Monday, January 26, 2015

Today at Our House

Monday is Dave's day off and our "Saturday," so Dave and I slept in, along with Graham, who contentedly snoozes on and off until we come to wake him. I know--most amazing three-year old ever.

Dave made our traditional Monday breakfast of scrambled eggs (known here as "Daddy's Eggs Fabulosa") and toast. Of course, it's not quite that simple. We always have two kinds of toast, whole wheat for Dave, Matthew and Esme, and gluten free for Meg, our celiac girl. Graham, who can't have eggs at all, had instant oatmeal. I, who eat mostly grain-free, had peanut butter on a banana with my eggs.

Now Dave is in the shower and the kids are sliding down the stairs in their sleeping bags, screeching at the top of their lungs.

Our entire living room floor is covered with toys, despite the fact that the kids cleaned it up beautifully just last night. I guess that's one consequence of sleeping in.

We have no plans until late this afternoon.

It's snowing very lightly outside.

Ahh, sweet Mondays.

(Whoops, no irony or meanness intended there... I promise we're working hard on the weekends, when most people have their down time!)

Friday, January 23, 2015

Esme and "Real" Books

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For a long time, Esme has not been content with picture books alone. Though she still brings many picture books home from the library (with titles such as Fancy Nancy and Pinkalicious making the most repeat visits), she has long imagined herself a reader of chapter books. It started with the American Girl series, which Meg read backward and forward several times. Eventually, Esme started bringing home American Girl books too, despite the fact that she was scarcely four and couldn't read a word. Illiterate, she sat for hours with these paperbacks open on her lap, animatedly telling herself stories she had never heard. It was adorable and funny.

Last fall she latched onto my old paperback copy of Anne of Green Gables. She toted it with her to Louisville when we went down to say goodbye to Dad. She spent several hours of our car trip intently "reading" it aloud--and trust me, the ONLY thing she knew about this book at the time was what she could guess from the cover art. Her narrative was largely untrackable, but she sure was enjoying herself.

Lately, as Esme has progressed through kindergarten and begun to recognize words and sound them out, she's been attacking longer works in earnest. I brought Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm home from the library a couple of weeks ago, and Esme was enchanted. (By the cover? By the title? I really don't know.) She spent well over an hour one afternoon doggedly plowing through the first two sentences, one unfamiliar word at a time. This involved many trips from her reading spot into the kitchen to ask me for help. "Mommy, I know, 'The... old...'. What's this word?"

"Ssss-t-aaaa-ge. Stage."

"Stage! Ok, stage! Thank you, Mommy!" And back to her reading spot (usually the floor of the main floor bathroom, incidentally) she would go, to read from the beginning, adding her new word. Then, in a few moments, she'd be back.

"Mommy, I know, 'The... old...stage...'. What's this word?"

"It's 'coach'."

"OK, coach! 'The... old... stage... coach!' Thank you, Mama!"

She was totally delighted with this process, painstaking as it seemed, and she was over the moon when she encountered a word she could identify without help. As I mentioned, this went on for over an hour. You go, girl.

Then this week... a pay-off. We had finished reading Cheaper by the Dozen at lunchtime that day. (My sisters and I have quoted this book to each other since preadolescence, so it was fun to get to read it to my own kids.) Later that afternoon Esme took the book into the bathroom. She emerged glowing.

"Mommy, I was reading Cheaper By the Dozen, and I found out that it says, 'Dad... was... a... tall... man'!"

I took the book from her and opened it to Chapter 1. Sure enough, the book opens with the phrase, "Dad was a tall man"--glorious, short, simple words! Her first successful solo decoding of a whole phrase in a "real" book!

It was a real, live dream come true, achieved, as with most dreams, by hard work and perseverance.

Dream on, lovely girl!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Advent

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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Christmas Eve at Our House

Catch-up post!

It used to be that we Wilcoxes had our "Christmas Morning" early in December. Back then, our church's Christmas Eve musical production completely took over Dave's life later in December and made it very difficult for us to get a morning together. However, in the last few years, the church has scaled way back to a lovely, simple carol-singing and scripture-reading service that requires much less preparation. And that means that we can open our presents right on Christmas Eve! (Our Christmas Day is reserved for a brief birthday party for Jesus and travel.)

I've given up taking pictures while we're opening presents, so I just have a few from afterward.

Here's Dave helping Matthew with his new magic kit while Esme explores her Lego Cinderella set.
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The remains of the day:
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And saying goodbye to Daddy in the afternoon as he left to prepare for the service:
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Later, here is Meg typing on the brand new, bright red keyboard she got for the iPad. She sat right down and hammered out her first play, a version of the Nativity.
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And here is Graham, coopting my casserole carrier (ready for schlepping food to Virginia the next day) as some kind of toddler containment unit.
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And that's all I've got! It doesn't make our Christmas Eve look particularly magical or momentous, but from where we sit, it was just about perfect.