Friday, August 22, 2008

of teeth and skateboards....

For the record, the two don't mix. Poor Dan had a rough 24 hours.

On Weds, we colored a new blond stripe for him. It was beautiful, the full length of his hair, about 3" across on the right side of his part. Just what he wanted.

Thursday, he was invited to go swimming at a friend's indoor pool. I never even thought about his new hair color. You know where this is going, right? He swam for only about an hour, in water that reached to just below his jawline. Had a great time, then we headed to the farm to visit Scotty.

After we'd been there a couple of hours, I noticed Dan's hair. The bottom 6" was aqua green. Okay, I thought, I can re-do the color, I have some color solution left. Then I noticed it looked tangled and matted. Maybe he got something in his hair? I rinsed it out for him, and combed it. Now it looked like someone left it in the crimping iron too long. He had fried green hair.

I made a frantic call to Crystal to report a hair emergency, and got her voicemail. When she called back, she confirmed what I already knew. I'd need to cut off the fried green hair. She explained how to layer it so it would fall nicely and said if we really wanted blond to the ends, I could wait a day and color the underlayer. Thank goodness we hadn't colored all his hair or he'd have needed a radically new haircut!

I trimmed Dan's hair Thursday night, and it looks pretty good. Thankfully, the waterline was just below his jawline and the layering Crystal recommended has it framing his face nicely. We left it his natural brown below, because right now Dan is so done with hair coloring! The hair I trimmed off has the texture of nylon Barbie doll hair. Really. (Note to self -- no swimming for at least 3 days after a hair color.)

A little while later, Scotty & Dan were riding together on Scotty's electric dirt bike - Scotty driving, Dan behind. On the driveway, they wrecked the bike. Dan told me he landed on Scotty, which begs the question 'how did he end up with several scrapes and bruises the length of his left leg?' One of the rare days he wasn't wearing jeans -- he still had his swim trunks on from his earlier brush with 300 proof chlorine.

Scotty came home with us that night. The boys stayed up late, and were up early. About 9:30 Friday morning, as I was checking my email before heading out to buy tires, Dan came up behind me and said "I lost a tooth."

"Really -- was it that dangly tooth up top?"

As I swiveled around in the chair, I see Dan bleeding from his mouth, holding the other top incisor in his hand (it was only the tiniest bit loose). "No, it was the other one" he manages to say before lunging towards me for a teary hug. I got him spun around and headed for the sink/fridge area. Darn, no popsicles. I put a bag of frozen peas on his mouth and we head for the sink, as I grab a small glass and salt. I mixed up some salt water and had him swish it around until the bleeding stopped. Assessed the damage -- split, swollen bottom lip; missing top tooth left a gaping hole; other tooth dangling even more precariously. Okay, I guess we're having ice cream for lunch after we get new tires on the car.

How, you may ask, did Dan knock out his front tooth? Let's call it a physics lesson. He and Scotty were using the skateboard as a lever to raise the back of the couch. On their first attempt, the skateboard flew up and smacked Dan in the mouth. By the time I'd cleaned Dan up, Scotty had managed to raise the couch off the floor and was standing on the other end of the skateboard. A bit later Dan explained that during his injury, they were actually trying to launch a bottle of root beer. In the house. With a skateboard.

Friday afternoon talking with friends, Dan said it hurt for about 5 seconds. Scotty said it seemed Dan was upset for longer than that. Dan agreed that maybe it had been more like 12 seconds.

He also agreed it's pretty scary when a skateboard flies up and hits you in the face.

Yeah, he is going to look so good by next week.....

Saturday morning update: The dangling tooth fell out overnight, and the new tooth is already visible.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Peer Pressure

I've read articles and even had people ask me how our kids will ever learn to get along in the world without the apparently essential experience of socialization in school; how they'll respond to challenges like peer pressure and negotiating other social situations. For all that we're told as parents to watch out for negative peer pressure, we're also conditioned to rely on positive peer pressure, and somewhere along the way most people just come to accept that of course kids, especially teens, will succumb to peer pressure.

Lately, I've really struggled with my feelings about one of Andy's friends, and this child's influence on Andy. I've heard from others, and observed myself, some very undesirable behavior from this friend. I'm not usually one to limit or prohibit friendships, but I've found myself concerned, because it seemed Andy was oblivious to his friend's actions. I've been concerned how that friendship could cost him other friends, the guilt by association aspect, and even that Andy might be swept up in some of the negative behaviors.

Yesterday, he asked about making time to hang out with his friend. In addition to having already made other plans, I wasn't really up for having this conversation with Andy. I explained a bit about my concerns and offered him a short visit, with conditions. I didn't really feel good about it, but felt it was the best I could do.

A few minutes later, Andy said "that's okay, we can skip it. I don't have to see him tomorrow." He sounded so defeated and sad. I felt awful, so I sat down with him and opened by telling him I could see that this really was important to him, and I'd like to hear how he felt.

Andy said, "I don't give into peer pressure. I follow my own flow. I do what I want to do. There have been times I didn't like it when [his friend] fights with someone. I tell him 'don't escalate things, just do something else'. He doesn't always listen to me, but I do say it. Sometimes I just walk away. I don't do things just because of peer pressure."

Wow! Just wow! Here I've been watching interaction between Andy and his friends and taken his responses to them - his quietly just not doing what he doesn't want to do - as missing social cues, as Andy being in his own head and oblivious to what's happening around him, when really it's his way of not caving in to peer pressure. Andy states his position, and if others don't hear him, he just walks away and does his own thing.

Clearly, I'd underestimated Andy, and I admitted to it. I told him I could see that he was hurt that I hadn't trusted him to be able to handle this. I apologized for not seeing that he's very capable of dealing with peer pressure and said that I'd trust him to come to me if he needed my help.

I've always known Andy walks to his own beat. Andy lives a life that is entirely, authentically his. He wears what is comfortable for him, pursues his own interests, plays with the toys that interest him (whether or not they're popular), has an amazing imagination and really is very thoughtful. What I hadn't noticed is how much Andy has grown, and how very aware and thoughtful he really is. He's finding his own way in the world and I'm so happy I have the opportunity to watch him as he does it.

Saturday, August 16, 2008


Yesterday, we went bowling with friends. We all had a great time. Andy bowled two strikes his first game, Dan bowled a few spares in each game. Scores weren't high and bumpers were used, but it's all about the fun of bowling not about who wins. Every good frame for anyone is celebrated by everyone.

Dan, after a spare
Andy after a strike

Another strike for Andy, with more high-5's. By midway thru the first game, Sorscha was giving out hugs for any occasion that merited high-5's from the boys. Sorry no pictures of any hugs, tho.

It was so nice to have the bowling virtually to ourselves on a Friday afternoon -- the price is good then, and with kids back in school all our usual haunts are ours again!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Kids &Trees..and a rope

A couple of days ago, we had a morning in a local park with 9 kids. The kids played well in expected combinations for the most part. By mid-afternoon, we had 7 kids and 4 moms, food and a 50' length of rope. Oh, and a good tree.

They climbed the tree.....

They used the rope to create a pulley to lift people -- first Scotty, then Dan once they'd perfected the technique.
Dan & Emma played the necessary game of chase.

By the end of the day, the rope was being used to tie Andy up, something like a maypole. This game never got beyond the winding stage, so I don't know what the bigger plan was.

They all took turns whipping the rope while it was tied to the tree. I mentioned to the kids that I was sure there's a scientific principle to explain what the rope was doing, but I didn't know what it was or how to explain it.

Later, I showed this picture to Gary and he said "sine waves" -- so they were exploring sine waves. That's why I rely on him to be my science guy!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Jemez Falls

A few days ago, we spent a lovely afternoon in nearby Jemez Springs. The trip was planned for tie-dyeing with a visiting family from California. We had a blast tie-dyeing and just hanging out with everyone. I'll post about the tie-dyeing when I have pics of the t-shirts.

On the drive home, we stopped off to see Jemez Falls. We knew it would be about a 3/4 mile hike each way, described by our tie-dye hostess as "down is down and up is up". Yes, up was very up and it was the return part of the hike! We had a great time, tho, and I even managed a few pictures -- gave me an excuse to stop and catch my breath.

This is what Jemez Falls looks like from the fenced lookout point.

The boys insisted on hiking down to the river, where we saw this small waterfall.

This view is from the top of the falls. The boys found it very cool that we got to stand at the top of the falls. The water was beyond cool, by the way -- to get these pictures, I stood in the water.

Gary & Dan along the trail, returning to the parking lot

Andy, as we began our hike. He insisted on climbing to a high vantage point so we could choose the right trail. Because altho it's a National Forest park site, the trails (and there are many of them) are completely unmarked, and the 'map' at the parking area is quite vague.

We had a great time -- the day was beautiful, the company great, the falls spectacular. We really needed -- and enjoyed a road trip.

Monday, August 04, 2008

a day in the life

Wow -- I had no idea it's been so long since I blogged here. I've been at my other two blogs, and we've been busy, so I guess it just slipped my mind.

Over at Radical Unschoolers' Network, Ren has asked people to share a normal day for this month's blog carnival topic.

The first challenge for me was finding a 'normal' day -- does that mean any random day, or one that sounds particularly sparkly and unschooly? We've been home more than gone lately, and tho we've done some interesting things here and there, it's just been too hot (95+ most days and no monsoon) to go out, and the boys really enjoy the new Play Station 2. Lots of fun for them, but doesn't really translate well into a blog.

We spent the afternoon at Jenny & Chris's farm yesterday, where I'm sure the boys had great fun, tho I don't know what they did. I had a great time hanging out enjoying wine & snacks with Jenny & Crystal, but I'm not posting that here.

We have plans to spend Wednesday in Jemez Springs with new friends, making tie-dyed t-shirts, but that's the day after Ren's deadline, so it won't qualify.

Today is the best I can come up with for Ren, and we do actually have plans to leave the house for a park day with the tribe, so I'll start now and add as I can.

I was up at 6:30 or so. We brought Dans' best friend, Scotty (from Ironwood Farm) home with us for an overnight. Dan is sleeping in my bed; Scotty is draped across the couch, having woken from his place on Andy's floor. I saw him there when I woke, curled up near a pile of legos, meaning he likely just ran out of steam mid-project. Andy is asleep in his bed. It's 7:40 now, and I don't expect anyone to be up and around before 8:30 or so. I generally have mornings to myself, giving me the opportunity to have a quiet breakfast and cup of tea. I checked my email, made some oats for breakfast and started this blog. I also usually get out for a 30 minute walk with the dog -- generally leaving the boys home with a cell phone -- but not today since Scotty is over, and that's likely too much for Andy.

By 8 am, and Dan and Scotty were both up. Scotty dug thru a pile of legos, while Dan admired a very cool transformer belonging to Andy. Dan just showed me how the cable extends from it in helicopter form, and asked me to check online to see if it's still sold in stores. We found 3 online at -- one for $189.99! Dan said the one for $25.75 is good enough for him, so we'll put it on our wishlist for later in the week/month.

Around 8:30 Dan fired up the Play Station for a game. Scotty checked the pantry to see what cereal we have. One of the things he enjoys most at our house is that we have exotic cereals -- I enjoy that Scotty will eat them no matter how stale they are! I'm pretty sure the last time anyone ate that Peanutbutter Cap'n Crunch it was Scotty on a sleepover, probably 3 weeks ago.

After breakfast, the boys set up for a two-player game of Grand Theft Auto. Not my first choice of video game -- too much gunfire for me, but the music is interesting and the fake commercials are a hoot -- "nothing says I Love You like a 3 million yr old chunk of carbon" (or something like that) parodying an ad for diamonds.

Sometime around 10, I heard Andy up and around in his room. He didn't come out to the living room for a while, since he usually spends his first half-hour or more alone in his room.

Usually, I water my herb garden, the strawberries and morning glories, but no need to water today, since we had thunderstorms overnight. We watched some spectacular lightning at the farm and on our drive home last night.

After a while, Dan announced he's done with Grand Theft Auto, saying the game cheats, tho Scotty continued to play. Around 10:30, Andy came out to join us and asked for breakfast. No Cinnamon Toast Crunch in the pantry, so he asked me to run out to the grocery store for some. He was even willing to be responsible for Dan & Scotty. We need lunch for the park later anyway, and a trip without 3 boys sounds much easier, so headed out.

At some point during the morning, Dan got out his electric guitar, hooked up the amp and played a bit. I told him it sounded good and I enjoy hearing him play.

I called Andy from the store to confirm what everyone wanted for lunch. Got home from the store to find Dan & Scotty just finishing up a shower. Scotty told me they'd started out with a bath, but that was too much trouble. I loaded up the lunch bag for the park with something for everyone, and the fall-back of peanutbutter & honey sandwich makings. Andy's played Naruto on the Play Station, with Dan & Scotty for an audience, while having his breakfast.

Andy's and I each had a shower, then we packed up and loaded bikes, food and water for park day. I picked up some Capri Sun drinks at the store and tucked them in the freezer without the boys seeing them, so I stashed them in trunk for a surprise at the park.

About two blocks from home -- car packed up with two bikes, all our park gear and three boys -- Andy announced "on the way I want to stop at Target so I can buy my new Bakugan." Um, the Target isn't on the way to the park, sweetie. How about we go by Target on our way home from the park?

We did stop by the bank drive-up window for gas money, then the gas station on our way to the park. Along the way, Dan spotted three motorcycles in front of house. He also called out whenever he saw a Ford Mustang, his current favorite car.

There was a big group there today, with kids chasing, biking, swinging, running all over the playset. For a while, Andy & Eliza (the 5yo daughter of my friend Jenny) made the sweetest picture, with her head resting on his shoulder as he played his DS. Scotty had brought his electric dirt bike, which is big enough for him and Dan to ride together, so they bombed around the park for a good long while. They even got in a few laps of the park while I put the bikes on the rack.

Later in the day, when Andy was hot, tired, eager to head for Target, and scrounging for more water to drink, he found the two Capri Suns left for him (the little boys had already had theirs). He was thrilled that I'd thought to get the extra drinks. That really lifted his mood, and made the wait more pleasant.

We left the park shortly after 5. I pointed out that we had the bikes on the rack, tied but not locked down. Andy offered to go in alone to do his shopping. He's 12, and pretty regularly when we go to Target, he and Dan head off for the toy dept alone, but I'm always in the store.
Andy had his cell phone and said he'd call me when he was done, so we dropped him at the door. This was his first time in Target entirely alone. He and Dan have been into our local Gamestop without me, but it's very small and I can see the entire store from the car. The Target is huge, and from the parking space I found, I couldn't even see the entrance. Just a little new and scary for me.

Dan and I waited in the air-conditioned car, talking about his plans to catch up with a friend who has been out of town for a while. After about 15 minutes, I texted Andy to ask if he'd found his toy yet. He texted 'not yet' then a few minutes later called to explain that while he'd found one toy he wanted, he really wanted two (for some set plans he has) and he'd asked a store employee if he could check the back room for it. I mentioned this to Dan, who was getting a little impatient, saying "you know Andy. He's always ready to ask for what he wants." Dan agreed that Andy's like that. Several minutes later, Andy called to say he was in line to pay, so we drove to the entrance and waited picked him up.

When he got into the car, he told me that when his purchase rang up, he was 20 cents short and was worried about what to do. He didn't want me to have to come in to give him the extra money. Then he saw the woman behind him hand the checker a dollar to cover him. He was so genuinely grateful for her help -- he just couldn't believe her generosity. Of course, that's just the kind of thing Andy would do for anyone else in line who was caught short, and he's seen me do the same, but still he was surprised and thought it was very cool. I told him how cool it was that people had been so helpful to him in Target.

We got back home around 7pm. The boys found themselves some snacks and a few more CapriSun drinkers. Andy poured a bowl of Cheerios for himself. I toasted a blueberry bagel and buttered it. Dan helped me eat my bagel. We ate well at the park, so dinner will be light tonight.

The boys watched
Johnny Test on Cartoon Network, and saw a commercial for WeirdWorld -- a new TV show promo'd as coming soon, but with no details. It looked creepy and cool, and the ad said to check it out online Weird World Show. I looked it up for the boys, and yep, it's very creepy and cool, with cryptids (I'm not sure what those even are). The site had a listing of the first three episodes - one about Mongolian Death Worm venon, the second about Kumari Kandam a 'sunken city lost to the ocean's darkest depths' and something about a feeding frenzy in the cryptid dungeon. Looks very cool. No info yet on when or what channel to watch, so we'll check back to see when we can watch an episode.

I asked Dan if he'd like to play War with me, he asked if we could play Go Fish instead. He won.

This got really long and I'm ready to watch some TV that I dvr'd earlier this evening. By ten, Dan will be ready to head for bed to snuggle in for night, so I have just enough time to catch my show. Andy will stay up later, tho he likes to be settled in his room, with the light on once I head for bed.

I'll send my link to Ren. I'm glad she suggested this, because it's easy to think we don't do much in an average day -- it's nice to have a reminder of how much happens in one day.