After a year-long bout of sluggishness, here is Gisele's 3-and-a-half-year update, complete with text lovingly typed in by mama Janine.

Now that Gisele is getting older, she has more scheduled activities. On Mondays she has gymnastics, which she loves. Well, she doesn't love hanging from the bar that swings back and forth, and she usually screams on it until she drops off, but she likes the balance beam and trampoline. And I think she's inherited my teacher's pet gene because she's a stickler when it comes to following the rules. Once a classmate lagged behind at the trampoline and Gisele stayed with him and tried to convince him to come along with the rest of the class. To my shame, she is a compulsive line-cutter, though.

The above pictures are of Gisele with classmates from her cult-y Waldorf school. The picture on the left was taken on the night of Michaelmas when we had a lantern walk at Moonlight Beach. Groovy!

Playtime with Gisele is evolving a bit. Her current obsession is with acting out stories from her books. Oftentimes, after we read a story she'll say, "Well, shall we do this story?" She's a bit of a stage hog because she always takes the best part. So she's Cinderella, Dorothy, Alice, and now Mary Lennox from The Secret Garden (the picture book version). She'll say, "I'll be Mary, of course, and you can be all of the other parts". So I'm relegated to the crippled boy, Colin, and the maid, Martha. We perform the Secret Garden a few times per day and it takes about 15 minutes for our abridged version. Gisele's an eager actress, but she can't seem to handle the tough scenes where Colin yells at her. Instead of yelling back at Colin as Mary does in the story, Gisele becomes flustered and tries to reason with him. When Colin yells, "You have to come and visit me every day!" Gisele will reply, "Well, I mean, I might be busy in the garden that day".

All of my faithful readers know about Gisele's doll, Molly, and how she's Gisele's favorite doll and constant companion. Well, last month I left her behind at a local park and then didn't realize that she was lost until 2 days later. I put Gisele off for a week saying, "Oh, I'm sure she's around somewhere, we'll have to look for her later", but all the while Nels and I were launching major recovery offensives. We made "Lost Doll" signs with pictures of Molly and sent out mass emails. I posted to doll collector websites to find out what kind of doll Molly was so that I could replace her if need be. We heard back from a few people that Molly was sighted at various places in the park, but came to the conclusion that she was thrown out by gardeners (cold-hearted gardners who obviously care more about plants than little girls). Fortunately, we found a duplicate doll on ebay and paid twice the doll's original value for it. Now the real Molly was filthy and covered in band-aids and marking pen, so I had to tell Gisele that I had found the imposter Molly in the dryer and that was why she was so very clean. She hasn't noticed that the Molly's fingers and toes are now whole and no longer chewed off by our rats.

Speaking of the rats, when I wrote last year we had just come into possession of 4 elderly rats. We now have 1 rat left. He's almost 3, which is quite old for a rat, and despite some obvious physical challenges, he won't die. He's even had what I thought was a tumor a few months ago, and so I began planning what to do with the table his cage is sitting on. But the lump healed itself a couple of days later! This "miracle" didn't convince me of God's existence, however.

So what I'm trying to say here is that our rat is quite decrepit. Nels and I didn't believe that he could even haul himself up onto our bed even though our mattress is on the ground (so that the Precious one won't get hurt when she rolls off of it). We've been letting Colossus limp around the bedroom at night while Gisele sleeps thinking that he couldn't bother her. But one day we noticed fine scratches on one side of her face. We ruled out her fingernails as the culprits because she compulsively chews them off (it's stressful trying to decide which toy to play with next), so the only logical conclusion we could come to is that Colossus smelled the food residue on Gisele's face and dragged his scrapey little hands across her cheek in search of it. Well, we found another time for Colossus to exercise.

A certain sister of mine has complained that I unfairly use my website to propagandize Gisele while I portray her two children as war-mongers. Well, I just call them as I see them, and to illustrate how unbiased I am, I'll mention here that Gisele does sometimes lose her cool in a rather unladylike manner. She'll flail, scream, kick doors, etc., until she falls asleep or gives up. It really feels like a Jekyll and Hyde transformation because when she's her usual self she's as sweet as apple pie, but when she's possessed by a tantrum she is wild-eyed and makes guttural sounds and piercing screams. Thankfully, she reserves these outbursts for me and Nels.

The above left picture if of our new cat, Cobweb. We grew impatient waiting for Colossus to die and went to a local shelter to find ourselves a cat. She's a former stray who is about 6 years old. And she's a very sweet cat, I have to say. She's still a bit nervous around Gisele because Gisele makes sudden movements and talks loudly, but she's settling in nicely on the whole.

Now for a couple of fun Gisele quotes. She is still extremely vocal and animated, which is surprising considering that I'm her primary model. I'm not very good about writing things down that she says, but I have some recent quotes. Here's an example of her good grammar:

"You know, we keep meaning to look through the photo album of the more recent time we went to Canada. Yes, we should do that today."

And here's an example of a strange run-on sentence:

"As the day went on there arose such a clatter that everyone ran to their feet to see what was the matter, and what has happened but a puff of smoke got together to make a cloud person, and when they spoke to it, it didn't speak back."

And a simile!:

"She dressed herself so slowly. As slow as an old steam train."

Cousin Connection

I last wrote an update for Anne and George a year ago. Anne is, of course, 3 and half, and George is 6. We've all been waiting for George's interests to shift from military assault aircraft to something more benign (might I suggest stamp collecting?), but if anything he's become more entrenched in this world. It surely helps to have a grandfather who is a retired navy admiral to educate George on the capabilities of different missiles. George is amazingly knowledgeable about the statistics of fighter jets and bombs, and talks incessantly about them. He does have a blossoming new obsession, but be careful what you wish for because it's Darth Vader who flits through his daydreams.

Anne used to try to emulate her older brother, but she now spends much of her time chastising him. If he gets too close she'll say things like, "No! You're not allowed over here", and I hate to say it, but she even tries to get him in trouble for imagined hurts and things he didn't do. Is it any wonder that she was a police officer for Halloween? When in uniform she'll try to arrest people for smoking or driving too fast. And she loves to pretend to direct traffic with hand signals. But watch out for this cop-gone-bad because Anne wants to get her hands on nuclear weapons! When driving past an elementary school recently, Anne said that she wanted to drop a nuclear bomb on it. George said in a shocked tone "Anne!" then he continued, "Do you know how expensive nuclear bombs are!?" Ah, childhood.

In practice, George and Anne are peaceful vegetarians. George still loves golf and can hit the ball 170 yards at the driving range. Here's short video of his superb form: Swing And little Anne is learning grace at ballet class. At first she would always face the wrong way at the bar and use the wrong foot, happily oblivious of her faux pas, but she's improving. She even refers to herself as a ballerina. A ballerina who drops nuclear bombs.

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