Friday, April 16, 2010

What We've Been Up to the First Week of April

We're planning a trip to Greece next year, and I've been working on learning to speak Greek using Rosetta Stone. Many times Alexa will hop up on my lap and do the program with me. I even set up a different account with her name that she can use if she wants to. She has a fun time asking me to teach her new Greek words. Jared, as of right now, is not very interested in learning to speak a different language, although he does like watching the French Language Lyrics DVD, a program that teaches French to kids through songs.

Alexa is enthralled with the headset/mic that came with the Rosetta Stone program, so she asks to wear it when she plays computer games on, even though she has no need to record anything. I really think she's trying to be like me in some way. By the way, she'd probably be on the computer all day long, literally, if I'd let her. It's hard to know how much to regulate that stuff for her. She's very young, and although we are a self-directed family, I do believe in putting limits on TV and computer usage. I think I'll have to write a separate post about that some time.

Alexa surprised me with asking to mop the floor a few weeks ago. She loved to do this more a few years ago, but the interest seems to have been revived again.

Jared's always been a big puzzle guy, although lately it's not been the obsession it used to be. But lately, Alexa has been asking to do puzzles. Up until about six months ago, she has never, I mean NEVER done a puzzle before. She would adamantly refuse. Now she specifically requests for us to do puzzles with her. She especially likes the 48-piece floor puzzles that have dinosaurs (something both kids are really into lately). I should mention, if you have a kid who loves dinosaurs, rent the DVD of Jurassic Park III. On it they have a special feature that goes through about twenty or so dinosaurs. You see a computer graphic that goes all the ways around the dinosaur, plus you learn many new facts about the dinos, too.

Alexa has also renewed her interest in writing letters these past few weeks. She started by asking me how to spell things a few months ago. Occasionally, I'll also write the word down so she'll see how it looks on paper. It's funny because she has been able to read these words for a few years now, but I guess the process of spelling and reading is a lot different. I think it's because she really is a whole word learner with respect to reading, and now she's developing a greater interest in phonics.

Anyways, it gets really time-consuming to sit next to her and write word after word and help her write the letters. She will do this for hours with me if I  agree to it, and sometimes I do. Then I had the idea of printing letter worksheets from the Internet for her to trace. I took a chance that she'd like it, and it turns out she LOVED it. She sat there for an hour and a half just tracing different letters. Then she popped up off the chair and said, "I'm all done, now."  I should think so.

The day Alexa traced all the letters, Jared and I had a great game of pirates. The Playmobile pirate ship was one of the best presents we've ever gotten Jared. He loves small figures, and is developing a good collection already. We put them on the ship and then they sail somewhere.

Here they landed on an "island," (Daddy's guitar case). I can't wait to look back at this blog post when he's sixteen and see what he's doing then. Its hard not to think he'll be doing something that involves detailed work.

Later that same day, I gave Alexa the tape recorder I used to use when I was a freelance reporter for several newspapers. Both kids love to make up stories, and I thought she might like recording her own stories and playing them back. I spent hours and hours, for many years, doing this type of thing when I was younger. Well, she loved this, too. I've really been good at guessing what things to introduce to them that they'd like. I'm sure you know what it's like to bring an activity, book or resource to your kids and have them not be that interested. It usually doesn't bother me if they are not into what I am showing them, but after several times of not having them interested, I start to get discouraged and think I really don't know my kids that well after all. Silly, but true.

A few weeks ago, on Saturday morning, I happened to be flipping through the channels on TV and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle show was on. Thirty seconds into the show and Jared was hooked. He wanted to look just like them. I swear, this kid should own a costume shop when he's older. He lives to dress up. I'd have thought my daughter would be the one who would like dressing up more.

So, Jared says he wants a TMNT costume, and I ask if he wanted me to make him one. He gets SO excited about this idea that he even turns down a chance to drive with Steve to pick up the pizza. I make a mask out of green flannel and a rubber band, and then I cut out a shell out of cardboard and made arm holes with ribbons. I was pretty happy with the results since I am not at all talented in artistic or crafty things. Now, he alternates between this costume and his Batman cape (which is really a red vest in which he puts his head through on of the arm holes). He even wore the mask the whole time we went to the library.

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