Girls and boys

Here’s a perfect example of one of the many differences between girls and boys.

My daughters are having a dance recital, with piano music by Jadzia. They are singing “Happy Father’s Day!” over and over.

Joseph couldn’t care less. He is captivated by the Bobcat being used for landscaping work in our front yard.

The Fellowship of the Readers

Regular readers of this blog know that reading aloud is a big thing in the Renaud Empire.

We have gone through many children’s books over the past couple years, including “The Hobbit” twice.

For quite some time I have harbored a secret desire to read aloud the Lord of the Rings. In my head, I figured it would still be a few years before I could try.

Occasionally the girls have asked me about the story, either because they have seen me reading the books, or something else prompted them. I knew they were curious. Jadzia especially likes to ask questions, and I always refused to answer her. “You’ll just have to wait until you/we read the story someday.”

Finally I couldn’t take it anymore. I just had to read it. I figured I would start with the first chapter and see how it went. After all, the first chapter is close in tone to The Hobbit, and the girls loved The Hobbit.

And so began our LOTR odyssey. The audience is primarily Jadzia and Yoli. Ludi would stick around sometimes, but I think this is just too far above her right now, and she has no interest (although she loves the Hobbit and has been asking me to watch the old animated movie).

The hardest parts have been the travel scenes where there is no action. Jadzia can’t quite grasp all the environmental description. But when action or good dialogue comes, she is very interested. I think I had the hardest time keeping her concentration until we reached “At the Sign of the Prancing Pony.” From that point forward, she has been fairly engrossed.

Reading the scene where Frodo is attacked at Weathertop was really cool. I was really into it, and Jadzia was clearly gripped.

But I worried I might lose her in the “Council of Elrond.” It is a complex chapter with so many characters telling all sorts of stories. Some of the stories are current, some are tales of ages past. It’s actually one of my personal favorite chapters, but I knew it would be difficult for a kindergartner.

In fact, she made it through quite well. We took it slow, and I explained as best I could. Ultimately it was okay if she didn’t grasp it all. Her favorite bits were when characters from the Hobbit came back in — the dwarf Gloin, Bilbo, and the mention of Balin going to Moria.

I shouldn’t have been, but I was surprised how much she remembered. I didn’t have to say, “Hey, do you remember Gloin?” I simply read the bit where Frodo talks with him at dinner, and Jadzia realized it herself. “Oh, it’s Gloin from The Hobbit!”

The past week we have been reading about the fellowship going south, trying and failing to go over the Redhorn Gate, and turning to Moria. Today we read much farther than I had expected. We finished up “A Journey in the Dark” and read all the way through “The Bridge of Khazad-Dum” in one sitting. Jadzia had been intent to find out what happened to Balin. Why had his messages to Dain stopped? (At least she remembered that from “Council”)

Of course she found out his fate (her own guess had been right) — and after a while she got a bigger shock: the fall of Gandalf.

Confession time: Two days ago I practiced reading the scene of Gandalf and the Balrog on the bridge. I guess it’s kind of like when I do public speaking. I wanted to be prepared.

And I think it did me good, because it was a really exciting session and Jadzia was pacing all over. Yoli had to call her to sit close by. She had no idea what would happen.

My concern was that Jadzia would be really sad or upset. She is very tender-hearted and cries easily when she’s watching movies with sad parts. But she didn’t break down. She understood Gandalf had fallen, but her first question was: “How will they get Gandalf back?” She is very good at predicting things in stories.

We’re 300+ pages in, but many more to go. I don’t have any big concerns until we reach Return of the King. The tone gets higher there and the Gondorian speech is really old-fashioned English. But we’re a long way from that point. I’m most excited to get to the end of The Two Towers, which has a great sort of cliffhanger that gripped me the first time I read it (only about 10-12 years ago).

Anyway, I suppose we’ll see how it goes from here on out.

Jadzia: newspaper publisher

This week the girls are on spring break, and Wednesday was a big day for the Renaud Empire.

All the kids went with Yoli to Friendship International, where Jadzia and Ludi enjoyed a reunion with their former teachers there.

After Friendship, we high-tailed it to the Botanical Garden, hoping to arrive before noon (while it’s still free to get in). The children’s garden was closed, but we had fun visiting the Japanese Garden, seeing the cherry trees in bloom, feeding the koi, running through the maze, and eating snacks on the grass. At one point Jadzia told me something felt strange on her teeth and wanted to show me, but I was indisposed, chasing the other kids. A while later, she came running up with Yoli to tell me some big news. “My new tooth is coming in!” she exclaimed. I look inside her mouth, and sure enough, a new tooth is starting to poke through. I suppose now would be a good time for the baby teeth to start falling out.

Anyway, this afternoon Jadzia decided to publish her own newspaper announcing this big news. It is surprisingly well-done, with a “photo” and some layout. Click the image below to see the whole thing (two pages).

Maybe she’ll go into the family business! (Assuming the business survives the next decade or so)

Jadzia’s first Christmas program

Tonight Jadzia participated in the Vogt Elementary Christmas program. Here is her account of the night:

I liked singing on the risers. My songs were “’twas the night before Christmas,” “Ring those bells,” and “Hear those bells.”

I wore my new dress with a new sweater and a new hairstyle.

My Nanny and Grandpa came to the show.

I was on the top riser and I could see my family way in the back.

The end.


Let’s go Cardinals!

The World Series is in full force! The girls have been following excitedly (except when the games are actually on at night. They would rather watch “Angelina Ballerina” instead) and I have been hard at work at the Post-Dispatch.

I have prior experience working at the P-D during the World Series and the Super Bowl. October becomes a fun yet frenetic and fatiguing month.

The girls know nothing of this of course. All they know is that they see less of their Papá (since he comes home very late and takes naps to make up for it), and that the Cardinals might be champions!

So what about those masks? Well, they are called “Face Cards” and they were created by some of my colleagues at the P-D. Numerous players are available, and you can download them from stltoday.com. Yoli and the girls cut them out and assembled them. The only modification they made was to glue the papers to cardboard cereal boxes for reinforcement before cutting them out.