teacher’s pets

On the off chance anyone cares, I thought I’d give a quick update on what’s new around here.

Update #1:  The kids are now all being home-schooled. Yes, by me. Yes, I am aware I’m not a teacher. Yes, I know they’ll be completely unsocialized and spend the rest of their days living in a cave. Thanks for your concern.

It all started with Foster. He just isn’t a classroom kind of kid. He’s very bright and astonishingly creative, but he’s also quiet and adept at flying under the teacher’s radar. While she was busy with the high-maintenance kids, Foster was busy tuning out everything he found boring (math, in particular) and losing himself in writing and drawing. He needs one-on-one attention to make sure he’s staying on task and a teacher, responsible for 25 kids, can’t provide that. I can. I can also tailor his day so he has more time to spend on his passions. And I can find ways to make the boring stuff slightly less boring.

After a couple weeks of home-school, Charlotte was so jealous of her brother’s new-found love of learning, she started asking to be home-schooled too. We discussed the pros and cons at length and made her think about it for a while and she eventually decided yes, she wanted to be home-schooled too. After another couple weeks, Anna came to the same conclusion.

The kids LOVE it and say they have no regrets and no interest in returning to regular school. They learn just as much, if not more, in a home-school day and do it in half the time of a public school day. While teaching them isn’t as hard as I expected, it definitely is time-consuming. I’m lucky that I can bump my Wingspan work and library shifts to afternoons and evenings to accommodate our school schedule.

I should also mention that I was prepared for huge disapproval from everyone who found out about this and was shocked to receive almost none. Our biggest supporters, in fact, were the principals of the kids’ former schools who think it’s a terrific idea. (Which either says my kids were so bad they’re glad to be rid of them or they recognize the public school system is not an ideal learning environment.) Aside from my mother, every single person to whom I’ve mentioned it has gushed about what a wonderful idea it is and how their __________ (daughter/niece/neighbour) home-schools her children too. I am amazed at how many home-schoolers are out there.

Update #2:  Our house has still not sold. Honestly, people, what are you waiting for?

Update #3:  My doctor continues to struggle with finding the right dose of thyroid medication for me and seeing as she goes on maternity leave shortly, this issue isn’t likely to be resolved anytime soon. I am still waiting to see my specialist regarding the nodules, which, according to my latest ultrasound,  have not shrunk despite the meds. Bummer. In the meantime, I am experimenting with my medication (what happens if I start taking double? what happens if I stop taking it entirely?) because hey, I’m impersonating a teacher everyday now so why not a doctor? How hard can it be?

Update #4:  My novel is pretty well finished and now it’s time to start searching for an agent. The thought of this makes me so nervous I could puke. Or maybe that’s just the double dose of desiccated thyroid I took this morning. If any of you have become literary agents without mentioning it, please do let me know and I’ll send you my manuscript for you to ignore and/or reject.

And what’s new with you?

cue drumroll

Introducing Glen:

 After a couple days of brainstorming names and another couple days of debating them, the top two contenders were Graham and Nathan. And then I suggested Glen. Oh. Glen. We were all instantly sold, except Foster, who is still calling him Nathan. He’ll come around. Or he won’t and the poor dog will never really know what his name is.

Glen seems to be settling in well and is having a ball with Mia, who also seems happy to have someone to do dog-type things with (butt-sniffing, running in circles, pleading to stay indoors) and doesn’t smack her on the head for no reason, like Murray the bully cat. For his part, Murray seems pleased to sit back whenever Mia and Glen are horsing around and watch the show. It’s a good deal all around.  Meanwhile, the sole surviving fish is thinking, uh, hello, still swimming all alone over here.

To give the young lovebirdsdogs a special place of their own, I bought a nice, plush cat bed yesterday and look:

Tandem snoozers.

our new addition

Please welcome _________________, our as yet unnamed addition to the family:

 He came to live with us yesterday, which was also his six-month birthday, and quickly learned we take a lot of photos here.

I don’t think he minds, though. Especially since he is the mellowest dog ever. So far he has spent 90% of his time with us contentedly riding around in someone’s arms.

He’s spent the remaining 10% of his time romping around after Murray and Mia, who are at last united in their distrust of the cute new arrival.

He came with the name Ben, which we really liked at first and thought we’d go with, but by last night we were all wavering on whether he really seemed like a Ben, after all. The girls and I are partial to Graham (with the added benefit that his nickname could be graham cracker, natch) and the menfolk are partial to Nathan or Nate, for short. Other names in the running are Owen, Joel and Wes. It’s a tough call. Any votes? Any other recommendations?

settling in

So I'm still trying to settle into the new site - hanging my pictures on the walls, figuring out where exactly the furniture should go, and so on - but the boxes of all my old stuff still haven't arrived. And by boxes, I mean files on a hard drive. My archives...

So I’m still trying to settle into the new site – hanging my pictures on the walls, figuring out where exactly the furniture should go, and so on – but the boxes of all my old stuff still haven’t arrived. And by boxes, I mean files on a hard drive. My archives, to use a term that gives my collection of pet photos, lame status updates and rants about the weather a fancy name.

Since he had a problem with my totally inefficient plan of cutting and pasting HTML, post by post, The Boy Wonder is valiantly trying to figure out how to transfer all my old posts to the new site in one shot. And one shot (to the back of the head) is probably what I’m going to get if I nag him about it one more time.

In the meantime, please feel free to leave comments about what works and doesn’t work for you, both literally and figuratively. For example, on my desktop computer, the site’s colour scheme is a range of vibrant greens with a nice, sand-coloured sidebar. A sandbar, if you will. But when I looked at it on my laptop this morning, I was disappointed to discover the greens are flat and washed out and the warm sand colour a pale grey. Bleh. It makes me wonder what others see. Is it my laptop screen that’s off or is my desktop monitor overly bright?  Should I quit worrying about it and go do some dishes? No. Should I go to bed? Yes.

at last

After bugging The Boy Wonder for a couple years to re-do my blog, I finally got sick of waiting and decided to do it myself. Et voila! (I was going to write ‘Et viola!’ but worried you might not realize that’s a joke. It’s one of my pet peeves, as you can imagine. One of my 23,000 pet peeves.)

Anyway, to make a long story even longer, I started fooling around with designing a new site during my fourteen seconds of free time every day and, two months later (with a little bit of last-minute help from The BW), here it is. It’s still a work in progress – as am I – so please be gentle.

 

status report

This probably isn’t the best time to be writing a blog post since I’m so over-worked, over-tired, over-stressed and under-chocolated (see? I can’t even be bothered to write properly), but since all two of you are clamouring to know what’s going on in my fabulous life right now, I’ll try to come up with something worth reading.

Hmm.

I got nothing.

Sorry about that.

We continue to prepare the house for sale with The Boy Wonder tackling some painting and minor carpentry jobs and me cleaning like a fiend only to find the house a disaster again upon returning home from work every day. Yeah. That doesn’t get old. My children are incapable – seriously, INCAPABLE – of picking up after themselves and I’m thisclose to making them live in the shed until the house is sold. I’ll take my chances with Children’s Aid because, frankly, going to prison sounds dreamy at the moment. Solitary confinement? Yes please!

I still don’t want to say much about what will hopefully be our new house, which I understand makes this post boring as hell, but I hope you’ll understand. Until everything is a done deal, I’d better shut up about it.

So other than working on the house and working at the library and working on Wingspan business, I don’t have much else going on. I haven’t made anything recently because I haven’t had time. I haven’t baked anything delicious recently because it’s been too bloody hot. Oh, and I don’t have time. I did make several jars of peach jam yesterday since we received 11 litres of peaches in our fruit CSA order this week, but I couldn’t even enjoy the jam-making because I was worried about falling behind on the house prep. Ugh, I hate living like this.

The only thing standing between me and a complete nervous breakdown is that last glorious hour of every day during which I give myself permission to sit down and weep quietly while reading or watching tv. The past week’s entertainment has been:

The Robinsons starring Martin Freeman. From the back cover: “When Ed is told by his wife, ‘you’re not the man I married,’ he is forced to ask himself ‘who am I?’ The answer he gets back – ‘Ed Robinson’ – doesn’t satisfy him. Ed’s search for meaning takes him to many places…but nowhere more intriguing than his own family, or indeed, family history.”

At only six episodes of thirty minutes each, even I could find time for this. I found the writing and acting very good, if a little over-the-top at times. It was still very entertaining, though.

Next:

I Know I Am, But What Are You? by Samantha Bee. From the inside jacket: “Candid, outspoken, laugh-out-loud funny essays from the much-loved Samantha Bee, the Most Senior Correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.”

I didn’t know much about Samantha Bee before reading this book and now I’d have to agree that she certainly is candid, outspoken and laugh-out-loud funny. Oh, and crazy. The “essays” are presented as a memoir, but her telling of her life’s events can be so ridiculous (in a funny way) that it’s hard to know where the truth ends and the leg-pulling begins. She reminds me of a much more talented version of myself: rude, crude, ruthlessly critical and a huge sap about her kids.

And finally, I read this one with the kids:

Mr Gum and the Biscuit Billionaire by Andy Stanton. From the back cover: “Good evening. Ok, this book’s a bit hard to describe. There’s this gingerbread man with electric muscles, see? And he’s as rich as a mushroom, right? And Mr Gum and Billy William are plotting to get the cash, yeah? And it’s up to Polly to save the day. And there’s a funfair and hot dogs, and Friday O’Leary shouts out some crazy stuff, and…hey, that wasn’t so hard to describe after all.”

This is the second in the Mr Gum series, which is typical for us because we’re too disorganized to read books in the proper order cool and carefree to be constrained by notions of ‘proper order.’ It’s a great story, perfect for kids (and the adult reading to them) who like their bedtime stories weird and funny. My guys laughed like crazy through the whole thing and when we were finished, Foster immediately picked it up and re-read it to himself. Next, we’ll read the first in the series. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Now, what’s new with you?

quick update

Life is beyond hectic right now as I work almost full-time at the library, work almost part-time at Wingspan, try to complete all the usual day-to-day maintenance and…(drumroll)…prepare to put our house on the market. We’ve found a very nice house on a lake about fifteen minutes away and are now in a desperate race to get this pigsty cleaned up enough to put up for sale. I’ll post more about it as I know more; at the moment nothing is definite so I don’t want to screw anything up by blabbing too soon.

My one refuge during all this non-stop activity is an hour of reading before bed every night. Thank God for books. I’d lose my mind without them. (I have to keep justifying – to myself and The Boy Wonder – the importance of books in my life in light of the possibility of moving approximately four and a half million pounds of them.) Anyway, I’m in a hurry at the moment, but there’s always time to be judgmental, right? Right.

First:

Falling Apart in One Piece: One Optimist’s Journey Through the Hell of Divorceby Stacy Morrison. Now don’t get your hopes up, dear in-laws, because The Boy Wonder has not finally come to his senses and decided to divorce me. Not today, anyway. As far as I know. I read this book because it was recommended by a co-worker who has gone through a divorce and felt the author had an interesting perspective. Because I’m a horrible person at heart, I found her tales about how everything went wrong – seriously, one thing after another, it was uncanny – the most gripping part of the whole book. I guess that’s because I’m not divorced. Yet.

Falling Apart is very honest in that she doesn’t leave out any of the fits of weeping or feelings of humiliation or bad decisions, although she doesn’t say much about the fact her ex seems to be a selfish, childish, whiny jerk. Maybe the fact I now think he’s all those things is enough; maybe she was content to give that impression without ever coming out and saying it directly. I guess I was hoping she would just come right out and say it instead of being so gentle and understanding all the time. Jeez, I kept thinking, curse the guy out. Let loose. Stop being so mature and just let him have it.

Another issue I had with the book is Morrison’s continual mentioning of her career in publishing and current position as Editor of Redbook magazine.I understand her career is important to her and becoming the editor of such a successful magazine is a huge accompishment, but for Pete’s sake, enough already. She reminded me of one of those people – you know at least one too – who find a way to work their own achievements into EVERYTHING. I remember once working with a young woman the year she was getting married and she just couldn’t stop talking about it. Even when the topic wasn’t her wedding – and it was, plenty of the time, believe me – she always managed to steer the conversation back to it. Opening an envelope from a customer would get her going about her wedding invitations. A nice blouse on someone would remind her of the cut of her wedding dress. She even took to referring to her husband as “my husband” all the time despite the fact he worked right there with us, about two feet away. (My Star girls will doubtless know who I’m talking about.) So, to get back to the book, she brags about her awesome career in publishing A LOT and I found it a little distracting in that I had to keep rolling my eyes, but it wasn’t that big a deal.

Next:

Made from Scratch: Discovering the Pleasures of a Handmade Life by Jenna Woginrich. The cover of this book caught my eye in the library the other day and since I like making things from scratch too, I had high hopes for it. And it was…okay. Not bad. The author is forthcoming about her own experiences in gardening, beekeeping, baking, antiquing, sewing, playing the fiddle and raising working dogs and angora rabbits, but there is very little information here to help the reader do the same. The author includes resources at the end for those who want to learn more and that’s great, but I didn’t feel I learned a whole lot from reading her book and could have just read the more informative resources instead. I’ll give it a “Not Bad” and say it’s best meant for someone who has never given a thought to self-sufficiency before. If you’re a regular (or even semi-regular) reader of Mother Earth News or Hobby Farms, however, you’ll want something meatier.

And finally:

The Incident Report by Martha Baillie. Fiction. I enjoyed this book a lot. The style is very spare and clean and precise and a pleasure to read. The book is structured in the form of numbered incident reports as produced by Miriam Gordon, a librarian in Toronto. Interspersed with reports of insane, drunk, hostile or pathetic patrons are tiny glimpses of Miriam’s personal life, mainly her troubled relationship with her father and her budding romance with Janko, an artist-turned-cab driver. Highly recommended.

sad news

I'm sorry to say my cousin Justin died in a house fire yesterday. Here is the link to the CBC's story and the link to The Guardian's story and the link to the Journal-Pioneer's story. Such a sad, sad situation.

I’m sorry to say my cousin Justin died in a house fire yesterday. Here is the link to the CBC’s story and the link to The Guardian’s story and the link to the Journal-Pioneer’s story. Such a sad, sad situation.