Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

Big night ahead of us

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

Last Friday, Reid and I went to the playground next to her school, the one I didn’t know existed, and I was ready to leave before she was. I have to keep track of things like supper and bedtime while Reid thinks more of play. It’s the way we divide labour in our family. I told Reid that we needed to leave but offered to go again one night this week. We discussed our week and determined that Monday was out because of swimming lessons. Reid ruled out tonight because, in her words, “I have to learn to read on Tuesday night.” I must have missed that note from the teacher. To go from no homework – I don’t even know what their theme is, if they have one – to being expected to teach Reid to read in one night seems excessive! On the bright side, Reid’s communication book noted that Reid was reading words like “_at” and “_ar” yesterday and so perhaps I’m not starting at nothing.

I’m still going to pitch the park as tonight’s activity since it isn’t too cold (maybe 12 degrees Celsius), it isn’t raining and it isn’t cold yet. Days like these will become less and lass common as autumn progresses here in Ottawa. I want to take advantage of the weather. Maybe Reid can wait to learn to read until the next rainy evening we have.

If you know any authors of books for children

Tuesday, October 7th, 2008

Today was the first day in a month that Reid hasn’t told me that she doesn’t want to go to school. The first week went well at pickup and drop off but since then, Reid has told me that she doesn’t want to go to school. Usually she asks at bedtime if the next day is a school day and if it is, then she says she doesn’t want to go. Sometimes she asks me how much longer she has to go to school and isn’t happy with my “about 20 years” response. Reid declared her preference to abstain from education last night but not this morning. I don’t suppose it will happen again tonight. When I pick Reid up from school, she is always playing happily and sometimes makes me wait until she has finished something before we can leave.

All this to say that if you know Robert Munsch, Marie-Louise Gay, or any other author of children’s books, please let them know that some kids do very well on the first day of school but need a little encouragement as the routine develops. We’ve read many books about first-day jitters but haven’t found any that offer advice for the “hey, my life has really changed” stress that Reid is experiencing.

Me, I’m savouring a day free of my well-practiced “school is fun, important and inevitable” lecture. Hope your day goes well, too.

Robert Munsch, hairstylist to the stars

Saturday, September 27th, 2008

Friday was picture day at Reid’s school. She had many ideas of how her hair should be styled: a small portion in a ponytail on side and the rest on the other side; 2 small ponytails on either side of her face with holders at the top, middle and bottom; one ponytail on the left side and the rest at the back. I kept saying that I wanted her hairstyle to be a bit formal and visible in the photographs. Finally, Reid said that she wanted “Stephanie’s Ponytail”, sticking right out the side, and I agreed.

Robert Munsch, in Stephanie’s Ponytail, tells the story of a girl who wears her hair in a ponytail at the back one day and the kids in her class tell her how ugly it is but then the girls all have that style the next day. Over the next few days, Stephanie has her ponytail out the side and on top and each time it criticized but more and more of the kids copy her latest hairstyle on subsequent days. Finally, Stephanie announces she will be shaving her head and when she arrives at school the next day, all of her classmates and even her teacher have shaved their heads but Stephanie has a ponytail at the back of her head.

Reid thinks that the other kids in the class are silly for copying Stephanie but feels free to take inspiration from her. She went to day care once with a top ponytail that “looked like broccoli growing out of her head” and has chosen a side ponytail a few times, thanks to Stephanie and Robert Munsch‘s influence. I wonder if he ever intended to be the inspiration for little girl’s hairstyles?

Franglais of the best kind

Friday, September 19th, 2008

Reid was listening to a book-on-cd while we drove home last night (thanks again, Uncle Roger) and had trouble getting on of the pages turned. She asked me, “Can you ‘pose’ it?” And I reflexively said, “Do you need me to pause it?” Reid replied, “I need a ‘pose’.” And then I understood. In French, the word “pause” is pronounced “pose” and Reid is spending most of her waking hours in a French environment. This is the first real sign that she is retaining what she hears. I have been having the same trouble for a couple of months. Of course, I also incorporate English words into my French sentences in class and that isn’t considered at all cute, though sometimes we laugh if the pronunciation is extremely French but not good enough to make it a French word. I wonder how Ken will fare with Reid’s and my franglais* when he returns?

One of the women in my class has a daughter who describes her school day and school friends in French because she attends a French-language school and the rest of her life in English. Melissa’s kids are in an immersion program and don’t do this. Of course, they’re only spending about half their time in French – and that’s why I want Reid to acquire language rights to attend the French school system. I sure do hope that she’ll have the necessary French skills by the time she is done kindergarten.

*Franglais is the mixture of French and English words in a given sentence and is practically its own language in Ottawa-Gatineau.

Scary story

Thursday, September 18th, 2008

Just before bedtime last night, Reid took down from the wall one of the pictures that she made recently and announced that she would tell me a story about it. She told me that it would be a scary story and so I would have to hug her tight when she was scared. Reid said the beginning and end wouldn’t be scary but the middle would be. I didn’t ask her why she was planning to tell me a story that was so frightening that she needed to be hugged but I thought the question really loudly.

By the time we got snuggled in for the story, silliness overtook fright. The creature she’d drawn was a monster named Gravement and he was attacked by …. (Reid searched for a moment) … Super Burper who burped and farted on him. When Super Burper started pooping on the head of poor Gravement, I told Reid I didn’t want to hear anymore. And it’s true. I’ve officially heard enough of the potty humour even though it still makes Reid giggle. Don’t let Reid’s fondness for dresses and shoes fool you into thinking that she is a girly-girl.

Do you suppose that this is a phase that Ken wishes he was here to experience fully?

Was it something we said?

Monday, June 2nd, 2008

After supper Friday, Reid asked to be excused and went straight up to her bedroom. I asked Ken if he knew why and he said he didn’t know but it would be useful to be able to reproduce the effect. I called up to ask if everything was okay and Reid said, “Yes. Princess Dolly and I are lying in bed.” Ken and I tidied up from supper and then went upstairs and took turns snuggling and reading for about an hour. Okay, okay. I cleaned up for a bit and then left Ken to finish while I gathered books off of the living room bookshelf and began reading. Ken had to abandon his turn because his voice gave out – gotta love bronchitis – and I got an extra-long turn. Finally, Reid used the bathroom, brushed her teeth and went to sleep. Does this not sound like an ideal Friday evening?

Looks like a …

Sunday, June 1st, 2008

This story may tell as much about my gardening skills as Reid’s world view … As we got out of the car one day recently, Reid looked at the hydrangea bush in our front garden and said, “It looks like The Runaway Bunny.” I immediately knew the illustration to which she referred. She was right. It did look just like The Runaway Bunny! My procrastination in pruning had paid off. (Like I need encouragement to procrastinate ;+) Since then, though, the bunny’s back legs have broken but the branch is still attached by a small piece of bark. I’m regretting not having taken a picture promptly and considering whether to duct tape it back together so that I can take a picture of our Runaway Bunny and the little girl who discovered it.

Now if I can only remember to tell this story to Grandma Joyce, who bought this book for Reid before she was born…

Organizing digital photos – Works for Me Wednesday

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

I read Bit Literacy by Mark Hurst (he writes the Good Experience blog) recently. He shares many good ideas for managing all of the bits and bytes we must work with every day. The chapter titled “Managing Photos” is what motivated me to read the book and it offered clear and simple guidance:

1. Take many photos to increase your chance of getting a great shot.
2. Keep only the fabulous shots and the best one of near-duplicates. (This is the part of the process with which I struggle. I have trouble deleting pics of Reid looking cute or sad or thoughtful or whatever.)
3. Store those that make it past the rigorous vetting within a 2 level hierarchy of [year] and [month number - descriptor], for example, in a folder labelled 2008 there might be subfolders titled 01 general, 01 grandma joyce, 02 daycare, 02 general, 02 winterlude, etc.

The text that explains the method that I’ve summarized will motivate you to finally delete and organize your photos and then keep up with it. Hurst’s perspective on tagging photos and the complexity that we sometimes introduce in our quest to organize had me nodding.

Bit Literacy also covered managing emails, to dos, media, and a variety of file handling tasks. If you take the time to read the whole book, you’ll have quite a few other ideas of things that will work for you as well.

View more Works for me Wednesday posts at Rocks in My Dryer or look at my previous Works for me Wednesday entries.

Paper Bag Princess retold and anniversary

Monday, May 12th, 2008

I took Reid to daycare today, since Ken is in Kingston, it was me or no one. Reid asked what there was to do by the time we made it to the first traffic light. After a big trip, when stuffed animals, markers, stickers, toys and treats come out of bags at unpredictable intervals, the drive to daycare is awfully mundane. I suggested that Reid could talk to me, count schoolbuses or yellow cars, watch for motorcycles … the possibilities are endless. Reid asked me to tell her a princess story.

I know the general outline of the traditional princess stories but Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Rapunzel and the other usual suspects all depend on princes to resolve their problems. The worst might be the princess with the pea problem is a whiner and I praise Reid’s toughness and discourage any behaviour that would require a visit from the “wanhh-mbulance”. (Word compliments of Uncle Roger to deal with whiney kids.) These stories, then, were off the table. Rumplestiltskin might have been acceptable, if I remembered more of it than that a funny name and a spinning wheel figure in there somewhere.

I settled on a retelling of The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch. I think I first encountered this story when I was in university – Munsch has Guelph connections – and I have loved since then. I tried reading it to Reid a year or more ago but she wasn’t as enthralled as me. Maybe she sensed how badly I wanted her to love it. I gave the princess Aunt Pam’s name. I don’t think that is accurate, though. The prince’s name was Ronald. I remember vividly the line, “Prince Ronald you are a bum.” I told about the dragon attacking the castle and the kingdom, not mentioning the fate of all of the people, other than Prince Ronald. Prince Ronald, as you may know, was captured by the dragon and taken to the dragon’s lair. The princess finds him and tricks the dragon into using up all of its fire-breathing capability and energy. Once the dragon is asleep, the princess attempts to rescue Prince Ronald but is rebuffed. He can’t accept her as she is, with messy hair and a dirty face and dressed in the paper bag that she’d managed to salvage in lieu of a dress. Reid was happy with the story.

The next request was for a prince story. I hope the story I made up about Prince William who met a frog in the forest who convinced him that playing in the water was fun and squishing mud between his toes would feel good. The king and queen were glad that he had thought to take off his fancy prince clothes and offered him play clothes for the next day. Getting dirty is important for kids, you know, even for princes. Reid seemed to like this story, too, or at least I think so since she asked me to tell her another. I was saved by our arrival at daycare.

It’s much harder than you would think to be creative without advance notice, in the middle of rush hour. Okay, the drive from our house to daycare isn’t bumper-to-bumper but there are many unpredictable drivers to worry about. It’s best not to be one of them.
When I got to daycare, the Scholastic Book catalogues were on the counter. As I flipped through, I noticed that The Paper Bag Princess – 25th Anniversary edition was available. “What a coincidence!” thought I. Then I thought, was it really 25 years ago that I first read that book. I worked out the math, with much greater accuracy than yesterday when I thought I was celebrating my 3rd Mother’s Day as a mother. So, no, I wasn’t in university 25 years ago. Not even 20 years ago, for that matter. The Paper Bag Princess is still well worth the read. Robert Munsch will even read it for you if you download it.

Knock, knock

Tuesday, April 29th, 2008

As I’ve mentioned before, we read Chirp magazines fairly often. Reid chooses them over most books. I’m glad we have a few from when Danielle was young but I’d add to our collection with yard sale treasures if ever I found them. It’s funny to read the pages exhorting us to go to the backyard and look for bugs when our backyard has at least 3 feet of snow in it but it’s better than limiting ourselves to the winter issues. The toughest part for me, though, are the jokes on the back cover. They’re not at all offensive, although the knock-knock jokes occasionally make me groan. No, my problem is that Reid never understands the jokes but won’t let me skip the page. Instead she asks me to explain them and that sucks the humour out of any joke. I might be more sensitive to this than most as I am awful at telling jokes (or so I’m told). I certainly have had to explain more than my share, I think.

Most recently, I read the May 2008 issue:

1. Tongue twister: Say “backyard fun” 5 times quickly. Reid won’t ever do these but she could do them if she would only try.
2. Pun/Riddle: What’s the biggest ant in the world? (An eleph-ant!)
3. Pun/Riddle: How does a farmer cut her grass? (With a lawn-mooer!) Extra points to Chirp for breaking gender stereotypes.
4. Knock-knock joke:
Me: Knock, Knock.
Reid: Who’s there?
Me: Eddie.
Reid: Who Eddie? (I smile because I like how she continues to get the question backwards. I hope she outgrows it before the other kids make fun of her but not too soon.)
Me: Eddie-body want to come out to play with me? (I look at her expectantly, thinking this one is obviously funny and she’ll laugh.)
Reid: (Dead silent with expectant look.)
Me: Can you hear how “anybody” and “Eddie-body” sound the same? That’s funny. (I guess kids have to learn what funny is?)

What I want to know is this: when do kids find other people’s knock-knock jokes funny and, on the other hand, when can they re-tell funny knock-knock jokes? I remember wishing my nieces and nephews and friends’ kids would *stop*  telling the ones that they make up that are just plain pointless. We’re deep in the middle of that stage at our house. Reid laughs uproariously when she completes a knock-knock joke. Sometimes they involve made-up, silly words and sometimes “bathroom” words. Either way, they tickle Reid’s funny bone and leave me smiling at how much she enjoys them, at least for the first 2 or 3 jokes. Recently Reid has started wanting to take turns starting the exchange which means, of course, that I need to have good knock-knock jokes in my head. I generally don’t. I’ve done a little Internet research and now just need to memorize a few. Not that Reid will find them amusing but I have a little pride in my joke-telling skills, no matter how humble they may be.