Day 34: Salt and pepper

My shoulders are sore from lifting heavy crates and boxes yesterday, but I was immediately  reminded this morning how glad I am to have cleaned up ‘The Closet’ when Girl asked me to get out her dollhouse and bin of dollhouse toys. She played with that stuff on and off all day, and at the end of the day, we put it all back in the bin.

IMG_3329 IMG_3340IMG_3330 IMG_3334

The kids were also working on puzzles again today. That’s nice to see. Boy was preternaturally good at puzzles when he was little, able to do 50 piece puzzles easily when he was 3, and he was kind of obsessed with them, but then he just largely lost interest. I love puzzles, so I’d be happy if he regained some (non-obsessive) interest in them. Girl, on the other hand, has never been that interested, and I think she did a 50 piece puzzle by herself for the first time today. Boy very sweetly left the last 6 pieces of his African animals puzzles for Girl to put in. He’s always left the last piece for her to do. Our little gentleman.


Later, though, Boy was driving his sister crazy. They were getting along so badly when they went to play outside with the dog this afternoon that I had to just stand watching them out the window, keeping an eye on things and opening the window to intervene as needed.

Dog waiting by the gate; she keeps her yellow squeaky right inside so she can find it immediately, and puts it back before we go inside.
Dog waiting by the gate. (She keeps her yellow squeaky right inside the gate so she can find it immediately, and puts it back before we go inside.)
Fall brings long shadows in the afternoon.

Also, the kids spend a lot of time doing imaginative play, and Boy is a lot better at that than he used to be. But sometimes he still has a hard time doing make-believe without ‘messing it up’; being crazy, pretending to blow stuff up, crashing things, generally undermining whatever imaginative universe his sister is trying to create. Sometimes it makes Girl laugh, and Boy likes to make her laugh. But more often than not it infuriates her. And a furious Girl is just…terrifying.

Today he wanted to play with her dollhouse with her, and after her yelling at him and threatening violence a couple of times over his goofing around, I pulled him into the kitchen for a talk, trying to explain what it means to play ‘cooperatively.’  And I told him that being funny is like salt and pepper: your food doesn’t taste very good without it, but you can’t make a meal out of it. A little bit of being funny makes life wonderful, but too much is no good. Mostly you want  to be cooperative, and helpful, and kind, and work hard. Being funny should never take precedence over any of those things.

A couple of Unschooling moments from today:

Boy asked me if p-h-o-d-e spelled the first part of ‘Rhode Island’, and I corrected the P to an R (he must have seen it somewhere), but then he correctly spelled ‘island’, and then all of the homonyms of ‘Rhode’: rode, road, rowed.

And when I gave Girl a Mizuna leaf as part of her dinner (while Papa and Boy were at Nutcracker practice) she said “You see these lines, Mumma?  These lines are the roots!” Actually, I told her, roots are the part of the plant that are underground. Those lines are veins like our veins. Those veins bring water up from roots to the leaf, and food that the leaf makes back down to roots. Those lines are like roads that cars travel on. And she was like, “Ohhhhhh!”  (So I hope I was right. Note to self: review plant structures!)

Papa took bags and boxes of clothes and toys and household items to the local charity thrift store today (benefitting homeless families). When he got home I got ready to take the books from yesterday to the book exchange up the street; it’s a big place with a really good selection of books. We have almost $300 in credit after today’s trip, which is nice, so that the kids can go pick out books every once in a while. I also dropped some toys, puzzles, and games off at our favorite library. We are on very good terms with the Children’s Librarian there, and she is (among other things) arranging to start having a weekly Homeschool Board Game Club meet there once a week (starting in January). So I brought some things she could keep on hand for that, in addition to some toys for her Toddler Time program.

Boy and I used to go to Toddler Time when Boy was little and I was pregnant with Girl. We didn’t know anyone here, having moved with the Navy just before Christmas and Boy’s 3rd birthday. MJoFL (short for ‘Miss J Our Favorite Librarian’) may have been the first person we knew here, come to think of it. Walking down the street for toddler time once a week was a life raft for Boy and I, alone in a strange city in a not-very-cozy house with Papa out to sea most of the time. We’ve since bought a house a few miles away, but we still drive to that library branch.

We never had time to go to the library when the kids were in school, and I’m so glad that it’s a big part of our life again, as is MJoFL (pronounced ‘Majoful’:  it’s our secret nickname for her). We go once a week to return and borrow books, and this summer we attended MJoFL’s wonderful arts and science programs, and some other special days, like the great stuffed animal sleepover (MJoFL took pictures of the animals’ shenanigans!) or the fireman/firetruck visit, or the petting zoo set up on the library’s back lawn for a few hours. The library is one of the tent poles that supports the tent that is our homeschooling/unschooling life. It’s hard to imagine homeschooling without it.


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