May 03: Kids will be kids

3 � years old- this is a fun age. Theo and Madeline really keep us on our toes, laughing in amazement one minute and banging our heads against a brick wall the next.

Madeline's personality is really taking shape. She loves drawing pictures and singing. Her very favorite song is "You are my sunshine" and it melts our hearts!

Click for the video!

She speaks with an English accent - not the proper Queen-type, but more the East London taxi driver. She ends her statements with "innit." For example: "Dats a good idea, innit?" When asked to speak "like mommy," she'll come out in this horrible twangy drawl.

She loves anything pink and sparkly, and adores putting on make-up and earrings. Barbie is her passion.

Madeline loves to tell jokes and play tricks. Her favorite magic trick is to hold a battery in one hand behind her back and have you guess which hand it is in. Abracadabra! She switches the battery from hand to hand behind her back so that you can never guess correctly!

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Theo has a great American accent. His French is very good, but he easily gets confused. Those of you who speak French will get this scenario: Theo asks dad "quand est mon anniversaire?" (when is my birthday?). Dad replies "dans quatre mois" (in four months). An angry Theo says "pas toi! MOI!!" (not you, me). Dad says again, "dans quatre mois." Theo yells "no! pas toi, MOI!!!" This goes on several times until dad realizes that Theo is confused between "mois" (month) and "moi" (me), both pronounced the same.

We often call Theo "Mr. Sound Effects" because he is always running around doing, brmmmm, whirrrr, zoooooom, crash, wheeeeeeeee, whoooooooaaaaaahhhh!

Theo adores cooking and can competently use the mixer and crack an egg. He loves being with mom, and will follow her around the house asking, �mom, can I be with you?� He is extremely polite and formally apologizes for any wrong doings. For example, when I found Mickey Mouse stickers stuck all over the furniture, walls and doors, he looked at me with puppy dog eyes and said, �I sorry mommy, I habologize, I not never do it again, I still love you."

He is eager to be a �big boy� and always tries to play with older children. One afternoon in the local playground, he went right up to two boys, about age 10, and asked if he could play with them. They

tried to brush him off with comments about him being little, but he stuck to his ground. �But I am a big boy! I can run fast and not fall down!� Then he looked at me across the sand box and yelled, �I�m a big boy, right mommy?� Yes you are my Theo.

His favorite word is �why� and he uses it a lot. Here's a typical conversation involving our current passion, bones: �Why do we have bones? Why can�t we see them? Why can�t we take them out of our

skin? Do we have bones in our eyes? Why not? Why doesn�t a worm have bones? Is the worm sad because she doesn�t have bones? Why?"

Theo and Madeline point to every stranger walking down the street and inquire �Has her got bones?� (small problem with the him/her/she/he/his/her thing).

They both love Tom and Jerry, much to the chagrin of mommy, who has to then explain that it really isn�t very nice to set each other on fire.� Happily, Sesame Street is a big favorite, too.

In fact, TV is taking up a good bit of their early morning lives. And commercials advertising toys are becoming a real nuisance. Every new toy is met with �Mommy can I get that?� �Mommy will you buy me that?� I thought I had the problem licked by replying �You have to ask dad,� but as he rightly objected, this put him in an awkward position every evening and weekend. Problem solved, we now say, �Let�s ask Grandpa.�

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Our day starts really early now, about 5:45 AM. Dad gets up at 6:10 and makes the twins breakfast and positions them in front of the TV. Invariably, the minute daddy walks out the door, Theo and Madeline come upstairs and ask a sleeping mommy to make them a different breakfast and change the TV channel. That done, mom heads up the stairs again for a few more minutes to doze. No less than 3 minutes later, they are both in bed asking if they can snuggle with me, promising �I not wake you up; I be willy willy quiet.� That usually means that within 20 seconds, someone will lick me and the other will jump on my stomach. Then someone will have the bright idea to go get the box of cheerios so they can have a snack in bed. Have you ever tried to sleep with a child loudly munching away in your ear? Now you know why I sometimes have cheerios in my hair.

We were having a real problem with night wakings. For a few months, (OK, I�ll come clean-more like a year), Madeline was waking up 4,5,6, even 7 times a night crying for mommy or daddy. A quick snuggle would send her right back to sleep but leave mom wide-eyed and sleep deprived.

We didn�t want to punish her for waking us up, and so kept looking for a solution to reward her when she

didn�t wake us up. She was too young to understand sticker charts or anything too long-term.

So after months of struggling, mom came up with a simple, yet brilliant idea. M & Ms! They worked great for potty training, so let's go get some more! That night I laid 4 M & Ms on the floor next to her bed (Theo went along for the ride and got four, too). I explained that each time she woke us up in the night, I would come and take one chocolate. They were both very excited about this.

Here is the result:

- 11 PM, Madeline screams out in her sleep �Don�t take my chocolates!�

- 1 AM, Madeline cries real tears, concerned that someone has taken her chocolates.

- 4 AM, Madeline has nightmares that the chocolates are hidden and she can�t find them.

- 5 AM I have to bring her a flashlight so she can keep an eye on the chocolates...

So far, no good.

The next night I explain that she absolutely cannot cry during the night, because the noise will wake up mommy. And if mommy wakes up, she will come and take one chocolate. Promises and good night kisses follow. At 3 AM, Madeline starts to cry. I yell through the wall �Do you want mommy to come and take your chocolate?� She replies with a loud �NO!� and a whimper and that�s it!

She then went for 9 nights straight without waking us up! The chocolates are now reduced to just one a night, and she very rarely wakes us up at night.

Late one night, on my way to bed, I noticed that both Theo and Madeline�s colorful chocolates were white. Apparently, temptation got the better of them and they had sucked all the color off, yet positioned them in exactly the same place! Anyway, we are so happy to have some decent sleep back. Well done, Madeline! And thanks Theo for going along with it all!

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Both kids eat pretty well. Madeline�s favorite foods (besides chocolate, cookies and chocolate ice cream) are corn, pasta with cheese, waffles, fish fingers, peaches, and water. Theo�s favorites (besides strawberry ice cream, and candy) are pizza with no sauce (just cheese), peas, bananas, peanut butter toast, and strawberry milk.

A spring time walk in rainy England

One afternoon while we were playing in the backyard, I gave them each a bowl of grated cheese for their snack. I came outside 5 minutes later and was delighted that both their bowls were empty. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed something bizarre in the flowers. Each flower had a piece of cheese in it. The kids smiled and explained that the flowers need to eat their cheese to help them grow!

One sunny afternoon in April, I held a special �Doll�s Easter Tea Party� for Madeline and 8 of her girlfriends. Each girl had to dress up in an Easter hat and bring her favorite doll. Madeline and her doll Carrie wore special matching dresses made by Mamie.

The girls indulged themselves in pretty little cakes and pink cookies, washed down with �tea� in their own, personalized teacups. In the meantime, Theo was taken to his best friend Danny�s house for a boy�s pizza party.

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Our website wouldn�t be complete without at least one new country we�ve visited. This time it was Iceland.

Magical, mysterious, and frankly a bit bizarre, this country had a lot to offer us during our two-week stay in April. We saw geysers explode, soaked in hot springs, went whale watching , 4 wheel driving through the lava fields, marveled at powerful waterfalls and rugged coastline. What a fantastic adventure!

Because everything is imported, Iceland is an expensive country. Have you ever paid $12 (�9) for a McDonald�s Big Mac? We have.

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We also spent a long weekend in the Beaujolais region of France, near Lyon, where Virginie, Stephane and their baby Paulin live.

We had glorious weather and magnificent French vineyard scenery, topped with delicious food.

Theo drinks...

... and crashes the family�s car:

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We have had three new babies in our lives:

- First-timers Sara and Scott Levy are the proud parents of Sascha

- Lisa and BJ Johnson welcomed their second child, Fiamma

- Amy and my brother Mike will be bringing home baby Lia from China in just a few weeks!

And one on the way��

- Virginie, Gontran�s sister, will have her second baby in November!

Congratulations to you all.

Sascha

In the next update�.

- Mom and the twins go to California!

- The world meets a new addition to the Matey family: Lia!

- Summer vacation in the south of France!

- The twins start a new pre-school!

Paulin & the twins

Have a great summer and we�ll be back soon!