Posted in Milestones

New Year’s Resolutions

I have never been a fan of New Years Resolutions.  When I use to teach fitness classes more regularly  I always found January so frustrating because my class number would skyrocket for a few weeks and then I would never see them again.  The reason I don’t like them is there is too much pressure to follow them and often they are unrealistic.

Instead this year I am going to set some goals that I would like to achieve but if we fail a bit at the beginning of the year we won’t stop but try again.

1 – Declutter!  This is pretty much due to Gord’s nagging for the past year.  We have too much stuff and it all usually just ends up thrown in the basement.  This year I want to get my basement organized and functional!  I would love for Eileen to be able to shoot a puck around with Daddy in the basement and have a better chance of hitting the net than a pile of junk.  We have already decided that we are having a yard sale in the spring but now we are starting to sort through things.  Today I cleaned the fridge, freezer and pantry; while Gord and Kaitlyn cleaned out the barn and garage.  Then we did a little bit of work in the basement.  Gord took a load of large items to the transfer station and I organized my wrapping station in the basement  throwing out tonnes of old gift bags that are ripped or that I know I will never use again.  My supplies are organized so it should be much easier to wrap gifts for the many birthday parties the kids go to.

2 – Get moving! I look back at my fitness level 5 years ago and it makes me want to cry.  It is very ironic because even just a year ago I was preaching about how it is not hard to get moving with your kids.  I could use some of my own advice now.  I think much of it is because we have become so busy both in and out of the home.  Work is a lot more work, and we are doing more literacy and craft activities but our home exercise routine is definitely lacking.  I am not too worried about the kids because they have dance and skating/hockey and swimming, and they never stop moving at home unless in a specific stationary activity.  The problem is Mommy is not moving.  My second goal it so find ways to incorporate more physical activity into my day.

3 – Reading!  I love to read.  I use to be a teacher-librarian and that was only a couple of years ago.  The pile of books and magazines beside my desk is very high and doesn’t seem to be going down at all.  The problem is that when I am finally sitting at the end of the day I am usually either on my computer or watching T.V. (something I have PVR’d or through Netflix).  I really want to read more, both for fun and professionally.  This past year I joined NAEYC when I moved to Kindergarten and I keep getting these amazing resources in the mail.  Sometimes it seems a little overwhelming – especially adding to the professional resources already in my pile, but I really want to get through a few of these.  I also was to read for fun – I use to be in a book club but could never get through the books in time – I need to make the time.

4 – Time for Me!  When Michael was born I decided I needed one hour a week to myself and I started going to Yoga.  It was amazing, but it doesn’t hurt that I found an amazing teacher.  I NEED to start doing this again.  It keeps me grounded both emotionally and physically.  It may seem like I am taking time away from other things but I think it makes me a better mother, teacher, and person!

I don’t normally share things like this on my blog but I wanted to put it all in writing because maybe then I will have to be accountable!

Posted in Books, Family Adventures, Milestones

The Christmas Tree

One of my main themes I have been using with my Kindergarten class this month has been Christmas Trees and so I am very tired of tree books but I found a different one that was perfect  for December 9th, the day we were suppose to get our Christmas Tree.  Grandmother’s Tree by Avril Tyrrell and illustrated by Frances Tyrrell  is told through the eyes of a Christmas Elf ornament, one of the oldest ornaments on the family tree.  The ornaments are very excited as it is the time of year that they get taken out and placed on the Christmas tree.  Some of them are older and others are new but they all have a place on the Christmas tree.

This is the perfect story to read before decorating the Christmas tree.  It provides children perspective and leads to great questions while putting up their favourite ornaments.  This didn’t quite work for us as we changed when we got our tree and it was already up when I read this story.  This didn’t stop Kaitlyn – she loves pointing out all the ornaments they each got on their first Christmas.

Instead I found a simple Christmas Tree craft the girls could both easily do in our Usborne Preschool Activity book Christmas Fun. 

The very first craft in this book is Stencil Trees.  Kaitlyn and I made these a couple of years ago so I knew Eileen would be able to do it easily.  I wanted to let them make them their own way so I did not show them the pictures in the craft book.

To prepare I made the tree stencil by folding a piece of paper in half and cutting out half a tree for each of the girls.  Then I taped it to a piece of cover stock and set the girls up with green paint.  I showed them how to make fingerprints all over their trees.

This started off pretty well but then Kaitlyn decided she liked it better if she smeared all the prints together and pretty soon they had covered the entire tree.  It wasn’t what I had planned but it was what they wanted to do so it was perfect.

We let them dry overnight and the next day it was time to decorate them.  I picked up a variety of jewels and decorations up at the dollar store and they glued them on the tree.  Kaitlyn did hers independently and Eileen just needed a bit of help putting the glue where she wanted it.  I didn’t get any stars and they both asked for stars for the tops of their trees.  This is a bit ironic as our family tree has an angel at the top.  Kaitlyn put snowflakes around the top of her tree and declared it was outside.  A very easy craft to make with young children, especially those who love paint!

Posted in Milestones

The Week That Was!

Sometimes there is a week that you just look back on and say WHAT!!! Well this week we need to add an extra hundred exclamation points.

It all started Good Friday night, actually it was early Saturday morning, when Michael was having trouble breathing.  It had happened a couple of weeks before but we just gave him his inhaler and all was better.  After two rounds of his inhaler and 10 minutes standing outside in the cool air I packed him in the car and drove him to the ER.  As it turned out he had croup.  They gave him a treatment and he was much better.  Saturday night was a bit rough but not as bad as Friday.

Saturday was fun in that we decorated our Easter eggs.  Easter Sunday was not too even though we were 30 minutes late for brunch. Kaitlyn had a bit of a rough afternoon when we went to my Aunt’s for Easter dinner.  First she got bit by the dog and then she got some sort of nasty bug bite.  Easter Monday was quiet as Eileen was in daycare so it was only me, Kaitlyn and Michael.

Tuesday we went to the naturalpath and that started our week of no dairy or wheat.  Wednesday was pretty normal but that evening I the opportunity to hear General Rick Hillier speak, and it was amazing.

Then came Thursday!  At 2:00 I sat down and said out loud: “Is this day over yet???”

I don’t know if I have ever had a day like this.  It started in the morning with a massive wind storm.  We get a lot of windy days where we live so I didn’t notice at first.  I didn’t realize how windy it was until my cleaning lady called and asked if we had power.  The next  think I knew our large wooden playset had blown over, Eileen was staring out the window crying “Playground”, and then one of our very tall pine trees came crashing down over our driveway, on to the front lawn, barely missing the house.  I picked up the kids and moved everyone to the basement.  Kaitlyn was in full panic mode because she thought a tornado was coming and had just seem some the destruction in the United States on the television.  I called my parents, who did not have power, and they came over.  I think they weren’t too worried but wanted our electricity to make coffee.  LOL!  A couple of hours later the wind calmed down a bit and my parents headed home (even though they still didn’t have power).  Then the phone rang – it was the school.  There was no initial worry as Kaitlyn wasn’t at school so I knew it was for me. (I teach at the same school Kaitlyn goes to when I am not on maternity leave).  It was my principal (my boss) informing me that next year I will not be the teacher-librarian but instead would be teaching kindergarten!?!?!  I pretty much went into a complete meltdown.  I don’t know if I would ever have taken this news well but with the day I had been having this new put me over the top.  My job was my dream job at the school I always wanted to work at.  I had a great library program and also was to teach computers to all primary classes.  My goal was to be a true 21st century teacher giving my students the key research and inquiry skills needed to succeed in today’s world, while also instilling a love of reading.  I had been beginning to explore becoming involved in the Ontario School Library Association, I presented at their annual conference this year, and I had developed a board wide literacy festival for grade 2 students based on the Blue Spruce Reading Program.  The rug was pulled out from under my feet and all these ambitions were taken away from me.  It took me a few hours to compose myself enough and I headed into the school to talk to the principal myself – I was almost ready to leave the teaching profession.  I love being home with my kids, was starting to feel guilty going back to work, and was only going because I was returning to my ‘dream job’.  I knew though it would be a bad idea to make any rash decisions.  Instead I just wanted to get the whole story and figure out what my options are.  So I have not made any final decisions yet but I think I am going to take a part time leave and teach kindergarten part time next year.  I am not ready to leave teaching yet, and you never know if I will love kindergarten.  We are not a full time kindergarten program until fall 2012 so I am able to have one kindergarten class and only work every other day.  This will give me another year with Michael before returning to work full time, at which time I can decide if I want to teach full day kindergarten or look for another position.  I will very much miss my library and really hope that all the programs and hard work I have put in continue under my successor but this may be a blessing in disguise.  My family will come first, and this will give me the opportunity to do so, without going insane.

Then we came full circle to Friday again.  After Thursday I was exhuasted so this was a quiet day.  Kaitlyn was in school and Eileen in daycare so Michael and I had a quiet day at home and in the evening Gord and I went out to dinner with his firm for our end of tax season celebration!

Here’s hoping this week is better.  But then again it will be a great one – we leave for Niagara Falls on Wednesday an a much needed trip to Great Wolf Lodge!

Posted in Growing Pains, Milestones

The Toothfairy’s First Visit

The Toothfairy will be visiting our house for the first time tonight!  Kaitlyn’s tooth started to get loose a few weeks ago and it just fell out.  It may have helped that her Uncle Ian (who is also her dentist) visited earlier today and told her she should try and wiggle it out.  Right now the biggest problem is that she is too excited to sleep!

A number of years ago I picked up a book for just this occasion:  Throw Your Tooth From the Roof by Selby B. Beeler. As Kaitlyn was already in bed when it fell out tonight we will start to read it together tomorrow but I thought I would take a look at it myself first.  The two most common customs are leaving it for some sort of creature to come and take it – most commonly a fairy or a mouse, or the other custom in many places is to throw it somewhere: on the roof, outside, at the sun, or even in the chicken coop.  There were a couple more unique traditions.  In Chile a young girl gives her tooth to her mother and she makes it into a charm that she can wear.  The Aboriginal Australians put the tooth into the shoot of a pandanus plant and as the plant grow the tooth with grow too.  My favourite, however is that of the Yellowknife Dene (a native Canadian tribe) where mother or grandmother puts the tooth in a tree and then the family dances around it ensuring that that the new tooth will grow in as straight as a tree.  This is a very cool book to teach children about a variety of traditions.

What does your family do when a child looses a tooth?  If you give money what is the going rate?