Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Obsession Still Going Strong

In case there was any question about it, let me say that YES, the girls' obsession with Sound of Music is still going strong. Kate still loves Phantom, and they got into My Fair Lady for the couple weeks we had the Netflix disk, but so far, there is no replacing "Usic" (Music) or "Ria"  (Maria). (Claire has always started at the end of words—first, she would just say the last syllable; now, it's the last two syllables. And if a word only has two syllables, the first letter is optional, apparently.)

We have a lovely book with the text of "My Favorite Things" and beautiful illustrations. A college roommate actually gave it to me years ago, but it has been more well-loved (that's parenting code for "destroyed") in the past few weeks than in the decade preceding. The song has been added to our repertoire of goodnight songs, too, though it took me a while to catch on to Claire's hysterical demands for "Oses!" It wasn't until she said "Oses. . .  Ittens . . ." that I finally got it. ("Raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens," get it?)

Our favorite page is "Girls in white dresses with blue satin sashes," mainly because of two girls in that illustration that I commented (once—but as many parents know, once is all it takes) looked like Kate and Claire. So now, every time we get to that page, Claire points and says "ats me!" and "ats Kate!"

We went to a showing of the "Frozen" sing-a-long movie last weekend, and Claire shouted at the screen the first five times Anna appeared, "ats me! ats me!" because (of course) she is the happy-go-lucky younger sister, and Kate is the, shall we say, emotionally complex older sister. The girls had already seen "Frozen" twice—once with each set of grandparents—and I was glad to finally see it with them, even if it is a Disney princess movie. I loved that it was a sister-love story, and I'm glad for them to go nuts for a movie with that theme.

But I'm also glad that a classic musical is still first in their hearts.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Majoring on Minors (Holidays, that is)

You often hear advice on parenting or career or just life saying "don't major on the minors," that is, keep your priorities right and don't focus too much on little things that don't matter. As I indulged my desire to decorate and craft and plan for yet another minor holiday, I realized that I love to major on minors—when it comes to fun "Hallmark" holidays, special events like the Olympics, or just a random Sunday afternoon. Making a big deal of little holidays is a ripe opportunity for family fun and making memories, and those are majors in our house.
Kate got really into decorating for Valentine's Day (maybe because I let her stay up to do it), so we are all decked out, from the dining room table where we'll enjoy a "fancy" family dinner tonight, to the wreath and garland on the mantle, to the balloon "chandelier" hanging from the ceiling fan.

Kate thrilled my mama heart a couple weeks ago when she told Matt, "I don't need my coat—winter is over. It's Valentine's now!" The fact that she is telling the seasons from our holiday decor amused me to death. True—we took down all the blue and silver stuff from her Winter Wonderland birthday party and put up hearts and red ribbon—the seasons must have changed!
I like to write something motivating on the white board in the kitchen, so this month, it was a Dixie Chicks lyric that I consider a pretty good motto for life: "if there's ever an answer, it's more love." It applies in any situation—what's the most loving response?

As the big V-day has drawn closer, we've done some artwork, donned our pink and heart-laden clothes. . .
. . . and of course gotten our valentines ready for the class parties!

Since the girls got lots of new crayons for Christmas, I decided it was time to do a purge of the old ones and make use of them by making melted crayon hearts again this year. (We did this for Kate's class two years ago, but I think only two of the kids are the same, and they probably wouldn't remember anyway!)

Last night, we bagged them up with some little juju hearts and crayon-shaped tags that say "You color my world, Valentine!"
Kate wrote her name and the names of her friends while Claire scribbled on hers and I wrote the names.

We also made a little valentine for BGC's parents, who we saw this morning at her appointment to get fitted for hearing aids. (Her hearing loss is severe, so these should really help her get talking!)

This morning, I did Kate's hair with this fun heart flip-do I saw on Pinterest, and we had heart-shaped pancakes.

Looking forward to our fun family dinner tonight, followed by a bottle of vino and season 2 of "House of Cards" for Matt and I after bedtime!

I love the quote, "Enjoy the little things, for one day you'll look back and realize they were the big things." I hope our "major" celebrations for "minor" holidays fall into that category for the girls, and that when they look back on their childhoods, they remember all the fun and love we shared—not just in the big things like Christmas and birthday and vacations, but in the little things as well.

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Russia with Love

About a year and a half ago, we kicked off the London 2012 summer games with a fun little party for the opening ceremonies. (See my posts about it here and here.) We ate bangers and mash, had a little English tea party, made Olympic torches out of tissue paper, and did some Olympic rings art. We were especially excited for the summer Olympics because Kate had started taking gymnastics and we loved watching the gymnastics competitions.

This time around, we're a little excited to watch figure skating and maybe some of the other events, but the major point of interest for me—and the only thing I really did to enhance our watching of the opening ceremonies—was reminiscing about my foreign study to Russia during college. I had loved Russian history ever since seeing movies about Catherine the Great and Nicholas II when I was eleven or so, and dreamed of going on Furman's study abroad trip to Central Europe and Russia. I spent January and February of 2001 traveling around Russia and several former Soviet bloc countries. It was fascinating and a dream come true. I remember all the beautiful churches and ornate palaces, art and culture, as well as the teeny-tiny snow flakes (because it was so cold and dry that the snow didn't clump as it fell) and the fact that we didn't see the sun for at least two-and-a-half weeks!

With the Olympics now in Sochi, I get excited whenever NBC shows stock footage and flyover film of Moscow and St. Petersburg, and I took the opportunity during last night's opening ceremony broadcast to share my Russian treasures with Kate. They're on display in the playroom, but I doubt she's ever really noticed, and certainly didn't connect the items on that particular shelf with a certain country on the globe.

So, I showed Kate my books and pictures, icons, and matryoshkas (nesting dolls). We took a couple of the dolls apart, which I hadn't done in years, and even I was shocked to recall how tiny these little handpainted pieces go!

For a sense of scale, take a look at the smallest five in one of them, compared to a normal housekey! And yet even on that tiny one, laying in the bowl of its next-biggest mate, has facial features and other detail.
I enjoyed the celebration of Russian culture during the opening ceremony, and the retellings of Russian history (selective and idealized as they were, of course). So many new tasks, hobbies, and passions fill my life as an adult now, it was so fun to be carried back to the ten or more years of my life when Russia was among my most fervent interests.

And now Kate will know that, while I don't know what we'd do without all that hidden toy storage in our playroom, the main reason Daddy and I had those built-in shelves added was to display our most precious pictures, books, and travel memorabilia!
Welcome to our playroom, says Kate. And let the games begin!

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Rite of Passage

When the kids are playing together and Claire suddenly starts crying, it's a safe assumption some sibling-scuffling has occurred.

"Claire, what happened?" we ask.

"Kate!" she replies.

Yes, Kate happened. That's a good explanation for a lot of things.

Sometimes she'll add, "Kate . . . there," pointing to the spot on her body that was pinched or shoved. (Though we generally discourage eye-for-an-eye retaliation, I was kind of amused to learn upon picking the kids up at grandparents last week that the bruise under Kate's eye was due to Claire having had enough of Kate's domination!) 

Kate happened again this weekend, and Claire tells the story so well.

"Claire, did you get a haircut?" asked her teacher.

"Kate . . . scissors . . . there," she replied.

Yes, we had a new rite of passage on Sunday morning, when I came downstairs after getting myself ready for church. Since it's a workday for Matt, he's out the door while the rest of us are still in our pajamas, and I end up getting all four of us girls ready by myself (and blowing into church at the very last minute because I'm vainly trying to soak up every minute of weekendishness, sipping coffee and watching the Today show and playing with the kids). Thus, the kiddos were dressed in their Sunday best and unattended while I got myself cleaned up.

I came downstairs, and when I bent over to get BGC off her play mat, I noticed some clumps of long(ish--longer than BGC's, at least) hair on the floor.

In about ten seconds, an entire episode of preschool-CSI went through my head. The hair is golden-brown, so it must be Claire's...either child could have done it...wait, does Claire have the scissor-skills yet to successfully cut through hair? . . . probably not . . . which child is more likely to have indulged such a naughty impulse?

"Kate?!" I accused. Her silence indicated guilt.
"Claire, did Kate cut your hair?"

"Kate!" she said.

"Where?" I asked.

Kate had to point it out, and I still didn't really see it. Claire's hair is so shaggy that I really couldn't even tell where it had been cut. As I dropped the kids off in the church nursery, I noticed a small section in the back, but had trouble finding it again.

To my credit, I was pretty calm. Mainly because hair-cutting is such a rite of passage that so many kids commit, and since the damage wasn't severe, I kept my cool and told her that was not a good thing to do, and that if she ever did that again, there would be consequences.

Even when the girls' hair has needed just a slight trim, I have resisted trying to cut it myself, largely because I didn't want to set any sort of precedent that cutting hair outside of a hair salon was acceptable. And yet, there was no warding off this rite of passage. It comes for us all. I'm just glad no one had to get an emergency hair cut to repair the damage.


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