Thursday, May 31, 2007

Late Night Reading

Last night Kwamai and I read Cells by Michael George as our introduction to the excitement of microbiology. It was very fascinating to both of us, primarily because it is like a giant picture book of beautiful photos of cells under microscope (there certainly is an adjective that covers that thought, just can't come up with it right now!) and has just enough text to explain basic facts.

There are other books in this same series which I think we might check out as well (Glaciers, the Sun, Volcanoes, Water, Desert, Clouds, Rain Forest, Coral Reef, Mars and the Moon to be specific).

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Maybe We Should Keep Cat Chow in the Fridge

Kwamai comes tearing into the house, and I hear rummaging in the refrigerator.

Me: "No snacks right now, it's nearly dinner time!"
K: "I want pepperoni!!
Me: "We don't have any. And we're having din.."
K: "No, it's not for me! It's for the cat!"

I explain how cats generally shouldn't eat pepperoni, and he races back outside.

K: "My mom says not to feed the cat pepperoni."

We don't have a cat, by the way, but there are a few cats that roam the neighborhood. I'm sure if the feeding expidition starts in earnest, there'll be a crowd at our door.


After describing his interest well enough for me to find the right lable, Kwamai informed me this morning he wants to become a microbiologist.

In fact, he's outside right now doing field research.

And I've just requested a half-dozen titles or so from the library for us to peruse.

He's also started the ClickNRead phonics program today, although he gets so daunted by anything that records his mistakes that he gets turned off from trying. Sigh.

Pentecost Weekend

We spent this last weekend at the Knights of Columbus State convention in Cleveland. True to form, Kwamai was very upset about having to go, and then very upset about having to leave. On Friday evening we arrived in time to have dinner in the mall attached to the hotel, and then Erol took Kwamai and Felicity for a swim in the pool. Saturday, I took Kwamai and Felicity to the Cleveland Science Center. Fortunately there was a children's area that both of them enjoyed enough to enable us to spend quite a bit of time there. Kwamai socialized in the giant ball pit while Felicity shoved plastic balls through tubing, played on a "big red car" and slid down the slide as her favorites.

I noted one interesting moment involving Kwamai and the ball pit. There was a lever (see Kwamai seated next to it here) which, when pulled down, caused balls to be dropped down out of a bucket overhead into the ball pit.

One grandmother came along and found the lever rather hard to pull, and she mentioned to her grandchild that it must be broken, and she went off to ask the staff for assistance. In the meantime, Kwamai told the child, "it's not broken, you just pull it like this" and proceeded to yank on it with all his might, and the balls dropped out. The staff person walked the grandma back over and explained how it works, only to find the bucket closing up again. I just found it interesting that the adult presumed it should be easy to work, while Kwamai thought nothing of needing to give it his full steam to operate.

Another adventure of the Cleveland trip was discovering mayflies. These creatures were everywhere, and were responsible for the outdoor watertoys area being closed at the Science Center. I was told they lay their eggs and then die by the next day. Kwamai was extremely sad at this news, and mourned the poor mayflies all the way back to the hotel. We still need to research them further to learn the whole story, but if you enlarge this picture, you can see them all over this window:

Felicity, for her part, did fine. While we haven't done a longer car trip in awhile, this was the first trip she did not ask to be nursed during the driving!

Upon return home, we went to a Pentecost party given by some friends on the occasion of the Confirmation of three of their daughters. A highlight of the evening was singing various tunes together. Felicity enjoyed that and clapped along and tried out a few of the instruments that one guest brought along. Kwamai took a break from his socializing (when I went to check on him at one point a boy smilingly told me "Kwamai's beating us all up, and it's FUN!" -- promptly followed by Kwamai: "I'm not really doing that, Mama!") for a tutorial on the djembe drum like this one:

What natural talent! The drum owner encouraged me strongly to get him into music as it helps him to focus and calm himself. Perhaps I should look into it. Then I'd just need to find an outlet for him to play... perhaps children's choir!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

As Hubby Says, She's Sharp

The other day I just before getting ready to go to Mass, I was chatting away to Felicity about how fortunate we were to be able to go to Mass all the time, every day. I told her that some people don't have that chance, and that some people don't even have a parish with a regular priest in it, and wouldn't it be good if we said a prayer for the people who don't have priests?

Felicity, who was apparently taking it all in, said "Maybe they have Bishops."

Happy 8th Anniversary

Ok, sorry to burst into the Kwamai and Felicity show with the parents' event, but yesterday was our 8th wedding anniversary. So, our annual picture, this year including a few passersby on the street...

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Of Jokes, Hallways and Adoration

The knock-knock jokes have taken on a life of their own at lunch time now. Felicity is very pattern-oriented, and to her, lunch time around the table means knock-knock jokes. Kwamai coaches her frequently on exactly what to say, so she has taken as her standard punchline "....smack in the face" with a cute giggle to follow. So: Knock-knock, who's there? Wiggles. Wiggles who? Wiggles smack in the face! At least she has the formula down quite well.

I can tell she grasps grammar concepts well. We have a video called Sign With Your Baby which Felicity likes to watch (Kwamai like it, too, in his day). It is really for parents to learn signing, but it has cute babies in it, which is good enough for her. But when I ask her "Do you want Sign With Your Baby?" she'll answer "yes, I want sign with my baby." She has also taken the cue from the babies in the video to begin noticing every airplane that goes overhead. I guess she figures that's what babies are supposed to do :)

Kwamai, for his part, is in what other parents assure me is a stage. I've started referring to it to him as the hallway between being a little kid and a kid. He wants more responsibility and freedoms, and yet he wants his life to be non-stop fun. And everything, everything, meets with his disapproval -- superficially and at first, at least.

An upside is that on his landscape right now is more of a desire to do things with me, as opposed to Erol. But it really needs to be just me and him, no Felicity involved. Last night he went with me to Adoration for about 15 minutes. I have the 8pm Wednesday hour, and while I didn't recommend he come with me for that, I zoomed him down to St. Peter's for a few minutes before I needed to leave. I told him that Jesus was very happy about him coming to see Him for a few minutes. But Kwamai didn't quite get how Jesus would be excited about it, because Kwamai said he was the one excited about it.

Sigh, it's good for me to keep in mind that transitions are hard, and childhood is really just one big transition. Always a new adventure.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Mother's Day Smiles

Could not possibly be happier.

Kwamai's Spiritual Ponderings

Occasionally Kwamai and I get into "mini-conversations", usually in the car, and usually within a few blocks of home, that I truly wish we could carry on longer. Patience, I know. He's 5.

Today Kwamai told me that while he believes in Jesus, he doesn't believe, yet, that Jesus is alive. He said it just that way, indicating that he has every anticipation of believing at some point, when his experience or understanding catches up with his expectation or desire. He wants a Jesus he can see and hear and play soccer with, I think. That, to him, is being alive.

He asks me how I know Jesus is alive, and I tell him I know based on my experience of Him. Of course, developmentally he sees things in a very concrete way. I think this is normal. And it kind of excites me to see what will happen when he is more able to abstract a bit.

It also makes me want to get reading a book I purchased some time ago called The Religious Potential of the Child.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Playing, Prayers, and Saints

Kwamai's doings these days focus a lot on playing outside. Today he and Mary Joy were on our front porch trying to hawk their wares (selling his toy cars to the highest bidder or offering them as prizes to various contests). Of course, as there were no passers-by, they simply shouted loud enough to be heard by the neighbors still in their houses. I wonder sometimes if it is nature or nurture that causes Kwamai and his best next-door friend to be so much alike. The cars came out of hibernation as he was watching a monstor truck video I got for him from the library. He had them all lined up "just so" this morning to simulate the crushed cars the trucks drive over.

Felicity's speech still leaves us a bit amazed now and then. Physically she is 2 years old, but she talks almost like a 5 year old, minus her little girl vocal chords and some of the themes she talks about. She loves her liturgy. The other day she started singing "Sanctus... sanctus..." but her favorite song right now is Hail Holy Queen. She'll sing the "Salve Regina" part over and over again, and ask me to sing the rest. We sang it at Mass today and she was bouncing up and down joyfully in my arms with her arms lifted up high. We often go to visit "Mary in the Parking Space" (see this post for the visual), and she has taken to spontaneously praying a Hail Mary or two when we stop.

This reminds me that we have done the Saint of the Year for everyone in our family. (You can click on the link and get picked by a saint yourself!). Felicity's patron is St. William of Vercelli. He was a monk of the middle ages with an intense devotion to Mary. No mistakes there. Kwamai got a heavy hitter -- St. Luke! Erol's is St. Agnes of Monteclare, and mine is St. Eligius (patron of metalworkers, and of those who need to be refined, I guess). I am always asking the intercession of our special patrons throughout the day, especially St. William and St. Luke. I picture these four saints getting together in heaven and planning special graces for our family. And St. William has helped in getting Felicity calmed and off to sleep any number of times!

Friday, May 11, 2007

A Crazy Week

I don't recall a week in which we've had such a whirlwind in quite a while.

Monday: well, it was such a blur that I don't even remember now. It did involve going to the library and visiting the park near the Cathedral, though. And we did have to go and pick up Erol from his van because

Tuesday: was election day, and Erol worked at it. We all got up early (Erol much more than any of the rest of us!), and Kwamai and Felicity accompanied me to Bridgeville for my Dr. Wang appointment. We made it back in time for noon Mass, then met Erol for lunch. Kwamai stayed with Erol awhile afterwards while Felicity and I did some errands. Then Kwamai was off to Catechesis for his last Tuesday until the fall, and Felicity and I went to visit Mrs. Juliano. Then we were off to the May Crowning at church, followed by cake. Kwamai, Felicity and I then went to wait for Erol to finish with his election business, and explored the large parking lot and nearby puddles. I think we eventually all went to sleep that night.

Wednesday: The youngers and I again got up early to take our car in for review/repair, some follow up from the episode of March of being backed up into by an SUV. We were spared the walk back from Mass by our neighbor who happened to be at the same Mass. Felicity and Kwamai both love the steps, but it was a hot day. We were also spared the walk back down by the same neighbor, who was heading down to pick up kids from school and offered a ride at just the right time.

Thursday: Our reason for getting up early this yesterday was to go to School of Community, and to drop off an old bread machine to a girl heading home from University whose mother's friend belongs to the same Unschooling yahoo group as myself, and has a son who likes to take things apart. We whizzed up to Mass after SC, Kwamai and Felicity had very busy play schedules outside while I worked on the usual keeping household chaos at bay. We went up to the University after dinner for the Lay Apostles rosary. Kwamai mostly played outside and Felicity investigated works of art. Felicity had a mysterious barf on the way to the car, but a bath was had by all and bed soon followed.

Friday: No noon Mass on campus today due to graduation tomorrow, so we went to Holy Rosary for early Mass. Felicity amazingly noticed that their statue of Mary holding baby Jesus was not in the same place it was when we visited there almost six weeks ago. Sure enough, they moved it to the front of the church for their May Crowning. We picked up our food coop order and had breakfast in enough time to get to the chiropractor, where all three of us had our bones rearranged. Kwamai's cough and wheeze have all but disappeared. It will be interesting to me to see if the heightened allergy season in fall brings on another round of it for him. Dr. Ross was concerned upon hearing the Felicity had taken a tumble down some steps (see this post) and was subsequently coughing at night, something she is still persisting at. Hopefully her crack will help her! Upon returning home, Kwamai played with the Cutlers as I had arranged and Felicity and I went back to Bridgeville this afternoon for more needling for me. She sat next to me for the whole hour or so and munched her snacks and dug through my purse and hardly made more than a peep the whole time, except to comment to me every once in a while. She napped on the way there and on the way back, which is something she needed given all of our getting up early we've done this week.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Ack! My Daughter Talks Like a Local!

Or should I say a "locoo".

Today as Felicity climbed up on a chair and wanted to get closer to the table, she exclaimed, "Mama, I need scooted!"

It is said that if Hamlet had lived in the Ohio Valley, he would have said simply "or not". Must, must I say, keep working on the Queen's English at home!

Sunday, May 6, 2007

St. John Vianney, Pancakes and Doughnuts

Kwamai had a big weekend. Today was a Knights of Columbus pancake breakfast at St. Peter's, so Erol was there working all morning. Kwamai got up (the first thing I heard this morning was "Papa! I got up before my alarm!") to go with Erol by 7 to get the breakfast fixings ready.

We did the Saturday night vigil for Mass, so Felicity and I managed to have a little sleep in. But today was also the second meeting of the new St. John Vianney club at Holy Family, a place for boys to hear about the seminary and priesthood, and to hang out with other boys. AND it was doughnut Sunday. So, Kwamai decided he would leave one event to attend the other, and then return back to the first. He did, however, need quite a bit of parental assistance in holding to his decision as first he didn't want to leave St. Peter's and then he didn't want to leave Holy Family.

As I came into Malara Hall at the close of the Doughnut Sunday/St. John Vianney club meeting, what I found was Kwamai in the middle of a group of boys (and one girl), doing various karate kicks (all without actually touching anyone, thankfully), and everyone pretending to be defending themselves against him. I realized at that moment that Kwamai has a lot of potential as a leader. It's just a matter of harnessing that potential! (:-o)

Friday, May 4, 2007

Recipe for Attention and Laughs

Take one Kwamai
Add one Whoopie Cushion
Mix among a variety of unsuspecting "participants"

This is what we had brewing this afternoon. Kwamai did some chore for the neighbors and his payment was a whoopie cushion. Soooo fitting for those who are still brought to tears via laughter over potty jokes.

Then, overheard through the back door tonight:

Neighbor calling his 4 year old son: Gus! Gus! Gus?! Gus, answer me the first time I call you!
Gus: But, look, Kwamai has a whoopie cushion!

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Knock, Knock

Yet another skill in which Kwamai has tutored his sister is that of telling knock-knock jokes. Today at lunch she even got to the point of making up her own. Now granted, neither of them really grasp the Knock Knock as an art form. I believe her joke went like this:
Knock Knock
Who's there?
Papa Who?
Papa Cutler.
It's a start, anyway. And besides, if she laughs, we all laugh with her.