Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Sadie's Ballet Recital

Sometimes pink is enough to make you happy forever.

Sadie had her ballet recital. It was, possibly, the best day of her life thus far. She richly, deeply enjoyed every minute of it. She was not afraid to be on the big stage at the Roper Theater. In fact, she was thrilled to be out there, and wanted to go back and do it all over again the minute it was finished.

Her ballet school, the Art of Dance Academy, performed a show based on The Wizard of Oz. There were great moments and not so great moments, as I'm sure is true with any performance involving exclusively children. Sometimes the screw-ups are the most entertaining part of the show, right? No one can remember the perfectly executed numbers, but everyone remembers when little Billy dragged little Sally by the hair into her position before spinning her in a pirouette.

Sadie was a munchkin, along with the rest of the girls in her little class. They all wore variations of floofy pink tutus, with floofy pink feathery headdress things on their heads. They were pretty amazingly cute. Here they are on stage, doing their munchkin thing:

One of the awesome parts of the show, for us, was that Benny got to go up on the stage with the magician that was entertaining the crowd between set changes. He was the volunteer assistant from the audience. It was his job, I think, to distract us while the magician was doing magiciany things that changed a dove into a dog. Benny was spectacular -- he danced, he pontificated, he was completely charming. And happy. He got to hold the dove and pet the dog, and when he was doing his wild crazy dance, everyone was screaming with laughter and cheering for him. It was hilarious. He has no self-consciousness, no uncertainy, no embarrassment. Sometimes, that's a hindrance, but sometimes it's awesome.

Sadie's bravery was incredible that day too, fearless little showboater that she was. She stayed backstage with the backstage moms, all through the show after her part, behaving herself on her own -- watching videos and coloring with her friends. And she was a beautiful little ballerina.

This is not the sport that I would have chosen for her -- I've mentioned before about my hesitations regarding ballet. But she loves it so much, how can I argue? She's meant to wear pink floof.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Pirate Homeschool

My son enjoys pirate-related things. He likes pretending to be a pirate. Here he is at his Suzuki Book 3 graduation recital. He is the on on the... left.

This morning I took all of our pirate "gold" and put it into a little "chest." I told him he was a pirate in my employ and gave him a list of jobs he could do to earn his loot, and a list of prices for things he could buy with his treasure.

Payment opportunities:
Math cards: 5 gold
Math on the computer: 2 gold
Latin test: 4 gold
Rosetta Stone: 2 gold
Spanish workbook: 4 gold
Math workbook: 6 gold
Paint: 1 gold
Violin: 3 gold
Piano workbook: 6 gold

Spray park: 15 gold
Planetarium: 15 gold
Cookies (2): 1 gold
Watermelon slices: FREE!

Something special. Just for today. He's busily earning his gold, and he asked first to do math workbook. He hasn't asked to do math workbook in months, in fact I had trouble finding the darn thing because he's been doing all his math on the computer. Interesting.

I have been known to do some silly things to motivate him to do school work. For example, the other day I put three little bells in circle outlines on a piece of paper, with the associated tasks written under the bell. When he finished the task, he could ring the bell. Strangely motivating. He wanted to ring them. Schoolwork was finished rapidly without discussion.

When I first started this parenting thing, I found myself sometimes thinking, "I don't want to start that, because I'll have to do it every day/week/whatever and I'm not prepared to do that." That thinking was wrong. It is always worth it to start something, to do something, to try something, even if you don't want to do it every day or every time, because the one time you do it, it'll be great for your kid. And chances are, by the time you would be called on to repeat it, you've thought of something else to do.

I remember thinking once, "I don't want to take this long way around on our walk, because I don't want to walk this far every day." Wrong thinking. There will be enough days ahead where you are too tired, or it's raining, or you think of a different route, or you go bike riding instead, to limit yourself to doing only things you can always do.

I can remember thinking, "I can't maintain this, therefore I shouldn't start this." Can I think of a new trick to play with schoolwork every day, new bells and whistles, new circuses to put on? No, and I shouldn't. But there are plenty of days where we just bang through a short list of work so we can get out the door to the playground, or where we do no "real" schoolwork at all. When we have a full day at home and I want to accomplish a lot of school, it's worth it to put on a little show. I don't have to ever repeat it.

Don't limit yourself to a level you can maintain. Go the extra mile on only one walk, talk like a pirate for only one day, stay at the playground for three hours, take a ride on that escalator, even if you don't want to do it every walk, every day, every trip, every time you walk past. "Just once" is worth it.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Script Frenzy

Write a screenplay in 30 days. Now, teach your 7 year old to write a screenplay in 30 days. Sweet tea for everyone.

Have you heard of Script Frenzy? No?

Have you heard of National Novel Writing Month? No?

Script Frenzy and National Novel Writing Month are online communities where a bunch of motivated people publicly resolve to write either a screenplay (in June) or a novel (in November) in a month. There is no fee, there is no prize, there is no judging, there are no repercussions for failure -- it's just a way to throw yourself into writing in a mad dash, rather than a thoughtful stroll, along with a bunch of other people doing the same thing.

Fun! I have done Nanowrimo for three years now, and last year Benny did it with me. His novel reached 5000 words (he dictated it to me) and was awesome! This is the first year for Script Frenzy, and I thought, hey, why not drag Benny along for this too. So, we're doing it.

I'm leading Benny and his friend Zoe through this process, or rather watching as they go through it together. It's pretty cool! So far they've learned about character roles (protagonist, antagonist, supporting characters, foils) and plot structure, and archetypal plots -- like the quest plot (Hobbit) vs. the return home plot (Alice in Wonderland) or in some cases both (Wizard of Oz). All this discussion has led to some really interesting discussion and dissection of the movies they know.

For example, Benny told me that the initiating action in "Cars" is when McQueen falls off the semi truck, not when he ties in the race at the beginning. He likened it to Alice going down the rabbit hole and you know what? He's right. I was wrong. The initiating action, or the clinch, or the point of no return, or whatever you call it, is when the character's life goes right off the path and nothing can ever be the same again. So Benny is really understanding this plot stuff -- possibly better than I am!

His movie is called "Benny's Adventures in the Norfolk City World and Beyond the Earth."

I'm writing one too. May we both have interesting months. :D

In unrelated news, here's a picture of Benny with his little sister and one of his favorite dogs: