Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Monday, February 27, 2012

Les Livres du Lundi

We recently finished reading aloud Gone-Away Lake (by Elizabeth Enright) as a family. While this book, written over 50 years ago, does not necessarily have the exciting plot developments of some of our past read-alouds, it did hold the children’s interest. I was a bit concerned that the language might be a bit above my youngsters—Enright was not one to dumb things down!—but they seemed to hang on every word, and I am glad for their vocabulary expansion. The story involves two children who discover a (mostly) deserted village during their summer vacation. The memorable characters and charming descriptions of childish adventures will certainly remain with our family for a long time.

Jadon’s Pick of the Week is Total Sports by DK Publishing. This comprehensive catalog of sports offers great descriptions and engaging pictures. All of the children spent a considerable amount of time poring over its many pages. Here’s Jadon’s reasoning for making this his pick of the week: “It’s all about sports, and I like sports…I like the pictures…and I learned about sports like netball and pickleball and snooker and fencing.”

Other storybook favorites for this week include Hansel and Gretel (love these pictures!) by Rachel Isadora, Let’s Count It Out, Jesse Bear (Have I mentioned how much Jadon loves numbers?) by Nancy White Carlstrom, Jack Frost (very cute!...and a great looking-forward-to-spring book) by Kazuno Kohara, and What’s the Big Secret? Talking about Sex with Girls and Boys (an insightful covering of this topic—a current favorite in our house) by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown.

Happy reading!

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Hair Experimentation

The process of learning to care for the boys' hair continues as their hair changes and grows. Andrew has settled into a pretty simple hair care routine, involving sporadic conditioner-washing, daily sprays from an oil-water bottle, and occasional leave-in conditioner treatments. We trim his hair with the clippers every few weeks.

Jadon, on the other hand, does not like to have his hair clipped. I think a bit longer hair suits his smaller face. However, at this point, his hair is quite long and can be harder to keep looking healthy and handsome. I have started to try some various styling options for myself. After washing with conditioner and treating with a leave-in coconut-based conditioner, we've tried several different styles over the last couple months.

Column 1 shows single twists. Column 2 shows three-strand braids. Column 3 shows double-strand twists. I would love to try cornrows, but my fingers haven't quite managed to keep hold of his kinky hair appropriately yet. If we continue to let it grow, maybe I'll keep trying. For now, my favorites are the twists. What do you think?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sixteenth Valentine's Day

with the same valentine!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Les Livres du Lundi

This week in my reading has brought me to the conclusion of Siddhartha Mukherjee's Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer. While certainly long, replete with obscure (at least to me) medical and scientific jargon, and centred on a difficult topic, this book was a delight to read. The idea to personify cancer and to narrate her story, with all its various historical developments and possible future twists, was truly inventive. The story-telling is lively, even when the complexity of details surrounding oncological understanding and treatment certainly must have made writing narrative complex indeed. After reading this, I feel that I have a deeper understanding of what many have faced, are facing, and will face with this disease. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who has a sincere desire to deepen his understanding of cancer.

After getting through that heavy read, I also picked up Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somaya Gowda. This novel tells the story of two families on either side of an international adoption. At times, this book resonated with me, and, at times, I wanted to throw in across the room--particularly during descriptions of the ignorance of the adoptive parents. I did have to remind myself that the book was set during the late twentieth-century, making their lack of cultural awareness a bit more understandable than it would be today. Still, when I read books or see movies that depict an adoptive story, it is rare that I don't have some unsettled feeling about how the adoptive process is represented, knowing that many will base their understandings on such fictional descriptions. The book has a nice and tidy ending, which turns on your "good feelings." I would recommend this book with caution, recognizing that it has the potential to prompt better questions about international adoption but feeling somewhat disappointed by its overall thrust.

Jadon's pick of the week is Cinderella: A Fairy Tale (Little Pebbles) by Edith Baudrand and Charles Perrault. A classic fairytale never goes out of style!

Happy Reading!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Rhythm Sticks!

One of my courses during my undergrad was Elementary Music Education. We learned a lot of theory for teaching music to younger children, but we also were presented with a lot of great practical and creative ideas for music education. One of the ideas that I have used a lot, both in my days of working at a preschool and in my own home, is rhythm sticks. Rhythm sticks are a simple percussion instrument and can be created by using any stick-like item--dowel rods, wooden spoons, pencils, and skewers might all serve as rhythm sticks! Besides teaching the musical concept of rhythm (which I describe to kids as "the heartbeat of music"), playing with rhythm sticks can also support other developmental objectives, such as gross and fine movement, aural-motor coordination, following directions, hand-eye control, and creative exploration.

Most importantly, they are fun! Today, Jadon enjoyed doing several of his favorite rhythm stick games, and we wanted to share them with you.

The first one, we call "My Grandfather's Clock." It goes like this:

My grandfather's clock goes tick, tock, tick, tock.
My mother's wall clock goes tick, tock, tick, tock, tick, tock, tick.
My little wrist watch goes tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-tick-STOP!

The second one, "Scat the Cat," is a great one for creativity. The "chorus" goes like this:

I'm Scat the cat. I'm sassy and fat.
I change my colors just like that.

After clicking along to the rhythm of this rhyme, I allow the child to choose a color that Scat might like. Then I say something like..."Scat turned ORANGE! He was as orange as..." Then we brainstorm together about many things that are the selected color. After we're running out of ideas for that color. I ask the child how long Scat stayed that color. Usually, the child starts with a small number, but, later in the game, the numbers tend gain considerably, causing much laughter. Then, we repeat the chorus again for as many colors as we can possibly think!

The third rhyme is great for when it is time to put away the rhythm sticks. "When It's One..." goes like this:

When it's one, one, play toward the sun, sun.
When it's two, two, play on your shoe, shoe.
When it's three, three, play on your knee, knee.
When it's four, four, play on the floor, floor.
When it's five, five, do a jive, jive.
When it's six, six, fold up (or put away) your sticks!

I hope you've enjoyed our rhythm stick ideas!

Monday, February 6, 2012

Les Livres du Lundi

As I am only part-way through my current read (The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer by Siddhartha Mukherjee), I will save my thoughts on that until I have completed the book.

Furthermore, we skipped library day last week, so I do not exactly have a Pick of the Week from Jadon. During a three-hour fructose tolerance test at the children's hospital this past week, we did, however, pull out a couple volumes of Shel Silverstein's poetry, and we enjoyed the silliness of his verses together in the waiting room between breath tests in the doctor's office.

Just for fun, I offer you four Silverstein poems, in honor of each of my unique children!

For Andrew, our perpetual question-asker...."WHATIF" (from A Light in the Attic)

Last night, while I lay thinking here,
Some Whatifs crawled inside my ear
And pranced and partied all night long
And sang their same old Whatif song:
Whatif I'm dumb in school?
Whatif they've closed the swimming pool?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there's poison in my cup?
Whatif I start to cry?
Whatif I get sick and die?
Whatif I flunk the test?
Whatif green hair grows on my chest?
Whatif nobody likes me?
Whatif a bolt of lightning strikes me?
Whatif I don't grow taller?
Whatif my head starts getting smaller?
Whatif the fish won't bite?
Whatif the wind tears up my kite?
Whatif they start a war?
Whatif my parents get divorced?
Whatif the bus is late?
Whatif my teeth don't grow in straight?
Whatif I tear my pants?
Whatif I never learn to dance?
Everything seems swell, and then
The nighttime Whatifs strike again!

For Ethan, our sensitive feeler (as fondly remembered here)....SICK (from Where the Sidewalk Ends)

"I cannot go to school today,"
Said little Peggy Ann McKay.
"I have the measles and the mumps,
A gash, a rash and purple bumps.
My mouth is wet, my throat is dry,
I'm going blind in my right eye.
My tonsils are as big as rocks,
I've counted sixteen chicken pox
And there's one more--that's seventeen,
And don't you think my face looks green?
My leg is cut, my eyes are blue--
It might be instamatic flu.
I cough and sneeze and gasp and choke,
I'm sure that my left leg is broke--
My hip hurts when I move my chin,
My belly button's caving in,
My back is wrenched, my ankle's sprained,
My 'pendix pains each time it rains.
My nose is cold, my toes are numb,
I have a sliver in my thumb.
My neck is stiff, my voice is weak,
I hardly whisper when I speak.
My tongue is filling up my mouth,
I think my hair is falling out.
My elbow's bent, my spine ain't straight,
My temperature is one-o-eight.
My brain is shrunk, I cannot hear,
There is a hole inside my ear.
I have a hangnail, and my heart is--what?
What's that? What's that you say?
You say today is . . . Saturday?
G'bye, I'm going out to play!"

For Abby, our treasure finder....HECTOR THE COLLECTOR (from Where the Sidewalk Ends)

Hector the Collector
Collected bits of string,
Collected dolls with broken heads
And rusty bells that would not ring.
Pieces out of picture puzzles,
Bent-up nails and ice-cream sticks,
Twists of wires, worn-out tires,
Paper bags and broken bricks.
Old chipped vases, half shoelaces,
Gatlin' guns that wouldn't shoot,
Leaky boats that wouldn't float
And stopped-up horns that wouldn't toot.
Butter knives that had no handles,
Copper keys that fit no locks,
Rings that were too small for fingers,
Dried-up leaves and patched-up socks.
Worn-out belts that had no buckles,
'Lectric trains that had no tracks,
Airplane models, broken bottles,
Three-legged chairs and cups with cracks.
Hector the Collector
Loved these things with all his soul--
Loved them more than shining diamonds,
Loved them more than glistenin' gold.
Hector called to all the people,
"Come and share my treasure trunk!"
And all the silly sightless people
Came and looked . . . and called it junk.

Finally, for Jadon, who always has something to offer in the way of attention-grabbing entertainment....PUT SOMETHING IN (from A Light in the Attic)

Draw a crazy picture,
Write a nutty poem,
Sing a mumble-gumble song,
Whistle through your comb.
Do a loony-goony dance
'Cross the kitchen floor,
Put something silly in the world
That ain't been there before.

Happy Reading!