There is so much that has happened in our time down here that I just haven't found the time to blog about, but that I don't want to forget. So this post is going to be a quick series of bullet-style memories. If you'll indulge me.
- Last weekend was a "Fun Day" put on by the school at the huge Multiparque. We'd driven by the entrance several times before, but had never been inside. We didn't quite know what to expect, so were just hoping there'd be enough to entertain all three boys at their levels. Well, it was awesome! As soon as we got there, went through the line for our wrists bands and entered the park itself, the boys were off and running. I pulled out my camera (of course) with its freshly-charged-overnight-batteries... only to find that I hadn't put the memory card back in. I was pretty furious with myself, imagining all the amazing photo ops I'd be missing that day, but decided it was a sign to fully experience the day without seeing the entire thing through the lens of my camera. I'm still sad that I don't have pictures as reminders of the great fun that was had that day, but it did make life a little easier to only have the three boys to worry about... and not my fourth baby (ie, my camera).
- The week before last there were our first parent-teacher consultations. I met with Simon's teacher, Miss Denise, first. Nothing she said was a surprise. She said he has tones of energy and enthusiasm, but can also be a bit too competitive and physical with the other kids (again, not a surprise). But everyone there adores him. Everyone from his classmates, to teachers, to other staff, to older students... they all know his name. He makes himself known (that day we spent at Multiparque, Peter couldn't get over how many people -both adults and kids- came up to Simon to say hi). She said that academically he would probably be finding school pretty boring except that he seems to love it so much (which he does). He's smart and funny and eager to please and do well. He's enthusiastic and completely engaged in the class. He's energetic and physical and competitive... and needs a bit of work developmentally when it comes to dealing with certain social situations (isn't that a nice way of putting it? *grin*). It all sounds EXACTLY like Simon.
- My meeting with Liam's teacher also went well. Again, he's very well liked and has done a relatively good job integrating into the life and routine at the school. The entire school is IB (International Baccalaureate), so the marks are given between 1-7: 1 being the lowest, 4 is passing and 7 is far exceeding any expectations. For having been there less than two months of an over-three-month term, he did really well. He had mostly 5s and 6s, his only 4s being in writing, math and social studies. He still struggles a great deal with writing (a post I've been meaning to write), but I think (hope) that his teacher and I have come to an understanding. I still feel there is far too much homework expected to be done each night (not that it's particularly difficult, it's just the sheer volume! again, another post for another time). So while we do have some issues with the school, I love some of the opportunities that Liam has had there... violin lessons each week, tae kwon do classes, fencing. Fencing?! Although the mornings seem to be especially hard on him, I know he enjoys the school once he gets there.
- Speaking of the mornings, I'm not sure many times I've already
complainedmentioned it here on the blog, but mornings here ARE HARD. Peter sets the alarm each morning for 5:40am and when it goes off, he gets up to start getting ready. When he gets out of the bathroom, he comes and gives me a shake before heading to the kitchen to get breakfast ready for the boys. I drag myself moaning out of bed and then set to the task of waking Simon and Liam. Simon usually takes a minute to wake up, but he's little enough that I can drag him onto my lap and rub his back as he struggles to open his eyes. Generally the first thing out of his mouth is, "Is it a school day?" and when I respond that it is he jumps/falls off my lap and staggers to the bathroom and then to the table. Liam, on the other hand, is far more difficult to rouse. It's not that he won't wake up, he just doesn't want to get up. Remember it's still before 6am at this point, so I DON'T BLAME HIM. There are always complaints and sometimes tears. I try to be gentle and encouraging and understanding (and generally succeed), but it gets pretty exasperating because I'M EXHAUSTED TOO. After quite literally dragging him out of bed, he too goes to eat. But who wants to eat anything at dawn when you've only been awake for two minutes?? It's always a struggle to get them to eat anything in the mornings. Once we've given up the breakfast battle, they leave their half-eaten meal on the table and we begin the frantic where's-your-uniform-yes-you-do-have-to-change-your-socks-and-underwear-do-you-need-your-library-books-today-grab-your-bag-did-you-check-the-menu-for-Simon*-have-the-snacks-been-packed-why-don't-you-take-off-both-shoes-by-the-front-door-can't-you-take-off-your-coat-without-turning-both-sleeves-inside-out marathon of trying to get ready before we have to take them down to the meet the bus at 6:20am. That's right. Usually less than half an hour for waking to boarding the bus. Most mornings -after they've been kissed and waved off- I climb back into bed shortly after 6:30am hoping to be able to rest a bit more before Peter leaves for work. I'm such an optimist.
- While Simon still struggles with some of his phonemes -mostly blends with the letter 's' like 'sl' 'sp' and then the letters 'f' and 'v'- he has a pretty impressive vocabulary. However, he does struggle a bit with conjugating the past tense of verbs. It so cute though that I often let it slide. I know he'll figure it out on his own just by hearing correct speech... he's only four after all. But to give a few examples, he will generally just add 'ded' onto the end of any verb, even if he's already unconsciously conjugated it to past tense. So "I saw-ded..." or "Liam take-ded..." or "We go-ded..." or "I poured-ed...". However my personal favourite of all his mis-speaks is when he's trying to say the word "won't"... he says "willn't". For example: me- "You have to have a nap today or you'll be way too tired and won't be able to have fun tonight." Simon- "No, I willn't!" Am I wrong to not always correct him? It's not that we always ignore it. We do practice proper speech patterns at home, but some of what he says is just so funny!
- Speaking of funny (and since I've already mentioned Multiparque a couple of times), it'd be remiss of me not to share this story about Liam. After about an hour at the park he finally bumped into some of his buddies from school (remember the whole school and their families were there for the "Fun Day" in addition to all the normal FINALLY-a-super-sunny-Saturday park visitors). They decided they'd like to race the go karts together. We all walked over in a big group to that end of the park, where it was discovered that Simon was too small to ride. Andrew was SO excited about the little cars, but I knew he wouldn't understand that only Liam was allowed. Simon wanted to stay and watch, so I left Peter with him and took Andrew over to see some llamas. After a little llama ride (insert non-existent super cute picture of Andrew on a llama), I took him to the side of the track opposite where Peter and Simon were standing so we could watch Liam race. I should explain that these weren't little putzy go karts... it was hardcore! Full helmets with visors, five-point harnesses, neck collars to prevent whiplash... and they went fast! Liam just barely met the height restrictions and he's not short for his age. Clearly they're meant for more the 10-15 year old set. Either way, Liam was in a kart lined up near the back of the pack. When he came around the bend towards us, Andrew and I cheered and waved and were all smiles and encouragement. When Liam couldn't see me, though, I admit I was laughing my head off. He just looked so INTENSE. When the race was over, I watched Liam duck his way through the crowd to find Peter, who gave him a big hug. Since I was so far away I couldn't hear what was being said, but Peter later informed me that while he was all "Great job, buddy! You did amazing!!", Liam had buried his face into Peter stomach and said, "I thought I was going to DIE!". I will NEVER be able to think of this story without laughing... even as I write this, I have tears in my eyes. He has since decided that Mario Kart for the wii is a much safer way to feed his need for speed.
- I can't leave this post without mentioning Andrew. He is such a sweet, loving, easy little guy. He's a favourite wherever we go. The kids at school swarm him (to the point that he often needs to be picked up and saved), he runs and hugs all of the embassy staff whenever he sees them (who wouldn't love that??), and all the guards/maids/gardeners/drivers/nannies/police/etc that we see anytime we leave the house are always greeted with smiles and waves... and often hugs too (can be a bit awkward!). At 27 months, he's well on the way to being diaper free very soon. Yeah! He still has accidents, but generally only wears diapers at night or starting in the afternoon when his brothers get home and the crazy starts. And he's finally -FINALLY!- starting to talk. We know this is really late, but he communicates so well without words and is otherwise so great/amazing/awesome, that we've been hesitant to worry too much. He's clearly able to say most sounds and syllables, but just wouldn't put them together. Truly, I think it was/is a power issue as much as anything. Back in January I got fed up and taught him two dozen or so signs, which he caught on to immediately and have helped a lot (and are super cute to watch). I think he's also decided that it's as much to his advantage as to ours if he starts talking. Thankfully. He still only really says mama, dada, yeah, up, poop, goal (*rolls eyes*), bye bye, owie and uh oh (which I realize is not a lot) with any regularity but he's at least gotten over his stubbornness and will parrot us when prompted. Frankly, when compared with his brothers it's been kind of nice to have at least one quiet kid!
here he's waving goodbye to Peter (the little blob on the right, under Andrew's arm)
...and how cute are those tiny undies??
sweet, sweet boy