Monday, September 29, 2008

The best thing

Doesn't get much better than this:

Just before bedtime, Kisae wanted me to pick her up. When I did, she wrapped her arms around my neck and said, "I love you, Mommy. You the best Mommy ever I see."

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Silly Kid

At Ben's baseball practice Thursday, Kisae had lots of fun kicking a soccer ball around with another younger kid (whose older brother is on Ben's team).

So as we headed to Ben's game Saturday, she wanted to bring along her soccer ball, so she could be sure to play again.

And since Ben and Jim were already at the field, she thought it would be oh-so-funny if the ball rode in Ben's seat. And, of course, I had to buckle it in.

Random fashion note: That t-shirt (a present from grandma) is Kisae's favorite these days. I think this is because it has orange (her favorite color) on it, it looks like a boy's shirt (it is a boy's shirt, I think) and it has a crab on it (which she seems to think makes it cool).

Much silliness all around.

A boy's baseball dream

Ben's baseball team handed out uniforms at Thursday's practice, in anticipation of Saturday's game. On the drive home from practice Ben said, "I'm going to try on the whole outfit from head to toe tonight." And he did.

Even sweaty and grimy, there are few things sweeter than a 9-year-old boy walking around in his baseball uniform.

Except maybe discovering later (when the boy is clean and in bed reading) that he has laid out his uniform on his bedroom floor, so that everything is ready for the big game....a full day and a half away.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Kisae's new favorite game is memory, you know that card game where you try to find matches by remembering where the other half of the pair is.

She's quite good at this. She beat Jim handily the other night. At first, he wasn't really trying but then he noticed that she was turning over one card and then getting up and walking with great confidence to the far end of the game (her Care Bear memory game has many, many pairs) and turning over another card. And making a match. So he started trying -- but she still beat him.

She is the one who set up the cards, so I thought maybe she remembered some of the pairs from her set-up efforts. But even that seems impressive for a kid not-yet 4. Then again, maybe we're impressed because we're old and tired and some of us can barely remember where we put the keys the night before when we came home.

Also, what is with the Care Bears? I don't get them. They all are sickly sweet. And Grumpy Bear doesn't look the least bit grumpy. He should be called Not-Grumpy Bear.

Oh, and those are Kisae's "fancy pajamas."

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

This is fun

Like many second kids (at least ones quite a bit younger than their siblings), Kisae often spends her weekends doing things that are really mostly about her brother.

Consider Saturday: Jim had to work. Ben had baseball practice, so we went to that. I'd promised Ben I'd take him to Barnes & Noble on Saturday to get Brisingr, the next book in the Inheritance Cycle (yeah, I really don't know what it is, either, but the book came out to much hoopla on Saturday), so we went there after lunch. After nap time, Ben's friend came over.

Now, yes, Chakisae got to play on the playground while Ben practiced, got a book, too, and had fun hanging with both boys. But I still felt bad the day was so Ben focused.

So Sunday afternoon I carved out a little time for just the two of us, and asked her what she wanted to do.

We went to Lake Eola, at her request. It was hot (still) but we had fun. And when we started to wilt on the playground, we took a little walk, discovering a small outdoor market with a live singer -- and a gelatto stand. She snuggled on my lap while we listened to the music, dribbled chocolate ice everywhere, and as we headed to the car said, "This is fun!"

True, true.

Oh, and when we got home she drew me a picture with hearts on it.

Definitely a fun afternoon.

The points of reading, or why I'm probably really unpopular with my kid's teacher

Ben remains a reading champ, plowing through books at a sometimes astonishing rate. He reads before breakfast and at breakfast and, if there's time, before we take him to school. He reads at school whenever he finishes his work -- and sometimes, I fear, rushes to finish his work so he can get back to his book. He'll read at dinner if I let him and after dinner, as soon as he is free from homework. In short, he reads a lot, and that's all mostly good. I love to read, and it gives me great pleasure to see my kid lost in a book.

His school uses the Accelerated Reader program, which assigns books points based on difficulty and length and has kids earn the points by taking computer-based tests. Kids have to set "AR goals" and are suppose to earn a certain number of points per marking period. This year, the school is even issuing certificates to celebrate kids who have 10 points or 50 points or 100, etc.

The whole AR thing does not thrill me. First, it has turned reading into a competition, and frankly Ben can turn pretty much anything into a competition anyway, but I'm not sure this is a trait I really want to encourage. Second, it means non-AR books are not read. Now most books that I might suggest for my fourth grader do seem to be part of the program but not all -- or they are not at the right "level."

Which brings me to today's problem or why I am no probably on his teacher's list of Most Annoying Parents. The teacher told Ben he had read several books below his level. Ben told me this but said he didn't know his level -- or, therefore, which books were too low. I emailed her. She got back to me, explaining she had told all kids their level -- and had them write it down -- at the beginning of the year. Not surprisingly, Ben just tuned that out. She also said that she'd deleted three of the books Ben had read from his record -- making him lose points -- because they were too easy. One of the books was The Cricket In Times Square. According to her note, it was a 4.3. Ben needs to read books at least at a 4.6 level.

Really? A .3 difference and we're saying this book is no good? I recommended the book because I remembered reading it as a kid and loving it. It is a classic, listed as appropriate for kids ages 9 to 12. And now Ben, because he's too good a reader, can't read it? Isn't this a bit nuts? Okay, it was kinda easy for him, but he really enjoyed it. Doesn't that count? I mean it wasn't like it was a Magic Tree House book (man, I hated those).

So then I was looking through the list of AR books and saw that, wait a minute, Cricket was actually a 4.9. Then I wasn't sure what to do, but I finally emailed the teacher back saying, oh, I could be wrong, but I think this book was okay, wasn't it? I'm sure she thinks I'm totally over the top, but it just galled me that according to this crazy reading program he wasn't "allowed" to read this classic, well-loved book.

I haven't heard back from her yet, but whatever her response, I'm dropping the issue. Ben, frankly, is way past his goal anyway and leading his class in points, and if he loses the Cricket ones, well, oh well. And, I realize, this program isn't her doing.

Besides, Ben has, hands down, the worst handwriting in the entire fourth grade (okay, maybe, maybe some of the vision-impaired kids have worse, but I wouldn't concede that without seeing writing samples), and that's what I probably need to focus on right now.

Slow and careful, kiddo, and stop making P's that look like e's. Please.

Friday, September 19, 2008

The short-lived interest in mermaids, dresses, skirts, princesses and other girlie stuff

Well Kisae isn't going to be a Mermaid for Halloween. The interest in the pink mermaid costume proved to be fleeting.

She is now going to be Spiderman or Batman -- "I save the day!" -- or a dinosaur, all of which are in the costume box (Ben hand-me-downs). They are frugal options, at least.

She did briefly say the other night, while looking at a brochure for a local children's theatre production, that she wanted to be a princess. But that lasted just a few minutes.

It is much the same with dresses and skirts. She put on a skirt a few times this week but took it off almost as soon as she got it on.

She wore a dress out to dinner last weekend (it was Orange, her favorite color) at the Ethiopian restaurant, but that was only because when she changed her mind, we said, Oh it's time to go. And we left the house.

She didn't seem to mind the dress, really. And it's not like we really cared if she wore it, but I bought it (because she said she liked the orange), so I wanted to get at least a little use out of it.

And she did look cute, though it's hard to tell in the photos because I only got an assortment of odd faces and poses.

Friday Treasure

Friday is treasure day at Ben's after-school program, meaning kids who've been good get to pick something (think Happy Meal-like toy) from the treasure box. Fairly silly and Ben doesn't much care anymore (it's really for the younger kids).

But Kisae, who is not enrolled in this program, has both figured out that a) Friday is treasure day and b)that the staff will let her pick something from the box just because, well, she's cute.

So now she asks me several times during the week on our drive from her school to Ben's, "It Friday?" and when I finally say, yes, it's Friday she says, "Treasure!"

It was kind of embarrassing the other week when the usual staff person wasn't there, and I had to explain to someone else, yeah, I know she's only 3 and doesn't go here, but she gets Treasure.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I growing so tall!

These photos are from a month ago (and not the best). But lately Chakisae has been saying, "I growing so tall!" and insisting she's up to Ben's shoulders. She's not, not really even close. But she does suddenly seem taller, a bit stretched out, a bit less like a baby.

My mom gave her these stacking blocks right when she came home. She liked playing with them but couldn't make a tower by herself, of course. It is pretty amazing that now she can stack them all up -- and add a few more to the top for good measure.

She is definitely growing.


As I was driving both kids to school the other day:

Kisae (to Ben): Why you grabbing my arm?
Ben: I'm not grabbing it. I'm just holding it because I love you.
(I couldn't see from the front but I think Kisae made some kind of face).
Ben: I still love you.
Kisae: I a skunk!
Ben: I still love you.
Kisae: We all a skunk family!
Ben: I still love you!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Flack for a missed nap

Chakisae is at that age where she'd really, truly prefer not to nap. But she still really, truly needs a nap. And she still sleeps more than an hour for the naps she insists she doesn't need.

Most of the time, we get just a few complaints. You know the, "I not sleepy! I not want to nap! I not tired! Look at my eyes!" Then, grumbling, she agrees to read and after a book or two, usually says "good night" and goes to sleep without too much complaint.

Sometimes, there is more complaining and even yelling but fortunately not too often.

Sunday, she didn't get a nap. This was my fault. By the time, my friend and I made plans to take the kids to a little splash park in the afternoon, it was nap time, but I went anyway. And by the time we got home, it was 4:30 p.m. and what was the point?

I figured we'd just power through and get her to sleep a little early. I didn't say anything about the nap but figured she'd be happy.

Well while I was making dinner, Kisae came into the kitchen. "I not nap!" she said, this fact clearly having just dawned on her.

Yeah, I know, I said. Kisae shook her head at me and said: "Silly, Mommy."

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Boy clothes, bad guys, Batman and....a mermaid?

Chakisae is not very girlie, in the pink, frilly, dress-wearing kind of way. She likes boy clothes and says, with great pleasure, "I look like a boy!" The blue snake t-shirt and the baggy, faded jean shorts -- both hand-me-downs from Ben -- are among her favorites. And don't you love that pose?

I am not very girlie either (never wear skirts or dresses), but there is a tiny part of me that is bothered by this fashion trend (not sure why, but maybe because I am sensitive to the fact that she/we already stand out and worry the boy-clothes thing makes it worse? I don't know). Still I try to just go with it because what's the point of arguing about clothes? Plus, sometimes things she thinks are "boy clothes" aren't really. Like the polo shirts she loves. They are all girl shirts, with little hearts or flowers on the chest, but she calls them "boy shirts," I guess because Ben and Jim wear polos so often. The newest one she picked out is white with lightening bolts -- red, sparkely bolts, but still a "boy" shirt in her mind.

(as a side note, is it depressing that 3-year-olds already know these gender specifications? That she knows a shirt with gathered sleeves or smocking is a "girl shirt?")

Chakisae is also into "bad guys," though we think this mostly means superheroes. Because if we say which bad guys, she'll say Batman or Spiderman. We've explained they aren't bad, but the message doesn't seem to stick. On vacation, when a sales person at Cracker Barrel asked her if she liked Elmo and Big Bird and the like, she said, "No. I like bad guys." The woman look appalled. Kisae really does like Sesame Street but she is very into bad guys. Whoever they are.

Tell her she looks beautiful and she will say, "I not bootiful! I bad! I like bad guys!"

For weeks, she also was into Batman (Ben has several old Batman costumes, which have no made their way to her dress up box). She said she planned to be Batman for Halloween. Fine, I said. She makes a very cute Batman.

The other day we got a catalog in the mail advertising Halloween costumes. Both kids spent quite a lot of time looking through it. And then Kisae told me she wanted to be ...a Mermaid. A pink one, no less.

Go figure.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

My pair, part II

There is a downside to the mutual-adoration thing the kids have going on.

Kisae has taken to bursting into tears if Ben declines her request to play. She's not faking it, but she does seem to resort to crying very quickly when Ben denies her. And he then caves -- reinforcing for her, I fear, that the tears get you what you want.

Ben gets all huffy, if Kisae doesn't want to be all warm and fuzzy with him first thing in the morning. "She doesn't like me!" he'll complain. Good grief.

Kisae also sometimes seems to decide what she wants based on what Ben wants. If I ask her what she wants for breakfast, she might say, "What Ben having?" Though this morning, she asked, but then stuck with her own (different) choice.

Ben also seems to relish in his top-dog status a bit too much sometimes. Sunday late afternoon Kisae asked if we could go to the park. I told Ben we should all go because he'd had a friend over for several hours earlier in the day, so now it was time to do something for her. He didn't want to go and figured he could convince her to stay home. "I'm her best friend, mom, she'll be happy playing at home with me." Hmm.

Still, there's a lot of genuine enjoyment going on, despite the bouts of manipulation.