Monday, October 29, 2012

A Favorite Book, A New Word

It's hard to believe that John Michael is now old enough to listen to some of my favorite childhood stories.  Tonight he chose "Bread and Jam for Frances."  I love all of the songs she sings to her poached egg, breaded veal cutlet and when she is skipping rope. 

One of the funniest things I will always remember about this book - okay, now it's two, because I just remembered another - is that Gracie wanted a poached egg after we read it a few times.  And they are now one of her favorites!  Too funny that Gracie gets a new favorite food from a book about a picky eater!  Second funny thing I always think about when reading this book is from my childhood.  If you read the dedication, it is for "Julia, who always liked to practice with a string bean when she could" (okay, I put quotes but I'm paraphrasing.  The boy is asleep and I am not going in the room to retrieve the book for an accurate quote!).  My oldest sister is Julia, so we always got a kick out of that dedication. 

Anyhow, after giggling our way through the book, JM and I were talking about the nursery rhymes his class is going to recite on Wednesday (they have a Mother Goose program and party).  I got him to say a few, but then he was back to his perpetual favorite these days, the alphabet.  "Is the alphabet a nursery rhyme?" was his question.  Then he went back to singing it in his own special way - without all of the traditional 26 letters.  He thinks he only needs about 10 or 12 of them.  Anyhow, tonight he thought he should only have three - A, B, and Z.  So I said the only words we would have with that alphabet would be baz-zab.  To which he replied "Did I spell a word?" 

So then I suggested we try spelling C-A-T.  That one threw him for a loop since his sister walked into his room for a minute and distracted him.   So I said let's try an easy one ... D-O-G, dog.  So he repeated the letters D-O-G.  Yay!  We were making progress. 

Then JM said "Let's spell dot."  And I was just about to ask him if he knew what made the tttt sound, when he plowed ahead and said "DotCom, let's spell DotCom." 

Saturday, October 27, 2012


Yes, there have been many birthdays around these parts that I haven't posted about.  So - beginning to catch up and so ya get an April birthday post.  In fact, everyone except for Mike is due a belated birthday post. And that's especially funny since he is perpetually trying to convince the kids that it's his birthday every month, if not every week. 

So - first up, JM!

And what better way to start off your 4th birthday than with a trip to Big Daddy's Donuts!  Woo-hoo! 

And the day only got better!  Look who arrived for the celebration:
(with J and Mimi, too).  It worked out wonderfully that two of the Wrabls were in town and could come over with Mimi to the party.  We put Mimi to work right away, baking the cake with JM (who is wearing "his" apron - one of the ones Grandma passed down to the kids).  When I was growing up, it was always specifically not allowed for the birthday person to be involved in the baking/icing of the cake. In our house, we seemed to have reversed that - the birthday kiddo always wants to bake, ice and decorate his/her own cake. 

And since I did most of the icing on this cake, JM took on candle duty:

And Clara would be upset if I didn't mention that the Thomas on top of the cake is HERS.  I had much more elaborate ideas for the cake, but looking at the railroad tracks I layed down, I think it's good I took the simple approach.  But I did really love the cake that had an extra half layer that they decorated as a tunnel and had Thomas coming out of that!  Maybe when he's 14 and I have had lots more time to practice.

At present time, JM had lots of help.  Thankfully, there wasn't too much fighting with his sis!  They managed to work almost everything out.  That's one of the best things about the kids getting older, we don't have to constantly intervene.  Especially when we are in the car, I have found that if I can just stand listening to the arguing for a little bit, a resolution will usually rise up out of it all.  And it's usually nothing like what I would have suggested.  In fact, when I might have suggested that somebody share a toy or play with a sibling for a few minutes, they might promise to do something for an hour or half a day, etc.  Of course, lots of times my patience doesn't last and I step in and draw the line!  I'm waiting for the invention of the chauffeur window divider that works in a family car at the press of a button - there's a million/billion? dollar invention. 

So we had a grand day celebrating JM turning 4.  He still wasn't quite sure about counting to four (we can do that now!) and it definitely took a few weeks (months?) of practicing holding up four fingers.  We had just managed to learn three a month or so before he turned 4.  This is what happens to the 3rd child when Mommy doesn't take as much time to teach these things!  But that's okay, JM might not have had time to learn them - he is so busy with his trains, his Dogtown stories (imaginary place that all of this dog friends - Barbar, Biscuit, Brown, Pal, Ollie, Ripa, etc. live and of course, drive trains), and zooming around on his plasma car or scooter.  Happy Birthday, JM!  May you always enjoy life so much and have such passion (trains!), Little Man.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Around the House

 Updates on everyone!

In the last six weeks, Gracie has grown 1/2 an inch!  I wouldn't have believed it, but I am the one that measured her on Clara's birthday (8/19) and then on 10/2.  At least that explains the week that she just seemed to eat non-stop!  A big dinner, desert and then several snacks of nuts and craisins was her routine for a few days.  And I couldn't seem to pack enough in her lunch for school.  It's amazing that a body can actually grow that fast.
On the academic front, I am so proud of my Gracie - she is part of the Math Olympics team at school!  It is a math competition for third grade and up, and she qualified for it based on a test that everyone took.  She has never believed that she is good at math and is always saying how she doesn't like it.  Before the day of the test, she was a little worried, but I reminded her that this was just an extra activity and to just do her best on the test and not worry about the outcome. 

She was so happy the afternoon she told me that she had made the team - "I made Math Olympics!"  she said with a big smile on her face.  Then she told me that when they made the announcement in chapel, calling up the kids who had made Math Olympics, she didn't even hear them say her name (she thought they said Tracy) and her teacher had to nudge her and tell her to go up front. 

It was a great confidence booster for her.  I hope she enjoys the competition.  It's sometime in November, and I guess they usually have some practices before the actual competition.  Math was always my favorite subject, so it's nice to see her have a positive reaction to math!

 John Michael

Still as crazy about trains, he got a smile from the grownups in music class today.  The children get to choose a way to "play" their two wooden sticks.  JM demonstrated rubbing one across the other, so Miss Carol asked him what he would call that (most kids say "Rub").  But not John Michael - "Train Pistons!"  So we got to sing about "Pistons Pushing" while we rubbed our two sticks together.   

As we were heading to the car the other morning, I said to John Michael as we ran crazily across the parking lot together, hand in hand and laughing: "What am I going to do when you are in school and I am by myself?"

JM's reply: "Go shopping!"

What a great response, right?  So then I proceeded to ask him what I should shop for, "Toys!" was the answer.  (I told him I thought maybe I should go shopping for myself, but he didn't think that was a good idea.)

I laughed and didn't think much about it.  Apparently, he took it a little more seriously.  As he was climbing into the van after school, his first question was "What toys did you get me while you were shopping?"

Our resident spelling bee practice maniac!  She won her grade's spelling bee last year and is determined to do it again.  She's had the practice list of words for less than a week and I think we have practiced over 200 words.  And amazingly, she has gotten about 90% of them right on the first try.  It is also amazing to see the difference from last year.  Having never spelled words out loud before last year, it was hard just to make that transition.  We spent a lot of time last year working on being able to spell the word orally - I had kind of forgotten what a process that is, but you have to be able to think the letters, keep them all in your mind and not lose track of where you are.  And during the spelling bee, it is very strict - once you have said a letter, you can't 'take it back.'  You can ask to start over, but you have to use all of the same letters you have already said aloud.  Anyhow, we will see how she does this year - the spelling bee is on Thursday, November 1st.  (Gracie is also planning to compete in her grade's spelling bee - she's just not as fanatical about practicing.  She's reserving most of her energy for the Speech Meet which will be November 3rd.)

Helping the girls study for the spelling bee made me realize just how much older they are getting.  There were actually words on both of their spelling lists that I didn't know and had to look up.  I felt a little better after I looked them up - at least one was an arcane, spelling bee, crossword type word that is not really used day-to-day.  Abaft or elide, anyone? 

Oh - and I just finished reading one of "Gracie's" books (and enjoyed it!).