family fun · Just the two of us · Keepin' it real · Kids · love and marriage · snarky · whine and cheese

Day 442: Conflicted

I was conflicted.

On the one hand, I wanted to ask my husband to go on without me, finish the hike, and then come pick me up with the car.

On the other hand, I wanted to kill him.

I was crouched on a hillside, trying to scoot my way down the hill without sliding in the mud or twisting an ankle. The ground was covered in thin pieces of stone, most of which were very loose. To make matters worse, the leaves on the ground made it nigh on impossible to tell where the ground was stable and where there were big holes. And did I mention that there was broken glass on the ground, too?

Eight kilometres doesn’t sound like a big deal, and it wouldn’t be if the path were both even and relatively flat. It wasn’t. The elevation map warned us of all the uphill and downhill sections, but the worst part of it was that most of the trail was very rocky. My ankle stability has never been good and my balance has been a bit off ever since my concussion; so you can imagine why I was already a bit peeved by the time Mr. December led us down this steep hill that was almost certainly NOT part of the trail.

Granted, there were a few fun moments; when we took the wrong path and ended up across the road from a country market and bakery, where we bought a strawberry-rhubarb pie and ate it with our bare hands; when we crossed the river near the top of the falls and I took off my shirt, soaked it in the water, and put it back on (aaaahhh, that’s better); when R and I walked along singing our favourite round:

“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.”

But there were far too many sections of trail where it was all I could do to focus on my footing. About halfway back to the car my legs were hurting and my balance was suffering. Of course, N was pretty miserable at this point, so I tried very hard to be positive and cheerful: “See, kiddo? We’re almost there. Soon we’ll be back at the car where there’s plenty of bottled water and air conditioning. Then we can kill Abba.”

As a parent, I want to model grit and mental toughness to my kids. I try not to wimp out of challenging activities. This hike may have broken me of that tendency.

“From now on,” I told him as I drove home, “I’ll walk in with you guys for about fifteen minutes. Then I’ll turn around and go back to the car, drive to the end point of the hike, and walk in about fifteen minutes to meet you.”

“That’s probably for the best,” he agreed, obviously trying to placate his wife who had only just stopped threatening murder.

“And now,” I intoned, “Let us never speak of this again.”

Camping it up · Kids · parenting · snarky · whine and cheese

Day 413: Quaint.

It’s that time of year again: time to fill out all the camp forms for the kids. Most of them are time consuming, but no big deal. Where I always get stumped, somehow, is at the immunizations.

For those of you who don’t live in Ontario: we have this antiquated system of keeping track of our immunizations. It’s this little yellow trifold card that we (or the doctors) fill in by hand with the date and which vaccines were given. That’s all I have to refer to when the camp asks me for the dates of every vaccination the kids have ever had. I’m sure the doctor’s office has this information in the kids’ files (which are, thankfully, now all computerized,) but that information doesn’t get shared with anyone. Not with me, and not with public health.

That’s why, when each of my kids was enrolled in grade one, I got a letter from Toronto Public Health threatening the kid’s suspension from school if we didn’t provide records of vaccination. The first time it happened I was baffled; The second time I was annoyed; and the third time I was fed up. Apparently after the doctor vaccinates the child and enters the information into their computer, the parents have to go home and enter the same information into the Toronto Public Health website… every single time the kid gets a vaccine. You’d think there’d be some way to opt-in to your doctor sharing the vaccination records with public health—but you’d be wrong.

Honestly, I have flirted with the idea of just telling the school and public health that I’m not vaccinating my kids on conscientious grounds. Of course I’d still have them fully vaccinated—I’d just be saving myself the duplication of labour.

Today as I put in the kids’ vaccination dates I noticed a few… irregularities. I had no record of K being immunized for chicken pox, even though I’m positive that we’ve never declined a vaccine that was offered. That’s the sort of error that comes of having the parent and/or doctor forget to update the quaint little yellow vaccination card. Now I’ll have to call the doctors’ office and have them spend even more time on this issue by generating lists of the kids’ vaccinations and emailing them to me (at least I hope they’ll email them to me, although most doctors won’t actually email confidential medical information. That’s why doctors here still have fax machines, another quaint reminder of a bygone and less efficient era.)

All of this to say that there has GOT to be a better system for sharing this information. A unique PIN for each child, perhaps, that the camp can input into a database to confirm that the child has had all required vaccinations? Something? Anything to advance our public health system past the days of carrier pigeons and fax machines?

Booster shot for Ontario's vaccination policies | The Star
Image description: an Ontario Immunization Record Card. Yep, we’re on the honour system, it seems.
Homeschool · Keepin' it real · Kids · snarky

Day 363: In which I snapped.

After a full day of homeschooling and being available to the kids all the time, I finally had a moment alone. I went to the library, shut the door, and the moment I sat down—

Tap tap scratch

Someone was at the library door.

“NO!” I half-screamed, half-howled in frustration.

It was R, asking for screen time.

I snapped.

“I said ‘NO’! In what world does that mean, ‘By all means, please intrude on the first solitary moment I’ve had all day to ask me a question you could have asked your father, who was in the room you just left!’ GET OUT!!!!”



I’ll admit that, to my chagrin, I sounded a bit more like K in meltdown mode than I would like.

My kids have always misunderstood the purpose and correct use of doors. Leaving my bedroom door open when I’ve asked them to close it; slamming the door instead of closing it nicely (“Do that again,” I’d intone, “and I’ll take your door off its hinges. You don’t get the privilege of a door if you can’t use it properly.”); not knocking upon encountering a closed door; and now, failing to realize that a closed door means “I want privacy, so don’t bug me unless it’s an emergency.”

I’m thinking of adding “Door etiquette” to our ever-expanding life skills curriculum, right alongside “How to answer a telephone (hint: don’t just pick it up and listen)” and “Garbage cans and how to use them.”

In the meantime, I think I’d better go hug R. Then I’m going to find a good spot to be by myself for a little while; I hear the car is nice this time of year.

DIY · Keepin' it real · Kids · snarky · well *I* think it's funny...

Day 347: Is now a good time?

Hey, kids! Today we’re going to talk about nonverbal social cues. Ready? Let’s begin.

Pop quiz: when is it a good time to ask me a question? Is it:
a) when I’m on the toilet
b) when I’m on the phone
c) when I’m under my desk with power tools, grunting and swearing
d) any and all of the above

If you answered d) any and all of the above, you’re probably one of my children.

No, really. About an hour ago N came up the stairs to my desk and started asking me something. I know he had absolutely no way of knowing I was busy, since he couldn’t see my face or upper body, which were hidden under the desk. I guess when he saw my legs he figured I was simply lying down for a minute. Yup, just chillin’. On the floor. Under my desk.

Image description: a person’s legs and part of their torso. The rest of their body is hidden behind a wall. There are chairs in the background.

I have to say that I wasn’t particularly surprised. I’d be hard pressed to count how often I say something like, “Take a look at what’s going on here. Does it look like I’m doing something?” And Mr. December is forever saying, “Come on, guys. Read the social cues!” And still the kids just come in and start talking, oblivious to whatever is already going on in the room.

In the spirit of explicit and direct instruction, I’ve created a flowchart. Enjoy!

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.
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.

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

Fibro Flares · Keepin' it real · snarky

Day 317: I guess I’m not immune…

Remember how I said my kids spend entire movies pointing out errors and inconsistencies? Well, it turns out that I’m no better.

I binge-watched Bridgerton this week and spent almost as much time yelling at the screen as I did enjoying the sumptuous costumes and sets.

The reason for the binge-watching, by the way, is that I seem to be fibro-flaring again. My arms are particularly bothering me right now, which means that pastimes such as quilting and fixing drawers need to wait. There’s nothing to do but watch. And criticize, of course.

“That’s not a Regency-era dance,” I rant to Mr. December, who was on his way to the fridge to get some water, “there’s far too much touching! And they’re too close together!”

“Write an angry letter,” he said, heading back to his basement office.

The crimes against music were perhaps the worst in my eyes. I’ve heard others call it “clever,” but I just can’t agree when, in a dance scene at a ball, the music is not only an adaptation of a pop song from 2020, but it doesn’t work with the dances at all.

One character declared that she and her husband were about to dance a waltz. Wonderful. Just one problem, though: Vivaldi’s Spring is not a waltz. Neither were the steps they were dancing: from where I sat, it definitely looked like a polka. I can’t figure out whether the producers are that clueless, or they just think their audience is.

And yet despite all its flaws and errors, I thoroughly enjoyed Bridgerton. But now it’s over and I need a new binge-worthy show. I’ll gladly take recommendations. Anybody?

family fun · Keepin' it real · Kids · parenting · snarky

Day 313: Let’s Not Pretend.

I played pretend with E this afternoon. It was agonizing.

In case you’ve forgotten, I do not like playing make-believe with my kids. I’ll happily jam on musical instruments, play a board game or a party game, play cards… that’s all good. But playing “house” or “school” or “family”? No, thank you.

I understand that kids learn through play, and that they use play to rehearse scenarios they encounter in their life. When my kids play (which they do, often) I hear them learning to negotiate roles, establish common assumptions, and take turns leading and following. It makes me unspeakably happy to hear them playing made-up games with each other. I just don’t want any part in it.

Anytime I hear them playing “family” and R (always the mom) tells the others to clean their rooms, I think, “Why is this happening in imaginary play? They have real rooms that really need to be cleaned!” One time many years ago K came up to me and said, “Eema, let’s play pretend. Let’s pretend you’re my mom, and I’m your daughter.” I stared at her blankly for a moment, blinked, and said rather obtusely, “But I am your mom, and you are my daughter. Why are we pretending?” She left me for an easier quarry: her dad.

Mr. December is great at playing with the kids. He’ll pretend to be anything or anyone. He really gets into the game and he can play for an hour, no problem. He got that ability from his parents, both of whom are amazing at playing with the kids. My mother-in-law will sit with them for hours while they play Barbies. Me? I’m crawling out of my skin after five minutes.

And yet some days I feel guilty saying no to an invitation to play. They’re inviting me into their world, right? I should show an interest, right? That line of thinking is what got me playing “house and store” with E.

First we shopped for fabric food and miniature housewares. E was running the cash and actually calculated my change from $10 (I owed $6, she gave me back $4) with ease. That part was cool. Then she said, “Okay, now I’m the mom again and we’re going home,” and I obligingly followed her into her little house under the stairs. That’s where I was when I really started wanting out. I just couldn’t feign interest anymore—so I feigned a nap instead.

“Mom?” I asked her in my best imaginary-kid voice, “I don’t feel so good. Can I lie down in bed while you cook dinner?”

“Of course, honey. Maybe I should check you out.” She ran for her doctor-themed Kiwi crate and used her homemade stethoscope to make sure I was okay. Then, with her blessing, I cozied up on a mat in the corner of her playhouse and closed my eyes… and fell asleep. For real.

I vaguely remember her talking to me. At one point she had to go back to the “store” and she brought in a giant elephant stuffie to babysit me. Then Mr. December came in and laughed at me. I cared not at all. I was having a delicious nap and was still earning brownie points with my six-year-old for being part of her game.

It’s not the most brilliant parenting hack, but this might just get me through the rest of the “playing pretend” years with my sanity intact. I still plan to decline invitations to play most of the time, but on the rare occasion where I feel I really ought to join them, I now know that I can take on the role of the sick or tired child… or a tree that got chopped down and is lying on the forest floor… or the dead body in a murder mystery… or the doctor’s secretary who is glued to Facebook instead of attending to patients… or I could just play the mom who hates playing pretend. Problem solved.

family fun · Kids · love and marriage · snarky · well *I* think it's funny... · whine and cheese

Day 312: Tough Crowd.

Word to the wise: don’t try to watch movies with my kids. Just don’t.

They’re their father’s children, that’s for sure. If there’s a plot hole or inconsistency, or if a character makes a stupid decision, they’ll shout at the screen. A couple of weeks ago K watched Contagion with Mr. December. Do you know what she took away from that movie? The fact that the doctors were doing an autopsy protected only by regular surgical masks, not N95 masks and plastic face shields.

“What were they thinking?” she ranted for days afterwards. “There’s an unknown pathogen that’s killing people, but hey, just the minimal PPE should protect us even though we don’t know how it’s transmitted. These people are idiots! They should have been wearing hazmat suits!

She’s not wrong. But no matter how many times I explain suspension of disbelief, she just won’t turn off the analytical voice in her head. Maybe she can’t—like her father. One of the big lessons he’s taught me is not to watch movies with an engineer who has a penchant for strategy games, at least not in private. In the theatres he at least keeps quiet for the benefit of people who aren’t married to him.

Tonight we watched Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. It’s possibly the worst movie we could have watched from a wife-and-mom-of-a-highly-critical-audience perspective. I’m sure there was some vaguely amusing dialogue, but I could barely hear it for these bon mots:

“Now is NOT the time to stop for a snack!” N screamed when a dinosaur—who had just eaten two people—stopped to eat another dino instead of running from the erupting volcano.

“You know,” Mr. December opined later, “he should probably have called the police as soon as he knew he’d been betrayed instead of waiting to confront his betrayer in person.”

“Why isn’t there a lock on the cage of the most dangerous dinosaur ever?” R asked; then Mr. December chimed in, “You guys should at least buy a $2 padlock from the dollar store and slap it on there!”

“There wasn’t even ONE INCOMPETENT GUARD! What were they thinking? They deserved to be eaten by those dinosaurs for being so stupid!” K crowed.

“Yeah, you should probably just stand there and look for the source of the terrifying sound instead of GETTING IN YOUR CAR AND DRIVING AWAY AS FAST AS POSSIBLE!!!!” was one of K’s many other contributions.

Did I mention how great they are? They’re the best. They’re also reading over my shoulder as I type this post. They’re so awesome. Especially when they stop reading over my shoulder and Go. To. Sleep.

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

Day 310: From the Suggestion Box

Yesterday the kids decided they needed a “complaint box” so they could bring problems to our attention.

“Sure,” we said, “go ahead and make one.”

Someone found an old wooden cigar box and gave it a place of honour on top of our games shelf. Then the kids spent quite a bit of time writing their complaints and suggestions. I imagine many homeschool parents would view this as great: the kids were using their writing and language skills to try to get something they want. For me it was great in another way—reading the notes was a highly entertaining way to spend some of the evening yesterday. It also gave me some great material for tonight’s blog post.

So without further ado, I’m pleased to present our first batch of “suggestions” and our responses to them.

Comment #1:
Do i have to do my work? If i get one wrong i’ll… I don’t know what i will do but you will pay!!!
your daught your friend, R.S.B.

On behalf of the BFHS, we would like to thank you for your input. We take all input seriously as we strive to continue to make the BFHS the best homeschool in the city. As your comments relate to finance and payment, we have forwarded your notes to that department. Please see their reply below:

Thank you for bringing this issue to our attention. Here at BFHS we recognize the importance of paying our vendors and staff promptly. If we have missed a payment of some sort, please forward a copy of the original invoice to our Finance department and we will pay immediately, as per your request.

If you are not satisfied with this response, please feel free to submit more details to the secondary suggestion/complaints box. This is a container in the kitchen, just to the right of the main sink, at the front of the bottom drawer.

BFHS Staff

Comment #2:
Math is hard! and it hurts my hand!

At BFHS we take all physical ailments seriously. You need not work yourself to the point of pain: as of tomorrow, our Special Needs office will appoint a scribe for all your written work. You can also expect to be contacted regarding a program of occupational therapy for your poor pencil grasp.

As to your other concern, math can indeed be hard. We stand firm in our assertion that our students are capable of doing hard things. In that spirit… suck it up, buttercup.

Comment #3:
I don’t want to do LoF: Apples for treats! I Just want treats!!!
signed your baby chiken, E

We agree that you should not be doing LoF: Apples for treats. However, until your intrinsic motivation kicks in, we are at an impasse. If you would like to further explore how to develop your self-motivation, please contact our Guidance department. If not, we will continue our current program of bribes. Thank you for sharing your concerns. Have a great day.

Comment #4:
I can’t focus

This issue has been noted in your file numerous times. We will forward your concern to the Special Education team, who will doubtless explain to you—for the nth time this month—the positive impact Ritalin can have on your ability to work. Say yes to drugs, kids.

Comment #5:
I can’t do my stupid work

Thank you for bringing this to our attention. After consulting with your teachers we can confidently say that you haven’t done your non-stupid work, either. Therefore we conclude that it’s a you problem, not an us problem.

Comment #6:
Less work Late
(like when we watch the thing we didint watch last time)

That’s not even a complete sentence!!!! Uh, I mean…
We appreciate your taking the time to write. In future, we encourage you to take a bit more time to edit, too. As your suggestion lacks detail we regrettably cannot address the incident you mentioned. We will, however, address your difficulties with capitalization and punctuation by assigning extra grammar work until your writing improves.

Comment #7:
can i skip the last quistion on the heat page

No. Just… no.

education · family fun · Homeschool · Keepin' it real · Kids · love and marriage · Montessori · snarky · The COVID files · well *I* think it's funny...

Day 309: Snapshot of a Homeschool Day

8:05 a.m. – I wake up. One of the nicest things about homeschooling is that we can finally get the sleep our bodies need.

8:30 a.m. – Freshly showered and dressed, I go downstairs to make oatmeal and coffee. The kids are already up and dressed, and are just waiting for breakfast.

9:15 a.m. – We had decided on a late start this morning; normally this would happen at 9:00. We all meet in the attic for our family exercise time: three sun salutations, six pushups, six squats, eight sit-ups. Every day we increase one exercise by one repetition.

9:30 a.m. – Mr. December works on physics with the three older kids while I do some Montessori lessons with E.

10:00 a.m. – K has a coaching session now, so I get her set up in the library. R and N start working on their Kumon at the dining room table. It quickly becomes apparent that they’re not focusing well, though, so N is banished to his room, where he has a usable (read: clean!) desk. I return to my work with E.

10:30 a.m. – R is still working on the same five Kumon problems. Each time she starts a new one, I hear “Eema, I need help!” My standard response: “I can’t right this second. Why don’t you read the question so you can tell me which part you need help with?” A few seconds pass and she replies, “Never mind.” Internally, I lecture: “Child, this is Kumon math. The questions are all the same problem with different numbers!”

11:40 a.m. – Everyone is finished their math except R. “We’re moving on now,” I tell them, but R kicks up a fuss and begins to cry. “If I don’t finish my math, I can’t have any screen time!” she wails. We all sit there and wait for her to finish one measly stinking question. It takes ten minutes.

12:00 p.m. – The kids are settled around the table, eating lunch. I’m reading to them from The Secret Garden, our literature study for the month. I’m switching back and forth between voices and accents: Yorkshire and something a bit more standard, young female, middle aged male, grizzled old gardener. The kids hang on every word. And since their mouths are full of lunch, they don’t interrupt me every few minutes.

1:00 p.m. – “I’m cold!” I announce, and head into the library to start a fire. The kids do their literature copywork on the floor in front of the hearth. Pretty soon I realize that some of them don’t understand margins and indentation very well. A lesson ensues.

1:30 p.m. – We settle down in front of the fire with our sketchbooks and calligraphy markers; each kid’s project to celebrate the end of our studying Pirkei Avot (for now–we obviously didn’t do the whole book) is an illuminated manuscript of the child’s favourite quotation from those we’ve studied. I’ve been learning Hebrew calligraphy on my own, so now I teach the kids how to form the letters with calligraphy markers. I’m shocked (but pleased) that N is working on it with such excitement and interest, given that he’s been resistant to any kind of Jewish learning lately. Here he is, sprawled across the floor, practicing the letters of his chosen quotation.

2:30 p.m. – I suggest to N that maybe it’s time to wrap up the calligraphy for the day; his sisters were done (for the day) long ago.

2:45 p.m. – The four kids and I are snuggled on the couch watching Canada: A People’s History. N loses the privilege of snuggling under my super-soft faux fur throw because he keeps trying to wipe his nose with it. Not with my blanket, buddy.

3:05 p.m. – R and N are begging to be done for the day. I remind R that she has some copywork to finish, and suggest to N that he practice his piano. They do as I say. I look out the window, alert for any signs of flying pigs. There are none. Will wonders never cease?

3:30 p.m. – I go to the post office to pick up a package that I’ve been told is waiting for me… but it isn’t. E and K came along for the ride, so I take the opportunity to get their passport photos taken. If I wait until the COVID lockdowns end, it’ll be us and every other person in the country trying to apply at the same time.

4:30 p.m. – I whipped up some pizza dough half an hour ago, and now each kid gets to make their own pizza. E makes breadsticks, R a pizza and breadsticks, N a standard plain pizza, and K makes a “pizza” with chocolate sauce, strawberries, and mangoes. “You said we could top it with whatever we want!” Note to self: be a bit more specific next time.

5:00 p.m. – Dinnertime. Mr. December and I eat leftover eggplant lasagna while the kids chow down on their pizzas. As soon as I’m done, they beg me to read them a story from Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes. They munch and listen to the story of Psyche. They don’t even know they’re learning!

5:45 p.m. – We squeeze onto the couch to watch the second half of The Story of the Jews, chapter 2. I learned something: the hoods worn by the Ku Klux Klan were copied from Holy Week processions in Spain, which got the idea from the Spanish Inquisition. Seriously, these penitentes in Seville look like the black chess pieces to the KKK’s white. There have been weirder chess sets than that, I’m sure.

6:15 p.m. – Mr. December and I retreat to the library to chat in relative quiet. I end up playing guitar and singing, and later move to the piano to perform the first love song I ever wrote (to Mr. D., of course.) We also take some time to read all the little notes in our new suggestion/complaint box, but that’s a goldmine of material, so I’ll save it for another post.

7:15 p.m. – I realize the reason the kids are so quiet is that they’re watching Netflix on my phone.

7:40 p.m. – “If you don’t choose and eat a bedtime snack now, you won’t get one tonight.” I am so done with the 8:30 p.m. cry of “but I didn’t eat anything yet!” as if we don’t do this every evening.

8:00 p.m. – After she changes and brushes her teeth, E asks me to read to her from What is our Solar System? When I finish the chapter she begs for another. I guess her professed book-hatred has taken a backseat to curiosity.

8:30 p.m. – E is down for the night. Mr. December is reading to the three older kids—they’re at the end of On a Pale Horse and want just a bit more time, even though it’s now bedtime. I shrug and sit down to finish this post. If they’re not ready for bed in twenty minutes, I’ll be the one getting tucked in and demanding extra hugs.