Sunday, October 19, 2014

Now We Are Six

Dear Jude,

You've been six for almost two months now, but better late than never, right?  Where to begin....  At this age, you are a READER.  Over the summer, you finished the library's summer reading challenge in July, and then lost your scorecard and had to start again from the beginning.  Unfortunately, you only got prizes for the first time through, but that didn't seem to dissuade you.  You were pretty excited to finish the second round and finally pick up your t-shirt from the library.

Every night before bed, you read to yourself until you get sleepy, using a little reading light attached to your bed.  For a while you would read the same books over and over again (mostly Star Wars or Clone Wars) but now you're mostly working on chapter books.  Some of your favorites so far are the Beverly Cleary books, like Ramona the Pest and Henry Huggins, and the Zita the Spacegirl series (thanks, EMM!).  You also love to read aloud to others.  Earlier this week, your school had a late start, so you went to preschool with your sister and read Silly Sally out loud to the class.  Everyone loved that!

This fall, you have been part of a soccer team.  This is your first team sports experience, and I think it's good for you.  You love to play defense, but you also have a strong kick.  Your signature move is kicking the ball over the heads of the other kids and into the goal on the other end of the field.  You've also been playing soccer at lunchtime with your friends.  Swimming continues to be one of your favorite activities; we swam almost every day this past summer.

You are very tall and strong for your age.  We took you in to see Dr. Jack last week, and you are 51 inches tall, which is the 99.8th percentile for your age.  You grew three inches in the past year and gained four pounds.  Dr. Jack said that you are about average height (50th percentile) for an eight-year old.  You're wearing size 7-8 clothes and size 4 shoes!  Your BMI has dropped down to the 60th percentile after hovering in the 90s for a while.  I guess you are growing up rather than out!

You have many interests, like Legos, Star Wars, Angry Birds, My Little Pony, and Minecraft.  Many of these things are associated with iPad time, which we've had to limit because you would spend hours and hours playing iPad games if we let you.  I have a policy that I only download free apps on my iPad, so you've learned to start every request with "Mom, it's free...".  On that note, we have started giving you and Ada a weekly allowance.  You are definitely a saver and put most of your money in the bank, although you have a weakness for spending a dollar here and there buying resource packs for your iPad games.  You always do a cost/benefit analysis, though.  If you could earn as much just by playing the game within a short period of time, you'll decide it's not worth the money, but if it would take you days or weeks, you'll often try to convince us to let you buy the gold or jewels or whatever.

You and your sister Ada love to play together, and she is finally old enough to play most of the games that you like.  You also fight a lot, but I think I'd be more worried if you didn't fight!  After years of letting you win every game and every race, Ada is starting to resist the "little sister" role.  It's good for her, but hard for you because you are very competitive.  You love to play "school" with Ada where you are the teacher and she is the kindergartner.  You practice writing, math, have story time, and have snack time.  When asked what you want to be when you grow up, your answer is always the same: "A teacher and a Dad".

When you were younger, we often struggled with your behavior and our reactions to it.  At this age, you seem so mature and reasonable.  You do like to get a little too close to other people at times, invading their personal space.  This is mostly a problem for Ada, who is really bothered by it.  You know exactly how to push her buttons, and you find it hard to stop yourself at times (ok, a lot of the time).  Her usual reaction to your button-pushing is to scream, so we hear a lot of screaming in our house these days.  You also have a LOT of energy and need to have some hard physical activity each day or you start to bounce off the walls.  Soccer, swimming, and work around the house help with this.

We love you so much. and we can't wait to see how you grow and change in the years ahead.  We are so proud of our first-grader.


Monday, September 29, 2014


We got to the Jones house yesterday, and Lucia said "Magdalena, put on that same dress so you can match with Ada!" And she did. And they were so happy.

Sunday, September 7, 2014


Jude's fall activity is soccer, and this weekend his team had their first game.

It was a hot day, so there were lots of water breaks.

This group of three was a team for the day. 

I heard Jude and Luke talking at one point. "I love playing soccer games. I wish we could keep playing until it gets dark."  Sounds like a good start to the season!

Friday, September 5, 2014

Minecraft party

Jude wanted a Minecraft party for his sixth birthday.  I was in charge of the cake.  You can't see it very well, but there are three layers - white cake with white frosting for "stone", brownies for "dirt", and cake with green icing for "grass".

Dad was in charge of the activities.  After some soccer and lunch, the kids played a live-action Minecraft game.

First they searched the woods for gold and jewels, then they traded their riches for materials to build a shelter for their team mascot.

Team Iron Man dug out a very protective shelter with booby traps.

Team Darth Vader used lots of bubble wrap and tape.
They also put Barbie on guard duty.

Team Obi-wan used an open floor plan with lots of architectural interest.

A Creeper pinata rounded out the fun.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Back To Reality

Jude's first day of school.  My first day back at work after sabbatical.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014


Ada and I looked at the sky yesterday while sitting on a blanket at the park.
"It looks like someone painted those clouds on the blue sky... Take a picture so we can remember it forever!"

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Early Birds

Breakfast table, the day after Father's Day

Ada: I wish I had two moms.
Jude: Why?
Ada: Because I don't like Dad, I only love Mom...
Jude: But if we had two moms, I'd be late for kindergarten EVERY DAY.
Ada: Maybe there are some moms who like to get up early...
Jude: Not in this house!  All the girls in this house sleep really late.
Ada: I know one!  Ama!
Jude: Maybe she could take us to school.  But I'd miss my dad.
Ada: Me too.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Reader

I haven't been posting much about Jude lately.  I have a lot to say, but it all seems vaguely braggy, rather than funny or cute.  Jude is amazing.  He learned to read this spring, all of a sudden.  One day he was hesitating though his weekly reading homework, and the next, he was reading complete chapter books.  He is so proud of himself.  We still read together at bedtime, but now he reads to himself for another 20-30 minutes after we've said goodnight.  He has a light attached to his bed, and he's in charge of deciding when to turn it off and go to sleep.  Sometimes he stays up way too late because he wants to finish whatever he's reading.  That sounds familiar...

Jude LOVES school.  He loves his teacher, the routine, the projects, everything.  He is actually kind of sad that summer is coming and he doesn't get to go to school for a few months.  He has really blossomed this year into an enthusiastic artist.  He spends most of his choice time at the Art station, and comes home with some incredible creations.  He's also really interested in building with Legos, writing in his journal, and anything related to math.  It can be hard to keep him challenged with age-appropriate math problems, so I think I'm going to need to find something we can work on together so he stays engaged.

Jude struggled initially with figuring out where he fit into the Kindergarten social scene, but lately he has found a niche with the recess-soccer players and a few other friends.  He reports that he plays soccer during second AND third recess every day, and managed to talk us into signing him up for a soccer camp this summer.  Any time he sees a soccer ball in a yard, he works on dribbling, passing, and scoring.

Here's a cute photo of Jude and Lucia from last weekend.  They are almost exactly the same height!

This reminds me of the back-to-back photos that I have of me and my cousin Oliver.  We were just a month apart in age, so our parents have a series of photos of the two of us at all different ages.  I was taller for a few years, but at this point Oliver (at well over six feet) has surpassed me for good.  I predict the same will happen with these two...

Monday, June 2, 2014

So Boring

Me: Ada, will you please get in the shower?
Ada: I don't do things when people say please!!!
Me: Ada, get in the shower!
Ada: Ok...
Me: Why don't you like it when people say please?
Ada: Please is just such a boring word.

Monday, May 26, 2014

The Blood of an Englishmum

Ada's favorite bedtime story is "Jack and the Beanstalk". She insists on reciting the "Fee Fi Fo Fum" part herself, and she tries to sound as mean as possible while she's doing it.

Saturday, May 17, 2014


Our household has a new member.

Ada and Dad went to the pet store last week and picked out Ada's first pet. After several days of saying "she can have any name", Ada has decided that her real name is Elsa. Welcome to our home!

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Ada: Four

Dear Ada,

Where do I start? You had your fourth birthday yesterday, and today will be your fourth birthday party.  We hired a real live princess to come to your party because that was the best way we could think of to make you feel special on your birthday.  You love princesses.  Your favorite thing about princesses is the beautiful dresses they wear, because you love dresses.  And fairies, dancing, and singing.  I never expected that my daughter would be such a GIRL, because I was never into these things.  You are teaching all of us.

You love to play by yourself, and you will "play princesses" for hours.  Ama gave you a group of princess dolls with interchangeable dresses for Christmas, and they are an unending source of fascination.  You will line them up to watch a show, or take them to swim lessons in their bathing suits, or cover them up with a blanket for a nap.  You also love to cook in your kitchen, or work on puzzles, or build with your Legos.  For your birthday, we gave you a game which includes ten different cupcakes which can be taken apart and put back together in endless combinations.  You were in heaven.

You have been taking weekly ballet classes for the past few terms, and it is the highlight of your week.  You love dressing up in your tights, leotard, ballet slippers, and pink flowy skirt.  You spend hours standing in front of the mirror in your room practicing your moves.  First position, second position, first position, second position.  You are going to be in a dance recital in June, and I'm sure you will be the cutest lion ever.  You also love to dance to more contemporary music.  We have dance parties all the time, and you are definitely the best dancer in the family.

Ada, you are becoming so brave.  In the past year, you have learned to ride a scooter, climb halfway up the rock wall, swim across the pool, and ride a balance bike.  You are still somewhat apprehensive of new people and situations, but after you warm up you are the life of the party.  You are always listening to the conversations around you, and you'll often interject with a hilarious comment or question.

You like to sleep late (like your mom) and you are very grumpy in the morning if you are woken up before you are ready (like your mom).  Some days, you'll sleep in until after 10am.  It's nice for mom to have someone else in the family who is not a morning person!  You still love your milk, and I think you would drink it all day long if we let you.  Other favorite foods are bacon, carrots, nuts, and cheese.  You are tall for your age, and you're wearing mostly 4T and 5T clothes at this point.  Your torso is very narrow, so you can still fit into your favorite 3T dresses - they are just short dresses instead of knee-length.  You have beautiful blond hair that is a complete bear to comb.  Every morning you wake up with a head full of tangles.  We've started cutting it very short in the back to avoid the 30 minutes of screaming every morning, and it looks adorable.

You have been trying really hard to be potty trained, but it is difficult for you.  Most days are accident-free at this point, but we still have a long way to go before we can stop buying diapers.  As my childhood pediatrician Dr. Pagano used to say, "I've never seen anyone walk down the aisle in a diaper."  You'll get there.

Ada, you are full of joy and laughter and sunshine.  We are so happy to have you in our family.


Monday, March 31, 2014

Day 18

For our last day in Costa Rica, we went to the Ecotermales Thermal Pools. 

The pools are heated by the volcano. 

It's pretty weird sitting under a hot waterfall!

Somehow we were the only five people at the pools today. Pretty nice!

Ada didn't really love the hot pools, but she did swim in the cold pool for a while. 

Ada did love the bag of chips that we opened once we got to the Hotel Pura Vida tonight. She takes after her mom and grandmother; a bag of chips is not safe anywhere near Ada!

Day 17

Our adventure for today was a visit to the Arenal Hanging Bridges. 

We walked through all levels of the rainforest and only lost Ada and Ama once!

Afterwards, we drove over to the hammock store where we bought some Costa Rican art. 

The kids loved swinging in the hammock chairs and learning about rebar. 

We swam for the rest of the day and had a nice dinner poolside. 

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Day 16

Jude rode a horse for the first time today. 

Ada didn't want to go, and E Ben doesn't like riding, so Ama and I took Jude for a nice trail ride. 

We rode for a hour, then spent some time at the La Fortuna waterfall. 

We had to walk down 487 steps into a deep ravine, then we were able to swim in the pools at the bottom. 

On the ride home, Jude asked me how old he has to be before he can get a horse. 

We all had dinner in the restaurant tonight, and the girls stayed late dancing to the live music. It was way past Ada's bedtime, but she said the music was so good that she could dance all night. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Day 15

We went hiking today in El Silencio. There were paths through the rainforest at the base of the volcano. 

We stopped for a snack at the mirador (view). 

The grassy paths reminded us of The Sound of Music. 

There were many fig trees. Jude climbed one to pick some fruit for us. 

The volcano was unusually visible today. 

Carlotta the Scarlett Macaw joined us for kids dinner at the pool. 

She agreed to jump on my arm for a few minutes, but that didn't last long. 

The kids had a sleepover in Ama's room, and we went out for a nice sushi dinner. 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Day 14

Today was a travel day. We awoke to find that the water at our rental house was still not working (it had slowed to a dribble the day before). That makes it difficult to wash dishes and do laundry! The water started flowing again about an hour before we were scheduled to leave, and we managed to do a decent job of cleaning, but we definitely have a new appreciation for the basics. 

We spent most of the day in the car with just a few stops. We had lunch at a place with a playground (the first we have seen since we have been here) and Jude had a great time playing with two boys. 

We arrived at our hotel late in the day. Here's the view from our room. 

Jude relaxed in the hammock for a while and read some books. 

Then we went swimming and Jude made some friends at the pool. The five kids had dinner at the swim-up bar. Jude was in heaven!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Day 13

A coati visited our house this morning. He hung around for quite a while, watching Ada and me in the pool. 

We had lunch at Marlin Bill's, which Ada says is her favorite restaurant. 

The boys had surfing lessons in the afternoon. They started with some training on dry land. 

Meanwhile, Ada had a mud bath. 

Jude was a natural and rode dozens of waves. 

E Ben did pretty well despite the fact that he's still feeling sick. 

Can't wait for the next opportunity to go surfing!