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Mookie's Mama

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Mookie's Mama

16 days old

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July 8th, 2012

New location

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Find posts from today forward here. It's easy to subscribe to updates there, so come on over and click "follow" to keep up with Mookie.

Eventually I may move all my past posts over to the new site, but in the meantime, the first five years will remain here.

June 1st, 2012

Writing

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Mookie is very interested in the initials of words, pointing out alliteration and noticing that it's like rhyming. I told her the word for it, an important one in this alliteration-adoring family. A few weeks ago she went through a phase where she sometimes wouldn't say straight out what she wanted but would code it by its initials. So, "Stay in bed" would be "s, i, b," though she is tripped up by ambiguous sounds like vowels and "c."

Around that time, she made this note, which she explained said "Come here":

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This looks like a note too, but I don't know what it says:

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May 14th, 2012

A song

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Made up on the spot by Mookie, and sung to the tune of "Jingle Bells":

Uppy please, uppy please, uppy all the way
Oh what fun it is to ride in an uppy sort of way--hey!

May 5th, 2012

Really reading

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Our little Mookie can really read!

The banner day was April 22, and the banner book was Frog and Toad Together. I was reading her "Cookies," and she just started reading words here and there ("Toad," "Frog,"), so I stepped aside and she started to read every word!

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Joy joined us and watched over our shoulders, and she and I helped on tough words when Mookie got stuck. Mookie read most of that story and the next one ("Dragons and Giants"), sometimes getting tired and asking me to read a while instead.

She guesses based on first letters more than she sounds things out. Neither we nor her school has done any significant phonics, but if she has the patience and it's a fairly phonetic word, we'll sound it out and urge her to do the same (that evening we acted out the Two-Headed Monster from Sesame Street), but generally, she either recognizes them or not. She files them away in her amazing memory before our eyes. When she came to "high," in "Cookies," she stopped, and Joy said, "That's a tricky word," and told it to her. When we read the story again a while later, Mookie came to "high" and read it right out.

She has read to me a little bit since, but mostly she wants to be read to. We think maybe she thinks Frog and Toad stories are the only ones she can read.

We've noticed her reading here and there for a long time, like when we were in the zoo and she cried out, "Children's Zoo!" as we approached that sign. "How did you know that this was the children's zoo?" we asked. She said, "I just did." And then there was the moment on April 10 when she and Joy were watching "Simon's Cat" videos. "The Box," Mookie announced, as another one came up, with, sure enough, the title "The Box" on Joy's phone screen.

Joy: How did you know this was called "The Box"?
Mookie: You told me.
Joy: No, I didn't.
Mookie, after a moment's thought: Well, I was looking at the words and I heard a little voice in my head say "The Box."

I had forgotten, until Joy told me this story, that that is what reading is like. You look at the words and a voice says them aloud. And now Mookie is discovering the wonders of reading. We already knew she was reading quite a lot of words. The turning point on Earth Day, with Frog and Toad, was that she knew it.

I love to read so much that it brings tears to my eyes to see that infinite world opening up before her.

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May 2nd, 2012

Two jokes

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Mookie: Who let the chicken cross the road?
Me: I don't know, who?
Mookie: The chicken!

She thought this was very funny.

Mookie: Knock knock.
Me: Who's there?
Mookie: Didjaknow.
Me: Didjaknow who?
Mookie: Did you know that if [Mookie's real name] starts with [X], then the [object that has the same name] also has an [X]? I wasn't even going to say that, but I turned it into a joke! On my own!

May 1st, 2012

Flying bunnies

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When we woke up yesterday morning, we were bunnies. Not just any bunnies; flying bunnies. Mookie drew me down to a little nest of blankets on the floor.

Mookie: I'm in an egg.
Mama: Actually, bunnies are mammals.
Mookie: But we're flying bunnies.

Makes sense. She tunneled under me, curled up in an egg shape, and a few seconds later emerged from the egg with a loud crack. Then she unzipped my robe and pretended to nurse. "Gulp, gulp, gulp!" Sure, flying mammals who hatch from eggs would nurse, wouldn't they?

She immediately tried to fly out of the nest, even though I reminded her that birds have to practice this for a while before they're ready. She was raring to go. Independent just like her alter ego.

April 4th, 2012

Zen Master Mookie

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Tonight Mookie and I were playing Bosque Hi-Ho, a game so mind-numbingly boring that after ten minutes I am begging for an intellectual challenge like Candy Land. It's cute, though, and moderately interesting to Mookie, and it reminds me of Mexico--we bought it for her birthday spent there--so I was touched that she asked for it. The idea is to fill your basket with the ten fruits of your color, based on the spin of the arrow: 1, 2, 3, or 4 gets you that many fruits; landing on the bird or dog means you "give two fruits to the bird or dog" (actually, put them on the tree so you can try to spin for them again); landing on the spilled basket means you put all of yours back on the tree.

The Zen moment came when I had no fruits in my basket and I rolled a spilled basket. Mookie's reaction: But you already don't have any! Whoo hoo! *double high-fives Mama*

If I were a monk in a Zen story I think that would have been my moment of enlightenment. Since I'm not, it just made me laugh, and then mutter to myself, "Gotta blog about that." Mindfulness, shmindfulness.

BTW, this was one of two Spanish games Mookie requested tonight. In the pendulum swing between "Spanish! It's cool!" and "Spanish? No way Jose!" we are currently on the happy side.

March 31st, 2012

The place to be

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There weren't limos or red carpets, but clearly the happening place in San Francisco today was the new Dolores Park playground, formally called Helen Diller Playground. Now, we live not too far from there, and planned to meet up with friends who live even closer, and although we figured it would be mobbed today, its first day, we also figured the mob would mostly be kids from the Mission and nearby neighborhoods. Yeah, right. Children from every quarter of the city were there. We ran into three families from Mookie's school, one alumni family, and Joy's boss. Even with Mookie wearing the perfect crowd outfit--bright yellow, orange, red, and green stripes--we lost track of her once for long enough to age us both several months. After what were probably three frantic minutes tops, but felt like about three months, I finally got smart and got up on the bridge, thinking I'd be sure to see her from that vantage point, which I did. Conversation when I found her--correction, when she found me, as she claims to have done:

Mama: Baby! We've been looking for you everywhere.
Mookie: I went on an adventure, and then I got lost.
Mama: Just as long as you don't leave the playground. If you stay in the playground, we'll be able to find you.
Mookie: I didn't leave the playground. Well, I left it for a little bit, but I was just a little outside it.
(Several more gray hairs pop out on Mama's head)

Maybe I should have put a "Grandparent Advisory: Do Not Read" before that bit.

Anyway, this playground rocks. It's entirely covered in that nice, springy surface that I wish they'd had when I was a kid (leading some idiots to cite it as an example of how today's coddled kids won't learn anything about taking risks. Have these people actually gone to a modern playground with a child? You can't keep them from risking their necks. Or getting lost. See above). This surface also makes it a lot easier for both parents and kids in wheelchairs to get around. Dolores Park is on a steep hill, and a new bridge extends from the top of the hill out over half the playground. The playground has a big musical section, a sand area we didn't even get around to exploring, big swings, and hills with a wide variety of means for climbing up and down them. There are cool boulders and climbers that look like contemporary sculpture. There are actual contemporary sculptures--I liked the spinning 20-foot-high mobile. There's a huge twisty slide and a shorter, wide-enough-for-four-kids slide, both of which Mookie loved; I guess slides are back in. (She was fearless about them when she was 2, then didn't like them for a couple of years, but she had no qualms about these, and even went down the latter headfirst.) You get to the top of a slide via stairs or by climbing the hill the slide is built into, not via ladders, which makes going up almost as much fun as going down. It has tiny little baby slides, too, along with the other perfect-for-toddlers stuff, like tunnels and spinning seats, in the 2-to-5-years section. Its excellent climbing wall is under the huge climbing web--great idea to put those two features together. The decor seems to have something vaguely marine going on, with two boats to climb on and starfish lining the stairs. Whatever. We will be going back there for a less crowded experience soon.

The First Lady was in SF today, doing really boring stuff like launching a new ship. She should've come on over to the Mission to cut the ribbon on Helen Diller Playground. Knowing her schedule is tight, we'd have let her cut in line for the big slide.

March 27th, 2012

My limit

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How many Magic Treehouse books can I listen to in a row before I go googly-eyed with stupefaction? Apparently, about three. I'm glad she adores these books--they seem friendly and wholesome, and might awaken an interest in ninjas and other important things to know about--but after borrowing books 1-8 on CD, it's definitely time to get something else out of the library.

March 2nd, 2012

Five years old

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16 days old
1 p.m.

Last night, just before midnight, I hurried up to Mookie's room to have one more look at my four-year-old daughter. I have really loved four. It's been a lovely year, mostly very easy and happy. Developmentally, something has shifted over the past few weeks--she's been cranky, testing limits, testing whether crying will get her whatever she wants (that didn't last long), and doing lots of yelling. I hope it doesn't mean that that's what Five is like, but will pass within a few weeks. We know she is nervous about kindergarten, which she seems to think is like a prison camp with lots of homework, and no playing, so that may be the cause of the tension. After a bad tantrum the other night, she tearfully told Joy, "I don't want to have a fit on my birthday."

But even with the crankiness, she's been a lot of fun. Reading in her book nook, alone or with us. Long games of make-believe with her various stuffed animals and dolls. Little tableaux all over the house. (When I got home last night, there was a jewelry-size cardboard box in the kitchen doorway. Beside it was her blue stepstool, with a family of ducks arranged underneath. Huh.)

And this morning, the big day, there was no fit. She wandered into the kitchen all sleepy and snuggly, told me about her dream, got dressed all by herself while I finished getting her cake into the oven, and declined to shower with me (so much for the dream of clean hair on her birthday. It's our dream, not hers), instead getting herself breakfast while I was showering. She patiently waited for us all to gather for the ceremonial opening of the presents. Our big girl.

- - -

9:15 p.m.

It's been a full, happy day. Joy and I both came to the birthday-party portion of the school day. Mookie's school really knows how to make birthdays magical. There's a big sign on the birthday girl's cubby, with stars and beautiful multicolored lettering reading "Happy Birthday, [Mookie]!" The kids bake muffins earlier in the day--Mookie requested blueberry. At the end of story time, she gets to name the kids one by one to go wash their hands, while a few become the Birthday Band. As they gather their instruments, she dons a cape and sits on the birthday throne, and is then carried to the table as the Birthday Band accompanies the procession and everyone sings a special birthday song. The head table has a special high tray for the birthday girl, and members of the Birthday Band join her there, along with her family. She gets a muffin with a candle and everyone sings "Happy Birthday," adding "cha cha cha" after each line (a C5 innovation?).

On this occasion, several kids had gone to the City Hall rotunda around noon to see Irish dancing, and it made such an impression on them that they decided to put on a special performance for Mookie's party. Erin, her teacher, put on Irish music and they drummed and danced with gusto, and in some cases, with strikingly good form (one friend, A., really had the motionless-above-the-knees thing down). When the birthday muffins were done and kids started to leave the table (clearing their places as they went), many moved over to the smart board for an Irish dance party.

After some drawing, some writing of Dr. Seuss's name (the whole day had a bit of a flavor of Dr. Seuss celebration, since it's his birthday too; Erin was reading the kids Oh, the Places You'll Go! when I came in), and some painting of other kids' faces, Mookie was ready to leave school a bit early for our family date seeing The Lorax.

And now we've had a light dinner and settled down. Mookie wanted to play with her new "pet vet" kit, so Joy let her put off bedtime for 15 minutes, and I tucked myself in. A few minutes later, Mookie came into our room and announced, with a great air of giving me a present, that she was going to snuggle with me. A few minutes after that, she was asleep on Joy's pillow.

Joy came in, discovered bedtime had happened on its own, and said what we say to each other at least once a week: "Look at that beautiful little girl." We have just been watching her as she sleeps. In the morning her cheeks will be pink, but right now she is still pale with tiredness. She takes my breath away. Shortly before bed, I asked Mookie if she had a happy birthday, and she wrapped her arms around me, snuggled her head against my chest, and said, "Yes, but most of all I love you." And now I'm going to close my laptop and lie down next to her for some sweet dreams.
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