And now, a short exposition on the hidden horrors in your home

Desiderius Erasmus (1466/69–1536) in a 1523 po...

According to Horrible Science Mag Issue 6, The Hidden Horrors in Your Home, (bedtime reading right now, lucky me), “the famous writer Erasmus was once a guest at someone’s house. He looked down and saw:

…a collection of spit, vomit, urine of dogs and men, beers, scraps of fish and other filthiness not to be named.

Suddenly, I feel much better about my house. Don’t you? I may be a crappy housekeeper, but the urine of dogs and men (well, male toddlers, anyway) gets mopped up immediately as does the vomit, and while I won’t guarantee the floor’s spit-free (I do have boys in the house after all), there are never scraps of fish on the floor. Score!

In the spirit of celebrating my low standards of housekeeping, I’d like to thank Beth Berry for last week’s post on, 10 Great Ways to Be An Unhappy Mom. #3 is:

Base your contentment on the state of your house. I like a tidy house. I feel more on top of my game, at ease and productive once it is relatively “clean.” But I would have gone insane (and taken everyone with me) if I held onto the idea that I could only be content once everything was “in its place.” Kids exist to dispel this notion. Likewise, feeling the need to apologize for the state of things upon welcoming unannounced visitors is like saying, “I’m sorry you have to see that we live in this house.”  The notion that homes must look like display windows before they are presentable to guests is a crying shame in a culture so starved for community. 

Absolutely. More importantly: compared to your medieval ancestors, no matter how pig-sty-ey your pig-sty might seem to you, it’s comparatively pristine. I say again–score!

English: Erasmus of Rotterdam censored by the ...


My current favourite: The Authoritative New Parents’ Guide to Sex After Children (of course)

SeriousWhen toddlers attack (surviving “That Hitting Things”) • Searching for strategies for Sensitive Seven • Five is hard: can you attachment parent an older child • It’s not about balance: Creating your family’s harmony • 10 habits for a happy home from the house of chaos and permissiveness • The ultimate secret behind parenting: it’s evolution, baby

FunnyFloor peas • The rarest song of all • Sarcasm, lawn darts, and toilets  • What humanitarian really means  • The sacrifices mothers make for their children (Warning: grossness factor uber-high)  • It’s all about presentation  • Anatomy talk, now and forever  • Want to hear all the swear words I know?  • Of the apocalypse, euphemisms and (un)potty training  • Mom? Have you noticed I’ve stopped…  • Poisonous Volvo

And remember, we have a spin-off blog now just on homeschooling: Undogmatic Unschoolers.

Settling Into Fall

I’m in bit of shock that it’s not just the second half of October, it’s the last third of October.

We’ve ended up with pretty minimalist external demands—Orff music for Flora once a week, Tang Soo Do for Cinder twice a week, and they both have just started drama for 8 weeks at Evergreen. And it’s been my deadline lax time of year—about to turn into deadline hell, but I have another week of grace, I think—and still, I don’t think I’ve ever felt time pass so quickly.

Perhaps it’s the gorgeous weather? We’ve been able to be outside so much of September and October.

Our Learning Plan, in which I for the first time ever dared to make some more solid predictions, was out the window
the day I sent it off to the School Board. We briefly left Ancient Greece for Venice with The Thief Lord, but are now back into the realm of the Greek gods—as they morph into Roman ones—courtesy of Rick Riordan’s The Lost HeroBunnicula‘s made a brief reappearance, primarily in early reader form—if there are other fans of the vampire bunny out there, there’s a new series of mini-chapter books James Howe has been writing called Tales from the House of Bunnicula. They’re both fun read alouds and manageable read alones for a Flora (not a Cinder), so we’ve been enjoying those. And back to the Horrible Science mags. Another new thing: Life of Fred the elementary series—this very oddball approach to math through story. Flora loves it; she devoured the first volume, Apples, in a handful of days, and now we’re more slowly reading through Butterflies. (Cinder’s a passive participant; the math is way easy for him, but I think he enjoys some of the silliness.)

I’ve mostly been focusing on creating good morning and meal routines—with various levels of success. We’ve been getting out to walk the dog en mass first thing in the morning (our definition of first thing in the morning: at the crack of anywhere between 9:30 and 11 a.m.), and I’ve been doing the Taco Tuesday/Pizza Friday meal schedule thing pretty consistently. I think I need to do the same thing to lunch. 🙂 Them kids, they just won’t stop eating!

What’s your fall looking like so far? [originally a yahoo group post]

Leaving The Bear Cubs

I’m cuddled in bed with Flora on one side, Cinder on the other, and Ender on the belly, reading Horrible Science, when suddenly, Flora turns up her face and says, “I still haven’t decided if I can forgive you for leaving us for 10 whole days.” I shower her face with kisses. “If you left for three weeks,” she says, “I’d definitely never forgive you.” And tears. “I love you so much mommy, and you’re always with me. How will I sleep without you?”

We talk. We make promises that I will call every day, that we will Skype. Sean sits on the side of the bed and reminds her that Daddy and Cinder will be with her. And first, Grandma and Grandpa will be here too, and then they will drive back to Calgary, and Nana will be there, and Babi and Dziadzia… She nuzzles into my armpit. Soothed, but not relieved; resigned but not consoled.

I’ve never been away from my kids for 10 days. Not for a week. Once for three days, once for two. And I’m struck, suddenly,

Black Bear mother and cubs in den,, hibernating

Black Bear mother and cubs in den,, hibernating (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

by what a rare thing that is these days.

It makes me sad… then, overwhelmingly, incredibly happy. Sad that it’s a rare thing—that between broken marriages, shared holidays, demanding jobs and the general whacky scheduling that defines our culture what my kids take for granted, having both of their parents present in their lives most of the time is a rarity for most children. And outrageously happy that this rare thing is true for my children, that it is their “normal,” that they take it for granted—that they don’t have a sense that they are lucky or unusual or privileged, but that they think this is the way things are and ought to be.

(When do I write? As almost always, when they are asleep, this time, uncharacteristically, before they wake. And this piece, which was to be much longer, ends here, interrupted by a hug—Cinder wandered out of bed, looked out the window at the blackbirds feeding en masse on the lawn, took a picture, climbed into my lap for a cuddle, asked where his siblings were—“They’re still sleeping, you’re the first one up today”—and went back to bed. But my train of thought is broken, I type out a couple of lame paragraphs that don’t follow through on the beginning, delete them. Just as well, here comes Flora, displacing the computer in my lap. She cuddles into me and starts singing the Transformers’ song. And now I hear Ender making “I’m about to wake up noises… the morning interlude is over.)

Internal Organs On The Ceiling

The heart and stomach still on ceiling. Lungs, intestines and brains have come down. So has the leech–watch out, Babi. It’s coming over on Friday.

Perhaps I should explain. Earlier this month, a momentous event in Austen and Flora’s homeschooling adventure took place: Babi smuggled across the American border two suitcases of Horrible Science and Horrible Histories magazines. OK, she didn’t exactly smuggle them: these are UK publications that are not available in Canada. But, Ray at Horrible Books in San Diego, California, periodically brings them in for US clients. Unfortunately, Ray’s reluctant to ship to Canada (he’s weird. It’s an American thing). But he’ll ship to New York and so, on her April trip to New York, instead of coming back with a suitcase full of Park Avenue goodies, Babi had to leave her undies behind in order to deliver 80 issues of Horrible Science and 80 issues of Horrible Histories to her grandchildren. What a good grandma. (I don’t think she really left her undies behind. I just put that in because it’s very late at night and I’m light-headed and delirious.)

The magazines came with all sorts of goodies, including rubber internal organs. It was just a matter of time before Austen and Flora would discover they attached to walls… and the ceiling… 

Of Brains And Cartilage

Cinder to Ender: I’m going to try to transfer you to the taco station [wrapping in blanket] without breaking any of your bones… SUCCESS! This is why a baby’s skeleton is made of cartilage, Ender–to minimize big-brother-caused breakage…


Cinder to Flora [as they take their Horrible Science Plaster of Paris brain out of its cast]: See, Flora, Ender’s brain just about this big. I mean, small. That’s why he can’t talk yet.