Reflections of Easter Weekend

Easter weekend has come and gone and unlike the busy Easter weekends of the past this year found us enjoying a more-laid-back-just-the-four-of-us kind of Easter and it was really fantastic.  I’m sure most of my readers by now know that I am a working mom and the bulk of my hours are in the late afternoon through the late evening and this works for me because it allows me most of the benefits of being a stay at home mom without actually being a stay at home mom (more of that will be talked about in a post soon)…..the con of my job is that I work about 50% of the weekends through the year and if they fall on a holiday I am for the most part stuck working the holiday…..so I wasn’t surprised when it was my lot this year to work the Saturday and Sunday of the Easter weekend.  I was lucky enough to have Good Friday and Easter Monday off to celebrate with family and friends if need be and of course I didn’t start work until 230 in the afternoon on Easter Sunday so I had all morning to celebrate.

We chose to have a quiet Easter morning with just the four of us and it was really nice!  Jacob needed some new sporting equipment for his T-Ball team so we incorporated it into the kids Easter gifts and got Violet a few things also so while it looked like the kids were being “spoiled” for Easter it was in fact things we needed and would have purchased regardless of the holiday.  Everyone has their own interpretation of what is an appropriate holiday gift and for me I always intended to get my children one outfit, some treats, one video, a small toy, and a book – this year it just got switched up a little because we needed the sporting equipment.  I don’t ever feel bad for the way we do the holidays here as I don’t often if ever buy my kids toys in between their birthdays and holidays and since Violet’s birthday is right next to Christmas we often look for excuses to buy her some things to change and grow with her at the half-year mark – Easter seems like a good time for a new puzzle or a new book.

The kids worked together to hunt for eggs on Easter morning and spent time enjoying the new sporting equipment on a family trip to the park on Easter Monday – we finished the day off with a nice ham dinner….today I am feeling the exhaustion of the holiday combined with working long hours but I press forward and continue to do whatever it is that I do to get through the heavy work/mother schedule combination – had my one day off and now today it is back to work for me!  I had so much fun with the kids decorating eggs, baking cookies, hunting for eggs, and kicking around the soccer ball….best of all this Easter weekend we saw some pretty nice temperatures which was the first sign that maybe spring really is here?

 

Early French Immersion: Our Pros & Cons

Parenting is never without its difficult decisions and for the most part I feel like I have handled them with ease and tact and things have always flowed quite well for us in that matter…but there is one decision that is weigh in heavily on me and it is hard for me to wrap my head around what the right thing to do is.  When Jacob first started school I had every intention of putting him into the French Immersion program in the September of the year he turned 5 years old….well guess what snuck up on me – the boy is turning 5 in June.  We went to the various orientation sessions and have learned everything possible about the early immersion program and quite frankly we are faced with an inability to make a decision.  We have gone back and forth on this decision for the past nearly 6 months and now we are hit head on with a deadline to decide…Tuesday. I sent out a public cry for help on my Facebook page a few days ago seeking out the opinions of other people and I guess this is my second cry for help including the much anticipated list of pros and cons that we have thought about as we decide. I ask my readers to thoughtful consider these lists and chime in by leaving a comment on this blog post to tell me your gut instinct.

In keeping with a spirit of optimism let me start by the list of PRO-IMMERSION ideas:

If he was successful and completed all of the required hours of learning through primary, middle, and secondary schooling he would be considered bilingual and a second language may come in handy for a future career choice….in addition French is the joint national language of Canada along side its familiar English counter part.

This is the year he would need to enter – you can always enter and withdraw from the program but once you are out you can not get back in if you “change your mind”…you can not enter the early immersion program without starting in SK.  Teachers can decide at any time that your child is “not right” for french immersion and your child would slip back into the English language learning program (this cold also be a con – see below) so it is great that they are not stringing struggling children along.

Bilingualism has been show to have a positive effect on cognitive skills.

Bilingualism helps makes 3rd or 4th language acquisitions easier (as long as the alphabets are the same).

Jacob has advanced skills in English and Mathematics and is currently reading at a grade 2-3 level and completing math at a grade 1-2 level when he is just 4 years old….I worry about boredom causing behaviour problems at some point and wonder if the french immersion program would keep him interested as it is all new to him.

And finally the CONS of FRENCH IMMERSION  (from our point of view)

The move into the french immersion program would mean a move to a new school – at this new school he would have to be bused and the bus does not pick up directly at our home – it is at a centralized location about four blocks from our house…his current school is pretty much directly across the street from our home.

If he remained at his current school he would have the same teacher again next year who he loves and whom we also appreciate and respect greatly. His new school would only have  half day of classes where as his old school would start being full day as of next year.

It is very common for Early Immersion students to show a lag in their English literacy and writing abilities during the primary years. (although some research suggests that they do eventually catch up).

There is a large criticism that students do not in fact become completely fluent and that their structure of the language suffers in the area of grammar and problems in their speech pronunciation.

The french immersion program is often referred to as an “elite” program due to the fact that most students registered in it are from a higher social class – due in large part to the over-achieving parent syndrome I think.

The instruction is entirely in french from kindergarten straight through until the start of grade 4.  My work hours will not always permit me to be home to assist with homework and my husband has zero ability to assist with french learning.

Where he is quite ahead academically I feel he makes up for this with a slight lag in social skills – although his teacher says he is “on par” in regards to his peer group – it is painfully obvious to me that Jacob is not interested in typical childhood activities with the other kids in the school yard… due in large part to his obsession with phonics, letters, and math.  I recall my own experience with french immersion and at that time the immersion kiddies were considered “social outcasts” – I’m not sure what the idea is at this time.

I wonder if I am over-obsessing about him being bored in class – would it be a mistake to take him out of a place where he is confident and successful academically and press him to be challenged – am I being one of those over-achieving parents that I never wanted to be?  Kids have so much pressure and stress these days – it’s a known fact that childhood anxiety disorders are on the rise because parents are placing too many expectations on their children.

If he got pulled out of the program at any point he would have to restart back into a new school with new classmates that he didn’t know and this could happen at any point along the way.

I’m sure more things will come to mind after I am done posting this but I would at this time be curious to think what you would do if this was your decision?!  Would you take the leap?  Would you leave well enough alone?  Don’t fix what is not broken?  Would you go for the challenge?  What would you do if it was your child?

 

 

Just Like Forrest Gump

Just like Forrest Gump….

The guy we call Daddy around our house started running!  He started running and then he ran and he ran and he ran……he lost 50 pounds because of it and then he ran some more…until just after Christmas time when he twisted his knee while out on a run…and then he just — stopped.  I started to realize in the nearly two months that Mike was not running just how much he truly wanted to be out there running and it was obvious how discouraged and down in the dumps he would get every time he would try to run only to get pain in his knee all over again. With some advice from a another fellow runner in the family Mike was eventually able to make his slow start to running again in March and today we saw him compete in his first race ever.

Today the whole family headed out to High Park to support Daddy and Papa at Harry’s Spring Run-Off where they were racing in the 5K run to raise money for prostate cancer.  We took the subway to the park because we were just not willing to fight for a parking spot with the other over 5000 people attending the race!

When we arrived at the race it was fun to see the kids experiencing the crowd and I felt the surge of excitement for Mike as we all crossed into the park and were suddenly into the atmosphere of the race location!  We walked Daddy and Papa as far as we could towards the start line and snapped a couple of pictures before they were off to the corrals.

Daddy and Papa ready to run!

Our little family – all present to support and cheer on Daddy!

Nana was there to cheer the Men on too!

One last hug before Daddy is off to the start line!

While Daddy and Papa were waiting for the race to start we all enjoyed some of the atmosphere including the park and free bananas, apples and bagels!

We finally moved to the finish line where we were joined by Nan who had travelled independently to the park to see her son race in his first race!  I found a nice place for us all to wait and at one point Daddy and Papa ran past us while Nana and Jacob were getting some snacks so Violet and I cheered and waved and it was so cute to hear her yell out “GO DADDY GO!!”  and “GO PAPA GO!!”.  Papa was the first one to cross the finish line with a time of just over 27 minutes (a personal best for Papa who has run a couple of runs before) and Daddy was not too far behind him coming across the finish line in just over 29 minutes.  I knew in my gut that Daddy had wanted to finish in under 28 minutes but to be fair (and he knew this) he had only been running again for a couple of weeks and at that point had not yet run a 5K in under 30 since before his injury – so it was a victorious day all around….Daddy’s chip time was 29:34 and the time on his run keeper stats was 29: 25….we of course cheered like crazy as they both passed the finish line!

We were all so proud and excited for both of them and Jacob enjoyed a little of Daddy’s gatorade after the race!

Now Daddy continues to train for his upcoming half marathon on May 15th but before that him and Papa will have to conquer the Sporting Life Toronto 10K Run for Kids with Cancer on May 1st!  We will of course be there in full support despite the crowd of 15, 000 runners!  Eek!

 

Diaper Freedom?!

Last week I decided that I was going to give house breaking potty training my 2-year-old daughter a try.  I’m not quite sure yet what came over me but I saw a flicker of interest in her actions and decided that I was just going to give it a shot.  I had originally planned on starting it several days prior but the death of my Aunt prevented my focus from being present and so we put the potty training on hold until the day after the funeral.  I potty trained my son when he was nearly 3 years old and I recalled it being an experience that I didn’t ever hope to relive but in the end I used the same approaches that I used with him but this time I had a whole lot more patience and an understanding that once we started we just were not going to go backward easily.

You should probably know that I don’t often like to set my children up for failure and because of my obsession with this I was nervous to potty train the little one at a whole year younger than my son.  I was only just beginning to grieve the death of my aunt and my recent diagnosis of pneumonia compounded my fears that this may not be a good time to start but what can I say about myself…

I

Am

Stubborn.

It’s really a true statement!  When I set my mind on something I can for the most part stick to my focus until the task is completed.  So I decided to take a casual approach to potty training and just see how it went. I started on a Thursday morning by bringing out the potty and setting up Violet’s toilet seat on the big toilet…complete with step stool to make it easy for her to haul her hiney up and do her business.  It didn’t take very long before I (sitting across the room) heard the sound of tinkling pee on my hardwood floor and looked up just as my buck naked 2 year old proclaimed “OH MAN!!”.  We did the whole song and dance about how pee pee goes in the toilet and she sat on her potty and looked at me like I had literally just stood on my head and played the harmonica by blowing air out of my nose.  We have a way of understanding each other….theres something about this little bundle of 2-year-old diva emotion that just reminds me so much of myself and in that moment with her staring back at me and my knowledge that she thought I was a crazy mo-fo….we connected and we both silently thought “we got this”.

The week that followed that very first day had its share of ups and down but mostly I can confidently say that there were way more ups than downs and that unlike when I potty trained my son there were no tears shed.  Sure it wasn’t so nice the time she leaped up excited from the toilet with poop still hanging from her butt to grab a book to read (she surely gets that little tidbit from her father)….I spent a good 20 minutes cleaning up her poop footprints and didn’t realize I had actually sat in poop until I was on my way to pick up my son from Kindergarten!  Eek!  It wasn’t the highlight of my day when I had to clean and scrub my upstairs carpet because she got so deeply distracted by her playing that she went pee on the carpet –  but the thing about me is that I’m ok with messes – even BIG messes if it means that the kids are learning something and things are moving in the right direction…when I first had Jacob…messes scared me… but now I love messes because messes mean things are happening even if I have to clean them up afterward.

It has been exactly 1 week and 1 full day since we first began our adventure in toilet-land and so far the little lady and I have worked hard to get through it.  We have managed to get every single poop into the potty and about 90% of her awake time pee is making it into the potty or toilet – this is BIG news people – BIG news!!  We have managed to go out and about without having pee accidents and today we did not have one but TWO pee’s in the Walmart washroom!  Zing zang…It’s exciting but I don’t want to celebrate just yet because there is still some progress to be made…but holy cow batman we just might have done this!  Maybe?  Whether my daughter is officially potty trained or not there is one thing I can say for sure…

I certainly have had loads of funny sitting on the floor singing songs, reading books, and acting like a goofball while I waited for her to do her business – there’s a silver lining in every cloud right?