Recognizing Letters

Isabelle has 41 songs on her playlist.

Isabelle has 41 songs on her playlist.

I presented Isabelle with her playlist on my iPhone as she prepared to brush her teeth.

“Pick a song,” I said, as I do every morning.

Instead of scrolling up and down through the playlist with her finger in search of a picture she liked (which matches a song she wants to hear), she settled her finger towards the center of the screen.

“A…,” she began.

“A, what?” I asked.

“A.” She pointed towards the Jackson 5’s song. Then she continued. “A. B. C.” She looked up and smiled.

“ABC, what?” I asked. (I had a feeling about what she was doing, but I wanted to follow her lead.)

“ABC, da song! Dat’s ‘ABC’,” she said as she touched the screen with her index finger.

IMG_2949Next thing we knew, a new screen popped up and we heard the Jackson 5 singing and playing “ABC.”

“Wow! You read that. Instead of looking at the picture, you read the letters a-b-c and picked the song. You should be so proud of yourself.”

Isabelle beamed.

I continued, “That’s reading, Isabelle.  The letters mean something.  This song is called “ABC” and you read the title of the song.  You can learn how to read the titles of all of your songs.”  But then I stopped.  She’s only four.  Why push?  And besides, we had to brush those teeth!

A Few More Reasons to Write a Poem

digipoetry-buttonI was inspired to create my own poem after reading Catherine & Margaret‘s blog poems (inspired by Bob Raczka‘s “Some Reasons to Write a Poem”) last week.

A Few More Reasons to Write a Poem

Because a tiny bird nibbles seed from her hand-painted birdhouse

 

Because you delight in her questions

even the ones that start with “why”

 

Because you witness her pedaling her trike straight

 

Because she requests a ponytail instead of a side-bow

 

Because she wants “just one more hug”

at preschool drop-off

 

Because you see yourself in her

when she smiles

 

Do you know how hard it is to wrangle curly hair into a ponytail? I'm surprised she stood still while I did it!

Do you know how hard it is to wrangle curly hair into a ponytail? I’m surprised she stood still while I did it!

 

The Knuffle Bunny Laundromat

It’s been a long time since I lived in Manhattan (Almost eight years!) so I forgot how the City feels on Easter Sunday.  After doing some research, I realized a lot of museums, zoos, and gardens were open today.
While a museum seemed like a good idea, I  wanted to show Isabelle some of the places featured in the Knuffle Bunny books since she always says she wants to go there.  THERE can range from public school which is much taller than her school to the playground to Grand Army Plaza where Trixie and Sonya meet in the middle of the night to exchange their bunnies. I googled “Knuffle Bunny Tour” and found this article.
My parents are originally from Brooklyn so convincing them to drive to Brooklyn for the day wasn’t too tough.  We hopped in the car after spending some time at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum.  First, we drove around my mom’s old neighborhood, where she lived until she was almost ten-years-old.  Next, we drove in the opposite direction towards Grand Army Plaza.  But Isabelle was snacking in the backseat at this point, so I don’t think she was able to crane her neck out of her car seat to take in the grandeur of the Sailors and Soldiers Memorial Arch. So, we kept driving.
Isabelle screeched and giggled and flailed her arms when we pulled up in front of the laundromat from Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale. After all, she was going to take her teddy bear on a visit to the place where Trixie said her first words.  Once her excitement waned, we got her out of the car.  I walked behind as Isabelle and her Daddy walked down the block and into the Laundromat.

FYI: The awning has changed since the book was published.

  •  I was expecting to see a sign denoting the actual machine where Knuffle Bunny was washed.  But I didn’t.
  •  I was expecting to see the letter M on the actual machine pictured in Knuffle Bunny.  But I didn’t.
  •  I was expecting to have a déjà-vu moment since I’ve read Knuffle Bunny so many times.  But I didn’t.
 Instead, I saw a bunch of washing machines, most of which had clothes in them, on the right and dryers on the left.  I counted up 13 washing machines from the entrance of the Laundromat and deemed that “the” washing machine.  I told Isabelle that was the one where Daddy rescued Knuffle Bunny for Trixie.  She believed me.  Thankfully, it’s easy to convince a four-year-old of a half-truth like this.

If you enlarge this photo, you’ll find a statement that says the machine should not be used by children. Imagine if Trixie’s daddy had read that? She never would’ve loaded Knuffle Bunny into the machine while helping him with the laundry (and then we’d never have this story).

 

Regardless of the difference between the way the Laundromat looked in the book to the way it looked in person (the awning is new!), Isabelle was delighted she went to a place she’s only seen a picture book.
She’s also been asking to go to the sidewalk cafe in A Gift for Mama by Linda Ravin Lodding and Allison Jay.  That book is set in 19th century Vienna.  While I don’t think it’d be possible to find the illustrated sidewalk cafe that’s pictured on the final page spread of A Gift for Mama, I know I wouldn’t mind meandering around the streets of Vienna with my family in search of the sidewalk cafe that looked most like the one in that book.  Just sayin’.

Lunchbox Poems for National Poetry Month

I’m one of those moms who puts a note in my child’s lunchbox every day.  This month, I decided Isabelle was not going to get regular notes. Instead, she’d get a poem every day of the month, in honor of National Poetry Month, that she brings lunch to school.

I pulled out a variety of poetry books and combed the web for cute kids’ poems.  Next, I opened up the Vanilla Pen app and got to work.  Here’s a look at what I created (some are prettier than others):

CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENLARGE.  My personal favorite is located on the bottom right.  It's includes a reminder that she has to leave early from school for a dental appointment. Ha!

CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO ENLARGE. My personal favorite is located on the bottom right. It’s includes a reminder that she has to leave early from school for a dental appointment. Ha!

In honor of the first day of National Poetry Month AND the lunchbox poem series I’m hosting for Isabelle, here’s a peek at a favorite Eve Merriam poem that seemed perfect for Isabelle’s lunch today:

IMG_0651 (1)

Click on the image to enlarge.

 

I’m not sure what Isabelle will think of her month of poems. I hope her teachers won’t mind reading something a bit longer than my usual notes every day this month.

I’ve long had the idea of putting together a book (I envision it as the kind of book a publisher like Workman would take on.) of 180 Lunchbox Poems (for every day of the school year).  I’m not sure if a publisher would ever want to produce a book like this, which would include kid-friendly poems on sheets that parents could tare-out on a perforation and easily stick in their child’s lunch.  All I know is that the permissions process would be enormous!  For now, I’ll just stick with lunchbox poems for my own child.

Looking Back on the Month That Was

Image source: http://bit.ly/1FbVdiW.

Image source: http://bit.ly/1FbVdiW.

I’ve written for 31 days in a row, but since I started on Feb. 28th, not March 1st, I felt compelled to write ONE MORE SLICE OF LIFE post for the month of March. (I don’t want anyone saying I didn’t complete the challenge!)

So, thanks to some inspiration from Linda Baie, I looked back on the month that was March 2015.  Here are snippets from each of my slice of life blog posts, from 2/28 – 3/30:

  •  I will be the one polishing her toes since I’m not about to pay for Isabelle to have a pedicure!
  • “May you leave–” she paused.  She knew that wasn’t right. “Can you leave me alone?”  She stopped again.  “Can you leave please?”
  • Once I dropped Isabelle off at school I raced to the supermarket to pick up the jalapeno pepper I forgot to buy for tonight’s dinner.
  • We have come SO FAR.
  • Isabelle refuses to eat chicken.  Guess what I’m supposed to make tonight?  Chicken.
  • “I DO not like egg muffins,” she parroted back.
  • Reading that reminded me I am not a cruise director.
  • My heart breaks./She’s fearful/of making a mistake./One day/I hope she finds freedom/to use her voice/in prayer/and/in song.
  • You can’t scare the hiccups out of yourself, silly!”
  •  “Do you like comedy?” I asked my husband as he brushed his teeth in our bathroom.
  •  And as of today, she’s been using a “big girl grip” for a week straight!
  •  Gwace’s mommy let her weah a tutu.
  •  Soaring in the air/With a gentle breeze/In your face/Noticing your/Giggles as you/Soar in the air
  •  The “save the purple” mentality continues.
  • Lesson learned.  Sometimes I have to butt out!
  • “Well… the problem is that I don’t need them.”
  • I didn’t run after you today because I am SO. TIRED. OF. RUNNING. AFTER. YOU.
  • “It’s written by Candace Fleming and illustrated by G. Brian Karas.  It’s the same author and illustrator as Clever Jack Takes the Cake.”  I paused.  Then I tried to close the deal.  “You love Clever Jack, don’t you?”
  • I’ll say “hi” to people as we walk into her preschool in the morning.  She’ll tell me, “Don’t say hi. I not say ‘hi’.”  I respond with “Well, that’s a bad choice.”  She doesn’t seem to care because she sees it bothers me.
  • “Jerry wanted to hurt Tom because he was chasing him.”
  • Tonight I asked her “Do you want me to sing ‘HaMalach HaGoel’ or ‘Erev Shel Shoshanim’ before I tuck you in?”  It took her awhile to decide since she wanted BOTH.
  • Casey/Warm Snuggly/Resting Breathing Sleeping/Sweet First Birthday Girl/Niece
  • Tonight, we found ourselves prolonging our shopping trip so Isabelle could watch the show in the singing dairy products.
  • “But it’s yaw eye cweam!” she insisted.
  • “Why is the Rabbi here?”
  • It is so hard to talk about death without scaring a young child.  I want to say the right thing, but I’m not sure there is a right answer.
  • “But I don’t wanna be scratched!”
  • 30 minutes after we started reading together, we were at peace with one another.
  • When I overhear Isabelle sing the songs she refuses to sing at synagogue, in the quiet of her room, I’ve found my happy.
  • Season passes! At Hersheypark!
  • [W]e attended story time in “The Vault.”
Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com  for more slices of life.

Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com for more slices of life.

Everyone Can Fly + a Book Giveaway

"Flying Isabelle"

“Flying Isabelle”

Isabelle had my favorite kind of play date yesterday afternoon since it involved a museum and a craft project! We met up with Joanna and her son at the Susquehanna Art Museum. The museum re-opened in Midtown Harrisburg a few months ago in what used to be a bank. First, we attended story time in “The Vault.”  The museum educator read Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold to the kids. Next, we went into the art studio for a craft project. All of the children received a cut-out flying body, like Cassie Louise Lightfoot, to decorate. Isabelle needed some assistance designing “Flying Isabelle,” which turned out pretty well.

My favorite part of the day was heading upstairs to the “Everyone Can Fly” Exhibit, which features the picture book art of Amy Bates, Jonathan Bean, Lauren Castillo, Megan Lloyd-Thompson, Faith Ringgold, and Shadra Strickland.  The exhibit wasn’t just a bunch of canvases in frames — though that would’ve been enough for me.  It had interactive components, which delighted my daughter and all of the other young visitors.  Here’s a look:

Isabelle and Jesse enjoyed playing on a three-dimensional Tar Beach rooftop. (The construction hats were part of a different section, which had lots of dress-up items.)

Isabelle and Jesse enjoyed playing on a three-dimensional Tar Beach rooftop. (The construction hats were part of a different section, which had lots of dress-up items.)

Running back and forth on the drawbridge was great fun for Isabelle.  (This kept her busy while I spent time with the art.)

Running back and forth on the drawbridge was great fun for Isabelle. (This kept her busy while I spent time with the art.)

We studied the center painting from Amy Hest and Lauren Castillo's The Reader.  The museum had book version of The Reader there so I was able to show Isabelle how the book's designer added Hest's words to Castillo's painting.

We studied the center painting from Amy Hest and Lauren Castillo’s The Reader. The museum had book version of The Reader there so I was able to show Isabelle how the book’s designer added Hest’s words to Castillo’s painting.

Jonathan Bean is the most local of all of the regional illustrators whose work was featured in this exhibit. Therefore, it was fitting to have a large table set up for kids to recreate some of his illustrations from his 2013 book, Building Our House.

Jonathan Bean is the most local of all of the regional illustrators whose work was featured in this exhibit. Therefore, it was fitting to have a large table set up for kids to recreate some of his illustrations from his 2013 book, Building Our House.

If you don’t live in Central Pennsylvania, but find yourself driving on I-81 or on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in the next couple of months, visit the Susquehanna Art Museum. “Everyone Can Fly” is an exhibit picture book lovers of all ages will enjoy!

Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win a copy of Beach House by Deanna Caswell and Amy June Bates, which will be on-sale in May.

F Leave a comment on this post for a chance to win a copy of Beach House by Deanna Caswell and Amy June Bates, which will be on-sale in May.

Finally, I was reading the review copy of Beach House to Isabelle at bedtime.  I always read the author and illustrators’ names and when I read Bates’ name I made the connection.  Amy June Bates was one-and-the-same as Amy Bates whose work we had seen at the museum earlier in the day!  I pointed that out to Isabelle who said she’d like to go back to look at Bates’ paintings again.  Another visit to an art museum?  Sure thing, kiddo!

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION

  • This giveaway is for a copy of Beach House Many thanks to Chronicle Books for donating a copy for one reader.
  • For a chance to win this copy of Beach House, please leave a comment about this post by Monday, April 5th at 11:59 p.m. EDT. I’ll use a random number generator to pick the winners, whose names I will announce at the bottom of this post, by Tuesday, April 6th.
    • Note: This giveaway is open to anyone with a USA or Canada mailing address.
  • Please be sure to leave a valid e-mail address when you post your comment, so I can contact you to obtain your mailing address if you win.  From there, my contact at Chronicle will ship your book out to you.  (NOTE: Your e-mail address will not be published online if you leave it in the e-mail field only.)
  • If you are the winner of the book, I will e-mail you with the subject line of RAISING A LITERATE HUMAN – Beach House. Please respond to my e-mail with your mailing address within five days of receipt. Unfortunately, a new winner will be chosen if a response isn’t received within five days of the giveaway announcement.

Comments are now closed.  ReadWriteThruLife’s commenter number was drawn so she’ll receive a copy of Beach House.  Here’s what she wrote:

Um Wow! What an awesome exhibit and opportunity for dramatic play centered around a book. I teach Young Fives and this exhibit makes me green with envy!!! Also, I attended the Michigan Reading Association Annual Conference this weekend and sat in on an hour and a half session with Donalyn Miller yesterday. She “whispered” about over 100 books. Beach House is on my “gotta have” list. While I would love to win it, I will definitely be buying it! Thanks for sharing your wonderful experience!

Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com  for more slices of life.

Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com for more slices of life.

Another Run-In with a Homonymn

My husband is home (WHEW!), but he’s working this morning.  Therefore, my Sunday looks a lot different than usual.  Instead of sleeping-in and working on my book, I found myself preparing breakfast for Isabelle.  Here’s a snippet of our breakfast preparation conversation:

Between this conversation and the "from scratch" debacle the other day, I'm wondering what other words are confusing Isabelle that she doesn't talk about.  English is such a hard language to master, isn't it?

Between this conversation and the “from scratch” debacle the other day, I’m wondering what other words are confusing Isabelle that she doesn’t talk about. English is such a hard language to master, isn’t it?

I’m happy to report she was pleased with the papaya and forgot all about the watermelon!  (BTW: Click here in case you’re wondering what the “Watermelon Man” song reference was about.)  But, when she didn’t want to eat any more pineapple, this happened:

 

Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com  for more slices of life.

Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com for more slices of life.

Finding My Happy

I came home from synagogue in a surly mood this afternoon.  It goes beyond Isabelle not participating in the Mini Congregation service (which I blogged about earlier this month).  I’m tired because my husband has been in Chicago since Thursday morning.  It partially has to do with being tired.  I’m tired exhausted from spending hours at the computer revising a manuscript. But what I’m really tired of is Isabelle’s demeanor towards people at synagogue.  We’re in one of those vicious cycles of her refusing to be pleasant towards people who directly address her.  But instead of writing a surly slice of life about my daughter’s behavior, I decided to find my happy thanks to a blog post I just read over at Kim Koehler’s blog, Live, Love, Teach.

When I make it to main service by Ein Keloheinu, even if my child wiggles in the seat next to me, I’ve found my happy.

When I find food I can eat during the Kiddush, like noodles marked “gluten free,” I’ve found my happy.

When I catch up with friends as my daughter runs around the synagogue, also known as “getting exercise,” I’ve found my happy.

When I think of how Isabelle made it through Passover last year, without consuming any chametz, I’ve found my happy.

When Isabelle tells me we cover our eyes for the Sh’ma, which she’s learned in Mini Congregation, I’ve found my happy.

When I overhear Isabelle sing the songs she refuses to sing at synagogue, in the quiet of her room, I’ve found my happy.

When my child takes an afternoon nap, after DAYS of not napping, so I can have some peace and quiet, I’ve found my happy.

Thanks for the inspiration, Kim.  I’m not surly anymore.  By turning around the morning’s evenings and thinking about the positive, you helped me find my happy.

Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com  for more slices of life.

Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com for more slices of life.

Reading Aloud: The Cure for Sparing with Your Child

Read #2 of Goose by Laura Wall.

Read #2 of Goose by Laura Wall.

Isabelle and I sparred with each other a few times before I dropped her off at preschool this morning.  I was tired (I was at my computer writing until after 11 last night!) and she wasn’t listening.  Neither of us were in the right.  I figured things would be better when I picked her up from school.

They weren’t.

Instead of completing her entering the house routine quickly (i.e., coat off, shoes off, washing hands), she took over five minutes to remove her coat and one shoe.  It was agonizing.  I raised my voice.  She yelled back at me.  This cannot continue, I thought.

“I have some picture books I want to share with you.  Would you like to read them in the great room or your playroom?” I asked Isabelle once she finally finished washing her hands.

“The Gweat Woom,” she replied.

“Okay. I’ll get them and meet you in there.”

RALH PostFirst we read I Wish You More by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld, which allowed me to remind her how much I love her even though we had been fighting today.  Next we read Beach House by Deanna Caswell and Amy June Bates, which allowed us to talk about how much we cannot wait to go to Maine this summer.  Afterwards, we read Peace is an Offering by Annette LeBox and Stephanie Graegin, which allowed me to snuggle Isabelle close and plant some kisses on her cheek.  Finally, we read Goose by Laura Wall — twice! — which allowed us to imagine what life would be like with a pet goose.

30 minutes after we started reading together, we were at peace with one another.  Reading picture books is one of the best ways to fix a problem, isn’t it?

Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com  for more slices of life.

Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com for more slices of life.

Gluten-Free Baked Macaroni & Cheese from Scratch

“Guess what I’m making for dinner tonight?”

“What?” Isabelle inquired.

“I’m making baked macaroni and cheese from scratch.”

“No! I don’t want from scratch!”

IS SHE KIDDING ME?  She said she was fine with this being our dinner together tonight seeing as Marc wouldn’t be home for dinner.  And now she doesn’t want it?  OH MY G-D!

“Yes, I’m making it from scratch.  For you.  Like you asked for it.”

“But I don’t wanna be scratched!”

I chuckled.  “You’re not going to be scratched, Isabelle.  Making something from scratch means I’m cooking the entire dish myself.  Nothing comes out of a box.  You love this kind of macaroni and cheese.  Trust me, you’ll be happy.”

For the sake of being able to explain what "from scratch" means to Isabelle NEXT TIME, I took some process photos of tonight's dish.

For the sake of being able to explain what “from scratch” means to Isabelle NEXT TIME, I took some process photos of tonight’s dish.

 

And she was. She gobbled up way more than I expected considering this is the first time I ever made it gluten-free.

Want to make this dish? Follow all of Deb Perelman’s “Easiest Baked Mac and Cheese” directions over at her amazing SMITTEN KITCHEN Blog.  BUT, use these ingredients:

2 tablespoons butter
1 cup low fat cottage cheese
2 cups milk (1 cup of skim and 1 cup of whole milk OR 2 cups of lowfat milk)
1 teaspoon dry mustard
Pinch cayenne
Pinch grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound grated, extra-sharp cheddar
1/2 pound gluten-free elbow pasta (Buy corn elbows, NOT rice elbows.)

 

Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com  for more slices of life.

Head over to http://twowritingteachers.wordpress.com for more slices of life.

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