This is what happens when I say "Say cheese!"
Tuesday, May 26, 2009
We go to our wonderful Downtown (Bellingham) children's library regularly for fresh reading materials. Eva is old enough now to thoughtfully pick out which books she wants to take home, go to the counter and up the stool, hand the books to the library staff and say "these books, please". Sometimes, she tells me she's done with the library by haphazardly yanking books off those easy-to-reach shelves while I scramble behind her trying to re-order her chaos and try to slow her down. On our last trip to the library, we came home with five books. That evening, we pored over our new pile of books and I found that TWO of them made me cry as I read them. OK, I'm not generally one of those cry-at-the-commercials weepy sorts of people, but I do have a soft spot for a sweet children's book--especially one (or TWO) that my daughter thoughtfully picked out just for us.
The first book is called A Name on the Quilt: A Story of Remembrance by Jeannine Atkins. It is a beautiful story about a little girl and her family gathering to assemble a quilt square for her gay uncle who died from AIDS (this is a children's book, probably good for mid-grade school age). The family, including her uncle's partner, talk about the uncle as they assemble this quilt square made from pieces of his clothes, to be included in the AIDS Memorial Quilt. Oh jeez. Kleenex, please. (The library system has only one copy of this book, and it's at my house till June 14. Sorry!)
The second story, which I highly recommend to my many friends who parent a child with special needs, is called Ruby In Her Own Time by Jonathan Emmett. This tender story is about a family of ducks and their littlest duck, Ruby. She hatches last, is small and doesn't do what her siblings are doing. Her parents ask "Will she ever...?" and, of course, the answer is "yes, in her own time." Aaah. More Kleenex, please. What a gentle reminder to relax; that Eva will do many things...in her own time. (The library system has several copies of this book).
This reading experience with Eva was so beautiful (for lack of a shinier, more energetically glowing word) and reminded me that 1) my girl is a perfect, radiant little being; 2) I am so SO blessed to get to spend my life with her; 3) the universe will provide for me what I need, when I need it and I'd better pay attention because it might be in the form of a children's book (or two).
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Yes, you read that correctly. Eva read her first word this evening (that I'm aware of anyway. She has a way of "yeah, I've done this FOREVER. What's the big deal" about her sometimes). We were reading stories before bed and I said "What's this word?" like I often do but she's never answered before. I point to each letter. "c. a. r.", she says. "Right!" I said, "what's that word say?" "CAR!" Oh my gosh. Yes, it DID say "car"! Holy cow!
Mind you, this exciting event hasn't come out of nowhere. She has always loved books and preferred looking at words over pictures (going way back to a few months old). During all the pre-preschool assessments and much to my annoyance, I had to prove it to a school official that she knew 18 letters just before she turned three. Eva has known all the letters for several months now and many letter sounds. She's been able to identify store names on the building and on top of receipts for a couple years now. We read to her. We point to the words as we read them. We have her read each letter in a word, going left to right. I've had a suspicion that she could read some words for awhile but have always explained it away.
Back in February of this year, I had a conference with Eva's preschool teacher. She told me that the woman who teaches the resource room came to the classroom for a visit one day (she doesn't usually work with the littlest kids) and she and the teacher got to talking about Eva and how she knows all her letters and really seems to absorb everything around her. Eva did a few tests in the resource room and, to everyone's joy, she scored at a kindergarten level for pre-reading skills! So the teachers started Eva on a reading program, the beginnings of which consist of matching like pictures, with other pictures as distraction. Then moving on to matching simple letter combinations, which gradually get more complex, to see if she can sort through the visual stimuli. The next step is a Reading Mastery Program with chunks of words (it stresses learning to identify the whole word, as opposed to spelling it out). So in addition to reading at home like we do, pointing out words, having her read the letters to us, we also started to label things in the house (bed, couch, table, etc.) so she could get used to seeing the words attached to things she's familiar with.
I am so grateful for wonderful teachers and staff who recognize that Eva can handle more challenges and not dismissing her desire to learn until she's "older".
What Eva taught me: to not think I know what she is capable of; to not think "oh, well that skill is for older kids, not her"; to set high standards and beam with pride when she meets them.
My little girl, 4 years, 2 months and 20 days read her first word. Car. It's music to my ears.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
I know it's been awhile since I posted and I know some of you, dear Readers, have been asking for new posts. So here is a pictorial post with Eva as my ever-agreeable subject. I recently bought a big beautiful digital SLR Nikon that I am in love with. These photos were taken with it. Enjoy!
I just love the way the late afternoon sunlight was making her eye(s) shine.
Singin' and swingin' at Hovander Homestead Park.
At Hovander. We're watching the turkeys about 15 feet away. She kept being silly and calling them "white peacocks"!
Out for a walk with Mommy on the trail by our house. A new favorite special mommy/daughter past time.
Sometimes, she just gets closer, closer, closerclosercloser!
Whee! Airplane rides from Daddy!! (I'm laying on the floor, looking up).
There's something to her expression that came through here that is very mature. I see a glimpse of what she'll look like when she's 14 or so.