Saturday, April 17, 2004

Penpals and Screen-Free Day

Yesterday Noah's penpal's dad came for a visit. The penpal lives in Holland. His family is planning to immigrate to our neck of the woods (which is why we were originally in touch, which led to the boys' contact). Anyway, the visit was a rousing success. Noah was very excited to spend time with someone so intimately acquainted with his friend. There were photos and gifts and stories and comments about similarities.

Since then Noah has been very focused on his penpal. He knows about today's soccer championship game and is hoping to hear soon who won. He wants to learn to speak Dutch. He's looking forward to meeting J. some day (maybe soon!). He wants him to teach him to play soccer. He carries the photo album around with him. I've come to appreciate what a good friend Noah is. He cares deeply and (more to the point) demonstrably about his friends. He is thoughtful and loyal and proactive in nurturing the friendships he has. I expected the penpal friendship to be so remote and abstract that it would take some prodding on my part for him to continue putting energy into it, but that hasn't been the case. I think that the people who have Noah as a friend are lucky people indeed.

Erin, though almost 3 years older, needs so much more help in this department. And yet, as in all areas, she rebels against help.

We tried a screen-free day today. I kind of sprang it on the kids, which wasn't fair, and it showed. I asked Noah and Sophie last night if they'd be okay about it and they said yes. Erin wasn't impressed when she got up this morning. She came around with time. But by supper time she was really wanting to write a story (although her handwriting is astronomically better lately, she still only writes creatively on the computer, where she's much faster and can edit easily). And Sophie and Noah were fast losing their enthusiasm for a screen-free day. So I caved in. We turned on the computer. Dh came home and turned on the hockey game without anyone complaining.

However, it was a good day. Everyone did their practising. There was lots of outdoor play. Erin and Noah decided to try to teach themselves to play soccer. Neither has ever played. They got a kickball out and took shots and made a pylon course for dribbling the ball practice. I did a fair bit of gardening (digging over the soil and creating two 4x15-foot beds, mixing in some wood ash and compost).

I read aloud from a magazine this morning, a funny article about the "slow food" movement (pro-slow-food). The kids were mildly interested and we talked about a bit of this and that. I should read more like this to them, rather than always just fiction at bedtime story-hour. We did a lot of tidying. I spent almost two hours catching up on the laundry and managed to excavate the laundry room down to floor level. We listened to a variety of music ("The Proclaimers", Bach Oboe works, Jascha Heifetz violin encores, etc., a rather eclectic mix!) that the kids chose. Well, I chose the Proclaimers, and while Noah enjoyed it and practiced keeping the beat and then subdividing it into duplets and triplets, drumming on his knees, Erin objected and put on Bach.

Somebody did an experiment with licorice strings and water. No one will confess.

I ran soil chemistry tests. Only Sophie was even mildly interested. We are seriously potash deficient... hence the wood ash added to the garden today.

Chuck was out of town at an auction for flooring materials. We had a bit of discussion about strategies for pricing and talked about why things are sometimes cheaper at auctions.

We have decided (I think we're all on board) that every Thursday will be a screen-free day. It's as tough for me as it is for the kids, but it helps us all be aware of the additional time we have for ourselves without the computer. And we tend to make an effort to do something nice together when the computers aren't occupying us.

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