conuly: (Default)
The one about Riddle, that is. Listening to her scream and flail in excitement is one of the most gratifying things ever. Evangeline reads pretty well, but she isn't up to that sort of level yet.
conuly: (Default)
Me: NASA? All caps?
Her: Yep!
Me: Well, when a word is in all capital letters like that, each letter stands for a word. We call this sort of abbreviation an -
Ana: Acronym, I know.
Me: Right, and when you look at the word acronym, you can take it apart and work out*.... Wait. Ana, have I told you about this before?
Ana: No, my teacher did.
Me: Your teacher.
Ana: And we're supposed to find out the meaning of NASA before tomorrow.
Me: Aha! You nearly got me there! Hah! No, I will not tell you the meaning of the word! Look it up yourself!
Ana: Darn. (Pages ahead to the N section in the dictionary while I head back to the kitchen)

A little while later I checked in on them again. "Ana, did you find the definition of NASA yet?"

Ana: No.
Me: What do you mean?!
Ana: It wasn't there!

I did not believe that for one second, and took the book up, fully expecting in a few seconds to point to the word and say "Here! Here it is! Right where you left it, and had it been a snake it would've bit you!" but, to my surprise and consternation it really wasn't there. I was so shocked I checked again three times that night. We looked it up online.

* You might believe I talk like this because I enjoy etymology, or because I want the nieces to learn something. While those things are mostly true, my motivation is a little more sensible. I want them to stop asking me things. It hasn't worked yet, but sooner or later it's bound to, and in the meantime for them to learn something is an acceptable consolation prize.
conuly: (Default)
Which means she can start the next one before the second term of school, and if we work over the summer she'll even be a little ahead next year!

To make things better, the last two sections are two she enjoys, time (she actually squealed) and geometry. The LAST section was comparing fractions with different denominators, and she was not so impressed. I'm finding, though, that often she struggles to get through a section, takes a break, and when it comes up in review she whizzes through it. For example, long division was super hard (as it should be), but when we came back to it after the summer break she had it all memorized, even though that didn't seem the case when we finished that section before.

She hasn't even touched on long division in her school curriculum (a teacher who saw her working on it last year commented that it's end of fourth/early fifth grade work, which doesn't sound right to me, but what do I know?), but they're doing stuff I know I didn't learn until middle school, like order of operations or the term variable. I don't mind them using variables - I mean, if they decide to write problems as x + 3 = 6 instead of 3 + 3 = ? or 6 - 3 = ? it probably doesn't do any harm and may do some good - but I wish they wouldn't use the term. They don't seem to have actually explained it, and Ana now tries throwing it around in all sorts of occasions where it doesn't make sense. It's the same as the whole "label the axes" debacle last year. They told her one was x and one was y, and it was the better part of two weeks to convince her that they never, ever, ever want you to label them literally "x" and "y" because that would be stupid.

And sometimes, in her homework at least, the textbook authors seem to have deliberately chosen the most verbose phrasing possible. "Show which numbers, out of the set 8, 9, 10, 11, make the following inequalities true." I'm certain there must have been a simpler way to phrase that. At least it didn't ask her to explain her answer, which is the new vogue. Ana has lost points on tests, math tests, for failing to adequately explain her answer. I'm looking at 2010's state math test now. Five lines provided to say explain how you figured out that Jose's math pattern was "add 2, subtract 5, add 2, subtract 5...." It really is so much silliness, and that's what they expect kids to do. I read an article about how this great school had low scores on the 8th grade tests despite actually working above grade level, and they specifically blamed this fetish for "explaining" as the reason. Some commenters refused to believe it, but I do. It's hard to explain these, especially when you understand them enough to just do the math without counting or drawing pictures! It really penalizes kids who work at a level where they don't have to think it all through, and it's tedious as well.

As for Evangeline, she's doing multi digit subtraction with borrowing, or regrouping as we say today. In school they're doing two digit plus one digit addition with carrying, and they've only just started, but she's pretty much mastered subtraction at home. Funny thing, her mistakes are completely different from Ana's! When Ana started with that level of subtraction, sometimes she'd forget and, if the top digit was smaller than the bottom, subtract the smaller digit from the larger instead of adding a ten. So if she had 78 - 69 she would get 11 as her answer. Eva has yet to do that. However, when SHE gets careless she starts borrowing to digits that don't need it! So if she has 531 - 140 she might absent mindedly take away from the 30, and then get stuck when her answer makes no sense. In math, she's better at catching silly answers than Ana is, though. (Ana is better at catching silly mistakes in reading.)
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)
Apparently she's been stealing the fun-tac to fidget with (we'd noticed the fun-tac, but she'd managed to imply her teacher let her have it!), and she filled the inside of her desk with glue (!!!), and she put her hands on her head during play rehearsal instead of keeping them by her side.

At the last one, I can only imagine the teacher is just getting frustrated, because seriously? I don't think that deserves a note home, or even PART of a note home. Certainly not when compared to the glue...!

The teacher said she's "still having trouble with reading", and I'm not going to bore you with my opinion on that again.

I also still don't get how she can spell words mostly fine when I dictate them to her at home, but then fail on the test. She's supposed to "write the words without looking" once a week, but the truth is that I never let her look at the words. It's probably different with other children, but if Eva's copying, she's not thinking. (And what's really funny, I'm starting to realize, is she's more likely after the test to misspell her predictable "word study words" than her unpredictable "sight words"... maybe because she's more familiar with words like "know" than like "peg"? Her misspellings there are more likely to be transposed letters than skipped ones.)

But what really, really bugs me is her math test. See, the very day after this note we got a math test home. She has a perfect score. In her "open response" portion (where they're supposed to explain their thinking, the bane of Ana's existence) I actually think she did that better than her older sister does!

On one she was supposed to pick which student had measured the page correctly with buttons, and she picked the ones where the buttons went in a straight line, touching, across the page. "I think Rodrigo put the buttons on crele (correctly) becus his buttns are steratocrus (I think this is supposed to be "straight across") and do not have the spasis."

Ana probably would have said "I picked him because his go in a line. And that's the right answer. So I wrote it down." (But you know, Ana can be awfully passive-aggressive, especially when there are explicit or implied rules about how many words or sentences to write.)

So why is it we get note after note about how Evangeline "can't read" (no comment, no comment, no damn comment) but none of them mentions, even in passing, how her math is doing? When I was an underachieving kid, nobody ever held a parent-teacher conference or dragged me into guidance without first starting with "Connie is a very bright student" and spending a few more sentences talking about the particular strengths they thought I had. And THEN they talked about how I didn't do my homework or my classwork or whatnot.

The end result of this is that I cringe a little when people start extolling my virtues, anticipating the worst, but that's beside the point. Isn't it a little basic to start off with a softening compliment before you get to "what needs work"? (Even on Supernanny, the conversations with the parents all seem to start that way!)

Anyway, in other news, yesterday I told the nieces the story of how Ana, on her 4th birthday, slid down a very very tall firepole at the playground. (I can touch the platform if I stand on my tiptoes.) And I told, in dramatic tones, how when I saw Ana up there I wanted to scream and yell, but I was scared that if I did she'd just FALL, so I kept my mouth shut and, afterwards, pretended I hadn't seen her. And I reminded them that I rarely say things like "Don't do that, it's dangerous" because I want them to listen when it's dangerous, but at that age so many people still followed their kids around on the playground and it really irked me because the kids played less safely when their parents did that.

Ana: And anyway, if you follow your kids around and say "No, no, no, that's not safe", when do your kids get to have an adventure?
Eva: Yeah! And when do they learn anything? Like my classmate, his parents treat him like a baby! And they come to EVERY event at school and even tell him how to spell words!

(Maybe this is why the other kids spell better than Eva does! "Sound it out for your own self" has been the rule here since Ana was in kindergarten, followed closely by "This word is wrong. Go look it up" now that she's older! Seriously, Evangeline sounded like she was revealing that they spoon-feed him purees or wipe his butt for him, not that they help him with his homework!)
conuly: (Default)
Parent teacher night was, like, a month ago, but it took me this long to post about it! (Jenn did it, being their mom, so really, I should make her post. Whatever.)

Evangeline's teacher said she gets distracted easily in class, and of course she needs to work on her reading. As it happens, Evangeline's been working on her reading, and now can pretty much retell any story she likes with aplomb, although she still has a little trouble using pronouns without first using the noun that tells us who the pronoun is. Also, she hates and loathes having to retell stories. For any reason. Her retellings are peppered with "Can I just skip ahead?" I'm not entirely sure this is the goal, and I'd still love to see how it all goes in class, which is kinda where it counts.

Ana's teacher said she basically could ace the 3rd grade reading test right now, and she's doing fine in math although she needs some help on word problems. We've been working on problems, and I've identified the problems:

1. She's been taught to look for words that indicate what sort of problem it is. However, either she's been taught badly or she didn't understand, because this trips her up when, say, she sees the word "more" and assumes addition but actually the question is "how much more is the doll than the book?" I'm working on retraining her to look for the sense of the question first instead of going for shortcuts. This is something that's so obvious to me, I'm not sure how to help her out.

2. In multi-step problems, even when she identifies all the steps in advance (because she's expected to explain her thinking afterwards, I'm having her do so before even starting the problem) she often gets confused or bored halfway through and either leaves the problem unfinished or melds all the steps into one.

3. When she's done with a problem, she doesn't check her work. At all. She doesn't even do a glance back to see if her answer makes sense. Cookies that cost $100? Children who are 10 inches tall? It says A is the tallest, but when I did the math I got an answer that made him the shortest? Whatever, I did the math, right? Wrong.

In the extra math we're doing at home (which, ha, comes with its own book of word problems to work from!) she has trouble doing mental math. We get her old math textbook every year in June, and I don't think they emphasize or even teach mental math at all, so this isn't a surprise. But it's something we're working on.

However, there are plusses. Remember how Evangeline was working through her book much faster than Ana was working through hers? Well, now they're about even. Why? Not because Evangeline slowed down, but because we hit the section on money in Ana's book about two weeks after they covered money in her class. Which means I've just gone ahead and skipped most of the section, only doing the word problems and mental math parts of it :) And now Ana's class is doing time to the minute, but this book is doing time to the five minutes, so we'll skip most of that as well. Woo-hoo! (Also, Ana finally seems to have her basic addition facts memorized. She hasn't mentioned it, but it goes much faster now that she's not counting.)

Comparing Evangeline's school math to her afterschool math, in school they're doing single-digit addition... and Evangeline is working on double digit subtraction at home. But I don't mind this at all, it's good for her to get more review and grounding in this.

In other news, I want to get them doing some history at home soon to inoculate them against the history that's taught in schools. (I went to these schools. Truly, the history classes are teh suck.) I've found a few online curricula that seem to focus largely on primary documents, but they're all American history, nothing for world history at all. Seriously, do I have to make this all up myself? I'm too lazy for that.
conuly: (childish)
Now that Evangeline is reading harder books, I'm noticing something interesting, and I don't know what to make of it.

Evangeline rarely reverses letters in a word. Sometimes she'll write "tow" for "two" or "on/no" for "no/on", and she does have trouble with "saw/was", but in general, what she sees is what she reads, and if she gets it wrong she at least tends to get the first sounds right (unless she turns to guessing, and then she goes on meaning, making it easy to tell she guessed!)

Edit: That is, she rarely reverses when reading. She does sometimes, as I noted below and above, do it when spelling... but it's hard to tell sometimes what exactly is going on.

However, I'm noticing that she often switches the order of words. So if the sentence reads "Am I going outside?" she will very often automatically switch it to say "I am going outside", possibly because statements are more common than questions. And if you point it out, she'll repeat the error until you literally break up the sentence for her.

She also has trouble reading words out of context. This is so bad that her teacher thinks she's not nearly as good a reader as she is, probably, I realize, because she was assessed by having her read words off a chart, and Evangeline doesn't really do that. I mean, she can, but it doesn't seem easy for her. She doesn't need pictures, but she needs the words to be in sentences to read them.

Now, here's what I know. I know dyslexia runs in her dad's family. I know that learning disabilities can be very well hidden by effective coping strategies - especially by bright children. And I know Eva sometimes, in writing, reverses the order of letters (carefully sounding out "you" but writing "uoy", probably because she started off saying the word and then writing the letter that is called yoo!) and their shapes (normal at this age to write your 5s backwards or to confuse your bs and ds). But I've never yet in my life heard of dyslexics, or anybody, switching the order of words in a sentence! Reversing the order of letters or jumbling up the sounds, I've heard of that. But shifting around words in a sentence to make a new sentence, and not even realizing it? That's new to me.

Am I jumping the gun here and worrying about nothing? Or am I on the right track here?
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.
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: (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: (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: (brain)
The answer seems to be no... and also, that she's brilliant.

I read the results over Jenn's shoulders, and they carefully broke down the various parts of the testing and what the results were. One area she did well in, apparently (well, aside from "all of them, because the girl is smarter than we realized"), was figuring out what an object was from three clues.

To this I say "Huh. That's just 'I'm thinking of a word'! That's not genius, that's just practice." This is the game we play when waiting for the bus. We pick a word and give clues, and the first person to guess gets the next turn. I'm guessing the version they gave wasn't nearly so hard as the version we give. After all, their goal isn't to trounce their opponents.

For that matter, Evangeline's pretty damn good at winning from the "non-guessing" standpoint as well. The other day she started off "I'm thinking of a word, and it starts with the letter B" and the next clue was "You use it to carry things" followed by "It comes in different sizes".

It wasn't bag. Or basket. Or bucket, or bookbag, or bundle. Give up? We gave up, there's no shame in that, no shame at all in conceding to a five year old. You know what she was thinking of that starts with a b, is used to carry things, and comes in different sizes?

Click and be amazed )

Yeah, I don't think they make the clues on IQ tests nearly as hard as Evangeline does out of her own mind. (Well, we all do. We want to win.)

The people writing all up about Evangeline also said she's a sweet, easygoing child with good manners who likes puzzles and identifying different types of vehicles. I already knew this, but now it's, like, official. Coincidentally, Michael's had a sale on puzzles today! Not kid puzzles, but she can do big ones with help.
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: Quote: "You only wish you were as cool as I am" (cool)
I have a few, actually, but it'll have to wait until tomorrow when I can recall who said what, exactly.

This is a boastful post.

It really is. You've been warned! )

Two things

Apr. 21st, 2010 01:51 pm
conuly: Picture taken on the SI Ferry - "the soul of a journey is liberty" (boat)
First off, the other day I asked Ana to write various cursive letters. All lowercase - frankly, I'm not worried about capitals. In a pinch, she can really use the print capitals, I swear, nobody will care. But we'll work on 'em next year, anyway.

I wanted to see which ones she knows without seeing them. She was frustrated at the results, but I was pretty happy - she knows 12 without even trying, and there's eight that just need a little work (that is, she knows what they look like, but she can't do it very neatly or she forgets HOW to form them). And two of the other group are z and x, and that's another set of "Yeah, I don't really care"!

Ana's cursive )

So, lately they've been doing two active things. One, they've been "ice skating" (and no, whatever they say, I am *not* buying them ice skates!), and two they've been "playing soccer".

Ice skating involves sliding on the floor in socks, and occasionally jumping, spinning, and falling on your butt. I assume the falling is optional :)

Soccer involves kicking the ball back in forth in the back alley while shouting "I'm open!", and if they decide they want to make a goal they confer and then one of them kicks the ball at the nearest fence while the other one stays a discreet distance behind and then alternates between throwing up her arms in defeat and applauding.

This is, naturally, the cutest thing EVAH.
conuly: Picture taken on the SI Ferry - "the soul of a journey is liberty" (boat)
On a particularly breezy day when I happened to not have my own jacket on:

Evangeline: It's a good t'ing I have my coat. Otherwise I'd be out here fweezing to death!

Not long after that I happened to see a penny on the ground and bent to pick it up.

Evangeline: 0.0
Me: : )
Evangeline: CONNIE! That's not your penny!
Me: It is now. After all, see a penny, pick it up, all day long you'll have good luck, right?
Evangeline: No!
Ana: Yeah, that's how it goes.
Evangeline: *sighs* No, no, no. It's... you can't... pennies can't give you good luck. That's silly. Only if you buy something with a penny.
conuly: Picture taken on the SI Ferry - "the soul of a journey is liberty" (boat)
The other day I was putting Evangeline down for her nap. She's started taking one again as she's growing and she URGENTLY NEEDS ONE every day. She doesn't always like it (the first few times I managed to trick her into sleep, but she's caught on), but she goes down anyway.

And as I'm snuggling her prior to the nap itself I call her "ducky".

Read more... )

Edit: She just came down. I told her I was typing about how "you're cute as a bug". "Connie. Bugs aren't cute."

So, now, this is awesome. But, some backstory.

Waaaaay back a few weeks ago at Parent Teacher Night, Ana's teacher revealed that she's below par when it comes to writing. This is because she won't write, not necessarily because she can't at all. And what came of this that concerns me is that she's now doing her journal first thing, and writing five sentences instead of three (and longer ones too if I can make her).

I'm a little annoyed that the teacher never told us that the expectation for the daily journal had changed. And I'm more than a little annoyed that we haven't been able to convince her to cave on the "write about school" concept. Ana doesn't want to write about school. And I agree - it's boring day after day! But she still has to, you know, do it.

So every day we've been doing her journal first thing instead of putting it off (which sometimes resulted in no journal getting done - it's such a fight!) and I've been sitting down with her and writing out an outline (with her input) before she even starts to write. And this has been helping. There's less fighting (although there's still a lot of "my stomach hurts, I need to pee, I need to eat, I need to read, I need to sharpen my pencil, find my pencil, eat my pencil...." every day).

Well, she has to write in her journal during the break too, of course. Thursday she had to write in her journal (five sentences) and also two or three sentences about the famous woman of her choice. (She picked Wilma Randolph.)

I'd pranked them on April Fool's Day, you know. Nothing major - I taped up their door with paper and stuck balloons behind it so they fell out when they opened the door, and I let them have cereal but I dyed the milk purple in the carton. So she wrote about that.

And managed eight sentences without whining, fussing, fighting, or even erasing very often! She was surprised! She'd had no idea she'd written that much!

And me, I was just that proud :)

Well, we're off to dye eggs.

Tell me - when I dyed the frosting for the cupcakes for the bake sale, and when I dyed the milk, I mixed red and blue food dye. That should make purple, but it made a kinda grayish purple. Not too appetizing. How can you mix up a real, purply purple with food dye? Is it possible? Do you have to use better dyes?
conuly: Picture taken on the SI Ferry - "the soul of a journey is liberty" (boat)
The other day I was putting Evangeline down for her nap. She's started taking one again as she's growing and she URGENTLY NEEDS ONE every day. She doesn't always like it (the first few times I managed to trick her into sleep, but she's caught on), but she goes down anyway.

And as I'm snuggling her prior to the nap itself I call her "ducky".

Read more... )

Edit: She just came down. I told her I was typing about how "you're cute as a bug". "Connie. Bugs aren't cute."

So, now, this is awesome. But, some backstory.

Waaaaay back a few weeks ago at Parent Teacher Night, Ana's teacher revealed that she's below par when it comes to writing. This is because she won't write, not necessarily because she can't at all. And what came of this that concerns me is that she's now doing her journal first thing, and writing five sentences instead of three (and longer ones too if I can make her).

I'm a little annoyed that the teacher never told us that the expectation for the daily journal had changed. And I'm more than a little annoyed that we haven't been able to convince her to cave on the "write about school" concept. Ana doesn't want to write about school. And I agree - it's boring day after day! But she still has to, you know, do it.

So every day we've been doing her journal first thing instead of putting it off (which sometimes resulted in no journal getting done - it's such a fight!) and I've been sitting down with her and writing out an outline (with her input) before she even starts to write. And this has been helping. There's less fighting (although there's still a lot of "my stomach hurts, I need to pee, I need to eat, I need to read, I need to sharpen my pencil, find my pencil, eat my pencil...." every day).

Well, she has to write in her journal during the break too, of course. Thursday she had to write in her journal (five sentences) and also two or three sentences about the famous woman of her choice. (She picked Wilma Randolph.)

I'd pranked them on April Fool's Day, you know. Nothing major - I taped up their door with paper and stuck balloons behind it so they fell out when they opened the door, and I let them have cereal but I dyed the milk purple in the carton. So she wrote about that.

And managed eight sentences without whining, fussing, fighting, or even erasing very often! She was surprised! She'd had no idea she'd written that much!

And me, I was just that proud :)

Well, we're off to dye eggs.

Tell me - when I dyed the frosting for the cupcakes for the bake sale, and when I dyed the milk, I mixed red and blue food dye. That should make purple, but it made a kinda grayish purple. Not too appetizing. How can you mix up a real, purply purple with food dye? Is it possible? Do you have to use better dyes?
conuly: Picture taken on the SI Ferry - "the soul of a journey is liberty" (boat)
They've picked the colors, everything is getting repainted, it's going to rock.

Now, Evangeline wants mermaids and ballerinas on the walls (pre-k and the rigid gender-typing culture of so many four-year-olds has hit her hard, it's all "boy games" this and "girls like" that). Ana, of course, wants a moose.

So I had a brilliant idea.

A ballerina mer-moose!

Tell me that's not just awesome. It could even sparkle! (No, seriously, I'm thinking glittery pink antlers and shiny purple eyes.)

My sister thinks I'm crazy. I know I'm not. I'm just a visionary. A VISIONARY, DO YOU HEAR ME???

Yeppers, this is a great idea. Just think about it.
conuly: Picture taken on the SI Ferry - "the soul of a journey is liberty" (boat)
On Sunday, I ended up watching the nieces during the whole day. At one point Evangeline, out of nowhere, said "When I grow up, I think I want to marry you, Connie."

Me: That's sweet, but you know, you can't marry me.
Evangeline: Why not? Girls can marry other girls. (You could *hear* the unspoken "DUH!" here.)
Me: That's true (sorta). But you can't marry your aunt, or your niece.
Evangeline: But girls can -
Me: Yes! That's right! But you still can't marry your family. Marrying your aunt would be icky*, like marrying your sister or your mother.
Evangeline: Oh. Okay.

*"It's icky" is, of course, widely considered a perfectly valid reason for not wanting two people to get married. Certainly it's the reason used throughout history, and still today. And anyway, incest *is* icky. Ew.

This one is secondhand:

Ana and my mother were talking about I don't know what, and Ana, in a sort of "I'm not stupid, I know things!" way said "I even know what one hundred plus two hundred is. It's THREE hundred." (She's inordinately thrilled at the realization that if ONE plus TWO is THREE, then ONE hundred plus TWO hundred is THREE hundred and she does not need to count on her fingers to work this out... which is good, because she has nowhere near three hundred fingers.)

And my mother asked "Yes, it is, do you know what you can buy with three hundred dollars?"

Ana: A house?
Mommy: Well, that's more like three hundred thousand dollars.
Ana: *grumpy*
Evangeline: I know what you can buy with three hundred dollars! You can buy three hundred... candy bars!
conuly: image of a rubber ducky - "Somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you" (ducky predicate)
So by the time she's done with her nap in the evening, her dad is almost home, you know?

Still, I do have one cute Eva-cdote from Tuesday.

The nieces wanted to ride on their hobby-horses (horse heads on sticks?) to go back to the school to pick up Ana's bag. Ana's is white. Evangeline's is brown, with a white spot on the forehead.

Evangeline: Connie, you know what? I'm gonna call my horse Milky. *glances down*
Me: Milky?
Evangeline: No, BROWNIE. I'm gonna call him Brownie.
Me: Because he's b-
Evangeline: Do you know why?
Me: Because he-
Evangeline: Because he's brown. Except for his forehead. That's white. He's brown and white. I'm gonna call him "Brownie Milky".
Me: Like chocolate milk?
Evangeline: YEAH! Brownie Milky. Brownie Milky.
conuly: image of a rubber ducky - "Somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you" (ducky predicate)
See, Ana and Evangeline have an exercise ball that they've recently rediscovered. And so they've been bouncing up and down the hall on it.

I was cooking, and I saw Evangeline go up and down the hall on the ball. Then I saw Ana... and heard Evangeline yelling:

Eva: Ana! I was using that!
Ana: No, you were done with it!
Eva: No I wasn't! I just put it down for a minute!
Eva: I'll tell Connie!
Ana: No! I'll tell Connie, you're just throwing a FIT to get me in TROUBLE.
Eva: AAAAAAAH! I'll tell Connie YOU'RE the one who's lying, to get ME in trouble!
Me: Okay, now you're both in trouble.

And I had to confiscate the exercise ball entirely, thus uniting them again against me. *sigh* But as I told them, anything that would cause them to act in such an unsisterly way (and believe me, I don't care who was about to lie to me, the other one would have been almost as bad - tattling for no reason but to get her way and get her sister in trouble! How unkind!) is not worth having around. Period.

On the plus side, neither of them actually tattled to me. They just threatened to. We're making progress! Sorta.
conuly: Quote from Veronica Mars - "Sometimes I'm even persnickety-ER" (persnickety)
(Well, I think she's interesting anyway, but she's *my* grandmother, so....)

Yesterday, for one reason or another, she neglected to make her bed. And as she got up to head into bed at midnight, she noticed this. "Oh, how could I forget to make my bed? Look at that, and I always like to see a nicely made bed. Why don't you go on the other side and help me out?"

Now, I'm familiar with the argument "Why bother making it if you're just going to mess it up again?", and would normally never use that argument on my beloved grandmother, but all the same I gotta say that I never thought I'd see somebody make their bed mere *seconds* before pulling down the covers and climbing in!

Operation: Convince Bonne-Maman to Take the Cat was unsuccessful. Apparently HER mother used to love cats to the extent that if the cat was in a chair, and there were no other free chairs, you couldn't move the cat to sit down. (Her mother also used to hate the idea of killing and eating her own rabbits, so she'd sell the rabbits she'd raised and then use that money to buy somebody *else's* rabbits to kill and eat. The things I never knew...!) So Bonne-Maman isn't very fond of animals and doesn't want a cat, not even the cutest itty bitty kitty you ever met.

Which means I'm still trying to give him away! Now, he's such a sweetheart I'd be glad to keep this cat, which is why it is imperative that I give him away before I cave and end up keeping him anyway. HELP ME OUT, GUYS!
conuly: image of a rubber ducky - "Somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you" (ducky predicate)
So, now, my mother actively dislikes holidays. Oh, she won't ever admit to it, but you can tell because she becomes a raging bitch as the holiday approaches. Used to really upset me until I figured it out, and Jenn still doesn't always seem to get it, she'll argue with my mother about it. (The bookcases, this year. The damn bookcases. It would have been better to get them and put them up without telling my mother, but now that we've told her, does Jennifer *have* to bring it up on Christmas Eve? I spent two hours making sure my mother stayed calm so she didn't do anything rash like start trying to lug boxes of books up and throw them into the street or burn them or whatever because "she doesn't want bookcases". She's gonna have to suck it up and deal, we NEED bookcases, but surely we could wait to move on this until after Little Christmas, or at least New Year!) Mother's Day, Christmas Day, Arbor Day - she doesn't care, she doesn't like it. They make her cranky and irritable and bitchy, and when she's in a bad mood she's not happy until we're ALL in a bad mood, so that's no fun.

So Christmas Eve I spent wrapping up the presents my mother had bought ("Don't bother! Throw them out! I'm not DOING Christmas, I know I'm not welcome, I'll just go to Connecticut!") for her, and making sure we saved enough food from dinner for her (I told Jenn she'd be back halfway through dinner after she stormed out, just so she could stand around and complain that we didn't save enough and hadn't set a place for her, and sure enough that's exactly what she did, while - in a neat trick! - also whining that she wasn't really hungry and she might as well go starve) and convincing her that throwing out books was a VERY bad idea because there was certainly not going to be any pickup on Christmas Day, even if Thursday is garbage night.


And of course, on Christmas itself, it was "Gosh, I can't give gifts, they're not wrapped". Uh, no, Mommy, I did that for you. Remember, back when you were bitching and moaning that you weren't gonna do Christmas? Aren't you glad I ignored you?
conuly: Quote from Veronica Mars - "Sometimes I'm even persnickety-ER" (persnickety)
Here's one thing you have to understand about my family: My mother? Hates holidays. And my sister, whatever she says, tends to be somewhat apathetic about them. I myself love holidays, but it's hard to do much when I'm the only one who really wants to. Every year I say that if I didn't push the whole family to put up decorations and do things, nothing would ever get done, and every year they apathetically argue with me.

So listen.

This year, around Thanksgiving, I mentioned that I felt we really should put up a tree. You know, for the girls. And Jenn was all "Oh, no, it's a lot of work, and where would we put it, and we have a lot of other stuff to do", so I said fine. First week of December, around my sister's birthday, I said that I really wanted a tree, and maybe some decorations. "Oh, you know, we don't really have the money and we have a lot of work to do preparing for Bonne-Maman and it's not that big a deal". Fine. Second week of December, I pointed out that if we were going to decorate at all we have to move on this NOW. "Oh, you know, it's expensive, and who's going to put it up, and it's a lot of work, and it's really not that big a deal". Sure, whatever. Week before Christmas, I pointed out that we'd yet to do any sort of acknowledgement of the holiday, and since it appeared we had just enough money to get the girls some real presents instead of just boots and undershirts it'd be nice to put something up. (We had legitimately worried we wouldn't be able to swing gifts this year, and when we found out we could we bought for the kids first, all of us, so I actually ended up - no joke! - with nothing wrapped for ME for this holiday. But I'll get to that.) "Oh, you know, it doesn't really matter, and where would we put it, and we've been working hard for Bonne-Maman and all...." Now, I knew better, but I dropped it.

The day before Christmas, Jenn comes to me in a panic and goes "We didn't put up a tree! We have to put up a tree! Why don't we have a tree????" *headdesk*

And now, in the future, when my sister or my mother complains that I nag them to put up decorations, I'll point to this year. If I don't make them do it, it doesn't get done.

My father used to get very into the holidays as well, I guess I take after him. Every holiday is my FAVORITE if it's the one coming up :) Not the year after he died (when we all went through the motions), but the one after that, I put up the tree and decorated by myself. At the age of 11. Saddest thing ever and the tree stayed up until June. But it's not that my family didn't do it because of Daddy being dead, they just aren't as into it as I am, even then.
conuly: Quote from Veronica Mars - "Sometimes I'm even persnickety-ER" (persnickety)
And also to practice identifying triangles and words that start with the letter S, of course. She was very excited to tell me it's a "Dooiss" star, and I corrected her with the phrase "Star of David" - yes, Ana, David like David in your class, but not exactly.

It's interesting how these things stick with you. She swung her star a bit, Evangeline, and said "Hanukkah, Hanukkah", so I pulled her on my lap on the rocking chair and sang "Oh Hanukkah" with her, which we sang *every* year during winter when I was in Brooklyn. (We had more Jewish students in my class than I think either Ana or Evangeline does now, so it made more sense, but whatever.) And when we moved to Staten Island, the schools here didn't do that, they had other songs they did. So it's been a good 16, 17 years since I've sung or heard this song - but I was still word perfect.


Of course, when Evangeline was a baby I used to entertain myself by going "Oh, baby, baby, baby, I made her out of clay, and when I'm good and ready, with baby I shall play", which... didn't make sense even then, but it's a catchy melody to be sure. When I was a kid, they'd hand out these little plastic dreidles for us at the Holiday Party (or around Hanukkah if it was very early in the month, and then our party would be at the end of the month), and those chocolate coins, gelt. And now they sell those chocolate coins with Santa on them, presumably for Christmas, which just strikes me as either the ultimate in cross-cultural sharing or WRONG WRONG WRONG VERY WRONG. Not sure which.
conuly: image of Elisa Mazda (Gargoyles) - "Watcher of the City" (watcher of the city)
My family - all of us, now that my grandmother is here as well - all lives in one house. Yes, it's technically a two-family house (with two additional apartments), but the fact is that people are constantly going from one apartment to another without much fuss about it. The girls walk through my apartment when they get home, and they pop by and bug me if they get scared in the middle of the night or if they wake up too early. I cooked in Jennifer's apartment to make dinner tonight, and then I carried it down three flights of stairs so all of us could eat together with my grandmother*. We bring things upstairs and leave them there, or we bring them down here and leave them here, or we bring them back and forth. Sometimes I've been called upon to watch my nieces for a few minutes so their parents could pop out and do a few things, and sometimes I put them to bed. When Ana was sick last week, and her mother was as well, Ana and Evangeline didn't go to bed like they were supposed to so, after seeing that Jenn was asleep I just put them back to bed myself complete with cough syrup, swinging the hammocks, and singing a few new songs. In the past I've had to decide if a kiddo is sick enough to go to the doctor or, conversely, well enough to go to school. I've made lunches for them and breakfasts. I slog through homework with them so their parents don't have to do it, I've taught Ana cursive*, and I've done it for shockingly little pay.

And we all live in the same house. My mother lives here, and my grandmother. My nieces live with their extended family in an inter-generational home. This is a good way to live. And I know it might seem strange to people who are used to a more divided arrangement of people, but it's a valid lifestyle choice.

So when I say things like "Well, we don't have a Christmas tree", I don't mean that I don't have a Christmas tree and my sister does, I mean that in the hubbub of recent weeks this family has not decorated. (And, in truth, I'm usually the person who pushes to decorate.) Not "part of my family", because you can't divide us up when we all live in the same house - none of the family! I don't see my nieces occasionally, I see them daily, because we all live together. And no, I'm not their mom, and no, I don't wish to be their mom, but I'm not going to pretend that we're not an important part of each other's lives, because we *are*. I'm a member of their family - not some adjunct they see once in a while who happens to have a blood connection to them.

Thank you.

*I spent the day "spending time" with Bonne-Maman. Well, you know, I can only take so much socialization in one day so mostly I read while she listened to the radio, but I figure - hey, this is the woman who married Bon-Papa, she's got to be used to this sort of thing by now! And indeed, when my grandfather died, that's how it was - he rested in his bed and read or watched TV while my mother and grandmother chatted with each other and I read a book. I'm certain he was happy with this arrangement, because that's how he was.

**Ana's cursive is progressing very nicely. It's legible, she can remember how to form some letters without checking the example, and if she makes a mistake she's able to self-correct.
conuly: image of a rubber ducky - "Somewhere, somehow, a duck is watching you" (ducky predicate)
We're the most lucky people in existence. No terrible twos, and her therrible threes consisted of occasionally getting out of naptime before I came to fetch her, and then hopping back into her hammock with a doll. Seriously. I'm even looking forward to four! (Sorta. I don't want her to grow up!)

The other day, I asked her to get her PJs from off the box holding the bookcase in the hallway. And she told me she couldn't and she told me she couldn't, and finally she went up to it to DEMONSTRATE that she couldn't. "SEE?" she said, raising her arm above her head, "I can't... oh! I can reach! I didn't know I could reach up here!"
conuly: Picture taken on the SI Ferry - "the soul of a journey is liberty" (boat)
Swing becomes fing. Sweep becomes feep. Switzerland becomes Fitzeryan.

Yesterday, she asked me if I could "s'ing" her. After I confirmed that she meant swing I asked, in dismay, if she could say sweep, could say swallow, could say Switzerland. "S'eep, s'a-yo, S'itzeryan."

I suppose this is a step forward, but I didn't want her to step forward! I wanted her to keep being the cute little kid who cutely asked me to fing her!

I've lately heard her saying "lollipop" instead of "yayipop" and "byoo" or "blue" instead of "b'ue", and - tragedy of tragedies! - "beyieve" instead of "abeev".

She clearly hasn't read and understood the memo: SHE IS NOT ALLOWED TO GET ANY OLDER. I tell her that, every day, but she laughs! She seems to think - and has even said as much! - that just because she "can't help it" that's an excuse for growing up! Not on my watch.
conuly: Picture taken on the SI Ferry - "the soul of a journey is liberty" (boat)
IF they come downstairs and Nanen is in bed sleeping, then they have to go bug their parents.

Otherwise, if Nanen is awake or if she's gone, they can wake me up.

This rule has worked splendidly. A few weeks ago, I woke up before they did (they really overslept) and I went upstairs to check on them. As I passed their room, I noticed through the crack in the door that Evangeline's hammock was wiggling, so I stood very quietly to watch.

The hammock wiggled, and Evangeline half fell, half climbed out. Then she immediately plodded over to her sister's hammock. *pokepokepoke* "Ana? Ana? Are you awake? Ana?" *pokepokepoke*

Read more... )
conuly: (Default)
When we were in California I learned that she's pretty flexible. She liked to hop through the pool. She's not great at hopping, so she held her other leg up to keep from putting it down by accident. Held it up above her head. You know that thing ballet dancers do to show off, where they tuck their feet behind their ears? They don't hop at the same time.

So today she took Sleeping Doll (a Dora whose eyes open and close) and swaddled her up in Super Duck. A pretty good swaddle, too! She's seen babies wrapped up and decided that it's just the done thing.

When I told her to fetch her shoes she put Sleeping Doll down and wandered off, saying to herself "I left my baby over there, over there, over there. I left her over there to go and... and find my shoes. I lost my baby, I lost my baby, I lost my baby, I found my shoes and I lost my baby."

She wasn't singing it, so it took me a minute to recognize what she was doing. It's this song. My goodness it's a depressing song (and I recognize that the nonsense lyrics at the end are actually misspelled Gaelic, thanks). I can't imagine what I was thinking when I taught it to her. (Actually, I really do sing it as a lullaby. Not sure if that's better or worse than "Rock-a-bye Baby", come to think.)
conuly: Picture taken on the SI Ferry - "the soul of a journey is liberty" (boat)
I actually had them in my head, most of them, I just... didn't feel up to typing anything.

Did I mention my uncle's collection of knives he carefully hides around his bed like teddy bears? EVERY YEAR we have to go take them out of the room when we visit because, y'know, the kids sleep there. The first year (when Ana was, like, 2 and could REALLY not be trusted) he didn't even tell us! Boy, was that a shock.

What gets me is the fact that his knives? Outnumber his hands. He's got seven or eight knives for two hands - four if is girlfriend is there. (He should also move his, uh, supplies out of the room. I assume they have sex, but I don't want to think about it! And for that matter, when you go online to find instructions to a place that makes your "wildest fantasies come true", it's only polite to close the window when you're done printing. I take one glance - ew.) After four knives, therefore, it follows that he's basically just giving knives to the intruder, especially as they aren't exactly well-hidden.

Who *does* that? It's not exactly the brightest move, is it?
conuly: (Default)
There's a few more I want 'dul to scan in, I'll ask him specifically later.

Now, these pictures are from disposable cameras that were over a year old and that had spent some time in the sun. (Like, three days in a hot car in California!) The quality of the pictures is therefore not so hot.

However, if you pretend I did this on purpose they're actually kinda cool and a bit artsy. So let's go with that, shall we?

Read more... )

We have this totally awesome picture of the whole family that Jenn needs to crop so I can post it.


Jul. 9th, 2009 10:39 am
conuly: Picture taken on the SI Ferry - "the soul of a journey is liberty" (boat)
Several from Ana's graduation )

Immediately after the graduation )

Ana on her actual last day of school. It was a half day, so nobody bothered with uniforms. )

Now, we have a video of a small part of Ana's graduation, but Jenn needs to upload it to YouTube for me. Because she's the one who has it.
conuly: (ducky)
Mines instead of mine, and double negatives. I know, I know, dialectical variation and all that, but it still grates to hear! And of course two days after Ana picked them up, Evangeline stole them directly from her. (It's really remarkable how much Evangeline idolizes her big sister.)

Evangeline (today, while "putting on a show"): Connie, ask me if I want a cookie.
Me (thinking that she didn't say please): *silence*
Evangeline: Connie, you didn't say nothing!
Me: On the contrary, I most certainly did say nothing.
Evangeline: Bu- SAY SOMETHING! Please?

You can't trip up these girls about anything, you know :)


Evangeline has a quirk with certain past tenses. I'm trying to work out how this quirk exactly works - every time I notice it I think I should write it down, and then by the time I get where I can and I also remember to do so, I've forgotten the exact situation!

With words like had and got, she tends to go "hadded" and "gotted". This is new. I remember hearing the words, but I seem to remember that there was something interesting about it, not just a case of her trying to both use what she knows is the correct form and ALSO use what she knows is the right way to past-tense a verb. But maybe I'm misremembering. When I see them again (they're up with their grandmother for the week) I'll pay closer attention.


Today, the girls were outside making HUMONGOUS bubbles and the baby next door, Madison, came over to pop them. Madison was having a BLAST toddling around after the "big" girls and grinning like... something... that... grins a lot. And the girls were having fun with her. Evangeline came running up to tell me she came over (because a Connie hath not eyes to see, apparently), and then ran back down so she could "be nice to her".

And I'm looking at this kid, who is only as much younger than Evangeline as Evangeline is than Ana, and they DWARFED her. She looked so TINY, and they both looked so BIG, my little nieces.

But you know what struck me? In comparison to Madison, the two of them looked just about the same height. Evangeline, when I bother to look, I can see that she's barely half a head shorter than her sister, and she's more filled out as well - Ana is a skinny Minnie, really. And the two of them are only one size apart as far as shoes go. The shoes they got recently are the same make, and they've both made mistakes picking which shoes to wear until Ana got the idea to always check the tag first.

In a few years, I'll be surprised if Evangeline isn't the same height as or even taller than her sister. Don't know how Ana will take that....
conuly: (Default)
I've read some complaints online about the "trend" of "Americans" (it always seems to be Brits making this complaint, and some cranky old people with no kids or grandkids) making a "big deal" out of things that "aren't a big deal" and how "graduating from kindergarten doesn't count" and it's stupid.

Let me make this clear, to anybody confused by the phenomenon. Kindergarten graduations (this one was technically referred to as a "stepping up" ceremony) do commemorate something important - your kid is entering Real School for the very first time. However, that's not why we have them. We have them because, damnit, this is just about their last cute year, and there's nothing more adorable than dressing little kiddies up in grown-up outfits, in this case gowns and mortarboards!

It's not much different than taking pictures of bunnies with pancakes on their heads, except that you get to pretend it's srs bzness when we all know it's not. They came in, they sang three different songs (the last one had a whole dance routine and was just beyond awesome), they pretended their diplomas were telescopes, and then we ate cookies and juice and cadged photo ops off of everybody.

Though I do think making us sit an hour and a half so they could fit in two different renditions of Pomp and Circumstance was a bit much.
conuly: (Default)
The other day she was very cranky, so I gave her her nap late - like, at 4:50 PM! Her sister was very upset that I woke her up at 6. "She hasn't napped long enough! She'll be cranky!" and was very solicitous of her for the rest of the evening - cleaning up for her, that sort of thing, and glaring reproachfully at me if I said anything even remotely stern or strict to Evangeline. "Connie, you know she's just cranky because she hasn't had enough of a nap. You shouldn't've woken her!" Well, an hour long nap isn't very long, but it was that or let her be up all night, Ana...!

Evangeline is so cute lately. She talks about her "invibbible" friend, and about how there are no e-yephants/wermaids/p'incesses/d'agons in "this yand". Where does she even pick that up, in this land?
conuly: (ducky)
I feel this is massively unfair, especially to such young children. Why? Because one kid in her class, N, brought in 700 boxtops in the past few months. He has a big family, clearly, but the point is that nobody else could possibly compete with that. If they're going to have a competition with a reward for this, they ought to discount his contribution, or put an individual cap. It's like running a race where your opponent is on steroids.

Of course, 700 boxtops is also shocking because, dude, the only way we were able to bring in our... *thinks a bit* five is because we happened to have some ziploc and hefty bags in the house. We don't eat any of that stuff, and we don't even use disposable menstrual stuff anymore! Oh, wait, for Ana's class birthday party I brought in some disposable plates. So, uh, six boxtops. A whole 60 cents. Yay!

But anyway, not to dis other people's diets, but 700 of these foods in a year? Wow. That's a bit shocking. (Maybe they make a lot of garbage. Maybe he has a lot of sisters - that'd use up Kotex AND Hefty bags every month.)

Well, at any rate, I ask again what I asked way back in the beginning of the year. If you happen to buy this stuff already, and don't have any use for the little clip-off boxtops, I'd be glad to get them for Ana's school. Just save them up and send them to me in one big bunch. Or if you're, like, buying from one of these places online already, that sort of thing.
conuly: Picture taken on the SI Ferry - "the soul of a journey is liberty" (boat)
I let her because, woo-hoo, I could nap until 9:30!

I forgot that this would mean she wouldn't take a nap later in the day. Well, shoot.


She left her dolls on a porch for a minute, then panicked.

Evangeline: CONNIE! I have to get them, they'll be COLD and CRY.
Me: Um, you know they're just dolls, right?
Evangeline: They're babies!

She saw a bug today.

Evangeline: I'm scared of bugs, and Baby Jill is too!
Me: No she isn't, you know, she's a doll.
Evangeline: Well, she's still scared!

One of her dolls has closing eyes.

Evangeline: Sleeping Doll had a dream last night about....
Me: Did she? How do you know?
Evangeline: Because her eyes open and close. Duh.

Duh, Connie!


The other day, Ana and Evangeline had cookies. Cookies are cookies and I try not to give one a treat that's obviously bigger than the other. That's really not fair.

Ana broke her cookie in two pieces.

Evangeline: That's not fair! Now you have two, and I have one! YOU HAVE MORE THAN ME!
Me and Ana: No, it's the same amount, it's just that this cookie is broken.
Evangeline: NO! Connie, look how much she has! Look how much cookies are on her plate!

We eventually convinced her to just break her own cookie. It's a sign of the times, though - she's hit three with a vengeance. During her time-out yesterday (she refused to clear her fork off the table and I refused to let her up until she did) she said, with great emotion, "I'm NEVER gonna be your niece again!" Ye gods.

She's very honest, though. Before she gets up, I ask her if she's going to behave. "I don't know!!!!!"

Eva says:

eva i luv my sistr!
conuly: Quote from Heroes by Claire - "Maybe being different isn't the end of the world, it's just who I am" (being different)
Ana was doing her TH worksheet. Due to somebody's bad choice, the hardest word (thermometer) was the one without a picture. Seriously? They couldn't've put "thumb" there instead? (I suppose thermometer follows the rules better than thumb with that silent b, but it's long and intimidating.)

Ana diligently divided it up into syllables and sounded it out. THER MO MEEE TER.

Me: Thermometer, honey.
Ana: But why is there a METER in it?
Me: Uh... because it's an unstressed syllable and in English unstressed syllables reduce to a schwa*.
Ana: Oh.

I hope I didn't go too far over her head, but like my mother always says, 10% sticks. (Eventually.)

*Actually, the way I say it, it's more like a schwi. YES THAT'S A REAL WORD.
conuly: Quote from Veronica Mars - "Sometimes I'm even persnickety-ER" (persnickety)
1. Did I mention my consternation when I heard Ana saying "Awesome" all the time? I couldn't figure out where she picked it up, and then I discovered that it was from me. *I* say it all the time!

2. I was typing when Evangeline woke up, and she sat next to me and wanted to type too. So I asked her what word. Then I sounded the words out letter by letter and showed her the general area (row and half-of-keyboard) the letter was in - and she found the letters (the rrr letter or the sss letter) herself! COOL.

3. Then we did Starfall. We did M. One of the ones on M was mask. So I asked her "What do you think this is?" "Zombies?" So I sounded it out. Mmm. Aaaah. Sssss. K-k-k. Maaah. Sss. K. And she got it! "MAX!" The next one was masks. How does she say masks? "MAXES!" Maxes is a very consistent way to pluralize max, but of course mask isn't max. I find this inexplicably interesting, even though it's not actually. (Evangeline did the typing with help for this again. IS IT NOT TOTALLY AWESOME??? TELL HER AND ME HOW AWESOME IT IS!

Read more... )
conuly: (Default)
So you don't want DW accounts, I can see that, but you could've entertained me anyway. I leave the house bored, I come home and it's still boring here!

2. Evangeline is in that age - hold on, let me interrupt you for an Important Bulletin:

Evangeline: Girls go to dance class, boys go to... work. I don't want to be a boy!

This has been an up-to-the-second update on what Evangeline is thinking! Stay tuned for more quotes

-back to what I was saying, she's at that age where every verb, every noun is regularized. One foot, two foots. I do, I doed. I bring, I bringed. Perfectly normal - and it's a step *up* from rote memorization, no matter how it sounds.

Lately, instead of saying "I b'inged this" like she had been, she's started saying "I b'ung it". So she's caught on to the fact that it's a weird formation, but she's still using a more regular form instead of the standard brought (or b'ought, I guess). And yes, I know brung is normal in some dialects.

3. She has some trouble with prepositions. Not literal ones like "Go up" and "Fall down" and "Put in" but the more metaphorical ones - "Is that cooled up yet?", "Slow up!" (I know some people say that. Nobody I know IRL), that sort of thing.

4. In the past few days she has finally - finally - begun making her s-blends. Sometimes. So sometimes it's swim instead of fim, and sting instead of ting. Not all the time, though, and it's clear she's working on it - she'll go ssssss - ting! very carefully.
conuly: (can't)
Location: Walking to pick up Ana, a nice, warm day.

Eva: I wish I could go to the beach.
Me: Yeah, but not today, it's not warm enough.
Eva: Actually, it's not hot enough, Connie!
Me: That's what I said.
Eva: Maybe in the summer we can go to the beach.
Me: Oh, definitely. We'll be sure to go this summer.
Eva: Last time we went to the beach, Ana saw... saw... those things? they have 'tingas?
Me: Jellyfish?
Eva: Yeah, jellyfish! We saw jellyfish! And I never saw them before, and we ran back to Daddy's... to Daddy's...
Me: Umbrella? Towel?
Eva: Daddy's umbrella and towel, and we just played there.
Me: Mm-hm.
Eva: And I don't think there are any jellyfish where Bonne-maman is, right? There aren't any in the POOL, right?
Me: No, not in the pool, but-
Eva: I don't think jellyfish can be in the pool because how could they get there? That's silly. They can't get in the pool!
Me: No, they can't get in the pool.
Eva: Because they can't... they can't take a jellyfish plane, Connie! *giggles*
conuly: (Default)
I already mentioned Duck, Duck, Bruce, of course.

Next month I intend to get playground equipment.

Now, the way I do this is as follows: I make a big list of everything I'd buy if I had lots and lots of cash, and then I whittle it down to reflect the fact that, in fact, I have no cash. I do most of my non-essential shopping like this, and it's about the only way I know to do that sort of budget. This sort of sudden death elimination helps me keep my priorities in order. If I *don't* do that I end up with a lot of regret after the fact, wondering if I forgot something.

(Tangent for a second, Ana and I have been playing jacks lately (must rescue my jacks from upstairs first thing in the morning!) I never actually played jacks as a child. I had jacks, certainly, and I played with them and had a vague understanding of how the game went, but I was too uncoordinated (and certainly saw myself as uncoordinated, which was a combination of reality and a self-fulfilling prophecy) to play the game itself so instead I just sorted my jacks by color and spun them around a lot. (And a lot and a lot and a lot. Evangeline came across me absentmindedly twirling a hanger on my finger the other day. "WOW. That's AWEsome. It's AMAZING, Connie! How do you DO that!") Ana's not very good at it lately and, every time she makes a mistake, says "I'll never get it!", with such pitch perfect inflection that I start to wonder if she's repeating something she heard elsewhere. Interesting fact, this backfires if she's in a serious snit, but if she's just a little peeved mimicking her is a great way to get her to be less melodramatic. She's a good little actress, really, and when you copy her and then ask her to do some other face she will often comply so fast she gets whiplash, as well as a bad case of the giggles. BACK ON TOPIC NOW RAR!)

Anyway, playground and gym equipment. I'm told they have nothing.

Now, I asked for help earlier and you all responded admirably, except those of you who didn't respond at all, of course, but you know what I mean. I have a tentative list, but it's very important that I get stuff as high quality as I can afford - it has to survive not just children, but little children. Ye gods!

Firstly, if anybody has any further suggestions, please make them.

Second, my list! Advice on the best, the cheapest, more resources?

Read more... )

The school yard has a playground on street level, and then down a flight of stairs is the general playspace. It has two basketball hoops. Given that the oldest child in that school is 7, that's a bit WTF?, but there you go. The local teens have taken to sneaking in the yard at night to play basketball. Everybody knows about it and brings the subject up like they're worried, but then say in the same breath that it *must* be all right because they're not littering or being loud. Well, duh, I should hope it's all right! Nobody else is using them! And we're so bereft of sport areas (or playgrounds) in this area it's a travesty. It really is. Silver Lake is nice, but it's a hike up several hills and it's all greenery. I like greenery, but it'd be nice to have something else as well.

What they could really do with that space is set it up properly for handball. The way the school is, built into the hill like everything around us is, the wall around the yard goes up well above an adult's head, and then the backyard above it has a fence around it as well. Plenty of space on that blank concrete wall for a handball court, and if not there then on any of the *other* blank concrete walls. (I'm tempted to go there with some chalk one day and cover it with color, anything other than gray gray gray.)

When I was a kid I read a pretty forgettable book (I read a lot of those) that mentioned tetherball, which was the first I'd ever heard of it. I've never seen it in real life, which is strange. You'd think NYC would be all over this, as it sounds like it doesn't take much in the way of equipment or space to set up. I wonder if that would fly past the PTA and could get set up. Just to have something that the kids could do that's not basketball :) (Well, they'll grow, I guess. But the basketball hoops - and surely we didn't really need two of them for a full game, just one would suffice for pick-up games! - are smack in the middle of everything. Anybody's playing there and the rest of the yard will pretty much be useless to play in.)
conuly: (Default)

Thank you.



P.S. Don't think I won't come up with more annoying creative ways to keep you from forgetting. Love ya!


conuly: (Default)

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