BATS

Oliver took it upon himself to teach Hazel how to read today.  He asked me how he had learned, and I told him that we had started with simple letter combinations, like AT, and then built on them, by adding “B” for bat, and “C” for cat, etc.

So, Oliver walked over to his chalkboard and wrote “AT” on it.  His conversation with Hazel proceeded like this:

Oliver:  Hazel, A-T says at.

Hazel:  At.

Oliver:  Good!  Now you can read at!!

(Oliver writes a B in front of at.)

Oliver:  Hazel, what sound does B make?

Hazel:  Buh.

Oliver:  That is correct.  [Note:  He really said that!]  Now, if you put ‘buh’ with ‘at’, what does it say?

Hazel:  Buh-at.

Oliver:  That is incorrect.  It says bat.

Hazel: Bat.

Oliver:  Good!  You can read bat now.

(Oliver writes an S after bat.)

Oliver:  Hazel, what sound does S say?

Hazel:  Ssss.

Oliver:  Right.  Now, if you add S to bat, it says bats.

Hazel:  Bats.

Oliver:  Correct!  You can read bats now.

(Oliver writes a QU after BATS.)

Oliver:  Hazel, what does QU say?

Hazel:  I don’t know.  (walks away.  Oliver grabs her arm and drags her back.)

Oliver:  QU says “kwuh”.

Hazel:  Kwuh.

Oliver:  Good!  Now, what does it say at the end of bats?

Hazel:  Kwuh.

Oliver:  Batsqu.

Oliver then writes a – and underneath it writes the word LINE.  The chalkboard now looks like this:

BATSQU-
LINE

Oliver:  Hazel, L-I-N-E says line.

Hazel:  Line.

Oliver:  Now it says batsquline.

Hazel:  Batsquline.

Oliver (looking at me):  Mommy, Hazel can read now.  I just taught her.

The Kids

Many thanks to an old friend, Kimber (aka One) for letting me know she wanted to see pictures of my kids!

First, there is Oliver.  He’s four and a half now, brilliant (of course), funny (obviously), talented (clearly), and has an unbiased mother (indubitably).  He also totally gets Christmas.  He was telling me today all about all of the presents that he wants for Christmas, and I said, “Now, you know that Christmas is about more than just getting presents right?”

He responded, “Yeah, I know that.  It’s also about snow.  And candy.”

Then there’s Hazel.  Her world is made of magic and you can’t help but fall in love with all of the epic cuteness.  She says such wonderful things that I can’t help but wonder if she’s plotting world destruction through adorability.  She memorizes the lyrics to songs after hearing them twice, and sings along with the radio she insists on leaving on in her room all the time, tuned to the local country station.

So, these are my kids.  I love them.  They drive me crazy, they bring out the best and the very worst in me, and I wouldn’t change them for anything in the world because they are the absolute perfect versions of themselves.

Hands

A lot of people that I know love baby feet.  And what’s not to love?  They’re small, squishy, and don’t have all the ugly callouses from, you know, walking that the rest of us do.  They make adorable footprints and have little chubby toes that might just make delicious snacks for the cannibal-minded.

Now, I have nothing against baby feet.  I think they’re cute.  But they are not my baby-nip of choice.  For me, there is something magical about hands.

A baby’s hands are so expressive.  When Oliver was a baby, I used to just watch him open and close his little fists.  They communicate needs–through gripping so tightly that they can actually carry their own body weight, they communicate feelings–when Hazel gets mad she balls up her hands as a way of expressing her rage.

These days, though, I still fall in love with my kids by watching and experiencing what they do with their hands.  Watching Oliver’s little boy fingers, with nails too long because he won’t let me cut them, and chipped green nail polish from the last time we all had to paint our nails our favorite colors, watching him grip a pencil as he furrows his brow and concentrates on putting pencil to paper and practices writing–I fall in love.  I love that this is my little kid, and he’s getting old enough to be able to write and to be able to do, and to be excited to learn. And I love that he thinks that writing is fun, because it’s something that is inherent to who I am.

Today, we were walking home from somewhere or other, and Oliver was riding in the stroller and Hazel was walking.  I have a hard and fast rule that across the major streets, Hazel has to hold my hand (not just the stroller), because she’s a fickle pickle and will just run off if something strikes her fancy.  And obviously that’s not okay in the middle of the road.

As we got closer to the main intersection we had to cross, Hazel reached her hand out to me and wrapped her fingers up in mine.  Her soft skin was warm, and I could feel each of her little fingers inside of mine.  She gave me her hand to hold willingly, because she trusts me.  She has faith that I will keep her safe.  And it made me so glad to be her mommy, and want to remember that moment forever.

To add to that, tonight when I tucked Hazel in, she reached her arms up and encircled my neck and pulled my face close to hers.  She tangled her fingers up in my hair and said, “I love you forever.”

I love those kids so much that it makes me cry when I think about it too hard.  I have to break it down into more manageable bits–like individual body parts–to even think about communicating those feelings into anything other than a blubbery mess on paper-mache.  And so I can’t wait to see where life takes these two little humans I get to have in my life, and to watch their hands grow and develop and help form them into whatever they become.

Oliver’s Story

Earlier today, Oliver and I were chatting about babies.  I think we’d seen one on TV and Oliver thought it was cute.  Anyway, he then proceeded to tell me the following story:

“So, one time I [Note that this is Oliver talking, not me] had a baby in my tummy.  And it was born, and it was a girl, and she was so cute.   Like, so, so cute.  She was cuter than you were when you were a baby.  I named her Katy.  And I loved her so much.  And then she disappeared.

“But it was okay, because then I had another baby in my tummy.  And I loved her so so much, and she was born.  And I named her after you, Mommy.  She was so cute.  I just loved her.

“She had to go out to discover the world.  So I had to go with her, of course, because she was just a baby.  So I packed my backpack with all of the stuff we’d need.  Like, I packed a lot of corn, so we’d have food.  And other stuff too.  I loved my baby.”

Final Trip to the DC Zoo

One of my favorite places to take the kids in DC is the DC Zoo.  It’s free, there are animals, there’s place to run and it’s okay to act like kids.  Of course, since my kids are so young, we really only get to see the first three or four animals.  It turns out that this is okay, because the Asian Otters they have at the DC zoo are adorable, near the entrance, and a lot of fun, so we spend the majority of our zoo time there.

We wanted to make sure we had time to go to the zoo before we moved, so on Tuesday, my first day after leaving my job, we took a family trip to the zoo. When we got home, Oliver was practicing his typing skills on Kullervo’s computer, and later on we noticed that he’d tried to spell otter–“OTTDER”.
Here are some of the photos of the kids that I caught while we were watching the otters.