Saturday, January 30, 2010

important but difficult

Our "schoolish" life is a hip happening place to be.

ziggurats built out of boxes

pharaoh Ooky

trying our hand at cuneiform

winter surfing

and all over general silliness

But there's other stuff. Like things that are starting to happen because of my last post. Big things, but hard things. Important, but difficult.

After writing my last post, I came to the realization that I often (without realizing it) expect things from my kids that I don't expect from myself. Or assume that I am already doing, but in reality, I'm not. I could have continued on unharmed after that smack upside the head realization, but really, it flattened me for awhile. And the more I paid attention to our conversations, unspoken exchanges, etc...the more I found that I didn't like. And a good chunk of that was what I saw on the MamaTea end of things, not the Iggy-Ooky end of things.

So instead of writing in my blog and wasting countless hours on Facebook, I've been reading. And listening. And thinking. And hopefully, changing.

It's big stuff. Like me learning to say half of what I want to, which is still probably more than I should, but its a step in the right direction.

Like me, spending less time trying to be what I'm not, and focusing more on being who I am.

Like me, looking at my behavior and my intentions and picking them apart. Why do I do what I do? Why did I just say what I said? Why am I planning to do what I'm planning? Why do I make the choices I make? No, now go back and answer that honestly, MamaTea. And when I can sit with myself in real honesty, I really don't like what I find. I mean, really. The intentions behind my actions aren't always noble or pretty.

I've been really trying hard to just live in this moment. And this one. And this one. And realizing that it isn't some cliche quote at the bottom of someone's email...but finding out what each and every word means for me.

I've been sitting and being with life for real. Knowing what works our family and being ok with it. Realizing there will always be issues, and sometimes they aren't issues that need to be fixed. Does that make sense? Sometimes there just isn't a solution to the problem. Sometimes the solution is figuring out how to deal with the problem until the problem takes a break. And sometimes you just have to be ok with that.

Its an interesting place to explore, not one that I've ever been able to sit inside of and be comfortable. Its a good place, but a hard place. An important place. And I know that my sitting inside of it can help every relationship I have.

I will never understand why stuff like this isn't part of the national standards.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

do as I say, not as I do

I'm not a person (read: mom) who takes a liking to having to remind people (read: kids) to do something a billion times (read: more than once). Consider it a glitch in my brain, but I'm wired to see a failure to respond to "remember, its your night to set the table..." as flat out anarchy against authority (read: mom). If a kid says "in a minute"...they're just brushing you off. They are so obviously saying "What you have to say is not important. And anyway, you're a goon."

Um, right?

Yesterday at 2:00, the boys said they were hungry (when aren't they??)and asked for some apples and peanut butter. I told them I would get some for them in a few minutes.

(Which, buy the way, is not the same as saying "Just a minute" it?)

They cheerfully said ok and disappeared back to The Wonderful World of Legos.

I had every intention of getting the apples for them. Truly, it was right there. Right in the forefront of my mind.

And then I remembered I had to put that order into Amazon.
Then I had to help a customer of my mom's.
Then I remembered I had to bring a load of stuff to the backyard.
Then I had to put the dogs out.
Then the woodstove needed to be stocked up.
Then I had to make sure I had the ingredients for supper.
Now its time to open the box I got in the mail.
What a cool book I ordered...I am so excited to read this....

At 4:00, there came a boy to the kitchen table.
I'm so hungry, he said. Can we have those apples and peanut butter yet?

Two o clock to four o clock is far longer than a few minutes, I hear.

Don't you love when Life smacks you upside the head and pokes around inside you to point out all the ironies? Those things you get so upset about in other people... but are guilty of doing yourself? Knocks you down a few notches, tells you to stop being so serious, and by the way, you ARE a goon?

Yes, the kids got their apples.
And I learned my lesson. ;)

Friday, January 15, 2010

The magic of little boys

Sometimes its amazing what things can turn into. Other times, its downright magical.

Little pieces of paper, when correctly folded, will turn into pyramids.

And then little boys will draw pictures on them of dead pharaohs...complete with "blood from when they were killed"...just because they are boys.

Sugar cubes, when stacked in the right mathematical order, will form a lovely step pyramid.

And then little boys will ask you 14 times if they can eat the sugar cubes. And then they will ask again. And again.

An old bedsheet, when cut up into strips, will make lovely mummy bandages.

And then, one little boy will ask you "If we are making mummies of our dolls, does that mean we get to cut the dolls open and pull out their guts to put in canopic jars?"

And then the other little boy will ask, "Yeah...can we pull out their brains through their noses with a hook?"

Legos, when stacked on top of a mummified doll, will make perfect Egyptian amulets (good luck charms).

And then, little boys will tell you the legos they chose to be amulets were "special". And what they mean by special is not "good luck charm" special, but "that's the one piece I wanted play with after school today" special.

But they won't tell you this until the amulets are wrapped up under the final layer of linen, and the mummies are resting comfortably.

Little boys, when Mom remembers not to take herself so seriously, are absolutely perfect. ;)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

What works for one...

As a mom-teacher, its a good idea to have many different bags-o-tricks to dip into. Or at least a lot of creative friends with many bags-o-tricks. Because I'm learning, again and again, what works for one child does not work for the other.

Meet Iggy, my almost seven year old who learned how to read much the same way he learned how to breathe. Reading is his thing. He explains that he just "knows how" to do it.

His current daytime reading obsession revolves around:

(You'll have to tip your head to the left...darn pesky picture....)

Iggy: Mom...its a thick book. I can read thick books now, you know. So let's find the thick ones. They last longer.

Yes, dear. ;)

His nighttime reading selection is a bit more varied:

MamaTea: You really need all these books in bed with you?
Iggy: Yup.
MamaTea: Where exactly does your body fit in the bed?
Iggy. There is plenty of room.
Iggy loves to read. End of discussion.

Now meet almost six year old Ooky, who wants to read. Oh gosh, how he just wants to know what that word says!!! Not in the sense that he wants to sit down and read story books, but more in the sense that he wants to figure out the back of cereal boxes and instructions on the Wii games and other sorts of real life things. But he's all caught up in short vowels and long vowels and what do these letters make and this doesn't make any sense, I thought you said once that "oo" makes the sound in then why doesn't blood sound like mood?

Yeah. Exactly. Don't ask me...

I really don't want frustration to bash down the desire to read what Lego Indiana Jones just said on the Wii game. So we have to figure out how to explain it. And then we have to tweak it. And then we have to tweak it again.

Thank God for other homeschoolers. The ones you can sit down with and say "Ok, Long vowels. Really struggling. Any ideas?"

That's how we come up with things like:

You know how silent e makes the vowel "say its name"? I've politely pointed this out at least 13 or 25 or 48 times to the Ookster. But it wasn't clicking. So a fellow homeschooler (who remains blogless) suggested the Ookster give those long vowels a face. You know, because the silent e makes the vowel say its name. Therefore, in a silent e word, the vowel is like a person...with a name.


He totally got it. Totally. And now spends a lot of time talking about that cute little i guy I drew in the silent e word.

Another difference in the boys is while Oggy would like to sit and read a book, Ooky doesn't want to sit and do anything. So we've devised a game where we flop a bunch of words out around the room, and as long as Ooky can figure out the what the word says, he can jump (or otherwise move insanely) to the word. Active is good for him. And anytime Mom is encouraging jumping on the couch or down the stairs...its a good day. :)

With Iggy, I see the "if its quiet, I can concentrate" thought process.
With Ooky, I'm pretty sure its the exact opposite. The louder and crazier and active it is, the better his brain works.
Maybe I could borrow a little of that sometime? I'd be a far more sane Mom-Teacher.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Um...yep, I planned it that way

Maybe it was just a strange coincidence, but our current dive into the study of Ancient Egypt came exactly 24 hours after the boys became obsessed with a certain Indiana Jones Lego Wii game.

I'd been considering a trip through Ancient Egypt for quite some time. I mean, nothing says boyish fun like removing organs from dead pharaohs or the how'd they do it mystery of building the pyramids. So I'd picked up some books along the way and was writing it into our plan of fun.

About the same time, a sweet Ooky, with his own saved up money, bought an Indiana Jones Lego Wii game. Why? Not because he knew anything about Indiana Jones. Nope, it was for the sheer delight of kickin' some brick in another Lego Wii game.

Note: If you're not a fan of Indiana Jones, you're not seeing how this is related. Just wait.

When we sat down for some schoolish delight the beginning of January and I brought them into the world of Ancient Egypt, they went wacky silly crazy and I thought "Wow...what a love of learning these kids have." That was, of course, until I heard shouts of Mom!! That's where Indiana Jones takes place. Egypt!! That's where the game is! We play the game in Egypt! That's what he's exploring!! This will be so awesome!! Thank you, Mom!

Now you might think that's kinda funny, but the really funny part is that MamaTea, who was two years old when the original Indiana Jones movie came out, and who has not played Indiana Jones Lego Wii...said "Egypt? No...I think you're mistaken."

Yeah. Laugh your pants off, people. Because after I was told to watch the boys play the Wii game and had to sit down and watch the original Indiana Jones movie...well, lookee there. Egypt.

So now the boys think I planned this all out. You know, the all of a sudden obsession with Indiana Jones...and Mom all of a sudden breaking out the cool Ancient Egypt stuff.

Maybe I'll just let them think that they are right.... ;)

Here's just a (very) few of the things we've been working on. More to come....

Playing a game of Egyptian checkers

Carving a scarab beetle out of soap

Iggy's finished product

Iggy and Ooky's timelines of their life
(to help understand the timelines we look at for our studies of Ancients)

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A New Year of...disapproval?

When you are a Mom-Teacher, and you sit down to reflect over the past year, you hope to remember happy, peaceful, "I'm so glad they picked up on that" moments spent with your offspring students.

You are sometimes surprised, however, to get bolted in the face with the very recent memory titled The Moment my Almost Six Year Old Turned Into The Parent, And I (the one who is supposed to be the Mom) Felt Like A Disobedient Teenager.

It went something like this:

MamaTea: Ooky, I'll be gone tomorrow for a little while.
Ooky: Where are you going?
MamaTea: Well, tomorrow is the last day of the year and I have to use up my gift certificate for my tattoo before it expires.
Ooky: Tattoo? Like a temporary one?
MamaTea: No, like a real one. My first real one.

At this point, Ooky screws up his face into the most horrific expression of disapproval I have ever seen on anyone's face this side of 80.

Ooky: You are not getting a tattoo, Mom.
MamaTea: Um, actually I am.
Ooky: But Mom. They use needles. Real needles, Mom.
MamaTea: Yes, Ooky. That's how the ink gets into your skin.
Ooky: But you're probably going to bleed to death. And then you're going to die.

I should point out here that you're going to bleed to death was not stated with weepy eyes or given in an I'm so scared for my Mama quivery voice. It was just said very matter of factly. You're going to bleed to death. And then you're going to die.

Well, obviously.

MamaTea: Do you really think I would willingly go into a tattoo shop if I thought I was going to bleed to death and then I was going to die?
Ooky: Well, no. Probably not. But you will bleed. A lot.
MamaTea: I really don't think so.

The longer the conversation continued, it became very interesting to me how you could so easily change his comments to "parent" and mine to "rebel teenager".

Ooky: Well, I really don't think its a good idea.
MamaTea: Thanks for your opinion. I bet you'll think its cool when I come home and you see it.
Ooky: Mom? I don't want to see it. I don't even want to look at you after you get a tattoo.

Seriously, it was like staring into the glaring eyes of a parent with their arms forcefully crossed, telling me, "No can do! Absoutely not! I am soooooo not letting you do this. I totally disapprove..."

So what did I do?
Like the disobedient teenager....I got the tattoo. **

I couldn't take the bandage off until the next morning. When I arrived home, Ooky ws caught up in Wii and New Years Eve excitement to care much about my arrival home. But the next morning, when he had somewhat regained his senses, he asked (still very serious and flat and disapproving) "So. What does the tattoo look like?"

I showed him.
"Hmmm." he said.
And after a long pause, he continued, "It's kind of pretty. I guess."
And then he walked away.

So does that mean we made up?
I guess.
Even though my last memory of 2009 will be a severe scolding from an almost six year old for something I chose to do, I will still consider the event a success because a) it reminds me that I have a child who will stick up for what he thinks, even if it means he doesn't agree with his Mama...and b) it will be hilarious to remind him of this in ten years when he's asking his Mom or Dad to sign for him at the tattoo shop.


** Tattoo symbolizes: green and blue are colors of nature, celtic knot signifies the interconnectedness of everything, star symbolizes the story ot the starfish (the man who walks along the beach throwing all the starfish back because "it matters to that one".)