Sunday, June 28, 2009

Thoughts on Raising a(n Emergent) Literate

(c) 2009 Ms. Huis Herself at

For the record, and in general, (and for until it's like maybe September,) apologies for the lack/brevity of posting. All I can say is that it's summer and we are OUTSIDE! And since I have only this lovely desktop computer, well, there's not any posting to be done there.

I've been meaning to write for a while about Pumpkin & her steps into reading. It's been so much fun to watch her as she's started figuring this whole thing out. While Mr. Kluges and I can totally take credit for reading to her every day, twice a day (pre-nap/quiet time and pre-bed), she loved & learned a lot from 4K last year. This 4 year-old kindergarten was a great thing for her - she had fun, it got her more socialization, she learned a bunch of songs, and she moved forward so far in terms of writing and reading.

I especially love watching this, since after teaching a multi-age kindergarten-first grade class for years, I'm recognizing so many beginning/emergent reader/writer skills she's showing. When she sounds out words to write them, she's getting the main sounds - usually beginning & ending ones, and often throwing in some sort of vowel as a place-holder in the middle. There are usually no spaces between her words; if she runs out of space, she'll just continue on the next line in the middle of the word, or else go vertical; she asks for help with diagraphs (th, sh, ch - where two letters make a completely different sound).

But it's making sense to her. She "gets" the whole "this squiggle on the paper equals a sound" and "these letters all strung together equal a word that you say." She expects text to make sense, to be understandable if it can be decoded, to have use.

Here's a picture of some words she wrote on a fabric bag she got to decorate for a school thing back in May...

Can you read it? Would it help to know that the event was "Celebrate 4K Day?"

Sure there are reversals, and it's all capital letters, and I'd say we need to practice those K's a little, but still, the sense of it is there. I don't remember if she copied "day" from a sign/calendar in the room or if she had help for that one, but the "celebrate" was all her own.

Reading is much the same. I've mentioned briefly before about some words she'd read, but she's doing more and more of that. I pointed out a sign on the way in to her hour-long "Tot Time" class last Thursday that said, "Today we will eat popcorn." I read her the first few words, then asked her what they were getting to eat. Brief pause, then "popcorn!"

She can do a lot of rereading with books we've read with her. Sure, she's got familiarity and the illustrations on her side, but it's easy to tell she's paying attention to the text. She'll self-correct sometimes if she starts saying a word that makes sense, but isn't actually the one on the page. Mr. Kluges read the classic "Hop on Pop" to her once and the next time they went to read it (day or so later), she read the whole thing back to him. Lots of rhyming words, which makes it easier, but that's exactly where she's at.

It's so fun and so exciting to watch her take this next step, to begin to accomplish this mental milestone, to join us, the community of readers and writers! Go, Pumpkin!

P.S. on Mon 6/29: Today she wrote "monster" as "MOSTR." Pretty close!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

WW - A few from Girls' Adventure Weekend '09

(c) 2009 Ms. Huis Herself at

(I tell you, the top bunk felt almost as difficult to climb to my poor arms after rock climbing and the ropes course!)

(All of us, except poor Syl!)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

If somebody cries in the night, and I'm not there...

(c) 2009 Ms. Huis Herself at

... I tell myself the world won't end! ;) Now if Mr. Kluges can get them to believe that...

Today, I am leaving for my first ever kid-free vacation since becoming a mother. Actually, it's even my first ever night away from either girl.

Well, except if you count when I was in the hospital having Penguin. Then I was spending the nights away from Pumpkin.

But that's it.

Seriously - 4 1/2 years, approaching 5, and I'd never not slept under the same room as my child(ren).

It's going to be weird. Don't get me wrong - I'm going to enjoy not having to change diapers, help somebody with the potty, worry about what anybody's getting into, consider who will eat what for meals, manage bedtime, etc.

Stay up late if I want; sleep in late if I want...

(Do a multiple hour car trip with nobody to entertain or feed snacks except myself!)

But it's going to be odd. I fully expect to (often) think, "What IS it that I'm forgetting?" and then realize the two little parts of my mind that have been continually focused on knowing where each girl is and what she's doing are all confused... because they're not there.

They'll be at home, with their daddy, who has taken a couple of vacation days, so that _I_ can go on vacation. They'll have fun, it'll be good for them all, they'll bond with Daddy over Father's Day weekend.

It'll be a wonderful break and I'm very much looking forward to this long weekend...

... but I know by Sunday, I'll be very much looking forward to getting back home, to be with my family again! Much love to my hubby & my two sweet little girls! Good luck with your weekend together!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009

Books? Anybody?

(c) 2009 Ms. Huis Herself at

So... one of my 2009 resolutions was to get rid of 365 things. Now, I've done pretty well so far (check out the sidebar for current totals), if I do say so myself. Granted, it's helped a lot to have a new nephew to whom we can pass some stuff along, and Pumpkin's 4K teacher had a little girl, so some of the outgrown girly clothes went there, but still, it all counts!

Back a ways, I'd mentioned we'd tried to thin out our bookshelves as we painted the office & therefore had to take everything out. In the comments, it was mentioned that there are readers out there who might be interested in the books we're thinning. Well, I'm going to be getting together with a lot of MN-based women friends this weekend for GAW, which might be a good time to pass along some of those heavy, high-postage books. So, here's a list of the books in boxes in our sunroom that are looking for a home.

Please do not pass judgment on us based on some of these books - we were young OR we were foolish OR neither one of us claims them and blames the other on their presence OR the picture on the front was pretty or some other good excuse! ;)

Nonfiction (non-computerish)
  • Renovating Old Houses: Bringing New Life to Vintage Homes by George Nash (We ended up with 2 copies, I think from one of those great work sales.)
  • (taken!) Building With Stone by Charles McRaven (Again, double copy)
  • (taken!) Learn to Play the Alfred Way - Rock Guitar (Subtitled: All You Need to Know to Play with a Rock Group) (Hey, Kashka, since you didn't end up doing the soap carving, here's your change to improve those guitar skillz! ;) )
  • The Cat I.Q. Test by Melissa Miller (No, T.X. did NOT happen to score well, TYVM!)
  • The Higher Taste: A Guide to Gourmet Vegetarian Cooking and a Karma-Free Diet (Yeah, this one is... not even "different," it's weird.)
  • Babyhood by Paul Reiser (got 2ndhand - there's an inscription in the front "Dear Geordie," blah blah blah.)
  • (taken!)The Folklore of Weddings & Marriage (also from library - illustrated by Tomie de Paola!)

Nonfiction - computerish
  • MCSA Designing Security for Windows 2000 Study Guide (Exam 70-220)
  • MCSA Windows 2000 AcCcelerated Study Guide (Exam 70-240)
  • Mastering Windows NT Server 4 - 6th edition
  • Platinum Edition Using HTML 3.2 Java 1.1 and CGI
  • Java Primer Plus: Supercharging Web Applications with the Java Programming Language
  • Foundations of Visual Basic 4 for Windows 95 Programming
  • MCSE Windows 2000 Server Training Guide (Exam 70-215)


  • (taken!)The Beginning Place by Ursula K. LeGuin
  • SwordQuest: Quest for the ELF KING by Bill Fawcett (on cover it says, "suitable for use with ADVANCED DUNGEONS & DRAGONS and other role-playing games)
  • Where the Evil Dwells by Clifford D. Simak
  • (taken!)The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton (See! They aren't all SF!)
  • The Many-Colored Land (Volume 1 of The Saga of Pliocene Exile) by Julian May
  • Lake Woebegon Days by Garrison Keillor (hardcover)
  • The Riddle of the Wren by (a very young!) Charles de Lint
  • The DarkSword Trilogy Volume 1: Forging the Darksword by Margaret Weiss & Tracy Hickman
  • Beyond Black by Hilary Mantel (purchased in Ireland. An odd ghost story.)
  • Shadowrun: Never Trust an Elf by Robert N. Charrette
  • (taken!) The Little Drummer Girl by John LeCarre
  • (taken!) The Secret Pilgrim by John LeCarre
  • Islay by Douglas Bullard (from a sign language class I took in college)
  • Ben-Hur (a classic! from my old HS library post-tornado)

Ok, so there go you. Speak first and it's yours. Ones not claimed will be sent on to find some other home. I leave Thursday morning for GAW, so if you want one, comment soon.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Crazy 8s Meme

(c) 2009 Ms. Huis Herself at

The lovely and talented Mugsy over at Drive Fast. Take Chances. tagged me for this Crazy 8 meme. She also tagged our friend AllKnowingJen, so I figured I'd better hurry up and get this out before she tagged everybody else we know! :)

To do list (i.e. “the rules”):

1. Mention the person who tagged me. - check
2. Complete the list of 8’s. - check
3. Tag 8 bloggers & tell them I tagged them. - and done!

Eight things I am looking forward to:
  1. Girls' Adventure Weekend (aka GAW)
  2. Being DONE with Penguin's potty training
  3. not changing any diapers during GAW
  4. new episodes of Lost
  5. not being in charge of anyone else but myself during GAW
  6. seeing relatives I haven't seen in ages at July's family reunion
  7. turning this blankity-blank house into the beautiful home we know it can be
  8. Did I mention GAW? 'Cuz I'm looking forward to hanging out with a bunch of my friends, relaxing, doing fun & adventurous stuff, and not changing any diapers!

Eight things I did yesterday:
  1. Changed poopy diapers
  2. Washed the 6 expandable screens that can fit into our old (otherwise screenless) windows
  3. Picked up a bunch of Siberian squill seeds in the backyard
  4. Used my rubba scrubba on the upstairs rugs to dehair them
  5. Cleaned out the Blazer (Friday's Flylady job anyway) after last weekend's trip (& in preparation for Girls' Adventure Weekend next weekend!)
  6. Practiced some belly dance sword stuff for our troupe's upcoming farmers' market performances (argh! too soon! not ready!)
  7. Did short bike ride with Penguin while Mr. Kluges and Pumpkin chose & cooked frozen pizzas for supper
  8. Broke my French press carafe! Grrr!

Eight things I wish I could do:
  1. dance in public without fear
  2. look graceful while #1
  3. look/be graceful in general, dang it
  4. eat whatever I want without gaining weight
  5. finish going through/organizing the last boxes from our move. You know, the "miscellaneous" ones.
  6. win the lottery secretly so we could do all the things we want to do to this house, travel, not worry about retirement/girls' college funds, etc. without getting lots of pressure on how to spend said $$$
  7. have Trinny and Susannah come and re-wardrobe me!
  8. Fly. 'Cuz that'd be awesome.
Eight shows I watch:
  1. Lost
  2. Castle
  3. The Mentalist
  4. CSI
  5. CSI: Miami
  6. CSI: NY
  7. Um, Sid the Science Kid?
  8. And, uh, SuperWHY?

Eight favorite fruits:
  1. fresh pineapple
  2. strawberries
  3. canned mandarin oranges
  4. really good peaches
  5. perfectly ripe pears
  6. cold, sweet watermelon on a hot day
  7. kiwifruit
  8. the banana in a banana split

Eight places I’d like to travel:
  1. China (to see the Great Wall!)
  2. Egypt (for the pyramids)
  3. back to Ireland to visit friends & to show Pumpkin where she lived
  4. The Grand Canyon (never been!)
  5. One of the Disneys, with the girls when they're older
  6. back to Venice with my husband for some milestone anniversary
  7. maybe New York, but I'm a little scared...
  8. anywhere I'd win an all-expenses-paid vacation! ;)

Eight places I’ve lived:
  1. Blarney, Co. Cork, Ireland
  2. Upper Hutt, New Zealand (Hey, 3 months counts!)
  3. The Fox Valley area, Wisconsin
  4. Morris, Minnesota
  5. Benson, Minnesota
  6. Golden Valley, Minnesota
  7. St. Paul, Minnesota
  8. outside of a very, very, very small town in SW MN

People I’ve tagged (in reverse alphabetical order!):
  1. Syl at Watching Paint Dry
  2. Sexy Blonde, The at A Plague of Roses
  3. Pusher at Verb My Noun
  4. Nectarine at Newsense of Today
  5. Kittenpie at Life of 'Pie
  6. Kasha_Z at Aunt Templeton's Theme Song
  7. Jaysan at Even More Robustity
  8. Diplowhat at Undiplomatic Ravings
(Wow, 8's a lot!)

Woo-hoo! Now I feel all CraZy! :)

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Reflections While Mowing

(c) 2009 Ms. Huis Herself at

Based on tonight's mowing session, in addition to grass (both regular and crab), our lawn contains (at least)...
  • creeping charlie
  • clover, white
  • clover, red
  • regular pokey thistles
  • the thistles that are just pokey on the sides
  • the thistles that are very branchy and arm-y... and still pokey
  • catnip (in a few places, on the edges)
  • dandelions (in quantity)
  • violets
  • the weeds with the tiny yellow Q-tip looking flowers, which, upon Googling, might be black medic
  • the ones with little heart-shaped leaves and tiny pretty yellow flowers that I've just learned is common yellow oxalis aka yellow wood sorrel (As a kid we used to nibble these sometimes 'cuz they taste kind of lemon-y.)
  • something with long oval leaves that might be some sort of plantain
  • the weeds that I remember making up the majority of my babysitter Dilly's lawn where it met the driveway
  • very, very small elm trees
  • ants
  • bunny poop (that's just conjecture, but based on the number of bunnies...)

Also, on a side note, it's really easy to spend a lot of time trying to figure out weed (or plant) identification on the internet. I better go finish up my Flylady end-of-day routine!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

WW - Us with One of '09's Newest Graduates

(c) 2009 Ms. Huis Herself at

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Ah, time for another round of open letters!

(c) 2009 Ms. Huis Herself at

Dear Rabbits,

We've got a ton of hostas. Why'd you have to go and mow down one of the only ones I've transplanted to a new spot? Now it looks all off-balance and funny in that area.

More importantly, STAY THE HELL OUT OF MY GARDEN! I'm pretty sure you've been at the beans & I'm telling you now that better be the end of it!

The One Doing The Weeding, So Don't Think I Won't Notice

Dear Squirrels,

Yes, I know we've got a cool house. With recessed mortar between the bricks. Which apparently makes for excellent toe/claw holds. But I'm afraid my husband is going to have a conniption fit if he keeps seeing you scampering about on the side of his house. And if you keep it up, he's going to start trying to chuck rocks at you again, which is totally going to result in the breakage of at least one probably-from-1921 window glass. So knock it off.

The One Who Climbed Out of the Bathroom Window Yesterday and Scared the Bejeesus Out of One of You, Resulting in an Impressive-Looking Two Story Leap on Your Part

P.S. I do think it's hilarious that one of you squirrels peeked in at him through the bathroom window when he was brushing his teeth this morning though...

Dear Our Municipality,

What exactly are the regulations in regards to slingshots and attempted use upon annoying varmints?

A Law-abiding Citizen

Dear FLYlady,

I love how my house is tidier and cleaner since I started following your program. You're right - you can get a lot done in 15 minutes, routines help, watch out for Hot Spots, etc.

But all this cleaning is cutting into my blogging/posting/surfing time! :)

A Flybaby

Dear Twitter,

I love how I can just pop on and share my 140 character thoughts with the world. However, it has cut down on my expanding those thoughts into, say, an actual post.

How Many Characters Do I Have Left?

Dear Papa Jem and Damma Yori,

Thanks for hosting us this weekend, and especially for sharing your coats and such with us when the weather was 20 degrees colder than was forecast when I checked it for packing. As always, we very much appreciate the extra work & patience on your part & all the yummy food.

Your DIL

Dear Weather,

What was up with you this past weekend? Seriously, I checked the forecast, with the right zip code and everything, for packing & it said 68F and partly sunny (as of Tues). You gave us 48F (brrr!), all-day rain/drizzle, and wind gusts for Saturday's 4 hour graduation party at a park. As Penguin said (repeatedly), "Playground wet!"

Guess All That Time I Spent Choosing the Perfect Short-sleeve Shirt & Capri Outfit was Unnecessary

Dear Musings & Mutterings Readers,

Sorry I've been so absent lately. Between the end of the school year for Pumpkin, trying to keep up/get ahead with the Flylady stuff (love the results!), and a back-in-MN graduation this past (extended) weekend, I just haven't been posting. Apologies, & I'll try to start doing better.

The Author

Wednesday, June 03, 2009