Monday, March 31, 2008
Saturday, March 29, 2008
Celebrating a Life
We have lived in our house for almost 4 years. It is a wonderful little neighbourhood, we really like living here. There are two main types of households - there are the home owners who were the original owners from 38 years ago, and then the new, young family households.
Thursday, March 27, 2008
hubby: Um, well, soccer, scrapbooking and blogging.
me: Yep. I would agree. They really help me energize, keep motivated and de-stress.
me: So, I should really try to spread my spare time out evenly between my past times, eh? Equal opportunity for all sanity seeking activities - wouldn't you say?
me: So, at the end of April, I am going to the scrapbooking weekend away...and in September I have my big soccer tournament weekend...so, I guess, I should really consider going to Blog Friends Fest...to, like, be fair, and equal to my pastime activities.
me: BBF - it is in July - all the cool bloggers are going - oh, I so want to be a cool blogger. Can you imagine??? A weekend away for blogging! How awesome is that?!?!?!? So, well, I guess I should, like, plan on attending, don't you?
me: Not just blog, but meet Canadian bloggers from all over, well, all over Canada!
hubby: Where is this bloggy thingy happening? And when? And how much?
me: Niagara Falls...July 18-20... not too sure of the cost yet...but man, it will be AWESOME!
hubby: We'll see....
Click HERE for more details!
Hope to see you there!
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Today I have no picture to share...but I have a story, that I think you can imagine what the photo/motion picture (and caption) would be - if I had had my camera this morning at 3:47AM.
Points to keep in mind when visualizing my Wordless Wednesday "photo":
- Every morning I get up and go to work for 4AM. My new office is actually 2 blocks from my parking lot - so, at 3:45AM you can usually find me trudging my way up the street. I park beneath a government office building and exit via the lobby every morning.
- Each morning I cheerfully greet the security guard in the lobby. We exchange hellos, good mornings and usually comment on the weather.
- As I exit the building I walk purposely to my office. I pass countless federal government offices during my 5 minute walk - since, I do work on Parliament Hill. Apparently 4AM is coffee or smoke break for many of the government security guards along my route. I usually nod, or great them with a hello. We seem to have a secret early-morning relationship. I look forward to seeing them and exchanging friendly hellos.
- On March 24, 2008, the Canadian federal government announced that since 9/11 they have spent an extra $24 BILLION on security in Canada.
This morning began like any other morning. I drove to work. Parked my car, walked up the stairs. Turned toward the security desk to greet the security guard...only to find him asleep...yep, asleep.
I chuckled, and went out the front doors - heading to work.
I pass the first big government building - no guard outside having a smoke.
I pass the next big government building - no guard outside having a smoke.
I pass the next big government building - no guard outside having a smoke. I look into the main lobby of the building and there is the guard - flaked out on his desk...alseep...yep, asleep!A bit odd.
I pass the next big government building - no guard outside having a smoke. I look into the main lobby of the building and there is no guard to be seen.
I suddenly realize how dark it is outside. How still. How eerie it is outside.
I continue on my way. A bit discombobulated.
I pass the next big government building - no guard outside having a smoke.
I start to wonder...has something happened to all the security guards? Have they all been drugged - am I walking into the middle of some sort of terrorist plot?
I get to my building. Unlock the door. My heart beating.
I push my floor button. The elevator doors close.
The elevator does not move.
My heart beat quickens.
I jam the button.
The elevator starts to move. Whew!
The elevator jumps to an unexpected stop. The doors do not open.
I panic and look up to discover there is no light indicating what floor I am on.
Suddenly the elevator drops. It feels like 20 floors - but in reality, my office is on the 4th floor of a 6 story building.
I hear creaking and the sounds of gears.
I think back to the sleeping security guards...the "MIA" security guards...my heart is beating in my throat.
I punch at the button. Finally, the elevator resumes its ascent.
The doors open. I get out. Walk to my desk and when my counter-part arrives (3 years, I mean 3 minutes later) I finally take my first breath!
* Can you picture all that...it was like a scene right out of a movie! The type of movie my hubby leaves with bloody finger nail marks on his arm from me grabbing him at every startle!
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Yet again today, the boys' true characters came out in full force. And our recent experience at the local swimming pool has me wondering, pondering, struggling and questioning.
The boys are taking Preschool B swimming. They both passed the first session and they both fell in love with Dillon, their teacher. I have blogged about their individual Water Colour Portraits before. Their behaviour today, and how I handled it should be no surprise to anyone who knows us...but I am still struggling on how we deal with this in the grander scope of things - any insight, advise or help you, my wonderful blog friends can offer is greatly appreciated.
Last week was the first session of the Level B. The boys are registered in the same level. They got the same teacher - both were ecstatic. Unfortunately, I was not too happy as the class was HUGE and the skill levels really varied between the many children.
Happily, this week we discover that the class has been split into two. Both my boys are in the higher level section...with instructor Shawn. Their beloved Dillon is teacher the lower level class.
Can you say pool-side melt down?
I attempted to avert any huge scenes by quickly reassuring each boy.
To Anderson I simply told him that Shawn was a excellent teacher and that Shawn would teach Anderson how to jump higher than before and maybe even how to jump off the diving board into the deep deep water. Anderson unfolded his crossed arms. Anderson sucked up his pouting lip. Anderson gave me an over-sized affirmative nod. Anderson wondered off with Shawn yelling over his shoulder, "I will miss you Dillon". Off he went.
DJ, on the other hand, hid behind me and placed my right leg into a death grip. I had to pry him from behind me. He definitely did not want to go with the new instructor. I could feel his anxiety grow. DJ was not happy. He loudly claimed that he just wanted to stay with me. I calmly told him that Mommy was going swimming with Madigan in her class. His grip around my leg tightened. I turned around. Got down at his level and quietly explained, "DJ, you are a big boy. Dillon is teaching the little boys and girls. You have to go with Shawn. He is super cool and he is a friend of Dillon's. He will help you learn and swim and you will have lots of fun with Shawn. Look at Anderson, all by himself. You go be a good big brother and help him and Shawn. DJ, you are my big strong, brave boy and Shawn will keep you safe. You go show him what a great swimmer you are." Then I offered a couple of big hugs and a quick kiss on his forehead. Reluctantly, DJ headed off to his class.
Both boys did great. I love my new arrangement, I am actually in the pool with Madigan in a Parent and Tot swim while the boys are in the other side of the pool. I get to keep tabs on them and see their improvement. The new instructor came up to me after the class and indicated they are both very strong for their level. He commented that Anderson would be considered a strong "C level" and possibly an average "D level" swimmer and that DJ is a strong B, but needs to work on confidence and putting his face in the water.
I am super proud of the boys. But, I must admit, the level of anxiety and fear DJ brings to the table when things are changed, different or unfamiliar can be very disheartening. I only want to say and do the right things to help him push his comfort level. I fear doing or saying the wrong thing. I am concerned that I will allow him to continue to be a little perfectionist, who only likes things a certain way - his way or the high way. I want him to explore, take risks, and yes, to fail, then learn and grow from his mistakes and failures.
DJ has always been an all-or-nothing sort of boy. After his surgery at 10 days old we were told to expect developmental delays. Well, he rolled over weeks before his peers - was crawling and sitting on his own by 4 months, and walking before 10 months.
One day I was carrying DJ in to the rocking chair for a bottle. The phone rang, I picked up the phone and put down the bottle. Walked over to the rocking chair, gabbing away on the phone. DJ squirmed out of the chair, steadied himself - then took his first steps - well, actually his first 21 steps - over to the table and grabbed his bottle. Turned around and walked back. Yep. He just did it. He was never unsteady on his feet - always balanced - never crashed - never fell onto his bottom - NEVER.
We have noticed that DJ has done this many milestones. Even with school. We kept encouraging DJ to write his name. He never would. Then one day - there on his paper a D and a J...they looked well practiced...but they were not. He just waited until he knew (in his head) how to do it - and did it.
This past Friday, my hubby took DJ skiing at a local hill. Before this trip, DJ has had 5 lessons at another hill. He did great. On the last day of lessons Daddy and son tackled an intermediate hill (YEEK, says Mommy!) off the chair lift. DJ did super - he did amazing - he was comfortable - capable and enjoying himself. Fast forward to last Friday...well, a totally different story. DJ was afraid of the new hill. Not sure of himself. He complained, cried and whined the whole time.
Now, my husband is a skier. He was so looking forward to hitting the slopes with DJ. He had a very long and frustrating day. When detailing the day to me David said that what frustrates him the most is that DJ can do it - he just needs confidence and faith...and to accept that he may not get it all right the first time around.
How as parents can we help our 4 year old realize that there is a world of possibilities out there - hills to ski, oceans to swim and a whole world to enjoy and challenge - and that mistakes, apprehension and fear can all be conquered? I want him to know that it is ok to fail...we learn by our failures and mistakes. No one is perfect. Have fun. Live life to the fullest. I want to instill a high sense of self esteem and confidence in my son. I want him to reach for the stars, while having his feet firmly on the ground.
I never want my son to be hurt or humiliated, but I want him to explore and learn what his limitations are first hand - not by merely fearing failure and never trying.
My heart goes out to my little man. He is smart, athletic, sensitive and caring. I just want him to be all that he can be.
OK - this post is getting a bit long and a bit of a ramble.
If you have made it this far into the post - what do you suggest I do? How would you handle this? Have you faced this type of situation with your kids? Am I crazy? (maybe!!!) What are your biggest parenting challenges when it comes to behaviour? Am I alone in wondering what I am doing to encourage certain traits? Am I alone in wondering what I can do to encourage comfort levels to be pushed? Should they be pushed?
FISH, this parenting gig is not easy!
Monday, March 24, 2008
Homemade Hot Cross Buns
Dressed in your Sunday Best!
A slug of crown Royal!
Yep...look what Mags found while egg hunting...that Easter Bunny may have a problem!
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Yep! It is Saturday again.
Gather up your favorite archived post, dust it off and repost it!! It's that easy! Click HERE to view other Scrolling Saturday entries.
Thank you to the hostesses of this meme, Manners and Moxie and SuchSimplePleasures.
With the hustle and and bustle of life, I sometimes forget that I am special. I think this is a common occurrence for many busy moms. Happily, my son DJ reminded me that I, his mommy, am special. I hope you enjoy this post that I first posted on Friday August 17, 2007.
That means you are special - Part 1 and 2
I have 2 separate stories I would like to share with my "faithful" readers - well, with my wonderful husband and my mom - since I am pretty sure they are the only people reviewing my posts.
When DJ (my eldest son) was just 10 days old he had emergency surgery that saved his life. It is certainly amazing what the medical field can do...and we are eternally thankful. He was left with a faint, long, narrow scar on his belly. When he was just over 2 years old he questioned his scar. Thinking on my feet, I replied that it is a line that says "you are special" and that Dr. Reuben put it there when he saw "how special you are".
Now when anyone comments on DJ's scar or on his little medic alert bracelet, he replies that both mean he is special ---- which he truly is.
Part one of my story begins with the bewitching hour, when Mommy makes dinner and the kids destroy the house. Well, as I made dinner, I could hear the boys chatting in the front room:
Anderson: What's that??
DJ: That's my special line that Dr. Ruby gave me when he made me better. It means that I am special.
DJ: I do not see one on you...MOMMY, why doesn't Sanson have a special line too??
Mommy from the kitchen: Anderson did not have tummy troubles, so he does not have a line, but we all know he is very special - aren't you Sweetheart?
Anderson: (proudly) Me special too.
That was the end of the conversation...or so, I thought.
At bath time I helped DJ take off his clothes and climb into the tub...and when I pulled off Anderson's shirt my mouth dropped. There in thick, permanent marker was scribbles and lines masterfully done by no one but a 2 year old.
DJ proudly confessed by saying " Mommy, Sanson is very special too, so, I made sure he knows it!"
How could I be mad? My heart swelled. Big brother DJ making sure little brother Anderson (and everyone else) knew he was special too.
I will always cherish that moment, and remember it forever.
Jump ahead almost a year. Part two begins on a hot summer afternoon. Mommy and DJ are putting on our bathing suits to take a dip in our pool. Very innocently, DJ comes over to my side and rubs my belly. I feel a little bit self conscience - you see, I am currently struggling with my weight and ask him what he is doing. Three pregnancies in three years has reeked havoc on my body, leaving lots of extra pounds, stretch marks and sadly, a low self-esteem.
With big blue eyes, and a very innocent and loving heart he asks, "Mommy, what's that?"
I realize that he is either pointing at my stretch marks or to the indentation the waist band of my pre-pregnancy pants have left on my plump tummy.
I start to explain how having babies in Mommy's tummy changed her body and DJ interrupts, "Mommy you sure have lots of lines that say you are special - I love you and you are my special Mommy - you are the best Mommy in the world. Can we go swimming now?"
I have never been prouder of those stretch marks.And, I have never been motivated more to change my eating habits and loose this baby weight. So, that I can keep up with my 3 very special kids.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
But, here are the cold, snowy facts:
- Environment Canada indicated that we will have another 6 weeks of winter.
- Here in Ottawa, Ontario we have had 419 centimetres - the second snowiest winter on the books - and will have bragging rights if we hit 444.6 centimetres by July - yep, the official weather rules state the month July...if I see snow in July, I will scream!
- 419 cm equals 13.745 feet which equals a heck of a lot of shovelling
- According to a senior climatologist from Environment Canada, it is "normal" for this area to get 10 to 15 per cent of our annual snowfall after the first day of spring. Yep, I said AFTER...
- The city of Ottawa is $23 million over budget for snow removal...yep, I said $23 million...
I am so sick of winter!
So, I decided to take a sunny disposition on situation. Think warm, sunny weather! Think warm, sunny weather! Think warm, sunny weather!
That got me thinking...warm, sunny weather will melt the snow...leaving puddles and puddles and puddles and a few more puddles --- so, to demonstrate my new optimistic thinking, I bought these:
COME ON SPRING...I really am optimistic!
(Aren't they cute? Now I want a red 'brella!)
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Monday, March 17, 2008
(Dad, if you are reading this, you can click on the green words to go to past stories!)
Friday, March 14, 2008
Well-meaning Husband: Hey Hon, how was your morning?
Tired Wife: Pretty good. There was lots of news to cover this morning. It was pretty busy.
(Loving hug and kiss exchanged)
Well-meaning Husband: Oh, there was Canadian news? I turned on CBC this morning and all they were covering was that New York guy and the prostitute ring.
Tired Wife: Oh there was lots of coverage on that, but there were also clips on all the confidence votes coming up.
Well-meaning/smug Husband: Did they report on the new fashion trends in Ottawa?
Tired Wife: Ummm...no.... (raise eyebrow here to signal confusion over why hubby would be interested in fashion clips from the news)
Well-meaning/smug Husband: I figured that is where you heard that inside out sweaters are all the rage in Ottawa this season.
Tired Wife: (looking down at her sweater) Ah SHIT...
I guess that happens when you get up at 3AM and dress half in the dark and half asleep.
1) Note to self: Double check clothes before leaving each morning.
2) Note to self: Find out if Janet Jackson is available to play me in my life movie...since she has experience in wardrobe malfunctions and all.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Monday, March 10, 2008
Amazing Anderson then drew what he wanted to build. Picked out the wood. Did all the work, under Pepe's tutelage. And voila...a tractor!!!!
Learning how to use the drill-press.
A little help from Pepe.
Using the drill-press all by himself.
The finished tractor all painted.
Brag post completed!!!!
Thursday, March 6, 2008
Well, then I saw this you-tube video over at Laura's blog, A Day in the Life of a Mom of 6(wonderful blog, you should check it out!) and all I could say was WOW! And now, I am slowly seeing things with the proper perspective and realizing things are not that bad.
Thank you everyone for the well wishes. I promise to get back into the swing of things as soon as I am feeling well.
Monday, March 3, 2008
I went to the doctors, then for blood tests and X-rays...I think I am dying, but my doctor insists death is not the probable diagnosis...we shall see. Hence lots of tests.
I love you all dearly...but I have no energy to read, think, comment, or even keep my head up.
David stayed home to care for the kids today while I rested and ran around to medical appointments. This is only the 3rd day he has taken off to relieve me of daily parenting duties in almost 5 years...goes to show you, I am not feeling well.
I promise to catch up on your posts when I can...I promise to lurk and maybe comment here or there. I promise to be back soon. Unless I do die...
OK. End of pity post!
Saturday, March 1, 2008
I have class in 2 hours and I cannot get motivated to go...let alone work on my second oral presentation.
The professor announced last week that he was changing the marking scheme for the course. (Is that allowed? mid-course?)
The handout on the first day of classes allocated marks in this way:
- Attendance for 10%
- Participation in class 5%
- Reading and Writing Assignments 5%
- Quizzes 2 @ 5% for 10%
- Midterm exam -15% written and 15% oral for 30%
- Final exam - 20% written and 20% oral for 40%
Now, he has indicated that the marks will be given out as follows:
- Participation - 10%
- Presentation #1 -10%
- Presentation #2 - 10%
- Midterm exam (written only) 30%
- Final exam (written only) 40%
OK...technically, it means less work since there are no quizzes and no oral exams to get nervous about. I guess I should be happy about that given the fact that I am now working my crazy hours and this means less stress. But I am not.
OK...technically, I rocked my first presentation. I worked very hard on it. Everyone commented on how well it went. I felt really good about it. There was talk that the professor may make presentations the oral marks. Cool. I could live with that...I was expecting a very good mark. How fabulous that the oral part of the midterm is being replaced by the presentation.
Well...here comes the bomb shell...everyone is getting 10/10 for each presentation!
No matter how well prepared you were...no matter how well you presented...no matter how many pronunciation mistakes you made...no matter how many grammar rules you broke...no matter how much you attempted to integrate the course material into your project....no matter how at ease you were presenting...no matter how short, or how long your presentation was...no matter what, everyone got 10/10.
OK...that is great for the students who are struggling. And who knows, perhaps that could have been me. And hey, why I am I upset that everyone is getting a great mark? Let me lay out my arguments:
- Not all the presentations that were done DESERVE a perfect mark. Bottom line argument. A few of the students are really struggling with the oral part of this course. They should receive a mark appropriate for this course. About 3 of the presentations were very well done, they should be compensated for their hard work and success.
- The professor indicated that it is difficult for him to grade a presentation since it is only out of 10. His argument is that if her were to designate 2 marks for grammar, and we made a couple of mistakes and then made a couple of pronunciation mistakes then we would all get 0...ummm.....no....you base the mark on what we should be able to do at this level and how well we do that. Simple solution - grade out of 100 and then divide by 10. Or just grade the presentations like figure skating - some technical marks some presentation marks and some overall marks.
- Most of the students are taking this course in hopes of getting or advancing their career in the Canadian federal government. Bilingualism will open many doors for you in the government. To prove your competency in your second language you take written, comprehension and oral exams. You are graded for each. Pay bonuses and whole new job opportunities can open up to you if you are declared to be competent in the second language. Therefore, if we will be ultimately taking these exams, then we should be prepared. An oral presentation in a classroom is less stressful than the oral exam in the government test...so, mark us, critique us, allow us to really understand where we stand - in reference to the class population and also in terms of obtaining our government classifications.
- A teacher needs to teach, correct and grade...that is his job. He should really understand the expected level of skill needed to pass a course and then grade his students in achieving or exceeding, or sadly, missing that expected level of skill. I personally believe that the professor in this course is very capable of doing this and I believe he is a veteran professor. I think the problem in this class is that there are a few people struggling and a few people who should really be in lower level classes until they get the basics. But with the mis-match of skill in the class, the professor feels that giving everyone 10/10 is a good thing.
- Last August I took the placement test and got placed in the Intermediate 1 class. I found it challenging and studied lots. I was very proud of my A in the class. So, when I signed up for Intermediate 2, I figured it would be the next level up...many of the students in this class would not have succeeded in the Intermediate 1 class I took. There has been a breakdown in the course and program structure. This means that the professor needs to be even more diligent in grading appropriately so that the administrators and placement testers realize if they are correctly placing students.
- I paid good money for this course - almost $500.00. I want to get my money out of the course. I am paying for a professor to teach...and to grade...and to help me realize my language goals.
- Some people excel in written, some in the oral part. As a student, I would like a fair mark in both aspects reflecting my ability in both. The new marking scheme really only grades you on your written...and I am not a good "test taker".
- I am not expecting 10/10 - that is perfect...while I feel my presentation went very well, I know it was not perfect. I want to know where I stand. I want to know that when I continue to the next level I have mastered what is expected of me in this current course. how can I when I am graded perfect and also given the exact grade as everyone else in the class.
Ok...enough...can you believe I am complaining on getting a perfect mark??? Silly me!
But here lies another challenge. I have to do another presentation. I am trying to work on it now. But, because my life is so busy, and the fact that I know I am getting another 10/10, I am lacking in focus, drive and desire to do a GREAT job. I am struggling to get motivated.
I know, that is a bad attitude. But, I cannot help it. I want to be graded - grades help you realize how far you have come, how much you have learned, and how far you still have to go.
This is just my opinion. Maybe I am wrong. But, I was very upset when I heard about the marking scheme change and even more upset that fair marking would not be taking place.
Well, there is a very good chance the professor, or one of my fellow students may read this...I gave out my blog address during my last oral presentation!!!!
Oh well...J'ai le droit d'avoir une opinion!