Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Seven days in the laundry room makes one weak

I think today I will spend knitting. The rains have begun, so it's a lovely dark, wet day with chilly floors and a sleepy dog, and I am working on Elijah for my sister's son. I think I might do some spinning, too, and maybe a little cross-stitch. I'll just stop by for a half hour and visit with all my projects, see where everybody's at.

When it comes to doling out the relaxation, I think I am more owed than owing. See how my laundry room looks?

I put a gallon of paint on the wall. Unfortunately, I need another gallon to deal with the other half of the room, so my photos all resolutely face the one direction.

This room is also my 'school room' and though some people on this earth have lovely school rooms with lots of coordinated colours and tasteful wicker baskets in cubbies, I am stuck in the wretched teal laundry room, with some kind of weird rubber floor and no practical (or beautiful) storage options.

But we work with what we have, so I'm slowly transforming this space to be more hospitable. We need to WANT to be in there.

More updates will come. My next priority (after today's binge of laziness) will be getting a roll-end of carpet for the laundryschoolroom. It'll make a big difference.

When I started homeschooling (FOUR years ago, good grief) I resisted all pretense to formality. I didn't like the preoccupation that other HS mothers had with their schoolrooms. It felt like playing, to me - like they were more interested in lining up pretty glass jars with paintbrushes in, than they were in facilitating their children's natural tendency towards discovery.

It was a 'baby' and 'bathwater' thing.

Now, with Charlotte starting Grade Four, I've noticed a few things. Firstly, the higher the grade, the more organisation you need. The simple fact is, there is more to cover. The time commitment is greater, the content is more demanding, the child is more inquisitive and both deserves and can handle more detailed information. A kindergartner can be given an important lesson just by handing them scissors and coloured paper, and reading them "One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish". It doesn't keep a nine year-old nearly as busy.

Secondly, the dark, cold, chaotic laundry room just doesn't have the right vibe. The feng shui of the place practically pushes you out of the door physically. It's like a WalMart - the second you walk in, your hips start to hurt, your feet cramp, the fluorescents make your eyelids twitch and you get an irritable headache. That's not good enough for my kids.

Lastly, we keep thinking of it as the 'laundry room'. That is just plain bad prioritising. It can't be 'the laundry room where school happens', it has to be 'the schoolroom where laundry happens'.

So I'm making a schoolroom. It has a map of the world, it has an art line. It has a dictionary and a thesaurus, and a guinea pig. It will have a globe, soon, and a magnetic calendar. It has a weather chart, a planisphere, several compasses and a protractor.

And it will have math, and spelling tests, and hand cramps from writing, and it will have lying-on-the-carpet (when we get one), and listening-to-audiobooks-while-painting, and playing-with-the-guinea-pig, and lying-around-knitting.

So it won't be a place of constriction, or a monument to the mainstream, and it doesn't make me a martinet, or my children droids.

I think I can handle it.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

My Wicked, Wicked Ways

Quite likely, Errol Flynn had something else in mind when he used that title for his memoirs, but it is apt enough to describe me, and my sad, slatternly habits.

It's been a good while since I had a Messy Tuesday post, but that doesn't mean it's been a good while since I had a Messy Tuesday. This is my laundry room. It's meant to be a "Before" picture, but the "After" hasn't arrived yet.

MaƱana, I say.

I was in my old beloved city on the weekend, to bear witness to this:

...the wedding of a young man who was once like a brother to me, to a young woman who seems very promising indeed.

Weddings always make me cry, and not because they're happy occasions. They make me cry because those two are standing at the foot of Everest, squinting optimistically up at the summit. The happy couple is thinking about standing astride the peak, in a heroic pose, with endless sky behind them. When in fact, if they ever DO get there, they will be bruised, bleeding, suffocating and suffering. Marriage is bloody hard work.

This shouldn't be taken in any way as a slight to my husband, by the way.

And anyhow I'm sure the last 13 years have been just as gruelling for him as they have been for me. We love each other like sandwiches, but I think every married person would agree with me that, to make it work, each partner needs a level of perseverance and dedication that few newlyweds are prepared for.

But hey - marriage is the ultimate 'learn as you go' activity...second only to parenting, I'd say. We're all works in progress. Which brings me to my closing photo - a progress shot. It's not really After, it's more During, but improvement is noticeable.

See? anyone can change.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

something and nothing

I went to see Inception last week. It was odd - a cross between Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Matrix, and Vanilla Sky. A pretty good movie, as Hollywood movies go, but sadly the last moment of the film was far, far too obvious and I saw it coming from miles away.

I'm so disappointed when that happens. I want to be totally shocked by the end of a movie, you know? I want to have NO idea. Like Memento, or Shattered. I like books like that, too - books where I can't see It coming: where the writer outsmarts me.

Speaking of books, I have some things to review. I have read a biography of Peter Elliott Trudeau, the entire repertoire of David Eddings, Atlas Shrugged, a bunch of Miss Read books, and a Martha Stewart guide to needlecraft. I feel tempted, here, to give two adjectives for each book and call them reviewed, but instead I'll write proper posts for them. Except the Eddings, because those are old friends, reread for the umpteenth time.

Nearly time for school to start, amazingly.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Eminem is for next year

My six year old is walking around, snapping her fingers on the backbeat and singing:

"Ra ra ra-ah-ah
Roma, Ro-ma-mah
Gaga, ooh la la
Want your bad ro-mance!"

This reminds me of a dreadful afternoon when we were fifteen and my best friend was babysitting the pastor's three year-old. We were at our wits' end trying to stop her from singing something she had picked up (from us) during the course of the afternoon but, try as we might, the girl insisted on belting this out at the top of her lungs:

"If you're gonna do it
Do it right
Right, do it with me!"*

You would have thought that day would have taught me prudence, would have taught me to be careful what music I played when kids were present, but apparently not. It wasn't even two years later when my little four year old cousin, whose family I was rooming with during university, left my bedroom and wandered down the hall warbling

"Gimme gimme gimme a man after midnight
won't somebody help me chase these shadows away!"

Children will hang you, for sure.

Some people might think it's strange that I don't let my children watch Disney movies, but they sing Lady Gaga songs. I think it a bit odd, myself, but I'm willing to live with it.

I might also be counting on them finding Lady Gaga incomprehensible.

Plus I always clear my throat loudly if they happen to be in the room when she says "And baby when it's love if it's not rough it isn't fun."

I'm up for the 2010 Parent-of-the-Year award, didn't I tell you?

Wow, I'm old. And this photo is
pretty dodgy for a promo shot.
See the optical illusion, there?

* I'm not sure what's worse: the horrible lip-synching or the weird pre-show-show with the - what is he, Italian? - cinema employee. No, wait: I have it. The worst part of this whole video is when George Michael plays the tambourine on his crotch.

Sunday, August 01, 2010

Thank you, cows.

Here's what's making me happy today.

Butter gets a bad rap sometimes, what with all the finger-pointing about heart disease and so on, but as far as I'm concerned it's food, and margarine isn't.

So now my butter has a beautiful red house to live in, before it meets my toast.