Friday, June 29, 2012

Childhood asthma

Ellie's asthma is very mild, but when a chest cold gets in there, oy.  She is hacking away and has been for the past hour or so (it's now 2:30am).  The weather has been completely rotten the past few days (extremely hot and stuffy--the air just doesn't seem to move between all these hills), and there have been severe poor air quality alerts for asthma and allergy sufferers.  On top of that, Papa brought home a nasty chest cold from work nearly two weeks ago.  She didn't get it too badly, but try telling that to her poor chest at night.

Unable to sleep, I came down to look up info about air purifiers (as if that would really solve it) and found a link to the 10 worst cities for asthma sufferers on WebMD.  Pittsburgh was #4.

On the list of 10 best cities, the top three were San Francisco, Seattle and Portland.

I think I have our solution!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Images of Egypt, then and now


This week, Ellie is participating in "Tomb Raiders" art camp at the Sewickley Arts Center.  The focus is art of ancient Egypt.  So far, she's created a headpiece, breastplate and cuff


and paintings of a mummy and of an Egyptian princess with hieroglyphics.  


She loves it!  

Funnily enough, this is also the week of much (more) upheaval in modern Egypt.  First, she spotted a very confusing photo on the cover of the New York Times.


"This is Egypt?  Do they have any kids?"

And then yesterday, the new Economist arrived.


Monday, June 18, 2012

It begins

The movers arrived with our container this morning, and our life in Pittsburgh officially begins.  They were so fast and professional about it that six guys unloaded the entire container and were gone again before 2pm.  The process was far less painful than we expected, and the house is actually bigger than it seemed.  We're going to take it easy unpacking everything, focusing on the essentials first (kitchen, playroom and bedrooms) and slowly conquering each space from there.  And it's a good thing we had planned to take it slow...  Hubby started a horrible cough last night, and now he's got himself a fever too.  Poor man.  Welcome to our new home.

The girls are sharing a room that looked quite small until we actually put their beds, dresser and a shelving unit in there and saw a lot of floor space left over.  Now we just have to get them accustomed to falling asleep in the same room.  That has been wildly unsuccessful in the past, but we're determined to stick it out this time.  At least we have the whole summer holiday for them to adjust before it disturbs school night sleep.  

Our bedroom is quite small too, but we thought we'd have to squeeze our tummies in to fit past the bed to the closet...not so.  Whew!  Now, if only we could find where the Perth packers put the screws for the dresser...

There is a third, quite huge bedroom that is meant to be the master bedroom.  It seemed a waste of space for the biggest room to be for sleeping only, so we set it up as a guest room/studio for my sewing, knitting and computer work.  It already looks like a lovely space, and I'm excited we chose to set it up that way.

Tonight, I'm on kitchen patrol.  I am determined to have that room ready to go tomorrow morning.  There were sooooo many kitchen boxes.  It was painful, I admit.  Not one thing broke, but that seems expected when each individual glass was wrapped in 3-4 pieces of packing paper, such that 3 packing boxes were needed to contain them.  Sheesh.  I thought I'd never get them all unwrapped, but I did!  Now I have to put them away in a kitchen about half the size of my last kitchen....but I can do that too (somehow).

Our last house was so huge that of course we knew we had too much stuff, but there was ample space to put it all so we let it go.  In this house, there is no such problem.  The house is a (big) downsize.  We need to be selective about what we keep.  I am thankful for it, truth be told.  We rent the smallest house on this street, and I feel it is the perfect size for our family of four, plus room for guests.  That huge house we had before was certainly spacious, but it never felt like a home to me.  It was just too big.  I'm hoping we can make ourselves a lovely home in this house.  And the downsize will make it easier the next time we're looking for a home.  

For now, though, it's back to work for me.  The kitchen is calling. 

Monday, June 11, 2012

We made it

Waiting so patiently

Our flight was scheduled to bring us back to Pittsburgh tomorrow by 2pm.  Departure from Gulfport would be 9am, so we were up and ready to go by 7.  We marvelled at the girls' quick understanding of travel mornings, how they don't dawdle or fuss or delay at all and just get on with it quite happily.  We appreciated what great travellers they are.  We had no idea.

All day Saturday, it had rained, sometimes hard and sometimes not, but lots and lots of rain.  Sunday was the same, but the rain came in storm cells of seriously heavy downpours.  Dangerous storm cells, it turns out.  Our flight was first delayed until 10:25, then 11:25, then 12:23...and then cancelled.  I spent nearly an hour on the phone with customer service, and we were finally rebooked onto USAirways, getting into Pittsburgh at 9:30pm and to the apartment after 10pm.

Through it all, the girls were truly amazing.  We are blessed with such incredible children!  They didn't whine or fuss or meltdown (as most adults might have, let's be honest).  They did so beautifully well.  We felt so very proud (and in awe).  When boredom started setting in at around noon, I drew a face on the bottom of a paper bag and used the bag as a puppet, which Stephanie completely fell in love with straight off.  We brought the bag puppet with us.  When it was his turn, Markus decided the puppet spoke German, and we have found a golden new way to practice with the girls.  Neither could resist talking to it, but Stephanie especially was enraptured.  That wrinkled old lunch bag came alive for her.  She stroked it while she talked to it tenderly.  She dressed it in her cardigan when the air conditioning was a bit too much.  I'm pretty sure she talked to that puppet the entire flight from Charlotte to Pittsburgh (hours past her bedtime).  I tried to take a picture with my phone, but the inside of the plane was too dark to capture the moment.  Markus and I couldn't help but think how easily we'd been tempted to just go buy an iPad "so they'd have something to do", and how so very incredible are children's imaginations if you just let them run free instead.  Wow.

Ellie was also a champ, but there was no surprise there.  She is such a seasoned traveler.  Now that she reads, she cannot be stopped.  She had brought several chapter books with her, and she had those out.  One of her new favourite activities is copying her books out, word for word, into her journal.  She did that on one flight for over an hour.  But the best Ellie story from yesterday?  As we waited in Gulfport for our USAirways departure, she spent most of the time reading over the shoulder of a young guy's Sport Fishing magazine.  He let her do that for ages.  When he finally put the magazine down, she asked me to find out if she could have it.  He wasn't done with it, but he let her borrow if for the flight to Charlotte.  She read it avidly with an intent expression while he snoozed in the row behind us.  We were so tickled.  When we asked her what she liked about the magazine, she simply shrugged and said she liked sharks and it had sharks.  Well, ok then.

Friday, June 08, 2012

Look who can crochet!

We are in Ocean Springs, visiting Grandmary.  The girls managed to con Grandmary into crocheting them new baby doll purses, as it is so cruel and wrong that theirs are in the container and we haven't seen them in over two months.  Watching her work, Ellie decided she wanted to crochet too.  Mary taught her the chain stitch, and away she went!

Look who can crochet a chain!\

She is so proud!

Super long crochet chain

Now she's on a roll.  This morning, she set to work making the longest chain you can imagine a six year old child wanting to make.  The chain is a scarf, a clothesline, a giftwrapping ribbon and about four dozen other useful items all in one.  I'm not sure exactly what was going on in this picture here, but I think they were on safari, trying to capture something.

Crochet chain everywhere

Who knew crochet could be so good?