Post Categories

1984 (1) 40 (2) 6th grade (1) ADD (1) ADHD (4) Alexis (1) armageddon (1) armpit farts (1) art (1) barracuda (1) basement (1) bathing suit (1) being thorough (1) Bigfoot (1) birthday (3) blog (1) boys (2) Brian Regan (1) burrow (8) butterfly (1) camera (1) cameras (1) CAVA (4) celebrity (1) checkpoint (1) Christian (1) coarse threads (1) college (1) Cone of Shame (1) costumes (1) crusades (1) Diane (1) Disneyland (1) donuts (1) Easter (1) editing (1) editor (1) ee cummings (1) Elvis (1) Facebook (1) family (1) Farewell (1) Farrell's (2) fashion (1) first day of school (1) focus (2) Fountain Valley (1) Fulton (4) Gavin (20) geek (2) God (2) God's gift (1) Grace (22) grammar (1) Grandpa Charlie (1) Grant (3) groceries (1) Halloween (1) hang-gliding (1) Harry Potter (1) Henry (5) high school (1) hip hop (1) history (1) Hogwarts (1) homeschooling (2) humor (1) Jay (1) Joan of Arc (1) Kellen (2) Kirk (1) language (1) Las Vegas (1) laugh (1) Lawrence Welk (1) Lawrences (1) Legoland (1) Legos (1) lessons (1) literature (1) Luigi (1) Marco Polo (1) Mario (1) Melissa (2) Michelle (1) Michelle Obama (1) mission (2) Moiola (1) Mr. Andy (1) MYART (3) names (1) National Grammar Day (1) nudity (1) OCD (1) pajamas (1) parenting (1) patience (1) Peter Pan (1) petting zoo (1) photography (1) pi (2) piano (1) Pokemon (2) Ponyo (1) precision (1) Raelee (1) Renaissance (1) Renoir (1) Rhonda (1) Robin Hood (1) Rod (1) Rowling (1) Sean (19) Shakespeare (3) spelling (1) spogg (2) Sporcle (1) St. Patrick's Day (1) stalkers (1) Star Wars (1) stupid stuff (1) success (1) survival (1) Talk like a Pirate Day (1) tapestry (1) Target (2) Teen Titans (1) the hub (2) twins (1) Twitter (1) typos (1) UCLA (1) Uncle Mike (1) undesirables (1) Unforseen conclusion (1) Uno (1) vacation (2) video (1) video games (1) walk of fame (1) Warhol (1) wine (1) Wooden (1) words (1)

Friday, May 6, 2011

Being Thorough

One of the things I have noticed about the boys on our journey to discover the ins-and-outs of ADHD is that they are, at times, completely absent-minded. It is a function of the disorder, I know -- they don't call it Attention Deficit for nothing -- and I expect a little mind-wandering during lessons, but sometimes I am amazed at the utter shutdown of the brain. Sometimes it can be funny (Um, Sean, are you going to go out without pants?) and other times it can be frustrating, especially when they forget very simple things like the piano bag full of their music when we're out the door to piano. Yes, they have clothes on (whew) and yes, they went to the bathroom (good), but they also took time to get a book for the car or their DS, which has NOTHING to do with where they are going or what activity they are about to undertake. When you remind them about it, they say in a rather surprised voice, "Oh yeah. Okay. Sorry." They truly do not mean to be forgetful; they just seem to always have their minds elsewhere and not on the tasks at hand.

This absent-mindedness or sometimes complete lack of vision about their life and activities worries me. Yes, I realize they are only nine, but some kids just seem to have a sense of time and space and a more complete understanding of elapsed time and what needs to be done and how much time that will take. My boys exist very much in the present, working from a schedule that involves maybe an hour ahead, maybe two. This is so ironic considering they both love schedules and do very well when they know what lies ahead. So I guess my worry exists in the form of "Will they ever get it?" or do I need to have Grant start digging the basement now?

Rather than wring my hands and moan, I decided to employ a new tactic. I call it Being Thorough. I was inspired by reading a devotional by Pastor Swindoll, the former pastor of EV Free Church in Fullerton which was my home church until age 24. This is a great man who is very wise, and he discussed the idea of being thorough in every aspect of your life. He was meaning this for adults, but he also brought it down to the day to day things in our lives, saying, "Wouldn't it be nice to completely finish a project? Put away the tools you used? Wipe down your workspace and then throw away the trash?" I'm paraphrasing the great man here, but his point is that often we get almost done with something and then stop. Don't dry the last three dishes, don't clear the table all the way, don't cover the barbecue, don't put the gardening tools back in the cupboard. The main project is done and done well, but something interrupts us -- something greater in our minds and we let the last few steps of a project lapse. When we do this, there are consequences -- rust, decay, dirt -- physical reminders that we left something undone.

I was struck by this lesson and not just how it could apply to the boys. I was struck by how often I am the guilty one, not completing a task I have set for myself, and I'm not just talking about my not writing blog posts (whimper) and not writing my great American novel (hanging my head in sorrow). I'm talking about the general chores and tasks I've set for myself. I need to be better at the follow-through, to be more thorough in all that I do. Otherwise, there will be physical reminders -- a dirty house, a legacy of unfinished projects and "almosts," not to mention replacing things that have become dirty or damaged because I just didn't take one more minute to be thorough. Being thorough applies to all stages of the process, from the planning to the follow through, and it needs to be a way of life, a way of thinking that becomes reflexive.

So I decided to employ a new phrase for the family and am thinking of having it painted on the back of the door leading to the garage. I want it to say, "Be Thorough" and be a visual reminder to think deeply about all we do. I have started asking the boys, "Have you been thorough?" or working with them and saying, "Okay, let's be thorough in our planning" whenever we are going to go somewhere or whenever they are in the middle of a project. I want to get them thinking about the steps it takes to get something done. When we went to both Disneyland and Legoland recently (totally awesome), we spent 10 minutes each of those mornings going over what we needed to bring to each place. The boys were very good about listing what they thought was important: sunscreen, jacket, close-toed shoes, kleenex, snacks, entertainment for the car ride. They then ran around getting their items and packing them. Then we went over the schedule before leaving -- use the restroom, make sure you've packed all your stuff, turn off lights, etc. Next in the process is teaching them what to do at the end -- dumping the dirty clothes in the proper place, unpacking their backpacks or goodie bags, cleaning out the car and the like. Most of the time they are too exhausted at the end of an event, and that's okay. Learning to be thorough is going to be a life-long process.

I am hoping that this ritual will lead them to think more thoroughly about what's necessary and required before undertaking a project or before taking a trip, starting a new class, etc. I'm hoping to get them planning for things and realizing that while starting something is great, thoroughly finishing it is even greater.

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Spanish Armada, The Globe and Elephants, oh my!

Creating the Battle with the Spanish Armada off the English Coast

Making sure the English ships are in proper order

Gavin drawing an elephant in the style of Indian Miniature Painting

Paper models of Shakespeare's Globe Theater, with the Bard himself looking on

I have said before just how much I love CAVA’s curriculum. Well, I will say it again, and probably again, for anyone who hasn’t heard it and just because I am so glad that there is a group in education that decided learning could be fun. My delight in CAVA's curriculum is all encompassing, but my fevered enthusiasm usually lands squarely on the history lessons. CAVA's lessons are so well crafted, telling the historical events in narrative form, with great visuals and authentic photos or artworks when possible, and including all the exciting characters, important dates and events.

I was thrilled last year when the boys and I went through the medieval period, studying ancient Rome and the Vikings and feudal Japan. We learned about the Visigoths and the Shoguns and got a real sense of where Europe came from. We learned that 476 was the year that Rome fell and nothing would be the same again. We learned that 1215 was the signing of the Magna Carta, where the king’s power was limited and that people demanded rights and liberties. This background last year set the stage for this year’s history lessons.

Yep, we moved into the Renaissance. So this year – happy sigh – we spent most of our time learning about Renaissance Italy, where it all began, and the fabulous art and artists who occupied that time period. We then moved on to Renaissance Europe and Asia, including a nice section on the Reformation of the church, complete with Martin Luther and the 95 Theses (who knew that 3rd graders would EAT THAT UP?). Then, of course, we spent time in England, with the Golden Era, or the Elizabethan Period, learning about Elizabeth I and the amazing empire she created and maintained. There was a lesson on Shakespeare and an art project involving recreating the Globe Theater in paper. Just fabulous.

How I love this school's willingness to extend history to youngsters, knowing that they will hang on every word, appreciate what has come before and be able to make connections between the past and the present. There are drawbacks to my boys being in this school, yes -- the isolation, technical glitches, waiting for your teacher to get back to you instead of having her "in the classroom," no school functions per se, and never getting a "sick" day because well, you're at home.

But when I scroll down to the next history lesson, I smile and think, "Okay, now is for learning and for engaging. Hopefully soon the other things will fall into place."

Pi Day 2011

Sean and Gavin made signs to celebrate Pi Day. Here is Sean ready to devour our pizza that we got for lunch. You know, pizza pie?

Here is Gavin's sign for Pi Day. It's hard to read but it says, "Sine cosine cosine sine.
3.14159. Yay, Pi!"

After dinner, the family went to Marie Callendar's to get some actual pie. The boys were thrilled that they each got to order a piece ("Chocolate Satin" for both, which was pronounced Satan for a good portion of the time.)

Grace was happy to celebrate Pi Day as well. Pie and ice cream is a pretty decent way to top off a meal.

Gavin could not wait for his goodies. Our event was so fun, but the bill was astounding. $35 for pie for five people, only one of which was a la mode and one cup of tea. The rest drank waters. Oh well, it was a wonderful family experience and we're glad we did it. We just need to save up for next year's Pi Day Extravaganza!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Naked Truth about Nudity

There has been much talk recently at our house about nudity. You'd think, as a general rule, this topic wouldn't get much play, but there has been some discussion. Inasmuch as the incidents involving nudity were comical enough to write about, the whole topic got me pondering the idea of nudity, and I think there are some nuggets of truth (thank you!) that can be gleaned from a study of nakedness.

1. The younger you are, the more comfortable you are with nudity.
Gavin and Sean have no problems with personal nudity. They would be naked all the time if they could (Gavin more than Sean), and for the most part they are equal opportunity nudists. They will walk around naked both before and after a bath to ask questions, get a drink, whatever, not realizing that others -- namely their sister -- would prefer they not. Their utter lack of concern about loin girding prompted the funny Facebook entry a while back where Grace commented that "naked people should not skip." She's right, but they don't seem fazed by all the hubbub. Gavin even intimated that at some point he would love to live where everyone was naked all the time. When Grace said there was no way she would ever visit him then, he seemed genuinely crushed.

I cannot tell you how many times I've wondered where one of the boys is after his bath and have found him reading a book on his bedroom floor, completely nude. "Why aren't you dressed for bed, honey?" I ask. "Oh, I forgot." Really? Forgot to put clothes on? Again, for them, there is something delightful and completely natural about being naked. There is no stigma, no self-consciousness, no desire to show off, perform or freak anyone out. The fact that Grace does get freaked out is strange to them (and is for the most part hilarious to us).

2. Tweenagers cannot abide nudity.
Grace is at that tender age where she is transitioning to the realm of adulthood. For her, any amount of nudity is enough to clear her out of a room. She also cannot abide embarrassing situations within a movie's storyline or deeply romantic scenes. These scenes just serve to embarrass her and remind her that she will soon be experiencing emotions on a different level and that things that used to be harmless between friends (talking with boys, physical contact -- hugs, thwacks on the arm, etc.) are now going to be fraught with meaning. Nudity has significance, and she is beginning to see that. So she spends time hiding herself (both literally and figuratively) by her clothing choices and screeching, "Please knock!" when the boys try to get into the bathroom to wash their hands while she's in there when just a year ago she didn't care. All of these feelings of hers are perfectly normal; they are part of the steps we go through to adjust to adulthood and how we grow in our understanding of how the world works. It also reminds us of our fallen state and how nudity for adults does mean something different than it does for kids.

3. Adults usually can put nudity in context, but sometimes nudity can still surprise them.
I had the funniest experience at the Theater during a performance of the musical Hair! I had no clue ahead of time that there would be actual nudity within the performance. The ticket said "Mature Content," but I took this to mean that the performers would swear a lot or there would be some bawdy comedy. I was prepared for either of those situations. I was not prepared for all the performers to be naked on the stage at the same time.

My initial reaction to the actors' nudity was shock and then embarrassment -- not for them, but for me, potentially, because this was an audience-participation show and we were in the front row (not kidding). I was suddenly petrified that I would have to deal with nudity square in the face (again, not kidding) and my insecurities about the subject would surface. When it was safe again, I began to marvel at the actors' willingness to brave it all, as it were, for this production. What must go through their heads each time they strip down? Can they be in character so deeply that this action is simply a reaction and doesn't require deep soul-searching or preparation? I tried to be cool during their scene, but I'll admit I was squirming in my seat. Is my own embarrassment about nudity and self-consciousness to blame? Perhaps.

Grant had a great time during the performance and seemed perfectly fine and not uncomfortable in the least. Of course, he knew ahead of time that there would be nudity -- "How could you not know?" he chided. "This show caused a huge scandal on Broadway when it debuted for exactly this reason." I admit I am a bit behind in my musical theater, and I am glad that I got to see this show. But I thought about his reaction against my own. My husband isn't bothered by nudity at all. Ever. It's something he doesn't peg with shame or embarrassment, so he doesn't get flustered or attach hidden meanings to it. People can simply be naked.

For me, the nudity made me think. It was not in the production for mere shock value as so many nude scenes are in movies and on television. For days afterwards, I thought about the show and its use of the human form. I was affected by the nudity -- not in the "Oh Lawdy, cover my eyes" sense but how the actors used it to convey what the show was really about: vulnerability. It got me thinking about what being naked can mean for an adult. The human who bares it all really is stripping away all pretenses and defenses for another person and is showing the essence of the person he or she is inside. Grace is beginning to see that vulnerability in nudity so she hides herself. She knows that nudity can be compromising. She sees that part of the self is exposed when our skin is exposed, and this is a valuable lesson. I think the actors on the stage wanted to showcase that -- exploit it even --as their characters were being exploited and used for a war they did not believe in. Their nudity was symbolic -- they wanted everyone to "see" them and realize that they were just people first, in the very purest sense of the word.

So, these are the thoughts that naked people bring to the mind in the Mosher home: deep thoughts, philosophical thoughts, emotional thoughts and then the boys and their love of being naked. The boys' quest for nudity does not involve compromise or vulnerability or a loss of identity. It is merely them, only naked-er. For now they are happy and innocent and content to spend their time after the bath reading, playing and, alas, skipping.

Friday, January 28, 2011

A Life of Precision

As we age, we come to understand certain truths: "I'll be done in a minute" means that you have about a five to ten-minute window; "I've got to get a few things from the store" means that you will be in there for at least a half an hour; When someone asks for the time, you don't say, "It's 1:27"; you say, "It's almost 1:30." Most people who ask for the time understand that you are rounding up because it's easier. They are not looking for the exact time down to the second; they want to know if it's in the middle of the hour or towards the end of the hour so they can make plans or adhere to them. As adults, we understand. It makes sense for our adult brains to allow this leeway. In fact, we encourage it. We roll with it.

My boys do not roll with imprecision. Call it part of their quirkiness, an aspect of their ADHD, whatever -- but they have never been okay with calling a spade a shovel. My boys lead a life where everything has a proper name and a proper time, amount of money, description, you name it. It's a bit irritating sometimes when adult understanding and child understanding meet head on, but I've been trying to get a handle on why being precise is so critical to both boys and what I can do to ease them into the imprecise world of adulthood. Here are my findings:

1. Children are always corrected. My mother-in-law pointed this out to me, and I was so glad she did. All their lives, the boys have heard themselves corrected by adults. They have had their grammar checked ("I caught the ball" not "I catched the ball."), their explanations reviewed (No, rain is not God crying; it's actually the water cycle -- here, let me explain . . . ), their questions answered even if they weren't asked (Did you know . . . ), and so forth. Not a day goes by that some adult is not imparting knowledge to these children. That is not a bad thing. What it means, though, is that the boys (and all children for that matter) are exposed to this type of learning/teaching style -- the lecture -- an awful lot. In their minds, when you know something, you share it for the benefit of the other party. It's the "learning is communal" way of life.

So why do they get reprimanded when they point out when an adult has made a mistake? They are simply extending the same courtesy given to them 200 times a day. My boys haven't clued in that no matter how wrong an adult is, it's usually not a good idea to correct his or her mistake. Don't tell an adult that it really is 1:27 when she has said it's 1:30. She knows the time but has rounded up for convenience sake. When the adult uses grammar that is incorrect, it's best to ignore it (although it is so, so hard to do so -- I'm with you, boys, on that one) and hope he or she figures it out later. Sometimes you have to infer what the adult is saying, as in: "Put that on the table," but she's pointing at the counter. Do you: a) put the item on the table in the other room or b) put the item on the counter that she's pointing to? This is a difficult choice for my boys who would rather believe the words than the body language or tone.

2. They are highly verbal. Both boys have high verbal IQs. They comprehend the world through the use of words, so for them, a gesture does not carry as much meaning as the word behind it. Sentiment is good, but words are better. So if the words are imprecise, they get confused. They put tremendous value on words, so these guys are going to be heartbroken when promises aren't kept or lies are told (I dread the dating years, middle school -- you get the idea). To them, words are like currency, the way in which they understand and navigate the world. So if something is off, they feel the need to address it.

3. My boys want to do it right, always. Part of the anxiety component of their ADHD stems from their wanting to be correct all the time. It's the perfectionist quality of their personalities that they inherited (so sorry) and that leads to insecurity. They want to be right in order to feel good about themselves, yet here is an authority figure who is telling them something different than what they know. Aaahhh! What to do? Does this mean that their understanding of that part of their world is off? This imprecision leads to confusion and anxiety on their part even if we're only talking about rounding up time or money or exaggerating something to make a point. To make sure they have it "right," they will question that point.

Bottom line is that I AGAIN need to find a source of patience for when these moments come up. Instead of getting irritated at their not understanding and attempting to correct my imprecision, I need to either explain the vagaries of the adult mind -- yes, we round up, we guesstimate how long it will actually take in the store, no I misspoke when I said "elevator" instead of "escalator," etc. -- or adhere to more precision in my own life. Precision isn't bad; it just takes more thought. It takes more time, which is what we adults don't have, which leads us to be imprecise in the first place. Ugh. What a never-ending cycle of woe.

My goal as always is to steer these boys into a deeper understanding of themselves and the world around them without sacrificing all that makes them who they are. So what to do with precision? Do I try and loosen them up or be more precise in my words? Maybe the answer lies somewhere in the middle -- or is that too vague?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Gavin Said What?

The past few weeks were a bounty for Gavin-isms. He was in top form, both in his ability to crack us up and for the amazing things he does.

1. Armpit farts -- this may not qualify as amazing, per se, but the boy is pretty darn good at it. He even gave the family a tutorial one evening: "Step One -- Cup your hand like this. Step Two -- Place your cupped hand over your armpit. Step Three -- Fart." It was fairly straightforward, but I liked that there was an actual system.

Gavin has gotten so prolific at this talent that he can adjust the tenor and volume and tonality. It's really impressive. I've asked him to not do this in public or at the dinner table while we are eating -- we must have some standards, you know -- and he generally complies. He will now armpit fart absentmindedly as if he's biting a nail or cracking his knuckles. He can multitask while armpit farting also, which is pretty clever when you're taking out the trash or playing piano.

Speaking of piano, the other night we are sitting around the dining table playing a rousing game of Boggle. Gavin starts in on his armpit fart routine -- short, short, long, short, short -- and then he stops and tells us, "Hey, when I armpit fart, all the farts are in E flat." I started laughing. This was good stuff, except that Grace goes over to the piano and hits the note. Well, I'll be darned if he wasn't right. Most of the time his armpit farts hit an E flat. So, what do we do? Well of course we spend a good few minutes seeing if he can a) change the notes of his armpit farts and b) more importantly, if he could identify the other notes. He didn't get them all, but he did get some, which impressed me to no end. Can we take this kid on the road? I can see a future with the carnies, for sure.

2. What does my name mean? I think every kid wants to know why he or she was given his or her particular name. It is natural, after all, to want to know your story, to wonder why in the vast dictionary of baby names one particular name stood out to your parents and why they thought it would be perfect for you. Sometimes your name belonged to a family member, and you would like to know why that family member (and his or her name) was important.

We have this name discussion often with our children because they love to hear the stories of their names. Gavin was named for Sir Gawain in the legends of King Arthur who was afraid in the beginning of his tale but who did the right thing in the end. Grant and I have always liked this name, and if Grace had been a boy, she would have been named Gavin. Gavin means "white hawk," and we think the name fits this boy with his keen eye and fearless strategies for getting things done.

When we found out we were having twins, we had to find a name that would fit with Gavin. We tried many but ultimately settled on Sean, Irish for John. We kept with the Celtic/Gaelic tradition and sought the name because John was Jesus's companion and best friend. We liked the idea of the Lord's companion, someone He shared with and loved and trusted. We hoped that our twins would cultivate a relationship like that and that our gentle Sean would be a testament to the amazing and deep-thinking man who wrote so beautifully.

At the table again over the Christmas holiday, Gavin asked this time for the story of their names, and of course we obliged. We got to Grace Elizabeth's name and told them that Grace was named for the greatest woman monarch of all time (my own bias) and because her name means "a gift from God." Gavin interrupted at this point: "A gift from God?" and we answered, smiling beatifically at our daughter, "Absolutely. Grace means a gift from God that we don't deserve. An unmerited favor." We thought Gavin would be touched by this wonderful explanation and by our reasons for naming his sister. Instead, he wrinkled his brow in confusion and said, "If Grace is a gift from God, then why is she so annoying?"

Ah siblings. Gavin, you are awesome.

Digging Deeper Into the Burrow

It occurred to me lately after speaking with the hub and a very good friend that I have strayed away from the purpose of this blog. I started Tales from the Burrow with the idea that I would share all the craziness, the fun and the pressure or stress or complications that come from staying home and teaching your kids, especially when your kids are quirky and have ADHD. Instead of keeping to this agenda, though, I began to write about other stuff -- chronicling other happenings or riffing on random thoughts, which would have been okay if I had just done that once in a while. Instead, I began to get worried when I didn't have a new topic to discuss or funny thing to report. I lost my focus, and therefore my blog lost its focus. I know better! Know Your Audience! Write With Purpose! I could just kick myself.

So one of my New Year's Resolutions (in addition to exercise more, eat right, blah blah blah) is to recommit to my blog and write about what I wanted to in the beginning: the boys and the challenges and rewards of homeschooling. I know that I will occasionally detour and write about random things that happen and that's okay, but I will try and stay committed to my purpose (oh, and I have to write about the lovely and patient older daughter too. She's pretty nifty).

So, I'm hoping to set up some new categories for my postings to keep me focused, such as (names to be decided on later):

1. They Said . . . What?
2. Fun with ADHD
3. Cool Lessons and Those that Weren't
4. Today We Struck Up a Conversation With . . . .
5. The Pajama Game -- Which "Loungewear" Will I Be Wearing Today?

I hope you will come back and visit.