Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Watercolors in the Rain

The kids spent the afternoon in the sprinkler. They ride their plasma cars or bikes in and out of the water. Michael soon tired of this - we've had the sprinkler out almost every day for the last 2 weeks. The temps have topped 100.

So, I broke out the side walk chalk. He drew a seashell in green, then decided to explore chalk in the water of the sprinkler. The effect was beautiful. The driveway is black asphalt and the water both blurred the chalk and deepened the color. It looked like Burt's drawing's in Mary Poppins.

As Michael started this project, it began to rain. We turned off the sprinkler. Lindsay left the ballet she was directing in the garage and joined him in the rain. They covered the side walk in pink, green, blue, and yellow water.

After sidewalk chalk we came inside and were cleaning up. Lindsay panicked. "Mom! We haven't done any homeschooling today!" I tried to explain that she'd been learning all day -- hiking, playing the "listening and looking game", on our nature scavenger hunt, reading books in the car, reading books in the house, singing with her Sandra Boyton CD, making lunch together, reading about dingoes then pretending to be dingoes, reading about wild cats of North America, practicing bike riding without the training wheels. These were all enriching activities. She was unconvinced. I was thrilled. Not that she wanted to sit down and "homeschool" but that she had had a fabulous enriching day and didn't once feel like I was trying to "school" her! Success!

Still it was not surprising that she asked to do "patterns" a few minutes later. She loves figuring out and I'm sure it feels like homeschooling to her. The only problem? She's so good at it, I'm hard-pressed to create any that are challenging. We've done shapes, colors, numbers, equations. So I wrote the following:

1/2 , 2/4 , 3/6 , 4/8 , 5/10 ...

She paused for all of 2 seconds before writing 6/12. Now, at 5, I don't think she understands what these fractions mean. We've talked about halves and fourths when cooking and when drawing circles, but I don't think she's aware of the divison symbol - except for seeing it on measuring cups. Still... to get the numerator and denominator and not to get flustered by the new arrangement of a number on top of another. I was excited! So, I decided to up the ante a bit:

1/3 , 2/6 , 3/9 ...

I had to leave the room to help Michael. When I came back, 4/12 was written in sequence. My mom was standing a few feet away. I asked if she helped her. Nope. How is this possible? We certainly haven't practiced counting by 3s. Much less within the context of a fraction. See why I'm at a loss on how to make this more difficult? She wanted to keep going, but I couldn't think of anything, so I resorted to shapes. Please, send suggestions!!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Hi. It's been a while.

And so much has happened. Let me explain. No, let me sum up.

1. Working way less (3-8 days a month)

2. Staying home way more. Matt back to work full time in Raleigh.

3. Trying to sell the house. Matt living in tiny apartment in Raleigh.

4. Enrolled Lindsay in Raleigh magnet lottery. Lindsay protested, begged to be homeschooled. Didn't match to any of our choices. Enrolled her in Spanish language immersion program here. Lindsay protested, begged to be homeschool. Thought I knew better since Lindsay loved preschool. Decided to move to Raleigh despite house not being anywhere CLOSE to selling. Enrolled L&M in summer art camp in Raleigh that is a preschool during school year. Kids LOVED it. Decided to register Lindsay as a homeschooler (oops, haven't done that paperwork yet) and home/unschool but send her to Arts Together preschool because (1) she loves it (b) there just happened to be 1 spot left in the entire preschool (3) they have yoga in the afternoon and (d) the teachers are FABULOUS.

5. Put Michael on the waiting list for Arts Together. He says, "I like black now because Miss Lauren (dance teacher) has black hair and wears a black shirt".

6. Working WAY more days this month than intended so spending time at my parents house so they can babysit. Being back at home, now that's humbling.

7. Started "officially homeschooling" - way more structured than I'd planned. Tweaking it. Some days I get out the workbooks. Other days I just record what we do to prove that Lindsay is "accomplishing something". I know I'm not a radical unschooler. I don't have it in me. But I do believe in natural learning. I don't want to do more damage at home with curriculum and my own agenda and strip Lindsay of her natural love for learning. And Lindsay is INCREDIBLY aware of and resistant to being coerced in anyway. "Try this!" ... "NO!" So we take it one step at a time.

8. Lindsay remains in remission (YEAH!!)

9. Lindsay's blood lead levels remain slightly higher than typical. This is something that happened a year prior to her being diagnosed with leukemia. Long story. Rental house, crappy landlord (would love to post a link to his prominent profile but will resist, you know who you are you jaguar-driving insert-expletive-here), crappy painters hired on the cheap by aforementioned landlord. Lead levels up, leukemia a year later. My suspicions have been up ever since. Michael's levels are normal (he was too young for significant risk of exposure when we were in the rental). We hoped Lindsay's would drop, apparently that happens. But they haven't. So I'm up in a state of irrational anxiety. The kind that mothers are good at, but cancer moms perfect. My fears are as follows: (1) did we cause her leukemia by allowing her to be exposed to lead paint (thus far I am unable to find any connection and her levels are actually within the "normal range", just a tad higher than most kids), (2) if we didn't cause her leukemia, will this low grade lead exposure cause some other problems for her down the road (obviously the IQ reduction that has been published is not apparently a problem, she's so bright... but... what would she be like without the lead exposure, without the chemo, without the 6 months in the hospital without Vitamin D)... she how crazy it feels in my head?

10. So, I'm awake at 1:22 am, in my parents house, thinking about how tired I'm going to feel tomorrow morning. But I'm also kind of looking forward to that cup of coffee and just getting the day started.

11. I'm also thinking about advertising this blog a bit more. Now that I've gotten the crazy out of my system, what do you think? Should I recruit readers? Or just write for the 2 of you who are reading :)