Children like night and day

March 6, 2017 at 10:15 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Violet turns 22 months this week, and so we decided to move her up to the next level in her Gymboree class. I remember doing the same thing for Liam with his Itsy Bitsy Yoga class at Willow Street Yoga in Maryland at about the same age, and it was a disaster. He’d been so happy in the baby class, but when we switched to a new routine, he totally hated it. We only made it to a handful of classes before I decided to just give up. He would refuse to participate, crying at the door, and that was just the beginning of his many years of disdain for group activities.

Violet, on the other hand, took to it like a duck in water. She held back a bit with some of the new activities, but jumped in whole-heartedly with others. At one point they had the kids pretend to fish, and when the teacher dumped a bucket of little plastic fish under them, she exclaimed, “Oh!” and tried to climb down to get at them. Another activity, where they looked at little photos and told us what they saw, had her pointing and exclaiming in her ever-growing vocabulary. By the end of class she was hollering, “Jimbo!” and talking up a storm.

Amazing how different siblings can be, right?


Liam’s 8th Birthday Party

January 22, 2017 at 8:50 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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In years past I’ve planned activities, carefully scripted each moment, or rented out a venue for Liam’s birthday parties. Nothing fancy, but still requiring some effort. This year, I decided I’d let him handle it. He elected to have a slumber party, guests arrive at 6, we’d get Happy Meals from McDonalds, open presents, run around and play, eat cake, then watch a movie before they go to bed. Sounds like a good plan! And that’s pretty much how it all went down, except no one spent the night. Which was perhaps for the best. We’ve never had anyone spend the night before, and I get the feeling eight is still a little young for boys to handle sleepovers. I had my first slumber party at eight, but girls seem better equipped for that sort of thing at that age. Liam was a little bummed no one decided to spend the night, but I told him we could try again next year.

Opening presents started out civilized, then somehow all the kids ended up on top of the dining room table. We totally forgot to put candles in the cake and sing happy birthday before eating it. He didn’t even notice. Mostly they shot each other with Nerf guns (or rather, fake shot each other. No one was firing actual darts, I think at Liam’s request). Then they found the swords and shields we got at Disney, and they ran around the living room doing battle. I think everyone had fun. We put in The Goonies, which elicited varying degrees of attention, but by the time the pirate ship escaped, they all sat down to watch. All the boys behaved well, and no one woke Violet. They ate a ton of junk food and were probably bouncing off the walls when they got home. Maybe another good reason no one spent the night! Ha!

Liam loses his first tooth

January 11, 2017 at 4:20 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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I thought this day would never come! Just two weeks past his 8th birthday, he complained that his bottom front tooth hurt. I asked if it was loose, and he confirmed with a slight wiggle. Here we go! He spent the next couple of days bemoaning his hurt mouth…how he couldn’t eat on it, couldn’t brush it, could hardly sleep with it like that. Oh, this child!

Tonight was Taco night, one of his favorite meals, and sure enough the sucker came right out as he was noshing on his tortilla. And, oh, the boo-hooing! He freaked out about the blood and just stood there screaming about it. I grabbed a tissue and assured him the bleeding would stop, that it wouldn’t hurt for long, and, hey YOU LOST A TOOTH, ATTABOY!! Violet ran right over and gave him a hug — something she’s kind of been conditioned to do with such a sensitive big brother. After awhile the tears dried up, and he couldn’t wait to examine this tooth. We told him the tooth fairy would finally be stopping at our house tonight for the FIRST TIME EVER!

Then James told him he had to put his tooth under his pillow, but not so far under his pillow that the, um, tooth fairy might wake him up. In fact, how about you just put that tooth up on your bookshelf next to your bed, just in case. Good call, daddy. I fashioned him a little paper envelope for it, and after he’s fast asleep, I’ll sneak in there and swap a bloody tooth for a Euro. Sounds like a fair price, about a buck 20, yes? I remember only getting a quarter, but, you know…inflation.

Time for Mass!

February 21, 2016 at 5:50 am | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Ok, this is about the cutest thing Liam has ever done. We live near a Greek Orthodox church, and every weekend the bells toll at different hours of the day. When I first heard them, I exclaimed, “Time for Mass!” Liam asked what that meant, and I explained it was time for people to go to church and listen to the sermon.

The next weekend Liam heard the bells ringing and he exclaimed, “Time for math! Mom, what’s eight plus eight!” I answered him, a little puzzled with the quiz, until I realized he confused Mass with Math. Ha ha ha!

I pointed out his mistake, but now it’s become a little joke. Every time the bells ring we do math. We’d rather do that than go to church anyway, lol.

Liam’s New School

January 22, 2016 at 9:37 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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Whoa is me, the jet lag! For some reason I was certain we’d be up with the sun this morning, but apparently I had it all backwards. When I finally cracked a bleary eye to look at the clock, sure it was 6 AM because that’s how it felt, it was 10AM. Crap! We had to be at Liam’s new school at noon! By some miracle we got ourselves presentable, figured out the metro system, found the school and arrived in the front office with about a minute to spare. Whew!

We decided since Liam is entering mid-semester we’d go with the American Community School, which is where most of the embassy kids go. The campus includes the elementary, middle and high school, and the focus on academics and extra circulars is what you’d expect from a private school. Class sizes are small, only 18 or so per classroom teacher. The first grade set up was similar to Liam’s school in Derby, with three classrooms connected through open doorways. We got to tour the campus, and we were very impressed! There’s a proper theater for plays and musicals that the elementary kids can use for music programs, which he’ll be doing in the spring. There’s an indoor pool, and swim lessons are a part of the PE curriculum. I’ve got mixed feelings about this — on the one hand, I’ve always felt it was important for Liam to learn how to swim. On the other hand, every swim lesson we’ve tried has ended in tears. Seriously, he’s like an angry, wet cat. We talked quite a bit with the principal about it, and she assured me they’ll work very gently with him.

We met with the school psychologist and the principal for an assessment and interview. No surprise Liam was performing at and beyond his grade level, especially in math. They were happy to have him start Monday. We toured the classroom and met the class pet, a three-legged dog named Mr. Chips. He hangs around with the kids all day, listens to them read stories and goes out with them at recess. The Athens climate is much like southern CA, so I noticed a lot of outdoor areas around the classrooms for kids to play, eat, and learn. The elementary lunch room was much smaller than the one in Derby, and right next to the first grade classroom. They cook a lot of Mediterranean food, so I have a feeling Liam will be mostly bringing his lunch. But this kid has surprised me in the past (hello…black eyed peas?), so we may try  few things and see what happens.

Before we left we arranged for a shuttle bus to pick Liam up on Monday. The arrangement was a bit complicated — we were told we’d have to cross a busy street at a cross walk with no traffic light, and the guy seemed a little overly concerned about the danger. Although, after watching traffic downtown on our way to the hotel, I can totally believe that crossing the street could be a dicey proposition. He said there was another student who moved to the area recently, and they were going to see if they could get a special shuttle that will pick them both up in a better location, but they have to work that out and get back to me. In the meantime, I’m going to go with him on Monday to make sure he gets settled in ok, get him all set up for school lunch (wishful thinking!) and buy him the required gym uniform. No other school uniforms at this school, which is one less thing to have to worry about.

I’m pleased they were able to get him into school so quickly, but a little apprehensive about getting there so soon. We’ll be moving into the townhouse on Sunday, and with barely any sense of the neighborhood I’ve got to get him to school on the shuttle and get myself back to the townhouse on a public bus. I had James count out the bus fare in Euros for me to have in my pocket. Perhaps he should pin a note to my jacket with our address as well!


Liam Turns Seven

December 14, 2015 at 11:18 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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It’s been chaos here in the Fletcher household: the post-Thanksgiving, pre-Christmas, pre-trans-Atlantic move rush was complicated by a bout of suspected food poisoning amidst all of my birthday party planning. So while I booked Liam’s party at Jumpy Jump Land a month ago and sent out invitations two weeks before the event, the actual party only came together by sheer will and the incredible generosity of friends, family and neighbors. I doubt Liam will ever know the difference – he had a wonderful time jumping, eating massive amounts of pie from his favorite Derby restaurant, and opening lots of presents. He didn’t notice that: A) I didn’t remember to bring birthday candles; B) Nobody actually sang Happy Birthday; and C) There were no presents from me and daddy. I also didn’t bring anything to properly cut the pies with, so my poor mother did her best using plastic cutlery to dole out rough pieces of delicious Holiday French Silk and Pumpkin with Whipped Cream. Being the birthday boy, Liam got a piece from each. He must have worked up an appetite from all that jumping. He made short work of them.


Because we have a limited amount of space for Liam’s things in the move, we decided to request books as gifts. Though Liam is only just starting to get into reading, he loved the idea and was delighted to open all of his gifts.


Notably, he got several Magic Treehouse books (his favorite series at the moment), a “7” shirt from my mom, picture books and activity books that will be great for those dull moments on the way to Greece, several other chapter books, and a really cool travel atlas from Jill.


He even got a $20 bill. Evie was green with envy.


We had about a dozen kids in attendance, which turned out to be a perfect number for the venue. We had plenty of food and drinks, and I think everyone had a good time. I had to mind the baby quite a bit, so I relied on Jill to snap most of the photos and mom to feed all the kids. Violet was pretty good about letting my friends take turns holding her so I could get a break from time to time.


At first I was a little concerned about having the party so early – 10 AM was the only time I could book it – but I really appreciated having the rest of the afternoon to recover. Evie, Milo and Liam played all afternoon (read: tore apart my house), then we all watched Home Alone that night. None of the kids had seen it, and they absolutely loved it. They kept telling and retelling their favorite parts to each other while brushing their teeth before bed. And the next morning Milo went on the hunt for paint cans to hang from our stairway. Thankfully he’s too young to get up to TOO much mischief. Yet.

Tomorrow I’m planning to take Liam to the bookstore to exchange some of his Magic Treehouse duplicates and get the rest of the books in the series as our gift to him. Good save, yes? That was my plan from the very beginning…

Movie Night is a Big Hit

November 12, 2015 at 10:05 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Movie night every Friday is becoming a “thing” in the Fletcher household. I hope James is prepared when he comes back. So far we’ve seen The Dark Crystal, Hocus Pocus, Labyrinth, and Willow. Liam has loved them all. Each time he sets up a snack bar with varying snacks. Each time he charges me a dollar to eat my own food. He already understands the concept of upselling. He already has this Friday’s snack bar prepared. It went up on Wednesday. Last week, when we were all laid up with colds, we had a movie matinee so we could get to bed early. I wasn’t sure if he was digging Willow – he kept bouncing on the couch and talking through it. But during the climactic battle, he proclaimed that the movie was “awesome.”

Last night I combed through our movie collection to see what else I could glean for him to watch. He’s already seen The Goonies and Enchanted. I settled on a choice between Indiana Jones and The Princess Bride. He chose the former. Sweet. I’ve been waiting years for him to experience Dr. Jones for himself. He asked if we could watch all three in one night, which I would TOTALLY do, except for that whole responsible parenting thing. You know what will totally blow his mind? When I tell him there are actually four movies now. I have a feeling we’ll be on an Indiana Jones tear for the next month. 

First Movie Night

October 16, 2015 at 11:18 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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James is out of town for four, and now possibly six weeks, while I hold down the fort with two kids. Yeah. Fun. We finished week one without too much drama, except that Liam keeps guilting me about paying more attention to Violet than to him. And it’s true – she needs A LOT of attention right now. And Liam is mostly okay with that. He gets up early and plays with her in the bed so I can take my time waking up. He pushes the buttons for her on the exesaucer. He hands her toys when she drops them and he’s the only one who can get a real giggle out of her. But if she starts crying, forget it. He never wanted a baby sister. Babies are so annoying!

In order to make it up to him, I decided to start a movie night on Fridays. I told him all about one of my favorite movies that I saw in the theater when I was about his age, The Dark Crystal, by the same guy who did the Muppets and Sesame Street. A brief outline of the plot and he was sold. (Although, hearing my description, I realized what a truly bizarre movie this is. Probably why I love it so much.) He got so excited, in fact, that he set up a “snack café” on Wednesday night. Behold.


Popcorn is $1. Chips are $3. Candy is $11. And Kix are $100. And he emphasized that I had to pay him REAL MONEY. For two days he drilled me on proper snack café procedure. Enter the line HERE. Stand BEHIND the jump rope. Pay the cashier (Liam) in this spot. Give your movie ticket (which he cut out of green construction paper) to the ticket taker downstairs. It was at once adorable and annoying. Pretty typical for our little Liam.

Finally, it was Friday night. All through dinner he was jibber jabbering about how excited he was about movie night. We ate dinner early and got Violet’s bedtime routine started an hour early. She’d missed her afternoon nap, so surely she’d go right to sleep? Except I forgot that babies operate under Murphy’s Law. It was like SHE KNEW that I wanted her to give us two hours of peace and quiet, and she just wasn’t going for it. I tried three times to get her down, and finally at 7:30 she seemed to sleep soundly.

Liam excited stood at his post. I told him I’d like popcorn, and he said, “One dollar, please.” I pantomimed giving him money. He stared for a beat. “Mom, remember? I wanted real money?” Sheesh, this kid. So I dug a dollar out of my wallet, and he placed it in the “cash folder.” Quite the entrepreneur. I told him there was no way I was shelling out $11 for candy, and he didn’t make a federal case about it. Carrying the food downstairs, I gave my ticket to one of his stuffed animals. Then I took a seat next to Lucy, who incidentally had her own ticket as well. This kid!

I’d forgotten how complicated the plot for The Dark Crystal might seem to a six-year-old, so I had to do a lot of explaining. What is a prophesy? What is a conjunction? What is a shard? But I think he got the gist. He certainly got the visual elements. And he was just as delighted as I was when Kira revealed that she had wings. I told him when I was a girl I wanted to have wings, and he replied, “I wish boys could have wings, too.” Violet interrupted our viewing twice, but Liam didn’t seem to mind pausing it while I got her settled down again. She’s not usually this fussy at bedtime, so I’m hoping our subsequent movie nights work better.

It was great to spend some quality time with my boy. I love that he’s finally at an age to share in some of my favorite movies, and he doesn’t get scared by them or not understand them. I’ve already got plans to show him Hocus Pocus, The Monster Squad, Willow and Labyrinth. But he did ask if he could pick the movie sometimes, so we may have to alternate. I’ll be interested to see what he chooses…though I may have to insert a rule that it can’t be a movie we’ve already seen a hundred times.

Incidentally, I stumbled on this page on IMDB and realized I saw quite a few of these in the theater that year. I think my parents would trade off taking me to the movies while the other one watched Jill, who would have been between 6 months and 18 months that year.   

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