"Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Spencer and tractors

Spencer has always (always always) been fascinated by construction equipment. At 9, the interest is as strong as ever. He enjoys other things, but not with the same intense passion that he has for big machinery. Last week we placed an order with Amazon, and each of the boys picked something new. Paxton chose a playstation game that he'd played and liked at a friend's house, and Spencer picked a 1/16th scale forklift. The forklift arrived just a couple minutes ago, and he was through the roof with excitement. If you've ever seen Spencer get really excited about something, you know what I'm talking about... joyful, estatic, full-body excitement.

I know what we're playing with today.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The ER, sleepovers, and renovations

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And so it goes...

Last Wednesday night, we got a call from Sandi that Isaac was in the hospital, and could we come. Mitch was back east on business, so she was alone with both Isaac and Anabelle in the hospital. He is ok now (and home), after lots and lots of tests, although they're still figuring out what's going on. But that night he had to spend the night, so we all went to the hospital to lend some help and some moral support. Mike and Spencer went to her house to take care of the pets and pick up some necessities, while me and the kids stayed at the hospital and played in the playroom with Isaac and Anabelle. It was a great playroom, and a great pediatric floor for that matter. The kids actually had a blast, and were very patient about the fact that we were there well past 10 PM. We brought Anabelle home with us to spend the night, so she wouldn't have to stay at the hospital, and the boys treated her like a princess... making sure she was happy and comfortable and had everything she needed. It was a very late night and a very early morning. A couple of crazy days. Thankfully everyone is happy and safe and home now.

We were going to go the first homeschool group party of the season on Friday, but decided to rest instead. Rest and pack up for our first official working weekend at the house. We got there Friday night, and started working first thing in the morning. The boys completely rose to the challenge, and worked as hard as I've ever seen them work. They both commented - more than once - how much fun it was, and how glad they were that we were doing it.

I started a whole new blog, just for house updates, and you can view it here

Our Flip Files

Sunday night, after we got home, we went to the grocery store for our poor empty kitchen. I saw someone, an older gentlemen, watching me and Spencer talking as I picked the coffee. I'm not even sure what we were talking about, but I know he said something sweet and then I hugged him. The man came up to me in the next aisle and said "You have a wonderful, well-behaved boy there. What a nice boy."

Random compliments feel good.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Halloween and a problem solved

The kids wanted to learn about why we celebrate Halloween, and where all the traditions came from, so we looked it up. I'd heard some of it before of course, but a lot of it was new to me too. This was a good site:


Paxton just informed me that you can tell a hard boiled egg from an uncooked egg by spinning them on the counter. The hard boiled one spins faster. I am happy to have this information, because I've been keeping lots of both in the fridge lately, and always losing track. Thank you, Food Network.

And the demo begins!

In my state of post-conference euphoria, I neglected to mention some big happenings! We closed on our house last Monday, and it was very different than it was in NH. In NH, it was a big deal.. a table full of buyers and sellers and agents and title people. We signed papers, exchanged keys, shook hands & extended good wishes. Here it was just us, alone in a room with a "Document Signing Specialist" (a position I didn't know existed) All three boys came along. Paxton layed on the floor and read a science experiment book he'd brought with him. Spencer poured through the conference directory, looking up all his new friends; and Everett alternately drew and played with trucks. It was very strange, and kind of anti-climactic.

On Saturday, everything was ready for us to take possession. We met our realtor at the house first thing in the morning. He gave us the keys, examined the property with us, and chatted about our ideas for the place. Spencer was dying to get started on some demolition, and apparently so was Mike. The instant the realtor left they took down some cabinets. Spencer was still raring to go once that was finished, so we got him started ripping up the carpet in two of the bedrooms. He went straight to work, and we barely saw him for most of the day. They completed an outdoor project together too, digging dirt away from the foundation (there was a small termite problem) It made my heart happy to see Spencer working so hard. He truly is in his element when he has a hands-on project to tackle. Flipping houses is right up his ally!

Sandi and the kids joined us at the house in the afternoon, and we had lunch, played, and just enjoyed the gorgeous day. We stopped at Home Dept on the way home to put a deposit on our kitchen countertops, one of the last big projects we'd yet to schedule. It was a feel-good day of the highest order.

Random kid news:

Spencer taught me about the different kinds of symmetry last night while I was getting ready for bed. Paxton continues his immense interest in the computer, and they are both looking forward to a "Not Back To School" Party this week, a field trip to an air museum, and Halloween.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Paxton's Comedic Debut

Live and Learn!!

We just returned from our first-ever Live and Learn Conference in Albuquerque NM, and it was a RAGING success. We went with no expectations other than to soak it all in, and enjoy being around other unschoolers. We got that, and so very much more. The boys truly had the time of their lives.

It was amazing to be around so many other unschoolers (over 500!)... people who truly "get it." I've never been around a collected group of adults who treated my kids with such patience, kindness, and respect. I've never been around a collected group of kids who treated each OTHER with such patience, kindness, and respect. Kids of all ages working and playing together, helping each other, supporting each other. Teenagers stopping what they were doing to sit on the floor and give their attention to littler kids. Kids and adults alike gathered into inprompto cirlces of card games, hacky sacks, or guitar playing. It sounds corny to say it, but I honestly don't think I've ever been amongst a group of such peaceful, joy-filled people.

We headed out bright and early on Wednesday morning. The 8 hour ride went smoothly and relatively quickly, thanks in part to my laptop and a stack of DVDs. We made many bathroom stops, especially towards the end, and Paxton experienced a variety of ailments.... ranging from chapped lips to donut crumbs in his underwear. Still, we were all in good spirits when we got there, and excited to check into the hotel. We decided to skip the opening ice cream social, since it was nearly over once we arrived, and pretty much just crashed in our room after dinner. It rained at some point, and the kids excitedly pointed out a rainbow before we called it a night.

The conference officially started on Thursday, and the kids jumped in with both feet. Mike took all three boys to the Building Toys Funshop, where they played with all kinds of building toys from blocks and legos and tinker toys, to new ones we've never seen before. I was able to catch a couple of discussions while they were playing. The first was Sandra Dodd's Big Noisy Peace, about finding peace and calm in your household (and in your heart) amongst the noise and hustle and bustle that comes with unschooling. I also listened to Diana Jenner, an inspiring mom and unschooler who lost both her husband and beautiful little girl to cancer, and faces the world with grace, gratitude, and humor. After I caught up with Mike and the kids (and hugged all four of them) we broke for lunch and got ready for the Funshop that Spencer was most looking forward to: the r/c cars. Stopping only to watch a huge beetle on the front entrance of the hotel, we headed outside for over two hours of sun and cars and playing in the dirt. The last Funshop we hit that day was for playing dress-up, and neither Paxton or Everett were ready to leave when it was over. We checked out a local Mexican place for dinner (which was very very good) and the kids were excited to see some of their new friends there as well. That night was the first of two talent shows, and we were all exhausted when we headed up to bed at 10.

Friday was a whirlwind. There were more r/c cars and playing outside. Spencer and Everett made kites, Paxton made a homemade rain stick and a wallet out of duct tape. All three boys made collages. Everett and I got our faces painted. Mike, Paxton, and I all played chess in the chess Funshop. We went to an Art Trading Card (ATC) Funshop, which was something I'd never heard before, but was actually pretty cool. People made and traded decorated cards, ranging from simple to very elaborate. Both Spencer and Paxton came home with some really neat cards, and a desire to make more. We had lunch at a recommended local pizza place, and the boys enjoyed watching them toss the crust. Paxton decided at the last minute that he wanted to be in the talent show, and they squeezed him in. He picked 5 jokes, and practiced and practiced. He'd never done anything in front of a large crowd before and we didn't know what to expect. He went on at around 9:00, and spoke clearly and confidently and like he did it all the time. He told me later that he was a little bit nervous, but that it felt pretty cool hearing the people laugh and clap. The talent show in general was a blast. Everett slept through the whole thing, having konked out on Mike's lap 5 minutes after it started.

On Saturday morning, we enjoyed a big breakfast buffet at the hotel. We all went to the Wikki Stix Funshop, where we again met up with new friends. I listened to a discussion on living by principles instead of rules, and it was both interesting and inspiring. Paxton set up camp in the back of the main hall, where a guy was demonstrating his game, the Egg Game - Basically a stone egg, spun and balanced on a round board. Paxton played it for nearly 3 hours straight, while Mike, Spencer and Everett played water games and races outside, and I bounced back and forth. In the afternoon, I listened to a discussion on parenting myths. (Some examples: If you let children have unlimited access to tv or video games that's all they'll do... If you let children eat what they want, all they'll eat is candy....If you don't teach them math/grammar/spelling (fill in the blank) they won't get into college....If you don't punish children, they'll become hellions.) I'd prettied much debunked all the myths in my own heart, but it was re-affirming to hear new takes on the matter. Spencer and Paxton made and shot water rockets, and spent most of the rest of the afternoon running around in the courtyard with their friends, and playing with someone's Styrofoam plane. We bought raffle tickets, a bumper sticker, and our very own Egg Game to take home. That night, there was a Mexican banquet and dance. Thankfully, we arrived just in time to get a table with friends. The food was ok, but the conversation and laughter was better. We ducked out pretty early, and retired to the hall. The boys joined some other kids playing with boxes and cars in the hall until the wee hours of the night. We finally went up to our room around 11.

Sunday morning, we slept late, and resigned ourselves to the fact that it was time to pack up and go home. We're already trying to figure out if it's feasible to make next year's conference in North Carolina. Paxton and I both won something in the raffle... he won a window art kit, and I won a book by Sandra Dodd (which kept me happily occupied for most of the ride home) Spencer was disappointed that he didn't win anything, but felt better after a long nap in the car. The ride home went very quickly. We talked about the conference for awhile, and then moved on to talking about 9/11, the meaning of the word "politics", mud flaps, storm clouds, and hubcaps.

It was an incredible trip.

And now, some more pictures!

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