family fun · Keepin' it real · Kids · waxing philosophical · whine and cheese

Day 181: The summer break of our discontent

You know how they say that planning a vacation is more enjoyable than actually taking that vacation? They’re right. Although that could just be because this vacation kind of sucks.

There. I said it.

True, we’ve had a couple of great day trips. And there was a day, maybe a day and a half, where the weather was warm and swimming was fun. But it feels like a lot of our time here is spent moping around the place doing nothing. This is not how I pictured a month at the cottage.

I was probably operating on the assumption that the kids would want to play in the sand at the water’s edge, that the water would be a comfortable temperature for swimming, and that we’d spend the days on the dock, reading our books in the sun. I imagined giving my kids a few small lessons on paddling technique and then exploring the shoreline. I certainly didn’t expect how windy it would be here; and Mr. December and I both seem to have forgotten that “high of 23” doesn’t mean it’s 23 degrees all day long, but that it will hit 23 degrees sometime between 1 and 2 p.m., and otherwise it’ll be more like 17.

I’m trying to be phlegmatic about the whole thing: some days are good, others are less so. I often tell the kids that boredom is good for them: maybe it will be. I’m trying to figure out things to do that will make our time up here feel worthwhile. But Mr. December goes back to work (online, remotely) tomorrow and his one week of vacation has been rife with whining, complaining, and sneezing (did I mention that I forgot to ask the owners whether their cottage was pet-free? It wasn’t, three of us have allergies, and I spent much of last week vacuuming everything I could.) I feel vaguely guilty about that.

Mr. December has always been keener than I on the idea of planning and scheduling our free time. It’s something I generally do under duress — it does not come naturally to me to make a timetable of how we’re spending every hour of our weekend, and yet I made the effort to do it every week until COVID hit. Let me be clearer: planning our free time goes against my grain and rubs me entirely the wrong way… and yet I try to do it.

The notion that we couldn’t manage to entertain ourselves at a house on a lake, with a dock and watercraft and a fire pit, seemed absurd to me two weeks ago. Now I know better. R has started asking to go home. We’ve said no, because Rosh Hashana is next weekend and we want the kids to be with us. But every time she asks I’m tempted to say, “Only if I can go too.” If it weren’t for the fact that the rest of our stay here is non-refundable, I’d probably start packing up to leave.

Of course, it might be sunny and bright tomorrow and I’ll be back to rhapsodizing about the magic of getting kids out in nature. We’ll just have to wait and see.

blogging · family fun · Homeschool · Keepin' it real · Kids

Day 177: Well, *I* had fun…

It was cold here today — 15 degrees celsius cold — so of course we stayed inside for much of the day. By eleven a.m., I was itching to do something other than sitting around in the cottage reading. I proposed a paddling excursion, which K and N both initially declined and R and E enthusiastically accepted. I decided not to let N beg off, so I offered him a deal: paddle now or paddle later. He chose now.

We bundled up on top: sweatshirts and rain jackets under our live vests. On the bottom half we wore shorts. I have to say, I was quite comfortable. R and N complained of the cold, and that was only the beginning of their complaints.

About 30 metres from the dock, R said her hands were hurting. I corrected her grip on the paddle, gave her some pointers, and encouraged her to keep going. We had a destination in mind: what I call the “tree graveyard,” a small inlet where there are tree trunks and stumps under the water. It’s beautiful and R wanted to see it, but she was stopping every couple of minutes to massage her hands. N complained that we were moving too slowly, and when I finally got us going more quickly, he turned his kayak to face away from us and stopped paddling. He did that repeatedly over the hour that we were on the water.

A photo taken on a slightly less grey day.

It wasn’t all complaints. R, N, and E all like to sing, which is a great way to keep paddling in rhythm, so we sang some rounds: the obvious “My Paddle Keen and Bright” first, and then a couple of songs we learned in choir at violin camp in summers past. For about fifteen minutes we were singing:

Black socks, they never get dirty
The longer you wear them, the blacker they get.
Sometimes I think I should launder them,
Something inside me says “don’t wash them yet!”
Not yet, not yet, not yet, not yet…

Mr. December and K caught up with us in the canoe. By this point R couldn’t paddle at all anymore, so we tied a rope to the front of her kayak and the back of mine. I towed her the rest of the way. Heading back from the tree graveyard N was mulishly stopping, covering his face with his hood, and refusing to respond when I spoke to him; I ended up towing him, too. It was a great workout.

Back at the shore, R did her best (which wasn’t very good) to pull her kayak up onto the sand. N didn’t even bother. He threw down his paddle, left his kayak floating between the rocks, and ran up to the cottage. I was not impressed. Later I learned that he was cold, tired, and frustrated; he hated the entire expedition. Not that it excused his behaviour, but at least I understand… sort of.

In a bid to do something special in the afternoon I baked banana bread (nobody was going to eat those spotted bananas anyway) and made some blueberry tea, then invited everyone to the table for poetry teatime. I expected some resistance but shouldn’t have; there was fresh banana bread on the line. Everyone else ate and drank while I read one Shel Silverstein poem after another, chosen by each child in turn.

Apparently I’m good at reading aloud, because I was then persuaded to read a few entries from The Weighty Word Book before I got up to prepare dinner (E and I are on K.P. today.) And then I made my escape, finally, out to the deck where I’m looking at the mist over the lake and typing this blog post to the sounds of raindrops and honking geese. The spitting rain doesn’t bother me, but my computer might not agree; I suppose it’s time to go inside and be a parent again.

education · family fun · Keepin' it real · Kids · parenting · waxing philosophical

Day 175: So long, Sluggy. We hardly knew ye.

For those of you who were wondering: N did a great job on breakfast and lunch yesterday. Dinner, however, was another story. He flat-out refused to do his job, choosing instead to run into his bedroom and hide under his blanket. No amount of pep talk, stern lecturing, or cajoling could get him to come out. Eventually E and I took over N’s job and got dinner on the table in about ten minutes.

When they were all sitting around the table, I opened up the discussion: “What do you guys think is a fair consequence for someone not doing their kitchen job?” When that failed to elicit thoughtful responses I changed tack: “Can someone tell me what harm is done when someone doesn’t do their job?” Eventually we all agreed that shirking one’s duty is annoying and disrespectful to everyone else, and that the penalty should be no swimming or boating for the entire next day.

Kids are creative, though, so today K found a way around having to do all the work herself. She “traded” with me, Mr. December, and R: she’d cook one meal on each of our days in exchange for us cleaning up for her today. Even with that concession, she managed to find things to be grumpy about; and when K ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.

Today was a weird day. It was very windy and overcast and the water was rough. Thunderstorms had been forecast for today, so as soon as the rain started falling I pulled the girls out of the lake. We spent most of the day inside watching “How It’s Made” videos, reading, and snacking out of boredom. We started to watch a movie and then stopped when nobody liked it. K’s moodiness just added furstration to our boredom, and we were all on edge.

After dinner I went down to the fire pit to start a campfire, but the kindling was all wet and nothing would catch. Some lighter fluid, a lot of fanning, and one hour later we finally had a roaring fire. I pulled out the guitar and started to sing. The first few songs were fine, but R was still off in a corner reading her book and K was still being a bit obnoxious. Then Mr. December requested the “Corner Grocery Store” song, and our day did a 180-degree turn.

The kids went from “I’m-just-here-for-the-marshmallows-and-I-don’t-want-to-be-nice-to-anyone” to “pleeeeease sing that again!” I sang verses based on their suggestions, rhyming “mango” with “fandango” (because the mango is tired of dancing the tango); we sang about marshmallows hugging all their fellows; and how the trees ate up the cheese, which was crawling on its knees. By the time the song was over, everyone was giggling and singing along.

As we moved on to other songs, K turned over a rock and found a slug. She showed the rest of us and E immediately ran to get her tweezers, bug net, and petri dish so we could examine it up close. The kids clamoured to hold the dish and look at “Sluggy” while E insisted that we take him back to the house so we could find him in her bug book (for the record, he was a banana slug.) The kids then sprinkled Sluggy with salt and took pictures with him before unceremoniously flinging his remains back into the woods.

That’s how our day ended: with songs, giggling, sibling cooperation, and a well-salted slug; and to think that only a few short hours ago I had thought the only good thing about this day was that it would eventually end. As Mr. December pointed out, you never really know what will grab the kids’ interest and get them all excited and working together. I guess the important thing is to notice and enjoy it when they do.

education · family fun · Independence · Keepin' it real · Kids · parenting · well *I* think it's funny... · what's cookin'

Day 174: KP

After our frustration with our children’s unwillingness to be helpful here, Mr. December and I decided to implement a better system than the one we have at home. No arguing about which chore belongs to whom: one person is on KP (Kitchen Patrol) for an entire day, and is responsible for preparing, serving, and cleaning up breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Halfway through day one of this new system, it’s working well in that I haven’t had to do much. N took his turn today because the menu consisted mostly of things he already knows how to make: oatmeal for breakfast, grilled cheese and tomato soup for lunch, and chicken fajitas — which he doesn’t know how to make but is about to learn — for dinner.

Since it’s his first full day on KP, N has a few things to learn: you have to start cooking a meal for six people at least half an hour before you want to serve it; you have to unload the clean dishwasher before you can load the dirty dishes; and you have to set up and clean up while everyone else is out having fun. He tried griping about that last one, but I looked at him and deadpanned: “I have no idea what that must feel like.”


We brought a lot of food up with us. Mr. December has remarked several times that we have way too much and won’t finish it before the end of the month. He clearly doesn’t cook for the family very often; if he did, he’d know that it takes a whole loaf of sliced bread and two packages of cheese to make grilled cheese for the family. We brought six dozen eggs, which he thought was ridiculous. I broke it down like this: a dozen eggs is a single breakfast for the family (along with a whole loaf of bread for toast), or two batches of challah dough (we’re here for four shabbat dinners as well as Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, which means we could probably get by on three batches of dough.) I know there are people who buy those little half-dozen cartons of eggs, but we’re not them.

“Okay!” He says, with his hands up in a gesture of innocence, “But look how many different kinds of bread there are! There’s so much of it!” And then I tick them off on my hands: pita, one dinner (with falafel and salads); naan, two bags will take us through two dinners of tandoori chicken; those six bags of flour tortillas will go quickly when we use them for PB&B wraps, quesadillas, and fajitas. I give it two weeks before we’re down to our last bag of bread.


K has just come outside. “I’m hungry,” she announces to me.

I check the time. “Well, we can tell N that it’s time to start getting dinner ready.”

“But I’m hungry now!” she whines, “and I can’t go in the hot tub as a distraction because the water is a weird colour because you guys didn’t add chemicals to it last night. Can you do something about one of those problems?”

I sure can, I think. Tomorrow I’m instituting a new daily job: Hot Tub Attendant. And since K seems to know what’s needed, I’m nominating her.

blogging · family fun · Keepin' it real · parenting · whine and cheese

Day 173: Moonrise

I’ve never watched the moon rise before, but here I am: sitting on the deck with the moon, big and orange, in the distance and reflected in the lake. A mere few feet away K is soaking in the hot tub with the coloured light feature on. If you don’t count the music wafting over from a few cottages down or the rumble of the hot tub jets, it’s very peaceful.

Finally.

Mr. December and I were a bit frustrated by the time evening rolled around. The kids had been pretty unhelpful yesterday and today, and we were both tired of whining and complaining. Mr. December gave the kids the responsibility of building the campfire, hoping that the promise of s’mores would encourage them to do it quickly and well.

It didn’t.

Mr. December and I sat there, biting our tongues and (mostly) sitting on our hands, while the kids tried lighting the same pile of sticks over and over again.

“Maybe you should rebuild it,” I offered.

“You need more dry stuff that will catch right away,” Mr. December pointed out. “Everybody go look for some.” Ellie walked around and found plenty of twigs. The other three did nothing. Eventually Mr. December rummaged around in the cottage and came up with a bottle of gel fuel for fondue pots. It worked like a charm, and our fire burned big and bright.

We saw fireworks, and then realized how many stars we could see, so we went down to the dock to watch. By this point it was well past bedtime, and the kids were feeling silly. Unfortunately, silly also means loud.

“Everybody, try to be quiet and look for a constellation you know,” I instructed.

“I don’t know any constellations!” R shouted.

“Then make them up!” I snapped. “Look, there’s Billy the cowboy, and there’s Paco, the… other cowboy. And there’s one-dimensional Pete.”

Still, they were hung up on the “real” constellations.

“Eema, where is the Big Dipper?”

“Where’s the North Star?”

“Where’s Cassiopea?”

“Where’s Orion?”

“WHERE’S THE MUTE BUTTON?!?!!?” I snapped. I’m not at my best with kids who are out-of-control silly.

We only lasted a few minutes longer, and then I ushered them all inside. K pulled me aside and begged me to let her sit in the hot tub. Since I still had to write this post, I agreed. Now she’s getting out, the moon has risen, and the post is as written as it’s going to get. Good night, everyone.

family fun · Keepin' it real · Kids · lists · well *I* think it's funny...

Day 170: Two More Sleeps

I’m not sure, but I might be drowning in lists.

There’s the meal plan and grocery list, with which I sat down and ordered all the non-perishables and a week’s worth of the perishables we’ll need. I’m baffled by the fact that the website didn’t have baskets of Ontario peaches (only the most delectable in-season fruit that exists.) I may have to just dash into a Sobey’s to get some.

I’ve got separate lists of things we’ll need for the High Holidays; materials for experiments and activities; books of experiments and activities; books for reading; board games; and art supplies.

Then there’s the clothing list, which I printed out six times to be used as a checklist by each member of the family. N seems to think that instead of a checklist, it’s a “scratch it out with bold pencil strokes so you can’t see what it said in the first place” list.

I repacked our first aid kit and confirmed that we have everything on our first aid inventory list, as well as the list of medications we take along. I’m practically a walking pharmacy (and is it weird that in addition to a thermometer, I’m taking a pulse oximeter, a peak flow meter, and a stethescope? For those of you just joining us here, I’m not a physician or a nurse, just a mom with an MD from Google University.)

I’m constantly checking in on my lists on Trello to make sure that I haven’t missed any important to-do items. Still firmly in the “not even started yet” column are: respond to the plans the landscaper sent us, test the new alarm system, choose our day trips, and make sure everyone has the necessary clothes and shoes. (Maybe I should have taken care of that last one before our last day at home.)

And then there’s my favourite: the list of lists and boxes. This is the checklist we run through before we get into the car to leave. First we check that all the other checklists are complete. Then we check off each crate, bin, box, or case that we’ve packed into the car. I love the list of lists for a couple of reasons: first, it’s the end of lists for the trip, and second, it’s the list that makes me feel uber-organized, super-prepared, and very, very smug.

That smugness will last right up until I realize that there was no checklist of children who should be in the car. I’ll do a panicked head count and then a roll call, and double-check with Mr. December that we only have four children and there isn’t a fifth back at the house about to enact Home Alone.

And then… vacation. I can’t wait. Just two more sleeps.

family fun · Homeschool · Keepin' it real · Kids · parenting · waxing philosophical

Day 167: Forest Children

There is way too much Roblox being played in my house. Granted, it’s a way for the kids to play with their friends, which is why I haven’t been too strict about the screen time, but it’s still way too much time sitting in front of a screen. As I’ve told my kids many times, that’s what wintertime is for. Right now the weather is perfect and it would be a shame if we missed out on it because of a computer game, which is why I announced this morning that we were going to explore the forest in a nearby ravine.

I was a bit surprised at how quickly the kids jumped up and ran to join me. They knew these woods, because last fall they attended an afterschool outdoor school in that park, and they were eager to show me all sorts of hidden places that they had discovered with their groups. They took turns leading me all over the park, down the steep bank to the creek, across the stones, and to the “sumac path” to pick sumac (which is apparently not ripe yet.)

E, who complained that she was tired when we walked along the paved ravine path, suddenly sprinted ahead to climb and jump as soon as we stepped onto a forest trail. I watched in awe as the kids — even N, who is often the least active of my crew — climbed, balanced, hopped, and ran in ways they wouldn’t in a playground. During our ninety minutes in the forest, I came to realize a few things:

First, the phrase “familiarity breeds acceptance” is worth bearing in mind when planning activities with children. They weren’t especially eager to attend the outdoor school lat fall, but it grew on them — and so did the ravine. Today’s enthusiasm was, at least partly, because we weren’t going to just any forest, but to their forest. I’m not sure that an unfamiliar park would have been met with the same excitement.

Second, that the children love a physical challenge. To their minds, it’s always better to go the most difficult way: over the rocks instead of around them, or along a fallen log instead of on the path. While there are playgrounds for swinging and climbing, they can’t possibly match the forest for variety, difficulty, and unpredictability.

The third thing I realized was that becoming the kind of person I want to be is as easy, and as hard, as just doing what that kind of person would do. I wanted to be the kind of family who biked together for transportation; we became one when I biked the kids to school for the first time. I got to call myself a homeschooler (something I have long wanted to be) the moment I withdrew my kids from school and started educating them at home. Today I can say that I’m a parent who takes her kids to play in the woods — because I’ve gone and done it.

I don’t believe in any way that today’s romp in the forest will lead to spontaneous outdoor play and a decrease in screen time. Tomorrow the kids will be back at the computer, whining, “But I should still have time!” and I’ll go back to spouting such wisdom as, “You should have logged off when the computer gave you the two-minute shutdown warning.” At least now I can console myself with the knowledge that my kids enjoy navigating the terrain of our local woodland… if they have no screen time left. It’s a start, though. I’ll take it.

bikes planes and automobiles · birthing babies · Keepin' it real · parenting · waxing philosophical · weight loss

Day 161: Living (Extra) Large

I’m typing this while sitting at my new desk. In about thirty minutes of ignoring my kids I was able to cut, glue, and install the slide-out tabletop which will house my keyboard, mouse, and laptop. My large monitor sits on top. This is a very comfortable setup, not least of all because I’m sitting in a chair that lets my feet sit flat on the floor while my back is supported by the chair back, my keyboard is at an appropriate height, and my monitor is at eye level.

Translation: my new desk is low, but it’s exactly the right height for me. It’s been a long time since I was this comfortable at a workstation. I’m forty years old and I deserve to be comfortable, dangit! And I’m not just talking about my desk.

I have gained fifteen pounds since the COVID shutdown. In the year prior to that, I gained fifteen when I was sidelined for months by a concussion. Both of these gains felt like huge setbacks because two years before the concussion, I managed to lose 45 pounds that really needed to be lost. I was mostly keeping it off, too. But then concussion happened, and COVID came, and here I am spilling out of my clothes.

I’ll pause here to tell you that I really hate the value judgments that come with weight gain and loss. I’ve never had as much positive attention as when I’d dropped those 45 pounds. I’ve run a half-triathlon, written and recorded a solo CD, won scholarships and academic medals, and built an awesome house. In short, I’ve done a whole ton of fabulous things. Why do I get the most praise and interest for losing weight?

All my life I’ve been hearing that weight loss is good and weight gain is bad. That thin is good and fat is bad. When I was thirteen my ballet teacher told me I should lose ten pounds if I wanted to continue dancing. I wasn’t thin, but I sure as heck wasn’t fat. I never went back to ballet.

Our colloquialisms betray those values. Phrases like “fat slob” and “fat and lazy” are rarer now than when I was a kid, but still not rare enough. People come away from performances saying things like, “He’s fat, but boy, is he an amazing dancer.” Why “but?” I love to bike, dance, and paddle. I’ve done these things when I was fat, thin, in between, and nine months pregnant. My skill level has not fluctuated with my weight; indeed, I was able to bike a farther distance with a much heavier load back when I was wearing the largest sized clothes my closet has ever housed.

Ah, larger clothes. I wish I had some. Sadly, I mostly bought into the philosophy that if you get rid of all your “fat” clothes, you’ll maintain your lower weight because you’ll want to fit into the clothes you have. So now I’m relying on stretchy capris and roomy t-shirts (some of them pilfered from Mr. December, without his knowledge — sorry, honey!), and some empire-waist dresses. Last year my summer clothes were snug but wearable. This year if I do up the button on my jean shorts, I have a muffin top to rival all others and I can’t breathe deeply. So I spend many of my days slightly very uncomfortable in the clothes I’m wearing, because maybe by making myself feel terrible in them I’ll get motivated to lose some weight. It’s ridiculous.

For the record, I don’t hate my body. It’s carried me this far, dancing, biking, walking, running, building, and birthing babies. Right now it’s doing what it’s supposed to do, saving up energy just in case there’s a famine on the way. As Eric Cartman said on South Park, “I’m not fat, I’m famine resistant!” Yes, I’m less comfortable with the extra padding around my torso, and yes, I’d like to be slimmer, but the extra weight doesn’t make me less beautiful, just less svelte.

I’ve decided that this is where I’m drawing the line. I’m going to buy myself clothes that fit me right now, not “aspirational” sized clothes, even though I don’t plan to stay at this size for too much longer. I’m going to be able to sit, walk, eat, and move without discomfort. I need to start choosing and using things — furniture, clothes, tools and equipment — that fit my body, rather than trying (and failing) to make my body fit those things and hurting myself in the process.

I need to show my daughters that the value of our bodies lies in our strength, resilience, endurance, and agility — not in our body fat percentage. And if I want my daughters to believe that, I’d better start acting as if I do too. Right now I believe it intellectually, but emotionally I’m not quite there. So I’m starting with clothes that fit me.

If anybody needs me, I’ll be in my room…y new pants.

DIY · fame and shame · Just the two of us · Keepin' it real · well *I* think it's funny...

Day 154: We Broke the Bed.

This morning when I woke up, I rolled towards Mr. December. That’s not odd in and of itself, but I hadn’t intended to roll that way — there was a huge depression in our mattress. When we finally made it out of the mattress (gravity is not your friend when you’re in a valley, it seems) we took it off the bed and saw this:

Looks like we broke the bed.

(Cue raunchy jokes here. Go ahead, I’ll wait.)

It absolutely should not have broken. We bought it new less than two years ago and have only ever used it for its intended purposes. On closer examination, however, I noticed that IKEA saved money by using finger-jointed pine slats instead of solid wood. Sure enough, the boards were broken neatly right at the finger joints. Not smart, IKEA. Not smart.

I tried to leave a review on their website to alert IKEA to this problem, but one technical glitch after another meant that their website categorically refused to accept my review. I wonder if that’s a bug, or a feature?

Anyhow, we clearly had to fix it today… which was fun, actually, because fixing it meant buying new boards, which meant going to Lowe’s, which is my happy place. And I biked, which is my favourite form of transportation. I hopped on the bakfiets with E, who wanted to come along for the ride, and we headed out along the trail (there’s a trail that starts a few blocks away and goes straight to Lowe’s without crossing any major streets.)

I can’t believe I didn’t take a picture of the lumber and E sharing space in the bike. But I did snap this quick and blurry photo of her riding on the cart at Lowe’s, after we had the boards cut. She was very helpful, actually — if she wants an apprenticeship, she’s hired.

Back at home, it was a pretty quick fix. I removed the old slats (keeping two of them, one for each end) and laid the new, wide, solid wood ones on the rails. To keep them in place and distribute the force more evenly I created floating joists by screwing the boards to a 2×2 that ran up the length of the bed. I left the ends of the floating joist a bit long, so that they slipped under the bed frame, and added an extra floating joist around the middle of the bed (a.k.a. the “bouncy zone”) for extra strength.

Here are a few closeups of the newly repaired mattress support:

I think this repair is solid enough to withstand any and all “intended uses.” And now that my bed is ready for me, I’m going to get reacquainted with it. Good night!

blogging · DIY · Fibro Flares · Homeschool · Keepin' it real

Day 151: Thanks, Fibro Fairies!

I woke up very late this morning. Mr. December and R took one look at me and said, “You look really tired. You don’t have to get up yet.”

Good, because I wasn’t going to. Because I couldn’t. The Fibro Fairies had showed up in the night and dressed me in a lead suit. Again.

That’s how it feels, anyway. Every physical action is an extreme effort. When I sit, my arms flop uselessly at my sides. My fingers feel too clumsy to braid the girls’ hair. I’ve stayed on one floor of the house all day long because going up one flight of stairs made my quads burn like I’d been doing hundreds of lunges. My coffee cup seems to have been swapped out for a weighted one (thanks, Fibro Fairies.) You know it’s bad when I can’t justify the effort it would take to get food to my mouth.

Inside my brain, everything feels fogged up or bogged down. My cerebrospinal fluid is competing with Jell-o for the viscosity award. I open my mouth to speak and the words come out at half their normal speed. I’m speaking so slowly that the words don’t seem to have hung onto each other, and so halfway through a sentence I just… kind of… forget what I was… um…

Ummm.

I’ve been wondering how successfully I could homeschool through a fibro flare. Thanks to Mr. December’s insistence on what he calls “scalability” and what I call “learn it your own damn self”, the kids went through their math and writing books with minimal resistance (I told N to go through the rest of his book, find one unit he felt he could do, and do that one.) Then I set up the Kobo on my lap (it has a neat cover that turns into a great little stand) and read to them from Ragtime, which I think counts as learning history.

(By the way, many parts of Ragtime are highly inappropriate for kids. I edit on the fly, skipping all the explicit sex stuff.)

True, they played more computer games today than I would have liked, but they completed their work in the core subjects and did a bit of extra learning in history. Then a Kiwi Crate arrived (just in time!) and E built a little wooden disc launcher. While it’s true that she asked me to help, I mostly just pointed to the diagrams alongside the instructions and she built it herself.

If I really wanted to keep them doing something educational, I could have put on some history videos or an episode of Cosmos or something. Wasn’t that what our teachers did at school when they needed a break? I don’t know about you, but I watched a bunch of movies in elementary school, plus multiple episodes of Degrassi Junior High.

All of that to say that I’m not at my best today. I’m not even going back through to edit this post. I’m just going to leave this here and stagger back to my hammock (did I mention that I love the hammock? I can just tuck my phone, kobo, and water bottle in right next to me and it stays within reach.) Shabbat Shalom, and to all a good night.