Thursday, July 12, 2007

One Morning in July

I had a good morning. It was almost magical in its...well, not perfection, because it was hot and muggy and it started way too early, and Bella did throw a minor tantrum in a public place at not being allowed a candy bar, but it was, in a way, a dream come true. I dreamed all my life of becoming a mother. And in those daydreams, every day was like today. That's a good feeling.

My friend Kerri is off in some Mexican jungle on a mission trip with a church group, and I've been looking after her horses (and one of my own, since Misha is currently camping out over there) in her absence. She had the farrier scheduled for today at 8:00AM, so instead of causing her to have to reschedule that event, I hauled my carcass up and got over there in time to meet him and hold horses for him. And I am by no means a morning person, so this was not something I looked forward to.

When I got my groggy self up and dressed, I headed up to Bella's room to wake her at what was an uncommonly early summer wakeup time for her, as well, and she'd been late getting to bed the night before.

Me: "Bella, sweetie, you need to get up and get dressed so we can head over to Kerri's to meet the farrier."

Bella: (in mid-air, as she literally LEAPS from sound asleep to fully awake and in motion) "OK! Let's go!" (thumping quickly past me, and on down the stairs) "I am going to wear my orange dress, with the pink flowers, and my pink sandals that light up! OK?"

Me: "Uh, yeah...what?"

So we were off in record time, and did our duty while the horses got their pedicures.
From there, we headed back toward home, and stretched the 10-minute drive into at least an hour by stopping the car along the country highway several times to take pictures of things that Bella spotted and found photo-worthy. She'd spot, point, and instruct, asking, "Didja gettit?" after each shot. It was a blast, and I do love her eye for a drive-by "shooting." The still-growing flickr set is here, but these are just some of my favorites that my daughter demanded immortalizing:
By this time, Littlebit was hungry, and I remembered the new little coffee-shop that had opened not far from our house, "The Daily Grind," and decided to give it a try, thinking they'd at least have some kind of muffins or something. What a find this was! (For all you locals, I'll be writing this place up for the Times blog, probably tomorrow.) Every kind of breakfast food under the sun was offered, from light pastries to heavy fare, and Bella went like a heat-seeking missile straight for the cinnamon scones ("cimanon stones" at first), and then settled on the idea of a very grown-up "cup of coffee" in the form of hot chocolate with marshmallows. Yes, I'm aware that it's July in Arkansas. I got my "everything" bagel and a schmear, and joined her at a little corner table, where we took our time having a proper "tea party." Have I mentioned that this was the best day ever?

The proprietress was charming and solicitous, and even provided Bella with a tiny silver pitcher of cold milk with which to cool down her hot chocolate, and I probably don't have to tell you that this development positively enchanted a certain little girl who has a penchant for all things dainty and dramatic.
We positively lingered over our late breakfast, then lollygagged about outside looking at the pretty landscaping around the restaurant, and Bella dug a penny out of her ridiculously tiny purse to toss into a fountain/birdbath and make a wish. Just in case you get swarmed in the next few days, I feel it only fair to inform you that her wish was for there to be "beautiful butterflies all over the whole world," because they are her "favorite pretty things and [she] loves them."

When we got home, we spent some time with the boxed DVD set of "The Electric Company" that I'd finally gotten around to ordering for her, and sang all the songs and tried to sound out as many words as possible before Bill Cosby or Morgan Freeman could. And here is where I take a minute to let everyone know that, if your kid is at all interested in learning to read, you can't make any better investment than DVDS OF "THE ELECTRIC COMPANY."
We've had them for about a week, and Bella has gone from knowing the sounds that the letters in the alphabet can make, to READING COMPLETE SENTENCES in that time. Seriously. Why is there no equivalent to this show around any more? I was reading competently at age 4, and my own mother swears by the influence of "The Electric Company."

TEC does tend to wear a body out, so we did take a nap break. Come on, I told you it was the best day ever--you had to know that would include at least a short nap. And with Bella, "short" is the only kind of nap there is. Bella made the peanut-butter sandwiches for lunch, and we spent the rest of the afternoon playing "Sphere" (your kid will be better at this than you would ever think possible) and reading. THE REST OF THE DAY, excluding a short dinner break when Daddy came home. Until her bedtime. And it never got boring, not EVER.

What did we read? Well. Here is where I get to share with you a rare moment of mothering inspiration, because frankly, this is genius. Bella LOVES looking at pictures on flickr. LOVES IT. And I noticed that many flickr photos have simple titles, descriptions, and tags. That gives you a LOT of words, which are associated with real-life images, and endless hours of reading practice material. Tags in particular are great, because they tend to describe the subject of the photo, which helps with comprehension. I don't guess any developmental stepping-stone has made me as giddy as this whole reading business. It's just phenomenal. She's got the concept of the silent 'e' knocked, as well as being able to swap out long and short vowel sounds, and hard and soft consonants. I am completely in love with this child, and her sweet, ever-growing brain.

Yep, it was a good day. Getting to have this time with my daughter before school starts and I go back to work has been a real gift, and I'm appreciating, and loving, every minute of it. Even with the Loudest Child in the Universe, bless her little noggin. Now, sing along with me:

Easy Reader, that's my name;
Uhn, uhn-uhhhhhhhn;
Reading, reading, that's my game;
Uhn, uhn-uhhhhhhhn.

Top to bottom, left to right;
Reading stuff is...OUTTA SIGHT!
Easy Reader, that's my name;
Uhn, uhn-uhhhhhhhn!


  1. Now I have the theme song to "The Electric Company" running through my head.

    Oh well, better that than "The Great Space Coaster."


  2. Belinda,
    Sounds like an absolutely "delicious",and "serindiptious" "scrumptious" kind of day. I only wish that I was in an area of the country that had such glorious scenery. Here in So. CA it is so dry that it is scary.


  3. I love your day. I just read another blog where a friend had a similar day (with much older kids and her garden). Is there something in the water? Anyway, I'm taking it as a sign!

    The thing with teaching kids to read is finding the one thing that motivates them most -- and there are so many options! My older son was a Star Wars fanatic at 4 and we had this very simple computer game called Yoda Stories. He was so deperate to play the game that he basically taugjt himself and was reading fluently by the time he was 5. The summer before he turned 7 he read the first Harry Potter book! So you just never know...

  4. Belinda~~ Every once in a great while, as a Mother, the stars line up just right, or the earth is tilted at just the correct angle........and you are graced with this type of magical day. The kind that sustains you with the sweetest memories when times are not as wonderful.

    It sounds as if you and Bella had one of those days.

  5. Oh how I do understand too well. Once in a while I get to feel like a Cool Mom and find the patience to do things like go on a walk and look at bugs and take pictures of things the boys point out and watch them (fill in the blank here with something weird like "Mom watch me hop on one foot in a circle and sing 'You never had a friend like me') and generally take a break from feeling like the Most Boring Mom Ever. Once in a blue moon I get to think, 'oh yeah THIS is what I thought it would be like to be Mom'. *deep sigh*
    We're about to leave for a bike rally in Creston, Iowa where the boys will be able to ride their bikes all over the campground and get dirty and toast marshmallows over the campfire, so a few and far between Cool Mom moment looms and I am almost as excited as them to leave!
    A tip on s'mores... another Mom told me this little trick. Instead of graham crackers and chocolate candy bar blocks, substitute Fudge Stripe cookies. Much easier for the little folk to manage and a little less messy. Yay!

  6. Thanks for the prodding -- I had been thinking about ordering TEC for Jack, and you pushed me over the edge.

    Plus? He's becoming unhealthily attached to KimPossible. I blame myself - it's entertaining for me. Which is just sad.

    TEC here we come. :) WOO-WOO!

  7. Sounds like an awesome day for the both of you. I checked out the photos and you took some really great ones, will have to comment on them later.

    I will have to check out the TEC for my nieces and see how it does.

  8. OK, now I want to watch the electric company, but it will have to wait because I am ADDICTED. TO. SPHERE. Thanks alot!

  9. I loved the electric company. And the school house rock things...

    Conjunction junction, what's your function?

  10. I LOVE that you two had this perfect day, and your writing brought us all along with you. Thank you for allowing me to *virtually* spend the day with your delightful little prodigy. And you too, of course!

  11. TEC helped me and my brother become citizens of the world, many years ago. It was the perfect show for the post-Sesame Stret crowd.

  12. I hadn't played Sphere in forever, and now I remember why! It is so frustrating! Maybe I need Ty or Emily to help me cause I can't even find all the clues. I've got ten in the one you linked to and I know I'm missing several.


  13. yes, a perfect day. It's good and possible to have one of those once in a while.

  14. That sphere game is evil and shame on you for ruining my life with it.

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