Adventures in Reading

January has come and almost gone. Throughout it, I have been lusting for adventure. This is as close as I’ve come,

I’ve transitioned from pouting about being house-bound, to falling into the doldrums, to nestling in to a quieter sort of adventure. Where I am immersed in grand stories filled with explorations and discoveries, communicated to me by authors, my kids and even myself.

Oh, how thankful I am to read a really great book, one that sits with me, speaks to me long after the last page has been turned. I began searching for a ‘light’ read. Unfortunately, that led to Sophie Kinsella’s book An Undomestic Goddess which I had on hand. Light, my friends, does not have to mean dumb. Which this book was. To its core. I despised every moment that I was reading it, and in the end skipped to the end to see what happened.

My quest was on to find a smart, light read.

Which I found in Brian Selznick’s The Invention of Hugo Cabret. Absolutely breathtaking, brilliant book. A story in words, and in pictures, part mystery, part character study. I truly was swept away into this world. I look forward to seeing the movie too once it’s out on DVD.

In other big reading news, Kaya is reading now. Whole books! Remember these?

Every time she begins to sound words out, putting letters together, forming words, then sentences, my heart literally clenches, my breath literally catching. Joyous pride mixing with shock at the passing of time.

My girl, she can read!

My girl, she can read?

My girl, well she’s also something of an artist. Taking her home-reading book & buddy, she draws what she read, then writes what she read too.

Yah, my girl she can also print…

Time for Daddy to put away his Tap that Ass Tshirt.

On Friday I asked Kaya what another Mommy helped out with in class that day. She told me they were writing their ‘favourites’ sentences. As in,

My favourite colour is __________.

My favourite food is __________.

My favourite song is ___________.

Kaya told me her answers. Pink, of course.

Bacon. Huh? I ask her why she said bacon. She tells me another girl did so she did. We have another talk about how she doesn’t need to copy everyone else and just to give her own honest answer. She tells me she wants to say rice. That’s my girl.

And favourite song? I ask her. She gets quiet. “Baby Beluga” she whispers. Hmmm, that hasn’t been your favourite song in forever, I suggest. How did you know to write Beluga? “I just wrote Baby” Which is when I knew. Her favourite song was not meant to be Baby Beluga as her teacher had assumed, it was Justin Bieber’s ‘Baby’ that was her favourite, which Kaya confirms with a twinkle and a giggle. Hilarious.

Brennyn, as always, playing catch-up, reading me stories too, though I’d suggest it’s more in Beat Poet form, mixing wheels on the bus and rainbows everywhere with twinkling stars and oh yes, a little ‘Like baby, baby, baby oh…’ too.

This, actually, forms one of those truly great moments that will forever stay in my brain. Cozied up in bed finishing the last 30 pages of Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close (another great read though by no means ‘light’) Brennyn comes in wanting my attention. At first, I am annoyed as I just want to finish my book, but I see she just wants some Mamma cuddles so I suggest she goes to get books so she can read beside me too. She grins and toddles off to get some books, then crawls up and nestles in to read beside me. Of course, I get no reading of my own done at this point what with all her beat poet slamming. Then Kaya comes in, Hello Kitty headphones on and Justin Bieber blaring, cozying up amongst us.

I sink further into the pillows, blankets, and my two girls and just gaze at these two kooky, brilliant characters, knowing that I am immersed, this very moment, in the greatest adventure of all.

My family.

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Sound Bites

After trick or treating and visiting a friends pumpkin stroll, we are driving home when B starts singing loud and proud,

“Candy all day long

Candy all day long

CANDY all day long

Candy ALLLLLL DAAAAAYYYY LOOOOONG!!!”

And so on. Upon arriving home, she sees her left behind trick-or-treating bag, runs to it yelling “OH CANDY…” reaches it and gives it a BIG hug then “I MISSED YOU!”

*

Brennyn and I volunteered at Kaya’s Kindergarten class. While I was busy helping kids make candy apples, Brennyn ran around playing with big kids and big kid toys. As it came time to go, I gave Kaya a kiss goodbye. Running up behind her comes B, lips puckered, saying her goodbyes to me too. Cheeky monkey thought she could stay on as she acted the big kid part so well!

*

Kaya- ” We can dream anything we want to, right mom!”

“For sure!”

“When I go to sleep I like to dream I find real dinosaur bones.”

“Cool!”

“But mom,” looking at me very seriously, “not real dinosaurs. Just their bones.”

“Got it. Thanks for the clarification.”

*

“Mom, dreams are funny that you see it in your head but not really real, like in front of you real, but real because it’s in your head…”

She may be a genius…

*

On a routine walk to school one morning, before any coffee I might add, Kaya asks me,

“Mom, why when we look at outerspace, our whole wide world is spinning, but we are on the world and we are not spinning?”

I ramble on a bit about sunrises and sunsets and enormity and rotations around the sun, none of which makes much sense but I ask “Cool eh?” anyways. Her lack of response or follow-up questions leads me to believe that it is not, in fact, cool eh.

 

Observation Dance

Kaya is taking Jazz dance this year instead of Ballet. I didn’t really have any idea of what this meant since the classes are closed off to distracting parents, but observation day this week gave me some hints.

Regardless the dance style, the girl loves to dance!
We start off with a little Chicken Dancing. Oh yes, the Chicken Dance! How can you not love this?!

Nanananananana
Nanananananana
Nanananananana
NA NA NA NA NA…

Go on, shake it with her! Hands in armpits now and flap…

No?

How about the Robot then?

Okay, they weren’t really robot dancing but they should be.

Bring on the Chassé!

And some hoppy, skippy steps (chicken dance is about the extent of my dancing lingo…)A fun-filled hour of hip hoppin kids, beaming parents and Vanilla Ice. Oh yes.

All right stop, collaborate, and listen
Ice is back with my brand new invention
Something grabs a hold of me tightly
Flow like a harpoon, daily and nightly

Ice, Ice, baby
Vanilla Ice, Ice, baby
Vanilla Ice, Ice, baby
Vanilla Ice, Ice, baby
Vanilla

November Leaves Blanketed

Two days after our autumn jaunt, our first snowfall!

This iPhone photo is pretty much the only snow photo I got as I was too busy pouting about missing my big girl. She was at school when the first flakes started to fall. Her teacher got to hear her squeals of delight, her classmates the first to frolic in the snow with her.

Not being first to watch her firsts is going to take some time getting used to. Sigh.

Still, I did get to see Brennyn’s first sighting of the flakes fall. Eyes full of wonder, jaw drops and giggles ensue. Since she was feeling a little sick, we don’t bundle up for a play outside, opting instead for jump/dancing on the bed to Christmas carols as the snow sets the scene. Just about as fun as catching snowflakes with our tongues. Lots of time for that this season though!

As the snow continued to fall and I watch out the back patio mesmerized, I flash to a photo I took of the same scene, different circumstances, and I know I have to try another Dear Photograph shot. Love these!Summer sunny balloons and first snow falls elicit equal wonder and giggles from my girls, reminding me to do the same.

Five hours later and non-stop snow later, it is time to pick up Kaya. I am happy to report the squeals of delight continued throughout the whole day and I got some snow play with my girl.

Especially since another day later, Autumn is taking back the reins from Winter.For now.

Another First

So, less than 2 months in to 13 years of school, my daughter gets detention.

Possibly I’m being slightly melodramatic. Perhaps it was more a ‘talking to’ and a ‘time-out’. Regardless the vocabulary, it was not something I was expecting. Not with Kaya, my sweet, shy, listening one.

Yesterday, I run back into the classroom to retrieve Kaya’s left-behind gum boots when her teacher stops me saying we need to talk. That, as we all know, is never a good thing. Still, I only expect that it is going to be about Kaya needing to speak up more.

Not that she spoke up and in doing so, lied, leading to said time-out.

Liar, liar, pants on fire…

While the teacher tells me the story, my jaw drops and my mind reels. I’m pretty sure my face turns flushed and panic-stricken all while trying to play it cool.

My kid? In trouble?

The offense itself is not that bad. An earlier incident that I don’t fully understand about lying about library time and then, with her friend, lying about washing their hands after going to the bathroom. Busted by the teacher’s assistant!

The more dire situation for us is not the lying so much as Kaya’s inclination to follow along with whatever her friends say or do instead of speaking up for herself. Part of it is that she is just like her daddy in that she’s more than happy to ‘go with the flow’. She is easy-going and not bothered by needing to have her way. A good trait.

But then she needs to learn to stand on her own two feet too. She should have opinions and convictions. Be independent and confident.

Where is the line between easy-going and pushover? Agreeable and complaisant? Flexible and submissive?

The thing is, I know Kaya can speak up. It’s just a matter of comfort, and this Kindergarten stuff is still pretty new to her (to us!) In our neighborhood, there are some kids that do stuff we do not always approve of. Kaya knows this and several times over the summer I heard her taking a stand. Things like not going where she’s not allowed and not destroying trees. I was so proud of her in those moments because she didn’t just say “No, I’m not allowed.” she taught them why she wasn’t doing it. “No, it’s not safe” or “I love trees and don’t want to wreck nature.”

While talking with Kaya about the lying at school, I tell her that I was the same when I was young. That I was shy and didn’t often speak up for myself even when I wanted to but as I learned and grew, I got better and better at it. “Mom, were you scared to talk to people you didn’t know?”

“Yes”

“When it was the first day of school and I was scared to talk to lots of people, this girl (the co-liar friend) was on the bench with me and I wasn’t scared to talk to her like the others.”

My girls way of telling me she feels safe with this girl. Both of them sweet and shy and giggly, they bonded immediately. Bosom buddies if you will.

And as we continue our chat, Kaya informs me very clearly and without hesitation that they did not lie, they did wash their hands. Another mother dilemma then. Do I believe my kid or the teacher’s assistant? After probing a bit more (probing without being pushy- a delicate balance too…) it would seem Kaya put her hands under water, but no soap.

So my kid is not so much a liar as a cheater then. So much better…

Today, instead of working on ways to guide my girl, I’m just pissy at the World, the Universe, the great Creator of all things. Because why oh Brilliant one, do you have us learn and grow and just as we’re starting to figure out our own shit, we have kids and realize our shit becomes their shit and then we have to keep on working on our shit while also helping with our kids shit which is kinda our shit but not entirely, kind of a mix-bag o’ shit, making it all the more shit SHIT.

Thanks for that Oh Wise One. Thanks a shitload.

Present with Presents

Can I talk about Kaya’s birthday presents for a moment? Not because I want to talk about stuff, but because I want to talk about imagination and creativity. Kaya’s gifts this year were filled with them and we couldn’t be more thrilled.

Take the Spark story starter cards. I actually have this iPhone app but love getting it in card form as having something tangible to hold and pass around (even if 2 wee ones in the family can’t read) makes it more fun and game-like. The cards are designed to get your kids imagining and exploring ideas plus it just gets them talking.

Getting Kaya to tell me any details about her day at school is virtually impossible, but if we start playing this, asking questions and scenarios nothing about school, she gets talking which always reminds her about things at school and I end up getting way more info than if I’m drilling her.

For example, one card states

‘A magician gives you a pair of magic eye glasses. How does the world look different when you put them on?’

The answer, no surprise here, is “Everything is pink. The whole wide world! Even Riley (our dog). And bears. I drew a pink bear at school. We did so many bear things at school.” Which is how I learned they did a whole unit on bears.

Fortuitous since yesterday a bear visited the school! Yup, walked right up to the classroom beside Kaya’s and peaked right in. Cheeky bugger.

Anyways, awesome cards made even more awesome as they are made by a couple of moms in the town I went to college. Love entrepreneurial mamma’s!

Probably our favourite gift was the Woodkins fabric doll set. I had seen these before but didn’t really think my girls would be interested. Boy was I ever wrong. We all love it! All it takes is some square pieces of fabric and you can design endless outfits.

Kaya is starting to get really creative making belts and headbands and rubber boots while Brennyn, well, she just thinks it’s hilarious to make monsters:Also incredibly cool and imaginative is the Melissa & Doug Make-A-Face Sticker Pad. I love watching Kaya carefully pick her face then choose which eyes, mouth and accessories will fit her girl. But it is Brennyn’s that I will show here because, well, they make me laugh.

This was the first one she did. At first the eyebrows were more like chin hair but she realized her mistake and put them in the proper spot. The mouth is on top of the nose and the button is a belly button. She wanted me to get this girls belly so she could put it on but put it as close as she could instead.

Awesomeness.

Kaya received other arts and crafts which, can I just say, is always a fantastic gift. Kaya’s favourite thing has been a simple, colourful sticky note pad. She has stuck them onto all her art the past few days and has even added onto the birthday cards people gave her. Here she is trying to make a crown just like the one her buddy made for her.

Then I used it on her actual birthday to decorate her school lunch. So simple to make her feel so special.My goal for this birthday was to replenish her dress-up box. She is literally bursting out of her dress-up dresses. Seriously, they all look like the Hulk came for a visit. I didn’t want Disney Princess dresses as I feel like something more generic offers more opportunity for imagination. I certainly didn’t want the latest Barbie get-ups that in my opinion are too short with one shoulder strapless and way too grown up. What I did find was this Groovy Girls Butterfly dress-up with a matching Groovy doll. Adorable, age-appropriate, and the imagination can soar with games of butterfly or fairy or princess. Oh, and since I did have some mamma guilt at not giving her some grand party (silly, I know) she got this tent for the wow factor.Which I have to admit, is super cute and has already offered up as a great place to read, play quiet time with dollies, and be a hideout from a Zombie Daddy.

Amazing presents all. Ones that allow us to imagine, create and interact. Ones that allow us to be together, be present and enjoy each others company.

No better gift than that.

Thank you friends!

Butterfly Birthday

Well, last weekend Kaya had her 5th birthday party and since Kaya was thrilled, I can declare it a success!

I have to tell you, I was worried about this party. In the months leading up to her birthday we had been to several parties, none of which were hosted at home. Oh wait, one was but she hired a professional fairy to come and well, I have never been to a more magical party! This, of course, was what Kaya wanted too but there was no way we could afford it this year. I ended up explaining to her that those fairies don’t come to our town (talk about ruining the magic!) To which she replied, “Okay mom, well, you can be the fairy then!”

So that is what I did.

My goal was to have an affordable, low-stress party for me and a magical one for Kaya.

Thankfully, each of those awesome parties we had been to over the summer, provided inspiration to create just such a thing.

So it was, that I created a butterfly birthday for my girl.The Dollar store is really a fantastic place. Those butterfly strands were $3 for all of them and that was all it took to light Kaya’s eyes up at our magical butterfly garden house. And the cake? Well, I almost bought a $20 butterfly cake pan until I realized I could just do my own. Then add pink icing. And while butchering the cake and slopping on icing, all it takes is a whole lot of pretty coloured candies to cover up the mess. No sense stressing on perfection when Kaya and the girls thought it was perfect. Especially when it just gets cut and gobbled up in minutes anyways.

I even made good on her wish for me to become a fairy. I wiggled my way into a kids size 6 rainbow tutu (high-five for that one please!) and transformed myself into Mommylina the Rainbow Fairy for the afternoon. When I surprised Kaya with my attire, oh the gasp and sparkly eyes that arose. For so simple a gesture. My heart sang and I knew right then the day would be a great one.

In keeping with the simple, low-stress theme, I made it a small drop-off party with 5 girls plus my two. It was the perfect amount. Soon they arrived donning their fairy wings and giggles filled the house. Here we are just about to start playing pin the butterflies on the flower. Again, $ store bristol boards, and butterfly stickers. Easy, super cute and fun.After some fruit and cheetos snack, we begin the treasure hunt. Using pictures for clues and a story I had quickly put together the night before, the fairy girls begin their adventure! To give you an idea of our fun, here a quick recap of the story and clues. You see, all the butterflies had turned sad, so it was our mission to follow the clues and help make them happy again!

  • Clue #1- butterfly clips for each girl and they had to dance and twirl to help make them happy.
  • Clue #2- butterfly blowers for making wind and getting those butterflies excited to fly again.
  • Clue #3- Colour brightens everyones day right? A colourful pencil crayon with a butterfly adornment (paint chip cutout) helps the cause
  • Clue #4- a fairy picture to paint.
  • Clue #5- My personal fave and inspired from Pinterest. After the butterflies got colour those smiles did arrive. This clue was designed to make them giggle. Lollipop Lips!It worked! Butterfly and fairy giggles are the best.
  • Clue #6- Sparkly lip balm for those big silly lips (goopy gross exploding lip gloss as it turns out. Oops!)

    Jumping Fairy Dance for the Clue!

  • Clue #7- The butterflies were flittering and fluttering happily about now, until they had a little fright. Oh, silly butterflies, just pink glow-in-the-dark dinosaurs. That’s not scary!
  • Clue #8- In fact, glow-in-the-dark is FUN. Bring on the glow bracelets!
  • Clue #9- Originally, this was going to be mason jar fireflies also seen on Pinterest. Only the jars did not look like they had firefly’s in them. It just looked like blobs of glow-in-the-dark goo. So I improvised, made a butterfly cut-out and painted the glow on. But oops, I forgot to shine light on them first, so when we arrived at the jars, they were glow-less. Oh well, we managed to get a faint glow and did a little glowy butterfly happy dance in the garage before going to the final clue.Clue #10- The butterflies are tired from all the dancing and laughs so they need a place to rest. To the flowers! Now this was just a complete fluke find in early September at a Michaels end of season sale. $1 each for these things. Love it!

Mission accomplished. Simple for me. Magic for Kaya. Fun for the fairies.

Bonus being it was so affordable. I spent $3.60 per child for these ‘goody bags’ by finding discounts, shopping at the $ store and using stuff from home (All the glow-in-the-dark stuff I had from summer camping trips, pencil crayons with paint chip butterflies we already had, and mason jars were from homemade apple sauce!)

After the scavenger hunt we had pizza and cake and then, thanks to mother nature bringing out some sun and a fabulous neighbor who offered up his bouncy castle, there was more giggling to be done!Finally, you can’t have a butterfly fairy party without a Zombie Daddy.Right?

Cue squealing giggly girls!

And if you start with giggles, then end with giggles, that is success.