Thursday, November 29, 2007

scary school nightmare



How did it come about that such a crazy process like schooling would become necessary? Then I realized that it was something like engineering people — that our society doesn’t only produce artifact things, but artifact people. And it doesn’t do that by the content of the curriculum, but by getting them through this ritual which makes them believe that learning happens as a result of being taught. — Ivan Illich, Deschooling Society

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Day of Hell

After an excruciating day at home where Bastian played with batteries and spilled an entire ill-gotten bottle of massage oil on himself, I decide the kids need to get out of the house. We manage to do so, though getting into the library involves a lot of screaming on Bastian's part because we can't take cookies inside. He quiets down upon seeing the toys and we have a nice few minutes. First, he puts some puzzles together.This one is ironically called, "At School."
He's really pretty good at puzzles. He's been doing ours at home a lot too. They're the only thing he'll help pick up and he usually dumps them right back out again.
After a fish puzzle, we look at the real fish in the tank.
Aleks plays puppets with some other kids. He even avoids making the puppets fight, miraculously and they just talk to each other, saying silly things and play slightly rough.
I work my butt off to get this awesome floor puzzle of the United States put together. The kids help a bit, though it's a pretty advanced puzzle with so many oddly-shaped pieces. We talk about where we live (Ohio) and where we used to live (Montana), as well as who Lewis and Clark were and where exactly Alaska is.
The fun only lasts so long. Both boys run off from the children's section, don't help me pick out books, get really impatient in the adult audio visual section, run off some more, scream some more, then Aleks insists that he wants no videos and didn't get to pick out books, which is really hard to do as Bastian keeps trying to run off and I'm carrying a purse, coats, hats, scarves, mittens, and a really heavy load of picture books. Bastian runs all the way upstairs while we check out and I lose my temper. He screams on the way out too.

Once in the car, I apologize and take them to Tommy's for dinner to make up for it. They are both really well behaved the whole time. Bastian has a little trouble getting ice out of his glass with a fork, though is mostly successful. He makes me read the same story Whatever Happened to the Dinosaurs (interestingly, a question Aleks asked just the day before, which led us to this article and a settlement on climate change) three times before our food comes.

After Tommy's, there is more screaming at Mac's Backs, then screaming crossing the street to City Buddah for Papa's holiday gift, which is closed, so there is more screaming crossing the street back to Big Fun instead. Big Fun involves more mama torture with more running off, more screaming, and indecision galore about what to get for Papa for the winter holidays. I gently persuade the boys away from Star Wars action figures knowing that these will just end up in their collection rather than on Papa's desk at school. I won't let on as to what we got in the end because Papa will then find out. Bastian also insisted we get our picture taken in the photo booth, which went off for eight photos instead of just four and the pictures turned out really dark, unfortunately.

We finally made our way home (with more screaming on exiting Big Fun) and the boys watched the movie I picked out for them at the library, Ewoks. All was finally quiet and I made Papa put them to bed.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Caffeine Junkie

While I do the morning dishes, Bastian puts the coffee maker back together. If only he could make the coffee, I'd be all set.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Knights of the Coffee Table

The boys got hold of my size 13 vintage aluminum knitting needles to use as swords. Aleks got the brilliant idea to use pot lids for shields. Eventually the needles were deemed too dangerous for such use and hidden away, but they got a couple of days worth of pretending to be medieval soldiers out of it. Bastian stakes his claim on the coffee table. Both boys ferociously announce their courage and honor...or something.

Our camera is totally screwed up, so there's lots of fuzz on this video, but you can still hear ok. Just keep the volume low. I'm so sorry.

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After much fighting, Aleks made drums out of the pot lids and drumsticks of the knitting needles.
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Afterwards, Aleks constructs a Lego dragon, presumably to slay.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Into the Woods

We took another walk in the woods because the weather was nice (briefly). It was Papa's late night at school, so it was just me and the boys. First, they run off down the path and it's evening, so the images are all blurry...
Bastian then jumps from every single stair. Bends his knees:
Pushes off:
Flies through the air:
And lands:
Then he walks a balance beam, green ray gun from Big Fun on election day in hand, as is normal these days.
Aleks crosses the bridge, asks me about trolls. I remind him they're in stories.
Aleks tells me there are fish in the stream, which he would like to catch, but I don't see any and besides, he's vegetarian.
The boys leave the path, meaning that I have to leave the path to make sure they don't tumble down the steep terrain. I carry Bastian up from halfway, nearly sliding down myself.

Shortly after this, I lose Aleks in the woods for about 7-ish minutes, scarring the bejeebus out of me. A teenage girl hiking hadn't seen him and seemed uninterested in helping me. I turn around for one minute to help Bastian come back to the path and Aleks is just gone! Once I find him, we make our way back to the end of the trail where the lean-to was and find four lean-tos instead. We try to help build one of them up, but then it really starts to get dark and I decide better to leave than not be able to see our way back to the parking lot, even if this strip of woods is really small. After having already lost Aleks, I'm a bit snappish with them both, trying to hurry back to the car and get us out of the woods already. We make it back with enough light to still just barely see in front of us and head to the co-op for groceries for dinner. Whew!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Pew Pew

Bastian is now incessantly using his green ray gun that he got at Big Fun on election day to shoot anything and everything he can. He already had the sound effects down from watching Aleks play Star Wars Lego Video Game, and tended to make any two things he found battle it out, be they cars, action figures, pumpkins, or empty vitamin bottles. Now he participates with his whole self, battling Papa almost daily.
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Super Secret Falls

Papa took us to Cataract Falls, which border Slavic Village as well as what seems to be the most post-industrial wasteland ghetto in Cleveland. He was introduced to the park on a recent field trip for his environmental history class.The falls are really quite lovely. When we first arrived, a train passed by on the tracks directly over the upper river.
The boys take a moment to observe.

I've never actually seen a real sign like this. The train tracks only go two ways, but this still seemed necessary. This is directly above the far side of the falls from the viewing bridge.
Aleks and Bastian had both fallen asleep in the car on the way there, and Aleks was insistent that he collect his Lego catalog he'd left in the car. He tried to sneak off to get it by himself, despite not having the keys and there being a parking lot to cross through. Papa had to chase him.
He came back with some acorns in his pocket.
Which he launched into the falls.
And watched sail away.
Mama and a perplexed Lambchops face.
Papa gazing into the watery depths.
On the way back up the stairs, Aleks wondered about eating these berries. I didn't think that was a good idea. Still can't seem to find out what kind of tree this is...

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The falls were moved to make way for the railroad! How crazy it is to think how humans have shaped their world!

The site used to have a mill. Aleks sits brooding about his Lego catalog atop the millstones.

There's a nice wildflower garden down a walkway with some more history and a different view of the falls. There's some really nice art too, including this fence-like structure, clearly done by the same artist who created the garden borders in Coventry, Brinsley Tyrrell (on a side note, finding that name was quite an endeavor, but I found out that the Tree Cozy I always admire is actually called Tree Cozy!!!!!).

Jon, in his usual good humor, thought it great to throw burrs at me. Again.
Argh!!!
So of course, Bastian joins in.
Bastian takes care to actually place a burr on my wool coat.
He grasps a burr threateningly.
Papa throws them at all of us, though, landing a few on Bastian's wool sweater and corduroy-enclosed butt.
Then Aleks comes back from having run off and joins in too. le sigh.
Oh they all just think they're so funny!
The evening light is really nice though.
I'm the only one who will take a photo of me, apparently.
I point out to Aleks how the wildflower field spills its water across the pavement down towards the river.
He keeps throwing burrs and ignores me.
He pulls a burr off himself...
And throws it at me.
We discover a fat caterpillar on the way out. We talk about how it will change into a butterfly one day.
I attempt a family portrait and though the light is gorgeous, Aleks looks away, trying to get back to the caterpillar.