Archive for September, 2008

fiddling around

Asher is an aspiring fiddle player. He had one teacher he loved, so of course she moved across the county after a year. We found another and he didn’t love her so much. Then we spent a year letting him recover from the crappy teacher and me recover from him and looking for a good teacher. Fiddle teachers are not a dime a dozen.

I finally found one, a young guy. I figured that might work. This week was lesson the third. Asher announced when we got in the car that he wasn’t going to his fiddle lesson. He hates fiddle. He never wants to take lessons ever again. Guitar! How about guitar? I pointed out that one also has to practice to learn guitar too, and go to lessons. Yes, said the boy, but guitar would be fun. He hates fiddle. It is too hard. He hates practicing. He hates his new teacher (who turns out to be somewhat terrifyingly strict at moments).

I dragged him into the lesson and he actually appeared to have fun, but renewed his rant the moment we left. This, I figured, was a bad bad sign. All the way home he complained. I sulked. He’s actually good at fiddle. I like fiddle music. I selfishly want him to continue. He nagged me for an entire year to find him a new teacher and I found him one. Enough already.

I sulked through dinner, answering in monosyllables. Unpacking stuff, I picked up his fiddle, put his bow in my hand properly – not easy, you know – and had a little go. Asher walked up to me. I said, “If you don’t want to play any more, maybe I should just learn this myself.”

He stared at me in what can only be described as utter shock and said with bafflement, “I don’t want to quit.” My jaw literally dropped open.

“Was this all about being hungry?” I asked. “Now that you’ve had dinner, all is good again?”

He shrugged. “I dunno.” Then he said sternly, “I just know I am not quitting.”

They sure know how to screw with your mind, these little beasts.

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maya is my favourite child

I love maya the best. My other children just can’t live in her path. she’s just to amazing. maya is everything i have ever wanted. asher has his ups and downs boo has her downs and ups. but maya just has ups. she is the smartist in the family. she is perfect. we got a dog for ashers birthday but actually it was really for maya. we are taking the kids to cirque de soleil because we knew maya would like it. she is special. i wish some day i could be as smart, beautifull, amazing, great, wonderfull, perfect, awsome, excellent and spectacular as maya!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Turns out Maya knows the names I use for the kids on my blog. And recognizes the blog template page. I came to the computer to find this left for me. My favourite bit is that she only has ups. My second favourite is the unintentional humour in her statement that she is the ‘smartist’ in the family.

For the record, she is – as I always tell her – my very favourite eldest child and oldest girl. She’s even my favourite 12-year-old. And now she’s my favourite guest blogger.

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I went to physiotherapy today for my hip. I don’t know if I have complained about my hip here yet. It’s just one damn thing after another, anyway. The hip hurts. The doctor thinks it is tendonitis so off I went to physio. It was a bit depressing giving the nice, perky young physiotherapist my history. It got more depressing when she stuck me on the exercise bike. I liked the bike. It was one of those spinny ones, so it kicked up a nice breeze as I pedalled. But the bike is placed in front of a large mirror, in which I saw a fat middle-aged woman. A fat, middle-aged woman with lots of health problems. I do not know where that woman came from. Blech.

I do know she’s a bad mother, because she’s introduced her boy to the Terminator movies. And series, for that matter. What kind of mother does that when they say right on them as you load them up PG14 or some such thing?

I didn’t mean to get him hooked. I was just watching one evening and he snuck down and watching with me, suddenly popping up at a particularly violent moment, “This is cool!” I thought to myself, if he likes this, he’ll love Arnie*.

I did show a shred of parental responsibility and didn’t show him Terminator I. I have a remarkable ability to forget the details of movies, but I did manage to remember the naked sex scene in that movie. The second one, I remembered, was aimed at a younger audience. More cartoony violence and no sex. Once we were watching it, I realized that I’d forgotten all the swearing, but sadly, they didn’t say anything Asher hasn’t already heard out of my own mouth. Bad mom, remember?

We watched it on one of those web site where you can (illegally, I think) download and watch movies. Kinda fuzzy, but the basic point is made. We then moved on to Terminator III, which we’ve been having more trouble downloading, so we’ve been watching bits of it for days. In between, we watched more of the series, ensuring that Asher is thoroughly confused. I had to draw pictures to explain the baffling timeline.

It is 6:43 pm and time to go feed the kids. (Bad mom, remember?) Actually, there is some method to this madness, which is that Boo, in particular, is so busy playing outside that she will very reluctantly come in, eat about three bites, declare herself stuffed and run off again. Then, when I bring her in to get ready for bed, she’ll be starving and demand all kinds of food. Of course, I could go all strict-mom on her and tell her that she eat now or never, but then I have to face the huge tantrums and the complication that my kids all eat bedtime snacks and, what, am I now going to just ban her because I’d said two hours earlier eat now or never but the others get to eat then and now? So instead, I’m just feeding them all right before the grand bedtime ritual begins. There is method to my madness, I swear. Really.


*Schwarzenegger, for those not in the know. And yes, I googled how to spell his last name.

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When I picked up the kids yesterday, Maya informed me that in one of her classes, the rabbi was talking about the shofar. This is a ram’s horn which is blown during Rosh Hoshanah and Yom Kippur. It sounds kind of like a rough trumpet. The rabbi asked the class what the sound of the shofar reminded them of.

This rabbi has taught this grade previously, so you’d think he’d have the experience to know not to ask as question like that, but he didn’t. And so one of Maya’s classmates (whose father and, I believe, grandmother, both read this blog) put up his hand and told his teacher that the shofar reminded him of his uncle in the bathroom.

Maya then told me that the new High School Musical is coming out in theatres in October. Oh, how exciting! She and her friend have already planned to go. Good, I thought, I’ll just be able to drop them off and run away. Then Asher said, all excited, “It’s coming in October? Already?” And my mommy brain calculated two things very quickly. One, Asher loves High School Musical and will want to go and two, Maya won’t agree to have him go with her. This adds up to three: I’ll be seeing the movie after all.

I heaved a sigh just as Maya informed Asher that he will not be accompanying her. “L’s brother wants to go too,” she said, “And we aren’t letting him, either.” Oo, how exciting. L’s brother, T is in Asher’s grade. They aren’t good friends, but they hang out sometimes. Maybe they could go together.

“Hey!” I said, “Asher, you aren’t the only boy in your grade in the closet about High School Musical.”

“Mom,” Asher said, in his ‘aren’t you silly’ tone of voice, “T and I aren’t in the closet about High School Musical.” You aren’t? I thought. But he went on, “T doesn’t care if people know.” Ah, meaning Asher carries this little secret alone. High School Musical, here I come!

I could try and make J go, but I’m already in his debt for letting Boo acquire more Rainbow Magic books since she first became obsessed over two Asher got her at a book sale. They look like this:

There appear to be a never-ending supply of then – weather fairies and animal fairies and fairies for each day. Every damn book is the same. Two girls, Rachel and Kirsti, must help some fairy get something back – a puppy, a weather feather, etc – from the evil Jack Frost and his ugly goblins. This usually involves having them become fairy-sized and some point and also very grateful, simpering fairies.

It’s all cuteness and sweetness and friendliness. After I read one to Boo while Maya was around, Maya said afterwards, “My teeth hurt.” They are painful to read, and usually it is J who is suckered into the job, since I am already reading The Thief Lord to the older children at bedtime.

Zach Efron will be my punishment.

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We had Boo’s birthday party today. She’s been 6 for almost a month. I’m not actually completely unable to get it together (actually, I am, but this isn’t part of the proof). We just like to have her party in September, when people are actually around. As it was, it was a fairly small party – 4 girls and 5 boys. She doesn’t like boys or play with them, your understand. Except for Zachary, David, Noah, etc.

We went for a trampoline party. They got to do lots of jumping. Then, and this was what sold it for her, she got strapped into a big harness that didn’t actually fit that well, and reverse bungeed into the air. Does it get any more fun that this, I ask? No, it does not.

It made me queasy just to watch.

Having survived the dangerous part of the party, we retired to the ‘party room’ where we had cake and watched J attempt to put into action the newest addition to his magic show repertoire, balloon animals. He attempt to make a monkey and after the fourth balloon broke, yelled, “Who wants a sword?” The kids were smart and all agreed swords were good, and got them with no more balloon animal deaths.


Other than that, my weekend has involved knitting. The arrival of fall weather (which then made a full retreat today) put me in the knitting frame of mind. Soapstone is summer and knitting is winter. Knitting kind of got interrupted last year, after February, because by the time my hands worked well enough to knit, it was spring and back to soapstone.

My mother got ahold of a great pile of oiled wool. This stuff hasn’t had the lanolin, or some such thing, taken out of it and so is heavy and waterproof. It has quite a strong, distinctive odour too, like sheep (clean sheep) and earth, maybe. I like it, my kids do not. Anyway, we’ve decided to knit fisherman’s knit sweaters for all the ungrateful children (hoping the smell will wash out somewhat). She started on the cousins and on Friday brought me wool to start on mine.

Maya didn’t like what my mom had done for her cousin – too busy – so I modified the pattern to be less busy and take out some bobbles I hated, and started on one for Boo. If Maya likes that one, I might put the effort into one for her. Knitting with wool that heavy isn’t easy. This is how far I’ve gotten. The picture isn’t really as badly lit as it seems. The yarn isn’t dyed and is a natural wooly beige.

Starting the sweater reminded me that I hadn’t finished a pair of mitts I was making for myself out of the same stuff, only I’m thrumming them for extra warms. So I ditched the sweater last night and worked on the mitts instead.

Both of these things have pushed aside the socks I’ve had kicking around all summer. I decided to knit them toe-up, which isn’t very common, and have kind of been winging it. I knit much of one before I decided I didn’t like how the toe fit and started again. This is how far I’ve gotten. Having people guess what it is is the most fun part of these. The funniest guess came from J’s uncle, who figured I was going for knit condoms.

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Politics. It’s oh-so-much fun to be a Canadian these days, because we not only can amuse ourselves with the American election, but we have one of our very own going on too.

There four candidates running in our riding. A Conservative one, a Liberal one, an NDP and a Green. There might be more. I’m always surprised when I get the ballot to see the Communist party or something on there, but basically, there’s those four.

Maya asked me who I was going to vote for. I told her, “Well, I hate the Conservatives, so not him. The Conservatives actually are the most supportive of Jewish causes, but since they are evil in every other regard, they are definitely out. But he’s the sitting MP and likely to win. I’m probably closest in philosophy to the NDP, but they are rabidly anti-Israel and anti-Jew lately, so that rules them out. I’m probably closer to the Greens than the Liberals, but the Greens have no hope of winning. So if the Liberal shows any possibility of beating the Conservative, I’ll likely vote Liberal to do what I can to unseat the Conservative. But if it looks like the Conservative has it all tied up, I’ll vote Green, just to shore up their support.”

She said, “Did you get the binder dividers I need for school?” I’d clearly lost her long before. She, no doubt, expected a one-word answer.

Voting in Canada is further confused by the fact that you are, in essence, voting for two people at once. By voting for the Conservative candidate in your riding, you are also voting for the leader of that party, because the party that gets the most candidates elected forms the government. So a lot of people face the dilemma of really liking the local candidate for one party, but hating that party’s leader, or visa versa. It’s a complicated choice.

The Americans, by contrast, seem to have it pretty easy. Vote Obama or vote McCain. Better yet, those two parties are light-years apart in policy, which should make it even easier in my view. So I was amazed when I popped over to one of my favourite mommy blogs, Notes from the Trenches, the other day. The blogger, Chris, who I find to be funny and articulate and the possessor of a remarkably clean house despite having 7 children living in it, admitted that she hadn’t a clue which party to vote for. Nobody excites her. The post has almost 200 comments on it, most saying they feel exactly the same way. As a Canadian, I was really surprised. I had no idea there were Americans out there with that problem.

I can understand feeling like they are all just lying politicians, although I still think that the possibility of America actually having a black guy in the white house is still kind of exciting. But I can’t get not knowing who to vote for in that election, because the two parties are so utterly different. One is anti-reproductive rights, the other pro-choice; one hates gay people, the other sometimes even lets them get married; one thinks every citizen deserves affordable health care, the other, well, doesn’t; one wants to tax the richest citizens to provide things like health care, the other likes to give tax cuts to the richest. The choice just seems so easy.

It would seem to me that it all comes down to deal-breakers. Most women I know have very strong opinions on reproductive rights, for example. Either they believe that they have absolute say over their own bodies or they believe life begins at conception and abortion is murder. Either way, abortion is pretty much a deal-breaker. Gay rights is a deal-breaker for my gay friends. So how can the American choice between Republican and Democrat be so difficult?

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We survived another curriculum night. Do all schools have these? Each teacher from each class gets about 15 minutes to tell us all about the upcoming year. Since our kids also take Jewish stuff, it’s quite a list. Maya’s classes, if I remember correctly, are: English, French, Hebrew, Jewish history, Jewish ethics, Science, Geography/History, Torah and Gym. I think I’m missing something.  Oh yeah – math! (Funny I should forget that.)

Even Asher, who is only in grade four and hasn’t started with the classes split up like they do in high school, has General Studies (English, math, science), Judaic studies (Hebrew, Jewish history and ethics), French, Social Studies and Gym. Boo merely has General Studies, Hebrew, French and Gym. Only 4 teachers for her.

This, of course, adds up to about a thousand teachers to see (see why I forgot math?) in three different grades. And two parents. I stared at the list for quite some time. I’ve never met Maya’s English teacher, so I’d like to see her, but that clashes with when Asher’s English teacher is talking and she’s new, so maybe she’ll be doing things differently. Been through grade one English twice, so maybe we can skip that, only Boo’s teacher is new too. Maybe I can skip French for Boo and make it to Math for Maya …

We elected to mostly see Boo and Asher’s teachers, the logic being that Maya is competent and responsible and will be able to tell us what is going on in her classes. Boo is too young and Asher is too spacy. I sent J to Asher’s classroom and went to Boo’s, where I sat down beside a dad whose kids are in the same grades as mine. “Which kid do you love least?” I asked him. He looked blank for a moment, then said, “Oh – Jacob,” naming his middle child who is, like Maya, with-it and organized.

Anyway, I am cautious optimistic for this year, but perhaps this is because I avoided Asher’s classes. Last year, I sat there and thought, ‘there is no way my son can handle this.’ But he did just fine and will again.


Maya and I went through her clothing in the past couple of days and basically got rid of everything. It’s all too small or too ugly. She may not have thought it ugly when we bought it, but now it is. So there.

So we went shopping this afternoon. We ditched the younger two with their dad and went mommy and daughter shopping. It was actually a little bit fun. The fun part was hanging out with just one kid. The not-so-fun part was finding shirts my kid actually likes. The in thing this year seems to be shirts made to look as though they are short-sleeved over long-sleeved, only the long sleeve is built right in. We both agree this looks stupid.

The other problem is that she is size 16, which is the largest size in kid’s clothing. This also makes her a small in adult clothing, but the more hip adult clothing is very big on deep V or scoop necks, which is not so great when you are, in fact, a barely-developed 12-year-old. Then we found some lovely shirts in one store and they turned out to be $50 a pop.

But in the end we found her enough to keep her going for now, and had some fun in the process. At one point, I held up a shirt I liked and said, “This looks nice.” She sighed and shook her head and said, “Don’t say things like that without asking me first.” So I said, “This looks nice?” and she said, “No. It’s hideous.”

She’s also outgrown her shoes (of course), so we popped into just one shoe store, but neither of us had any hope because experience has shown that we must spend a least two hours searching every store in our area before we can find anything acceptable. But she right away found a pair she liked in the right size and when she tried them on, they didn’t have any little annoying seam to cause them to be rejected. And while she was jogging around the store in them, I found a pair I liked to replace my destroyed walking shoes. So we both walked out very happy. That was our crowning shopping achievement.

As a final coup de grace, we found a cute outfit for Boo (on sale, of course), who actually needs no clothes as she gets plenty of hand-me-downs, but was going to feel put-out when she saw her elder sister’s swag. That kid is very into clothes already. Yesterday morning she lay in our bed and refused to come out because it was cold and she couldn’t find a sweat shirt. J went into her room and returned with a very cute, but somewhat boyish sweatshirt that she has never actually put on. She spotted it and said, “I’m not wearing that. It’s disgusting!” This in the tone of voice to suggest he’d offered her a dead rat carcass with which to wrap herself.

“What?” he said to her, “I like it.”

She switched to whithering contempt and replied, “Well, this isn’t about you, is it? It’s about me.”

Six years old and already she’s mastered whithering contempt for one’s parents. Maya was so pround.

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