Thursday, May 06, 2021

Last day of school adventures

Even though we started our school year in July we didn't take our "back-to-school" pictures until August when everyone else started their school year. Today we took our "last day of school" pictures, though the public school kids won't do that for a few more weeks. 



We spent the afternoon enjoying having the park all to ourselves (which meant our masks could stay in my purse rather than on our faces).

We're basket weavers!

Rachel finished her basket last night so we finally took a picture of our little basket weavers with the baskets they wove:



We have a ton of cord left over so we'll probably be doing some more weaving at some later date, though for now I think all our basket-weaving desires have been fulfilled.

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

Books with Benjamin

I took Benjamin to the library today—his first time being in any public building (other than the dentist's and doctor's offices) since last March. And maybe I shouldn't have taken him, but it was a pretty low-contact trip. He needed to do some browsing so he could choose something to read because I just haven't been choosing books that suit his "vibe" lately. Plus, it's been raining non-stop for two days and (a) that child needed to get out of the house and (b) everyone else needed that child to get out of the house. So, to the library it was!

I warned him that we wouldn't be able to just waltz on in, that we'd have to stop for a temperature check first, but it seems like they abandoned that practice sometime between my last visit and this one. Here's Benjamin in the stacks looking for books that Alexander might like:



Tuesday, May 04, 2021

Baskets, Blades, Battle-to-the-death-ica

It's our last week of the school year! Initially I told the kids that we would just hang out at the pool all day (since we've completely run out of curriculum and the kids aren't ready to dive into next year quite yet), but we had a huge storm system move through today and it was...dark and stormy...all day. It was pouring rain for hours upon hours. Thunder, lightning, the whole nine yards. We couldn't even safely go outside to splash in the puddles.

So instead we tried our hands at basket weaving.

We ordered this kit a while ago (around Easter) but it's just been sitting around waiting for Mommy to feel patient enough to get into it. I turned in my final paper last night and woke up this morning feeling quite a bit more patient than I have in several weeks (correlation or causation?) and since we needed to eat up our day with something I thought it would be a good day for basket weaving.

I should mention that I ordered a kit that came with four bases, which is clearly one too few bases for the number of children in our family. I can't remember how I rationalized this at the time of purchase. Did I think to myself obviously not all the children are capable of weaving a basket so they'll be happy to share with each other! That sounds a little naive... Or did I think that the kit came with five bases? Or did I figure we'd be industrious enough to make another base by ourselves? I don't know what I was thinking, but when the kids pointed out there were only four bases...but five children...I said, "Well, that's because basket weaving is only part of today's educational journey. The first part is a battle to the death. Survivors get to make a basket. Losers..."

Alexander disappeared upstairs and returned a few minutes later with a (fake, plastic, annoying, got-it-in-a-box-of-hand-me-downs-and-now-he-sleeps-with-it) knife.

"I've got my fighting weapon," he announced, waving his knife around. "Where's your fighting weapon, Mom? Where's your fighting weapon, Rachel? How come no one has a fighting weapon?"

So we had to explain that we weren't actually going to have a battle to the death over basket weaving supplies. We were going to share with and help each other. Because evidently that needed to be explained (because the three-year-old weirdly doesn't pick up on sarcasm yet).

One day...when that knife is not so closely guarded...it will disappear. 

Monday, May 03, 2021

po-TAY-to, po-TAH-to

Yesterday when dinner was busy cooking away in our InstantPot(s) and everyone was busy setting the table for dinner, Alexander kept mysteriously appearing with his mouth full of food.

"What are you eating?" I asked him.

"Potatoes," he said with bulging cheeks.

"Potatoes?" I wondered.

We were indeed having potatoes for dinner, but they were cooking in the aforementioned InstantPot and were not ready for consumption. 

"How could he be eating potatoes?" I asked Andrew. "He's not...getting into the garbage...do you think?"

Andrew had put potato peelings in the garbage...

We were still wondering about what Alexander could be eating when he showed up with another mouthful of food. 

"What are you eating?" Andrew asked.

"Muh-hrm-murh-hmm," Alexander mumbled.

"What's in your mouth?" Andrew asked. "Open up."

Alexander quickly chewed, swallowed, and then opened up his mouth to reveal...an empty mouth.

"What was in there?" Andrew asked.

"Potatoes!" Alexander said. 

"What potatoes?!" Andrew asked.

"The potatoes," Alexander said. 

"Can you show us where you are finding these potatoes?"

Alexander led us to the kitchen, straight to a container of...cherry tomatoes.

"Someone left it open," he shrugged.

So, he'd been eating (unwashed) cherry tomatoes, not potato peelings from the garbage, which I honestly think is probably better for him (not that potato peelings are necessarily bad either, but they are when they've been in the garbage with everything else (for example, the packaging from raw hamburger (because the other InstantPot had meatloaf in it))).

Saturday, May 01, 2021

Harry Potter Marathon

The kids have been having a Harry Potter marathon of sorts, with four of them reading the series at once. They started on April 20 and there were tears when Benjamin walked in on all three of his sisters with the first book open in their laps. I had been going to ask him to practice the piano just then, but he ran past me (sobbing), burst into his room, and slammed the door. 

I followed him upstairs and knocked quietly on his door, entering only when I heard his muffled, "Come in."

He was furiously reading a copy of Harry Potter in his bed. 

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"I CAN'T BELIEVE THEY DIDN'T TELL ME WE WERE STARTING!!" he cried. "I have to catch up! I have to win! They're all a bunch of cheaters!"

I let him have some calming-down reading time and then his sisters clarified that this marathon was more of a journey than a race. Rachel and Miriam had decided they wanted to read it along with Zoë, who is reading it through for the first time by herself, and Benjamin decided he wanted to tag along on this journey as well (mistaking it for a competition). He's definitely winning because Zoë is reading at her own pace and Rachel and Miriam are managing quite a few other side projects, while Benjamin is plowing through at break neck speed. 

He wants to beat his last record for reading through the series (which is something like eight months, he told me) and considering he's already on book five or six, I think he'll definitely achieve a new personal record in this department.

Here are Benjamin, Rachel, and Zoë reading in the music room (without being mad at each other):

Friday, April 30, 2021

This week...

I registered for jury duty. I mentioned a bad mail day a while back and, well, finally dealt with some of that bad mail (because I had to...within ten days...or else). Filling out the form was rather comical for me; it felt like filling out my medical history. Like, when I first started filling out my medical history forms it was short and sweet—literally nothing to report. But nowadays I have a few more boxes to check. Very similarly, the first few times I was called for jury duty, the paperwork was very straightforward for me—literally nothing to report. Now, however, I'm like, "Pull up a chair. This could take a while..." Anyway, I could have gotten a deferral or something, on account of being a homeschooling mom, but unfortunately (or fortunately) we're hitting our 180 mandated days on May 5. We literally have three days left of school, so I have no valid excuse to bow out. Jury duty isn't ever something I've been eager to do.

*****

I administered standardized "end of year" tests for Benjamin and Miriam. Technically Benjamin still has two sections left to take. He's need the hands-on management of his time that he has required of me since we began homeschooling, so I've sat beside him and said things like, "Okay, now...next question." And, "Read the whole thing first." And, "Make sure you actually click in the circle." And, "I know you think you're finished but let's go back through to make sure you answered all the questions. Oh, look. You somehow missed one. Go ahead and answer it now." At times this was a painful process for me (like when I knew he was selecting the wrong answer), but he's done surprisingly well. Today he took one of his language tests and was repeating aloud spelling rules like, "Drop the E and add -ing! Duh! Obviously "makeing" is spelled wrong! It should be m-a-k-i-n-g!" And I would just sit there in shock because, friends, he does not think about spelling rules in real life. Like, at all. Ever. He just doesn't ever consider how words should be spelled. 

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

Synth-y Black

We were running a bit behind on laundry this week—not even all laundry! Just some! Our main issue was that we made Benjamin deep clean his room and he had laundry piles secreted away everywhere. For example, I found a box on his shelf, nestled in among his books. What's inside? Dirty clothes. Why? Because packing them in a cardboard box and fitting that box on his book shelf was "easier" than simply tossing them in the laundry basket. For real.

(This is the same child who carved his name into the top of the mailbox (the new mailbox that he helped Andrew install a few months ago? Maybe a year ago because time has no meaning anymore) and can't remember doing it. He tried to blame it on either Zoë or Alexander, but neither one of them are tall enough to reach the top of the mailbox...)

Anyway, I spent the weekend washing an apparent backlog of kid clothes (I should check under Benjamin's bed more often, evidently) and thus our laundry was backed up a bit. So on Saturday when I really just wanted to wear a comfy pair of yoga pants...I...didn't have any clean ones. 

Not to worry, however. Andrew picked up a 2-pack of yoga pants for me when he went to Costco (like, a year ago) and they've just been sitting in my drawer, unopened for the past year or so (because I didn't really think I needed more yoga pants at the time...until suddenly I did). So I opened the package and put on a pair and was sad to find out that I probably should have washed them before wearing because they left black residue all over everything. Like, my fingertips were all black from pulling them on. It was kind of gross. Clearly these were the kind of pants that needed to be washed before wearing.

Andrew decided to throw in a load of darks this morning, but I reminded him of the cursed black yoga pants. 

"I feel nervous about washing them even with things that we consider darks. I'd rather if we just wash them with things that are simply black," I said. 

Saturday, April 24, 2021

Howler-lujah!

Josie will always be my miracle sister. I like to believe that I prayed her here (because I did). I'm not sure how much my mom appreciated this little miracle at the time (no offense, Josie) because, you see, my older sister was getting ready to be a teenage mother right about the same time (my sister had her baby, Amy, in November; Josie arrived in April). So maybe it was a bit of a stressful time, but it was also a beautiful time, and I think I speak for everyone when I say we're all glad she's taking this wild journey with us. 

She texted me a few days ago to let me know that she was sending me a package (or two). She's a very generous and thoughtful gift-giver (a skill I appreciate...and have thus far been unable to cultivate). 

Her packages arrived today and it made for a very wonderful mail day! 

One package was delivered to the front door, which Alexander happily retrieved. Andrew asked him to leave the package in his office (I think everyone was playing Minecraft at that exact moment (I'm so glad the semester is almost over because it means Andrew's able to take a little more downtime than he normally does)) but instead Alexander carried the box around and begged various people to read parts of the package to him (I was upstairs writing, but listening in on what was happening downstairs).

"What does this say?" he asked.

"It says Black Lantern."

"Oh! We got a black lantern!"

"No. It's not a black lantern. It just says Black Lantern."

"Oh. What does this say?"

"It says it's for mom."

"Oh! Mom got a black lantern!"

"No! She didn't! It just says Black Lantern! We don't know what it is!"

Friday, April 23, 2021

Like finding a ring in a cul-de-sac

We were playing out in the cul-de-sac the other day when Benjamin lost his new ring from the primary. I have to admit that I'm still a little partial to the old-school CTR rings they used to hand out (fashionably outdated, that's me) and am still getting used to the new "emblems of belonging," but Benjamin has been very excited about his ring and wears it everywhere he goes. 

He was tossing a homemade javelin into a big ol' bush (because for thousands of years sticks have made the best toys and I frankly don't know why we ever buy our children anything), which is one of his favourite games to play outside. None of the neighbours seem to mind (too much?) because the houses are so far removed from the street that he's in no danger of breaking a window or anything like that. He just stands in the middle of the cul-de-sac and hurls this stick at his bush nemesis over and over again. Sometimes the little neighbour girl comes out and joins him (from well over six feet away, of course). She's really into weaponry. 

Anyway, on this fateful day, Benjamin threw the stick like he had a million times before but as his hand was...rebounding...his ring flew off his finger. I heard it clink on the road but we did not see where it landed. And so we began to look. 

We all stood in a line and standing arm-in-arm we "dredged" the cul-de-sac, first walking north to south, then walking east to west, all the while looking for this tiny needle in a haystack (or ring in a cul-de-sac). Then we started in the center of the cul-de-sac and spiraled outwards from there. We could not find his ring.