Parenthood
July 18, 2014
Bloodwork

The best part of living close to cousins is getting to play with them! 


Eagle-eyed readers might wonder why Matthew has a bandaid on his arm. Doesn't everyone get "take both kids for bloodwork" as a to-do item as they are frantically getting ready to go camping for the weekend?


Since children of celiacs are supposed to be tested roughly every five years, Elizabeth got to have her blood taken as a matter of routine. She was not very much consoled by the thought of it being for "a science experiment", but did take pride in being "braver than Matthew". Matthew got his too because he's starting to fall off his curve. Maybe he's taking after his Daddy, but our pediatrician (Dr Lynn Jacoby) would like to be sure nothing else is going on. We seriously lucked out with our health care provider for the kids, y'all.

I was surprised to learn that the test is only covered if administered in a hospital setting despite the test being strongly recommended by Health Canada for my kids as a matter of routine, and despite in this particular case a physician wanting to screen the kids due to concerns about their weight and growth. At least here in Ottawa, that actually means that the test is only covered for kids under the age of two because CHEO does not perform celiac tests for kids over two. The test is now $60! (It was only $42 when I needed it a decade ago - something the technician was surprised to learn as it apparently has been $60 for many years). But I think ridiculous that it is not covered.


I managed to get a urine sample from Matthew despite great personal peril (sadly, he's still very much in diapers). It took two tries, because he only pees on the toilet in the morning and I still have not got the hang of elimination communication with boys. Then when we arrived at CHEO we discovered that urine samples "expire" after four hours - coincidentally when we arrived. So he had to get a urine catching bag after all which was really annoying and hard to detach. But we did get back to CHEO within the requested two hours and all the trauma of the day was wiped out by getting to splash with cousins...


The corn is growing too!

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July 17, 2014
Writing practice

Work time with both kids is interesting because Matthew desperately wants to do whatever Elizabeth is doing and she's not into collaborative drawings. They have spent many a happy hour doing collaborative stickers though; She takes them off the sheet and he carefully sticks them on his tummy before putting them on the paper.


So around here passing notes back and forth under the door passes as summer entertainment. It keeps Matthew out of Elizabeth's hair but still involved as "messenger". And Elizabeth gets to practice her reading and writing...


I should have taken a picture of the accompanying drawings too, I suppose, but the text is what really cracked me up:

"Yiyoo lav mi pihcr" (Did you love my picture?)

"It has a palzacr" (It has a play structure)

"I poot mrr pipool" (I put more people)

"Dyoo no at iiz ranin" (Do you know that it is raining?)

"Diyoor sele" (You are silly - apparently the di was a mistake and you should know not to read it!)


I especially loved the spelling of "put".

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July 16, 2014
Children's Exploration Garden
Auntie Janice here. When Elizabeth, Matthew and I go out walking, I like to walk down to Bank Street. Our street has so many beautiful houses, and a wide variety of trees. This summer we've developed a routine: as we walk down the street I point out the major trees we can easily identify: Maple (three big sections on one leaf), Oak (acorns and leaves with pointy bits all over), Birch (white bark), Spruce (small needles all over), Pine (big needles in clumps), and... Elizabeth's favourite, the "Elmo" tree. Can you guess? The tree itself is very tall and as a whole resembles either a giant ice cream cone or an umbrella. If you guessed Elm, you're right! Apparently that's a tricky one to say.

Anyways, usually we walk around various stores while I do a few errands, occasionally stopping for a snack, though that happens less often now that BOTH cupcake stores have closed. :'(

But a few weeks ago we found a brand new park, and it's AMAZING! So new it doesn't yet have a sign, there's a spot to park strollers and a bench for any particularly tired adults by the only gated entrance. There's a little bridge to clamber over, little stumps everywhere to sit on, stand on, or jump from one to another, and generally has a very natural feel to it. On the right there are a few logs set up in front of two stages- one of which is open to imagination, and the other has musical instruments. There are drums and a really fun set of 2x4's that work almost like a xylophone. I forget the right name... Anyways you do need to forage a bit to find a suitable stick, but Matthew loves the fact that he is allowed to enthusiastically hit these things and I even clap and cheer for it. Elizabeth prefers showing off how well she can clamber on top of the drums. She's getting pretty tall.

The other awesome part of the park is the sandbox area. It's circular and flush with the ground (no tripping hazard to get in), and has a great chalkboard behind it. Volunteers replenish the sidewalk chalk and occasionally wash it down. One of them came by while we were playing the second or third time we came by, and told us that the park was mostly intended for toddlers, but that of course all were welcome. She asked E if she had found the dinosaur bones yet.

"DINOSAUR BONES?!?" This feature makes the park even more amazing. At the bottom of the sandbox, they cemented in dinosaur bones. There's a broom nearby that works both to help clean up the sandbox and to brush off the bones. I'm tempted to bring a shovel next time and find a way to do some grid mapping so we could do a proper archeological excavation.... We definitely found something but couldn't tell what type of Dino it was. I think I was more covered in sand than the kids!

Anyways, the park is still a big secret, but if you'd like to dig for dinosaur bones yourself, it's right at the entrance to Glebe Central Park. Which is a big secret in itself, and has two Catalpa trees (my second favourite tree after Magnolias). Or I guess I could show you some day...

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July 15, 2014
Summer School

We seriously contemplated homeschooling Elizabeth full time instead of sending her to school last year, but felt we lacked resources to help her become truly bilingual. Elizabeth has enjoyed school greatly and so far we have been quite impressed with the school. But Brendan and I feel education shouldn't be completely "outsourced". So we've continued on with many of the various school-like things we started to do last year and tried to keep Elizabeth connected to other homeschoolers so that she doesn't start to think that school is the only option out there. Since we did send her to school most of the day, we had to be creative in how we approached our educational goals during the year to avoid eating up all her unstructured leisure time.


As we send her to school full time for the moment, the bulk of our homeschooling this year has been weekends and school holidays. As summer approached, Elizabeth was very much looking forward to getting to do more "school at home".


Math: Elizabeth tends to skip 13 and 16 when counting to twenty in English, and fifteen in French, so we've been working on tens and units on the theory that if she doesn't just memorize the numbers in sequence but actually connects the amounts to the numbers it will be easier for her. She's actually pretty good at math, but she cheats whenever she can (just like Mommy always did) in order to avoid thinking. Her favourite math activity is currently playing dominos, as long as Matthew isn't allowed to "help" too much, although "lego math" is a close second.


Reading: Elizabeth can read quite a lot of words now, but it seems requires enormous effort for her to read more than a few sentences at a time. Daddy thinks that it is more frustration that she can't just rattle them off with ease. We've been reading to her as well (she's into the Boxcar kids series) She really enjoyed doing a couple of "paper bag book reports" on books she read to us, though Matthew did keep stealing the items she wanted to put in her bag to present to Daddy... We're also working on storytelling - Auntie Karen introduced us to a cool app called "Toontastic" which Elizabeth really loves. So far her stories are mostly about cats and trains and owners being sad when the cat gets squished by the train. Don't ask me why, because I don't know.


Memorization: We asked Elizabeth to learn three poems this summer, to be recited either to family or on the stage at the museum of Civilization. She really wanted to visit the museum, so she agreed to try the stage but a natural born actress she is not. After watching her agonize for a while, I dragged her on stage once there were no strangers in the room (except for one really annoying guide who clearly had his own ideas about what Elizabeth "should" do in the theatre and kept interrupting us to try to get Elizabeth to dress up. Sigh). Anyway, we both dressed up and I went on stage too (because clearly she would have run off again like a frightened rabbit immediately without Mommy's moral support). And then she whispered "The three little kittens" in the tiniest whisper ever, as quickly as possible. We did it again backstage away from prying eyes on video. She was marginally louder. We let her recite the next poem at home.


Science: Elizabeth and Daddy have been working through a series of simple science experiments with Elizabeth that we'd dug up for potential home schooling group lessons in short chunks. The chunks tend to build on each other and we've been trying to get Elizabeth to draw connections between the lessons.  For example we talked about simple machines (making it easier to do things), about air (how it is there even if we can't see it) and then about moving air with fans (simple machines moving air).  Elizabeth has been enjoying both the lessons and the "Daddy time" raving to mommy about how she got to do x and y with daddy and how wonderful it was. We realized that she actually hasn't spent much time one on one with Daddy since Matthew was born and apparently she's been missing this.


Mommy and Elizabeth do science experiments too, but ours are all designed to talk about the scientific method and tend to run over several days. A favourite was the vinegar bath for an egg. It got much bigger and squishy. Turns out it also explodes if squeezed with enough vim. We've also managed to turn one caterpillar into a moth this summer, and another into a corpse...


Penmanship: I asked her if there was anything in particular she wanted to learn this summer. I was quite surprised when she demanded to learn how to do "joined up writing". But she was very determined and so I ordered a how to write cursive book that had been recommended by a couple folk in our local homeschooling group "Handwriting without Tears". Lots of helicopters and monkey bars are involved, to our great amusement. Elizabeth's handwriting is becoming surprisingly legible, though her spelling is still creative enough that we usually require "translation"!

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July 14, 2014
Minions
The kids are getting old enough that not only can they pick the garden, they can do the dishes after supper too! The girls did all the washing!
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