conuly: (Default)
With the exception of her spelling, which goes in her book anyway. She will get very upset if she cannot finish her packet on Monday, say, because she hasn't yet been taught the math that is part of Thursday's homework, crying that she ALWAYS gets it ALL done on MONDAY. (And then spends Tuesday through Thursday bouncing around and keeping Ana from doing HER work. There is only so much extra work I can give her and still have time to help Ana and make dinner!)

Last week we came home late Monday for some reason and were trying to cram in homework very quickly, and I told Eva to ignore the rest of her work and just do the stuff that's "due tomorrow".

Evangeline: But I want to do what's do today!
Me: Yeah, okay, just don't go overboard, you still need a bath. Get the stuff done that's due tomorrow.
Evangeline: Who cares about what's do tomorrow? Why can't I do what's do today?
Me: Because it's Monday...? Nothing is due today, it's the first day of the week! And if it were, you'd be late. Just do what's due tomorrow.
Evangeline: But if I do that, I'll be late! I need to do what's do today!

Yes, we went on like this for a while before we realized that Evangeline didn't know the word "due". Due, do, doo-doo - it's all so similar!
conuly: (Default)
I had gotten to bed pretty early, but for some reason was still exhausted all day, so I spent some time napping while Ana used her Christmas gift to draw paper dolls.

So she comes in to me with her paper doll family all neatly taped on a piece of paper and asks me what I think. I thought it was great and said just that.

"No, Connie, I want to know what you really think."
"I really think it's great. Go make yourself a salami sandwich."
"Connie, tell me the *truth*."
"It's great. I really like it. Go eat lunch."
"No, no, I want your honest opinion."
"It's. Great. Now, go eat lunch."
"I said honest! Tell the truth!"
"Fine, Ana. I hate it. It's the ugliest thing I've ever seen. Go eat your lunch now."
"Oh, good. I'm going to give it to Michele, and I'm pretty sure she will like the exact opposite of you!"
conuly: (Default)
And Eva Ibbotson does rock, right?

She's really very involved in this book. She cried for ten, fifteen minutes when the neighbor in the book died.

Today, I gave them, as I am wont to do, fifteen minutes to play before starting homework. As they played, I read. Suddenly, I was jolted out of my book by the strong and strident cries of LIAR!!! YOU ARE A LIAR!!

This came out of nowhere so I poked my head in to see what her sister had done to provoke this.

The answer was - nothing! Ana was furious at the actions of one of the book characters!
conuly: (Default)
And Mama Cat was following us. When she does, the nieces comment on how spy like she is and make a point not to break her cover. At any rate, eventually she broke into the open and Evangeline mentioned "She's, like, invisible!"

Silly me, I replied that of course the cat isn't *really* invisible.

"I know. I said 'like'."
conuly: (Default)
Which is delicious, and very easy. The nieces took some in to school today, and Ana reported back that her friends decided that it is "better than Three Musketeers", a statement that would be more flattering if I'd made this from scratch instead of from fluff.

I seem to recall making that stuff all the time in high school, but I don't think I've made it since. Well, until yesterday, that is. I'm not sure why I stopped making it.

The girls were very hyper all day, even before the fudge, and after dinner they had a stuffed animal fight with me. That is, they attacked me with stuffed animals, and I used Eva as a human shield. Or I tried to, but then she declared this "the hunger games", a book she most emphatically has not read ("I got it off a book, but all I know is it's about killing"), and I lost it. I got completely pummeled after I collapsed laughing.

After things calmed down I went to retrieve my phone, and they did... something. I'm still not sure what, but they had these unholy grins and giggles going on. I told them that as soon as I found out why they were grinning I would be sure to put them in time out, but they thought this was hilarious and I was the funniest person ever. Their laughter definitely did nothing to reassure me.

We also had a doctors appointment. Now, on the way to the appointment I spent all my time reminding them to stay out of the snow due to lack of boots. And today on the way to the boat I had to remind them frequently not to climb in EVERY fallen tree, nor to slide down EVERY bannister, nor to jump onto and off the benches at the boat. Eva jumped getting off the bus and got me the nose, and it really hurt and we were late because I had to sit down and cry. I sometimes think that they are the most rambunctious children I know. I look around, and other kids are not constantly jumping and running and spinning. They occasionally do other things! But when we get together with other kids those kids invariably adjust to the nieces energy level, not the other way around, so then I think I'm unobservant or the other kids are stifled. I can't figure out which it is.
conuly: (Default)
She's finally learning to check her work as she spells. This doesn't necessarily translate to better spelling - the only two tests we've gotten back this year were a 40 and a 0, so... yeah - but she does now realize when words she's studied look wrong, and she does understand that she *should* review her words before handing her test in. So go her!

She also, I realize now, has become the master of the strategic mumble. Maybe this is what she was doing in class all last year? She was reading aloud the blurb of a book to me.... *dreamy flashback music*

Evangeline: After he kissed his elbow, did MumbleRumble become a girl?
Me: Wait, what did you say?
Eva: After he kissed his elbow, did MumbleRumble-
Me: Who???
Eva: *pause* Mumblerumble
Me: Can you try that again?
Eva: (slightly louder) mum
Me: Seriously? I know you're just mumbling so I won't know you didn't really read the word. Except I do know. What's his name?

Now, at this point, had I used that line on Ana, she would've acted huffy and upset and stormed that I don't know what she's thinking and she can do it herself without my help and basically done whatever she could to change the subject from her reading to... anything else! It's every bit as transparent as the mumbling! But Eva, you know, she knows when the game is up. (Edit: Although, to be fair, Ana probably wouldn't've tried the mumbling in the first place, even if she was having trouble reading it for some reason. I don't know what she would've done, since she's never had trouble reading aloud, but this doesn't seem like her style at all.)

Eva: Marvelrumble
Me: What's his first name?
Eva: Marvel.
Me: I don't think so. Let's chunk this into syllables. The first one is mar, what's the second? We'll cover the other word.
Eva: Vel.
Me: No.
Eva: V. I. L - oh, n. Vin. Marvin. Marvin Redpost!
Me: Thanks.

Other than that she swears she's *always* finishing before anybody else in the class and she's *always* bored. If this is true, we may send her in with some other work to do if she finishes first and has read her books, but things that she's not studying in school already. That would just exacerbate the problem, and we already *do* extra schoolwork at home. (Ana still isn't happy about that. She likes the results of doing math before she encounters it in school, but she doesn't like that this requires work.)

On the subject of homework, I'm finally enforcing the rule I should've been enforcing all along: I set a reasonable amount of time for Ana to do her work (an hour and 15 minutes, plus some time for reading), and when the timer goes off, she's done. I mean, I'm fair and if she only has two words left to write I'll let her do that, but whatever's not close to being completed gets put away and she can finish it in the morning if she wakes up on time but I won't have it eating up the entire evening. It's like when she was three and would dawdle all day over her breakfast. Now that she has a time limit, lo and behold, she's mostly fitting her homework within the time limit! Look, Ana, it *doesn't* take you three hours to do one spelling assignment, one math assignment, and a journal entry! And I don't need to sit on top of you and scream, either!

I knew I should've really done this at least a year ago, and I don't know why I didn't.
conuly: (Default)
1. Prior to the movie that wasn't, we saw a trailer for Life of Pi.

Eva: I'd like to have a tiger as a pet.... (this was said while the tiger was snarling in the boat, of course)
Me: No. No, you wouldn't.
Eva: Yes I would.
Me: Not really.
Eva: Well, why not?
Me: You know how sometimes Mama cat, even though she likes you, will turn and scratch or bite you?
Eva: Yeah...?
Me: Imagine if she were a tiger.
Eva: I don't want a tiger as a pet. Maybe a kitten instead.

2. Today, I got attacked in bed by her.

Eva: Ew! Your breath is stinky! Stinky breath!
Me: I know you are, but what am I?
Eva: You're the one with the stinky breath! I'm rubber, and you're glue, and you have stinky breath.
Me: If you keep saying that, I'll have to breathe in your face.
Eva: STINKY BREATH! *buries face in my stomach*
Me: *huff*
Eva: You brothe on my head, not my face. I mean... breathed. You breathed on my - aaah!

(That's when I got her.)
conuly: (Default)
With lentils to stretch the beef. Because, you know, lentils make it healthy. (The fact that it's half veggies makes it healthy.)

The nieces love this meal, especially when I refrain from making the topping with sweet potato. (Parsnips all the way, baby!)

While we ate dinner, we played categories, specifically, "things you do during summer". Read more... )

At this moment, Jenn walked in, asking what was for dinner.

Evangeline: Sri Lankan food!
Me: Fried chicken!
Jenn: Okay. *walks out*
Evangeline: Um... does she really think it's fried chicken?

We never did finish this game.
conuly: (Default)
This would be a very serious accusation, but I managed to get specifics from her today. Apparently, I'm nicer to Callie because I a. snuggle Callie all the time and b. give Callie everything she likes.

It's not that this reasoning is entirely false, but for comparison purposes, let's make a list. Maybe you can see the problem with it:

What Callie likes:

Playing fetch with her little foil cat toy
Catching mice
Her brother
Cat food
Sneaking food (and dead mice) out of the garbage
Yowling at the top of her lungs
Playing pounce-on-the-feet
Napping
Climbing on stuff and then jumping off
Being snuggled

What Ana likes:

Playing on the ipad
Reading
Her sister
Icies and potato chips
Hiding out so she doesn't have to do her homework (or clear the table)
Playing punch-buggy
Showing off how strong she is
Climbing on stuff and then jumping off
Never being snuggled ever again.

Seriously, she's been known to punch people. And by people I mean me. When I pointed this out, that she NEVER accepts a snuggle or a hug when I offer one, she said that, nevertheless, I snuggle Callie more than I snuggle her. I went to snuggle her. She kicked me.

Yeah, I'm not trying that again!
conuly: (Default)
And she's also learned that by being still and calm, she'll encourage Callie to interact with her. Just today Callie came up to her and head-bumped her before running away! (It was huge, really.)

Ana's new knowledge only helps her a *little*, of course. A few days ago she accidentally locked Callie out in the back hallway. When she opened the door she decided, since Callie is scared of her, to open it in such a way as to not frighten the cat.

She hid behind the door.

Read more... )
conuly: (Default)
Ana: You know, I found out recently that Callie (the calico cat) really likes hunting. Even at night! Every night she's just literally "blargh blargh blargh" (said while frenetically waving her hands in vague clawing motions) all night and jumping on the bed and off the bed and on the bed!
Me: She actually SAYS "blargh blargh blargh"?
Ana: No, that's why I said literally.

Now, I don't usually get all up in the "literally means literal!" debate because, honestly, talk about your lost battle! But I couldn't let this one slide.

Me: Yes, literally. So she actu-
Ana: No! Literally! It means, you know, actually but not really!
Me: No, Ana, it actually means "actually, but totally really".
Ana: It does? Well, whatever, I'm using it that way. She literally does that!
Me: No, sweetie, she figuratively does that. She couldn't do that if she tried, her mouth doesn't work that way.

Later at bedtime, Ana was upset at me because I'd sent Evangeline to bed without dinner. This was because we got a note home about her behavior at school, and when asked Evangeline first lied about it, then continued to lie about it, then started screaming. And I wasn't even upset about the note! So she went right to bed tonight, because we can't have screaming children at the table. I said she could come out when she was ready to behave, and I guess she wasn't. So when Ana went to bed she made a point of telling me how much she'll never forgive me, because, after all, she holds grudges forever. (Newsflash, Ana, we already know this.)

To prove the point, she said she's still mad at this girl in her class in kindergarten, T, because one day in kindergarten T called her fat. And I couldn't help it, I started to laugh. If T called Ana fat, it only proves she had no idea what the word means, because T is quite honestly the chubbiest child I've ever met*, and Ana, well, isn't. Of course, when Ana found out why I found this funny she immediately leapt to the girl's defense, despite not being friends with her over this whole comment. "She's not fat! Well, not anymore. She lost a lot of weight!"

* Not that I normally would care, and even if I would children are constantly getting fat and then thin again, but the irony here was astounding.
conuly: (Default)
I call it a rabbit, it's all blue and red and I think it's from Guatemala. Regardless, she's had it for a long time, and recently Evangeline glommed onto it.

She calls it "Rabbi", a name I vehemently oppose for the obvious reason. So when I'm around now she calls it "Rabbie" or "Rat-eye" instead.

Not that these names are much better, but I can't really fathom her carrying around a decidedly non-kosher toy animal, throwing it up into the air, and calling it "Rabbi".

And as I explained my reasoning to her, again, that it's just coincidentally mildly inappropriate, her sister got in on the act.

Ana: It doesn't have to mean that!
Me: Well, it kinda does. There's only one word that sounds like rabbi, and that's rabbi, and...
Ana: It's also a disease!
Me: What? Okay, no, it's not.
Ana: Yes! Rabbis! It's a disease!
Me: Not that it'd be any better if it were a disease, but no. There's no disease "rabbis".
Ana: Yes there is!
Me: They're Jewish people! It's not a sickness!
Ana: Yes it is! You know, rabbis?

As she said the last I glanced over at her, very frustrated at this inanity, to see her waving her hands at her mouth.

Me: No it's - wait. Do you mean rabies?
Ana: RABBIS!
Me: R - a - b - i - e - s is rabies, sweetie.
Ana: Oh. Well, anyway, it doesn't matter!
conuly: (Default)
And first they whined about how to split the cookies evenly, but then they thought about it and worked out that 14/2 = 7 cookies each. So Evangeline carefully counted out her seven cookies, and Ana decided to have hers later.

A few minutes down the line, when Ana took the sleeve of cookies, Evangeline said, apparently totally seriously:

"Those are your cookies, but be careful, that's my crumb!"

On top of the stack of cookies there was one cookie crumb.

Ana: Your crumb?!?
Evangeline: Yes. That's my crumb.
Ana: YOUR CRUMB?!?!?!?
Evangeline: My crumb.
Ana: Your... CRUMB????
Evangeline: MY CRUMB!
My mom: What's all this about? Ana, you're supposed to share evenly!
Ana: Yeah, but she says that's her crumb!
Evangeline: It is!
My mom: Your crumb?
Evangeline: That's what Ana said!
conuly: (Default)
The girls had chipped in $12, and I agreed to make up any difference. (That really annoyed Ana, who had donated the bulk of that $12 and was hoping to get some change back!)

Anyway, we bought the present and headed home, where I left the present on Jenn's bed figuring we couldn't lose it that way. Ana found it there today and was VERY CONCERNED.

"Why would you do that? Leaving it on her bed? What were you THINKING, Connie?"
"That it's not that big a deal? It's wrapped!"
"What if Mommy saw it there, and got so tempted she couldn't help herself, and she opened it early?"
"You do realize your mother's a grown-up, right?"
"That's not the point. I'm going to put this away."

And she did, right on the same spot we always hide presents, the top shelf of the pantry.

But getting back to our story, on the way home Ana spotted an ad for Gatorade, and it really baffled her.

Ana: I just don't get it.
Me: Get what? Let's cross the street here.
Ana: The sign. How can a drink give anything to a family and the mailman?
Me: The what now? Guys, let's not hold hands, it's a little -
Ana: THE SIGN! It doesn't make any sense!
Me: - crowded on the sidewalk. Ana, I have no idea what you're talking about.
Ana: There's a SIGN. And it has a mom, and a dad, and two kids, and a mailman. And Gatorade!
Me: Gatorade?
Ana: Yes!
Me: That doesn't make any sense.
Ana: No! And I don't get it. The Dad is mad, but it doesn't say why, and the mailman is smiling -
Me: Wait, what? Oh. Oh, no -
Ana: and the mom is just looking embarrassed, and I don't get it.
Me: Well, now I *do* get it, thanks Ana.
Ana: You do?
Me: Yeah, but... I'm not sure I'm going to explain it to you. It's a little inappropriate.
Ana: Well, at least I have one clue. The sign says "Gatorade gives you energy".
Me: Yeah....

I didn't explain it to her at all. NO IDEA where to start!

Other things I didn't point out: The fact that the advent calendars we picked up with the birthday present change feature 17 children, every last one of whom is white. I knew we should've gone with penguins! I'm considering a firmly worded email to the company, but I'm not sure how to word it. Can't we try for a little proportion, people? (And I feel so silly, because it's just an advent calendar, but it's not unimportant, is it? Because it's not just this one thing or that one thing, it's every one of them piled up together in a big load of... I don't know.)
conuly: (Default)
Which I expected, as noted.

And on the train we read the third chapter of Frog and Toad Are Friends ("This book is not on her reading level!"), which Evangeline has never read before: The Lost Button. She stopped a few times mid-story to guess what would happen next.

And I asked Eva after the fact what happened...

Me: So, Evangeline, what happened in this story?
Eva: He lost a button and -
Me: Wait, wait. What happened first?
Eva: They went for a walk, Frog and Toad, and he lost a button. And he-
Me: Who he?
Eva: Toad, Toad lost the button. And he and Frog went looking for it, but they couldn't find it. And they couldn't find it, and then when Toad went home he found it.
Me: Why did Frog look for the button too?
Eva: Because he and Toad are best friends.
Me: Okay. And then?
Eva: And then Toad took all the buttons they found that weren't his, and put them on his jacket and gave them to Frog.
Me: Why? (This isn't stated in the story.)
Eva: I think he just thought maybe Frog was upset at looking for the button, so he wanted to make him happy.

This is pretty close to the synopsis I would've given. This is, as near as I can tell, what Evangeline's teacher thinks she can't do. Are first grade teachers looking for something different?

Evangeline also, I will note, is very careful when reading dialog to try to read it with the appropriate emotion. She'll actually go and re-read something if she started out "sad" and thinks it should have been "happy", or if she was "shouting" and the text says the character "wailed". I don't think I'm just doting when I say that *I* think this puts her ahead of many young readers, and, for that matter, many not-so-young readers who ought to know better.

I mean, here's the thing. I am starting to think, as I've said, that Evangeline may not be reading as well as it seems, that she relies on guesswork more than she ought. However - is she also just working incredibly sub-optimally in class? Because I can't figure this out at all!

Her spelling test didn't come back yet either. I'm quite annoyed.
conuly: (cucumber)
I just want to say that the nieces raved about this gumbo and said it is "Connie's best gumbo ever".

RAVED. ABOUT. IT.

Of course, they also rave when I make green beans, and that doesn't require a roux. So what do they know?

Today Evangeline said, as we walked towards her school "Sometimes I wonder how we all got made."

Me: How what all got what?
Evangeline: How everything got made. You know, the trees and people and, and, and planets and stars?
Me: Oh! Well, that's an excellent question. People have been asking that question for ages and ages. Too bad we still aren't entirely clear on it.
Eva: Well, Grandma thinks God just made everything.
Me: That's one answer, but I don't think it's a good one, because then you just have to ask-
Eva: WHO MADE GOD!

I swear, I didn't plant that statement. See, she's not even six, and even SHE can see the serious flaw in the argument there!

Anyway, we talked a bit about various peoples' creation myths, and I gave her a very brief synopsis of the Big Bang. VERY brief, as I find talk about the origin of everything to be boring and pointless* and so don't know that much on the subject.

*Extremely pointless. As far as I'm concerned, we're here, so obviously we exist, and if we didn't we wouldn't care, so why worry about it? I'm more concerned with my missing pint of ice cream. Anyway, the odds of getting a definitive answer (about the universe AND about my ice cream) within our lifetimes are impossibly slim, and unlike curing cancer or fixing poverty answering the question wouldn't help anybody in the here and now, so "impossibly slim" is as good a reason as any not to care. But I'm all for other people researching and thinking on the subject. Whatever makes you happy.
conuly: (change history?)
Jenn has come across them discussing which one will have the kids and which one will be home! More recently, they seem to have decided they can BOTH have kids if they schedule their work neatly so they have equal days off during the week.

This, naturally, led to squabbles about how to divide seven days fairly between two children. Finally I stepped in and asked why they couldn't have, say, the respective dads watch the kids.

Ana: Dad? You mean, a boy? I'm not getting married. Ew! Gross! BOYS.
Eva: Wait. Could YOU do it? Could YOU watch the kids?
Me: Oh, yeah, sure, I guess *I* don't ever need to have fun and, y'know, a life. Or gainful employment of any sort....
Them: Yay!

It takes so little to make them happy.

Anyway, that dinnertime conversation somehow segued into talking about sex (it was the boys angle) and the girls were baffled that anybody would use birth control (such as condoms, it's never too early to indoctrinate children that using condoms is a GOOD IDEA) because, after all, why would ANYBODY want to have sex if they didn't want children? Go through all that? With a boy? For no good reason? Ew!

I declined to comment.

: )

Sep. 21st, 2011 09:32 am
conuly: (cucumber)
Ana is, socially, doing much better this year. Every day she's bubbling over with something that happened in school. I think she just has a better group of kids (for HER, not that the others were terrible people) this year.

Two of her good friends, I won't name. I'm even changing their INITIALS. One of them, W is a girl, and the other, P is a boy.

And Ana told me the other day "W lied. She said she doesn't like P, or she only likes him THIS much (holding fingers apart a teeny bit) but then she told ME she likes him THIS much (holding her arms apart)".

Me: And did she ask you to tell him she really likes him?
Ana: Yeah! *giggles* And he's white, so his ears are white too, and when I whispered in his ears they turned BRIGHT RED! And he jumped.
conuly: image of Elisa Mazda (Gargoyles) - "Watcher of the City" (watcher of the city)
and told me in great detail why Beauty and the Beast (Disney version) doesn't make any sense:

1. There are no Beasts
1a. That is, not any that can a. walk b. talk c. wear clothes and d. turn into handsome princes
2. Princes don't turn into beasts and vice versa
3. Royalty doesn't really work like that or act like that
4. Neither do horses, and it doesn't make sense for a horse to get lost just so you have an excuse for matchmaking
5. All the things in your house don't really sing and dance
6. Roses don't really carry messages
7. There was no reason she couldn't've visited home or had her dad visit her sooner
8. It's a stupid story

which just about covers it, I think! She was quite adamant!

She also told me why there aren't REALLY any such things as vampire watermelons:

It's just the wind blowing around watermelons in the night, down hills or wherever, and everybody knows there's no such things as vampires there's only "dead people who go into the ground and turn into dirt".

Of course, as I pointed out, I never said there were such things as vampire watermelons, only that some people tell stories about vampire watermelons.

Ana, for her speaking part in this post, regaled me with the ending of The Birchbark House. Before we had a chance to finish it. Oh, I might never forgive her! What's the rule, kiddies? NO READING AHEAD!
conuly: (childish)
Better than Ana was at her actual age, but not quite as well as during the same part in her school career, if that makes sense.

Both of them had, at this point, a problem with guessing. But they guessed totally differently!

Ana, at this stage, would look at the first few letters and make a guess based on how they should all sound... even if it didn't make sense. So if she had a sentence that ran something like "We all live on the Earth" and she was tired by the end of it, she might read "Earth" as "earring" or "eats" or some nonsense word that sorta sounds right.

Evangeline, looking at that same sentence and being just as tired at the end of it, is much more likely to make a guess based upon the sense of the sentence. So HER guess might come out as "planet" or "world".

This has the result of making Evangeline sound like a much better reader, and the fact that she pays attention to what the words mean is very good... but in the end, I don't really want either one of them guessing at all. When they do (and they don't guess right), deep down I feel like shouting "STOP GUESSING! JUST READ IT! R E A D!"

But I try not to do that. I doubt it's helpful. I know, being able to figure things out from context is an important skill, and Ana, at least, is reading well above grade level, so why worry?

But it really annoys me. I mean, really.

Here's something else about reading, and I'm allowed to post this on the condition that none of you ever mentions it to anybody who might ever meet Evangeline, ever. You're swearing an oath by reading onwards!

When they read, they like to pretend they're characters in the books they're reading. (And to an extent they do this when watching TV too.) So if I read about how Omakayas felt bad because her sister Angeline teased her (we're reading The Birchbark House now. Good book, but it's about to get REALLY depressing), Evangeline will go "That's me, I feel bad!" or start to "cry" at the same time I'm reading because "My sister was mean to me". Evangeline especially listens very closely for any mention of HER chosen character in whatever book we're reading. (She was Diana when we read Anne of Green Gables. She still IS Diana sometimes.)
conuly: (cucumber)
So there's going to be a bunch of articles about school!

Ana was talking to me about her teachers and school, and boy did she ever have a lot to say! She doesn't like that her teachers always claim that when THEY were kids THEY always acted right and never were disrespectful or misbehaved in any way. This is clearly a lie. (And it clearly is, and a stupid one, no argument here.) She doesn't like that some kids get pulled out of class for special reasons and she never does. (After talking with her, I managed to get it across that they're not being pulled out of class because the teachers like them more, but because they probably need special help. It seems one of them won't do any of his work...?) She doesn't like that her kindergarten teacher was so awesome that she managed to set an impossibly high standard - seriously, she went on and on and ON about exactly why her kindergarten teacher was such a good teacher, using many specific details. I eventually told her she should write it all down and tell the woman next time she sees her, because it'd be helpful. (It'd be more helpful for the others, I guess, but how could that go over well? Forget it.)

And we talked about other things. Apparently, she thinks that the most popular girl in her grade is beautiful. Everybody thinks that. Except she's not very nice. (According to Ana, anyway.) And several other named people are pretty too. Which led to two discussions:

1. In five years, this girl A will think she's fat and want to be slender like Ana (Ana giggled, because the girl in question IS big compared to her - but then, who isn't?), that girl B will think she's too skinny and want to look more like A, a third girl C will just think she's ugly and want a face more like B's face, and D will want C's hair. And it's all a pointless waste of time.

2. There's pretty on the outside and there's pretty on the inside, and people can get over not having the first but very rarely get over not having the second. Ana apparently managed to completely and pointlessly antagonize That Popular Girl in her grade last year, and it didn't make her happy in the end (well, really, I could've told her that saying to the girl's face that she's mean was a bad idea, even if it IS true), but as I pointed out, there's probably lots of other kids who wish they could be brave and kind like Ana is. That doesn't mean they're going to be nice or are going to be her friend, but you have to take what you can get.

So we'll see what happens this year. Ana isn't convinced she doesn't want to transfer schools, but truthfully, I don't see her social problems (the extent of which she only was willing to talk about in June) as changing just because she changes schools. That's assuming that she has as many problems as she thinks. I pick her up, I see kids randomly hugging her as they say goodbye, and while it's possible they're all really being manipulative, they're not hugging everybody and calling out to them.

Anyway! Articles!

Growth scores give schools No Child Left Behind alternative

Basically they're saying that if you're evaluating teachers, evaluate by how much they taught, not whether they were magically able to pull 33 kids up to grade level from being 3 years behind. If they do a year's worth of work, that's a year's worth of teaching. I think that's fair.

PS 70 in Queens has the city's worst bedbug problem. I really only linked this for the first sentence:

This is one grade a Queens elementary school wished it hadn't scored highest in the city.

What an unusual way to form a sentence, don't you think?

And this piece on independent learning in a school
conuly: (Default)
to everything I want to post. (I win!)

Now, I picked up the nieces on Tuesday from their dad, and then immediately headed to the nearest B&N to pick up Amulet, which I'd put on hold.

The girls did not want to go to the bookstore. Ana most emphatically wanted to go HOME. "No, we have to go to the bookstore, I have to pick something up."

She grumped and whined and was generally a major crankipants all the way up. I could've just TOLD her I was getting a book from a series she loves, but I prefer surprise. And as we left the train I went "Just so you know, this is MY book. It's for me."

Ana: I know. *scowl* I hate books.
Me: Uh-huh. And you're never gonna guess what it is!
Evangeline: Oh, it's Amulet!

Now, you have to understand that I hadn't mentioned that book AT ALL the whole past week.

Me: *jawdrop*
Me: Uh... it doesn't have to... I mean it's... you... How do you even DO that?
Evangeline: Well, every time you say we can't guess what it is, it's a book for us.
Me: But how did you know it's Amulet?
Evangeline: *shrugs*

And then Ana got her grubby little paws on the book, and on Smile, and we weren't able to leave the store for H O U R S. I had to bribe them out with promises of Washington Market Playground, and Ana STILL would have preferred to stay in the bookstore!

I may or may not have picked up a new book for me, at shocking expense. (Must renew that membership posthaste. With the amount of money this family spends on books yearly, it more than pays for itself.)
conuly: (can't)
(Yes, Asian. They have a page in the menu for Thai, one for Chinese, one for Japanese....)

And I'd teased Ana when she was a little cranky at the table, I said "Well, you know, if you don't want to be here you can just go home. You know the way, right?" And after that we'd talked about how even if it weren't very late at night it wouldn't happen, if for no other reason than she'd have to cross a fairly dangerous intersection to get home. (I mean, really dangerous, there are a few crashes there every year, and the corner store has had to do major repairs at least twice - this AFTER you consider they have poles up at the corner for this reason!)

Evangeline and I left early because she was a very, very sleepy child*, and we talked about it a little as we walked home. Crossing that street, I said "It's true, you have to be very careful here, because the cars are crazy."

Eva: The... the cars are -
Me: *sigh* The drivers, sweetie, I meant the drivers IN the cars.
Eva: Oh. That makes sense. *giggles* I thought you meant the CARS were crazy.
Me: I know. That's why I explained it. Also, this is going up on my journal, okay?
Eva: *yawn* All right.

Very, very literal child. She's afflicted already with the family curse as well. She was browsing through Rapunzel's Revenge on Friday, and Ana passed her Calamity Jack as well. (THESE ARE GREAT BOOKS THAT YOUR KIDS SHOULD ABSOLUTELY HAVE.) "You know, Connie, I found a mistake on the cover."

Me: A what now?
Eva: A mistake. On the cover.
Me: Where?
Eva: See, they did her hair wrong. It's the wrong color.
Me: It's red.
Eva: But it's the WRONG red. See? It's not the same red as it is on THIS cover.

And she's right! The red on the cover of Calamity Jack isn't the same as in Rapunzel's Revenge! This should be nipped in the bud. Last thing this family needs is another editor/proofreader. Do you know, my mother criticizes mistakes in graffiti?

Me: Huh. But maybe it's because of the lighting.
Eva: Maybe. Or it could be because they're in the sun!

*My mother.... It had been a long, rough day for her. We went out to eat lunch, and Ana threw a little hissy fit that we didn't go where SHE wanted to go (McDonald's) we went out to Wendy's, to which I say "suck it up". And so SHE wasn't going to eat, and SHE was going to make us all miserable. (SHE was hungry, and after I insisted upon three bites she proceeded to finish the rest and then demand more. I told her she could have fruit.) Meanwhile, my mother had problems with her teeth and couldn't eat anything.

Dinner was wildly late, and the nieces were hungry and tired. Still, they behaved VERY well under the circumstances. However, Evangeline did fidget, and at one point my mother snapped at her for spilling something. "She should know better than to act like that!" And before she could start in on this, I interrupted her (because Evangeline didn't do anything wrong other than be a klutz, and because I would never have made the choices my mother made which led to us eating dinner so late!) with a relatively calming "It's late. She's tired, and she's hungry." "Don't make excuses for her!"

Not five minutes later my mother turns and goes to Ana, about something different "I'm in a bad mood because I haven't eaten".

Well, no duh, but Evangeline never got an apology for being attacked for what really was her Nanen's bad mood! The hypocrisy of this irked me no end, but I didn't bring it up. I was Being Tactful.
conuly: (brain)
Today she sent me an email with a picture in it and the message "why didn't you tell me these are sooooo cute?" This is all she said.

The picture was of a water bear, and it was certainly one of the most adorable pictures of a water bear I've ever seen. (Wikipedia says they're also called moss piglets. OMG THAT IS EVEN CUTER!)

But I digress. While you probably do encounter these every day, you equally probably don't realize it. So I replied to her with the note "Oh, is that a water bear?"

"How do you even know the stuff you do????

1. Does my mother even know me? I mean, I thought after 28 years she'd have some idea of who her daughter is, but....

2. More importantly - I didn't start this conversation, she did! And her very first words were asking why I never told her how cute water bears are! So... I don't... it's not... aaaaarrrrrrrggggghhhh!

In other cute animal news, I found a caterpillar gnawing on my rue today. I didn't realize that when you try to pry them off your rue plant they flash horns at you! I brought it in to Ana to show her, and explained that the caterpillar is trying to scare us away. "That's not scary!" "Well, it would be if we were a lot smaller, like if we were a praying mantis trying to eat it or something." Since we're not, though, it was just cute. But we only tormented the poor thing once or twice (for science!) and then put it back outside. Even if it is cute and educational, it's not fair to the caterpillar dear.
conuly: (change history?)
Anything to stay air conditioned, I say.

Ana was very happy to get to see Angelina Ballerina. In order to make that show "educational" they slip in live action clips of real people doing real things, and the episode we watched had three children who are attending youth programs at Julliard. And the first one talks about how he plays the flute, and this and that, and as he's talking on and on I interject "And he practices three hours a day...." into all of this. Naturally, I'm ignored.

Then the two who play the marimba come on, and sure enough, one of them says those exact words, "I practice about three hours a day."

Cue Ana turning to stare at me, jaw fully dropped.
conuly: (Default)
Very shocked, and I had to promise her I wouldn't post a single story about her again without asking her first. Because people (she doesn't know) might think she's "weird". Her words, not mine. *I* think she's adorable.

Well, that's fair. She's not a baby anymore. *sniff*

And she seems to already understand what so many don't, that the impression you make online can follow you around forever.

We haven't worked out what to do when it's a story that involves her and Ana together. (Ana has no problem with me posting anything un-embarrassing. I can explain this... later.)

So if there's a little less periodic cute from me, that's not because I don't love my own beloved younger niece*, it's because I do and want to respect her wishes in this area.

*Cute story about this phrasing possibly to come.
conuly: (childish)
There isn't a strong enough profanity to account for how damn hot it is. Triple digits.

I didn't cook dinner. I ordered pizza. The nieces made a BIG FUSS and now we're trying out dairy to see if they're outgrowing that intolerance, so we tried cheese pizza. (They've been eating ice cream, too. That's what prompted this, they were tired of raspberry sorbet.) Fingers crossed.

As we were eating dinner, Evangeline started talking about her upcoming birthday. You know, the one in the middle of October. THAT birthday! She already has her guest list written, and today she was explaining to us why she picked the guests she did. "I would've invited Themie, but she's best friends with Stephanie, and Stephanie sat at my table so I really like her, but if Themie comes they'll just play together so I can't invite her, I don't think."

*blinkblinkblink*

Is it just me, or is this a nice amount of social awareness for a five year old? (No, really, is it just me? This is one of those things I don't know.)
conuly: (childish)
And she had to pick them up, because if there is one thing I can't stand, it's broken crayons.

Evangeline woke up from her nap and dumped out Ana's hard work. She was trying to help. Ana pushed her on the floor - a not entirely surprising reaction!

So Evangeline stormed back to bed sobbing and sobbing and crying that NOBODY understands her and NOBODY likes her. Ana kept on doing what she was doing, sulking when I went in to comfort her sister instead of her.

And nobody gets a sulk on like Ana does. Here it is, dinnertime, and she's sitting on the couch insisting that SHE won't eat dinner and SHE won't eat dessert until those crayons are done!

Me: Yeah, well, it'll take you all of a minute to finish it up if you stop trying to sort them and whine about it.

Now SHE wouldn't eat, she'd just STARVE, even AFTER she finished the crayons! Also, she hates me forever. And I hate her, she KNOWS it.

Me: Whatever....

(Well, what was I supposed to say?)

Once she was all done she stood up, declared that she hated everybody, forbade me from hugging/kissing/loving her, and told me to hit her. That's been her line this past week, don't ask me why. It gets sorely tempting sometimes, let me tell you!

But I tricked her! I pointed out that hitting her would be giving her what she wants, and since I oh-so-hate-her I should hug her instead. And I did. Tickled her too. And that, amazingly, worked.

Right up until Evangeline bolted from the table. "And now, for the great and only... EVA ATTACK!"

That kid is HEAVY when she jumps and hugs you! And it just set Ana off. She's growing, she weighs more now. I am now all hugged out. ALL. HUGGED. OUT. NO HUGS!

We also had a screaming contest, which I won by virtue of having bigger lungs and a lot more practice. I held that scream well after they'd given up, and I didn't even bother to take a breath first! "It's like the OPERA!" I don't really picture myself as the fat lady, but it's nice to win something fair and square :)
conuly: Dr. Horrible quote: All the birds are singing, you're gonna die : ) (birds are singing)
We were walking to the boat, and Evangeline, out of nowhere, asked "Which one of us do you love the best?"

I replied, quite sincerely (and not a little desperately!) that of course I love them the same amount.

Eva: But really, which one do you love MOST?
Me: THE SAME. I LOVE YOU BOTH THE SAME.
Ana: C'mon, tell us!
Me: Nope, not doing it. Because I love you the same. And even if I didn't, I'd never tell you, because that'd just make the other one upset.
Ana and Eva: No we wouldn't! TELL US, CONNIE! TELL US!!!!

I was trapped. Cornered! There was no way out! Frantic, I searched for the answer to satisfy everybody, and fell upon...

Me: Moosie. I love Moosie the best.
Them: Moosie????
Me: Yup, Moosie.
Them: Moo-
Me: YES! She never whines, or throws tantrums, or doesn't eat her lunch-
Ana: She doesn't eat lunch! She's a doll!
Me: Exactly! She always does what I tell her-
Eva: Because she's not real!
Me: I don't care. All I care is that I don't have to make her clean her room or do her homework or put her clothes away.
Eva: But what about Baby Jill?
Me: Jill's got a hard head. Moosie is very snuggly.
Ana: We snuggle!
Me: Yeah, but you have elbows. Very boney. No, sorry girls, it's Moosie all the way. That's why I didn't want to tell you!

I don't know if they were satisfied with this answer, but they stopped asking. Phew! That was a close one.
conuly: (change history?)
I told the girls I'd pick up sandals for them before going to Coney Island. (And I did, that very day. They weren't very happy with the options - as I refused to get flip-flops, dressy shoes, or "crocs" which, in my experience, wear down too quickly, they were limited to "good quality shoes that will last the summer". And the only ones they had of THOSE in this store in their size were the dreaded "boy shoes". Well, I'm sorry girls, but dark colors are practical anyway, suck it up. And do not get me STARTED on segregating shoes for kids by gender.)

Anyway, after I said that Evangeline said "Oh, good, because I don't want to get germs on my feet at the beach!"

Now, you know what I feel about bare feet being happy feet (in many, but not all situations, and not for people who just can't do that), so I pointed out that it's fairly unlikely you'll get a disease just by walking on the ground. After all, germs don't generally burrow through your skin. (That's worms, but you could get them by doing handstands in iffy areas too, so... yeah.) "Well, if I had a cut on my foot!"

Yes, I said, if you had a cut on your foot. And then I remembered something that I don't get enough chances to tell her not to do (thankfully) and said "Of course, if you're worried about germs from your feet, you could stop biting your toenaiils." (At the dinner table! Ew!) Evangeline glared up at me and said "Oh, Connie, I don't do that, you know that!" At this point I realized the people across from us were torn between holding in giggles and not, so I said "Sorry, I guess you didn't need to hear that." Cue Evangeline's stage whisper: "I know they didn't, that's why I said I don't do that!"

I don't think it would've occurred to her sister to be embarrassed by this at her age (this was the child who ate ABC gum if she could, remember), or to lie to get out of it either. But now I know.

(Interesting thing about the sandals, I got them in the nieces' current shoe sizes - 13 for Ana, 12 1/2 for Evangeline. Ana's turned out to be much larger on her than I realized, and Evangeline fit into ONE shoe perfectly, while the other is nearly too small already! It doesn't matter much with open-toe sandals, but this explains SO MUCH about why her dad is always getting her shoes that she says hurt her toes. He must be measuring the wrong foot! I don't blame him, I wouldn't habitually measure both feet either, but now I can *see* how the sandals fit so I told their parents about this.)
conuly: (disaster)
Don't understand them one little bit, but I love them.

Yesterday it was torrential out there. We came home to do our homework BEFORE going to Ana's double dutch class. This was a mistake - if we'd gone straight to the bus we would've made it to the Y on time, but I wasn't going out once it started pouring down. So we made hot cocoa instead, and we had a nice dinner of thyme lime chicken and okra (and some other stuff they didn't eat much of, but I keep thinking one day they'll wake up and love sweet potato!) and it was great.

After dinner I sent them to clean up their room while I prepped dessert - fruit salad. It's a really good fruit salad, with avocado, cherries, strawberries, and banana (pity the nieces only eat two of the four fruits in there, but I can finagle banana in as well if I ask nicely) covered over with a light ginger syrup and some orange juice. Anyway, they love strawberries and cherries and stainy fruits in general.

So here I am washing dishes and puttering around the kitchen and cleaning up (yes, Jenn!) and chopping fruits into individual bowls and cooking ginger syrup and squeezing an orange, and I hear quite a lot of productive noise coming from their room and a real dearth of suspicious silence, giggling, or fighting, plus every time I holler "Are you cleaning in there???" I get a firm "YES!" in reply, so I trust that the room will look, if not better, at least not worse when I poke my head in.

And then I *did* poke my head in, and found that the nieces had taken all their summer clothes out of the bin (which they shouldn't've had in their room but have been using as a "picnic table") to put in a bag, and then started taking their books off the shelves to put in the bin.

...

I have no idea what on earth gave them idea that "clean up your room!" meant "do something totally random and unproductive, guys!", but in their defense, the books were at least... stacked neatly?
conuly: (cat+dog pyrokinesis)
and so I have fewer Ana-cdotes than I used to.

But here's one:

We had just left the school when I saw Ana's classmate Billy. I know it's Billy because he is very short. Really very short.

And Billy's mother sees us and goes "Hey, isn't that one of your classmates?"

Billy: Oh, that's just Ana. She hates me.
Grown-ups: Uh....
Ana: That's right, I hate him.
Me: Um... well, don't take it personally, she hates all the boys.

It was very awkward, as I'm sure you can understand, and the matter-of-fact way they said this didn't actually help.

Several hours later, at bedtime, Ana looked at me and said "That's not true, you know. I don't hate all the boys."

Me: You don't?
Ana: No! Just the annoying ones!
Me: I don't know, sometimes it sounds to me like there isn't a single boy in your class you can stand.
Ana: That's not true!

And then she began to list them all, by name. Apparently, there are two boys she doesn't hate - one because he doesn't talk to her, and the other because he doesn't talk at all! She specifically "broke up with" (this seems to mean "stopped being friends with", I realized by listening carefully) Billy because "he likes me and always wants to sit next to me, so I had to tell him I hate him". But a week later they had made up again... sorta. She was clear to me (if not to him, I wasn't there for this conversation) that if he keeps on being so irritatingly friendly she'd have to not be his friend.
conuly: (childish)
Both of them at the Y, actually. And both on the same subject.

1. Evangeline was getting changed for swimming and I teased her by saying her toes were blue. Evangeline can be a very literal child and so serious, and she said to me "No, they're black and white."

Let me just say I genuinely had no idea where she was going with that, and we managed to frustrate each other very much when I said "...gray?" and then tried out "brown!" for size.

No, she assures me, she's just black and white, and so are her toes.

2. A few days later, we were stuck there doing her homework. One of her words of the week was "white". I had suggested that snow is white, or clouds are white, or the flower is white.

Evangeline had her own ideas. "I... love... Kuh... ah... nnn..."

Me: N-I-E. Wait. Is that my name?

Evangeline: *giggles*

Me: Wait. Wait, no, you can't write that!

Evangeline: (patting my arm) That's you. You're white!

Me: No, I mean, yes, but no! Stop!

Evangeline: Who... is...

Me: NO! *headdesk*

Evangeline: White!

Me: THIS IS NOT WHAT YOUR TEACHER MEANT!!!

Evangeline: All done!

I have no idea what her teacher thought about that homework assignment. But that's all right. School is out in only a few months.
conuly: Quote: "You only wish you were as cool as I am" (cool)
Evangeline is in her "write notes all around the house" stage. Today I picked up one that says

ILove
Anayou
rare a
won uv
miy my
fids.

That is so sweet!
conuly: Discworld quote: "The new day is a great big fish!" (fish)
Ana the other day was playing with a roll of sequined ribbon. (Ribbony sequins? Whatever.) It got tangled up, and she couldn't fix it, so in the true spirit of pragmatism she decided to hang it from the central hammock hook as a trap. For Justin Beaver. She's not sure who he is, but she's certain that he's got teeth. Cuz, you know... he's a beaver.

The nieces have learned two new poems lately. Ana learned "Stopping By the Woods on a Snowy Evening", because it was snowy and I didn't have to look it up. I wasn't going to teach one to Evangeline, but she insisted, so she learned Hope is the Thing with Feathers, because it's short and I was able to quickly memorize it myself.

When I started teaching Ana her poem of the moment, she went "I don't WANT to learn any more poems, I HATE it." I have no idea why she got that case of the grumpies right then, but I told her we don't memorize things because it's fun, we do it to exercise our brains in the same way that we don't eat carrots because they're yummy, we do it because they're healthy. It's great if we think it IS fun and that they ARE yummy, but that's not the point. And also, she never ever ever had to recite a poem to anybody ever if she didn't want to.

Surprisingly, this argument - and I thought it was a little bad myself - worked. That really *was* surprising. Ana is a wonderful child, but she can hold real grudges and keep bad moods for a very long time. Famously, she once held a grudge against another person for an entire *year*. She was three when it started. In kindergarten she had a friend Jessica. Halfway through the year they stopped talking, and they didn't start up again until a month ago. I finally found out why - apparently, they had argued over whether "momm" was read "mom" or "mommy". When Ana told me this my jaw literally dropped and I said, without considering my words, that that was actually the one of the stupidest things I'd ever heard. And they'd been good friends until that point! I would not have said it if I hadn't been so taken aback by this story, but Ana agreed with me. It took her a few more weeks to so much as say "hi" to the girl anyway.

So for Ana to drop her argument on a specious argument like "Yeah, well, whatever, it's good for you" was nothing short of miraculous. She really is going to grow up to be a lawyer one day... if she can get over her stubborn belief that becoming a lawyer would be proving me right. She only has another decade and a half of school to decide. It might not be enough time!

So anyway, that's Ana. Her sister was immensely annoyed that she didn't have her own special poem to work on, and after she butted in one too many times (shown up by your younger sister! The horror!) I gave her her own, as I said. I should've picked another one, in retrospect. Evangeline, I'm coming to realize, can be an astonishingly literal child. Her very first line she stopped and said "Hope is a bird. It's just a bird!" At the end of the poem she said "And it doesn't ask a crumb? Well, you don't give it crumbs, you give it lots of bread. So it isn't hungry!"

This, of course, is nothing. Ana had a heavy bookbag on the other day, and she actually almost fell because of it. (Whoops.) She got up laughing and said "The bag made me fall!" to which her sister replied, deeply concerned at this irrational statement... "No, Ana. The bag didn't make you fall. It's just the weight. The books in the bag are heavy."

And that's just the tip of the iceberg. (And Evangeline, before you ask - not literally an iceberg. No, there aren't any icebergs in NYC, you're right. I mean that this is just a small example of the many conversations in this vein we've had recently.)
conuly: Quote: "I'm blogging this" (blogging)
And I was! Giveaways are impossible to resist, after all.

But I haven't been lately, and there's a reason for that. I haven't been reading as much to the nieces.

This is not because I am a terrible person who wants them to grow up illiterate... although when we're going at a snail's pace because Ana has pulled out ANOTHER book to read as she walks and I've run out of hands after confiscating the first two, let me tell you, sometimes I *am* a terrible person who wants them to grow up illiterate. (Alas, it is clearly too late.)

Instead, it is because Evangeline is only interested in reading to me (Dick and Jane if I forget to hide the books, Elephant and Piggie if I do not forget - SHE read the new one to ME, and her books in a bag incessantly), and because whenever I manage to carve out time to read to her Ana sits down with her library copy of Rapunzel's Revenge and Evangeline abandons me to hear what happens next!

This will not happen anymore! NO MORE! I am returning that book TOMORROW!

Because I gave in and bought our own copy, and Calamity Jack as well.

It's not only her sister that Ana reads to. Apparently she's been hosting read-alouds of Rapunzel's Revenge at her school as well.

...

Well, it *is* a pretty awesome book. Doesn't mean I'm not going to start hiding it if this doesn't let up, though. I can't get a book in edgewise!
conuly: image of a rubber ducky - "Somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you" (ducky predicate)
The nice prize in kindness is for her sister, who was sweet and patient with her cranky, overtired sibling all evening.

But the cute prize is all Evangeline's, because when she was cranky and tired I started to sing to her. And because she happens to love Froggy Would a-Wooing Go, I sang that to her. I happen to know two versions of that song (well, I know more than that, but I'm only word-perfect on two of them), one of which Evangeline likes and the other one Ana likes. The first one ends up "last to come was a big tomcat/he ate the frog and the mouse and the rat", and the second ends up "next to come was Mr. Tick/he ate so much it made him sick/so we called in Dr. Fly/he swore by God that tick would die".

Today, I finally found out why Evangeline only likes the first version. "Because in the OTHER one only ONE of them dies, and that's not fair!"

I laughed so hard the tourists stopped and stared. Oh, well, let them, that's what they came here to see, right?
conuly: A picture of the Castleton Castle. Quote: "Where are our dreams? Where are our castles?" (castle)
This is a pity, because the nieces were actually being (mostly) awesome. I don't know why I was in such a snappish mood, but I tried to rein it in.

Ana has a new folder, her Science Homework folder. As she said... "It's like my homework folder, or my Spanish folder, and it's a BIG RESPONSIBILITY, we have to keep track of it. Like my Spanish folder, which is.... Hey, you know, I think I accidentally left my Spanish folder at school! Weird. Why are you laughing, Connie?"

Evangeline won, though. We were eating dinner (salad, pasta with sausage, broccoli) and their table manners were really deplorable (or maybe they weren't and I was just being bitchy, I'm actually not sure) and at one point I opened my mouth to tell Ana to stop kicking or holding her fork in a really awkward way or eating with her fingers or I don't know what... and was promptly shut up by Evangeline going "Connie! Don't talk with your mouth full!"

I just about choked to death right then and there, but I recovered enough to say "You're right, thanks" only to get "Wait, tell me after you finish your food."

So maybe I'm the one with deplorable manners! Who knew?

I do have a serious thing to say, though. Yesterday I got started telling the nieces riddles. Not the type of riddle that asks "What do you get when you cross a pigeon with a parrot?" nor yet the type that asks "What's the difference between a train and a teacher". I'm talking about the classics, up to and including "What walks on four legs in the morning..."

Surprisingly, the girls figured the last one out all on their own! Not only that, but Evangeline memorized it after one run-through. When she asked me the riddle today I pointed out that I already knew, and, in fact, have known the answer for a very long time, but suggested she ask her teacher tomorrow.

That said, I need more riddles. More of the less joke-y type. H E L P!

(Also, my plan to teach Evangeline cursive this summer has been altered in light of the fact that she's already trying to write cursive now. Um. Yeah, I wasn't ready for that. Ana's response was incredibly blase. "You didn't do that right, Eva isn't spelled E U A." I was more "Wow, I can... uh... read that!")
conuly: Picture of a young River Tam. Quote: Independent thought, independent lives, independent dreams (independent)
Because we suck, mostly.

But we did have it, and it was good, and everybody was happy.

Not long after St. Nicholas Day Evangeline came home and told me a story. She said "Today my teacher told us something that I know isn't true. She was just pretending. Mrs. Dulligan said she was home with her husband, I forgot his name, maybe Mr. Dulligan? Yeah, that's his name, they were home and she said she heard a noise outside, and she looked outside and she saw a reindeer! With a red nose! And I know she really didn't. I think she just said that so that the other kids who think Santa is real would think it was fun. That's silly! Reindeers ("Reindeer, sweetie, not reindeers") reindeer don't live here, and definitely not Rudolph."

Of course, if you don't remember previous years you might wonder about why we bother with St. Nicholas Day if the nieces Know About Santa, and that's because it's fun. The night they put out their shoes-with-celery we went to the store. And as we were there Ana said "Can we get some of that pomegranate juice? Mommy really likes it, and she'll be really surprised to find some in her shoe tomorrow."

That's magic, right there. You can keep your Santa is Real, and you can do whatever you like to maintain the lie illusion for yourself. If you want to make "snowy" footprints on your carpet or if you want to tromp around on the roof at night ringing bells, be my guest. (And please use all appropriate safety precautions, thanks.) I will take the simple magic of "Let's surprise Mommy by getting her something she likes" over that any day of the week.
conuly: Picture of a young River Tam. Quote: Independent thought, independent lives, independent dreams (independent)
1. While the rest of us were all having a, uh, lively discussion (and let me just say that we didn't have any real fights at ALL and my mother didn't storm out even ONCE) Ana burst in to chastise us:

"I'm the only one trying to have a real Thanksgiving! You guys don't even care! It's about being thankful, not about everybody FIGHTING and YELLING at each other!"

Yes. I LOL'd.

2. Later in the evening, upset at being asked to do something, she went "I have to do EVERYthing around here, and I'm just the MAID, you don't do ANYthing!"

What was she asked to do? She was asked to get a cup of water. For herself. Because she'd said she was thirsty and nobody else felt like getting it for her.

I laughed for a good two minutes over that, much to her consternation.
conuly: Quote: "I'm blogging this" (blogging)
1. Ana and Evangeline recounted their treasure hunt yesterday. Ana, after reciting some silly clue that was obviously "oven" wanted to know if we could figure it out.

Me: Freezer?
Ana: What? NO. The freezer is call that because it is a freeze er. Freeeeeeze. Er! Freezer! It doesn't make food hot!

2. Later, she went to get a cup. This was just a few minutes ago.

Evangeline: It's freezing in the kitchen.
Jenn: Yeah, it's really cold.
Evangeline: NO! It's fweezing. Lemme tell you!
Ana (barging in and banging that door right into my back): IT IS FREEZING OUT HERE!
Evangeline: See? I told you! FREEZING OUT THERE!
conuly: Fuzzy picture of the Verrazano Bridge. Quote in Cursive Hebrew (bridge)
Actual conversation between Evangeline and Ana as they were playing:

Ana: Oh, I really envy you. I want your pony.
Evangeline: Yeah, and I envy YOUR pony.
Ana: Say envious.
Evangeline: I envious your -
Ana: AM envious.
Evangeline: I am envious your -
Ana: About. I'm envious about.
Me: Of!
Evangeline: I'm envious about your pony.
Me: Of, honey. Envious of.
Evangeline: I'm envious of your pony, Ana!

It's amazing how placid and calm poor Evangeline honey was about all these corrections! You wouldn't believe it! Aw, she's a sweet kid. I told her though - this is the LAST YEAR. NO MORE BIRTHDAYS. Next year, she's just going to have to turn five again. (And she laughs and says she can't! Hasn't anybody told her yet that you can do anything if you just try harder?)
conuly: Quote: "I'm blogging this" (blogging)
Part of the reason I'm recently posting far more cute stories from Evangeline than from Ana, btw, is that Ana can be really hard to talk to. For example, on the first day of school....

Me: So, Ana, did you like school?
Ana: No.
Me: Why not?
Ana: It was boring.
Me: What did you do?
Ana: I sat. It was stupid.
Me: What's your teacher's name?
Ana: Ms. Stupid!

Compare this to Evangeline's conversation, and you can see the difference....

Me: Hey, Evangeline, did you have fun at school today?
Evangeline: Yeah! My friend Briana was there, I thought she was going to another school but she's not she's in my class, and my teacher is nice - I forgot her name - and I didn't get to put my crayons away today, and we had fun, and I only had a half day you know, and there's no school tomorrow, and....

It's somewhat less like pulling teeth!

But, on to today. (As regards the four-day weekend, btw, Ana's comment was "Even my TEACHER said it was stupid!", which I believe.)

We were walking to the library, and we saw a little kid walking home in a uniform - not one I've seen before around here, but I think it's from the new school that just opened in the PS 16 annex. Dark green top, khaki bottom.

Ana: That's her uniform? *looks down at own uniform* It's so... the colors are so dull!
Me: What, you don't like green?
Ana: Well, it's green and that skirt, what color is that?
Me: Khaki? Well, khaki does mean dust colored, but, you know -
Ana: *totally not listening* Of course, it's not blue. I AM SO SICK OF BLUE BY NOW! I am SEE SICK OF IT!
Me: Seasick?
Ana: I see it, and I'm sick of it! *laughs maniacally*

I can, uh, see that, though she never complains about wearing her uniform anyway.

On that note, here's this article on identical quadruplets all dressed up for THEIR first day of school. Cute picture, story's what you'd expect.

Two 'cdotes

Sep. 1st, 2010 01:06 pm
conuly: Quote: "You only wish you were as cool as I am" (cool)
1. Evangeline was with my mother, and apparently trying to sneak some sugar at the whole time. My mother had no idea until Evangeline, apparently feeling that she was about to be caught, suddenly said "Oh, look, my hand must have just accidentally fell into the sugar!"

*headdesk*

2. Now, Ana was talking to me the other day, and she said, out of nowhere, "Babies are free".

Me: Well, sorta, but you have to buy diapers and clothes for them and actually babies cost a lot of money, and that's just when they're LITTLE, they grow up!
Ana: No, no, no, I mean having babies is free.
Me: Well, it can be, but you probably would see a doctor during your pregnancy to make sure everything is all right, and take vitamins, and most people - not everybody! - but a lot of people prefer to go to the hospital to have their babies, and this all costs a lot of money, and then the baby of course, you have to buy slings and diapers and whatnot. Babies cost a lot of money.
Ana: NO! I mean that sex is free.
Me: *blinkblinkblink*
Me: Well, you kinda have me there, Ana. If you're paying for sex - or if other people pay you for sex - you're breaking the law. But you know, when you're older, you'll probably buy condoms and whatnot so that you don't get pregnant or sick from having sex, because condoms are a lot cheaper than babies.
Ana: But I want a baby!

(Ana, you should understand, is stubbornly stubborn. Unfortunately for her, as I pointed out just last night, I was better at being stubborn before she was even born. Then she argued with me over what stubborn even means.)
conuly: Quote: "I'm blogging this" (blogging)
See if you can guess what her outfit is )



Now, I know you can't, so scroll down for the answer )

Ah, my nieces. Ana's the one who got her dressed up, of course.
conuly: Discworld quote: "The new day is a great big fish!" (fish)
Read more... )

Then later, after swimming (which was cut short because some kid threw up in the pool, ew):

Read more... )
conuly: Quote: "You only wish you were as cool as I am" (cool)
Last week, Evangeline was walking along when she dropped something and asked why things fall down.

Me: Gravity.
Evangeline: What's gravity?
Me: Well, you're not gonna like this answer, but gravity basically means "the reason things fall down."
Evangeline: Things fall down because they fall down? That's not right! You can't say because it's because!
Me: *sighs* Well, okay, there's more to it than that, but it's a bit hard to explain. I can try, but it's okay if you don't really understand it, because it's hard to explain it well.
Evangeline: Okay.
Me: Basically, gravity means that big things attract little things and make them fall down. What's the biggest thing near us, do you know?
Evangeline: Uh... the car?
Me: Nope, because the car isn't DOWN. The biggest thing *stops foot* is right below us.
Evangeline: The sidewalk?
Me: The whole planet. The whole earth. Where we live. And because it's the biggest thing where we are, it's DOWN. Everything else on earth is little, so everything else is attracted to - pulled towards - the earth. That's gravity. Big things, like the earth, pull little things towards them. And make them fall.
Evangeline: Okay...
Me: Of course, if there were something bigger nearby, THAT would be down. If we were on the moon, even though the moon is smaller than the earth, the earth would be so far away that the moon would be down. The moon would pull us, because we're little, down towards it. Or if we were on the sun, the sun is HUGE, down would be the sun. Things would fall onto the sun.
Evangeline: Okay.
Me: But we're on earth, and things here fall down to the earth because the earth is the biggest thing around, and gravity is big things attracting little things. It's a little more complicated than that, but that's roughly it.

This isn't exactly the best explanation I've ever come up with, but she's four and I didn't expect it to sink in anyway. Plus, I had no time to prepare. So I largely forgot about it. Until yesterday.

Evangeline: Ow! I fell down!
Me: *kiss*
Evangeline: I don't like falling down.
Me: Blame gravity.
Evangeline: Grav- oh, right. Big things pulling little things DOWN.

Hey, it stuck!
conuly: Good Omens quote: "Kids! Bringing about Armageddon can be dangerous!" (armageddon)
LAST swimming lesson they practiced lying on their backs (on their noodles!) and kicking their legs. I say "they", but in fact, when Evangeline heard this idea she turned around and attempted to climb up to my hair. I couldn't even convince her to just lie on her STOMACH and kick! It was like the first day of class all over again, but with somewhat less crying.

I wasn't too worried. I figured she'd get over it by next week. And she did - today she got on her back and tried it, before she was supposed to! And when she found she could get someplace REALLY FAST this way, she just zoomed around and laughed at me.

In fact, she refused to flip over even to show off to the instructor how she could blow bubbles. Now, prior to coming to us, he was (unsurprisingly) with the little girl right next to us, who can swim a little better to Evangeline. "Can she swim by herself?" he asked. When her mother replied that she had no idea, he said "Well, let's try it!" and stood two feet away so she could try swimming by herself with no noodle.

Evangeline was busy kicking on her back. It was a non-event, until ten minutes later when ALL OF A SUDDEN... (dunh dunh DUNH!)

Evangeline (superfast): Cansheswimbyherselfletstryit!
Me: Wait, what? N-
Noodle: Whee, I'm up in the air!
Evangeline: DOWN to the bottom of the pool! (This pool is 3 foot six. Evangeline is NOT three foot six! GAH!)
Me: GAH! *grab*
Me: Evangeline!
Evangeline (laughing): I'm a vampire! *slobbers my neck* Mmm, yummy blood! *slobbers my neck* Mmm, blood, yum yum! *slobbers my arm* BLOOD! I'm a vampire, I eat blood! *smacks lips*

No, seriously, this is what she said.

And she's usually such a sensible child!
conuly: Fuzzy picture of the Verrazano Bridge. Quote in Cursive Hebrew (bridge)
Theoretically, if we do stuff like this enough we'll improve Evangeline's phonemic awareness.

Eva said phone.
I said fish.
Ana said foam.

Eva said (after thought and some prompting) firetruck.
I said frog.
Ana said fire.

Evangeline needed some help, so I suggested "something you shouldn't do... fff... f..." and I pretended like I was about to punch her, angling for "fight" of course.

Evangeline: Fuck?

This is where I died.

Evangeline: No, no - punch!

Ana: No, fuck starts with an f. I think she meant fight. Yeah, fight!

Me: *still dead*

Once I recovered, I reminded Evangeline that she's not supposed to say fuck, and so that therefore I would never try to direct her to that word. Ana asked why, so I explained that we don't say "fuck" because it's an impolite way of talking about having sex.

Ana: Wait - it is? I thought it was just something you said when you were angry! Like, today when you sent me for the paper towels, I said "I don't CARE about the fucking paper towels!"

Ana was also reminded she's not supposed to use that word, of course. *headdesk*

And yes, I explained that since sex deals with private parts, words used to describe it are often considered impolite because it shouldn't come up in public anyway. But it's also, Ana, a word you say when you're angry... mostly because you're not supposed to be saying it anyway. This explanation, surprisingly, seems to have made perfect sense to her.

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