But if you live in Illinois, you can go here to support the "Religious Freedom and Civil Unions Act" or whatever it's called. It is Illinois's first attempt at a marriage-esque institution of public support for us queers. It is certainly doomed. But let's make a good showing of it to gear us up for round two, okay?
I don't want to forget how I made this batch of granola. As usual, the directions are a bit hit-and-miss, so feel free to improvise as you like.
Cheaper and Healthier and Tastier than Store-Bought Granola
1/3 cup of oil (I used about half melted butter/half safflower oil)
6 tblsp blackstrap molasses
6 tblsp cup honey
lots of cinnamon
lots of powered ginger (maybe a TBLSP of each?)
a tsp of vanilla (real vanilla)
because I am allergic to real almonds: 1 tsp of fake almond extract (but you should put in 1/4 cup of almond slivers)
1/4 cup of wheat germ
1/4 cup of wheat berries
1/4 cup of quinoa
4 cups of oats (raw, rolled)
Set the oven to 300 degrees (F)
Mix the dry ingredients and the liquid ingredients in separate bowls. Once they're each well mixed, slowly mix the dry ingredients into the liquid ones until well covered.
Pour into as large and shallow an over dish as you've got. and put it in the oven.
Every fifteen minutes, pull it out of the oven and stir it well. Do this for about an hour--more or less depending on how shallowly you are able to spread the granola. Eyeball it. When it's pretty dry and toasty-smelling, it's done.
Allow to cool and place in an airtight container.
You can add fruit or raisins to it upon serving.
Cole loves it, because it isn't as sickeningly sweet as the store-bought stuff. But if you like sweet, you can add sugar when you serve it. It's full of pricey ingredients, but given the difference between bulk organic oats and organic granola in a box, it's considerably cheaper.
So far, so good. Two naps and one bedtime with no getting up at all, let alone coming out of her room.
But she did wander in at 5:45 again this morning. I have no idea what to do about that. She's too young to tell time by the digital clock quite yet. (I once parented a 3 year-old and I could tell him not to bother me until the first number on the clock was "8" and it worked. He'd read and play in his room until the clock said 8, then he'd wake me.)
I appreciate everyone's tips on door thingys, but I'd rather teach her at this point than simply restrain her (as long as it's not an issue of safety, which in this case, it isn't).
Last night, I had to pull a "Super Nanny" stay-in-bed drill for about 45 minutes. Nat would get up, come out and ask me for milk, "wocking chair" or "nappy, nappy" (Happy to be Nappy), while I completely ignored her and silently plopped her back on her bed and closed the door behind me. I did this, oh, maybe 25 times in a row? But ultimately it worked, she gave up and went to sleep.
(Before she could open the door, she would just get up and play in her room (or just take a book to bed) if she wasn't ready to sleep yet. No yelling, no requests. Then she'd go on back to bed when she was ready. This was usually 10 or 15 minutes.)
This morning, Nat appeared at my bedside at 5:45 am.
"Ma Sannin! Wake up! I want milk please, yes!"
Cole rolled out the other side of the bed and took her away, bless her.
(Before Nat could open the doors, she'd play in her room until about 7 and then hollar for Cole Mom to get her milk.)
I applied for a job blogging politics yesterday. They wanted a link to my current blog. I am never going to get the job given what's up here right now, am I? Oh well, it was a half-hearted attempt. Most of these blog "jobs" pay for blech.
Speaking of, the CrispAds are pretty much worthless. But funny! You can save 50% on gay, lesbian, Episcopalian, baby...
On the classes front, I think we'll just hold off anything formal until three. At three a lot of the free and cheap Parks and Recreation Department activities become available. At three, Nat can go to the nursery school two blocks from home part-time. At three, she can start suzuki violin with a local teacher and tae kwon do with a high-quality school. And that'll probably do.
At home, we do a lot of stuff that I consider to be nurturing her artistic and motor development. We have been "dancing" since she came home. Even when she was a teeny newborn, I'd hold her in the sling and dance and count rhythms to her aloud. Now when we dance in the kitchen we listen for whether it's a "one-two-three" song or a "one-two-three-four" song. We listen for certain instruments like pianos, guitars, violins. We do "gym class" as Cole calls it, which is "Simon Says" without the "simon says..." part or the "gotcha" feature. In short, I tell her to perform various physical feats and she does--with glee. We do "baby yoga" which means I do a few yoga stretches and Nat watches and sometimes follows along. We practice taking "deep breaths." I got a book the other day that purports to teach a method that can be started with four year-olds, teaching them to draw with high levels of realism. Cole and I have started the lessons ourselves to see how we like them. Meanwhile, I have been speaking to Nat in terms of "vertical lines" and "horizontal lines" and "circles" and "shadows" etc. Just training her to see and associate what she sees with descriptive language.
And Aunt Nancy is right--Nat is an extrovert. Now that the weather's better she has been spending 4-6 hours a week down at the playground (usually with a baby sitter). She much prefers to stand in the middle of the play area and just watch "all the kids!" (her terminology) rather than climbing or playing herself.
So that's the current way I think about early education in more formal subjects. I'm not opposed to lessons per se, I'm just not convinced that Nat needs them for a while yet. And I'm not out to make her a genius, because, well, she sort of just is one anyway and doesn't need my pushing.
Of course every two year-old is a genius. They just gobble everything up so fast at this age, you can see the wheels turning and hear them clicking and it's just exciting. I used to teach this age group and I loved it. In a 14-week summer session I felt like I was watching one of those speeded up films of a seed sprouting. I've been really looking forward to Nat hitting this age and here she is. It's just so much fun. Anything I put in front of her, she just absorbs like a little sponge.
So reading...well, mostly that has just kind of evolved. I am not all consumed by the desire that she should read early, but she does love language and I am consumed by a desire that she should be as close to fluent in ASL as I--not fluent in ASL--can make her. So we sign and talk together about things a lot. Sometimes we fingerspell things that I either don't know a sign for or want to reinforce for her a little more. We spend quite a bit of time looking over the railing at the top of our steps overlooking the backyard, a parking lot, several streets and buildings, talking and signing about what we see: grass, trees, leaves, flowers, squirrels, birds, airplanes, houses, cars, sidewalks, people, babies, children (you can watch the kids at the nursery school come and go from our place), dogs, fire trucks, flags, buses, motorcycles, clouds, sunshine, etc. And Nat is learning to identify a lot of things by sound too. If we're playing in her room and a bus drives down the street, she'll stop what she's doing, look at me, sign "hear" and ask "hear it?" The I say, "yes, I hear that, what is it?" and she tells me. She's usually right, but sometimes I help her. And we sign what we hear.
My point is that I think the signing is what led into the reading. She has a magnet doodle board and she often brings it to me while we watch the news. She asks me to write things. Usually, she wants me to write things she knows the signs for. So she'll be signing and I'll be writing. Before I wrote the words, I'd sketch little pictures of things like trees and books and cars and dogs. Then after a while she started wanting me to spell things instead of making pictures. Once she learned how some things were spelled she'd dictate: "write B-A-B-Y!" I'd write it. "Baby!" she'd declare smugly. So now it's kind of a game. I am a little bit embarassed about it. I am afraid I'm too pleased with her for "reading" at two (this isn't real reading, mind you). I can't help it though, I'm a bookish geek. And I don't push it on her or drill her. We just go with her flow and when she's bored with the game we stop. But I do introduce a new word every now and then, I'll admit. I think it's okay as long as she still enjoys "reading" her picture books aloud by jargoning or telling what she remembers of the stories or making something up. Most of her stories start "one day" or "once upon a time" and they always involve kohlrabi, which cracks me up every time. "Once upon a time..." she'll begin, then "...blah blah baby talk no one understands...and kohlrabi!" I guess she thinks the word is fun to say. She got it from Eating the Alphabet. She was too little last summer to remember the kohlrabi now.
Mostly I let Nat just wander around and get into and out of whatever strikes her fancy at any given moment for as much of the day as possible. I figure she knows what she really needs to be working on better than I do. One day, I remember sitting in the rocking chair in her room and watching her play with a short piece of velcro tape David had put around some electric cords and Nat had found and smuggled off. This little four-inch long piece of velcro that wound around and stuck to itself kept her busy for a good half-hour. She'd make a loop and be unable to pull it apart again, and she'd bring it to me: "help! open!" she'd demand. I'd pull it open and she'd make another loop and work on it for a while and bring it to me again over and over until she figured it all out for herself. I couldn't help but think there was no way I would ever have given her a piece of velcro as an "activity" and thought it useful or important. But she had work to do with that velcro. It probably sounds silly, but it made me so happy to watch her.
I am a stickler for manners and such. I do take time to tell her how I want her to ask me for things or to politely interrupt (or not, as the case may be) my adult conversations or to eat with utensils or drink out of a proper (no sippy lid) cup. She is not ready to dine with the queen, but she is two. She is learning. We work on it.
So that's where we are when it comes to lessons and such and that's why she sight-reads a few words and why I am a little hestiant to put her into any structured actvities yet. But I will have to buckle down and do it soon, I know. My baby is becoming a kid more and more every day!