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February 26, 2012

Home School! (for a day)

Last Friday Adelaide and I were both feeling a little under the weather, so I decided to keep her home. She quickly immersed herself in her favorite activity of late- crafting elaborate art projects. After cleaning up from breakfast, I decided to try some home-schooling.

First we practiced our Letters. Adelaide's kindergarten teacher had mentioned that she couldn't always read Adelaide's compositions. So we spent an hour practicing our upper and lower-case letters, proper letter spacing, and then some spelling.

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Then it was time for Reading. I timed Adelaide as she read through her sight word flashcards as fast as she could. After three attempts she had gone from 1 minute, 45 seconds to 1 minute, 19 seconds. (I have no idea if this is a useful thing to do with a kindergartener, but it was satisfying to have some objective measurement of "improvement.")

We'd been working steadily for about an hour and a half, and Adelaide seemed to be getting tired, so I decided it was time for Science, supplied by David Attenborough's nature series "The Life of Mammals" via Netflix. Finally, it was time for Art.

Adelaide had been learning about the work of Kandinsky in art class at school, so we looked at some examples of his work and read a little bit about his life. I showed her where Odessa is on a world map (I know Odessa as a very difficult city to take during Operation Barbarossa, but I suppose it has other significance, too.), then Adelaide was occupied until lunchtime with her paper and crayons, striving to recreate Kandinsky's work.

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After lunch, we both collapsed from exhaustion and had long naps. It was a fun and rewarding morning home-schooling, but it'd be tough to do it every day. Would anyone like a knock-off Kandinsky in the mail?

February 20, 2012

Guest Reader

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In Adelaide's Kindergarten classroom, Wednesday afternoons are Guest Reader days. The Kindergarten class is treated to 25 minutes of favorite stories read by some of their favorite people, like parents, grandparents, older siblings, aunties, uncles, or special friends.

Today we don't have school.

Today isn't even Wednesday.

But, when I offered for Adelaide read Henry his nap time stories, she jumped up and pronounced to Henry in a sing-song, "I'll be your Guest Reader today!"

The arrangement was quite copasetic.

February 14, 2012

How to Have Fun with Five-to-Six Year-Olds on Valentine's Day

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Step One: Make a big batch of cookie cut-outs.

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Step Two: Make a batch of bright pink frosting and gather up some red sprinkles.

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Step Three: Find a good friend and mix everything together for a delightful afternoon.

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Step Four: Just watch out for sugar-overload after all those sweets upon arriving home. Too much sugar can lead consequences like crying, moping, whining, fussing, and bonelessness, which, in turn, lead to early bedtimes.

February 1, 2012

The Three Amigos

A couple of days ago, we went to the public library as a family. As Henry and I were loading our due selections into the book drop, I heard Adelaide chirp to Joel, "Daddy, I would like to check out 'Little Neddy Goes to War."

Joel and I have a love affair with the 1986 film The Three Amigos that is almost vintage, but Adelaide and Henry's passion for the heroic tale of three down-and-out movie-stars-turned-caballeros-in-Old-Mexico is vivid and new and utterly charming. We put The Three Amigos in on New Year's Eve as our early evening entertainment; we usually watch a classic, old film on New Year's Eve, and previous favorites have included Vertigo, Rebecca, Suspicion, Charade, Casablanca and The Thin Man. But now that the tots are old enough to stay awake to celebrate at, or close to Midnight, we've got to watch something a little more kid-friendly.

Okay, okay, The Three Amigos is not exactly kid-friendly what with all the gun-slinging, barroom violence, a plethora of randy jokes, and El Guapo, but neither is Star Wars! We've been to a Star Wars-themed school-aged kid birthday party this year where the dad lurched out of the house dressed as Darth Vader for all the little party-going Jedis to defeat! So, why not cultivate a love for the cult genius on display in The Three Amigos? Chevy Chase, Steve Martin, and Martin Short are comic masters, and frankly unless we're talking that Frank Oz puppet, I'd take the acting in The Three Amigos over Star Wars any day.

Okay, so Adelaide did try to call me a "Scum-sucking pig" over coffee a few mornings ago, but it was totally hysterical. We both thought so ... ... Maybe you had to be there?

Tonight, Adelaide came home with a treasure that she'd made at 7:30 a.m. at her carpool house. She made a crown. A crown of pipe cleaners adorned with likenesses of Lucky Day, Dusty Bottoms, and Ned Nederlander. In a word: Inspired.

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At 7:30 p.m., Adelaide could not put down her crayons for bed. She was too busy storyboarding her version of "Little Nede Gos to Wor," God willing, coming soon to a theatre near you.

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Henry, who's a bit more musical, requested that Randy Newman favorite, "Blue Shadows on the Trail," for his bedtime go-to-sleep serenade. He likes the part where the horses go "Bum-ba-bum-ba-bum-ba-bum-ba-bum-ba-bum-ba-bum-ba-bum-bum-bum."

No joke. We all love The Three Amigos. Look for a themed birthday party in the months ahead.