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.

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.