Archive for the ‘Little Cap’ Category

Teaching Children to Read, Write, and Speak in French

January 31, 2014

I have been experimenting on my children, and I want to tell you about it.  My goal has been to raise them to be bilingual.

My Background:

I took two years of French in high school.  The languages offered with an in-person teacher were Spanish and French.  I chose French because there were fewer students in the French program, and the language and culture seemed more interesting.  In retrospect, I think I should have chosen Spanish for purely practical reasons.  I really enjoyed learning French, however, and was able to travel to France (and Spain).

When arriving at college I had (and wanted) to continue language study, and I chose French by default because I had already made a bit of progress, though less than I had hoped.  I wasn’t ready to start over with something new – why waste the investment I had made when I wasn’t yet fluent?

I studied abroad in France for about 3 months during my third year of college and had not yet chosen a major.  I was leaning toward doing something in the history department, but I realized that if I went that route I would need to take so many classes that I would have no more room in my schedule for any French classes.  I thus chose to major in French.  It was enjoyable for the most part, but I had to study a lot of fiction literature and wanted to study more of the philosophers.  In particular, the professor who taught classes on Pascal was on leave, and so I studied about Montaigne, instead.

Upon graduating I decided to become an elementary teacher, which had nothing at all to do with studying French language or literature.  I promptly stopped speaking or reading any French.

Starting French with Basil:

When Basil was fairly young I had a few French language children’s books in the house.  These were left over from a very short-lived after school program I took part in, teaching kindergarteners French.  I would occasionally read one with Basil, but it wasn’t a true effort to teach him French.

When my brother’s family returned from living in Taiwan for two years, his daughter was fairly proficient at speaking Chinese, and his wife encouraged me to really teach Basil French.  I thought about it for a while, and it made a lot of sense to me to pass on to him at his young age something that took me so long to acquire in college.  It also seemed to make sense to me from my Montessori training that it would be much easier for him at his age.

Right after he was about 3 years old I decided to only speak to him in French.  I checked out a couple of books from the library about “one parent one language,” which describes how to raise children bilingually.  At first I tried speaking to Elizabeth in French as well to make it a complete system, but she became too frustrated with not understanding what I was saying, especially in stressful situations, that I stopped doing that.

Stopping French:

Basil became very frustrated, as well.  Just after he turned 3, when I started this experiment, he had just come to a fluency with English.  He was speaking full sentences and was able to express his thoughts.  This was a very important new step for him, and he did not enjoy taking a step back with me.  When I spoke French to him he had to gain his understanding by context clues and the little he had learned from children’s books we’d read.  I also stopped reading English language books with him, which mean, of course, most of the books we had access to.  He became very frustrated with not being able to fully understand what I was saying, and we both became frustrated with my inability to say everything I wanted to say.  I spoke less to him than I had previously because I didn’t know how to say everything I wanted to.  Thus, I read and spoke less to him and he spoke less to me.  Out of concern for my relationship with Basil I decided to stop the experiment.

Starting Again:

The only reason I picked it back up is because Basil requested it of me.  He repeatedly brought to me the book Max et Les Maximonstres, which is Where the Wild Things Are in French.  He had never read this book in English, and it had become his favorite book.  This fact alone inspired me to continue reading in French to him and eventually continue speaking in French with him.  It showed me that in at least some way he enjoyed it and enough to ask for more.

We received a membership to the Alliance Francaise in the area, which had a wide variety of children’s books to check out.  I also started to discover the area libraries that had greater collections of French books – most I had explored had absolutely none.  Eventually, we also signed Basil up for classes at the Alliance Francaise two times, which he really enjoyed.

Why Reading?:

When reading from the OPOL books there was a discussion of what kind of “input” the children were receiving.  When the children are in a certain country that country’s language becomes the majority language and provides the majority of language input (written, spoken, or sung).  It becomes paramount that the children receive as much input in the minority language as possible to provide balance between the two languages.  If only one of the parents is providing input from the minority language the balance is weakened.  If that parent is the father it is further weakened due to a father’s reduced time with children (in traditional family arrangements).  It is advantageous to put the child in a school with the minority language, if possible, to tip the balance back and provide more input in the minority language.

I decided to further this experiment by teaching Basil how to read in French.  We had previously felt no urgency to teach him how to read early.  In addition, because of my concern of the imbalance in languages Basil would encounter I really didn’t want him to learn to read English early.  I wanted him to only have access to French books in order to increase the balance.  If I couldn’t be with him all day speaking French, I wanted him to have good input from the French books in our home.

Starting Reading with the Sandpaper Letters:

From my Montessori training I learned to teach reading with letter sounds.  The primary tool for this is a set of sandpaper letters.  These are expensive, especially French versions, so I decided to make them myself, which wasn’t too hard.  As it turns out, the alphabet is almost exactly the same aside from some accented letters and the important vowel combinations.  Why this particular material is effective is because it uses three senses to teach letter-sound associations: seeing, hearing, and touching.  I had to try hard (still do) to have family members stop teaching the children alphabet songs or reading alphabet books because learning letter names is counterproductive.  It does not help to say “a” as “ay” when reading the word “dad” or when reading the French word “chat.”  English letter names are counterproductive in both languages.  Each night after Macrina when to sleep, Basil and I would have a special time where we would pull out the letters and I would teach him a lesson on three new letters or fewer if they presented a special difficulty, tracing with the finger and saying the associated sound.  You can learn about a “three period lesson” elsewhere.

To guide my progress through the letters of the alphabet (after covering b,a,s,i, and l) I used a book called Pas à Pas, Ma Méthode de Lecture Syllabique, which I ordered from France.  This book provided a nice sequence and several pictures and words matched to practice some of the letter sounds already learned.  What was very nice about this system is that the words provided usually only contained letters already learned, something that was beyond my ability to create.

Sometimes we even made letters out of dinner!

Continuing Reading with the Movable Alphabet:

Also beyond my ability to create was the next material: the Movable Alphabet.  This is a collection of small letters: 5 of each consonant and 10 of each vowel.  The point of this material is to create words and sentences.  In the Montessori method, students learn first how to associate letters with sounds and then they learn how to compose words with those sounds.  Thus, writing comes before reading.  In practice, the reading comes automatically with the ability to write because they read as they write.  With these green letters Basil began stringing together letters – first his name, then other words we had looked at together.  Eventually he began stringing together entire sentences.  He is still very happy to do this activity as he has not yet mastered the spelling of all French words or the proper French grammar or syntax.  It is still a fun challenge for him.

Other supporting activities involved taking dictation for stories that Basil made up (in English and in French) and then having him illustrate them.

We even created an entire book out of movable alphabet letters and taking photographs to go with each page.

We also sing real and made up songs together in French.

Basil sometimes reads French books to his sister, Macrina.

Here is Basil reading Emilia her first ever book.  The book is in French and it is called Super Bobo.

Learning to Read English:

My hypothesis from the beginning was that I needed to teach Basil to read in French early because he would pick up reading English without even trying.  As it turns out, he seems to have picked up reading English more on account of being able to read in French.  The consonant sounds are largely the same.  The vowel sounds are different but not too different.  His superior knowledge of English allows context clues to help him figure out words that aren’t pronounced the same way as English.

Conclusion:

To this point Basil is able to read many of his favorite books in French – and I mean READ, not retell from memory.  He is also able to read most of his favorite English books, as well.  Unknown French words are decoded with phonetic knowledge.  Unknown English words are figured out mostly through context clues and using the phonetic clues from his French knowledge.  Basil is not conversationally fluent.  He understands much more than he can say, and this may be due to my laxity in responding to his English rather than expecting him to speak to me in French.  Still, it has been scarcely more than a year (maybe a year and a half) and he can understand and read much French.  With Macrina I began when she was about 1, and with Emilia I will be starting from the very beginning.  I don’t know what difference this will make since the amount of English input is larger for Macrina than it was with Basil – she has two people at home who speak English to her during the day while he had only one.  Still, there are other methods for trying to balance the input, such as the Alliance Francaise classes, French day at the zoo, a French performance of Eric Carle books, and the occasional viewing of a 1980’s Canadian program, called Téléfrancais (Basil’s only screen time).

My Own Study:

In order to do all of this I had to up my French from when I graduated from college in 2006.  To do this I watched, read, and listened to French news through the internet.  I attended one review class at the Alliance Francaise.  I went to local French discussion groups, and I even found a local French-language playgroup (though we have only attended once so far).  In this whole process I thought that perhaps I should think about teaching French professionally – a thought that never entered my mind as I graduated with a French degree and started in the teaching profession.  I subsequently took courses at a local university and became licensed to teach French K-12.  I don’t know if I’ll take a French job, however.  My fluency is still low, in my opinion, and I think it would be a lot of work!

Please feel free to ask questions if I left out details you want!

~Eric

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Emilia Margaret is here!

January 30, 2014

Emilia arrived at 11:02 on January 23rd.  She weighed in at 7lbs8oz and was 20ish inches long.  Emilia’s entrance was after a very quick labor and dramatic delivery, but we all seem to be healthy and settling in now.  She is remarkably calm and very alert at times.

Basil and Macrina are in love.  We all are.

The last picture of Macrina’s babyhood:

Image

63 minutes later:

firstpic

headshot

I wish this picture hadn’t turned out so dark.  Macrina’s eyes nearly popped out of her head when she got to hold Emilia.:

Lately Basil has become more and more enthusiastic about just about everything in a loud 4yr old boy kind of way. But when he’s with Emilia the enthusiasm quiets into a sort of blissful state.  It’s delightful. Emilia did start fussing when Basil held her the first time and Macrina quickly reprimanded him, “Basil, kiss her head!!”:

And a family photo.  We’ll keep working on it.:

Of course this isn’t Emilia’s usual look, but it’s pretty funny.:

Home again:

We have a new router that’s speeding things up, so perhaps we’ll be back here more frequently.  But really, we’ll probably just be cuddling.

Beards Go Up

May 28, 2012

This morning, when Stella said she’d like to be a train engineer Basil said he’d like to drive a firetruck.  But this evening, after Basil and Papa read the picture book The Holy Monks of Mount Athos, this conversation followed:

Papa: Do you want to be a monk?

Basil: No

Papa: Why not?

Basil: Monks have beards.

Papa: You don’t want a beard?

Basil: No.

Papa: Papa has a beard.

Basil: Mama and Macrina do not have beards.  I do not have a beard.

Papa: What’s wrong with beards?

Basil: Beards go up.  (He then points out on Papa’s face how the beard comes up to connect to his hair)

Papa: Do you want Papa to be without a beard?

Basil: No.

Papa: Do you want to have one?

Basil: No, I do not want a beard.

Papa: (to Mama) Who’s teaching this kid?  Do you want to be a deacon?  They don’t have to have beards.  Does Deacon Paul have a beard?

Basil: No, but I don’t want to be a deacon.  I don’t want to be a priest, either.

Mama: What do you want to be?

Basil: I just want to be a bishop.  I want to go to the kitchen and get a big napkin to wear.

~Elizabeth

Toys, Waldorf, Montessori

April 18, 2012

 

I know Elizabeth has been reading recently about Waldorf education, which is a little interesting since I am currently a Montessori educator.  I, myself, have read very little about Waldorf education, but there are some things that I find to be very different about them.

In Montessori education one of the important factors for young children is to make everything real.  If the children are just developing their minds and coming to understand the world around them, they have no need for fantasy.  The new world that they are exploring is fantastic enough.  Instead of using a fake broom, they want to use a real broom and to sweep like they see the adults doing.  A large chunk of the Montessori education for young children is involved with “practical life” – teaching the children how to do real, practical things in life (for a variety of reasons).  For a short while I was convinced to take out all of the fantasty books from Basil’s library – anything with talking animals – in exchange for non-fiction books that explained real parts of the world or realistic / historical fiction types of books.

My shallow understanding of Waldorf is that it is the opposite – that children are encouraged to use their imaginations a lot and to do a lot of fantasy or make-believe play.  Montessori children do not “play” but rather “work.”  Children choose different works, and imaginative play has little to no place in the learning environment.  The “work” is productive, constructive activity that continues their natural ( = ideal, perfect) development (to adulthood).

Having raised Basil now for nearly 3 years, my mind has changed a bit.  He does want to do what he sees his mama and papa doing, and I still want to provide him a real broom, fork, etc.  But he also loves pretending, and he knows he’s pretending.  He says “I’m pretending” when I tell him the toy chimpanzee is not a polar bear.  His pro-yiayia loves seeing him pretend to do church when he comes over on Sundays.  In a way he is going through the motions of a Montessori “work” and repeating what he’s seen, but in another way he is doing imaginative play – which is more like Waldorf.  We simply can’t get him the materials to truly do the Eucharist at home…

In the Montessori classroom there are really no “toys.”  Our home is not a Montessori classroom, nor should it be.  We do have toys, and here is where the Waldorf ideas really seem to hit home for me.  One website I saw summed up the idea like this:

  • Is it beautiful?
  • Does it feel good?
  • Does it leave room for the imagination?
  • Will it inspire creative play?
  • Is it open-ended? (That is, is there more than one way to play with it?)

These questions do guide our choice of toys.  A quick conclusion from the questions is that most of the plastic, commercial toys today are automatically out.  They are too specific in use, they are not beautiful, and they are made to be disposable yet are not biodegradable -> which is really the opposite of what we want to teach him about how to use resources.

It’s a bit difficult to really rule out all plastic things, such as his toilet, and at this point it would seem nearly impossible for us to do this as adults in our own environment.  Still, as much as possible this is something we agree on and seems to not be in dispute between Montessori and Waldorf educators.  Montessorians might heavily disagree regarding the shape and use of the toys – but not in their materials or construction.  Montessori materials are nearly always made of glass, metal, or wood.

Another aspect of all of this is to consider the disposable nature of many toys offered today and the quantity of toys we have in the house.  We decided a little while back to do a rotation of toys – putting some in the closet and bringing them back out when the current toys on the shelf were no longer of interest.  One problem with this scenario is that our closet is only so large!  We’ve begun running out of space to put the ones we want to take off the shelf.

The quality of toys can have a direct effect on the quantity of toys in these ways: Quality toys are likely higher in price, so you buy fewer (this one is hard because we are penny pinchers!).  Quality toys should be more open ended, so you need fewer because you can do more with less.  Quality toys should be made of better materials and last longer, so they need fewer replacements.

Here are some other articles I recently read regarding toys, plastics, etc:

MotherSpirit Article: Toys
Top 3 Reasons Why Mothers Should Get Rid of Plastic
Easy Ways to Reduce Plastics at Home
Waldorf Toys: Choosing the Best Educational Toys For Your Children <- Source of above quote
Too Many Toys <- a very interesting article about someone who was going to work for Hasbro

~Eric

A Fair Monday

April 2, 2012

Happy Monday everyone.  And by “everyone”, I mean all those who read this blog.  I really should say “Happy Monday Basil Fans!”  And since you are all Basil fans, here’s an update on what he’s been up to this fair Monday.

After breakfast Basil got busy making some honey wheat bread.  He was an eager kneader.

After covering the dough to rise Basil was not so keen on letting it rest.  To avoid further poking and prodding we went downstairs to other duties.

Oh yes.  Laundry time!  Basil is rather fascinated with the washer.  Conveniently, our washer will continue agitating the clothes with the lid open, so we can watch the show.  (He didn’t fall in.)

A quick train stop since we were downstairs already.

And then to check on the bread.  I was nursing Macrina and trusting that the dough was not being pulverized.

The dough was safe.  But Dagmar the Duck tends to get hungry at the same times as Macrina.  So Dagmar got to nurse too.  And we all enjoyed reading “Sammy Salami” and “The Noisy House”.

               Then a bit of gluing.

And it was time to bake the bread!  I didn’t get pictures of that.  But it was followed by more food production on the earlier end of the process.  Basil planted lettuce seeds.  Carrots went in too, but they were mighty tiny seeds so I avoided having a helper.  But he did man the watering can to give our seeds a good sprinkling.Serious planting was followed by serious digging around in the dirt.  Which is a lot of work.  So we had lunch and it was such a fair Monday that we ate outside and got to exchange pleasantries with our neighbor Linda.  Squirrels keep stealing her lettuce.  We’re hoping ours doesn’t go the same route.

Tasting the fruits of his earlier labor.

Then there were a couple stories and an attempt at a nap.  It seems daytime sleep is a thing of the past for Basil.  Unless we’re in the car.  Then he’ll still fall asleep, if he’s really tired.  It’s hard to tell how much he needs it.  For now the rest hour isn’t going anywhere, that’s for sure.

Then Basil loaded and unloaded his garbage truck many many times.  I think the contents were diaper ointment and little finger puppets.  I couldn’t tell what the storyline was for the game.  This was at the same time as insisting on listening to the same song about Paris not being built in one day FOURTEEN times.  He calls it “The Ice Cream Song”.  I don’t get it.  But it is (thankfully!) a pleasant little ditty.

Then playdough.  We discussed “play” vs “real” dough since he experienced both today.  Toothpicks were added to the playdough tool arsenal today.  Very cool.

Playdough starting losing its allure about the same time dinner was done.  Basil wanted to keep playing inside, but I vetoed his plan on account of the weather.  It was far too nice out.

A bike ride all the way around the block.  With a stop to pat the bunny.  Among other stops, of course.

To the playground!

Most of the time was actually spent pulling the pulley by a jump rope someone left tied to it.  It makes a nice ding sound when it hits the end of the track.  He also nervously watched the other family that was there playing. 

Then it was back home for playtime with Papa, dinner, more stories and bedtime.

Wait… you’re a Macrina fan too?  You may be wondering where the younger sibling was during all the day’s excitement.  Macrina was surely along for the ride!  She practiced her sitting (she’s got it down, unaided (!)  but she’s only rolled over a couple times), giggled at Basil, and made goofy fake cough sounds in very conversational ways.  It’s pretty amazing how much Macrina is amused by Basil’s antics already, she really loves watching him.  She especially lights up when he comes downstairs after naptime.  The only thing better is when Papa comes home.  The lack of object permanence seems to make it an especially amazing experience everyday.  Macrina remains a most pleasant (the most ?) pleasant baby.  Last night she woke up in the middle of the night to kick her feet and smile at me.  I don’t wish the timing to be a habit, but it was heart warming.  Even in the middle of the night.

Both Macrina and I have a cold so it wasn’t really the best day for pictures.  But I did get a few good ones.

I guess watching the laundry work was… shocking?

Observing the kneading seems like it must have been a more pleasant view:

Tummy time in the kitchen is a usual perch.  It was dry and warm enough outside that Macrina got to play on the ground for the first time instead of being in arms in the out of doors.  She seemed a lot more excited about it than she appears in the pictures.

  And the usual hideouts.  

Here’s to a fair Tuesday!  (With fewer photographs.)

*Here’s the bread recipe.  It’s pretty tasty and VERY fast.  Swift enough for a 2.5 year old attention span!  I’m hoping to try adjusting the type-of-flour ratio and the honey.  http://prayingwithmyfeet.blogspot.com/2012/03/bread-for-presanctified-liturgy.htm  *

Macrina Laughs and Many Meetings

January 19, 2012

Her neck is fairly irresistible for kissing, even when it’s full of crusties from dried spit up.  Who knew it was a tickle spot on a girl so young!

We’ve been very busy and neglectful to our blog audience.  So many things have passed they will hardly be covered, but I will try to provide a few pictures.

Papou Sam and Yiayia Brooke met Macrina:

Basil and Papou Sam meet a Como Zoo Polar Bear:

Oh wait, that’s Jesse Ventura!  Here’s the bear:

Cousin Stella and Auntie Katina meet Macrina:

Uncle Jeff meets Macrina:

Basil meets an orange bike from Yiayia Brooke and takes it for a walk:

A proud papa?

The living room meets a new look:

Macrina meets Danielle and Meredith:

Macrina meets one of her first smiles:

My new tools meet some wood and hardware:

My new tools meet more wood and hardware, as well as very smelly, slowly drying polyurethane…

Basil meets our first real snow of the season:

Mama meets spit-up bad:

Sibling lips meet:

Come meet us!

~Eric

Cannibalistic Newborns! …and other photos

November 19, 2011

I must admit, I am just as much of a guilty party in the attempted consumption as the infants…

Macrina:

Basil:

First family photo at home:

Four generations:

Family “tummy time”:

Basil and Macrina fun time:

Papa and Macrina fun time:

 

Papa and Basil fun time:

Goodbye umbilical cord stump – we hardly knew ye!

~Eric

Basil’s Little Sister!

October 31, 2011

The Saathoff (nuclear) family has increased to four terrestrial beings: Papa, Mama, Basil, and Macrina.

As I wrote in an email that went out earlier:

“Contractions began around 4:00am, we made it to the hospital at 6:50am, and the baby girl beat the doctor at 7:30am.

Macrina Brooke weighed 7lbs 6oz, 21 inches.  Very healthy and good at nursing.”

She is named for St Macrina the Younger, sister of St. Basil the Great, and both of her yiayias (Brooke).

– Here is the Life of Macrina, written by her brother, St. Gregory of Nyssa.
– Here is a dialogue written by St. Gregory between himself and Macrina concerning the soul and resurrection.
Here is a shorter version of her life.

Big brother is a big, big fan, as is everyone else.  Fr. Jonathan stopped by to give a blessing.  All local family have met her, as well.  We look forward to seeing the distant family!  Until then…

   

~Eric

Three Trips for the Family

August 24, 2011

We have had three important trips recently that I’ll try to summarize below with some fun pictures.

TRIP 1

First was our anniversary trip, delayed due to skin infection and state government closure.  I had originally planned for us to visit Lake Itasca, but I couldn’t be sure whether or not the park would be open because the state government had shut down.  Would it be open in time?  Well, I was interested in visiting an interesting spot along the Mississippi, and I figured if Minnesota was closed I should turn to Wisconsin.

I soon discovered a neat area called “Lake Pepin,” which is not really a lake at all.  It is the widest natural stretch of the Mississippi.  I set up the date as a mystery with only geocache coordinates along the way to lead us from stop to stop.

The visit took us along the Great River Road, which was gorgeous.  You could see the river intermittently along the drive, and every so often there were scenic overlook spots to get out of the car and enjoy the river.

The road often wound in between the river and huge bluffs.

One of the non-geocache stops was to picnic atop a bluff in a park area.  I thought it would be a quick walk from the parking area, but we ended up walking for about 20 minutes through a grassy and wooded area.

Finally we emerged onto a clearing atop the bluff.

See a beautiful image of the bluff here.

Elizabeth set out the blanket, and we had a picnic, watching the barges float by.

After that we visited a historical museum in the town of Pepin, the birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder, as well as a replica cabin near to the area where her family lived.

We also stopped in little Stockholm, WI, where there was an event called Dog Days.  We were just curious to drive by, but while driving by we saw these blue bikes.  Around the Twin Cities there is a program called Nice Ride, where you can rent a bicycle for a short period and return it to any kiosk around the cities for a fee.  Here there was an absolutely free bike sharing program.  It is one of the advantages of small town living – you don’t worry nearly as much about theft.

(click the picture to zoom in and read the tags on each bike)

I had plans for us to visit the Tiffany wildlife area, but we were too exhausted to do more exploring.  We returned home along the beautiful Great River Road.

TRIP 2

A few days after our trip to Wisconsin, we were on our way out of the house when Basil decided he would take his own trip.  Very confidently he took the back stairs by himself, but he had a misstep and tripped over his head on the way down.  His mother reports that he was more upset about a fallen tupperware than his own head.  Oh well!

  

  

It took about a week to all heal up.

TRIP 3

The last trip we took was another wonderful trip to Wisconsin.  We’ve had a lot of positive experiences in that state recently – and it’s not due simply to their famous bratwursts, cheese, and beer (triple threat, oh my!).

We had a family vacation with our friends from Chicago.
We shared a cabin with John and Lila, Basil’s Godparents, and their daughter Dorothy:

And our friends, Mark and Claire, Basil’s first-ever baby sitters.  Claire was one of Basil’s most frequent (and favorite) visitors  during his first year of life.

It was great to see Dorothy a little more grown up.  Basil was super excited to meet her.  We think this bodes well for his younger sibling.

Many hugs and kisses were exchanged.

The location was called Historic Liberty Lodge.  It turned out to be built after our own home, but it was covered from floor to ceiling with patriotic decorations.  Here is just a sampling:

  

They provided a row boat along the dock for the lake, horseshoes, croquet, bicycles, a gas grill, a bonfire pit, patio furniture, and acorns aplenty.  Basil’s favorite part, aside from Dorothy, was making “acorn pie” for the squirrels.

We spent lots of time talking about raising children, the prevalence of disposable plastics in society, future vocations, and church.  We really had a wonderful time and would love to make it a regular gathering.

  

~Eric

A Joke!

June 17, 2011

It has been awhile since I posted here.  (Eric may think that’s a bit understated.)  But I’ve decided to make a blog post in honor of Basil making his first joke.  When we’re reading a book about animals, or sometimes when he’s playing with stuffed animals he labels all of them “mon-KEY!”.  When we say he’s silly and tell him the real names he continues with “mon-KEY” until he’s laughing too hard to go on.  This is a very funny joke!

Besides joking Basil has been having lots of fun outside now that summer is truly here.  Here are some photos of a morning at the beach:


There has been indoor fun as well.   One afternoon I stopped dinner prep to check on Basil as usual.  I figured he was watching the elementary school down the block dismiss (a favorite pastime).  Instead, I found him in a box!

Upon interview, the box turned out to be a “bo” on the “wa”.  While he may not have the ending of words down, Basil knows better than to sail alone.  The cat went along for the cruise:

But appears to have been dumped in the “wa”.  Oh well.

The corner of the hammock is visible in these pictures, so I might as well display it in all its glory.  Eric knows how to bargain at a garage sale and he haggled us a very nice spot to rest.

Basil has also recently enjoyed a couple visits to the zoo.  He has been caught at home enlightening the animal kingdom with fine literature.

Today Eric celebrates his last day of school for the year.  He will begin St. Kate’s training full time on Monday, but being a student promises to be much less daunting so it will still qualify as quite a “break”.

Little Patriot is flipping around nicely.  Our doctor’s appointments are weekly now and so far so good with no cervical changes since the surgery!  Tuesday will be 20 weeks, so we’re getting nearer and nearer to when things went downhill with Basil’s gestation, but we’re already in a better place to catch things early and rest as needed.  We’ll get another look at LP next week.

~Elizabeth