Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dirty Socks

This month Maya's school held an oratory competition. She was a finalist chosen from her class to go on to perform her piece in front of the school. Maya did very well and won a bronze medal! We are very proud of her.

Students in the primary grades were given poems to memorize and perform for the competition. Maya's poem was "Dirty Socks" by Bruce Lanksy. She spent so much time practicing the poem that Ben learned it just from hearing his big sister rehearse.

          Dirty Socks by Bruce Lansky
          My socks were very dirty
          So I washed them in the lake.
          It wasn't long before I knew
          I'd made a big mistake.

          The water changed from clear to mud,
          Then fumes began to rise.
          And soon a cloud of air pollution
          Covered up the skies.

          When bullfrogs started croaking
          And ducks began to quack,
          Some campers started chanting
         "We want our clean lake back!"

          I've got a pile of dirty socks,
          I'm in an awful bind.
          I guess I'll have to bury them.
          I hope the worms won't mind!

Here is Maya performing the poem and showing off her medal:

Here is Ben performing the poem he learned by ear:

I asked Ben and Maya this morning if they knew how I got so lucky to have TWO kids as awesome and smart as they are. Maya said it was because I have such a wonderful husband. Yup, it's definitely due to the guy who spins stories about child-eating dragons. Whatever the reason is, the fact remains those two munchkins are awesome and they're mine.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Dad Stories

One of the innumerable tasks of fatherhood is to impart knowledge to your children: teach them about the world and how to behave within it. Dads are bottomless wells of expertise. They seem to know how to do anything, build anything, fix anything. For a young child, Dad = superhero.

Safe homes for spotted owls

My own Dad is exactly that. He wired our childhood home to have a phone and stereo speaker hookup in pretty much every room. He taught us all about computers back in the days of Commodor e. He built us our own rollerskates out of old trucks and Chuck Taylors. I forgot just how smart he is when I was between the ages of 13 and 20, but since then I have remembered just how resourceful he is. When I was 22, I received a stacking washer-dryer set. For the life of me, I couldn't figure out how to install the set in the storage closet of my apartment. My dad arrived with just his toolbox and within minutes he had McGuyvered the set securely in the space. With this kind of knowledge and ability, why would I question him when I was a kid and he told me the red and white power line marker balls are homes for endangered species of birds?

Yeah, I believed that one until I was well into adulthood.
Prosperity lantern
aka Boy Eating Dragon Home
Dads seem to take great joy in pulling the wool over their innocent children's eyes. Last summer Eric and I took the kids to our favourite sushi restaurant for one last meal before moving to Saskatchewan because really, how fresh is that sushi going to be in the prairies? Our kids love sushi, so a trip to Sushi Osaka is usually an enjoyable excursion. This particular afternoon, however, Benjamin was not in any mood to sit. I pulled out all the tricks from my purse: Hotwheels, crayons, juggling sharp knives. Nothing was working. The two year monster sweetheart could not be dissuaded from jumping on Mom, standing on his chair, or climbing under the table. In a moment of "brilliance" Eric pulled out a dad story and told Ben that the decorative red lanterns contained dragons that would come out and eat little boys who weren't sitting nicely on their chairs. Nothing says family time like a terrifying story of being gobbled up by a fierce dragon.

This past week Maya did a great job of preparing Ben for Easter. She told him both the biblical story and the Easter Bunny story in an attempt to get him excited about the upcoming holiday. However, Ben couldn't quite grasp the idea of a bunny rabbit sneaking into our house and leaving us chocolate treats. So Maya enlisted her dad's help and asked Eric to google a picture of the Easter Bunny to show Ben. And what does a kind, loving father google to show his son the Easter Bunny?

A kind, loving father googles Donnie Darko.

Here comes Peter Cottontail
Hopping down the terror trail

Poor Ben was not looking forward to Easter. He took a look at the images Eric pulled up, turned to me, and said in his sweet, little 3 year old voice "oh, no thank you, Easter Bunny. I no like Easter Bunny. Easter Bunny too creepy." I'd have to agree with that appraisal.

It took us all week to convince Ben that the Easter Bunny was actually a cute, fuzzy bunny not a creepy, terrifying, evil rabbit who likes to go to the movies. On Easter morning, Ben discovered the Easter Bunny had brought both he and his sister lots of chocolate as well as some bubbles, sidewalk chalk, marigold seeds, and a set of elbow pads, knee pads, and bicycle gloves. "Mommy, I like Easter Bunny. Easter Bunny not too creepy anymore."

And yet he insists on wearing all that safety gear at all times.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Parent-Teacher Interviews

Recently we attended Parent-Teacher Interview night at Maya's school. This is the evening where we go and listen to other adults tell us what a sweet, quiet, well-behaved, and brilliant daughter we have. Luckily for Eric and I, Maya's school does this twice a year. It's nice to have an evening like this tip the behaviour scale in Maya's favour. It more than makes up for the sassy attitude she cops at home.

Maya's classroom teacher is wonderful. She's sweet, kind, but very firm with Maya. She shared some of Maya's writing with us, which included one particularly sweet drawing of Eric and Maya on a "date" at Tim Horton's. Maya's attention to detail was remarkable: Dad was dressed in camo shorts, a black t-shirt, and a backwards baseball cap.

Her teacher went on to tell us all about what a great student Maya is. She told us how she relies on Maya to the "caboose" of the line when the class walks down the hall. Maya is quick to keep the other kids in line, telling the teacher when the arrive at their destination who was talking, running, or pushing. We had a good laugh at this, because we have long referred to Maya as our little hall monitor. She is sure to let us know when someone else breaks the rules!

"Ha ha ha, that's great! But does she have any friends?" I asked. I'm picturing Maya as an annoying little bossy pants, barking orders at her peers. Mrs. D assured me that she does, in fact, have lots of friends. She's never alone at play time and all the kids want to play with her.

After we met with her classroom teacher, Eric and Maya wandered upstairs to find her reading teacher while Ben and I popped into the pre-K classroom to check things out. Maya's school starts pre-K at 3.5 (which Ben will be in the fall) and I wanted to know how to get him enrolled.

We walked into the pre-K room Ben's eyes got very large. The toys and books and puzzles were a little overwhelming, I think. He kept turning around and taking a step towards one thing and then stop and see something else and start heading in another direction. He finally settled on the kitchen and got to work making soup with a whole chicken with a side of scrambled eggs and pizza. Looks like all the time spent watching Food TV are paying off.

The pre-K teacher was lovely and encouraging. She watched Ben play and asked him a few questions. She said he was a very cute, sweet little boy. I can't say I disagree with her. We put Ben's name on a list for her to call when they open up registration in a few months. Keep your fingers crossed that he gets a spot in the class!

It took some skill to get Ben out of that magical room, but the lure of real cookies down the hall finally did the trick. We stopped to chat with a woman at a display about ordering boxes of fresh, local fruits and vegetables. I was asking her questions about the program when it all came crashing down.


Ben had crawled underneath the table while I was talking to the woman and one table leg buckled, sending her perfectly arranged display of pamphlets, information, photographs, water, and veggies sliding to the hallway floor. Luckily Ben wasn't hurt. He was just so embarrassed that all he could do is stand there and cover his face. The woman wasn't concerned about her display, thankfully, she wanted to make sure Ben was ok. And he was. Physically. Once I got everything picked up, dried off, and rearranged I was able to get the poor little guy out of the scene of the crime and talk to him. He came around once he saw the cookies. I'm fairly sure he immediately forgot all about the table incident. Cookies have a similar amnesia-inducing effect on me in that I immediately forget how many I've eaten.

It wouldn't be a Whitbread family outing without at least one thing being broken and somebody in tears. I'm just glad it wasn't me for once.