Saturday, 29 November 2008

Parent-Teacher Interviews and Report Cards

This past week, the kids came home with their first report cards and yesterday, I went to meet each of their teachers. All three brought home excellent report cards. I do have to say that I don't agree with the way the report cards are worded, and that it seems to me like pre-written comments that the teachers just cut and paste. Dragon and Fairy had the exact same comments for Drama & Dance for example "name of child communicates for different audiences and purposes with a high degree of effectiveness. Keep up the great work!" I realized that teachers are very busy, but it would be nice to have a bit more personal comments. I remember my report cards when I was little, it was completely personal, maybe a little too much...I always had "talks too much" or "could do better"!
I went by myself to the parent-teacher interviews while Dad stayed home with the kids. I wasn't sure what to expect, I wasn't concerned about their academic performances, having kept track of their progess since their start in October, but I was more curious to hear what the teachers will comment on. I prepared myself to be patient if I heard comments from them about how surprised they were that my children did well in school academically or even socially...
The first teacher I met was Dragon's. She told me how well he was doing, getting along with others. She even shared with me how she had been worried at first that he might get bullied by the other kids since he had never gone to school. I did correct her that he had attended JK and SK. She went through the report card a little bit, and told me about her surprise on his first day, when she had planned a math quiz for the class and decided to give it to him anyway, to see where he was at. He had done perfect on the quiz, and she told me that I had obviously been doing a very good job at home with him. She repeated that compliment a couple more times, assured me that Dragon was doing great, and that there were no concerns for him. I walked out of the first interview with a smile on my face...
The second meeting was with Fairy's teacher. She seemed a bit cold to me at first, but Fairy told me she was nice in the classroom. She told me how well Fairy was adjusting to the class, but that she was a bit too quiet, and not participating enough in oral discussions. On the positive side, she did say that she was doing very well in all subjects (she did get 7 "A" out of 14 marks, the rest were "B") and that she works well without supervision, and is always willing to help others.
She also told me that I had done a really good job at home with her! I thanked her, and I thought we would get back to Fairy's report card, but instead she wanted to know more about homeschooling, where did I get my curriculum from, did I follow the Ontario government recommendations? I didn't get the impression that she was "testing" me, she seemed to be genuinely interested in how it worked! After I explained to her briefly, she told me that it was obvious that I had enjoyed that, and that maybe I should consider going to Teacher's College! She even added that she thought I had missed my calling, but that it was never too late! One major point that I walked away with, besides the compliments (lol), was that grammar and spelling are not covered in school. I was shocked to hear that, I had kept on asking Fairy about it, but thought that maybe she wasn't recognizing it, because maybe it was just built in within her language arts subject. But the teacher told me that no, they don't do it, she agreed with me that it was ridiculous to not cover the basics, but that is what the government has set at this time, and she has to follow it. I told her that we will be doing grammar and spelling at home.
I left that meeting with an even bigger smile on my face, but at the same time, realizing how much I miss homeschooling, and knowing how important afterschooling is, to cover what is lacking in the classroom.
The last meeting was with Princess's teacher, and she started by saying how sweet and wonderful Princess is. She is also adjusting very well, participating, and helping others.
It was nice for me to finally see where my children are spending most of their days. I had been to the school, but not in their classrooms. I am proud of their great start!

Friday, 28 November 2008

I still can't drink it...

I have been in Canada for 18 years now...but I still can't bring myself to even try this holiday season drink. My husband really likes it, so every year I bring him a bottle as soon as I see it in the grocery store and every year I say the same thing..."Why would anyone want to drink chicken's milk?".
There was a time, when I first moved to Canada, that I relied on the french side of all the products that I came across and this was one that I just never understood. I know it's not chicken's milk, but who ever thought that it was a good translation for egg nog???

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

I did it! I am a NaNoWriMo Winner!

Yes! I am finished! I am happy to say that I actually enjoyed the journey much more than I thought I would when I started on November 1. But now...I don't know what else to write for this post!!!

Monday, 24 November 2008

Book Sharing

Ok...might as well called it Book Sharing Monday!
I have two to share tonight. One is holiday related, the other is not.

First up is Cornelia Funke's "When Santa Fell to Earth". I picked this one from the library because Dragon and I have been reading Dragon Rider. It is taking us forever, but we still like it a lot. We also had listened to Inkheart last year on our way to Florida. We just started this book and so far we like it...Visit Cornelia Funke's website for more on this Christmas book.

Here is a part that Dragon enjoyed in particular:

""Booger-burps and reindeer poo! What kind of a mess is this?" cried the largest of them. "What happened?"
"We've fallen from the sky again," said Niklas, wearily, and bent to look under his bed, but the map wasn't there, either. "

The second book, "The Spider and the Fly" is based on a 1829 poem from Mary Howitt, and illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi (you might recognize the name from the Spiderwick Chronicles). The poem is delightful and the black and white illustrations are just fabulous and so dramatic.

Here is a short sample of the poem:

"Sweet creature!" said the Spider. "you're witty and you're wise. How handsome are your gauzy wings, how brilliant are your eyes! I have a little looking-glass upon my parlor shelf, If you'd step in one moment, dear, you shall behold yourself."

If you visit Tony DiTerlizzi site, you will find a download for making holiday ornaments based on the characters of the story!

Friday, 21 November 2008

A different point of view

I have been wanting to play around with my camera a little...this wasn't in black and white, but I thought it would be fun to take part in this self-portrait challenge from Shutter Sisters. All I had to do was go outside this morning (brr...) and take a picture of myself using the sky for background and another of my feet on the ground. Our grass is still so green!

Monday, 17 November 2008

Fun Christmas Picture Books and Book Sharing Sunday (late again)

I really should just call that Book Sharing Monday instead of Sunday but...I am sure whoever is reading this will forgive me for being late...right? The kids have enjoyed listening to me reading aloud picture books from the library's Christmas section and I am choosing two to share with you tonight. A little bit of a quick book review/book sharing.
Maybe for the rest of the holiday season, I will just stick to sharing little bits of Christmas or Winter related books? What do you think? Drop me a comment! I really love receiving those...(hint, hint, lol)

Here are two that were particularly fun for us today. Even if my two oldest are getting older, and are really past the age sometimes of the picture books, they still love listening to them. As long as the story is more than just a few words per page!
Unless I have found a review or been told of a book in particular, I usually choose picture books by their cover or their title. The illustrations can be a reason for me to bring a book home, or it could be that I just know the story will be of interest to the kids, or at least one of my kids. Sometimes I just feel like it might be a fun one to read (like so many Dr. Seuss ones).

First up is "Auntie Claus" written and illustrated by Elise Primavera. I first picked this one off the shelf because of the illustrations. I knew that Fairy would enjoy looking through these. I only realized when I was putting this post together that we already read "The Secret Order of the Gumm Street Girls" by the same author. Fairy, Dragon and Princess all enjoyed this story, with the little bits of Christmas magic, the spoiled little brother, and the B-B-and-G List...
Here was one of their favourite parts:

"As Sophie made her way toward the coal mines, she could hear the chanting of the B-B-and-G elves:
Spoiled brats and crybabies, whine babies, and all the ones who don't believe: Here's some coal and here's some gunk - fill a stocking that smells like skunk!"

There is a quiz for kids to take on Auntie Claus' website to see if they are on the B-B-and-G list! Here is the link : Bad Boys and Girls List.

The second book is called "The Legend of Papa Noel - A Cajun Christmas Story" written by Terri Hoover Dunham and illustrated by Laura Knorr. This is one that I chose because of the title and because there were alligators on the cover, and it just sounded like a fun story. I ended up having so much fun reading it aloud...even Fairy pointed it out to me in the middle of the story, saying "Mom, you are just loving this one, aren't you?". She was right! It was fun mixing all the french words in the story, and the Cajun way of saying things, and you couldn't help but smile at the fact that Papa Noel had alligators (with French names) instead of reindeer and went up the Mississippi River to deliver gifts!

Here was one of my favourite parts (the kids did like it too, by the way!):

"Then quicker than a snake shimmies down the river, they got themselves to the first Cajun house. And Papa Noel and his gators could see that the Reveillion feast was through 'cause them lanterns had done been snuffed out. So, they started delivering all them toys to the good little Cajun boys and girls."

Game Night

We don't have a designated game night, but it happens regularly at our house. This time I grabbed my camera, and took a few fun pictures (in b&w).
I love how I can see the personalities of my kids coming through these pictures. Playing board games always bring out the best (or worst) in my kids! Princess is all about the fun all the time, she is always full of smiles and funny faces, Fairy is pretty quiet, but has fun too, and Dragon takes the game very seriously...especially if he's losing!

Saturday, 15 November 2008


I am trying to keep quiet...need to talk about Christmas presents. For Fairy in particular. She has been asking for a digital camera for almost a year now, and we will be trying to get her one for this Christmas.
I was thinking, that maybe some of you wonderful visitors might have some suggestions for me...She is 11, and usually very careful with her things, but we can't spend too much either.
She likes to use mine (Sony DSC-H2), but I think it's a bit too bulky for a young person. If she wants to take her camera along on a field trip for example, it would be nice to have one she can just tuck in her pocket...
Please leave a comment if you have a suggestion, thank you!

Friday, 14 November 2008

Geography Awareness Week ~ Next week!

I just received this from National Geographic and thought it would be a perfect afterschool project. There is a free activity guide to download and I especially like how they have assigned a topic for each day. Monday is Human Geography/Cultures, Tuesday is Physical/Environment, Wednesday is for Geotechnologies, Thursday is for Global HotSpots, and Friday is for Careers. Each section has some virtually activities (some use GoogleEarth, which we always have fun with here), games, quizzes, and ideas of activities that you can do in your community.
Follow this link to access My Wonderful World - Geography Awareness Week. Make sure to click "expand more" under each day/topic, the activities are listed there!

Procrastination...Reflections in b&w

Even though my NaNoWriMo word count is growing every day, I still find myself doing lots of other things...some might call it procrastination, some might just call it getting stuff done!
I think winter is finally making an appearance here, without the snow, but with the grey sky, the rain, and the colder winds. I haven't been feeling myself these last few days, and this morning I think I realized it is probably due to the weather. It is just blah!
On my to-do list was cleaning up the bookshelves, with the kids attending public school this year, we don't need as many of the books available all the time. We are still doing a little bit of afterschooling, and I knew I wanted to keep reference type books up here too, but a lot could be packed away for now, or moved to the basement. I found myself feeling sad this morning as I was sorting through all the curriculum, books, and projects that just might not happen this year. I know that some will get used, but it was still difficult to "say goodbye" to a good amount of those books. As much as everyone is doing well in the public school system, and I am so grateful for that, part of me will still be missing homeschooling, and no amount of afterschooling will replace that, I don't think.
Anyway, I hadn't planned on pouring my heart out like this, but I did want to share my messy picture from this morning, and what kept me from spending time with my NaNo writing!

The kids had a Wacky Hair Day at school today, they had a lot of fun deciding how they would do their hair this morning. Dragon can't stand having his hair spiked up, I lost track of how many times I have told him in the past that he should try it. No. He is the type to want his hair flat on top of his head! Anyway, he told me that we could try to spike up his hair for Wacky Hair's a little too short, but he was laughing the whole time. He said he looked like he had been electrocuted!

p.s. the pictures are in b&w, trying to keep up with my other November challenge. You can see more b&w pics at Sprintree Road.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Almost at the half way point!

Tonight I passed my first 20,000 words! I was worried I might get behind a little after this past weekend, since I only was able to write quick notes Saturday night in our hotel room's bathroom while everyone else was sleeping and early Sunday morning in the hotel's lobby, but I caught up yesterday and today and went from 10,455 words on friday to 20,127 tonight! My fingers are a little sore...but I am still enjoying the whole process. I never thought I would like it this much, but it has been quite an experience to use my imagination and creativity in this way.

Lest we forget

Monday, 10 November 2008

Book Sharing Sunday

Sorry I am late...we were away this weekend to celebrate Christmas early with my in-laws. We had a wonderful time in Michigan, all 25 of us!
Here is a small sample of what we have been reading aloud this past week. It has been great fun and the kids have laughed quite a bit.

"He scowled as he ate his stale toast each morning, and he whimpered into his unheated canned soup at lunch. Each evening he dropped tears onto the pizza that was delivered to his porch by prearrangement, and each night he went to bed between his unwashed sheets and sobbed into his stained pillow. His mustache, once bristly and important-looking, was now dingy from grime and stiff from dried-up nose drippings."
from "The Willoughbys" by Lois Lowry.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Hope and Change

I do not follow politics enough to feel that I can comment on what happened yesterday. But I know what I feel, hope and change, and a feeling so great that I was able to witness history as the first African-American was elected president of the United States. Maya Angelou was a guest on one of the channels that I was watching early this morning, and recited this poem. I thought it was so fitting. I wish the best to my neighbours.

Tuesday, 4 November 2008

When did that happen?

Princess came back from school today with the proofs of her school picture. I really don't know how the photographers manage to get the kids to give them such cheesy smiles. Fairy and Dragon were just as forced looking, lol. Anyway, my post wasn't about the quality of the photography, but to comment on my reaction when I first looked at her pictures. I thought she looked so much older...when did that happen? Our baby is not a baby anymore!
I had a harder time than the kids, adjusting to the three of them starting school. One of my cousins put it so clearly. She said, of course you would have a hard time, it's not just one kid that started school, like most parents have to deal with (unless you have twins, or triplets...) but all three children started at the same time. It's a big void!
One month later, though, I am happy to report that I am doing much better. And after giving this month for the children to adjust to their new routine, we have started adding some before and after school "stuff". Fairy does her Growing with Grammar in the morning, while Dragon does his Singapore Math. In the afternoon, when they come back, after a snack and some playtime, we planned a different subject for each day of the week. Subjects that they chose, World History, Canadian History, Pet Store Math, and Art.

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Book Sharing Sunday

I am still reading and enjoying Eldest, just a little slower than usual in my reading...I thought I would share this with you tonight.

"They would stop and huddle underneath a tree until the storm abated, but even then water cached in the myriad branches would, at the slightest provocation, shower them with droplets for hours afterward." Eldest, Christopher Paolini.

Black & White November

I am feeling a push towards being creative this month, so I thought I would join this photography project by Springtreeroad. I made the switch on my digital camera, so every picture that I take this month will be in black & white. I started right away by snapping a picture of Fairy's cat, Clara...

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Novel writing challenge starts today!

I had decided to stay up last night until midnight to start NaNoWriMo, but I didn't make it...I ran in the afternoon, my longest distance so far (12km) and was too tired to make it past 10pm!

This morning, after answering countless times "no, you can't have candy for breakfast", I found a little bit of time to myself. I did give in to the candy after their breakfast! The kids had a few friends over, so I wasn't sure how that would go but I sat down at the computer, looked over my ideas that I had written out in October, and started typing. I had noticed that I could do a word count on the word processor I am using. So after a while, curiosity got the better of me and I clicked on word count...2437 words! Wow! It didn't seem that bad!

Then after lunch, the kids asked to go and play outside with their friends...geez...that was a tough decision! Yes! Go ahead! They need to work out all that sugar anyway, and it's a beautiful day. And I need to take these moments when they back to my desk I went and now my word count is at 4254!
One thing I found interesting is that even though I had a rough idea of the story I was creating, putting the words on paper has changed the story along the way a little bit, and that is what I find interesting, seeing the story unfold right before my eyes. It is only the first day, but I am really enjoying this. I will let you know if I still feel the same way by the end of the month!


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