Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Kate's birthday in pictures....finally

Between having strep throat last week and a 4 day weekend (re: no kids in school=no mama time off), I've not had much time to blog. So here is the final wrap-up of Kate's 4 year birthday party, complete with a pretty bizarre clown. Kate thought he was great but I have to say that most of the parents (and a few of the kids) thought he was pretty obnoxious. You'll notice as the party progresses, most of the kids end up on the other side of the couch so they can see him but not be near him.

Before her guests arrived, Kate got a little silly. I love Lucy's deadpan face here!
Kate picked out her cake design this year.
Things started out ok. The clown arrives without makeup or garb and part of his routine is to transform into a clown in front of the kids so they aren't afraid. Unfortunately, he was so loud and scattered that the transition seemed to be lost on them.
Kate loved being his helper though and since it was her party, as long as she was happy, I was happy!
Hema, Krisha and Yuvan!
 She got her clown nose--the thing she wanted most for her birthday!
This was followed by clown hair.
And silly mustaches.
June, one of her classmates, was less than thrilled.
Notice some of the kids have moved to have the couch as a buffer.
The die-hards hung in there: Kate, Leander, Sloane, Arnav, Ben.
Ms. Julie was quite happy to be a "guest" instead of a performer. Rum punch anyone? Thank goodness for the grown-up drinks, amiright?
Pretty much all the kids are now behind the couch except for Kate, Ben, Leander and Arnav.
 But they all joined in to sing Happy Birthday to Kate.
Time to make a wish!
Kate was thrilled and her silly faces mirrored her mood.
As everyone ate cake, the clown got to work making balloons. Kate asked for a kitty bracelet.
Lucy D. asked for a flower.
Leander wanted a sword which actually looked bit...circumcised.
Naia was happy with her flower.
And so was fellow birthday girl, Ava.
Lucy wanted a puppy.

Leander really wanted to help blow up the balloons.
After her guests departed and we had a bit of rest, Kate set to work opening her gifts. One of her favorites was Lucy's gift to Kate: a cupcake piggy bank with some coins already inside!
The next day we celebrated Kate's birthday at school. Her classmate, Hanson, was also celebrating his birthday so suffice to say we had enough cupcakes and cookies to keep everyone on a sugar high for several hours.

This first video is Kate as the sun and Hanson as the Earth orbiting around her (appropriately (!)) with a lesson about years and the passage of time (at least I think so). The cards have each month written on them (that I do know).
Chinese class from Lisa on Vimeo.

Then it was time to sing Happy Birthday!
Happy birthday Kate from Lisa on Vimeo.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Is anyone listening?

Lucy to Kate: Can I have that?
Kate: When I'm finished.
Lucy: Can I have it yet?
Kate: No.
Lucy: When can I have it?
Kate: You have two options: you can nag me and not have it at all or you can stop nagging and I will give it to you when I'm done.
Lucy to Kate's baby doll: NO HITTING!
Lucy drops baby (on her head!) and runs to the bathroom to consult with Kate: Kate, how old is your baby?
Kate: 1 year old.
Lucy runs back to the baby doll. Baby, you are one year old so you have a one minute timeout for hitting.

Nice to know some of what I say sinks in.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Not your mother's Chinese lessons

Today my Chinese instructor gave me two options for in-class study: the proper names for vehicles or curse words. Guess which one I chose?

It started off with a bang when she handed me my "cheat sheet". I had asked her last week if she could do a quick reference guide of the main words I was learning. The problem was that everytime she said cheat sheet in English it sounded like "chicken shit". Thus, my cheat sheet became:
I just love her sense of humor!

I know that I mentioned a while back that one of the things I was most concerned about when learning Mandarin is that I would inadvertently call someone a bad name when what I really meant to do was ask for water. As it turns out, those fears are not unfounded. The simple word, diǎo, can mean dick (nǐ  suàn  diǎo), f*ck, or be a complement meaning very, very good (diǎo  bào  le).

èr is the number 2 but can also mean stupid, depending on context. xiǎo  jiě  can mean lady or prostitute.

With that in mind, if you have any delicate sensitivities to curse words, you may want to skip the sample below of today's lesson. I figured it's better to learn these words before my daughters do. Right?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Love Letter, Month 48

Dear Kate,

You were 48 months old yesterday.
A whole 4 years have passed since I first saw your tiny, beautiful face and snuggled the soft hair on your downy head. I can scarcely believe that this funny little clown is my baby girl! You grow more and more interesting and nuanced in your behavior everyday.

I don't know if it is just the time of year or your impending birthday celebration but, holy hell, you are difficult to understand this month. Last year as we approached your 3rd birthday, you had similar transition issues. On the day of your party you were a surly toddler. You were so out-of-sorts that you kicked your shoe off in the living room and it whizzed over the kitchen bar nearly nailing Daddy in the ear. This year has you hitting both of us if you find what we say to be disagreeable (like using the bathroom before you go to bed--the NERVE OF US!).
You have been testing out the power of your words on me. Twice this month you have gotten so mad at me that you yell, "I don't LIKE Mama anymore!" and then you get very quiet and slide your eyes over to see what effect that had on me. Both times I have looked you straight in the eye and replied, "I know you are mad at me but I will love you always and forever, no matter if you are mad or happy. Your words will not change that." And both times you completely crumpled into a ball of tears and asked to be held. My poor little love.
To be fair, this has been a rather eventful month what with Christmas, a visit from Nana, being away from school for a long time, various birthday parties, a lot of indoor time because of extreme cold/snow, and your first weekend away from both Daddy and me as we went to Wisconsin for some kid-free time.

Christmas seemed to consume almost all of December. We attended a party at my language school where you were so excited to finally meet MY teacher and see where I go to school. You impressed all the native Chinese people who were there to learn English with your correct pronunciation of words/tones. They all said you sounded like you were born in China.
We got to have breakfast with Tomten (the Swedish version of Santa). As you were waiting for your turn, you asked me to help you write a letter to him.
Finally it was our turn and you waited patiently as Lucy detailed her wishes so you could let him know that you wanted a hula hoop and some skates.
On Christmas morning you were pleased as punch to see both of your requests had been granted. You were so keen to try skating that all present opening came to a screeching halt for nearly 30 minutes.
The long holiday break allowed you to recover from all the coughing and general malaise that you had been experiencing. We got to do a lot of the things you love like baking, playing in the snow and getting lots of love from Nana.

We were fortunate to attend Leander's 4th birthday party this weekend where you got to try gymnastics. Your favorite things were the rings and the trampoline.

We had your birthday party on your actual birthday. Your request this year was a clown. I kept questioning your choice but you were adament so I booked a clown that would apply his makeup as part of his schtick. Fortunately, you loved it (some of your friends, not-so-much) and seeing you happy made my day.
You picked out your cake this year, changing the design a bit to include pink letters and border.

"Mama, will the clown give me a red nose? I really want a red nose."
"Yes my love, a clown's apprentice will have a red nose." And crazy hair.

Everything about your birthday made you happy from your new, very pink, very twirly dress to your clown wig and nose to your cake. Daddy gave you your first roses (pink, naturally) which made you smile. You said, "We should have fresh flowers every week. In every room. They just make things nicer. They make me happy."

I think YOU make things nicer and you certainly have made me happier. Happy 4th birthday my darling Kate.


Friday, January 10, 2014

2013 in Pictures

Well that was a fast year. Almost in the blink of an eye, my girls spend 1/2 their day, every day, in school. But let's back up a bit.

The majority of the year saw us enjoying our last Thursday playgroups as everyone moved in different directions. Krisha moved to the 'burbs, Sara and Lina moved to Sweden, and most everyone else started school. Before that, though, we got together as much as possible and enjoyed what Chicago does best: SUMMER.  The lake was surprisingly warm (or was that just that the temperature was so high that the lake felt refreshing...). No matter, we enjoyed many days swimming in Lake Michigan and digging in the sand.

I returned to Houston twice for MRIs and a visit with my oncologist. The radiation treatment is continuing to do its job and my tumor is shrinking. Yay for me! I've also started taking Mandarin Chinese lesson twice a week for 2 hours at a time. It is surprisingly satisfying for both my mental state and my artistic side as I'm also learning the Chinese characters.

Len continues to enjoy his job and took a few work-related trips but overall is home to enjoy our girls as they grow and change. We were fortunate to spend all of July in Florida visiting with various family and friends. Len stayed for a week and some change and then returned to help us schlep home. While in Florida, both girls learned how to swim and dive down about 3' for dive sticks. They continue to amaze and delight us.
2013 in Review from Lisa on Vimeo.

The music is Can't Take It In by Imogene Heap

If you missed any of our other Year In Review movies, here is the link to 2009, here is the link to 2010, here is the link to 2011 and here is the link to 2012. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014


Yesterday morning we finally got out of the negative temperature digits when we hit 0. By mid-afternoon we were up to a whopping 5 degrees and the wind wasn't quite as windy so we ventured forth into foot deep snow. The girls were thrilled to finally be released from the confines of our house.
Release the hounds! from Lisa on Vimeo.

It took just as much time to actually get into our snow gear as it did to play. We all lasted about 25 minutes...then the cold and wind got to our cheeks and noses and we happily went back inside for hot chocolate. But for that brief time, we expended a lot of energy and got to see an amazing chemistry reaction when Len threw boiling hot water into the air:
Frozen! from Lisa on Vimeo.
Lucy's glee at being back outside was clearly evident!
 Lucy made her own slide.

 Kate made a snow angel.
Happy girls!
Today was the first day back at school since they broke for the holidays. Both girls were excited to go back. Lucy said she missed painting and her friends. Kate said she missed her teachers. No surprise in either of their declarations.


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