We're under fowl surveillance. The chickens want in.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Language acquisition with B!

I showed the video from my last post to N and B, and they were predictably thrilled to see their very own mugs on an electronic screen. B's little eyebrows shot up, and he excitedly exclaimed, "It's me and...! It's we! It's... it's..." He floundered, obviously sure that there was a some pronoun, somewhere, that would include himself and the siblings also in the video with him in one neat, monosyllabic package. He just didn't know, or couldn't remember, what it was. But he was undaunted. He was brilliant. He was impressive. I could see his mind working, scanning his little lexicon like my computer scanning for viruses, and when he came up short, he applied his version of Grammar Rules I Know Thus Far and settled on shouting, with unmitigated delight, "It's mes!"

How cool is that? I don't remember learning English, but I remember when I first started learning Japanese. If I didn't know how to express something, it was hard for me forge on, undaunted. I was typically very daunted. Too bad I wasn't more like B and other little language-learning children. And how impressive is it that a not-quite-three-year-old can do this? It's really quite sophisticated if you think about it. "I don't know this word I want to use, but I know the pronoun 'me,' and the word I want is like 'me,' but there are other people with me, so it's more than 'me'... so I'll make 'me' plural! I know how to make plurals!" And so we get "mes." Fantabulous.

"That's right, B." I said. "It's you, and N, and W! So say, 'It's us!'"

And that got me the best smile of all. "Yeah. It's us!" he replied. With great satisfaction.

He may move on to "us," but I will always remember "mes."

Climbing over every language obstacle...

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

A short post with two big brothers and a baby.

The other day I was checking my email when I noticed the almost-melodic sound of a 5-year-old and a 2.5-year-old singing. So I turned around and witnessed N and B singing "Heads, Shoulders, Knees and Toes" to baby W, much to his delight.

I had been feeling a bit blue, but at that moment all I could feel was very lucky to be me. Seeing my children love each other and enjoy each other's company is the best mood-lifter. I'm glad video exists, so that I can have that little episode forever.

Even with that teensy communication breakdown B exhibited at the end there in the video.

Well, see, life is good. It just ain't perfect.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Dust baths and tomato seeds. Ah, spring!

Around here, spring is a tease. We'll have beautiful, warm sunny days that make us feel that spring has truly sprung, and then in an abrupt about-face it will snow down some spiteful slush on us.

On the sunny days, the chickens are clearly as ecstatic about it as we are. Here they are enjoying a dust bath. They will fluff dirt into their feathers to make sure no lice or other unpleasantness can live there. Plus, it obviously is a pleasurable experience for them. They transform our backyard into a chicken spa.

But Spring is nearly ready to commit. I hope. And we are preparing for gardening season! This means the shelf in front of the playroom windows are being taken over by tomato seedlings.

We had a bit of a tomato planting party. See, when we first started gardening, we would buy tomato starts from the local nursery. We grew some lovely Roma tomatoes and beefsteaks (if they told us the variety, I don't recall), and we were quite happy with them. But a good friend and lovely neighbor who jut happens to be an expert gardener opened our eyes to a world of tomato possibilities: it turns out that if you are willing to start your own tomato plants from seeds, there is no end to the variety you can choose from. I had no idea. Now, granted, I grew up in Alaska, where unless you have a greenhouse as well as a green thumb, you don't grow tomatoes. But still... orange tomatoes, purple tomatoes, yellow tomatoes, yellow and green striped tomatoes, tomatoes that remain green when ripe and juicy (which I forgot, so last year the chickens got most of those-I thought they were still green! Because they were! But ripe nonetheless)... it was a whole new world for me.

This year we ordered from a fantastic heirloom seed company called Baker Creek. After pouring over the amazing catalog, we selected (with N's help- he's quite the little gardening enthusiast) Violet Jasper and Omar's Lebanese as new varieties we're trying for the first time this year. We also planted some of the favorites we've found thus far: Cherokee Purple, Black Cherry, and Pink Brandywine. Unfortunately, we ordered too late to get all out favorites-- some were sold out! My goal this year is to buckle down and learn how to successfully save the seeds from our tomatoes. Then we will only need to purchase seeds for new types to try.

Planting those tiny seeds, it never ceases to astonish me that we expect to get tomatoes from them. We planted some eggplant and sweet peppers, too. Purple Beauty Peppers, Lipstick Peppers, Black Diamond Eggplant, and the fabulously named Pandora Striped Rose Eggplant.

Here are J and N watering the newly planted seeds.

N feels a special responsibility for caring for our little plants. Here he is watering the seedlings a couple of weeks later.

A few days ago, the seedlings were so large that it was time to transfer them to larger containers. J undertook that task. And now they dominate the window.

Isn't it a beautiful sight?