Monday, September 29, 2008

Nuu Word

Random’s got a new word. It came in over last weekend, and it came in, as many things do, with a vengeance.

She learned how to say, “No.”

Except that’s not how she says it. Her little squeaky peach voice, combined with her age and vocal control, squeezes out the word in a constrained, “Nuu” or “New.” If you have ever seen the episode of Winnie the Pooh where Rabbit pretends not to be home, she says “No” in much the same way.

Now in the bathtub, when we have to rinse her hair? "Nuu!" At the diaper changing table? "Nuu!" When she doesn't want something for dinner? "Nuu!"

Cute, but I get this strange sense of "here we go again."

Making the Grade

Well, we had the meeting with Gamble's teacher, the first grade teacher, the principal, and his reading tester.

We all agreed that it was in his best interest for Gamble to be eased into First Grade. Later this week, he will go to the First Grade classroom from 8:30 to 11:30 for reading. It's a pretty intense program, as it's three hours of uninterrupted study time, with no breaks.

In the near term, he'll get a break and come home for lunch with Mommie, instead of eating lunch and going to recess. At 12:30, he'll go back to school and be with his friends from p.m. Kindergarten.

Because p.m. First Grade is where they do all the math, science, art, and music, we all agreed that getting him in as soon as he's ready is the best for him, especially since Math is his favorite.

(an aside: since Random was at day care today, he ran in to wake up Nicole and begged, and I mean begged, for a math lesson. So today Nicole started to teach him Roman numerals. We now have a cute little activity sheet with all sorts of math problems done in Roman numerals. She additionally worked with him on negative numbers, first drawing the whole numbers along a number line and then extending it backward to the negative integers. I believe sky's the limit there. I'm pretty good with Algebra myself, so maybe I'll see if he can tell me what "x" is).

The next step will be to get him to be there the whole day, so it will be a.m. 1st, lunch and recess, then p.m. kindergarten. Then, when he's ready, we'll just bump him up. Based on his scores and abilities, the teachers aren't worried about him being behind.

In fact, the principal said that there was no way he would be able to keep a child like Gamble in Kindergarten.

Another thing I thought was interesting about the combination was that the reading tester talked about how well he assesses a work when he's reading. She talked about him knowing strategies for reading, being able to sequence a story, etc. Apparently, reading goes from about level 3 to level 20 in 1st grade, and Gamble was tested along the entire spectrum. They discovered he was about level 14, so he'll fit right into the 1st grade classroom.

We told Gamble tonight, and he was just about as happy as can be. He's pretty excited about it, and Nicole said she saw relief in his eyes. I talked to him just a few minutes ago, after he was all tucked into bed. He said he was really happy, and after I told him how proud I was of him, he beamed, almost like I've never seen him beam before. I told him that his new class will be challenging, and that he had our support, and we're there to help him if he needs us. "Daddie, I need a challenge," was all he said.

We did some quick projection. His birthday is in the summer. In the summer before his senior year of high school, he'll turn 16. He'll be a 16 year-old senior. We've now set him down the road I grew up on. From experience, I know that can be a hard road. I hope he handles it better than I did, but I now understand better why I had to walk that road, too. When you have a child like Gamble (who's far cooler than I could have been at that age, by the way), you have to let them grow to the best of their abilities. I have seen how much he dislikes the pace of his current classroom, and how much he dislikes school as a result. Worse, I remember the feeling of being frustrated in the classroom, and I know we couldn't keep him back.

Good luck, little boy. Little man. Little first-grader-to-be.

They grow up even faster than you think.


Tonight, we have a submission from the Bear:

"Tonight, during the chat with Gamble, he was just getting in bed snuggled down for a story.

"Suddenly he said, 'Hold it guys, I have a situation here...'

"Grammie asked, 'Gamble, what's the problem?'

"Gamble replied, 'Well, I couldn't find Bluey, but now I've found him...'

"This boy is a hoot!"

Thanks for sharing, Grand-a-bear!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Last Mistranslation

Gamble used to have a number of things he'd say incorrectly. Bacole is one I recently remembered (from last Christmas), and then there was buggage, which we mostly all remember. They've almost all been corrected.

There's one holdout. Gamble still says "brefkes" for "breakfast."

I don't really even notice it anymore, but today was an exception. One of the books we were reading today had the word in it. I was shocked when he pronounced it "brefkes." I mean really. The printed word is typically sounded out. That means at some point, he figured out that that particular combination of letters meant the morning meal, which then came out as "brefkes."

Kids still amaze me.

Captain Literal and the Perpetual Motion

For those of you who've ever read with Gamble, I know you'll sympathize. For those of you who haven't, I sure hope I can do it justice.

Gamble reads in motion. His body just can't sit still. He will turn around in place mid-sentence, or he might drop his legs off the side of the bed, then jump up and crouch on his knees, face only a few inches from the book, only to lie down on his stomach and put his chin on his fists.

All this in the span of about ten seconds, and I'm not exaggerating.

All of this leads to a very broken read. I've taken him to sitting what we used to call "Indian style", but I'm not sure what today's PC equivalent is. Native American style? Injun chic? Probably I should just say cross-legged, but for some reason I always just say Indian style. He knew what I meant.

It seems very painful for him to sit still. Almost as if he's a perpetual motion machine, and he just can't stop.

As if that's not enough, he takes breaks mid-sentence to ask questions about the pictures. I got a little tired of this habit tonight, and I decided to try to break it. Silly me.

"Gamble, when you read, you're not supposed to take a break in the middle of a sentence. You should only stop to look at the pictures when you hit a period, a question mark, or an exclamation (to *make your*) point."

"Ok, Daddie."

Well, we were in the middle of the one duck that got his feathered tush stuck down in the grassy stinky marsh. This book has the repeating refrain, "No luck. The duck stayed stuck deep in the muck down by the greasy grimy marsh," or something similar.

This young spaceman, this Captain Literal, took me at my word. He stopped not just at the periods and question marks, but at every period and question mark.

"Gamble, you don't have to stop at every question mark."

"Oh, I know," he said. But then he proceeded to say, "No luck." He very pointedly looked all around the picture, lingering on the picture. It was maddening, and just before I could say something, he started humming. "Hmm hm-hm," he singsonged.

Oh, Jeez. "Gamble, can we move on."

"Oh, Daddie. I'm just looking at the picture. You see? I hit a period, so I can look now."

The good thing is that he's stopped taking breaks mid-sentence, but I'm not sure whether I've sped up the book or not. That boy!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Counting by X

Nicole writes in:

"A story from today. Gamble is still so amazing!

"I wanted to share with you another incredible story about Gamble, from just this morning. You see, we like to play educational games that we put to music or fun. This particular scenario started with Gamble giving me "5" and counting by 5's to 100, something that he has been doing for a couple of years now.

"At the age of 2, he figured out the pattern of how to count by 10's to 100, so this wasn't unusual.

"I decided though, to change it up a bit. I asked Gamble to pick a number between 1 and 10. He picked the number 4.

"I told him that we would then count by 4's to 100. He looked at me quizzically, but I had him hit my hand with every number while he listened to me do it first. After I did it, I asked him to do it too. Another funny face, but then he was off and counting by 4's.

"I have to tell you, he did it. All the way to 100, with minimal intervention from me. I then asked him to pick another number. He picked 2's, then 20's. He did both of these without me even doing it for him first.

"I also wanted to share with you another game that we did on the way to school. I, for kicks, wanted to see if he could add more than 2 numbers together. I asked him what 3 plus 3 plus 3 was?

"He immediately responded with 9. 'Wow!' I thought. I went through a couple more numbers to verify that he understood the concept.

"He did.

"Then, I explained that 3 times 3 was the same thing as 3 plus 3 plus 3. After that, I began asking what 2 times 3, 10 times 3, etc. were and sure enough, he came up with the number. All of this was done in the car and without help.

"From there, I started talking about fractions again. If I have 4 pieces in a puzzle and I take two away, what do I have? He would respond with 2/4 and so on."

I, for one, am an amazed Daddie.


So this weekend, Pobbes walked a lot.

We believe that her newfound steadiness is a direct result of seeing other kids walking around her in the daycare. There's no doubt she's learning things.

Today, Nic said they found her climbing the bookshelves.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Last night Random was crying a blue streak. Mommie, exhausted from being up with her a million times already, hadn’t heard her yet, so I got up to try to assist in my own bleary-Daddie way.

When I walked into her room, I saw her sitting in her crib, and as I got nearer to her, I saw she was holding her blanket. She cried as she held the blanket up to me.

As I took it, I realized that her crib music was playing, which she always likes to fall asleep to. As soon as I’d taken the blanket, all crying ceased. She face-planted into her pillow, and I put the blanket over her.

In retrospect, it was evident that she was upset that she could not get the blanket on top of her, though whether for comfort or warmth, I can’t say. She cried until I came to help, and went back to sleep with no fuss.

She’s become so much more interesting in only a few weeks. Or maybe I have.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Amanda Hugginkiss

From Mommie:

"Gamble, thank you for the flower," I said.

"Oh no, Mommie. That isn't for you," he said, shaking his head. "A-man-da gave that to me."

"Oh, really?" I perked up. "Gamble, that was very nice of her."

"Yeah, and if you get a flower from a girl, that means that they lo-o-ove you!" he exclaimed, really drawing out the O.

"Oh boy," I thought. "Really?" I asked him.

"Yeah, and the big deal is that we are going to get married. If you get a flower from a girl, you have to accept it, and that means that you are gonna get married."

Oh my. Two weeks into school and we already have ear infections, 5th disease, bronchitis and now a marriage pending. Are we really ready for this?

Daddie note:
Shoot, Gamble, you've got to hold out for more than flowers. I at least got a puzzle ring from your Mommie...

The Baby and the Bathwater

Bathing Random tonight, I noticed that she was bobbing her head down toward the water. I didn't know what she was doing, but I was worried that she was going to drown herself.

Then I noticed that she was doing what every kid does eventually, sipping the bath water. Essentially drinking a very weak cup of Random tea. A very light Random soup.

Why do kids think they're so delicious?

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Pabu Smurf

Nicole's been under the weather, so I got to help Random with her class today.  I'm not sure exactly what the class is called, but it's part structured activity, part chaos.  Even with Nic's tips, I'm not sure I was prepared for the experience.

One thing I wasn't aware was that this was messy week.  I'd come directly from work, so I wasn't really dressed down.  Turns out that the main event was apple painting.

No, not painting apples.

Stamping fruit cut in half into a puddle of paint and then stamping it on a piece of paper.

Despite my initial panic, it wasn't as messy as I thought it would be at first blush, however.  Mostly this was because of Pabu, bless her heart.

First we had activity time, in which she struggled to stay on my lap (she wanted to go and crawl around.  She's usually so complacent, but tonight, the other kids were all sitting still for their parents, and Pobbes wanted oh you tee, you see?

Right after, we headed for the paints.  There was a lot of space at the table, since that's unstructured time.  Many kids went to play with toys, run around, kick balls, and play in the giant pasta bin.  

She loves little chairs, and she very delicately climbed up onto the nearest one.  I helped her pick up the fruit and stamp it in the paint.  I think the instructors didn't have Random in mind when they designed this activity.  There's no handle on fruit, so she had a very hard time trying to palm the fruit in her hand.  When she did finally pick it up, she got paint on her hand.

She looked up at me as if she was bleeding (it was red paint, after all), and I got a napkin to wipe her down.  Then it happened again.  I stamped the fruit on her paper, trying to get her involved, but she wasn't having any of it.

Finally, we gave up.  I took the paint over to dry, and we went over to the marker department.  She's an interesting colorer.  She would prefer more to open the marker and close the marker over using the marker, and she opened and closed every marker in the bin, while I drew faces, wrote color words, and outright colored.  

Eventually, she scribbled on her picture. 

So given how daintily she reacted to the painting incident, I decided to try something.  I took a blue marker and made a single blue dot on the back of her right hand.

She looked at her hand.  Kind of stared at it, really.  Then she looked up at me, and back down to her hand.

So I did what any father in my position would have done.  I did it again.  It looked like a little blue snake bite.

This time, she got a look on her face.  I'm not sure I've seen the look before. I couln't tell whether she was angry at me, or whether she was hurt by what I'd done, or whether she was just getting tired.  Perhaps she has her very own inscrutable look.

Whatever she was thinking, she reached up for the marker.  I handed it to her.  

Just as the marker passed between us, I realized my mistake.  "Uh oh," I thought, and time slowed to a crawl.  My mind raced well ahead.

Before I could really do anything about it, she had colored the entire back of her left hand blue and was on her way up her arm.  Before my eyes, she was turning herself into a Smurf (or Violet Beauregard) I realized in my experimentation, I'd inadvertently taught her to color on herself, a lesson I'd have to get her to unlearn, and quick.

I took the marker from her (gently), and told her that we don't do that (silly hypocrite, Daddie!), and she immediately went back to coloring on the paper.

But if she ever gets a tattoo, I will always consider it my fault for teaching her to color on herself.


Tonight, I gave Pabu a bath, since Mommie's still on the down and out.  I'd seen it before, but tonight I was sure.

She held up her rubber duckie in front of her face.


"Random!  Did you just say 'quack'?"


How cute!  I decided to start singing her an old Wiggles song that has quacking and cock-a-doodly-doo-ing in it.  She flapped her elbows like wings, and before long we were singing together, quacking our elbows like ducks and showing our combs like roosters.  We went down to sing together for a sick Mommie.

She's come a long way in just a few short weeks.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Mommie Adoration

There's no question whose girl that is.

Random is Mommie's girl.

It's never been clearer than this week, when she's been so ill.  Well, we've all been a bit ill, but Random got hit pretty hard, and Mommie's still pretty bad.  

Either way, when she's sick, she's all Nic's.  I try to play with her, she cries.  I try to hug her, she cries.  I can't feed her, and she smacks my hand away if I try to hold her hand.

On the other hand, she's Mommie's, non-stop.  Every time they see each other after a nap or being apart, they sing, "Reunited and it feels so good."  That's their song.  Random is now singing it along with her.

Just like I've got my boy, she's got her girl. 

When Nic's cooking in the kitchen, there's Pobbes right behind her to hang on her pants.  She'll cry if she sees her Mommie leave, and sometimes just if she misses her. 

These times may be gone soon enough, but for now, Random is all about the Mommie adoration.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

He Leaks

Aunt Sam writes in to tell a story about Gamble:

"Forgot to tell you a funny story. Thought you might be amused.

"N might have mentioned, but we stopped off at a produce market yesterday. I grabbed a cart and asked G if he would help me pick out some fruit and vegetables for me and Johnnie.

As always, he was super helpful, immediately running up to the apples asking if we needed some. He picked out some red apples, hot peppers (carefully with the tongs), oranges, and broccoli for me. Noticing that he already has a PhD in produce recognition (geesh), I decided to make it a little more challenging for him.

So I told him to find me some leeks. He looked at me like I was nuts and said 'leeks?'

I grabbed a plastic bag, walked him over to the pile of leeks, and told him to dig in and grab one.
It was a huge pile so he first looked to me for some reassurance before digging in: 'Go head, grab a big leek, I don't have all day.'

So he carefully pulls out the largest leek he could find and proudly holds it up high in the air for me to see. Immediately, a large cascade of dirty cold water runs off the leek, down his arm, and into his little arm pit. He was not amused and started to get upset.

Trying to avoid a possibly bad situation, I had to think fast. So I turned to him and said 'Um...
well, G... that's why they call them leeks. They leak! Get it?'

He burst out laughing.

Ok, so I lied to Gamble. Maybe someday when he gets older you can explain to him that they
are leeks and not leaks!"

Thanks Aunt Sam! Glad you had such a good time with him!


A shout out to our adorable baby sister tonight who's in the ER with Mommie. Baby girl, your boys are at home, and we love you! Feel better!