Thursday, October 29, 2009

Steven Games

The last couple of days we have been getting our work done here (or there), and then heading over to the library to... game. I'm not sure why it's worked out this way, but it's been like this unspoken "thing" we've been honoring. So around 2pm we hop in the truck and go to the library to tag the Wii as "ours" before the Highschoolers get there. We have a Wii here at the house, it's just more fun at the library for some reason.

It's a great escape for us to unwind at the library. These colder days we'll go and spend afternoon hours searching shelves, and with a stack of books, a drink and a snack we'll scour through our treasures while sitting in an overstuffed comfy chair. We like to hang around in a kind of stasis from the outside world until ...well, until Lea walks over and meets us after school or when we're ready to leave, I guess. Steven likes to play games, I prefer to read, but he also likes for me to drop my books and grab a controller and play with him. And sometimes I do that. Even though I don't like the Wii as much as a PS2 or 3.

I was thinking about something yesterday while I sat there waiting for my turn to Mario Party with Peach. I was thinking about how much Steven appreciates my company and how much I'm grateful for his. I wonder often why it is I don't seem to need the socialization of my peers as much as other people, but it's finally occurred to me it's not that, I don't think. I think it's that I weigh my choices, and for now I'm so acutely aware of Steven's growing and going that I want to be present to him as much as he allows and wants. I recognize so intensely the movement of time and the fading of it that I can barely make out the shadow of the moment as it whooshes past me. I don't want to miss anything.

Now, here is a dilemma. Last night, Steven confronted me that I am not forceful enough or demanding enough with him. He needs a harsher mother to tell him what to do. He tells me that he thinks he is getting a cavity in a permanent tooth and that it is up to me to make him go into the bathroom and brush his teeth. He said that it would be best if I threaten him by taking away his DS or Legos. I said to him, "Steven, that's not really my way." He was like, "But Mom, you have to do this. You have to MAKE me brush my teeth or I won't do it. You have to yell at me and make me scared of you. Like at Tae Kwon Do where they yell at us if we don't do something we're supposed to." I said, "But I would think that if you don't want cavities then you'd want to brush your teeth. I mean, like, all on your own." He was shaking his head, "But that's not how it works, Mom." I said, "Ok." Then I said,"So, are we ready to read together now?" He shrugged, "Sure." I was like, "Did you brush your teeth?" He replied, "No." And so I went, "Well, go brush and we'll read." Steven said, "Ok, be right back." Meanwhile, I'll work on some ideas to pull out of my threat pocket for the next time he balks.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Steven Rides

We had a great time yesterday with neighbor Hiliary when she took us out to the barn where their horses, Snazzy and Shiloh, board. Earlier, Steven had been chatting with Hil on Facebook. He ran into my room and asked me if we could head out to J-town with her to see "the girls," and I said, "Sure!" So, we skipped gym class with Q and headed out about 10am. Once we arrived, Hil opened the barn where the tack supplies are held and we watched some of the other horses grazing:

We walked around to the front of the property where Snazzy and Shiloh stay, and we waited for Hil to open the fence:

Steven got to lead Snazzy from her paddock to the barn. They made fast friends:

Hiliary showed Steven how to groom the horses and what to do to get them, and a rider, ready for riding the back 4o:

And Steven was on the trail in no time:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Steven Stargazes

I was looking forward to a week which had less structure, but... I think we need structure. Otherwise nothing gets done. If I have it on the calendar, we do it; if I don't, we don't. Or rather, we get it done slower and more grudgingly.

Yesterday was not the easiest day to work at the shop and homeschool, but we managed. Steven worked on handwriting and math. He also put together his Galileoscope with his Uncle Rob.

Robert is an amateur astronomer who has built several of his own telescopes, so I thought this would be a piece of cake for him, which it was.

We went out last evening and found Jupiter in the eastern night sky right where Rob said it would be. There were several problems, however; the first being that we didn't have a tripod so it made the telescope difficult to hold in one place and we are all naturally a little shaky so it was hard to keep any star or planet in sight. The other thing is there was a lot of atmospheric interference, so we couldn't see any real details. Then, ofcourse, town's ambient light is a pain in the ass.

Robert lives in a rural area, has a reflector telescope and a shed that he built for it at the back of his property. I asked him to let us come out there for an evening of sky watching so Steven can get a real understanding of what can be seen. He agreed, ofcourse :). Hoping that we can go next week or the week after. We also are going to the local Observatory in November. I'd already planned to take Nicholas, but we're going to make it a family affair and fingers are crossed for clear skies.

Galilean Nights

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The week is going ok so far. I'm a little frustrated with the kids (all 3) , but I also might be dehydrated, eating badly (this is for sure) and trying to do too much. And, it's true that when I overwork, they seem to underwork to compensate; but you know, you wants to be nagged anyway? I remember shutting down the moment someone started bitching at me to do something. I'll try to make better decisions today about my attitude and demands.

ANYhoo, Steven has been very active this week.

He went to a pumpkin farm with friends:

And he also went on a library tour. Which I forgot to take pics. But this was very fun for him and we're grateful to friend, K, for setting it up. This library is a second home to us and we've never taken the time to tour it before. It's fun to be privy to the innerworkings of WPL :).

He also attended a Science class at the library which he didn't like at all. There were too many kids breathing down his neck, he said.

Last night Steven received his orange belt. Here he is with his instructor, Mr Perdue:

This morning if it's not too cold, we're going to plant tulip bulbs and Steven has gym class with Q. Schoolwork is still happening and we spend about an hour or so a day with math, handwriting and spelling. I'm hoping to find a Social Studies book soon, but really not sure how to fit it in, yet.

The house is going to hell in a handbasket, but I figure there will be years and years of an empty home, clean and clutter-free, later. We'll revel in the chaos, meanwhile.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Steven Globe-trots (at least in books)

Geography: A Literature Approach is something I've had around here for quite a few years. Linda, my sis, used this w/Kevin and recommended I keep it for Lea when the time came. Well, the time came, but Lee-lee was in school by then.

I decided to keep it in case I knew of someone who might want to use it someday. I didn't think it would be something Steven would want to work with, and last year, he didn't; but this year, he does.

It's so interesting how people change and develop over time to become more adapted to certain experiences, particularly children. Well, no, that's not true. It's everyone. I notice it in myself as well. For example, I'll read a book one year and get something out of it, and then read it another year and the understanding of the book is the same, but also different; so the original feeling about it is as it was the first time, but my consciousness holds it in a new way, a new dimension of it opens and the experience of it has deepened.

Can Steven know that is what is happening to him? I don't know. I don't think it matters. It's much more interesting just to watch him absorb himself in the experience of a new awareness, and to see his eyes light with understanding because a thing, whatever it is, has just been revealed to him simply because he is ready now.

The first book to be read along with the course is called Paddle to the Sea by Holling C. Holling. It's about a boy who lives on the northernmost part of Lake Superior who one winter finds a piece of cedar and out of it carves a man in a canoe. In the Spring, the boy releases the little boat he's named "Paddle to the Sea" and on the bottom he's also etched,"Please put me back in the water." So, Paddle to the Sea is set free to follow the flow of the Great Lakes, with minimal interruption, all the way to the St. Lawrence Seaway, to eventually be found by a lighthouse keeper on the shores of Newfoundland.

I was excited today when we found this little film online:

Paddle to the Sea

And we watched it together in the quiet house before Lea and Nicholas came home.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Steven Kicks

Just a word or two about Taekwondo and Steven. In the past, I had Steven trying out a mess of things he really didn't like, just to try them. The latest was swim team at the local Jaycee pool which he mostly cried over. That wasn't the best choice we ever made.

Since I had a bad experience at a Karate place with Nicholas when he was younger, I was skeptical to try it...even though in the back of my mind, I thought Steven really might be of the temperament to enjoy it.

The Taekwondo school that Nick attended was demanding respect from him without really earning it, and had this sort of "code of honor" thing that felt contrived, it was troubling. And they seemingly were only interested in turning a dollar which they did from us to the tune of about $1500. I paid it all up front because it seemed the cheaper option, but it's not the cheaper option if your kid hates it and doesn't go. So, for me, after the experience, that was it: I was done with the farce called "Karate." (In my mind, right up there with soccer and gymnastics...)

A few months ago, however, my friend and close neighbor Hiliary asked Steven if he wanted to join Noah (her son) for a "buddy day" at his Taekwondo class. Since it was free we were totally up for it, and so, ofcourse, being me, I proceeded to forget to write it down and we forgot to go; but, Hil and Noah, being the gracious type forgave us and told us that we could still come to a free class. We did and it was FANTASTIC. Steven was offered 6 weeks for $50 to try it out. It totally sounded like a scam, but hey, for the summer it was better than comforting him in the early mornings, soaked with pool water and tears, shivering in a speedo. For Steven, once he was kicking, making moves and Karate yells he said sayonara to swimteam and has never looked back.

Getting him to go to class was/is never an issue, he likes it. We signed him up for a year at the end of the six-weeks intro to continue his progress. He likes the events that they offer and he likes the teachers and the children (and some of the teachers are children). He loved their Summer camp, their game day (all day gaming from 2-10 with pizza and snacks and... yes, I mentioned it, all day gaming. :)). He is nurtured and dealt with kindly; he's rewarded for hard work, but never falsely; he's respected and taught well.

This week he is testing for his orange belt. He's advancing enough to get his sparring equipment which is an important rite of passage for the kids. In a few weeks he will be joining the group for their annual Halloween party because they really know how to have plain old fun. And then, come November he'll be attending his first tournament. It's all very exciting and it's wonderful to see him pursuing something that he likes and does well.