Consider him regsistered

This is Registration Day for all the kids who will attend Primary (Kindergarten, to those outside of Nova Scotia) next year at our local school. And that's exactly what we would have done with Henry today, if we were planning on sending him to school. We're not. We're homeschooling.


Take a minute, if you need.

We're all very excited about it, including Henry. We've been thinking about it and planning for years. And yes, we've thought of all of the things that you're "but, what about..."-ing in your heads. We'd just really like our kids to learn at their own speeds, in their own time, with us.

We were going to make a big deal out of registering him as a homeschool student today, just to join in the ceremony of it all. But, the province hasn't yet posted the 2009 registration forms online. So we let Henry pick the food for our Registration Day Supper (pancakes). Oh yes, and we made a point of telling you about it.

Conversation with a five-month old

Alice took her first ride the other day in the jolly jumper. She jumped. She shrieked. She twisted. She laughed. It was hilarious.

I think, more than the fun ride, she liked being being on level footing with her big brother and sister. They jumped, shrieked and twisted right along with her.

After she finished, I sat her on my lap. She told me all about it.

Alice: (eyes wide) Eeeya!

Me: What's that?

Alice: (bouncing and kicking her little legs) Eeya!

Me: Really? You bounced?

Alice: Eeeeya!

Me: And jumped?

Alice: EEEEYA!

Me: And kicked and shrieked? All by yourself?

Alice: Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeya!

Me: Sounds like lots of fun!

Alice: eeya.

Comfort Food?

Lately, when Jane is embarrassed or sad, she hides. Usually she carves out a little nook of pillows beside the couch. Sometimes she builds herself a little shame tent out of blankets. Occasionally, she ducks under the table.

Today at lunch, she reminded herself of an incident earlier in the day where she accidentally knocked over a dish and broke it. It was in no way her fault, but she felt pretty bad. Even the memory made her feel guilty.

Jane: I broke bowl. I sorry.

Me: It's OK, sweetie. It was an accident.

Under the table she went.

We tried to coax her out over the next couple of minutes. After a while, a hand shot up over the edge of the table like a periscope. It skillfully guided itself to Jane's plate, grabbed a piece of cheese, and retreated to its hiding place under the table.

Erin: I think she may be feeling a bit better.

Getting dumped

Several years ago, when we lived in Fredericton, Erin made one of her best-ever purchases: 3 big bags of buckwheat husks. At the time, I wondered out loud why anyone would need so much of something I'd never heard of before.

Erin: It'll be useful. Just wait.

So I waited. And every time we moved (from Fredericton to Leamington, from Leamington to Iqaluit, from Iqaluit to Saint John, from Saint John to Sydney...), I kept my wondering to myself.

But, as promised, the husks have proven to be very useful. Erin has stuffed almost every soft toy she's ever made with it. It's light and sturdy, and the animals keep their shape forever without getting mooshy or smelly.

This morning while I was at work, Erin had a couple of mums over with their kids. It was blissful mayhem, by all accounts. Both of the visiting kids are just one-year old, and both of their mums worried that they'd be into our stuff, making a mess. Jane ended up being the real culprit.

Right before everyone arrived, Erin walked upstairs to get something. She entered the room where she keeps her craft supplies and found Jane standing in the middle of the room. Her one arm was wrapped around the last-remaining bag of buckwheat husks. The tie that (formerly) kept it shut had come loose. Husks slowly poured on the floor, scattering to the four corners of the room.

Jane: What this stuff, Mum? It messy.

Simple pleasures

Erin: Wow. The sky is beautiful right now.

Me: Which guy?

Erin: (pause) Sigh.

A few moments later...

Erin: Do you just sit around waiting for me to make reference to the sky?

Me: You ask like it's a bad thing.

Middle child never wins

As I prepared this morning's oatmeal, I heard small feet padding down the stairs. It was Jane.

Poor Jane is feeling very much the neglected middle child these days. We try to celebrate her as much as we can, but she is so darn undemanding and independent. I decided to give her morning a boost.

Me: Ladies and Gentlemen! May I pleeeeeease draw your attention to the one, the only JANE! WOOOO!

Her sleepy eyes brightened as she entered the kitchen. Feeling like a celebrity, she pumped one arm in the air.

Jane: Yay! (dropping the heap of clothes she was carrying to the floor) I bringed my own clothes!

Me: Alright! (chanting) Jane! Jane! Jane! Jane! Jane...

She started dancing, in the spotlight at last.

Jane: (reaches down, grabs her t-shirt and throws it triumphantly in the air) Wheeeee!

This is when life turned to slow motion. The pink shirt sailed through the air, pausing briefly at the apex of its travels. I watched in horror as it tumbled, shirt over tail, toward the pot of oatmeal. That's where it landed: half in the pot, half draped over the side, just barely touching the hot stove element.

Me: (diving) NOOOOOOOOOO!

I snatched the shirt from its flammable perch. I was fast enough to stop a fire. Not fast enough to stop my reaction.

Me: Jane! We never ever throw things in the kitchen! You know the rule! That could have started a fire!

Jane's eyes faded from celebratory pools of bright emerald green to dull, guilty puddles of stagnant pond water. And that water was leaking out in tears.

We hugged for a long time. She eventually felt better and had a great morning. Still, I think it's time for a daddy-daughter date.

Sledding down Hospital Hill (in 20 steps)

1. Here we go!
2. Coasting.
3. Getting faster.
5. I really like this.
6. I'm free!
8. Um...
9. We're going very fast.
10. Faster than I anticipated.
11. OH, CRAP.
12. What's going to happen when we hit --
14. Ooof!
15. (uncontrollable laughter)
16. You're ok?
17. (uncontrollable laughter)
18. I'm ok?
19. (uncontrollable laughter)
20. Again!

Snow worries

Me: (for the millionth time) Henry! Stop eating snow! It's full of car exhaust and dog pee.


A fond Christmas memory

The Christmas my twin brother and I were 12 or 13 was a violent one. Wrapped and waiting under the tree for John was an air rifle. For me, it was a hunting sling shot.

After the carnage of opening presents, we had a big family breakfast. From then until supper, John and I were outside, shootin' stuff.

The rifle was the real prize. I liked my sling shot, but I couldn't hit anything with it.

John: Can you hit the side of the barn from here?

Me: Ha. Watch me.

(I shoot. I miss.)

Me: I guess not.

We traded them back and forth, both us us impatiently wanting to be the guy with the gun. We put a lot of holes in pop cans. It was boy heaven. Then John got bored.

John: (pumping the gun to prepare for a shot) You'd better run.

By this, I knew he meant he was going to shoot me*. The gun took ten pumps to prime. He was at pump three when he gave me his warning. This gave me seven pumps to get as far away as possible.

Oh, how I ran. We were in the field behind the greenhouses. I knew if I could just run around the corner of the first greenhouse I'd be safe. No way would he chase me with the gun. If Mum or Dad saw him, they'd take it back, for sure.

Just as I was about to clear the corner, I turned to see if he was really serious.


He really was.

I do not remember exactly what syllable I screamed out, but I do know that I probably couldn't spell it now, even phonetically. A very small, hurt animal with a big mouth and powerful lungs screamed from the very depth of me (specifically, the flaming red welt that instantly appeared on my thigh).

I still held my sling shot in my left hand. My right hand instinctively reached to the ground and picked up an egg-sized piece of snow. I squeezed it, letting the force and heat of my palm melt it into a perfect projectile.

John: (pumping the gun again) Go ahead! You haven't hit anything all day.

I placed the snow into the leather pocket of the sling. I pulled it back as far as the rubber would allow. I looked through the forked prongs to my brother. I let it go with a curse and a prayer.


I never before or since hit anything with that sling shot. I nailed him square in the forehead, just above the brow line, barely an inch from the bridge of his nose. The blow and surprise threw him on his back in the snow.

Later at Christmas dinner, we had to find some reason why John had a red mark in the middle of his forehead that didn't involve us shooting each other. I wish I could remember what it was.

*I should point out that my brother is not a violent man. He is, in fact, a one of the most gentle men I have ever known. I was, however, very obnoxious. Our childhood was peppered by a series of incidents where I pushed my gentle brother until he snapped. The fact that he shot me tells me I was particularly "on" that day.