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, September 26, 2012

Harry Potter Birthday

The Boy-Child wanted a Harry Potter themed birthday cake (again!).  So Dadam and I had to come up with something a bit different this year.  We went for the Hogwarts crest and I think it came out pretty darn good.  Thank goodness for Dadam's steady hand with the icing.  He did an amazing job! 

Monday, September 24, 2012

Niner-Niner: We have a Birthday

Dear Boy-child,

Another year, another series of transitions.  Does it ever end?  I think sometimes you'd like that.  It would be best, in your mind, if we could all just stay the same forever.  It's not a bad thing, just an observation.

This year's transition seems to have been hardest, of all the kiddos, on you.  You continue to grow out your hair and seem unfazed by the nearly daily references to you as our fourth "little girl".  You struggled when we had to leave every place we stopped this summer.  You were saddened by drive-bys of my childhood homes and brought to tears when we talked about leaving.  Change is not your friend, my boy.  I know you see change as an adversary and something that causes you to loose control.

In spite of all that, you are doing okay.  School has not been an easy transition for you, but because of your general laid back demeanor you've not been too outwardly affected by it.  You probably don't enjoy much of the academics, it's too easy or they're asking you to do something you dislike (like writing), so you're not really having a good go of it.  But we're working on learning to jump through the hoops and encouraging you to find the good parts where you can.  And mostly you come home from school happy and happy to be home.

We have had some struggles with homework.  The fact is, you've had a really hard time focusing on getting it done.  In England you only had homework once a week, given out on Friday.  Here there is homework everyday BUT Friday!  And it's not one or two pieces either.  I despaired during the first two weeks of school when it took you hours to get three pieces of homework done.  You've managed to buckle it down a little and I am crossing my fingers that your attention span grows and FAST!

I suppose this sounds a bit like you've been morose and unhappy, which is not at all the case.  Your lively, loud, punny sense of humor has only been developed further this year!  You love to laugh and find all sorts of hilarious points in everyday life.  You also love a good joke and have been experimenting with writing your own.  Those mostly end with silence from the audience and you saying,  "Get it?  Do ya get it??"

We haven't yet found an after school program for you.  I feel a little overwhelmed, what with all the homework you've been struggling with and then the three times a week Hebrew school, I'm not sure where we would fit it in.  I think you miss tennis and I hope we can get you involved in a sport after school in the near future.

You've found friends at school and you've enjoyed learning basketball, handball, and playing variants of each of those games.  You also decided that the trumpet would be your instrument of choice and so you've attacked that with abandon.  It's been fun to listen to you play and practice.  I think you're going to be good at it!

Since your birthday was so soon after arriving this year, we offered to take you to LegoLand instead of having a party.  You jumped at that opportunity and so we went as a family and enjoyed the day together.  It was a great day and I think you really enjoyed picking which rides we went on.  One thing you haven't learned to love yet are the roller coasters, so it was slower paced rides for you.  But that's okay.  It's important you learn now to listen to that little internal voice and do what it says is right for you!

I think that nine years old is going to be a big adventure for you.  There's lots to learn in this new land and lots to enjoy.  I hope that school settles down for you and that you find a place where you can learn and enjoy.  I hope that Dadam and I can facilitate that by providing a secure place at home, where you can be yourself, learn and grow, and play as much catch as you want to.  (Which will always be way more than Dadam or I would like to play.)

One more thing, I sincerely hope in the next year that you can find some other books you love as much as Harry Potter.  I think you've read the whole series five times now and maybe, just maybe, there are other literary pursuits worth looking at??

I love you so much, Brother Bear.  I love your snuggles and I love your humor.  I love hearing your questions about the world and I love seeing you explore and enjoy.  I can't wait to see what new door this new adventure opens for you.

Happy Birthday, Boy-Child!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Back Across The Sea

(I wrote this and never published it!  What is wrong with me?! Anyway, here it is and watch for more updates!)

The movers came and packed away all our things.  The house was full of stuff, then boxes, then nothing.  The kids enjoyed all the empty space and new perspectives, but I was sad.  We had our going away party, our final inspection with the landlord and then we were staying in a flat in Harrogate.  It's amazing how circular life can be.  We were back in the place where we started, though this time there was less time for exploring as the kids were still in school in Leeds.  But we knew our way around and enjoyed visiting the playground and gardens again.  The last week flew by.  And the weather just kept on its same miserable pace.  The last day of school for the kids, it just poured the entire day and all plans for pictures and visiting at the end of the school day went down the drain.  The kids came out of school loaded with gifts and cards, books and pictures and special, special memories. 

"I didn't get any gifts from school." Lu-lu said.  PrincessE responded with "We all got the gift of friendship from this school!  So everyone got gifts." 

There weren't too many tears, just a few.  And it was hard to tell if those were from exhaustion or sadness or fear.  Or maybe all of the above. 

We saw some friends for last meals and visits.  Then it was time to go to Manchester and get on the plane.  Three years, gone in the blink of an eye.  I didn't feel like I was going home, I felt like I was leaving home.

We arrived to heat and humidity.  The kids didn't remember what that felt like and were melting almost imediately.  After sorting out taxis we were on our way to G-Daddy's house.

Noodle: "I like the spinny things on your ceilings, G-Daddy."  We were all puzzled as to why ceiling fans were such a novelty when we remembered that she was two when we left the US and there are no ceiling fans in England. 

The kids were all slightly stymied by the screen doors (there are no screens on doors or windows in the UK) and both PrincessE and Lu-lu attemped to go *through* one when we were visiting with some friends. 

We picked up our new car while the kids did a painting project with their G-Daddy.  We played at the pool and visited with friends.  We enjoyed the sunshine.  And then, before we knew it our ten days was up!  Time for the road trip to begin. 

When we realized our orders were going to be Los Angeles, we decided that it would be a good opportunity for us to travel across the US to see our friends and family that we didn't get much of a chance to see for the last three years.  But Dadam's leave wasn't going to accomodate a month of road trip.  So, we decided that the kids and I would drive and Dadam would go ahead to LA.  It would be an Epic cross country road trip. 

And that's where we're at.  A brief six hour drive north into upstate New York and our road trip has begun.  Our path isn't very westerly yet, but we'll get there.  It's lovely here. Lots of room for the kids to run around and friends to play with, I even feel a bit like I'm on holiday, there's just nothing to worry about.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Run Away With Me, To The Sea

Stressed from the impending move, Adam took a personal day and we ran away to the sea. It wasn't gorgeous out, but the rain was intermittent and never more than a drizzle. The beach was quiet and rocky, with an amazing variety of sea glass like we had never seen before. The children climbed and dug, explored, splashed and were free. We picked and searched and chatted, shared our finds and held hands. In the end the children stripped to their knickers and shorts and got in the water with their jumpers and winter hats still on.  After they were finished we went to the car, sandy, soaked and salty, where we changed to warm, dry clothes and headed home.   

And life was beautiful.


We are the Children of the Empty House

The children are finding the empty/boxed up house endlessly fascinating. I pretend like I don't know why, but I really do. It's so exciting to see a space that you know so well, turned upside down and into a landscape that is all at once familiar and strange. Spaces open up to worlds that couldn't be explored when they were full of stuff. Hiding is infinitely more interesting. And there are rooms and rooms in which to do whatever ones heart desires without the concern of bumping into things or knocking them over.

We officially began the packing up process on Monday, when the movers arrived and began putting the household goods into boxes. But we had spent a good few weeks prior organizing and cleaning and preparing.

Last weekend I had the kids helping as much as possible to organize and separate. Though for everything they did, they managed to undo twice as much. I would ask them to put a toy into a pile and later I would discover the pile had been undone and the toy was back in circulation. We persevered through and managed to be fairly organized when Monday arrived.

I did want them to be at school while the packers were here. It makes life so much easier for the adults doing work, but I was unsure as to how they would deal with only seeing glimpses of the massive changes going on.

They dealt with it magnificently. When we arrived home on Monday, squeals of delight rung through the house and they ran from room to room to inspect the boxes. They were so excited! Everyday, as soon as they come out of school, they begin peppering me with questions about how many rooms are packed/empty/how much of the truck got packed/what is happening now!?!? We've had extensive dinner conversations about the whole moving process to include crates, trucks, boats and how all our stuff will see us again in California. It is clear that knowledge is power.

They are enjoying the whole experience and embracing it with enthusiasm. And that is comforting and reassuring for me. As far as they are concerned this experience is A) completely normal and B) massive amounts of fun. There's much to be thankful in that.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Diamond Jubilee! (or "We Are Royalists")

It is Queen Elizabeth's 60th year as reigning monarch this year. If you haven't guessed already, it's kind of a big deal. British patriotism is not something that usually goes in a sentence together, but for the last couple of months I have seen more of it than I have the whole time we've lived here. There are banners and pillows, street parties and radio programs; all celebrating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. It's really been a whole lot of fun.

This whole week the kids have been hardly having any lessons and they have mostly been preparing for a school wide street party. When I expressed a bit of disgust that they were getting to skip out their lessons just because of the jubilee, I received this lecture from PrincessE. "This diamond jubilee is Very Important, Mum. There is only one other monarch, in the history of the monarchy, who has been monarch for 60 years! That was Victoria. If Elizabeth lives for only five more years, then she will set a new record! And she will be the longest reigning monarch!!"

All the kids are very excited to be taking part in an "actual street party". They went to school decked out in red, white and blue and wearing their very special home-made jubilee hats. I even cobbled together a kippah for Isaac that vaguely resembles a British Flag.   Personally, I'm excited to watch the flotilla that will be going through London on Sunday.  It's a grandly historic time to be here!

Long Live the Queen! Hip, Hip, Hooray!

PS.  The kiddos created and implemented these hats/crowns all by themselves.   Dadam and I only helped with the taping to fit on heads. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Holland Pictures!!

Inside the pigment grinding windmill

Smelling the hyacinths!

Jumping at the Keukenhof

Putting out the fire at Madurodam

Water and rain at Madurodam

(Not in Holland, but still lovely) GranEde and The Boy-child play a duet!

Paddle Boat Adventure!

Paddle Boat II Adventure!

The church Anne Frank talks about hearing and the Anne Frank house. 

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Holland Adventure - Part II

Our time was done in Amsterdam, but we were off to see some other parts of Holland.  We drove out to Zaanse Schans, which is a windmill museum, of sorts.  There are ten or so working windmills and they were amazing to see.  It was a technology that drove the Dutch economy, but has completely fallen into disuse.  They are gorgeous to see working and we even got to tour the inside of one that is used to grind pigment for paints.  It was amazing!

After wandering around the windmills in the sunshine, we headed off to the Keukenhof for a walk through the gardens!  The flowers were absolutely gorgeous and we were all amazed at the variations!  We walked through three display halls and they were packed with display after display of tulips, day lillies, orchids, you name it!  And the colors!  And the smell!!  It was amazing. 

We headed down to the Hauge for our last night in Holland and spent the next day (Noodle's Birthday) exploring Madurodam, which is an amazing minurature city.  There was a tiny Amsterdam and a tiny aiport, there were farms and motorways, there were interactive parts.  The kids really enjoyed "putting out the fire" on a boat on the tiny harbor.  It rained on us the whole time, but it really was fantastic.  Lu even said to Noodle, "You are so LUCKY you got to go here for your birthday!"  It wasn't really for Noodle's birthday, it just happened to coincide. 

That night we got on the ferry back to England.  It had been a fantastic trip.  We watched the boat cast off from the harbor and tucked into bed for the night.  What fun Holland was!! 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Holland Adventure-Part I

Our Pesach/Spring Break this year found us with a houseful of lovely people (GranEde, GranDude, AuntKiwi and UncleD) and a planned trip across the sea to visit Holland!  We were very excited to go visit someplace we hadn't seen before and excited to spend time with our extended family.  Yay.  But, our trip did not go quite as planned...Sadly, the visitors from the US brought with them a horrible illness.  Thankfully, only they got it, but it meant that they all took turns feeling poorly and sometimes even being completely out of commission!  But, everyone was a trooper and those who didn't feel up to sightseeing were alright with being left behind. 

We took an overnight ferry from Hull to Rotterdam.  It was quite an adventure. We had hoped to get the kids quickly settled and asleep before the boat left the dock, but there were too many announcements and they were too excited.  We finally got settled down at about eleven pm!  Not a great way to begin, but when we woke up we were in Holland. 

Because Holland is such a very tiny country, we were to our rented flat well before lunchtime.  There was a bit of a commotion finding the place due to the fact that there was lots of construction and only bike roads leading to the apartment complex.  We met up with the lady who was letting the apartment and proceeded to drive our cars on the bike roads!  It was very weird considering the fact that the roads were as wide as my car and it was clear we shouldn't really be driving on them!  We got up to the apartment and what a sight awaited us.

Now, we've done this self-serviced apartment thing on almost every single vacation we've taken.  Hotels are expensive and it is nice to have someplace with a kitchen, where we could make our own food and hang out in the evening.  We have never had a bad or even a weird experience.  Most people own self-serviced apartments as rental property and they don't live there.  Well, I suppose there is a first time for everything. 

This lady clearly lived in this apartment.  Which was awkward.  Also slightly strange was the ephemera and kitsch covering every single surface, window, wall, and piece of furniture.  There were shrines and magazine clippings everywhere.  There were even crystals glued to the end of the bed frame and fake fur bedspreads.  It was....um...different.  I could feel my shakras aligning. But, it was a place to sleep and we were all together, plus we weren't really there to spend time *in* the apartment, soooo out we went.  We took the train into the city center and began to wander around. 
There were bikes everywhere.  And I do mean everywhere!  When crossing the street you had to be careful of the bike "street", then the car "street".   We saw people riding their bikes while talking on their phones, texting with two hands and we even saw someone reading their Kindle while riding their bike.  The canals were beautiful.  The buildings were incredibly tall and incredibly skinny.  It was a lot to take in on the first day, but that is always the case.

Since we did so much in Amsterdam, I'm going to hit the highlights in no particular order.

We took a tour of Rembrandt's house.  There was a fabulous audio guide for adults and a different one for children.  The kids were fascinated and they all listened intently and heard all about Rembrandt and his home in Amsterdam.  All of the rooms were laid out very closely (if not exactly) to how they would have been when Rembrandt lived there.  There were sketching rooms, a room for specimens to sketch and even a room devoted to creating etchings just as Rembrandt would have done.  We saw a lovely demonstration by a man from Seattle and he was so impressed with the kids and their listening, he asked them to help press the etching!  Then he gave it to them! It was spectacular.

There was lots of  interest in the Van Gough museum, where they had a fantastic kids' activity booklet which led them around the museum looking for paintings and analysing subject matter and technique.  The kids were so enthusiastic about it and really, really into it.  At one point PrincessE said to me, "Mum, are you having a good time?  Because you are just doing this activity with us and you aren't really getting to look."  I just wanted to cradle her in my arms and tell her that I would rather be no place else on earth.  But instead, I looked in her face and I told her how much fun I was having with them.  And it was amazing fun.  After they completed their Van Gough booklets, they got to pick their very own postcard from the front desk.  So lovely!

The kids took a canal paddle boat ride; two with GranDude and Dadam and two with AuntKiwi and UncleDon.  GranEde and I stayed on land.  I was very, very nervous about this situation.  But, everyone promised they would stay seated on the boats and the adults promised to keep an eye out for the kids.  Happily everyone came back, dry and having had a great time.  I think The Boy-child was a bit sad he didn't get a chance to pedal, but truthfully he wasn't tall enough.

We had tried to buy tickets online for the Anne Frank house several times, but it was sold out.  When we walked by there was a massive line.  But I didn't want to give up.  I just felt like it would be such a shame to not see the place where Anne Frank spent the last few years of her life.  Thankfully everyone in the group was supportive and so we decided to stick out the line and go inside.  I am glad we did.  It was incredibly moving.  There is no furniture in the rooms, but it was chilling to step behind the bookcase, to the hidden stairs.  The apartment was so small!  And dark!  I could not believe what they had endured.  Anne Frank is even more of a hero to me now that I have been in those tiny rooms.  The children were moved as well and at the end, with tears in his eyes, The Boy child declared, "If I had been alive during that time and I was a politician, I would have told Hitler that different isn't wrong, it's just different.  And to leave the Jews alone!" 

The weather was not particularly nice.  In fact, there was one day it was downright freezing!  That day we took a tour of the Amsterdam City Museum.  There was a fascinating exhibit about the city orphanage and the kids really enjoyed the interactive parts of that.  There was so much interesting history about the city and the politics of the Netherlands.

I thought Amsterdam was absolutely lovely.  The scenery was gorgeous, buildings amazing and just so filled with interesting, amazing things.  I only wish we could have been there longer or could go back or could just live there for a couple years......

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Rag Rug

In this post I talked about a t-shirt rag rug. Well, I've finished it up and here's what it looks like! Such a fun spot of color for the kitchen.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Pesach Seder Practice

The kids do practice seders at their school.  Parents are invited to see the first year's seder (reception) and the last two years' seders (Year 5 &6).  This means that this year we got to see Noodle's and PrincessE's.  They have some lines they have to memorize and it is a nice chance to see how much they know and how proud they are to show it! 

Here is Noodle getting ready to say her lines!

Noodle and Dadam post seder.

PrincessE at her school seder, ready to participate!

We definitely see the benefit of the school doing practice seders!  The kids were well prepared and could have led the seders at home without any help from us!!