Saturday, November 16, 2013

Acquisition in Progress


I am a total language nerd.  I come by it naturally...my mother is a linguistics major...I blame credit her.  In college, my minor was in teaching English as a Second Language and I got to take all sorts of fun classes on language acquisition.  If you ever need something spelled out phonetically, I'm your girl!
So perhaps it should not come as a surprise that I am having so much fun with my bunch of kidlets right now.

There is Little Bee, who is two and has just made a major leap in her talking...she'll repeat anything we say and is making her own sentences and starting to share her thoughts.  It is amazing and adorable.  If you haven't heard her say "Google" or sing the "Hip-hip-hippopotamus" song, you really haven't lived.

Then there is our Flower who has just, in the last few weeks, suddenly taken an interest in learning to sound out words.  She knows her letters and sounds and has for ages, but something clicked and now she has been asking me to show her how to sound out words and read little books.  Like most of the girls I have taught, that ah-ha moment came along with the desire to write letters to her friends (or in the case of many of my students, lists of who was invited to their birthday party!)  I know a lot of people find it frustrating, but I could listen to beginner readers forever...hands down one of my favorite things in the world.  Fun fact: Go Dog, Go has 64 pages and contains the word "dog" 59 times.

Next comes our sweet Safe Families child who I will call "Fireman" (his chosen costume for Halloween).  He is in Kindergarten and just learning the names and sounds of letters for the first time. I can almost see the wheels in his head turning as his knowledge expands.  First he started noticing letters on signs and calling them out in the car.  Then he realized that letters stand for sounds in words.  A typical drive in the car sounds something like this: "I see a B!  An M!  A Z!  I see a /s/ letter....snake!  I see a C!  I know a C word..../k/ /k/ CAR!  And /k/ /k/ kangaroo!  And /k/ /k/ Mimi!  And /d/ /d/ dinosaur!  And /d/ /d/ goat!"  We're getting there little by little...but oh how much has has learned in this past month, and how proud he is.  I think the stars aligned when this little guy ended up with us...he has a "brother" with whom to ride the bus, a "sister" who is super excited about letter sounds, another "sister" who is learning her letter names along with him, and a Kindergarten teacher "mom".  There are a lot of rough things in his life that I can't fix, but darned if I can't teach this kid his letters.  That and giving him a glimpse into what life in a loving, stable family looks like makes it all feel worthwhile.

And finally, my sweet Lego, who has mastered the reading thing, is really starting to comprehend what he reads. His favorite past-time is to snuggle up with me while the other kids nap to read chapter books (it's mutual!!).  We just finished James and the Giant Peach and are making our way though Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.  The other day we finished on a cliffhanger and he said, "oh Mom, why don't you just leave the book here in my room."  The next day we started to read and he said, "Don't worry Mom...I have a feeling that Charlie will find a golden ticket.  And I have a feeling that it will be the 5th ticket, and it will be in chapter 5.  So don't worry, Mom."

So we've got a lot of language acquisition going on in this house and I love it.  I even love the ten million tiny scraps of paper all over the place that are not just scraps, but "letters" and "lists" and "notes" and "plans."  As good old Chandler Bing would say, could these little treasures of mine BE any more fun?!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Sharing My Kids



Two things surprised me about having kids...well, not just two, but these two in particular:

1) How much fun it was to share them with my friends and family and watch them bring joy to people I love.

and

2) How much I wanted to hoard them.

When they were tiny I couldn't even imagine sending them to school or letting them out of my sight.  I reluctantly went back to work when Lego was 12 weeks old, but I left him in the care of Hubby.  As time has passed and my kids have aged, I find that there are more and more times when they get to hang out with other adults...teachers, piano and taekwondo instructors, therapists, babysitters...yes, somedays it feels like I am outsourcing my children!  And as we invite more (carefully selected) people into our children's little world, I am having to let go of a bit of control over my children's daily lives, but I am finding it to be a huge blessing to us.  I can't be everything to my children, nor should I be.  They have needs and interests that are far outside of my expertise.

I feel so lucky that my kids get to spend time with a bunch of really wonderful, talented adults.  We really value the time our kids get to spend with them- not just for their expertise, but for the examples of kindness, integrity and intelligence they set for them.  This was really brought to mind today after the morning I had.  I talked to two of my kids' teachers, the school diagnostician, the school nurse, our pediatrician, a physical therapist and the head of the orthotics department at Children's Memorial (about Flower's toe walking habit- but that is a story for another post!) and the sweet bus driver (who didn't leave my boys alone when I was stuck on the wrong side of a freight train at pick-up time)***.

All these people are on my team- how cool is that?!  They are all working to make sure that the children in my care get what they need.  And while it is sometimes exhausting keeping up with all these people, I am so lucky to have such heavy hitters on my team.  It is reassuring to be able to call in an expert for advice.  To have someone say- yes, this is an issue, and it is an issue that we have dealt with hundreds of times and these are the steps we are going to take.

So here's a bit of thanksgiving for all of my awesome "support staff."  I couldn't do it without you, nor would I want to.  Perhaps it is not a coincidence that my 4 year old daughter announced that she wants to be a Social Worker when she grows up so she can "drive kids around and put families back together" (or, as a backup, she might be a cowgirl).  She sees how much these people add to our lives and wants to be a part of it.  We are so blessed!

***donations towards my cell phone bill and gas mileage being accepted now :)

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Six!

Following on the previous posts of Two! and Four!, today we concluded Birthday season with the number Six!  Happy Golden Birthday!
Just yesterday (aka Nov. 6, 2007)
November 6, 2013
Lego turned six years old today.  I remember so clearly the night before he was born, thinking to ourselves, "what do you do the night before you become parents and your life changes forever?"  The answer, of course, was to go out for pizza.  Now it is hard to imagine what life was like before we had him (though we are going to do our best to remember this weekend on our kid-free getaway!)

We celebrated his birthday Taekwondo style...our TKD studio has the most fabulous teachers, and they led a wonderful party for Lego and some of his friends.  There were games and drills and even some board breaking.  It is fun to see him start to have friends of his own from school (rather than just being friends with MY friends' kids).  He is loving life right now- really in a good groove.  His favorite things include school, writing and delivering letters to his friends, biking, Taekwondo, playing piano, Legos, games like Settlers of Catan and Chess, and reading chapter books with Mommy (see also: Mommy's favorite things to do!)  If this is what six is like, I anticipate another wonderful year with my boy.







Even the parents joined in the fun!

Throwback gift: Spirograph!

We taped a Charlie Brown birthday card to his door last night, and this morning the envelope was taped back to our doorknob with a thank you note for the card.  Could this kid be any sweeter?!