posts tagged with 'harvey'

poetry on his own time

This morning we went to a "poetry teatime". What a great idea! Tea and poetry are definitely among our favorite things. We were almost late because we were having so much fun reciting poems and song lyrics over the breakfast table. And I had to make muffins. Because I don't know that it's possible for homeschoolers to get together for anything without treats—thematically appropriate if possible. Three families came; that meant two kinds of muffins and some scones.

Harvey showed us something else about homeschoolers too. Despite having already read his chosen poem—"The Unicorn", by Shel Silverstein—out loud to his brothers before we went, he wasn't feeling it when it came time to present it to the group. Before we finished up he did read a shorter poem to everyone, but it wasn't until the kids he didn't know as well had left that he opened up and read "The Unicorn", plus a selection of other favorites. He does "The Unicorn" so good: certainly the most hip-hop-influenced delivery of that particular poem you'll ever hear from a child in Bedford.

The problem with school is that you have to do everything on somebody else's schedule. Do poems now. Don't do poems now, it's time for something else. Harvey was still reading from Where the Sidewalk Ends for an hour after the other kids were done with poetry and on to playing—mostly to himself, but sharing a few choice selections with me at the other parent there. Which was totally perfect for the way our time was structured... or un-structured, if you prefer!

Our host's younger daughter wasn't there: last week she started preschool, on her own strong request. So far she's enjoying the chance to be with friends in that environment, so even when offered the chance to stay home and be part of a totally awesome poetry/baked-goods extravaganza she told her mom she had to be at school. Clearly it suits some people better than others. I wonder if she'll keep liking it? And how much poetry do they do there?

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waiting for the contagion to run its course

At the library today, Harvey picked up the first volume in Rick Riordan's Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard series. It follows on the heels of the five books in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and the five books of the Heroes of Olympus series, all of which run three- to four-hundred pages, and all of which Harvey has read. It's not that I don't approve of the stories—I'm actually kind of excited to see what Riordan's take on Norse mythology will be, since we studied the Norse stories last year—but I can't help but think about all the other good fiction out there that Harvey isn't getting a chance to read. Oh well, even if Riordan keeps churning out the stories—and I have no reason to expect he'd ever stop!—Harvey can read a lot faster than the dude can write. So we're due for an opening in Harvey's reading schedule in the next couple weeks. Any suggestions for what he might like next?

a Harvey party!

Harvey's actual birthday was a long time ago, it feels like. Time stretches in the summer. But now, a full 23 days after he turned ten, we brought his birthday season to a close by finally throwing him a party.

kids watching Harvey opening presents

party crew

It wasn't just disorganization or laziness that led to the delay—the reason we held off on doing something in June was that his friend Jack would be away then, but back in July. Jack usually travels all summer, so I don't know that he's ever been to one of Harvey's parties... so naturally it seemed worthwhile to schedule the celebration on a day he'd actually be around. Of course, after we'd made that decision disorganization and laziness played their part in keeping me from actually inviting anyone until it was very nearly too late. Happily our friends are flexible and were all able to make it to a party at lunchtime on a Saturday with five and a half days advance notice. Good thing, because they would have been sad to miss it!

Harvey chose a board game theme—well, board and card game. He wanted a chessboard cake, but since I didn't know if I had the technology to make that happen I proposed something a little simpler. He was fine with the idea; I think it came out pretty elegant.

birthday cake

like those dice?

The party started at 11, and nobody was too concerned about board gaming. Harvey was mostly just delighted to have his three favorite friends together in one place. Since naturally we invited families, Zion and Lijah had people to play with too, leaving the adults to relax and chat. Harvey wanted hot dogs and coleslaw for lunch; I grilled 28 hot dogs, which was just barely enough. After lunch the play started to get a little violent—the ten- and eleven-year-old boys we know are partial to sword-play—so we redirected the kids towards the games inside. With the food and the adults outside, there was plenty of room in the house for games of Ticket to Ride, Zingo, Pokemon, and Yu-Gi-Oh to all happen simultaneously. Only one of those led to violence, so that was good.

It was all so much fun it was almost time to go before we remembered cake and presents! Luckily, after we did that half of our guests were still able to stick around for another hour or more. That's what we like to see. Thanks for turning ten, Harvey... Happy Birthday!

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headed to Washington!

When we first dipped our toes into competitive Pokemon about nine months ago we figured it would just be a practice year—getting used to the game and the scene. The goal of serious players is qualifying for the World Championship in August, but I thought that was out of reach for both of us. But then Harvey won that first event, and then he won a couple more. Pretty soon it was clear that, while I was a still no-hoper, he had a pretty fair shot for some success. And today, with about a month left in the season, he crossed the finish line and earned his Worlds Invitation!

This year's Worlds in in Washington DC on August 16. We already have our hotel room booked, and we've started psyching ourselves up for the long drive down. Harvey is super excited, and he's also looking forward to a couple months of more relaxed summer Pokemon play. And after late June he—and I—will start collecting the points for next season.

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our readers

We haven't made it to the library this week, so Harvey was grumbling about not having any books to read. He checked out, I believe, five chapter books last Tuesday, and eight days later they were all finished. I told that we have books here—as an elementary educator, I love scouring used book sales for good stories. I guess he knows that, but he didn't trust the selection. So I picked out a few good options to present him, and he chose Dogs Don't Tell Jokes by Louis Sachar. That was at around 2:15; by 5:30 he had finished it. It's just as I predicted back when he started reading so I'm not surprised, but the sudden increase in his rate of consumption over the last month is a little startling.

Zion is getting into reading too. He's at the stage of mostly doing graphic novels. We have lots of them around, and they're good for private learners: he spent a lot of time looking at them back when he wasn't reading, so now he can put as much or as little energy into the words as he wants without me paying attention to what he's doing. Self-directed reading instruction is what we like around here. I actually tried to do some actual reading instruction with Zion back in the fall, on the theory that he's not quite as self-directed as his big brother—I had to make him learn to ride a bike, for example. And for a little bit he was interested in phonics lessons. But then he got over it. Which was fine, because I know he loves books and can ask for help when he needs it. Then he surprised me a month ago when I asked Harvey to do some writing about the chicks, and he did a page too. I had no idea he could write! I guess that means he can read too. He also read from a chapter book this afternoon during rest time.

We're in the stage of the homeschooling year called pre-reporting panic; don't worry Town of Bedford, at least I know they can read!

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fantasy reading in our house

Harvey is currently plowing through the Harry Potter series. He's about a third of the way through the last book right now, so I have some hopes of speaking to him again at some point tomorrow evening. This is his second run at the series; he started reading it the first time after a friend recommended it to him last year, but got stalled out in the middle of book four. This time he came to it on his own, and he's going strong to the end. You can read of my mixed feelings about the books here and here and here; given that, I think I've done a fair job of not being too scathing about the stories. Actually, as we talk about them I'm surprised by how much I remember!

Still, I continue to assert (privately) that better books exist. Like Dial-A-Ghost, which I picked up at the library books sale this past weekend. You could make an argument that Eva Ibbotson did what J.K. Rowling did first, and better (she seems to have been a very good person for not minding particularly much when Rowling made the big time). Certainly, her books have more humor and liveliness. It's natural to wonder why Rowling's work gained such wide popularity and cultural dominance while Ibbotson's, though successful enough, didn't. I don't think it's only the publishing juggernaut that lined up behind Harry Potter; it seems to me that Rowling pioneered a certain sort of authorial focus that leaves her books empty of everything but plot and one-dimensional characters acting out their roles like the guys in a sitcom. That's a satisfying combination. Maybe I'll pick up The Prisoner of Azkaban again and see what I'm missing.

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when (home education and school) worlds collide

We're lucky enough to be able to spend the second half of every Thursday afternoon with Harvey's friend from around the corner. He's one of Harvey's favorite people, and someone Harvey seeks out assiduously on weekends—the only other time they have to hang out during the school year. So why does our sweet sociable boy sometimes seem less than enthusiastic by the prospect of three hours with his friend? I think it might be because he's not totally ready for his energy level.

See, Harvey hasn't been in school all day. He's just been bicycling, wrestling with his brothers, and being forced by his cruel father to spend hours outside in the yard (and also doing lots of reading when he wants, but that doesn't fit the narrative here). His friend has been working hard doing fifth grade things, which from my personal recollection involve a lot of sitting in chairs and talking quietly. When he gets off the bus, he's got energy to burn and it shows!

I've thought of trying to resolve this mismatch by keeping Harvey more sedentary on Thursdays, but that doesn't really seem fair. So instead I've just tried to talk about it and manage expectations. It's not a big deal: in general, Harvey is still delighted—thrilled!—to spend time with his friend. Even after some tired moments this afternoon, this evening at bedtime he was full of excitement about the sleepover the two of them are having tomorrow night. But it is interesting.

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Harvey's Pokemon party

Harvey's birthday party was Saturday. Because it's all we think about he chose a Pokemon theme; unlike the other kid he was happy with buttercream frosting on his chocolate cake so I was able to have a little more creative freedom in the decorating. I was pretty happy with the result.

Harvey's Pikachu cake

another Pikacake

The rest of the party was almost as good. With his birthday falling right at the end of the school year some of his friends weren't available. Just as well, since it was a cool drizzly day, and the folks we did have quite filled our house! While I did manage to get a fire lit it didn't look hot enough to cook anything safely; never mind, hot dogs and hamburgers on the stovetop were almost as good. And the kids, tougher than grownups, got plenty of outdoor play. Then when they were tired of that they came in to play Pokemon.

Only problem with that was half of them had never played before, so it was more of a learning experience than a full-on tournament battle. Oh well, we get plenty of battles, and it's always fun to introduce people to the joys of Pokemon. We also introduced them by giving away some cards: I bought a retail box of packs to give out, with the stipulation that if anyone pulled one particular valuable card they would need to trade it to me for something equally shiny but less essentially playable. Sadly it didn't come up, but everybody got some pretty cards to take home. And from his guests Harvey got some Lego sets to build, because you can't play Pokemon all the time.

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happy birthday Harvey!

From his birthday pancake this morning to the cake he helped make with Grandma, Harvey was well-celebrated today. It helped that he got to spend all day with Grandma and Grandpa, it being a Wednesday. Two "Happy Birthdays", two candles to blow out, and two presents already... and his real party isn't for a couple more days! That's the way to do it. Happy Birthday Harvey!

Harvey and brothers blowing out a birthday candle

his brothers are helping

new frontiers in cycling

We went for a long ride with friends a couple weekends ago (notable for Zion doing over ten miles in his second week on a two-wheeler!). At our turn-around point we did a little bit of off-road riding, to make it seem like we'd gotten somewhere. Most of the kids were unenthusiastic about the rough terrain, but Harvey—on his new-to-him mountain bike—found something to love. So he asked me if we could ride some trails together. Which we did Sunday afternoon.

Harvey riding uphill in the woods

on the trails

He attacked the climbs ferociously (as pictured above), enthused about finding the best line between roots and rocks, and worked on building courage for steep descents. (His mechanic gets most of the blame for his nervousness: in typical Archibald fashion, he only has one set of working brakes at the moment.) We did probably a mile in the woods, trying to find the funnest spots, and then maybe four more riding to and from the trail. Maybe more, who knows?! We were out for two hours.

I don't know how much time we'll find for trail riding in our busy schedule, but Harvey is already a fan. On our hike on Monday he noticed a particularly smooth, rolling section of singletrack and pointed out how much fun it would be to ride it. Yes, yes indeed.

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