Jan 31, 2011

Reading and Children

1/31/2011 — cori

I have many, many opinions on this subject. I am actually extremely passionate about it. And to think it all happened by 'accident'.

Many moons ago, when I was pregnant with my firstborn, a teacher friend of mine gave me a book titled, "The Read Aloud Handbook" by Jim Trelease. I devoured the book. I had never given that much thought to reading to children, much less reading aloud to them. That was the beginning of our long, wonderful journey into the world of reading and children and the joy that comes with it.

I immediately signed up for the Grolier Book of the Month Club when I was still pregnant. I wanted Gavin's bookshelf stocked with appropriate reading material. At the time, it consisted of all the best Dr. Seuss had to offer. I received several board books for baby showers. I was bound and determined to do this parent thing right and by golly, I'm going to be the best read aloud mommy ever.

So, it will come as no surprise that Chuck found me sitting on the bed with Gavin propped up on my legs while I was holding a black, white and red board book above him talking about the pictures and 'reading to him'. All this and he was only 2 weeks old. Poor kid. He can't help how he turned out. He was destined to be in love with books from day one. He had no choice. The book told me to read to him - so that's what I did. I so desperately wanted to be such a good mommy...not having a clue as to how to do this whole parent thing, this was something I knew I could do, so I just ran with it.

Over a decade later, I've seen the fruit of those first, obsessive-compulsive years of my initiation into parenthood. Reading together has become a part of our love language. We all love to sit snuggled up and read a good book together or apart. We love to talk about our books - with anyone who will listen. We appreciate a good book sale. We treasure our personal libraries. All because some sweet person had the foresight to encourage a new mom to read to her kid.

Kids minds soar when they read. It takes their imagination to new levels. Their creativity levels go through the roof. Freedom to think outside the box is a beautiful gift. If a new movie comes out, my children ask to read the book first because, and I quote, they "don't want the movie to ruin their imagination of what the book is really like." Love it. Time alone with their thoughts is essential. It's how they grow and process new ideas and discoveries.

Gavin's voracious reading habits are no secret. Neither is Chloe's teaching herself to read at 4 and reading so prim and proper. But Bennett got bitten by the reading bug a little later. He's always loved reading with me. But he was never one to read much on his own until recently. Well, now he's gone and exceeded his own expectations. He started the book "Eragon" by Christopher Paolini, all on his own. If I had told him, "Bennett, I want you to read a 497 page book that's really cool all on your own" it never, ever, ever would have happened. But, because he's interested (another passion of mine - interest driven learning), he's reading this monster book all on his own - and loving it!

Any time he meets one of his friends for a playdate or anything, the first thing out of his mouth is, "Have you read Eragon yet? It was written by a 15 year old boy. It's really cool." So far, none of his friends have initiated a conversation about the merits of the book. But I have a feeling if he just keeps asking, someday, somewhere, someone will engage him in a lively conversation about this amazing book. Until then, Gavin will have to do. They discuss the book over lunch, dinner, playtime. They speak the language from the glossary. Chloe and I may break down and read it just so we don't feel left out anymore.

To quote C.S. Lewis, "We read to know we are not alone."

The Trunk Incident

1/31/2011 — cori

Today we were leaving the house and had to bring the dog with us. Bennett was in charge of getting her in the "trunk". With the type of suv/car we have, it's more like a 3rd row seat instead of a trunk. He had to open the hatchback (which is quite tall), which opens up toward the ceiling, inside the garage. He was trying to get her in there, when he decides it might be better to open the garage door so she has more room to jump up. It's a rather tight fit inside our garage. So, he goes to open the garage door and all of the sudden we hear this metal creaking noise. Not good.

You know the sound metal makes when it is being crumpled? Ya...that was the noise. Have I ever mentioned how well I do in crisis situations? Never. Exactly - there's a reason for that. I don't do crisis situations. I'm probably one of the worst panic-ers in the world.

I hear the dreaded noise. My heart stops. I race from inside the house out to the garage where I behold the garage door and my trunk door in a fight to the death. The trunk door has halted the garage door's steep climb to the top. Oh crap! That was literally my first response.

Now things start to get interesting. Bennett has melted in utter tears over his fateful mistake and seeing his mother looking clueless as to how to fix it. Gavin is standing at the entry to the garage with an awestruck (not the good kind) look permanently affixed to his face. He handles panic situations even worse than I do - he freezes up. So, I get the only other coherent person (Chloe - who is asking a ton of questions about what is going on - "Mommy doesn't have time to answer you right now Honey, I'm in panic mode.") to grab the dog who is literally shaking out of control. She somehow thinks she caused this whole ruckus.

At the same time....the phone rings. Why on earth I even answered it, I have no clue...must be a habit. Anyways, it was Chuck calling about something no where near as important as my current situation. I have no clue about what he said because I was too busy yelling into the phone, "Right now is not a good time for me to talk, Baby, because I'm in kinda in the middle of a little crisis situation here." You know how your voice gets a little high pitched and shaky in these small moments of stress. Chuck could hear by the sound of my voice that I was indeed in the middle of my own personal, small meltdown. The only thing I heard on the other end of the line was, "Do I need to come home?"

"No. It's no big deal, the garage door and the trunk door are stuck together and I can't pull them apart and we're in the middle of trying to sell our house and we don't need another major expense, such as a new garage door right now. I'm just trying to pry the trunk door out from the grasp of the garage. No problem-I can do this." He didn't have the benefit of seeing my tongue-in-cheek.

"Okay then. Call me back." Oh the pins and needles he must have sat on for the duration of the time it took me to call him back.

Seems like all my motivational thinking was working. I suddenly had the idea to move the car forward (farther into the garage - but not thru the wall) to 'untie' the two pieces of metal. Actually, I have to give credit to where credit is due. I can't think in panic situations. So, obviously, it was God dropping a miraculous tid-bit of clear thinking/reasoning abilities into my numb brain in order to enable it to work in the fashion he created it for for just this sort of situation.

Voila. It worked. The garage door continued its trek northward without any more obstacles and the trunk door was free to stay attached to the car once again. The collision noise I mentioned earlier appeared to sound worse than it actually looked. There was barely a dent in the garage door and the trunk door had the tiniest of scratch marks. No harm. No foul. My worse-case-scenario mind made a mountain out of a mole-hill yet again.

The rest of the day was spent with Bennett and I apologizing to each other. He kept telling me how sorry he was. I kept telling him how sorry I was. The funny thing was though, we were both apologizing for the same thing: panicking. I guess I know who got my gene.

Jan 22, 2011

The Twilight Zone

1/22/2011 — cori

You know sometimes you can tell when someone is watching you or looking at you? Ya, well, I had that little experience the other night. Let me set the scene. This happened in our bedroom in the middle of the night. It's already peeked your interest, I know. Our bed faces the door to our master bathroom. Right above that door is a smoke alarm. You know how smoke alarms have a little tiny light on them? Green if the battery is good, red if it isn't? Well...that's an important detail to keep in mind. Also, I'm a very light sleeper.

So, I'm just laying there sleeping when all of the sudden I feel as if I'm being watched. Not a good feeling. I raise myself on to my elbows and look around the room. Shockingly, I see someone standing in the doorway to my bathroom, right under this little green light. The person is highlighted in an erie green glow. I am freaking out. Only because of the height of the person could I determine that it was Chloe. She's just standing there staring at me in my bed from about 10 feet away. Freaky!

I ask her, "Chloe, what are you doing Honey?"

She just stares.

Starting to get a little annoyed I ask again, "Chloe. Why are you standing there staring at me like that?"

She mumbled something, "The boys....." and her voice trails off.

This is indeed odd behavior. She's the only one of the kids left who still sometimes comes in our room to sleep with us when she's had a bad dream. But normally she would come and crawl in my side of the bed. Instead, she's just standing there, far away under the green glow and staring. Chuck, meanwhile, is oblivious to the entire event (he's a very sound sleeper and has no clue when someone is looking at him in the dead of night).

Then a thought hits me, Chloe is never this still and quiet - I wonder if she's sleep walking? I ask her multiple times to come see me. Eventually she does. She comes and stands on my side of the bed and continues staring. When I ask her to talk to me she just bends half way over and keeps staring at me. Weird. I pull her into bed with me. Oddly, she is perfectly still. That is when I knew that she was sleep walking. That girl always has ants in her pants and is never still when she comes to cuddle me.

I fall back asleep as easily as I awoke. But before doing so I look at the clock. It was only 12:30. Oh well, plenty of the night left. I awake again a couple of hours later and my middle of the night guest has disappeared from the bed. She's gone - just vanished. More weird. I don't know what's weirder, that I woke up cuz I knew someone was looking at me or that I didn't wake up when my baby left the bed and wandered around in the dark house looking for her own bedroom again. It will remain a mystery.

I asked Chloe about the entire episode the next morning and of course we had a good laugh. She said she remembered coming into my room and insisted that she was awake - maybe in her dream she was - but not in real life.

Jan 19, 2011

Family Go-Karting

1/19/2011 — cori

I never thought I'd see the day, but it finally arrived....we went go-karting as a family. If we could only have one of those tracks in our own back yard, we might just be the happiest family on the planet.

As part of Gavin's 12th birthday present, we told him we'd take him go-kart racing, but it had to be a family activity. Unfortunately for us, there was still snow on the ground on his actual birthday and it was only 20 something degrees. So he patiently waited till the 'all you can ride' special on this past Monday. To his utter joy we could go around that little track, in those highly diesel smelling little 'cars' for as along as our hearts desired...only we had to do it at night.

Let me tell you, there's nothing quite like getting passed by your 12 year old on the road. Chuck acted like a professional NASCAR driver hugging the corners and cutting people off. And then there was your speed conscious, non-risk taking mother out there (me - just in case you couldn't tell) who actually put on her brakes to go around those little hair-pin corners. Come to find out, that's not what you do.

Chuck and I each had a little passenger with us. Whenever Bennett was in my car he kept up a constant play by play about where we were and where everyone else was and kept yelling at me to "GO FASTER". The car only has one speed and that is with your foot all the way down on the pedal. On top of that he kept pointing to me which direction I should go. Did you know that there is only one direction you can go? I think I have a little backseat driver on my hands. Chloe only rode with me once, she preferred Daddy's speed demon car to my slower variety. She kept telling me, "Daddy goes faster." Duh.

And the best part was, we got to go round and round and round and round without ever taking a break. A normal ride only lasts 5 minutes. But the cool teenagers in charge of the go-karts that night let us go around for what seemed like an eternity without taking a break. We were jerked around by that little lawn mower engine for an hour and a half. Definitely worth the money. And enduring the 48 degree temperature.

I think I like celebrating 12 years old.

Jan 10, 2011

First (and maybe only) Snow of 2011

1/10/2011 — cori
It's always a surprise and an unexpected joy whenever snow falls in Texas. Yesterday was one such day. The flakes were huge, fell fast and came all day long. This was Ninja's first experience with snow...it's safe to say she loves it. She ran around like her butt was on fire. It invigorated her. She kept her nose in the snow and just ran. We even lost her at one point. Thankfully, she was easy to spot once we (the Chuck part of 'we') ran halfway down the street to catch up with her.

Jan 4, 2011

This Year I Will...

1/04/2011 — cori

Enjoy my children more.

Stop worrying that I'm messing up so much.

Learn from my mess ups more and not spiral downward because of them.

Take one day at a time.

Work at keeping my eyebrows 'normal' instead of raised when I'm frustrated.

Smile more.

Look for opportunities to show love and kindness to everyone around me, whether I know them or not.

Put less emphasis on what I have to accomplish and more on just being and enjoying those I'm with.

Be content with where I am and what God has given me.

See my problems as opportunities to learn to trust God more and become more dependent on Him and less on myself.

Do something fun and crazy at 9pm instead of go to bed.

Give more support and less opinions.

Be the change I wish to see in the world.

Make at least one new recipe that everyone in my family will eat (that's healthy).

Be the friend I would like to have.

Give more of my self, my resources, my gifts, my time, my food, my money sacrificially...and be honored for the opportunity.

Live each day to its fullest...who knows if it might be my last.

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