It's been so long since I last posted about what was going on in our day-to-day life, I can hardly remember what I wanted to say. I've got countless little stories and I'll tell them first and then move on to the big stuff.
When my parents were here we were talking with Elie about what her swimming class was called. She squinted and thought and finally looked at us and said "dawdlers"? It was actually called "waddlers" but I think "dawdlers" is much funnier and much more appropriate. Then we all joked about how Isaac would be the teacher (he's the KING of dawdling) and had a good laugh. Later in the visit my mother was walking with Talia and all of a sudden Talia looked up at my mom and announced "me dawdler!" It is so funny what they remember and what they repeat.
Speaking of repeating on the Thursday before my parents were leaving, Isaac was asking if they'd be picking him up from school. They sadly replied that they were leaving in the morning and wouldn't be there. He said "that sucks!" Alright, so not exactly the words we'd like him to use, but it does accurately express the sentiment we were all feeling!
We were up at the National Naval Medical Center, where we have our doctors appointments. There is a really nice book section outside of pediatrics and some naval wives club purchases books and then the kids are allowed to take one home if they like. So we were there and someone offered to the kids they could pick a book, which they wanted to do. The book that Elie picked up was titled "Jesus loves me." She says "look mom, this book plays music!" Which it did. She then proceeded to push the button and it started playing "Go tell it on the mountain." Mom, Dad and I all stifled our laughter and I told Elie that she needed to pick a different book.
Elie has been secretly practicing reading, or she knows more than she is letting on, because recently she's been reading words and spelling them correctly. (Though clearly she does not know how to read "Jesus Loves Me" nor does she know what that means.) I know that we should not push her and so I'm just trying to challenge her without being obvious about it. I also know that I need to make her reading a priority and have been doing a bad job (even before Leila's arrival) of making time for Elie to read in an environment that is laid back and focused on her success. I mean, who wants to sit and read when your brother and sister are running around, playing and being loud? She'll figure it out, I'm sure, I just have to make the time to encourage her.
Speaking of Elie, someone neglected to mention to me that five is the sixteen of pre-school. Dear Lord. I cannot even begin to explain how contrary, bossy, attitude-filled, and generally unpleasant her behavior has been these days. At first I thought it was because of Leila. But then I got to talking with my mother and with other moms at the preschool and I realize it is EVERYONE. Oh. MY. Goodness. I really don't know what happened to my sweet, compassionate, desperate to please, well behaved little girl. I guess I know she's still in there, but the constant battling is really getting old. And not only is it her, but Isaac has picking up on the constant arguing with instruction. ARGHGHGHGH. We've developed a battle plan, as it were, and we're really trying to give her one-on-one attention, reward her good behavior and quickly nip in the bud the ugly behavior. Gosh, it sounds so easy, if only it were. There are days I see the Elie on the other side of five and she is responsible, considerate, interesting and really cool and fun to be around. But on the days she is five, things get a little rocky sometimes.
Despite Elie being *five*, they are all adjusting quite well to Leila's arrival. I had stepped back from playing a large part in some roles (like bedtime ritual) so that it wouldn't be a giant shock when Leila arrived and I couldn't take part. Unfortunately, Leila is a snacker, so she nurses in little spurts, while sucking lots of air, so she needs burped quite a bit. Fortunately, the kids are thrilled that this makes me sit down for long periods and I am able to read as many books to them in a row as they want. Talia was really moving away from being *The Baby* and so I don't think she even feels terribly displaced. I do know that when Leila starts being mobile and grabbing toys that there will be an even bigger adjustment period. Right now, it is easy to love a new baby. There is all sorts of attention, mom is doing the laundry much faster so their favorite clothes are always clean, and it's easy to kiss and hold a small baby lump. Elie loooooves to hold Leila and all three kids looooove to help; undoing snaps and getting diapers are popular jobs. They also enjoy singing to Leila (though the inability of the older two to carry a tune can sometimes be overwhelming). The other day Isaac came up to me and said "Can I sing a song to Leila?" I said "Yes, of course." And he leaned over her, with his eyes half closed and in his best lounge singer impression half-whispered "I love this song. I sing it all the time. It's called.....The Wheels On the Bus." Holy cow, I could hardly keep from busting a gut. He was gesturing with his hands and had this hilarious look on his face. Whew, they are such a kick.
It was so wonderful to have my parents here for three weeks. We had such a blast. We went to the kite festival, cherry blossom festival, the park, the commissary, the library. We hiked and went caching and just had an awesome time enjoying each other. It is so hard to live so far from one another because I truly feel like my parents are in my circle of Best Friends. It is so nice to have such experienced, knowledgeable and cool people to support us! Plus we have such a good time together. It was also truly amazing to have my Mom present for the birth of Leila. The plan was for Mom to catch Leila, but in the moment I needed her more to support me. I feel slightly selfish about that, but looking back, there was no way for me to even let her go. I was physically leaning on her and in the moment of pushing out Leila it didn't even occur to me to let her go. My Dad was also a huge help with Elie and Isaac and it was so incredibly wonderful to have him here. I didn't have one worry that the kids wouldn't be cared for and given whatever they needed. Thanks Mom and Dad, you guys are amazing and I am so happy you were here! In addition to being awesome support for the birth, they cooked and cleaned and allowed me to really recuperate from giving birth. I just can't even put into words how charmed a life I lead.
Things are starting to get back to a recognizable rhythm. Mom and Dad, sadly, had to leave to go back to their lives in Oregon (what? they have lives???) and we're starting to do things as a family. Today we participated in a Northern VA Geocaching association event and did a big hike (nursing Leila in the sling was not easy) and six caches. We had a great time as a family and it felt good to be out in the world again. (They were calling Leila a *nano cacher*!) Tomorrow Elie and Isaac have school, but it is the first day since Leila was born that I'll be on my own trying to get everyone out the door. I'm a little nervous, but I'm going to try and remember that being late isn't going to hurt anyone and that I don't need to yell or get crazy while trying to leave.
Whew. I'm worn out already! ;)