Foster: “That’s what friends are for. Tricking people into eating pieces of hard licorice.”
After supper the other day, Foster took me aside and said, “I need to get a job. How do I get a job?”
“Why do you need a job?” I asked.
“Because I need some money.”
“Why do you need money?”
“Because there’s a Lego man Charlotte really wants and I want to buy it for her.”
“Oh, I see.”
“And I need two dollars so I can go to that machine in the mall, the one where you use a claw to pick up a toy, and try to get the blue bear for Charlotte. She really, really wants that blue bear.”
“Well, we’ll see what we can do,” I said and thought, awwww, quit breaking my heart, kid. Isn’t that the sweetest thing you’ve ever heard? How many ten-year-old boys do you know who spend their time daydreaming about what to buy their little sisters?
The next day, a Body Shop order arrived for me and included in the box were three little manicure sets – one for each kid. (They were marked down to $2 – go check it out if you need a manicure kit because there might be some left.) Inside each kit is a pair of nail scissors, nail clippers and a metal nail file.
Within a minute of receiving his, Foster held up the pieces one at a time to show me. “Look, Mom. The clippers are for snapping the lock on the gate, the scissors are for cutting the phone lines, and the file is for stabbing somebody! It’s The Ultimate Murder Kit!”
Sweet, loving, considerate, homicidal freak.
See this innocent little face?
If he asks for a two dollar loan, I’d just give it to him.
The late January sun slices into the kitchen at just the right angle to make a foot wide sunbathing area for the dogs, which they politely share:
It doesn’t last long so they soak it up while they can.
While I was transferring that photo from the camera to my computer, I came across this unexplained bit of weirdness:
I don’t know what it is exactly, who made it or who took the picture, but I’m guessing it’s candy. Some kind of candy sculpture. I shudder to think about what might be holding the pieces together.
This photo is what I get for leaving the camera within reach of the short people.
As the kids get older, I find Christmas more and more enjoyable with every passing year. Sure, babies and toddlers are cute and it’s fun to dress them up and watch them scream their guts out on Santa’s knee, but they’re also needy and irritable and poop a lot, none of which are qualities I purposely seek out in friends and companions. This pre-teen age, however, is perfect. They aren’t too jaded or “cool” to be excited about Christmas, they hide themselves away for hours before Christmas to make gifts for everyone and, most importantly, they no longer beg for big, noisy, obnoxious, battery-devouring toys that make me want to hurl them (the toys, not the kids) into the driveway and back over them. Repeatedly.
No, now they want books and clothes and make-up and technology. They want to walk into Future Shop and take one of everything, essentially. Which would be expensive, but still better than having a house that looks like a Toys R Us.
Here are the young revellers, modelling t-shirts and a new tiger hat:
And here’s Foster, ever-so-slightly pleased with his new Wii game:
And Charlotte (for whom every day is Hallowe’en), cuddled up with Glen in a new fuzzy blanket:
And Anna, trying to put on Glen’s new parka:
See that poor dog? That right there is the definition of resignation. Look at his limp little limbs. Why bother struggling? Just let the giant, pink, tiger-headed girl have her way and eventually she’ll get distracted and move on to something else. Fortunately, he received a ton of new toys and treats to make up for the humiliation.
My birthday, on the other hand, never seems to become more enjoyable. I turned 39 (shriek! how can this be?) on December 28 and my lovely family took me out for Chinese food before bribing me with gifts to continue doing their laundry for another year, then presented me with this:
Cupcakes decorated to look like balls of yarn. How cute is that?
It’s out of character, granted, but I don’t have much to say these days. That is probably because I spend every moment flailing frantically, trying to keep my head above water. I know being busy is better than the alternative and I can rest when I’m dead and all those other condescending (and morbid) expressions people throw in your face after asking how you are and hearing the response, “Busy.”
I don’t say I’m busy because I want sympathy (I chose to take on most of my current responsibilities, after all) or because it makes me sound important (aside from being the only one around here to remember everyone’s birthdays, I’m completely replaceable); I say it because it’s true. I have a lot on the go, too much on the go, and I’m struggling to make it all work. I have the bad feeling something has to give and I’m not sure what that something will be. I’ve already jettisoned exercise, all creative pursuits and a social life, so what next? Personal hygiene? Eating? Sleeping?
So, upon realizing I had nothing to write about except my insane daily schedule, I decided to have a look through the past several months of photos on Anna’s digital camera in the hopes of finding a nice picture or two. What I found was…interesting. Anna’s camera is used by everyone (except The Boy Wonder, who seems to have no desire to prance around taking photos with a tiny, pink camera) and as the photographer gets younger and younger, the photos get weirder and weirder. I’ll spare you the countless shots of Lego constructions, Littlest Pet Shop posters, blurry shots of the dog and deeply unflattering close-ups of the humans. (Most important lesson I learned this afternoon: I have no good side.)
But I did find this:
Anna took this in our office the other day and I call it, “Forbidden Embrace in Office Supply Closet.” It isn’t in a closet and they’re free to embrace, but I think it adds a little excitement and mystery, don’t you?
Oh, and this:
I took this shot on a home-schooling field trip to Halifax to visit the Museum of Natural History and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. I call it “Sullen City Bird.” He agreed to this photo in exchange for a french fry.
“Bald Eagle Contemplating Small Dog for Afternoon Snack.” This photo was taken by Charlotte, I think. It might have been Anna. I can’t remember, but I’m sure they’ll waste no time in correcting me if I’m wrong.
And continuing the bird theme:
“Outside my Dirty Kitchen Window an Osprey Takes Flight.” Shot by me a couple days ago. Not shot shot.
And then I found two photos, also taken by me, that beg for an expanded collection:
Caterpillar on pavement.
Giant slug on pavement.
How exciting to have a new project.
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?
Now that the kids are getting older and are having friends over more frequently, they’re also inviting those friends to stay for supper occasionally. This is both good and bad – good because it reminds me how much I like my children in comparison to all other children and bad because in order to make that comparison, I have to endure the presence of other children. Nah, I’m just being nasty. Mostly. The majority of the kids’ friends are nice and sweet and polite, if perhaps a little too honest by times. As in, “Wow! That’s a lot of dirty dishes!” Etc.
Charlotte had a dinner guest one night this past week who, when confronted with homemade bread – the bread seen above, BREAD, I might add, MADE WITH MY VERY OWN HANDS – asked, “How do you guys eat this stuff?” Uh, thanks, kid. Don’t call us, we’ll call you.
The very next night, Anna had a guest – a lovely young lady we like very much – who asked me to please make the pasta with sausage dish I’d made the week before since she’d sampled it from Anna’s thermos at school the next day and thought it was delicious. Flattered, I re-created the recipe and happily served it, at which time our guest said, “Oh, I’m a vegetarian.” Um, you know what sausage is, right?
I’m thinking that our next dinner guest will receive any food of his or her choosing – from the backyard. Anything you can find, dearest, it’s all yours.