Gisele's hair is still the same, but everything else about her has changed in the last 6 months!

Some of you may remember the old days when Nels and I would make fun of Gisele (slow to walk, skyrocketing weight gain, etc.), but no more! Gisele has become a super speaker. A couple of months ago she suddenly started putting sentences together, and now there's no stopping her. You can see her thinking as she constructs fairly elaborate sentences. Here's an example of something she said that is very typical for her: "Open your suitcase to find out what you have in there". Here's a longish sentence: "Gisele gave all the food to each person that lives down the street". And she knows how to use intangible words like "actually", "even", and "maybe". We can have real conversations now!

More amazing than Gisele's grammar is her steel-trap memory. She seems to have memorized large portions of her books. And we read her long books that can take 15 minutes to get through. Here's the oddest example: we bought a book that has 64 pages and about 20 words per page. We'd had the book 2 days when I was reading it and stopped to let my mind wander. Gisele prompted me by saying the next sentence perfectly. How is it possible that she could remember whole sentences from only hearing the book a few times? She recites from her older books a lot, but this really wowed us. She sure didn't get her memory from me. Another cute memory feat she has is reciting nursery rhymes that she's learned in her parent tot class. There's an example of one in the video section: videos
Gisele doesn't seem to be very well-rounded in her intelligence; she still can't count more than 2 objects, and she's pretty bad at puzzles. Nels despairs of making her into a chess champion.

Nels has always been a good daddy, but I have to say that he makes me look pretty bad. Yes, I interact with Gisele all day and half-heartedly play with her, but Nels thows himself into the task. Whenever the opportunity presents itself, Nels runs to the recycling bin and gets a piece of cardboard to transform into a sword, or a medal, or a kite, or a police ticket. He also relies a lot on playdough. He was proud the other day when Gisele couldn't find a toy and immediately looked to us to remake it out of playdough. The other day at the park, Nels was pretending to be a doctor, but had no patient. So he plopped his forearm down and pretended it was a sick baby. It's kind of sad to see Gisele earnestly believing any tale Nels cares to spin. I suppose now would be a good time to brainwash her to sell flowers at the airport.

Gisele can be mildly destructive; she sometimes tosses everything off of a table one piece at a time. But she has an overiding need for order. She compulsively closes cabinets and drawers and Nels noticed her straightening up the boxes on grocery shelves last weekend. Gisele has lots of little Playmobil people, as well as some wooden people, and she sets them up in interesting little scenes all over the house. It can be disconcerting to turn your head while sitting on the toilet, and see a perfectly lined up row of people standing on the edge of the vanity. Gisele's favorite kinds of games involve some sort of process. She loves writing pretend letters and putting them in a pretend mailbox, and she likes to gather together objects in her briefcase and announce that she's going to work. Her office is a box that my table saw came in, and besides "working" in it she regularly scrubs the outside of it with a scrubbing brush.

Weekdays with Gisele are exhausting because she wants constant interaction and leaves me only enough time to quickly check my email. Housework is still suffering, but I have found a more entertaining way to pass my evenings: making mermaid dolls. The dolls are made in the Waldorf style, so the faces are left fairly plain to encourage the imagination, and the materials used are all natural: Dolls .

Physically, Gisele is still growing like a weed. Her height is around the 90th percentile. Her weight has stayed pretty steady for the last year and she's now in the 30th percentile. This turkey isn't interested in food! And lest you think that she can't tolerate my weird vegan food, I'll have you know that she doesn't even like french fries very much. She prefers dried seaweed and macaroni with nutritional yeast flakes (really!)

Potty training hasn't really begun. This always surprises people when they see how often Gisele is naked. She does have a potty, and she'll sit on it if reminded, but if she's playing with something she'll just relieve herself wherever she is. If she happens to poop on the floor, she won't give me any warning, but she's kind enough to point it out right afterwards. Then she gets caught up in the excitement of racing to clean it up.

Cousin Connection

George and Anne have forged a special bond these last months. Hugs abound, and kisses are sometimes French. At night, in the family bed, George likes Anne to sleep on top of him. Annick tries to put a stop to these shenanigans when she can, but you'll remember from the last update that George has already declared his intention to marry Anne, so there's only so much she can do.

George has just turned 5 and has joined the ranks of the literate! Annick has a reading lesson with George each morning and he does a good job sounding out unfamiliar words. The homeschooling experiment seems to be working! Some of you may remember George's fascination with Neil Armstrong and all things space related. He's now interested in people who are a little drier and have no brains: mummies! Lately he's been mummifying dolls and pretending to take their brains out.

Annick is trying to save George from suffering through an unathletic childhood as she did. Presently, he is in gymnastics and track. But he doesn't seem to understand the all-importance of winning. He jogs slowly and is always the last runner on the track.

I regret having to write this, but according to Annick, Anne has grown into a bitch. She has started smacking her mommy when her wishes are not met quickly enough. When Annick was getting water for her recently, Anne started flailing around like a Hollywood child-actor, screaming, "Fill it up! Fill it up!". And her new favorite phrase is "I don't like it". Anne has also shown an unnatural attachment to her poop. She sometimes refers to it as her "friend" and gets upset when Annick tries to flush it down the toilet. It's just so sad that Annick and Mike have this little demon on their hands while Our Gisele is such a ray of sunshine.

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