First Reading Lesson

I did lesson one in the Distar book with Natasha tonight. I think she wasn’t really very interested, but the premium mama-time was too valuable to pass-up.

I saw right away the difficulty resulting from of teaching letters before sounds (something the introduction expounds on, eloquently, though I honestly don’t know how to avoid it: “You, there, Grandma! Quit telling the girl her alphabet!” I mean, really!)

Natasha made both the mistakes the introduction describes: wanting to say letter names rather than sounds, and (at one point) exclaiming, “M! That starts with mouse!”

What ended up working well was describing names, as opposed to the sounds they make. I used kitty as an example: “Its name is cat, but it says ‘meow.’ Yes, this is an ’em,’ but is says ‘mmmmm,’ and that’s what we’re using right now.” The analogy seemed to work for her, but the “say it fast” game didn’t go smoothly at first.

I think we’ll repeat lesson 1 before we go on to lesson 2. Tomorrow, I hope. She almost seemed to get the idea of things toward the end, but I didn’t want to hammer things into the ground on our first day.

Mobile Boy

Elisha is definitely crawling now, knee and hand, even on the new floor. Good time to have the floor clear enough to keep clean.

If I haven’t said so already, he has left the baby-look behind and is taking on an alert, cheerful personality that is written all over his maturing features.

He’s also taking solids with gusto. I’m hoping we’ll have the table in by tomorrow, and with it his eating seat. So far we’ve been sitting on the floor together, which only works as long as he isn’t distracted. Thankful for the increased taking of solids though– his night-waking has been just killing me.

A dream

Natasha was telling me this morning about her dreams, and I managed to record this much:

“I had a dream about you got married in that big dress. It was pretty pretty. And I was not there, and Melody was not there. Only Dad was there.”

Looking for Answers

Currently Reading
Discover Your Child’s DQ Factor: The Discipline Quotient System
By Greg Cynaumon
see related

I bought this book (among others) when we had our foster boy.

I returned to it this week when I began to see my children and myself in my memories of its stories (“My kid just won’t stop X no matter what I try.”)

The main problem is that I think I know exactly what is needed (more one-on-one cuddle/reading/interaction time mainly) and am too stretched by our current living situation to do more than what I am. So my present methodology seems limited to putting out the occasional fire. Or trying to. Or ignoring it.


I have my kitchen back, but there is still very little peace in this place. Sleep schedules are skewed, and tension is higher than normal from the tiredness and lack of order.

If anything this experience has solidified my insistence that we will never build our own house. If we ever feel the need for that much “custom,” someone else will make it and have a *deadline.* And we will not live there before it is done.

Night-time Prayers

Thank you, God, as this day ends
For my family and my friends.
Taking time to sit and pray,
Thank you God for this great day.

This little prayer, followed by some episode-specific praise, comes at the end of each Boz story. The girls have been watching their Boz DVDs back to back for a couple days, now.

Tonight Natasha sat up in bed with her fingers interlaced and said, “I’m going to pray tonight.”

That was just the coolest to me. I thought to myself, “This is why you buy Christian movies: to let the kids see the type of “normal” you want them to internalize.”

This self-initiation was mostly so exciting because we’re about as consistent with bedtime prayers as we are with bedtime teeth-brushing. Neither is every night.
It wasn’t so much the repeating of the formula that was neat to me (though that was sweet in its own way) but the practice of adding something unique of their own at the end.

Natasha’s latest (as I wrote that last line): “Thank you for rocks and neat toys to play with.”

Natasha is Four!

Well, we didn’t get around to making a cake today, like we’d planned, but now think I’d like to do a cat cake (the kind you make with two 9″-rounds), so I’m glad we didn’t make it yet.

We aren’t having a party until Sunday (if that– depends on the flooring, and we still haven’t invited anyone but Mom and Dad. The floor situation has made the atmosphere here just generally stressful.) but we’ll probably just make cupcakes for that, and use whatever left-over cake we have.

I wanted to do something special on her birthday. We were going to start reading, but she was up late last night, and wanted to nap, so we put that off for a day too.

Mom and Dad called at bedtime to sing “Happy Birthday” to Natasha. She wasn’t sure how to respond, really, but passed-on a coached “thank you” quite smoothly. Then Mom asked her how it felt to be four, and whether she was growing.

“I been trying to,” she answered seriously, “but my skin won’t grow.”

See what happens when you teach children new words?

They use them.

“Melody needs to lift up her countenance,” Natasha said matter-of-factly this morning.
Melody’s current M.O. is to dissolve in cries and screams when she’s scolded for misbehavior. It’s gotten real old really fast.


I made sure I used the same phrase on Natasha the next time I had occasion to. I don’t want her to think she’s… better than her sister, as if Melody needs to do something she (Natasha) doesn’t.

And it’s Done.

I took Maestro to the shelter as soon as Jay got home with the warm car.

What tipped the scales was when I discovered an attitude-ladden Maestro lying impassively on top of a screaming Elisha in his crib.

I dumped the cat out, and told him, “That’s the end. That’s what I needed to know.”

My decision only felt confirmed when the girls came to say goodbye to him, and he slapped away their gentle pets. And then (this really ticked me) while Natasha sat quietly beside him, talking to me, he began to swipe and bite at her nearby hand.

All we can guess is that the “adult personality change” I’ve read about (yes, he’s neutered) hit him really hard at the same time as the flooring project disrupted his world and pushed him over the edge.

But at least this way Natasha was reminded at the last about the why we were doing it. She was sad when I first told her, and said, “But he’s nice now.”

Her responses seemed unformed and hard to nail-down, really. Her first response was, “Can we get a dog?” and when told that now wasn’t the time she became sad Maestro was leaving.

She snuggled into my shoulder a little while before going out to say goodbye. I think Maestro’s lack of affection helped this whole process.

Pets Teaching, Pets Leaving

I was just recently reviewing what having Maestro (and, earlier, Kricket) has taught (or allowed me to teach) my kids.

  • Having two resilient and transparent self-advocaters has shown the girls a few things.
    • Gentleness
    • Non-violent (and non-screaming) self advocating.
      • Both M and K will/would put up with as much as they wanted, and then leave.
      • Maestro had started batting them away (no claws), if their attention is unwanted, and with some coaching they’ve learned to be sensitive to that.
    • They’ve learned to look for body language– to be observers before they act (we’re working on this in many areas, this is just one more place of reinforcement.
    • Respect
      • Everybody should be able to chose if they feel like playing or not
      • everyone has time when they want more space or want to be alone

This has brought home to me the value of pets with any age of children, but now, coming up on the second time in two years, it’s bringing up another lesson that’s harder for me to decide how to present.

That is, getting rid of the animal.

Kricket served a felt-need in the 5-months we had her, and especially the month Jay was out of the country she was a great comfort to me.

But after he returned home, and she continued to grow, and have energy build-ups, and no outlet, and… generally, make it plain she didn’t fit our family any more, I realized that the reason I had wanted her wasn’t a valid one, and never would happen in this family like it had when I was growing up.

So there was this sense of loss, and praying for the right home for Kricket, and being thankful God provided that.

After she left, we found Maestro, who has been the ideal cat (half-dog, we call him). Only in the last… chunk of time, we’re not sure when it started, he has become more wild and aggressive.

It’s no longer about self-advocating. In the last year the girls have learned to treat him properly, and only push him around when he’s taking up too much room on their beds (he nearly worked Natasha out, a couple of times).

Today it came to a head because two kids got scratched: Elisha by accident and Melody on purpose.


When I started talking about getting a dog in the spring, I was sure I wanted to keep Maestro too. He was a good cat, and I didn’t want to be sending a message of “disposabilty” about animals– that you just dump or rotate them when you’re ready for something new. But today I’m leaning more towards thinking this is a safety issue. And Melody has been getting “abuse” for a while now.

I have also talked to a couple cat people, and they reluctantly agree with me.

If there is a lesson the kids can learn from pets going, it would be that pets are different than people. That we value them and care for them, but ultimately people (my children) are more important, and their needs must come first.

I wonder if there’s a way to specifically communicate that.

No Resolutions, Just Goals

  1. Stick with bible reading plan
    • I really appreciate that the schedule seems to be divided thoughtfully rather than mathematically,
    • Also like the built-in “catch-up” days: No scheduled readings every 7th day, or after the 28).
  2. Begin reading program with Natasha.
  3. Reclaim my house after this madness. (I will be SOOO happy to have my kitchen back!)
  4. In May (or sooner, if I have my dog sooner) start the Couch to 5K running plan.

So there they are:the bare minimum
I hope to accomplish this year.
I have others, of course.
Many others.

But to declare (and try) for too much would be discouraging, I think. So I’ll just focus on this for now, and if it all becomes natural and thoughtless (in a good way) I’ll have room to add more.