Sunday, December 28, 2008

Christmas 2008


Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hot Unschooly Resource of the Week

We are in love with The Way We Work by David Macauley. Love, love, love. Especially the picture of the enormous anus dumping poop into,um, dump trucks. Learning is fun! Big thanks to my big bro Clancy for the Amazon gift certificate so we could buy our own copy.

Frankly, we're nuts about everything by this guy. The New Way Things Work never gets put back on the shelf--even though the text in both books is waaaaaay over a four-year-old's head the illustrations aren't--nor, have I found, are the concepts. We now have a David Macauley-themed coffee table. And Black and White ain't too shabby either. Three cheers for David Macauley!

(The fact that the author was a good friend to my grandmother doesn't even influence how I feel about him. Okay, maybe a little.)

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Quote of the Day

"I must sit on the red and blue stool, Mommy. It is the Supermaniest, don't you see?"

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Birdman's Song

As I type, Charlie is singing an impromptu riff in the bathtub. It goes a little like this:

Mama is queen of the Congo
Hip Hip Hooray!
Happy Birthday to Meeeeeeeee!
Happy Magic to meeeeeeeeee!
And you are magic,
And you are magic,
Ooo eeee oooo eee ooo
Game over.

Monday, November 24, 2008


Charlie's 4th birthday party:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Charlie's in his Superman costume, watching a documentary about the classic Superfriends cartoon series of the late 60's.

He sits rapt, beaming, while various experts of the comic world laud Superman. The greatest of the great.

Then the focus of the program moves to Batman and Robin. The commentators all agree that while Superman reigns supreme, "Batman and Robin have better costumes." Charlie is shocked. He looks down at his get-up, exclaiming,

"That's impossible! No one could ever beat me."

Upon further contemplation, he decides he'd make a better impression completely dressed. Hopping off the chair, he declares, "I better go put on my boots."

He walks out of the room, muttering to himself. "Great Scot! Where are my boots? Batman? Impossible!"

Monday, November 17, 2008

Super Everything

Many children have an alter ego. Or two. Charlie, on the other hand, has--wait, how many people are there in the world? (Don't forget to include imaginary characters.)

"I'm Superman! No, I'm Plasticman! I'm Wonder Woman! I'm Santa Claus! I'm Superchicken!"

A typical conversation:
"Charlie, would you like some bubble bath?"
"I'm Becky."
"Becky, would you like some bubble bath?"
"I'm a baby."
"Are you baby Charlie or baby Becky?"
"I'm baby Superman."
"Baby Superman, would you like some bubble bath?"
"Oh yes, please. Baby Superman loves bubble bath."

On one hand, it can be a little difficult to keep current. On the other hand, I don't think the kid has ever been bored in his life.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Pieces of Halloween


Saturday, November 1, 2008


Look in the dictionary under "extrovert", and there's a picture of our Charlie.

Our trick-or-treating expedition started with a block-and-a-half run, full tilt down the hill towards a house with huge, lighted displays. "I must get there fast!" puffed Superman-encostumed Charlie, as we jogged along after him. "I'm the fastest! Nobody will get there before me!" Assurances that the display and candy would be there for hours fell on deaf ears.

Just as we reached the house, another kid walked up in a Spiderman costume. The boys went up to the door together. Spiderman put his hand on the doorknob. "Not so fast, Spiderman!" Charlie boomed in his Superman-iest voice. The other kid, twice Charlie's age, shrank back. As we left, a kid in a Batman costume happened along, "Hello, Superman!" yelled Batman. "Why hello, Batman!" responded Charlie. "We're friends in the league of justice!"

At every house, Charlie met people with delight. "Trick or treat! What are you watching on TV? Can I pet your cat? What's back there? Can I have two of these? This one is my favorite." In between houses, he ran, yelling, "I aaaammmmmm SUUUUUPERMAAAAAAAN! I'm the strongest!" until finally he stumbled to a walk, and then announced, "Superman is tired. Superman wants his mommy to carry him." Which I did, back home to inspect the haul and then drift off,full and content.

This morning his eyes popped open at six o'clock. "Is Halloween over? Yes? Awwwwww. How long until Easter?"

Friday, October 31, 2008

Back in Black

We were painting clay bats for Halloween.

I poured black paint in a tray for Charlie. "Not that!" he cried in distress. "Bat colour."

"What's bat colour?" I enquired, just a touch testily. At nearly four, he's become quite particular about art.

"It's all colors mixed together except black," he explained.

I offered the opinion that all the colours mixed together would make... black, but he was adamant. So we did it.

"See? Bat colour," he said. And it was. Black, but an earthy, swirly, batty black. A murky black that held secrets. A black that suggested life. A black that soon came to decorate a large part of the dining room table.

Happy Halloween, everyone.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Global SuperBoy

"I'd like to be a superhero," said Charlie, who was wearing his Superman halloween costume at the time. "I will wear a cape and fly up in the sky and do yoga."

"Sounds like fun," I responded.

"And I will eat the wind and it will taste like lemon and then I will shoot lemon out my fingertips and share it with all the people."

"Yum!" I said.

"Let's go to bed," he said. "And I will dream about it."

And so we did.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Love: Grandma, Grandpa, Jonas


Saturday, September 13, 2008

Sick Day

Charlie's got a little cold right now, and he's unusually clingy. I fully admit to enjoying it--he's so on the go these days we don't sit and cuddle nearly as much as we used to. When he's sick, however, I feel justified in sitting with him on my lap for hours while we read and watch Curious George. "Make a circle, Mommy," he demands, and I obligingly sit cross-legged to make a chair of myself. He snuggles in, wipes his nose on my shirt, and sighs contentedly. We sit, quiet and warm, our hearts beating together.

There's nothing I want in the world more than for him to grow up, to become a healthy, autonomous, adventurous adult who doesn't "need" his Mommy.

But please, let the time crawl between now and then. Because there's nothing better than cradling a warm bundle of love and snot in my lap.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Charlie Runs


Sunday, September 7, 2008

What We're Reading Now

Charlie's recent faves:

Ballerina by Peter Sis
Do You Want to Be My Friend? and Mister Seahorse by Eric Carle
Underground by David MacCaulay
The Peace Book by David Parr
Stella, Queen of the Snow by Marie-Louise Gay
and our own gnome stories that we write and illustrate, of course!

Mom's nightstand:

The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb
Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut
Near a Thousand Tables: A History of Food by Felipe Fernandez-Armesto

And if, dear reader you want a bit of an idea why we are autodidactic, experiental, interest-based home learners here--check out this Ted talk!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Any Kind Of 'Cation

We had a fun vacation on Prince Edwared Island. Fun, but tiring. As soon as we got home John and I started talking about taking a "staycation" next time--planning a few dedicated days off work to focus on spending our time together and having fun as a family.

A couple days later Charlie commandeered the cooler. He filled it to the brim with an intriguing variety of items, including but not limited to: five tennis balls, a set of blocks, a pasta maker, and two cans of root beer.

"What are you doing?" I asked him.

"Packing," he answered, a little tersely. I'm always asking him these obvious questions.

"Packing for what?" I enquired.

He stopped, sighed patiently, and turned to me. "Pretendcation," he said.

Sounds like fun to me.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Our Prince Edward Island Vacation


Sunday, August 10, 2008

Rules of the Game

Mom: What did you do at Lala's house today?
Charlie: I played with her restaurant!
Dad: Lala has a restaurant?
Mom: It's a little plastic restauarant. It's a bone of contention between the two of them.
Dad: What food do they serve in the restaurant?
Charlie: (slightly condescendingly) No food, Daddy, it's not a real restaurant. It's just pretend.
Dad: Yes, but a pretend restaurant serves pretend food. What kind of pretend food do they serve?
Charlie: Pizza!
Daddy: Is it good pizza?
Charlie: Oh yes, Daddy. It's delicious.

Speaking of delicious, we had the most lovely little picnic brunch on the beach this morning. We went to Hirtles, where we built a marina, played with bivalves, and watched a girl surf with her grandparents. We're taking the bodyboard with us next time.

Friday, August 1, 2008

July Pics


Sunday, July 27, 2008

Growth Spurt

"What's that say?" Charlie asks, pointing at a word in a book. "What's that say? What's that say?"

"Red," I reply. "Shoes". "Giraffe". But the thing is, he already knows. It's part of his learning pattern to say, "Hmmm, that looks like 'red'" in his head, then check with me for validation. Last week he took Green Hat, Blue Hat out of my hands and read it to me, pointing out where each word was while he did it. He's rediscovered that book along with his other board books, and now he's using them to step up to reading.

Where did my baby go? It's leaps and bounds all over the place these days. Fearless ones, too. We go to Sand Dollar beach and he runs out into the waves up to his chin. "Let's go out to sea, Mommy!" he says. "I want to walk to the lighthouse." We went to the Big Ex (like a county fair in the States) and he begged to ride every ride. Especially the big, scary ones. (He had to settle for the choo choo train and the busy bee.)

We're planning a camping vacation to PEI in a couple weeks. He's angling to go snorkeling at Seal Cove. I had to honey him off my laptop to write this post--he was busy navigating around Yahoo photos of seals. On his own. He's going to be better than me with a mouse in about a day and a half.

And I just put away another round of too-small clothes and mined the size 4 stash for new wardrobe selections. There are gaps of new, white skin in his hip joints and ankles, complete with stretch marks. Last week he jumped on a big boy bike (with training wheels) at the big box store and took right off. I think we'll wait until next year to buy one, but he's clearly ready.

Yay, my baby's growing up! and Waah! my baby's growing up.

PS May I once again extend a heartfelt thanks to Sandra Boynton for making toddler texts bearable, and to my aunt Sallea, who first introduced me to her. Thank you!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Freakin' HUZZAH

100% out of diapers.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

June in Pictures


Monday, July 7, 2008


It was hot. Most of the animals were just lying around--hot panthers, hot wallabies, hot zebras. The camels' humps were droopy. The gibbon nursed her new baby while swinging slowly from the,er, monkey bars.

Charlie went on his first pony ride. The second we entered the corral he zipped to the mounting post and was up and on the horse's back yelling, "go!" while we ran to catch up. Luckily that hot, tired pony was used to ignoring the dictates of three-year-olds.

We had a picnic of fried chicken, biscuits, and local strawberries before heading home over South Mountain. We were tired. It was good.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Almost TOO Nova Scotia

John and Charlie went to the beach tonight. I stayed home to slice up a dozen quarts of local, no-spray strawberries and stick them in the freezer for winter.

Mise-en-scène: While they were building a sandcastle, a team of horses came along pulling a wooden wagon full of children. They trotted down the beach, then pulled the wagon along through the shallow water for a piece.

Charlie chased crows and danced in the surf. He threw rocks in the water. He scrambled over boulders. Then they came home to me, to strawberries and love.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

I Think We Have a Theme Song

What could be better suited to an unschooled trumpet afficionado than this?

Big, big thanks to Eggmama for the recommendation!

Thursday, June 26, 2008


Charlie and I have been enjoying Boohbah on the French channel (TV is pretty simple at our house; we get the 'French' channel and the 'English' channel). He asked if we could get it on DVD. "I don't know, we could ask at Blockbuster," I answered vaguely.

Fast forward a week. We go to Blockbuster. Charlie wanders around the kids section, searching the shelves. Then he marches up to the front counter. "Um, excuse me," he addressed the clerk, "do you have any Boohbah?"

Sadly, the answer was no. The clerk was taken aback by his behavior. "How old is he?" she demanded of me.

I've been getting that one a lot these days. Charlie's exploding verbal skills and fearless social nature, in conjunction with his slightly elfin size, knock a few people off kilter. It's fun.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Charlie Bird

Charlie was pretending to play the trumpet today by blowing on his finger while making trumpety noises. He explained the music process to me.

"See?" he said. "The music comes from my heart (pointing at his chest) and it comes up here (pointing to his cheeks) and out my mouth. Then it goes in your ears and down into your tummy and then you have a heart, too."

And that's jazz, baby.

Monday, June 16, 2008

That's Our Boy

Charlie: "Look Daddy, I'm drawing an airplane. See? Here's the propeller and this is the battery and this makes it go."

Daddy: "Oh? Who's providing security for the plane?"

Charlie: "The Man, Daddy."

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

What's in an Image?


Yesterday John and Charlie took a stroll down to the harbour to look at the ships, as they often do in nice weather. Unfortunately, the Bluenose was not in port. After having a look around at some of the other vessels, Charlie spotted a dime lying on the dock. "Look, here it is!" he exclaimed. "It got small and went on the dime!"

And yes, there is indeed an image of the Bluenose on the Canadian dime. There's no convincing Charlie that the ship on his "lucky" dime is anything but the original deal. Gotta love the magical, mystical world of three year olds--and there's no better place to nurture it than here.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Heroes and Rounds

Today Charlie had me draw a button on his tummy with the letters "SC" underneath. He presses it to turn into Supercharlie. He has cool sound effects for the transformation, too.

He sings a lot these days. And composes. After a few rounds of "Rain, rain, go away" he made up the following song:

Rain, it's okay
You can stay
Because I love you

Friday, May 23, 2008

Baby Chef

2 comments he wishes to be called.

New Cloud


Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Gnome Stories

One day, the three gnomes that live in the back of the Jeep were hungry. They snuck out of the Jeep and went to the back of King Charlie's house. There was a cake on the porch! King Charlie had made a cake for the gnomes to eat! And they ate it and then they were full. And they went back to the jeep and took a nap. And they were happy. The End.

--as told by Charlie,
late at night
in the dark.

Saturday, May 10, 2008


Charlie wrapped a ribbon around his wrist and said, "Oh, no! Supercharlie is tangled up again."

This is the first we've heard of Supercharlie. I figured I'd better document it in case it became a thing.

Monday, May 5, 2008


Charlie is into machines. Specifically, inventing them. Tonight we taped together various things from the kitchen--a pen, a rubber band, a yogurt container lid, a nozzle for piping icing. It featured both a button and a thing that went round and round, the two main elements of a successful machine. Charlie wrote a "boopint" on a post-it note...

Why do so many of our great moments feature post-it notes?

...and then we showed the whole contraption to Daddy before Charlie went up to drift off, snuggled up under our wedding ring quilt on a drizzly, foggy, Maritime evening.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Spring Shots


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Book Look

I thought you all might appreciate an update on what we've been reading lately. (And by "you all" I really mean Egg Mama and my aunt Sallea, the only people I know for sure read this blog.)

Canadians go wild over Canadian artists, musicians, and authors. And I'm all for supporting our artists, but let me be the first to say that I've had it with Robert Munsch. Robert Munsch sucks. He is cutsie-poo in an 'epitome of bad art' kind of way. He's perfect for people who don't think real art is for kids, or vice versa.

Marie Louise Gay, on the other hand, is a genius. We've read every single book of hers our library has to offer, and have bought several that they don't. I have a soft spot for Fat Charlie's Circus (for obvious reasons), and I'm turning Caramba into a puppet show for an upcoming church service. And of course, all the Sam and Stella books are beyond compare.

We`ve also been reading everything we can get our hands on by David Shannon. Charlie clearly identifies with David. Heavily. I was, at first, taken aback by the harsh and rule-driven dynamic of David Goes To School... until I realized it was perfect for explaining to Charlie why he's not going to school! I'm sure that's not what David Shannon intended, but I appreciate the help anyway.

Thursday, April 17, 2008


So... John and Charlie were getting ready to go for a walk. Charlie was engrossed in his low rider (picture Santa and two reindeer with shades on in a red convertible sedan that bounces up and down while playing Low Rider. Thanks again, Sue Ann. No, really.)

And I was trying to get his jacket on him, interfering with his play. Both of us were getting frustrated. I started to explain why we needed to get his jacket on now, and and he turned to me, took a deep breath, and nicely but firmly said,

"Please calm down!"

I went and sat on the couch. He finished whatever scene he was producing in the neverending Charlie show, we put his jacket on, and everyone was happy.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Dinner Conversation

Charlie: Is this my ketchup?

Mommy: Yes. It's our ketchup, it's your ketchup and my ketchup and Daddy's ketchup.

Charlie: It's our ketchup? And we keep it in the fridge.

Daddy: Yes. That's where our food goes.

Charlie: What's that? (pointing at a bottle of beer)

Mommy: That's my beer.

Charlie: Is it our beer?

Mommy: No, it's my beer. Beer is just for adults.

Charlie: No, it came from the fridge, so it's our beer. I want some of my beer.

(Note: He settled for apple juice. Same colour as beer, and also, satisfyingly, from the fridge.)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Ho Ha Hee

And, of course, Easter eggs.

Monday, March 17, 2008

More Ho

We ran out of cookies.

Luckily, Santa likes hot dogs, too.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Ho Ho Hooey

The Santa craze continues.

It's March.

I thought we were past it, I really did. It's been weeks since Charlie has asked to make presents out of playdoh, or compelled me to play the part of Prancer, or even tried to climb up on the roof to search for evidence of a sleigh.

Yesterday, out of the blue, he said, "Where's Santa Claus? I miss him," with a heavy sigh. "Ah well, he's making presents at the North Pole. So it's okay. But I miss him."

Today he concocted a beverage for Santa, made from flour, water, and a healthy dose of Abuelita syrup (yes, it's our secret Nestle shame). He put it out with a plate of chocolate cookies, then wandered off in a deliberately casual manner. `Cause you never know.

I thought about disabusing him from his jolly notions, but who am I to go up against the Big Guy? And after all... the cookies were delicious.

Thursday, February 21, 2008



Monday, February 18, 2008


"Can I move my chair?" asks Charlie in polite, winning tones. He wants to sit on top of the dishwasher to help me make playdough.

"Yes," I say.

"Oh, good. How convenient!" he answers with relief. "'Cause I'm making angel surprise cake with rasperry fluff icing. And frosting. Icing and frosting. For Grandma."

Seriously? Convenient? The kid started talking, like, last week. I just can't keep up.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


Charlie is 3. Quintessentially 3. It's an intense time. He's growing and changing in wild spurts, poking at the boundaries of his world, boomeranging out away from me and crashing back. He needs his Mom frequently, but like any good artist he tells his truth slant. It goes something like this.

He melts down into child's pose and says in a muffled voice, "I'm an egg. Pick me up and put me on the couch. No, the big couch." "My dear little egg," I reply, snuggling him closely. "How I love my egg! I love to hold my dear little egg and keep it warm. I can't wait until my egg hatches and I can see my little hatchling's face." I've learned not to say "Charlie" because he isn't always being Charlie. Sometimes it's Max or George.

Slowly, he emerges from behind his hands and uncurls his legs. "Hello, my hatchling!" I croon. "Welcome to the world."

We take a long, deep, quiet breath together.

I think, if I ever have Alzheimer's and live in fragments of the past... please let this be one. That would be OK.

Then zippity zap, he bounds off again. Usually to ride his tricycle (aka the zoopercar) madly around the house. Did you know that if you pour flour on the kitchen floor and ride a trike through it as many times as possible while Mom's taking a leak you can disseminate it nearly evenly throughout a 1200 square foot house? Science is fun!

Sunday, February 3, 2008


Charlie has been experimenting with the concepts of regular days and "special" days. We have a cabinet full of unusual dishes that is designated the Holiday cabinet. He longs to open it. "Is today a holiday?" he'll ask, inching towards the cabinet, hand outstretched in hopeful anticipation. Unfortunately for him, the answer is hardly ever "yes".

So he's decided to make up his own. "Today is Climbing Day," he announced last week as he scaled the radiator behind my chair at dinner. "I can climb up here because it's Climbing Day today." My immediate retort of, "no, today is not Climbing Day," caused him to smile. Charlie knows that you win the argument by framing the argument.

Since then we have witnessed the declarations of TV Day, Naked Day, and Coke Day. Just as it was getting old, he shifted to a focus on the clock. "Six o'clock!" he announced this morning. "Time for chocolate!"

(well. just a little chocolate.)

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


Charlie, narrating conversations between two toy dinosaurs:

Dino 1: Do you want to play with me?
Dino 2: Yes! Let's go swimming!
Dino 1: OK! (both jump into a bowl of water).

Dino 1: Do you want to play with me?
Dino 2: No! I want to eat you.
Dino 1: Oh no, don't eat me!
Dino 2: Oh, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you (these must be Canadian dinosaurs) Do you want to swim?
Dino 1: OK! (again with the water)

Friday, January 18, 2008


Much cuteness abounds lately.

We're hearing opinions on music. "I like this pretty noise. This is a nice song," of Duke Ellington's Harlem Congo. "Turn it off. Turn it off now." of Kenna. (Sorry, Kenna. I like ya!)

He brought me a post-it. "Write, 'Speedy Gonzales, the fastest mouse in all Mexico'," he instructed me. Then he slapped it on his chest and ran around the house, shrieking in toddler cartoon Spanish.

The other night Charlie asked John for some cashews. He ate one and walked around with the other held above his head. "Look, Mommy, far away! It's the moon!"

Sunday, January 13, 2008


We all had a lovely afternoon at Ross Farm yesterday. Highlights included samples of home-made ice cream at the cooperage; watching the blacksmiths heat up a wagon rim in a bonfire and then fit it onto a wagon wheel; some scary geese; a purr factory of a tabby kitten in the horse barn; hot chocolate in the one-room schoolhouse (operational until 1959!); and a hilarious farty pig.

On our way out we stopped at the gift shop to look over some of the wooden things made on the farm. We considered wind chimes and a butter churn, then left with a nice tasting spoon for me and a little bank for Charlie. All morning he has been trading back and forth between "building words" with his alphabet cookie cutters and putting money in the bank. I think I'll go borrow a little of his work ethic.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Tortoises, Trikes, and "T"s

Wow, lots of pics and not too many words lately! Time to change the trend.

After watching a few episods of Word World on PBS over the holidays, Charlie has plunged into a fascination with letters. Grandma gave him a beautiful puzzle with his name in wooden letters for Christmas which he's been playing with non-stop. I bought him a complete set of small wooden letters in addition. Yesterday the three of us went to Halifax to visit the Museum of Natural History again and while Charlie was excited to watch Gus the 85 year old tortoise walking through the halls, he was mostly thrilled by all the signs in the museum.

And of course, we're reading like gangbusters. Recent favorites include Harry the Dirty Dog and our new holiday classic, The Everything Seed: A Story of Beginnings.

Now we're off to try out his new trike outside, a Christmas gift from my much esteemed and much loved Aunt Sallea.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Christmas Morning