Home Stretch for This School Year

It’s official. I turned in re-enrollment forms for both of my school age kiddos. SJ will be going into 1st grade and Z is going into 3rd. I’m really excited about this next milestone for these two.

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Not a lot will change for SJ because her school uses a montesorri type format. So she will be in the same classroom with a lot of the same students next year, except now she won’t be the youngest. You would think this would be an easy transition (for me), but I get anxious almost every year.

The schedule is the same for SJ which means she spends about half of her time doing academics and the other half is speech and language. This year I felt great about that because even her hearing peers were only doing half day kindergarten anyway, but in 1st grade I have to worry about her getting a “full day” of curriculum in half the time. I worry so much about her being behind. I practically had to have a voluntary intervention at the parent teacher meeting last week.

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Thankfully we have the most amazing team of teachers, directors, even the audiologist was in there at one point. They all encouraged me by answering my questions and telling me what an incredible job SJ is doing. They also reminded me to remember how far she has come and she really has!  I feel 100% better after going to this meeting and now I am ready for next school year. I make it sound like I am the one going to school. I know I’m not, but I might as well be. We’re in this together!

3rd grade

Z is going to be switching classes for the first time when he starts back up in the fall. He said he is a little apprehensive about that, but I know he’ll be fine. I am beyond excited that he gets to be at this school for the 4th year (new building, but same school by the way). I love his school so much and we weren’t sure if we were going to be moving, but we’re not. We are staying in our rental home another year. After that we’ll try to become home owners again and we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.

The funny thing is, even though I don’t have to worry about Z falling behind I worry about him being challenged. With Z he has shown a lot of signs of being at the top of his class and he’s really great with technology and math. He wants to be an inventor and I want him to be able to do that. How do I harness his abilities without being pushy or overbearing? I know I sound like such a worry-wart, but I prefer the term over-thinker. The other day he had to remind me that college is still 10 years away. I am that mom.

Regardless of my tendency to fret I can assure you that these aren’t thoughts that constantly pervade my mind. With 4 kids I don’t have time to obsess. I am all about kids being kids and learning trough play, yada, yada, yada. I think all moms want their kids to succeed and reach their fullest potential. That’s what it boils down to.

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I am genuinely excited about wrapping up another successful school year. The last day of school for both Z and SJ is exactly 5 weeks away!

Look out summer, here we come.

By | April 21st, 2016|Schooling|1 Comment

When to Introduce Video Games

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When my son Z was four we were given a Wii. It was a hand-me-down. No exchange of money was involved. The consoles have since been discontinued anyway, so it really shouldn’t be too big of a deal.

It was a very thoughtful gift and we still enjoy using it so I don’t want to come across as ungrateful in anyway. I just want to share my story for any moms on the fence about when and if they should introduce video games into their children’s lives. It seems like there is a big divide between the electronic game lovers and haters. I have met parents (and read many reports online) that exhibit both extremes.

I personally have never had reason to be anti video games. We got a Nintendo when I was 5 years old. I played it, but I certainly never had any addiction issues or negative impact so that was probably what has shaped my opinion. However, Z loved the Wii on a level beyond my expectations! He also loved games on the phone or the computer. From ages 4 to 6 I would say he was obsessed with Mario and Sonic.

He is a smart kid, which I honestly think contributed to his obsession. He would eventually conquer the games he played. Although it wasn’t without cost. There were many times he lashed out in anger when he lost. He would be grounded for treating family members aggressively while playing. He would have break downs and cry huge tears over games. It was painful for me to watch. He had a video game addiction and it was scary.

One day I asked a mom friend who has kids several years ahead of mine how she handles it. I knew she would be knowledgable because not only is she a homeschooling mother of 4 boys, but even her husband who is a successful business man has nights dedicated to playing video games with his friends (I know this because sometimes my husband joined in). My question to this wise woman is how she balances the gaming. I expressed my concern and explained that I didn’t want to pull the plug completely, but I didn’t know what else to do. She paused and thought out loud saying that I could consider setting some strict boundaries and rules with a timer and then she said something that kind of made me mad. She said

I don’t know. I can’t really give you advice because we don’t deal with that. The boys are so busy with school work, swim team, and church. They are outside a lot and yeah they play video games, but we just don’t have much time for it. We have a lot going on. 

Ohhhhhh, well. Us too I thought sarcastically. Except I was really burnt up by her non-answer answer. I guess if my family were just as studious, athletic and dedicated to more important things then I wouldn’t be having this problem.

I can see why 4 years ago I would feel that way, but now I get it. I mean I really get it. Z is in school all day. We get an hour of screen time a day, if that. He has a lot of other commitments and things that he puts his energy into. So even though Minecraft and all that is fun, it’s not the obsession that it was. He’s matured more emotionally since then too. Don’t get me wrong, he still gets overly competitive in his gaming at times and I’ve caught him being rude and ignoring people while playing, which of course is unacceptable. Also, I have had to be really careful of any games online because I have learned that some of them include interacting with other players and I am completely 100% against that! He knows he is NOT allowed to communicate online under any circumstances whatsoever and I keep a close eye on it, but that’s another topic.

I have seen how there are good things that can come from video games. Z and his dad have really bonded over electronics.

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Z got to join a programing course for his birthday this year and this was his showcase.

He has learned a lot of problem solving skills. He’s pretty much already a techie mastermind in my opinion. I wouldn’t be the surprised at all if programing or computer engineering is in his future (like his dad).

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The day Z got to get out of school to go see the robot his dad programed.

So I am still not anti-video games. However, as I look back I can see how maybe we would have been better off waiting until last year when he was 7 to introduce gaming.

Keep in mind this just a personal testimony, all children are different. It’s not like I am one of those parenting experts or something.


Next up I have to worry about when he is going to care about having the latest and greatest (i.e. super expensive) game device. Or when the violent games become an issue. Yikes.

Sometimes I feel like I am in my own live action parenting video game having to get through unforeseen obstacles. I guess I’ll worry about conquering the next level when I get to it.

By | October 23rd, 2015|Family, Parenting Tips|13 Comments

My #1 Son

 

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There really isn’t anything significant about turning 8 and yet somehow Z is changing so much all of the sudden! It really snuck up on me, but I first noticed it when I did my run down of asking each of the kids to go potty before we let the house and Z requested that I NOT use the word potty with him. He says it’s embarrassing. Since then I have caught myself several times, but I am working on it.

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We were at Ikea recently. J and I have always waited with great anticipation for each one of our children to be tall enough to get into small land. This last time as Z stood in front of the height marker I noticed that he is closer to being TOO TALL to get in than he is to being to small. When did that happen?

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This photo is from last year when he turned 7.

Similarly, I asked him to pull up a stool to help with dishes the other night and he informed me he didn’t need a stool. I honestly did not believe him. I figured he’d be reaching on his tippy toes, but nope. He can stand at the sink and wash dishes perfectly fine without a stool.

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There are tons of little things like this. For example I am glad Carter’s offers size eight now but this is a recent extension of their children’s selection. There are lots of stores that lump the size 8 in with the preteen clothes. So even shopping has made me realize what a big boy he is.

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He’s still a young though and he is not afraid to hold hands, which melts my heart. Holding my child’s hand has got to be one of my favorite parts of being a mom. Physical touch isn’t my love language so I am a little surprised at how much warmth and connection I feel with this small gesture. Even just walking across the parking lot (when they aren’t trying to pry away and dart off) holding hands is the best feeling in the world. At the end of the last school year we were walking on the sidewalk holding hands and I asked him if he would still hold my hand in 2nd grade and he said “Yes. I will hold your hand in all the grades”. I know that’s not true, that would be weird. It was still sweet to hear along with seeing drawings like this

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or school papers like this

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or a Lite-Brite with these words.

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Or notes in my pocket like this

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He was the one that started me on this motherhood assignment. I call him my #1 son. He knows what I mean by that. It doesn’t mean he is above all the rest, but he was the first. I know he often feels slighted due to his siblings getting more attention at times and I remind him of the special place he has in my heart as my #1 son. I feel exceedingly blessed to have this precious boy in my life. 
IMG_1485Happy 8th birthday Z.

By | September 4th, 2015|Motherhood, My Life|5 Comments

Thoughts From My 7 Year Old

Tomorrow Z turns 8. This will be the last time I do a post about the funny things he said through the year. He’s getting so mature I don’t want to embarrass him when he is in 3rd grade and says things that I think are cute. It’s still fun to look back though. If you haven’t seen my previous posts about the funny things Z says they are a must read.

Four Year Old Funnies

Laugh Out Loud Conversations with Z

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That’s What Z Said

 

First off how precious is this “Valentime’s Day Cards, Box of Love”?


IMG_4141I love the way children have such a unique way of looking at things. When my computer went black Z panicked and I told him not to worry and explained that it just went into sleep mode. Then the screen saver slideshow popped up which was pictures of polar bears, hummingbirds, and pretty nature scenes and Z said “so is then is that what the computer is dreaming?” Such a cute way to think of it.

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I think we’ve all asked this question, but one night while laying in bed Z asked why does most of the stuff in America say Made in China? 

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If you know anything about Minecraft you will know why this was such a thoughtful card to make for your best bud’s birthday. 

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Z created a very sincere colorful heart felt card for when his grandpa was having surgery with the words “I hope you live” written on the front. I was careful with my response, but I made him redo it.

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I asked Z a bunch of questions that I saw online and one was “What was your mom like as a child?” His answer was “I have no idea. I wasn’t around in 1966”. For the record I was born in ’82!

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Z posted these signs on his door one day it says “Welcome to fun land. You can do whatever you want. Knock if you hear playing please!” I don’t know about the do whatever you want, but at least he said please. 

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Another creative project from the little dude was when he made “snail shells” out of reusable bags for himself and his siblings. 

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I know there were a ton of other moments I could have photographed or written down, but sometimes you just take life’s moment in the moment and enjoy it as it passes. I have been pretty emotional about this milestone for Z (probably pregnancy hormones). But I’ll save all the mushy stuff for tomorrow. I still have one more day with my seven year old.

By | September 3rd, 2015|Family, My Life, Uncategorized|2 Comments

Are Unexcused Absences Ever Excusable?

I take school and academics very seriously, but I am not opposed to missing a day every once in a while even when the reasons aren’t related to death or illness. Maybe you’ve seen some of the headlines in the news lately.

Mike Rossi is a dad who wrote a very passionate letter to the school’s principal which then went viral. The letter came as a response to the disapproval of him taking his kids out of school to watch him run in the Boston Marathon.

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Then there was a mom, who was also a substitute teacher that was ARRESTED because her 10 year old honor student had too many unexcused absences. He was allowed 6, but had 12. Some of those were excused with a doctor’s note, but the mother, Julie Giles, claims they were all illness related. Giles says:

“The truth is, l cannot afford a copay every single time they are sick, but I never want to send them to school when they feel bad or could possibly get others sick,”

No doctor’s note, no excuse. Sometimes your child is too sick for school, but not sick enough to have to see a doctor. I completely understand what that’s like! On the other hand there are always two sides to every story. I do realize the importance of rules and protocol, but it’s like Mike Rossi said in regards to his children’s Boston Marathon absences

“Zero tolerance equals zero common sense, and in this case, they made this blanket rule and say, no exceptions? It’s silly.”

Thankfully I haven’t run into this problem with our schools. My children have missed school for various reasons, including trips and family events. I know their classmates have too. I haven’t heard or experienced any backlash from this.

When my husband J was wrapping up his last semester he wanted to bring Z to his college campus to see a project he had been working on. J had spent months working to perfect a Tic-Tac-Toe game. I know that might sound ridiculous for a grown man who is in college, but maybe a little less silly when you realize he was programing software that would enable a robot to play Tic-Tac-Toe. J had been sending updates and videos to Z every step of the way and now that it was finally complete he really wanted Z to be able to see it in action. So I emailed his teacher and told the school exactly what was going on knowing that this was technically an unexcused absence. His teacher and the faculty were extremely supportive. Z was able to be a part of invaluable learning opportunity visiting a college campus and playing Tic-Tac-Toe with a robot in 1st grade! Not to mention the priceless memories with his dad.

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I really hope these irrational standards for school attendance are isolated incidences and that the majority of our schools really do support the families they are serving.

So, let’s chat.

Did your parents allow you to miss school for certain events when you were growing up? What about your children? I think you know how I feel.

By | May 28th, 2015|Schooling, Uncategorized|16 Comments

Last Day of Kindergarten

Today I put Z on the bus for last time, at least for Kindergarten. I remember putting him on the bus for the first time 9 months ago. I watched him square his shoulders, march to the back, and sit next to the window with the seriousness of a soldier reporting for duty. You could tell he felt like a grown up. All I saw was my little 5 year old who was changing right before my very eyes.
And change he did. Today he brought home some final assignments, one of which he had been working on since the beginning of the year.
The first page chronicled how he wrote his name and drew a self portrait the first week of school.
One of the final pages was the same thing except from the last week of kindergarten.
It’s amazing how much his hair and ears grew this year. Just kidding, it’s a lovely drawing.
At the beginning of the year he could write very short words and made attempts with sentences that he was already familiar with. He was reading books that were specifically designed for the earliest of readers. You know the kind, where the content is limited to three word sentences with three letter words like “Sam can sit”.
A year later and he is writing sentences like the ones from this worksheet.
Obviously he has some spelling to work on, but this is Kindergarten. He’s doing SUPERB if I do say so myself.
He loves to read and write stories. The other day he wrote an elaborate story which he labeled “non fiction” (in his own spelling) and it was all about his trip to New York City from over a year ago. As I was flipping through the pages I looked at my mom and I said “does this make you think of anyone one” hinting that it reminded me of myself at a young age and she agreed. He isn’t reading chapter books or anything, but when he is reading a story he doesn’t want to put it down and sometimes this calls for reading on the go.
I pray that this thirst for literature stays with him. Maybe it will, or maybe he will mellow out with age and that’s fine. I am glad though to see him start off on the right foot. Here is part of what I shared with Z’s teacher today in a thank you card I gave her.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better teacher for Z’s first year of school. He learned so much from you, but most importantly he learned to love school. What better way to kick off the next 12 years!”
I have had so many emotions going on this past week from this latest milestone after the struggle that we have been through to get to this place. I am grateful that we made it, and that God, as always, has been so faithful. It has been a great year for Z.
Boys begin boys after their graduation.
 I know that his school and his teacher were perfect for him during this season and I feel incredibly blessed. I am proud of my son.

 

 

I can’t wait to see what comes next.

By | May 31st, 2014|My Life, Uncategorized|2 Comments

Z’s Birth Story

The Birth Story of Mr. Z

It all started on September 3, 2007. It was Labor day (what a coincidence). We were going to my sister in law’s house for a family get to together. I knew I was having some kind of contractions, so I brought my suitcase just in case. The feelings continued when we got there, but I really thought it was false labor. I took a walk, a hot bath, and laid down, but they didn’t stop. I sat in a room with 6 moms and one nurse sharing their stories and trying to help me figure out if this was really it.

That night on the way home the contractions were coming around 4 minutes apart. By that time everyone had finally talked me into stopping by the birth center. Once we got there the midwife examined me and I was 5 cm dilated, 95% effaced. I guess I really was in labor! After that, things progressed pretty quickly. Everything was coming strong and fast and I started to throw up. We went upstairs to where I would deliver and I threw up several more times, but finally it stopped.

My favorite part of labor was when we played the song from our wedding “Still The One” and it was just me and my husband taking in the magnitude of the moment, our lives were about to be changed forever!

I proceeded to lie down in the bed as the moment drew closer. I thought my water had broken and it turned out to be blood loss and because of this they decided to break my water because it was time for the baby to come out!

I pushed for about 20 minutes. I was in so much pain and ready for it to be over. They had to put me on oxygen for a little while. Once I saw my baby though it really did all go away. My husband was the one that “caught” the baby with the help of our midwife, and he was the one that placed our newborn in my arms, it was AMAZING!

We loved him before he was even here, but to be able to hold him at last was indescribable. Everything was going as I hoped it would, I had done it all naturally. My husband was by my side, my baby was in my arms…

but then things took a turn for the worse. I was told that the placenta was not coming out on it’s own. At this time I don’t even know what happened. Everyone said I looked gray, like I was going to pass out. They hooked me up to an IV, gave me more oxygen, gave me oral liquid supplements. I had to get out of the bed and start pushing again. All that is fine when you have the baby as motivation, but having to go through all the breathing and pushing for the PLACENTA!? It was not fun, and it was not coming either. It was almost to the point of having to be transferred to the ER, when my midwife started praying out loud. She was calm and yet very authoritative, everyone in the room started praying- and that was the moment that the placenta was delivered!!!
From there, our parents joined us and the baby was examined. He weighed 8lbs 11 oz and was 21.25 inches. None of us expected him to be that big.

I was exhausted. The 3 of us slept together at the birth center that night and the next day at noon we went home with our perfect baby boy.

So that is pretty much the whole story of the day we became parents.

By | September 9th, 2008|Lifestyle, My Life, Natural Living, Pregnancy & Birth|3 Comments