Hi Jake

Jake was born on March 20th.  So far he has been a way easier baby then the other two were.
In honor of Jake's birth we got some family pictures.  Enjoy.


Slow Dance to Three Little Kittens

I'm not sure if this video passes as even mildly amusing to others, but Rob and I were in hysterics watching it together.
Yesterday I called Michael and Ella in for lunch and neither responded. I peeked into the sunroom to find them embraced, swaying in perfect unison to the music. Not wanting to ruin the moment, I just sat there and watched the perfect moment from behind the window, trying to stifle my laughter (an impromptu slow dance to Three Little Kittens!) and also almost in tears at the sweetness of it. And then Michael hit repeat and they did it again! By the third round I was willing to risk sneaking a video through the open door, and this is what I caught of their third slow dance together. I'm quite amused at Michael's kisses, Ella wiping them off, and then her perplexed look when she gets pushed away at the end of the dance.
Sweet siblings...



Some things we've been up to in the last month or so that we happened to catch on camera (from end of November to today):
Church at the Jerusalem Center
At a stalagmite cave in the Jerusalem forest

I should have known better than to think we could decorate gingerbread houses  and expect that the kids could wrap their mind around keeping them as a decoration. 

Michael was pretty proud of the decoy (pillows under the covers) he fooled me with during our game of hide-and-seek.
We all love the massage table. The kids think feeding each other through the head hole is soooo much fun.

London trip - Rob took Michael to a Premiere League soccer game.
While Rob and Michael were at the soccer game, I thought I would have some special time with Ella. But all she wanted to do was sit in her stroller holding her balloon while we listened to music. She kept wanting to sit there for at least a half hour. I ended up reading a book. After a child like Michael who craves constant attention, her independence confounds me.  
 Rob and I at our annual date to the Nutcracker, this time in a London theater, where we celebrate one of our first dates ever. I think back to each year we go as a snapshot in our life together. This year this picture reminds me of our trip to London to get a taste of Christmas while living in a non-Christian country. My lack of fanciness and jewelry will remind me of having two young children who timed epic tantrums perfectly so that I would not have time for such niceties like dressing up, plus a big pregnant belly so that I cannot fit into any of my nicer dresses. I get teary-eyed at least once every performance, thinking of all these snapshots over the years since the one we fell in love. 
Buckingham Palace 
The Tube - Cousin Preston, Ella and Michael
Fascinated by the trains. Michael still practically has the Picadilly Line memorized.
Michael's Christmas jersey
New Year's Eve celebration. Most Israeli's don't celebrate the western calendar new year, so we came up with our own celebration. I happened to find some unused bottle rockets on the beach several months ago, and sparklers can be bought at the grocery store year round here. So we lit some stuff at the beach with the kids, had them in bed by 9:00 and called it good. 
Today. A beautiful beach day in January. My favorite thing about Israel. The water is a little cold, but Ella really wanted to put on her swimsuit and go on the surfboard with Rob anyway.

 A funny note from tonight:
Ella was playing with her dolls and I heard her making smacking noises all over them. I was thinking she was doing some sort of funny kisses, but then she looked up and said "Mom, I'm a predator. I eat animals and babies."
Later she put the baby dolls on a tray and was sliding them under a chair. She informed me that she was baking them in the oven.
She's fooling us all with her sweetness!


10 things about my kids

A list of 10 things about my life with my kids lately, just because I'm in the mood...

Ella, 2 yrs 4 mths:
1. In the last couple weeks, Ella has grown up by about a year. She started refusing her booster seat/tray table at the dinner table, she potty trained, and she is no longer in a crib. I did NOT intend to tackle all these things at once - she suddenly became too cool for a booster seat at the same time that I realized that I must potty train her NOW (our life will be turned upside down in a couple months between long-term traveling, having a baby, and then an international move...so I felt it was now or never). At which time she started trying to climb out of her crib for the first time ever and it became a matter of safety to turn it into a toddler bed.
So suddenly there was a circus act to deal with getting her to stay in her seat at meal times, stay in bed at bedtime, and getting her to use the potty - all at once. Fun times.

2. She will pull her pants down to her ankles as soon as she realizes she wants to go pee - then waddle like that across the house to get to the bathroom. So cute. She also keeps putting her head into the toilet when she watches it flush. Gross. I'm having a hard time convincing her to change her ways.

3. Long story short - I got an unexpected ring on the doorbell last week. Someone was calling for me from over our fence (our whole property is fenced in to the sidewalk), asking if this was my little girl. I opened to the front gate to find Ella waddling around the sidewalk next to the busy street - WITH HER PANTS DOWN AROUND HER ANKLES. Oh. My! I was so grateful for that stranger (and grateful it was a stranger...if you know what I mean). Ella was happy as a lark and said she just wanted to go look at our friend's car. Neither of my kids has ever even flirted with going out our front gate until that day, so I was utterly surprised. Now it is on lock-down from the inside, too.

4. When she decided she had to pee while we were at the park, she just started running waaaaaaaaaay out in the distance to the bathroom all by herself, until she was quite far away and I realized what was going on and ran over to her. She is such an independent, free spirit.

5. I stepped on something sharp at the beach and let out a yelp when it got stuck in my toe. Ella was immediately by my side, hugging me and sweetly telling me everything was going to be okay and that "in five minutes it will be all better". She was so concerned and so nurturing. She stroked my face and made everything peaceful like she's a mom herself.

6.  When I show the slightest sign of irritation, she says "But mom, why are you furious?". I have no idea where she came up with that choice of words. Tonight I was irritated that she came out of her room after we'd put her to bed, and she said "Mom, but why are you infurious? It'll all be okay. Oooooh, you should just be happy. It's all alright.", as she gently stroked my arm, making me wonder how in the world such a sweet creature could ever cause me frustration.

7. She is learning stalling techniques at bedtime. She calls us back into her room for questions like "What do animals eat?" and "What is Willy Wonka doing right now?" and "Mommy, are you mommy?". 

8. She loves to go grocery shopping with me and is the most perfectly behaved little angel every second we are in the store. Shopping used to be the activity I did solo on the weekend while Rob watched the kids, until she started requesting to come. It's like she instinctively knows it is a special privilege not to be messed with, so she is perfection in the store.

9. Every time I put her in bed, she barrages me with a chorus of "Goodnight mommy, I love you, I love you three, I love you infinity, I love you, good night..." - the whole script repeated like a broken record anywhere from two to ten times in her squeaky sweet voice. Even though it is utterly adorable, sometimes I have a hard time listening to it ten times before I am allowed to shut the door when it happens to be after a middle of the night visit.

10. She is my imaginative child, and almost always caught up in her world of make-believe. She designates new favorite friends often, and it can be a cat puzzle piece or an elephant magnet just as easily as a stuffed animal or doll. Her bed is often full of puzzle pieces, pictures, magnets, dolls and stuffed animals.

Michael, 4 yrs 2 mths:
1. He still has the compulsion to get completely nude - socks off and all - whenever he has to do his business. (Is that mean to blog? It's just kind of funny.)

2. He loves games. He wants games, games, games, all the time. He eats up all the math games I make up for him and I revel in the way he lights up and asks for more. I love sharing my love of numbers and my love of games with him. When I was a kid, I used to love making up games and making my little brother play them with me. So I love that he loves games also. (Unless it is Chutes and Ladders or Candyland, in which case I want to hide when he pulls them out. I pretty much always cheat with arranging the cards so that we pick some good ones early on and get it over with faster.)

3. In the last month he is starting to show initiative with helping out around the house more, loving to help set the table, dust, sweep, etc. Which is wonderful and terrifying at the same time. It isn't always easy to let kids "help" when it takes so much more time and energy than doing it myself. I have to paste a smile on my face when I am sweeping and he goes to grab his own broom. At the same time, he is getting better and better and it is absolutely astonishing to think that my baby will soon truly be contributing to an orderly house. Nah...could that really be?

4. He loves to perform. We had a primary program in sacrament meeting at church last month and he was a ham, clearing his throat and reading some of his lines in a silly way. He asks every week now when he will get to perform again. Not a shy bone in his body.

5. He likes to rate everything on a scale of one to ten. He handed out an 11 for the first time to a friend's house who has an arcade. He told me that I should build one for him, and said "if I had one then I would play it every minute of every day. Can we get one, please?" Poor kid put the nail in his own coffin with that statement. He obviously hasn't yet learned the subtle art of negotiation.

6. He still goes wild when we go to the beach and rolls around in the sand like a madman.

7. He loves us to read chapter books to him before nap and bedtime, which has made reading to him so much more fun. We recently read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory twice because as soon as we were done the first time, he immediately wanted to read it again. It was so much fun to reread this childhood favorite with him and watch the movie together. It is so much more fun to be the mother of a four year old than a baby. I think I would have been better off when Michael was a baby if I'd had four-year-old Michael with me then also.

8. He still sucks his fingers, snuggles his bearsuit, and wears a diaper at night. There is a pretty stark contrast of how old he acts in some ways compared to things that haven't changed since he was a baby. I've tried a lot of different things with the night peeing and haven't had much success. I haven't even begun to try to get him to stop the finger sucking at night because it feels impossible and I dread it.

9. When he dances, he is all over the floor like a break dancer.

10. He is fearless on his bike. There was a high curb with a little chip in it, which he decided to treat like a ramp (not even close) and tried to ram his bike right up it. Of course he crashed, but he didn't really seem all that deterred. He is going to be a blast to take mountain biking in a couple years.



November Rain

Rain is so much more fun when it can run down your bare skin and feel good. I so love our warm climate. My kids love playing in their rain boots and were so stoked for actual rain to play in with them. These pictures remind me so much of my own childhood in southern California.

Nothing to do with this post. Fairy Ella.


Dancing Robot

I'm pretty sure it was nearly a year ago that Michael saw a picture of Rob and I in robot costumes and decided he wanted to be a robot for Halloween. Month after month he has kept this idea in his mind and not wavered an iota in his desire to be a robot - which is fascinating to me considering how whimsical and fleeting most ideas from 3 and 4 year olds tend to be.
Naturally, Ella wanted to be a robot, too. She also wanted to be a butterfly. And the beauty of homemade costumes is that I could make that happen.
The costumes are semi-complete because I didn't think the kids would fare to well in a bulky headpiece. My favorite thing about Ella's costume was that once we added the light to the control panel up front, it lit up a green circle on the ground about a foot in front of her. She kept trying to step on it as we walked around, and it really kept her moving! I think that is the fastest, most decisive walking she has ever done. So I'm now considering taping it to her shirt anytime we walk somewhere.

Michael got his dance button pressed a lot this night, and he performed almost every time. It was awesome!

Sideways video....ooops. I thought I could rotate it but can't figure it out. Ella's tagline as a robot is "I am a robot, you have pretty eyes!". She got it from a book about a kid who dresses up as a robot. I think she's got the robot voice nailed.

Showing off his rocket boosters


Girls With Guns

We took a road trip to the Golan Heights, at Israel's northern boarder, to check out Banias Falls
and Nimrod's Fortress.
My sneak photos of girls with guns
The hike was beautiful and fun, and exploring the tremendous Nimrod's fortress (from the 1200's) brought out our inner Indiana Jones. But the most memorable part was all the young adults (although 18 yr olds look like kids to me now) casually hiking around with rifles. Big groups, all dressed casually in civilian clothes, texting on their phones, listening to ipods and playing around...with huge weapons hanging from some of their shoulders like a mere accessory. We asked someone why they would carry rifles on a casual outing to the waterfall, but his vague response was sort of like, why wouldn't they? The obvious guess is that they were kids young adults in the military...but it still seemed funny for a just-for-kicks trip to a nature reserve. (At least the guns were not loaded.) The area is right on the boarder of Lebanon and Syria, and at times during our trip we could hear loud blasts echo through the canyon from beyond the boarder, just a few miles away. It was a surreal reminder of what is other people's reality, day-in, day-out, just on the other side of the mountain. And a peek into the crazy things to which people right there where we were are accustomed.

Exploring a tower of Nimrod's Fortress


Sensory Table

A couple months ago, I found a good deal on a tall coffee table from Ikea and decided to make it into a sensory table. I finally had a good excuse to use our round power saw (is that what it is even called?) and I'd say that cutting up a table with a power tool was definitely the most fun I've ever had doing a project. Happily, the kids have also had hours and hours of fun with the result. Even without the sensory bins inside, a table with two holes has been fun for the kids all on its own. I can't thing of any other toy or activity that has captivated them for such long stretches of time that require ZERO help or attention from me.
Table + bins: $31
Hours of cooking dinner uninterupted: priceless

Black sand and a pretty collection of colorful rocks

This last picture is with water marbles, which even I can't get enough of running my hands through.
We've also tried rice (colored and scented with Kool-Aid) and seashells.
I got a little kitchen scale, also on the cheap, and hopefully someone, sometime, will learn something about measuring and weighing from it. But if so, it will be on their own, because this is one activity that I revel in doing nothing. (Besides clean up...which is actually far from nothing.)


Family Visitors

We love, love, loved having Rob's sister Andrea + husband Isaac come to visit us last week. One love for the fun of their company, another love for the attention they heaped on the kids, and an extra love for the pictures they took with their super nice camera. (All pics below are courtesy of Andrea and Isaac.)
Rob and Andrea in Capernum (Sea of Galilee behind them)
Rob, Isaac, Andrea eating fish caught (by someone else) from the Sea of Galilee
Ella, Herzliya Beach
Michael, Herzliya Beach
Isaac, Ella
The Mediterranean Sea at sunset (again...picture credit to Andrea!)
Michael posing as a statue at Caesarea
Copy-cat Ella, also posing as a statue
Andrea and Isaac at Caesarea


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