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We are focussing a bit more this year on the art of writing (something, to date, both boys have found excruciatingly difficult). This week the boys started writing superhero sagas using a first person voice. The first step was to draw pictures of their superheroes. D chose to create “Super Baa”, a superhero sheep and P made up “Super Mutilated Hamster” or SMH for short. Their drawings were quite amusing. D did front, side and back drawings of his super sheep that reminded me of Johnny Mutton. P just did a detailed front drawing of something so covered in weapons that it was impossible to see what creature was underneath. This was a lot of fun for them.
Yesterday, they wrote descriptions of their imaginary superheroes. Today they had to write about their superhero’s powers. This is the stuff of imagination, of which my boys are not lacking in. I especially enjoyed D’s work so here it is for all to read:
“I can run super fast and I have really sharp horns. I have a jet pack so I can fly at 2000 km an hour. I also have a utility belt. My best weapon is my super fart that kills all who smell it. I can also swim super fast. I swim fast by farting constantly.”
Super fart power – now that’s something I wouldn’t have thought of! I can hardly wait to find out how Super Baa and Super Mutilated Hamster end up saving someone!
The boys had a chance to try their hand at soapstone carving yesterday at the local community centre. The activity was scheduled to last three hours. I didn’t think that an art project could keep them engaged for that long so I returned to pick them up after two hours had elapsed. To my surprise (and delight) they were still very actively engaged in the process. The elderly gentleman who was instructing the sculpture process was leading them through the multiple sandings required to get a smooth final product. The boys then had to polish their stones using linseed oil. They were both proud of their finished products. D’s looked like a frog and P informed me that he chose to do an abstract shape. I was pretty happy to have found such an inexpensive program that they both enjoyed so much. The instructor left them with a soapstone necklace project to finish at a later date. I can see that coming out in the not too near future.
“Uh…Mom? You might want to come in here and see this!” I never get a good feeling when I hear statements like this. It usually means that something I don’t approve of has happened. Today it meant that there was ketchup all over the walls and the toilet in the downstairs bathroom. It seems that P thought it would be a fun gag to put folded ketchup packets under the rim of the toilet seat in the hopes that someone unknowingly would sit down and they would explode. It worked. We think that someone was probably the neighbour boy and that he was too shy to tell me about it. When I called P to account, he looked at the mess with a bit of a smirk on his face and said, “Cool. It actually worked.” That wasn’t exactly the “Sorry Mom. I’ll clean it up” I was hoping for. Sorry son, Mom isn’t finding this one so cool and you’ll be sticking around to clean it up.
Yesterday was game night at our house and D chose Spongebob Squarepants Monopoly for our familial enjoyment. This game can go on for a very long time so we decided that we would play for an hour and a half and whoever had the most money at that point would be declared the winner. As the allotted time was drawing to a close, P realized that he had less money than D and that unless he took a chance he would wind up in second place. (Heaven forbid that should happen!) He decided to risk it all and buy four pineapples for “Spongebob’s Pineapple” and two pineapples for “Krusty Krab”. (That’s the equivalent of buying 6 houses for “Park Place” and “Boardwalk” in the original game.) At most, we would make it around the board another two times. Wouldn’t you know it, on the last round I landed on both of them, went bankrupt and P was in the money and laughing. I don’t know what the chances of rolling snake eyes were at that crucial point in the game but it has to be close to nil. Somewhere there is a lesson in there for me but I haven’t quite figured out what it is yet.
Yesterday, we revisited laundry 101, this time with our new front-end loader. It seemed to make sense since D and P generate at least 2/3 of the laundry around here. Our lesson was temporarily aborted when we discovered a bug inside the washing machine. An entomology (spelling?) lesson commenced. We got out the “bug book” and found out that the specimen before us was a leaf-footed bug (or if you are really into bugs a Leptoglossus spp.). It was the first bug in our book listed under the “sucking bugs” section. I really didn’t like the sound of that too much! The little blurb that followed made them sound harmless enough though. They like to feed on coniferous tree seeds. I was happy to hear D say that meant they liked evergreen tree seeds. I’m embarrassed to say that I had to look it up to see if he was correct. I’m now saying over and over again to myself, “Coniferous trees produce cones. Deciduous trees drop leaves.” Hopefully, next time I will remember which is which. The most interesting thing about this particular bug is that its hind legs flare out and are leaf-shaped. (Hence the name!) The little interruption to our laundry lesson only took a couple of minutes but it was a nice surprise to an otherwise boring job.
Touched. That’s how I felt today after reading my youngest son’s “help wanted” assignment. One of the ads he had to write was for the position of mother. He wrote: “Must be able to clean, do dishes and laundry. Must be smart and good at everything.” Every now and then you get a little glimpse of how your boys see you and any ideas you may have had of pitching them out the window in absolute frustration just evaporate. Such is the power of the written word!
D and P are not writers. They have as much told me so on several occasions. I happen to think that writing and doing it well is a valuable life skill so I insist that the boys learn to put words on paper. I can’t say that I have ever been “wowed” by what either of them have written but every now and then I get a good chuckle from their obvious disdain for some of the things I assign them to do.
A few weeks ago, we arrived at the part of our writing curriculum that gave the boys a chance to write cinquain poetry. D could not believe that he actually had to do something that he felt was a total waste of his time. Each line of the poem had to follow specific instructions and had to have an exact number of syllables. D followed the directions to a “T” and still managed to express that he didn’t at all like this activity. This is what he wrote:
Coughs up a hair ball
Runs in front of a big car
Today, it was P’s turn to make me laugh. The boys had to write help wanted classifieds where they named the position that needed to be filled and then used verbs to describe what that position entailed. P wrote:
Help wanted. Spelling and writing champion. Must be able to write, spell and sing dumb songs with my mom. Call P at ___-____.
The dumb song he is referring to is my attempt to help the boys memorize linking verbs. There were ten one-syllable linking verbs listed and I thought that the easiest way to commit them to memory would be to sing them. We sing “am, is, are, was, were, be” going up the scale and “been, looks, seems, smells, tastes, sounds” going down. Both boys looked at me with incredulity when I first crooned my linking verb rendition. It is now something of a joke around here. I like to burst forth jubilantly these ten words just to see the boys eyes roll and to hear them audibly groan. They are so predictable! Today D used the song to make me smile. He used the same tune to sing “Can you please shut up? It is our recess”. It’s good for this mom to laugh.
I moved into a home that was already decorated. The walls weren’t blank white canvasses just begging to be painted. The walls were, in fact, awash with colours and the paint job was well done. I have been trying very hard for the last month and a half to meld my things with what is already here. For some reason, it just wasn’t working. A few days ago, I realized why. Although I was living in a lovely home, I felt like I was living in someone else’s home. That someone else loved ornate things, cool colours, flowers and poufy valences. That someone else just wasn’t me.
It was easy for me to paint P’s room. No one in this culture could possibly expect a 10 year old boy to be happy living in a bubble gum pink room. He swore that he would never have friends over unless it was changed. It was my pleasure to make that room more masculine for him. It was equally easy for me to paint the boys’ bathroom. The fish border in there was peeling badly and I had paint on hand to redo it. It was a bit more of a stretch for me to paint my ensuite bathroom. I justified it saying that I needed to repair the holes in the walls and that since the previous owners hadn’t left any of that colour of paint behind it only made sense to repaint the whole room. It started out periwinkle blue with an 80’s looking border edging the ceiling. The border came down and now the room is a very relaxing beige.
The main floor rooms were a little harder to justify. The entrance way and hall were two tones of blue-green. The lighter tone was carried into the dining room. A very pretty scalloped matching border and some poufy bergundy window toppings completed the look. Everything coordinated, there was nary a ding and the holes left behind were easily patched and touched up with paint the previous owners graciously left for me. I finally decided that I wanted to enjoy this home that I had purchased and in order to do that I had to redoecorate according to my own tastes no matter how unnecessary it really was.
The top parts of the hallway are now beige. The black framed, white matted, sepia coloured photos I hung on it now look fantastic. The bottom half will soon be a light brown. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do in the dining room so I did something I have never done before. I mixed three colours of left over paint together to make my own custom colour. It worked better than I could have imagined. The colour I ended up with is somewhere in between the rind of a butternut squash and glazed terra cotta. (I always thought that it would be cool to have a job naming all those colours on paint tabs. Now that I have created my own colour and have had a lot of trouble coming up with a suitable name for it, I’m not sure that would be the job for me!) I couldn’t wait to get this colour up on the walls. It was a real pleasure taking down those burgundy, poufy curtains. I felt pretty good seeing how dusty they were and noting how faded they were on the reverse side. Yeah, they really needed to come down. It felt equally good taking down that super feminine floral border. Two of the walls are now painted with my concocted colour and the third should be done by the end of the weekend. It’s already starting to feel more like home – my home.
You would think that I would be tired of painting already. Nope. I’m not even finished this job and I’m already thinking of what to do with my magenta coloured living room. It will likely end up a sage green colour. Room by room I will lay claim to this home and make it mine!
We noticed yesterday that Cleo’s chrysalis had changed from a pale emerald green to black and finally it became transparent. After many observations where nothing much was happening, Cleo finally emerged from his chrysalis with an eager audience watching. D saw him plop out and alerted the rest of us. By the time I got there Cleo’s wings were still crumpled but quickly and miraculously expanding.
I had great hopes that this time we had a girl. My hopes were dashed this morning when Cleo opened up fully for the first time. The tell-tale spots were there meaning that Cleo is male.
We tried putting him outside yesterday to see if he would open up and take flight. I guess it was too late in the day because he stayed put. (Apparently butterflies will not fly at night.) We tried again this morning and this time Cleo opened and closed his wings many times for us to see just how amazing a creature he is. He is now hopefully on route to Mexico.
The boys are a bit disgusted that I named the caterpillar Cleo. That was an O.K. name as long as I thought we were having a girl. Now that it is definitely a boy, D and P are insisting that I change the name. P’s routing for Dewey. I’m sticking with Cleo.