Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Eencey Weencey Spider by Anonymous

Eencey Weencey Spider
Eencey Weencey spider Climbed up the waterspout;
Down came the rain And washed the spider out;
Up came the sun And dried up all the rain;
And the Eencey Weencey spider
Climbed up the spout again.

I had never thought about the authorship of this song before today, so I went and looked it up. According to Wikipedia, this song appeared in the early part of the 20th century in books of camp and folk songs, already having lost all attribution. I generally sing Itsy Bitsy spider rather than Eency Weency unless I'm doing Robert Fulghrum's idea and singing it to the tune of Ode to Joy.

Yesterday in church, all four of the little girls in nursery were really participating well in the singing. Even Elizabeth who is about a year and a half younger than the other three was trying to do all the actions -- even when she'd never seen them before. This is representative of everything she's been doing lately -- she's mimicing everything people around her do and say.

I'm sorry that I haven't been posting frequently in the last few months (OK, I think there have been 11 posts total this year) so that you could have vicariously have watched her progress, but it's been amazing. Sometime in May, she decided that she was going to get ready for Kindergarten. Having mastered the shapes by reading her sparkly shapes book, she up and decided to learn the letters. She started with the obvious round O and the very useful B (for ball and blanket) then spent hours demanding that we tell her which magnet she was pointing to. A lucky find at a garage sale got her foam numbers for the bath, and she learned them too. She's currently working on colors and grammar.

Meanwhile, she was picking up two, three, five, then up to ten new words a day. Eventually, she just started repeating any word that was unfamiliar, and we stopped counting. Sometimes this gave very cute results. The other day, we were coming home late, and as we came in the door, Grandpa Roly noticed that he hadn't turned on the front porch light for us. "Nuts!" he said, as he helped us inside. Elizabeth, who had finally falllen asleep a block from home, perked up and said "Nuts. Eat it." and wouldn't settle down again until I gave her some cashews.

It sometimes amazes me how much she listens. I can be listening to an NPR story about Blue Dog Democrats, and she'll say, "Rowf rowf" which is what dogs are currently saying in her world. Because of that, I've cut way back on listening to news, and started playing a lot more songs in the car. When she hears one she likes, she'll say, "'Gin!" and I'll play it a few more times. Her current favorites (which she'll sing along with sometimes) are the "Dig Dig Dig" song from Snow White, and several from Sesame Street: One Fine Face, Elmo's Song, C is for Cookie, and I Love Trash.

She also picks up phrases. She says, "I see you!" when she wants to play peekaboo. She also likes "Oh, I see!" and "Happy to YOU!" (leaving out the word Birthday for some reason).

She's participating in reading books more and more. Last night we got a video of her reading Worms Wiggle with me and she could read every other word. It's also fun to hear her read Moo, Baa, La la la

On the grammar front, she's been putting words together into phrases like "Daddy's Shoes" for quite some time now. Nouns get some kind of adjective applied to them on the second or third repetition of a sentence (She's serious about practicing). Favorite adjectives include Big, Little, Mommy's, Daddy's, Roly's, Nice, Happy, Sad, Same, or a guess at what color it is. Whenever we hear a baby cry, she will comment that the baby or boy or girl is sad, and she loves to find happy faces on all the pumpkins around this time of year. (She also loves to find happy faces in her collection of balls, and one day, when there weren't enough, she had us draw happy faces on most of the plain golf balls).

She's making complete sentences now, when she has something to communicate other than "Look, there's a _______!" Usually, the object of the verb is "it" as in "Get it" or "Mama do it" but more and more often, she has a real subject verb and object in the sentence. The order isn't always the way I would say it -- Last night she said, "Kitty bag in" -- but it still got the point across.

She's also trying to conjugate and decline words. She noticed that Dog was sometimes Doggy, so for a while she tried putting a Y on the end of many words to see which ones we responded to. Recently, she's been doing the same thing with -ing. It works fine when she puts it on verbs, but it's terribly cute when she puts it on nouns and we hear about kittying.

Most of the time she pronounces things very carefully, and gets them just right. She has no problem with tricky sounds like the ir in Girl and Bird. She doesn't leave off the ending sounds -- on the contrary, she says them very deliberately, and sometimes with too much stress, but that's cute too. She does get R and L sounds mixed up occasionally, and she'll throw an extra sound in to some words (for instance, Fish is Firsh). She rarely will leave off the initial sound of a word like sanke, but I think that that shows a problem with the way she was taught the word. "Snake goes sssssss ssssssnake" she very understandably thought that nake was the animal, and sssss was the sound.

Generally, I try to do as my Language Development teacher in college suggested: When the child makes a "mistake" (usually by overextending a rule that they're learning, or mispronouncing a word) you shouldn't correct them as if they're wrong, or they'll be hesitant to try again. on the other hand, you should model the correct way to say it. To take one of the examples above, in response to "Kitty bag in" I said, "OK, we'll put the kitty in the bag." Or, if I point to an animal and say, "What's that?" and she answers "Meow mow" instead of saying, "No, it's called a kitty" I'll say, "That's right, a kitty says meow meow."

I like the geneal idea of this, but sometimes I think it works too well. The adorable mispronounciations and baby talk are fleeing far too fast. I treasure the few that I do get. One of my favorites is "Cakoo" (which sounds like cukoo with an ah sound) meaning crocodile. She has a little pop up book with a crocodile eating everything in sight, which she can recite about half the words to while reading it to herself:

Crocodile wakes, his jaws go crunch. -- Cakoo crunch
Down goes breakfast -- Bekfast
Later lunch -- La'er lurch
Later still and feeling thinner he eats his grandmmother for dinner -- Gamma
He sighs, Now what am I to do?" -- Doooo
And grinning wide he looks at you -- at yooooooou!

One final thing I want to mention is names. She discovered recently that other people have names. She figured out without any prompting that Daddy was also known as Peter and Mama was Karen. She can identify several people in pictures, especially Grandma (Gamma) and Grandpa (Gmpa). She loves to come and tell me about the picture of herself with her friend Joel that's currently my desktop wallpaper, and that's how I discovered one other mispronounciation that I had been missing. She came up to me, climbed up on my lap and pointed to the computer screen. "Joel!" she said. "Weee!" (the picture is of the two of them on a double glider swing) "Leefun!" (What?) "Leefun." (There's no elephant in this picture. There's a slide, but she can say slide.) "Leefun Joel wheeee!" At that point, I realized that Leefun was her way of saying "Lizbeth" I think it's odd that a girl who can say Trampoline without trouble can't say the word she hears most often -- her own name! And yet, in the week that has elapsed since then, it's already evolved to Leesun which is not too far from Lisa which is not to far from Lisabeth.

Well, to end, I'll give you an idea of how much she's talking with this video of a typical ten minutes of her playing in the basement.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Home by Edgar Guest

It takes a heap o' livin' in a house t' make it home,
A heap o' sun an' shadder, an' ye sometimes have t' roam
Afore ye really 'preciate the things ye lef' behind,
An' hunger fer 'em somehow, with 'em allus on yer mind.
It don't make any differunce how rich ye get t' be,
How much yer chairs an' tables cost, how great yer luxury;
I ain't home t' ye, though it be the palace of a king,
Until somehow yer soul is sort o' wrapped round everything.

Home ain't a place that gold can buy or get up in a minute;
Afore it's home there's got t' be a heap o' livin' in it;
Within the walls there's got t' be some babies born, and then
Right there ye've got t' bring 'em up t' women good, an' men;
And gradjerly, as time goes on, ye find ye wouldn't part
With anything they ever used -- they've grown into yer heart:
The old high chairs, the playthings, too, the little shoes they wore
Ye hoard; an' if ye could ye'd keep the thumb marks on the door.

Ye've got t' weep t' make it home, ye've got t' sit an' sigh
An' watch beside a loved one's bed, an' know that Death is nigh;
An' in the stillness o' the night t' see Death's angel come,
An' close the eyes o' her that smiled,
an' leave her sweet voice dumb.
Fer these are scenes that grip the heart,
an' when yer tears are dried,
Ye find the home is dearer than it was, an' sanctified;
An' tuggin' at ye always are the pleasant memories
O' her that was an' is no more -- ye can't escape from these.

Ye've got t' sing an' dance fer years, ye've got t' romp an' play,
An' learn t' love the things ye have by usin' 'em each day;
Even the roses 'round the porch must blossom year by year
Afore they 'come a part o' ye, suggestin' someone dear
Who used t' love 'em long ago, an' trained 'em jes' t' run
The way they do, so's they would get the early mornin' sun;
Ye've got t' love each brick an' stone from cellar up t' dome:
It takes a heap o' livin' in a house t' make it home.
--Edgar Guest

I hesitate to post this poem by Edgar Guest, mostly because he is one of the few authors Lemony Snicket seems to dislike in the Series of Unfortunate Events. In the Grim Grotto, the narrator says, “every noble reader in the world agrees that the poet represented on Fiona’s uniform was a writer of limited skill, who wrote awkward, tedious poetry on hopelessly sentimental topics.” A few people seem to have trouble with this judgement. While looking for the quote above, I found an An Open Letter to Lemony Snicket (and Robert Bork) in Modest Defense of Edgar Guest In one of the footnotes, he cites somebody else who says, "Yes, most of his poetry is undistinguished, but some is charming and enjoyable. What did he do to be held up (as it seems in this book) as a symbol of evil mediocrity?"

I personally don't think he deserves quite the treatment he got from Snicket (who, after the introduction quoted above, hammered his point home every chance he got through the rest of the book), but on the other hand, I don't think that just saying that your father's favorite poem was "It Couldn't Be Done" is a cogent argument proving that Guest was a great poet worthy of the world's respect and honor (that seems more like a reflection on said Grandpa's taste in poetry than on Guest's merits as a poet).

All in all, I'd put Guest's poems above the level of moralizing tripe, but I definitely agree that the words tedious, sentimental, and mediocre apply to much of what he's written. That's not to say that his poems don't have their place. We were talking the other night at the monthly meeting of the Utah Valley Nerds Group, and all agreed that the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys (and Three Investigators and Trixie Belden, and Animorphs, et cetera) books have an important place in the development of reading skills. Because they're easy to read, and have predictable plots, and most importantly, they're comfortable for kids, reading a whole bunch of them in a row increases fluency and encourages a love of reading in general. I know I certainly went through a Nancy Drew and Babysitter's club phase myself. If Guest's poetry, with its comforting sentiments and dtrong rhyme and meter can draw a certain group of people into reading poetry at all, that's a success (though as with Eragon -- which I've heard the same argument used to defend -- being successfull doesn't mean it's not also mediocre).

Well enough with the introduction, on to the news. I would like to announce that although it takes a heap of unpacking to make a house a home, I have finally finished moving us in to the Salem house! There are no more things sitting in boxes waiting to be unpacked. There are pictures on the walls. There is a place for everything, and at least for the time it took me to take these pictures, everything was in its place!!!!!

Because this post is so long already, I won't embed every photo. I'll just give you a link to the album in Picasa and let you go from there. Each photo has a description on it, so I figure if you put them all together, it's kind of like a blog post. I only have pictures of the finished basement area since the upstairs is still kind of a work in (interrupted) progress with Mom and Dad back in Ohio. Just to refresh your memory and give you a sense of perspective, here is a floorplan of the house (the album that's from has shots of the house from before we moved in, if you never saw those).

Of course, just because we've moved in, doesn't mean there's nothing left to do. It just means that I can feel good about just keeping house for a while before starting in on the repairing, repainting, and remodeling that still really needs to be done.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Bless This House by Helen Taylor

Bless This House

Bless this house, Oh Lord we pray
Make it safe by night and day.
Bless these walls so firm and stout
Keeping want and trouble out.

Bless the roof and chimneys tall.
Let thy peace lie over all.
Bless this door that it may prove
Ever open to joy and love.

Bless these windows shining bright
Letting in God’s heavenly light.
Bless the hearth, a-blazing there
With smoke ascending like a prayer.

Bless the people here within.
Keep them pure and free from sin.
Bless us all that we may be
Fit Oh Lord to dwell with thee.

Bless us all that one day we
May dwell O Lord with thee.
--Helen Taylor

Daddy asked me to find a copy of this song to play at our housewarming/ home dedication on August 23rd. I had an instrumental version in my collection, but Daddy said he'd get too emotional if he tried to actually sing it, so Peter found a youtube video, transferred it to his iPhone, plugged that into the auxiliary port on the Bose radio upstairs, and played it that way. Isn't technology wonderful?

At the housewarming, we had a huge crowd of relatives. Uncle Doug was in town, as were Maryanne, James, and their son. Martha was there with Isabella and Sam (Aaron was in the hospital after a followup procedure on his heart). Uncle Steve, Aunt Sue, TJ and Carter all came. Ryan and Trudy, brought their boys Ethan and Caleb. Adam was there with his wife and daughter. Aunt Shirley even came, and of course, Mom, Dad, Grandpa Roly, Elizabeth, Peter and I were all here to begin with. In all, we counted 26 people! Grandpa Roly said it had been a long time since nearly his whole family was together and happy, and was very touched.

Of course, before the party, there was a LOT of work to get the house ready. The first POD arrived on Tuesday, August 11th. That day we worked ourselves to the point of exhaustion hauling the literal TONS of stuff, furniture and boxes inside, and then when the POD was empty, beginning to unpack so that we'd have room for more boxes the next day. We fell into bed, and woke up the next morning to do it again on Wednesday, and yet again on Thursday. On Friday, we had a break of sorts (they didn't deliver another POD) so we cleaned and emptied the Provo apartment, then went to Grandpa's house in West Jordan and hauled all my stuff up from the basement and boxed up the things Grandpa decided to bring. Saturday, we loaded it all into a Uhaul truck (Which was a huge hassle to get -- I'll have to devote an entire post to that ordeal), drove back down to Salem, and unloaded it all. Sunday, we got a true Day of Rest, and were thankful for it, but then we had to start all over again with three more PODS on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday.

Each of the PODS was stuffed to capacity -- not always space wise, but certainly always weight wise. The official limit of what the machine can lift is 6000 lbs (three TONS!!), and Mom and Dad were always at or over the limit. With six pods and a truck, we figure we had about twenty tons of stuff to haul into the house and put away.

We did have some things to help us though. Daddy rigged up a ramp going up the front steps, and with the dollies that Tim and a neighbor loaned us, we could haul heavy furniture, stacks of boxes, or even (heaven forbid) refrigerators and full filing cabinets up the stairs without having to lift them straight up. We also had lots of help. The neighbors/ward members pitched in day after day with Elder's Quorum, High Priest's Group, and Young Men all cycling through to do some of the worst lifting (we even had one of the Young Women come and play with Elizabeth and keep her entertained while I couldn't give her the attention and comfort she wanted).

The lifting help was most important because Mom couldn't lift anything with her back in such bad shape (it went out again a few weeks ago), and Grandpa shouldn't lift anything (because of his heart -- and his balance isn't too good either these days). I could carry in a lot of light loads, but I quickly found that if I wanted to keep being able to work at all, I had to know my limit and stick to it. That left Daddy as the only one who could physically do most of the work, and he had spent the last several weeks loading it all IN to the PODS!

Along with the Ward members mentioned before, we also had help from the Utah Valley Nerds group. They were supposed to come help us load Saturday morning, but they all decided they were too lazy to get up that early on a weekend (these are Nerds we're talking about, you know) so they decided to hire us some help in the morning, then come down and unload in the afternoon instead. We got pizza (and it took the delivery guy about an hour to find the house which was less than a mile from the pizza place, and even in the same town (which, after all only has 5000 people, so how hard can it be???)) and everybody sat around and talked in the shady room under the willow tree for a couple of hours after we finished. Heidi (Lesli's sister) is a part of that group, but couldn't make it that day, so she came another day and helped to unpack and break down boxes (we have really felt the love from Lesli's siblings in our moving -- Mark, if you'll remember, went far above and beyond helping us unload the POD from California in April). Ryan and Steve also worked hard on Saturday, bringing first one, then the other refrigerator from West Jordan (the first one's door was so wide it hit the kitchen counter and wouldn't open all the way).

After all the unloading, we still had to work 12-14 hour days unpacking and finding homes for everything. There were, you'll remember, TONS of books, that Dad and I assembled shelves for, and Mom sorted and shelved. I can easily believe there was another thousand pounds of games and toys to find shelves for and put away in the basement playroom. Then there was the food storage, and suitcases, boxes and bins of baby clothes, Christmas decorations, and various gifts and such to build shelves for and arrange in the storage room, and then there was all the fabric and American Girl stuff that went into the fabric room, not to mention the clothes, beds, dressers, and dishes that had to find homes in other parts of the house.

By the time Saturday the 22nd rolled around, we had made incredible progress, but when Mom announced the size of the party we were having, we realized that we had a lot of work left to do. There were boxes that still needed to be emptied, more boxes to break down and dispose of (thank you Craigslist and Freecycle), and even more boxes to hide in the fabric room, storage room, and office (which were designated as official uncompleted projects). Then we had to decorate by finding, and then arranging art and other knickknacks. Then, of course, there was the cleaning and vacuuming (moving in is VERY messy work), and the cooking of enough food to feed 26 people. We got the place looking presentable, and had a lovely evening with the family. All the kids were thrilled with the big playroom, and aside from a few arguments over what constitutes a turn on the rope swing (your feet can touch the floor three times, unless the other person isn't watching, and then you take as many swings as you can manage, but if you walk away for any purpose other than getting a running start, then you forfeit the rest of you turn, etc) and a frantic few minutes when they thought there was only one foam sword in the house (little did those children know who they were dealing with), they mostly got along.

After the party, there was several hours' worth of cleanup, and then even more unpacking to do the next week. Daddy also spent a lot of time fixing all those little things that have to be done when moving into a home. For instance, he changed six light fixtures for me, and took apart my toilet so that I could give it a really good cleaning in places where the sun doesn't figuratively shine. Mom did a lot of cleaning in her bathroom as well, and painted some of the places in most dire need of it (including my kitchenette downstairs).

Well, it's after 11:00, and I have to go to sleep, so I'll leave more for another day. I know that you want photos, and a full tour of the house, and an update on how Elizabeth is progressing (two words: leaps and bounds!), and how we like the ward and the neighborhood etc, but there simply isn't room in one post. So because I'm lazy and tired, I'll just give you the one shot that Peter took with his iPhone and sent out to the family lists already.