Tuesday, May 03, 2022

School days, sprinklers, and...some poop stories

Yesterday was a rough homeschooling day. To be fair, we'd just come off a week-long break (for finals week—mine, not the children's) so naturally it takes a while to kick back into gear. It seems almost silly that we took a break given how few days we have left until we hit our 180 day mark. 

To that end, Andrew suggested to the children during FHE last night that they only had eight days left of school, "unless mom decides to fudge the numbers."

Rachel and Miriam's hands flew up to cover their gaping mouths. 

We explained that fudging the numbers wasn't as bad as it sounds. After this week we'll have four days left of school, but I haven't counted any "catch up Friday" days this school year (there have been many more than four) so odds are we've technically accomplished more than our 180 days. Plus we have a few family (field) trips planned out that will be somewhat educational. Considering how few outings we went on this past year (thanks, Phoebe, for complicating things), I don't feel like counting these outings as school days is dishonest. 

We'll be completing some Junior Park Ranger books, for example. See? Educational. 

"So, wait...what does fudging mean?" the girls asked. 

We told them more or less the same thing the dictionary will tell you: that it means to falsify or devise as a substitute; to cheat or to exceed the bounds or limits of something; to fail to perform as expected.

"Oh, that's an actual word?!"

They thought Andrew was using it as a direct substitution word, similar to how The Good Place uses...fork, bench, and shirt. But, no. Andrew was not fudging his language in using the word fudge.


And we are on a countdown to the end of the year. Like I said, yesterday was pretty awful, but today was much better.

The kids did their math with Andrew, who got up early with Phoebe (who ate too much banana with dinner last night, and who stayed up being sad all night because she had a crummy tummy) while I slept in a bit. She was about ready to go down for a nap when I was getting up, so I fed her and put her down for a nap and did some science with the kids.

We're a teensy bit behind in our science curriculum (we have five chapters left), but I think we did pretty well getting through it considering their teacher had a baby in the middle of the school year. That teacher is me. I had a baby in the middle of the school year. But, we'll get through those five chapters sooner or later.

Today we read about circuits so I got out our Makey Makey set and we played around with making closed circuits (or solving open circuits), as well as parallel and series circuits. The kids tested all sorts of things to see whether they were conductors (allow electrons to flow) or insulators (do not allow electrons to flow). They made circuits by gluing tin foil lines onto paper. They fashioned a piano out of a banana, a spoon, a coin, a clip, a National Parks Junior Ranger badge, and a cheese knife. They were holding hands to make a circuit six-people long. It was a fun time. 

Rachel and Miriam weren't learning about circuits today (they're doing biology this year, not physical science), but they joined us for the fun, anyway:

Here's Benjamin's "Electro City Park" circuit board (he was particularly proud of the bridge going over the pond, as well as his flag, which features an atom, with electrons orbiting the nucleus):

Here's the sweet kitty wondering what all the humans were so interested in (she'd been sniffing around our supplies before, and walked across the keyboard a couple of times, before deciding to sprawl out in the sunshine):

And here's Zoë playing There Is a Green Hill Far Away with some help from Miriam because Miriam catches on to new instruments really straight and Zoë kept forgetting whether the scale went banana, coin, clip, or clip, banana, coin. I don't blame her!

Oh, and here's Alexander tasting a 9-volt battery. We'd finished reading in our textbook that "even a very small current of electrons through your body can hurt you very much. You have to be very careful when you use electricity." Alexander is a pretty strict ruler-follower, so he was livid that Miriam would hurt him with electricity—something he'd just been warned against!


The only thing I forgot to do was Alexander's reading lesson. He has two lessons left. Well, one-and-a-half. 

When I realized that I hadn't done his reading lesson yet, Andrew suggested that we do it as part of our bedtime stories. Ordinarily I think this would have been a good plan, but I forgot that Alexander had woken up somewhat early with Andrew and Phoebe and then had a long day of playing. We'd put out the sprinkler in the afternoon, and then the kids were just outside from about 2:00 in the afternoon until about 8:30. 

At one point we had the entire neighbourhood in our backyard! Or almost! 

I only have six kids and two of my kids were off at YW activities and somehow I wound up with nine kids in the backyard. But they were having a great time. They're building zombie apocalypse shelters back there out of branches and things. Our backyard neighbour was passing big logs across the fence for the kids to set up around their "camp fire" as seating. There are lean-tos fashioned in various corners of the yard and on top of the climbing dome sits a pinecone barometer (Benjamin read in one of his survival books that pinecones can predict the weather). 

We put up a slack-line ninja course last week, to keep the kids occupied while I wrote, and it's been a huge draw for the kids. It's their "training" for the zombie apocalypse, of course. Then there's the swing set and the trampoline's basically a super rad backyard.

They have a secret code to get into their zombie apocalypse village—each kid has to give the fence a double tap with a stick before they can enter. So I was sitting on the bench in the front yard, trying to juggle Phoebe and a book, and I hear *tap, tap* *tap, tap* *tap, tap* repeated, you know, for however many kids were tromping back into the yard after collecting their ammo (pinecones) or whatever.

All that playing outside can't be bad for them. 

One common "complaint" about homeschoolers is the lack of socialization, which I'm not too worried about because our house is relatively bursting at the seams when it comes to people population. So the kids are being socialized. But, also, they get in plenty of tromping-around-in-the-woods-with-neighbours time as well. 

So playing outside isn't bad for the kids. But it does make them tired.

I hadn't realized quite how tired Alexander was feeling until he'd read through the story in his lesson once and then I asked him to read through it a second time. This request was in no way a surprise for him. It's simply how reading lessons work. You read the story once to sound it all out, and then you read it again a second time for fluency (and Mommy adds in comprehension questions). 

We're on the penultimate lesson and Alexander really wants to finish so he can get his prize. So I thought he'd be all into it this evening. He read it through the first time without a problem. But when I had him start back up on the top of the page for the second reading, his little voice was quavering as he read, "Hunting for Tigers, Part One."

I looked over and his eyes were brimming over with tears. 

"What's wrong, buddy?" I asked him.

He gulped down some big breaths of air and then blubbered, "I just don't understand why you're making me be so tired!"

So we'll be doing our second reading tomorrow. No worries, sweet boy.

I tucked him into bed and he was out like a light.


Speaking of emotional outbursts from Alexander, he had another one on Friday. 

We were going on a "Grandpa Walk" to deliver some fresh applesauce and check on Grandpa after his colonoscopy. Andrew had taken him to his appointment on Friday morning—and reported all the funny things that Grandpa had done while he was waking up from the anesthesia—and then Grandpa had slept most of the day. 

Rachel made applesauce. That sounded like a nice gentle "first food" after days of colonoscopy preparation. So we decided to take some over to Grandpa and make sure he was still alive. 

(We knew he was either sleeping or dead because our internet went out like five minutes before Andrew had to be in a meeting and he was scrambling to try to get it "back"; part of his scramble involved texting Grandpa to ask if he could come over and use his internet instead, but Grandpa didn't text back (until four hours later) and Andrew managed to reset the router just in the nick of time and...anyway...we were just checking on him to make sure he was okay). 

Zoë and Benjamin ran up ahead.

Usually Alexander will run up ahead with them, but this day he was dawdling by the stroller. I kept having to remind him not to yank on it while going up the hill because that makes it hard to push. He would let go of the stroller and shuffle along, rather glumly. 

I wasn't sure what was wrong with him—was he upset that Zoë and Benjamin had gone too far ahead without him? was he struggling because his shoes were (stubbornly) on the wrong feet? Whatever the reason, he wasn't complaining and he was keeping up, so I decided to just not poke the bear. Sometimes kids get into funks and just need time to sort through their emotions without a grown up needling them.

So we're walking and walking and we get to the top of the hill we live on, ready to turn the corner at "the castle house" and I realize Alexander has fallen behind. I turn around and he's just a few paces behind us, holding onto the stop sign...and his behind.

"Alexander..." I started.

"I just have to go poop, okay?!" he bellowed, cheeks flushing red with effort or embarrassment (not sure which). 

I hollered up to Zoë and Benjamin that we were making an emergency U-turn (they wanted to go on without us but I didn't want them to get to Grandpa's house too far ahead of me, on account of...he wasn't feeling spectacular) and we rushed back home (we had not even made it halfway to Grandpa's house, so going home made more sense). 

Alexander made it just in time and he did the world's biggest poop—big enough to clog the toilet, which is pretty big for a little boy!

We left Andrew home to plunge and were off again.

Along the way we began discussing a mistake that had occurred. Specifically, Miriam had made a mistake on something. And she was feeling stupid about it when she didn't need to because no one really cared (I can't even remember what the mistake was). Her efforts were what were important. 

To make her feel better, we sang a song from 'Daniel Tiger,' as one does. "Keep trying, you'll get better! Try, try, try!"

"Yeah," Alexander said, breaking into yet another 'Daniel Tiger' song. "It's okay to make mistakes! Try to fix them and learn from them, too!"

Then he said, "I sometimes make mistakes, too. Like, today I clogged the toilet! That was a mistake! But Daddy's plunging it!"

We had a long talk about how intestines work and how holding your poopies too long is detrimental because your body keeps sucking more and more moisture out of your waste, turning your poopies harder and harder and bigger and stronger. And we don't want that! That'll clog the toilet (and hurt our poor little bum-bies). 

He and Grandpa, who is alive and well, had a lot to talk about regarding their intestines when we finally arrived.


Speaking of pooping, Phoebe finally passed her post-banana poop today. She was terribly upset about it, did some weird gasping squeaks, and her typical "pushing face" had an added "what is happening to my body?!" flair (this BM was also a bit more solid than she expected), but she managed to fill her diaper and felt much better so we changed her nappy and put her down for, well, a nappy:

But enough about poop and stuff! Let's end on a high note!

The kids did their schoolwork so well today that I put out the sprinkler this afternoon (something I had wanted to do yesterday afternoon because our grass has been looking a little thirsty, but which I didn't feel like doing by the time the afternoon rolled around yesterday because yesterday had been so miserable).

So here the kids are playing in the sprinkler this afternoon (because we've gone from chilly to nearly-sweltering like the flip of a switch):

I didn't make Benjamin cart Phoebe around the whole time; she only stayed in for a few minutes, and then Benjamin was free to play on his own. And she enjoyed it a lot more than her face lets on in this picture...

See, here she is smiling:

Alexander is so cute prancing around behind her:

Look at her being all brave and trying to sit up without even using her arms for support:

Here she is having some drying-off time with Zoë:

She has a cute new swimsuit for the beach, but I didn't want to get it all dirty just before heading to the beach (you know—because it's not going to get dirty at the beach or anything), so I put her in this 2T swim shirt I've been squishing Alexander into the past couple of years.

Here's shivery Alexander:

And here's Miriam, who came out to watch the little kids laugh and leap through the water. She picked one of the radishes she planted earlier in the spring that had grown a large green top. She was pretty surprised when she found a teensy little radish underneath all that greenery!

So she had the radish with her salad this evening and shared the radish greens with the rest of us (they've got a spicy taste to them, like radish roots, but milder, so they made a fun addition to our salads as well).

And here are a few more pictures of our little Phoebe-Q (also known as The Feebster, Pho-ebb, Sweet P, and Freebie):

Like her siblings, she thinks water time is pretty fun and wasn't afraid of the sprinkler at all. We'll see how she likes the ocean!

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