Tuesday, September 27, 2011
Monday, September 26, 2011
This past week, I’ve had my nose in a few different books. I finished “The Tiger Rising” by Kate DiCamillo very quickly. I had picked up this book as a potential read-aloud with the children, intrigued by its inside cover description as a narrative about hidden emotions. While I found the characters convincing and the narrative skillfully weave themes such as life’s challenges, dealing with painful feelings, and relational community, I think I will save this book for a while before reading it to my kids. They may need some additional maturity before the plot’s ending twist can be viewed in perspective with the book’s central themes.
I’m also in the midst of “How We Decide” by Jonah Lehrer and “Finding Sophie” by Irene N. Watts. The former is another neuroscience special that has numerous fascinating accounts of scientific experiments and researchers’ interpretations of the inner workings of the human brain. The latter is a young adult novel about a displaced teenager in post-war England.
Jadon’s “Book of the Week:”
“Port Side Pirates” by Oscar Seaworthy, illustrated by Debbie Harter
This book contains a wonderful, sing-song, rhyming text with a repetitious refrain. The bright, imaginative illustrations feature interesting characters and captivating activity. In addition to its cute and simple storyline, the book includes appendixes which note some very remarkable pirate facts, including information about various kinds of ships, pirate history, and details about the lives of famous pirates.
Children’s Book Honorable Mentions:
“Blue Goose” by Nancy Tafuri—teaches about colors and color-mixing in a cute, simple story
“How Do You Count a Dozen Ducklings” by In Seon Chae—with engaging narrative and charming illustrations, this book introduces the concept of multiplication
“Monkey Tales” retold by Laurel Dee Gugler—funny classic stories
“Sam’s First Library Card” by Gail Herman—entertaining book combines information about library services with a lesson about honesty
“Warner, Don’t Forget” by Lynn Seligman and Geraldine Mabin—another cute story with a figure-it-out ending
Saturday, September 24, 2011
...from Abby's beginner tunes to my favorite Chopin waltzes to improvisational jazz.
"Pianos are such noble instruments -they're either upright or grand." ~ Author Unknown
"To play without passion is inexcusable!" ~Ludwig van Beethoven
"Take a music bath once or twice a week for a few seasons. You will find it is to the soul what a water bath is to the body." ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes
"Without a piano I don’t know how to stand, don't know what to do with my hands." ~ Norah Jones
Friday, September 23, 2011
Then, today (it was a PD day--everyone home from school!), for Dad's birthday, we added some finishing touches. The door label, of course...
The other thing we needed to make was a cake! This year we tried a raspberry-filled lemon layer cake with lemon icing and fresh raspberries. YUM!
It was a fun day of projects (plus the traditional Friday family supper at Tim Hortons and an excursion to the Gatineau Sports Center for a recreational swim) and a special birthday celebration!
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Tuesday, September 20, 2011
1) Poison ivy won’t kill you. (Poor Ethan, upon being diagnosed with this skin condition and prescribed a steroid cream for treatment, looked up bravely into my eyes to ask if he was going to die. It does say POISON, of course.)
2) Carrying sleeping 8-year-olds is bad for Dad’s back.
3) Read-aloud chapter books are great. Like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. But movies do not always match the book. (We also just finished “The Incredible Journey,” and I was very impressed with the children’s comprehension despite some pretty considerable vocabulary. We are looking forward to a viewing of “Homeward Bound” soon!)
4) Homemade skateboards are difficult to steer (…especially when they involve nailing the wheels of your brother’s roller blades into the sides of a short length of 2x6), but it is still a fun project to try.
5) International adoption clinic doctors might chuckle when they ask a four-year-old about his friends, and he lists of a few names, and then they ask who his best friend is, and he announces boldly, “GOD!”
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Andrew: “Mr. G. is a good teacher, Mom.”
Me: “What do you mean?”
Andrew: “Well, he doesn’t let people be lazy. He's actually kind of tough. He makes us work hard…if kids are just kind of doing whatever, he will be like, ‘Just get going’ and stuff.”
Me: “Oh, so, you think he will help you to do your best?”
Andrew: “Yeah. He won’t let people just do easy stuff. He kind of reminds me of you.”
Saturday, September 10, 2011
1) The Laundry Steps
Laundry seems to be a never-ending process at our house, but it has settled into a manageable routine with lots of cooperation along the way. Sorting is now know as "laundry basketball" in our house. There have also been quite a few lessons in proper folding technique. Still, the part of the laundry process that is the most tedious for me is putting away. That's where the laundry steps come in. Basically, as the laundry is folded, I/we place it into piles according to who wears the clothes. One pile each for Dad, Mom, Andrew, Ethan, Abby, and Jadon. Then, when all the laundry is folded, I take responsibility for putting away the grown-up's clean clothes, but the other piles are simply placed on the bottom four steps. The children know that, whenever they see a stack on "their" step, it is their responsibility to pick up the pile whenever they go up to their rooms. Because we do laundry six days a week--usually just one or two loads a day--the piles are usually fairly small (carryable) and rarely prompt whining. The Laundry Steps have certainly helped to make the Tapper laundry process a more cooperative system!
2) The Words Glasses
Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. 1 Peter 3:10
Reflection upon our words has been a major focus in the Tapper house recently. We emphasize kindness and respect, but it is not easy. Highlighting "kind words" and "respectfulness" and "gentleness" to children makes one realize one's own faults rather quickly! We are all working on this together!
It has helped us to have a visual reminder. We now have two glasses on the middle of our dining room table. One is the "good" glass, and one is the "bad" glass. We also have a container of fake coins. Each morning, the glasses are emptied. Throughout the day, I listen for the kinds of communication that is happening between the children. If I hear put-downs, discouraging words, or harsh tones, a coin goes into the "bad" glass. If I hear kind and encouraging words, a coin goes into the "good" glass. I do not say anything about the glasses, but the children check the glasses regularly to monitor their progress. Sometimes, the change is dramatic. There will have been a bad mood in the house (say, after school when everyone is a little tired and testy), but someone will notice that the glasses are a bit lopsided in the wrong direction, and, suddenly, a call will go forth for kinder words...and the whole mood of the family will change! It is terrific! At the end of the day, more coins in the "bad" glass means extra chores. More coins in the "good" glass means more family fun (for example, extra reading time, a family game, or another fun activity). This simple visual reminder has been very helpful in our home!
Monday, September 5, 2011
Friday, September 2, 2011
Even when there is no ice, there is still hockey here!...
Andrew and Ethan had a French tutor come throughout the summer to help them keep up with their French. She was creative and fun, offering comprehension games and sidewalk spelling tests...
Abby and I had a special night out and went to see Ballet Magnificat!'s production called "Journey of the Prodigal." What a fantastic show! (And a terrific daughter...)