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Monday, June 29, 2009

Solutions...

So, frustrated with my perception of 'too late' with Ollie's grade 2 year I decided to put together a plan for doing what I can this summer to help him improve over the summer. The big issues seems to be focus (behavioral) and writing (cognitive/process). I can only do so much with the focus issue as it is one thing to get a a single child to focus and quite another in a class of 28 (what his class in the fall will have). So, today I made a worksheet up asking simple questions about our trip to the museum yesterday. The answers could then be taken and used to write a short story about the day. I am not skilled in Division I. I do not know what they are supposed to be able to do, so I had to rely on Ollie's cues about how skilled he should be. He wasn't happy about the exercise, but once we finished it, he seemed a lot more relaxed about it. He was really stressed about the idea of writing a story. This is hard for me to deal with because prior to this year he would try just about anything fearlessly. This school year has changed him in that regard. I am not sure why, but hopefully I will be able to help him enough so that he is comfortable writing in the fall.

Reporting Blues

After some emails back and forth it has become clear to me that what I thought was good communication with the grade 2 teacher throughout the year was not so good. There is a major failure in the reporting process as well. "Work meets acceptable standard" sounds better than it is and Effort: Satisfactory apparently does not really mean that either. In my mind, if the effort of my child is causing him to achieve below what he is capable of then there is NO WAY you can call that Satisfactory. I have a problem with how many teachers assess and communicate. They do not separate behaviour from ability. Do not tell me 'he is doing fine' when he is in the 50-64%!!! Not when he could be doing so much better. Don't feel like you have to sugar coat the message because you don't want to hurt my feelings. AND if you (as teacher) think that is fine, then that tells me you think my kid is not that bright. That just pisses me off. AND WHY is a "C" = to acceptable standard? I don't get that. I HATE Division I evaluation. I have NO IDEA of what my child is supposed to be doing and no way to gauge it.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

School's Out... Now What?

Oliver finished up on Friday and Gibson had his last day of daycare on Thursday. They both came home with memory books that I will put away in their treasure boxes and then I will cull the rest of the detritus from the bottom of their backpacks. Crafts are lovely in the moment, but I don't want to be carting around 5 billion pastel crayon, macaroni pictures! The sugar cube pyramid will stay but only as long as it stays secure from vermin. Anyhow, I feel a paper purge coming on! I think they both had good years. The Division I reporting system is a bit annoying. If the chart is to be believed then the Descriptor "Work meets acceptable standard" is only 50-64% or a C. If the "Work exceeds the acceptable standard" it is equivalent to a 65-79% or a B. This doesn't make much sense to me and I think that it is the fault of the chart. I will be talking to the teachers next year about this and where I expect Oliver to be. If he is achieving below an A level I will be ticked off. We are talking about a kid who could read at age 4.

A few hours this morning reassured me that my plans for a YMCA Camp for both boys next week is a good thing. I have also registered them in soccer for the following two weeks, but those are shorter, 1 hour a day, 4 day camps. I like the City Soccer camps because they provide for a guaranteed 2 hours of activity for each boy, separate from each other and the only cost $10 a week. So I get 32 hours of activity for $40 (it is actually 64 hours, because while one boy is in the camp the other is playing in the park, but I have to watch whichever boy is in the park). Anyhow, it suits me, because the boys get some structured play with kids other than themselves but they don't have to be away for the whole day. They need some break over the summer, right? Oliver's YMCA camp is a Swim Combo, so I hope they push him a little with that. He'd rather just play and goof off in the water and I want him to gain some skills. I wish there were more short camps for the older kids. Most of the city camps are full day. I can get Gibson into some half day camps but you really have to hunt the brochure for convenient ones. July is pretty much worked out and I will take some time later to look into August.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

My First Mammo...

So, now that I am over 40 I have to endure mammograms. I had my first 2 weeks ago. I expected the squishing and the discomfort (I watch Oprah). I did not expect to have to go back for an ultrasound due to 'unusual tissue' (not scary looking - she reassured me). I am happy to announce that the weird looking tissue was just lymph nodes (and possibly a blood vessel). So, nothing to worry about, which I did for about a week and a half between tests.

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Day in the Past....

Yesterday was Father's Day - Mark's choice of activity. He decided he wanted to go to Fort Edmonton Park. So we did. It was nice. We started at the little carnival and the boys had fun. Gibson didn't want to do the Ferris Wheel, so Mark and Oliver took a spin. We visited the fish pond and walked away with some little prizes (every one's a winner), then the big carousel. I went on with the boys, just to keep an eye on them. We rode the streetcar over to 1920's street and found some food and discovered that every place we went said 'no debit'. Luckily we found $25 on our persons and we could get a few things. The boys didn't mind. The things they wanted to do didn't cost money or else we already had some tickets. The day was overcast but didn't rain, so it was all good that way. Anyhow, we had fun, and really, the lack of debit machines just saved us money in the long run!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

More on Parenting Choices - It's an Evolution...

I read the letters in the Journal today. This whole issue is coloured by generalizations and judgement and I know, I am not without guilt on that matter. I do try to see the whole picture and I feel comfortable 'thinking aloud' on my blog on this issue as opposed to writing in to the Journal with a snapshot of how I feel at one moment or in reaction to an over-generalized comment that someone else has written that I feel attacks me unfairly (for example, I do not 'do everything' for my kids - I teach them to do things for themselves). Anyhow, I wish this issue wasn't so polarized. I wish we made child-raising a priority in our culture, whether that means compensating those who do it in as a profession more, or stopping the belittlement of those who choose to stay home. I do recognize that just like home-schooling, there are those who do the job well and those that do not. Not every Stay at Home Parent is a saint or a genius at the job. Similarly, there are many who work outside the home, who do so for selfish reasons and who neglect their children to a certain extent - not all, but some. We need to stop fighting about it and find solution to issues that are fair to everyone (or at least most) not just those who work and not just those who stay at home. Sacrifices are made on both sides. Our children will live with the consequences of those choices one way or another.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Don't we want to know what's 'best'?

Lots of buzz about the Iris Evans comments on parenting. I wish I could hear the whole thing, because I think the comment was contextual. Even if it wasn't I wonder what the big deal was. No, I don't wonder, I know who's upset. The same thing happens when someone makes a broad statement about breastfeeding (breast is best), those who chose not to get their noses out of joint. I think we should aspire to what is best, fully acknowledging that there are circumstances that prevent everyone from achieving that. For example, a vaginal delivery is 'best', but I couldn't have one with Oliver (he might not have made it). Do I think that people should schedule c-sections, like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera? NO - that is idiotic. But, a c-section is necessary to prevent a lot of dead babies and mommies. Breast is best, it's a proven fact. There are, however, some women who try and cannot breast feed (inverted nipples, babies not getting enough, etc...). Do I think you should go straight to formula because it's there and convenient? NO - that is a dumb choice. But, formula has saved many a baby who would not get nutrition otherwise. We do not want to villanize those who had no choice in these situations, however, I don't think we should let the other ones 'off the hook' for deliberately making a dumb choice.

Now, the daycare (including all the variations - nanny, day homes, babysitting, etc...) is a little more complicated, because there are plenty of kids who come from families where both parents work that have turned out fine. I think it has more to do with realizing that when you have kids you need to sacrifice something. If you both work during the day and the children are in care, you need to take the time you do have with your kids to form connections and teach them to be good humans. You might have to give up the lifestyle you had pre-children so that instead of martini nights with the girls or beer nights with the guys, you are actually parenting in the evenings. You might also have to push down the daycare-guilt and discipline your child even though you want those few hours to just be fun and wonderful. you don't do your kids any favours in the long run if you abdicate responsibility for their moral development because you feel bad about having to work. I know there are some people who 'have' to work because of the economics of their families, but there are many who choose it. Take responsibility for your choice. If you see that choice damaging your children, you might want to re-visit it.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Living in the Middle...

I just think it's the best way to go. Too extreme one way or another and you run the risk of being a bit of a wacko... This is not to say you should give in to everyone, but be reasonable.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Summer Daze.... well, almost...

I will miss the hour and forty five minutes I get every Monday, Wednesday and Friday when Gibson is in Fun Factory. Lately I use every minute of that time to get things done for Walterdale, my Fringe/Interplay show, family business and the like. I have learned to work fast! When I do that, work fast, then I can enjoy the afternoon with Gibson and do 'Mom-Stuff'. Today we picked up my nephew Braden from my Mom and Dad's house (my brother Paul and his son are in town for a visit) and went to the spray park, then the golden arches and then home to play in the back yard. Braden is so good with little kids and he and I had a nice chat at the park. We don't get to see him as often as my other nieces and nephews and he's a really interesting and nice kid so I am glad we got to do that. We are going to pick Oliver up from school and maybe see Night at the Smithsonian Museum tonight. It's a good thing.

Monday, June 15, 2009

My Dad is 70 (well, almost, we celebrated early...)

This weekend we surprised my Dad with a Dinner party to celebrate his turning 70 (he will be 70 by the end of this week, but we had the dinner on Saturday night). My sister and her husband flew in from Toronto Friday night, my older brother and his clan drove down from Fort McMurray Friday evening, and my youngest brother and his son drove up from North Carolina on Saturday afternoon. Dad was not expecting any of them and I think he was pleasantly surprised. We had a nice family (and some close family friends) dinner on the Saturday evening at Gini's. Sunday morning we rounded off the weekend with a bit of brunch and gathering at Mom and Dad's. It was busy, jam-packed and accomplished the goal of the weekend. My older brother assembled a bit of a slide show for the dinner. He had a computer glitch and could not access any of the photos I sent him (from the last 6 years), but it came together well. We read stories from Dad's sisters and mother and people spontaneously shared stories as the pictures prompted one. It was a fun night.

Now I am tired... Feels like the last 3 weekends have left me longing for Monday. I am, like my father, getting old...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Pre School Party - Advice to Children's Entertainers...

Today was the big Pre-School party at the YMCA in Castledowns. We skipped it last year and I wish I could have gotten away with skipping it this year. It is funny. The YMCA does this as a big event, but I think most of the parents hate it. We would rather just a quiet little 'to do' as part of the regular class on the last day. The problem is, there are kids who go 1, 2, or 3 days and that means that any day of the week could be a 'last' day. So, they have a big party for ALL the pre-school kids. Crazy! It could have been worse. It was loud (which I can deal with) and unstructured (which I have a harder time with) and they had a children's performer... oh my. It was Peter Puffin, and he was okay, but there were a number of things that really were not handled well. About half of the parents totally abdicated any responsibility for their kids. This was the biggest problem and it aggravated all the others. So, when Peter Puffin asked for volunteers and he gave specific instructions (sit cross legged, with hands folded in your laps) BUT he didn't follow those rules for picking his child helpers. Parents did nothing about their kids jumping up, and Peter Puffin let them be the volunteers. Poor Gibson. He followed all the rules and he NEVER got picked. Some kids got picked 2 and 3 times because they jumped up or ran up, or waved their arm and yelled. It drove me nuts and after the 2nd or 3rd time it happened, I had a sobbing 4 year old because it was not fair (Gibson's words). He even asked once 'what about me?' and Peter Puffin said 'I'll get you later. There will be other times.', but he never did. So, when Gibson realized the concert was over and he was not given a turn to help he was distraught. He wanted nothing to do with Peter Puffin, and would not even give him a high 5 when we left. The kicker is that Peter Puffin didn't even realize that he snubbed this poor little kid.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Festival Accompli!

We wrapped up the Footlight Festival on Saturday. It went smoothly but I am glad that it is done. It was an exhausting two weeks (in addition to the Staged Readings, I worked FOH three times, participated in one of the Round Table Discussions and went to one of the Variety Nights - add to that a trip to Fort McMurray on one weekend and a wedding on the other and it all adds up!). I felt a little frustrated with the communication. It all worked out in the end, but I found it hard to shake the feeling that although I thought I was clear about what was being promised, that there were people not happy with what they were getting, and that the Festival was being manipulated to deliver more. A more open and honest conversation about what was wanted vs. what was happening would have been nicer, but perhaps there wasn't time for that, or perhaps in the middle of things people didn't have the ability to articulate things in an open way. Luckily, I had two phenomenal people in the booth, who were able to handle the last minute changes and roll with it and who were able to stay past the time they were called for. I know that it also impacted on the FOH, as some of them were also required to stay later than they had expected, but they rose to the occasion. I think that everyone left happy, and I hope that those who were accommodated recognized that there were many people to thank for it.

Friday, June 05, 2009

These last two weeks have been crazy!

I am off to A Grand Night For Singing (the ELOPE show) tonight. I worked Box Office on Tuesday and Thursday. I was at the Membership Round Table on Monday Night. That was coming off the trip to Fort McMurray and the Staged Readings on Sunday Night. Tomorrow I have Marissa and Kreg's wedding and the 2nd edition of the Staged Readings. I thought June would eases up but I am getting emails about meetings for contracts and Zachary and stuff! Plus I have some birthday parties and it never seems to quiet down.

I am up to 9 on the Waiting List for Fringe and potentially 6 by the end of the week. I feel closer but not close enough. I am going to propose the Interplay idea so the work is useful now.

Monday, June 01, 2009

One Down, one to go...

What a weekend. Could it have been any more jam packed? I doubt it. I headed to McMurray on Sat morning for the Mike and Lorie Eddy Retirement Bash. More on that in another post. Then back home to Edmonton on Sunday. A quick nap (45 min tops!) then off to the South side for supper with friends of Marks that I had never met before. Then dash to the theatre for the staged readings.



The event was sparsely attended, but those that were there were appreciative of what they saw and heard. Mr. Twiddles went off well, there were places that the pacing lagged, but not too bad overall. I think by the end they figured out with a reading you need to push it because you lack the business you'd normally have to keep the audience attentive.



Then we saw/heard The Burning Blood. What a great piece of theatre. Even though it was a reading, it was so very good. I wish I could write that well. Maybe someday if I am a very good girl. There is something about a reading, too, where you strip away all that clutter of set and movement and costumes and all that and you can just focus on the story and the voices. Your mind fills in all the images and you just go with it. The cast assembled all have rich voices and they attacked the script with passion. It was great. My big regret is that the Festival Schedule is so tight that we cannot hear the whole thing at it's second staging on Saturday. But, that being said, I am glad that they got the opportunity to 'do it all' at least this once and that I was there to hear it.