The Frog and The Butterfly

This butterfly was hard to catch still on camera...almost all pictures were blurry.
The International School here put on a pretty awesome halloween party on a street where many diplomatic families live. Although it wasn't completely closed off to traffic, costumed kids, adults, music, dancers, and decorated trick-or-trunk cars still ruled about a kilometer long stretch of a street. I think (?) most American embassies abroad have a Halloween party at the offices of the embassy, and while that is fun, it still felt really good to get out and do it American style, outside walking the street with masses of other party-goers.
Kermit and his Pirate friend loved holding hands all weekend she was visiting. Watch out Miss Piggy.

Hi-ho, this is Kermit The Frog.

The butterfly clung to me for dear life all night long, but seemed to love it from the safety of my arms.

After about an hour of trick-or-treating, a tired Kermit actually told us he was ready to go home. A surprise to me, but he has gotten a lot more self-aware lately.

Sharing the loot at home.


Kid talk

I am especially energized about my life as a mother lately. I think it is so exciting to see my kids develop and to get to be their teacher. I am so proud of them. I am always happy to get them to bed each night (ahhh, stillness), but then as soon as I do, I am looking forward to the next day I get to spend with them. Although I wouldn't mind it if they'd let me set the opening hours. Anyway, here are some things I want to record about them lately. It's a bit much, well, a lot much, and still I have to admit that this is the shortened and toned down (they enthrall me) version of what is in my head.

I'll warm up with some stories about Michael's sense of smell. He could survive in the Amazon with that nose. Today we were eating breakfast and there was some red peppers in a closed jar left out on the table. He goes "Mommy, I don't like eating while I smell that", and pointed to the closed jar. (I sniffed right against the bottle and couldn't smell a thing.) I put it in the cupboard, and he goes "Ah, that's better. (Breaths in) Now I just smell Ella's peaches (over on her tray, also odorless to me)."
If I have ever eaten chocolate within a half hour of being somewhat near him, he sniffs me out. Once I was pushing the jogging stroller and running and eating a chocolate Power bar all at the same time. Mind you, he is sitting in the stroller with a canopy over it, in front of me, upwind as I run. And he goes "Mom, you're eating chocolate. I want some!". Dang. Or he wakes up from a nap 15 minutes after I had a piece of chocolate, sniffs the air a few times and declares "I smell chocolate. I want some chocolate." And there have been so many other instances along the same lines of these stories with his nose that I wonder if I could hire him out to the police.

Michael's bedtime prayers always start with "Thank you for grandma and boopa Davis. Thank you for grandma and boopa Candrian." Tonight he surprised me with something along the lines of this - "Thank you for grandma and boopa Davis. *whisper whisper* and the big frog that came into the kitchen and ate up all of the food at grandma's house. He just kept eating and eating and didn't leave any left for me (sadness in his voice). And then the frog ran down the stairs and out to the pond and then jumped onto the lily pad....yada yada yada....amen." Upon further questioning, this happened at Grandma Liken's house (no such thing) with a BIG frog named Aiden (also, no such thing) who was both nice and mean (such thing). I'm pretty sure he was remembering a dream.

Michael loves his bearsuit, as always. But lately it is hilarious because he likes to tell other people about it, sure that they will find it as absolutely wonderful as he does. He showed it to a friend of mine and described to her how it was soft and brown and makes you feel good, and then demonstrated how you hold it and put your two fingers in your mouth while patting it against your cheek. He introduces it to his friends who all happen to be older here, and they all pretty much just look at him quizzically. It reminds me how young he still is. Yesterday, as he was playing with some random older kids at the park, he ran over to the stroller, snatched out his bearsuit, and proudly brought it over and held it up to show the kids ("See this? This is my bearsuit."). They started laughing hysterically. I think he just felt confused, especially since they didn't speak english and he was working hard to figure them out anyway. It made my heart ache.

All on his own, yesterday Michael put together a USA puzzle that has every State individually cut out. He is fascinated by maps. I printed out a floor plan of our house and he likes going around seeing what the "map of our house" represents.

Michael also is fascinated by street signs and directions. Here are two fun stories:
A couple weeks ago Rob took Michael into his office as I took Ella to the the embassy doctor. One of Rob's coworkers, wondering how Michael ended up with Rob at work in the middle of the day, asked him how he got there. Instead of replying "mommy took me" or "the car", he gave Rob's coworker the actual street directions.
Today, as we were leaving to go pick Rob up from the airport, I was entering it into the Garmin for directions. Michael asked me what I was doing, and after I said getting directions to the airport, he then replied (hand over my heart!) "to get to the airport, you just go to Shderot Abba Eben, then you get on the 2, and then you take that to the 20 and then get on the 1 and drive through the Tel Aviv city and then you just keep going and going and then the 1 takes you aaaaaaaaaaaaaall the way to the airport. That's how you get to the airport, mommy." The directions were spot on. I was floored. We had never driven there before, and I was putting the directions into the GPS for the first time myself. As I wondered in awe how in the world he knew that, he explained "Uncle Troy told me that's how to get to the airport". Troy's visit was last month.

After trying out multiple dolls and soft fuzzy blankets, at last Ella has found a lovie. She named him Arf. I found him at Ikea and somehow knew the moment I saw him that he was the one she was going to love. It started out as a strong puppy love, but now they are in a pretty deep relationship.
I think kids having a lovie is just sooooo adorable.

At 14 months, Ella's speech just started snowballing like crazy, to where now at 15 months she can easily say hundreds of words, although it is impossible to say exactly how much because she'll say just about anything - even big words like elevator, Benjamin, and helicopter. She is a master at parroting, but she also just busts out with words throughout the day that were not recently said and I never tried to teach.
Here is an example from tonight. I'm letting Michael hold a framed picture of Jesus. She comes over and excitedly says "Picture! Picture!", "fragile", points to Jesus - "Jesus." and then again, "fragile". I think those were all new words today, and I wasn't prompting her or anything. The context is that she must have overheard me talking to Michael about a starfish he broke that was fragile, and about 20 minutes earlier I mentioned in passing (to Michael) that I was putting the picture up high where they couldn't reach it because it was fragile glass. But I don't think I've actually ever directed that word to her.
Ella also says words pretty clearly - anyone could understand most of the words she says.
Here are some words I can think of that I think she said for the first time today (I am just racking my memory for these, I'm guessing there are more if I'd written them down as she goes...but they are popping out all day long) - fragile, picture, Jesus, sunroom, breakfast, fox, hippo, monkey, tray, belly, ouch, eat, eating, bum (Michael was sitting bare-bottomed and she walked over and patted it and happily exclaimed "bum! bum! Pat, pat, pat."), elbow, sunscreen, trashcan, nice, bouncing, tiger, purple, sunbeam.... And she uses them on her own, not only parroting (although she is very good at that). The point is that it seems she can say just about anything, is constantly saying words I had no idea she knew, and I'm sure her spoken vocabulary is somewhere in the several hundred range. I'm no longer surprised as she says new words throughout the day, since it has been like this everyday for the past month, I'm simply getting more and more astonished at the extent of it. As her language began to take off in September, I thought, oh this is fun, I have an early developer. But then she started on this stretch for the last month where she is busting out with 10 - 20 new words every day. And then this last week, two different friends who have worked with children have commented on how remarkable she is, and it just hit me, like, wow, she really is quite special.

I'm also starting to get a lot of comments from people at how understandable she is. She is on the petite side so that makes her seem especially precocious. She definitely has her cute little baby talk with some words, however. Flower and shower are "faow-faow" and "shaow-shaow". She plays a ton with the word water - it can be wawa, wawi, wawis, or water, depending what suits her fancy at the moment. Michael copies her silliness to a T, and ugh, I accidentally copy her too sometimes. I hate adult baby-talk, but she's so dang cute it is hard not to mimic.

She's also starting to use short phrases - "sorry guys" is my favorite one lately. So cute, she says when something happens to her, like she stumbling or bumping. And we had a good laugh when we were driving and Rob had to slam on the brakes and we heard her yell from the back "sorry guys!". There have been a few times when it really sounded like she said a complete sentence...but I'm not sure if it was just myself getting a little overly excited about her early speech development or if I really heard what I thought. But one thing I know for sure she is starting to do is mimic songs and say certain words at the right moments of a song. Or after I sing she will try to sing the song, and even though it is babble, she gets enough sounds right to tell she is attempting to sing and it is adorable.

She calls the letters of the alphabet "A-B's", and when she finds little toy letters around she'll bring it over to me and proudly exclaim a letter of the alphabet (today she saw K on the ground and exclaimed "H!", or at church she found C in the nursery room and ran into the sacrament meeting with it proudly proclaiming "D! D!") 

Ella loves the beach. She also loves her stroller and can get into it by herself. So lately her thing is to go downstairs, climb in the stroller and alternate between yelling "BEACH! BEEEEEEEEACH!" and then flat out screaming.

Ella is still pretty hard core attached to me. I wonder when the day will come that I can leave her wtih anyone without imminent screaming and sadness. She gets extra clingy to me when Rob comes home because she realizes then I can leave her, even though I usually don't. Lucky me that she has a zest for life and just goes around smiling and babbling and entertains herself most of the time, so at least she is usually good company. She destroys the house sooooo quickly but is so happy with her activities that I don't mind.


A Nice Autumn Activity

Everyday is still in the high 80's, low 90's (generally around 30 C) here. I haven't forgotten that last year we were already breaking out snowsuits, beanies, gloves and boots by this time. We've traded all that for sunscreen and sunhats. I don't even put shoes on the kids when we go to the beach - just throw em in the stroller. is so much easier this way. Funny thing is, I still miss our past life in charming Sweden. And of course the US (I'm not sure which state is "home" anymore). But it's nice to miss it in the midst of this...

I don't know how I will ever come to a solid decision about whether or not we should try to extend our tour here for an extra year. We have to make up our mind already by next month. Yikes!



Monday was another Jewish holiday.  Sept/Oct is awesome in Israel because there are tons of holidays - and we get all the local and American holidays off.  This means I've only had to work one full week since we've been here, and I still have three more four day work weeks coming up.  In total, in my first 8 weeks here, I will have had one full week of work.   So on Monday, we went down to Jaffa.

Jaffa is just south of Tel Aviv.   They are technically part of the same municipality, although Jaffa is older then Tel Aviv.  Is was a historical Arab town that Tel Aviv sprung front, about 100 years ago.   Not to get too historical, but basically a bunch of Jews moved north of Jaffa, into some sand dunes, and started Tel Aviv.  Roughly 100 years or so later, and there you have it. 

Jaffa definitely had more of a Middle Eastern feel to it (at least what I imagine other places in the middle east to feel like - without the protests or riots or jihad, so that was nice...) 

On a funny work note, we actually had a demonstration outside of the Embassy this week.  No need to worry about it being  a Libyan or Egyptian style protest, though.  It wasn't even an actual protest, since the group showed up to show their support for the United States and their appreciation that the U.S. is a supporter of Israel.  When my State dept. friends tell me that this is the "Middle East Light" they really are right.

On to the pictures:

 Ella and Michael sitting on an old cannon.  They thought it was awesome.


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