Friday, August 23, 2013

A night out.

    I don't know what I was thinking.  For some reason, I decided to start cleaning out the boys drawers yesterday morning.  This is something I do most every season and it always turns out that my oldest needs more clothes.  Once I was done we all decided to go shopping for Ian's clothes.  I thought it would be fun.  I planned a fun day of shopping, having a nice lunch out, lots of smiles and fun....did I mention.. Fun?  But I have three boys and they HATE to shop unless it's for toys!  They can't sit or stand still while I look through racks, while Ian tries on clothes or for any other reason.  It was tiring and stressful... and NOT FUN!  To make matters worse the mommy guilt kicked in once again as the boys went to turn in their Barnes and Noble summer reading sheets.  We waited so late to turn them in this year that there weren't any books left for the younger two boys.  They elected not to get anything and pouted (and cried a bit).  All they knew was that there weren't any good books, I knew that Lego Chima had been a book they could have chosen from and since they are obsessed with that lately I felt extra guilty that they hadn't been able to pick out a book they would have LOVED.  They wanted me to buy them some books but I really hate spending money on books unless we can't find them through our library.  We have bookcase upon bookcase filled with kids books that they hardly ever read (we've even checked books out of the library that we own because we couldn't find them!).  We did not eat lunch out either and just packed in all in to head home the minute we finished buying all the things on our list.  Everyone was miserable. 
    It was a dreary, drab day and no one wanted to play outside.  It drizzled a bit here and there and I'll admit that my boys spent most of the afternoon playing video games and watching TV.  I ended up falling asleep!  It was just one of those "do nothing" days that I think we all need from time to time to rejuvenate.  I decided I didn't even want to make supper.  We ended up heading out and, for a special treat, we went all the way to the Cheesecake factory (I really must un- friend them on Facebook; it's so tempting looking at all their photos!). 
     The boys groaned a bit at the ride and my husband grumbled about how late the kids would be up but I reminded them they don't have to get up early in the morning.  Sometimes I think we don't take advantage enough of the fact that we homeschool and can live a totally flexible lifestyle.  I think it's good to have routine and structure but we really need to break out and go just a bit crazy every now and then.  My husband suggested we listen to more of The Return of the Indian and I told him we finished it, but could start listening to The Secret of the Indian.  He asked the boys what had happened in The Return of the Indian and they all ended up getting a lesson on re- telling and summarizing.  All the boys remembered a lot of facts about the story (and since I had heard the story I could understand) but they often told them out of order and my husband was getting confused.  I'd prompt them with questions, remind them that something important happened before the fact they were blurting out, etc.  We talked about the importance of telling the story in sequential order and picking out key pieces of the story.  Once they finished re- telling we started the last book in the trilogy and loved that it began right where the last story ended (good thing we summarized for my husband!).  Ian and Evan worked on Evan's car ride kit and ended up coloring in his binder.
      Once at the restaurant the boys were great.  They pointed out so much about the d├ęcor I never even noticed before.  Evan decided it was Egyptian themed and the boys pointed out what looked like mummy wrappings on the light fixtures, cobra's on other light fixtures, peacocks painted in the ceiling and even Egyptian looking faces on all the poles.  They spent a long time looking over all the cheesecakes in the display case and trying to decide which one they'd like to order after dinner.  They read the menu and ordered their food politely.  Alec pretty much always has a question for the server and last night he wanted to add broccoli to his pepperoni pizza.  He always remembers to say please and thank you and all the boys were very well behaved.  Ian told me he knew that his napkin needed to go in his lap and that the outside fork was for his salad while the inside fork was for his dinner since he had learned that on Duck Dynasty the night before (who knew you could learn etiquette watching Duck Dynasty!?).  As they were looking around they noticed that the lady at the table next to us ordered an Oreo cheesecake and they all decided on the spot that's the one they wanted to try.  Since it was a new flavor, I wanted to try it too! Doesn't it look decadent?!  (It was so so soooo good!)
Picture courtesy of the Cheesecake Factory
      It ended up being a very late night as I had to return my burger two different times to the kitchen since I ordered it medium- well and found it to be pretty bloody the first two times.  The manager came to our table a few times to apologize and offer to bring us additional fries or salads while we waited.  He got to joking with Alec and called him the broccoli kid, which made Alec laugh.  The boys were wonderful about sitting extra long and waiting for my meal.  They all ate their food while waiting and Evan remarked that everyone makes mistakes sometimes so the chef probably just made a mistake.  I think it's important that the boys never see us yell or get upset when mistakes happen at the restaurant.  They're bound to happen sometimes and while it would have been a huge deal a few years ago when the boys were younger and unable to sit still, it's really not a huge deal now.  As long as the restaurant is wonderful about helping when something goes wrong and tries to fix it, what more can you ask for?  I want them to learn to go with the flow, yet to be assertive when something is wrong.  The manager remarked a few times about how wonderfully nice we were all being and really we could all tell how bad he felt.  He kept apologizing over and over and even assured me he went into the kitchen to talk to the chef himself the second time I ended up returning my plate.  The boys saw how helpful and apologetic the manager and waitress were being and we agreed that mistakes happen sometimes and it's OK.  The boys were in awe that we got a free order of French fries for them all to share while we continued to wait and we really did end up having a wonderfully fun night.  The manager personally delivered the final burger and it was fantastic!  By the time we were ready to order our cheesecakes no one had room for it anymore.  I told them they could all eat it for breakfast the next morning if they'd like.  I think they were all shocked.  I could tell by the expressions on all their faces that they were thinking "Mom is letting them eat sweets for breakfast?!  That's just not right."  I shrugged and told my husband to pretend we were on vacation.  One morning of junk food isn't going to kill them.  Heck, if I had had to return my burger even one more time I was skipping dinner altogether and eating my cheesecake. 

        I love that even on a day like this, when we did "nothing" I can find so much learning in all that the boys did do.  At the stores we talked about money, compared pricing, sizing, added up what we were spending, and discussed spending money wisely.  We did lots of reading and language arts looking at signs, environmental print and listening to books on CD.  The boys played games on my Kindle like Nine Men's Morris, Checkers, and  Free Flow that worked on math skills like problem solving.  They also find new ways to connect things they have learned to their everyday lives like when Evan looked for Egyptian symbols in the restaurant.  Alec and Evan had eaten some Sun Chips earlier in the day and I heard "hey, Evan, doesn't this chip look like Oklahoma?!"  I love that they can pick out the shapes of many of the states.  Alec even told me he was doing battle on the great wall of China while he was playing his Ben 10 game.  Perhaps I'm reaching a bit, but when I look for evidence of learning, retention and try to find some link to traditional school subjects I can find them in our everyday lives and typically in multiple ways.  In listening to the Indian in the Cupboard series we're learning about native Americans, London, the history of wars (through hearing about various battles and soldiers they bring to life), and lots of new vocabulary.  It's great!  

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