Education · family · life · through my camera lens

First day of school

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Yesterday was a tough day for the boys. They are not ready to start school. They asked me if I felt like summer went fast or slow. My answer? I said I felt like it’s been forever since the end of the year, but it seems like the start of school came too fast. This is very true. I can’t believe the school year is here. We had a great summer. Our vacations were good, but more important than that, the boys had fun. They were always off on their bikes going and doing things with friends.

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This is the first time the boys will be in different schools since Blake was in kindergarten and Colby was in preK. Colby asked to set his alarm early enough to say good-bye to Blake.

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This morning they were both in good spirits and found their independence and were ready to go. Richard drove Blake to the bus on his way to work, Colby set off walking to the bus. Dixie wasn’t sure what to think about everyone leaving. I wonder what she will think on Monday when I have to go to work too?

So here are my thoughts: I wish for them both a year of learning, growth and discovery. I hope they find their voice, confidence and sense of self. I hope they remember they are loved, they have a space and a purpose, and that the world is theirs to grab. I hope they are kind and understanding and yet strong and independent.

 

 

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Education · family · life

School visits

The last two days found me driving around from school to school. Yesterday we went to the middle school. We spent time walking Blake’s schedule, practicing locker combinations and just getting accumulated to the new school.

Today we went to check out Colby’s class. He already knew where it was and it is actually the same teachers Blake had last year. I really wanted to go so we could get his supply list.

While we were there, Colby discovered a few people who would be in his class this year. He has other friends in his biome (collection of 4 classes who travel together for lunch and recess). We stopped in and chatted with the librarian. The library is always a place my sons love to hang out.

Blake saw a few other 7th graders and found out that he knows a few people who will be in his class as well. This was a big relief to him. Up until that time he hadn’t found anyone who was working on the same rotation schedule never mind the same classes.

Over the years, I only had a few moments where I was concerned about the boys starting school. I was NOT the mom crying while dropping off for pre-K or kindergarten. All the grades moving forward while in FL were fine. I had moments of concern more in wondering who would be in their class and would there be someone there for each of them.

When we moved to PA, I was concerned about Blake going into 5th grade. Colby was entering 4th, which is the major transition age in our school district. There are three elementary schools that service children K-3. Then they all transition to the upper elementary school for 4th-6th. This meant that while some children would know each other, there would already be a mixing of students from different schools. Blake was entering when the mix up was already complete.

This year, Blake is entering middle school. I hope that he has a better middle school experience than I had, or Richard for that matter. These years are so tough. It is such a personal transition for all the kids. I just want him to feel comfortable in his place. To find an activity to get involved in. To have people to sit with at lunch. To feel safe in the hallways. To be confident enough to show what he knows and not too cocky that he tries to outshine. I hope he continues to have a love of learning and begins to figure out what he wants to do with this knowledge going forward.

So we went back to the middle school today and practice opening his locker again. We went under the premise of bringing in his school supplies, well his binders anyway. We will spend the first part of the week adjusting to the new sleep schedules (he will have to wake up at 5:45 to be ready for the bus).

A week from today. I will send him off on the bus to start middle school… I just hope I’m ready.

family · life

What to say, how do you cope

It saddens me, that yet again I’ve had to talk to my sons about the crazy injustice of mass shootings. I’ve spoken about this multiple times here on my blog (here, here  here and here).

Yesterday, the boys were listening to The Daily, a podcast they listen to all the time. On the podcast, they were talking about the latest two mass shootings. It saddens me how many times we have had to talk about this in their short lives. No person should grow up knowing/feeling that there is a good possibility that they could be part of a mass shooting. While we know logically that this possibility is slim, it exists.

Why?

That is the question that doesn’t have a good answer. Why do they do this? Why can’t we stop this? Why does this continue to happen? What can we do about it?

I often have people ask me about schools and what schools are doing. More importantly what can they do to help their child while at school.

Here are a few things my sons and I talk about whenever these conversations come up.

  • Don’t live in fear
  • Keep your head on a swivel and be aware of your environment
  • Stay calm
  • Listen

One situation that I often tell parents to talk to their child about is what do you do if you are not in a classroom during a lock down. Often times parents get upset when they hear that teachers will not open the door of the classroom if they hear a child knock on it. But, I ask you this… how do you know it is a child? We are trained to protect our students. Hide the students. If we open the door, we aren’t hiding or protecting the students inside the room. Yes, it could be a child outside the door, or it could be the threat. So, what should a child do?

First, as soon as you hear there is a lock down, head to a classroom… the teachers are told to check the hallways while locking down and bring any child into the room with them.

Next, look around, where can you hide? Trash can? Closet? Stairwell? Go to rooms with multiple doors, they take longer to lock down. Can you get outside? If you can, do not leave campus, but get away and hide. Hide under a car, in a storage shed, in the bushes far away from the building.

What can we do for our children…. listen to them. Be honest. Let them know your concerns. Do not shelter them… truth from you is better than misinformation from a peer. Answer their questions.

We have many conversations about this sadness. We have talk about the fact that it is isolated even thought it feels like such a big issue. We do not place blame.

As a parent, it is hard. But, if we give into this fear, they win. If we change our daily lives, they win. If we place blame, we do not deal with the reality of life. So we hug our children a bit harder. We listen a bit more. We continue to be open and honest. We hope, we pray, and we go on with life…. then we win.

 

 

family · life

still learning

The other day Blake made a comment to me… he said if learning doesn’t end at the end of the school year, shouldn’t you be still learning too. I was almost shocked to hear him say this. I’m an avid believer that you never stop learning.

I am always learning different things, but I guess some of that learning doesn’t translate to what the boys see as learning. I learn new ways of cooking. I learn new recipes. I learn things in the books I read and the shows I watch. I also learn when I do professional development for work, which I usually do when they are busy doing other things.

But, what they don’t see is that I learn every day from them. I learn to be more patient. I learn to listen to what is said and what is not said. I learn to wait. I learn that I don’t have all the answers. I learn that people don’t want me to have all the answers. I learn to be a better parent and forgive myself when I’m not. I learn to show them how to move forward in life.

Each stage of their learning and growth brings about learning and growth in me as well.  I am not the same person, parent, teacher… as I was when they were little. I have learned different things from each of them and for that I’m proud. I parent them totally differently and I had to learn that this is such an important thing to convey to them. That this difference does not equate to loving different amounts… it is just treating each of them in a way that helps them move forward in life.

I have learned what to share. When to joke around or be serious. I have learned that there is no right answer.

So… I know that I learn every day. Even if my son thinks I don’t learn.

Education · family · life · through my camera lens

I’d rather you get a B for your own work…

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, shoes and indoorLife with a tween is hard. I’ll be the first to admit this… I have two of them.

Over the years the boys have had MANY projects to complete. They have done science fair projects, book report posters, built models, built egg cars and so much more.

The last few months Blake has had a few different projects to complete. While he is more than capable of completing them, he is not the best with creating timelines of work, or getting things done over time. He knows this. We know this. But, while we will remind him to do things, help him set goals for things to be done, and are there to support him; we WILL NOT do the work for him! (or Colby for that matter… but this post is spurred on by one of Blake’s projects)

So the latest project he had was a Wax Museum of Greek Gods. He knew this project was coming all year. He talked about it all year. He was so excited when he got to pick his God and was able to pick Hermes. Having devoured the Percy Jackson series as well as other books about the Greek Gods he knew who he wanted to be, and all about the God.

He completed the research. Wrote out his speech and was managing to turn in everything on time. Well this weekend he remember that he needed his costume for today. (Well I might have reminded him about this step too).  He had an idea in his head as to what he wanted it to look like. But, he struggled. He wanted it to be perfect. He wanted the vision in his head. When he couldn’t get it right there was some yelling, some frustration. He asked us to do it for him. Our answer was no. I will help you find things. I will give you suggestions. I will print things out… but I will not do it for you.

I looked at him and said “I’d rather you get a B for something you did on your own, then an A for something I did for you.” He looked at me strange. But it won’t be perfect! Life isn’t perfect. Teachers know when students do their own work and when someone does it for them. This is your project…. you do it. He wasn’t happy at the time, but in the long run he was proud of the costume he put together. It is his interpretation of a 21st century Hermes.

While I want him to do well on this project, what I hope he walks away knowing is that he was proud of his work. That he figured it out. That he made it himself. That he did it… and that is what life is about. Stepping up and taking responsibility. Doting what needs to be done and owning the results.

 

family · life

Happy Mother’s Day

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Today is Mother’s Day. It is a day to celebrate all the special women in your life. So if you are a mom. A mom to a fur child. A grandmother. An aunt. A dad who plays the role of both mom and dad…. or even another person who tries to fill in the roll of mom for any child….. thank you.

This is one of those non-holidays to me. It will be a quiet day that we spend together doing a lot of nothing…. and am good with that!

We spent the morning going through all the Food Network magazines and cutting out the recipes worth keeping so I could clean out that drawer. We are doing laundry. Later we will call both my mom and Richard’s mother to wish them a happy mother’s day.

Tonight we are making chicken salsa nachos.

Simple, easy… that’s the way to spend the day.

 

life

Last day of April

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Here we are… the last day of April. I will actually tell you that April went by really fast for me. It wasn’t a bad month, it was just a month. I think with the boys having a week off in the middle it made the month feel very chopped up.

Today I kept Colby home from school. He was coughing a lot this morning. I know it is his allergies, but they had another day of state testing. I didn’t want him to be coughing and miserable for not only his sake, but those of his classmates as well. I brought him into work with me. This allowed me to work. Him to have a place to chill out, and get a few more doses of his inhaler during the day.

My students really enjoyed having him in the classroom. He is really good with younger children. He is patient and understand that they need to be challenged at a level that is appropriate. He had fun, but he would not like to be there on a regular basis.

Now this means that he will have to do make up testing another day. It was a math test day. Colby is my laid back, go with the flow kid, so I’m not too worried. Plus, he is a strong math student so I know that he will be fine in any setting taking the test.

I only hope that May brings a month of healthy family members. The pollen as well as the swings in temperatures have been hard on all of us this month. Coughing, sneezing, and itchy eyes can go away any day now…. please!

I hope your last day of April was full of sunshine and smiles… if not, well tomorrow is a new month!

 

life

Stop trying to make it seem easy

Ok just a heads up, I expect this might end up one of my rambling posts…. I warned you!

I have been reading the book I’m Fine and Neither Are You by Camille Pagan. (I’ll tell you about the book when I finish reading it,) There was a statement in the book that made me think. A minor character in the book made this comment to the main character “Stop trying to make it all seem easy”.

I often feel like people try to hide the imperfections. No one wants to show that they can’t handle it all. I know there are many times that I try to hide what is going on my mind. I don’t want anyone to see that I can do something, handle something, move forward with whatever is going on in my mind.

Do not get me wrong. I know I am not perfect. I know that I can not do everything, fix everything, solve all the ills… but that doesn’t mean that I don’t want others to think I can. In the past I posted about the difference between confidence vs cocky.  I often wonder if people perceive cockiness in others so much because of the fact of the fear to show errors.

I know that there are times when I put up my guard more than other times. There are times when I step back and think…. can I do this? What do I need to do to get by?

But, why? Why is there this need to feel like you can’t show your flaws? Why do we put on a mask to show only the things we want people to see? What is it that makes us so concerned about others perception of our flaws?

What can we do to change this? How can we support each other so that the fear of being seen as a failure goes away? How can we show each other that it is ok to make mistakes? What can we do to create a bigger safe space where people feel less under the magnifying glass, but more in the space of just being real.

I am not perfect.

I do not have all the answers

I do not know how to fix everything

I cannot do it all

I am human

I try my best

I will provide the best answer I have

I will help you mend it

But, I am me… and I can’t be more than that.

family · life

I know you know

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Happy Easter to you all. Today has already been an interesting day. The boys came downstairs and their baskets were sitting on the table this year. They dove into their baskets and were happy with everything they found, but that was the end of the happy.

In the past, we hid the boys Easter baskets. The boys would find plastic on the table (one each). Inside the eggs there would be a clue. The clue would send them to the next egg with the next clue. This would go on for 5 or 6 eggs until they found their hidden basket.

Why was it different this year? We had decided a while ago that both boys knew that Santa/Easter Bunny/Tooth Fairy etc were all fictitious.  There have been so many clue over the year that they knew. Over the last few years we have known that they were suspicious.

Just like in so many various situations of life, this whole situation worked differently than most families expect. While in most families the parents are not ready for the children to admit they know. But, I guess in this family one of my sons was not ready to admit he knew.

I had to spend the morning explaining that this was not us being mean. We were not trying to ruin the holiday.  Life is about change. Change is hard, but change is good. We will continue to do many of the traditions we have always done, but now they can be part of the traditions. They can help create new traditions.

Holidays are a time to spend with family. It is a time to relax and enjoy spending the day the way we went. So after a while of talking, crying and explaining life and change, we moved on with the morning.

We knew it was time to admit that we knew they knew. I knew it was time to make changes. It will be strange change, but it was needed.

 

family · life

It’s not my job to make your life easy

Life is never simple or straight forward. It is a series of twists, turns and bumps in the road. As parents our job is not to make the road smooth or straight. It should not be to make life easy, happy and/or simple for our children. We need to realize that we can’t go through our child’s life making it easy for them. That isn’t the job of a parent. Yes, it sucks to see your child hurting. Yes, we want our children to enjoy the moments of life. But, I do not understand why people feel that children always need to be happy. That they always need to feel that everything will go smoothly. What are we teaching them?

Over the years I’ve told my sons many times, I’m not going to rescue you. If you leave your lunch at home, oh well eat lunch from school. If you do not complete or turn in a homework assignment, understand that it will effect your grade. If you want to figure out a way to fix it, you e-mail the teacher, you step up and try to fix it.

Richard and I believe that our job it to be there to help the boys figure out how to fix things themselves. How to cope with disappointments just as much as how to enjoy the happy moments.

One of the boys teachers e-mailed the class the other day saying that many parents were e-mailing about homework. The teacher said that the children needed to copy the information in their planners each week. The children needed to make sure they had the materials needed to complete and turn in their homework each week. My boys are in 5th and 6th grade. This is not a parent problem at this point… it is the responsibility of the child! We talk to the boys about this. They need to make sure the homework is done on time and turned in. We have created routines and procedures for getting homework completed. We do not check that it gets done… that is on them. We only help with homework when asked.

I have shown the boys how missing assignments effect grades. I will tell you honestly that these missing assignments have effected their grades. But, I refuse to fight their battles. If the assignments and grades are important to them, then they will see that they need to make a change. If it is not important to them, then why should I waste my energy on it? What are they learning other than I can be a nag?

I strongly believe that as your child gets older they should already have encountered bumpy roads. They should have seen that life isn’t a collection of simple moments strung together. They need to learn to deal with disappointment and hardship. They need to see that when they fail or even just falter they are capable of picking themselves up, dusting themselves off and moving on.

We as parents need to stop trying to make life easy for our children. We need to help our children learn to deal with all life has to give… the good, the bad and the OMG what just happened. Then and only then can they move forward as successful humans.