Posts Tagged ‘Socialization’


We’ve been kind of busy here in the ‘Hood lately, doing some really awesome stuff.

I somewhat reluctantly accompanied my friend to see her favorite band, Kasabian, when they came to D.C. I was reluctant only because I was so very unfamiliar with their music. What little I’d heard was a bit too . . . ethereal for my taste. But I love this friend dearly, and no evening out with her is ever bad, so of course I was on board.

Kasabian

Serge, just being Serge.

THEY WERE FUGGING AMAZING.

We had a really, really good time, and not just because the show was fabulous and my friend was reduced to little-girl squeals of delight and she got to meet members of the band. No, the best part for me is what I always experience when this friend and I get together: a return to myself.

As mothers, our world often becomes our children. That is as it should be, as far as I’m concerned, (though that’s not a universally-held belief). I love being a mother almost as much as I love my children themselves, and I would not change my status as full-time mom unless I had no other choice.

But the fact remains that we are not only mothers: we are still women; still citizens; still wives and volunteers and professionals and writers and neighbors and learners and many, many other things as well. It is easy to get so wrapped up in our children’s lives and caretaking that we — I forget about the rest of me. Worse, I often remember the real me but relegate her to lowest woman on the totem pole.

Going to these clubs and concerts with my friend makes me not just honor those parts of me that are so often shunted aside to make way for parenting; it makes me feel as though all my parts are whole again. (more…)

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I can’t believe summer is almost over already. And what have we done with our time?

Aengus and his cousin, protecting the campsite.


Aengus experimented with Mentos and Diet Coke; played Portal 2, Geometry Wars, Minecraft, GMod, and the new Nazi Zombies map; and got into watching Dr. Who, My Wife and Kids, George Lopez, Top Shot, and the BBC’s Sherlock. He got a few swimming lessons from his dad, had many sleepovers, jumped on our new (to us) trampoline, and put some time in on the treadmill. He went camping with his dad, his uncle, and his cousin. He helped Jason fix our lawnmower and build the playing field for his Lego team’s robot. Oh yeah, and he joined a FIRST Lego League team.

Mark (sound engineer), Garrett, Grant, and Noah intently listening to their recording.

Noah spent some time with his friends on the XBox with Portal 2, Catherine, and several other games. He also got in on the lawnmower lesson, which morphed into a car maintenance lesson. He and I continued working on learning Japanese, plus he started reviewing pre-algebra concepts and US history in the run-up to this fall’s studies. But much of his summer was spent at his friends’ house, practicing for several gigs . . . including the local Battle of the Bands, which they won! The hands-down highlight of his summer was their prize: six solid hours in a REALLY nice recording studio with a professional sound engineer. He was positively beaming the whole time. ❤

Shelby and Noah gettin’ their Amish on at Roots.

Together, we visited my family in Pennsylvania, which we always love. Shelby came with us again, and we always love that, too. We went to Roots, a big-ass farmers market, went swimming at their enormous community center, walked their gigantic mall, and checked out That Fish Place, a huge pet store.

Why is everything in PA so big?!?

The highlight of the week (for Noah and Shelby, and I think for Aengus, but definitely for me) was seeing the final Harry Potter movie. We were able to see it in the theater where Noah and I watched the very first movie on opening night. This time, though, they sold butterbeer slushies. With alcohol.

Shelby, Noah, Aengus, and myself at the Ephrata Main Theater for Harry Potter.
Jason and Aengus at the handgun range.

We recently went shooting in West Virginia, which was beautiful but WAY the fuck out there. I would die of isolation in West Virginia, but it might be nice to stay for a few days in a cabin in the woods.

Noah being goofy, as usual.

Going forward, I’m making a concerted effort to blog with real regularity. I HAVE to, for my own sake (I forget everything!) as much as for the boys (who might need such records one day) and their grandparents (who miss the closeness they had with the boys when we lived nearby).

We’ve spent the last few weeks establishing the new routine we need to accomplish all of our goals. Noah’s goals include finishing my requirements for graduation, furthering his Japanese studies, taking some web design classes, getting a job, getting a drivers license, and becoming truly capable of independence.

Aengus is working diligently toward reading independence, of course, because he desperately wants a laptop all his own. We are not above bribery. He will also continue working on his math skills, learn some world history, do lots of science experiments, and participate in his FIRST Lego League team. Oh, and he wants to learn to cook, as well.

None of which is all that ambitious for most families these days, of course. But we have been savoring the quiet life for a long time now; I’m not sure I’ll be able to sustain the energy required to do it all for nine months. Wish us luck!


I’ve not been blogging for a while — obviously. I attended the VAHomeschoolers Conference last week, though, and feel inspired to get my act together again. “Scared straight” would be another way to phrase it.

While I’ve been busy being negligent, the kids have continued with their lives, learning as they live and play. A few particularly educational events from the past six months stand out in my memory, though:

VGL'11
Having so much fun they even posed for a picture.

Jason and I surprised the kids with box seats at a Video Games Live concert. It. Was.

Fabulous!

Amazing!

Stupendous!

Brilliant!

Astounding!

And I’m not all that into gaming myself. Noah said he’d love to go again, and that’s high praise from him. I thought it was a fabulous way to introduce young people to the symphony orchestra. {music appreciation}

 

He CAN get up at 9am!

Noah recently took a two month Saturday Morning Physics class at the local college. I’m not sure how much he actually got out of the class; it was held at 9am, so he often used planetarium time for a nap. I think the material was a bit over his head as well. Still, he was exposed to a college-like situation, which is something.

 

Noah’s Japanese studies are going well for him, but I have completely let the ball drop there. He wanted me to teach him, but since I don’t already know Japanese I said we could learn together. Not only do I lack the consistency needed to teach him the he’d like, I also don’t have a curriculum that lays it out, lesson by lesson for him. The books we’ve bought are for a person who wants to visit Japan — which we do, but we want to actually learn the language, not just memorize key sentences.

I recently discovered a great app for my iPad, however, so my own studies are back on track. We’re not yet back to doing lessons together, though, which is what I’m striving for.

Also, Noah’s ability with computers and electronics surprises me. He’s dismantled our XBox and controllers and apparently does amazing things wih his computer. He’s asked to take a computer course at the Community College this summer, which I’m very excited for him to experience.

 

Studio time was bliss.

Music, of course, remains Noah’s primary activity, and all is going well. He and his band, ((The Evidence Of)), have been practicing a lot lately in preparation for their big gig later this month. Stay tuned. =D

 

 

Aengus has been busy discovering various YouTube personalities, reviewers, and comics. Though he’s discovered computers rather later than his brother, Aengus is finally learning to navigate his way through the internet. Only a little, though, as he can’t yet read what he’s clicking on.

And speaking of reading . . . Aengus’s frustration with being unable to read has reached an all-time high. I have absolute faith in unschoolers’ insistence that reading comes easily when children are not pushed. But Aengus views his inability to read when so many younger people can has him feeling really, really stupid. And I can’t just sit back and wait anymore.

So, we’ve instituted Operation: Reading. He and I are now working our way through Explode the Code, a little every day, until he feels comfortable with reading on his own. We’ve just started book four, by the end of which I suspect I can hand him some Garfield and Calvin and Hobbes books. Come to think of it, I’ll give him Garfield tonight!

Even better than now making a deliberate effort to learn how to read, Aengus has finally —finally!– started enjoying being read to. This child never liked storytime or lullabyes — only one of the ways in which he is unusual. =P I don’t know what finally clicked in his head, but he requested that I read Harry Potter to him.

~pause for happy dance~

While reading Harry, I was astounded once again by all the learning along the way: Latin, mythology, vocabulary, history, interpersonal relationships, politics, ethics, . . . . I really wish I’d been blogging then, because we paused all the time for mini lessons.

We just finished the series the other day (I was once again crying my eyes out), and he was concerned about what we’d read next. He now has a huge list of books he wants me to read to him! Noah requested A Series of Unfortunate Events, so that’s where we’ll start, then Artemis Fowl and The Hunger Games. Nothing beats Harry, though. ❤

Oh, and we adopted a puppy back in January and named him ‘Buster (as in Myth). This was him at 3  and 4.5 months old:

Just a wee lit’le pup!
Buster, Bear, and Vinnie

He is now, at six months old, nearly a hundred pounds! (pics coming soon)

Aengus, in particular, has been helping with the training and raising of ‘Buster. He and Jason love watching The Dog Whisperer together and implementing Cesar’s methods. {biology, life skills, leadership}

We scored a trampoline from Freecycle, and it’s been a big hit with both boys and their friends. {P.E., socialization} If  it continues to need repairs, we can add sewing to that list of  learning opportunities, LOL. And the debate about whether we actually needed the net became a lesson about safety. 😉

Just yesterday, Aengus and I started reading about the Egyptians. {world history} He says he wants to do some of the activities from Story of the World (which I LOVE), so I’m excited for us to start that. For now, though, we’re just reading a bit and discussing what we’ve read.

And that right there, folks, is the key to successfully home educating your children.

Aengus spent a lot of time there for a while watching Netflix, especially That 70’s Show, Mythbusters, Doctor Who and Torchwood. {modern U.S. history, science, critical thinking} The complexity of the ongoing and crossover plots is what really excited him about Doctorr Who and Torchwood, I think.

That, and who doesn’t want a Tardis?


This weekend was our homeschooling group’s Educational Freedom Party — what other groups refer to as their Not-Back-To-School picnics, parties, etc.  I hate that this lifestyle gets defined in relation to school, when school is so very far from what we do. So I flat-out refuse to call it a “Not-Back-To-School” anything. It’s the celebration of what we have — freedom to educate our own children however we choose to — not of what we are giving up, avoiding, or rejecting.

Anyway, our party was this weekend. We kind of got rained out; there were many families who bailed because the weather was iffy. But we forged ahead, partly because I’d already cleaned the house (dammit) and partly because any time the schedule gets changed all hell breaks loose. We had a good time even with the smaller crowd, and I really enjoyed chatting with new people and people I don’t get to see very often.

The teens seemed to have a good time playing their instruments (music) together (socialization). When it wound down to just Noah and one other teen, they played Call of Duty (dynamic thinking, cooperative problem solving) together for a while. Young men bond so easily over shooting and stabbing, don’t they?

Note to self: we need to encourage more teen girls to join Natural learners!

Aengus stayed inside for a long time playing video games (dynamic thinking, cooperative problem solving) with Tori and Ash (socialization). When he came out later in the evening, though, he really hit it off with yet another girl, a ten-year-old named Madison. Together, they chatted and played for several hours — and got a good workout when they discovered the treadmill.

The rain came full-force just when we were about to light the bonfire, which is always my favorite part of our parties. I guess that means we’ll just have to have another party this fall! Hot dogs and hot chocolate and teens with guitars. Doesn’t that sound like the perfect autumn party? ❤

Noah was in a talkative mood this weekend, too, which is rare. We talked a lot about religion, society, politics, and particularly other cultures. He and I went to the Harrisonburg International Festival for a bit, too, where he got to play in a drum circle. He was slow to join in but thoroughly enjoyed it when he did.

Both boys have asked for me to push them to work on some academics, so we’re starting with math and foreign languages today (and for Aengus, reading). I’m not happy about this; I don’t like telling people what to do any more than I like being told what to do. But they want me to be the bitch, so here goes. If it affects our relationships, though, we’ll have to change course. I have always —always– said that I don’t keep the kids home so that we can fight. If our days become constant battles, they can either go to school or take on the responsibility of pushing themselves. Learning information is easy; repairing relationships is not.

And now it’s time to wake Noah. Getting him up before 3pm is step one of the new whip-cracking policy around here. Wish me luck.

Party, Party, Party!

Posted: September 24, 2010 in Aengus, Noah, Parenting
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We’ve had a relatively uneventful week around here.

Last weekend was all about sleepovers and parties: I went to a baby shower — I haven’t been to one of those in ages! My friend found out on her fortieth birthday that the birth control she and her husband had used all through their marriage failed. Her kids are eleven and thirteen; she was starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Part of me is jealous of her: it would be nice to have a baby now, now that I know a bit more of what I’m doing. But I also know the reality of parenting; as easy as Aengus was, I still don’t think I’s want to go through all that again. Although, I loved being pregnant and would totally do that part of it again in a heartbeat; I’ve even tried over the years to talk Jason into me being a surrogate. That’s when his Catholic upbringing reared its ugly head.

I’m happy for my friend. She’s an amazingly kind and gentle person, and her kids are lucky to have her. All three of them. But I’m glad it’s her and not me.

Also last weekend, Noah got to spend time with his girlfriend for her seventeenth birthday. They went to dinner, saw a magician, raised hell at Books-A-Million, and saw Inception. Then Noah went to his buddy’s house to play video games, eat junk food, and shoot Mountain Dew with the guys two nights in a row (double sleepovers FTW).

Aengus went to a laser tag party for a new friend one night, then slept over after his bff’s birthday party the next night. And on his way home from James’s house, he convinced me to stop by WallyWorld . . . where he bought a gun. (>.<) It’s just a BB gun, and he already has two rifles, but this one is different somehow. It’s a handgun, and he just sits around and looks at it. Caresses it. Times himself taking it apart and putting it back together. I think he loves it the same way Noah loves his guitars.

I am in distress.

I can’t deny that he is who he is and has interests of his own, completely outside of my influence. And we’ve known since he was six months old and wielded anything he could like a sword that he has an unusual interest in weapons. I also know that my kids have a particular sensitivity to forbidden-fruit syndrome, so I believe in my head that I need to just keep my mouth shut (other than stressing safety) and let him be who he is.

But this obsession with guns is way beyond my comfort level. Those who knew me when Noah was young know how adamantly opposed to violence in any form I was. Noah wasn’t even allowed to shape his fingers into pretend guns or play “fighting” with his friends. I’ve become a very different person, and Aengus has had a different childhood than Noah had. He plays the violent video games and runs around “shooting” his friends. My consolation has been that his enjoyment of violence never extended into real life. In real life, he flips out when I kill a bug and is disturbed by the plight of animals at the hands of humans.

But he really, really likes guns. I am disturbed, but I can’t find any logical reason for this to bother me. It’s just my instinctive, knee-jerk reaction. And that’s not a good place to parent from, so I’m biting my tongue.

But if he signs up for sniper school, I’ll put my foot down.


Our family has felt . . . disjointed for quite some time now. With Noah in the throes of puberty (and my instinctive reaction to negativity being withdrawal), it’s felt like he mentally moved out already. I’m not ready for that!!! Aengus has never, by nature, been as open and connected with me as Noah always used to be. Add the Xbox and we’ve felt separate for a very long time now.

But on Friday, Aengus and I had a day away from home, just the two of us. We ate at IHOP (computation: percents, life skills), visited friends (socialization), walked through a few malls (economics), and talkedtalkedtalked (about aliens, gods, and ghosts: cultural mythology, about illnesses: P.E., and about politics). He never opens up to me the way Noah used to, but it was still nice to connect with him a little bit. We also bought the next book in the Magic Tree House series, by his request (reading).

Noah was in a good mood when we came home and wanted to watch Casablanca with me. When Noah requests that I do something with him — anything at all — I drop my own plans and do it. He and I used to be extraordinarily close; and while I know that shouldn’t last forever, I do miss it. So we watched Casablanca, and he loved it. I loved watching it with him.

Fridays are Jason’s short days at work, so after dinner (together!), we decided to watch a movie — together. We don’t often do that anymore, since we each have our own interests and are often just doing our own thing. But we decided it was time Aengus started his Pop Culture Tour and Noah returned to his. And the movie to reboot the tour was . . . Conan the Destroyer.

Can someone please tell me why this movie was made?!

Saturday is a blur, since I spent it spring cleaning my kitchen. We have mice, and I’d had it with them. I took everything out of my cabinets and drawers, washed it all, and cleaned the cabinets. We set traps, which I am normally opposed to; I prefer to let the natural food chain take care of things. That’s why you’ll find spiders in my house. But no snakes have moved in and our cats are useless as mousers. So the traps ended up catching nine mice. I haven’t seen any, erm, evidence of mice since then.

On Sunday, Noah went to his bandmates’ house for a sleepover/practice session (music, socialization).

Good friends and a guitar.

Their family is wonderful and a really good influence on him. While he was away, Aengus had his bff over for a sleepover. They actually managed to sleep a little this time, after spending the evening running around outside (with guns, of course; P.E.), building lots of Bionicles (engineering), playing chess (strategic thinking), and of course playing video games (cooperative problem solving, dynamic thinking).

Monday evening, after Aengus’s friend left, he crashed while I ran out to get Noah back. We had our own little one-on-one time at the mall, checking out books and posters and DVDs and talking, talking, talking. It was wonderful to talk about stuff with him, real stuff like the “Ground Zero Mosque” and financial responsibility and the importance of interpersonal skills and whether it’s group psychology or biology that determines what we find attractive and why physical attributes are so prized when it’s intelligence that really matters.

I absolutely loved it.


Aengus slept over last night at his good buddy’s house. He took his new iPod (he’s already had the talk about responsibility and that we won’t replace it if he loses or breaks it, blahblahblah) and TWENTY-SEVEN motherfucking Bionicle creations.

I know it was TWENTY-SEVEN motherfucking guys because he set them all up in our living room, organized them into teams, tallied them, and counted his tallies. That’s computation, number sense, and the beginnings of multiplication, people. Add in all the building of those guys and you’ve got physical science and engineering.

The only traditional sleepover item he packed was his toothbrush — although I had to remind him, and I was under no delusions that he’d use it. He crashed around six this evening after staying up most of the night. 😀 I’ll nag him about his teeth in the morning.

Me? Yesterday, I peeled peaches. And peeled peaches. Then, when my ADD couldn’t take it anymore, I facebooked for a bit . . . then peeled more fucking peaches.

Almost done with one bowlful (and the compost bucket is already overflowing)

I only got about halfway through the ones I’d picked that morning, so I put those in the freezer to later be turned into wine (when my bff’s daughter gets out of the hospital, I’ma have mah girls over to maykah da wahn). I’ll be peeling the other half for jelly tomorrow. Focus, Adesa. Focus.

After Shelby left last night, Noah spent some time with his other girl, a little Fender acoustic number (music), then played some Call of Duty (strategic, cooperative, and dynamic thinking; history) with his friend Nick. No idea how late he was up, but he didn’t get up today until after four. I’ve only spotted him occasionally tonight; he’s spending today in his room, I guess.

I hate when he has days like this. He’s already cutting those apron strings (not that I’ve ever worn one), and it breaks my heart. But to go an entire day without spending any time with me . . . it feels like I’m in mourning.

Aengus’s friend’s family brought him home this afternoon, and while the boys played outside (P.E., imaginative thinking, leadership skills), his friend’s sister and mother watched Across the Universe with me. I’ve seen it before, and I like it very much. Beatles music, with a plot — what’s not to like? I got a bit weepy, though, when they sang “Let It Be.” My dad loves the Beatles (and, I think, fancied himself as one of them in another life). I grew up listening to them and know most of their songs by heart.

My dad was just like most dads in the 70s: worked all day, came home in time to discipline the kids after they’d gotten in trouble with mom during the day, fixed stuff around the house, and put the kids to bed. When we did get to see him relax and hang out with us, though, he was always singing. He’s the reason people’s conversations always remind me of song lyrics and why I always break into song myself — apologies to the world for that.

Hearing them sing “Let It Be” in the movie got me to thinking first about my fantastic dad . . . and then about Noah, and what kind of father he’ll be. Although I sing A LOT to myself and there’s always music around here, I really never sang to him the way my dad did to me.

My one piece of advice to Noah when he enters fatherhood will be: sing to your kids. And don’t ever stop, even when they get bigger. Especially when they get bigger.