Friday, January 31, 2014

Create Your Own S.O.P. Story!

OLA Ontario Library Association

Over the last two days I've attended the annual Ontario Library Association Super Conference, with this year's theme being "A Universe of Possibilities." A plenary with Creativity Expert David Usher (oh, and also a Juno Award-Winning Musician) challenged us to think more creatively, and other sessions filled my head with information and ideas of how to provide more innovative services at the branch I lead. Since I wasn't speaking this year, I convened a couple of sessions, including one that provided the opportunity to craft my own Statement of Purpose (or S.O.P). 

The session was presented by staff from the Brampton Public Library (Julie Andrews-Jotham, Margaret MacMillan, and Julie Mandal).

The process went a little something like this...

After a couple of revisions, this is what I have for my professional Statement of Purpose:
I'm an enthusiastic people leader. I'm committed to motivating colleagues by sharing knowledge gained through my 14 years of  public library experience. I do this through speaking at seminars and coaching and mentoring. I'm resourceful in assisting customers by connecting them to materials or programs that will meet their needs. I'm energized by helping people identify their passion and meet their potential!

Now you try it!

What's your Statement of Purpose?

Monday, January 6, 2014

My 2014 Reading List

As a librarian, I’m obligated to read certain books in order to keep on top of trends and be able to advise customers. According to my Goodreads account, in 2013 I read 33 books (10267 pages), which would be about 2.75 books per month. That seems low to me as I thought I had read more.

In 2014 I’ll plan to round that up to 3 books a month, for a total of 36 books. I've outlined my reading list below and you can also follow me at

Currently Reading 3
10 Building Blocks for a Solid Family: The Homeword Guide to Parenting
by Jim Burns

People of the Book
by Geraldine Brooks

Amish Peace: Simple Wisdom for a Complicated World
by Suzanne Woods Fisher

Plan to Read
1 on Marriage

1 on caring for older parents

Job Related Reading
Book Club 8
February Before I go to sleep, by S. J. Watson
March Flight behavior, by Barbara Kingsolver
April The red tent, by Anita Diamant
May Through black spruce, by Joseph Boyden
September - title to be determined in June
October - title to be determined in June
November - title to be determined in June
December - title to be determined in June

Award Winners 3
Scotiabank Giller prize nominee/winner
Canada Reads nominee/winner
Keep Toronto Reading selection

Forest of Reading
More info here

Blue Spruce (K-2) 4
:. I Dare You Not To Yawn
Helene Boudreau, Serge Bloch
Candlewick Press

:. If You Hold A Seed
Elly MacKay
Running Press

:. Oddrey
Dave Whamond
Owlkids Books

:. This Is Not My Hat
Jon Klassen
Candlewick Press

Silver Birch (Gr 3-6) 3
Express (Gr 3-4)
:. Cryptic Canada: Unsolved Mysteries From Coast To Coast
Natalie Hyde, Matt Hammill
Owlkids Books

:. Jason’s Why
Beth Goobie
Red Deer Press

:. When I Get Older: The Story Behind “Wavin’ Flag”
K’Naan with Sol Guy, Rudy Gutierrez
Tundra Books

Fiction (Gr 5-6) 2
:. Record Breaker
Robin Stevenson
Orca Book Publishers

:. Ultra
David Carroll
Scholastic Canada

Non-fiction (Gr 5-6) 4
:. Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the World
Susan Hughes. Owlkids Books

:. Our Rights: How Kids Are Changing the World
Janet Wilson. Second Story Press

:. The World In Your Lunch Box: The Wacky History and Weird Science of Everyday Foods
Claire Eamer, Sa Boothroyd
Annick Press

:. Warriors and Wailers: One Hundred Ancient Chinese Jobs You Might Have Relished or Reviled
Sarah Tsiang, Martha Newbigging
Annick Press

Red Maple (Gr 7-8) 1
:. Between Heaven and Earth
Eric Walters
Orca Book Publishers

White Pine (YA) 2
:. Live To Tell
Lisa Harrington
Dancing Cat Books

:. My Book of Life By Angel
Martine Leavitt
Groundwood Books

:. The Secret of the Blue Trunk
Lise Dion, Liedewij Hawke

Evergreen (Adult) 4
:. Indian Horse
Richard Wagamese
Douglas & McIntyre

:. Tell It to the Trees
Anita Rau Badami
Knopf Canada

:. The Winter Palace: a Novel of Catherine the Great
Eva Stachniak

:. Triggers
Robert J. Sawyer

Golden Oak (new Adult readers) 2
:. Emily Included
Kathleen McDonnell
Second Story Press

:. My Name is Parvana
Deborah Ellis
Groundwood Books

Sunday, December 22, 2013

2013 Christmas Newsletter

Greetings to your home from ours this Christmas season!
2013 was a great year in our home!

We were happy to have dh’s mom, “Grammy” visit us for many birthdays this year and appreciated her and the aunties taking care of the children overnight so we could get away for a night in Niagara Falls – our first night away without children in 9 years!

In April, my family celebrated her grandmother Nanny’s 92nd birthday, and in October had a big scare as Nanny spent almost a month in the hospital. Nanny is doing much better now and we are so thankful for God’s kindness towards us in letting us keep her with us longer!

In July we celebrated a big birthday milestone for my mother. Since there are so many grandchildren, the party welcoming her to her senior years was held at Lil' Monkeys Indoor Playground!

In August we traveled to Hershey, PA for dh’s cousin’s wedding. Our road trip included a stopover in Corning, NY, where we visited the Corning Museum of Glass. dd was delighted to dance with her “princess” cousin, bride "L." Of course we also took in the Hershey chocolate factory tour a couple of times and brought some goodies home!

We were also able to enjoy some time at my mom’s cottage in Cobourg, where the kids enjoyed riding their bikes, building sandcastles, and swimming in the lake.

I completed my first year as the Senior Librarian at the L... Library, and was a speaker at the Ontario Library Association’s SuperConference, the Ontario Christian Home Educator’s Conference, and the Halinet Mini-Conference – all on the topic of homeschoolers and the library.

Dh continued to work part-time at the Home Depot and be the primary caregiver at home. This year he learned how to replace several dryer components and commented that he is now “way too familiar with dryer guts and dryer psychoses.”

We made the decision to change our educational model from homeschool to the public school system, and ds1 (Grade 4) and ds2 (Grade 2) began classes at the local elementary school this Fall. Due to his ADHD and dysgraphia, adjustment took a bit longer for ds1, but ds2 excitedly embraced his new environment and learning opportunities. Ds1 has a great support system, with a Special Education Resource teacher, an Educational Assistant, and a laptop with assistive technology. We are so thankful for the support we have received from the school system as we made this transition.

This has also allowed dh to spend more time with dd (JK) and ds3 (pre-school), and our current plan is to keep them home until dd is in Grade 1 and ds3n in JK (September 2015).

Dd, ds2, and ds1 also participate in AWANA and swimming lessons. Ds3 is eagerly looking forward to when he’ll be old enough to join them.

We are thankful for God's blessings and provision for us this year. We look forward to catching up with you so please drop us a line!

From our family to yours, we wish you a Merry Christmas and a very blessed 2014!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

It's back to school day

If you want to share news quickly you can use the telephone, telegram, or tell-a-kid. There's a good chance that by the end of this afternoon information will be flowing through the homeschool grapevine about our educational choices.

We began our homeschooling journey in 2008, when DS1 was about to enter Junior Kindergarden. I had enrolled him in the local public school, however as the day grew closer I became more and more convinced that homeschooling would be a better alternative for him at that time. I had a sense that he wouldn't be able to sit still in class and that his little spirit might be crushed by the need to conform to the rules of the classroom. My husband and his 6 younger siblings having been homeschooled, I had his support and the encouragement of my mother-in-law. 

I was the primary teacher for DS1 & DS2 for 3 years, before returning to work full-time in Fall 2011. For the 2011-2012 school year, I had planned out the curriculum and all the lessons and DH implemented everything. In 2012-2013 we picked out the curriculum and planned out the year together. We found that the change in teachers worked very well for our sons, especially DS1. DH is much more intelligent than I am, especially when it comes to math, and worked very patiently with DS1. His full-time presence at home also helped a great deal with discipline. 

My work as a public librarian allows me to advocate for homeschoolers, provide programs to meet their needs, and increase the collection holdings on the subject. I have also had the privilege of speaking about homeschoolers and public libraries at several major conferences, including the Ontario Library Association, the Ontario Christian Home Educators' Convention, and the Halinet Conference. We feel that my working outside the home full-time in a job that I enjoy, that benefits others and my family, is a good arrangement for our family.

Grade 3 took a while to complete... in fact the math component of Grade 3 was only completed in mid-August. You can see a video of one of the better math lessons here - note the constant noise and movement.

After a family vacation, we began the 2013-2014 school year on August 26th. After a week, it was clear that this year was going to be no better than the last when it came to DS1. We were frustrated and had exhausted our resources in terms of finding new ways to try to engage him. Our DD was now beginning JK and we would have to keep 3 plates spinning as it were. 

DS1 had been asking to be sent out to public school and we agreed that it was time for a major change in our home. We made the decision to send him out to public school and his little brother also asked to be sent out. We told DS1 & DS2 they had to commit to staying out at school until the end of the school year, at which point we will re-assess. 

Cornerstone Home Educators' leader, Michelle Harding, encouraged us to create a "Why We Home Educate Our Children" document to remind us of the reasons behind our decision. She generously shared her own document with us and we liked it so much that we used some of her points verbatum. Our own document, which has been prominently posted in our dining room, lists these as our reasons for homeschooling:

  • We have prayed about it and believe it to be God’s will and design for our family.
  • We have the freedom and choose to exercise our right to teach our children the morals and values as taught in the Bible.  Our beliefs are not “mainstream” and we do not believe that mainstream education reflects our values as Christians.
  • We are teachers of our children from birth and see no reason to turn that job over to the government.
  • Allowing our children to grow up together and learn together helps them form a closer bond with their family members.  
How many people take the time to think about why they chose the educational method they chose for their children? I would say these are the reasons "Why We Public School Educate Our Children":
  • We have prayed about it and believe it to be God’s will and design for our family at this time.
  • We have equipped our children and taught them Biblical morals and values. They will continue to be taught these values at home, at church, and in weekly AWANA classes.
  • By keeping our children at home until Grade 1, we allow our children to grow up together and learn together, helping them form a closer bond with their family members.  
We are glad to have been able to provide them with so many years together at home and plan to keep our younger ones home until they begin Grade 1. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

We feel complete peace about our decision. Our goal has always been to homeschool "as long as it works." That is the same goal we have for public school. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

ADHD Resources

In June last year I wrote about my suspicions that my eldest son, then almost 8, might have ADHD. In April of last year I had started contacting psychiatrists to find out about having a psycho-educational assessment done to confirm (or deny) my suspicions. Since we were homeschooling, this was mostly to provide us with some guidance as to how we could best work with our son at home.

The assessments took place in July and August, and we received a 25 page report, with 20 recommendations, in September. This included a phone call to review everything, and the psychologist encouraged me not to "over-catastrophize." An additional learning we gained through this process was that DS1 also has dysgraphia. We immediately switched to scribing for him to reduce his frustration in getting his thoughts down on paper. We also tried letting him use the computer since he had completed a typing course, however he was too interested in experimenting with different font styles and sizes and would usually end up erasing part or all of his work.

We met with a pediatrician who specializes in children with ADHD and reviewed non-medicating options. We also went to ROCK (Reach out Centre for Kids) and someone met with us for 4 sessions. We identified what we wanted help with so she talked to us about discipline tactics. We also bought DS1 in for a session and she explained to him how his brain works and what he can do to help himself. 

Something we found that has been quite helpful is melatonin. DS1 takes this at bedtime and it helps him to calm down and sleep. And of course a good night of sleep (or not) has effects on the next day.

I found it difficult to find resources to truly support us as homeschoolers. At least with the official diagnosis, people could understand that he wasn't necessarily a naughty child, just that he has some challenges.

A year later I am hopeful. I see that as he grows older he also matures in some ways and develops some self-regulation. It was a good decision to find out what was going on and to try to develop tactics to help our son. It was also important that we learned about his struggle with dysgraphia so that we could support him.