Sunday, September 20, 2015

Standards dropping like a rock

Although not like a rock through air. Through something more viscous, maybe pudding? I'm coping with the general absence of other adults, and even starting to adjust to no-other-adults-at-dinner-and-bedtime, but the way to serenity about it has meant considerably lowered dinner standards. I was unaware how important to me self-worth actually cooking dinner was. But the way to emotional equanimity turns out to be letting go of that, and serving a lot of frozen pizza, tacos, and scrambled eggs. When I get better at this gig or the kids get older I will reintroduce more real, cooked dinners, but until then I am laying off the roast chicken with root vegetables and wine gravy, or shakshouka, or meatloaf and scalloped potatoes.
One of the compounding factors in the Frozen Pizza Meal Plan is that we have been going on lots of trips, and specifically lots of homeschool trips. And it's been brilliant, really really good, but there's lots of days when we're out for five to seven hours at a park and stagger home, me literally because of hauling a girl on my back, and collapse. 

In my head I hear the panicky cry, "Not doing enough school!" but since we're doing some reading every day, and math usually, and science happens on the way to and from, well, everywhere... I think we're fine. And I am aware that the glorious sunny fall weather is not going to last, and pretty soon we'll be trapped inside except for brief, brief forays into the biting cold. Until then, parks and zoo and more parks and hikes and lots and lots of Goldfish crackers.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Still plugging along, and also I need more caffeine

Thomas is suddenly on fire about reading. Well, not LITERALLY on fire. But excited. We're generally managing to do some academics and a lot of trips out, which is great and tiring. I can see that daily math practice is definitely having an effect on Nat- his mental math is getting much smoother and faster. And Thomas is ACTUALLY READING. REALLY READING A LITTLE. And that is so exciting to me that I can barely restrain my enthusiasm.

Now I just have to figure out how to work in poetry, history, art, and copywork. It's one of my arbitrary goals to try to produce kids who can write legibly. Geoff is probably laughing hysterically about that, but think how nice it would be to have kids who can write things that other people can read. Unlike, say, me.

It's interesting the way we're sliding into structure, after a few very unschooling years. I'm pro unschooling, autodidact, follow your interests, but as the kids get older I think it's my job to equip them with the tools they'll need in order to follow their interests.And acquiring those skills isn't a ton of fun, but the ability to read well and thoroughly, to think critically, and to have a facility with math- those are all non-negotiable. And so the cheap math curriculum and the endless Starfall and The Reading Lesson. Later on, how to write papers with citations and how to use an index. Along with that, Grimm's Fairy Tales and Winnie the Pooh and the Church Mouse and all of Narnia, because we're trying to read the 1000 Good Books to prepare for when we're reading the 100 Great Books. Because however loosely I'm following the Platonic Path of Education, or Charlotte Mason, or whatever, what I want is for kids who know beauty and truth, and love them.

I think I need more breakfast. My blood sugar is clearly haywire.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

I haven't done school today, but I did talk to Nat about the heliocentric model of the universe, and why Galileo got in trouble. And I recited Jabberwocky at dinner. Oh! and on the subway to a doctor's appointment Nat and I decided that the rhythm in I Had a Duck Billed Platypus When I Was Up at Trinity is the same as in Tolkien's poem There was a merry passenger/A messenger, a mariner. And Nat pointed out that they both make good marching poems, because of the good beat.

We're doing okay at actual school, by which I mean that I have actually done actual phonics with Thomas (whom I'm told pulled out his phonics book in my absence, and did some of it! A miracle!) and that Nat is working on math. We've gotten stalled out reading aloud The Horse and His Boy, and I still have to work on actually reading aloud more than a couple of stories a day to the kids, but I'm pretty happy about just re-instituting table time. Because no matter how unschoolish we tend to be, they don't get a choice about reading. If they don't learn to read, I'll never have the joy of explaining the plastic surgery or hookup ads on the subway. Or the front cover of Cosmo. That was such fun, when Nat learned to read fluently. Although I think his first subway ad adventure was a PETA one about why we don't eat cats and do eat pigs.

Maybe I should rethink this literacy thing.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Rethinking food

Geoff has been working crazy hours a lot. For about the last two months. This has shattered my normal frail control over the breakfast/lunch/dinner routine, especially the part where I always provide a lovingly cooked dinner for my children to reject. When I do all the meals single parents style, my ambition and my will to live drop considerably. There's been A LOT of frozen pizza and frozen spanakopita, which (thank heaven!) my children will eat. So if they're having spinach once or twice a week, maybe they won't die of scurvy?

I'm having reasonable success with batch cooking plus freezing- we're eating a lot of chili presented in slightly different formats- and I'm trying, as always, to think of batch cooking which is flexible and which will not be rejected too often. So far I've really got- chili and bolognese sauce. It's kind of really boring. I'm trying to mentally find the new normal. I am not okay with an endless hot dog/frozen pizza diet, but I am also trying to not make myself totally nuts with cooking plus housework plus homeschooling. Ride the wave of quantum and figure out how to hold everything together....

Monday, August 31, 2015

I Aint Dead

I'm still not dead, life has just been busy or crazy or busy AND crazy, and so I've missed recording Elizabeth's surgery to remove huge, HUGE splinters from her toe, my Dad's 84th birthday, lots of trip, lots of reading, and lots and lots of Minecraft. Minecraft is a wonderful game that teaches great spatial skills and design, but being told about Minecraft projects is possibly the most boring thing ever. And because I've been very very busy Nat has been given much more computer time than usual, so boy, has the Minecraft increased.

But! This week I will actually plot out the course of our academic year (hah) and I will not let the house fall into utter chaos. It's the last week, I think, before they turn the pools and splash pads off here, so we'll be spending most of the week out in some kind of shaded concrete area enjoying the water. And who knows? Next week maybe the zoo, after all the kids go back to school.
This is me after our three hundredth trip this week

Monday, August 10, 2015

Blog silence

I haven't blogged in too long, mostly due to the crushing inertia that Geoff working evenings brought upon me. One more week, and then he should be on days for a while.

During that time I read the latest Diana Gabaldon and did a lot of no housework, kept the children alive, and we watched a lot of movies. Probably fewer than we would have if we hadn't lost the remote that controls Neflix, though. Utter sadness.

So today I have to figure out what we're doing with Mum's ashes, since I refuse to put them in that godawful lighted up cross between a museum and a Loblaws, for permanent display. I also have to call Apple and see if I can get a new remote, And call the horrible cemetery and get my money back.

My current grim stupid plan is to find somewhere meaningful and bury her ashes there, and then spend the $11,000 half on their church and half taking all her immediate and distant family out to the Mandarin. How can you spend $5000 at the Mandarin? I'm going to look at that as a challenge. Maybe we'll buy the cotton candy machine to be Nathaniel's best friend forever.

Monday, August 03, 2015

This past week in pictures

We survived a whole week with Geoff gone for dinner and bed time, and the children all survived, which is because of grace and not because of me. Near the end of the week I was pretty full of shrieking. Single parents, I salute you. I cam near to eating my offspring, especially after we lost the tiny stupid remote that connects our tv to Netflix.

Miriam had an exciting and destructive week. I need to find her more sensory activities that don't involve ruining the house. Like, pretty much anything that doesn't have flooding or butter and furniture. 

The boys are practising being cooler than anyone else in the house.

I do love her very much, I just kind of want to rehome her. I haven't figured out how to keep a three year old who climbs like a monkey out of everything.

Nat's dedication to being a mad scientist means never, ever taking the lab coat off.

"I want Rexie for a puppy!"
I'm gearing up for another week of Geoff being gone until late. I have lots of frozen food, lowered expectations, and a basic itinerary of reading library books and trying not to lose my sanity. I'm waiting on figuring out our homeschool plan until things settle down and I know what Geoff's schedule will be. Thank goodness it's nearly fall and the Science Centre and ROM will clear out soon....