Thursday, December 27, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Oh, this poor neglected family blog.  Will it ever see regular posting again?

Merry Christmas to you and yours!
Our first Christmas back in the States was celebrated with Mimi!  Hooray!  Mimi drove over from Virginia on Saturday and staying through Christmas morning, wanting to be here when the girls opened their gifts...and such a mountain of gifts there were!  My goodness, we are all very spoiled this year.

Christmas loot

Ellie is such an avid reader (she devours books like they are going out of style), so her favorite gifts were books (naturally).  She received 10 and has read them all already.  Luckily, she loves to read the same books over and over, so the reading has only just begun.  Mimi gave the girls some awesome Playmobil sets (a zoo and a stable, as well as some smaller sets), and Ellie has really enjoyed those too, particularly the zoo.  It was such a favorite that Papa allowed it to stay set up in the middle of the living room floor for three days before he just couldn't handle the disorder anymore and it went to the playroom (where she resumed playing with it).

Christmas Playmobil

Stephanie received many beautiful presents, but thus far, her undeniable favorites are Ruthie the Deer from Mama and a musical Christmas card from Grandmary.  She has carried both items around almost constantly since Christmas morning.  Ruthie the Deer is her new best friend.  She has been with Stephanie non-stop, even sleeping with her at night which is very unusual (Stephanie often finds sleeping with toys disturbs her rest).

Stephanie and Ruthie

Alas, Markus and Stephanie both woke up sick with colds on Christmas morning.  Papa was rather cranky about it, and Stephanie just sounds poorly.  Both of them are coughing and exhausted and occasionally feverish, though now we're on day 3 and are slowly getting better.  Unfortunately, we had planned a trip to visit friends in North Carolina that we have had to cancel since Papa and Stephanie were too sick.  The weather has also been rather wintry (a winter storm strong enough to be named like a hurricane would be in summer), and the airports are a mess.  We will try to meet up with them sometime in the spring.

On Boxing Day, we woke to grey skies with a predicted snowfall of 4-6 inches between 10am and 2:30pm.  We didn't believe it.  We should have!  It started snowing at 9:40am and didn't stop until the afternoon.  It was so cold out that the snow stuck.  Markus could not be stopped from shoveling and salting the driveway before dark.  

  snowball headed my way

Now, he and Ellie are outside throwing snowballs near each other.  He has lugged at few at the glass door right in front of me since he can see me inside on the computer.  Stinker.

Winter wonderland

snowy cuddle

Despite two of us having bad colds, there was no resisting a morning walk into the village to get bagels.  A little bit of Sewickley in the snow for you to see...

Sewickley village

snowball hit!


It has been hard seeing so much fun snow and being too sick to get out and play in it.

this little elf has a cold

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Winter solstice

pretty little snowflakes

The first day of winter.  Naturally, it snowed.
It was just a little snow, but it was enough to satisfy the hungry heart of our Ellie, who was thrilled.  When we told her the weather forecast, she simply shrugged, saying "Of course it will snow!  It is the first day of winter!" as if we really were too simple-minded for words.

When we awoke the next morning to a thin layer of snow blanketing our world, she was over the moon.  She ran into our room before dawn, begging to go out and build a snowman.  She couldn't wait another second, so she dressed quickly and was outside in her snowsuit before we had even budged from bed.  We could hear her delighted cry (something like "Hee-hoo!" packed with as much pure delight as you can imagine), and that brought us to the window to watch her.  After breakfast, Papa and Stephanie joined her outside.  It took almost every bit of snow in our yard (front and back), but with Papa's help, they did build a snowman/snow Gruffalo/ "Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer Snowman".

getting the snowman started

snow Gruffalo or reindeer or whatever he is

A bit later, we all walked into the village and went to Starbucks for their ever-popular-with-our-girls donuts, and people couldn't seem to believe our girls were wearing snowsuits in the 2 inches on the ground.  We encountered no other kids, so it was funny to realize that ours were the only kids out and they had been out for hours.

little snow fight

Several weeks of winter ahead.  We look forward to many more snow days of joy to come!

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Big girl milestone!

After weeks (months? years?) of requesting, the parents finally agreed that it was time for ear piercing.  I had always told the girls that they needed to be 7 years old, but the closer she got to her 7th birthday, the less Ellie asked.  I thought she was waiting, but she was changing her mind.  By the time she did turn 7, she insisted she needed to be older, perhaps 9 or 10.

Stephanie, however, was more than ready to get hers pierced.  Someone was 7, so why wait?  The urgency increased dramatically when one of the girls in her class got her ears pierced.  Two other girls had theirs pierced as babies, leaving only Stephanie and one other girl without pierced ears.  She just couldn't accept that.  She began asking up to five times a day until finally over Thanksgiving holiday, Papa and Mama agreed it was time.  We managed to get to her wait until the day everyone went back to school and the mall was empty again.  I took Stephanie to get her ears pierced last Tuesday.

Stephanie gets her ears pierced

Stephanie gets her ears pierced

She is sooooo proud!  We have shown these earrings to everyone we can.  Although she's still too shy to talk to people she doesn't know, she does insist I talk to people we don't know so I can tell them about her getting her ears pierced: people in shops, other moms at school, big kids at Ellie's school, people in line at the grocery store as well as the check-out person...everyone needs to know!  Without fail, everyone asks if she cried or if it hurt, but she proudly answers no to both.  To my amazement, she didn't even flinch when the woman at the mall pierced her ears one at a time.  Cool as a cucumber.  I told her she is a tough little nut, which she also proudly repeats to anyone who listens.

Naturally, the questions from all these people flowed back to Ellie.  Why don't you have your ears pierced?  Don't you want them?  Honestly, I'm not sure Ellie was ready.  She was still feeling quite anxious...but one cannot have one's little sister upstaging oneself for long.  On Saturday afternoon, Ellie got her ears pierced too.  Papa came along this time to witness the milestone.

Ellie gets her ears pierced

Two big girls with their ears pierced!  Amazing.
(although in this photo, I still really see the baby her isn't gone quite yet...)

  baby cheeks on our big girl

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

And then I laughed until my eyes watered

It has been cold and drizzling non-stop for a week.  The daytime and nighttime temperatures are almost identical, hovering around 40-45 degrees F.  Looking at the forecast for similar days to come, Markus shook his head in disgust and muttered:

"This must be what nuclear winter feels like."

Monday, October 15, 2012

Dinosaur nest

Ellie insisted I come outside so she could show me something amazing.
There is a strange, circular depression in the grass in our front yard.

dinosaur nest

 "Mama, look at this!  In the time of the dinosaurs, this wasn't grass.  This was probably mud, and this place is where the dinosaurs made a nest!  And we can still see it!"

  dinosaur nest

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

First brush with carnage

The girls were playing outside this afternoon when suddenly Ellie started screaming (she gives new meaning to the expression "screaming bloody murder").  This is not altogether unusual or indicative of real trauma, so I was prepared to let it go until I heard Stephanie start screaming at the same decibel level.  Not good.  Still, I felt casual.  I made my way to the back door, looking out in time to see our cat Camilla proudly running toward me with a chipmunk in her jaws.  Ah ha.

I lovingly shepherded our tender-hearted girls through the door (cat and chipmunk stayed out, thank you very much) and tried to calm them down.  They were completely beside themselves, hysterical with woe.  After a few moments, Stephanie's screaming kicked up a notch and I saw her looking at a very bloody finger.  What the?  Now my stress gear kicks in.

While washing her finger and dialling our doctor, I managed to extract the story from our sobbing girls that Ellie saw the dying chipmunk and started screaming because she was so upset.  Stephanie wanted to save the chipmunk, so she tried to take it from Camilla, at which point the chipmunk bit her savagely on her pinky finger.  Poor mite.

Fortunately, our doctor believes nothing worse will come of it than the hard lesson not to touch wild animals, even to try to help them.  I cleaned Stephanie's finger thoroughly and plopped her in front of The Muppets for distraction.  Ellie resumed wailing for a while, saying she wanted to give away the kitties and get our canary and blue fish from Australia because "they never hurt anyone or anything!"

Poor little loves.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012


The weather this weekend was bitterly cold and damp (freeze warnings at night!  I had to finally turn on the heater), so of course the girls didn't want to go outside and play.  That was just fine by me, except it was a 3 day weekend for Columbus Day.  By Day 3, they were a little tired of each other and of being in the house...but there was no way they wanted to be outside for a long time either.  I took them bowling.

first time bowling

first time bowling

first time bowling

You can see they had this interesting metal frame ramp for kids.  I had never seen one before (I grew up with the push and hope method), but this was neat.  Place the ball on top of the ramp and let it roll.  It builds up a bit of momentum and ideally knocks down more pins.  Since their scores were rather close to mine (ahem), I give it a big thumbs up!

They had a blast!  Well, Stephanie and I did.  Ellie was having a blast until half-way through the first game, Mama scored two strikes in a row, and her competitive edge got the best of her.  We played another game in which no strikes or even spares were achieved (not by intention either), so she was mollified back into good times.

We hauled all the way to Mount Lebanon (a 30+ minute drive each way) to bowl.  Stephanie nearly fell asleep on the way there, and we were all exhausted on the way home...but we all agreed it was worth it for the fun, though we cannot do it often.  Today, I mentioned this to a new friend, and she wanted to know why we drove all the way there when we could have gone just 10 minutes away to bowl (and that's why being friends with locals is more useful than using the internet to find things, alas).

Thursday, October 04, 2012

Our Ellie

Oh, this girl.  This girl right here.  The seven-year-old with the sweet smile and the warm, loving heart that is three times the usual size.

Happy cat, happy girl

One of the moms stopped me at school pick-up today.  She told me her daughter (in Ellie's class) had been very sad this week and was having a hard time...but Ellie, our sweet Ellie, had been taking care of her.  She had been with her every day, putting her arm around the sad girl's shoulders, assuring her it would be all right and generally looking after her.  The girl had mentioned the extra care to her mom, but then even the teacher had written her an email saying she shouldn't worry because Ellie was making sure she was feeling as happy and supported as possible.

So happy

This sweet, sensitive girl.  This intense, occasional drama queen, sometimes maddening girl.  This studious, focused, dedicated girl.

Birthday lunch out at the b gourmet

We are oh-so-blessed to share our lives with her.

We's purty

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Here we go again

Hi there, friends and family for whom this blog is intended!

I'm sorry to have to do this to you, but this blog is going password-protected again.  As before, you will have to sign in with a password you choose.  I can't see it.  When I make the blog private, Google will send you an email inviting you to view the blog.  You will click the link in that email and set up a password.

I know it is so very much easier to check in with us when this is a public blog, but alas, sketchy behaviour* is once again motivating this change.  It's unfortunate, but I think it's either password protection or no more blogging.

I will make the change by the end of this week.

*What sketchy behaviour?  A significant number of visitors being directed here by a Russian porn site cannot be good.  I don't know how or why, but that needs to stop.  I've already gone into my flickr account and hidden the pics of our nudist Stephanie from her toddler years, but still.  I just can't have my words and images out there in this kind of crazy.

Peanut gallery

We were trying to get Ellie to figure some math tonight.  A 12th grader came to the door, collecting for charity.  She couldn't believe he was in high school because "he looked so old!"  If she is in 2nd grade and he is in 12th grade, how many years older is that?

Stephanie piped up with some guesses: "10!"  "12!"  "Painting!"

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Numbers of Ellie...and Stephanie

Ellie was completing a homework sheet "All About Me in Numbers" with questions like "What are the numbers in your street address?  What is your height in inches?"

The last question was "How many books do you own?"

This one was overwhelming.  I told her she didn't really have to go count them but to just make up a number higher than 100, like 147.  She asked if she could put 1000, but I thought that might overdo it.

Then Stephanie suggested, "Put '50 like a tiger'."


Wednesday, September 05, 2012

First day of Pre-K

Ellie wasn't the only girl in this family who started school on Wednesday.

first day at pre-K

Stephanie has started attending FriendShip preschool at the Presbyterian Church near our house.  The preschool is not religious, though they do say a prayer of thanks before snacktime.  It has a play-based learning model, which Stephanie loves!  She has been a happy camper since day one.  She was so very ready to go to school.  Of course, I'm sure it helps that last week was a starter week with only one hour of school each day for three days.  Her regular week will be daily "school" for only 2.5 hours, a far cry from her rigorous, highly regulated 8:30-1:30 days at her previous Montessori school.

I've always been a big believer in the Montessori method for under-6s.  While no one approach is perfect, I really like the emphasis on independence and structure in the Montessori system.  It was ideal for our rule-bound Ellie; not so much for our free-spirited Stephanie.  We always suspected that a play-based program would suit her personality better, but it wasn't worth sending the girls to two different schools to find out.  In this location, however, we have no choice about that; two different schools was our only option.  Stephanie is thrilled!

In the US, Kindergarten is the first year of mandatory schooling.  The year before that in most preschools is called Pre-Kindergarten or Pre-K.  Since Stephanie won't reach the Pennsylvania age cut-off for kindergarten until next year, she is in pre-k now. Her teacher, Mrs. Lear, is very kind, warm and experienced.  She gave up teaching kindergarten more than 10 years ago and has been teaching at this preschool ever since.  There are only seven other children in the afternoon class (mornings are more popular; we couldn't get in), so the small class size is fantastic.  From the very first day, Stephanie has gone in without a backward glance.  We're so happy we found a great place for her too.

  first day of pre-k

Back to school

her desk

Today, Ellie starts second grade at Sewickley Academy.  She is in Ms. Boehmig's (pronounced "Bay-mig") class.  Here, I actually got a smile as she sat down at her desk for the first time.

After months of change and without school, Ellie was understandably apprehensive this morning.  There were tears and fears of my leaving her there.  After a while, she let go of me long enough for me to go get her a tissue...and when I returned, her teacher had taken my place.  She was snuggled in close to Ellie, soothing her with kind words and offering reassurance.

  with her lovely teacher

This is going to be a great year!

Tuesday, September 04, 2012

Ellie's surprise party

Weeks ago, Ellie started looking ahead to her birthday (this Friday!).  All she wanted, she said, was to have a surprise party with her friends (from Australia...sigh).  I couldn't make that last part happen, and I was a bit worried about the first part too.  Although we live on a street overrun with little girls (22 on our street!), we haven't really made friends with them yet.  I wasn't sure how we could do a party, what's more a surprise party.  And then, it all worked out.

This past weekend, we drove to Northern Virginia to visit family.  With school starting on Wednesday, we knew this would be our last chance to drive over there until Thanksgiving.  While it was a bit whirlwind and exhausting, it was worth it!  We all enjoyed extra time with Mimi.  I was able to have a nice solo chat/visit with my grandpa and a girls' night out with my mom, sister and my grandpa's wife, Barbara.  The girls enjoyed their first iced custard while we visited Uncle Bob, Christina and baby Lily.   On Sunday, my sister and her husband, Matt, hosted a family brunch.  When she called to check the menu with me, I asked if perhaps we could have a balloon or two and call it a surprise party for Ellie.  Then, my mom got hold of the idea and there was no way she could stop at a balloon or two!  It was a full-blown, super-exciting princess-themed surprised birthday brunch party.  And the girl who only wanted a surprise party for her birthday this year...did she love it?  Decide for yourself.

birthday girl!

so excited!

Uncle Bob

surprise party banner

silly boys

opening presents

See those curled up feet?  That is true excitement.
Thank you to my family for this truly special event.  She was/is so very happy.  I know she will never forget it.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Update on editing job

I finally heard back about that little editing job.  I figured after so much time having passed, I probably didn't get it.  Still, I admit I felt rather disappointed when the official "no" came in my inbox.  Sigh.  Oh well.  I will go with the philosophy that it would have worked if it were the right thing.

This week, the girls start school.  Stephanie will only go for 2.5 hours each day, but that is 2.5 hours I don't have now.  I know too well how quickly those little hours will go, how easily they can be lost on errands and cleaning and kitchen work...but with a master plan and a lot of discipline, I might be able to turn that time into some exciting new projects.  We will see.

Thank you, as always, for your encouragement and support!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Defining territory

Last night, the girls were running from Papa in a giggle-coated game of tag.  They've taken to declaring just about any available spot "base" or "free" so they can stop at will.  Last night, all "bases" were off.  They ran and giggled and ran and squealed until Ellie demanded to know where was free?

Papa answered, "Switzerland."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

School starts next week...for both girls!

love this girl

We've known for a while that Ellie will be attending Sewickley Academy.  A few weeks ago, Stephanie was screened for their pre-kindergarten program.  Although the pre-k class is full, we were hoping they planned to make an exception and give her a spot anyway.  Why else would they screen her mid-summer, right?  Or not.  They screened her so she can officially be the first spot on their waiting list.  However, with just over a week until school starts, it's not looking good for her to attend.  Furthermore, no other local preschools had availability in the morning either, which is her best time.  I had never really considered standard preschool anyway; I always wanted Montessori until age 6, which also isn't available.  Hmmm.

I have been more than fine with the idea of Stephanie being home with me again this year.  I feel an awareness of how fleeting these younger years truly are, and I was happy for the time with her.  Although she did well in her previous environment, she never really warmed to the idea of school.  Or so we thought.  Lately, she talks a lot about school.  She misses her class, her friends, her teachers.  She asks when she will go back.  She's ready.

What to do?

This morning, we visited a small, non-denominational preschool run out of the Presbyterian church at the bottom of our street called FriendShip.  It has been highly recommended to us, and just yesterday some moms told me the afternoon class only has 7 kids (everyone likes mornings) and 2 teachers.  That sounded pretty good to me.  I called and we were invited to visit.  Stephanie didn't want to go ("I don't want to go to school!"), but after we checked it out, she didn't want to leave.  I signed her up right away, and she will start the same day Ellie does.

I don't love that it isn't a Montessori environment, but it definitely isn't just daycare.  It reminds me a lot of Ellie's peuterspeelzaal in Holland.  There are weekly themes, alphabet learning, walking field trips (fire station, small grocery store...), but it's only 2.5 hours per day.  She will still have mornings with me, and then she can play with other children and be in a learning environment after lunch until we pick up Ellie from school.

Plus, she's excited, and that's the point that really matters.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

New opportunity?

For years, I've been wanting to expand my writing.  Our crazy changeable lifestyle gives me every excuse (and often reason) not to, but I still want to do it.  I have purchased two different new domain names in the past 2 years: the first I felt was perfect for me and the second because the perfect first name doesn't really apply now that we're stateside again.  Hm.

Recently, I've really been enjoying the posts at DesignMom.  This week, she posted some assistant positions to work on her site.  I felt that the book editor position was right up my alley with a much more realistic time burden than a whole new blog for myself, so I applied.  She has other applicants, many of whom seem to have well-known blogs themselves, but I was excited to try anyway.

Fingers crossed!

Stephanie speak

Stephanie came to see me and moments later there was an odor.  I asked if she "made stink."
She sniffed the air several times and said,

"No, it wasn't me.  I didn't feel a bump in my bottom so it wasn't me."

Later this same morning, we were in a parking lot when we all noticed a strange smell coming from the street.  Stephanie announced,

"It smells just like elephant fur!"

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Baby Lily

This past weekend, my brother Robert, his partner Christina and their baby daughter (my niece!) Lily came for a visit.  This was their first travels with a baby, and it was wonderful to see them.  Seeing my "little" brother as a smitten father is incredibly sweet, and having a darling baby in the house again, even for a short while, was marvelous.  It reminded me and Markus of just how much our girls have grown and changed, and how quickly (too quickly!) it all happens.

Lily meets the baby doll

what a face!

fingers and feet

father and daughter

Christina and Lily


Lily celebrated her first birthday last month, but we had a little party for her here too.  I miss our life and our friends in Perth, but being able to share time with family again helps me know in my heart that this choice is right for us at this time.  I wouldn't want to miss this.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Happy Weekend


What a week!  I tell ya.  When some women get PMS, they become homicidal.  I just cry.  A lot.  Somehow, homicidal seems more feminist.  Sigh.
But the drama is over as the hormones recede.

I don't know about you, but I am looking forward to the weekend!  Weather-wise, we are expecting a cool front (hooray!).  Family-wise, we are expecting guests!  My brother, his girlfriend/partner/lady and their baby daughter are coming for a visit.  They are on the road right now, and we're all very excited. I've been cleaning like a mad thing for the past few hours (ahem), but the end result is pretty darn satisfying.  Even the girls noticed.  When I enlisted them in a major playroom tidy, my older daughter had a meltdown...but later when the room was all clean, she stood back, put her hands on her hips, and said, "I'm feeling very proud of myself!"  Amen, sister.

Wishing you a wonderful weekend!

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Gossip: a twist in the saga

So, I just received a call from the pediatrician's office.  He says we can see him after all.  Which really begs the question...

What the heck went down yesterday?!

Part of me is very happy this is over with no apparent hard feelings (he is our neighbor, so we do have to see him from time to time), but part of me wonders what happened in the first place.  Maybe he was having a bad day?  Maybe it was the office staff?  I have no idea.  I doubt we'll ever know.

I smiled and said we would just stick with a different doctor for now, but to please thank him for thinking of us.


Ran into the neighbor who recommended him in the first place.  I called her yesterday to ask about the urgent care clinic, but I hadn't updated her when we were dumped.  She said she saw him last night and asked if he'd met us.  She told him she knew we'd missed our appointment that morning but that I "felt appropriately bad about it" (I was in my crying phase when I called her about urgent care).  She went on to say that she had told us that he would never leave us high and dry if a child needed care and that it would be all right.

And today his office calls us and offers us a place back in the fold.


Wednesday, August 08, 2012

The black brush

After months of settling in process, there are still a few loose ends.  We still haven't met our doctors or dentist.  I have appointments, but most required a month-plus wait.  Our pediatrician appointment was this morning at 9am.

The girls are up so early each day that usually by 9, we're all starting to get a little stir-crazy.  An appointment at 9 was perfect.  Yesterday, I remembered to get the records ready.  I double-checked them twice.  

This morning was a lovely morning.  The girls played.  We baked muffins.  We all sat together and munched and chatted until it was time to walk to their art which point I remembered our appointment.  Nearly an hour too late.

It was a simple, honest mistake and I took full responsibility for it when I called the office to see what we could do, but I am still painted with the black brush.  New patient who cannot be bothered to show up for her very first appointment, especially one with so many things (back-to-school physicals, prescription refills...) to check off the list.  They let me know what that meant for my mothering skills.  I wonder if it would give them satisfaction to know that after we rescheduled in six weeks' time that I cried for an hour.

The irony is that if it had been a stressful, crazy morning, there is no way I would have forgotten.  I would have been eager to run out the door with somewhere we had to go.  But it wasn't and I did forget.  I feel bad, but that doesn't mean I am bad.  I hate being painted with that black brush.

Earlier, I was upset.  I thought I was dramatizing a bit when I talked about the black brush, but it seems I wasn't.

Change "black brush" to "Black List."

One of the receptionists called us again this afternoon, saying she needed to reschedule us with someone else in the practice.  She was the nicest person I had talked to this morning, and she said she told him I was very sorry, that I had called less than an hour late with an apology.  She said the doctor had then told her that if we cannot keep our appointment, we cannot see him at all.  One strike and we're out.  She seemed embarrassed and emphasized that he made her call.  Apparently, this isn't policy.

To add insult to injury, this doctor is our neighbor.  He literally lives two houses down from us.  The reason we waited this long to see him is because all the families on our street use him and rave about how great he is.  Although we haven't met him yet, he knows he's our neighbor (another neighbor told me she told him about us and her recommendation).  I'm glad he is wonderful to them.  He has been awfully harsh towards us today.  It's going to be hard smiling when I see him in the street, but I will do it.

In the meantime, I took my daughter to a very friendly urgent care centre, where they happily did her physical and gave us prescription refills.  No appointment.  No wait.
We were there when the receptionist called me about my Black List status, and the doctor we were seeing was kind enough to be shocked.  She said she has not met a doctor with a one strike policy (usually it's three and sometimes not even then).  At least I can feel somewhat reassured that this isn't what to expect now that we're back in the States.  It has been a hard transition.

Monday, August 06, 2012

Papa chew toy

They call him "Papa chew toy".  He is the entertainment source of choice.  On a hot, hot day when we all would rather be inside, he still provides the best fun: "tossing" Stephanie and a serious indoor tennis match with Ellie the Champion.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Drawing dolphins

A couple of days ago, Stephanie called me downstairs to look at what she'd been doing on the chalkboard: drawing a family of dolphins!

 drawing dolphins

She was very proud of her work. Usually, she prefers to colour in with markers or paint rather than draw her own, so this was a delight to see. Of course, the painting is pretty great too. She and I have been painting together most mornings when Ellie is at camp. Today, Ellie is home from camp (they are having a field trip from 8:30am-5pm which was too much for us), but Stephanie is still engaging in a morning ritual as I type up this blog entry to share with you.

  morning watercolor time


cool chick in Mama's sunnies

Could you not just eat this girl up?

Monday, July 30, 2012

And she's off!

We bought her the bicycle over a year ago.  The initial excited enthusiasm lasted less than a week before her hyper-cautious nature kicked in and she refused to ride it.  She was afraid she'd fall.  She didn't trust the training wheels.  She wasn't confident that we wouldn't let go.  She just didn't want to.  Training wheels or not (tho especially against the "not"), she would not ride her bike. Hoping to spur her along, we brought her bike on our family trip to Rottnest, where there are no cars and cycles are the best way to get around.  She wasn't having it.  She wailed at the thought and wailed louder when I got on her bike and rode it for her, trying (and failing) to make her laugh and spark her interest.

In the months since, we've talked about it as much as she'll allow.  In the past weeks, I've pointed out all the kids riding without training wheels and how fun it looks.  Lately, I have let it drop here and there that I intend for her to be riding her bike without her training wheels by the end of the summer.  How I was supposed to get her on the seat was beyond me, but I figured we'd get to that somehow.  I dropped it again this weekend, saying Stephanie could learn at the same time.  Markus took the training wheels off both kid bikes that day.  It was on.  Sort of.

Then, tonight, Ellie spied her bike, sans training wheels.  In minutes, it had been wheeled into the backyard, where Markus and I both enthusiastically assured her that even if she fell, falling in the grass doesn't hurt so it was no big deal.  He ran with her, holding onto her seat, encouraging her to pedal or steer or both.  Back and forth they went as I ferried dinner items out to the table.  And then I looked up and saw Ellie cycling all on her own, at first just a few feet before thumping her feet down in triumph...and then around and around and around the house she went until she wore a track in the grass with the sheer thrill, the joy, the freedom of it!

first ride without training wheels

first ride without training wheels

first ride without training wheels

first ride without training wheels

Just like everything else she has ever done, Ellie started riding a bicycle in her own sweet time.