Monday, January 12, 2009

Besides survival...

We actually do other things besdies hang out in the teepee. Especially when the windchills are -45. Gotta love MN.

Since the new year started, we've went back to reading before bedtime every night. We start about 7:30ish and bedtime is 8:00. We're doing Magic Treehouse right now. The boys like the books, and I like to read, and reading a not-alot-of-pictures chapter book seems to get the boys using their brains...and calms them down at the same time. (Another cool thing, at the Magic Tree house website, they have a passport that you can download and print off. After you finish each stories there are questions to answer, and if you get them all right, you get a "badge" to add to your passport. There is one badge for each story. The boys are lovin' filling up their passport.)

Note to self: Do not read Clone Wars/Star Wars "Decide Your Destiny" books right before bedtime. Imagining light saber battles does NOT calm the boys down. 'Nuff said.

Something else that we did was get a family membership at a local community center. Why? They offer a lot of classes for homeschoolers (which was one of the reasons we started going there in the first place) and come to find out, the family membership is only $35 a month. I figure for all the things we can do there, plus the discounts we get for classes, it was worth it. So we are enjoying swimming, gymtime, and some other neat classes there during the day.

We also introduced the boys to tools and woodworking. I'm one of those possibly off-kilter people who believes with the proper amount of supervision, children can cook, sew and use wood tools. (Ok, it actually comes from the knowledge that a long time ago, kids much younger were expected to do way more. Meaning, you didn't wait until 7th grade home ec to learn how to make brownies or 8th grade woodshop to make a shelf. I read somewhere that Amish kids can be in charge of buggies at age 9? Wow. What's the are kids are kids, right? Its the environment in which they live that's different.) Anyhow, so we have been working on nailing, drilling and just a wee bit of sawing. The boys are pretty sure their first real project will be the Taj Mahal of all treehouses or something. I was thinking something a bit (ok, a lot!) smaller. Start simple kids, and work your way up!

Man, WHERE do they get that from???

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Still a survival guy, Mom.

Come on, children, says the fearless Mama. Its time for another aventure in the woods!

It appears as if the little teepee house we built on a whim the other day has turned in to just about the coolest thing ever. It's where we hang. Sure, pay no mind that its 10 degrees outside. (Actually, that's pretty warm for MN.) Its wickedly cool to hang out in a "survival house" that you created.

Here is Hubster building a campfire next to our little house in the woods.

Here is Iggy dragging his sled out across the bridges and up the trail, by way of his mouth. Apparently, he was being a sled dog.

Iggy thought a shovel might be a necessary tool at the new house, so he packed that across the bridges and up the trail. Notice the blue baklava on his head, designed and sewed by his mother and father the night before. It cost a whole fifty cents, because I got the piece of fleece at the Salvation Army earlier in the day for a whopping two quarters.

Truly, if we could have a real house right in this spot, it would be grand. The view off the front porch is lovely, ain't it?: In any event, its good to know they're learning good things about the woods...and hopefully, when we find that Little Farm in the Big Woods someday to really move to, this will all come in handy.

Friday, January 9, 2009

I'm a survival guy, mom.

Survival. It's about doing what we have to do when times get tough.

Times got tough today when Mama was frustrated. You know, a little bit leftover Christmas Flu coupled with Back-To-Regular-School-Stuff-Schedule I reached a bit of a breaking point. Its been a bit bi-polar here. Yesterday Iggy was so excited to start his Draw Squad class at a local community Ooky was frustrated (read:tantrum) because he flat out didn't understand the "chemistry" we were attempting at our homeschooly 4H gathering this morning. (Chemistry, meaning identifying the difference between baking soda and powdered sugar and other white powdery substances while mixing them with vinegar.) This, coming from the child who can talk to anyone about anything...and apparently can't ask for guidance regarding his misunderstandings. Hmmm.

Anyhow, upon arriving home from our schooly outings, I had, well...had it. We bundled up and went outside. I didn't really know what we were going to do. We traipsed off into the woods. You can always find something to do in the woods. We watched a pilated woodpecker for at least forever while he banged his beak into our ropeswing tree. Iggy said something about the woodpecker not being able to control his head, and I got the giggles.

Then Iggy laid down in the snow and said "Mom, its like we're survival guys out here. We should build some shelter."

Now I don't know what came over me, maybe its the bit of indian in my blood, but gosh darnint, I agreed with the kid. Suddenly we are survivalists. And we need shelter.

So for the next hour, we gathered deadfall and constructed what Iggy and Ooky referred to as our "survival house". Iggy kept saying it would be easier with tools, and that real survival men would have a knife. I said "We have to work with what we have, my dear." And we did. The boys were quite proud of the house, and are sure that we will add many final touches on it tomorrow. Iggy pointed out that if we had deer hides, we could have wrapped them around the shell of the house and been quite warm and insulated. But, seeing as how we have no deer hides leftover, perhaps blankets or sheets will have to suffice.

The beauty of the survival house is that it entertained us for at least an hour...maybe more...and when we came inside, we were all happy and jovial again. And that's a gorgeous thing!

Yep, we're survival guys (gals). We make it work. We have to. What's the alternative?

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A kid and his cookbook

I've got me a boy who likes to cook. And bake. And he's good at it. It's a beautiful thing.

Ooky, almost 5, has always enjoyed cooking. Always quick to volunteer to help out when I'm in the kitchen. Last time we were at the library, we picked up a copy of Pretend Soup and also Honest Pretzels, both by Mollie Katzen. These are AWESOME cookbooks for kids, a) because they have food in them that kids will actually eat and b) even kids who can't read well will understand the directions, which are written in pictures. It's awesome.

So we bring the books home. Ooky promptly informs me that he will be cooking the next days breakfast and supper meals and will let me know when he has chosen the recipe (so I can shop for the ingredients, of course.) He chose "Hide and Seek muffins" for breakfast and personal pizzas for supper ("with homemade crust, Mom".)

Now when I tell you the kid basically made these meals himself, I'm not kidding. For instance, for the muffin recipe, the child allowed me to a) open the vanilla for him b) open the glass jug of milk c) put muffins in the oven d) set timer and e) remove them from the oven. (Keep in mind, the recipe was written in pictures in this book, so combined with his beginning reading and the pictures, it was pretty fool proof.) Everything else, and I mean everything, Mr. Ookster did himself. Even when mama, who used to be the queen of the kitchen, suggested she might want to maybe sort of help him with a little something, he responded with "Mom. I can do this all by myself. You just watch." Part of me was sad. You aren't even five yet. I'm supposed to be the kitchen fairy of goodness. But part of me was happy. He's getting bigger...which means if I can't cook/bake for whatever reason, he's got my back.

So now Ooky thinks I should find him a cooking class to take. I think that one might have to stick with being Mom taught though. After all, where else can he make a mess, lick his fingers, and handle kitchen utensils that some people would imply he probably shouldn't be using yet?

Yep, being at home rocks.

Friday, January 2, 2009

I just kinda forgot

I remember being at a homeschool conference and one of the "vetran moms" confessing that her daughter had made it all the way to 6th grade before dear mother realized she forgot to teach her daughter cursive handwriting.

"You know, its just one of those things you forget you have to teach them," she said. "Kind of something you kinda think they will just pick up along the way."

I have had my own such moment recently. Although I fear it was with something much more obvious that cursive handwriting.

My lovely darlings, ages almost 5 and almost 6, are doing well at math. Which is to say, their mother, who stinks at math, is thrilled that they somehow figured out how to do simple addition and subtraction problems, as well as counting to 100 by ones, fives, and tens. (I can't take all the credit, of course. There is always JEDI MATH, which they play feverishly on long car rides.) We try to learn a lot by using games and real life. Value of money? Come garage sale-ing with me for a summer, kids, and you'll have it down pat.

So...where's the part that I forgot?

Here goes. The other day we are sitting down to do something related to numbers and I asked the boys to write the answer on their dry erase boards to whatever math problem I tossed out in the air.

(Do you see where this is going?)

Except for numbers 1, 8 (the headless snowman) and 10, they're pretty clueless on how the darn things are made. Well...not completely clueless. They obviously know what they look like. And they made good effort at making them look right. But it was painfully apparent to me that even though we've worked quite hard on the concept of a gi-normous amount of things having to do with numbers...even spelling out the number words...we kind of forgot the simple matter of how to make the damn numbers.

Sigh. Up go the giant number posters. And yet another chalk mark up on the wall of "Homeschooling things Mom screwed up".

Ah. But I am so glad to have the opportunity to do so. :)