Friday, June 5, 2015

Recycling in India

video

That girl's got rhythm!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Brilliant Minds

I came across this hilarious interview yesterday on Facebook and thought it would be fun to put the kids in the spotlight and ask them a few questions yesterday. Over the course of the day I finally got them to answer all of them and they were tickled to be interviewed. Although at first they were a little wary to answer some of these honestly. So without prompting, except to tell them it wasn't a test, they fired off these answers. Clem was interviewed right before bed-time so she was getting a little goofy, but that makes it all the more hilarious. We had quite a laugh reading them all back as a family last night.



Peter, 5 years old 

1. What is something mom always says to you? yes
2. What makes mom happy? Drawing heart pictures
3. What makes mom sad? Not helping her
4. How does your mom make you laugh? Tickle me
5. What was your mom like as a child? Playing with people’s toys
6. How old is your mom? 42 (ahem, 35)
7. How tall is your mom? 5 inches
8. What is her favorite thing to do? Painting pictures at your desk
9. What does your mom do when you're not around? Work on your computer
10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for? For going to fancy parties
11. What is your mom really good at? painting
12. What is your mom not very good at? Building Legos
13. What does your mom do for a job? sleep
14. What is your mom's favorite food? tacos
15. What makes you proud of your mom? Playing “Jail Trap” (jail trap is where I capture them and throw them on my bed and pretend to lock them in the mosquito netting and they escape and I have to trap them again)
16. If your mom were a character, who would she be? Princess Leia
17. What do you and your mom do together? color
18. How are you and your mom the same? Our nails our the same sharpness
19. How are you and your mom different? I don’t wear earrings
20. How do you know your mom loves you? Because I always help her.
21. What does your mom like most about your dad? He married her
22. Where is your mom's favorite place to go? salons
23. How old was your Mom when you were born? 5


Sam | 7 years old

1. What is something mom always says to you? A joke
2. What makes mom happy? When I kiss and hug her
3. What makes mom sad? When Ma and Grandad and Nanny leave
4. What does your mom do to make you laugh? Funny jokes
5. What was your mom like as a child? A boy
6. How old is your mom? 23
7. How tall is your mom? 7 feet
8. What is her favorite thing to do? yoga
9. What does your mom do when you're not around? Nothing
10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for? Being a famous photographer
11. What is your mom really good at? Taking pictures
12. What is your mom not very good at? Driving in India
13. What does your mom do for a job? Take pictures
14. What is your mom's favorite food? Rava dosa
15. What makes you proud of your mom? Taking a million and one pictures
16. If your mom were a character, who would she be? Wonder woman
17. What do you and your mom do together? Photo walks
18. How are you and your mom the same? Heart
19. How are you and your mom different? Size
20. How do you know your mom loves you? She shows it
21. What does your mom like most about your dad? Your both in the same country
22. Where is your mom's favorite place to go? Ma and Grandad’s house
23. How old was your Mom when you were born? 19



Clementine | 3 years old

1. What is something mom always says to you? I love you
2. What makes mom happy? Making a heart
3. What makes mom sad? Not coloring hearts
4. How does your mom make you laugh? You do crazy hair for me
5. What was your mom like as a child? A girl
6. How old is your mom? 10
7. How tall is your mom? 100 meters up
8. What is her favorite thing to do? Play jail trap
9. What does your mom do when you're not around? Watch tv
10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for? Going to the Phoenix Mall
11. What is your mom really good at? Painting
12. What is your mom not very good at? singing
13. What does your mom do for a job? I don’t know
14. What is your mom's favorite food? Salad
15. What makes you proud of your mom? Making hearts
16. If your mom were a character, who would she be? An elephant
17. What do you and your mom do together? kissing
18. How are you and your mom the same? happy
19. How are you and your mom different? Elephants and watermelons
20. How do you know your mom loves you? Hugging and kissing when mom and dad are going out somewhere
21. What does your mom like most about your dad? Shaving his beard and marrying him
22. Where is your mom's favorite place to go? Phoenix Mall
23. How old was your Mom when you were born? 6

Sam's Turtle Presentation

video

Friday, May 29, 2015

The Cold, Hard Floor

I may have written about our adventures with getting Clementine to sleep in her big girl bed before, but I looked back through the past several months' blog entries and couldn't find any reference to it. Maybe I was just thinking of blogging on the topic because it has been such a journey. If this all sounds familiar, then I apologize in advance. The journey may be coming to end. Knock on wood.

Several months ago, Clementine secretly conscripted Ms. Rita into moving her crib and replacing it with her big girl bed. Elise may have played a role, too, but my understanding is this was more Clementine's and Ms. Rita's idea than anyone else's. If a parent was consulted, it was only after the switch had been made, and Clementine was already basking in the glow of her accomplishment. At that point, it would have been too heartless to undo it.

When we moved Sam and Peter into their big boy beds in Brazil (really just twin mattresses on the floor in their room), I had to threaten them within an inch of their life several nights in a row to keep them from hopping out of their beds 55 times before they finally fell asleep.

I couldn't figure out why I couldn't convince Clementine to stay in her big girl bed, until I realized that I would never be able to yell or threaten her the same way I did the boys.

Not to mention, Clementine has never fallen asleep in her own bed. At naps, it is a completely different story. She will even tell Elise when she is tired and ready to go to bed. At naps, she crawls right into her bed--no fuss--curls up with her blanket and quietly goes right to sleep.

I tried letting her cry herself to sleep a couple of nights. I think it's called the Ferber-method. We used it on the boys--Sam especially--with varying degrees of utter failure. I don't know how we ever got them to go to sleep in their own beds, but they do now. That's all that matters.

But Elise and I quickly realized we could not let Clementine cry herself to sleep. We quietly acquiesced, and Clementine soon resumed crawling into my spot in our bed and going to sleep there. Every night, I would extract her from my side of the bed, manuever her through the mosquito netting, and slip her into her crib where she would stay, soundly asleep, for the rest of the night.

When she moved to the big girl bed, the "soundy asleep for the rest of the night" part stopped, and we found Clementine sneaking back into our room once, twice, as many as three and four times a night, complaining, "I can't sleep."

Well, no $h!t you can't sleep. You're standing up in the middle of our room.

I'm a pushover, though. This is not news to anyone, least of all Elise, and every time Clementine would come into our room, whining that she couldn't sleep, I would walk her back to her room and put her back in her bed. I would tuck her back in, grab a couch cushion and lay down on the marble floor next to her bed until she fell back to sleep.

When Elise or I were especially exhausted, we would just pull Clementine into bed with us, but this usually ended up with Clem either sleeping on one of our heads or completely horizontal in the bed when everyone else in the bed was vertical.

Finally, enough was enough and we did threaten Clementine. If she didn't stay in her big girl bed at night, we were going to lock the door to her room. Elise came up with it. It seemed a little harsh to me, but I'm not going to judge, because it worked.

Some nights, she will still come in. Most nights, she doesn't. But she still doesn't fall asleep in her own bed. That is...she didn't fall asleep in her own bed...until last night.

After the boys fall asleep, Clementine will read books quietly in her bed. She has her own bedside light on a shelf above her head that she can read by. Elise and I will sit and talk in the TV room just outside the kids' room. After a few minutes, we will hear the thud of a book falling to the floor, and Clementine will slink out into the TV room. I will prop a pillow against my lap and she will curl up on the couch and go to sleep. I will spread her blanket over her, kiss her on the cheek and run my fingers through her hair.

Last night, a little while after the boys fell asleep, Elise got into bed to read. I sat on the couch, catching up on Facebook on my phone, waiting for Clementine to come out. Eventually, I heard the thud of the book she was reading as it slipped from her fingers and hit the floor, followed shortly by the click of her switching off her bedslide light.

I sat and waited.

But she never came out.

I tip-toed into her room. She was asleep. I pulled the mosquito net around her and, too, went to bed. I would be lying if I said I wasn't disappointed. I had become more used to her falling asleep beside me than I had realized. I don't doubt that will be the last night she puts her self to bed.

At least I hope it's not. For now. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

B-Wing

Ever since introducing them to Star Wars and having a screening of the original Star Wars (the kids call it "real life Star Wars" to differentiate it from the animated "Lego Star Wars" cartoons), Peter has been coveting a new Star Wars lego for some time now, a B-Wing star-fighter.

Peter is the star-fighter expert, and can with equal ease draw X-Wing, Y-Wing, B-Wing and probably several other letters of the alphabet-Wings

We (Peter, Sam, and I) also discovered that we have an enormous amount of lego bricks now from all the sets we have purchased. On the lego website, if your instructions get lost or damaged, you can re-print the instructions, which gave me the idea to--instead of buying new sets--to print the instructions to models we don't have and build them with the bricks we do already own.

Sam and Peter constructed Star Wars speeders in an afternoon using this technique, but the real test came when Peter and I tackled the B-Wing.

Believe it or not, the B-Wing lego in this photo below which a beaming and proud Peter is displaying was not bought from the Lego  Store for $150, but built from legos we already owned (on which we probably spent over $1,000 :)  and instructions printed off the internet.

It took several weeks to finish, and Peter did so today.

For me, it was a intertesting mechanical challenge to replicate all the moving pieces in the B-Wing using pieces we already owned, and some parts of the structure had to be re-engineered.

Anyway, Peter and I built 3/4 of the B-Wing together, and he brought it over the finish line all by himself perhaps rising to the biggest challenge of all...the "cockbin" (as he likes to call it)!




Friday, May 22, 2015

Getting Real


Ouch!

So far, this summer has been much cooler than last year thanks to a few unexpected May rains. April and May are usually the hottest months in Chennai. June rains bring cooler weather, and by August, the worst of the summer has passed.

But the early rains are gone, and the worst of the May heat descended upon us this week. We've lapsed into survival mode until the June and July rains do come. Fingers crossed they come soon.

This time last year, Elise and the kids were preparing to head back to Washington State to wait out the molten core of the summer in a land where summer is not characterized by a heat that makes one physically ill, but rather brings to mind days spent playing in sprinklers, eating watermelon, chasing fireflies and drinking cold beers on the back porch or front stoop.

This year, Elise and the kids are not heading back to the States, and we are all preparing--much as someone might prepare for an oncoming typhoon--to brave the worst of the heat. Lots of trips to the pool, ice creams, cool malls and movies.

Looks like Nanny headed home just in time!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Sneeze Rooster

I have not owned an alarm clock in seven years. 

Yet, I have never overslept, been late for a morning appointment or work, or missed an early morning run. 

I have three obvious reasons why that might be, named Sam, Peter, and Clementine. Peter has always, always, always been our earliest riser, and I can remember even now our time in Ballston clearly. Living in a small, two-bedroom corporate housing apartment, Peter would get up early--before the sun. He was tiny then. When we moved to Virginia, he was barely three months old, and we lived there until Peter was almost one-year old. He would wake, and I would go into his room and scoop him up out of his crib and usually carry him into the living room (though I also remember standing at the window in his room, too).

We had a view to what I think is the southwest, down Roosevelt Blvd., connecting Arlington to Falls Church. At the time, Falls Church was a foreign, far-off place, and we couldn't imagine that we would come to call it, too, home. At the time, it was a wooded place, shrouded in dark, shady trees, a place from which, that summer, dark storm clouds and thunder came. We had bad lightning storms that summer. 

I would hold Peter at the window in he and Sam's room, or at the sliding glass door in the living room, and we would both look out the window. We would stand like that for what seemed like hours and may very well have been hours, waiting for the sky to lighten, for the black to give way to indigo, wait for the sun to come up and the sky to turn blue. 

I whispered to him. We watched birds. I sang him songs in low voices, and we just stood like that every morning all summer and into the fall, waiting for mom and big brother to wake up. 

Peter still gets up first. 

Most days, I get up before him, quietly go downstairs to start the dishes left over from dinner the night before, make breakfast and Sam's school lunch. 

Some mornings, I emerge from our room and Peter is already on the couch in the TV room, waiting for me. Sometimes, I am not sure if he is awake or if he has fallen back to sleep on the couch. On those mornings, he will follow me downstairs, but whether he is already awake or still asleep, he will emerge in the kitchen only a short time after me, his frizzy hair sticking from the top of his hair like the feathers of a peacock's fanned tail. 

In Peter, we have our own rooster. But Peter doesn't crow or cock-a-doodle-do. As Nanny learned during her recent visit, our rooster sneezes. Once. Maybe twice. Every single morning. 

When Peter sneezes that's when you know he is awake, the day has started, and it is time to get up. One little ah-choo.