Saturday, September 17, 2011

Southern Visitor

The other day, we saw an unfamiliar butterfly. It was burnt orange, with leaf shaped wings, and a duller, dead leaf looking underwing. Some obsessive internet searching later, and I have identified it as a Goatweed Emperor, which is not native to this area. I wonder if Hurricane Irene blew the little guy up here to the Hudson Valley? I wish I had been able to snap a photo, but I was walking to the neighborhood deli to get a cup of coffee and didn't have my camera. Pulled out my cell phone, framed the shot, and the battery died. Sigh. It's somewhat ironic that I live in a town which has a name in common with it's host plant... I hope it finds something local to munch on and can make its way homeward. We saw him perched on a tree trunk, sipping at sap from a wound in the bark. Aha-- I am a bit more confident in my identification, since the adult menu includes "Sap, rotting fruit, dung, bird droppings. "

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Why I Will Never Call Myself an Unschooler

Why are people so critical of other people's parenting without having clue one as to why what works for them may not work for others?

I just read a blog post by an unschooler about how parents these days are unnecessarily micromanaging their children's water consumption, which posits that doing so will result in kids divorced from their own thirst cues. This post, which probably had the vast majority of readers nodding in agreement, annoyed me no end because it assumes all kids and all families are best served by laissez faire, restriction or direction free parenting. But like everything else, parenting is not One Size (or Method) Fits All.

I am one of the horrid hydration haranguers that the abovementioned post despises.

You wanna know why?

My kid has sensory processing disorder. He *never* feels thirsty, and, left to his own devices, would pass out from dehydration before he voluntarily drank a sip.

I spend far more time than any same person would want to concerned about someone else's fluid intake, and I do it because the alternative is watching my kid pass out, throw up, or develop heat exhaustion.

So, if my nagging about water offends the unschoolers I come into contact with, sorry, but I just don't care. Because my kid's health and safety mean far more to me that your acceptance, or being able to assume the cool parent label.

I *do not* and *will not* call myself an unschooler precisely because of the narrow minded sanctimonious harping on other people's parenting found one one particular unschooling list, where people with kids with anaphylactic allergies were lambasted as horrid parents and failures as unschoolers for restricting their kids from imbibing their allergens. OK, so hate me for that too. I care more about my kid not ceasing to breathe after ingesting gluten or dairy than I do about my unschooling badge of coolness.

If allowing your kids unfettered freedom to choose their diets and control their fluid intake works for you, then realize you are in the extremely lucky majority who have kids for whom diet and drink are inherently not hazardous. Do your thing, be happy, and don't pass judgment on people whose situation you know *nothing* about.

Just one more reason I refer to us as eclectic, even though a good percentage of what we do is interest based, child directed learning...

Mikro's Links

You may have noticed the addition to my Pages Menu Bar at the top of the blog. The new item is Mikro's Links, a collection of kid friendly web sites that I'm OK with Mikro exploring. Feel free to check them out!

Looking Forward to Maker Faire

Mikro is fascinated with robots, and is really looking forward to attending Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science this coming weekend.

We've been looking at videos of previous Maker Faire events, and of robots generally, on YouTube.

Here's one from Maker Faire 2008:

This video of a humanoid Korean robot at the CNN futureSummit certainly whetted his appetite:

Not Back To School Picnic

We had our annual Not Back to School Picnic at Croton Point Park. This year, since Dad is home, he was able to join us. So in addition to the usual nature walk, picnic, and school work in the great outdoors, there was sword fighting as well.

Mikro is the proud owner of a back to school sale laptop from He can now do his BrainPOP, Time4Learning, Adapted Mind, and other online (mostly math) programs without knocking me off my computer. And he's learning keyboarding as well.

I set him up a private blog on Blogger, where he can make journal entries and post stories he writes. At this point, only he and I can read it, but I might open it up more later. I want to see how he does with it. This has lead to us borrowing a slew of library books on internet safety for kids. We have him set up with the Mikro's Links page I made him on my blog as a homepage, which links him to kid safe search engines, paid educational sites that we subscribe to, and a bunch of free educational resources (and some just plain fun) websites. I'll be setting him up with Scratch, and maybe some other free programming resources in the near future.

He had lots of fun at the park, though we would have stayed longer if the mosquitos and yellow jackets had been less aggressive...

I think this shot looks like a shadow puppet of Peter Pan...

And here's a look at some lingering damage from Hurricane Irene. Apparently, the force of the flood tide damaged the sea wall... and there are lots of new puddle/ponds around.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Family Fun

My Dad's birthday was last week, so we went for a visit. Somehow I managed to not take a single photo of my parents (ahem... which may have something to do with the fact that they duck the camera), but I did get some photos of the fun we had with my brother the guitar playing lawyer... He hauled out a few of his electric guitars, showed off a bit, and showed us a couple of things... He also explained how the pickups and the amplifier work. (Snuck some homeschool science in there, didn't we?) I hope someday he'll teach Mikro to play (Mikro doesn't have the interest or attention span yet for music lessons). Unca Rob is really good, and he can play anything from folk to country to heavy metal.

Post-Irene Park Days

... with extra water... This is Senasqua Park. The puddle is new, and the rocks are usually high out of the water. The Hudson is still running high after Irene and rains thereafter. These were taken about a week ago...

And this is Croton Landing, which is a great place to watch a Hudson River sunset.

We never did get back to Silver Lake, which they closed before the Hurricane, and never reopened. Season's over now. Sigh...

Looking Like Autumn

Friday, September 9, 2011

Wonder Wheel Swinging Cars Video

Complete with shrieking Mikro...

Fun at the NY Hall of Science

Mikro had lots of fun at the NY Hall of Science, especially at the Science Under the Big Top exhibit, and the Science Playground. And with the bubbles... But perhaps his favorite things was the Who Dung It? challenge, where you attempted to identify the circus animal based on it's scat...

Bubble fun:

Monday, September 5, 2011

Coney Island Arcade Games and Amusements

It is so much fun to introduce Mikro to the pleasures of my own childhood. Skeeball at Coney Island is a classic bit of Brooklyn summer fun, and Mikro enjoyed trying it for the first time ever. He did pretty well, but his dad outclassed us both, hitting the 100s many times.

And then we rode some rides and wandered the neon lit amusement park until it was time to go home.