by Melanie Bettinelli on May 22, 2013
John Singer Sargent [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons”
Isabella Stewart Gardner by John Singer Sargent
Today we took a field trip to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Dom got a Living Social deal and we figured it was about time for our art loving Bella to visit the museum founded by her namesake.
Isabella Stewart was a New York heiress who married a Bostonian. They traveled extensively and she developed a taste for art, especially Renaissance Venetian art. When she inherited her father’s fortune she became a collector and after her husband died she built a gorgeous Italian style pallazzo on the Fenway to house her eclectic collection. The museum is rather a challenge for curators as Isabella’s will specified that the permanent collection cannot be substantially changed. The museum can neither add to or remove from the collection nor can they so much as move the objects and paintings around. In the Dutch room the empty frames of two stolen Rembrandts hang on the wall, stolen in 1990 in one of the most famous art heists in history.
I just love this museum. I love that it has so much personality, you can feel the presence of the woman whose vision it was. All the pieces, great and small that she collected. Here a bunch of vestments, there a collection of little glass bottles. Here a table set with golden cups and fine china, there a glass case full of lace. Chinese and Egyptian pieces, Greek and Roman, Medieval and Renaissance and Impressionist pieces jostle together with reliquaries, sketches, and furniture. There is a room full of tapestries with a gigantic fireplace, the intricately carved mantle is from France. A portrait of Mary Tudor, a self portrait of Rembrandt, a beautiful sedan chair, choir stalls, sarcophagi….
My favorite part of the museum is the central courtyard atrium. A fountain plays, orchids and hydrangeas bloom around a mosaic floor with a central medallion of Medusa’s head, the whole surrounded by beautiful cloisters filled with statues and objects d’arts. The glass roof is four stories above you and you feel like you are outside. I kept thinking: that’s is what I need in my house, a space where the kids can run and play in all weather but feel they are outside. Yes, I really wish I could live in the museum. I could get used to waking up in a room where I could look out on that courtyard full of flowers and green. It really is a little slice of heaven.
I wish I had photographs, but no cameras are allowed in the museum and no cell phone activity either. You’ll just have to click through and explore the museum’s site, which does let you browse their collections both by rooms and by genres and has a nice Explore feature as well.
Bella, Sophie, and Ben all loved it. Though as usual when going with children, we can’t stay very long. We arrived not long after the museum opened at 11, wandered over the first floor until 12. Then went out to have a picnic in the park across the street while watching the geese, squirrels, sparrows, and passing art students. The children amused themselves throwing sandwich crumbs and cheerios to the sparrows. At bedtime Bella told me that was her favorite part of the day. But she loved the art too. I know we will be back to this special place many times. (And as an Isabella she will get in free for life, though that doesn’t matter now as all children under 18 are free in accordance with the museum’s mission to teach art appreciation.)
After lunch we spent another hour or so wandering the second and third floors. Our exploration of the third floor was rather rushed since it was well past Anthony’s nap time and even Bella, Ben, and Sophie were fading. One rule of visiting museums with little people is to remember that you can’t see everything. You have to plan to give them enough to whet their appetites, trusting that some day you will return to drink more deeply. But it would take many days even for enthusiastic adults to begin to scratch the surface of this remarkable museum.
I did let each of the big kids get a print at the museum gift card since our Living Social deal included fifty dollars to spend there. Sophie got a beautiful picture of chrysanthemums, Bella got a portrait by John Singer Sargent of a woman holding a wine glass, Ben got a Spanish St Michael. I figure letting them each have a piece of art which is theirs is a great way of helping them to make connections, to feel that the art is theirs and the museum is theirs. Now I just need to go get some frames…. We also have some prints they got at Christmas and some I found on great sale last year. Once they are all framed the kids’ rooms are going to be little art galleries. How fun is that?
Oh and Lucia? How did she make out, you ask. She slept the whole time in the sling. Didn’t even wake up for lunch.
You can also read more about the museum and the famous theft at the museum’s Wikipedia page.
by Melanie Bettinelli on May 18, 2013
For her seventh birthday breakfast Dom made chocolate chip pancakes and bacon.
On the way to the farmer’s market Bella exclaimed “Everything looks different today.” Indeed everything does. I can’t believe it’s been seven years since my little wide-eyed wondering child entered the world. Everyone who visited us in the hospital commented on how alert she was. So alert and eager to take everything in. And she’s still the same, wide-eyed, eager girl, exploring the world. In the last year she’s come out of her shyness and is now quite eager to talk to anyone and everyone. But she’s definitely an introvert. She likes to retreat to her room, shut the door, seek quiet to recharge when she gets overwhelmed, much to poor Sophie’s dismay.
Last week Dom went on a walk with her and came home marveling: “I see an unkempt lawn full of dandelions,” he says, “But she exclaims how happy the people who live there must be to have so many beautiful flowers. I see a house that needs attention, she exclaims how beautiful the color blue is. I see a seedy empty lot, she sees a wonderland.” She pays attention to rocks and sticks and flowers and bushes. She has a favorite house on the block, the one with the beautiful garden, a bit unkempt and overgrown but full of flowers. She tells him the names of plants.
Bella picks radishes while Sophie watches. We were all enchanted by the red, red, redness of them.
She got seven dollars from Grandma Virgina and determined to spend them at the farmer’s market. She saw some vegetables she wanted to buy last week. When we got there she asked for some bagels and rolls at the bakery booth. Then she went for the radishes, a big pile of glowing red globes. She also eyed the baby bok choy: “That looks delicious! I want to try it.” And, “Yummy kale!” she exclaimed. Her money was spent on the radishes and a watermelon ice.
Those little dots on the left are me and the kids.
After the market treasures were safely stowed, we walked down to the beach. We discovered a jellyfish, some crabs, beautiful rocks and mussel shells, clams and bricks. A couple of tide pools were an invitation to wonder and Bella crouched to poke and prod while I tried to dissuade the boys from throwing stones into the pool and muddying the water.
Lunch was mac-n-cheese at Chili’s at her request, a nostalgic reprise of her first birthday. This time there was a lot more noise and jostling with four other kids at the table.
When we got home she launched into a complicated game with Ben and Sophie. So lovely to see the three of them playing together so nicely.
Dinner was steaks on the grill. With asparagus and sauteed radish greens and a salad—farmer’s market bounty. Turns out Bella just wanted to cut the radishes and serve them to us. She didn’t really like eating them. Oh well.
I made a lemon cake from scratch with a rather runny cream cheese frosting. Too much lemon juice in it, I think. But Bella liked it.
She told me right before it was time to open her presents that she likes books best of all. Good. I got her some.
She loved the wrapping paper. It was the filler paper from a box of something, maybe from King Arthur Flour or maybe Penzey’s. She was very excited that I’d drawn her a little picture on each package.
Sophie has a hard time when other people get presents. She wants all the shiny things. Bella was sweet and let her hold the new queen whenever Bella had to do something else. Sophie was mollified. I was very proud of Bella’s generous heart.
It’s hard to believe my little baby girl has grown into this great tall lanky girl, all arms and legs and gap teeth.
This morning I was so proud to hear her say that something was not this nor that. “Nor. She said nor.” Yes, my little girl talks like a character from a book much of the time. She’s hovering right on that threshold of reading. She can spell her own name: I S A B E L L A. She can write it too.
Bella was upset after a frustrating reading lesson and drew this frowny figure. She then made it into a scary witch surrounded by spiders, a ghost, bats, a wolf, a bear. She was delighting in scaring Sophie with ever grimmer figures in a Halloween motif.
I am so very, very blessed to have this amazing little girl in my life.
Updated. Just for fun:
by Melanie Bettinelli on April 28, 2013
The Island-below-the-Star written and illustrated by
Bella loved this delightful Polynesian tale of five brothers who journey across the Pacific in search of adventure and an island they are sure must be out there. Navigating by the stars, the clouds, the currents, the wind, and the birds they find their way from the Marquesas Islands to Hawaii.
The pictures are lovely watercolors, very engaging.
Complete Brambly Hedge by Jill Barklem.
I meant to get this collection for Bella for Christmas but my order was cancelled too late to get it in time. So Sophie got it for her birthday and Bella since appropriated it. It’s not that Sophie doesn’t appreciate it, just that Bella adores it. Well, fortunately Sophie is a generous little soul and doesn’t seem to mind in the least. I haven’t read all the stories yet, but I do find them charming. One very minor quibble: just as with Redwall there are little snippets of pseudo-religion that kind of drive me nuts: a wedding and a baptism with language that loosely evokes the Christian sacraments but with no God, just some nature worship kind of language. Definitely not enough to discard the books, but I did mention to Dom in Bella’s hearing that I don’t know why they made that choice. It just bothers me.
I don’t think there are words to express the depth to which Bella adores the Little House books. She really dives into them, spending hours poring over the illustrations. She also loves, loves, loves the three albums of music from the books. I’m constantly amazed at the extent of her recall. Although I’ve only read each book once, she will unerringly remember in which scene of which book each song appeared. She can recount scenes from every book in great detail and often greets Dom at the door with a long narration about some incident or other in a Little House book, it may or may not be from the most recent chapter we’ve read. It might not even be from the current book.
When we got to Farmer Boy she wasn’t at all interested. She just wanted to read about Mary and Laura. But then when we came to the first of the Almanzo chapters in The Long Winter, I pointed out that she’d appreciate them more if she’d read his story. So we began to read Farmer Boy concurrently with The Long Winter. It was sometimes a bit disconcerting to jump back and forth between Almanzo as a boy and as a young man, and Dom asked if she wouldn’t get confused. But she never did. Bella and I regularly read chapters from half a dozen or more different books that we’ve got going concurrently and she never gets them confused. (Right now we are reading Little Town on the Prairie, Audrey of the Outback, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Acts of the Apostles for Children, The Gospel according to St Mark, Five Little Peppers, The Little Prince, The Story of the World Volume 1, and a biography of St Pio of Pietrelcina.) Sophie and Ben loved Farmer Boy too and often plopped down to listen in on chapters.
Bella’s plan is that when we finish the Mary and Laura books we will move on to the other Little House spin offs. I’m thinking the Charlotte books will fit nicely with beginning American history in the coming school year.
In the comments Enbrethiliel reminded me that I meant to include the links to the albums of Little House music. These are the three we have. I think Pa’s Fiddle Band may have more, though I’m not sure if their other albums are merely in the spirit of or are limited to the songs that are actually in the books. Clearly more research is necessary. Maddeningly, the songs on these albums are not arranged according to how the songs appear in the books. It offends my OCD, but I’m trying to deal with it. I posted the links in the comments, but I’ll put them here too:
Yes these are Amazon Affiliate links and yes we get a little bit of credit when you click through and buy. I promise we use the pennies we glean to defray the costs of the children’s education and our own book habits.
by Melanie Bettinelli on April 26, 2013
This is what Adoration looks like. A dozen children, four moms, one grandmother, and an excellent priest who believes that children, yes even the youngest children, can get to know Jesus in this wonderful way. I think the oldest child here is 8. The youngest is Lucia, at 3 months, but the next youngest is a little lad who is only one month older.
We began with O Salutaris Hostia. The moms sang off of printed sheets, most of the kids just listened. But they were hearing it, soaking it in. Then Father gave a nice little talk to the kids, talking about Jesus, inviting them to listen to Him and to bring Him their thoughts and concerns. A short period of quiet and then the children talked about Jesus, explained what they had prayed about, if they wanted to. I had to take Lucy to the back to nurse her as she got quite fussy at this point.
Then a brief prayer, the prayer the little children were taught by an angel at Fatima:
My God, I believe, I adore, I hope, and I love You. I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not hope, and do not love You.
Then the children prayed their petitions. There was a little boy who wanted to pray for soldiers and people killed in war, and people in hospitals. Sophie had a bunch. She wanted to pray for all the people who made up their own gods instead of worshiping Jesus. She also wanted to pray for people who couldn’t walk or use their feet and were in wheelchairs and in the hospital. And for people who had died who didn’t know Jesus. She’s never spoken up before, but today she was little miss chatty. Though she hasn’t yet learned not to interrupt.
I’d like to note that mine were the only children running around all the other children stayed nicely put on the rug. Anthony and Ben did actually kneel down once or twice, but mostly they were jumping off that bottom step, kicking the pews, and being boys.
Bella and Sophie both did the thing where they lay down on the floor and kick their feet. But then they both did a passable job of kneeling at the end. And at the very end both stood in line sweetly for a special benediction.
Adoration ended with praying the Divine Praises and singing the Tantum Ergo. There was another song in the middle that I can’t remember. Finally as Father carried the Host back to the tabernacle, we sang Holy God We Praise Thy Name. Sophie’s favorite. I love that the format has room for the beautiful Latin hymns, the sense of the sacred and profound mystery ad ritual, as well as the personal and intimate. No, these kids aren’t quite ready to make a quiet Holy Hour, but they get it. They know they have spent a special time with Jesus. It wasn’t watered down for them but it was made accessible to them.
It’s probably been at least six months since the last time we went. This time I was able to see a profound difference in Ben who was especially sweet today. In the past couple of weeks he’s seemed to have turned a corner and has got over whatever it was that he had against religion and has started sometimes kneeling in church and praying along at dinner and bedtime prayers and even making the sign of the cross sometimes and who was heard to say he wanted to go to Mass to see Jesus. At the end of Adoration he declared: I like to come and see Jesus. And he was very excited about the holy card of St Teresa that he received and the pretty flowers and loved making a cross.
We got there half an hour early, I was planning to let them run off some steam at the playground behind the church but the school kids were there and there were just too many of them. My timid children preferred to go right into the church. Where they proceeded to run up and down the aisles while I nursed Lucia. They said hi to their favorite saints and admired the stained glass.
After Adoration we did a little craft, making pipe cleaner crosses. Perfect fun. Then once the school kids had cleared off the playground, we did go out and run around. And had a picnic lunch on the fly, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, strawberries, apples, raisins, cheese. Gabriel pushed Bella on the tire swing.
Then when we got home, a mystery. A picture of Blessed Teresa of Calcutta was leaning against the front step. No note or anything. Um. Ok.
And just for fun, Lucia in her car seat, happy as can be:
When Dom took Bella for a walk this morning he said it was delightful to see the world through her eyes. He saw a yard full of weeds, she said, those people are so lucky to have so many flowers. He saw a dilapidated house, she saw that it was painted a beautiful shade of blue. He saw ratty old silk flowers tossed by the wind, she saw a treasure to bring home to her sister and brothers.
by Melanie Bettinelli on April 11, 2013
Anthony hit the jackpot this week with fun read alouds at the library. I generally let him pull two books off the shelf to check out. Sometimes they go back in the bag and stay there after a first reading. But these are so fun to read I grabbed them for his naptime today.
The first is a fun tale from Zaire. (Which I guess isn’t Zaire anymore but is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo.) It’s a fun little story about a civet cat named Bowane who is going to collect his bride in the village of Tondo, but along the way is too accommodating to the friends he asks to be his attendants and thus misses the girl. She gets tired of waiting for him (they wait years and years for a log to rot so Ulu the tortoise can get across it.) and marries a different cat. The scorn with which she chases Bowane away is delicious.
The story reads like an oral tale written down with all the repetition and funny animal sounds. It’s a book that has all four of my big kids giggling as I read—and sometimes Lucia catches the mood and giggles too.
What’s really fun about it is that each of the animals make a sound:
And so they went on—
Bowane walking, ika-o ika-o, ika-o;
Embenga flapping, bwa-wa, bwa-wa, bwa-wa;
Nguma slithering, swe-o, swe-o, swe-o;
And Ulu waddling, ta-ka, ta-ka, ta-ka, ta-ka—
The four of them traveling to Tondo.
(Don’t worry, there’s a pronunciation guide for all the Lonkundo words.)
It’s such a charming little tale with gorgeous pictures that really capture the personalities of the animals and it has a clever moral too. I’d definitely consider adding it to our library.
Anthony’s second pick is an illustration of a song that Bella used to be quite obsessed with. I first heard it back in my Irish pub haunting days in college when Celine and Marianne introduced me to Tommy Makem and the Clancy Brothers:
All God’s critters got a place in the choir
Some sing low, some sing higher
Some sing out loud on the telephone wire
And some just clap their hands, or paws
Or anything they got.
Listen to the bass, it’s the one on the bottom
Where the bullfrog croaks and the hippopotamus
Moans and groans with a big to-do
The old cow just goes MOOOOO
Bella used to watch the Makem and Clancy video on You Tube over and over again. I think Dom even figured out how to download it and put it on an endless loop on my laptop. I didn’t realize what book Anthony had got till we got it home. It wouldn’t have caught my eye, being a bit too garish, but it’s just the thing that a two year old boy would grab. This book has such fun illustrations, big, bold, bright animals all hamming it up on a stage. It’s definitely a big hit with my whole crew. Now Bella and Sophie and Ben are wandering about the house singing along. And of course we’ve been watching the video again too:
by Melanie Bettinelli on April 08, 2013
This morning at breakfast Bella was busy coloring a picture of the annunciation that I’d printed off for her yesterday. When she’d finished coloring she decided she wanted to add some text. So she found her Bible story book and began to copy out the words from the story: “God sent the angel Gabriel to a little town called Nazareth…” She back to copying them out at dinner tonight (after taking off most of the day for playing) and still at it after Dom had tucked her into bed when I went in to say goodnight.
Once again I was struck at how she finds her own little ways to observe the liturgical events that mean something to her. And also how unschoolers are right, children who are allowed to follow their passions will learn well beyond any curriculum we could set them. If I’d tried to assign copywork, even something a fraction of the length, she’d have melted into a sobbing puddle. But when it was her own idea, she went at it with a will. Catechesis and art and handwriting all accomplished as well as a great satisfaction. She even pointed out to me that she’d done the floor in black and white squares just like Vermeer in his painting of the lace maker.
Something New, Something Other: An Annunciation Diptych Joanne McPortland’s reflection on similarities between artistic depictions of the annunciation and of Mary Magdalene’s encounter with the risen Christ.
There is the certain similarity of positions, although in the Annunciation it is Mary of Nazareth who turns away while the angel my kneel before her, and in the Noli me tangere Mary of Magdala falls to her knees while the Risen Christ turns slightly away. There is the tradition that both encounters occur in a garden—the walled garden (or closed room, with a garden visible beyond) of Mary’s virginity, the burial garden in which the Magdalene mistakes Jesus for a gardener—with its echoes of the reversal of the Expulsion from Paradise. Both begin with a greeting that overcomes fear, and both conclude with immediate evangelical action: Mary of Nazareth hastes to the hill country to be with her kinswoman, Elizabeth; Mary of Magdala speeds to her brothers with the good news.
There are other resonances that act like open and close parentheses. Mary of Nazareth wonders how she can be with child without ever having known the embrace of the flesh; the Risen Christ refuses Mary of Magdala’s fleshy embrace. (Neither is meant as a rejection of the embodied love by which God blesses marriages and families, but a signal that Something New, Something Other is happening here.) A filled womb, an empty tomb. The first time we hear of Mary of Nazareth in the scriptural story of Jesus; the last time we hear of Mary of Magdala.
by Melanie Bettinelli on March 04, 2013
Today my Sophia is five. She’s turning into quite the big girl, even if she is only half an inch taller than Ben and looks like she could be his twin though there are 16 months between them. She adores her big sister Bella and they are the best of friends, but Sophie is not always in Bella’s shadow. She has a mind of her own, a personality of her own.
She is fiercely devoted to Saint Therese. She loves Jesus.
She loves to sing. She makes up her own words to songs, to books. She has the heart of a poet and a great gift with words, a feeling for language, for rhythm and for rhyme. She coins neologisms that the whole family adopts.
She loves curry and enchiladas and doesn’t mind spicy foods.
She has the brightest smile, the sparkliest eyes. She has a cute dimple. She’s a ham, She loves being silly. She loves being the center of attention. But she’s also very shy among new people and strangers.
She got several books. A princess brides coloring book, a fairy coloring book, first words in French (because she’s lately expressed a strong interest in learning French) and the complete Brambly Hedge.
Grandma and Grandad sent a purple princess dress. (Pictures to come.) Sophie declared it the best birthday ever.
Also, Sophie was thrilled that Bella lost her first tooth on Sophie’s birthday. Far from feeling like Bella was stealing attention on her special day, Sophie was glad to have another cause for rejoicing.
At first Bella thought she had a rock in her mouth. Then Dom reminded her about the tooth, which has been loose for a very long time and so wiggly on Saturday that I predicted it would be out within two days. That won me a reputation as a prophet.
All in all, a very perfect sort of day.
by Melanie Bettinelli on February 28, 2013
1. “Mama, Mama! Look! Mama! Mama! Window. Window.”
Anthony pretends the chair back is a window.
2. “I aim to misbehave”
Lucia got this t-shirt from Grandma Pat, a diehard Browncoat.
3. Self portrait by Bella.
She also took one of Anthony:
They just can’t seem to remember that the rule is “Don’t Touch Mama’s Phone. Ever.”
4. In related news: Yesterday Anthony broke the new lamp in the living room. The glass shade shattered all over the living room carpet. Fortunately it missed Lucia in the swing. The one we just bought from Ikea two weeks ago. That kid is a force of nature.
5. This morning Bella was telling me about a game that she and Sophie play called “The Wiseman’s Ghost” which she says will help Sophie to learn the Gospel. I’m not sure what exactly it entails except tha tSophie pretends to be Jesus and Bella tells her what to say. When asked if there’s a ghost in it, Bella says no. “It’s a little funny,” she says. And something about how “ghost” sounded better than “crucified.” I’m still not sure where the wise man comes in.
She has a remarkable gift for coming up with great titles. I still fondly recall the story she told me about The Singer of Popcorn Park.
6. Today my three big kids all went outside to stomp in the puddles. Barefoot. It was 41 degrees out and there was snow on the ground. But I didn’t stop them because they were OUTSIDE.
7. When she saw me taking pictures, Sophie asked me to take a video of her.
She explains that they are pretending to be Egyptians. The mud is from the flooding Nile.
“I’m playing in the mud. And so. So. So. So. So. Everybody else is getting their feet dirty. Hee hee hee hee hee. And so… there still… the snow hasn’t melted I know that. They’re still walking in the snow. There’s still bits of grass in the snow. Even… In fact, in fact, in fact… [singing] (to Ben) Mom’s taking a video of us. All right? So you have to make noise. [Ben screams] Muddy, you’re all muddy, you’re all muddy… We’re being Egyptians. We’re playing Egyptian outside. The mud on our feet is the mud from the Nile.” [more screaming]
And then there was this:
I can’t decide if her extemporaneous poem here is more hip hop or beatnik. “Mud feet, mud feet, mud, mud I have mud feet. Truly it is true. I am not lying. Boo. Boo. Boo. Boo. Boo. Goo. Goo. Goo. I am not lying. Which I’m really saying that. What. No I just don’t want to sing. I’ll talk. All right. All right. Mitmittyatkasight. All right. Shhh. Baby’s sleeping. Shh. Someone else is sleeping. Someone. Someone. He is a king. Shh. Someone is sleeping. Shh. Someone is… Quiet. Shh. Guess who it is. Shh. Guess right now. I do not bow. Vow, vow, vow. Bow, bow, bow… I do not bow. Bow. Bow. I do not bow. Bow. Bow…. I do not bow. Bow. Bow. Bow. .... Are you still taking a video?”
8. I was going over their catechism with the girls when Anthony wandered in. I asked him, “Anthony, who made you?” Not expecting an answer really. But he did reply, “Jesus.” Well then.
For more quick takes visit Conversion Diary
by Melanie Bettinelli on February 21, 2013
He’s one cool kid
Yesterday was Anthony’s birthday. I can hardly believe that he’s two already. And yet he’s as big as many three year olds. I’ll get the official measurements tomorrow at his physical, but when I weighed him on our bathroom scale on Saturday—40 pounds!
In the past couple of weeks he’s had a language explosion. Suddenly he has all these words and is trying out new ones daily. Now a ride in the car is punctuated by frequent request for my attention: “Mama, Mama,” he calls until I answer him. Then, “Truck, truck,” or “Weeooo, weeooo” (for an ambulance or any vehicle with lights on top.) Unfortunately, he’s also hitting that stubborn stage and the food strike phase. .He used to eat a wide range of foods. Suddenly he has taken against almost all fruits and vegetables and only wants to eat starches and meats.
We had a simple celebration, as usual. The kids helped me make a chocolate cake. A little one layer thing so there wouldn’t be lots of leftovers to tempt me. I made a cream cheese frosting for the first time ever and it was so, so, so good. Not very Lenten, but I told myself that birthdays were an exception to my fast from treats.
Still feeling overwhelmed with toys and feeling like he got all he really needed at Christmas, I just got him a couple of books, Richard Scarry’s Cars and Trucks and Things that Go, which was an instant hit with all four big kids. Each Peach, Pear, Plum, which Bella loves now and which I think Anthony will love in time. My mom got him three cute t-shirts and sent a fruit bouquet. And that was it. Cake and two packages made it a special day in his book. Ben complained that he wanted it to be his birthday and needed lots of attention and hugs. (Boy, will I be glad when it is his birthday. Three has been such a hard age. I can’t wait for four!)
by Melanie Bettinelli on February 11, 2013
I bought the embroidery hoops and felt squares in October. Finally broke them out today. Bella’s been bugging me about it for a while and I was sort of goaded by Melissa Wiley’s recent post of her six year old daughter sewing.
We really didn’t do a lot. I put their felt in the hoops and threaded their needles and tied the thread and then went crazy rethreading the needles and untangling snarls and trying to get them to be patient since all three of them seemed to need help at once. (We did this during Anthony’s nap while my dad was holding Lucia.) I think I might get some books and kits for the girls on their birthdays. Such as the ones Melissa Wiley was recommending the other day on her blog. (To which Dom says, “If Melissa Wiley jumped off a bridge…?” Yes. Yes. I would.)
Bella had obviously been paying attention to our Little House reading and how Mary is praised for her fine small stitches. She was trying to sew the smallest stitches she could. She sewed a very crooked cross and referred to it as her “embroidery” it was so cute.
Now I’m thinking that if Bella can be so inspired by reading about characters learning to sew, maybe what we need is a literary heroine learning how to read to inspire her to push past her difficulty in that vein. I’m afraid our Bob books worked for a couple of days and then we hit book #3 or 4 and we were right back to tears and gnashing of teeth. I’m trying to think. It can’t be a preachy book where the point of the story is supposed to be learning to read. But is there a good work of literature whose hero or heroine masters letters and basic reading? (Not that I’m trying to push her. I’m backing off because clearly lesson-y things aren’t working and anyway she spends hours a day with her nose stuck in a book. But I think adding a few carrots might help her to give herself a push so to speak.)