Friday, June 27, 2014

Follow through is hard to do.

While Bill and I were at Bonnaroo, our boys were in Louisville with my sister. When we picked them up and I asked how they had been, she told me Finn was so much better this time. I guess I was expecting a generic stock answer or something because I was kind of taken aback. He's been bad for you before? He's getting better? I really didn't know which surprised me more.

I know my kids really well but I only know them the way they are around me. I assume they're the same all the time, but who knows? Hearing that Finn was stubborn, quick to cry (to get out of things) and a bit of a challenge was actually strangely reassuring. Because that's how he is for me! If he was totally compliant and agreeable for someone else it might really piss me off.

Since my sister is a behavioral psychologist, I took the opportunity to pick her brain a bit. Because we definitely have our fair share of challenges with Finn. We're still working on sleep, listening, cleaning up, ABCs, 123s, the occasional tantrum that is so intense it knocks our whole world on its side, and other typical three year old stuff.

Her advice was pretty simple: tell, show, do. Tell him what I want him to do (or not do), show him what I expect (here's how I put toys away...), then if he's still not complying, make him do whatever it is I've asked. (She said this last part isn't fun for anyone and that's kind of the point.) She also stressed consistency and follow through.

Easier said than done.

We've been kind of terrible about all this stuff. I think we just realized a long time ago that none of us can out-stubborn Finn so we pretty much stopped trying. If he's going to hold his ground about something, we basically let him have it. Which, I know. We've earned where we are fair and square! But it's never too late to try something new.

Time for some tough love!

She said it might be good to "practice" at home sometime when we had nowhere to be and the patience for a fight. So one day when he refused to come to the table for lunch (completely out of the blue), I went for it. Telling, showing, doing, following through, the whole nine yards. Ten minutes later when he punctuated his screaming tantrum by throwing his full plate of lunch on the floor (and I nearly lost my mind as a result), I had to shut myself in the office and call my sister, completely out of breath, for help.

She told me I probably had to take it down a notch. Instead of expecting him to comply (which is just not in his nature, bless his heart), I should just tell, show, do and leave it at that. So, for instance, once I brought him to his chair and made him sit down for lunch, I should ignore him getting up and screaming at me and refusing to eat instead of engaging (i.e. putting him BACK in his chair a thousand times and screaming at him). If I feel myself escalating (which I always do...Finn knows ALL my buttons), I should just lock myself in the bathroom.

Way easier than trying to put him in a time out.

She also reiterated the importance of follow through. "Make your expectations known and put some consequences into place. If he doesn't do what you've asked, you have to follow through with the consequences. It might not seem like it's helping but over time it will shape the way he makes decisions." (I'm paraphrasing, of course.)

The problem we've faced with this is that a consequence for Finn means a consequence for ALL of us. He doesn't take anything lying down (he will be such a strong adult!) so we all suffer when he's upset. This is why I kept getting him juice in the middle of the night and laying down with him until we both fell back asleep for so long (like, until a few months ago). It was just so much easier than letting him wake up the whole family.

But enough is enough, right? So the other night when he refused to put his toys away before bed, I had the brilliant idea of taking away bedtime stories as a consequence. Every time he didn't listen, I gave him one more chance and told him I would take away a story if he didn't do what I asked. Then I counted - 1, 2, 3. He just laid there, looking at me. I'm sure he thought I was bluffing.

"No way would she take away bedtime stories! It's everyone's favorite part of the night. Plus, I'm still a not-so-great sleeper who needs my stories to settle down. Like she's gonna mess with that? Ha! Liam will never go for this. He'll talk her into reading anyway. She's obviously backed herself into a corner..."

I'm not gonna lie, that's exactly how I felt too. "Why bedtime stories?! Of all the things I could hold over his head, I had to go and say bedtime stories? What's wrong with me?! Now I'm going to have to follow through and we're all going to be miserable. Maybe he'll earn them back? Is that a thing? No...that's what I usually do. It is obviously not working. Nope, I'm going to have to stick to my guns on this one. Bedtime with no stories. Oh boy. Here we go..."

It was awful. But not the end of the world. Liam begged me to just read already and Finn screamed and cried and got out of bed and shoved books in my face. But I didn't cave. It felt horrible. I hated it. But then I realized I didn't have to be angry, just stubborn. So I was sweet with him and told him how hard it was for him and gave him lots of love and told him we could read all the books in the morning.

Eventually he fell asleep. Honestly? It didn't even take that long. And in the morning, I could tell he was proud of himself. (Sleep has never been his strong suit - so falling asleep without one of his vices is kind of a big deal.)

"Mama, do you remember when you said we could read all the books?"

And that's just what we did.

(We're working on the letter A right now so we have a big stack of "A" books from the library. The Apple Pie Tree, If You Were an Astronaut, Hooray for Amanda and her Alligator, Angry Birds, Anakin to the Rescue, Are You an Ant?, Ten Apples Up On Top, An Anteater Named Arthur... This was another suggestion from my sister. Instead of expecting Finn to know the whole alphabet because we read Dr. Seuss' ABCs a few times, I should take it down a notch and focus on just one letter at a time. I am accustomed to dealing with Liam who learns so quickly he doesn't actually have to be taught. So this is new ground for me. I have to rethink everything with regards to Finn's education. So far, we're both feeling much more successful.)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Another day, another dinner.

I should probably know better than to get my hopes up but I'm crossing my fingers that these babies turn out as good as they look. More importantly, I hope Liam doesn't keel over dead at the sight of his dinner.

We accidentally did that thing where instead of checking the fridge before running to Costco, we just threw things into the cart willy nilly. It wasn't until we came home with a six pack of red bell peppers that we realized we already had a drawer full of them.

We cooked up a bunch fajita style for easy weekday lunches (Bill calls it his "Chipotle meal" and saves $10 a day when he remembers to pack it) but we still had a laughable amount of peppers. That's why I decided to make stuffed peppers for dinner tonight.

The kids are rice, peas and cheddar cheese. Ours are quinoa, kale, tomatoes, mint and feta. They're all definitely edible; I just hope they'll be a hit.

Because Liam already cried at lunch today and I really don't want to sit through any more mealtime drama. I suppose it's my fault - serving him a burrito like a damn monster - but the more I learn about nutrition, the more I realize what a disservice I've done letting him eat mostly what he likes for the past eight years.

Proper nutrition is so important. Especially for growing kids. I just want to kick myself for all the times I've let him win the food fight and cringe when I think about all the sugar and junk he still eats on the daily. But I'll give myself a pass. Because compared to how he used to be? He's a healthy eating machine!

A few weeks ago, our neighbor invited us to the soft opening of his new restaurant, Adele's. Normally we wouldn't have brought the boys  - because anywhere without a predictable kids' menu is just asking for trouble - but they were really excited and we thought it would be fun to share the experience with them.

Turns out, we were right. Despite the very grown up menu, both boys found something they wanted to order (and did so with lovely manners, I might add). Liam chose the gnocchi which we told him was like fancy pasta and when it arrived covered in pesto and tomatoes and other deliciousness, he didn't seem nearly as freaked out as I thought he would be. 

"Is this my gnocchi?"

"Looks like," we said, waiting for him to complain about the green bits or the sauce or wondering if it was going to be spicy. But he just dug in! We held our breath. And waited. We exchanged hopeful looks. We wrung our hands. And then, he took another bite! 

He loved it! I couldn't have been more shocked if I tried...

Meanwhile, Finn ate a whole chicken. He has to bulk up on meat when he can since he doesn't get it very often. I suspect that's why he likes going to Trader Joe's and Costco: SAMPLES.

So, I predict that when the timer goes off and dinner is ready, Finn will think his stuffed pepper is adorable and eat it like a starving puppy. Liam? Well, let's just wait and see...


After dinner update.

These kids are full of surprises.

Finn refused to eat which never happens while Liam was so excited to tell us about the stop motion movie they're making with the neighbors that he hardly even noticed what was on his plate.

Eventually everyone tried the "cheesy peasy rice in an edible bowl" (if you sing it it sounds really fun and delicious) and nobody even cried! Finn dug into the edible bowl part first (because that's just the kind of kid he is) and declared it awesome. So Liam tried it. He didn't hate it! I told them I thought they'd like the rice but that the pepper would be a bit of a stretch. Liam said, "Well, I guess you're in a vice-versa type situation," which reminded Bill of the movie Vice Versa (and Big - family movie night STAT!) and Finn spent the rest of the night telling us about the one time he watched Vice Versa with his grandparents before we were born and it had a big scary monster and he really didn't want to watch it again. Then he put his face in his food, we told Liam to TAKE A BITE eight thousand times and all was right in the world.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Summertime souvenirs.

One of my favorite things about story time is the cuddling. It seems no matter how big my kids get, they can't listen to someone else read to them without sitting all over me. Even Liam, who never sits on my lap anymore, will do whatever it takes to somehow get on my person.

Yesterday he stretched his long, thin body out in front of me and rested his back and head on my bent legs. Meanwhile, Finn clambered up on what was left of my lap and for a second there I was the happiest / most squished and uncomfortable mom in the whole library.

Unfortunately, as soon as one of them moved an inch, I realized there was only ONE way for them to sit on me without pressing one of my many bruises and if they weren't in that exact position, I wanted to die. Every time one of them shifted their weight, I winced and gasped and swatted at them. Finally I had to kick them off and find a way to sit on the floor that didn't make my eyes tear up.

Why so many bruises, you ask? There have been plenty of normal, summertime injuries (go cart crash, bow and arrow incident, run in with a rogue Adirondack chair...) but I've also been a bit of a jock lately.

I joined a friend's work softball team because they needed more girls and I thought, "Sure, it's been 20 years since I played softball but I'm a girl every single day. This will be no problem!" Once we started practicing I felt perfectly at home. It seemed no one had played softball in 20 years. Or maybe ever! We were obviously in it for the fun of the game and not to win a trophy. This was my kind of team.

But there are still more ways to get hurt playing softball (even non-aggressive, just for fun softball) than there are, say, gardening or working on a laptop. In one practice alone I caught two balls with my leg. And not a soft, fatty part of my leg. My shinbone! It is gloriously bruised, knee to ankle, and still hurts like a mother even though it happened two weeks ago.

Monday night was our first game. Two games actually! A double header. I think I can speak for the team when I say we were pretty excited. We had new shirts (t-shirts, my nemesis...) and were feeling as ready as a mixed-bag of "athletes" could possibly get.

And then the other team showed up.

Do you remember that movie Old School where Will Ferrell and Vince Vaughn start a fraternity? All the other frat houses are filled with young guys in college (obviously) while theirs is a motley crew of random dudes who are mostly way too old to be hanging around college kids.

That's exactly how it felt.

This other team showed up and we honestly thought they might be at the wrong field. The college co-ed league probably played somewhere else, right? This field was for misfits. People who work together and wear matching shirts but otherwise have nothing in common. You can't ALL be 25 and fit and tan AND be good at softball. That's just crazy.

But that's what they were and they kicked our butts. It was one of those games that was not even fun. Like, I'm sure they thought they were coming out to get a workout or a challenge or something, but instead they got us. And we got killed.

Pretty rough for our first game. Especially since we had to play another one right away. The wind was definitely out of our sails and we were...tired. Like, physically worn out from getting our asses handed to us.

But what could we do? The other team showed up and they were ready to play. They were also a much better representation of what a work team should look like. There was the old guy who was brimming with positivity. The guy from Nepal (who was fit and young but didn't exactly understand the rules). And the girl who was obviously there just to get another girl's name on the roster.

Things were looking up!

As soon as the game started, we got on a roll. In fact, we got so many runs in one inning, they had to call it (the rules in this league are weird...kind of seems like they make them up as they go along). I was getting some hits, playing 2nd base and just generally feeling like I might not be so bad at sports after all.

Meanwhile, Bill and the boys were running around chasing fireflies on the sidelines, cheering me on and making me wish we had games every night of the week.

And then, I almost got killed.

I can't remember exactly what happened (I was too busy watching my life flash before my eyes) but I know there was a play at 2nd, a base runner who was totally prepared to run THROUGH me if he had to and a slight chickening out on my part. Afterward I looked around like, "OMG, you guys, did you see that?! I almost died! For softball!" I thought my heart might pound right out of my chest.

But the game must go on. And wouldn't you know it, the very next play involved Mr. Agro and 2nd base. MY base. Only this time, I stood my ground. And do you know what happened? HE STOOD ON ME.

Seriously! The dude stomped on my leg. Which, how is that even possible?! I almost wouldn't believe it if it wasn't for the bruise, the cleat scrapes (above my ankle bone!) and the picture that Bill happened to catch from the sidelines.

How crazy is that?! Fortunately I survived without being permanently marred. I don't even have a limp! And the best part? I got him out. Winning the game was just gravy.

Maybe I do like a trophy once in a while.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Bonnaroo 2014.

Bill and I were lucky enough to go to Bonnaroo over the weekend. It was sort of a last minute situation but we managed to get the boys to my sister's house in Louisville with plenty of time to get out to Manchester by Saturday afternoon.

The festival goes all day Thursday through Sunday but we know ourselves better than that. A day and a half in a hot, sweaty field (and one night sleeping in the van!) is plenty of fun for the two of us.

And speaking of sleeping in the was so comfy! Bill had the genius idea to shove the futon mattress back there so we slept like little angels.

Or at least we probably would have if Skrillex didn't drop beats until 4 (or was it 5?) in the morning. It sounded like we were cuddled up next to a rave. A very LOUD rave.

But you know what they say...if it's too loud, you're too old. Which...yeah.

I won't go into too much detail about feeling like a chaperon (it was not unlike hanging out with a slightly older Liam and a bunch of his friends), I'll just share an antidote that sort of sums up the experience. 

We were in the craft beer tent, waiting for my pint to be poured. On the make-shift counter in front of us was a little pile of something in shiny wrappers. Like extra small packs of airplane peanuts. Or maybe vitamins. A pack of cleanse supplements? What could be in those packs? Sunscreen? Ear plugs? We each picked one up to try to figure it out. I could feel sort of a ring inside. Maybe it was a friendship bracelet or something all coiled up? Finally, at about the same time Bill pointed out we were at the Magic Hat booth, I realized what I was fondling.

A condom.

As soon as we figured it out, it was super obvious. It was definitely a pile of condoms. Like, there was no way it could be anything else. Plain as day. It's just been so long since either if us has seen a condom we had no idea what we were dealing with.

Because we're old.

trying not to look terrified on the fairly mellow/scary to us ferris wheel...

(But we're young at heart.)

A great big thanks to WARPAINT for hooking us up with guest passes and a sweet camping spot. They inspire me to no end... (especially the pink haired beauty, Jenny Lee Lindberg who grew up with us and totally blows my mind)

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

What to do with your kids in Nashville this summer.

It's that time of year when schools are letting out and parents are faced with eight whole weeks of summer vacation. What to do with the kids?! As a homeschooler, I feel I am uniquely qualified to help you sort this out. Not only do I survive eight weeks with my kids at home, I somehow manage to survive ALL THE WEEKS.

Here's how you do it:

Step 1: Realize your kids are not just kids, they're people.

Small people, sure, but people just the same. They are not something to survive or entertain, they are people. Some kids are doers and would probably like to stay busy all summer long (hello, summer camps!). Some are not. Most are probably somewhere in between. Before you go filling the calendar, check in to see what they want to do. It's their vacation, right? Why not let them enjoy it? (And enjoy them while you're at it!)

at Camp Widjiwagan

Step 2: Accept that sometimes kids make bad decisions.

It's true. As much as I wish I could follow my kids' lead all the time, there's just no way that's gonna happen. I try to respect their wishes as much as I can but not EVERY day. That would be ridiculous. They'd be naked and gooned on screens 24/7. Like ferrel gamers. It would be fun to schedule in a "yes" day once in a while though. You might not even have to tell them. Although if you do, you'll get more credit for it later...

Step 3: Add water.

Summer is hot. And humid. And buggy. Honestly, it's probably the worst time of year to have long stretches of uninterrupted time. If your kids are like mine (i.e. they just can't in the heat), water is your new best friend. It can fix almost any situation (whining, fighting, boredom, etc.) and is readily available. I will post a few of our favorite water activities below but just remember, if all else fails, turn the hose on them.

Anderson Beach at Percy Priest Lake. I love, love, love this beach. It's close to home, cheap ($4 per car or $30 for the season), sandy, sunny (with lots of shady areas too), there are bathrooms and a playground (and picnic areas with bbq grills if you're more ambitious than I am)'s a beach. Not too shabby for middle Tennessee.

Renting a pontoon boat makes you instantly feel like you're on vacation. We did this a couple times last year and it was a blast. For me, boats are total memory makers. If you have friends with a boat, start hounding them NOW. If YOU have a boat, let me introduce you to your new best friends.

Splash Parks are good options for those days when the kids need to get out but you don't want to wear a swimsuit in public. We like Cumberland River Park best but have also played at Bicentennial Mall and in front of the courthouse downtown.

And if your kids don't know how to swim, NOW is the time for them to learn. Drowning is one of the leading causes of accidental death in children (2nd only to car accidents). DON'T WAIT. Schedule lessons for your child now. (My pick? Brendan Sweetman Swimmers in Mt. Juliet.)

Step 4: Make a day of it! Nothing says summer break like leaving the house in the morning and returning much later in the day, all sun kissed and exhausted. It's easy to spend a full day at the beach or on a boat or hiking/picnicking/throwing rocks in a creek (I'm looking at you Beaman Park!), but there are other ways to do it, too.

One of our favorite all day excursions is right downtown. Start by walking across the pedestrian bridge from East Nashville to downtown, hit story time or a puppet show at the Downtown Library, grab lunch at Puckett's Grocery, stop by Robert's Western World for a Moon Pie and a little honky tonkin, then walk back across the bridge and spend the rest of the day playing at Cumberland River Park. Trust me - if you go all out once in a while, you can skate for days without anyone complaining that they're bored.

on the bridge with my sweet cousin last summer

Step 5: Use the buddy system. There is no reason to go at this thing alone. Team up with other families you like spending time with and EVERYONE has more fun. Plus, if you forget your sunscreen or don't want to be Sensai Wu again, there's a good chance someone will have you covered.

Bonus points: With other grown ups around, you might actually get to be in a picture with your kid!

Step 6: Stop trying so hard. Remember your summer vacation? Was it all incredible outings and Pinterest worthy picnics and playdates? Or were you like me and kinda bored for three months? I mean, don't get me wrong, I have lots of fond memories of summer vacation, and the boredom I remember is all nostalgic and lovely, but we didn't DO a whole heck of a lot. There were little things thrown in here and there (we picked out movies to rent every Wednesday, took swim lessons at the local pool, camped a little, and usually went to San Francisco at the end of the summer for back-to-school shopping and a Giants game), but there was also a lot of down time. I recall one year that seems to have mainly consisted of microwave cheese quesadillas and switching off between Dirty Dancing and Raising Arizona (my mom had a full time job that summer). Boredom is not the enemy. Best case scenario it leads to creativity. Worst case? Character.

Step 7: Don't reinvent the wheel. This is by no means the end-all be-all list of things to do this summer (it's not even really a list). You know why? Because there are already so many great lists! The blog Surburban Turmoil has a doozy (plus another one I got tired just reading!), all the free magazines have calendar listings and my personal fave, Ms. Cheap's Guide to Summer can be found right here

Enjoy your summer! xo

Thursday, June 5, 2014

F is for field day.

Summer has already gotten kind of busy on us (swim lessons and camp and fun, oh my!) so this post is a bit of a throw back to the end of the school year...

The Tuesday tutorial Liam goes to has an annual end-of-the-year field day. Last year, we signed up but at the last minute, Liam decided not to go. I wasn't sure at the time if Liam wanted to skip it because he didn't want to wake up and get going or if he still had unresolved psychological damage from field day in kindergarten.

Because if you're sort of an indoor kid who would prefer just about anything to, say, soccer, field day might not be the most fun-filled day of the year.

Especially if your best buddy you chose to pair up with is in it to win it. And every single event is a competition.

It was a blood bath. If it hadn't been such a public display of Liam LOSING time after time, he might have found the whole thing laughable. But when you're on the line like that - one winner, one loser - and you keep coming up behind, it's hard not to feel like, well, a loser. Even if you honestly don't give a lick about the dang three-legged race.

Anyway. This year we signed up for field day and actually went. I had all but forgotten about the kindergarten debacle but as soon as the games kicked off and Liam dropped his water balloon, I was flooded with a wave of nostalgia.

Here he is doing the wheelbarrow race...

(His buddy was trying to get him to budge but it just wasn't happening.)

And the sack race...

(He's the one in blue going the wrong way.)

Poor guy. He's more of a mathlete than an athlete, so anything that involved the word race ended with him in last place.

Even though he was obviously not doing well, it didn't seem to be bothering him much at all. When we broke for Popsicles, he was in great spirits, having a blast with his friends and being super sweet to Finn (he took him up to get popcorn and reminded him to say 'thank you' when he got his bag). Even his friend (who was equally as athletic and competitive as Liam - woohoo!) seemed to be happy with their less than stellar results. I thought there was nothing that could bring him down.

But there was one thing I didn't take into account. The ribbons.

Liam was awarded one for participation (which seemed appropriate...generous even), but lots of other kids were flaunting whole collections of ribbons. He wanted more. At least two to pin together! He had his eyes on a third place for lawn bowling but when someone edged him out, he really felt the blow.

It was the last event of the day and when I walked over to get him, he was fighting back angry tears. "Why did those other kids have to be so good?" he growled. "I thought bowling was one event I could actually win. I'm good at bowling! Why'd they have to be good at that too?!"

I patted his shoulder, made him pose for a last-day-of-school, look-how-much-fun-I'm-having-at-field-day-picture with his friend and held his hand as we walked to the car.

On the drive home I tried my best to assure him that we're all good at different things and that just because he didn't win any ribbons at field day doesn't mean he's not great at other things. Just maybe not field day things.

Which, I mean, in the grand scheme of things...being bad at field day is SO not a big deal. There are very few people who are lucky enough to make a living at FIELD DAY, you know?


But he kept coming back to that darn 3rd place ribbon. He wanted it SO BAD! It reminded me of the junk counter at Chuck E. Cheese. No one really wants a Chinese finger trap or cheap plastic top, but when you're 10 tickets away from having one of your very own, you'd trade in your left foot if they'd take it.

A few nights later, after his last class of the school year, we had a little end of the year celebration. A Little Caesar's pizza, his very own Coke, The Lego Movie and an awards ceremony.

We each presented Liam with a ribbon we had made for him. Each was what we thought he had excelled at in 2nd grade. I gave him, "Most Creative, Adaptable and Fun To Be Around." Bill gave him, "Best Friend and Leader + Most Creative (Artist, Game, Planner)." And Finn gave him, "Best Drawer and Best at Playing."

Liam was surprised and very touched. With the sentiment, yes, but mostly with the ribbons. He added them to his ribbon collection (the one he got on field day plus one that Grandmama gave him several years ago) and proudly pinned it to his shirt just like the kids at school had done. All night long he held his head a little higher.

We've all told him a million times how wonderful he is. But this was the first time we thought to make ribbons to go with it. Who could have known what a difference a little ribbon would make?

The next day, Bill made one for Finn. "Most Thoughtful of Others." Finn was so proud, he wore it to our neighbor's backyard party. And since then, he's worn it a lot.

I got one, too. "Most Thoughtful Wife and Mother." Suddenly I understood what all the fuss was about.

Ribbons rule.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The check up.

When we first started homeschooling, people kept telling me that the thing I had to be prepared to answer was, "What about socialization?" Even the books I read gave me great expectations. 

Everywhere you go, people will wonder how your poor homeschooled children will ever learn to be socialized. People will ask - as they themselves are socializing with your children! - what you are going to do about socialization. 

I figured that made sense. It was probably one of the things I would have asked before we took the plunge and dropped out of school. (Also - I was super curious how homeschoolers knew what to teach. How do you know you're covering all the right things? Now I know no one knows all the things. I'm over it.)

I waited and waited to be grilled about socialization but I never heard a word. Maybe it's because we live in a progressive part of town that is open to all kinds of schooling. Or because us homeschoolers tend to travel in herds. Perhaps I'm totally oblivious to criticism from strangers. Or maybe homeschooling is just not that weird anymore. At any rate, I'm lucky to have been spared the lecture. 

But there are some people who maybe still don't get it. Like our pediatrician. Liam had his 8 year old well visit yesterday and he totally got grilled. On friends and books and favorite subjects. It was all very conversational, but I could tell it was a clever kind of quiz. 

"How do you know those friends?" was code for, "If you don't go to school, how do you have friends?"

"What books do you like?" translated to, "Do you hippies know how to read?"

And, "What's your favorite subject?" meant, "What exactly are you learning at that there homeschool?"

I get it. It's his job to make sure we're covering our bases. All our bases. And since we've brought Liam's education under our roof, that includes everything that used to be the responsibility of the school. 

But it's still funny to me to think that anyone might be concerned when I know how rich Liam's education is now compared to when he was "in school."

It made me wonder, do pediatricians grill all kids like this? Or if you say, "I go to such-and-such school," do you get a pass? I hope not. It's important that all kids are getting a full education, not just the homeschooled ones. 

Liam handled to conversation great (I stayed completely out if it). My favorite part was when the doctor asked him about his favorite subject. 

"Hmm," Liam said thoughtfully. That's hard to say..."

"Just pick one. Do you like math? Or..."

"I guess I'd have to say science. It's pretty fun."

"Science," he repeated thoughtfully. "Like experiments?"

"No, we didn't really do a whole lot of experiments this year."

"So...outer space?"

"Well, we learned about bones." And about a hundred other things!, I wanted to yell. But this was Liam's conversation and I was not about to butt in. 

"Bones, huh? you know how many bones are in the human body?" 

Seriously? A quiz?! This is what I read about! Pediatricians throwing out random questions to test how much homeschooled kids know. I couldn't believe it. What kind of 2nd grader would know how many bones are in the human body? I certainly didn't know and I went to school!

"Well," said Liam, completely unfazed. "If I remember correctly, the adult human body has two hundred and six bones."

I was shocked. Where in the world did he full that from?

"That's exactly right," said our pediatrician smiling. And he promptly ended the test. 

On our way to the car I told Liam he handled the appointment really well. "You know, our doctor might not know much about what it's really like to homeschool. He's lucky to have a patient like you who can help educate him." Liam rolled it around in his head thoughtfully and I'm sure he stored it away somewhere that will surprise and inspire me one day soon. 

Or perhaps he'll save it for his next well visit. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Reading with our eyes shut.

Over the weekend, Finn got into the habit of napping with his cousin Jack. He was never much of a napper as a baby (or a sleeper...) and when we realized a year and a half ago that he wouldn't go to bed on time if he rested during the day, we said goodbye to naps forever.

Which is just a total bummer for so many reasons.

I'm a huge believer in the importance of sleep. So the fact that my child might not be getting enough (although, he's probably fine) kind of drives me nuts.

Plus I really miss the routine of it. The break in the middle of the day, the guaranteed time to read together, the break in the middle of the day...

I really miss that break.

But the reading together is important too. Sure we could read together whenever we want (and we do), but when it's not scheduled, it's way too easy to end up doing other things.

So since Finn was kind of used to napping and completely worn out from swim lessons this week, I tried to continue the routine of an afternoon rest.

Only I had to re-brand it.

Instead of calling it nap time or quiet time or rest time or anything else that might make Finn stomp and cry, I decided to call it Naked Alone Time.

He was totally on board.

While reading our three books before Naked Alone Time earlier this week, Finn chose a chapter of The Little Prince, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut by Dr. Seuss and Raindrop Plop.

After reading I Can Read With My Eyes Shut, I told Finn I would read the next book with my eyes closed. He thought that was hilarious. But since I've read Raindrop Plop approximately eight thousand times, I realized I could read it from memory no problem. So I did. And sweet Finn almost died.

I have to admit, it was pretty funny. But it also got me thinking... isn't reading from memory one of the first signs of pre-reading? I know Liam used to "read" his books all the time and before we knew it, he was reading everything for real. Maybe before this Finn didn't know that he could read with his eyes shut? Maybe now he would try to read a bit on his own?!

Just a few hours later, he answered my question.

We were watching our neighbor baby for a bit so his mom could drop the guys off at the Ryman to see Morrissey (Bill said it was the best time he's ever seen him EVER...and that's saying something!). We've hung out with Max several times since he was born but there was something about having him at our house that totally bowled Finn over.

He loved it. He asked to hold the baby almost immediately and when I said okay he told Liam that he was growing up and that he was going to babysit this week. Then he held Max and kissed his head and asked me to bring him his night-night. When I took Max back for a second, Finn ran off to get a book.

"Mama, I need to hold Maxie again. I need to read him this book!" He had chosen Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See which was such a perfect choice. I knew he could read it to Max. And he did! He read each page and showed Max the pictures and just generally made me want to rip out my IUD and get pregnant.

Thank goodness we have so many great baby friends we can borrow. If you need a little buddy to babysit sometime, Finn, apparently, is open for business.