Sunday, January 25, 2015

Bard on the Brain

Back in September, when our children's teachers were on strike, and I was trying to figure out what to do to keep up their education, the thought crossed my mind that I should teach them something that I know.  After all, what is the good of having a mother with a master's in English if she never teaches you anything about literature?
The obvious choice was to teach them something about Shakespeare--the most well-known and often-quoted master of the English language.  If you know Shakespeare, people think you know English literature, right?
When I brought this up with my little ones, I was met with less enthusiasm that I'd expected. 
We were sitting outside one warm sunny day in early September, and I was trying to get them to memorize "Shall I Compare Thee to a Summer's Day," aka sonnet #18.
One of my favorite English professors at BYU had entered his classroom on the first day of school, quoting this poem and motioning for us to repeat the lines.  I thought I'd use this same tactic with my children . . . only instead of repeating the words they groaned and complained. 
Janae was particularly vocal about not wanting to learn anything Shakespeare--and started making jokes about "shaking beer," getting Ben and Alaina laughing hysterically and jumping around rowdily for at least the next half hour.
I kept trying, but each attempt was met with more raucous humor.
You can understand, then, why I was shocked a few weeks later when Janae started reciting lines of Shakespearean sonnet to me--first just the first few, then more and more until she pretty much knew the whole poem.
At that point I offered her a dollar if she could recite it perfectly, and within a few hours she had perfected the entire fourteen lines.
Another "home school English lesson" involved watching the movie of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility.  Janae noticed that a Shakespearean sonnet was quoted--#116: "Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit impediments. . . "
This time Janae asked for my Riverside Shakespeare, looked up the sonnets, and started memorizing on her own.
Now, several months later--with the kids in regular school and busy with their various activities (you know, singing songs from Frozen, etc.), you might think our adventures in Shakespeare are just a distant memory, but NO! 
In fact, lately the only words to describe Janae's interest in Shakespeare are "complete obsession."
Janae asked if we could read Hamlet--which we are currently doing.  (I ordered several children's versions of Shakespeare from the library--and we are enjoying those--but Janae also wants to hear the actual play.) 
Janae walks around holding the Riverside anthology--she teaches poems to Alaina and corrects her pronunciation.  We sometimes even have heated discussions at dinner about words and meanings found in the sonnets Janae knows. 
Janae regularly quotes lines such as, "The play's the thing" and "to be or not to be?" and talks about Hamlet, Ophelia, Horatio, and Laertes as though they were old friends.
We are even planning to see a Shakespearean play in the summer.
Dream come true, for this former English teacher? 
Yes, I think so :)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

The Big ONE

Despite growing up in a house full of choking hazards,
our little Eric has made it through his first year :)
He woke up pretty happy on the big day (Friday)
but spent most of his time running errands with Mommy,
getting ready for the NEXT big day, when we would have his party!
Saturday morning Eric started off with presents from his family (we got him a fire engine that shoots balls and a book called Tails),
then welcomed his favorite baby friend
and most of the rest of his cousins,

to celebrate turning ONE!
We made a Cheerio lion cake
(Eric discovered pretzels and wanted to eat nothing else the rest of the afternoon!) 
Then opened some of the most fun gifts imaginable for a little boy turning one--balls, rolling cars with a ramp, a bucket of shapes to sort, and--clothes (including two Batman T-shirts!). 

We spent the rest of the evening playing and visiting--then finally napping.

I'm so glad we could celebrate having this wonderful little guy in our family.