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Monday, May 20, 2024

Future Artist?

This morning Phoebe was drawing in a little notepad our sweet neighbours brought by in some birthday party goody bags for the kids (we missed the party, unfortunately). She ended up with this:


When I asked her what she'd made, she told me it was a person. And, indeed, I can see a person in there! I just thought it was timely because although Phoebe hasn't seen the recently unveiled portrait of King Charles she was certainly channeling some Jonathan Yeo vibes:


Horseflies at the pool

This morning I finally finished reading the kids our last out-loud book for the school year (not that I will stop reading to them altogether; in fact I just read to them for a half hour before bed...but this is our last out-loud read-together school book for the school year). We read An Impossible Thing to Say by Arya Shahi, which I was initially drawn to because it's about Iranian diaspora. My brother Patrick is dating a girl from Iran and so I think it's good for us to be learning a bit about Iranian history and so forth (we recently read Everything Sad is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri out loud at bedtime and had Benjamin read Dairus the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram and I recommended The Complete Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi to Uncle Patrick as well while he was here...but I'm also kind of wondering where the female-centered stories are for contemporary CYAL so I'll have to do some research to see what I can find). 

Anyway, the book also got bonus points for being a novel in verse. Shahi is a rapper, himself, so poetry would be a natural avenue for a book, I suppose. And my kids really appreciated the rap verses he included—lots of fun rhythms and rhymes. 

And I loved how the end of the story didn't resolve everything. The grown ups were left to make their own messy choices while Omid learns to be comfortable with his emerging identity as a thespian and rapper and Farsi-speaker and so forth, understanding that life will just...continue being messy while also being okay. Mess is...normal. It was lovely. 

I didn't really know much about it before we started reading it. I just saw it pop up on some list somewhere and immediately put it on hold at the library and then forgot about it until it came in...and then selected it to read out loud to the kids because it was on my own personal list of books to read. 

It ended up fitting just perfectly into our year because we spent the year reading Shakespeare and the last play we read was A Midsummer Night's Dream. In An Impossible Thing to Say, Omid's school is putting on An Impossible Thing to Say and...so we got all the Shakespeare references in the story. 

It was great!

Anyway, Phoebe was a bit of a...handful...while we were reading this morning. And she remained that way throughout the day. She wasn't really ever naughty just...loud and full of energy and exhibiting fierce independence.

For example, here she is sitting on the stairs slathering herself in sunscreen:

Doot-doot-doot-doot-doo

I've been the primary chorister for about two months now and feel like I'm starting to settle in. At any rate, I know the kids a little better and they know me a little better and we're all willing to have a good time together. The first week I left feeling a little bit like they'd eaten me alive...but things are going better now. 

We've had some fun and successful lessons/activities. And we've had a few activities fall flat. 

That's the way things go, right?

I can tell when an activity goes over well because then Zoë or Alexander will offer to teach Family Home Evening...using my music lesson from the day before. I think that's totally okay, though, because mimicking a lesson is an excellent way to learn how to teach. 

That's how I initially trained as a swimming instructor. 

When I started teaching swimming lessons I was actually too young to have gone through the Red Cross Water Safety Instructor (WSI) certification course that our recreation center required to teach. But I had said in my lifeguarding interview that I was absolutely interested in teaching swimming lessons. For some reason they didn't realize how old I was, so they just banked on me teaching swimming lessons that summer. 

Because I wasn't technically certified, I couldn't sign any of my own report cards or anything. But they still had me teach as a...co-teacher. I would shadow a certified teacher for the first swimming session of the morning and then would simply...repeat that same lesson the rest of the day with my own classes...over and over again...until my shift was over. 

And then I'd get up and do it all again the next day. 

Honestly, I think I learned more that summer of shadowing my good friend Sam than I did when I finally went through the process to get my WSI certification. I'm really good at teaching "level three" swimming skills!

Spring Piano Recital

On Saturday between helping Grandpa move out of his place in the morning and into Darla's house in the afternoon, Zoë and Miriam had their end-of-year piano recital and awards ceremony. I should probably clarify that "year," in this case, refers to the school year (which our piano studio follows). My littler kids were confused about all the different meanings "a year" can hold—a fiscal year, a school year, a calendar year, a leap year...

Anyway, we had a crew helping at Grandpa's house in the morning, and then parted ways—Rachel and Benjamin went up to Darla and Grandpa's—and the rest of us went to the recital.

A couple of the moms were talking about Phoebe, asking me if she was the same little baby they'd seen at the recital last year...and she was the same baby—just a year older! 

Here she is in May 2023:


Thursday, May 16, 2024

What it's like having teenagers

Being a mother to young children is relentless. They need you very first thing in the morning, all throughout the day, and into the night as well. Phoebe recently developed a little "chirp," where she says, "Mom. Mom. Mom," at just the right pitch to make my skin crawl. It's incessant. All. Day. Every. Day. 

Teenagers aren't like that so much. 

I can go hours without seeing my older girls. They host their own parties. They skip out on things they never used to skip out on (like trips to the library and swimming pool).

They are so capable. They do laundry. They cook. They keep up with their school work. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Freudian slips: Dishwashing edition (and a cake story for dessert)

We were finishing up dinner this evening...relatively late...because we had things like swimming and music lessons...and we were reminding the kids about their "dinner jobs." One child is in charge of clearing the table, one child is in charge of doing the dishes, one child is in charge of tidying up the floors, and one child is in charge of taking care of the cat (and garbage, if needed). Alexander helps out here and there or helps keep Phoebe entertained and out of the way. 

It sounds like a well-oiled machine, doesn't it? 

After all, we're pretty experienced parents now. We have systems and things like that...

Alas, systems are always better in theory than they are in practice (at least from our experience), so it really works like a rusty, piece-of-junk machine. 

But it's working (I guess), so that's all that matters.

Monday, May 13, 2024

Mother's Day

This Mother's Day the kids let me stay in bed while they made me breakfast. Andrew was also staying in bed because he took the middle-of-the-night Phoebe shift and fell asleep in her bed. 

Zoë made the egg for me (though she thinks she may have cooked one side too long because she left it on the stove unattended while she worked on my picture and heard it "popping and whistling" in the pan, but it was delicious so I'm sure it was just fine). Alexander washed the tomatoes and filled my cup with water. Phoebe got the ice.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

East Palisades Trail

Feeling like we haven't gone on a family adventure in ages, we decided last night that we'd go for a hike today. Miriam suggested hiking to see the bamboo grove at East Palisades Trail, so that's what we did. 

Here's everyone at the trailhead:

 

Thursday, May 09, 2024

Swimming stories and Phoebe tales

This morning we went to the pool to do some practicing before swim tryouts. We'd gone to the pool on Monday afternoon for several hours, but it just so happened that a couple of our co-op families joined our pool so they showed up and then all my kids wanted to do was swim. Naturally, that is something that should happen at a pool (and I understand that) but I did want to make sure my kids would be able to pass the swim test to get on the swim team that I already paid for...you know? 

The test isn't hard—they just have to swim one length of the pool without stopping—but it's early in the swim season and my kids...haven't ever done competitive swimming...or formal swimming lessons...so I just wanted to give them a few more "mom" lessons so they could feel...readier. 

Yesterday we didn't make it to the pool because we had trouble getting anything done and so simply couldn't make it out the door. And by the time we were ready to make it out the door I was not in any shape to take them out. So I took a nap instead.

So this morning we went to the pool and we did quite a bit of playing, but we also worked on our strokes a little. Zoë needed to be reminded to keep her ears in line with her shoulders, and just doing that improved her stroke (and endurance) significantly. If she can just remember that one thing, she'll have no trouble making it across the pool. 

Phoebe loves going to the pool (so it was a little soul crushing to her when we didn't go to the pool yesterday) and very sweetly asks for me to teach her, too. "Mommy teach me swimming! Teach me again!"

We mostly just practice back floats and kicking and things. She also loves to jump into the water (kind of—she kind of squats and falls into my arms).

And after she jumps in the pool she comes back up out of the water and splutters, "Do it 'gain!"

*****

This afternoon the kids and I spent some time in the garden this afternoon while Daddy took Miriam and Zoë to their piano auditions (which they passed with flying colours). Benjamin and I were doing some actual work—weeding and tending and planting—Alexander and Phoebe were collecting worms and making habitats for them. Admittedly, keeping Phoebe occupied and out of trouble is actual work, so Alexander was working, too. And Phoebe was engaged in play, in the hard work of exploring her world.

And I was grateful those two were so passionately engaged in their labours while Benjamin and I were engaged in ours.

Tuesday, May 07, 2024

More wedding pictures

Because I need to put these pictures somewhere other than my phone, here are a few pictures from Grandpa and Darla's wedding...

Here's a sweet shot of Zoë and Darla walking back inside the church together after family pictures: