Monthly Archives: December 2014

Day 79: Happy New Year!

Every night after the kids go to bed, I pick up a little, and very often I find the things that Girl has drawn during the day. This is one of the greatest joys I’ve been given in my life, these drawings. Tonight I found this one, made with pencil and the new washi tape Aunt S sent to the kids. I don’t know anything about it, but it looks like a party to me.

A party, by Girl
A party, by Girl

There aren’t any actual New Year’s Eve parties happening in our house, but I really like this imaginary one.

I didn’t realize until now that it was sort of appropriate, but I spent today mostly making plans. Plans for a hike with friends tomorrow, plans for Boy’s birthday adventure later in the month. Plans for a weekly board game afternoon at one local library branch, starting next week, and plans for a monthly art program at a different local library, starting the week after that. Possibly even a weekly homeschool geography co-op, littles to teens, with food and maps, culture and literature. We’ll be busy this semester, doing different things than we were last semester. It’s a good way to start the year.

Day 78: Play

Boy finished the last of his Christmas Lego sets last night, a Star Wars AT-AT. This morning Girl finished one of her Lego sets, the Lego Friends pool club. It takes Girl a lot longer than Boy to put together a set, but she’s still very good at it for someone her age. It was the first thing she did when she woke up this morning. She got out her instruction book and picked up where she left off last night. Boy was playing with his AT-AT while she was doing it. I could hear him making AT-AT walking noises: ZZZZT. ZZZZT. And then I realized that it was attacking the Lego Friends pool. The Lego Friends gave those stormtroopers an earful.

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And then they all worked out their differences. The stormtroopers were swimming in the pool with Andrea and Isabella and cannon-balling off the diving board, and then they gave the girls a tour and a ride in the AT-AT. The Friends even got to bring their pet bunny aboard. Evidently the AT-AT has a television screen and can stream movies, because for a while they were all hanging out and watching something together, and trading life-stories.

I overheard one of the Lego Friends telling a stormtrooper that her family had all died, and all she had now was her friend and her pet rabbit,  and that she was kind of lonely, and asking if he wanted to come live with them. He said he couldn’t because he had to serve the emperor, because he was a clone, that the emperor was always telling him what to do. The Friend said that was okay, maybe the emperor could come live there too. Stormtrooper said that wasn’t a good idea, that the emperor was pretty mean and would boss her around. Friend replied that she didn’t mind; her family had been pretty mean to her too, before they died, and anyway she knew karate and would kick the emperor if he tried to be mean to her.

And so it went on.

Until Boy’s friend arrived for their second playdate in two days, and they all disappeared into the kids’ room to work on the Lego creation they’d started the day before, not to be seen or heard from for two hours. Except for one time when Girl came out to get chocolate for everyone.

Then after I forced them all to come in the kitchen and eat a little (so no one would get crabby) they had some kind of play-battle in the kids’ room, at the end of which the Lego construction was nothing but rubble.

And then the kids decided to go outside and play with the dog. I could see them out there a little, between and behind things, running around, talking, swinging. But I let them have their privacy and their own play and stayed inside. There was no fighting, no complaining to me about anything.

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And so it starts. The mystery of your kids’ lives, and their friendships. The things that aren’t for you to know about.

After Boy’s friend left, and after we ate dinner, Boy asked Papa to go in his room with him to help him clean up the Legos, but also start building their land again. He told Papa that his friend “expects there to be progress by the next time he visits.” Papa told me this, and only then did we realize the depth of his liking for this friend, how much the playdates mean to him. When Girl went in to ‘help’ build Boy came out almost in tears, saying that she was going to build “girly” stuff in his military factory compound. Maybe even a….makeup place (no!).

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And he asked if he could call his friend to talk to him about it. It was the first time he’d ever asked to call a friend, just to talk about something that was on his mind.

Day 77: Legos and a friend

Today was really rainy and cold. The kids woke up and started building Legos; Boy worked on the set he got from Santa; Girl worked on the set she got from Poppy and Grandma L. One of Boy’s friends came over around lunchtime and stayed for the rest of the afternoon. They built Legos, played with Nerf guns, watched a movie and ate snacks. The same boy is coming over tomorrow afternoon so they can work on their Lego creation some more. Tomorrow morning is our first day after break; we’ll try and do a little math and violin. A return to normal life!

Day 76: Winter birthday boys

In our co-op there are a number of boys who are turning eight this winter, Boy among them. Having a boy’s birthday in winter in a temperate zone is always a bit of a quandary. They want to celebrate with their friends; it’s hard to have a bunch of boys inside; the weather can’t be counted on for an outside party; having a party in a large indoor venue is expensive and often not that fun (limited time and freedom). But today was the first of the birthday parties, and it was great. Two of the boys celebrated together, at the home of one of the families. Their home is relatively open and spacious, with a fenced yard on the water, and a big live oak tree. The boys mostly played outside with Nerf swords and bows and guns. Maximal fun with minimal risk of injury. A big sister led them on a scavenger hunt.  One boy repeatedly climbed pretty high up the tree. Boy’s been a little lonely for the last month or so, and I could tell he had a lot of fun.

In fact, arranging to have Boy spend more time with friends is one of my goals for this ‘semester’ (January-May). Math, woodworking, violin, time with friends. That’s what we’ll be trying to do.

Next, of course, I have to plan Boy’s birthday. More on that soon!

Days 73-75: Christmas

We had a good Christmas with family. On Christmas Eve, we finished our puzzle.

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Then Papa helped the kids make a gingerbread house. They did a fabulous job.

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On Christmas morning the kids opened presents. Boy got a lot of Lego sets, to his delight. Girl loved her fairy ‘rainforest’ and also particularly liked the snap-circuits Auntie S got her.

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Poppy and Grandma L made us a wonderful Christmas dinner. Here is Girl in her fancy Christmas outfit. The skirt was made by one of our friends; the shirt was made by one of Nana’s friends.

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Yesterday the rest of the family went to the zoo while I stayed home and took a nap (I’m still recovering a little). They said they heard one of the tigers roaring. Then last night we left the kids home and went out to eat for our anniversary, which was great fun.

Today Poppy and Grandma L said goodbye, and of course the kids were pretty sad. Boy cried a couple of tears.

I wanted to take Boy to see the last Hobbit movie in 3-D, so we left Girl at home with Papa. On the way, we needed to get two birthday presents for a party Boy is invited to tomorrow. We stopped at the local shop that we like and picked things out. Boy didn’t want anything for himself, didn’t even ask, but got really excited when he saw Madeline paper dolls. He thought Girl would like them. Then we saw a Madeline doll with removable clothing, and he insisted on on calling Girl on my phone to tell her about it. He asked her if she wanted the doll for her next birthday, and she said yes.

We got to the movie in plenty of time. I have to say that Boy watching extremely exciting PG-13 movie trailers with 3-D glasses on is one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen. I love taking Boy to the movies. It’s a tradition we have, starting when Girl was only a few weeks old and he was very upset about her arrival. I left little baby Girl at home with Grammy and Grampy and I took Boy to see Fantastic Mister Fox at the fancy downtown mall theater. We’ve been going there ever since.

Days 71-72: Things Girl did while I was sick

Paper fires.
Paper fires.

So, I am finally feeling (mostly) better, as are the kids, and we happily spent the last couple of days food shopping, wrapping presents, making and eating food, and playing.  We are having a wonderful time with our visiting family. Because Grandma L is doing so much of the cooking and kitchen cleaning, I got to sit on the couch today while Girl brushed my hair, gave me a face massage with lavender lotion, and then gave me a ‘manicure’ with lotion, too. The full Girl spa treatment.  It was the kind of thing I think a person dreams about when they first learn they will have a daughter. Papa and Poppy spent a lot of time driving to different Lowe’s and Best Buys trying to find a washer and dryer that he and Grandma L wanted to get us for a Christmas present. (Which we are so grateful for! And excited!)

But before it gets lost in the shuffle, I wanted to post a few pictures of things Girl made, some with Papa, some alone, while Boy and I were both so sick.

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Paper ballerina dolls.
Paper ballerina dolls.

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Playing with symmetry, using paper towels and glitter glue.
Playing with symmetry, using paper towels and glitter glue.
A star to put atop a Christmas tree.
A star to put atop a Christmas tree.
A drawing of all of us having a picnic, by Girl.
A drawing of all of us having a picnic, by Girl.
"Scary animals that are lost in our city" by Girl. A grizzly bear, a lion, a cobra, a tiger, and a stinkbug.
“Scary animals that are lost in our city” by Girl. A grizzly bear, a lion, a cobra, a tiger, and a stinkbug.

Day 70: Company arrives

The big news today is that Poppy and Grandma L arrived from Arizona. Unfortunately, the second biggest news is that Girl has a stomach bug, and a fever. How is this possible? I don’t know. Bad luck. Plague and contagion. We are obviously very worried that we will make our guests sick, but still very happy to see them. I’m looking forward to a possibly very long night taking care of sick children, so I won’t say anything more tonight. Better get to bed and sleep while I can! May tomorrow bring back health to the house!

Day 69: Unschooling is still happening

It occurs to me that I should make note of the ways that learning is still happening even in the last couple of weeks, with the Nutcracker and now us being sick. This is about as bad as it gets for us, in terms of ‘doing homeschool.’ But even still, Boy spells words for me, or asks me how to spell them. He’ll come up with a problem like, “What’s 31 x 24?” and then we’ll talk it through together, and he can solve these problems even though he doesn’t have any multiplication facts memorized, just by using the operation of addition, breaking the problem down into smaller sub-problems, and ‘setting numbers aside’ to add at the end. He still reads his books, though not as much as usual (I think he’s had headaches and generally been pretty groggy). I’m reading him a chapter every night of an Egyptian Mythology book by Donna Jo Napoli. She brushes on some pretty deep notions in that book, and also Egyptian mythology is just neat, the illustrations beautiful. Girl has been asking a lot of questions about what letters are what, and (finally, I think) has the number symbols 1-10 down. She counts things all the time, and is good up to the teens somewhere. As always, she has her projects. She’s been making Christmas tree ornaments and paper dolls and snowflakes with her dad’s help (Papa makes very good use of Pinterest for craft ideas, which is funny, because I never do). And she’s done things completely on her own; making ‘pixie dust’ pictures with glitter glue, getting out all the boxes of hand-me-down American Doll clothes/dolls we were (very generously) given last year, and spending hours dressing them and trying to do their hair. Both kids have been working on puzzles. Tonight they made up a song together, a Christmas carol about having guests to our house, to the tune of ‘Angels We Have Heard on High.’ Girl announced it, Boy sang it, then Girl closed with a prayer, talking about how God made us, and everything, and our world, and how she loves our world and her life.

I’m telling you these things, but I’m also telling myself, to remind myself that everything is okay. My kids are learning, and they are doing. They fight, which is maddening, but I remind myself that they are forging a relationship that will last them a lifetime, and those skills will help them in all future relationships. They ‘sass-mouth’ us sometimes, but I try to remind myself that they definitely have a voice, and don’t mind telling us what they think, and those are good things. They feel confident that they deserve to be heard.  (I just try to let them know when their tone or their words sound disrespectful to me, or hurt my feelings. I will ask them if they think they could restate what they are saying in a kinder or more respectful way.) And they are both incredibly, incredibly loving people. Affectionate and sweet. 90%…well 80%…of the time. They are so funny. Witty. Goofy. So observant.

So even when things seem like kind of a mess, like they do at this juncture, I still feel like this is the best we could be doing for them.

Day 67-68: In which we are smote by the flu

For anyone who is counting, I missed yesterday’s blog post. Just as I sat down with my laptop to write it I had a really bad case of the chills, and spent most of the night huddled in my bed wearing my (very warm) fleece bathrobe, and I was still cold! Boy and I have the flu, we figure. After seeming like he was better yesterday, Boy’s temperature went back up to 104 today. Unless he’s greatly improved tomorrow, we’ll take him to our doctors’ office, which has Saturday hours.

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The Christmas tree. I hung the lights and garlands and the old and delicate ornaments at the top of the tree, and the kids handled the rest.

Nevertheless, we did some stuff. We did most of the Christmas decorating, and Boy and I worked on a puzzle that I got him as a Nutcracker present.

Bird puzzle.
Bird puzzle.

Last night I collected all of the Christmas presents, to be ready to wrap next week, and hid them in the closet. (I managed to get that done before the chills hit, thankfully!)

Tonight Papa got us Mexican food so I didn’t have to cook. We watched some episodes of Avatar, which is a favorite for all four of us. Now the kids are in bed, and I’m going, too. I am so hoping that we are better tomorrow, and that neither Papa nor Girl get sick.

Tomorrow Poppy and Grandma L are arriving from Arizona.


So to be honest, the last two days are kind of hazy, so I don’t have too many anecdotes. I know things happened, but I don’t remember what they were. Papa told me this little story, though, apropos of the kids arguing a lot (which they have been, stuck inside together). He told Girl he’d take her down to the park, since we’ve been trying to make sure she gets out to play every day, at least. But Boy really wanted to go, too. Papa said he didn’t want to take them together, because they always argue for his attention. He said he’d take Boy for a short night walk. Boy wasn’t having it. Since his fever was temporarily down, we reluctantly agreed (mostly because he said he was going to the park no matter what we said, and started getting his woolies on).

On the way down, Girl started running, Boy ran ahead of her, and Girl started crying and yelling at him (I could explain exactly why, but none of us have the time for that). Papa said, “See, you guys? This is why I didn’t want to bring both of you. You’re being horrible to each other. Why can’t you just be nice to each other?” Girl replied, palms up and shaking her head, as though stating the obvious for an imbecile, “Yeah…[Boy] is just not a lovable person.” To Papa’s credit, he still took them to the park.

Day 66: Sick day

Today did not go as planned (which honestly could be an alternative name for the blog)! Boy woke up coughing and with a fever, and just got sicker throughout the day. And I’m not feeling great either. Usually I find that if the kids get sick, I get a little sick too, even though I’ve got a mature immune system and don’t often get as sick as they do. So we still didn’t decorate our lovely little tree, much to Girl’s disappointment. (Thankfully our tradition is to keep the tree until Jan. 6, so we’ll still have ample time to enjoy it.) We suspect Boy has the flu.

But here are some nice things that happened, even on a ‘sick day’:

I stripped Boy down to just shorts and gave him Tylenol trying to get his temperature down, but more than anything else he just wanted me to hold him in the big comfy chair while he watched episodes of Korra. So we did that, for a couple of hours, while Girl played by herself quietly. It was bright and warm and sunny in the living room, and I loved just being there with the kids, doing nothing.

Then Boy wanted to go to sleep in my bed (!) so I lay down with him and rubbed his back until he fell asleep. (Unfortunately, I also fell asleep, and slept through something really important I was supposed to do, but that’s a whole other story.)

Papa took Girl to the library and let her pick out books, and got Boy some new Magic Treehouse books, and then took her to the park where she made a friend and played for an hour. The other girl’s mom even gave Papa her card, to see if we could get them together for a playdate sometime. (Either that or she just really liked Papa!)

When I posted online that I couldn’t get Boy’s fever down tonight (holding steady at 103) and that I was feeling worried, I got a number of helpful messages from other moms I know here, homeschooling and not, with advice and recent experiences, and even offers to drive some homeopathic medicine over to the house. In the end, my neighbor down the street walked some over, so that if Boy wakes up and his fever is high, I have something else to try.

Without being overly sentimental, I want to say that I love the mothers I know here. They are good and kind and generous. I like them as mothers, I like them as people. My children are still pretty young, so we’ll be doing this, homeschooling, for another 10 years or more. I’m glad I’m doing it with these people. I’m happy about the friends my kids will have, the adults they will know, and I’m looking forward to time spent with these women.