We had a great weekend with Ann Marie’s mom and dad and the kids – and of course Uncle Dave and Aunt Elaine. We had a delightful breakfast with the Belgian wafflemaker that Grandma and Grandpa got for Ann Marie for mother’s day. They really were about the best waffles I have ever had. With properly cooked scrambled eggs (Not frantically stirred in the pan and cooked til dry, but gently folded and cooked only enough til still creamy and moist. It is really the only way to cook scrambled eggs) thick sliced bacon, cajun sausage, and fruit for the waffles. Ciela really dug the waffles – she had me cut each square up separately, slap on some butter and syrup on each one. It was the perfect plate for a little kid. She is growing up so fast, it is hard to keep track of the new developments. About a month ago we tried teaching her the alphabet. She was able to learn a few letters, but some just wouldn’t stick and she would soon forget. I figured it was too early and decided to give it a break. Well now she is picking up letters all by herself. It seems she knows about 5 or 6 letters perfectly, with another 5 or 6 with pretty good reliability. And she knows that when we are reading, those things on the page are just a bunch of letters (obviously a difficult concept to grasp and one we adults take for granted). She frequently picks letters out of a word and announces what it is. And when she “reads” (reciting from memory) a story, she will run her fingers across the words. Yeah its cute, but its more than that: Im sure linguists recognize this behavior as an innate behavior to force advanced behavior to encourage learning. Or something like that. Anyway, she is 3 1/2 and I bet she will have the alphabet under control in a few months.

Linguistically, Ciela is outstanding: Not only does she have a clear capacity for the alphabet, but she speaks incredibly well. Only occassionally does she use words in the wrong tense when she is speaking – I know this because it is so rare that I actually take notice of it. And her ability to conceptualize complex things never ceases to amaze me. I can’t think of any examples right now, but I will have one in the next week for sure.

Bryce is really growing up fast these days too. He loves food alot, but wishes he had teeth so he can have things like waffles and filet mignon. When I am sitting at the dinner table with him he is so “in” to the food on the plate he is hard to handle. So lately I keep a bowl of his mashed up food at the table when I am eating so that he gets at least some culinary satisfaction. Bite for you. Bite for me. Bite for you. Bite for me. It all works out. We first started him on food about two months ago. First was just the rice and grain cereal for a month, then for the past month he has had the smashed vegetables: peas, grean beans, squash, carrots, etc. We have avoided sweet foods, like bananas and other fruit, so that he would develop a taste for bitter/earthy foods. Anyway, after this weekend I am thinking this is pretty much over. Grandma gave him some smashed bananas and, well, he pretty much went bananas. Then mom gave him some coconut sorbet, and, well, he pretty much went coconuts.

Both the kids are taking swim lessons with Marjean. She has been teaching swimming for 56 years! She developed a teaching method years ago and she really gets the kids going. Being a swimmer for my whole life, I can honestly say I can’t imagine a better method. Every kid learns and even fearful kids are dealt with in such a way that by the end of the first or second session they no longer seem to have much fear. Ciela is absolutely fearless in the water. Jumps off the edge of the pool; asks me to throw her in the air and splashes face first in the water; dives under the water; tries to swim by herself. She is at a mid-stage, where she can sort of wiggle through the water and is just starting to be able to throw her arms up and over and pull back to get herself to move forward. She is a very very good swimmer for her age. Bryce also is doing well. He adjusted well to the water and seems to enjoy being wet. Marjean’s first step for all new swimmers is to get them to learn how to hold their breath and open their eyes under water. She starts just by counting to three then gently pushing the kids face first under the surface and forward to the parent a few feet away. The parent grabs the kid and lifts them horizontally out of the water. The horizontal part is important because if you lift them straight up out of the water, the water that the child may have taken into the nose or mouth drains down into the throat and may cause them to choke. Of course this can be uncomfortable and scary for the kid. If you bring them out with the head horizontal, the water just drains right out of the mouth and nose and the child a.) learns that water comes out and b.) you can go under water, come back up and everything is ok. After 5 or 10 repetitions of this, the kids get it. Even a 7 month old like Bryce. At his third session last week I was in the pool with him and you can tell he anticipates the dunk by getting this really cute look on his face: he closes his eyes tight, takes a breath, and puckers his mouth up like he is kissing some one. Of course, to him he is just shutting his mouth, but it looks like he is trying to kiss. Marjean gets a kick out of it. Anyway, he doesn’t cry or anything, and really appears to understand that he is supposed to be learning something

Such fun!