Monday, 28 April 2008
I developed a strong opinion about homework and grades when Jill was in Grade 3. Her teacher that year had some health challenges that caused her to miss school often and sometimes for long periods of time. I think because of that she would plan some things for subs to carry out that were quite straight forward....namely lots of worksheets and booklets. Trouble was they didn't always get finished and as a result we were presented with long lists of homework that we suddenly became responsible for. After realizing the low educational value of most of the items on the list I didn't make Jill do it. The whole experience was interesting. It was interesting to talk to other parent's who were enduring evenings of tears and fighting over homework. It was interesting to have them call me to find out if Jill had hoards of homework and if we were making her stay home from the sleepover. It was interesting to see Jill's concern that she'd get a bad mark on her report card. Sure enough, she did. She got a lower mark for completing assignments on her last report card of the year. But what did the lower grade really tell us? It certainly didn't mean she was an irresponsible student or lazy or not clever enough for her grade. So really, what was the value of the grade? In my mind, not much.
All this brings me back to the idea of how important it is for parents not to blindly hand over their children to schools while they tell themselves that the teachers will take care of educating their child. To me part of educating is learning to prioritize, to be engaged in learning (mostly accomplished by focusing on what you're really interested in) and to spend time in introspection and self-evaluation. Really, the moments spent doing that are of much more value than a report card that a teacher produces 3 or 4 times a year.
All this has got me to thinking that I need to be tracking progress and measuring results...but I'm not just sure what to track or measure just yet. I think I'll start two pages in my notebook though. One will say: Jill. The other will say: Peirce. I'll do some thinking about what I might write on those pages.
Sunday, 27 April 2008
Today Peirce gave his first talk. I take all the blame on it being just okay (or at least in my mind I figured it was just okay going into it). We should have worked on it all week. I thought about it...but that's as far as I got. I had a great idea: I thought he could talk about President Monson and the things he taught us at Conference. He said no. He wanted to talk about the 10 Commandments. I tried to persuade him to use my great idea. But no. He was sure he wanted to talk about the 10 Commandments. Finally I stopped running down the road I had planned to travel and tried to come up with something equally as interesting and worthwhile and educational for him to work on. Somehow it just wasn't coming to me. Finally Peirce said to me that he just wanted to tell them to 10 Commandments.
Okay fine. That's what we'll do.
And you know, it worked great! First he explained that Moses was a prophet and he gave us the 10 Commandments....and then he listed the 10 commandments. Last he bore his sweet testimony. We talked about it before hand. I told him one of the great things about giving a talk is that you get to share your testimony. He said he really didn't have one of those. So I asked him if there were things he believed....and he started to list them...so we drew a picture for each one and had his testimony down pat! Funny thing it was all the things a testimony is supposed to be....and he didn't even really have to be taught that. It was beautiful.
And the strangest thing about it all was how quiet the room got when he started talking. They all really listened.
I guess I have to re-learn again and again how important it is for kids to take the lead. It all works out when we do it that way. In the end I think it turned out great. I felt SO proud of him!
In Sacrament Meeting today we had talks on 'Be Still' (which was a great message, I thought!) And on the importance of temple work. The message 'go to the temple' was repeated a number of times. At the end of the last talk the speaker said she had a quiz for us all and wanted to know what one line we remembered from her talk. Everyone just sat there of course, since it's quiet untraditional for audience participation in Sacrament Meeting. Finally Jill put up her hand and after being acknowledged said, "Go to the temple."
Maybe I'm just a big suck....but it made me want to cry! I was so proud of her that she was listening and could answer the question. She's a good girl.
During the meetings today I got to hold one of the foster-babies that Heidi has. He is a little boy only 4 weeks old. He weighs about 5 pounds. He was so darling. I could have just burst out crying at any moment the whole time I had him. To think that this poor little boy's mother can't look after him (I have no idea what the mother's situation is) just breaks my heart. I just wanted to hold him forever and ensure that he feels safe and knows someone cares about him. While I was holding him Allen asked if I "wanted one of those". I told him I want two. (I know....always pushing the envelope!) :0)
Friday, 25 April 2008
I believe it.
I was prompted to write this post after hearing "I LOVE the dictionary". Jill is reading something in the kitchen and decided to look up some words she didn't understand. (I love it when she does that!)
The other day Jill and I went to Wal-Mart. She saw a sign that said if you buy a certain kind of chocolate bar you'd get a spa vacation. I tried to explain to her that buying a chocolate bar wouldn't get us a spa vacation...but she was pretty sure it would. So we bought the chocolate bar (turned out I was right....but that's a story for another post) Since there was no spa vacation in sight we decided to go ahead and eat the chocolate bar...caramilk...four little cups worth. Yum! We each ate one and then Jill started to read the nutrition facts on the package....the light went on. She couldn't believe the percentage of nothing that was good for you was so high in that little package. She read and calculated and alarmingly discussed what the make up of the chocolate bar was. When we got home she hurried to the computer and looked up the nutrition facts of other food. She got on a real roll when she looked up McDonald's food. Now she was really alarmed! So she got some paper and did a comparison of a homemade sandwich versus a Big Mac. She drew circles and wrote info in the circles. The circles intersected and inside the intersected parts she wrote down things that were similar between a McDonald's sandwich and a homemade sandiwch...I don't think we'll ever need to go to McDonald's again. Even Peirce was wailing after Jill explained to him how terrible a Big Mac is for you (she's a good teacher!) Soon she found herself on the computer looking up information about McDonald's: how much they serve, how much they make, how much meat they use in a year, how much fruit, etc. She probably spent 3 hours on all that....reading, writing, researching.
If I had assigned her the same topic, believe me, she could have been finished in, um......about 7 minutes max.
Thursday, 24 April 2008
It's always so much fun to dig into the presents!!
I love the look on his face here.
Oh. Clothes. Rats.
We made a rice-krispie cake!
Peirce picked the squiggly candles. We thought they were really cool!
At school they get to bring a treat to share with the rest of the class when it's their birthday.
We made fruit-kabobs!
Wednesday, 23 April 2008
I assumed she wasn't referring to my daughter. To me it's just a funny comment...especially when it comes from people that know our daughter. She's VERY social and I am clearly biased, but I think her skills are better than most children her age.
Her little brother is still in the school she was in previously. He attends afternoon kindergarten and so when I take him to school she can come along and see her friends. At first it was really important to her that we get there early enough for her to have plenty of socializing time. I noticed lately that she doesn't always want to come with us now and sometimes when she does she stays in the van and reads or just waits for me while I walk her brother to the door to line up.
I asked her about it the other day. Her response was interesting. I said to her, "I noticed you don't seem as interested in playing with your friends every day anymore. How come?"
She looked up from her book and wrinkled up her forhead and said, "Hmmm....you're right. I don't know why!"
I guess she did some thinking about it because later she came to me and said that she doesn't care so much now because she realized that she really wasn't missing anything. She talks to her friends on the phone often and also arranges play dates when she wants to. And there are really only a couple girls that she ever was interested in doing that with much anyway.
The comment that I silently celebrated was when she said that she used to really care about what her friends think and say and do and like. She said she worried about that a lot but that she doesn't worry about it so much anymore. She's still likes and cares about her friends ...but, and she put it, she's much more comfortable with herself.
If nothing else is gained from our stint at homeschooling, that will be enough for me!! I'm thrilled to have a child who seems to have recognized peer pressure for what it is.
Tuesday, 22 April 2008
I'm sad to say that tonight was our last meeting for the parent-child book club that Jill and I joined. I'd totally recommend parent-child book clubs! It was a lot of fun to read books together and discuss them with each other and with other parents and kids that enjoy reading too.
The Shakespeare Stealer is a story of an orphan boy who is taken in by a doctor that teaches him to write shorthand. Someone comes along and buys him because of his skill. It ends up that his new master wants him to steal a Shakespeare play. There are lots of twists and turns as he goes about the job he's been given.
I felt like this was one of the best books to suit a parent-child book club. It was kind of like those kid's movies these days that have jokes parents enjoy that the kid's don't always have reference for, but the kids still love them too. There was plenty to enjoy for kids and adults in this book. Loved it! Apparently it's a trilogy and I just might go find books two and three!
Saturday, 19 April 2008
This is the 'behind the scenes'
And here's our story, in case you're really into reading a long post (we won't be offended if you don't)
We'll also be performing the story of The Rat at kindergarten this week. :0)
Here's the story (slightly edited by Jill):
Sometimes for Family Home Evening we read family history stories.
This is one of our favorites. It’s called The Rat. The story took place when my grandparents lived in Waterton about 8 years ago.
My Papa used to be the manager of the Prince of Wales hotel. It’s the big hotel you see when you first drive into Waterton. They lived in a little house that was down the hill from the hotel.
One day my Grandma was walking from the living room to the kitchen when out of the corner of her eye she noticed something moving behind the fridge. She took a closer look and there peering back at her were two beady little eyes. She screamed to Papa, “There is something under the fridge. And it isn’t a mouse!” He came to have a look and confirmed my Grandma’s worst fears….it was a rat!
They turned the fridge around and opened the back door so he could go outside. He came out but he didn’t know where to go. Probably their screaming didn’t help much either. The rat went and hid under the fridge.
Next they moved the fridge right up to the door into the back entry. It filled the doorway so Mr. Rat had only one way to go – out the door to the great outdoors. Grandma was in the kitchen armed with a broomstick to stick under the fridge to encourage Mr. Rat to leave. Papa was in the back entrance armed with a broom that was to steer Mr. Rat in the right direction.
Mr. Rat came out from under the fridge like a good little rat. Only he didn’t know where to go and he started to climb up the broom towards my Papa.
We had no idea that Papa could scream like a girl – but scream he did. And he threw the rat and the broom out the door.
(Peirce throws the broom)
Grandma and Papa felt much better…but not for long. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that if he came into the house once he could get in again. They went to bed that night but sleep did not come easily. Papa got up in the night to patrol and after pacing the floor for a while, fell asleep on the couch. Grandma was asleep too….but suddenly at 5:30 she was instantly awake. As she lay in her bed the rat ran across the bed, over the bedside table and down behind the bed.
My Grandma screamed
and shot out of the bedroom into the living room.
(Grandma and Papa jump and scream)
Luckily she had closed the bedroom door when she came out. The rat was trapped in there and he was FREAKED. He knocked pictures off the wall, flowers off the window valances, bottles of lotion and perfume and books off shelves.
My Grandma swore she would never sleep in that house again until she knew Mr. Rat was dead.
They made a plan.
They talked to the warden. He said they had to use a live trap because in national parks you can’t kill animals. Only the live traps were all being used by people with similar problems.
They called the maintenance men from the hotel. They were no help.
So they went to Pincher Creek and waited for the stores to open. The farmer’s co-op had a trap but it was so small she figured the rat would just look at it, laugh, and toss it aside.
(rat laughs and tosses trap)
In the hardware store they found some BIG gopher traps and bought those.
They got some peanut butter Set up the traps…. and waited.
After a while Grandma decided to go inspect the traps. VICTORY AT LAST!! There he was: dead as a doorknob.
Grandma put on some of those Grandma rubber gloves, picked up the rat and the trap, and dumped them both into a garbage bag. She took a minute to examine the creepy little critter. Now that he was securely clenched in the jagged jaws of the gopher trap she was much braver. He was about 8 or 9 inches long. His fur was mostly white. His tail, which was another 8 or 9 inches long, looked like a bottlebrush. His feet were tiny, about an inch long, but attached were the most ferocious looking, three quarter of an inch long, needle sharp claws you’ve ever seen. No wonder he could climb walls!
Grandma ceremoniously dumped him, trap and all, into the garbage bag and tightly sealed the top. She then delivered the whole package to the town garbage disposal down the street.
My grandma is a clean FREAK….so next she had to clean absolutely everything in her house with bleach. After several hours of sterilizing her home the phone rang. It was the warden asking how things were going with Mr. Rat.
Gleefully Grandma reported, “I got him!”
The warden said,
(Dad) “Good. Do you need us to come get him?”
(Mom) “No”(Dad) ”I thought you said you got him.”
(Mom) “I did.”(Dad) ”Where is he?”
(Mom) “In the garbage.”
(Dad) “You put him in there alive?!”(Mom) ”No he’s dead.”
(Mom) “You killed him?!”(Jill) Then in the book where my Grandma wrote down the story it says she altered her response in order to make it readable for her grandchildren. Whatever that means….
(Mom) “You’re darned tootins’”
(Jill) My Grandma really loved Waterton….but she had some CRAZY experiences with animals there. She said Mr. Rat was the straw that broke the camels back.
She says she loves Waterton…..but she still never sleeps there.
Friday, 18 April 2008
I think I'll start my class off with this! LOL
Thursday, 17 April 2008
It's all made worse by my neighbors who are VERY GOOD at yard work. For years we've lived between two older couples who clearly have had a lot of practise and have a more mature appreciation of a nice yard. Recently one of them retired and spends even more time on his yard. As I type he is mowing his lawn. Argh!! The pressure!! The season can't be starting already, can it?!
Luckily the neighbors on the other side moved and a young couple moved in. I'm pretty sure they'll bring less pressure on the yard issue. I've already noticed that it may take them a day or two to get their garbage cans put away after garbage day. I like that kind of irresponsiblity in a neighbor. Helps me feel a little better about myself anyway. :0)
....maybe I'll go rake and put some toys away that are hanging around in the yard....maybe....
Wednesday, 16 April 2008
Well, today as we walked home we had the most interesting conversation. I always try to get a little info on what happened that day. I do just like the teachers say to do...creative questioning. Today we had the most interesting conversation.
M: So Peirce, how was kindergarten today?
M: Learn any new French words?
M: What center did you go to today?
P: mmmmm...craft center....but you know what mom? Today we killed a bird.
M: You did? Why did you do that?
P: Well, we wanted to study it...so we killed it and drained out all his blood. Then we put his heart in a cup and looked at it. Then we put is brains in a bowl and poked them. It was really cool.
M: Did it make a mess?
P: Yes. Madam was not very happy about that.
M: Why'd you have to kill the bird?
P: Oh mom! Never mind.
Hmmmmmmmmmm......sometimes I wonder if we should get on a group plan that includes a psychotherapist.
I love this book! Best dinosaur book I've read in a long time! Peirce and I read it last night. After we were finished he wants to go get some donuts to see if we might get a dinosaur too. :0)
The main character dreads going on errands with his mom (and I'm sure his mom dreads bringing him too!) But on this day instead of the token lollipops or stickers that they give kids they're handing out dinosaurs. REAL ones!
I had to giggle as I read because it represented SO well not just how kids would feel about something crazy like this, but mom's too. The pictures are hilarious and it's just a plain fun book. My favorite page has got to be the first page where the mother is combing the boy's crazy hair and he is clearly unhappy at his miserable existance.
I think I might go buy multiple copies to give away as gifts. :0) (Oh wait....not everyone likes books for gifts....ah who cares. I think it's great!)
Don't get me wrong. I do believe in conserving and recycling and being kind to the planet....I just don't think Kyoto is the answer. I think though they're doing a great job of creating a make-work project where those with money can buy credits and make themselves look good while not really making any changes. It also seems to be a factor in the higher inflation rate we've seen and will continue to see on food staples. What an interesting world we live in!
I thought this video was hilarious....and a great example of the trouble with alarmists.
Here's another one:
Tuesday, 15 April 2008
I've noticed something interesting. I can't say that the stories in The Friend have always struck me as being extremely well-written. However, they sure seem to keep my kid's attention. Today we read a story about a girl who had typical problems with her big brother (he'd boss her around and make her do stuff for him) but one day at school he comes to her rescue when some kids are picking on her. Peirce wanted me to read it again and again (I really wasn't interested in reading it again). We had quite an interesting conversation, mostly initiated by him, about the story.
I was thinking about it later and I wondered if the reason they are so captivated by these stories actually doesn't have that much to do with the stories, but the spirit they feel when we read and discuss them.
Saturday, 12 April 2008
Friday, 11 April 2008
At the end of the day Jaret gave Jill a poster and autographed it. He signed it to 'the future super star'. She was more than thrilled!
What a great day!
Thursday, 10 April 2008
Don't worry about us though. By Sunday it's supposed to get up to 20 degrees (???!!!!)
I thought to myself that perhaps we had a similar crazy weather story last year. I was right...only it was in May!
Wednesday, 9 April 2008
Makes me think of the scripture....D&C 104:17 that says....For the earth is full, and there is enough and to spare; yea, I prepared all things, and have given unto the children of men to be agents unto themselves.
There is enough....but it's just not getting to everyone. When I think of the waste that goes on in our culture I feel embarrassed. Just yesterday I was dropping my son off at school. I walked by a garbage can full of fruit with one bite taken out of it, granola bars tossed in, sandwiches that kids had eaten around the crust and then thrown away….we certainly are a wasteful society. That doesn't even get into the gluttony in restaurants and the waste that goes on there...and that's just with food....then there's the topic of money and how we use it unwisely.
I think I'll take some time today to make a list of what we'll do this month to add to our food storage.
Tuesday, 8 April 2008
Monday, 7 April 2008
Later, at lunch, Peirce said to me, "Mom, remember when they put Destiny in the ground? Well, we were playing that because I wanted to find out what it was like for her."
For a long time Peirce has wanted to pretend he was in a coffin and mostly I don't oblige and just change the topic. I guess it was just something he needed to do so he could see what it might be like to be in the ground like that. Funny how he's just persisted in needing to do that. I'm glad he found an avenue. I really didn't want to play that with him.
I wish I could see in his little mind to find out what he was thinking about all this. I've read that grief is a physical experience especially for younger children. Movement and active play yield communication.
It touches my heart that he still thinks about it all and is learning, through play, to understand. We're all learning to understand it I guess.
We had four pink roses, and a white rose for Destiny. The two bears were ones that Peirce and Jill wanted to give to Destiny. They were buried them with her. I'll never forget Allen carrying that little casket from the funeral director's car to the grave. It was so small, and so beautiful.
Friday, 4 April 2008
Peirce in the classroom learning about birds, their eggs, and the lifecycle of birds. The classroom is in a house that is on the bird sanctuary's land. The house is 100 years old. It's really beautiful! There was a presentation about birds. We learned about different kinds of birds and the nests they build and got to see examples of a number of the nests. She also had examples of eggs for each kind of bird.
A day of kindergarten is never complete without a little time for snack!
We went for a walk and looked for the birds and nests that we learned about in the presentation. I was amazed at all the interesting things we saw!
It was a fun and exhausting morning!
When we were leaving we were entertained by a little gopher that we saw. He kept running under the bus. Peirce figured he must be Ralph S Mouse's cousin. He must have heard how fun school was for Ralph S Mouse and tried to join us for the ride back...but the bus driver closed the door. Darn!
Wednesday, 2 April 2008
She was able to compact molecules in her suitcase - and they steal The Calgary Stampede and put the whole thing in there!
The Mad Scientist and her criminal friends.
The final bow.
Pretty much the entire cast.