Monthly Archives: November 2012

Fall Concert Announcement!

Greetings, faithful orchestra groupies! It’s November, which means that yes, the Lakeshore Chamber Orchestra’s fall concert for which you have all waited breathlessly is nigh! This concert’s theme is Vive la France!, and focuses on music by French composers or music written in France.

Circle Saturday the 24th of November on your calendars. (Yes, that is this coming Saturday night.) At 19h30 in the Valois United Church in Pointe-Claire (70 Belmont Avenue, between King and Queen), the Lakeshore Chamber Orchestra will present the following works:

    Mozart: Symphony no. 31 “Paris”
    Debussy: La première Rhapsodie (guest soloist: Eric Abramovitz)
    Halevy: “Si la rigueur” from La Juive (solost: John Manning)
    Fauré: Pelléas et Mélisande suite
    Bizet: L’Arlésienne incidental music

Admission is $10 per person; admission is free for those under 18 years of age. The concerts usually last just about two hours, including the refreshment break. There are driving directions and public transport info on the church website. I usually encourage people who are vehicle-less to find someone who has a car and share the cost of the driver’s admission to the concert among them. It’s more fun to enjoy the evening in the company of others, after all. And it bears repeating that children of all ages are very welcome indeed.

High Five, Sparky!

Sparky brought home his first official report card this week.

You may remember the second-, third-, and fourth-guessing we were doing when we decided to switch him into this new French immersion school for grade two. Were we going to kill his ease of social interaction? Would all his marks slip and his self-confidence plummet? Would he grow to hate school?

Ah ha ha. Guess who improved every single grade in every single subject? (Except gym, but as long as he’s running around and having fun and listening to instruction, I’m unconcerned about that.) His overall grade in French is a bit lower, but his marks in comprehension of written and oral texts and production of written work have actually gone up. It’s his communication/speaking that has dipped and brought the overall grade down with it, but that’s completely in keeping with being measured against a different set of criteria and expectations. While he’s technically just under a passing grade in French at the moment, I couldn’t be prouder of how well he’s doing when everything is taken into account, and it will only get better. Comprehension comes before ease of communication in any new language.

We had a parent-child-teacher meeting after school on Thursday, and his teacher is just as excited as we are. He told me not to be concerned about the low mark (I assured him that I wasn’t, because the higher than expected marks in the two other French areas were a good sign of his development) and that Sparky’s achievements were pretty impressive. And when we left, Sparky told his teacher that he was going to stay in this new school for grade three — “Right, Mama?” he said, turning to me with a sudden anxiety. “Oh, yes,” I said. “I think we can guarantee that.” That, plus the illustrated page for one of his projects on which he’d written ‘I love school’ and his ongoing positive attitude and excitement about going to school speaks volumes to me about the fit of programme with his nature and educational needs.

It’s always nice to be told that it’s a joy to have your child in a class, and that his expression, creativity, sense of humour, willingness to work hard, and general happiness are pleasurable to behold. His teacher pointed out a couple of art projects in which Sparky thought outside the box and came up with slightly unusual ways to achieve a goal, and said that his fine motor skills and sense of building in three dimensions were advanced for his age (no surprise there). Sparky showed me his “portfolio” (a binder of his work so far) and I could very clearly see the evolution in his comprehension, his understanding of French grammar, and the vast improvement in his printing. He’s started learning cursive, too, and his little practice lines of cursive letters are adorable. In English he’s writing one-page stories, and they clearly have beginnings, middles, ends, are exciting, clear, and leave no loose ends or introduce no new characters or plot strands out of nowhere.

Today is a nice sunny ped day, and we are just back from a celebratory trip to Starbucks. We bundled Owlet up in her new ski jacket with the owls on it (pictures eventually!), put her in the stroller, and walked over. I had promised him a hot chocolate with whipped cream and a cookie. And I got a creme brûlée latte, because I work hard supervising and guiding his homework with him, and I deserved a treat, too. Last time we did this Owlet was still only a faint hope, and Sparky could only finish half his cocoa. Today Sparky finished every last drop of his chocolate, and Owlet sat on one of the chairs and grabbed for everyone’s drinks. (I fed her whipped cream from my latte and Sparky gave her a couple of bites of his cookie. She let it be known that it was Not Enough and next time things had better be different, though we do this so rarely that next time she’ll probably be drinking her own cocoa.)

Owlet: Fifteen Months Old!

I am astonished at how quickly Owlet is changing. I know, I know, I shouldn’t be, seeing how she’s practically a different baby every day, and we’ve gone through this with Sparky… but wow. Suddenly we have a little girl.

We have an accident-prone little girl, to be honest. Owlet tripped over a mote of dust and drove the corner of a baseboard into the centre of her forehead last Friday night. Blood literally pouring down a child’s face onto a white shirt does interesting things to one’s focus. She’s mostly fine now. It’s her second head trauma this week. (The first one wasn’t this bad; she whacked the edge of her eye socket on the edge of the coffee table, bending down to pick up a cup. It split and bled, but wasn’t half as bad as this one.) HRH said she’s not allowed to walk ever again. If she’d been a bit worse we’d have taken her to emergency, but she seems fine apart from the gash. It possibly could have used 1-2 stitches, but waiting forever at the hospital and putting her through that would have been much more stressful for everyone. Owlet was her usual perky self half an hour after it happened, so things seem okay. I had forgotten how badly head wounds bleed. And Owlet hates cold things put against her face; she gets very angry. At least the cold washcloths and frozen packs distract her from the actual trauma. And we discovered that she has a latex sensitivity, so now she has the slightly curved gash in the middle of her forehead plus a raised red irritated circle around it from the band-aid we covered it with. HRH says it looks like a Do Not Enter sign. Let’s hope the baseboards pay attention next time.

In the less-than-dramatic column of achievements, Owlet adores brushing her teeth, climbing stars (and can do it very well now, so well that Sparky will let her climb them alone with him, much to our heart attack-inducing surprise when we discovered that), and helping unload the laundry basket and put her clean diapers away. She can throw together her stacking rings like a pro. While crayons are still too tempting to chew, she has discovered plain pencils, and loves to draw with one on the promotional pads of paper we get every couple of months in the mailbox from our local real estate office. Watching me draw cats and fish and houses fascinates her.

We tried a series of new sippy cups, because she was hauling away on the valve ones we’d been using since she was about eight months old and working so hard that I was envisioning disaster when we started giving her open cups. Three different kinds later, it turns out the cheap take n’ toss style are the winners. Although the straw cups aren’t a total loss; she just needs to remember not to tip them up like the other cups. They’re good for the car.

I am very impressed at how well she follows direction. “Switch the toy to your other hand and put this hand through your coat sleeve” was followed without hesitation the first time I said it. “Time to get your boots and coat on so we can go get Sparky” is followed by her bringing her boots to the door and plunking herself down in my lap, pointing up at her coat, and saying “Go, go, go” while trying to turn the doorknob afterward. It’s fascinating to watch her figure things out, too. She can drag things around and climb on them to reach higher. (This one is somewhat disconcerting.) She tried to squeeze through the cat door in the gate that blocks off the stairs to the attic office the other week, too, but got stuck with one arm, her head, and part of her torso through it.

She has started waving hello to people. She wanders around the schoolyard under the trees where we wait to meet Sparky, and waves cheerily at the other parents. She ran right up to a pair of twins around three years old yesterday and gave them each a handful of dead leaves. Slowly she’s starting to understand that it makes more sense if you wave goodbye before or while someone leaves so they can hear you. She loved Halloween; you could practically see her thinking, “Wait — we walk up to someone’s door, ring their bell, smile at them, they give us colourful things and then talk to us? Bring it on!” We don’t have photos of her because we were rushing from one thing to another, but we intend to dress her up again this coming weekend and take pictures of her then.

Her lower molars are coming in, and are currently huge swollen bumps in her lower jaw. She’s quick to grizzle these days, and has been erupting into small but fierce tantrums when something is taken away from her or she is told she cannot have something that she wants. She’s wearing size 24 months or 2T clothes in general, though we like her in 3T jumpers and dresses and her pants need to be at least 2-3T to accommodate the diapers, and size 5 shoes.

New words are showing up. She loves to eat “chzz” and drink “jsss”, and tell us to “go go go!” A “fsssh” is the first animal she says the name of instead of saying the sound it makes. (Possibly because “bubble bubble bubble” is hard for a fifteen-month-old to say?) Food is “nyum nyum nyum,” and after lunch she goes to the gate at the basement stairs and asks to watch “ss ss sse” (or Sesame Street, for those of you unacquainted with our daily routine). And “No,” is a big new one, usually said while shaking her head. Unfortunately it isn’t always accurate, because she sometimes says “no” and shakes her head when she actually means “yes,” which isn’t part of her vocabulary yet.

She points to steer us when we carry her, and brings books to us excitedly and jabs her finger at the text to make us read it. Her current favourite book is The Pigeon Has Feelings Too by Mo Willems. I read the bus driver’s request for the pigeon to show his happy face, then I look at her, and she draws herself up importantly and says, “Nnno!”, proud that she’s “reading” the next page where the pigeon says, “Never!” And she loves to “ticka ticka ticka” people and cats, which makes all of us laugh. She has developed a somewhat menacing toddler chuckle, which we call her evil chipmunk laugh, low and completely at odds with her cheerful, innocent persona. We all laugh whenever we hear it, which makes her laugh more, which… you get the idea.

(For comparison, here’s Sparky’s fifteen-month post.)

LATER: We went to her 15-month checkup. The good news is that her weight is beginning to level off, and she’s only at the 95th percentile instead of the 97th. (Are you laughing? I did.) She weighs just over 27 pounds. No wonder my lower back hurts! She’s now 32.5 inches tall, too. That’s still 97th percentile. Yikes. Well, this all explains the 2T clothes she needs to be wearing…