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.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

All Tied Up

In big news, Isaac has learned how to tie his own shoes! Whoopeeee! I cannot tell you how exciting this is for me. I can now ask him to get his shoes on and he will be ready and waiting by the front door, shoes tied. It really was a miraculous sort of evolution. He had been tying his "xes" by himself most of the school year. (You know, the first step in tying your shoe - you have to tie an x.) And he was good and reliable about that. In the end of January I thought it was probably time to make time to get him to start tying his own shoes. I figured that he was ready to at least start working on it. I thought that it would be a long road. Elie took, probably, 4-6 weeks until she was reliably tying her shoes. She didn't want to learn the bunny around the tree method and decided she was going to use the two loops method. Okay, fine, just get your shoes tied, kiddo. And eventually she did, but she had to go back to the bunny around the tree method (mom DOES know what she's talking about....sometimes). So I prepared myself for a long road with Isaac. I guess it's been about three weeks ago now, I sat down with him in my lap and showed him the basics. The next day I showed him again. The third day we kinda did a combo tie with both of us having hands on the laces. Two days later he was tying them himself. No kiding. It's amazing.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Congratulations!!!

On Valentines Day, my sister got engaged to her boyfriend, Don!!! We are so happy that they are getting married. The kids are totally excited to have an "Uncle Don". Congratulations, Kiwi!!!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Importance of Being Free

I listen to NPR most mornings while I am driving Isaac to school. It is a nice time for me to catch up on what is going on in the world and it provides me with a little bit of thinking stimulation. Most days there is something really interesting on and some days there is even something on that is relevant to where I am in my life.

Last Thursday I heard a really cool story on Morning Edition. (You can find the whole story here.) To quickly sum up it informed that the amount of free play that a child participates in is directly related to their level of impulse control and self regulation. It turns out that when children participate in free play, they exercise something called private speech. (My kids exercise their private speech all the time. It is rather cute to watch them playing an intricate imaginary game and all the while their little lips are moving in some sort of narration...or private speech as I now know it is called.) And from private speech is created impulse control and self regulation. Now that there is a proliferation of toys and games that provide constant stimulation, children are loosing the ability to create free play. In addition the registration of children for constant class-like activities has cut down on free play time.

All of this brings us to the results of a study they talked about on the broadcast. Over 60 years ago scientists did an experiment to test self regulation at different age levels. They used a group of 3, 5, and 7 year olds. The three year olds couldn't stand still at all. The five year olds could for a short period of time and the seven year olds could pretty much stand still as long as the researchers asked them to. Then in 2001 some new researchers decided to repeat the experiment. But this time the results were drastically different. The three and five year olds were about the same level and the seven year olds were barely approaching the level of five year olds 60 years ago!!!

It was so interesting to listen to. I know that free play is important and even without hearing about that study I would have continued to attempt to avoid toys that are constantly stimulating/one dimensional. Dadam and I have made a conscious effort to avoid them. (I must admit that we avoid them also because they are highly annoying and damn hard to listen to over and over again.) But it's not just that the toys are annoying, it is that the kids are so much more interested, more thoughtful, more involved and more engaged when they make up and carry out their own games. We have blocks, but I'd say nine times out of ten they aren't used for building things; just today they were candy and yesterday they were something else. I love watching them play and seeing them act out the world they see around them, in their play. Happily enough, all that free play we allow and encourage (and force) them to do, creates children with impulse control and good self regulation.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Now We Are Six

Yesterday Miss Princess Elie turned six years old. Wow. Six. I can hardly believe it. It seems like a blink since she was a tiny thing, all tubes and wires, in a plastic bassinett in the hospital. I can hardly believe that this is the same little creature. She is so big, so helpful, responsible, thoughtful, polite, funny and insightful. Oh and beautiful and smart! If I had only known how amazing she was going to be, I might have shed fewer tears those first few rough weeks in the NICU. But here we are, despite and in spite of it all!

Adam and I discussed and decided that we would ask Elie if she wanted to have a party this year. I am totally opposed to *destination* birthday parties (you know, where you spend hundreds of dollars for a ginourmous party) and so we said it would be a small party at home (our rule is the age you are turning plus one). She was totally excited and immediately thought of seven friends that she wanted to invite. She also wanted a disney princess themed party. Part of me cringed at this request, but I knew that we could do it in a low key, low cost way and so we said okay. We decided that we'd decorate t-shirts with puffy paint and jewels, that way we could have an activity and a party favor all wrapped up in one. Elie also decided that she wanted a "princess castle cake with princess sitting on it." Whew. The order was a pink and purple castle (since pink and purple are "princess colors") and princesses and flowers. I was pretty relaxed about the party (slightly nervous about keeping eight six year olds entertained for two hours) but totally paranoid about the cake. I searched around and ordered this. I decided that I needed a little bit of creative help to create a castle w/princesses masterpiece.

So last week I started learning how to make frosting roses and I started creating them. That was Wednesday. Thursday Adam and I baked the cakes (we needed four, 2 10 inchers and 2 6 inchers). We had a bit of a cake baking disaster involving burning batter, smoking and lots of scraping the bottom of a hot oven. Lesson: don't believe the pan capacity listed on the pan insert, they lie. I was concerned because it seemed like an auspicious beginning. However, by Sunday night when we were finally putting the cake together, things were falling into place. So, without further ado here is what we created.




Does this cake not ROCK!?!?! Okay, so I'm a little, ahem, proud. It really turned out well. And She was really surprised.



The party went well, though it was tough keeping the girls entertained. Adam and I hadn't prepared enough activities and so we were scrambling a bit in the middle. I went down stairs and was frantically looking up games we could play and printing out princess coloring sheets. But thank goodness for the internet, we were saved and there was no riot.

I'm glad that we gave our little Princess Elie a princess party. But it was a lot of work and we got puffy paint on the dining room wall and ended up with the bathroom door locked from the inside with no one in it. In conclusion we won't be doing this every year, but I'm glad we did it this one!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Get Dressed!

The other day I told Talia to go upstairs and get dressed. 20 mins (!) later she came back down in.......tights (no undies) on backwards and an unzipped grey hoodie sweatshirt. That's all. No shirt, no pants, no skirt. She said she was going out like that. I said "No Way."

She's been dressing herself for a while now, but lately she seems to be having trouble. Either she can't/won't focus enough to get the task done OR she gets dressed, but there are *problems* with her outfits. The *problems* include backwards pants/shirts, too hot/warm for the weather, or just plain wacky (like the aforementioned outfit).

I try and be laid back about the kids' clothes. I want, nay, NEED them to get themselves dressed. They have got to learn how to dress comfortably, for the weather, and appropriately. I don't believe they can do that if I am always picking their clothing. (This is not to say that I never tell them what to wear. When we are going to synagogue or somewhere that I feel they need to look a bit nicer, I will offer them choices.) So at about two (give or take some months) my kiddos have all started dressing themselves.

Which leads us to this juncture. Isaac STILL has trouble focusing and getting dressed, he seems to *forget* what he's supposed to be doing when he gets in his room, but he's getting better. Talia, though, is taking some sort of detour in the learning. I'm not sure if I should sit with her while she's getting dressed or just provide some guidance post dressage. Truly, the child would much rather be naked all the time, but I'm not sure that is so appropriate in 30 degree weather.

Monday, February 4, 2008

FOP: Forced Outside Play

When I was a kid my mother used to regularly send us for FOP. Out we would head, whining and carrying on. Sometimes we would even pout for a while, but after some time had passed we would become involved in whatever imaginary game we could come up with and before we knew it, hours had passed. And we had marvelous adventures; finding wildlife, building forts, climbing trees. Fear not, oh elders, I too now use FOP. If it wasn't apparent before, I have turned into my mother.

It has been cold and rainy the last few weeks. The kids play well enough inside, but I truly believe that it is oh so important for kids to play outside, in NATURE. We've also not had tons of time for outdoor play (what little we've had has been on the preschool playground), what with our twice weekly swim lessons, Elie's enrichment and our generally hectic schedule. However, this weekend, it was warmer-ish (50s) and the rain had abated, so out the children went.

On Saturday, when I realized it was warm enough (the temperature is not usually a problem, but I knew that everyone would be soaked and muddy due to the intrinsic attraction they have for the large mud puddles that form in our backyard after it rains) for everyone to go out, I took a poll. "Who wants to go out?" Talia was the only one that replied in the affirmative. Elie and Isaac were generally whiny. For a few minutes, I waffled on what to do. Should I send them out, let them stay in? Oh what to do. They should want to go outside, I shouldn't have to tell them they have to go. Do I want to *make* them go out? It was time for some decisive action. FOP to the rescue! I told everyone they needed to get dressed because they were going out. There was whining (Elie) and some protests (Isaac). But once they got out there, they had a blast! Elie came to the door after 30 mins and whined to be let in, but I told her that it wasn't time and she needed to go find something to do. The funniest part of Elie's whining was that she claimed that "everyone" wanted to come in. But when I looked to see where Isaac and Talia were, they were deeply involved in some pretent play involving lots of mud and water. Elie couldn't even convince them to come onto the porch to attempt to come in.

Sunday we did the same thing. Out they went, like it or not. And they played for HOURS. They took rocks out of the rock pile and "decorated" their little play house. They dug holes, filled buckets with dirt, put dirt on the slide, stomped in the mud puddles, ate an apple snack (no fear, I did clean their hands before they ate) and generally enjoyed the out of doors.

Of course they came in filthy, from their coats to their undies. BUT they had a marvelous time. They worked on entertaining themselves, getting to know that dirt won't kill you and being exposed to all sorts of fun and interesting things outside. I love FOP and I'm glad that my parents did it to me. Hopefully, someday, my kids will see the value in it too!