Thursday, January 29, 2009

Huge News

Monday night, I sat down with Q and a handful of beginning reader books. These are called 'BOB' books. Several boxes of very simple skill sets. Q and I look at one and I read a sentence. Then I ask him if he can read the next one. Three letter words or less, usually sentences of five words or less.

And Q does it. He READS.

I'm beside myself with excitement and delight. And yet I find that I'm checking myself. I don't want to boast that Q is reading when most of his peers aren't yet. (And, let's be honest, he read a few sentences and has since then shown no interest in repeating the event, perhaps because I'm making such a big deal about it.)

But this isn't about me boasting. This is about Q doing something really so cool that no matter how old your kid is when they begin to read, you really ought to be excited and thrilled.

And oh, baby, am I.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Big Day of Trains

Today Q and I went to the Amherst Railway Society's Railroad Hobby Show. Q had a blast with his friend "Peter."* (*Not his real name.)

After a rough start that included several meltdowns, all my kid, which I initially feared were a result of illness and envisioned puking on my shoes, or maybe onto an expensive model train, Q ate two bags of cookies and rallied.

I was cautioned by Steve Cryon, a local model train expert, to bring along a sturdy bucket for Q to stand on. This was genius. Q and Peter happily lugged their buckets from train layout to train layout for hours. I wish I were kidding. Peter's mother and I trailed behind and did minor herding, trying not to yawn too obviously.

Don't get me wrong. These train layouts and displays are seriously cool. But I was satisfied after an hour. Not to mention that from late November till February, we have a train layout at the local The Connecticut River Museum (by Steve Cryon mentioned above) that is incredibly detailed and cool.

It was a minor miracle that no one flipped out when we left, but perhaps the promise of lunch (at 1:30) was enticing enough to allow for the graceful exit.

Peter's mom and I feel that we must have earned the equivalent of a Boy Scout badge in Motherhood: Good Mom's Club - Model Train Badge.

After putting the kids to bed tonight, I collapsed on my own, rousing only to yell, "Shake it off!" when Q appealed that he was, "Having a Bad Dream!"

And this is what Noodle did today with Grandma: Baby Lambs.

I'm seriously jealous.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Cold Brave Winter

Noodle is popping out words like crazy. Today's included "potty!" as she patted the one hanging out in my sewing room. She kept talking about Elmo all down the stairs, causing me some distress (she doesn't watch that much Sesame Street does she?) until she was settled in for breakfast and I finally figured out what the little alien was talking about: oatmeal. We also got 'applesauce' at breakfast, clearly enough for me to understand on the first try. ('apasauce' ) My absolute favorite, which she says in reciprocation, if I say, "love you" she replies, "ov ooo."

This week I made the mistake of trying to explain how radios work to Q. Which led to (I believe in this order) satellites, cell phones, gravity and how the earth orbits the sun. Poor child. No telling what he thinks now. Next time I think I'll stick to, "It's magic!" Which is about as comprehensible as what I was telling him.

Tomorrow I am braving the world of train hobby shows. This might be a serious mistake. I'm feeling seriously fortunate because a friend has agreed to join me with her own 4-year-old. I was told to bring a bucket for Q to stand on. The timing was excellent. Noodle is getting Grandma all to herself, as well as a trip to see baby lambs. I am wondering why I am not going to see the baby lambs.

Shortly after I posted this, Noodle decided that she wasn't done for the night, she casually handed over four new words like she'd been trying them for months: bear, bottle (like empty soda bottles), lid (yes, odd, eh?), and hand. I know I've tried to get her to say bear before with no success, but the others seem especially odd. Not like 'emenems' which she picked up with the obvious positive reinforcement over the weekend. It just feels so strange, like someone figured out where the switch was and now she can talk.

Oh, and she has 2 to 3 canines finally cutting through her gums, after months of effort and waking me up. A relief for us both.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009


Recently Q has been asking about death. I think the first questions came up when we read 'The Story of Jonah,' illustrated by Peter Spier. However, I'm sure the topic would have arisen soon anyways, since (unfortunately) Q is starting to pay attention to adult conversation. Overhearing me mention that C's mother and S's grandfather died this past year sparked another flurry of questions.

We've been over the subject in a fairly cursory manner, about what we think is appropriate for a four year old. He returns to the topic when I'm least expecting it, causing me panic attacks.

"Mommy, when will you die?" A pop quiz in the car this time.

I answer calmly, "We hope not till I'm very old, honey."

"About twenty years." J mutters from the driver's seat. "Shut up." I reply.

"A hundred years from now?"

"That would be a long time, but maybe a little too long." I reply. "I hope not till you are grown up with children of your own."

"About twenty years." J quips again. "Shut up." I reply.

Although I know there's simply curiosity behind it, the most unnerving are questions like, "Mommy, when will Noodle die? When will I die?"

My reaction is out of proportion to the questions. I see ghostly visions when he asks, as if to talk about death with a child is to invite Death to dinner. That-which-should-not-be-spoken-of.

Q is searching for something with his questions. Not necessarily ages or dates, but the answer to a question he doesn't quite understand well enough to ask, and I don't understand well enough to answer.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The First? Annual? Cookie Decorating Party

First of all, I baked too many cookies. I knew that the actual number of cookies to child ratio was unnecessarily high. But I couldn't stop myself. Especially after I softened the butter.

Then I made too much frosting. There's logic here. Really. If you make that many cookies, you're going to want enough frosting for them all.

This is after the initial mistake, which was inviting too many children, all of whom (well, except for the twins) had younger siblings who were very likely to come as well. After all, I do have two kids of my own, and the younger one is close to the same age as all the other siblings. The total potential number of children: 16. Mind you, we've never done the 'easy' birthday thing with inviting the number of kids of your child's age plus one. But well, I mean, all these kids needed to be invited. Or at least their moms did.

Then there was the disastrous week of illness which required a postponement of the party.

So there was a little psychological pressure to not screw it up further.

And if we assess the success of the party by how many children actually decorated cookies (almost all of them), or by how long any of them spent decorating cookies (Noodle got the record, spending approximately 30 minutes with cookies, frosting, and m&ms at the table, and somewhat reliable witnesses claiming that she was really decorating the cookies), we held a decent party.

But I like other measurements, like how many children cried when it was time to go: at least three. Or whether the children managed to 'mingle' amongst themselves (yes!). Or whether the adults had to constantly monitor every room (no!). And, lovely to experience, whether the adults got to enjoy themselves (yes!).

Final measurement - would I do it again? Yes. But someone needs to take photos. All that cleaning should be documented, as well as its demise.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Clean Baby

Last night we were at Grandma's for dinner and when we came home we did an abbreviated bedtime - no bath for the kids. So this morning, no surprise, as I'm nibbling on Noodle's toes I notice that they're a wee bit stinky. (Who knew she used her feet so much?) After breakfast I gave her a quick little bath and let her play some in the tub, then bundled her into a warm towel, let her toddle around, got clothes on her, read her a couple of books, slipped her feet into socks while she protested.

When her copper hair is freshly washed, the back curls up into ringlets. Having straight hair myself, I take serious delight in this. But more than just my vanity in her curls, getting a chance to savor a clean baby is a physical joy. The skin is so soft, hair smells of baby shampoo, newly diapered butts settling into your lap with a little paper thump. I nestle my nose into Noodle's curls and breathe in, relishing the moment and stretching it out as long as I can.