I have thought lately that my attitude about homework is tainting Riley's own attitude about it. He gets a lot of homework (in my opinion) for grade 1. Most nights it's an hour to an hour and a half. He's in school from 8:00 to 3:00, home by 3:45 and then it's homework until around 5:00. That seems like an incredibly long day for 6-7 year olds, don't you think? Besides regular homework there are special projects and oral presentations (I kid you not) that take extra time. I see the value in learning study habits early on. I also see the value in letting a kid be a kid. So my bad attitude when we sit down in the late afternoon is likely spilling over. I need to find the energy to call up the spirit that the homework will be fun and interesting and very, very exciting. As exciting say, as going to the park or playing games together or learning something he is curious about instead. And I need to do this now before he thinks doing the absolute minimum is acceptable. When did the academic world of elementary school get so hard?
Another thing I've been thinking about is how, in a number of my posts, I talk about other people's qualities that I envy. I envy the patience or the faith or the perseverance of others. But what I really want to do is not envy these qualities, but admire them. I want that warm in the belly, opening part of my head and heart that accompanies admiration and I think I'm getting closer to it.
I think it's a marketing scam. These double rolls don't look like double rolls to me. Maybe I'm now so used to seeing the double roll that my experience has been narrowed. Remember when there were no double rolls? I also remember paying 99 cents for a four-pack back in my first apartment days. That's when I wasn't stealing from my parents' stock on the weekly visits. When I first started buying the double rolls they wouldn't fit on most of the holders in my house but now they slide on and spin with no problems. So what's the deal? What does make up a double roll? Is it the number of squares (which can be manipulated by sizing the squares smaller) or is it over-all length (which can become irrelevant by making the layer thinner). Are you a double-roller or a single? Inquiring minds want to know.
6:15 p.m. I discover a wad of dog poop on the bottom of my shoe. Usually I take my shoes off in the house but the last few weeks with the mud in the yard and the dogs coming in and out I decided to just live with somewhat mucky and dusty floors until the big dry out. At some point today I picked up that tender little nugget and then walked all over the house with it. Here I was checking the two dogs' behinds for the cause of the nasty smell in the house and all along it was me.
Oh and remember my squirrel-chewed composter from Envirocycle Systems? I found a replacement door for $20 plus $7 shipping and handling. Not a bad deal to save a $200 composter. It arrived by UPS today, with an additional $23.24 in duties and customs coming over the border. The damn thing is made in Canada, in my own neighborhood to be exact but has to be shipped from the USA.
I think I am going to have a quiet little cry and call it a day.
Tranquilista, by Kimberly Wilson, came into my hands a couple of months ago. It is definitely a chick-book, and I can't resist a book by an author named Kim. I found it to be a quick read and a great guide for those wanting to set up their own businesses, or take off in a new direction in their lives. It is full of common sense new-age advice and is a terrific source of information for delving deeper into various areas of interest by offering sidebar reference books on subjects from being your own entrepreneur to meditation.
Two things came to my attention today that I found worth noting. First it was Heather at Fumbling for Words who pointed me to this Jen Lee podcast. And her words fit so well with how I have been. I have not felt very communicative, have gone into a strange hibernation. Heather calls her current state as cocooning. I'm not sure what I call mine but Jen's words made me feel that where I am is just fine.
The second thing (How To Feel Miserable as an Artist) was obviously up on Karen's blog for some time, I only today noticed it and it also rang true. Especially Item number 2. Sometimes the people closest to you are really the farthest away and the feeling of being alone is overwhelming.
It has been so unseasonal here, day after day of sunshine, if cool temperatures. People have been walking around saying we could use some rain to clean things up. Today the rains came, just in time for our St. Patrick's Day parade. Drat! Originally our plan was to go downtown and show a little green and after a lot of complaining (mine) we went anyway. Rain, wind and cold temperatures, we dressed for it in snow pants and extra layers and I was glad we did but I now have the kind of chill that will only be chased away by a hot bath. I learned that I envy people who do things regardless of the weather because I really did have a good time. Children are often like that, oblivious that their feet are frozen or they are soaked to the bone. They manage to be present. I envy that too. Here are a few highlights from this afternoon.
Nothing says St. Patrick's Day like a bunch of bagpipes, right?
The Bonhomme was there too:
I'm not sure what the significance of the dragon was, but the people driving sure looking like they had gotten into the green beer.
And, HELLO! Somehow this one snuck into my viewfinder as I don't remember seeing this in person.
We were pretty low key ourselves, we left the green wigs at home, feeling a little self conscious riding on the metro with them although we shouldn't have because it was packed with people who also do things regardless of the weather.
This week Riley had a zit. Not any zit, but The Big Zit. His First Big Zit. He has had good skin so far, the odd pimple that has been small and cleared up within two or three days but this week it was a honker. Monday he woke up with a small pimple on the side of his nose. By the time he came home from school it was looking like it had a mind of its own. Tuesday morning it sprouted a big whitehead. He was largely fascinated with it and was getting plenty of advice from his classmates on how to get rid of it. Thursday after school he plays soccer and as luck would have it, he got hit in the nose with the soccer ball. It was sore. I am no stranger to zits, having battled various degrees of acne since I was 13 and I have a battalion of artillery. Friday night (sorry this is the artist in me) I asked if I could take a picture of it as it had been one of the main sources of conversation this week and he said yes and gave me permission to show it to anyone I wanted. I may have had my first serious zit at the age of 7, I don't remember and if I did, it didn't scar me emotionally. Those scars came much later around the age of 15.
I guess it could be considered to be some rite of passage.
I do go on and on about the joys of mutha'hood, my seemingly special little boy. This morning he wanted to make our breakfast elegant by putting parasols in our drinks.
I am loving rediscovering the simple wonders of living. So grateful to be shown joy in little things, being taught how to look and look again and find something special in something ordinary. It's a case of truly living in the moment, between the gentle and not so gentle reminders to eat up, hurry up so as not to miss the next thing. It is frustrating sometimes to be slowed down. But when I do slow down, the rewards are plenty.
Do you know how many messages there have been daily this month in my inbox for ED? Both my regular inbox and the spam folder is over run with this dysfunction that apparently must be and can be eradicated. Does everyone else on planet earth think about this more than I do because frankly it occupies very little of my waking time with the exception of the time it takes to delete these emails. And who does buy medications for this over the internet? Are there still masses of people that gullible? I understand the fundamental importance of continuing the race and I know what it takes to do so, I have one child and spent many decades trying to not procreate. I'm even thinking of changing my email address because it's starting to wear me down.
I think I'm on to something with these true confessions. One of my March break projects was, ahem, cleaning the mould off the ceiling in the bathroom. Before:
I am not a terrific housekeeper, there is so much else I want to fill my days with other than cleaning so I do the minimal, I do the obvious. I had scrubbed the same mould off months ago, taking my life in my hands as the room is small, has a high ceiling and it is over a claw-foot tub. Because no ladder is going in there, it means balancing on the curved edge of the tub. Last time I did it I scared myself. I'm also a bit of a klutz, ergo one of the last places I should be found is alone in the house, balancing on the edge of a wet tub. I know it is not environmentally correct to use bleach but when it comes to mould, there is nothing else, except maybe more toxic prepared cleaners. Mould is tenacious, leave one spore behind and it's back. I'm sure one spore is lurking in a crack up there, winking down at me when I'm standing in my altogether under the shower spray. Now, however, I have devised a quick and easy way to deal with ceiling mould. I took an old swiffer floor duster handle (another confession: I no longer use swiffer duster cloths for environmental reasons), positioned an old (but still thirsty) wash cloth over the flat part, pushing the sides through the holes to grip it on. I then poured straight bleach over the flattened cloth and voila! In less than half an hour the mould was gone, with the exception of that one spore that I just know is still up there.
Riley loves simple things. He still loves the empty boxes things come in more than what was inside. He loves making art side-by-side with me. In the studio everything is raw material, what would normally be thrown away is treasured, unleashed potential screaming. The other day he oohed and aahed over some papers I had used as masks for spray ink:
I love how he makes me see the beauty in things like this, all through our day.
Last year I signed up for Creative Every Day, the concept being that you do something creative every day, whether it is creating visual art or singing a song or doing a little dance - totally open to interpretation but it is more about the conscious act of doing it. This year I didn't sign up for it partly because last year it stressed me out some days, I made myself feel inadequate or like a failure because some days I just couldn't pull it up or even see that I was already doing it in simple gestures. But another reason is that before Christmas Riley started asking me to put a (daily) surprise in his lunch box. He wanted a little art-love note to find at lunch time. I started slowly, again feeling a little stressed to find something original to make squeezed into what little time there is between his bed time and mine. But little by little I relaxed about it and I've started to enjoy this kind of creative every day exercise. I guess I get weekends off (and ped days and March break). Sometimes he makes one for me and sneaks it into my lunch box. In a strange act of synchronicity that had me howling when I opened my sandwich one day, the night before we had each secretly made our art-love notes for each other, neither of us seeing what the other was doing. Mine for him was a little strip of paper folded accordion style counting down the ten days left to his birthday:
His to me was a little strip of paper folded accordion style too:
Now that March break is over, I'll be back making my daily specials.
I love a happy ending and a company with good consumer ethics. We have a whole collection of the books put out by the Klutz company, and love them all. A few years ago I bought Riley this book called Rescue Trucks:
It's a board book that comes with four mini trucks, inside it has different scenes and roads. One day Riley left the house with his babysitter and those four trucks; they came home without them. On a whim last night I checked Klutz's website to see if they sold the trucks separately and when I didn't see a listing I emailed them. Within minutes I had a reply back, no they didn't sell them separately but they had a few extra sets and would send them to us at no charge. We emailed back and forth a few times, admittedly me gushing with praise for their swift and generous replies and within less than half an hour of my first email it was all fixed. If there are kids on your shopping list for any reason, check out the Klutz/Chicken Socks products. They are creative, fun and very original. We keep going back to our books, they have all been well worth their price. And I especially love how they stand behind their products.