our girls

One Ice Cream Leaf

Buffy's getting pretty good at her days of the week. We credit Eric Carle and his Hungry Little Caterpillar. The days of the week she's got down pat. She can even do that really long spread of lots of different foods. It's the last page of munching that confuses her, so in our family's version on Saturday the caterpillar eats through "one ice cream leaf."

Knowing the days of the week has come in very handy this week. On Monday we showed her how many days/fingers it was until Thursday and the start of school. All week long she's been pointing to her ring finger and saying, "This is where my school lives."

Today was the middle finger, which means...

(cue threatening music)

Katie starts Year 2. Buffy starts nursery. It's her first day ever! For me it means one of my last two coffee mornings. I have so many anxieties about the first day of school, I hardly know where to begin. Of course the disappointing Summer Strallen would encourage me, albeit nasally, to start at the very beginning. Sounds like a list to me

My Top Ten Worries:
1. Buffy going from regular naps, lots of home and Mommie time to nine-hour days of nonstop excitement at school.
2. Buffy falling asleep on the way home, being unwakeable at home, going straight to bed, waking up at 2am hungry and needing to pee.
3. Buffy not waking up at 2am to pee and wetting the bed.
4. Katie jeopardising her friendships to care for (read: smother) Buffy
5. Katie ignoring Buffy
6. Turning up late to my course
7. Turning up late to pick up the girls after school
8. Not getting my homework done
9. Missing some terribly important piece of paperwork and getting kicked off my course
10. Getting so stressed that my marriage and family fall apart.

That last one makes me want to cry, so I guess it's the hot button issue. I know it's normal to be apprehensive before any major change. This is our biggest change since having kids. I never thought I'd be a stay-at-home-mom. It has been so undescribably wonderful. Easily the best years of my life. I think I'll always remember them as the best. Which means, rather fatally, that after today my best years are behind me.

It's not that tragic, really. The next few years will be enormously challenging, and quite possibly enormously fulfilling. Behind this heavy blanket of stress and anxiety is a whole lot of excitement about the next chapter of my life. I just need to mourn the end of this chapter. The chapter of bliss. All the coffees, plays at the park, swimming lessons, quiet naptimes, playdates, coffee mornings, parent association meetings, leisurely strolls, lingering chats with other mums, and did I mention the coffees? The coffee morning ladies are already missing their daily dose of Buffy, and the year hasn't started yet.

Oh shit. Just as I was wiping my tears, Katie just brought me her journal to approve. She's been keeping a daily account of her summer. Mostly, she's hated the project. I hope someday she'll appreciate it. It's been a good and necessary opportunity to practise her handwriting. Occasionally, she draws awesome pictures, too. She decided to finish her summer journal with a picture. It's Katie and me standing under a rainbow, facing away, looking at a setting sun.

I think I need a bigger tissue.

When Days Are Hot, When Days are Cool

This week is Swim Week chez Gambier. I signed Katie and Buffy up for shared private lessons every morning this week. The last time Katie had private lessons, her skills shot up. This week has been no different. We are three days in, and she's putting her face in the water, swimming around the pool on her own with a noodle float, and even cheekily splashing the teacher. Amazing! At her last group lesson she was still touching the bottom after every stroke and avoiding the splashy boys who might get water near her face. Not IN her face, NEAR her face. Today the instructor had goggles on Katie and she was face down in the pool having a look around. Amazing!

Buffy is also improving, but we have split the class 20 minutes/10 minutes in Katie's favour. She needs it more. Buffy just kicks around and is adorable. She also asked to wear the *pink* goggles. The goggles coupled with the giant flower in her hair made her look absolutely hilarious. She just keeps grinning and cracking little jokes, making everyone around her happy.

So, yeah, I'm happy with the one-to-one lessons. I wish we could afford to do them every day of the year.

Dolphins (Wales)

Last week we went away for our annual visit to the gorgeous Pembrokeshire coast. The weather threatened us with grey skies every morning, but each day they scattered and we were left with glorious sunshine. We had, as always, an absolutely fantastic time. I've just managed to finish uploading the scores of photos. There will be a cull later, but for right now, they're all there. Enjoy. I might even add some captions at some point.

Amazing Is Spelled G-U-E-B-U-K

Today Katie had a special meeting with two friends. Their mothers and I have given them a summer challenge to create a show for an audience at the end of the summer. The whole purpose of the meeting today was to decide what to do. After half an hour's play and another hour's worth of serious secretive work, they still hadn't decided what to do. Many lists had been made, a complex voting system devised, voting had taken place, but still no decision. Ideas included a play, gardening, selling things and babysitting. After some gentle conversation with the mummies, the girls eventually decided that their audience would best appreciate the play. So a play it is! Don't ask what sort of play or any of that nonsense. The point is, they're going to do a play!

From a grown-up perspective, this is absurd. All that effort to conclude what was blindingly obvious from the first germ of the idea. Still, they did amazing things today. All that writing, planning, working together, complex mathematics. Our girls are amazing.

Our other little person is doing her best to play catch up with her big sister's crowd. She ran around after them all afternoon, scribbled hard on her piece of paper next to them and tutted about having so much work to do. On the way home she showed off her spelling skills.

"I know how to spell... pavement! G-p-t-b-u!"

Most words ended with U. Only "Katie" began with an appropriate letter and she's nailed "B-u-f-f-y", which has to be considered a good thing at any age. I just lovelovelove her enthusiasm. It is so infectious. By the end of our walk, I was shouting out words for her to spell - or misspell, as the case may be. She shouted back her spellings with all the confidence of a homeschooled spelling bee champion. She even said the word before and after her spelling. It was wonderful.



Katie's Naughty Little Sister

Once, when Katie was young and her naughty little sister was very young, they got a new piano. It was a shiny, black piano and it was very beautiful. Oh how they loved their new piano. They wanted to play it every day. Sometimes Katie practised her piano songs for her performances at school. She practised very hard and performed very well at her concerts. Her Mommie and Daddy were very proud of her. Katie's naughty little sister was very proud too, and she wanted to play as beautifully as Katie.

Katie's little sister would climb up on the piano bench and gently run her fingers over the shiny keys. Then she would play the notes gently and then loudly, making up the words to a song as she played. Wasn't that sweet of her?

The sisters liked to play together with their shiny new piano. Sometimes Katie would play and her little sister would dance or sing along. One time they kept singing their song all the way up to school. That day Katie turned to her Mommie and said, "Buffy and I were really rocking out to that song, weren't we Mommie?" Katie's mommie laughed and said they were really good musicians.

Sometimes, though, both Katie and her little sister wanted to play the shiny new piano at the same time. It was during these times that there were fights. Katie's naughty little sister didn't understand why she had to wait for Katie to finish practising her piano homework. She would bang alongside Katie and Katie would get very cross.

One day Katie practised her piano songs over and over again. Her little sister listened patiently and played with her toys. After a long time, Katie's little sister wanted to play too. Katie went away from the piano, and her little sister decided to play. She was very happy playing on the piano, and played her made-up songs very nicely. She knew she had to be careful around the piano as it was a very special thing to have in the house and not a toy.

Then Katie's little sister decided she wanted to play the recorder at the same time as she played the piano. She slid off the bench and walked across the room to pull the recorder out of the special drawer in the desk where other musical instruments are kept. In that same moment, Katie came back into the room and went straight to the piano and started playing. This upset Katie's little sister very much. Katie hadn't meant to be naughty, she didn't know her little sister was still playing on the piano.

I am very sorry to have to tell you, but then Katie's naughty little sister did something very bad. She screamed at Katie and started to cry. She was very cross. She ran back across the room and, do you know what she did? She shoved Katie! I am very sorry to have to tell you this, but it's true. Then Katie's little sister did something even worse. She bit Katie! Right through Katie's dress, and she bit her so hard that there was a little blood. Katie was very hurt and sad, and their mommie was not happy at all.

After that Katie's naughty little sister had a time out. Unfortunately, she did not sit still like a good little girl and had to have another time out straightaway. Then Katie's naughty little sister had to say sorry to Katie. She really was sorry, but Katie was not ready to forgive her. Katie's sister then wanted to play on the piano, but Mommie said no. Katie's little sister had been so naughty, and biting was such a terribly bad thing to do, that Mommie said she had to go back to bed.

And, do you know, Katie's naughty little sister fell asleep right away? She must have been very tired and not feeling well to be so naughty as to bite her sister. Katie was still upset and cried that she thought a sister would never do such a thing. I wish I could tell you that sisters never did do such naughty things to each other, but they do. I hope it never happens again!

Two Months

Today is the 27th of May. 27 is a big number in our household as both girls have birthdays on the 27th of their respective months. Today Buffy turned 34 months and Katie, exactly 40 months older, is 74 months old. Katie finds this all absolutely thrilling and fascinating. To the point that she wonders what everyone else did wrong not to have a birthday on the 27th. Clearly it's the "it" thing to do. Nevermind that Gramma and I are both claim the 16th. 16 is inferior to 27. Obviously.

Buffy doesn't mind much. We tell her it's something exciting and she is confused, but appropriately excited. We told her that in two months it will be her birthday. She exclaimed, "Oh yesth! Then I'll be sixth!"

Um, no. You'll be three.

Further exclamations, "Oh yesth! Then I'll be three! And I can go to sthcool! But not yet."

No, not yet, baby. She'll go in September, but that's soon enough for my tender Mommie heart. When does the fascination with the next birthday end? I guess at 22, after the last great milestone is past. Then we beg for time to slow down a bit, later for it to slow down a lot. It never does, though. Time ignores our pleas for speed when we're young, only to heed when we're ready to take it slow. It will be more intense for Buffy, because everything is more intense for Buffy. Oh, WOW! An apple! For me? WOW!! What's this, my shoe? Gank you, Mommie! I LOVE MY SHOE!

I guess I shouldn't moan. A girl that skilled at living in the moment isn't going to wish her life away.

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