4.15.2014

being all low-key

A lot of boring old regular life stuff has happened lately. It's wonderful.  It feels good to have nothing dramatic happen as of late and to finally, finally start letting go of our time.

I am slowly learning the secrets to balancing outside activities with homeschool.  It seems like we have tons of time to set up extra evening classes for the kids - climbing, two theatre groups, skating - and still keep up with my own obligations and even try to eke out some sort of social life for The Man and I with friends and family.

Haha.  Extra time is an illusion.  Whether you are at home, at work, at school.  There really is no such thing.

Our homeschool facilitator likes to tell a story about one of the families he visits.  Whenever someone asks the homeschooling father, 'What about socialization?' he responds with, 'Oh, yes, we're trying to cut down.'

I hear that.

How true it is that homeschooler is an oxymoron because homeschoolers are never at home.

But I am not well suited for the endless busy-ness.  I also believe that children should have a great deal of time on their hands to dally about and daydream.  Unstructured time keeps our creative side well nourished, not to mention also helps get the laundry and dishes handled so that we don't all have to run around in clothes picked off the floor in haste whilst running between activities.

So, here we are, idle.

This is girl child idly sewing a pocket for her birthday gift to her brother.     

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I love the look of serious concentration on her face.  It is tremendously difficult for her to control the machine's speed and keep a straight seam.  I am nearly bursting with pride at her increasing mastery.

And here is boy child, idly showing off yet another Lego set he has built.   That would be a mechanical shark eating a diver. Of course.

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That boy has been completely gobsmacked by Lego lately.  I've started figuring out how to handle our embarrassing large Lego collection.  We have Lego from The Man's childhood, plus much that has been collected and given and found for us over the years.  There may be some sort of genetic Lego thing happening.

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I should tell y'all about the Lego building activities at the library boy child has been attending.  There is much I've learned about organizing and helping kids expand their building repertoire.  Another post, perhaps. Because this post I'm taking about how we are all busy with activities.  So we have time to fold out the hidabed, eat treats, and watch musicals.  Boy child's current favorite is Mama Mia (there is a whole other post in that too, I'm sure).  Girl child is particularly favoring Little Shop of Horrors as of late.  I am totally open to musical ideas - both of my childs are nuts about them and I've watched Crybaby so many times that I want to cry. 

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This is my favorite.  I become insanely pleased when the kids paint stuff.

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The little pre-fab suncatcher kits from the dollar store are a favorite at the moment. They require little planning or creativity, but they present some tricky dexterity challenges for the preschooler, trying to keep the paint from glopping into the wrong spot. 

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Then you just pop 'er up in the window and done.  A tidy break from emotional investment in arts and crafts. 

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Here is boy child with our new favorite toy.  Actually, I've decided to refer to it as a math tool, having to do with planes and dimensions, but what it is is the coolest thing to play with.  I had one when I was younger and quite pleased to find them growing in popularity again.  Whatever these pin things are called.

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Another thing we've managed to find time to figure out is those darn Rainbow Loom things.  Well, the basic bracelet.  We haven't managed to make unicorns or minions or anything, but, hey, baby steps.

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Of course, in my post about how we've haven't been doing much at all, I actually photographed the kids doing stuff (except for maybe boy child sprawled out watching a movie, but he was actually quite busy memorizing the lyrics to Dancing Queen, which will obviously serve him well in his adult years) but what I am not showing is the best part: The hours upon hours that my childs have spent outside playing with the neighborhood kids.  Building forts in the snow, arguing, putting on shows, arguing, unearthing forgotten toys as the snow melts, arguing more, playing with the building blocks, kicking around balls, having massive arguments that involve projectiles... it's all good. 

Except the arguing.  That stuff gets right up my nose.

But I do recognize it as a normal part of learning how to get along with other and I find if I stay out of it, it becomes resolved quickly and everyone moves on.  I see it as my role to provide water and snacks whenever somebody becomes upset or overheated and other than that, make sure the projectiles aren't skin piercingly sharp.

Ah.  These are the best times.

Soon enough I'm sure I will forget that we like to stay unbusy and enroll the kids in too many programs again.  It seems I have another costuming assignment coming up involving some Victorian wear for a production of Sweeney Todd.  Which is kind of exciting, so I'm sure I'll get all wrapped up in that too.  And there is always more programs being developed that are interesting, theatre productions, roller derby to play, special exhibits and events happening around town that we will all want to be involved in.  In the meanwhile, however, I'm enjoying having a bit more free time to spend at home. 

4.02.2014

Attack of the Lumpy Space Princess clothes pegs

I knew they'd get around to it eventually.

Yesterday's craft was a bust, at least as far as actually engaging the childs, but then this morning I woke to busy little hands at the table.  The childs had pulled everything out for themselves. 

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They didn't fancy the paints today, however (part of me was glad), and the felt pens worked just fine for their project.

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Presenting Finn, Jake, Princess Bubblegum and the Nice King being swarmed by a self cloning cloud of Lumpy Space Princesses.  (Yes, the NICE king - y'all caught that episode, right?)

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It's odd to say that only a few short months ago we were completely innocent of the experience of Adventure Time but it has quickly become very dear to my children.  Despite my continuing objections to the show, it does have seem to have charmed my childs.  LSP and Ice King in particular (my kids always love the bad guys best).  Have I mentioned that boy child has asked for the Adventure Time theme to be his special bedtime song, the last thing he hears before he falls asleep?  Actually, since he likes to sleep with a giant preserved bee embedded in glow in the dark resin, singing Adventure Time to him is one of the most normal things about boy child's falling-to-sleep routine.

I swear, the kids aren't always stuck to a screen.  It just looks that way on, you know, the screen.


But, still, it's a fun little show.  And we even found a couple more Adventure Time toys from that giant fast food corporation that I'd prefer not to mention's toys in the thrift stores already.  We'll ride this fascination for awhile yet.

4.01.2014

peg family (or what craft my kids didn't do)

This past weekend I spent away at a roller derby bootcamp and when I came home Sunday evening I found The Man had moved our old tv from its hidden spot in the basement to the kids' room and hooked up our even older N64.

By late morning Monday the childs still hadn't emerged from their newly wired grotto so I decided to set up an enticing craft to draw them out.  A few days early I had brought home several bags of crafting clothes pegs (if you are nice, you will not remind me of my anti-craft supply rant from last week, I choose to believe it's different if I buy them from the thrift store) that I set out with some paints and some visual references (Google images) of their favorite characters from books and, even, Adventure Time.

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Oh, I think to myself, I am so clever! What child wouldn't want to do this rather than play brain rotting video games?

Which was, obviously, very silly thinking. 

An hour or two later I had this family portrait to show for my efforts:

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Painted by yours truly.

And this is what the childs were, still, doing:

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And are still today.

I am beginning to talk to my peg family children, being so lonely in the absence of my real children. 

When I suggested that the childs go easy on the controllers since, as I said, if we treat it well, their own children will be able to play these games too, girl child replied that her own kids won't be into video games but like nature instead.

Pfft.  Whatever.

I have decided to let the games stay in the room for another twenty four hours and they go back into the basement until, oh, next winter maybe?  In the meanwhile, I may use this little bit of quiet time (relative quiet time, ear muffs are still necessary) to catch up on my reading and laundry.

Video games aren't all bad.  And at least I have my peg babies.

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3.27.2014

prototype chickadee

Well, despite my whining about it, I did manage to get one project done, even with a house full of small humans.

Done, I said, though not necessarily done well.  This is little guy is a prototype, which for me means drawing  out a bunch of shapes, cutting them out of fabric and just seeing how it goes together.

Here is a little chickadee, for which I had no idea what I was doing with when I sewed him, but turned out, I believe, with a swollen, fat headed early spring sort of charm anyway.

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Oh, little fat head.  I can't tell if you are actually a chickadee or just a long legged penguin.

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I took these photos on top of my library book shelf (we must keep our library books separate from the general population, otherwise chaos ensues).  For some reason I have some books, Train Boy and Flower Girl (some early dolls I made for the childs) in a cage and a painting girl child made a few months ago behind.  Boy child just brought home the bird house from a crafty playdate with a few of his school mates.

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See the birdie mock the little caged human types.

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The redeeming feature of this chickadee is his legs and feet.  Though I know they are far from perfect, they really do hold up the fat guy and even can grasp a branch. 

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Alas he cannot fly and will have to make due with alternative means of transport.

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Though I've called this one a prototype, who knows when I will get time to make an improved companion.  I have another little chickadee project on the go, though, and a couple of 'how to sew birds' books coming in on interlibrary loan so I can start getting a grasp bird design.  The next chickadee, whenever he appears, will have some serious alterations.  Still, his feet make me smile.

spring break

It's spring break week for the school kids and, I don't know about other homeschoolers, but I find this week to be frantic and disruptive to our usual meanderings. The sudden influx of available friends during the day means that most of our routines fly out the window and I've got a house full of children. Have I mentioned how small my house is? A couple of extras in a six hundred an forty four square foot house is a significant alteration of the space/human ratio.
 
My style of supervising play is to chuck a pile of craft/art supplies at them and then run away.  If they start fighting, I call them to the table for snacks.  For children that are not mine that become problems, I will bring out the Lego.  The sheer amount of Lego we own overwhelms even the most belligerent of children and they will sit quietly for at an hour to look through it all.  And then they build something.  Nobody leaves until everything is cleaned up and put away.  This is all I do.

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I find it very difficult to work on my own projects even when the kids are busy with their friends.  I work best with quiet.  It is not quiet.  I don't know how the cat is doing this:

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Mostly I just wander the house with my pair of industrial ear muffs, puttering, drinking coffee.  

Do you see behind the kitty is a couple of pillows girl child has made?  This is what happens when I leave out any fabric, including quilt squares.  Maybe I should put together a few more quilt squares and 'accidentally' leave them out and see what she does with them?

How are you all surviving spring break?  Any other homeschoolers ready for the school to be back in?