Monday, August 28, 2006

Laura on Project Runway - Baby #6

I loved Laura's comment last week about baby #6. "I don't think anybody's really ready for their sixth child, but five, six, seven, it doesn't make that big of a difference. I'll just throw it on the pile with the other ones."

Laura must have two nannies, she's a millionairess architect living in NYC. I guess the kids take care of each other. FourFour said her hardboiled philosophy was refreshing. Hard core mommy.

Swimming, diving for keys

Sunday we all went to the pool to witness Elliot's new swimming skills. I heard rumors that Elliot could do the crawl (or a version of it) and swim the length of the illustrious condo pool (well short side to short side), I was dying to see it. He was so proud of himself. My little seal, golden brown slipping easily in and out of the water. I haven't worn a bathing suit in a year. Dad is the swimming parent. Asher clings to Dan for his dear life, shoving me aside, "no daaaadddddyyyyy."

The twice weekly individual lessons paid off. He amazingly didn't drown, he poked his head out of the water and allowed his arms and legs to propel him from wall to wall. I threw a rock in the pool and had him dive for it. He held his breath and grabbed the prize. We threw keys to the shallow end and he easily picked them up. A different kid from the one who refused to put his head in the water only a few weeks ago.

I'm hoping his success; this new confidence and faith in risk taking translates well into kindergarten readiness.

My Personal DNA

I took the Personal DNA - Your True Self Revealed Test - Apparently I'm a "generous creator":

Generous Creator

Friday, August 25, 2006

lydia davis on learning to read

I found this old interview with one of my favorite writers Lydia Davis in the Bomb Magazine archives. I've been interested in literary insights into childhood lately. Walter Benjamin's object related ruminations. Hidden meanings in things, everything is pattern based. Lydia loved the words "look" and "see." Unlocking the pattern of language is something that is supposed to click all at once (with exposure and practice). One day it makes sense and you know how to read.

Francine Prose: Do you remember learning to read?

LYDIA DAVIS Yes, and my memories of the Dick and Jane books are very happy memories. I loved learning the words "look" and "see": "Run, Jane, run. See Jane run." It was so clear and easy and unconfusing and neat. Actually I spent my second grade year in Austria. I had one year of learning to read in English and then I learned to read in German. I still have the German textbooks in which the letters got smaller and smaller as the pages progressed through the book.

fp How sadistic!
LD That’s right, very sadistic.

fp Do you think about the rhythms of Dick and Jane?
LD I always liked clarity and simplicity and balance. All rhythms can be seductive. I was attuned to the music of language as well as the music of music. Learning another language when I was seven probably made me hyperconscious of language; also the German language in the classroom was a wall of incomprehensibility around me. Gradually the words began to have meaning. But first I heard the language as rhythm.

fp So do you write for rhythm now?
LD Yes, it’s always rhythm. I always hear it in my head.

p And languages?
LD I was very good at languages. I loved Latin. Latin actually made more sense than French, probably because of the math element again.

fp I loved Latin, although I hated math. That the two things were related never occurred to me. I loved Latin because of how logical it was, like solving a crossword puzzle. There was an answer, and you got it.

LD When you’re solving the problem of the Latin sentence, there are two things going on: the pleasure of solving the puzzle, but also the emotional satisfaction of finding out what this mysterious thing is. Then there’s another pleasure—the pleasure of putting it into English words. I like English best. People assume because I translate French I’m a Francophile, but the fact is I don’t like French as much as I like English.

fp What is it about English?
LD The plainness. I love the Anglo-Saxon words as opposed to the Latinate. Bread, milk, love, war, peace, cow, dog. The English word "and" seems much more solid, like an apple. Maybe it has to do with those early Dick and Jane books again. Words beginning with "a", "and" and "apple" are somehow healthy. The Spanish "y" is just preposterous. It’s weird and strange. (laughter)

What do you know about pirates?

What is a Pirate?: A Preschool Transcript

Teacher: what do you know about pirates?

Theaux: They have spotting scopes

Cedric: They kill people

Reilly: They have really sharp swords

Elliot: If you go to the movie theatre, they have a movie coming out called Pirates of the Carribean. It was good.

Reilly: They have really green teeth!

Theaux:Well you know what pirates do? They fight...about gold.

Cedric: Yeah, about how much gold they should have!

Elliot: They fight about who gets the treasure. They all have good reasons for it.

Reilly: Treasure planet is a movie about pirates. They look like somebody.

Theaux: They have hats. Black hats.

Cedric: I saw the Little Rascals. They ship had kids riding on it.

Reilly: They look like skeletons.

Elliot: The hats have skulls in the middle with bones crossed on them.

Theaux: They say ARGH! And you know what they say it just for fun? I have to whisper it to you. They say Argh Booty. Booty means gold.

Elliot: They dig for treasure a LOT! They dig for it under the ground.

Theaux: You know what pirates love more more more than anything? Shiny stuff.

Reilly: Gold is made of yellow.

Elliot: They have stripes of gold on their treasure chests. But it's pretty sad that pirates don't live anymore.

Theaux: They wear eye patches to scare people.

Reyhan: Well they're really bad because pirates are bad as they can be. Pirates have hats and swords like stuff and that means they have a pirate ship. They have patches on their eyes...because they are pirates.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Welcome to Kindergarten

We received our packet of kindergarten papers today. It's here! In two weeks Elliot starts school at Bagley Elementary. He will have Ms. Toner for his teacher. Ms Toner is in her 20s, and herself attended Montessori schools all her life. Her classroom was very tidy and bright in contrast to the other teacher who had a lights out, socks only, more lived in, groovy sort of room. I've heard really good things about Ms. Toner. We're invited to a meet and greet next Wednesday with Ms. Toner. Elliot will be in the same kindergarten as Maxine whom he has known since he was 4 months old.

Public School Documents
I had to sign many official documents. Internet use notification, the notification of rights under the family educational rights and privacy act, health registration form, disabilities declaration form, family registry form, the pesticide notification form, and the code of conduct.

The Code:

  1. I will listen and cooperate with the adult who is speaking to me
  2. I will follow directions the first time
  3. I will be responsible and show respect for myself, others and property with my language and behavior
  4. I will wait quietly in line and walk in the building
  5. I will give all things my best effort
I love it. It does seem a little cold though. Maybe put "I will give all things my best effort" first. We've been working with Elliot on dinner table ettiquette, the rules fit right in with the Code:
  1. I will have a calm body and quiet voice
  2. I will sit with my bottom on my chair and my feet in front of me
  3. I will stay seated until I'm excused from the table
We'll work on dinner table conversation later. My baby is growing up. We're going school supply shopping soon (so exciting!). Peachy folders! Pink Pearl erasers! Crayola! I know, I know. I won't think school supplies are so cute once I'm spending 3 hours every night helping him do homework (hopefully that won't be the case though).

Three glue sticks
Two boxes of Kleenex
Two rolls of permanent double back tape
One box of Crayola Classic Markers
One box of Crayola Colored Pencils
One box of Crayola Crayons (24 hours)
One box of Pink Pearl erasers (two in packages)
One Peachy folder to be used to carry daily communication

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Visit to Girlville

We visited our nieces last week while we were in the bay area. Ila was adorable in her white vintage gown; a bow in her curly dark hair. Kira was a sweet little chicky with bright blue eyes. Aware of the world yet calm. They both already had personalities. Kira and Ila will be my daughters by proxy.

Infancy is tough. Babies are uncomfortable in their bodies, awkward and in pain most of the time. What's coming next? Who are these people? Where are we going? Moods that turn on a dime. Strong emotion makes everyone scared. Adults who are sleep deprived, full of anxiety and self-doubt take care of them. No wonder they're so unsettled.

I tried my hardest to conceive a girl; I followed the Chinese horoscope and that ridiculous book. I actually cried when I found out I was having another boy while I was getting my ultrasound. Seeing this living thing inside your body -- it's real, the miracle that a person is here -- is already very emotional. I felt a slight sense of dread when the ultrasound tech pronounced it's a boy. He'll never call me on the phone to chat about nothing. We'll never be as close as I am with my mom.

It took me a few days to get over it. What a monster I am I thought. How selfish, sheltered and unloving. What a luxury to even worry about that sort of thing. I knew I would love my son no matter what. I knew that when we decided to have another child, we had an even greater chance of having another boy. No matter how feminist and devoted to gender equality I knew I was intellectually, it took a while to sink in that the gender stereotypes aren't true. Not all boys are testosterone crazed truck fanatics. I know tons of women who have horrible relationships with their mothers. I know tons of men who have really good relationships with their mothers. Not all girls are quiet and sit still during dinner. I was really worried about my ability to cultivate a close adult relationship with my children.

I probably would have had a similar sense of dread even if I had a girl. It had nothing to do with gender. Aside from his potty humor, bad temper and intense love for motor vehicles, I can relate to Elliot. Asher is still working on English fluency, but he's got some interesting things to say. If I want them to keep talking, I'll have to learn how to listen.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

super hero camp report

Elliot has been at super hero camp this week. I asked him for a report on what they've been doing. "Not that much. We dress up in costumes and battle bad guys. Then we go on a walk and have a snack."

What super hero are you? "A power ranger. No that's not true. You can't get to be the same guy in a movie or tv. It has to be a different name." So what is your super hero name? "Bunny Man. He has laser eyes. He can blow up stuff from far away."

I miss my boys.