Friday, March 11, 2005

Busy, busy -- spring, kids, learning, challenges

My pace over the last few weeks has stepped up a notch or two. Spring sprung, and I'm busy catching up on projects, to-dos, must-dos, both business- and ministry-oriented and household stuff. I resist, though, running around like crazy with no down time, so I'm trying to mix up my routine -- rethink what I do and when (computer work, household work, planning, kid time, spousal unit time, etc.).

All that is in the midst of our current project of training the boys OUT of being nasty to each other and to me -- we realized we've been dealing with these bad attitudes for weeks now. Oops. Clearly our standard responses were not enough, so we're giving consequences after one chance rather than too many warnings, and they often hear from me in a (carefully) calm voice: "Tone..." "Attitude..." "Use your regular voice" "Take a deep breath" "Stop talking now" (when they ignore me and keep arguing/being nasty). Also, I'm staying near the boys at times that have been problematic for them. That means I work on my sock knitting at the dining table where Son1 is working on homework or a school project, and during their video game time allowance I do something similar in the room with them. Being with them really keeps their interactions from escalating. Finally, I'm making sure they clean up their projects or activities before going on to the next thing they want to do. It keeps them participating and accountable, and keeps me from going bonkers with still more clutter to deal with.

So... I'm not so good at blogging lately. Here's the rest of what's up around here :)

Did I mention spring has sprung?! Daffodils and quince are in full bloom, the pear trees and Asian magnolia trees (gorgeous!!) are blooming, the spirea shrubs have tiny white blossoms all along their graceful arching branches, the cherry trees are starting their frilly fuzzy pale-pink cloud of blossoms, tulip leaves and my daylily leaves are up out of the soil, and the dried leaves are FINALLY off our young oak tree. Let me point out that none of the above is in my yard/garden except the daylilies and the oak tree; for early spring gardens I live through others at this point :) I hate how long those oak leaves hang on. Oh well, at least I can't see it (past the garage) from inside the house. Dear husband and I are starting to talk about garden projects a little, so perhaps one of these spring weekends...

Someone in the dead of winter asked me to talk more about how we afterschool, and I feel a little guilty that I haven't blogged about anything obviously on that topic since fall. Our afterschooling has been squarely in the category of a learning lifestyle all winter, with no "schooling" per se.

Son1 and Son2 play with the tornado tube they and dear husband put together at Son2's request a few months ago (two 2-liter plastic bottles, one filled 3/4-full with water, plus a special connector). They've learned how to start the vortex/tornado, they've noticed how the vortex is different when they swirl the tube fast vs. slow, they've noticed that the water coming into the bottom bottle streams down the inside walls of that bottle, and so on, and so on.

Son2 has played some more with our Magz set of magnetic sticks and steel balls, a construction toy basically, making pyramids, stars, and peculiar shapes that he can make spin as he holds the top. Son2 is all about writing, lately, and numbers. As Son1 does his math facts homework Son2 gets busy writing 2+3=5 and similar things -- doing the math himself most of the time (!). Son2 also has discovered tic-tac-toe and plays it with everyone possible -- very handy when he's with me in a meeting.

Son2 is also facing the big challenge of learning to deal with frustration -- through video games. He gets very frustrated, which is probably tied a bit to his bad attitude lately but also I think is age-related re. the games. I'm learning to cut him off (turn off the video game) after a warning because otherwise he gets stuck in a horrible attitude spiral. Perhaps it's time to bring back the occasional afternoon card game with Mommy; a gentler practice in dealing with game frustrations might be a good thing.

Over the last couple of weeks Son1's car reading, by his choice, has been a kids' book of probability games that I got through the school Scholastic book orders a couple of years ago. He poured through the game details, and then read all of the explanations in the back. I suspect he has now been exposed to more probability concepts than I was until college, LOL.

This week Son1 finished a chocolate-theme school project (his project was to design a new chocolate bar), so I helped him approach it in an organized manner and work through it piece by piece, from brainstorming to creating a finished presentation. The most difficult part of that would be a tie between helping a teary, overwhelmed boy when I thought it wasn't a big deal, and being careful to assist and encourage but not DO the project for him or DIRECT the project or TELL him great new ideas for the presentation. I think I managed to navigate those tricky shoals reasonably well this time around. Whew!

Son1 is learning a lot through his basketball team practices and games, about challenges, learning new skills, frustration, persistence, and more. I see a lot of similarities with my efforts to learn to knit. I'm teaching myself to knit continental style, teaching myself new stitches, teaching myself how to knit a sock, and there are so many little and big things, including learning to notice when I've made a mistake and then learning how to fix it. I mentioned once to Son1 how similar I found it in some ways to his challenges (school things, basketball); perhaps now he notices Mommy working to learn, learn, get better, get better, challenge myself with something new, something else new, and so on.

Gotta go -- those are some of the things in my life this week!

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