Monthly Archives: February 2013

Curses! The Death of Cursive.

My daughter needed help drafting her very first cover letter.  She’s not getting a paid job (yet!) but it is required for a camp leadership course she is participating in this summer.  I asked her why she wanted to be in the program and jotted down her responses while she started on the computer.  A day later I asked her if she had completed the cover letter and she said no because she couldn’t read my writing.  Not that my writing was so messy but SHE COULD NOT READ CURSIVE!  Still? I was floored.

What do they teach these kids?  Well they actually do teach them cursive writing.  The scrolling script of individual letters is taught to them but they do not require them to practice it.  Huh?  My children are illiterate to hand writing!

I think I’ll just start to leave messages around the house in cursive, like clues to a scavenger hunt.  They have to figure it out or maybe they don’t eat or I can’t drive them anywhere. Oh this could be fun!  Cursive, a necessary skill or old world relic?

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When Your Child IS Awesome!

So I wrote here about my children not being awesome just for showing up or just because they think they are awesome.  Now what do you say when you have a child who actually IS awesome at something?

I was never very “good” at anything in particular.  I considered myself athletic because I could run and jump but I didn’t make the volleyball team and for most years I was second string on the high school basketball team. I suppose my grades were above average but I didn’t win any awards.  I put myself out there, I tried different things and I have some good, maybe even great memories of these experiences.  I wasn’t even close to awesome.

My big girlie has had her share of disappointments.  She’s not the best basketball player or the strongest singer but she is a strong swimmer.  She has some talent (say coaches, not me) but didn’t want to commit to the long hours of training (they are long) and stopped club swimming at the end of grade 7.  Now she’s in grade 9, joined the high school swim team and is having some success in the pool.  Swimming is a “strange” sport in that it’s mostly individual events. You practice as a team but compete as individuals and it’s all on you, the successes and the disappointments.

My Kid Can FLY! via:explodingdog.com

Today my daughter had an AWESOME day in the pool.  She was 1st in 100FR and 1st in 50FLY and the 4x100Relay team she swam with came 2nd.  This is great stuff.  Am I proud? Absolutely!  Am I bragging?  Absolutely not!  She has earned any kudos all on her own by sweating through every stroke (yes they sweat in swimming), every early morning practice and swimming her butt off today to make PBs (personal bests).  These events qualify her for OFSSA – the big time – the secondary school provincial championships in early March.  So today I told my child she was awesome.

When Your Child is NOT Awesome!

I agree with this article by Kathy Buckworth about how we as parents today, wrongly “prop our kids up with false praise.”  We never want to let them fail or go home empty handed, without a trophy or prize.  My husband, the evil genius and I have never overly subscribed to this kind of parenting.  We are self-professed “tough” parents, “mean” parents or “hard asses” as I liked to say when it comes to our kids because we just don’t seem to parent like every one else.

Our big girlie was in the Intro level when she started swim club.  By the end of the year she had progressed enough to be moved into another level, Intro Comp.  At the year end banquet all Intro kids were given trophies.  I guess because she had been moved they “forgot about her” or it was an oversight etc…  she didn’t get a trophy.  She was visibly disappointed, so was I and we did…nothing.  We didn’t ask for a trophy. We didn’t talk to anyone that she didn’t get a trophy.  We were not offended that she was forgotten.  Was it upsetting?  Of course. Did she “need” it?  No.  Did I really need to make it a big deal and tell someone or write a strongly worded letter?  Nope!  My child is not a special snowflake in need of protecting from every bump along the way.  There are battles to fight for my children.  This was far from one of them.  Just because there was not a lot of coddling doesn’t mean there were not lots of snuggles and hugs and kisses along the way.  Like most parents we only ever want the best for our children but for us that also included prepping them for the bad as well as the good.  We have always taught them that life isn’t fair, they can’t always get what they want, people make mistakes and sometimes they are simply not awesome at everything they do.

Both our girls are in competitive swimming so they can swim, in circles, upside down and then some…but when our youngest first started competing she thought she was awesome! She was too cute with that get up and go attitude and was happy with any performance.  We loved it. Her enthusiasm even after she finished dead last in her heat was fun and infectious. But then she started mentioning how awesome she was after every swim.  Not in a hey-mom-I-just-finished-my-first-race-ever-wasn’t-I-awesome? kind of way but she was thinking her efforts really were awesome worthy.  They weren’t.  Finally after a few times of too many “awesome” moments the evil genius had to take her aside and tell her that she was actually less than awesome and that others around her in her group were doing better than her.

Yes! I’m totally awesome.

Usually at this point in retelling this story I can see other parents start to get uncomfortable and give me funny looks.  They are thinking “how on earth can you tell your kid they are not awesome?” He said it because it was true and in order to be really awesome she needed to kick it up a notch. To be honest, she took this info in stride with nary a shrug. It wasn’t for several weeks before we noticed a change, something was different. Her swim performances were actually getting better. She stopped talking about being awesome and started to remark on specifics; like her great turn or her dive was getting better or she kept up in practice with so-and-so. Something clicked. It seemed she was no longer awesome but she was indeed a much better swimmer.

Fast forward to last weekend’s Central Region Championships.  It was our swimmer girl’s first meet at this level.  She had worked hard to get there as you needed to qualify in order to be at this competition.  In the end she didn’t have a great weekend. I was wondering how she would react to her less stellar performances and we had the following conversation:

Me: So what did you think?

SG: It was good.

Me: It was good?

SG: Well, it was okay.

Me: Yes it was okay. Not great but not bad either. What do you want to eat?

SG: Buuuurrrger!

Doing the hard stuff when they are young is HARD.  I won’t lie but we do it now so we don’t have to do it later.  I suffer and sympathize for my children in lots of ways yet sometimes “not awesome” is just fine.  We still get to eat!

Practice What You Preach: Tonight You Make Dinner

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day (gag!). I don’t go crazy for this holiday.  The evil genius and I try to do things for each other at other times during the year.  What did I get?  Nothing.  I’m ok with that.  Really I am.  This day is not a big priority for us and he works hard.  Like really hard, at his own business, as a volunteer for the swim club, as a present father.  I can cut him some slack.

What I didn’t feel like doing was dinner.  My youngest had a late swim schedule last night and I knew we could all have dinner together so I thought I’ll ask my girlies to make it.  They are 14 and 11 and we have tried since the beginning to prepare them for life without us. I firmly believe we are raising adults, not children.  We want them to be responsible, confident and independent women.  This doesn’t happen over night and you can’t teach it to them in a weekend or the summer before they leave for university.  So to put my money where my mouth was I thought they were ready for a challenge.

I was at work and texted my oldest “I want you and your sister to make dinner tonight.”  The response, “Okay.”  That was it.  I guided them to a meal I wanted them to prepare. They were on their way.  After some questions like, “how many potatoes do I use?” and “how do I cook them?” (insert face palm here) I gave them some options then said I would be driving so I couldn’t text. They were on their own.  They needed to figure it out.

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I came home to a meal cooking and the dining room table set.  The ham had not been started.  They googled “How to cook a ham” and only came up with tips not temp and time (note: need to work on their google skills).  So I made them get the package out of the garbage and calculate the weight and convert the time for cooking.

They continued to prepare the meal and set out the appetizers I brought home, some cheese and fresh bread.  The evil genius came home from work and we were getting close to go time.  They put everything in bowls and placed it on the table.  We enjoyed a lovely meal and then the evil genius cleaned up.  It was absolutely wonderful.  We toasted to our family.  They truly are the reason for my full heart on Valentine’s Day and everyday.

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Daily Awesome = Awesome

How does one get so much pleasure from something so simple?  The daily awesome is not so much in the technical definition of “awesome”  of expressing awe in the remarkable or outstanding but more in the informal sense, that sometimes you have to slow down and appreciate some of the common, everyday things we take for granted.

I’ve been writing my “awesomes” for a while now.  They started out on Facebook and I started doing them even before I heard of Neil Paricha and The Book of Awesome.  I found there was a lot of negativity on FB and I’m not going to lie, sometimes I’ve contributed to that but most of the time I’m a fairly positive person.  I think I’m more of a realist than an optimist but I managed to find something great in my day.  Not every day but most days.

I’ve noticed a trend.  There are people on my FB feed using it too.  They are finding the awesome in meaningful but small ways.  It’s not really “mine” to take credit for it but some people are also tagging me in their “awesome” posts which is kind of awesome!  Enjoy your day and I hope you can take a moment to find the pleasure and awesome in your ordinary world.

Retail Therapy: Ikea Dreaming

Got a little flyer in the mail.  I’m itching to do some Ikea shopping/browsing.  I haven’t been in a long while.  I like to go by myself.  I can wander for hours.  HOURS!  I like to look and imagine where I could use something.  I get new decor ideas as well as ideas for rearranging my furniture at home (which my evil genius hates).

I’m creating (in my mind) a nautical theme for our Rec Room.  I’d like to add a few of these little cuties.

MÖRKT Lantern for tealight IKEA Suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.

These mirrors are all over the blogshere with such a variety of interpretations.  Not bad for $19.99 I could buy two.

UNG DRILL Mirror IKEA Can be used in high humidity areas. Safety film  reduces damage if glass is broken.

And if I did buy two I have something like this in mind for our ensuite bathroom.  It’s really ready for a reno but a mini makeover may just have to do.

More cuteness for a shabby chic look  in these roses and floral candles.  I can see them in a little trio on the tub.

DRÖMLIK Scented candle in pot IKEA When the candle has burned itself out, the pot can be used as a tealight holder.

I’m pretty sure I could find all kinds of uses for these containers.  I’ve even seen them converted to pendant lights. Cool!

I’m just amazed how much I can find at Ikea that’s much more to my traditional style – like vintage looking nature and botanical posters.

BILD Poster IKEA Motif created by Maria Mendez.

Oh and I’ve wanted a pair of theses chairs for a long time.  I think they’d look fantastic in my kitchen or with a with a cozy throw in the living room.

BYHOLMA/MARIEBERG Armchair IKEA Handmade piece with soft, rounded shapes and nicely detailed patterns. Each piece of furniture is unique.

Now all I need is some money and time to go!  Not gonna happen but hey dreaming on a cold winter’s day is also what like to do.  Where do your day dreams take you?

The Minister of Education Responds

My very first blog post was a letter I wrote to my local MPPs and the Director of Education (you can read it here … seriously, you can go.  I’ll wait right here).  It was in response to Premier McGuinty’s announcement of a “locked door policy” at all elementary schools, in reaction to the Sandy Hook shooting in Connecticut last December.  It was also forwarded to the Minister of Education by one of the MPPs.

I was’t actually expecting a response but it seemed as though the Director of Education, David Euale read my letter and this was what he had to say, earlier this January:

Thank you for your articulating your thoughts so well.  I agree with many of your points and if this decision remains a Board based decision (rather than a provincial regulation) we will give your views serious attention.  

Well, lo and behold didn’t I get another response yesterday.  In my inbox was a reply from the Minister of Education. “Wow!  Pretty cool,” I thought.  And then I read it.  Um, you tell me but is this response a reply to the letter I wrote?  (Go ahead, it’s all official-like) Honestly, I’m wondering why she bothered to reply at all?   I guess since I didn’t expect a response my expectations weren’t too high. According to this article (you don’t have to read this one) only 850 of 4000 elementary schools (21%) participated in the initial government program. 

So to reiterate:  Your letter is important. You need something.  This is something.  Your children’s safety is important.  We need to do something.  This is something.

A Globe and Mail columnist, Marcus Gee wrote this, (it sounds similar to my letter) and states:

It can’t be good for children to persuade them they live in a dangerous world with deadly threats lurking around every corner. A healthy respect for proven risks like crossing the street without looking is useful. Fear of remote threats like a mass school shooting is not.

I too, still believe a “locked door policy” only sends the wrong message to our children and other parents.  Your children are now safe, but only while locked inside because, what crazy lunatic (upset mother, disgruntled husband, freaked out gang member) would ever target children or teachers outside, playing at recess and cause a ruckus, right?  Nope they would just wait until the children and teachers are all locked up safely inside before being denied entry.

I just don’t see what threats are happening that all schools require locked doors at the elementary level?  And somehow those threats disappear for 20 mins every recess.

I leave you with Dick.  Dick knows rucksus (then I swear no more reading, my brain hurts).

 

 

 

Richard Vernon: [From his office] Jesus Christ Almighty! 
Richard Vernon: What in Gods name is going on in here? 
Richard Vernon: What was that ruckus? 
Andrew Clark: Uh, what ruckus? 
Richard Vernon: I was just in my office and I heard a ruckus. 
Brian Johnson: Could you describe the ruckus, sir?

The Breakfast Club – 1985