“Sciency”

Buds and Buster were talking about black holes.

Buds was talking about what he had read could happen when two black holes are close together.

Buster said, “I read that in a black hole time stops. There is no time.”

Buds, “Do you think that’s true?”

Buster, “Some people would say that’s the craziest thing on Earf (Earth), but it’s actually just very sciency.

That’s our boy.

Reading Time

I’ve been looking back over pictures, and thinking about the flow of our days. Especially now that The Buster is enjoying reading so much, too, we spend A LOT of our day reading, reading, reading. For Buds and me, it brings us such a peaceful joy to see the children so alive to the wonders that books offer.

Reading with Grandma--Even when you can read for yourself, it's still fun to be read to.

A snuggly blanket and a pile of books...ahhhhh...

Even the cat wants to see the pictures.

Dad begins the indoctrination of "The Lord Of The Rings."

"Time Traveler" has been money well spent.

The broken arm didn't hinder reading.

Princess pajamas and a book...perfect.

Lovely light

Three-for-one

Yessa can get anyone to read her a story.

Buster likes being the teacher.

Snuggled in

Plenty of room on this couch for a book and a snuggle.

Zoe and The Box

About half-way through her broken arm adventure Zoe was trying to explain to a friend what having a broken arm with a full-arm cast felt like.

“It’s like putting a box over your arm and leaving it on all the time. Now try living your life.”

She’s pretty glad to be done with her box.

The Blurry Line Between Minecraft and Reality

A whole series of posts could be done about our family’s interactions with Minecraft. It has brought the children closer friendships with beloveds, allowed them to create fantastic, imaginative structures that amaze Buds and me, and exponentially increased their understanding of computer frameworks. The olders each have their own server which they administrate, and the typing and spelling necessary to orchestrate all these interactions has brought much growth.

There are a host of other benefits as well, but also a funny set of wrinkles that is totally new for this generation.

They don’t always know if something from Minecraft is really in real life. At least once a week or so, one of them will ask me a question like, “Is such and so from real life?”

“Is obsidian in real life?”

Off we go to the computer to learn about the “real life” thing that has bled over into Minecraft.

Did you know that obsidian is so sharp it is used in scalpel blades? Neither did we, until we researched it.

“Is the Nether in real life?”

This question lead to a discussion about Hell and what the Nether represents, and does that apply to real life.

Buster, Yessa, and Cousin O generally are online skyping together to play Minecraft every morning before Cousin leaves for school. When they first started playing, The Buster was the most advanced player, and he “spoke softly and carried a big stick.” At least once each morning you could hear Yessa or O shrieking, “No, Bumbram! Don’t do that.” Or, “No, Bumbram, don’t ban me!” Buster had to learn to be a benevolent dictator since his skill in Minecraft surpassed the other two. If he didn’t heed them, it was two against one, which isn’t sustainable if you want to have someone to play with. Lesson learned.

Oh, and the online names: Buster thought up “Bumbram” many years ago as a name for himself, and it has carried through as his online persona. Now it carries over into real life as well. Yessa is just as likely to call him, “Bum” during the day as she is his “real” name. Not sure what other people think because for our family it doesn’t even register as any different from his other names. Of course, he also gets called “Doodles,” so it will be no surprise if the child develops a split personality somewhere down the pike.

So, a toast to online interaction that is healthy, respectful, thoughtful, and supportive, and a toast to real life interaction that is the same. May we all be blessed with friends online and in real life that care for us with love.

Shared Laughter

Buds was showing me a reddit post last night, asking the general question of people who had gone through a divorce:

“Looking back, could you see signs from the very beginning, or was the end of your relationship a surprise?”

After asking him if he was trying to tell me something (He wasn’t.), it was fascinating to read through all the comments.

One that struck me was the man who said as he was getting ready to go stand up front at his wedding, his boss pulled him aside and said, “My truck is parked right outside. There’s 10 grand in the glove box, and it’s got a full tank of gas. Get in it and drive! I’m not kidding it’s parked right there!”

The groom just laughed, and was divorced a couple months later, greatly in debt thanks to his ex-wife.

So, I’ve been thinking about those comments, and about our family. Several people mentioned “The Canoe Test,” as a way to know if your relationship was one that would last. You take a canoe trip together and if both of you come out of the water at the end of the trip, laughing, with great stories, you are ready to commit. I don’t like that idea because Buds and I took a canoe trip early on and I was a royal, controlling pain in the keister. Truly, a wench.

But, what if you consider a laughter test? So often I hear from my friends who have good relationships and strong families about how they have little family jokes, or they tease each other, or how much laughter they share. I’m so grateful Buds and I share a similar sense of humor and that we crack each other up! How horrid would it be to have a partner who didn’t know how to laugh?

And our kids share a similar funny bone, too. Family jokes, and making kids cackle with laughter, is a favorite part of my day. Even just acting silly enough to have Monkey say, “Mooommmm!” in that “You are being too silly” voice, makes me smile.

So, here’s to strong love, strong laughter, and strong relationships. May we all be so blessed.

Dragonfly

I was having a bit of a rough slog toward the end of February. And as always, when one of us is having a rough go, the other one steps up to be shield and buckler.

Buds sent me this verse of love:

Under budding trees
Sunlight warms the kettlebell
Dragonfly alights

The dragonfly is my totem, plus references to Spring and CrossFit.

He’s good…

He’s very good…

It’s Already Coming True…

We were driving home from church on a January eve and we saw the first star come out. Everyone made a wish, and that night, when I was snuggling into bed with the Buster while he fell asleep, he said, “Mom, want to know what I wished for?”

“Sure,” I said.

“I wished for us all to live a long and happy life… It’s already coming true.”

Sometimes I get glimpses of the very old soul that lives in this little person’s body…

Kids’ Disney Favorites

I meant this to be a longer, more involved post, but life has moved on so quickly. We’ve been home from Disney for months now.
But, for posterity’s sake, here are the items the children mentioned:

Zachary and Noa both loved the pool we had at the house we rented.

Zoe loved Space Mountain.  She rode it 5 times.

Noa also loved Space Mountain, which was such a surprise and delight to me.

Buds and I have said that going to Disney now requires a stay at a house with a pool. It really added so much pleasure to our entire trip. Kudos to Aunt A for finding such a great house for all of us to share and enjoy.

Scientific Inquiry or Oobleck is so cooleck!

We had some friends over last week to hang out. They are going to start homeschooling next year, and the mom wanted to talk about things. At first she wanted to come over to “watch us homeschool,” but I had to laugh and tell her, “You are welcome to come over and watch us sit on the couch and read together, but maybe just plan to come over and play and visit.”

As karma would have it, the morning they were coming over, Zachy was reading a science book and wanted to set up an experiment. So, when they arrived, we were right in the middle of a fun experiment, and we looked just like schooly homeschoolers, which cracks me up.

Then, a couple days later, Buster and Yessa and Monkey decided they wanted to make volcanoes, so out came lots of experiment supplies, and they blew things up for awhile. I remembered I had gotten corn starch at TJ’s, and asked if they wanted to play around with oobleck. Well?! Who doesn’t want to play around with oobleck.

I had forgotten how crazy oobleck is.

And that you don’t want to pour it down your sink…

What will happen?

Feels a little slippery.

Then out came the electricity kit...

The sweet "Bunny Bread" Liz brought to share.

Snuggled in to watch a movie together after the busy day.

The other wonderful thing about this day, besides time with Liz, O, and S, was that Liz did a write up on her blog about the day, and it was fascinating to read her perspective of our life. Her blog is “closed,” so I can’t link to it, but here is the write up:

My gracious friend Jennie opened up her house so we could invade for a morning. While the kids ran around like maniacs, we pored over books and I asked question after question.

Unschooling: A movement founded on the principle that children learn best when they pursue their own natural curiosities and interests.

A day at Jennie’s house usually involves lots of reading together and pursing what the kids want to learn. Jennie is cunning, of course – she “happens” to leave interesting history and science books around, and finds it fascinating to see who picks it up first. While we were there, her middle child asked to do a science experiment, and her eldest pulled out a box of circuit building parts and told me how she loves history books because of all the stories in them.

Styrofoam planets float serenely above the piano. All over Jennie’s house I found the signs of free-wheeling and exuberant learning – from the solar system hanging on the wall, to the piles of books, the magnetic poetry lining the stairs and kid projects everywhere.

I was also struck by the way Jennie paid close attention when one of her children came to her with a question or comment. They knew she was listening. She was also comfortable telling them they would need to wait and learn more about it later.

Jennie candidly said that they were a little more structured than when they first started. Right now, from morning until about 1pm is no screen time. Lots of reading and working on various kid-selected projects. In the afternoon they can use the computer or iPad. There’s plenty of chances to get out and play, but so much of what they did while we were there was clearly BOTH learning and play. Jennie said the hard part was actually protecting their quiet time at home, since in Northern Virginia they could literally find something to go out and do every day of the week.

Notes to myself:

– Virginia is very straightforward on homeschooling. Submit a letter of intent (NOT a request for permission) and a brief description of curriculum goals. By August of next year, submit the results of an achievement test that show adequate learning has taken place. The bar is set pretty low.

– I love the easy rhythm of unschooling. Time to play, learn, rest, savor a meal, and whatever else the day may bring. Sam was visibly relaxed by the end of the morning.

– I do think I’ll need some additional structure, especially as we get started. Olivia is a schedule-girl – she likes to know when things are going to happen. And some areas, like math, I want to make sure we’re hitting our milestones.

– I’m totally getting more bookcases.

Liz makes us sound so cool and interesting and fun and progressive. I want to be this person she’s talking about. 😉