Monday, July 25, 2016

July visitors

Before we moved I had planned to have a housewarming/open house party. Oh how silly I was to think I would be ready to host that many people at once in our house! So instead we have been hosting various small groups of people which has been much more manageable and enjoyable.

Our first July visitors were Wendy and her two lovely girls. I met Wendy through this blog when she contacted me prior to our finding a house. Turns out she lives in the same area and her daughter is enrolled in the CI program as well.

Next up was an overnight sleepover with some of my mama group friends who I've known since our girls were babies. Sara and Gustav came back for a 2 night stay while Christy and Alison came for one night. The girls fell right back into an easy friendship, much as their mamas do!

We brought our kayak over so everyone could take turns exploring the lake.

After a very full day at the beach, Kate got out the 500 water balloons that she had won in bingo. I think they only managed to fill about 50 but they had a blast in the water fight that ensued while we got supper prepared.

 As night fell, we used up some of the fallen branches from our woods so we could roast marshmallows.

 Everybody conked out soon afterwards and the next morning after breakfast it was time to say goodbye to Joy, Lucy D and Ava.

The rest of us headed back to the beach for the day. Since we were the only ones there, the lifeguards spent some time teaching the girls how to properly return a volleyball.

Nap time followed shortly after lunch.
Like son, like father...
No rest for the girls who moved on to practicing their handstands.
Back at the homestead it was time to chill on the sofa with some tv before supper.
The next morning, Lina and Leo were thrilled to finally see the fawns up close.
 VERY close.
Our next visitors were Chengze (Kate's super best friend from school...she was weeping the last time we said goodbye to him) and his mom and grandmother. They are all moving back to China next month so we were fortunate that they could make a trip out here to see us before they leave. As it turns out, they live in a town that is only 3 hours by train from Lucy's orphanage so we hope to see them when we go to China in a few years.

The soporific effects of the lake were not lost on Chengze's grandmother.

Our last visitors were our old neighbors from Chicago who made the move to the 'burbs a year ahead of us. Zadie and her family came out for a day of sun and kayaking. Jen and Kate explored the lake to the north where it flows into another pond.
David got quite the arm workout throwing kids around.

After a rather fierce display of thunder and lighting during supper, we said our goodbyes during a break in the storms.

We are expecting more visitors for August. So far we have YiaYia and Pappou scheduled followed by Nana. With school starting early here (August 22), we are trying to squeeze everything we can out of summer!

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Cooking class

We were the beneficiaries of meals planned and prepared by our girls this week. I sat down with them last week to peruse some cookbooks and pick out some relatively easy recipes that they could do. Lucy was up first and she picked out pork loin with olives and capers in a white wine sauce, mashed potatoes and green beans. I think her favorite thing was pounding the bejeebers out of the pork loin since it needed to be thin enough to cook quickly.

Her second favorite thing to do was to use the ricer to make the mashed potatoes but she also got to use an actual knife to cut the olives and parsley which thrilled her beyond belief.
She happily scarfed it all down!
A few days later it was Kate's turn. Since she picked a one-pot meal she also lobbied for a fancy dessert accompaniment. We started by making that first since it would need to back while we ate. She chose quick single serving cherry cobblers.
Her main dish was a Ramen noodle dish with beef and veggies. She chose carrots, red and green cabbage and shaved brussels sprouts for her veggies. First up was making the sauce.
She, too, was thrilled to use a "grown up" knife. It didn't even matter that what she was cutting was scallions...an onion....which she hates. Suddenly, because she was the one who prepared it, onions just add a "nice flavor" to her dish.
Although it didn't call for it, she garnished the plates with sesame seeds since it was rather a plain dish to photograph. But it was delish!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Independent Riders!

One of my goals for the summer was to have two girls who could ride their bikes independently. I was getting a bit worried that this might not happen since they expressed no interest whatsoever in riding once Len took their training wheels off. Although they could both ride their balance bikes with ease, combining balancing with pedaling was proving to be a challenge so they fell back to using their scooters most afternoons.

Enter peer pressure.

They noticed that the neighbor boys (one of whom is younger than them by a year), sailing past our house on two wheels. Ah motivation!

It only took three evenings after supper to have them up and riding around like champs.

This was Lucy's attempt last night:

Lucy riding bike from Lisa on Vimeo.

And Kate's last night:

Kate riding bike from Lisa on Vimeo.

By tonight, they were breezing around the driveway and out onto the street and back. With little car traffic and no sidewalks full of commuters from the EL, it is MUCH easier to navigate two kids on bikes.

Here's Kate's inaugural ride alone:

Kate bikes alone from Lisa on Vimeo.

And Lucy's:

Lucy rides alone from Lisa on Vimeo.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Talent Show 2016

There was a Youth Talent Show for the 4th of July festivities here. The girls were adament that I sign them up and then they spent a bit of time figuring out what they would do. They decided on part of the kindergarten program they had practiced all last month as well as the kung fu song that they love. The kung fu song is at the end of the 2nd video and is completely "choreographed" by them.  I managed to get part of the program on my phone before I ran out of memory and battery. Len got the 2nd video on his phone.

Talent show from Lisa on Vimeo.

Talent Show 2 from Lisa on Vimeo.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Love Letter, Month 78

Dear Kate,

You are 78 months old today.
This has been a busy and happy month for you...your first full month in your new home.
We moved last month from the only home you've ever known and you were very trepidatious about the whole thing. I'm happy to report that you have settled in nicely and are thrilled with your new surroundings.
You and Lucy are making lots of new friends and flexing new, independent muscles that you never could when we lived in the city. You revel in being able to go outside to play without me or run to the mailbox every day.
So much has happened this month that I'm not sure where to start so let's just jump in. You began swim lessons this month with Corinne who has also become a new babysitter for a few hours a week so I can get us unpacked and settled.
Last week you joined the swim team as well. Your swimming has improved so much that you were finally able to pass the lifeguard's test that allows you to swim in the deep section of the lake--6 laps in 6 minutes.  You were thrilled when your other favorite lifeguard, Kyle, helped you to celebrate by throwing you over the ropes into the deep end.
I think you might just have a bit of a crush on Kyle...

Fortunately, the lifeguards are awesome and when the lake is not busy, they take time to play with you and your friends, whether it is teaching you to play sharks and minnows, towing you all around on a rope or teaching you how to return a volleyball serve.

Other "firsts" this month included getting your first library card:
Meeting your new flute teacher, Ms. Hideko:
Going to your first carnival and loving all the rides, food and games:

Having your first outpatient surgical procedure...to remove a pyogenic granuloma. Fortunately, it was not cancerous, just very painful to remove.
 Sister helped to distract you with her Nook.
Learning to play Bingo....
...and becoming a bit obsessed with it:
Learning to fish with live worms
 which was successful,
or crumbled crackers thrown in the lagoon...
 which was not.
One of your biggest excitements this month was FINALLY losing a tooth during the 4th of July festivities.

And the other great excitement this month was a visit from Lina and her family from Sweden, both in June and this past weekend, as well as Lucy D. and Ava from Chicago. We had a great weekend sleepover and you in particular were very sad to see everyone drive away yesterday.

This month's transition to another way of living has gone better than I think you or I thought it would. The relief that we both feel with that realization has made this one of the best months together that we've had in a long time. I can tell because you wrote me a series of love notes that you left all over the house for me to find. They said:

"Mom, Welcome back to the Land of Love Notes. xoxo Kate."
"Mom, I Love how you lahif (laugh). Love Kate"
"Mom, I Love it wen you R Happy. Love, Kate"
"I Love Mom with all my heart. Love Kate xoxo"
"I love Mommy a lot. Love Kate"
I love you too Katiebug. And I love being in the Land of Love Notes. From inside my slippers to my underwear drawer to my nightstand, they make me smile every time I find a pink note peeking out for me to find.


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