Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Interpretation of Children's Writing

For anyone a mite confused, here are the kids' notes with normal spellings.

I love you Mama
I want to show a amazing trick
Watch this:
(Alphabet backwards)
I love your smile.
I love your kisses.
I love your hugs.
The end.

I love you Mama.
I decided to be a artist when I am grown up.
I love you more than any other mama.
In fact, you are the only mama I had.
Love, Naomi

I hope you are going to feel better soon.
I love you Dad.

(from Josiah):
Daddy, I hope that you get better.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Exploring How to Write

Naomi and Josiah are taking off not only in their reading but in their writing. Only, their confusion over how to spell things reminds me how inconsistent the English language is in its rules. See if you can make out what they are saying...

Notes from Naomi

i luv u momo
i wot to shoo u mazingn chric
wach theis.
i luv yor smile.
i luv yor kisis.
i luv yor hugs.
The end.

i luv u momo
i dusidid to by u ords win I am groonup.
i luv u moor len eny ulr momo
en fakt u or the onee momo I had.
luv Naomi

i hop u or gooing to feel deetr soon
i luv u Dad
Luv Naomi

Note from Josiah

i hop lat u get bedr.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

More Oxford Pics

The first two pictures are of signs and buildings we pass when we walk into City Centre; the one of Naomi is on a bridge in University Parks, and you can see the full water behind her; the one of Josiah shows a stuffed crocodile he got for his birthday.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Our new neighborhood

These pics are of our house and our closest playground.

Ethan: I'm Almost Two

I am a few weeks away from turning 2 years old, but my only words so far are “Mama” and “Dada.” I don’t know why I should try speaking when everyone understands me anyway. I get by just fine with sign language, pointing, grunting and crying. But maybe I’ll try some words in a few weeks. We’ll see.

I really love my family. It’s fun having an older brother and sister (most of the time). They read to me, play animals with me, build Lego towers with me, and let me color with them. Josiah runs away from me when I chase him, making me laugh and laugh, and Naomi looks after me, making sure I don’t get hurt.

Josiah has a bunch of animals that he loves, some plastic and some stuffed. Sometimes I get scared of the fierce-looking ones, like the dinosaurs, crocodile and open-mouthed hippo. In fact, Josiah thought this was quite amusing and waved his new crocodile in my face on purpose, just to hear me scream. But I’m gradually overcoming those fears, and now I even fight his crocodile with my cow (and cow always wins!) I realized that it’s fun to roar and grunt and pretend the animals are fighting each other. On my own, though, I prefer to have them kissing each other. My dog, cat and cow are especially fond of each other.

I also like pretending things are cars or airplanes. Did you know that just about anything can zoom in a toddler’s hands? Not to be proud, but I have to admit that I can fly pretty much anything, from a spoon to a Lego tower. And I haven’t even had lessons! Wait ‘til they see me in the Air Force!

Another one of my fortes is reading books upside-down. I no longer restrict myself to cardboard toddler books (though they are my favourites), but pick up anything I find on the bookcase. Today I was reading a book about frogs and tadpoles upside-down. Yesterday I read an Agatha Christie upside-down. I don’t know why the average person’s mind isn’t capable of transposing images as quickly as mine! I guess I’m just smarter than adults.

My favourite library book right now is called “The Selfish Crocodile,” which is about a croc who kicks every animal out of “his” river, but then has a toothache and needs help. A little mouse runs into his mouth and removes the bad tooth for him. After they become friends, the croc relents and invites all to join him in the water once more. I like pointing to the various animals and making my signs and/or sounds for each of them. Monkey and crocodile are my favourites.

My family really loves me too. Sometimes they get annoyed with me because I make a mess or don’t follow their instructions. But I know they love me because they give me lots of hugs and kisses, and they tell me they love me. And they also love to laugh at me. I can make really funny facial expressions which send everyone into hysterics at the dinner table. I also have some cute words that are guaranteed to make the family smile. Their favourites are “uh-oh” and “Lila!” (the name of a St. Bernard who lived next to us in Virginia)

Well that's all for now. I just wanted to let you know how I'm growing these days!

Josiah: Advent Wreath Snow

Last Sunday was the first Sunday of Advent, and we needed an advent wreath. Mom says we have one back home, but didn’t bring it with us. She thought it would be fun to make one. Mom found some packing foam, being discarded by the local pub, and invited Naomi and me to come looking for greenery with her.

We’d seen lots of holly and ivy while on our walks, but we couldn’t remember precisely where. Unfortunately Sunday was rainy and cold so we bundled up in jumpers, waterproofs, wellies and brellies (sweaters, rain-jackets, rain-boots, and umbrellas). I love walking in the rain. Mom lets me splash in puddles when I’m wearing my boots and it’s such fun! I also like holding my own umbrella. I spin it around and feel so grown-up.

We had only walked a couple minutes when we spotted some holly. I asked Mom if it was prickly, and she said, “No, its leaves just look pointy.” Ha! She reached out to cut some off and yelped! I guess she’d never actually touched holly before. Hearing her say “Ouch!” convinced me I didn’t want to have any part in this greenery-gathering. I stood off by myself, playing with my umbrella (which can also be a good sword!), while Mom and Naomi cut off bits of holly and pine. We headed home, the girls now with very cold fingers because they’d been handling wet plants, and collected some ivy and berries on the way.

Mom made some yummy wassail to warm us up and put on Christmas music. I love music! She’s been teaching us the words to “Joy to the World,” “O Come, O Come Emmanuel,” and “Silent Night.” I think the first line of “Joy to the World” should be “Joy to the Lord, the Lord has come,” but she’s trying to convince me otherwise.

Then she put the foam on a pan and started cutting it in a circle. Do you know what happens to white packing foam when you cut it? Yes! It breaks off into little, itsy-bitsy crumbs of white. I was inspired, as you might imagine. There are few things more fun to me than turning big things into miniscule pieces (using scissors or my hands!). So once the wreath shape was cut out, I abandoned the whole project, letting Naomi and Mom stick the leaves and candles onto it. I had a much grander idea: filling our dining room with “snow.”

I took a leftover piece of foam and began rubbing it with my fingers. Bits broke off and when I blew them, “snow” flew into the air. Mom saw what I was doing, but said it was fine since she’d already begun making a similar mess while cutting the foam. She also thought that we could just easily vacuum it all up after I’d gotten my fill of tearing things up. Oh boy! License to make a mess!!! Just what I’ve always wanted.

I worked hard at my snow, and when Naomi had finished with the wreath, she decided to join me. Then Ethan woke up from his nap, and he joined in too! Three of us making white crumbs all over the dining room! When the floor was covered and we were getting crumbs in the hallway, living room and stairs, too, Mom had had enough. She knew Daddy wouldn’t be happy if he saw the mess. She told us to vacuum it all up before dinner.

That was more easily said than done. For one thing, our vacuum cleaner is very hard to push, so Naomi and I both tired out quickly. For another thing, there is a fan blowing air out, which created little eddies of swirling foam wherever Mom tried to hoover. And finally, our vacuum cleaner has a canister that needs to be emptied manually (instead of bags) and it’s pretty darn small. I kind of forgot how much space all the bits of foam would take up once they were put in once place again. Mom was not too happy about emptying the canister over and over again (though Naomi thought it was fun!)

I had been sad when Mom said we needed to clean up the snow and I’d insisted that we would do this again someday. “Maybe snow on every holiday,” I’d said. “Easter, 4th of July…” But after spending 45 minutes cleaning it all up, I started to have second thoughts. And Mom was adamant: “Never again!!”

At least I did it once. Not every kid can say that.

Naomi: Looking for a Park

November '08
It was a sunny day and we were on a hunt to find a new playground. Mom had looked at a map which indicated there would be a playground at Angel and Greyhound Meadow, in the St. Clement’s area of Oxford. That wasn’t too far from home, so we set out on a Friday morning for an exploring adventure.

Even though it was a bit of a walk (25-30 min.) we each found a stick on the way and had fun pretending they were swords or walking sticks. When we got to the busier part of town, Mom had to keep reminding us not to play swords because so many people were walking by us. She also was a little worried we’d fall in front of a car or bus if we weren’t paying attention.

Mom guided us through an alley and a parking lot, over a little bridge, and we saw the meadow, just beyond a copse of trees. Yay! We love running and jumping in woods and grass. I was so excited!

I had not taken too many steps into the grass, however, when I realized this was very WET grass. And a few steps further indicated I was walking in MUD. Mom saw the mucky state of the ground and apologized to me, saying that this meadow must be a floodplain. (I know all about floodplains because we walk through one every time we take the footpath through University Parks into town. And I’ve seen light flooding there!)

My brothers, mom, and I own “wellies” (rain boots) but we hadn’t worn them on this adventure. We thought we’d just be playing in a playground. The rest of my family was wearing sneakers, but unfortunately for me, I was wearing socks and crocs. Yes, well, I can tell you now that mud squishes into crocs VERY quickly. My feet were immediately wet, cold, and dirty. Yuck!

Mom took pity on me during the worst bits and pushed me in the stroller (which Ethan had vacated for the obvious pleasure of squishing through mud!) We eventually made it to the other side and walked along the edge of the meadow, which was slightly less muddy than the middle. I thought our “adventure” was a failure until I saw the river.

Ah, flowing water. There are so many things one can do next to a river. Josiah and I used our sticks to stir muddy water by the banks, pretending we were making chocolate milk. Ethan tried to throw leaves into the water, but mostly the wind would blow them right back onto him! We threw pebbles in, comparing splashes and sounds. We even cheered Mommy on as she lugged a great big huge branch, and flopped it into the water. It didn’t move at first, but we nudged it with our sticks and then watched it slowly go downstream.

Mom told us about currents, wind and gravity. We learned that the water going down the middle of the river moves more quickly than the water on the banks of the river. We could see that clearly, since there were so many fallen leaves on the river’s surface. And remembering the bad effects of pollution, I was determined to get an empty beer can out of the water near the bank. Using two sticks, Mom and I managed to do it!

Now, remember how I said we were looking for a playground? Behind some trees, Mom spied a fence. And since playgrounds here are always fenced in, we happily ran through the trees, sure we’d found what we were looking for. Imagine our disappointment when we got close enough to realize that the playground had long ago been dismantled. All that remained was a fenced-in patch of grass and a lonely bench. Not a play-thing in sight.

Oh well. We had lots of fun by the water, and despite my wet feet, I knew the adventure had been worth it. In addition to the fun, I learned two important things: 1) it’s always wise to walk along the edge of a meadow, instead of through the center, and 2) I should always have my wellies with me!