Sunday, December 28, 2014

Picture Poetry

Baby Glee:
Take it off of me.
I'm done with that!
Persimmons Galore
216 cookies to store.
 Road Rash:
Baby walker dealt the bash.
Almost crying.
 Giggles are a cinch
With a little pinch.
Peeled and separated with pride.
 Rain Done:
Out to run.
Ficus Tree:
Balance beams for Lee.
 First Tea:
Milk, water, honey. 
 Sepia Tint:
Ellis Island Immigrant
 Why So Serious:
Eating dirt without us.
 Facia Rocks:
Uptown's climbing blocks.
Waves of the ocean.
Phil in vision.
 Winter Beach:
Within Grandpa's reach.
Phil's craftsmanship leant.
Thighs of thunder.

Little Sock: 
Celery stalk.
Opened In a Rush:
 Walnuts, mints, and toothbrush.
 Collapsable Fort:
Uncle Jacob can contort.
She bangs alone.
Wreath for Advent:
Christmas or lent.
Apple Computer:
Joint gift will suit her.
 Dogs Outside:
Should I hide?
Engross big boys.
 Full Arms:
Family picture charms.
 Tonka Truck's
Lever is Stuck.
Silly Pucker:
 Aunt Luanne's Rocker
 Suspicious Bottle:
"Dang" root beer model.
 Car Carrier
Makes little boy merrier.
 Zooming Cars:
Gotta show Lars.
Room's a Mess:
It's the best.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Library Finds: Great Books for Children

We have found a few more winners at the Whittier Public Library. This time around, Phil observed that we encountered a book with a villain (The Three Little Rigs). Now that Phil has mentioned it, very few books for a two-year-old audience have villains. Could it be that the two-year-old world of literature is lacking in this area? I hesitate to say so because I've  skipped over all those books about monsters under the bed. 

I'm beginning to notice many repeated concepts in children's literature: wordless books about shapes or lines or shadows that come to life, grandmother stories about sweet bears or bunnies (I call these grandmother books because I imagine a little old lady finally becoming a grandmother and she's so excited that she writes a story about a nice, soft, sweet animal that will bore parents to tears.), Polar bear books that seem written by an environmentalist who never had children, and wannabe poetry books that like to say things like, "The truck ground its gears like a giant grunting," or "Taste the colors of the sunset," or "The planes flew by, roaring, rumbling, buzzing, zooming." Um, have these authors forgotten that they're writing for children? 

So here are the stories that have my praise this month. Favorite library finds:

George Flies South by Simon James. Lovely watercolored book about a bird that hasn't learned how to fly yet. The layout and text was well thought out. Lee enjoyed this one. (Book Rating:  7)
Red Sled by Lita Judge. Another watercolored masterpiece about a bear that borrows a red sled for a night. No text. The pictures said it all. Excellent composition. (Book Rating: 7)

Acutal Size by Steve Jenkins. A large picture book that showed the actual sizes of creatures' body parts. Book included educational facts for the parents to enjoy. Lee wasn't so interested in this one but his parents were. (Book Rating 7)

Not Inside this House! By Kevin Lewis. Clever story about a boy named Livingstone Magellan Crouse who keeps bringing home larger and larger animals. Unique illustrations. Lee liked to laugh at this one. (Book Rating: 10)

Warning, Do not Open This Book! by Adam Lehrhaupt. Another clever story that asks the reader not to let the monkeys out. Has an excellent ending that compelled Lee to ask for the book again and again. (Book Rating: 10)

The Three Little Rigs by David Gordon. The story with a villain. A play off the three little pigs. Great illustrations with excellent color and composition. Why am I not surprised to hear that David Gordon also did concept work for Pixar. (Book Rating: 10)

Ice by Arthur Geisert. Wordless picture book with clever line drawings. Phil said that if he were ever to write a children's book, the pictures would look like Arthur Geisert's. This story is about an island of pigs who are trying to escape the heat. (Book Rating: 9)

The Giant Seed  by Authur Geisert. Another clever wordless book about an island of pigs who are trying to escape a volcano. (Book Rating 9)

Ox-cart Man by Donald Hall. Poetic cyclical story about a man and his family who work all winter in order to sell all they have at Portsmouth in the fall. This story makes work seems simple and beautiful. It was a bit dull for children, but read with the right cadence and voice inflection, we were able to keep Lee interested. (Book Rating: 9)

My No, No, No Day!  by Rebecca Patterson. A laugh out loud book for parents. Excellent show-by-example story to teach children how silly a pouting, grumpy child can look. Lee even liked it. (Book Rating: 9)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

An Experiment in Silence

I survived. The house didn’t burn down. My two-and-a-half-year-old didn’t eat my ten-month-old. I got out of the house for a walk. I had three meals and four visitors, and I discovered how little my words are actually needed in parenting.

This past week I went one day without speaking. I allowed myself to say, “Thank you,” “Okay,” and “Please,” to use sounds as signals, to read books and sing songs. And no, I didn’t sing my way through the day, making up songs about going potty or getting your shoes on for a walk. If a neighbor greeted me, I could return the greeting, although I found a wave worked just as fine. If someone called, I answered. And if people came over I would speak but with simplicity, not worrying about filling the silence or complaining about the day’s trials or qualifying my statements to manage what others might think of me.

Monday was my test day. I tried speaking as little as possible. And when hand motions or sounds wouldn’t work for Lee, I created lists of tasks with pictures. I explained each task to him as they came up: taking a walk, eating, napping, bathing, and going to bed. Each completed set of tasks earned a sticker. Three stickers earned three mini marshmallows.

Tuesday was my day of silence.

On both days, the trial run day and the day of silence, Lee said numerous new phrases, describing things he saw and filling the silences with what I would usually say. When he nearly lost his balance on a stool, he said, “Don’t fall.” When he refused to put his foot into the sock that I was holding open for him, he said, “No sock. No walk.” After he ran away from me on a walk, and I told him he would be spanked for this, he said, “Being naughty. Whack a bum bum.” 

As you might imagine with anyone who has lost a faculty, refraining from speech caused me to see and hear more. I noticed the many expressions on my children’s faces: puzzlement or excitement in their eyes, gnawing of their teeth/gums, or longing gazes outside. I heard the wind through the trees, and realized how quite our neighborhood is.

I discovered the power of being singularly focused. When Lee tripped running, I couldn’t say over my shoulder, “Ouch! That must’ve hurt,” and then continue on with whatever I was doing. Instead I had to stop, acknowledge his hurt with a concerned look, and if his pain was long lasting, I comforted him with a hug or back rub. For those few moments, I did nothing else. I suppose that made his pain feel legitimized. 

I also discovered the power of simple and swift punishments. When he began to do something unacceptable, I would make a Na’ah sound. If he persisted, I would hand signal a flick to the hand. If he still persisted, I had to follow through. I couldn’t tell him why I don’t want him doing this or that. I couldn’t emphasis the dangers of what he was doing. Nor could I tempt him with some other activity. 

This kind of parenting was a relief to the laborious and exhausting method of hoping that a clear explanation, a warning, and a threat will curb a desire to do evil. Less talk. More action. I like it.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Halloween Under Construction

I'm starting to think Halloween was invented for parents rather than children. Can anyone get enough of their cute kids in costumes? I can't stand it! He's a construction worker in case you couldn't tell.

 Rose blended in with an old onsie that used to be Phil's when he was a baby.

Highlights of the evening were: building the bonfire with the Daddy man.
 Eating candy for perhaps not the first time, but definitely a rare occasion in this household.
 And welcoming Lois Thorpe's troupe of Korean foreign exchange students who enjoyed trick or treating, smores, and hot apple cider for the first time. They were dressed in the most interesting attire (a nurse, cop, maid, Santa, and bunny), all of which looked like they'd come from A Touch of Romance.

Best costumes of the night were a pyramid, a cook, and three confident teen boys dressed up like bananas. Phil did the old toss-a-stick-into-the-fire-in-order-to-get-candy-routine, which was a bit hit for both the young and too-old-to-be-tick-or-treating. The rain came right as we started packing up, and we're enjoying the puffy clouds today and weather to bake by.