August 16, 2009 – From their viewpoint…

This past Christmas, Grandpa gave both girls their own digital cameras. These are great little cameras that stand up to lots of dropping and the buttons are easy to use. The pictures are not the greatest quality but as I uploaded the pictures they had taken, I realized that this showed a side of my babies that they cannot express yet.

Lera took these photos.

And, of course, every artist needs a self portrait. Lera loves to look at herself in the mirror and so this photo was inevitable.
Caelia sees the world a bit differently. These are the photos that she took

Can you tell that she really loves her brother (or brothers if you count Chris as she does) and her sister? .

August 9, 2009 - House on the Rock

House on the Rock is an interesting place. I love to go there but it is very hard to explain to someone who has never been. This is a picture I found but did not take and I got this piece of history off of their website. “During the 1940's, a man named Alex Jordan discovered a 60-foot chimney of rock in the beautiful Wyoming Valley. It was here he decided to build a house on the sandstone formation called Deer Shelter Rock. Jordan built the house as a weekend retreat and never intended it to be a tourist attraction. However, people kept coming to see the architectural wonder they had heard about. Jordan eventually started asking for 50 cent donations. That was only the beginning. The 14-room house is the original structure of what is now a complex of many buildings, exhibits and garden displays. Alex was a collector all his life and enjoyed visiting museums; however, he did not want The House on the Rock to be a museum. He intended it to be much more than that. Though parts of the collections could have easily found their way into museums, The House on the Rock is more of a trip through the wild and fantastic imagination of Alex Jordan than a visit to a dusty, lifeless museum” Well it is definitely different. Here are some highlights from our trip through – sorry I don’t have pictures of the miniature dollhouses – I ran out of battery. If you are interested in seeing more (and better) pictures of the attraction, click on this link: One of the most spectacular parts of the place is the “Infinity Room”. This is an engineering wonder and is suspended out over the top of the trees. You can feel the room sway. Not something I really enjoy. The girls seem to though, Lera looked down through the window in the floor. This is where the girls stood. And this is where Mama stood.Enough said. I was very happy to go back to these beautiful gardens. The girls were more impressed with the koi. This was inside the house. Michael liked all of the winding rooms and places to sit. In a couple of years he will be hitting his head and may not be so enthused. Caelia really liked this table – there be a lot of dragons here. Lera made herself completely at home (and this is not discouraged here!!!!Yay!) Apart from the house is the Collections. There are dollhouses and a street that looks like it came from an old town. There is also one massive room with ships and a huge whale. I don’t know that Lera liked the whale but she liked the octopus band. Caelia was intrigued by the trees with doors in them. She stopped and knocked on every one she found. You really have to be on your toes with Caelia because she loves to explore. Chris is a really big help when it comes to watching Caelia. Sometimes you just have to take a rest. The middle of a path is just fine with Lera. If she is tired and she has decided to park herself somewhere, well then you can just move around her. Besides, she knows someone will pick her up soon enough. The Carousel is the world’s largest indoor carousel. It is beautiful and flashy and there is lots of music but you are not allowed to ride. Lera was miffed by this. By the way of all of the animals on the Carousel, there is not one horse. There is also this really creepy doorway but none of my kids were at all bothered by it, they are Halloween pros. You do a lot of walking and there are staircases that twist and turn and ramps that go every where. The mechanical room (just because I don’t know what else to call it) is quite the tangle. Loved all of the organs and adored the massive clocks with their clockworks showing. One of the things about any outing in our family is that as interesting as you find your surroundings, never, ever take you eyes off the girls. Caelia it is just best to keep hold of and Lera…well, Lera will walk with you but as soon as you glance away, she is trying to climb.And climb some more. Are you beginning to see how she earned the nickname “monkey butt” from her brother? This last video is of Miss Monkey climbing the gate that separates you from the music. Its not great quality but it gives you an idea on all of the sensory input that you receive on a tour.

August 8, 2009 – The stuff I forgot…

You may have noticed that Lera is missing some teeth. Two weeks after Caelia lost hers, Lera lost her front teeth. Three days apart. Unlike Caelia who paraded her teeth around like a pagan battle trophy, Lera swallowed hers. That’s right, SWALLOWED them. They were loose and then they were just gone. We never did find them.

Speaking of swallowing, Lera was raised in a good orphanage, was well nourished and cared for but she does have one really disturbing habit…she puts everything in her mouth. She doesn’t usually swallow but maybe that is because we make her spit out whatever we catch her with. She will also squat beside puddles like a little frog and drink out of said puddles. Its not because she is thirsty (we send her outside with a cup of juice) but because she really seems to like it. EWWW!

Caelia had her tonsils out and tubes put in her ears again. We spent 2 very long days in the hospital because in true Caeli fashion, she stubbornly refused to drink or eat. Actually, she refused to let them take her temperature under her arm either and anyone in scrubs was immediately cause for tears and kicking. She also very stubbornly refused to pee. She went for 10 hours without peeing and they were close to insisting on a catheter before she decided that she would go potty for mommy like a big girl. It was a wrestling match to get her temperature – I shudder to think what a catheter would have been like. Her doctors finally sent her home without the requisite drinking in the hope that we would not have to return in the evening because she was dehydrated. Of course, as soon as she was back to her domain, she started demanding popcicles and juice in true queenly manner. She really recovered nicely.

Both girls were seen at the Down Syndrome Clinic at Children’s Hospital and are doing well. Lera will be seeing an Endocrinologist very soon. You may have also noticed from pictures that Caeli is now several inches taller than Lera. We think she may be having thyroid issues – and yes, Caeli has been checked as well and her weight is the result of a love of nachos and a flakey thyroid. Not off enough to benefit from medicine but a constant battle with calories none the less.

Health is on my mind to today because everyone here is wickedly sick. Virus for most and bronchial pneumonia for Mom. Hopefully, we should all be recovered by next week.

I am also going to post more pictures from house on the rock. The kids had a really great time there and I discovered some really nice pictures that really show what an outing with the kids is like.

August 3, 2009 - The condensed version...

Ok, So I am a bit behind. OK, a lot behind. I have a whole bunch of things to share.

First, Caelia had a birthday. Can you believe that she is already 7 years? She has gotten to be such a big girl. She shares so well with Lera. She loves Dairy Queen ice cream but she seems to love Lera too. It is so sweet to she her share with Lera.
Lera and Caelia graduated from Kindergarten at the end of June. Caelia was very attentive and soaked up the attention. Lera devoted her attention to the juice box that she had liberated from the refreshment table. She was patient for half of the ceremony and then decided that she had better things to do – after all, Daddy, Mama and Michael were were visiting her school today.
Michael also celebrated a birthday. He is now officially a teenager. He got the big, extra special celebration because it was also time for our summer trip. Once again, we visited Wisconsin. And, as usual, we had an extra boy with us. Michael’s best friend Chris went with us to explore the waterparks of Wisconsin.
We visited House on the Rock and Wisconsin Dells. House on the Rock is very interesting and the girls were surprisingly patient with this strange experience. They really enjoyed the automated orchestras. Lera tried her best to catch a ride on the Carousel, but she was nabbed by security or family everytime. This is particularly funny because when we have taken her to ride on a Carousel, she wants to get off immediately. I really enjoy this place. As you can see by the pictures, it is an amazing place.

We experienced many waterparks and I was feeling extremely waterlogged by the time we returned home, but the kids loved it! Caelia and Lera were thrilled with the whole experience and did not show any signs of the trepidation that they had been showing at the pool back home. I guess if you add a cool looking slide, there is no such thing as fear.

Summer vacation disappears fast when you finish on June 25th and start back on July 27th. That’s right. My babies are in first grade! They seem really excited to be back at school but they are gone so long during the day that I feel kind of lost without them.. They attend school Monday through Thursday, so I always get a long weekend with them. I guess this means that I have no excuses for not working on the dozen or so projects that need my attention now.