But here's a few pictures to remember his third birthday.
Love the expression of thrill. (His birthday was on a Sunday, hence the spiffy dude clothes)
Same expression again :)
Marietta gave him a Bob the Builder outfit and a couple Bob the Builder toys - Scoop and Dizzy (he already had Lofty). He goes in stages where he's into Bob and then he forgets all about him.
No pictures of the cake this time ... cept from a distance. I have never had a cake turn out so bad. If I hadn't decided to decorate it at 10pm the night before I would have started over. But late on a Saturday night meant I just was going to have to go with what I had. I learned a few lessons for future cake decorating. I applied to decorating tricks together ... not a good idea. The one idea is to partially freeze the cake before you start decorating. This makes it firmer and less crumbly. The second idea is to put a thin layer of icing on the cake before you start the actual decorating to collect all the crumbs and keep them from mixing with your decorations. Well the two ideas together didn't go so well ... probably partly due to the hot weather. I left the cake in the freezer too long so it began to thaw as I decorated. In the thawing process the thin layer of icing I had put on began to get thin and runny and made a mess of the decorating I had done, seeping thru my hard work and making that icing more runny. Then there was the struggle of getting the right colours ... I couldn't find black icing at the store and didn't have a chance to get to Bulk Barn. A quick internet search told me it wouldn't really be that hard ... haha, think again. We went with a deep, deep blue colour, which I did manage to tint to a grey colour for part of it. I didn't even bother to try make red icing as this is also a challenge and by that time the cake was such a disaster it wasn't worth my efforts.
But ... Matthew still knew what the cake was suppose to be, and being three he didn't seem the least bit concerned by how it looked seeing at it still tasted good.
I always regret that I didn't keep a journal for Matthew like I did for the other kids. I tried during his first months, but after missing a couple months of his life, I just couldn't get back into it and it never happened. In order to remember some of the things Matthew has accomplished lately I figure I better jot down a few things now.
Where to start? I think the thing that pops in my head right away about Matthew is his chattering. Unfortunate for us he is another chatterer. It's not always a bad thing, but it can get annoying when he expects you to respond over and over to the same chatter and you're just not in the mood to converse. I especially notice this when I am driving. He has to chatter about everything he sees and expects me to acknowledge everything he says and make conversation, when I often just what to drive and think. Then to make matters worst he is an awful back seat driver. In the city it's not so bad, he eventually has too much to see that he doesn't get too worked up, but when coming into the city or first seeing a red light he will be demanding I stop because the light is red when we're still a mile from the light. Every now and then he's not totally on the ball and will ask "why you stopping mom?" and I have to give a clear explanation as to why or he gets in a tither and wants to know. I hear the "go faster", "watch out", "not so fast" from the back seat quite regularly as I drive. But to give him credit, he not only knows the basic traffic rules he also has a very very good sense of direction. He usually knows where we are and can tell me . If we get anywhere near our old place he will ask if we can go by our old house. He knows where most of the libraries are in the city and major landmarks/buildings. His sense of direction is just as good in the country ashe points out each house/place we've ever visited and who lives there.
Matthew loves to ask questions ... the same questions over and over. It tries my patience when he does it. I often turn the question around and ask it to him ... but even this doesn't work a lot of the time. I remember this stage with Marietta, that's the comfort I take in it ... it's a stage, we'll get through it in due time :)
If Matthew's not busy pointing out all that he sees or telling me how to drive he is either singing or sleeping. Matthew loves to sing and has an excellent memory. While he knows many songs from his various tapes, as well as the Sound of Music, Steve Green and Jamie Soles we are going to have to put some extra work into his memory work from the Psalm book from now on. He does know a few songs, Hymn 4:1,5:1 and 45:1, Psalm 116:1 and 79:1. but not near what his sisters did at his age. Come September when school starts again we'll be working to increase those songs. Matthew will often sing as he plays, this trait comes out more when he's home alone then when the girls are home. If he's not singing a familiar song he's making up his own words to a familiar tune.
Right from a young age when Matthew started watching TV we started him on the Signing Time series. This was originally something the girls picked up from the library just for fun, but they really enjoyed learning it and from there it has taken off to a regular language we try to learn. In the last half year or so it has been put on the backburner as we try to figure out how to fit it into the daily schedule, but lately the kids have been into it again. I had heard of teaching your baby's signing language and really thought it was just another silly idea ... but we now encourage people to teach their little ones how to sign. We were amazed at how Matthew could communicate with us before he could talk. I will never forget the day I opened the blind to the front window and Matthew told me it was snowing ... he couldn't talk, but he still told me he saw snow. It was really an eye opener for us to realize that just because kids can't say what they're thinking doesn't mean those thoughts aren't there ... we always sort of knew that, but this really confirmed it. So Matthew continues to learn sign language in spurts. I have to remember to go back to the beginning at times to see if he still remembers those parts too ... unfortunately it's not an everyday language in our house which would help to promote a better memory and quicker ability to communicate.
When it comes to the basic things that kids are learning at Matthew's age I would say he's about average. I haven't heard him sing his alphabet recently, but he has previously been able to sing it as well a recognize some letters. (He used to have LeapFrog magnets on the fridge that would say the letters and sounds, but we took them off when he started having more fun throwing them all over the floor then playing with it properly ... we're assuming this is where he learned the alpahbet because we didn't teach him). He can count to about 15, sometimes to 20 ... but above 10 is inconsistent on having it right. Regardless I'm impressed with this as again nobody taught him this, and I really have no idea where he picked it up. He's been able to count for quite some time already (before we moved I know that much). He does not recognize numbers. He really doesn't know his colours. He knows he has yellow crocs and brown crocs, etc but if I point to something and ask him the colour he's just guessing and really has no idea.
I used to think Matthew was an outdoors guy, but this summer he has not spent much time outdoors. This is likely because his sisters are not outdoors people. I tend to have to kick them and him outside. Unfortunate for me Matthew recently learned to open the door by himself (something he's quite proud of since it is a relatively hard door to open). This means he just lets himself back in and now I'm at the stage that I have to lock him out. Sometimes I think it's just because we don't spend time out there and he wants us to be there ... but then when we're all out there I'll go looking for him and find he let himself back into the house. I have noticed that if the girls are gone then he will actually go out and play with Muddy. Matthew really would rather be an only child. I thought the summer would be good for him to have his sisters around, but really, he's been rather a nuisance and annoying. He goes out of his way and makes a point of bugging them - pushing, hitting, climbing on them, getting in their way, etc. I guess school time is better for him ... he gets a good portion of the day to himself and a portion with his sisters, that seems to be the balance he likes.
We have also struggled very much with Matthew and sharing. While Matthew is mostly a kind and good mannered kid when we go away (no not a perfect kid, he likes to fight and cause problems, but overall he's not so bad) ... when at home it's a different story. Again, Matthew has "only child syndrome". He grew up with his nearest sibling being 5 years older then him ... and a girl. He didn't have to share his toys very often and was somewhat catered to until we realize the mistake we had made ... but it was too late. Growing up with no one to fight with wasn't really a good thing. He believes that almost all the toys in the house are his and has no desire to share them when other kids are over. While I have no trouble bring Matthew to other peoples houses it is a rather long day when I babysit other peoples kids as Matthew spends all day pouncing on the kid whenever they touch something, taking their toys away, fighting with them. I spend the day disciplining him and feeling bad for both the child I'm babysitting and poor Matthew who must think his mother is awful to stand up for the other child. Some kids it goes better then others ... some really couldn't care less and just pick up the next toy and wait for him to take that away before the carry on to the next. Then there is one that Matthew is actually scared of ... I kinda liked that!! :) Then there is Vivian ... dear Vivian, Matthew's best and dearest friend who shower each other with hugs whenever they see each other. At Vivian's house the two are best buddies and great pals. At our house it's WWIII. Vivian isn't going to put up with Matthew's nonsense, and even goes out of her way to push his buttons. Usually I get a maximum of 1 hour of peace before they're at each other ... both are just as determined to win at the game ... whatever it is. It's full fledge battle time with me mediating. At first Vivian won most of the time as I just assumed it was Matthew again ... but with some closer watching I realized that they were both the issue. They're almost like siblings with their "love" and fighting :) I only hope that Matthew outgrows his "only child syndrome" because it's not a very nice trait.
Matthew also continues to love his naps. While his internal clock tells him to wake up at 6:15-6:30am ... no matter what time he goes to bed, he does make up for it by taking a 2-4 hour nap each day. I realize if I tried to shorten these naps he would go to bed earlier, but with Rob's work hours I kinda like it that he's up later. With the girls up later also, especially with summer, it doesn't bother me that Matthew's up late. Usually Matthew goes to bed the same time as the girls ... around 9-9:30 lately. Because he can stay up late I also find with summer it makes it much more flexible in the evenings. If we're out he can easily stay up until 10-10:30 ... and he's still be up at 6:30 the next day. While it's not necessarily a normal child's schedule, it works for us, especially during the summer. Matthew has never gone to bed early, but I do hope that once school starts and we settle back into routine we can get him in bed by 8pm ... likely his naps will shorten on their own then, altho he does seem to be the kind of kid who likes/needs his naps.
As for some other things. Matthew still rides a tricycle and has just figured out how to use the peddles instead of pushing himself along on the ground. Overall he still prefers the ground over the peddles. While the girls were both on two-wheelers with training wheels by now (and Rebecca was learning without training wheels by 3.5 years), I don't see him on a two-wheeler this summer ... next year. Matthew likes the pool but does not really swim in it. He tends to dip himself in for a few minutes and then come to get his towel and housecoat to warm up ... and then promptly strip and put his clothes on. I can not get him into the idea of just playing in his bathing suit so he can go back in the pool again. He goes for his dip and that's enough. Everynow and then he gets into the pool and actually plays and "swims", dipping his head under and playing with the girls. It's neat to watch him when he does actually get into it.
And then there is Muddy, the dog. When Matthew goes outside Muddy must be lose and out of his pen. Matthew will ask about Muddy as soon as he asks to go outside. If Muddy has to stay in the pen for some reason then Matthew doesn't want to go out. The two do not play together all the time, but are often close together. Matthew just prefers Muddy's company. Muddy does tolerate pretty much everything that Matthew does to him. I often worry when I see Matthew bouncing on Muddy or riding his bike into the dog that Muddy will suddenly turn and pounce, but there seems to be a bond between the two. It's neat to see and I hope it stays that way.
Well I'm sure I can go on and on with things that are significant to Matthew at this age, but for now this will suffice and at least I have something written down to remind me of my little three year old. Oh they grow so fast!!