Darn Tootin' · Homeschool · Keepin' it real · Kids · Resorting to Violins

Day 440: 440

Ah, 440.

More accurately, A440. It’s the pitch to which orchestral instruments are tuned—unless you’re one of those weird European orchestras that prefers A438. You’d think a difference of two Hertz wouldn’t make much of a difference, but apparently it causes some consternation for trans-atlantic orchestral collaboration.

Closer to home, we’re working on our latest musical collaboration—the arrangement of Ode to Joy that I was working on back in April. We’ve gotten to the point where fifty percent of us know our parts quite well, roughly 16 percent are just sight-reading their way through it, and the remaining thirty-one percent aren’t really comfortable with their parts yet.

I started working with everyone on their parts in late April. E took to it immediately and was playing all 32 bars of her part within the week. N took a bit longer, rhythmically-challenged as he sometimes is, but he gradually got up to speed. R is still working on her chord changes; to be fair, she is learning a new instrument, whereas N has been learning piano for four years.

And K… well, we had some…unpleasantness…early on. I had written the viola part to be a bit more interesting than just a string of quarter notes; she objected strenuously. The first roadblock was the dotted quarter note at the end of the fourth bar. She didn’t get it. I explained. Then she explained to me why it was a stupid way to notate a beat and a half. Volubly, and at length. Then she refused to practice it anymore.

(Yes, I pointed out to her that she was arguing about musical notation to someone who has a university degree in music. She was unmoved.)

Words were exchanged—many words—about the possibility of me just writing an easier part for her. To put it mildly, she was not in favour. I did it anyway. No “weird” rhythms, nothing too crazy.

Today she sight-read it fairly easily, and we practiced together for half an hour (which in and of itself is a minor miracle.) Then we called in the rest of the kids and tried the piece all together.

It was… not terrible. As you may know, amateur music groups can sound rather awful; we sounded unpracticed, very rough around the edges, but not bad—especially not for a first run-through.

At this time yesterday I was feeling less than positive about K’s progress in music this year. Tonight I’m feeling a lot more hopeful. As long as the part is mainly quarter and half notes—and let’s face it, many viola parts are—she can sight read it with little trouble. Maybe once she can sight read a little better she’ll be able to develop a solo repertoire. For now she’s happy playing music with other people… as long as she approves of her part. But that’s a fight for another day.

Darn Tootin' · DIY · family fun · Homeschool · Resorting to Violins

Day 395: Finally, the Payoff

Yesterday I used my Music Therapy degree for the first time in what feels like ages.

I painstakingly transcribed the main theme of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (aka Ode to Joy) using some musical notation software. Then I listened over and over again to the original orchestral piece, stopping every few bars, humming, transcribing the parts to solfege, and then notating them in C major, the only key in which E can play her flute.

It brought back memories of a fourth-year assignment we had in one of our Music Therapy classes: to take a piece of orchestral music and arrange it for a hypothetical group of clients, using common music therapy instruments. I chose Also Sprach Zarathustra (a.k.a. the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey) and arranged it for three reed horns, metallophone, bass drum, and piano.

This time I’m arranging a piece for my family to play; the kids all seem to enjoy playing music together and it teaches them how to listen and respond to each other, so I’ve made it my goal to do some ensemble work with them. Several hours spent on a musical arrangement seems excessive—but then again, how else will I be able to get an arrangement for flute, clarinet, guitar, viola, and piano? And if I could find such a thing, I highly doubt that the parts would be perfectly matched to the kids’ disparate levels.

No, this was definitely a job I had to do myself. Finally, all those years of musical dictation and transposition have paid off!

Darn Tootin' · family fun · Fibro Flares · Homeschool · Keepin' it real · Resorting to Violins · whine and cheese

Day 383: Doin’ it with flare

How does one homeschool their kids in the middle of a fibromyalgia flare-up? It turns out that the answer is: as little as possible, as honestly as possible, in as much comfort as possible.

It was a gorgeous day today, so I pushed all of us out the door and to the nearest park. We did our workout on the playground equipment. At one point N got lazy and started lolling around on the climber instead of doing the exercise. I set him straight: “Listen, mister. If I can do it today, then you sure as heck can do it too. Get moving.”

I find one of the most difficult things about fibromyalgia is gauging how hard I can push myself. Exercising during a flare-up doesn’t do any damage to my body; it just hurts. So I guess the question is how much pain I feel like tolerating, given the expected payoff. Going to the park with the family improved my mood substantially, but it didn’t help my pain level at all.

Mr. December worked on chemistry and math with the older kids while I helped E with her writing, reading, and flute (which is going really well, by the way.) The rest of my morning was spent ordering groceries on Instacart and sitting in a hammock alternately reading and spacing out.

The kids joined me in the living room to discuss their next writing assignment. I stayed cocooned in my hammock with my furry blue blanket and patiently answered all their questions. Then I went upstairs to lie down for an hour. I have no idea what the kids ate for lunch, but I think it’s safe to assume that if they were hungry they would have eaten something.

We reconvened in the living room after my nap and I read aloud about Ancient Greek democracy. Then, for art, I asked them to bring over all the sketchbooks and markers and introduced them to meandros, those Greek key designs that you can draw without lifting your pen (did you know the word meander comes from the name of a river in Asia Minor? I was today years old when I learned that.)

By 2:30 I was done. I went to the back porch and cocooned myself in the outdoor hammock for a bit of a change. Groceries arrived around 4:00 and I dispatched my child labour force to bring everything in and put the perishables away. Dinner—rotisserie chicken and potato wedges from the supermarket—was at 5:00 and by 5:30 the kids were clamoring for more screen time.

“Not until you’ve practiced your instruments,” I stared levelly at R and K, “You haven’t done that for a week or so.”

I’m proud (and a bit surprised) to say that both R and K went off and practiced on their own. After a while K invited me to join her on the back porch for her practice; shockingly, she was very receptive to my suggestions and did some really good work.

And now here we are, after an hour of British reality TV about kids of varying backgrounds having playdates at each other’s homes (E loves this show,) and I’m about to tuck in three of the four kids.

Everything still hurts, possibly more than this morning. But I did it—I managed to preside over some learning, music practice, and dinner, which feels like a massive accomplishment right now. I think a warm bath and a cup of tea is what’s needed now, and then maybe if I get lucky somebody will tuck me in.

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 · 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.”


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.

DIY · education · family fun · Homeschool · Jewy goodness · Kids · Resorting to Violins

Day 273: They Started It.

I want to trust the process. I really do. I want to believe that the kids will regain their natural curiosity and will want to learn without my cajoling them to. Mr. December doesn’t trust it at all—he thinks we need to push and demand. Most days we see no evidence of self-directed learning from any of the kids. And then we come to a day like today, and my faith in my children’s self-direction is renewed.

Lately E has been refusing to even look at a book with someone. I presume it’s because she doesn’t want to be asked to try to read anything. But this morning she said to me, “You know, I think I have a story I want to tell.” So I sat down at her desk and turned to the laptop she had just been using for a Zoom class.

“I’m listening,” I told her, and then I wrote her story precisely the way she told it.

I suggested that it would make a great book. She agreed on the condition that she not be made to illustrate it. I printed it out, folded it, and showed her how to sew a binding. When she was done, she looked at the book, and then at me, and whispered excitedly, “I can’t believe I wrote a book and I’m still so young!”

Then she ran off with her book to show it to everybody in the house.

Oh, did I mention that she lost a tooth?

R and K have been very sweet to N since his surgery, offering to run and fetch things or just keep him company when he’s miserable. Tonight N was hungry, and K offered to make him a smoothie. She proceeded to invent a flavour that tastes very much like green marshmallows.

“I should remember this recipe,” she remarked.

“Why don’t you just write it down?” I suggested—with absolutely no ulterior motive whatsoever.

“Oh yeah, good idea.” K said, and collected some paper and pens before sitting at the table. Then she thought for a moment and said:

“I’d better write a rough draft first so the good copy doesn’t have any mistakes.”

(Did you hear that loud thump? That was the sound of my jaw hitting the floor.)

You see, to call K a reluctant writer is a massive understatement. Writing assignments are usually met with resistance, then anger, then tears. She can spot a writing assignment from a mile away and will dig in her heels in preparation for the fight.

Then she surpassed herself again by asking, “Eema, do recipes count as writing?”

“Of course they do!”

“Well then, can I please write a recipe book for my next writing project?”

And with that, she dove into drafting her recipe.

When I had a concussion (most of 2019) we had to give up on violin lessons for the girls (N had already defected to piano.) It required too much pushing and coercion; Mr. December and my mum weren’t willing to fight for an hour each day to get them to practice. When K passed two lessons with her teacher in complete silence—a standoff—we cancelled all remaining lessons and withdrew from group classes. It was a serious disappointment for me.

Any time I had suggested to E that she could start playing violin again, she vehemently refused. I started to wonder whether I should just sell all the violins except mine.

And then last weekend, E invited me to play some music with her. She set up the assortment of small drums that I used when I taught mom-and-baby music, and invited me to choose any instrument. I picked violin. We improvised for a while (finally! my music therapy training comes in handy!) and then she said, “This time you play the drums and I’ll play my violin!”

And she did. I said nothing other than to comment on the music we made. No comments of approval for her picking the violin up again. I just thanked her for making music with me.

Tonight I had a few minutes to myself. I began practicing my viola while watching that the chanukah candles didn’t burn the library down. After about ten minutes I heard a tentative knock, and then E came in.

“Can we both play violin and viola together?” She asked.

It was already bedtime; I could have said that it was too late at night. But I know that you have to seize the moment when it comes, so I agreed that we could play until the Chanuka candles went out. We improvised together for five minutes or so, and E was satisfied.

“Can we do that again sometime?” She asked.

These kinds of events make me feel like Little Bo Peep. You know: “Leave them alone and they will come home, wagging their tails behind them.”

As I said earlier, my faith in self-driven education is renewed.

(For now.)

education · Kids · parenting · Resorting to Violins

Day 79: Do it again.

I felt like a broken record this morning. N’s work screams “I don’t care about any of this.” His writing looks like he could barely be bothered to hold onto his pencil; I suspect many trained animals could do better. He’s accustomed to his teachers giving up in the face of his silent and polite resistance. I, on the other hand, have very few other students and (apparently) nothing better to do than ensure his future scholastic success.

“Here, Eema.” He thrusts his workbook at me. The sentences don’t start with capital letters, half the words run together, and the letters themselves vary widely in size.

“I can’t read this. It looks terrible. Erase it and do it again.” And he does.

“Here you go, Eema. I’m done.” Slightly better, but not good enough.

“Are you aware that there should be spaces separating the words?” Now he’s avoiding eye contact. “Go back and do it again.”

The third time he has made his corrections by writing over top of his previous work; it’s illegible. The fourth time we review the fact that certain letters should dip below the line, while some should stretch above. “Go back and do it again.”

This is exhausting, even though he’s the one doing the work. All I know is that the time to set expectations is right at the outset, so here I am, holding firm.

Later in the afternoon I’m helping R with her violin practice; she’s working on a Bach minuet. “Wait!” I interject. “That’s a C natural — Low 2. Not high 2. Go back and do it again.”

She rolls her eyes and huffs. Then she keeps right on playing.

“That’s not practicing, you know,” I inform her. “It’s just you bulldozing your way through mistakes. Your daily chart says ‘practice’, not ‘bulldoze.'”

“Fine,” she huffs, “I’ll do it correctly five times.”

“That’s all I ask. Just go back and do it again. And again. And then three more times.” And she did.

Lest I make myself sound like a tiger mom, I have to tell you that I still let some measure (read: a lot) of mediocrity slide. But if they don’t learn how to achieve excellence (or, let’s face it, basic competence) in something now, then they won’t be able to do so even when they want to.

I’m not sure if my kids believe me when I say, “Believe me, I’d rather be outside gardening than in here policing your work,” but it’s true. Not that I don’t want to spend time with them, but I’d rather not have all our interactions be adversarial.

And yet… I want them to learn how to do things well. So I’ll go to bed now. Tomorrow I’ll wake up bright and early — and do it again.

Practice makes perfect… or at least competent.
family fun · Kids · parenting · Resorting to Violins

Day 67: Oh, those summer nights

I’m sure a bunch of stuff happened today, but my memories of it have been completely wiped out by the gentle loveliness of this evening.

It was finally, finally warm enough to eat dinner outside. We barbecued our dinner, ate on the patio, and then played in the backyard until E’s bedtime (which is to say that Mr. December and the kids played. I sat in the hammock outside and read the new book I picked up from the Little Free Library down the street.)

I’ve just started reading The Trumpet of the Swan to E, one chapter a night, and tonight Mr. December got her ready for bed and did the reading. At the same time, R asked me to help with her violin practice. We had done maybe four minutes when I looked out the window and gasped.

“Hey, R,” I whispered, “There’s a whole family of bunnies on the lawn!” Why did I whisper? I have no idea. It’s not like I could have startled or spooked the bunnies from twenty feet away and through the window.

R adores bunnies. She says they’re her spirit animal. And seven or eight at once! She put down her violin and bow and ran out to the garden, barefoot, where she slowly tiptoed toward the bunnies to see if she could get a closer look. IMG_3883

Eventually she came running back, a huge grin on her face: “Eema! I saw one little bunny’s butt sticking out of a hole in the ground! And then a bunch of them hopped over into the hedge and when I held the branches apart I SAW THEM!!!”

Is there anything better for a parent than seeing your kid’s eyes light up in wonder? Okay, maybe snuggles. But it’s close.

Our front porch is the nicest place to be on a summer evening. The stone wall of our house and the concrete of the porch radiate the sun’s heat long after sunset, and everything is bathed in golden light.


And when I came inside, N asked me to sing him to sleep. I haven’t done that in a couple of years, and yet he purred or squealed happily every time I started another song. “I remember this one, you sang it to me when I was a baby!” he’d exclaim, snuggling into my side.

You probably understand why whatever happened earlier today (good and bad) just doesn’t matter after the kind of evening it’s been. I’m happy, and I’m going to bed now.

(And yes, the Fibro is still flaring. But life goes on.)

better homes than yours · Renovation · Resorting to Violins

Day 61: People of the Book Room (house tour!)

You’re about to enter one of the most beloved rooms in our house:

(Drumroll, excited murmuring from the crowd)

The Library.

When we started planning this renovation, a library was at the top of Mr. December’s list of must-haves. It made my top three as well, but it got edged out by natural light.

We knew we wanted the library to be an “away room”, to borrow a term from architect Sarah Susanka. If we had a living room and dining room that were open to each other, then we needed a room that could be closed off and isolated from noise. Since I also wanted a music room (for instruments and live music, not for listening to recordings) and that would require isolation of sound as well, we decided to put the two together. Besides, does it get any more classy than a room full of books and musical instruments?

On the first day of this tour you saw the mirrored doors on one side of the front hall. When they and the sliding glass door to the dining room are closed, there’s significantly less sound transfer between rooms. Between that and the built-in sound mitigation strategies (double drywall with green glue, resilient channel in the ceiling, extra insulation in the walls), the library/music room is the quietest room in the house. IMG_3579

Let’s open the doors, shall we?


The library has large windows that face due west, which means that we get bright sunlight all afternoon, which is why you can’t see the stone fireplace very well. The only part of our bungalow’s interior that we preserved, the wood-burning fireplace makes this our favourite room to be in on chilly nights.


It took us a while to decide what to put on the wall above the fireplace. We discussed a wedding photo, metal sculpture, and paintings; then Mr. December found this 3D wooden map of the world, and everything else paled in comparison — especially after we learned that it could be lit up with colourful LED lights. Tacky? Maybe. Epic? Oh yeah.

There’s a tiny house engraved on the map right where Toronto is, to signify our home. We also had a quote engraved just below where it says “Antarctica”: Life is short and the world is wide. 

I see this room as essentially having two halves: the book side, and the music side.


Three walls of the library are lined with built-in bookshelves and cabinetry. This was yet another one of my DIY projects that was interrupted by my concussion. I designed the library in sketchup and had our painter/carpenter dude build it for us. One day I plan to build a rolling ladder to help us reach the top shelves, but for now we just keep Terry’s poker books there, along with the complete transcripts of the Nuremberg Trials (important to have, but we don’t actually want to read them.)

The magazine rack in the back right corner of the photo is another example of making lemonade out of lemons. You see, we had to put a steel beam into the basement ceiling to hold up this wall and the post above it. To our consternation, the contractors installed the beam almost a foot away from where it was supposed to be, thus making our pantry smaller. I insisted that we enlarge the pantry by stealing some space from the library. To disguise it, we built these very shallow ledges to use as a magazine display.


At the other end of the library, on the music side, we have this beautiful window seat. The cushions are from the old window seat in our bungalow — I’m very stuck on choosing a fabric for this seat, so if you have any suggestions please send them my way.

Under the window seat is a huge space for storing instrument cases. We don’t access them often because we don’t take our instruments out of the house very often, and we prefer to have them easily accessible.


In case you’re wondering, yes, that is the same instrument hanger that I built years ago. I painted it to match the library and it’s still going strong.

Since the library is so quiet and private, K really likes doing her homework in here. For a while we dithered on where to put a desk — in the interim she used a folding table — until I decided that a pull-out desk would be just the thing. When she wants to use it, it pulls out and locks in the open position. With a sharp push, it unlocks and rolls back inside the cabinet.


On the opposite wall we have our electric piano with an adjustable reading lamp above it, and all of our music books. We also have a sturdy music stand that gets moved around a lot.


Since a library is really a celebration of words, we decided to decorate the crown moulding with quotes about books and reading. We chose our favourite quotes and deliberated over fonts; then I did the layout and sent it to a vinyl sign company to be laser-cut from adhesive vinyl. Installation was surprisingly easy, and we’re very happy with the results:


When we were choosing paint colours, everyone thought I was crazy for painting the ceiling the same dark purple-blue as the bookcases, walls, and woodwork. “It’ll be so dark!” my mother declared. “Don’t you want to lighten it up a little with a white ceiling?” The answer to that one was an emphatic no. I wanted to feel enveloped and cozy in here, and to do something a little different and daring. And now I’m so glad that I did.

The library still needs work. It needs furniture, a window seat cushion that actually fits, and some more books (see all those empty shelves? Don’t worry! We’re working on it!) But even in its underfurnished state, it’s a room where we all want to be.





family fun · Kids · parenting · Resorting to Violins · The COVID files · whine and cheese

Social Distancing, Day 5: Ignoring is Bliss

I don’t feel so great today. I’m not sure if it’s a fibro flare or if I’m coming down with something. Or maybe it’s the fact that a child was in my bed last night murmuring about a tummyache while I patted and shushed her. For four hours. You understand why I spent most of my afternoon sleeping it off. And how did I spend my morning? Inventory management.

Thanks to my engineer husband, we have an inventory spreadsheet for our toiletries and consumable household supplies. I finally took inventory today and realized there are a few notable gaps in our supplies (it doesn’t help that R’s thumb seems to need a new Steri-strip twice a day.) I spent the morning checking inventory and then attempting to order stuff online. FYI, Steri-strips are plentiful. Hand soap and Tylenol are not.

Between my morning work and the afternoon nap, I ignored my kids almost all day. True, there was an adjustment period when they kept jabbering at me about things they ostensibly needed, but eventually they got the message and left me to my work (and my nap.)

I love what happens when my kids are left to their own devices and the screen time has run out.


R and E have been asking me to make apple crumble with them for the last four days. Today I told them that if they wanted crumble they’d have to at least start it themselves. R washed and peeled the apples. E used the special cutter that cores and cuts apples. When I made it back to the kitchen there was a pie plate full of cut apples. We finished the recipe together and baked it. It was delicious.



My kids have finally resorted to violins.

I never would have believed it, but K voluntarily practiced violin for 40 minutes in the morning. Then after dinner she had turned into the teacher as she worked with R and N to teach them the song from some video game or other. (Note: N has not played violin in 3 years.)

I was sitting at my desk on the landing when N came out. “K says I have to play this part twenty times with no extra notes,” he explained. The next time he was sent to me for practice he appeared with a bow but no violin. “K says my bow hold is terrible. I have to do the Purple Stew bow game for a bit before I can continue learning the song.” IMG_2629


You know what those instructions mean, right? K obviously already knows how to practice properly. And now I know that she knows…

In the meantime R was chugging along with the song, working on 2 bars at a time. The three of them were at it for at least and hour. I’m still in shock.


Still in shock, and still feeling kind of crappy. My body hurts. I’m going to stop typing and go to bed and hope that I’ll feel better in the morning.