Friday, June 26, 2015

Ramadaan: We're all fasting

It's my first day of Ramadan back with the kids so they're adjusting to my fasting. Zahra had no idea that anything is up other than I refuse to share popcorn with her. Grrrrr.

Zayd has been interesting... sometimes it seems like he gets it.
"Mom, no lunch for me. I'm fasting."
I then explain that little kids don't fast, only adults or almost adults.

But then there is also lots of this:
Z1: "I'm going to put my shoes on in a hurry because I'm fasting."

Z1: "You can't be fasting; you're a girl."

He swears he doesn't mean "fast"...

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Spelling Bee

Zayd is on the cusp of having a breakthrough with reading and spelling. I definitely need to get myself in gear and figure out the leap from phonics and letter sounds to reading.

Lately, he spells everything. Mostly, is non-sensical: "Mom, I can spell Avengers: P-I-P-O. Avengers." I have taken note that his delivery method is an exact repeat of mine which is an exact repeat of Ms Payal Patel (circa 1999?). I was never a competitive speller but I remember helping that lovely lady practice during "lunch". Anyway, he is interested in letters and the sounds they make. All of his art (mostly "maps") all peppered with random letters. While he can write his name he prefers to write many many letters, ask me what it spells and call himself that. Today, we signed a get well card for uncle Jon,  "PHEFR" and then called Zayd Fefr for fifteen minutes. It's more exiting than using the same letters over and over again.

Last week we had two spelling breakthroughs while visiting with AJ during UTSA orientation. I had built up the excitement of going to college all week. I explained that after Montessori, they will do elementary, after that middle school... up through college. After attending AJ's high school graduation, we kind of understood what was happening.  I also answer Zayd's daily inquiry, "But when do I not have to go to school anymore???," with a patient, "After you finish college."

First, while reading the signs all around us,  Zayd exclaims, "Mom! I think I can spell college! UTSA! College!" Adorable.

Later, while perusing the side of his chocolate milk he said, "Hey mom! This says 'No' on my milk! Does it say no four year olds, only five year olds?" (He's convinced he's five this week, and I'm letting him go with it.) It actually said "No Hormones! No antibiotics!" I was super proud and so was he!

I think the fact that he is actively looking for words to read means I need to get my butt in gear!! So, moms of readers and/or teachers. What do I do? How do I help him develop these nascent skills while making sure he enjoys this discovery process!?

Lastly, in case you weren't convinced he's the brightest bulb in the whole wide world, as we were driving of campus, he hopefully asked, "Now that I've been to college, do I not have to go to school anymore??" What a tricky young man.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Happiest Place on Earth (Particularly for Mama Mammen)

My goodness, what a whirlwind. THough it seems like months ago now, we four Mammens recently travelled to Orlando to see big sister Rachel graduate from high school AND meet Mickey Mouse. (Who could ask for anything more!?)

This travel was some of the easiest we have ever had. The kids enjoyed their plane time, marveled at how fast we were going, and nicely shared the iPad. #winning I just can't figure out why they each have to pay for their own seat. Obviously, we had room to spare on these flights. (And, yes, those are ring pops. My mom sent them to the kids LAST easter, circa 2014, and I have been waiting for the perfect time to give them to the Z's. It turns out a 3 hour plane ride + ring pop means they will be quiet the whole time!)

We got in late but had to run around our resort like kids at Disney. The property was whimsical and the kids LOVED it.

Apparently, Zahra knows who Goofy is?!

Can you find my kiddos next to their heroes?

The next day, we woke early and headed to Downtown Disney. A definite (free) highlight was the play room at the Lego store.

We also enjoyed taking the ferry boat across the lake to get some lunch.

The next day, we enjoyed some time at the pool even though Zahra never even got in. I was surprised by how timid she was and how Zayd kept talking about swimming lessons at Ms. Diana's. It was quite the role reversal.

Really, could they be any cuter??

We eventually found our way to the baby pool and Zahra was in heaven.

I suppose Zayd was pretty thrilled too.

And mommy found it an excellent option as well.

#ileftmybookintheroom #noooooo!

That night, we headed to the Boardwalk by the Epcot Resort area. We spent the first thirty minutes biking around the lake in a cycle built for four. 

Look at all of those teeth!

By nightfall, we were all mesmerized by an awesome street performer and his magnificent assistant. I was shocked at how confidently Zayd strode up to help the man out. THEN I was completely blown away by the swagger he had as he returned to us in the audience after successfully balancing a spinning bowl, spinning hat, and spinning ball up on the "stage".

We decided to start the next morning at the Wilderness Lodge for a remarkably fun and festive country breakfast at Whispering Canyon Cafe. I highly recommend this unique option!

And we cashed in on our free putt putt coupons at Fantasia Miniature Golf and Zahra, somehow, hit two hole in ones. (??)

The next day was all about family. We headed out to Cocoa Beach to celebrate Rachel and her remarkable high school career. It was fantastic to get to know new family and let the kids wild out in a homey backyard while spending hours and hours with our favorite - Rachel.

And lastly, after days and days of fun, we tackled Magic Kingdom. I was beyond nervous when Mickey's train got stuck and he managed to miss the Welcome Party but we soon made up for it (to Zayd) with fast passes for Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, and Buzz Light Year. Sadly, Zahra hated Disney World until clear after naptime, though the two events are probably more related than her feelings about actual "rides". Zahra didn't like any of the rides where it got dark, or they entered a place she couldn't see from the starting point. We actually had to resort to watching YouTube on Buzz Light Year or I thought she might hyperventilate from fear. :(  Dumbo ended up being a hit, as was Aladdin's Flying Carpets.

I actually let this little lolly steer us around the race track and manned the pedal for her.
We might both have whiplash, but we sure had fun!

I love Ephalumps and Woozles. (Zahra was sobbing - whoops!)

Look at that baby fat in her cheeks! It is pictures like this that remind me that despite all that she can do, she still is pretty little. That and the crying during Winnie the Pooh.

After a dozen rides, two parades, nap, and hours and hours of fun, we got to the main event: meeting Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, and Eeyore. It was truly magical. Zayd asked insightful questions: "Where is Owl? Is he stuck with Mickey?" "Why do bears like honey?" and Zahra was delighted (DELIGHTED! FINALLY!) to see Piglet. I was also mesmerized. I can't remember anything about Magic Kingdom from my childhood EXCEPT Jon trying to pull the sword out of the Sword in the Stone, my parents knowing ALL OF THE COUNTRIES in It's a Small World and thinking they were so smart, the stocks in Frontierland (I think) and the Crystal Palace where we dined with Winnie. One of the most De Ja Vu moments came when I saw how the waitresses were dressed, in the exact same outfits they were wearing in 1991.

After lunch/dinner (its a huge buffet!), we split up girls and boys so they could have some adventure and we could return to play in the Dumbo play waiting area.

One of my favorites!
Just before we called it a night, we celebrated a front row family ride on "It's a Small World." I did a LOT of convincing with Zahra to get her to willingly agree to it. "It's about little kids who live in different parts of the world and like to sing. Are you little? Do you like to look at the globe? Do you love singing? Then this is perfect for you!" Throughout the whole ride, Zahra kept turning to me and Sam and proudly boasting, "Look! I am not crying!"

Super early the next morning, we boarded planes and made our way back to Texas. It was a short but awesome trip to Florida, with the perfect mix of family and Disney craziness. I can't wait to go back!

Look at how short her little legs are!