"Mom, where do animal babies come from?"
"The same place as human babies."
"Well, I know where ant babies come from. They poop out the eggs! Is that true, mom?"
"yep, Jackson. The ants use the same hole to lay eggs as they use to poop. But only Queen ants lay eggs. The rest just lay poop."
"Does that fertilize the eggs?"
I am one beaming, proud mother these days. Jackson has suddenly hit the I-can't-get-enough-numbers phase and the duh-duh-duh-daddy phase.
With numbers, Jackson used to count to 3, then 5, then struggle with 6 but whiz through 7-8-9. All last year, he could make it to 13 before the rest of the teens came out garbled up. Around Christmas, he found a dinosaur math app on the iPad with addition and subtraction quizzes. He is able to tap out the solutions with just an occasional mistake.
This last week, he's been hitting his stride with counting. He easily makes it to 19, then struggles a little because he really wants there to be a number called "eleventeen". Yesterday, we were working through it: me--20, 21 Jackson--22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, twenty ten me--that's 30...31 Jackson--32, 33, 34... We made it all the way to 100 this way with jack trying to make 3010, 4010, etc and me correcting him to the next series. There was a lot of enthusiastic cheering when we reached 100. I think a few more times together, and he won't need me anymore. My kindergarten self would count to 100 to pass the time during car rides or waiting in line. I remember going with my father to the gravel yard and counting to 100 over and over while we got a truckload of pea gravel. I'm thrilled that my boy enjoys numbers too.
Jackson is also sharing his knowledge with his "mini-me", Jonah. This is great, because Jonah copies everything his big brother does. Jonah will sometimes count on his own as high as 4, but mostly he has the counting rhythm down. Jack will show Jonah how to count, but gets really frustrated that Jonah mixes up numbers or repeats one number over and over. This has all been prompting me to think about how math (or anything really) is learned. One night when jack was really frustrated and yelling at jonah how to do it the right way, I was able to get Jack's attention and talk to him about how Jonah was learning.
I explained how Jonah was new to it, and didn't know how to say the words for all of the numbers yet, but that was OK. He was learning how there was a rhythm to counting: 1-2-3-4-5-6-7... and even if Jonah just said, "9-9-9-9", he was learning the rhythm. I pointed out the numbers I had heard Jonah say "1-2-3-4-6-9" and explained how he would learn more numbers, and that saying the numbers even in the wrong order was helping him learn to count. I must have explained the process really well, because it really sunk in. Jackson cheerfully went back to helping Jonah count penguins, and I shot this video. Yeah, I know the video isn't super polished (even by my standards). I really think it captures the process of learning though, and the elements of the learning process.
Jack has made big strides in reading also. He is attending Lebanon Elementary Preschool now. It's just 3 hours a day, but it's been great. I've had a difficult time getting jack to pay attention to letters at home (except for the alphabet song, which for a while last summer was the only lullaby he'd accept). His preschool has succeeded where I couldn't. He has learned to write most of the letters now, and spends a lot of time writing his name. He's writing his first and last name now. A few months ago, it was just Jackson, and the focus was on making all the letters appear somewhere on the page. If he forgot the "c", he was happy to add it at the end. He also drew a very wonky "s". Now he writes the letters in order, although he struggles with writing left to write. When he writes it right to left, he also inverts all the letters except for the J.
He will sometimes ask me what letters he needs to spell other names like jonah or Evie. I usually write the new names once for him so that he can copy. This last week, he's been working on adding the dodge to his name. He can write it forward or backward now, although sometimes he picks up the g at the end.
Tonight he hit a major reading milestone. We were having bedtime stories, and "Gossie" was up. I like Gossie, and it was a nightly repeat when Jackson turned two. We really haven't read it since, but I've started picking it up since Jonah is just shy of two now. Jackson doesn't remember all the words, but he has the plotline down. A few days ago, he was "reading" it by repeating the parts of the text he has memorized and adlibbing the rest of the plot.
Tonight, his technique was completely different. He used his finger to underline the words as he went through the story, saying much of it from memory and filling in much of the rest. Then (and this was really magical for me) he started sounding some written words out!! "They were wuh-wuh-wuh-walking. On suh-suh-someone else's eff-fuh-fuh-ē-eet." This was such a moment of pride for me,to see the lights suddenly go on like that about how reading works. Really joyful pride on my part. We high-fived and exchanged pounds with fireworks and I laid the praise on thick (not in the forced, yay-another-tiny-success way, but in the -You-are-a-super-genius-and-I-am-overwhelmed-by-it kind of way) and I kissed his smart little head. I don't know if they cover how to sound out words at school, but when he quizzes me at home on spelling words, I usually say, "Pants start with P, puh-puh-puh-pants."
School has also been working on the concept of patterns, and jack is incorporating it into daily life. He gets really excited to find patterns. A few days ago, he found a pattern on a background wallpaper border in a picture book, duck-ball-duck-ball. I just noticed a duplo block tower with 8 dot red blocks stacked on side by side 4 dot green and blue blocks, stacked on 8 dot red blocks. Kind of a big deal for a kid who a year ago would still only use one color block at a time.
Have I gushed enough?! I can't help it. I'm really excited about all of the new, sudden progress my boy has made. I'm also fascinated by how the learning process works. It's amazing to see it unfold.
Introducing our baby girl, Evelyn Rose Dodge. Born January 3, 2012, 3:23 pm -- 8 lbs, 7 oz -- 21 inches
"Evelyn" a grown up name with the sweet nickname "Evie", and "Rose" a family name from both Jason and my family. Rose Winski was Jason's grandmother who was well loved by all in his family. Rose Fox was my great aunt, the favorite of my mother and her sisters (who would have liked to pass her name on, but were unable to because they didn't have enough daughters or it clashed with the last name or whatever reason). I remember visiting her home when I was very young and playing with her toys, but she passed away when I was only 5, so my own memory of her is very thin and fragmented.
So far, Evelyn has been a very content child who sleeps much of the day and much of the night. During the in between times (7-11 am and 5-10 pm) she eats frequently and between eating is happy to snuggle in her parents' arms or to settle onto her bed or swing. This is a very helpful quality in a child who has 2 brothers who need to eat or be dressed or snuggled during those same times, and patience is a quality that will still be useful when she's grown.
Evie has her daddy's dark hair, right now fuzzy and unruly, but sure to be tamed as it lengthens. She has her mother's blue-grey eyes. Maybe they'll change into the sky blue eyes of both her grandfathers or even the hazel eyes of her father, but for now they are momma's eyes. Evelyn's fingers and toes are oh so long and slender. They are neither her mother's hands nor her father's. I think they might've come from her Nana and her Nana's mother. I've been joking that she has giant kangaroo feet, and they are so long that her knit newborn baby booties had to be stretched onto her feet. Today she most resembles her daddy and her brother Jackson, but that could change as well.
Speaking of big brothers, they adore her. Jackson is anxious to teach her about the world. He brings her objects to show her how they work or play. He thinks she is the cutest baby ever to live, and so he calls her "Cute" instead of "Evie". Jonah loves rubbing her fuzzy head, always rubbing her fuzzy head. He's only now starting to develop some of the toddler jealousy, but not enough to over ride his urge to rub her fuzzy head.
Thanks to everyone who has wished us well. We are overjoyed to have Evelyn join our family.