I have a bit of a goal this year to try new things with the boys. This is not just for their benefit, but for mine. It really livens up the homeschooling experience, and I find that it keeps my life more interesting.
I have a variety of things planned, and on Saturday we made one of them happen: we went to a play. They’ve seen movies, of course, but this was the first time they’d seen an actual live performance, which is really a different experience. I can’t say that I’ve ever been a devoted theater-goer, but I have enjoyed performances, and have fond but distant hopes of taking them to some of my favorites, like A Midsummer Night’s Dream, when they’re older. So to get the ball rolling, we saw the Oregon Children’s Theatre production of Skippyjon Jones.
One hour long, with lots of music and an insane number of puns, this seemed to work for them — i.e., they said they liked it, and Ryan at least wants to see another one.
We live in the most wonderful climate. Enough variety to keep things interesting, but mild enough that a freak January day can be 60 degrees out, and the baby can hang out in the stroller while I finish pruning the grape vine.
The warmth was also convenient to Ryan’s recent and very sudden decision to ride Nathan’s bike. Where this came from I’ve no idea, but two nights ago he wanted to learn, and I was not about to pass up the opportunity. Out we went into the darkness, with me giving him the occasional boost or steadying hand as we made our way slowly up and down the dead-end street. He fell off a couple of times (despite training wheels) but got right back on, and he’s making progress. Hooray for inexplicable urges to learn things!
A long time ago I saw the idea somewhere of letting kids play with shaving cream, just for the fun of smearing around something foamy. Maybe I even did that myself as a kid? I’m not sure, but if I did I’d forgotten most of the salient features of the experience, because when I broached the idea to Dave he pointed out that shaving cream is really stinky. And boy is he right. Besides which, it probably isn’t a good thing to eat, and I’d hate to exclude Mica from the activity.
But it got me thinking: what about just normal whipping cream? We never use it in food, because it’s no good for Dave’s migraines, but it has all the required features — i.e., foamy and non-toxic. It doesn’t hurt that it’s fairly inexpensive; for a few dollars and five minutes of whipping we could get… well, honestly, about twenty minutes of play and an hour’s clean-up.
And pictures. The pictures make it totally worth it.
Have the kids and I ever had a schedule before? Sure, we had Wednesday playgroup for a long time, and I always do errands on the same day (so that my library books come due in a predictable fashion)… But now we’re doing two days a week at the Village Free School, and it’s kind of weird. Not so much the time there, which I still think is a cool addition to the boys’ lives. It’s just weird getting up in the morning twice a week and knowing that I have to get us ready in time for school.
Mind you, this is the most flexible school in the world. Kids can arrive as early as 8am (except Mondays), but most get there between 9:30 and 10:00, sign themselves in, and head off to do whatever it is they’re occupying themselves with. Pick-up time is similarly relaxed.
I suppose it’s just an adjustment to have two days a week taken up with something. For the first time in my parenting life I printed out a calendar at the beginning of January and began filling in our various activities, and between school and the pool and OMSI and a walk in Tryon (it was gorgeous; I love this climate) the month began to look very full. We have been living luxuriously free and easy, and compared to many people we are still living luxuriously free and easy, and it’s nevertheless busy in a way that I suspect will seriously increase my skill in packing lunches.
I think — reserving judgement, here — that it’s actually kind of fun.
Mica likes food. She has for quite a while now, and although she is not yet capable of actually eating it — she still has whatever instinct causes babies to eject anything too solid — she simply adores tasting things. Sweet things are best, but anything will work in a pinch: a crust from a piece of toast, a carefully denuded chicken leg bone (got that idea from Dr. Sears — he recommends them for teething!), a bit of tangerine peel. If it’s handy, I’ll give her a spoon dipped in applesauce or green smoothie, but such things aren’t always handy, and when holding a strong, determined baby on my lap during meals, keeping those little hands occupied is the name of the game.
Fortunately she is strong. While she can’t sit up for long herself yet, she’s getting closer, and with a pillow and the safety belt on our high chair, she can get through half a meal sans lap.