Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Today was a Good Day

After successful recoveries from the week long virus, today the kids and I resumed our exploratory outings.  Oh how nice it was to get some air out there.  Our Mondays together usually take on an unschooling like feel.  I sometimes plan in advance where we will go, but only when I'm really itching to check out something new.  Today I had no idea.  I just knew that we had to get out of the house.  I was essentially, looking to them to lead. Unfortunately, just asking them "what do you want to do today" does not work so well.  They are stumped as well.  So I initiated random conversation at breakfast to try to get some ideas.
Kaio had a dinosaur shirt on.  That got us talking about dinosaurs.  What do they eat?  How do they eat?  What noises do they make?  We were having a grand old time acting as brontosaurus.  Then it came to me: the Natural History Museum has dinosaur bones.  They were totally on board to see some dinosaur bones. But.... that doesn't mean that they could get dressed with the shoes on in less than forty five minutes!
So I realized there wasn't enough time to go into the city and make my afternoon work meetings.  Bummer.  
I took them to River Bend Park instead.  No dinosaurs, but they do have snakes, a frog, fish, and lizard, so that was slightly on topic.  There is a visitor's center with exhibits on regional animals and plants.  It was pretty cool to check out, although the taxidermy may have scared the kids a bit.  Particularly the owl snatching the squirrel.  I didn't lie to them at first, "He's taking the squirrel back to his nest to eat it."  that got them very very upset.  So then, "I mean, the owl is giving the squirrel a ride."
Kaio was very into reading signs and attempted to interpret every sign he saw.  Nala was just chillin, enjoying everything and checking out the animals.  We spent about 15 minutes at a small ornamental pond, tossing nature in the water to see what floated and what sank.  Then we made little boats out of leaves.  We found a long stick and used it to measure the dept of the water.  It was a lot deeper than I though, almost as high as Nala.  That got me worried about an excited kid slipping in, and we left the activity.  I brought apples and carrots for snack ( I have learned that I need to bring snacks for myself as well as them so I don't get short tempered).  We ate by the water while examining a guide to native bugs that I picked up from the visitor center.  The kids were able to correctly identify the Stink Bug and a couple other really common ones.  I'm going to keep this handy to reference whenever we find a new bug around the house.
After lunch and nap we went to visit 'grandma Helen' at the assisted living community.  The last time we went there was a disaster.  Nala really wanted to go and visit with Helen's iguana, Iggy.  Kaio did not want to go.  I was very clear and upfront with him about what was going to happen.  My mom was home and I gave him the choice to stay with her or come with us.  He wanted to come but did not want to visit grandma Helen.  I was very firm that Nala and I were going.  He did want to come but once we arrived did not want to get out of the car.  Last time he did this I let him stay in the car; this time I told him that I was not going to let him stay in the car.  I was firm but also patient.  He thought about it for a second, "Ok."
After that we went to the library.  Nala picked up a book on dinosaurs and Kaio on big building machines.  Overall the day was a great success.  We all had a fabulous time exploring.  
After dinner I had to pick my mom's cousin up from the hospital and give her a ride home.  Her mother is in very grave condition.  Kaio asked to come with me to give his 'aunt' a ride.  I think he sensed that something was wrong because once we picked her up he started saying that he did not feel well.  I'm pretty sure he was remembering something sad that happened at the hospital, like when his great grandfather was there.  So then as my 'aunt' is giving me the scoop and the status on her mom, he keeps interrupting to talk to her.  The playful distraction seemed to really make her feel better.  When we dropped her off he said, "I love you Aunt XX" twice with such dedication and sincerity.  She was truly touched and I could tell that she needed that.  When he sees or senses sadness, he responds with concern and tries to cheer the person up.  That is something that his daycare expressed to me too.  He'll walk up to a sad kid to try to help.
When we got home he continued being a sweety.  And.just a few days ago I was considering leaving him on a church step!  Well that was pretty nasty of me.  
There are good days and there are bad.  Today was a good one.  On top of all that adventure, I cleaned the kitchen, swept the floor, changed the sheets and the filter, made tea for my mom, glued a birdhouse together, directed Mari to buy materials to construct a composter, attended three meetings via phone, and got some work done after the kids went to bed.  Phew, now it is time for tomorrow.  

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