6 Years!

The family has settled in nicely into our new Oceanside home, and Gisele is enjoying the first days of first grade. She's making friends at her new school, and has neighbor girls that she plays with, too. The babies are a joy to her now, and she has a pet cat! Things are going pretty darn well!

In the last update that I wrote almost a year ago, I noted that Gisele had become an angry little girl who would be set off by the smallest irritations. I now know that the changes were temporary and were undoubtedly caused by the changes that the twins wrought on our household. Things were very rough with Malcolm and Vaughn, and Gisele wasn't getting any attention from me anymore. But as the babies have grown older and more interactive, Gisele has become enamored by them. They're now 18 months and she plays with them all the time. While I put Vaughn down for a nap, Gisele stays in her room with Malcolm and plays with her dolls with him. She talks to him in her baby voice (an exaggeration of the voice I use)to give him instructions on what to do with the dolls and he listens intently and tries to please.

Gisele loves to play with Vaughn, too, but she plays differently with him. They like to rough house on the bed and she chases him sometimes. She does often accidentally hurt him, but he doesn't usually mind and always comes back for more.

Overall she is extremely caring and nurturing towards them. She hates to see them cry and tries to settle their disputes (generally giving Malcolm back whatever toy Vaughn has stolen from him). She coos over the cute things they do and she always alerts me when one of them has peed or pooped on the floor. She even lets them take food off of her plate. She proudly refers to herself as my little helper, and she really is.

Gisele's interests haven't changed much; she's still nuts for Harry Potter books. This summer she went to Harry Potter camp, she still acts out Harry Potter-themed stories at night with Nels, and she's halfway through listening to book 6. A newer interest involves roly polies. We have an infestation of them in my garden, to Gisele's delight, and she's always trying to take care of them. She told me seriously that she could be a roly poly doctor because she can understand their needs. She'll right them when stuck on their backs and clean dirt off of them. She'll take containers of dirt and plant weeds in them and try to decorate them with rocks and such, and then make ramps for the roly polies to enter at will and play in the playground or eat in the cafeteria. She had to abandon the last roly poly hotel due to an ant invasion.

Because we have a pool (money pit), Gisele learned how to swim this summer. She pretty much doggy paddles around, trying desperately to keep her head above water. Even though it tires her, she swims all around the pool now without using rings and such. If nothing else, the pool does provide a lot of exercise. Oh, and future skin cancer.

The new school year has begun, and Gisele had to mentally prepare herself for a new school: Casita Elementary. It's a science/math magnet and will be different from her kindergarten school. She took the news surprisingly well considering that she doesn't like math and science.

Back to school shopping will be tricky due to Gisele's eccentric style. For one thing, she only wears dresses. The dresses must be made of cotton knit fabric and must be worn with tight shorts underneath that she calls "bloomers". She's very particular that these shorts be mid-thigh, tight, and made of stretchy cotton knit fabric. If she's wearing shoes that require socks, the socks must be knee socks. I made the mistake of buying her brown adult knee socks once and they come up over her knee like gartered stockings would. To me, they look like part of a streetwalker's gettup, but there's no way that I can explain to Gisele that there's anything wrong with them without getting into an inappropriate discussion.

Earlier this year, when Gisele was still five, she joined Daisies, which is the youngest group of Girl Scouts (she has since become a Brownie) Auntie Noodle is the leader of Troop 4284 , and Anne, of course, is in the troop, too. Annick is a firm, but fun troop leader, and the meetings are at her house every other week.

A while ago, after Daisies had first started, Gisele wanted to make a troop of her own. She started an "Ivy" troop with me and Nels as the members. She put a surprising amount of effort into it over quite a few months. Every sunday, when the babies napped, she would go into the back yard and call out "It's time for Ivy! It's time for Ivy" until Nels and I dragged ourselves out to meet her. She would hand us envelopes that she'd made, and in them would be our uniforms (paper clip necklaces and projects from our last Ivy meeting. Next, she'd direct us to a table set up with our next project; usually something to color in, or a puzzle she'd made. The whole time she'd stay in character by calling us by our first names and telling us what to do. Then she's announce recess and we'd play in the yard. By this time I'd be getting pretty impatient for it all to end. But, no, we had to close the meeting out with some songs and by returning our necklaces and envelopes. Gisele had planned to bridge us to the next level, called, Skunk Spray, but she finally lost interest.

Cousin Connection

Anne and George have been enjoying the summer, too. Annick and Tomas take them camping often, and they also do fun things like kayaking and Legoland, and all sorts of active activities. They've spent a month in the Bay area at their dad's new digs, going to summer camp during the day while he works. Anne is about to enter first grade, and George fourth at Beaumont Elementary .

This is George's second year as a Cub Scout. Annick enjoys taking him to meetings and helping him earn badges, but there was one badge she had to outsource to the grandparents. It involved going to church and doing other godly activities that don't jive with Annick's heathen heart. But she sure knows how to feed her boy! He's extremely tall and healthy. But it takes a lot to fuel this 9 year old. I know firsthand because every time he comes over to visit he asks me for food as soon as Annick's not around (she doesn't want him to beg). Sometimes he'll even ask me if there's any food that I'm trying to get rid of.

Just because George is big doesn't mean he's brave.He's long been afraid of all but the mildest of movies, and he does panic when climbing ladders or getting hurt, but now we can add "having blood drawn" to the list. All four kids, including Anne, Maria, and Tom, had to have a bit of blood drawn for a routine check-up recently. They all did fine except George, who behaved as if he was about to be murdered. He carried on loudly and had to be physically restrained by a couple of lab techs and Annick. Tomas was in the waiting room the whole time and revealed that people were laughing at George's dramatic pleas.

Anne is showing signs of unrest lately. She has to pick up after all her messes, big and little, and it's taken a toll. Now, whenever asked to do the smallest chore she'll resentfully mutter, "You make me do everything". She also complains about having her hair brushed. She'll say, "This is torture!", or "You always brush my hair!". And she still has many warrented complaints about George bothering her.

Anne is exhibiting other signs of a hard life. She's missing 5 teeth, whether from scurvy or fist fights we don't know. Through it all she depends on her pet chicken, Thin Mint, to lift her spirits. Each of the kids has a chicken, but Anne and Thin Mint share a special bond. Anne carries her around the coop under her arm while her other hand is filled with chicken food and placed strategically under Thin Mint's beak. She'll happily eat and seems to enjoy being carried around for quite a while. To keep the hens happy, the kids also spend time finding bugs and depositing them through the wires of the coop. There are nearly a dozen hens, most of them immature, and we're eagerly awaiting a bounty of eggs, some of which will be blue!

Anne and George are nothing if not practical, and they've come up with a commonsense approach to curing their aphid woes. Because they are just 2 kids, they have decided to enlist help. The help of ladybugs. But you can't just depend upon millions of years of evolution to make ladybugs capable of eating aphids, they must be trained by Anne and George to become killing machines. They have a breeding ground for ladybugs that I don't want to hear more about. And if this mission is a success, George plans to use the ladybug army to invade Mexico to assist with the drug war and high crime rates that he's heard about.

Anne has spent a lot of time on the important matter of uniforms. She's made paper sashes for herself and George that are color-coded to denote rank and position. She relies on glue and bingo dobbers usually. Just yesterday Anne decided to make herself a school crossing guard uniform. First, she used a piece of paper to measure her back, and then glued the parts together to make a vest. She even made a hat. Today she'll work on the stop sign so that she'll better be able to control family members as they try to make their way down the hallway.

I have to say that the Gillot/Salmon household has become very sneaky over the months. At birthdays, George, Anne and Maria request spy gear as top choices for presents. They are now equipped with motion detectors, night vision goggles, walkie talkies, safes, you name it! Yesterday, when Anne was in Gisele's room, I heard her ask if the baby monitor in the room was on. They came to the incorrect conclusion that it was off. Annick and I listened avidly at the other end. We heard them worry about people walking by and hearing them through the door; we heard them whispering about a plan. Level 1 of the plan (and I should say that this was all Anne's idea) involved them waking up early, before 7am, putting warm clothes on, and walking around the house. Dastardly! What's next? I shudder to think where this will all lead.

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