Thursday, December 31, 2009

Christmas Through Photos

Started by making cards and pictures for family members.


Then Rob took the kids to Loblaws to make a gingerbread house - an annual tradition.


Put up the tree together. It was a lot of fun. The kids went over each and every ornament, reminiscing about Christmas' past before it went on the tree. Listening to some old fashioned holiday music and drinking egg nog, it felt like a moment taken right out of a Jimmy Stewart movie. A lovely day!


Did some baking...started with the fudge and chocolate peanut butter confetti...yummm!





Went bowling with a few other homeschool families.





Made ornaments at a Ceramics Studio.


Had the in-laws over for a big turkey dinner.


Went to a homeschool Christmas piano recital with our closest hs friends. Alex played Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.


Izzy and her buddy E goofing off a bit at the recital.


Took Aunt Kelly out to pick up a new car. Pretty Mini.


Picked Izzy up a new bed at Ikea. We are coming closer to fulfilling our destiny by furnishing the entire house by Ikea. We'll need a plaque by the front door soon. This home and all its furnishings brought to you by...


First night in her big girl bed.


A Christmas Eve tradition. We head out that morning to Rob's company kids party, have lunch at East Side Maris, grab an early afternoon train and come home to a nice surprise. One of Santa's elves delivers an early present, a new pair of pyjamas, an ornament for each child to put on the tree and a new game.


This year they scored with 2 sets of pyjamas and The Amazing Animal Trivia Game. Santa must have sensed the need for pjs that fit. Later that night, before bed, we leave Santa his cookies (one from each child) and some water. We also sprinkle some special sparkly oats outside for the reindeer.








Christmas morning was a happy one. There was Lego, a Leapster, some Strawberry Shortcake toys and a whack of stuff for the Wii. We ate homemade Belgian waffles with whip cream and strawberries for breakfast. A lovely red wine broth fondue for supper.

Boxing Day was another treat. Aunt Kelly stayed with the kids while we had a night out. There was dinner at a restaurant and a movie. Avitar. I was a little disappointed in the movie but, then, it really isn't my kind of movie anyway. We booked a suite with a Whirlpool tub and had a whole night to ourselves. It was a glorious treat for me after running around and working so hard over Christmas.

Unfortunately (and fortunately) my phone died while we were out. Just a week ago, the man at the Corporate Plan Telus office remarked that he was surprised to see my LG Chocolate phone still working after nearly 3 years. If he had actually touched it I would have sworn he broke it for me, lol. Since we got rid of our land line last year it was imperative that I got a replacement right away.

So...
I finally got to pick up **my baby** :-)

I have wanted one of these from the day Steve Jobs showed it to the world. I love, love, love my iPhone. Rob and I each grabbed one and let me say, we are addicted to them. I even have to fight them away from the kids. I now can't even fathom how I survived without one before now, lol!





We took a short road trip to see my brother and the kids. More presents. More great food.

It was a good Christmas.

Now I am off to ready the family for a New Year's party with the neighbours. I hope everyone out there had a lovely holiday too. Happy New Year to you all!!!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Blabbering On

I was thinking over my last post and how it was too hard to articulate what is going on in my head sometimes. I think it boils down to mother-daughter relationships and how strange and awesome it is to see how my role with Izzy evolves.

I didn't have a good relationship with my mother. Lets just say that there were many generations of females on that side of the family who just plain sucked at being mothers, sisters, daughters...

When I found out I was expecting a girl the second time around it kind of threw me for a loop. The first few years of her life are pretty typical of life with a young child. Nothing particularly noteworthy. Now she has blossomed into a little girl and looks to me as her model of what a woman is. Yikes.

So there are times when she mimics me or when she looks up to me when I am surprised and wonder a little what to do next. We are very, very close and I love that. It is a new world for me. I pined for a good mother-daughter relationship. Coveted those that belongs to my friends. It is amazing, surprising and weird to be part of one now. It makes me just want to stick her in a bubble and keep life as perfect as I can for her.

So yesterday, when we were at the hospital and I let my mind wander into the far off future I think I was a little shocked to think I could be a big part of it. To think she may want or need me around! There is a ton of history I just don't post about but it obviously clouds my thoughts. There are so many of us without mothers - either lost through death or by being emotionally and mentally incapable of parenting.

Gah...I am getting all emotional now. You know, I never think twice about how much I love and adore my son. Stupid childhood baggage! I wonder if I will ever stop being surprised at how good I have it now?

I was told more than a few times when I was pregnant that a girl was a good thing. That I was meant to have her in my life. That I needed her in my life. True, true, true! I have never been so happy that we accidentally got pregnant after deciding to have an only child.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Being Thankful

I had a moment today where I just felt eternally grateful for having such healthy and happy children. I know so much is out of my hands as a parent but I just have such gratitude right now I just had to write it down.

Today Izzy went to the hospital for an echo-cardiogram. The doctor heard a murmur that is probably nothing but she thought Izzy should have out-grown. To be safe, our doctor ordered some tests. I am not worried. I am pretty zen about this stuff in general - not alarmist at all. Izzy was scared but soon realized how simple the test was. The only "problem" with having healthy children is that they only see a doctor once a year for check-ups and doctors/hospitals are scary unknown entities.

She was a trooper though. She hopped on the bed and I held her hand. She would look at me and we'd squeeze each other's fingers as code. She looked so tiny on the bed. Unnatural. I hated seeing her on one, even though it was just for a simple test. It certainly made me stop and think about how lucky I am. My niece and nephew have had many medical issues and surgeries.

We watched her heart on the monitor and I had this surge of emotion jolt through my body. It took me back to those days I watched her on the ultrasound in my womb. There were many opportunities. I think I had 14 ultrasounds...excessive but there were some other issues at play. Back then I could just watch that perfect little body with that perfect beating heart forever. It was beautiful. Today was beautiful too but I felt more protective this time. Like I wished I could stop time and have her keep her perfect, healthy little body forever. I had this insatiable need to take her home and feed her leafy greens and carrots. I guess it hit me that she will grow and age and some day die. Man this sounds awful but I didn't feel this in a negative, morbid sort of way. It was more of a profound wish to have her grow up healthy and strong and live to see her great-grandbabies.

This might be because she is a girl. And because I just had my physical too. She was so obstinate at her check-up a few days ago that my internal voice was thinking 'suck it up buttercup - one of the joys of being a woman is being poked and prodded' and my mind keeps moving forward thinking about the foundations I set for her now and how they will affect the future. Having just finished up my reproductive stint it hit me that I can't protect my girl from the future. Not that I really want to. She will experience her period, pap smears, and hopefully if she chooses, motherhood. I can't do these things for her - keep the pain or fear away.

I am rambling now. It was just such a mixed bag of thoughts today.

I Should be Sleeping

Believe it or not, I still have a sore throat! It must be an infection. It has lasted too long and is bugging my right ear too.

Anyway, I have a million things to do tomorrow. It is payday and with Christmas in a week and some family heading this way for turkey on the weekend I have much to do. Like actually buy a turkey.

So tomorrow I will be dragging the kids around to many busy stores. They have a haircut squeezed in there too. I am sure they will be soooo pleasant when it is all said and done. The deal is that if they are relatively good while mommy bores them to death spending the day getting in and out of the car, then we can go to this Chinese buffet that they love. Rob has another late night (and another lunch out - dim sum, one of the perks of working downtown Toronto is weekly meals out with the colleagues at fab restaurants) so it will just be the three of us. Unfortunately we are getting used to evenings without daddy. I can't wait for this project to end!

Thankfully most of the important shopping is done but the tiny details just keep adding to my to-do list.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Girls V. Boys?

Printing, writing, colouring? Are these all things where girls are just naturally more proficient? Izzy will, through her own initiative, sit down and compose something for someone. Alex has to be bribed, cajoled or threatened into it. Already Izzy's penmanship surpasses Alex's but what is more amazing to me is the way she strives to learn new things. She is pretty good at capital letters but still writes lower case so she will be better at that.

We haven't done much in the way of school work lately. I feel bad, I think, because I don't feel that bad. Go figure. Actually, that isn't totally true. We have lapsed with the oral reading but mommy had the cold from hell and still feels congested so reading to the kids was tantamount to torture. Thankfully Alex is such a good reader but even he has been spending more time on the Wii than in front of a good book.

Not that much will change in the next few weeks. Life is busy and we are having too much fun to slow down and do math right now. That is what the terrible dead of winter is for. Getting stuck in the house and catching up on...everything.

Bowling Party!


We met up with 3 other families this morning at a local bowling alley. Something fun for the kids to do, where we could all socialize and have a little fun. I think it went over pretty well.

There were 4 boys and 4 girls. The boys team were a sight to see. They would walk up the lane together, encourage each other, console each other. Real team spirit! The girls spent more time wondering when they were up again. They were the younger set though, with two 3 year olds, a 4 year old and a 6 year old.

Moms played one lane at the very end. I was horrible. Bowled a 55. I think I should just stick to Wii Bowling instead.

Friday, December 11, 2009

So Funny!

Poor Macy Cat! She is being tormented by a couple of very brazen squirrels nesting in the tree behind the house. This one was hysterical. It came right up to the patio window and was just staring at all of us. A few minutes later Macy sauntered into the room and noticed her nemesis crouching in on her territory. The poor squirrel was frightened into moving down one step - ha, ha!

It is quite entertaining. They mimic the cat when they see her, driving her even battier and we all get a real kick out of it. My poor indoor cat just doesn't know what to do with them. Thankfully the glass separates them because I am pretty sure Macy wouldn't stand a chance against these little critters.

When One Day Stands Out from all the Rest

Yesterday was one of those days.

The house is clean and that has a calming effect on all of us. I tend to be cluttered and my house reflects that. So when I woke up, I could do pretty much anything I wanted without having to tidy first. We decided that after some piano and math, we would turn on the Christmas music, decorate the tree, start the baking and break in the new Wii Fit Plus disc.

I felt like I was in some sappy holiday movie. Izzy was so happy and helpful that I wondered more than a few times that day if she had been switched by aliens. We took our time with the tree, going over each and every ornament. We have amassed quite a collection. Each year Santa brings them a new one that reflects a little about who they were that year. They remember some of the ornaments and anticipate seeing them again and placing them on the tree. Alex is hysterical. Sometimes it is like he walked out of a Dicken's novel, saying things like, "I am delighted to help you mommy..." and "...these cookies and eggnog are scrumptious!"

It was beautiful. We were just missing Rob, only not really as he doesn't appreciate this sappy Christmas feeling like the rest of us. The tree twinkled all day long and we sang old fashion Christmas songs. I made the fudge and some cookies. We reminisced about holidays past and then made tacos for supper. That was the only glitch in the day. The kids felt tacos were not really Christmas'y or festive. Well, everything can't be perfect.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

I just wanted a dusting!

Of snow, that is! With Christmas being a few weeks away I have been craving a little snow. A light blanket, you know, for aesthetic purposes to get me in the mood for the holidays. I grew up in Northern Ontario and, at least twenty-some-odd years ago we had snow from Halloween til Spring. Here you see blow-up Snowmen on grassy green lawns. It just seems wrong.

Well snow came today. Lots of it. Wet, slushy stuff too. I got up to clear the driveway while Rob showered. Alex wanted to come out but after two minutes my head was soaked and I kept him in the house. Wet snow weighs a ton! I was worried that weather station called for snow, turning to ice and rain, then melting only to freeze again over night. God, I love Southern Ontario (insert eye roll here). Our driveway slopes and I hate that jolting feeling when you hit the ice.

I cleared it all up and Rob walked out the door only to come back in 5 minutes later. Ice pellets were pinging him in the face while he waited for the bus that never showed to take him to the train station. He wound up working from home. I still had to schlep the kids to their annual check-up with the doctor. The parking lot was under a foot of slushy water. We grabbed a few groceries to come home and hunker down for the rest of the day. Doubt we'll leave the house tomorrow anyway.

I can't complain like my fellow Canadians out in Alberta right now with record lows of -40 before wind chill. That would suck too. I love snow. Can handle snow storms. I just hate the snow, melt, freeze, melt, freeze, snow again thing we have going on here in our neck of the woods. I should be used to it by now. Crazy area we live in. No snow this November (first time since 1937) but a white Christmas, probably. Wouldn't be surprised at all if we were back to fall jackets in January.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Man, I need sleep badly!

I an [thisclose] to heading off to a hotel. Or I would be if Rob wasn't working insane hours and weekends.

Still sick. Just down to a sore throat and cough that can get so bad I am surprised I haven't blown out my tonsils or adenoids yet. So laying down - not easy.

On top of being sick and miserable, Izzy has not slept through the night in months. She wakes up 2 or 3 times each night and comes in the room either crying or making demands. Rob does his best to field her problems but she wants me. One night, after having been up with her for hours, I pretended to be asleep while he took care of her and she just shoves past him yelling for me and smacking my foot to wake me up.

I hope this gets better soon. Sleep deprivation is a killer for me and it is only a matter of time before I snap. I can survive on less sleep than I should but then I am so lethargic and moody. Last night I finally fell asleep on the couch around 1am, trying to sleep sitting up while hacking up a lung and half an hour later she comes down the stairs crying, wanting to sleep with me. Too tired to put up a fight, I let her crawl in behind me and I had another terrible night's sleep with Miss Iz kicking me in her sleep and rolling me off the couch.

So today I am so exhausted. I can barely move and I just want to crash.

Tonight Alex has to go caroling at a senior's centre with the other cub scouts and Rob emailed me telling me how cruddy he is today. All I ask for is a light at the end of this tunnel. I am pretty sure that when she is 16 Izzy won't be barging into my room all through the night. And, hopefully by then, this H1N1 will have passed through my system too.

Monday, November 30, 2009

In Desperate Need of Christmas Spirit!

Tomorrow is December 1st and I wish it were really November 1st. The days are flying by too quickly. I still have a ton of shopping to do. It has been unseasonably warm in this part of Ontario and the kids and I haven't even broken out our mittens yet.

Plus I have been super, freakishly sick!

This cold/flu hybrid thing (which my sister-in-law mentioned could be H1N1, like she has) is killing me. Over a week into this hell and still no signs of abating. The cough is so bad that I pulled muscles in my ribcage and at the base on my skull. Agony!

Usually I am chomping at the bit to get the tree up but not now. I was especially excited about Christmas 09 thanks to the disaster that was my kitchen last year. I have all kinds of baking plans, activities to do with the kids...our basic holiday stuff.

Instead, all I see are crazy traffic jams, annoyingly long lines at check-out counters and prettily decorated homes mocking me over my lack of holiday spirit.

Rob thinks I am just miserable because I am sick and in a week, when I have mended, things will be back on track - festive-wise. Probably. I hope so. Right now I just feel so much like Scrooge.

Think I'll head upstairs now for some more tea and advil.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

You know, she drives me nuts but...

...she is also one of the most nurturing people I know.

I have been so sick this week with the cold from hell. I am up every night (morning?) between 3 and 4am sipping tea and dreaming about the ability to lay down without coughing up a lung.

The kids have had to fend for themselves. Partly for entertainment and partly having to forage for food. The latter they are especially good at. Unfortunately Rob's work has taken over and he can't really push off meetings with suits to stay home and take care of me.

Izzy is funny though. She has been sick for weeks too. Still, when I finally get to lay down she crawls next to me, rubs my back and whispers things like, "shhh...just rest sweety". It is funny and adorable at the same time. Now if she was just tall enough to reach the tea kettle on the counter...

Alex isn't as big on hugging these days. Not because he doesn't want to - he just has other places to be with other things to do. Snuggling is rare but always welcome. He doesn't always tune into other people's distresses as readily as his sister but he'd do anything for you if you asked.

I am a lucky momma. Sure, tomorrow I will be over tired and the kids will be bickering and driving me nuts but I will try to remember these sweet little moments before advertising free children to a good home.

It is now 4:20am and I think I need one more tea.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Sometimes I am a cool mom!

This is the fort I made for Alex's room. I think it lasted 4 days or so. We taped and tucked...added Christmas lights...it was awesome! It took up most of the bedroom and the kids got hours and hours of play-time out of it.

Alex slept inside each night it was up. Izzy tried to the first night but, as usual, the kids are a nightmare when they try to sleep together and had to be separated.

Alex asked if I had forts like this when I was a kid. I explained that my mother would not have let me use the clean sheets. He then replied, "Isn't it awesome being a grown-up. Now you can use all the sheets you want and nobody cares!"

They were sad to see it come down but I told them we'd rebuild some time after Christmas, when we need a little pick-me-up.

And on that note...

All that talk about ages and stages, lol, started because someone sent me a contest I could enter but the demographic for qualifying was 26-34. I realized that (at least marketing-wise) I was entering a new stage in my life. No more directed ads for strollers or diapers here. It is all about Tums and sensible footwear from here on out!

AND a Happy Birthday to my beloved Rob! I have nearly 4 years on him so he'll still get direct marketing for video games for at least a few more years, I'm sure!

Happy 31st Love! From me and the kidlets :-)

Interesting...probably because I join the next demographic soon :-)

1. Infancy: Birth-18 Months Old

During the first or second year of life, the major emphasis is on the mother and father’s nurturing ability and care for a child, especially in terms of visual contact and touch. The child will develop optimism, trust, confidence, and security if properly cared for and handled. If a child does not experience trust, he or she may develop insecurity, worthlessness, and general mistrust to the world.

2. Toddler / Early Childhood Years: 18 Months to 3 Years

The second stage occurs between 18 months and 3 years. At this point, the child has an opportunity to build self-esteem and autonomy as he or she learns new skills and right from wrong. The well-cared for child is sure of himself, carrying himself or herself with pride rather than shame. During this time of the “terrible twos”, defiance, temper tantrums, and stubbornness can also appear. Children tend to be vulnerable during this stage, sometimes feeling shame and and low self-esteem during an inability to learn certain skills.

3. Preschooler: 3 to 5 Years Izzy

During this period we experience a desire to copy the adults around us and take initiative in creating play situations. We make up stories with Barbie’s and Ken’s, toy phones and miniature cars, playing out roles in a trial universe, experimenting with the blueprint for what we believe it means to be an adult. We also begin to use that wonderful word for exploring the world—”WHY?”

The most significant relationship is with the basic family.

4. School Age Child: 6 to 12 Years Alex

During this stage, often called the Latency, we are capable of learning, creating and accomplishing numerous new skills and knowledge, thus developing a sense of industry. This is also a very social stage of development and if we experience unresolved feelings of inadequacy and inferiority among our peers, we can have serious problems in terms of competence and self-esteem.

As the world expands a bit, our most significant relationship is with the school and neighborhood. Parents are no longer the complete authorities they once were, although they are still important.

5. Adolescent: 12 to 18 Years

Up until this fifth stage, development depends on what is done to a person. At this point, development now depends primarily upon what a person does. An adolescent must struggle to discover and find his or her own identity, while negotiating and struggling with social interactions and “fitting in”, and developing a sense of morality and right from wrong.

Some attempt to delay entrance to adulthood and withdraw from responsibilities (moratorium). Those unsuccessful with this stage tend to experience role confusion and upheaval. Adolescents begin to develop a strong affiliation and devotion to ideals, causes, and friends.

6. Young adult: 18 to 35 Rob

At the young adult stage, people tend to seek companions hip and love. Some also begin to “settle down” and start families, although seems to have been pushed back farther in recent years.

Young adults seek deep intimacy and satisfying relationships, but if unsuccessful, isolation may occur. Significant relationships at this stage are with marital partners and friends.

7. Middle-aged Adult: 35 to 55 or 65 Me...soon!

Career and work are the most important things at this stage, along with family. Middle adulthood is also the time when people can take on greater responsibilities and control.

Major life shifts can occur during this stage. For example, children leave the household, careers can change, and so on. Some may struggle with finding purpose. Significant relationships are those within the family, workplace, local church and other communities.

8. Late Adult: 55 or 65 to Death

Erik Erikson believed that much of life is preparing for the middle adulthood stage and the last stage involves much reflection. As older adults, some can look back with a feeling of integrity — that is, contentment and fulfillment, having led a meaningful life and valuable contribution to society. Others may have a sense of despair during this stage, reflecting upon their experiences and failures. They may fear death as they struggle to find a purpose to their lives, wondering “What was the point of life? Was it worth it?”

We are about to take up 4 of these demographics soon. Strange to be completely out of the baby stage and I don't *feel* old enough to be middle age yet. Time is such a funny thing. You can never really imagine being a certain age and then one day, there you are!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Helicopter Parenting...Gone too Far!

Advice D.H. Lawrence offered back in 1918: "How to begin to educate a child. First rule: leave him alone. Second rule: leave him alone. Third rule: leave him alone. That is the whole beginning."

Read more: http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1940395-4,00.html#ixzz0Xo8kwWFM

I love this article. It is pretty timely for me. I have been giving Alex more and more freedom. I give him some room, he handles himself admirably, he gets more room. He is more self assured and self sufficient. I couldn't be prouder and I couldn't be happier to see the growing boy coming along.

Yesterday he popped into Little Ceasar's Pizza with $10 to pick up a cheese pizza. All by himself. We stayed in the car, watching him through the window, while he asked for his order and paid. These events are less of a big deal the more they occur. He knows he can handle himself and my fears about what could go wrong are dissipating quickly.

It is hard to let go of the fears that bombard parents these days. When you can step back, though, the freedom is exhilarating.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Slow at Posting

Every now and again I think, I need to put this on my blog, but then life happens. Izzy is into her second week of this cold, which is pretty much just a dry cough at night now. Rob and I have been dragging. Tired...almost sick, with a sore throat or headache...and busy. Very, very busy.

I have a house to clean from top to bottom. I started yanking things out to reorganize and I think I have just made things worse, lol.

It is a weird limbo where I am waiting to get to the meaty part of the holiday season and yet I know it will come far too soon. My to-do list gets longer and my motivation to do any of it keeps decreasing. A horrific catch-22.

Think I will head up for a nap and try to get enough energy to clean the basement later today.

Proud Mommy Moment

Alex's piano teacher is thrilled with his current progress! Yay!!! He mastered 2 songs in his lesson today, one of which he had not practiced yet and learned the second half to Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Apparently he played the whole song through with no help. I am just jumping for joy here!

He started lessons a year ago this January, with a break over the summer. It has been slow and gruelling at points. Alex said that, "...now piano is challenging and not frustrating!" Mrs. Richard's, his teacher, equates learning piano to learning to read. You slug through the early stages, sounding out letters, and then one day it just clicks. We think it has finally clicked for Alex.

He continues to buckle down and sit through lessons without goofing off. We have come a long way over the last few months. We all feel pretty good right now.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Sibling Rivalry at its Finest!

Izzy: "I am sicker than you! Mommy, I am sicker than Alex? Right?!"

Alex: "No, I am sicker than you. I have a headache. You just have a stuffy nose."

Izzy: "Am too! I think I still have a fever. I need medicine."

Alex: "No you don't. I had the fever this morning."

Izzy: "Yes I do!"

Alex: "No, you don't!"

Alex & Izzy: "MMMMMMMMMOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!!"

(Add in loud, whiny and sarcastic tones for full effect.)

Monday, November 16, 2009

Well, that was fun...

Christmas lights up - check.

First holiday family meal over - check.

First of many Santa presents purchased, delivered and opened - check.


Rob had Remembrance Day off. He actually took the whole day off. It was beautiful outside so he put up the Christmas lights after getting a promise not to put them on until after his birthday.

Then we had the big November family gathering. It is Rob's late mother's brothers and sisters and their offspring, grand-offspring. A number too large to be accommodated in any one house so we rent a hall pretty much in the middle of no-where and one family (mine this year) handles the turkey while everyone else contributes the rest. We live the farthest away so it becomes an entire weekend-long event.

So, yesterday morning at 8am I dragged my poor, sick, sister-in-law out the door for a long drive to the location. We got the 31lb beast in the oven and killed an entire day gabbing, eating, playing Uno and Bananagrams (my new favourite game) and getting the hall ready. By late afternoon most of the family was there. Lots of good food was eaten. Santa came and the kids got their first presents of the holiday season. There was a 4 hour drive home with an over-tired and very cranky 4 year old.

It was a lot of work and I was just plain exhausted today. We stayed inside, dressed in grubby, comfy clothes, while we snuggled on the couch watching movies. These traditional gatherings can sometimes be a bit of a pain but the kids have a blast. I didn't have a lot of traditions as a kid and it is nice to see things like this that the kids can rely on.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sometimes life just gets too hectic!

I haven't been blogging nearly as much as I have meant to. The time changed and now it is dark by 5pm. Rob has been putting in a ton of over-time to help finish the new release. There was Izzy's birthday. And Halloween. Some other responsibilities started taking over too. I feel tired. Then there is Izzy. My darling girl who knows all the right(?) buttons to push. The meltdowns have been epic. One resulted in a bloody lip - my bloody lip. They have been a major contribution to the lackluster energy and motivation that has taken over.

Lots of good things are happening though. Alex is reading real novels. Big novels. All on his own. He polished off Charlotte's Web in just over an hour. Crazy, huh?! He is coming along with his writing and math too.

It has been a really good few months for meeting and connecting with more homeschoolers too. I have had a core group of friends that has sustained us but now it seems the entire Durham region is coming out of the woodwork. It is nice to connect. Meet more moms like me. Have more friends that the kids can rely on while our neighbours are all at school. Girls are really good at making friends but as women we sometimes let life swallow us up and it takes a while to put ourselves back on the front burners. This week I am going for coffee with a couple of moms. To talk and laugh. It got me thinking about all the other friendships that have been put aside for too long so I have started emailing those gals and insisting we write each other in our calendars soon.

On another positive note, there is my pride and joy, our homeschooling co-op. Started with those three other moms and our nine children, it looks like it is going to be very successful! I'll have to post about it in greater detail when I have more time - soon.

For now I will get myself off the computer and clean up the kitchen. We'll be away this weekend for our first holiday function - too soon! - and as always, I have a lot to do.

Pictures Sometimes Say it All!

It has been a helluva few weeks with Izzy. I have been on the receiving end of some of the most volatile tantrums I have ever seen in my life. One of which rates up there in my top 3 worst moments in parenting, for sure. Between Halloween, her birthday and the time change there has been constant battles with this child.

Yesterday Rob calls me into the kitchen to take a look at something funny. Izzy has been playing with the letters on the fridge for months, making up words. She had yet to make an actual word. Until now. I nearly killed myself laughing. Brilliant. And scary all at the same time!


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Happy Birthday Miss Iz!!!


I have been flooded with memories today, about Izzy's birth. She loves listening to stories about herself as a baby. So, for her future reading pleasure, I will write it all out for her now as I find that with each passing year, details begin to fade.

We had been sent to the hospital a few times for an induction but were always turned away because they were too busy. I had an overly cautious obstetrician (by everyone's standards) and slightly higher than normal blood pressure. On the morning of Thursday, November 3, 2005, I went in to see the doctor who had hoped I would have gone into labour since seeing him that Monday (when I refused to forgo trick or treating with Alex) and discovered he was quite eager for this baby to be born. Daddy was working from home so he could watch Alex and so I wouldn't have had to schlep my gigantic two year old on the subway to the appointment. Plus the last few appointments involved non-stress tests and more blood work - always a surprise and last minute addition to my quick check-up. Though Alex usually enjoyed accompanying me. If he was good, the doctor's visit also included a trip across the street to Tim Horton's for his sprinkle donut.

To my surprise the doctor asked one of the nurses to call St. Mike's hospital across the street and tell them to prep a room, he was sending me over. "Like, right now, right now?!", I asked. He said I had a little time. It might be okay if I was there within an hour.

Funny enough, I was calmer than I had been the last few times I was sent to triage for induction prep. I called daddy and told him I was checking into the hospital but would be stopping for a quick bite to eat before I went in. Then I called Heather and asked if she could leave work as soon as possible to relieve Daddy of Alex's care. Aunt Kelly would be heading to Toronto later in the day to take over the night duty. I felt completely at my leisure. I knew that it would take a while to check in and that even if they started the pic drip (and if Alex's induction labour was any indication) it would be a very long day ahead.

I made my calls, walked down the street to Pizza Pizza, had a slice of veggie and enjoyed my few minutes of solitude. It was a bit cool outside but very sunny. I told Rob to relax, not rush and bring all the stuff with him. I even told him to remember to grab a coffee on the way. No rush, I said!

When I got to the hospital the nurse at the front desk was surprised I was alone but was amused by how calm and relaxed I was. We even joked around a bit. I was taken immediately to a birthing suite and given my gown. Within the next half hour I was even hooked up to an IV. Your poor Daddy found me in the room all set to go, just waiting for labour to kick in. I think he felt bad for not being there the whole time.

The day and evening went by slowly. I don't remember much except the occasional trip out of bed to walk in circles around the room. It was pretty light labour through the night. I clearly remember laughing to myself as I watched as your father slept peacefully on the pull-out bed while I tried to help bring on labour. Luckily for your dad, I was always concerned about his well-being while I had the baby?!

By morning I still had not progressed very far and was getting tired and irritable. A nurse asked when I might want the epidural and by 8am we had decided to go ahead and call for one. Unfortunately for me, all the anesthesiologists had just convened for a meeting and I would have to wait.

I think my epidural arrived just after 10am. It didn't go well. Within seconds half of my body was completely numb, and only on the left side! I still had the pleasure of half feeling the labour pains, combined with overwhelming nausea thanks to the dramatic drop in blood pressure and feeling like I wanted to faint. I distinctly remember trying not to panic as my breathing felt more difficult and seeing the clearly concerned faces of your dad, the anesthesiologist and my nurse. All of whom, by the way, stayed right by my side for well over an hour.

The epidural was not pulled out but the drugs were basically stopped. A whole room full of people came in to check on me and see how far I was dilated. Turns out nothing else was really going on. You weren't progressing at all. The poor nurses were very concerned that I was going to get angry or upset by how slowly it was all going. I told them that after the length of Alex's labour, a day was nothing! In fact, I was relieved to have some time to relax and regroup after the scary incident with my epidural. Everyone left and I relaxed as best as a woman in labour could relax.

By noon the contractions were fairly regular but quite manageable. I told daddy to go get some lunch. To actually leave the building and get some real food. I was quite confident that I had all the time in the world. Not long after he left the contractions got stronger. My nurse would pop into the room to check on me but for the most part left me alone to concentrate. It was strangely relaxing and I started getting excited. I had not experienced labour in a conventional way with your brother (woke up in the middle of the night, still in a medically-induced fog, to a room full of people, alarms and a blinding white light) and it felt amazing the way I could sense you coming down the birth canal. There was pressure but no pain. I remember thinking how cool it was. By the time daddy got back I was getting a little concerned that you were coming quite quickly and started to wonder if this would be one of those cases of the baby being born as soon as the dad stepped out.

I asked your dad to call the nurse in to check your progression. I felt silly for some reason, thinking that I was so close to birth. I expected something different out of the experience. My nurse came in and saw that I had gone from 3cm to 9 1/2cm in less than 2 hours. This, after more than 20 hours to get from one centimetre (which I had been at for weeks) to two and a half. That is when all the excitement began. More nursed were called in. Someone paged the doctor on call. It was suggested that I start pushing - which I rejected. I said I had been taught the first time to let the baby come and push only at the very end, and that is what I was going to do! Just shortly before 1pm I started pushing to get you out. It was amazing. I had the great fortune of having a baby with a small head this time around. There was no excruciating pain or burning. I had all my faculties about me and was wide awake. I could feel every part of the process and it felt great!

Daddy likes to tell the story of how your umbilical cord shot out like silly string after your shoulder was dislodged. Even the staff remarked at the length, lol. You came out pink, tiny and perfect. With long, jet black hair! To say I was shocked would be an understatement. I think people were amused by my reaction and pointed out my non-blond-haired husband. I honestly pictured you to look like, well, like you do now!

You were perfection. Since there were no complications I asked for us to be discharged as soon as possible - which was at least 6 hours after birth. I had no intention of sharing a room with someone with tons of visitors and nurses who didn't help you out anyway. If I was going to have a sleepless nught with my baby, it was going to be at home. After some issues with a different ward nurse, a quick trip to the NICU (to the chagrin of the doctor in charge there who couldn't figure out why you needed to be taken from me to begin with), a quick shower and a visit from Alex, Kelly and Grandpa, we were on our way home.


It is hard to believe that 4 years have passed already. So Happy Birthday to my baby girl! Life with you has never been dull. You have been master of your own universe pretty much since conception. You came to us just when daddy and I decided to have only one child. Persistent, you are! You have never been a push-over. Just ask the nurses and doctors who laughed when you would shove them back during my pre-natal check-ups. They told me you were going to be a little spitfire. Alex called you spicy the moment he saw you. He was right. You are loving, stubborn, loyal, brave, fiercely independent and one of the joys of my life. Living with you challenges me to be a better person. Thank you for bringing such happiness to my life...most of the time ;-) We all love you very much.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

This is the Tricky Part

I find there is a delicate balance home-schooling the kids and giving them enough freedom to wade out into the world on their own. Letting go is a scary thing for parents. I am occasionally reminded of this during swimming lessons.

I am still dealing with Izzy fighting me over getting in the pool. We are making a little progress. Watching Alex in class, however, is quite an experience. I often need to remind myself that he's fine, even enjoying himself but there are moments I want to jump up and tell those people to bring my kid out of the pool.

Every class they seem to venture further into the deep end. I realize this is on purpose. Still, it is hard to watch a boy who is a beginning swimmer, at best, jump into an area that is clearly above his head when the instructor is not quite in arms reach. In fact, last class they were 3/4 of the way to the other side when Alex had to jump in and swim to them. He flailed a bit. He looked stressed which was probably more his determined under pressure expression, swallowed a fair bit of water and looked pretty exhausted. It was so hard to see him struggling. But I sat there, literally biting my tongue, shouting in my head, 'okay - grab him now!' - waiting for him to reach his teacher before he drowned.

He did, of course, reach the teacher. She was so genuinely thrilled when he made it to her that even I was touched. They gave each other a high five. Alex's grin took over his entire face (when he wasn't coughing up water). He was so proud of himself, as he should have been. He did it! He swam 3/4 of the way across the pool in water well over his head. He overcame his own fears, pushed himself when he could have just as easily given up and accomplished this major milestone.

Like I said, it is so hard to watch them struggle but the pride in seeing them succeed at something they did completely on their own is exhilarating. So proud! And so not looking forward to going through this all over again next week.

Monday, October 26, 2009

On a funny side note...

A few years ago I attended a friend's bachelorette party and was treated to my first ever encounter with a psychic reader. It was actually quite a bit of fun. I mean, you can't get any more skeptical than me, which she 'read' when I sat down with her, lol, but she did mention something that has sat with me these past few years. She told me that I would find a career, accidentally, to do with writing. It would literally fall into my lap since I am not likely to pursue paid work. I thought or hoped she meant that I was finally going to finish (write?) a novel. Well, no time to even read much for pleasure these days (at least books for me), so definitely no time to sit and write for hours each day. I have had something fall in my lap though. Resumes. Lots and lots of resumes. Turns out I am really good at making them up for people. And I enjoy doing it. A few I had done for the odd friend or neighbour has turned snowballed into a bonafide small business. Or, it could if I had the time. I can't believe how many people would hire my services if I really threw myself into it. Nice to have a little extra cash though. It has been years since I made real actual money!

Funny how things happen. Resume writing - of all things!

Such Harmony!

It may be a rare thing these days but when the kids get along, they really get along! Right now Alex is playing Wii, earning some game time after a stellar week of piano practice and a much improved lesson and Izzy is sitting on the couch, watching, cheering him on. They are best buds at the moment. No whining, snickering or sassy talk between them. I know it can't last but it makes me feel so peaceful when they are like this.

I am taking a few hours to myself this afternoon. I have been just swamped with commitments these past few weeks. I am trying to juggle a lot of balls in the air right now but will soon have to prioritize and delegate. My primary commitment is to homeschooling and whatever helps me get what my children need. Right now, that means a strong connection to the homeschool community at large and more academic opportunities. We (myself and three other hs moms) have started the groundwork for what could be a fantastic co-op program and I am very excited over the possibilities.

It is hard not to want to do everything. At least, for me it is. I like being busy. I like being in charge. Shocking, I know, lol. Something about creating schedules and organizing people just relaxes me. Guess I am just an odd duck?!

So I have calendars and spreadsheets printed out and laid in front of me. There are birthdays and parties, lessons and meetings. My life, at least for the next three months, is fairly well planned out. There will no doubt be stressful nights but I try to remind myself to have fun, enjoy this time and these kids. Time flies by so fast. The whole point of all this planning is to make like better for us all.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Haven't Disappeared

Just very, very busy! I am off to meet with a head librarian later this afternoon about getting an educational, project oriented co-op going for our area. Fingers crossed that it all goes well.

So much to do, so little time. I have many projects on the go, only a few of them directly revolving around homeschooling. I had been pining for more me time but I'd settle for more homeschool time at the moment.

Good thing the kids are such independent learners.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Giftedness as an Exceptionality

My sister-in-law has her Masters degree in Behavioural studies, with a specialty in Autism. At Thanksgiving we were talking about exceptionalities, such as ADHD and Autism. I mentioned that in the past more than a couple of people had suggested to me that Alex may have Asperger's syndrome. He shares a few of the same traits but is not lacking empathy (the complete opposite more likely) and does not lack social and emotional reciprocity. The same can be said for ADHD. He has many of the characteristics but not all. In fact, he comes pretty close to qualifying for many labels but always falls just short of some imperative characteristic.

Well, the more I read into giftedness, the more I am surprised. I had always assumed being gifted was sort of a stroke of luck, or genetics, and other exceptionaliities were co-morbid. I thought maybe Alex was gifted but also had ADD. Or perhaps a central processing disorder. Maybe he is bipolar and these are just early signs?

Then I came across this term - overexcitabilities or supersensitivities in gifted children. Huh!? A guy named Dabrowski came up with a group of the most common sensitivities: Psychomotor, Sensual, Emotional, Intellectual, and Imaginational. He says that gifted children tend to have more than one of these intensities, although one is usually dominant.

This one is for the psychomotor (often confused with ADHD in children). Typical traits are:

* Rapid speech -- check
* Impulsive behavior -- check
* Competitiveness -- so-so but we don't encourage that behaviour in general
* Compulsive talking -- oh yes!
* Compulsive organizing -- okay, not this one, lol
* Nervous habits and tics -- yes and getting more noticeable as he gets older
* Preference for fast action and sports -- yes
* Physical expression of emotions -- oh, yes, yes and yes!
* Sleeplessness -- check

It was a real eye-opener. In fact, I joined a few gifted boards online and have met quite a few other parents with pretty similar children. I don't know if I am pro or anti-label, so to speak, but it is always nice to find your people and get more information about why he/we do the things we do.

Interesting find for me. I feel more at ease over Alex's little eccentricities now.

Apple Sauce


We went apple picking a few weeks ago. I have a giant box of apples in the garage sitting on top of the freezer in the garage right now. We made apple sauce again but this time got to use our funky apple peeler. I bought it right before Christmas when it was on sale for less than $10 at some discount place. I remembered how long it took to peel all the apples with the kids last year. This seemed like it might be fun. It was amazing! It even sliced the apples so they came out like little round accordion balls. We had a blast with it and the peeling didn't feel nearly as tedious as it did last year.

Off the apples went into the crockpot. Added a tiny bit of water. No cinnamon this year - Rob didn't like it, cooked it then mashed until just a little bit chunky.

It was soooooo yummy. Gone quickly too. Going to make another pot this week. Should dig the pork chops out of the freezer too.

Turkey Day 2009



We had a lovely visit at aunt Kelly's again! Complete with our annual pilgrimage to the pumpkin farm. This year was a short visit. We froze our butts off and got away as quickly as we could after finding 2 lovely specimens and taking the obligatory pics.

Good things come to those who wait?

What a morning! I just got a call about finally getting a time and venue for the home-school coop we are trying to get off the ground. Something educational, where the kids do some group work, presentations may be involved...basically the one thing most of us feel like our kids are missing out on not being at school. I am very excited! This has been a long time coming.

This morning was also an exciting one for Alex. I knocked on his bedroom door at 10am to convince him that even LEGO addicts needed sustenance. Turns out he had been reading all morning. Late last night we popped into the library to get an insane quantity of books (even the librarian was impressed and they know his usual take) and he picked up The Day My Butt Went Psycho by Andy Griffiths. It is a 240 page book, about 300 words per page and no illustrations. When he picked it up I thought, great, I'll have to read this with him. Even though he is a good reader, larger books (of the fiction variety - not those encyclopedic sized science jobs) seemed to overwhelm him so he wouldn't even try. Well, not this book. It is done. He was at page 182 when I interrupted him. I started quizzing him on the book but stopped myself. Over the course of lunch I let him just talk about it.

Then Izzy was back at her math book. She did 17 pages a few days ago and I stopped her at 14 today. This child has a serious addiction with worksheets, lol.

All in all, it has been a much better week. Maybe we are getting our groove back. The weather has been colder but the sun has been shining a bit more too - which helps. Good to be on the upswing again.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

It Is A Love/Hate Thing

You would think that when something happens to you each and every year you would come to expect it. Like in late Spring when all of a sudden I am battling a cold that drags on for weeks until my delightful husband steps in to say, 'It's your allergies...take a Claratin'. I feel like an idiot every single year. It really never occurs to me that the new grass and flowers are wreaking havoc with my sinuses.

Well, it is October and I *forgot* how dark it gets early in the evening and I *forgot* how much more tired I feel, and grumpy. I am one of those prone to Seasonal Affective Disorder. Those of us already lucky enough to have a mood disorder and live in parts of the hemisphere that have long, dark winters get the added bonus of feeling extra crappy with less light (or serotonin).

It is terrible. I am craving starchy foods I had gotten myself off of all summer. I don't want to get out of bed in the morning. I've been skipping the gym a lot. I just want to wrap myself up in my cozy knit blanket and cocoon on the couch all winter watching BBC or A&E period pieces.

There is another side at war with my SAD side. The part of me that loves Fall...the comfort of warm sweaters and cozy nights in; stews in the crockpot and home baked goods; and those fabulous holidays and special events to look forward to. I can see so much beauty in the dull clouds and monochromatic gray hues that colour the outdoors. The air feels so crisp and cool. Cheeks are rosy and there is a quickness to everyone's steps as they scurry about outside. I love the smell of fireplaces, even the hum of the furnace. I feel much more enchanted these days then I do even on those bright sunny days in summer. Such a dichotomy to love something that is so bad for me. I guess Fall is my guilty pleasure.

Normally I miss the early stages of SAD because I am too busy enjoying myself. I keep pretty busy September through Christmas. This year, however, I am a little more tired or, I suppose, burnt out from the emotional roller coaster that was September. It has left me more susceptible to this borderline, hypo-manic state.

I am not sure what the point of this post was. I guess since I am awake much later than I wish to be, playing around on the computer - revving up my brain instead of helping it wind down, I just needed to remind myself why things are going the way they are going these days.

I sometimes tell friends that I wonder what it would be like to feel "normal". Meaning, what would life be like without all these ups and downs. Most people reply that everyone has ups and downs. That there is no normal. Still, I think it would be cool to get into someone else's head space just to see.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Life

We still have separation anxiety fall-out from the whole school experiment. Izzy doesn't want me out of her sight. Actually, Izzy doesn't want me out of touching range. The latest is refusal to get in the pool for swim class. The same swim class and instructor she had gone to each week over the summer. {{{sigh}}} I am trying to be patient. Really.

On the other hand, Izzy is a very enthusiastic home-schooler. She just goes on and on about how happy she is or what she wants to learn next. It is heavenly.

This week has been a quieter week for us. No house guests and I got sick at the end of the week so we've been just relaxing at home. Alone. It's great. At first the kids were bickering like crazy but we sat down together and had a few talks about what were my expectations for behaviour. We talked about how we need to try harder to get along. While we will disagree, get annoyed or have just plain bad days we need to curb the ongoing attitude that has been happening between the kids. They have spent a lot more time this summer spending time apart from each other playing with separate groups of friends but with everyone busy and back to school the kids are thrown back together as playmates.

They decided that they were lucky to have each other to play with and that they could grow up to be friends like daddy and Aunt Kelly. We talked about what kind of house we wanted to live in and readdressed rules that we could all agree on. I explained that if everyone was unhappy we had the choice of kids to school, mom to work and we'll hang together in the evenings and weekends. I think that got their attention. They love the way our family works as it is and couldn't imagine it being any other way.

I can honestly say this past week has been one of the best ones in a long while. Everyone is getting along. There is less bickering, whining and yelling. I don't know how long it will last but we'll keep trying to push for a respectful family that communicates openly with one another.

Masks

...from Art Class!



Books We Love

We put in our request with my neighbour's classroom scholastic order. I've been so good about not spending all our money at Chapters and now this...a monthly magazine full of book titles the kids and I drool over. I remember how much I loved those Scholastic orders as kids.

We picked up the math dictionary by DK books. I figure Alex loves reading books with short blurbs and definitions so this would be another good way to learn math.



Fun with Roman Numerals. It explains it much better than I did.



We also picked up a 4 pack of the Horrible Science books by Nick Arnold. I didn't know these existed. I have been (not patiently) waiting for Alex to be older, or rather mature enough, to read the Horrible History series and was very excited to come across these. We picked up Blood, Bones and Body Bits, Shocking Electricity, Fatal Forces and Nasty Nature.



From our last library haul, notable mentions for:

Revolting Poems to Make you Squirm by Susie Gibbs
DK Eye Wonder book of Weather
Fire Fighters in the Dark by Dashka Slater

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Our life in Photos

Played baseball with plastic animals.



Took a tour on a Naval Ship.



Made some (very messy) gooey gunk.



Played with it for a while.



Alex and I made, then ate insane quantities of sushi. Izzy just licked wasabi off her chopsticks.



Izzy wrote a list of all the things she can do now that she isn't in school all morning. I helped with spelling...and wrote 'China Town' at the top.



The kids played hairdresser. The name of the salon was the boy's idea.



Did school work. That is my nephew L who stayed with us for three days.

Regaining Normalcy


This was Izzy a few hours after her last day at school, last week. I felt just as tired.

Life got a little bit more normal this week, save a three day visit from my 6 year old nephew who threw our routine into a bit of a tumble. I can happily let everyone know that the surly, stressed out former JK'er is nearly back to her old self. It has been a week now and there are no more nightmares and sleepless nights. No more angry temper tantrums. No aggression or fatigue induced meltdowns.

I am, however, dealing with a whole whack of residual separation anxiety, the likes of which I have never experienced with either child. She wouldn't stay in dance class when she realized Rob was dropping her off. She refused to go to her friend's house without mommy. The same friend she has played with (without mommy) all summer. I tried to beg, bribe and cajole her into getting in the pool at swim class. She had the same teacher and took the same class every week for the entire summer. In fact, in early July, she went in on her own without issue for the very first time to a swim class that was her first without daddy in the pool.

It always ends the same - with tears in her eyes. She pleads to stay with me or Rob. She says she doesn't want to do any of the activities and turns herself into lead weight. Never moving from her spot. Friends, neighbours and the teachers of these activities are quite shocked to see how clingy and fearful she has gotten. Especially from our normally extroverted, independent child.

I sincerely hope this passes quickly. I will give her more support right now as she needs it and try to help her feel more secure again. Life is slowly feeling like it did before last May when we signed up for all this. My fingers are crossed that this anxiety is the last, short lived hump to get over.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Rob and I Talked

This has been an excruciating couple of weeks. I have had to cope with Izzy's deteriorating behaviour at home. She pees the bed 2 or 3 times each night. She has been unbelievably mean and lashing out. She is super clingy and we couldn't even leave her at activities she normally went to. She isn't sleeping. Her moods fluctuate between liking school and hating it, dreading it.

Then there are the drop-offs. So unpleasant that I feel tense just thinking about it. Watching her being pulled away, crying, is so opposite to not only my gut reaction but opposite to how I have parented all along. I've never pushed and allowed them to progress at their speed. The kids are confident and independent in spite of my "coddling" all these past years.

On top of it all, I do not feel like the school is helpful in transitioning the kids. I thought this was just me being over sensitive at first but after talking to parents with children at different schools, I am more unhappy with how this school or teacher handles things. If I had the money and the inclination, I think I would be looking into Montessori schools right now. At least that philosophy gels more with mine.

So I've spent the weekend listening to other people's opinions, rereading some of my why homeschooling rocks books, asking for help from some online parenting folks I've known since I was pregnant with Alex...heck, doing everything short of asking the universe for a sign on how to proceed.

Last night I broke down. I felt absolutely sick over this. It is so hard to push towards something that feels so wrong in your gut. Especially when you don't have to be doing it. In tears I told Rob what I was thinking and feeling. I asked him to hear me out...and that I would be completely honest with my thoughts...then asked him to tell me what to do. Which is funny, because he never tells me what to do. Something about "I trust your instincts...", etc.

I said that I didn't want to do this any more because I am a homeschooler through and through. I believe in the process. I am as committed to it as I am to being politically on the left and an atheist. No regrets or doubts in that department. 100% at peace there.

I said that, in this instance at this particular point in time, school feels so wrong. Not because she cries at drop-off, or because her behavior sucks (because I know it gets better for the majority of kids) but because I am less at ease with school itself. Sitting at tables until you are told otherwise. Raising your hand to go pee. All stuff required to reign in hundreds of children together in one building but sure as heck not essential to the emotional growth of my child. I am very concerned about the lack of proper academic stimulation for her abilities. Isn't the whole point of school to learn? All she is learning is how to be a good student, in a bricks and mortar school environment.

I said that Tuesday I saw a bunch of homeschool kids get back together in art class after being away all summer. They ran into the room, excited, hugging each other, laughing and having fun. At the time it felt like a large, boisterous group but I remembered that this crowd was quite a bit smaller than her kindergarten class, at least by about 5 or 6 kids. The art teacher mentors them, taking suggestions, not teaching at them. They were relaxed and free to communicate with each other. I know that these kids mostly know each other already. I know a good number of them are older than 3 or 4 years old. But, parents are welcome. We help those who need it and step back when they are ready to move forward on their own. It was such a stark contrast to what I am seeing at school.

I said that people around me and at school (obviously) want to give this time for her to settle in...that what I am seeing is for the good of all the kids. Well, no offense to any one out there but my only concern is my kids and what they are getting from this. Plus all these issues are not going to fade away because she isn't crying at the door. I will still be unhappy. I feel like if I could have a do-over, I would have told her school was not an option yet.

I said that I don't know what is wrong with me. That I have no idea how I became such a radical non-conformist but that it is there now and I don't think I can pretend to like or agree to this system. That this goes beyond giving it the old college try. That she is too young.

There have been a few positives but not enough to make me stay the course. I like getting up early...who knew? I do like having more structure to our day. These things I can do on my own though.

Rob wanted to know whether or not we had valid concerns, other than separation anxiety, before we pulled her out. He is a fan of homeschooling and has faith in that process too. As an academic minded person, himself, I know he has issues with educational standards and the curriculum too.

I am a very intuitive person. I trust my instincts and work from there. It has been very hard second guessing myself, listening to multiple opinions and worrying that my intentions are honorable, so to speak. In my heart and in my actions I believe I approached this with as much enthusiasm as possible. I convinced myself, and now I see wrongly convinced others, that I had specific reasons for homeschooling Alex (which I did at the time) that didn't necessarily apply to Izzy. But why we continue has nothing to do with his intellect or attention issues. We homeschool because we are homeschoolers. Period.

So, after pouring my heart out and feeling terrible about this even being such an ordeal, we agreed that school is not for us. That it will be quite a few more years before we agree to sending her but it will be at a time when she is more mature and able to see school for what it is and get from it what she needs.

I can't send her back Monday. I feel like I might be letting some people down but I just can't do it. This is a moral, philosophical and lifestyle choice for us. My heart, my mind, my gut and my husband all agree, I can do this at home - better.

I still have a residual tummy ache but overall my piece of mind is slowly being restored.

Thank you to everyone who has been so supportive these past few weeks. I can't say how much I needed it and appreciate it.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Not sure what to say at this point.

Partly because we have not decided what to do. Everyone was surprised by Izzy's reaction to attending school on Friday. I have never experienced a scenario where my crying child had to be forced into a room. She wouldn't go in on her own and the teacher had to carry her in from the school yard.

It was shocking to me, Rob and other friends and family members who know her so well. This is not a shy, introverted kid.

Here is my problem. Half the time, she wants to continue going to school. So far, she seems to enjoy the last half of her day there. I also know that she is having difficulty transitioning for many reasons. It is new and there are 19 other 3 and 4 year old kids. She is used to being one of the youngest in groups and classes. There are many, many more rules. She is on a stricter, earlier schedule than she is used to. She knows that Alex and mommy are still homeschooling, seeing our homeschooling friends and going to homeschool activities. I know that this is just the beginning and they haven't gotten to the meatier learning parts of school. She is still making friends. And getting used to doing this on her own when everything else in her life, to date, has been an inclusive family affair.

Because she was so insistent about going to school, we relented. Got excited even. She is such a stark contrast to her brother and I felt so sure she would do well that I put aside the other issues I have with school in general and, more particularly, sending 3 year old children off to an extra year of kindergarten. Me, the one who ranted about abolishing JK because it was just a form of subsidized daycare sent my kid off because I thought the she (1) was ready and able to be away from us for a few hours a day, (2) because I figured it was a harmless form of socialization, and (3) she is the kind of kid who needs to experience things first hand.

She is obstinate and headstrong. Two traits that have grown exponentially over the last few weeks. And she is being mean. I can't separate her attitude from what she is picking up on the playground from her tendency to lash out while under stress. I have to ask, though, are the kids who are the most determined in even greater need of a more relaxed environment?

Friday, September 18, 2009

This was a mistake.

Today was the worst drop off yet. I want her home. I was so sure it wouldn't be like this. Everyone says give it time. Of course, this assumes that I really wanted her or needed her to be there to begin with.

It is not as black and white as people think. If it was only about adjusting and breaking her in I would probably feel different.

This has been, without a doubt, the worst parenting week of my life.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

An update about Izzy.

Well, we picked up Izzy after school yesterday and she wasn't crying but she wasn't exactly enthusiastic. In fact, she was pretty grumpy on the walk home.

Today is another day off.

Nothing has been solved or settled. She vacillates between saying she will go back (in a more resigned tone, not at all animated) and saying she is home for good to homeschool. In all my life, I've never felt so unsure about how to move forward.

Has she had enough time to deal with her fears and get into a groove? Is it still nerves or is it the setting, with many rules and multiple children with variable needs that stresses her out? Am I giving up if I yank her out now? What message would either scenario send to her?

Tentatively, I made a suggestion to Rob that we send her Friday, the first day with all 20 kids in class. A few of whom are friends that she has not had a chance to see in class yet. Then we have her go (funny, I want to use the word force...which it may come down to) every day next week. If next Friday is still a bust, we bring her home.

It seems reasonable to my mind but the rest of me is reeling. It has been suggested that we wait a full month before we get a real idea about whether or not she will adjust. I am pretty darn sure that my sensibilities could not take a month of this.

I can hear both sides of the argument in my mind. Keep sending her. She will get over her fears and learn to love it. Keep her home. What is the point in trying to break her in when we really don't want (or need) her there to begin with. Would it be giving up or just chalking it up to a life lesson and proceed on at home as we want?

I also have the voice of the teacher and the school in my head but have to be honest, their concerns do not reflect my priorities for my family.

So, I am confused and not sure were all this is heading. I would kill for a magic ball right now.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

On a Brighter Note this Morning

Alex and I are having a good start to the day. We got back, made some hot chocolate (because it was quite chilly this morning) and sat down to some math. Right now he is doing his writing assignment, a list of 10 questions about himself. He is giggling like crazy in there, laughing because all of his answers are either "Star Wars" or "A Secret".

My favourite book is: Star Wars.
My favourite subject is: a secret.
My favourite sport is: a secret.
My favourite movie is: Star Wars.

Funny kid. Anything to make life easier.

Scared Straight

(Alternate titles for this post considered earlier were JK, Day 2 and Stinking Awful)

Poor Alex, nothing he saw this morning quenched his doubts about bricks and mortar schools. Not that that is a bad thing to me. He wanted to know (1) why it was so early; (2) why they had to stand in lines all the time; (3) what was with the separation of children in different areas; and (4) why on earth would you make the kids stay if they were crying? That last one killed me.

So Izzy woke up this morning begging to homeschool. It was horrible. I knew this staggered entrance thing was crap. Five days since she had been at the school. More than enough time to get herself all worked up again. At one point, I had to leave Rob to talk with her while I went to cry in the shower. Awful. It came down to trying it one more time, today, and then readdressing the idea of homeschooling tonight with daddy.

She finally relaxed a bit at breakfast. We were all up at 6am, to give ourselves a leisurely morning rather than have to rush her out the door. Alex practiced piano while we goofed off in the kitchen and she helped pack her snack. We even had fun on the walk there. Then it was awful all over again.

There was a little boy in the school yard sobbing and screaming while he clung to his mom. Izzy stiffened up and refused to talk. We tried to distract her as much as possible. She did go into the Kindergarten play yard without any problem. She wanted us to stay and watch her- which we did. Then the bell rang. She got into line and started to cry...holding out one arm to me. Awful, awful, awful.

So there are almost 2 hours left before I can go and reclaim her. I am trying to will the clock to move faster.

There are so many issues at play for me here. All conflicting with each other. On one hand, even with the bumpy start, she loved school last week. On the other hand, yesterday was a banner day as a homeschooler - lots of learning, reconnecting with other hs friends and excitement about new projects on the horizon. I felt horrible at the thought of Izzy missing some of it. Yet, Mrs. F-T commented that it was so nice to see Izzy light up with excitement with each new activity. She made a new friend. She thrives on routines. Still, all my reservations about school are coming through at full force. She has a pretty rough class this year. Meaning, there are more than a few kids with behavioral issues. So...here she is...in school for socialization...with kids I wouldn't necessarily pick for her to socialize with (not all of them, certainly)...with kids who are still learning the alphabet and how to cut with scissors...and I have to wonder, why are we doing this?

Do I want her to have a good day or bad today? I'd say I am split 50-50 on that right now.

This is much harder than I thought it would be.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Wormholes, Pangea, and how the Titanic Could Have Been Saved

Just three of the enlightening conversations I held with (or overheard from) Alex. Geez, that boy has quite the mind. Some highlights...


In the car, a conversation between Alex and Izzy:

Izzy: What did you do in gym today Alex.
Alex (reading): Umm...I don't know. I don't remember.
Izzy: Why don't you remember?
Alex: 'Cause my thoughts just got sucked down a wormhole or something.
Izzy: Like in the sand, like a...what's that called again mommy. Where the moles live?
Me: A burrow.
Alex: No, not that kind of worm hole. The kind with the tunnel in space and time.
Izzy: Ohhh, yeah.
Me: LOL.


Tonight, before bed:

Alex: So, I was thinking about Atlantis and how and when it was. Maybe, because no one can find it, it existed way back in Pangea.
Me: Oh, yeah? What was Pangea again?
Alex: That was what the land on earth was called before the continents shifted and divided the plates.
Me: Right.
Alex: Yep, I think that's why we can't find Atlantis anymore. It doesn't exist because none of the places today existed like it was millions of years ago. So places that did exist then must be gone now too.