Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Christmas!!

Happy Christmas, one and all!

We survived the flight. Louise was a wonderful helper - she carried her booster seat, and pushed Claire in the stroller (to Claire's terror). Louise had a window seat. She loudly proclaimed "I see England!!!" after we began our descent.

It is beautiful and snowy here, and we're having a marvelous time. The girls have seen Father Christmas twice - once at Gulliver's Kingdom, and again on a train ("like Thomas!!"). Both times, he gave them early Christmas presents. The first time, he kindly gave Louise some magic dust to sprinkle outside Nana & Granddad and Pop & Granny's houses on Christmas Eve, so Rudolph will find her more easily. After the train ride, we saw the Pinxton Puppets perform Little Red Riding Hood. Louise has been talking about the puppet show ever since, and recreating it for parents, sisters, and any passerby. We've seen lots of wonderful people - our old church family in Arlesey, our friends the Foreys, and uncle Andy, auntie Leanne, and cousin Josh.

Charlotte & Claire continue to expand their vocabularies. Claire has finally learnt to say "yes" (though she still says "mommy" ("mine") to refer to either parent).

We've also ridden the bus and had a ball at TWO indoor play areas. We will post lots of photos later. Meanwhile...we hope everyone enjoys a safe holiday, full of the magic and miracle of Christmas!

xxx 000

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Busy home days

"Now we're busy at home days, Mummy," Louise exclaimed yesterday. "We made cookies, AND we're delivering cookies, AND we're going to the library, AND we're having quiet time! Before home days weren't busy. And tomorrow we're buying wrapping paper AND wrapping presents AND delivering more cookies!" Louise was a great cook's helper - she made flourless peanut butter cookies (for our neighbours with Celiac disease), double chocolate cookies, and cutout sugar cookies with pink icing.

Christmas is almost here, and Louise is very excited. We received Christmas cards addressed to each child. Charlotte & Claire weren't interested in opening envelopes, but Louise kindly opened all the cards - and distributed the cards according to the names printed on the covers. (We know she can't read, but we think it's pretty exciting that she can recognize the names).

On Thursday, after we ate at the fine dining establishment of Louise's choice (Bojangles), we went to the North Pole, via the Santa Train. Louise helped make food for reindeer (glitter & oats), sat very patiently whilst a kind elf painted a picture of Santa on her face, and enjoyed the hot chocolate. She told Santa that she wanted a "dog that walks," and he promised to see what he could do. Charlotte was delighted by the lights, but Claire did not approve of the cold (it was around 0 C).
Louise and her preschool class have been learning about castles for the past few weeks. On Friday, they held a medieval-style feast at their castle, complete with princesses, jesters, and a puppet show featuring knights and dragons. (Louise was on the programme to be the dragon, but she had a fit of shyness and chose to stay on Mummy's lap).

In other news, Louise had a dental checkup this month. She was a model patient - she sat in the chair and followed all of the dentist's instructions. She is also wonderfully loving towards her sisters. One evening, Charlotte was screaming during the car ride home. "Go down that road, Mummy!" Louise cried. "It's quicker, and Charlotte needs to get home!"

Charlotte & Claire are starting to spend more time playing with each other. The downside of this: they also spend more time fighting with each other!
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Sunday, December 5, 2010

It's beginning to look a lot like...

December in NC kicked off with snow, to Louise's delight. "It's Christmas!" she declared. Then, after reflection, "it can't be Christmas yet. We're not in England."

A friend's church was having a 30 ft tree/computer light show/Christmas pageant extravaganza this afternoon, and she'd offered to meet us for the event & pay her teenage son to babysit our three kids and two of hers. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to make it, and Louise hit her head on a pew and split her ear open, so it wasn't quite the start of the holidays that we expected it to be. But we got a picture of the tree (without lights or people popping out of it)...

Louise is learning many things at preschool - some wonderful, some not so wonderful. "I'm shaking my booty!" she declared one day. Mummy asked if she knew what that meant. "It means shaking my butt," she explained with a tinge of exasperation to her rather dense mother.


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Sunday, November 28, 2010

Thankful

We are thankful that we have all recovered from the stomach flu, after its dramatic and messy appearance a week ago. We are also thankful to have wonderful neighbours who allowed us to share Thanksgiving dinner with their family.

Claire, Charlotte, Louise, & Mummy had a great time at the Museum of Life & Science on Friday. The butterfly house was teeming with life, and of course there were lots of "ammuls" to see (after "no", "animals" (monosyllable) is Claire's favorite word). (Charlotte likes saying "no bite!" with an angelic smile, after she has finished biting a family member).

Louise & Mummy made Christmas cookies, and we all enjoyed decorating the house for Christmas today. (Louise later removed many of the low-hanging ornaments so she could serve imaginary "sugar coffee" to herself and her sisters in festive, round "sippy cups.")




Peek-a-boo:


But it is hard work:

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cold teeth

Charlotte & Claire had a babysitter for the first time this weekend. Ms. Meg, Louise's former teacher, spent a couple of hours with all three girls whilst Mummy & Daddy consulted with Santa. Not only did the kids have a great time making edible play doh, but by the end of the two hours, they could do the sign for the phrase "thank you."

On Sunday, Mummy cut Charlotte's hair. It isn't terribly even, but it does allow her to see, and she now looks like a blonde version of the Sixpence None the Richer lead singer.



Louise's imagination & logic continue to delight us. "I'm a fish," she told Daddy this evening. "I'm an alligator!" he countered. "I'm a polar bear!!" exclaimed the former fish. "You can't bite me, or your teeth will get cold."

Monday, November 1, 2010

Halloween

We all had fun celebrating Halloween. In the morning, we met some of Mummy's TriangleMommy friends at a park. Claire (in a dragon costume) enjoyed following Charlotte around, saying "moo." "What do you say, Claire?" "Roar!"
"What do you say, Charlotte?" we asked. "Daddy," she replied.

When it was time to trick-or-treat, Louise was delighted to get to go a'begging with Ella, a three year-old who lives a few doors down the street. One of Louise's favourite books is Ella Takes the Cake, so she agreed with Daddy that the new story should be Ella Takes the Candy.

But perhaps all this pretending has gone far enough. "Charlotte & Claire should be boys, Mummy," said Louise at bedtime. "What are we going to do with all these girls?!"

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Our commute just got shorter...

Mummy & Daddy no longer have to commute to work. Louise announced last night that Charlotte's room is GSK (keycard entry only, of course - "you don't have a badge, Mummy"). She then ran next door to drop off her babies at daycare. Next, we went to Mummy & Daddy's room ("Duke University School of Medicine, where babies go.") Finally, through to Mummy & Daddy's bathroom ("UNC! This is where I work. We put markers on our hair.")

Monday, October 11, 2010

Wild animals of North America

We went to the zoo today ("the North Carolina zoo") with Meg, Louise's former preschool teacher. Louise's favourite animal is still the polar bear, even though it was sleeping when we stopped by its house. The polar bear on the carousel was a close second. Claire preferred pictures of animals to the real things. Charlotte liked the tortoise, the playground, and the ice cream.

Here are a few pictures - of a toy safari jeep, loaded with animals, and a leaf-shaped slide:




Saturday, October 9, 2010

Amaizing

We visited a Corn Maze today. There were animals (a donkey, four goats, and lots of chickens), a playground, and, of course, the maze. The kids, of course, were most impressed with the animals. ("Look! The goat climbed up on its house - and it's sticking its head through the roof!")

Louise's imagination has taken off. Mummy was impressed and amused when, a few weeks ago, Louise picked out a chew toy for her "baby", the stuffed lion named Ikea, and told us about how Ikea's feelings are hurt when people think she's a boy. Today, she invented a game involving a long sheet of paper, a Welcome mat, two upside-down buckets, crawling, and hopping, and she tried to teach it to Charlotte. She also put five toothbrushes, a cup, and a small quantity of water and soap in a large plastic bear (which formerly contained enough animal crackers to feed a small North Korean village for a year). She described in great detail the needs and preferences of her "pet fish." They are all girls ("and them all female"). They eat quite a wide range of things. Music "makes them crazy" - they dance and bump into each other. The whole family was invited to pet the fish, and Charlotte was instructed to kiss fish Savannah before going to bed.

Louise's curiosity is also blossoming. She is eager to ask "what does X mean?"


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Sunday, October 3, 2010

Thomas!!!

Louise & her friend Katie met Thomas this weekend at the NC transportation museum. ("He's REAL!"). Louise informed me that Thomas was "really happy" to meet Katie & her, because they're all "really good friends." It was a magical setup. There was a Thomas bouncy castle ("it's a bouncy castle, but it looks like Thomas! And it has a slide!") And there was a man with a white beard and a red cap and an apron that read "Santa". He was making lemonade in the POW-MIA concession tent.

Whilst Louise & Mummy were meeting Thomas, the music factory & daddy hung out with Ms. Meg, Louise's former preschool teacher. Charlotte broke character and held her arms out, insisting that Meg hold her. Charlotte clearly can't read yet - Meg was wearing a University of Michigan top.

Charlotte's favourite new game is to put a hand down the front of her diaper, grin, and say "Out!" ("Out" is of course the word that Mummy shouts at Charlotte whenever she sees the hand in the diaper).



Thursday, September 30, 2010

Not so well children checkups

We finally have rain in Hillsborough. As Louise watched rain fill our street, she declared, "I want to go ride my bike!" She got thoroughly soaked. She laughed with delight as she wedged her training wheels in the mud in such a way that when she peddled, her bike did not move and water spurted up the rear tyre. After she fell, it was gently suggested that it might be a good idea to go inside and have a bath. "No, Mummy - I just need to wipe my legs on your trousers." It's nice to have a purpose.

Charlotte & Claire had their 18 month check-ups yesterday. Claire is still 3 lbs heavier than her sister. Both girls are developmentally normal, but we learned that they both have double ear infections. The paediatrician also gave some advice about teaching Charlotte to soothe herself to sleep. We're optimistic that within 3 weeks, both toddlers will be weaned and go to sleep quickly and quietly.

Their vitals:
Charlotte - 23 lbs, 15 oz
33 in. tall
48.5 cm head circumference

Claire - 27 lbs, 1 oz
33.5 in tall
50 cm head circumference

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Grandparentpalooza 2

We've had another great weekend, with not one...not two...but THREE grandparents all at once. Our neighbourhood had a block party - there was food from the grill, lots of kids to play with, and even a flat-screen tv showing a SEC (American) football game. Pops, Claire, Louise, & Mummy visited the Museum of Life & Science, where they saw bears, danced in the sound room, and generally experienced both Life and Science. But most exciting of all: Louise got a new bike! Although Louise was great on her balance bike, preschool peer pressure beat Daddy and Mommy's opposition to training wheels.

Sadly, Nana and Granddad went home to Derby today - we all will miss them, particularly Mummy, who enjoyed having someone else do all the cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, and ironing.

Neighbour Peter arranged for a mountain of mulch to be delivered to the tree island between our houses - Louise loves it and is sad that Granddad, Daddy, and Peter have been so effective at shrinking it:

Friday, September 24, 2010

Happy Birthday, Mummy!

Louise donned a party frock yesterday morning, danced downstairs, sang "Happy Birthday" to Mummy, and gave her a big birthday kiss. She was very happy to proclaim to everyone she saw that it was Mummy's birthday. "Mummy is 33 today!" she told her preschool classmates.

Louise's day got even better yesterday afternoon - Daddy was the Mystery Reader! Louise giggled with delight...for nearly a minute.

After dinner, there was chocolate cake...Mummy had a perfect birthday. Sadly, today she felt every one of her thirty-seven years. A congested Charlotte decided at 3:30am that horizontal sleeping conditions were unacceptable. She was happy to sleep in Mummy's arms or a carseat in a moving vehicle driven by Daddy, but the crib met with very loud opposition.


From the mouths of babes...Louise & Mummy were discussing the upcoming neighbourhood grill party. Louise was very pleased that hot dogs were on the menu, but she added "and chicken nuggets too, right?"
No, we'll have chicken - chicken nuggets are a preschool food.
"But we don't have chicken nuggets at daycare!"
You have dinosaur nuggets, though - what meat goes into dinosaur nuggets? Dinosaur meat?
"They don't have meat. They are just nuggets. They just taste like nuggets."


And our self-aware daughter proclaimed earlier this week: "I'm a Louise, and I do what I want."

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Slip slidin' away

BJ & Katie came over this morning. Louise was beyond excited. At 7am, she did not want to eat breakfast; she simply wanted to stand at the end of the driveway, looking expectantly up the road. Three hours later, when all the kids were playing outside, toddler Luke spied us through his window next door and demanded to be allowed to join the fun. We all went to the "big kids" playground at the end of the street. Charlotte & Claire enjoy pretending that they can't read the sign that says that the slide is for kids 5 and older!











































We also have some more pictures of yesterday's adventures at the museum, courtesy of David "Granddad" Griffiths. Daddy explained to the family that the creature in black is a "Tie Fighter." Mummy is confused - if he fights against ties, he should be called a Greenpeace activist; if he fights whilst wearing a tie, he should be called a lawyer.


Saturday, September 11, 2010

Born to be wild

Louise thought that Huggy Bear needed to meet the Museum of Life & Science bears last weekend; she also showed Huggy to the poison dart frogs (she's keen on cross-species education).

Today, we went to the museum in the morning, and this afternoon Louise, Nana, Granddad, and Daddy went to the neighbourhood "End of Summer" party - there was barbecue and a bouncy castle. Really, life can't get any better than this.


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Grandparents!!

Nana & Granddad have come to visit for a month; we are enjoying their visit very much.

Charlotte has had a language explosion, in spoken and signed words, since their arrival. She can say "baby", "please", "down", "boom", and (sure to be a favorite in the coming days & years) "no". She and Claire seem to communicate with each other. Yesterday, Claire had a cup and Charlotte wanted it. Mummy told Charlotte to say "please;" to Mummy's surprise, Charlotte did so. Claire smiled and took a few steps towards Charlotte, cup held in outstretched arms...and then changed her mind with a grin and scooted away. Claire has learned the sign for "baby", but she seems uninterested in communicating beyond babbles, grunts, and gestures. (She's skipping the toddler stage and going directly to teenagerhood, we suppose). Louise is doing her best to help teach her sisters. Whilst sitting next to Claire in the car, Louise noticed that her baby sister was pointing at things. "Trees!" Louise explained helpfully. "More trees! Stop sign. Trees!" (Louise became bored fairly quickly, unsurprisingly).

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Katie knows best...

Today was a special treat - we all went to see Katie's new house, meet her great uncle, see her dogs, and play in her neighbourhood's fancy pool (complete with waterslide!). Before the visit, Louise told us, "I'll do what Katie says, because Katie knows what is best for me."

Louise and Charlotte loved playing in the pool. Charlotte particularly enjoyed testing Mummy's cardiovascular health by plunging face-first into the pool and making no effort to resurface (or showing any discernible discomfort when hauled back out of the water). Claire loved seeing the dogs, but in a chill, low-key Claire sort of way that the dogs responded well to. No idea where she gets that from! Foolishly, Mummy & Daddy left the camera in the car - you'll have to imagine the fun that was had by all.

This afternoon, while Daddy was troubleshooting computer difficulties with the webcamera, Louise mentioned that something wasn't " 'ficient." "Efficient or sufficient?" asked Mummy. Louise looked exasperated at such a silly question. "F-ficient, Mommy. Starts with an 'F'!"


Monday, August 16, 2010

Trippin' toddlers

The music factory loves to dance. C&C have the same dance style, and each one will smile if she sees her sister doing their signature "grin & bop up and down" move. They also enjoy giving each other "kisses" (rubbing heads together).

Claire is becoming rather adventurous with food. She tried Mummy's garlic hummus yesterday, and she'll eat a meal full of "proper" food if she thinks that's all that's on offer. Charlotte, on the other hand, disdains poor slobs who have to feed themselves. Princess Charlotte will turn up her nose at anything that isn't on a spoon which is held by someone else. (Unless it's bread, animal crackers, or rocks, building materials, or anything else that can be found on the road).

Charlotte does not lag behind in all areas, however. She has more recognizable words and is frighteningly adept at climbing. Both girls are obsessed with bikes & strollers.


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Saturday, August 14, 2010

BFF

Louise loves her friend Katie. She was expressing her desire for Katie to come over for a sleepover. "Katie would stay in my room," she insisted. Would you sleep? Daddy asked. "No. I just talk, not sleep." She is solicitous of Katie's needs. "When we go to the Museum with Katie, if she want to be alone, I will stay with her so she won't get lonely."

To all three girls' delight, Katie came over today, along with her former day-care companion, Renee. When Louise & Katie posed for pictures, Louise helpfully said "cheese!" twice - once for each girl. As Louise was helping Katie get settled into the car for the ride home, she asked gently, "What you want, Katie?" Katie, showing self-awareness far beyond her years, replied: "I want a lot of things."

Louise shows a fair bit of awareness of the world around her. This morning, Mummy commented that a song on the radio was "old". Louise asked sweetly, "You are old, Mommy, right?"