Thursday, May 25, 2017

Now we are six: In the Age of Childhood



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But now I am six,
I'm as clever as clever.
So I think I'll be six
now and forever.


— A.A. Milne

My little Alrik turned 6. I wrote when Mikko turned this age that 6 always feels firmly in Childhood Age to me, part of an iconic and golden period.

And here we are, with number two moving into it.

Alrik is such a sprite of a child. He was the baby who was born peacefully and precipitously at home, in our first unassisted homebirth, and he was smaller enough than Mikko that my first thought on his emerging was, Oh, no, where's the rest of him? I guess I worried maybe his legs had broken off inside.


But, no, he was just somewhat petite, and he grew more elfin by the day, our skinny, wiry little boy with round Disney eyes and energy for days. Always dancing, always running, always talking.


"Can I say something?" is his catchphrase. And then he does.

He introduces me to his imaginary friends and asks me to join him in Minecraft World, which is a realm he made up that adapts to any sort of creative play. Sometimes he's fighting zombies. Sometimes he's a samurai. Sometimes he's a human who turns into a cat when he brushes against you. He tells me what to do to participate adequately.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Mother guilt: The uneasiness of time away from the kids


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The day I am writing this, I am at Seattle Center, the campus where the iconic Space Needle stands, enjoying the filtered shade on a bench on a 75-degree May afternoon. Pink blossoms from the spring-sprung trees are dropping softly down on my arms and shoulders. I've spent two hours working on my latest novel, and an hour wandering the well-groomed grounds, admiring the works of art strewn generously throughout and smiling at the sight of so many other people enjoying the beautiful, illusory weather while it lasts.

I am alone, kidless for this brief period of hours. I am free and thrilled and rested and content.

And also miserably guilt-ridden.

Do fathers feel this way, or is it a culturally or biologically instilled mandate that mothers experience guilt at enjoying time away from their children?

Last night I was breaking down in tears from stress. Alrik had a wonderful opportunity (with scholarship!) to attend a homeschool drama class downtown for the spring. It's an incredible program, and we couldn't pass it up for our creatively minded kid when the doors opened for us.

But I worried how we would all cope with getting three kids and me up very early and out the door, onto two to three buses for the ride downtown, and then whiling away the time Alrik was in his class before picking him up and doing the bus dance on back.

I've had nightmares about those bus rides. It's currently cheaper enough for us to ride the bus (only Mikko and I pay at the moment) to beat parking. Plus, we can stay longer and go on other adventures after if we desire, and we often do. And it makes sense to bring Karsten and Mikko with me so Sam can work and we can play. We have memberships at the children's museum and science center, and there's a fun playground, and soon the fountain will be spraying, and the three of us have a grand time while Alrik's having his own fun in class.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Caps for Sale for the second kiddo


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Blast from the past! Caps for Sale, by Esphyr Slobodkina, has been a favorite of both our older kids so far. I suspect our third will have a go at it soon enough as well!

Here's Alrik reading along with Sam at age 4:

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Do you and your kids share the same homeschool philosophy?



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I recently took a quiz on "What Kind of Homeschooler Are You?" posted by my friend Jennifer on Facebook as found on the blog Eclectic Homeschooling. My results were mostly what I expected — high emphasis on natural, child-led learning and a low emphasis on "school at home."

But what I was even more interested in was finding out if my kids agreed with my philosophy on learning. After all, how could I believe in child-led learning if my children didn't think that was a worthy goal? That's kind of a head-scratcher, isn't it? But I do think I'd adapt our unschooling approach to be more schooly if that's what our kids needed from us.

So, I had 9-year-old Mikko take the quiz, going through each question with him to be sure I understood his point of view. Our results were as follows. Mine is the first number, and Mikko's is the second. I've rearranged them into descending order to make it easier to scan.

  • Score for Unschooling: 25 >> 13
  • Score for Thomas Jefferson Education: 23 >> 13
  • Score for Charlotte Mason Education: 21 >> 13
  • Score for Montessori Education: 20 >> 7
  • Score for Unit Studies Education: 17 >> -15
  • Score for Waldorf Education: 10 >> 5
  • Score for Classical Education: -5 >> -20
  • Score for Traditional Education: -23 >> -15

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Brothers in Lederhosen

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Because why not?



My mom passed along various pairs of Lederhosen (German Bavarian traditional dress) from when our family lived in Berlin and my mom liked to play dress-up with my little brother. I dig the tradition, so I broke them out and went on a photo shoot in our version of the Grünewald with Alrik (5.5) and Karsten (2).



Alrik in the same outfit at age 2 at a German cultural party.



Tucking away that flag.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Little Sunshine, the imaginary friendly isopod



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I love my children's imaginary friends. I recently reread my post on Silly Guy to Mikko, now 9.5 years old, and we were both tickled at the details we'd forgotten as Silly Guy faded from our lives. To that end, I record: Little Sunshine.

Little Sunshine originally was, I believe, an isopod, or roly poly, that Alrik spotted one day as we walked along the beach a couple years back. Alrik already had established a habit of naming tiny critters we passed, often ants, and telling me their given monikers were things like Rainbow and Cutie. He's never seen the movie with a related title, so I'm assuming Little Sunshine is just something else his brain came up with.

We watched the real-life Little Sunshine crawl along the sidewalk and then disappear down a sewer grate. Isopods, I've learned, are crustaceans and need damp environments to breathe through their gills. In case you were interested. Your call.

But Little Sunshine's disappearance was not his departure from our lives. Oh, no. Alrik, then about age 3, kept talking to him as we continued our walk, and I was obliged to keep up Little Sunshine's end of the conversation.