The pages are still blank, but there is a miraculous feeling of the words being there, written in invisible ink and clamoring to become visible. ~Vladimir Nabakov

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Good Deeds

I found myself doing only what an honest person would.  Honestly, there was no other choice.  As we were leaving the arena from my son's practice, my girl went and picked up an iPhone she found underneath one of the seats.  Those things are not cheap!  I turned it on to see if there is any face (image) I could recognize, phone number I could call, etc.  Nothing!

As the place was still quite crowded, I stood against the wall and observed the people walking by.  I saw one lady that looked distressed and before I had the chance to approach her she was gone out of my sight.  I thought about returning it to their lost and found but there was nobody in the office.  I continued to stand there and watched the people and that same lady walked by again, frantically looking through her purse.  I just knew in my gut that this phone belonged to her.

I walked up to her and said.  "Excuse me, did you loose an .... "  I didn't even have a chance to say it she said a phone & got all glossy eyed with suppressing tears.  She grabbed my hand at the elbow & held on to me thanking me so much for totally making her day.  She said she felt sick to her stomach thinking that she lost it.  I told her that my daughter found it and we hoped that we could return it to the rightful owner.

As I was leaving the arena, this beautiful peaceful feeling came over me that I did indeed save someones day and there isn't a better feeling in the world then that!

I find myself doing good deeds at least once a day and sometimes they feel simply amazing.


Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Private Schools Vs. Public Schools

I love my kids more then anything.  They are my life, my future, my everything.....

Is it that selfish of me to only want what is best for them, only the brightest future they could possibly have?

We have recently toured a private school to evaluate our options and get a little more insight, if this is in fact what we thought it could be.  The information given to us about this one specific private school, left us with high hopes and confirmed that this would indeed be such a great thing for our kids. We loved the school and absolutely everything about it.  Upon our leaving after the private tour and after all our questions were addressed and answered, I suppressed joyful tears of this great desire for my kids with such a high purpose and correct intentions to attend this new school.

For me as a parent it's been difficult watching my little girl since grade one give all her hardest efforts to read and write, only to have such an unpleasant experience with a former teacher in grade 1 that I believe it could have potentially scarred her.  She was/is such a smart kid and while she knew her reading material, it wasn't recognized fully, the teacher was always on her back and holding her a level below what I felt she achieved.  In a way I felt as if the teacher herself was the bully that I hated.  This teacher went as far as ensuring Kendra received her only "C" grade for reading in grade 1 while all her marks were sooo good.  I think it went sort of down hill from there.  Grade two, couple of more of those "C's" crept in and now enrolled in grade 4 I am so worried of what will come.

My son - that's another story.  He's enrolled in grade two and he can barely write, with a sloppy chicken scratch and he honestly looks confused when he writes.  As a parent there is only so much I can do with my kids.  I trusted the system that when they are in the school for 6 hours at a time, they are actually learning something significant.  I haven't seen one test come home from grade one, not one spelling test, math test, nothing.  My concerns were voiced and I was reassured that he's doing fine and his marks were very good in fact better then my daughters at his age which was a total shocker to me because my girl was much more advanced and cerebral, but while I was worried, I knew that one day sooner then later something had to be done.

Speaking in regards to the curriculum with multiple teachers I was told that the standards & expectations have been raised by the education standards and are so high that in-fact a kid to get an "A" would nearly have to be a genius.  A kiddo with above & beyond comprehension, knowledge and self applications that gives 200%.  I was also assured that my kids "B's" were amazing marks and almost like (my old days) "A's".   This made me so uncomfortable.  From many angles.  How can these kids strive for the best when they give it their best and it is still not good enough?

My husband and I have discussed putting our kids in private school many times for few years now.  With over 2 years wasted on a family estate battle between us and my husband's older greedy siblings, we've realized that time is so precious and our kids are growing up so fast.  Nothing like the present to refocus, refinance and redirect our efforts to help and guide our kids into the brightest, most opportunity filled future we could possible give them.

With my research and obvious knowledge of the drastic cuts of provincial funding to education, I honestly think that more parents are turning into private schooling for their children.  I question, is this the right choice?

One of the main reasons for our research of private schooling was the bullying that happens in the public and catholic schools.  They say that they have zero tolerance but that is just plain "bull" no pun intended.  Nothing has ever been addressed, things are swept under the rug, parents are not informed and while everything maintains on the surface after the hush-hush takes place, the only people that suffer the consequences are the little people closest to our hearts.  My son and daughter both, are victims of bullying and their form, to the best of my knowledge was not severe like some other poor kids I know.  And, my kids happen to attend a catholic school because I wanted God to be part of their daily lives.

I'll be damned if I let some punk push my kid around while I let my child go to school trusting the authorities there to set the guidelines and where I feel my kids are safe.  At what point do we say enough is enough?

According to the studies, private schools experience lower bullying, fighting, theft, drug use and racism.  I could totally believe this.  Private schools put you as a parent through a tour, full and detailed interview process, asking personal and financial questions, and then decide if your kids will be enrolled.  Public schools do not do this.  However, I still don't trust this system fully even with private schools.  After all, our kids are taught to make choices and every student has individual family situations outside of school.

Another discouraging factor that plays a huge roll for me to keep my kids in their present school is their class sizes.  With my daughter going to grade 4, I've just learned less then two weeks ago that there are 30 students in her classroom.  "30"  That's insane!  How can these teachers possibly keep up to help each student while addressing their individual needs.  Private school classes are much smaller anywhere between 10 and 20 students, while capping off at a specific number.

While private schools are expensive, the Canadian government rounds off each child's education requirement to $3,000 to attend school per year.  That's $6,000 for two kids.  Anything above this number that you pay into the private school sector is considered a donation.  With that said, this can mean a great expense to your family income especially when you have a business.  The federal and provincial combined tax credit rate is anywhere between 30-40% depending on your donation amount.  This is huge!  Nothing like receiving a hefty tax return only to reinvest back into the following year.  I know that we will find a way to make this work.  After all, some of the best decisions we make are some of the toughest.

My addressed concerns were:  school curriculum, behaviour tolerance, values, learning/teaching methods, teacher screening methods, staff education levels, school books, belief in God, conduct and behaviour, bible studies, linguistic studies, punishments/consequences enforced in school, freedom during breaks, sporting activities in and out of school, homework load, arts, music, additional teaching/tutoring if needed, costs, additional fees and extras.  I think that if there was an answer I wouldn't have liked somewhere in there with all those questions I fired at this very pleasant principal, I would not have this strong urge and desire as I do to enrol them.  I think for me, my decision has been made, it is just a matter of finalizing few details.

We picked a Christian school for our kids, not the most expensive and not the least either.  It maintains a healthy balance and values in regards to God and goodness of mankind, while enforcing education in a strict consistent yet loving manner.  The parents are part of the board and participate in the decision making process for the school.  This school strives for a high yet attainable academic standard.  The average rate for students is being 2 academic years ahead, that meaning when they leave grade 8 and get into high school, they will know most of the material up to grade 10 level.  This is phenomenal.  We were also assured that most of the students that graduate, end up on the honour-roll in high school.  Again, superb!  After one hour tour, I felt so confident this school instills values into our special little people so they grow up to be persons of integrity, well rounded character and people I know I will continue to be proud of.  There felt to be a great balance between a higher degree of discipline, education and learning standards yet higher level of recognizing and embracing the free spirit of each student.

With all that said, I think each student, teacher, school and situation is unique for everyone.  Things that work and fit for others may not work for some.  It is wise to observe your kids, know them, recognize their needs and wants, and then evaluate your decisions accordingly.

For me - the only question I have myself asking before my final decision takes place to enrol my kids in this private school is this:   "Would it be horribly selfish of me as a parent to aim to enrol my kids for a minimum of two years (which is affordable by means of financing at the present time) for them to get the BEST education they could possibly get (and I believe this school would transform my kids 360 degrees), even if I couldn't afford to do this after two years let's say due to finances or whatever, only to pull them out of a school they would thrive in, learn to love, etc.?"

That is a difficult choice to make as a parent.  I am struggling with my choice and yet I'm leaning towards giving them a piece of the pie.  For now, I'll simply believe that all things are possible with God.

Much blessings,

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Goodbye 2012 summertime

I would have to say we had the BEST summer ever.  My kids told me this hundreds of times this summer and I finally believe them.  Looking back at our amazing little adventures, it has sure been a blast.

Here are few glimpses at various random moments...

They were on a mission!!  Nothing like shopping for sweets just before the movies! lol

Da peddies & mannies for da girlies!  Kendra's party.  Phew, what a job.... lol  but I got it done.

Kendra's 9th home baked birthday cake.  

My amazing family. ♥

Feeding beluga whales at Marine Land 2012

Jake's very 1st roller coaster ride - Marine Land 2012.

Jake's 7th home baked birthday cake.
Who want's CAKE?

EVERYBODY makes friends!  lol
Jake scored 6 goals in his final 2012 soccer game, tournament/fun game.
Kendra and Jake both got to hold this bug at Science North - Sudbury 2012
At Science North - our 4D movie adventure "Forest Fire"

ok, so it was taken by a really really old man (I'm grateful), I rather have this shot then not! lol
At Niagara on the Lake - summer 2012

I think he was praying.  :) 
Kendra was sooo intrigued by the butterflies.

Espanola - she must have caught all the sunfish in the lake that day!!  LOL

At Science North - Sudbury 2012

Uncle Joe's new boat on Bass Lake.  

The kids loved the boat rides. 

Yep!!  The 3 muskateers meet again!!  Fantastic night over cards & some good old fashioned Slivovica!

It's goooooda!  haha

Tina - let me tell you something very important...........  don't ever forget lol

With swimming all summer long at our local Brant Park with a van pass that made it easy & convenient, exploring various beaches along our beautiful shore lines of Lake Erie, season’s passes to Marine Land & various trips to explore the park, overcoming fears of roller coasters, eating cotton candy, ice creams, exploring Niagara on the Lake, feeding Beluga whales & bears at Marineland, laughter at dolphin shows, petting animals at the zoo, cottage country at the stunning sunrise shore of Bass Lake in Espanola, fishing, swimming, boating, late nights, early mornings, exploring Science North in Sudbury, few evening bond fires in & out of town, spending a week with second cousins, enjoying the butterfly conservatory, eating bugs prepared for tasting at Science North, catching snakes, hiking, these were just some of our summertime adventures & memories there is just way too much to mention.

Two birthdays also filled in the gaps of the birthday summer fun & both kids got spoiled.  I love it! 
Girly night with my Kendra and 3 of her friends went to the 3D movies, manicures & pedicures, presents & her home baked butterfly cake....

Jake’s back yard slip-n-slide spider man wet slide birthday bash was filled with good friends, delicious food and of course home baked "rubik's cube" cake!  J

Somewhere in there the kids were also part of the summer camp programs one called Bug Zone & the other called Sky.  They loved their independent times during summer, making crafts, singing and for Jake, as long as they have food he is set!! LOL

Now if that wasn't enough & let me tell you it sure was - both kids’ schedules were also filled with soccer practices & games and many hours spent gardening in our beautiful and fruitful garden, biking 10-15km trails, roller blading & so much more.  Not to mention soaking up the rays & bubbles in our outdoor hot-tub.  Oh what fun!

Yes, I have to say the summer is much lived at this house but mostly outdoors.  We love the fall and winter and we are all looking forward to the snow and ice activities.