Thursday, January 27, 2011

Harry, Revisited

So followers of my old blog (before its untimely death from file corruption last year) may remember that when Owen was a kindergartener he and I spent several long months reading through all the Harry Potter novels. He has since become an avid reader with a vivid imagination, a fact that pleases me no end.

Well, now that Edie is in kindergarten, I decided to do the same thing with her— so most every evening we plop down on my king-sized bed, the three of us — Owen, Edie and I — to read a chapter and discuss what has been happening so far. You'd think Owen wouldn't want to sit through them again, but he's having as good a time listening to them again as I am having reading them, and it's interesting to see him listening and absorbing the information in a new way — being two whole years older than his first go-round.

And miss Edie, well... she seems to be enjoying them quite as much as Owen did, though I am very careful to review the previous night's chapter before beginning the next, asking her questions to make sure she's been paying attention.

The best part about it, though, is that Edie — who has always been fantastic at "imaginative play" when playing on her own — has begun to introduce new characters in her play. The other day I heard her speaking with quite a good version of a British accent (since, when I read the books, I try to read all the dialogue in character, accents, voices and all), saying things like, "Oh, hello, Neville. We were just talking about Transfiguration." I'm supremely happy that she's quite enjoying the books, too.

And, like before, the deal I made with her was that she could watch the movies after having read the books. She's seen bits and pieces of most of the movies before, on DVD, when Owen has been watching them, but has never had such a keen interest in the as she does now. We plan to watch the second movie this weekend. And the best part is that Terry — who has never read the books (blasphemy!) and only seen the first movie (heresy!) — has agreed to watch the movies with us as we go along, so that by the time the final installment is released in theaters this summer, he can be caught up and actually see it with us.

I know that I am blessed to have such smart kids — and when I get excellent feedback from both their teachers about how well-spoken and well-read they both are for their ages, I can't help but feel a huge burst of pride that I have had something to do with that.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Monthly Newsletter — Month 13

pretty baby, originally uploaded by JenSig.

Dear Isla,

Today you are 13 months old, and just as delightful as ever.

I find myself often sitting back and taking stock of this still relatively new family unit of ours, this party of five. It is a vibrant and boisterous bunch, yes, and so full of love and happiness I feel like my heart can hardly bear the weight of it.

I watch the three of you — you, Owen and Edie — and marvel at the changes in you all, and get such a kick out of watching you reach each milestone, remembering when Owen and Edie did it first.

You are just as easygoing and laid-back as Owen and Edie were — perhaps even more so, if that's possible — and yet you are also definitely your own person and have your own opinion about things. You are at times imperious and demanding in that egocentric way unique to toddlers, pointing at things you want and grunting out, "Dis? Dis," then getting angry when you don't get it... but you are also sweet and loving, freely giving out kisses and hugs (but only when it suits YOU to do so — you rarely will do anything on command).

Christmas was fun this year with you, though you were funny with the presents — I thought sure you'd get a big kick out of ripping off the paper, but you daintily picked at an edge of the paper until someone (usually Edie or Owen) came along to help rip it off for you. It was a little bit of sensory overload for you, I think, but you handled the experience well. YOu also really loved the new playhouse I made (see previous post), and crawled in and out of the doorway opening countless times while it was set up.

I was talking recently to another parent of three, and she was saying that she really felt the third child has a unique perspective on the world around her, because she is around other children almost all the time — those brothers and sisters are built-in playmates! And I would have to say that's true for you... Owen and Edie certainly love playing with you and making you laugh and cuddling with you — almost as much as YOU love it, I think.

As for you... you are very TALL — taller, even, than Owen and Edie were at the same age, and neck and neck with Edie in weight at age one. But you are lagging in the mobility department: you still don't walk! You have taken, at most, three or four wobbly steps, but you infinitely prefer crawling or, funny as it is, walking on your knees (which is adorable and hilarious at the same time). I also think you have fewer words than Owen and Edie did (though honestly, it's difficult to remember these things)... you are just the tiniest bit cautious, and that's okay. It might be the one thing you inherited from me, since it's clear you don't LOOK like me. I was a cautious child, too.

And, like Owen and Edie, you LOVE your blankie (which, true to form in our household, is called your "mimmy") — so much so that you point and grunt for me to get it for you, and once you are holding it, you lean into it and cuddle close, burying your face into the satin and sighing with happy delight.

I don't know what I did to deserve you — all of you — I love you so much I can hardly stand to think of NOT having you here... my little bonus baby.

Love, Mama

Friday, January 7, 2011

Welcome to Casa 158

(Click the picture above to watch the slideshow. You can even hit the little corner button with the four arrows to make it fit your computer screen.)

So I decided back in November that I wanted to make a playhouse out of felt with a pvc pipe frame for the kids for Christmas. I started with a mountain of felt, worked diligently on it any chance I had when the kids weren't around (namely when they were at school or in the evenings after they were in bed), and voila! The result is Casa 158. (the numbers are the ages of my three kids.)

I'll be honest and admit that a lot of the adorable ideas here were culled from other places on the internet. The idea for the corn and the tree with the apples and the entire garden on the back wall came from here. (In fact, this was where my initial inspiration came from.) But I decided to make mine to fit a PVC pipe frame (instead of a kitchen table, as hers was), so mine has a pitched roof. Also, I decided to finish off the interior of mine as well, like the one here, so we have a fireplace with vases where a little homemaker can put some flowers culled from the front window box. Also. the frame above the fireplace is open on one side, so the photo can be replaced with another or kids' artwork or whatever floats their boat.

I made each piece separate (sides and roof) and they tie onto the PVC Pipe — however, after seeing the kids play in it for a while, I MAY go ahead and stitch the roof to the sides. I had thought it would be easier to assemble/disassemble this way, but now I'm not totally convinced, since it comes untied and skews off slightly. So I may be doing some modifications to it in the near future, but overall I am very pleased with the result. And I even had enough time to decorate the house for Christmas, with little felt Christmas light bulbs in a strand around the eaves, and a wreath for the front door.

This was definitely a labor of love, but the kids loved it so much when they woke up Christmas morning and discovered this delightful playhouse in the living room. In fact, Edie spent the entire day inside it, pulling in her blankie and a pillow and relaxing in there with her Nintendo DS and some snacks. She even watched a movie on TV from inside its walls, watching through the window!