Archive for the ‘Reading’ Category


“Mommy,” I heard my just-turned-5-year-old come up behind me, “I made a picture for you.”

“You made a picture for me! And it says Mom!”

She paused and took it back for a second and handed it back after adding the ‘E.’

“Now it says, Mome!” I said and when she gave me a puzzled look I realized my mistake, “Oh wait, no, I continued, “It says ‘Mommy!'”

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We’ve been sick now for almost two weeks. Its been rough at times, but we’ve found plenty to keep us busy. On the toughest days when we’ve been stuck mostly on the couch and in bed that has included quite a bit of Dora, Diego and Bob the Builder. I’m trying to be okay with that.

We’ve also played dress up. Here is our 4yo in one of daddy’s old beanies, bunny ears, finger-less gloves, with a tutu (off camera) and a flower tail (also off camera). She’s also fully accessorized, as you can see. I think she was combining Christmas, Easter and Halloween into one outfit.

Our 2yo has set up several picnics over the last couple weeks. She is very fastidious about it and guards her set up from her siblings even though they are invited to her party. She’s very particular about what they touch and what they “eat.” She remembers exactly where something goes if someone, say a 1yo who’s learned to tease, snatches an item without permission.

After beginning this painting, I found our 2yo sitting on the floor in the playroom with her head between her knees. I asked her what was wrong and she answered, “I can’t paint anything lovely.” I asked her if she wanted to come try again and walked with her back to the craft table where we sat down, got a fresh paper and tried a different brush. She ended up being much happier with her second, third and fourth attempts.

She wants to give these to specific people for Christmas.

This is how I kept sane with paints. I was even able to place another sheet of wax paper over the remaining paint and save it for the next time (which was later that day and then again the next day). We had a lot of fun discussing and trying out how to combine colors to create new colors.

The girls like to use the barstools for their pretend cages. Lately we’ve been on a Dirty Jobs kick in the evenings and their favorite episode has been one where Mike Rowe visits an animal sanctuary with kangaroos, camels and lemurs. There has been a lot of lemur activity and a lot of lemur questions around our place this week.

We’ve also decorated and redecorated the tree, made several batches of scones, made giant snow flakes, read many books, danced quite a lot of stories, wrapped gifts, learned how to spell new words. Of course, the list would have been longer if we weren’t so sick, but life can still be full during these down times.

We’ve taken care of each other over the last couple weeks. Yes, these girls even take care of me by bringing me water when I cough even though I’ve never asked them to do this. They pat my head when I’m laying down. They share their favorite blankets with me. They hang up their art to cheer me up. 

We’ve also had a lot of practice being kind even though we don’t feel well. Sometimes that is hard to do even for adults. But we’re learning and practicing and getting better at it.

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Its late, maybe 11pm. It would be nice if she were in bed already as she usually is. She begs daddy to let her type. He sets his computer up for her. She types “m-o-m” and asks, “did I type ‘mommy’?” When she asks him how to spell a word, he spells it for her and she types it one finger at a time. When she discovers typing with two fingers at once, we smile. When she asks us to sound out her creations, we oblige. When we head off to bed, she suddenly decides she’d like to do the same.

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Just because we don’t do “school” doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy some of the things that have been made for school. Come September, all the larger discount stores have dollar workbooks for various subjects that the girls love to play with. Maybe its the opportunity to use dry erase markers or maybe it has more to do with the little pictures of objects for each letter that they enjoy. Either way, they get very excited about them and our 4yo loves to trace the letters. Last year she enjoyed tracing and writing printed letters and this year she meticulously traced a page of cursive letters. We laughed at how the ‘Q’ looked like a 2 (so silly!) and then she drew a heart and her name and another heart and her sister’s name. Our 2yo wrote an upside down uppercase ‘A’ an an ‘H’ (that ‘H’ may have been upside down too). She’s written them right-side up for a little while, but has recently switched to writing a lot of her letters upside down. We tried out several of the picnic tables and a bench or two while we were on a walk one morning at Pinecrest Lake.

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In the spirit of artist/naturalist Andy Goldsworthy, I am attempting my own temporary nature art alphabet. The ‘A’ was made with stones in the sand on the shore of Mirror Lake in Yosemite. Both the ‘B’ made with fallen tree moss and the ‘C’ made with dry pine needles were made at Pinecrest Lake. I’m not sure how long the ‘A’ lasted, but I know that the ‘B’ and ‘C’ were gone within a day. Three down, 23 to go.

I’d like to finish this on our trip and make alphabet books for Christmas presents for the cousins. The girls have had a lot of fun watching me and making their own letters. We also started looking for letters in sticks and rocks and taking photos of what we found just as it was before we got there. ‘L’ and ‘Y’ sticks were really popular with the girls last week. My 4yo was very excited to find two trees crossed in an ‘X’ up at Pinecrest, but we didn’t have the camera on us at the time to document it.

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We found that raised letters made for much clearer rubbings than indented sidewalk patterns and writing.

We decided we are going to take this one on the road with us.

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This week, every time we went for a walk, our 4yo would start singing the alphabet. She would sing it to various tunes, some learned and some made up, then she would say it without singing. I could still usually figure out a tune she was thinking about because she would say it with a particular rhythm.

So after several walks like this we started figuring out which letters came first. I started by asking easy letter pairs like, “what comes first, ‘A’ or ‘B’?” And then moved on to slightly more difficult pairs like ‘C’ and ‘X’ or ‘E’ and ‘H.’ And then I would be quizzed too. After this we spent a few minutes alphabetizing our names.

It’s fun to find these natural transitions in learning as we go about our day. I’m looking forward to discovering more of them. I have to think about it though. I could easily have walked all the way home from the store just listening to her recite the alphabet and that would have been enjoyable and good, but sometimes I can see the benefit of asking questions and then letting her ask me the same questions back. We make it into a game.

I feel a little silly writing about something so little but, to be honest, I would love it if people shared their little moments like this with me. I think it would help me develop my eye for these opportunities.

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