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#31 of 50 Old 02-21-2014, 02:17 PM
 
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For example, my ds knew he needed to be more active, and had expressed a desire to get involved in martial arts ("but not the fighting kind"). I discovered a lovely aikido dojo, so I called and arranged for him to join an age-appropriate beginner class. When it came time to go he balked. He was maybe 11 at the time, so he had all sorts of articulate and well-reasoned arguments why he shouldn't go. I knew it was mostly that he was anxious about the expectations and the new people and all the unknowns, and that he was busy playing games on the computer. I told him I understood why this felt hard, and no one was going to push him to participate or interact with anyone, he was welcome to simply watch, but I was going to take him since the initial impetus had come from him, I had put effort and energy into organizing it, and the sensei was expecting him. He cried the whole way there. At age eleven. You would have thought I was preparing to dump him at military school. 

 

Aikido ended up being something he really enjoyed. So ... Yeah. "Child-led" to me doesn't necessarily mean letting kids do what they say they want at any given moment. Sometimes it means the parent has to keep the bigger picture in mind and provide the expectations necessary to overcome in-the-moment obstacles. And, of course, also talking to your child about those obstacles and how they present themselves and empathizing, and explaining why you insisted yesterday, and pointing out how it turned out well, and talking about what you both learned from the experience. Still, it's a tough call to make sometimes, and at the time it doesn't make you feel all warm and fuzzy like "I'm being such a caring and supportive parent." But if you're being caring in the sense of exposing them to things that you know they'll enjoy and which they've expressed interest in doing, and are empathically helping them learn from the bigger picture, I think you can rest easy.

 

Miranda

Thank you for this post.  My son is he same way, never wants to do any classes, group activity, even in our homeschool group with close friends.  He will participate in free play with friends, but nothing structured.  I would love my son to do something physical.  We switched gyms this year for gymnastics for our daughter and my son said he would try it, but when the first day came he would not join in.  I sat in the gym with him so we could hear what was going on, the second he still did not want to participate..there were tears. so my toddler joined the toddler class instead, she loves it.   At some point I really want him to give something an actual try!   I don't want to push him too much at 7.5yrs, we'll see when he is ready I guess.

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#32 of 50 Old 02-21-2014, 06:44 PM
 
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Right now dd7 is sitting and reading and working through her Girl Scout Daisy journey book from last year.  She's reading and doing the activities in it.  DD9 is watching Gilligan's Island (again) and reading through the Life of Fred books I borrowed from the library.  I wasn't sure if they would like them or not, but they seem to.  Both have been steadily reading through different levels on their own.  It's wonderful to see them getting enjoyment out of reading for themselves (we did read 2 chapters of How to Speak Dragonese and 2 stories from an American Tall Tales compilation so we are not done with storytime, not by a long shot.)

 

It made me wonder what was in there, and what they were gleaning from it and whether it really mattered if I knew.  Sometimes asking them just intrudes, and I got to thinking how we as a society have gotten used to learning being so damned PUBLIC.  That what they are learning or not learning is anybody's business, at least in such a thorough way that school and even homeschooling parents intrude into it because it MATTERS SO MUCH.

 

I'm not sure it really matters so much.  I do love to know what they are looking at and learning.  It's so much fun to share.  But the insistence that such things are to be necessarily shared with an adult seems a little foreign to me now.  

 

Maybe I'm just seeing something in the moment and making a molehill into a mountain.  Wouldn't be the first time.  But this is a new thought for me.  I'm sure I'll read through some of LOF, to see what they are reading and because I can always learn something myself.  I'm not too proud to think I can't learn something from a book aimed at kindergarteners.  I do LIKE to know what they are learning.  I can see that at some point I might possibly NEED to know something of what they are learning, which I'll concede because I don't like knowingly making blanket statements when I haven't really examined it so closely.  But so often?  Not hardly.

 

Anyone else notice this?

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#33 of 50 Old 02-22-2014, 01:00 AM
 
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I have noticed this. It is one reason (perhaps THE reason) my dd12 chose a "box curriculum" last year - she wanted her learning, her work, to be her business and hers alone. She is an intensely private personality in general so it makes sense.
I'm unpredictable personally; some things I can hardly jump up fast enough to share the amazing thing I just learned while others i might close the book if someone wanders over to look over my shoulder! No rhyme or reason to it at all.That I've thought of yet, anyway.
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#34 of 50 Old 02-22-2014, 08:50 AM
 
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Except this I did want to say:  I've seen this happen before with parents who like to be child-led, in theory.  They work their tails off following up on interests and are burned out.  You can dial it back.  Not every interest has to be followed up.  And even if you do follow up, it can be something simple like a book from the library.  Especially at this age when deep interests are less common, children are naturally more fickle.

@kwoodchuck Yes. I remember trying to spend time getting projects ready for ds when he was young... He really just wanted me to be interacting with him constantly, not separating myself to get something prepared. The times I did get something like a craft or science project set up, he'd just blow through it in 3 minutes.

 

Many times with young kids, they ask questions or want to know about something, but they don't really want to know all the details about it yet. You can give them basic answers to questions and see if they ask more questions after that. That lets you know how much depth they are ready for with any given subject.

 

And, like Miranda, there have been times when I've nudged ds into going someplace or trying something new. I'd avoid things that cost much money so that I wasn't invested in our getting our money's worth but I'd tell him we were just going to go and if he didn't like it after a short while we would come home. Usually he would be fine once we got there. I did try to pick out things he'd like. And leaving the house for a scheduled event got easier as he got older.


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#35 of 50 Old 02-22-2014, 09:23 AM
 
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I feel like (12 yo) ds has been doing very little lately... He spends his days on the computer or tablet and we get together with a group of kids a couple of times a month. We haven't been taking our daily walks because of the unusually wintery winter but today is nice so we have one planned. Dh has been showing ds old episodes of Cosmos before the new one comes out. I've been focusing on my work since I switched from working for someone last year to doing the same thing as a small independent business out of my home. 

 

But I know ds has been developing his skills at that snail's pace of his (late reader, even later writer.) He stopped asking me to type every little thing for him, the way he used to a couple of years ago. He uses voice recognition when he is using a tablet. That seems to be helping his speech since it is forcing him to enunciate more clearly. He still has trouble with a couple sounds. He has also been demonstrating more "math facts" type of knowledge. I've always felt his math concepts were strong but his arithmetic was weak. I remember what I was like at age 12 and I know he is doing comparably with math as I was. He's such a bright kid but so resistant to any external agenda. I flip flop between thinking he is brilliant and thinking he is developmentally delayed. But I mostly just watch and reassure myself that he is demonstrating more skills than last year. I reassure dh that a 12 yo doesn't need to be developing job skills yet. And I wonder what lies on the other side of puberty, whether ds will become a little less risk averse, something he comes by honestly via dh and me but is a little worse due to perfectionism. 


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#36 of 50 Old 02-22-2014, 10:23 AM
 
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Thanks for the input on child-led learning everyone! It was helpful to get some perspective. Sometimes I am just maybe too nitty-gritty-detailed-inthemoment with this stuff... and it feels terrible to be dragging a kid somewhere kicking and screaming! I probably should have done that in this case though...oh well, I am life learning! 

 

As for the issue of kids being private, we have one of those here too. She often says things like "don't look at me, don't listen to me" (as she sings to herself), etc. She went to the neighbors yesterday and wouldn't tell me what they did. I really didn't like that. I emailed the neighbor to see what they did. Of course they just played with the animal toys over there. But I think my DD just likes to feel like she's got something of her own going on, that she doesn't have to share with us. But, of course it's a bit nerve-wracking in our world where we have to be constantly on guard about how other adults and kids are treating our kid, if you KWIM. And it kinda makes me sad.

 

Speaking of sad, I'd say we're in the "End of Feb. blahs" around here...too stir-crazy, everyone is getting on everyone else's nerves, etc. We are trying to clear out and organize stuff/toys/clothes, and deal with the temporary mess that brings...always a sore spot between me and DH. No fun! :(

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#37 of 50 Old 02-22-2014, 10:53 AM
 
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Thanks for the input on child-led learning everyone! It was helpful to get some perspective. Sometimes I am just maybe too nitty-gritty-detailed-inthemoment with this stuff... and it feels terrible to be dragging a kid somewhere kicking and screaming! I probably should have done that in this case though...oh well, I am life learning! 

 

Well, maybe not kicking and screaming, lol. If ds was digging his heels in, I wouldn't try too hard. But if I could just reassure him that he could come home and get back to doing what he was doing and he'd become more willing, I'd do that. And sometimes a kid just needs more of a heads up about going somewhere, a chance to get to a good stopping point in their activity... Older kids understand better about timed/scheduled activities so it will get better.


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#38 of 50 Old 02-22-2014, 09:57 PM
 
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We visited a local, hands on childrens museum Friday. Its called The Magic House, and it really is a pretty magical place. As we explored I tried to talk to them a bit about how some things worked, etc, but they were just so excited. I had to remind myself that sometimes, esp at such young ages, experiences are more important than definitions. Today we visited my parents' friends chicken coop. Dd has been talking about eggs and chickens lately so this was pretty fun. We have been doing some crafts and enjoying a chance to ride our bikes and play in the mud during a break from the cold.
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#39 of 50 Old 02-23-2014, 07:04 AM
 
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I LOVE our children's museum. It is ALL hands on. We are lucky enough to have a yearly family membership. It allows us the luxury of going any time we want and can feel like we can drop in for just 15 minutes. And it's totally cool if they want to play with just one thing the whole time. I hear so many parents herding their kids around so they feel like they are getting their money's worth when all the kid wants to do is play with something that has really caught their interest. I can totally see both sides but I'm so glad I don't have to deal with this. 

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#40 of 50 Old 02-23-2014, 07:58 AM
 
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I keep misjudging what the girls are ready for.

 

They get a small allowance, .25 per year per week.  We've been doing this faithfully since dd1 was 5 (dd2 got an allowance too because her sister did, normally I wouldn't give allowance to a 3yo.)  It's been a great learning experience and I've watched the girls develop their financial sense, learn about desire and how to handle having money and not having enough.  They've done remarkably well.

 

Mostly.

 

We still have not worked out the feelings of "fairness" when they make different financial decisions.  DD2 has a bit more that dd2 right now because she had her 9th birthday and she had 4 teeth pulled (worth $10 each).  DD2 also had teeth pulled.  She was happily saving for a shiny grey horse toy which costs $32.  She'll get it this week, she's that close.  No problems there.  DD1 had no idea what she wanted with her money.

 

I opened my big mouth.  Innocently enough.  I notice that our riding instructor is offering a spring break horse camp.  For the same price and about the same time, their gymnastics has their spring "showoff".  I casually mentioned that they could choose one or the other (frankly I would love to do something besides the showoff.)  I said they had until the middle of March to decide.  DD1 immediately chose gymnastics.  DD2 said she would rather do the horse.

 

Until. Until until until.......

 

DD1 starts getting anxious because she's not so happy with her sister doing something she's not but might really want to do.  She wants to do both.  I casually mentioned that she had enough in her allowance jar to pay for one.  She was thrilled.  Yes!  She could do both!

 

Ooops.

 

Tears from dd2:  "It's not fair that she has enough money to do both!"  She'll have enough if she chooses to not buy a toy, same as dd1 who is also forgoing a toy.  "But I really wanted that horse I was saving for a long timeand don'tyouunderstand?????  HowhardI'veworked????  It's not fair that she can afford to do both!!!"  I did try to explain.  But she's not listening to me, and the screaming just continued.  I tried to say we could work something out.  The screaming continued and now dd1 is bawling because she's afraid she's going to lose her chance.  I "finally" lay down the gauntlet and refuse to discuss it for the rest of the day because I'm about ready to explode with all this screaming and the inability to discuss this rationally.  Tears tears tears.  Not either if you girls bring up this subject again.  Oh, my not very gentle parenting but we are in survival mode here and we do NOT have to decide anything to day.

 

Man!  How did I wind up with these intense kids?

 

OK, clearly they cannot understand that how to spend your allowance has nothing to do with fairness.  I should have not have mentioned the horse camp.  I should not have mentioned the allowance option to dd1, but then I'd be dealing with her hurt feelings.  She really wants to do gymnastics.  We can't afford team for her, and this is the closest thing to it, twice a year they get this big meet-style show-off, complete with warming up with the team and ribbons and medals and all that.  It's a big deal for the kids and a marathon for the parents.

 

I keep thinking they are ready for this or that and I often make a mistake, but this time it blew up in my face and I'm still not recovered after a night's rest.  Good morning so far.  So far.  If/when we discuss this again, I won't be so blindsided.


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#41 of 50 Old 02-23-2014, 09:02 AM
 
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I LOVE our children's museum. It is ALL hands on. We are lucky enough to have a yearly family membership. It allows us the luxury of going any time we want and can feel like we can drop in for just 15 minutes. And it's totally cool if they want to play with just one thing the whole time. I hear so many parents herding their kids around so they feel like they are getting their money's worth when all the kid wants to do is play with something that has really caught their interest. I can totally see both sides but I'm so glad I don't have to deal with this. 

Yes! Memberships are great for taking the pressure off. Also when there is a deal on Groupon or Livingsocial, you don't feel so bad if your child doesn't want to stay long. Trying to herd my son through a museum would have really made him hate the place. 


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#42 of 50 Old 02-23-2014, 09:07 AM
 
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I keep thinking they are ready for this or that and I often make a mistake, but this time it blew up in my face and I'm still not recovered after a night's rest.  Good morning so far.  So far.  If/when we discuss this again, I won't be so blindsided.

Ugh, hope they are feeling more mellow today. I don't suppose the shiny gray pony is for sale used for less $ somewhere like ebay? 


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#43 of 50 Old 02-23-2014, 10:06 AM
 
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Not likely used, this is a new Breyer release.  But cheaper, possibly, I'll look.  

 

I need to write down all the options for her so she can look at them with me.  Another option is save the pony for an Easter present, or have one event be in lieu of an Easter present.  Usually Easter, minus some candy, is about $25 dollars each.  One event could be just a little bit more.  The've never been thrilled with events-for-presents.  They much prefer something they can hold.


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#44 of 50 Old 02-23-2014, 10:24 AM
 
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Researching the options usually helped with my ds... If we couldn't afford something, he appreciated knowing I was going to keep my eyes out for it on a deal (thrift stores, Craigslist, online.) And it would go on the wish list which meant his Grandma or Aunt might buy it for him for his birthday or Christmas. And we learned to always comparison shop online before making an in store purchase though I really liked him to see the real thing in the store because he didn't always like it so much in person.


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#45 of 50 Old 02-23-2014, 11:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh man, SweetSilver, that is rough. I can't see anything you could have done differently to make it easier. 

 

Moving forward, though, I think 4evermom has some good suggestions. I'd try to discuss the issue with both girls and to get the idea of "fair" off the table. I'd apologize for how yesterday went, commiserate with them about how tough the situation is, and challenge them to work with you to find a mutually agreeable alternative, something that feels better-than-good to everyone and goes beyond just "being fair." Tell them that you know you're a smart, creative family and so there has got to be some sort of solution out there that you can come up with together.

 

I wonder if you could explain that in general you like to think of educational experiences (like gymnastics showoff and horse camp) as parental expenses, and "things" and more trivial strictly-entertainment experiences as allowance purchases. And therefore you'd really like it if you (parents) could pay for both March Break experiences for both of them. But of course, that's more money than you really have in the budget, so something else would have to give. And so you're wondering whether they'd be willing to give up expecting an Easter gift and instead substitute some sort we fun/silly/creative/unique (and almost-free) family experience. An Easter or the most amazing egg-decorating extravaganza ever, or a bonfire at a nearby park, or a crazy Easter egg hunt with written clues staged all over your property, or .... maybe they can come up with something really fun. 

 

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#46 of 50 Old 02-23-2014, 12:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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What's new here? Everyone except Fiona and I has been sick. Her big sister has mostly soldiered through the snot. The boys (ds and dh) have been typical wimpy guys, sighing lots, doing little other than dramatically using kleenexes. Not much fun.

 

Fiona completed the standardized testing the school asks her to do as part of our umbrella-school (Distributed Learning) arrangement. It wasn't a big deal, except that she really didn't feel like doing it and just made herself go through it without any much complaining. We're both glad that's over.

 

The trip to the high school in the city with her 15-year-old sister was interesting. The three of us toured the school pretty thoroughly and talked with a nice vice principal. We've pretty much decided for sure to enrol her sister for next year. At this point we're hoping to share rental of a house with another couple of sorta-homeschooling families who live out of town but need a crash pad in town. Ideally a three-bedroom where each family would have a bedroom with shared common space. Our bedroom would be inhabited Sunday through Thursday nights by our teen high schooler, Fiona and I might be there one or two or three nights a week too, and other families would use their rooms in similar part-time ways. Having a place there will open up some new possibilities for her involvement in classes and activities next year. We had two horrid late-night drives home this week thanks to snow and fog and a van that has decided to only heat its interior part-time, and were really wishing we had a crash pad this year.

 

The school ski program will be wrapping up next week and this week Fiona had her third snowboarding lesson and really started to put it all together. The local ski hill has a little rope tow that they run during school programs, and then otherwise the only option is a big steep T-bar. For new snowboarders the necessity of managing the T-bar (which is really hard on a snowboard -- much, much easier on skis) can really slow down one's learning. So they try to get as many beginner snowboarders as they can comfortable using the t-bar. Two of the kids in Fiona's class managed it this week, and she was one of them. She had a lovely 19-year-old instructor help her and got it on the fourth try. After that she managed with me on her second try. She was jubilant. And she's linking her turns really nicely. We went night-skiing the next day so that she could be sure she still remembered how to ski, having not been on downhill skis since last year. She did fine. 

 

She got her first rips (hand-blisters from uneven parallel bars) at gymnastics this week and was pretty proud of them. She now considers herself a hard-core gymnast.

 

We watched a couple of dance movies this week: Billy Elliot and First Position, the latter a documentary about a youth international ballet competition.

 

This doesn't really fall in the realm of official unschooling, but since we visited the other high school in the city, my 15-year-old has been transformed. It's as if she's detached herself emotionally from her current school and has reverted to her unschooled self as she awaits next fall. She broke up with her boyfriend (finally! it was a rather dead-end relationship), started drawing, skiing, running, painting, cooking, reading and baking like crazy. Tuesday youth choir -- most of her choir-mates being students at her future school -- is now the highlight of her week, and her attitude to her current school is efficiently detached, much like her elder sister's was at this age: get in there, do good work, and get out, because your real life is elsewhere. This change in attitude has eliminated all the frustration over classmates and silly school procedures, expectations and hoop-jumping. 

 

And another not-really-unschooling update about my ds, who has now been in school for 2.5 years. He's got a job-shadowing placement this week with a guy who works at home as a web-designer. The guy is thirty-something, a former professional musician and computer programmer, very affable, creative and outside-the-box in his mentality. A friend-of-a-friend we knew of through our unschooling connections. The school believes my ds is going there to learn about what it is to work in the computer design field by watching and helping as the guy works away. But it's clear from the 45-minute enthusiastic phone conversation the two of them had on Friday to talk about the week that it's going to be much more about what it's like to piece together a balanced eclectic life and career inspired by both passion and practicality. Ds was asked to bring his viola, transducer, looping pedal and amp, his laptop, his Digital Audio Workstation software, a big thermal coffee mug, content to build into an on-line website portfolio / curriculum vitae, and his cross-country skis. I have a feeling it's going to be an amazing week. 

 

Had a phone call this week from eldest dd which made me laugh. Anyone who worries that unschoolers will never learn to do stuff they don't find intrinsically enjoyable, to meet deadlines, to toe the line and work hard, or who doubts the life-lessons that are built into video games, should have been listening in on that phone call. The girl has a system of time-blocks, goals and expectations for herself to ensure that she is able to juggle 6 hours of violin practicing, rehearsals for four separate ensembles, classes, essays, assignments and general studying, laundry, grocery shopping, meal preparation, exercise and social and leisure time. She has a system of 'levelling up" rewards that she grants herself when she achieves success for particular periods of time. She's got safeguards built in to ensure that she doesn't get too focused on any one thing or that small failures don't cascade into larger ones. Pretty impressive. 

 

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#47 of 50 Old 02-23-2014, 12:39 PM
 
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Our childrens museum has a monthly free day but I am really considering a membership as a Christmas gift this yr. Free days are crowded of course. Daddy finally got the computer up and running! I need to remember to be more unschooly towards him as well. He took the iniative and did it himself on a whim, no nagging required.
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#48 of 50 Old 02-23-2014, 08:01 PM
 
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Update:

 

DD9 asked to talk about the situation while we were driving today.  I initially didn't want to, and said I wanted to talk about it when we could write down our ideas and talk about what we like and don't like.  That seemed to be enough for them to discuss it rationally, and the idea of postponing the pony as an Easter gift was well-liked.  

 

I'll consider things some more.  After working through what happened and what might have been better, I agree with Miranda that keeping allowance away from what are essentially educational experiences is the best policy.  I could have asked them how we could have afforded it, and perhaps allowance might have been brought up, in which case it could be considered, but I wouldn't go there automatically because what is in their jars (and it isn't strictly allowance) is quite different sometimes.

 

I would love to "keep fair out of it", but this issue seems to pop up on its own and I have explained and explained.  Either my explanations are poor or they  just aren't ready to understand the idea.  We do have a very rigid idea of "fair" in our house, unfortunately, that keeps the more intangible aspects of it out of consideration.  Yet.  Well, I've had discussions with adults that, while they don't believe fair is the same as equal, they still don't understand that some things are beyond the issue of fairness vs. unfairness.  So, I can grant my girls a philosophical reprieve.

 

Thanks for all the excellent suggestions.  Today was much better.  And I thnk all 3 of us learned something from it.

 

And we have 2 new Mythbusters collections from the library.  DD9 *aced* the segment on a 2-car head on collision vs. a collision with a wall.  What took me a few minutes to understand, she just piped up and said, "But there's 2 cars so you divide it in half."  I think this is just the vanguard of more moments like these. 

 

We are also off to a good start with GS cookie sales.  My sister, bless her heart, bought 18 boxes and we stayed and chatted and played Clue and Sorry before heading home.


Give me a few minutes while I caffeinate.
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#49 of 50 Old 02-25-2014, 06:33 PM
 
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Finished Clash of Kings last night.  I've had great books to read for the last few weeks, so the house is a disorganized mess, the glue holding it together being the bare essential house keeping.  I waited to put a hold on the third book of Game of Thrones so I would be motivated to actually do something.  First day I cleared off the mountain that was supposed to be the computer table and pitched some outdated stuff out of my "office cupboard".  

 

Now I'm coming down with something.  My tongue is fat, my throat is getting sore and I HAVE NOTHING TO READ!!

 

GAH!!


Give me a few minutes while I caffeinate.
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#50 of 50 Old 02-25-2014, 08:08 PM
 
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I have been feeking similarly, sweetsilver. Boo. The kiddos are on a big leapfrog video kick. Dd has been using the chalkboard table to practice writing words. Short simple ones like mom and dad she is even sounding out herself! Her cousin gave her a watch tonight so now shes interested in telling time. She understands whole hours so far.
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