Sunday, April 3, 2011

Gardening, swimming, and homeschooling preschool

I'm really loving this 3yo stuff! Carter is so curious and engaged and talkative and creative, always playing and chattering and imagining. I've read many times that this phase is very similar to the teenage years because they're on the precipice of being a child, but aren't quite ready to let go of being a baby. There's that constant push and pull between independence and dependence, and it's just fascinating to watch. I'm trying so hard to be present in the moments when Carter really needs support and to let go when he needs to feel like a big kid, and to be mindful of how challenging this time is for him.

The last couple of weeks have been busy, and this is the first chance I've had to update. Here are a lot of pictures and several videos from the last few weeks.

We went to a balance bike playgroup a couple of weeks ago. I was really excited about it, but it ended up being a little disappointing because all the kids were beginners. Carter had been excited about having other kids to ride bikes with, but he was the only one zooming around. The other kids enjoyed watching him, at least.



One of the nice things about living in a hot place is that we get to use our pool for a lot of the year. We can usually start swimming in a heated pool in March, and we've had some lovely days for swimming this spring already.


Carter's been in swimming lessons for almost two years now, and it's amazing how confident he is in the water. He wears water wings most of the time in the pool because even the shallow end is over his head, and no matter how good a swimmer he is, we'll probably keep doing that until he can stand in the 3-foot end. With water wings on he can jump in, swim all around, slide, and so on, and I don't have to have a hand on him constantly. He loves the pool!

Here is a video of him going down the slide.

This is a cute video of him trying to jump in backwards. He was so determined to do it, but couldn't quite figure out how!

As the weather has gotten warmer, we've spent more and more time playing outside. Carter spends lots of time in his sandbox and playing in the backyard. Spending more time in the backyard has given me a chance to do some gardening, and that's been a lot of fun. I planted some lettuce last year, and it's come up again this spring all by itself.


I picked another spot to plant some squash, zucchini, and cucumbers, and Carter was moderately helpful. I started with a patch of dirt and dug out a trench for the row. Carter helped for about two minutes before heading to the sandbox.


After the trench was dug, he helped me layer the dirt back in with compost. I'd gone to a local landscaping shop and they recommended turkey manure and dairy manure, and Carter was delighted at the chance to scoop "poopy compost" into the ground.



I had him bring the little plants over on his tractor, which was actually very helpful.


And voila, a little garden.


This is an experiment, mostly. I have no idea if anything will grow, or if the squirrels and rabbits will get it all before it's ripe. If it works this year, then I'm planning to build a raised bed back there next year, and do some more serious gardening.

We also planted a little blueberry bush, which Carter was very excited about. As soon as we got it home, he grabbed it and the water pitcher and headed across the yard, saying he was going to plant it! I may end up moving it, because it's not getting much sun where we planted it. The pitcher he's using to water it belonged to my grandparents. :-)


He's enjoying the gardening, and my hope is that he'll get to learn something about where food comes from. I also hope he'll be more inclined to eat vegetables that he's watched grow in our own garden.

All of this working in the dirt gets him very messy, of course. He's almost too big for a bath in the sink!


Here are a few other pictures from the last couple of weeks. I took him to campus with me one day when I had a meeting, and he enjoyed checking out this knitting art exhibit right outside my building.


I helped run a workshop and did some supervising of students teaching in the field in the last couple of weeks, so Carter had lots of time to hang out with Michelle. Here are some cute pictures she took of their outing to the mall.


He looks so big in this one:


I've been really struggling with the idea of putting Carter in some sort of preschool. He'll be 3.5 in the fall, and I'd always thought that would be a good age to start, but the school I was really interested in requires 5 days a week, 7:30-3:30. That's just too much, IMO. He's going to spend a huge chunk of his life going to school full time, and I'm just not in a hurry for that to begin. I am also a big believer in the importance of play for young children, and I've tried very hard to organize his days so that he gets as much time to explore and play as possible. On top of that, he goes to several classes every week, and so he's getting interaction with other kids and experience being in a school-like setting through that.

So in the end, I decided to put it off at least another year. He's learning so much just through play and being exposed to so many things, and I'm not at all worried about his development. I'm looking into a few more classes, though, just to give him some more experiences. Right now he takes a swimming class and a music class every week. Since he aged out of Gymboree I've been looking for something to replace it, and after talking to my sister Nicci about The Little Gym (she works at one in NC), I decided to take Carter to a class to try out gymnastics. Here are some pictures from his first class.




He LOVED it! The class was an hour long, and he stepped right in and followed the other kids like he'd done it forever. When it was time to go, he clung to the door and cried! We had to have a talk about Big Feelings afterwards, and that it was good to love something so much you didn't want it to end. We're starting those classes right away!

I'd also like to enroll him in drama classes at Zach Scott's theatre school (a fantastic regional theatre company here in Austin). We may not start that until the fall, but I think he'll really enjoy it, given the amount of creative play he already does. So that would be four classes a week, and I think he'll be getting plenty of experience being in a school setting from that. I joke that we're homeschooling preschool. ;-)

Carter is begging me to come play in the sandbox with him, so I'm going to wrap up this post. I hope everyone has a great weekend!

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