Afternoon Play

"Listen to children. All we have is experience from our pasts, children have their visions." -Jerry Della Femina

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Happy Valentine's Day!

So many blogs, so little time! It's been a while since my last post, but we have been busy. Today Eli told me about the kindness slips he has been earning at school. Just today he got two! One for comforting his friend Jason who lost to a "cheater" during a game of tetherball. Eli explained that he realized that the girl Jason was playing actually had a "roppie" and so Eli helped Jason not get upset. He got another one for keeping his cool when someone else took paper from him without asking. Instead of getting upset, he was understanding and said that he didn't mind and that they were welcome to share. WHAT A GOOD KID!!!

Today we finished making our Valentine! They did the stop motion and this was so much fun to make:

Happy Valentine's Day from Ashly Stewart on Vimeo.

Once we finished the voice recording, Noa wanted to listen to it over and over again! She loved the way her voice sounded and she asked me if she could kiss the computer. =) She has been kissing everything that she adores lately, it's pretty hilarious.

A few weeks ago I watched Noa and her friend Emma on a Saturday afternoon while their older brothers went skiing. The girls are pretty funny together. They get along, mostly. After changing outfits from princess dress up, to unicorns and cats, to handmade paper clothes, they finally put regular clothes on and we walked to ice cream. It was a beautiful sunny day and both of the girls insisted that they bring umbrellas. Walking down the street you could see a giant ladybug and a pink kitten with two little legs below. After ice cream their true competitive spirits came out and so I distracted them with my hair:


They thought it was pretty wonderful! I had to leave it in for about an hour =)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Mc Jr.

The kids and I were on our way to frozen yogurt after Noa's gymnastics class. We came to a light and stopped. Directly to our right was Carl's Jr. and Noa asked, "Is that McDonalds?" Eli said, "No, it's Mc Jr." I laughed and said, "Actually it's Carl's Jr., but they are very similar and not good for you." They both agreed; actually they both went off about how bad fast food is for you. Noa said that they don't serve you good food to eat and that you have to wait for a long time in your car. Eli explained that you don't have to wait that long, because it's fast food, which is why it's called fast food.

I asked if they have ever eaten fast food and Eli told me they hadn't and also said, "I don't ever want it either!" Noa concurred and stated "You know why I never want to eat it?! Because I LOVE myself, that's why!"

I nearly cried laughing so hard. I wish I loved myself more sometimes. It's hard because growing up it was such a normal thing to have on occasion. Next time I am tempted to go through the drive through, I will think back to Noa and Eli's words of wisdom. They are lucky that they have never eaten it, I wish I hadn't because it really is so terrible for you...but so tempting.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Musical Education or Existential Theory?

Every now and then I take my car to go get the kids from school. Eli sometimes asks me if my music is skipping or what that "sound" is. It made me realize that there are probably a lot of different kinds of musical genres that they haven’t really heard before. On our way to get Eli from school the other day, Noa asked me what the scratchy noise was- I didn’t understand at first. Oh! I got it- she was asking about the scratching from the music playing. I tried to explain electronic music to her.

I told her that some music is made from playing instruments and that some is made from synthetic sounds with a computer. I tried to explain what a DJ does when he scratches old records on a turntable and what sound that produces. Then I thought to myself, “I wonder if Noa understands what a turn table is?” So I gave her a quick run down of that. I asked her if she understood what I was explaining. She said, “yes.”

Noa and Eli both play the violin and so they are pretty well rounded at an early age about musical composition. Finally I thought of a good example. I asked her if she could tell me the difference between a piano and a keyboard. She eagerly responded with, “Yes! They are different sizes! One is really big and one is smaller.” “Right,” I said. I asked her if she knew why and she paused. I asked her if she knew what was inside of them. “Have you ever looked inside a piano and seen all of the thick steel strings and little felt covered hammers?” She said she had.

Then she told me, “I think that when you look inside of a piano it is more like looking at a jungle with vines and trees and leaves and stuff, and it's all vines."

Kind of amazed with this answer, I asked her what she thought the inside of a keyboard must look like. She said "I think it's like a city with tall buildings and sidewalks.”

Oh my God. Yes. And here is where my teaching stopped, and Noa’s began.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Multitasking: The Grocery Store

Picked the kids up on Monday afternoon. It was a pretty nice day, but no luck with the going to the park plan. I suggested that we make cookies, because man oh man, I need some cookies this week. Making cookies means buying chocolate chips, which means going to the grocery store. I really contemplated where to go. There is Safeway, which is a better buy, but is always chaotic with all the students going in and out, not to mention the jams at the can and bottle return. Then there is Market of Choice which is a good atmosphere for kids, it is more calm and generally feels more stable, but is a pretty pricey. Which would have been fine if all I really needed was chocolate chips. But the truth is, I am so out of food and I couldn't bring myself to the grocery store to just buy chocolate chips with the kids, because who knows if I would make it back there any time soon. So the decision was made, with Safeway coming up on our left and me being broke, broke, broke- Safeway it was.

We find a parking space, no problem. Eli doesn't jump to get out of the car, this takes a little bit of negotiating. He doesn't want to go to the grocery store, or make chocolate chip cookies, lately he doesn't want to do anything he doesn't suggest. So sure enough, being the positive kid that he is, he suggests that hot chocolate would be a great component to this afternoon's snack. So that is item number two on the list.

"Of course we can make hot chocolate, that is an excellent idea Eli!"(I really wanted hot chocolate too, man he gets me every time!)

Walking up to the store seems fine at first, except that there is a really scary man standing at the door. He is mostly filthy and has long stringy hair. He wears army boots, camouflage, and a dirty jean jacket. Don't worry, Noa doesn't notice any of this, all she notices are his cute little dogs. Before I can even distract her, we are walking a little faster and Noa approaches the man and of course asks "Sir, may I pet your dogs?" He thinks this is hilarious, and says "HA, sure." A quick pet takes place, I cringe and hope there is hand sanitizer inside. Eli eagerly asks the man what kind of dogs they are. He asks a few times. The man responds with, "He's a little black one."

"Okay! Thanks, bye!" I quickly chime in and lead the kids into the store, thank god we made in. See, here I am feeling terrible for thinking so negatively because the kids don't even see this man or his dogs as being different. I hate to be cynical, but I know better and this my friends is why children have babysitters!

Once inside the store things really get exciting. Safeway has those ridiculous carts with an entire children's car on the front. I really wanted to let them use it because I remember how terrible it was when my mom wouldn't let me ride in the fun cart. But here's the thing- carts today are even more over the top. I tried to wheel it out and it felt like one of those flats you push around at Costco. I told the kids we couldn't use that one because it was too big, train-sized too big. Switching carts took some convincing, and by now we have a line forming behind us. We finally all agree on the preferred small shopping cart, because we aren't buying too many things anyway. Lesson learned: logic communicates surprisingly well with children, and adults should just be more honest with kids.

The kids were really wonderful in the grocery store. They were way better than me or any of my siblings were. I asked for everything! The only thing Eli asked for were those tiny marshmellows to put in our hot chocolate. The kid is brilliant I tell you! Of course we can get those:)

I realized that this was the first time I ever took children to the grocery store and it only felt a little bit hectic. I am sure this situation varies considering the time of day, hunger factors, nap schedules etc.. But, this was a pleasant and eye opening experience.

We didn't get to our chocolate chip cookies yet, but I look forward to baking them tomorrow. Noa suggested adding oatmeal. Even better!

Friday, October 24, 2008

Choosing a Noun

Today while we were waiting for Eli to finish up with Chess, Noa was pretty tired and opted to do Mad Libs on the playground rather than run around. Her friend Luke joined us and it was pretty hilarious. It is funny how they come to terms with a choice. "Okay," I say, "we need a noun. That is a person, place or thing." They both shout out answers when finally Luke yells, "TISSUE PAPER!" and Noa jumps in agreeing with, "I LOVE TISSUE PAPER! It is so so soft!"

Here is our Mad Lib for the day:

Every year on the 4th of July, we celebrate the 4th of July. This holiday commemorates the birth of our chocolatey clown. Many tall citizens observe Independence purse by hanging their sweater from a window or by running it up a fancy pole. Most hairstyles spend this holiday at home with family and swings or visit national woodchips and purplish-pink beaches. Food as American as apple ladder, hamburgers and corn on the macaroni and cheese are traditional holiday tissue paper. And in the evening, there are displays of teeth, such as Roman ears, shooting games, and fluffy rockets which speed run in the sky. A word of caution: Do not use cheeses unless you are supervised by a knowledgeable chipmonk.

They had me read this one twice at the park and then again in the car.

Also worth mentioning:
Today Noa told me that her dog Tio doesn't know her name, so he calls her Sue.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Rules of the Imagination

Rules of the imagination: first rule, there are no rules, you just have to have one. I almost forgot about mine, but lucky for me, Noa keeps me up-to-date with the newest and best tricks and games. Having an imagination is hard, and once you have been an adult for even just a second, it can be painful to go back. The first test was getting to know Noa's dear friend Baby. Baby is an amazing kid I tell you, often a new born and capable of teaching her dog tricks like head stands and back flips, not to mention, Baby also specializes in tree acrobats.

Noa and I usually spend about 30-40 minutes of one-on-one time before Eli gets out of school, and this has been our most creative exploration of imagination. For instance, while standing outside of Eli's school I notice that Noa is calling me, using her hand as a phone. Unsure what do to at first, she gives me the hint by yelling "Ring, ring, ring! ASH-a-LY, I am calling you, RING!"

Right. Quickly, I raise my hand to my ear and answer. Before I know it we are heading 3 feet away to the park for some soccer. She tells me I have the ball, so I come to the rescue and pass her a swift kick of air. Excusing myself from the game, I tell Noa I have to head home to have dinner. I walk about 5 feet away and am home. Noa proceeds to call me, inviting herself over for dinner with my pretend family. Once she arrives, she quickly remembers she promised her own pretend family that she would eat with them. Okay, we say our goodbyes. About 10 seconds after she leaves, I get another call. This time she is farther away, maybe 10 or so feet. Aparently, Noa got great tickets to a concert tonight, and she would really love it if I could join her and all of her new friends. I agree and she comes back over to get ready. She is kind enough to let me borrow all of her things. Appearing out of thin air, Noa hands me items one by one. I wear red shoes, red earings, a red dress and she wears the exact same, only all pink. As we are about to leave, she tells me just how excited she is that I will finally meet all of her new best friends.

Suddenly the bell rang, and thank god, because as smooth as this game was going, I was running out of things to come up with. I envy her for being 4 and completely resourceful. I miss that feeling. You know when you start loosing it, because you say that terrible sentence which haunts you for the rest of your existence... "I'm bored!" So here is to Noa and never being bored. I can honestly say, kids will be more resourceful than adults any day.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Do it again!

Lately we have been coming home for our afternoon snack. Typically, we go out to snack, but it has been a nice change to come home and make something together. I notice that the kids get stuck in ruts of wanting the same thing everyday, and a perfect example of this is that we have had quesadillas the last five afternoons I have watched them. Or how they ask me to tell them the same stories I have told them before, on repeat. "Tell us again!" Also, we have played countless hours of hide-and-seek. My favorite part of the game is when it is Noa’s turn to seek. She proceeds to yell with great surprise, “found ya!” at each turn of a corner. We have also watched the same movie the last two Saturdays in a row; however, I can’t complain, I really love Disney’s Robin Hood. And Eli can’t get enough stories on tape, thus, we have been listening to the same few tapes and CDs for the last three weeks.

It is funny to me how kids can do the same thing over, and over, and over again. But, I know I did this when I was a kid too, especially when it came to movies. I could pop one in and rewind and view it, literally, all day long.

So today I thought I would change it up a bit. Sure, we had a quesadilla for snack, but today we baked banana bread together. It was really fun to show the kids how to mix and add the ingredients. It is funny how one of them would be fickle about their task, until it was handed over to the other one, and then it was all the rage. And it was no surprise that their favorite part of the whole experience was dipping their fingers in the batter, swooping their fingers across the empty bowl and of course, licking the spoon and spatula. The bread turned out great, and I brought them over half the loaf after they finished dinner. They were pretty excited about the dessert and that they got to see me after they ate.

I on the other hand, have a delicious breakfast ready for me, and I have to say, I really love my job.