Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Day of the Living Dead

When we decided that I was going to stay at home with our kids I had grand visions of what type of mom and teacher I was going to be. Ya know, the type that was extremely organized, had a monthly theme and daily lesson plans that were thought out weeks in advance. One whose kids proudly stand on their kitchen chairs and in unison yell carpe diem.


Hah. Hah.

Three kids later, I still struggle for the patience and the organization that I once dreamt about. Lesson plans, Gina? Really? I struggle to make a grocery list most days. I'll admit, we do a fair amount of crafts and projects and reading--but it's all spur of the moment, nothing planned in advance and definitely nothing close to being considered a lesson. When I think about it more--I've always been that way. The fly by my seat of the pants-kinda way. Did I think having kids was going to miraculously change me? I actually think I did, and that's where I was wrong.

I decided that one of my New Year's resolutions was going to be establishing more daily routines with my kids. Hopefully, some that will have a lasting effect. Thinking it through, I decided that I'd do a word of the day. Simple yet educational. I can handle that. All I needed was a dictionary.

So for Christmas I got a Children's Dictionary for the kids and endured numerous mockings from my family because it wasn't a toy or because as a kid I hated educational xmases or blah blah blah--bite me family! I was going to buy it anyway so I might as well wrap up the darn thing for them to open.

My rules were simple.

1) Each day one child picks a letter to chose from
2) I'll flip through the pages until my child tells me to stop
3) They will point to any word on the page. Cannot be a picture.
4) No matter what the word is--it's the word of the day.

It sounds easy, right? Well Mia was first and her letter was E. She circled her finger in the air and landed on the word elliptical. Hubba what? Yep, elliptical.

Which, by definition, is having the shape of an elipse, a flattened circle. Which I only knew because I needed to look right above it for the definition of elipse. Hmmm, not gym equipment, after all. Flattened circle, aye? Bella and Mia proceeded to draw their version of an eliptical shape

The following day Bella chose B and her word was boa. As in constrictor not hot pink feathery neck scarf. Duh. As we talked, I realized that they were learning so many more secondary words through this process too. I ended up spending several minutes explaining the difference between pray and prey. Ahh, the joy of teaching.

Our little daily project was turning out great. In fact, one day the word was loath (not willing, reluctant, disinclined) and as we were saying our good night's Bella busted out with, "Mommmm, Mia is being very loath right now. She's not laying in her bed."

Right on. Proud moment. Mother of the Year for sure!

Until the following morning when Mia chose Z as her letter. And again twirled her stubby little finger in the air and landed on this:

Oh shit!

WHAT THE HECK IS THIS DOING IN A CHILDRENS DICTIONARY? Suddenly, crazy visions started going through my head of decomposing dead people popping out of the sandbox with my daughters desperately running for cover while a whole team of zombie preschool teachers bust out the Thriller dance number and shimmy after them.

A zombie. A freakin' zombie!

I didn't give a rat's ass about my rules, I quickly pretended that Mia pointed to a word adjacent on the page.  

Ahhh yes, much better. And there we were, happily making up a story about a zipper that wouldn't zip. PPHHEW!!

So far it's been going well. It's a simple, easy, day-to-day ritual that allows us to sit and talk and draw--which is always a good thing. So I ask you, my mom friends (and dad friends too) any other rituals you and your family do that you'd like to share? I'm always looking for new ideas to spice things up around here.


  1. Literally laughing my head off at the zombie-thing. Hilarious. I would have done the exact same thing. You are such a fun mom!

  2. Oh, you are a soul sister at heart. I too have bought the Children's Dictionary for my kids as a gift. We started making them look up the words they asked us the meaning to {totally something my parents would do} and highlight the ones we looked up. We actually do use the dictionary often, and I keep it on the counter or table so we don't forget what we started. I will never forget the day my daughter looked up "sex". Thanks be to God that the children's dictionary defines it in gender terms. Shew.

  3. we do "thankfuls". our three most thankful things of that day. we do it at bedtime. we try to keep it buttoned up or the kids will drone on and on and on trying to postpone the inevitable. but the beauty is the small things we find happiness in each day. i'm thankful i paid 3 bills while the babies slept, that i had enough creamer left for a second cup of coffee, writing a story with max.

  4. This is great! Thanks for reminding me it's ok to let those lesson plan ideas go (I thought I'd be more organized and doing those too!) and somedays just not learning about the word zombie is enough!

  5. Just checking's been two weeks since you last posted...just in case you were trapped under something heavy...thought I'd send you a shout out...hello?...hello? If you don't post soon I'll send the dogs...



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