Sunday, September 2, 2012

Democracy and Fair

       We had a town meeting yesterday morning that we had to bring the boys to.  We only had a week's notice about the meeting and had been unable to find a sitter.  I figured, though the meeting would be long and boring, it would also be a great learning opportunity for the boys to see democracy in action.  I'm not sure how much they noticed or learned though since I did allow them to bring their Nintendo Ds's.  I was glad I did too, since the meeting was two hours long with a lot of legal jargon repeated over and over again.  I'm not sure they could have made it through the meeting without their screens as I was ready to leave myself after an hour.  I did notice them occasionally watching what was going on; especially when it was time for voting so hopefully they've learned something. 
                After voting we tried to make an afternoon of fair fun.  A local town puts on a large agricultural fair each year for labor day weekend and the boys just love it.  My husband and I, not so much, but we decided to just get it over with.  We were there less than 30 minutes and decided it was just too hot to stay.  We were miserable and sweaty and all just wanted to jump in the lake to cool off.  So we came home and did just that.  The boys swam in the lake, rode the jet ski, jumped off the bridge, used the rope swing and swam, and swam and swam.  Apparently these are all things they do with daddy when I'm gone.  I'm kind of glad too.  It makes me nervous just watching them but they love it.   I was amazed that my boys were able to swim from the bridge they jump off, over to the rope swing, down to my brother in law's house (where they take a short break) and then all the way back to our house.  Evan is the only one who wears a life jacket... as I said they make me nervous but I was still amazed they are able to swim such a great distance but at least I was following along in my kayak if they needed any help.
                  We headed back into the fair around dinnertime as the sun was going down and the air was cooling and we had a much better time.  In fact, we stayed for almost 4 hours.  They rode a bunch of rides, and ate a bunch of junk food.  But they learned a lot too.  We got to make butter from heavy cream, taste maple cream, and a new breed of apple.  They got to see a bunch of animals like chickens, rabbits and sheep of all sizes, shapes and colors that local people had entered into the fair.  They saw baby chicks that were only 1-2 days old, and got to hold and pet them.  They even watched some newly hatching from their shells.   Alec spent 10 minutes at a booth reading all about beavers and beaver dams (we finally took a packet home for him to continue reading so we could move on to another booth).  He saw a magazine about wildlife that he now has on his Christmas wish list.   We saw a booth of taxidermy wildlife like bobcats, fishers, owls, birds and ducks set up by the Audubon society that the boys were very interested in and found a packet of local events they sponsor.  We saw a 4- h booth and discovered it's for boys and girls with tons of activities we'll definitely be looking into.   It was a wonderful learning venue loaded with fun.  They read, did math (how much have we spent, how much will this cost if we all want one, how many tickets do we each get, etc. since I made them figure it out instead of asking me), were exposed to some geography when we saw car licence plates from North Carolina, Oregon, etc, and saw a map made out of gourds.  We talked about all kinds of science concepts related to growing vegetables, raising animals and having farms.  They never even knew they were learning! 

             After walking through the art contest displays it reaffirmed our decision to enter artwork into next years' fair.   I really wanted to help the boys enter some work this year but had missed the deadline.  I was kicking myself for that last night as I figured Alec would've won.  I don't mean to brag but when we walked into the first building I told my husband that Alec's bird drawing reminded me of the ones we were looking at... upon closer inspection I realized I was looking at the grade 5-8 exhibit... by the time we made it down to the kindergarten booth he would have been entered in I was worried they wouldn't have believed it was drawn by a kindergartner!  His art teacher always told me he was a gifted artist and better than some of her fourth graders and I always nodded along but I guess I never really got it.. until last night!  I need to get him drawing again.  But not just opened ended "let's explore" type projects.  I've been exposing him to different media but trying not to give him assignments of what to draw.  I know his art teacher used to set up still lives or give them photographs to draw from and that's when he really excelled so that's what I need to start doing.  Ian would love to enter some work too and I want to support his creativity too.  I try so hard to help him take pride in his work too.  I'm always so afraid he could feel overshadowed by his younger brother since Alec does excel in school and art and many people comment on that.  But I keep reminding Ian he'd always choose something outside and more work related whereas Alec would happily read and draw all day.  The interest makes the difference in the outcome.  We discussed all the different ways you can enter the fair too-- art & drawing, sculpture, baking, sewing, etc.  I think perhaps wood working might be the venue for Ian so we'll start experimenting with that this year too, but perhaps if he's interested in winning a contest he'll put 100% effort into some artwork and blow us all away with his skill too.  You just never know! 
A sample of Alec's work... so you can judge for yourself. 

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