Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Day in the Life

I keep meaning to do this. A photo journal of what we are up to. Each day couldn't be more different than the last but many activities overlap. This was a day last week. It makes me laugh when I think back to it.

Start with stickering Izzy. The girl is forever covering her body with marker and stickers. A tattoo junkie in the making, we suspect. Thought it would be fun to use the letter stickers to name parts of her body. When Rob tucked her in that night she still had "IZZY" stuck to her forehead, lol.

Then the kids played with Alex's box car he made for Beavers. Tonight they bring the boxes back to watch a movie at the drive-in. Very cute.

Then Alex plays Lego...

...while Izzy gets into my make-up doing a bang up impression of a garish divorcee.

And the day wouldn't be complete without a total disaster. This one being the "tent/cave" they made. This room was completely clean the day before. They even raided the dirty clothes hamper to cover up cracks where the it was being infiltrated by light. Mommy was not impressed. Such a headache for an hours worth of peace. Only when they make a mess of this magnitude are they so cooperative and quiet.

Piano and Scrambled Eggs...a Life Lesson

Alex is doing better in piano these days. At least with the teacher he is. Alex was never very delicate with piano. He was a keyboard masher until about a year ago when Rob showed him how to handle the keys one at a time. He gets fidgety pretty quickly too. So, I am thrilled to bits that he seems calmer during his lessons. He plays with the feet much less frequently than in the beginning. He is attentive and enjoys it very much. Until he has to practice.

Unfortunately he started piano when we started the kitchen. That meant little or no practicing at all the first month in. So he didn't start out with great habits. Add to the fact that he is his father's son (complains when things are challenging...thankfully many things come easy to the guys) and practice time becomes a battle of will. He will try a song. Make a mistake. Growl at himself. Declare it impossible. Be coaxed into trying again. Does better but is still sulky. Lather, rinse, repeat.

So we sit and chat. Yes, he likes piano. No, it is not fair to take up the teacher's time if we don't hold up our end of the bargain. Yes, we are better at practicing because we have the routine of doing it every day right after breakfast. No, we don't need a whole song and dance about how terrible he is at it every single day.

I needed a new angle. It came to me when I had cleared the table to start our weather diagrams. The kids were still sitting while while we had an animated discussion about all my failures in life. Like the pirate ship cake that was too square and I had to reshape. We talked about how and when I learned to bake. We laughed about all the hits and misses over the years and that one does not wake up one morning with the ability to make a castle cake. It starts with learning to bake a basic cake. So I grabbed two bowls and the carton of eggs. I passed each of them an egg and told them to crack it into the bowl...without shells, of course. Naturally, they wound up with fists full of crushed egg, complete with yolk drippings. I turned to Alex and said, "Wow, you really stink at this. Guess you should just give up and put the eggs away, huh?" We both chuckled. They each went on to crack two more eggs. The third being nearly perfect for both.

When we were cooking the eggs we talked about how most things in life take effort. Some more than others. Master egg cracking took about three tries. Piano, Alex agreed, was much more complicated than cracking an egg so should be approached with more patience. Anything worth having, like scrambled eggs for lunch or the ability to play piano takes time and effort. And much less complaining.

I don't know if this lesson will stick but I think I got my point across.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Worst Chorus Line, Ever!

I finally got to watch Izzy in ballet class this morning. Not without struggle, of course. Rob had to be at the bank for 2am to help oversee some changes to the website and that meant he got to come home to bed right before I shuffled the kids out the door. Alex brought a book (one of those Bones graphic novels which he finished in record time) and Izzy brought her attitude. As soon as we got to the studio she went into full prickly mode. She would not go into the class. She would not dance. She would not be happy that daddy stayed home. I finally coaxed her into the room only to have her sit on the sidelines and fix an icy glare on those who dared look at her. After the warm up one of her teachers, Miss Paige, claimed her hand and kept her by side for most of the routine.

The routine is something they are practicing for the end of year recital. It is a big deal. Costumes, big venue, tickets...the whole nine yards. The girls started up and I was caught between crying and laughing. It was so sweet and so funny all at once. The girls, when one (or rather several) weren't breaking the line to run out of the room were moving to stand next to their best friend of the moment, or leaving the room to go pee, or running up to the window to make silly faces at the parents, or just wandering off for no particular reason. It was quite a sight. They were sloppy, uncoordinated, unsynchronized and outright adorable. Luckily they have another 13 lessons before the big day. My heart goes out to Miss Paige and Miss Sidney. They are so good with the kids. It is like herding cats in that room. Moody and unruly cats. Izzy being one of their more difficult students. I hope they get paid well.

It was great to see Izzy. I have a feeling this may be my last visit to the studio before the end of the year. She prefers Rob taking her. Go figure. Alex was amused. He thought the kids were great. Though he was surprised at how chaotic it could be. Usually Izzy is the youngest in our homeschool groups so seeing a dozen three year olds behaving like three year olds was a shock to him. At one point Alex asked why one of the girls looked sick. Her face was all puffy and blotchy, tears in her eyes. She looked devastated. I just explained that in a room full of three year olds, there was bound to be some tears from time to time. Sure enough that little girl was right as rain minutes later.

Rob worked with a guy who would harass him (nicely) when we were expecting Alex. He once likened life with children to living with bipolar midgets. That thought crossed my mind half way through jazz. Seemed appropriate.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Cloud, meet silver lining.

February sucks. It almost feels like a cursed month. Everyone gets sick and by the time it passes around the four of us, some other bug starts up right on cue. The days are still short and seasonal affective disorder wreaks havoc on people. Doubly terrible when you are bipolar. So classes are missed, you start to feel like a shut-in, the kids are climbing the walls from boredom and sickness fatigue and all there is left to do is count days until spring. My only consolation is that everyone else is suffering from it too. At the last gym class more than half the kids were absent.

Still, something good has come of all this. We've been feeling particularly motivated in the school department these days. I sat down with Alex and came up with a game plan for lessons and projects we would like to accomplish. I think of Spring and Summer as a complete term. I find we do more at that time of year than in the dark days of winter. The kids still get to do all their fun summer stuff, just with a side of math and science. So I came up with the subjects and he narrowed down the topics.

Math - alternate books. Finish Miquon and move on to Singapore. Finish Singapore and move to the next Miquon. No time line here. Just keep trekking on as usual. Math is now scheduled every morning, after breakfast and piano. Minimum two sections (about 4 pages) completed.

Science - Weather, the planets, and oceans are the main topics to be addressed. We will plan projects and unit studies for all three. Right now we are working on weather. Reading books, drawing pictures. Severe weather, like hurricanes are a current favourite.

Geography - We picked three countries to learn about. These unit studies will include learning about the people that live there, touch on language, and include a food lesson. I can't wait until we do Italy, lol. Alex picked Greenland, Spain and Morocco. The latter two because he had visited both as a baby and he wants to incorporate real photos of our trip.

History - Pioneers and the two great wars. With WW1&2 he is more interested in weaponry and modes of transportation, like subs and early planes. After reading the biography of the Wright brothers (on his own) he was fascinated with Orville's contribution to the US War Department and how planes changed basic warfare strategies.

Social Studies - Groups, like families, and our place in society.

Everything else - Some spelling, more writing, working on his comic books and lots of reading.

This gives us an outline. My timeline is pretty loose. Just to try and accomplish as much as we can before September. Its not like we won't be learning a million other things as we go along. Makes me feel better, knowing he would be heading to school all day next year, that we have a plan. Or outline. It can be difficult balancing all the lessons, play-dates and group outings. We can get too caught up with everything else that home lessons feel haphazard at best. Definitely a strike while the iron is hot moment. We are all on the same page and eager to learn. It feels good.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Someone please humour me!

Tell me that this child, my 3 years and 3 months old little girl, is destined to do something creative. Be an adventurous soul. Dabble many exotic pursuits. Then, thirty years from now, I can sit back and chuckle over these early attempts to test mommy's breaking point. Why else would a child constantly write in ink all over her body? Why else would she dump a bucket of water on wood flooring to see if it was really bad for it like mommy says? Why else would she try to glue her hands together...on purpose? Why else would she try to put make up on the cat? Or write on the dining table with applesauce? And this was just in one day! I have never met anyone who immediately disregards everything I have ever said to her and does the complete opposite within a matter of minutes.

So tell me what I want to hear. That at least life with Izzy will never be boring. Thats a good thing? Right? I mean it can only get better. I hear teens are a real hoot to live with!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Stick a fork in it, its done!

No, not the kitchen. and Rob. Tired. Fried. Done. We need a break.

There are so many little things left to do with the kitchen that if we think too hard about it, one of us is going to curl up into a fetal position and start crying in the middle of it. A small silver lining is that it is fully up and functional. We even moved the table back in. Tonight we sat together for our first meal (restaurants not included) since boxing day. Oy! The kids and I even baked a cake for a little celebration. I will say it is a joy to cook in.

So, now that the kitchen is basically a kitchen again, this week we reclaim the living room. Just in time too. We canceled the cable because Izzy is quite the little addict, and Rob and I hardly turn the thing on anymore, so as of tomorrow I`ll be needing reinforcements. Board games, books (I won't go into how bad I feel about neglecting read-aloud books to the kids...thankfully Alex can read on his own and we've discovered audio books), crafts and everything else that has pretty much been banned these last four weeks. Poor neglected kids! It will be such a relief to not be so tied up. Alex was thrilled to just sit at the table and do some math work this morning. Which is great because he is pretty obsessed with adding big numbers these days. He is anxious to get moving.

I am ready for a vacation. Not that we're going anywhere. Just a week from running around or constantly working on the kitchen would be nice. We'll have to see how soon Rob can clear some space on his calendar. Soon.