“Harry Potter is Awesome!”

5 Aug

Oliver and the boys and I started reading the Harry Potter books together several months ago and we just finished the 7th book last night. It makes me happier than it should that my kids love this series as much as I do. Cool things we’ve discovered during our reading (and listening):

1. There is no prouder moment than hearing my children’s indignation at something they did “wrong” in the movie version.

2. Half of The Prisoner of Azkaban and all of The Goblet of Fire will last you the drive from NH to New Orleans and back. It will also make that drive far more enjoyable.

3. As much as I love reading the books out loud to my kids, it is disappointing to me (and probably to them) that my voice is not nearly as cool as Jim Dale’s.

4. It is worth a substantial part our taxes that our library has been able to loan us all of the audio CDs of the Harry Potter books.

5. Nothing was funnier to my kids than what is revealed in the epilogue of The Deathly Hallows.

6. My generation’s “you don’t know how good you’ve got it,” might just be not having to wait two years after the end of one book for the next to come out. On the other hand, they won’t understand the anticipation of waiting until midnight to pick up your reserved copy of the The Deathly Hallows and the joy of locking yourself in a room until you’ve finished all 759 pages.

7. We have had to establish rules around what spells you can and cannot perform on each other. For instance: Avada Kedavra and Accio Penis, NO. Patrificus Totalus or Expelliarmus, YES.

8. My kids call each other Muggle as an insult and frequently quote their favorite funny lines.

9. My 9-year-old yelled out, in the middle of one of the movies, “H-P i-s A-W-E-S-O-M-E!” And yes, he spelled it all out.

10. Someone just asked me when we could start rereading the whole series. I need one of those giant smiley face emoticons.

Cousins

31 Jul

For the past four days, my house has been a total zoo (more than usual) as I have had two extra kids living here. It has been great to have my nieces and for my boys to have their cousins to play with, but it has been like one giant day of teaching Kindergarteners who are desperately in need of naps.

Things heard most frequently heard:

10. “Be Quiet,” screamed by Macy at Elyse, frequently at a time when both should be sleeping.

9. “I don’t want to watch a girl show.” OR “Those are boy pants! Ugh, look at the stripe!”

8. “He/she is being mean to me.”

7. “I need something to eat.”

6. “When can we go to the beach?”

5. “It’s my turn!”

4. “It’s not fair!”

3. “What can we do?”

2. “Underwear party!”

1. “Get out of my room and leave my stuff alone!” Owen yelling at the other four.

Calum on Mustaches

21 May

As he was getting dressed for Kindergarten yesterday, Calum commented that the shoes I was tying for him looked like a pair of Daddy’s shoes. “I almost look like I’m going to work. I just need a mustache.”

He paused and thought for a moment. “Do teenagers or people with mustaches go to college?” Like many of Calum’s questions, I wasn’t quite sure how to answer this. He is the same boy who believes that wearing glasses makes people old, despite the fact that he knows many not-old people who wear glasses.

Fortunately, he didn’t wait for an answer. He hopped up and ran off proclaiming, “I think mustaches are funny!”

Why Homeschooling Rocks, And Why it Doesn’t

15 May

I have been homeschooling Owen since September and while I still have a ton to learn, I have at least figured out a few things. Owen LOVES being homeschooled, or rather, Owen LOVES not attending a traditional school. Here is what we have learned:

1. Owen hates getting up early, but he is totally happy to read in his bed until 11pm (and honestly, the same is true for me), so the flexible schedule thing works well for us.

2. We have our dog’s teeth in a specimen cup on a shelf and a raccoon tail in a ziplock baggy on top of our fridge (doesn’t everybody?) Everything is an opportunity for learning.

3. Owen just wore a pair of homemade duct tape shoes to the grocery store, and nobody noticed. You just can’t get away with that in public middle school. He fully embraces his inner (and outer) nerd and I would hate for someone to tell him that it’s not cool to make your own shoes out of duct tape.

4. Math is just as easily learned upside down on the couch as it is sitting in a chair at a desk.

5. You can turn anything into schoolwork. Owen wanted to get a pet bunny. He researched rabbits, wrote a report about rabbits and a persuasive essay to convince us that he should be able to get one.

6. I have almost as little attention span as Owen. I also have a pretty serious case of Itisalmostsummeritis. It is ridiculously hard to get a unfocused kid to focus on schoolwork during the last month or so of school when you are as unfocused as he is.

7. In a former life I got my MAT in English Education and had a NH Experienced Educator license. What has been far more necessary and valuable to me in homeschooling, however, is patience and creativity.

8. I knew going into this that I could only make it work around my job as a Paramedic because Owen was old enough to stay home alone at times and could be somewhat self-sufficient. It turns out that he is really good at taking care of himself, and his younger brother when I am sleeping after a night shift, but he is terrible at getting work done unless I am constantly on him. It also turns out that him making meals for the Kindergartener is far more valuable to me than doing math when I’m sleeping.

9. Some kids need to be around other kids. Duncan is one of those kids. Owen is not. Though he still loves to hang out with his friends, he does not at all miss having other kids around him all day. 

10. I loved school. Owen loves learning. These are not the same things. He is a much happier kid figuring things out on his own and reading about things that interest him. 

11. I enjoy having Owen around and love helping him learn both things that I know and things that are new to me, but I sometimes want to scream at him to go find something else to do because he is always freaking here. And apparently I am a person who enjoys my time alone.

 

Kids Have No Filter

8 May

I am generally a proponent of using correct terminology for body parts with my kids. I don’t want mine to be the kid who goes to Elementary School referring to anything as a, “pee pee,” or is afraid to refer to their own body parts. It certainly hasn’t stopped my kids from coming up with their own more creative terms, though, and it definitely hasn’t sunk in yet that that there are places it is appropriate to discuss one’s penis, and that those places are limited.

I briefly reconsidered my position the other day when Calum randomly yelled the word, “ANUS” in a parking lot, right in front of a TJ Maxx employee taking her break. It is hard to explain to a five-year-old that while it is not a bad word, it is not one you yell in public. It is even harder not to laugh and instead feign the appropriate level of horror in front of people I don’t know.

It’s a Good Thing He’s Cute

4 Apr

How distracting do you have to be to others to have your pencil supply limited and monitored? D’s teacher, a woman who had him pegged on day one with the comment on a worksheet, “Duncan, please pay attention in class and read the directions,” sent me this email. Her analysis of him is so spot-on, Duncan couldn’t even disagree with her comments on his most recent report card.

“Hi Ali,

Could you send Duncan to school on Monday with a fresh supply of sharpened pencils. He is repeatedly breaking the pencil points and removing the metal tops and erasers from the pencils he has here. He is constantly resharpening them, I believe, in an effort to avoid work. Since he also peels off the wrapping of decorative ones, please just give him regular yellow wooden pencils (not mechanical ones- those come with a host of other distractions).

I will keep the supply with me so he can grab one when needed but not have them nearby to play with during work time.”

Boys’ Night Out

28 Mar

This afternoon, the boys and I were out driving around, doing errands. All great kid conversations happen in the car, if you weren’t aware.  D asked me, “Can we have a boys’ night out?” My first thought was slightly sad because I wouldn’t be included, but I immediately regained my senses and thought, a night, home alone, by myself, with quiet? “Of course you can.”

O then explained what boys’ night out entailed. “Basically, boys go out without any girls and have a ton of fun.” I’m pretty sure the boys and I do not share an idea of what constitutes  a ton of fun. O continued on to say that they would take their friend A with them and $100. They would “buy a hotel and with the leftover, buy a bunch of cheesy fries.” I am not setting foot in whatever hotel they can get for $100 less cheesy fries for four growing boys, so it works out that I’m not invited.

They wanted to do a boys’ night out with their Dad tonight, and D asked if we had a lot of laundry to do. “Yes, we do,” I replied, not understanding his hint. “Good,” he says, “you can stay home and do the laundry when we go out.” He was lucky I was driving and he was out of arm’s reach. I suggested Sunday, when I am working, and they debated inviting their friends A and E. “But if we call it a boys’ night out, E can’t come,” O sympathized. D, without a pause replied, “but she doesn’t have boobs.” “We’ll have to call it kids’ night out,” O compromised.

Apparently, boobs are the criteria by which one is excluded from boys’ night out. Certainly explains why I wasn’t invited.

 

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