Monday, January 26, 2009

On my nightstand

" The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children."
"It is a practice that should continue throughout the grades." from the 1983 Commission on Reading's national research findings report.

I just finished reading The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease. I came to this book in reading various reviews on Amazon. I was actually looking at reviews for BOB books (early readers) when this book title came up a few times. So I decided to give it a try.

I am always in a kind of mental struggle over how much "school stuff" to do with Frannie vs. just not worrying about it and letting her be a kid. She has recently been introduced to the Starfall website that I mentioned in my last post and she enjoys it. When she plays the reading games she does just fine. This got me thinking that maybe I should get her some early reader books to reinforce what she's practicing on the computer. However, I'm hesitant to go into full blown teacher-mode with her because, for one, she has just started playing around with these games, and for two, something tells me she just isn't quite ready for all of that yet.

I believe she'll be ready to start learning when she's closer to 5 years old.

Jim Trelease's book is all about the importance of reading to your child and how that builds tremendous innate skills that prime a child for reading, writing, and school success. His book is filled with book recommendations (which I know I will find helpful at the library) as well as anectdotal and scientific evidence of how reading aloud to your child builds a love of reading, attention span, vocabulary, sight word knowledge, and a host of other skills that carry on throughout one's school days and life.

I have always heard that it is important to read to your children, and I have read to her regularly for a long time. However, this book made me understand the importance of what I'm doing and that I need to keep doing it and even expand it.

I equate it somewhat to the experience of being a new mom. There were many days, especially when she was a baby, that I felt like I wasn't really doing anything. I changed her diaper, fed her, took her for a walk, so what? It's only as she grew and I watched her develop that I had a better understanding of the true importance of all that I did in those early days. The building of trust. The presence of a loving hand and voice. The feeding of mama's milk. The routines. It all means something in the growth of a child. Even if it seems small, it isn't.

Similarly, when I'm reading aloud to her, I don't consider that I'm doing anything particularly important. But reading this book helped me to understand that the little activity of reading aloud is a BIG DEAL.

And it is true, that I've noticed in my reading aloud to Frannie, that Adam has a joy in books that his sister didn't at his age. I didn't really read to her much at 18 months (that I can remember). But since big sister gets read to, so does Adam. Frannie memorizes short books and "reads" them to her brother. He growls in the right spots, he says the titles (in his baby language that only I or Jason could probably understand. The book Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What do You Hear? comes out "Po Bay"). Anyways, it's kind of neat to see.

So in my quest to figure out if I should be doing more "schooly" stuff, I found some reinforcement for the simple activity of reading. I do think I'll invest in the BOB books at some point, but when I went to Mrs. Nelson's book shop, instead of buying the BOB books, I got her a Berenstain Bears book w/ CD that she can flip through and listen to in the car .

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Birth Order of Children

This always gives me a chuckle :)

Your Clothes:
1st baby: You begin wearing maternity clothes as soon as your OB/GYN
confirms your pregnancy.
2nd baby: You wear your regular clothes for as long as possible.
3rd baby: Your maternity clothes ARE your regular clothes.

The Layette:
1st baby: You pre-wash newborn's clothes, color-coordinate them, and fold
them neatly in the baby's little bureau.
2nd baby: You check to make sure that the clothes are clean and discard only
the ones with the darkest stains.
3rd baby: Boys can wear pink, can't they?

1st baby: At the first sign of distress-a whimper, a frown-you pick up the
2nd baby: You pick the baby up when her wails threaten to wake your
3rd baby: You teach your three-year-old how to rewind the mechanical swing.

1st baby: If the pacifier falls on the floor, you put it away until you can
go home and wash and boil it.
2nd baby: When the pacifier falls on the floor, you squirt it off with some
juice from the baby's bottle.
3rd baby: You wipe it off on your shirt and pop it back in.

1st baby: You change your baby's diapers every hour, whether they need it or
2nd baby: You change their diaper every two to three hours, if needed.
3rd baby: You try to change their diaper before others start to complain
about the smell or you see it sagging to their knees.

1st baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics, Baby Swing, and Baby
Story Hour.
2nd baby: You take your infant to Baby Gymnastics.
3rd baby: You take your infant to the supermarket and the dry cleaner.

Going Out:
1st baby: The first time you leave your baby with a sitter, you call home
five times.
2nd baby: Just before you walk out the door, you remember to leave a number
where you can be reached.
3rd baby: You leave instructions for the sitter to call only if she sees

At Home:
1st baby: You spend a good bit of every day just gazing at the baby.
2nd baby: You spend a bit of everyday watching to be sure your older child
isn't squeezing, poking, or hitting the baby.
3rd baby: You spend a little bit of every day hiding from the children.

Swallowing Coins:
1st child: When first child swallows a coin, you rush the child to the
hospital and demand X-rays.
2nd child: When second child swallows a coin, you carefully watch for the
coin to pass.
3rd child: When third child swallows a coin you deduct it from his

GRANDCHILDREN: God's reward for allowing your children to live.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Reading Skills Website

If you haven't already discovered this, then add it to your favorites if you have a beginning reader in the house. www.starfall.comThis is an interactive website with games and short videos that support alphabet learning, letter sounds, beginning reading and all the rest.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Frannie's new bed

I am very happy to report that my Frannie has a new big girl bed. I've been wanting to get her one for some time, but wasn't sure whether to get a twin or a bunk bed. Anyways, I saw this bed on Craigslist for $25 so I bought it.

And painted it! (Frannie helped me clean it and do the primer.) I'm proud of my cheapo DIY project. (Thank you, thank you, Dad for putting it together today.)

I bought a cute butterfly bedding set. In a few months, Adam will inherit the toddler bed. And the Pack n' Play will be freed up for new munchkin.

Friday, January 2, 2009

New Year's Resolutions

It's that time of year again to evaluate and reflect and try to do something better. I try to keep my resolutions attainable (unlike a certain European friend that we all know and love :P ) so here it is for 2009.

My resolution is to curl my hair once every three days.

Why? You may be asking. Well, I discovered that my hair looks a whole.lot.better when I curl the ends. Like it actually looks nice and stuff. Now, I've known this before that my hair looks nice when I curl it, but what I didn't really know was that I can leave it this way unwashed for three days and it still looks nice. I don't know why it took me darn near 30 years to learn this. Slow I guess. Anyways, I've always held the belief that you must wash your hair every single day. Under those conditions, hair curling becomes way too much work for everyday use. I've since been taught (by many a girlfriend sitting on a park bench) that you aren't really supposed to wash your hair everyday. It's bad for your scalp. So I've tried not washing my hair so much, and it's true. My scalp is healthier. (Did anyone really want to know this much about my hair hygiene? Don't answer!)

So it takes me about 25 mins to curl my hair. But if I only have to do it once every three days then the other two days require almost no hair maintenence at all. However, that initial time investment is a big one for me since I am used to investing almost nothing into my daily hair appearance other than the swipe of a hairbrush. That's where the resolution comes in. It's going to take some focus for me to allot the time to curl my hair. It has to be completely dry when I curl it, so I need to wash the night before and pre-dry before bed.

If this all sounds a little stupid. Sorry. It's my resolution!

Ok, now on to Jason. His resolution sounds a lot better than mine. He has resolved to improve himself physically, mentally and spiritually. He says I can't hold his resolution against him because the spiritual part involves going to church more. I make no promises! Anyways, I'm proud of him for his goals. He's already doing very well on the physical part with his evening exercise routine. He also wants to learn something new. He suggested getting some books on tape to listen to while he runs instead of music. It's a good idea, so I'll see what sort of informational books I can find at the library.


Now, last year I resolved to keep the house cleaner and I have done a lot better. I go through lapses where I really fall off track, and then I'll have a surge where I'm so attuned to every bit of mess that I end up cleaning all day long. Overall I'm better though, so I'll keep working in that direction.

Here's to 2009!