What I didn’t say about Boy’s birthday adventure yesterday is that Girl got terribly sick mid-hike.
Papa carried her back to the visitor center, and ultimately the head parks officer drove her and Papa back to the parking lot in his own vehicle. She is sick still tonight, after a difficult night last night, and a day on the couch today. She was such a cup-half-full Girl, though, today, trying to make the best of it.
When she felt well enough to do anything, she started drawing on her little tray. She drew countdown ‘calendars’ of the number of days until Boy’s birthday, and the number of days until Nana and Uncle J go home. She asked me to draw her a Christmas tree and a leaf, so that she could make her calendars.
After that she asked if I could think of any more calendars, and I suggested instead that she make one of her wonderful picture-lists, things she’d like to do when she gets better. She liked that idea, but instead she made a list of things she would do today, on her ‘day of rest.’
She checked things off the list as she went. After four items, she fell asleep for three hours, then woke up and finished the list. (Its items included things like, rest, draw, watch tv, have mumma read a story, get love from mumma, rest, draw, give mumma a hug, watch more tv.)
After her nap she asked me to suggest something to draw, and I suggested she draw our adventure walk yesterday. To her credit, she still views it as an adventure, and she made a lovely memento drawing.
Girl drew the trail, end to end, and the things we saw along the way. An eagle, pine forest, ‘windy’ live oaks, deer tracks, a little ‘water with sticks’ (pond with reeds), the snack table and ‘big water with birds.’
She also drew two number lines to compare them: the number of days that Nana and Uncle J were to be here in total, and the number of days they still have left.
I have noticed a real uptick in Girl’s interest in numbers: counting things, writing numbers, adding and subtracting, comparing sets. The other day we were talking about division, and Girl chimed in with, “I know what that is! It’s when you draw a line to make two parts, like if you have two, and you draw a line, and then you have one, and one.” Today she asked me to count to a hundred, and counted with me as best she could.
But now she is asleep again, out here on the couch with me (it’s not safe to leave her alone in case she starts throwing up). I’m so hoping she has a better night than last night, and she starts feeling better tomorrow.
Boy had a good day, too, I think, though I didn’t spend much time with him. I was on the couch with Girl almost all day (we couldn’t leave her alone, and she wanted me). He built his own big yellow beach transporter, like the one we were supposed to ride in yesterday, but that broke down.
He played with his uncle and his Nana and his dad. He took his Nana on an hour long walk around the neighborhood after the rain stopped. It was lovely and warm today, and it’s always pretty after rain.
On Wednesdays, now, we have violin lesson in the early afternoon, followed by Homeschool Board Game Club for two hours at our favorite library branch, and then Boy has a ballet lesson in the early evening. So really, their only free time is in the morning.
On this Wednesday morning, which was quite cold and rainy, both kids got up before me and started watching PBS Kids, snuggled under a blanket together. (We turn the heat down to 62 degrees overnight, and this makes them quite cuddly with each other before I turn the heat back up.)
I coaxed them out from under their blanket with some hot oatmeal (with honey and cinnamon and milk), however, and then talked them into clothes and sweaters and booties. On the topic of sweaters (you can see one in the picture above), Boy said to me today, Mumma, have you noticed anything about me, that I’ve been wearing a lot of fancy sweaters? I told him that, yes, I had noticed, and thought he looked very handsome. Yeah…, he agreed. And went on to explain: It’s in the season of January, in the season of my birthday, and I like to wear a lot of fancy sweaters at that time of the year. And it’s true. Next week Boy will be eight years old. Wear a fancy sweater and think of him.
Girl spent the morning setting up a (to paraphrase her description) historical family compound with Playmobile figures, and playing games on PBSkids.org, as she has been every day.
Boy and I covered the division unit in his Level 1B Singapore Math books in one day. And by the end of today, after thinking about division on and off, he said to me that “200 divided by 3 is 66 with 2 remainders.” Not a bad day’s work on the math front!
Violin went quite well. Tears started to well up in Boy’s eyes at one point, but he regained composure quickly. He played a couple of great duets with his teacher on the piano, and we have some good things to work on over the next couple of weeks. Girl copied down all the numbers off the clock during lesson, and added some letters/words to her words page from last week.
After that we headed to the library, and it was a little homeschool party in the meeting room. Five or so of Boy’s good friends were there, and a couple of Girl’s as well, and other older children. The boys played games for two hours. For a while Miss J Our Favorite Librarian was playing Sorry with 4 or 5 kids, Boy included. She was, as always, very patient and helpful. Then when some people left he was playing a game with sticks…and marbles…in a tower…the name is escaping me, with two of his buddies. And finally he played two rounds of chess with an older boy, our neighbor. I believe he got soundly beaten in pretty much every game of everything, but he didn’t seem to mind. Which is fabulous.
Girl was playing various small-girl games with her friends in a corner of the floor for a good hour. Sometimes they got adult help and may have been playing by rules, at other times probably making up their own methods of game-play, but they seemed to be enjoying themselves. When they got bored we set them up with an art project, making “Picassos” of their own, with a template, cut-out eyes and mouths, scissors, glue and crayons.
It was a lovely, lovely way to spend an afternoon. And I’m 1) grateful to our library for hosting it, and 2) looking forward to doing this weekly.
Tomorrow: We go to the airport in the morning to pick up Nana and Uncle J!!
It was another very rainy day today, so we were home inside until it was time for ballet in the late afternoon.
I’d promised Boy he could have the first turn on the laptop this morning to work on code.org. He worked on using loops and functions, as well as geometry and degrees, in the artist program.
We had to figure out how many degrees he needed to turn to make different shapes depending on how many angles the shape has, divided into 360 degrees. Triangle: 3 angles, so 360/3 = 120 degree turns. Hexagon: 6 angles, so 360/6 = 60 degrees. And so on. You can see one of the crazy designs he was making. He still gets confused by loops, and doesn’t quite get what a function is, but he’s still learning so much, in just a week or so! I’ll try to sit down with him and explain things and do things in a little more structured/thorough way this week.
Girl was jealous of Boy’s turn on the laptop, so I asked what she wanted to do. And what she wanted to do was paint, so I set her up in the kitchen with the easel. First she did a ‘splatter’ painting.
Then she made a picture of her and her friend doing an ‘experiment’ and me telling them that a snack was ready.
Next Boy said he was done coding and wanted to paint, but I told him that Girl’s paintings had to dry, and that he could have a turn first thing tomorrow morning. (It’s always a bit of an issue that if one kid sees the other kid doing something, they want to, too. Instead of trying to make provisions for them to do things simultaneously, I’m starting to try telling them that they can have the next turn with whatever it is, even if that ‘turn’ is a different part of the day or the next day.)
Instead of starting on his math right away, Boy started drawing the skyscraper that he has been imagining building. He wants to tape pictures of a city up on his wall in his room, a collaborative project with Girl. These are two of the building drawings they did today, and I’ll update on the project as it proceeds:
Again, something Boy is doing independently dovetailed nicely with his math lesson. Today we talked about arrays (arrangements of objects into rows and columns), and when I asked Boy to think about examples, he produced his drawing immediately. Arrays provide a good way to visualize multiplication problems. Boy finished the last multiplication problems in his workbook, and as soon as he finishes the Review pages, we can start on division.
While we did math, Girl had a turn on the laptop, and learned about the structure of the ear with a Cat in the Hat game on PBSkids.org. Then after some free play time (and a brief nap for me) we all had a pretty substantial snack and started getting ready for ballet.
In other news, we found Ted the Real Girl Bear, Girl’s favorite stuffed animal who she contends quite seriously is alive, and who had been missing. After a happy reunion, Ted had a snack of a carrot, and after being denied her own turn on the laptop (this was hotly contested, because Ted has never played a Cat in the Hat Game, and would like it so much), she went into hibernation in her cave with her friend Floppy Ears. So I’m not sure how much we’ll be seeing of Ted in the next few weeks, but is is very good to know she is safe.
Tomorrow morning Boy has been promised easel time first thing, and Girl gets a turn on the laptop, and we’ll see how the day proceeds from there.
It was too cold to walk at the botanical gardens with friends like we’d planned. But some pretty good math happened today:
1) Girl did an Odd Squad game on PBSkids.org today that asked her to measure gaps in a tube, and then find combinations of tubing to fill the gap. This required her to add numbers within 10, and so she used linking cubes to figure out what combinations of numbers would make the total she needed.
2) Over lunch, Boy told me that if he charged someone $24/night to stay in his skyscraper (he has been talking a lot about building a skyscraper), and someone stayed for a week, they would owe him $168.
3) This dovetailed beautifully with today’s math lesson, which was…multiplication stories! We read the textbook together, then he did all the exercises for that section.
Other than that, let’s see…Boy played violin, played outside with the dog, and spent a long time experimenting with creating drawing programs on code.org. Girl helped me do laundry and practiced writing letters and numbers at her table.
I also found a bunch of drawings that she must have done recently.
Today we went for a hike at a nearby arboretum with homeschooling friends. A lot of them. There were maybe 15 families, and hikers broke up into groups: teens, little girls, little boys. It was lovely.
The kids started the new year off with some math, bright and early. They made worksheets for themselves and each other, and Boy showed Girl how to use manipulatives to help her figure out addition and subtraction problems. She’s working really hard on writing her numbers properly.
And, Oh! My Gosh! I just noticed by looking at the picture above that Girl is holding her pencil correctly, not with her idiosyncratic overhand grasp! Woohoo! I knew that would happen eventually if I didn’t give her a hard time about it…but that’s a pretty exciting way to start off a new year, her Year of Being Five.
Further Tales of Girl:
1. Yesterday I woke up from a nap to Girl yelling at her dad and him vainly trying to calm her down. I heard: “You’re crushing my dream!!” Apparently, she wanted to do an ‘experiment’ using cinnamon and some other things, but Papa thought she was saying ‘pyramid’ and was understandably confused. And I quickly figured out that what she wanted to do was to make ‘lava’ and what she actually needed was baking soda and vinegar (and paprika for red coloring, which made her happy). Papa said later that she was talking about how she needed to do this as part of her training as a museologist.
2. Today she got mad at us in the car for not wanting her to look at the sun with her binoculars (we were going on a hike and so she had her nature exploration pack). Boy asked her how many fingers he was holding up (to make sure she wasn’t blind) and she hollered, “Two! Good Lord!” and then she told all of us that she wished she was a wild animal so she could live in the wild and not have to listen to our rules and she could do exactly as she pleased.
These things make me so strangely proud. (I’m sure she gets it that she can’t look at the sun with her binoculars. But she just won’t back down in a fight.)
We were getting ready to go to the violin shop this morning, when it suddenly started pouring. I told the kids we were going to hold off going until it cleared up a little, and they immediately chorused, “Let’s do some homeschool!” And to them, that means lessons. I’d been waiting hopefully for weeks for them to ask, but they caught me off-guard. I scrambled to get Girl’s Moving Beyond the Page book and Boy’s Singapore Math book. Meanwhile Girl got herself set up with writing paper and a pencil at the dining room table, and Boy got himself set up at the actual ‘school’ table in my room with some manipulatives and a dry erase tablet, asking for some math problems to solve.
I gave him a couple of long addition and subtraction problems, arranged vertically, but that was actually sort of confusing for him. I can’t remember how much we did with these kind of problems last school-year, but whether it was review or new information, he was getting it quite well after a little bit. But poor Girl got bored without my attention, the rain lightened, and we decided to get going. Without me getting a chance to open their lesson books. (Gah!) Tomorrow will be busy again, but so help me I will be prepared by Monday morning. If they ask for homeschool, Mumma will be ready to do homeschool.
In any case, it took us an hour and a half to get to the violin store and back with a shoulder rest for Boy. The violin guy didn’t give us a new bow (as requested by Boy’s teacher) or condition the violin, so we have to make another trip next week. Errands are so time consuming! I do my best to minimize the time we spend driving around, but it still drives me crazy.
But, we got home, we had lunch, and Boy and I sat down to practice violin.
(I think the most important thing I need to do this month and next for Boy is to make sure that we really practice every day. He cares a lot about his playing, and has been crying a lot about mistakes, and I think that might be because he doesn’t feel like he’s progressing like he wants. But he’s not at a place where he is going to ask to practice. That’s on me.)
Today was the first time we played with a metronome (I found a free one online, since we won’t be able to buy one for a couple of weeks yet). And that was a little frustrating for Boy, trying to keep the time. But it was getting better by the end. He really cried once, but managed to get back on track.
After violin, I taught Boy the Penguin song Girl is supposed to be learning for Daisy Scouts, so he can help me teach her, like he did with the Girl Scout Promise. That song is immensely fun: “Penguins: Attention! Penguins: Begin! Right arm! Left arm! Right foot! Left foot! Nod your head! Turn around! Have you ever seen, a penguin come to tea? Take a look at me, a penguin you will see…”
It put an easy smile back on Boy’s face, and that was good to see.
Then we hurried hurried to eat noodles, collect our books and drive (in the rain) to the library to meet our friends. Before we left, Boy made sure to put his library card, which hangs on a cord, around his neck and hid it in his sweater. When we arrived, Boy went immediately to the shelf with the Magic School Bus books, and picked out four. I caught sight of our friends, and Girl ran off to find the kids in the play area. I could hear their very enthusiastic greetings from the front desk while I picked up our holds and interlibrary loans.
Background: My general library practice is to figure out what books we need for various things at home, and put in a hold request, so that the books are delivered to our branch from any other branch in the city. If the city doesn’t have the book, I just fill out an interlibrary loan request, and I usually have the book in a week or so. It’s wonderful for a homeschooling family. When we are at the library, we can browse, but I don’t have to search for specific things.
On this rainy Thursday, the kids just played for almost two hours, with each other, their friends, and two other families’ worth of kids who came in. I chatted with my friend and read a draft of a short story she’s working on (she’s been getting a lot of her fiction published on online journals lately), and then chatted some more with her and the other moms, kept an eye on her younger son while she looked at DVDs, watched the kids playing. Before we left Boy went to the children’s DVD section and picked out two movies (something he had never done) and took them up to the desk by himself.
On the way to our cars, my friend’s little boy (who is only 3) made a run for the enormous back gardens and lawn of the library, where the kids love to play when it isn’t raining. We asked the bigger kids to run him down, and it was comical (and a little nerve-wracking) to watch them try to retrieve him. (He passively resisted, and they tried to carry him, but weren’t very good at it.) But no one ended up hurt, and the kids were laughing, and I thought how glad I was to have these particular friends to meet at the library. We drove home, again in the rain.
Soccer was cancelled, so I made stove-top popcorn with salt and pepper, and the kids watched one of Boy’s movies: an early Miyazaki one called Castle in the Sky. They ate dinner in front of the movie (noodles, salmon, steamed savoy cabbage).
After she finished eating, and while Boy was still watching the movie, Girl worked on an invention she proudly calls “The Mega-Bouncer-Funner.” (She got tired of the balls from her ball popper dog flying all across the room, I guess, and decided to attach the ball to the dog with string and her beloved craft tape.) She worked with intense focus and her strong little fingers to get that string attached firmly inside the dog.
Then pajamas, a bath, story, bed.
Oh, and one more thing. First thing this morning after breakfast, the kids started doing some writing and drawing. Boy wrote me this letter:
Now, the terrible thing is, that when Boy showed me this letter, and I turned it over to read the back, the first thing I thought was, “Dammit, he’s not capitalizing the first word in the sentence. And he IS capitalizing random words in text. We really need to review that. At least he’s remembering periods.”
Because sometimes I forget what’s important. But I didn’t say any of that. Because I’m getting better at this. I hugged him and hugged him and kissed him and told him that he and Girl were worth every bit of work, and if I could work even more, I would. Because I am so very lucky to have been given them. Because that’s the truth.
And at the end of every one of our imperfect days, I am so grateful that I will have another one tomorrow.
Today is a Monday; home in the morning, ballet lessons and soccer in the afternoon/evening.
I tried to interest Boy and Girl in doing some sit down work today, letters for Girl, math for Boy. But they had other ideas.
Girl was still excited about her newly cleaned play area (which she pronounces like ‘aerie,’ an eagle’s nest) and asked to get out the bin of beans under her ‘day bed’ (the toddler bed she never slept in but loves to play on). She and boy got out the Schleich animals and set up a farm in the beans.
After that they played outside for an hour, ate lunch, then started playing with Boy’s Battleship game, making patterns with the red and white pegs. I asked again if Boy wanted to do some math sheets, and this time he asked if I could just give him problems to solve in his head. I obliged; he probably solved a hundred addition and subtraction problems before he said he’d done enough. I noticed that he was solving them very accurately and a lot faster than he was over the summer. I know he does math in his head a lot, and he likes to talk to me about how to solve problems. These days he’s talking about multiplication and division, but he hasn’t memorized any facts yet.
Similarly, Boy likes to talk about how to spell words. He’ll often pop into the kitchen while I’m washing dishes or something and say, “Mumma, do you spell ‘iron’ like i-r-o-n?” or “Mumma, do you spell ‘vacation’ like v-a-c-a-t-i-o-n?” I introduced ‘-ture’ words to him the other day, telling him how to spell ‘capture,’ and I might bring that up again tomorrow.
I feel like I need to work with Boy’s desire to do things orally these days, and his reluctance to sit down for any kind of lesson. The thing is, Boy likes lessons, so I think it will come back around when he’s less busy. (I could be wrong about that, of course.) But for now, I may look through his math and spelling program materials and just talk to him about things, while he’s doing other stuff.