Thinking about school

June 28, 2009

We’ve been doing a lot of thinking about school lately.  Widget goes to kindergarten next year, and, as much as I would love to homeschool (and I would love it), we think it’s best for him to get used to the structure and routine of a school with other children.  We’re thinking hard about how to ease the transition, supplement the academics, and help keep the love of learning alive in this little boy who reads himself to sleep at night (at four!) and his baby brother, who takes small appliances apart and puts them back together (at two!).  Both are incredible problem-solvers and little thinkers, and I’m so proud of them.

Read more of this post at Review Planet, my review blog.

I posted this here because I’m looking for current books and articles on kindergarten and the early years of school as we make our decisions — any recommendations?



June 13, 2009

Recovery is going well.  I’ve been VERY tired, but am finally getting to spend time up and about, playing with the kids, walking outside, and going over to a friend’s house.  It’s been absolutely lovely.

Of course, work calls, and I’m back at the desk, trying to scribble out some chapters before the end of the month, while Daddy takes the kids today.  Must write!

New this week on Review Planet: Book reviews of Obama: The Historic Journey, When You Give a Mom a Martini, and The Double Daring Book for Girls.  Up next: Wounded by School: Recapturing the Joy in Learning and Standing Up to Old School Culture.  Interesting topic, no?

Not Done Yet

May 1, 2009

Laurie Kingston is Not Done Yet. She’s also Not Just About Cancer. Laurie is one of my good friends now, one that I made through this cancer journey, and one that I will treasure as long as I live.

Laurie writes about her journey through breast cancer, from diagnosis to weekly maintenance chemo, on her blog and in her new book, Not Done Yet. The book is a collection of her best posts from the past several years, and it tells her story as honestly and up-front as could be. She talks about her cancer from diagnosis to testing to chemo to surgery to radiation and living with the changes that all this treatment has wrought on her body. Her body is not the same as it used to be. (But then, whose is?) Her mind and spirit, however, will never be broken.

This is a brave, brave book, and I was honored to be asked to review it. Laurie’s fighting spirit, and her fierce love for her children, give this book a passion that some may not think possible from “just a blog.”

But then again, there’s no such thing as “just a blog,” is there? As we’ve seen in our corner of the blogosphere over the past couple years, blogs help women cope with infertility, with miscarriage, with babyloss. . . with abuse, with attacks, with cancer . . . with marital problems, and with redemption. We grieve for those we have lost, and we rally to help those they have left behind. We are entering a new era, an era of digital friendship and bearing the burdens of those we have never even met, in a hope-filled attempt to lighten the loads of those who are fighting. Those who are struggling. Those who mourn.

Not Done Yet is one of the good things to come out of this new approach to living publicly, to letting the light shine in on troubles and illness, and it is a very good thing indeed.

Disclosure: Laurie and I write together at, and we served together on a BlogHer panel last year called Blogging Communities as a Healing Force.

Edited to add: Mel’s book comes out this week too! Three cheers for Melissa Ford and her new book Navigating the Land of IF: Understanding Infertility and Exploring Your Options. I am so proud of Laurie and Mel!

Mouse Makes Words … and so does Widget!

March 10, 2009

Yesterday morning was full of ordinary things that somehow, in the words of a commenter yesterday, became extraordinary.

While Widget went to preschool, Little Bear and I trucked around town taking care of this and picking up that and depositing a long-awaited check for NASA work. (Whoo-hoo!) We remembered to have a good time together, holding hands, stopping to look in the sidewalk cracks, picking up a stone or two for examination along the way. He’s not a treasure collector yet, but he sure does like to stop and check things out, and then throw them. (A future in propulsion? Oh, I’m just being silly.) I am giving him space and time to investigate whatever he wants, though, from rocks to bugs to sticks … and he takes it, carrying around big sticks, just because he can, and endlessly, carefully, throwing pebbles into the creek. (He’s very methodical about this. Sorry for the detail if you’re not Grandma and Grandpa, but I want to remember this. He crouches by the side of the water, carefully picks up a pebble, turns to me to ask, “dis?” and when I say yes, it’s okay to throw that one, he turns back, studies the water for a second, and gleefully chucks it in, only to be removed later as we make and remove dams in our little creek, watching the flow of the water gently downstream, where it will eventually join the Potomac.)

But I get ahead of myself. That was in the afternoon, after a picnic lunch in the back yard.

The morning was errands together, and Little Bear held up remarkably well, sleeping through only a couple errands, which I did drive-through or carried him, sleeping, in with me (only once, and I know I shouldn’t, because of my back and lymphedema, but if I can’t carry my child once in a while, what am I doing all this treatment for?). Even carrying him was amazing to me. Maybe it’s the bright sunlight and warm weather, maybe it’s the thrill of going freely without winter coats (just a week ago it snowed!), but the day had an aura about it that just spoke to me somehow.

And at the last stop, where I was looking for a picture frame, we stopped and picked up a new book or two, and bubbles to blow in the breezy springtime. The book rack in the craft store was a surprise. I stopped to check out beginning readers for Widget, and Little Bear (who has literally hundreds of books at home, since we couldn’t use the library with my immune system compromised) crouched on the floor thumbing through one that he picked out. Hunched over, enthralled in the pages, he concentrated as I picked out a phonics reader and a math reader, standing there. When I knelt down to see what he had picked out — Poky Little Puppy, maybe? The Happy Dump Truck? — I saw what had caught his interest: Motorcycles. The little dude (to use Stimey‘s word) had picked out a Level 4 reader with chapters about motorcycles. The pictures had entranced him, and as he looked up at me, he stood up and handed me the book. I did try to entice him with The Happy Dump Truck, but he shook his head, put the motorcycle book under his left arm, and began walking. Smiling, we proceeded to the checkout and bought them both.

He looked at the motorcycle book all the way home.

After preschool, I told a blue-and-green painted Widget that we had bought him a new book to look at. Excited, he wanted to see it right away. I handed the phonics reader back to him and was beyond thrilled as he opened it up and read, one after another, word after word. Word, after word, people! He was unstoppable!

And then we tuned into the driveway, and, just lke that, the spell was broken.

On to lunch, creek play, a walk in the woods, and then a lovely afternoon at the park and dinner with friends, each bit adding, unbelievably, a little more joy to the day.

At the park, Widget ran around with a pack of 4 and 6 year olds, playing games, climbing, sliding, running, and jumping with the best of them. A mom and I briefly played tennis with her daughter, and the little boys ran the court. Little Bear stuck like glue to my side, holding my hand, saying, “Mama, come,” and “Mama, see.” I went. I saw. And when he got too tired, we put the kids in the car and went for dinner. He almost fell asleep at the table, the joy of being with friends almost too much for him, and by the time we got home … he was asleep.

Widget’s first “solo read” was called Mouse Makes Words. I haven’t gotten a chance to look at it closely yet (although Widget has), but I do highly recommend Go, Go, Go! by Roxie Munro for kids and The Help, by new writer Kathryn Stockett for moms. I review books and a such over at Review; these are the two best I’ve read so far this year.