Friday, May 9, 2014

An open letter to the CBE

Regarding the new assessment and reporting for 2014-2015

I am incredibly unhappy that the CBE is taking away a useful tool to parents, in the form of the traditional practices of reporting grades. The new assessment is too broad and does little to ensure that our children learn to show an appreciation for work ethic and consequence. Assessment for learning? In what career is a person assessed before they start their job? Certainly, when a person is first hired they are assessed to ensure that they meet the requirements for the job, but how does one advance once they obtain employment? They are assessed based on their performance and should their performance lack, they have a consequence; either they remain in their current position or they are fired.

Assessment for learning does not teach our children to perform at their best; there is no tool to reward a child who works their hardest and no consequence for a child who does very little and, more importantly, no way for parents to ensure that our children are performing as expected. A grading system that is essentially four, twenty-five percent blocks is far to broad to get an accurate representation of the strengths and weaknesses of our children; both are equally important to parents. We want to know the areas in which our children excel and the areas that require remediation.

For example: I have a child who is not only gifted, but also has ADHD. Based on his intellect, his 85%, is the average child's 65%. Due to his ADHD, however, he often misses handing in assignments and does poorly on tests due to a lack of attention and focus in class. Based on the current model of grading, I can easily monitor his grades to ensure that he stays on task and his grades reflect his "average" of 85%. If his percentages start slipping, I can evaluate his homework practices and study regimens to ensure that he is learning to develop a good work ethic for the future. Under the new assessment, his "average"should be a 4, but there is no way for me to ensure that his grade remains at his average. He could easily slip to a 3 or even lower before I could step in to ensure that he stays focused and on task. I also worry about how this grading system will effect his transition to high school. If we consider that his average should be 85% and he struggles to maintain a 4 under the new system, does that mean he will suddenly become a student who's average is now 75%? Who will take responsibility for creating a generation of students who could have been A+ students, but who are now low B students? Will the CBE?

Let's use another example of how the current grading practices benefit students. How about a student who is an average student of 65%; a nice solid C student, but one who works exceptionally hard. Under the current system, that student can see their hard work pay off in the form of an increasing percentage. Under the new assessment, where is the reward? That student can work at their most diligent and still only ever achieve a 3. So why work hard?

Instead of rewarding children for their hard work, the new assessment is stifling their ability to excel and stunting their achievements. The CBE is removing parents' ability to ensure that our children work to their potential, at a time in their development when we, as parents, have the greatest impact. How much impact will we have when our sixteen-year-old, high school students emerge from this new assessment model into mediocrity; created by the CBE.


A concerned parent. 

For more information on the new assessment and reporting please go to the CBE website, HERE. The CBE is removing the existing grading system of percentages and replacing it with the numbers 1-4 (SR, support required; EM, emerging strengths; EV, evident strengths and EX, exemplary strengths). They are also moving away from assessment OF learning to assessment FOR learning (ie. what should we teach next?). 

Saturday, March 1, 2014

How to make a cheesecake.

Step 1) Check the oven for drippings of previous baking/cooking. This step can be skipped if smoked "whatever-the-hell-that-was" flavour is desired.

Step 2) Use all the ingredients. This step can be skipped if a custard-like consistency and/or bland flavour is desired; try eliminating some of the cream cheese or vanilla, for example (or throw caution to the wind and skip both items...wheeeeeee).

By following these two simple steps, you can probably end up with a cheesecake that people will actually eat. Or you can skip both steps (exactly as recommended) and end up with whatever will be coming out of my oven shortly........

Or better yet, just take the $30 you will spend on ingredients and go buy some yarn. Everybody wins, that way.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Annual Piano Recital Post

Just wanted to post a short and sweet (extra sweet 'cause it's Chey's first Recital!) post sharing the kids' piano recital videos.

So without further ado.

Introducing Chey in her first recital! (notice the feet swinging.... adorable!)

And Eli's 2013 piece. He told me afterward that his stomach made his fingers jitter....

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Every story must have an ending, and so I will write an appropriate goodbye.

It has been a year since I began our worm composting experiment (did you think I was saying goodbye to the blog? No such luck, people! Your suffering will continue I'm afraid). It was a success in some respects, but a failure in others. I will write a list of pros and cons in case anyone wants to try it.


1) Worm poop makes gardens grow (I have to assume this is true, as I only planted my garden this week and nothing is growing yet, but the Internet says that worm poop makes gardens grow and the Internet is always right, right?)
2) Worms make great pets. They are quiet, they eat your garbage (although to be fair, there are plenty of dogs that eat garbage, right Theressa?) and they require very little attention. Plus, there is the alleged excreta benefit mentioned above.
3) Worms make you feel like you are doing a great thing for the environment. This must also mean that I can crank up my a/c to offset my green footprint, or something like that, I forget. I'll ask Chey tomorrow. She's been learning all about the environment at school and "teaching" (teaching = lecturing in a self-righteous manner) me how to be greener at home "to save the earth." Worm composting is also great for bragging about my wonderful environment-saving skills, people really look at me with admiration in their eyes when I start talking about my worms. I could be reading them wrong though. It could be the glazed looks of people who wish they were on a quiet sandy beach somewhere. No, I'm pretty sure it's admiration or adoration or approbation or aversion.
4) You can compost in the winter with worms.


1) Although worms make great pets from an ease-of-care standpoint, they do not make good pets from a mental health standpoint. They tend to disappear when you open up their box to observe them. I choose to believe that this sudden dive is due to their intense need to escape the light and not an attempt to avoid being cuddled, which brings me to my second pet-con. Worms are rather slimy and not at all nice to cuddle with.
2)Worms need to be fed, but not too much. They're actually, kind of picky, little bastards. They prefer their food to be cut up into small bits (its garbage, I don't cut my kids' food for them, I'm certainly NOT cutting up garbage for worm food) and they only eat about half of what our family produces in a week, as far as vegetative waste. They also like cardboard and newsprint, nether of which we seem to have when required (darn recycle bins!)
3)Worms (actually, it's probably the decomposing food, but I'm not fact checking tonight) produce a lot of liquid called leachate. Turns out this is kind of toxic and is not the same thing as worm tea (to get worm tea you soak their poop in water. You do not soak the worms in water. Also, the "tea" part is misleading. It is NOT the latest superfood (yet, maybe no one has thought of it. Does this mean that when someone does think of it, that they are stealing MY idea? Mark your calendars, people, I might need additional evidence of my genius) so I wouldn't recommend drinking it, unless it turns out to be a superfood, then fly at it!). You can not feed leachate to your house plants and expect them to live. You can use it to kill your house plants, though, so if that's what you're going for, this could be a pro. The other problem with leachate is that it has to be emptied (about once per month) because there is a lot of it and it starts to make your house smell funky (not the good kind) after a while. In the winter, this poses a slight problem, solved by the toilet, but not without mess and aggravation, a little cursing and an extra load of laundry.
4) Worm composers take up space. Ok, I'm stretching with this one, but it is true. You need a dark space that is convenient to get to and not too cold or hot (see? picky bastards!), I used our front hall closet, but that space is now being used for something else (which I shall share soon), I'm not sure where they would go, should I choose to use worms again.

Conclusions: I did like having the worm composter, but ultimately found out that it wasn't for me. If the worms had been able to handle the amount of vegetative waste our family produces, I might feel differently, but I found the cons to outweigh the pros.... Now, If my garden suddenly produces something phenomenal, the pros might still win. I'll keep you posted.

Here is the bin just before I dumped it, worms and all, into my garden.

My garden helper... notice the skirt.
She's actually wearing one, not to worry though.... those are sharks you see.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

A trip into the closet.....

I don't like closets. I don't like the messes they contain. And no, I am not talking about my sexual orientation.... nothing quite so titillating, I'm afraid.

 I am talking the literal, dark, disastrous cupboards that we all have in our homes. The catch all. The place where we can cram our junk and close the door. Those closets. Well, I've had enough and  I decided to do something about a couple of mine.

My craft room, to start.....

It started out as one of those doors that one dared not to open for fear of immediate death by crushing. At some point it morphed into a undecipherable pile and the door could no longer even BE closed. Plus, the damn open door takes up too much room and blocks my bookcase......

Something HAD to be DONE........

Firstly, I pulled off the door and pulled out the organizer (read "organizer" with intense derision that such a contraption should dare to call itself so). Rather than paint, I decided to make the closet a bit of a focal point with a dramatic wallpaper. The result (although, further organization in the form of pretty baskets is required) is such an improvement that I can't wait to start on the next closet on my list......

I LOVE this wallpaper! Unfortunately, it has been discontinued

No skeletons here......

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I Win

Warning! Do not allow, 6-15 year old, video-game-obsessed,  boys or girls look at this post (a few adult men and women might want to avoid it as well*).

*I am currently not accepting applications for new children and/or room mates (unless you cook, clean and pick up dog poo, then I might reconsider).... Decorating advice is always free.

We recently had our entire house painted (main living areas). The basement was in the worst shape. The previous owners did an amazing job when they finished the basement, but I suspect they used a paint/primer combination directly on the fresh, dry wall, because.... Oh Man, did that paint fleck the frack off!  The basement looked like it had reverse chicken-pox.

Here are a few before pictures. The colour of the walls was a dark, reddish brown (It's washed out in the pictures, but you can see the damage). Too dark for a basement.

Blurry picture of what it sort of looked like... from a couple of years ago.
Eli is playing full size "Angry Birds" that he constructed out of a tent making kit.

And NOW..... 

The right side of the room will have instruments set up. 
A place to display lego & video game collectibles  
Yes, those are Super Mario decals.
They go around that side of the room
And, THAT is why I win.......
Dad got this for us and it's been in storage ever since.
It was too large to fit anywhere, but we finally decided to cut it down and install it.
It is 6ft tall and 7ft wide. We are lucky to have something so cool. 

I love it down there now. It's bright, cheery and fun! Too bad it smells like pre-adolescent boys........

Friday, April 5, 2013


Holy Snickerdoodles (sorry, for the foul language.... LOL)! I actually have something to post about! Actually, I have several posts to get out in the next few days/weeks, perhaps the winter silence is finally coming to an end?

I, probably, should post an update about our Easter Extravaganza, but that is going to have to wait for another day because, guess what?! I have a new pattern to show you! 

I was asked to design a bathing suit coverup out of a specific type of yarn and I accepted the challenge with alacrity. Who doesn't need a cute, easy to wear, swimsuit coverup? My original plan was to revamp a design that I had worked on last year, but that I wasn't super happy with (just needed some tweaking and it would be perfect), but while I was thinking about it, the design began to morph in my head to something completely different. I thought that a swimsuit coverup was a wonderful idea, but perhaps a lot of work for something that may not be worn very often, particularly when knit from a lace-weight yarn. How about a swimsuit coverup that you could wear as a light-weight tunic? Perfection, eh? This is what I, ultimately, designed. A lightweight, lace and stockinette striped, dress that has a double row of eyelets along each side seam, through which a ribbon is woven and used to cinch up the sides, shortening the dress into a tunic that can be worn with a tank-top underneath. Genius (in my modest *cough, choke* opinion)!

Here it is: "Jump into Summer" (ravelry link)

If you'd like to purchase you can always

This was my first time hiring a tech editor (someone who checks for spelling, punctuation and math errors) and I must say.... awesome! She totally removed a huge pile of stress surrounding pattern writing. I hope that more patterns will be coming soon.