Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Oh, What Does Mom Know?

So with Mackenzie being interested in computer science and all, I've mentioned many times that he should probably improve his keyboarding skills (we don't call it typing anymore in the new age, you know). I've pointed out links to online games that would be fun and accomplish this purpose, and even bought a typing tutor game on CD for him. But do you think he would listen to mom on this subject?????  Nooooooooooo....

But of course now that his mentor/teacher/business partner in the computer business mentioned that he needed to be able to type fast and showed him a link to some Free Typing Games online, he's been really working on it and lo and behold his typing is vastly improved.

It reminds me all too well of when my mom told me I should take typing in high school and I totally blew her off with a "mom, I am NOT going to be a secretary!". Lo and behold, six years later I was working at a computer company and typing all day long. LOL, the joke was on me.

Which is why, in this unschooling life, I'm so grateful for the mentors in my kids' lives. People who share their time, talents, interests, and yes, advice. Having a variety of adult influences is a great bonus to kids, and especially as Mackenzie moves into the teenage years, it's awesome that he has other people he can look up to and learn from.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

We are Made of Star Stuff

I Love This. It reminds me of watching Carl Sagan's The Cosmos as a kid and being awed.

""We Are All Connected" was made from sampling Carl Sagan's Cosmos, The History Channel's Universe series, Richard Feynman's 1983 interviews, Neil deGrasse Tyson's cosmic sermon, and Bill Nye's Eyes of Nye Series, plus added visuals from The Elegant Universe (NOVA), Stephen Hawking's Universe, Cosmos, the Powers of 10, and more. It is a tribute to great minds of science, intended to spread scientific knowledge and philosophy through the medium of music."

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

What My Young Man's Been Up To

I guess I have to stop calling Mackenzie my boy or my kid, once they start growing a mustache and they're taller than you, you have to stop right? In any case, Asa informs me that he is a TEEN not a kid, and that she will soon be a TWEEN not a kid, so there you go.

This time of year, I post a lot about Asa, since we are well into the endless rounds of dance recitals, play productions, singing gigs, etc. At last night's Homesource recital, she danced, sang with a rock band, did mime, and karate. She's my goer and doer and it's always easy to see what she's up to because it's usually on a stage!

Mackenzie's got a lot of stuff going on, but it's not usually the kind of thing one presents in front of an audience. Nevertheless, he's been really focusing in some exciting directions and I wanted to share here what he's been up to. This year started out with him taking his first computer programming class, in Visual Basic, through Homesource. The teacher there is beyond excellent and he's come back enthused and excited by the programming principles he's been learning. Then about halfway through the year, he began talking with one of our friends and workout buddies who has his own web design business. Mackenzie started doing a little bit of interning with him, learning both the front end stuff (HTML) and the back end (server) side of things. He was most excited about really doing actual work on live websites and real running servers. Heady stuff for a 13 year old. Then he got to talking with another one of our friends who is an IT guy and hardware specialist. Now for the last few weeks he's been going over to his house to learn about the hardware end of things.

Just this last week, he had a "test": basically he had to build a computer from a pile of components and a casing. He did it, too! And then got all of the operating system, drivers, and software installed to boot. He was enormously (and deservedly) proud of this accomplishment, and has been tinkering with even more machines (mostly old ones from around here that we've never gotten rid of). I can honestly say, he now knows far more about hardware than I do, and is rapidly eclipsing my software knowledge. At thirteen!

One thing that impresses me about all of this is the sheer numbers of people that are willing to share their knowledge, their time, and their skills with a kid. Often when people visualize homeschooling, they see it as something that will limit their children: limit their exposure to different topics, different people, to expertise in different areas. But I think this is just one example of how that really isn't the case. Whenever my kids have wanted to learn a skill, from Celtic violin to propogating plants to building a computer, they have found teachers and mentors willing to work with them, people who often give freely of their own time and energy to share their knowledge. It's not just about me homeschooling them, it's about them going out in the world and seeking out new knowledge and experiences, often far beyond what I would be able to show them.

The other thing that impresses me is really just how mature and capable Mackenzie is as a person. He's able to engage with adults in meaningful conversation about topics that he's interested in. He's able to work with them or for them or learn from them in respectful and attentive ways. He's able to see adults as people who have skills and knowledge to offer him, and to seek out the mentors in his life who will be able to help him to grow. And really, he's done all of this without my assistance, insistence, or prodding.

To me, it's just one more gift that unschooling has given to these kids, one more way that they grow and learn in a completely different manner than I did at their age. I am profoundly grateful for the fact that they have this opportunity, that we have the time and ability to give them this gift, and that so many wonderful people in their lives are involved in their learning.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Feeling Loved

Our family are not really Hallmark Holiday people. We don't tend to buy flowers or cards, we prefer things homegrown or homemade and heartfelt. For Mother's Day, what I really love is (if the weather cooperates) to head to a lake and do my first outdoor swim of the year. It's become a bit of a tradition and it's something I look forward to. So this year we headed to our favorite lake by the beach, with the kids' kayaks in tow and the dogs in the back of the van, it's quite a procedure just to get out the door!

It was my pup Sophie's first trip to a lake, and she wasn't too sure about getting in the water. Mackenzie is trying to encourage her!

Eventually she got the hang of it and even fetched the ball from the water. It took her a few tries to get the hang of grabbing it without swallowing water. It was like watching someone bob for apples for the first time.

My tri-buddies Carrie and Devlin and I got to dress up like superheroes and save the universe from certain disaster. Just kidding! We got to go swim in the lake, which was surprisingly warm and beautifully clear in the sunshine. To me, there's something about swimming outside that is just so joyful. I mean I always love swimming, but a pool indoors is like a pale substitute for outdoor swimming. Kind of like buying a slice of cheesecake at McDonald's. It's only good if you absolutely cannot possibly get real cheesecake and have temporary amnesia so you've forgotten what it really tastes like. Not that I've ever eaten McDonald's cheesecake, I'm just imagining how bad it might be. In any case, I always look forward to the first outdoor swim of the year and this year delivered a blue lake and sunny skies right on cue for Mother's Day weekend (even though a threat of rain on Sunday made us move the swim to Saturday instead).

On Sunday, I got these sweet straight-from-the-heart cards from the kids. Mackenzie made a point to hand-write me a message (even though he's usually the computer keyboard kid) and Asa gave me coupons for a massage, a manicure, pedicure, and hairstyling (I'll post photos of that last one!). Could a mother ask for anything more?

Wayne cooked me a yummy breakfast, I got a nice long phone call in to my mom to tell her how much I love her, and I got to go for a 10 mile run on Sunday in the sunshine as well. All in all, I'm left feeling blessed to the utmost degree, grateful for my hubby, kids, and friends, and hoping all of the mothers out there had a wonderful day too.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Dance Magic

Asa has been on the dance team at her studio this year and last weekend was their big competition performance in Portland. Of course, there's all of the excitement - costumes, hair, makeup, rehearsals, making everything come together for that one moment of perfection. There's something about watching your child do something that they really really LOVE. Whether that's soccer or robotics or dance or whatever, it just gives you a direct line of vision into their soul and what makes them whole. For Asa, when she's on a stage she just shines with such a light, it comes out of her every pore and her smile is HUGE.

Their dance this year was "Ballerinas Get Funky" which started off with some classical ballet in tutus and ended up in a Hip Hop/Jazz kind of dance. They had a lot of fun with it and truly they did a great job, winning first place in their division!!! Asa was ecstatic, and so here she is with trophy in hand. My God, is my little girl grown up or what? It always shocks me to see her in stage makeup because she ages into something approaching a teenager right before my eyes.