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.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Chag Purim

Since we didn't do any Halloween last year and since Purim is a big deal over here, we went pretty involved with the costumes this year. Isaac wanted to be a green/yellow monster, Elie requested a green/red fairy costume and Talia and Leila did their routine waffling over what they wanted to be. First they wanted to be fairies and then they settled on re-using some purple care bear costumes I had made a couple of years ago. To add to the fun, we bought a set of face paints.

Of course, I waited until the last possible minute to start making costumes. I am a fool. But, it ended up working out alright. I took an old green care bear costume and pulled the ears, stomach emblem and tail off of it. Then I added some crazy bright yellow fabric and ta-dah, a monster! Elie's I made completely from scratch, but we did bogart the wings from another costume we had laying around. A quick seam rip of the hems on the legs made Talia and Leila's costumes mostly not too short and we were in business!!

Elie wasn't quite sure how she wanted her face painted, so I tried to adapt something from our face painting book.  It turned out a little, well, extreme, but it worked for her and she ended up winning a prize for her costume!  Dadam painted Isaac's face and did a downright freaky job of it.  There was a forked tongue on his chin!  Some of the other kids did not recognize him, it was fantastic.  And our two purple care bears had face paint to match.  They were adorable, thought a bit too warm inside the synagogue.

With Friends Like These....

I think my kids are pretty easy to get along with. This isn't to say I believe they are perfect angels or that they never make me crazy. However, they have mostly good social skills, can read social situations, don't call names or make fun and they know how to share. But right now, Isaac and Elie are both have a difficult time dealing with some of their peers and, as a result, Dadam and I are struggling too.

Isaac desperately wants to be well liked and liked by everyone. He is especially attracted to kids who are popular and who get to play with everyone. Unfortunately, the kids he wants to hang around with don't seem to be very nice to him. Recently he asked if he could bring lunch to school. Okay, I said. We packed his lunch and the first day one of the boys he's been choosing to eat with told him that what he had brought wasn't allowed. Second day this boy tells him he can't have cold soup. Third day they all make a big deal about the cheese on his pizza. Fourth day they tease him so much he won't finish his lunch and brings it home basically uneaten! ARGHGHGHGHGH We have talked to him many times about staying away from people who choose not to be nice, we've talked about ignoring. Oh it is so hard to see them unhappy!! He did, finally, sit next to some girls who were a lot nicer.

Elie has struggled from the beginning of the year; first with one group of girls and then another, being mean and hateful. Now a girl who was Elie's friend, is being incredibly manipulative and is alternately very clingy and downright mean. Elie generally just ignores this behavior and finds someone else to play with, but lately the antics of this particular girl are causing some sadness.

Elie knows she is different and she is proud of it. She doesn't shy away from beating her own drum and doing what she knows is right and what feels good to her. Isaac knows he is different and doesn't like it. He fights against it and ignores it, but it comes through anyway.

It is agonizing to see them struggle. I don't think that it weighs on them all the time. I'm not sure that they think about it much from day to day, but it certainly causes them sadness/frustration/confusion in the moment. I guess they have to figure it out on their own. We can give advice and be there as a sounding board and sympathetic ear, but we can't fix it for them. Even though I *know* all that, it's still hard.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Eight is GREAT

Dearest Princess Elie,

Happy Birthay, my dear. Today you are eight years old. Woah. I am the mother of an eight year old. But what does that mean? You'll have to forgive me, I'm doing the best I can to muddle through and make sure I'm allowing you to grow and experience, while you are still learning to be safe in the big-wonderful-world.

This year has been a big one for you, and us. We moved to a different country; you left behind a house where our family gained two more children and made many memories. You've begun to be involved in after-school activities. You've started actively helping prepare food by cutting bell-peppers, broccoli and cauliflower. (Even if I do quietly cringe to myself in the corner the whole time you are wielding a knife.) You are reading more and more advanced books and still devouring any printed material you can get your hands on. (Yesterday you were reading the promotion material on the restaurant table where we were eating lunch.) You love to write stories and draw pictures. You make up songs and imaginary games with gusto. You have taken up the piano and would take up the violin if I would let you squeeze it in. All the while you are busy, busy, asking questions, making observations and growing into such a beautiful young lady.

You have handled the transition to England with a smile and a head-down determination to make friends and excel in school. You struggled a bit in the beginning of the year because your age mates have had one more year formal schooling than you have, but you have caught up and are doing just fine. In some ways, social adjustment has been a more difficult task. You are so friendly and open, unfortunately not everyone appreciates or understands that. You have struggled with being different, but you are amazingly self-confident. I know that it puzzles and saddens you that the other children can't just accept that everyone is not the same. You have learned to ignore their cruelty with an amazing matter-of-fact attitude and keep your head up. You have found friends and you always go to school with a smile on your face. We are so proud of you.

You continue to be a mensch, in the truest sense of the word. You are always concerned with helping others, big and small. Sometimes this causes a bit of an uproar, like when you believe that a child walking alone must be lost and we must do something NOW. But for the most part, your desire to help other people is generous and sweet, well-meant and good-hearted. You are always ready to help Dadam and I, or one of your siblings. You have an amazing memory and are excellent at reminding us when we've forgotten something. You are a pro at taking turns and sharing.

You have recently started sewing projects on your own and have done a great job with that. You love to create with your hands and are always excited to try new projects. I can see that sewing is something you will like to do a lot of and it is so fun to share that with you.

I love watching you grow and change. I know that Dadam and I expect a lot from you and you meet our expectations amazingly. I sometimes forget that you are only eight because you are so mature in so many ways. You are beautiful and amazing. And I love being your Mommy.

Happy eighth birthday, my Princess Elie.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Hairy Situation

Talia has been asking, on and off, to get her hair cut for years. It started when we cut Elie's for the first time and has continued since. When we moved here, she became more insistent and regular about asking. I was always hesitant. Her hair took AGES to grow in. When it finally did, it was thin and fine and impossible to control. Her hair is also stick.straight. It is always geting in her food, paint, whatever she is working on. And to add to the hair mess, she recently developed the yucky habit of sucking on her hair.

It had become a hassle in the mornings and I could tell she didn't like having it long anymore. She was sure she wanted it cut, so today I took her to the bathroom-hair salon and cut her beautiful locks.

This is her hair before:

(The picture is unintentionally stark.)

And a couple after shots:

She loves it. And I am sad. And relieved. And sad. But, it was the same with Elie, it's not my head. My girls are growing up!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Settle, Settling, Settled!!! (Shew!)

Wednesday and today were both great days for Leila at nursery. Thank goodness. I was very nervous that it wasn't going to go well. But Wednesday morning we went in, Leila took her coat right off, found her coat hook, took "bittybaby" and went off to play in the sand. I sat next to her for a few minutes, which is what she asked me to do, and then I gave her a hug and a kiss and said I was going to go. She said, "Okay. Will you come to pick me up a little early?" I said yes and I went on my way! I came home and had a piano lesson, did some laundry and cross stitch and then it was time to pick her up.

Today, same drill for her. She was excited to go, happy to be there and fine with me leaving. THIS is the child I know; happy, confident, outgoing, interested and interactive. I am still worried that perhaps we made the wrong choice by sending her, but I suppose one could second-guess oneself from now until eternity and nothing would ever get done. She's happy and so we'll go with it. I'm just glad there aren't any more tears.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dr. Isaac, D.D.S.

Elie's top two center teeth decided that the best way to grow in would be to simply push the baby teeth down until they fell out. The left side went first. It did a marginal job and she did end up with her baby tooth hanging down, much lower than the rest of her teeth, but still refusing to be pulled out. Finally, after a week or so of hanging there, it got loose enough to pull. Then the right side tooth started coming down. And it was coming down crookedly. Within the last week, the baby tooth has been hanging below the other teeth in a gross-snaggle-tooth sort of way. But only half of it was hanging down. At the beginning of this week, the tooth was hanging down so far, that we could see the root on the far left side, but the right side was not wiggling at.all.

Last night I noticed that the gum above was very red and irritated. Dadam and I both tried to pull the pesky tooth out, but it would not budge. Elie reported that it was difficult to eat and starting to be painful. After a brief confab, Dadam agreed to call the base dentist to get her in to see someone.

Dadam called and made an appointment for tomorrow morning. Everyone was relieved, but the tooth was still hanging in there. (Pun completely intended!)

This evening we were horsing around a bit after story time. Elie was sitting in my lap and Isaac was climbing on my arm. All of a sudden, Isaac tipped backwards and as he was falling he popped Elie right in the mouth with his hand. I turned to see Elie, mouth hanging open and bleeding, with an extra tooth laying on her bottom row of teeth.

Dadam sat Elie up, got the tooth out of her mouth, and hustled her to the bathroom to clean up her face. Isaac began to cry, worried that he had hurt Elie and also because he had cut his hand when it bumped into her teeth. He was much more worried about hurting Elie than himself. Elie actually told him, "Isaac, it's okay! My tooth came out and now I don't have to go to the dentist!"

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

To Nursery or Not To Nursery, That is The Question

Leila's first two weeks of Nursery were fabulous. Everyday we went in she was happy to go. She said goodbye and was off and doing as soon as she got her coat off. Third week, something changed. Something BIG. All of a sudden she was *hysterical* when I tried to drop her off. She begged me not to leave, so I didn't. I took her home. The next day I took her again and again she cried. We got her involved in something interesting and I snuck out, feeling like a terrible mother. Thursday night she stayed awake in bed begging me not to leave her at nursery. She wouldn't go to sleep until I promised her that she wouldn't have to go. And Friday we tried again, but this time she spent half an hour at home in tears. Last week was horrible.

I have really been in some mommy-anguish. She was so incredibly excited to go before we even got her in the program. I drug my feet because I wanted her home with me and because, since Elie, we haven't tried to send anyone to preschool at two years old. But she kept asking and asking. And she was so.incredibly.excited.before she started. I don't need her to go, I don't have to work, there's no reason she *has* to go. I know it is a great program. There are always loads of teachers and helpers around and lots of different fun activities to keep the kiddos busy. They are kind and gentle and it is a nice environment. To add to all of this, she is always smiling when I pick her up and excited about what they did. But I HATE sneaking away and I don't like leaving her when I know that she is going to cry when she notices I am gone. By the time last Friday rolled around, I was ready to just pull her out of the program. Dadam and I talked and we decided to give it one more week.

This morning we woke up and she was so excited to go to school, but in between being excited she told Dadam she didn't want to go. Then she had a brief cry when I got out my jogging clothes and so I promised not to go without her. (Jogging without having to push the stroller is one of the perks of school for me, so that was hard to do!!) We sang some songs as we walked to school and as soon as she got in the door, she saw a pasting activity that she was so excited to do that she couldn't get out of her coat fast enough. But when I went to kiss her goodbye, her little eyes filled with tears and she said "I don't want to stay at Nursery." I wiped her tears and hung around until she got settled pasting again and then I left.

Oh....I don't know if this is the right thing to do! She loves being there, but she doesn't like me leaving. Her teacher suggested that I come to pick her up quite early and I did. She was having a GREAT time and was so excited to show me all the things she had done. We talked all about her day and shared a new song with the other kids. Tonight at dinner she was telling everyone that she was going to bring BittyBaby to school with her tomorrow. She was so excited.

I just hope she doesn't cry tomorrow. I don't know that nursery is worth all these tears.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Museum Day

Today we took a faboo family outing with another couple of families from school to Eureka! The National Kids Museum.

We met up there and had an amazing time exploring and experiencing and playing together. It was a really well laid out museum and there were all the exhibits you'd expect in a place like that; lots of hands on and doing, with learning cunningly mixed in.

They also happened to have a special room set up where there was face painting, balloon sculpture and make your own circular button badge thingies. (I'm having trouble with coming up with the proper name of the things, but you know: the circular badges with a safety pin on the back.)

An Eliecat!

A Taliacat!

A Leilafly.

And our Issacster.

It was a great visit and a years pass was included in our admission. I have a feeling we'll be visiting again!

ps. Totally shocked that Isaac wanted (and them followed through with) face painting. He is notoriously shy about doing anything that he percieves will draw attention to himself or make him look too different from everyone else. It was a good day.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Tickling the Ivories

For a while now, I have been wanting to get the older three kids involved in playing the piano. I didn't want to force them, but I did want them to be exposed if they were interested. In Virginia, we tried and tried to find someone to come to the house and give lessons. I could.not.find anyone who was willing to do that. So we never got lessons started. When we got here I did some poking around online and discovered that it is common for teachers to come to you. Yay! It makes life so much easier if I can just keep Leila (and whoever isn't having a lesson) out of a room and entertained with their own toys, rather than keep them entertained in someone else's space.

We tried with one teacher, but I wasn't impressed and so I hunted around a bit more. I found a lovely non-profit music program that matches teachers with students of all abilities and levels. We had a meet-up lesson where we got to see how the suggested teacher fit with the kids. MissMelodist was a perfect fit; focused and able to gently keep them on task, knowledgeable and self assured. The kids have now had two lessons with her and are loving it! They ask to practice everyday and are learning to read music. MissMelodist has been so enthusiastic and encouraging, they are excited about the lessons all the time.

If all their enthusiasm wasn't good enough, they all seem to have some skill and are learning quickly. I don't know if they'll stick with it forever, but for now they are loving the chance to learn!

Thursday, February 4, 2010

EveryParent No More

Today was our first day of having Dadam back after four weeks of him being gone. We are all so happy to have him home with us!

He ended up not needing to be in NOVA for five weeks and got to come home a week early. Terrible weather patterns conspired to keep him away, but he fought through and got home last night.

His flight was three hours late leaving DC, so he missed his connecting flight in London. Then it was snowing in Manchester and the airport was closed! So they rerouted the flight to Liverpool and then bussed them back to Manchester. In Manchester, he got a taxi and finally made it home.

The kiddos were very disappointed when he wasn't home for dinner last night, but they were thrilled to find him home this morning. It is so nice to be a two parent household once again.