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Saturday, August 31, 2013

First Week of School

At Shalva once again, but what is he doing here?
This is my stomping grounds.

Even my classmates were wondering what this little
kid was doing here. So embarrassing!

On his first day of school, Lucas actually came to my school. It was like "Bring your kid brother to School" day, which can be socially challenging for an older brother. He played with us, ate with us, and then colored with us until it was time to go home. The truth is, mommy and abba couldn't be two places at one time and all schools start on the same day around the country. So the whole family escorted me to Shalva. Mommy and abba went to meetings while we played during the short two-hour day to reacquaint ourselves with school.

Lucas was playing with my toys

He was invited into all my activities

But truthfully, only I got to return the next day...

...and have a reunion with my friends!

Lucas had his first day the following day. At first he was understandably perplexed. He made a big transition from the loving arms of his Peruvian grandmother at his former daycare to a sprawling classroom with about 10 crying babies who were all as equally perplexed as he. However, Lucas quickly made the assessment that the toys in his new school were awesome!

In fact, he didn't cry until mommy came back a few hours later to pick him up and drag him away from his new toys and new friends. He didn't quite fare the same the following days as he did cry a little with separation anxiety. But as per usual he also cried when mommy arrived to tear him away from his the toys.

Lucas quickly adjusted

And made friends!

And he found that even objects deemed illegal in my home
were on the okay-to-play-with list at his new school -
like cameras and phones!
As usual, the first days of school are harder for the parents than they are for us young ones. We are resilient, but parents are bowed down by years of experience and memories not to mention the prospect of us babies moving onward in life which somehow - even though they are sleep deprived and in need of years of vacation - can be a sad transition for adults to watch. Nevertheless, nothing will stop us as we graduate onward in life!

Monday, August 26, 2013

The Summer of our (dis)Content

Does someone here look discontent?

I think not!
Our summer read sort of like a John Steinbeck novel. But in the end, the truth is, Lucas and I had a lot of fun and weren't really discontent at all. Mommy and abba, amid dragging us away from electrical outlets and peeling us back from windowsills, managed to take us on some adventures. We went to a pool twice and a bird safari in the heart of Tel Aviv among other fun things.

And in the end, we all survived! And we broke no bones! We had zero trips to the doctor and we will be returning to school with all our appendages.

Despite those facts, mommy deemed the summer less of a success. She had prepared flashcards and intelligence enhancing games but in the end all she could do was chase us - usually in two separate directions - in an attempt to prevent us from killing ourselves. Never mind make little geniuses out of us! We took care of that anyway by developing our own science projects and engineering feats (see previous blogs for details).

Lucas enjoyed the bird safari. Most of the time.

I enjoyed the playground there...

...And a nice picnic
So tomorrow we head back to school already. I will be in the pioneer class of Shalva's brand new nursery school! I know what awaits me, especially the hugs and kisses as I make my grand re-entry. And of course stellar therapies and happy teachers and volunteers all around me. Though I am going to miss harrassing mommy every day while she tried to carry on a job, I am very excited about going back to school!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Take Your Child to Work Day! Er, Month

Look who has invaded the home office!
Who says no drinking on the job??
For about three weeks a year here in Israel there is no school, no day care, no summer camps, no babysitters available anywhere in the country and, if you are Lucas and I, no available grandmothers to take over for the beleaguered parents. These three weeks strike fear and panic into the hearts of the working class populace throughout the country.

It means that either myriads of parents must take off from work or plan their family vacations at this crucial time. Or that myriads of kids go to work with their parents instead.

And the latter is exactly what Lucas and I have done. Mommy works from home, so we have been going to work with her every minute of every day.

Mommy recalls working at offices during her pre-children days with the vague memory and understanding of a childless person. In this hazy recollection, she can picture the children of her coworkers sitting at vacant desks in offices trying hard to occupy themselves with coloring books or electronic games for a really stretched out five to six hours a day. The work day graciously, but unofficially, shrinks in the summer as workers with kids surrender early while the childless workers are happy to see the bored-out-of-their minds munchkins go home so they can put in a few quiet hours of work before retiring themselves.

But that is mommy's problem: Since she can't leave the "office," her day is neither shrunken nor gracious. Instead it is multiplied with meals on demand, DVD rotations, foul diapers and the constant refereeing of two wild and crazy babies who enjoy hanging out the window as much as they enjoy plugging in the lamp behind the sofa. And this in addition to her work.

But what little apprentices we are! Not only have learned much under mommy's tutelage, but we have stretched her own multitasking skills to lengths she never knew were possible! For instance, one day while she was on an important conference call, like little lambs we stayed very quiet while setting to work rearranging all the sofa cushions, plugging in the lamp and unplugging it several times, and then even opening the only UN-barred window in the apartment! So, mommy multitasked a heart attack as well during the conference call while deftly answering questions about image placement and navigation bars for a new website!

Note: Despite 100-degree weather, the windows are shut

Cushion removal gives us better access to the lamp
on the small windowsill behind the sofa

That windowsill (far right) makes a perfect perch
for a small child!
But its amazing the difference a day can make. After expending all our destructive powers in one day yesterday, we very agreeably approached today. We were even calm enough to help make our own lunch - wholewheat pizza! With veggies (that we removed)! From (almost) scratch! Thank you bread machine for doing the hard work of kneading.

Mommy was brave, letting us touch flour and the dough,
even sauce and cheese of which there could be no
photos without a messy camera

Even though we aren't at school we addressed sensory
issues in a way by playing with dough

...And eating it too!

And then we enjoyed the fruit of our labor

A lot

You can see in the following video that our engineering endeavors trump eating, despite how sumptuous we made that meal look. When called to meal time (mam-mam), we continued working on our electrical skills. While mommy rolled tape.

All in all, a wonderful summer vacation!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Show (off) and Tell at Shalva

My performance at OT

Having successfully graduated from Shalva's daycare just a week ago, I suddenly find myself at home day in and day out since Shalva is closed for summer break.

So that means it's mommy and abba's turns to put into action over the next few weeks all of the tricks that they learned from my teachers, which I taught them. Naturally.

But what it does not mean is that I will sleep any later than 6 to 6:30 a.m. Our day begins with the sunrise as Lucas and I wake each other up, yelling at one another in our special language from bed to bed, loud enough as well to wake up mommy and abba, Lucie the cat, and any one within a square mile radius. We can't help it - our roots are Mediterranean and our blood runs hot and loud. After we are sufficiently awake, we then we proceed to strip our beds down to the sheets and even the mattress guards beneath them tossing all this extraneous material overboard into a pile on the floor. Every. Single. Day.

Nevertheless, I digress. Here is a small smorgasbord of my activities at Shalva in the previous months. I mean, why let a few good photos and videos go to waste? Plus mommy and abba need a refresher!

My OT teacher Lirit wasn't all about work,
sometimes we got to go for a swing!

I was privy to the finest toys!

I love my teacher, Reut!

I mean, really really love her!

It wasn't all work - I earned a bit of a green thumb as well

And mommy got a nice bouquet!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The DNA of Discoverers: Engineering Babies, part III

Great minds dress their children alike...

...even by accident. This particular day, being non-morning people,
mommy and abba did just that with no knowledge of what the other
parent did. It was pre-coffee.

Our shirts say "I (pizza slice decal, presumably 'love') pizza"

Which came first - the t-shirt or its truth?
Never were truer words ever emblazoned on a t-shirt
We were quiet. Too quiet. That alerted our parents that something must be wrong. Abba snuck in behind us.

This is what he saw: Both Lucas and I standing near the wall, heads cocked to the side, deep in contemplation. Electrical cord in one hand (I won't say who's), but two babies, as one, willing the prongs to align properly into the socket.

"What are you doing?" Abba's voice pierced the moment, ending our quest for a proper plug in.

Abba quickly shut down the operation. "But did you get a picture first?" Mommy asked. (Priorities.)

We can't help it. God made us this way. The curiosity of discoverers and engineers has imbued our DNA. Long has the Spirit of the Schiavi Brothers come to rest on Lucas and I. See, we take after GongGong and his younger brother Anthony. GongGong was an electrical engineer for decades and now runs a vast network of computers - two big hobbies of Lucas and mine. And Uncle Anthony was a chemist in the making, running experiments - preferably on his bed - with chemicals he requested that his brother sneak out of the school labs. Well, at that time, he didn't have to "sneak" chemicals out of labs because in those days experiments with chemicals were usually run on beds, not public spaces.

Uncle Anthony was blessed that his own children, John and David, had their own version of the Spirit of the Schiavi Brothers rest upon them. They certainly had their own tales of dissecting computers, downloading fatal viruses onto them, quoting key lines from cartoons even in church ("What's he got there - corn liquor?" Johnny asked of the priest during communion) and creating other public spectacles, sometimes with relatives from Italy present - a big faux pas in that culture (between tears: "Grandma, mommy choked me! It's not right to choke a little child!").

Then there is also Gianni, first cousin of GongGong and Anthony, who had his own share of engineering techniques like experimenting with vanishing ink for the first time ever on his mother's brand new white couch. Luckily the vanishing part of the name lived up to expectations, although it was a tense few minutes as Gianni waited out his fate with Zia Adele, his mother. He says he never prayed so hard in his life.

No matter what their eventual career choices, these relatives of mine liked to get into the nitty gritty of how things worked - and that usually meant to take those things apart. Or to light firecrackers indoors in a box next to your father's bed. Or set the curtains on fire. Or aim rubber-tipped cannons at freshly painted white walls in the house in order to assess one's aim.

Lucas and I still have much to aspire to!

Lucas apprenticed with a carpenter one day at the market

Actually he stalked him. Naturally.