Sunday, January 31, 2010

the fox and the goat

Yesterday's story was "The Fox and the Goat" in which the fox fell down the well (after being butted by the goat) and then tricked the goat to jump in so he could jump on his back and get out, leaving the goat stuck at the bottom of the well. Above is J's drawing (of the fox looking in the well and the goat deciding to butt him) and below is Zoo Boy's (of the fox standing on the goat's back in the well to get out -- the goat's in there, they're all just covered in water).

And my drawing, of the fox tricking the goat to jump in. Hey, look, 3 foxes later, and my fox is finally starting to look like a fox! (Although J was quick to point out that my goat leaves a lot to be desired...sigh....)

Saturday, January 30, 2010

the rooster and the fox

Above is J's story drawing, below is Zoo Boy's from the story "The Rooster and the Fox", where the fox tries to trick the rooster into believing that all the animals have agreed to be great friends, so he should come down and give her a great big hug. The rooster is too smart, and pretends to see a dog coming to scare off the fox. This was another free drawing. I've decided I'll probably start the week with a led drawing for our first story of the week, then let them free-draw the rest of the stories for that week.

My drawing:

Friday, January 29, 2010

the donkey and the load of salt

Above is J's drawing, below is Zoo Boy's. I'd promised I'd let them do a free drawing today, and so I did. If the quality of their free drawings continue in this manner, I'm happy to let them free-draw every day! Especially Zoo Boy, what a difference from what I'd been seeing of him! And notice that he actually put his title on the lines provided today. I knew he'd eventually do it, so long as I didn't bug him about it. But I was a little surprised that he did it so soon!

And I know I said I wasn't going to bother drawing when they did free drawings, but both boys wanted me to draw along side them today. I love that we all chose to draw the same scene (the scene that sets up the entire story) of the donkey fording the stream and slipping on a rock. (In the story, the donkey does this by accident the first time, but when she realizes that half her load of salt is washed away and her burden much lighter, she continues to fall on purpose, until her master tricks her by loading her up with sponges instead, which become much heavier after she falls into the water.) Anyway, here's my drawing, in case anyone is interested (and I get complaints if I don't post my drawings, so there's at least one or two of you who are interested!):

Thursday, January 28, 2010

the sick lion

The posts are going to be coming a bit fast and furious for the two weeks during which we read and work with Trickster Tales, as we read one tale per day, then recall, draw and label the story the following day, which means four new stories a week. (Don't worry, things will slow down a lot with the Sage Story work, and even more so with the math work.)

Our first Trickster Tale was that of "The Sick Lion", in which an aging lion tricks animals in his kingdom to come to him, claiming to be sickly and unable to hunt. Of course, as soon as the animals set foot in the door of his cave, he pounces upon them and eats them. Except for the clever fox, of course, who happens to notice all the footprints going in, but none coming out. Above is J's story drawing (of the fox outside of the lion's cave) and label, below is Zoo Boy's.

While I told the story, Zoo Boy nearly keeled over with all the killing that was going on, even though it was all in a very light-hearted, matter-of-fact manner. When the story ended on a clever/funny note, though, he laughed, and he had no problem relating that the animals were eaten during the recall this morning. J, on the other hand, was howling with laughter for the entire story. Certainly shows different developmental stages and personalities!

Both boys were very into the recall, quoting their favorite lines verbatim, and arguing about who got to tell the next segment. Both also avidly drew the stories (although Zoo Boy made me promise that they could do a free drawing tomorrow rather than a led-drawing -- I'm planning on switching back and forth between methods this year), but Zoo Boy burst into tears when I explained we were going to write a short sentence or statement to describe the story. We compromised, and he wrote the title on his drawing (although he refused to write on the lines provided for that purpose). I'm certain he'll come around on this, this is his usual resistance to new things, I've seen it time and again from him. The fact that he actually was able to continue with the lesson and didn't need to leave the table to recover shows his ability to better handle these sorts of things.

Below is my drawing, for comparison. I won't draw every day, just when I want to lead a drawing. (My purpose in leading today was twofold -- first, it was our first story drawing after a break, and I wanted to set the right tone, and second, I wanted to show labeling by example so they could see what I meant.)

Did anyone else notice that both of my kids drew foxes that actually look like foxes? While mine looks more like, I dunno, a Collie.... And, by the way, all these foxes are actually orange. Obviously that's not a color my camera interprets well....

New Years Days

I'm going to post about our new 2nd Grade Rhythms in bits and pieces as we go along this week. We were waylaid a bit by a quick stomach bug yesterday, which means we'll do school work on Sunday this week, and also means that we did not attend several of our 'afternoon adventure' type things (so I'll probably post about those at another time), but otherwise this is going to look pretty typical:

We started our week on Monday at the first of this session's Monday Homeschool Classes. J is taking my Revolutionary Days class, where we made Tricorn Hats and Hasty Pudding; Drama, where he continued to practice in his role as a Monkey in their production of "Anansi and the Strange Moss-covered Rock"; and a class on the human body, where they learned about skeletons. Here's his drawing from that class:

Zoo Boy meanwhile completely rejected taking the one class that he signed up for (about Vertebrates -- he loved the topic, but the class had too many kids in it for his comfort level), and opted to play with some friends in the museum instead. Honestly, for him, that's more important than any classes anyway at this point, so we're just going with the flow.

Tuesday was our first day of our new morning rhythms at home. We started with a nice walk, followed by some sensory-rich fold-and-spin sequences while I sang our favorite winter song, "The North Wind Doth Blow". After snack we began our "story work", which started, as we will every day, with a reading of the poem we are learning this week:

New Years Days
by Celia Standish

January days are white with snow,
The winds are laughing as they slow.
Across the ponds and lakes we glide,
And o'er the drifting snow we ride,
And down the hills we gaily slide,
For it is winter weather.

Each rushing stream is warmly dress'd,
An icy coat upon its breast,
And on each branch of every tree,
Packed in as close as close can be,
The next year's leaflets we can see,
All nestled close together.

Then we started work on our "alphabet 8s". We start with a blank piece of paper with a side-ways "8" on it (the infinity sign), drawn in yellow. We then trace the "8" with our crayon, starting at the center (where the lines cross) and following the entire "8" three whole times. Then we form the lower-case letter we are working on. So, for example, for an "a", we again trace the left-hand portion of the "8", then flow right into adding a short "stick" in the center to form the "a". We'll be working with most of the alphabet that way, introducing a new letter each day, and repeating the previous days' letters for several days. I'm mostly doing this for Zoo Boy's benefit, as he needs a lot of work on crossing his mid-lines, and is very uncomfortable writing lower case letters. But I'm finding that J is quite awkward with this exercise as well, and I'm actually having to give him more support than even Zoo Boy. It makes a bit of sense, given that J has a lot of established habits in regards to his handwriting.

Then we moved on, this first day, to the journals. This time slot will be taken up with story work the rest of the week, but since we don't read our first story for the week until today and it needs a night to 'rest' before we work with it, I thought this was a good time slot to introduce the concept of journaling. I presented each boy with a pad of drawing paper with their names on it, with several pages prepared with "forest path" lines below a open space for drawing. I told them that these are their journals, and they can draw and write whatever they want to inside. I made few suggestions as to what they might do: something they did over the weekend or at homeschool classes the day before; something to do with the poem we are learning (which is posted where they can see and read it from their work spaces); something they make up or just want to draw/write about.

J immediately jumped in, exclaiming as he worked "this is FUN!":

Zoo Boy was more reluctant. He followed me around and asked me what he should draw. I gave him some suggestions, but told him that it was ultimately up to him what he wanted to do, as this was his journal. He decided to draw something from his Monsterology Handbook:

When it came time to write something, he balked and asked me if I'd write a whole bunch of stuff for him. I told him that I couldn't write in his journal, as it's HIS journal, and he should only write what he thought was important. So he returned to his work and came up with the above.

We then moved to our story spot (which is currently my bed) and read our first trickster tale, which I'll blog about separately. They then move on to an hour or so of creative play, then lunch, rest and afternoon adventures.

It all went quite smoothly, although before we started, Zoo Boy admitted that he doesn't much like doing "the homework," as he calls it. I told him it's either this or we could think about putting him in school. His eyes got huge and he quickly agreed that "the homework" was just fine by him.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

jumping in with 2nd grade

We celebrated the start of our winter semester with a trip to the Jump Zone with our friends Tr, Q and O yesterday afternoon. Enjoy a few photos of the boys' fun while I talk about the Enki approach to 2nd Grade.

In 2nd Grade we start working in cultural blocks, about 2 months at a time. Within each block we'll work with Language Arts, Humanities, Math and Science.

For Language Arts and Humanities, we start with Trickster tales (light, playful tales of animals who outsmart other animals) from that culture, to meet the 2nd grader's trickster energy. After that energy is met, we connect with their deeper needs by working with Sage stories, which are longer stories about the life of an important person from that culture, which take us from his/her mischievous childhood through his/her development into an adult who serves humanity. Men and women, scientists and artists, religious leaders and freedom fighters are all included in the Enki Sage collection. We'll be reading the stories in chapters, and recalling, drawing, and writing summaries for each chapter as we go along.

Then we shift on to Math, while keeping with the same cultural themes for crafts, cooking, movement, etc. I'm going to be bracketing our Language Arts block and our Math block with Nature Stories rich in sensory language about Natural Disaster Phenomena (which also mirror that 2nd grade energy) and stories that address various Language Arts rules.

I've chosen Western Europe as our first culture. Since Zoo Boy isn't completely ready for 2nd Grade (although he's close), I thought the easiest transition for him will be through a culture he's already familiar with. Also, the Sage story (which is about St. Francis of Assisi) starts with Francis as a child who plays at being a knight, which will appeal to The Boy right off the bat. We'll be spending the next two weeks reading and working with some of Aesop's Fables (the Trickster Tales of this culture), although the Enki versions of the stories do not include the "moral", but rather leaves that up to the child to discover on their own from the story.

In addition to this 2nd grade work, we'll be working on 1st grade painting stories (I'll blog about separately), learning and reciting seasonally appropriate poems, writing/drawing in journals, and using the alphabet-8s method of working on Zoo Boy's mid-line crossing problems while at the same time working on proper lower-case letter formation. Hopefully we'll be doing more woodworking projects with them, as well as a variety of culturally appropriate crafts and cooking projects.

J is participating in a lot of classes to help meet his need for a bit more contracted work, and for further social interaction with other kids, which he also craves. He's taking classes in drama, music, dance, history, the human body, and states of matter. He'll also have more books and stories to read on his own, and he'll be doing more handwriting copy-work than would be appropriate for Zoo Boy. I'm also hoping we'll have time for him to participate in more advanced type nature classes in the spring.

Looking at the long-term, my plan is to continue with a 2nd Grade structure until after Zoo Boy's 8th birthday next March, then wrap-up next year with our first 3rd grade cultural unit (which are about 3 months long).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

J's turn

Since I blogged all about Zoo Boy yesterday, I figured it would only be fair to give J his own post as well. This has been a year of big change for him, he's definitely moved out of that dreamy world of wanting to play make-believe all the time and into the realm of needing to know more about the world and where he stands in it. This stage of development is referred to as the "9 Year Change" by Waldorf folks. I was actually rather surprised that J came to it this quickly. While it's true that he IS 9 years old, he'd been running consistently about 1 1/2 years behind developmentally. But he's done a bunch of catching up all of a sudden this past fall, which I was not expecting. As a result, he only spent about 6 months with the "trickster energy" that Enki discusses kids of the 2nd grade developmental level to have. So I sort of "missed the boat" in regards to meeting that energy with him via Enki 2nd grade stories (I figured we had another year's worth of time to get to it). Not that he won't enjoy the stories, mind you, it's just that he's going to need more information than what the 2nd grade materials provide to meet him developmentally.

Fortunately, he can provide a lot of this himself. He's a very motivated "researcher", not only loving to read, but to experiment and write up his results as well (all entirely self-motivated, I need to point out -- I have not suggested or encouraged this in any way). But because of this tendency of his, it takes a lot of the burden off of me to have to provide it, and keeps it pretty much out of Zoo Boy's hands (who is nowhere near ready for that sort of thing). Classes at the CT Science Center and other museums and nature centers also fill that need in him. He just started a class about the human body yesterday (with our Monday Homeschool Classes), and during the first class they drew skeletons and labeled the major bonus -- this is right up his ally, and he raved about the class afterwards. So really all I need to do is to find some stories that mirror where he is (which would be creation type stories of the cultures that we'll be working with anyway during Zoo Boy's 2nd Grade year).

One thing I really need to do is find him a Spanish teacher. The introduction he received in the fall was wonderful, but she's been unable to continue doing classes, and he's so ready to go on. In fact, lately he's been translating nursery rhymes from English to Spanish with the help of his Spanish/English dictionary, but not speaking Spanish myself, I am unable to tell if the work he's doing is correct or not. He's got a pretty good grasp of syntax. For instance, when he was translating "Row Row Row Your Boat", he realized there were several uses of the word "down", and he needed to figure out which one was the right word. When he settled on "down the street" as the correct one, he realized that the Spanish phrase had the word for "street" before the word for "down", so he looked up the word "stream" first, then went back and put "down" after it.

On the social scene, he's got a few kids he likes spending time with, but nobody that I'd say is a true friend quite yet (other than his brother, of course). I'm hoping some of his activities this coming year will have enough consistency with attendance that he'll have the opportunity to get to know some of these kids a little better. This is the right age for him to be exploring real friendship, so hopefully the opportunity will be there with the right kids. (This photo is of him at a friend's birthday party this past weekend, he's the one farthest to the left.) He gets along equally well with girls and boys, but does seem to surround himself with girls quite frequently.

The big excitement for J these days is that he's finally begun taking dance lessons, after bugging me all fall about it. Here he is at his first ballet class last night. He's also taking a Jazz/Hip Hop combo class, and a Musical Theater class at the same school. He's absolutely thrilled about it (on the night we signed him up for classes, he told me it was the most exciting day of his life!), and he's of course carrying his incomparable enthusiasm along with him to this new pursuit, so his teachers are pretty excited as well. J's a kid that will be successful in whatever he pursues just due to sheer determination.

Personally, I'm pretty impressed with the dance classes. These are very physically intense classes, and the stuff they are working on is the same exact stuff I'd be focusing on with J in regards to sensory integration -- balance, mid-line crossing, endurance, movement to music. The high-quality music they are working to is also a plus. And because kids tend to stick with the same school for years, I think the opportunity to make some friends also exists. So, it's got the big thumbs up from me!

I'll be blogging more about 2nd grade and how I'm meeting J's needs (since he's technically more of a 3rd grader) as we get rolling with our newly upgrade rhythms this week. But for now, this is where J is at! He's also continuing to enjoy his weekly sports/gym class (and they are talking about possibly adding a 2nd day during the week for that class as well come spring so that they can concentrate just on baseball -- hey, K, Wednesdays would be good for us, hint hint). He also has a formal choir class once a week until mid-March, and will be starting rehearsals with the youth chorus again in a few weeks. It's enough to keep us all hopping!

Monday, January 25, 2010

on the eve of second grade

I've been wanting to write a post about each of the boys and their development, and I thought this was a pretty good time to write about Zoo Boy, since he's starting 2nd grade tomorrow. I'm not 100% sure he's ready for 2nd grade yet, so this may be stretching him a little bit, like I was when he was 5 1/2 and started 1st grade with him. By the time he turned 6 (last March), he was fully in the 1st grader's body and mind, and I'm assuming he'll be there for 2nd this March. So this is a little early for him. But J clearly is no longer being met by the 1st grade format (I'll talk more about him in another post), and it will be much easier for me to bring more of a 3rd grade feel into the 2nd grade format with him. (I'll be blogging plenty about the way Enki 2nd Grade is organized later this week.) So this is sort of middle road for both boys, and will be meeting Zoo Boy perfectly in a short time.

I know that we're getting close to Zoo Boy being ready for 2nd because of the things I've been seeing from him lately. Developmental things, that seem to come out of nowhere. Like his sudden interest in writing (here he is working on some sort of record book having to do with his Monsterology book). He's been picking up a pencil on his own quite a bit lately, whereas previously, he'd just avoid anything to do with writing if he could.

Spontaneous drawing is another new development. Unlike his brother, he's never been interested in doodling and drawing. But suddenly it's as likely to find him drawing as it is J. Here's a drawing of an original mythological creature that he invented.

He's also maturing in other ways. He's being more cooperative (which means he's only uncooperative most of the time rather than all the time), he's posing and smiling nicely for picture-taking (which is just plain shocking, actually), he's spending more nights in his own bed (and more time in his own bed before he eventually crawls into our bed), and his pull-ups have been dry upon waking in the mornings about 90% of the time (although he's not willing to give them up yet, and I'm certainly not pushing him!).

He still wants to be immersed in pretend play all day. This has caused a bit of strife with his brother, because J has moved on from there (again, more on him in a different post) and is not willing to play make-believe all day anymore. It's meant that I've been on the lookout for other appropriate playmates for him. Fortunately, they abound at our Monday Homeschool Classes, which started up our Winter Session today, so he'll have 4 1/2 hours of all the imaginative play he can handle every Monday pretty much for the rest of the school year. Hooray for that! Of course, he doesn't want to take any actual classes. But that's OK, for him, finding playmates definitely take priority, he's already going to be technically 1/2 year academically ahead of other kids his age. (Given that he's starting 2nd grade now, and would still be in the middle of 1st if he was in the public school system.)

The only place I can really say he's behind is with the sensory integration stuff. He's still highly resistant to me doing anything with him at home, although I've been sneaking in some activities in the name of games and races and exercise. I'm also setting up formal Occupational Therapy sessions for him again (and trying desperately to arrange for Speech too), so I'll have a professional to give me feedback on where he's in need of more work. I'm happy with what I have been able to get him to work on, but I'm also well aware of what I'm missing.

So, that's the boy in a nutshell! A few more notes: He says he's going to be an Ecologist when he grows up, because he likes animals so much. He wants a bunny (which I've promised him he can have when J gets his puppy later this year). He lost his 3rd tooth this past weekend. He's worried about turning 7 (although he knows that he survived turning 6, which he was also worried about, so figures he'll probably survive 7 too). His best friend is his brother, and he already knows who he wants to marry (although I won't betray that confidence here -- but she's several years his senior, so he's aiming high!).

Sunday, January 17, 2010

raising compassionate children

This is one of those topics that I've wanted to post about for quite awhile now, but have had trouble finding the time to address such a vast, vitally important issue. The recent disaster in Haiti has brought some of this type of discussion to the fore-front of topics on the few parenting/home education e-groups I'm involved in, and has allowed me to sort of half-write this post in the process. So I figured now was the time to address it here on my blog.

One of the primary reasons that I homeschool my children is my hope that they can avoid having to face some of the more hardening aspects of the "real world" before they are mature enough to handle the knowledge that the world isn't always sunshine and roses. Part of my responsibility in making that decision is to lay the groundwork to help them internalize the understanding of their place in the world, and the responsibility of compassionate action towards others, so that when they are faced with the hard realities of life, they can move in a positive direction to make the world community they live in a better place, rather than being dragged down by the despair that can come when a person feels that they have no power to change things.

It is my understanding that children's world views develop in a natural progression. At first, in the toddler and preschool years, children are focused solely on their self and their own needs. As they progress into Kindergarten and First Grade, they expand their self-view to include their families. Coming into second grade, they are beginning to see themselves as a part of a larger community that includes neighbors and friends in addition to their own family. As they continue through the elementary grades, their view expands, until they reach their teens, when they understand that they are part of a broader community, the world-wide community that includes all of humanity.

My children are just coming into the age where they are looking towards how they fit into their local community. Friends and families outside of our own little circle are starting to matter to them, and as a result, they are starting to pay attention to how we, their family, treat others within our community. They notice the actions we take, and they notice the actions we don't take, all the while internalizing these as the norms for our family.

At the same time, they are developmentally still in the experience of their bodies. The things that are real for them are those things that they can touch and feel. The entire homeschooling method I chose is based on this reality, making sure that the kids' content is in a format that they can process and work effectively with. There will be plenty of conceptual learning later, when they are developmentally ready for it.

Given these parameters, it's easy to see how exposing them to something like the horrors in Haiti would only serve to scare them. They would naturally bring the information provided to them into their own understanding, which would result not in empathy for the people in that situation, but in worry about the same thing happening here in their community. No amount of explanation or reassurance would prevent them from converting such an overwhelming concept into something they could relate to in their own experience. They're just not capable of more than that at this age.

Nor are they capable of understanding the very abstract concept of monetary donations. Just the concept of money (where it comes from, why it's needed, the fact that some people have more than they need and some don't have anywhere near enough, or why) is complicated enough, but add in wiring money via text messages to people who we'll never see receive it.... it's just not real to kids. Even a direct transfer of money confuses my kids. For instance, the other day I gave a man standing outside the courthouse a dollar so he could take the bus home. My kids had a million questions -- Why did he need a dollar? Why didn't he have one? Why did I give him one? No matter how many answers I gave, they still had more questions and I don't think ever did quite figure out what had transpired. Yet simple, direct donation is within their understanding, no explanation needed ("That woman was cold, so Mommy gave her a jacket.").

Sad pictures from halfway around the world will only scare young children. The man on the corner with the "Hungry, need work." sign is part of their community. He's real -- they can talk to him, shake his hand, ask his name, touch the piece of cardboard he holds over his head when it rains. Bringing him a cup of soup or an umbrella is an obvious gesture that the kids can understand. They can watch him eat a sandwich we give him; they can watch him put on a hat.

And this is how to lay the groundwork for compassionate aid in our children that will bloom and expand in the future to extend to their world community. Providing a daily example of compassion and direct giving will make helping others part of who they are and what they do. There are plenty of direct-aid services that young children can help provide. They can hand out plates and napkins at the soup kitchen, they can pack grocery bags at the food pantry, they can help deliver toys to needy families at the holidays. And most importantly, they can see their parents responding kindly to those in their community on a daily basis.

In a few years, the kids will have the understanding and development necessary to learn about need beyond our own local communities, and will be able to participate in fund-raising and other more conceptual type aid. Sadly, there will always be need somewhere, always famine to fight, always disasters to overcome. The world will always need our children; our responsibility as their parents is to raise them in a way that allows them to be capable of responding to this need.

pajama university

I thought I'd share a post about PJU (Pajama University), which is how I refer to the totally unstructured pajama-clad learning that's been going on around here during this winter break. These are the students at PJU, both seasoned veteran's of off-the-cuff, self-directed learning. Here they're coming up with a curriculum plan for the day -- a game of Mancala and some arts and crafts soon ensued, followed by a bit of enthusiastic gymnastics (thanks to the springiness of beds), some reading, a bit of music making and the viewing of a DVD from Hawaii (thanks, Chris!) about Volcanoes National Park.

I gave Zoo Boy a scissor-cutting workbook so he could practice one of the skills he struggles with. He's eating it up, joyfully cutting strips and patterns and chattering about how much easier it's getting to use the scissors.

J is working on a series of workbooks about various science topics that Mimi gave him for Christmas. This one is, I believe, about the human body, one of his favorite topics. He also favors one about the 50 states, with facts about each state and a different game (word searches, jumbles, crossword puzzles, etc) relating to them.

Both boys are enjoying playing around with aerodynamics, thanks to the Paper Airplane folding book I gave J. He's getting a kick out of taking his origami passion an extra step -- these folded creations can actually fly! And Zoo Boy is more than happy to act as test pilot for J's creations. Here they are discovering that the weight of scotch tape (used to mend accidental rips) alters the flying ability of a paper bi-wing plane.

Both boys have also been slipping me notes in mirror-writing, ala Davinci. I've gotten surprisingly good at reading it, too!

In addition to all the home activities, we have managed to get dressed and out of the house a bit this week. Of course we had our visit at the Science Center on Tuesday, that I already blogged about, but we also got to a family dinner at the church where J is participating in an Ecumenical Choir program with a handful of other kids. The Homeschool Sports program started up at the gym at the YMCA again on Friday, after which the Vet came out to do some dentistry work on the horses, which Zoo Boy in particular found fascinating.

And yesterday we went to see Grandpa's annual Barbershop Chorus show, which was fabulous, lots of great Barbershop Style music from the chorus and their guest award-winning Quartets. We were especially impressed with Storm Front, we got to meet and chat with them after the show, and we purchased two of their CDs for our continued listening pleasure. (One is an entire CD of acapella Beatles hits, and is just AMAZING!) They have a DVD of their show, too, and I'm sure it's every bit as entertaining as they are in person, so if anyone is looking for an appropriate musical DVD for the whole family, I'd highly recommend it!

We'll be wrapping up our semester here at PJU this coming week, slowly working more structure into our days to ease our transition back to "normal" schoolwork next week. My big goal for the week is to read the book Caleb's Story, by Patricia MacLachlan, in preparation of starting the boys on journaling. (In the book, Anna turns the family journaling responsibility over to her brother Caleb, presenting him with a blank journal. By reading this book at this time, I am laying a base for the boys to relate to when I present them with their journals next week.) And we'll re-establish our regular school week rhythms with all of our outside-of-home activities getting back in full swing again, which means we'll actually have to get dressed nearly every day.

But we'll continue to enjoy as much pajama time as possible during this last week of break!

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Out into the world we ventured on Tuesday, straight to the CT Science Center where we met our friends Tr, Q and O for big-time science-lovin' fun! (After taking this photo, I joined them in this hilarious game about making healthy choices, where the most fun is sabotaging the other players and forcing unhealthy choices into their boxes.)

Zoo Boy, Q and O experiment with water and measures...

...while J shoots ball through pneumatic tubes.

The boys create light pictures with their bodies. Such a great activity for exercise-starved children!

Making music together.

We had a blast! And we paid the price -- two days later Zoo Boy woke up with a stomach bug. (I'm holding my breath about the rest of us.) Ah, well, the price of visiting public exhibits during the winter months....

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


It's all we need.

Monday, January 11, 2010

word building

Just thought I'd post a few pictures of what I've been running across, and occasionally stumbling over (literally), the past couple of days around here. My cleaning binge unearthed a set of "onsets and rimes" and the kids have found it amusing to leave little surprises all over the house.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

still busy with nothing, more or less

Just checking in to let everyone know we're still alive and still doing pretty much nothing. Next week we'll start doing something (though trust me, not much, just not nothing).

Here's the kids playing tackle-sledding, which involves jumping onto a moving sled (with another sledder already on board, of course).

Making a snow angel.

Making a hay angel?!?!?!?! (Leave it to J to be different....)

Workbooks galore, courtesy of Mimi who gave each of them a big stack of things-to-keep-them-busy-when-Mom-is-otherwise-occupied. My boys actually adore doing workbooks. I always did too, when I was a kid.

And look, we actually left our property! Well, once anyway. We met friends at a children's museum. Here's J popping bubbles with sound.

And Zoo Boy taping a very energetic version of the weather.... This is his favorite thing to do at this museum, I think he wants to be a broadcaster, he LOVES being in front of a camera reading script.

Building shelves. Between them and The Map Man, I've got 3 new sets of shelves from the past couple of weeks, which is really helping me find places for all the STUFF we own to belong. (And believe me, all of those shelves are already full. I'd have them build me some more if I had any place to put them....)

Zoo Boy, out standing in his field.

Have I mentioned how cold it is yet?? I think it got to 6 degrees F today.... Needless to say, our forays outdoors have been brief.

What I've been up to since my adventures in Hogwarts ended mid-week. I'm preparing for our eventual departure from doing nothing, getting ready to start up our "formal" school year again at some point over the next couple of weeks. Which involves a lot of sitting around (mostly by the fire, though occasionally I spread out on the bed like this), reading. So it would probably be hard to tell this me apart from the me of the past two weeks, except that I'm more apt to pull my hair and bite my lip now than I was when I was chasing the golden snitch....