Sunday, July 22, 2007

The True Magic of Harry Potter

One of the best things about unschooling for me is how I get drawn in to my childrens' worlds. How the things that interest them, I find interesting. It stretches my own imagination and boundaries to encompass the things that excite them. In a sense, that is a truly magical thing. Which is why, of course, Friday found us running around to thrift stores, a beauty supply store, and an Asian food market to buy supplies to wizardize ourselves for the Harry Potter release parties on Friday night. Asa went as Hermione, I couldn't talk Mackenzie into going as Draco Malfoy (though he looks so much like him when he gets out of the shower with his hair slicked back!) and the kids thought I should go as Tonks. My mom was visiting and came with us in costume too.!

Now of course though, I have to fight them to get to read the book myself!

Friday, July 20, 2007

Fun at the Science Museum, and Body Worlds

We went up to the science museum to see the traveling Body Worlds exhibit. It was really fascinating! I didn't anticipate how much information and presentation there would be along with the full-size bodies, and was pleasantly surprised. The kids didn't want to go in, I think they were a little intimidated by the idea of the dead bodies, and their friends we were there with also did a little bit of persuading because they didn't want to go in and wanted to go have fun in some of the rest of the science exhibits. So my mom friend and I took turns hanging out with the kids and each got to go in to see the Body Worlds exhibit. Now, after hearing me talk about it, the kids are interested in maybe going back up to see it, so we may be revisiting the skinless people. I thought it was really fascinating, once I got past the fact of seeing people without their skin on. I'm glad I got the time to walk through it alone without a million discussions with the kids because there is a lot of information presented about the human body, but I would also enjoy going through it with them and seeing it through their eyes! There was a wealth of information presented, not just on the full cadavers but on all the little body parts like spleens and joints and lungs and stuff (including these bizarre thin slices through the body that let you see a cross-section of organs.) Very cool stuff!

Meanwhile, the kids had a blast at the various rooms at the science museum. Asa and I merged our faces together in a magic mirror, with the eerie effect of aging her into a teenager (or reducing me to one, I don't know which!), and of course the kids spent a ton of time in the foam ball room, and some in the Chemistry lab, and the other experimental areas. I wish we lived closer to a really big science museum because the kids really enjoy hanging out there. I love how each time we go, it seems like we find some other new little exhibit or experiment we haven't seen before. It's so much fun.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Look Who Adopted Us!

This lovely little thing just followed us home one day. The next morning, she let herself in and was helping herself to our cat's food! She hasn't left yet. Apparently, she followed our neighbor home the week before, and she put up some posters but nobody has called. One day this week when the kids and I went for a walk, to our surprise the kitten tried to go with us! When we got to the busy street, she got very freaked out by the cars, but instead of going back she just tried to keep coming with us, but then kept running into peoples' yards to hide. I'm pretty sure this is how she got lost in the first place. I'm betting that she went for a walk with her original owners (perhaps without their knowing she was following) and then ran off to hide. Well, this time I didn't want her to get squashed by a car so I tried carrying her back home. She does not like being carried. I had to carry her by the scruff of her neck like her mama cat would've done. In any case, she's safely at our house and now that a week has passed with no phone calls from previous owners, we told the kids they could get her a collar and we'll order a tag for her. That way at least if she gets lost again, anyone who finds her will be able to give us a call.

She has been named Patches, and other than not liking being held is a very sweet little thing. She has even slept on the bed with us once! She is pretty thin and was obviously very hungry, so she's in the kitchen under my feet a lot and is a very accomplished little beggar (being fed by the first person who wakes up, then pretending she has not been fed for the next successive people who appear in the kitchen). But she's plumping up a little bit. We definitely have to keep her away from our cat Noggin's food while he's eating as he is now fourteen and a grumpy old man, and he's given her a piece of his mind when she gets too close to his food.

Other than that, Noggin is adjusting remarkably well. Previous attempts at introducing other cats (such as when my sister stayed with us and brought her cat with her) have not gone well, but he seems to tolerate this little newcomer with remarkably good graces. Perhaps he can sense that she needs us too. Or perhaps since the kitten is not a lap cat, he doesn't feel that his territory has been too encroached upon. Whatever the reason, he's doing fine and so we are now officially a two-cat household.

Monday, July 09, 2007

A Day In Our Lives

On a discussion board that I frequent, people have been doing "A Day In the Life" photoessays, so I did one the other day. It wasn't a totally typical day since my husband was at home and I used the afternoon to run a lot of errands by myself (not very usual) but it more or less shows our daily existance (even our tupperware drawer!) So if you happen to want to see a day in our lives, represented photographically, here it is: A Day In Our Lives.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Grandma Used to Have an Ass

Don't you just love the kinds of conversations you can get into with kids? This was the killer line in one this week, along with "and grandpa had a favorite bitch." We were talking about swear words and how they became swear words and what their original origins were. So we discussed bitches and bastards and why "shit" is a curse word but "poo" is not.

A couple of years ago, one of my kids' friends came up to me visibly upset. She confided in me that she was really afraid because she didn't know what "the F word" was and was very worried that she might accidentally say the "F word" out loud and offend people. This word held so much power in her head because of its mysterious status that she was very disturbed about it. Many people inadvertantly give swear words enormous power in kids' minds because of the prohibitions against saying them and the mysterious and "bad" aura that hangs over these words. Since that incident, I became even more convinced that the way to take the power and mystique out of such things was just to address them as we do everything else, with open communication and dialogue.

So this week the subject just happened to come up and we discussed them all (well, almost all. I'm actually a bit relieved to say that I didn't have to explain "bugger" because my kids didn't ask, that one would've been just a wee bit more delicate). We talked about where the words come from and why they got their power. We discussed cultural mores through the centuries and why it used to be a terrible insult to be called a bastard, whereas nowadays such a condition is much less rare and not nearly so stigmatized. And of course we eventually also talked about why some folks are offended by curse words and where it is and isn't appropriate to use them.

Surprisingly to some folks (but not really to me) although my kids are well acquainted with these "curse words" and though they are able to use them around me with impunity (I've assured them that I'm almost impossible to offend), the kids don't really curse. Even when stubbing their toe or anything, which is impressive given that I have to work pretty hard to curb my sailor-mouth at times. It's something I struggle with and have to consciously think about in mixed company. I'm happy that my kids are curious about such things, but also show the good sense to know what is and isn't appropriate in social circumstances.

And yes, in case you're wondering, my grandma's ass was named Dolly. She was grey and fuzzy and lived to a ripe old age in the back pasture.