Friday, March 24, 2017

Good kids

My children are usually a joy, but they are ten times more enjoyable when I'm not feeling completely worn out. The past several weeks were hard, full of sickness and business trips and...lice...and I've been so tired that my children haven't seemed as charming as they usually do. It was taking all my effort to just get through the day, and the next day, and the next, let alone enjoy my children.

But, no one is sick right now, Andrew really hasn't been away for a full month now (so why am I still complaining about it?), and when I went through Miriam's hair this evening I found a grand total of zero nits. Life is looking up. And, amazingly, my children have been seeming a lot more entertaining, hilarious, and enjoyable the past few days than they have the past few weeks. I have a feeling that has more to do with my outlook than it does with their behaviour.

So without further ado, here is a sequence of funny things my kids have done the past couple of days:

1) I finally have evidence that Benjamin's reading lessons are paying off. Today in the car he said, "Mom, why does the red button say 'syrup'?"

"What red button?" I asked him, completely confused.

"The one on the seatbelt," he said.

I glanced down.

Not the museum

Our pass to the museum expires at the end of this month and we haven't even gone because it's been cold and we've been sick and contaminated with lice and all sorts of good things. With our future up in the air—still!—we're not sure we want to buy an annual pass because we might be moving in the next couple of months. I seriously thought we'd know for sure by now and it's slowly killing me that we don't know. But I'm sure we will eventually know. In the meantime, I'm getting through on deep breaths. 

This morning I told the kids that we could go to the museum if they would play nicely while I was in the shower. And they totally did. They played LEGO (without any screaming, as far as I could tell) and willingly got dressed (unusual for Benjamin) and when I asked if they were ready for breakfast, Benjamin said, "We already had cookies!" Then he quickly added, "But don't worry! That wasn't for breakfast. That was just for fun."

So they did a few things they weren't supposed to while I was in the shower. But overall, they were very well behaved, so off to the museum we went.

It was packed. There was a sign up in the main parking lot saying "This Lot Full" so I turned to go into the overflow parking lot, which an attendant informed me was also full. There were probably 10–15 school busses in the lot (in addition to cars). "You're welcome to park elsewhere and walk to the museum. A lot of people are having luck parking in neighbourhoods. Just make sure not to park in front of driveways or mailboxes," the attendant told me.

"Thanks," I said. And then as I drove away I muttered, "Yeah, right."

Honestly, if the parking lot is that full I don't want to go to the museum anyway (which is why I'm torn about the parking garage they're planning on building (it'll just make it harder to gauge whether or not the museum is overpopulated or not)). Instead we went to the nearby—very empty—playground, had a picnic, and walked the Bronto Trail. It was an enjoyable (and uncrowded) couple of hours.

Zoë went down this slide probably 100 times:

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Red 4 Ed

Due to class sizes—and potential limits on said sizes—some schools in North Carolina are facing the choice of eliminating PE/music/art in order to free up money in the budget to hire more core teachers. This has everybody up in arms, and understandably so...I guess. 

I have to admit that when I think about it I wonder if an elementary school needs a dedicated PE teacher. None that I went to ever had one. Though I think Joe Clark Elementary did, I never actually attended that school. When I was in elementary school our teachers taught us PE. Or another teacher at the school taught PE while our teacher was teaching their class something else, for example, in grade four (at Alice M. Curtis) my teacher was the French teacher for all the grade four classes. The teacher next door was the PE teacher for all the grade four classes. And the other teacher taught...something else. I can't remember what.

I do remember that in grade five Mrs. Bienart (my teacher) taught science. Madame Muir taught French. And the other teacher taught PE. We just rotated on through them.

Alice M. Curtis had a dedicated art teacher, which I thought was totally weird because Leigh didn't. 

I think having a dedicated music teacher is pretty standard...I dunno.

Anyway, part of me thinks it would make sense to eliminate these specialty positions and have the core teachers cover the subjects. Because it's elementary school and finding art projects to do is pretty easy. Making kids run laps isn't terribly difficult either (though I don't think they run laps these days—which is so sad because that was one of the few things I excelled at in PE. Putting a ball through a hoop or hitting a ball with a stick? Not so much. Running around in circles? Totally had that down. My nickname in class was The Energizer Bunny (she keeps going and going and going), this explains my off-again-on-again relationship with long-distance running). 

The other part of me completely understands why these "specials" teachers are worried about losing their positions and why the "core" teachers are worried about having to fill more time during the day. 

Every part of me thinks that public education is important and needs better funding from the government because if we don't invest in our children—the future—then...just...what are we thinking?! Come on.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Music and Bugs and Teeth

The annual second-grade sound parade is this Friday, which means we've been busily brainstorming ideas for musical instruments. Since we're basically veterans at our school, we knew it was coming up for Miriam (we were completely blind-sided when it was Rachel's turn (she made a ukulele...that I can't find any pictures of)) and months ago Andrew brought home some Italian soda in glass bottles. We collected them as we finished them and thought it would be fun to make a flute of sorts, but Miriam couldn't figure out how to blow across the top well enough to produce a sound.

I completely sympathized because I've never been able to do it either...until this year. I made Andrew teach me how one night after we got the kids in bed. I'm basically a pro now. 

But it was just too tricky for Miriam at this stage in her life, so when we finished off a tin of potato pearls we decided she could make a drum instead. Here's our finished product:

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sunday that one day

Rachel has been sick this weekend, which I suppose is a blessing in disguise. We left her home while we all went to sacrament meeting, tucked in on the couch, with her favourite show on, with snacks galore and a cell phone so we could communicate at will. The law in North Carolina is that no one under the age of eight can be left alone because of fire hazards. But she's almost ten. Plus I told our neighbour that I was leaving her. This neighbour has a child Rachel's age and we've done the same for her (been on call in case of dire emergency).

The emergency wasn't with Rachel, however. 

The emergency was with Miriam.

We were in a bit of a rush as we were leaving the house because obviously playing Barbies is more important than finding shoes or brushing hair. I instructed Miriam to grab a brush and a headband—she could do her hair in the van. So that's what she did. 

Choir practice is before church, so although we're typically a few minutes late for choir we are wildly early for sacrament meeting. Still, I wasn't really going over my children's appearance because I was singing in the choir and then trying to make Zoë behave for the few minutes of prelude.

Soon Zoë spotted a nursing cover in the diaper bag, which reminded her that nursing is fun. Daddy told her that she wasn't going to nurse during sacrament meeting and she started throwing a hissy fit, so the two of them spent most of sacrament meeting wandering the halls. 

I was sitting with Miriam and Benjamin, trying to convince them—Benjamin, in particular—to behave reverently. I happened to glance at Miriam's head as I was reaching for the water tray and noticed a little wriggling insect dancing about on the crown of her head. My heart sank and I pulled out my phone (yes, in the middle of sacrament), opened my browser and searched for "head lice" because, honestly, I haven't spent a large quantity of time dealing with head lice and had no idea what to look for. But that thing on her head did seem to match the picture on the screen. 

It was a Big. Fat. Louse.

Saturday, March 18, 2017


Yesterday Benjamin wanted to wear his footie-jammies but they weren't in his drawer (or on his floor) so he decided to paw through the dryer, and then he decided that perhaps he should just empty the dryer since it's difficult to search through the dryer when it's full. So he started carting armfuls of laundry to the couch, piling them on top of the two loads that were already sitting there (it's fine; don't judge).

"I'm doing something to make you happy, Mom!" he cheerfully chirped while making a trip through the living room. "I'm making your laundry pile higher and higher!"

Thanks, buddy! Just what I wanted: an ever-growing pile of laundry.

I guess I already had that, only before it had always been the dirty piles self-propagating around the house and yesterday it was the clean pile self-propagating (and surely that's a treat).

Leprechaun's Day

St. Patrick's Day was a little underwhelming at our house this year. Benjamin wouldn't even wear green; it was like he was boycotting tradition. It isn't even that he doesn't have anything green. He does. In fact, he's wearing green today. He's just not a conformist.

Everyone else wore green, but that's about all we did to celebrate.

Our milk and toilet water stayed their regular colour. No leprechaun came to mess up our house. We didn't even set a trap because we're lame leprechaun protectionists. No rainbows spontaneously sprouted anywhere in our house. We found no gold. We ate no green food (unless lettuce counts).

Some years I can get into the spirit of the holiday. But this year...not so much.

"I don't remember St. Patrick's Day ever being this big of a deal when we were growing up," I said to Andrew last night.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Underwear and weaning

This morning I gave Zoë the choice of wearing a diaper or wearing underwear. Knowing that underwear means she's required to sit on the potty—something she's a little too impatient/stubborn for—she confidently selected a diaper. So I put a diaper on her and then helped her into her pants. 

A little while later she walked up to me all smug and announced, "Un-nuur."

She'd managed to (mostly) pull a pair of underwear on over her pants. She insisted on wearing them all day long. Here she is proudly showing them off:

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Everything is purple, but some things are more purple than others

Zoë recently fell in love with the concept of colour. Unfortunately, until yesterday her only word for any colour was "purple." Everything is purple, but if something is actually purple it gets a more emphatic pronunciation. 

If you ask her to, for example, pick up the green crayon, she can do that. But when you ask her what colour that crayon is she will answer "Purple!" Blue is purple, red is purple, black is purple. Purple is PURPLE!

Yesterday, however, she repeated the word yellow. So that's progress.

Muppets follow a similar rule. Every muppet is Elmo, but some things are more Elmo than others.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Grumpy dinner

Like I mentioned, we've all been a little under the weather over here. Mostly Benjamin and Zoë have been acting normal (despite high temperatures and coughing fits), though they've each had a sluggish day. They've both been so terribly grumpy though!

Two days this week I have sent Benjamin to his room to calm down, only to find him fast asleep in his bed (which is basically unheard of for him). One day Zoë was so grumpy that the only thing I could do was hide out in my bedroom with her. She kept screaming at everyone else.

When dinner time rolled around, Rachel offered to make something for herself and her poor, starving siblings. Our conversation went something like this...