Saturday, November 29, 2008

This Christmas

This Christmas will be different. I vow to make it a meaningful one, involving the children and experiencing this season through their eyes. This morning, I got up early to set up the Christmas tree - about the only thing I did by myself, so the kids could decorate it whatever way they wanted to. Raci had to work in the morning so this became our little project while he was out. I made up my mind to not care if the ornaments were unevenly distributed, more on the bottom than on the top. I didn't care if the tree-topper, which was Rebecca's job, ended up being sideways. I let Victor decorate the chimney mantel and Frankie got all the Christmas stuffed animals out and about the house. I did not care about changing out of our pajamas and if we eat breakfast sitting on the living room carpet - crumbs and all. This was my moment with my children and I enjoyed it to the max. Early in the morning, before Rebecca and Victor got up, Frankie told me all about Santa, his elves and the reindeer. He told me that he really loved Santa. When Rebecca and Victor got up and the action got started, we had Christmas music playing and we practiced singing the lyrics of our favorite tunes....the day was magical. When we were done, the house was shinning.....I can always count on the gloominess of Seattle weather to make the Christmas lights look even brighter - I tell you, there is always a positive in anything, if you look hard enough! The highlight of the day was the discovery of an old "vintage" Rudolph that belonged to Rebecca when she was a toddler...She shared the story with her siblings and their eyes were shinning! Rudolph has become a real treasure for them!

It has been a hard year away from our loved ones and the place we call home. This Christmas, once more, we will be by ourselves during the holidays but at the same time, we will enjoy each other more. To end this year, we have a list of things planned from greeting Christmas Ships at the beach to attending tree lighting celebrations; from drinking hot chocolate in the morning to having eggnog in the evening; from having breakfast with Santa to attending Christmas day mass; from Nutcracker school field trips to experiencing "snow" in a mall; from parade to parade; from Downtown lights to Zoo-lights! We are going to do all the merry stuff we can and we are going to enjoy each moment!

When we were putting together our nativity set, the kids asked lots of questions about Jesus - I told them the story of Christmas once more and I know their little hearts were rejoicing.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

A Special Feast

Our second Thanksgiving in Seattle is over and it has been a "special feast" and I am quoting Victor on this statement. When I was done cleaning up tonight after dinner was over and our guests were gone, Victor came up to me and said: "mom, we had all these people over and our house was was a very special feast, just like the whos in whoville!" I was thankful as I often feel, to be able to see life through the eyes of my kids. They still see things with the eyes of the innocent, so uncomplicated and real. After hearing him say this, I realized that we are not alone, although we are not near our loved ones, God always provides the way to show his love to us. This Thanksgiving we borrowed a family, the family of our very special friends - friends who have been our "life line" during this hard move. We had the pleasure of hosting Thanksgiving for them and their family and although they felt we were doing them a favor by having them over, in reality, we were the ones receiving the favor. Because we were hosting them, we worked hard, as a family, cooking and baking and cleaning together and we enjoyed the experience so much, like we had never done before. If we had not asked them over, we would probably had gone out, to a restaurant, in an attempt to forget that we are far away from home; instead, we decided to be thankful for what we have instead of missing what we feel we have lost - it seems like it was the best choice after all!

Its' been said that giving is how we receive. Today, on Thanksgiving day, we are thankful for everything we have received but most of all we are thankful for being able to give and then receive, twice as much the amount given. It has indeed been a "special feast."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Brotherly Love

The first "I love you" from Frankie has been for Victor. His brother, his friend and playmate - truly, he deserves to be told how much he is loved by his little brother. I must confess I am a little jealous since I could have bet the first time he'd say "I love you" would be for me but I was wrong and Victor took the prize. I am not even sure why Victor started to cry last night, either he got hurt or was frustrated about something but the bottom line is that he was having a major meltdown. Frankie started to look worried and wanted to comfort his brother and he told him, "I love you, Victor, don't be sad" - It is the most wonderful thing I could have hoped to hear from Frankie and not only did he initiate this affectionate moment by himself but he was able to make Victor feel better right away. Victor came running to me in the laundry room, from where I had heard the whole thing, and told me Frankie had said "I love you" to him. My husband, who was in the room at the moment, also pointed out that he had witnessed the little "miracle" take place. All of us were pleased because we knew once Frankie reached this milestone, we could expect a lot more of "I love you's" for the rest of the family too. Regardless of the fights, the bickering, the pushing and pulling and the competition for attention, I am starting to see the true bond shared between my two boys; the bond that will be tested by time and the turns their lives will take. My only wish is that the love they feel for each other now grows and keeps them from ever feeling lonely or sad because no matter what, they will always have each other.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Animal Farm

For the past year, I've had the strange feeling that I was living in a ZOO but I am convinced now that I do live surrounded by animals, at least farm animals that is! Recently, the kids have been pretending to make different animal sounds to communicate with each other (????) and after fun "trials and errors," each one of them has developed their own "alternate ego." I am not sure how this happened but I have been informed that Rebecca is the parrot, Victor is the horse and Frankie is the chicken. I have also been told that I must refer to them as parrot, horsey and chicken, just like the do when talking to each other. I am not sure if I am just too tired to fight the three of them on this one, since they ARE ganging up on me, or if I just find the whole thing too cute to make it go away by a mom's decree. I am so happy that my kids are finding common ground regardless of their age difference (especially with Ms. Rebecca) and that Frankie can join in participating on an extended "pretend" game with his siblings. As for Victor, it makes him so happy to lead Frankie on the game and count on the big sister's approval, that he is glowing with pride. I am sure that they will all get tired of the game after a while and it will go away in due time so I will just enjoy it while it lasts and pretend I am not so happy with the farm noises in the house... Here is where I draw the line: as long as they don't make me go to the feed store to get our groceries, they can cackle, neigh and cluck all they want!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Meowing for Milk

Raci has been out on a business trip for the past five days (and we still have four more to go!) and our bed has been invaded by three little creatures...the most interesting one of these creatures is a smiley cat named Frankie. He meows for milk in the morning and asks with a smile if he can have milk "pleeeeeease....meaowwwwww." It's so cute I can't say no! He reminds me of that sneaky cat from Alice in wonderland...I don't think I ever learned his name but I couldn't forget the "grin" - it was unique! Well, my cute little cat Frankie is pretending to be a kitty cat with purrs and all asking for milk at all times, including crazy times before my alarm goes off but who can't say NO to a smiling kitty? Not me! specially when the lovable feline goes right back to sleep after his warm milk is gone. I have no problem with that....One milk coming right up!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Rocking Monkies

It's official, my kids (and me too) have become groupies of the local band going by the name of "Recess Monkeys." I am not much of a follower of bands and definitely NOT a follower of the run of the mill bands for kids that seem to require loud color outfits, bright make up and big hair (aka doodlebops) to get kids interest. Also, I am really scared of the creepy-looking, middle-aged men (aka, the wiggles) who wear a uniform and do choreography while they sing. No, I don't think I've ever taken my kids to any "live" performances of such groups or bought any kids music CD's that were not Barney, classical kids stuff or those prepacked collections of kids songs. Well, all that has changed after we met Recess Monkey. This band is made our of normal-looking people (arguable but at least they "look" normal enough!!!). They are fun, energetic and their music is actually good...really, really good! They are teachers, so they have a "day job," although they are probably going to quit soon based on how well they seem to be doing, but most of all they are refreshing. They have great appeal to all ages, from birth to probably 99. I was mostly surprised at how much Frankie liked their songs, which by the way we had NEVER heard and now, after pretty much 72 hours, we are starting to know by heart. During the concert, Victor and Rebecca seemed to be enjoying the experience but Frankie was "static," dancing, singing and going all the way to the front to cheer them up after each song. He also followed directions as the band asked the kids to jump, dance, do a "conga" line around the library and ultimately, asked them to climb onto imaginary monkey bars. Frankie followed each and every one of the instructions and enjoyed himself to the max! It's hard to believe that less than one year ago, Frankie wouldn't even answer to his own name...Today, he is a rock-concert-going fan who is able to participate and join in the fun with other music-lovers of all ages. It's amazing that all the hard work is paying off so soon and that Frankie might just be able to kick autism in the butt!
Rock on Recess Monkey and THANK YOU FOR THE MUSIC!

Frankie with Recess Monkey posing after the concert. He couldn't get over his band cool button!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Fart Portraits - Christmas 2008

OK - Let's be honest: We all giggle when we hear the word "fart." Adults (read: Parents) don't talk about it in front of the kids but we have a million jokes we can tell each other related to the issue. Loud farts are hilarious but yet we try not to laugh - kids do laugh at them and they laugh LOUD so I guess "fart noises" could be considered the secret-mega-weapon for photographers dealing with difficult kids. We experienced this super-duper kid-magnet technique recently when we went to take family pictures for our Christmas cards. When the photographer at the studio resorted to this "technique" it really worked like a charm! Although she didn't actually farted on demand, her "fart noises" won the kids over in a flash. This woman got Victor to stop twitching and cooperate with her and she got Frankie to look at the camera with a smile. They both followed her every instruction and they posed for her, sat down, knelt down, took a gift from Santa's hand, opened an empty box pretending to be in awe and would have probably stood on their heads if she requested it...All because she made nonstop fart noises! The entire situation was so crazy that Raci, Rebecca and I had to smile too...the result: TOTALLY AWESOME family pictures that we'll treasure for years to come. Nonetheless, we will probably always remember her loud fart noises and will never-ever, stop making the connection between "farts" and the "smiles" we sport in our pictures. Hey, the way I look at it, if our kids look like a million bucks in all the pictures we ever take of them, I don't care if the photographer actually farts for real!!!!

The End.

Our AWESOME Fart-Portraits for this Christmas. We had a good time thanks to some very loud fart noises. Chill out, it was only gas!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Who is Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?

November 4th - Election day!

My son Victor also casted his vote today but not for Obama or for McCain but for the Big Bad Wolf. He told me that he had heard the wolf's side of the story at school today (The Three Little Pigs) and then he was asked to cast a vote for either the pig or the wolf. After "careful consideration," he decided to vote for the wolf. He did believe that it all had been a tragic misunderstanding. He also told me that most of his friends voted for the pig and thought the wolf was lying but that he stuck to his guns and casted his vote for the wolf. I personally tend to believe the wolf was not entirely truthful in his account but I do respect the guts it took for Victor to stand by an unpopular decision. I was happy to see he was excited to cast his vote and make his voice heard and I was proud to realize my kid has found his own voice and is not afraid to vote accordingly. I trust that we all had the courage to get out there and vote today - whichever way we decided to vote, as long as it got done!

Here is the account of the wolf on the three little pigs case for your enjoyment:

SOMERSET PA (AP) -- A. Wolf took the stand today in his own defense. This shocked and stunned the media who predicted that he would not testify in the brutal double murder trial. A. Wolf is accused of killing (and eating) The First Little Pig, and The Second Little Pig. This criminal trial is expected to be followed by a civil trial to be brought by the surviving Third Little Pig. The case has been characterized as a media circus.
His testimony is transcribed below:
"Everybody knows the story of the Three Little Pigs. Or at least they think they do. But I'll let you in on a little secret. Nobody knows the real story, because nobody has ever heard my side of the story. I'm Alexander T. Wolf. You can call me Al. I don't know how this whole Big Bad Wolf thing got started, but it's all wrong. Maybe it's because of our diet. Hey, it's not my fault wolves eat cute little animals like bunnies and sheep and pigs. That's just the way we are. If cheeseburgers were cute, folks would probably think you were Big and Bad too. But like I was saying, the whole big bad wolf thing is all wrong. The real story is about a sneeze and a cup of sugar.
Way back in Once Upon a Time time, I was making a birthday cake for my dear old granny. I had a terrible sneezing cold. I ran out of sugar. So I walked down the street to ask my neighbor for a cup of sugar. Now this neighbor was a pig. And he wasn't too bright either. He had built his whole house out of straw. Can you believe it? I mean who in his right mind would build a house of straw? So of course the minute I knocked on the door, it fell right in. I didn't want to just walk into someone else's house. So I called, "Little Pig, Little Pig, are you in?" No answer. I was just about to go home without the cup of sugar for my dear old granny's birthday cake.
That's when my nose started to itch. I felt a sneeze coming on. Well I huffed. And I snuffed. And I sneezed a great sneeze.
And you know what? The whole darn straw house fell down. And right in the middle of the pile of straw was the First Little Pig - dead as a doornail. He had been home the whole time. It seemed like a shame to leave a perfectly good ham dinner lying there in the straw. So I ate it up. Think of it as a cheeseburger just lying there. I was feeling a little better. But I still didn't have my cup of sugar . So I went to the next neighbor's house. This neighbor was the First Little Pig's brother. He was a little smarter, but not much. He has built his house of sticks. I rang the bell on the stick house. Nobody answered. I called, "Mr. Pig, Mr. Pig, are you in?" He yelled back."Go away wolf. You can't come in. I'm shaving the hairs on my shinny chin chin."
I had just grabbed the doorknob when I felt another sneeze coming on. I huffed. And I snuffed. And I tried to cover my mouth, but I sneezed a great sneeze.
And you are not going to believe this, but the guy's house fell down just like his brother's. When the dust cleared, there was the Second Little Pig - dead as a doornail. Wolf's honor. Now you know food will spoil if you just leave it out in the open. So I did the only thing there was to do. I had dinner again. Think of it as a second helping. I was getting awfully full. But my cold was feeling a little better. And I still didn't have that cup of sugar for my dear old granny's birthday cake. So I went to the next house. This guy was the First and Second Little Pig's brother. He must have been the brains of the family. He had built his house of bricks. I knocked on the brick house. No answer. I called, "Mr Pig, Mr. Pig, are you in?" And do you know what that rude little porker answered? "Get out of here, Wolf. Don't bother me again." Talk about impolite! He probably had a whole sackful of sugar. And he wouldn't give me even one little cup for my dear sweet old granny's birthday cake. What a pig!
I was just about to go home and maybe make a nice birthday card instead of a cake, when I felt my cold coming on. I huffed And I snuffed. And I sneezed once again.
Then the Third Little Pig yelled, " And your old granny can sit on a pin!" Now I'm usually a pretty calm fellow. But when somebody talks about my granny like that, I go a Little crazy. When the cops drove up, of course I was trying to break down this Pig's door. And the whole time I was huffing and puffing and sneezing and making a real scene.
The rest as they say is history.
The news reporters found out about the two pigs I had for dinner. They figured a sick guy going to borrow a cup of sugar didn't sound very exciting.
So they jazzed up the story with all of that "Huff and puff and blow your house down"

And they made me the Big Bad Wolf. That's it The real story. I was framed. "

Monday, November 3, 2008

Mama Mia!

Mama Mia! that's the new phrase Frankie has been using to address me. At first, I thought it was a one-day thing but it has lasted over a week. This morning he tapped my shoulder and said "you are Mama Mia" - it was soooo funny! I responded repeating that back to him with a question, "I am Mama Mia?" I asked and he said, "YES!" Victor claims he taught him to say this but he has never called me that before and Rebecca says he is copying this from her singing the ABBA song but I have never heard her singing it. Everyone wants credit for Frankie's smart remark but I am not sure who gets the medal on this one. Either way, Frankie reached so many milestones with this phrase - he has been able to identify me with the expression and today he used pointing, eye-contact, name recognition, answered a question and all with a great smile in his my book this deserves a loud MAMA MIA!!!!!!