Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Sparrow Hill
How did it get to be May already? I mean, it's already the 18th and I have no idea where the month has gone. For us, it's been tunnel vision to photo day with the realtors (as in listing day), which my husband has infuriatingly and, yes, thankfully, postponed a good four times now. Friday at noon we will be officially photographed - the house will, I mean - and then we will start getting phone calls to clean up and get out within an hour, probably during naptime or when the kids are ready for their baths.
Yes, for a while yet, life will be in upheaval. But it is so exciting and a bit unbelievable to think that within six months, we will be in our forever home at Sparrow Hill (this is what I've named it). Drywall has begun, fireplaces are in, and we have the most gorgeous recycled doors, thanks to my husband's resourcefulness. I don't know where to begin. The landscaping has changed completely in the last week, with rock fill altering the elevations. It's starting to feel like the place it's going to be, if that makes sense. I am DYING to see my kitchen start going in, but of course the under-layers must happen first.
I won't go on and on in detail because I haven't any new photos for you yet. I will try to get some by next week. In the meantime, check out this etsy site that sells wall decals.  I like the birds, but they have a gazillion amazing ones...Have fun perusing!

Also loving Poppytalk Market, an online market full of handmade loveliness. Check it out fo shizzle:

Handmade Charlotte is another site that blows me away. This mother of FIVE somehow finds time to blog about and post the most beautiful things. Trust me and take the time to scroll down, down, and further down. You will not be disappointed.

Recently an old high school friend started posting pictures of her delicious looking culinary endeavours on Facebook. I thought to myself, she should be doing a blog. Now, she's paired up with an artist friend and indeed, they've launched "Pepper and Paint." Brand new, but looks promising and has lovely photography. Check them out: .


On another topic, I know MANY parents out there are dealing with the persistent and ubiquitous plight of kids wrangling with ADHD. A friend of mine recently pointed me to this amazing blog post, written by one such mother. I highly recommend you read her letter to the BC Ministry of Eduation:
As a learning assistance teacher responsible for providing support to teachers of such kids at the high school level (before I had my oldest four years ago), I met a saddening amount of resistance from teachers who felt they were already doing everything they could, even as I presented new models and approaches to them. Understandably some were defensive because the new suggestions could have been construed as criticism, but I was very cautious not to approach it from that angle. I remember one teacher saying he taught all kids the same way, and it was not his responsibility if they couldn't process his lessons. I responded to that by telling him that he may not realize it but he had probably already been accommodating the individual needs of his students for some time, and than no one was accusing him of not caring. He remained defensive, and was clearly frustrated with the lack of support for the kids who needed it.

Classroom teachers are usually doing their best (not always, but that's another talk show), but the truth is that a lack of funding and a complicated "categorization" system means it's extremely difficult to get the one-on-one help many students need.

This goes way beyond just ADHD. Every student has their own unique way of absorbing information. Some have high IQ's and some have lower ones. And I don't dare forget to mention "The Spectrum," which now consists of an inordinately broad range of labels, including but not exclusive to autism. Asperger's syndrome, Tourette's syndrome, general sensitivity to audio and visual input and a wide range of other developmental and biological issues reside here. Fetal Alcohol Syndrome also falls into a spectrum category because the list of possible outcomes are vast. There are the "gifted" or the "limited" students, who either aren't being challenged enough (and usually acting out as a result) or are completely overwhelmed by a full curriculum if not provided with full-time, one-on-one support - the funding for which is usually allocated to those with more severe learning and/or physical challenges. Sigh.
When meeting with parents to revise or create their child's IEP (Individualized Education Plan), I always made a point of using the term "Learning Difference" rather than "Learning Disability," which in my opinion is an antiquated label with no positive function at all. Slowly educators are changing tack and our kids are being recognized as individuals with their own learning paths. Slowly we are learning that our job as educators is to guide them through a process of self-determination along with the specifics of curriculum. Teachers need to take on the task of being "lifelong learners" themselves; to remember that we are role models and the world our students are stepping into is a different one than it was when we were in their shoes. This is the generation who will determine how we are cared for when we become too old to make those decisions for ourselves. Let us remember that even as we struggle to achieve positive direction for our students, amidst red tape, budget and staffing limitations, that we can change our future and the futures of these young people by showing them how to find their way.

My advice to students who can't seem to find a focus or function comfortably in the classroom: When one person won't listen to your plea for help, ask again. If they don't listen, ask someone else. Call a help line, go to a teacher you don't even know, ask a friend's parent if yours doesn't know what to do. Yes, this can be frustrating and you may feel judged or embarrassed. Swallow that down and remember that the adults in your community work for you. We are your employees, in a true sense, so call upon us to help you find your path.

This is not about blaming the things that haven't worked up to this point, it's about knowing there is a way to make a learning experience a positive one. Tools for eliminating stress, streamlining or breaking down assignments in to manageable chunks, these are all available when you find the right resources. There will be hoops to jump through, but you absolutely can find people and gain learning tools to help you both manage whatever you feel is holding you back and even accelerate your enjoyment and productivity in learning.

On the topic of medication I am cautious. As an educator I have seen students benefit from prescriptions to drugs like ritalin, if only in the capacity of functionality in their school experience. That said, long term side effects are not yet known and as an educator I would probably not recommend medicating a child who might benefit just as much from alternate teaching methods or environment. No blanket statements here; I am not a physician or a psychiatrist, just an educator and parent who would probably do everything under the sun before I would medicate my kid to calm him down.

Yes, I realize not all parents have unlimited access to high performance education models, or the time or money to seek them out. But any parent with the motivation and tenacity CAN facilitate change. In than vein, my kudos of the day goes out to Jacqueline Laprise, author of the above letter to the BCME. I am also sending out a big shout to the amazing educators out there. Most of you ARE trying to make a difference, even within the restrictions I've mentioned here. Finally, a "holla" to the students out there who motivate us to do better for you. You are our future, and I respect you.


That's it for now! Hope to post more housey photos soon or at least something more creative than more talk of no sleep and the wonky bedtime routines of my chitluns.

I sign off with a quip I heard somewhere years ago, and loved, and sign my most special letters with to this day:

Until our next joining of hearts ~

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Books Whut I Likes

While I should really resume the sifting, sorting, decluttering and purging rampage I began today, I am spent, and I figured while moving certain things around that I should share with you a few of my favourite reads. I took one shot of my fiction pile, and one of my cookbooks. These of course are a meager few of what I own as a voracious reader in the process of building a library in my new home...but for now they should serve as an ample list of HIGHLY recommended reads for those of you who haven't yet been bestowed with their excellence. Please add to them "The Family Dinner," by Laurie David (Larry David's ex, but seemingly nothing like him, in a good way - he IS hilarious, but only in small doses) and "Life is Too Short to Fold Fitted Sheets" by Lisa Quinn, which I lent to a friend because it had me HOWLING (it's a mom thing). Also, "The Help," by Kathryn Stockett. Just a brilliant read. Anyway, I hope this helps a few of you out with your next search for good reading. You won't be disappointed.

Got lots done today thanks to our godsend of a nanny, Cindy. That's not to say I can afford an actual Nanny. We found her when I needed someone to help me with lifting the kids in the two weeks following my breast reduction last fall ("they're real, and they're spectacular!"), and she has proven to be a godsend (I use this term in spite of my google status as an aetheist agnostic) who is available on short notice and so flexible and helpful with our boys, to say the least. Really, she is just the most giving, caring person. She's English, and I must say there really is something comforting about the accent and demeanor of the Brits - I still have fond memories of a sitter my Gramma used to call when we came out west to visit as children (I grew up in Halifax, though I was born here in BC...but I digress). I had Cindy come and play with the kids this morning so I could tackle the cleaning out of closets and cupboards and such. She took the kids outside to play on their bikes and run around, and did a lovely job of exhausting them. I already feel better with today's work done. Even if we weren't selling the place, this stuff has needed doing for a while. Yay.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Kitty Cuddles and Snail Mail

Hello, my poor, neglected readers...I hope all four of you are doing well today (ha ha).

I come to you worn and weary. It's been a hair-straight-back couple of weeks and there is little to no sign of relent as we prepare our current home to go on the market next week. The photographers from the real estate office are coming on Tuesday, which gives us five days to get a ridiculous amount of stuff done. We won't manage it all, but it will probably work out fine. This place is due for a nice deep cleaning, decluttering and purging anyway. It will feel good to get to the other side of that process...At least the initial phase of it, which will lead to subsequent ones as we get closer to our move.

I just spent a few precious moments perusing the other blogs out there. Please check out the ones I am "following" as they are really fun and provide countless links to other great web-spots. I actually just entered a contest for a free blog redesign through Danielle Moss's blog...I am not even sure if the ones I follow show up for you without my listing them specifically. Clearly, I need her help! At any rate, if I ever get enough time to sit around and compile links for you, I will do so. Lately there isn't much time for such things, and even now my husband is harassing me to go to bed (it's 9:35, and yes, I am that tired).

My lovely Sadie girl is curled up in the nook behind my knees, and we have the warm green blanket draped over us. My husband is watching some show about cylinder heads and I must say it's tempting me to take his advice and meander on up to my comfy bed. Today was a long one and I feel like I barely got anything done. My four year-old would NOT listen to me, and I am still sore after running the Times Colonist 10K on Sunday (I'm not fast, but worked hard and finished at 1:04:12 - next year it will be less than an hour!). I spent almost two hours cleaning my car, which I so don't have time for but which would have soon reached the point of no return. My kids trash the poor thing daily!

I have been missing our dog, Rupert, so much lately. We saw a St. Bernard (Rupe was an English Mastiff) at the park recently, writhing around on his back on the grass with his tongue hanging out and a big grin on his face. Reminding us of our golden boy. We'll get another dog eventually. Just not while we have all this stuff going on. I also saw the lady who used to house & dog sit for us when he was still with us today. We haven't been in touch for a few years and she didn't see me. I didn't say hello, just because I knew I would start bawling if I had to tell her he was gone. The worst thing about dogs is losing them. Such magical things they are.

I know this evening's topics are random, but I must sign off for now. Will post further updates on the house and such soon...probably after next Tuesday. Special thanks to my goodest friend of all, the creative and brilliant Jennifer Rae Forsyth, who writes to me and sends me wonderful things even when I don't have time to reciprocate (though I try). I'm talking old-fashioned proper mail here, people. It's a wonderful thing. Here, I will include a picture of just one wee stack of what she's sent me in the last six months to a year...

Hoping you all have more down time than I do right now, and if not, well at least we're in it together. Bon nuit.