Friday, September 19, 2008


I love the Royal Ontario Museum. It is one of those places that just make us happy. Back when we lived in Toronto we had a family membership we would go at least twice a month or sometimes more, especially in the dead of winter. We didn't have a great morning and by noon I knew we just needed to blow off to the city for some fun. Since we hadn't been back to the ROM since last Christmas and had a few free passes on hand, we figured what the heck.

I knew I had a kindred spirit in Alex. We could spend hours mulling over artifacts together. Every collection fascinating in their own way. We have our favorites, of course. The dinosaur and early mammal area is a real treat. I feel like a little kid standing next to these beautiful giants. Egypt is another favorite. That collection spun off a lot of unit-study type activities for us a year ago. Alex spent months obsessed with all things Egyptian. He learned how to write his name in hieroglyphics. He learned how to make a mummy (and experimented with an apple). He has touched on the geography, language and history of this period. It was real meaty stuff and a lot of fun.

Today was special for me in another way. I got to experience the ROM with Izzy in a way that I couldn't when she was younger. I never give this kid enough credit. It's almost like she just tags along for the ride and picks up scraps along the way. Today she wanted to know the names of the dinosaurs and what they ate. We studied the honey bees together. She spent a half hour at a computer and listened to bird calls while I read her the species names. Better than that, she actually took the computer and moved the cursor with the mouse to the sound icon and made it work all on her own. No help from me, thank you very much.

When your first child is quite precocious and verbal you stand up and take notice right away. Then you spend an awful lot of time enriching their environment and presenting new material to keep them going. I've told friends that the difference in parenting these two kids can be best summed up this way. When Alex was born I was constantly reading the baby books, waiting for him to reach the next milestone. By the time Izzy came around I had given most of the books away and whenever she reached a milestone I was caught completely off-guard and convinced it was much to soon to have done (X, Y or Z)...wasn't it? This is what homeschooling is like for us. Alex and I could see a milestone coming, like reading, and we worked towards it. Not fanatically or anything. Just that there was an awareness and eagerness to see it all coming together. Izzy can learn to count to 20 and I'll be like, huh, you knew that?! Actually she can count to 11 but continues on to 20 in a very funny way. She always stops at 20 though.

It really was a lot of fun today. After work, Rob joined us and we went to our favourite noodle place and browsed a few used book stores. So it wound up being pretty perfect day in the end.

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