Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Eggcitement is just too much!

         I woke feeling anxious once again about our unschooling; I had a dream in the middle of the night where the boys had to go back to public school and the school official was yelling at me that they couldn't read and write.  I know that's not true but it still makes me feel a bit anxious now and then to think about how far we've deviated from traditional schooling.  I had already decided to talk to the boys today about how they were feeling about unschooling since we've now been at it for a while and they've had a chance to see what it's all about.  Plus, I'll admit, I do miss planning lessons.  I see all these great ideas on Pinterest I think I'd like to try with the boys but I do hold back, not wanting to take over again and make us all miserable.  I do make suggestions and occasionally plan "fun" things but not real lessons.   I have continued reading up on the subject of unschooling and do think we've  been heading in the right direction but it's always nice to hear what the boys think. 
       On the way to the grocery store I broached the subject with the boys and was surprised to find out that Ian and Evan both told me that unschooling is boring and they miss my planning lessons!  I was shocked!  I even said "so you want me to go back to planning lessons; like when I used to plan them and you complained about doing the work?" Ian sheepishly said "yes."  After more discussion I guess we've decided I will plan some lessons each day and leave them to unschool the rest of the time.  Alec has told me in no uncertain terms that he wants to be left on his own but will join in if he likes what I have planned.  I tend to think that will be most of the science experiments, arts and craft projects, and probably even most of the reading just none of the writing and history/ geography.  I'm fine with that and I'm glad they were all able to tell me what was and was not working for them.  I mentioned that I while I had not started planning any lessons I had hoped to dye Easter eggs today once we got home and they were all excited. They were even more so once I told them we weren't going to be using the PAAS kit but some shaving cream and food coloring. 
         I had mentioned to Evan that if he's up for it I'd really like to focus on reading and getting him reading.  He seemed OK with that.  I know all the books I've been reading say you don't have to teach reading, that kids will naturally pick it up and figure it out for themselves just like they do speaking but I guess I'm not laid back enough to just sit and wait for it to happen... so imagine my surprise when, in the second isle of the grocery store, I'm asking Alec to cross foods off the list as I buy them and I ask "Are pickles on the list?  I've got the pickles so you can cross them off"  Alec answers that he's not sure if pickles are on the list or not when Evan, who sits beside him (we use one of those huge carriages with a bench on it) leans over, points to the list and says "yeah they are! Pickles are right here!"  I turned with a look of amazement on my face and say "did you just read that?!  Evan that's fantastic!! Give me a high five!"  He just sat there grinning!  Then, since I was thinking it I said out loud "hmm... perhaps I don't have to teach you to read after all!" He was just beaming!  And we had to call dad and tell him on our ride home.
        The rest of the time at the grocery store and on the way home the older boys kept pointing to other signs and words asking Evan if he could read them.  Evan just ignored them for the most part but did start pointing out words written in cursive on all the packages.  We had been talking about printed words versus cursive words since my grocery list is mostly made up of words that use both and Alec had difficulty sometimes.  While the older two boys are completely over their desire to learn any cursive at all I did mention to them that even if they don't want to practice writing it that they might want to start looking through their cursive books and practice how to read it at least.  I'm not big on using cursive myself and was glad to read yesterday that  no one really knows why they teach cursive.  It's promoted as being faster than print, yet that has been disproven.  Cursive apparently has been traced back to an old art where they engraved on copper, it's supposed to be an intricate, difficult, artistic form of writing that somewhere along the way was brought into the schools for all children to learn.  Now this is only from one source so I can't say it's 100% true but it sounded good to me.  I always struggled with cursive and thought it was harder and slower than printing and I've decided it's not something I'm going to force the boys to learn.  They're more interested in typing anyway and let's face it, that's a much more useful skill in this day and age.     
       We listened to another Magic Treehouse book on CD on the drive home.  We started the book Stage Fright on a Summer Night.  But I did have to turn if off when the arguing became louder than the story.  They were on their own once we got home so I could put all the groceries away.  I had to intervene a few times when bickering became unbearable for me or when they got so loud I couldn't stand it anymore.  For the most party though, they played Lego's, made up a game where they were animals, took out Uno cards, and I'm really not even sure what else, when they came in and asked if they could play musical chairs.  They set up the chairs, found some music, and a CD player and started playing.  They were laughing so hard while playing; Evan was rolling on the floor at one point.  It was a quick game with only two chairs and three kids so they played over and over.  They had asked me to be in charge of the music, but soon took turns being the one to hit pause.  For some reason, this was a huge riot for whoever got to have this job.  They quickly tired of the game and then went onto freeze dancing for a bit, then a dance contest; it was a great morning of music and movement.  They practiced the bunny hop & the Mexican hat dance (well, their versions of these dances anyway).
        We had some lunch and we started dying eggs.  I had stumbled upon the idea of using shaving cream & liquid food coloring to make Tye- dyed Easter eggs a while ago on Pinterest.  I have used a similar technique for scrapbooks and cards using Stampin Up! liquid dye and shaving cream so I knew the basics of how it worked but I looked it up again yesterday to see if I needed to do anything special so that the dyes would take "hold" on the egg.  This site has tons of ideas on egg dying all in one spot.   The boys loved swirling the colors but had a hard time not mixing them so much that they became muddy.  This was by far the most messy form of egg dying we've ever attempted.  Their hands (and even some parts of their arms) are stained with food coloring too!  But they loved it.  We set our eggs aside to dry for a few hours (or perhaps overnight since some had lots of shaving cream left on them) and we'll try rubbing the shaving cream/dye off later.  I'm keeping my fingers crossed for very vibrant eggs, but I've told the boys if it doesn't work we can always dye them again using another method.  I'm not sure, but I think they're hoping it doesn't work so we can dye more.

     I suggested they play with shaving cream and water for part of the afternoon in the hopes that it would clean some of the food coloring off of their hands.  They readily agreed and Evan was thrilled when I told him he could spray shaving cream right onto the tablecloth instead of using a tray.  It wasn't long before shaving cream and water were mixed together and the kitchen was a mess, but hey they were having good, clean fun.  They were getting along and helping each other out so how on Earth could I complain? 

        They cleaned up as best they could once they were done playing and Evan asked me to read him his comic book while Ian wanted to use the computer to type a story!  What a day!  Ian worked for almost an hour hunting and pecking away at the keyboard.  He's not real confident in his writing, spelling, punctuation; any part of the whole writing process but I'm so proud of him for trying.  And I think it is coming along rather nicely.  I constantly had to tell him not to worry about capitalizing words, spelling them right or even if all the punctuation is in the right places.  I kept explaining that many writers just write the story while it's in their head just to get it down on paper.  We can always use spell check and auto correct later to help us edit after the story is written.  It took him a bit but he finally just started writing the best he could.  I know he's disappointed he didn't get more written but I hope he keeps at it.  Only time will tell I guess.  BUT, he is proud enough of it that he wanted me to take a picture and show it on my blog!  Sorry it's not the best photo but monitors are hard to photograph. 

       I am so proud of my boys and even when they are driving me crazy  I'm so glad to have them home with me.  I love that we are all on this journey together as a family.  Sure it can be a bit much some days but those moments when they act like each other's best friend totally make up for those times they seem to be at each other's throats, those moments when they show me just how much they've learned (like with Evan and the pickles this morning) make up for all those moments of anxiety and worry over their learning.  It's those moments, those memories that make our lives so great.  Sharing in the joys, triumphs and learning of my boys has added a whole new dimension to my life I never knew was missing, but now that I've found it, I could never imagine my life any other way.   

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