Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Fric & Frac

People sometimes comment on how much Sean looks like Gavin. There is certainly a strong resemblance, but what I see when I look at Sean - is Ethan. Not only see, but hear and experience a child who is so much like his oldest brother.

Here they are - Ethan on the left and Sean on the right. Ethan weighed in at a hefty 4 lbs. 9 oz. and Sean at 4 lbs. 3 oz. They both came into the world under similar circumstances around 35 weeks. Sean mimicked his brothers terrible reflux.

But as these last two years have progressed, we have noticed so many mannerisms and personality traits that seem to have been passed down through some crazy genes. Is that funny when one of the kids being referenced has Down syndome? Anyhow. There is 14 (yep, count 'em) years between them and so many of the similarities have long faded from Ethan's repatoire, only to have been resurrected by Sean.

The inability to leave your socks and shoes on for more than 5 minutes, the request for lollipops at 8 in the morning, the love of cookies (but refusal of homemade in favor in Chips Ahoy, no kidding!) and goldfish crackers, insomnia, protesting the car seat to the point of exhaustion, and a total disdain for strollers. One of Ethan's gifts (or curses?) was the inate ability to know how every lock, handle, clip, buckle, and button worked. Enter, Seany, whose never met a mechanism he couldn't work on his first attempt. So adept at playground equipment, they gave other people heart palpitations. Any move of furniture, addition of decorations or a usually shut door being opened is cause for intense investigation.

They both have the ability to see humor in things that should be way over their heads. They both find themselves to be incredibly funny and entertaining. High energy, gregarious, engaging and communicative. Ethan could find a way to tell you any story about any obscure thought he might have had, even with all of his language impairments. Watching Sean use his hands and gestures as he tells a story brings me right back like I am looking at little E. They both sleep surrounded by too many books and both had special affinities for their pacifiers. At two, they both declared most foods "yucky". Gavin, at least, waited until 8 and Mike hasn't said it yet!

We called Gavin 'stoic-baby', he was a delightful kid, but did not share the strong inclinations of his brothers. Mikey was very compliant and very cute, but did not exhibit the strong preferences of the other two. They were so different from Ethan, that we thought much of who Ethan was must be related to him having Down syndrome. But, as it turns out, it was just who Ethan was at his very core. Sean has showed us that Ethan is who Ethan is, regardless of his extra chromosome. Ethan has showed us, that if this trend continues for Sean, we are in for a wild ride!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

A musical rendition from...Gavin!

We don't usually celebrate President's Day with such fanfare, but this year is special. We hope you enjoy this! He learned it here:

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Socializing 101

One advantage of homeschooling are the interactions that can take place between kids of varying ages. Often times kids are engaged in the same activity or event with families who have kids ranging from infancy to the teen years. It strikes me that in certain other settings, there are many conversations that might never take place. I don't always know what they talk about, but glad they get the opportunity. Older kids are eager to pass on what they know, and younger ones seem eager to learn. Teaching someone something gives you further mastery of a skill and enhances communication skills - whether it's teaching someone a card game, giving skateboarding tips, or navigating an iPod. These interactions can happen so naturally and more commonly for homeschooled kids. I have also noticed that my boys do not think that "girls have cooties". No one has ever said, "what's she - your *girlfriend*?" No one has ever sang the "K-I-S-S-I-N-G" song when they are sitting alone with a girl. There is a genuine ease among them that I don't know could happen in other settings. Birthday invitations at our house have gone out to 2 year-olds and 18 year-olds for the same party. Boys and girls alike. People often have concerns about "socialization" for homeschoolers. I believe they are at a distinct advantage with less social contraints, seating charts, structure activity and more diversity of age and stage. Each report card that I brought home as a child reported "Janet socializes too much with her friends". I will never have to report that. Carry on, kids!

Friday, February 11, 2011

Liberty Science Center

We visited Liberty Science Center for the first time. It was an impromptu trip - Dennis said he was working from home and my wheels started turning and negotiations set in. Although Seany is a delight to all of us, anytime we don't have to chase & redirect is a welcomed repreive. Thanks, Den. This room had hands on examples of surface tension, Bernoulli's Principle, resistance, centrifugal force and lots of other concepts. Way better than reading about them!

Mikey got a chance to create 'stop-action' movies. Maybe the lego minifigures will have new starring roles in his next project.

We were directed to the "group dining" area when we came upon this lucky strike. It was a landing off one of the hallways that no one seemed to be using. It was warm and sunny and that's a very tiny Lady Liberty in the background.

The boys walked across steel beams in the 'Skyscraper' Exhibit. It was really cool after we just watched a segment on the period of time NYC was being built on America: The Story of Us. I just couldn't do it :( I was dizzy just trying to get the pictures.

There were several exhibits that the boys stopped to experiment with that did not work. The touch screens were not responding and the buttons that activitated the experiments did nothing. I stopped to inform that manager at the end of our trip and he provided us with complimentary tickets for our next visit! What a great way to handle a complaint.

I did note some things when I observed the school groups. They were all provided with notebooks and forms. They were required to document what they were seeing and experiencing. The kids were constantly having to juggle what was in their hands, put stuff down, pick it up, find a pen etc. It looked very distracting and seemed to inhibit their ability to just experience what was in front of them. The adult chaperones were often telling them they were looking at the 'wrong' exhibits and redirecting them (unsuccessfully) to the 'proper' exhibits'.

Formal education requires documentation and testing as a gauge as to what the student is learning. Some types of homeschooling remove that component, allowing children (i.e. "The Student") more freedom to experience the activity out of joy and curiousity. I suppose that might happen in a structured setting, it is just less frequent and more difficult to attain under those circumstances.

It reminds me of what John Holt said in his book "How Children Fail", "It is as true now, as it was then, that no matter what the tests show, very little of what is taught in school is learned, very little of what is learned is remembered, and very little of what is remembered is used. The things we learn, remember and use, are the things we seek out or meet in the daily, serious, nonschool parts of our lives."

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Too many cartoons?

I don't know why he did it. I only know that he came to me looking like this.

Yes, his tongue is bleeding. Yes, that is frozen blood on a giant icicle. It was met by peels of laughter from his brothers. I clearly didn't get it. Then he threw this in for good measure.

Ethan is always way over the top. Sometimes in a very bad way. Sometimes it just looks like this. Seany thinks he's awesome. That's very bad.

Friday, February 4, 2011

A Cousin Day - in pictures

The Cousins spent the night. It was an unexpected, bonus-day off school for them. It made it that much more fun.

That's five kids in a teeny-tiny room - they look like a pack of puppies (or refugees?) Unlike New Year's Day when they all woke each other up at 6:55 a.m. they all had a nice, lazy morning.

Some people might think having five kids all day is a handful. The thing is, when there are more kids, there are more possible 'friend' combinations. If someone is not interested in doing what you are, there is always someone else. The early morning pair ups were pretty unique and very cute.

First they did this....

And then they did this...

And of course, this...
They all went about their day so nicely, stopping to ask for more supplies or food! There wasn't a disagreement among them the entire day. It was a fun, fun day - and I'm all about the fun. They are why I thought that homeschooling would be good idea - and it is!