Monday, November 30, 2009
Here's to hoping for the good phase again. Or else I will have to threaten deferral of putting up the Christmas lights. The J Boy is nothing if he's not into the seasonal decorating.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Yesterday I was in Jackson's class for "not-so-noisy-math". A few parents play math games with the kids with a view to increasing their facility with numbers.
The game of choice yesterday was rolling dice, making two digit numbers and adding them up. So eventually they are adding up a 3 digit number and a 2 digit number.
The grade three's had a white board to work out the answers or they could use a hundred's chart. I had to do it in my head. Generally this was not too hard for me as the grade three triple digit addition is emerging so I had time to work out the answer. But one girl in the class was pretty quick and did it in her head. She was adding 126 and 43.
"169" she said as the teacher watched on.
"Not quite" I said.
"159?" she tried.
"Yes!" I was impressed with this kid's skills.
But it didn't seem right. "I think that's right", I said, trying to remember what numbers she was adding so I could double check.
"Actually, I think it is 169" the teacher said.
Apparently my addition skills are also emerging.
Monday, November 23, 2009
"Jackson, wouldn't it be cool to have a DS game where you could actually grow a garden? And then after you grew all the vegetables, you could make a salad?"
Later I let it "slip" that the game was "Garden Mania", and then berated myself that I could not keep a secret. I lamented that I would never be a spy.
I did reassure him and Daddy and I checked out the game and it was a great one for 8 year olds.
The J Boy.
Saturday, November 21, 2009
This year, I took no prisoners and started talking enthusiastically about a movie party to Jackson in October. Fortunately the good folks at Teletoon were my unwitting accomplices. They have been playing a trailer for the movie Planet 51 since Mother's Day. It's pretty much your 8 year old dream movie: aliens, slapstick humour and toxic pee. Jackson postured a little, and pretended he was considering a bowling birthday for about a day before he bit from the Mommy apple. About a nanosecond later, I had the party booked.
We even worked on the guest list early. I had thought this might be the year to go with maybe just 3 friends, but he had other ideas. So we invited his 3 cousins in his approximate age range and a half dozen kids from school.
I went simple with the cupcakes:
I assembled the goodie bags. In shameless gender stereotyping I went with Star Wars for the boys (purchased early and on sale!):
And crafts for the girls.
Jackson was pretty excited:...and enjoyed every minute.
Another 8 years and he can drive himself the the movie theatre.
Which will be nice because escorting 11 kids from party room to popcorn stand in a crowded theatre with a bathroom stop for 5 of the 11 is a little nerve racking if you're hoping to still have 11 kids at the end of the movie. At the end of the day, there seemed enough parents for kids, so I'll call it a resounding success.
Friday, November 20, 2009
2. A little income tax, a lot of coffee and a few laughs with colleagues from across the country. We were generally NOT laughing about the Income Tax Act.
Monday, November 16, 2009
This year the proverbial gloves are off. Jackson gets a list on Monday and a test on Friday. The words the lad is coming home with are hard core. Coniferous. Responsibility. I barely know how to spell those without my old pal spellcheck.
So we have 4 nights to accomplish this incredible feat of learning spelling words. Jackson, to put it mildly, is not a rote learner. He won't, as many of his classmates might, write out the words 5 times a night and have them down pat.
We must find a thinking boy's way of remembering that it's c-a-m-e-r-a- not c-a-m-a-r-a, even though it kind of sounds like the latter. It goes like this: you take pictures using your eye; eye starts with E, so it's camEra.
We look for words inside of words. There is an "is" in divison. An "ear" in learning.
And sometimes we just try to pound in his head that "shun" at the end of the word is never spelled the way it sounds. It's usually "tion". Unless it's "sion".
Jackson was struggling this week with coniferous. He started by spelling it canefirus. We started by talking about coniferous trees and that they have cones so the word must start with CON. There is an IF inside the word. Then with sheer determination I drilled into his head that there is an ER in there. But the OUS eluded both of us. Each time he spelled coniferus. I would correct his U-S by saying loudly O-U-S. I did it so often that I told him to just hear in his head my yelling O-U-S. That seemed to work.
The past couple weeks Jackson has added some d-e-f-i-a-n-c-e into the spelling sessions. Though he wants to learn the words theoretically, he just doesn't want to stop doing whatever his is doing (current favourite activity torturing his sister) long enough to work on i-n-v-i-s-i-b-l-e.
So he lost some privileges and I found some new grey hairs (they're gone now) and we battled through two weeks of spelling with good success on the weekly tests.
This week Daddy will have the privilege of battling the spelling monster. If it works out I might just fake an injury next week.
Saturday, November 14, 2009
Husband is mosting filling in for me. He'll work from home, and some shorter days at that. He'll be both of us. To assist him in this feat, I prepared notes for each day I'll be gone.
Husband is very hands on with the kids, and has no allergy to the day-to-day hard work of running a household. But certain things I take care of all the time. I work half time so it's part of the deal. I work halftime to make the family life less nutty so I handle certain things.
So I am reconciled to either nightly hour long phone conversation with Husband to remind him when library books are due and which days are gym days OR making long lists of things to do each day. I figure the latter will be the easiest on both of us.
Fortunately I am going to a gorgeous resort in the wilderness. And they have a spa. And I have 10 hours of flying time to make lists for when I get back.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Because she is sensitive, she wants to please and not get in trouble. She is generally very obliging. You combine this with her excellent memory and she will actually remember to occasionally bring her dishes to the counter. And if she doesn't she'll apologize for it.
When it comes to parenting a sensitive child we are very mindful of her seemingly fragile state. Even the slightest tenseness in my tone and she'll accuse me of yelling. Or say she is afraid.
Just today, the kids were bickering about something. I went to the family room to ensure things did not escalate to where any furniture might be thrown across the room.
Jackson immediately gave his side of the story (not that I asked). It was incomprehensible. "Sydney and I ... and then she wanted the guy ... but the yo-yos ... and I told her it was dangerous. You know ... because of the guys."
Sydney did not hang around long enough to give her side of the story, or to see if I was even listening. She stomped upstairs wailing and expelling large tears. I take it she disagreed with Jackson's version of events.
At school, she is keen not to offend, does not like being called out and is an extremely obedient and conscientious student. However, she is in the middle of a turf was between 2 girls on the playgrounds at lunch hour. Both girls are older than her and have strong personalities. Unfortunately, she is the turf that is being fought over.
Girl 1 asks her to play and she obliges. Girl 2 comes up and takes her away and she is unable to say no to Girl 2 and feels she has wounded Girl 1. Just this weekend, she made an "I'm-sorry-will-you-forgive-me" card when this scenario happened (again) last week and Girl 1 burst into tears. It's all the more complicated because the 2 competing playmates, appear to be mortal enemies. As I said, she is the turf in turf war.
Husband and I struggle with how to deal with all of this sensitivity. She is who she is. We cant jump in and protect her from life, tempted as I may be. We can't change her. But honestly, I wish we could toughen her up a little bit. Let her roll with the punches a bit more. Not take everything to heart.
Last week Sydney's teacher, asked to see me. Mrs. K really understands Sydney and told me she has a daughter (now in her twenties) who has a very similar personality to Sydney.
Mrs. K told me what happened in class with a tear in her eye: "We have a boy in our class who has been having a hard time paying attention and keeping quiet in class. Yesterday he was going around the room and was really trying hard to be a good student and friend and he was asking the children if he could help them clean up. Student after student declined his offer. Sydney saw him ask again and again and she went to the other side of the room to ask him if he could help her clean up. She knew what this boy needed was to help that day."
I know we'll have more hurt feelings and tears and upset in our future. But now I don't want to toughen her up at all. She is sensitive to others in a way I will never be. And the world needs more like her.
Friday, November 6, 2009
They love to rank the four of us in just about anything: whose birthday is earliest in the year, who owns the most princesses, who likes cleaning the house the most. (Mommy always ranks the highest on that one.)
On this occasion they were talking about who was the smallest in the family.
"I'm the smallest, then Jackson, the Mommy, then Daddy" Sydney proclaimed.
"No" Jackson corrected, "it goes Sydney, me, Daddy, Mommy."
"I'm the OLDEST. Daddy is the biggest."
"Daddy is the tallest, but you are the biggest."
"Daddy is taller than me, and he weighs more than me. How can I be the biggest?"
I can't believe we are having this conversation.
"Daddy is tallest. That is up and down. But BIGGEST is side to side. And you are the biggest side to side." He added for emphasis "Mommy I'm not talking up and down, I'm talking side to side."
Just for the record, that is not true. And even if it was, those are childbearing hips and should hardly count.
Monday, November 2, 2009
This is our rec room. It has mostly been a toy graveyard for the 3.5 years we haved lived in this house. The most popular played-with toys have always had their official and mostly theoretical homes in a) the family room b) the upstairs play room or c) the kids' rooms. In actual fact these alpha toys have been in the middle of the floor in any room of the house so Husband or I can trip over them and I have an excuse to be exasperated. The toys in the rec room were the lesser played with ones or ones I was too lazy to purge.
With the great purge of 2009 in full swing, we have removed virtually all toys from the kids' rooms. We've put a small subset of the popular toys in the upstairs playroom along with the games and have one small basket of "character" toys in the family room. My plan was to create a fun playspace in the basement that is organized so the kids will know where the toys are and, importantly, KNOW WHERE TO PUT THEM AWAY.
Husband agreed to take the kids to a birthday party on Sunday afternoon so I could get to the task in seclusion.
Honestly it was hard to know where to start. I brought out a recyling box, an enmormous garbage can and designated one side of the room as "give-away". It was slow work at first, but after an hour I have made great headway.
It bordered on ridiculous how far spread out certain games and toys were. I found marbles EVERYWHERE. I had neither had any idea how many marbles we owned, nor what the kids would ever want to do with so many of them.
It was a bit of a trip down memory lane. I came across the colourful woodens blocks that we gave Jackson for Christmas when he was 13 months old (do not ask me why THAT is using up memory space in my head as opposed to something useful like remembering to send Sydney's planner to school today). It came with 100 blocks. I was borderline obsessive-compulsive counting the blocks every time we played with them. If I found only 99, I would look for the lost sheep.
One time I brought the blocks to my parents as we were going to spend the day. My father observed my neuroses and actually went to his workshop and made an extra one, thinking it would drive me crazy when one day I counted 101!
Well I counted on Sunday and found only 92 and that only slightly bothered me. But I found about 5 more spread throughout the basement and after almost 7 years, I think losing about 4 of them is entirely respectable.
I also found something else I used to count daily: Jackson's Hot Wheels cars. I used to know how many and what colour. If I only found 16 of 17 I could immediately scan and realize the YELLOW firetruck was missing.
As long as I'm making counting confessions, you should know that I also used to count crayons. Yes, we had so few that I used to count them. I theorized that if I did not leave a stray purple crayon on the floor, a certain creative someone (see photo) could not adorn the walls with it while I was checking email one day.
You won't be surprised to hear that I did all this before Sydney was born. I was at home full time and was not about to put all those hours of daylight to any real productive use, like keeping the house clean and tidy. No I kept track of stuff.
Keeping track of stuff is one of the many things I gave up when I had a second child, like good personal hygiene and any semblance of sanity.
(Photos of the final room, which Jackson has renamed "Fun Hous", when it's completed. You know I'll need to brag).
Sunday, November 1, 2009
We thought we'd do something fun and kill a few hours in the afternoon. We went to a nearby university where they were having "Science Spooktacular". Physics and chemistry with a Halloween theme.
I always hear from people going to these kinds of family events: "We took the kids to the renaissance fair on the weekend. They loved the costumes and the play and the sword fighting!"
Whenever we attempt these events I always feel we line up for 3 times as much time as we actually do anything fun. One ill-fated Canada Day trip we joined a very long face painting lineup we realized that the face painter had gone for lunch and we were waiting for him to come back. The line up only moved when people realized the lineup was for nothing and left. Then we lined up for 30 minutes so the kids could take 2 slides down an inflatable slide and then we went home.
So off we went to see some Spooktacular Science but not before some terse words for Jackson who refused at the last minute to go as he had become engrossed in a Scooby Doo Halloween episode.
We arrived and saw professors and students were demonstrating science experiments. A lot of it would have been quite interesting but you couldn't get very close to see or hear what was going one. At one table we waited long enough for Sydney to get to the front only to be mid experiment. "Why do you think this egg is floating?" How would we know. We were at the back when you started.
They had a one hour show and we went to get seats about 30 minutes early. Husband tried to convince the progeny that they could look at some other experiments while Mommy saved the seats but they insisted on staying. They burned through all the snacks and water I had on me and finally the show started. It was 5 minutes in when Jackson put his head down on my shoulder. I thought he might have been bored as the narration left a little to be desired in terms of capturing the imagination of kids.
No. He was hungry. He had an enormous lunch and snacks. He whined and moaned and begged to leave. Then Husband remembered they were handing out free popcorn out in the hall so I went and lined up.
We saw some very cool fiery pumpkins and some balloons explosions and some hair stand on end. It was okay. But I won't be bragging about it.
And this evening was the trick or treating. Jackson was a little testing over a number of things. (his trick or treating bag, my taking a picture) but was very pleased with his haul of candy.
And so here are our two trick or treaters:
And sorting their candy.
I wonder where they get that from?
Oh and we had 55 kids, 2 more than last year. They were fairly evenly distributed through out the evening with the biggest bubble in distribution between 6:30 and 7:00.