Category Archives: baby

Something Sunny

It’s raining and cold. It feels like summer will never start.  There were a couple of days where we had some nice weather but it never lasts long.  The rain just ends up coming back and making things soggy, cold and depressing.

So with all the gloom around me, I figured I would share something to make you smile. It makes me smile whenever I think about it.  It is something just inherently adorable and my kid did it, so it’s even cuter because of him.

Mats: “Mommy, can you tell me the story of Secure Onion?”

Me: “Who?”

Mats: “You know.  Secure Onion.”

Me: “Mats, I have no idea who Secure Onion is.”

Mats: “Yes, you do.  It’s the really tall guy with the blue ox.”

Me: “PAUL BUNION!”

Mats: “Yea, that guy.”

Say No To Flash Cards

At the meeting with Mats teachers, they suggested some ways to incorporate word games into Mats daily life. It is to help him recognize letters and numbers and encourage him to write them in the right order and direction. They didn’t recommend flash cards because they didn’t feel Mats would respond well to having letters flashed in front of his face. Mats teachers wanted me to get creative when it came to word games because Mats tends to get bored so easily and trying to cram in a list of words into a short period just won’t work.

They gave me a lot of suggestions and I picked a few to start out with. We started playing the games almost right away and I have found that both boys have benefitted. I can adapt either game into French and English and for Maks, I have even started incorporating math into the games.

Here are two of their favourites. These work really well for either English or French, not so much for math.

Memory:

This one seems obvious but it never occurred to me to give it a try until Mats teachers suggested it. To make the game I repurposed some old business cards. I flipped the cards over to the blank side and wrote out one word on the back of each card. Then I wrote out the entire list again on another set of business cards so there were two pairs of each word. When we play, I pick out 4 to 10 pairs of words and mix them all up. Then I lay the cards, word side down, on a table and the search for matches begins. All the participants have the say the word they flip over and when they make a match. If Mats doesn’t recognize the word, then we spend some extra time sounding out the letters but otherwise the game moves along quickly. Both boys are competitive and they each want to find the most matches so it is in Mats best interest to learn the words as fast as he can so he can beat his brother.

Lego Blocks:

This one requires a large amount of Legos, which I have stored in what feels like a bazillion boxes all over my house. The Lego blocks take a while to set up but once it is all put together, Mats can spend some quiet time putting them together. You use one long piece of Lego for the entire word then Mats has to put the word together using smaller pieces of Lego. It’s a Lego word puzzle. It helps Mats learn to sound out letters and put words together but he can also work on family words. This game best suits his personality, he gets to put things together and he gets some quiet time. Both of those things are important to him.

So far, I see the games helping Mats. He is getting better, the backwards letters and numbers are still there but they are getting to be less frequent. I am hoping this gives him a more exciting perspective on reading and writing.

Excelling with difficulty

At the beginning of the month, Mats teachers called Millhouse and I in for a parent/teacher interview. They had some things they wanted to discuss with us about the way Mats was progressing.

Before I go on, I should be clear on something, when it comes to formal education Mats has been able to adapt and thrive faster than his brother ever did. Maks took several years before he became comfortable with the elementary school curriculum. He and I spent many nights working through his difficulties and he is now very comfortable with learning in a school environment. There are still some times when we do need to step up the work he and I do at home but for the most part, he is doing leaps and bounds better than he was.

With all that being said, Mats has never had the difficulties his brother had. In fact, he is the opposite. He has always excelled so getting a call from the teachers asking us to come wasn’t something we expected. We ended up arranging to meet Mats teachers after school on a Friday. They were super nice but they presented a very unique situation. Mats is displaying all the signs of a gifted child. He is excelling in just about every subject, orally, but when it comes to the written word, he is far below where he needs to be. This isn’t something new to me. I have been noticing Mats writes his words as the mirror image of what he sees. It is not just backwards words and numbers, the entire words are a reflection of what is written in front of him. His teachers suspect that along with being gifted, Mats also has a learning disability. According to them, it is not uncommon for a gifted child to also have learning difficulties especially given Mats medical background*.

Now Mats is still really young and his troubles could go away in time. His teachers were quick to say there is a possibility he does not have a learning disability, he could just be bored and is not applying himself. He could be writing mirror images because writing the words as he sees them could be too boring. They want to wait until the summer before they test him. They have suggested some things I can do at home to see if it helps him improve and if he moves up by June, they will forego the testing. However, if he only makes a small amount of progress, then they will go ahead with the testing and make a plan on how to proceed next year.

Mats is also aware there is something going on. Since the meeting with his teachers, he has been trying harder. The mirror image words and numbers are still there but he is trying very hard to write what is written in front of him, some times are easier than others. He doesn’t know exactly what his teachers said but he is trying his best.

I’ll let you know what happens in June.

*When I pregnant with Mats, I was told there would be a 1 in 4 chance Mats would have Downs Syndrome or some sort of delay. Things weren’t developing as it should and as a result, I should expect Mats to experience some difficulties that most other children don’t experience.

Prayer for March Break Camp

March Break is officially upon us. This year the boys are in camp for the week. The boys don’t always go to camp for March Break. In fact, this is Mats first year at a March Break camp. Maks has gone to camp a couple of times but I normally would have opted out of March Break camp. At my old job, I had so many holidays I would normally just take March Break off and forego the camp experience but with this new job I can’t do that just yet.

So it was off to camp they went. They were both super excited and nervous. Camp is a big deal and a bit overwhelming, especially for Mats. I wanted things to go well so I uttered a little prayer to universe as they left for camp. Now let the record show I am not overly religious. For the most part, I am bad at adhering to my religion. I believe the universe will give us what we put out but sometimes asking for some help isn’t a bad thing.

This morning I asked the fates and faeries to let them have fun, to let nervousness subside quickly, and to have the others kids see how awesome they are while they recognize how awesome the others kids are.

I know most likely all those things will happen anyway but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

More than they will ever know

The boys and I were watching TV. I can’t remember exactly what we were watching so it was probably a ridiculous cartoon or maybe it was MacGyver or maybe it was some sort of cooking show, that’s not the important bit. The important bit was we were all watching and having little side conversations as we went along, you know.

So on comes a commercial and it has Ashley Graham* in it. I think she is just really pretty and tend to say things like that out loud and this is what happened.

Me: “She’s just so pretty”.

Maks: “Who?”

Me: “The lady on the commercial. Her name is Ashley and I think she is just so pretty.”

Maks: “You are so weird, mommy.”

Me: “Why? I can think people are pretty.”

Maks: “I know that! But you never always miss the point.”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Maks: “You’re really pretty too but you never say you’re really pretty. You always say other people are pretty but you are just as pretty as that lady on TV.”

Mats: “Yeah mommy, you are pretty like that lady. You just never say so.”

And as quickly as it started, the conversation ended and they moved on to using paperclips to save the world or something equally as random but they totally changed my night.

I may not always believe I am pretty but I know for sure that I have the most awesome boys.

*if you don’t know who she is, google her.

The “Talk” or lack thereof

According to the radio this morning, around six years old is when you start having the “talk” with your child. Apparently six is the age when all the questions start and so for most parents they are forced to start talking to their child about their bodies and the changes they can expect.

This was all news to me. I have yet to have the talk with either of my boys and Maks is almost ten. Neither of them have approached me about the topic and because I am the biggest prude known to man; I haven’t brought it to their attention either. There are times when, in passing, they will talk about getting chest hair or something similar but there has been no real discussion about puberty, body changes or anything along those lines. I know the school curriculum has already started touching on some of the topics but I think as valuable as sex education is in school, I should be part of the discussion with them as well.

I am wondering if I should have the talk with the boys, just pick a day and time and have little conversations with them. To be perfectly honest, I am not terrified of having the talk. I am a scientist by nature and I can talk about the biological changes with no issues. I just haven’t really bothered with it because they don’t seem interested in it and I don’t want them to just ignore me because they really don’t want to talk about it.

The rational part of my brain knows that talking about it with them before they start talking to their friends is a good thing. I can make sure they have the information they need before the speculation from their friends starts filling their heads with nonsense but getting started is the hard part.

Life in bullet points

Sheesh things have been busy and not busy and hectic and not hectic.  I’ve been busy and lazy and then busy and lazy some more.  With all the stuff going on blogging just falls lower and lower on the list of things to do.  Blog stuff happens and I say I am going to blog about it and then real life happens and I have to push off the blog post to another day and when I actually have time to write it then it really doesn’t apply to my life anymore so I decide not to write it because it won’t convey the emotion I want it to convey.

So this is my attempt to catch up on a month’s worth of happenings in a short post.  Most of it is relevant to things going on right now but a couple may have passed by already but were a pretty big deal.

·         Mats lost his first tooth.  It was one of those teeth where it just popped out of his mouth while he was at school, no coaxing required.  There was no need to tie a piece of string around his tooth and slam a door or anything crazy.  There was no real drama associated with him losing his tooth which I am happy about.  The tooth fairy showed up like she was supposed to and he was happy and so was I.  Sometimes losing you first tooth can be traumatic and other times it is easy.  This was an easy one.

·         Maks participated in his first judo tournament.  He came in second in his weight division.  Now there were only two kids in his weight division so they were both guaranteed trophies but he still walked away with something and that was huge.  He was nervous at first but as the fights progressed he got more confident.  All in all this was a good learning experience for him.  He says he wants to do more tournaments because he thinks he will do better next time.  And that’s exactly what I am going to do for as long as he wants to.

·         Cold weather is upon us.  We have had our first polar vortex of the winter and about 25 cms of snow (spread over two different snow storms).  I remember now just how much I dislike shoveling snow and it’s only mid-December.  It’s not going to be an easy winter like last year.  Things are cold and they are probably going to stay that way for a long time which really sucks for me.

·         Keeping in the theme of cold weather; we have started our cold weather activities a lot sooner this year than in previous years.  We have already been sledding already and only experienced a few sledding related accidents; the sled broke while Maks was barrelling down the hill, and both boys were taken out (by the same kid) as they were hustling to get out of the way at the bottom of the hill and Millhouse fell down the hill trying to save the boys from getting wiped out (by the above mentioned kid) but other than all those things, we survived.  And only after just an hour and a half outdoors.  Heaven knows what will happen when we spend an entire day outdoors.  Next on our list of winter things to tackle is skating.  A friend of ours had some spare skates so I have skates now which means I will be going on the ice with the boys and Millhouse this year.  Pray for me.  Like seriously, say a prayer I don’t break something or fall and bruise my tailbone or anything.  I haven’t skated since I was 16 and at my best, I wasn’t particularly good at it and at my worst I was pitifully horrible.  So yikes, I am going to give it another go so I can at least say I have gone skating with the boys.

·         It’s almost Christmas and we are pretty much ready.  The tree is up and the house is mostly decorated.  Our nativity scene is MIA somewhere in the garage so this year we will just have to go without one.  For the most part we have presents for everyone and the majority of them are wrapped (woo to the freaking hoo!).  For us this level of prep is some kind of miracle.  Normally by now Millhouse and I are scrabbling trying to decorate or get things wrapped for people or remembering last minute gifts we need to pick up.  But I am pretty certain that is not happening this year (fingers and toes crossed).

And that brings you to now.

I am not promising to blog more but I will definitely try.  I am off for a week so maybe I can actually get some writing done.  Again, no promises.

I left the room for, like, 5 seconds

fullsizerender1

I saw this post on Scary Mommy’s Instagram feed and it made me chuckle.  Back in the day, I would have all sorts of stories about how I left the room for like 2 seconds and then things would go awry; cupboards would get broken into, cups would spill, sticky things would get stuck to things they should never have touched.  It hasn’t happened in a long time and that’s why seeing that post me smile.  I am past this part of motherhood.  The boys are older now and they still get into things but it is not like it used to be.  I am getting better at predicting their behaviours.  So when they are about to do something wicked, I am ready.  I know what to do and most time I can cut them off at the pass.

Most of the time.

Last night, Mats totally threw me for a loop.  When it comes to my kids, Maks is the one that generally gets in trouble.  He has the stronger personality and when he decides he is going to do something, he goes off and does it.  He deals with the consequences later.  Mats isn’t like that.  He is the quieter of the two.  He may come up with ideas but he won’t act on it until he has thought about it for a long time and weighed the consequences.  He usually won’t act until he knows what exactly is going to happen and whether or not he wants to deal with the aftermath.

I am still not sure that what happened yesterday was a well thought out act.  I am pretty sure he just acted on impulse and I am not used to that from him.

Last night the boys and I were sitting on my bed.  It was couple of minutes until bedtime and I was finishing up clipping their nails as they watched Batman.  (The glamour just doesn’t stop I tell you.)  Everyone was getting along.  They were enthralled with their show and I was tidying up and getting ready for bed.  I swear I left the room for like five seconds and it happened.  Mats reached over and grabbed his bottle of water to take a drink.  He took a drink of water and this is where things get fuzzy.  I am not exactly sure what he is was thinking or what he was hoping to accomplish but he took his bottle of water and emptied the contents on Maks’ head as he sat watching Batman totally oblivious to what Mats was doing.  Maks’ screamed and jumped out of the bed as fast as he could.  He was soaked but the majority of the bed was alright.

Now this was one of those things where it would have been funny if it wasn’t my kid that did it.  Part of me wanted to laugh when I saw Maks head and he told me what happened because it was just so unexpected and to be completely honest, it was funny.  But I couldn’t cause these kids belong to me and I can’t have my 6 year old dousing this brother with water whenever his heart desires.  So in my best mommy voice I had to lay down the law.  For the act of water dousing Mats was sentenced to ten lines of “I will not pour water on Maks’ head” required immediately.  I wanted them neat, correctly spelt and completed in twenty minutes.  This would give Maks time to dry off and get into some new clothes for bed and it would give me some time to laugh in private.

So much for knowing my kids.

Two weeks in

The boys have survived the first two *full* weeks of school.  There were no long weekend or teacher prep days in there and they had to deal with getting back into the swing of things feet first.  Our prep for going back to school didn’t work out as planned and the boys went back in a rush rather than a slow peaceful transition.  And even though I could beat myself up over that, I choose not to.  Yes, I did admonish my timing a bit but “oh well”.  It happens and they survived.  Life goes on.

The first two weeks have been different for each child.  I now know how differently my children actually are from one another and I knew not to expect Mats’ experience to be anything like Maks’ experience was.  They are just that different.

Mats first couple weeks were nowhere as traumatic as Maks were when he started grade one.  Mats’ has been going to this school for two years now, he knows where things are and he knows the staff in the office.  Even though he is the more introverted of the two boys, he is very comfortable in his surroundings and that makes a big difference.  Mats’ also has (what I like to call) “hand me down” teachers.  Both his English and his French teacher have taught Maks before so when they saw Mats name they recognized him as the little brother.  Mats’ English teacher is the summer school teacher that helped Maks master reading.  From what I remember of her, she is very patient and willing to help.  Mats’ French teacher is Maks’ grade two French teacher.  She is quiet and reserved but spends a lot of time helping the children understand what they are doing rather than just having them complete tasks.  When you are just starting to learn a brand new language this is important.  So far Mats’ only complaint is that he has way more homework now than he did in kindergarten.  And if that is the only complaint, I am good with that.

Maks’ first couple of weeks has been similar to this brother.  He thought he was getting teachers that he had had before but it turns out there are two teachers with the same name teaching the same grade (talk about confusing!) and he ended up with the teacher he didn’t know.  He is in a split class so he is getting some insight into what the older kids are doing and what will be expected of him next year.  I think this is a good thing, him not so much.  He really likes his English teacher.  She is very modern and doesn’t believe in homework so they will not be getting daily homework this year.  They will get major projects but no tasks to complete at home on a regular basis.  She created a group text and she sends out updates to the parents via group messaging.  It is interesting.  I am not used to having this much information on his daily activities but I do like that she has the parents involved.

So far neither has had any major disasters and they seem to be adjusting to things with relative ease.  Hopefully the rest of the year stays just like this.

Summer So Far

So far this summer Maks has had an ear infection, a sinus infection, three unknown bruises and cut on his leg.

So far this summer Mats has had a horse fly bite (that he didn’t feel at the time but it eventually started to swell and he noticed it), an elbow to the head, a cut on his finger and one scrapped knee.

Given that we are now three weeks into summer holidays we are doing pretty good for injuries.  My children are not the most graceful creatures and tend to fall over their feet more times than I like to admit.  So when they have unlimited amounts of lightly supervised free time, it is inevitable that they are eventually going to fall over themselves or each other and get hurt.  By this point I was expecting something pretty serious to have gone down but the boys have surprised me and managed not to hurt themselves too badly.

 Now, I am not wishing bad luck onto my children but I am realistic enough to know that if it is possible they will get hurt then they will most likely end up getting hurt.  They won’t break bones or anything but falling off things, getting cuts or bruises or scratches are all highly probable occurrences especially in the summer.  There is something about the summer that just makes the boys forget to watch out for things.  

REWIND!!

So as I was writing this I was thinking to myself “I wonder if I am jinxing things by saying the boys have been having an OK summer so far”.  Then I decided to take a breather from writing the post and focus on other things.  I am back now and I can tell you that I totally jinxed the boys and the evening I started writing this post, things started to go downhill.

Once a week Maks has judo classes.  He goes in for an hour and a half and throws kids, kids throw him and they do this on and on.  He has gotten really serious about judo and he even went to class last week when he had the ear infection.*  This week was his first week back since being sick and he seems to have bounced back really well.  Because of his size he was paired with a kid two belt classes higher than he is.  This is nothing new.  The sensei likes to pair kids based on size not skill.  Which if you think about it, makes sense.  You can have a huge kid and a little kid in the same belt class and the potential for someone to get hurt is really high.  So they paired up based on size and the sparring began.  The class went as planned and nothing too crazy went down.

Until after the class.

As Maks was leaving judo, he started to throw up.  Turns out that the other kid was throwing him too hard and he kept landing on his ribs.  It was enough jostling and flipping that it got him physically ill.  This has never happened before and he was really shaken up by it.

 And not to be out done; that same night Mats started getting random headaches.  He will just be sitting there colouring or drawing or playing on his tablet and his head will just start hurting.  It hurts him so bad that he will just start crying because it hurts so much.  At first I thought he got hit on the head but he wasn’t.  I keep an eye on him at night to make sure he doesn’t have a concussion.  And if the headaches come back, I will take him to the doctor.

 *he didn’t participate in the class but he still sat on the bench and watched them practice.  He wants to show the sensei he is serious about the class and moving up in the ranks.