Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Let’s Count the Pink People!

First Friends - Reunited!

Whoots of excitement rang through the house, the night I read in email that the Welser’s were coming for a visit. It turns out that Roger had a conference in Seattle during the summer months. Need I say more? This is the opportunity that we had been hoping would happen for the last four years - a chance to catch up, admire our growing families and give our girls, once cribmates, the chance to get reacquainted. Secretly, I think both Karen and I had always hoped that they would become friends, harboring the romantic idea that like cousins, their visits might not be often, but their relationship would become genuine and lasting.

“Wanna play dress-up?”

“I love dress-up!”

“Me too!” ...had the girls off and running toward the appropriate closet giggling and laughing from the start. While entertaining themselves, they discovered that they both have definite opinions about things, with Devi struggling from time to time with use of kind words and the understanding of what it means to have guests, making sharing with yet another girl (other than her sister) seem utterly "unfair" - a term we hear a lot.

Both girls are bright, articulate and competitive, and so throughout the week they managed to learn ways to resolve most of their conflict with little parental intervention, albeit not necessarily fair or sound, it worked for them. When they weren’t a Disney princess (Ariel, Rapunzel or Jasmine come to mind) they often addressed each other as “sister”, or could be caught whispering and sharing secrets. Side by side at our dinner table of nine, Jenya whispered, "Lets count the pink people", which sounded like a good idea to Devi and together they silently acknowledged each pink person's head with a slightly concealed pointed index finger as their lips moved indicating the sum. This brought candid adult laughter, but also was one of the first signs that our girls seem to be aware of their connection, and gladly it appears to go a bit deeper than their obvious physical similarities.

This is not to say that there were not countless challenges considering whose hair was longer, who was taller, and who could dance or sing the best, but both girls understand that they knew each other, cuddling in the same crib, before even meeting their mommy’s, daddy’s and brothers. This thought baffles me as I would think it would be such a hard concept to grasp, but these two beauties seem to possess a healthy amount of self esteem and the facts about how they came to be a Ross or a Welser were discussed openly between them throughout the visit. One conversation had the girls comparing notes, discovering that both families even had to ride an elephant to get to where they lived.

Acting like monkeys!

Another of these candid and precious moments came at the Woodland Park zoo, while the two girls admired a tree kangaroo. The dosset at the exhibit, a grandma to many children herself, engaged the girls asking the obvious, “Are you two twins?” The conversation that proceeded was priceless as the girls eagerly chatted with her. Devi and Jenya, blurted out the facts in tag team fashion describing themselves as Indian princesses, who were 4 and a HALF. They were not born here, but on the other side of the world in India. Fact after fact was spilled and the dosset drank it all in. The exchange was so very cute.

Slumbering together was an impossible task but the girls did manage to have a “Slumber party” of sorts reading books and playing with stuffed animals, all the while jabbering and whispering away on sleeping bags in the playroom. We let them stay up longer than normal, hoping some kind of resting was going on upstairs, before declaring the party over and escorting each of them, yawning and exhausted to their own beds for actual slumber time.

Other highlights were chocolate fondue dessert, dancing together at the farmer’s market, decorating crowns, blowing bubbles and making their own pizzas. The better part of one afternoon was spent shredding grass seed off the weeds in the vacant lot adjacent to our house and carefully laying them in a rectangular Tupperware dish. The collective effort produced the most comfortable fairy nest I’ve ever laid eyes on :).

As for the rest of us, we fell right in step as if we have lived next door to each other for years. Something about our families just clicks. This feeling was all too familiar and reminiscent of our first India trip together. It still strikes me as strange that after casual chatting via email while waiting the 18 months for the referral of our children, we became friends on opposite coasts, not meeting face to face until we were half way around the world at the US Embassy. Once there, we discovered a connection that lead to comfortably booking our hotel rooms with an adjoining door. This same level of comfort was present this trip as we loosely made arrangements for outings and meals with little or no planning with emphasis on just hanging out and catching up. These kinds of friendships come few and far between, and we feel so incredibly blessed to know the Welser family.

Treya took a shine to the Welser men. I say men, because in four years Andrew and Evan have matured into the nicest young and budding teenagers. They've always been polite and respectful, but now you can see the beginnings of the men they will become and it was a delight to converse, tease and laugh with them. Who knew that simply offering chocolate fondue dessert would raise my rank on Andrew's "friend meter" ten points! I suppose it is no surprise then why Treya was so smitten by all three of them, offering hugs of condolences to the loser of a game of pool and finding a very comfortable spot on Mr. Roger’s hip or shoulders for most of their stay, announcing “Up, peas!” as often as she could. Watching her continue to blossom in the presence of friends was so fun as she was coaxed into saying new words making them laugh over some of her mispronunciations and goofy ways.

Crown making! Notice the similarities!

Sporting Ms. Karen's famous upside down braids while making pizzas

The boys, Pat and Roger included, took in a Sounders game, thanks to the generosity of a soccer-connected friend of the Welser’s. They also spent an afternoon at the Museum of Flight that had all them chattering away about their favorite planes when they returned. Because our house is very girl oriented, I was concerned that boys would not find anything to do, but they did a great job of entertaining themselves and settling right in, making themselves at home and even helping to keep a watchful eye out for the girls too.

By the end of the visit, Karen and I were both doing double takes, for at a distance it was hard to tell our two 4 year olds apart, who had begun to dress and wear their hair alike. Upside down braids, the talent of Ms. Karen was a huge hit. Their voices and choice of words were even similar. I suppose it should come as no surprise that as their car drove away on our last morning together, there were some tears. Trailing off, amidst the enthusiastic waving, we heard the faint sound of Jenya yelling, “Remember...we are sisters!” and Devi yelling back, “I'm going to miss you, Jenya! I love you, Jenya!”

She was right. We miss you guys all ready and can't wait for another visit!!!!

Our Indian Princesses!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Let Me Entertain You!

With a little more grace, a pinch more poise, and a second full year of dance instruction under her belt, news of Devi’s “Little Dancers” recital filled our dinner time conversation as the June 18th performance date arrived. For weeks, I’ve been catching her quietly humming a tune, or unconsciously moving her arms and legs in what appeared to be choreographed movements. On the final rehearsal day, she proudly displayed two stamps on her wrists declaring herself prepared and ready.

Amazing what a year of maturity can add to a performance. The gaggle of girls and one boy, Rowan, (the one Devi claims she will marry one day) knew where to stand and what to do. They were great, dancing AND singing the music for all 4 numbers, with their faces intently watching Teacher Cat instructing from the back of the room.

A welcoming jazz tune was performed first in swirly silver glitter skirts, giving the audience a glimpse of just how accomplished our Little Dancer's have become, followed by a costume change and cute ballet number, complete with pink tulle tutus. It told the story of how they all dream to become dancers one day, and that anything is possible. "It's Terrific" was the tap dance that came next raising the volume level in the room 8 octaves with all that tapping. Indeed, it was terrific, but also gave insight as to why Devi has been trying so desperately to learn how to snap her fingers - a dance move - who knew? The grand finale was another jazz number danced to a Justin Bieber song. A little inappropriate for their age in my opinion, but the lyrics were tame and all was totally lost to the innocence and cuteness of them singing into plastic blow up microphones. They all felt so cool singing and dancing to a real rock-n-roll song.

Last year, Devi was a ham bone, but this year was all about precision and timing, which as we all know sometimes leads to missing a step or loosing the timing to the up beat, but no doubt supreme effort was shown. Adding to her frustration were the ever present costume malfunctions, with a waist still too slim to hold up a skirt or arms too skinny to keep an armband in place. At one point, her blow up microphone prop somehow managed to end up in the wrong hand, which had her turned around backwards. It was so hard to resist yelling out to her, but she quickly recovered on her own remaining unfazed by her mistake. During the more “free form” portions of a dance, her concentration eased a bit and you could see that huge white teethed grin appear and hear her yelling “weeeee” while jumping, lunging or swinging her arms. Her love of flitting about, otherwise known as dancing, is obvious.

Equally more difficult this year was the audience participation for Pat and I, this year not only manning a video camera, and SLR, but also providing supervision to Treya, the proud sister. Never still, it was remarkable to watch Treya become entranced by Devi as she began to dance. Her eyes were totally riveted on Devi, occasionally swaying to the music or swinging an arm in time to the music. At the end of each number, she would clap wildly and yell, “Yay, DeeDee!”

My heart swelled with pride over Devi’s job well done. The last few months have been hard for her, struggling with the changes in our household and trying to find comfort in her new big sister role in our family. To see her, now, standing amongst her peers, with such a bright smile, eager to perform for her family just made my checks ache from smiling. Great job pumpkin pie! We love you!!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Evolution of a Household

Devi at Kindermusic class playing her part in their orchestra.

The girls chose their own outfits for story time and coffee time.
Can you tell?

While I am no fashionista, I do like to leave the house with my girls looking just so. That is not to say they are wearing designer clothing or outfits that are to be worn once and then discarded. No, I just like the pieces of their clothing to be clean and coordinated, their hair to be combed - preferably with a matching accessory and for their faces and noses to be relatively free of their past meal.

To make this happen, every Sunday since Devi started attending daycare, I have planned out a weeks worth of clothing - including the hair bobble and socks - and laid them in 5 neat piles, one for each day for each girl. I enjoy this task, envisioning my precious girls in each outfit, knowing they are ready and prepared for the weather and activities planned for each day. Daddy appreciates that there is one less decision to be made each morning, as he is navigates the three of them from waking up to out the door on time.

For a while now, Devi has been choosing one outfit from the 5, deciding which one she would like to wear on any given day, satisfied with the variety I have selected. Suddenly, that is no longer acceptable to her, as she wants to wear something that is completely of her own choosing. After several morning tantrums over something as ridiculous as clothing, Pat and I decided it was time for the evolution of the morning routine.

To begin with, I rid her closet of all clothing that was not appropriate for preschool, or the weather we are currently having. This left only the things I would have chosen from anyway. The responsibility of what to wear and when to where it has become hers. There are four house rules.

1. You can not wear pajamas to school unless it is pajama day. (That amendment added by Dev, of course)

2. You can not wear the same thing two days in a row.

3. You can not take something out of the dirty clothes bin to wear.

4. You must wear clean underwear everyday.

I, in turn, have begun to grit my teeth and try to not be bothered by mis-matched tops and bottoms, or uncoordinated socks and tights or even, heaven forbid, open toed shoes on a rainy day. I am trying my best to only say things like, “It looks like you dressed yourself today. Good job, sweetie!”, knowing the battle over clothing is not worth the fight.

This week we put the new and improved routine into action and hope it has satisfied the pumpkin pie’s need for more control in her 4 and a HALF year old world, and rids poor daddy’s morning of the kicking and screaming. (And if I have not mentioned it, Treya also kicks and screams, copying Devi’s every move and utterance as she learns how to appropriately respond to new situations). Wish us all luck!

UPDATE: The first day she chose a dress and tights, but they presented a bit of a snag. Pat found her laying in a ball on the floor with no clothes on. Evidently, Devi had a hard time getting dressed because she was playing butterfly and she was in the chrysalis legs for tights!

Treya's blue suede shoes! Ponsetti blue shoes that is.

Treya’s routine has gone through an evolution too, as she no longer has a cast, but now wears corrective shoes at night, connected at the heels with a metal bar that snaps into place. We thought confinement of her legs and feet would be a hard transition, but she has taken it all in stride - pardon the pun. Treya is quite proud of her blue suede “special shoes” and shouts “bar, bar” at night to make sure we don’t forget to snap it into place.

Our Houdini continues to work her magic in the night, so wears her pajamas backward - zipping and snapping up the back. As for her shoes, she manages to loosen the straps, but has not mastered the buckles....YET!

Our one and only day warm enough for the pool. Thermometer spiked to a shivery 76 degrees. Both girls were determined to stay in even though they were shaking.

Three special ladies in my life. The one in the middle, Di Anna, is not only a good babysitter, but has been my friend since we were 8 years old.

My dad (Papa) and his friend Gail, snowbirds home for the summer, meet Treya for the first time.