Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Acitivism Starts Young

I wasn't able to catch all the details, but this morning Isabelle was playing in her room, telling a long story about some adventure, involving fairies being chased by some wicked force... that happened to be named "President Bush."

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Isabelle Sez

"The difference between children and adults is that adults get cold looking at naked children, but children don't get cold looking at naked adults."

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cure for the Blues

Isabelle wanted me to post her cure for the blues. If your child is sad, Mom or Dad should recite the following, which Isabelle typed herself on the computer:

Zxcdsaqwertyhbvnmuipfgjklohgutugeevbhbubnbunhbbnjbnjetujtnbjmbjernjrjiusiytnsvnsnbesvmsvevmvbjgjngjeinefnesgitumfnbkmbgibkbitbmimbisss iigkkg gigbbimjgijggjhijhikgjkgihjbbhgjjhbjfkfngjbbmm jpfgjfghfufgvfvfmnbjfhgfnfvhhrystsusebvsvhvvhsv vryvnvrgjhdffhfghgdfhagsdfghjklzxcvbnmqwerttyuiopsgyrhfbhyfgbfybrb b bfbf b bbbhbjbbhbhbcncccnnccnxnbvcxzasdfghjkloiuuytrresxffdsxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

If your child isn't laughing when you're done, you must have had the accent wrong. Try again, this time with your mouth full of marbles.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Growing Up

Isabelle has grown since I last posted a photo here.

Cuddling with her frog

At Boulder Beach this summer

Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Green Egg Moment

Spicy corn quesadillas were on the menu. Usually, when we have them, Isabelle opts for a cheesy-cheesy quesadilla, which contains, of course, only cheese. The spicy corn recipe contains her most reviled food: onions. Carrie was out, so I asked Isabelle, "Would you like some corn in your quesadilla, too?" Yes she would.

I concocted a new quesadilla, much like the spicy corn recipe, but without onions or cayenne. Just as I was about to serve them, "No! I want a cheesy quesadilla!" Nothing for it, I fried up one more with just cheese.

She gobbled up her cheesy-cheesy, and was thinking about more, when I cut of a big piece of cheesy-corny and said, "Just taste this and tell me if it's too yucky to eat."

Chew. "It is! It's yucky!" Frown.

"Okay. Thank you for trying it. Just chew it up."

Chew-chew. Suddenly her eyes snap wide open in surprise. "I do! I like this!"

"You want more?"


Wednesday, July 09, 2008

On the meaning of science

Isabelle and I were talking about pine cones, and the difference between green pine cones and brown pine cones. I told her that pine cones held the seeds of pine trees, and that “scientists calls them ‘cone-bearing trees.’”

“Dad,” she told me. “A scientist, science is telling things with your hands, and not your mouth.”

Maybe a surprise to Aristotle, but I thought it had some merit. Don’t just say it’s true, show that it’s true. I told her I would tell her Uncle Bruce, because he is a scientist.

“Really?” she asked. Then she told me how to say “tie your shoe” in sign language. I didn’t quite get the segue, but that’s not too rare with a 4 year-old.

I repeated her marvelous quote. “Science is telling things with your hands, and not your mouth.”

“Shh, Dad,” she said. “Use your hands.”

That was when I realized she had not, after all, defined a scientist, but rather a “silent-ist.”

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Isabelle Art

Isabelle attempted to make a portrait of our cat, Teezer, as a kitten. She set out with this photo as a guide:

Isabelle was very disappointed in the results. She actually burst into tears and was inconsolable, until she made me promise to draw a picture of Teeze that she could color in. Now, I created a picture of Teeze that more acurately reflected her proportions. But it didn't have half the spirit or Isabelle's picture, which, of course, is posted below:

Teezer's bib outline was actually done by Mom in an unsuccessful effort to calm our high-standards artist, but all the rest is genuine IHRW, pen and marker.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Isabelle Art

More, I'll let these speak for themselves:

House, with one fixing the sky
pencil and crayon

Too Many Kids
pencil and crayon

Zone of Proximal Development

The other day Isabelle and I were drawing together, and I decided, on the spur of the moment, to not draw with my cartoon style (as from my MLK book) but to adopt her style, and add just a little sophistication. The Russian developmental psychologist, Vygotsky, called this the Zone of Proximal Development, which is to say, teaching not what the child knows, nor what you want the child to know, but just a little more than they can comfortably do. The next day, Isabelle drew this:

Me and Jenna


Jenna has a big mouth, because she eats a lot. And she's got a strawberry, Isabelle told me. But I noticed two things: 1) the eyes are not simple circles, but suggestive of eye shape, with the pupils properly lower than center, 2) the addition of hair. Here's another:

The Monster in Us

On the right is the monster, on the left is a ghost, probably Ghostey, her ectoplasmic imaginary friend. I like the difference in the ghostly features of Ghostey, and the more corporal features of the monster.
Still doesn't worry about the number of digits, though.

Friday, February 29, 2008

Isabelle, Tolkien, and reincarnation

For those who don't see Isabelle in person, you should know that she has beautiful blue-gray eyes. She is also a social-leader type, attracting around herself a small court of admirers.

So the other day, Isabelle put a hand towel over her head like a kerchief. She wrapped a body towel around her waist like a robe. Then this little gray-eyed pilgrim looked at me and told me she was going on a journey.

"Where are you going?"

"To Numenora."

I swear that I have no memory of ever telling Isabelle Tolkien's tale of the Kings of Numenor, or showing her my "Numenor" website, or even speaking the word in her presence. Numenor is just not one of my oft-told tales. Carrie likewise. While one might expect a reincarnation of a Numenorean to be taller, still she has the noble bearing, magnetic personality, and those gray eyes.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Isabelle's favorite books

Isabelle has long loved to pull books off Daddy's bookshelf. At some times she'll do this daily. Generally the same ones. In relative order of preference, Isabelle likes
  1. The Mother Dance by Harriet Lerner, Ph.D.
  2. Dinosaur in a Haystack by Stephen Jay Gould (Biology, not fiction)
  3. Relativity, the Special and General Theory by Albert Einstein
  4. Asymmetries in Time: Problems in the Philosophy of Science by Paul Horwich
  5. Western European Costume by Iris Brooke
  6. The Mismeasure of Man by Stephen Jay Gould
  7. The Double Helix by James D. Watson
  8. The Essential Enneagram

Does she want to be a scientist?

While most of these books are together on my shelf, many are not (such as Mother Dance and European Costume). There are also a number of non-science books near the others that she never selects. These are definitely her favorites.


Isabelle has a naughty alter ego. For a long time I thought she was calling her "Jenna-thief," and if I ask her about "Jenna-thief" she will answer as if I have correctly named her. Carrie heard the name as "Genevieve," which is probably what Isabelle intended. But I keep hearing her say "Jenna-thief," probably because the name is evocative for me. When I listen carefully, I can tell that her 4-year-old effort at the sound /v/ is unformed, and often sounds more like /f/. Since /f/ and /v/ are allophones most of the time in English (that is, one can substitute one for the other without changing the meaning -- "vor" is heard as a variant on "for," whereas "gat" is not a variant of "hat"), my ear hardly notices her unformed consonant, I simply translate it into something that makes a word. "Jenna-thief."

What does Genevieve do? Everything naughty. She first emerged in an ecstasy of storytelling, with Isabelle running about her Grandparents' home in Massachussets describing the havoc Genevieve wrought.

"She took those books and threw them on the floor. She took that pot and she broke it. She ripped up those papers."

Eventually she ran around the room pointing at various objects, "she broke that, and she broke that, and she broke that."

Later, Genevieve became more sophisticated, although her goal of thorough naughtiness remained her raison d'etre:

She rides in the car without her seatbelt
She parks on the sidewalk
She goes shopping in her pajamas
She makes people climb on the roof and then pushes them off
She feeds the cats milk and chocolate
She throws Mommy's shelves without taking the horses off.

But have no fear. If Genevieve comes near, Isabelle says she'll get Mr. Incredible to throw the house at her.

"But honey, if he throws the house at her, where will we live?"

"That's okay. We can live in the hole where the house was."

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Isabelle's Room

Isabelle's Room
pen and crayon

This is a thorough diagram of Isabelle's room. On the left side, you can see Isabelle coming in. The rectangle around her is the door. At the top you can see her bed, surrounded by ruffles, with a pillow, and rumpled blankets. Moving clockwise to the right, there is a square which is her window, and then her dresser, with all the drawers for her clothes. In the lower right corner, the circle with lines is her hamper. Along the bottom is the hallway, narrow next to the hamper and widening into a rectangle. The green is our ugly hallway rug.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Song of the Heart

So I just looked down at a pile of Isabelle's papers, and this is what I saw:

I asked her what it was, though it was obvious, and she told me it was a song. "A Song of the Heart."

Others may not think this is such a big deal, but I was utterly floored. Consider that she's spent the past year and a half practicing drawing letters and numbers, and hasn't yet done so independently and with confidence, but here she spontaneously wrote out musical notes. Mostly eighth notes, but some are conjoined and some are independent (with their flags projecting forward). There's even a pair of sixteenth notes. The thing in the upper left may not look like much, but it seems to be holding the place of the G-clef. I don't know if Montessori has had them look at written music, or taught them about it, but her exposure here has been mostly limited to one embarrassing effort of Daddy's to play the "Bad Babies" song on his guitar.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

tales of teaching

Okay, so this isn't about Isabelle, but it's a quote too good to pass up:

STUDENT: Can I have a rubber band?

ME: [suspecting catapult construction] What do you need a rubber band for?

STUDENT: I need it to hold a rolled up piece of paper.

ME: [seeing no such thing] And this rolled up piece of paper is where?

STUDENT: I just made it up so I could get a rubber band.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Isabelle Art

A Valentine Picture

A Flower

A Falling Star

"Like the one Howl caught. This is what it looks like when a demon steals your heart."