Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Print-Rich Environment

Nah, my kids don't like books or anything. Nope, not one little bit.

Our latest treasures from the library include Dinosaurs After Dark (which actually reads a lot like In the Night Kitchen, Baby Brains, Earth to Stella!, and several put out by Barefoot Books. I like almost all of the books we've taken out, but my personal favorites by far are the ones from Barefoot Books. They just do such a wonderful job.. I've never known them to make a crappy book. We took out a lovely one on fairies, one about African pancakes (haven't read that one yet), and a multicultural counting book.

In other book news, I attended my first Usborne Books party. I really liked quite a few of their books and we ended up ordering five. Some were a little goofy, but definitely not any goofier than stuff you find in regular book stores. Can't wait to get the books.. I have no idea when they'll be coming, though.

I started reading some of the first Harry Potter book to Colwyn and it held his interest fairly well. Then we got sidetracked with two weeks of family visiting, so we're still only in the second chapter. I'll have to start that up again as he seemed to understand what was going on and even talked about it spontaneously later on.


Fieldtrips Galore

We've had three big fieldtrips in the past week, what fun. I already talked about our trip to the wildlife sanctuary, so that's one down.

Last Wednesday, I took the kids into Boston to the Scooper Bowl at City Hall Plaza. We went with Jen, Calvin, and Miles, and took the Blue Line in from Wonderland. The boys had a great time on the T and it was so cute seeing Colwyn and Calvin sitting next to each other, looking out the window, pointing out planes and the tracks and other trains going past. Getting out of the subway station was not fun, though, as the stop wasn't handicapped accessible and we had strollers with us. In fact, the first trip up the escalator was downright dangerous and I feel like an idiot for even trying it. Then we dragged our strollers up another flight of stairs, each carrying our youngest child while the older kids went up in front of us. Blech.

The actual event was pretty fun, though. It was packed and hot but we got to taste a lot of delicious ice cream. The kids had fun playing and running around, and we saw two young kids (I dunno, maybe about ten years old?) playing guitar and drums, and their song selection was great (I'm blanking on what it was, but it was older music that you really wouldn't expect ten year olds to know). Very cute.

On the way back, Colwyn and Calvin talked even more, and Lachlann slept in his stroller, even with all the commotion on the T. It was a lot of work, but a really fun outing.

Our other outing was on the weekend, June 10th, I think. We took the kids to the Dragon Boat Festival on the Charles River. Aside from watching the boats on the river, which Lachlann loved, they got to see a demonstration of drumming and martial arts. There were a lot of craft type activities set up, but Colwyn wasn't really interested. We did get to sample a lot of Asian food, including my favorite, Pad Thai. Mmmm. Dad came with us and we met up briefly with his friend, Peter.

Here's a link to another Shutterfly album with pictures from the Festival as well as the Scooper Bowl, Wildlife Sanctuary, and others: http://share.shutterfly.com/action/welcome?sid=8Absm7ho0bNmH7.

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Natural Wonders

One of our homeschooling friends mentioned a book she was reading called Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. It's by Richard Louv. So, I checked it out from the library and have been reading it here and there as I get time. It's a really interesting book and it seems to fit with a lot of our experiences.

I'm not one for the heat, but there's something wonderful about just sitting outside. When it's terribly hot, we stay very close to the pool, but when it's cooler we run around barefoot in the grass, swing for hours, tend to our garden, and look for shapes in the clouds. There's something almost.. healing.. about sitting out on the deck as the sun sets, watching the kids run around in the yard, throwing a ball to the dog, and wiggling my toes in the grass. I have fond memories of spending long periods of time in the woods, near the lake, or along a creek, and I want my boys to have that as well.

Our tadpoles are doing really well. We added some rocks to their aquarium and they love swimming amongst them. Still no sign of legs, but they're quite huge. They go through about an ounce of boiled lettuce a day. Colwyn has been working on a little booklet on the life cycle of frogs.. here are a few pictures:

Today when we were playing outside, Colwyn found a really neat looking caterpillar. We put it in his bug jar and brought it inside so we could try to identify it. After about a half hour of searching online, we found out it's a Orgyia leucostigma, or a White-marked tussock moth caterpillar. Turns out that it's actually kind of a pest, but I think we'll try to raise it anyway. Doug took the boys out to gather leaves to give it, and boy did it go crazy eating them.

We also went to the Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary for the first time last week. It wasn't what I was expecting at all, but it was still pretty fun. We saw a few chipmunks, lots of birds, a lovely blue butterfly, and we got covered in caterpillars. They were hanging from long silks suspended from the trees all up and down the path and we didn't see them until it was too late. It was actually kind of gross.. along each strand were dozens and dozens of wriggling little caterpillars. But the kids liked them, so oh well. I did have that icky feeling like things were crawling over me all day, though.. yuck. Here are some pictures from that trip:

As always, we've been hard at work in our garden. I've harvested quite a bit of spinach already and Doug has trimmed some of the onions to use in, err.. something. When Colwyn and I were picking some flowers to give to my mom the other day, I was marveling over these giant puffball type flowers. I came in to look up online what it might be and was delighted to discover we have a huge amount of chives growing in our side yard. So I made a delicious bacon chive cream cheese.. mm. Just like Bruegers. Here's a picture of the very first spinach leaves we harvested:

So really we're just enjoying our "old-fashioned" summer.. lots of playing in the grass, looking for creepy crawlies, and doing other fun boy stuff. It's so nice to be able to just relax and enjoy my kiddos.


Saturday, June 02, 2007

Following Your Kid's Lead

So much of our parenting is based on the idea that it's much easier if we take our cues from our kids. It's never failed us before.

Take sleeping habits, for instance. We start bedtime at eight o'clock. They never fight bedtime, we get into our jammies, read a bunch of stories, brush our teeth, hug and kiss the kids goodnight, and leave the room. They fall asleep on their own and only need a little reassuring every now and then. They're 3 and 1, and we never forced them into any of it, never left them alone to cry, nothing.

When Colwyn was a little baby, he started fussing and resisting when I would try to rock him for naps. I thought I'd give him a break and put him down in his crib so I could get a drink. He was quiet, and when I came back, he was sound asleep. We moved smoothly into putting him down awake from there, always gentle with him, and he never had to scream for 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes or more. When he was sick and needed more soothing, we allowed it because we trusted that he knew what he needed.

The same thing worked for Lachlann, although it took a little longer. In fact, I had actually begun to doubt my theory when he decided he was capable of falling asleep on his own. Ah ha, validation.

This method of following their lead has worked in virtually every other area of parenting. If we wait until they are ready for something, it goes much more smoothly than if we tried to force it. So why wouldn't I apply that to my children's education?

I have faith that when my children see a need to know something, they'll learn it. And because they're motivated by their own needs and desires, they'll learn it that much quicker. I see it happening now. Colwyn picks up things that he finds interesting and we learn about until he's no longer interested. Without me pushing him, he's learned his alphabet and is starting to show interest in recognizing some numbers. Despite what his speech therapist advised, I never forced him to hold his pencil (or crayon) the proper way, and as he desires more precision, he's adjusted his grip to the proper way, all on his own.