Big Brother

Mica has different relationships with her two brothers. She and Ryan and just close enough that they sometimes conflict; Ryan is not quite mature enough to deal calmly with Mica trying to steal a toy, for example. They play intensely together at times, and show each other wonderful moments of sweetness. Other times there is considerable whacking going on.

m_minecraft

Nathan, on the other hand, hardly ever conflicts with Mica. (Nathan seems more baby-oriented in general; he’ll frequently point out other babies to me when we’re out.) He’s spent some time trying to teach her to play Minecraft. She is not quite there yet; she can use a mouse and push a couple of keys, but she can’t manage to keep everything straight well enough to really move around in the environment. It doesn’t bother her all that much; she likes digging straight down. (For non-Mincrafters out there, this is a classic beginner error.)

m_legos

But what she really likes is playing games off the computer, mostly of the chase-me or let’s-jump-on-things variety. And recently she and Nathan became interested in a sort of Minecraft baby step: playing with the Minecraft legos. For several days she dragged the little lego set all over the house, shedding pieces as she went, and making the cow and sheep talk to each other.

Just A Picture

Father and son, programming together…

programming

Valentine’s Cupcakes

What is Valentine’s Day really for, anyway? Romance? Love in general? Commercialism? For my kids, at least, it appears to be about the same thing as most holidays: sugar.

I had vague ideas of doing heart cutout cookies with icing, but let’s be honest: mini cupcakes are quicker, easier, and just as well-received by the children in the household. Plus the kids really like to help with the tedious bit of beating the frosting.

cupcakes1

cupcakes2

Another holiday nailed…

Kindness Rocks

Recently I made some Kindness Rocks with Mica. This project had everything I look for in A Project To Do With A Two-Year-Old. It had paint — but only a little. It had rocks. And it fit nicely within the window of a two-year-old attention span.

rocks

Mica chose pink and purple paints for the base coat. (I think she’s been influenced by popular culture.) We did the painting at Free School, and then I squirreled the stones away for a few days until I found a chance to put words on them. Any kind of art that requires fine motor control is not the sort to do with a toddler.

After that it was just a matter of placing them. I dragged all three kids out for a quick walk to the park, which we managed to squeeze in (mostly) between rain showers. The boys especially seemed to enjoy finding places for the stones. Then it started to hail and we came home.

Swim Lessons

All the kids started swim lessons this year, and I am happy to report that at least two of them seem to enjoy them. Mica is in a parent-toddler class with me. I was not worried about her enjoying the swimming — she loves the water — but she has found the structure of the class a little odd. In no other part of her life is she required to follow directions and do what everyone else is doing for no obvious reason, and she clearly finds that bizarre.

But I give her what choice I can, and she is (mostly) going along with this strange concept. She also has gotten used to the idea of being dunked under the water — more quickly than I expected. For myself, I find the structure a little annoying; I still think that little kids would benefit from maybe a few small directed activities and then lots of time to play. But I understand that my perspective on education is not mainstream.

The boys are in a semi-private lesson with an instructor at another pool. After the first lesson the instructor told me that he could definitely work with Ryan, but he wasn’t sure about Nathan. Now three weeks in, that pattern is holding. Ryan openly likes the swim lessons and has fun in them. Nathan still dislikes even going to the lessons. We’ve reached an understanding: although I’m making him attend the lessons, which clearly violates his sense of autonomy, I’ve been entirely up front about the fact that I cannot, in fact, make him learn to swim. I can hope he takes advantage of the opportunity, but I really have no greater power than that. Once he understood it in those terms, he stopped actively resisting going to the lessons. I honestly have no idea whether he’ll warm up eventually and begin to have fun.