Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Snow Play

So, two days ago, we had that perfect weather where there was lots of snow on the ground, but it was relatively warm out and the snow was wet and perfect for packing.  So my husband and Uncle Pat built a giant snowman for the boys...

The Bug, chillin' with the snowguy


...then we built a snow fort...

This snow-brick mold makes fort building easy!

The boys inside the fort

...then we did a little sled riding...

The biggest kid in the house, aka my husband!

...a little snowball fighting...

...and finally went inside and had some hot cocoa afterward.

It was a fun afternoon, and I'm really glad I took those pics, because it rained like crazy and melted all the snow away the next day, much to Monkeyman's great disappointment.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Oh Yeah, My Second Kid! An Update.

"I fast!"
I know I don't write about him as much, so I thought I'd do an update on Kid #2 aka The Bug, who is indeed still growing and thriving!  His vocabulary has exploded and he learns more every day.  If he doesn't know the word for something he points at it until I tell him the word; he then repeats it once and remembers it forever.  I keep catching him singing snippets of the alphabet song, usually beginning with Q, accompanied by a dramatic head bob with each letter:  "Kyew, Arr, Ess... Tee, Yew, Vee... Dubbow-Yew, Eks.. Wye and Zeee!" Occasionally he starts at H instead:  "H I J K, La-La-La-La, Pee!".  He has also surprised me by counting to 6 - I did not know he could do that.  He still loves singing and dancing, and has the heartiest evil laugh you have ever heard.  He is super ornery too, and still loves to take everything out of everything, which can be quite maddening at times.  Until recently he has always been a good sleeper, but that seems to have gone out the window in the past few weeks - not sure if it's a growth spurt or what.  He has started resisting going to sleep, has been waking at odd hours, and two nights ago I believe he had a night terror, which I had never experienced before with either kid and it scared me quite a bit.  It was like he was having the worst tantrum ever, but in his sleep, and it lasted about 20 minutes.  Here's hoping it was just a one time thing.  *crosses fingers*.

"Driving" Daddy's tractor (only pretending!)

He and Monkeyman are best buddies and they get along quite well for the most part and seem to really enjoy each other's company, although Monkeyman does occasionally like pushing Bug's buttons and making him mad.  If Bug's been out of the room for a few minutes, when he comes back in and sees Monkeyman he says "Hi Monkeyman!" and beams as if he hasn't seen his brother for days and really missed him.  He does the same to me, with a huge grin, "Hi Mama!"  Also, whenever I do the simplest thing for him, like give him a snack or change his diaper, he says "Thank you, Mama." Both phrases make my heart melt.

Even though the homeschooling focus is not really on him yet since he's only 2, I see him learning and soaking things up like a sponge, just like his older brother did, and again I feel so lucky to be able to stay home with them and not miss a minute of it. 
He has recently switched from demolition to construction when playing with blocks.

Like his Mama, he likes curling up on the couch with a good book on a cold winter day.

Snugglin' and readin' with Daddy

I know the video quality is terrible, but give it a listen.  My little parrot will say just about anything you tell him to.  LOL

Friday, January 20, 2012

Stark Contrast

I wrote this several days ago and have been on the fence about posting it, mostly out of fear that people I know IRL might stumble across it and take offense to it.  But I decided - this is my blog, where I get to say what I want, and this is what's on my mind...

I'm not sure if I will even post this, but I am going to let myself write it anyway to organize and clarify my thoughts.  In the span of a week, I have attended two very different homeschool group meetings.  The first was a new one for me - a group of unschoolers.  To me, unschooling simply means child-led or child-directed learning, which is pretty much what we do - I've just been hesitant to label us as such yet.  So I was really looking forward to meeting other unschoolers and learning what exactly unschooling means to them.  A few of the moms I knew from Lego Club, but most of them I had not met before.  This group was fun, relaxed, passionate about their kids - and deeply respectful of them as individuals, and they seemed to be very open-minded - one even mentioned that she was not a Christian, which made me do a little happy dance inside my head.  I felt comfortable and I liked everyone right away.  There was so much energy - there were several different conversations going on the whole time, and I was constantly torn between which one to listen to/participate in.  I kind of felt like "A-ha!  Here is the group I've been looking for!"

Compare that to the meeting I went to last night.  This was the religious group I wrote about before.  I have been to several of their meetings and I am really having a hard time feeling comfortable there. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


The other day, Monkeyman was looking out the window and asked me if you could hang from "the computer ropes."  What?  "The computer ropes."  I couldn't figure out what he was talking about until I followed his gaze out the window and realized he was talking about the electric lines, strung between the poles along the road.  He had apparently gathered that there was some kind of relationship between those wires and the computer.  (BTW, I love it when kids invent words and phrases for things when they don't know the real words for them.  They always come up with great stuff that gives you a peek into how their minds work!)  So anyway I told him that no, we could definitely not hang from them, or even ever touch one if it happened to be down, or we could get a bad, bad shock that would hurt a lot.  We then proceeded to discuss electricity and I explained that those wires carry electricity from faraway power plants to be delivered to all the houses, to power everyone's electronic devices.  I asked him to think of some examples of things in our house that need electricity, and he did (computer, tv, lights, etc.).  I explained that the power lines connect to our house in the basement, and that there are wires that run throughout the walls which connect to the outlets where we plug our stuff in.  Then, I decided to bust out an old science kit that my mom Santa had given me for Christmas years ago, and we did a little experiment where we built a simple circuit.  Monkeyman thought this was very cool!

At first it didn't work, which was kind of good because it helped illustrate how a circuit must be completely connected or the electricity won't be able to flow through it.  After re-checking all of the connections, we found the loose one and corrected it and voila:

Then we added a switch.  Here it's open, breaking the circuit, so the light is off.
Here the switch is closed, completing the circuit, so the light is on!
This is the little kit we used.  It's got some good stuff in it - we will definitely be using it again!

Another thing we talked about was what it was like before people had electricity; all the conveniences and amusements we're used to, that people haven't always had, and what they must have done without them.  So, for the next step, we are planning to have an electricity-free evening.  This is the perfect time of year for it too, since it still gets dark pretty early.  I need to get a new wick for my oil lantern, and we'll use that and some candles for illumination, cook something to eat over a fire outside, and play electricity-free games and read books for the evening.  I'm really looking forward to it!

It seems like our best learning moments are spontaneous like this, resulting from him asking a question and us investigating the answer together.  If I had just said "Ok, sit down, today we are going to learn about electricity," I don't think that it would have been as effective.  But since his mind had turned in this direction on its own, and he was actively wondering about the concept, he was ready and willing to absorb the information.  This is what I mean when I describe "child-led" or "child-directed" learning to someone.  My job is simply to be a facilitator - which is why we have this house full of random stuff - so we have what we need handy to jump on whatever it is that comes up next!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Local and natural history at the Gorge Metro Park

Last weekend, we went on a guided hike at the Gorge Metro Park in Cuyahoga Falls, OH.  We've been to this park before, but this time we were on a different trail.  Our friend P. came along with us again, but little Bug stayed home with Daddy due to both the cold and the slight danger factor of this particular trail.  The description of the hike was as follows:
"FOOTSTEPS TO THE PAST.  Years ago, a favorite spot for locals was Fern Cave near the High Bridge Glens.  But what is a glen and where is Fern Cave?  Join Naturalist Dave Brumfield to find out and learn about Gorge Metro Park's geology and history."
My only criticism is that I went on the hike hoping that we were going to get to see Fern Cave - which I had never heard of - and it was barely mentioned and was nowhere near the area where we were hiking, so we did not get to see it.  That being said, it was still an excellent hike.  Although we had bundled up pretty well, I was still worried that the kids were going to get cold, but they were fine and so was I.  The weather was actually quite pleasant - chilly but sunny, and it was good for all of us to get out and get some much-needed fresh air.  This trail is one of the park system's most scenic ones, with lots of large, exposed rock faces and lovely views of the Cuyahoga River and the huge waterfall at the dam.  The Naturalist stopped us occasionally to talk about the history of specific places along the trail: both natural history such as the gorge being carved by glaciers and the river, and local history such as the dance hall and amusement park that used to be located here.  He also passed around some old pictures showing how the area used to look, but I was busy with the boys and didn't get to see many of them.

The boys were incessantly trying to climb "just a little bit" and wanting to have their picture taken on the rocks.

This place is called "Mary Campbell Cave" in honor of a young girl who was kidnapped by Indians (story below).  It's not really a cave though, more of a big open area under a huge outcropping of rock.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Dear internet, I love you!

The past week has been really busy and I have lots of things I want to write about.  But first, my favorite thing that happened this week:  I got to meet one of my "friends in the computer" in real life!  Fellow homeschool mom blogger, Laura, from Stag Beetle Power (one of my favs!) lives on the other side of the country from me and contacted me to let me know that she was going to be visiting family about an hour from where I live, and would I like to get together for a play date?  Um, YEAH!  So we did, and it was lovely!  The boys hit it off instantly and had a blast playing together (burning off enough energy in the process that if harnessed, could've powered a moderate-sized city), and we grownups chatted nonstop the whole time.  It was great talking to somebody so like-minded, and I felt like my usual shyness was non-existent because we already knew and liked each other from reading each others' words online.  Every time I think about that day I just have to grin.  Technology is so amazing.  Thank you, mind-blowing human ingenuity - for evolving this brilliant communication tool called the internet, which facilitated the forming of a friendship!

Monkeyman & J.

Laura and Me  :)

PS.  If you get a chance, check out Stag Beetle Power - Laura writes about the many cool things they do, and she posts breathtaking pictures of Oregon scenery that make me want to pack up and move there!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Overdue update!

I have shamefully been neglecting this blog lately.  First I blame the holidays, and second I blame my recent obsession with ancestry.com.  BTW, if you've been on the fence about joining ancestry, just do it - it's amazing.  Also, it would make an excellent homeschool project.  I keep trying to tell Monkeyman about what I'm doing but I can't seem to get him interested yet.  But we'll have lots of information to go on when he's older and starts to realize how cool it is.

Anyways, here's some stuff we've done in the past month or so.  I apologize for the brainstorm-slash-bulleted list style of this post but there are lots of little things that I just want to make sure I get written down.  (I know there are many more where I've thought "Oooh, I should write about that" and then forgotten.)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The Christmas Post

Yeah I know this post is ridiculously overdue... I am still going to post it for myself.  Feel free to skip it if you are so *over* Christmas by now.  I completely understand!

So I did mention Monkeyman's first letter to Santa, Tuba Christmas and our trip to see Santa already.  A few other traditions we observed were:

Decking the halls

Monday, January 2, 2012

Everything that is supposed to be in heaven...

I just love, love, LOVE this image and had to share.  In other words:  love, beauty, and joy are always all around us, if we simply allow ourselves to see and experience it.   Click here to see London artist Robert Ryan's store on etsy.  His beautiful work is made of intricately cut paper.  I discovered him via this video posted on The Kid Should See This.  Here's wishing everyone a Love-, Beauty-, and Joy-filled New Year!