Class Dismissed


Some of you know us well enough to know that up until very recently, we were pretty die-hard city mice. One of the toughest parts of our decision to leave city life behind was leaving our beloved Waldorf school. Our whole family loved the place and I was so looking forward to sending Noah there too when the time was right.

We weren’t able to find any favorable alternatives to public school when we moved to the country in July of 2013. This is why we decided to home school our kids until a better solution presented itself, or until we were ready to travel the world as a family (our long-term dream). The role of teacher fell to me, while Nekky and Sarah both work at their own jobs full time. Fast forward eight months, and the time has come to assess where we are at with our plans and our goals. We aren’t ready to take on the world just yet, so what’s the plan for September?

I’ve really enjoyed our homeschool journey, and the freedom and flexibility it has offered us. However, there is so much that I can’t give the girls that they are missing out on. Trying to balance life, work, school, toddler-rearing, is truly exhausting, so I find myself just focusing on the basics in our classroom – covering the most rudimentary subjects, leaving little time for more creative pursuits or games. The girls get two lengthy outdoor recesses, and they are terrific playmates for one another, but it’s just not the same without classmates. They miss their peer group, and I miss the school community too. It was nice interacting with other humans each day, and I miss assemblies and parent nights.

Also, any parent knows that children behave much differently at home than they do when there is a teacher to impress, and classmates to surround them. Our girls are great, but managing their quirks and challenges became really taxing. I would never in a million years sign up to become a teacher in the conventional sense, I don’t have the patience to handle so many little personalities all at once. In fact, handling two is taking all the gumption I’ve got, and I adore those two people!

If we were travelling, if there were no other options to consider locally, I would continue on with homeschool in the fall, learning from the mistakes we made this year. We’d make sure there were extra curricular activities where we could make new friends, I’d change our scheduling to focus more on each girl for longer stretches, and I’d devote one day per week to games and creativity. I’d do a lot of things differently, but we found a very interesting school in town, and so we’re going to give it a shot in the fall.

These days, homeschooling is bitter sweet. I know the end is in sight, for now anyway, so I’m trying to really enjoy the time we have, and I’m trying to relax more and make sure the girls enjoy each day. Part of me is also looking ahead to a life where my focus shifts again to other work, and finally an opportunity to focus on my writing in a fresh new way. There are lots of things unfolding here, and it feels right on so many levels.

This time with my children has been beautiful, and so valuable – as challenging as it has been rewarding. I’m so grateful that we tried this, and I hope that the next time we open the books on homeschooling, we’re living on a beach in Thailand.

Don’t be afraid to deviate from what you thought was the best plan. We’re meant to bend and stretch and grow, and something better always lies around the bend.

It’s Coming, I Promise

Okay Southern Ontario friends. I know it’s nearly impossible to believe that Spring is on the way, on a day like this when I can’t even see out the window because the snow is blowing so hard. But keep hope alive! Remember yesterday when it was 10 degrees and nearly all the snow had melted? We snatched the kids from camp and went to the playground where Mamma S snapped these gorgeous photos. A day like yesterday wouldn’t be possible if there weren’t more just like it to look forward too. Hopefully these will cheer you up, and help remind you that winter isn’t forever.

Photos courtesy of Sarah Jamal Photography






The Thing About Lassie


My sixteen-month-old son has an obsession. We don’t watch a lot of television in our house, so I’m not sure how this even came about. The little man is completely and totally in love with Lassie. I don’t mean the old black and white TV series, I mean a very specific made-for-tv movie based on the original novel. This film was made in 2005 and features a star-studded cast, including Samantha Morton, Peter O’Toole and Peter Dinklage. Lassie scores 93% on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer, and I’ve seen it about twenty times now, so I can agree that it’s a solid film. It’s feature length and my sixteen-month-old will watch it from beginning to end.

Not only will he sit quietly and watch this entire movie, but he also has favourite moments. We know these moments are popular with Noodle because he becomes quite animated and insistes that you watch, by grabbing you with his sweet little hands and often panting, which is his way of saying “doggie”. Every time his favourite horse comes on the screen he says “neigh neigh!” and he furrows his little brow whenever it’s a tense moment or tragedy strikes. He wants to watch this movie at least once a day, and we indulge him because, well, here’s why I’m writing.

I get a thick lump in my throat and a stinging behind the eyes when I witness how much my little baby boy loves this movie. It seems a ridiculous thing to get emotional about, doesn’t it? I don’t know why his love of Lassie affects me so…

It could be because I love dogs more than most people, and movies about dogs always make me very emotional. It could be because the little boy in the movie, with his serious face, prominent nose, and sticky-out ears reminds me of Noah. The little boy loves his dog and gets his heart broken. Maybe the film is making me realize that my own little boy is vulnerable and now that he’s old enough to appreciate film, he’s one step closer to being exposed to a world that can be quite cruel? Maybe his infatuation with the movie is making me aware of the depth of feeling that a tiny person can experience which is humbling? Am I depressed because my husband is allergic to pets and I don’t think our children (or I, for that matter) will ever get to enjoy a dog? Does his captivation with this movie  mean that Noah is growing up quicker than I realize and I feel like time is slipping away? I’m not pre-menstrual, could I be peri-menopausal?

Now when I hear the soundtrack from the film, I feel this incredible sense of melancholy or  perhaps its wistfulness. My son seems to understand every nuance of this story that he watches daily, and I’m amazed by this. I realize as I’m typing this that I want to witness him take in every amazing thing he will discover, but of course I can’t. Time is fragile and fleeting and I have such a short window where I get to observe him being moved, or delighted, or touched by the world around him. It feels like there is never enough time to breathe in all of his wonder.



Last night I was feeling a bit out of sorts, likely normal settling-in feelings, but I remarked that I felt like we were on the most boring vacation ever. I have the most wonderful sense of general relaxation here in the country, but also that feeling of unfamiliar territory that comes with vacationing, and we’ve only been able to do a lot of unpacking and laundry thus far – hence the boredom.

I finished setting up my room yesterday, except for hanging some art, and so I decided to take the kids on a little outing to explore some of the local hang outs. The weather threatened thunderstorms, so we chose the Dr. Huq Family Library, which is in a brand new compound that houses the Kiwanis Pool, and the whole thing is situated on the property of the Lester B. Pearson Park. Daddy had to be our chauffeur, but rather than drop us off, he decided to take advantage of the much faster Internet connection at the library and get some work done.

The facilities are beautiful, and built with sustainability in mind. You can check out the very clever specs here.
One thing I’ve really noticed in our few days of country life is how much friendlier people are than in the city. It’s very common for strangers to engage you in a conversation, especially when you have a very cute bunch of ice breakers. The girls each made a couple of friends and we’ve decided to take advantage of the pool with swimming lessons and swim memberships. It’s a great rainy-day refuge for all of us.


Ayla wanted to check out the playground, so she and Noodle and I went to explore while Hannah stayed indoors with Daddy and a book of Greek Mythology. We discovered an amazing splash pad outside that we will definitely visit next time, Ayla worked the playground like the best of schmoozers, and Noah considered the St. Catharine’s grass quality. I think Hannah was as taken with the mythology as Ayla was with the playground because on the trip home she regaled us with tales of Prometheus and Pandora, her eyes round with wonder. I love how much she loves reading and story telling. Ayla is following her lead too – she took home two books from the book sale pile at the library that she proudly pored through for the rest of the afternoon.


Daddy treated us to his delicious barbecue for dinner, marking the first official use of the grill gazebo. I’d say these photos convey just how delicious it was. He always grills to perfection, despite his fussing over the final product. How lucky am I that he takes such pride in his cooking?



So, settling into our new home will be just like a staycation in many ways. There’s so much to discover, it will easily eat up our summer, and I no longer feel like the girls need camp. It’s actually kind of exciting to look forward to so much time with them, and since I get bored as quickly as a child, it will be easy to keep things interesting.


Exploring the area with fun day trips, making the library our new hang out, hiking, grilling food outside, transforming our shaded shelter into a Moroccan paradise – there’s lots to do, and it’s going to be such a nice way to settle in!

Allowing Allowance


Our girls are now nine and seven, and lately our eldest has been asking for an allowance. All three parents grew up with allowance once we reached a certain age, so we weren’t opposed to this concept, but we definitely wanted to have some shared goals in rolling this out to the kids.

  1. We didn’t want to tie doing basic helping tasks to a monetary reward. We all help take care of our home because we love our home and each other. We don’t want anyone to feel like they are getting paid to do the tasks that we’d like to nurture some pride in.
  2. We didn’t want the girls to get competitive over allowance. Rather than tie monetary value to chores, we agreed on a set amount per week that was the same for both girls. These two monkeys will compete over who can get the most air. Homeschooling them is going to be a real trip.
  3. We wanted to teach the children smart money management, social responsibility, and some value around money.

Here’s what we did:

Using the Melissa and Doug Responsibility Charts that we bought for the girls a while back, we create a list of suitable household responsibilities that were the same for both girls.

On a Sunday night after dinner we let them know that now that they are seven and nine years old, we felt like they were at the right age to take on some added responsibility in our home. We directed them to have a look at their charts and had a chat about what their responsibilities were, and how we expected them to take pride in caring for our home together.

We let them know that another part about growing older and more responsible was being given the responsibility of a weekly allowance (here there was much cheering and celebration) and that every Sunday they would each receive five dollars.

Then we explained that an allowance was a great responsibility because it helped them learn how to be respectful of money. We let them know that they could spend or keep two dollars of their allowance, and that they would save two dollars of their allowance, and give one dollar of their allowance to our family charity of choice – the Aga Khan Foundation .

To keep their allowances straight, I got them colour-coded glass jars from Dollarama, with one for each portion of their earnings. We’re also keeping track of our wages in a spread sheet, and (probably after the move) we’ll open a bank account for each girl.

Generally, it’s going very well, with the exception of the time we were over a week late with paying out, and my mother suggested we add a dollar of interest. The kids definitely thought that was a good plan!

How have you handled allowance with your kids? How are you teaching them to be responsible with money?