Sunday, October 28, 2007

Counting Out His Money

On the walk home from Sunday brunch, Aleks tells Aunt Natty all the toys she needs to buy him. In trying to discourage this as impolite, I remind him that Natty doesn't have any money, but he does and if he saves up his money, he can buy the toys he wants for himself. He says he wants an Optimus Prime transformer. We tell him he has to count his money to see how much he has, then look online to see how much one costs, then we can go to the store and buy one. When we get home, we begin counting out the money.

First we dump out all his money and divide it into piles of different kinds of coins. Then Natty has Aleks count small stacks of coins. They start with stacks of four quarters, then stacks of five nickels. Then stacks of ten pennies. Aleks mostly has pennies and this is where the counting starts to be more than just counting. Over and over he counts to ten.

At one point, he stops at 9 and asks, "Why is 9 three 3s?" My jaw drops. I explain that this is addition and multiplication - that once you know all the numbers, there are easier ways of counting, mainly "counting by." I explain that you can count by 1s - 1, 2, 3, 4, 5... You can count by 2s - 2, 4, 6, 8... You can count by 10s - 10, 20, 30, 40, 50... And you can count by 3s - 3, 6, 9, 12, 15 - and this is how we know three 3s are 9. He finishes counting to 10 and starts over with more pennies. A moment later he asks, "Why is 4 two 2s?" I reiterate the counting by.

When they get to stacks of 10 dimes, Natty has Aleks try to count above the highest he can count normally - 13 - by explaining how the teens and twenties and so on work. He seems to get, if only momentarily, the concept of putting "twenty" or "thirty" in front of the lesser numbers. It was a big day for numbers for him. After all that counting, he forgot about Optimus Prime and decided to watch Harry Potter instead.
Amidst all the numbering, Bastian alternately tried to steal the money and spent time taking dimes in and out of Aleks' money jar (which still smells of pasta sauce, by the way).

Harry Potter Fanaticism

In all honesty, the Harry Potter Fever that grips our house is completely Mommy's doing and obsession. That said, the children bear it, and sometimes have fun. We have been listening to the books on tape since this summer and are now listening to book 4, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

For Halloween, we decided on a Harry Potter theme and a much smaller Halloween gathering than in previous years. Initially, we invited only 3 of our closest friends and their families, but the gathering grew in the days leading up to it, much to our enjoyment. Mommy went temporarily insane with the details.

First, everyone was sorted. Each would take a turn sitting on the stool, having the Sorting Hat placed on their heads, and picking a house from the pumpkin bag.
The choices were badges I'd made, to aid in determining House Points for trivia.
There were four banners hung about the house. Slytherin was in Aleks' room:

Ravenclaw was Mama & Papa's bedroom:

Hufflepuff was, of course, by the kitchen:

And Gryffindor got a place of prominence in the dining room. Seated here are our upmoststairs neighbor, Jo, and next door neighbor, Chris, dressed as a witch and a Montrose Magpies quidditch captain, respectively.

Here is Harry Potter, aka Brad from next door, who boasts a real lightning bolt scar in the center of his forehead. Aleks insists he was Goyle, but the blond hair really suggests a young Master Malfoy.
This is him shouting, "Expelliarmus!" one of three spells he knows. The first spell he ever remembered was unfortunately the unforgivable killing curse, Avada Kedavra. He really belongs to the dark side.

Aleks insisted that we get him a Monster Book of Monsters to go with his costume. Mostly it spends its time attacking people, who in turn attempt to stroke its spine to calm it in order for use as a book.
This is the beautiful Dobby costume I made that Bastian refused to wear.
This is our lovely new friend, Heather, ("HQ"), dressed as a Slytherin student. Heather is a die-hard Harry Potter fan who was at JK Rowling's reading at Carnegie Hall when she announced the juicy info on Dumbledore's sexuality.
Mama, dressed as Professor Trelawney. Everyone knew immediately who I was.
This is Joy as Luna Lovegood, Danielle as Fleur Delacour, and Barbara as Madame Maxime.

Here's Lavinia as "Hermione Cat," which is when Hermione turned into a cat via the Polyjuice Potion in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and Anna, dressed as Bellatrix Lestrange.

Aunt Natty, dressed as Luna Lovegood, eating cockroach clutsters:
Heather dressed as Ron, complete with knapsack, set for hiding in the woods in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Dan as a member of the Weird Sisters.
Papa as Godric Gryffindor:

The bathroom was done up to resemble the prefects' bathroom on the fifth floor of Hogwarts, complete with Moaning Myrtle and mermaid painting.

There were lots of games and activities available, including making a Charms bracelet, with letter beads and a list of spells.
On the left, "Expelliarmus!" and on the right, "Crucio!"
Our plants were labeled with canon-appropriate botanical tags. Here, Venomous Tentacula:
We had wands available for those who came without them at Ollivander's Wand Shop:
Care of Magical Creatures offered Pygmy Puffs from Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes:
There were lots of sweets available at Honeydukes:
In addition to Chocolate Frogs and Blood Pops, we had Bertie Bott's Every Flavor Beans, Cockroach Clusters, Cauldron Cakes, and Jelly Slugs.We had a rousing game of trivia for House Points:
Hufflpuff won:Gryffindor was 2nd. Slytherin came in 3rd. And Ravenclaw was in 4th place.
For the House Cup, bookmarks were awarded to all the kids, and a poster and two books about the world of Harry Potter were given to top scoring families.
More plants with their labels, Mimblus Mimbletonia and Bubotuber (though no one had to squeeze out the pus), with Pigwidgeon sitting alongside them.
Our table was very festive, set with lights and candles:
Above the table were our Potions, again labeled from canon:
Amortentia and Murtlap Essence:
Wolfsbane, Polyjuice Potion, Skele-Grow, and Scintillation Solution:
At the end of the night, some of us got a little rowdy dancing:Where most folks remove parts of their costume as the night wears on, Anna added Jonas' Dumbledore costume on top of her own.
And we rounded everything off with some LolCats:

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Lego Dreams

Aleks pretends to take a nap in his new Lego tray. The Lego tray is the most recent innovation for our Lego problem and seems to be the best solution thus far. Using a 56"x26" piece of masonite and 4 lengths of 2"x1" (measuring 54" and 26"), we created this large tray that utilizes the smooth surface of the masonite to slide under the bed, out of site. Lego still escape, but thus far remain in much smaller numbers than before. The sizing was what would fit under Aleks' bed easily. He can move the whole tray himself, but cannot seem to dump it.