Saturday, December 27, 2008

many faces of Christmas

The preschool Christmas celebration included dressing up as animal characters or some other character. The the suggestion in Erik's group was to dress up as a family. Gregg was willing to be the "man in the yellow hat" for the occasion as Erik wanted to be Curious George. (mama's part was sewing a costume together from various parts from the second hand store!)

Other parents found the easier solution as we did for David in getting a quick and easy (and inexpensive!)wolf costume. David's group was to wear costumes of animals from the wild. Then the games and poems they played and said were related to the forest.

"Senelis" (or Santa) and the parents were the ones they were performing for. A few of David's group said little poems by themselves, but mostly it was a group effort. in Erik's group they prepared individual ones and Erik did a good job in Lithuanian-like others with a few prompts from the teacher. The "senelis" really has to work on those days and it is not just about hearing what children want for christmas. He leads games and listens to their poems for a good half hour! Locally children are trained that they must say their poems and be good to get their gifts.

On "Kuchios" or Christmas eve we had a very scaled down version of the traditional 12 dishes without meat. we stayed away from the traditional "silke" - herring since none of us particularly like it.

On Christmas day we had breakfast and told the Christmas story with the ceramic figures. Then we opened gifts and then headed to Silute for the church service. It turned out quite nice. The boys also participated by doing motions and attempting to sing and kids Christmas song in Lithuanianwith some young ladies who are starting to lead Sunday school. We had some refreshments after the service and the atmosphere was warm and it was just really good to be there.

Sometimes other years after coming home from Silute we were a bit sad with everyone going to families and we to a very quiet house for a few days. But this time was different of course with the boys. And after naps we also went to a gathering of people at LCC who are around for the holidays without family. That included some students from farther away like Albania, Kosovo, Africa, Kyrgystan and so on. Our boys were the only little children, but they had a good time. There was a gift exchange (white elephant style) and by the end I was able to exchange for a gift that was intended for us- Tupperware popsicle makers!

Sunday, December 21, 2008

They did it!

it was a bit of wait and see whether the boys would participate in the program today. Erik froze when we did the rehearsal. Seems the costumes scared him. We switched gears a bit and adapted so Gregg was wearing the older shepherd costume instead of mama, and this helped. And we gave them incentives for doing what they were to do in the program. They were still squirmy little boys, but they were quiet. And having them there served the purpose, both for exposure to the nativity story for them and a few more cute faces and antics for everyone else!

This has been an interested week with various comments and behaviors. Erik usually asks when we come in the door now where I am going to put my shoes (We have a few little carpets out to put shoes on by the door so wetness and dirt do not go through the house) And he wanted to put his right next to mine.

Erik seems to be accepting his identity and past a little bit more, at least I thought so from this conversation:
Erik: I like "darzelis" (preschool) We ne sleep there. I like the other grupe (baby house) too. We sleep there.
Mama: yeah, you slept there, but then mommy and daddy came to take you home with us.
Erik: why did you take us home?
Mama: because we liked you and we wanted you to come and be in our family.
Erik: I want kita else (someone else) to take me home.
Mama: why?
Erik: I want kita else like me.
It is hard to know what all he was thinking and the communication is still mixed languages. He does not have full language capacity to express what he wants for his age. But he tries. it just really takes some concentration to understand. It seems from his tone while talking that he feels more at ease with his Lithuanian identity and that he realizes we are different than the other Lithuanians around, especially in Darzelis (preshool) I would like to be a mouse to see if he is talking about it there or if others are making comparisons of what he does and says to the way things are done in Lithuanian culture. There would be a few noticable differences in behaviorsthe boys have picked up from us by now. But perhaps the most noticable one is language. And Erik is probably the only one that cannot recite a poem with the rest of the group... though who knows- Tuesday is the program and maybe he will.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

why don't you have a baby

Well, it is the season for a large number of our friends in Lithuania, and some in the US to be waiting for and having babies. Two were born in the last 2 weeks. So, we are having conversations that did not come up before. How does the baby get out? I want you to have a baby, why don't you have a baby mama? Somehow the connection is not there yet to ask about their own birth Maybe it will come when we give them picture books this Christmas from their early years- pictures given from the baby house. We have little baby pictures for David but not for Erik.

We are working on the second verse of "Away in a manger" for a Christmas program with other expats here at LCC in their "international" church.

And for preschool we are working on costumes and learning poems- a different kind of tradition for the season. We found an inexpensive suit for a wolf at a store yesterday that David was pleased with, so one is accounted for. Erik is interested in being curious George- who is basically unknown here. And one of us parents should be the man in the yellow hat. One of the mothers in Erik's group came up with the idea for parents to dress up with the kids. The program is on the 23rd in the afternoon. First David's group at 1:30 and then Erik's group at 2:30 and the parents of Erik's group are to hang around with refreshments for kids and teachers afterward. Fortunately we both have off work at LCC that day.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Our entertainers

We got the OK for David to go back to preschool and he returned on Friday. That evening we also had a Christmas program at LCC. It is always at the beginning of December since students are not around the week before Christmas and soon they will have Final exams for the end our our semester.

With practicing for Away in the Manger (the boys were in a children's group) and seeing decorations around, it seemed the right time to get our Nativity scene out- a ceramic one we got on dicount last year- only to realize later it had no Mary and 4 wise men! :) But the boys used the figures to play and maybe we will find a better on this year.

Gregg was asked to sing in the small choir, just a couple of days before. And the boys had rehearsal on Thursday night too. It turned out to be a busy week.
They did a good job at the rehearsal, walking in as instructed and they also knew motions to the song that noone else knew- but it really helped to keep them focused.
But for all the good planning, what happened on Friday was something quite different!

We'll include a video here (sorry these clips sown together are rather dark). We did not have candles on the stage during practice. we'll let you see what happens- until I turned off the camera to get the boys attention.
(In the middle is a short clip of our family when we thought we were getting pictures taken- and video was on instead)

What we failed to get to get was the little victory dance that Erik did when he succeeded in blowing candles out- they had 3 out before I got to them. And the crowd roared. People thought that was the best part of the program- certainly they've made a "name" for themselves!

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Just rain

Well the snow is over. Now we are back to cloudiness, rain and ever shortening days.
The past week has been a blur. With the sickness and a few extra errands I had promised that I could not reschedule-before I knew what would happen in our house, I was too busy. And I needed to roast a turkey. Fortunately Gregg saw things for what they were and encouraged me to catch up on sleep after the Thanksgiving meal was over on Saturday.

David is still at home. On Friday we went to the Dr. and got antibiotics among other recommended meds and we return on Thursday. So that will be 2 weeks out of preschool, and it is for things like this that we have needed to keep our schedules such that one of us can cancel our activities and be home during the day.

But during that time, David has done a nice amount of little projects at home, has learned some computer "games" on the site and he does really well with matching shapes in pictures!

At the LCC Thanksgiving event, coloring pages were provided for the children and Erik really did a great job on coloring his pumpkin. He had help for the suggested colors, but otherwise this is the best independent work he's done.

We also had this fun little "conversation" tonight to share by video. There are a lot of really cute things happening for the past few weeks as the boys' language facility expands- and telling about it does not really give the whole story! I guess we still understand more than the average person just listening since they do mix Languages- and compete for attention talking over each other! Should have named this one- "When I was a little boy"!