Having Hyper Verbal Kids is Good, I Just Keep Telling Myself

Posted on 2/28/2015 10:29:00 AM
I love that my kids read.  It's the best.  If there's one thing I could wish for them it's that they read and love it.  They do.  So I hope it's clear that I'm proud of them for this and wouldn't have it any other way. 

That being said...

The Caterpillar only really likes to read aloud to us and that's, well, great too.  In first grade, the teacher made a point of telling the kids they had to read for twenty minutes a day and it would be a good idea to sometimes read aloud to your parents. The Caterpillar has taken that very seriously and never not once in first grade read during those twenty minutes a day to herself, despite my sometimes begging and pleading.  This year, the teacher wants them to read every day but has made no such requirement to read aloud, yet The Caterpillar is completely and totally convinced that she cannot read unless it be aloud, to one of us.  I know this is an attention thing.  She follows us around the house, reading whoknowswhat, it could be the manual for our dishwasher for all I know because truth be told, no one is really listening.  It's just the white noise of the early evening.  She follows me into the kitchen and reads while I make dinner.  She follows me down the stairs and reads while I clean up.  She follows us to the bathroom and reads through the door.  Sometimes she gets stuck on a word and we have to admit that we weren't really listening when we aren't clear from the context what word was going to be because we weren't listening to the context.  That's when I roll out the "well, you're going to have to sound it out, say the syllables slowly" because I am the Smartest Woman Alive or and I can usually catch up with her being none to wiser.  Sometimes we make her read to her sister, who has no more patience for this than we do.  

I know I need to make time for her and listen to her.  I know having communicative kids is good because they are likely to tell me when something goes wrong in their life.  We always have conversation material.  It's less likely a teacher or someone will attempt something inappropriate with them because we all know they're "talkers." But here's the thing: no one in this family is EVER silent.  There is a LOT of talking going on in this house and when they're not talking to me or each other, they're talking to themselves, or, more annoying, just making random noises and none of the noises are quiet ones.  It's hard on my ears.  And my head.  So I need to make time and let The Caterpillar read to me, yes, but sometimes I also need to not hear their voices droning on and on and since this is almost never happening in my house, I often tell her to wait until Daddy gets home and read to him then.

Sorry Daddy.

(But not really.)

This month Caterpillar is reading Charlotte's Web with her class at school.  I remember this book being fairly traumatic when I was her age, because - *spoiler alert* - Charlotte dies at the end.

She has been reading us one chapter at a time for some time and today she read me the last page of the book.

"Wilbur never forgot Charlotte. Although he loved her children and grandchildren dearly, none of the new spiders ever quite took her place in his heart. She was in a class by herself. It is not often that someone comes along who is a true friend and a good writer. Charlotte was both."


She finished, and I, actually listening for once, said, "Aw, that was a good book right?

"Yes."

"Was it sad?"

"No."

"You weren't sad when Charlotte died?"

"No, because I just read the last page.  But I hadn't read the part when Charlotte died yet."

She had skipped ahead to the end and I hadn't noticed.  Woops.

Me: "Oh.  Well, I guess I just spoiled the ending for you.  Sorry."

Caterpillar: "No, I knew Charlotte was going to die."

"Why? Did someone already tell you the ending?"

"No. I knew that Charlotte was going to die because of facts."

"Facts?"

"Yeah.  It's a fact that after spiders have babies, they die.  Why would Charlotte be any different?"   

This, from my child who cries at telephone commercials.  Well, done, my pragmatic little one.  Well done.  But just the same, I'm not letting her read Bridge to Teribithia any time soon. 

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Way to Make Me Feel My Age, Kid

Posted on 2/23/2015 06:47:00 PM In:
*Disco song comes on the radio.*

Caterpillar: "I thought this kind of music was extinct."


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Right On So Many Levels

Posted on 2/18/2015 08:05:00 PM In:
Caterpillar: "Sister, what's 'dignity?'"

Dormouse: "It's underwear." *snickers under breath to self*

I think she was just trying to play a joke on her sister.  Either that or someone's been looking at photos of Britney Spears getting out of a limo again.

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Genetic Memory

Posted on 2/15/2015 11:45:00 AM
There is a legend that Siamese cats were once used to guard Buddhist temples and protect the riches inside from thieves.  The entrances to the temples and passageways inside were purposely built long, narrow and short, causing adults who might enter to bend over while walking through them. Children, however, who were tasked with the care and keeping of the temple once it was sealed, were able to walk through the passageways walking fully erect.  Siamese cats were left inside the temples after being trained to identify anyone bending over ninety degrees and then jump on the presented back and attack.

Somehow, living with this Siamese cat, it's much easier to believe this legend could be true.




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Future Hipsters Will Love Me Ironically

Posted on 2/13/2015 11:25:00 PM In:
It's been awhile since I've done a Friday the 13th post.  Getting this one in just under the wire.

Thirteen pretentious hipster things we do:

1. have milk delivered to the house in glass bottles


It might be more expensive than regular milk from the grocery store, but not a lot more expensive and they bring it to my door, ya'll!  It is so much better than grocery store milk. Plus, I get to tell stories at work about my milkman who sends me Christmas card. It is quaint and awesome to live here in 1950.

2. make pretty much all the bar soap we use in the house from scratch. Or actually, The KoH made several dozen bars a couple years ago and we haven't bought a bar of soap since.  It's not as drying as store soap and smells better.

3. buy loose leaf herbal teas from one of those tea stores and then have to find something to steep them in because they don't come with tea bags.  It's more expensive, but it's also more trouble.  Actually, I just like the options for varieties because Lipton tea sucks.

4. buy shampoo at one of those made by hand with no preservatives stores.  It smells better and doesn't make me sneeze.


5. grow and dry most of our own herbs.  I have become a much better cook since we had an herb garden, because now I use them in everything I cook to make it worthwhile to have and maintain this thing.

6. concern ourselves too much about privacy in the bathroom.  It's not like we all run around practicing for the nude beach or anything, but we're never made a huge deal about seeing each other somewhat-less-than-fully-clothed and have always been rather matter-of-fact about it and basic anatomy.  This probably is due more to our laziness and propensity to forget to close the door in the bathroom than it was any conscious effort in parenting, but The Dormouse and I had a discussion the other day about the process of changing in the locker room for gym which she started doing this semester in school and her outlook is remarkably healthy and nonchalant for something that a lot of people remember as nearly traumatizing.  Sometimes even blind squirrels find nuts.


7. The KingofHearts' latest favorite hobby is black smithing and he has two forges in the back yard.  That seems loud and ridiculous since we have no horses. Until you learn that he can make me stuff like this.


8. Speaking of odd hobbies, my Christmas present from him was a class in glass blowing -  vases, to be specific.  I made a lot of misshapen stuff so far, but this one is my favorite.


9.  this new house has a three-sided fireplace and we've used it almost every day of the winter so far. I remembered a long time ago my parents bought some sort of chemical you could throw in the fire to make the flames different colors.  So we went to our personal shopper Amazon and found that they not only still sell it, but that some can be on it's way to you too with the click of a button. It's kind of awesome.


11. take our kids to classical music concerts.  I'm pretty sure we haven't been to one yet where some fuddy duddy didn't give us the sideways glance for bringing kids to a concert, but screw you, snobby people.  They are at least as well-behaved as that guy in the front row whose face is always lit up blue because he's playing farmville on his phone through the whole concert.

  12.  each month, we go to a facility where we assemble and pack frozen dinners for the month.  Yeah, we could just make stuff from the grocery store, but both the Shortlings learned how to follow a recipe and measure this way.  And it's better than nachos and mac and cheese, which is probably what I would make if left to my own devices.

13.  handmade Sheepskin slippers.  It's like sticking your foot inside a cloud.

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Playing with Children in the 21st Century

Posted on 2/12/2015 11:33:00 AM
I am trying very hard to get back into a rhythm where I might be able to post regularly here (though I would settle for a rhythm where I might just think regularly) but certain things have taken over my life lately.  These things include work; a glassblowing class which was a lovely Christmas present but given our recent move, turned out to be ill-timed; children's schedules; children's social lives; children's school projects; fixing all the broken stuff in now two different houses; and of course my war with social media.  I know that last bit doesn't make sense to anyone reading this, but if you're inside my head, man, that was funny and timely.

The other night I got back from a rehearsal pretty late and the Underland crowd had all gone to bed, but left on the table, was this menu.  I asked about this later and apparently the Shortlings had made dinner for the KingofHearts.  And, true to form in this family, they couldn't just make dinner. No one Just Makes Dinner in this family, oh no.  No one Just Plays The Tag in this family, ever.  They made dinner, but they also had to name the restaurant, develop a series of specialty recipes, create a menu, produce the menu, bring in ambiance with decoration, invent new waitress names and probably dress up and present the meal in costume, I don't know.




It was cute, but not all that different from something I would have done at their age.

The KoH's Yelp review on the back, however, would never have been a part of what I'd done in the 1970s.


Despite lots of bickering in the kitchen, the food was excellently prepared. The meatloaf was especially good, but the sauce was served cold... a bold choice.  The side applesauce a la Dormouse was delicious but could have had more cinnamon.  The desert occasioned a tone of bickering which spilled out into the dining area - very unprofessional.  Despite that, dessert was a masterful concoction, both salty and sweet with notes of coconut and many different textures.  All in all, Carolina's Cafe is not to be missed.  I give it 8.5 stars.   -- Mr. Critique 

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Washington, D.C. Metro, United States
Married, 40ish mom of two (or three, or four, depending on how you keep score) who stepped through the lookinglass and now finds herself living in curiouser and curiouser lands of Marriage, Motherhood, and the Washington, D.C. Metro Area.

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