Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Park Days

Just some photos taken yesterday at the park hanging out with our local tribe. 

It was a glorious day, with perfect temperatures, a lovely breeze, and kids running, climbing, chasing, throwing water balloons, and more.  

Scotty, Dan & Forest in their favorite tree.  Dan is still wearing the removable velcro splint on his arm, after 6 weeks in a hard cast.  This Friday, we have one more series of x-rays and expect to be free of the splint entirely!  It's been an interesting spring without the usual activities. 

 I love park days like this! 

Tent Rocks Spring 2012

Wow, it's been a long time since I posted anything here! 18 months. 

So, it's not that we've done nothing in the past year and a half, just that I was lazy about getting the camera out, and even lazier about moving those pictures to my laptop. 

Dan's new haircut! First time in 6 years his hair has been this short.  

This past weekend, we had our annual hike of Tent Rocks, with several friends.  

Andy, sitting atop his favorite perch at the end of the climb.  Tent Rocks, called Kasha Katuwe in Keresan, the language of the local Pueblos is one of Andy's favorite places and it's become his annual pilgrimage.  Usually, we make the climb in March, tho this year we delayed to wait for Dan's broken arm to heal.  April 29th was a perfect day for the hike, tho.  Cloud cover for the climb, a nice breeze, blue skies and just perfect temperatures.  As a bonus, this year Andy drove to Tent Rocks!  

There was, of course, arm wrestling.  This is the only match that made it into the photo collection. 

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Soccer Season returns!

Soccer season is back in swing. Dan's team has by now played 5 games, losing only 1. He's having a great time, playing some time at goal keeper and forward. Here's a great shot of him returning the ball after stopping a goal attempt.

And Dan at forward.

He so loves playing soccer, and he's become really quite a good player.

Santa Fe Renaissance Fair

We also visited the Renaissance Fair in September. We saw the usual games and performance by Clan Tynker and picnicked. Dan almost got the prize on the Jacob's Ladder game.

Andy had to try out the stocks.

We also saw the small mill that was running, learned about how the mill works and that traditionally it was tended by children.

There was a CSA encampment, with archery, caber toss and other games. No jousting this year much to Dan's dismay. The guys hiked up -- while I enjoyed some quiet time by the stream in the shade -- and found a school house exhibit set up with games and items used in schools in times past. We shopped at the booths, and after much consideration and comparison, Dan bought a few things.

State Fair

We spent an afternoon at the Fair last month. I didn't get a lot of pictures, but we did see a lot.

We watched a BMX demonstration show that was awesome! Riders on bicycles and skateboards, and even a guy on roller blades, flipping and jumping over each others -- and an audience volunteer.

We checked out the lego models and stamp collections and coin collections, homemade quilts and watched a bit of the chocolate contest (while wondering how one can become a taste tester in that competition); saw horses and blacksmiths and tried several exhibits at the Kids' Pavilion.

The prized buy of the State Fair this year, tho, is clackers! Remember those from the 70's?

By far, the coolest show of the day was the Mapapa African Acrobat Dancers. They were amazingly talented and funny and just all around fun to watch!

Botanic Gardens

We spent a wonderful afternoon at the Botanic Gardens, toured the butterfly pavilion, walked the trails and saw so much.

At the water's edge, leaving the butterfly exhibit, we saw several bullfrogs, and some things we first thought were worms, or maybe larvae. As we looked around to see what they might be, we determined they were some kind of seeds dropped from trees. We also saw some amazing lotus blossoms in the ponds along the way.

Dan showed his balance beam skills at the fountain's edge.

We saw this HUGE spider in her web at the rose garden. We were all impressed with the ziz zag woven into the web, and later looked it up to find that it's common in the webs of this species of spider.

Outside the Mediterranean Gardens, where the bug exhibit had grasshoppers several inches long! Some gross, equally big roaches too.

We walked back to the Japanese Gardens where Dan we saw a tiny, perfectly still bunny, and Dan was mobbed by enormous koi hoping he'd brought food along.

Four Corners

In early September, we took a trip to Four Corners. Okay, so not a glamorous trip, but a cool place Dan really wanted to see. Long drive up and back, but we had a wonderful time, with a lot of rambling conversations, the connections impossible to trace back.

When I pulled the camera out, the batteries were almost dead, which for some reason means the camera takes pink pictures! I tweaked the pix as best I could, deleted those that were entirely pink and here's what was left.

Gary, Andy & Dan. Andy is now taller than Gary (just in the past month or so)! When did they get so big?

Andy standing at the exact point (tho we later learned it may be off by either a small bit or a lot, who depending on which survey methods one credits) where the four states meet.

Standing wasn't comical enough for Gary, and the boys insisted I get a picture of Dad being silly. Really, an amazing number of people there take odd poses -- like crabs, or sitting with feet and hand each in a different state.

Andy brought his yo-yo of course, and walked around the site, pausing to do a trick, Around the World (I think) in each of the four states.

Again, when did Andy get so tall? I ask myself that question every time I look UP at my sweet Andy.

Cliff Jumping in the Jemez

A beautiful August day in the Jemez Mountains with friends. We hiked about 2 miles in, winding back and forth across a stream. We all had a fabulous time, and I wish I'd taken more pictures. There were cows and cold water crossings, and slippery rocks and just so much I forgot my camera as we hiked in.

The water was freezing! Not cold enough to stop the kids, tho. Andy didn't jump from any cliffs, but he spent hours (really, hours!) in the water in a pool that we estimated to be about 15' deep.

Dan did jump, from a few different spots, climbing up the rocks like a pro.

Andy had a great time getting acquainted with a cousin of the friends who led the hike. As we hiked back, Dan and his buddies wanted to catch fish. By the end of the hike out, Andy, Kale (the cousin) and I had fallen far behind and were walking out alone, when the herd of cows decided they were not going to let us cross the stream the final time to get back to the trail out. We thought about climbing up to the road, but really didn't want to go the extra distance. I considered letting Andy be our ambassador to the cows, since he's the only vegetarian. After a few minutes, the cows moved on and we finished our hike.

We'll definitely make this hike against next summer, and bring Gary along.

Wow! it's been too long!

A recent online discussion reminded me it's been ages since I updated the family blog. It's been a busy summer and fall, and and too long since I posted any photos of the boys or what we've been up to.

So here goes....

We attended an Isotopes game after the boys won free tickets at a city parks event. Andy insisted on sitting with Homer for a picture.

Over the years, we've spent lots of time at Ironwood Farms, helping out and just hanging out with friends. Just this summer, Andy is pitching in for pay. He really enjoys both the chance to make some money and the physical work of helping Chris. Andy & Chris were moving fence posts this afternoon back in August.

Dan, Scotty & Eliza spend hours driving Scotty's rider mower around the farm. They also use it to deliver bales of hay to the livestock. Dan really enjoys his time on the rider mower.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Cliff Jumping in the Jemez

No photos of actual jumping. I did get a few jumping pix, and I took many more water/kid/tribe pix, but I've already spent way too much on the computer this lovely day, so I'm calling it done with these! We had a fabulous time. The two-mile hike was beautiful, with about a dozen river crossings, so we had lots of water time. The views were fantastic. The drive home was so much fun, singing to the radio, talking, and enjoying the view of Sandia at sunset from an angle we seldom see. Just a lovely day from start to finish!

Andy was in heaven, and spent most of his afternoon in the VERY cold water!

proof that it was very cold -- Dan is shivering!

watching others jump from the cliff into the pool

on the cliffs above the river.

Old Town Ghost Tour

Recently, we spent an evening -- a lovely, cool, rainy, stormy evening -- on a personal ghost tour of Albuquerque's Old Town. We had a great time, even when the sky opened up and glorious rain poured down on us!Andy, at the bottom of a staircase where, stories say, a young woman's ghost jumps out and pushes people down the stairs.

Gary, being funny -- and cute!

Andy jumped out to scare the others during the Story of the Red Hand, about a woman who axed her cheating fiance to death -- and got away with it!

More story-telling

I love this photo -- Andy has such a beautiful laugh!

Emma & Dan using the ouija board. The kids really enjoyed that one!

Dan & Emma

Monday, May 03, 2010

Messy Art Day

Today, the tribe had our first Messy Art Day and it was so much fun we're thinking about doing this 3 or 4 times a year!

We had tie-dyed t-shirts made with magic markers and rubbing alcohol, plaster of paris casts of hand and foot prints decorated with shells, marbles and bottle caps, modeling clay, a spin art machine, and a group effort to paint a bed sheet for a park day blanket. I didn't get pictures of everything, but I did get several of the sheet painting in progress. The kids had a blast!

the crew and the blank canvas

about halfway thru

add some more paint, and check out Forest's snazzy hat!

Andy's contribution

add some more paint, both spray and with brushes

add some more creativity

almost done.....

the finished product, with some of the crew (those willing to pose for the photo)
And here it is in all its glory

We had such an amazing time! I love our tribe, and our amazing unschooling, creativity-filled life!

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Could I do the work?

I was reading over at Ronnie's blog Zombie Princess her newest post about *must learn* lists. I gave a quick reply, then thought of a longer one, and when I found it was becoming longer than a facebook status update, decided to move it over here.

Yesterday, Gary, Andy and I had a conversation about driver's ed next year (really, we're already at that point?!) as well as Andy's desire to do some volunteer work. I told Andy both of those were very likely to require writing. I casually offered that I'd be happy to help him with that whenever he felt ready, knowing that his handwriting can be hard for even him to read at times. He just as casually said he'd remember that. I was feeling a little sad that maybe we're at a point where Andy might be concerned about being judged for what he's learned. I was also just a little concerned about how I could help him through the upcoming times.

Then today, somehow the boys and I wandered into a conversation about what grade they'd be in. They've recently made some friends who go to school, so it's become a topic. Whenever it comes up, I tell them what grade they're in on paper for homeschool registration purposes, but it seems they forget every time. It must not be terribly important to them. It only really comes up when I sign Dan up for soccer or baseball. Now that Andy's considering volunteer opportunities, I'm seeing that some of them tie eligibility to a child's grade-level, designating programs for sophomores, for example. Apparently, as they get older it's becoming more an issue.

I answered Andy's technically in the 8th grade, and Dan in 3rd.

Andy asked me if I thought he'd be able to do 8th grade work. Of course, Dan followed up with the same about 3rd grade work. I said I really don't know. Andy asked about what kind of math they do in 8th grade, and I answered "algebra". I told him I'm sure he could learn to do it, when he needs to.

I said that in my experience when people ask the "what grade would you be in?" it's often followed by asking you to show that you know some bit of school learning appropriate to your grade level, so I could understand them wanting to know what grade level work is.

Then I explained it like this -- the school systems decides what things they think all people should learn by the time they're 18, before they head off to college or trade school, or whatever their next expected thing is. Since the public schools are intended to provide 13 years of schooling, the *must learn* material is divided into 13 segments, with the expectation that every child can and will learn all the same things, at the same time, and answer the tests in the same way. They expect that children will do this despite the fact that we all have different interests and plans, and learn in a variety of ways.

At which time, Andy looked as if his head might explode. Kinda like Cartman in last week's South Park. (yeah, like that!)

And I was reminded that setting up 'must learns', and further, putting them on a schedule, is not a very sensible way to help people move from where we are to where we want to be in our lives.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Social skills

As unschoolers, we hear the occasional question about how our kids have enough social outlets and opportunities without going to school. I'm sure we'd hear them more often if we didn't have such a busy social schedule hanging out with our unschooling friends! I think many people hear 'homeschooled' and picture terribly shy, inept kids with no idea how to navigate the larger world. I've not blogged or talked much about it before, but I will today.

Part of why I don't often talk about social exposure for kid is that it's not something I worry overly about. I was a very shy child for reasons too myriad to blog about. Will was very shy around adults as a child, tho he did well with kids. He and I shared the same caution around others, and eventually became more confident in social settings. Andy's never been shy, never met a stranger in his life; Dan's more cautious and quiet. I'm confident we'll all find our own way socially.

Dan, having just turned 9 and with very outgoing older brother, has only recently begun to navigate the bigger world more independently. There have been a few social incidents in Dan's life in recent weeks, which have led to conversations about social convention and responses to taunting, and why people behave as they do towards others.

A few weeks ago Dan was out in our driveway, playing catch with a good friend who lives two doors down. This friend, J, is a nice boy a couple of years older than Dan, and attends public school nearby, tho for the past few years he was homeschooled. Gary and I heard banging on the carport gate and loud yelling, so we ran outside. Dan was trying to scramble over the gate, shirtless. The kids scattered as Gary showed up and Dan & J were upset and shaken. Turns out a group of several neighbor boys from farther down the street had come by, started chasing our boys around the front yard, pulled Dan's shirt off him and were spitting bb's at them. We talked with Dan about what he could do next time to feel safe, and we've kept an closer eye since then on neighborhood goings-on.

This past Monday, a playmate lobbed a parting shot at Dan, calling him an obscenity. I only learned of it later when he asked me why this child had said that to him. I asked him if he'd done anything to warrant the insult, and he assured me he hadn't. Andy corroborated his account. I told him that since he'd done nothing wrong, he needn't take it personally. The other child was likely just having a difficult time and it was much more about that child than about Dan. Andy, who thinks of himself as a peacemaker and mediator, wanted very much to talk with the other child about what happened, why the remark was made and smooth things over. Dan was adamant about leaving it lie. I explained to Andy that, while I understood his desire to sort it all out, I'd prefer he respect his brother's wishes to say nothing. He agreed he could do that. Dan was bewildered by what was said, and likely won't forget the incident, but felt no need to push the issue. Maybe if the child involved were a closer friend, it would matter more to him. It was more like just one more bit of info about human behavior to file away and ponder a bit.

Last evening Dan told me that earlier in the afternoon, while he was standing in the driveway, as Gary walked over to talk with a neighbor, after playing catch together the boys had come back again. This time, no bb-spitting occurred (they're too sneaky for that) but taunting was dished out. G, the talker for the group, said "you suck at baseball." Dan shrugged. Then he asked Dan, "why do you wear the same clothes every day? How come your jeans have holes in them? Can't your Mom afford to buy you new ones? Your family must be poor." When Gary started back across the street, they headed down the street.

Gary, Dan & I talked about it. We commented on some interesting things to Dan. Does the other boy play baseball? How does he know Dan sucks at it? And the clothes -- those kids go to the local public school, where they wear uniforms. The same clothes every day. And last night, Dan wasn't wearing the same clothes as the day before. Did this kid even know what he was talking about?

We talked about reasons why sometimes kids feel a need to insult other kids. They don't feel powerful or 'good enough' and making fun of someone else makes them feel bigger or better. Gary said, "Hey, you GET to wear the same clothes every day. You're home so you're allowed to wear your comfortable, torn jeans." We talked about how powerless those kids might feel in their lives -- they're told what to wear, where to spend their days (at school), likely not allowed to have long hair, and so on. Everyday at 7am, while Dan is waking up at his own pace to a warm bed and leisurely breakfast, those kids are walking to school in the cold, wearing clothes someone else told them they have to wear. No wonder they're unhappy and unkind.

I pointed out that I've found that people, kids too, are more likely to be mean when we're unhappy, or have unmet needs. This brought things around to the earlier playmate incident, and the one a few weeks ago. Dan wanted to come up with responses, so we talked thru those.

Dan said he might borrow a line from his buddy, Forest, who once told a taunting kid "thank you!" and "I know -- isn't it cool?" when called a name and told he was 'stupid'. Said with a big grin I can just see on Forest (who, for the record, is one cool kid and also homeschooled).

I don't know that Dan really needs a reply, or if he'll use one. I was very happy to find he felt no need to get back at those kids, and he wasn't angry or hurt, just perplexed. It's completely unnatural for Dan to see insulting and threatening people as a desirable way to treat others.

What I do know is, if the behavior of our neighborhood kids is an example of social skills learned at school, we'll pass.

More pix

We spent Friday afternoon at the Aquarium and Botanic gardens. It was a spectacular day and the kid who came out had a great time.

One of the few shots I got with Dan looking at the camera

Andy using his new headphones to enjoy music and a moment alone at the Japanese Garden.

Inside the aquarium, which for some reason is usually first toured at
warp speed, making for a challenging photo shoot!

Last's weeks snow wasn't big by Mid-Atlantic standards, but the boys had a great time playing out in it. From the looks of the yard around them, virtually all the snow that fell in the neighbor's backyard was used to make that snowman. What I love are those laughing faces around the snowman.