Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Unschooling Therapy, Motorcycle Style

I just got back from 550 miles on the back of a Harley. And although I'm sure the bones in my backend might have worn through the butt of my jeans, it was well worth every minute. And for more reasons than I would have expected.

Hubster requested a couple days off work and showed up here with his brother's Harley. (Hubster's bike isn't quite built for a lengthy ride.) He said, "I'm off work for two days. Grandma and Grandpa volunteered to keep the boys. Wanna go somewhere?"

So we did.

Wait. Back up. I forgot to mention I haven't been on the back of a bike since I was 12. That was 18 years ago.

Its also worth mentioning a year ago, if Hubster would have shown up and tried to take me somewhere without a month's worth of planning taking place, I would have flat out refused. Without knowing exactly what route we were taking, where we were stopping, what we were eating, where we were staying, I wouldn't have been able to breathe.

Things are different now.

So we hopped on the bike (with very minimal things packed in the side compartments), the boys waved us off, giggling and cheering that MamaTea was a "Hot Motorcycle Mama"
(direct quote from the boys, by the way), and we sped off. We had a map. Our only plan was that we didn't really have a plan. We were going to enjoy the countryside and each other's company. Stop when we wanted to stop, for as long or as little as we wanted to. Look at what we wanted to look at. Eat where we wanted to eat. Stay wherever we wanted to stay.

It was kind of foriegn to me, as far as traveling goes. Its the first trip I've ever been on that was so unplanned. And yet it was total bliss. Really quite freeing. Totally relaxing.

It didn't take me long...somewhere around Stillwater, I think, when I started to realize that this motorcycle trip was much like unschooling.

1. The motorcycle trip was so much about something my husband and I wanted to do. Something we needed to do, for whatever reason. Something we believed would bring us closer together, to reconnect in a life/living situation that can sometimes be hard to connect in. (For those who are new to this blog, we share a home with my parents, and my husband spends his work week away from us, only coming home on his days off.)This time together was just about us being together and exploring whatever came along.

Unschooling is the same thing. Something the family enjoys because we want to do it. We feel like we need to do it, for whatever reason. We believe it will keep us close together in a life/living situation that might otherwise be really stressful. Its about us being together...and being free to explore and experience all the awesome things that come our way.

2. The motorcycle trip was really more about the journey than it was about the destination. We didn't really know where would would end up. We just rode. We watched. We smiled. We stopped. We hung out. We saw parts of the state I didn't even know existed. And where we ended up staying overnight wasn't even in Minnesota. It was awesome.

In unschooling, we have to focus on the journey, not the destination. How can we even know what the destination is? Can we really know where we're going to end up? There is something peaceful and yet so energizing about welcoming the adventure that is wrapped up in a day, instead of worrying about what the whole purpose of the day was.

3. The really cool thing about being on the motorcycle is that everything is right there. You could reach right out and touch it if you wanted. The wind is right in your face. The smell of the lake or the farm or the woods or the dirt is right there. You are smack dab in the middle of life exactly as it is happening...instead of seeing from the other side of a car window, within the safety and comfort of the climate controlled interior.

Unschooling...well, that's the beauty of it. You're free to be smack dab in the middle of life exactly as it is happening. Everything is real, because you are in it. Your senses soak it up because its all around you. Its not a picture in a book. Its not some far off hard to grasp concept. What you want to know is right there. You can reach out and touch it. That's the best part.

So, regardless of the fact I need to sit on an ice pack to soothe my poor back side, I had an awesome time. Then again, maybe that's another parallel between the two: Motorcycle riding, if done with zest and an unwillingness to give up, can leave you with (seemingly permanent) marks (bruises). I'm sure, in some way, unschooling and learning through life will do the exact same thing. But just like the marks from the motorcycle ride, it will be well worth it.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Proven by, of all things, Pokemon

Iggy has just recently discovered the world of Pokemon and was fortunate enough to score a "Pokemon handbook" from a garage sale. Yesterday he got wrapped up in his own sweet and lovely world and sat down to read it.

It always tickles me when he grabs a big ol'book and wants to read it. Because it consistently shows me, at least with my experience, that if a kid wants to know something, he will plow through those words he might not know to find the information he wants.

In this case, he wants to know all about pokemon.

And so he pushes through words like poison. And psychic. And a million pokemon names. He starts telling me all the attacks they have.

How do you know that
? I ask, with a half grin.

Mom, it says it right there.

And so it does.

Lo and behold, working through those bigger words wasn't the only accomlishment. We also had to find out what a phrase such as 3' 11" meant. When Iggy realzied it referred to height, a whole new world was opened. I mean, figuring out how tall all the pokemons are, and how that relates to how tall Iggy is, or Mom is, or Dad is...that was the most interesting thing in the world to him.

So this little seed Pokemon is only an inch? he asks.
He holds out his fingers to estimate an inch.
Wow. I hope no one steps on him.

Then he wanted to go through the book and figure out who was the tallest, who was the littlest, who weighed the most, etc. And I sat back and marveled at all the concepts he was sucking up into his brain. From a Pokemon book.

I'm sure I have friends and relatives who might suggest that Pokemon is useless crap.

I have to disagree.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The best way I've seen so far...

...to explain learning.

Check out this little ditty. It compares learning to a musical composition. Sums it up pretty good. The last line is the best :)

Mr. Cool, before and after

Yet another cool moment from the homeschool rendevous we went to a couple days ago...


and After:

Let me tell you, Iggy was soooo cool. He was Mr. Tough. Mr. Awesome. Mr. Invincible. But, between you and I, Mr. Cool insisted on washing out the color before bed - his own wishes - so he didn't mess up his lion pillow that he sleeps on. :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

My heart is pretty warm-ish today...

...and not just because its almost 100 degrees outside.

Here's what happened.

Today we went to a little homeschool rendevouz of sorts at a park. There were many booths set up for businesses or groups that had something to offer specifically to homeschoolers (classes, games, different opportunities, etc.). There was also an area of kids activities. Everything was free.

So we did some looking and gathering of information for MamaTea, which included chatting with many area homeschoolers she hadn't seen in awhile. Then we went to the kids activities.

There was a trivia game Iggy and Ooky wanted to play where you spin a wheel and the color you land on determines what subject you have to answer a question in. After you figure out what subject you have, you get to choose easy question, medium question or hard question. There are prizes to be won.

Ooky went first, landed on green, and chose easy. He gets the question "What color is a raven?"...which got a blank stare from the Ookster. When the kid running the game explained a raven is a heck of a lot like a crow, however, Ooky answered "black."

Wahoo, good for you, pick a piece of candy! says the older kid running the game.

Iggy is up next and before he goes up to spin, he whispers to me "I'm going to pick a hard question." I told him that it was up to him. (But I wasn't sure why he'd pick hard since the questions we'd heard in the hard level, when just watching the game, were a bit over his head. Oh well. Perhaps he likes a challenge?)

So Iggy spins, lands on blue and picks hard.

The question?

"The Statue of Liberty was a gift from what country?"

MamaTea thinks: Seriously? The kid is not going to get this. I mean, come on. I don't ever remember even mentioning anything about...

Iggy says, "France."

Shut up. How did he know that?

Now that, my friends, was not the warm heart part. What happened next was.

Because he chose and answered a "hard" question, he gets, as a prize, a big blow up ball. It was the very last one available to win. He takes the ball, walks it over to this kid he doesn't know, and gives it to him.

Mamatea: Um....you don't have to give your toy away, Iggy.
Iggy: No. Its ok. I won it for him.

Apparently, a bit farther away from us, an older boy (maybe 10) had been picking on a younger boy (maybe 8). The younger boy wanted to answer a hard question and win that last ball. The older boy had already won a few blow up balls and was pestering the younger boy about how he (the older one) was going to answer another hard question and win another blow up ball and there wouldn't be any left for the younger boy to win.

Apparently Iggy watched this all take place, and felt bad for the younger boy. And that is why he wanted to answer a hard question. So he could win the blow up ball for that other boy.

Yep, my heart is warmish today. Hopefully yours is, too.

Monday, June 22, 2009

And then there was Guilt

Ooky said the other day, "I just hate my life." He's a bit spirited, perhaps explosive, and will probably teach me everything I don't know about the world.

Iggy, who always wants to come out looking shiny and sparkly, says, "Oh yeah, well I love my life. Love love love it."

I love my life, too. Which happened to be the topic of discussion with Hubster last night. Because while I really adore the life I have, I feel really really...well, guilty. Even though we're not in our own home in the town we had planned on being in (and that will come)...Life is so so good.

I have a simple life. We wake up, we explore and eat up the day, we go to bed.

Hubster said "You do more than that," and told me I shouldn't think that what I do during the day isn't considered valuable work.

But that wasn't what I meant. I didn't intend for the conversation to be a booster about all the little things I do during the day, and how much they mean. We've had that conversation a million times before. He tells me how much I do, and I tell him I'm quite thankful for the opportunity to do so (him coming from a family of siblings who all have double income households, making us the weird ones.)

What I meant is that while I'm at home with the kids catching turtles, playing bocce ball, hiking in the woods, going to art festivals, baking bread, weeding the garden, he's off dealing with the really crappy messed up part of the world. He's a deputy working the night shift. He gets called to deal with people who are kicking the crap out of each other. Busting into each other's houses. Suddenly dying. Etc., Etc., Etc. The way I see it, he gets the short end of the stick.

I'm not naive. I know People, and People will suggest to Hubster that if his Looney Whackjob Hippie Wannabe Wife would just put the kids in school and get a job, all the problems of the world will go away. Because Common Knowledge tells us that two incomes and public school means you never have financial problems, and your kids are perfect.

Hubster reminded me that the way People think isn't how he thinks, so who cares what People think.

I told him I feel guilty for the simpliticy and the fun and the peace that I get to have every day, and he's out dealing with the exact opposite.

Hubster told me I was nuts if I thought I had a peaceful life. After all, I have to deal with Screamy (meaning Ooky).

But I didn't mean Peaceful as in quiet. I meant Peaceful as in everything is right.

He said I shouldn't feel guilty for being happy.

I feel like I'm in this big shift of how I look at most everything. It started with reading lots about unschooling and blew up into this whole different way to look at life in general. I mean, really. Truly. Completely. Its the difference between skipping along on the surface...or jumping in and going all the way under and not caring if you come up for what others might consider air. Just strapping on your gills and breathing something completely different.

Hubster said he likes our simple life. Hubster said that I am his normal in a world of insanity. And that I shouldn't worry. Or feel guilty.

I'll have to work on that.

Friday, June 19, 2009

What's the word?

Ooky wanted to play hangman the other day. He tells me he wants to be the person who decides what word we're doing, and I'll be the guesser. I agree and he starts writing down dashes to represent where the letters will go.

I'm assuming, since we'd just been talking about Star Wars, that the word he's going to try and make me guess is Star Wars. The number of dashes don't fit, of course, but I knew they wouldn't. Invented Spelling Hangman is always a bit more fun anyway. :)

So I start guessing S and T and throw an R in there and I'm pretty sure that we're headed for Star Wars. I guess a W and he says "No."

"Are you sure there's no W?" I ask.

Hmmm. So I start thinking of all the other words he might be doing, taking out some vowels of course because he generally forgets about them and we stick them in later.

"Mom" he says. "I'll give you a hint. How about you guess a letter...that kinda looks like a ghost that's upside down."


"Oh," I say. "U."

A vowel? Wow.

"Correct!" he answers, and writes it down.

So now I'm totally confused and the letters I'm guessing aren't fitting in. Finally I'm ready to give up.

Ooky says, "Why don't I just tell you what the word is."


"It's 'struggle', Mom."


"Yes, Mom. Struggle."

Well, alrighty then.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

If you give your kids an...

... instrument, or the materials to build one, they will create a band. They will name their band Bikini Wicked Wake Up. They will ask you to get out your own guitar and play the bass line to Seven Nation Army. They will make up their own words to the song because they can't remember the real words. And you will laugh. Really hard. And smile. Really big.

(I was really hoping the video we took would load, but since its not working as of right now, I'll have to give you kinda sorta actiony shots. Should the Powers That Be be more cooperative at a later time, I will add the video then. Telling you its hilarious would be an understatment.)

If you give a kid a ball and some safety cones, they will create a makeshift bowling game.

If you give a kid a croquet mallet, he might surprise you by actually playing the game. With new rules, of course, because who actually understands the official rules of that game?

If you give a kid some bocce balls, you'll get an awesome picture that captures just how silly and insane this sweetie pie is...and then you'll wonder if it was a safe idea to give him really heavy solid could-possibly-be-used-as-weapons type balls in the first place.

random backyard beauty

Chillin' out

The backyard art studio and the things boys create

Laughing at a funny joke

Butterflies and bees

Truly, our days are quite lovely. :)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

What's in a name?

I remember sitting at a homeschool gathering and listening to one of my buddies talk about how she feels she doesn't fit in. Anywhere. Even with most homeschoolers. Because even though she teaches her kids at home, her methods and ideology are often questioned by whoever she is with. The classical method people thought she was way too relaxed. The unschoolers thought she was too structured. And whoever is middle of the road thought she was too far reaching of either side of middle to be truly called middle. She attends church, but isn't homeschooling for religious reasons. To be involved in a group setting of Christian homeschoolers is sometimes far too evangelical and preachy for her tastes, but the secular homeschooling groups sometimes assume you're flat out atheistic.

She doesn't fit.

What exactly is in a name? And why do we feel the need to label who we are? Is it because it makes other people "like us" easier to find, or does it actually work against us, because we have preconceived notions of what those other labels are?

It reminds me a little bit of high school. You had all those different groups and the people who fit into them. And then there was this odd sect of the school population that didn't really fit anywhere and were kind of forgotten about. They just kind of "were". That's where I would have been. I wasn't enough of any certain one group to be lumped in with them, nor did I want to be lumped into anything. I just kind of went about my daily thing and "was".

I think that's how I still am, I guess.

People impose labels for whatever reason...to group others who might be similar with each other. To find others who might be like or unlike themselves. But it doesn't always work. A lot of people would consider me an unschooler. But some unschoolers might say I'm not. A lot of people would consider me a Christian. A lot of Christians are uncomfortable with my questions of the faith and the broader sense of beliefs that I give to my kids. A lot of people would consider me homey or old fashioned or simple. But i've visited with some conservative christian families who would say I'm not any of the three.

So what's in a name? How do you think you might be labeled...and do those labels work for you? Why or why not? What issues have you had with being labeled...and what in the world to we teach our kids about how genuine labels are?

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Our own Sunday Funnies

Iggy and Ooky have this fascination with spitting. I don't get it. Yesterday they went at it again. Spit on the ground, spit in the creek, spit kinda sort of close to each other...

MamaTea: Guys, stop spitting.

The boys are apparently deaf, because Iggy continues to spit. I am starting to think he has over active salivary glands.

MamaTea: Seriously guys?

Ooky fires himself up to return a whopping wad of spit at his brother, but before he does, he gets himself into prime fighting mode by pulling the power rangers mask he had sitting on top of his head down onto his face.

Then he spits.

Then you hear...

Ooky: Oh. I guess that doesn't work when you have a mask on.

So now Ooky has a mask full of spit, and Iggy is kind of grossed out at the thought of having a mask full of spit.

Problem solved. :)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Freaky Friday: Its not always necessary to point it out

A couple days ago we were running deliveries around the state for my mom's pet food business. I really like this day of the month because it takes me about 90 minutes south to a lovely and simple farming community where I can breathe easier and smile a lot. This, dear blogging buddies, is where "my peeps" live.

The couple customers/families we deliver to there are so very lovely - I do enjoy spending time talking with them. Both are homeschooling families; one a die hard unschooler, the other conservative christian, classical method. The kids all run and play together while the adults have rip roaring wonderful and respectful discussions.

On this particular recent delivery day, Iggy and Ooky were tearing around the yard with the conservative Christian family's two boys (ages 9 and 11, I think) and after some time, I told them it was time to go. Iggy and Ooky loaded into the van and grabbed their Leapsters, getting ready for the 90 minute ride home. The adults were still saying goodbyes, and so the other two boys were kind of leaning into the van, watching Iggy and Ooky. This is how the conversation went:
Other Two: What game is that?
Ooky: Its Spongebob.
Other Two: Oh.
Ooky: Its for my Leapster. What kind of Leapster games do you have?
Other Two: None.
Ooky: Oh.
Other Two: We don't really have games like that.
Ooky: Oh.
Other Two: We do have Legos, though.
Ooky: I like Legos...
Other Two: But I guess Legos isn't really a game.
Then it was time to go.

I thought about this after. A few months ago I would have probably spent a lot of time talking about the ways the other family is different from us in some sort of effort to "open their eyes to the different culture"...or something like that. Talking about the conservative Christian aspect, how they don't have a tv or Leapsters,the girls all wear dresses, why they live the way they live, etc., and blah blah blah. But for some reason, in that moment while we were pulling out of the driveway, it just didn't seem important. Because from what I had gathered, my boys didn't think it was weird that the Other Two didn't have Leapsters, and the Other Two didn't think it neccessary to assert why they didn't have them. Both sets of kids were pretty much like this is the way I live, and it didn't go any farther than that. No judgement. No explanation. No nothing. Movin' on.

Sometimes I think we as adults can mess this part up. Making too much of something before we even need to. Because I really think that if I had gone into pointing out the differences between our two famililies in a totally innocent attempt to "educate the kids on cultural differences", there would have been something different about how they played next time we were together. Dare I say that pointing out the other families differences may have let that unspoken freakiness factor creep in? You would hope it wouldn't...but one never knows. Even if the discussion about their differences was surrounded by different is ok, sometimes pointing the differences out can make things afterwards weird.

I mean, really. Its obvious the kids don't much care. Why ruin a good thing?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Inside Ooky's world

Ooky: Mom, what does "oddball" mean?
Mamatea: Why do you ask?
Ooky: I dunno.
Mamatea: Did someone call you an oddball?
Ooky: (silent)
Mamatea: Well, it usually means different. You know, a little bit crazy. A person who likes to do things a different way.
Ooky: (no response)
Mamatea: You know, I'm kind of an oddball.
(Ooky gets this totally incredulous look on his face.)
Ooky: You are not an oddball, Mom. You are totally normal.

Oh. No. I have completely skewed his sense of normal.

Insert evil laughter here. A couple times. And again.

Ooky drew some pictures today and asked me if I could write down the words for the story for him because he couldn't write fast enough to keep up with his brain. Here are a couple of excerpts from his book (without pictures, sorry.)

"This is Mallard, the duck. He lives in a cave with a spot of water and a spot of land. He has toy minnows he got from the fishing store. He plays with his minnows all day and night. But he sleeps about ten hours at night, too."

"This is killer whale and his name is Killer. He is 500 years old. He got to be so old because his birthday is before everyone else's. His favorite dessert is chocolate cake. His favorite thing about being in the water is that he gets to eat other squids. The part he doesn't like about the water is all his friends go away, like the squids and Dolphee and the Diver." Mamatea's note: his friend the squid? You mean the ones he likes to eat?

"Ok, this is the last one. He's an octopus and his name is Squidee. He likes to travel in different seas. His favorite one is the Africa Sea because that's when his friends traveled with him."

Ah, Ooky. He just makes me smile.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Moments Like These...

...are why the rat race kind of issues that arise at swimming lessons (see yesterday's post) bug me so much. Our life is just so not that. Example:

Iggy and Ooky decide they are going to build a tent out of gym mats.

At some hour of the night (that I'm sure i'm a terrible parent for letting them even know exists) they crawl inside and snuggle in for a good night's sleep.

About three minutes later, the two campers arrive at my bedside and decide that since its a dadless night, hogpiling on mom would be far more fun than camping in that dark ol' tent anyway.

Perfect. And yes, that is my oldest son, Iggy, in a silky pastely pj top intended for girls. He bought it at a garage sale because it has bloodhounds on it and he likes bloodhounds "and the feel of silky things, mom."

You go, my big little man. :)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Crabby Cave Dwelling Mom vs. Swimming Lessons

Last January we found this lovely place for Iggy and Ooky to take swimming lessons. We loved the teacher, daytime class sizes were tiny, and it was never busy. It was a-w-e-s-o-m-e.

And then came summer.

The plan was to take one more session of lessons and then be done for awhile. Iggy and Ooky are past the point of buzzin' through their lessons and are at a place where whatever skills they pick up in a lesson will have to sink in for sometime before they would "pass" another level. So we'd figure out what skills they needed to work on, and then stop official lessons and spend our own time working on those skills. I'm not one to pay someone else to oversee my kids reviewing things that just take time to figure out.

So today, we walk into our first lesson of the new session, expecting things to be just as they were before. You know, one class in the pool....six kids, very minimal stress...

Yeah. Right.

We have seven classes going on at the same time. There are so many parents and kids watching the swimming lessons that I don't know if I can (or should) sit down anywhere. I have no clue where the kids teacher is. There is no indication of where level whatever is. Everyone is walking around looking totally lost.

I find the lifeguard, who I have talked to many times before, who smiles at me and says "Welcome to summer lessons." She tells me where she thinks Ooky's lessons are. Iggy and I sit. We are next to a table and decide we probably aren't going to be able to play cards like usual. Its hard to do that when there are kids climbing on and sitting on top of it. There are kids behind us walking between the glass wall and the line of chairs against it. All the moms are calling kids and yelling at kids and freaking out at kids and wondering where kids are and yadda yadda.

Focus on the pool, shall we? Some upper level class who is working on the backstroke (I think) is kind of jumbled up because some lower level class just had a bunch of kids jump in the pool over the top of the kids who are backstroking. And no one looked too concerned. Me, I'm seriously wondering if I'm in the right place.

Iggy's class is after Ooky's class and its another hour of acid bubbling in my stomach and crawling up my throat. Not necessarily because I was worried something bad was going to happen (even though it could have), it was more along the lines of feeling like we were a room full of cattle, being pushed through the swimming lesson thing as fast as we could so someone could make some serious ching.

After the lesson, we waited in line for 15 minutes to get into the locker room to change. And some of us couldn't wait in line like actual adults. We had to, dare I say, cut in line and rush for the door when someone was done! Iggy had to use the bathroom but couldn't because some yahoo decided the family style bathroom would be a good place to change her four kids. Nevermind that if you're in there, no one else can pee!

Whatever. I kept my cool. And when I got home, I made a phone call to this establishment. Below is a very brief summary of what happened.
Me: Your summer lessons are stressful and totally lame.
Them: You can't cancel. No refunds.
Me: You could keep my money in your account and I will use it in fall or winter when I don't have to trip over a thousand people on my way to the pool.
Them: Nope, sorry.
They then insinuated that I was irresponsible for signing up for classes and wanting to cancel when there were so many people who were sitting on a waiting list right now. But then when I said I would gladly trade my summer spot for one in fall, they said "And who would we get to take your spot?"


So dear buddies of blogland, what would you do? Eat the $66 you paid for lessons and pull the kids, or figure out a way to stick it out? We have seven lessons left (one month, twice a week.) Is my sanity worth something, or is this more about sticking with something we committed to? Am I an over sensitive homeschooler, or someone who "gets it"?

And WHY is the world obsessed with fastquickeverythingrightnow and thinking that they have to do things a certain way even though the stress that accompanies it is ridiculous?

Perhaps its just another reason we chose to homeschool. To be out of all that.

Monday, June 8, 2009

In Their Own Words...

This weekend I was away at a planning meeting for a group I'm finishing up my last year in (nothing to do with homeschooling). At the meeting, we were presented with letters from our kids - basically interviews the Dads had done, asking questions and writing down what the darlings had answered.

I know. Too awesome. And of course I have to share...

What makes your mom special?
Iggy - We love her. We wouldn't even exist without her. We like to play with her.
Ooky - If she didn't exist she couldn't tuck us in for bedtime. If she wasn't born ever, we wouldn't have her.

What is one thing you love that your mom does?
Iggy - Helps me find my eight million dolls.
Ooky - Bakes with me.

What do you miss most about your mom when she is gone?
Iggy: I don't really know because we have boys days when she's gone and those are pretty fun.
Ooky: All of her.

What does your mom do that makes you proud?
Iggy: Plays badminton
Ooky: Is on my team for badminton

What is one thing you'd like to tell your mom?
Iggy: That my brother keeps doing it.
Ooky: That is all my brother's fault.

I especially love that last one. Because I was of course assuming I'd get a sweet somewhat staged nugget about being a fantastic mom. But no. Given the chance, the ONE thing they want to tell me is that their brother is the source of all pain and anquish in the world.

Perfect. :)

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Life with Boys

Iggy approaches me the other day with this lovely uniform.
"What do you plan on doing with all that on?" I ask.
"I'm doing Extreme Bailing," he answers.
"Extreme Bailing, Mom. Bailing out from a wagon going down the hill. Or maybe I'll purposely bail off my bike."

Some boy moments actually are kinda quiet. When they stop for half a second. It happens every so often.

But mostly, its loud. Or messy. And sometimes a bit dangerous.

Its a bit of a crazy life, living with boys. We dig giant worm pits, have light saber fights, make diet coke fountains, and bail out of wagons. Its a messy life. The ring around the bathtub never seems to go away. But I wouldn't want it any other way :)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Freaky Friday: Random freakiness

Alas...we arrive at another freaky friday. Where you get to find out a little bit (or a lotta bit) of "offness" that lives inside of MamaTea.

Here's a website that's a little "freaky". Go visit it...especially if you have kids who are obsessed with the bathroom habits or body noises. Whopooped.org is a little trivia type game from the Minnesota Zoo about animal scat. The boys loved it, are now reciting lovely facts to anyone who will listen...and I even learned a thing or two. At the end, you get a "Poop Expert" certificate to print off. We have two proudly displayed on the fridge here.

Here's something I thought was a little "freaky", but in a different sense. A college here that most people know simply as St. Kate's is changing its name from college to university Um, seriously? In this economy....you're going to change your name? What about all the banners/signs/letterhead/etc/etc/etc you're going to have to re-do now? There's been all sorts of things published about why the name is changed - and I don't understand any of it. So maybe I'm the freaky one. Is there really that big of a difference between a college and a university? Does it really make that much better of an impression on your resume if it says university? I mean, I didn't graduate from a college or a university(and therefore have a lame resume anyway), so perhaps this is something I'm extremely uneducated about. Fill me in. Who is freaky here - me for not getting it, or the school for thinking the name is going to draw more people?

And last but not least in freakiness is the new hands-on-CPR we learned about on television the other day. "We don't breathe anymore?" I asked deputy and former fireman Hubster. He informed me that people are a little weird about germs. Throughout a bit of reading I did, it was insinuated that the upper-uppers decided more people would do CPR if they didn't have to worry about the "mouth to mouth" part. Hmmm. Perhaps its just me, but met with the decision of try to save a life vs. suck up some germs...hmmm. But then you know me. I'm just freaky.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Genuine Kids

My kids have an unsquashed love to feel and explore the world. It can be exhausting.

My kids are intense. Explosively colorful. I sometimes describe them as super high bouncy balls in a room full of sunken golf balls. My brain usually gets painfully tangled up as it tries to wrap itself around what exactly is going on inside them. Not to mention, I'm physically tired.

Enter homeschooling, which works out pretty well for us, in that they can explore that intensity. That excitement. That emotion. That need to know. The millions of questions. Etc. Etc. And on and on.

Then again, there is that whole issue of being out in public and relating with the world. For instance, the poor checkout girl, who very recently engaged my children in conversation (and soon after, wondered what she was thinking) and got an earful from Iggy and Ooky about everything from homeschooling ("except that we don't really do school like most kids do school, ya know.") to beverage choice ("we love to drink coffee. Mostly only big people drink coffee, but we really like it so we drink it too.") to extracurricular activities ("oh today? today we're going to a cemetery. we visit them a lot to look for really old graves. we try to figure out why they died...") All in the time it takes to pay for gas and a couple treats.


Another time (last week) we were at a canine festival and stumbled upon some kid games that my lil' darlings wanted to play. They were a quarter a piece and you won a prize. Perfect. So Iggy, who is six, is so gosh darn excited to play this game, and he's making it pretty apparent to everyone around how excited he is. Not necessarily loud and obnoxious, just excited. To play a bean bag game. The boy scout (9? 10 years old?) is looking at Iggy like he's got six heads. I clearly saw him thinking Seriously. Its a bean bag game. You are weird. But Iggy didn't care. He just went on being Iggy.

Anti-homeschooling folk might say in the first example that my kids were talking the checkout ladies ear off because they are absoultely starved for social contact. And then I would counter that, no, they aren't starved for the opportunity to talk, its that they aren't afraid to talk to anyone...and you should be careful engaging them in conversation. Because they aren't afraid to take you on.

In the second example, Iggy was genuinely excited. Anti-homeschooling folk might say its because he's so sheltered that an otherwise lame bean bag game would entertain him. I counter with, nope. He just likes it. And he's not afraid to show it. Sorry.

I don't usually post anything outright anti-public school, because I'm really a live and let live kind of gal. But I will say that I often wonder if they gone to public school, would this kind of thirst for everything that's out there, and the intensity that comes along with it, still exist? Or would it have been squashed out of them? Would they have just smiled at the checkout girl? Would they have passed by the bean bag game because it was babyish? Or would they have still been genuinely Iggy and Ooky?

Hmmm. It makes me wonder.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

I don't get it

If Hubster reaches down into the creek and grabs a baby painted turtle and lets the boyshold it, love it, and feel its scratchy claws on their skin, that is "messing around by the bridge"...

...But if we go to a nature center and see a painted turtle behind glass, that's an "educational field trip"?

If my kids spontaneously and by their own choice build two fishing poles out of Magnetix toys, stand atop the couch and fish for creatures made out of other Magnetix, they are "just playing"...

...But if I create a detailed lesson plan about magnetism and order them to use magnets to build something functional and/or fun...that's "learning"?

If Ooky bakes a pudding cake, almost completely by himself, he's "being cute", "making a mess" or "making dessert"...

...But if Ooky would have made it in school, it would have been considered a "fantastic home ec. project"?

If we play a game of badminton or field hockey in the backyard, we're just "running off some energy"...

...But if we were to do it at school, it would be considered gym?

When you really look at the world and realize that learning is happening just as often and as naturally as breathing does, you can't go back. You can't shut off that realization. You look at the world in a completely different way. Forever. I really feel in the last couple months a light has been turned on for me, and its almost so bright it makes my head spin. Sometimes it hurts my eyes.

I wonder why other people don't see it.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Creeks and Chips

We have a lovely classroom, don't we?

This is our creek. Iggy is concerned its unhealthy. We've talked about wetlands and researched them quite a bit, so he's aware that wetlands have a job to do. The water moves very slowly through it, and all the "stuff" is filtered out of it before it makes its way to the bigger body of water (in our case, the Rum River). But with all that happening, all that stuff getting taken out, the "stuff" is kind of sucked up into our shores. And after many many years of this happening, you can see how the shape of the creek changes. Its getting narrower. As Iggy says, there is land where there shouldn't be land. And we have to do something.

Iggy is going to save the world.

We traipsed out into areas we don't usually go to check out an old contraption the previous owners (a really long time ago) had put into the creek as a means of diverting some of the water. I'm not too sure how exactly it worked, but Iggy wanted to see it. The creek in our backyard is actually two creeks; a good chunk of it is manmade by the original owners of the house and the second is part of a larger creek - the one that eventually makes it to the Rum. (I learned this just a few days ago...and I have lived in this house all together how many years? The things you pick up when your kids start asking questions...its amazing.)

Anyhow, so its a constant wonder of how to help the creek. Its kind of doing what nature wants to do, I think. Which is go back to how it first was many many years ago. Its filling in and closing up. I still think it would be many years until this completely happened, but you can definitely tell its in the process. So Iggy is hell-bent on turning the process around.

Do they make chest waders for six year olds?

Evening came and we made homemade chips and dip. Got the idea from RuralMama They were divine. It was a race to see who would get the last chip.

We also enjoyed some lovely vegetables shredded up and fried in a pan with a bit of butter. I love vegetable night. My mom runs a pet food store (raw diet) and every month she has to make cultured vegetables. We get the "extras" to fry up for supper.

And there you have it. A day centered around creeks and chips. Who woulda thunk it?

Monday, June 1, 2009

So different: Tooth Edition

So Iggy (6) has lost 4 teeth thus far in life. Everything was always a big deal, a bit of a production. A happy production, but a production nonetheless.

Ooky, who just turned 5 in April, joined the world of tooth loss yesterday. Which was a surprise to me a) because I wasn't home when it happened and b)I wasn't aware he had a loose tooth.

If it were Iggy, he would have told me 17 times a day that he still had a loose tooth and how close it was to coming out. But Ooky...no such thing as making a big deal about having a loose tooth. (Which is ironic, because in every part of life, he's drama all the way.)

This is how the event played itself out. I arrived home from grocery shopping to my father telling me Ooky lost a tooth. I said something like, "He WHAT?", immediately assuming that it was because the two brothers had popped each other in the face or Ooky had flown over the handle bars of his bike. But I was wrong about that, too.

I fly down the stairs to see Ooky, expecting this giant production.

MamaTea: Oh my gosh, Ooky, you lost a tooth?!?!
Ooky: (very unimpressed) Yeah.
MamaTea: Let's see!
Ooky: (opens his mouth) It kind of feels weird.
MamaTea: Yep, that happens sometimes. So where is the tooth?
Ooky: I think I swallowed it.
MamaTea: You what??
Ooky: Well, I don't know where it is. I think I swallowed it.
(Notice the lack of exclamation points in Ooky's commentary?)
MamaTea: Well...ok. I'm sure the tooth fairy will still come. She knows whenever you lose a tooth.
Ooky: Ok.
MamaTea: So what exactly were you doing when you lost it?
Ooky: Walking up the sidewalk.
MamaTea: And you don't know where the tooth is?
Ooky: I think I swallowed it.
(My dad tells me then they looked all over the sidewalk and couldn't find it, so perhaps he did in fact swallow it.)
Ooky: Yeah, I think I swallowed a lump.
MamaTea: Oh...ok...well, its ok. I think your stomach acid will take care of it.

Well, I decide I'm going to look outside because I just don't think he swallowed it. Sure enough, I found it next to the faucet for the hose. Don't ask me HOW it got there, WHY I thought to look there, or HOW I even saw it. Its like smaller than a kernel of corn. A white tooth on a white sidewalk. Anyhow. I presented the tooth to Ooky, who then showed some excitement because he actually had something to put under his pillow. He commented it was the best day ever.

Then this morning:
Ooky: Look what the tooth fairy brought me!
MamaTea: Wow! She came! (etc, etc, etc,)
Ooky: (sits down on the couch and turns on the tv)
MamaTea: Well, do you want to count it?
Ooky: Ok.
We count the money.
MamaTea: So...that's pretty awesome, huh? Now you have some garage saling money, right?!!
Ooky: (let's out a bit of sigh) Mom, I just don't really get what the big deal is about this.

Oh my. Sooooooo different than Iggy. Oh. My.