Friday, August 19, 2011

Ellie's birthday invitations

Soon, our sweet Ellie will be 6. Ellie's birthday is one year and three days behind one of her friends and classmates, Danielle. Danielle was in Ellie's class when we first started at Beehive, and they are in the same class again now that Ellie has moved up. Having friends already in the class is not a given, and it was a wonderful transition point for our sensitive girl. When Danielle's mom realized their parties might be on the same weekend, she suggested we have a joint party. I was reluctant. Our family limits party size: the age you are is the number of kids you can invite. Sharing that party means Ellie can only invite 3 people (unless the guest requests overlap). She wants to invite some younger friends from her old class, while Danielle has been out of that class for two years now. It was if-y, but when we floated the idea to the girls, Ellie was thrilled! How could I say no?

This afternoon, Danielle came over after school so they could make their invitations together. It's going to be an art party, so handmade invitations seemed the only way to go. We gave the girls a pile of materials: markers, colored pencils, crayons, stickers, glue, scissors, collage materials, sequins... Stickers was the only draw.

Ellie is so proud of her newfound ability to read and write with confidence that she was having none of the idea that I write the information on the invitations for her. Knowing older children are invited, this mama was nervous about her phonetic spelling lest she be horribly teased about a great source of pride. She is so sensitive, and I'm such a mama bear. I told her invitations were not like letters, that they had to have the same information, that the moms needed specific details...but she was having none of my reasons. I offered to write it all out for her (and did so), but she had zero interest in copying my work. She wrote her 3 invitations, each identical at the start but incorporating a little more detail than the last until the third looked like this:

I want to keep and treasure this sweet invitation. Of course, I have to send it. Thank the Lord she has addressed it to another sweet soul whom I cannot imagine would ever tease her. Still, I just want to hold it for my very own, a fleeting moment in the growth and development of this darling little girl who won't be little for very much longer.

We heart routine

Markus's sister Ulla and her partner Eckart are here visiting. They arrived last Friday, and the visit has been great from the start. The girls really enjoy playing with them, and all is going smoothly. They haven't even seemed to mind being awoken super-early by a little girl eager to pounce on them and play before sun-up. On Wednesday, they headed out of town, driving north to Monkey Mia to see the dolphins there and enjoy a bit of open country along the (long long) way. They have been missed, but it's funny to note how settled the girls are in their absence.

Because the visit hasn't been stressful or unpleasant or challenging in any way, we didn't much notice the disturbance in routine. We had set up a guest room in my sewing room instead of moving the girls from their beds. School is in session, so their weekday routine remains unchanged as well. But... From the get-go, Ellie used their visit as an opportunity to test every single one of our rules and my firm points. Push, push, push. Test, test, test. Will things stay the same now that there are two more adults here? Let's see what Mama does when...
On the second night of their stay, Ellie started moaning in her sleep quite a bit and waking in great distress. She complained of pain and discomfort, needed to pee, etc...all unusual once she's fallen asleep. Each night it got a bit worse until Markus and I debated taking her to the doctor to check for a urinary tract infection. I was hesitant because she showed no signs of pain or discomfort during the day, but her distress at night was escalating to the degree that "drama queen" diagnosis seemed questionable too. Last night was the second night of Ulla and Eckart being away, and it was the first night Ellie slept through without so much as a peep. Ah-ha.

These girls thrive on routine!

Being so very far from family and friends, our little family routine is pretty iron-clad. We don't stick to it out of parenting philosophy; rather, it works best for us, so it's what we do. A facet of that I do believe applies across the board is children like knowing what to expect. Even when the changes aren't stressful, it's still a big change from a child's perspective.

Sharing this is not my way of saying no more houseguests please. We simply found it remarkable to see what differences have emerged in our big girl over the course of a week, all based on a change at home. I share here more out of accuracy in reporting than any other motivation. Markus and I were a bit flabbergasted to notice at our own bedtime last night how quiet the house was for the first time in days. That's when it hit us (yet again): children heart routine, big style.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Kee-koo, kee-koo

As we pulled out of the driveway on our way to pick-up Ellie from school, we noticed the gardener's truck parked on the verge, hazard lights flashing. We drove a bit down the road before Stephanie piped up from the back seat:

"Mama, I know how to make the kee-koo noise."
"I know it. I know the kee-koo noise."
"It goes like this: kee-koo, kee-koo, kee-koo."
Yes, it does (I'm still not following this...).
"I know how you do it. Just press that red button right there (hazard lights), and it makes the kee-koo noise."
(Ah-ha!) You're right! It does!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

As you do

It's winter in Perth. I'm sure you can tell. If we sit inside longer than five minutes, our fingers and toes start to go numb. The secret is not to sit inside...

We've been pelted with a lot of rain and battered by strong winds lately (ah, winter storms!), so this weekend's weather seemed especially sweet! The girls are always happy to just be at home on the weekends. Normally, Mama and Papa are good with that on Saturday but get itchy feet by Sunday. Not so this weekend. We just soaked up the easy life, enjoying a delicious picnic lunch on our table outside before realizing it was warm enough to head to the river for some fun. Dolphins greeted us as we walked to the shoreline, but alas, they swam away before we could get the kayak in the water.

This afternoon, the weather was still beautiful so I treated the girls to ice cream cones and playtime at the beach. Life in Perth (in winter!) is so tough...

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

She put tears in my eyes

A family we don't know in our school has experienced a horrible tragedy. The father (in his mid-30s) suddenly died at work last week (aneurysm). The children are similar ages to our girls. It is unimaginable.

Markus and I were discussing it quietly when Ellie overheard and asked what we were talking about. I decided to tell her in the gentlest but most honest terms I could. I asked if she knew a boy named Saxon. She did, though vaguely we could tell. I asked what class he was in, and she told me. Then, I calmly explained that Saxon's daddy had died and it was very sad. She wanted to know why Papa and I were talking about it if we didn't know them, so I explained that her school had notified all the parents in case children wanted to talk about it. She was quiet and thoughtful. Then, she asked if that meant he and his sister didn't have a daddy to play with anymore. I told her yes, that was it meant. She thought for a moment, and then she smiled reassuringly and said, "Well, if they don't have a daddy to play with, we could share our daddy and they could play with him too."

I want to leave it there, because I am so moved by my girl's sweet, tender, loving heart...but there's more and I bet you'd want to hear it too. When you are prepared to move from touched to tickled, I have to add...

Noticing how warmly we received her suggestion, she thought up a second one after a while:
"You know, Saxon is kind of brown. His skin is kind of brown. Maybe there is another brown family with two daddies, and they could just give the extra brown daddy to Saxon's family, and then they will have a daddy again!" (huge grin of satisfaction)
We explained that they were probably a bit too sad to look for a new daddy right away, but we would be sure to pass on the advice when they were ready.

Tuesday, August 02, 2011

Setting Figaro loose

You may or may not recall our little canary, Figaro. When we first brought him home, he was silent for nearly 3 months. We assumed he was broken...or maybe a girl in disguise (sorry, Figaro). Who knew he would start to sing so joyfully at such a deafening volume? We love his cheerful song, although I admit we've already come to take it a bit for granted. He's such a sweet little bird.

Markus has been feeling guilty that Figaro lives in such a small cage. We've priced big cages and can't justify it ($250+!), so Markus decided Figaro needed to come out into our home for brief flight and exploration excursion. These pictures are from this weekend, on Figaro's third such excursion. Trying to catch him again is The Devil, but he seems awfully pleased with the freedom while he has it. We are delighted to notice that he tends to stay in the same room with us, even when given free reign of the house. It's rather endearing.

After a while, I grabbed the opportunity for a short nap. Figaro flew in to see what I was doing. He flew away before Markus caught a picture of him at the foot of the bed.

Sweet little guy.