Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Its not easy being small.

We have this book, a Sesame Street featuring Elmo book, that talks about being small and wishing you were bigger, or being big and wishing you were small. This book crossed my mind as I was pulling out of the parking lot after some time at the lake with the kids. We had visited the park, late in the afternoon but before local schools had let out. It was full of children, ages four and under. The kids had fun but I spent the whole time having to shadow Alex.

Alex is a big kid for his age. I think I measured him at around 4'2" last Christmas. He has grown at least another inch since...his size 7 pants and creeping up his ankles. A boy who just turned 6 a few months ago is in size 8 tops and 7/8 pants. He is very well spoken (at least when not stuttering from being over excited or tired) and comes across as older to many people. Which is a problem.

At the park, I see my kid, running around with the other little kids, having fun - being exuberant. They see a much older child, too big to play with their kids - assuming he will be too rough on them. He gets into a lot of trouble, prematurely, from parents who see him running too close to their little ones. It is frustrating and makes me more than a little angry.

Yes, he is a big kid but he has a gentle soul. Sure, if the boys are running around playing pirates and holding swords, he will too - with gusto! But he would never hurt a little kid intentionally.

Its not easy being big...indeed.


Alex is back on the computer. He takes lengthy breaks from it. Months at a time, even. He's back now, gmailing everyone he knows.

Rob and I get such a kick out of it.

The best part is that he has to work on his spelling to write to people. Sometimes I'll sit upstairs with my computer while he is down here on the desk-top and we will send messages back and forth to each other.

This kid is getting pretty good at navigating around the computer. I imagine it will only be a matter of time before Rob introduces him to some early programming. Then I'll have two people in the family who will be able to help me when the funny error messages pop up on my screen. Ohhh...that could be great!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Easter prep '09

Getting ready for the weekend. Just added three extra bodies to my turkey dinner on Sunday. That gives us a grand total of eleven. Six of which are kidlets. I love cooking for people. Time is a bit of an issue this year as we are out of town Friday and Saturday with another family turkey dinner but I am planning like a pro. Gotta love spreadsheets! Gigantic turkey is now thawing in fridge. Wine has been purchased to poach fish dish for my vegetarian guests...and maybe drink too, lol. Bread dough is rising as I write and desserts will be partially made and frozen. Plus I have to prep all the things I am bringing to the out-of-town turkey fest. Its a lot of work but I admit that I just love doing it.

If there was a job where I only had to make turkey dinners for people, I would totally take it! There is probably a pill for this, right?


We've had quite a few on the go these days. I have a ton of ideas for Alex but Izzy is a bit pickier in what she will and will not cooperate with. Since we are getting ready for JK her projects involve a lot of cutting and gluing. Such as the collage of favourite foods she cut from various flyers. She loves to cut up pieces of paper. Hand the girl some scissors and glue and I've got a few hours to kill on my hands.
They both are working on books, with the help of some print-outs from enchantedlearning.com. I bought a one year subscription because the site is loaded with tons of activities. Alex has been introduced to crossword puzzles and word searches through this site and now I have a ton at my disposal.

Friday, April 3, 2009

The 1950s Sitcom Mom

I have a new bread recipe, thanks to this book. I should have taken a picture of the two loaves I made yesterday but one was eaten up quite quickly and the other went to a friend. It was so easy to make and it reminded me of some old commercial where the mom was baking some instant thing in the kitchen but threw some flour on her shirt before she presented it to her family. You know, look like you slaved away all day and must be one hell of a chef to even pull it off.

Speaking of TV moms, I read a conversation online between stay-at-home moms and whether or not these women were doing a disservice to their children with the hot breakfasts and home-made cookies after school. It got me thinking about my kids, and more specifically, my daughter. I had not browsed this site in quite some time, and to be honest, really don't even think of myself as a sahm. Probably because we are rarely home, and when we are, we are busy with school stuff. Homeschooling feels like a job to me. At least in the sense that I do a lot of reading and prep work for the kids, not to mention all the time spent on arranging the calendar and activities.

It is funny how the 50s mom, with the pretty dresses and the perfectly groomed children and house are still such a big part of our consciousness. I suppose that this is the epitome of the sainted mother. Of course, now the bar has been raised even farther. One must also work, pull in a great salary at a great job and be the perfect mother, house keeper, etc... I couldn't fall further from the mark, nor would I ever strive for such an artificial and glazed lifestyle but my kids do have a little 'Leave it to Beaver' going on in their lives.

We snuggle and read under the covers when it is rainy outside and choose not to leave the house. I make, from scratch, most of their meals and treats. I am always around when they need to chat or want a hug. They have it pretty good but I wonder what they'll make of this when they grow up? I certainly hope they will look back fondly on their childhood. Will Alex expect his wife to whip up grand family meals or even stay home to educate their children? And Izzy? My mind is all a flutter wondering what kind of choices she'd make in the future.

I guess my first priority is for them to see they have choices. Yes, be prepared to work and take care of yourself, hopefully in a profession they enjoy. But also remember family is important and be at peace with the choices you make for your kids. I hope they see that gender roles can vary too. And that I stayed home for many reasons but first and foremost is because I want to be here. If Alex grew up and had a partner willing to work while he cared for the kids, I'd say more power to him.

Whatever happens, whatever they do, I hope I impart to them the notion that happy parents breed happy children. So work if that makes you happy. Stay home with the kids, if you are able and prefer. Just be happy.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Math mania!

I spent the day baking bread, muffins and a pie. The kids hung out at the table doing some work for me. Izzy was practicing writing her name and cutting everything she could get her hands on with her scissors. Alex burned through 30, yes 30!, pages in his math book. About 1/3 of it. The final third. We had been talking about how he is going pretty slowly with the Singapore 1A - part one book. He knows the material. He can do the work with no effort. He just hates writing and finds the process of work sheets tedious. I showed him books from the next two levels and he saw that he was capable of the more difficult material. So he decided to get cracking. He just sailed through questions that asked him to circle the third hat from the left, or the basic addition and subtraction. He no longer has to count on his fingers. Answers come easily for problems such as, there are three marbles beside the bag of marbles and 12 marbles all together, how many are in the bag?

We agreed to work through 1A, part 2 as quickly as possible and then move on to the Miquon orange book. The goal is to start the next level up for both curriculum in September. I stole this comment of a math review website and it sums the two approaches nicely: "I have both the Singapore and Miquon math sets, so we'll alternate since they complement each other nicely. Singapore is more structured and teaches a certain thinking process to the point of mastery. The scope of content is somewhat narrow, and incorporates many word problems. Miquon is flexible and encourages independent discovery and mathematical exploration. The scope of content is broad, but does not include word problems." I find that between the two of them, we get the best of both worlds. A little redundancy might occur but that should just strengthen his foundation.

It feels good to see some real math coming out of this kid. He gets high marks (my imaginary marks) in language and literature. I know he loves math and science and shows great aptitude for those subjects, so seeing some genuine output makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside. I'll never worry about him falling behind the other kids at school as long as math and language skills are above board.

A side note of the writing front, I found a book that has made my personal top ten homeschooling books list. It is called Games for Writing, by Peggy Kaye, and it is ingenious. The caption under the title says it all, playful ways to help your child learn to write. Right now I am trying to move Alex from writing in all capital letters to lower case. One idea from the book is to make a menu for monsters. So I took some craft paper and made a menu for the Monster cafe, with sub-headings for Appetizers. Entrees, Beverages and Desserts. Alex gets to fill in the rest, in lower case of course, complete with prices. What could be more fun for a 6 year old boy that coming up with gems like deep fried eyeballs or smelly fart soup? I'll post a pic when its done. Since we got a little too carried away with math today, we didn't get as far on that project as we'd hoped.