Back To The Beginning.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I've had a confession brewing for a while. I've also had some really good intentions sitting on the back burner for a while. Today I woke up and reconciled the two.

I fell off the C25K bandwagon. I fell off over halfway though the program as I was ready to start week 7 of 9. I had worked up to a route that was about 4.5km. I ran a good portion of it. And then I stopped. I do admit, I was a little discouraged at the time. It had taken 8 weeks to get me to this point in the program and other than a bit of cardio-vascular endurance, I wasn't seeing too many benefits.

As well, I smashed my toe while trying to walk through an office chair. With all the swelling and bruising, I couldn't get my runners on. That lasted almost a week. Shortly after, I poisoned my dog. Not on purpose, mind you. But it was a month-long situation involving copious amount of puke and poop. Now, who wants to analyze my belief that I can only get some exercise if I take the dog along? Because if you understand the reality of taking the Skittish White Dog out and about, you'd understand that it is an undertaking all in itself. SO really, I make my C25K intervals frustrating as well as physically taxing. Clever, huh?

Fast forward to the recent future: Lately I've begun to feel fed up with myself. And I'm not just a little guilty for stopping all attempts at exercise completely. I read a timely message somewhere out there in cyberspace that talked about getting over yourself and just getting your stuff done. I am my own worst excuse. So I decided that before eating, before getting the kids up, before starting the laundry, putting the garbage out or pulling the day's school work, I just had to go outside and walk the friggin' dog already! I reasoned with myself: if you're walking the dog, then you might as well do the C25K thing again.

To cement this plan in my daily to-do's, on the weekend I went to the local Zeller's and picked up a sports bra, some yoga pants and a couple of layering athletic shirts. I was going for the 'now that I have it, I'd better use it' personal guilt trip. Last night I loaded up my Shuffle and prepared mentally for 8 x 30second running intervals. Only it wasn't 8 x 30seconds. It was 8 x 60second running intervals. Happy Monday Morning to me.

In summary:

  • Most important thing: I got up and moving this morning.
  • Most surprising thing: Noone I passed stared at my jiggling bottom.
  • Most gross thing: the dog stopped running on the path and ate some bloody dead furry mass that I don't want to think about.
  • Most encouraging thing: I'm going to get up and do it again tomorrow. Not the running part, just a nice half hour walk with some peppy music.
  • Most inspiring thing: I really forgot how much I love fall. Great colours. One really should be outdoors some every day :-)


Life In The 'Hood #2

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Today I looked out the window and I saw this:

There was a man in my tree. Of course, 'my' is a term I have absolutely no right to use. It's not my tree. It's just situated next to my yard. Again, not really my yard, but for all intents and purposes, I'm Queen of this postage stamp. Back to the man in my tree...

The man in my tree was here to divest the tree of some of its limbs. You see, there were a few incidents this summer. Some of the local kids discovered they had attained the required height for climbing this particular tree. Not a problem. The problem began when a couple of them started running off at the mouth. Things heated up nicely when they argued that they were not staring in the neighbour lady's windows. Unfortunately, they were arguing with the neighbour lady who was sitting in her living room behind her six-foot fence. She wrote a letter to the building managers and copied the owners.

Mr. B and I got involved when we clearly saw unsafe things happening. 7 and 8 kids crawling all over each other in the tree ignoring my tree-climbing 'rules': stay off any dead branches as well as those thinner than your arm. Then there was the day I found a few of them using bricks to gouge the bark off the tree. Sure, they put the bricks down when I asked them to, but then they tried to rip branches off the tree...and proceeded to swing from them when they were only partly successful. I asked the building manager to step in because of all of this and I was concerned. The kids had stopped listening to me and it was becoming incredibly inconvenient to look out the window all day. Someone was going to get hurt.

So much to my surprise, the tree guys showed up today - a month and a half after the last kid lost their copious amounts of summer free time - and did a very good job at trimming the tree. I was surprised because there had been no response to my - nor the neighbour lady's - complaint. I'd like to say that the building manager/out-of-town owners are the proactive, pride in ownership, get-'er-done types but I'd be lying. They're more the squeaky wheel, bring along the property standards guy and then they start to wake up type of people.

But, in the end, the tree has been trimmed. One more thing around here got taken care of..or 15 things, if you count the number of kids who can't spy on the neighbour lady before falling out of the tree, cracking their backs on 'my' fence on the way down.

On a more personal note, The Boy and The Girl both learned a thing or two about how the professionals trim a tree and then clean up after themselves. The Boy was quite intrigued by the ropes and harness. The Girl is responsible for all the photographs. And for talking the tree guys' ears off - from well out of the way - throughout the entire job.


Apple Picking

Monday, October 19, 2009

Can you believe that until last weekend, I had never been apple picking?

I'd been to the orchard for a tour. I'd seen a demonstration of apple picking. But I'd never done the deed until last Sunday.

It didn't occur to Mr.B that we'd actually have to use all the apples we picked. Hello apple crisp! One bushel of apples makes six and a half recipes of apple crisp and one giant pie. I halved the crisps into smaller pans.

The kids ate two of the bigger pans over the next couple of days and we delivered a few pans to friends and family. The rest were destined for the freezer.

Apple crisp is a favourite around here - warm with ice cream - for breakfast.

I don't know why we hadn't done this apple picking thing before! It's awesome! I think that this might just turn out to be the A Family's newest Thanksgiving tradition.


Library Days

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

I am so loving our library lately!

We have a wonderful, dynamic, organized, creative, helpful new Children's Librarian. I think she has been the driving force behind my new found excitement about the library.

A Little Background. For the last five or six years, I've encouraged the kids to participate in the summer programs the library offers. As Summer 2008 wrapped up, I honestly thought I had seen the last of our summer library days. The kids were tired of same ol' program formats and over-enthusiastic or uncommunicative staff.

Enter New Librarian. I must admit, I was not very impressed to find out our library had fired the children's librarian. For every personality trait the kids didn't like, there was something that endeared her to me. She greeted the kids by name. She suggested books to them that were generally bang-on hits. She ordered just about any book I mentioned to her that wasn't in the collection. She called my house to invite the kids to special events they might not otherwise have heard about. I grumbled unhappily for months (yes, months) before I met the new part-time children's librarian.

A Surprising Summer. Perhaps I was blindsided by the colourful array of new program advertising. Maybe it was just the idea of 'summer break' that was putting me in a better-than-average mood. It could have been the fact that I held no expectation that we would be spending time at the library over the summer. Whatever it was, when I met the new librarian 'Miss L.', I was blown away. The new summer programs looked great. Colourful. Interesting. Up-To-Date. Cool.

The kids were actually looking forward to summer library programs. There were movie afternoons. There was a drop-in hang-out time. There were themed programs that weren't 'stupid'. And the summer book club looked good too. It was like a breath of fresh air had invaded the library. I think we hit the library twice a week.

Lovin' The New Librarian. Now Miss L. greets the kids by name. She listens to their stories. She recommends books and asks them what they've been doing/reading/playing. She asks their opinion. She put together a phenomenal Library Orientation for the local homeschoolers as soon as school was back in. With scavenger hunt. On her day off. When the library was closed to the public. Who does that?! She followed up with a How To Research module for the older kids. I'm really looking forward to what she'll throw at us next.

Happy Homeschoolers. Every Friday we've been taking the majority of the kids' schoolwork to the library. We camp out in the children's section for a change of scenery. We read. The kids do their bookwork. The Girl practices her research skills. The Boy practices his diabolo (in the library and noone yells at him!) I have time between kids and supervising schoolwork to pull books for our next week's reading aloud, histories and science. I help the kids find books for their own library bags. I take the time to explore the CDs, DVDs, the magazines and the reference sections. It's relaxed and enjoyable and our work gets done - even the straggling, end-of-week stuff - because the kids won't whine and complain and I won't plead and yell in public.

Soon to come is a special night for a few of the homeschooling moms. We were so impressed by what the kids learned during their tours that we've arranged for a mom version of the same. I'm especially looking forward to learning about the various databases the library has access to. A night out, a Morebucks coffee and good company is nothing to shake a stick at either.

It will be interesting to see how our library time evolves this year. I hope we continue to get good use of the space and resources they have to offer. Now, I need to know: what do you get that special librarian in your life for Christmas?


I'm Having A Strange Morning...

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Life In The 'Hood

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Some neighbours come and go quickly. Some live quietly. Some neighbours lay it out all over their driveway for everyone to see. Some share food. Some neighbours need to learn manners. Some teach your children. Some play nicely with others. Some have pets. Some have jobs. Some keep strange hours. Some neighbours just keep to themselves. Some are friends and some are just downright scary.

It's interesting living in such a ...diverse neighbourhood. I've earned my stripes in this neighbourhood; done my time; learned the ropes. I've called the police, the property managers, the ambulance - each on more than one occasion. I've looked for lost children, lost pets and lost mail. I've been the mean lady and the nice mom. I happily invite friends in to our crowded space and I've successfully banished the Jehovah's. I've been surprised by strangers on my roof and I've kicked strangers out of my yard. I figure after ten years in these trenches I can now say a thing or two every now and then.

Today The Boy was playing outside while I was inside preparing lunch. He thundered in the house, slamming the door like he was being chased by the fires of hell. Generally this does not happen. The Boy normally needs to be dragged in from the Great Outdoors by his heels. Even for food. I was upset to find out that he had been heckled.

There he was, practicing with his new Diabolo when some idiot individual started hooting and hollering out their back door, finishing up with a very clear: 'Get to school, kid!'


The Boy saw this adult person was who was yelling at him. The Boy was very anxious about going back outside after he had already made a successful escape to safety. However, under the guise of wanting to see his Diabolo tricks and in the spirit of getting back on the horse after falling, I went outside with him and he enthusiastically showed me his complete repertoire.

Lucky for us, we were treated to a repeat performance of Get To School Kid. This one, not as good as the first as it was preformed by a less confident, very stubby seven-year-old and it was abruptly choked off when he noticed me standing there. The Boy was not frazzled and was happy to resume his practicing. I went back to the kitchen to finish up lunch while listening to The Boy yell a running commentary to me through the patio door.

Outwardly, I encourage the kids to ignore such immature, ignorant behaviour. Inwardly, I'd like to take a page from Mr.GetToSchoolKid's book and slap him up the side of the head with a witty Get a Job, Idiot. I think the 'hood is rubbing off on me.

And there you have it, folks. Just another day in the 'hood.


Trivial Tidbits

Monday, October 5, 2009

The kids had a wonderful trip last Friday. Not only did they make it to la Cirque, but they enjoyed a quick visit to ROM. They picked the three exhibits they wanted to see the most and had a blast. They arrived home very late - or early - and were pretty beat the next day. We're homebodies at heart and a super long day generally makes us useless noodles the next day.

My life has become a never ending nightmare of dog hair. The Skittish White Dog is blowing her coat. Unless one has had an animal which has seasonally embarked on this journey to become naked, one simply can't imagine the sheer accumulation of shed. I vacuum (twice a day) and still there are clumps of dog hair escaping to all corners. This has been going on for the month of September and continues. Now that pink skin and ribs can be seen I am hopeful that the end is near. We've taken to letting Skittish White Dog sleep on the couch: it's easier to pick up hair off of leather rather than carpet. On the flip side, the Dyson is proving itself worth the financial sacrifice.

An emergency trip to the grocery store has unearthed a wonderful treat. I like Green & Black's chocolate. There's not a wide variety available around here. I've had the Milk Chocolate and the Maya Gold is a special treat. But today I found the Mint bar. I am officially in love. Lindt, you may have to up your game to regain your lead.

And, finally today, a little bit of linky-love. For fresh, interesting, non-homeschooling reading, I've been enjoying the writing over at The Women's Colony. Giving some intelligent - and sometimes sarcastic - words to a parenting style that has made sense to me for years is Lenore at Free Range Kids.

The Boy is flinging around a hacky-sack in the living room and The Girl, for some reason, needs help to research 'the slave trade that was before the slave trade that everyone writes about'. Wish me intact furniture and luck.

auf wiedersehen,
Mrs. A.


Oh, What To Do?!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Today, I have had a day to myself. Sans kidlets. To tell you the truth, I have felt a little lost.

Today, I woke a bit early and pried The Girl and The Boy out of their warm beds. I put The Boy in the shower and gave The Girl a wide berth. (She needed a minute...or twelve.) They dressed nicely, packed a bag of electronics stuff to do on a car trip and meditated on the couch while I made breakfast smoothies and packed a cooler lunch.

At 8, my mom and dad picked them up to whisk them away to lands unknown. Ok, I - the responsible adult in their lives - know where they are going. However, my parents wanted to keep it a surprise for the kids. The Boy was a little anxious and The Girl a little grumpy about this, but I was prepared to let my parents deal with the consequences of their Very Good Plan.

They are off to the big city to see a very good show - Ovo. They will love it. It will be their second Cirque show. Last year, we saw 'O' in Vegas and it was the highlight of the trip.

Today I have walked the dog, dropped a baby crib on my toe, been to the library, registered the kids for indoor soccer, coloured timeline figures, watched the Cosby Show and Extreme Home Makeover, enjoyed a quiet lunch with Mr.B, admired the new grass growing in the backyard and completed only a very minimal amount of housework. When Mr.B completes his workday, we will take the Thanksgiving turkey from my freezer to my mom's fridge, return merchandise to WalMart, walk my dad's dog, drink expensive Starbuck's coffee (we call it Morebuck's) and figure out some dinner. If I am very sneaky, I may even be able to trick Mr.B into pant shopping at Winner's and some chick-flick viewing. Keep your fingers crossed.

I suppose that I have made good use of my day. I'm not really sure what I should be doing when the kids aren't here. Sure there are things I should be doing. I could go out on a limb and actually plan something significant when I know they're not going to be here. But October crept up on me unbelievably quickly and I found myself getting everything ready for the kids' trip yesterday. Noone around here makes plans with 12-hour notice. And really, I have no kidless, non-working friends to make plans with. I feel a little caught-off-guard without my regular entourage and regular weekday schedule.

So there you have it: the meandering thoughts of a homeschooling mother who finds herself kidless for the first time in a very long time.


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