Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Fun with straws!

Crystal brought a bunch of colorful bendy straws to the park this week. I think to go with the ice cream cups she also brought. By the end of the day, she still had almost a dozen ice cream cups left -- who says kids with food choices will eat all the junk they can find? The straws, however, were a big hit.

Dan made a very long straw, which he and Scotty took turns with. They're both sporting new haircuts. Okay, so Dan's was just a small trim, altho a hair color change looms on the horizon.

Here's Scotty trying the straw and Dan busting me for getting Scotty's picture!

Dan's straw creation in its non-use setting.Eliza managed to stuff 9 straws in her powerade bottle. One was below the surface, so you could really only drink from 8 at the same time.
Here's Scotty demonstrating that it is possible to drink from all 8 of the straws.On the playset. I'm not sure what they're doing with the straw -- maybe a sand conduit?

Andy's 11th birthday

How is it possible that Andy is 11? I remember him as a newborn -- then we called him Andrew (and I swore I always would). That was before it was obvious that he's Andy. He's not the quiet child I always pictured an Andrew would be. He's large as life, outgoing, passionate -- entirely his own person.

For his birthday, the grandparents treated him to a new pair of rollerblades and helmet. He's been on his new blades just about every day since we got them, about two weeks ago, and having a great time!
We had his party at Peter Piper's Pizza, with a few close friends this past Friday. Here he's with Sorscha, showing off the Pokemon cards he received from Spencer.

Opening the gift card from Judson. Sorsha's gift was also a gift card from Target. He combined the two cards -- with a few dollars from Will -- and bought a remote controlled plane, which he really enjoys flying.
Late in the party, each boy claimed an external window seat. My guess is that was the only shade they could find on the sunny, 90 degree weather we had last Friday.
Watching Spongebob on the TV screens

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

still life

Of course, most of these shots aren't still at all, but taken over the past few weeks of our busy days.
The day we got Andy's new rollerblades, the wind was blowing at about 40mph, with gusts to 60mph. Still, we had to go to the park to try out the new blades. It's even more windy at that particular park than anywhere else on the planet most days. The boys found a discarded grocery bag, and used it as a sail. Before that, they'd found that if they stood on blades with the wind to their backs, that alone would move them a little. The bag-sail, tho, made a much better windcraft!
Dan, looking so cute during one of his visits to the table between skate laps.

Andy showing off his new blades. They were a birthday gift from Grandpa & Grandma, and he just loves his new skates!

We've been meeting Susan & Spencer for the Home Depot monthly kids workshop the past few months. This time, the project was a bi-plane -- more complicated than the past couple of projects, I think. Here Susan is helping Spencer with his plane.

At the zoo last week, the kids spotted a choke-collar chain wrapped around a tree branch. After trying to jump to it themselves, they found a chair and drafted Crystal to reach for it. She couldn't quite reach it either, so they were left to figure it out themselves. I don't know how they did it, but ultimately they got that choke chain down, and Sorscha claimed it. Spencer did make off with a cocoon that day, and took it home to watch it open.

You have to go to school....

Over the weekend, we were at the park, and the boys went off by themselves to play for a while. When they came back to the blanket, Andy asked me if you had to go to high school to go to college (he's recently decided he wants to go to college). I told him no, that I know of many homeschooled kids who have either finished or are enrolled in college. Why did he ask?

They ran into a woman at the park, and like virtually all adults, she asked them where they go to school, what grade, something like that. Andy said "we don't go to school."

"Oh, you're homeschooled."

"No. We don't do school at all."

"But you have to go to school. You can't go to college without high school, and you have to go to middle school to get into high school, and you have to go to elementary school to get into middle school. If your parents don't send you to school, they could get in trouble and even be arrested."
I said he could have saved himself -- and her -- all that worry if he'd just said, "yeah, we homeschool" and she'd probably have dropped it there.

When I told this story to the tribe today, Susan said the next logical step in that woman's story was "I mean, you have to go to preschool to get into elementary, and before that, Mommy has to listen to Bach when she's pregnant, or you'll never get anywhere!"

In the time that woman at the park spent trying to convince the boys they had to go to school, she could have had a real conversation with them. I guess they didn't teach those conversation skills in her college studies.....

spelling happens

Andy has never taken a spelling test in his life, never been drilled on spelling words, and seldom asks me how to spell any word. He began reading at somewhere between 8 & 9 -- before that, he could read a word or two at a time, street signs, cartoon captions, that kind of thing. But during his 9th year, he took off. Along the way, he's asked me to print up math worksheets so he could 'practice' his math skills, insisting I grade them for him. But it's been probably a year or more since he asked for anything schooly.

A couple of days ago, while waiting for Gary to finish up at work, Andy asked me to give him some words to spell. He wanted to see -- and show me -- that he could spell. I threw him the odd words, those that break the 'rules' figuring that if he can spell and remember those, the ones that do spell 'right' will come easy for him. I alternated between words I figured he could get and those that would be a challenge. Hey, if I'd thrown him all easy words he'd have busted me anyway, so why not mix it up a bit?

He spelled most of them right -- building, either, another, neighbor and several others we've both forgotten now. I was really impressed -- even better, he was very pleased with himself. Not surprised, given how much he reads lately. Tonight, driving home, he asked me for more words. I threw him some harder ones -- engine, boulevard, avenue, albuquerque, however, thought, tongue -- again he got many of the less weird ones right. In all cases, he came really close, really thinking thru the words, sounding them out.

How many schooled kids would make a game of spelling words -- on summer vacation at that! I remember feeling like I didn't want to have to think about anything but reading books I chose all summer long. We've all heard the stereotype of kids who say "it's the weekend, don't make me think" -- our kids never have a day when they actively choose not to think. Then again, they don't have any days where thinking is imposed on them by adults.