Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Kira's graduation from preschool

Okay, so it's not like an "official" graduation. She's not finishing a degree or any government-regulated curriculum for that matter. But what a proud day it was when my beautiful daughter graduated from preschool!

My daughter's preschool nurtured her in a way like no other school could have. I still remember when she started, how she would cry her way through a box of tissues each day for 2 weeks, and then how painfully shy she was for the entire first year there. Kira has just completed 3 years at les activités préscolaires de Brossard, and she has blossomed so much in those 3 years! The teachers there - I can't say enough about each and every one of them... they are enthusiastic, creative, artistic, and pour so much energy and love into their jobs every day!

This past year, Kira was blessed with 3 fantastic teachers: Marlene, François and Sonia.

Marlene prepared her class for kindergarten through the "Ateliers des Petits" program. Kira so enjoyed everything she learned from Marlene, and especially grew fond of mazes, crafts, and "playing teacher" at home. You can always see how your child is being treated through her role-play, and when Kira would come home and play teacher, I just knew that Marlene was treating her with respect, kindness, and great attention.

In her second year with François as a teacher, Kira was finally able to be comfortable and outgoing. While she cringed at public performances last year, she was one of the loudest singers in school music shows this year. François is a professional musician and composer, and what a joy it has been to play his CDs in our car each morning on the way to preschool! At the end of the year, the class gave an incredible musical production, from which I hope to post pics soon!

François was also Kira's gym teacher. Omigosh, what fun! The group always came out of class hot and sweaty, with big smiles on their faces. Kira was so proud in the fall when she did her first front roll, and now she is full of tricks and confidence to try new things!

Kira's teacher for "Club des Champions" was Sonia, a delightfully happy mother of a student at the preschool. Sonia's experience as a teacher and familiarity to the students as a mom of their peer, helped her to establish herself quickly when she took over a class at the end of last fall from Lucie, who left for other professional pursuits. Here is Kira with Sonia (above), and Lucie (below):

And so now for the graduation photos! Here is just a small selection:

Milestones like these make me such a proud mama!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Expo Agricole in Saint-Hyacinthe

At the end of July every year, there is an awesome festival in Saint-Hyacinthe called Expo-Agricole. Seriously, I've been raving to friends about it since I tried it out last year for the first time. If you have young kids you simply MUST schedule this in your summer itinerary! Mark took the day off work to go as a family this year, because I couldn't stop raving about it. And, I'm happy to say he wasn't disappointed. :)

We went on the opening day, which was a Thursday. There were a lot of daycamps there, so it was actually quite packed. However, having the extra set of hands there made it so much easier for me, because - for example - while Mark took Kira to the lineup to get her face painted (see previous post for the beautiful result), I could take Calvin to the lineup for the mini-train ride, and both kids could avoid the lines for the activities they didn't so much care for.

What makes this fair stand out? It's incredibly well organized, and there is a huge variety of activities. It's clean, there are lots of accessible toilets (very important as a parent of young children), and it is spacious. If you get there early enough, there is ample free street parking. If you don't arrive early enough, the residents are all out with signs offering parking on their lots for $10. There are several rides even for the toddlers (Calvin went on rides on his own even last year, at 1.5 years old!). Oh, and the price is right: $15 per person, which includes access to all the rides. Even the airbrushed face painting was free!

Last year I packed a picnic, but once the kids saw that there was pizza for sale, I ended up buying them pizza and lemonade, and lugging my big backpack around all day. This year I packed lighter, knowing I'd spend a bit extra on lunch and treats, and it simply made things less stressful and more enjoyable.

Along with the usual ferris wheel and traveling fair-type rides, there were some interesting ones like this boat that the little kids could control with little hand cranks:

There was a petting zoo (pictured above) and several buildings full of prize-winning livestock, including horses, cows, sheep, pigs, miniature ponies, chickens, reptiles, and more!

Several tractors and farming vehicles were on display, and these took up a lot more time than we imagined they would, as the kids were climbing on and off every model of tractor on the lot!

Definitely worth the trek, folks!

Friday, December 3, 2010

HomeStart / Premiers Pas Daycamp

A definite highlight over the past several summers has been the Premiers Pas / HomeStart daycamp. This daycamp is held each summer over a period of 6 weeks (3 days a week), and it is for parents to participate alongside their child(ren), aged 0 to 5 years. The camp is subsidized by the government and as such, is made affordable beyond belief! This year the registration fees were $40 for the family, for 6 weeks inclusive! I know, unbelievable.

The counselors are resourceful, bilingual, energetic, and selected for their love of children and capacity to entertain and plan an exciting camp that is inclusive of babies up to preschoolers. We enjoyed spending time there, and outings included local pools, the Jean-Drapeau beach, the Old Port of Montreal, and the library.

I have been attending this camp since Kira was less than 2 years old. Honestly, there are not many options out there for organized activities for toddlers during the long summer days. I hope that some of you South Shore mums and dads will consider this daycamp and supporting a wonderful organization that helps families in need of social support. In doing so, you will meet an administration that is caring and devoted to the best interests of families.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Kira's face canvas

I love how Kira is so into face-painting these days! She has always been an artistic girl, and this summer she was always happy to provide her face as a canvas. Here are just a few of the painted faces Kira sported this year!

Here is one from the Mums & Tots Easter party, painted by a fellow mom:
At the CHEO (Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario) Teddy Bears' Picnic in Ottawa, in June:
At Premiers Pas / HomeStart daycamp in July:

Expo Agricole in Ste. Hyacinthe in July:
And for Halloween, she wanted an angel painted on her face, by yours truly:
Loving this phase tremendously!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Highlights of summer - Calvin's happy place

As I've been away from blogging for several months now, I've missed out on blogging about the most awesome summer we had this year! So, here I am in December, posting about months ago...

It's kind of fun actually, looking at photos from the summertime. I can't believe how busy we were all summer long, and having a great time outdoors almost every day!

One of the cool things about flipping through hundred of pics at a time is that you can quickly see particular themes emerge. Clearly, Calvin was happiest in the sandbox. Whether we were camping, hanging out at a local park, at daycamp, or in our own backyard, Calvin just loved spending time in the sand! In fact, from May through September I kept a bag of sand toys in my trunk each and every day, at the ready. Here are some pics of Calvin in his happy place:

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Meet the (preschool) teachers in Kira's life (so far!)

I really lucked out when I found out about Les Activités Préscolaires de Brossard. What a fantastic preschool that my daughter has attended the past 2 years! I can't even begin to express how pleased I am with her experience there.

Kira started preschool when she was 2 months shy of turning 3 years old. I was ready and pleased to put her there, in a predominantly French-speaking environment, with new friends her age. She was in a class called Mille Pattes with teacher Marie-France. I remember standing below the classroom window outside, hearing her scream and cry, and was reassured by an experienced mom: "Don't worry. Marie-France is the best for dealing with the little ones. You'll see, it breaks your heart now, but she's going to be just fine!". It took about a month for Kira to warm up to the idea of preschool, which she attended 3 mornings a week. As the months passed, she enjoyed it more and more, and came home with new songs, crafts, stories, and a lot of role-playing. I don't know how many times I had to play the student while she was my teacher.

PJ Day in December 2008:

Here is a shot from her first Christmas show:
And at the end of the year with Marie-France:
This past year we put Kira in for 2.5 days a week; that is, one morning and 2 full days. A big step that my big girl was ready for. And once again she had amazing teachers!

Her morning teacher 3 days a week was the talented François (aka Musicabouche), a musician with a gentle heart, and a comedian with a big smile all at the same time. What a fantastic male role model to have! Kira's favourite CD is one of François', and every time she listens to it, she says: "I feel like François is right here with me!"

Kira was also lucky to have the craftiest teacher in town, and by this I mean arts & crafts! Tina's classroom is the envy of all teachers when it comes to artistic displays! I've got a bag full of art projects that I'll keep for a lifetime thanks to Tina! Here's one of them, a big princess with Kira's face cut out and inserted in the cut-out!

Tina watched over Kira and a big group of children during "Club des Champions", an extension of lunch hour that included lots of outside playtime, bug-catching, silly fun, and of course, arts & crafts!

I'll be posting more about this preschool in coming months, with photos past and present. Calvin is about to discover the joys of "Les Activités Préscolaires" in a few short weeks! Whee!

If you live on the South Shore, be sure to check out this wonderful preschool!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Impromptu parties

I love when my kids get along and play well together. What parent doesn't love to hear a little laughter between their little ones as they play in the other room? Most recently, my kids have started holding their own parties in the living room while I do my household chores. Crafting hats and accessories out of paper, and using a lot of imagination for the guests and themes, here are a few random pics from 2 recent parties held in honour of Ms. Sheep and Mr. Giraffe.