Nettles update: fourteen months

Sugar and spice and everything nice, that’s what little girls are made of… 

…in your weird outdated genderized dreams.

This little girl is made of naughty grins, cunning eyes, plans to hatch, to get a rise.

A hand over here, a hand over there, another fistful of big sister’s hair.

You want to be big, you’ve got a loud roar, at the very least you could try to help out more.

Play on, Nettles.

Best 6th birthday party idea ever: Go take a hike!

tiyul partyWe brought you superhero explorers… we brought you dinosaur adventures… this year, it was a birthday party on a hike. And this was by far the easiest and best and most all-around enjoyable birthday party that we’ve done so far.

We are fortunate to live within a nature area, and in our town itself, right in the center, is a valley with a hiking path through it and a beautiful park at the top. So we planned that Koala could pick 3-4 friends, and, along with his sisters and parents, do a hike from the bottom – starting with lunch at the horse farm – up to the top, ending with cake at the flower park.

Turns out I prepared more activities than were necessary, which I’m more than happy to not have done. The central focus was on the scavenger hunt and the hike itself. Here’s what I prepped:

  • Equipment: Each kid brought their own hat and empty backpack, and I filled them with a bottle of water, a packet of homemade trail mix, and a magnifying glass. 
  • Scavenger hunt: Everyone got a ‘guide’ with pictures of things to find on the way. Bugs, birds, flowers, other bits and pieces. Each kid also got stickers, so they could mark each item they found. Turns out we found those items, and more, and this was the most engaging bit. 
  • S’mores! Since we weren’t building a fire, and we’re also not in s’more country, I hacked it by bringing tea biscuits, marshmallows, and chocolate spread. I explained to the kids about s’mores, they all stared at me, and stuffed their faces. 
  • Nature tape bracelets: I had actually prepared for two ‘artsy’ projects for the end of the trail, but the ‘rubbing tree bark’ with crayons and paper didn’t really work out. What was cool was the nature tape bracelets – we stuck packing tape around the kids’ wrists, with the sticky side up, and they went around collecting flower pedals, small rocks, dirt, and let’s face it, hilarious forms of garbage, to stick on their ‘bracelet’. 

The best part about a format like this is to leave room for surprises along the way –

I think the keys to this for us were:

  • Keep it small. Realizing over the years my son has a harder time being the center of attention in large groups, letting him choose 3-4 friends created a situation with good chemistry and less pressure. Also, for a hike with two adults, the amount of kids to look after was perfect.
  • Keep it comfortable. Everyone had their own water and trail mix for whenever they needed, and we made plenty of water stops. The s’mores were the biggest stop on the way, and light enough not to ruin the mood for cake at the very end.
  • Keep it simple. I worried we’d speed through the trail and get to the park too quickly, but I must have completely forgotten that kids age 4-6 years old will stop and stare at EVERYTHING. It was a great amount of time to be out.

We had a great time, and came home to no mess in the house (well, except the usual). I highly recommend the same for your own spring/fall babies!

Koala update: six years

Six years – six years a force in my life, six years a mom. Six years old, Koala. Six means:

  • you are going to first grade in four months
  • you are asking a lot of questions but answering a lot of mine
  • this is the last Koala Update I write before you will begin to know how to read.

On your birthday this year, I’m offering six things to take with you, to hold close, as you finish your last year in kindergarten and begin your journey through grade school.

1. With great curiosity, comes great – why do plants have roots, Ima? 

Here’s how much curiosity you are packed with: In the time it takes your sister to get dressed, teeth brushed, shoes on, hair done, waiting at the top of the stairs for you, you have one – yes, just one – leg through your underpants. The reason, without fail, is because you have been into space and back, and have prepared a list of completely unconnected questions to ask right now in this moment. The moment between when the first leg goes in the underwear, before the second one does.

I wouldn’t trade that for the world, but I would implore that perhaps you look deep inside yourself and find the capability to multitask just a little so we get to school on time next year.

2. Get your hands dirty and make mistakes

This past year, I taught you what a pencil eraser is for. Through your tears and sweat of frustration, you saw the logic in this technology and you used it with vigor. I also introduced you to white out – once – because you had drawn a great picture but realized you couldn’t find a solution for the marker mistakes.

The thing about erasers and white out, is, they don’t turn back time, and they don’t leave a blank slate. Mistakes will always be made, and things will get blemished. But are we worse for the wear? This is what growing up is about – we experience, we became a little more full and also a little blemished.

The cuts and scrapes on your knees will tell a story for days to come. You may or may not have a scar on your face from a friendly fight – another experience to pocket.

You struggle with out-of-order and imperfection but hopefully you will come to see there is really no order, and perfection can be found in just that.

3. Use that big head and be proactive

  

In the last few months, there are two modes: the days when you assume you’ve got some kind of blue blood, and others where you’re begging to help around the house.

We’ve grabbed the reigns of the latter and have let you/told you to aspire to help, to do your share, to take care of your sisters, to lead by example.

Guess what? That’s only going to become more of a theme here. Our family grew. Both of your parents have full time jobs. And more than anyone who lives in this residence, you leave your stuff scattered around in organized yet haphazard piles throughout the house.

Now grab a broom.

4. Be kind to the people who love you 

While I remember the day you were born like it was yesterday, your sister worships every day she spends with you. I promise you – this will not last forever. And you don’t need me to tell you that in the last half year she has mustered up quite some sass – it’s no longer a one-way street. And that’s natural, and that’s good. And it will make for a much better sparring partner throughout the years.

Please, Koala. Please be kind to the people who love you. I work on it myself as I say this to you. Let’s get better at this together. It’s a fleeting thing in siblings, trust me. You may never know unconditional love from a peer like you have right now from Bebe.

5. There’s only so much I can give you, but it’s a lot  

Here’s an example of something I haven’t thought about in decades: elementary school. And it’s slowly creeping up on me that suddenly I will be thinking about it a lot more.

It’s where I painstakingly learned Hebrew. And multiplication. And what cliques are.

So, yeah, the thought of you entering the jungle with a few pencils and a Spiderman backpack completely freaks me out.

Is this a do-over for me? Absolutely not. I think the most I can do is encourage you and support you and be there for you as you trek through this stage of childhood.

6. Let it all out 

You know this already, but I don’t hesitate to say it again. There’s no sound in the world like when you laugh.

When you really laugh.

When the funny thing you heard or saw or thought or said has gone deep inside you, planted roots, those roots started tickling your insides, and your whole respiratory system is now erupting in laughter.

So you know how to let it all out. What I want you to try is to let it all out even when you’re not 100% comfortable. It won’t always be comfortable, but there will always be cause for feeling free.

There’s nothing about you to hold back, Koala. We’re always here, waiting for whatever you have next. Just let it out.

Nettles update: thirteen months

13 months. 13 things I hope you will keep doing.

  1. Playing in the dirt
  2. Saying ‘hello’ when I hand you a ‘telephone’
  3. Hide and seek with your shirt 
  4. Climbing over your siblings
  5. Claiming what’s rightfully yours 
  6. Cuddling us
  7. Rumbling on the bed with the blankets and pillows
  8. EATING AND NOT GIVING A $#*%@! 
  9. Taking what you want 
  10. Giggling, snorting, cackling
  11. Enjoying the breeze on your face 
  12. Contemplating everything with the seeming wisdom of a 105-year-old woman 
  13. Watching the world, wide-eyed 

Loose tooth, lose control.

So now I understand why the tooth fairy is a thing. I had dismissed it as bullshit but I take that back now, because six years is in no way even close to the amount of parenting time where you can sit back, put your feet up, and act like you’re the shit.*

*there is, I’m guessing, pretty much no point in parenting when you can do that. 

Koala’s first wiggly tooth had been wiggly for… quite some time. We actually only discovered it was wiggly at the dentist – a few months ago. The same visit where the dentist pointed in the back of his front bottom tooth and said “hey, mom, how long has that adult tooth been waiting there?” and I had no idea what she was talking about.

Anyway, he had plenty of prep time. And also I lost count of how many times he said to us, “feel my wiggly tooth!” At least three times a day. Which is more than you’re meant to actually brush your teeth so he is plenty diligent.

But alas, I suppose there is no such thing as enough preparation for your first time. When you’re Koala.

The boy was so traumatized by his tooth falling out suddenly, yesterday, after months – moaning – literally writhing in shock and moaning, “but Ima, I wasn’t ready!” He was just completely taken by it. He had lost control over a body part. And it had simply up and left.

Doesn’t that sound terrifying?

So, yes, I told him that maybe there is this thing I’ve heard of, this, well, tooth fairy, and I don’t completely understand how she works, but, well, I kinda remember losing some teeth and putting the tooth under my pillow and finding a surprise in the morning.

And now Koala has savings account opened for a new soccer ball.

And who am I to stop a kid from learning some financial savvy?

No better Israel education than the one from your sabra kids

Things I love about Independence Day season in Israel:

  • Every year – without fail – I manage to learn something new from my kids.
  • This morning, all dressed up for the gan celebration, on the way to the car, my gan-aged kids broke out into song together.
  • I asked them to teach it to me.
  • By the time we got to gan, we were all three singing it together.
  • The song – Eretz Yisrael Sheli Yaffa v’Gam Porachat – was stuck in my head by the time I pulled away from gan.

 ארץ ישראל שלי יפה וגם פורחת 
מילים ולחן: דתיה בן דור

ארץ ישראל שלי יפה וגם פורחת
מי בנה ומי נטע
כולנו ביחד
אני בניתי בית בארץ ישראל
אז יש לנו ארץ
ויש לנו בית בארץ ישראל

ארץ ישראל שלי יפה וגם פורחת
מי בנה ומי נטע
כולנו ביחד
אני נטעתי עץ בארץ ישראל
אז יש לנו ארץ
ויש לנו בית
ויש לנו עץ בארץ ישראל

ארץ ישראל שלי יפה וגם פורחת
מי בנה ומי נטע
כולנו ביחד
אני סללתי כביש בארץ ישראל
אז יש לנו ארץ
ויש לנו בית
ויש לנו עץ
ויש לנו כביש בארץ ישראל

ארץ ישראל שלי יפה וגם פורחת
מי בנה ומי נטע
כולנו ביחד
אני בניתי גשר בארץ ישראל
אז יש לנו ארץ
ויש לנו בית
ויש לנו עץ
ויש לנו כביש
ויש לנו גשר בארץ ישראל

ארץ ישראל שלי יפה וגם פורחת
מי בנה ומי נטע
כולנו ביחד
אני חיברתי שיר בארץ ישראל
אז יש לנו ארץ
ויש לנו בית
ויש לנו עץ
ויש לנו כביש
ויש לנו גשר
ויש לנו שיר על ארץ ישראל

Bebe update: four years

New to the Bebe show? Here’s what you missed. 

Four years ago I became a mom for the second time – to a quiet, sleepy, cuddly bebe. Nicknamed by her older brother before she was born, Bebe is also who made me mother to a daughter.

I often feel that while I teach my firstborn a lot – because he asks, because he listens – since she showed up, Bebe has actually been teaching me.

There’s something about you, Bebe, inherently, that makes it so natural and easy for you to give. Here are a few things you’ve brought to me in the last six months.

Next stop: Makeup Princess Kingdom

I had heard it was inevitable. I had heard I must suck it up. I heard it would come, and it would pass.

And still, before I knew it, it had already snuck up on us. First there were the hair accessories. The preference for dresses. It had crept into the house in the form of rubber bracelets, plastic rings, cheap nail polish.

Then, last Purim morning, after months of wanting to dress up as Hello Kitty, after getting your face paint sorted out (all over your face, while calling it makeup,) it came. You asked to be something else. You said the p-word.

So here we are, at Makeup Junction. Princess Parkway. I actually like giving you licence to explore paints, powders and gels (on your face). And if I remove all the girly and non-girly rhetoric of today, I remember that I, too, loved mixing and matching jewelry and hair clips.

I’m ok with it. I’m ok with it. I’m ok with it.

So fill up my old Caboodle (!), since princess or not, you still manage to keep –

Walking your own way

You wouldn’t be one of us if you weren’t a weirdo.

It’s not that you’re a total outlier. You peek around to see what other kids are doing. You hang back if it’s too new, too fast, too in-your-face.

But then I catch you – when you forget to check that anyone else was doing it, when you lose yourself in the moment – I catch you just doing it your own way…

You’re willing to hear me out

I’m not an extremist in any direction, and that’s, bottom line, really all I’d want to pass on for my kids. You’re young, so who knows how it’ll turn out.

But for now, at this point, though often it feels you are already a pre-teen, you are willing to hear me out. If I’m suggesting an outfit, if I’m offering advice on which page to color, if I’m discussing the merits of going into a career where you’re not just a princess but the princess OF [something specific and productive], you listen. Sometimes you stick to your opinion. Sometimes you take me on. And it goes both ways.

I guess I’m learning to try and be accepting. That I have hopes you’ll accept the challenge of making it as far as you want as a female in this world. That you could go as far or in any direction you want, really. That’s what’s important to me. I hope it will be important to you.

And then, you started speaking up

Growing up, over and over, all I ever heard was ‘speak up!’

When I realized I had started saying it to you, it freaked me out a little.

But after a mix of growing a bit older, having Koala as an older brother, have a baby sister, and overcoming some bilingual challenges, you have started speaking up. You’ll tell me a story with incredible detail. You’ll tell us you don’t like something, and why, and please, ima and abba, stop doing it.

And there’s always been a little sass in your back pocket. I love it. And you need it – everyone needs a little sass. So keep it close, use it when appropriate. You’re being heard.

Bebe, here’s to another year of learning and growing, of telling me what is and what isn’t, of teaching me how to be and how to give and how to love. I have a lot more to learn and I know that you have a lot more to give.

 

 

Nettles update: twelve months

Nettles,

We did it! We made it to one! You’re still a functioning human baby and I’m still a functioning mother of three!

You’ve experienced much beyond your year. A busy home life! Job interviews! Two trips abroad! Two snows – make that three snows – make that a ton of snow between two countries! Exhausted mother bumping you into things! Siblings stepping on your head!

You destroy things, but you also build.

When you enjoy food, you really enjoy food.

You’re feeling out nature (without eating it all the time).

You’re talking back to us, to the dogs, to the walls, to the pacifiers, to the occasional Sesame Street.

You’re one of the gang.

I remember seeing you the first time like it was an hour ago. My first thought was, ‘it’s a girl?!’ and my second thought was ‘hahahaha your awkward first photo is going to haunt you.’

And then, just like that, like a puzzle piece, like a booster seat strap, you snapped right in… to my arms, to our daily routine, to our car (thank you Diono) and to our family life.

Keep wide-eyed, keep growing, keep laughing with us Nettles.