Wednesday, May 30, 2007

French Immersion Recap

Oh yeah, that was me lined up outside my son's school last week at ten after seven, so I could sign him up for French Immersion. It was snowing for God's sake. But I did it and I'm glad I did. As you may recall, I was on the fence about the thing (leaning heavily toward no to FI) and asked for help. And people offered their opinions for which I am thankful. The comments really just kept me on the fence, leaning this way or that depending on what the most recent commenter had said. But then I went to the information session the school board provides for parents considering FI. When my husband and I returned from the session, we picked up Sam from MJ's and she was shocked at how sure I was about signing Sam up for FI after being fairly firmly against it when I left for the session.

The speaker at the information session addressed my concerns and, based on the parents I met in line at the school the morning we registered, she did it for others too. It was still hard to look at factors like "cognitive development" in order to tell if my child was ready for FI, when, as I pointed out to the FI presenter, he is three. But this is the time we have to register him so we had to decide. It helped to know that the FI program was developed by anglophone parents in Quebec who wanted a way for their children to learn French. I can really see how it works because my son has been immersed in English and is learning without me stopping to explain every word to him. He just listens and figures out what it all means and then, say when his aunt is babysitting and can't figure out the DVD player, he can say "Aunt Kem, I don't really think you know much about this, do you?" And that, apparently, is how FI works. You just listen and see and learn and before you know it you're saying something insensitive to your aunt in another language.

I am confident that he will be fine with FI and I know things I should not do now, such as compare him to other kids not in FI (I shouldn't be comparing him to other kids, period--everyone is different and I hope no one is comparing me to others my age). Having said all that, if I see him uncomfortable with it in Kinderstart, I am more than willing to let someone else have his spot in the French Immersion stream. It's about him, after all.

The Newfoundland Herald

Warning, shameless self-promotion (SSP) alert:

In case you're interested, Valerie Kent was kind enough to interview me about my Arts and Letters win and you can read about it in this week's Newfoundland Herald (the Summer Fun issue). I was taken off guard by Valerie's phone call interview because I had been told not to tell anyone except family about my win. Then, days before the announcement, Valerie calls and says she wants to talk to me about it for the Herald. I didn't think I made any sense at all in the interview but she put it together so well you couldn't tell. Thanks, Valerie.

Monday, May 28, 2007

2007 Arts and Letters Awards recap and more

Phew. What a busy time it has been but now it is time to catch up and let you know some things that have been going on with me. I've been kind of saving things up.

Let's start on the writing front. This weekend I had the great honour to receive a 2007 Provincial Arts and Letters Award for Short Fiction. This was for my short story "Divided by Three" (thank you, Lori, for the perfect title). The event was held at The Rooms and 70 artists, in both junior and senior divisions, received awards in various categories. Minister Tom Hedderson was there and presented the awards in the senior division. The ceremony was wonderful with readings and musical performances. It was my first time in The Rooms and I loved it. What a gorgeous place.

My parents drove all the way in from Aspen Cove on Saturday so they could attend the A&L Awards ceremony and went home again yesterday (not even 24 hours). They had major car issues last week and the fates seemed to be conspiring to prevent them from getting here. By Friday, we had given up on having them at the awards. However, my brother and sister-in-law stepped in and insisted my parents take their car (thanks Derrick and Tammy). Mom and Dad loved the whole event, despite the trouble getting there, and I was delighted they were there, along with my wonderful husband Vince. It was a very memorable evening and, as always, our pathetic camera means that we have no decent (or even half-decent) pictures. But that's cool because I have the award (oh, and the thousand dollar cheque--maybe I should get a camera).

The Arts and Letter Awards are important because they encourage so many young artists with the junior division awards. Of course, they encourage the senior ones too but I couldn't help paying special attention to the younger award winners on Saturday night, knowing that they have such promising futures and thinking how exciting it must be to have their talents recognized at such a young age. The awards are blind judged so no one who is judging knows who has written the poem or painted the picture, or composed the music. It is based purely on merit. Also, even if you don't win, if you request it you will get an adjudication back which provides valuable (blind) feedback on your work. And there is no entry fee. It is truly a terrific thing for anyone who is interested in submitting his/her writing, visual art, or music.

Also, this month the Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council were kind enough to give me a grant to continue working on my current novel, A Few Kinds of Wrong (or,as my friend Natalie calls it, AFKOW). This is the second grant I received for AFKOW and I am so grateful to the NLAC for their support of this project.

And, as long as I'm on the subject, I'll tell you about something you'll be hearing much more about later this summer and that is that I have been invited to be on the New Voices panel at the Winterset in Summer Literary Festival in Eastport. I am a big fan of the festival so it is a huge honour to be part of it.

I celebrated my birthday on Friday and, although I was disappointed that Mom and Dad were not here because of that cursed car trouble, it was a great one. My friends, the Strident Women, had a virtual birthday party for me on Facebook and I went out to supper with hubby (thanks to MJ for babysitting). Hubby gave me a great mp3 player that I had researched and asked for. No, it is not an iPod; it is better and I'll tell you all about that at a later date.

After the awards ceremony Saturday night, my sisters-in-law were here (thanks to Sam's Aunt Kem for babysitting while we went to the awards) celebrating with me until the wee hours. My son, who has a hangover detector, decided to get up the next morning, extra-early and extra-loudly. Not good. Then later in the day, to celebrate the great month I have been having, along with my birthday, the Strident Women went out to a long brunch. Lori gave us all Strident Women t-shirts which was a huge surprise and so much fun.

Now though, it is back to reality and back to dealing with my ever-increasing to-do list. Much going on, much to be thankful for, and still much to do. No rest for the wicked.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Rabbittown Theatre needs your help

Over the past three years the Rabbitown Theatre has become a major part of the arts community. They have hosted fantastic events from both established and emerging artists. But running the theatre costs money and Aiden Flynn and his group of partners need your help with it. Although the theatre company has received some project funding, the building does not receive any operational support. This past week, the city issued a letter threatening to shut off their water due to back taxes owed. This at a time when the busy season is just starting.

Aiden says:
We are currently in arrears to the City of St. John’s for approximately $5500 and are scheduled to have our water services cut off in the next three weeks. Our current financial condition and ongoing maintenance costs will make it to impossible to meet this deadline without some quick help.

Today staff are at the Rabbittown Theatre to accept donations (suggesting $10). If you cannot make it today and would like to support this important part of our community, please send a donation along to:

The Rabbittown Theatre
106 Freshwater Rd.
St. John’s, NL
A1C 2N8

I can't make it there today but Aiden, the cheque is in the mail.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Book signing today

Crazy busy lately with no time to post. Will try to catch up soon. Just dropping in to say that I will be signing copies of this much is true at Mile One Stadium today from 2:30 to 3:30pm as part of the CLA/APLA/NLLA National Conference and Trade Show.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Alphasmart Neo batteries replaced

I've told you before about my love of the Neo. My friend Trudy tried it out and she has a major crush *. Well, I just replaced the 3 AA batteries in it. The first batteries I had to put in it since I bought it in January, 2006! Now, I don't use it every day but I sure put it through its paces.

So bravo to the Neo. You've made me love you even more.

*(I had to take this post from Trudy's old blog because I couldn't find a direct link to it on Trudy's new one.)

Monday, May 14, 2007

Late Mother's Day post

The thing about Mother's Day is that you're so busy enjoying getting spoiled that you don't get a chance for blogging and stuff. So here is my late Mother's Day post. Really, really late, in fact, since I wrote this as a column for the Independent last year but they went a different way and it never ended up being published. Keep in mind that it was written last year when he was still in a crib and now he's in a bed so mornings start differently now. But last year, for Mother's Day, I was thinking something like this:

My Day

Today is Mother’s Day so it is my day. Up until a couple of years ago, it was my mom’s day. It still is, of course. I still send a card and call her and am more appreciative than ever of her since I know what she had to put up with (although she had two children to my one, so I probably still don’t quite grasp what her reality was). But, today is my day and I get to have breakfast in bed. This is to make up for being a mom the rest of the year. For doing what is frequently called the “toughest job in the world”: being a parent (I am pretty sure there are some soldiers serving over in Iraq and Afghanistan who might argue with that one).

But here’s the truth. Here’s my little secret. I love this job and every day feels like my day. I love being with my son: the way he smiles, the opportunity to watch him become a little person, the ability to see him soak up new ideas, words and experiences like a sponge. I love how much he lights up my life. He is everything I ever wanted and didn’t know I did. Every day since my son was born has been made better because he is in my life. Well, okay, not every day. Those first few weeks of colic, postpartum depression, uncooperative breasts, and sleepless nights were rough but from then on, I’ve really enjoyed motherhood.

Every night I stand over my son’s crib and watch him sleep. It’s a Zen-like activity. His quiet breathing and peaceful slumber put me at ease. Watching him lying there so silently makes me happy to be his mom. I am thankful every single day.

Alright, not every single day, but I always enjoy him at night when he’s asleep. Most days, the vast majority, in fact, he is a joy. Most days he smiles a lot, loves being tickled, tells me about dinosaurs he has dreamt about, says things to surprise and amaze me, and generally makes being around him a wonderful experience.

Then there are the other days, the ones that make me believe that the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers is based on a true story. Those days usually start right away, as soon as the first flutters of his eyelashes signal his awakening. On those mornings, I hear a wail coming from his room, possibly accompanied with “Mommy, I want to get up now”, screamed at a decibel level I fear could cause permanent hearing damage to both of us. It is like an “uh oh” alarm, to let me know how bad my day is going to be.

From this point on during “special days”, everything I do or say will cause him to cry and say “no” loudly and fold his arms across his chest in a classic move of stubbornness (I can’t imagine where he’s gotten that from).

A typical conversation on “special days” goes:

Me: “Would you like some cereal for breakfast?”

Son: “No,” (arms folded) “I don’t want cereal.” Eyes fill with tears while lower lip extends. “No, Mommy, no cereal”.

Me: “Okay, no cereal.”
Son (wailing loudly now with huge tears dropping onto the floor. “No cereal? I want cereal. Please, Mommy, please. I want cereal”

Me (rolling eyes): “Alright, you can have cereal.”

Son: “Okay, Mommy. It’s okay. I’ll have cereal” (like he’s doing me some huge favour).

This same conversation is repeated throughout the day about any number of issues. “no clothes, mommy”, “no potty, Mommy”, “no diapers, Mommy” “no nap, Mommy”, “no crying, Mommy,” “why are you crying, Mommy?” stop crying now, Mommy” (arms folded).

But see, even on those days, there are occasional hugs, a scattered smile, a surprise “I love you, Mommy”, that sweet look he gives me that I know is only for me, and it is still a good day. Barring all that, I can go into his room at night and see his unconscious form sleeping serenely, filling me with happiness, peace and gratitude. I whisper a prayer of thanks to God each night as I stand next to my son’s crib, that this child is in my heart and in my life. I would not trade one noisy, messy, hectic, crazy moment for the childless life I had only a couple of years ago. For me, every day is my day and I am more grateful for it than I can express in mere words.

But don’t tell my husband because today is my day and I’m getting breakfast in bed. Happy Mother’s Day.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Geekster moleskine

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I am a geek and a pen/paper fanatic. In my role as stationary fanatic, I have mentioned the moleskine here a few times. And I have freely admitted my love of most things technical. So, is it any wonder that I felt a bit weak with excitement and envy when I saw this?

A hard drive disguised as a moleskine. A thing of beauty. I am much too lazy to do such a thing myself (and really, who would see a thing as cute as that underneath all the clutter on my desk anyway). But I sure admire the creativity behind it.

(From the moleskinerie)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Scheduling the kid

The strident women, were having a big email exchange about the over-scheduling of young kids and the expectations to sign the little ones up for everything. As a joke, I made up a little mock schedule for my child. Trudy suggested it should be a blog post and, ever ready to slack off and not have to write a new blog post, I agree. Here it is:

My son goes to Komputers for Kids on Mondays, his favourite part of it being the Klicking Your Way to Kindergarten where he learns all the mouse skills he needs. We leave there to go to his Darling Debaters class. I am very proud that he is particularly adept with a debating move involving folding his arms, sighing loudly, screaming NO and then stomping his foot. On Tuesdays he goes to his Chess for Toddlers session then later attends his Cooking with Preschoolers. He made a lovely quiche last week. Wednesdays, of course, is for his Pre-K Latin then his Ballroom Dancing. Thursdays we take it easy and he only attends a special group, in the morning, that tests his skills by watching him play with others. The instructors then give me customized lessons I can do to help increase his language/numerical skills. We spend the afternoon working on those skills. Fridays include another computer class, called Keyboarding for Pre-Writing Children, where he can practice many of his other lessons. It appears he can type many Latin phrases, but, since I don't know Latin, they just seem like random poundings on the keyboard to me. But the instructor says he's brilliant and that I should sign up for an Advanced Keyboarding class for only another $250. I am so very proud.

Monday, May 07, 2007

T.A. Loeffler is ascending downwards

T.A. Loeffler, has brought many of us along in her efforts to climb Mount Everest, through columns about her training, visits to schools to give inspiration to young people to climb their own Everests, and through posts about the climb on her website. Unfortunately, due to illness, she has made the difficult decision to stop the climb and begin her descent. That word, "descent" seems wrong to use about such a noble person forced to make a difficult decision due to no fault of her own. Maybe we'll say that she is ascending downwards.

Loeffler's goal has been to "inspire the young people of Newfoundland and Labrador". She wrote a letter to the youth of the province after she decided to stop and posted it on her website. In her decision to stop the climb she remains an inspiration, teaching all of us that the important thing is to try, to dream, and to give it our very best, whether we're learning how to read at 63 or taking off the training wheels at 5 or attempting to climb the world's highest mountain. You can, and should, read her updates about her journey. They are inspiring and moving and will make you want to try something new, exciting, and challenging.

Congratulations to T.A. Loeffler for making us proud, encouraging us to do our best, reminding us that sometimes we have to embrace the tough decisions we make, and for teaching us to dream big.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Seven Wonders of Newfoundland

Product of Newfoundland is looking for your nomination for the Seven Wonders of Newfoundland. I don't envy anyone having to narrow it down to seven. The whole place is a wonder to me. As always, Robert keeps the rules simple. You have fourteen days left to "nominate the special places you think every Newfoundlander should visit" then, once nominations have closed, the voting will begin. The places don't have to be natural wonders, they can be man-made as well. Check it all out at Seven Wonders of Newfoundland and submit your nomination today (or at least in the next fourteen).

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I caved and joined facebook

I caved. I was determined not to sign up for facebook, an online community where you can connect with friends and acquaintances, both old and new. The ingenious thing about facebook is that you can't do anything with facebook until you've registered. You can't go in and see who's there that you know. And it lets people invite you to facebook. So I would get an invite from someone, click on the link and be told I have to sign up first. So finally, after enough invitations, I signed up this past weekend and I haven't left the computer since. No, I am kidding. In fact I've been extremely busy with non-computer things since I signed up but have managed to spend an hour or so there. I can see how people get addicted though. When you find a friend you can click to see his list of friends and if you find someone you know in that list then you can click to see her list of friends and maybe there is someone you know there so you click... you can see where I am going here.

To start, you have to set up your own profile. You can put as much or as little as you like in your profile and then you can start looking for friends to invite to be your friend or hope that people will invite you to be their friend. Sort of like grade 8. Then there are networks you can belong to and groups you can join or set up yourself. There is also something called a poke which I am apparently too old to understand. I read somewhere that you can poke people and they can poke back if they want. What the poke means is up to you. So I poked a couple of friends, they poked me back and now this is listed on my facebook front page, asking me if want to poke them back. Since I can't write anything to them while I'm poking, I don't see the point of any more poking. Then they'd poke me back and I'd poke them back and... you can see where I am going here.

Everyone has different compartments of friends in their lives--people from work or school or from your hometown or whatever and facebook knows this so it asks you how you know each of your friends. You can find extra contacts that way. It's about finding connections and you do. The most extraordinary thing about facebook, for me, has been looking through the list of my friends' friends and finding that they know someone I didn't realize they knew. So, an old high school friend you haven't seen in years, might know someone you worked with last year. Facebook is interesting and I'll definitely drop in at least every day, but I hope I won't get addicted to it. There's enough to take up my time now. But in the time I have been writing this blog, I had a new friend request (they like me, they really like me) and someone wrote on my wall. Oh yeah, there's a "wall" on your profile page and people can write on it. So someone can write something to you and you can either write back on your wall or click on "wall-to-wall" and then your reply will go on her wall and then she could click on wall-to-wall and her response could go on your wall and can see where I am going here.

Addictive? How could that be addictive?

You are 22% Addicted to Facebook.
You are not addicted to facebook.
For you it's just another fad that you won't subscribe to.
'How Addicted to Facebook are you?' at