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Sometimes the boys laugh at me and say that if everyone in the world was like me, we’d still be living in caves. It’s true. I’m rather primitive technologically. I tend to marvel at the gadgets people invent and market, knowing that never in a million years would I have come up with such inventions. If we were living in a caves though, I know that mine would be clean, well-organized and would have good flow. It would be decorated with the best nature provided. My big contribution to humanity would likely be caveman paint (in many hues with far-flung names!) and swanky caveman art adorning the walls of my tidy abode.
D’s bent in life is science-related. If left to his own devices, you can often find him tinkering with stuff. He loves to imagine and build. It’s fun for him to concoct and experiment. He watches science-type shows and is drawn to science-type books. Just as artistic expression is deeply rooted in the fabric of my being, science is in his. If we were living in a cave, he’d be the cave kid that would invent better hunting tools, better cooking implements, better everything. That’s who he is.
P is very drawn to the computer. He loves the challenge of reaching the next level and getting the highest score. He’s not hugely drawn to books but he’ll happily read anything that helps him improve his game. He’s amazingly fluent in computer game lingo. It seems to come easily and naturally to him because it is what he is naturally drawn to. It’s foreign and rather unattractive to me. Back at the cave, I could see him being a mighty hunter. If the cave kid next door speared three rabbits in an hour, P would rise to the challenge and do whatever it took to beat the record and get four. That’s so like him.
Why am I thinking like this? Sometimes I look at the boys’ schoolwork and get discouraged. It looks sloppy to me. It looks like they put very little effort into composition and presentation. Their work doesn’t appeal to my natural bent. Then I take some time to remember that they have natural bents too and those natural attractions will help them make contributions in the future that a neat, orderly, artistic person like myself could never make. It takes all kinds in life, even kinds like D and P that are not very much like me.
The above photos show how my cards have been turning up this week. For those of you who can’t read cards, this is the story: “strong woman” (that’s me sporting a tuque and a glowing halo!) in “the snowy driveway” with “a trusty shovel”. It has snowed four out of the last five days and is still snowing even as I type! The banks at the end of the driveway are now taller than I am! If it keeps snowing at this rate I think I will develop “Popeye arms” by the time spring rolls around!
The turning over of the cards and the concocting of tales using them turned out to be pretty fun and funny. D turned up “Bob” in “Chateau de Scary” with a “postage stamp”. P got “Jaws” in a “tree” with “cups of poison tea”. These are the stories that came out of the cards:
Bob is a boy with an egg head. Bob is able to run 2 miles an hour. He has won no racing medals. He has a huge brain and is able to do hard math questions like 2 plus 2. Bob is 3.8 feet tall and has no hair.
Bob won a trip to Chateau de Scary . When he arrives, no one’s there so he enters Chateau de Scary. He heads to the library not knowing that all around him there are Hitler’s monkey guards. All of a sudden, they walk up to him ready to attack.
Bob remembers he has a large stamp in his pocket. He takes it out and gives it a mighty lick, then throws it at the two monkeys. The second it hits them, they are stuck together and paralized.
Jaws is a two ton mouth of a snapper wapper which comes from the planet x. Jaws will eat anything. His bite is 600 pounds. Before he eats you he will cut you in half. Since he has no teeth, he swallows you. His arch-enemy is Godzilla.
Jaws goes back home only to meet Godzilla. The giants battle at the top of a really small tree. Jaws takes a bite out of Godzilla but slips and is about to fall.
Godzilla goes in for the kill. Jaws tries to think but has no brain. Just then, he sees a cup of tea – but no ordinary tea- it was poisoned. Godzilla is going to take his final bite. Godzilla opens his mouth. Jaws pours the poison tea into Godzilla’s mouth. It kills him instantly.
Not bad. The boys followed the instructions well and had little trouble thinking of a way the red card item could be used to save the protagonist. Their writing may not be excellent yet but at least they are getting more comfortable putting their ideas on paper. Good writing has to start somewhere!
I think we reached another milestone today. We pulled out the odd assortment of skates (I always buy a few different sizes of near mint condition skates over the summer at garage sales for bargain prices) and tried them on with the intent of finding the local community centre that houses an arena and exercising our skating prowess. P tried on a really nice pair of Bauers but declared them too small. It was hard for me to believe. They looked big enough for my feet. I gave them a try and sure enough they were just my size. Yup. P’s feet are now bigger than my own. He moved up to the swanky Nike’s and I decided to claim the Bauer’s for myself. D was happy with the CCM’s. We’re all happy. P may have bigger feet than me but I’m still taller (for now!).
By the way, we did find the arena (I only had to ask for directions once) and we all did quite well in our new skates. It was my first time using boy’s skates. Believe it or not, up until now I have been using the same skates I bought when I was 12 years old. It’s time for something a little newer. The Bauers looked cool and I managed to stay upright though it was a bit tough considering I’m used to those little pricks at the front of the blade (which aren’t there on boy’s skates). I would have liked to have posted a picture of all of us happily skating but I forgot to bring the camera! Guess I was still marvelling at how big P’s feet have gotten when we left.
D and P are not fond of writing. If you ask them, they will emphatically tell you that they hate writing. I happen to think that writing, and doing it well, is an important life skill and so my poor boys are given writing assignments. At first reading of such assignments my serious mother heart sighs. A lot of the time it’s hard to keep my eyes from rolling. D and P revel in making any writing project as silly as they possibly can.
This week, as part of a grammar exercise on adjectives, they had to write a newspaper article describing a local wedding. I decided to go ahead with this one just to see what they would come up with. They didn’t disappoint me. One had the bride wearing a dress with ripped sleeves and the closing song to the ceremony “I’m a cow, hear me moo, I weigh twice as much as you and I look good on a barbecue”. If I was smart, I would have commented, “How very original!” I think I just went with the typical eye rolling response. The other had the bride in a brown sort of dress with a train two million miles long and the ceremony ending with a super loud chorus of “I hate Barney”. I should of said, “Wow! There must have been some special on brown material to have a train that long!” Instead my eyes went on auto pilot and continued to roll.
Yesterday, we finished the grammar section on modifiers so I decided to switch gears and let the boys do some creative writing. I gave each of them 5 yellow cards, 5 blue cards, 5 red cards and a stack of well-read, old Chickadee magazines. They had to cut, paste and name characters on the yellow cards, places on the blue cards and things on the red cards. They had a blast doing this part and judging from some of the things they put on their cards, I anticipate some pretty original goofy stories. The next step is to put all the cards face down and draw one from each pile. When they draw the yellow card they have to write a paragraph about the character. After drawing the blue card, they have to write down what the character did in that setting, leaving him/her/it in trouble. Whatever is on the red card is the item the character uses to get out of the dilemma. I was sitting next to P as he was cutting, pasting and labelling. Personally, I am hoping that the cards turn up “Mr. Atomic Eyeball” in the “mail bag” with the “gift wrapped watermelon”. It should make for one wing-dinger of a tale!
Eeyore, the old grey Donkey, stood by the side of the stream, and looked at himself in the water. “Pathetic,” he said. “That’s what it is. Pathetic.” He turned and walked slowly down the stream for twenty yards, splashed across it, and walked slowly back on the other side. Then he looked at himself in the water again. “As I thought,” he said. “No better from this side…
Eeyore has long been one of my favourite storybook characters. I can so identify with his melancholic, pessimistic attitude. The word “pathetic” came to mind as I walked around the bonfire we tried to build today. I don’t know why I even tried. I have never been very successful at building fires. I wonder if I missed my calling in life. Maybe I should have been a firefighter. It seems that I just have to look at a fire and it starts to go out. I tried hard today, bunching up all the newspaper I could find, stacking the sawed off branches in the firepit, dousing the whole works with lighter fluid a few times over but as usual, my efforts did not amount to much. We managed to get a spectacular flame for a few seconds when more lighter fluid went on but then it was the same old crack, fizzle and smoke scenario. Pathetic it was no matter what angle I looked at it from. (The above photo was my effort at being a bit more optimistic about this idea. The fire looked like this for all of about 30 seconds this morning.)
I have yet to break off a single branch from the tree that fell on our deck yesterday. D and P have really risen to the occasion, hacking and sawing the downed giant with muster. They have lots of energy for a project like this. They did say that people in “olden days” must have been in really good shape, being surprised at how much work it is to cut a tree apart. I’m really proud of them looking at all the progress that has been made getting this mess cleaned up.
My job yesterday was to get on a ladder and pop back in a piece of siding that had popped out and was blowing in the wind. I managed it (although I wasn’t too excited to get on a ladder set on ice in a wind storm.) On the same side of the house, a rain pipe blew down. It’s going to take a larger ladder than the one I own to fix that. Still, it feels good to be able to work together as a family to solve dilemmas. Thankfully, the wind has died down for now, the sun has come out and maybe we’ll have a little time around the more academic part of our day to get at these issues.
There was some excitement today during mathematics. I would like to blog that one or both of the boys had a “eureka moment” and finally understood some difficult math concept that they had been struggling with for some time but today that was not the case. The excitement centered around a loud “whump” noise that we heard above the blustery winds that have been howling all morning. It turned out that the dead tree on the side of the house gave up this morning and fell over. The good thing is that it didn’t hit anything major. The bad thing is that it fell on our deck and did do a little damage.
I have no idea how to get the thing off the deck. Hopefully, some nice neighbour will appear with a chainsaw and we’ll have a lot of firewood nicely cut for the fireplace. I have a feeling it will more likely look like the boys going out the first chance they get to hack off a few limbs with D’s tiny hatchet. After that, I’m sure I’ll get a chance with the tiny hatchet as well. With any luck the noise of our “hatcheting” will carry over the wind and the rain we’ve been getting in abundance, someone will be nosy enough to take a peek at what we are doing, shake their heads at us and then help us out. It’s good to be perpetually optimistic.
P decided to build a domino tower this morning. I had to laugh that he chose the busiest artery in the house for his project. I was relegated to the kitchen and dining room and we were all instructed to walk softly. Heaven forbid that any of us might have to use the washroom. I’m sure that we would have been told to pee in a cup.
P managed to use all 136 dominoes. D calculated (yes! he actually used math during the holidays!) that meant that P had built a tower 68 stories high. D also measured the width of a domino (2.3 cm) and did the math to find out that the tower measured 156.4 cm tall. That wasn’t good enough. He wanted to know how many feet that was. We reasoned that there are about 30 centimetres in one foot. The paper and pencil came out and he figured out that the tower was about 5.2 feet high.
It didn’t stay up long thankfully. I did need to use the washroom, I was a bit tired of treading quietly and I had no intention of looking for a cup to do my business in. Happily, what goes up, does come down (especially when it’s built in such an unstrategic locale!).