Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"From a Child Is Beautiful, Anything"

I read this story in Rabbi Joseph Telushkin's book The Book of Jewish Values. Just a simple story has made me think about how I interact with my children.

Allen Sherman, the comic songwriter best known for "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah" wrote about an incident in his childhood. One morning he heard his Yiddish-speaking grandmother announce that she needed a "football" for a party she would be hosting that evening. Although he wondered why his grandmother needed a football, he was determined to get one for her. He went around his neighborhood and finally found one boy, a bully who punched Sherman in the nose before agreeing to exchange his football for one of Sherman's best toys.

Sherman took the football home, polished it till it shone, and left it out for his grandmother to find. His mother saw it first, and became upset with him for leaving his toys around. When he explained that it was for his grandmother's party, his mother burst into laughter: "A football for the party? Don't you understand your own grandma? Not a football, fruit bowl. Grandma needs a fruit bowl for the party."

Humiliated, the boy ran up to his room, slammed the door, and refused to come down to the party. But a little while later, his mother brought him downstairs, where he saw his grandmother proudly walking around the room with a large bowl filled with a variety of beautiful fruits and in the middle, the polished football he had brought home. When a guest asked her what a football was doing in the middle of her fruit bowl, she told him about the gift from her grandson and added, "From a child is beautiful, anything."

I want to be the kind of mother who makes my children feel that everything they do their best on, every gift they give to me, is the best possible thing I could want.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A Potentially Explosive Question

A quick "If" post while the baby is still cooing in his crib; in a minute he will start shaking the bars and I'll have to go.

If you could alter one physical characteristic of your mate, what would you change?

As usual, I'm going to overexplain my answer. After ten years together, I am so accustomed to everything about my husband's appearance that I wouldn't change any of the usual things one might think of. I wouldn't give him more hair or change any of his facial features. I like those things about him; I married him, after all! HE would want me to wish that he had six pack abs and a size-29 waist like he did when we met; however, the small love handles don't bother me (but if he gets a big gut, then something will have to change!)

So I'm going to say: I'd wish that his skin wasn't so oily so that he wouldn't get blackheads on his back that itch him. Because he scratches a lot, and sometimes it wakes me up. There.

Answer at your own risk. (Pfaff, I already know what you and your wife would change. But you can answer anyway, if you want to.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Something There Is That Doesn't Love a Book*

Recently, Chris posted on How to Instill a Love of Books in your children. She’s a homeschooling mom to seven children, so she knows what she’s talking about. (If you didn’t teach your seven home-schooled kids to love reading, you’d NEVER get any quiet time, is my considered opinion.) So if you are interested in this topic, click over there are and see what she has to say.

Are you back? I have a couple of other things to add, gleaned from my days as a language arts teacher and reading tutor. But I’ll also summarize Chris’s points, in case you didn’t get a chance to read her post, with a few additions of my own.

Read to your child from as young an age as possible (i.e. as soon as he/she will sit still enough to look at the book). Right now Mr. Blue (13 months) enjoys only opening and closing books. That’s okay. He is getting used to them.

When kids are school age, read aloud as a family--one chapter a night, for example. Good books for this kind of thing are The Chronicles of Narnia, the Little House books, or Harry Potter.

Don’t get too serious when reading to little-bitty ones. Let them close the book, demand to read pages out of order, throw the book on the floor, chew on the book (this is why board books are good). You want to communicate that reading is fun, not a chore that you expect the child to SIT HERE AND LISTEN WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT. Trust me, later on as a preschooler, she will want you to read the entire book in order, and woe be unto you if you leave out any parts.

Take them to story time at the library or Barnes and Noble. It’s free entertainment! Plus you can get more books there.

For recommendations of good age-appropriate books, ask the children’s librarian.

Choose books your children enjoy. If your child is interested in a certain topic, like trains, find books about trains (duh, right?) I let Miss Pink pick her own books at the library, only occasionally asking her if she wants to try one of my favorites. Per her request, we are reading a lot about the planets in our solar system right now, and I’m learning some things, too. Unfortunately, this is one of the ways we lose boys as readers. They are MADE to read books in school, many of which are fiction books chosen by teachers (yawn, as far as the boys are concerned) and the things boys like to read are not valued. Which leads me to…

Encourage reading of ALL types of material, including magazines and comic books. Heck, if it’s the cereal box or the instruction manual for his bike, at least he’s reading.

Model good reading behavior. If your children see you reading, they’ll believe reading is something people do for fun.

Have as many books as possible around the house. Kids need to own their own books. Yes, books can be expensive. To save money, I buy books at Ross, at Wal-Mart, and through Scholastic Book Clubs (through schools, or probably online too.) My mom and brother buy books as presents for the kids (thank you!) I look at it as investing in their ability to get a college scholarship.

Do what my parents did: keep censorship to a minimum. The last time my mom told me what not to read, I was eight and I wanted to read Gone With the Wind. She let me read it when I was nine. Unless your kid is wanting to read Henry Miller, I say keep lots of good fiction around and let her explore. I knew when books were “too grownup” for me and dropped those books like a hot potato. Now, one caveat: my parents aren’t the kind of people to have rated-R books around (but I did encounter some in the library). I may have to be a little more creative in my bookshelf selection, since I do have some books that aren’t appropriate for those under sixteen.

Never, EVER punish your child by making them read. I can’t say it any better than Chris: “For the love of all things holy do not do this. Or I will have to come over and beat you with a book or two.”

*Because I have been trying to post this for two days, so CLEARLY the Internet doesn't want me to tell you about books. (and did you get the literary reference? Didja, huh, didja? If you did, congratulations--we are literary nerds together forever.)

Friday, April 6, 2007

Interview with Miss Pink

Here is an interview I conducted with the Divine Miss Pink. I got the idea from a scrapbook page posted online (and I made a page for our scrapbook too with this picture). I typed her answers exactly as she said them, which will be fun to look back on in a few years. One of the things I already miss the most is the funny mistakes she made and now has learned to say correctly. Fortunately she still says plenty of amusing things!

Without further ado--

How old are you?
Five. (Actually, she’s four.)

What do you like about being [Miss Pink]?
Eating candy.

What do you not like about being [Miss Pink]?
Playing on the computer ‘cause I get all tired. (Like I force her to do this!)

What are you good at?
I’m good at playing soccer when I’m five.

What would you like to be better at?
Playing on my web site.

What scares you?
In the middle of the night when I really, really, really am scared, I get scared because I think monsters are under my bed.

What do you like about Mom?
You read me books and let me watch movies.

What was God thinking when he made Daddy?
He was thinking that He would make more people. Like us and [Mr. Blue] and all the other people.

What do you like about your life right now?
I like about my life when I hug my puppies and I love them and they lick me. (They are stuffed animals.)

How can people be happy?
God gaves [sic] them their strength to smile.

How much did this house cost?

Why did God make dinosaurs?
Because that’s how he wanted to make first. And the dinosaurs died. Because it’s so cold they died. Extinct means dead.

What do you want to be when you grow up?
An artist.

What do you like to do as a family?
My daddy is really funny and he tickles me and it is really funny. You get on the computer and [Mr. Blue] still plays. We do group hugs and we all get together even with [Mr. Blue] and it’s fun to hug him. Bye-bye. The end.

Thursday, April 5, 2007


I finished a book for the April Book Binge: Firedrake's Eye by Patricia Finney. It felt like I was slogging away there for a while--it's an Elizabethan spy novel, so it's not written in the more straightforward English we're used to reading--but it got exciting and I finished it last night.

On to the next book: Goodnight Nobody by Jennifer Weiner. I love her books, and this one is a new direction for her: a SAHM is murdered and another mommy has to investigate. (So far it's nothing like Desperate Housewives, for which I'm thankful.)

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Incomprehensible Parental Edict IXLXXVI

"No, you cannot take that box with you. We're not going to find any diamonds on the floor at Wal-Mart."

(Sometimes the things that come out of my mouth sound like they were randomly generated by a computer.)

Sunday, April 1, 2007


book binge
I'm participating in Mary P's idea of keeping a record of what we read for the month of April and posting a list at the end. Usually I don't do this sort of thing because I imagine that people would think I must be neglecting my children, to be reading so many books.

I don't neglect them, in case you were thinking of calling CPS. (I TRY to neglect them, but they always find me! j/k OF COURSE).

The nice thing about the Internet is that it helps you find your people. And book people are my people. I am also looking forward to getting some good recommendations from the others who are doing this. (As if I need any more books on that list!)