Sunday, April 29, 2007

Discussion In Church

While kneeling in the pew after communion, Zoe tapped me on the shoulder and had the following conversation with me:

Zoe: "Can I take my shoes off?"

Me: "No, we don't take our shoes off in church."

Zoe (pointing to a girl two rows behind us): "But she has her shoes off."

Me: "She's littler than you."

Zoe: "Yeah, she's really, really little. I'm just a little bit little."

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A Great Dinner Idea

On the way to school this morning, Emma says out of the blue, "We can have chili dogs for dinner."

I said, "Do you even know what chili dogs are?"

And her reply, "Yes, they are hot dogs that are cold."

After the laughing died down, I asked her how someone makes a chili dog.

She answered, "You take a pot of boiling water and put the hot dog in."

I told her, "That's how you make hot dogs, not chili dogs."

Emma thought about this for a moment and said, "That's right. That's how you make a hot dog. To make a chilly dog, you put in in the refrigerator and cool it down."


Saturday, April 21, 2007

First Communion Banner

As thousands of second graders are doing this Spring, Ian will be making his first communion in May. In preparation for this sacrament, Ian and his classmates have been studying the Bible, praying the rosary, making his first reconciliation (and second reconciliation already!). Ian is very excited to receive this sacrament and part of the process of getting ready for communion is the making of a communion banner.

When the banner materials came home a few weeks ago, I sat down with Ian to discuss what he wanted on the banner. I suggested the chalice and host, as that would be representative of his first communion. Ian thought a cross would be nice, so I sketched out a cup, host, and cross. I thought there would be space for one more item and asked Ian what he would like included. Ian suggested the Bible, and I thought it was an excellent idea as he truly loves reading the Bible. We decided his name and date shouyld be included, and I added that maybe some ribbon around the edge would look nice. When asked what color the words and ribbon should be, Ian paused, then responded with the color red. "Because it reminds me of Jesus' blood," he explained.

So, after some planning and a trip to JoAnn Fabrics, I spent a few nights tracing, cutting and gluing together Ian's communion banner.

Here it is:

I'm proud of how it turned out, especially the Bible which I stitched the words "Holy Bible" on with gold thread.

But more importantly, Ian is happy with it. I overheard him telling Zoe, "Isn't it pretty?" I think so, and I'm glad Ian does, too.

Monday, April 16, 2007

This Is Going To Be So Much Fun

I bought Ian a shirt at Kohl's today. With the shirt came a little personal FM radio that looked somewhat like an iPod. The shirt is for next year (I bought it on clearance at 80% off) but the radio looked like fun, and given Ian's interest in iPod's I thought he would enjoy it now. So, cutting it off the hanger, I opened it, plugged in the included headphones and handed it to Ian. He immediately sat down at the kitchen table, opened our newest issue of Family Fun, and listened to the radio for the next half hour.

The rest of the evening was pretty much the same, Ian listening to his new radio every moment he could. When it was time to go to Boy Scouts, he brought his new radio to listen in the van. He asked me what I was listening to ( 93.1 WXRT) and then I asked him what he was listening to. He said, "The River," and went back to listening to his music.

About two minutes later he announces in the too loud voice of someone who hasn't listened to a lot of music through headphones that there was a really good song on the River. "At least in my opinion it's good," Ian said. "It's called 'Rock Sled.'"

Upon hearing the title my interest was really piqued, so I turned the van radio to the River to hear this good song. It was "Roxanne" by The Police. I suppressed a chuckle, enjoyed listening to Rock Sled and then got to hear Legs by ZZ Top, which Ian also thought was a good song.

I'm glad Ian's developing his own taste in music, and can't wait to hear the names of some of his newest discoveries now that he has his own radio.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Is It Magic?

Emma, my middle child, the one who asks me everyday, "Is it two o'clock yet?" because she is not allowed to have a snack after lunch until then, asked me if she could have some popcorn. I said, "Sure," because it was after two o'clock and it seemed like a decent snack compared to all the pastel M&M's and SweetTart chicks and bunnies she'd been consuming throughout the day.

I pulled out the butter light bag of microwave popcorn from the pantry and proceeded to remove the plastic overwrap around the bag. Emma asked where the popcorn was. I said I had to make it still. She asked me, "How do you make it? Is it magic?"

That really threw me for a moment. It made me realize that Emma didn't know what popcorn kernels looked like because they are always inside the microwave bag. She has never had the joy of watching kernels sit in hot oil in the bottom of a popcorn popper and then suddenly explode into their white puffy glory. It is a fond memory I have from my childhood and makes me wish I would have kept that Stir Crazy popper I received as a wedding gift.

I then got to thinking about my kids suburban upbringing. We go apple picking every fall, we go to local farmer's markets during the summer, but otherwise they have very little experience with knowing where food really comes from. Granted, I didn't excatly live on a farm growing up, but my parent's house backed up to a field that was planted with wheat or soybeans or other crops each year. My grandpa was a farmer and died at home in his farmhouse just a few hundred feet from a once busy and full barn. I grew up sitting on the tractors in his barn imagining driving through the fields and climbing into the lofts with my cousins or siblings and hiding among the itchy bales of hay. The first time I liked any corn other than corn on the cob was when I ate the corn my Uncle Dave and Aunt Louise froze from their modest garden. I worked for two summers at a farm stand selling produce the farmer's grew and picked. I even hoed and weeded the melon field when the migrant workers hadn't come yet and the work needed to be done and picked green tomatoes for customers who wanted to fry some for dinner.

Now my kids don't even know what popcorn looks like. I'm not even sure they know that it is from the same plant that grows the corn that we eat for dinner at least once a week, whether from the freezer or from the farmer's market. I even have a cousin whose husband grows corn for one of the major popcorn manufacturers, but my kids don't know that.

It really saddens me that they won't have those same experiences of truly working with the land, or at least being a part of the process in some way of seeing how food is truly produced. Maybe I'll finally get around to planning and planting a garden with them. It's the closest thing I can think of to really teaching them that food comes from the earth, not Dominick's.

Monday, April 09, 2007

Too Much Praise?

While at my Mom and Dad's house for Easter, my oldest brother pulled me aside and told me about an article he had read called "How Not To Talk To Your Kids." He said that basically kids who were praised for their intelligence too often ended up being more interested in maintaining that recognition of being smart, instead of wanting to be challenged in their activities. He mentioned a study by Carol Dweck in which fifth grade students were separated into two groups and each given a puzzle to solve. When the puzzle was completed, one group was praised for how smart they were that they were able to solve it. The other group was praised for how hard they worked in order to solve it. When each group was then offered a choice between doing a puzzle of similar challenge to the first, or one that was more difficult, overwhelmingly the children praised for their intelligence chose the one that was the same as the first puzzle. On the other hand, the group praised for their effort overhwelmingly chose the more difficult puzzle.

I have to admit, I was intrigued. I consider my kids to be pretty smart, and know that my oldest has a bad habit of giving up on tasks he thinks are too difficult. I just put it up to his personality, that because things have come easily for him he doesn't like it when they don't. And while that may be part of it, I needed to know more.

So, I searched the internet and found the article my brother was referring to. It is from New York Magazine and can be read in full here.

Dweck had suspected that praise could backfire, but even she was surprised by the magnitude of the effect. “Emphasizing effort gives a child a variable that they can control,” she explains. “They come to see themselves as in control of their success. Emphasizing natural intelligence takes it out of the child’s control, and it provides no good recipe for responding to a failure.”

I found it extremely compelling and think it should be required reading for all parents and teachers. I know I will be trying to modify my praise for my kids, telling them specifically what they did that was so important, not generalized empty praise.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Wilbur Cookies

My son's second grade class just finished reading Charlotte's Web and were going to watch the movie in class today. And while they all hoped it was going to be the new live-action new version, it turns out their teacher could not get it and is showing the old animated one.

Last night after the kids went to bed I thought that it would be really cute if the students in my son's class had a snack to eat during the movie today. So, I took some store bought sugar cookie dough and shaped these adorable little piggy cookies. When Ian saw them this morning he asked me what (or who) they were for. I told him I made them for his class to eat during the viewing of Charlotte's Web. That's when he named them "Wilbur cookies."

Tuesday, April 03, 2007

For the Love of Shakespeare

This is for my Shakespeare lovin' (and performin') brother-in-law. Enjoy!

Pretty Flowers

Moving into our house at the end of July, we didn't have the benefit of seeing some of the Spring shows that our new trees and bushes will provide for us annually. We have a beautiful Gardenia bush out front that has opened up many of it's creamy white buds, giving all of us a delightful taste of Spring. Even in the dreary gray of this morning, the flowers still looked lovely as shown here by these pictures I snapped this morning. Enjoy your day!

Monday, April 02, 2007

Barenaked Love

I have been a huge Barenaked Ladies fan for many years, well before they became a huge hit in the US with their album Stunt and single One Week. To be honest, while I pretty much love anything they've done, I was (and still am a bit) sick of hearing One Week played over and over and over again. That is until today. I stumbled across this version on You Tube and thoroughly enjoyed it. I also listened to several other enjoyable bethroom sessions and encourage anyone who loves the Ladies to take a look, you won't be disappointed.