Saturday, August 27, 2005

Saturday - Day in the Life

Erin had to leave for her friend's by 10, so she spent the time from 8 to 10 practising violin and piano, and packing her sleepover stuff. The occasion is her unschooled friend J.'s 11th birthday. The girls have been friends since age 5 and they are yin and yang in many respects but the friendship is genuine and close and important to both of them. They live 45 minutes apart, so time together, other than on the fringes of their common musical pursuits, is precious. Today J.'s other close friend S., whom Erin has never met, will be there. The three girls will be floating down the river in inner tubes, hanging out, riding J.'s horse and spending the night camping in a tent.

Some friends of J's and ours who live in town half the year, and in Georgia the other half, were leaving today. They had some things they wanted us to pick up to return to J's family, and we had some borrowed things to return to each other, so we stopped by to say goodbye. They have two unschooled boys, 2 and 7. Picked up stuff, exchanged stuff, said 'bye'.

Then we drove to J's. On the way we listened to part of a great Naxos recording of "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi and Other Tales", which was one of the things we were supposed to be returning to J.'s family on behalf of the departing family. We decided to borrow it ourselves so we could finish it. Spent half an hour at J's house, visiting the horse, looking at photographs of the Suzuki institute that J.'s mom had taken (wonderful!), and looking at what they've been building this summer ... a beautiful timber-framed wood shed with a poured-concrete-and-river-rock foundation.

We left Erin, and the three younger kids and I went to our favourite little independent bookstore. We spoke to the owner for a while, browsed, and walked out with the "Eragon" sequel "Eldest" by Chris Paolini, which we'd pre-ordered, "Wee Free Men" by Terry Pratchett, and a Dover colouring book of Norse Gods and Heroes which Noah was entranced with and wanted to have to keep himself busy on the flight to Ontario next week.

Then we went next door to the funky little café for lunch. This was a little 'treat' because Erin was having fun on her way down the Slocan River in an inner tube. We had a partial family meeting, talking about Sophie's and Noah's practising (something which doesn't require everyone's participation) and having a little preliminary discussion about Erin's obstinate bedtime habits. It turns out neither Sophie nor Noah want to change the bedroom assignments, most especially Noah, who has his own bedroom now but is very much looking forward to having Fiona move in when / if she ever decides to sleep outside of groping distance of her mother's breasts . We will have to see what happens over the course of our holidays. Perhaps that break will give Erin a chance to adopt more reasonable habits without losing face over the current situation. We finished with coffee and chocolate milk and lingered in a leisurely way over our lunch.

We drove home. Fiona had been up quite early and was very tired. She fell asleep in the van. We listened to more Rudyard Kipling. We did a bit of grocery shopping when we got back to our town.

At home, I got busy baking and organizing food for tomorrow's lunch-time entertaining. The kids decided to watch a bit of TV as a 'treat' and turned on a dog agility show which made them laugh a lot. Then they watched a totally innocuous preschool show, Max & Ruby. I don't remember the last time they watched TV ... must be over a month at least. I managed to fake my way through to a nice batch of gluten-free peach muffins. (I forgot to mention that yesterday I did manage to get most of the crate of peaches washed, cut and into the freezer.) I started the rice-pasta salad. The kids had been asking for a new batch of playdough for forever, and I'd been putting them off until we had a kitchen area where they could play with it, so I started that, and they did the cooking and stirring and kneading, and then played with it for at least an hour.

I threw together some supper and we ate in our new dining room.

The kids spent a little time on the computer playing Age of Empires, and a little time outside with the puppy. Sophie found two pears on our pear tree that we didn't know we had! I planted four pear trees the year Noah was born, two Siberians and two very young Ure pears as cross-pollinators. Unfortunately, the Ures were planted along the border of the lawn where it meets the forest, and for the first three years, Chuck kept accidentally mowing them down. (He also mowed one of the Siberians one year :-( ). Anyway, they kept sprouting back, thankfully, and finally I got wise and caged the one Ure that looked like it might make it. While the really good Siberian has been big enough for fruit for at least the past two years, the little Ure wasn't quite big enough to set blossoms this year. But through serendipity two pears seem to have got pollinated anyway ... perhaps a bee had a bit of pollen from somewhere far afield. Next year I expect we'll get a proper crop, because our cross-pollinator has grown really well this summer.

We figured out how to play the card game "Frog Juice." I had bought it a few weeks ago, and the kids had been unable to figure out the confusing instructions, so they'd invented their own version and taken great delight in it. However, Noah asked me to help him figure out the real rules, so, after a lot of reading and laying out of cards and a trial game, we got it (quite simple, really, just poorly explained) and played a couple of games. Sophie joined in and we played again.

Noah did his piano practising. It took two tries, because he had a major meltdown the first time after knowing that there were some wrong notes in a melody he was playing but getting overwhelmed by the written page and collapsing in a fit of insecurity. He sat on the couch feeling badly for quite a while. I came in and talked to him. I explained that he seems to like to get the "big picture" of anything first before he works on the details, but his piano music is getting complex enough that he can't always do that. Now sometimes the details have to come first, before he gets the big picture, and that's hard to get used to. He nodded. He played with Fiona for a while and then I called him back to the piano. He came willingly and did some detail work on the trouble spot, picking it up with no difficulty of course. He felt better and finished his practising.

Neither Sophie nor Noah wanted to do their violin/viola, and given the late hour and my own feelings about it, I decided we'd be best to let it go. I try to make sure they miss less than one practising a week. They've done well for a couple of weeks now, so that's fine.

Noah, Sophie and I did the dishes. I offered to read aloud while they worked, but they said "dishes are too much fun, so we won't be able to pay attention." Huh? Maybe they just wanted to make sure I did a share of the work.

Afterwards they got out their math and printing. This used to be something they took delight in at least 3 or 4 times a week, but it hasn't happened in months. I realized tonight that this routine must have been inextricably bound to the dining room table, which we haven't had proper use of for months. They both did some good math work, and Noah did a lot of printing. Fiona got out the pencil crayons and paper and made F's in every colour of the rainbow. Then she started drawing "guys". A couple of weeks ago she'd begun drawing faces (circle, line for mouth and two dots for eyes). Tonight her "guys" had egg-shaped head/bodies, eyes, noses, mouths, hair, "twoheads" (what Fiona calls foreheads), arms, hands, legs, knees and feet. Noah and Sophie were entranced by her progress and very encouraging.

We read from "The Star of Kazan".

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