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Today was the first day I implemented our beads for time system for using the Wii. Grandma bought us this Wii years and years ago and it has mostly been in storage since then. I want to start exercising more so I pulled it out (and found a TV to hook it up to), necessitating the institution of a System for ensuring that children do not play it all day long. Here’s what we are doing.

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I had wanted to go much fancier than string on greasy cardboard with plastic pony beads, and eventually I imagine I will put some dowels on cup hooks, but for now this works.

Verdi’s beads are fish, Bear’s beads are cats, and Terran’s are dogs. If Verdi reads for an hour or plays outside for an hour, he can move a bead from the reading/outdoors side over to the Wii side. He may only play Wii when there is a bead over there. For every half an hour he plays on the Wii, he must move a bead back over to the reading/outdoors side. In this way, I ensure that the children never spend more time playing video games than playing outside or reading. Other rules are: no Wii before schoolwork is done for the day; no Wii without asking first; books read must be new books, not old books one is re-reading for the billionth time. (Do your kids do that? Mine would re-read Life of Fred and Horrible Histories for hours every day and never read anything else.)

So, today was slow moving. We are all still feeling unwell but it was the last day for Little League signups and we had a bunch of library books to pick up so I took Terran out to do those things and let the big boys hang out at home.

Verdi read all day, Axecop (the book, not the website; this is a comic a college-aged brother draws of his preschool-aged brother’s superhero games), Optical Illusions (the comic about evolution), the latest issue of Science News, and Walking the Earth: The History of Human Migration. (Have I mentioned, I meant to do ancient history this year but it’s accidentally been an entire year of prehistory?) I also saw, as I was walking out the door, a long list in Verdi’s handwriting of D&D character stuff. Verdi hates using a pen or pencil so I am always glad whenever I see that he’s practicing that.

Bear, asked what he did today, claimed he just did “stuff.” Upon further questioning, he revealed that he read The Fiendish Angletron (the trig book in the math series from the people who do Horrible Histories), The Mean and Vulgar Bits (fractions in the same), and Nasty Nature (a science book from the Horrible Histories folks). He has read all these before. I said, “Did you learn anything NEW from them?” He said, “Yeah. I learned about some frogs that have poisonous skin, and about tortoises, which are like turtles but are reptiles.”

“Learn any new math?”

“Um, adding fractions by multiplying them instead of dividing them. Which is a lot easier. Sometimes.”

On the computer, Bear made a giant palace in Minecraft for his little brother and his little brother’s best friend, and a secret underground base for himself and his own best friend. I asked if he drew anything today. He ran to get what it was. He showed me two pages of rules for a game, saying, “I drew AND wrote!” The rules are illustrated with representations of the objects used in the game.

Terran went on a lovely spring walk with me. We hit the library for some new Spanish DVDs and then went home, where he mostly just did very messy art projects that involved cutting up tons of pieces of paper. He wrote a letter to his godmother. It’s one of those terribly awkward letters from a child of divorce that a parent feels like she needs to edit so it doesn’t look like she wrote it for him as a jab to the ex. “I mish you and i tride to send other letters but my dad lost dem.” His spelling is getting much better but I’m still thinking about doing a formal spelling program with him. His brothers didn’t need it. They came out of the womb with excellent visual memories. They can just tell when a word looks wrong. Terran hasn’t had enough practice noticing words. I think English is starting to sink in and incorrect spelling look wrong to him but I can’t be sure. We then went on a bike ride to the Little League park. He played on a playground with a little girl, making fast friends with her (such that she cried when he left). He’s a social butterfly. On the way home we stopped at Food Not Bombs and I dropped him off to help make a vegan freegan meal. One of the hippies told me he was so sweet and mooshy and very good, helpful. Another one of the hippies, who has known Terran much longer, said, “Yeah, he was good. He didn’t get bored this time.” He stayed late because his dearest friend showed up. When he arrived home he reported that he learned more about composting protocol and slicing bananas.

Bedtimes have been rough this week so I’m going to put on an audiobook for the boys tonight and see if that helps distract them all from telling each other to shoosh already. (Really, that is what they fight about in their bunks at night. “Be quiet!” “AAAH, stop talking!” “YOU stop it!” “Mama, Bear won’t stop saying to be quiet!”) I checked out E Aster Bunnymund and the Warrior Eggs at the Core of the Earth.  I expect it to go over much better with Terran than the big boys, but my thirteen-year-old sister loves this series, so I guess we will see. Right now Bear is sitting in the same room where Terran is listening to it, but Bear is browsing through Axecop. Verdi is in his room with his head plugged into headphones, listening to instrumental soundtracks from sci-fi shows while he reads Ender’s Game.

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