Take Five

Take Five

A few notes about recent goings on.



We read Beethoven Lives Upstairs and after that listened to Beethoven’s Ninth. Bella says it’s her favorite music. I’m so happy my seven year old has a favorite Beethoven symphony.


I also found out that there are both an audio book version and a movie version. I think I’ll need to check those out.

Bella was really taken by the epistolary format of the story: “It’s just like a conversation between the uncle and the nephew, but with long pauses. Like taking a break to get a drink of water.”


We are still finishing up The Story of the World Volume 1. Right now we are getting into all things Roman with some extra picture books from the library. I did my usual method of grabbing everything our library had on the topic that looked remotely interesting (leaving behind the books that were too text-heavy and didn’t have enough pictures). I let Bella choose the ones she thought looked interesting and then I added a couple I thought looked like they might be worthwhile. We brought home six books and we might actually read two or three of them.


Our current read is How Would You Survive as an Ancient Roman?. Bella liked the Ancient Greek? one and is very happy with the Roman one too. She loves the detailed colorful pictures, the bits and pieces of daily life. She wants to be able to imagine herself in that world and these books do that for her.


I can tell it’s sinking in, even if Bella does resist formal narration. She and Sophie are playing at being Romans. This morning they were reclining on the couch and eating bread, olives, and grapes. Bella also explained to me how Roman shield are different than Greek shields. And pointed at the pictures of gladiatorial games and made commentary on them. She was interested in the clothing and hairstyles and remembered the videos we’d watched (see my blog post about Ancient Hairstyles here. She also was interested in the section on criminal justice that explained crucifixion.


Putting her on the spot and asking her point-blank questions does not work. But we can have interesting conversations that show she understands. Also, the other day she seemed to not be listening to me and we’d been interrupted several times so I asked her a few pointed questions about the passage I’d just read and she did answer them quite well. Really, I have no doubts at all about her comprehension of the things we read and it is always clear to me that she’s thinking about things, processing them. I don’t see how a more formal style of narration would improve her ability to make connections with the text.




Sophie is loving her Saxon K math. It’s really a bit too easy for her, but I make the lessons a bit more challenging. She likes doing the daily calendar so much more than Bella ever did.

She is more interested in reading practice than Bella, though I think Bella is actually a bit more fluent than she is. It’s pretty neck and neck.

Sophie continues to have a great sense of humor. The current favorite library book is one I think Sophie grabbed. She has a knack for finding the funny ones: No More Water in the Tub!, a ridiculous tall tale about a boy who sails through his apartment building in his bathtub after the faucet breaks. Complete with rhymes about Uncle Nash and the trash and Dottie and the potty. Nothing is funnier than potty humor. Ugh. The pictures are fun and the text is easy to read aloud. And I love to hear them giggle.


She plays equally well with Bella and Ben. Often the three of them– or even the four of them– play together. But Sophie is the bridge. Bella and Ben rarely get involved in games with each other unless Sophie is in the mix. Games with Bella, Ben, and Sophie inevitably involve talking cars. Ben just doesn’t do the animals and people as much as the girls do. It’s interesting how the Cars movie allowed for Ben’s passion for all things vehicular to intersect with the girls’ imaginative games. The cars become people and so all is well.




Ben and Anthony have recently been requesting A Medieval Feast. I’m not sure what about this book so intrigues them, but they just love it. I’ve read it at least once a day for the last week or so. The four and twenty blackbirds baked in a pie were a fun excuse to chant the nursery rhyme. They especially love some of the more exotically named foods. I’ve heard them muttering “Bukkenade” and laughing hysterically.


Ben often surprises me with his book requests. Although you can tell which library books are his– they all have cars, trains, trucks, planes in them– the books he brings me at story time are much more varied. But he doesn’t really ask questions or discuss them, so I have no idea what’s going on in that head of his. He can be quite chatty about things at times (usually at bedtime) but he isn’t a talker in the same way the girls are.


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Anthony is really into nursery rhymes right now. We’ve been reading several different Mother Goose books and I’ve heard him chanting them to himself. Baa, Baa, Black Sheep is a favorite. So is “What are little girls made of?” He will happily supply the end rhymes if I leave them off, but I’d better actually say the word after him. If I try to go to the next line without supplying the missing word, he makes me go back and say it properly.


Anthony is getting to be very verbal indeed. Daily he blows me away with something he says. A recent conversation had him declaring: “I not An’nie, I boy.” He’s also picked up on some of Ben’s made-up words and loves to repeat them to me when I ask him questions. “Buckok” is one and then he goes into rhymes: “Suckok. Duckok.” Fortunately he hasn’t hit on the F. He does use “fr” instead of “tr” but at least that r in there keeps it from being quite as painful as it might be.




Lucia is going crazy with everything. Right now she’s working on standing and crawling. She regularly pulls up to a stand in the bassinet and on the toy baskets and laundry baskets. She’s got the basic crawl down, alternating hands and knees. She just hasn’t realized she can use it to move more than two feet. When she does… watch out world!


She is loving solid food with a passion: grapes, raisins, sweet potato, squash, meat, potatoes, broccoli, peas, apples, bananas…. She makes a glorious mess, but is pretty handy with getting the food into her mouth. Today she even tried to use a spoon. Sort of.

Also, she is really working hard at talking. I sort of thought it would be one or the other: physical milestones or verbal. She’s an overachiever. She surprises me daily. Wait, did she just say: Dadda? Mama? Grapes? All done? One night I swear she said, “I want Daddy’s book.” And my personal favorite: Dom and I both swear she’s been saying “Kick out of you?” This last because Ben and the others all love to repeat it to her. It makes her laugh.


And in other news

In the garden: When we came home from the grocery store on Monday there was a female goldfinch eating seeds from our cosmos. She’d land on the flower stem, further down where it was a bit thicker and then walk her way up toward the dead flower heads, the stem bending under her weight. Then when she got within reach, she’d peck at it. I wish I’d had my camera. Bella was fascinated and managed to get pretty close.


In the kitchen: Monday night I made a roast pork tenderloin with salt/pepper/Herbs de Provence rub and a balsamic/red wine/mustard/fig reduction that was to die for. It was super fast to make and everyone except Ben ate some pork.

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  • I just ordered The Story of the World. And The Way Things Work. I think I meant to get Story some time ago and forgot, so I’m hoping it will add a much-needed history dimension to our very small amount of formal schooling. We’re working steadily through a learning-to-read book, but my reading aloud to the boys has languished under the girls constantly assaulting me with board books, which makes me feel a little read out.

    Nat told us last night that he needs not one, but two grappling guns. I don’t want to know what he intends to with them….

  • We still need to get a copy of The Way Things Work.

    About reading aloud, would he listen to an audiobook? I’ve heard great reviews of the Story of the World audiobook, so that might be worth checking out too. I’m thinking of trying to find a referb iPod for Bella to listen to audiobooks on. Right now she’s listening to The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe on the computer or iPad, but it would be nice for her to be on something more mobile and self-sufficient.

    I’m rather curious about the grappling guns. Do tell if you find out what he’s up to.