Friday, December 19, 2014

The First Report Card - French Immersion Style.

My boy is asleep beside me. He’s been sick today. Sometimes, I worry more about him when he is sick because it happens so rarely and he is always so full of energy. It is hard to watch him choose to sit idle on the couch, white and blank. Here is praying that it will pass quickly and he will be back to himself before long.

Report cards came home today - Ella’s first report card. I suppose in theory, every report that a therapist writes, or assessment that is done or development plan that comes home, is essentially a report card, but this is the first report card for which Ella is measured against her peers. Someone from the school board might correct me and say that it is not against her peers but against the learning outcomes set by the school board. Either way, there is bar – does Ella measure up? I almost cried reading it. Doesn’t that sound ridiculous?

To be honest, some of it doesn’t even make sense to me. They say that any areas that are addressed in her Individual Education Plan (set out in a meeting with teachers, SSA’s and a bunch of other people) are then assessed according to the student’s level of success with the support of adaptations…something about making expectations more fair…and then there are the asterisks.

I suppose one reason that this report card takes more emotional processing for me than others however, is because it is the first time in Ella’s whole life that she is being assessed in the same format as her brother…her freak of nature brother, who fully meets or exceeds all expectations (for which we are very proud and yet recognize he has had a whole year of the British education system to give him a leg up).

The same boxes apply – Approaching expectations, Meeting Expectations, and Exceeds expectations (although this year, I noticed Jakob’s report card has more categories including the “fully meets” in addition to simply “meets”. And whereas Jakob’s card is weighted to the right, Ella’s is weighted to the left. To be clear, this is not what made me want to cry. I think I just want to cry because I am tired, and feverish and was up from 3am with a sick boy and a little girl that decided it was time to get up…at 4am.

But at any rate, people will often as me “how it is going?” referring to Ella. I am never really sure what to say but I always respond with “Good. She is doing great! She knows all her sounds and is learning a tonne of French vocabulary.” Blah blah blah. That is what I know anyway or maybe that is what is important to me? But what does her report card say? What do they think?

Well, of course there is the italicized disclaimer at the end of half the lines that says, with SSA support. But disclaimer aside, the objective point of view says that Ella is meeting expectations in the areas of learning letter sounds, listening to the person speaking, music (she better!) and in the areas of expressing feelings and making friends and being a good friend. It would seem the areas she struggles in are Math and Science.

It makes sense really, as we have focused much more on vocabulary since October than on counting or patterns. Then there are the comments, which include nothing that I didn’t already know. It starts out, Ella is a considerate and kind hearted member of our class. They love her. They all love her. And I love that. Sure we have stuff to work on academically, but so far, I would still say, French Immersion was the best choice we could have made for Ella, if for no other reason than her team of cheerleaders that encourage her, push her, support her and love her every day.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Incoherent Christmas Tree Post

I wouldn't consider myself to be an overly sentimental person but I do admit that I often have trouble accepting transition, change and the natural progression of life. I long for chapters past...or at the very least, elements of the chapters past and it always catches me a little off guard when I realize a chapter has ended and a new one begun without me even noticing.

There was a time when I took my camera everywhere. I held no reservations about looking like a tourist everywhere I went...and then suddenly, without even noticing, I became self-conscious. Is that it? Or did the novelty just wear off...or did I get too preoccupied with taking photos for money instead of using my camera as a tool to help me see the world in a different, more artistic, optimistic kind of way?

There was a time when I saw the beauty in life and couldn't wait to share it with you.
I look back at shots that I would never pause to find, let alone capture now. I take fewer and fewer photos - maybe because of my introduction to the iphone, perhaps because I am too busy or perhaps because beauty seems so far away at times...

And yet, today, I was overwhelmed, once again by how much love I have for my children and believed, for even just a moment, that my life is truly beautiful and not the chaotic mess that spins me into an anxious tizzy most days. Ella is a toddler in a five year old's body and she needs me and I love that. As difficult as it is to get dinner made, I love that she needs to cuddle after a long day at school and then needs to hold my hand all evening until it is, at last, time for bed.

And Jakob - my energetic, sweet, sensitive boy who tonight, as I laid down for a moment after supper told me that I could rest and he would help Ella. He willingly, and without being asked helped Ella wash her hair and get out of the bath and into her jammies.

Saturday was Christmas tree day. Things are a little crazy so we didn't make it out to our favourite tree lot, but Jakob selected a beautiful, overpriced tree nonetheless and we spent the day re-arranging, decorating, sorting, decluttering...but not before Saturday morning Granville island coffee and muffins.

Monday, December 1, 2014

An old fashioned post.

The blog was created to share life. This One Beautiful Life. In a world of technology, hustle, bustle and greed it is so easy to lose sight of that. I have been doing a lot of soul searching as of of always. There persists, this lingering question of what to do with this space. Bloggers will tell you that you need a niche. The "best" blogs and highest earning blogs focus in on one topic, (usually on how to make money on your blog) but that is not what this space is for and I never want it to become that.  Sure, you might see an ad or two as I meagrely try to compensate for the small cost it takes to run it but know that ultimately it is my desire to share life, inspire, encourage. At the heart of my writing life is what inspires me, motivates me and encourages me to continue. So this is for you, to you - thank you for sharing.

Today, I give you an old fashioned I used to know, the ones where I just share life.

I love Christmas...did I mention that?

I try to do as much as I can in preparation before December so that I can spend the little free time we have just enjoying each other and the season.

I wish you could have been here this morning.

I woke at 6:20am to the sound of my girl. I found her in her room, light on, glasses on, tiara on, singing her heart out. I love her.

Not too shortly after she was settled in front of Bubble Guppies, a glass of milk and some toast, Jakob emerged with a giant smile on his sleepy face. Today is the first day of December! Which means the first day of his Advent calendar and that much closer to Christmas. This year we did the Advent Calendar a little bit different. My kids have been wanting Playmobil for a while, but it always seemed a little daunting to me so when I saw the nativity set, I knew it would be the perfect starter set and would also make an innovative Advent Calendar. So for every day in December the kids will get to open one package each containing a piece of the set. To be honest, some of the pieces are pretty small. I had bought the Wise men as well but Ben was pretty adamant that they could not be pulled out until Epiphany. Day one: the stable.

The belly continues to grow and as mentioned I have complete placenta previa so I am forced to take it easy - no exercising and no lifting - whatever that means when you have two kids. It my world, the phrase "take it easy" does not exist but I am trying.

I've taken up knitting. I am hoping it will force me to sit like a jigsaw puzzle has the power to do. I am a project person and often have trouble relenting when a project is waiting to be finished. Jakob called first dibs on my starter project, which was, of course, a scarf. He was so encouraging as he watched the progress and would often want me to work on it so that it would soon be finished. Thankfully, it didn't take long.
Next, I will attempt a sweater for baby.
I could be crazy.

The weather has been cold (in Vancouver standards). It snowed on Friday night and a white blanket still covers the ground. The whole city is covered in a magical frost and of course Jakob was ecstatic and was out early Saturday morning shovelling the steps. He was a little disappointed that there wasn't enough snow to build a snowman but there is time for that.

We are officially into the busiest season of our year. Ben is out every night. Last week he had 10 rehearsals and 2 performances - this week is similar. There is a tension because while it is all good and fun, there is the temptation to get caught up in the busyness. I am praying this will not happen. We are getting better at saying "no" and I definitely feel more prepared this year.

Well, my tea is almost gone and I have a few things to do before I get on with the rest of my day but I hope you all have a beautiful Advent. Don't get wrapped up in the busyness or the consumerism as we are all so tempted to do. And by the way, thanks for reading.
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