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, 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.