May, 2008

Knock loudly and for a long time on wood, but since we took him off straight milk, Sam has not come down with his usual severe tonsillitis. He is still eating cheese and occasionally yogurt but is now back to being a rice-milk only kind of guy, and that certainly seems to work better for him. He's been a bit under the weather, but nothing severe enough to warrant time off from school. Nina is actually considerably worse off than he is at the moment; she is extremely congested but her mood is better today than it was yesterday, so hopefully that's headed out.
We had a fantastic weekend with cousins Ulrika and Sören last weekend. The kids really enjoyed spending time with both of them and liked hearing and speaking more Swedish. On Saturday they went in to London while we went to a birthday party (Sam and Håkan) and a park (Nina and I), and then on to the Richmond May Fair and Kidzactive. The kids had fun at the May Fair. Nina especially liked the model railway train that went about fifty feet in one direction and then reversed over the same fifty feet. Sam was proud to go on the carousel motorcycle. I liked the greyhounds. On Sunday we all went to Richmond Park where we walked through a lovely enormous garden and then had lunch overlooking the Thames. Back at home it was time for more bubble blowing and some badminton. The day after they left, Sam, who usually has no concerns during "joys and concerns time" (our adopted version of grace), said that his concern was that Ulrika and Sören had left.
We also had Lauren over off and on during her last two weeks in the UK after her trip around the world. I can't believe I'll just be telling the kids NY when they ask where you are, Lauren, but at least both kids now know where China and Russia are. :)
Birthday party season has started in Sam's class. The Year 1 classes are divided by age, so it has been quiet up until now, but lately there has been a party almost every weekend. It's good because by the time Sam's rolls around we will have a pretty clear idea of how they go down. There is a set party routine here: 2 hours long, entertainment of some sort for the first hour, then "birthday tea," then either more entertainment or free play, then party bags which almost always include a slice of the cake. Today's party was a bit of a break from the routine because the entertainment was a boat ride to Teddington Lock, which was lovely, but a bit cold and damp (continual drizzle occasionally approaching rain).
Sam has been having a bit more trouble at school since he lost his afternoon support. We are trying to keep track of that objectively. It has mainly meant more frequent tears both at school and at home. But for the most part he is still really doing well at school and enjoying himself. He continues to be especially pleased about tennis and is happy that his actual birthday will be a tennis day.
Nina has been going to Pebbles three days a week. That seems to have made it more of a routine to go, but she is still having difficulty at pickup. Twice this week she was extremely hard to deal with at and immediately after pickup. She hasn't been feeling well this whole week and that tends to make her more demanding in general. I finally turned in my sheet about next year and wrote down four mornings a week but after this week I am having serious reservations. One thing that especially bothers me about Pebbles is the lack of time spent outdoors. They only all go to the big garden if it's really nice weather, which of course, this being England, it generally isn't. It is hard to consistently get her outside after lunch because I usually have to start prepping dinner and there's not much time between when she's done with her lunch and when we have to go get Sam. My current feeling is that I'm going to switch my request to three days a week, but we'll see, I'll give it till mid-June anyway before I make a final decision. I also wish the Pebbles staff would be a bit more understanding. They seem to think that I am just way over-protective. I admit that I am over-protective, but on the other hand, they don't have to deal with the aftermath of three hours keeping it together. On the plus side, I think Nina is finally making a friend. She seems very fond of a girl named Agatha who seems to be a very sweet girl, so that is all good.

Today we were lucky enough to be part of the Three Wings Trust Sailing Day at Desborough Sailing Club. We all had a great time! The drive there was interesting- so much more villagey than where we live now. The people were all very friendly and very understanding with the kids. Nina spent at least half an hour painting her face orange. I suggested she could add black stripes and be a tiger, but no, she was quite happy to be orange. ;) Nina B. and Nina T. worked together to paint a couple of glittery hearts on my face as well. Nina got to go out on on orange "speedboat" (see gallery picture- more like a motorized raft) and a 16-foot sailboat. Sam went out on those and on a more conventional motorboat as well. I even got to handle the jib "sheet" for both the 16-foot and a 15-foot sailboat, which made me very happy, although there was very little wind. Sam and Nina really liked jumping in the bouncy castle, throwing the giant soft frisbee, and playing with the Barretts. Nina got fairly hot and tired towards the end- she is still working on recovering from a bit of a chest cold- but she was very sweet about saying goodbye to all the Barrett kids.
Tonight Sam and Nina acted out "Caps for Sale," with Sam being the monkeys first and me being the monkeys second (when both Sam and Nina were the peddler, although Nina was meant to be the caps, but that's ok). I love watching them do acting out of stories. They do it with "Can't You Sleep Little Bear" as well, and I always get a bit choked up at the end because they're so gosh-darned adorable.
We have just finished our first half-term during which we actually had a lot of activities planned. It helped that H. was around more than usual; that meant that on Tuesday Sam could do cycling in Richmond Park with Jude from his class, the rest of Jude's family, and Håkan. They had a fabulous time and I think it was very good for Sam's interest in biking. There was only one day that was difficult, Friday, because Sam had another one of his "I will not leave the house" spells in the afternoon, which never fails to push my buttons. In the end I biked to Richmond with Nina but she had gotten upset from Sam being so upset and she was a bit off-kilter in Richmond, although I think she was glad to have some time. All in all it was a good half-term and very social. On Wednesday afternoon Nina B, Eddie, and Sally came over, and after a slow start the kids ended up playing wonderfully together. On Thursday we went to Lucas and Jessica's for a play date which went reasonably well.
We had our last Kidzactive session for the term last Saturday. The kids got to dress up so Nina was a firewoman and Sam was a pilot. They had fun. Nina especially will miss Kidzactive while it's on break.
After a long wait, we have finally been given a time to see the consultant pediatrician who will assess Nina, that will happen on June 10th. I am very glad about that as I continue to be unsure about why Nina behaves the way she does. She has had a couple of massive meltdowns at pickup time from Pebbles that have been quite challenging to deal with calmly (although I did mostly succeed, I am happy to say).
Nina continues to absolutely love ballet and she gets to be in a ballet show on July 12th. I can't wait to see it because I haven't ever seen what she does in class as the windows are completely frosted and the parents wait outside. Sam has filled out the invitations for his first-ever birthday party which will be on June 28th.
Sam and Nina have also intermittently been playing really well together. They have a long game for outside that involves them being snake and crocodile and going to each other's houses. They also have been playing a lot with their "babies."