Thursday, January 21, 2010

"Follow Every Rainbow..."

Katie accompanied me to the dentist for the first time yesterday morning, as I wanted her to observe the cleaning process in preparation for her own visits (probably next year). Usually she stays with Amie while I go, but she is old enough now to sit quietly and watch and to understand the procedure. Indeed, she sat on a little padded window seat the whole time, and she seemed to enjoy herself. I am determined that Katie will not share my anxiety with respect to dental visits, and I am also determined that she will realize that routine doctor and dental exams are part of caring for one's well-being and that they are appointments to look forward to. My dental hygienist, Jan, even gave Katie her own new toothbrush and let her pick out a toy. Katie absolutely LOVES her new toothbrush. She loves brushing her teeth anyway, and always asks to do it. Going upstairs last night and tonight, she proudly was talking about "the new toothbrush my dentist gave me." I was teasing her yesterday on the car ride home that she got to pick out a toy---I teased, good-naturedly: "You even got a toy! I was the one who got my teeth cleaned and I didn't even get a toy!" Katie chuckled a little and replied, "But you got floss." My daughter often has a response for everything. :-) I love her so much.

I wasn't sure how she would do in terms of me being occupied with my mouth open much of the time, but she really handled herself and the situation wonderfully. This is my 5th cleaning since her birth, and I loved having her with me for the first time. I was scheduled for x-rays but asked to postpone them until next year due to my pregnancy. Jan poked around though and said my teeth are looking hopefully there is no cavity festering that we weren't able to catch. Let's hope not.
After the dentist, we came home and the rain began to woosh outside. I have a little thing I do every January to remember my Uncle Eric, who passed away in 2007. He and I share a favorite film, The Sound of Music, and so I always watch it within a week or so of the anniversary of his passing. Some of my mom's side of the family actually went to Austria before I was born---lucky!!!! It is my dream to visit Austria and to take the official Sound of Music tour and to buy my own dirndl (a traditional Austrian dress) and so forth. Maybe someday... So The Sound of Music is one of many passions in life we share. We played "So Long, Farewell" at his memorial service, and every time I even begin to hear the song I cry. I sing every song from the score to Katie except for that one, because my throat chokes up too much every time.

The scene in the film in which the Von Trapp children sing "So Long, Farewell" is so poignant to me now.

Many of you know from either attending or reading about Katie's first birthday party that the theme was "My Favorite Things"---also a song from The Sound of Music. That was the first song I ever sang to her that first night in the hospital together, and I wanted her to feel covered in a philosophy of optimism and positive, happy thinking.

We watched The Sound of Music together yesterday. This was Katie's first official viewing. She has napped other times or not been too aware, but she followed along yesterday. It is a long film, so we took a break to make some peanut butter cookies and we also colored for part of the time. We brought out Uncle Eric's picture from the bookshelf and we talked a little about him. We set the picture on the coffee table so that he could watch it with us, in a manner of speaking.
Today we had an extraordinarily lazy morning listening to the rain and wind. I finished My Life in France, taking the time to read in bed about Julia Child while Katie finished her night's sleep.

Around noon we dressed, played a bit in the rain in our boots and went over to Amie and Boppa's for a cooking session. My mom was working on a split pea and leek soup with tomato pistou, and then we both made a banana cake together. Soups have been sounding so tasty, and my mom has been finding some absolutely delicious recipes. I took some home, and it was excellent.

Katie and I like to learn words on her magna-doodle. We have been teaching her to sight-read some words, and she can now read: "Katie" "Mommy" "Daddy" "No" "Joy" and "Amie." We have tested her many times, and she definitely knows them. She has also proved that she can spell some of those without seeing the word in front of her. We think she can also read "Yes" but for some reason she sometimes claims not to know it, so we aren't counting it as a word she can read yet. We are also working on the following words: cozy, pa, Boppa, sippy. She seems to know these inconsistently, so we hope to firm them up by next week. It appears she may know other words as we pause and let her fill in words as we point to them when we read to her, and she always fills them in. However, she may have just memorized the stories---and to be valid, testing the words has to be done out of context.
I can't wait to give her instruction in phonics, which, to me, is much more of a legitimate reading skill than is sight-reading. Only a background in phonics (coupled with some knowledge of roots) allows someone to figure out a totally new word in context---and that, to me, is true reading ability. However, sight-reading is an important start, and I am proud of her accomplishment for sure. Some words in English can only be known through sheer recognition, and so word-memory ability is also a significant step in her education. I'm just chomping at the bit to give her all the fun stuff. :-)
No doubt it will be interesting for her to grow up with two teachers, and more importantly, two people who absolutely love to learn and read and study new subjects just for fun. We hope that we always make learning fun for her... We really believe that if learning can be creative and fun, she will develop a lifelong love of studying, reading, and seeking out things to challenge her mind, just like we do. We don't want her to feel that learning is any kind of drudgery, even though we will in time let her know how high our expectations are with respect to her development of a personal work ethic. There are so many learning strategies we want to use with her that, as teachers, we were not able (for various reasons) to use in our classrooms, and that is the truly thrilling part of homeschooling!