Monday, March 28, 2011

Some Kids Just Don't Get It

I have posted before about my oldest girl's struggles with school and the mistakes I think that have happened over the past year and a half that I believe has negatively affected her learning ability.  I.E. the move to a new community and a poor teacher. 

Still we were excited to see that she got not one but two very motivated and dedicated teachers this year.  Add to that she is also taking assisted learning classes for extra help.  So why is it that with this last report card, my daughter has now dropped from approaching or meeting expectations to your "child is below minimal age expectations for her age group". 

I just don't get it.  I'm stressed about it and quite frankly worried for her.  A part of me can't help but feel that she's not trying hard enough, that she's more focused on having fun and being creative than getting down to the nuts and bolts of reading and math.  I look back at my own school years and can't help but feel that by coasting through school I lost a lot of opportunities.  Granted, if I had taken some of those opportunities, I probably would never have met my husband and the rest of my life would have been significantly different. So what's the lesson, life happens for a reason?  I don't know.

I was sharing a few of my concerns with my mom over the weekend and I was amazed by her calm acceptance of what I viewed as big problems.  I was also struck by her calm acceptance of who E is.  She said to me, "She may never get it, Zee, some kids just don't."  Part of me looked at her like she was crazy... what am I supposed to do with that?  What are we going to do if she doesn't get it?  Will they start failing her?

It wasn't until I thought about what my mom had said that I realized how irrational my fear and stress was.  So what if she doesn't get it.  Eventually she will figure out the reading and the math.  She may never be quick at either but she is quick and clever at things that she is passionate about.  What am I afraid of her losing?  Opportunities to make something of herself?  I doubt it.  Opportunities she may lose probably are ones that she wouldn't be interested in anyways.  I don't really have any grand ambitions for my children, I just want them to be healthy and happy and hopefully to find their passion early in life.

It doesn't mean I'm going to stop helping her or give up on teaching her the importance of a good education.  It does mean that I seriously need to chill out and be more laid back about the whole thing.  It does mean that I'm going to embrace who my child is, the good and the not so good. 

She is who she is and She has been "feafully and wonderfully made". 

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The Hairy Knitter

I love to buy wool.  For some reason I get all these grand ideas of how I'm going to make this or that and .... it never really comes to fruition.  Well, lately I've been bored and while I do need to watch movies for our business, I'd like to do something with my hands.  So I dug out my wool bin and found some crochet cotton and began to crochet little pot holders. 

After a week or two of this, I ran out of cotton so I decided to "dig" deeper and voila I found this special cotton that I had purchased a couple of Christmases ago for Christmas angels.  I got stuck on the pattern and there it's sat for two plus years.  In the bin was this sparkly dark purple ball of cotton.  Lightbulb! My SIL's 40th birthday is coming up and as she loves dark purple I was going to crochet her a scarf.  Easy peasy! And it was.  Only I thought the scarf should be a just titch longer and I was out of cotton.  Of course, finding a match to the yarn after two plus years was pretty much a long shot but still I had to try.

So I popped into the local yarn shop. Now, if you were going to go into a yarn store for the first time, who would you picture to be behind that store counter?  Is it a sweet little old lady?  Or perhaps a middle age woman brisk and efficient looking?  Or would it be something like this ....



minus the hat, wearing little round John Lennon glasses and a

work shirt, only those warm scratchy wool ones construction workers wear

doing this



I know, I know.  It shouldn't be strange to see a man knitting.  After all, we've gotten past all that stereotypical gender crap right?  *cough*  I mean this guy, despite his tattoos, obviously knew what he was doing as he instructed a customer on how to fix a dropped stitch.  There are a dozen books out there teaching men to knit and apparently some places offer men only knitting lessons.  Still I have to be honest and admit that the first thought that flashed to my head was I'm sure most of the men attending are probably gay. Which considering the only straight man I have ever met who knitted ended up being gay.  Long story, high drama.

So it struck me as odd and after I later recounted to my husband about my foray in to this yarn shop, we couldn't help laughing at the sense of ridiculousness of it all and so dubbed him The Hairy Knitter.  My husband wanted me to go back and get his picture but I'm just not that brazen. 

In the end, I didn't find my match and ended up having to make due with what I did have. Fortunately, when I wet blocked the scarf, it stretched it somewhat and worked out beautifully after all.  She loved it. 


Long story short every store I hit was a bust so I had to make due with what I had. 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Spending Quality Time With the Kids

Here are some great suggestions for spending Quality Time with the kids by today's guest poster, James Anderson.  



5 Ideas for Spending Quality Time with Your Kids


We lead such busy lives that balancing work and family can be a challenge. But the greatest gift you can give your child is the gift of your time and attention. Spending quality time with your kids may mean rearranging your priorities and reorganizing your schedule, but in the long run both you and your children will reap the benefits. Spending quality time with you is critical to your child’s social and emotional development. It builds self esteem, cements the bond between you, keeps the lines of communication open and creates lasting memories. Here are five ideas on how to spend that time.


1. Read with your child

By no means a new idea, it is one that has stood the test of time. An essential piece of nursery furniture in every child’s room should be a big comfy chair where you and your child can curl up together with a good book. Reading shouldn’t just be confined to bedtime stories. Once your child begins to learn to read, take turns reading to each other. Introduce your child to some of the classic children’s books and discuss the stories. They are full of valuable life lessons. Reading with your child stimulates their imaginations and can fuel a life-long interest in learning.


2. Cook together

You can make meal preparation a fun activity for you and your kids. Cooking with your kids may take a little more time and be a little messy, but it’s a great way to spend some quality time with them and it’s a task that has to be done anyway. It teaches both boys and girls some valuable life skills that will serve them well when they’re older.

3. Make a date with your child

Regularly schedule some one-on-one time when the two of you go off together to do something you both enjoy. Take a trip to the zoo, go to a movie or a play, hike a nature trail or have a picnic in the park. The important thing is that they have your full attention and you have a chance to really listen to them.

4. Take your kids camping

Communing with nature, sleeping in a tent and cooking over a campfire is a great way to spend some quality time with your kids, even if it’s only for one night. For most children, camping is a great adventure that has an almost magical quality. It also offers many teachable moments as they explore the wonders of nature and learn about plants and animals. Sitting around the campfire at night, telling stories and singing songs can be a wonderful bonding experience for the entire family.


5. Work on art and craft projects together

Kids are naturally creative and love making things. There is a wealth of ideas on-line for great art and craft projects for kids as well as some excellent books on the topic. Together you can make everything from homemade play dough to jewelry, finger-puppets, bean mosaics, holiday decorations and birdfeeders. The options are endless. But whatever you choose to do, art and craft projects provide an excellent opportunity to spend quality time with your kids.



Author Bio


James Anderson is a proud father of 2, gadget freak, photographer and daddy blogger. James has been managing his own blog for a few years now. James enjoys writing articles for mums to be and parents of young children and currently writes for Baby Planet who are a leading UK retailer of baby equipment including cots, pushchairs, and high chairs.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I Think I've Found My Passion

Pottery.

So simple and yet so beautiful. 

A good friend of mine took me to meet a potter this past weekend.  It was supposed to be an open house type of deal but since there was only the two of us, the potter, this lovely lady named Darcy took me under her wing, sat me down at the potter's wheel and helped me throw my first bowl.  Then a plate.  Then another bowl.

Wow. 

The experience was amazing.  I was afraid of doing something wrong and yet I felt comfortable with the clay in my hands.  It was gorgeous to see the this bowl form under my hands even though I had a hard time grasping exactly what she meant by centering the clay.  I could feel when the clay became uneven even though I didn't have the knowledge yet on how to fix it.  I was unsure of everything and somewhat intimidated by the fact that so much of it is by feeling and just knowing how much to press, how much to flake away, how much water to add.  She can show me the techniques but I have to learn the feel. 

We were in that studio for over two hours.  Afterwards, we offered to pay her but she wouldn't let us saying it was complimentary.  Normally her lessons run to an hour but as she said .. "hey it was fun".  I have to say I was relieved.  I hadn't come expecting to be given a lesson and money is at an all time low.

Yet all I can think of is when can I go back?  My fingers are itching to get their hands on clay again, to be able to play with it, to mold it and to somehow make it my own.  Because while I may get to go back to trim my work and eventually see it fired and while I know that I may have helped make it, a part of her is in each piece too.  I want to create something that is just 100% me. 

Strange as it may sound coming from one pottery lesson but a part of me feels that something major has changed in my life.  That things will never quite be the same. 

So it is perhaps surprising that I came home somewhat subdued instead of all hepped out and over the moon about my lesson.  The reality is... we can't afford lessons no matter how cheap they are.  Now that this gracious lady has given me this lesson it's given me a thirst for more and I don't know how I am going to achieve that. 

Of course I shared with K all about it and how much I enjoyed it and while he seemed somewhat encouraging, I know the same thoughts run through his head.  His one question was "How did she think you did?".  I don't know really the answer to that question.  She certainly said I had done a good job centering the clay on my own and was talking to me about what to look for in a wheel if I decided to really pursue this so perhaps she thought I had some talent...?

So I've held back from telling him how my thoughts are continuing to run on clay and how very much I want to pusue this because well he has enough stress on him now.  As I type this I look down and see the overdue hydro bill and still I'm looking around my house trying to think of what I could sell to be able to pay for it.  Even thoughts of asking my mom to pay for my lessons. Good Lord!  I'm almost 40 and I'm thinking of asking my mother?  *L*  I won't, of course.  It's virtually impossible for me, thank goodness, due to my personality.

So the question remains:  How am I going to do it?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Lost Tooth

J, who is five, lost her first tooth on Saturday.  I am suprised by how excited she was at the prospect of losing her first tooth.  Ever since that tooth started to get wiggly, she'd been working it to death and discussing the upcoming visit from the Tooth Fairy.  It's hard to believe that one minute she was this wiggly toothless grinning baby and the next she's become this quiet five year old who cautiously contains her excitement until it just has to bubble over. 

How different this was from my oldest daughter.  Although she was aware of the tooth fairy, it was like one minute her tooth was loose and the next moment it was out.  No real waiting.  As J said earnestly, "oh mommy, I was hoping it would come out today and it did!".  Of course, with the loss of J's tooth, it brought a lot of reminiscing for E as I listened to her expound on what to expect from the tooth fairy.

It's a good thing she has such a good memory otherwise I'd have deviated from the routine and blown cover.  Of course, there is always the risk that we'd forget to play toothfairy like we've done before to E.  You an just imagine the backtracking and cover up we had to do on that one.  So it was at 11:00p.m. at night that I attempted to draw a fairy and a tooth on a card with a note and then scrounged through the cupboard for an appropriate gift.  Thank goodness we had a few stray toys kicking around (because according to E, you always get a present for your first tooth, not just money).  Despite the fact that we've known all week that the tooth could fall out at any moment, did we prepare for it?  HAH! 

Still, it's all worth it to hear their excitement in the morning as daddy's trying to blink the sleep out of his eyes so he can focus enough to read her the card from the tooth fairy.  It's even more precious to listen to them discuss the card and wonder who could possibly have drawn the picture because she "didn't know the tooth fairy could draw like that".  Fortunately, this fairy was smart enough to put the gel pens away before she went to bed. 

This little episode has further fostered their belief in fairies as after all they must be real since the tooth fairy exists.  Right mom?  Well, being more pragmatic than romantic it's hard for me to always agree but still it's sweet for them to have their dreams. 

And with J's upcoming dentist appointment looming over us, allI can think of is one less tooth to fix. ;p) 

My baby's growing up.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Saving Time

I really don't like laundry.  I don't mind throwing it in the washer, I don't even mind folding it because it gives me a chance to sit down for a 1/2 hour in front of the tv. but I really don't like putting it away.

So I thought I had struck gold when I figured out that my 7 year old was more than capable of carrying her clothes upstairs and putting them away.  After all we've been using the same clothes storage system since she was a babe (panties/socks in one draw, shirts in one, pants in the other).  She knows were everything goes so it should be easy peasy.  At least that's what I thought.

I don't always utlize her services because I find she wavers from day to day in her enthusiasm for helping out.  Just like me... what a surprise. ;)   Still, the odd day I'm just too busy so I put my foot down and perservere in asking her despite the frowns and exaggerated sighs of yesssss mom.  Sigh they grow up so fast. (Not to mention adopt their mother's mannerisms so darn quick).

To get to the point of this post, her dad was going through her room the other night.  Not only was he disgusted by the mess in her bedroom but also by the amount of stuff that appeared to be under her bed.  I knew there was a storm brewing so I headed upstairs to try and help avert major melt downs.  Only, I was the one that almost had a major melt down as my husband pulled pile after pile of clean folded laundry from under her bed.  ?!?!?!  

Her excuse was that she was in a hurry.  You know you're a kid when it makes so much more sense to throw your clothes under your bed than to take an extra 30 seconds to open a drawer and put the clothes in.  Because while I expect her to put the clothes in the proper place, I'm not so anal uptight that she has to keep everything meticulously folded (as much as I'd like her to).  After all, I don't want her to grow up with OCD. ;) 

I wondered what she planned to do when she ran out of underwear?  Who am I kidding she'd have just one commando.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

It's Over!

So my SITS day has been and gone.  Was it all that I thought it would be?  Well yes, yes it was.  I had a lot of comment love, gained a few new followers and as I told my husband.... found that people think I'm funny.  He said, "I told you so".  See we have this thing where he tells me I should go on the road and I tell him it wouldn't work because he's the only one who thinks I'm funny. Apparently, my humour doesn't only amuse me. ;)

I also browsed a ton of blogs that I had never been to before.  How great is that?  Normally I don't get a lot of time for reading other blogs but yesterday, since it was my SITS day, I gave myself permission to slack off and hang out online for the better part of the day.  Now if you visited yesterday and you didn't get a visit from me and would like me to check out your site.. leave a comment.  I'd love to return the favour and visit you back.  Mainly I attacked the comments two ways... those that had a email address got an email response from me and those that didn't got a visit to their site.  After about the 20th non email comment, I figured maybe I should have been visiting everyone but that got to be too much.

I would like to thank the lovely ladies at SITS for this amazing site and giving me the opportunity to be featured!  SITS really is a lot of fun and great resource.  Thanks!!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

It's Here, It's Here, It's Really Really Here!

It's my SITS day.  It's My SITS day. Yes it is.  Oh right, you guys totally can't hear me singing that out or the crazy little happy dance I'm doing right now.  The happy dance?  Much like the pee pee dance... only much less urgent.

So now that you know that I'm thrilled and excited to have you all here on my SITS day, I'd like to say

Welcome

Grab a cookie


And Something Warm


and stay awhile.

For those of you that may not know about SITS, The Secret to Success is Support is a group of more than 8000 bloggers dedicated to supporting one another by leaving comments.  Lots of comments.  Even more than just that, SITS has become a tremendous resource centre where we can not only find our "tribe" but learn all sorts of tips and tricks on ways to improve our blogging skills.   

I am in essence a mommy blogger.  That's to say I'm a mom and I blog.  While many of my posts may be about my kids, you are just as likely to find me sharing a rant, recipes, a craft, or even the odd review or giveaway.  I also have another blog called Movie Mamma where I review movies coming out on DVD.  Oh did I mention I own a video store?  I actually owned two but sold one last year when we relocated to a new community and now am kinda sorta working with my husband.  Kinda sorta because I've already got a full time gig being a mom and it's just so hard to find time to work. Thank goodness my husband is understanding and he brings the work home. ;)

I am an anonymous blogger which is a nice way of saying I'm a big chicken and don't want people to find out what I've been saying about them without fear of reprisals.  That and something personal of me goes into my writing and while I may not mind sharing my inner thoughts and strange ponderations with you all, I am reluctant to for those that personally know me to have access to them.  More often than not my blog is the place I turn to when things aren't going all that well and well I guess it's like my own little secret garden.

My pseudonym, Zeemaid, stems from an earlier (pre children) addiction to SIMS.  After I googled all the cheats and made my characters all fabulously wealthy, I created a maid character to clean up after the little slobs. Of course, I dressed her in a French maid uniform, adopted a French accent and called her Zee Maid.  How appropriate for these days of being a SAHM where most days I do indeed feel like Zee Maid around here. 

So poke around, read a post or two and you will get the gist of who Zeemaid is.  There is more about me under the About Me tab and some of my more memorable posts under the Favourite Posts tab.  Thanks so much for stopping by.  I really am looking forward to reading and responding to all of your comments.

I think there is an old saying out there that says to "always leave them laughing".  And so with that I leave you with the following three post:


Have a great and blessed day!
Zeemaid

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Evening Family Lessons


http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelgoodin/
 My oldest daughter is in grade two.  According to the note that has been sent home, she's struggling with both reading and math.  No big surprise there.  We've known from day one that she's behind.  Everyone keeps reassuring me that each kid learns different and one day a switch in her head will flick and she'll suddenly get it.  Well, we're still waiting. 

At the last parent teacher conference we attended we asked what could we do to help her with her reading (back in November).  We were made to understand that they don't really recommend a lot of homework, other than practice reading, because they work so hard in class.  So we backed off a little.  I have to admit it was with some relief that we did so because often her frustration levels and my frustration levels would clash and that's not a healthy learning environment by any means. 

So I figured finally we've got a great set of teachers helping her, she gets extra help with her reading and pronunciation a few days a week so it must be all good.  So like I said we backed off.  We let her do her assigned home reading online with assistance from us when she needed it.  I thought it was all good until we got that notice. 

Even though we're not supposed to do comparisons, it's pretty hard not to see where she falls short.  From my 7 year old niece whose job it was to read all her brother's 3rd birthday cards from beginning to end to all of us to the 7 year old foreign student who not only wears a wrist watch but can perfectly tell time. 

Sigh. 

So I've come up with a new plan.  Because she gets frustrated so easily it makes it difficult for us (and I'm sure her teachers) to work with her I've instituted a rewards plan.  I bought a bunch of stuff at the dollar store  and put it in a box. Each day she works with us without getting frustrated she gets a sticker.  When she gets five stickers she gets to pick from the box. 

What we are trying to achieve here is to provide some sort of motivation for her not to give up.  I know she can do more than what she thinks or says she can.  I've seen her do it.  Just like I'm amazed when she will one day print the most neatest letters I've ever seen and yet the next day I open her planner, I can barely read what she's written.  It's almost like she gets stuck and starts to do a whole weepy thing simply to get out of doing her work.  Like she knows if she frustrates us, she will get off the hook from doing her homework.  I'm not just grasping here, I've been trying to analyze her behaviour for weeks now.

Anyways, she seems excited by the whole thing and already has earned two stickers.

Only to make it fair, because I have three kids, I have to provide opportunities for the other two (5 and 3) to earn stickers as well. 

So we've pretty much started our own family night school.  E works with her dad on spelling and math while I get J set up with learning her basic reading sounds on Starfall (BTW if you haven't checked out Starfall.com it's an excellent learning to read resource for preschool and up).  And O and I retire to the living room while I show him flashcards of the Alphabet.  O (almost 4 now)  also goes on Starfall.com and it was with some amazement as I listened to him sound out the letters  S - U - N and turn to me and say "Mommy, that says SUN!". 

Then kicks in the mom guilt as I foresee both J and O excelling in reading right from the get go because we took the time to work with them.  Ah great, a whole new reason for the mom guilt.

It's not that I didn't try to teach E her ABCs and basics it's just that she didn't like to learn. She couldn't even learn the words to Twinkle Twinkle.  It's just her way.   Once baby #2 and then baby#3 came along, I pretty much decided she'd learn at her own pace and it was doing either of us any good to force the issue.  That's why she was going to preschool.  Only half way into her preschool year her teacher decided to embrace the Learning Through Play philosophy and so out when the window any pre-kindergarten basics.  Now she loved her teacher and so did we, so we stuck with it and said to ourselves, people expect too much from children nowadays.  Let kids be kids. What we got out of it was a child who loves science and nature. And that's not a bad thing. 

Only when you're in the school system and preschools are churning out kids who already know to write their name by 5, well it's a hard system to suddenly try to fit into. 

I really believe she'll get it eventually, it's just a hard journey for her (and us) right now. 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Count of Monte Cristo

I've been obsessed with reading the Count of Monte Cristo.  Now I had thought I had already read this novel but either it was so long ago for me to forget the details or I was getting it mixed up with something else.  Despite the fact that I have watched the movie and thus know pretty much how the story ends, I've been practically glued to my Ereader.  All my good intentions of housework and/or blogging goes out the window the minute I pick it up again.  Now I'm not an overly deep thinker and deep philosophical debates go right over my head so you'd think that a book that's full of these types of conversation wouldn't be up my ally. And normally it wouldn't which is why it's fortunate that the characters are so rich and the plot so complex that I was drawn in.  

Now again, not being an overly deep thinker, I won't even pretend to be able to discuss the merits of this book with anything approaching intelligence.  I liked it for what it is and it give me enough to think about afterwards.  I like it when a book can leave me with something to ponder. 

While I watched the 2002 version of the film The Count of Monte Cristo starring James Caviezel and Guy Pearce etc and really enjoyed it, I find that now that I have read the book I can't help but feel the movie didn't do it justice.  I understand why they had to change the story so as to make it much more dramatic for the screen, yet one can't help but think how much richer the film would have been with all the extra subplots. 

Did you know that the classics are free to download?  Just check out Gutenberg.Org.

What are you reading right now?