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March 30, 2011


What was with yesterday and lips? My 5.5 y.o. was (for some odd reason) 'walking on my knees to get a tissue off the coffee table' while I was not in the room and managed to somehow bonk her lip with her tooth so hard on said table that she required 2 stitches. Tomorrow will bring us to the dentist to investigate her largely swollen gum - 2 days before we leave for Mexico for a week. Anyway, glad Edward is fine! Your kids slay me.

Edward's speech development sounds pretty appropriate -- most of the sounds that you mention are pretty late in the acquisition list. If you'd like to look at a typical phoneme acquisition sample, you can download one at http://members.tripod.com/Caroline_Bowen/acquisition.html.

Oh dear, glad Edward is OK, sorry to hear Patrick's still having trouble. Caroline's "Madeline" tears crack me up, and I got a good giggle out of "now with 1000% less get-a-grip."

Re: Pete's, and Edward's, precision/bemusement with physics, language (and falls), I now feel moved to post the following limerick in which, dire topic notwithstanding, I have always enjoyed the many meanings of the words ...

There once was a girl named McCall
Who jumped in a spring in the fall
'twould have been a sad thing
had she died in the spring
but she didn't, she died in the fall

(Having fallen and broken my arm quite badly this past summer, albeit in a creek rather than a spring and without jumping at all, that has been in my mind ever since. Thanks for allowing me a chance to pass it along. Perhaps it can replace Bibaldi. You, Caroline, Edward, and Patrick could set it to music and do it in rounds?)

I love the Vivaldi one. Others are:







(and there are more Beethovens)




And it's video/DVD, not audio, but perhaps they would find the *original* Fantasia not too silly?
The segments in order of appearance:
• Johann Sebastian Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor – live-action shots of an illuminated orchestra playing the piece, backed by superimposed shadows. The number segues into abstract animated patterns, lines, shapes and cloud formations.
• Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's Nutcracker Suite – select of pieces from the ballet depicts the changing of the seasons from summer to autumn to winter, with no plot. A variety of dances are presented with fairies, fish, flowers, mushrooms, and leaves, including "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy", "Chinese Dance", "Dance of the Flutes", "Arabian Dance", "Russian Dance" and "Waltz of the Flowers".
• Paul Dukas' The Sorcerer's Apprentice – based on Goethe's 1797 poem Der Zauberlehrling. Mickey Mouse, an apprentice of sorcerer Yen Sid, attempts some of his master's magic tricks before knowing how to control them.
• Igor Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring – a reinterpretation of the history of Earth is shown to select pieces of the ballet, from the planet's formation to the first living creatures, followed by the reign and extinction of the dinosaurs.
• Meet the Soundtrack – a stylized example of how sound is rendered on-screen. The soundtrack, initially a straight white line, changes into different shapes and colors based on the sounds played.
• Ludwig van Beethoven's The Pastoral Symphony – a mythical ancient Greek world of centaurs, fauns and other creatures of classical mythology. A gathering for a festival to honor Bacchus, the god of wine, is interrupted by Zeus who creates a storm and throws lightning bolts at the attendees.
• Amilcare Ponchielli's Dance of the Hours – featuring Madame Upanova and her ostriches followed by Hyacinth Hippo and her servants. The dancers of the evening are represented by Elephanchine and her bubble-blowing elephant troupe. The dancers of the night are represented by Ben Ali Gator and his troop of alligators. The finale sees all the characters dancing together until the palace collapses.
• Modest Mussorgsky's Night on Bald Mountain and Franz Schubert's Ave Maria – the devil Chernabog summons evil spirits and restless souls from their graves until driven away by the sound of an Angelus bell. The piece segues to follow a line of robed monks with lighted torches as they walk through a forest and ruins of a cathedral to Ave Maria.

unfortunate about Patrick's relapse- I hope the whatsit gets figured out very soon- and Edward's bumped yip.

I've read all three Hunger Games books, and while they are Young Adult, and while I have no doubt of Patrick's advanced reading skills... well. I'm in my 30s and I had a rough time with some of the subject material. Loved the first two books (third gets really, really dark) but I'd recommend a test-read before passing it on to anyone under the age of 15. I'm just sayin.

And by the way, you're my favorite blogger. Love your writing, and I adore the anecdotes about your brood. I make a point of reading parts of your posts to *my* Steve, who gets a kick out of your perspective too. :)

I cannot remember how long you've been on Celexa but when I first went on Lexapro I needed like ten hours of sleep a night. I was a zombie if I got less than 9. At first I was glad for the sleep since I hadn't really slept in years but then it got a bit boring and then it went away. So hang in there.

The books on tape (CD) that my 4 year old has loved since she was the twins age or younger are Arnold Lobel himself reading Frog and Toad which is pretty marvelous, and the Frances books. She has also liked Little Bear but the reader is sort of ghastly and dirgey. I think the Hunger Games might be a little much for Patrick. They were a little much for me, actually. He might like Susan Cooper's Dark is Rising (I think Audible has it for download).

I agree that the Hunger Games series, while good, is incredibly violent and I'd only recommended it for kids 13 and up (at least). Patrick might like the Circle of Magic series by Tamora Pierce -- especially with the magical sewing. Hope you get some answers and he feels better soon!

Have you tried the Percy Jackson series?

I recommend as much as possible by Full Cast Audio - it's run by Bruce Coville, or was a number of years ago, and Bruce writes some hilarious books for middle grades. But for instance, all of Tamora Pierce's books have FCA recordings, and those are good and fun and serious without being OMG heavy like Hunger Games was.

Oh, sorry, and this video/music only film of Peter and the Wolf got good reviews. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_and_the_Wolf_%28film%29
I'm totally classical, although of course love Motown, Beatles, Al Greene, Carole King, etc. You might consider music lessons for the twinks. Sounds like somethANG...
I would also recommend for the twinks anything by Scarlatti, also The Fountains of Rome and the Pines of Rome by Respighi, the Gardens of Spain, most of Debussy -- The Goldfish, etc., and Ravel.

The Bibaldi I loved as a kid was not music with a story at the end but an actually really pretty quite good story, also fictionalized of course, and I think it would wear better with a grownup, since it is more sophisticated and longer (by the sounds of it) than what you are working with.

Anyway, it is called "Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery."

Chiming in with a second recommendation for Tamara Pierce. One of my 5th grade students told me about her, and now I've read everything she's written. Also love HG, but not for young kids regardless of their brilliance. Has Terry Pratchett come up yet?

Have you checked out http://www.yourchildtalking.com/ written by the delightful Lori of In Pusuit of Martha Points? She was posting about L and R sounds just recently.

For audiobooks, how about Neil Gaiman? (I can't recall whether you've already done The Graveyard Book, but if not, I'd recommend that for Patrick but maybe not the littles.) The Neil Gaiman audio collection has four of his stories (read by Gaiman himself) which are appropriate for the twins but which Patrick might also get a kick out of. I've only read The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish and Wolves in the Walls, but I liked them both. Hm, at least, I think the twins are old enough for them. Has anybody else experienced these?

(I'll be waiting with bated breath for Patrick's test results. Poor kiddo.)

For Caroline and Edward I'd try Mr. Popper's Penguins and the Hank the Cowdog series. http://www.hankthecowdog.com/

Another good book to get ideas from is "1001 children's books you must read before you grow up".

I still say you should give Terry Pratchett's "Wee Free Men" a whirl. Patrick at least would love Pratchett's wicked sense of humor. And I think Cahoyine would love the frying pan scene. (Though I would hope it would not inspire her to emulation. Er, on sescond thought, maybe that one should be just for Patrick!) Ditto what someone already said about Neil Gaiman's "Graveyard Book." Although not for the littles. And what about "The Hobbit"? They might *all* love that one! My dad read it to me first when I was five, and it has remained a lifelong favorite for me.

I hope Patrick's upcoming CT sheds new light on what's going on. Bless that poor kid's heart. Good luck with everything.

The entire How to Train Your Dragon series. Great books and absolutely wonderful audio books. Recommend them very highly for the entire family.

The recent movie is nothing like the books and is terrible in comparison.

I'm going to be the 4th to say Tamora Pierce & the second to say Full Cast Audio.

You may also want to look at some of the old time radio collections out there. My father would play those in the basement while he worked and I could listen to them for hours.

Additionally, if you're going to have multiple children in a single vehicle on a long road trip, you might want to invest in headphones and players for each. This doesn't mean that they get to wear them 24/7, but it might be nice to give Patrick (and you) a break from the twins' choices and vice versa.

Re books: I think The Hunger Games is for 11+, personally...

Would recommend the TimeRiders series,and I second the Terry Pratchett recommendation (I really like the Johnny Maxwell series)
-The Eagle of the Ninth, by Rosemary Sutcliff
-anything by Ali Sparks
- Tom's Midnight Garden, by Philippa Pearce
-Skulduggery Pleasant series (covers vile, but well written).

I could go on all day...!

A couple of random things: for listening (and watching) have you ventured into the School House Rock vignettes? We just rediscovered them for my 3 y.o and 5 y.o. and we sing and dance with them. ("Conjunction, Junction, what's your function?")

You could be in "Rockin the Paradise" car ride hell like I am. Nothing like Styx over and over (and over and over). And only the one song. I'm trying to hook them on "Renegade" or "I'm OK" or "Blue Collar Man", but to no avail. I've thanked my husband profusely for introducing them to Styx. Not.

All the advanced readers with "I give up, read what you want because we've run out of options" parents in our school's fourth grade read the Hunger Games and its sequels last fall. I'm not saying that ALL of the advanced readers read them, because some parents held the line, but there was a high percentage of surrender.

None of my three fourth-graders seemed particularly disturbed by any of the violence, although I do think they're missing half the themes (possibly because the only reality TV show we watch is Amazing Race and they've never seen the E! channel -- teenagers are going to be more alert to the parallels than kids still living ... I was going to type more sheltered lives but I let them read The Hunger Games at age 10, so never mind).

There have been these moments this spring when the kids regale us with dinner by comparing gruesome deaths in the Hunger Games versus gruesome deaths in Alex Rider. That's fun.

Alex Rider is very popular with advanced readers in Primary Five in Scotland, by the way, which is fourth grade in the US.

Then again, all of a sudden half the kids are entering puberty, so it's possible that the line between third grade and fourth grade is brighter than it seemed last summer.

I've totally lost track of these long book lists you've collected, but How to Train Your Dragon and its sequels is excellent; if you haven't listened to The Willoughbys on audio book yet you are missing out because it's the perfect marriage of text and narrator (don't skip the performance of the glossary); the little people might enjoy Toys Go Out on audio book although really you want the pictures on that one (and please skip the sequel, it destroys its own premise); there are two Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place books now, although they suffer from lots of action but very little plot advancement (they're fun for adults with a passing knowledge of Gothic romance, and it appears that there are going to be kid-friendly werewolves); and yes, the audio versions of the Frog and Toad books are excellent.

The BBC radio drama of Lord of the Rings, while it does the usual violence to the text (okay, that depends on your opinion of Tom Bombadil) is excellent for long car rides, you know. Only some stubborn children will decide they don't need to read the books, and that might actually be a crime.

For C & E ... I COULD NOT STAND Junie B. Jones in book format, but my DD and I really liked the audio books. I think the narrator does a great job. Also, maybe the Ramona books? (All available on Audible.)

Hi Julia, my name is Alice and I love reading your blog. Kym Lardner is a firm favorite with kids of all ages in Australia. Here is a link if you'd like to check him out.http://www.summerreadingclub.slq.qld.gov.au/archive/src08_09/listen_to_kym_lardner

Have you tried the Starcatcher books by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson? Ridley Pearson also did the Kingdom Keeper books which are on audio. The Starcatcher books are really good audio editions (well, I think I only have the first one, but it is good, I think done by the same guy who did the Harry Potter ones?). I am less impressed with the first Kingdom Keeper audio (the music bothered me, even though it was rare) but I'd say still worth listening to.

His speech sounds are absolutely age appropriate. Those are some of the last sounds to develop, particularly the blends. ASHA (American speech/language/hearing association - the governing body for SLPs) has some great info on their website.

Gregor the Overlander. Same author as Hunger Games, more age appropriate. Though like the Hunger Games, gets a lot more violent as it goes along, ESP by Book 4

I vetted Hunger Games and only just barely let my 11 year old read them -- and I cut her off before the third book, and gave her an unsatisfying summary instead. They are...dark. And disturbing. And they involve lots of sympathetic characters -- often children -- dying in some inventive and fairly gruesome ways. The prose lingers on their deaths eloquently in some cases. The books are excellent and thought provoking, but they have the potential to be the stuff of nightmares in the now and therapy in the future.

I vote for The Dark is Rising. Or Fablehaven. Both inventive and thought-provoking, but (with deliberate homage) now with 1000% less oh-my-god-protect-the-children.

So sorry about Edward's lip (although it sounds as though he's decided that it was worth it for the attention, stickers, and making-Caroline-jealous factor) and about Patrick's relapse. Hoping you get some answers from the ENT very soon.

As for books, I second (third, fourth) the recommendation to hold off on the Hunger Games. Fablehaven is wonderful (and I just realized that my youngest son -- currently obsessed with mythology -- would LOVE them. If I can pry them out of his older sister's hands). Ramona the Pest is great, but so are other Beverly Cleary series (Henry Huggins, Ralph the Mouse).

Patrick might also enjoy Blue Balliet's "Chasing Vermeer" and the subsequent books in the series: "The Wright Three" and "The Calder Game".

Dark is Rising!!! Great series!!!

Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins is a better option from her for the under 13 set than the Hunger Games. I enjoyed the Hunger Games series, but it is quite violent. Rick Riordan has two new series on the shelves -- The Last Hero (next iteration of Camp HalfBlood adventures) and The Red Pyramid (Egyptian mythology -- audio book is very entertaining). My son's librarian recommended Haddox's Missing/Gone (something like that) series and also the Alex Rider books (Anthony Horowitz).
We recently read Meghan Whalen Turner's The Thief series which was AMAZING.

Another vote for "Peter and the Wolf" and "Beethoven's Wig." BTW the CD has two versions of each piece, one with silly lyrics and the other without. My kids are 9 and 10 and still enjoy it. As for audiobooks, since Caroline likes Stuart Little, how 'bout more E.B. White -- "Charlotte's Web" if you think she can survive the demise of the female lead at the end. Also, see if any of the Roald Dahl books for kids are on tape -- Willy Wonka, Esio Trot, Matilda, etc.

I agree with the opinions above about The Hunger Games being a little too disturbing for kids. My 10 yr old is mad that I won't let her read them yet, but I know how she would have nightmares, creeped out by its premise that adults would have children kill each other for their own entertainment.

Gotta put in another recommendation for Brandon Mull -- his book, The Candy Shop War, and the series Fablehaven are fabulous.

They are more appropriate for Patrick at this point, but my entire family, parents included, loved these books and everyone fought for the copy to read it first. Had to go out and buy a double to avoid blows!!

Can't recommend Gregor the Overlander enough. I agree that Hunger Games is still a bit too intense.

As for the Celexa, are you taking it in the morning or at night? If you're already taking it at night, then I am of no help, but if you're taking it in the morning, switching to bedtime might help.

The old time radio mention reminded me of The Cinnamon Bear series, which I loved as a child. Might be still available somewhere.

Edward sounds adorable (and appropriate) to me - I'd wait until his teacher mentions it.

Love that you are rooting for my Kentucky Wildcats! Go Big Blue!!!

Agree strongly that The Hunger Games is too intense and violent (very descriptive of the violence) for now. We're holding off till middle school and I'd be happy to hold off till longer (the later books will wait a year or two more.

Caroline is hilarious in wanting Stuart to disappear back down the drain. I bet she would like "The Mysterious Howling," which is the first book of The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place. It is on CD, and you and Patrick will get the humor if the twins don't, but the action seems perfect for them (children who were raised by wolves who now are being civilized by a Jane Eyre type, but with humor that Jane lacked). The children still howl parts of their words but are expected to learn Latin and proper behavior.

Also the Clementine books, all of them, seem very well suited to Caroline, and likely Edward would also enjoy. More books for the twins would include the Ivy and Bean books; the Edward Eager books, especially Half Magic and Seven-Day Magic; The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, by Joan Aiken (the twins are a bit young for it but still might enjoy; Patrick would like it, I think, and definitely the sequel, Black Hearts in Battersea); maybe the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books; the Ramona books and Henry Huggins books, which are narrated by Stockard Channing and Neil Patrick Harris respectively. Has Patrick read The Fellowship of The Ring? seems obvious but maybe not. I've been reading it with my kiddo, and there are a few places where I say "and blah blah blah descriptions of hills for a couple of paragraphs," but otherwise he enjoyed it very much. (Also I could not refrain from making fun of Boromir each time he spoke. A recording presumably will be able to avoid that.)

My migraines definitely can come on suddenly, leaving me nauseated, dizzy, and in need of pain relief and bed. Is he light-sensitive or sound-sensitive when he gets the headaches? That would be a major tip-off.

Poor Edwards' yip that he bumped when he falled. How I love that he said he was "beeding ah ovah the pace." Not that it happened, just that he said it. Glad it's feeling better.

Ramona, read by Stockard Channing, and Ralph S. Mouse, read by BD Wong.

Also, Patrick might be ready for the Hatchet series (Gary Paulsen). And there's a blog that I go to All. The. Time. for help w/ book recommendations--it's by a friend of Alice/Finslippy, and it's awesome. http://www.thediamondinthewindow.com/. She has categories that may be helpful, too--boys, heavy readers, etc. And this library at UW-Madison also has great booklists: http://bit.ly/fIjB5q. (Has he read "A Wrinkle in Time"? He might just be ready for it...)

Are you taking the Celexa in the morning or at night? I find it helpful to take my meds before bedtime when sleepiness is more convenient.

Someone beat me to it with Beethovan's Wig and Beethovan Lives Upstairs.

Can I suggest Ben and Me?

I absolutely do not mean this insultingly (sorry what a way to start a comment) but your unusual annecdotes that you share about your youth/early adulthood (i.e. Pete) give me a lot of hope. My oldest child is 11 and a bit, hmmmm, how to put this, difficult. But I can see that there are people who take a circuitous route to mostly normal adulthood. I really have no idea where she's headed, and at 11 it's early to tell, but somehow reading about your life makes me feel hopeful. Thanks for that.

Have you done the Phillip Pullman books? It's a bit obvious, you probably have... The Golden Compass, The Subtle Knife, The Amber Spyglass.

My kids also love the Vivaldi "Ring of Mystery" story! I see that someone already suggested the other CDs in the Classical Kids series. I would recommend "Tchaikovsky Discovers America" as a next one to try. My youngest loves that one even more than the Vivaldi one and it inspired us to take a trip to see the "Statue of Livery" (as he called it--picture a 3-year-old emerging from the subway, spying the statue for the first time, and running across the park screaming, "The Statue of Livery!" She's beautiful! ....She's green!").
Also, if they really dig classical music the Beethoven's Wig CDs are both great and maddening. I definitely have a love/hate relationship with them. :)

See if you can find the original BBC Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy radio programs. They were on as a serial in the mornings while I got ready for school when I was in middle school (I think) and the whole family loved it. I then went on to read the books; Patrick will probably love them in a year or two.

My 9 year old absolutely loves Brandon Mull and wholeheartedly recommends the Fablehaven series. Also The Candy Shop Wars. I haven't heard them on audio, though, so I can't speak to that but he loved the books. He would also recommend the Rick Riordan stuff - Percy Jackson, etc.

Oh dear god, I love you and your kids and your writing. You are a bright spot in my day, Julia. Thank you.

For earlier ages, one of the best we've encountered is CDs of the Mercy Watson collection (Kate DiCamillo). My daughter also very much enjoyed "Cheaper by the Dozen" recently (and so did I!).

and I totally agree with the poster above about the Ramona books read by Stockard Channing. I did think she was giving away the tooth fairy myth in one, but she handled it quite deftly and no one is the wiser yet.

There's a series of books about Dragons by Christopher Paolini that's pretty good. He wrote the first one at 18 and published through his parents' small company and it was later picked up by a larger one, re-edited and marketed on a much larger scale. Still, cool that the kid was published at 18. The fourth book is about to come out. I've enjoyed them a lot.

My kids were both late talkers, and I remember working with my son between ages 3 & 4 to get his N, TH, and L sounds working properly. We worked hard and got him doing them, then his teacher said several others in class had the same issue. I guess those front of the mouth, teeth & tongue sounds are hardest for kids to articulate. I remember practicing the sounds over and over again by themselves, and then having to reteach him some of his words because he had learned them with easier consonants and simply didn't know which words needed which sounds. Nathan was 'Ma-fun', yellow was 'ye-yow.' Lots of practice and it worked itself out.

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