Thursday, August 7, 2008

Sliding into fall

It just seems like the summer never really started for us, and now we're planning school and fall activities.

Yup, that's right, school (brrr.) O has decided to take a spot offered him at a model school program being developed at a nearby university. It's an environmental science-oriented, but supposed to be largely self-directed program for gifted, non-traditional students. The non-traditional aims at students who come from low-income, inner city, single parent or aboriginal families, and since he hits all 4 criteria, coupled with the kind of self-directed work he's been doing on his own for years, the school is drooling to recruit him.

They will have access to the high school program that has been run by this uni for years, all the labs, profs and resources of a small, but major university, plus grant money up the wazoo. They will only take in 20 students per year, so have put in grant applications to get each student a Mac Book, something that may have helped sell O on the program, plus funding and support for self-directed studies. The teacher hired for the program is very excited at O's Japanese obsession and wants O to teach him any Japanese words and phrases he's learned.

I've had too many experiences with self-directed learning programs with gov't funding to really believe it will be the program they are telling us it is. But O wants to go, wants to have more structure, wants to get out of the house, wants to guarantee acceptance at the university of his choice (as opposed to finding our way through a very uncharted unschooling-to-university route here in Mb.) So here's where we are. A totally unschooled teen who is choosing to attend formal school, take formal extra-curricular classes (bass guitar and Japanese language classes.) Who woulda thunk it? Especially considering this is a kid who, up until a year or two ago, didn't really want to go anywhere that would require pants, let alone a studious effort (for the record, he went out in shorts, not the Full Monty, we got over that phase years ago.)

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Weekend plans

O is still sleeping off the trip, or is it just the regular teenage boy stuff that has him sleeping 16 hours a day? Since I've been working so much, and O's been sleeping so much, we haven't had a whole lot of time together. This is a long weekend in Canada, and, as the new guy at work, of course I'm working the crappiest shifts, so I'm really looking forward to Monday when we can go out for the evening together. O wants to see The Dark Knight, hope it's as good as the hype, then we're going to check out a new Portuguese place called O Tacho. O loves Portuguese food, at least what he's had of it so far, thick chorizo and bean stews, squid as many ways as possible. Really, I think he should have been born a Mediterranean fisherman, he loves loves loves every Mediterranean cuisine he's tried so far.

I stayed up a bit late with O yesterday, to squeeze in some precious time together. He gave me a quick crash course in Japanese honorifics again, explaining why it's so hard to directly translate the term Mrs. into Japanese (san is the generic term used, but is gender neutral.)

O's also very happy to discover that his favorite bass tab sites are up and running again and has been busily practicing the theme to Tetris. I suspect that I will get tired of this long before he does. Next up, I'm assuming, will be the Mario Bros. theme song. I suspect, also, that the band he is forming will be an all-video game and anime theme song cover band. I guess there is a niche there somewhere, lol.

Friday, August 1, 2008

We're back!

I'm back online (turns out the puter just needed a good virus cleaning) and O's back from his long haul trip across 4 provinces and 4 states.

I'm working too much in the next few weeks to post a good long tale of the trip, but here's a short observation from O:

After seeing so many roadside shanties selling everything from apples to fish, O was a little non-plussed to see, dotting the highways outside of Seattle, small mom and pop, roadside latte and cappuchino shacks. Too funny.

Friday, July 18, 2008

'nother quick update

Still off the net, mostly, but hoping to have the comp up and running soon. I've been working too much to even miss my daily surfing time. O is currently in Victoria, attending a family wedding. This month we are learning how to function apart. Well, O isn't having much trouble, it's me who's learning how to be a single person again.

O is gone for another 2 weeks, taking a long road trip with the family. I'm staying home to work, with some yoga, shopping and writing time thrown in. I can't wait till O is back to show me what he picked up in BC (he was sooo looking forward to shopping in Chinatown in Vancouver and hitting the Japanese shops), and to talk about all the things he's done.

I went to my first Folk Fest alone, not nearly as dreary a time as I would expect, despite being the coldest, wettest Folk Fest in at least 20 years. Spent much time on the volunteer bus, but kept sitting down next to the Red Stick Ramblers, who played and drank the whole ride home, much fun.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Quick update

Things have been chugging along nicely in the real world. Now that our puter is down, O and I have remembered that there actually is a real world out there. We've both been reading all those books we've been putting off for months, hanging out together more, and going Outside (I know, frightening though, but there's a whole world out there!)

O's gotten into a new anime big time, Code Geass, about an alternate future Japan that's been taken over by the evil empire of Britannia, and an exiled member of the Britannian royal family who leads a terrorist/rebel group. It's launched a lot of discussions about WWII, colonialism, and terrorism. Being anime, there's also an odd alien character who's a hot chick with an obsession for pizza. Shrug, I don't get it either.

O's mostly been busy lately decorating his room, getting ready for his trip this summer (he's opted to go on a road trip this July with my sister, instead of going to Folk Fest, so he'll be out of town for a month without me, sniff, sniff), and plugging away at his bass and his basic Japanese language books. He also announced the other night that he's going to start writing regularily (?!?!?!?) and wants to work at journalling daily (double ?!?!?!?!?). He's even mulling over having me go over his stories with him and teaching him a bit of basic writing stuff (ok, there aren't enough questions marks to express my shock and amazement at this, the last story he wrote he's never been willing to even show it to me.)

Football season is starting soon, sooner than O expected. His team starts practicing tomorrow night and has their first exhibition games at the end of this month. He's really regretting not hitting the gym all winter now. He's moved from the community club level to the midget league, much more competitive, especially at the club he's playing for, and it's going to be a bit of a shock to the system for him this month.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

My poor 'puter

Having computer trouble, it's just seized up and died. Too much anime and manga I think. I'll be doing updates from work, when I can, until I can get the computer up and running again. I think we're going to need a whole new operating system, and probably an upgrade on the graphic card and cooling system, at least. Hopefully it won't take too long, but it's oddly nice to not be wired up for a while.

O has filled his days, formerly spent mostly online watching the aforementioned anime and mange, by buying more anime and manga. Big surprise, lol. He's decided, though, now that he's spending more time in his room with his friends, that he just can't stand the mess anymore and has vowed to pare his possesions down to what will fit in one medium-sized box. I sometimes don't know who this kid is anymore ;)

O's latest interest, actually, a interest re-ignited, is Go, a game he's been playing for a few years now, but he's recently decided to start playing a lot more and a lot more seriously. The American Go Association has some great resources for teaching Go, and O has decided he wants to put together some workshops to teach Go and maybe pick up a few playing partners. He's going to put on a few one day workshops for local people, and for hsers, and is looking into starting up a regular Go night at a local cafe/used bookstore.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Oh how things have changed

Just been rereading the blog here. I didn't realize I've been doing this for over a year now, and I had kind of forgotten just how frustrated I was getting with O there for a while. We went through about a year where things were not great. Not bad, really, but I felt we were just kind of disconnected and I didn't quite know what to do with him, and how to parent him.

As always, I have to worry non-stop about every little thing, am I doing the right thing? Is homeschooling still the right choice for him? etc etc etc... I couldn't figure out if things really needed working on, or he was just going through a transitional phase. And of course, hindsight is 20/20 and I knew that the disconnect and not-quite-working-out kind of phase we were in together wouldn't last, but I do have to have my worries.

Looking back over the last year, it's amazing to me just how much maturing O has done. Ok, he still thinks "Monkey Butter" is the funniest combination of words possible in the English language, but in many (non-monkey related) ways, he really seems so much more mature and composed.

I used to worry a lot (a common theme here, you'll see) that O was a little too malleable, that I could too easily sway him to hold my opinions or see things my way, and that I had to be really careful not to impose my own will on him too much. I worried that he could change his mind so quickly and easily, and I worried about how I could teach him more constancy. Cause, you know, I don't really have enough to do, so I have to find parental worries.

Of course, again, I should have realized that inner strength and constancy isn't something that is taught, but is learned (and I'm learning that this goes for just about everything else.) He's become so much his own person, so quickly. He argues with me, backs up his opinions, sometimes sways me (and no, we don't only debate stuff like the great Han Solo/Boba Fett debate.) It really amazes me lately how much he knows his own mind and his self and how confident he is in both, in both large and small ways.

It's such a bittersweet joy for me, though, watching him in the final phases of his childhood. I really liked, nay, profoundly loved, having a little kid in my life. As far as I'm concerned, there is no "bad age" and each enfolding step in his development was fascinating and joyous for me. Unlike almost all my friends apparently, I loved the 2's and 3's (most of my mom buddies would never go back to the toddler years for any amount of money), but I love how completely in the moment and engaged with the world 2yos are. How seeing a squirrel could give O such incredible joy, how a construction site was possibly the most exciting thing ever!

I never looked forward to a time when he wouldn't be completely dependent on me. I never looked forward to daycare or school as "time off." I deeply loved our hsing time spent tramping the river trail, looking for raccoon tracks and water birds. I never found playing pirate or space man boring. And I am soooo not ready for this to come to an end.

But O is not dependent on me anymore, not really. He even has a job and his own money. He knows how to cook, clean and do the basics of taking care of himself (better than many adults I know.) And I've been fighting this a bit, I think. But I'm finding that, once again, when I let go of my expectations and my wants, and just engage with O and enjoy him, that I'm finding a much more subtle joy in mothering a teen.

Because, as much as he's a pretty independent, pretty confident, pretty self-contained person, he still does need me, in new and more challenging ways. And while it's been frustrating to work out this process, it's a whole new aspect of parenting opening up to me, challenging me to learn how to be his mom. And I love nothing more on earth than that.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

gotta love those Winnipeg anarchists

Spent the afternoon today at the Bike Dump, a free, volunteer run bike repair workshop. I fixed my bike up in a jiffy (all I needed from last year was a tweak on my seat, it kept tipping forward) but O's old bike (not all that old, I bought it at the start of last summer) is in a woeful state. One of the crank rods was bent, the crank itself was cracked, his seat is tippy and dangerous too, his back tire is bent, the gears don't really work and the brakes work too well.

O put about 3 hours into fixing the bike up well enough to ride today, while I did a quick snack shop at Sun Wah, a nearby Chinese grocery store (and one of my favorite places ever.) It didn't really work out too well for him, he and the Bike Dump volunteer got a new crank and rod on, but neglected to check the attachment hole before putting it all together, so O wound up riding home on a pedals that were at a 45 degree angle (or 135 degree angle, if you look at it the other way) rather than the standard, usable, 90 degrees. I thought he was going to throw the bike by the end of our ride home.

No big deal, though, since the Bike Dump has frames and cannibalized parts to put together a new bike for him later in the week. He needs a bigger bike than he's got right now, he's not freakishly big (6'2"), but his current bike, which has the largest mountain bike frame available (26") looks like a clown bike when he's on it right now. He's picked out another 26" frame, but it's a very sturdy ten speed frame, and with any luck, he'll be able to find a seat with a very, very long post next week, either at the Dump, or at a bike supply shop (we may have to pony up the dough for a new part), so it'll be more comfortable to ride.

The Bike Dump is part of an a loose anarchist collective that includes Mondragon, the Emma Goldman Grassroots centre, and Food not Bombs. And what a beautiful example of anarchism in action it is. The space is run by volunteers, runs on donations of both cash and supplies, there are volunteers available to help fix or build bikes, from mechanical experts, to people who've just learned how to change a tire and are eager to teach someone else their new skill. Tools and supplies are organized in freecycled bins and milk boxes, no one is in charge, everyone reminds everyone to put things back where they belong, jumps in to help out with a particularly frustrating repair.

I've had a few discussions over on MDC about the connection between unschooling and the punk anarchist DIY ethic, and this place was such a great example of the open sharing of skills, labour and supplies that I think typifies both worlds at their best.

Top 10 most bad ass people ever

After watching Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back last night on tv, and having a long and (as always) pointless debate over who's cooler, Boba Fett or Han Solo (guess who's side I was on), O decided to write up a list of the 10 most bad ass people ever. Since most of the "people" on his list are fictional characters, we're taking the term people pretty loosely here.

In order:

1. Boba Fett

2. Captain Falcon

3. Chewbacca

4. L

5. Bruce Lee

6. Zolo O's note: his name is
Zolo, NOT Zoro (emphasis O's, not mine, lord knows I wouldn't know a Zoro from a hole in the ground)

7. Han Solo (ahem... 7? I don't think so)

8. Fonzie

9. Genghis Khan (seriously, he conquered most of Asia, and he's behind the Fonz?)

10. Samus

Honorable Mention:

Admiral Ackbar

Thursday, April 10, 2008

O's business card

I'm mildly speechless

Thursday, April 3, 2008

ahh, a day off and springtime

I had what had to be one of the single most stressful days of my life at work yesterday (lets just say that the fact that I only got one hour of sleep because of inventory that had to be done between back to back events was probably one of the better parts of the day, yeesh) so I took a complete sabbatical from responsibility today. Slept until noon (actually, 12:30pm), watched an episode of Spaced (again, O complained that I've already seen it a dozen times at least), and then we went out to run errands and do shopping.

O got his hair cut (hence the picture.) It was down past his chin, largely because he just hates having his hair cut, so it's nice to see his face again. The upside, too, is that now his sideburns are very noticeable, something he's deeply, deeply impressed with (as the only 14 yo in his acquaintance with luxurious sideburns, he's pretty stoked.) We then went to buy some anime and manga at the Japanese gift store, yet another new series, D.Gray-Man. Then we headed off to the library to pick up some books on basic Japanese, Kanji, and some learn to play bass dvd's. O's pretty happy, and will be well-occupied for weeks to come.

Speaking of well-occupied, huge thanks to Michael who sent me a link to GIMP, exactly the free, open license image editing program O needed to do Manga typesetting. He got his 5 page sample manga test 2 days ago is already half way through typesetting the translation, and is learning how to use the software really quickly.

And now, for some more Spaced:

Sunday, March 30, 2008

O's new hobby

O installed an IRC client on the computer this week (don't even ask me what this is, he took over being the technical person in the house when he was, oh, 6 or so.) Basically, though, it allows him to go into chat channels, very, very specific channels. Being O, he went straight to scanlation house channels, and has volunteered himself to do typesetting for his favorite houses.

So now he's shopping around for a cheap version of photoshop, or, preferably, a creative commons, open source version, to teach himself to typeset. Only this kid would dream of typesetting--when he took acting classes as a little kid, the teachers loved him because he was the only kid who didn't want to be the lead actor, he wanted to pull the curtain, make props and do sound effects. For an instrument, he chose the bass. He's totally the behind-the-scenes, indispensable but unnoticed kind of guy. I love the fact that he knows who he is and what he wants better than a lot of 40yos that I know.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The half-assed band

O and his buddies want to put a band together (for the chicks, I'm guessing, though B may be in it for the sheer rock glory.) Since none of them can play their instruments, and none of them play drums (they've got 2 guitars, 1 bass and a fiddle), they are talking about naming the band Three and a Half Asses.

I am, unfortunately, responsible for this name. When B was describing how he could "half-assed play guitar, half-assed sing, half-assed play banjo, etc." I told him he had about 3 and 1/2 asses between them all. They all immediately decided that this was the perfect band name. I can only hope that I will not be mentioned in some future Spin magazine article.

Went to see TOFU today (Tons of Fun University, yeah, worst band name evah! but they rock, or, more specifically, talk-rock) then went for Shawarma and falafel.

TOFU at the Regina Folk Fest (not the Winnipeg show where I first saw them):

Monday, March 17, 2008

Curling, hockey and Untalkative Bunny

Our life has been hijacked by an odd Canadian obsession, curling, specifically, the Brier, the Canadian mens championship and probably the largest curling event in the world, hosted, this year, at the arena where both O and I work. Now we have some back to back concerts and the end of the hockey season. School, and life, will resume after playoffs, hopefully!

Anyhoo, O and I had a day off today and spent it lounging luxuriously, watching kids tv and generally being lazy. We suddenly got the urge to watch Untalkative Bunny, one of the most sublimely genius kids shows ever, about a mute,vegetarian, jazz loving, urban bunny. And someone on You Tube has uploaded all of the shows available, so we're going to be going on an Untalkative Bunny spree for the next few months.

One thing that struck me was how much of an unschooler UB is, she's always reading, listening to jazz or the radio, and signing up for courses that sometimes she likes, and sometimes she doesn't and she just leaves. I love UB!

Here's a fave of mine, and I think quite suitable for an unschooling oriented blog:

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Yoga day

O is totally burned out on football (at his size, it's the first thing most people bring up), so I gave him a list today of some things he can choose from for a regular physical activity (none is not an option, though he did try to argue for it, lol)

Not surprisingly, since it's about -30 today, he choose to do yoga with me in the MPR. It's going to be a challenge to do some of the poses with him. He's just soooo big, he just physically can't do some movements, especially his legs. Even at a lower weight, he's just not going to be able to do some of these poses. His whole bone structure is so big (his knee cap is about as big as my face), I'm going to have to find ways to adapt poses for him pretty radically.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Ahh, relaxation

Spent most of the morning, vegging on the couch and watching the NFL Combine live online. It was the O-line and Tight Ends today, but O didn't wake up early enough to watch it. Too bad, he would have loved to see guys his size running the 40 yard dash.

O has repeatedly told me that he needs, and I'm quoting here, me to kick his butt and make him exercise. So I did just that today and made him come out for, what was for him, an early morning walk. At 3pm, hehe. We went down onto the river skate trail again today, it was just gorgeous out, Winnipeg in February gorgeous, 3 below or so. O was not a happy camper at first, but perked up towards the end, and seems much more energetic today for it. I'd like to sit down with him later today and make up a list of fitness goals and agree on a plan together.

On the way home, we stopped at the library to pick up our holds, and the Dr. Who dvd we've been waiting for is in! O is on the next to last mission in Fire Emblem and we have a Dr. Who marathon before us (not Christopher Eccleston or Tom Baker Dr. Who, but still Dr. Who all the same.) What a fabulous day.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Another shopping trip survived

Well, we couldn't find a coat big enough for O, and he literally hissed when passing the changing rooms (what is it with the damn change room?), and 3 cabs were stolen from me on the way home from Superstore, but we finally managed to come home. O kept me from going completely insane in Stupidstore, and I thanked him for coming with me (and he commented "now I know why you wanted me to come with you, to stop you from killing someone") I don't know what it is about my ass that proves magnetically attractive to other people's shopping cart, but I can never get through a Stupidstore trip without being rammed at least twice. Sheesh.

When we got home O showed me what he and his best friend had been up to while I went to see Juno with B. They built a facebook page for Chewbacca. He then spent most of the evening taking quizes (Chewy is Catwoman!)

I've taken 4 days off from work so far, and will probably only go into to work for a few hours tomorrow. I really don't have much to do besides the scheduling, so I can take as much time off as I want. Everytime I take time off I'm reminded of how much living I'm missing out on when at work. I'm still really torn about quitting my job, I do really love it, and I'd still have to work, at a crappier job, but probably for more money. I miss my kid, though. Today I wound up napping in O's bed while he played Fire Emblem on the Wii, we hung out and talked and he was so happy to tell me about his game. We really need to have time like that more often.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Today's lesson

Today O and I will be learning all about patience. Patience, tolerance, understanding, respect.

Yes, it's that time of year again.

Time for O to shop for clothes.

Wish me luck.

Better yet, pray for me, that I do not strangle my son when he grabs the first thing he sees, yells "this is fine, lets go!" then spends the rest of the shopping trip trying to sneak away to EB games to play the Xbox and avoid coming within 500 yards of that dreaded form of torture known as the "Changing Room" (said in tones of doom.)

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Schedule vs. flow

Things have not been progressing easily for us this year. With my work schedule, I've been struggling a lot to find a good rhythm for our days. This week I am working 7 days straight, Monday through Sunday, at least 8 hours each day, probably at least 60 hours this week, while next week I could take the entire week off if I choose (and if I can afford it.) This kind of random schedule makes it really hard to have a satisfying rhythm to my day, or to do anything spontaneously. Everything I do has to be laboriously planned out beforehand and too often I don't finish everything I need to do in a day, and rarely get to start on the things I want to do.

Now to be clear, I have absolutely nothing against having a schedule. We've just never really had one because we're more flow people than schedule people. My sister is very much a schedule and structure person, and we've had more than a few "discussions" over our differences. When I have structure imposed externally on me, I feel overwhelmed and out of control. By the same token, my sister feels the same way when she has no structure or schedule going on. I realized that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with any kind of structure or schedule, it's only what works for each person that really matters. And I've always functioned best with a very loose sense of flow, rather than a strict schedule.

But right now, I have no flow, and no end to this in sight. So now it's off to structure land. I just don't know where to start with this, though. I try to figure out a schedule that will work for us, but my hours, and O's well-developed sense of the spontaneous has thrown a wrench in the works every time. Maybe I should be looking more at listing the things that are really important to me and O to get done during the day, prioritize them, and work on reducing impediments to getting our stuff done.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Unschooling math

This is the biggest stumbling block most new hsing parents have about unschooling is math. The idea of anyone willing doing advanced math, on their own, for their own pleasure, is difficult to accept. That's why I loved this site, both for it's illustration of how math is a tool, not a mystical secret, and for it's sheer geekiness. I'd have tried to do this too, if I could do the math.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Homeschooling for free

Every few weeks this comes up on MDC, hsing for free, or at least very, very cheap. The last time it came up I realized that here, at least, I have, sadly, an enormous amount of experience and resources. I've been a single mom from the start, with no child support (O hasn't seen his father since he was 20 months old), not much family support (my parents were immigrants), and no career (at least when I had O.) So, one thing I've learned to do very well over the years is to live frugally and hs using free or used resources.

Since money is an issue for any family, no matter what their circumstances, and nobody wants to be wasteful, I thought I'd start logging in some of the sites I have found most useful over the years.

Ref Desk - this was our home page for many years, where we started our day, and the springboard for many conversations and hours spent searching new information. O is now past the age of wanting mere information, facts, or pictures, so he doesn't use Ref Desk much anymore, he has his own set of reference sites, but it's a great starting point online.

Budget Homeschool - just what it says, an enormous clearing house of links. Some links are broken, and some are trial and error, but it's still very helpful.

Ambleside Online - a free, e-text based, Charlotte Mason curriculum

An Old-Fashioned Education - another free, complete curriculum, based on public domain e-texts. Christian but still useful.

Free Curriculum on the Internet - this is by no means a comprehensive list of free curriculum and educational sites. Anyone with other clearing house type sites, please comment and let me know! I love to collect links (as you may be able to tell.)

Sunday, January 20, 2008

41 Below

That's what the current temperature with wind chill is. For those of you who think in imperial, that's...-42 Fahrenheit. Yup, you learn new things when you live in a deep freeze. One of the things I learned when I first started going online and talking to Americans (and therefore having to translate my wacky Canadian ways of thinking) is that the Celsius and Fahrenheit scales meet up at about -40. So anyway you slice it, -40 is freaking cold!

O is skipping his last day of football camp. I'm none too impressed, but he has had a cough, sore throat and fever since he started camp, and was near tears at the idea of doing 6 hours of blocking and running today, so, there you go.

Something I've struggled a lot with on my hsing journey has been how much to push O. I mean, it's not like I'm making him take piano lessons or something. Helikes football, nay, loves football, wants to play at a high level, aims to play in college and dreams of playing professionally, this is something he wants to do. But he gives up so easily, as soon as he's uncomfortable, or bored, then he regrets having dropped out of what he was doing.

My struggle has been, if I push him, am I imposing my will on him, or supporting him in doing something he wants? If I don't push him, am I teaching him to honour his body and interests, or to quit when the going gets rough. I never know if I'm doing the right thing. Left to his own devices, though, he has gladly spent hours every day in front of the computer, gone weeks without going outside, and gained at least 30 lbs back from last football season. It seems he's shown that he is just not able to push himself to get going.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Football camp

O had his first day back at football training tonight, and his only comment so far has been "I've always taken breathing for granted up till now." Hopefully this is a lesson learned not to spend the entire off season in front of the computer next year. He's way out of shape and is going to have to work hard on his conditioning for a few months at least to be able to participate in practices in time soon.

Speaking of football, O is still mulling over attending school next year, at least for a few courses, in order to participate. The difference in the program between high school football and the community club teams is just so big, plus the reality of having to walk around the really, really, really bad neighborhood where his team would be located is having us both reconsidering school. Plus, the one school he's really interested in has had an hsing student before, and they sound like they might be willing to work with us to develop a program we could both live with.

I really don't want to lose any more family time than I already am with my job, and I really don't want to have some outside authority dictating my family life, and what my son should be interested in, not to mention how much I don't want him becoming bogged down in the social aspects of high school (especially the social aspects of being a high school football player!) But, ultimately, it's his life and therefore his choice, and being on a football team is such a huge motivation to him to get out of the house, to get in shape, and to hold himself responsible to someone other than himself. I don't want to deny him something worthwhile, and something he loves, because I'm attached to hsing.

So, here's the dilemma...can you unschool while attending ps? Here will be the experiment next year, perhaps. Not that we are total unschoolers, but I definitely want to keep the self-directed, interest-led part of our hsing going, and I don't want to see it going down the drain because of fear and neglect (O's fear of looking stupid or lazy to his friends and teachers, and my neglect of his interests because I just don't see him enough.)

He has months to make the decision, but I'm pretty sure he will opt for whatever will let him play the most football, and that is public school. We'll just have to find a way to make this work.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Just call me Cleo

Ok, I just gotta accept that we are, like every other year I've lived in Winnipeg, not really going to go outside again till March. Just deal with it. No sledding trips, no late night skates at the Forks, no hikes down by the river bank. It's 31 freaking below today, that's the high, before wind chill. So just deal with it, we are indoor people for the duration.

Winter in Winnipeg is like childbirth, you don't really remember how bad it is until you're in the middle of it again. Now onward and upward until Spring.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Ah, the magical balm that is football

Feeling much better today. O and I have had more than few little "talks" lately about helping around the house, and I've told him that I will try my best to let him figure our on his own what sort of schedule and routine works for him, but I really, really need more help around the house, and he seems to be trying harder to help out now that I'm not nagging him anymore. Which I knew already, but it's a hell of lot easier to nag than negotiate and discuss, right? ;)

O got out of bed on his own this aft, before 3pm even, with absolutely no input from me! I'm hoping this is a sign of the passing of this new phase. Being awake, coherent and aware before 10pm would really add to variety of activities O and I can participate in, like, say, anything outside of our home. O's getting bummed about missing Anime Club and the once a month Go tourney because he can't get himself moving in time. And since both start at 6pm, he's not getting much sympathy from anyone over this.

Since venting yesterday, I've been thinking about what's been going in with O, and really, it's almost like having a toddler around again, in a way. I knew going in that the early teen years bear similarity to toddler hood, but it's still a bit of a shock. It really is though, I was telling O this afternoon that if he could have articulated his thoughts when he was two, it would have sounded much like his usual reaction to any question right now: "NO!...maybe...hold on a minute...yes...what?" O thought that was hilarious. Just the fact that he can recognize that he's been a little belligerent and a little bit thoughtless lately, hopefully this signals the beginning of a new phase. A phase that doesn't involve staying up all night, hopefully, though I don't hold out much hope that it will involve less monkeys. I think I'm stick with the monkey fixation for the duration.

Today being the start of the 2nd round of NFL playoffs, I decided to go with the O flow, and sleep in, get comfy on the couch, and watched one of the best football games I've ever seen, Packers vs. Seattle, 4 touchdowns and 2 major turnovers in the first quarter alone! And so much snow they had to stop the game to clear the end zone markings, because the line judges couldn't see them anymore under the snow.

Not much to report today (and probably tomorrow neither), O and I will be spending the weekend relaxing and watching football. I guess given enough time, I can come up with an educational spin on a weekend spent completely absorbed in football, but I couldn't really be bothered. After 6 years of hsing, I have learned at least one thing, that rest is as important as work for a growing brain, and to trust O to, eventually, know where he wants to go.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Not so good day

Yesterday was pretty well down the crapper. I went in to work for the Xmas party (yes, it's after Xmas), and what I thought would be an hour or two of basic administrative work, and wound up being stuck in the middle of a firing and new hire of a supervisor and having to mediate and almost translate between my boss, her boss and two other managers (the big bosses in my company have a very bad habit of ambushing managers with disciplinary stuff, usually just as the GM is walking out of the office, and usually, inappropriately, in front of others.)

And my stomach still feels like I've been eating rocks, so I was pretty wiped when I got home. O's sleep has gotten even more ridiculous, he was awake when I got up for work at 10:30am, not having slept all night, and was awake still when I got home at 6pm, and basically had to be ordered to go to sleep at 4:30am. He's messed around so much with his circadian rhythm and body schedule that he no longer recognizes when he's tired, hungry, etc. He's just basically cranky and needy all the time, sigh.

And then, somehow, O managed to re-injure his arm, that's still sore from football 4 months ago, while getting off the couch, and was even bitchier before bed. Sigh.

I just don't know how to get this schedule thing back on track. I'm sooo not a schedule person, and it feels weird and wrong for me to impose my own needs on O's body and self, but this sleeping for 15 hours every, oh, 48 hours or so (in completely random intervals), eating almost constantly, not going outside, and being too cranky/sore/sick/whatever to do any actual housework or pursue any interest, well, it's really unhealthy for him and it's pissing me off beyond belief. I've tried setting goals with him, not setting goals for him, backing off and letting him figure this stuff out for himself, nothing is working in any way that makes our lives livable together. My work schedule is so random too, that we just can't seem to get into a sync with each other. Short of quitting my job, working only Friday and Saturday night as a waitress or bartender, I can't see how this will really work out for us, short-term. I'm soooo sick of either nagging, or of doing everything myself (it took a lot of self-control for me not to blow up on O when he pulled out every single one of his video game cases, again, looking for a game he didn't put back into it's case, again, and left them all spread out on the living room floor, again, not ten minutes after I had picked them up and put them away, for the 6th time that day alone.)

I really don't want to be the nagging mom, but I also can't live my life following O around and picking up after him, when I'm not cooking a meal every 2 hours, doing the dishes so I can make yet another meal, doing his laundry again because he left all his clean clothes on the floor where the cats rolled around in them or peed on them, again.

I guess what I really want is a life of my own back. Geez, teenagers are more work than toddlers (almost, at least he's not nursing anymore, it was so much fun when he'd nurse standing up, and lean over and try to reach the remote, without letting go of my boob! I sooooo don't miss that-you know you're child is ready to wean when he's going through the tv listings while nursing, lol!)

Ok, vent over, now back to your regularily scheduled productivity:

Today's plan is, hopefully, to get down to the Forks, the trip we skipped on Monday because O didn't wake up until 4:30 and was cranky and sleepy until midnight. O wants to check out Muddy Waters Smokehouse for some meat, meat and more meat, and, just to switch things up, some smoked meat. It's pretty pricey for a restaurant where I can't, or won't, eat most of what's on the menu (no sugar, no dairy, no fried foods, whole grains, vegetables, not exactly choices well-represented on this menu), so maybe I'll try to talk him into going to the Village or the Market.

I'm hoping to establish a habit of not turning on the tv or video games until the evening, and spending some quiet time, reading, or talking, or doing something productive. Not that I'm averse to passive entertainment (ah tv: teacher, mother, secret lover!), but all play and no work makes Johnny a very dull, cranky boy indeed. We'll see how my incursions against Big Screen work in my home in the next few weeks.

Then again, it's cold and there's probably something good on tv...


Tuesday, January 8, 2008

College plans, so far

So I'll admit it, I have a problem, I have no control over it, I have been obsessed with O's college plans and opportunities, probably in inverse proportion to O's interest in that very same subject. O is quite content to stay at home and read manga, play video games and chat with friends (which sends me into a frenzy of fear that O will turn into this guy, but that's my own problem, really.)

So, after pulling many, many teeth, figuratively speaking, O and I seem to have worked out a workable plan for his college entry.

My biggest concerns have been that I just don't think O will be ready for university at 18 on the dot, considering he's almost 15 now and seems to have so much more childhood in him. He just doesn't really know what he wants to study or if he even really wants to go and I really don't want him taking out a student loan to figure this stuff out (he has all the time in the world at home to find himself.)

His big concerns have been understanding enough math to get into Engineering or Science, and where he will play football. The whole high school football thing is still an issue (O can only play on a school team if he is a "bona fide" student of the school, Manitoba High School Athletics rules, not school rules, grrr), so his choices are to enroll in high school, at least for 3 or 4 classes, in order to qualify to play football (he may be able to play rugby, since that's not a MHSA sport), or to play for the midget team in our catchment area.

Now I really, REALLY don't want him playing for this midget team. Last year, in the bantam age group (the oldest of the youth football age groups), this team was the worst in terms of dirty play, deliberately trying to injure star players to take them out of the game, and the parents were a nightmare. Almost every single parent behavior incident in the whole league were the fault of this one team's parents. This included an incident where a ref was physically threatened and almost assaulted. I really don't want to be part of this organization, and neither does O, but his old team does not have a midget level team (most players go to the local high school teams, which are very competitive and actively recruit.) His only options are to either go to high school, play for the bad team, or we will have to move into a catchment for a better team. None of these are exactly great options, sigh.

So, after long discussions (on my part, with O mostly trying to redirect the conversation to penguins, or monkeys, or an unholy race of penguin/monkeys--Menguins--with whom he will someday subjugate the earth,) we seem to have decided on something like a plan that will suit both our needs:

1) O will play for the local midget team for 2 years, at which point he can try out for the Winnipeg Rifles and (hopefully) play junior football until he is 21. Bonus is the Rifles are a traveling team and are seen as very desirable experience for college football, so there still may be a small chance of some scholarship money, once he decides to go.)

2) O will apply for the U of M as a mature student at 21, with my fervent hope that the U of M doesn't change any of its requirements for mature student entry in the next 6.5 years. This will mean the most amount of time for O to be a kid, allow both of us to save up some money for tuition and books, and eliminate the need for much documentation on my part. Not that I'm totally averse to documentation, but the U of M's homeschool entry requirements are that we show he has completed the equivalent of all public high school grad standards (and one of the reasons we hs is that I think much of these standards are pointless, at best) and that we demonstrate this with transcripts (official ones), outside classes, photocopies of the table of contents of text books used, etc. This means necessarily having to do much more of a school at home than either O or I are willing to submit to. I really hate the documentation game, too, because I get so caught up in "have we done something today that I can document" that I lose my appreciation for what O is doing right now. It's really pointless to live entirely in the future, trying to prepare for something O doesn't really understand, and I'm not sure if either of us want.

All in all, this whole plan has really helped me to relax from my "we're so far behind" panic, and to remember that I'm only educating O, and he's right on time for who he is. O seems pretty happy with it too, except for the midget team thing, though mostly I think he's happy with the thought of putting off adulthood for at least a few more years ;)

1st day of new term

Not that terms mean much to us on a day to day basis, but it does feel nice to break the year up a bit.

O and I had planned on going to the Forks today, checking out the toboggan run and snowboard hill, and maybe climbing around the riverbank a bit, but that was waaaaay too ambitious for us at the moment. O didn't even wake up until 4pm. And by wake up I mean I poked him, jumped on top of him, and resorted to putting his "breakfast" on his pillow next to his mouth and trying to hand feed him (he didn't enjoy the airplane/hangar game nearly as much as he did when he was a baby.)

I had to wake him up to watch Oprah, though. Dr. Oz was on with an 8ft long tapeworm, and I thought he'd enjoy it. He did.

We wound up spending most of our day indoors, well, I went out to get groceries, I don't think O went out at all today. He's still recovering from his sleepovers this weekend. I think he is using the word "sleep" lightly in these sleepovers. I'm thinking there is way more "Playstationover" or "giddysleepdeprivedMSNtalkover" going on than sleeping.

We watched the BCS championship tonight, LSU wiped the field with Ohio State, just like I had predicted, then got to "work" at around 11pm. I remember my own teen years and going on all night and well into the morning and going to sleep at 7am, but I also had little or no adult supervision of any kind from the age of 12 on, and absolutely no adult direction, so I had thought that my teen years were not very typical. Ok, so O isn't hanging out at the bar every night, and that's a very good thing, but this staying up all night, sleeping all day is getting pretty damn annoying to me (and yes, it kills me to say this, yet another sign that I'm getting so old.)

Anyway, we did have a pretty good night, once it got going. I've decided to back off a bit on the assigned work, and just let things kind of develop organically, and focus on exposing O to new and interesting things, and trying to spark a dialog about the stuff we're exploring. We're still reading 20.000 Leagues Under the Sea, read ch. 22 today, O wanted to do that last, but I wasn't sure if I could stay awake long enough to do that, so I read it first and O nearly fell asleep on the couch. I'm thinking tomorrow I'll do what he asks and read it last. We then plotted out some of the Nautilus' voyage on Google Earth. Then we read the New York Times online, an article about Greenland's melting glaciers. This sent us back to Google Earth, since they've put in a layer on environmental changes. O commented that when Google Earth first went up it only had 5 year old shot of Greenland, but with the new update, there are newer images and he could see the glacial melting at a glance, at least a few hundred miles of coast line. The shots of Greenland were pretty low res, though, so I went over to the Himalayas, where the flow of glaciers are really dramatic.

We moved on to reading the Guardian online, read through some music festival reviews and found an act that we both really like, Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip, described as Essex's most hirsute performance poet, and I can't think of a more accurate description. Thous Shalt Always Kill is my new favorite song.

Oh yeah, earlier we spent some time checking out Jimmy Wales new search engine Wikia Search.