Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

We've received a few valentines in the mail (thank you!), but we haven't mailed any ourselves. Instead, I offer this, from us to you...

Personalize funny videos and birthday eCards at JibJab!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Ah, the joys of shared germs

Ellie has been back to school for a week now, so it was only a matter of time before she brought home Other Kids' Germs. Ellie stayed home sick today. She has a bad case of the sniffles, some sneezing, and a tiny cough that may not stay so tiny. Exhausted, no appetite, but thus far no fever, thank goodness. She looks wrecked, poor thing, not that she'd nap if I paid her a million dollars (but that's just as well because I'm fresh out). I'm hoping it will dissipate over the weekend. It doesn't make for a particularly thrilling weekend, but at least we'll all be here together. Having Markus home for tag-teaming will be great since Stephanie currently feels just fine thank you very much and wants to party at a pace that far outstrips her sagging sister. For now, they're both flopped on the couch with a movie so they can rest (though Stephanie is talking non-stop through it). Ah, the joys of shared germs.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Primed for government work

Ellie is rule-obsessed. Even her imaginative play is completely rule-bound, which makes it challenging for other kids (including Stephanie) to play with her and remain within all set parameters. Over the course of the summer holidays, we tried to create opportunities for her to live free from so many rules, such as water play or free art time where we emphasize how fun it is that there are "no rules!"

We've had mixed success with this training, as evident by this little snippet from this afternoon's painting on tree bark. As we set up, Ellie explained,

There are only two rules:
The rule is you have to use a lot of paint to make nice color on bark.
The other rule is there are no rules.
Those are the only rules! Just two!

I think we're making headway, don't you?

If the goggles fit, wear 'em!

Stephanie had her first swimming lesson today, and she is particularly proud of her new goggles. In fact, she's still wearing them. Three hours now and counting...

Monday, February 07, 2011

Back to "normal"

I've just uploaded a large batch of photos to the computer, and you've missed a lot of great stuff! I know I keep saying this, but I really need to get back into the blogging habit here. So many moments, big and small, so worth sharing with you. We've had a lot of big changes in the past few months. First the move, then Oma arriving, then Ellie's school holidays, then Oma leaving, then Ellie's new school year...whew! Today was the first day in a LONG time that felt "normal", and the familiar is such a wonderful thing. Just how "normal" was it? Stephanie went to bed and SLEPT within minutes. This has not happened since the move. Every night has been a two-hour (or more) battle of wills...but tonight, she slept. It's probably fair to say that it finally felt normal to her too. We had such a great weekend together as a family, especially yesterday, and today was routine. That is so comforting to a small child, and we like it too.

Yesterday, we decided to get out and about a bit, and we made reservations for lunch at the Millbrook Winery in Jarrahdale, about an hour's drive from home. To make it more enticing for the kids, Markus located a new playground friends had recommended we visit. They had dubbed it the "Dr. Seuss playground", and we were intrigued.

Aside from the red and white striped poles reminiscent of the Cat in the Hat's hat, we couldn't see much Dr. Seuss about the place...but the girls LOVED it!

Stephanie climbed up and jumped from the little mounds over and over and over again.

Ellie thoroughly tried out just about everything.

They would have stayed and played happily for quite a long time, but that vicious Aussie sun drove us back to the car and on to Jarrahdale, where we stopped at a little roadside shop/cafe for a snack and a short walk before Mama and Papa enjoyed lunch at the winery (and the girls enjoyed the bread). On the drive home, we stopped at the zoo for an hour or so. The girls had fallen asleep in the car, so they missed seeing this:

In case you heard about the fires in Perth yesterday, this is the closest we got. Although our house smelled strongly of smoke due to open windows upstairs, the damage was in the hills, miles from us. For now, the only news I've heard is there are no fatalities (thank God!), but dozens of homes were lost as the fires raged out of control in very strong winds yesterday (gusts up to 60kmph). Australia is really copping it this year on the natural disasters front. The fires here are always a summer threat, but it's worse this year because of such low rain this past winter; the land is bone dry. Queensland was just hit with a record-breaking cyclone. Catastrophic floods in and around Brisbane before that. The word is that this is all due to La Nina, a phenomenon that should abate after summer. Let's hope so.