Sunday, April 27, 2014

Pen Pals

Kate has her very first pen pal in Yiayia. Kate is very interested in writing and learning to read so Yiayia decided to encourage her by sending her letters and asking her questions that she can answer in return.

Here was the first exchange between them:

Kate wrote,
Dear Yiayia, I am fine. I like art. Happy Easter! (then we did some math to figure out how to answer the questions and Kate drew pictures) 14 years until college. 22 when I graduate. I love you, Kate.

Kate's second letter arrived this week so we decided to answer it during Lucy's naptime this afternoon.

We got some paper and snuggled into my bed with a lap desk and pen. (Kate, like her mother, is very particular about her pens and knew EXACTLY which one she wanted, returning the one I picked out back into my pen box and asking specifically for the "skinny black pen".)

I would read the letter and she would decide what she wanted to say. Then we would sound out the words together as she wrote them down.
Here's what she wrote:

She totally skipped the question about Spanish since we didn't know it and opted instead to tell her what it was in Chinese. I had to look up the Chinese characters but when she saw them she asked me to write them saying, "I'm getting really tired of writing now and that looks really hard." I asked her if she wanted to stop and continue another day but she said she wanted to continue, especially because she wanted to draw hearts. Her new-found love is to replace all the Os with hearts. I thought that didn't start until middle school....

*Yiayia, the letter will be mailed tomorrow so this is your sneak peek!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Easter 2014

This will be a pretty picture-heavy post of our Easter weekend. We started out Saturday with some last-minute grocery shopping. We had a brand new supermarket open up nearby and they weren't playing around with their grand-opening. Between the samples, the face-painting lady (who we managed to avoid as the line was super-long) and the balloon guy, our trip was more like a carnival.

 The balloon guy worked fast!
Later that afternoon, Zadie came upstairs and we dyed our eggs for the Easter bunny to hide.

Zadie's little brother, Auden, was much more interested in the toys.
Easter morning, the girls were super excited both because it was FINALLY Easter but also because it was warm enough to go outside without coats!
Bunny did not disappoint--he left their baskets on the landing.

 New swim hats!

Can't beat peeps on a stick!

Fueled by sugar, we headed downstairs to hunt for eggs and to see if the jellybeans we planted had grown into lollipops.

Kate was ecstatic to find the lollipops had grown (wrapped and everything!).

All in all, it took a mere 5-10 minutes to finish up the hunt. Looks like we'll actually need to start hiding them next year! We hosted brunch for our neighbors and enjoyed the rest of what turned into a really spectacular day, weather-wise.

PS--thankyou to Paivi for the cute dresses/sweaters! It was perfect for Easter! And thankyou to Tita Wheez and Uncle Terry for the Honeybaked Ham--yum!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Dancer and gymnast

Kate's first dance recital is coming up on May 10. Her teacher sent us this video of  the class learning the routine. Kate is on the far left in a gray sweater with pink polka dots.
Ballet recital practice from Lisa on Vimeo.

Meanwhile, Lucy is getting stronger and stronger on the monkey bars. Yesterday at the park, she was able to move her hand from one bar to the next "for the first time in forever!"
Monkey from Lisa on Vimeo.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


Most of the time my girls play well together but this week has left them with a lot more togetherness than they are used to. Their teachers are pretty good about treating them as individuals, thus they don't really work together much in school. This week has been 24/7 sisterness and it leaves room for conflict.

Lucy learned immediately how to spin a coin when we were out for dinner with some of our friends a while back. Yesterday she was spinning the coasters on our table when Kate wandered out and wanted to do the same thing. You will see "just a tiny bit" of what I talked about yesterday with Kate's very short frustration fuse (the reference to the "Pump it up" disaster is mentioned):
Spinning coasters from Lisa on Vimeo.

Lucy experiences the same frustration when Kate zones out doing one of her favorite things: creating displays with her treasures. Kate came into my bathroom one morning while I was just getting out of the shower. She set about creating one of her displays and was quite content when Lucy found us.

I asked Lucy to sit far enough back so that she wouldn't knock Kate's treasures over. Her feet are bunched up because one of Lucy's favorite tactics is to "toe" the things Kate is playing with, somehow thinking that she's not really touching them if she's not using her hands/fingers.
As expected, Lucy can no longer contain herself and starts edging over along the cabinets.

She manages to knock the egg over so I move her back away.
Her next favorite tactic is to "show the treasures to puppy", thus the stuffed animal is the one responsible when things get knocked over. Notice the quick glance up to see if I'm looking...
After preventing another mishap, Lucy is relocated to my bed to watch from afar as Kate finishes her masterpiece.
And yes, I did try to get Lucy involved in something else but she is not the kind of child who will play by herself (as noted in several other posts on this subject). Even just being right outside the bathroom was torture for her (and our ears). Which is probably part of the reason that Kate loses it when Lucy has my full attention as she tries new things. Lucy spends so much time literally "on top of Kate" at home, taking my time and attention away from Kate's quieter pursuits in order to keep Lucy from becoming destructive. If Kate is building with blocks or legos you can be sure Lucy will come along and "accidentally" knock it over. Puzzles pieces will get bent, board game pieces will fly off the board, statements of "I'm bored" will be uttered repeatedly if we are working on writing our letters or numbers.

I spent my entire hour with my therapist last week talking about this one recurring dilemma. My girls are such opposites that even trying to do things together like puzzles, playing games like Candyland are frustrating beyond reasonableness. And yet, I cannot seem to get them involved in their own pursuits unless they are doing art and even then, Lucy needs to be right where Kate is, using the same markers, etc.

I can't even fall back on an age difference as an excuse to them as to why they need to do things separately as they are very aware that they are only 6 weeks apart in age. I've had many short discussions with them about how they are two separate people with separate skills and interests, but they are 4 so that was pretty much a wash.

Thank goodness school starts again on Monday so we can all have a little less togetherness.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Spring Break

This week was spring break and I must say, it's not like any spring break I've ever had. No beach. No swimming. No drinks by the pool. No sleeping in.

Can you say snow? And major temper tantrums. And smiles. And giggles. And, NO SLEEPING IN, did I mention that part?

Monday Kate went back to Dr. Boyd for another attempt at getting her mouth jewelry. We've been having a time of it as her mouth is just so tiny (oh the irony) and she has such sensory issues anyway that, well, it's been a thing. We were finally successful at getting the top retainer fitted and, with some love from Blue Boyd, the trip was a success all around. (How genius is it to have a dog at a dentist office?)
Monday afternoon was gymnastics and I have to say, Lucy is such a ham. She saw me through the window taking pictures and just had to wave while trying to do a backbend. Silly girl.
And then came Tuesday, the day that ended with me drinking two, well-earned margaritas (that's almost like Spring Break, right?).

The day began quite well with everyone in a good mood as we headed out to meet Jackie, Leander and his brothers at a local inflatable play area. Everyone was playing well when Lucy spotted the 20 foot high slide. The slide with no reasonable way to get to the top. Something entirely unsuitable for her age. It was a series of levels only accessible by standing on and pulling yourself up on elastic straps. The first level was right above her head and there were 5-6 levels above that with the final access to the tunnel for the giant slide another full body length above the top level.

I did not discourage her from trying, figuring she would soon figure out that it was a bit advanced. Wrong call Mama! Lucy diligently applied herself to figuring out how to master this and stayed inside while many other kids tried and then failed, falling past her to the trampoline bottom. I kept encouraging her, giving her suggestions when she asked where she should put her feet for better leverage and although her progress was slow, she was making steady upward progress.

 Along comes Kate who wants to try. Kate, who, when she isn't able to master something will take one of two tracks: 1. keep trying diligently and with intense concentration or 2. half-heartedly try but start whining and crying and flailing about while yelling, "I CAN'T DO IT!".  The latter course of action is what she generally takes when Lucy is succeeding at something faster than she is and, naturally, this is the course she chose.

I kept encouraging Kate while keeping an eye on Lucy (who is now almost 20 feet off the ground and is starting to panic). Kate goes into full-on meltdown, inches from the bottom, unable to move as her brains starts to short-circuit from too much stimulii.  

I help her out of the "cage" and try to calm her down with a hug. That is met with screaming and hitting. So...timeout for hitting Mama. Major tantrum....eliciting lots of attention from everyone in the vicinity including one woman who came rushing over and crouched down right in her face to find out what the problem was, which only made Kate's shrieking louder.

Meanwhile, Lucy is stuck at the top, about 4 feet from the top. Two older boys have lapped her twice and are approaching her again. She (I can't believe I could hear her above the din of Kate and the machines/music of Pump it up) screamed her pterodactyl scream at the boys who were literally about to climb over her. Fortunately, I was able to pull away from Kate long enough to tell her to use her words to ask the boys to help pull her up once they got into the slide tunnel.
All of this screaming and whining from Kate had already been continuing for 20 minutes so I managed to miss most of Lucy climbing so that by the time she got down the slide (which was just a blurry picture since Kate was wrestling with my legs), Lucy's whole head was sweaty and she had obviously been crying (which I couldn't hear b/c Kate was wresting my attention away).

This was the only smile I managed to get out of Lucy as the rest of the time she spent telling me how scared she was and that she cried "just a little bit". It made my heart break "just a little bit" too as this scenario happens with one or the other of them far more often than you would imagine.

She then took off with Leander for calmer waters. Jackie got a good video of another slide adventure at least!
Sliding from Lisa on Vimeo.
Kate was done, her nervous system wrecked. I spent the rest of the time sitting on the couch with her working through various methods to calm her down, none of which worked. It pretty much ruined the rest of the day as she just never fully recovered.
We had a much better time at a local park on Thursday with Lucy D. Less noise, less competition for my attention, and less time in the car all made for a calmer morning.

Today we planted jelly beans in the yard with Ms. Julie in preparation for Easter. She also shared some "fresh from the hen" eggs with us that served them well for supper tonight. We rounded up the evening outside by playing with Brandon (a sweet 7 year old from down the street whose parents moved here from China) who graciously let the girls ride his bike for a bit.

It's amazing how vibrant the yolks are in eggs that are raised locally, truly free-range and without antibiotics.
Tomorrow we gear up for Easter!


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