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.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Birds of Prey and Longbows

Here are pictures of the kids getting a chance to see some birds of prey (a kestrel and an owl) up close and personal.

Above the kids are holding a common kestrel.  She weighed around six ounces and had been hand reared.  She preferred to face away from the camera because food and perches were on that side! 

 Here we all get a chance to hold the owl!  It was a bit heavier at about two pounds. 

Noodle, The Boy-child and PrincessE try out the longbow.  For some reason Lu-lu would NOT try it out.  Everyone else had a fun time giving it a try. 

Sunday, March 27, 2011

You Are My Sunshine

Have we been blessed or are we just lucky? Or is our happiness the direct result of our hard work, attention and masses of love?

Weekends like this one past are so healing. I feel like I am floating around, goofy smile on my face, head-over-heels in love with my good fortune, fantastic life and amazing family.

Everyone did their homework as soon as asked. Big school projects were completed with engaged thinking and a minimum of fussing. We planted seeds to start our container vegetable garden, readied the containers for the proper soil when it is the proper time and even started some in-house herbs. The kids watched a movie; we were all together. We went to a football game and a football practice, we cleaned a bit and picked and put. There was piano practicing, playing outside and laughter. Dadam and I got dinner all readied, then we all went outside and played a big family football game. Well, most of us played. Noodle isn't really too interested in group sports yet. And there was more laughter. Lots more.

Monday, March 21, 2011

(A)bbey (B)rewery (C)astle

This weekend we had some visitors! My AuntB and UncleM stopped through on their way to a vacation in Israel.

We took the opportunity to have some fun day trips; some places we'd been and some we hadn't.

Saturday we went up to Fountains Abbey. The day started off beautifully, but got cloudy and cooled off. But we still had a fabulous day sharing one of our favorite places.

Saturday night we went and experienced an Orthodox Megillah reading, to celebrate Purim. Last year we attended the same schul for Purim. PrincessE was selected for best costume and she won a prize. But we didn't stay to collect it. This year, before the reading began, the President of the congrgation stood up and asked for the "red fairy" to come and collect the prize he didn't have a chance to hand out last year! He said it had been sitting in his office for a year and that he had wanted to get it to the child to whom it had been awarded. The kids were completely wiped out so we listened to the reading and then headed straight home.

On Sunday we went a bit further north and toured a brewery (we had been to before) and a castle (we hadn't seen before).

That's the brewery we stopped at. It's the Theakston's brewery. Unfortunately, health and safety prevents the kiddos from going on the tour. (Something that clearly disgusted the member of the Theakston's family that we had the pleasure of chatting with.). But we did take the kids inside and had some beer, played some chess and go fish, and made sure we enjoyed ourselves.

We had a picnic lunch in the car and then headed out to see Bolton Castle. Its claim to fame is that Mary Queen of Scots was imprisoned there for a few months. Some of the castle has fallen down, but there was still plenty to see and explore. We also got to take part in a birds of prey demonstration (and I do mean take part- we all got a chance to hold a kestrel and an owl!) and take part in a longbow demonstration. (I'll post pictures in the next post.)

We ended our day in the castle gardens, where the kids enjoyed the maze and the adults soaked up the view. I so enjoy these opportunities to share where we live with visitors AND to explore more ourselves!

Chag Purim

Purim is our costume holiday. It is so nice for the kids to get to dress up for school. They get so excited. This year (like last) there was a great deal of indecision regarding what to dress up as. I had to finally force them all to make a decision so I had a bit of lead time.

PrincessE and The Boy-child wanted to be Harry Potter and Hermione. I looked online and discovered that the costumes were 22 quid each!!! There was no way that was going to fly. So I decided to make their wizarding robes. I found a little tutorial online, grabbed an old black sheet to cut up and downloaded an embroidery pattern for the Gryffindor house crest. It took me one afternoon to get the robes made up. We braided PrincessE's wet hair the night before so she would have wavy hair. The Boy-child had glasses and a scar face painted on. All sorted.

In the beginning, Lu-Lu wanted to be a carrot. Of course, she changed her mind. She then decided on being a Tooth Fairy. We already had a white dress, but Dadam and I made some tooth shapes to put on the wings, a tooth to go on the front of the dress and we whipped up a tooth wand. She also got some teeth painted on her cheeks.

Poor Noodle got a barfing virus on Wednesday before dress up day on Friday. So she couldn't go to school dressed up. Her plan was to be Tinkerbell. But Friday morning, she asked if she could dress up anyway. And she told us all she was the "Queen of the Uvinersity".

Ahh, Purim done for another year!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

High Inquisitor

We are going to Israel over Pesach(Passover) this year.  I am excited for so many reasons; my parents are meeting us there, I don't have to do ANY Pesach cleaning or shopping, I am going to Israel for the first time.  It's all good.  The kids are also very excited, but we hadn't told them that GranEde and GranDude were potentially going to be joining us.  Last Friday I got confirmation that they had got tickets!  When I told the kids on Saturday morning, a great cheer erupted.  Seriously.  There were whoops and yays and clapping.   After the celebration was over, PrincessE turned to me, hands on hips, and said, "How long have you known about this?" 

Monday, March 7, 2011

Into the Drink

On a Monday the kiddos all have swim lessons.  The lessons work out so that the younger three have lessons the first half hour and PrincessE has her lesson the second half hour.  To pass the time, the younger three have a good time splashing about in a small, very shallow circular pool.  It works out nicely. 

On the last Monday in February, all was normal.  The first set of lessons went well and the three and I went to hang out at the shallow pool.  Over came a little boy who I have noticed is not spectacularly closely watched by his mother, which is problematic because he is about four years old at most.  He has a tendency to be rambunctious and a bit of a risk taker and she is never particularly observant or concerned.  (We'll call him "Wild" for the sake of this little story.)  Wild jumped in the shallow pool as he is wont to do, he got back out.  He threw toys over the edge.  My kids ignored him.  His mother stayed on the opposite side of the pool, chatting with another woman.  Wild stood up and took off his water wings.  He threw those into the deep end, which is right next to the small shallow pool.  His mother didn't even look over.  A few moments later, Wild hopped down out of the shallow pool, stood at the side of the deep end and jumped in. 

I had been watching this whole time, mostly because I didn't want Wild to inadvertently hurt one of my kids.  As soon as he jumped in, I glanced around.  It was clear that he did not have the skills to be in the water without support and he began to struggle immediately.  The lifeguard was not at her normal station and I didn't see any other adults around.  Wild's head dipped under the water and I took the three or four steps to the side of the pool and slipped in, catching him with my left hand and all the while holding the wall with my right.  I guided him to the side and by that point his mother and some people she knew were there.  We all got out.  There I was, soaking wet and feeling slightly sheepish, but I knew that I had done what I needed to to make sure that Wild was all right. 

As I took stock of my own kiddos and what had happened, I realized that my brand new (less than three weeks old), Valentine's Day surprise gift from Dadam, iphone was in my pocket.  I gasped, pulled it out and wrapped it in a towel.  I felt like I didn't want to make a big deal about it because I was slightly embarrassed I had gotten in the pool in the first place.  And I began to feel furious with myself and Wild's mother for being so incredibly irresponsible.  I got the kids out of the pool and took them in the locker room.   

Tuesday morning I began to brainstorm how to replace my phone.  I called our renters insurance.  No luck.  I called Apple.  No luck.  I went to work.  I came home.  I felt hopeless and really pissed off.  Wednesday I got a brainstorm to speak to the health club where the incident occurred.  I felt like the lifeguard was perhaps neglectful in her duties and that they might be able to at least help cover some of the cost to replace my phone.  I called and spoke to a manager.  She said she'd make some calls and assured me she would call me that evening.  Evening came and I didn't hear from her.  The next day I did more research about purchase insurance on the credit card Dadam had used and left a message for the manager.  Thursday evening I finally heard back from the manager.  "I've spoken to our regional manager and he says there's nothing we can do for you.  But I can provide you a letter that is proof of the incident for your insurance company."  Okay, fine.  I'll take the letter, I think to myself.  At least it will be something. 

However, during all this my frustration was growing.  I began to wonder what sort of legal rights I might have.  And so I asked a friend of ours who is a lawyer for some advice.  He told me that if there was no lifeguard around, then I could take the health club to small claims court on the basis of neglect.  Super!  Except....I have seen, firsthand, the sort of toll that lawsuits and claims take on a person's life and well being.  I was hardly able to handle four days of dealing with all the phone calls and stress.  I really didn't want to drag this on for months.  I also felt a great deal of misgiving about taking the health club to court.  Lawsuits aren't something to be taken lightly.  And I have many concerns about the litigiousness of American culture these days.  I knew I had done the right thing and in doing so I took a risk.  I wanted to take full responsibility for that.  By threatening a suit was I evading responsibility? 

On Friday I went in to the health club to pick up the letter and it was un-locatable.  I got more than a little frustrated and, during my conversation with the general manager, revealed that I had spoken with a lawyer about what my rights might be.  He immediately began blustering about opening a full investigation and if the CCTV showed that I was lying, then I would just have to deal with that.  It was uncomfortable and I would be lying if I said I wasn't beginning to doubt that I had done the right thing.  What if the CCTV showed that I had panicked and jumped in without giving the lifeguard a chance?  Well then, I'd just have to remember to take a deep breath and look around before jumping in next time.  But I didn't think I had.  I really remembered there being no.one.around.  I urged the manager to initiate the investigation and privately wondered why they hadn't been able to self-start that sort of action.  Though I really doubted that anything would come of it, anytime in the near future. 

Saturday I had enough.  A couple of friends had urged me to physically go in to an Apple store and tell them my story.  They all seemed quite sure that Apple would replace the phone, free of charge.  I felt really ambivalent about taking advantage of that potential offer.  It also wasn't Apple's fault that I had my phone in my pocket while I was poolside and it certainly wasn't Apple's fault that Wild jumped in or that Wild's mother wasn't paying attention.  I just didn't know what to do.  There was a possibility that they would charge me a replacement fee.  Dadam and I had discussed it and we both were willing to pay (less than full price of a new phone, but still not small change) just to be done with the situation.  So I went.  The kids and I took a lovely day out and combined it with a trip to the massively heaving mall.  (It was so incredibly busy I made all the kids hold on to me because I was afraid I'd loose someone!)  We got to the Apple store, I told my story and the lady said they'd give me a new one.  I nearly cried right there in the store.  I signed some paperwork and walked out with a brand new phone.

The rest of the weekend was nice.  The kids and I had a great time together, though The Boy-child did have a bit of a rough football match, and Sunday night as we were getting ready for dinner the phone rang. It was the manager from the health club. "We've had a look at the CCTV and spoken with the lifeguard.  We'd like to offer you full replacement value for your phone."  I told her it had been taken care of.   And thanked her for getting back to me.  I felt relieved and vindicated and good.  I was right.  I did the right thing. 

I'm no longer carrying my phone pool-side.  No way.  It occurred to me that were it my own child, I'd get in even faster.  And I don't want to hesitate because of a stupid phone.