Friday, June 27, 2008

Folk Art Fest

I had a nice plan in place. Get to the Folk Art Festival on the National Mall early, stay for a couple of hours and leave before the heat set in.

Katie and Zack had other ideas.

First, We were to meet friends at 10am. Traffic was unexpectedly thick and spaces that used to be public free parking around the mall are now marked as permit only, so we met more like 10:30. It was pleasantly cool out, and the place was pretty empty--perfect! Then the info booth woman told us the fest started at 11am--not perfect! But not terrible either. We went into the Castle and enjoyed the air conditioning for a while.

It was hotter at 11am and lots of people had sprung out of the ground. We still had a great time at the Bhutan family tent making prayer wheels (please spin clockwise) and the temple where Zack listened to and watched the playing of two long silver horns and Katie and Abby waited for a monk to tie colorful strings on their wrists (have to look up what that means).

We went over to NASA and the girls launched balloon rockets to Mars and Saturn and the kids all waited for a LONG time in line to sit in the cockpit of a fighter jet and talk to a test pilot.

Right to plan, our friends left to grab some food and go home.

However, Katie and Zack were no where near the end of their visit. I headed back to the car to feed the meter and put the prayer wheels away. I also grabbed the large umbrella for portable shade in the increasing heat. Zack thought the umbrella would look foolish, but I preferred cool shade to looking cool.

We ended up staying another two hours as the temp rose to 90 degrees! But they had a lot of fun seeing everything at NASA and stomping grapes at Texas wine making, good for cooling off hot feet. I wish I could have done it. Katie knew just what to do with her skirt for the stomping, having seen Lucy do it on TV!

We've gone to the festival for several years now but this is the first time K&Z really wanted to see everything and took the lead on a lot of what we did. It was great.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Shared Experiences

Today, while Katie was at her art class, Zack looked over books I had taken out of the library last week. [Having random items around the house to pique kids' interest is called strewing in unschooling lingo.]

He was looking at a body book and I picked up the philosophy book. He then took an interest in that book and we had a nice conversation about the ancient Greeks, philosophy, science and ethics. We talked about why the Pythagorean theorem was important, why you can't step in the same river twice, a bit about cloning and tabula rasa and a few other bits and pieces about the Greeks. I mentioned I'd been a philosophy major in college.

A great unschooling moment right? Yes! But when this happens when one of the kids is missing, I always feel badly and am tempted to recreate the conversation later for the missing child. These recreations always flop since I'm the one then forcing info onto the child who was absent rather than spontaneously chatting with an interested child. So, this time I made an effort to let it go and trust that if Katie wants to know about philosophers later on, she will bring it up.

But it's hard to resist the urge to "teach!"

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

On to Double Digits

The tent came down from the dining room in about three days, it dried out surprisingly well!

I threw together several Girl Scout meetings while working long hours but we got a good deal of badge work done. Most of the girls earned about 6-8 badges this year and a good number of patches. I won't be leading the troop next year, since our plans are so up in the air about the RV trip, so not sure where Katie will be going for GS. The older cadette troop at the local school seems to have fallen apart and there are really only two girls remaining in the current Jr. troop. However, the only thriving homeschool troop is in Reston, which is a haul and also full of girls that Katie would never see any other time. Will wait until the fall to make any decisions.

Zack moved up to Weblos II last night. Sadly, it rained on the celebration/pool party and the guys never got to swim. It's been a pretty rainy season for the Boy Scouts lately. We also got massively rained on at last weekend's yard sale and that night's camp out was canceled. The rain did hold off on the one event I agreed to plan for the boys, a nature walk. We got to see a fox den, which was fun. We also got surprised by a snake, which was fun for some, but not for all!

The two weeks leading up to my work event was hectic and Katie and Zack were real troupers about keeping themselves busy and bending with the ever-changing schedule around conference calls.

We were able to make it to most of our activities--TKD, Katie's ice skating lessons and practice (Zack comes to practice too, nice group of kids and a HS discount), Scouts, Art class and a few play dates here and there. We also managed to take the CAT test and send it in to be graded. The kids passed with flying colors and so are now 5th graders!

Katie skating

Zack Skating

The event I'd been working on, PBS Showcase, was in Palm Desert. I dropped the kids off at my folks on May 8, then took three flights to CA. Got to see Aunt Fran, Uncle Mike and Richard in Palm Desert, which was a nice break from the hotel and conference. Got back to NC on 5/15. Headed home again on 5/17.

The plan was to stop off at my friend who cuts our hair in her downstairs salon and then go home with fresh cuts. Unplanned was the discovery of nits in our heads YIKES! So, instead of a nice cut and a relaxing few days after all the work and travel, instead we headed home to nitpicking, vacuuming, laundry and more laundry, pesticides and putting lots of toys in bags.

Then it was two weeks of laundry every day, looking through heads and more vacuuming. The house looks great though.

During that ordeal, it was great to get away for the kids' 10th birthday trip to NYC. They had agreed to this trip in lieu of a party. We took Katie to the pinnacle of all girldom--the American Girl Place. Zack gamely went to breakfast at the store with us and was very relieved to see that he was not the only brother in the room. We looked around the entire store and Katie spent every cent of the birthday money from us and from Aunt Carrie and Uncle Phil.

Payback for Zack was a meal at Jekyll and Hyde's a restaurant in the Village where, every 10 minutes or so, one of the statues on the wall does a little show. We were pleased to be there for the Frankenstein monster to lower down from the ceiling. We were also glad that we had that lunch on our first day. Overnight, a nearby water main broke and tangled up that part of town for the rest of the weekend. We also went to the big Toys R Us in Times Square so Zack could spend his birthday money, which he did. We also rode the ferris wheel inside the store.

There's never enough time to do all we want to in NYC, but we did go to Economy Candy (and have been all hyped up on sugar ever since), the Doughnut Plant, rode the Staten Island Ferry to see the Statue of Liberty, walked around SoHo and had dinner in Little Italy. Sadly, that dinner was very late and Zack's stomach objected to it that night. :-p Zack felt better the next day so we went to the Central Park Zoo for a while before driving home. It was nice to have the hotel wash our bed linens for a weekend too!

Katie having breakfast with her American Girls

Zack with a friend at the Toys R Us

On the Staten Island Ferry

Hatching out of turtle eggs at Central Park

Meanwhile, back in NC, my dad was having his carotid artery cleaned out. His surgery went well, despite a slight complication, but they had to change their plans to travel to us and the Ebel's in June :-( Hoping their travel plans for July will remain unchanged.

We're kind of back to our "normal" routine now. Finishing out the school-year activities with Scouts and such. We'll continue with Art and TKD through the summer. Katie will be going to sleep away Girl Scout camp right after July 4th and Zack will be going to sleep away Boy Scout camp in August. Pete's band tour starts June 25 for two weeks.

We are trying to keep the lawn trimmed and the weeds at bay in the yard and I'm still thinning out our things in preparation for the RV trip. And then there's the ivy, the downstairs bathroom, the painting, the never-ending basement cleanup and a million other projects to keep us busy for the summer and beyond.

Hope the sun is shining on you and the summer is long.