Daniel is as cute as ever.  His speech continues to develop but he still has some cute sayings.


“Upslide down”

“e blitzli” (e bitzli – a little)


He can read the numbers on a die.


He usually puts his allowance (15 rappen for each dry night) in his savings because he likes to drop the coins in the slot, but once he kept it long enough to buy a doughnut at Lidl.  Joseph and Vivienne also bought a doughnut each that day.  It’s a good thing we go shopping in the morning when it’s not too busy. ;)


He zipped his sweater-jacket all by himself.

Posted by harp on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 at 8:59 pm | Edit
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Vivienne did a handstand (not against a wall).  She flops down into a semi-bridge and it looks painful, but she doesn’t seem to mind . . .


She read all the numbers on the 100 chart with just a little help at the multiples of ten.


She can hang by her knees on the brachiation ladder.


She can sing the ABC song.  Like the #’s she’s kind of picked things up without much direct work.  She doesn’t have the patience/obsession that her brothers do to learn these things, but clearly she learns them in her own way anyway.


“I want to be married with a kind of aminal flower on the ring.”


She learned to ride the bigger bike we got for her.


She can move from one rung of the brachiation to the next.  She did it with no swinging – just pure strength.



Goes the length of the brachiation ladder.


Rides Joseph’s bike (Joseph’s note).

Posted by harp on Saturday, June 4, 2016 at 11:27 am | Edit
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Ellie says “bye bye.”


Signs “potty” (though she hasn’t since).


Stood for 1 second without support.


Ellie waves and blows kisses (putting her hand over her mouth) when people say bye or tschuss.


She learned to crawl up and down whole flights of stairs.



I handed Ellie a blue rag (the kind we wipe spills off of the floor with) and she started wiping the floor and looked proud of herself.


“gave Joseph ball” – Joseph’s note.  Joseph “gave ball back to Ellie”


Ellie reached up to me and said “mamama.”  She often uses “mama” for me now.

Posted by harp on Monday, May 23, 2016 at 2:25 pm | Edit
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Daniel is still super cute, though we only have two notes on him this month.


April: He does and undoes a button.


May: He spilt some oatmeal and exclaimed “Look!  It’s Hawaii!”


He’s also made progress on the brachiation ladder.  He can hang longer and get to the rung that is second-out on his own.

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Joseph is in an origami phase again.  Grandma’s visit has also inspired another intense DuoLingo phase (German, French, Turkish – he deleted Swedish for reasons unknown).


He still loves comics.  After reading Asterix he was heard saying “What are you doing, you eye-dee-ott?”  I told him not to use the word but I didn’t correct the pronunciation . . .


When Stephan was putting the kids to bed alone Ellie needed all his attention so he asked Joseph to lead our nightly devotional – he did!


We still don’t do anything formal with math but Joseph ability continues to grow naturally from whatever topics come up in life.  This month he was able to calculate the 10% interest on the kids’ savings.  (I know it’s high interest, but we wanted the benefits to be visible.)


The brachiation ladder is a big hit with Joseph.  He can go the length, hang from his knees, sit on top, hang and pull his legs up to the next bar, and more.  It’s been fun to watch their strength and ability grow by leaps and bounds!


As he was folding a six-pointed star he sang to himself, “Twinkle, twinkle, six-sided star, how I wonder what you are.  Up above the world so high, like a six-sided diamond in the sky . . .”

Posted by harp on Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 2:38 pm | Edit
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It’s been an eventful month for Ellie.  The bad news she sleeps much worse than she ever did.  I blame the move and many other little factors.  I keep telling myself the baby and lack-of-sleep phase is almost over for us and to be patient with the bad and enjoy the good.


Ellie often prefers to sit in a V, only going back to the W when something (i.e. a sibling) threatens her stability.


She climbed up a few stairs earlier in the month and now she can go up a whole flight on her own and is so proud of herself.  I can no longer get work done with her awake because she goes straight to the stairs.  She does a good job, but the spiral nature of our stairs make them not fall-friendly.


She climbed all the way up the foam ramp we got her for Christmas.  I’m pretty convinced that that and the foam steps helped her learn stair-smarts and that’s why she’s doing so well with the stairs  (she knows to back down them).


She cruised along the balance beam.


She can drink from a sippy cup on her own, lifting it to her mouth enough for the water to come out.


She cruised from one object to the next.


She likes to walk with the rolling cart (not meant for kids) and does a great job balancing herself and falling down to her knees when it goes too fast.


In the past few days we’ve seen her let go and stand on her own for brief moments.  Will she be our earliest walker?


She is interacting with people more and more with big smiles and attempts at words.  She shakes her head for no and waves “bye bye.”


Despite being in disposable diapers her entire life (I was just too tired to try EC) she’s suddenly using the potty and has great awareness of her elimination needs.  I plan to stay relaxed about it, but it’s great that warmer months are coming so she can just go around in a cloth diaper without anything on her legs.  Siblings are inspiring, too, I’m sure.

Posted by harp on Sunday, April 24, 2016 at 3:10 pm | Edit
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Vivienne counted to 20 on her own without mistakes.  It took a few months, but she self-corrected the mistake she’s had for a long time.  So fun to see how different kids learn numbers!


She isn’t as interested in geography puzzles as her brothers, but she knows a fair amount nonetheless.  She did a US click-and-drag puzzle on ABCya.com on her own.


She tightened all the loose screws on the rolling cart on her own (I suggested she do it and gave her a screwdriver).


At the store the other day she picked out two croissants to buy with her own money.  She put it on the belt and paid for them herself then shared one with her brother.  I bought a croissant for me and Daniel so we would all have one when we got home.  Generosity inspires generosity.  Or are they spoiled?  I always see both sides . . .


Vivienne likes to sit at the edge of our yard looking at our neighbor’s yard, hoping to catch a glimpse of the 6-year-old girl M who lives there.  M also enjoy playing with her, so with the warmer weather they’ve been seeing each other more.  All the kids adore the neighbor kids, and the neighbor kids are great with them.  We are very thankful!


Stephan and Dad-o built a brachiation ladder for the kids room.  I can hardly believe this long-time dream of mine is complete!  The kids use it a bit throughout the day and their progress in just a few days is amazing!  Vivienne would climb up the side ladders but said she was too young to hang (she fell the first time she tried what Joseph did).  Now she swings back and forth and sits on top and climbs the length on top.  Daniel wouldn’t climb it at all, but now he can climb and hang from the first run both forwards and backwards and get back down on his own.  He’s climbed to the top and sat on it, too!  It is SO amazing what kids can do with time, no pressure to perform, and an interesting environment!  Thank you Daddy and Dad-o!!!!!

Posted by harp on Thursday, April 21, 2016 at 8:31 pm | Edit
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Gashes his right cheek on a book corner while diving after a toy car.  It’s healed now but has left an impressive scar.


Our memory verse is Matthew 11:28-30 and Daniel likes to “read” it after we’ve recited it.  He says “my yoke is easy and my bird is light.”


He can control the mouse for slecting what to watch on Grandma’s Treasure Chest.  His current favorite is the US States.  He can sing nearly the whole States song, with some confusion between the North Carolina and South Carolina parts.  He can do the puzzle, and loves it.



Daniel completed a two-step command to earn media time.  I told him to pee and then put the US puzzle together and he did!


Poor Daniel has hit hard when we were sick the end of March.  He slept a lot and was pretty miserable with a cough, fever and ear infection.  It’s lovely to have our lively Daniel back!



Daniel is still a ham and he loves getting a good laugh.  Since our visitors are here he’s be playing it up even more and it’s become clear that he can get away with some things he otherwise wouldn’t because he is so cute and hilarious.  He particularly likes getting a good laugh out of Dad-o.  They enjoy rough-housing together.  We’ll have to be careful it doesn’t turn into a discipline problem, though.


Any advice on dealing with cute kids that can charm their way into anyone’s heart and get away with stuff?

Posted by harp on Friday, April 15, 2016 at 7:33 am | Edit
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Our notes are pathetic.



Painted a heart.

Does a headstand.



Sings the alphabet song.


Vivienne is social, happy, caring, helpful, emotional, able, tall, and mostly a pleasure to be around.  She loves changing clothes and dressing up in the many dress-up dresses she has.  She continues to grow in many ways and has a big heart.  She is aware socially and very able verbally, expressing her feelings and relating stories.


This past week or so we were all quite sick.  Vivienne usually struggles the most with wining and wanting lots of help with things she can normally do, but when she was sick, she had a wonderful attitude and took care of many of her own needs.  She’s like me in that way – if she gets enough attention and sympathy then she faces struggles bravely, but if she doesn’t get enough she’ll make noise to get the attention she thinks she deserves.  She recovered the fastest of all of us, too.

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I was feeling down and the kids noticed.  I decided to answer honestly and said “Sometimes I don’t feel like a good mommy.”  I don’t want to burden the kids too often with that sort of statement, but this time Joseph and Vivienne answered “You’re a good mommy to me.”  So sweet.


Joseph remembered that Grandma had made him a treasure hunt for his birthday so he made clues for a treasure hunt for Vivienne’s birthday.


We got a balance beam from IKEA and he fell and hit his chin.  We went to the doctor, but of course he was fine.



Joseph to Vivienne: I want you to be unbelievable.  (Stephan, care to explain?)


Joseph can do a headstand.


“What’s a mozzarella fox?”  (He meant Mozilla Firefox)


He made a “hinonsplodierpistole” – some time of pistol inmade-up German.  In English he called it a “pie –stole.”



We went to a homeschool gathering over the border in Aargau for the first time and the kids loved it.  I was finally comfortable enough driving to make it out there on my own with the kids.  We’ve had the car a year now and I can’t believe how much progress I’ve made and how easily because I gave myself permission to be afraid and to practice a bit at a time.


We read Stuart Little out loud and Vivienne and Joseph were captivated.  They’ve grown so much since we tried to do read-alouds last year!  At the end Stuart drives north.  Joseph connected the dots, remembering that the story takes place in New York City and asked “Is Stuart driving to Vermont?”


In a fit of frustration I wanted to start keeping track of every time the kids disobeyed and use that against them when they asked for privileges like sweets or media time.  The training from the parenting course we took over a year ago came to mind and I racked my brain trying to think of a more positive way to encourage obedience.  I decided to write their names on the whiteboard and put a check every time they DID obey.  It didn’t end all struggles, but I was shocked how well it worked, especially since there is no reward for the checks, other than the positive acknowledgement that they did the right thing.  After a week of doing it I heard Joseph say, “I obey every day.”  I love that he sees himself as one who obeys and sometimes fails rather than one who is a “bad boy” who disobeys.  It’s also been good for me to be aware of all the times they do obey and not just sulk over the times when I feel I have no control.


Example School Project

We’ve been quite free with school so far this year.  So far it’s worked out just fine.  Here is an example of the kinds of projects he spontaneously works on because he has the space, time, and resources to do it.


Joseph is often at work early in the morning before I get up.  One day in March when I came down in the morning he asked me, “Mommy, what do they speak in The Central African Republic?”


I told him to look it up, so he pulled out his list of countries and languages I’d printed for him long ago when I got tired of answering “what language do they speak” questions.


He looked it up, then pulled out the atlas and found the list of poorest countries.  He decided to make money and give it to the poor so they can have food to eat.


“I’ll make money for the Liberian people because they are poor.”


He drew and cut out several varieties of bills.



He wanted to call Grandma to tell her what he had done but I told him Florida time was our time minus six hours and asked him what time it was in Florida.  He read the clock at 6:29am and determined that it was 12:29am and realized that Grandma would still be asleep and couldn’t Skype so he asked to write an email instead.


Then on his own he printed the email, got an envelope and looked at the stamps but was disappointed to see that the 1.90Fr stamps only had photos of Daniel and there were none of him (Stephan prints stamps with family photos of the post office site).  He asked Stephan to print some stamps with himself on them, and did so in German, stopping in the middle to ask what “print” was in German (was heisst “print” uf Dutsch).


Stephan couldn’t get to it right away so the project was postponed, but this is a good example of all the different subjects Joseph’s natural curiosity brings him in contact with.

Posted by harp on Friday, April 8, 2016 at 2:24 pm | Edit
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Ellie continues to expand her mobility.  She managed to get up to Daniel’s workspace by first holding onto a chair.

She started creeping (hands and knees) though it started more as a waddle and is now cross-pattern.

She ate a piece of oreo off the kitchen floor during one of our tea parties.

She got her upper right tooth



She got her upper left tooth.

She got her upper right incisor.

Sleep has been rough, see the above.

She started sitting up on her own in a W, or a Z.



She got her upper left incisor.


I’ve been too tired to continue working with her to stay in her playpen at night.  She goes to sleep there and takes naps there, but after she wakes up in the night she joins me in bed.  I’m actually enjoying the last bit of time when I get to snuggle with a baby in bed.  I know it won’t last forever.


She’s a happy patient baby, especially when we’re slow coming home on walks or she has to wait in the car while the rest of us get ready or unload.


The siblings adore her (and so do we). J

Posted by harp on Tuesday, March 15, 2016 at 7:40 am | Edit
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It’s hard to believe Daniel is only 2 ½.  He holds his own playing with his big siblings and is becoming downright eloquent in his speech.  He’s learning to calm down and use words when he’s upset, but because everyone (but me) thinks his whine is super cute he likes to use it.  As whines go, it’s cute, but I’d rather not encourage the habit.


Daniel is like his big brother in loving puzzles and games.  He can do the US States puzzle and knows many of their names.  He can spend hours a day on it, with or without someone by his side.


Since Christmas he has been without diapers day and night and now he is quite consistently dry at night (usually just holding it the whole time) and mostly okay during the day.  He get’s involved in his play, though, and doesn’t want to stop . . . fortunately when we’re out and about he’ll say when he needs to go or take care of it himself.


From our pathetic notes:



Daniel got out the Scotland Yard game and put it away mostly on his own.


He can put his socks and shoes on by himself, but mostly I neither of us has the patience to let him do it . . .


Daniel likes doing the North America puzzle.  (I should note that Joseph is in quite a phase of doing the geography puzzles, so that has influenced Vivienne and Daniel.)


“Ich will do-e by mini self-e.”  Still a favorite phase in all its variations.


We’ve started walking more as a family (up until now I’ve let them take their bikes, but I wanted to work on walking stamina).  We walked to the nearest Coop (50min there and 40min back) but Daniel stayed in the double stroller with Ellie.  Next time he was in the stroller on the way to Alpissimo restaurant but walked all the way back (about 40 minutes, 0.8 miles).

Posted by harp on Saturday, February 20, 2016 at 1:21 pm | Edit
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January 21st Vivienne turned four years and we celebrated with friends and family on the day.  Vivienne colored in many horse pictures and taped them up all over the apartment.  We made a pin-the-tail-on-the-horse but in the end didn’t use it.  The markers and horse outlines were enough to keep people entertained.


All the kids (8 not including Ellie) helped frost and decorate her birthday cupcakes (from a mix).  It was nice to be able to host a party with enough room for people to move around.  Vivienne got dresses and crafts and loves them all.


We also got her a balance beam and tap shoes (which still haven’t arrived!) and even though it went well the whole idea of birthday stresses me out.  I have a few months until the next round – maybe I can figure out my hang-up!


My notes on Vivienne for the past three months are pathetic.  She is the poor forgotten middle child, but she clambers for attention during the day so maybe I just don’t think to write things down.  I’m feeling really guilty about neglecting all my kids right now and writing this post isn’t helping.  Still, if I don’t write it now I’ll only get further behind and have more guilt!  She is learning a lot but I’m not nearly as intentional or responsible as I was when I had one kid and a baby – duh.  My organization has only gained me so much time and with the move all that fell apart as well . . .  anyway, here we go.


Vivienne’s growth is still much more socially and physically oriented.  She is quite elegant in movement and loves dancing and “teaching” dance by telling me to follow her actions.


She loves to help out and is able in housework when she wants to be.  When she is herself she is delightful and able, but she is still young and struggles with her temper.


We’ve started having weekly tea parties and she enjoys trying to have good manners and trying to guess what would be good manners or not.  For example, she asked if laughing would be good manners.  I said it depended on the laugh, and she gave a few examples saying “that would be okay” or “this would not be okay.”


Vivienne loves clothes and changes several times a day.  She’s doing better about cleaning up after herself, but there are still clothes everywhere . . .


She loves Ellie and likes to feed her at meals and carry her and play with her.  Mostly she is gentle enough and Ellie adores her.


Vivienne and Joseph are great playmates now, able to communicate and share in creative stories together.


We’re taking a week off of media time, but she’s grown able with the mouse and doing games on ABCya.com


She likes to go out for walks or rides whenever she can.


She is now independent in the bathroom for all types of business.


From our notes:



Traced ABC letters from wooden puzzle with Joseph.  Wrote many upper case one her own.


Counted the 12 oranges on the orange juice container.


Started going to Schöfli Sunday school.  Her Swiss German is also improving rapidly.



Went to neighbor’s on own to ask if they could play.


Ha!  I just looked at the reflection I did for Joseph at four years, thinking it would have more detail, but my guilt just had me over worried.  I didn’t write all that much and it’s clear that Vivienne’s language is much stronger than Joseph’s at that age.  I will never be able to treat my kids equally and I’m not sure that’s the point either.  I’ve got to get over this mommy guilt and just take the next steps in our lives!


We love you, Vivienne!

Posted by harp on Thursday, February 4, 2016 at 2:10 pm | Edit
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November 2015

Ellie grabs her left foot.


Puts left foot in mouth.


Grabs both feet in both hands.


Keeps getting frustrated by the chain-link caterpillar.  “Frustrated” is an understatement.  She wants it, but ends up screaming at it!


Rotates to right while on tummy.


Joseph writes, “angwa.”  (Sorry, no stranslation.)


Ellie makes a great growling sounds.


Rolls back to tummy.


December 2015

Hangs from our thumbs.


Dec. 7th we discovered her first tooth (lower left)!  The same day she crawls to Stephan, 10-20cm.  The next day I see her crawl!


16th – Ellie rocks on all fours.


19th – 2nd tooth, lower right


22nd – cross-pattern crawl!


25th – crawled up a lower foam step (an IKEA gym mat)


January 8th – Ellie starts to creep.  She is by far our fastest crawler-to-creeper.  (Remember, we use crawl for belly crawl and creep for all-fours crawling).  She isn’t fast, but she likes it.  It’s not cross-pattern yet – she mostly drags her knees behind her, but she loves being on all fours and pulling up on her knees while leaning on a small step or box.  She’ll also stick her butt in the air and be on hands and feet.


I had just started training her to stay all night in her play-pen when she got sick.  She’s been going to bed there and then coming to bed with me when she wakes.  She responded really well, but sickness has set us back.  I am looking forward to trying again and getting more sleep!


She’s started nibbling interesting things at the table with us.  Cheerios are a favorite (thanks to the American store in Geneva that delivers – don’t ask how much we pay per box.)


Everyone loves Ellie.  She’s a sweetie, but it’s a lot of work now that she crawls and we have lots of steps.  I am trying to enjoy the stage and not worry about all the cleaning, and all the blogging, and all the being-a-good-friend, and all the everything I am not doing because I am trying to enjoy my family.  To my future self – you have deliberately taking time to enjoy this special stage even if you can’t remember doing it!

Posted by harp on Wednesday, January 20, 2016 at 8:43 pm | Edit
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Joseph likes to announce how many months old he is, thus I know that this update he is 66 months old.


I’ve been keeping the best notes of all the kids on Joseph because of homeschooling kindergarten, but the “cute things” posts have been suffering because of indecision on how to get all the notes in the computer, or not.  One day I’ll figure it out, but until then, here are simply our notes.


October 2015

I went to do laundry downstairs and the rice started boing over.  The kids called for me, but I didn’t come right away.  By the time I’d arrived Joseph had turned off the stove, gotten potholders and moved the rice to a different burner.  (Three months later we’re in our new house and I wish Joseph had been home as I steamed potatoes.  I typed away until the water evaporated and the plastic steamer basket melted . . .)


He likes to draw shape families using shape stenciles.  He traces the shapes of different sizes, for example all circles, then adds facial and other features.  He explained, “Daniel has short hair.  Joseph is thinking about his Grandma.  Vivienne has long hair.” Etc.


“This is a right triangle.  This is a left triangle.”


NIIJOMMI! (Stephan will have to explain.)


November 2015

The construction site next door was finished enough that we could go through it to get to church (people had been living there for months, after all – that would never be allowed in the states!).  One morning Joseph took off on his own, in a T-shirt (it’s November and yes, it’s cold).  Stephan caught up with him and told him he’d need to apologize to me so he left church again and walked back alone (and without permission) to apologize.  He scared a bunch of church goers.  (As I write this I’m thankful that that trying phase of walking off without asking is all but gone for the moment.  This reflections are a good exercise!)


Joseph had his first dentist appointment, and he did great.  We were worried, because last year he’d come along for mine and wouldn’t open his mouth to let the dentist take a peak.


The 2nd-to-last week before our move (we were kicked out of our apartment for renovations) we all got the stomach bug.  I’d already packed extra sheets.  I blame this for our move being more chaotic that desired, just like I blame Joseph coming a week early for me never finishing his baby chrochet.)


Joseph refers to the hand in Marvin K. Mooney as “she.”

Joseph swallows a pill!  (On purpose, don’t worry.)


Joseph splits a banana with Daniel.  “Daniel griegt äi Drittel, also grieg ich äi zwäi Drittel.”


Nov. 21st was moving day and it was also the first snow of the season.  Joseph said, “God, please melt the snow because it’s not yet winter.”


Joseph gladly helped in the move and in the set-up.  He told Stephan, “If I help you, you will be proud of me.”  (In reference to screwing something together.)


Joseph added his own note to Nov. 26th “Big Brainz was easy for me.”


On the 28th he wrote, “I am 65 months.”


December 2015

While role-playing “Dumbo” Joseph refers to the cigar that one of the birds smokes as a “smokestick.”


Joseph wrote, “I made a SPR. S. F.”  (I asked and it means spread squash fold.  He likes to abbreviate when he doesn’t know how to spell or if there isn’t room.  Adults do it, so why not make up his own?)  His origami abilities truly astound me.  He might have been neglected for the start of homeschool kindergarten (new baby, move) but he’s made progress on his own, and all it costs me is origami paper (at 20-cents per piece it is still a challenge for me to let him use the real stuff, but I’m sure he would not be so far along if he didn’t have it.)


January 2016


This was the first Christmas we’ve had room for a tree, and the kids loved decorating it.  Joseph refered to it as “The leaning Christmas tree of Lucerne.”  (He got a Leaning Tower of Pisa lego kit for Christmas.)


I’ve canned set media time and they can ask at any time if they can earn media time.  Once when Joseph asked I made him clean up the living room.  Then he spent his whole 30 minutes doing a grammar game on ABCya.com games.  Ignorance is bliss.  I suppose homeschooling is going fine – I made my kids clean up for the privilege of studying grammar!


“I’m a noun, Vivienne!”


“What’s a cold dog that’s on fire?”

“A hot dog!”

(He and his birthday buddy Noah would get along just fine!)

Posted by harp on Monday, January 18, 2016 at 1:26 pm | Edit
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