This winter we’ve had some unexpected guests. They’re insects of some sort, kind of beetle-like, about the half the size of my thumb. About once a month, another one appears in our house and noisily flies around and around and around, driving me absolutely bonkers. I don’t know what they are, and honestly, I don’t want to know what they are.
It usually takes me a few minutes to work up the courage to squash them. They aren’t particularly fast, but they are big and they leave a bit of a mess behind, and the crunch they make just makes me shiver. So after I find a big shoe – preferably not my own – I wait until it lands somewhere nice and open and flat so I can kill the sucker with one quick whack. I’m nothing if not humane.
Oh, I hate these things.
About three weeks ago, we found one in our bedroom. Luckily my super brave husband was home and naturally I asked him to take care of it. He dutifully captured the bug in a glass, then brought it to the kitchen and dumped it in our spider plant.
I looked at him with confusion. “What is wrong with you??? At least put it outside! AND THEN KILL IT!”
I see no point in letting these enormous bugs live. But my husband has a thing for all animals, even the ugly winged kind with multiple legs. He doesn’t think it’s necessary to kill them. He thinks we can peacefully coexist.
He’s wrong, of course.
But to his good fortune, that was the last I saw of our gigantic bug friend for a couple of weeks. Until his dramatic reappearance last night.
Cheesecake and Apple Crisp
I was in the kitchen making apple crisp. Now, I was really craving cheesecake, but our house was a cheesecake desert. My husband is the designated cheesecake maker of the home, but he was out for the night and I couldn’t figure out an alternate plan. To my knowledge, there are NO cheesecake delivery services in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. Certainly not ones that operate on Family Day. For shame.
Rather than admit total defeat, I decided to whip up a small apple crisp, another one of my favourite desserts. As I peeled and diced the apples, I noticed that Gigantor the Bug had returned – he was flying around the kitchen light at neck-breaking speed, like an airborne Olympic speed skater. I ignored it until I heard a flick and then a soft bump. That stupid bug must have landed on the light, burned his feet and fell down in shock.
Great, now this dumb bug was in my kitchen somewhere and I couldn’t see it anywhere. I cautiously looked around the dirty dishes on the counter and across the floor but I couldn’t find it anywhere. So I went to the closet to find some shoes – honestly, can you imagine stepping on that thing in bare feet? The thought just makes me shudder.
After a minute or two, I gave up and I finished the apple crisp, popping it in the oven. I turned my attention to the kitchen, which was in desperate need of attention after days of neglect. I washed glasses and plates and knives and forks and spoons and mugs and pots and pans. It was weird that I never came across Gigantor, but I figured he’d turn up eventually. Or that he’d already recovered and was off circling another light bulb.
So for the next hour, I happily tackled the dishes while listening to nothing but the radio, enjoying the sweet smell of apples baking in the oven as a not-too-distant reward.
Looks delicious, doesn’t it? Except that’s not my picture (thanks Flickr!). When you make something this good, there is no time to take pictures. You just eat it.
I took the apple crisp out of the oven and scooped out a huge steaming bowlful. I went to the couch and pulled up a new book on my iPad and took a bite. It was amazing.
Apple crisp is the best.
I use my grandmother’s recipe, which doesn’t call for anything remotely healthy like oats or walnuts. Just apples, cinnamon, sugar, salt flour and butter. All my favourite ingredients in one delightful dish.
I definitely needed a second serving.
I quickly scooped some more in my bowl and started reading my book again.
One bite… perfection.
Two bites…. bliss.
Three bites… now, that didn’t taste right at all. And far too… crunchy.
My husband has promised to make me cheesecake tomorrow night. Chocolate cheesecake. I have to imagine he’ll be making me cheesecake any time I want for the rest of my life. Because I will never, ever forgive him for not killing that bug straight away.
Update: my lovely readers have identified the bug for me. Knowing just makes it that much worse.
Photo by MissMessie on Flickr.comRead More
“I can’t read,” the Princess told me sadly last year. “Everyone else in my class can read, and I’m the only one who can’t.”
It was true. I’m told that her all classmates learned to read in Junior Kindergarten because their JK teacher made that her mission for the year. On the other hand, our JK year at home had been more about baking and circle time. I was significantly influenced by Waldorf philosophies which don’t encourage reading until the age of seven, so I hadn’t taught The Princess to read at all (though she can make a killer cookie). And to be honest, I kind of assumed that’s what they did in Senior Kindergarten. It didn’t bother me that she couldn’t read yet.
The only thing that bothered me was that my bright child felt like the dumbest kid in class.
So I dutifully went to the teacher and asked what I could do to help. I asked what they were working on in the class so I could work on it at home too. I was told to practice the “popcorn” words, which are a list of about twenty common words that kids are expected to memorize by sight. We had already practiced them at home and The Princess didn’t seem to be catching on at all. I told her teacher that memorization doesn’t seem to work for The Princess and I asked where they were in phonics.
She told me that they don’t teach phonics.
Just popcorn words.
I have to admit, I was a bit stunned. I know things have changed since I was in school, but kids don’t learn how to sound out words anymore? I vividly remember sitting on the carpet of my kindergarten room, looking at a drawing of a pig and earnestly reciting “P-P-P-Pig” with the rest of my class. I remember the feel of the soft ‘p’ on my lips. I remember going back to my table to cut out a smaller version of the pig picture and gluing it on the Pp page in my workbook. I don’t know why, but learning the letter P was clearly an important day of my life.
I wonder how long my daughter’s teacher waited as I stared off into the distance, reliving that “P-p-p-pig” day in my mind.
Snapping out of it, I asked her to clarify. “They don’t teach the kids how to sound out words anymore? How do they learn to read?”
She replied, “Well, we expect that you do that part at home.”
I left, more confused than ever.
I truly believe that we teach kids to read too early. I think that there a plenty of kids who catch on easily, but there are also a lot of kids who just aren’t ready, and the pressure to read before they’re ready makes these kids feel dumb. The idea to delay reading is backed up by various teaching philosophies and is advocated by groups around the world. Yet here I was, trying to figure out a way to teach my child to read so she wouldn’t feel behind the rest of her class. It felt so wrong.
So I went home and thought about it. I decided that my daughter wasn’t ready to read and that I might end up frustrating her more if I pushed it. I told her not to worry if the other kids could read better than her, that she should just do her best and have fun in class. I mean, it was kindergarten, for goodness’ sake. I was more interested in her keeping the sand in the sandbox and learning the rules of hopscotch.
Near the end of the year, I asked how here daily reading activities were going. She told me that she didn’t have to do them anymore. “The whole class?” “No, just me and another girl”, she replied. I have no idea if that was true or not, but I didn’t care. We had already decided not to send her back.
When summer came, we officially sent in our Intent to Homeschool forms and I felt a huge sense of relief. I have to admit that a small part of me wanted to get her reading right away to prove that I was a capable teacher. But I didn’t, and I’m glad. She picked it up a few months later with almost no help from me and I’m proud of the progress she’s made.
Homeschooling truly is one of the best parts of my life these days. The Princess is such a bright kid. I love being able to learn along side of her.
What about you? Are there times that you ignored the culturally-accepted milestones and let your children go at their own pace?Read More
The problem with taking a blogging break is that it’s difficult to start up again. When I sit down at my computer to write a new post, I can’t think of anything very important to say, and the longer I put the post off, the more important I feel like the post should be. Which is just silly. Give me another month and I’ll be trying to write the 2014 version of “I Have a Dream”. Sadly, my dream will include a child-free evening with wine and yarn. My dreams just aren’t that revolutionary.
When I started my blog, I didn’t know what to expect from it. This is my first post, written Nov 14, 2010:
Happy, Shiny Mamas
I love reading blogs by moms that appear to have it all together. You know the ones I mean — they post big beautiful pictures of their smiling children sitting on sparkly floors, or they make up great recipes that are both healthy and family-friendly, or they create lots of fabulous things from left over milk cartons to decorate their adorable homes with. Or worse — they do all three.
I’m not one of those moms. The floors in my few pictures are littered with toys and usually coated in sticky oatmeal. We eat grilled cheese every single day. My crafts tend to end up as a mass of glitter glue stuck to the cat. And some days I think that if I have to look at that pile of dirty dishes one more time, I’m going to lose … my … mind.
But I continue to read the blogs of the women who have it all under control. Because, first of all, I know that they don’t – nobody does. And second, they motivate me. They give me something to work towards. They make me think that maybe I’ll figure out this domestic thing. Or someday my family might eat healthier. Who knows — I might even have time to use my sewing machine again in not so distant future. I have a vision of how I want life to be, and they inspire that vision.
So thank you to the mamas out there who take the time to blog about their lives and families and make it all look like so much fun. I’m making a conscious effort to join you, to embrace the life I want for myself and my family. This blog plays a part of that, because I want to document my family’s journey together.
And as for the pile of dishes in my kitchen? I literally give up. I’m going dishwasher shopping tomorrow.
I love reading that post. It makes me laugh because it seems like life hasn’t changed at all. My cats are still sparkly, but these days it’s probably because the Pixie painted floor with glitter and the cats discovered the masterpiece before I did. I still have a piles dirty dishes, but that’s because the dishwasher we bought broke last October (on the night before I hosted Thanksgiving dinner) and I still haven’t found a repair person. (Recommendations? Anyone?)
I love this post because it also reminds me how much I’ve accomplished. I haven’t figured out “this domestic thing”, but sometimes I think there is light at the end of the tunnel. Our decluttering has helped, though Christmas has set us back again. My family eats better now, thanks to a gluten-free diet ruling out everything we used to eat. I’ve even sewn one or two things.
When I read through old posts, I remember so many great moments. Taking The Princess to the Nutcracker. The Pixie’s first birthday. Sometimes I just browse through my blog, looking at the pictures and enjoying the memories. My posts might not be revolutionary, but they are important to me and fun to create. Which is more than enough of a reason to keep on writing.Read More