Tuesday, December 9, 2008

St. Nicholas Day Pictures

This year I neglected to take my traditional St. Nicholas day pictures on the 6th, so these are actually from the 7th (shh... it's a secret!) It was a bit of a challenge to get Kwamai to pose seriously, but on the bright side he certainly has lost all inhibition about showing his lack of front teeth!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Verified Today

Toothpaste gets crayon marks off walls.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

St. Francis Xavier Feast Day Party

Today we threw a little nearly-spontaneous party (planned only a couple days in advance) to celebrate today's feast day. Because St. Francis Xavier had been a missionary to Japan, it seemed a good reason to have a Japanese-themed party. So I invited two families from one of the homeschool lists I belong to. One family lives just in the next town, and the other is from Pittsburgh. I was getting a bit nervous as I started adding the numbers and realized I was looking at having 13 children over! But as it turned out, the nearby family had double booked themselves and could only stay to "meet and greet". But we had a nice time munching some tasty (and some new) foods. I did make a pizza just to be on the safe side for everyone as well! The family has three boys, ages 8, 6 and 3 whom Kwamai kept entertained with Legos and commando-fights and general boy mayhem. The two girls, ages 5 and 15 months, kept Felicity busy. The baby really just kept her mom busy, to tell the truth. But Felicity actually spoke to the mother several times, and this goes on record as being the first time she has ever spoken to an adult she has just met. (So many people will be jealous! She still doesn't talk to lots of adults she sees regularly!) When I first heard Felicity answer that she was 3 years old, I almost didn't believe it was her voice!

So, a good time was had by all meeting new friends. We might travel to Pittsburgh in a few weeks to see a living Nativity in their neighborhood.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Ear Mouses

Today we discovered the winter gear bag once again. Here is a picture of Felicity wearing her Winnie the Pooh "ear mouses."

I Love You, Mama

Last night, as I was carrying Felicity up to bed, she spontaneously told me "I love you, Mama." Although that wasn't the first time she told me that, I think it was the first time that she initiated the comment out of the clear blue.

Talk about the ultimate in Mama fuel. I thought to myself as she was going to sleep that I might just be able to cut down a forest with my bare hands for her if need be. Well, at least I would sure want to be able to.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Felicity's First Haircut

Ok, well it's not the first time a scissor has touched her hair, but it was the first time her hair was cut in a salon. I've been thinking she needed some assistance with her hair, more than just a snip here and there. I'm not sure that the stylist did much more than that, but at least it was a very positive experience for Felicity. She didn't even have the slightest upset let alone tear, and she even nodded in response to the stylist, whom she'd never met before, which is far more than she normally would do in conversation with an adult she doesn't know.

Everyone agreed that her hair is beautiful :)
The certificate of authentication!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

You Can Tell We Don't Get Out Much

Last night Erol and I went to a banquet on the occasion of him becoming a 4th degree member of the Knights of Columbus. (Those are the guys you see with the feathery hats, capes, swords and white gloves.) So our neighbor Meg came to babysit for Kwamai and Felicity.

On the way home I realized we'd been gone over three hours. And imagine our surprise when we got home! There was a sign on the door leading into the kitchen "Welcome to the Big Clean House!" We were greeted by two children in their Sunday finest, a house swept and tidied, a table set with sausages and snacks, and two cards, one that said Mama, and one that said Papa. (Meg gave significant help where the writing was involved!)

They wanted to surprise us and welcome us back home.

You can almost make out, in my card on the left, the picture Kwamai drew of me looking surprised, and his word "soprisd". (If you click on the pictures you can see a larger version.) There was also a picture Felicity drew for me on a separate page. She told me it said "I love Mama." Kwamai and Felicity each ate one of the sausages they made, and we all nibbled on the apples covered with cinnamon.

It was a very sweet welcoming home.

Saturday, November 1, 2008


Here is Kwamai's costume. Felicity kept changing her mind and her clothes too fast for me to catch a picture of her princess outfit. (She finally decided on her princess robe when she found it too cold to go outside with just her regular clothes on!) Kwamai's costume was easy, as the robe with orange cuffs came from Aunt Carrie. I added the mascara'ed eyebrows and widow's peak. Of course, Kwamai supplied his own scary look ;)

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Adventures in Learning

Kwamai is at what one would call a low-tide in learning right now. Which just means he is processing rather than doing a lot of taking in right now. According to the library books we get coded by level, he can read at a 2nd-4th grade level. What is more important to me is that it is not unusual for me to find him sitting down to read just for the fun of it. Tonight he was reading one of his comic books to Felicity (who was rather bored by it). He also reads books to Blacky sometimes. He also gets fascinated by science tidbits and experiments and has an interest in learning. This is what is so valuable to me. If I give him something too structured, he shuts right down on me. If he can initiate a project, he's loving it. So be it.

The other morning, right after Felicity opened her eyes and found mine, she said "Mama, what's ten plus ten? Twenty plus twenty? Forty plus forty?" "How many years until I'm 11?" She apparently dreams like this. This morning she was remembering one of the Croatian songs Erol plays in the car sometimes. Last night before bed we read Dick and Jane. We got through about half the book, and she read the title of every story, with help only sometimes. She is going to be a completely different sort of learner than Kwamai has been.

What they like to do together these days (besides fight, right before dinner nearly every day like clockwork) is play imaginitive games, like Indian alien scouts who build fair rides or cooking show hosts. They also still make up rhythmic songs and sing together, and of course hide from the bad guys, who are usually Erol and me. Oh, and chasing the poor cat through the house is another new pasttime. She's still skinny enough to hide under the hutch. That area is getting a pretty good dusting these days.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Another Blacky Picture

Testing out the new subscription service linked to this blog. You can enter your email address on the upper left sidebar and get email notifications of new posts.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

She's Growing on Him

Kwamai has taken some time to warm up to Blacky, despite being the main protagonist in her joining us in the first place. Touching her has been something he's worked up to, but the other day he graduated to being able to pick her up. And then, like the rest of us, he didn't want to put her down.

Kwamai, Recycled

Felicity enjoyed her "new" outfit, despite there being nary a pink thread. And we won't tell her if you won't that they were once boy clothes. I don't think Kwamai wore the sweater more than once, and he never did like the pants.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Introducing -- Blacky!!

We have a new kitten.

Monday morning, Kwamai was playing outside and suddenly came running in the house, anxious about being chased. I poked my head out the door to see the tiniest, cutest little black kitty trundling down the driveway. I realized Kwamai's angst had come from this kitty (he's still a bit phobic about all animals), but my heart melted! We had just had a discussion around the dinner table not a week before where Erol revealed that he actually sort of liked cats. With an excitement that surprised even me, I said "Well, let's get one, then!"

Back to Monday. The cat followed Kwamai right up onto the porch and in a short minute was in my lap. Kwamai and Felicity headed off to catechesis, and Blacky (whom I had already named) sat in the yard, waiting. She became the talk of the neighborhood, and all the kids came to see her and to take turns holding her, and to come up with all sorts of reasons why Kwamai would not be able to keep her (fueled I think by jealousy, and the excitement...)

Erol came home from work, and I explained that there was this cat, she was cute, Kwamai and Felicity already loved her, and I'd heard how cats could even live outside. Erol said not much in reply (which is sort of his way, I guess!) Five minutes later, I opened the door, and -- imagine that -- in walked Blacky. Hmm. I guess she was an indoor cat now!

Long story short, we got all of her supplies the next day, got her thoroughly de-fleaed, learned she knew exactly what to do with a litter box, and that she was a bit tuckered out. She's much more playful now, loves to cuddle, and Erol even fell asleep with her nestled in the crook of his arm tonight.

We might need to get her a bright fuscia collar, though. When she sit on our black couch, you can hardly see her. By the types of teeth she has, I'm saying she's at least 8 weeks old, but she's almost small enough to hold in one hand.

"Blacky" is the most unoriginal name, but it just sprung from my lips when I first saw her. Felicity calls her "Red and Blue." Kwamai calls her "Black-Black," but also though Cesar would be a good name.

And if I thought it weren't enough that I occasionally get Kwamai and Felicity's names confused, once now when Felicity woke up in the middle of the night I called her "Cleo," the name of my cat when I was growing up.

The interesting thing to me is that the arrival of Blacky has finally made very evident to me the developmental difference between Kwamai and Felicity. She is so verbal, and so many of her interests over lap with Kwamai (although vice-versa does not always prove true) that I sometimes forget that she is only 3. But with Blacky, even though Kwamai still gets panicy when she runs to him, he understands her as a fragile creature. Felicity sees Blacky as a fun, living toy to play with. Blacky is very patient about being carried in gift bags and in general being picked up and carried everywhere (and she has not scratched anyone yet). But I need to repeatedly remind her to be gentle, to let her eat, etc. And we discovered tonight that Blacky is not too fond of Felicity's harmonica playing. She ran and hid under the china hutch!
Stay tuned for further adventures!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Social Circles

Felicity has a new neighborhood friend. Her name is Maggie; she's 4 and she lives right across the street. They are happily playing together right now. Kwamai is off to a birthday party tonight for his friend who just turned 9. It will be a bowling party. Kwamai picked out a few small gifts for him and bought them with his own money. He also did not get all itchy to buy one of the same for himself, as he did just last summer, the last time we were birthday gift shopping. He is becoming more mature by the minute.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

The Gang's All Here

Here is a photo of Erol's whole extended family, taken at my mother-in-law's recent birthday party. Felicity the blond looks a bit out of place, doesn't she?

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Harvest Time

We dug up our whole crop of carrots today, pictured above. The whopper of the group was the two incher on top. This is close to the size they were supposed to be. You see the tiny pea-sized carrot to its left, which is a bit more typical of the size.

Not bad for our first year of gardening.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Yes, Kwamai Actually Said...

We are on round two of exercises that Dr. Sobek has prescribed for Kwamai's vision therapy. Fortunately, we are passed the gruelling gross motor exercises like sit ups, and into repetitive left/right body crossover things. But part of the exercise is to pratice reading with a little frame window, so as to focus on only two to three words at a time. Doing this, Kwamai can read fluently, and he's even getting better at reading with expression.

But what surprised me was that tonight, after the physical exercises, I announced that it was time for the reading exercise. Kwamai said (drum roll, please)

"This is the best part!"

Too cool. :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Um, What?

I have often found communication with Kwamai not making any sense. We just had one such exchange, so I thought I'd capture it:

Me: Why don't you help me make dinner?
Kwam: I can't. It's too hard, and besides, we don't know where it lives.

Possible translation: he was worried about a new dog roaming through the neighborhood, which is why he came in from playing, and he probably heard me say something like "why don't you take the dog back home?"

I'll just take it as proof that he has an iron-clad focus on what is going on in his head. It just doesn't involve hearing other people right now.

Felicity's Lexical Pursuits

Some time ago, Felicity received the Dick and Jane reader as a gift. From time to time we pick that book to read through before bed. And recently, I've noticed that Felicity is actually reading some of the words. We also have those magnetic poetry words on our fridge, and she can spot the word "baby," which is one she could identify from Dick and Jane. A few weeks ago we were going through some of the beginning readers friends had given us (who had retired from homeschooling first-graders). She asked if we could read them, and as I slowly read and pointed out words, she said a few of the words ahead of me. She now says she can read all the big words in Dick and Jane (meaning the huge-sized print on the title pages), and will read some of the repetitive words in the "stories". She often asks me to read words on signs or boxes, and some of her favorite games are "what starts with A" or listing rhyming words. Oh, and her other favorite game is to "match" things, so we will find piles of Bob the Builder objects or Thomas the train objects laying in piles around the house. (See, it isn't really just clothes and junk laying around; it's a taxonomist at work!)

Monday, September 15, 2008

"Shoulda Had a Camera" Moment

Felicity picked up a scarf I had in the attic, which I had draped (with a dose of wishful thinking) over a basket of photos, to keep dust off them. It was one of those sheer scarves that adorned the head of many a woman 50 years ago when they just had their hair done and had to go out on a windy day.

I showed her how I could tie it under her chin. She went to look at herself in the mirror, smiled, and without missing a beat, said "I look like an egg!"

And she did! Such a laugh I had....

Friday, September 12, 2008


In the course of trying to describe for my esteemed blog readers the type of talent by which I find myself surrounded, I have, tonight, learned a new term. Beatboxing. Kwamai perhaps lead the way, but Felicity is currently the most prolific.

I have no footage of them yet, but check this out to get some small idea of what I mean. They don't do much of the "electronic" sound (thankfully!)

I have two questions racing each other for first to be asked: Where did my kids pick this up? and How has this odd childish pastime become a world-wide competitive craze?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Instruction Manuals

Note in the picture that Felicity's book has a big "3" on it. These are child development books, specific to 3- and 7-year-olds. (I actually got the 4-year-old one as well since Felicity always strikes me as being just somewhere between her age and Kwamai's.)

This scene occurred shortly after we had gotten these books home from the library. They each grabbed "their" book, presumably to read up on what they should be up to for their respective ages. I wish I had taken a movie instead of a picture, because it was such a hilarious moment. The chairs represent a school bus (Felicity's invention) and they were actually arguing over whether they were going to school or staying at home. Take a guess which child thought which! They each had their "instruction manual" and were off to learn everything they needed to know.

For the record, the books are not all that helpful, to them or to me!

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Karate Monstor

Kwamai did his month of karate lessons. He has decided it wasn't really his cup of tea. I've known he isn't one easily adaptable to formal instruction, but even so I was a little surprised that he described the karate teacher as "bossy". I watched him closely during his first lesson, and he was clearly having a good time trying his hardest to show his skill. The teacher noticed, as well, mentioning something about "oh, you've done this before I can tell." But when Kwamai realized that he wasn't really free to chat with the other kids or form relationships during the lessons he no longer really got the point of why they were all together, if just to be "bossed around" by the man in the black belt, without making any tangible progress.

But, all's well that ends well. Here is Kwamai dressing up a box in his uniform (which came free with the first month's tuition, thankfully!)

He's decided he wants to pursue swimming again as he did last fall.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tooth on the Loose

On Monday, Kwamai lost his very first tooth. He came in from playing and found his tooth much looser than it had been, and before long, out it came. It's the bottom left, the very first of his teeth to have come in (when he was a full year old).

I've read that maturity, learning-readiness, and tooth-losing all seem to occur together. This is proving very true for our Kwam.

The Harvest Begins

Last week we harvested our very first carrot. It is not a bad specimen, considering it grew in almost solid clay. We split it four ways and we all agreed it was one of the most delicious carrots any of us had ever tasted.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Kwamai's New Glasses

Here is Kwamai wearing his new focusing glasses. His optometrist (who specializes in developmental issues) discovered that while Kwamai has no vision problems (in the 20/20 sense) he has some significant focusing issues. It was a very interesting appointment as I watched the doctor test him in all sorts of different ways, and to see how much easier it was for him to do some thing with a trial pair of glasses on. So, now he has his own. He is excited about them in theory, but getting used to something new that feels funny on his face has not been the easiest thing.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Just Call me "Mom"

Felicity does!

About a week ago, Felicity suddenly started calling me "Mom." I have always been Mama, and sometimes Mommy. But now I have suddenly become just "Mom."

Erol is "Pop" now, too, instead of Papa.

And yes, Kwamai is now sometimes "Kwam". Of course, the rest of us call him that too, so perhaps she was just working toward symmetry. She does like things to match.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Play Day

Kwamai and Felicity spent the better portion of the day today playing with the two neighbor girls. They were busy arranging the many, many Little Tykes toys we've had lurking under our back porch, in a gated off undercroft now known as "the ground hog home." (I'll let you guess why!) They arranged all the toys and furniture "just so" to create a combination beauty and pizza parlor. Then, after they arranged it all, they spent a couple of hours playing with it, followed by an obligatory water fight. I had invited the girls over for pizza (which I made just for the youngers, to eat outside, together -- do you hear clandestine planning for a "night in" for Erol & me?). After pizza and some more playing, Felicity settled back into the house and Kwamai remained off playing. He always mourns not having "enough time" to play with the girls. So, hopefully today gave him a necessary shot in the arm.

I should have pictures, but I don't. Maybe tomorrow.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Firefighters to the Rescue!

Kwamai and Felicity were deeply involved in a long game of firefighter last night. Here is Felicity the firefighter. (This picture persuaded me to trim her bangs in the bathtub last night!) She has rescued one of the cows from the burning barn, and is now chewing on him.

Here is Kwamai inside the firetruck.

Here is Felicity in the driver's seat of the truck, with Papa the firefighter in the side car. Note she is properly dressed in her fire boots and fire underwear.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Karate Dog Versus Super Duckie

It is all voluntary, and no superheros were injured in the making of this picture.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Felicity Plays Independently

... almost all day! No, you don't get it; she hardly ever does that. She's gotten the nickname "velcro girl"! I actually sought her out several times today and found her happily playing (dress up, dolls, little people, with Kwamai and his friend, in the sandbox).

I wonder, though, how much it has to do with Kwamai's friend having been over here since about 1:30. She adores Jonathan. Maybe his presence transports her somewhere beyond constantly being at my side!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Felicity's current fascination is with Bill Nye the Science Guy. We have his Water Cycle (evaporation, condensation, precipitation, collection) video from the library right now, and Felicity has watched it about a dozen times. Kwamai likes it too. For that matter, I like them too! We will pick up another from the library shortly (although we have to special order them).

Kwamai picked up one of Felicity's books last night (a basic story book), and with help on only a few words, read the whole thing to her. His reading proficiency has shot up this year to be sure!


Felicity has been very interested in the mushrooms which have been growing in abundance in our back yard. She's harvested three crops in the last few days.

Here is the first crop.

And here is today's crop, artfully arranged in a vase.

I wonder if they are edible?

Rejoicing at the Water Fountain

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Bike Takes a Hike

Well, the bike riding joys were short lived. Last weekend Kwamai left the bike at the end of the block when he scraped his toe on the sidewalk. He didn't remember to go fetch it for nearly 48 hours. And of course, it was gone.


Well, they say you never forget how to ride. He may have to test that saying for awhile, though.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Kwamai Rides a Bike

Completely on his own, Kwamai mastered bike riding today. I told him he accomplished this feat a full 17 years younger than I did! He was a bit shaking due to being filmed, but you can see him happily riding off into the sunset. And this on a bike once used by our 17 year old neighbor, which was just given to Kwamai three days ago.

Monday, June 9, 2008


In January we did one of those making-a-mark-on-the-basement-wall to show how tall Kwamai and Felicity were. Kwamai saw the marks today, and had me compare his height. It seems he's grown nearly an inch since January. Felicity on the other hand seems to have gotten shorter.

Um... or something.

What we're reading these days

Doctor Doolittle's Caravan, by Hugh Lofting. This is the fourth out of ten Hugh Lofting books in the Doctor Doolittle series, when read in order of internal chronology at least. Kwamai absolutely loves these books, and generally he follows every detail very well. It may also help that we often read before bedtime lately, so he's keen on having me read and read and read without stopping.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Flip Flops

is the name of the latest craze!

We bought Kwamai a pair while at Shopko (buying a new air mattress). Felicity didn't seem too interested, and they had none in pink or in her size. But we all quickly discovered that she was just as interested, and even declared green her new favorite color. At one point a significant fight ensued, which finally resolved with Felicity consenting to return Kwamai's shoes, and a pledge from Papa to buy her her own. I told those adults assembled, "and you think brokering peace in the Middle East is hard work!"

And yes, if you look closely you will noticed Felicity has hers on the opposite feet. The amazing thing is she can point out left and right correctly and will say "I have left on left and right on right" or "left on right and right on left".

Planting Flowers

Kwamai and Felicity each planted a flower in Grandma's garden area.

This is the "aerial" view from the porch upstairs.

Kwamai posing with his finished project.

Felicity works at digging a hole.

Kwamai waters the "Felicity" plant.

The happy gardeners, job completed.

Kwamai's New Kite

Kwamai loves the kite he received from Tama Bonnie. We took it to the field across from Grandma's condo to try it out.

Kwamai had it up and flying in no time, and even figured out how to do some stunts with it.

Felicity gave it a go, too. Not bad for a relatively windless day!

Sleeping Beauties

This is the inevitable, but unenviable, reality of long car trips: kids sleep and parents stay awake. Of course, upon arriving at the destination, there is a strong inclination the opposite way on the part of both parties. Therein lies the rub!

Saturday, May 24, 2008

And Speaking of Weddings

A couple weeks ago, Felicity asked to see my wedding dress, so I hauled it out of its resting place. Here are the pictures and video I took:

It might be hard to make out all the conversation, but at one point Felicity asks me whether you need to be big before getting married, and asks how one gets married. Then she decides to play hide and seek in the skirt, but finally decides a game of "tidy up" would be more fun. (What a girl!)