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, September 24, 2011

Birthday Magic

Dear Boy-Child,
For nearly the past year you have eschewed a hair cut.  Currently your hair is longer than two of your sisters' hair.  It is quite amazing.  Recently you have been mistaken for a girl, more than a few times.  I cringe every time it happens because there are times that you can be, well, delicate.  But completely opposite what I expected from you, you have shrugged it off and not been bothered at all.  In fact, I think it may have strengthened your resolve to continue growing it out.  Either way the hair continues to surprise me, as a point of pride and individuality for you.

Since your school days began I have been concerned about your ability to be your own person.  In preschool you seemed to adopt horrid behaviors of other children (particularly little boys) were exhibiting them.  In kindergarten you moved on from horrid behaviors to poor academic choices if there were other children goofing off.  (I remember one parent teacher conference where your kindergarten teacher showed us your journal.  You had been writing rhyming word sentences, ie "The fat cat sat on a mat."  It was a big deal because it a)wasn't the assignment and b)you and another little girl at your table were in cahoots to write the same silly sentence!)  When we arrived in England, you were most concerned with looking like the other boys and doing what the other boys were doing.  You were desperate to fit in and to Not be Different.  (Of course, you've got an American accent, I know that in the beginning you wished you could go to school and not have to speak!)  But slowly, slowly, you are growing up and realizing that Different isn't so bad, that it is at worst unavoidable and at best something to choose. 

You have really settled down here.  If one could take away your accent, I think that anyone would be hard pressed to identify you as a boy who wasn't from this area.  You are well liked and well regarded by students and teachers alike.  I love how the older boys seek you out for high-fives in the morning and how you enjoy greeting most kids you see with a "hey" and a smile.  I am very proud that, in a class with quite a few trouble-makers, you have decided that fitting in is not as important as doing what you know is right.  You did recently have a run in with the Assistant Head Teacher and were made to stand outside the Head Teacher's office and miss a bit of playtime.  But the flush in your face and the look in your eyes assured me you'll be very careful not to let that happen again anytime soon! 

I know you are heart broken to leave here at the end of this year.  You cry about it every time we talk about it.  You always mournfully say what good friends you have here and how fun it is to be here.  It was hard for you to leave VA and I know it will be harder for you to leave here.  You have done so much growing up here and moving away from it will be a very bitter-sweet adventure.  But I know that you will be just fine. 

This year you have decided to go against the tide of football-playing boys in your class and strike out on your own by playing tennis.  You were very, very bored with football by the end of the season last year, mostly because the coaches would not let you play any position other than goals.  Granted, you were quite good at goals, but you weren't enjoying it.  You asked them to let you play another position (yay, for speaking up for yourself!) but they were unresponsive.  So we encouraged you to try another activity and you picked tennis.  You have shown quite an aptitude and they are encouraging us to put you in private lessons and possibly to start competing, all this after only six weeks of beginner lessons!  Dadam and I are taking it slow and making sure you are really enjoying it, you are excited to learn and progress.  It's amazing to watch you grow!

Academically you are doing really well.  You have decided that writing is something you *can* do and that has turned on for you.  You'd still rather read than do just about anything else and you still seem to have a bit of a difficult time completing the work that needs to be done.  I am unsure if you are bored or just having trouble focusing.  Either way, you've got to learn that sometimes you have to jump through the hoops, no matter how boring.  I am sure you'll get there.

You are doing fantastically with piano and enjoy picking out songs by ear.  It is lovely to hear you play.  You have certainly experienced an uptick in responsibility for yourself (you are much less prone to hit your sisters - thank goodness) and I love being able to hand a task over to you and know that it will get completed.  You are a "super-helper" (as the title goes in our house) and love to help cut up veggies and anything else I'll allow you to do in the kitchen. 

Since you have read all the Harry Potter books twice in the last six months, you are quite obsessed with them right now.  Recently you very sweetly told me that you were sure, somewhere - maybe in Mexico you said, Hogwarts was Real.  There is Magic Here.  I tried to gently let you down, there is no Hogwarts, no "magic" of the Harry Potter variety in this world.  But I think you might still believe, at least I hope you do.   

Oh, Boy-child, you are amazing to me.  I burst with pride at the growing you are doing, at the person you are becoming.  You are sensitive, sweet, intelligent and incredibly perceptive.  You are silly (the tooth-fairy brought you a joke book, which has become well-worn and much giggled at) and quick to laugh.  You amaze me with your questions and your insight.  I hope that it doesn't break your heart when we leave here, I know it has been a fantastic few years.  We'll all still have each other, though I know Sisters are not the same as School Friends.  I think, no, I know, you'll be okay with your big toothy grin, jokes and wand with spells at the ready. 

Happy 8th Birthday, my special Boy-Child. 
I love you.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Just a Spoon Full of Sugar

For some reason the kids don't hassle us an enormous amount about helping out around the house. We started letting them help load and unload the dish washer when they could walk and they loved it. Now they just know it's part of the deal.

Lu discovered she could stand at the sink and reach into the dishwater. For a while she played around with the suds and the dish cloth.

She made a "cake" and some "mittens".

Then I had some dirty dishes, so I popped them in the water. And then she was so big and Washing the Dishes! Noodle wanted in on the action and so she pulled up a tall chair at the rinsing side.

Were there ever two cuter scullery maids!?!?? If only these smiley faces will always be what greets us when (in their teenaged futures) we ask them to clean up the kitchen!

The Times They are a Changin'

School is here again.  Just six short weeks ago the kids were out for summer holidays.  We went to Ireland and visited with friends and family from near and far.   All the kids had their first ever experience with summer day camp (so fun!) and just had a great time playing and reading and doing some projects around the house.  Six weeks goes by mighty fast when you are having so much fun. 

But we knew it was coming.  Not only was it coming for The Bigs, but our Noodle joined the fun this year.  Yes, four is early, but here in England, that's how they do it.  It's a play based learning year, so they are doing a majority of learning through play, but there is no doubt that they are doing lots of learning too, as they come out at the end of the year reading!! 

The week prior to school beginning, Noodle had been uncharacteristically ill-behaved.  There had been lots of crying (about nothing and everything, where did my sunny Noodle go?), she had been doing lots of attention-getting-annoying to her brother and sisters, there was even a bit of grabbing, shoving and terrorizing!!  It wasn't fun at all.  I was sure that she was anxious about what school was really like, but she just didn't know how to talk about it.  It all came to a head on Sunday night, when she began sobbing and could barely get herself under control.  She said, "Will they want me to read on the first day, because I don't *know* how to read!"  And I hugged her and said, "Oh, sweetheart, no they don't expect you to know how to read on the first day!"  She wiped her eyes and said, "I can write my name though, will that be good?"  Oh my sweet, sweet OCD child.  More reassuring and lots of patting later, she finally drifted off in to sleep. 

Monday morning we all got up with smiles on our faces and ready to face the new school year!  Yay!!  Here they all are, dressed in their school uniforms:

We got to school and got everyone settled.  Noodle was the last to go in and we got her in to her classroom, where she gave kisses all around, said "goodbye!"  And ran off to play with her friends.  She didn't even look back. 

I had a few obligatory sniffles on Dadam's shoulder in the parking lot before going in to work, but all in all I felt at peace and really okay with the situation.  Noodle is where she should be.  She's ready to fly with the other kids.  I know she's still quite little.  She's only four after all.  But she's growing those wings and doing just fine.  I think I can roll with this change.