Archive for the ‘Children’ Category

At Least He Hasn’t Lost His Marbles

October 18, 2013

I spent an hour today doing something I haven’t done in more than three decades: cleaning out a locker.

I found: umpteen clean sheets of loose paper (too crumpled to be useful), a full, unused stack of Post-It notes in thirty-two pieces, two overdue library books, four pencils (one a broken stub and one with no eraser), one pen, and the remains (including plastic containers) of every single lunch The Animator has taken to school since Labor Day — and he’s never been absent.

I did not find his pencil box, scissors, the other twenty brand-new pencils, the other eleven pens, any erasers at all, or the agenda I bought two weeks ago to replace the first agenda he lost. I suspect all but that last item are in the same location.

Maybe the Lost and Found? Seemed logical.

Here’s what I found there: five lightweight jackets, one adorable Fedora (in a school where hats are not allowed), two full-size binders full of paper, three pencil boxes (none of which are familiar but all of which are filled with supplies), two unmatched mittens (really? already???), two water bottles (both full and one leaking), twenty-seven assignments with a red letter grade at the top, thirteen completed but ungraded assignments (four of which had no name on them), one library book, one science textbook, and half a dozen, crumbling oatmeal cookies.

I have only one response.

Who loses oatmeal cookies???

OK, I have another response. Apparently my son’s proclivity to lose everything is not unusual for Grade Seven.

Also? It’s going to be a very long year.

Update on Homeschooling

December 7, 2012

People ask me occasionally how homeschooling is going.

There are days when I’d like to drop-kick my beloved children down the hill and into the lake — ice bedamned — but overall, we’re really happy with both their learning and their socialization.

Heck, Mars thinks both kids have learned more in these three months than they learned all of last year, and there’s no question they have made more friends. Of course, more than zero doesn’t take much.

But occasionally we have days like today, and my heart sings with gratitude.


Personal Update

January 31, 2012

Several people have asked me recently if everything is OK, probably because I haven’t been online much, and I thought I’d just answer everyone at once this way.

Short version: Everything is not OK, but I’m sure I’ll get through it, and I have a few very specific and exciting projects that will hopefully help me get through the doldrums.

Long version: All the details are behind the cut. But if I’ve dropped a ball I was juggling for you — failed to answer a note or a call, or do a task I said I would do — I hope you will understand how much weight I’m working under, and forgive me. (more…)

13th Day of Christmas: 13 Fascinating Facts

January 7, 2012

1. Titanic artifacts were preserved for posterity, but the ship itself is still at the bottom of the ocean, being eaten by iron bacteria. They estimate the ship will collapse and disappear in forty to ninety years. Do you suppose Iron Out and bleach could rescue the Titantic like they rescued my towels? Yeah, yeah, I know … the environment.

2. Millvina Dean was nine weeks old when her family got on the Titanic. They were supposed to have traveled on a different White Star liner, but a coal strike left it docked. Her mother and older brother survived, but her father was lost. She did not know she’d been on the Titanic for many years. When she died at age 96 in 2009, she was the last remaining Titanic survivor.

3. First class passengers ate peaches in chartreuse jelly. I’d kill to taste that dish. I would not, however get on the Titanic to taste it.

4. Third class passengers also ate well, though they missed the chartreuse jelly. They had roast beef and gravy, potatoes, sweet corn, biscuits and plum pudding. And they slept on real mattresses, not straw, like steerage passengers on other lines. Didn’t keep ’em alive though. Unlike airplane seats, the mattresses could not be used as floatation devices.


Hiking in Jasper*

September 19, 2011

I had a wonderful day Friday — hiking in Jasper* National Park with my daughter.

It’s an annual trek for middle schoolers. They rent buses (Greyhound-type), and apparently it’s an event much anticipated and enjoyed by everyone, even the chaperones.

And indeed, it was FUN! See our smiles?

There were two other moms on our bus, and I don’t think we stopped talking. Except maybe for the hour when I fell asleep. Maybe. They were delightful company, and it made the three-hour drive (one-way) fly past. I hope to see them again.

Jasper is world-famous for mind-blowing scenery, and it didn’t disappoint, though the granite peaks sticking up above the forest did remind me at times of Dilbert’s pointy-haired boss. I felt a little sacrilegious for giggling.

The hike itself, however, was HARD! It was about five km, and straight uphill. Not quite as steep  as the Grand Canyon (my Gold Standard for steep hikes), but bad enough.

On the drive up, I blithely told the other moms, “I figure all I have to do is keep up with Girly Girl!” And then I laughed, as if the idea of not keeping up with her was patently absurd.


What’s Different About Girly Girl?

October 17, 2010

About 18 months ago, I had a conversation with Mad Scientist about Girly Girl having Down syndrome. He wasn’t buying it. He understands genetics, after all, and she has the same genes we have. So she can’t have the same genes people with Down syndrome have.

We knew eventually we’d have to tell him, but in the meantime, I was totally charmed that he was unable to see anything except his sister.

Well, the day has come. Friday evening, Mars was tucking Mad Scientist into bed when MS asked, “What’s different about Girly Girl? Why doesn’t her brain work like ours do?”

Mars explained that she has Down syndrome. That all of her cells have an extra chromosome, and that it has some predictable results which include mild mental disabilities, delayed growth, recognizable facial features, etc. He knows children with Down syndrome, including one of his classmates, so he knows what it means.

He was quiet for a long time. Then he said, “She’s doing really well for a person with Down syndrome.”

And that was it. He rolled over and went to sleep. It’s not like it’s any big deal after all.

Mad Scientist On a Rampage

May 23, 2010

Mad Scientist played downstairs most of the afternoon today, unsupervised. This is rarely a problem — there are lots of toys down there, a TV with cable and DVDs, a computer with games, etc. Until last week, there was no good furniture down there, and how much can you really damage indoor-outdoor carpet anyway? We just don’t worry about it.

At least we didn’t. Before today.

Our first clue was when Mad Scientist came up for dinner with a hole in his T-shirt, right above his belly button. You have to realize — it’s normal for him to have holes in his clothes. We buy those jeans that Sears will replace for free if they get holes, and it isn’t unusual for him to go through three different pairs of jeans before he grows out of them. This kid is hard on his clothing.

But there must have been something unusual about this hole because Mars said to him (with an incredulous tone), “Did you cut your shirt?”

Mad Scientist didn’t answer, but he looked guilty (kids are SO easy to read!), so Mars said, “How did you do it?”

“With scissors.”

We both know there are no scissors downstairs — for very good reasons, so we said, verbatim as if we’d practiced it, “What scissors did you use?”

He looked even guiltier. “I found them under the cushions on the couch.”

I had a sudden, horrible vision. Last week, we bought new furniture for the living room, and we moved the old couch downstairs. Old yes, but better than anything that was down there before, and I was looking forward to having some decent furniture down there. I pictured it shredded as he watched TV. “Did you cut anything else?”


The Trouble with Knobs

January 29, 2010

Mad Scientist’s bedroom doorknob hasn’t worked correctly in ages. If he shuts the door tight, he cannot open it from the inside.

Frankly, I wasn’t sure that was a bad thing. There’s a certain benefit (and a very satisfying natural consequence) to having a door that if slammed shut, stays shut. So we haven’t made it a priority to repair it, especially since neither of us are handy and we didn’t know any local locksmiths.

But last week, Mars was in Canada, and the children were home from school for MLK day. I had a haircut scheduled for 11 a.m., so we were on a timeline (albeit a fairly relaxed one).

Three times, while I was eating breakfast and getting ready, MS went storming into his room mad about something (probably that his sister wouldn’t play with him) and slammed the door. So three times, I had to stop what I was doing to let him out. The third time, I let him stew in there, but then I had to listen to the incessant yelling and hammering on the wall.

Then I got a bright idea: I would simply remove the doorknob — it’s just two screws, right?

He was rather skeptical. “Mom, there’s going to be a hole in the door! People can see in!”

“Tough,” I said (to my credit, I didn’t snarl, though I wanted to). “At least you’ll be able to get out.”

The knob was a pain to remove — those screws are long! And they bump against the knob, so you can’t just plug in a battery-operated screwdriver and get happy. But eventually, I had the knob off, and I headed into the shower.

OK, all you people who are handy … can you see it coming?


Mad Scientist Discovers Chemistry

September 27, 2009

Girly Girl is in middle school this year (she’s loving it!). Sixth grade. The school issues all children two copies of the very heavy science text: one to leave at school and one to take home.

Mad Scientist discovered her textbook where we keep it on the microwave, and he can’t leave it alone. He comes home from school, throws his backpack in the hall, and goes straight to the microwave to start reading. He is especially fascinated by the Periodic Table of Elements.

We ran into his teacher at church today, and she told Mars that Mad Scientist gave her a quiz this week. He handed her slips of paper with questions like, “What does the symbol He stand for?” and “Is Ne a solid, liquid or a gas?”

Have I mentioned that the boy is in third grade? Yikes.

Taste Testing, Second Grade Style

January 6, 2009

One of the great ironies about blogging is that, by definition, the times in a bloggers life when she has the most to write about are the times she has the least amount of time. And indeed, I’ve been mentally writing blog enties for two or three weeks now, and some of them are hilarious!

Tragically, the funniest ones are — again, by definition — the ones that I’ll never get written. In the meantime, here’s a mildly amusing conversation we had last week.

Mad Scientist skidded up to the table for dinner, just to take one look at his plate and announce he wasn’t hungry.

“You won’t get any snacks if you don’t eat dinner,” I warned. Yes, I am mean that way. Turning to Mars, I added, “He didn’t eat his lunch either. He’s going to come in here famished about 10 minutes after the dishes are washed.”Note how I cleverly avoid admitting who washed the dishes by the adroit use of the passive tense. Nice!

“Did he snack all afternoon?” Mars asked.

As if! Haven’t I already established that a child who skips a meal doesn’t get snacks in my kitchen? I assured him Mad Scientist had eaten nothing since the two bites of lunch he ingested before wandering off to build something in his basement laboratory.

Mars apparently didn’t believe me, and with good reason. “Did you eat anything after lunch?” he asked.

Mad Scientist’s eyes got big, and he nodded. Busted!

“What did you eat?” Mars said.

“Cat food.”

“Cat food?”

Mad Scientist nodded.

Mars thought for a minute. How, after all, is a parent supposed to respond? Especially a parent whose been known to sample the pet food himself, just to see what it tastes like. Finally he asked, with as nuetral a voice as he could manage, “What did it taste like?”

Mad Scientist cocked his head to one side. After some serious thought, he said, “Kind of like … dog food.”