Sunday, January 21, 2007

Before bed

This photo shows the swath of chaos that is typically in place when we head off to bed on the far side of midnight:
  1. Fiction readaloud (in this case, historical fiction "Stowaway" by Karen Hesse, about Captain Cook's first voyage of discovery)
  2. Non-fiction readaloud ("Why Handel Waggled his Wig")
  3. The beginnings of a hand-carved wooden spoon by Sophie
  4. Pencil crayons left over from the colouring in Fiona's math book
  5. Noah's socks. They come off everywhere; definitely not a bedtime-specific behaviour!
  6. Roll of scotch tape. Can't have too many of these around.
  7. Youngest child asleep on the floor, just before being carried to bed
  8. Wood shavings everywhere!
  9. Atlas, for looking up stuff from "Stowaway" ... and spawning further tangential discussions
  10. A birch block upon which Noah has been experimenting with gouging techniques
  11. The swiss army knife that started all this wood-carving obsession
  12. A hazelwood branch, the beginnings of a wooden letter-opener
  13. Coping saw, for roughing wood blanks to the desired shape for carving
  14. Noah's Lee Valley carving set in its box
  15. "The Little Book of Whittling" by Lubkemann, a terrific book
  16. A box of project wood from various sources, both milled scraps and wood from the forest
  17. The fireplace/wood stove insert, the gathering-place for all this activity and mess
The last chunk of the day right before bed is my favourite time of day with the kids, and their favourite time of day with me too. It's no wonder our bedtime creeps later and later if we don't take some serious initiative in reining it in!

Generally our late evenings begin with Noah's math. He has decided that he wants to 'catch up' in math this year. Not catching up as in "matching his grade level to his age" but catching up as in "going through some bookwork systematically to the point where his mastery of symbols and computation matches his conceptual level." So he's picked up the Singapore Math books again and with 10 or 15 minutes a few nights a week has worked his way through the Grade 4 and much of the Grade 5 stuff in the past two or three months. He likes this time, though he sometimes struggles with the transitioning from whatever he was involved in before. He usually grabs some hot chocolate, and Fiona and Sophie often join him in a warm drink. Sometimes one of them will decide to quietly work on some math or similar bookwork too.

We might have a brief break for a snack, and then we start our readalouds. The first one is always non-fiction. Recently we've been working our way through Steven Isserlis' wonderful biographies of Handel, Haydn and Schubert from his book "Why Handel Waggled his Wig". Next up are the Groundwood Guides to "Being Muslim", "Climate Change" and "Empire." After we finish our non-fiction du jour, we pick up our current novel. Right now we're working through Kevin Crossley-Holland's terrific "Arthur" trilogy. While I read that Fiona will often curl up on the couch or the floor and fall asleep. Noah and Sophie will often grab carving tools and whittle and gouge and carve away, creating shavings everywhere.

Sometimes reading aloud ends when we all get too tired to go on. But very often it evolves into a long discussion about something or other that then veers off on incredible tangents. Did I mention this is my favourite time of day?


  1. Now I really do feel inferior! By late at night I've had enough of being a Mum. Whenever do you get your "me time??". When do you get to just chill and do your own thing?

  2. LOL! Well, I chill and do my own thing in snatches through the day, but ideally also first thing in the morning for an hour or so. Not always, as Fiona has been falling asleep earlier than me and waking up with me recently. But usually that's how it works.

  3. One of my sons started whittling last summer, an interest that stopped once he started school in late August. He has recently decided to pursue this interest again, now that he is officially a homeschooler. Thanks for posting this... we are now off to research books and tools!


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