Sunday, September 28, 2008

20 years ago

I'm teaching 2 grade 7/8 classes music this year. It's actually a lot of fun. We have a new grade 7 program and text that we're following that both I and the students enjoy (Spotlight on Music 7). The intoductory chapter is all about music through the generations. It explains what generations are and how music identifies with certain generations as well as music that is considered timeless.
So I posed the question: 20 years from now you'll all be in your early 30's what is the music that you all will hear and say, that was THE song?
-I'll be so old, one girl said (I'm exactly 20 years older than these kids)
So here I am 20 years later, looking back.
According to Billboard, the top 5 albums of 1988 were:
1. Faith by George Michael
2. Need You Tonight by INXS
3. Got My Mind Set On You by George Harrison
4. Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley
5. Sweet Child O' Mine by Guns and Roses
Do I relate? Absolutely I could sing along with any one of these songs. My favorite of these? Definately INXS, I loved INXS! What else was I listening to back then? The Dirty Dancing Soundtrack, Def Leppard, Tiffany (I was 12 after all), Lisa Lisa and the Cult Jam (remember them?), Debbie Gibson, Janet Jackson, Whitney Houston...

This is me with Sarah and Sema at our grade 7 'grad' dance. Look at those pastels. Oh, we thought we were so cool back then, just about to go into high school (no middle school where I was). It was our first dance (now that I think about it, why do our middle schoolers get a dance every month?) and I can remember that it was such a big deal that the 2 (count 'em 2) class couples were slow dancing together. Life's changed a bit for our 7th graders hasn't it?

I also had a lot of fun trying to explain what generations were and about how old they are now. They inevitably asked me which I was...good question, I'm not really. I fall into that awkward XY or MTV generation, too young to be X, too old to be Y, can relate to both but not really either. My friend Karrie is definately X, my brother Jeff is definately Y. Wikipedia used to have a good article on it, until some bonehead decided to delete most of it. Maybe I'll write more about it later.

A Little Bit of Action

Friday night, home alone (not quite true, but Elijah and Jeremy were sleeping). I was out of books to read (an uncomfortable feeling for me). Nothing interesting was on TV. My laptop is out of commission. What was I to do. I know, a movie! Wait, I can't just run out to Blockbuster, I can't just leave my 2 kids alone in the house. Shoot! So I looked through our movies. Hmm, I first picked up a triple feature I'd bought a few months before - Singles, Home Fries and Mickey Blue Eyes. Well, I'd bought it for Singles, until I watched it and realised that I had seen it so much in my late teens that it didn't have much attraction anymore. So I popped in Mickey Blue Eyes. I had a vagues reccollection of seeing it in the theatre years ago and I figured, Hugh Grant from his floppy hair years how bad could it be? Okay, pretty bad. 20 minutes in and I was bored. Jonathan called to check in from work and I was so grateful for the distraction. Yes, he confirmed, it's not a very good movie. Once we were done talking, I popped the movie back into the case and looked for something else. I found Jason Bourne. This was more like it. And as a bonus, 2 more to follow once I was done. I forgot how good these movies are. I just love action movies. I know, tradtionally I list my typical chick flicks and classics when I have to say what my favorite movies are (and yes, it's true that Gone with the Wind is my favorite), but you can't go wrong with a good action movie. I'd put the Bourne trilogy at the top of my list, right up there with Spy Game, the Ocean's movies, National Treasure (1 & 2), Indiana Jones, Batman and Star Wars. Spy Game I can watch over and over again (and have). It's so brilliant. Speaking of action movies...I saw the preview for the new Bond flick - amazing! Very much looking forward to that one. Daniel Craig has to be the best Bond yet (I know some believe that to be sacrilige, but he's really got all of it down).

How to feed a child fruits and veggies without him knowing

1. Banana Pancakes
2. Pumpkin Pancakes
3. Blueberry Pancakes (I swear my pancake theme is done here)
4. Pumpkin and Applesauce Muffins
5. Carrot and Pineapple Muffins
6. Spagetti Sauce...wait on that one, discover your child is quite possibly allergic to tomatoes as he breaks out into hives
7. Raisins
8. Zippy Fruit Snacks
9. Request Sneaky Chef Cookbook for your birthday
10. Cut-up small pieces of fruit to put in yogurt
11. Plea with friends for recipe ideas, yes, zucchini is coming next
As you can tell from the above list, Jeremy is a picky eater. If it is bread he will eat it (hence the many pancake and muffin recipes). It is not that he doesn't have a good appitite. It's not that I'm not giving him enough food options. He eats well, I always put veggies out for him, we eat together as a family (I don't do separate meals unless we're eating something spicy I know they won't like)...I do all of these things, and yes, Elijah is a good eater. It's just Jeremy. I remember my brother was picky when he was little too. Give him peanut butter and he was happy, show him a banana or a tuna sandwich and he's be heading for the hills. So it's not that unusual, but yes, I'm pleading for help. Got great kid-loved sneaky veggie recipes? Please send them my way. And no, dips don't work. You should see the look on his face when I pass him a carrot stick, a slice of bell pepper or a piece of cucumber. He licks the dip off and passes the veggie back thank you very much.

I am without laptop :o(

My laptop died this week. I am currently using the downstairs computer which I rarely use as we don't like to have this kids in this room (read Jeremy who gets into everything), and when they are sleeping I like to be on the same floor as they are. I'm making an exception right now as Jeremy is having his nap, Elijah is playing with his downstairs toys in the play area. I miss my laptop, I feel this burst of creativity to write and just completed 4 entries in my book blog...this is my 3rd regular blog blog. So Dad, I'm sorry, all those games of word twist will have to wait until my laptop is back with me again.

Flat Wonder Woman

Our little cousin Eva in England has a school project, she was to write a letter to someone in a different country. We recieved our letter this week. It came complete with a cut-out drawing of Wonder Woman, appropriately named, Flat Wonder Woman, and the request to show Flat Wonder Woman around our country, and mail her back with pictures. Jonathan thought this was hilarious and already you can see him wanting to get carried away with this. Tales of Flat Wonder Woman's Canadian Adventure will be coming.

Sometimes the answer is 'no'

Have we become such people pleasers that people just expect their requests to be answered 'yes'? I know I've struggled with it. This week I said 'no' to someone about something and now it's an issue. It shouldn't be, but it is.
Ronald Morrish (parenting/teaching guru/motivational speaker) was once booked a year in advance for a pre-school conference. A few weeks before he was to speak they called to cancel him, once they read his work and realised that he used the word 'no'. 'We don't believe in saying no" they told him. 'Why not?'...if you don't say no to kids when they are young, how are they going to learn to say no for themselves when they are older? Interesting...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Of horses and other farm animals

Last Thursday night I took the boys to play at Rockwood Park. If you know the area at all, or have seen my facebook pictures of the park, you will know that the playpark is adjacent to Rockwood Stables.
As soon as we got to the park, Jeremy raced up the hill to look at the horses (he loves animals). The horses are double fenced in so I have no worry about him getting close to them.
We looked at the horses until Elijah got bored and declared it was time to play, and play they did. About 1/2 hour after we got there, my friend Luan arrived with her kids, even better for playing, and time for yet another look at the horses. So we meandered over again, this time at a different part of the fence. Pretty much as soon as I realised that this part of the fence was not doubled in, Jeremy had reached his hand in to pet the horse. The horse decided that Jeremy's hand was or contained food and bit down just as I tried to pull his arm out.
I admit, I panicked...well, screamed my bloody head off at this horse to drop my son's hand while trying to get it away, while Jeremy is screaming and crying.
The other children were so incenced at this horse. Zoe was calling it a bad horse, go away. Elijah was telling it that it shouldn't eat his baby, and Zach was just repeating bad horse, bad horse and pointing at it. Fortunately for me, Luan was there and offered to take Elijah while I took Jeremy to Emergency to get looked at. Also very fortunately, Jeremy's hand was okay (not broken or anything terrible) and now after antibiotics not infected either. Apparently if you are going to get bitten by an animal it is always preferable to get bitten by an herbivore (according to the doctor).
Well, this Sunday Luan (and her husband) and I took the kids to New Brunswick Open Farm Day. This, I figured (aside from being a great opportunity for city kids) would be the test of how much did this horse affect Jeremy. No need to worry, as soon as Jeremy saw the horses, he wanted to pet them again, no fear there. The other kids however...I don't think they are scared really, just more cautious, which is a good thing. (You never know around animals). Elijah did tell the story to the lady showing us the horse and declined the opportunity to feed it an apple.
They did end up having a great time at the farm. We got to go right into the cow's field and feed and pet a couple of the cows, which was cool. Elijah was most displeased with me that I forgot to bring his boots as we had to be extra careful where we stepped. He told one cow as we passed, 'now, don't you poop cow, you just ring your bell like a good cow' :o) I think Jeremy would have pet every animal if I had let him...good thing that the chicken's cage was out of his reach as I'm sure he would have gotten his hand pecked!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Creating a Moment

It was past bedtime. Jeremy was sleeping, Elijah was not. He was sitting up in his bed using the hall light to look at books. My usual response to this would be to tell him to go to sleep. Tonight, I didn't. Tonight I called him over to follow me. I grabbed a quilt and opened the front door.
"Where are we going Mom?"
"Just come with me and see"
I sat down on the front step, pulled Elijah onto my lap and wrapped the quilt around us.
I started to point out different things that were happening outside. I was dusky, close to night but not quite. There were a few satelites visible, but you could still see the clouds out too. As we watched the sky turn from dusk to dark, and the sky gave way to starshine, Elijah beamed as he snuggled in closer.
"This is so snuggy Mom"
My happy boy.

This time outside wasn't terribly long, and he was content to crawl back into bed when we returned inside. But it did give me pause to think. So often I get caught up in the business of the day, that I forget to enjoy the little moments. Everywhere I go other parents tell me how fast this time goes by. And it does go fast. I know I'm not speaking of 16 years in a heartbeat, but these last 4 have just flown by. My babies are not babies any more. Next September Elijah will be in the new class of Kindergartens. Every day Jeremy says and does more and more, not a baby, but a toddler boy. In my heart I want to hold on and treasure each moment, in my day to day living I don't. I wish I did.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Do you ever wonder?

I've been a teacher for 10 years now. I know, I can't believe it myself. Over the course of these years there are some skills I've picked up. I've perfected the 'teacher look', one that will even freeze misbehaving children in a supermarket (though unfortunately, this skill does not translate its effectiveness on my own children). I've developed a skill of being able to deliver witty remarks to audiences ranging in age from 5 to 13. And, I can find the truth behind most children's conflicts with remarkable speed. But the skill that I seem to be reflecting on a bit these days is the ability to pseudo-diagnose kids who are 'a little off'. Let me be clear about this. I'm not a doctor. I don't have a psychology degree. I am not qualified to officially diagnose anybody. But, when you spend as much time with children as I do you pick up things. In fact, you kinda look out for them so that if you suspect something, you can make a reccommendation to a team for a possible assessment of that child by someone who's qualified to do such a thing. That way, the child will get as much assistance as they need. Basically it's knowing by previous experience. Kids with Aspergers tend to have similarties to each other. Kids with Attachment Disorder have similarities to each other and so on.
It's kinda funny looking back at your own childhood when you are a teacher. Things that you wondered about school make more sense now. There's a girl in particular that I went to school with and I wondered about then and have had an 'aha' moment about now. I could never figure out why this girl kept getting passed to the next grade. She was clearly below level and it drove me crazy. I would know this about her because I was a good candidate for teachers to partner her up with, which they often did. I was bright and quiet and nice. Meaning, I would do my part of the work well enough that she would also get a good mark; I would also help her as much as possible without making her feel stupid; and, I would be nice to her (where other kids may have made fun of her). Most of the time I was willing to go along with this (arguing with a teacher would never have crossed my mind), but I do remember one time where I had had enough. It was the only time in my memory I ever begged a teacher to partner me up with someone else. Looking back now, I can see why they chose me (and other kids like me) to work with her, and I also see me doing similar things when I assign projects and group work. But I still wonder about this girl today. Where is she now? What is she doing? What kind of life does she lead? I can't say that I know the answer. Once we got to high school, I headed to my honours classes and don't think I ever had a class in common with her again. I know we ran into each other from time to time, but that was it, she was just a girl I had gone to elementary school with.
I wonder now (with all my fabulous teacher skills) if she was diagnosed with anything and was able to recieve assisance in her schooling. Or, was she just passed along, teachers accepting that's just her and that's what she can do. We are talking over 20 years ago in non-integrated schools, so it's hard for me to know. People didn't use words like autism and aspergers with the ease that they do today. This was back in the day when the word retarded was still acceptable (although not very nice).
I also wonder if we are too quick to judge and diagnose. If there's too many people out there insisting that their child has ADHD because it's a buzz word. I know I've taught kids with true ADHD and they really do deserve recognition and assistance, but I don't believe that as many kids have it as claim to. I know some kids who use their diagnoses as an excuse to not learn, rather than take the stance of, 'yes, this is something I have, but I have to deal with it and succeed anyway'.
Just things that cross my mind really. I just got a book out called 'Look Me in the Eye: My Life with Asperger's' by John Elder Robison and I'm really intrested to read it. It's a memoir from a man who wasn't diagnosed with Asperger's until he was in his 40's. I wonder what his take on all of this labelling is?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Reason 134 How A Second Born is Different Than The First Born

Elijah didn't watch TV until he was about 18 months. Even then it was only Baby Einstein and very little of it. Jeremy just turned 18 months and not only is he a seasoned TV watcher he already picks out his own shows to watch. This morning he came up to me holding a Bob the Builder DVD, said 'Bob' and led me to the DVD player so that I could put it on for him. Did I plan it this way? No. This is one of the drawbacks of your baby having a 4 year old brother. So Jeremy dances with the Backyardigans, knows who Dora and the Wonderpets are (he wouldn't put down a stuffed Ming-Ming at the toy store) and yesterday was his first viewing of Thomas the Train. You have never seen a boy so excited. As soon as he got got his first view of Thomas he cried out 'tain' and continued to do so through the entire video. Well off and on. Fortunately, he's not at the stage yet where he watches a show in entirety, it just catches his attention once in a while.

More than 1st Cornithians 13

Please don't get angry at me for my next post but...Jonathan and I have shot a number of wedding this summer and there are a lot of lovely differences and nuances to a couple's wedding. But the one thing that seems to remain constant is 1st Corinthians 13. I really have nothing against the passage itself. It's a beautiful passage:

1 Corinthians 13
13If I speak in the tongues of mortals and of angels, but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give away all my possessions, and if I hand over my body so that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
4Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant 5or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; 6it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. 7It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
8Love never ends. But as for prophecies, they will come to an end; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will come to an end. 9For we know only in part, and we prophesy only in part; 10but when the complete comes, the partial will come to an end. 11When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. 12For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. 13And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.

I know it seems fitting. You love each other, you are getting married, you have the love passage read at your wedding. I'm just saying that for those of us who go to a lot of weddings, it gets a little repetitive. I also know as I write this I'm a little bit of a hypocrite in the repetitive choices of wedding material. I agonised over the choice of using Pachabel's Canon in D for my stoll down the aisle. I knew I didn't want Here Comes the Bride, I loved the Canon, but I also knew that the Canon had become the new Here Comes the Bride...but still I used it.

For the record, we did not use the Corinthians reading at our wedding. We had 3 readings which were:

Genesis 2:
Then the Lord God said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper as his partner.’ 19So out of the ground the Lord God formed every animal of the field and every bird of the air, and brought them to the man to see what he would call them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. 20The man gave names to all cattle, and to the birds of the air, and to every animal of the field; but for the man* there was not found a helper as his partner. 21So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and he slept; then he took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23Then the man said,
‘This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
this one shall be called Woman,*
for out of Man* this one was taken.’
24Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and clings to his wife, and they become one flesh. 25And the man and his wife were both naked, and were not ashamed.

Ephesians 5
Be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife just as Christ is the head of the church, the body of which he is the Saviour. 24Just as the church is subject to Christ, so also wives ought to be, in everything, to their husbands.
25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26in order to make her holy by cleansing her with the washing of water by the word, 27so as to present the church to himself in splendour, without a spot or wrinkle or anything of the kind—yes, so that she may be holy and without blemish. 28In the same way, husbands should love their wives as they do their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29For no one ever hates his own body, but he nourishes and tenderly cares for it, just as Christ does for the church, 30because we are members of his body.* 31‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ 32This is a great mystery, and I am applying it to Christ and the church. 33Each of you, however, should love his wife as himself, and a wife should respect her husband.

John 2
On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. 2Jesus and his disciples had also been invited to the wedding. 3When the wine gave out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ 4And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what concern is that to you and to me? My hour has not yet come.’ 5His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you.’ 6Now standing there were six stone water-jars for the Jewish rites of purification, each holding twenty or thirty gallons. 7Jesus said to them, ‘Fill the jars with water.’ And they filled them up to the brim. 8He said to them, ‘Now draw some out, and take it to the chief steward.’ So they took it. 9When the steward tasted the water that had become wine, and did not know where it came from (though the servants who had drawn the water knew), the steward called the bridegroom 10and said to him, ‘Everyone serves the good wine first, and then the inferior wine after the guests have become drunk. But you have kept the good wine until now.’ 11Jesus did this, the first of his signs, in Cana of Galilee, and revealed his glory; and his disciples believed in him.

I'm sorry I can't see anything now!

When did it become socially acceptable to not dim your brights to oncoming traffic while driving at night?
I was driving back along highway 7 last night, one of my least favorite drives in the world. It's bad enough that it's dark, there's no towns until Welsford, no lights and then there's threat of moose jumping out at you at any moment. And once the fog hit, I seriously couldn't see anything and started to drive like an old lady (and really couldn't care less that I kept getting passed, the red lights gave me something to follow)...but the number of people who did not dim their brights as they came along the road astounded me. At first I thought it was some random thing, but it became more and more apparent that their ability to see something was more important than blinding the people they passed along the way. Strange.

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