Galaxie Twelve by FreeCycle. Story by Amie. Typing by Mama. Will be published soon.
Amie and I will be traveling over the next two weeks, so posting will be sporadic, if I post at all. We have a 9-hour plane ride ahead of us (BANG goes the Riot), and my main concern right now is which book to take. That, and getting a letter notarized in which DH gives his consent for me to take our daughter out of the country.
I’ve whittled it down to three:
Death, Sex by Tyler Volk and Dorion Sagan
In the Loyal Mountains by Rick Bass
Wolf Willow by Wallace Stegner
I’ve read about 1/3 of each of these and still can’t decide. Of course I would take The Book if only it weren’t so voluminous – both volumes will come along in my suitcase, though, along with Holmgren’s Permaculture. Amie will read Charlotte’s Web. But hopefully we’ll both sleep on the plane.
In Home-grown Kids’ Hundred Books-A-Month Challenge, we made it to
in the span of a month. I blame it partly on our bad record keeping skills and the crazy weather, which lured us outside all too often for this time of year.
It was great fun, though, keeping track (mostly) and being aware of how much we read. I think, regardless of whether we do the challenge or not (not in December, but January maybe?), we’ll keep a list of Amie’s reading, and I’ll throw in my own titles too.
Thanks Leslie for a great idea!
Amie has often expressed an interest in my journal – in the book itself (the journalist Moleskine) and in the process. I haven’t been writing in my journal regularly, but over this weekend revived my resolution to do so. This morning I pulled it and she asked if she could have a journal too, just like mine.
Several hours later:
I told her what I write in my journal: what my day was like, what I wished my day had been like, what I plan to do, TO DO and other lists, all kinds of information, drawings and photographs, etc. And I showed her the baby journal I kept for her all too briefly.
I proposed she write it herself but if she gets tired of that, she can dictate and I will write it down (literally) for her. When she does choose to write it herself, I help her with the spelling whenever she asks, and if she proposes her own (phonological) spelling, I don’t argue.
I hope she will get as much joy out of journaling as I have over the years.
Over the weekend I attended a two-day Training for Transition – during which she was constantly on my mind. I learned so much, and am still exhausted, it was so intense. Will report on that soon (oh, add it to the list).
Here is our list so far – click for larger but not necessarily for more legible.
We just got a batch of Roald Dahl in, and more Cynthia Rylant books. Amie also loves Lauren Child’s books, for the stories (e.g., Charlie and Lola) as well as the illustrations. So I was excited to see she has illustrated Pippi Longstockin, but once I leafed through the book I doubted Amie would be charmed. Can anyone recommend a well-illustrated Pippi for me?
And in other news Amie caught the flu – probably H1N1 because it is the only flu in town at the moment. She was doing so well since we started her on daily raw milk, elderberry syrup, and an elevated dose (800 IU) of vitamin D. She came off the puffer (asthma medication) almost immediately – the month before we started, she needed 2 puffs every night. When she caught a cold 2 weeks ago, she had only the runny nose and some coughing, and no wheezing, so no puffer – a first!
Still, yesterday the first symptoms started and now she has a mild fever, a sometimes persistent cough, and mild trouble breathing. She’s mostly sleeping, but when she’s not, we’re reading books.
And in the meantime we’re 20 November and it’s 65F out.
We’re all retreating into the living room around the warm fire. There’s so much to do in this contracted world.
Not a day goes by when Amie doesn’t work at her art. She’ll often pronounce “I am practicing because I want to be an artist.” She enjoyed discovering the technique of splashing by rubbing an old toothbrush over a net. She also likes our instruction book on how to draw basic animal figures (ours is an out-of-print Usborne). She was intrigued when I drew some circles and proposed she draw the basic emotions. She got them down right without my help, contorting her face to feel the shape of her mouth, her eyes and nose.
Lions, step by step, from How to Draw Animals
Trying the toothbrush and net splash technique, and the result:
Girl on a bike, from a (paused) video
The last drawing was made from a tiny video still, and Amie became very frustrated with it because it wasn’t turning out exactly the way it looked on the screen. I explained that it was a very difficult subject – the word “subject” is now her favorite – and that the example was really too small. Still, she was nearly in tears, and I cursed myself for not gently leading her away from the project. l will be conscious of this perfectionist streak in her and help her keep it under control. I know how it can ruin the fun! (Also read Lori’s helpful advice in the current Camp Creek Blog thread).
Our 100-books-a-month table, with list
Amie is reading spontaneously now, here and there. Only last week she deciphered “Reese’s Buttercup” and “travel” and “cheese,” all of her own accord. Three-letter-words are read fluently, as well as certain sight words like “the” and “and”. Four-letter-words will soon be rolling off her tongue as well.
I know that at her preschool (Montessori) she uses cards and lists of words and all kinds of reading aids, but here at home she just reads books. She has mostly stopped trying to guess what the words could be by looking at the pictures – not all “first books” are clever in that regard! – but she’s good about using the context of the story and the sentence to speed up her reading. In our 100-book-a-month challenge we are aiming for 1 out of 4 to be read by her.
Amie lists another title
Writing does not come as spontaneously as reading does, but she has gone from penning nonsense words and collections of letters to spelling out real words. When I suggest she write the title of a book we’ve read in our 100-books list, she readily grabs the pen and sets to the job. She will read the words and spell them out as she writes them down, or she’ll copy the letters of the more difficult ones and wonder aloud why some are spelled the way they are. What can I say, English is a funny language! For the latter though I’d rather she use invented spelling than mere copying, which becomes automatic and then she mindlessly forgets letters.
We are now starting to pay attention to her penmanship: the size of the letters (I draw lines) and whether she wants to use capitals or small letters. She still feels more comfortable with the capitals.
Amie will happily spend half an hour on algebra exercises, but usually only with constant encouragement or if we sell it as “homework”. She’ll also do basic exercises on DH’s Ipod. She can solve:
5+8 – _
For anything under 5 and the addition or subtraction of 1 she no longer needs her fingers, doing them in her head – though sometimes it helps her to imagine cookies. She’ll still resort to her fingers, and her toes if need be, for the higher numbers, and we usually stay under 20. We don’t use flash cards but cheapo math books, because she likes to make that mark. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but she does like a sticker as lure and reward, and it helps if the math is presented as a game, like a maze.
We already read about 100 books a month, only they’re often the same ones. (Could it be we sometimes read the same book 100 times? It sure seems that way sometimes!) So our challenge will be to read 100 different books.
Part of the challenge will also be to give Amie a better idea of what “a hundred” means. She is in her exaggeration stage: everything “a hundred and a million!” nowadays. And though she needs no help with addition and subtraction (up to 20), those hardly contribute to estimation.
We also discussed what “challenge” means. We agreed on a definition: “something we do that is not easy, but a bit difficult but still not impossible for us to do and that is fun and that we learn from”.
Amie is in charge of keeping the list – I hope she catches on to the fun and usefulness of keeping lists. We might also make little notes about whether we liked the book or not, and why, and if we would reread it. Amie will also be reading to me, so watch out for some “first books” on the list as well.
So far (today) we’ve read:
Last night, Amie woke up around 2 am, with a scream. She had had a nightmare and, as usual when that happens, she demanded the nightlight be turned on, then proceeded to lie awake, eyes wide open, for two hours. Mama knows because Mama too was awake that entire time – oh the pleasures of co-sleeping…
This evening at dinner we discussed the nightmare and for once she remembered it. She explained:
- I dreamed about Mudge eating the blue snow glory and in my dream his mouth was a big triangle and he gobbled Wall-E up in one gulp!
Wall-E is from Wall-E. Mudge is the dog from Cynthia Rylant’s Henry and Mudge stories, which we’ve been reading non-stop. He is a big dog, but the sweetest, gentlest creature ever to be put down in a children’s book. Still, his size and him eating a blue flower in one of the books was enough to earn him a trip to Amie’s nightmare land.
- So no more Henry and Mudge as bedtime storied? I asked. I was saddened, because I love reading them to her: they’re so funny and sweet, I love the mother and father, and Henry is, like Amie, an only child.
- No, said Amie, better not, because Mudge is just too scary.
As Henry would say, Aw, Mudge!
Last Saturday we had a big dinner with a whole bunch of friends and one of them even stayed over! Oh, I love having people stay over, especially the kind of friend you sit and chat with, after the dishes are done, until midnight…
Sunday warm (“heated up,” even, relatively) as we drove “into town” to drop her off at her place. It was the kind of day that used to be an average day: bookshop, visit with friends, coffee shop. But for us, now, it was out of the ordinary and extra special for that.
Our visit to the Brookline Booksmith ended in too much money being spent, but on books, you know, half of them secondhand, and we’ve been so thrifty, and there were presents for someone else – Henry the Incredible Book Eating Boy by Oliver Jeffers – and poetry (Donald Hall) and one more Rick Bass for my collection, and Barbara Damrosch’s Garden Primer for a steep discount… So perfectly excusable.
We had a lovely visit with dear friends who just had a second baby daughter. We sat and chatted while the baby slept and Amie and her pal played. Afterwards we got in the car with the intention of driving home, but we happened past Simon’s CoffeeShop in Cambridge and DH – a coffee snob – wanted to try their famed espresso. So there we were, the three of us, enjoying our cups – some big, some small.
And reading our books, chatting… So lovely, the three of us together!
On the way home there was this:
And then a quick peek at Walden Pond, where people were still walking on the ice, although it was int eh sixties. Once home there was chatting with neighbors on the street, and swatting at mosquitoes already, while Amie and Baba went for a bikeride. They came home after the sun had (just) set…
I am thinking of participating in Barb-Harmony Art Mom’s weekly “Outdoor Hour” challenges, which follows Anna Botsford Comstock’s book Handbook of Nature Study. Gotta get hold of the book first, though. I’m waiting to get it through the inter-library loan.
This, by the way, is why they call him the Red-Bellied Woodpecker (click on image to see larger):
Tomorrow at the library I’m picking up A Seed is Sleepy by Dianna Hutts Aston and Sylvia Long, as well as Sharon’s Depletion and Abundance. That’ll make for a good mix.
At the library book and cake sale last weekend I picked up some great books, among them some books by Wendell Berry, Rachel Carson’s The Sense of Wonder (old edition) and some great gardening books for $1 a piece!
Too many books to read! But I read one here and another one there, and the ten other ones in the middle, and if all goes well they all mix together wonderfully in my mind, like good watercolors. In the end I can’t quote from any or even remember which message or interesting bit of information came from whom, but it’s cool. I’m done with “learning as information”. I’m into lived learning now.