Sunday, November 29, 2015

Ready for the holidays!

Kate and I are on the mend but we thought one more day of recovery was in order so we laid low again today. Len went out yesterday and brought home our Christmas tree so we could decorate it today.

Lucy and Len hung the lights while Kate and I worked on the mantle and buffet. Then the girls hung up all the ornaments. We only hung up the non-breakable ornaments this year since Lucy's birthday party will be next Sunday with about 15 kids coming over. Her theme is Christmas which is handy for me! You can just see some of her birthday presents hiding in plain sight up on the bookcase.

Next up was decorating the girls' tree in their room. They love having a tree in their room and I love that my old classroom tree is still usable after 25+ years.

After the girls went to bed, Charlie came back. Tomorrow morning should be fun!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

Sometimes the best laid plans do not always pan out. This was one such holiday but by no means am I complaining. I may not believe in a lot of things but I do tend to cast my lot with karma and it did not let me down this time either. 

A very dear friend had an emergency come up so Len and I went to help. In the meantime, our lovely neighbor downstairs shared some of their Thanksgiving feast with us. So today I rounded out the donated turkey and stuffing and pumpkin/bourbon cheesecake (yum!!) with some sides and we celebrated. 

Kate is in her jammies as she was starting to get the same cold that I got last night and wanted to go to bed. Lucy ran through a fever and malaise a few days ago, I got slammed yesterday afternoon and was in bed with the chills and aches by 7pm last night and now Kate seems to be following suit. She rallied for dinner though!
 Lucy drew a thank you card for our neighbors.
 And Kate wrote them a letter.
The girls also wrote letters at school to give to us.

Kate drew a picture of our family.

We hope you and yours had a wonderful Thanksgiving. Ours may have been a day late but we are thankful nonetheless. For family. For friends. And for remembering that this holiday is not just about the feast on our table. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

We still dance

I took these videos a week or so ago and then forgot they were on the camera until today. Hope this makes your Monday a little happier!

Not sure why Kate chose to spend most of the dance with a bag on her head...I've learned that sometimes it's better not to ask.
Bollywood dance from Lisa on Vimeo.

Their dancing styles are so different...
Dancing from Lisa on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Skeptical much?

Kate has this look when she has either gotten one up on you or is skeptical about what you are telling her. We've been seeing it a lot lately.
Skepticism from Lisa on Vimeo.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Love Letter, Month 70

Dear Kate,

You are 70 months old today.
I'm so happy that your tongue did not make an appearance in your school photo for kindergarten. That may sound like a strange thing to be grateful for but let me tell you, I've seen more of your tongue this month than I ever thought possible. It appears nearly every time the camera comes out, most recently at our family photo shoot.

And again during your class trip to the pumpkin farm.
I can't decide what's worse: the Tongue or the Death Stare.
Either way, they are both (hopefully) just a stage and one you will grow out of sooner (fingers crossed) or later (pass the wine please).

One thing that does not seem to be a stage, though, is your need for perfection and your sensory issues related to clothing. As for the former, it most manifests itself when playing your flute. I think you fully expect that you will be able to pick up your flute after a few days of not practicing and play every note pitch perfect with next-to-no effort on your part. You are amazingly and wretchedly unhappy when you hear that this is not the case and proceed to have major tantrums for the duration of practice. You will self-sabotage in order to make your case clearer by blowing so hard into the flute that the notes come out shrill, or not at all, saying, "SEE?!!! I CAN'T HIT THE NOTES!!!"

As for your clothing issues, we are now down to 1.5 pairs of pants that you have deemed "passable" for wearing. Every.Single.Morning is an exercise in extreme patience on my part as you proclaim the 15 pairs of pants in the closet "too small", "too tight", "too loose", "too long", "too short". When you do finally put something on, you immediately start tugging and pulling until it is in the location that will prove how wrong they are for you: pulled down around your thighs to show they are too long or are too baggy in the crotch, jacked up around your chest to indicate they are too short or are crawling up your rear, sucking your stomach in to show how loose they are or, conversely, sticking your stomach out to show how tight the waistband is. Mama may need to pour a little toddy into her morning coffee if you keep this up.

You have also taken to wearing hoodies almost exclusively, even in the classroom. You say it helps keep your neck warm but your teacher and I think more likely it helps you tune out the noise and visual distractions so you can focus.
And focus you do! You LOVE school, especially math, reading, pinyin, Mandarin characters and art.

You come home every Friday with a bag full of your week's work.  A few of your best from this month include this abstract piece you said reminded you of butterfly wings.
A family portrait.
 A self-portrait.
And you are just beginning to learn multiplication with the Montessori materials.
One of your favorite things in school is Show and Tell on Fridays. You were very excited to take in your flute and play a song for the class.
Your reading abilities have made a giant leap forward and you are devouring books every chance you get. Your YiaYia and Pappou gave you a level 5 reader about the Trojan War/Horse this month and we were all amazed that you read nearly every word correctly, sounding out the harder words with little effort. You even took it to show-and-tell this week!
Speaking of your grandparents, they made their annual Halloween trip this month. You were very excited to dress up as a police officer and go trick-or-treating.

You love when they visit and pressed them into service playing checkers and Old Maid, and reading to you in Greek.

You insisted that YiaYia have the Old Maid card when she was the one who got stuck with it. She was equally insistent that she not have it.

One thing I hope you take away from these letters is just how much you are loved, by me, by Daddy, by Lucy and by all of your family and friends. Sure, I note your milestones and your quirks, your adventures and your setbacks in these letters. But above all I want you to know that you are loved, that you are wanted, and that you light up our lives, regardless of your shortcomings OR your accomplishments. Those things do not define you nor do they make you worthy of being loved. You are worthy of love just because YOU are YOU.

You are beautiful inside and out (but especially when you don't have your tongue sticking out at me...).

Saturday, November 7, 2015

New 'do

Today was the day I went to get the gray out of my hair...and I ended up adding a little mardi gras/ peacock to boot!

But first, to strip out my natural dark color...
Patty applied green, dark blue and light blue to various lengths so it wouldn't look like one large block of color. I love it!
Lucy loved it too!
It's underneath most of my hair so it kind of peeks out as my hair moves and the light hits it.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Heart Letter, Month 71

Dear Lucy,

You are 71 months old today.
Guess who came to visit this month? LOTS of people and fairies and witches. It's been a busy month in our house!

Our first visitor was the tooth fairy about mid-way through the month. Your first tooth has been loose for what seemed like an eternity (and it wasn't just you who thought so) but you finally managed to lose it during lunch at school. Qiongwei lao shi met me at the pickup line with your tooth safely bagged up. We celebrated with chocolate milk and rice crispy treats and then you tucked your tooth away in the pillow Nana made for you.

The tooth fairy left you a gold dollar coin in return!
Our next visitor was Ms. Sara from Sweden. You and Kate welcomed her as if she had just been over yesterday, not an ounce of shyness or reticence in your bodies as you scaled her for a hug.
Our next two visitors arrived for one holiday event: Halloween! Both you and Kate decided to be police officers last month so we picked out your costumes and you were thrilled when they arrived in the mail, trying it on immediately.
When I asked you why you wanted to be a police, you said, "They get to beat up people."  Hmmmm....not exactly the message you should be getting for this particular vocation. Looks like we'll need to do a bit of re-educating...

YiaYia and Pappou arrived Halloween day and we spent the rainy afternoon eating good food and playing games. Dominoes with YiaYia.
And a marble/maze competition with Pappou.
The rain mercifully stopped and it warmed up enough that a few layers under your costumes would suffice for trick-or-treating last night.

YiaYia read you both a bedtime story in Greek after you had sorted your candy for the Switch Witch,
who was our last visitor of the month, taking a bit of the candy you didn't like in exchange for a small gift; a winter hat à la Ana from Frozen.
I fear the pink fuzzy balls will be rubbed clean by next month; you do love soft objects rubbed against your philtrum.

Other adventures this month included a visit to an orchard for apple picking

and a school trip to the pumpkin patch.

You've made a lot of strides this month, both physically and mentally. First of all, let me just say that you are a breeze to be with most of the time. Unless you are tired or hungry (which can be said of anyone, frankly), you are positively the most delightful little person to be with. You are a great helper around the house, always remembering to clear your dishes, get dressed for the day, and brush your hair. Helping me in the kitchen is still one of your favorite things so this month I taught you how to make your favorite sandwich filling for school: pimiento cheese.
You are showing a keener interest in letters, numbers and reading and as long as it's not something that we do later in the day when you are tired (i.e. reading to us before bed), you are engaged and happy.

But it is still in the physical arena that you shine most brightly. You have made great strides in your climbing, reaching the bell on the climbing wall:
learning to hang upside-down on the bars:
tackling the parallel slide bars at Maggie Daley Park:
and learning how to flip over on the rings.

I think your happiest new adventures, though, have to be playing soccer and learning the piano . You began after-school soccer practice and you proudly announced that you had scored two goals "against a second grader!" during your last scrimmage. When you aren't practicing piano, you love to get out the soccer ball and practice your footwork.
You began piano lessons this month with San-Nan lao shi and I have to say that I think we have found another of your passions. The focus and attention you pay in your lessons combined with your joy at coming home to practice every day (without me asking!!) warms my heart. I think I scared you a bit after your first lesson when I cried happy tears just watching you play.
One day you will understand those emotions, when you watch your child find those things that make her shine and fill up her heart. For so long I have watched you struggle trying to keep up with your sister in the things that SHE likes (reading, puzzles, math problems), only outdoing her on the playground where the approval of teachers/adults is not as prevalent. You have blossomed under the instruction and encouragement of your soccer coach and your piano teacher and it shows up in other areas of your life. I think it is one of the reasons that you have become more confident in learning those things you are not as interested in (like your letters) and that is a good lesson in itself: when you are successful and secure in one arena, you are more likely to be successful in other areas. Confidence is a great motivator.

Despite the competition between the two of you, Kate is still your favorite person to be around. I love watching you two when you aren't fighting for attention.

A few nights ago we were reading a book about racism and how you may experience it because you are not white like your sister; that you have brown skin and some people think your skin color determines your worth. You looked at daddy and me and said, "I'll just punch them in the face! Ha!"

Although I do not condone violence to meet racism, I have to admit a good deal of pride and joy in the face of your self-confident defense. I hope you keep that aspect of your personality as you grow and encounter people who may not be as accepting of you, or who have preconceived ideas of you because you are an Asian-American. There are both positive and negative stereotypes that you will butt up against: that you are going to be a driven, straight-A student, that you are gifted in math, science, music or gymnastics as well as the more unsavory biases that I am relieved to say you are too young to learn about just yet.

And this sums up a mother's eternal struggle. How to keep the light and optimism of a child's world while imparting strength and wisdom to confront the adult world. I may stumble a bit, trying to figure out the way through, but know this: I will never leave you to learn on your own.
I will try every day to be your cheerleader when you are working hard and need encouragement, to be your advocate when you need help beyond your skills and to step aside when you are ready to fly.


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