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. she 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.

Woohoo! Art Class is Back :-)

With art class comes comic least where Alex is concerned. Last year he started with a self portrait that looked like a person who had been shot in the head. This year his portrait is another classic. Granted, he is a year older and more, er, less mature. May I introduce Butt Man!

My favourite part of class was when he looked over at his buddy Q's work (a very talented child with a pretty fantastic dinosaur) and said, "Hey Q, that is really great. It is almost as good as mine!", LOL!

Here is Izzy's. I helped. Can you tell? Ha! The child was refusing to do any work and I had just paid for her to take this one single class. (It is normally during school hours but this staggered entrance left today open.) I said I had paid for the materials and we were taking something home to put on the wall. I'm such a good mommy ;-)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Eclectic and relaxed...

...with an unschoolish bent. Huh? I have read back through my last few posts and think I have moved slightly away from that. Still relaxed - mostly. I have my days, like everyone else. Eclectic, for sure. I like to mix things up and enjoy reading and incorporating different styles and techniques. Unschoolish? Less so each day.

I don't think unschooling works for Alex right now. I wanted to have the work boxes there for him to pick and choose his activities but I realize that certain activities need to be done first thing in the morning. Take today, for example, which was our first day of using the work boxes and was technically a disaster but we had little control over it.

To start, my nephew was with us today. An out of town doctor's appointment for my niece meant a day off school for L. L and Alex are the same age. He is a sweet boy but he and Alex tend to get each other all riled up. Not in a bad way. They just get so excited they become oblivious to the world around them. Then Alex takes a while to settle his brain back down. Plus L is a gaming addict. I banned Wii play today until after Alex had his piano lesson (first one since June) but let the boys play after lunch. By the time everyone left it was late afternoon and Alex was not in a frame of mind to get much done. He gets whinier, and works as slow as molasses. It is hard for him to focus. Izzy starts to get in the way by bugging him or getting in his way. It isn't pretty and eventually devolves into a sulky kid and aggravated mother.

So I know math, piano and reading together will have to come first thing. There will need to be more repetition and better scheduling for his school work. These next few weeks are going to be rough as it is with the extra fatigue from starting activities all over again and this new business of getting Izzy off to school each day.

I wish I could unschool. Between dealing with school (which I am sure is influencing my sudden need to make sure Alex is "covered" in all areas, academically) and dealing with a kid who wakes up each morning with a finite amount of patience and productivity that depletes with each passing hour, I feel forced to come up with a more rigid plan of attack. Mind you, with only two work boxes completed today I can say the relaxed aspect of my homeschooling personality has kicked right in. We'll just finish them tomorrow. I am, after all, not truly on a deadline. And the whole point of this form of education was to keep Alex happy and engaged.

It is hard finding balance some days. As a mom and as a teacher/facilitator.

Recipe Request - Muffins

This was once posted on the Canadian Heart & Stroke foundation website but I can't find it there now. The recipe comes from Rosie Schwartz (The Enlightened Eater's Whole Foods Guide). These are what my friends know as my maternity muffins. I started calling them that because I bake them for everyone I know when they have a baby. Healthy, nutritious and very yummy! They freeze well and each muffin packs 4 grams of protein, 3 grams of fibre and 219 mg of potassium. They are an odd muffin to make. They remind me of little nests. The muffin is mostly vegetable so when you scoop the mixture into the muffin tins it feels and looks like just a clump of wet carrot and zucchini.

Carrot Zucchini Bran Muffins
(makes 12 muffins)

3/4 cup bran cereal
3/4 cup buttermilk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup grated carrot
1 cup shredded zucchini
1 egg lightly beaten
1 egg white lightly beaten
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (200 celcius). Soften bran by mixing together with buttermilk in a separate bowl; set aside. In a large bowl mix dry ingredients and carrot & zucchini. Stir well. In another large bowl combine eggs, vanilla and oil. Mix in mushed buttermilk and bran. Mix dry and wet ingredients. Do not over mix. Spoon into greased muffin tins. Bake 18-20 minutes or until tester comes out dry.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Week One - Work Boxes

- Read Aloud to Mommy (Little House Series - keeping with the pioneer theme this month)
- Writing activity (a worksheet where he answers questions about him)
- Miquon Math (2 or 3 sections from where we last left off)
- Oral recitation of the days and months
- Cutting with scissors
- Board game
- Making houses with architecture stamps

- Read Aloud (Little House)
- Writing copywork (silly poetry)
- Singapore math lesson
- Working on address and phone numbers
- Cutting with scissors
- Colouring worksheet (geometric shapes)

- Read Aloud (Little House)
- Writing activity (tbd)
- Miquon Math
- Spelling work with Dolch list 1, worksheet & puzzle
- Science read about Mercury and paint the first planet- styrofoam ball
- History, talk with mom about Pioneer village experience, look at books
- Weather Video (documentary)

- Read Aloud (Little House)
- Writing copywork
- Singapore math lesson
- Grammar Lesson
- Read poetry with Mom
- Geography, lesson on difference between country, province, city
- Computer time, email 2 people

- Read Aloud (Little House)
- Writing activity (write a poem)
- Math worksheets
- Spelling work with Dolch list 2, worksheet & puzzle
- Science, work on weather instruments
- Social Sciences worksheets
- jigsaw puzzle

3 Hours of Prep Time Later...

...and I have completed my first week agenda for those work-boxes! Well, a little of that time was also consumed with organizing the weekly schedule. I am a scatterbrain at heart. I grew up making lists because lists are the only way I can attain the level of organizational perfection I strive for. To me that is as relaxing as a nice bottle of Italian Pinot. When our cell plan ends in a few months Rob and I are getting IPhones and he tells me I can put my schedule on Google Calendars and it will update my calendar on the phone, which will always be with me...but I digress.

So, instead of trying to figure out what to do with the boxes the night before (which I am convinced would fall apart within days), I have a binder which holds all the information I will need to muddle through. Each week has a schedule, a blank sheet with seven boxes for 5 days where I can jot down what I plan, and a blank meal plan sheet. Why the meal planning? Well, I have a pretty thorough meal planning system. Keeping it in my binder makes it easier to remember that Tuesday is lunch in the car on the way to X activity and Thursday is pick up take-out food night because X ends at 6pm. Really, without all these detailed lists, my life as I know it would fall apart. People may laugh but I can honestly say that since the kids have been born I have been freakishly prepared and on schedule. In all the trips we've ever taken I can think of two times when I forgot something, like a toothbrush or night time pull-ups. I need to overcompensate for my bipolar/ADD/mildly OCD brain. Again, I digress...

I figured out how much time I have each morning sans Miss Iz and have a list of things I would like to accomplish with Alex while he is alert and *not* distracted. I also have a list of reminders for other activities that can be thrown into one of the boxes. Monday and Tuesday are shorter work days because some homeschool activities will eat into our alone time. Wednesday through Friday are the good days where we have more time to do what we want. I have a few master templates at the back of my binder to remind me what the goals will be. For the next while we will be focusing more time on writing skills and adding regularly scheduled lessons for history and geography. There are a few science projects that will take up fair chunks of our time too.

I think I will post the Week 1 agenda separately. Maybe I'll do it weekly. We'll see,

Friday, September 11, 2009

What can I say? I'm a BLITZ blogger!

I usually have a lot to say. I don't always have the time to say it. This is why I post several blogs in one day. I like to sit at the computer for a few hours and just get it all out there. In the interest of time, I am just going to do another week in the life through photos.

We made lop-sided houses, a helicopter and marshmallow men with mini, fruity marshmallows (stale and on sale for 25 cents) and tooth picks.

We stole our friend J's cake decorating idea and made a birthday caterpillar for my niece's birthday.

Izzy rediscovered puzzles and she is really, really good at them.

I made some lemon and lemon cherry bread. Everyone *LOVES* this bread, which is actually a cake recipe that I fiddle with. Sometimes I add poppy seeds, sometimes blueberries. Really anything I just have in the kitchen. Recipe is found at Martha Stewart's site. Oh, and I've made it as the cake too, with the lemon curd and and fruit. To. Die. For.

Alex took the left over lemons and made himself some lemonaide.

Alex started his week long stint as a pioneer student at Black Creek Village.

Rob took Tuesday off to meet the teacher at Izzy's JK intake interview.

She looks so tiny at the school. Plus it is a pretty small school!

Mrs. F-T even handed out homework for the first day in. Cut out pictures of your favourite foods and glue them to a piece of paper. Check out mommy's little perfectionist! The pictures were pretty good squares and they had to be neatly arranged in rows.

She wrote her name on the back. Not bad for a kid who isn't 4 until November.

We picked some tomatoes and made more bruschetta.

Packed a special *Mommy & Izzy Day* picnic, including the cupcakes Izzy made and decorated that morning.

Took the babies for a stroll along the waterfront trail in Whitby.

Found some great stones to skip on the water.

Came back to Heydenshore Park the next night, this time with Daddy, Alex and a bucket of KFC chicken in tow. Had a nice family picnic along a pretty stretch of vacant beach. Found a table mere inches from the water on the rocky shore. The children chased the seagulls from the table and we took a walk down the pier.

Took Izzy to her first real day at school.

She lined up with all the other kids and smiled. A few seconds later she realized she was waving good-bye and would be entering the building sans parental units. There was a little panic and hesitation. I knew she would cry a bit and prayed it would be short lived. I walked back down the path and waited for a friend away from the window so we couldn't see each other. It was hard enough. Thankfully the day turned out well for her.

What is your favorite day of the week?

Another MDC Blog Challenge!

The problem is I don't think I have a favourite day of the week. I blame this squarely on homeschooling. As a homeschooler with an unschoolish, eclectic bent, Friday and Monday just do not have the same significance as it does to the rest of the world. Of course, this is about to change with Miss Iz throwing a wrench into that picture. Now we have to contend with the Monday to Friday grind just like everyone else. Hopefully Alex and I can keep our bitterness at bay. At least a little bit.

Ask me again in a few months.

Blogging for Bloggers

I've accepted a challenge from a fellow homeschooler/mom/blogger over here at MDC. I will try to do as many as possible but this has been a very trying week so it may not be as verbose as my posts tend to be. Maybe that is a good thing, lol.

Describe a place you remember from your childhood.

For some reason it seems appropriate that I should write about my kindergarten class. Izzy and I went through some old photos (and gosh I wish I had a scanner because that kid looks scarily like me, in a freaky clone kind of way) and found my kindergarten picture. Now we only had kindergarten way back when. None of this Junior and Senior stuff. I remember my entrance interview and the teacher asking me to count as high as I could. She cut me off some where near one hundred. I remember the tiny blue bathroom stalls near our cubby holes. I remember the circle mat and the nap mats. Geez, we had naps for a half day of school. Weird. There was milk time. And the french teacher would come in - which must have been a Northern Ontario thing because the kids here don't touch french until the fourth grade. Shocking. I don't remember much about the teacher except that she was very kind. That and she wore a blue terry cloth-like dress with brown and orange stripes.

So, with a heavy heart and lots of pretty decent memories of my own, Izzy started her own kindergarten memories this week. It is still shocking to me. 29 years after my own school debut I took Izzy to hers. Time truly flies by!

This pic sums it all up!

I have had a lot to say about school starting this week. I even started a few other posts but they felt to down, or cynical. Maybe I'll post about it another time. There were a few rough days there. Today was the first full drop-off - no parents allowed. The kids lined up this morning, Mrs. F-T asked the kids to hold up their hands, then wave to the mommies and daddies - and away they went.

Izzy said, "I cried a little bit. Then I feeled better. Then I had so, so, so much fun!!! We sang a song about apples and muffins. The teacher read a book about a dog and his first day of school. I ate my snack and made a new friend and her name is C..."

Mommy is so, so, so proud of her!

Monday, September 7, 2009

It's a school night!

Right now I am taking advantage of an unusually quiet afternoon. Rob is across the room playing Super Mario on the Wii. Alex is upstairs in his room playing Lego with his friend T. Izzy was just called over to her friend M's house to play. I am printing off activity sheets and experiments from the Environment Canada website. Over the summer we ordered the (free) posters and have just put them up on one of the walls. I am making a list of things I need to pick up to start our weather lessons. We will be making our own barometer, thermometer and anemometer. There will be lots of experiments dealing with air mass and solar heat. Plus we'll track weather from coast to coast. I figure its a good way to teach him about the other provinces too. This should be something we can spend the entire year on.

I should log off now and head upstairs to check on the status of the bread. I've been fretting over this pioneer lunch for Alex. The boy just eats so much during the day and there isn't much protein I can send with him without having the ability to keep it cool. My kids eat very well but they eat a lot, all day. Hard to satiate the belly with apples, carrot sticks and buns. We'll have to pretend that the Babybel cheese and pepperette sticks are are authentic.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Where to start?

Well. the work boxes are ready but I am not *starting* school until the 14th. Alex will be doing the pioneer camp all week and I think that they are gradually admitting the kids into kindergarten, meaning she will not be in class every day next week.

So I have a week to get things together. I've been working like a maniac cleaning and organizing the house. I mean, I know I have about 4 pairs of kid scissors around but they are upstairs, downstairs and heaven knows where else. So, I think, wouldn't it be nice to find all the stuff hidden around the house and when I need scissors/glue/tape/etc. I will be able to find it asap. Nice in theory, huh?

I know I need to focus on Alex's writing this year. Rob is upstairs right now working with him on adding and subtracting three and four digit numbers. He can do it. He just doesn't write it out very well. I don't expect him to be a perfect writer but I don't want to hinder other parts of his learning because he can't write well. Doing a science experiment is great but having him write anything down about it is excruciatingly difficult. I admit, though, that my big concern is the 'what if something happened and he needed to go to school' mentality. They would probably ignore all the things he excels at and focus on the few things he lags in.

That makes writing a priority this year. Everything else seems to be quite flexible. Which is good and bad. I sit here wondering where do I start? What should we do? Sometimes I wish a curriculum fairy would just drop off a list for me. I should probably just start by getting off blogger :-)

Thursday, September 3, 2009

I was thisclose to calling it all off!

Well, sort of. Izzy has been so 'bad' the last few days that she has us pulling our hair out. Especially after having a good few weeks. She is scared and stressed and venting it out as anger towards us. This morning she came into bed and said, "I changed my mind. I am not going to school. I am going to the pioneer village with Alex." I explained that it was too late for the poineer village. She wasn't signed up and had no costume, etc. We talked about first day of school jitters. Poor thing is getting herself all worked up.

I said if she really doesn't want to go we will un-enroll her but that means no school for the whole year. If she goes and it isn't for her, she can quit at Christmas. Now, what I didn't tell her is that if she was really stressed and doing horribly I would pull her out sooner. I just think waiting until Christmas really gives the class a real shot and we get a better idea of how she is doing. Now, when we get to grade one and beyond, they will be stuck the whole year if they make that commitment. School is not there at their beck and call. I don't want to abuse the system with whims.

It was super tempting to just tell her she wasn't going. I do want her home. She is learning a lot right now. I also think she will enjoy school and just needs to face her fears first. In fact, after we took a walk to the school this afternoon, she seemed more at ease after walking the halls.

My gut said she just wanted reassurance. I hope it was right.

September 3rd...

...and I am already tired! Izzy has been a bear the last few days. First day of school jitters are wearing us all down. Iz is stressed but still wants to go. Mostly. Today we went to the school to check the class lists. Her friend (and classmate) M came with us. They wandered the halls, drank from the fountain and found their names on the Kindergarten door. Alex requested to stay home and sat and read on a neighbour's porch. Apparently he isn't even curious about school, lol. Her class is Monday through Friday from 8:30 - 11:15am. 19 kids in the class, 11 boys and 8 girls.

We've been cleaning and organizing the whole house, literally top to bottom. Plus, doing some Fall tidying and maintenance. My calendar is filling up at a break-neck speed. Aside from the whole first week of school/driving Alex to friend's for a drop-off and pick-up (so he can head into the city with them), I have meetings, interviews and lots of other stuff next week. But, this weekend I have to bake a cake for neice's birthday, attend neighbourhood Labour Day bbq, teach Alex the words to God Save The Queen, teach him to square dance, introduce him to the concept of a spelling bee, bake homemade lunches for pioneer week...and the list goes on.

Apparently the race is on. Away we go!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

One more week :-(

Izzy starts school soon. I feel a little tense about it. She is a little nervous too. Anxious to go but nervous. All normal, I suspect. I wish I could fast forward a few months to a time when, I hope, we are all more settled. The butterflies in my stomach should be gone by then.