Claire Writes! – ‘Baby Frederico and the New Teacher’

One day Baby Frederico’s Papa Frita decided to become a first grade teacher. Baby Frederico was very excited for this. Mostly because he was a first grader himself and he couldn’t wait to have his very own Papa as his teacher!

One night, Papa Frita was showing Mama Mia pictures of his brand new classroom. He said, “I am so excited! It’s like my own special world!” Baby Frederico smiled to himself. He couldn’t wait to be a part of this new special world!

The next day, one of Mama Mia’s friends, Mrs.B the Bee, who also used to be a first grade teacher, buzzed on over and told the family they could come shop for school things in her attic. Baby Frederico couldn’t wait! He was going to get to help pick out everything that would be in his classroom!

Shortly after, Mama, Papa, and Baby all went over to Mrs.B’s hive. As they made the long trek up the stairs to the attic, Baby Frederico’s anticipation grew. He was just so excited! When Mrs.B opened the attic door, Baby Frederico could not believe his eyes. There was every sort of game, book, and Velcro that you could ever imagine! And yes, I did say Velcro! There was even a whole tub of Velcro just sitting there waiting for them! There was EVERYTHING!

After the family cleared out the attic and thanked Mrs.B, they all went home and opened up the boxes.

As Baby Frederico dug through a box, he told his Papa, ” Papa, I am so happy you get to be my teacher this year! It’s gonna be the bestest year ever!”

Mama Mia and Papa Frita exchanged a confused glance.

“What do you mean Baby? Don’t you remember?” Said Mama Mia.

Baby Frederico also made a confused look, “Remember what?”

Papa Frita sighed, “Baby Frederico, you’ve already been a first grader.”

Baby Frederico laughed, “Yes! I know THAT! I AM a first grader!”

Papa Frita sighed again, “No, Baby. You WERE a first grader. Now you’re a second grader. I’m sorry. That’s just how it works!”

All of a sudden, Baby Frederico felt tears well up in his little iguana eyes.

“But Papa, ” he cried, “I thought I was going to spend every day with you!”

Papa Frita gave him a big papa iguana hug and said, “Oh my silly little iguana, I will get to spend every day with you! I might be a first grade teacher, but I’ll be a first grade teacher at your school!”

Baby Frederico sat up with surprise. He didn’t even think about that!

He smiled, “Ya’ know what Papa? I love that you’re a teacher, but I REALLY love that you’re my Papa.”

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“A Joke a Minute!” Thursday Stories with Baby Frederico!

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*Every Thursday we introduce you to another quick bedtime story about our family’s favorite resident reptile – Baby Frederico. His backstory can be found here.  Enjoy!

 

Baby Frederico loves his Momma Mia and Papá Frita, his buddy Grenelda the Grasshopper, blue crayons, popcorn and…writing mysteries.  Here is his story:

Sometimes Baby Frederico just needs a good joke or two (or four) to get him through the week, and this was one of those weeks!  So much testing at school and so many piano lesson practices that the best medicine for a tired brain is a little something to make a face smile and a voice laugh.  Here are his favorites for the week:

- What do you call a pig who does karate? A pork chop!

- Why was the man running around his bed? He wanted to catch up on his sleep!

- How did the barber win the race? He knew a short cut!

- What did zero say to eight? Nice belt!-

Claire Speaks: Hometown Celebrities

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I am always grateful when our 14-year old agrees to be the guest writer for our blog. Here is what’s on her heart this week:

Who are your favorite celebrities? I know I can think of Tom Hiddleston, Fred Astaire, Bill Gaither, Rod Stewart, Chris Evans, Barry Manilow, Donny Osmond, Michael Jackson – just to name a few. But did you ever think of celebrities as being the people you speak to every single day?

Yes! I know it sounds crazy, but you go to school with celebrities. You might even live with some right in your very own home! No, no, no, I don’t mean that Channing Tatum is your brother or something – but think about this, who are those people in your life that have a positive influence on you and just make you smile by the seemingly simple things they do all the time.

These are your Hometown Celebrities and mine just so happen to be two of my very greatest friends on earth.

My first example is my astonishing Allison. Although she will often shy away from telling you this, she is the most amazing vocalist and actress I have ever witnessed on stage. She is very humble but is quick to compliment you and tell you how amazing you are anytime you need it. She is truly a celebrity in my eyes because of these traits.

Another great example is my spectacular Sean. He is a celebrity to me for a number of reasons. Not only is he just a wonderful person, Sean has some pretty amazing talents that are different from anyone else I’ve ever met. He is on his way to getting his pilot’s license, is an excellent Irish dancer, and is the most outstanding writer in our school. He is also always very gentlemanly and never leaves a moment without filling it with laughter or a smile first.

I could really go on forever, listing out my real celebrities. The countless pastors, family members, teachers, and friends who have filled my life with happiness and song. But now I must let you go and discover your own heroes, so I will leave you with this thought: Do not be swayed by what the world tells you about celebrities and fame. It often says ‘You must live in this certain place’, ‘You must look like this’, and ‘You must do these things’ to acquire those titles. But I have a secret for you: that’s just not true!

You can be a celebrity just by being kind and a good example right in your town, school, and home. You don’t even need a special talent! You will always be admired by someone in the world if you are yourself and not afraid to be it. So look around! Find your celebrities and tell them that they’ve made a difference in your life. You’ll soon find that sometimes, Hollywood can be just around the corner.

Book Ears

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We listened to a book on the way to school today.  We have been doing this with the girls since they were all very little and we love it.  I remember the days in which we would visit our local and wonderful library and load up with cassette tapes (and later, CDs) whenever we were starting a long car trip or just needing something to get their minds off of what was expected to be a difficult day (and sometimes a week) at school.

Today it was with my 14 year-old and our selection was the first couple of chapters in C.S. Lewis’ classic, The Screwtape Letters.  If you haven’t yet read this one, it is a fascinating what-if story and this particular audio version stars Andy Serkis, who has played Gollum so well through The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit epics at the movie theater.  He is masterful in this book role, as well.

Looking back, we have listened to such books as Chocolate Fever, Bud Not Buddy, Love Ruby Lavender, Mr. Popper’s Penguins, Junie B. Jones, The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, The Spiderwick Chronicles, Holes, Because of Winn Dixie, A Cricket in Times Square, Charlotte’s Web, The War of the Worlds, and Superfudge.

As the girls moved through a school year, it was so often settling to them on the drive to school to listen to these whimsical and often very funny stories read so well to them.  Many included sound effects and cast members, just like an old radio drama.  Others were a single voice using incredible talent in dialogue and character to bring the words of these wonderful authors to life right inside our car.

Books work their magic as few other things in life are able to do.  Whether by turning the page or turning up the volume, they linger somewhere inside us and they are ours.

P.S. Speaking of audiobooks, I ran across this ad campaign from a couple of years ago that was done by Penguin for classics such as Julia’s favorite, The Wizard of Oz.  There a few more to see when you click on the picture below:

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‘A Friend In Need’ – Thursday Stories with Baby Frederico

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*Every Thursday we introduce you to another quick bedtime story about our family’s favorite resident reptile – Baby Frederico. His backstory can be found here.  Enjoy!

 

Baby Frederico loves his Momma Mia and Papá Frita, his buddy Grenelda the Grasshopper, blue crayons, popcorn and…’Good Luck Charlie!’  Here is his story:

It was Friday morning and Baby Frederico was shivering as he stood at the bus stop waiting for his best buddy Grenelda the Grasshopper and the school bus.  The weather was cold and snowy, but not cold and snowy enough to close school and Baby Frederico was disappointed.  He knew that it would only take Grenelda and her funny stories to make him feel better.  Why was she late this morning?  If she didn’t arrive soon, the bus would come and leave without her and she might have to miss school.

Baby Frederico couldn’t stand the thought of it.  He was in the Third Grade and he didn’t have too many good friends to sit with at lunch or play with at recess.  Grenelda was his best buddy and she was great at it.  She knew just what he was thinking and laughed at the same things that he did and, when math was too hard or he didn’t do well on a geography map test, Grenelda was always there to help.  She was especially good at math and knew where every continent in the world was without even looking at a map anymore!  She was also the happiest friend he knew and she enjoyed reading and running and playing music and making up stories, just like he did.  No wonder they were friends…and no wonder Baby Frederico was worried that she was not going to get to the bus stop in time to make it to school.

Suddenly, there was the big yellow bus coming to a stop in front of him, and Baby Frederico could not see Grenelda anywhere.  When he climbed up the steps to look for a seat on the bus, his favorite Bus Driver smiled his usual great, big toothy smile and said, “Baby Frederico!  How are you doing on this bright and sunny day” (which he said even when it was not a bright and sunny day)?

“Not very well,” Baby Frederico grumped.  “Grenelda didn’t make it this morning so I am going to have to sit all by myself.  I’ll have to eat lunch by myself and play at recess by myself.  Why don’t you just take me home instead…”

The Bus Driver smiled and said, “I have just the solution to your problem my little green friend!”

With that, he looked in the long mirror above him and motioned to someone in the seat behind him.  It was a little green frog and he smiled timidly as the happy Bus Driver introduced him to Baby Frederico.  He said, “Baby Frederico let me introduce you to your new friend Noah.  This is his very first day to ride in a school bus and his very first day at our school.”

The Bus Driver turned to Noah and said, “Baby Frederico is something else.  He knows which seats are the softest and which windows are the easiest to open on my school bus, and he even knows all the shortcuts through the hallways and how to open just about any lock on a locker!”  He laughed as he pulled the big yellow school bus back onto the road.

Baby Frederico sat down beside Noah and introduced himself.  They talked and discovered all kinds of friend things about each other.  They both liked Avengers comic books and they were both in the third grade and they both even liked being green.  Baby Frederico thought to himself, “Maybe this day won’t be so bad after all.”

And guess what….he was right.

 

The Family That Flips Together…

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Snow days out of school and work allow all kinds of things to happen at home. Monday was definitely one of those days!

Our youngest was up earlier than usual for a day off and so she piled into bed and covered up between us. She talked with me about the snow outside, the icicles hanging from the roof over the back porch, when we would be sledding today, what time I wanted to get up, and, finally, if she could be totally in charge of making pancakes.

We agreed to that and we were off to the kitchen in no time. She even coined a new phrase to commemorate her hard work at the griddle – “chips and flips.” The “chips” stand for the mountainous volume of chocolate chips she and her sister have come to love in their pancakes; the “flips” stand for how much she has grown up in this past year to be able to now successfully flip a pancake to cook on both sides (not an easy task!).

There is a favorite book about home life by Robert Wolgemuth entitled The Most Important Place on Earth. In it he writes about all the ways in which parents can build a strong family. He says, “We thought we were [making pancakes]; we were really doing what families have done for centuries: working together, laughing together, and learning to love each other in the process.”

It makes me stop and think harder about the little things, the chores, the meals of our sometimes ho-hum life at home. It’s even the chips and flips that are bringing us together. The life of a family is lived every day of the week…snow days, too.

P.S. Here are a few of our favorite children’s books about pancakes…Pancakes, Pancakes! by Eric Carle, Pancakes for Breakfast by Tomie dePaola, and If You Give a Pig a Pancake by Laura Numeroff.

The Book of Equilibrium

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In a course on family and teacher relationships that I am teaching at our local university this semester, we spend a lot of time talking about the need for equilibrium in the children’s classroom. I often think to myself, if one word could sum up a particular course, what would it be? For this course, the word is equilibrium.

There are too many children living in turmoil – disequilibrium – for all kinds of reasons and in all kinds of ways.

One out of 50—or about 1.5 million—American children are homeless each year, according to a 2009 study by the National Center on Family Homelessness.

On any given day – I said day – there are approximately 400,000 children in out-of-home foster care in the United States; annually about 650,000 children spent some time in out-of-home foster care in the United States. Children entering foster care remain there on average for nearly two years.

It is reported that more than 6 million children in the U.S. are referred annually to Child Protective Services, while some 3 million children are investigated for maltreatment and more than a half million of those children…I said children.. are determined to be victims of abuse or neglect.

Most all of these children in these and other stressful situations also go…to school.

Very often, the one and only place of peace is in the classroom of these children’s schools. That is why teachers can and should provide this priceless commodity – equilibrium – in a world so often full of disequilibrium. We often talk in my classroom about the fact that we can change very little in a child’s home and world and television screen outside the walls of their schools, but we can control the world that exists inside their classroom.

I am so proud to see so many young educators entering the field today who truly see that the needs of young students and their families are more profound than ever before…and that they find that challenge so compelling and important. Neither money or fame mean a thing to many of them. They just want to know one thing, “How can I help them?”

Education in America simply is more than high scores and a catering to reach only a certain population of students. We are not teaching robots nor are we teaching people to be robots. We must teach to reach them all. Every student and every family – and every teacher – deserves no less.

P.S. A few great books on the subject of teaching that will make you want to teach: The Courage to Teach by Parker Palmer, The Hurried Child by David Elkind, and Once Upon An Ordinary School Day by Colin McNaughton.

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