It’s been a joy to watch Gloria’s burgeoning reading skills develop this year. Tonight she read to me the five steps below. I didn’t have to assist her in any of the words, which was surprising as I didn’t know she could read “droid unfolds” or “activate.”
On our outing to Seattle Center today, Gloria noticed the signs for Seattle Children’s Theater and asked if she could see Stellaluna. I told her that we had tickets to see it two days before my birthday, which led to the following conversation:
GLORIA: What kind of dessert do you want for your birthday daddy? Do you want cupcakes or ice cream or cake or cookies or donuts?
KENNY: I hadn’t really thought about it. Those all sound pretty good.
GLORIA: But which one is your favorite. Cake? Ice cream?
KENNY: You know, I do really like ice cream cake.
GLORIA: Well daddy, you can’t have ice cream cake. It has too much sugar. After the frosting and the ice cream there’s too much sugar. You should just have the ice cream, I know how much you love ice cream.
If Gloria remembered the D’Ambrosio gelato cake we ordered for my 37th birthday maybe she’d change her mind.
On Thursday morning, while we were having Challah French Toast for breakfast, we had a very instructional conversation. Gloria had asked for some strawberry preserves to accompany her French toast.
LAUREN: “Here you go, strawberry jelly.”
GLORIA: “Mommy, why did you call it jelly and not jam?”
LAUREN: “When I was a kid we always called it jelly”
GLORIA: “But they’re not the same thing”
KENNY: “What’s the difference again? I can’t remember…”
GLORIA: “I know, for jam they don’t have to remove the seeds”
Once Gloria reminded us of this, I remembered that the fine folks at Alm Hill Gardens had communicated this tidbit last year at their farmer’s market stand. Those kids really are sponges.
Usually the one moment of predictable downtime on weekends is around 2pm, the (short) overlapping stretch of Micah and Ezra’s afternoon naps. But in honor of Father’s Day, Micah decided that this Sunday was going to be different from all other Sundays.
We haven’t been getting enough sleep lately, so to help me get some rest Lauren graciously took Gloria out this afternoon right after I put Micah in bed for his nap (and about 20 minutes before Ezra was due for his). Shortly after Lauren and Gloria left, Micah came upstairs to inform me that he didn’t feel like taking a nap. This from the kid who had turned to me during lunch today and said “Daddy, I’m done. Let’s go downstairs and have a nap.”
This had never happened before, so I brought him back downstairs, put him in bed for a second time, and went upstairs to get Ezzy ready for his nap. As I was about to put Ezra in his crib I heard Micah walk up the stairs, open the door, and announce “the bunny’s awake!” Now I knew full well that the bunny wouldn’t wake up until 2:30PM, so I just gave him this look of disbelief and said “really?”
Without skipping a beat Micah said “yes daddy, I woke him up!” I finished putting Ezzy to bed and sure enough when I went down to Micah’s room he had figured out the switch to change the bunny from asleep to awake. While I didn’t get a rest, at least Micah was good natured this afternoon. Perhaps he was running a bit of a sleep surplus. Hopefully we aren’t set up for a more challenging week (behaviorally) as a result.
He’s my best friend….and my daddy too!
Hope she still likes me this much when she’s 13…
Spring is a very festive time for Jewish holidays. In the lead up to Purim, there are a number of themed dress up days. Last Friday was “dress up as your favorite character” day. As might be expected, Gloria chose to be Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz. Micah then decided that he wanted to be the Wicked Witch of the West. This was at 7:30AM, about a half hour before we had to go to school. Lauren and I had a quick brainstorm at the breakfast table, and whisked Micah into some of Gloria’s old clothes plus a black T-shirt of mine. For the final touch, Lauren put together a quick witch hat out of construction paper. He was a hit at school drop off time.
Yesterday, for the actual day of Purim, the kids were supposed to dress as Purim characters. Gloria chose Queen Esther so that she could wear the crown she made at school. Micah was originally going to be King Ahasuerus, but then over dinner decided he wanted to be Haman instead. Fortunately we had some advance warning this time and I followed these helpful instructions to make him a three pointed hat. Again we got out the black T-shirt, my grey shoe laces for a belt, and with a moustache flourish our little Haman was ready to go. Micah was really excited to be the “bad guy”, running around yelling “I’m the bad guy! I’m the bad guy!” At drop off Micah’s teacher commented that Micah was making his way through the list of super villains this week.
This morning culminated with the annual Purim carnival. The gym is converted into a festival of bouncy slides, face painting, games, and balloon artists. And the kids get to play all day in their pajamas.
As part of her curriculum, Gloria spends a few hours a week in a program called Chalav u’Dvash. One of the teaching tools in Chalav u’Dvash is Bentzi, a turtle puppet ‘visiting’ the children from Israel to teach them Hebrew. Bentzi only speaks Hebrew, and keeps all sorts of fun things in his backpack shell.
Every week one of the students gets to take Bentzi home for the weekend, take care of him, and then write about their experience in a class notebook. This past weekend was Gloria’s turn. We took Bentzi with us on all of the weekend activities, keeping a photo journal of our experiences. Gloria had a great time!
Back in the old days, when we only had one kid, it was easy enough to maintain many of the spontaneous behaviors of our prior DINK lifestyle. For example, we could decide what to have for dinner based on what we were in the mood for at the moment, and even pop into the grocery store on a whim if we were missing an ingredient. Because Gloria was a consistently good sleeper with an early bedtime, we had our evenings to ourselves and could use the time however we liked. It was relatively easy for one of us to disappear in the evening for a yoga class or to meet up with a friend. We even had significant free time to devote to this blog, as evidenced by our careful documentation of Gloria’s first two years. Looking back at that time, I now believe that it doesn’t take much in the way of planning or lifestyle adjustment to manage one child — you may need to adapt your schedule, but you can get by without being terribly organized.
It’s when you have two kids that things get chaotic (and now we have three – yikes!) Kenny and I, having spent enough time managing software projects, zealously believe that the way to counter chaos is with systems. Until I reflected on it today, I didn’t even realize quite how many systems we had devised for managing our household. And given that we still feel like things are out of control much of the time, we likely need more! Here are a few useful systems we have in place:
In late June we sent out a save the date for Gloria’s fourth birthday party. Gloria has been obsessed with the Wizard of Oz since December 2014 and we wanted to capitalize on her interest before it passed.
To give ourselves some buffer after Ezra’s due date, we scheduled the party for this past Sunday, a week after Gloria’s actual birthday (and, as it turned out, also a week after Ezzy’s bris). Gloria put on her “Dorothy dress” and her “ruby slippers” and we had an invitation photo shoot during Micah’s nap.
We were originally going to have the party at a nearby park, leveraging its jungle gyms and water features for party entertainment. Unfortunately, the forecast called for rain and we had to update the party location to our house (there’s no place like home!). Which meant in addition to preparing treats and decorations we also had to come up with some party games.
With the big kids in bed at 6:45PM, it was time to get serious on our party prep. It’s amazing what you can do when you forgo sleep for a night (which our newborn had been giving us lots of practice with over the past two weeks). Here are the steps we followed to put together a Wizard of Oz themed party for a four year old.
Step 1: Prepare some games
We researched some game ideas online. After sifting through a number of ideas, we decided to prepare two games. The first was Pin the Heart on the Tin Man. I zoomed in on the head and shoulders of a picture from the movie, and created the rest of the tin man from a roll of aluminum foil and a nature stick Gloria picked up outside a few days ago.
The second game was Melt the Witch. Lauren painted a wicked witch on a poster board using washable tempura paint. We’d fill water balloons the next day for the kids to melt her.
Step 2: Thematic treats
Fortunately our kids all have summer birthdays so we have no shortage of fruit available. We put together a rainbow colored fruit plate with strawberries, oranges, pineapple, kiwis, blueberries, and purple grapes.
Some of the few thematic items we had ordered in advance was cupcake liners and rings. As part of her late night trip to QFC, Lauren also found a pack of rainbow candy on sale, so we used those to top half the cupcakes (freeing up some of the rings for our aforementioned scrolls).
We made some white cake batter and lemon buttercream, and Lauren used the cupcakes as a warm up for the main cake-decorating event.
Step 3: Stay up late decorating a thematic cake
Each of the past two years we made Gloria a Hello Kitty cake, this year we were liberated from that labor. Instead (because we are sometimes crazy) we decided to recreate the Emerald City. We started with this image from the movie and proceeded to make an array of colored buttercreams. We progressed from the sky with a few clouds, to the yellow brick road, the Emerald City itself, the fields, and finally the poppies. We finished the cake just before 1AM, then we had to clean the kitchen.
Step 4: Wake up, have coffee, decorate the house
Fortunately we had done a little bit of advance planning and purchased a themed balloon set that included a particularly impressive rainbow balloon. Uncle Shawnie and Amanda used sidewalk chalk to turn our front porch into a yellow brick road. Yellow arrows led guests down the garden steps to the backyard (assuming it didn’t start pouring).
Step 5: Welcome guests, play the games
Finally, party time. We let the kids mingle and snack for a half hour, and then started the party games. First the kids lined up for Pin the Heart on the Tin Man.
At this point it had started drizzling outside, which was the perfect atmosphere for Melt the Witch. The water balloons were a little challenging for our preschool crowd, so we upgraded to cups of water (from a bucket of course).
Step 6: Eat the cake!
We concluded as all good birthday parties should, with a feast of sugary treats on Emerald plates. Micah was especially into the cupcakes.