Today we are celebrating our 100th day of school. I thought about doing an adorable 100th Day of School activity, but I’ve been sick all week and never quite summoned the motivation to find and prepare anything. So by “celebrating,” I mean we are saying “Happy 100th Day of School” and patting one another on the back.
We started studying Mississippi this week, and we’ll continue it next week because we didn’t finish everything I’d planned to do. We did start making Matt Lewis’ Mississippi Mud Pie last night, but I need to get some cornstarch today so we can finish it.
We weren’t able to do much reading aloud this week, thanks to my cold, by Pete did read some of “The Jungle Book” to me and Poppy read a Steve Jobs biography. Two and a half times. She’s spent a good part of the week quizzing me on what Apple products we’ve owned.
We’re continuing to work thought “The Giggly Guide to Grammar.” The kids get a kick out of the goofy sentences in the exercises, and it’s a good review of the material they learned in the Michael Clay Thompson books.
Pete finished his second-grade math book yesterday, and that’s when I discovered that I’d only written down that I needed to buy a third-grade workbook. So he’ll be working on Teaching Textbooks until that arrives.
January’s mother-daughter book club selection was “Hope Was Here” by Joan Bauer. We thought it would be fun for the girls if we went out again, so we met at a local pizza place for our discussion. The calzone Poppy and I shared was delicious, but the restaurant was a little too noisy for a good discussion. We’ll probably be meeting at home from here on out.
Here’s a synopsis of the “Hope Was Here”:
When Hope and her aunt move to small-town Wisconsin to take over the local diner, Hope’s not sure what to expect. But what they find is that the owner, G.T., isn’t quite ready to give up yet — in fact, he’s decided to run for mayor against a corrupt candidate. And as Hope starts to make her place at the diner, she also finds herself caught up in G.T.’s campaign — particularly his visions for the future. After all, as G.T. points out, everyone can use a little hope to help get through the tough times … even Hope herself.
The main character, Hope, doesn’t like the name her mother gave her at birth, so she renamed herself. One of the things we asked the girls to ruminate on as they read the story was what name they would rename themselves if given the opportunity. I will henceforth use the names they chose (for the most part) in my book club posts. They chose:
Summer, “because it’s lively.”
Scarlet, “I just really like it.”
Wolfelia, “because it has ‘wolf’ in it and wolves represent family and loyalty.”
Liliana, whom you know as Poppy.
And one girl said she wouldn’t change her name. She likes the name she has because it isn’t a common name for a girl. For book club purposes, we’ll call her Syd.
The girls agreed that Hope didn’t miss out on much by being raised by her aunt rather than by her mother, because her mother “could be a little wild” and “didn’t have any motherly feelings.” They identified the book’s main themes as: love, home, family and food.
The moms thought the political aspect of the plot was too detailed and bogged the story down, and one mom found the main characters’ Save The World mentality a bit tiresome. The girls’ opinions were mixed. The lowest rating was Grace’s five kitty paws out of 10, and the highest rating was Wolfelia’s nine-paw rating. On average, the kids gave “Hope Was Here” seven paws.
They’ve rebooted “The X-Files,” they’re remaking “Ghostbusters” and we’re back to wearing oversized flannel (well, I am anyway) because every old is new again. So it shouldn’t surprise me to hear my children echoing the phrase with which I tormented my mom lo those many years ago: “I’m booooooored.”
I try not to tell them that “only boring people get bored” and that “when I was a kid, I only had rocks and sticks to play with and I liked it,” which is what my mom told me, because (1) it hurt my feelings and (2) I had a lot more than rocks and sticks to play with. I had a sizable Barbie collection, among other things, but I still didn’t have nearly as many toys as my overly privileged children have. The sheer volume of their toy collections makes the “I’m bored” business especially irksome.
Even so, I sort of understand where they’re coming from. Play with the same toys day in and day out, and those toys can lose some of their luster. So rather than telling them to go play with a rock, I try to employ one of my two favorite ways of combating Toy Ennui: the Ol’ Switcharoo and the Change of Scenery.
Changing a toy’s usual landscape is a great way to give it new life in your kids’ eyes. Our big snowstorm over the weekend made the Change of Scenery simple. Pete and Rockford gathered up a bunch of their Star Wars toys and took them outside for some instant Hoth backdrops. It’s nice when Mother Nature lends a hand on this front, but you don’t have to wait for her to step in. Poppy likes to take her Barbies out to the swing set for adventures, for example, and when it’s warm out Pete sets up a car wash for his Matchboxes and Hot Wheels with some soapy water and squirt guns. Any toy taken out of its usual context is automatically more interesting. Unleash some dinos in the driveway! Let Furby flounce in the flowerbed! Send the Slinky down the slide! The backyard, bathtub or basement could be your kids’ oyster.
The Ol’ Switcharoo requires some storage boxes, a bit of attention and a place to sock things away. If you notice that your kids aren’t playing with a particular toy very often, stash it away somewhere for awhile. When they get bored with what’s available, pull out the stored toys and put the “boring” toys on the sideline for awhile. Boom! Your kids have a whole newish grouping of toys to keep them entertained. I encourage the kids to keep their toys pretty well organized — action figures with action figures, doll clothes with doll clothes, etc. — so it’s easier to find the toys they seek. It also makes it easier to enact the Toy Rotation.
And when the Ol’ Switcharoo and the Change of Scenery fail to quell the boredom? I give them a rock and a stick and tell them to have at it.
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