DIY · education · family fun · Homeschool · Kids

Day 355: There are forts and there are Forts.

In case you missed it, the weather was gorgeous this morning. The sun was shining and the temperature was above zero, which in my children’s eyes is a license to play outside with no jacket. It was the nicest day we’ve had so far, I think.

Mr. December started the school day with chemistry class and then sent the kids out for a mid-morning break. After fifteen minutes of break he looked outside and said, “It feels pretty mean to make them come inside when they’re playing outside and really enjoying themselves.”

“So don’t make them come inside,” I said.

“Ah, the joys of homeschooling!” he enthused.

It was that kind of day. Formal school ended at 10:30 and never reconvened. N was busy working on a jigsaw puzzle of the Periodic Table of the Elements, E was playing a memory game involving the Hebrew alphabet, and R was doing some online geography quizzes and practicing her touch-typing. It seemed pretty educational, so I let them be.

After lunch they started building a Fort. I capitalized it because there are “forts” and then there are “Forts.” This one is the latter. It takes up most of my living room and is a marvel of engineering and design. Each kid has their own little den with a separate entrance. Best of all, they built it so that I can still sit on the couch—so nice of them to remember (I’ve certainly complained about their couch-swallowing forts enough times.)

Fort construction took a couple of hours during which they had to forage for materials and make sure to share the structural elements equitably. I heard negotiation and problem-solving. Mr. December came up from his office, listened a while, and pronounced today to be the quintessential homeschooling day. Very few lessons, but lots of learning. I could get used to this.

education · family fun · Holidays Jewish and holidays not. · Homeschool · Jewy goodness · Keepin' it real · Kids · lists

Day 341: How is it Wednesday Already?

(Although R, standing behind me and reading over my shoulder, wants to know how it’s not Thursday yet. Obviously we experience time very differently.)

I feel like the week totally got away from me. I was chatting with Mum tonight about how I wanted to send my brother a package for Purim tomorrow “…so even if it takes two days it’ll get there by Friday… wait, what? Tomorrow is Thursday?”

Yesterday and today my lesson plans went mostly unappreciated, although the let’s-find-countries-on-the-world-map exercise was sorely needed. I’d say something like, “Korea. Anybody know where it is? … I guess not. It’s a little peninsula off the south-east corner of China.”

“Where’s China?” said one kid who shall remain nameless.

“Really? Where’s China?” I blinked a few times and schooled my features. “Does anybody know what continent China is on?”

Silence.

I know that my kids weren’t the most attentive at school, but shouldn’t they know where China is by the time fifth grade rolls around? Do schools not teach geography anymore?

No matter, we’ll cover it eventually.


Purim starts tomorrow night, so I’m working on mishloach manot (although we don’t deliver them until Friday.) I’m also trying to figure out how to make Friday feel fun and festive for the kids. Here are all my brainstorms so far:

  • Gameschooling day
  • Watch funny history videos
  • Mad Libs (they’re fun, and they get to practice parts of speech!)
  • Torah Mad Libs. (Although I don’t see how it could get much weirder than some of the stuff from the middle of Vayikra (Leviticus.)
  • Giant bowling: the kids have to hurl an exercise ball down the length of the attic and knock over life-size silhouettes of the six of us.
  • Dance party
  • More charades. They did beg for more at last week’s party, didn’t they?
  • Karaoke again. It never gets old.
  • Drive around delivering mishloach manot while blasting music with funny lyrics.
  • “Just Like Mom,” Purim edition: each kid has to make a few hamentaschen with stuff we have in the house, then Mr. December and I taste them and guess who made what.

(As an aside, I don’t even really like hamentaschen that much. But E says we must make at least a few, so I guess we will.)

That’s all I’ve got so far. Maybe I’ll give the list to K and let her run with it. She loves making things happen (although planning is another story.)


Oh yes, and an update on my dress: I’ve decided to keep it. I’ll take it in only slightly, after which I’ll put it on and strut around the house with my hands in the pockets for the next several weeks.

education · family fun · Fibro Flares · Homeschool · what's cookin'

Day 335: What passes for school these days

Yesterday morning Mr. December stepped back from teaching in order to focus on his corporate job, giving me the entire day to teach whatever I wanted to. I assigned some writing and then went to work with K on her viola. One thing led to the next, as you read yesterday, until all four kids and I were rehearsing a quintet of “Long Long Ago.”

After an hour of rehearsal, I declared it time to go outside. We had a layer of fresh snow and bright sunshine—a rare treat in February—so we spent almost an hour at the toboggan hill, descending into the inevitable snowball fight before coming home.

After lunch I herded the kids to the computer to watch videos about the Japanese artist Hokusai, and then downstairs to the Makery to try our hand at printmaking. We tried our best, but the results were not great. Still, the kids thought it was fun. Then suddenly it was 3:15 and my clock-watching students ran off to play Roblox with their friends.

I got going with our bread unit this morning. Every child now has a B.O.B. (Book of Bread) where they’ll record recipes, observations, and improvements for next time. We talked a bit about the science behind the perfect baguette, and the criteria of flavour, crumb, crust, and appearance. Then the kids learned all about bakers’ percentages… and had to calculate the percentages for our first recipe, which they did without complaint.

So often I feel like I spend a day teaching the kids and have almost nothing to show for it; tonight I had the great pleasure of seeing tangible results in two subjects. First, of course, was the bread. We evaluated and taste-tested (and polished off) our three baguettes. The kids took notes in their B.O.B.s, noting that the slashes weren’t deep enough, the crumb was random and light enough to see the light shining through our baguette (but it could still be better,) the crust needed to be crustier, and the flavour was excellent. We talked a bit about what we need to change for next time… but any fresh bread tastes amazing, no matter how amateurish.

Tonight I asked the kids if they wanted to perform a concert for Mr. December. The buy-in was unanimous. We spent almost an hour rehearsing in the library, and I saw some beautiful things happening, like K reassuring R and pulling her out for a private rehearsal when R wanted to quit.

N and I performed a viola and piano duet of Schumann’s The Happy Farmer. K and I performed a viola duet based on Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star. Then came the finale: a quintet of T.H. Bayly’s Long Long Ago, arranged for two violas, piano, guitar and Toot. Mr. December gave us a standing ovation (I don’t think our performance justified it, but the kids seemed to like it.) He also took pictures:

And now, after two days of activity, my body is sore and begging me for sleep. I regret nothing, though. We did no history, grammar, or literature, and minimal writing; somehow, there was plenty of learning anyway.

Darn Tootin' · education · family fun · Kids · Resorting to Violins

Day 334: Darn Tootin’

“Now that you’re six,” I told E, “it’s time for you to really learn an instrument. Is there something you’d really like to learn?”

“Drums!” she shouted.

“No way.” Mr. December and I said at the same time. “Pick something else.”

Here I’ll interrupt the narrative to explain that E started learning violin pretty much from birth. She had her own solid wood violin to hold and play while her siblings practiced. She was just starting to play a real violin—and to complain about practicing—when I got my concussion. We shelved violin lessons after that and picked them up again in September 2019. I don’t think I have to tell you why the lessons stopped in March 2020. Anyhow, E’s been dead set against violin lessons since then.

I play six instruments, three of them reasonably well (guess which ones!): Voice (my major through high school and university,) guitar, piano, viola, violin and flute. I know from personal experience that people can feel very drawn to one instrument and thoroughly hate playing another; I hated piano lessons for the ten years I took them, but was immediately drawn to the violin and viola, which I could practice all day if my hands didn’t protest. That’s why I decided to give E a choice of instruments instead of forcing her to continue with violin. And now, back to the story.

“Oh, I know!” her face lit up, “flute! I love flute! I play it at Savta’s pool!” (She was talking about those bath toys that you fill with water to change the pitch. In case you didn’t know, it doesn’t matter how much water you put in. Invariably a small child will blow as hard as possible, which will always result in a loud screeching sound.)

“Okay,” I said, “I’ll see what we can do about getting you started on flute.” At that, E went into raptures.

I found an instrument designed for small kids as an introductory flute. It’s called a Toot, and after reading all the reviews and advertising copy, I decided to buy it along with the introductory music book. E got to choose her colour (black with blue keys). She was thrilled.

The following week I said, “I can’t wait til your flute arrives!”

“I don’t wanna play flute!” E declared crossly. “I HATE THE FLUTE!”

This is where I started channeling my inner 1950’s parent: “You’re going to learn flute, and you’re going to learn to like it, because I already ordered it, and paid for it, and it’s on its way to our house!”


The flute arrived yesterday. The moment I placed the package in E’s hand, she was excited. We took out the Toot and I showed her how to hold it and how to play the first three notes. She got it very quickly and started reading the songs in the book (graphic notation, not the type of sheet music you might be picturing.)

“I love this! I’m so good at it! Listen, everybody!”

All I wanted was to spent ten or fifteen minutes with the instrument and then put it away for another day, but E insisted on practicing for another half hour. This morning when I sat at the table to drink my coffee, I could hear E’s practice wafting in from the library.

Later in the morning I was working with K on some viola duets when N wandered in. We invited him to accompany us with a simple drone on the piano. E was next through the door, and she was very excited to be able to join us on her Toot.

It’s early days yet, and I’m sure she’ll resist practicing as soon as it gets difficult, but this week I’m just going to bask in the excited glow of a six-year-old falling in love with her first flute.

education · Homeschool · snarky · well *I* think it's funny...

Day 333: Emails I Don’t Miss

I definitely don’t miss the plethora of emails we used to get from the kids’ schools… but I do miss the comic relief they provided. Here’s a look at some of the emails we haven’t received since our children left the school system.


Hello parents!
Just a quick reminder that tomorrow is school colours day!
(We told you about this special event three weeks ago by burying a one-sentence description somewhere in our weekly newsletter. You read those, don’t you?)
The students have been assigned one of our four school colours based on the first letter of their neighbour’s dog’s walker’s name. Students should come dressed in their assigned colour. Don’t worry if you don’t have the right colours for your child to wear—we’ll supply them with a cheap paper streamer to tie around their upper arm so that everyone knows what team they belong to… for about five minutes, until the streamer rips and falls off.
We can’t wait to share our photos of the day with you so you can see how uncoordinated most of the kids look when running the obstacle course. That ought to make you feel better about your own child’s athletic prowess (or lack thereof.)
The assigned colours are as follows:
A-F: Periwinkle
G-L: Turquoise
M-R: Ultramarine
S-Z: Sapphire
As always, thanks for supporting our zany endeavours to make the kids think school is as much fun as summer camp!


Dear parents,
Lice has been detected in your child’s grade. Due to confidentiality issues we can’t share the name of the affected family, but your children will undoubtedly tell you that it was Joey. Again. Please refrain from giving his parents the stink-eye in the parking lot.
We’d like to take this opportunity to recommend that you purchase either a fine-tooth comb and a Netflix subscription (all that combing takes a long time,) or else an annual membership package with Lice Squad or a similar lice-removal company.


Hi Mrs. December,
I just wanted to touch base with you because N hasn’t handed in any of his homework since September 15. I tried informing you through the “notes” section in his agenda book, which I’m sure he showed you even though that probably would have resulted in negative consequences for him. Since it is now February 15 and you have yet to respond to those notes, I thought it might be time to e-mail you instead.
Despite what the empirical evidence clearly indicates, worksheet-based homework is an essential element of any successful education. I’m sure that if you simply tell N you expect his homework to be done to a high standard we’ll see a complete turnaround in his work habits, so would you please talk to him?
Thanks for your support,
A. Teacher


This email is to notify you that your child has been late 18.0 times this month. As per section 42.b.(i) of the parent handbook, punctuality is of the utmost importance, as late arrivals disrupt the focus of the other children who are already well into their silent reading period, and of their teacher who is hurriedly trying to complete his lesson plans for the day.
Please remember that class starts at 8:30 a.m. Starting at 8:25 we will begin directing students to the office for late slips, since there is no way they’d be able to make it to class on time (what with having to wait in line for late slips and all.)
We appreciate your support in developing responsibility in our students, who of course are the ones in charge of the whole family’s timely egress from your house in the morning.


Hello Parents,
This email is a reminder that tomorrow is Standardized Test Day at school. Since our funding hinges on our students’ scores, we implore you to put your children to bed early tonight and to actually feed them a nutritious breakfast in the morning instead of throwing a Pop Tart at their head as they walk out the door.
We also ask that you remind your child that standardized tests only measure a small segment of their knowledge and skills. Children are so much more than their standardized test scores or report cards—they can also be used for unpaid manual labour! Students should never be distressed to the point of anxiety attacks about these tests. If they are experiencing severe anxiety, it’s probably because you’re an overbearing Tiger Mom.
We thank you for your support and look forward to our students showing us their superior test-taking skills what they know.
Sincerely,
Your Principal.


Dear Parent,
Your Grade Seven student has requested the privilege of reading books that are written for Grade Eight and up. In order to protect your child from any material you may deem inappropriate, we require your written permission for your child to read above their grade level.
Thank you for helping us give bland Young Adult novels the allure of banned books!
Literarily Yours,
The School Librarian


Dear Parents,
We are asking for donations of clean, single socks for our class fundraising project. Donations of spare buttons would also be appreciated. Please leave them at the front office, as your children cannot be trusted to not lose them between your car and the classroom door.
Thank you in advance,
The Grade Three teaching team.


Dear Parents,
This Wednesday, the Grade Three students will be selling sock puppets they’ve made to raise funds for a children’s charity. We know that you’ll want to support their charitable endeavour, so please have cash in hand when you arrive for pickup on Wednesday afternoon. Also, please be encouraging to the students who will approach you about buying their puppets—we’ve deliberately given this job to our quietest, shyest students to help them come out of their shell.
If you prefer not to support the third graders’ fundraising efforts, we urge you to re-examine your values and priorities. Only a terrible person would refuse to pay $5 for a sock with buttons sewn on.
All the best,
The Grade Three teaching team.


Dear Parents,
After receiving feedback that the school sends too many emails, we have decided to set up an electronic notification system where you can see all of your school notices on one inconvenient webpage. Within the next two weeks, all school communications will migrate to the new system, which you can then check on a daily basis so you don’t miss anything important. Below please find your new login information.

Website: http://www.DearParentsEMemo.edu/our_school_name/parentlogin/8233749
Your Personal Login: December_9344hq302zo864qt83pmdd87fu
Your High-Security Password: password123

We look forward to bombarding you with messages on this exciting new online platform!
See you in cyberspace!
Your Formerly-Luddite Principal


DIY · education · family fun · Homeschool · what's cookin'

Day 332: Carbivores

“Eema, can we make some wheat thins?”

“Sure. Google the recipe and get the ingredients together. Let me know if you need any help.”

It started out well. R measured all the ingredients, even doubling the recipe (adding fractions.) I showed her how to pulse the food processor and she set up the pasta roller. For a short time she was in charge of rolling the dough. And then, suddenly, she needed to go swing in the attic.

(Do everyone’s kids need a break every ten minutes? Or is it just mine?)

So there I was, with E’s assistance, rolling out a double batch of cracker dough, cutting it, salting it, turning the pans every four minutes. Where was R? Up in the attic, swinging.

We started this endeavour around 1:00. It’s now 3:00 and I just sat down after almost walking into a wall. The oven is off and the crackers are cooling. The kitchen is still a mess. I told R that she’s on cleanup duty; she shook her head and walked out of the kitchen. The joke’s on her, though. I’m going to go hide the crackers so she can’t find them.


I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time in the kitchen this weekend: yesterday N and I decided to try our hand at baking baguettes. We made two batches of dough and spent an hour at the dinner table discussing which one was better.

At one point I said something like, “This one had a very sticky dough, and the oven wasn’t quite as hot so we baked it longer.”

“We could try it again with a different recipe,” commented N. “It’s not as good as the stuff we get at Thobor’s [local French bakery], but I bet we could get close.”

That’s how I started thinking about the amount of math and chemistry involved in baking, not to mention the history of bread. We could do geography, too: different countries have different bread recipes, probably for a variety of cultural and geographic reasons. That would be neat to learn. Yummy, too.

Here’s my plan: I’ve downloaded and printed a whole bunch of articles about the science of baking baguettes, a glossary of bread terms, and some videos on the Maillard reaction. I’ve also got some information on how breads are classified and described. I think we’ll start with the latter: We’ll look at a few different types of bread and see if we can classify and describe them. Then we can decide what characteristics we want in our baguette. We’ll try recipes, maybe two in a day, and write down our description of the results. Then we’ll take a look at our outcome as compared to our goals, make adjustments, and bake again.

It’s easy to see how people slide down the slope to unschooling. What I’m describing doesn’t really sound like school. There’s no math lesson, history class, or writing assignment; still, I think the kids will learn a ton from this. And if they don’t… well, at least we’ll get a great baguette recipe out of it.

education · family fun · Kids

Day 333: What’s Really Inappropriate

We watched Monty Python’s Life of Brian with N and K yesterday. First, though, Mr. December asked me if it was okay for N to watch.

“I think so,” I reasoned, “he’s self-aware enough to know if he’s uncomfortable with it. If he is, we’ll switch it off.”

Mr. December considered this. “Okay. But what about that one scene…”

“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I said. “Let’s try it and see.”

We did, and they loved it.


After the movie I tried to figure out what Mr. December was concerned about.

There was a bit of salty language, although it’s nothing my kids haven’t heard before—we live in the city and they take public transit. You’re going to hear a few f-bombs occasionally; Even more so if you’re a passenger in my car during rush hour on the Don Valley Parking Lot. The Pythons used their swearing sparingly and to good effect.

There were two incidences of full-frontal nudity, which I really have no problem with. My kids know what naked bodies look like, and these situations weren’t sexual; the characters just hadn’t dressed for the day yet.

And then there was “that one scene” that Mr. December was worried about. In it, Pontius Pilate warns his centurions (as they giggle at his pronunciation of the letter “r”) that they’d better not laugh when his friend from Rome comes to town.

Who is this friend? Why, it’s Biggus Dickus, of course. And the centurions and guards all laugh, of course. Pilate demands to know what the big joke is; what could possibly be funny about the name Biggus Dickus? This gag goes on for several minutes in the exact same vein.

When Mr. December said, “That was the scene I was worried about,” My immediate response was, “Why?”

I still don’t get it. That scene might be the most age-appropriate scene in the whole movie for a ten-year-old boy’s sense of humour. It’s really just a bunch of grown men giggling because someone said a “naughty” word; isn’t that what kids do? Not to mention that said “naughty” word is probably the mildest slang term possible for the male genitalia. I’m pretty sure it didn’t sully my kids’ virgin ears.

But while we’re going there, I just can’t countenance teaching my kids that anatomical terms are somehow inappropriate. Sure, there are situations in which they might not be an appropriate topic of conversation altogether, but otherwise they’re scientific terms. If anything, I’d rather my kids use the correct word instead of slang: pen*s instead of d*ck, if you please.

(I used those asterisks instead of correct spelling because I really don’t need to be picked up by any AI censors for this rant.)

The only really inappropriate thing in that movie, in my view, is the way they poke fun at people with speech impediments: Pontius Pilate’s mispronunciation of “r”, yes, but also a jail guard’s terrible stutter and Biggus Dickus’s lisp (unfortunate impediment for a guy who has two names ending in “s”.) It’s the year 2021 and it’s not appropriate to make fun of people with disabilities. That was the conversation I needed to have with my kids. Biggus Dickus is just a juvenile—albeit fun—distraction.

Image result for biggus dickus
education · Homeschool

Day 331: A Literary Essay and Other Delights

Today I taught K and N how to write a very simple, superficial literary essay. I have no idea if it’s appropriate to their grade levels, and frankly I don’t care: I think they’re both capable of grasping the format.

We worked with a book they’re both very familiar with: The Secret Garden. They’ve heard the Broadway musical of it at least a hundred times and we just finished a read-aloud of the book. They know the plot forward, backward, and sideways. They love it, too, which actually caused a bit of a problem:

“Please don’t make us write about it! I love this book and now you’re about to RUIN it for me!!!!” K implored.

“If you really love it, the love will recover with time,” I said drily. “Now, let’s talk about themes.”

I drew a mind map as we talked, first identifying themes, then examples, then details and proof. They were reluctant to participate at first, but the story is so familiar that after a few minutes they just blurted things out—which was exactly what I was hoping for.

Here was our mind map:

Then we took the mind map over to the computer and wrote an essay collaboratively. In case you’re wondering what that looked like, here’s an example:

ME: Somebody give me a sentence that tells the reader what we want to say in this essay.
K: The Secret Garden is about change.
N: No, not change. Transformation is a better word!
ME: Okay, we also need to say what examples we’re going to bring up. Somebody check our mind map and make up a sentence about that.
K: How about, Three examples of transformation are Mary, Colin, and the garden.
ME: Not bad.
N: Garden needs an adjective. It sounds too boring.
K: …
N: …
ME: Do you guys know the word “eponymous?” It means “the one from the title.”
N: Yeah! Yeah! Use That! “The eponymous garden!”
ME: Okay, we have an introductory paragraph. Now somebody decide which example we’re talking about, and give me a sentence to introduce it.
… and so on.


The Secret Garden is, at its heart, a book about transformation. Three examples of transformation are Colin, Mary, and the eponymous garden. 

One example of transformation is Colin. Colin transforms from being a spoiled brat to a slightly less spoiled brat. Colin also goes from being a very sick, bedridden child to a boy who can stand and walk. His outlook undergoes the most striking transformation of all, from his declaration that “I shan’t live.” (p. 32) to “I am going to live forever and ever!” (p. 297) 

Another fascinating example of transformation is Mary. At the beginning, Mary is described as “…the most disagreeable-looking child ever seen.” (p.3) By the end of the book, Mrs. Medlock says of Mary, “She’s begun to be downright pretty since she’s filled out and lost her ugly little sour look.” (p.272) 

Of course, the garden itself is transformed over the course of the book. It changes from a secret, dead garden to a beautiful, live garden. 

In conclusion, the central theme of transformation in The Secret Garden is shown through the development of characters, like Mary and Colin, and the setting—the garden itself. 


It’s pretty basic, but the kids have now been part of the essay writing process from start to finish. I was also pleasantly surprised by how excited they were to replace simple words with multisyllabic ones. I think that trait is probably genetic.

crafty · education · family fun · Homeschool

Day 323: Monet isn’t everything…

Sorry. I couldn’t resist the awful pun.

We haven’t done art class in a couple of weeks. I’d forgotten how much fun it is. First we learned a bit about Monet and the impressionists, and then we went down to the makery to try our hand at some impressionistic oil painting.

It was my first time using oils. They feel great to paint with—creamy and smooth. I chose to paint a landscape that was more Group of Seven than Salon des Refusés. As usual, I probably enjoyed the work more than the kids did.

I also washed more paintbrushes than the kids did, which made me think that a scientific investigation into the properties and uses of dish soap would be a great idea. From making giant bubble solution to stripping cloth diapers to washing oil paints out of brushes, is there anything dish soap can’t do?

I wish I had something witty to say today, but it was a very full day with little to no downtime, and I’m beat. We explored a new-to-us park today and between walking on uneven snow and along with the lack of sleep last night (I was awakened by certain children who will remain nameless,) it’s left me with sore legs. I’m off to bed; I’ll just leave you with this photo of my very first oil painting.

education · family fun · Homeschool · Keepin' it real · Kids · Resorting to Violins

Day 322: And that’s all the time we have for today…

K put off her viola practice until late this evening. Then she spent a lot of time huffing, whining, and saying “I can’t.”

Normally I’d try to talk her through it, on the theory that I can help her learn how to reframe her frustration. Tonight I did a bit of that, but then I looked at my phone’s clock: 8:22, eight minutes to E’s bedtime.

(Yes, I know that’s a tad late for a six-year-old. Believe me, when K was that age she went to bed at seven thirty every night and we had a few hours of child-free time at the end of the day. But with older siblings, that’s just not happening for E.)

Where was I? Oh, yeah. Almost E’s bedtime, and we hadn’t even had the bubble tea I promised for bedtime snack. Frustrated at having spent 20 minutes with K and her having played maybe two notes in all that time, I decided that I was done coddling her.

“Listen,” I said, “I don’t have any more time for this—I have to give the others their bubble tea. You can keep practicing by yourself and then later I’ll come listen to what you’ve done… or don’t. Your choice.”

“Don’t?” She echoed, “Is not doing it even a choice? Can I just not do it?”

I nodded. “Sure. If you want to not do it, just hand over your phone tonight before bed. You’ll get it back the day after tomorrow.”

K grumbled. I left the room.

The kids begged me to read to them while they drank their bubble tea. I did. But the story was very long, and it was way past bedtime at this point. When I asked N to see what time it was he said, “Uh, it’s 8:40.” He’s not a very good liar when it comes to realizing that there’s actual evidence to the contrary.

“Sorry guys, it’s almost nine. We’re out of time for tonight. We’ll stop here and pick it up again tomorrow.”

“NOOOOOOOOO!!! NONONONO!!!! NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!” The four of them howled in concert.

“Can’t you please keep going? We all want you to!”

“Nope. I’m sorry. Sleep is important.”

“BOOOOO!!!!”

I kind of enjoyed the howling, actually. My kids were complaining because I refused to finish the Greek myth we were reading. It’s not that I’m a magical unicorn who makes children want to learn stuff, it’s that Rick Riordan is laugh-out-loud funny. But their eagerness to learn from his book tickles me anyway.

I tucked in N, R, and E, vaguely aware of the sounds of a viola wafting up from the library. When I (finally) finished with the tuck-ins I went back downstairs and checked on K.

“Want to show me what you’ve been working on?” I asked.

She did—and she had made some small but noticeable progress on her own. This time when I offered some instruction she accepted it eagerly; she learned a few more bars of the song she was playing and practiced them until she had the correct notes and bowings. By the end, she was feeling pretty good about the work she’d done.

So twice today I had to stop things because I’d run out of time. In the case of K’s viola practice, it was the kick in the butt she needed to actually sit down and do some work on her own. In the case of the book, the kids went to sleep just dying to know what happened on Psyche’s quest to the underworld. Maybe I should run out of time more often.

Speaking of which, it’s 10:19 and Mr. December just asked, “How did it get so late?”

Isn’t the answer obvious? We’ve run out of time.