Friday, August 26, 2005

Friday - Day in the Life

I vow that I will continue day-in-the-life blogging through the weekend, since this week has been one long mess of drywall and paint. I feel like I've been ignoring the kids.

The good news is that I finished today! I got the second coat of paint on the ceiling, then both coats on the walls. I washed brushes and rollers and paint trays almost non-stop, pulled off the masking tape, cleaned up dust and splatters, put away all the paraphernalia, and prepared to move the dining room table out of the family room (where it's resided since June 19th) back into the dining area. Erin did a bit of painting with me. Noah and Sophie took apart the light fixtures and washed them and re-assembled them. Sophie helped me cut squares of old carpet and glue-gun them to the legs of chairs and tables to protect the new cork flooring. When Chuck got home we ceremoniously moved the table back and had a humble supper, luxuriating in our actual dining area. Brilliant!

In the midst of it, the kids amused themselves for most of the day. There was a lot of "Planet Egypt" imaginative play on the hammock and gym rope (these have been great investments this summer!) and on the play structure.

There was a lot of computer time. Today's game of choice in Zoo Tycoon. What the kids did with it today is typical. They use a cheat to get limitless amounts of money, and then they use that money to create an imaginary world of a type that the program was not really intended for. Today they used Zoo Tycoon to build a resort town populated by themselves and their friends, adapting all the construction options to create homes (with massive kids' bedrooms!) and grocery stores and swimming pools and hiking trails and boating lakes and a church and school and parks. All with animals roaming around. There was a moment of panic when the tigers got into the grocery store!

Noah and Erin played Carcassonne. Sophie used the Labyrinth card game to create complex mazes. There's been a real resurgence of interest in family games this week. Often they're not touched from week to week.

The day trickled away.

After supper, the kids got busy practising. The way it worked today was typical.

Erin sat down at the piano. She practices completely independently.

Noah headed off to get his viola out. I went and spent five or ten minutes with him. He has a goal chart with eight particular tasks listed that he is working towards 'making them easy'. I try to touch base with him on these goals every couple of days. We worked together on the ones that weren't 'easy' yet. We decided not to set new goals to replace those that are easy just yet... maybe in a couple of days. He does the lion's share of his practising independently these days. I wish we could work together better, but this is our compromise for now. He needs his space.

After they've finished, they switch tasks. Erin heads out to practice her violin, and Noah comes to the piano. I hover a little bit, working with him for about half of his practising. Unless he's in a really receptive mood, I try to limit my input to suggestions I give him just before he starts to work on something. If I suggest something while he's already working on it, he takes it as a criticism and bursts into tears. This is true no matter how non-critically I frame things. Even if I say, cheerfully, "Hey, here's an idea I heard about once. I don't know if it's totally out to lunch, but I once heard someone practice staccato chords like this [demonstration]. Don't know if you think that's too weird." He'll likely start crying or tell me to get lost and leave him alone and sit "on strike" at the piano for 5 minutes trying to recover from this afront. So I try to catch him just before he starts the Arabesque and remind him of the three places that probably need extra work (based on what I heard yesterday) and suggest some ways of doing that work.

Once Noah finished his piano, Sophie went and pulled out her violin. Fiona began insisting on practising too (typical). So Fiona and I got out her cardboard violin and bow and spent three or four minutes, with Sophie patiently watching, working on bow-hold, on setting her own violin-hold, and on the rhythmic-motor pattern of the first Twinkle rhythm. Then Sophie and I started to work together on her violin work. We did about half an hour of good work together. Sophie is learning really well the past month. She's learned "Two Grenadiers", "Theme from Witches' Dance" and almost all of "Gavotte from 'Mignon'" in the past six weeks. Her bow direction and bow arm mechanics are much better. She is feeling more confident and is almost ready to get back to some sight-reading work (she's very good at reading, but it is hard work to do sight-reading practice, so it's the first thing she gives up when she feeling a bit discouraged, as she was this spring).

After practising I had a bath with Fiona and got the drywall dust out of my hair and the flecks of paint off her. Noah and Sophie played outside with the puppy until well after dusk. Erin went off to bed early-ish, because she's off to a friend's early tomorrow, and knows she needs to get her practising done first thing. That solved the issue of Sophie getting to bed at a time that suits her easily.

We read the last chapter of "The Bad Beginning". We'd lost the book in the family room about three weeks ago, and it had been excavated out of the chaos when we moved the dining room table out. Then we read aloud from "The Star of Kazan." I went to bed right away because I'd been up until past two the night before painting (and blogging!).

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