Haiku: reactions

New Brunswick

New Brunswick (Photo credit: Smulan77)

Blogs are great when you’re supposed to be doing something.

I’m supposed to be doing a lot of things.

Instead, I wrote some haiku:

Playcentre Journal
Who will edit it next year?
I don’t know at all.

And

Going to N B
Lacking in Playcentre Folks
What am I to do?

I wrote them for my Facebook friends and then realised I should post them here because over at Jenn’s You Know…that blog? it’s Haiku day. So here’s my contribution. Her theme was reaction – and well, both of these are related to that.

You see, we’re moving.  We’re leaving New Zealand and going to New Brunswick.  Nearly the complete opposite ends of the world.

Right now, I’m supposed to be packing, getting rid of stuff, calling people.

My reaction is to procrastinate and write haiku.

And here we are. 😉

 

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Do you live in NZ and miss American food?

Do you wish you could buy those food products that you miss?

perhaps you should check out Uncle Sam’s – NZ’s online grocery specialist.

I did.  Now I’m happily chomping some strawberry twizzlers and looking forward to some sweet mixed pickles.

I have it on good authority that they have a limited supply of nutter butters.

Perhaps you should check it out!!

Http://www.unclesams.co.nz

**Disclaimer: I know the people who run the store and I may have been bribed with food to make this post. I am unapologetic. 😉

What’s on your birthday list?

English: yamaha upright piano

English: yamaha upright piano (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Birthday lists are a huge problem for me. And yet, every year the Hubby insists that I make one … probably to make sure whatever he thinks he’s going to get me isn’t on it.

It’s that time of year again, and I’ve been asked for the list.

As per usual, a piano tops the list.  We still don’t have another room for one. So I’ve been told it’s not allowed on my list.

I’ve been pondering and pondering, and I think I know what I shall do for my list this year.

I’m going to list all the intangibles I want. You never know, I might get lucky.

Without further ado… here it is:

1) All the outside garden beds deweeded, re-matted, and re-rocked so that the weeds can’t take over quite so much.

2) A series of appointments to a nutritionist so I can get my food issues (IBS/allergies) sorted.

3) The time and energy to take everything out of my house, remove everything we don’t need/use/want, and then put everything back neat, tidy and decluttered.

4) Guitar/ukulele lessons

5) For our house to sell so we can get a place big enough for a piano! 😉

Not thinking much of my odds, though. 🙂

What I learned from the Chess Tournament

An example of early-style Staunton Chess Set

An example of early-style Staunton Chess Set (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today I went as the Parent Supervisor with The Boy and 3 of his schoolmates to the local Chess Championships.

I’m not a chess player, so I knew nothing about what to expect or what was going to happen.

Here’s what I learned:

10) Parents who go to help at a Chess Championship should know how to play chess. I had no idea if our children were being treated fairly or not in their games, and I couldn’t help when they’d ask why certain strategies in the game happened.  I’m really glad the teacher had already taught them the 4 move checkmate though – other children got caught by that!

9) When you’re playing in a championship, the same hand that moves the piece must touch the clock to end your turn.

8) If you touch a piece, you have to move that piece. If you touch someone else’s piece, you must remove it from the game (unless that’s an illegal move.)  If you touch a piece and let go before you move it, your turn is done.

7) A lower rank team has the luxury of playing for fun.  They’re playing to improve and learn, not necessarily playing to win.  Much more fun, less stress. My team came in 14th out of 17 teams and they had a lot of fun!

6) A highly ranked team has stress over keeping their ranking.  Not as much fun, and way more pressure. I was watching the highest ranked teams and there were tears, nerves, complaints, and some poor sportsmanship. Not sure how much learning or improving happened there.

5) Parents need to get over themselves and let their children play and learn.  I’m certain a lot of the stress from #6 actually came from all the parents that stood around the table silently watching and communicating frustration through their non-verbal communications. I did that for the first game, realised how much trouble I was causing, and then purposefully stepped back and away from the tables for the rest of the games.  Less stress for me, and less stress for my team!

4) If you’re setting up a chess championship, it’s better to make it so the toilets, kitchen, and exit are not on the other side of the room, with the only way there is a path through the competition tables.  Talk about interference and distraction!

3) It is impossible to keep a room full of 50-75 adults and children quiet through a full round, waiting after their game has been decided, while other people are still playing. Especially considering point #4.

2) Practice is everything. That’s how a 7 year old (who has been playing since he was three with his parents, since he was 5 with his school and with an after school chess club, and been in the championships 3 years running) beats an 11 year old  (who has only been playing for a year and had never been in a championship).

1) If you walk around one of these events with a clipboard, everyone will assume you’re in charge, even if you’re not. If I had been a bit more on my toes, I could have had a lot of fun! (I was keeping track of my team’s scores!)

What I actually did

You’ll need to read this post first.

I wasn’t comfortable with what happened, at all.  I mentioned it in passing to the Vice Principal, by saying that I wasn’t complaining, and that I had thought about it for a long time, but that I was concerned that the children saw what they did. That had it just been nudes, that was one thing, but a woman playing with herself was inappropriate for the age group. Wouldn’t have bothered me for older kids, but for pre-pubescent children, I was uncomfortable.

I followed that up with an email:

Just further to our conversation – I just looked at The Boy’s art assignment from the Art gallery – his person has one hand picking his nose and the other one putting up a middle finger. I haven’t said anything to judge his picture to him, but frankly, for an 8 year old to think it’s okay to do that in art, that’s just not right. I’m really uncomfortable with it. He’s not allowed to pull the finger at home or at school, so we’re giving him a mixed message by saying it’s okay in art. I am very relieved that the other pictures seemed to go completely over his head – but what if it hadn’t?
I just want to make it clear I’m not trying to lay blame on the school or the teachers. I am thinking that the Art Gallery should have notified the school of the content of their art show for the date the children attended. Surely they didn’t think that was appropriate for 7-9 year olds. Not all parents allow their children to watch inappropriate things on television or listen to inappropriate music!

I am wholly in favour of the children going to the art gallery.  And I think sometimes displays at the art gallery are not appropriate for primary school children. So in future I think it would be a good idea to be aware of the content before they go, and maybe delay the trip where necessary. I also think, in future, the school needs guidelines in place to check the appropriateness of the content before a similar trip is scheduled.

If the Art Gallery doesn’t agree with that, then perhaps we need to find art elsewhere – like, perhaps, the art gallery right here in our town? Or even invite more artists to visit the school. I know both of my children thoroughly enjoyed the artist that visited and drew funny pictures of the teachers!

I understand that art should be controversial and get people to ask questions. And I’d also like to preserve my children’s childhood for as long as possible. Those two things should not be incompatible!

Thank you all of you who took time to comment. It was greatly appreciated!

What would you do?

Okay, so, perspective please …

The local Art Gallery invited my children’s school to visit. They paid for the buses and only asked for a $1 donation per child. They do this once a term.

Last time the children went, Hubby went along as parent help. He was shocked that some of the artwork was presented to the children (5-9 year olds) as “And this one’s about the artists anger about how all white people are racists.” Not the exact words, mind you. Hubby can’t remember exactly what the curator said, only what was implied.

This time, The Boy’s class went (7-9 year olds). The front entrance had a painting with a man projectile vomiting, another with a man, his privates in full view, urinating, and a woman playing with her fully erect chest area. (words changed to try to prevent certain spammings)

In the exhibition the children went to, there were cardboard cut outs of people, one of whom was picking his nose and pulling out visible boogers, and another one with birds pooping out of his butt while he gave the audience the finger. The curator specifically pointed out this piece and talked about it, drawing it to the children’s attention.

Now, The Boy didn’t seem to notice the paintings at the entrance (or if he did, he’s saying nothing.) However, the class was asked
to do an artwork based on what they saw. My Boy’s art faithfully reproduces the picking nose, boogers, and flipping the
bird.

How comfortable would you be with this? And what would you do?

Using synesthesia to cope with dyscalculia?

Math Mark

Math Mark (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My daughter’s been having a spot of trouble with her basic math skills. She’s gone backwards in her knowledge, forgetting some strategies and seemingly not understanding the new strategies.  It’s a bit odd, because in terms of her reading, writing and spelling she’s way ahead of most of her classmates.What’s not so odd is that I had the same kind of trouble when I was her age.  I always just thought I was horrible at math. And then I went to a workshop at the school and learned that perhaps at least some of the issue was with the way it was taught.

But there’s always more to the story, isn’t there?

As a bit of a lark, I typed “math dyslexia” into google and ended up on a dyscalculia page or seven. Dyscalculia involves difficulty in learning or comprehending mathematics.

I was especially intrigued by some of the “symptoms.”  But not for my girl – for me!

  • Inability to comprehend financial planning or budgeting, sometimes even at a basic level; for example, estimating the cost of the items in a shopping basket or balancing a checkbook: You got it. I never know how much is in my trolley unless I use a calculator, and even then, I make many errors when adding things up on a calculator.   I have completely messed up our budget more than once (I’m never sure exactly how I break it, but I do.) And I have frustrated both my father and my hubby when they were trying to explain financial things.  It’s like I can’t get my head around it, no matter how hard I try.
  • difficulty navigating maps – I’m not allowed to use maps unless it’s a GPS.  That said, I have pretty good direction sense – I usually know where I am. If I’ve been there, I can direct you. But if I use a map, I’ll get you lost.
  • mistaken recollection of names – I usually blame this on my synesthesia. Some names are the same colour, you know.
  • difficulty differentiating between left and right – this one drives the hubby nuts. I have to stop, think (sometimes find the L when I hold up my hands, sometimes remember which one I write with) and then tell you.  Interesting fact –  I still refer to a turn across traffic as a “left hand turn” and a turn with traffic as a “right hand turn” just like I learned it in Canada despite the fact it is the complete opposite here in NZ. And despite the fact that I know it’s wrong.
  • inability to visualise mentally – I assume they mean with math – and yep.  I can’t hold the numbers in my head. Unless it’s basic addition (1-20) or basic multiplication (0 – 12 times tables) which I have memorised by colour, I have to write it down.
  • Might do exceptionally well in a writing related field – Hmmm, I resemble that remark!
  • along with, of course, difficulty with basic math – addition, subtraction, division, multiplication – If I don’t have the calculation memorised by colour, it’s not happening.

I’m also completely useless with mathematical formulas. (Did I mention I failed physics, despite being able to spout off all the theories correctly? It was applying the formulas that did me in! I’m also completely useless with calculus and statistics. Failed them too.)  Makes me (and likely you, too!) really glad I never attempted biology or chemistry.

Did you notice those sections above that mention memorising  “by colour”?  That’s where the synesthesia fits in. If I do have dyscalculia (maybe I don’t and it’s just my synesthesia playing havoc?) then I think I mitigated it during my school years with the synesthesia, using the colours to memorise the basic mathematic skills I needed. I changed the numbers and calculations to colour combinations. When I mess up the colours (it can happen. After all, 8 and 3 are the same colour.) I mess up the math.

Which brings me back to my girl.  She doesn’t have synesthesia (that I know of), but she is clearly having trouble with math.  And now that I know that there is such a thing as a math-specific learning disability (and that apparently it is genetically inheritable) perhaps I’ll be able to use some of the strategies they use for dyscalculia to help her, even if she doesn’t have it.