Real quick…

I’ve been working full-time lately! I just finished my 4th day as the art teacher at school.  It’s fun, but this working full-time thing is for the birds! Here is a quicky of what we’ve been up to:

  • Lex started swimming in the big pool today! Two of his classmates have their lessons in that pool and today he joined them. I’m super excited that he got over his fear of the big pool because he is a great swimmer and the big pool is necessary for continued development. Today he took the plunge and loved it!
  • Eve has started reading to me! I’m so excited! She read all of Runaway Bunny last night, and Hop on Pop, and Freddie and Flossie books. She caught on recently that if she reads to me she gets to stay up a lot later. :) I’ll take it!
  • Alan is prepping for his hernia surgery next week. Logistics are difficult, but it will happen and we’ll all be happy when it’s over. I’m secretly looking forward to a few forced days at home to take care of him.
  • I have decided to apply to the Upper Valley Educators Institute and get my teaching certificate!! I’m really enjoying substituting (some classes more than others, of course!) and the more I think about it the more teaching feels right to me. If all goes well I’ll start in August.

That’s it for now. I’m not working tomorrow, but I am spending the morning with my volunteer family and trying to figure out which of the six things that need be done can I fit into the afternoon before picking up the kids.  Working again Friday for a few hours.  Life is busy, but good!

No more reading at the table

A week or two ago, on a whim, I declared a “no reading at the table” rule. For those of you who know my house, this is a big change. A big change for Lex and I anyway. He was not happy. I was a little uncertain in my declaration, but I wanted to give it a try. Guess what? It has been a stellar success! (So far.)

I made the rule because he grabs a book for every meal and completely tunes out the world. He eats very messily, doesn’t pay attention to what he’s doing, doesn’t pay attention to us, and then sits at the table, completely spaced out, and reads until someone takes the book away. Two weeks ago he started coming home with a homework assignment to read for 20 minutes a night and write two sentences. I figured this would be a piece of cake for him but he continually insists that he doesn’t remember what he reads. That was the final straw. Making a mess, spacing out, and not even remembering? Not worth it!

Now he doesn’t read nearly as much, but he has better table manners and participates in the discussion and is generally a much more pleasant person to dine with. Yay!

The downside, for me, is that I also like to read at the table! Sometimes I sneak it in when no one is around, but I’m trying to break myself of the habit as well. I find myself much more attentive to the kids and participating more in the conversation, particularly with Eve, when I don’t have a magazine in front of me taking up 80% of my attention. My magazine pile is suffering, but the rest of us are doing fine! :)

Reading

Eve read to me last night! She reads with Alan and he insists she’s a good reader, but she never reads to me. Recently I found a big (195 pages!) Dick and Jane book that someone had given us years ago when Lex was young. It got very little use as his reading skills were already well beyond Dick and Jane. I pulled it off the shelf thinking maybe Eve would like it.

Last night she wanted me to read a really stupid Barbie book, so I agreed on the condition that she read a story to me next. Surprisingly, she agreed! I read Barbie: Pet Vet (gag!) and she read 30 pages of Dick and Jane, which is equally dull really, but exciting because she read it to me! :) She reads with great emotion and gusto as well. I was thrilled! She kept saying, “This is so easy!” and really, it was.

Yay Eve! Coincidentally I found out this morning that her teacher is doing reading testing today. Maybe I’ll ask for an update, just for my own curiosity.

Hop On Pop, by Dr. Seuss

After Eve’s bath I settled on the floor with a comb and asked her to join me. She hasn’t had a bath in a few days (don’t get me started!) and therefore hasn’t had her hair combed in awhile. I grabbed Hop On Pop and she settled in. Much to my surprise a) she didn’t whine about getting her hair combed and b) she READ the book! She started as mumbles under her breath and slowly got louder and louder until she was reading a regular volume. I didn’t say a word. She sounded out the words when she got stuck, stopped and started again when necessary, and really worked on it! It’s so hard to judge (for lack of a better word, not that I’m judging) her reading skills because she always gets coy or obstinate when you ask her to read out loud. Apparently she reads for Alan sometimes, but never for me. Tonight I didn’t say a word she just settled in, picked up the book I had chosen, and started reading! I loved hearing her read and seeing her really trying to read. She got about half way through the book and by that time I was done combing her hair and Lex was out of the bath and bouncing around nearby, so she gave up and asked me to finish. I think she was too distracted and to “on the spot” since Lex and I were both paying attention to her. I’m so proud of her!

Book purge

Tonight I casually started purging our kid book collection and ended up spending over two hours on it!! Once you get started you can’t stop or else the kids will get up in the morning and put all the nicely divided piles back on the shelf :) While Eve was in the tub I went through the bookshelf in their room. She got out of the tub and asked me “Who is stacking books?” I told her I was just putting some books “away for awhile.” She fussed, but then when she went looking for a bedtime book she got super excited about finding Madeline. “Look Mommy! Madeline! Oh I’m so happy! We have been missing Madeline for so long, where did you find this book?!?” On the shelf, silly girl. It was nice, immediate, validation that purging the bookshelves is the right thing to do.

I now have two large bags of books to quietly bring to the library, two more bags that the library probably won’t take but hopefully someone on Freecycle will, and one large bag that I’ll need to quietly put into the recycling pile.

I hope the kids wake up and marvel at their spacious, beautiful bookshelves and don’t ask where all the old, junky books went! :)

Biscuit

Eve read me two little Biscuit books tonight! She likes to show off her reading skills to Alan but I rarely get to see them. She told me she would have to use her brain for some of the words and “really think on them.” She is such a smarty! :)

You Otter-be reading

Smart Lex
As part of “Screen Turn Off Week” this week, Lex’s school is doing a reading challenge. For each block of time spent reading (15m for the lower grades, 30m for the upper grades) the kids earn an “otter” (their mascot). The class with the most otters by the end of the week earns a special treat. The kid in each individual class with the most otters will also get recognition. Lex has been pretty uninterested in this challenge, but I’ve been writing down the time he reads and he submits it at school each morning. He was telling Alan about it tonight and Alan asked how many otters his class has. 52 so far (tomorrow is the last day). Then Alan asked how many otters Lex personally has. Lex did some counting in his head and came up with 24. 24! That’s almost half the total for the class! I made sure to tell him that he may be receiving some sort of recognition tomorrow. I’ll try to get the final count from him tomorrow and let you know :)

The best part is that he totally doesn’t care about this challenge. His reading habits haven’t changed and he reads because he likes to read. Special prize or not, he likes to read. I love it!

Update – 5/7/11 – Lex came home with a little wooden picture frame to color, his prize for reading the most this week. He also came home with a free book. He said that all seven kids who brought in reading slips this week got a free book. All seven kids! Out of nineteen. Sad.

Funny Lex
At dinner tonight I noticed the variety of fruits and veggies on Lex’s plate and said, “What a beautiful, colorful plate you have Lex. Are you going to eat any of it?” Without hesitation he said, “Sure, I’ll eat the plate!” and leaned over and started chomping playfully on his plate! Laughter ensued! I really wanted a picture because he looked so funny, but he protested. When Alan suggested they pose together Lex thought that was funny enough to warrant a photo. I agree!

plate eating

Yummy!

Secret reader

I think Eve is a secret reader. I don’t know why she’s so shy about it, but sometimes she lets loose and reads an entire book (Go Dog Go, or most of Green Eggs and Ham), but then other times she refuses to read even the simplest words. It’s exciting to see her learning, but frustrating that she doesn’t seem more excited. I think she’s just being silly, but you never can tell with that one. I hope she becomes proud of her reading skills soon. We are all proud of her!

Old books

Grammy Lynn and Grampy Don gave us a huge box of books when the kids were young(er), books that were Alan and Amanda’s when they were kids.  It’s interesting reading them now.  Some are fun, some are classics and we have new copies of the exact same book, and others are just plain weird.  Many use the word “gay” in it’s original meaning, which is noteworthy only because no books use that word for that meaning today.  What made me think of this is last night I was reading Julius by Syd Hoff (author of Danny and the Dinosaur of which, at one point, we had four copies!).  The book is all about a man and boy who go to the jungle to find a gorilla for their zoo.  All the animals want to go to the zoo and are disappointed that only the gorilla is allowed to go.  Another book we have has a similar theme, something about elephants and they all want to go to the zoo.  I don’t think they write books like that anymore, do that?  These days it seems like zoos are an evil necessity, not a glamorous place where the animals all want to live.  The original Curious George is written such that George is living happily in the jungle, eating his bananas, and then the Man With The Yellow Hat “rescues” him from his normal life and brings him to a zoo.  Like this is a good thing.  Weird.

There are a few books that I have gotten rid of because I don’t like the general message, including “What Mommy Does” and “What Daddy Does.”  I laughed though, because a few days after getting rid of those two books I read a blog where the lady was talking about how much she loves these books and how important it is to teach these things.  Perhaps kids can just observe what mommies and daddies do these days, because a lot has changed since the writing of those books (even in our relatively traditional house)!  It’s fun to see how the content of kids books has changed through the years.

We got the bookshelf painted and put into the kids room so last night we went through the books and sorted them and put them on the shelf.  We have a lot of books!  I’m going to cull out a few more when the kids aren’t around (just the broken, missing pages, falling apart ones) but they like to cling to every single page, whether it’s attached to a book or not, so I have to do my collection trimming when they aren’t around.  Shhh….. ;)

Soon we’ll be getting out the holiday books too.  Yay!

On a completely different note, Alan and I are going out tonight.  I’m excited.  We’ve got a babysitter for the first time in awhile and we’re going to dinner and to see Red.  I hope it’s a good movie!  The previews look funny.