Tuesday, March 30, 2021
Saturday, March 27, 2021
At dinner I announced that I had purchased everyone's math curriculum for next school year: Introduction to Geometry for Rachel, Introduction to Algebra for Miriam (used by Rachel this year, once Miriam is finished with Pre-Algebra, which she hopes to do over the summer), Beast Academy 4 for Benjamin, and Singapore 1 for Zoë. Except when I said "Singapore" I accidentally said "Singlepore."
"That's like when you get one of those itty-bitty milk cartons. Only one serving fits inside..." I said.
"Or it's like someone who isn't married and doesn't have any place to live," Rachel offered.
"Or it's like if you sweat a lot in one location because you only have one tiny opening," Miriam said.
And with that we had single pour, single poor, and single pore.
And we laughed so hard multiple people were crying into their dinners.
Friday, March 26, 2021
We had a rather large storm system come through yesterday, which meant that for the first time in a long time we spent most of our day inside (we've been spending a lot of time honing our bike skills recently). Here's Zoë reading to WaffELLES:
We may need her to stop reading to the cat quite so much because this cat is getting too smart for her own good. We've known she's been able to turn a light on for herself in the basement (it's a pull-string switch, which she manages to grab after climbing on top of a shelf) but most recently she's learned to open the door to her living quarters. We like to tuck her in for the night because she can be a bit of a mischief maker (see: turning on lights and opening doors) and it's not like her "quarters" are cruel—she gets half the basement, with plenty of things to climb and scratch at her leisure. But, it is void of people and she likes to be by people (not on people; just by them).
Thursday, March 25, 2021
James P. Gee said, "For humans, memory and retrieval (recall) are closely connected. And retrieval—and the uses we make of what we retrieve—can and does change our memories. Even if a memory was accurate when we originally stored it in our heads, the material we store in our heads does not always stay accurate. In fact, it is often not all that accurate when we originally store it."
This is because our memories are limited and so we're not going to store everything, "only what was salient and relevant to us in the experience.... So, if you and I have had the same experience...we will have different recollections of the event" because "we will each store a highly edited version that includes some things and leaves out others..." (p. 22 of The Anti-education Era).
I think that information is fairly well known. At least, it's an idea I've heard before, but it's always nice to hear experts reiterate something. Today I got to see this play out before my eyes.
But first a tangent!
Sunday, March 21, 2021
Saturday, March 20, 2021
Wednesday, March 17, 2021
The little kids woke me up this morning asking for help finding green clothes. Evidently we need to plan things out better the night before. Luckily, they all had things in mind and more or less knew where to find their green clothes, so they mostly woke me up to tell me they were going to look for green clothes. Alexander couldn't find his green pants. I couldn't recall him having green pants. So he stormed off and found his green pants by himself (as he should have done in the first place). He needed a little help finding his leprechaun shirt. Zoë needed help buttoning and tying her lovely green velvet dress. She's taken to wearing fancy dresses every day of the week. I guess since we never go anywhere that requires dresses, she may as well get to wear them at home. The older three were completely self-sufficient.
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
Sunday, March 14, 2021
I was reading Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions to the kids the other day and the "H for Hausa" page informed us that they "are called to prayer five times each day. A strong voice rings out like a song, changing, 'Allah is great...'" and I supplemented the text with my own rendition of the call to prayer: "Allahu akbar!"
"Oh, I know that from Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns!" Zoë said.
She is very good at making literary connections. Her world has simply exploded with happiness since she learned how to read.
Yesterday Rachel and Miriam were teasing Zoë and she was getting so upset that eventually I told her that I thought her sisters were pulling her leg. This was rewarded with a blank stare.
"Oh. Do you know what that means?" I asked.
"I do, actually," she said. "It means that they’re joking about something."
"How do you know that?!"
"Well," she began, "In Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Grandpa Joe tells Charlie about Mr. Willy Wonka and the Indian prince who had a palace entirely made of chocolate and Mr. Willy Wonka said that he had to eat it up right after it was built but the prince said, 'I am not going to eat my palace! I’m going to live in it!' But Mr. Willy Wonka was right because there came a very hot day and the palace started to melt. The prince was sleeping—was dozing—in the living room and then he woke up and found himself swimming in a pool of melted chocolate. And, Charlie said, 'Are you pulling my leg?' And Grandpa Joe said no. He was telling the truth. And that’s how I know the truth is the opposite of pulling someone’s leg."
We were all rather taken aback by her elaborate answer and spent the rest of dinner listening to her tell us all about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. She's also read Matilda.
"You should read James and the Giant Peach next," Andrew told her.
"Well, I kind of like these funny, silly stories that I've been reading," Zoë said.
"James and the Giant Peach is silly. Roald Dahl wrote it, too," Andrew told her.
"Too?" she asked, perking up. "Do you mean he wrote Charlie and the Chocolate Factory as well?"
"Yes. And Matilda."
"Oh! I really like this author then!" she said.
Which I think is great! He was one of my favourite authors when I was a kid, too. I did a book report on him in grade five and got an A++++++ (or something like that). I printed it out on pink paper because my mom had inherited several reams of pink paper from...somewhere...and that was all we had for a long time. I think I still have it in a box somewhere.
I'm feeling a little bit like Zoë, like perhaps the world is bullying me, because I was just helping the kids engineer a marble run out of these Lego-compatible marble run pieces (I don't know what they're called) and as I was putting two pieces together I slipped right through a sliced my finger open with the little connector bits. My finger is not happy, but now I have a bandaid to match Zoë's.
Rachel and Miriam had a family history fireside this evening, after spending the last little while preparing for it. I think, in non-COVID times, that this activity would have played out a little differently than it did and would have ended up being more like a family history conference for the kids. But these are (still) COVID times so it was a virtual activity.
The girls were assigned to be prepared ready to discuss one of their ancestors in a small group meeting, so we spent some time helping them decide who to speak about. Rachel ended up choosing Louisa Walker, who my mom mentioned was an interesting ancestor last week when we were talking to her (or the week before that?). I highlighted her in an FHE lesson on Monday because her life kind of went along with the lesson in the Come Follow Me manual (she was part of the original Relief Society, joining when it was about three months old).
Miriam chose to talk about Minnie Berschonsky, Grandma Pat's grandmother. When we were naming Miriam, Andrew didn't realize that his great-grandmother's name was Miriam because he'd always just known her as Minnie. So that was kind of funny to find out! Grandma Pat emailed me a little story about Minnie Berschonsky a few years ago, so I dug that email out for Miriam to read.
The girls were also asked to find a cemetery and take photos for the Billion Graves website, so we went on a little family outing this morning to do so. It was actually quite a lovely way to pass the morning so I think we might try it again sometime!
Thursday, March 11, 2021
Alexander has been sleeping with his little blue shovel lately, and ceaselessly pleading to go to "the sand park." This morning when he woke up he brought me his shovel and again asked if we could go to "the sand park."
"You promised," he reminded me.
Why am I always promising my children things? I actually do my best to not promise things, so I think they interpret "maybe sometime" as a promise, which almost sounds like a them problem...but I digress.
My biggest worry about going to "the sand park" today was Zoë because I didn't think she could keep her injured finger sand-free and I really didn't want to be picking sand out of the depths of her finger. She assured me she would stay out of the sand pit. "I can just play at the playground," she told me. "It will be fine.
And it was fine...for a while.
Wednesday, March 10, 2021
Yesterday was International Women's Day.
I'm not sure when we got excited about celebrating this day. I think we—as a collective culture—are simply, suddenly more excited about celebrating things, about recognizing things. Or perhaps I'm simply more cognizant of it. I don't know.
I first encountered International Women's Day in Russia on March 8, 2004. We had a big party at the church where the men presented the women with a rather terrible piece of artwork—a plaster hanging of the number 8. There was a talent show, which was wonderful to experience, lots of refreshments. And my little "host" brother, Alyosha recited a poem for me that he had learned at school: "My dearest, darling mother / I love you very much / I want you to be happy / on the 8th of March."
Wikipedia tells me that International Women's Day became a "mainstream global holiday following its adoption by the United Nations in 1977," but this does use of global doesn't actually include North America because it was largely not a thing here. I had never even heard of it until living in Russia.
But it certainly is gaining traction here. I'm surprised at how many friends are joining in the celebration of women given the holiday's...uhhh...leftist...origins.
Yesterday was also my friend Holly's first day back at work after starting her (paid!) maternity leave eighteen months ago. When I saw her post a little collage of her sweet little baby—who she got to watch learn how to roll over and crawl and walk and talk, who she got to be with through multiple surgeries (clef lip), who she got to bond with and just be a mom with—I was so happy for her. I was nervous for her, too, because she's scared to go back to work, to leave him behind with a sitter, to be away.
I was also seething mad.
Why don't we have anything like that in place here?
Tuesday, March 09, 2021
Zoë seems to be a little accident-prone lately so today I will share another one of her little adventures (there will be gruesome pictures after the jump). We were taking a little afternoon stroll when Zoë, who had been walking along the curb, encountered a "tickle bush." Now, tickle bushes (which are really just decorative grasses) are so named because we have a longstanding tradition of wheeling the stroller next to them in the summer when they're lush and billowy. In the fall and winter and early spring they're a little less lush and billowy and more dry and poky, so we tend to avoid them.
Monday, March 08, 2021
We sat down for dinner this evening, which was very exciting (because it was fast Sunday and eating is simply more exciting when you're hungry) and also rather busy (because the girls had a fireside to be "at" at 6:00 and I had class at 7:00 (I usually don't have class on Sundays but today we did) and we were sitting down at 5:38). Alexander proudly announced, "I can make a cat noise!"
"Let's hear it," I said.
Alexander clenched his little fists and started shaking with effort.
"Well...?" I prompted him. "Are you going to do it or what?"
He responded by clenching his fists and shaking his little body again.
"Did you hear that?" he asked, relaxing.
"Hear what?" I asked. "You didn't make any noise."
"Listen!" he demanded...and then he just clenched his fists and shook his body some more.
We all stared at him in confusion until I realized what was going on.
"Oh!" I gasped. "He's hearing a noise—a purring noise—inside his head! You're making a purring noise like the cat makes when she's happy?"
"Yeah!" Alexander said, clenching his fists and shaking some more. "Like this. Listen!"
He had us all clenching our fists as tightly as possible until we experienced what I think might be described as an isometric tremor, a tremor which "occurs during a voluntary muscle contraction that is not accompanied by any movement..." I'm not sure quite what's making the noise...something vibrating in our ears...or something. Anyway, only the person forcing the tremor can hear the, uh, purring noise.
He didn't really want to repeat his performance for the camera (isn't that always the way), so here's a little half-hearted attempt at it:
Friday, March 05, 2021
"Do you remember a while ago when you said, when you promised we could do an art project with pastels?" Zoë asked me the other day.
"Yes," I sighed.
Pastels can be so messy. Sometimes I'm good at being a mess-tolerating, mess-encouraging, mess-loving mom. And sometimes...I'm just not. And pastels can be so messy. And they're oil-based, not water-based, which just complicates the clean up and...
"Have you thought about how you're going to keep that promise?" she asked me.
She likes to keep me on my toes.
Along with our three large trees, our tree removal guys took out the two smaller trees in that area. We were planning on eventually taking them out ourselves because they aren't so big that we couldn't have managed it. But the company said they would do it for free since they needed the room to work and believed the smaller trees would inevitably end up smashed anyway (unless they tried really hard not to smash anything...but they're working in a relatively small space and the trees are ginormous and...).
So Andrew gave them permission to take out the smaller trees.
Alexander was horrified when he saw them cut into my magnolia tree. This wasn't part of the plan!
I was sitting in my chair, looking out the window at the men at work (and talking to Bridget and Crystal) and, honestly, feeling a little sad about my magnolia tree (because—you guys!—it hadn't even blossomed yet! It was far too young to die!) when Alexander burst into my bedroom, crying, "They cut down your favourite tree!"
We said goodbye to our trees today. Secretly I hope this day would never come because I love trees...but they were creating problems in our yard. We really need to put some terraces (and some drainage) in the hill in front of our house but we can't really do that with the trees there. And the trees hadn't been tended to well and were sickly (sicklier than we thought). So we said goodbye.
Here are some farewell pictures we took yesterday afternoon by the big maple tree: