Swimming Up

Last Night of Beavers

A little over three years ago, Leah was given a choice: she could join Sparks or Beavers. After only a moment’s hesitation, she emphatically chose the latter. Why? Because I like boys, she said. While her motivations may have been slightly suspect, Beavers has been nothing short of amazing for Leah. And now we’ve reached the end of an era: after three years of Beavers, Leah “swam up” to Cubs on Thursday evening.

Swimming Up

Leah may have started off as a very quiet Beaver, operating in a mostly observational capacity, but this year — as a White Tail — she really blossomed, participating fully in all that was offered. And if it hadn’t been for Beavers, Leah likely never would have:

  • tried snowshoeing;
  • raced a Beaver Buggy;
  • eaten breakfast with Santa;
  • thanked people for donations to Scouting with apples;
  • attempted gumboot dancing;
  • gone geocaching;
  • cooked pizza over a campfire; or
  • a hundred other things that made Thursday Leah’s favourite day of the week.

Officially Finished

Going forward, however, it looks like Tuesday will be Leah’s new favourite day. She’s been attending Cubs meetings for the past month and she is so excited to be moving up with the big kids, particularly since the Cubs go camping. A lot.

Today, though, Leah got to wear her Beavers uniform one last time at this year’s final event: the Beaveree. The day was made a little more special because Adam came to help out with our Colony’s ring toss activity.

Beaveree

Thanks to all the amazing leaders at 2nd Highland Creek who have helped Leah grow as a Beaver. She is well-equipped to join the Cub pack as she looks ahead to thrilling adventures, working on badges, and making new friends. Bring on September!

 

Countdown to Summer

Reading on the Porch

Effective yesterday, school has been relocated to the front porch. Or the playground. Or the backyard. We’ve got just two weeks left of work to do and I’ll happily do school anywhere at this point.

While I generally try to keep distractions to a minimum, having Leah’s scooter in sight seems to have given her the motivation to work through her lessons at a remarkable pace. Honestly, the promise of a playground visit is about the only thing keeping her going right now. (I can’t say I blame her — the thought of getting to sit on a park bench and knit while Leah runs around is what keeps me focused on spelling and science these days, too.)

Round and Round

And just in case I felt so inclined to join Leah in her climbing adventures, she made it very clear that I should stay safely seated on the bench. Don’t try this, Mummy, she said. It’s not safe for adults.

In that case, I’ll just keep knitting on my socks.

So happy was Leah to have the run of the playground equipment today that I had trouble convincing her that we should head back home. Eventually, though, I managed to persuade her with the lure of making chocolate chip cookies. Soft-Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies from The Vegan Cookie Connoisseur, to be exact.

Chocolate Chip Cookies in Progress

Baking with Leah is always messy — somehow she managed to cover herself in cookie batter in the name of quality assurance. The batter totally passed inspection — though it took about half a dozen taste tests to make sure it was good. I appreciate her dedication to quality, I think. We should be grateful that enough batter made it into the oven that Adam has cookies to take to his Scout Troop end-of-the-year party tonight.

I’m also grateful that baking covers off several learning areas for Leah: reading, following directions, and math — with the bonus of a snack at the end. Definitely my kind of learning!

Happy Leah Day!

Leah Day 2016

Anyone can have a birthday, Leah says, but only I have Leah Day.

Today marks our family’s seventh celebration of Leah Day — which Leah has been anticipating for weeks now, changing her mind a dozen times over the menu for our family dinner tonight and asking a million questions about when she was a baby.

For many of these questions, I’ve got answers. What did I like to eat? (Melon. Cucumber.) What was the plane ride like? (Long. Exhausting. Pretty uneventful.) Where did I sleep? (Oh my gosh, anywhere we could get you to sleep. We weren’t picky. Our bed. In our arms. On the floor.)

And then Leah moves onto the more difficult questions. Things like, Why weren’t you there when I was born? What took you so long to come and get me? Basically the questions that break my heart because Leah finds the answers so devastating — and confusing. Even as Leah begins to piece together what it means to be adopted, she doesn’t yet understand the complexities of child welfare policies and due diligence. She’s just concerned that she had to spend nine months of her life without us. (In time, I like to think that she will appreciate the processes in place that helped ensure the best possible long-term outcome, even if they delayed our meeting.)

Right now, though, Leah seems to feel her questions have been answered adequately (at least for the moment — who knows what tomorrow will bring?) and she is focused on us celebrating all that she means to our family. With japchae and ice cream sundaes.

And so today we reflect on seven years together as a family of four and all the ways in which Leah has enriched our lives.

Leah Day 2016

A happy Leah Day, indeed.

An Afternoon Adventure

A Collection of Rocks

Nearly every time I begin to lament the fact that our backyard is roughly the size of a postage stamp, I force myself to remember that we live just minutes away from multiple playgrounds and Lake Ontario. In fact, the proximity to the waterfront was one of the major selling features of this house, so I really need to do a better job of making use of what we consider to be an extended — albeit communal — backyard.

Leah came home from Cubs last night super excited about needing to find a tiny rock on which to put her initials. As best as I could understand, the rock has something to do with their geocaching event next week. No matter the details, Leah was determined that finding the perfect rock was going to be today’s number one priority.

Unfortunately for Leah, her priorities and mine didn’t line up quite so nicely. I’m still trying to push through these last few weeks of homeschooling — which is becoming more difficult each day. We’ve lost all motivation and I totally understand why June is typically filled with assemblies, play days and movies. Everyone has run out of steam.

So, since I’m not above bribes offering incentives, Leah and I agreed on a plan that involved working through all of today’s must-get-done list before lunch so that our afternoon could be spent at the waterfront. Brilliant.

We narrowed down Leah’s rock selection to just five perfect specimens. If I hadn’t set a limit, she would have filled both her pockets and my bag with just okay rocks. Instead, these are (at least in Leah’s opinion) the best tiny rocks that the pebbly beach has to offer.

As soon as the rocks were collected, Leah decided that her current stick collection was lacking in a few particular specimens, so we went off in search of magic wand-sized pieces of driftwood. I thought her carefully selected pieces would be coming home with us but Leah wanted to find out if any of the sticks she found would sink in the lake like the rocks, leading us to spend a good half-hour throwing rocks and sticks. So much fun.

Throwing Rocks

Look at that form! While I am not naturally inclined to spend time outdoors, one of the things I have really appreciated this past school year is getting pulled outside by Leah, regularly forcing me out of my comfort zone (which is basically defined as the sofa — surrounded by books and yarn). Leah’s even suggested that perhaps we can do our schoolwork outside tomorrow. I’m inclined to go along with this plan if it helps us get through math and reading — at this point I’m game for just about anything that brings us closer to checking off these last few things on our curriculum plan.

A Fresh Start

Coffee and Knitting and Planning

I never got over the thrill experienced in elementary school of writing those first few lines in a brand new notebook. Clearly I look at blogging the same way, as I feel compelled to start over every so often.

So here I am. Starting fresh. Again. I’ve taken a two-month hiatus from writing anything (such is what happens when life is completely consumed by work — on Todd’s part — and then trying — and largely failing — to cover all the home- and child-related commitments) and now I feel I’m at a place where I finally have the mental capacity to begin again. With a blank slate, such as it is.

Right now most of my energy is focused on trying to push through these last few weeks of homeschooling with Leah so that we can get a head start on summer vacation. I’m really glad that we worked ahead when the weather was lousy so that we have a lighter load now — and I know that once actual spring-like weather sticks around that I’ll completely lose her focus. Readers and read-alouds were finished weeks ago (so we’ve moved on to sequels of some of this year’s favourite books), we’re on track with science, social studies, and writing but we’re behind in math. It will all even out in the end, I think.

Leah Reading

A return to a more manageable work schedule for Todd means that I should once again be able to find time to cook more inspired dinners than endless variations of pasta. Not that we don’t love pasta, but I feel like I’ve been living on a less-than-ideal diet of caffeine and carbs for ages now. And while there’s no such thing in my world as too much coffee, I can’t exactly say the same for pasta. Of course, I asked the kids what they wanted for dinner tonight and they suggested macaroni, so perhaps their tolerance levels exceed mine. Or they have become so conditioned to eating linguini and penne that they can’t fathom the idea of anything else!

And now that school is winding down, I’m looking forward to knitting more than a few rows or rounds at a time. That scarf up top has been on my needles for more than six weeks and it’s still only halfway done. I know that linen stitch takes forever but it seems like I’m never going to finish. And yes, I do have other projects on the go, but I feel like I’ve been fairly faithful to this scarf (when I’m not working on socks or a shawl, that is). I figure if I commit to knitting two rows per day (each row has 450 stitches so it’s not like this is a small amount of knitting), I should be finished in about four weeks. Just in time for summer, right? At least I’ll have a head start on accessories for autumn!