Friday, November 30, 2007
I'm curious if there will be a Chapter Two.
She drew several interesting little stick figure drawings to illustrate the different scenes as well.
FRIENDS AND FUN TIMES
Chapter One - FUN AT THE PARK
Around the corner of my house there is a new playground. It seems like every day people are swarmed over it, having so much fun.
One day I went there. There was a big slide, two swings, and a rocking horse, and around the corner from the big slide, two baby swings. I went down the slide. I was new to this park.
I went up to a person. The person was a girl. She said her name was Clara. We shook hands and we were friends.
Then Clara said, "Let's go on the swing." She hopped on the big kid swing. I hopped on the big kid swing, and we swung for an hour.
After an hour, I got tired. I said, "Let's go down the slide." Only once, because my mother was packing up to leave.
After we went down the slide, I was sad. I knew I would have to leave Clara. I said bye to Clara and went to my mother, and we went home.
My mother asked, "Do you want to bake some cookies for Clara? I know where her house is."
"Sure," I said. So I washed my hands and I made the cookies with my mother. They were snickerdoodles.
Then when they were ready, my mom let me eat one. I knew I had a playdate today. I went to my mother and said, "Time to go." My mother said, "Buckle up," and we drove off.
When we got there, I rang the doorbell. Clara answered it. "How nice to see you," said Clara.
Then I said, "Where's your room? Does it have toys?"
"Yes, it does. I'll show you where it is."
So me and Clara went upstairs and into her room. There were toys all over, toys on the shelf, toys in the cabinet, toys even scattered around the floor.
"Can you help me clean up?" said Clara.
I said yes. So we sang, "Clean up, clean up" while we cleared her room.
Finally, the last toy was picked up. "Cookie time!" said my mother. And we ran downstairs and took a cookie.
Then Clara said, "Do you want to go to the park again?" "Sure," I said. So my mother drove us there.
When we got there, I went down the slide. Then my mother said, "Time to leave."
"Why so soon?" I said.
"Because rain clouds," said Clara.
I looked up. There were some dark clouds. So we got in and drove home.
By the time we got home, it was my bedtime, 8:00. Clara said, "Hurray, I get to play some more!" Because it wasn't 12:00 yet.
I said, "Bye, Clara!"
On the way home, I made up a bedtime song. It goes something like this:
It's 8:00, time for bed,
That's my bedtime, so I'm ready [repeat]
When we got home, it was 12:00. I was yawning a lot. I said, with a big yawn, "Maybe Clara will come over tomorrow." while I got tucked in for bed.
Then I said to my sister, Rebecca, "I have a new friend. Her name is Clara." And then before you know it, I was asleep.
The Twelve Questions of Christmas
1. Christmas is a lot of fun, especially now that I have kids. A lot of people complain about all the stuff in the stores, and the music, and the hassle. I love all that stuff.
2. In memories, what was the best part of your Christmases past? I don't particularly remember my family doing much for Christmas. I do remember being about five and waking up Christmas morning and finding one of those Big Barbie Heads where you do her hair and makup, and thinking that was pretty cool. I remember making some cookies with my mom when I was about ten. Oh yeah, and one year we made a popcorn tree with gumdrops as decorations. That was fun.
3. Was Santa ever good to you? I'm not sure I understand this question.
4. Do you open gifts on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, or both? I like the idea of opening one gift each on Christmas Eve, and the rest on Christmas Day.
5. Is there something you make each and every year? [craft or recipe] I usually make my Favorite Cookies in the World, Babe Ruth Bar Cookies. I make them intended for gifts, but I usually end up eating half of them myself. They are soooo good!
6. What are your favorite five Christmas songs/hymns?
Do You Hear What I Hear?
The Little Drummer Boy
Everything from Charlie Brown Christmas
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
Father Christmas -- by The Kinks!
7. Is there a new tradition for Christmas since your childhood days? We always play the soundtrack from Charlie Brown Christmas when we put up the tree.
A few nights before Christmas, we drive around in our pajamas looking at neighborhood lights, eating Christmas cookies, and listening to Christmas music.
We leave out cookies and milk for Santa, and reindeer food.
For a few years we would bring cookies to the local firemen on Christmas Day.
Since Rachael spent Christmas 2005 in ICU, last year we went to visit the nurses and brought lunch to the families who were currently in the ICU. I'd like to continue doing that as long as the kids are interested in doing so.
8. Describe one of your Christmas trips. Until I was nine, every year we drove to my cousin's house a Saturday or two before Christmas. They always had what seemed like a huge get-together and dinner, with other relatives and friends and neighbors, and that's when we'd exchange gifts with aunts and uncles and grandparents.
I remember when I was seven I got a bracelet from my aunt, and that week brought it to school for Show and Tell. "I got this bracelet for Christmas," I announced to the class. But ... it wasn't Christmas yet! The kids were mystified: How was this possible?? Several kids came up to me later and asked me if I was Jewish. I always thought that was pretty funny.
9. Do you have a special Christmas outfit to wear for the day? Um, no. Was I supposed to have one??
10. Have YOU or any of your family members sat on Santa's lap?
See the blog post about Breakfast with Santa ...
11. What is/or will be on your Christmas tree this year? Rebecca has made it clear that her job every year is to put the star on top. Mostly "the usual" -- some ornaments from past students, lights, garland, that kind of thing.
12. Do you/or have you decorated your yard for Christmas? When Rachael spent Christmas in the ICU, several ladies from our local chapter of MOMS Club brought her a tree and some decorations. We weren't allowed to keep a live plant in her room, but brought it home and planted it in our back yard. Last year we decorated it again and sat outside by it and read The Little Fir Tree by Margaret Wise Brown. Hopefully we'll continue to do that.
When I was about ... nine, ten, eleven ... I showed my mother something I had done. A drawing or painting or something like that.
She said she thought it was great. Then she smiled and said, "But then of course, I'm prejudiced!"
I remember distinctly thinking to myself, mystified, "What does my picture being great have to do with not liking black people?"
Wednesday, November 28, 2007
I remember both of them being among my Cartoons of Choice (although we didn't have much choice on Saturday mornings in 1975), but I remembered almost nothing about them. (I did remember "Instant Hole," but that wasn't the episode I had.)
I watched them with the girls (ages 4 and 6) today. They did not like either one.
The Pink Panther had a laugh track -- did it always? And The Ant and the Aardvark just seemed weird. It felt more like Jackie Mason making various quips than like a kids' show.
All of us had watched some Looney Toons together a couple months ago. Those I remembered more vividly and enjoyed more. (Although even as a kid, I had split feelings toward Looney Toons: I really liked Bugs Bunny, the roadrunner, and Daffy Duck. I did not care for Pepe LePew or Tweety Bird, and I despised the whole Sylvester and the Giant Mouse thing.)
The girls liked Bugs Bunny, particularly the one with the Bullfight and the one with Barber of Seville.
I couldn't help but notice some obvious differences in the basic genre, then and now:
1) Robert pointed this one out: The older cartoons weren't "about" anything. They didn't try to teach something. They didn't have a lesson or a moral or a goal -- or, really, even a plot. For example, in the Pink Panther episode today, he tries making breakfast and A Bunch of Stuff Happens - the toast burns, he drops the eggs, the pancake sticks to the ceiling. And that's it.
I never would have thought to compare The Pink Panther with Seinfeld before.
2) The cartoons I grew up with seem startling violent to me now. I don't mind the kids watching them or anything, but it makes me wince a little myself.
3) The humor is more slapstick and visual, and less wordy. The Pink Panther doesn't speak at all. Neither did the Road Runner. Quite different from, say, Caillou (who many adults wish would not speak at all).
4) I'm not sure how best to word this, but the older cartoons used "real" music more.
The Henry Mancini music stands on its own; people would like it even if they had no idea what The pink Panther was. And it's not cute or silly or "kid music."
Everybody knows Bugs Bunny used opera music and Liszt and probably some other things I didn't realize. Nobody is singing about self-esteem or families or anything like that. For that matter, for the most part, nobody is singing, period.
For the record, I don't particularly think one is better than the other. I just think they're different.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
during our trip to North Carolina:
The girls loved coming down this slide at the Fun Factory,
which was really neat because a few years ago they were afraid to go down it.
On the merry-go-round at the Fun Factory!
Cousin Will is in the red shirt, and the blurry boy is his brother Ben.
Here's Cousin Ben (not to be confused with our child, Baby Ben)
with his father, Todd, at a toy store in Highlands.
Todd is Baby Ben's Godfather.
Here's Baby Ben (and his daddy!) keeping warm at Jackson Hole,
a gem and mineral shop we went to.
Rachael told me yesterday that she wants us to do the same thing every year for Thanksgiving. I told her that would be easy for us -- we weren't the ones who had to drive 14 miles! :)
I don't why, but I've tried and tried to post the photos and can't get Blogger to post more than four. So ... I'll make two posts. This first section is from Thanksgiving Day at Grandma Glo's house:
This is Cousin Camille, age 11, with Baby Ben
Sisters Anna and Diane holding their little cousins,
sisters Rachael and Rebecca
Cousins Megan, Garrett, Ben, Schuyler, and Rachael waiting their turn for the hayride
Cousin Steve taking the kids on a hayride!
Rachael actually fractured the tip of her finger Thanksgiving day when somehow a pool ball smashed it. A holiday with tons of relatives isn't complete without a trip to the Emergency Room, I guess! :)
Fortunately we went to the Orthopedic today and they said it should heal on its own in three weeks. They put it in a splint and wrapped it in a pink bandage, so Rachael was happy.
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
I'm not sure what was going on, but at point one of the women said to her little girl, "Yes, you asked to eat it and he said yes and gave it to you, now either chew it right now or spit it out, or else you get a spanking!"
The poor girl (who looked to be about two and a half) looked very distraught.
I couldn't tell what the actual problem was supposed to be ... it looked like maybe she had a piece of a tomato from her brother's salad, and I guess the girl asked for it but then didn't like it ...? I have no idea. From all outside appearances the girl wasn't doing a thing wrong or weird or rude or even noticeable.
Anyway, the woman said this at least three times. The third time, she said, "Either chew it right now or spit it out, or else you will get a spanking and have to sit in the high chair for the rest of the time here!"
I guess the girl finally complied, because there was no spanking and no high chair.
Whenever I see something like that, I literally get a stomach ache.
Later the two women came left the PlayPlace for a moment and then came back in, each with a chocolate-covered ice cream cone. A few minutes later their kids came over to the table. One of the women said to the boy, "No, we're not getting you ice cream here, but you can have mine when I'm done with it, if you eat your apples."
Then I didn't even hear the kid say anything, but the other woman snapped at him, "Hey! Any of that, and you get nothing!"
Then a few minutes later both women handed their mostly-eaten ice cream cones to the two kids, who, admittedly, seemed to enjoy eating them.
Yeah, I know most of you reading are thinking, "So what? Is that the end of the world? They got to eat ice cream!" but it just seemed so Yucky:
Here, yum, let me and my friend eat these treats right in front of you, but you don't get one, but if you do what I say, you can eat my slurped-over leftovers and feel grateful for them.
It occured to me that maybe I should give these women the benefit of a doubt. Maybe they were having a rough day, or maybe they're still struggling with the best way to handle certain situations.
Possibly. But that didn't appear to be the case. It looked more like it was their usual MO to bully their kids around and think nothing of it.
Monday, November 19, 2007
Tonight when she was going to bed, she said, "Mom ... was God alive when the dinosaurs were alive?"
I said, "Oh, sure, because God created the dinosaurs."
Rebecca said thoughtfully, "Maybe God killed the dinosaurs so that he could make people!"
Then Rachael said, "You mean that God sent the asteroid?"
Rebecca said, "Well, we don't know that there was an asteroid."
DURING - we gave him some crackers because he was bawling. They only helped for a second, then he needed Mommy's arm around him for the whole haircut. Well, it's good to know that I am loved more than a cracker! :)
DURING - Here's Big Sister Rachael looking like such a big girl, flipping through the magazines of hair photos. Meanwhile, Rebecca was playing with the train table, but I didn't get a good picture of that.
AFTER - Isn't he a cutie?
Then we all went to McDonald's for lunch!
Friday, November 16, 2007
These baby dolls will "go off" screaming at any time without warning and may or may not stop if you hold them, rock them, feed them, whatever. The idea is for the eleven year old child to learn what having a baby is "really like."
I think this whole assignment is offensive on many levels.
1) In the first place, if this is supposed to be a learning experience, it is a very pale and shallow one, at best.
It would be ten times more useful and interesting to arrange for the students to spend a few afternoons at my house and just kind of go through some of our daily activities while chatting together and getting a chance to do a few things like feeding a baby, changing a diaper, playing with a three year old, whatever.
I wish I could have done something like that when I was younger, and I would be the first in line to volunteer if anyone nearby has a kid this age they want to send to me!
2) The impliation that having a child, raising a child, being a parent, and caring for a baby basically amounts to having something inanimate annoying the hell out of you at inopportune moments is ridiculous as well as insulting.
3) Even though no one actually says this (although who knows, maybe they do), it's obvious to me that the main point of this assignment is to teach pre-teens that babies are a big pain in the ass, and since sex causes babies, well sex doesn't seem too appealing anymore, now does it?
Thursday, November 15, 2007
Six year old Rachael had been talking a lot about wanting to go to school. She was with a dear family we are friends with from church, and she told them that she really wanted to go to school. When they asked her what she wanted from school that she couldn't get at home, her answer was:
[Which is really funny if you know me personally, because you probably know I am very anti-homework.]
So the members of this family suggested they make their own school and give her homework. Rachael was so excited! They named the school The ___ Institute of Higher Learning.
That was over a week ago, and Rachael no longer says she wants to go to school.
Here is one of her first homework assignments:
Write Seven Words With Five Letters and What They Mean
(we looked through the Pippi book together to find the words)
1. Girls - A person that wears pretty dresses
2. Stood - When you are walking, you are standing too
3. Their - If you had a book that you got for your birthday, it would be your book, another way of saying their
4. Asked - If you ask somebody "Where is your friend?" or something like that
5. Horse - Something that is in a barn
6. Money - Something that you buy stuff with
7. Fight - If somebody wants a toy and you want it, that's fighting
Wednesday, November 14, 2007
He claims that when he was five years old, he had exactly five toys (which he wasn't even allowed to play with unless it was raining or dark outside.)
I believe he recommends that kids have less than five toys -- or perhaps it's less than ten, but you get the idea.
A few years ago, I actually thought this sounded like a good idea. For one thing, I'm not a fan of clutter. And also, I bought into the idea that "too many" toys kills creativity and resourcesfulness. (By the way, is there any evidence of this, or is it just a convenient excuse?)
He also says that children should watch no television and not play any computer games.
Which leads me to wonder ... what in the world did he (and children in families that follow his advice) spend their days doing???
I kept track of what toys my girls (ages 4 and 6) played with in a 48-hour period, and it included the following:
- toy farm with animals
- wooden xylophone
- big indoor slide
- Playful Patterns (from Discovery Toys)
- Tea Set
- Aqua Doodle
- Barney floor puzzle
- Air hockey table
- Toy jewelry
- Various stuffed animals
- Ball and bat
- Scooters and bikes
- Swing set
And yes, they were also read to, and they watched TV and they played on the computer. And no, they were not even home all this time.
Playing outside is great -- in fact, we're all outside as I type this -- but for eight or nine hours a day?? Every day?? And not by choice, but because they're "not allowed" to play with toys until after dark?
And why would I want that for my kids anyway?
Saturday, November 10, 2007
I got two books from the library today; one is the original PL (which Rachael likes) and the other is a picture-book version called Do You Know Pippi Longstocking written by the same author (which Rebecca likes).
Since my kids don't go to school, and since I'm beginning increasingly cynical toward school in general over recent years, I was amused by this excerpt from Chapter Three, when word gets out that Pippi lives without any adults and two policemen come to her house:
"But don't you understand that you must go to school?"
"To learn things, of course."
"What sort of things?" asked Pippi.
"All sorts," said the policemen. "Lots of useful thing -- the multiplication tables, for instance."
"I have gotten along fine without any pluttifikation tables for nine years," said Pippi, "and I guess I'll get along without it from now on, too."
"Yes, but just think how embarrassing it will be for you to be so ignorant. Imagine when you grow up and somebody asks you what the capital of Portugal is and you can't answer!"
"Oh, I can answer all right," said Pippi. "I'll answer like this: If you are so bound and determined to find out what the capital of Portugal is, then, for goodness' sakes, write directly to Portugal and ask."
"Yes, but don't you think that you would be sorry not to know it yourself?"
"Oh. probably," said Pippi. "No doubt I should lie awake nights and wonder and wonder, 'What in the world is the capital of Portugal?' But one can't be having fun all the time," she continued, bending over and standing on her hands for a change. "For that matter, I've been in Lisbon with my papa," she added, still standing upside down, for she could talk that way too.
Friday, November 9, 2007
Rebecca did some of the activities with Rachael. She only created a hero for the story, and here it is:
AY-THEE THE ELEPHANT
Ay-thee the elephant lives in the jungle. She loves it. She looks like a normal elephant and she has hair that's straight and brown and lipstick on her lips. Her clothes are kind of jungle clothes. A pretty dress and a crown hat.
She doesn't like dreaming.
Her favorite food is lettuce, and her favorite dessert is candy!
Rebecca's elephant does ballet and now she's in a recital. She's very good at picking up stuff. She can even pick up persons, Rebecca bets.
After she's had a bad day, Rebecca's elephant would do anything to cheer up. Of course making somebody say Wow.
She gets angry whenever somebody says, "I can do that better than you!"
She loves to play, loves treats, and loves to do games with her father. Her favorite princess is Ariel, and her second favorite princess is Cinderella.
She has an elephant mother and elephant dad and they have a little baby sister with a necklace over her.
When she first met her grandmother she was shy so she didn't do anything with her. She didn't even ask for stuff; she just did it all by herself. She did stuff like getting drinks herself, and getting food herself, and anything.
She can do lots of stuff, and she's not afraid of anything.
Thursday, November 8, 2007
I downloaded the Young Author workbook and did some of the activities with Rachael (and Rebecca joined us for some of it.)
We haven't gotten to the actual plot yet, but we came up with two characters, a hero and a villain, and here's a composite of the questions Rachael answered about hers:
HERO - SIX YEAR OLD VERA
Vera lives on a island, like Sal. (From a Robert McCloskey book). She likes it. She sometimes even visits the birds.
She is the same height as Rachael, with reddish-dark hair, straight and long.
She is scared of centipedes.
Her favorite foods are rice and potatoes. Her favorite dessert is ice cream with sprinkles.
He hobby is being a helper at an ice cream shop.
She's really good at swimming.
After Vera has had a bad day, what makes her happy is just knowing that she survived through that day.
What makes Vera angry? Sometimes she goes to school and there's usually somebody she doesn't like. Vera doesn't get angry, she gets worried when the person walks in, looking a little vain.
Sometimes Vera's parents are mean, and sometimes they're up for anything.
Vera has one secret. If she ever tells somebody that her parents think she's moving to another house, they would feel really sad, and she doesn't want to make her friends sad.
Vera is kind of pretty and pretty smart. She always likes playing with her Grandma. Her favorite princess is Ariel, and her next favorite is Jasmine.
Sometimes she's a tattletale.
She's afraid of spooky forests and spooky trees and stuff like that.
More than anything else in the world, she wants puzzle games. She really loves puzzle games like tic-tac-toe. Something you write on a board or piece of paper.
Sometimes, for vacation, her family goes down to the beach on the island they live on and set up beach things and pretend that it's a far-away vacation.
The best thing that's ever happened to Vera was being picked by the teacher to be the leader during music time at school. She thinks that's the best!
The worst thing that's ever happened to Vera was one time she got lost and couldn't find her mother til lunchtime.
Hanging on her bedroom walls are a few pictures of ballerinas and a few cross-stitches she made.
VILLAIN -SIX YEAR OLD EMMA
Emma is a kid from Vera's school. She lives close by Vera, on the edge of the same island.
Emma has frizzy, red hair and is a little vain. She has olive-green eyes.
She hates it when she makes fun of Vera and Vera makes fun of Emma back.
Emma loves to make forts with her dad.
Her favorite foods are rice, potatoes, and lettuce. (They don't have grocery stores on the island.)
Emma has a secret: She wants to move closer to Vera's house so she can make fun of her more.
The only likeable thing about her is that she's nice to Vera's best friend, Day-shee.
More than anything, Emma wants to be the best at everything, like Sharpay from High School Musical.
She's not very good at painting. Whenever she tries to paint her dollhouse, it just makes more blobs.
The best thing that ever happened to Emma is that she was picked at the queen in the Christmas play that is coming up.
I'm constantly going back and forth between trying to be ultra-efficient and get plenty done, and letting myself relax a bit and just do whatever comes up. And I tend to judge my worth as a person by how much I accomplished or whether I'm doing enough.
I ALWAYS feel like I'm not doing enough.
My husband is an ultra-doer. He is never without his clipboard with his to-do list. His idea of a good weekend is cleaning out the garage or spending 3 hours doing yardwork, so I feel like next to him, I seem really lazy!
Anyway, it occured to me this morning that it helps me to accept that the days are different and both are good in different ways.
Monday felt like a productive day. By 9:00 am I was pleased to see that I was showered and dressed, bed made, everyone fed (except me, oops!), dishwasher unloaded, had actually cleaned out and scrubbed the shelves inside the fridge (!), and I had just put in a load of laundry.
Yes, 9:00 am is hardly early, but I do have three young children, and for me this was doing well.
At 9:40 am all three of us were the out the door for the girls' dentist appointments, after that we hit the library and Chik-fil-A for lunch. (I had a coupon, so lunch for the four of us was less than five dollars, yay.)
Now today, on the other hand...
At 9:20 am I was still unshowered, in my pajamas and glasses, and finally sitting down to have a cup of tea and Eggos while Baby Ben rummaged around in the cabinets and the girls watched "Waiting for Guffman." [Um, you let your four year old and six year old watch R-rated movies?? Well, they only watch the ending, and anyway that movie is extremely tame for being rated R.]
It's 9:45 as I type this, and I'm not sure when I'll get around to showering and getting dressed. I don't think today will be a laundry day. The only tangible things I've accomplished so far are making the bed, unloading the dishwasher, and bringing the trash to the curb (with Rebecca's company). So hey, I guess that's not too bad either.
Friday, November 2, 2007
Here's another cool use of Aunt Donna's digital camera: taking pictures of things the kids make!
This is a picture of a butterfly cross-stitch that six year old Rachael made.
These are fuse bead patterns that the girls did together. I haven't gotten around to "fusing" them yet. The lighter ones are supposed to glow in the dark.
The girls got "Halloween money" from Grandma and Grandpa Blaske and bought these mosaic kits. Rachael made this mermaid.
Rebecca, age four, wanted to be in this picture with her mosaic princess. Whoops, the princess has no depth perception here! We've since given her a second eye ...
This is me with Rebecca and Benjamin at the local MOMS Club party about a week ago. (I know, I'm not wearing anything even vaguely Halloween-y.)
In the middle of the party, Rachael said to me with six year old perceptive wisdom, "Almost everyone here who is a girl is dressed up as something from Disney."
Here's all three Beans getting ready to trick-or-treat:
Rebecca (Disney Princess), Benjamin (Tigger), and Rachael (Dorothy)
Here's some of the neighborhood kids we go trick-or-treating with every year. Halloween is the only time of year we see most of them!
The only reason I'm in the picture is because Benjamin would sob the second I set him down.
[Uh-oh, is it considered bad form to post pictures of other people's kids on the Internet? If so, let me know and I'll take it down.]
I feel like we've been celebrating Halloween for weeks ... probably because we have! Between two Halloween parties, helping the kids carve pumpkins and make decorations (well, Robert did that, not me) and being "boo'd" twice and therefore having to go "boo" other people ... well, it's been a tiring holiday!