Thursday, June 25, 2015

PTA Family Reading Challenge


Since my kids were babies, we have been reading to them every day, every night, any book they wanted.  Even when he wanted to read the same book over and over and over again (I'm talking to you, Toddlersaurus!) and I wanted him to just PICK A NEW BOOK ALREADY, we read what he chose. For almost six straight months we read nightly from the Animal Atlas, a science directory and dictionary of animals throughout the world. He loves dinosaurs and presidents, history and science. 

Now that Bjorn can read himself, he has discovered a love of the written word in his daily life. He reads street signs and restaurant menus, airplane safety information cards and newspaper and magazine headlines. At times I hear the sounds of silence - an ominous sound for any parent- and peek into his room only to find him sprawled out on his floor, books scattered around him. He reads stories to his sister aloud; each time I hear him, I'm impressed and awed by his developing skills. 

A few days ago I finally convinced Bjorn and Peanut to let me choose the nighttime story. Instead of reaching for old favorites, There's a Wocket in your pocket or If I ran the dog show, I grabbed a book of mine from when I was a child. Stuart Little. 

They protested at first. "This has no pictures!"

I told them I would read only one chapter, and if they didn't like it, they could pick another book. After chapter one, they were begging me to keep reading. My heart swelled as they discovered that words could make an impact even without the pictures alongside them. Words had the power to make you feel and imagine. 

On my bookshelf sits all the books of my childhood, saved for me by my mom- the secret garden, sideways stories from wayside school, the bfg, the hardy boys and more. My childhood, my loves, just waiting for my son and daughter to read and love them as well. I can't wait. 

So when I was asked to write a post on the PTA family reading challenge, I didn't hesitate to say yes. Books, the written word, language - these are my first loves, after my family. This initiative on behalf of the National PTA encourages parents to continue to read and explore books through out the summer. They also have tips and information for parents on reading practices. 


I know we tend to get so busy during the summer, with swim lessons, camping, visits to Bjorn's favorite science museum or Peanut's gymnastics class that learning can be an after thought. So The Hubs and I have decided to reward the kids this summer after they complete a reading log. The longer the log (I.e. The more books read, or read to), the bigger the reward. 

Find out how you can join the National PTA Family Reading Challenge at www.ptareadingchallenge.org. 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Quizzing my kids

If you have friends that have kids, you have probably seen that questionnaire the kids are supposed to take about their parents.  I have to admit, after the twenty-second time seeing it posted on social media, I couldn't resist trying it myself. I have to admit, my kids know me pretty well! 

The first answer on each is from Bjorn, and the second is from Peanut. 

1. What is something mom always says to you? "Good luck." "Good laugh."
2. What makes mom happy? Flowers (Bjorn). Smiles. (Peanut.)
3. What makes mom sad? Being Bad. Yelling.
4. How does your mom make you laugh? Knock Knock jokes. Silly faces.
5. What was your mom like as a child? Little (Bjorn. He's so literal.) Pile (from Peanut. What does that even mean?!)
6. How old is your mom? 33. (from both.)
7. How tall is your mom? 40 inches. (Bjorn.) 60 pounds (Peanut).
8. What is her favorite thing to do? Board games. (Bjorn. Oh, sweet child of mine, I do love board games but I only play them with you in the hopes that you will soon play ADULT board games like Scrabble and Cards Against Humanity that are actually fun. No, I do NOT like candyland.) Knock knock jokes and writing. (Peanut).
9. What does your mom do when you're not around? Go to Work. (Bjorn). Play on the computer. (Peanut).
10. If your mom becomes famous, what will it be for? Being an awesome flight attendant. Looking beautiful. 
11. What is your mom really good at? Baseball. (Bjorn. Love this kid.) Writing.(Peanut).
12. What is your mom not very good at? Plumbing. Scuba-diving. (They both nailed it!)
13. What does your mom do for a job? Airplane work. (Bjorn.) Computer. (Peanut. This is hilarious, because every time I sit at the computer to read or pay bills or write, she immediately wants to play on the computer so I have to tell her not now, I'm working on adult stuff.)
14.What is your mom's favorite food? Sushi. Salad.
15.What makes you proud of your mom? Making breakfast. Cleaning my room.
16. If your mom were a character, who would she be? Pinocchio (Bjorn.) Cinderella. (You got that right, Peanut!)
17. What do you and your mom do together? Play board games and take out the trash. Clean my room and play barbies.
18. How are you and your mom the same? We both have butts and armpits. (Such a boy!) We wear bracelets and necklaces. (Such a girl!)
19. How are you and your mom different? I'm a boy and you're a girl. You're not good at drawing.
20. How do you know your mom loves you? Because you have a heart and I have a heart. Because we have friends.
21. What does your mom like most about your dad? He has a beard and lots of money. You love him. 
22. Where is your mom's favorite place to go? Airport. (Bjorn.) San Diego. (Peanut)

If you haven't done this quiz, I urge you to do it. Peanut and Bjorn loved to think of all the answers, and it made me realize just how much the airport and airplane is a part of their thinking when it comes to me!

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Peanut's Observations

Bjorn has hit that stage where he hears EVERYTHING. When The Hubs and I talk, he interrupts to ask what a "budget" is and why we have to stick to one. When I hang up after a long phone conversation with my best friend, he asks me what she had to say about all the things we talked about. He sings along with hit songs on the radio and, more often than me, gets the words right (thank Goodness, because I'm talking to you, UPTOWN FUNK).

Peanut, sweet little thing that she is, thinks that she can process things in her 3 year old mind the same way Bjorn does. She tries so hard to keep up with him. The results are hilarious.

Yesterday, driving in the car to dinner, we were listening to boring, adult News Radio, when they began talking about a legal battle between the city and a company.

"What's a legal battle?" Bjorn asked.

The Hubs started to answer, but was quickly interrupted by an excited high pitched voice.

"I know what it is!" Peanut said. "It's when there are lots of bald eagles. And the bald eagles are flying around with guns and they all fight each other. Like this, POW POW!"

Yup, that's pretty much it.


------------------------------------------------

On the long drive to camp last week, we started playing the word game. This is a game Bjorn made up, where he picks a letter, and we each have to name two words that start with that letter until we can't think of anymore words.

He first picked the letter "M".

"Magical Mushroom." I said.
The Hubs went next. "Marshmallow Marinade."
"My Little Pony Maker."
"Monkey Mash."
"Master Man."
"Meat Map."

And round and round we went, until the kids had exhausted all the "M" words they knew, so I was helping them along with hints.

"Ummm....," Bjorn said," Machine......ummm."

I gave him a hint, pointing at The Hubs' facial hair.

"What does Daddy have above his mouth and below his nose?"

From the backseat Peanut piped in. "A booger!"

Monday, June 1, 2015

A Girl's Super Hero

I took Peanut and Bjorn to what they call ""The Playhouse Store" and what I call "God's gift to Moms everywhere" this afternoon. It is actually our neighborhood grocery store, around the corner from our house. But it has FREE DAYCARE. And tons of toys. Toys we don't have. (Although I was tempted once to buy some of their toys, as they love them so much, but then what would they have to look forward to at the store?)

At the end of the visit, they each received a toy from the store toy chest for being good. Bjorn chose a Batman bouncy ball, so Peanut, in the spirit of a little sister who idolizes her big brother, also chose a superhero bouncy ball, a Wonder Woman one.

On the car ride home, she was playing with her Wonder Woman bouncy ball, when she saw something she hadn't noticed before.

Peanut: Mommy! Wonder Woman wears UNDERWEAR when she rescues people!

Me: Well...it's not really underwear....it's....

Peanut: Yes! It really is! She wears underwear in PUBLIC!

Me: It's not underwear, it's more like....it's like a swimsuit. Like Mommy's swimsuit.

Peanut: She wears a swimsuit to rescue people?!

Me: It's not REALLY a swimsuit. It just kind of looks like one. But it's NOT underwear, because she wouldn't wear underwear in public.

Peanut: Well, she should really wear pants when she rescues people.

Seriously, she really should.

Can someone please give my girl a superhero that doesn't show cleavage or wear underwear during a rescue?!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

How Many Meanings? A new kids game


We've been playing a new game in the car lately.

Anything to get them to stop requesting "The kids songs, like the head bones connected to the neck bone", or, as I call it, the 5th circle to Hell.

I call our new game "How many meanings?".

We come up with a word, and try to name all the different meanings the words have. Even if they are spelled differently, we use this word game in how they are spoken, not spelled. (Neither kid knows how to spell anyways. Most adults, either, to be fair. I blame spell check.)  It's amazing to me how difficult the English language can be when you really think about it.

Last week, I chose the word "read". 

"Well," Bjorn said," There is the red like the color, and read like 'I read a book'."

"Right!," I said. "Now it's your turn!"

"Hmmmmm.....how about tie?"

"Ok, how many meanings are there?"

"Three." he answered. "The tie that I wear around my neck at church, the tie like you do to your shoelaces and the tie when I don't win and I don't lose."

I was pretty impressed. I had only remembered two of those myself.

We've become pretty expansive at this game, covering words from "orange " (Two meanings: orange the color and orange the fruit) to "paint" (two: you can paint -the verb - with paint - the noun) to "pop" (two meanings: what some people call coke, and what you can do to a balloon).

And it stops them from requesting the kids songs they love to hear in the car. Mostly, it's Peanut requesting. ("Please can I listen to 'John Brown's baby?'" she asks.) Bjorn likes his Rock'n'Roll. Hopefully, this game can wean her from the songs and into mainstream radio....and maybe teach them a thing or two while I'm at it.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

A first for Bjorn...and then another

Bjorn lost his first tooth today.

Then he lost it again.

He might be the only kid in the history of the world to lose his first tooth twice in less than one hour.

The first time he lost his tooth, I was on my way home from shopping when I got this text message:

Now you see it.....

His first lost tooth. It had been wobbly for about a week or so now, and he had lost interest in commenting on it. Occasionally he would mention that it was wobbly or felt weird, but for the most part, it wasn't doing anything fun, so he didn't bother talking about it.

At first I was a little disappointed that I hadn't been there (his first tooth!!!), but I soon realized that was silly. As a working mom, there will always be something I won't be there for, and by now - 6 years into this game - I should be used to it. I can't stick around the house, close to my kid, for the rest of our lives just so I don't miss something. This time I wasn't even working, just running errands for an hour.

I pulled into the driveway maybe 10 minutes after I got the picture of his tooth. Bjorn met me in the yard, a little shaky and scared, but excited.

"Look! It came out!" he said, extending his hand up to me. There, in his palm, lay a fat white tooth.

"Wow! Smile for me." He did, the little gap where the tooth used to be nothing but a red hole between white teeth.

"Did you tie a string around it and slam the door?" I teased him.  Last week The Hubs suggested we do that, and I was strongly opposed. There is nothing like traumatic tooth injury to scare a kid away from the dentist forever.

Bjorn seemed a little hesitant to answer, then telling me that he "pushed at it with my tongue, and it cracked. Then it fell out."

I hugged him and told him he did good, that I was excited he was such a big kid with a missing tooth and everything.

We walked into the house, me carrying all my shopping bags, he carrying his tooth.  I put down the bags on our entry bench and heard Bjorn say behind me,"Hey, where's my tooth?!"

That would be the second time he lost it.

Somewhere between walking across our front lawn and in the front door, within 15 minutes of his losing his first tooth, he lost it again. Only my kid.

We searched on our hands and knees, crawling around the floor and the grass, and though we found a few cheerios (when was the last time we had cheerios?!) and some chewed up pieces of gum, no tooth was in sight.

The Hubs and I joked and laughed, letting Bjorn know that not having a tooth was no big deal, as The Tooth Fairy obviously knew from the hole in his mouth that he had lost a tooth today.

"But....but....but, that's not how it works! It's no tooth, no quarter!" he cried sadly.

Ah. That's why he was upset. See, 25 years ago, I read a book called "No Tooth, No Quarter" and for some reason, I had kept it. We began reading it to Bjorn a few years ago in our nightly rotation of bedtime stories. The story is of a boy who loses his tooth and doesn't have one to show the Tooth Fairy. Instead he writes her a letter explaining what happened, but she is afraid she will be in trouble at the Tooth Fairy Land if she doesn't bring back a tooth. He goes with her to Tooth Fairy Land and tries to explain his situation to the Tooth Fairy Queen.

It's such a silly little book. Why on Earth did I keep it 25 years?

Slowly we convinced Bjorn that he could instead write a letter to the Tooth Fairy, just like in the story. He did ("I think you should look in the front yard for my tooth" he wrote), and put the letter into pocket of the Tooth Fairy pillow that had been mine when I was a kid. This pillow had seen many a tooth. Now it has seen a letter, too.

(I'm somewhat relieved he lost his tooth. If he hadn't, I probably would have felt I needed to save it for sentimental reasons, and, really, who needs a kid's old tooth lying around? I already have locks of hair from his first haircut, and isn't that just a little bit weird? It's not as if he is going to sit down for some coffee with me when he's 35 and say,"Gee, Mom, I really wish that I had some strands of hair from my first haircut when I was one.")

Posing before bed.

Bjorn received a crisp $2 bill and a gold $1 coin in his Tooth Fairy pillow. Inflation and all.


Thursday, April 30, 2015

True Words from my blue-eyed girl

I was squatting on the floor in front of the toilet while Peanut settled herself on the seat. Not something I ever thought I would be doing, but when your 3 year old asks you to hold her hand while she goes to the bathroom, there is not much else a Mom can do it but do it.

She held my hand, singing a made-up song about princesses and pee (not to be confused with that very tame one about the princess and the PEA), when she stopped and said, "Mommy, I love you."

"I love you too, Peanut."

"Mommy, you are so pretty. Your eyes look beautiful!" she said as she climbed down from the potty. I opened my mouth to thank her when she finished her thought. "Your eyes look beautiful. They are the same exact color as my poop!"

Thanks, Peanut. Please make sure to write that in my Mother's Day card.