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.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Science Experiments

Last fall Elie was invited to a birthday party. It was at a place called "Curiosity Zone." It's a destination party place. They have different programs with different themes. So the party that Elie was at was a science themed party. They did some science experiments with vinegar and baking soda (and some other things, but Elie was a little spotty on the details). For the party favor, each child got to take home a set of plastic lab equipment for doing their own experiments at home. Included was a bendy straw, test tube, large beaker, funnel and a pipette. Elie brought the things home and was very excited to do her own "science experiments."

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. It was a quiet afternoon and Elie asked if she could get out her equipment for some "science experiments." Turns out this meant she wanted to play in the sink with some water. I said okay, thinking that it was a great way for them to entertain themselves. And it was. They played very nicely for a really long time.

It took a lot of self restraint for me to not go in there and moderate/direct what was going on. There was a lot of laughing, some bossing and grabbing, and a lot of water mess happening. But I held my tongue and just let them do their thing.

At one point I poked my head in to see what was going on and Isaac and Talia were sitting on the bathroom counter with their feet in the sink, which was filled with water. Talia had the bendy straw through the funnel (so it was poking out the bottom) and leaned over and took a big drink of the water in the sink! Then she handed the funnel/straw contraption to Isaac and he took a drink! BLARGHGHGHGHG. I about died laughing/gagging. It was the bathroom sink and they had their feet in the water!! I asked if everyone had been drinking the water out of the sink and they all said that yes, they had been drinking it. I asked them not to drink it anymore and reminded them they had to clean up all the mess when they were done. Then I left them to play some more.

Whew. That is a science experiment, but I don't think it's the one the kids had in mind!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

First First Firsts

Yesterday morning Leila was intently watching Isaac eat his yogurt with his spoon. She leaned over and watched him sooooo closely. The next bite of yogurt I offered her, she grabbed the spoon and guided it into her mouth. So I decided to give her a learning spoon (curved handle, big spoon part, rubbery grip) and give her so yogurt in a bowl. It was a hit! There she was, eating with a spoon just like a big kid. She would dip the spoon in and jam it into her mouth and suck all the yogurt off. Of course, she soon figured out that dipping her fingers in the yogurt and sucking them off was just as fun, BUT she was feeding herself with a spoon for the First Time!

The rest of the day was absolutely gorgeous weather and so as soon as we were home from picking up Isaac and running an errand, I set the kids outside. Leila had a blast crawling around on the deck and exploring that new scenery. There was some whining and begging to come inside (which I could not figure out because it was BEAUTIFUL) and I finally consented to opening the sand box. After I finished what I was doing inside, I took Leila and we went out to the sand box. It was the first time she had been in sand. Ah those new sensory experiences. I put her down in the sand and she immediately picked up her hands and then tried to pick up her feet. She did NOT want to touch the stuff. (It reminded me of the first time we set Elie down in grass. She leaned back slightly and picked up her legs, so she was balancing on her bottom only. The grass apparently felt way, way too weird.) But then she got into it and was digging and banging and having a great time. She did end up eating some, unententionally, and was really unhappy about that. Rubber mulch she doesn't mind consuming, but sand she doesn't like. Who knew?

After a while the sand lost its appeal and I picked her up. Then I remembered that we have a baby swing that came with the swingset. The swings are the most popular item on the swingset and I knew that I didn't want to take one down to put up a swing for Leila. We already have demand vs supply issues on that front and I didn't want to make the bickering worse. So I looked around and found a branch that I could put the swing on. Up it went and in Leila was deposited. She loved, loved, loved it. She was in the swing for half an hour or more, just sitting and enjoying the view.

And speaking of New Experiences. I'd like to send Congratulations to Mike, Ping and Graham about the arrival of their New Experience, Dean. He was born March 7th at 4:23, weighing in at 8lbs 1oz and 21 inches long!!! We are so excited that such an awesome family has added another member. Enjoy your Baby Moon, Ping and Mike, and Welcome Earthside, Dean.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Better Late Than Never

Why do I keep doing this to myself? It's late, I'm tired, so I don't blog. Days go buy like this and then I realize that it's been FOREVER since I last took the time to write anything down and it turns into an epic dumping of reports/observations. Navel-gazing aside, I do have tons to say and so I guess I better just get started or else it's NEVER going to get done! ; )

We've had a really great few weeks. My parents came while the kids were out for spring break. We had a great time! We did a bunch of sightseeing, lots of cooking, hanging out and laughing. The kids loved having GranEde and GranDude here. Every morning, as soon as we would let them, they would go downstairs in a big herd and wake up the grandparents. We did manage to let GranEde and GranDude sleep in a couple of days, but mostly they were up at the crack of dawn with the rest of us! Adam even was able to take a couple of days off, so we went into DC to see a frog exhibit, a tiny portion of the Natural History Museum (we were headed back to see the insect exhibit, but got caught by the mammal skeletons and the next thing we knew it was time to go) and the next day we took in the Zoo. ("Look GranEde, the gorillas have people hands!" -Isaac) We had so much fun the days flew by. Then it was time for GranEde and GranDude to go. They had to leave before the kids got up (yes, o'dark-thirty) and Elie and Isaac were able to process that. But poor Talia got halfway through the day on Sunday and asked "when we are done with this, can we go downstairs and wake up GranEde and GranDude?"

Meanwhile, Leila has been doing all sorts of developing, big and small. She can now go up AND down the stairs. She can turn around and slide off of beds and couches. She is pretty much feeding herself entirely, but she has developed a rather odd picky streak. A month ago she would eat anything, with excitement. But now she will refuse to taste most things and almost everything she gives up on after one or two bites. Except - CHEESE. I waited to give it to her because we had a terrible problem with Talia when she was learning to eat. Talia LOVED cheese and as a result of loving cheese way, way too much, she got horribly constipated. So I wanted to wait to introduce cheese because Leila was already having constipation problems. But now I have another cheese lover. Blargh. If she can see cheese, she will refuse all food with the exception of the cheese. And she's started the if-I-don't-like-it-I'll-throw-it-on-the-floor-phase. Another Blarg. She is currently working on getting four molars, all at the same time. She still has only four teeth on top and three on the bottom (huh?) and now she's cutting MOLARS. It looks insanely painful and she is cranky much of the time. The other night she bit me several times while we were sleeping/nursing. However, she is totally adorable. She waves to just about everyone who makes eye contact with her. She has words for kitty, mommy, daddy, isaac, amen and thank you. She loves to put buckets on her head and crawl around with them on. She laughs and laughs while she does it. She also is a clean freak and "wipes" everything. She will take towels and washcloths from the drawers and wipe herself, the floor, chairs, baby dolls etc. She's even happier to wipe things with a wet wipe and today she managed to steal a wet wipe from the container during diaper change and was attempting to wipe her own bottom!

Talia is having more Leila adjustment issues. I can't seem to give the child enough attention. For a while we had a break with the only Mommyitis, but it's back and in full force. "Mommmmmmeeeeee, I want to beeeeeee with youuuuuuuuuuu." She's been doing lots and lots of cooking with me. Today she and Isaac helped me clean and stem two bunches of spinach. And it's not all bad that she's been inseperable from me because on Sunday I tried to set the house on fire and if Talia hadn't seen it, it would have been a much larger confligration. I had used a towel to take a lid off a pan. I set the lid with towel on top on the back burner (it was off) but a bit of the towel was hanging off the lid and the front burner caught it on fire. Talia said "Mommy there is flames." I thought she was talking about the flames that are the burner, so I said "oh, uhuh." And she said "No, there are flames Mommy, come here and see." So I stepped next to her and said "okay, show me the flames." And there they were. So I grabbed the towel and set it in the sink. Talia said "You do not catch the towel on fire and make flames. That is not good." She's right and thank goodness she saw it. But she was totally nonplussed. I have gotten a stern lecture, from her, about it each night while cooking dinner. She has had another subtle language change and is now carrying on conversations much more indepth. She also uses "mommmy, hey, mommy" a lot, to get my attention.

While GranEde and GranDude were here, we switched the teaching handle from Elie's bike to Isaac's. (It's a handle that attaches below the seat and sticks out above/behind the bike to allow the helping adult to stand up straight and run behind the bike as opposed to leaning over, holding the seat and running behind the bike.) He was thrilled and we took him on a couple long learning rides/walks. His balance is really good, but he is easily distracted. I really don't think it will be long until he can do it by himself, but we'll see.

Elie's been riding her bike like a pro. She is a bit rough on the starting, but it is usually due to her being in a hurry and not focusing on what she's doing. She got lots of practice last week and I'm hoping to be able to keep it up! She's having another bossy explosion and we're still working on ways to handle it. It's rough. But she continues to be observant and totally curious. She was asking me the other day, "when Leila is 22 how old will I be?" I said "28" and she said "I'll be old enough to do lots of things....Like wear a watch!"

I'm sure there are other stories I wanted to tell, like how Elie went to a birthday party and the next day the mother of the celebrant called and told me quite a few stories about how mature Elie was, or how Isaac cannot sit still and is such a stereotypical boy, or how Talia is incredibly cute. But now it is late. And I have to be the mom tomorrow, or more accurately later tonight.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

A Special Kind of Hell

On President's Day weekend, Adam's brother, sister-in-law and their kids came down for a visit. The older two had been talking about Washington and Lincoln in their classes and so we decided that we'd go to Mt. Vernon and the Lincoln memorial.

We started at Mt. Vernon. It was *really* interesting and totally beautiful. The kids enjoyed looking at the house and surrounding buildings. There was an amazing dollhouse of Mt. Vernon in the visitors' center and that probably held their attention for the longest amount of time. We took a tour of the house, the kids were all well behaved, but mostly they seemed to be thinking "this furniture is interesting and the house looks a *little* different from ours, so why is this such a big deal?" They were clearly happiest when we let them run around in the "backyard" of our founding father's house.

(As we were walking to the Lincoln memorial we walked by some K-9 police cars. They all had dogs in the back seat, where a *bad* guy would usually be. Elie said "Mom, I see a dog that got in trouble. It's in the backseat of that police car!")

After a morning at Mt. Vernon we went to the Lincoln memorial. If Mt. Vernon was confusing because of its importance, than the Lincoln memorial was downright mystifying. Here is a giant statue of a man, sitting in a chair and this is very important. What? So we started talking about Lincoln and what he did for this country. This in and of itself is extremely difficult. The Civil War wasn't a nice thing and it was really complicated. Saying that Lincoln was responsible for emancipation seems so simple and completely false. It seems a fallacy to boil the whole conflict down and make Lincoln The Hero of the whole situation. So I tried to simplify the story enough to make it understandable to the little people dancing around in the giant marble hall dedicated to our 16th president. I started to explain part of what makes Lincoln such an iconic figure; born in a log cabin, in abject poverty, the American dream of making something amazing of yourself when you come from nothing. I had tears in my eyes, it was such a meaningful moment, all those little faces looking up at me, their eyes saying "uhhhh, Mom, I *still* don't get what the big deal is. Now can we go back down ALL those steps and run around?"

Being a Parent is a special kind of hell. Oh, it is. These moments where there is learning, forming and growing going on are so important. As the adult we recognize the solemnity, seriousness, interest and relevance, but as a child they are simply in the moment absorbing and wondering why we're so intense about the situation and then they are wondering when they get to run again. I know these experiences make a difference because a similar scene occured at the very same spot, years before. My family was taking a springtime tour of Washington DC. We had been at the Vietnam Memorial where my parents had found the name of someone they knew. We were at the Lincoln Memorial and my mother started reading the Gettysburg address. I vaugely remember that my sister and I were dancing around one of the giant marble pillars while she tried to get us to listen. And I WAS listening. I remember her reading fondly, with great respect and reverence for Lincoln, our country's struggle AND my mother. But I'm sure, in that moment, in her head, she was saying to herself "I'm in hell. This is VERY important. This is serious. I want my children to learn about this and appreciate the historical gravity of this situation. So here I am, reading this speech and they are DANCING." Those experiences made the foundation of my attitude that history is important, that it is interesting and necessary to learn about where we came from. And I hope that the experiences I'm sharing with my children will also help to lay the same foundations. But in that moment, it is pure hell, speaking to a seemingly unattentive, uncaring, blankly staring audience, knowing that what you're saying is Important.

But it does sink in. I'm seeing that already. The week after we went to Mt. Vernon I was listening to NPR in the morning and there was a bit about Mt. Vernon. And Talia, from the backseat, pipes up "Mom, we went to Mt. Vernon. Right, Mom?" Okay...so maybe they are listening. My special hell is paying off and maybe, hopefully, someday, they'll have the pleasure of burning there too.