Friday, January 20, 2012

A Whole Lotta Nothing

And, at the same time, a bunch of everything. That's what comes to mind when someone asks me how's everything going. Of course, I say it loudly... in my head what with being polite and stuff. But seriously, it's just life as usual in a way. Lots of things to take care of that would be happening even if Chris wasn't deployed.

Homeschool is one. I'm trying to do 4 days a week, but sometimes it doesn't quite work out that way and we do only 3 days. And by 3 days I mean one hour each day, roughly. Sometimes it's a bit more, usually it's a bit less. Is it enough? Well, I checked M's skills against kindergarten readiness standards and he's doing just fine. The only thing he doesn't do well is rote counting to 20, but he can count objects to 15 by himself and to 20 with a bit of help. So I think we're ok for now. After all, he's not even 5 yet. On this picture he's putting together a story using Rory's Story Cubes (I love this game!).

Speaking of counting, he figured out (or maybe overheard somewhere) that if you have trouble falling asleep, you should count. So he counts: "one goat, two goats, three goats, four goats, five goats, six goats, eight goats, nine goats, ten goats. Now, one fish, two fish, four fish, three fish, four fish, five fish. Now, one Wall-E, two Wall-E, three Wall-E, four Wall-E, five Wall-E... five Wall-E plus one. It's five Wall-E and one Eve..." and on and on it goes with all the different objects he can think of being counted diligently to 5, 6 or 8. No wonder it takes him forever to fall asleep.

Another thing that keeps us busy is our weekly occupational and physical therapy sessions. These are working out great so far. M loves his therapists and always asks when is the next time he gets to play with them. And these sessions help. We've got a lot of work to do, but we are moving in the right direction. I get lots of ideas too for what we can do at home and try to incorporate 2-3 exercises into our homeschool time each day (like on the picture above - sensory play with shaving cream). Besides, watching M work during these sessions made me realize just how much effort he has to put into daily tasks that are nearly effortless to many kids his age (not to mention us, the adults). The little dude is working hard all day long even when it's just play.

Then there's my gym. (The picture is from M's work out at physical therapy though since I can't take pictures of me working out. They have these awesome toys and this swing set is just about his favorite). Did I mention that while Chris is away, I get a free family membership at our awesome YMCA? And our Y rocks! And their child care is awesome - lots of toys, lots of individual attention from the caregivers and not a single TV screen (there's a TV in the room for older kids and it's used only for Wii video games). Unfortunately, M and I don't see eye to eye on the kids room idea. And things have been getting progressively worse with how M reacts to separation. So it was either me not going at all or me taking him to my workouts. Except now I can't go to the weights area 'cause it's absolutely off-limits to kids.

So instead I go to cardio classes and yoga and such. M is almost always happy to tag along. Sometimes he tries to join in (yoga class, zumba and step), other times he plays with toys in the corner (toning, belly dancing). Either way, he behaves so well and is so darn cute, that we get lots of compliments from other people in the class and from the (very understanding and supportive) instructors. Plus he loves going to his own classes (where it's my turn to mostly sit in the corner) - kids zumba and kids yoga. His therapists are thrilled and boy, if one day athletes get points for the sheer enthusiasm and energy, he might zoom straight to the top.

All this happens before lunch! (Another picture from physical therapy). After lunch, I try to do some house work while M plays with his toys or watches some cartoons. He just finished watching all 150 or so episodes of the Russian cartoon "Smeshariki" which can be translated as "The Laughies" (not all at once, but over a period of about three months since he only watched 30 min or so each day). Now he's into another Russian cartoon, "Fixiki", but so far there are only 6 episodes available on YouTube. So he also watches the hilarious "Masha and the Bear" series.

As for the toys, M is heavily into rockets, robots and, unexpectedly, garbage trucks. Ever since I showed him a couple of YouTube videos about what happens at recycling plants and how landfills work, he is hooked. You know how intense he can be about things. So we got 10 or so non-fiction books about trash and recycling from the library. His favorite was "A Day in Life of a Garbage Truck Driver". Then he set up this game where he would operate a toy garbage truck, pick up trash and drive it to his Tri-County Landfill toy (Imaginext rules!), operated by his Toy Story 3 characters. On the picture: M built a ramp to help garbage truck get out of the "garage".

The best part is that he is eager to read as long as it's a part of this game set up. He actually asks me to write different words on pieces of paper which he reads and figures out whether to bring it to the landfill, to recycling plant or elsewhere. Love it!

All the while I try to clean, do laundry, take out the trash and compost, tidy up, re-arrange the furniture or, say, paint the walls. Something always comes up around here, like when, as on the picture, M decides to play fort inside the lazy susan and insists on having half of his toys with him. 

Then later in the afternoon we usually have friends over. While I drink tea and chat with N, M plays with her son who's a bit older and quite a lot taller than M. They think of themselves as best friends, but honestly, they spend as much time fighting and arguing as playing together. So some evenings playdates have to end earlier than others.

Then it's dinner time and off to bed for M. But not before some more work is done on one of his projects. For now it's usually this cardboard rocket. He drew control panels all over the inside of it. On this picture he's already in his PJs conducting an EVA (space-walk) to repair some minor meteor damage. Note how he's carefully tethered to the rocket so he wouldn't float away. Going to bed means I have to read him 2 stories. Lately we've been reading about Paddington Bear and all the stories in the book are very long. Takes a while to get through even one. And that's how I don't even come downstairs until after 9. Which means I don't get to start work until 9:30 or even 10 (if I still have dishes in the sink and the kitchen is a mess).

Next thing I know it's the weekend and then - another Monday. And that's how we roll for now. And the final picture is of M playing a game he invented and built. It's a Star Wars-themed game where Luke and Artoo get to trap and fight Vader by moving across the board in a rather aimless (to me, anyway) way. And when they do need to wait out, they have special hiding spots where Vader can't see them. That was the first game M came up with and I thought it was pretty cool.

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