Friday, August 23, 2013

On Inappropriate Pictures

I know, I just said that David tends to draw in verbs....but now I can also say he sometimes draws in adjectives.  Very specific, anatomically correct adjectives--like in this self portrait for instance:

After showing me his masterpiece and pointing out each of his various body parts, both private and public (and after I convinced him to draw some undies and clothes on himself) he asked me to draw an anatomically correct self portrait as well.


David:  But I want to know what lady parts look like.

Me:  (crying on the inside)  Lady parts are private and special honey.  Ladies don't show their lady parts to boys.  

David:  That's not true.  Your num nums are private but you show them to John Michael all the time when he's milking you.

Me:   (face palm)  Number one, John Michael is not milking mommy.  John Michael is drinking mommy's milk.  You milk a cow.  There is a difference.  I don't care if there's not a difference, that's just not how we say it.  Number two, it is okay for babies to see their mommy's num nums, you just don't look at other lady's num nums who aren't feeding babies.

David:  (blank look)

Me:  I'm not drawing you a picture of lady parts.

David:  (undeterred)  Well, then I'm going to ask the librarian for a book all about lady parts so I can learn all about them myself.

This is the problem with not having any sisters.

He's been popping "lady parts" questions on me at random moments for a couple of months now, hoping to catch me off guard, but he must be getting desperate if he's resorted to trying to trick me into drawing him a picture.  I think I might have settled the question at the zoo this week when a pair of otters swam by and I pointed out the differences between the boy and the girl--I suppose only time will tell.......

On the positive side, apparently he's internalized the message that you can learn anything you want to know about from books.

If anyone has any tips on talking to little boys about the differences between them and little girls I would love to hear them.  I generally pass these types of inquiries to Chris but I think his explanation that girls are "inside out" has done more to peak David's curiosity than satisfy it.  

In the mean time I guess I can expect a lot more pictures like this one:

And grandma and grandpa Reintjes can just let me know if they would like me to send them the original to hang up in their new place :)

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Kindergarten at Home

We decided not to send David to Kindergarten this year.

Okay, really he's got a late birthday so we wouldn't put him into an actual school this year regardless, so I guess what I'm saying is that this year is a homeschooling trial run--if it's a total failure we'll call a do-over next year and check out the schools in wherever it is we will be living by then.  Of course if that place is Guam we'll probably keep plugging away at the homeschooling even if I am a total homeschool failure.

Now, when I say I'll be teaching David at home I mostly mean that I'll start teaching him to read (using this) and we'll keep playing lots of math games....and probably work on writing (only because he's really into writing now and I don't want him to get into bad habits with the way he forms his letters)........and we'll continue reading lots of good books, painting and playing, and of course spending lots of time outside--I mean, doing nature study.

And calendar time!

I'm super proud of my calendar :)

I've seen lots of cute bulletin board calendars floating around and I took bits and pieces from several different places (weather station, temperature chart, liturgical calendar wheel) to make ours.  My plan is to have a bit of a morning basket time each day where we do the calendar, check the temperature and weather outside and then read a Bible, saint, or character/manners story or some poetry depending on the day and then break for some playful learning type activities that I'll rotate each week.  We'll see how it goes.......

I've been collecting Montessori type math materials for the boys to work with this year mostly because I won this amazing Montessori giveaway so I figured I might as well get a few more to round things out!  David's favorite so far is the hundred board although he also loves his Cuisenaire Rods--which aren't exactly Montessori but I remember working with them as a little girl so they just felt right :)

Of all the preparation I've done, I've had the most fun re-configuring our "library" into more of a homeschool room.  It's such a tiny room, I eventually just gave up on fitting adult sized furniture in aside from our bookshelves, and now it feels much larger.  The boys have a child-sized desk from my grandparents' house and another little white table and chair set from IKEA to work at and I also recovered some old brown cubes we had in a prettier blue color which gives me something to sit on besides the floor.....

There's also an easel and my sewing cabinet crammed in there as well which I apparently did not take a picture of.  Here's our nature treasure area that sits under the sewing cabinet though, so that's something.....

Right now it contains an assortment of rocks, shells, nuts and various dead bugs/scorpions/frogs that the kids have picked up and lovingly preserved.  See?  Nature study--I think I've pretty much got Kindergarten science covered :)

I'm really excited to get going.  I told David we'd start right after his birthday, once he's officially five (mostly because I need to get a few more things laminated and his reading materials prepped first).  I want to take things slowly and just have short little lessons that only last as long as David is interested.  I'm thinking an hour a day max, if that.  The last thing I want to do at this age is squash his excitement and love of learning with long, cumbersome lessons that he's not ready for or interested in.

David is pretty excited to start too........Chris told him that all the math activities I've been putting together will make him smart.  David said he doesn't want to be smart, he wants to be like his dad.

I'm sure he'll change his tune once he gets a little older and realizes my math shortcomings.  After all, his daddy did win my heart by doing my Calculus homework for me :)

Wish me luck!  I'm sure I'll let you all know how it goes!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

On Nap Dropping

or David Stopped Napping and Mommy Lost Her Mind

David gave up his nap this year.  I didn't realize how much of my sanity depended on my children's regular and reliable napping.  I mean, for years I had a good three hours of simultaneously napping children to do with as I pleased....well, to do quiet things as I pleased, but still.......

Without nap time I think I was slowly losing my will to mother.  I tried unsuccessfully filling nap time in with "quiet time," then eventually settled on "special time" for David while the other boys an effort to, you know, make David feel more special.  That tended more and more often to playing games with him that involved me being a rock or a boulder or some other stationary object while he pranced around me and I lay down on the floor trying not to fall asleep.

Kind of like this, but on the floor....

Mommy needs a break.....or some kind of a caffeine drip IV......

Then one day I had a scathingly brilliant idea while I was brainstorming with Aunt Julia on the phone.....what if I leveraged David's "special time" with the successful completion of a one hour "quiet time" first?

Don't tell the special time police....I'm pretty sure the first rule of "special time" is not to talk about special time....I mean, not to make it contingent on anything......but mamma's got to do what mamma's got to do.   I've now got a good hour with all the children in their respective spots--if not all sleeping, at least being relatively quiet and

And then on glorious days like this one, I check the even quieter than usual quiet time room only to find that--wonder of wonders--quiet time really has turned into nap time and for a few precious minutes I have three simultaneous nappers.

I like to think of it as a quiet time miracle.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

On Painting with Verbs

I was recently listening to Andrew Pudewa's talk on Teaching Boys and Other Children Who Would Rather Make Forts All Day and I found myself laughing out loud and nodding vigorously in agreement.

Boys and girls are different.  They think differently.  They learn differently.   They create differently.

Take for example this painting:

It began simply enough.  David announced that he was going to paint a red boat.  Then he added waves (those squiggly lines at the bottom) complete with white caps and a beautiful sun up top.  I was so proud!  Look at all those lovely details!

Then things took a bit of a turn.  Apparently when my son paints, he doesn't paint in adjectives--he paints in verbs.  He paints a story.

Unfortunately for his boat, a storm rolled in and clouds covered the sun.  Then there was some lightning followed by torrential rain, and soon there was nothing left to be seen of that little boat.  He did assure me though, that the sailors on board were able to locate the treasure they were searching for right under that red "x" at the bottom of the painting, so.....that was a relief.

Is this the prettiest painting I've ever seen? it sure does have a lot of action hidden in it and it was so fun to watch his process unfold and listen to his story as he painted that I wouldn't dream of intervening and making suggestions to attempt to make it "better."  

If you have a little time and three dollars I would highly recommend listening to the lecture.  I learned a lot of things I had never heard before about gender differences (which is crazy since I have degrees in both Elementary Education and School Psychology), and the research he quotes seems very sound.   Also, he presents some really good information about motivating children in general that would be beneficial to parents of boys and girls alike.  And, as if that weren't enough, there's an accompanying book list geared toward boys (including resources for their parents/teachers) organized by grade level--because that's what I need in my life, more book lists.

Let me know if you listen to it or have already heard it before!  I'd love to hear your thoughts :)

Monday, August 5, 2013

Tales From Our Garden: vol 5 {Attack of the Tomato Worm}

Our poor garden has gotten a little out of control......

I've learned that I'm not a good plant pruner.  Partly because I'm not sure of the exact right way so clearly I couldn't just give it a try and see what happens, but also it always seems like I shouldn't prune because that branch might bear good fruit so clearly I shouldn't cut it off....I should let it live!

There's probably a spiritual lesson in there somewhere.

Aside from tomatoes, beans and one pepper....our garden has produced no other veggies......not even the zucchini or yellow squash which I was under the impression were impossible not to have an overabundance of.  Everything grew, everything flowered....then flowered again.....then again.....then.....nothing.  Well, not nothing; the zucchini and squash plants did shrivel up and die so that's something I suppose.  I'm not sure where we went wrong--our climate or our soil mix or my sad gardening skills, or a combination of all three?

The things that grew best are the beans, which of course are the things I like least.

And, as if it wasn't already bad enough that we have to pick our tomatoes before they are perfectly ripe to stop the raccoons from feasting on them, this week, to add insult to injury, our very best tomato plant was attacked by this horrifically disgusting worm.

He took out half the tomatoes in one day.

So we put him in a time out.

Delicious.  This was cuter when it was happening in The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

I think we are going to pull out the sad garden soon, reassess the soil and put in our "fall garden" which apparently is something you can do when you live in Florida.  Since I'm planning on doing some intensive Beatrix Potter reading with the boys for the start of David's not-really-Kindergarten-year I'm thinking carrots, lettuce, cabbage and radishes are all in order.

Hopefully we will have better luck and I can stop despairing at my total and complete lack of gardening skills and also maybe learn to prune a plant with reckless abandon.

I'll keep you posted.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Seven Quick Takes: The First Edition

Since I have several random stories buzzing around in my head, and one of them involves a dangerous and seriously creepy critter, I thought I would join in on the fun and make an effort at my very first seven quick takes post.  Well, here goes.....she begins lamely........

Jen has regaled us all with her hilarious scorpion wrangling adventures and I admit that I (along with many others I'm sure) laughed aloud on more than one occasion.  Well, this week I realized that scorpion infestations are only funny when they are happening in someone else's house.

No mom wants to hear her children delightedly shrieking, "Mom! Mom!  We found a scorpion in our room!" first thing in the morning....or ever really......

At least it was already dead when they discovered it.....but it must have been alive at some point to crawl inside.......and thanks to Mrs. Fulwiler I'm now having nightmares about the potential of awakening to scorpions in the bed stinging me repeatedly.

On the upside I think I can settle the age-old alligator/scorpion debate and say that the answer is both, it is worse to have both the threat of alligators outside and scorpions inside and apparently here in Florida that is a distinct possibility.  I'm imagining telling the children to RUN! run outside to save yourselves from the scorpions! only to find a giant alligator staring you down, daring you to try to pass him.......

In other not sleeping news, I lost John Michael's last paci this week at the vet--the other one disappearing the week before at the zoo.  Smug mother that I am I decided that in lieu of purchasing pacis (as these first two came as free gifts from Motherhood Maternity and also--I am cheap) I would just end the paci use now.  After all he's six months and that's when I took the pacifiers from Henry--albeit not cold turkey.....

John Michael was not amused.

The first night was fine.  The second night he refused sleep and screamed as if he has a scorpion in his footie pajamas.  The third night.....he slept like a baby.....a baby with a brand new store-bought paci in his mouth.....

Speaking of overtired children, this is what we walked in to when checking on a certain little boy who was sent to our room for throwing a fit about how dinner wasn't "good to" him and also "not nutritious" for him.  Apparently he thinks a diet consisting solely of PB&J sandwiches with an occasional side of cheese is the most nutritious one for cranky four year olds.....

He pulled down daddy's (stinky) PT shirt and made a sort of calm down cocoon in order to--I'm not sure--show us who's boss?  He promptly fell asleep.  I promptly had Chris remove him from the shirt partly because I was afraid he couldn't breathe, but mostly because he looked really creepy......

Creepy cocoon children drove me to the pantry, but instead of eating secret handfuls of chocolate chips as per usual, I decided to make these homemade peanut butter cups but I used dark chocolate because dark chocolate is what I love.  Mine ended up looking slightly deformed--but I can assure you they were delicious and I can also assure you that I did not share them with the children.


I'm sorry, here I am blathering on and you probably just wanted some more baby cuteness.  

Here's John Michael emptying his toy basket....clearly he is learning from the best.......




I'm thinking this weekend will be the weekend of baby-proofing--cabinet locks to keep him out of the chemicals and a baby gate to keep him out of the big boys' room and consequently the legos/marbles?  Chris is a little upset that we got rid of our gates when we moved here and (he claims) I said we didn't need them anymore since we no longer had stairs.  I maintain that he threw them out in a fit of garage decluttering.  I think we'll just have to agree to disagree.  And also buy a new gate.

My mom gave me several boxes of slides from my grandparents' house to go through and convert into digital files using this bad boy that we bought for the job.  Here are a few favorites so far:

A twenty-something mom with an unknown dog and glorious hair.

A very handsome grandpa wearing a spiffy suit in the formal living room.

A young aunt also in the formal living room with the sweetest outfit....and apparently my grandparents used to have a piano?

And this is one of my most favorites--for as long as I can remember my grandpa fed the squirrels outside his house.  He constructed a whole system of ramps that they could run down to different feeding platforms where piles of corn were waiting and we could also feed them pecans off of straightened out wire hangers.   Apparently the squirrel feeding wasn't just for the benefit of the grandchildren, because this picture is old and I'm pretty sure by the time we arrived on the scene, slides weren't exactly the fashion anymore :)

I'm sure I'll keep you posted on any more gems I uncover along the way...and by "I," I mean of course Chris because he's the one who always ends up carrying out all of my best ideas.

And if I were you I'd pop over to Jen's to see many, many, many more quick takes!
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