27 July 2010

Ballerino Eli

Maya's last ballet class of the summer...

They performed their ballet from A Midsummer Night's Dream, and all of Maya's descriptions of being "cheeky" fairies and hiding and giggling finally made sense. At the end, the teacher handed out rainbow skirts, wands and tiaras for some freestyle dancing. Maya took off her skirt to put on the rainbow one, so Eli grabbed her skirt and put it on. He had already been wearing her other pair of ballet shoes and dancing along at the side of the room. Here is some of their warm up:

For the freestyle, Eli desperately wanted to be in on the action, and I was thinking I might have to take him out of the room since he isn't part of the class and I was foreseeing him being excluded for "insurance issues" or something of that nature. But, mercifully, along came the teacher with a wand and tiara for Eli, and she said, "Do you want to dance with your sister?" He was in complete heaven.

My hero. The bow at the end might be the cutest thing I have ever seen in my life.

10 July 2010

New Seasons

So there is this awesome shop called New Seasons. They have all sorts of awesome, beautiful products there - loads of natural food groceries (including xylitol chewing gum which the kids were really excited about, since I wouldn't buy any other kind for them!), a cafe, a deli, and tons of beautiful homewares. I love going there. It is extremely aesthetically pleasing.

The other day I saw a flyer like this:

After Nate's Lego club at the library, I mentioned it to my mom and suggested we check it out. I'm so glad we did.

There were about four staffers dedicated to giving out samples of all kinds of ice cream, all different brands, all different flavors, lots of organic options. It was an ice cream lovers dream. I felt giddy. The kids were rapt. Much fun was had. There was even a dairy-free section where we tried a hemp mint chocolate chip (which was my very favorite), some rice milk "creams" (too rice-milky), and an amazing soy peanut butter and chocolate. Ooh, and a coconut cream cherry and amaretto.

I learned that Haagen Dazs have a line of "5 ingredient" ice creams, which, incidentally, is how I believe all ice creams should be made - just the milk, cream, sugar (or agave or rapadura or honey or whatever), eggs and the flavor. I tried mint, and it was divine.

Check out Eli and Maya snacking in their car trolley:

Here are Nate and my mom, deep in ice cream judgement mode:

And to top it all off, all of the sample dishes and spoons were bio-compostable. That's gotta bring a smile to your face.

Summer activities

The Monday before last, Nate went to the first instalment of the library's fortnightly summer chess club. I stretched the truth about his age as the kids are meant to be from 3rd grade to 6th grade and he would only be going into 2nd, but a) we homeschool and I can pretty much say whatever I want, and b) I'm sure that age limit is there to protect the integrity of the chess. He can play chess. He might have been the youngest kid there (unless there were other truth-stretchers or kids bumped up a year), but he played four games and went 2-2, and the two losses were to the same kid who is clearly a chess genius ;o) He is very much looking forward to going again on Monday.

Nate's chess day is also Maya's ballet day! And here are some pictures of the ballerina herself:

She absolutely loved her first class. So did I. Her teacher was awesome - majored in dance in college and is now finishing her masters in teaching, so she is a Dance Teacher. She is also really, really nice and clearly very experienced. She kept those kids (all girls, bummer) busy the entire time and they were all just completely absorbed in the class. Because of the 4th of July holiday, there was no class last Monday which was disappointing, but it's on again on Monday and we're very excited!

And another one - Nate is doing the library's summer Lego club, called Brick Builders. A bunch of Lego lovers get together for an hour on Saturday mornings once a month and build Lego stuff. That was this morning. He seemed to keep to himself this time around, whereas last time he was in a group of other kids. But he was happy!

09 July 2010

Homeschooling stuff SCORE!

So I'm going to start up a family daycare. It's going to be all of the good and none of the dogmatic crap of all of the nice philosophies - Reggio Emilia, Montessori, Waldorf. Basically acknowledging that children are, you know, actual people. More on that later.

Anyway, I have been looking at sample childcare contracts and advertisements and stuff to work out what I want mine to say. The other day I did a search on Craigs List for childcare, but not knowing the site that well, I was searching goods instead of services. So I happened upon an ad for a crapload of awesome stuff that a homeschooling mom (who had run a family daycare) was selling. Loads and loads of resources and learning materials, including stuff that I had actually gone shopping for and not bought because they were too expensive new (Cuisenaire rods, 100s board with multiple sets of numbers). Children's thesaurus and dictionary, a rhyming dictionary, loads of space and constellation stuff, a music curriculum. And on and on and on. Art ideas galore, nature stuff, anatomy stuff. It was a score. I placed my (very substantial) order, recognizing that it was a bit of a coincidence (if you believe in coincidences, which I don't) to find all of this stuff so well priced, right when I'm looking into starting up a childcare.

We picked up our stuff today. It was a bit overwhelming at first, just because of the sheer volume (three boxes) and the lack of places to put it (we're still staying with my mom). I sort of organized stuff into "stuff aimed at the adult" and "stuff aimed at the kids" and left it at that.

After dinner, the kids started poking through and found the 100 board and a set of numbers. They decided to put the numbers in order from 1-100. Here's them at work:

After that set, they did the other set of numbers. Then moved onto one of the three sets of Cuisenaire rods. Ahh, the joy of math (when nobody is forcing you to do it).

Good times.

08 July 2010

Bike safety

One of my first priorities when we got here was to get bikes for the kids (because they wanted them sooooo bad), and that was made urgent by the fact that there are 15+ kids in our cul-de-sac who like to ride bikes around.

My cousin gave us one for Nate that her kids had grown out of (and threw in a little scooter that Maya loves!) and a good friend passed on a Little Mermaid bike for Maya (rapture) and a tricycle with a handle for Eli. Nate needed training wheels since he's never really ridden a bike and is verrry cautious. We happened upon a set of training wheels at a local garage sale for a whopping $1, so that was that sorted. Maya's needed new tubes in the tires and training wheels as well, and we took it to a bike shop for those. Bikes, tick. Then we needed helmets!

My mom had picked up a flier for a cheap bike helmet event at a local church, so we headed over. It turned out to be a completely awesome family bike safety event. There was a bike clinic outside where bike mechanics were doing free tuneups. There was a bike course set up for riding. I didn't realise all of that was happening, so we didn't bring our bikes. We headed inside for the $5 helmets.

There was a series of bike safety areas set up. First stop was talking about different helmets and what they are used for.

Nate thought the (American) football helmet might be a cricket helmet which baffled the helmet woman. I thought it was very cute. They identified the motorcycle helmet and the bicycle helmet.

Next step was watching a helmet in action. The kids packed an egg in stuffing and packed it tightly into the helmet:

Well, most of them did ;o)

Then they dropped them from a great height:

Nate's egg didn't survive the fall which gave the woman an opportunity to talk about how even helmets can't protect against all head trauma, so it's very important to be road-safe.

More stations involved general road rules and safety, and how to tell if a bike is in riding order (tight chain, sturdy handlebars and seat, all in working order). Then it was on to the helmet fitting:

This was great, because I've never fitted a bike helmet and wouldn't have known how to do it properly. The fitters were suitably impressed by the sizes of my childrens' heads (no toddler helmet for my 2 year old's noggin, thank you very much).

And here Nate and Maya are in action after we got home: