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, December 31, 2009

New Traditions

When I was growing up, we celebrated Christmas. No, not in the religious sense but in a completely secular, cultural way. In the beginning, the celebrations involved a tree and stockings; as we got bigger those traditions were observed less and less. But there were still some traditions that we held on to.

I'm not entirely sure I understand why we "did" Christmas in our Jewish household. But it's not really mine to understand. My parents made the right choices for them and I now understand that the road of parenthood is frought with tradeoffs and bitter-sweet choices. I do know that when we hold memories dear in our hearts, it is only natural to want to share those experiences with our children. And so we pick and choose what we feel we want to share and what we don't.

When Dadam and I got married we discussed and decided that we did not want to "do" Christmas in our house. We would only celebrate the day with family if we lived close to family that celebrated. We would be sharing the celebration with them, not making it our own.

I do admit, there are traditions I miss. I even sort of miss the day of Christmas itself, though I'm completely comfortable with the choices Dadam and I have made. One thing I remember fondly was that we almost always had a huge pan of homemade cinnamon rolls, hot out of the oven, for breakfast on Christmas morning. This is something I'd like to pass on as a tradition, but Judaism doesn't have any morning celebrations that would work with cinnamon rolls!

So, for the past few years, when we've been home, we've made cinnamon rolls for New Year's Day. The kids and I make the sweet dough, get all goopy putting them together and make a couple pans of cinnamon raisin rolls.

Today we made our New Years rolls. We got goopy and had fun. And we are all very excited to wake up in the new year and feast on our old-new tradition.

May your New Year be as sweet as these rolls are going to be! Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

End of One Holiday and the Start of Another

Sadly, our holiday in London ended more with a whimper than a bang. On Friday it was bitter cold and so we did not do much more exploring on foot. We cached in the morning and then went back to the flat to warm up. Had a nice afternoon playing games and hanging out, then went out for some tea. Saturday we got up and went down to Big Ben, Parliament and Westminster Abbey. The sun was peeking out through the clouds and it was beautiful. We wandered around for a bit and crossed the river to have lunch and then head to the London Eye.

When we got over to the Eye, though, we noticed it wasn't turning and there was no one in line. We were told that it was closed due to technical difficulties and that they weren't sure if it would reopen that day. We decided to hang around a bit at a nearby playground to see if it happened to start up while we were still close, but no dice.

The kids were all very disappointed. Elie even had some tears. (They may have been partially due to the fact that she and Isaac did not go to sleep until ten pm the night previous and then were still up at the crack of dawn, but whose to say really.) I promised the kids that we would be back to ride the Eye someday and that we would try and bring GranEde and GranDude. It was so sweet to see how excited they all immediately became when I mentioned sharing that experience with them.

We had tea at a charming French Cafe. I do so love the custom of tea. Who doesn't like a reason to have tea/hot cocoa/coffee and some yummy pastry in the middle of the afternoon??!?!

Sunday we packed up and headed home on a very uneventful train ride. The kids were great, the train was speedy and we all got to sit next to one another.

Now we have another week of school holiday to recuperate. Dadam had to go back to work on Monday, but I think that he might have more of a break there than he gets at home. It has been so fun to hang out with the kids, do projects and just have time to chat.

Yesterday the kids painted a decorate-it-yourself porcelain tea set that we got them for Chanukah. As they were getting on their Nana-made aprons, Isaac remarked to me that "with this apron on, I look like a Fancy Waiter." Talia, of course, got paint on hers. I think that it *might* have been on purpose, but that would be difficult to prove. We wore the aprons again today when we baked cookies; oh they were so nice to have!

Some friends of ours from Virginia also sent presents and included was a copy of a local activity guide that had a picture of their two year old, in ballet class, on the front. Tonight at diner Isaac remarked, "She must be a professional dancer!" And Elie said, "Now we know a famous ballerina!"

We have a busy rest-of-the-week planned with cupcake making and decorating (using the silly feet GranEde and GranDude sent), first piano lesson, a New Years party and other fun activities. But not too scheduled, we do want to enjoy a bit of lazing about during our holiday, part deux!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

London Calling

For winter holiday we decided that we would like to come down and explore London. I had never been here and Dadam had very fond memories of school trips. We got extremely lucky and a high-school classmate of mine lives in London and manages her company's corporate flats. She said she could let us stay for a week for free! We were thrilled and happily took her up on her verrry generous offer. So this week we have been staying at a very posh London flat and adventuring around. It has been a ton of fun!

Sunday noon-ish we took the bus from our house to the train station into Leeds. Just getting to the bus was a bit of an excursion because there was a solid sheet of ice, down the hill from our house to the bus stop. We just ended up walking on the road, so that no one slid all the way down the hill. We got to the train station with very little trouble and had a bite to eat. It was bitterly cold that day and the train station was so cold we all ate with our coats and hats on! We quickly made our way to the train and got settled at our reserved table. Thankfully there were two seats behind that were unclaimed so we could spread out a little.

As we sat down, an older gentleman and his female traveling companion sat down right across the aisle from the two extra seats we had claimed. He had a small dog and, it turned out, a tortoise. The train started moving and he began handing the tortoise around to various other riders on the train so that they could hold it and touch it. He loudly corrected anyone who dared refer to it as a turtle AND he kept foisting it off on Adam and Leila. First the tortoise sat in Leila's lap, which was okay for a while and then she got tired of it. Then the tortoise had to sit on the seat-back tray in front of Leila. It was all quite bizarre. My breaking point came when Elie loudly yelled that she wanted to hold the tortoise in her lap. I hissed, "That tortoise is a Christmas present for a little girl. We are NOT playing pass the tortoise!" The dog was allowed to wander up and down the aisle of the train and would often lay down right next to our feet, which then resulted in it being kicked anytime any of us wanted to stand up. As if all of this wasn't enough, mid-way through our ride the train slowed to a stop for ten minutes or so and then the engineer got on and explained that we would be 40 minutes late to London because one of the front windscreens had shattered and the train couldn't drive in excess of 100mph!

We did finally make it to our train stop, get on the Tube and find our flat. It was quite an adventure already!

On Monday we had wanted to go to the Museum of London, but after doing some research we discovered that most of the museum was closed due to extensive renovations. Bah. So we opted for the Natural History Museum and the Science Museum. On the Tube, down to our stop, and out to the Science Museum. It was a fascinating museum. The first exhibit hall held a history of steam power. There were some amazing steam engines there and they had original examples of some of the first steam engines ever used. The evolution of the engineering was really cool to see. The second exhibit was all about space and there we managed to catch a demonstration done by a member of the museum staff. She did a GREAT job and our kids were enthralled from start to finish. Even Adam and I found it very entertaining. After eating a bit of lunch, we walked through a fascinating exhibit talking about 100 years of science. The big three were pretty interested in looking at how tools of science and creativity have changed, but Leila could not have cared less. At one point, I heard Dadam say, "Leila! Stop it!! Leila, stop LICKING the glass of the display!" Lovely. I knew we were really loosing the kids when Elie said to Talia, "Get on my back for a horsey ride. Don't worry, it'll be safe 'cause we're on carpet!" (Never mind that we were surrounded on all sides by floor to ceiling glass display cases, with century old artifacts in them.)

It was time for a change of pace and so we walked next door to the Natural History Museum. The first exhibit we wandered into was a huge dinosaur exhibit. Lots of great skeletons, some life size models and even a few animated dinos were plenty to keep everyone interested. There was a life sized, animated T-Rex and Talia was not a fan, but Leila wanted to go back and "see it again" once we were passed that display. We looked at the mammals and the sea life. We wandered through the invertebrate and coral display. Then we had tea. The building where the Natural History Museum is located is absolutely breathtaking. It was made out of Terra Cotta and has beautiful gilded ceiling frescoes, amazing carved animals in the bricks of the walls, and gorgeous stained glass.

Tuesday we set off to see the Tower of London. On the way there we ended up taking the Tube stop that let us off right at The Monument. This monument marks very closely, the location of the 1666 Fire of London that destroyed a huge portion of the city. Isaac had just finished a unit centered around the Fire of London and he was desperate to visit anything and everything we could that had to do with it. Needless to say, he was VERY excited to climb to the top of the Monument. And so we did. There are 257 stairs to the top. And the three bigs did every.single.one. Leila got a ride on Dadam's back, otherwise it would have taken us three days to get to the top. The view from the top was beautiful and after we got back down, we found the street sign for Pudding Lane - the street where the fire began. Documentation by photograph completed, we marched on to the Tower of London.

Unfortunately, Tuesday was a bitter cold day. I think the high was -4 C. It was FREEZING. We tried to take a tour, but just standing and listening to the Yeoman Warder turned out to be too damn cold. So we broke off, got some lunch and tried to warm up. After that we headed to the White Tower and saw an absolutely fascinating exhibit about Henry VIII's armor. He had many sets of armor made during his years and it was amazing to see the changes his body went through. The exhibit also addressed what he liked to do in his spare time, other than kill his wives, and talked about the weaponry of the time. Henry was obsessed with firearms, among other things, and there were quite a few experimental firearms in the exhibit. There was a badly mangled three barreled cannon/gun and some rather interesting leather shields with guns mounted in them. The exhibit was due to close in three days and so we were very lucky to have seen it. It's the first time that all the items had been on display together.

We then went and toured the tower where the Royal Jewels are held. It was interesting to see. They are very ornate. I'm not sure the kids were all that taken with the whole thing. They are just lots of sparkly bits with pretty fabric thrown in.

We saw the Bloody Tower and read about the many famous prisoners who were there. I think that Elie and Isaac grasped that people were held there as prisoners, but I knew that much of the other information had gone over their heads when Isaac said "Now why was this called the Bloody Tower again?"

Wednesday was a much warmer day, thank goodness. We toured the Tower of London Bridge and got to see the history of its creation and the amazing engineering that went into it. It is a beautiful bridge and it was so fun to see it from the inside. Talia even commented that evening how much she had enjoyed it. "My favorite part today was seeing the bridge. It was so beautiful!" We went down to the foot of the bridge and got to see the old boilers and steam engines. They are still in working order, but due to the Clean Air Act of 1972, they were forced to switch to electricity. They are beautiful and are still running a bit, so that visitors can see how they work.

Visiting the bridge brought us to the side of the Thames where the HMS Belfast sits. She is a warship of the British Navy who fought in WWII and made voyages from the Arctic Circle all the way down to Australia. It had several different exhibits inside. There was one about life on the Belfast, another about the history of shipbuilding and a third about the voyages the Belfast had made. Unfortunately, they had restrictions on who could visit the boiler room, so we couldn't go down there. But we thoroughly explored every other section. The kids really enjoyed seeing the galley, where there was fake food set up to show what it would have looked like when the ship was on a voyage. The part I liked best was where the battle that the Belfast had with a German ship was detailed. Almost the whole battle was fought in pitch dark, as it was November and they were above the Arctic Circle! There was only two hours of weak daylight. It was the radar of the British that won the battle and saved the day.

Today we knew would be a bit more difficult to find open attractions, as it is Christmas Eve. We have been warned that the city shuts.down. on Christmas Day, and by all accounts it seems as though that is accurate. None of the public transportation runs and all the stores/restaurants/museums that we have come across are closed. No matter, we need a day off tomorrow. But today we had one last, cram-as-much-in-as-we-can day.

We started off this morning at St. Pauls Cathedral, the original of which was burned down in the Great Fire of London in 1666. The building that stands there today, replaced the one that was destroyed and took 35 years to complete. It was a beautiful and amazing building. It is also HUGE. There is no photography allowed within the cathedral, which is a shame because it is really cool inside. We were all allowed to climb all 530 stairs to the very top of the dome, which we did. It was a long climb, but well worth it and really cool when we got to the top and looked around outside. I admit, I had two panic moments - one on the stairs and one bit of vertigo outside on the balcony at the very top. But I swallowed hard and retained control of myself. Shew. The kids did a great job and were super troopers the whole time.

After a bit of lunch, we headed off to do some uber cool brass rubbings. A nice break for the kids who got to do some hands on stuff AND get to be creative. We walked from there, through Trafalgar Square, down The Mall (which looked a LOT like the Mall in DC), and down to Buckingham Palace. The kids ran free through the park and very much enjoyed just running around and being wild.

To round out our day, we went to The Queen's Gallery, which is attached to the side of Buckingham Palace. It is a very small, but very elegant collection of furniture and art. The children were fascinated with the palace as we walked by. "Are those the Queen's cars?" - Isaac "Does the Queen go into the museum whenever she wants to, because it is attached to her house?" - Elie I think that all our favorites were the amazing collection of Faberge they have; animals carved from jade and other stones, two Faberge eggs, tiny photo frames and a beautiful collection of plants and flowers. The kids behaved spectacularly and we were both so proud of how they behaved in the galleries.

London has been such an adventure! The kids have become Tube Riding Professionals, learned to read the map of the Underground, been in museums, run in parks and had a great time. Dadam and I have also had a wonderful time sharing all this adventure with them. Of course, we are tired of asking them not to rub their faces, heads, hands, gloves etc on the display glass. And we might be a wee bit exhausted of asking them not to lay on the explanations so that other people can read them at the same time. But we are not tired of their insight and adorable questions.

Tomorrow a quiet day is on tab. We might take a stroll down to the Charles Dickens Museum, one of the only museums open in London on Christmas Day. Then on Saturday we are going to do some more poking around near Big Ben, Parliament and Buckingham Palace, with a grand finale of riding the London Eye in the afternoon!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Post Chanukah Wrap Up (or should that be unwrap?)

Just this weekend, I realized that loads of fun stuff went on during Chanukah and I didn't make the time to blog about them. And today we are leaving for a week long trip to London! I know that there will be tons of stuff that I want to blog, so I best do a quick catch-up before I'm buried under an avalanche of adventure.

Chanukah was a beautiful, fun time for our family. We had a menorah for every child and a joint menorah for Dadam and I. This made for a rather large, mostly controlled conflagration on our kitchen counter. We decided that the older three could (and should) light their own menorah's. The first night, Talia got out her shammash (worker candle) and a big drip of wax fell right.on.her.finger. BAH. She was feeling nervous about lighting anyway and that sent her right over the edge. Elie and Isaac did just fine, but after the drip incident Talia refused to light her own. The second night we helped her, though, and she made it through. Third night she did it with less help and by the end she had gotten her confidence back and was doing it all by herself!

At school the kids were learning all sorts of interesting facts and stories about Chanukah and it was great fun to hear them tell us what they learned. I made latkes the first four nights and then I had to give our intestines a break from all that fried food. You would have thought I had announced we were going to start pulling toenails for all the fussing that ensued. But we made it through our latke-less nights and still enjoyed celebrating (shocking, no?). One night, for a special treat, I made funnel cakes. They were a big hit, but I think we'll just stick to them being a Chanukah treat. Oy, the house still smells like peanut oil!

During Chanukah, the kids still had school, but there were all sorts of really fun activities. There was a make-your-own-menorah competition, which everyone wanted to participate in. Elie built a menorah out of recycled materials. She used egg cartons, milk jugs, extract bottles, cardboard boxes and some paint. It was very creative. Talia and Isaac wanted to make menorahs out of play dough, so I went online (the power of the Interwebs!) and found a homemade play dough recipe. It said it could be baked and then painted. Great! I made a batch and the kids got to work. They did a great job. Then we put them in the oven, at the temperature specified and.....they completely fell apart. It was such a bummer! The kids were very game about the whole situation and agreed to make new. I put together another batch of play dough and they made their 2.0 versions. This time I didn't put them in the oven, we just let them air dry over a couple days and then they painted them. Isaac won for his grade, but Elie and Talia did not. Elie was disappointed, but a very good sport about the whole situation. Sadly, we had not gotten the clay menorahs completely dry and the day that Isaac and Talia brought theirs home from school, they catastrophically fell apart. We still haven't thrown away the sad piles of broken menorahs due to some certain folks' separation anxiety. But we're going to have to get rid of it at some point. Maybe I can just sneak the bits off the scene.....

On Tuesday of last week, Elie came home and announced that she had another VERY wiggly tooth. Dadam was home and said "This one's mine! I'm going to pull one out FINALLY!" He went out to the car to get some stuff and Elie headed into the bathroom to "look" at her tooth. Dadam came in and Elie came out of the bathroom and said, "I pulled my OWN tooth! And now there's a thumb sized hole in my mouth." She was so excited. It was quite funny to see the giant gap.

The tooth fairy was a bit panicked because there was NO warning on this one. The tooth had been mildly wiggly for a week, but I didn't think we were anywhere close to lose-time. I had a bit of a panic, but then managed to whip up a couple of fabric bookmarks. Who knew being the tooth fairy would keep me on my toes like that?

During the last week of school, before winter holiday, the kids got to go see a play as a school field trip. They saw a show called a "pantomime". The definition of this type of show (as I understand it) is a play with some songs and audience participation mixed in. The "panto" (yes, they really refer to them as such) was "Cinderella". Dadam picked Talia up from school and asked how the show was. She said, "Daddy, Cinderella was THERE. She is real and we really saw her! She was THERE!" The three bigs all saw the same show, Elie went on a different day, and they had a great time.

Now, school is done for winter holiday. We are getting ready for our Amazing London Adventure. We take the train down this afternoon!

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I Said That Because I Did

Elie asked Leila if she wanted some more Cheerios. Leila said "In American I call them O's!"

Leila has turned the corner from baby talk to full-on-kiddo chat. She has an opinion on everything, repeats stories and asks really involved questions that Adam and I can't even answer. Recently we went to the library and got a few books. Leila and I have read them quite a few times, but it didn't seem like that many to me. But I knew Leila had been paying attention when I came into the sitting room and found her "reading" the stories to herself. She was repeating lines, verbatim, on many of the pages and pages where she didn't have the words memorized she was talking about the story. I was amazed.

The other week, on two separate days, she asked me this exact question. "Mommy, when Mommies and Daddies have to go to the hospital in an ambulance, do kids get picked up by cars?" I wasn't sure exactly what answer she was looking, so at first I said "Uhhh, I don't know." Then she repeated it and got agitated, so I said "Yes, I'm sure that they do." And that seemed to satisfy her. But I still don't know what she really meant.

Even with all the talking she does, she still has some words that are adorably cute "toddler" words. She calls Piglet - "piguhwit". She can't be bothered to say radiator, so she just says "radio". Plastic is "plaskit" and ketchup is "chapup". Her fruits and vegetables are also adorable with "clowerflower" as cauliflower, "ponato" as tomato, and banana as a very British "bahnahnah".

She still is slightly obsessed with "nah-nees" (nurses). She was still nursing until June, when she sort of just petered out. But she still insists on commenting when she sees a woman, "Look, Mom, she have NAHNEES." Recently I was in the bathroom getting ready to take a shower and she said, "Mommy, I love your nah-nees." And then just last week she said, "Mommy, you still have milk in your nah-nees." Think she liked breastfeeding??

But I think my absolute favorite is when she goes in the bathroom and closes the door. When she is finished using the toilet she will yell and holler until we come and wipe her. As we enter the bathroom, she will often announce "I closed the door for pwivawy because I did." "Pwivawy" = privacy

Which brings us to another hilarious linguistic pattern that Leila uses all the time, circular logic. We have many sentences that follow this form: "I did (blank) because I did." I always giggle to myself when she says this.

The other day I asked her where she came from. "I came from American and got on a big boat. Then we drove here and stayed at this our house."

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Wet, wild and wooly

It was another Saturday where we had no plans. I said to Adam, "Pick some place with a good hike and some caches. Let's go do something." So he looked and found a nice circle of caches, out on some public footpaths. It ran along a large river and we would get about 8 caches, if we managed to find them all.

Of course, it took us much longer to get ready and so we arrived to where we thought the start of the circle was and it was lunchtime. We started to eat lunch and it started raining. Off we went. We looked for the first cache, no luck. So we moved on to what we thought was the second. We skirted the river, walked through a sheep pasture and kept on walking and walking and walking - away from the cache. Finally it became clear that we were not, in fact, walking where we should be. By now, it was pouring, though it wasn't terribly cold, so we were alright.

We decided that we should just keep walking because a bridge back across the river to where the caches actually were, couldn't be far. Right? WRONG! We got so concerned that Adam pulled out the iPhone to look at GoogleEarth to see where the next bridge was. We also had foolishly NOT brought the Ergo to carry Leila, so poor Adam had her on his shoulders. After crossing the bridge, and walking on the other side for several miles - through more rain and some sunshine - as the sun was setting we crossed back over the river and found our car. We walked about five miles, got soaked to the skin and only managed to find two caches. Bah....

Fast forward one week to Adam's birthday. The temperature dropped five degrees or so and the wind was blowing madly. We decided that we really wanted to grab the giant circle of caches we had attempted the week before and so we went out again!

This time we knew where the start of the cache circle was and so we drove there to try and park. No dice. 20 minutes later we were back across the river where we had parked the week previous, but now we knew where to go to start the caches. We ate lunch and headed out.

It was just sprinkling when we got started, but as we are came out of the bit of wooded area we had been walking in, it started to pour. At that point we had only grabbed a couple of caches and the promise of seven more lit up Adam's face, so we pressed on.

These caches were on "public footpaths" which are paths that the public right to use superscedes the right of land ownership. So, landowners are required to keep the paths open and accessible to anyone who wants to walk on them. It is a completely foreign idea to Americans and it is very awkward and strange for us to do, but we are getting used to it. Probably the most interesting part is that the paths often take hikers right through livestock paddocks and grazing areas!

We came to a part of the footpath that went right through someone's parking lot and barn yard. I must have asked Adam 15 times if he really thought it was okay for us to be there. Then we came to a horse paddock. Where there were two ponies. I got a little nervous.

I am a suburban girl. I've not had much contact with farm animals and what little contact I've had hasn't been enough to give me much confidence in dealing with them. I can do nature, but large animals are another story entirely.

We stood and debated for quite a while whether or not we should get into the paddock with the ponies. Was there another way? Was this *really* the way the footpath went? We just didn't know. To add to my nervousness, as soon as we put Talia over the fence, the ponies took notice and immediately began to trot over too us. I made Adam retrieve Talia immediately. The ponies were very friendly and just wanted to see if we had any food on us, which we did not. They watched us intently, though, the whole time we were walking through and only went back to grazing when we were all safely over the wall and away from them.

By now, we were on top of the hill and the wind had picked up. It was getting very cold. The kids were wet and really starting to feel tired. I was starting to be worn out too. But by now it was just as far to continue on as it was to turn back, so on we went.

After a bit more walking we turned to go downhill and came upon another paddock to walk through. Only this one had cows and lots of them and some of them had horns. In my cold and worn out state, I felt like we were certainly going to land in some big trouble. And I was scared.

I made Adam pick up Talia, I had Leila in the Ergo on my back. Then Elie held my hand and Isaac held Adam's hand. We started walking into the field and the cows started trotting towards us. Bah! The footpath followed the stone wall, but as we started walking, one of the cows with horns was between us and the wall. Adam and I were both concerned that he would feel cornered and try to escape through us.

This seems so silly as I write it down, but it was really scary. Those animals are MUCH bigger than people and really dumb. And here we are, a group of city-slickers, traipsing around farming country with our babies! in tow!!!!

Mommy instinct took over and I made my "eh-eh-eh" noise, the one I use to get the kids's attention when they are doing something they shouldn't, and the cows stopped in their tracks. We continued on through the pasture and out the bottom gate.

The sun started going down and the wind picked up even more. We stormed through six-inch-deep mud and down the hill in to the valley. Adam picked up five more caches along the way. When we got to the car, the kids were so cold, they were blue. But we stripped them out of their wet clothes and got them bundled under the fleecy car blankets and they were fine.

All in all we got nine caches, which is a record day for the whole family. And we really did have a great time hiking and adventuring. But it sure was an adventure, which I suppose is half the fun.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Through the Reading Glass

Talia can read! That is right, #3 is reading. And she is excited, motivated and picking it up quickly. Yee HAW!

Since the British school system begins a year earlier than the American system, and it is full day school from the start, they have loads of time to teach each child to read. During the orientation for parents program that our school did, they made it clear that they expect every child to be reading by the end of the year AND they would be able to write full sentences of dictation. We were ecstatic to have a ton more support from school than we had with the older two.

I was a little nervous at first because Talia had been slow to identify which letters of the alphabet were which. It is now my opinion that her "not knowing" was an act because she has been quickly picking up letter sounds and putting them together to make words. The school uses a cool phonics "scheme" that puts together the sounds of the letters with hand/body motions making learning a lot of fun and something that makes a big impression on the little brains.

I love how enthusiastic she is. She is trying to sound out everything. Unfortunately, she has two older readers who haven't quite picked up on the fact that they shouldn't yell the answers out. Isaac is especially hard up to "help" her all the time. Elie has learned that she should keep quiet, but still has a hard time sometimes. I also love that it is another completely different experience; Elie had to be encouraged to learn, Isaac picked it up through osmosis, and here is Talia enthusiastically working hard. Learning to read is a beautiful thing!