Thursday, April 28, 2011

Those weird home-schooled kids!

Yes, my boys are becoming those weird home-schooled kids, and it's not just because of the purple and blue hair.

They are free to express themselves any way they want. Lately this involves coloring on themselves with pens and markers. Especially since Nico has decided he wants to be a tattoo artist, and so needs to practice his body art.

Today we went to my husband's company picnic, and the boys had marker all over their faces. Lucas and Nico both have a mustache and goatee drawn on, and Nico drew on a pair of glasses too. When mixed with their blue and purple hair, the effect is....I'm not even sure how to describe it. I think one initial reaction was "Oh, wow!"

During the picnic I mentioned to Timmy that from this day on the boys will forever be known, by his co-workers, as those weird home-schooled kids. He then told me they already had that reputation. Ah well, good to know they are living up to expectations!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

It's only hair!

A couple years ago when Nico asked if he could shave his head bald, I said sure, it's only hair, it will grow back.

So off came it all. The next couple weeks were horrible for him. He was teased and picked on for the first time in his life. People looked at him differently, and treated him differently because he was bald. But, like I said, it did eventually grow back, and I think he learned a lot from the experience. You can't know why it's not right to pick on others, until you have been picked on. Whenever he starts in about the way someone else looks or acts, I remind him of how he felt during that episode of baldness. He didn't like it, not one bit.

Fast forward to the present. The other day he asked if he could color his hair blue. Of course I said yes, after all it's only hair! Since Nico was doing his hair blue, Lucas wanted to color his hair red. They were out of the red hair dye though, so Lucas settled for purple. We applied the color last night, and it looks great! The purple on Lucas looks almost natural. The blue could never be mistaken for natural, but it totally fits with Nico's personality.

We haven't yet left the house, so we haven't encountered other people (friends or strangers). I'm not sure how others are going to react. I do know, good or bad, both boys will likely learn from this experience, just as Nico learned from his past experimentation.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Dating: ALREADY!!

The other day in the car Nico started talking to me about dating. How old do you have to be to start dating? Where do you go and what do you do on a date? If he gives a girl my phone number, will I let him talk when she calls?

He's only seven! Luckily he's just curious, and has quite a while before this evolves into more than just a discussion on the topic. He still thinks kissing is mostly yucky.

I handled this conversation the same way I handle all our conversations, with frank honesty. Most people aren't allowed to date until about 15-17, although some start as early as 13. He can date whenever he wants, but only with supervision until he is much older. Most people just hang out and talk while on a date. They go out and do fun things, and generally just enjoy spending time with each other.

We talked a bit about breaking up, and how it's not always as easy as one would think. Unless both people want to break up, someone is going to get their feelings hurt.

There's no need to lock up your daughters just yet. He doesn't have any particular girl in mind that he wants to start dating. I got the feeling he was just filing this information away for later use.

Monday, April 18, 2011

It was going to happen sooner or later.

I've been waiting for the day my boys look old enough for people to notice they're not in school but *should* be. It finally happened on Friday.

On our way to the Oakland Nature Preserve we stopped at the gas station to pick up some drinks and snacks. The clerk behind the counter asked the question I get asked more than any other question; "Are they twins?" Since I answer this question all the time, my response came out quickly and naturally. "No, actually they're two years apart." "Oh, which one is older?" He inquired. We weren't really running late, and there was no one else in line behind us, so I had no qualms about engaging in polite small talk. I pointed to Nico and said "He's seven, and this one is five", patting Lucas on the top of his head.

Then came the quizzical look, because it's clearly a week day, and they are not in school. "Oh, so they are in elementary school then?" he asked tentatively. "No, actually we home-school" I replied. By this time our transaction was complete, and there were now people coming up behind us, so I have no idea what kind of response he would have had to that.

Generally speaking, I don't pay close attention to the days of the week. Weekdays and weekends kind of blend together when you're not running on a school calendar. But the rest of the world does notice things like children not in school, and for some reason they have no problem questioning complete strangers about their lives. I assume that sooner or later it will become just as natural for me to answer the "Why aren't they in school?" questions, as it is for me to answer the "Are they twins?" questions.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Busy Week

We had a busy week last week, and there is lots to write about.

Let's start with last Sat. night. We headed out to the Dark Sky Festival in the town of Harmony. It started at six, and they had all kinds of tables set up around the square with food vendors, and people selling crafts. There was a Cosmic Kid's Zone set up with a few things for the kids to do. One of the things set up was an Extreme Wall. The boys strapped on harnesses, and were to traverse an obstacle course about ten feet in the air. Lucas got too scared once he was at the top, but Nico made it through the whole course. He felt like he was on Ninja Warrior.

We had some shaved ice and nachos, and Lucas stood in line for a balloon snail. About 8 pm it was starting to get dark enough for the main event. In a field in the middle of the square they had about twenty telescopes set up and aimed at the sky. At this point it was only dark enough to see the moon clearly. We looked through about five telescopes and saw the moon in a whole new way. The boys were fascinated by the details. Unfortunately we couldn't stay longer, but one nice man aimed his telescope at a nearby yellow star, so we could see one thing other than the moon before we left.

Then on Monday we headed to Green Meadows Petting Farm to celebrate a friends birthday. The boys have been before (in fact this was their third time) but still had a fabulous time. We were able to hold baby ducks and chicks; pet and feed goats and sheep; take a pony, train and hay ride. I find it fascinating watching the differences between Nico and Lucas. Nico loves animals! He is still rather timid of them, but he wants to hold and touch them as much as possible. He is always the first one in and last one out. Lucas, on the other hand, is much like me. He likes animals, but mostly from a distance. He will go up and touch them once, but after that he's done and ready to move on.

Tuesday was co-op, and we colored Easter Eggs. We do this every year, but this was the first time doing it with our home-school group. It went pretty smoothly, and the boys had a great time.

Friday was our monthly field trip to the Oakland Nature Preserve. We haven't been able to make it the last couple months, and the boys were dying to go back, so I was determined to be there. Of course they had a fabulous time. Our day started out in the classroom where Mr. Clay talked about where we are. Where we are in the universe, galaxy, solar system, planet, country, state, county, city, community. I'm always very impressed with how patient Mr. Clay is. He lets the children ask as many questions as they want, no matter how far off topic they wander. After about an hour in the classroom, we took a walk down to the turtle pen, where the kids were able to get in, pick up and hold the turtles. (Of course this was Nico's favorite part.)

After that we walked down the boardwalk to Lake Apopka to see the alligators. Mr. Clay said the last three days he walked down there he was able to see bull gators fighting because it's mating season. We saw two gators, but they didn't do any fighting while we were there. Along the way Mr. Clay pointed out some of the edible plants growing in the preserve, and let the kids try them. One was a pepper bush, and the others were black berries and raspberries. On the walk back, we stopped by the climbing tree so the kids could climb and explore a bit on their own. At one point the trail was covered by tiny black and orange grasshoppers. All the kids stopped to try and catch some.

We ended the trip back in the classroom with a quick presentation on the history of Florida. Next month Mr. Clay has lined up some archeologists to come speak to the class, and said they had all kinds of activities planned (like making arrow heads).

That's a trip we will not miss!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Writing Club

Nico decided he wanted to start a writing club and invited me to join. He set up a place in his bedroom with paper/pencils/crayons etc.. and chairs for each of us.

Our first meeting, was just Nico and I. He didn't have any clear idea of what he wanted to do, so we just sat and drew pictures together. Nico drew a house with a chimney first. His second picture was a jungle scene. I wrote out I Love You in bubble letters, and surrounded it with hearts, stars and streamers for my first picture. My second picture I drew a portrait of Nico. He didn't think it looked too much like him, but since I have always struggled with faces I think it came out well.

Today we had our second meeting. This time Lucas joined us. I suggested that we try and create a story together, but this idea was rejected by both the boys. Nico wanted to try and create a t.v. show, so we tossed around a couple ideas. Lucas finally decided on a show about dragons, that are killed by people throwing toothbrushes. Nico wanted to make his show about a super hero who saves people from bank robbers. I suggested they come up with a mutual story, that they could act out together, but they each wanted their own story, and wanted to draw it like a cartoon, rather than act it out themselves.

Since Lucas can only draw stick figures, he called his story Stick World. He drew three pictures, and then I took a video of him telling his story, while showing the pictures (See video above). Nico didn't like that format, and he wanted his video to be more like a cartoon. He only drew four pictures, and although I can put them together in video format, I can't figure out how to add sound to it, so Nico's video is still incomplete. Here is his first picture.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Mama's Boys

What is a Mama's Boy exactly? Is it simply a boy/man who loves and respects his mother? Is it a boy/man who is partly or completely dependent on his mother, overly attached some would say? Are my boys Mama's Boys?

My boys certainly are not overly attached or dependent on me. They've proven this by being capable of spending months away, and being perfectly happy. They don't cling to me in public, nor do they bat an eye when going with family or friends. In fact, they are some of the most independent kids I know.

Yet, some still refer to them as Mama's Boys because they show a lot of love and respect towards me. But aren't all relationships built on love and respect? Isn't that what we want most from those around us?

In addition to all the normal times we say I love you (in the morning, before parting, before bed) at random times during the day the boys will say "I love you, Mommy!" and come over to give me hugs and kisses. It's just something we do, all the time. We use the phrase I love you to express all kinds of things; such as agreement and disagreement, pleasure and disgust, laughter and anger. I make sure that my boys know, no matter what else is going on, I always love them. So they do the same.

Will my Mama's Boys grow up to be good boyfriends/husbands some day. I hope so. I certainly don't plan on interfering with their relationships, but I can see some habits developing in them now, that will make some girl really love them later. Take Lucas for instance. Whenever I leave the house with out him (for school or work) after giving him a hug and kiss at the door, he used to say "Meet me at the window" and run off to his room. Since his bedroom window faces the parking lot, I would have to walk over to the window and blow him more hugs and kisses before getting into my car. If I became distracted between the door and my car, and somehow forgot to meet him at the window, a 20 min meltdown would ensue. This ritual was very important to him.

Luckily, he no longer wants to meet me at the window. Instead, after giving him a hug and kiss goodbye, he rushes to find his shoes and puts them on. Then he walks me to my car, and opens the door for me, before one more hug and kiss.

I firmly believe that how boys treat their mother, will translate over into how they treat their mates. If this is true, my boys are going to make some little girls very happy some day.