Work is killing me today so to lift my spirits (and the spirits of all) I offer the Daily Katie Rose.
On another thought, I am somewhat tempted to start up a blog thread just on “stuff Katie says.” The popular one today is: PROTONS ARE CUTE!
IT’S SO FLUFFY!
Katie desperately wants to start writing her highly elaborate stories. She has characters! Plots! Chapters! Only one problem…. She doesn’t know how to spell the words yet. Reading she has down cold. Basic sentence structure, sure. Spelling not so much.
So we’re spending hours with her asking me to spell words and then writing them down.
Bonus points: in Katie’s stories, science is awesome!
From somewhere, Katie acquired a copy of a Berenstein Bears book. She has lots of books. They come from everywhere. It ought to be pretty non-confrontational stuff — bears go to school, bears meet some bear conflict, bears resolve conflict through bear family unity.
When I read the book to Katie yesterday evening, one passage turned my vision red, boiled my blood, clenched my fists, and made me shake in the burning need to rant. For the bears had offended me and they must die. I am plotting their fuzzy death. Bears are a menace! You see:
Brother Bear, you see, is good at science and math, but is bad at language arts.
Sister Bear, on the other hand, is good at language arts but terrible at science and math.
Why? I thought. Why is Sister Bear good at spelling and reading and Brother Bear good at science and math, which presumably also needs spelling and reading? Because math is hard! We’re giving into gendered stereotypes! And Sister Bear is a girl.
I was coated in feminist rage. Why couldn’t Sister Bear be good at reading and science and math? Why does she have to suck at science and math? Is she not good enough? Is the teacher not giving her enough encouragement? And what does that mean, precisely? And why are you telling my daughter who is obsessed with how brains work and how much blood is in the human body* that Sister Bear sucks at math and science!
Sister Bear goes off to compete in a spelling bee, but in this book she decides to ditch the spelling bee progression right when she was winning because she would rather go play with her friends. Friends are awesome but hey, spelling bee! Father Bear, you see, gets guilt over pushing Sister Bear competitively to defeat her enemies with words and bathe in their spelling bee entrails. He decides he should back off instead. But would he get guilt over pushing Brother Bear? I bet not. No way, man.
Girl == go ditch out of succeeding, go play with your friends. Boy == KILL.
You suck, Berenstein Bears.
Grrr. I prefer stuff with Princesses. At least they get swords and stuff and have to go rescue the Prince from the evil witch. And hey! She would rather go see Despicable Me anyway because she wants a Minion. Not a stuffy. An actual yellow dude Minion.
* 10 gallons under extreme pressures. *SPRAY*
At Art Weekend 2010, I started working on the Knit Picks Critter Mitts T-Rex hand puppet. What better use for yarn is there but making awesome toys? Sure you can make socks and gloves and sweaters but you can also make hand puppets!
The first one came out well. He has a little ridge of spikes and big scary teeth and a big red mouth and little teeny tiny useless arms. He reminds me of T-Rex from Dinosaur Comics! (In fact, I may need to take more pictures and do a little photoshopping… he might be full of burgers! And atoms!)
I believe T-Rex needs a friend. One cannot just have T-Rex. The kit provides the yarn and instructions to make a triceratops. And he is orange so….
As you can see, Katie greatly appreciates T-Rex. She’s as scary as it is! RAR!
I have been fighting to get Katie interested in longer stories (books) for a year and a half now. This effort has been met with limited success: the world is full of too many interesting things to sit still for a story, even at night when winding down for bed. She is just too wiggly.
We have slowly been working through Roald Dahl’s “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” Katie had spurious interest in the story since it starts slowly. It takes almost 40 pages for Charlie to find the golden ticket in the second illicit candy bar in the store. But once the children started dying horribly*, Katie became intensely interested and then promptly pretended she was not interested at all.
This morning Katie was very very concerned that Charlie would be okay and not also meet some heinous fate and I told her we have to “read the book to find out what happens next.” And I cackled while she looked very put off that she would not get the answer. Yeah, we’ll finish this book as she pretends to hate the experience.
Other than my absolute favorites the Roald Dahl books, does anyone have any good recommendations of books about 150-175 pages in length for the 4-6 year olds? We have a bunch of the Disney fairy books but some of them are pretty badly written. I am still trying very hard to get Katie into the swing of a constant chunk of story/night and it’s amazing how important the writing is.
And I mean, hell, I have, what, 1500 books in the house? One does not get away with not reading books while living in a veritable library.
(As a complete aside, is Willy Wonka a gay character or the most gay character in children’s literature?)
* The children do not die horribly. They are merely rolled off-stage by Oompa-Loompas who come up with clever songs who mock their terrible and easily avoidable fates. But hey, Augustus Gloop goes off to a fudge folding machine. I’m sure that’s pleasant.
Over the years we’ve had a whole slew of very weird meltdowns but I have to say, Katie’s meltdown this evening over the silent k before n in words like “knack,” “knight,” and “knee.” She completely flipped out. Showing her the origins of the words (cniht for knight, cneow for knee) in the Old English dictionary just made it worse.
Sometimes living with Katie is like living with a David Foster Wallace character.
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Maybe someone on my friend’s list can answer this:
I have a four year old with a super active imagination, lots of dolls and stuffies. She is starting to get the hang of consistent rules and rulesets. What games — board games and rpg games — do you recommend for a little poo?
This weekend I got through…
- Vacuuming the house.
- Doing about seven hours of gardening. This included laying down 2 more bags of mulch, building an entire veggie garden (3×3 raised box), planting 36 vincas, 6 calibrochias, 1 overgrown lantana, 36 carrots, 3 cucumbers (which did not survive I don’t think), 2 tomatos, 2 jalapeno peppers, 2 basils, and 2 cilantro plants.
- Teaching myself enough of the basics of knitting to be truly dangerous.
- Knitting with a basic garter stitch, some boucle and some fun fur 4 feet of fuzzy, goofy scarf for Katie. I just can’t sit and watch a movie.
Meanwhile my parents came over and stripped 90% of the baby wallpaper off the walls in Katie’s room and put up chair rail in preparation of turning it from a nursery to a little girl’s room. This is sort of wimpy but the paper had to come down. Sooner or later, the bears and blocks must be upgraded to bright pink dancing fairies. (Sigh)
I am extremely sore.
Yesterday, Katie stole my brand new copy of Swashbucklers of the Seven Skies and flipped through it three times! She was very interested in the pictures.
She was very happy to see the game has:
- Pirates! Especially pirates.
She was very concerned the game did not have:
She was quite adamant that the game would only work with goblins. Other than that, she declared it “interesting” and then headed off to play with other things.
We took Katie to the Maryland Science Center on the Inner Harbor on the diagonal on the water from the National Aquarium in Baltimore. The Maryland Science Center is a hand’s on science museum focusing on dinosaurs, general Earth Sciences, Newtonian physics, (incredible amounts of) Biology, Space Sciences in cooperation with NASA and whatever special exhibits they are showing that season — right now, surviving Antarctica. My impressions:
All in all, we will return to the museum. It was accessible from 95, straight forward with parking, and lots of things to mess with. It was about the same size as the National Aquarium, so it’s a 4 hour museum, not a two day mega-haul like Air and Space down on the Mall. I want to look at what the benefits of being a member are and weigh if I want a family membership or not.
My tiny proto-biologist got out with a Cat in the Hat book that is an introduction to basic human anatomy, a second Cat in the Hat book with an introduction to Space Sciences, and a Discovery DVD on anatomy. (Katie is obsessed with how the human body works, and today’s organ was the lungs.)
Then I came home to resume my war. My Mom thinks I garden because it’s relaxing. I know I garden because I get to destroy my enemies, the weeds, with extreme justice. I’ve been working on it for the last month and I’ve actually de-garbaged it, pulled weeds, cut back plants, cut back the Rose Bush of Doom, planted more bulbs, and finally started laying down mulch. But right now I am out of mulch so I have been thwarted by reality. I don’t know what annuals are going to go into it this year. I haven’t thought that far. I am thinking things that grow big and aggressively instead of little sedate, timid things. And I am tempted by clematis on the side of the house just to see how insane the vine goes. It will need something to climb…
I’m doing a very small 3×3 vegetable garden with Katie Rose this year as an experiment in horticulture. It turns out Aerogarden has a vegetable seed-starter kit so we’re doing the daily observer-and-record cycle in the dining room while starting plants from seed. I find that I don’t care if I get a tomato out of it this year or not, but if Katie learns about how plants grow then it’s a score. After the seedlings move outside, the Aerogarden is going to be repurposed for cherry tomatoes.
It is very clear out so we’ve promised Katie Rose astronomy night. The Dob will go into the driveway and we’ll look at the Moon and see what else we can see…
One of Katie’s very first words was “Moon.” She’s been fascinated with the moon, and now Jupiter, Saturn, Venus and Mars, since she could point up at the sky and point out that there were holes up there through which light passes. We figured she was old enough to understand basic instructions, so we were bad and bought her a present.
We bought Katie her very first piece of serious scientific equipment, the Orion SkyQuest XT4.5 Dobsonian telescope. It’s an interesting scope because Orion advertises it as their starter/kids pack to get kids started. It costs just as much as a crappy refractor from the Mall but it’s a real scope that can do real scope-like things. And sure, she’s only 4, but one cannot be too little to have a telescope!
Here’s what we have learned in the whole 6 hours from owning this scope:
- It is an awesome scope for the price. The scope is only $200. Because a Dob is just a light bucket, Dobs are cheap. They have high mirrors – cost ratios. The one doesn’t have any electronics, but it is exceptionally well built, sturdy, and all the gears work like they have been greased with butter.
- It was easy to lift, easy to set up, and took about 5 minutes to get going and shooting things.
- Even without the mirrors properly aligned, I took it out, put it on the driveway, got it pointed at the Moon (in daylight!) and let Katie see the Moon through the eyepiece. This was a moment of extreme excitement. It wasn’t even a full Moon, or in the dark, or with one of our high-quality eyepieces.
- If I had this Dob, even without electronics, when I was a kid I would still be in the backyard.
- This is seriously making me consider one of the big Dobs with all the electronics and gears. We have a Mak-Cass and it is awesome but it is mostly for planetary viewing. The big Dobs will get you the best Hercules Globular Cluster you’ve ever seen where you can make out about 10,000 stars.
If you have a little kid and you want to get out and look at the planets and the Moon and some real easy to find deep field objects, this is a hell of a piece of starter equipment. It’s a ton of telescope for the price, and it’s good for Mom and Dad, too.
Katie would like all of you to know that she read Hop on Pop tonight with only minimal Mommy intervention helping her sound out words.
Before I know it, she’ll be reading through all our Terry Pratchett books.
For Katie’s birthday, I bought her the first set of four collected junior novels, each one depicting some adventure of one of the fairies of Pixie Hollow, the imaginary Disney universe for Tinkerbell. The general plan was to get her into the whole concept of reading books with chapters and stories too long to be resolved in a single evening yet be interesting enough to hold a four year old’s interest for multiple nights. This turned out to be highly succesful if Katie was allowed to pick the fairy — which she is.
Since I am now reading about this universe every night, a bit at a time, I have plenty of time to ponder Pixie Hollow. I realized, with the stories of baking fairies and serving fairies and laundry fairies and even entryway cleaning fairies, that Pixie Hollow is a very Victorian England Upstairs/Downstairs culture with rigidly set out life paths depending on where one is born with no hope for advancement. Only the true Upper Classes may go to the Mainland and interact with humans. The rest of the fairies must stay behind and serve.
The Tinkerbell movie revolves entirely around this theme: poor Tinkerbell discovers to her utter horror that she is forced forever to be working class as a pots and pans fairy, and no matter how hard she tries she cannot flee her caste. Sure, she is promoted to Upper Class when she makes for herself a role as a master engineer over a mere tinkering fairy, but it is not without great effort and recognition from the Queen.
This is utterly unlike the plight of two other fairies of the Pixie Hollow cosmos: the fairy Prilla and the fairy Vidia. Vidia is set up to be the “evil” fairy of the world, but Vidia is not actually evil. She rejects the rigid despotic monarchy of Queen “Ree” Clarion of Pixie Hollow and shows her disdain for the caste system that holds them all enslaved. And Prilla, well, Prilla has a unique talent which draws her automatically to the human world to keep children believing in fairies. Her friends keep giving her mundane fairy-like tasks to do but her heart is not in it.
While I sat on the bed reading Katie her stories, I began to put together the bloody and horrible revolution, hatched by Vidia and Prilla in Vidia’s sour plum tree where no one ever goes. From there, they explode with Prilla as the Charismatic face of the Revolution, explaining on the stumps and toadstools around Pixie Hollow how no fairy is lesser than any other and how they can all be free of their castes if they clap their hands and believe. Meanwhile, Vidia plans, and executes a horrible Night of the Long Knives where she does away with the Ministers of the Four Seasons in a bloody coup and unleashes the anger of the animal talent fairies and their beast army upon the unsuspecting High Nobility light fairies.
Then, as the war reaches its zenith and Pixie Hollow is torn by war and death, a proud Vidia and a woebegone Prilla watch as Queen Clarion, broken and dashed against the revolution, is forced to sign the peace treaty with harsh terms in her own blood. Then the monarchy is done away with, crowns are forgotten, Clarion drifts off to spend her days tending to Mother Dove, fairies are freed from their bonds of talents by birth! (to appear and become a laundry fairy — the horrors!) and Prilla takes the reins of government…
We are undecided if Over the Edge or FATE would make a better system for playing out the Bloody Fairy Revolution in Pixie Hollow.
How do you know a 4 year old lives in your house? The word “butt” becomes the funniest word in the world. Anything with “butt” affixed to it is instant comedy gold.
Pickle + Butt = PickleButt
Donut + Butt = DonutButt
Bunny + Butt = BunnyButt
Say loudly and fall over in a pile of giggles. Continue ad infinitum.