This year has brought some big changes to Gisele's life. First she lost her beloved "only child" status with the birth of Malcolm and Vaughn this January, then she had to mentally prepare herself for the start of kindergarten, and now she has to move from the only home she's ever known to a larger house with a pool. How has she fared amidst all this chaos? Not well. Read on...

We went to the library recently and met a librarian who commented that she was Gisele's age when her own twin brothers were born. I exclaimed that it must have been fun (knowing that it couldn't have been), and she answered, "Life was never the same", in a dead sort of voice. I felt a pang of guilt, but it was soon replaced by the feeling that I needed to get the cranky babies out of the library. I gathered my two books, "Taming the Spirited Child" and "Setting Limits with your Strong-Willed Child" and left.

Yes, there have been some marked changes in the way Gisele approaches her day. While she's always been "temperamental", since the intruders came along she's often filled with rage and defiance. She'll growl and scream if something upsets her, and she has a snarly attitude (which I think she got from moi). If she's in the middle of doing something wrong like, say, trying to kick a baby, I'll threaten all sorts of things if she won't stop, and then carry them out when she inevitably doesn't. We always make sure to carry out our threats (taking toys away, time outs, early bedtimes), but it never makes her stop. Oddly enough, when the rules come from outside the family she slavishly follows them and reminds other people to do the same.She's either going to grow up to be a police officer, or a criminal. Some say there's a fine line between the two, after all.

On the brighter side, Gisele has used her lack of parental attention to develop her talent as an author. She'll spend half an hour out of sight (she insists on privacy when working) making stapled books. She'll draw all the pictures first and then dictate to us the words to write. Her stories and vocabulary are very sophisticated. I think her best work is a story called "Geode". It's a tragedy about a geode whose brother is cracked open by a little girl, and the subsequent daring escape of Geode and her sister through a mouse hole. There are also stories about Squeaky the alien and a girl named Stardust who likes to climb.

I can't read to Gisele as often anymore, but Nels manages to, and for quite a few months she's wanted to read Harry Potter books. We didn't think she'd want to read past the first book, but she quickly became obsessed with the wizarding world and we're currently in the middle of book 5. Sometimes she'll say that she doesn't think that she's a witch because she hasn't made anything magical happen. Even though she logically knows that there's no such thing as magic, I can tell that she wishes that there really was a Hogwarts that she could attend. As the books become more mature, her interest is waning, but she incorporates Harry Potter into her play. She loves to pretend to be Harry Potter while I look on, astounded that she's flying on a broomstick and doing magic. Just today she put on homemade pipe cleaner glasses, Nels' t-shirt, and she had me draw a lightning bolt on her forehead to look like Harry Potter. She then whizzed around the neighborhood on her scooter.

As time goes on, the babies are beginning to grow on Gisele. They do love watching her flit around talking in her loud way, and we found out that Malcolm laughs hysterically when she shrugs her shoulders and says "huh?". Hopefully Malcolm hasn't realized that Gisele's favorite baby is Vaughn. She has an outdated opinion that Vaughn is the happy fun baby, but I've tried to explain that Malcolm has changed a lot since he was 6 weeks old and he is a very cheerful baby. Gisele isn't always biased towards Vaughn, though. She has noticed that he tends to steal toys from Malcolm, and when he does she tells him that he's going to Baby Jail.

Cousin Connection

George and Anne have had some exciting changes this year, too. In May, they gained a stepfather named Tomas. Tomas' parents hail from Spain, and he's introducing us all to Spanish delicacies such as really old ham and canned mussels. Papa Gillot seems to be the only one brave enough to partake.

Anne and George have gained some step-siblings as well. Tom is 13 and Maria is 9. Tom and Maria enjoy making complex plans that are sneaky in nature. They once spent days on a plan to break into Tomas and Annick's bedroom in the middle of the night. Tom woke Maria and George up in the dead of night, but Anne just wanted to sleep. The plan was foiled when Annick and Tomas heard rustling sounds coming from their closet.

Anne, Maria, and Gisele - Tomas - Tom

Another big change for George and Anne is that they no longer call Carlsbad home and now live in a rambling 1958 ranch house in Vista. Their condo in Carlsbad was cramped and had no yard, but Annick and Tomas' new home has half an acre of dirt and bugs. The kids are loving it, as you can see in the pictures. Annick and Tomas obtained the house through a short sale, so there is plenty of yardwork and housework to be done.

When the Salmon-Gillot family moved into their new house, they found that it hadn't yet been vacated. It was inhabited by a city of ants. They've spent countless hours squishing ants and cleaning surfaces in the house, but the ants persist. The ant-hatred is contagious and Anne and George are working on plans to defeat the ant invasion. They realize that they are hopelessly outnumbered, so they're capturing small beetles and training them to become an ant-killing army. Anne wants to be able to perform surgery on injured beetle soldiers, so she told Annick of a plan to perform organ transplants on beetles to perfect her skills. Annick told her that it wouldn't be nice to the beetles but Anne explained that she has to practice.

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