eczema gets worse from pollen so he sleeps way better if he gets a bath and then lotioned and gelled at night. The babies play while the toddlers have their bath.

And then it is bedtime. If all goes well, they will all be in the cribs or toddler bed asleep by 9 or 9:30. All does not usually go well, at least where the babies are concerned. Once again the toddlers get in their crib/toddler bed and we play a Moshi. They are usually asleep within 10-15 minutes.
The babies are more difficult than the toddlers to get down at night. There’s always one twin who would rather play. We’re working on it.

And then it all starts over the next morning. I try to go to sleep by 10:30, but rarely do. Jamie usually works on his college classes after the toddlers are asleep until 10:30 or 11.

We usually end up with A climbing in our bed at some point during the night. Sometimes he wakes up fully and then we’re up a couple hours trying to get him back to sleep. Occasionally we’ll have to go in and settle N back down during the night, but he doesn’t get out of his crib, but rather just needs his bear, his blankie, and a little pat and he settles right back down. The babies wake once or twice a night and always have at least one bottle each at some point. So our sleep is definitely broken at this point.

I’m really glad we’ve been able to settle into such a good schedule/routine with these boys. It makes things much easier with all these little kids. Too bad I was so resistant to having one when my bio kids were small!

Baby A the Scientist

Ever since he first came to us at 2 1/2 months, Baby A has been our little scientist. He is very careful with inspecting things and figuring things out. The other day he spent a really long time proving just what a scientist he is.

He’s been intrigued by the doggy door. He watches Lola and even his brothers go in and out. Once his twin even made it through. But clearly he wasn’t quite satisfied that going through the doggy door was actually safe.

First he put a toy car through the door. He left it there a bit and then pulled it back inside and studied it very carefully. For what, I am not sure, but he obviously seemed to think it might not be quite the same after its trip. He did this several times.

Then he put his pacifier through the door. After inspecting it carefully, he popped it in his mouth and sucked for a little while. Satisfied that it was still the same as always, he repeated the process several more times, always with the same results.

So then he started testing his own body. First he put his hand through. After several tries proved his hand was unchanged from its trip through the doggy door, he put his arm out up to his forearm, then elbow, then halfway between his elbow and shoulder, and, finally, his entire arm up to his shoulder.

Satisfied that going through the doggy door would not harm him in any way, he attempted to get his head through. He’s not quite coordinated yet to do that, so that is where his experiment ended. It was so fascinating to watch. He was so methodical, focused, and determined. He’s a smart one, that Baby A.