Blog-o! Notes from latte.ca

Mon, 21 May 2012

The Victoria Day long weekend took me by surprise this year — I didn't realize it was a long weekend until last Thursday. However, I had planned to do the thing that every other Canadian with a yard does this weekend: garden.

Saturday morning Delphine and I had decided to go yard saleing. Our original plan was to take our bikes, but then I realized that Blake goes spinning on Saturday morning, so we would have to take Cordelia with us. She still hasn't learned how to ride a bike (and seems to be in no hurry to) so that meant we had to walk.

Noramlly that would have been fine because there are usually plenty of yard sales within walking distance, but of course it's the long weekend. We only found one sale, and it didn't open until 9:00 (even though everyone knows that the universal standard yard sale starting time is 8:00). So we walked over to Bayview instead, where nothing was open except bakeries and cafes. However, on the way home someone had curbed a small collection of tiny wooden painted cats — exactly the kind of thing the girls were looking for. So they got what they wanted, and we got to keep all our money.

Delphine had her piano lesson at 10:00, and then we all went to the newly-opened Mount Pleasant outpost of Hazel's Diner. We have been diner-less since Diner 55 on Bayview closed, so we were ridiculously excited to go to Hazel's. There weren't many people there, what with it being the long weekend, but we saw two other Cody families — I think this location will do well. The food was good (not like it's hard to screw up a diner breakfast, unless you try and make it vegan or something) and I like the look of their lunch selection, too.

After Hazel's we headed home to do our homeowner penance: gardening. The girls and I had shopped for soil and plants after school on Friday (on Baba's advice, to beat the crowds and get the best selection). So while Delphine planted her planter in the front — some alliums (I think, or something similar), English daisies and sweet alyssum — Blake trimmed the hedge and I edged the "lawn". Cordelia did odd jobs like picking up twigs and fetching stuff. Then Blake mowed and Delphine weeded the strip where the creeping jenny is supposed to grow.

Then we all moved to the back where Cordelia and I planted our planters. I bought three fabric planters for our deck. I much prefer to plant planters than try and grow things in the garden, which I find anarchic and upsetting. Cordelia was assigned one fabric planter, Blake was assigned two, and I got the two wooden planters that match the deck.

Cordelia planted a geranium (red), two miniature roses (red and pink) and a gerbera daisy (yellow). I added a red geranium and a white callibrachoa to a planter which is playing host to a sage plant I put in three years ago which refuses to die and in fact grows bigger and stronger every year. In the other planter I have two geraniums (fuchsia and red), a yellow callibrachoa, a firewitch Dianthus ("Feuerhexe", because everything sounds cooler in German) and some other things which weren't labelled — I think they're also pinks. I don't believe in colour-coordinated planting.

Blake gets to plant the other two fabric planters — he wants to grow tomatoes and basil — but he hasn't bought the stuff yet.

That was the easy part. By that time the kids were sick of gardening (okay, so was I) so they went to Ursa's place to play in the sprinkler while I tackled the rest of the garden — the anarchic bit — and Blake made pizza dough.

When we moved in to this house the garden was a standard garden with recognizable beds and a bit of lawn. Since then the lawn and the beds have kind of melded together, with lots of weeds to add colour and texture. My gardening consists of weed whacking twice a year to keep the weeds and overgrown lawn below knee height.

This time I thought, since it was so early in the year, I would be able to mow it with the push mower. But we've had such a ridiculously early and warm spring that the lawn was a foot tall, and just folded over and laughed. I much prefer violets and creeping charlie to lawn: they only grow a few inches high no matter how long you leave them, and when you do mow them they send up lovely purple and green confetti.

So I fought with the grass, cussing and sweating, until I had tackled most of the yard. It looks at least 78% less hill-billy-ish now. By then Blake, my very bestest husband ever, had brought me a Frappuccino, so I got to sit on the deck and enjoy my non-embarrassing back yard.

After a delicious dinner of pizza, made by Blake and Delphine, the kids took a bath and were off to bed at a reasonable hour.

Sunday morning the girls have swimming lessons at a local high school. The lessons are an hour, so I get to sit up in the gallery and chill out, or this week, work on the AOSA website.

After swimming we hit Subway for lunch (having spent almost all our family fun money at Hazel's) and then went to Boardsports to get Delphine a helmet to go with her new skateboard. She wanted a pink helmet, but they only had extra-small in pink so she chose a gorgeous matte grass-green one instead. Then we walked home; Cordelia was exhausted halfway home — normally she has energy to spare, but she was sick last week and it's still slowing her down.

So in the afternoon we chilled out on the couch and watched a Mythbusters — the one with the explosions and shooting. And then Baba and Zaida's for barbequed steaks and playing in Auntie Morgan's wading pool.

On Monday we went for a hike. I like to take Delphine out in nature sometimes, because it recharges her (and me, too). Toronto is great for that because there are little bits of nature all over the place, so you can have, if not the best of both urban and country life, at least a taste of nature in the city.

We've done the walk down to the Brickworks, and we've walked from Yonge and Lawrence to Bayview at Sunnybrook Hospital. I wanted to do something new this time. I thought about Leslie Spit, but that takes too long to get to — I wanted this to be a morning hike so the girls could play with Ursa in the afternoon. I thought about Crother's Woods, but it's a bit of a pain to get to. There are two bus routes which access it, but neither of them are near our place. So finally we decided to walk from Sunnybrook Hospital to the Ontario Science Centre.

Sunnybrook is a short bus ride from our house, so we were there before ten. It was a nice hike, but too much walking on paved paths through parks for me. I like hikes through the woods. There were some trails through the woods which ran parallel to the park paths, though, so we got some quality nature hiking in. I think we went too fast; there are so many interesting things to look at in the woods if you slow down and pay attention. But as it was we saw a woodpecker, a nuthatch, baby geese, and a toad, and lots of cool fungus. Also far too much garlic mustard.

Our destination was the Ontario Science Centre, and I can't think of a better place to end a hike. We had lunch (fish and chips for the girls, chicken satay on a pita for me and jerk pork for Blake, then ice creams all 'round) and checked out the circus exhibit before catching the bus home.

Then we sent the girls off to Ursa's and now Blake's doing I-don't-know-what while I sit on the deck writing this. Tonight we are going to a local street party for hot dogs and fireworks. Not bad for a long weekend I didn't even know was coming.

[Posted at 17:33 by Amy Brown] link
Sun, 13 May 2012

Back in November I got a call from one of the special education teachers at the school — Delphine's teacher this year and her grade two teacher had both flagged her to be assessed for the gifted program.

There's no gifted program at the girls' school — the program for gifted kids is hosted at another school, so attending would require a daily bus ride. The special ed teacher said that Delphine was eligible for the gifted assessment, but that if we wouldn't consider sending her to the gifted program we shouldn't have her assessed, since the assessment is "resource-intensive".

We really like our neighbourhood school, Delphine loves her friends, and she gets carsick, so I declined the assessment.

I had heard from a friend who works for the school board that if your child is assessed as gifted you can get an IEP (individual education plan), which seemed to be the best solution. An IEP provides specific guidance to the classroom teacher, so Delphine could stay at her school while still getting the extra enrichment she needs to thrive.

I've been talking with Delphine's teacher about this all year, and a few weeks ago she finally arranged a team meeting to discuss Delphine's case. The team meeting was supposed to involve us, Delphine's teacher, the principal and vice-principal, the special ed teacher, and a psychologist from the school board. That seemed like a bit of overkill to me, and apparently everyone else agreed because only the vice principal, a special ed teacher and Delphine's classroom teacher ended up attending.

I wasn't sure what would come of this meeting; I wanted to get the lay of the land, see what our options were, and talk about an IEP.

The IEP idea was shot down immediately. Apparently gifted students used to be eligible for IEPs, but no longer. That leaves the bus-in gifted program, or, as the special ed teacher said, we can "cross our fingers" and "hope" that next year Delphine gets a teacher who understands the needs of gifted children.

I don't know how parents of other kids with special needs would feel if their team meeting included the words "cross our fingers" and "hope", but I'm not particularly happy about it. It's as irresponsible to neglect gifted kids as it is to neglect kids with other special needs.

I'm not sure what our next move is. I'm reading up on gifted children because I'm woefully uneducated in this matter, so hopefully next time I meet with the "team" I'll be able to advocate more intelligently for my girl. We might consider the bus-in program, since Delphine's very best friend is thinking about going to another school for Extended French, which releases one of her ties to the neighbourhood school. (At least we can visit the gifted program so Delphine has an idea of the possibilities.) We're contemplating other specialised programs, like the TDSB Vocal Academy; that would be valuable and enriching in some ways but still wouldn't directly address Delphine's needs as a gifted learner.

This isn't one of those satisfying blog posts with a useful conclusion. I have no idea where we're going from here, I just know I'm not satisfied with the path we're on.

[Posted at 21:34 by Amy Brown] link