Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Snow day


It's snowing here in Bulgaria. So, we threw our new skis in the van and went to a ski resort. It sounded like a good idea at the time...

In reality it's pretty much hell, with some fun bits thrown in.
Having our dear friends with us makes it all just something we can laugh about but that laughter leads to coughing.

It sounds so fun when you talk about skiing. I was picturing fireplaces in the lodge, kids who are mature and experienced now; who would be able to operate all their own equipment, but honestly- they can't even put on their own boots. Oh heck, I can't put my own boots on either. I will never ever do this again...for at least 2 years.
But then I find myself out there with the sun, the snow and the Chalga music and for a minute I think "this is fun." It's like the cold mountain air plays a trick on your brain and makes all the work since 6:30am a fuzzy blur. How did I get here? Well, it's sunny and snowy and I can buy generic powdered hot chocolate for $7 while the waitress can barely endure our presence- what's not to love?
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Saturday, December 11, 2010

castle, sweet castle


Just in case you forgot how big our house was...here's another picture. The top bit is the part we call the 'tower' there are two arched windows centered on each of the 10 ft walls, amazing views from all sides since we're halfway up the mountain; snowy mountain top if you look to the left and city lights if you look to the right. Mostly we just stand in the 5 story spiral staircase and yell out "Where are you? Can you hear me?" to one another.
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Snow



We drove to the top of the mountain the other day- there's snow up there. I think we'll have to get serious snow boots this winter- brr!
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hand made



One of the nice things I've noticed about my kids lately is how giving they've become. There was a definite selfish stage there around age 6 that went on for a while and was making me crazy. Billie decided to make a doll for Sloane a couple weeks before her birthday- we worked together on this project each night as Bill read stories to the littles and sometimes stayed up late at the sewing machine. Billie did 95% of the work and the doll actually has and embriodered face on her other side, which is sleeping, so you can just flip her pink/purple/yellow hair over to see that.

Jackson carefully wrapped up his remote control car, which Sloane is always asking to have a go at, tied it with a bow and gifted it to her. Cort (I) picked out a Little Einstiens computer because they use a defunct computer in most of their games as a cash register or to keep track of the books being checked out when playing their most frequent game 'library'. Cort uses a lot of pseudonyms to check out more than his alotted amount of books. Sloane (looking official behind the defunct computer): What's your name? Cort: King of Jedis.

Back to the kindness- when Billie had her concussion she and I spent one night in the hospital. The kids were there for her fall, watched quietly as Bill and I got all flustered and concerned. They sat silently worried in the hallway chairs while doctors, nurses and we all hovered over Billie for an hour or so. Other people played with them and made paper airplanes with them while we ran tests and got checked in, moved to the pediatric hall (with 6 rooms). Eventually Bill took them home to see Nanna and assured them Billie would be fine and home soon.

The next day Bill brought us home from the hospital. Nanna had the girls drawing a welcome home banner for Billie and Jackson was running back and forth sneakily and only gave me a quick hello, obviously busy at work. Billie was still pretty wiped out that morning- Bill carried her to her bed. The littles went right in to give her hugs and see her. The first chance he got, Jackson snuck in to her room and I entered to find pokemon cards everywhere. He had sorted through his entire deck (let me assure you this is no small feat) and picked out all of the 'cute' characters, stacked them up and wrapped them and addressed them to Billie, complete with a few card covers to keep your most special cards in top condition. Billie was smiling and looking over her new cards for two minutes before rolling over and going back to sleep.

These trauma situations aren't exactly fun but it was nice to see how thoughtful everyone was not just to Billie, but to the whole family. We played lots of card games in bed, read stories and watched endless episodes of Teen Titans on DVD together.

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Sloane


Sloane turned five this week. We had a family night with cake and gifts and a party with friends yesterday. I requested no gifts or a picture drawn by her friends and the families all came up with such thoughtful things- one boy made a necklace, as you can see in this photo. Another friend drew pictures of Sloane at her birthday party and made it into a book. All day the kids and I made cupcakes, cake, blew up balloons and hung decorations, we were feeling festive all day. Cort informed us that "You have to have a costume for a PARTY!" so he wore his helmet and Jackson's Kabuto PJs all day. We played musical chairs, hyperdash and Billie and Jackson hid a bunch of number 5s around the house and the kids ran around hunting for them to see how many they could find. It was a wonderful party and Sloane enjoyed every minute of it.
Happy Birthday to my very big girl!
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Saturday, December 04, 2010

The view of the mountain from our window

Billie as Hermione Granger

The magic show performance for CHILDREN at the SCHOOL, reminiscent of the Brownie troop gathering upon our arrival in Turkey.

Jackson is still here too, he's growing up and growing his hair out like Harry Potter. Bill keeps telling me to cut it, but it's Jonas Brothers style, right?
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still cute



Sloane and Cort are still really, really cute. Sometimes naughty...even cute when naughty.

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Bonk



Billie got a concussion three weeks ago. It was the scariest thing that has ever happened to me- much more of a focused fear than the time Sloane wandered out of the fence in the backyard.

A nice day outside, we put the scooters in the van and headed to a nearby park. The kids were having fun and we decided to go for a walk along the paved path. Billie and Jack were up ahead scootering along at not-very-fast speeds when Billie must have hit a crack in the pavement, thunked over and there was silence. No cry or hugging herself- just laying there on the path very still and silent. It was frightening not to hear her cry.

She was unconcious, with a teensy tiny, not bleeding scrap on the side of her forehead. Bill swooped her up we booked it back to the van and got to the hospital within 20 minutes of her fall. She woke up as we were walking to the van and got steadily better from there. There was a CT scan when we arrived at the hospital to show no sign of bleeding or damage to the brain. Relief. But I stayed worried for days afterwards.

The thing is, she could have been wearing a helmet. And it's hard to face that an accident like this could really have been prevented by Bill and I reminding her to put on her helmet.

A few days of not leaving Billie's bed (not bed side, I actually curled up in her bed with her for three days) I had a lot of time to think. I would say that, as parents, we are pretty slack on the safety scale- the kids climb trees, play outside unsupervised, go rock climbing, we use car seats MOST of the time, wear helmets on bike rides only when you're older than 6 and going further than the driveway, we don't get the flu shot and we never ever EVER use hand sanitizer (gasp!). While we were in the hospital I just kept thinking "how did this happen? We do 14 things more dangerous than helmetless scootering EACH DAY!"

I don't think we're negligent; I feel like we take precautions when something has the potential for danger; littles must hold hands when crossing a busy street and all that. But I also really want the kids to grow up with a strong sense of security and not set them up with the idea that something could go wrong at any turn. I don't want them to examine every project/idea/outing for any potential disaster...just be able to identify obvious danger and make smart choices to avoid it.

What is up with a two year old needing more safety gear than an astronaut to use a three wheeled scooter on a 4 ft square patio? What speeds and heights will this child be getting to at age two in this environment? It just doesn't seem rational to me.

What's so bad about a skinned knee? Or chicken pox?




But if you had told me I could have prevented Billie from this trauma, which is already just a funny story to tell for her...(so it's my own trauma) I would have agreed to have her wear a helmet every day for a year. This is a tricky line for me between safety and overprotectiveness. I guess I'll just have to keep figuring it out as I go.
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Scenes from the stable


Today the kids picked out an activity from our 'holiday box.' The holiday box is a thoughtful, handmade gift from a friend which contains cards with activities and ideas for projects that have to do with Hannukah, Christmas or the winter season. Create your own nativity scene. Sloanes is made up of baby dolls and cute animals, Billie made one with pokemon (2 pickachus as the kings) and Jackson made a bionicle version...notice how the green bionicle cradles the Jesus bionicle...isn't that sweet? The three kings have arrived with heavy weaponry.
Also related to this subject was our conversation yesterday when Sloane called me over to tell me that she loves Jesus just as much as she loves Santa. She explained that this way Santa wouldn't say "Sloane loves me more...so take that, Jesus!"
I didn't know what to respond so I did my usual 'okaaaaaaaaaaaaayy' thing that I say when I have to take time to process what they're telling me. Apparently she has noticed that there's some connection between Jesus and Santa but clearly she's not gotten all the roles worked out.
Jackson has mentioned to me quietly a couple times that he thinks it's really parents who load up the stockings while the other morning at breakfast Billie wondered aloud "I just don't get how he can carry all the packages at once?!" Still, willing to believe despite being puzzled with the details.


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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Nunderwear


We got to visit with this adorable nun. She had worked for the secret service until retirement at 55, didn't think she'd live long so decided to come to the monestary. Now at 76, she's still going strong, hangs her own laundry out, grows her own food and her house doesn't even have indoor plumbing...can't even imagine how much work that would be in winter. I love our encounters with amazing people, stories and history.
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new Sofia


Sloane and Cort are dear friends and she's always taking care of him. Yesterday he told Bill "I like flowers, for real!!" Weapons and baby dolls are his favorite toys. Cort wasn't sure what to make of this painting, a lovely courtyard at the monestary, a walk in the woods.

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