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Saturday, October 30, 2010

New Favorite Book?

The Bubs loves his new Thomas the Steam Engine book, which he got for his 2nd birthday. He sits there and studies - I mean studies - the pictures. We can do "picture walks" with this one and see if we can predict the story before reading the text. This will help him for when he starts Kindergarten in three years. No pressure Bubs, you've got lots of time!

How does a train draw so much interest from this kid? He loves planes too. Perhaps I can rig a "plane track" that flies a handful of planes around an island as they talk amongst each other? It would have to be an archipelago for the idea of multiple plane-use to be logical. What else... oh, and there should be a fat, white guy who owns the whole company (Mr Top-m-hat) and calls the shots. This would reflect society more accurately in its "hidden curriculum." 

Friday, October 29, 2010

Dots to Circles

If you look closely, you'll see the Bubs is now drawing circles. This is a transition from his dots and hard-impact "banging" on the paper. He is more fluid and graceful with the crayon. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Bringing Toys to Bed

Lately, the Bubs insists on bringing some of his toys to bed. One day it's his Thomas train (and Percy), but another day it may be his favorite two Hot Wheels cars (or the two favorites on that particular day). I used to think that this was a bad idea. "Bed is for sleeping," an inner voice tells me. But then I think, "Why not?" If the Bubs wants to do a little playing before falling asleep, then great. Why prevent that? I like to read a book before going to bed and the bedroom is not the library. Would I bring the almost-built-dresser, which I'm working on, from the garage to bed with me? No. But if my hobbies still included playing with Hot Wheels cars and Thomas the Steam Engine trains, then perhaps I would. Maybe my wife would have other thoughts about this.

I feel like there's a child psychologist out there reading this and shaking his or her head in disagreement with the Bubs taking his cars to bed. But in reality, there aren't any child psychologists reading this. So, no worries. 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010


The Bubs and I had a not-so-average Fall day today during our run. The weather was in the high 60's and we're near the end of October. We're not arguing, we're just saying. We did maybe 3 miles today. I find that the run is no longer about how far I can run, but rather how far I can run before the Bubs gets bored of riding in the stroller. Our runs are longer too. After the run, I release the Bubs from his straps and have him run around. This is the fun part now. I get to relax and maybe even get some stretching in while the little guy wanders around the soccer field.

I have one full 26.2-mile marathon and four, 13.1 half-marathons under my belt, but none were ran in the past 3 years. I will be running in a 9-mile run this Thanksgiving. I'm running with my brother and cousins. I remember running with my father on a fair amount of 3 to 5-mile runs periodically through the years. This will be one of a handful of runs with my brother. I'm more of a loner runner lately, but I look forward to running with the Bubs when he is old enough. I'm hoping that the runs that I'm taking him on now influence his interest in running later. It's all selfish planning really.

I remember seeing a story on television about a father who has ran with his son, who is handicap, for more than 20 years. They're a team. They do triathalons as well. The father said that when he learned that bringing his son along on his runs made his son feel free from his non-working limbs. This instantly inspired the father to create the journey they've been on together ever since. Here's the clip I found on Youtube: 

Monday, October 25, 2010

The Bubs constructed his first essay yesterday with some makers and construction paper he received on his 2nd birthday a few weeks ago. This essay is not in standard English or any known language, but his fearless attempt to communicate and break some code is commendable. Using multiple colors and the entire surface of the paper suggests that the bub not limiting himself, which is a positive thing for this stay-at-home dad.

I had the opportunity to freelance for a couple of daily newspapers in northeastern pennsylvania. I wasn't successful due to quitting the journalism field after talking with a retired journalist from that particular newspaper. While working in the newsroom one day, this journalist came into the newsroom library and started rummaging for pictures. I began to help him as he was telling me a story of how he needed some pictures on specific dates/stories for his retirement "roast" that evening. He said that newspaper writing was a great career, but the pay was shit. He then looked at me and said, "Get out while you can. You'll never make a buck in this industry." 

Around the same time, I was offered a job managing the restaurant, which I was waiting tables and bartending at part-time (because the newspaper job pay was shit). So I quit the newspaper and managed the restaurant. For me, it was a great move. After a year of managing that restaurant, I had enough. I was burnt out. It positioned me perfectly to get back into school and complete my undone undergraduate degree. Upon finishing the undergraduate, I headed out to California to get into a teaching profession. Then I met my wife and at UCLA the Bubs was born. Can I really thank that old newspaper reporter for all this?

I can't say that the Bub's will be a prolific writer like his dad potentially could have been, but he at least has learned to use the markers more on the paper and less on his hands, face and chairs. Don't worry, it's non-toxic and water washable.  

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Bubs loves playing with his cars on the dining room table. It has a big, flat surface for him to watch the wheels roll along the wood. He likes to lay his head down, sideways and watch those wheels roll along. I join him and we sit there rolling our cars back and forth, back and forth on the table top. Sometimes we'd look at each other and laugh, because we understand how cool this actually is. I remember doing this as a kid myself. Accept my older brother use to try and stop me from playing with his cars because I would "press down on them" and ruin the wheel alignments. I didn't know what he was talking about because I just a toddler. All I remember is our mom holding him back from taking his cars away from me.

I haven't noticed the Bubs pressing down too hard on his cars and all the wheels seem to be rolling along perfectly well. This stay-at-home dad stuff is a lot easier when a dad can pull some information from the files, a.k.a. schemas, in his memory bank. That file could have been easily lost if the Bubs never became interested in his Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars. What else am I storing upstairs? What other information can I pull down from years past and help me in this always-changing job description?

I cannot remember if I was supposed to wash my hands before playing with those cars many years ago. I ask myself this because the Bubs tends to get some of his lunch in the front seat of the '71 Dodge.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

The Bub is now two years old. He's able to kick the ball on command, but then loses interest after 4 or 5 seconds. I have to wait for about another 15 minutes before I can trick him into being interested in the ball again. He'll run and kick a couple of times and then run right by it without looking back. His sports-attention span is very short, but he loves his Matchbox and Hot Wheels cars. He'll play with them for almost an hour straight without a peep. I somehow have to combine these two activities so I can keep the little guy on track for his professional sports career. Maybe he'll be a Nascar circuit driver or a soccer player? I haven't given him a bat yet, so we're not sure about his baseball career yet. I'm nervous about giving him a bat right now.

I think I'll keep him away from football. With all the head injuries occurring on the field lately, I think I'll give the Bub's mom and me a break with this sport. Too much worrying. I used to play pee-wee league football and loved it, but it has gotten much more competitive since then. This competitiveness likely brings harder hits or perhaps it's just the media now exposing it. Either way I'll error on the side of caution. It is probably against the stay-at-home-dad rule book to say "no football" for this little guy, but I've never been part of the average.

My hope is that he turns into a bookworm and just wants to read all the time. This would be great. He loves his books. He spends lots of time over at his bookshelf just "picture walking" on his own already. I can see not worrying about where he is or who he is hanging out with, when he gets older, if I know that he's likely at a coffee shop or up in his room reading a book. This would make my job (and his mom's job) much easier later on. No popularity contests please. No center-of-attention please. Just a low-key Bubs will be perfect.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Inside Shoes

Stay at home dads don't use alarm clocks. I wake up with no where to go. I don't have to be anywhere at any particular time most mornings. The Bub tells me what to do next. He's really in control of my days. He doesn't care if I get my shower or not. He's a pretty selfish individual. Even when he goes down for his nap, I can't really shower, because he's sleeping in the next room and the shower makes noise. So, some days I just don't shower. On these days I truly feel like Michael Keaton in Mr. Mom. I don't have a favorite flannel yet and I hope that day never comes. However, I did consider naming an old, green sweatshirt as my "house sweatshirt" to wear. It almost happened and I stopped myself and thought, "if you do this, then you're only going to get worse." Next will be choosing which shoes I wear inside and which I only wear in the garage as well as a pair that I can only wear outside.

I do have slipper/shoes which I wear around the house since the cold weather is here. The house floors are wood and very cold. There is nothing worse than walking on cold wood. So I guess these are my "inside shoes" now. I do have a pair of grass-cutting shoes. Perhaps I'll wear those as my "garage shoes" since I won't be cutting the grass during the winter. I do remember anointing my old pair of Converse All Stars (Chuck Taylor's - canvas) as my gardening shoes when I was about 8 years old, but that didn't last too long. I think I wore them once out in the garden (with my mom). I don't think I ever went into the garden after that.

Maybe Mr Rogers was a big influence on me as a kid. I used to love the way he flipped each shoe as he took it off his foot. He'd then show the shoe to the camera proudly. I'm not sure why he did that.

I'm going to go find my inside shoes.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Mom reading "Ve, perro. ¡Ve!" with Bubs (above)

The bubs again had us read him "Good Night Gorilla"
twice tonight. He loves pointing out the moon on each
page, but ignores the mouse, banana and balloon. He
has an interest with the real moon too (when outside he
is always pointing up to it). He is not a big fan of  "It's
Not Easy Being Big!," by St. Pierre (the book with
Big Bird on the cover). However, he is a fan of
Sesame Street. "Boats," by Byron Barton is another
favorite. The bubs points to multiple items on most
of the pages. I try to answer all of them as quickly as
possible before he points to the next item."Those are cars on the boat. Those are the people on the boat. That's a flag!" He makes me work with that one.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The bub's choices today. He likes "Good Night Gorilla," by Peggy Rathmann so much that he asked us to read it twice tonight!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Bubs read these tonight. The little one (center-bottom) is a favorite of his. It's called "Shapes," by Siede Preis Photography (pictures only). The bubs enjoys pointing to the shapes and having me name what the shape it, "That circle is a clock. That star is a badge." The "Cheerios" book is pretty cool. It interactive and you can place his O's on all the pages to blend in the picture. There will always be a straggler O around when reading this book. Keep the vacuum handy.

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Bub's New Library - 1st "Bub's Book Selection"

 Below is a picture of the shelf that I have been working on for the Bubs. I finally finished it just in time for his 2nd birthday. It'll be the proverbial "gift that keeps on giving."

Where to put it?

While learning about "literacy in the classroom" in my teacher certification class, I read about how some teachers strategically locate their "classroom libraries." Some place theirs in the center of their classroom with a big cushy couch, while others stick the bookshelf in the corner. I am not sure how important this is, but I gave it serious consideration. So instead of placing the Bub's new bookshelf in his room - upstairs away from sight - I placed it in the living room (where he spends most of his time during the day). I think it was a good choice.
 I think the little guy likes having his book collection in arm's reach. When it was time to read to him today, I asked him to "go find a book for dad to read." He then scampered over to his shelf and shuffled through a couple books and ran over with one. After that book, I asked him to get another. We did this five times and he chose all of his five books that I read to him. I think this is pretty cool. Prior to his bookshelf, his mom and I shelved his books on our bookshelf, which was out of his reach. Because of this previous book location, she and I chose the books for him (thinking that we knew what he liked). Needless to say, the five books he chose today (pictured above) would not have been the five that I would have chosen... or even have been choosing. Perhaps I don't know everything that he likes and because of this reason, I'm excited that this shelf is allowing him to choose. This learning-strategy also connects with some of the research on critical-theory pedagogies, which frowns upon teachers/schools assigning non-diverse reading lists from a limited group of books (a.k.a., from the American canon which consists of mainly dominant group, or like-minded authors).  

I plan to report on my blog the books chosen by the Bubs. Each day (or whenever I remember to do this), we'll see how many times the little guy either chooses the same book(s) or new ones. Perhaps we'll read all the books on his new bookshelf or maybe we'll just reread the five above. Maybe this blog will have to be renamed to the "Bub's Book Selection?" We'll see. I will report on not only the books he chooses, but any significant behavior during this activity. For example, of the five books he chose today, the book titled, "Snowballs" (in the pic above) was not one he seemingly liked. I say this because, he jumped off my lap just after the third page. However, I kept reading to the last page. I am not sure why I did this. Perhaps I thought he might hear something he liked and realized that he jumped to conclusions too soon. 

Or, maybe I just wanted to show him who's boss... (or at least give him the impression that I still am). ;)
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