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What did your USer do today? (Volume 2) - Page 4

post #61 of 88
Thread Starter 

Why is it that I am driven to post here when the girls are sick or we are having a rotten day?


Well, today they were sick, but the day was not rotten.  It was like being given a free day to not do anything.  Tuesday is normally a day of bustling out the door, errands, gymnastics, home late, sleep late.  So, today felt almost like a gift.  DH had no work today.  His gardening work slows down, and we can look forward to more days like this.   It was glorious and sunny and I got a walk that I didn't expect.


Of course, it was extra video day.  Choices ranged from 1970's Peanuts to Shaun the Sheep "We Wish Ewe A Merry Christmas" collection, to "Hound of the Baskervilles" with Jeremy Brett, to "Goblet of Fire" to "Triumph of Life" (PBS series) and finally a couple of old Electric Company episodes.  (Flashback!! Wow!  I was dd1's age for that 1977 episode.)


DD2 was feeling a bit better.  She played several games of Chutes and Ladders and Star Wars (another flashback to 1977!) board games while I went on a walk.  I took over from dh while he went to work on the rental house.  We watched videos and I knitted dd2's first mitten.  I have never made mittens before and am having a lot of fun.  DD kept herself busy with her Kiva planks and animals (everything is "and animals"!)  She also played with my measuring tape, counting the centimeter side and asking for help naming the higher numbers.


DD1 mostly watched TV and slept on the couch.  We read from The Lightening Thief-- the graphic novel version.  We watched the movie last week (a bit lame, I think, mostly because it had so many good actors and so much potential but phlbbbbt!  What a waste of Catherine Keener and Sean Bean.  But we enjoyed it anyway.)  Finished the novel a couple of weeks ago, and I ordered this graphic version and the Sea of Monsters.  We cuddled for much of the day.



And we ate a whole lot of jello.....

post #62 of 88

I'll share yesterday : ) I passed out last night ! 


We watched a movie in the morning (this is our winter rhythm..it's early, cold, and gloomy) while I had my coffee and checked up on emails. DS came over periodically to have me read him a story (so happy he's another bookworm in the family so I just put my things down and said okay sure!) After that there was some free play while I did a few chores -- DD played with her dolls upstairs and downstairs, and DS did a train sticker book (with a little help from momma) 


Got kids dressed (with a fight, so sick of that) and went to Whole Foods for a few things. We are having a family over tomorrow for the wife's birthday dinner and she has mucho food allergies so I was getting crab legs, fresh berries and a can of coconut to make coconut whipped cream. On the way home we stopped at the barn because DD had a lesson and her friend was coming to learn a bit about horses and riding, and ride a pony herself. It wasn't so cold and I was happy to out in the fresh air watching her -- DS was in grumpy mode swithing between playing with the girls nicely and screetching to go home. Both DD and DS got super wet after sort of falling to muddy puddles from the melting snow. 


Note to self: always bring extra clothes. 


DD wanted to play on (after showing off how she rides, showing her friend all the horses and spoiling them with carrots and apples) but DS was miserable so I put him in the car with stickers and trains and gave her a five minute warning while I warmed him up. I actually was enjoying the brisk (but not too brisk) air and nature after being cooped up with a snotty two year old. Oh well.


At home kids sort of watched a Christmas movie and sort of helped me whip up friends birthday present. We made homemade peppermint laundry soap, a coconut and clementine body butter, cranky momma car spray, and a bunch of other things in a basket. DD played with a small (old, found) first aid kid and pretended her dollies needed TLC and emergency treatment. DS played alongside all that and finally we all went to bed together!


Today we are getting the Christmas tree and said friends are coming to dinner. 

post #63 of 88
Thread Starter 

If there could be a Norman Rockwell unschooling day, this would be the day.  As I made pumpkin pie, my 6yo was organizing number tiles from a math game (Primo Calculino) into "flags" and adding up 1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9 etc.  My 8yo was sitting, quietly doing copy work from her Oceanarium book (that little .75 thrift store book I've mentioned before).  This went on for a while.  We decorated the tree, and the girls got along with each other while I strung the lights and decorated the top of the tree.  DD2 did tracing work in her guidebooks while singing out loud a made-up song called "laugh-out-loud school".  Cute!  The girls helped each other read from Oceanarium, motivated by the Electric Company reruns we've been watching so much.


The tree is always great meditative practice of letting go.  I like the lights to be just so, the ornaments just so, and though I am sentimental about ornaments, not every one needs a place on my tree.  So it has been hard these last few years to relinquish some control to the girls, while hanging on to the top of the tree while I can.  Such good parenting practice.


Right now the girls are playing with their paper dolls on the bottom of the tree.

Edited by SweetSilver - 12/10/12 at 6:38pm
post #64 of 88
Thread Starter 

Actually, the Norman Rockwell Unschooling day would have included my girls helping make the pie, making calculations to double the crust recipe while cutting the filling in half, an overview of Vi Hart's discussions of pi and tau, the history of New World foods and how they were incorporated into Old World recipes, the spice trade and its importance in history, the science of eggs and heat, different types of heat.... 


.... but it didn't.

post #65 of 88
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

Actually, the Norman Rockwell Unschooling day would have included my girls helping make the pie, making calculations to double the crust recipe while cutting the filling in half, an overview of Vi Hart's discussions of pi and tau, the history of New World foods and how they were incorporated into Old World recipes, the spice trade and its importance in history, the science of eggs and heat, different types of heat.... 


.... but it didn't.



post #66 of 88

Yesterday we woke up at 10am because my two year old was up all night screetching (two year molars maybe?) and DD insisted on staying in my bed too so no one really got to sleep until well passed bedtime. It would have been delicious to sleep in that late, but DD had her coop at 10:15, and I had plans to meet friends for lunch at 11...ended up keeping her home, made the lunch a half hour late, did a tiny bit if Christmas shopping and came home by 1pm. The alone time was nice (met some other mommas for lunch) but being in the mall during the holidays reminded me how much I love to stay home. Even during the early afternoon it was buzzing (and not in a good way!) 


Came home and we noticed about 10 wild turkeys on our front porch! The rain had let up and it was a damp December day so we kids put on boots, grabbed their telecopes and headed outside. Two hours of play in which we dug in the mud and looked for treasures, talked about how seeds travel, and looked for more signs of winter approaching. We collected pine needles and stones and DD made a fairy bed because we were expecting a tiny bit more of that annoying misty rain that night. It was good fun, and nice to get outdoors after days of rain rain rain. Inside we made instant snow and busted out some polar animals for sensory free play. 


In the evening we went to dinner, and than drove to visit my Grandma (with a chocolate milkshake) at the nursing home she's hanging in post-surgery. It's where my mom works, and it's only about 20 minutes from us (normally she lives 2 hours away) so it's a treat to be able to bring HER treats with the kids. We learned she'll be up here until Christmas (either recooping at the nursing home, or my moms) so we will be doing loads of Great-Grandma trips. 


Also last night I managed to scratch my cornea watering the Christmas tree! How clumsy can I get!

post #67 of 88

Today we had a slow morning. The boys woke up about 9:15 and played minecraft for an hour. We had breakfast and read 4 chapters in Life of Fred. They LOVE this book!!!! Ds7 worked on a page in HWOT, and Ds9 did 3 pages of creative thinking. They both read for about 20 minutes and then Ds7 worked on some spelling words. Now they are back at Minecraft, lol. We are leaving at 1 to go to fencing. Then we will probably have lunch out, and then Ds9 is spending 2 nights at Great Wolf Lodge with a friend. Me and the 2 little boys are going to go thru thier toys tomorrow and clear out and organzie. Then I think we will go to the museum for a couple hours. 

post #68 of 88

Today's been a hard day but turned around. Dh left yesterday for a job. Won't be home for 4 months. This is our normal and always has been, the kids adjust after a couple of days and then there's another adjustment period when Dh is home, but it's been really rough today.


Didn't even get up until 11 today. We stayed in bed all morning and watched Netflix, I was feeling a little melancholy myself and probably set the day up for being the way it has been with my 'tude. The moment I had to get up and go do outside stuff, the kids started fighting. I know it's totally obnoxious of me to say it, but my kids never fight and that's the pure heavenly truth, so this was particularly unusual and hard on this mama to watch. I spent the next 3 hours keeping them apart because they were both determined to pick fights over anything they could.


Took Dd to her ballet class at 4 and Ds had to tag along. It's making him particularly sad because when Dh was home, they would always go do something special during Dd's ballet, now he's stuck tagging along with me and watching ballet. But things picked up there. Ds' friend (another boy stuck tagging along to a sister's class) was there and they had fun digging for worms near the parking lot and set up a playdate for tomorrow.


No one ate a whole lot of lunch and we slept through breakfast, so we stopped for an early dinner at Outback after ballet. The waitress was really sweet and because it was early and slow, had time to stand around and chat with us. She and the kids chatted about horses and turns out the waitress is a rider herself, and talked to us all about UDel's equestrian team, which was really cool.


Got home and they had a long Skype session with their great-grandpa. The wonders of technology! He told them some great stories about South Africa (their favorite topic these days) and the three of them talked about our upcoming trip there, and the kids had some great questions about it, like whether or not South Africa has jungles or not, and what season it will be there when we visit. We got into a discussion about how the earth rotates and how the equator divides the hemispheres, and how seasons differ based on that.


Now they're talking about what they can wear tomorrow that looks alike. That's their new thing - they like to dress alike :) Peace is back in our house. A great way to wind down a day that started no-so-great.

post #69 of 88

We've had a wacky day around here today. First thing after breakfast my daughter ventured into writing with her goose feather quill pen and ink on handmade paper we made together several weeks ago and informed me she was being Thomas Jefferson. Such an activity isn't too wacky in and of itself but the fact she was dressed in her "mermaid tail you can swim in" to quote her while insisting she was dressed exactly like Mr. Jefferson will stick in my memory for a long time to come. ;)


After she had written with her quill for a sufficient amount of time and had scandalized the family looking at the house for sale across the street with her odd choice of attire for checking the mail, it was to the garden tub to float around with her dolls also dressed in mermaid tails while singing odes to the deep blue sea. Food coloring, water beads, seashells, and a bit of essential oil made more authentic this mermaid experience for all senses. 


Following the sensory tub, the tail was hung up to dry while we finished up a book from American Girl Caroline's book series and contemplated our next American Girl DIY project (a set of doll bunk beds) and discussed what materials are necessary for this project. 


Together we cooked a rice pilaf for lunch and are now poking around on the internet on computers next to each other. My daughter is chatting with a friend about all things mermaids and monster trucks while I catch up on emails, Facebook, and forums. 


In a bit we'll be getting ready for an indoor rock climbing class for her and a yoga class for me. 

post #70 of 88
Thread Starter 

I feel compelled to represent the crappy days of unschooling on this thread.  We've had great moments, but our days recently have been overshadowed with fighting and vindictiveness and selfishness. 


Today, dd1 was finding every reason to pick on, insult, and generally make dd2's life miserable.  Then, when I comfort dd2 because dd1 is being mean (and she is being mean!) that just reinforces dd1's idea that I favor her sister.  She cannot bear sharing (to be fair, neither can dd2).  She is fiercely competitive, and not in a good way.  It can be tiring.  She can be so good at so many things, so I just am not understanding this.  I offered, I guess really I demanded, that dd1 accompany me on some errands.  That reset the tone.  I didn't mean it to come across as so punitive, but I guess I felt that way so I guess it did.  Oops.  She and her sister are now getting along, to avoid being separated.  


I can't use that card again, I don't think.  She used to be little enough I could simply haul her bodily out of the house, and we'd end up having a grand time. Those days are over.  She would have gone had I given her a candy reward.


We've been playing WAR with the playing cards over and over (I played 3 rounds of it in a row-- I think that earns me a trophy or something).  Otherwise, we've been cocooning, and I think we are more than a little stir-crazy.  They got science experiment kits for Christmas, and they have the misfortune of not being EXACTLY the same.  And--woe is she-- dd1 wants a candy reward for sharing her flavorings with dd2.  Sigh......  when did I ever give her candy rewards for anything?


Oh, lest I give the impression that dd2 has been an angel, she very much has not.  It is just not the hour-in, hour-out GRIND of grump and vindictiveness that is dd1's modus operandi.  No, she is more like a volcano that suddenly explodes and won't quit, until suddenly it's completely over.  I can't say for sure which I prefer.  


Oh, I guess we're on the subject of unschooling.  I'm so flummoxed I nearly forgot.  It's been kind of slow and measured the last few weeks.  A lot of busyness with paper dolls and board games and card games, some videos, some dinner-making help.  


I'm going to decompress on the couch now and try to finish knitting dd's last mitten-- a bit late, I think all the really cold weather is gone.  Just a feeling. Chances are good that as soon as I sit down I will be asked to read or play a game and I must again say who's request goes first and then we'll fight about it....*


....whoa!  I'm really in a mood now.  Probably I should sign off now.  Regularity starts tomorrow.  I wish I was closer to the gym and had enough money to stick those girls on the team-- tire them out 6 nights out of 7.  Oh, well.  One day a week again will help.  I wish we had a more active 4-H group that didn't meet on Sundays.  The Seahawks are in the playoffs, so meetings have been cancelled again, and if all goes well we won't have a meeting until March!  We haven't met since early November and I am more than a mite disappointed in the whole experience, excepting fair time.  


I think I need to go back and reread my posts to see if I'm repeating myself or not.... sorry if I sound like a broken record.


*didn't even make it to the couch without being pressed for another game of War.  We've been working on it, but I must beware saying "no" to dd2 or she will have a melt down.  

post #71 of 88

The big kids are back at high school and university as of today, so it's just me and the youngest at home. We've made an effort to make it a good day.


Get up


Math - multiplying fractions review

Snow-shovelling (90 minutes! oofff!)

Snowman making

Hot drinks at our favourite café



Violin - just a few minutes of review to get back on track, and to start to get used to the new bigger half-size violin!

Stretching, core strength (as if snow-shovelling wasn't enough)

Putting away the Christmas decorations.



Now I have to run off and teach some violin lessons. She'll be at home with her brother and hopefully they'll get supper started. They're also planning to play Mass Effect 2 together. This evening we'll read aloud from some history and fantasy. Maybe we'll go for a night-ski around the property if we're not too tired.


A good day. We'll have a crappy one soon, too, I'm sure.



post #72 of 88
Originally Posted by SweetSilver View Post

I wish I was closer to the gym and had enough money to stick those girls on the team-- tire them out 6 nights out of 7.  Oh, well.  One day a week again will help. 


Does vigorous physical activity, especially out of the house, help? If so is there no way you can build more of that into your lives without needing a gym or teams? I'm not sure where you live, what your environment is like. Is there any way? Do you have a neighbour dog you could offer to walk five times a week? Could you make a 20-minute-a-day trash-picking-up expedition and weigh your trash, keeping a log of everything you clean up?


Once when my kids were around the age of yours we experimented with ramping up the physical activity: outside for an hour in the morning, and an hour before dinner. Just for a week, to see what kind of difference it made in mood and energy. The kids were stunned by how much happier our household was. And for a while afterwards they really made an effort to get outside more. 


Then, of course, we slipped back in our old habits. But still, the lesson stuck to some degree. When things got bad indoors, they would sometimes remember all by themselves that getting outside and burning off some energy sometimes helps. One more tool in the toolkit.


We also did some odd things indoors: put up a set of gym rings and then a trapeze from the rafters in the living room, and a pull-up bar in a doorway, and gym mats on the floor of the piano room, and a rebounder nearby. Early and late winter can be major challenges for us, activity-wise. This stuff helped.



post #73 of 88
Thread Starter 

Thanks, Miranda.  I think more activity would help.  Things were better--a little-- when we were watching the Olympics on the internet and they were leaping all over the chairs and doing round-offs down the hallway.  They have a lot of energy right before bed.  Not after dinner before bed, but *right* as we are getting ready.


I would love to get a dog!  We have no neighbors that need dogs walked, unfortunately.  Right now finances are extremely tight.  I'll be looking for some solutions along the lies of what you are suggesting.  I would love to have some gym mats to lay out along the hallway.  They have been busy climbing the doorjambs and have made it to the top.  


Another obstacle that is frankly bringing me to tears in frustration is dd1's complete lack of desire to be outside, or to let other people be outside.  She needs *company* and it needs to be *inside*.  Do I have a budding agoraphobe on my hands?  I think this is where a dog would help, and we need one and want one just need to make sure we have the money to care for one.  Also, a trampoline might be brilliant.  We received a slackline for Christmas, and have yet to haul it out in the wet weather.


DH has an easier time getting them outside, and I haven't been working recently.


All told, I can pay more attention to getting them doing stuff like that.  I need to take a page from dh's book, but they've learned I'm "no fun".  Oh well.  I'm feeling pretty pessimistic today......

Edited by SweetSilver - 1/7/13 at 4:10pm
post #74 of 88

SweetSilver, have you ever tried any dance or gymnastics inspired workout DVDs with your girls? I have several DVDs to pop in on icky days or after dark and have found these to help immensely for channeling excess energy appropriately. Silly songs CDs for dancing off the jitters are another evening activity around here. My daughter sounds a lot like your girls with bursts of physical energy right before bed. She's a non-stop ball of energy and if it's not used for good, her name might as well be changed to Unsleepable. 


I love what mooninmama shared about the set-up in her living room. 

post #75 of 88
Thread Starter 

We've done a little of that--more would be better.  I think that's the main thing.  This stuff happens (except for the dog!) but we need to make it a habit, everyday.

post #76 of 88

A little plug for large exercise balls to keep kids happy.  *I* got one for Christmas - but is has been co-opted by the 10 and 14 year old!  They literally throw themselves over it and roll back and forth on it.  This is not the first exercise ball we had had in the house, and every time they are played with in a physically active way until they pop, or something else befalls them.


Hang in there -  winter is not forever.  

post #77 of 88

DD life over the last 6 months or so has been consumed by fashion.  When she is not drawing clothes, she is making them.  Her newest thing is yarn/wool - we are both into it, actually.  DD is teaching herself to knit and crochet - but mostly knit.  I think she is learning to appreciate the scale of projects (as well as the value of handiwork) and to take baby steps. she has made headbands, wash cloths and barbie clothing.  


DD got a Chemistry set over Xmas, she intends to play with that after lunch.


She has expressed some interest in cursive writing in the last few months, I am going to see if she wants to sit with me and work on it the next time she is at a loose end (which is rarely given her knitting experiments….)

post #78 of 88

yesterday dd spent at least 4-5 hours making "hexaflexagons" after seeing the Vi Hart video on khan academy.  i thought, "this is something to report on the what did your USer do today thread!"

then today she went to the site again and commented on the video, and responded to others comments as well. 


she is also learning a dance to a bollywood number so she keeps playing that song and "practicing in her head"


she made up stories with her dolls for a good hour


also read various books and added one to my reading list, as she is wont to do - this time it is The Birchbark House.  I had actually recommended it to her, leading her to believe that I had already read it.  When she learned I hadn't she promptly insisted that I do.   

post #79 of 88
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by rumi View Post

yesterday dd spent at least 4-5 hours making "hexaflexagons" after seeing the Vi Hart video on khan academy.  i thought, "this is something to report on the what did your USer do today thread!"

then today she went to the site again and commented on the video, and responded to others comments as well. 


We love Vi Hart, and we love the hexaflexagons, which came neatly on the heels of our interest in origami.  They were intrigued by the Thanksgiving series recently, and dd1 requested that next year we make a Turduckenailailailail for dinner.  Hmmmmm.... I think I might let that one go a while...... but the green bean vector casserole was intriguing.  I like the fact that my girls are learning multiplication and division, square roots, the Pythagorean theorem, vectors and the Fibonacci series all while they are still learning basic addition and subtraction.  Amazing what one can appreciate before having the kind of "foundation" in mathematics that schools and curriculums think are necessary.


We had a really good day yesterday. We began it by going to open swim at the YMCA.  They have a warm "activity pool" that is only 3 feet deep.  We had never been there before and they gave us a free visit (the cost was only $10, but this was a pleasant surprise.  DD2 had fun right off, but dd1 began stewing because this was not our usual pool.  Our "usual" pool started at 4 feet in depth, was twice as expensive, at least twice as busy and chaotic and loud.  It was not a place I felt comfortable or safe with the girls learning to swim.  Lessons were an expensive waste.  They take twice as long to warm up as the lesson is long.  At open swim, they have time both to get comfortable and then be adventurous.  This pool now is shallow enough, both can always be touching bottom but deep enough to get some good swimming.  


Anyway, dd1 reached the point of tears.  She was cold.  She hated the pool and was never going to learn to swim there.  I talked about the plusses of this pool.  I agreed with much of what she said (there really weren't as many toys here and the floaties weren't as nice).  I gently put my foot down that this was where we were coming to swim.  I left her alone.  I came back.  Finally, I just listened to her.  Since dh was with us and she was in the corner getting cold, I offered to get out and get dressed with her.  


And then *pop* she decided she would start swimming.  Watch what I can do!  And she enthusiastically threw herself into the moment.  I smiled and was reminded of her as a baby and toddler-- taking hours sometimes to warm up and then becoming the life of the party.  This was exactly the same.  She played, practiced her swimming, even asked for lessons here, which I said could come in the summer if she learns XYZ and we take summer off gymnastics again.  She is all for it.


She also balked at visiting the library.  We never choose the right books for her!  Well, I said, she needs to spend time looking on the shelves herself.  Boy, did she ever take that advice.  She saw some books on display, decided she needed to learn juggling (we'll see!), picked out a few books, asked for help finding a snake book.  I helped dd2 locate the *adult* guidebooks (none of the namby-pamby *kids'* field guides for her but she does like them anyway....)  I found some language books they've been requesting (Usbourne's First Thousand Words In... series) plus the librarian conjured up some books on Japanese writing.  She even found a book on hirigana for us, which is the phonetic alphabet taught to children.  It was hidden in the adult section and is a keeper.  DD1 is intrigued with Japanese kanji.  So, we'll see how far this interest takes us.


Ended the day with the video Animal Farm that dh picked out.  Really, dh?  That's a *kids'* movie?  But we watched it and they are watching it again this morning.  They did put a suggestion of victory by the Good Guys at the end.  It's been years since I've read the book, but I'm pretty sure there was no such ending in it.


We've *all* been focussing on keeping the house tidy.  This is as much an effort for me as for them.  I've been doing my morning yoga faithfully for 3 weeks, so hopefully other good habits will follow.  I do not create new habits easily, and old habits die hard.  We need to do this, though.  The girls are asking for help for increasingly involved projects, and I am buried up to my ears in chores.  We have 4H gearing up, starting out with Girl Scouts, working on the garden, preparing for chicks and ducklings in the spring.....


Speaking of chores, this is a monstrously long post and I need to get moving!

post #80 of 88

We have been nothing but sick! First we had the flu than we managed to get a stomach bug so for the entire week one of us has taken a turn puking and/or pooping our brains out. 


Today we woke up and ate a light breakfast and DD/DS did the Ipad together taking turns making robots. We cleaned up the kitchen and DD helped me make tea and simple syrup for at home Passionfruit Lemonades, and when those were done we made spinach dip together and ate it on the couch : ) Than we read some of the map book that highlights the different fairy tale realms (can't remember the name of it) which inspired DD to watch Alice in Wonderland (the new one) so she went upstairs with Daddy to snuggle and watch and DS fell asleep on the couch...she's back now and we may work on a calendar and I went ahead and ordered myself some Chinese because no one is really eating much except ME and I want to pig out! 

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