Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Turning a Bad Day Around

    I woke early today, eager to get ready and head out the door.  We had a beach and hiking day planned with a homeschool group from the shoreline that we don't get to see very often.  We hadn't been to the beach yet this summer and we were all excited to go.  I packed light, got dinner all prepped, had the kids in their bathing suits and we headed out to buy some sunscreen on our way.  Things were going great.  We had a real good morning with all the kids cooperating and then it was like someone swapped my kids while I was in the store.  By the time we finished checking out they were yelling and bickering with one another.   I tried to interject and when I got snotty, rude replies I just kind of snapped.  I pulled the car over in the parking lot and announced "I'm going home!"  They all started crying and arguing and pleading with me to continue to the beach.  I heard many a chorus of "please mom!" and "we'll behave."  I came close to caving in,  I wanted to cave in.  I look just as forward to these days out as the kids do, but I knew I had to hold firm.  I've been threatening to take away a lot of our trips lately; they always plead and I give in.  Behavior does change in the short term and we all get to do what we really would like, but today I tried to express to them that my constant threats are even getting on my nerves.  I shouldn't have to threaten to get good behavior.  I explained to them that until I can see them all getting along we'll be missing out on fun stuff.
     We arrived home and started unpacking the bag.  Ian and Evan had been playing outside and Ian was already in the house complaining about Evan.  When confronted Evan started crying and brought up every bad thing ever done to him by his brothers, me, or just life in general.  As much as I still wished we could have gone to the beach today I realized I had made the right choice in staying home!  My kids were a mess.  I'd love to say they learned their lesson and started treating each other nicely and with kindness, but perhaps that just wasn't in the cards today.  I was trying to make the boys find their own things to do today but they kept asking me to plan some fun stuff.  In the interest of everyone sanity I agreed to help them think of some fun stuff to do. 
     I tried to put our lousy morning behind us and our day finally started taking shape.   The boys wanted to play with water balloons again and I told them I had an art project I wanted to try with water balloons.  We took stretched canvases and drew designs using watercolor crayon (though markers and even watercolor pencils would probably work too).  Once they had lots of color on the canvas we bombed the canvases with water balloons to make the colors blend and smear a bit.  It was a very fun project, but I can't say the end result was all that great.  Evan and Ian bombed their pictures so much that pretty much all the watercolor crayons washed right off.  Alec did better about bombing around his painting and his picture was looking pretty neat until the water made the canvas cave in in the middle and we ended up with a colorful mess.  We put the canvases in the sun to dry and while the end result was not great they really enjoyed the fun and active side of this project so I don't consider it a waste.   


     I had brought out some cornstarch and pop rocks and we set about making fizzing, popping goop!  I divided the cornstarch into two bowls and added one packet of pop rocks to each bowl.  Even before we added the water we could hear some crackling sounds.  Once Ian poured the water in though it was really cool.  We heard popping, fizzing, and crackling sounds.  The boys said they could even feel the pop rocks fizzing as they stuck their hands in the goop to play with it.  My oldest even swears that the goop smelled differently.  Since so much water was added to the goop, it wasn't all that goopy and they soon lost interest in playing with it, but I think this is one idea I'll try to keep in mind during the long, boring winter days when we're stuck inside.  If I made real goop that they could pick up and mold, I bet they'd play with it until the rocks stop popping. 

     They decided to go swim and play in the lake for a bit until lunch and they got along pretty well.  I brought our bagged lunches outside along with a blanket and we had a picnic in the yard.  I read a few stories while they were eating: My Even Day (a fun math book that we had to read after reading my 1/2 day and my Odd day), A Stick Is and Excellent Thing (a book of poems about fun summertime, outdoor activities), and There Was A Tree.  Before reading My Even Day I asked what an even number was and Evan told me "like 2 or 4, those are even but 3 that's odd" and the other boys exclaimed "Evan you're learning!  You're learning more than you did in Preschool!  Mom, he knows what an even number is!"  They both then went on to explain that even numbers can be divided into two equal pairs.  When reading There Was a Tree, I had them each predict what the next thing added to the hold in the ground would be.  We related most of the poems to our lives and talked about how we do things the same (or differently) than the poem we were reading.  They willingly sat and listened to all the poems.  the illustrations were great and nice and colorful too so I think that helped.  While my boys enjoy poetry, it's not necessarily their favorite.

     Since we still weren't entirely done eating and no one had run away yet I asked the boys to lay down on the blanker or their towels and search for shapes in the clouds.  I then asked them to make up stories about the shapes they saw.  I had no idea how exciting this would be for them. They fought over who could go first and waited very impatiently for their own turns.  They talked and talked and talked, each telling as many as three different stories.  My favorite was probably Ian's story about the giant rhino that had wheels instead of feet that rolled through town leaving a disaster behind him.  When the movie Star Wars came out the rhino got scared that he would be killed in a light saber battle and so he sprouted wings and flew away and the town never had to worry about a rhino running through the streets again.  Evan told a wonderful story about Pegasus and a giant snake named Medusa who was covered with eyes everywhere- he had lots of details (that mostly made sense) and told how they all battled with help from friends like griffins until Medusa was defeated and they all lived happily ever after.  Alec's story was similar to Ian's story but I was most impressed with his storytelling style.  He used whispers, lots of feeling and expression and really got into the stories!  It was a great impromptu lesson that I'll definitely try again.
Can you find the winged horse?

       The boys had such grand plans for the afternoon, they wanted to draw temporary tattoos on themselves using the watercolor crayons, they wanted to play hopscotch like in the poem we read, they wanted to play the Scrambled States game again... the list goes on and on. 

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