Children’s Book of the Week: A Pet for Petunia

August 24, 2011

A Pet for Petunia by Paul Schmid

Warning: do not read your children A Pet for Petunia if they are eating. I made that mistake, and by the end of the book, there were tiny chewed-up bits of yellow pepper all over my dining room table, because of the uncontrollable laughing. Seriously, there’s pretty much a guffaw-worthy line on every page.

Ok, yeah, so I’ll admit that part of the reason I like this book is that it’s one of those, like, say, A Pig Parade is a Terrible Idea, that’s written the way I talk, so I’m able to nail the timing on the first reading, which makes the kids laugh out their yellow peppers and makes me feel like Rockstar Story Time Mommy.

I’m a little tempted not to tell you anything more about this book (you’d trust me, right? you’d get it out anyway?) because I don’t want to ruin any of the fun and spoil the joy of discovery for you. But yeah, sure, I’ll tell you some more. Petunia really wants a pet skunk. Begs her parents for a pet skunk. They say no.

Ok, and I’ll also tell you that Petunia throws a fabulous, world-class tantrum because she’s all offended when her parents tell her skunks stink (“They don’t STINK! They’re CUTE!…I’ll tell you what stinks! THIS stinks!”).

One of the brilliant things about this book is how it’s almost entirely from Petunia’s perspective (though told in the third person), and there’s no explanatory backstory except for telling us that Petunia loves skunks. Kids are left to piece together all the bits of what exactly is happening with Petunia, and the laughs are bigger for them because nothing is dumbed down (I am all about books that treat kids like intelligent human beings).

Just go get it. It’s super. Also it has an endorsement from Maurice Sendak on the cover. How do you even get that on your book? I mean, it’s one thing for me to endorse a book, but Maurice Sendak? Really, do you need to know any more?

Just one more thing. This book contains what has got to be my favorite sentence in children’s picture book literature of 2011: “With such disappointing lunkheads for parents, naturally Petunia must leave home.”

Homeschool Curriculum

August 24, 2011

Monday was our first official day of homeschooling. Yes, yes, we’ve been doing it all summer, but I now we are official (that is, I told the state, so Monday started our 175-days-and-counting for the year).

So far it’s gone pretty well. I’m still figuring out our organizational system. Also I didn’t really realize that you can have a class clown if you’re homeschooling (Eli), so that’s been something to contend with. But kind of fun, too, I’ll admit.

Now, this post might be boring to a lot of you, but I for one love curriculum posts, so here you go. Here’s what we’re doing for the year:

Math
Teaching Textbook for Henry, Saxon Math for Eli (and for Zuzu when she feels like joining in).

Reading
I was using Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons but Eli and I thought it was a total snooze, so now we’re just working on BOB books and random board books we have around the house.

Science
R.E.A.L. Science Odyssey Life plus extras from books like Exploratopia and the Science Snackbook.

History
History Odyssey Level One, Ancients

Latin
Song School Latin, Minimus, and Getting Started with Latin.

French
French is Fun with Serge the Cheeky Monkey! Also Play and Learn French, and lots of singing from Chantons by Michael Parent.

Handwriting
Handwriting Without Tears (printing for Eli and Zuzu, cursive for Henry)

Art
Art is Fundamental and The Usborne Art Treasury

Plus: flute lessons for Henry, and (soon, I hope) fiddle lessons for Eli. Daily forced physical activity. Daily reading of some fun-but-slightly-advanced book (so far we’ve done James Herriot’s Treasury for Children and Holling Clancy Hollings’ Seabird and Minn of the Mississippi). I’m looking forward to doing thinking projects from Teach Your Child How to Think. I’m making Henry read some things that are a bit more challenging, and he’s going to start doing monthly research papers. And we use a ton of resources in all subjects from CurrClick.com. Plus all the intangible stuff we did anyway that now maybe counts as school, like going to the library, hiking, making beds, cooking, and writing thank you notes to grandparents.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0470481862/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=worldofjulie-20&linkCode=as2&camp=217145&creative=399369&creativeASIN=0470481862History

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CATEGORIES: homeschool

Sleepy Bunny to the Rescue

August 24, 2011

Once upon a time, there was a tired baby. Or a cranky baby. Or whining baby. And she received the gift of a soft, floppy, lavender-filled bunny. And that bunny brought such immediate unmistakable relief to the baby. Something about this bunny, I tell you, resonates deeply with children. Ramona will be crying, and then, just to get the bunny in her hand, she will sigh deeply, suck on her finger, and lean contentedly on my shoulder.

Once upon a time, we went camping, and, somehow, while camping, we lost Sleepy Bunny. The following week was sad and tragic, as we searched and searched, and Ramona slept fitfully, always wanting Bunny. I had guilty visions of the poor bunny lost in the woods. And so dear Susan sent not one bunny, but TWO, and peace was restored. And then! We went camping again, and Dave got in his sleeping bag, and there was Bunny! So then we had three bunnies. And then Zuzu put on the sad puppy eyes and asked for a pink bunny, and Susan is so darned nice she found some pink flannel and made one up. So now we have four bunnies. Which is just the right number really, when you have a baby who calms and sleeps much easier when there’s a bunny in her arms (and when the bunnies have a habit of scooting under pillows and getting lost in the blankets).

For months I have been begging Susan to put the bunnies in her Etsy shop, because they’re such a great baby gift, and the tired babies of the world need their bunnies. And now she finally has! Go check it out!

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CATEGORIES: toys

Well, phew!

August 4, 2011

Magical words spoken by the allergist this week: “You know, I don’t think she’s actually allergic to any of these foods. I’m not even going to give her a skin test. I think it was just eczema. You can feed her whatever you want to.” Hurray! Let’s make peanut butter cookies! Um, after we finish of those two tubs of cookies from Trader Joe’s, I mean.

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CATEGORIES: Ramona