Two early mornings in a row. Two days of zipping around between school, home, friends’ houses and the Nook. Two days of exciting mail delivery. Two days of Chagall.

readingWednesday, Zahra, Noah and I worked in Leila’s school library in the morning. Zahra brought some math to do in our downtime between classes, and Noah brought a book: the first book in A Series of Unfortunate Events. He’d been dying to read it for about a week, and had struggled through a page or two in deep frustration. I could tell he really wanted it, though, so I agreed that we’d have our own Mommy-Noah read-aloud (can I really squeeze another book into our schedule?) and it would work like this: he reads two sentences, I read two pages, he read two sentences, I read two pages, etc. Man, he zips through his sentences—and I’m surprised at which words he tackles correctly. The fact that every sentence must start with a capital letter and end with a mark of punctuation is not lost on him. Some of those sentences are half a page long, to his open-mouthed amazement. And some of those sentences are so short. Sometimes he is so into what’s going to happen next that he doesn’t stop reading. But when he realizes it, he bursts into a fit of giggles and calls me a cheater. Why didn’t I stop him?

He brought this book to the library and would not be distracted—even by Zahra’s pleas to join her outside on the playground. This is the book series that is going to teach him how to read in English.

We did finally get outside to dig around in the snow and to clear the snow from the driveway, making even larger piles of the stuff in the yard. Winter is finally here—and it is so. much. fun.

I had to make a client call in the afternoon, so I set Zahra and Noah up with a documentary on Marc Chagall. He really is a fantastic artist to study, for adults and kids alike. His paintings are bright and colourful; in many of them, so much is going on that you are quickly drawn into the dream. It’s so easy to keep discussion going around a single painting. The documentary also covered the theatre sets he painted and how they stole the show. I can’t wait to see the exhibit at the Museum of Fine Arts!

timeAnd yesterday was the day we received the first Wonderful Objects package for our second subscription year. We never know when these packages are going to arrive—that’s part of the mystery. The rest of the mystery entails putting together the various objects and information we receive, like clues, to form a story. A few weeks ago, we had received a teaser package: a bronze sundial pendant. Now the first full box had arrived and, as usual, it did not disappoint. A letter from a Mme Madeleine Wells encouraged us in our study of the art of navigation, specifically time travel. At this, we all started squealing and jumping up and down, especially Noah. Just days ago, he had said he was going to write a book titled Tick, Tock about the meaning of time.

Ok, here’s an aside. Remember that ill-fated trip to the Museum of Contemporary Art? The one where the group field trip was cancelled (but I hadn’t read my emails), where we took an hour and a half to get downtown in a crazy ice storm, where I paid $15 for parking (followed by a long line of those random expenses that seem inevitable when you’re downtown), where we wasted lots of time waiting for the museum to open and only when it did were we informed that 90% of the museum was under renovation? The museum where we only got to visit one room, and where the theme of this one room of bizarre, contemporary art pieces was “The Passage of Time”? Well, it turns out, that it was a good thing that I didn’t gouge my eyes out or sit on the floor and cry; and the kids must have gotten something out of the descriptions I was reading to them, because a couple weeks later, Noah decided he wanted to write a book about time.

I’m going to mark that one as a win.

And then—TO TOP IT OFF—this year’s subscription to Wonderful Objects is going to explore time travel. If things keep going this way, I may stop grinding my teeth at night.

We spent a good chunk of time going over the treasures in this box: a sundial, an alarm clock, a flashlight, a night light, an archival print and a notebook. Good thing we were invited for dinner that night.

And it was at my friend Karen’s house that her daughter Julia showed Zahra the story she was writing—an excellent kick in the butt for Zahra, who today picked back up a story she had been working on but had since let go. Zahra read me the first two chapters tonight, and I was really impressed.

milk cartonsFast forward to this morning, and we were ripping open another sort of box: milk cartons. We went back to Leila’s school this morning to help with the construction of an ice castle. For nearly two hours, Zahra, Noah and I joined other parent volunteers to shed the ice blocks of their cardboard containers. Grade 6 students were in charge of building the castle, and each class came out at some point in the day so every kid in the school could lay one block. We stayed to love on Leila a bit before heading home because our day was far from over.

While Zahra and Noah did some math, I hurriedly translated five campaign speeches from English to French and made photocopies. Today was the first session of our little kids’ mock election at the Nook! Some of you may remember our mock election from last year at the community centre. I ordered the same materials from Elections Canada to run the same election at the Nook for kids ages 7 and under. We talked about what an election is and why we vote. We listened to the candidates’ speeches in English and French, and then Zahra led the kids in singing and dancing to the campaign songs. Finally, each of the kids made their own Voter ID cards. They have a few days to mull over their choices; we will proceed with the voting part of the process on Monday.

mock election

Because it was such a beautiful day, we opted to cancel the day’s remaining workshops and head outside. We started our own ice castle—humble beginnings, but I’m not giving up hope yet! There’s still time for it to be great. The kids seemed more interested in the giant hills of snow dotting the farm. They’re hard at work digging forts into them. There are tribes forming and battles on the horizon.

We stayed until 4:00 and then rushed home. Zahra and Noah changed out of their wet snow pants, hats and mitts while Leila got suited up. I took Zahra and Noah to Claudia’s house with the robot we’ve borrowed from Robotics Club. “See?” I told them as we pulled up outside her house. “We’re seeking out the experts. We don’t know how to program the robot, but Claudia’s son Cedric does.”

Cedric uses the Lego Mindstorm robots in high school. While he and his mom showed Zahra and Noah the ins and outs of the programming software, Leila and I crossed the street to go back to the school and check out the finished ice castle. I am so impressed with what they built, and especially with the fact that they did it in one school day! It’s a beautiful ice castle, with coloured blocks and curved turrets—and it’s incredibly solid! Leila and one of her little maternelle friends who was there were climbing all over it.

Finally, it was time to go home. And since my wonderful husband was working from home today, he made a delicious couscous for dinner. We ate, Leila got a bath, and Noah and I read. While Zahra read me the first two chapters of her story, Noah disappeared into the Work Room, emerging later to show me a drawing he had done—a drawing, he said, inspired by Marc Chagall. Among the images floating across his piece of red construction paper: a dripping faucet, a cat on a table, an ax, a pair of old pants, a pair of new pants, a rocket ship, and a scattering of numbers. I’ll let you interpret that one for yourselves.

P.S. I did say two days of exciting mail delivery. The first Angélique book from the Our Canadian Girl series arrived today! And yes, this means another book to squeeze into our schedule.