Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Roger

Lately a few happenings have particularly reminded me of my grandfather, Roger Shattuck.  Roger was and still is one of the most important people in my life, though he passed away five years ago.  He was such a singular and brilliant man I feel unable to briefly explain him here and now.  So, I have decided not to try.  Also, most of you, my dedicated and limited audience, knew him quiet well.

I have recently picked up the habit of calling Joseph by his first and middle name when the emphasis is needed, as in “Joseph Roger, do not pee there!”  I also heard a fun commentary on NPR about a school in Milton that is incorporating an extensive study of proverbs into it’s upper elementary curriculum.  As scary as it is to use the word curriculum with any relation to Roger (he had very definite and strict ideas about what did and did not qualify as a curriculum) I do remember him often speaking of the wisdom and importance of proverbs.  Not only does the idea of making use of them in a school setting appeal to me, I also realized that I Wynken, Blynken and Nod by Bob Petillo Giclee Reproduction ~ 14/' x 20/'can use them more at home!  Currently I am often quoting to J, “think before you act” and we have had a bit of discussion about the meaning of this wisdom.  My goal is to say and follow-as best I can-these proverbs so much so that they become part of J’s subconscious . 

On the literary front, I found a copy of Wynken, Blynken, and Nod at the used book store, gave it to Joseph, and love enjoying this favorite poem of Roger’s together.

Best of all, Joseph and I are now reading Alice In Wonderland together!!  If I recall correctly, Roger cited this book as his best loved.  That means a lot to me.  This book had occurred to me as a possibility for Joseph when I was Christmas shopping (at all three of my local bookstores—one new and two used) but I then decided it might be a bit too advanced.  Plus, ashamedly, I had never actually read the whole thing so didn’t really know what it was like.  Then, one day last week, J was very quite upstairs for a long time and then came down with a copy of said book in his hand begging for me to read it to him!  It is also a bit embarrassing that I didn’t remember I already had a copy of the book, though in my defense it is a small and simple Dover edition with only the original drawings that was among boxes of such Dover books I took home when I worked at The Vermont Book Shop.  Anyways, the point is, Joseph somehow found this among all the books on the “grown-up” book shelves and was fascinated by the fanciful illustrations.  Together we are now loving our adventure down the rabbit hole!

Often other, small things bring him to mind.  Stacking wood.  Garlic soup.  J running around in his long underwear all day today after we went skating.  Making bread.  I am so grateful for his example and wisdom and love sharing it with Joseph.   Of course, many things I do are not so close to Roger’s memory, blogging and imperfect writing being high on that list.  But, I do my best, in my own way. 

Monday, December 20, 2010

Holy holidays!

I don't think I have ever done so many holiday activities, but we are really having fun this season.  Joseph is at a very good age for enjoying the festivities!

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We went into Middlebury for their big holiday day, just as we did last year.  We visited the train exhibit and other exhibits and activities at the Henry Sheldon Museum (always our favorite), the gingerbread house competition at the Folk Life Center, a clown at the library, and of course Santa at the Community House (Santa is still pretty scary for J, hence the funny face).

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After that we met up with Brad and Bob (granpa) to hunt for a Christmas tree in the Lincoln woods where I grew up.  This is the first year since Joseph was born that we have done this and I think we will make it a tradition.  We had a really wonderful time and went on quite a trek!

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Impossible to get everyone to look normal.

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So beautiful!

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And we eventually found a tree!  Quite a good one actually.

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Decorating.

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We also met up with Bob for a Hanukah party in Middlebury.  Again, Joseph was able to enjoy this much more than other years.  He even one a long game of Dreddle and joined up for some Islreali folk dancing. This was very special for me since I adore dancing!

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Another very favorite part of the season for us is crafting!  I made the wreath and the Joseph and I made the garland.  I even let J use a real needle.  He worked very hard at it, but I realized that we wouldn't be making enough for the tree and put it on the wreath instead.  I love it!

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Enjoying the snow and stacking wood.

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Since we now have three kitties there have been numerous ornament casualties.  J and I have been working on making unbreakable ornaments,. 

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Gingerbread houses are Joseph’s very favorite passion right now.  Above he is “posing” with the one he made at school.  I thought it was pretty neat that they actually made the structure themselves.  The day that they were to decorate Joseph was so excited he woke up at four in the morning!

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This weekend we went with Grandma to NY to make gingerbread houses and cookies with cousins Bri and Jacob.  Joseph had been dreaming about making his house all week and spent  a LONG time on his masterpiece.  I could not believe how he lined up all those tiny candies.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

How I am turning into my parents

Now that I have my own little one I am seeing more and more ways in which we do things similarly to my parents.  I am following in their footsteps in ways that I never imagined!

  • Garden-growing up my parents had numerous amazing gardens and I never appreciated it all.  In fact, I didn’t really like either the chores or the vegetables.  Now, I am a total convert.  I adore our little garden that we have been working on here and dream of doing more.  I enjoy the chores and the produce!   
  • Playing in bed with J-I fondly remember playing in bed under the cover with my mom on weekends, when she--like me--wasn’t too enthused about getting out of bed.  Now J and I do the same!
  • Lists and labels-This is something my father and I share.  Lists and lists.  Brad likes to say I make lists about making lists.  Not true, but close. And I am even starting to label a little bit . . .
  • Collecting books-The house I grew up in had books in every nook, and my collection is starting to look that way.  Awhile ago a friend commented about how crazy her hubby was for holding onto his college text books.  I laughed—because I still have most of mine!  And when I told this story to my father, he topped me, saying he still had some of his!
  • Wood heat-Like my parents, Brad and I try to do things as simply as possible.  Brad cuts all our wood from our woods and last year we only had wood heat.  This year we did get a small backup propane tank, but haven’t touched it yet.  My parents didn’t have anything but wood heat until I was born.  (We also haven’t had a working dryer since last spring.)
  • VPR-Again, was a major part of my childhood, and something I complained about.  Now it’s on a lot of the time here!  (Actually, I swear that it was a lifeline when I was home full-time, and sometimes I still need it for this reason.)
  • Anti-commercialism-My mom would never allow me to have Barbie's and I didn’t have many of the other traditional toys either.  I had the very best toys: the woods and nature.  Joseph has already picked up on the fact that he doesn’t have the same toys as other kids and it is hard to stick to, but I really don't believe in all that branded, cheap, plastic.
  • Vermont—I grew up here; always wanted to leave until I finally left and then came right back to stay.  Now I am so happy to be raising my little guy here!

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Thursday, December 2, 2010

J-O-S-E-P-H

Until very recently Joseph has not been very interested in letters and numbers, though he has friends that know all their letters and have been writing for a long time.  In the last month or so I noticed him taking more  interest in talking about letters, but he still would not try to write them.  He is a bit of a perfectionist and has always been intimidated by the task.  BUT, today we were at the library and the boy we were sitting next to (who is the same age as J) nicely wrote his name on his picture.  Joseph watched, and then calmly asked me, “how do I write my name?”  I told him what to do and this is what he came up with:

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I was shocked!  And excited. 

My philosophy has always been to just expose J to numbers, letters, and other early learning skills and let them develop as naturally as possible.  I think that at this age children’s real task is to PLAY.  They will spend plenty of time in school when older.  Using their imagination, getting outside, learning how fun books can be, playing with others, building loving relationships, and security are most important.  This is also the perspective of J’s “teacher.”  That being said, it was hard not to notice as others moved ahead in these preschool skills.  Comparing kiddos is mostly best avoided, but hard not to do.  Now, he still isn’t the most advanced, but it is fun to see him enjoy this new adventure. 

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Here is some writing he did about half a year ago on a very rare occasion that he showed interest.  I think it is cute because the first letter he wrote was H for his bud Hadley.  He also had done “O” a couple times.  That is all until today.

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Last night he wouldn’t stop doing his workbook and tonight it was writing.  He also didn’t know how to spell his name until all of a sudden today he will tell you J-O-S-E-P-H without hesitation.  Not sure what is going on, but this is all quite fun and exciting.  I love watching him concentrate and work so hard ;-) 

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Lastly, here is his letter to Santa, as dictated.  Don’t be specific or anything Joseph.  I tried to get him to come up with some other ideas (especially since for the last month or so he has been telling me everyday new things he wants for Christmas) but this was all I could get out of him today.