Archive for January 25th, 2008

Happy half-birthday to Reid

Friday, January 25th, 2008

Each year at Reid’s birthday, I intend to write a letter to her, talking about what has happened in the previous year. Each birthday Reid has had has been more of a festival than a single day event and I’ve been too busy to write the letter. Or maybe I’m just a bad mother. In any case, I think I’ll mark Reid’s half-birthday this year with a letter.

The time between 2.5 and 3.5 brought many changes in you, Reid. You had just started in the preschool building last January and you seemed more like a toddler to me that a preschooler but you were undaunted by the big rooms and big kids – 4.5 year olds are much bigger than a 2.5 year old, they’re practically in “real” school. Or maybe it is just the mama’s of the 2.5 year olds who worry about the size difference. You were always proud to have “senior friends” when you were in the Junior Preschool class and I hope that you are friendly with the juniors now that you are in the Senior Preschool class – it would only be right.

Your love of swimming never wavered throughout the year. We took Parent and Tot lessons through the winter, spring and fall. You liked the classes well enough but increasingly wanted to wander a bit from the teacher and not have be holding you. This January you started a swimming class where you swim with just your teacher and the other kids. You are a brave girl who is learning much more without me so close. Your dad and I watch you and talk about how proud we are to see you mastering the new skills. We often go swimming on Sunday afternoons and have lots of fun. I love to cuddle your strong, wet body but you are increasingly independent.

We took a gymnastics class together in the summer and you were a natural at it. It was fun to watch you learn to hop with feet together on the trampoline. You would concentrate so hard to keep your feet together as your feet seemed to want to run instead. Your confidence on the balance beam was impressive. All of the walking along the curb at daycare seems to have paid off. At the first class, you learned to do a handstand. What a stong and coordinated child you are. You have inherited your coordination from you dad, thank goodness. In September, you started a course with a teacher and other kids. I wondered if you’d want me to stay with you for a bit of the first class but you walked to the teacher when you were called without looking back. Well, I suppose you probably waved because you sometimes wave at Daddy and me while we’re watching you but mostly you listen to what the coach is saying and then attempt to follow the instructions you’ve been given.

You started skating lessons this January. I accompany you onto the ice. We both wear helmets when we skate and I think I look a bit silly but it is a good idea to protect our heads. When you skate you have a look of determination on your face as you practice keeping your “airplane arms” spread wide while taking little steps. You want me to hold your hand a lot. I haven’t been able to convince you yet that you can skate without holding my hand but I won’t give up trying.

In the last year, we have read many, many books. You have started telling us when a book is for “babies” and we’ve set these books aside. You still have some favourite simple books that we read, though. Your favourite books this year have been anything about Clifford the Big Red Dog, including his puppy days. I read The Cat in the Hat and The Cat in the Hat Comes Back to you for the first time this year. These books, and the other Dr Seuss and Early Reader books, have much longer stories than we were reading before. You listen and ask many questions as we read. We’ve spent lots of time reading Robert Munsch stories as well; your favourite Munsch story is Stephanie’s Ponytail. I suspect you see yourself in Stephanie. You have certainly started telling me how you would like your hair done. In the last week or so, you have begun asking for stories about yourself I when you were a baby in my tummy, a baby, a little girl or a big girl. I think that these requests will continue. You *really* like stories starring you!

Your television choices changed over the last year as well. Pocoyo had been replaced by Rolie Polie Olie and by the end of the year, you were asking for Little Bear and Berenstain Bears. Since December you have mostly been asking for Dora the Explorer and Go, Diego, Go! You run or jump or do whatever they ask and you call out the answers to the questions. Daddy’s favourite thing to see is you running on the spot. Your body is quite wiggly when you run on the spot, as though it would really rather been running across the room. Dora and Diego ask that you shout some of the answers louder and so we talk a lot about speaking quietly when you use your “Dora” loud voice when we’re just talking together.

You have spent quite a lot of time playing with dolls and CareB, your pink Care Bear, and the stroller, playpen and highchair that you have. Most of the time, you call the two dolls you play with most “Hair Baby” and “Bald Baby”. In the fall, you started to call the one you were playing with “Daisy”. Daddy and I were a bit confused, at first, by the way that the two dollies had to share one name. At Christmas, you got a white Care Bear from Atira, Harley and RJ. You named her, “Thomas”. Sometimes, though, you call her “CareB” and say that the pink one is “Thomas” at that point.

Your favourite foods have been Madras chicken curry and pizza since you were wee little and that didn’t change over the past year but I would add spaghetti and meatballs to the list. You will usually try any food but sometimes you declare that you don’t like a food but you will like it when you are 4. I hope that you are right. I think that your least favourite food is probably sausage casserole.

We have packed up many clothes, toys and books that you have outgrown to give to other children who need them. You are a very generous girl and happily share what you no longer need with others. Sometimes you will bring me a toy and tell me that we need to give it away.  Your daycare sponsors a food drive twice a year and you are always pleased to take food in for families who need our help. I am proud of your generosity.

Reid, your daddy and I are proud of many things about you and love you to bits. Happy half-birthday.

Family Literacy Week, day 4

Friday, January 25th, 2008

I love the idea of calendars and lists and was excited to develop a list for our family based on the Kingston-based Centre for Expertise in Family Literacy in honour of  Family Literacy Week. We read a scrapbook based on things Reid has done on Monday just like my list said. Tuesday, though, was the puppet night but Reid wanted another scrapbook and we were late getting Reid to bed and so I didn’t mention the puppets again. The activity for Wednesday was making goop but we had a very slow supper and, well, no goop was made. Life interferes with my lists. I guess that is what I’m saying. And also that we’re not going to make it to the public library tonight per the list.

I *am* going to write about the library, though. Maybe that will count. The Ottawa Public Library Web presence is split in two: the libarary catalogue and the rest of the information. I spend most of my time on the catalogue site since I’m figuring out what books I have out, what fines I owe (it’s true, I do) and that sort of thing. When I was thinking of Family Literacy Week, I poked around the main site and discovered and re-encountered some good children and family literacy resources. I would encourage you to spend some time on your own library site but there are some good resources on the Ottawa Public Library site to see what you might be able to benefit from, even at a distance.

1. Every Kid a Card initiative – Encouraging children to use the library is a good thing to do in it’s own right but it’s also a bit about cash. The number of patrons affects budget decisions. Even if you’re not in Ottawa, I’d encourage you to go and get a library card for all of the people in your family. Your community will be all the better for it. If you’re a teacher in Ottawa, there is an Every Kid a Card Class Challenge running through February 28.
2. 123 Read with Me - Program to focus on infant literacy, in cooperation with the City of Ottawa, that gives new parents a cloth bag filled with information about literacy and libraries, The Incredible Directory (a parents resource list) and a certificate redeemable at any library branch for a free board book. 
3. Every Child Ready to Read intitiative, there are events and resources that focus on developing 6 pre-reading skills, including: vocabulary, narrative skills, letter knowledge, print motivation, print awareness and phonological awareness. The information is presented in easy-to-understand terms and is offered for children under 2, 2-3, 4-5.
4. Ready to Read Backpack - There are a selection of books (3 English and 3 French) chosen by librarians and grouped together in backpacks that are available near the checkout at pilot libraries. I’ve signed out a backpack a couple of times and am working on a review.
5. Newsletter and Preview, a quarterly magazine – The library offers many activities, like readings by authors, educational sessions for parents, contests and others, book clubs and much more. The newsletter and magazine help to keep track of these.
6. Podcast book reviews – Librarians do book reviews for a local radio station and they post them as podcasts.
7. Study Zone – Homework resources are always welcome.
8. Kids’ site – Split into a site for kids 5 and under that offers games that reinforce pre-reading skills and a “book club” for kids 6 and over, that allows them to publish book reviews, create online word games, publish Lost Chapters to your favourite books and create quizzes about books. Unfortunately for folks outside of Ottawa, the book club requires an Ottawa public library card to participate in a some of the activities.
9. Resources for book clubs – When I belonged to a book club, we tended to spend more time eating and talking but maybe with these resources, we would have talked more about the books.
10. Library Elf – The Ottawa Public Library catalogue works with this Internet-based tool for keeping track of what’s due, overdue and ready for pickup. You can have multiple cards associated with your email and not need to worry about your kids having books long after their turn is up. Or at least you will know what books to be looking for under the bed, the couch and elsewhere.

Does your library have something that you would like to share?

3 nights alone

Friday, January 25th, 2008

I had an email from my niece Melissa a few days ago and in it she mentioned that Roy (her husband) will be travelling for work and the fellow who usually accompanies him won’t be doing so this time. Roy, then, will have 3 nights alone and Melissa thinks he will be bored in his hotel room. I thought about it and have come to the conclusion that 3 nights alone in a hotel room might be kind of nice. I’d make pots of tea and read page after page of my book, stopping only to use the bathroom – that’s the problem with tea – and not because someone was speaking to me or needed something. I might go out for supper one night but bringing a simple meal back to the room would do otherwise. I’d have to set aside time for long, uninterrupted baths, the kind that last so long that you have to add more hot water. I don’t know that I’d turn of the television, though. It would be wasteful to invite people into my solitude. I suppose, depending on the city I was in, I would also spend time exploring. After 4 months on my own in Quebec City on a French course, I’m quite comfortable playing the solo tourist.

This may all be empty talk from a woman who hasn’t spent the night away from her child in 3.5 years but I think I’ll soon be ready to walk the talk. Ken and I will be going away for a few days in May while Reid stays with Grandma Joyce. Reid is excited at the prospect and keeps asking if it is May yet. I’m looking forward to the break and I’m sure Ken is as well. He has practice being away from Reid since he has been to Europe a couple of times for work and once to Vancouver, not to mention all of the time when I took Reid and went to stay at my mom’s. I can only hope he’ll be a bit sympathetic if/when I miss Reid while we’re away.

What would you do with 3 free evenings?