Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Big Question

We had a very relaxed week.  Very relaxed.  A highlight of our day yesterday - no, the highlight of our day - was spending 20 minutes watching the Duckling's beloved lamb go round and round in the washing machine.  They both had fits of the giggles whenever they caught sight of her peeking out at them.

The Monkey spent a lot of time reading this week.  And when I say a lot, I mean he read two chapter books yesterday plus a variety of picture books as well as what we call "learning books" (mostly books about Egypt these days.)  In  one sitting, he read a 100+ page Geronimo Stilton book and at another point during the day, he read the book A Grain of Rice.  Ironically, I worry about his reading because he seems to be reading too fast to absorb the information. But, when I ask him to tell me about the book, he does. And, when he's reading a book like Geronimo Stilton, he is laughing out loud.  I check in with him often and ask him to read me a page from whatever book he's finished.  He seems to read fine but he does skip some occasional words that he isn't able to sound out.  I talked with him about the importance of reading all the words so that he doesn't miss important information.  I gave him the example of when I read Harry Potter and get excited and can't wait to find out what happens. But, if I read too fast and skip parts, I end up missing information and then have to go back and re-read. We'll see if that helps him slow down his reading at all.  Or, maybe it isn't a problem at all and I'm trying to get him to read the way I read, rather than what is his natural reading style.  Oh, there's that de-schooling rearing it's ugly head again.

One of the books he's had in his hands a lot this week is It's So Amazing.  I had read most of it to him before he started reading but we skipped the section on sexual intercourse, as I wanted to wait until he was a bit older.  He knows all the basics already – the egg, the sperm, the body parts, etc., as well as how both he and his sister were conceived with the help of a donor. Well, he read the whole book this week and here's the conversation that followed:

Monkey: Mama, I read that chapter that you had said I wasn't old enough for. Is it okay that I read it?

Mama: Yes, that's okay. Did you have any questions about anything you read?

Monkey: Well, I don't really understand what they meant by the word, um, six?

Mama: Do you mean "sex?" 
feeling nervous again about his reading comprehension

Monkey: Yes, sex. What does that mean?

Mama: It's a way that grown-ups love on each other.  Sometimes, when a man and a woman have sex and love on each other, they make a baby. It doesn't happen every time and there are other ways to make babies.  

Monkey: Oh, okay.

Mama: Do you have any other questions about sex or what you read about?

Monkey: Gets very pensive and lost in his head 
Yes, mama, I have a question.

Mama: My head starts spinning and I get nervous about what question is going to come next and how much detail he'll be asking for. 
Okay, go ahead.

Monkey: Mama, did the Egyptians use anything in between the big stones to help them stick together? Like glue or something?

I was reminded that kids absorb the information they are ready to hear. Exposing them to information about sex or any other topic that we, as adults, consider "difficult" is exactly what they need and we, the adults, need to trust their abilities to absorb and comprehend this information when they are developmentally ready to do so.  I was also reminded that it is better to approach these topics from a general view point and then narrow down the details as necessary and as they request it. 

Okay, I am a little relieved that I didn't have to answer any specific questions.  

He seems to have moved on from the book but it will, of course, remain available to him and to the Duckling. 

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Back in the Groove

After a few weeks off due to our Hurricane preparation followed by our Hurricane evacuation followed by our Hurricane recovery, we are finally back in the swing of things.  The Hurricane came almost a month ago. Thankfully, we were pretty well stocked and didn't have to do too much prep work. We bought ice, a few groceries, and some plywood for the windows. It took a days work to prepare the house and yard and get all of our supplies together and organized, in case of an emergency evacuation. We stayed in the house for the storm and, thankfully, the kids mostly slept through it.  The Duckling woke up but not because of the storm.  She was awake for a few hours because she wanted to swing outside. Yup, outside, at 2:00 a.m., in the middle of a Category 2 Hurricane. After an hour and half of hearing her whine about it, I almost said yes. 

After checking our house for damage and cleaning up our yard, we packed up the car and headed to a small town called Hutto, north of Austin.  It was the only hotel we could find.  We stayed there for almost two weeks, courtesy of FEMA (not sure how we were approved for that, given how poorly I filled out the application).  The hotel was nice. It had just opened so we were the first guests so it was very clean, which was great since hotels can make me feel a little dirty. It had a fridge, microwave, and, most importantly, electricity and air conditioning. We found some nice parks, flew kites, went into Austin to the nature center and botanical gardens, met up with fellow evacuees, and discovered a great donut shop.  We tried to make the most of it and turn it into a mini family vacation.  It was quite enjoyable until Sharyn had to leave after a week to get back to work. Then, it didn't feel like a vacation as much as being trapped in a 12'x12' room with my kids for 3 days straight.  I cried when I got the call that our power came back on.

Things are back to normal now, except for a huge tree limb that is still stuck in one of our trees that we can't get down. I'm not willing to pay to have it removed yet.  We had some water damage to a window sill that needs to be replaced and I am slowly re-stocking our fridge and freezer. Our deep freezer hasn't been plugged back in and I avoid looking it and the reminder of how much food was lost.  Of course, it is all replaceable and nothing important was lost. 

We are back into our routine for homeschooling.  We usually head to the work room at about 10:00 a.m. for an hour or so of sit down work. Of course, by "sit down", I mean I get up about 15 times – The Duckling has to pee, the Duckling needs more playdoh, The Monkey is thirsty, etc. etc.  This seems like it would break it all up nicely but each time it is a struggle to get the Monkey's attention back.  The hour usually includes Math which takes WAY too long because of how easily he gets distracted.  After that, we do a little handwriting practice and some copywork or narration.  Then, we move to the couch for reading history or science, his favorite part.  Fridays look different because we do logic, maybe some art, mad libs, etc.  

Our afternoons are full of activities. The Monkey has piano on Monday afternoons, which he seems to be enjoying and doing well with. Tuesday is homeschool PE followed by the Duckling's Kindermusic class, which she loves (and it is her first class without mama!).  Wednesday is nature class for both kids and Thursday is back to PE. We are free on Fridays but often meet at the playground with a playgroup or friends.  Somehow, I'm suppose to clean but that hasn't been working out very well so the woman who cleans our house will start up again this week.   I do manage to cook dinner and grocery shop.  In the evenings, I am often working on contract work for a few hours while Sharyn is getting the kids ready for bed.  

We may have found a babysitter, the idea of which makes me giddy!  I love my kids and I enjoy my days with them and can't imagine them being gone for 7 hours each day. But, jeez, I don't need to spend every minute with them, you know?  My kids aren't known for their hours of independent play. When I pee, they follow. When I shower, they stick their hands in to show me their Lego creations. When I get the mail, I trip on them when I turn around to come back in. When I cook, I step on their heads (seriously, it's happened more than once.)  A woman who lives down the road from us may come once a week for a few hours. She is an older, grandmother-y type but very active. She works a lot with homeschooled children but we made it clear that we only want babysitting (I suspect she is going to try to "teach" the Duckling so we'll have to have clear boundaries.) Although, she is free to read our supplemental science and history books all she wants! I have a hard time forking over the cash for what seems like an unnecessary expense but I try to remind myself that avoiding burnout is necessary.  But I seriously don't know what I will do with myself.  All of my ideas involve spending money or eating, both of which will stress me out in the long run. I'm committed to figuring it out. 

Now, some pics. 

Our new ant farm.  They did dig some tunnels but a lot of them are already dead. 

The Monkey made his name in cunniform in clay.

At our favorite playground in Hutto. The Monkey spent a lot of time climbing this tree.

The Duckling feeds the ducks. HA!  Well, really, this is the Duckling chasing the duck and throwing bread at it. The Duck wasn't hungry but that didn't stop her!

They're fishing. With sticks.  I'm not sure what they were planning on catching.

More pics from our evacuation

Our yard the morning after IKE. 

This one and the ones that follow are all from the Botanical Gardens in Austin.

A few more nature shots

A big lizard. They kept creeping up on us when we were sitting on some benches.  

Can you see the dragon fly on the flower?

Some funky dragons flies. I love how you can see their reflections so clearly and distinctly,  but they  are almost invisible.

Big spider!

My sweet family.