Monday, March 28, 2011

Seventy two months, plus or minus

Dear Devil,

On this exact day six years ago, I was at our house in Houston, supremely grateful to be out of the hospital and to have my mother around, and more then a little gobsmacked at the job we'd taken on. I was counting your age in hour and days. Then, for the longest time, whenever anyone asked me how old you were, the unit of time was weeks. It eventually shifted to months, and now it's finally reached years.

You are six years old. The cliche is that time flies, and that's exactly how I feel, even though I remember events all along the course of those six years. Somehow it's gone by so quickly that I look at you and can't figure out where you came from or how we got here. We recently had to go to the US Embassy to renew your passport, and one of the things we had to bring was a photo montage to show how you've grown from a total standard looking baby to the gorgeous creature you are now. While I was putting it together, I realized that I could see the person you are now in those little baby and toddler photos, but I never would have extrapolated forward from those points to now.

This past year has been an incredible one for your brain - in the last few months something has clicked and all of a sudden you are voraciously reading everything you can get your hands on. You told me a few days ago that reading was your favorite thing ever, and I have to agree with you on that one babe - it is amazing. When you and Boo don't want to go to sleep right away, she climbs up on the top bunk with you and you read her stories by the light of a doll someone gave us years ago that has a necklace that lights up. Not the best thing for your eyes no doubt, but I have fond memories of doing the same under my covers with a flashlight for years, so you come by it honestly. And very often in the morning we'll find the two of you snuggled up together cosily, having fallen asleep together the night before.

You and the SRD are huge buddies, and you take your responsibilities as dog trainer very seriously. After an initial attempt to take both of you along to puppy class, your sister stayed home with me last week and you and Daddy had a much better time of it. You came home all excited to show me how to make him lie down, and you love taking him for walks on the Common. And I think all the attention from your friends and other people at school about the dog has made you much more confident - last week Daddy and I came to assembly to hear your class talk about their day at the Golden Hind and Tate Modern. You had to stand up and recite a line about the trip, and you did it with nary a hesitation or stutter - a far cry from last year's end-of-term school play. I'm not sure whether it was knowing the audience, practicing more, or just feeling more sure of yourself, but boy was I proud of you.

I love you sweet pea, even more then ever, and I can't wait to see what the next year brings for you.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Woe is Boo

Crossposted at the other blog

Dear Boo,

Welcome to the life of the middle child. It's now almost 3 weeks after your birthday, and I'm finally getting around to your letter. Poor neglected thing...

It's been quite a year for you. You started off your fourth year by exhibiting a strong tendency towards incandescent and uncontrollable meltdowns, usually without warning. That phase persisted for a while, but things finally took a turn for the better. You've really blossomed over the past few months, and even more so since the wee dog arrived, interestingly enough. About a week after he came home, we had a conference with your teacher, who said "Getting a dog has been so wonderful for her!" We were kind of surprised - how much of a difference could a week make? But apparently my plot to irritate the crap out of all the other parents in the school* by bringing the puppy to pick up and drop off had resulted in a nursery full of kids who only want to talk about puppies. It seems that this trend has given you a whole burst of confidence - you're engaging the other kids, initiating games, joining in with the others. All good things, particularly for someone who has always been happiest playing by herself. It's good to see you branching out kiddo.

On our way to school on your birthday, I asked you if you being four was different from being three. You thought about it for a minute, and said seriously "Oh yes Mumma, I'm much older now." You sure are growing up sweetpea, and I can't imagine how you're going to be grown up enough to start school in the fall. You can't be that old, can you?


I love you Sunny Sunny. Welcome to the world of four.


* Wee dog comes to school several days a week, and I've had more then one parent indicate that this is making life difficult for them at home. Sorry! But only a little bit...

Friday, March 18, 2011

Small c, big D

There's been a lot of wobbly teeth around our place in the last few weeks. The first of Devil's top front teeth came out last Saturday, and she spent most of the next few days wiggling the other one as hard as she could. By Tuesday, she bore a striking resemblance to a certain Emma Thompson character,


and a Halloween Jack O'Lantern.


Seeing her teeth wobble around makes my stomach wobble, so she took great glee in showing me her dangling tooth every time she could trick me in to looking at her mouth. Wretched child.

By Wednesday, the tooth was held in by sheer willpower and some serious good luck. I bet her a pound it would be out by bedtime.

I lost. It came out yesterday at school, and she's now got a gap that could accomodate a double wide. So the little twerp ended up with double the money from one tooth. Oh well. I guess it all evens out: she lost Saturday's victim in the car, so the tooth fairy didn't come to visit that night.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Sun, snow and attempted murder

Sooooo...about that ski trip, right?

We headed off from London on a Friday, flying in to Geneva. Nana and Grandpa arrived the next morning, and the six of us, and our multitude of baggage (3 ski bags, 5 suitcases, 2 children) piled on to a bus to head to Meribel. Three hours and one rendition of "Jungle Book 2", we arrived. After a somewhat haphazard ride on the shuttle bus, we found our flat and unloaded. It was a gorgeous sunny day, and the older participants in this adventure were thrilled to see all the white stuff on the ground. Sadly, most of that ground was a lot higher up on the mountain - they hadn't gotten any snow in more then a month when we arrived, but the trails seemed to be pretty well covered still.

The next morning, we found the ski school for the girls and, armed with a bag of Gummi Bears and strict instructions to take care of her little sister, Devil managed to make the transition without too much drama. She was very reluctant to go, completely unconvinced that this was going to be any fun at all, and her Dad had the brilliant parenting moment of framing it as a scenario where she needed to take care of Boo. Being a nurturing soul, this was just the ticket. There were some tears and wailing, but nothing compared to some of the other ski school kindergarden participants waiting to get in. And by day 3, when I asked her if she was nervous about going to ski lessons, she said "Moooom, I've been twice already..." as if my question was completely out of left field and an insult to her capabilities.

So our week went something like this: get up, roust everyone into their snow gear (by Wednesday the girls were happily clomping around in their ski boots while the rest of us struggled to get ourselves together), rush off to the shuttle and head to the base lodge. Drop girls off, climb on lift and head upwards. Frantic skiing for 2.5 hours, and then rush back to get girls for lunch. Pizza, omelettes, more fries then you can shake a stick at, then Nana and the girls would head off, while the rest of us went back up the hill. The snow was ok - better in Val Thorens then Courcheval (higher and lower respectively) - the whole skiing experience was very different then our previous experience. Overall, I would say the terrain was less challenging. That might have largely been a function of the lack of snow - most of the off piste stuff wasn't available (although Himself did try out some likely looking drops, mostly to his regret and our entertainment) - but everything that was open was groomed within an inch of its life. Lovely corn snow, some feeble en-snowment ("faible enneigement" being the French equivalent of "thin cover").

The other really spectacular difference was the fashion. There we were, four New Englanders, and I was the flashiest in my bright orange jacket.

But some of the Euro-outfits were unbelievable. Like this one.

These guys were just silly - an alligator, Pancho Villa, Superman, the Tick, Batman and a sumo wrestler hit the slopes for the day.

But this lady was the crowning glory. She even had a matching hat. I spotted her while standing in line for the gondola, and almost fell off the ramp trying to get a good shot.

She was spectacular. Devil tried to get in on the Euro look, but I'm not so sure it plays as well on an almost-6-year-old Texan.

The last couple of days, we took advantage of the lovely sunny weather and the girls' growing enthusiasm for this sliding around on snow stuff to take them out on the real slopes. They were pretty thrilled, although turning and stopping weren't really high up in their list of priorities. Which gave their mother heart palpitations and their grandfather giggles at the irony*. But I think we got a good start with the snow obsession!

Daddy as rope tow

And now for the attempted murder by cholesterol poisoning. On our first day, my lovely husband and my dad decided that it made sense to have lunch at the restaurant at the top of one of the lifts. What we didn't consider was the lack of competition at that particular location was going to lead to major price issues. But, we rationalized, we're on vacation, so what the hell. I ordered a hamburger, and when it arrived I was blown away. Picture this: a large burger with bacon, sauteed onions and cheese on top, sandwiched between two fried potatoe cakes and topped with yet more bacon. And a lovely green salad on the side. It was death on a plate. Somehow I managed to gobble choke it down, but out of concern for my coronary arteries, I stayed away from the Savoy burgers for the rest of the week.

An early morning bus on Saturday took us back to Geneva in time to hang about at the airport for three hours before our flight. And then we were back in London, half-term finished, and the Small Ridiculous Dog's arrival imminent! More on that later.

* I distinctly remember scaring the bejeezus out of him at least once during the learn-to-ski years. At least once. But no more then three or four times, right Dad?