Baby Visit

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Today there was a knock at my door. It was a friend of mine. And her lovely barely-three-weeks-old baby.

So what do you say when someone says 'Can I drop my baby with you for a few minutes? It's raining and I need to walk to the shop and pick up the car.'

Well! I had that baby in the house and settled so fast I could hardly believe it myself. I did let The Girl enjoy her for a little while. Then I walked and talked and cuddled and patted that baby until she fell asleep.

As luck would have it, the car at the shop was not quite ready, so Baby's visit was extended. When her mom returned, it seems that it's been a few days since she's had any adult interaction. Lucky me - more baby holding!!

During Baby's visit, dinner went unmade, The Boy disappeared and the dog languished unhappily in her crate. I nearly ignored my parents who dropped in (turns out they took The Boy with them when they left) and I even made it through the 'Mrs. A's brother is having a baby!' conversation without tears.

Baby visits are a marvelous interlude to one's day. I highly recommend them. And just incase some other lady happens to drop by and asks if I can help out by lovin' on their baby while they run an errand, I told Mr. B we have to stay in tonight.


Getting Some Exercise - Week 1 Day 1

Monday, June 29, 2009

I went and jumped on the C25k bandwagon.

Good Lord what was I thinking?! What kind of stupid person showers before attempting her first bit of exertion in a decade?!

I hate running. I've never been drawn to running. I think my knees hurt if I run too much. But I wouldn't know. Because I've never run with any regularity.

Workout #1 was ok until about 3/4 of the way through. It was quite the effort to get through the last 3 60-second runs.

And then...Buddy on the podcast says something about how you're not supposed to be feeling overly exerted or out of breath. What is he thinking?! And that comment in the last 60-second run? The one where he says '20 up'. As in there's still 40 seconds to go. Who does that?! Why doesn't he wait until there's only 20 seconds remaining. I tell ya. Not impressed. I am so loading up a different podcast for workout #2.

But I finished. It was a disgustingly sweaty finish. Not attractive. A cool shower was required.

And at the very end of my workout, when I was walking to cool down, I had to tun the volume of my iPod way up to drown out the 'this was such a stupid idea' thoughts I was having. There were also the 'please don't let anyone see me jiggling' thoughts. Thank goodness I have a fairly extensive green space to hide in while exercising.

I know what I was thinking. I was thinking about the new bathing suit I just bought. ($5, Old Navy Summer Swim Sale or some such silliness.) I was thinking about how the only pants that are comfortable are my WalMart fat jeans. I was thinking that my 10th wedding anniversary is coming up. I was thinking that I used to be a role model for active living and fitness. I was thinking about how out of shape and lazy I have become. I was thinking about how I turn up injured after the least bit of physical activity.

I really hope I'm not sore tomorrow. My plan is to keep busy in order not to think about the whole ugly business of running on purpose to exercise. I'm really very pathetic.

But, wouldn't it be cool if I could stick with it? It's a nine week program and I have nine weeks of official summer break. It just fits so nicely in a perfectionist, obsessive kind of way. I wonder if that's considered 'motivation'?


Local Book Sale #1

Saturday, June 27, 2009

For years now, I've thought that it would be a great adventure to have a local homeschooling conference. Or vendor fair. Or seminar. Or workshop. Heck, it'd be nice just to have a local organized group. We local homeschoolers are spread fairly thinly 'round 'bout these parts.

I know, it would be 'easiest' to just build it and they will come. However. When the kids were at Montessori, I learned a very valuable lesson. It's very easy to become responsible for all these great ideas and soon, all your time and energy are focused on pulling off an event instead of taking care of the things you're supposed to be focused on. Like your kids. And making dinner at a reasonable hour. And having clean laundry to wear. And kissing your husband.

So, with that in mind, I've been careful to organize what I can, but not to take on too much. I like a little social time with other like-minded moms, so there have been evenings of coffee and chatting. I've organized sessions at the Nature Center when my kids were interested in some local environmental science. I've tracked down and hired a French tutor for small group lessons this past year when our French work needed a little boost. Little bits, here and there, when I see a need in our family. All other visions of grandeur have been firmly placed in the back seat of my mind. For sanity's sake, you see. (And also because Mr. B told me if he ever had to see that crazy woman who though it was ok to have a hundred things on the go while her children whined and grabbed at her ankles while she was on her way out the door to do something un-family-related again he would have to pull rank and put his foot down and make her do it his way...whether I liked it or not.)

Over the years, I've visited nearby cities for their local book sales and conferences. This spring, I even stepped out of my box and attended a curriculum and used book sale as a vendor. My friend and I had a great time at this particular sale. We paid attention and decided that such a thing couldn't be that hard to pull off.

When we returned to town, my friend was particularly jazzed about having a used book sale for the local homeschooling community. The response to a 'feeler email' that was sent out to gauge interest in a local home learners book sale was amazing. Suddenly, there were 17 vendors. People we'd never heard of surfaced.

A few weeks later, there we were, early on a Saturday morning at a local church basement, hanging signs, hauling boxes and arranging tables. I went to the sale not expecting to make any money. I didn't bring very many things. Just two lightly packed bins and some gently used fiction. Friend and I shared a table. I made $40 and spent $20 of that.

So, Friend and I are very excited about the first local home learners book sale for a number of reasons. Nearly everyone who had a table there made a little bit of money. Their feedback was positive. They want to do it again! We drew shoppers and vendors from out of town. Those who weren't homeschoolers came and bought stuff.

In future years, I can see a local sale being bigger and better. I can see it expanding to include a guest speaker or a workshop or seminar. I see an opportunity for connections and networking and brainstorming.

I'm so glad this first sale was so well done. It's a great stepping stone to a regular local homeschooler presence. And, now that my kids are older, I can afford the time and effort to help organize such a thing while keeping up with Mt. Laundry and my husband-kissing responsibilities. Fun times!


Summer Break

Friday, June 26, 2009

We're officially on Summer Break!

It's official just because I said so. Isn't that awesome?! I still find endless amusement that something can be a big deal just because I said it is. This amusement is a serendipitous benefit in my quest to find that special balance between structure and routine. But I digress.

Summer Break arrived last Friday. There was a little bit of history review, reading and filing of colouring pages. I spent some time pulling things off the shelf for the next day's book sale. The kids joined their neighbourhood friends for an afternoon of driveway hockey, water gun squirting, pick-up soccer and general hanging out.

I thought it would be a fun idea to mark the end of our semi-structured school year with a bit of a 'do'. We ordered pizza and I arranged a dessert from the bakery: cupcakes smothered in far too much icing. Delightful. I set the table nicely and at each place setting, I had a little something for the kids. The Boy had a small Lego set waiting for him at his place and The Girl had a new sketch book. Each also had a new beach towel. Things not just for thing's sake, but to show them that I'm excited to help them dive into their free time with enjoyable activities that they enjoy. I don't think I've been this excited for summer break since I was a student myself.

Since last Friday we've been knocking off things that have been stressing me one thing at a time. Not necessarily bad stress, but stress nonetheless. I've knocked off a book sale, extended family hosted a birthday party for The Boy we had to travel to, Father's Day, an Art in the City tour, a day at the park, a friend's birthday, soccer games, the chauffeuring of The Boy and Friend to and from the Museum program they attended Thursday and a business trip today with Mr. B. Fun times.
After this weekend, I launch Summer Projects 2009. SO much in mind, so little time...


Last Week's Paddle

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Last week I ventured out on my own, but with a mission.

You see, the week before last, I had ventured out on a beautiful, sunny afternoon. It was quiet on the river and I puttered around a few of the more immediate islands, just checking things out. I was treated to seeing a North American River Otter pop up out of the water with his dinner - a wee flapping fish - which he proceeded to eat.

As I was heading back to shore, I met up with a group of kayakers just heading out on their paddle. I was invited along and quickly introduced to their group - a casual bunch of people with a standing date for an afternoon leisure paddle. Perhaps I could join them next week?

So, last week's mission was to meet up with these people to enjoy a paddle with them.

I parked in my usual spot - not the group's meeting spot - and put in on my own. Since I nearly grew a hernia last week, trying to look all capable and kayak-ish while carrying my kayak and gear 50m ot the dock, I thought this might be the week to try out my wheels. They work really well.

I caught up with the tail end of the kayak group and had a chat with 'Ron'. Being from a small town, conversation concentrated on placing ourselves. Soon we found our six degrees of separation: Ron's wife had been going to my dad's now-closed shop for car maintenance for years. I had married my husband, who, with his brother, had belonged to Ron's scout troupe for a number of years. We small town people are so much more comfortable once we understand our respective places in the community. <insert eyeroll here>

I was looking for a bit of exercise on this particular paddle, so I spent the next half hour catching up with the leaders of the group. I spent a quarter of an hour with them before turning back. It was a vigorous paddle back. Thank goodness for my little kayak wheels because there was no way my rubbery arms were going to carry anything back to the car.

I'm so impressed that I can load and unload onto the car on my own. I'm still a little nervous about tying down properly so I'm a bit of a cautious driver with the kayak on the car top. I have Mr. B check my tie-downs before leaving home. It's quite easy to tip the nose of the kayak onto the top of the car, grab the stern handle and slide it up onto the foam blocks on the roof rack.

This week I'm getting ready for a more leisurely paddle. It's drizzling and overcast, but I won't melt. I hope to have my dad join me. He and 'Ron' will get on very well, me thinks.


A Chatty Blog

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Thank you to those who have emailed comments. I appreciate every one as they are so personal. Since I am just a wee blip on the blogosphere and not inundated with huge numbers of emails, I like being able to reply to those who drop a line.

I've noticed funky, frustrating things happening with my blog layout. It could be the template. I can't read all the HTML and figure it out myself, so I'll wait for my tech support to take a look sometime. THAT will cost me favours. But that's ok. My tech guy is my own Mr. B and he's not too bad to do favours for. In the meantime, I just select 'smaller' from the 'Text Size' menu in 'View' on my browser window menu. Then everything pops back where it should be. I'm trying not to worry about it. But it is bugging me.

My brother is having a baby. Well, of course his lovely new wife is actually going to be doing the work of the happy event. I can still call her 'new wife' as their first anniversary is not until next week. This is wonderful news! I will be an aunt for the first time on my side and my kids will get their first maternal cousin. The kids tell me they've been waiting a while. The Boy is all ramped up to teach his new cousin to play hockey. I don't think he understands the timeline involved quite yet. I'm not going to the be the one to burst his bubble.

New baby news is rocking my world. I knew when it came, I'd have trouble with it. For years, I'd been doing really well when acquaintances announced their happy news or brought their new bundle around. I even managed to get over myself when my sister-in-law on Mr. B's side had her baby. However. Now that a sibling has begun the journey to parenthood, all my baby itch, my baby envy, my bigger family wishes, my pregnancy jealousy has taken a seat at the head of the table. Being a hormonal week for me has not helped a bit. So. Please excuse me while I wimp and whine and leak pity tears for the babies I never had. I'm trying to stay busy and not listen to music or be alone and I'm going to maintain a full schedule chalk full of people because that will keep me grounded in reality. I'm trying to keep all the angry, sad and disappointed feelings to myself. It's easiest to take out stressful feelings on those closest to you. My little family is perfect, really. We are so blessed with health and happiness and I feel rich every day in so many ways. So even with all my internal storming right now, I am remembering to be kind and considerate and loving first. I just have to keep a Kleenex in my pocket.

Moving on.

A particular acquaintance of mine, a former employee from days gone by, speaks about homeschooling under her breath. She's a teacher. Every time she sees my kids she asks them when they're going back to school. Never mind that they've never been to public school. It's a little undermining. On Monday this particular acquaintance stopped by while walking in the neighbourhood and this is what she found in our yard:

What poor, unfortunate, unsocialized homeschooled children I have. My kids are loving these outside play times with neighbourhood kids. I could go on about how much they get out of these friendships, what they're learning, the skills they're honing, how they're socialized rather than just socializing. I won't. The kids talk to me about the value of these times and I'm not worried about the Undermining Teacher.

My parents are back from a two week trip to South Korea and Japan. They came home bearing gifts and souvenirs for all. We are eating up the stories of Asian culture and are anxiously awaiting the pictures they took.

As our last week of homeschooling wraps up, I'm weeding through the Shelf and putting away things we won't be needing next year. I've got a bag of stuff to sell off and other things, like our math box, will be dismantled. This little math box held our fact cards, coin cup, money manipulatives and word problems. I think we used it every day for the last 3 years. Onward and upward, as Ms. Frizzle would say.

On the To Do list for today is a Homeschooler Phys.Ed class and The Girl's soccer game. My scrapbooking project will receive some attention. I have a tentative deadline of this Saturday for it to be finished. I should be able to get to a good amount of housework if the last two days are anything to go by. I'm off to get to our schoolwork this morning so we can enjoy our afternoon without bookwork hanging over our heads.

Have a great day,

♥Mrs. A


Monday, June 15, 2009

Mr. B left at 4am this morning. He's travelling for work today. I heard him getting ready to go, so I made him a coffee for the road and went back to bed.

5am rolled around and I still wasn't asleep so I gave up and got going with my day. The last load of laundry is drying. Dishes are done. Cinnamon buns are rising.

I'm here at the computer with a coffee considering our home school year that is coming to a close.

For a couple of weeks now, we've only been doing an hour or so of work a day. On paper, I'd planned to be done at the end of May, giving us a nice, long break. As the nicer weather hit, we have been spending a bit more time outside and on individual pursuits. Time has been spent preparing for the end of our French lessons. I've been pulling paper from binders and sorting and filing as we finish up with various books and resources.

I've been anticipating our summer break. After being very academic for the first time in our homeschooling career, I feel as though I have some time to spend on projects that are important to me. I'm looking forward to organizing our next homeschooling year. I feel like I've been given permission to spend time on these things. In the past, I've felt as though I was robbing the kids of my time and being selfish. Perhaps there is something to be said for this Being Organized thing after all.

This week the kids and I will be finishing up. We will only need to do an hour or two in the mornings. Friday will be our last day. Neither The Boy or The Girl were keen on just wrapping everything up in one day. I even offered to spend Saturday doing the rest of their school work with them!

I think I will plan a special dinner to mark the our finishing. When I was young, I was given a 'passing gift' at the end of the school year. I remember the one I was really excited about: a Cabbage Patch Preemie doll. I still have her. The only other passing gift I recall is a chair. Mom got a little chair to go with my bedroom vanity at a garage sale, painted it and voila, passing gift. I wasn't impressed. But I still have the chair. I want my kids to feel proud of themselves for their efforts and accomplishments this year. I think that will be best accomplished with a bit of dedicated family time.

Cinnamon Buns are in the oven. I'm off to tackle the rest of my day.


Quietly Freaking Out

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Something that should be totally trivial has me all flustered and anxious. Chest-tight deep-breath-inhibiting anxious. It's a rare thing that gives me a physical anxious reaction.

We have new neighbours in the neighbourhood. The new neighbours have a long history of instigating awkward/difficult/touchy situations in the local homeschooling circle. Until yesterday, I thought they were safely ensconced all the way across town.

Everyone knows that I'm too 'nice', if anything. I avoid confrontation at nearly any cost. I'd just rather get the short end of the stick than put anyone out. I've managed to - just barely - keep this family at arms length from my family. Still, there have been minor run-ins.

My Mr. B has a very different philosophy for dealing with these kinds of things than I do. I have to admit, his way is much more efficient and to-the-point. Until now, I've managed to convince him of the effectiveness of my frou-frou way of dealing with these particular people. And yesterday, I realized the necessity of flushing the frou-frou and jumping directly on Mr. B's straight-talk blunt just-say-'no thanks'-and-shut-the-door bandwagon.

Yesterday I was obliged to graciously refuse an invitation put forth by this new-old family. I was - and still am - walking on eggshells about it. Not only do I have to negotiate the curve balls they throw within the homeschooling community, now I have to watch out for wayward balls from my own front step! This one invitation is so much more than just an invitation. It's tentacles of a suburban social circle I don't want. It's a pit of P's and Q's and fake smiles. It's the beginning of me needing to carry around a pail of Bean Dip.

I suppose my anxiousness really stems from own realization of the looming confrontation. Because I know that it's coming; it's inevitable. There will be no gracious refusals, no polite excuses, no friendly gloss overs. It will come down to me having to say something which will be uncharacteristically curt. Of course I will do so to protect my family's privacy, and to be very clear that our values and beliefs, our parenting choices, my children's actions and my place in the community is no one's business but my own.

You see, these things have been brought up in the past by these people. And before, I could simple choose not to be around them. I could choose to remove myself and go away. The time to draw the line in the sand (on the front walk?!) draws near.

So I've given myself the rest of today to be worried and anxious about this. Tomorrow I'll be wearing my Big Girl Panties.


Pens Win The Cup! ...Hopefully

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Boy Child beside a display that shows the Pittsburgh Penguins' Stanley Cup Ring.

Have I mentioned how big a Penguins fan The Boy Child is? He's such a big fan that he's been wearing his Penguins jersey around since Valentine's Day. Not only that, but his big birthday purchase last weekend at the Hockey Hall of Fame was a Penguins jersey. An away jersey since the one he has is a home jersey.

It's Game 7 - Do or Die for the Pens - early in the third and it looks like the Penguins will win the cup. We have no tv at our house so I am keeping up-to-the-minute on the Pittsburgh Penguins website. They have a Game 7 Live Blog on the go.

My kids weaseled their way over to friends to watch the game. Since it's looking good for the Pens, I'm seriously considering packing up my camera and heading across town to the friends' place to catch the look on The Boy's face when his team wins. He stuck his fingers all over the spot where their names will be engraved on the Stanley Cup. That's good luck, you know.

That's all I'm going to say tonight because if I talk about anything else, I'll be accused of jinxing it. Whatever outcome 'IT' happens to be. SO, I'm off. I'll be driving across town, in an attempt to stay awake...then, WHEN the Pens win, I"ll hear about it - loudly - on the way home.

Hopefully The Boy will sleep tonight

Aw Geez...The Wings just scored. Leave it to them to wait until the last 6 minutes of the game to get their helmets on straight. Do you know the kind of stress The Boy will be under if this game goes into overtime?! I'm not sure his wee little heart could take it...


Birthday Weekend - In Pics

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Arriving At The Hotel: The check in desk was busy and we somehow ended up with a room that already had someone's luggage in it! They bumped us up a couple of floors and we settled in.

The View: The traffic never stops. I had forgotten that about Toronto.

At Home In The Hotel: You'll notice the laptop. It was brought along so we could plan our route downtown while at the hotel. You'll also notice the Mini-Keurig. We're such coffee snobs.

To The Subway: It had been a long while since I'd caught the subway in Toronto. I easily found the Mall and the correct parking lot...there was a little wandering 'till I found the Subway.

First Subway Ride

Downtown Toronto

Union Station

Pillars at Union Station

Hockey Hall of Fame: We found it! I was so excited to see that it was housed in a heritage building. I think I may have been slightly more interested in the building (Bank of Montreal Bldg., built in 1885)

And So It Begins: Before admission was even paid, The Boy started, "Hey mom, look at this!" and "Hey Dad, didja see this?". The remarkable thing about the incredibly long wait to pay, was that a lady handed us two tickets - she had won four, but only needed two and we happened to be in the right place at the right time.

The Vault

The Cup: The Boy made sure to touch the place where the 2008-2009 season winners would be listed. We're hoping the Penguins will win. THe Boy is hoping because that's his favourite team. The rest of us are hoping because we won't hear the end of it if they don't.

Playing Goalie: This might have been The Boy's favourite part.

Getting Directions: The Blackberry came in handy when we needed to find our way to the restaurant for lunch.

Wayne Gretzky's: Where else do you go for lunch after the Hockey Hall of Fame??!

My Favourite Part: Who knew we'd be walking past all this culture on our way to pick up the subway?! This is as close as I got to seeing Sound of Music. A show wasn't in the cards this trip.

The Royal Alexandra: I saw my first musical here a million years ago.

Roy Thompson Hall: When I was a kid and a budding performer, I thought I would one day preform here.

Heading Back Uptown

The First Car: Getting to the first car at the end of the platform turned into getting the last car of the train. It's a good thing they don't count on me for directions all the time.

Checking Out The Tunnel

Monday Morning: I brought balloons and our traditional 'Happy Birthday' banner. It's just not a birthday with out these little traditions.

The Northern Bald Eagle: The Boy's Favourite.

The Orangutans: The Girl's Favourite.

The Giraffe: We dubbed this guy 'Melvin'. It's amazing he doesn't just step out of his enclosure.

Stingray Bay: Very cool exhibit. We did get here last year for a short time. This year, the ray's were much more touchable and definitely bigger. The new addition of the sharks was very lacklustre. Perhaps they'll warm up to the crowds with time.

Rays: Very soft, like velvet, but a bit squishy and slimy like a wet neoprene wetsuit. Mr. B. touched one and that was it for him. Me, I was wet to the shoulder when all was said and done.

The 10 Year Old Boy: The trip home is shorter if you sleep through it.


Birthday Weekend - Redux

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Boy Child turned 10 yesterday. To celebrate, we had a 'do over'.

Last year at this time, we took our little family for an out-of-character trip to the big city of Toronto. We had intentions of spending the night at a fun hotel (pool with waterside) and then spending the next day at the zoo before heading home.

But the night of our arrival, disaster struck in the form of a kidney infection for The Boy. He and I spent the night before his 9th birthday on the cold bathroom floor of the hotel room, trying to let Mr. B and The Girl get a bit of sleep. We tried the zoo in the morning - rented a wagon for The Boy - but we only got to see the sting rays and the smelly rhino before we had to leave.

Once we returned home, the emails flew furiously and we soon had a surgery date to have The Boy's kidney repaired. It was a long summer while he recovered. However, it was all well worth it as we have a New Boy. So this year, to celebrate his birthday, we planned the 'do over'. It was a celebration not only of a tenth birthday, but also a celebration for Mr. B and I as we reflected on our journey with our young man - how much he's overcome and how his life is so much more comfortable and improved.

We played Tourist Family in Toronto for the weekend. We drove there on Saturday, settled into the hotel and then spent the rest of the day in the pool. Sunday we introduced the kids to the subway. We visited the Hockey Hall of Fame and Gretzky's restaurant for lunch. Then on Monday, we spent the better part of the day at the zoo, having a much longer, thorough visit than last year.

It was a great trip for us. Perhaps such a trip wouldn't be a big deal for others, but for quiet home-bodies such as we are, it was way out of our box. We arrived home in good spirits with enough daylight to spend the evening playing with friends. Oh, we fit in a birthday dinner - requested by The Boy himself - of fish, rice pilaf and corn before heading to the bakery to order a cake.

Pictures to follow as the week goes on.


Strange Days...

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Well, here we are. It's Wednesday...and where have I been all week?

Well, Monday I was hanging out my second story window. I was trying to make a point with the kids about what we'd been reading in history. It had to do with Galileo and that tower in Pisa.

Tuesday I was found here:

Yes, that's frumpy ol' me standing in a farm field full of goats, sheep, donkeys and a miniature horse. There was also this cuteness which should distract you from my frumpiness:

That brings us to today. Thankfully, no pictures. And much less poop than yesterday. Today I found myself packing up our math programs. I filed away papers and removed a handful of post-it notes. As we're finishing up this year's school work, I'm getting the shelf in shape so that planning next year's work is easy. Today also found me at the soccer field where the kids took part in a homeschooler's phys ed class. Good times. And finally, I just spent the better part of three hours at the soccer field watching The Girl play her second game of the season. It was so cold, I left the camera in my bag and did my best to conserve body heat.

The rest of my free time this week will be spent finishing The Boy's birthday gift. Pictures after it's done. Have a great week!


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