Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Halloween Non-Costumes

I am not a Mom who likes costumes. I don't sew costumes, I don't buy costumes; I just don't do costumes. Needless to say I don't get very excited about Halloween.

Around here, kids generally get to dress up twice, if they want to: once to go trick-or-treating, and again for the All Saints party. Felicity wanted to be a cow, and we even had a cow costume left over from Kwamai's duds that came with him from Wisconsin. But I can't find it anywhere. She wanted to Mary for All Saints day, and since I just (ahem) took down some blue curtains out of our guest room, I was all set for that. I pulled out her white dress which is ankle length, pinned a valence around her head, and viola -- she is the Blessed Mother.

And here she is, veil somewhat askew, galloping exuberantly on her way

to Bethlehem, with one of her best buddies as attendant (ok, so she doesn't look like Joseph...).

Kwamai has been dealing with a cold-gone-asthma so he is still a bit iffy about whether he will join in festivities tonight or tomorrow. He plans to be a ghost tonight (get the nice easy costume theme?) and Jesus tomorrow (he says it is so he can boss all the other saints around. I think we need to work on some Christology issues there...)

Monday, October 29, 2007


My genealogy research verifies quite well that Felicity has not the least drop of Italian blood in her. And yet she has really taken to "talking with her hands". Her favorite stance is the "two hands flung out on either side of her" position which emphasizes the end of her sentence.
So cute :)

Night School

I haven't quite figured out why, but it seems most of what could be seen as our academic learning and exploring happens at night around here. Of course there is learning constantly, but I mean particularly things that involve books. (My inherent bias shows!)

It might be because day time finds Kwamai expending energy a lot faster, and therefore he is in motion more. It is his time to be creative, to work on things on his own. It might also be because it is the time his friends are available to play, or the time when we are out exploring, erranding, working or what have you.

Tonight he used some measurement tools we got in a "learning sack" from the library. I read to him two very nice graphic "novels": one on Hercules' 12 labors and the other on King Arthur. He wanted me to read more, but my voice was shutting down. Then he went up for bed and listened to CD 5 of A Little History of the World. It was his second time through it; he keeps falling asleep before it finishes. He is up to the time of Galileo.

As I was busy reading to Kwam, Erol got to read to Felicity. "Just one more," she kept saying. She is a tiny learning machine, constantly taking in everything around her.

Evening learning suits me fine, as I tend to feel more settled at night, myself. I may need to continue to get books on CD for Kwamai to fall asleep to, however, as that is working so well for him.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Felicity's Order

Felicity has many of her favorite things in order here. Lined end to end are various statues and figurines. Lined up on the far right are the team of firefighters. And of course her favorite books scattered on the couch, which the former seem to be guarding.

I was just remembering when Kwamai used to line up all his cars "just so" as well.

I also have noticed that Felicity counts almost exactly the way Kwamai used to: she will count to 12 and then say "14, 16, 19" and repeat these over and over the rest of the way. Is this some standard small-child formula?

Friday, October 26, 2007

A Sweet First With a Sweet Girl

Tonight I read Cinderella to Felicity for the first time. Shall we all say it together? Awwwwwww...

She, of course, loved it. It is so funny how, without any coaching or much example from me, she loves pink, frilly & sparkly clothes, fancy shoes, purses and jewelry.

And of course, all of her toys are female.

She's our girly girl!

To Quote Felicity

"Do you know where my black horse is so that I can offer a ride to my little people who live in Pittsburgh or California?" (she said as she picked up some of Kwamai's garbage and proclaimed "I'm going to throw this away in the garbage can, ok?")

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Kwamai, Bursting into Song: I Created The Cosmos

Yes, burst he does.

Lunch time, for some reason, seems to bring out the songwriter in Kwamai. He goes for loud and long, with lots and lots of verses. Today while I was getting lunch together I grabbed a pen and paper to jot down some of the lines I was able to (speed, memory, and the inability to write while laughing were all obstacles).

The song title today was "I Created The Cosmos". He sang it probably 25 times before he asked me what "cosmos" meant. I missed over half of it, but here are some of the lines of the song. Get the scene of him standing in front of the mirror, singing loudly and repeating most of these lines several times.

My eyebrows are made out of silk.
I made the cosmos.
My shoes are made out of cotton.
My whole entire nose is bright red.
I am so weak I cannot lift up anything.
I am so made out of a platform.
I am the cosmic man.
My Mom is younger than me even if I'm her kid.
She stopped growing and I just keep growing so I'm an old bitty.
And I can become any age I want.
My teeth are made out of hay.
But they are so hard they can bite anything and break it to bits.
I created the cosmos.
I am the cosmic man.


It is always interesting to me to hear others' perceptions of my children. Of course, others do not know them as closely as we do at home, but sometimes an "outside" perception is a good check on the process of growth and change that is sometimes easier to see when you don't see someone every day.

Last night at a potluck, a gentleman who often sits behind us at daily Mass (bless his heart) commented that he thought Felicity was "a very active girl". He also mentioned, with a knowing smile (I think he has 10 or 11 kids of his own) that she did not seem to have a lot of "natural piety". I can see why he says these things. Somehow, though, I tend to see Felicity's tendency to run around at Mass (and crash into the curtain by the Eucharistic chapel) as a little blip of a stage because she is two. I have always thought of her as a quiet child. And natural piety? The one who has spent months carrying statues of Mary around and loves looking at holy cards? Is it piety, or a love of people's faces, or some of each? She will sometimes kneel quietly, but those times are getting shorter and less frequent, come to think of it.

Kwamai, on the other hand, is perceived as the thoughtful, intelligent, helpful young man. Oh, he is, to be sure, I don't deny that. I guess I should be glad that he doesn't run around yelling or singing about excrement at the top of his lungs in public like he does at home! I have noticed, though, that while my concern about him being noisy at gatherings is more in the forefront of my mind, usually he is conscious of the need to stay quiet, while Felicity will be singing away, completely clueless of her surroundings. Felicity has also taken to screaming out her desires if they are not immediately forthcoming.

It's all ok. But it is interesting to me to catch myself pigeon-holing them. If I am trying to instill in them that all of life is a learning process, then I guess I had better be open to shifting my perceptions of them, and continue to learn about them, too!

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Literal Felicity

It is so funny to listen to Kwamai and Felicity talk to each other. Felicity's language skills are to the point where there isn't a lot of noticeable difference between her sentences and his sentences, except this thing of using completely literal meanings of everything. She doesn't understand the more advanced nuances, double meanings, humor, etc. that Kwamai does. Everything just means exactly what the words literally convey.

So last night they were both in the bathtub and my goal was to get them out, so I opened the tub drain. Kwamai disappointedly saw the water receding, so he said to her "Look, Felicity, the water!" She dutifully looked down into the water, looked up at him and said, "Yes, I see that Kwamai!"

They almost qualify as a stand-up comedy act. At least we can assume her self-esteem gets quite the boost when everyone is always laughing and smiling whenever she says something.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Happy Two and a Half!

I'm up way too late, but as it is now October 20th I thought I should wish Miss Felicity a happy half birthday! She is now two and a half!

Do you think it's time we stop calling her "Baby"?

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Kwamai's Contemplations

Today as we ate lunch, Kwamai questioned me at length about how it could be possible that God always existed. Everything is made by something, he asserted, so who made God? He decided that if he were God, he would tell everyone all they need to know about God so they could get it.

I probably should do a lot more listening and attempt fewer explanations. Anyway, as I was trying to score discussion points and sort out how I was going to delve into Philosophy of God 101, Kwamai decided to go play with the neighbor boys.

And people say that being a mother is not intellectually challenging!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Felicity Looks Up to Her Big Brother

I thought it was time for a silly picture. Yes, that is a tambourine Felicity is wearing around her waist. Fortunately it came off :). She isn't actually beginning to levitate, but it sure looks that way!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

A Little History of the World

I read about this book somewhere (it's where I read about everything, you know). I thought it would be worth checking out from the library and that perhaps I could even interest Kwamai in it.

I got it on CD, to give my vocal chords a rest. Last night I got the idea that it might be a good way for him to settle down for sleeping, which is always a challenge. We listened to six chapters last night, until finally he said "I think this is getting to be a bit much!" at which time I clicked off the CD player and he dropped off to sleep. This morning I asked him a bit about whether he liked it and if he could remember various mentions; I imagined he'd had a hard time listening for such a long time. He first told me he wanted to listen to more tonight, and then proceeded to even quote the author at impressive length for his age. Tonight we listened to three more chapters -- less because it was already late when we started.
This book starts with prehistoric times and marches through all of world history in a way that is engaging (obviously) to children, but also for adults. I was reminded of Egypt, Hammurabi, the Phoenicians, ancient Greece, and how a lot of it weaves in and out of Biblical history as well. Kwamai made sure Erol was in on listening tonight, despite the late hour.
I have a feeling we will finish the whole book, and that he will remember details of world history for a long time to come.

Zoo News

Today we took in the Pittsburgh Zoo for the first time; what great fun! I've not seen that many zoos in my life, but rank this one highest. It was amazing how many animals we were able to see mere feet -- sometimes inches -- from our faces. The habitats and viewing areas are really nicely done. And the zoo has not been decimated by animal rights activists as is rumored of the Henry Vilas Zoo in Madison. Of course, that zoo is free. That might explain why there's almost nothing left of it.

Anyway, Felicity was very excited to see the animals, and only became frightened upon entering the elephant house. This is much better than our last two zoo experiences. Even at the Good Zoo, she was a bit jittery. I find myself increasingly interested in nature, which I have to attribute to Kwamai's interest rubbing off on me. My unfeigned, but consciously expressed, interest fueled Kwamai's completely uninhibited glee at seeing every exhibit. Until, I should say, we came across playgrounds, and it was getting towards the time to head for home, and I firmly suggested we see the kangaroos. "Do we have to," he moaned. He then proceeded to jump over the roped-off area (it was easily done, it was kind of a walk-through exhibit). I reacted as if he'd just jumped into a lions den, I think! I probably did far more to scare the poor creatures. But the zoo staff chimed in simultaneously with me to get him back on the path. Nothing like a little excitement.

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Playing Pals

Kwamai and Felicity are becoming more and more each other's preferred playing pal. Fortunately Kwamai reserves his rough play for the boys who live to the rear of us. He likes playing with the next door girls, except when they have other girl friends over. He no longer tolerates playing Barbies, and doesn't like to waste his play time watching movies with them, either. I figured it would eventually happen that his one-year-older female best pal wasn't his best pal anymore, as their interests get more gender-specific. (Apologies, I suppose, to those who don't believe gender differences exist.)

So, as I was saying. Kwamai likes playing with Felicity because she is still fairly easy to order around. Felicity likes playing with him because he takes charge with creative ideas that she can play out. It is so fun to watch them lost in a world of make-believe together. And Felicity is getting good at initiating blasting off in a rocket ship or setting up a store or exploring a new planet.

She is currently enamored with Barney. We had Barney's Firehouse DVD out from the library last week, so occasionally I would overhear her playing "firefighter," and even heard her singing the "Stop, Drop and Roll" song to her dollies.

Last night they had campsites set up in the living room, and piece by piece emptied the entire toy box onto the couch (this, during the rosary). They also worked together to put it back in, thankfully. Today they played with the bag of instruments we checked out from the library.

Friday, October 5, 2007

A Wow Moment

So, we began our short prayer time this morning, using Children's Daily Prayer. I got to the responsorial psalm, and Kwamai stopped me to interject his thought. "Mama," he said, "what does Jesus have to do with souls?" I thought for a minute, and asked him to clarify what he meant. He went on to elucidate a truly profound thought: "Ok, we say 'God lives in my heart.' But those two things are extremely different, aren't they? God, and my heart?"

Instantly, a conversation from my RCIA instruction went through my mind regarding a former atheist who came into the Church and marvelled at receiving Holy Communion for the first time. His quote was, "Can you believe it? You get to have God in your mouth."

I affirmed Kwamai's insight but assured him the coolest thing was that God made him in order to live in his heart.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Do I Get Humor Points or Mommy Demerits?

The other day on the way into Mass one of the young priests, for some odd reason, asked Kwamai as they stood in front of the chapel, "can you drive me home today?" As he passed me I quipped "If you live up a wall, I'm sure he could!"

He probably felt sorry for the kid with the mean, sarcastic Mommy.

At least I was smiling!

And the Word Became Flesh

Tonight we got our second official welcome by the TORs and TOR aspirants to visit "Mary in the Yard" any time we want. The young man who was living there over the summer had granted us free roaming rights, but since others have been back I've been a bit hesitant to just wander into their fenced off yard to visit their big statue of Mary. We went tonight, though. Felicity and I said a Haily Mary together, and then she looked at me and said "And the Word became flesh." I didn't quite get the context right away, and said "and the world became fresh?" And then it dawned on me that she was reciting the line from the Angelus, where we hear the Hail Marys prayed on an almost daily basis at the Noon Mass.

Felicity's Letters

Lately Felicity has been very interested in learning more about what those funny letters everywhere actually do. I started singing the Phonics Song to her ("the B says buh, the B says buh, every letter makes a sound, the B says buh": to the tune of The Farmer in the Dell) It gets repetitive, but now she comes up to me with a letter (on a card) and says "Sing this letter, Mama!" We have a political sign in front of our house right now for our friend Mr. HERNON, and she insists that he has a zero, not an O in his name.