Monday, July 24, 2006

Beware the wrath of a 6 year old girl scorned

Who says unschoolers won't practice their handwriting? I found these while cleaning Divagirl's room. Apparently, Mack ticked her off, ya think?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Learning and Fun Never Stop

There's nothing better than a Kinetic Sculpture Race to prove that learning, fun, adventure, and sillyness do not have to stop at childhood. What could be cooler than people creating big, strange, decorated sculptures that are solely people-powered, and race through sand, mud bogs, water, and on land? We went to the Kinetic Sculpture Races at Da Vinci Days in Corvallis, OR and had so much fun, we're talking about building our own sculpture over the next year or so! Of course, Thinkerboy stood beside me through the mud and water races analyzing each design, the pros and cons of fat tires vs. skinny ones for optimum traction, and how the one design with the propeller gained much more speed in the water than all of the versions utilizing some sort of paddle-wheeled design. Divagirl just got muddy and enjoyed the spectacle!

At Da Vinci days, there were also all kinds of craft and activity booths, artwork, jugglers, music stages, and science projects to do. Last year we took a tour of a tsunami tank and wave generation facility. This year, a simple balance scale and lots of different kind of weights occupied my kids and their friend for almost half an hour. If you live anywhere near Oregon, don't miss this awesome 3-day event in the middle of summer.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Fun in Canada

I just got done organizing photos from our awesome trip to Canada a couple of weeks ago. We took a ferry to Vancouver island, spent most of the week camping on the Cowichan River which was really beautiful and remarkably empty. At least this year, the Canadian schools got out a week or so later than the Pac NW American schools, giving us a great week of very nice June weather in which the campgrounds, rivers, lakes, bike trails, and hotels were remarkably empty.

The Cowichan River area had a lot to offer. There's a "rails to trails" conversion with a really cool trestle wayyyyy above the river. The kids had a blast running over that. The campground we stayed in had a nice trail all the way around it, and lots of lovely spots on the river to visit.

We went up to Lake Cowichan for two days running and had the lake totally to ourselves! There was not a speed boat in sight (which apparently is not the case at all in the summer). The kids got these fun inflatable floatie animals and had a blast cruising around the swimming area. I brought my running shoes, bike, and thankfully my wetsuit, because while the shallow areas of the lake were warm enough, it was quite freezing out past about three feet deep.

After most of the week camping and enjoying the peace and quiet and beauty of the B.C. parks and campgrounds (did I mention that the B.C. campground we went to was all gravel roads, no motorhome hookups and generators were not allowed...Oh for a U.S. State park to take this approach to camping again! It was like real camping instead of being next to a bunch of mobile hotel rooms with TVs blaring), we headed back to Victoria for a few days of total tourist fun.

The Royal BC museum was a big hit with both of the kids. They have a very nice Native peoples exhibit and a full-size mammoth. We took horse-drawn carriage rides, and had "high tea" (6 y.o. Diva was disappointed at first "I thought it was going to be high tea, like we would all be sitting on some high stools or something!" but when they brought out the tiny sandwiches and tarts, all was well).

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

What Unschooling Looks Like This Week

My son (9, almost 10, I think I'm going to knickname him "Thinker" because he's so introspective) has been really into this Pokemon book he got. For awhile there, it looked like he had outgrown Pokemon and he gave all his cards away, but now he has a friend who's really into it, so he's back into those little strange creatures. He's had his nose buried in this book at all hours, and the print is really tiny, mostly color on color too (like yellow on red) so I guess that means his vision is still doing really well (he had Vision Therapy 18 months ago because his eyes had so much trouble focusing and tracking together, he was getting blurred and doubled vision). He's also really into Sherlock Holmes right now, and he and I have been reading Sherlock Holmes stories out in the hammock in the afternoons when it gets shady on that side of the house. There's not much better than a good book, a popsicle, and a hammock on a warm summer's afternoon! He's drawing some new installments of his cartoon strip, and is percolating a new idea for a story he wants to write.

We've been swimming a lot and cycling, and just all rode our bikes to see the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie yesterday. One of the things I love most about my son is that he inherited my husband's awesome belly laugh. If you go to a funny movie with either one of them, it's like ten times funnier than if you just went by yourself. There were several parts during Pirates of the Caribbean where he was just laughing so hard, I couldn't stop laughing myself, just listening to him. I love his laugh.

My daughter (6, almost 7) I think I'll knickname "Diva", after her general personality, her singing ability, and her favorite shirt which simply says "Diva" on the front. Today she went to a friend's house to film their own version of the TV show "Zoom". It ended up being a lot more like the old "Laugh-In" show than Zoom. They made a gigantic set piece out of cardboard, with windows that open, and they painted it all crazy and opened the windows to talk to each other and tell silly jokes. Very funny given that I'm sure neither one has ever seen "Laugh-In" (I barely remember it myself). Tomorrow she'll go to a homeschool gathering of 7 - 13 year old girls who are working on putting together hip hop dance routines. This is so right up her alley. She's been asking me how she can get a part acting in movies and musicals. I think I need to start checking out the local auditions to see if there are any good parts for tiny girls with big voices coming up. She's playing the violin a fair bit and wants to go play at the Saturday Market again this weekend to make some $$$$. Being small, cute, and a damn good fiddle player is very lucrative, and she's saving for her first horse (of course!). I watched her horseback lesson yesterday and she elected to ride bareback, with no bit in the bridle. She's got this kind of horse whispering telepathy with the horses, I swear.

As for myself, I'm 16 weeks from my first Ironman, so my life besides homeschooling mom is mostly swimming (7 miles in the last week), biking (93 miles for the week), and running (27 miles). We went and bought a tandem today, this really cool Bike Friday folding tandem that I can ride with the kids. Diva wants to know if she and I can enter a bike race with it, so I told her I'd look up the info and see if there's any age restrictions. Maybe we could do a time trial on it together next year. She's training for a kids' triathlon this year too. She and I test-rode the tandem today and she is quite a little stoker there on the back. For rides with both kids, I can attach the Burley Piccolo (tag-a-long kid's bike) on the back and we can all go together. That really extends our range, as well as allowing us to ride on streets where I don't want the kids riding their own bikes because of traffic.

So, Sherlock Holmes, tandem racing, horse whispering, cartoon drawing, dancing, swimming on hot days, popsicles and hammocks. That's what unschooling looks like at our house this week.