These are busy times: two birthday parties in the next week and a half, back-to-back book clubs, dentist appointments, doctor appointments, a violin concert. When Cindy told me that she was basically scrapping any schooling this week because of her schedule, it didn’t take me long to follow suit.

And yet today was so academically satisfying—so much more than anything I could have planned at home. We had to wake up early for it. Over cereal bowls and pineapple, we discussed the current chicken situation. Mr. Quinn gave us two chickens, a hen and a rooster. Their names are, respectively, Ash and Sunday Dinner. I’ve been keeping them in the gazebo at night and having them mingle with our other hens during the day. The hope was to integrate Ash rapidly and…well, eat Sunday Dinner last Sunday.

Plans often go awry, and we are masters of Plan B. Saïd wasn’t terribly excited about “taking care of” Sunday Dinner, given his weekend to-do list, and Zahra was pulling hard for us to re-home the rooster. So it was finally decided that Sunday Dinner would go to our friend Isabelle, who will certainly give him a better name, as he will become one of her breeding stock, not eating stock. Last night, I put Ash into the coop with the others, as usual. But this morning, I didn’t let them out. We kept a close eye on them for a bit and the drama didn’t seem too high—and so we left them all together as we headed out the door to go downtown.

ohmWe left the house at 7:45 to fight traffic all the way. The OSM concerts being in the morning, we can’t avoid the morning rush—and it is brutal. The kind that makes you question why you ever left your warm, soft bed and pyjama pants…until you sit down in that concert hall. This morning’s concert was Don Quixote. We were the farthest we’ve ever been from the stage, but like everything in life, it’s all how you look at it. Leila and I marvelled over how we had a bird’s-eye view of the entire orchestra and played “I Spy” by trying to find the various instruments. Zahra remarked on how lucky we were to even get tickets, as this show sold out fast.

The lights dimmed, and then we were treated to enchanting music, animated actors, and even some opera singing and flamenco dancing! These youth concerts are something special. The show was entirely in French, and Leila only asked me what something meant one time. The story of Don Quixote was well summarized and acted out for the children.

lunchAfter that, our group from the Nook headed to Place Desjardins for lunch before splitting up, some going home, others to appointments. Julie and I took our kids and friend Julia to the Redpath Museum. It’s my favourite “quick museum stop” in the city. Despite its small size, there are many treasures there and so much to see. And it’s a plus that it’s not far from Place des Arts.

It’s also in a beautiful, old building—one that I used to have French literature classes in! We asked if we could sneak a peek into this beautiful classroom. Amphitheatre-type seating, graffiti carved into wood columns that dates from the 1800’s! It took me back to the time when I filled my days with discussions on Balzac and the illegal tiger trade. The kids just loved the set-up and immediately started playing Galactic Senate.

While the kids explored the museum, I noted that Zahra was taking notes and that she and Julia were in cahoots about something. Noah and I mulled over the “Invasive Species in the Great Lakes” exhibit for some time. He said he would really like to learn more about that, and that was great news to me because we’re trying something new come January.

I’ve always been really drawn to Project-Based Homeschooling. I even took an online course on it. In theory, it was just what I wanted for my kids. In practice, we started out that way but quickly drifted. We got busy.

So come January, I am going to carve out that Project Time. We will do some math once a week, and some French reading/writing once a week—and there will be three days a week with a two-hour block Project Time. They can fill it as they wish—but they must be working on their project, which they choose themselves. The beauty of this method is that if they’re interested, they’re doing a lot of deep learning about something, instead of just skimming the surface level in lots of things. If they lose interest, they can wrap up their project at any time and decide it’s done—but the Project Time will still be there, and they’ll need to choose another project.

Noah wants to learn more about invasive species in the Great Lakes area. I mentioned this to Julie with Noah at my side, and she actually knows quite a bit about it! Talk about seeking out the experts—not much seeking needed! Noah asked if we could stop in the Great Lakes region during our Christmas road trip so he could ask some fisherman more about it, too. I don’t know if we’ll find any fisherman in December, but we sure will look.

After we left the museum and split ways with Julie and Romi, the kids and I went to Archambault where I picked up some piano duet music for Noah and Jordan, some piano duet music for Leila and Zoë and Romi, and some duet music for me and Zahra (piano/violin). By this time, the kids were starving, so after finding a parking ticket on my car (five minutes late!!!), I thought: screw it, leave the car there and let’s go relax in a cafe.

The kids were so delighted that Zahra and Julia decided to reveal their big secret from the museum to me. They had been writing down the scientific names and common names for the animals they found in the museum. May their secrets always be this marvellous.

As I sipped my latte, they read through their list and we noted the similarities between some of the names. Zahra said she’d like to get a new notebook and keep a running list and then find some way to organize them. Hello, project!

We finally left Montreal and headed west. Next stop: the knitting teacher’s house because Zahra had dropped two purled stitches and couldn’t figure out how to pick them up again. What an amazing teacher and friend Paola is that we can just drop in on her at 4:30 on a Wednesday evening! The problem was quickly solved with a thorough lesson, and then we were on our way to drop off Julia before finally heading home.

We noted that it was already dark and that Ash had survived her first day locked in with Atwood, Izzy, Jordy, Padme and Marcia. We’ll see better how it went tomorrow morning.

Lucky us again, because Saïd worked from home today, and the house was warm, well lit, and smelled of a hot dinner as we walked in and shed our coats and boots. Dinner, baths, and early bed. Knitting by reading light. A day well spent.