John came home last night with some new wooden spoons that we needed really bad. Mina picked one up and said, "These spoons are fantastic." And they really are. If you are in need of wooden spoons I highly recommend these.
3 kids at our house tonight, Ari(7), Mina(3), and our friend Damek(7). All with the freedom to do pretty much what they like. What do they choose? They started the evening with some flashlight game Ari invented. Then decided to walk around the house using only the flashlight for lighting. Ever so brave I heard Ari tell Damek, "Okay, boys first." when going into an unlit room. :)
Then they scootered around the kitchen and living room area. Of course, this was only after Ari said,"Mom can you stay downstairs." After they created "soup" (I am using the term VERY loosely here) Then they went to the garage for more scootering. I happened upon Ari and Damek in the garage using the punching bag, "I am training him", Ari says with a big grin. Previously, she showed off her newly acquired jump rope skills as well.
Then in to Ari and Mina's room for a little bit of Pokemon watching. Next, Ari and Damek could be found laying on the beds opposite each other telling jokes before they moved on to drawing things. Now? Mina and John are crashed on the couch and I am watching trashy reality television(I love that junk). Ari and Damek? Well they were still drawing when I left but they are being really quiet so who knows what they might be up to now.
It seems like many people have many different interpretations of what unschooling is and what one does when they unschool. There are also many do not's that seem to be attached. Honestly, I don't really care anymore if I am doing it right, if I am following the rules, or if some unschoolers would not approach a situation in a certain way. To me what we are doing here in our home is about loving our kids. My husband and I have both noticed the sparkle in Ari's eyes that has come out of just loving her and trusting her. We have noticed the creativity and the world opening up to her as it never has before. We are noticing the trust she has in us, the ability we have to give her information while not bossing her around. Every person feels the pull toward freedom, some feel it pulling harder than others. Some people feel the pull so distinctly that they free those around them in their thirst for freedom. I honestly believe that Ari has led our family to it's best life. A place where people are respected for who they are not what they do and a place where freedom means caring about other people enough to use your freedom to help them have happy lives too.
So every time I turn around Miss Mina has drawn on something else in our house. As I was typing my last post she got a hold of a pen and did some lovely drawings on the couch. When I saw what she was doing I redirected her and gave her some paper. I happened to be chatting online with my husband and I told him about it and I told him I felt a little frustrated that she was ruining the couch. His take on it, "that's our kid couch more than likely we will need a new one when they are bigger anyway and we can't limit them to keep things nice that are not that important to us." Then he said, "let's get her some really big notebooks" and I added "Well we could also cover the bottom half of the walls with paper so she can draw away and we just replace the paper when it is all filled up." kjujjjkjkjkkkkjkjkkjkj (Mina is helping me) Yep, he rocks!!
I have a ton on my mind today. Everything from providing sensory input to a 3 year old who needs a lot of it to how to set workable boundaries with my mother. And then add to that Christmas cards and my upcoming trip to New York and Thanksgiving that I need to make a menu for. Plus, the sleep habits of a vampirical 7 year old and the lack of sleep today from staying up with said 7 year old only to have the previously mentioned 3 year old uncharacteristically up at 8. then there is the Christmas list for friends and loved ones and I know it is a major no no but I am also starting my holiday decorations. Since I am going to be gone 4 days in December, I want to get stuff up before I leave. And lastly, vision boards and goal setting for the next fabulous year of our lives.
I have a phone call with my mentor on Friday and I am really excited to get back in touch with her. I also have been thinking a lot about a vision boarding session with friends. There is something about cutting up magazines, pasting, and such that screams "call all the mama's" Maybe I will be able to hold off on this project until I can set up a time to get all my gal's together and maybe not.
Earlier this year when Ari busted us on Santa my husband and I had a little chat. We decided that seeing as we were not religious and Ari no longer believed in Santa we would just do things our own way.
When I was in college, my roommate was a Jehovah's Witness. I am not keen on organized religion but what I liked about her religion was their outlook on gift giving. Since they did not celebrate holidays they would give gifts whenever they felt like it. My roommate would come home on any given day and give me a present. I liked that not only was it a pleasant surprise but that also it seemed to reduce the anxiety involved in gift giving a great deal.
With agreement by Ari we have taken this idea and implemented it in our lives. I personally love it. The girls got some new things right around Halloween, a marble run, some Pink Panther movies, and such. Then last night Ari asked if she could have a Playmobil Egyptian Pyramid. Ari has been in to Egypt for as long as I can remember. I took a look at our budget and we had the money. I talked to John about it and he agreed that we would just go pick it up today.
I really had not expected the amount of pieces it would come in. Of course, there is no way a large pyramid could have fit in the box I bought but I kind of tuned that part out until I got it home and we opened it up. Another thing I was not expecting was the gusto with which Ari set about building it. I never figured that part in to the whole value of buying it in the first place. She pulled out the parts and the instructions and went for it. Eventually, she got sidetracked by the little people that came with it and asked me to finish but not before completing about a third of it by herself.
I am not sure what has changed whether it be my heart or maybe my mind. I cannot be certain it happened over time or just catalyzed in one major event. Somehow, for some reason, a huge part of me gets unschooling in a way that I did not before. I know that these huge changes have come about partially because of joyless, loveless, and unwanted decisions made by other people over the course of the last 6 months. Decisions that somehow set me free in a way I could have never planned or believed until I am now seeing it for myself.
I am noticing thoughts that were not there before, thoughts I have no control over. Things like, "Wow, look at that beautiful mess." and "I think I want to clean up the girls' room because they might need the space to play in." Surprising notions like, "Look at how they just used those straws and all the pantry supplies. I am so lucky to have such creative kids." And, the craziest thing about it is I am not controlling my tone. Not forcing myself to be positive about finding 500 straws on the floor. Not looking at the bright side when I realize that I can't find the livingroom floor for the Little People's that are playing with gourds and Polly Pockets and My Little Pony's. It is not fake it till you make it. The philosophy is starting to sink in. The idea that life is mess and work on joy and love and creativity is starting to take root on some fundamental cellular level.
Today, I am grateful for the folks who unknowingly set me free. Who pushed the last button and tried to pull the last string. You may never understand the gift you have given me.
Today we went to Toys R Us to get our free Pokemon Arceus. As we walked in the door a man walked in at the same time, coming to do the same thing. We went to the gaming area together and he walked us through getting our Pokemon. Then Ari struck up a conversation with him. This is the part of the conversation I understood:
Ari: "Hey Dude, do you have Uxie?" Man: "Yah" Ari: "Do you have the blue plates?" Man: "Yah, I totally put them on, that was so cool."
Then they totally lost me. I have no idea who Uxie is or what the blue plates do but apparently Ari does and can have an intelligent conversation about it. I love those times when I recognize that I am the most ignorant person in earshot about a topic, it reminds me "educated" is a relative term.
Ari: "Mom, I like your new shirt. It kind of looks like an angel." Me: (jokingly) "That is because I am an angel." Ari: (very thoughtfully) "No mom, you are more like a demon." Me: (laughing) "Hey thanks Ari, I think I would rather be that anyway." Ari: (smile and walks away)
How many times has the same old story been told. Which one you ask? I was watching Disney Channel with the girls. There was a preview for a new Corbin Bleu movie. The basic story is about a kid who loves to race motorbikes. His family does not see this as a useful pastime. I am guessing the story line goes something like he finally proves he is good enough to make a go at racing and his parents back off and realize they were wrong.
I knew a guy in high school who was passionate about music. He was always reading industry mags, collecting rare music, and trying to find any dj gig he could get his hands on. He is now a dj.
It is easy sometimes to not see what our kids are interested in as "productive" or to even question where it might lead should we actually let them spend hours at certain pursuits every day. However, I am coming to realize that life is kind of peculiar like that. What may seem like a sideline or a momentary hobby could actually end up being their lifelong passion. I am realizing that the more I trust, facilitate my kids learning, and pursue what makes me happy, the more my family is happy and the more my kids grow and learn.
Our family movie will be different. It will be about support, acceptance, and appreciation of our differences and passions.
So I was thinking about Ari's birthday present project. It really opened my eyes in so many ways. First, it was way more important to her to give her friend something from the heart than to just give her something. Second, total her gift took around 6 hours to make. Where would we have ever found that kind of time if she was in school? And third, She thought of the project, knew how she wanted to accomplish it, and asked for very minimal help. Apparently she knows how to start a project, how to find resources, and how to finish something. How many 7 year old girls do you know that have made their friend a doll and several changes of clothes? Once again, the hidden curriculum of homeschooling pops its head up to say "hello" and I am, once again, lucky to have the time, desire, and ability to be right where I am.
1- Wearing glitter possibly to camouflage a sparkly complexion 2- Insatiable appetite for meat 3- Unique ability to avoid major physical harm for years on end (7 at last count) 4-Sleeping all day 5- Comes alive at 1 or midnight or some other God forsaken hour
Yes, I really did write this post at 3:03 in the morning after just finishing making a birthday present for a friend of Ari's. It was her idea and she did most of the work. I am trying to make peace with what I call our "rock star schedule". At around 12 when she and I were the only ones left up she became a different person. More talkative and inquisitive than she is during the day. I wonder if it has something to do with all the quiet surrounding her, not just in our house but everywhere. Whatever it is, I am glad I stayed up with her and helped her with her project even though I am honestly on the edge of falling asleep right her. To bed with me then!
I really cannot stand people trying to sell me something. I never listen to telemarketers on the phone, I usually end the conversation very quickly and politely. I sometimes do not answer the door when someone knocks and I can tell they are selling something. Even when I do answer the door, I usually only half listen and then send them on their way. I find it rude and an intrusion on my family life. If I want something, I can usually find it on the internet or through asking people I know. So with that in mind, here is what happened last night.
Knock on the door around 8 PM.
I figured it was on of our neighbors and headed towards the door, only then realizing that we had built a little resting place right in front of it. It was impossible to open the door without moving said resting place. I look out the peephole- nope not a neighbor. A man, not sure age or race. Without thinking about it, I start to move the things in front of the door. Looking back, this is very odd behavior for me.
I finally get the door open. On my door step is an energetic kid around 17. He is selling cleaners. He is smart, funny, he can tell a joke and my 3 year old is mesmerized. I know pretty quickly I am going to buy his cleaner, why? Well, I am doing it because I like him. Yep, that is it, I like him. I know that I am being sold, but since the product is a cleaner I am not that concerned. Well, I did make sure it would not kill anything it touched and was natural and such. I buy his cleaner, suggest that I will expect to see him on the comedy circuit in the next 5 years, he was amazing, and send him on his way.
An hour later another kid knocks on my door. He is selling the same stuff. I tell him I bought from his friend and send him on his way. All the while I am realizing that I would have sent the second kid on his way without buying anything. I started to ask myself why. What did the first kid have that the second one did not? I think it was a natural charisma and likability. I am guessing that this job is not that hard for him and that he sells a lot of cleaner. The second kid did what most people do, waits for you to let them down easy. You are going to tell him no, he already knows it, his body language suggests it and you see it. Because you see his body language you discount his product. It is a crazy idea, or is it?
In broader sense it got me thinking about myself and my natural abilities and my kids and their innate qualities. I have often said that one of my greatest strengths is I can talk to anyone. It was this strenght that school was so intent on rooting out of me from my earliest years. And yet, it was my most marketable quality when I became an adult. It has me focusing today on how I can help my kids to express and draw strength from those things that they are naturally good at. And, it has really helped me to focus on what it is we are and are not doing that makes our way of getting an education better for our family.
This morning I was in one of those, "I am the worst homeschooler in the history of homeschool mamas" kind of moods. I was piling up the evidence. The stack was getting deep. I don't make my kids really do anything, including going to bed right now. My 7 year old does not know the alphabet from A to Z and cannot count very high. You know, the usual. It was not pretty.
When I worry, I am grumpy,when I am grumpy, the girls get reactionary, the spiral starts and we can only hope something stops it before full meltdown and threats of school enrollment ensue.
Suddenly, I realize we are doing math. Yep, spontaneous, organic math. How, you may ask? Well, I have a huge bowl of tomatoes and I needed to know how much they weighed in order to determine if I had enough to make sauce to freeze. It takes 5 pounds. I got out the scale and we began weighing, pretty much anything we could find. And we started estimating and guessing what weighed more and then we figured the difference in weight between myself and Ari and then myself and Mina and then Mina and Ari. All of that is math.
Later, I came downstairs and found Ari on the couch writing addition problems on a piece of paper and solving them. All spontaneous, all for fun.
Here is the thing. I see the learning. I get it. What irritates me is how often I loose my faith. My faith in the process, my faith in their curiosity, it pisses me off quite frankly. I told the whole sordid affair to my husband on the phone. Of course, he has heard the whole thing before, and then suddenly I realized something. I had an epiphany. I need to stop waiting for that magic day when I no longer doubt and just go with it. The doubt should be a guidepost. "Hello there doubt, thank you for stopping by, I see you there." A wave and smile might be nice. Something like that.
I think my expectation that I will have no doubt is completely unrealistic given my personality, my constant changing view of the world, and the fact that I think certainty is a form of delusion in the first place.
When Ari was little I used to tell her that candy and soda, things of that nature, were not food. Then I realized one day that in a sense they were food but not good food so I started to use other language to deal with non-nutritive food. The wording still came back to haunt me however.
We recently had a problem with ants in the basement. I would get rid of them in the laundry room and then find them in the computer room. Back and forth, back and forth. Finally, I suggested we keep food out of the downstairs for awhile until we could get rid of the menaces. One day Ari was eating some kind of candy. She turns to me and says, "Hey mom, I can take this downstairs because you told me that candy is not food."
Yes, this one will make a fine lawyer or satirist or gad fly. I am extremely pleased that I cannot now,nor do I believe I will ever be able to pull one over on that child.
Yesterday the girls and I were watching a Bratz movie. In the movie one of the girls is going to the mall with her mother to buy her friend a present. The mother says to her, "Remember, it is better to give than to receive." Of course such blanket statements always get me thinking and usually discussing with whomever might be unlucky enough to be around. This is the conversation that ensued.
Me: That is not true. Giving and receiving are impossible without each other so neither one can be better
Ari: No mom it is better to give than to receive.
Me: But Ari, you can't give until you receive. They are not possible without each other and you can't give something you don't have.
Ari: But she is saying it is better to give your friend a present than receive one.
Me: I know and I disagree with her. When I give you a gift I first had to receive something an idea, money, whatever to make giving the gift possible.
Ari: She is right mom, it is better to give than to receive.
Me: Okay Ari is it better to give a hug or receive one?
Ari: (Looking at me with an expression of you got me) They are both good mom.
Me: Then in at least that one situation it is not better to give than to receive, right?
Then we laughed about it. This is one of the many reasons I am glad we homeschool, the conversations and disagreements and differing viewpoints.
Last night Ari started using a new math site called Dreambox. Right away it became obvious that she likes it and that she knows far more math than I thought. We are doing the 14 day trial, but if she continues to love it and use it (it was the first thing she wanted to do this morning) we will purchase a 9 month subscription for her.
I prod her a little to do her phonics game every day. Mostly because the lessons build on one another and I have called and had it reset 4 separate times.
She has been interested in human anatomy (I will say it that way only to avoid being linked in illicit online searches) and we have checked out several books for the younger set on where babies come from and how they get in there in the first place. When we have given them a good looking over I will post our favorites.
We checked out this great picture book from the county library called Jennifer's Rabbit by Tom Paxton. The illustrations are beautiful and it reads like a lullaby. Funny enough we discovered that it is a lullaby. (There is no video on the YouTube)
We are meeting cousins at the beach at Daybreak tomorrow. Looking forward to actually being there when it is closer to empty-last time it was so busy. For now, good night and may all your dreams be beautiful!
Well, it is a home day. I wish it were just so because we want to hang out. Unfortunately, it is because Freeway is hurt and really needs some extra attention. The vet told us that once they injure their backs, they basically always have an injury. The girls and I thought it would be a great idea to take him for a walk last night but all in all I feel like we did more harm than good. So, it will be movies, books, board games, and dog pain medicine for us today.
We spent most of yesterday at our local botanical garden. We fed fish, played tag, pretended we were folk from long ago, and had a grand time. Ari of course made a friend, a regular occurrence theses days. I was delighted to see that they are moving the natural history museum next to the garden and the building is going to be so cool. Today's planned adventures include the library, the pet store, and the newly opened for the season Halloween store. We love Halloween! Have a great day.
Things here are good. Ari is learning to read and at the same time teaching Mina. Sweet!! Both of the girls are getting more and more curious every day. Having a rough routine has really kept me from going to crazy town. Running has been keeping me from getting too grumpy, or too angry, or too anything else. Hyperactive people need an outlet you know. I made a firm decision to uninvest from things that really do not improve my life, first thing to go you ask? Politics. Might be more later but for now, I have to go. :)
Last week we were driving to the swimming pool with cousins in the car. Big cousin, Spencer, asked, "Aunt Mel if you could have any super power what would it be." I thought about it for awhile. I knew I would not want a super power that would hurt anyone. I finally said, "I would want to know if people were telling the truth or not." Ari chimed in, "I would want to heal people. You know help them, make them better, feed them. " Now why didn't I think of that.
As a parent I am constantly seeing signs that our kids are growing up. As a homeschool mama I spend more than enough time worrying about them learning enough. Last night, Ari and I were driving in the car. All of a sudden Ari said, "Look mom, the magic soup store." I looked up to see the sign for Rite-Aid. The sign said, "Rite-Aid Pharamacy" and then next to it was a picture of a mortar and pestle with stars in the mortar. Of course, when you are six it looks like a big magic soup bowl filled with stars and with a spoon at the ready. That is when it occured to me. Someday, not to far from now, she is going to look at that same sign and sound out the words and that little bit of magic will be gone forever.
I previously mentioned that Mina walks around singing Funkytown. I did not realize until this weekend that her version is this. "Well I taco body taco body taco body taco body. Taco body taco body movin."
Once again, a child with her mother's keen ability to make up any lyrics that might elude her.
For those of you who do not play World of Warcraft this post might not make sense. Ari, John, and I went to a dungeon on Sunday. Ari brought her toon who is a death knight. Some death knights have a talent in which they can blow up mobs after you have killed them. Ari loves this skill. When you blow them up they just turn in to a pile of bones. So we had fought this big floating tentacled boss and she blew him up. And then she said, "You know for a big guy he has really small bones."
We have watched the movie Meet the Robinson's about a half dozen times in the last 2 days. If you happen to get a hold of the DVD I highly recommend watching the making of feature. The story of how the movie came to be is inspiring. And this song is beautiful.
When you live somewhere for a really long time you think you know your area. But, I can tell you, we are having some pleasant surprises lately. First, the realization that the Jordan River Parkway Trail is now accessible from my home by merely walking up a block and crossing a street. They just completed the section nearest our house and it is lovely running my friends. Next, that the Legacy Parkway Trail will be accessible from our house in the foreseeable future and it has at this moment 14 miles of car-less bike riding enjoyment. And, just to put icing on that already lovely (and proverbial) cake, Ari met a girl who lives down the street tonight and they became fast friends. On a trivial side note, Ari's new friend and I share a birthday- how cool is that? But wait, there is more, neighbor girl has a three year old sister. Can you even believe it? Summer is here and it is sweet. I am so pleased I may even have to start posting photos again.
Yesterday Ari and I had the most interesting conversation. It went something like this.
Ari: Mom, can I play out front? Me: I would prefer you play in the back yard while I make food and then after we eat I will come out front with you. Ari: Why are you the boss? Me: Because I am the mom. Because some rules are about safety and because it is not okay for me to be inside trying to make food and at the same time worry about you and your sister's safety.
Sometimes I use these conversations to explain or even apologize about past decisions, especially if we have had to change something that was not working for our family. So I went on.
You know Ari, your dad and I made a bad decision. We were giving you too much freedom and too much responsibility. You are young and although you are smart and you are wise, we have been around longer. We now feel that there is such a thing as age appropriate freedom. And, we try really hard to work out an agreeable solution. However, sometimes the answer is just no and sometimes the final decision may not be something all parties are completely excited about. But we do our best.
I also explained to her that we felt that too much freedom and too much responsibility had given her a lot of stress. That sometimes it is good to know that some one has your back and is looking out for you.
You could practically feel the tension of the world being lifted off her back. It was a really interesting thing to have happen. She then started in to a different topic happy as any six year old could be.
So, once again, I am happy we are doing it OUR way and that really we do not care if we are doing it all wrong anymore. No book can raise your kids for you and no person up on their soapbox is living your life for you. You and your family have to live with the daily and life long consequences of your choices, so you best make them for yourself.
The old phrase, "this is the life." came out of Ari's mouth this week and I have to say I could not agree more. Our first garden is in and things are growing and flowering. The girls are growing and learning. John has lost probably around 15 pounds. I am really enjoying running. We all have been loving each others company and playing a lot. We are getting ready to go camping and fishing and spend a lot of time in the yard. Hope all is well for all of you too.
Last night I was walking past the bathroom and stopped suddenly upon noticing that Ari had grown again. I said, "Ari, you got taller." in a completely amazed tone of voice. She said, "I know. I have been exercising." She continued, "If you put your hands on the counter like this (places hands on bathroom counter palms facing towards her) and do this (push up on your hands) you get taller."
Last night Ari said, "Mom, if anyone comes over to play tomorrow I am grounded okay?" I said, "okay, what do I tell them you did." "Tell them I let Marco jump on the trampoline with his shoes." I said, "Ari, we don't have a shoe rule and your parents would never ground you, and we would never ground you for something someone else did." She thought about that for a second and then said, "Just think of something mom, I want to be grounded."
The funniest thing about her wanting to be grounded is that I used to do the same thing when I was in high school. I would come home on a Friday afternoon, inform my mom that I was grounded, and spend the weekend in my room.
Ari informed me that we cannot go hiking until she has a pair of binoculars. We really do need them but I never knew they were as important as shoes or water for this kind of thing. She said that she is going to be a bird watcher when she grows up. I wonder if she will just add that to her current future professions of doing tattoos, cutting hair, being a rock star, and teaching karate or if she has forsaken the others all together.
Mina and I were walking around the block this afternoon. Generally, we pick up neighbor kids whenever we are out and today was no exception. One neighbor boy said, "Can Ari play?" I told him Ari could play if she wanted to. He said, "On Sunday I can only play at your house outside." I did not ask why, but he went on. "If I play inside I might play video games or watch movies and not think about my religion and forget about Jesus and stuff."
As we continued our walk around the block the boys told me about the game they were playing when I happened upon them. They were recreating a video game they saw at another neighbor boys house that involved the SWAT team and shooting people.
The Dora kitchen has been on the fritz. I finally opened up the battery compartment to find that 2 of the 3 batteries had leaked all over inside. Mina is my big helper when it comes to anything with tools. So she stood behind me and handed me the screwdriver and cheered me on. I cleaned out all the gunk, put in some new rechargeable batteries, (yah) and then had her check to make sure it now worked. After we listened to Dora's line and a little salsa music Mina said, "Eureka, you've done it."
Last night Mina was jumping on the trampoline. She stopped mid jump and said, "mom, is today Kyan Day?" Which made me laugh because it was as if she had declared any time she got to see her friend Kyan as some very important holiday. I love that. I told her she would be seeing Kyan soon and she grinned from ear to ear.
Last night Ari and I went to pick up take-out from her favorite place Noodles and Company. Somehow, a bean sprout got put in to her macaroni and cheese by accident. I looked at it and said, "Oh, I haven't been over sprouting the mung beans they all have little leaves." And I honestly felt much better about my mung bean sprouting which I thought was going terribly.
She picked it up and said, "Take me to your leader." while making it do a dance. I laughed so hard I nearly peed my pants. I have thought just about that same line every time I have looked at the beans I have been sprouting.
You know that song, "Rainy days and Mondays always get me down"? I just cannot relate. Some of our best days are the rainy make-your-own-fun days. We usually spend some portion of rainy days outside too. Yesterday was a lovely rainy day.
Ari announced it was Ella's birthday early in the morning and requested supplies to make birthday soup. You might wonder what ingredients are in birthday soup that you make for a stuffed BFF. Well, there was cake mix, apple cider vinegar, baking soda, sprinkles, colored sugar and lots and lots of water. And she gathered all Ella's friends to the table for soup before dressing them all warmly and heading outside to swing and slide. Then it began to rain and they all came back in.
Meanwhile, Mina asked to make a real cake for Grandma Lois, who she adores. So we made one.
When everyone was back in the house the girls played with macaroni, cereal, and other dried bits and glued them to a big sheet of plain paper that we taped to the table for Ella's birthday party earlier. Ari made all kinds of animals and such and Mina just made a huge mess (because that is what 2 year olds do you know).
Then there were friends and naps and noodles and a slumber party in the basement while watching movies.
Have I mentioned that Ari is quite the computer game connoisseur? She has tried many. Keeps the one she likes. Moves on from the rest. Her current favorites are Wizard101 and Spore.
Today was filled with eggs, candy, and cousins. But the moment I will remember most is tonight while Mina was in the tub she said to me, "Come on in mom, the water is fine." Where do they learn this stuff?
Today a friend of Ari's came to play. After his dad had come to pick him up, there was a knock at the door. Mina and I were making pancakes and she looks up at me and says, "Holy mackerel." I honestly have no clue where she learned this phrase.
I sat down today and added some of the blogs I frequent. Most of these ladies are local friends and acquaintances whom you should not judge based on the fact that they know me as they may find me strange too :)
Today Ari, Mina, and I walked to the park. Along the way Ari was really just treating me like I was an idiot. Finally, I had more than enough and said, "You know, you may be wise for your age and you may have more wisdom than I will ever have. However, I do know a thing or two and I do not appreciate being treated like I am stupid." She said, "Oh, I am sorry mom." And then stopped.
Okay, so the talk was just not quite finished. Ari woke up on Wednesday and had more questions. She started the day with a whopper. "Mom, Santa is real right." I told her that her dad and I were Santa too. I explained that there may have been someone named St. Nicholas at some point in history and that the "spirit" of Santa was real. I also explained to her that the fact that Santa was her dad and I was one of the reasons we never used the whole "you have to be good" sort of thing when talking about Santa. I grew up in a rather poor family and I really never wanted our girls to associate not getting a lot with being bad. YUCK!!
So as the day progressed she also asked about the Easter Bunny and she seems really okay with all of it.
As we pulled out of the driveway this evening to go to the store she said, "Mom, did you know some kids never get any Christmas presents." I told her that was true. That sometimes it could happen if a family did not have money to buy Christmas or if a person did not celebrate Christmas. I explained that one of her friends goes to a Jewish school and that Jewish people celebrate other holidays.
No trauma, no anger, just conversation. We are not sure what we are going to do from here on out although we will not be repeating the same thing with her sister more than likely. When I first told John about being outed he suggested we tell Ari about the real reason for the celebrations, the history, and the symbolism and go from there. So I think I will approach Easter from that standpoint.
The funny thing is that before I had children I was absolutely certain that I would never do the Santa thing. I actually did not want to lie to my kids nor did I want to bring that whole idea of "he see's you when you are sleeping" it just felt creepy to me. Live and learn I guess.
The "leprechauns are role play and not real" talk referred to in my previous post went badly. So badly that I have not broken the news that there are various other mythical gift givers. We are so not being nominated for parents of the year.
Every year before St. Patrick's Day, we make a magic treasure box. The story goes that if you put the magic treasure box under the moonlight the leprechauns will find it, fill it with treats, and hide it for you to find. We never got around to making our boxes this year. We had gotten really busy and put it off and then wham- the day was here. John and I had already gathered together the various treats so we hid them anyway.
Upon finding the St Patty's loot Ari got really mad. She turned to me and said, "The leprechauns did not come, you and dad bought these things and hid them." We have made a promise never to lie to our kids, so I told her she was right. She stomped off very obviously angry about the situation.
Later, I got a chance to talk to her about it while driving in the car. I told her that her dad and I only did the leprechaun thing to help her have a magical child. We wanted her to have fun and we never intended to be liars. She told me that under no circumstances does she ever want to be lied to. She said that any lie we told her made her distrust us and she wanted to trust us.
I told her how proud I was of her standing up for her principles. I told her I hoped to someday be so strong and have such conviction. Then on the inside I suddenly realized that this conversation is not over.
I talked it over with John and I am going to give her the full scoop this evening. Wish me luck...
For about the past six months Ari will ask Mina to come with her if she is going somewhere in the house that is dark or that she considers scary. John and I have jokingly called Mina her "meat shield". Meat shield is a gaming term. A meat shield in the gaming world is the player who goes in to a fight and holds the opponent in place so everyone else can take less damage. The meat shield protects everyone else basically. Last night, Ari wanted to go upstairs but it was dark and she turned to Mina and said, "Come on meat shield."
On Monday I took Ari to the doctor to make sure she did not have strep. We went to a new physician as our regular family doctor was booked solid. I really liked this doctor. She was friendly, asked Ari questions, and totally understood that Ari was her client, not me. After we left I wanted to check in with Ari and see what her impression was. Me: Ari how did you like Doctor Peterson Ari: Well, she was nice but those glasses have got to go. Me: Oh, you did not like her glasses but other than that she is okay Ari: Yes, those glasses were bad fashion mom. Kind of like that shirt you are wearing.
Once again this is an old story that I do not want to lose. A little background information is necessary to really get the feel of this story.
When Ari was learning her colors I would sometimes go in to teachy mode and quiz her. I would point at an object and say, "Ari what color is this." To which she would either ignore me or say the wrong color. I thought this was an interesting pattern of hers. I knew she knew what colors were what so why I even did this is kind of perplexing.
When Ari was around 3 I decided I needed to find her a preschool. So I took her to look around at a private preschool that I was interested in. We took a tour of the school and met some students. Then we went back to the counselors office to talk. This particular school had a requirement of IQ testing and the counselor proceeded to give Ari a verbal IQ test.
The test was set up like this. The woman put objects of various colors on the table. Then she would ask Ari to pint to an object of a certain color. Here is how the test went down.
Counselor: "Point to the object that is red." Ari: Points Counselor: "Point to the object that is yellow." Ari: Stops- looks up at the woman and very questioningly asks, "Do you know?"
Ari could not figure out why in the world this woman would ask her to point out which object was which if she already knew. It went downhill from there. Ari was unwilling to be quizzed much like she always had been at home. The woman said something about her lack of maturity, which I at the time took very personally and of course it proved that I was the worst parent ever.
Yesterday we went to visit some friends who live a pretty good distance from our house. Upon pulling in to the drive way Ari said, "Mina we are here." To which Mina(2) replied, "Oh, it's a dream come true."
Last night we were driving home from Utah County after spending the day with family. I was sort of lost in my own thoughts, Mina was asleep, and Ari was playing Pokemon on her Nintendo DS. I was not really listening to her but Ari was singing. For some reason I thought I would try to understand what she was singing.
Song #1 I smell like a sound A leaf on the ground I'm on the hunt I'm after you I drop like a pound a leaf on the ground and I'm hungry like the wolf
Song #2 Oh Oh Oh changing love Oh oh oh changing love
Two things are very clear. Like her mother she just makes up lyrics when she cannot understand what is being said and we probably should listen to something besides the 80's on CD. Song #1 Hungry Like the Wolf and Song #2 Tainted Love by Soft Cell
This story is old but I have to record it before I am some day senile and cannot remember just how funny Ari was. When Ari was around 3 we were watching Dora the Explorer. Dora was playing soccer. Ari said, "Mom, when I grow up I want to play soccer. I really do not remember what I said but I am sure it was some kind of affirmative comment. Later that afternoon we were walking down the street with a neighbor girl, M. I said, "Hey M ask Ari what she wants to be when she grows up." To which M of course complied and said, "Hey Ari what do you want to be when you grow up." Without hesitation Ari said, "Evil." Now exactly what does one say to that? So I pressed for some more information and inquired, "I thought you wanted to be a soccer player." The response, "Well, first I want to be evil, then I will play soccer."
We here at the Niedermeyer house are sort of creative when it comes to playing games. We like to mix old ones with new things and see what happens. If you have not tried the game I am about to teach you, you will be shocked at how much fun it is. The girls and I had a rousing game of toilet paper roll tag the other night. The specialized equipment necessary for this game is: more than 1 person, toilet paper rolls with toilet paper still on them, and an area or room where you cannot break anything. Basically, you play the game the same way as you play tag except you throw the toilet paper roll at each other. Really no one is ever "it" so maybe it is more of a toilet paper roll fight. Enjoy with caution and get an adults permission first :).
I love the things that come out of the mouths of kids. For Ari's half birthday we went to McDonalds- I tried to contain my enthusiasm. :) As she was getting out of the car, she looked around, and said, "By the looks of the parking lot I will be making some new friends in a jiffy."