Thursday, March 30, 2006

The Dark of the Scary Night - Addendum

There was a wizard that was rich and he had gold and then a robot came to town. The robot got the wizard because the wizard was bad. The wizard was stealing the gold from Aikendrum and his family.

The wizard's name was Meatball. Meatball is a boy who is 20 years old. He stole gold from Aikendrum because he wanted to be rich. He will use the gold to buy gold, gold and money. He will spend the gold on everything.

He SNUCK up and he GOT the gold and he STOLE it. Then, he got really fast and he put it all in a big bowl and he had it. He got this gold a couple of years ago.

This happened before Litterhead. Meatball fought Aikendrum with a monster. It had TWO GIANT CLAWS and a big, ugly face. The monster's name was Randall. He was Meatball's pet. Randall wanted the whole world to be HIS, so he was fighting. Then, the monster got the kids but fell down. He fell off a ledge and deep into the sea. Randall just floated away to an island with just junk. The island was called A-Small-Island-With-Junk-On-It.

Randall saw a pirate sitting there. The pirate sliced Randall up with his knife. Then, a dragon came and fought with Yakami. The pirate sailed away. Some taped Randall back together, and he ran and he swam fast and he got back to where his place was. Meatball felt happy.

Elliot Bremson

superhero camp

I want to send Elliot to super hero camp this summer. It sounds right up his alley.

August 7th-11th, ½ day 9:00-12:00 $140.00

This is mission control: Calling all heroes and heroines, the world needs you! Display your amazing feats of super strength. Leap, fly, transport and transform! Develop your secret senses and discover your inner powers. Face great dangers, carry out magnificent rescues, perform fantastic acts of kindness, and SAVE THE DAY!!! Young heroes will explore imaginative scenarios together, through dress-up, character development, storytelling, prop making, creative movement, and improv!

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Daniel Bagley Elementary Montessori

Hurray! We got into our first choice kindergarten. Elliot will be attending the public Montessori program at Daniel Bagley Elementary.

In addition to our contemporary K-5 classrooms, we offer a public Montessori program. Those familiar with a Montessori environment will see a continued emphasis on conceptual and experiential learning. All Montessori classroom teachers at Daniel Bagley are accredited by the state of Washington and have AMS Montessori certification.

This year, we have six multi-age classrooms that provide a Montessori education for Kindergartners through grade 5. All of our classrooms have either two or three grade levels working together within one class.

Montessori: An Education for Life

A Montessori education helps children learn to be independent, self-directed learners equipped with the tools needed to accomplish their academic and personal goals.

The Montessori classroom is a "prepared environment" designed to facilitate maximum independent learning and exploration by the child. Children of different ages work independently, in small groups and with the entire class. Special Montessori materials help the child to solve problems by themselves, building independence, analytical thinking and the satisfaction that comes from true accomplishment.

For additional general information about Montessori education:

It's a girl - Ila Oakley Bremson

Joel and Bessie had a girl! We have a niece, a cousin - Ila Violet Cecily Oakley Bremson. Born March 26th. 7 lbs. 12 ounces. The first girl on both sides of the family. She's going to be the rock star of the family.

Ila in Hindi - earth
Ila in Hebrew - tree
Ila in old French - island

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

All About Asher

Most Frequently Used Words - insight into asher's world
open this please
hungry now
I hungry
stop it
move away
grandma judy
read book
It tastes good.
I thirsty.
It's good.
I happy
I hungry now.
bubble, bubble splash

Waking up at 6:30 in the morning asher popped up in bed singing "Batmaaan."

Asher pointed to a photo of charlene titlon in dallas with jessica simpson's face pasted over, he said, "Judy, Grandma Judy." I asked Elliot who he was talking about and elliot pointed to jessica simpson.

On the phone to lisa gold: "Hallo. I'm Elliot"

Asher's favorite foods
turkey hot dogs

asher walks like a bubble man
a wide, gummy smile

Saturday, March 25, 2006

car accident. fender bender.

we got in a car accident on tuesday march 20th. both kids were in the car. an suv hit the volvo station wagon on the right passenger side wheel well. I was at fault. yield to the right. I thought the car was yielding to me, he was back and I was already in the intersection. I'm going to fight the ticket. request a magistrate hearing. elliot was brave. asher cried a lot. he kept running away into the street. it was raining. glass and pieces of car all over the place.

elliot quotes

when given the choice between watching fiddler on the roof or sponge bob, elliot chooses fiddler on the roof.

today elliot got dressed all by himself. he chose his rock start someday shirt and jeans. then put on a backward nascar baseball hat and sunglasses. he had a carefully crafted look.

Elliot's Alter Egos:
Ed Bupkin.
Elliot Wormslyde.

"I don't like hot dogs, they make my heart break apart and set it on fire"
march 2006

what would you say to martin luther king if he showed up at our school?
"what the heck, I thought you were dead."
january 2006

"I'm going to be 5 in april. the more I talk about it the longer it takes"
january 2006

Elliot to grandma judy:
"As a general rule, it's better not to tip toe in your slippers."
October 2005

When geoffrey giraffe asked elliot if he wanted a cup cake they were giving out free at toys are us, he said, "No thank you. I've already had enough sugar today."
September 2005

When elliot asked danny if he would move over while we were sitting on the couch, danny said "what are you going to do for me?" Elliot said,
"I'll keep your name alive after you leave this earth."
december 2005

in the hot tub in hawaii:
man "We're from Walla-Walla"
woman "We live in west seattle"
woman #2 "We're from Vancouver"
elliot "I'm from candyland"
december 2005

"I know what I'm going to get you for mother's day. I'm going to get you an adult dvd."
may 2005

it's not art deco it's dirty.

no we're leaving, come on kids.

mommy I need sunglasses my eyes are cold.

Bye see you next hannukah. Those uncles are much cooler than I thought it would be.

just say I'm sorry, it makes her feel better. try it. I do it.

It's winky. (elliot language)

Sunday, March 19, 2006

dwell. nest. house.

products I love

Kirei sorghum wood substitute

Ikea has good looking kitchen cabinets.

Toto toilet.

Square tub and square basin.

Eames molded plywood chair.

No shower curtain or glass doors.

A glass door for all three new rooms.

Slate floors.

I like this bathroom >>>>>>>>

The Dark of the Scary Night - The Opening Night Performance

Elliot was very excited, shy and hammy at once. The first play, "The Evil Quincidis" was written by Perri Lancaster, age 4. Elliot subbed for a child who was stuck on the ballard bridge. Wearing a green cape, he streaked across the stage, slid on the floor and made silly faces. The evil quincidis was faith frederick, wearing a princess gown and a paper crown. She was evil and then turned into a good princess by the hero.

Elliot's play, "The Dark of the Scary Night" had little dialogue. It was much longer than the other plays and had many characters. Alicia was the "teacher-prompter" feeding the kids lines, but only a few of the kids said their lines. Elliot was "Aikendrum, our hero" and Ben Walker was "Captain Birdspeed." Many events transpired. I cannot give a plot synopsis, I'll have to wait for the transcript and recording. Asher was screaming and danny left with him. Elliot was embarrased when the spotlight was on him, he made silly faces, said, "aaaaghhh" and then ran off the stage. Jackson Lancaster ran after Elliot. They chased each other through the audience. The play ended.

I noticed that the plays all had monsters, evil things, polar opposites. Conquering their fears. Bolstering their egos, showing strength. Discerning what's right from wrong. Consequences. Testing out theories of the world. Money was a big theme.

The Dark of the Scary Night - A Fairy Tale

Protagonist: Someone who fights sea monsters. He is a hero of the sea. He drives race boats and cars and planes. His name is Aikendrum.

: A person who pays bad taxes and throws bombs. A boy... no a man. About 300 years old. His name is Litterhead.

: An island called The Land of Japan. A city.

Originally performed with the following cast:
(in order of appearance)
Freddie the Dog - Jackson Lancaster
Litterhead - Perri Lancaster
Little Captured Boy - Sean McCarthy
Aikendrum - Elliot Bremson
Land of Japan Police Department - Kyle Petrie
Captain Birdspeed, who lives in the control tower - Ben Walker
Little Captured Boy's Worried Mommy - Faith Frederick

Once upon a time, there was a dog who lived in a very happy house. His name was Freddie. He liked to chew bones and play fetch. He belonged to a super villain named Litterhead.

Litterhead's house is a workshop. He takes little boys and puts them on the shelves, and then he puts them into a big pot of stew to eat them up for dinner. He does that because he doesn't have anything else to eat at home! In his workshop he builds the Great Wall of China, and if someone comes into his workshop, they'll be cut up with knives. Sometimes, he wanted to be good, but he just kept being bad ALL THE TIME! He wanted to make people happy, but he thought they wouldn't be happy if their children died. He was confused.

Aikendrum lived in a big gigantic superfast jet plane. He fights crime ALL DAY. He fights it with laser beams. First, the laser beams get close and the bad guys run away. Then, the laser turns into a crystal, and the bad guy is stuck. The police come and take the bad guy and wrap a bunch of metal around him, and they take him to a place called, Bad Guy Land, where he could be where his family was, but never came back again. Aikendrum ALWAYS wins races. He likes helping people. He's the good guy.

One day Captain Birdspeed (who lives in the control tower) came to Aikendrum's door, and left a message on his voicemail. The message said, "Please put 100 laser beams on Litterhead! He is eating more children and soon the city will be gone!"

Aikendrum sneaked up to Litterhead's workshop. He saw that Litterhead was going to eat more children! Aikendrum shot laser beams at the workshop, and it was frozen into a crystal. Even Litterhead was frozen! The little boys were okay - they jumped out the window. They said, "Thank you! I would be gobbled up by the big giant bad guy! Thank you!" Then they all loved Aikendrum. The little boys' mommies said, "Thank You!" and gave Aikendrum a whole bunch of hugs. Freddie was also ok. He went to live on Aikendrum's plane. He liked it. He barked at crime to scare it away.

Litterhead stayed frozen in his workshop for about 100 weeks. When he came out, the police took off his mask and saw he was just a regular person pretending to be a bad guy. He went to jail for about 107 weeks. Then he came out and he was STILL mean, so the police put him in a zoo car and took him to the animal place. He never got free again.

The End
(That's the whole story)
by Elliot Bremson

A Haunted House on Hallloween

First there was a scary witch who had green hair and ugly black clothes. She had an evil laugh. The witch was going to eat her green stew.

A man walked by her house. He liked her house because it had a mouse on it and broken windows. The windows were hanging down. She didn't take care of her flowers.

The man knocked on her door. He said, "trick or treat." The witch said, "Come inside, I'll give you my best candy." The man ran away.

She ate the stew all by herself. That night she dreamed that she knocked on the man's door, and he gave her candy.

by Elliot Bremson

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Sibling relationships


Deborah Woolley, MSW
Parent Education Instructor, North Seattle Community College

Mention “sibling” and what comes to mind? – “Sibling rivalry.” And when we hear “sibling rivalry,” what do we usually think of? Sibling conflict. Sibling rivalry seems to equate in our minds with sibling conflict.

It’s perfectly understandable that we focus on the conflict aspect of sibling rivalry. In my experience working with co-op parents, sibling conflict is one of the top most troubling issues for parents. It’s painful to watch our kids bickering, shouting at each other, or, worse, physically attacking each other. To see our firstborn shove our new baby is to experience a rush of primal fear and rage that is startling, even terrifying in its intensity. Sibling conflict makes us anxious (Are they going to hurt each other?), it makes us angry (Why do they do keep doing this?), it makes us worry about their inborn nature (Is there something wrong with them?), it’s yet another potential source of parental guilt (What have I done or not done to cause this?), and it flies in the face of what is for many parents a fundamental reason for having more than one child (I want my kids to be close, to have each other when we’re gone, to be friends for life). We panic and want to find some way to STOP it.

Yet sibling conflict is, as we all know, to be expected. It’s the developmentally normal result of a lack of social skills and relationship skills, skills which are not innate but have to be learned. Parents teach these skills by viewing sibling conflicts as “teachable moments” and intervening to model and teach skills like turn-taking, asking, being assertive, expressing appreciation, trading, negotiating, self-calming, problem-solving, and so on. In preschoolers, sibling conflicts are also the result of immature nervous systems: it takes years to develop the neurological as well as behavioral capacity to control impulses, to feel an emotion without acting on it, and to think while feeling strong emotions.

But sibling conflict is about more than a lack of relationship skills, impulse control, and management of emotions; it’s also about actual rivalry. Rivalry for space (“She got in my way!”) and for things (“He took the dumptruck and I wanted it!”), but more importantly, rivalry for the most important resource of all – you. Your time, your attention, your love. One reason we may focus more on the conflict dimension of sibling rivalry rather than this competitive aspect is that we know we love each of our kids fully, wholly –and yes, equally (even though one may be “easier” to love than another because of temperament or other factors). It doesn’t even occur to us that they could be feeling we love them less than their sibling. It seems to us that there’s no need for any rivalry; there’s plenty of love to go around. Yet I always remember the analogy Penelope Leach uses in Your Baby and Child when discussing a sibling’s feelings about a new baby brother or sister. Imagine, she says, that your spouse said, “I love you so much that I’ve decided we’re going to add another one just like you to our family!” One could predict there’d be a certain amount of conflict between you and this new wife/husband; and the conflict would not be based on a lack of social skills but on rivalry for your spouse’s time, attention, and love.

So I want to offer a few suggestions about what parents can do to reduce the rivalry between siblings. I’m calling these “rights” to emphasize how it feels to the child.

The right to their own space. This is about identity, having a separate identity that is recognized and respected. Rivalry increases when a child feels that parents don’t value them as separate, unique selves. So it’s important for siblings to have a private space where they can keep their own possessions and store their own creations. It’s not just about a space for keeping one’s possessions and creations safe, it’s also about having a private space to retreat to for self-soothing or simply to get away.

Private space need not mean a bedroom of one’s own; my kids shared a room for four years because I thought it would strengthen their relationship (and it did). But they each had their own bed, their own shelf, their own storage space. A private play space might be one corner of the dining room walled off by a screen, a treehouse, a tent in the basement. I’ve heard of one family using an old playpen as a space where the older sibling could play with his Legos without having to worry about a young toddler’s intrusions.

The right to their own “stuff.” Again, this is about parents recognizing and respecting each child’s separate identity. We want our kids to learn to share, certainly, and sibling interactions provide the perfect opportunity. Because this is such an important value to us, we may treat everything in the house – toys, equipment, etc. – as common property, to be shared. But how would you feel if all your personal possessions were up for grabs (literally) -- especially if they were being used by people who might inadvertently (or purposefully) destroy, misplace, misuse them?

So there can be “family things”, with the expectation that we share these things, and personal “stuff” that belong to each child separately (including the baby!). Family things provide the opportunity for learning to take turns and share; having things of one’s own provides the opportunity for developing responsibility for possessions and teaches the sibling respect for others’ property. And when a child knows she has things that belong just to her, things that her parents will help keep safe against a sibling’s takeovers, there’s a feeling of security that helps decrease sibling rivalry.

The right to an identity of their own, apart from their sibling. We all have known or seen twins who are always together – and we’re aware that, cute and convenient as this is, it has a definite downside in terms of identity development. It’s less likely with siblings who are different ages, but we still can make the assumption that they’ll like the same things, disregarding the distinct interests and talents and traits that make them uniquely who they are.

Or we may focus more on their differences, labeling them in our minds or to others as “the [fill in trait, ability, or interest] one”: he’s the intense one, she’s the calm one; he’s the musical one, she’s good at sports. If Colin learns to throw a ball earlier than Robin did, but Robin shows an interest in music at an earlier age, then Colin becomes labeled as the “sports” sibling and Robin as the “musical” one; and we may not take Robin out to kick around a soccer ball as often and it may not occur to us to sign Colin up for piano lessons. But what if Colin is interested in music, and Robin also loves sports? They each deserve to be given opportunities for pursuing their interest in music and sports, and not to have to forego it because that’s their sibling’s turf.

It’s natural and probably inevitable to compare our kids, of course. But we need to keep trying to really SEE them as individuals in their own right so that we nurture that individuality

The right to their own developmental timetable, including regressions. A common attitude with firstborns is expecting them to be “older” or more mature than we would expect them to be if they weren’t an older sibling – the baby arrives and suddenly the firstborn has to be a “big” brother or sister. But what about the need to regress sometimes? Development involves leaps forward and regression backward. Conversely, we may tend to treat younger siblings as if they were less capable than they are or could be if we gave them the opportunity. Children deserve the freedom to grow and change at their own pace, not be subject to expectations based on their position relative to their sibling.

The right to private time with each parent. If the most important “resource” that siblings compete for is parental attention (read, “love”), then that time before the sibling arrived must seem like a sort of golden age . . . when s/he had exclusive rights to that most precious resource Once a younger sibling comes along, that one-on-one time typically disappears – until it occurs to parents that some of the conflict they’re seeing is due to the decrease in their availability. The older sibling gets less attention and less time, concludes that s/he’s not loved as much as before, and starts treating the baby as a rival. Another common pattern is for Dad (or parent 2) to take charge of the older sibling while Mom (or parent #1) takes care of the new baby. This is great for the older sib’s sense of being loved and valued by parent #2, but can create a feeling of being no longer valued by parent #1 – and also creates resentment of the baby, leading to acting out in various forms.

Usually parents anticipate and notice the signs of the older sibling’s distress at being displaced by a new baby. I’ve been asked more times than I can count how to deal with an older sibling’s aggression against the baby, and my suggestion always is: Arrange to spend some one-on-one time with your firstborn. If possible, make it a regular thing – e.g., every Wednesday afternoon for a couple of hours, every night for a half hour after Dad gets home – and, if the child is three or older, talk it up in advance. Having a regular “dose” of your exclusive attention will go a long ways to reducing rivalry.

The dynamics are no different once babyhood is past. Having to always share your parent with your sibling(s) can create resentment. Spending time with each child individually – going to a park together, playing a game, doing an art project– gives the child a feeling of being valued, of parents being really interested in him/her; it’s a self-esteem builder, and it reassures the child that there’s plenty of parental love to go around.

The right to time with parents as a couple. There’s something about that triad of two parents and child. Before the sibling(s) entered the picture, this was reality for the first child. Suddenly it’s gone; the baby’s always around, that invader of the cherished space.
So if we can recreate, from time to time, that exclusive relationship, our firstborn will feel more secure

And what about that younger sibling(s) who never had that exclusive relationship with the parents as a couple? Might they not envy the older sib? So giving each child some solo time with the parents-as-a-couple, from time to time, helps with the rivalry. It’s surprising what this yields – for the child, a sense of specialness that equals (in his or her eyes) the sibling’s; for the parents, getting re-acquainted with the child seeing them for who they are in themselves, not in relation to their sibling(s). If you’ve never done this, try it for the sake of your own relationships with your kids.

Respect for these “rights” – even if we can act on it only some of the time – will give each sibling a stronger sense of self and a stronger relationship with us. With that foundation, they’re less likely to feel like rivals for our attention, our time, and our respect. And with less sibling rivalry, there’s likely to be less sibling conflict.

Beyond decreasing their rivalry, what else can we do to cultivate siblings’ relationship with each other? Here are a few ideas.

Suggestions for cultivating the sibling relationship:
  • Get down on the floor and play (or do some shared activity) with both siblings together at least some time each day. As you play, you can model prosocial skills: turntaking, perspective-taking, cooperation, waiting, showing interest in the other’s play, etc.
  • Talk to each, separately, about how much the other enjoys them and looks forward to being together.
  • Teach the older sibling games/activities that will entertain the younger sib, and reinforce (verbally, with praise/descriptive commenting, and nonverbally, with smiles and interest) the older sib for playing with the younger. Point out the younger sibling’s pleasure and interest in the older sibling view to help build the relationship.
  • Talk with the older sibling about child development (in age appropriate language!) to help him/her have patience with the younger sibling’s behavior
  • Have play materials on hand that invite “open-ended” activity and can be used by both siblings in different ways according to their developmental level and interests. Make these accessible to both kids
  • Sit down as a family and look at photos of the two of them together so they can see the history of their relationship and see your pleasure and delight in their interactions.
  • Don’t compare them to each other.
  • Don’t “type” or “label” them – either verbally or mentally.
  • Strive for “fair,” not “equal”; explain the reasons for treating them differently.

Suggestions for helping an older sibling cope with a new baby in the family:
  • Involve the older sib in your activities with the infant – keep them close by when nursing, rocking, etc. Invite them into the circle of care. You might have a basket of “special toys” to be used by the older sib sitting next to you, or “special books.” If you’re doing something with the baby/toddler that makes this impossible, maintain eye contact or verbal contact with the older sibling.
  • Give the older sibling chances to help, specific jobs, roles to fill in relation to the infant, so s/he discovers ways to relate other than rivalry. The jobs/help needn’t be work – it could be “showing the baby” something the older sib can do, etc.
  • Allow the older sibling to regress, to “be a baby” if s/he wants to. Don’t force the older sib to be a “big boy” or “big girl.”
  • Sometimes make the baby/toddler wait while you finish something with your older child, or respond to the older child’s request, etc. “Tell” the baby he has to wait, so that the older sib hears you making her needs a priority.
  • Provide outlets for the older sibling’s anger, aggression, and other negative feelings about the younger sibling (books that raise these issues, puppets and dolls that can be used to play out feelings about the baby, games and active play).
  • Try to enhance the older sibling’s self-esteem – that sense of being an important part of the family, being capable, being admired by the younger sibling, etc.
  • If your older child is three or older, expand their “turf” – cultivate peer relationships, enroll in a music or dance/movement class, go to interesting places in the city. – so that home is not their only sphere.
  • From time to time, show the older sibling photos of himself at the same age as the younger sibling. Talk about how he was at that age and how he’s changed. Cuddle and make this a “special time” so he gets a good feeling about both stages of development (about himself and, by extension, about the sibling’s).

Finally, have fun with them together! Let other things slide so that you can enjoy being together. And show your pleasure. There’s no better way to help them enjoy each other.

Books on this subject:
Jean Illsley Clarke, Self-Esteem: A Family Affair.
Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlisch, Siblings without Rivalry.
Elizabeth Crary, Help, The Kids Are At It Again.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Indigo Theory

In late January, Dan and I were watching Walk the Line at the Neptune theater. A fire alarm went off and we evacuated the theater. There were 200 people spilling onto the street and sidewalk in the rain. Theaters aren't this packed on a Sunday night, it was a strange scene. We found out that most of the people there were waiting to see Indigo Evolution. A new age movie about a new supernaturally gifted children that are the next wave of evolution.

Born with a feeling of royalty, indigos will not respond to authority or any form of discipline based in guilt, fear or manipulation. Most cannot function in traditional school systems, not because they have ADD but because they are smarter than their teachers. Eventually indigos will redeem the world, making it a tropical Eden free of trash, war and processed foods. But if somehow blocked from their purpose, indigos may turn dark, killing their parents, classmates or anyone else who stands in their way.

"These young children--every one of them I've seen thus far who kill their schoolmates or parents--have been indigos," Nancy Ann Tappe, the woman who first recognized the phenomenon, said in the book.

From the Dallas Observer 3/9/06

Sunday Morning

Our life has been "vomitrocious" of late. First Asher (only 24 hours). Then Elliot. He threw up on Thursday night and Friday morning. Saturday was fine. But Elliot woke up Saturday night vomiting. We stripped the bed and covered him up with towels. Washed his bed spread for the second time in 2 days. This morning he denied he threw up.

I have nausea as well. I haven't eaten anything outside of rice since Friday afternoon. Our bathroom smells like a dog.

I'm drinking bubbly water (Elliot says, "I'm not a fan of the bubbly") and eating pretzels. I'm craving popsicles.

I told him he wouldn't be able to go to Carmen's birthday party today and he sobbed. To take the edge off the sting, I mentioned that we could bake her a cake and get together with her next weekend.

Peeing on the Porch

Saturday, Elliot went to the park with a friend and two 11-year old girls told him they were going to pull down his pants. He freaked out and wanted to leave immediately. Rightfully so. A few hours after he got home, he said I'm going to pull down my pants. He opened the front door and peed on the front porch. We told him it's not appropriate to pee anywhere but in the toilet when you're at home.