Happiness Costs...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

...$8/hour. Or at least it did last week. 4 skaters x $2 = an $8 hour of ice.

Skating has begun! We homeschoolers have infiltrated the 'Parent & Tot' daytime skate.

We started doing so many years ago when the kids were actually just-barely school age. Back then, happiness cost only $1/child. Fast-forward a bunch of years and the ice time is the same although the cost is more: $2/skater...mom included. Still, you can't get better bang for your buck.

We usually have the ice to ourselves. Those who are interested bring sticks and pucks. Some unseen rink attendant even puts the music on for us. Occasionally there's a parent with an actual tot in tow.

Last season's Most Interesting Event was the day a couple of 20-somethings showed up to skate. He had never been on skates. She thought it was the most hilarious, photo-worthy event of 2009. By the end of the hour, Mr. Never Had Been On Skates was playing a very cautious one-handed game of hockey with the kids (one hand being required to hold the stick, the other hand being required to fan about for balance). As he got off the ice, he thanked us moms for having such supportive and encouraging kids. It was great to see that ever elusive 'socialization' in action.

We will walk to the rink at least once a week. We will be joined by various homeschooling friends. We will get some exercise. We will improve our skating. We will have a great season, as usual.


Extended Family Dynamics

Thursday, September 24, 2009

I'm beginning to get a complex.

What is so difficult about visiting? Just a plain ol' family visit. Drop by, come in and catch up on everyone's personal current events.

My dad was doing well. He's semi-retired this year - very available to visit - and I very nearly had him perfectly trained: call first, don't tease the already-skittish-enough dog from the street side of the screen door on your way in. He would come to visit during the day when I wasn't making a meal or chauffeuring a kid. He would have a coffee and we would chat. Nice chats, too. We'd talk about his parents, my grandparents, who have both passed on. He'd tell me about spending time in 'the bush' or at 'the cabin'. It's always quite amusing to listen to him go on about my mother's latest exploits. I especially liked our conversations about religion - there's no better way to worship than to find a big ol' field, plop yourself down in the middle of the grassy sunshine, count your blessings for an hour or four and call it church.

Most recently, my dad's visits have consisted of him dropping in (whats happened to the pre-visit phone call?!) and dropping off. My front hallway was the repository for a rogue PC that my sister knew something about. She'd be by to explain. The explanation involved a couple of hours of my Mr. A's button pushing. Colour me not impressed.

Then, there was a mysterious bolt of fabric in a bag with some other lumpiness that was, thankfully, retrieved by someone or other while I was out.

Then, there was today's box. Just a box. Again, my sister would be by to retrieve it. And she was: There was a discreet tapping on our door at 1pm today. Just quiet enough to not interrupt my reading aloud to the children. And just loud enough to send Skittish White Dog into a bristling, barking, scrambling slide across the hardwood. I got a 'hi' from sister dearest as the door opened, a 'thanks' as I handed her the box that I knew she was here for and then, as she was closing the door on her way out, she turned back to me and said, 'Oh, how's things? What are you guys up to today?'

Dishes and schoolwork, I answered. Because that is the crazy-ass, adrenalin pumping, risky business that I am attempting today. If I'd had a bit of notice (or if I thought she was dropping by to visit) I could have come up with something a little more creative and conversational. Perhaps if I knew she was coming I could have invited her to lunch where her inquiry might have seemed a little more genuine.

I know what a genuine inquiry sounds like because just two days ago my brother called with one. He genuinely wants me to purchase the products he is selling. Granted, he didn't drop anything off in my hallway. But I find it curious the way he is available to stop by any time to 'talk business' yet can't show up when I make him a dinner he's accepted an invitation to.

I figure I must be missing something. It's like my extended family has it's own code of conduct and I missed the memo. Perhaps my status quo isn't exciting enough for them. Perhaps I need some more drama. I suppose I could think back and pull out a spectacular stunt from my highschool era. Although, if I recall correctly, that never really accomplished anything conducive to family visiting. Sort of the opposite, actually...

I suppose I'm just a little boring compared to the globe-trotting, gestating, house-buying, business-starting, wedding-planning hoopla that is going on amongst my collection of siblings. After all, I've been playing the same gig in the same club for ten years now. I suppose the novelty of my life choices has waned.

I really don't know why I worry about such things. I've got enough going on just trying to keep myself organized and on track. Who knows, perhaps the weekend will bring something positive and newsworthy. My complex and I will just ride it out.


A Day In The Life...

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

~Monday, September 14, 2009~

Monday morning dawned brisk and chilly. Not that I went out in it. I was in the kitchen as soon as I pulled myself out of bed as Mr. B was travelling for work. I made him lunch and coffee and sent him on his way. After a quick shower, I started the laundry.

While I was doing a quick perusal of the blogosphere, The Boy Child emerged. Normally, he cozies up on the couch for a wake-up, but yesterday he was stoked: First Day of Hockey. We went downstairs to try on his gear. Nothing like leaving it to the last 9 hours. I rebooted the laundry while The Boy showed me he could put all his gear on by himself. Except for a jersey...and skates...This is an improvement compared to the years I have all but poured him into his gear. My goal is to be out of my dressing room responsibilities by Christmas.

The Girl Child was up and about before we were done with the hockey gear. She hits the computer and the kitchen immediately upon stumbling downstairs in the mornings. I don't mind that much. She has two friends she keeps in touch with via chat, email and private webpage because they live out of town a ways.

After we all had a bit of something to eat (I have to remind The Boy to eat every day), I jump-started our morning with a half-hour of housework. We had a busy day planned and after my feelings about last week's first week of school, I was not looking forward to schoolwork. But, I figured perhaps it would be an ok day since we had so much more to do.

We were at the table together at about 9:45. We motored through a bit of journaling, a math lesson each, a reading in Story of the World 3 and the chapter review questions. The Girl surprised me by asking to take notes while I read aloud. She continued to do so through the Q & A. Then she composed a very thorough paragraph. The Boy composed a paragraph, but the agreement is that I will scribe it into his notebook for him. Neither of the kids were looking forward to the 'narration' part of things this year, but I'm hoping that they will come around. This was our second attempt and I was impressed with the results. We then cracked open the French we're using this year and began the first unit. The Girl really likes this program we're using: L'Art de Lire (book 3). The Boy is not in love with it at all. I might have to find something different for him later on if he can't find his French Groove. It was noon; we were done with the books for today.

The Girl ran off to get ready to go for our afternoon. I helped her out with the hair straightener and then I had a go at my mop. The Boy needed to tape his stick. Again. This required the use of the beloved Swiss Army Knife. Pretty much any job that might possibly maybe probably could use a Swiss Army Knife becomes a priority for The Boy these days. We made a quick lunch of sandwiches and fruit. We had a bit of a talk about the propaganda pamphlet that showed up in the mailbox regarding the H1N1 Flu.

Before we left the house, I pulled up a couple of webpages and the kids and I figured out the most efficient way to use the city bus to get us downtown and back home later on. Round trip: $12. Cheaper than taking a cab. Our co-operative plan worked out perfectly. Walk .5km, grab a bus. Transfer. Argue politely over who gets to pull the stop-cord. Arrive near our destination and walk a block.

We were meeting up with a large-ish group of homeschoolers to attend a Library Orientation. The new children's librarian put together a really great, interactive program for the kids. I was very impressed because, as I'm sure you can guess, a library tour can get a wee bit dry. The kids learned a lot about the reference areas and they spent a good amount of time looking at the resources they don't really use: books on CD, microfiche, newspapers and magazines. They got pretty good at using the search catalogue as well. The Girl will head back in two weeks time for the 'advanced' orientation program. I'm going as well. I'm interested in learning about the online databases available to library users.

We had just enough time after the program to grab a junkie snack at a nearby Tim Hortons. We walked over to the bus stop and waited, snacked and talked. The bus ride home was uneventful as was the walk home.

I was surprised that Mr. B was not yet home from his day when we arrived home at 4:30. We peeled the Skittish White Dog from the ceiling and got her to stop bouncing around shortly after we managed to force our way past her and into the house. The kids were dispatched to do a wardrobe change while I attended to a mouthguard fitting in the kitchen. THe kids had to fed for themselves when they announced they were famished. Snacks were had in front of a favourite cartoon - Phinneas & Ferb - while I did the laundry and tracked down Mr. B.

The Boy dressed for hockey in the living room and we were back out the door at 5:10. I hadn't arranged dinner and was a little worried that it would be chaos and low-blood sugar fits when we returned home.

Hockey was great as usual. The Boy was anxious, as usual. It was shortlived. The kids on the ice did skills and drills before a scrimmage. It's a good thing they use the first couple of weeks to get to know the players and balance the teams. The Boy was quick to let me know that he scored 3, assisted 2, saved 2 and set 'Spencer' up for a goal. He likes to keep track of stuff like that.

After we got home I played short-order cook in the kitchen. We did a bacon and eggs dinner. Four different types of eggs. I tossed a last egg on the hot pan as I was clearing the stove once everyone else had their dinners. I made it to the table just as the kids were finishing. I'll get better as the season progresses. Note to self: Don't make plans on the afternoons The Boy has hockey. Especially if Mr. B. is out of town.

At 8, The Boy turned up with a bad headache so he carted himself off to bed. The Girl was deep in a book enjoying the first quiet time of her day. The laundry was done, the kitchen cleaned up and Mr. B finally shut off his work PC as The Girl went off to bed at 9:30. He and I vegged on the couch for an hour and then we turned in ourselves.

All in all, a busy day. I was very impressed that it all turned out as well as it did. Now, the next time a busy day rolls around, my goal is to make sure the Skittish White Dog gets her walk.


First Week Blues

Friday, September 11, 2009

Well. That was a disaster.

Perhaps there is something to these "Fly By The Seat Of Your Pants", No Planning Required", "Let's See What Tomorrow Brings" homeschooling philosophies. Because this week I proved that the "Mom Looks Forward 6 Months By Buying Next Year's Books At This Year's Conference" and the "Take A Month Of Your Summer To Plan" methods can make one feel woefully inadequate in just three short days! (Really, short days. We didn't even attempt a full course load yet, people.)

But we all know a very relaxed way of approaching things simply doesn't work for me. Relaxed, even 'slightly scheduled', quickly slides down into lagging which spirals to a tepid intermittent which makes those nasty adjectives like 'procrastinating' pop up in conversation between Mr. B. and I. It's a dirty, slippery, self-loathing slope with two backward, lazy and unfortunate children waiting at the bottom. Ahem.

Thankfully, the weekend is here. These two days will give me time to recollect my enthusiasm, my encouragement, my creativity and, perhaps most importantly, my indoor voice. I will also run errands, get a few groceries, plant late grass in the backyard, help Mr. B. rebuild the carbs in the outboard, take a load to Goodwill and wean the dog off her meds. But I digress.

Next week will be better. On Monday, we will be motivated to finish up our work early in order to meet up with the local homeschoolers for a special library date. The kids will get a kick out of having the run of the place. It's usually closed on Mondays. Next week will be better. They'll be expecting a schoolish schedule. Maybe they'll be less shocked when I wake them up at 7:45am. Next week will be better. By then the initial shock of writing a paragraph/doing math each day/pick your poison will surely have worn off. Next week will be better.

Next week will be better.


The Obligatory 'First Day of School' Blog

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Like any good Canadian, I must begin by remarking on the weather: What a gorgeous day we had today! It started out thick with fog, then cloudy with sun, then sunny and warm. We seem to be having some threatening thundershowers to finish things up.

It was a perfect day to spend outside with friends. We had our 4th annual homeschoolers picnic today. I'd add capitals and title the event, however there seems to be some local haphazardness to the naming of our get-together. To some it's the Not-Going-Back-To-School picnic. To others it's the Home Learner's Picnic. To me, meh, it's a day in the park.

As so with sun, sand and socialization, we mark the beginning of our 7th (7th!!!) year of homeschooling. Did I mention I still have rookie jitters and second-guessing stress about homeschooling? Crazy.

For a couple of weeks now, I've been getting together our books and papers. I camped in the local Staples store last weekend and photocopied a ream+ of paper. Really. 613 pages. I have to go back this weekend and do more. But not a lot more. Thankfully. And, no, the copyright police are not out to get me.

Not only did I map out our year in worksheets and student pages, but I built a weekly timetable. It is mostly for the kids' benefit - they who like to check things off and ask 'when are we done?' - however I do admit to an inkling of perfectionist satisfaction when I see our days all perfectly planned. With time allotments. Because if I see The Boy Child spending more than 15 minutes on Handwriting Without Tears, I know it's going to be a bad day. I don't want bad days. I want Happy Homeschool days. Please refrain from sending helpful emails detailing how over-planning sets up unrealistic expectations and dooms the planner to ultimate failure and disappointment. I know. Still...I plan.

Today the timetable said 'Picnic' and 'Library'. We stayed too long at the picnic and therefore missed the library. See, I'm behind already. But that's ok. The timetable (and the calender{s} and the lessons plans and the subject guides) is more of a guideline anyway. Thank you Donna Young.

So, a lovely back-to-school...or not...day. Good food, good company, good times. I'm looking forward to the change of season. For the most part, the kids are as well. I'm excited about some of the plans we have with the local homeschoolers. I'm stoked about our bookwork. I'm so glad the local kids will be out of my tree and in a classroom. The kids are looking froward to getting back to hockey and soccer and library days and new notebooks and bike rides. (I know. Bike rides? But that's what they said.)

Happy September, All

♥Mrs. A.


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