About Us

There are four of Them: three girls and one boy, little stair-steps all. There are two of Us: best friends, co-parents and truly in love. The Six of us have epic adventures full of laughter and love, occasionally containing tears, but always together.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Chanukah Lights

Chanukah this year was lots of fun. The kids are old enough to understand the story and the reason for celebrating. (You mean it's not just about presents?!?!) The older three played dreidles with M'n'M's and had a blast. They ate gelt, latkes, and homemade sufganiyot (jelly doughnuts) with gusto.

We started to let them light their own menorahs, which for Dadam was a difficult adjustment to make. But they loved doing it themselves and I think they felt more involved. Participating instead of just observing makes such a difference in feeling connected.

Elie had been using a menorah she made in school, way back in the day, when she was almost three. It was a long block of wood, with 10 nuts glued on for candle holders. (The shamash had two nuts stacked together.) Elie had decorated it at school by painting it.

This year Isaac and Talia expressed an interest in having their own menorahs. So I decided that we'd do it as a project one day. It happened that I was watching some friends of ours that day, so we had six kids doing the project.

I had looked around and decided that I could make a cuter menorah, by not using the nuts. I went to the craft store and found some oh-so-cute wooden, round (with one flat side) dowel toppers. The holes were big enough that we wouldn't have to struggle to put candles in and I was sure they would look lovely on top of our 2 x 2 wooden pieces.

I hot glued the round candle holders to the menorahs, the kids had a great time painting them and we brought them to our Chanukah celebration that night! Each menorah had six candles in it, all the children had their own menorah, there were a LOT of candles.

And as the candles started burning down, Adam turned to me and said "We're idiots." Have you already seen what the problem was? I still didn't. Adam pointed out that we had placed candles into a FLAMMABLE holder. When the candles burned down, the wick would lay against the inside of the little wooden dowel toppers and catch.them.on.fire.

So we have some slightly charred menorahs. We watched them closely to make sure that they didn't catch catrostrophically on fire. Now I'm on the hunt for a solution to make the menorahs useable, but no longer flammable. I suppose it's not a holiday, if someone doesn't do something that is epic. ;-)

Monday, December 29, 2008

Contagious Control Issues

It seems that I have passed on my control issues to my children. Each of them have at least one or two things that *must* be just right in order for the world to work properly. Even Leila, at 20 months old, has issues.

For instance, she has to have her cup touching her bowl or plate when she is eating a meal. If it is not touching her bowl or plate, she will stop eating in order to grab the cup with her hands and slide it until it is touching the bowl or plate. If she uses the potty and we try to leave the bathroom while the toilet lid is still up, she freaks out and starts yelling. Same if we leave on the light and leave the room. I'm okay with the light reminder, but the lid up issue I could do without.

Elie used to "play" that she was cleaning. She would take a toy bin and organize it. Her favorite was lining up all the cars, in some predetermined order, that only she could figure out.

Isaac still has major control issues about his clothes and what he wants to wear. He doesn't like jeans. He picks his favorites and then wears them all.the.time. He often will refuse to wear something that doesn't feel right.

Talia loves dresses. She wears dresses nearly every single day. If there's not a dress and tights to wear to school, then she has a mini-freak-out and practically refuses to get dressed.

I wish I could say I don't know where they got this propensity for control-freakishness. But I do. And I'm just sorry that I couldn't keep it from being passed down to another generation. Ah well. *shrug*

Saturday, December 27, 2008

No Secrets Here

Leila was just finishing up on the potty, with Dadam's help, and Isaac came in to use the facilities. Dadam turned to the sink to wash Leila's hands and Isaac, oh-so-helpfully said, "Mommy never washes Leila's hands after she uses the potty. So wash 'em good!"

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Holidays

Ah, the holidays. The kids have had lots of fun at school learning the requisite school versions of popular holiday songs. Elie came home and sang "Jingle Bells, Batman Smells, the rest is highly inappropriate...." (sing it to yourself, it really does work in tune ;-) ) I asked her to sing it to me anyway. I wanted to know if it was so different from the version that I learned when I was in elementary school. It hasn't changed much.

Elie and Isaac both had a good time at their school "holiday" parties. I have been very pleased with how little "Christmas" stuff has come home with them. There's been plenty of red and green, but no mangers, no santa and I can live with that.

Isaac, though, seems personally offended everytime we see something decorated for Christmas. "Why is this decorated for Christmas? Do they think everyone celebrates Christmas? We don't celebrate Christmas. Do they celebrate Christmas? Not everyone celebrates Christmas." He goes through this little tirade every.single.time. I've explained many times how we live in a country where most people celebrate Christmas etc.etc, but he still seems highly irritated by being the minority.

They are enjoying Chanukah and we have had some really nice celebrations with family and friends. It's been very nice to have all the nights be non-school nights, that way we can celebrate into the night without being concerned about getting up for school the next day.

Of course, the kids are also enjoying Dadam being off work so much. And I must admit, I am too. It's so nice to have him around. We've had such fun being together as a family this break. And I'm excited to think there's another week still to go!!!

Friday, December 19, 2008

Random Report

"I think Brambleton is where you can go and get blackberries" - Isaac, observing a sign for an exit lableled "Brambleton"

Talia has been identifying letters like crazy. She points out letters when we are driving, she points out letters at the store, she points out letters on books we are reading. I'm not sure why I was so worried, she just had to come to it in her own time. Last weekend she was invited to a birthday party. (We don't go to all the birthday parties we're invited too because it gets a little excessive in preschool, but I will go to the parties of kids' who she mentions a lot.) This one was at a pump it up type place. Talia was being really brave and totally into climbing and sliding. Then she realized that I could come on with her and we spent the rest of the time climbing and sliding together. It was a blast, but the best part was the next day, when she looked up at me and said "I had such a good time with you yesterday, Mommy."

Leila has been dry for four nights in a row now and has been very reliable in undies. Monday was a day full of accidents, but since then, she's been dry. I am so, so, so, so happy to be done with diapers. Seriously. She also has had an uptick in speach again and we've added a few new words and fleshed out some others, ie she was saying "buh" for book, but now (overnight) she is saying "book".

I don't know if you are familiar with the "word jumble" often found in the comic section of a newspaper. It's a game where there are four words, each of them with jumbled letters. You have to look at the letters and determine the word. Then in each of the words there are letters you put together to make a final answer to a question. I don't know if I'm explaining this well....Anyway, there is a "kids word jumble" in our newspaper every weekend. Elie and Isaac have taken to doing it together. They are so adorable. And they are pretty darn fast at it. Last week's took them less than ten minutes to figure out; that's four words and then the final word. I think I'm going to have to find some of the adult ones online. They could probably do them.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Another One Gone

We've lost another one folks! That's right, MissElie has lost another tooth!!!! This one was wiggly for quite a while and she kept asking us to try and pull it out. I attempted to pull it out just this morning, but it wasn't until she was eating lunch this afternoon that the tooth finally let go. And she.ate.it.

She said that everyone at school was telling her the tooth-fairy would come anyway. She also said that as soon as she realized it was gone she just wanted to be with me and tell me. I think she was a little upset about it. But she seemed to have decided it was okay by the time she got home. This afternoon she wrote a note to the tooth-fairy and put it under her pillow. Everything is definitely just fine.

At bedtime, she was asking Adam if the tooth-fairy would be able to come to our house in the rain. (Currently it is pouring here and is supposed to do so all night long.) Adam suggested that perhaps the tooth-fairy drives so crazy that she can go in and out of the rain, without getting wet. Elie said "No, Daddy, the tooth-fairy drives pretty." (like, duh!)

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

It's that Time AGAIN

Yes, indeedy folks, we've had our First Major Illness of the season. Tell MommyOj what's she's won:

- a virus that runs 5-6 days long, that begins with vomiting (with more sprinkled randomly in the middle for good show) and is marked by a really, really high fever (I think our record here was a balmy 103.8, registered by MissElie)

- aforementioned virus will run through every.single.child, but not not all once...oh no, it can only happen in a graduated manner

-some severe maternal sickness, in this particular case it was an amazingly bad case of mastitis, like so bad I'd count it as the second worst case I've ever had (and I've had mastitis like 10 times...seriously)

Thank goodness I had good karma on my side and Dadam just happened to be home. I acutally made him take the day off on Friday because my fever was so high I could hardly walk to the bathroom from our bed.

Now, though we have just one holdout. The boy-child is on a rest day home from school. He still had a fever last night, but there's no sign of it today and I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he will go to school tomorrow. He certainly seems well enough today....

Children are germ magnets and germ factories. Bleaugh.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Ch-ch-ch-changes

I can hardly believe that we've been living here for almost four years. Time has flown by mind bogglingly fast. We've had two babies in this house. So many other transitions and so much growth and so much change has happened. And, as is the case as a military family, our time here is almost up.

One of the big reasons that Adam tried so hard to get this job is that we were very interested in getting an overseas assignment. Adam spent quite a bit of time over there when he was growing up and he loved it. He's talked about us getting over there the whole time we've been married! As the end of this assignment approached, he began working hard on finding a job and then getting that job. Well, it worked. We will be moving to England (Yorkshire area) in July of '09!

We have told the kids. And for the most part the ones who understand, seem very, very excited to have this amazing adventure. Though I really don't think they have any idea what kind of change this might mean for them. They were very excited about the possibility of living in a castle. (We told them we weren't going to live in one, but that we would be able to visit some.) Then they were excited about the possibility of traveling to England on a large cruise ship.

But slowly questions have started leaking out that have led me to believe that they are extremely nervous and more than a little sad about this huge transition. We've been answering more and more questions about what we are going to be bringing with us, "Will they move the kitchen cabinets?" "I am sure that we will leave our furniture." "Will we take our kitties with us?" We've been trying to answer them gently and patiently, knowing that they won't really understand until it happens.

We've also been slowly getting the house ready so that we can easily rent it when we leave. We have decided that we are going to spruce up the kitchen a little bit. We've put in some new light fixtures and put on new cabinet hardware. The last projects will be to take down the floral border that is up, paint the whole kitchen and then put new counter top on.

Last night, at dinner, we started talking about what was going to happen to the kitchen. Isaac became very upset, nay hysterical, about the idea that we were going to take down the floral border. "It is so pretty!", he insisted several times over. He was choking because he was crying so hard. Oh it was unpleasant. He asked if we were going to save the floral border. He asked if we were going to put it up in our new house in England. He cried about it for a really long time.

It was tempting to brush off his hysteria as exhaustion or hunger or any number of other causes. But it occurred to me, while he was crying, that this was a manifestation of his feeling out of control.

Recently there have been some negative developments in my life that were not of my doing or choosing, yet they affected me in a very real and deep way. One of the ways that I first tried to help myself cope, was to obsess about the details of the developments. Daily, I found myself searching for information to explain or shed light on why the developments happened. But the more I searched, the more upset I got and the less I was able to release their hold on me and begin to move forward.

And here is Isaac, stuck in a situation not of his choosing or doing. And it is a huge, life altering experience. We are leaving the only house he remembers, all his friends, the only way of life he's ever known. He has no frame of reference to consider the unknown, only that it is unimaginably scary. The changes that he fears so greatly aren't here right now, so his fear is manifests itself in obsessing over the details.

Control is so powerful, so comforting. It is so hard to give ourselves over to the idea that our lives contain developments, positive and negative, that we have absolutely no control over. So we have to learn how to control the only aspect that we can, how we react. Do we fall into a ball of self pity? Do we detour around the problem? Do we choose happiness? Do we reassess and dive in again?

I'm hoping to teach Isaac that it's okay to be scared. It's okay to acknowledge all the feelings that we have. But I also want to teach him that allowing ourselves to become mired in the details, just because it is comforting to have something to control, isn't a great way to go about life. I'm pretty sure that his control issues are something that he's going to have to deal with his whole life. I know that I'm still struggling with mine and I might just know some people who are older, and wiser, than me who are still learning to cope.

I just hope that we can take down the floral border without any more tears. Change can be good and I think the kitchen is going to look great. Even if the pretty flowers are gone.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Approaching The End of Diapers

A few weeks ago Leila started to want to have no diaper on. This is fine, of course, if she is going to do her business in the potty and not just on the floor. We started putting her on the potty and then letting her go without a diaper. I wasn't expecting anything miraculous. She is, after all, only 19 months old. But, to our surprise, when she would sit on the potty, she would almost always make something happen (even if it was only two dribbles). This indicated she clearly understood what was supposed to happen when she got on the potty! Yippee!

More and more naked time around the house ensued. We saw a definite uptick in accidents if she was wearing anything on her bottom, ie pants, a buttoned onesie, a sleeper. She was telling us when she needed to go potty and even learned to hold herself up while she was sitting on the potty.

And then we had guests in the house for Thanksgiving. I felt like it was a little less appropriate to have her naked bootie wandering around and so I pulled out the training undies, fully expecting a bunch of accidents. But it seems as though, she is moving quickly to understanding that pee and poop should happen in the potty! Huzzah!!! Just today she has alerted us everytime she needs to use the potty and made it in plenty of time to do her business.

It seems so sudden. I have to keep reminding myself that we possibly have months of accidents and back and forth about this, but then I think of missTalia who basically potty learned by herself, in less than a month. I'm pretty sure that, to avoid confusion, we are going to have to switch to undies all the time, even when we are out. Because in my experience, Elie is my data point on this one, that if switching back and forth is done, then it is easy for the kiddo to be confused and can really draw out the process. But for now, right now, today, missNoodle is downstairs in her requested undies and loving being a big-girl!

Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. I love the food, I love being together as a family and I love how it is simply about giving thanks and being together. However, it is almost impossible for us to travel during Thanksgiving. It is only four days off AND paying for six plane tickets is unreasonable for four days. So, for the most part, unless we've done something within driving distance, Thanksgiving has been a nuclear family holiday for us.

This year Adam's counsins asked if they could come visit us! What fun! Then our very close friends decided they couldn't swing a trip out west as they usually do and so they were going to be around. Adam's dad was also around and so he joined us, sharing his amazing talent for making Amazing desserts! End result was we had a bunch of people over for a marvelous, huge, delicious and thanksgiving filled day.

"I hear a ding-dong." - Talia
"You do? What does it mean?" - Me
"When I hear a ding-dong it means that our guests will have arrived!" - Talia

With four kiddos and the start of germy season as school, we had the chance of having a sick kiddo. And we did. Poor Talia got a fever Tuesday night and has had it since. Thankfully with some modern chemistry working for us, she felt mostly decent. It would have been much nicer if everyone had felt 100%, but at least we didn't have to cancel.

Last week Elie brought home, from school, a very cute project idea for thumbprint turkey placecards. She asked if we could make them and I said sure. On Saturday she sat down, wrote a list of who was going to be here and proceeded to create 13 super cute thumbprint turkey placecards! She did it all by herself and did a lovely job. It definitely added to the festive feeling of our table.

I tried to make life a bit less hectic by making a bunch of stuff on Wednesday. It really did help. Thursday felt like constant work, but it wasn't crazy and there was plenty of time to visit and even a little time to relax.

Dinner was amazing. Everyone contributed something and we all enjoyed the fruits of our labor. Of course, the kids didn't want to eat much. It was all too exciting. Isaac had been telling me for weeks that he wasn't going to eat Turkey because he doesn't like it. I don't actually know if he ended up eating any or not. Adam and I decided ahead of time that we weren't going to worry about what they ate. It worked out just fine.

It was a marvelous Thanksgiving, full of reasons why we should give thanks. And for that I am thankful!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

T is for Talia

When Elie and Isaac were about 15 months old, they became obsessed with books. Anytime anyone sat down, they wanted you to read to them. They would sit and look at books for quite a while on their own. We would read the same books, over and over and over and over to them, until we were sick and tired of reading them. Talia, however, was a different duck. She never did get interested in books. Oh, she'd semi-sit through reading them, but she wasn't ever paying really close attention. And when asked what she'd like to do, she almost never picked reading a story.

I was a bit concerned. Maybe I didn't read enough to/around her. Maybe I wasn't doing everything I could to encourage a love of reading. I just wasn't sure what to do. Finally, when she was around two, books became more interesting. They still weren't her top pick, but she was starting to be able to sit through, and pay attention to, the picture books that Elie and Isaac liked to listen to when they were her age.

Now, finally, that is what she WANTS to do. She will pick five or six of them and we'll sit down and read them all at once. I can never read to that child too much. And she will become obsessed with a book and then we read it over and over and over again, until Mommy and Daddy have to veto reading it one more time.

So, when her teacher Morah. C. told Adam at the parent/teacher conference that she still couldn't identify her own name, I got a little concerned. She wasn't all that interested in books and so maybe now she's not so interested in reading, I thought. But, it turns out she's really interested and so lately we've been working a bit more dilligently on learning letters and finding them in what we read.

It's so complicated and difficult to judge, what is normal for one child, may not be for another. Does it mean they are less intelligent? That we've somehow screwed up as parents? I guess that's my paranoia; that somehow, some choice I make along the way will prevent my child from being as happy, successful, intelligent, loving a person as they could be. I think I'm going to have to learn to put that away and take heart in the fact that I'm doing the best job I possibly can, with what I have. But for now, I'm just going to take heart in the fact that MissLulu loves to read and is learning her letters.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sewing the Seeds

This summer Elie and I were in a JoAnn Fabric store and saw that they offer sewing classes for kids! She was so excited about it and so was I. We talked about doing something like that for her and the others at home. Finally, last week, we pulled out the fabric and the patterns and we cut out and sewed some pajama pants, out of flannel, for the older three!

We had such a good time! They pinned and cut (with help of course). We used the rotary cutter because the scissors were too big for their little hands. The rotary cutter was even a little difficult, but like all new skills, will get better with practice. Then we read the instructions and sewed!

I let Elie and Isaac sit and use the sewing machine by themselves, while I stood by and helped out from the side. Getting the foot pedal to the proper height was an adventure, but we figured it out. As expected, Elie was very good at keeping the machine to a slow and steady speed, but Isaac was a bit of a wild-man. They each did a GREAT job of feeling the machine and letting it do some of the work while guiding the fabric through. Talia sat in my lap while I pushed the pedal and she helped me guide the fabric.

Of course, Talia did loose interest about halfway through. Then Isaac peeled off for a while and then came back. But Elie stuck with me the whole time! (Of course, all of that is completely age appropriate.) It was so much fun, I want to do another project with them. They loved the outcome and each have been enjoying wearing their pajama pants (every night!).

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Presence of Presents

Last night, the tooth-fairy put a note under Elie's pillow. It said that the cat was chasing her and prevented her from leaving a present and taking the tooth. Tonight she'll be back to make the trade. She also left the dollar coin because she was feeling guilty and ill prepared. (No wait, that's me....)

In this house, the tooth-fairy leaves presents and not (usually) money. When I was growing up our tooth fairy also left presents. It was a tradition that was different and personal and so it is one that this tooth-fairy has chosen to continue. It was something that always made the tooth-fairy exciting and interesting. We never knew what we'd find under our pillows. It is possible that our tooth-fairy didn't want to pay us for something that happened naturally. Or that our tooth-fairy liked to spoil us, just a bit. Or that our tooth-fairy felt like everyone did money and that she (they) wanted there to be a different focus on loosing teeth. I don't really know.

I do know that this tooth-fairy likes the present idea for all those reasons, and possibly more. I scrambled and saved the play this time. I found some little toys that I think Elie will love. And tonight, while she is dreaming her sweet dreams, Adam and I will gently reach under her pillow. We will slide out the envelope, that she decorated and wrote her note on, and leave her some surprises.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Tooth Fairy-ness

Yesterday:


Today:

Notice what happened between yesterday and today? Yes, that's right, Elie got dressed. Oh, no? That's not it? Okay, okay. She lost her first tooth EVER!

She actually had three loose teeth (before this one fell out) and we'd been getting regular wiggly-tooth updates. I was sure we had another week or so before any of them fell out,but I wanted to make sure we caught a picture of her before she lost any teeth. So last night Adam took a picture of her pretty, baby-teeth-filled smile.

Then today she came home and said that it was really wiggly. I told her that I'd give pulling it a try, if she wanted. I grabbed a tissue and wrapped it around the tooth and POP! out it came. There was a very tiny bit of blood and it took very little force, so I'm sure that it was ready. She was really excited and, I have to admit, so was I.

But there is one little, eensy-weensy problem. The tooth-fairy wasn't prepared. And the tooth-fairy's partner in crime is out of town this evening. Uhhhh....crap. I tried to prepare Elie for the idea that maybe the tooth fairy wouldn't be coming the first night. She didn't take it that well.

I've since devised another plan involving leaving a glitter filled note and a scagawea dollar, thereby buying me time to get a tooth-fairy gift tomorrow. I hope it works because it would SUCK to ruin the magic this early in our tooth-fairy careers. I've got three more kids to get through.....

Monday, November 3, 2008

Crib-less

Leila is still nowhere near to sleeping through the night. It has gotten a little tiresome. She is almost 19 months now and I'm ready for it. She was waking up and calling "mama, mama, mama" for me from her crib. Sometimes it took longer for me to wake up than others, but once I did, I'd go in, get her and bring her into bed with us. We all were sleeping fairly well and she was getting what she seemed to need.

Adam and I had a discussion about how best to encourage her to sleep through the night. I am totally fine with the idea of just patting her back to sleep when she wakes up but we have one really big problem. She will. not. go back to sleep if it is Mommy that comes in to pat her. When Adam goes in, she cries briefly and goes back to sleep. When Mommy goes in, she cries and cries and cries and cries and cries. It's not pretty.

I finally decided that she, clearly, still needs the nighttime nursing, but I'm tired of retrieving her from her crib in the middle of the night. So, on Friday I took apart her crib. The intent was that I would nurse her to sleep while laying with her on her mattress, then in the night when she woke up, she could just walk into our room and get us.

The first night, I barely slept until she came wandering in. I just kept imagining her wandering downstairs or getting lost in the house or hurting herself accidentally or countless other highly improbable scenarios where she ended up hurt/upset. The second night I dozed until she walked in and last night I actually slept until she showed up. Then I scooped her up, brought her into bed with us, nursed her, and we both went back to sleep.

I'm not really sure how this is going to help her sleep through the night, but it has already made a difference in what time she was first waking up. It does seem weird though, and maybe a little sad, to be done with the crib for the last time.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Happy Halloween!!!

Last night we participated in the annual walk-around-the-neighborhood-and-ask-people-for-candy-while-dressed-up-in-funny-costumes tradition, also known as trick-or-treat. The kids had a great time and we got PLENTY of candy even though we were only out for about half an hour or so. Leila was confused and not a big fan (of course, it was past bedtime and she was tired) and everyone else had a great time. No one liked the *scary* houses and we tried to avoid them. We had a flamingo, a scuba diver, a "white fairy that flies up to the sky" and a CareBear (who wouldn't wear her hat *shrug*). I bet you can tell which is which. ;-)



Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Scary Faces

Last night before our guests came over, we were talking about lighting the jack o'lanterns. Isaac randomly said to Adam, "Do you think they'll be scared of my face?" Adam and I both glanced at each other, knowing that he was referring to his PUMPKIN's face, but appreciating the humor of the unintended double meaning. We assured him that our guests would be scared of "his face!"

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Pumpkin O'Lanterns

With the fall season upon us, the Bigs started asking if we could make jack o'lanterns. I didn't see any good reason why not and so we went out to a pumpkin patch and the older three each picked one pumpkin to carve. What I was not so sure of, was how we were going to get the pumpkins carved satisfactorily without the loss of digits. I had pretty much made up my mind that there was no way they were going to get their hands on a knife, but I didn't know how to get their artistic vision onto the pumpkin in an easy-for-Adam-to-carve manner.

Adam and I decided that we would let the kids draw faces on their pumpkins and then (under their direction) Adam would carve out the faces. So here's what they drew (they appear in age order):


Totally cute right? You can see that Talia didn't quite get the concept, but Elie really did, and Isaac is somewhere in the middle of those two. But still, Adam definitely had his work cut out for him.

He did a great job though and the kids were thrilled with how they turned out. We cut a hole in the bottom and they removed the seeds and stuff. Even Leila helped out!

This evening we had dinner guests and so we put the jack o'lanterns on the front porch and put little tea lights in them. They turned out oh-so-cute. Happy Fall Days!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Talkies

(Okay, this actually happened on Friday, but it's been crazy and I didn't make time to write this until Sunday, but I'm going to use the trickery of the internets and make my post date say Friday....I'm a cheater, I know it.)

Today Leila had two really cool firsts. They probably will seem anticlimactic when written down because they are only a few words, BUT they are firsts and deserve to be documented.

Adam was out of town and so we were having a conversation with him on the phone. First Talia talked to him and then Leila wanted to talk. Usually, she just listens, doesn't say much of anything, nods her head a few times and then says "bye". But this morning she said "hello" as soon as she put the phone up to her ear and then answered the questions that Adam asked her with some emphatic "yeahs"! At one point she felt some question needed more than a yeah, so she started some of her nonsense talking in a very sincere tone as though she were actually saying something that made sense to the rest of us. Then she told Adam "bye bye" and handed me the phone! It was her first real conversation on the phone!!!

Then she said her first two words strung together. She pointed to her ear and said "hello, daddy"! She had never strung two words together to make a sort-of-sentence before, so it was totally fun to have two firsts right about the same time.

She certainly is making strides in the talking department. She also started saying "challah" on Saturday. Language learning is so fun and so amazing. I'm not sure who is having more fun seeing her develop, me or the big kids!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

PlayDates

Today we had a little neighbor girl over to our house to play. She is also in kindergarten and Isaac spent an afternoon over at her house a few weeks ago. They had a great time then, so we thought we'd try it again, this time at our house.

Well, it was interesting to say the least. In the beginning, Talia totally dominated E.'s attention. Isaac could hardly get a word in edgewise. So he wandered off and played by himself for quite a while. Then we had lunch and I threw them in the backyard together. That seemed to bring everyone to the same game.

When they were inside though, E. was playing with a little Diego and started singing "Diego, Diego the Rescuer. Going to the Island of Acidophilus!" (So my kids aren't the only ones who repeat stuff they've heard other places!)

I did see the future, though, and we are going to be (if we aren't already) the weird family. When I served whole grain bread sandwiches and some carrots. Miss E. said "Oh, I don't like bread with nuts and I don't like carrots." Then I offered milk or water and she said "Don't you have any juice? I don't like milk or water. " I just laughed and told her nope. We aren't even *that* crunchy and we're still out there enough to be weirdos!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Keep Your Hands to YOURSELF

Isaac recently has gotten way overboard with Leila and touching her. He constantly wants to be in her face, giving her hugs, holding her arms or other torture-like ways of physical contact. The other day I walked into the bathroom and he was knocking on her head, like one would knock on a door. Except he was doing it to her head. Worse, was that she was just standing there while he did it. Today he got home and laid down on her while she was sitting on the stairs and then, in a fit of non-impulse-control-mania, pinched her cheek from jawline to cheekbone. ARGHGHGHGHG.

I have asked him to keep his hands to himself. I have asked him to leave Leila alone. I have used stronger words and tone and punitive action to see if I can get through to him. But it doesn't seem to be sinking in. So I told him tonight, that starting tomorrow, whatever he does to Leila, I'm going to do to him. We have talked at length about respecting space, respecting bodies, etc etc etc. None of it seems to be doing any good.

I'm not even sure what the heck is going on. He doesn't do this kind of stuff to Talia or Elie. He really seems to like Leila, so I don't think it is a case of rivalry or hard feelings. He talks sweetly to her, invites her to play with him, wants to help her and tries to make sure that she is alright. But then I catch him abusing her! I think it's just more impulse control stuff, but what is the right way to impress upon him that he really must keep his hands to himself????

Friday, October 17, 2008

MIA Mommy

Today will not go down in history as my best Mommy Day ever. In fact, it may become legendary from its badness, though I certainly hope not. Elie will recover, in fact, she already has started to, but my guilt (like most serious MommyGuilt) is not easily assuaged.

I was exceedingly busy today, buzzing from here to there; there was a lot of stuff to get done and not much time to do it. I barely made it home in time to get Isaac off the bus. Then it was back to busy and then off again to pick Talia up.

After I picked up Talia, things were finally slowing down. We stayed at the school to briefly play on the playground and then we headed to the Home Depot to pick up a light bulb or a new light fixture. I wasn't paying attention to the time at all and we took our time in the store. When we got out I realized that I was going to be getting home right when, or very soon after, Elie got off the bus.

Elie and I had talked about what would happen if I wasn't home when she got off the bus. She knows the code to get into the garage door. We talked about her letting herself in, shutting the door and just hanging out until I got home; which I assured her would not be long. So as I was driving home and realizing that I was certainly going to be arriving after her, I was thinking that everything would be fine.

Then I my phone rang. "Is this Elie's mom? I'm L. and M.'s Grandmother. I'm with her here outside your house and she says you aren't home and the door is locked." I assured the grandmother that I was very close to being home (I was literally a mile away) and that Elie knew the code to the garage and could let herself in. When I pulled into the driveway the grandmother was just leaving and H., a fifth-grader from the neighborhood (who is a safety officer at the school and a stand-up kid), was standing outside the garage while Elie stood inside the garage. I said thanks to H. and she headed home.

And then poor Elie burst into tears. "Why weren't you home? The door was locked. I was scared and I didn't know where you were. Why weren't you home????" Oh no. I was not where I should have been, where I was expected, where I would give safety and security and love. I.have.failed.

I was sure that she was going to be alright. She always acts older than her years. She has such a solid head on her. She wants to be in charge and be the boss and do her own thing ALWAYS. She doesn't need me to provide her with input, doesn't want me to tell her what to do or give suggestions or, or, or....

Tonight we talked about it. In depth and at great length. Now she is excited for her chance to come inside by herself and call me on the phone to find out where I am and when I will be home. She is still nervous about me not being home, but she's also excited about doing things all by herself.

As for me, I'll make sure that someone is home to meet her, every single day, no matter what. I feel an incredible amount of guilt about the whole situation. How frivolous of me to not pay attention to what time it is. How ignorant of me to not be able to judge what she can handle and what she can't. She is six, not fifteen or eleven or even eight.

We snuggled for quite a while and then she didn't leave my side for half an hour or so once we got into the house. But after that she was her same old self. And then we were back to clingy when it was time for bed. I just feel so guilty. And I wish I got a do over.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Night Of Literacy

Tonight was Elie's First Grade "Literacy Night." It is an evening when the parents come and get to see what the reading/spelling program is for the first grade and how it is implemented. I didn't go to Kindergarten Literacy Night last year, or this one, and I figured that it was important I showed my face so that the teacher understands that we are involved. Adam's Dad came and stayed with the kids so that I could go.

It was interesting in some ways, but I think it was really aimed at getting parents who are not involved, more involved. And I guess this is the age old issue with school. It's not a place you send your kids and they are taught everything they need to know and then they come home to you, with you having done nothing at all. I was raised in a house where this was not the opinion and, as a result, I realize the importance, necessity even, of learning and teaching outside of school.

So there I was, listening in. Another mother, who I am an aquaintance with, asked me how things were going and I said it was fine. She has two older children and I made some comment about how she must be hearing the same things for the third time. And she disgustedly replied "Yeah, it's the same problem everytime. They aren't going to teach my child how to read, I have to." She was practically spitting angry.

I was disgusted. Here these teachers are working with 18 other students and all their assorted behavioral problems, personality quirks, language issues and other various and sundry time draining stuff and still managing to teach. They already have plenty to teach these children, why shouldn't it be the responsiblity of the parent to take care of SOME OF THE TEACHING?????

I am thrilled with what I learned today. They are able to tailor the reading and word study programs to the level of the individual student. This means that they aren't just teaching to the lowest common denominator; my child will get the challenge that she needs.

All in all, I'm glad I went. My child's teacher is working hard and I am too. Come to think of it, so is Elie. And I am darn proud of her!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Teaching "Art"

At the elementary school they have a PTA sponsored contest called "Reflections." Every year they have a theme (that they also have a contest for creating) and then the students create a piece of music, dance, photography, film, literature or visual arts that reflects the theme. Elie heard about it on announcements at school and decided that she wanted to participate. The theme this year is "Wow!"

So we kicked around some ideas. First she wanted to do a painting of herself, in a dress, in front of some trees. "Alright," I said, "How is that 'Wow!'?" She didn't really have any idea. So then I suggested that she could use a camera and take some pictures. She wanted to have Isaac pose while saying wow. Hmmmmm. How the hell to explain this? Then she wanted Isaac and Talia to do tricks, while saying wow. Uhhhhh. Then she got the idea to take a picture of the massive tomato plants that are currently taking over the side of the house. The tomato plants are amazing and they are really big, but I just wasn't sure how they conveyed "wow".

I wasn't really sure of ANYTHING. I don't know what "wow" is. I don't understand how/what anyone would create that would reflect "wow". The things I think are "wow" are things like love, happiness, a great hike, amazing scenes in nature. How the heck do you make art representing those things????!?!?!?! I suppose this is why I am not an artist. Because I don't understand art.

I understand what I like. I understand why a painting or photograph appeals to me, or doesn't. I can even articulate those feelings. But I can't explain to my six year old or my husband what makes "art" and how the photographs we take, or paintings we paint, reflect some predetermined theme.

It was an extraordinarily painful process for me. We finally settled on explaining that photographers take a whole bunch of pictures of lots of different things and then from those photos, they decide which one(s) are the best visual representation of what they are looking for.

She took many photos. And lots of them are cute. And what she decided to print and submit is a picture of some pretty neat, large, orange mushrooms that appeared in our backyard. I don't know if it is "wow!" but she is proud of it and happy with the way it turned out.

But I still don't know how to explain "art" or creating it. And I feel like I've somehow missed the creative process that could have been explored in doing this project, but I don't, for the life of me, know how to grasp it, teach it and learn from it myself.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Huh?

We were just sitting at the table eating lunch. Isaac was announcing that he didn't want to eat anything that came from outside. Talia said "What about tomatoes?" Well, Isaac hasn't been eating the tomatoes that we grew in our garden and I said, "Isaac won't eat those. Why don't you like those tomatoes, Isaac?"

"Well, I'm not related to them. So I don't want to eat them because I think they are yucky."

Monday, October 13, 2008

Cut It Off

Today Elie got a small nick on her finger and it was oozing just a small amount of blood. She was going on and on about it, showing it around to each of the other kids. We were sitting at the table and she started in with it again and showed it to Talia. Talia looked at it and said "Well, we will certainly have to cut your finger off!"

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Two on Two Wheels!

Now for a momentus announcement: Isaac can ride his bike all.by.himself!!!!!!! Yes indeedy, dody, the boy child is a two wheeled manaic. He's been working on it for quite a while now and we'd been taking weekly trips where Adam would work with Isaac and I would push Talia and Leila in the stroller and Elie would ride her bike. But on Friday, we had to take a walk down to the mechanics to pick up Odz (the van) and Isaac rode his bike!!! (Elie rode hers too.)

He still needs a bit of help starting, but he is quickly figuring out the mechanics of that. But he can stop by himself and once he's started, he can go. The other thing he's still getting comfortable with is the idea that every action makes an equal and opposite reaction. When he starts to pedal hard, the force of the forward momentum catches him off guard and he starts to swerve wildly around. It is funny/frightening all at once; funny because it looks like he is completely out of control in a maniac way and frightening for exactly the same reason. While we were on our walk on Friday there was a jogger coming toward us. We yelled to Isaac to stay on the right side of the path, so he began to swerve to the right side. Then he started to loose control and swerved again, but this time to the left and nearly clipped the jogger who had, by this time, moved off the pathway to avoid being hit by Isaac! We still have *some* learning to do, but it is mostly fine tuning. At least we know he has the skill!

It was so much fun to see Elie and Isaac riding their bikes together. I have exremely fond memories of riding my bike around our neighborhoods with my sister. We had such good adventures! It gave us such a sense of freedom and speed, allowing us to explore and learn. Just seeing them ride together made me happy that they are starting on that path too.

Monday, October 6, 2008

On Going Goings On

Okay, okay. It's been too long since the last update. I just feel like there's the same old stuff going on day in and day out and it's just boring to write about. Or I'm too busy (lame excuse) or I fall asleep with the kiddos (more along the lines of what actually happens). At any rate, life here is doing its thing.

"Where is God?" - Talia
"Well, God is in the trees and the sky and the ground." - Adam
"So, if we dig in the ground, we'll find God!" - Talia
"We'll find God everywhere." - Adam
"And if we dig in the ground we'll find worms!!!" - Talia

Now that the weather has cooled off a bit and we are finding ourselves outside a lot more, Leila has decided that she is too big for the baby swing. But she LOVES the regular swing. She typically does pretty well on it, but sometimes she forgets that she ought to be holding on to it with two hands. Swinging on a swing becomes much harder when you let go with one hand and wave that hand around. She's only taken one digger and she managed (somehow) to land on her feet. She still only will swing on the regular swing, so I guess the need to keep up with her siblings is greater than her fear of falling off the swing.

Speaking of keeping up, Leila is doing all she can in that department. She is learning new words daily and new ways of communicating. Unfortunately, she's also picked up on the attention seeking behavior and has been experimenting with hitting, screaming and grabbing toys from her siblings. To wit, she learned how to say "sorry" today. Oh my.

Talia, too, has been experimenting with the attention getting behavior. If she cannot get Elie or Isaac to play with her, she attempts to make them play around her or through her or to not play at all.

Of course, it's not always bad behavior. I shouldn't even pretend like it is. It just is so hard to deal with the bad behavior that I find myself focusing on it. The kids do have plenty of time where they all play very nicely with each other. They play pretend police, teacher, marrying, garbage truck, doctor, old man, new baby, kitty etc etc etc. And when they get involved in a game of pretend it gets pretty involved and everyone has a place and a part to play.

We have seen an uptick in the physical, however. Elie and Isaac have been experimenting with pushing (blarg), kicking each other (double blarg) and other less than desireable behaviors. My favorite is this "well he/she did it to me first". This is not a reason for retaliation. Really.

Today Isaac kept throwing toys that were not throwing toys and then he broke one. I got upset and was lecturing him about it. I was getting ramped up and said to him "What do you need to do BEFORE you throw the toy?" and he looked at me and said "I need to think about what might happen before I act." I was speechless. He really has been listening. He doesn't actually *think* before he acts (or at least it doesn't seem that way) but he does know that he *should*.

Elie has finally settled into school (we were having some major issues with another girl in the class who decided that Elie was the one to pick on, but they seem to have been ironed out, it's a good thing that Elie has a masterful sense of how to ignore people) and is having a great time. She's being pulled to the reading specialist for advanced reading (yippee a challenge!) and is otherwise enjoying all the fun extra stuff they get to do in first grade that they didn't have time for in kindergarten. She loves spanish, PE, art, music and other fun "extras"!

Both she and Isaac started their "enrichment" (aka homework) programs today and it was fun to see them both sitting at the kitchen table working on schoolwork. How studious and enthusiastic they were. I'll have to keep a mental picture of that for later in the year, when doing homework is like pulling teeth.

I'm not sure what other random news is out there. Leila has stopped sleeping long stretches at night and is now back to waking at eleven and demanding to nurse for the rest of the night. If Adam can get to her, he can pat her back to sleep with very little trouble, but she will NOT accept me trying to pat her. And even when Adam does get her back to sleep, she awakens again within a couple of hours. I'm sure she'll sleep in her own bed and through the night before she gets into college.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

He's Fuuunnyyyy

Elie and Isaac are having a great time riding the bus together in the morning. It's really sweet to see them walk towards the waiting bus, holding hands, ready for the day. They always sit together and wave out the window as the bus leaves. And I think it's been really good for both of them to come home at different times. They each get to experience riding on the bus, all by themselves, and that is a good thing.

I often ask Elie who she sat next to on the bus ride home. She mostly was reporting that she was riding home with another first grade girl. But then....

One day she told me that Mitch sat next to her on the bus. Oh that Mitch, she said, he's so fun to sit next to and he calls another girl some silly names, even though he knows her name. Ha ha ha. Well, I happen to find Mitch a bit irritating. He is pretty obnoxious. So I said, "Mitch seems to be a little wild. Why did you want to sit next to him?" And she answers, "He's soooo funnnnnyyy!". (wild giggling followed this annoucement).

Ah and so it begins. I'm not really sure I'm ready for this.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Today He Is One Hand!


Yes, the boy-about-town, Isaac, turned five today. And what a day it was. He got to bring brownies to school to celebrate with his class. (He requested brownies and I spruced 'em up a bit with crumbled oreo's. He said it was a good surprise.) While at school he got a crown, which he was wearing when he got home and proceeded to wear the rest of the day. (I'm not kidding.) He got to play with his sisters outside for most of the afternoon and then the day was capped off with a delicious birthday dinner of mac'n'cheese, salmon patties and freezer vegetables, opening presents and a transformers birthday cake. (see above) The cake was exactly as he requested it. "I want a transformers birthday cake, with transformers on the top that I can take off and play with." (I was concerned in the beginning that he wanted a cake in the shape of a transformer, the reality was much less detailed - thank goodness!)


I teased him most of the day about there not being any cake. He took it well. At one point we were discussing it and he said "There's no way there is none cake for my birthday, Mom!"

And now he's five. He's so big and so smart. But this birthday doesn't seem like such a transition. He's started school and it just seems like a natural extension of that beginning to have this birthday and be a new, bigger age.

I don't think I ever wrote down this boy's birth-day story. So once again, if details about a human entering earthside bothers you - don't read any further. And don't worry, after I write Elie's in the spring there won't be any other birth stories to tell. ; )

When I got pregnant with Isaac we weren't sure where we were going to deliver. I knew that I did NOT want to deliver at a hospital. But there were very few options in Colorado Springs at the time. There were a few direct entry midwives and that was about it. We really didn't know what to do. Then our friend told us that she was starting a practice that was going to do homebirth. And she offered to be the attending at our birth. Adam was still not sure about the whole homebirth situation, so we said we'd think about it.

Then Adam got deployed. It was a voluntary deployment, but he was going to be gone for three and a half months. He was scheduled to get home about three weeks before the baby was due. So we put off the decision about where we were going to deliver and focused on making plans for Elie and I during Adam's deployment.

The short story is that Elie and I took the three cats and dog and drove to Oregon with my father to live with my parents while Adam was gone. It was marvelous to be with them and hard to be away from Adam, but we managed. A week before Adam was coming home Dad and I drove back to Colorado and got Elie and me settled back at home.

As soon as Adam got home we realized we had a care issue. Where was I going to deliver? Who was going to take care of me? Several trips to the civilian OB practice I had been sent to for care convinced me that unless my life or the baby's was in danger, I did NOT want them touching me. So we decided to take Tracy up on her offer of attending the delivery. I was still very nervous about birth. Could I really do it? I had had an epidural for Elie's delivery, would I be able to handle labor? Would I know when I was in labor soon enough to call the midwife? She was coming from Denver, would she make it in time?

Adam had two weeks off work, which was lovely. He got readujsted to living with a toddler and Elie and I got reajusted to living with him and in our house again. Then he went back to work. I was still 12 days from my due date.

Then 10 days from my due date, I woke up and didn't feel all that well. I was just draggy and tired and I just didn't feel good. In the early morning I lost a large chunk of mucus plug. In the early afternoon I lost an even larger chunck of mucus plug. Elie went down for a nap and I laid down to get some rest, but I couldn't get comfortable and started having some light contractions. I called Adam to come home because they were starting to get a little more intense and I wanted him to take care of Elie. He came home and I hung out in the shower, then out, then back in. While I was in the shower I became convinced that my water had broken, but my contractions did not pick up at all. We called Tracy and she said that it could be a while still. She was planning on having dinner with her family and then she would head down. We made the bed and started setting up the water tub. (I was going to try and have a water birth.) I was still having regular contractions, but I was still talking through them and feeling alright. We called my parents at some point and my mom said that she was getting on a plane as soon as she could. Then my contractions started to pick up. First I walked during them and then I started sitting in the lazy-boy and rocking through them. The contractions would be really intense and then move to less intense, but there was never a break in between. I was dealing with it by zoning out and just letting the contractions happen. It was very surreal and I still feel like I was having an out of body experience. Adam fed Elie dinner and got her to bed. I remember her coming up to me and rubbing my knee, but Adam just explained what was going on and she took it in stride. I also talked to my Mom while she was waiting to take off. At that point, I did not think she was going to make it to the birth.

Contractions became more intense and I moved upstairs. I tried to get in the tub, but our water heater couldn't keep up and the water was cold and not very deep. I got frantic and hopped out. I sat on the toilet and moaned. I remember telling Adam that I needed Tracy to get there soon, I didn't think I was going to be able to do this much longer.

Tracy and her assistant arrived. I told Tracy I couldn't do it and she said "But, Olivia, you are doing it. Your body is doing it." We moved to the bed and Tracy checked me. It was so uncomfortable to be laying back on the bed. Tracy suggested I try and push, but I wanted to stand up.

I stood up and grabbed the edge of the birthing tub. I pushed once and my water broke (for real this time) and gushed everywhere. I pushed again and out slid Isaac Uri. 8lbs 3oz, 21 inches long. It was 9:02 pm. The first words I said were that I wasn't cooking for the bris. I guess I wanted everyone to know that. I sat back and I held him in my arms. He had a huge bruise on his head. And he had a head full of fine, bright red peach fuzz. He was perfect.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Garden Goodies!

We planted a garden again this year. I decided that I wanted to use heirloom seeds, which are rumored to give better tasting yield. So we picked cantaloupe, tomatoes, peppers, carrots and strawberries. I also was exceptionally lazy and we just put the seeds in the ground and let what was going to grow, grow.

It worked fantastically! Our tomato plants are taking over the side of the house, but we are daily picking yellow, purple, red and pink tomatoes. They all have fantastic flavor and the kids love to spot the ripe ones and then eat them in mass quantities. The carrots have also been a huge success. We planted orange ones and a red variety. They are delicious and the kids love to help pull them out of the ground. Thus far we have gotten three cantaloupe off of our vine, one of which was not ripe yet. But the other two were quite yummy. There are still two more growing and we'll see if we get to enjoy those or not. The strawberries are still going strong, although I didn't give them enough room and so they haven't been prolific. We've had just a few to nibble every now and again. Maybe next gardening season we'll be able to get some good strawberry plants going. The one failure we did have was the pepper plants. They don't seem to be faring very well, though the plant does keep growing. I'm not sure what to make of it. I'm not too worried about it though because everything else was such a smashing success!

I really enjoy gardening with the kids. They are full of questions, observations and excitement. It makes me so happy to see them totally enjoy learning about where our food comes from and how it gets to our table. I'm making a garden a goal of ours, no matter where we are, from here on out. It doesn't get any more satisfying than growing some of your own food!

Monday, September 8, 2008

School For Three

Today I took Talia for her first ever day of school. She is going to the same three day program that both Elie and Isaac attended, thrived in and loved. It's someplace she is completely familiar with, as we've go there for school and for synagogue. All in all, it is the best of situations.

She's been talking about school for weeks now, actually months. When we arrived home from Oregon the first morning when she woke up, the first words out of her mouth were "Today are we getting me some school shoes?" She was excited. And I was pretty sure she was ready.

But last night there was some anxiety. She "had some tears" about going to school. And in the night she had an extremely vivid dream that Isaac (and Isaac's green hat) got washed down the drain. This morning we vascilated wildly between being so excited that we could hardly stand still and having "more tears and some sad" about going to school. Truth be told, I wasn't sure at all about what was going to happen when we walked into school and I kissed her goodbye.

So we all piled out of the car (I'm watching Graham and Dean this week while Ping does some work down here) and walked inside. I gave her a hug and a kiss and off she went, busy opening her backpack and getting settled with her teacher. I wanted to linger. I wanted to hang around in the hallway and watch her. I didn't want her to just be okay while I walked away from her. I wanted her to miss me while other people got to listen to her, pay attention to her, learn with her and enjoy her cuteness. But I also wanted her to know that she would be okay; that she could navigate her little world without me. I wanted her to be secure in the fact that I would come back to pick her up.

It was hard to leave. I missed her chattering and observations. I missed snuggling her and holding her soft hand. But then I got to pick her up. And I got to hear all about her day. "We had lunch and played on the playground and did music and had lunch and played on the playground!" (You can tell what made an impression....later I did hear that she played with the farm in her classroom.)

So it goes. She was ready. She had what she needed from us; when she was littler she was secure in the knowledge that she was safe to explore because we were there. And when it was time, we had the strength to step back.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Oh My....

Some of us, in this family, have a bit of a temper problem. Alright, alright, you guessed it, I'm the one between Adam and I who has this issue. So it should come as no surprise to me that some of our children lean towards my disposition. And it is no surprise that every child goes through a stage where they experiment with temper-tantrums, some of them grow out of it and some of them just don't. Elie and Talia both went through the stage and emerged from the other side. Isaac went through the stage and some of it stuck with him. Leila seems to be headed to the start of the stage and I think she's the worst I've seen.

For a while she was just screaming when she didn't get her way. We've now progessed to the full blown, fling our body, throw back our head, bang our head on the floor, hit, flail, wail and gnash our teeth stage. Oh My......

If, for instance, I need to move her physically from one place to another and she decides that she doesn't want to do that, then her legs turn to jelly and she becomes magically unable to walk. If I decide that she needs to sit in my lap, she throws herself around, desperately trying to fall out of my lap. (Yesterday at the drs office she threw her head backwards and hit it on the arm of the chair. I had very little sympathy for her.) She will often, when we tell her no, throw herself to the floor, lean forward and bang her forehead on the ground. Lovely, no?

I don't want to give in to it because I really, really don't want these behaviors to stick around. I just hope she moves through this stage quickly. I dislike it to the extreme.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

It's That Time Again

The alarms went off, the children leapt out of bed (well, not really, Elie did, but Isaac just laid there while his alarm went from beep beep to "hurry up and wake up and turn me off before I blow up" mode), breakfast was eaten and off we went to the bus stop!

Elie was excited but guarded. New experiences leave her feeling overwhelmed, in the beginning, and this was no exception. Isaac was beaming, ear to ear, and so happy to *finally* be going on the bus to school. There was a brief moment where a flicker of concern passed across his face, but then the bus was there and Elie took his hand and together they walked across the street and got on to the bus. As it pulled away, I could see his face, just barely poking above the window, smiling his huge smile, excited to be experiencing school, the universe and everything.

From all accounts they each had a great day. Isaac said school was fun, but boring, and Elie just said that she loved everything and that it was all her favorite. As for me, I had a couple of tears when the kids stepped on to the bus. Some tears for my boy, who seems so small still in so many ways, but is clearly well on his way to being Big. And some tears for my girl, who I cannot believe is growing up so amazingly, right before my eyes. Summer was a fabulous time and I'm gonna miss having them around all day everyday, at least a little bit. And it is strange to think that 50% of my brood now attends public school. I'm still wrapping my head around that.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Bah - Bah - BAH!

I made a delicious dinner this evening. A yummy casserole of brown rice, feta cheese, sauteed onions and broccoli. Deeeee-licious. At least it was supposed to be delicious. It smelled good while I was putting it together. But then....it got ruined. Because I wanted to put some paprika on it. Why, you ask, did putting paprika on it ruin the delicious, healthy, lots of leftovers casserole that I created?????


BECAUSE SOME BLEEPETY BLEEP BLEEP BUGS HAD GOTTEN INTO THE PAPRIKA AND I SPRINKLED THEIR LITTLE BUG BODIES ALL OVER THE CASSEROLE.

end rant/

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thud...Back to Earth

Our last week in Oregon was magical. We had a day or two at the house and then we took off on a whirlwind vacation in our vacation. First we headed to the coast for our yurt camping. It was AWESOME! The yurts were great (warm and cozy) and the kids had an absolute blast. They spent the first hour we were there running back and forth, in and out, of the two yurts we had reserved. Then we cooked dinner over the fire (hot dogs....yummy!) and made smores. The campground was great and it was a wonderful time. We spent Friday caching and stopping by beaches along the way. It wasn't a *perfect* beach day, but we had a great time anyway. Saturday we got up and explored an aquarium and then headed to Hilary and Don's place. They took us to an amazing playground, fed us delicious pasta salad and bread, and we all laughed, and chatted and had a great time together. Sunday we hit the zoo and spent another great day enjoying each other and the zoo. It was all so much fun, it's hard to remember too many specifics. Suffice to say it was marvelous and I was sad, in many ways, to come home.

We flew home on Tuesday night and got in way, way late. The kids did great traveling; they are such professionals. We did let them run around (okay, and be loud and crazy) at the airport in Chicago and we had picked a gate where people were waiting for a plane that wasn't ours. We did get quite a few looks and I am sure that all those people breathed a huge sigh of relief when we didn't get on the plane with them. When we got home everyone was wired and we ran around the house a bit and then hit the sack.

Wednesday I noticed that Magellan wasn't doing very well. He's been slightly sick for a little while, but he seemed like he was in very bad shape. We took him to the vet; he had fluid in his abdominal cavity and was having congestive heart failure. We took him home and tried to make him comfortable. We tried to give him as much peace and quiet as we could (and as much love as he seemed he could bear) and then this evening Adam took him to the vet, where they put him to sleep. The kids have had tons of questions and some tears. But I don't think they really understand because the conversations have mostly gone like this:

Elie - "I'm sad that Magellan is dying."
Isaac - "Me, too."
Elie - "Why does he have to die?"
Me - "Because he is old and his heart is tired and it isn't working like it should anymore. So he is dying."
Elie - "I wish he didn't have to die."
Me - "Me too, Elie."
Elie - "But we should be happy that he had such a long life and that we took such good care of him. And we still have Mac and Dusti with us."
Isaac - "And when Mac and Dusti die, we can get a dog!!"

They all had a chance to say goodbye. And I know they don't understand. And I know more questions are to come. But for now I'm just going to say goodnight to our furry explorer and wish him an eternity filled with people to pet him while he nibbles on their chins, catnip and salmon to eat and as much paper and stickers to chew as he wants.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Oregon Adventures

I can hardly believe that we've been here two weeks already. Time has flown by; I know we've been busy, but it still seems unbelieveably fast. We've been to the ocean twice and once to the county fair, picked blackberries, made blackberry and blueberry jam, hiked, played, eaten and generally had a wonderful and relaxing time. My sister and her fiancee have been able to come down both weekends and my mom has been able to have lots of time off (even more than we first anticipated!).

The county fair was going on the first weekend we were here. We went in the early afternoon, so it wasn't at all crowded. There were farm animals and quilts, preserves and flowers, art and so many cool things to see. We got to pet a shetland pony and a full sized horse. There were cows, sheep, miniature goats, chickens with feathery feet and others with feathers covering their faces, tiny bunnies and bunnies with huge ears, there were even pigs that had been born the day before AT the fair; it was all interesting and completely enthralling. The kids loved the idea that other kids were responsible for raising, creating and taking care of most of what we saw. 4-H is definitely alive and well and it was really fun to share with the kids.

Here in southern Oregon, there are tons and tons of amazing hikes to waterfalls. The really nice thing is that many of them are short, a mile or less and not too strenuous. The hikes are gorgeous through forested areas with huge trees, ferns and along running water. At the end we get to see beautiful waterfalls, with assorted wildlife, and the bonus of getting to play in the water! Both times we hiked with my parents and my sister and her intended. Every kid got plenty of attention and the adults all got to be entertained by their non-stop narration and commentary. The first weekend we went to a waterfall that empties into a huge, very deep swiming hole, which then empties into another waterfall. Isaac had good company in Uncle Don regarding his rock throwing compulsion. The two of them stood and threw rocks of all sizes, for a very long time. Physics is amazing, is it not? The second hike we did last weekend and was to a waterfall that empties into a large shallow pool. It is shallow enough that I can walk, without getting soaked, to where the water falls down and touch it. GranEde and I took each kid out to the water and put them in! They all had a blast and they all were soaked when we were done; no matter, we were hiking to escape the hundred degree heat that hit Southern Oregon at the end of last week.

And we've had the opportunity to go to one of my all time favorite locations, the beach, not only once but TWICE!! Yippee. The first time we went the weather was beautiful, hardly any wind and sunny and warm. Unfortunately, when we went on Sunday the weather was cold, windy and rainy. Even the cold rainy day was tons of fun, though. Things are just better at the ocean. The kids had a blast and they really enjoyed playing in the water on the first day. They all got soaked, but Talia took the prize by being the only one to get swamped by a wave while not paying attention. GranEde was right there, though, and scooped her up out of the water. We all had a great time finding shells and meandering through the waves. On the cold day, we didn't stay long at the water, we had just gotten on the beach when it started to rain. So we drove to a nearby lighthouse. There we got to do something you can only do two places in the world (Brazil and Oregon) and that is: stick your head into a Fresnel Lens! The lighthouse is still operational and so we all got to go up the ladder and put our head inside the lens. Way cool. We did some geocaches to round out the day!

We've also been able to take advantage of some of the local agriculture. We spent one morning picking blackberries. I was quite concerned that they would have big brambles, so I made the kids wear long sleeves, long pants, socks and tennis shoes. Turns out, these bushes have been bred to have NO thorns. In addition, we picked tons of marvelous tasty blackberries, which we then made into jam. My sister brought down some blueberries from her local agriculture and we had a jamtastic time, making jamlicious jam.

Dadam joins us today, which we are all excited about. And this weekend we'll take another ocean adventure, where we will sleep in a yurt, go get delicious food, go to my sister and her intended's house and go to an aquarium! More fun for all!!!!

Sunday, August 10, 2008

One Mom, Four Kids, A Plane Across The Country

After being home from Colorado for one month (and even taking a trip to Pittsburgh during that time), the kids and I are in Oregon to visit my parents, sister and her fiancee, for three weeks. It is lovely to come out here and spend time with them. They have a huge, beautiful house, with tons of room for us all and for the kids to run around and explore. My Dad cooks during the week, spoiling me with a break from that sort of household responsibility. We go see my Mom everday for lunch and she tries to take as much time of as they will let her from her job. We do tons of fun activities and outings and cook and just try to enjoy life together.

But of course, first things first, I have to get to Oregon from the opposite coast. Dadam will eventually join us, but he cannot take 3 weeks off work. This means, that I, acting as EveryParent have to, ahem-get to, take our four beautiful children on a cross country airplane trip all.by.my.self.

I have never had them all four, by myself, on a plane before this trip. I've done three, but I hadn't done four. Now I have. It really was okay. The kids are seasoned travelers and they know how to entertain themselves, for the most part. We did have a delay in Chicago, which ended up being three hours, one of which was spent sitting on the plane in the blazing hot. But even that we survived. And went on to survive the subsequent four hour plane ride to arrive in Portland.

On the plane The Bigs love listening to the music. Consequently, the first thing they do, is sit down and fish out the headphones from the pocket in front of them. Subsequently we have a whole routine of "my headphones don't work" and "is this on?" that takes somewhere from five to twenty minutes to sort out. During that time several of the Bigs will blast their own eardrums when they finally find a station that is playing and realize (quickly) that they've managed to turn up the volume all the way. One of The Bigs will actually have a set of headphones that does not work, forcing me, EveryParent who happens to have her hands full of nursing Leila, to talk them through quickly exchanging said non-working headphones for a pair of working headphones from a seat pocket that does not belong to our ticketed seats. And several times one, or all, of The Bigs will attempt to talk to me or each other, with their headphones on; meaning that they will yell at each other, or me, because they can't hear themselves with their headphones on.

Another thing that it is important for The Bigs to check on is if the plane is still moving and still moving forward. I had no idea how to explain why it can be difficult to tell we were moving while we were flying. Or explain why it sometimes felt like we were moving backwards. Or to explain that if we weren't moving forward, we'd be falling out of the sky, which would feel much different and be really, really scary.

I'm happy that this trip will be my final one with a lap baby. Lap babies are not difficult until they become mobile. Then they are hell. All Leila wanted to do was get down and walk. She especially wanted to do this when the seatbelt sign was on, say, during take off and landing. At the end she wasn't even distractable with nursing, which is a big deal for her.

All in all, I suppose it went well. We didn't piss anyone off and I got lots of compliments on how well behaved the kids were. There was a minimum of wailing and gnashing of teeth. And now we're here. On vacation and having a great time!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

4 Little Fishes In The Sea (well, pool)

This summer we have had lots of opportunities to go to the pool. It has been very, very nice. When we first moved here I was sad that our HOA did not have a pool. It doesn't even have an agreement with another HOA so that we can use that HOA's pool. For a while, we didn't go to the pool very much. Then Elie and Isaac got old enough that I wanted to put them in swim lessons. I wanted to put them in lessons for two reasons: safety and comfort. When we started swim lessons they were petrified of the water. Elie was definitely uncomfortable and Isaac was downright scared. They both were completly unsafe.

We enrolled and started taking lessons, and bit by bit they've both made huge strides in learning to be safe in and love the water. Meanwhile, Talia and Leila have had lots of exposure to the water from an early age and are exhibiting none of the timidity that the older two had.

This summer I wanted to get Elie and Isaac into some lessons, but the only class that our busy travel schedule allowed was just four lessons long. (A usual class lasts for eight lessons.) I went ahead and registered the kids, knowing full well that it was unlikely either one would pass to the next level. (I'm not one of those moms who is vested in the kids passing. If they don't pass a level, well then, they weren't ready to. I once met a mom who had her kid registered in two different sesssions of the same level AND private swim lessons; she was so vested in making sure the kid passed. It was sick.) I figured the lessons, even if they were short, would reinforce and help them to continue learning. And since I take Talia and Leila into the water while Elie and Isaac are in lessons, it helps them get more experience too.

The first day we were at the pool, Leila must have gone under the water seven or eight times. She is fearless. In the baby pool the water comes up to her chest AND the floor slopes slightly. She refused to hold my hand and was just charging around, only to loose her footing and not be able to regain it. I was standing right there and everytime I just scooped her up and put her right again. The worst part was that she REFUSED to hold my hand. When I would put her up on her feet, she would immediately bat my hand away or try and wiggle out of my grasp. Amazingly, she never, ever, not once freaked out about going under the water. She would just gasp when I picked her up and go right back to what she was doing.

Talia was also charging around and "swimming". When we first started going to the lessons, she wouldn't put her face in. But today, we were at a friend's HOA pool, and she was putting her whole face in and floating around, face down. It was amazing. She hasn't even been in lessons, but she sure has been exploring and getting a lot more comfortable. I just love seeing her explore. Her favorite part is jumping in from the side, which she is skilled at!

So Elie and Isaac took their four lessons. At the last lesson the teacher hands you a sheet that lets you know what class level they are assessing your child as being. Elie did not change levels. BUT, the teacher was so excited about the advances that Elie had made, that she got back into the water and had Elie swim around and show me. It was amazing. Elie is now swimming, arms out, face into the water and keeping herself afloat for several feet or more. She can also float (by herself) on her back. I was blown away by the progress she had made.

Then we got to the end of Isaac's lesson. And the teacher told me that Isaac needed to....move back a level! WHAT?!?! He's managed to loose swimming ability in the four lessons that he's taken?? I don't understand. Not only has he managed to loose ability, but this was the second time he'd been in that level. I was so mad I wanted to spit. The teacher took no time to explain this to me and only responded with "well that's my recommendation." Truth is, it is just a reccomendation. She can't tell me what level to register my kid for. And I'm not even sure they keep a log of their "reccomendations." I took a deep breath and just let it go. But today, when we were at our friend's pool, Isaac pulled out the skills. In just one day, he figured out how to do a front crawl with his arms and keep his face in the water. He's swimming almost as well as Elie is!!!! It was amazing to see him so comfortable and in control. He just needed to figure it out in his own time and in his own way. He'll have no problem passing the current level the next time we have lessons.

There you have it: four little fishies. It's so cool to see them all swimming and playing in the pool. And experiencing EVERYTHING!!!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

It Was An Accident!

For a while now we've been having some issues with accidental hurtings. Yeah, you know, the contact that occurs while playing, that isn't with malice, but still causes the contactee to feel pain. The contacter always assures the contactee (and the parental units) that said contact was, in fact, accidental and that they did not, in any way intend to cause pain/harm/suffering.

You, dear reader, might see how this could be problematic. As the parental unit, it is important to teach the offspring that violence is not the answer. When life does not go your way, it is never appropriate to cause someone else (no matter how much it may be their fault) pain. Conversely, hitting (or kicking or other maliceful physical contact) is not a game or something to do for fun. So there are some base rules, that seem pretty black and white. Enter: The Accident. The Accident occurs when there is physical contact that was intendend but that has gone dreadfully awry. The Accident can also occur when physical contact is unintended, but does occur and causes pain. Either way The Accident throws a large monkey wrench into parenting during these situations.

We are finding it Very Difficult these days to address The Accident, which seems to be happening more and more around here. During our car trip, Elie, Accidentally, hit Isaac in the face with the motorcycle. The kids were having a dance party and Isaac, Accidentally, knocked over Talia. Elie, Purposefully, pushed Talia, but then Talia, Accidentally, fell down and knocked her head into the doorway. *sigh* The push was clearly wrong, but the dancing and the motorcycle feel like they are grey. It is true that there are some members of our family deeply lacking bodily awareness, but, at some point, you have to stop making excuses for Accidentally hurting others and just take responsibility.

At this juncture our biggest offender, by far, is Elie. She gets rambunctious or bossy or grabby or just doesn't think and then someone, usually not her, gets hurt. She is always remorseful, apologetic and sincerely concerned with the well being of the contactee. But I'm not sure what is really appropriate here. What is the proper attention getting device for The Accident? How do you teach bodily awareness or awareness of contact and its consequences? Conversely, is this a good time for me to re-examine *my* propensity for crashing around into things and people?

I do remember that I was in high school and still hitting my father's chin with my head while giving him hugs. It really was an Accident, not once did I intend to cause him pain. And I once, Accidentally, kicked Adam and gave him an awful black eye. It really was an Accident.

Accidents happen. I know that. But intent and outcome are complicated issues. I suppose it's best to start working on them now. Maybe it will avoid more serious Accidents in the future.

Monday, July 14, 2008

I'd Love You To Love Me

Missy Leila is quite the talker these days. Well, it probably sounds much like babble to the average listener, but there are definitely some sound patterns with word associations forming. It is amazing to hear what her little brain is processing as *important*. She'll say "meeeee" when she's hungry, because when I ask the kids who is ready to eat, they all say "me" in chorus. She says "laeelah" for Talia and "eeleee" for Elie and "eyzzzzee" for Isaac. She says Mommy and Daddy clear as day. Up is a bit more muddled, it comes out more as "hupah" or "uuuupah", but there is certainly no question about what it is that she needs when she's saying it! She has a sound for outside, "ide", and a sound for slide, "wheeee". She recently started saying "ummmy" for yummy. I know there are more, but my brain seems to be stuck right now. Suffice to say that verbal communication is progressing, quickly!

She also loves giving out loves. She regularly comes up to us and hugs our legs, or leans in for a kiss if we are sitting down. She also approaches The Bigs for hugs and loves with an intensity that is adorable. The hugs are always long and full contact and seem to be enjoyable for all parties involved.

I suppose it is no surprise that she idolizes, adores and desperately seeks to be Big just like The Bigs all day, every day. Tonight at dinner I saw her, mid-chew, seeing that Talia was taking a drink, decide that it was time to take one for herself. She likes to pick out clothes for herself, even better that they almost always come from Elie's drawers. And if The Bigs are doing something, going somewhere, eating or drinking, Leila needs to be in on the action.

Possibly even sweeter than her idolization, is their desire to include her, show her, play with her and love her right back. They are always clamoring to help her or show her. They love to help her with her shoes or hold her hand or share their snacks. They are (mostly) quiet when she goes down for her nap and always excited when she wakes up. They have learned to play with her when they can and around her when they are moving faster than she is. But they always want to be near her.

I suppose it warms my heart so, not only because that is what a parent desires for their children, but also because there is that question mark that hangs in the air whenever someone *new* joins a family. I was worried about how The Bigs would react. Would Talia feel displaced? Would Elie feel too much responsibility? Would Isaac learn to love his role if he were the only boy? Would everyone get along? Well, things are going beautifully. And I fervently hope, that these days of unconditional love and endless fun and silliness, will make a foundation for the days when life is not so rosy between my babes. I love how they love each other so completely. And I love them.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

New Pictures!

I have finally uploaded a ton of new pictures to our flickr site. So go, enjoy!

In other news, the kids are feeling better and we did, indeed, get to go to swim lessons. Everyone had fun and got nice and worn out in the water. Whopee!!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Summer Sicks

We've been home less than one week and all the kids have some sort of crappy cold. Lovely. Everyone has variations on a theme, but poor Elie seems to have taken the worst hit. She's got a nasty cough and a fever. Poor kid hardly ate anything today and didn't want to play at all. Talia and Leila just have runny noses and tiny coughs. Isaac just started getting the sore throat today, I'm guessing tomorrow will be much worse for him. Though I'm crossing my fingers that's not the case, as, you guessed it, Adam is out of town. In addition, due to our crazy travel schedule, the only swim lessons that we could do are four lessons long. I didn't think that anyone would pass their level, but it is always good to continue to work on things. But if they are all sick, we can't very well be going to swim lessons. ARGHGHGHGH. Ah well. I am a zen duck....I am a zen duck....I am a zen duck.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Fireworks On The Mall

After we got home from Colorado on Wednesday, we had a resting day on Thursday and Friday we got started adventuring again! Adam's cousin and his family were here from Arkansas, so we met them to do some sightseeing, hanging out and enjoying the fireworks. We had a great time. We started off at the Air and Space Museum annex, which is about 20 mins from our house. Then we had lunch and headed downtown on the Metro, at about 3:00. The deal with seeing the fireworks on the National Mall is that you are there with half a million of your closest friends, so you have to get down there early if you want to get a good spot.

So there we were, six hours early to the fireworks. But, no biggie, we went to the museum of Natural History and spent the afternoon visiting and wandering around there. The kids had a great time with Adam's cousin's kids and we had a great time visiting. Around dinner time we headed outside (where one rain shower had already passed through) and found a great spot to eat dinner and watch the show. We had a spot to eat and then....it started raining again. We hadn't brought any supplies (ie umbrellas, coats etc) because we were already loaded down with food and snacks for our long wait. Ah well, a little rain just adds to the adventure, right? It drizzled on and off until the fireworks started at 9:15. But it was all worth the wait! They were amazing and it was so cool to be right there, next to the Washington Monument, holding Talia (who was covering her ears the entire time) and trying to convince Leila to sit down (she wanted to touch the fireworks and kept trying to walk towards them, while giving us all an intense lecture). We had a blast!

We hung out a bit after the fireworks, to let most of our half a million friends get to the Metro first, and then we set out. Talia was in a packer on Adam's back, I had Leila on my front and Elie and Isaac were super troopers keeping up with the adults. After a walk, some waiting, more walking, more waiting, getting on the Metro and waiting some more we finally got back to the car. We got home at midnight. But everyone had a great time and I don't think anyone was sorry we went!

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Crazy Colorado

We had such a blast visiting Colorado. We got to visit with and spent time with a huge number of our extended family! It was so much fun. We hit the zoo with Nana and Papa (the kids' great-grandparents). We made a visit to my mother's family cabin (with great-grandmother and great aunt), located in the foothills of the Rockies just west of Ft. Carson. We hiked and saw waterfalls, played at the playground with the kids cousins, went up Pikes Peak, toured through Cave of the Winds (where we *finally* got to see what stalactites and stalagmites are) and ate and laughed and played catch and had a wonderful visit. It was marvelous to see so much family and spend so much quality time with them, having experiences together, laughing and loving.

One thing I really noticed was how much adult attention the kids got, and it wasn't just from the extended family around us. It was so much fun to not have to worry about taking care of anything else but us. We did have to think a bit ahead about meals, but really, there was *nothing* else to worry about. We played and laughed and goofed off. We got to spend hours just hanging out with the kids and chatting with other adults. It was really, truly, quite relaxing. The last night, we arrived to an empty house (Adam's Aunt and Uncle had already left for a trip) and Isaac began to cry. He said, "It's no fun with no body here. I want to stay in Colorado, I don't want to go home." And I understood, completely. I didn't want to go home either.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

A Tale of 3 Days in the Car With 4 Children 6 and Under

We've been in Colorado for almost a week now and so I feel ready to let you know how the driving portion of our trip went. Truth be told, when I think of it in my head as taking four kids, in a minivan, halfway across our great land of America, I feel more than slightly overwhelmed. But when I think of how the trip *actually* went, I realize that it went spectacularly, the kids behaved amazingly and things went about as smooth as they could have possibly gone.

Monday evening we started packing, with the plan being that we would leave on Tuesday mid-morning as soon as Elie got off the bus. Elie was adamant that she attend the Last Day of School. It was very, very important to her and so we decided not to pull her so that we could get a really early start on the drive. But we knew that we needed to pack the night before so that we could be ready to go as soon as Elie got off the bus. We started to get the kids ready for bed and Talia burst into tears. "Why are we getting ready for bed? Why aren't we going to the reunion? I thought we were going to the reunion????" After explaining to her (several times) that we were leaving in the morning, she finally got it sorted out. Whew. The ideas they get in their little heads sometimes.

Tuesday morning we got Elie off the bus and jumped into the car. (Surprisingly, we were actually ready to start driving when she got home, sometimes getting ready for trips isn't so much our strong suit.) I made sandwiches as we were driving and everyone had fun time with our picnic on the move. We crossed over into Maryland....and the questions began.

"What state are we in?" "When we will get to the reunion?" "How much longer will we be driving today?" "Are we going to Cindy and Jay's house?" "When will we be there?" "What state are we in?" "What state are we in?" "What state are we in?"

After about the fifth time in a row (you know, every child has to ask the question for themselves and they can't listen/process the answer that was given to a question asked by a different child) that Adam or I had answered the "what state are we in" question, we were starting to feel like the road trip was going to be an exceedingly long one.

We told them to stop asking and that we would be sure to announce when we crossed over into another state. But I couldn't stop thinking about how to get the information into their own hands, so they could access it at anytime. Then I got a Great Parenting Idea. Elie brought some journals to write in. I suggested that she start making a list of what state we were in, writing another one down when we crossed into a new state. That way, whenever she wanted to know where we were, she could just look at her list. And you know what? It WORKED! She wrote them down, it was a family activity to announce them AND she used it.

Isaac - "Elie, what state are we in?"
Elie - "I don't know, let me look at the list. (flipping pages noise) Indiana!"
Isaac - "Indiana. Aws (Isaac's abbreviation for the word "awesome". Thanks!"

It worked, it really worked!!! It was amazing how much fun she had writing it down and keeping track.

We made it to Dayton OH the first day and had time to visit with my friend from high school, Cindy, her husband, Jay, and their beautiful daughter Zoe. We got up the next morning and cruised for a really long day, all the way to Topeka, KS. I'm not saying there weren't some minor outbursts (Elie hit Isaac in the face with a motorcycle "on accident", Isaac spilled a large amount of water, and other issues) but for the most part, everyone played happily, sang with me, read their books, listened to me reading books and were really super troopers about the car. I even got a fair amount of work in on the washcloth I'm knitting and the blanket I'm crocheting. Third day we finished out the trip to Colorado Springs and made it there in the late afternoon.

We did squeeze in some caching (just about being carried away by giant mutant mosquitos in Eastern KS while waiting at a playground, for Adam to do a cache) and managed to cross off Indiana, Illinois, and Missouri as states we needed to cache in. Thank goodness for rest-stop caches because we HAD to stop at lots of rest-stops. Talia is deep in the stage where anytime anyone says any word remotely related to using the bathroom, she suddenly has a deep and urgent need to visit one. And Isaac still has trouble taking care of his business all in one visit. Ah well, maybe taking all those breaks isn't such a bad thing.

We're having a super amazing time visiting with family and doing really cool and fun stuff. I'll save that report for another day, though!