Archive for January, 2008

Cousins – Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2008


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National Literacy Week, day 2

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2008

As I wrote Tuesday, National Literacy Week is underway. We didn’t do the puppet activity tonight as Reid was too interested in continuing to read scrapbook stories about herself. She is also asking for stories about when she was a baby (in my tummy and tiny on the outside), a little girl and a big girl. The latter category can include what she did the current day.

 A friend shared a link to an article listing 100 books every child should read. The list was produced in Great Britain but is sure to have books that you’re familiar with and others that you can look for. It is divided into the following categories:

* ‘If children are to become readers for life, they must first love
* 100 books every child should read – Part 1: Early years
* 100 books every child should read – Part 2: Middle years
* 100 books every child should read – Part 3: Early teens

The essay about instilling a love of reading is especially well-written. The writer talks of a boy listening to his mother read: He could hear it in her voice, in her laugh, in the tears in her eyes. He loved the fun, shared the sadness. He loved the music in the words. He never wanted storytime to end.

Then “unwillingly to school” he went, trudging the leafy pavements through pea-souper London smogs. From then on the stories were not magical, and they weren’t musical either. Words were to be properly spelled, properly punctuated, with neat handwriting. They were not story words any more, but nouns and pronouns and verbs. Later they were used for dictation and comprehension, and all was tested and marked. A multitude of red crosses and slashes covered his exercise books, like bloody cuts.

I dropped English as a major in university because of the way that books I enjoyed on the first read were detested by the time we were done covering them in class. I’ll have to remember this lesson as I read to Reid.

 What books would you put on your list of the 100 books all children should read?

Family Literacy Week has begun

Monday, January 21st, 2008

When I was noodling around for information about Family Literacy Day – this coming Sunday, if you’re keeping track – and I learned that many people celebrate the full week. It’s a bit like a kid’s birthday that goes on and on, I guess. Still the Centre for Expertise in Family Literacy site had activities for each day worth sharing with you and trying myself. They have activities for 0-3, 4-6, 7-9 and 10-13 year olds and their families. Reid, Ken and I will be trying:

* Monday – My Story: use family photos to make a book and read it together
* Tuesday – Puppet pal: Make a puppet using a sock or wooden spoon and do different voices and tell nursery rhymes (Today’s Parent has ideas if you’re stuck)
* Wednesday – Goop: Mix cornstarch with water to make a thick sauce. They don’t say this, but it would be fun trace letters in the goop if your child knows how to make letters or you could guide her/his hand.
* Thursday – Book look: Visit the public library and get a library card for your child. We renewed Reid’s library card in September as part of the Every Kid a Card campaign but she likes visiting the library whenever the opportunity arises.
* Friday – Moo Baa Fun: Sing Old MacDonald or other favourite animal songs
* Weekend – Clap, Snap, Tap: Dance to loud and soft music, dancing according to the rhythm. Clap or tap as singing a favourite song or nursery rhyme.

Some of the ideas for 4-6 year olds appeal to me, too, like playing I Spy for things that begin or end with the same sound, tracing the letters of Reid’s name using playdough snakes, and acting out a favourite story. I wonder if Reid would be able to help tell a story based on toys we pulled out of a bag. This sounds like an early version of the silly, collaborative stories that we did in school.

I’m planning to cheat a bit for today’s activity. Reid and I won’t get back from gymnastics until 6:45. I’ll read to Reid from a book that I’ve put together about watching sheep-shearing, baking cookies with Grandma Joyce and skating with the Sens or one about our trip to San Diego. We’ll make a new one together this coming weekend.

Edited to add link to the official site for Family Literacy Day.

Kissing the Ram – that’s brand awareness

Sunday, January 20th, 2008

Before we could go into Melissa’s house on Thursday night, Reid had to stop and kiss the (Dodge) ram on the front of our Caliber. Now, I’ve written before about how much I like the Caliber but I’ve never kissed it. Reid mentions the rams on the car – on the grill at the front, on the steering wheel and maybe elsewhere – most times when we see sheep and always when we talk about the names for the mama, daddy, and baby sheep. In addition to the two-prong outlet, multiple glove compartments with a chill zone, and the reclining back seat, the Caliber is family-friendly for having such a cool logo. (Yes, yes, I know it is on all Dodge vehicle but my story is about *our* car.)

Thinking of Reid’s relationship with brands, I should also report that she has long associated the “golden arches” with hamburgers but has always called it “Old McDonald’s”. Last week after swimming, Ken took Reid for supper while I went out with Melissa. When he told her he was taking her to McDonald’s, though, she looked a bit disappointed and said that it wasn’t her favourite restaurant. Surprised, Ken asked her what was her favourite restauarant. Reid replied, “*Old* McDonald’s”. Ken explained that they were one and the same and so Reid asked if McDonald’s was Ken’s favourite restaurant. He said it is his least favourite and Reid found this a bit shocking. The conversation turned to what restaurant Ken preferred and he couldn’t name one. Reid asked Ken what he would be ordering for himself and he said that he would have a vanilla milkshake. Reid suggested that strawberry milkshakes are very good but Ken stuck with vanilla. Between Reid’s persuasive tone of voice, the sparkle of her eyes and the height of her eyebrows, it was pretty clear that strawberry is Reid’s preferred flavour. Ken had asked me what Reid’s usual order was and I’d told him: hamburger with no pickle, fries and chocolate milk. He asked about a toy. Goodness, I thought, I really am the one to blame for Reid’s hamburger addiction. I changed the order to a Hamburger Happy Meal with a girl toy, specified the food and drink and wondered if Reid would have ordered for herself. Ken’s Aunt Darla sent some McDonald’s gift certificates at Christmas from which Reid and I will get the most use.

Reid is also able to identify the tuna we get by it’s can – Cloverleaf, solid, white, low-sodium – although she doesn’t use the words. I imagine she can also identify the Kraft smooth peanut butter jar and instant Quaker oatmeal. I’m not sure what others she knows and I try to avoid taking her to the grocery store since I consider shopping to be private time but I bet there are others. Reid is an observant 3 year old. She would correct me to say that she is 3 AND A HALF but she can’t read or write and so I just won’t tell her.

Edited to add:

My niece, Sari, who is both a teacher and trained in early childhood education, sent me this and I thought it worth putting up here in the body of this post:

… Reid is in one of the first stages of “reading”.  Reading environmental print, aka brands, stores, restaurants, etc. helps kids with reading later.  In the Early Years classroom at my school, they have a bulletin board with all sorts of labels from cereal, Tim Horton’s stuff, etc. plastered all over it with a title that says, “We are Reading!”  I’m sure you already  know all of this, but I thought I’d point it out because I love hearing stories about kids learning to read!

Why are the museums in Ottawa all closed on Monday?

Friday, January 18th, 2008

With Grandma, Uncle Roger, Aunt Lisa and Brock in Ottawa for an extended weekend, I ran headlong into an unpleasant hostessing reality. All of the national museums in Ottawa are closed on Monday during the winter. It’s not that scandalous, I suppose, except that it seems silly not to expect tourists to come for a long weekend and want to visit a museum. Ottawa is a cold weather destination, after all, with cross country ski trails in the city, in Gatineau Park and elsewhere in the region. There are many downhill ski resorts close by as well. And, of course, Ottawa is known for Winterlude and the World’s Longest Skateway on the Rideau Canal. People in Winnipeg have lately challenged the latter claim and the January thaw we’re coming out of isn’t helping Ottawa’s claim much. Still and all, Ottawa is city to be visited in the winter. I should note that the Agriculture Museum is as open on Mondays as it is on any day in the winter, which is to say that the barns are open but there are no guides in them and the exhibit space is closed. It’s a good, free diversion but not the sort of thing to which you’d send out-of-town folk. I turned to my handy-dandy entertainment coupon book for inspiration and got lucky. The Diefenbunker is open 7 days a week year round.

On Monday afternoon, Uncle Roger, Aunt Lisa and Brock headed to Carp (pronounced cairp by the locals) and the Diefenbunker, Canada’s Cold War Museum. From all accounts, they each found it an interesting experience. I particularly enjoy this museum as it is unlike other museum I’ve visited (and that includes many museums, military and otherwise). I was surprised that Uncle Roger hadn’t been there before but I guess I don’t think to recommend it as often as I should.

I haven’t been since Reid still rode around in the Baby Bjorn carrier on my front and I’d come, too.

Happy birthday, Sulienne

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008

If Sulienne is celebrating her 24th birthday today, and I know she is since it is January 16, 2008, then I am feeling really old. I was just a braces-wearing lass when Suli was born and know, well, at least the effects of the orthodontics have lasted these many years. In honour of Sulienne’s birthday, I’m sharing some random memories (random memories are all I have, to be honest).

* When Karin was pregnant with Sulienne, I sang “Hush, Little Baby” to her belly. When Sulienne was born, Karin asked for the lyrics because she couldn’t remember all of the words. These days, you can find lullaby lyrics on the Web and libraries hold parent and tot classes to teach them.

* Sulienne had the greatest clothes when she was little, I remember a pink sweatsuit in particular and some Hanna Anderssen outfits. Too bad they didn’t survive until Reid was born but, really, everyone had given up on me having a baby before Reid was born.
* When Sulienne was in kindergarten or grade 1, she performed the opening speech at the pageant. She spoke clearly and slowly, remembering all of her words and not sucking on the hem of her dress. The only flaw in her debut performance was that she had to open her arms wide at the end and that took the microphone far from her mouth. Sulienne, the consummate professional, never let on that anything untoward had happened.
* There was this one time, when Karin was doing Sulienne’s hair that Sulienne made an important discovery that led to her interest in biology … but I won’t go into that except to say that I admire Sulienne for her dedication to difficult subjects in university and the enthusiasm she has for what she is studying. Remember *I* have arts degrees.
* Sulienne works hard at tough jobs in order to eat and live and go to university, all at the same time. It is important to acknowledge the effort this requires.
* Sulienne is a good chooser of gifts. She got Reid two hoodie towels as a baby present, one that looks like a frog and one the looks like a bunny for Reid to wear after swimming. Reid has never fussed at being bundled in them as has occasionally happened with regular towels and they keep Reid toasty warm while I dry myself off. We have used these towels for years and continue to receive compliments on them.
* Sulienne came through for me when I needed a babysitter at fairly short notice – one who had to accompany Reid and me to Montreal while I went to a conference. She did a great job of entertaining my munchkin in a strange city. Sulienne showed Reid a good time, with just the right mix of adventures and relax time.

Happy birthday, Sulienne.

Playing dress up – Wordless Wednesday

Wednesday, January 16th, 2008


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The great thing about long hair

Monday, January 14th, 2008

When we were first considering getting a second cat, I read a book that said that even if the first cat doesn’t like the newcomer, it will enjoy staring in disdain at the new one. Watching Reid at gymnastics, twisting her head from side-to-side over and over, I realized that if she gets nothing from having her hair long she’ll always have a “toy”. Ponytails tickle your cheeks, don’t ya know?

Incidentally, for a long time Clio stared at Mars and Leo in disdain but she eventually grew to like them as they ceased being insane kittens.

Do you know what day it is?

Friday, January 11th, 2008

As I’ve mentioned before, Reid and I discuss what day of the week it is each morning before she gets out of bed and what will be happening that day and evening. On Wednesday, we established that it was Wednesday and a daycare day and then I asked if Reid remembered what was happening after daycare. We’d been talking about skating lessons the night before but Reid’s answer, with lots of excitement, was “Grandma and Uncle Roge are coming?!” My “No, skating lessons!” lost a bit of its oomph in the silence that followed. Thursday morning went much the same with our weekly visit to Melissa’s pale in comparison to the possibility of Grandma and Uncle Roger’s imminent arrival.

This morning, I was more prepared and opened with “When you wake up tomorrow, Grandma and Uncle Roger will be here,” before mentioning tonight’s swimming lessons. I sure hope that the weather is good for driving tonight because Reid is more than ready to see Grandma and Uncle Roger. I haven’t mentioned Aunt Lisa or Brock as I’m not as confident that they’ll make an appearance and a couple of surprise guests are better for Reid than the disappointment of last-minute cancellations.

Reid’s latest career – cowboy

Wednesday, January 9th, 2008

Reid chose to wear her Dora the Explorer socks this morning, specifically the ones with Dora wearing a cowboy hat on them. After that first, important choice, she could only choose a shirt and pants that were suitable to a cowboy. Unfortunately, Reid’s assessment of what a cowboy might wear doesn’t match with Ken’s. He proposed a blouse with a flower print, which seemed more cowboy-like than the purple and pink long-sleeved t-shirts that otherwise dominate her shirt drawer, but Reid didn’t think it suitable for a cowboy. She did agree to a striped blouse and so we were able to go downstairs. When I asked what she wanted for breakfast, Reid asked what cowboys ate. It was at this point that I noticed the socks. I’d had no idea where the cowboy shirt request came from since I was getting ready for work in a separate room. We decided that cowboys eat raisin oatmeal and breakfast proceeded as usual. By the time Ken and Reid left, I had that 80s song in my head, I Wanna be a Cowboy, or really just the refrain:

I wanna be a cowboy
And you can be my cowgirl
I wanna be a cowboy
And you can be my cowgirl
I wanna be a cowboy

It stuck with me throughout the day. Thanks, Reid. I guess if the fire fighter and police officer plans fall through, Reid can always be a cowboy.