My son Woody turned six in November of 2011. That would have been the kindergarten year for most kids, 180 days that mark the beginning of the school career. But Woody did his learning in the big, wide, beautiful world, without school being a part of it.

I'm Teresa Honey, and I kept this blog to document this time in my son's life, to share pictures and stories with far-away friends and relatives, and to add ours to the many stories of families living rich, engaging, loving lives with learning happening all the time and in many forms, totally inseparable from every other part of being human.

Here you'll find 180 or so learning moments recorded from August, 2011 to April, 2012 in the life of a 5-turned-6-year-old radically unschooled kid.

Friday, September 30, 2011

24


This is an Osage Orange. Or a Horse Apple. Or a Hedge Apple. Or if you want to be fancy, a Bois D'Arc. It's from a mulberry-like tree native to this part of the world, though I had seen one once in a park in Florida with fruits not nearly this big. The fruits are all over the ground this time of year, and the boys love them. They weigh about as much as a softball, though, and are nearly as hard, so we had to be careful hurling them around in a park full of homeschool kids and high school cross-country runners.

After about twenty minutes, Woody had had his lot of fun with it and handed it off to a maybe three-year-old boy who was equally delighted to throw and roll and run after the bright, bumpy ball. There's some cool history to the Osage tree that I looked up this afternoon including wood highly prized for bow-making (right up Woody's alley). Daddy Honey told us that one of the theories of the origin of the word Ozark is "Of the Arcs," meaning the place where all the good bows come from.

The rest of our time at the park included playing Ghost Tag on the playground and WWI  and Magic Island with his little brother and new friend in the ditch at the end of the rain garden.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

23

Daddy Honey is a historian. When we were living in Florida, he worked in the same building as the Museum of Florida History and worked on a couple of special exhibits. We visited the museum at least twice a month, and because it was free, there was never any pressure to see everything, or even to stay if the mood wasn't quite conducive. They boys called it "Daddy's museum," but really, they thought of it as their museum. They knew the arrowheads and mastodon teeth and tin can tourist cars and river boat paths and orange crates and turpentine tools and Civil War weapons.

I was so thankful that it was free, that it was personal to them, and that it was so close to our house. And on our last trip there, I remarked to Joshua how much I lamented the loss of that place as a playground for the boys.

But things have a funny way of turning out.

Today we visited the Shiloh Museum of Ozark History. It was free. It was fun. And it had a barn! We went before lunch, and so, only stayed until we got hungry. (I am the mother who always forgets to pack snacks.) But Woody thought it would be fun to go back next weekend when Joshua can come, too.

There wasn't accompanying text to this one-room house, so I'll have to go hunting around for the historical information. We were playing the three little pigs, taking turns huffing and puffing and blowing those doors open.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

22

Today was "crik stompin'" day. We met a friend, Joy, and her little boy outside of town and hiked down to the edge of the creek underneath highway 45 just after lunchtime. We found fresh tracks in the mud right off; plenty of raccoon, dog, and I think squirrel.



It was sunny, and I had forgotten my water bottle, and Fox was tired and grumpy, but the other two had fun throwing stones and squishing toes in the water.



After about 30 minutes Woody came over to the blanket to tell us that he'd found a dead lobster in the water. So we walked over, talking about the various names for crayfish: crawfish, crawdaddies, crawdads, when we spotted in the water the monster that he was telling us about.



No wonder he had mistaken it for a lobster! It was four times as big as any crayfish we'd seen in Florida. It was good and dead, but Joy--fearless woman! (She had gently scared off a nearby water moccasin when we first arrived.)--reached in and picked it up so we could examine it closer. It was beginning to stink a bit, but I appreciated that we were all able to get a good look at that impressive claw.



Tuesday, September 27, 2011

21

Woody found this big tomato hornworm yesterday evening on an unidentified shrub growing in the middle of the backyard fence. He looks full-grown here, maybe about 4 weeks old, and should be making his way to the soil soon to pupate and overwinter. I hope he finds somewhere safe to bury where the dog (grumble grumble) isn't going to dig him up in his obsessive search for moles.

I wonder how we missed him all this time, where he was while he was getting so honkin' big. As gardeners, I know we're expected to hate them, but they're easy to relocate, and they become the beautiful hawk moths.


***

We checked back on him late this afternoon, and it took us the longest time to find him. And then, wouldn't you know it, he was right under our noses the whole time. Camouflage is a funny thing, especially the neon-green variety that looks exactly like sunlight shining through leaves.

We got a better view of him this time, and those little sucker feet are something! 


***

OK, I may be taking this a little far, but I went ahead and made a video, something I've been meaning to learn how to do anyway. You can see better in the pictures, and you can read here everything I say about it, but if you're interested in hearing me talk here it is. Also, you get a good view of the dog with the dirt-happy feet there in the background.










Monday, September 26, 2011

20



Woody, looking at the pan of a dozen cookies just out of the oven:

There are four threes of cookies in 12 cookies. So, everybody who lives in this house gets three, except the dogs.

In education-ese, this is called number sense, or number concepts. Those of us who do it every day probably learned to call it multiplication. I like to think that however Woody thinks of it, he associates it with deliciousness and fairness.

I read this quote yesterday on a friend's Facebook page:

"“Do not worry about your problems with mathematics, I assure you mine are far greater.” ~ Albert Einstein


Often, I wish I could go back in time, make people cookies, and listen to their stories.

***

Recipe for a dozen ginger cake cookies:

2-3 Tablespoonos of sugar
1/4 cup, or half a stick of butter
2 Tablespoons of molasses
1 egg
1-inch section of fresh ginger, diced small
about 3/4 cup of flour (But this may need to be adjusted; with molasses cookies, I always try to get the cookie-batter "look" right, as the recipes I have often call for too little flour and then make flat cookies. Don't be afraid to add more if necessary.)
A pinch of baking powder
A smaller pinch of baking soda

Cream butter and sugar. Add molasses and egg and mix thoroughly. Add diced ginger, and stir in. Add dry ingredients and just mix. Texture should be wet but fluffy.

Bake in a 350 degree oven for about ten minutes, until you begin to smell them and they have risen nicely with firmed edges


Saturday, September 24, 2011

19


We went to an Alpaca farm today. I am a knitter and a novice spinner. I was enthralled. 

They had the whole process of fiber harvesting demonstrated and touchable, from animal to yarn. I loved petting the alpacas and talking to the farmers about the fleece, how the kinks or lack of kinks in the hair create fiber with memory or with a silky drape. I liked watching the alpacas mill around, being herd animals, following us and the farmer as we walked through the fields. I thought about shepherds across time and place. I liked looking at the Ozark mountains and thinking about all the beautiful creatures that live there. Turns out, the fences for the alpaca pastures have to be 10 feet high not to keep the alpaca in, but to keep white tail deer out; the deer carry a parasite that's deadly to the alpaca. 

It was terrifically interesting. For me. 

This is what Woody mostly wanted to do:


He somewhat reluctantly walked with me through the fields. He took my hand, but had a scowl on his face. He asked if we could go home. But his ears pricked when the farmer mentioned the flash floods that moved a boulder down the mountain and into the middle of his driveway. Woody wanted to know how he knew it was a boulder and not just a big rock. Then he wanted to know how many people it took to move the boulder. Then he wanted to talk about why trucks did better on the steep and rocky roads than our little minivan did. (I was cursing our low carriage and muttering Hail Marys with my eyes closed on the way up. I guess he noticed.)

Sometimes, you just couldn't have guessed what they were going to learn or how.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

18


Y'all, I am so glad I waited to do today's post. I was going to make moment 18 about the 3/4 pan of brownies that was left over after the boys had eaten their fill. (I know, right? First time in this house. Big success of releasing food controls and accepting a brownie as a choice just as valid as an apple or a perfectly cooked filet of fish. Hard to do in a house with a major foodie dad and a food-issues mama.)

And then I had the pictures all queued up to tell about the trip to the post office--especially noticing the P.O. boxes--and the trip afterward to the library, where Woody got fussed at by a librarian because they have a policy against bare feet.

And finally, I really wanted to share about last night when we took out my guitar and tuner and we sang scales trying to find the exact pitches, which registered on the tuner as green, while our flats and sharps showed up as reds.

But I just didn't really get to finalizing those posts. So now, I can tell you about this:



It's Wilco's new album played through the open windows, floating on the smell of Daddy Honey's home-done egg fu yung and mushroom gravy on a just-cool evening with a fire that we made together from wet wood, damp pine needles, and rolled-up dry paper bags. And then, it was sitting in the dark with just Daddy and the glowing coals practicing moves for the battle with the goblin army and talking about whatever else opened its eyes to the night.

I read a few days ago about a mom who had just started unschooling, and she was worried she wasn't doing enough. How would she know, she wondered, if they were learning? Somebody else suggested that she keep a journal or a photo album, and that once she started to keep track, she'd see it everywhere, and she'd hardly be able to keep up.

I think that's exactly how it is.


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

17

We walked outside this morning at half past eleven to see this in the sky:



It was a conversation-starter. Words turned from jets to rockets, sky-streaks to clouds of various kinds, the curve of the earth and what the horizon line really is, and finally landed on a memory of mine of the hot air balloons that used to appear surprisingly low over our house just north of Orlando each Saturday in the winters of the mid 1980s. We'd walk outside on a crisp, clear day and hear the distinct Ffffffffffff-sh! of the pilots reheating the gas to raise the balloons. I'm guessing we were on the path of a commercial outfit's regular tour, or maybe a ballooning club used a nearby field as their base.

I wish I had a picture, though that would only give you a little bit of an idea of what it was like. The early morning, the blue sky, the brief beauty of Central Florida winter, that terrifically unusual sound, you'll just have to imagine. But when looking for the picture of my favorite sunset clouds over the lake at the end of the street, taken when I was maybe 17 or 18, I also found a sweet card that my mom sent me at college around that same time. I'll share them, too.


  


Yep. She's a pretty terrific mom and grandmother.

Monday, September 19, 2011

16


We went to a party on Sunday hosted by one of Daddy Honey's colleagues. It was crazy fun. Kids everywhere. A big wooden play set, a sand table, and a trampoline in the backyard. Inside, at a low, round table, a gigantic tub full of what must have been 50 Lego sets of various sorts: Harry Potter, Star Wars, Ninjago, maybe even Indiana Jones (though Daddy Honey and I were the only ones that made that particular guess). Tons of food that pleased all palates. Beer and wine, yes and yes. Attentive but hands-off parents, happy to sit nearby talking, eating, drinking, keeping an eye out while the kids ran free and had fun. And did I mention sweet kids? Sweet kids.

I was over the moon to see Woody playing so happily. He had a really good time. Also, after Wednesday's locking-the-keys-in-the-car moment, I was glad to have an outing to which there was a bit of resistance at first, but that turned out good for everyone.

But, I did not bring my camera. I did not know anyone at the party, and I thought it might be weird to be the stranger taking pictures of all the kids. So, I abstained. Next time.

But today we did go to the Arkansas Air Museum. We were the only ones there at noon on a Monday, so we ran all over the place--four hangers' worth of vehicles, plus more outside--claiming planes and helicopters and armored cars, pretending to re-enact WWII battles and rescues and other daring feats. 

It was one of those So Much experiences. So much to see, so much to read, so many connections made with what we play and read about and talk about and watch on TV and see in other museums. The John Holt quote came to mind where he says something about kids needing to be able to experience the big world, but then needing time to process what they've seen. At the end of 2 1/2 hours, we were pretty well ready for something else.

So, Fox fell asleep and we moseyed around the grocery store eating out of the bag of deli muenster cheese we'd just gotten, admiring the bakery goods, deciding if we wanted lemon or coconut yogurt, making plans to go back to the museum when my mom and niece come to visit in December, making more immediate plans to draw helicopters with Daddy Honey when he got home from work. 

Fox kept calling the mannequin helicopter pilot, "Dat scary man," but kept wanting to come back to this spot to stare at him.
Woody's "candy" store: cases upon cases of war memorabilia: pictures, guns, helmets, patches, knives, surgeon's equipment, boots, and more guns.


The favorite of the day: the Bell AH1-T Cobra. I bought a military helicopters poster on the way out that featured this and twenty-seven others. It's hanging over his bed.

Friday, September 16, 2011

15



My friend Sharon tells about how she used to go "urban hiking" with her dad in downtown Arlington, Virginia in the '50s (or maybe '60s?) when she was a kid. She said they'd follow the railroad tracks and wind around town seeing what there was to see. She's mostly a woods-hiker now, but she still hits the roads of Tallahassee every now and again.

I remembered this, and I also remembered that there are thirty-some miles worth of connected trails wandering around Fayetteville that we had not explored yet. Just shy of a week before the wheel turns to autumn, we got a real dose of fall weather. The boys and I were tickled to put on our pullovers when Daddy Honey got home last night. Daddy Honey, he of the boiling blood, toughed it out in a white tee.

We parked at the library and walked down the hill to where the connector trail meets the main trail. It was crazy amazing, something I only thought existed in the mind of environmentalist city-kids' utopia. A wide, clean, well-marked trail winding all through the whole city! There are even cross-walks that trip automatic stop lights for passing cars when the bicyclists and pedestrians get near the intersection. Some houses along the trail don't have road access--only bike and foot! We passed bars and restaurants, apartment buildings and tea houses, neighborhoods, railroad tracks and bridges, banks, bike shops, and dorms.

We had races, naturally--on the trail, on the stone walls lining the trail, up hill and down. We saw swallows flying overhead, and I mistook them for bats, and Joshua and Woody talked about how you could tell the difference by which way their wings pointed. We practiced traffic safety--car, bicycle, and pedestrian. We saw a place where half the trail had eroded down the bank to the railroad track cut-through below, and since that was fascinating and terrifying, we talked a great deal about that.

***

For a long time, I had a hard time when Daddy Honey first came home. The frustrations and worry over the  huge responsibility and personal challenge of shepherding two little boys through the day broke open when he opened the door. I was short-tempered and surly, and felt overwhelmed with weariness and feelings of resentment that he'd had erudite grown-up conversations and edifying research opportunities all day while I kept the boys from squabbling and changed diapers and cleaned up the trash that the dog had tipped over and took the call from the bank about the bounced check and answered the door when the neighbor wanted to fuss about the barking.

It can be tough, being the stay-home parent, especially when it's new. It's tough being the at-work, supporting-the-family parent, too. But I was unintentionally tainting Joshua's first opportunity of the day to re-connect with the boys with my own dark energy. I didn't like doing that. I started thinking it would be really great if Joshua coming home was, like, the Event of the Evening! So I started psyching myself up for it. "Daddy Honey's about to be home! More hands! More stories! More laughter! More help!" We started greeting him big. We shared big. We made big plans (for after he changed clothes and got something to eat), even if those big plans amounted to playing spaceship in the backyard.

This has been one of the most powerful shifts in our homeschooling life, and in my life as a parenting-partner. I still have days, or series of moments, that are, shall we say, not great. But, I don't have to dump them. I'm a big girl with lots of resources, and my partner deserves more. In fact, that's my buzzword: More. More trust. More good feelings. More love. More connections. We're doing this as a family, and more of the good stuff is good time for all of us.

More walks in the twilight, please. And more gratitude to help light the way.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

14




The Wild Thing

Terrible gnashing, yes.
Claws, too, just like
he said there would be.
And plenty of eye rolling.

No wonderful rumpus
will fix things now.

But bed without dinner?
It didn't even work in the book.
No, no.

So  you get down there with your little monster,
and push the wolf suit out of his eyes,
wild and full of needs.

She is glad for the company.
He accepts your offering.

And the moment breaks open
like moon rays through
spent thunderheads shaking their empty fists at the wind
blowing a sweet, familiar smell from
your favorite place.

And you remember what is real:
soup, sleep, holding hands, voices being heard

Then, you want to say


because you didn't know you could even do that, 
exactly that thing, 
when it seemed to come not from your own wits or wisdom 
but rather 
from the desperate corner
of the back bedroom of your heart
and maybe something helpful that you read
one time or another
while sailing in and out of weeks
and across a year.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

13

I had in my mind another post I was going to make today, but things changed suddenly, and here's why:

We were invited to a potluck and play day by a new friend. Woody didn't want to go. I did. We've been in our new state for six weeks, and we haven't really gotten out much, so I thought this would be fun for us all if I could only get us there. I moved forward with the plan to go. I made the cookies. I packed the diaper bag. I dressed them both. I gave plenty of time to finish other activities. I listened patiently to the resistance. But still, I moved us ever closer to the car.

That was a misstep. I thought maybe this was one of those times when I could help Woody go to the edge of his comfort zone, and then he'd make a new friend, have a good time, or otherwise look back and be glad that he took a risk. But, in any case, it was a misstep.

And because I did not retract my missteps all the way to the point that we were strapping in, getting ready to go, Woody came up with an emotion-driven, can't-think-of-anything-better, impetuous and dangerous solution to the problem. He locked the keys in the car so we couldn't leave the house. He and I were on the outside, Fox and the (only set of) keys were on the inside. He didn't really realize what this meant until I told him, calmly, and then he did.

There was a flutter of panic, a deft and agile (if I do say so myself) breaking into the house, and then two phone calls to Joshua and the locksmith. Moments later, Fox was out, and the brothers were playing happily together in the backyard.

There's a longer version of the story that I may tell another day, but that's the short version. And I wanted to share a flow chart that, quite serendipitously, I had made last night. I was inspired by a post by Joyce Fetteroll on the Always Learning list, and I organized and paraphrased her words here, and added a couple of things besides. I added the last two boxes today. You'll understand why.


Today was a big learning day for me. I think I'd like some small learning days for the next little while.

And a friend reminded me of this John Holt quote, which seems to apply:

"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid and will use his
brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him."

It pains me to read this, and to know that it's true, but today, the proof is in the pudding. 


P.S. I emailed Joyce and asked her if she was OK with me using this flow chart, the ideas for which I credited to her. She liked it, but said that it might open up the thinking to say something like "not great" instead of wrong. I like that much better, but I don't have Photoshop to change it on this picture. So maybe if you can just imagine when you read wrong that it says not-great, and we'll both try and open up our thinking about this sometimes very tricky parenting moment!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

12

A conversation this afternoon went like this:

Woody: I want to sketch.

Daddy Honey: OK. (Gets out sketch paper and sharpens a 2B pencil, hands both to Woody.)

Woody: What's sketching? How do you sketch?

Daddy Honey: Sketching is when you get the basic idea of a shape down with light, quick lines. You can kind of practice the general shape you want, then do the exact one you want with darker lines afterward.

Woody: (Begins short, light sketching lines. Moves quickly to more bold, straight lines.) I think I am going to do it my way after all.

****

In the next half-hour, Woody works on a robot design. He makes three before he settles on a design he really likes. He starts by sketching, then moves into thick contour lines, then back to sketching again. He made a robot for his brother and cut it out. He made one for his dad and cut it out. He asked me to use his design to make him a bigger robot, as well as a remote control with a speaker so that he could be the robot's voice. He critiqued how well I was copying his drawing, giving me pointers, telling me he liked the inadvertent changes I had made.



There was a post a few days ago on an unschooling group that I'm a part of in which somebody asked for examples of learning that a parent wouldn't have seen if he or she had the "teacher glasses" on. This seemed to be one of those moments.

If I had been approaching this activity as a teacher, I might have guided Woody back toward sketching when he veered into doing it "his way" and provided more instruction in this aspect of drawing, since that appeared to be the "teachable moment." I would have been silently or verbally assessing his "progress" toward some goal (mine or someone else's, but not his).

 He probably would have resisted my intrusion on his activity and my injected judgment of the merit of his work, and he would have declined to invite me to draw with him. He may have even abandoned the activity all together. Or, he may have learned that whether or not drawing is enjoyable is secondary to whether it is skillful.

As it was, we all had a nice time. He learned something new about drawing and experimented with it on his own terms. He kept at a design until it suited his needs. He shared his art and then pretend play with the family. He collaborated with me to do a spin-off project, a copy of his design done by a more experienced drawer. He learned that drawing is very enjoyable in and of itself, but it can also lead to other kinds of fun.

A few years ago, this might have turned out differently. I would have been benevolently didactic, and I would have lost out.

I'm so, so thankful that it's not just kids who are learning all the time.


Saturday, September 10, 2011

11

Woody's foot, Fox's hand.

Woody reluctantly accepted Fox's invitation to a tea party in the garden at the art collective where we went this morning for their Fall Music Festival.

The boys play so differently from each other. Woody makes up elaborate make-believe battle scenarios where the weapons are bad-ass and the villains are numerous. Fox plays family, carrying a baby high on his shoulder, asking me to help when the baby cries. Woody wants to get right to the fighting. Fox wants to explain his character to me. Woody likes victory. Fox likes to be be pretend-healed after being pretend-hurt.

Some of that is personality, and some of that is age. They play together more than they play separately, and they more or less make room for each other's styles and preferences. I feel great relief at this. We thought about not having more than one child. Daddy Honey is one of six, and I am one of three. Our sibling relationships are good now, but they were hard growing up. Was it fair to ask our son, at 3, to adapt to the changes a new baby brought to the family? I started reading about unschooling at the same time that I got pregnant with Fox. I wondered if I'd be able to do it with two. It seemed so intense, even just with one.

When Fox was first learning to talk, there was a moment in the car when he said something funny and I caught Woody's eye in the rearview mirror and we both started laughing. I knew in that moment that Fox was ours, as much his as mine. I don't know exactly how to put sibling relationships into a language of learning, and that seems beside the point anyway.

No, that's not exactly true. Woody is learning how to be close to people. He's learning how to show and accept love. He's learning how to meet others where they are, and how to delight in that. He's learning give and take, with respect and growing understanding. I know there's a while ahead, but I think that's a pretty terrific start.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

10

Sometimes, the rhythm of the day brings us all together late at night. Nobody has anything really pressing or important early the next day. Everybody got plenty of rest the night before, and maybe even a nap or two happened. The mood is high, the kids are game, and the novelty of nighttime calls.

So, we followed to the town square. There wasn't much traffic, but there were plenty of neon signs to read and lit store windows to press against. We saw the moths visiting  the night-blooming flowers. We saw two men in front of the espresso bar pressure cleaning the sidewalk. We found a huge spherical peace sculpture at city hall. We played  ninja on and around the park benches. And we saw a 16-or-so boy waiting for a 16-or-so girl to get off work at the pizza place so that he could walk her home, or to her car, or wherever. He smiled at Fox; she smiled at him; and Daddy Honey Joshua was a little more in love with the world at that moment.



Wednesday, September 7, 2011

9


There is a point--an age, perhaps--at which jumping on the bed makes one's head swim, and worries about potential twisting of knees tempers the joy. Also, at a certain weight (ahem) one considers just exactly how much one's mattress would cost to replace, as well as the chiropractic bill one might incur sleeping on a broken mattress that one couldn't afford to replace. In other words, there's a point at which it isn't fun anymore.

But this is not that point.






Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Day 8



Climbing a willow tree in the park in wet clothes from that fall into the creek, 
happy to be warm and recovered, 
aligned again with what's right in the world.
Three p.m. and the day starts now,
over and over again.
Amen
and thank you.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Day 7, part II

I had this 180/180 idea, thinking it would be all neat and tidy, a little, personal subversion of an arbitrary number that means so much to so many people (myself included, for many, many, many years). But learning isn't neat and tidy. It happens in fits and spurts, ebbs and flows, clouds and laser points. I'm not saying I'm going to abandon the structure of this blog, I'm just trying to tell you what I noticed is all: that if this blog is about learning it is going to have to be an evolving work in progress, and may or may not behave in ways that I can imagine or predict. 

Here's my first (unexpected) part II of a day that seemed a little too rich to share just one moment.



Late in the afternoon, while I was raking in the side yard, Woody found something shiny and extraordinary. And then another. And another. Here in the Ozarks,  the ground is full of glittery rocks, right there just below the leaf litter. We had never seen such a thing. We played pirate treasure and found more and more gems--my guesses were quartz, maybe some soapstone and mica. After about half an hour, Woody was done. It didn't seem like quite the right time to go looking up the proper names of the rocks or how they formed. He had moved on (though I did a little online looking myself, and will probably try to add a rock and mineral identification book to the bookshelf soon). So, maybe more rocks tomorrow, maybe another time, maybe when he's much older and he rediscovers them. Among the many special things about rocks is they are almost always right where you left them, nearly unchanged in human time. Rocks wait.

Day 7, part I


Today was an outside kind of a day. Woody pulled branches off of a mimosa tree growing in between the fences and, holding the tip of one stalk, zipped his fingers downward to snap off all the leaves in one satisfying stroke. Pop-pop-pop-pop-pop-pop. He did this maybe twenty times. I remember doing the same thing with crab grass seed stalks when I was nine and we had to sit in the field and wait for our turns during P.E. class. What a gift that was, the waiting. Time to sit still and be in my own mind in the sunshine in a field with the rye grass.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Day 6

You know what I love? Heather Cushman-Dowdee, the artist behind Hathor the Cow Goddess, says that she did not really base the Hathor super-mom and milk-goddess character on herself, but that she does "have astonishing levels of patience and more love than many mere mortals." I love that phrasing.

That's what I want. Astonishing levels of patience. I work really, really hard at that. I'm not astonished yet, but I am getting better. I'm more patient than I was two years ago. I'm way more patient than I was ten years ago. And right now, in this moment, thinking and writing about my beautiful boys, trying to get down a tiny description of one brief moment in their astonishing huge lives, I feel very patient. I feel like I could take all day to do just that one thing. (Only I'd probably very soon want to be building with ice cubes, or duct-taping foam swords, or drawing pirate treasure maps of the backyard ocean.)

So. On to Day 6's moment.

Woody is still enthralled with the walkie-talkies, but he grew tired of us pretending to make the Morse code sounds. He was ready to try batteries. Off we went in search of 9-volts. Back at home, I made a quick lunch while he took the batteries out of the package to try them in the walkie-talkies. Did I know that when you held the two batteries together, they sparked? AND, they got hot?!? Cool!

Well, that was the perfect time for a quick description of currents and chemical electricity. (And it's good that it was a quick, because fifteen seconds was all he probably wanted, and about exhausted my personal knowledge of electricity, and I had to do a Google search later to be able to fill in the gaps.)



Only one of the two (50-cent) walkie-talkies worked, but the other one we took apart to see what the problem could be. We thought it might have to do with the fact that the speaker is no longer attached to any wires, and we are presently testing adhesive materials to find one that conducts electricity.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Day 5

We had a rough morning with some very Big Reactions to disappointments. Some of that was being five, some of that was being Woody, and some of that was five-year-old Woody working with our big 1,000-mile move a month ago and a two-year-old little brother who does two-year-old things.

After the mood in the house had calmed some, we went to the thrift store looking for games. What a haul! All this, plus an unpictured Fisher Price Rescue Ranger that Fox grabbed, for $11. Woody held Battleship in his lap all the way home and told me what strategy he was going to use to whip Daddy Honey's butt.



The walkie-talkies had stickers on the front with the alphabet written out in Morse code, and I pointed them out to Woody. I told him that people used Morse code to send messages to each other before telephones and radio were invented. He was totally into it. At home, I found this video, and another one that showed a real telegraph machine:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q19_CIDycWg

We sent each other mystery Morse code letters back and forth using voiced "doot-doot-doooots" from behind the couch, and the other person had to figure out which letter by looking at the sticker. This game continued well into the afternoon, at the park, and then back again, only to be replaced by a much-anticipated game of Battleship when Daddy Honey got home.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Day 4

We recently moved 1,000 miles from home, and though my husband Joshua and I have been talking a lot about the big changes that come with a move, so far Woody hasn't really mentioned it. But then, last night, when he and I were laying in bed, after what had been an unusually intense squabble between him and his brother, he told me some of his worries. He thought there were more and different arguments in our family than there used to be; he missed our old grocery co-op, which gave out his favorite samples; and he sometimes had bad dreams about the mountains in the region we now live.

The last two were pretty straight-forward, but the first one got me a little worried. *I* didn't think we'd been having more arguments. In fact, I thought we'd had fewer, and I had just yesterday congratulated myself for doing so well diffusing things and setting up our house to avoid the obvious conflicts. But I remembered reading in Alfie Kohn's Unconditional Parenting that it doesn't matter as much what we perceive the reality of the situation to be, it matters how are kids are perceiving it. That's what they're bringing to us--the feelings and needs associated with what they're perceiving. So, Woody and I talked about stability. I defined it for him as when enough things in your life are the way you like them to be, and you're not so worried about everything suddenly changing. He threw his hands in the air and said, "That's it! I don't have ANY of that in my life!" Then, he walked out happily to go watch the "Upside Down Show."