Saturday, June 30, 2012

Happy 4th of July!

Happy 4th of July! ( a little early)
My crew will drive into town at 9 tonight to watch fireworks.  By then the temperature will drop to a cool 90 degrees.  Did I just use the word cool and 90 in the same sentence??

It’s been hot.  107 degrees hot one day this week.

Since this is my online scrapbook of sorts, I’m posting some crop photos to look back on. 

This year will bring a small harvest to many. We hold hopes for future rain to help the corn fields still holding on and for the soybeans. Others in the Midwest might have it worse than us, or remember too well a recent dry year.  Maybe many of us are in the same situation? It’s a wide-spread drought year for sure.

I also wish it would rain and cool down for the outdoor animals.  I'm thankful we have central air conditioning in our home. 

I don’t know farmers to be the “sit inside and watch the fields turn brown” sort of people.  This year brings opportunities of using heavy equipment on dry, hard soil. Filling in holes in field pathways.  Reworking waterways.

Busting up concrete foundations in backyards and hauling in soil for a future garden (I am really excited about this one.  This is my backyard I’m talking about!)
I dream of the coming spring where I plant broccoli and kohlrabi early. Then weeks later fill in the garden with green beans, tomatoes, sweet corn and sunflowers. Maybe a pumpkin plant for my G.

For 3 days this week, a track hoe has been parked in our backyard.  G now says backhoe (close enough) .  Sounds like “Bab-ho”.  If Hugabug starts whimpering in the evening, I say “G is there still a backhoe in the backyard?”  It’s a guaranteed mood changer.  We need it.  He is not happy we have to stay inside until after dusk.

G shows excitement to watch the fireworks this evening.  We previewed some on You Tube right after supper.

Big thank you to the local volunteer fire department for putting on the fireworks show tonight.  It’s a sight to see and a refreshing way to spend a hot evening!


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Our vacation must-dos

A graciously early spring gave our family an opportunity this month: Vacation!
Our St. Louis must-dos:
· The Zoo, Magic House, Grant’s Farm
· Me: Drink out of a coffee cup each morning
· Hubby: Eat a good slice of pizza
· G: Go down the slide, 20 times

On the way to the Magic House we stopped in at Pudd’nhead Books on Big Bend Road, where we touch and browse books handpicked by independent bookstore owners.

G grabs an Elmo cooking book and flops on a miniature chaise sofa in the children’s area. This bookstore won’t hold every book in the publishing world, but they did own some good reads.

We carried this hardback out of the store with us and read it immediately in the car seat:
Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey and Tom Lichtenheld. The colors and illustrations look striking in this book. Aha, one author worked as a graphic designer.

The soft cover book, Good Sports: Rhymes about Running, Jumping, Throwing, and More is a clear winner. Jack pretlutsky writes grand-slam verses about sports, and Chris Raschka creates energetic water-color like illustrations.

This book is branded as a Dragon Fly book , and at $8.00 the price is just right for me. So perfect, I search online for more books such as this and found the Random House website, which organizes books by age and theme. A keeper for someone in the teaching field, or a momma who is really into books.

The Magic House brings back my own memories of exploring and learning in this Victorian style house. We meet up with my good childhood friend and her daughter, and head to the toddler area.
Sand. Water. Slides. Cool walls kiddos can push in. This place could keep our little ones busy for hours!

We enjoyed a day at the Zoo, where we checked out many animals. Our favorite were the orangutans , which dined on lettuce while we watched. I would say the animals at the Zoo didn’t quite impress Grant. He gets to actually touch and feed the cows at Grandpa and Grandma’s house. It’s hard to beat that.. right? The Zoo was still fabulous and a highly recommended must see in St. Louis.

At Grant’s Farms, G sticks out his tongue for the first 30 minutes of our visit (a true Rudolphi trait, my family tells me) Family truly made our visit here a wonderful time, since we met up with cousins, aunts and uncles who were also vacationing in St. Louis. When brought up close to the Clydesdales, G forcefully shook his head no. His face read: “No, dad. I don’t wanna ride this horsey.”

To check off the pizza request, we dined on Delmar Street at Pi Pizza, where waiters slipped bowls of water under tables for dogs while their masters ordered deep dish, corn meal dusted pizza. Puppies create long moments of G admiration, meaning G actually sat in his chair for the meal. When this momma can eat a meal with both hands, it’s worth noting. And since the restaurant served local brews for a mathematically agreeable $3 point 14 cents, I think Daddy felt happy too.

During our vacation we stayed at Shaw Guest Suite, a fully furnished apartment in the trendy Tower Grove area of St. Louis. G’s little shoes pitter pattered on the hard wood floors, just like they do at our own house. The place felt like home. With bed time stories available on a bookshelf, I read the classic tale Billy Goat’s Gruff two times one evening.

By day two, G pointed excitedly at the red door with colorful flag posted in the grass which marked our dwelling for the week. The fountain park across the street gave G a fun afternoon of splashing in the hot sun.

We loved our vacation. An entire week with all three of us together = perfect.
What are some fun St. Louis activities your crew likes to do?


Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Bummer

Thinking back to the first time G threw a “real good fit”….  G wanted something, and we didn’t deliver.  As if I served him a bowl of jalapenos during snack time while sitting on thumbtacks.  Unhappy.

Most tantrums these days involve going inside, when G wants to be outside.  At the early stages we had no clue what he wanted, but I saw the wheels turning in G’s mind.  No longer were his needs bottles, diapers and bed.  G now had wants.  “Show me” I would ask him, picking up G and bringing him to the area where he pointed and screamed.  G can now “tell me” by saying Drink, Spoon, Go.  It’s helped.

Of course things exist G wants, but can’t have. I call these things “a bummer” cause what can you do?

These days area farmers wait in what the radio tells me is a moderate to severe drought.  We feel bummed, to say the least. 

Due to an early spring, perfect stands of corn emerged out of the soil.  As I type here I drink a cold glass of lemonade because I feel dry.  Six weeks; no rain.  A tenth of an inch teases occasionally.  Our front yard displays drab brown with curves of green around watered landscaping.  2012: The year we saw a June drought …during field corn pollination.  Ugh.

We remain thankful, no doubt.  We recall many good years recently.  We have enough to get us by.

We do try to find the humor. Common sayings in our house this week:

“A year for the bottom ground.”  “Our field of pineapples.”   “A break from mowing.”

The Little Critter series remind me of these “bummer” moments in a little-person way.  Author and illustrator Mercer Mayer writes about the major issues of growing up through humorous storytelling using animal characters.  

The story “I Was So Mad” tells the story of feeling angry.  With minimal text and lots of illustrations the little critter in this tale gets told “no”, a lot.  He can’t play with his sister’s dollhouse. 

Hide-and-seek in clean sheets?   No. 
Practice a juggling show with eggs?  No. 
Tickle the goldfish?  No.

Little critter prepares to run away, but his friends ask him to play ball.  “And Mom said I could. I’ll run away tomorrow if I’m still mad.”

We own the “Just A Little Critter Collection” with 7 books inside.  Good endings, good storyline.  As a momma I’m often tempted to make things easier for G, but really I am doing him no favor.  Life is just hard sometimes, and we grow from it. 

With a quick Google search, I discover the Simple Kids blog, which has an article about Teaching Children How To Handle Their Emotions: As Simple As PIE.  This will come in handy perhaps.

I also have this book on my shelf to read soon.  Between Parent and Child by Haim G. Ginott.   Inside a chapter called Communication for Connection:  Respond to Children’s Feelings, Not Their Behavior catches my attention.    I have a lot to learn about parenting.  I look forward to reading.

We missed the slight chance of rain today.  A cool front just came through, and it’s gorgeous out right now.  Daddy and G in the backyard. I hear the water hydrant turning on.  God is good, isn’t he?

Some crop fields look better, some worse. What can we do?  Pray… and perform an impromptu rain dance immediately.  Perhaps borrow a tomato gardener’s water hose for a spell.  It couldn’t hurt. 
How are the fields looking in your area?

Friday, June 8, 2012

Word to the Color

You pick?  I’m in.  Gathering your own fresh fruit makes summer taste sweeter. This week my friend and I traveled to a local blueberry farm to collect some goodness.

We laugh about the fellow berry pickers behind us who convey the philosophy:  One for the bucket; one for the mouth. We sample too.  The branches produce berries of different shades and sweetness. My goodness, those blueberries taste like Skittles.
G doesn’t like just any blueberry.  I translate the mid-winter hand drop from the highchair into:  “No out-of–season Argentina booberries, momma”
He likes the sweet, rich in color ones.
Color!  We talk color to G.

Green corn
Brown soil
Black dog

Green tractor
Red combine
Yellow excavator
Gasp.  The farm houses all hues here.   
I haven’t seen any “aha” moments where G shows understanding of color, but we have time.

Time to build blue cans of food.  

Time to water green trees.  
A few of our favorite color books: DK's My First Colors and My First Tractor.
I call these reads our “point and label” books.  Vivid color and object names.  Simple.  

Most all children’s books create moments for you to say “Hey, look at the brown bear wearing green overalls.”  Perfect since Corduroy can be found on every page in Don Freeman's book.
Looking online I found a great Guide to Children’s Color Books with detailed reviews on reads such as:  Lemons Are Not Red, Freight Train, and Little Blue and Little Yellow. 

Eric Carle books display great color in their pages too.  Pigments so vivid, it takes immense momma-refrain not to squash my foot down on a certain book’s cover. 

Shel Silverstein writes it well in his poem Colors:

My skin is kind of sort of brownish
Pinkish yellowish white.
My eyes are greyish blueish green,
But I'm told they look orange in the night.
My hair is reddish blondish brown,
But it's silver when it's wet.
And all the colors I am inside
Have not been invented yet.

I’m guessing G’s favorite color is blue.  The silky blankie in hand affirms my hunch.  I look forward to when G can whisper the answer to this highly sought after question.  Better yet, the day when we can break open a box of fresh crayons.  I might have just made our plans for this weekend.  
What’s your favorite color?  Shout me a word!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Hopping Through the Pages

We read backwards.  We skip from Page 1 to Page 14, back to 3.  Upside down.  In the bathtub.  Sometimes the book becomes a monster and “chomps”.  With a quick close of the cover, the book puffs air in faces.  (Guaranteed giggle-maker)    

My favorite is snuggling together on the brown, leather couch arms encircling my little boy.
Daddy goes on sidebars when he reads to G.  Maybe the first page truly comes from the book in hand, and then they take off on some story tangent from outer space. 
Books are fun. 

Do pages get ripped and chewed?  --Oh yes.   Some of our beloved books look like half-eaten BLT’s.  I swear Sandra Boynton board books construct their pages with bacon-flavored goodness.

We keep most G books at eye level on the big book shelf.  We slip the “special” keep-me-nice books, up real high.  We don’t read every night, but often G grabs a book, walks over, and hands it to me as if to say “Hey, read this one to me.  I’ll take off and play across the room, but I’m still listening momma.”

Author Jill Stamm in her book Bright from the Start says, “The sheer amount of words spoken to a child from birth to three has a direct impact on later testable IQ.” 
Stamm goes on to write: “ Just as with being talked to, being read to helps “tune” individual bundles of neurons in a critical part of the growing brain, which will make your child better able to learn to speak and one day read himself.”  
Basically this book says read, and read often.  Easy enough.

Children's literacy advocate, Jen Robinson, posts a Ten Tips for Growing Bookworms on her blog.  I really like her #10.
I remember the first time I saw my little guy reach for a book.  Pick it up. Open. 
“BA BA… BA BA BA”, his sweet 6-month-old mouth yelps.  Just like momma reads out loud. This is the moment I knew all my early reading times, where G blank stared at me (Momma, why are you reading those funny words to me?) were totally worth it. 
Weeks later:   In Babies R Us, Grandma carting G through the baby-gate aisle, G excitedly points at the large Australian shepherd displayed on the packaging.  His first communication of knowing what a dog is. With help from many renditions of Doggies by Boynton, we know a doggie barks.  We know 10 different ways a doggie barks.  And at the end of the book, we know what all those doggies are barking at…. a cat!  (Sorry, plot spoiler)

Tonight after bath time, I might just grab one of those delicious Boynton books.. maybe Moo Baa La La La.  Those three pigs make this grown-up smile.

What books are you reading tonight in your home?