Tuesday, September 02, 2014

First Day of School

Of course Elizabeth decided to get up at six twenty-three. She's testing my resolve. Hah! No screen time for you, toddler! Have some construction paper and do fun drawings instead!
Cute isn't getting you anywhere, kid.
I am bleary and tired and I should call several retirement home today and the house is a mess and I feel like I ought to be baking bread even though it's really hot and the fridge needs organizing and and and. Urgh. Still, I have a nice pile of books I'm going to read from, we had an excellent homeschool day yesterday, with lots of read alouds and learning about the North, and when the other children were in bed Geoff did ten minutes of Khan Academy with Nathaniel, and I think Nat did fifteen or twenty minutes of independent reading on Raz Kids. 

Oh! And our friend Rowan, who works for a publishing company, brought over a bin full of books for us, so we have those to go through today. There were a bunch of Batman and Superman board books that I can use with Thomas for letter identification.And another terrifying Inuit legend. I think everyone dies.Very cheerful.

I should find our copy of Story of the World, since we're ostensibly using that as a history spine, combined with basically moving into the Royal Ontario Museum.

I've just made a pot of tea with three teabags in it, and set a timer so I don't forget it until it's undrinkable. It should be nearly as caffeinated as coffee. I think I should take up drinking coffee.

So, we begin the school year again with insufficient sleep, loud early waking toddlers, mess, and a resolution to actually sit down and do table top work at least three times a week. Wish us luck.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Still blind

My new glasses haven't come in, so I still can't see very well. What I primarily notice is that it causes a low level frustration that makes me want to give up before I start. Constant irritation. I'm really hoping the new ones come Tuesday and my vision is restored.

We got the official response from the school board, acknowledging that we're going to home school. So I guess we're now extra super committed, and I solemnly vow not to have screen time in the morning anymore, unless I am dying, or for at least two weeks. I'll tell the children it's just no more, but give myself an out for illness or toddlers waking three hours too early. Since school starts in a couple of days I think we'll step up the Khan Academy and letter practice, and head to the library. I want to do the museum once or twice a week, and the library every two weeks. This year I will try not to accrue enormous library fines. It will help if we don't have another brutal winter filled with snow and constant stomach flu.

The rest of the week will be filled with reading aloud, probably science videos, and looking for a retirement home for my parents, because the doctor wants them out of their house in the next two months. I am working on not dissolving into a pile of stress. I need to find, visit, take parents for visit, pack all their things, drink a lot of wine, and generally hyperventilate.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Adult museum trip

Geoff and I went to the ROM on our own today. Wow.
Detail of an 1880s shoulder cape, metal beading and embroidery

18th Century man's cut velvet coat, self covered buttons

Coptic embroidery, probably based on a Greek or Roman myth

Detail of Coptic child's baptism tunic

Note the dragon St. George is spearing

Curtain fragment, Egyptian post- Islam

Ice bucket belonging to Grand Duchess Olga, who apparently lived in Ontario most of her life. Cool

Tiffany lamp

Geoff calls this the Escaping Baby Jesus Madonna


16th English bedroom

Same room

There was a whole section, era by era, of household objects and rooms arranged by time, with the appropriate furniture and oddments. The above is from the English bedroom, Tudor era. There were also Jacobean, Roccoco, Regency, and Victorian. So cool.

Marie de Medici, late Elizabethan

18th Century household altar

Monday, August 25, 2014

On the extreme bright side

I had the epiphany that trips with my children are starting to get actually interesting, as in, 'interesting to me'. This is a huge relief because I honestly didn't think this day would ever come. We went to the South East Asian Festival on Saturday, and had a really good time.

Setting out

Sugarcane ready for juicing

Belly dancing


On Saturday night, Nat jumped on my glasses. The arms broke off.

I don't have a replacement pair of decent ones, so I am now in my older glasses- wrong prescription, and the lenses literally fall out several times a day. Yesterday I reached for them as I was getting out of the shower, and the lenses fell out, and one of the screws rolled under the vanity where I can't get it. So now they're also wired together with part of a stripped twist tie.

My brain is trying to re-wire itself to deal with the changes, but I have headaches and blurred vision and it feels like the world is spinning left. Depth perception is screwy. I'm pretty okay at home but, even though this feels histrionic, I am not going out alone with the kids this week, and Geoff is taking this week off as part of his vacation time, because I get dizzy and am not very useful, plus if I lose a lens when I'm out with the kids, I'd be stranded. i can't see well enough to get us home.

On the tiny bright side, this is my cousin's last full week in Toronto, and if we can borrow the car from my parents, Geoff and I will be able to do a lot of things together that we'd been putting off, like buying new chairs, and doing some cleaning and organizing. By that I mean, me sitting down feeling dizzy while everyone else cleans and organizes. Sigh.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Seven Quick Takes: Officially Official

1. We sent in the official form letter to the school board this week, saying that Nathaniel will be homeschooled this year. We don't have to do it for Thomas, because he'd be entering junior kindergarten, and it's not compulsory. So now we're all committed.

2. This makes it even more compelling when I'm telling Nat, "Look, either you can do five minutes of letter copying, or you can go to school and sit for eight hours a day." Okay, I know the hyperbolic threats are full of hyperbole, but they also work, because he is a kid who is good at self interest, and if he were away for eight hours a day he would be missing Lego and Minecrift time. So he does it.

3. I should probably order the rest of the books I was going to use for curriculum, right? That seems like a good idea. I want to get some more books of poetry and history to strew around. I'm getting The Barefoot Book of Poetry, but I'm still looking for colourful history books that we can read intermittently and leave around being tempting. Any suggestions?

4. Last Saturday I went out to the new fancy poutine place with my cousin. We only got three orders, which I think was pretty restrained. Mine had filet mignon on it. His had bacon, sausage, and ground beef. I think there might have been a vegetable someone included. After we ate we went used book shopping, and I accidentally bought books.

We ate it all
5. It's been a good couple of weeks for trips. We had the museum yesterday, and an epic Zoo trip last week 
Mim on the zoo train
Full of grizzly bears and trips on the zoomobile and happy peacocks. It was a good trip.

There's a South East Asian festival tomorrow afternoon not too far from us. I'm thinking we'll go to it, since Geoff is gone most of Saturday for a grading, and this way we can listen to Indian music and watch belly dance and (most importantly) feed everyone dinner at the festival so I don't have to cook. And I'm going to take the boys to the Canadian National Exhibition this week. All of this is our last burst of summer, before we go into hiding for winter.

6. I've been re-reading Sailing to Sarantium, as I mentioned, but next up is a friend's unpublished novel. I'm looking forward to it, even though I'll be reading it off my phone, which will make me even more iPhone-attached than usual. 

7. Today will be an exciting day filled with going to the grocery store and coming home. I'm still pretty tired from yesterday, hoiking the twenty-pound toddler in the Ergo for five hours, and being resolutely educational at the children while they were protesting the Greek and Roman sections of the museum. So today is laundry and housework and trying to work out a meal plan day. Books and Phineas and Ferb and drawing and Lego. 

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Trip to the museum

We had a very exciting trip to the museum today. The museum is becoming our fallback, "It's raining!" "It's hot!" "Mom can't think of something to do!" tripe, but it's always good, and today I got the kids to agree to go to the Ancient Civilizations floor before hitting the Natural History section, and we got lots of good pictures. And after, I actually got to the COSTUME HISTORY floor, which was unprecedented.
Waiting to go to the subway station

It worked out really well. I whisked the kids up to the Byzantine section and countered the numerous, ongoing protests by telling them about some of the things we were seeing, tying it in to things we've read about and talked about. I tried to tie the Mithras panel below to a book on Roman solders that we have.

Nat and the glowing screen

I love the glowing, opalescent ancient glass. I can't remember if that's a patina caused by time, or intentional on the part of the glassblowers, but so pretty.

Melanie asked me if that's a Byzantine representation of Artemis, and I didn't check but I will next visit. It certainly looks like it. Byzantine eyes are so distinctive. I just re-read Sailing to Sarantium, so I told the kids a little about Justinian, who made a slave girl his Empress.

Blurry Ancient Crete. Bull dancers and the goddess of bull dancers

I kept staring at this, trying to decide if it was extant 18 century or a Victorian impression, or maybe a modern suit. It's in amazing shape, and most clothes that old are crumbling. There was no writing about it. I'm going to go back and take some more closeup pictures.

This was extant
Man's velvet suit, embroidered. So pretty and cuddly-looking.

Nineteenth century riding habit, cut so the shirt would fall sidesaddle. Hard to take a picture, the lighting wsa very low and the flash caused light bursts. There's a pair of pants made for wearing under it. They're beautifully tailored.

 According to the above, textiles woven with Arabic phrases in the border were much sought after in Medieval Europe. The Madonna below has them on the edge of her mantle. I didn't know about these at all. Fascinating.

Neat tunic with interesting design. I can't remember what century but I'm thinking Middle Eastern and 14th century or later. 

 Coptic child's baptism tunic. That's the Virgin and Child in the middle, and an angel and St. Macarius, who is, I think, one of the Desert Fathers, although there might be another one I don't know. The embroidery is beautiful.

We also spent a lot of time in the kids' section, where all of them found new friends and the boys played the totally logical game Dinosaurs Attack the Toy Castle, which happens every time we go. The girls, like little gender stereotypes, gathered up dolls and mothered them, and did puzzles quietly, and had tea parties.

A really good trip.