Monday, April 16, 2012

A Strangers Kindness

This weekend we took in the fun of the local Boise State Football spring game. Chicken has claimed he would play there since he was four, and the last few years he has been looking up to Bronco Shea McClelin, also nicknamed Chicken Dinner.  Shea just graduated and is headed off to the NFL Draft. I assume Chicken will follow whatever team gets the luck of picking up Shea.

Before the scrimage the first Optomist sign ups for the year occur also. Chicken has been pretty jazzed at getting to start Optomist flag football next year so we decided to do his weigh in and sign up at the kick off.  When we finished sorting him out for sign ups we were told the kids could go out and play through drill with some of the Boise State Football players on the field.  As we headed out towards the field Chicken got noticably quiter.  As we hit the edge of the field, where parents were allowed he froze, suddenly my crazy loud outgoing boy was so shy he was on the verge of crying. This isn't the first time that the excitement of the moment has brough Chicken to this frozen shy fear.  Sometimes I can get him to snap out of this frozen state and have a great time, we knew if he would only go out there he would love it.  Thankfully another mom stepped in.

While Chicken sat on my knee and I tried everything I could to get him out on the field a mom right next to us looked over and told us her son used to be just like that.  Her and I chatted a bit and her ten year old came back from running around on the field. At that moment she broke off chatting and talked with her son quietly for a few moments. Next thing I knew her son was in front of Chicken asking if he would go out on the field with him, all it took was a few words and Chicken was in. Relief washed over me as he headed off to the field and had a wonderful time. I could not be more thankful for this mother reaching out and asking he son to help us. Hopefully in a few years we can return the favor to another boy in need of someone to head out on the field. 

Both boys had fun and I thanked the other boy and mother again profusely for the time they took to help out Chicken.  As a parent I experience these moments of other parents helping out. Has a total parent stranger giving you a hand, have you ever done something like this?

This is when I know all parents are superheros, they see anothers pain and help relieve it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Happy Chatty

Honestly I am totally out of ideas to type today, but I did take note that both kids are in great moods and neither one will hush long enough for me to think of something to write.

Don't laugh by the way, I realize the irony that I am crazy chatty and hence have two chatty kids. The issue is happy chatty kids in this house, don't seem to talk to people, they talk to the universe about separate topics, at the same time.

Bean is currently chatting at us, or the cat or who knows about how Os are easy in cursive.  When I am really trying to focus or concentrate I may hum or sing, which annoys people to no end, and I am wondering if her 'chatting' does the same thing for her.  As the person who has to listen to this 'chatting' and is trying to do something else, man is it annoying. Sorry to all the people I have annoyed over the years, I am sure it has happened a lot.  So as Bean chats away the play by play of her cursive home work and everything else going on in the house and I keep reminding her to finish her work, someone will eventually achieve something.

Chicken is also talking at the same time Bean is and not talking about Bean's cursive homework. The humming noise of both kids talking at once is sometimes a nice white noise, but right now is making me crazy because I for some strange reason am actually trying to listen to both kids talk at once. While Bean happily chatters about her homework Chicken has words running from his mouth at a faster rate than I can form the response to all the questions he is asking, apparently all in one long run on sentence. Again, I get the irony, get over it, I'm sorry.  Finally I reach over, and touch Chicken's nose. He stops and for 15 seconds and I can hear Bean and start answering Chickens answer.

If you see someone running from my neighborhood early evening assume it is me and I just need a break.

Do you have happy chatters what do you do to deal with them?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Encouraging Independence

Last weekend Bean wanted to go on an adventure.  She occasionally likes to wander the neighborhood on what she calls neighborhood adventures.  Last weekend though she wanted to go on a big adventure, to walk to school and back.  Last year I read a book about Free Range parenting and this adventure to school was just what they were talking about.

As I sent Bean and Chicken out the door with a cell phone in Beans pocket, the mom fear was there, but I knew it was important to let them go.  As a parent sometimes the hardest thing is opening up the door to adventure and possibly failure for your kids.  The kids made it to the school, played some basketball and came home.  They were very proud of themselves, and after the fact I realized how silly I was to be worried at all, there are no major streets to cross and I had walked the route with the kids a few times.  The fears that I have are some times irrational, fed by media sensationalism, and sometimes legitimate.  The thing that is tough is being able to balance what the kids need in regards to encouraging independence with making sure they have all the tools they need for said independence.

You may ask what I mean by ensuring they have the skills to succeed.  Walking to and from school doesn't require tons of prep, do they know where they are going do, they know not to completely lose the plot when they got lost.  Bean can lose the plot pretty easy which is part of the reason we have slowly worked towards more independence, but without attempts like a walk to school she will never learn she has the skills to handle getting lost. There are other types of independence though, and some of those require a lot of skills training.  Knowing how to sew, cook and do laundry are key skills needed for independence and somehow we need to teach them all these skills without the house burning down, me loosing my mind, and the kids being able to get what they need.

So where are we with learning all these great skills?  The kids can use a cell phone mostly, they haven't burned the house down but can't cook too much, and Chicken is petrified of needles. We'll get there eventually, but knowing when to push the skills and the independence is all about the kid and what they need and can handle at the that time.

What are you doing to teach independence and get your kiddos the skills they need? How do you manage your mom fears when it comes to independence?

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Being at the end of the alphabet sucks

The kids headed back to school this week and it came with the coming dread of Beans science experiment.  At  Meet the Teacher night this year the teachers said for each students, Star Student Week, they would be asked to show off a science experiment.  Initially we were really excited by this, then we found out that Star Student was in alphabetically order.  We have spent the last few weeks pouring through the internet looking for something that hasn't been done yet, that will be ok to do in a classroom.  These are the conclusions from Bean, everything cool has been done and explaining (insert thing here) is way too tough for me.

Seeing that I married into this Z based last name I never considered how much alphabetical order is a pain when you are at the bottom of the ABC food chain.  There are advantages to being at the end of the alphabet, every year we know what the kids student class number will be, the highest number in the class. This science experiment though is really making it tough.  We are now looking beyond Mythbusters, since everything that a 9 year old could do has been done and have moved on to Penn and Teller. Bean is talking about doing the balancing the beer bottle.  I can't quite remember what this one is, but the internet shall provide, like always.  The thing I wonder about though is what other impacts and creativity will we have to come up with in the next few years since we are the end of the alphabet.  Sitting in either the last seat or front seat are a give in of alphabetically order, but what about the picnic game.  How do you play the picnic game with the letter Z, I am going on a picnic and I am going to bring a Zebra?  For tests will they have to go last and watch everyone crash and burn around them, for presentations will everyone be drooling asleep on their desks when they finally stand up.  Honestly I am not sure if that last thing is really a negative, I could have used more uninterested people when I gave class presentations.

I am sure we will find an experiment and it will be cool, but man this going last thing bites. Maybe next time she will get to go first.

A Pinterest Easter

This is not my first post concerning Pinterest and my love of the site.  I spend way to much time pinning tons of fun activities and attempting to do them.  This Easter I built a board just for the holiday and pinned away all the super cool funky fun activities that I was interested in trying out.  Did I try all of them all, heck no.  I picked a few key things that looked easy, cheap and pretty quick and off we went.

The first things we tried were with peeps.  We love peeps, but no one in the house actually eats them, except Bean and she gets sick two peeps in.  I was looking for color in our decorations this year and the peeps seemed like a great idea. we did the peep vase and the wreath.  The vase went really well, we did a vase in a vase so that one held the jelly beans and peeps and the other one the flowers.  The vase is beautiful, adds a great bit of color and looks good. The wreath is another story.  We used a picture frame and we should have gone round.  We also used jelly beans to fill in the holes and I wasn't really impressed by the final outcome.  The other problem we have found is that the peeps color fades quickly in the sun. Overall it isn't bad, and I want to think of more to do with peeps.The latest sewing project were the cute little bunny sacks you see here.  Bean is learning to sew and I thought these would be a great, challenging project for her.  First thing was that I should have made the pattern for these bigger.  Due to their small size the bunnies were difficult to get right side out and sewing the ears was more of a challenge than it should have been.  Also those little ears were a pain for me to stuff with batting.  Overall though this was the cutest project I have done in some time and we really liked it. I have a number of more bunnies cut out, but forgot how to get the thread on the small spool so we are waiting for mema and popi to come back and will finish the project and their house this weekend. They were a gift for them anyways. Our final Pinterest adventure centered around egg decorations.  We tried three separate ideas with this run and most turned out in some way shape or form.  The main attempt was to decorate the eggs using Kool Aid.  I liked this idea on a couple levels, it was cheap and smelled good and the colors washed off clothes pretty easy.  The big issue with this adventure was that because we didn't use vinegar and we kept trying to do different things the dye kept coming off with our fingers.  Another fun thing we tried was doing rubber band art around the coloring.  The rubber banding should have created a stripped pattern of varied colors, this did not turn our quite as expected. The rubber bands turned out to be difficult to get to stay on the wet eggs and our fingers kept taking the dye off.  The last thing we tried was a few storm trooper eggs.  These were tough to keep still and Chicken wanted to color the eggs with the Kool Aid way more than try to frustratingly draw on them.  Overall the eggs were hit and miss, but it was sure fun trying it out.We are all ready for Easter and had a great time trying out lots of new things, thanks to Pinterest.  Some worked and some didn't but I find that the interesting part of trying new things, sorting out how to make it work for us.  I have not included links to any of the things I found because I want you all to head out and find your own. Good luck..Do you have any Pinterest loves?  My username is beepnz if you want to follow me.  

Thursday, March 29, 2012

What do I want....

I didn't post on Tuesday because I have been contemplating my navel and that can be time consuming. Two different individuals, professionals we will call them, have asked me what I wanted or what my goals were around a number of personal things.  They both stated that they didn't want me to write down what other people wanted of me, or what was expected of me.  They wanted me to state or put into a goal what I wanted, just for myself.

So I did the obvious thing and totally avoided the first persons request until the second person asked the same thing. I have a personal policy, if two people ask you to do something you are dragging on, do it, that is your sign from the universe you REALLY need too.

This leads to what I want and what goals I have for myself. Goals as a whole are droll and bother me on some terribly epic level, I see them as the BS and generally just another method by which to be overly critical so I am skipping them and talking wants with you.  Now these aren't the wants like winning the lottery or having a live in maid, these are the wants the things I want to strive for and they can be in any arena of your life.  Here we go....

I want...
To be able to spend time with my family exploring, experimenting and generally enjoying each other.  I don't mean that I want that time to be doing the laundry, cleaning the house, chauffeuring the kids and running errands either.

To not feel as old as the guy 10 years older than me on the elliptical next to me at the gym. I know this may sound like winning the lottery, but it isn't really.  I want to eat healthy food, exercise enough to run away from the angry dogs in the neighborhood, not wake up or get up from the couch making the old noises(and you all know what those are), and be able to just occasionally school the kids in something physical.  Why I may be joking about this, I am working on getting myself in shape, healthy and once again comfortable in my skin.

To have a career that is intellectually challenging, allows me to feel like I an helping not hurting, and that meets the financial needs of our family.  Seeing that it feels like I spend most of my energy at work and currently I am not off feeding the poor; I would hope that instead of people seeing me as some crazed overly rigid process looned out woman they see me as someone who is trying to help make things better and more consistent. Hey at least I care right...

To be the kind of person that has a great group of friends I keep in touch with using more than just Facebook and occasionally actually see in real life.  I have the friends, just not investing the time in them like I should be, and Facebook is my primary means of communication.  Yes, I suck.

To assist in the betterment of my community and assist in the things
I care about. There is only so much time so my current volunteering is limited to the kids school and the occasional work organized event, but I truly do love volunteering and the sense of community it brings.

Enough financial security to be able to take care of whatever the latest therapy is that Bean needs without giving something up or be able to spend a weekend away without feeling bad about spending the money.  We like most people seem to constantly try to balance saving up with the mounting cost of groceries and sometimes it is just a total pain.

The kids to be happy, well adjusted, loving adults who don't live in our house, hold jobs and have mostly fond memories of childhood.  Barring that, that the kids to not need so much therapy as adults that they feel like we need to pay for it.

I accept that there are only so many hours and I have only so much energy, but little by little year after year I hope to at least come to peace with these wants and be able to find a balance.

Though, if by some crazed work ethic, that we all know I don't have, these wants are achieved next on the list will be a personal chef, maid, and financial independence so I don't have to work.

If someone asked you what would you want, without anyone else s' expectations needs just you??

Monday, March 19, 2012

Blathering on a Blog

A little over a year ago I committed to myself to blog twice a week for a year.  As a way to work through what was going in with the kids and reach out to as many people as possible I started blathering online for help and inspiration.   I have found all that and more.

When I started blogging, it was to reach out and get help, but I get more than that these days. Reaching out for help and advice is still great and there are times someones words end up saving the kids on rough days.  This blog also gives me that chance to write, which is something I have always enjoyed but frequently felt too self conscious to do.  My spelling, grammar and structure are pretty crappy,  but in a blog it seems there is just a lot more forgiveness which makes me feel more comfortable.  From this blog I ended up taking on the nanowrimo challenge last year and did succeed in writing 50,000 words(175 page book) in one month, yeah me.  Another opportunity from this blog has been the ability to blather about things that are important to me; water safety, kids and social media, the work home balance.  Having a forum to blather has been nice, especially on busy weeks when I spend all week going from kid activity to work and don't really get a chance to truly talk to other adults. 

The last few weeks I have been fighting a major sinus infection, the flu, and I am sure a few other things so I haven't really been taking the time to keep the blog posts coming at their regularly scheduled times.  On top of that I just didn't feel like I had a whole lot to say.  I am sure the idea of not having to much to say is laughable to most people who know me, but ya know we all have our days.  Hopefully in the next weeks I will get back on schedule with blogging and continue to torture the rules of English here for the amusement of all. 

See ya around, hopefully Monday and Thursday mornings here.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Lego Love

Chicken and Bean have recently become very interested in Lego's, specifically the Lego Ninjago line.  There is something about Lego bricks that I see as creative, outside the box, and encourages spacial thinking.  All the specific sets though sometimes seem to grate against that idea to me.

Somehow I had thought since neither kid was into Lego's by the time they were six or so that maybe they wouldn't be part of our house, I was totally wrong happily.  It seems the reason Lego's hadn't caught on was that the sets the kids wanted were too old for them, now that Chicken has hit 7 those little bricks are coming in so often it is hard to keep up.  To keep the collections at least loose together we put them in gallon size zip lock bags with the instructions but I am starting to question this tactic.  Though both kids are overly particular that the sets stay together I want to see them build more free form out of the box items.

In an attempt to get more creative, non direction following Lego building going on we had a make your own creation (MYOC) contest in the house today.  Showing creativity and trying without whining got you a silver mini fig bag.  Cars tend to be the most created item, but Bean did build a compound, without a roof, and a self watering garden.  It was fun to see the kids look outside of the directions and just build, I want to see it happen more often and need to continue to encourage thinking outside of the directions.

Lastly, if anyone knows where to pick up Legos on sale or what time of year they go on sale hook me up. Those cute little bricks aren't cheap

Monday, March 5, 2012


When four years ago we decided to send Bean to a year round magnet school, the year round aspect was just frosting. The school has an arts focus which melds with her very well, and it backs up to our daycare, which is beyond convenient. The idea that it was year round was a plus at the time for the two reasons, we get to go on vacation when everyone is in school and it spread out the daycare bill. Paying summer daycare can be hard when you spend the whole year paying so much less, for us the bill gets spread out to break times so the seven to eight week summer isn’t quite so bad.

Unbeknownst to us there was another great advantage to year round school, the March track break. As winter starts to fad and the crazy Idaho spring starts to emerge little bodies get restless and being able to not focus on school for three weeks is a huge advantage. Track break tends to coincide with a number of larger projects coming due and kid and parent requirements for these projects are time consuming. Being able to just let all the learning of the last three months sort of sink in and have a lot of physical activity for those restless bodies, thanks daycare, makes the last push until summer break much more tolerable. The other thing I enjoy about track break is that it seems to logically separate out the studies for the year, something tells me the teachers are just great and doing this. Right now first grade is wrapping up their solids, liquids, or gas module and will start on living structures when they return from break, and I think third grade is wrapping up simple machines with the big invention convention this Friday.

For us break starts next week and we cannot wait. The idea of no regular homework that has to get done, no spelling words that need checking is just too exciting. Break doesn’t mean a full stop to any academics though; 20 minutes of reading is still required on what is usually school nights and I think we will be having a few lego build offs to keep our minds sharp. I have to say Bean is really good at always needing to start some new tutoring or therapy this time of year and getting a few weeks to transition into that while school isn’t going is always helpful.

The one drawback or issue with March break is that spring in Idaho is crazy; today the weather is expected to be 65 and tomorrow 32 with snow. Plans get canceled quick when it goes from 65 to 32, and the ground can go from dry to swamp land in minutes. March track break means lots more laundry since the kids are out playing in whatever the weather happens to be. Eventually when Bean is in junior high and Chicken is still in elementary I assume track break won’t be so great since the kids will be on different schedules, but I think we can hold on for two years while they are off schedule with one another.

What is your school schedule? Do you love it, hate it? Is your district trying anything new with schedules?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Work vs Home: Up to my ears in mom guilt

In the next week between the two kids there are at least four activities, appointments, or school presentations that will take me away, or could take me, away from work before my usual business hours end of day.  I work a for a some what flexible company that allows me the chance to occasionally, frequently lately; attend meetings, events and activities during my work hours. I of course make the hours up, but there is a point when too much is too much.  I want to make sure I am not taking advantage of my work situation but still be there for my family, but how?

Sadly as of late I am making the must appointments and passing on the class presentations and optional 'fun' things and this is starting to tick me off. Time moves by and the kids may or may not even notice our presence at events, but I want to be there to cheer them on. Currently due to the high number of assessments, doctor appointments, and other innocuous meetings being able to show my support is not always going to be at the big presentation, which Bean has two of in the next two weeks. She will learn from all these events and know I love and support her, but I still will have the 'mom guilt', the knowledge I wasn't there to see her shine.

So how do you combat the mom guilt?

I have thrown pity parties for the mom guilt, it didn't go away. I listened to other moms mom guilt, it didn't go away.  I have talked to it, cajoled in and finally I think accepted it. I have accepting that the mom guilt will not go away and that it is OK. I will still try to make everything and feel bad when I don't', but knowing I tried and I wanted to will have to be enough.  Hopefully years from now when her sits on her therapists couch and talks about how I was never there for her I will have come to accept it, because at least she won't be talking about how I never loved her, just that I wasn't always there.  Though in her heart she will know I always wanted to be, but that sometimes you just can't.

Do you have mom guilt?  Did you kick her out for good and how?

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Work Travel

Once a year I get the chance to attend a conference with people that do what I do at work.  I work in Change and Configuration Management with an IT Service Management focus.  If you suddenly upon reading that sentence heard the adult wah wah from Charlie Brown, don't worry most people do.  The gist is what I do isn't' done by a lot of people so once a year I get to go hang with a bunch of folks that do what I do.  I love the chance to see what others are doing, but the traveling with nice clothes part always puts me in a panicked funk.

I am not what you would call a girly girl, adult tomboy geek girl is a little better comparison and this makes the idea of traveling with nice clothes that need ironing and to stay nice a bit of a challenge.  This is the second year I am heading to this conference and again I am trying to go with just a carry on bag, that usually isn't a big deal since the conference is only four days, this year though Hubs and I area headed there early so we can play before the conference.  This means in one carry on bag I now needs clothes for 7 days, and I will be switching hotels half way through this.  I can do the pants thing, no issue there, as long as I don't sit in anything; always a chance with me.  Shirts, workout clothes, kick around clothes and keeping it all neat and pressed, not so sure. This doesn't count the work computer, book I am currently reading and all the other junk I am sure will come with me on this trip.

Any ideas, tips and tricks? What do you do to pack light and not look wrinkled and dirty? 

Sunday Homework

 I have always been pretty committed to trying to get homework done on time and Sundays at our house are a great time.  The constant back and forth is when on Sundays this should get done.  To assist with the when of Sunday homework we have jammie homework time, this means homework in jammies and you go no where else and can't get out of your jammies till homework is done.

There are Sundays no one gets out of their jammies all day and there are days when jammie homework doesn't happen, but generally this is working well and is a more relaxed homework time. We try and take full advantage of Sunday's for homework because during the week there are activities going on and homework may not get the focus we would like.  Homework for both kids isn't over whelming yet, but I am sure it is coming and we want to give the kids skills and attention to do the best work possible.

Spelling and reading are the two key activities that need to be accomplished on a Sunday. Both kids have spelling homework weekly and getting assignments done gives us all a great start to the week. Spelling is a strong point for Chicken so though he picks his words up quickly we need to find a way to keep him engaged in practice.  Today he did, he typed in all the spelling words and then arranged them in all sorts of fun ways and printed. While Chicken was busy learning his home keys, Bean and I started work on her paragraph. A fair amount of weeks one of Bean's spelling assignments is to write a paragraph.  Organizing  Beans thoughts and then getting her to type her first draft can be time consuming, but once headed in a direction Bean does great.  She likes getting to write out her rough draft on the computer to fix any spelling issues and then writes out the final paragraph.  Usually Bean gets two spelling assignments done on a Sunday, this helps take the heat off her to hurry through things during the week.  Bean is working on learning cursive and this also takes some time, at this point she usually abandons at least one spelling assignment half way through because she doesn't' like it in cursive.  While she is engaged in spelling Chicken does math, or plays another educational game.  Reading is pretty easy, but Sunday's are great days to have the kids trade off reading aloud or take turns reading to me in another room while the other reads silently.  The unhurried nature of these homework Sundays and the couch potato after effects make for great lazy, but productive Sundays.

What are your homework tricks? Do you have a day a week when you always work on it? How do you manage activities and homework and everything else that needs to get done in a week?

Kids and Social Media

Dear my sweet innocent monkeys,

I write this not because I don't trust you, but because at some point in the near future your poor little frontal lobes are going to go berserk and social media will be there to capture it all.  No matter how much we try and put distance between you and social media, eventually you will both be out there.  Of course there are a few tips you can do to hopefully avoid all the pitfalls inherit in our current over share, TMI culture.

First, remember that everyone around you has a phone, video camera and voice recorder on them at all times. When you are mean, dorky, or just generally stupid remember that it isn't just the people right next to you that will hear/see it.  Someone can post it in seconds and a mean word can become toxic soup to everyone who knows you. Mooning the principal is all fun and good, until someone puts it on Facebook and tags you.  Make sure the people around you have your back and you have theirs, nothing is more powerful than knowing there is someone outside your family you could call in the craziest of circumstances and know no one will know about what happened.

The adage 'do unto others and you would have done unto you', it is something to live by, both in person and on the net.  Currently we, your parents post funny statuses' and pictures and laugh at your fumbles, and you find it funny and like it.  At some point you won't find these posts and pictures funny and as soon as you tell us or show us you aren't ok. they will stop. We will not hesitate to keep your life as private as you want it.  Remember to be a friend like that and not expose your friends faults and make fun of them, in person it is hard to use harsh words, on the internet it seems so easy.   If you have an issue with someone, don't passive aggressively post something on the internet, talk to the person and tell them they are being an ass. Words hurt and if you use hurtful words they will come back to you.  When your friend gets trashed and pukes on a girl at a party, be the friend that blocks the phones taking pictures with your body and get him out of there he will return the favor, and if he doesn't he isn't your friend.

Keep your profiles and relationship status as private as possible.  Playing in social media is great and it is amazing to be able to contact friends far and wide, but you don't want a frenemy getting access to your status and pictures.  You don't want anyone to know you are going out with that boy so that all the cheerleaders call you a bitch, on your profile page.  Sometimes the best part about being in a relationship or experiencing some of the great things you do in youth is the privacy of it, the fact that only a few select friends really know what really happened. There are only a few pictures floating around, a few hidden jokes here and there; hidden jokes aren't hidden if everyone knows what happened.

Post as if your grandma, boss, or mom is looking and reading everything, because eventually they will.  Once  upon a time social media was the home of the young, but no more.  Today your employer goes out and reads your blog, looks at your twitter feed and sees what is posted on instagram.  Suddenly that spring break in Cabo looks a little less fun when you think about grandma looking at wet tshirt photos.  

Remember once something is online it is there for life and you will not be able to delete every picture on every site.

Eyeball Issues..Seriously and how real is this

Bean has been complaining for awhile that the board at school looks fuzzy off and on. After a few requests from her I finally scheduled an appointment with a optometrist.    We went this last week and though she has a slight astigmatism and slight farsightedness, glasses would only be of minor help her real issue is her eyes don't work together.  WHAT??

At what point do you look at a doctor and ask them what they are smoking, her eyes don't work together?  I have heard of begin cross eyed, lazy eye, but her eyes not working together is a new one for me.

We are following up with more testing and I am going to seek another opinion most likely, but the current recommendation is vision therapy.  Seeing that I had never heard of this before I went to the internet.

As a parent with a child who seems to always have the one off diagnosis I go looking for answers a lot and what will work best to help is a constant search.  Why can't she just be blind as a bat and need glasses was my first thought, but next was what is this and what can I do to help her. Really as a parent though I think a lot of websites can take advantage of us parents, we will do anything to make it better and fix it and sometimes take the risk on something pretty out there in the hopes it will help.  When I go out looking to research something, particularly as it pertains to the kids I hope to find the answers or a clear route to take, that is rarely what is there.  The reality of learning issues and being an individual is that we all have things that are hard and easy, we all have challenges. For some kids those challenges are life effecting things and there are no miracles or clear paths, just being an advocate and making sure the people around your child know where they are at is sometimes all you can do. Ultimately as parents we are responsible for the choices we make in treatment for the one off situations and I want to make sure I am making the most logical educated decisions, so I head to the internet to learn and get frustrated.

Looking for information on the internet can be a mixed blessing and I learned with something like vision therapy there are a lot of mixed reports. When I start looking into something on the internet I use a search engine like Google, but I also looked into a few skeptic sites like skepchic or skeptic and medical sites like the mayo clinic.  I try to focus on factual data that is evidence based, anecdotal data is great and I get what works for one person may not work for another, but I don't want to sink my money into something that really won't likely be useful.  What I learned in my vision therapy search is that there are some people claiming it is the cure to a host of learning disabilities and some people saying it will help with vision issues, but is quack like in all other respects. Researching something like vision therapy has to be done skeptically, I make sure the site I read aren't associated with treatment.  The reason I do this is if you are trying to get my money you are going to only put the positives up and not the questions or inaccuracies.  Additionally I tend in my initial research to stay away from forums, anyone can say anything and though this might be a place to get the words to search Google with I don't have the knowledge initially to know what is and isn't crap that people are saying.  The internet usually gets me just as many questions as answers and can be full of garbage that needs to be sorted through, but can also educate and give you a great jumping off point to find those other people and professionals that can help figure out the best next paths.

So what has it done for me in the search for vision therapy.  The first thing is, I know if this doctor starts talking at all about this fixing Bean's learning issues we are done, most likely he isn't the doctor for us. Additionally I want to see in any further discussion about vision therapy conversations around tracked progress, hearing she will be fine in a few months will be another reason to move on. If I hear this won't fix her learning issues, but may help her with growing her eye strength or something of that nature I will listen a lot harder. I will also use this blog, email, my phone and anything else to reach out to all those people who may be able to give me a little more insight into what this all means and the best routes moving forward, which may explain why I am a total over sharer.

How do you research the net, what do you look for when trying to find answers? Do you know anything about vision therapy, hook a girl up.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Portion Control

When you start trying to lose weight one of those things people always tell you to look at is your portion control.  It is fine and good to want to deal with portion control, but doing it is something totally different. Generally speaking I have made pretty sorry attempts at portion control, but times they are a changing in our house.

Trying to figure out if you had good portion control, especially with homemade meals can be difficult, and was a total mess for us.  I could never figure out if had the correct portions when we had spaghetti and measuring things with cups, when people are talking ounces is madness.  The other issue we faced a lot was when a casserole said it was x serving somehow we struggled to get even sized servings.  We did try the whole your palm is this big roughly and for this food, your fist is this; but it is really subjective and we just got frustrated.

We have done two things to help with portion control and both are giving us a lot better idea of how much we are eating and what a serving of some food really is.  The first thing we did was buy a good scale, it is a pretty basic one and was about thirty dollars. What I like about the food scale is that I can put on a plate and then turn the scale on and it will start at 0, this means I don't have to weigh the plate or Tupperware and then the food.  I like having a solid number of x ounces and usually I am surprised at how much or little a particular food weighs.  The other thing we have done is use muffin tins for cooking casseroles.  This picture above has a family favorite, Hot Diggity Gog, it's from the 'No Whine with your Dinner' cookbook, I do sneak in extra vegetables and don't use corn.  Hot Diggity serves 10, so I filled 20 cupcake tins and two a piece is a serving. By using the tins there is more consistency in size than just scooping it out and the muffin tin shape makes it easy to store for later.  The other advantage to the tins, things tend to cook quicker.  These are our beginning steps into portion control and so far no one is starving and the kids are getting pretty independent with grabbing a Hot Diggety muffin for a snack.

Valentine crafting: Mailboxes

For some kooky reason Valentine comes along and I want to decorate with all sorts of things.  I especially enjoy making mailboxes for the kids to put their valentines into.  This year Chicken's teacher asked that the students bring in their mailboxes completed. WHEEEE....I actually get to help make a mailbox!!!!!!!!!!!!

After much discussion, amounting too Chicken stating he didn't want anything to girly we got started. Instead of a shoe box we I grabbed the box that has our protein shakes from Costco.  I cut the box in half, I used a sharp knife.  The edges ended up rough, but we fixed it with our next steps. We Duct taped the bottom of the box and the edges, this smoothed out the top and closed the hole in the bottom. Next came Chicken's hunt through the craft supplies. I like to keep a lot of loose things around and encouraged the kids to think outside the box.  Chicken found the left over fabric scraps from his super hero bulletin board and insisted it was plenty Valentine themed to work.  Between the two of us we wrapped the box inside and out with the fabric.  I used hot glue and glued the fabric to the bottom of the box, then hot glue gunned the inside edge wall, wrapped the fabric around the outside and glued it on the bottom. I did the same with another piece of fabric going the opposite direction, this means there was double fabric on the bottom, but with a duct tape hole on the bottom I thought the extra fabric would help.  As I wrapped the second piece of fabric around the box, both in and out I hot glued both pieces of fabric together at their loose ends.  We now had a box wrapped in fabric, but it was still totally open on top, not very mailbox like.  Chicken came up with taking the last bit of fabric cutting a hole in it and putting it over the open top of the box. The top fabric piece is being kept in place with a rubber band. The great thing about this idea is at the end of the day, Chicken takes the rubber band off and he has easy access to all his valentines.  The last thing that Chicken needed to do was put his name on the box and make it a little more Valentine like.  He opted for cutting out construction paper hearts with sayings and his name on them and putting one of his Valentines on the front of the box.  I was pretty proud, Chicken loves it and he did most of it himself (didn't let him near the glue gun) and thought up a lot of great ideas to make it all his.

This time of year is really busy and none of us really remember to let each other know how much we appreciate each other, so I invented another reason to make a mailbox.  I told both kids that they needed to make a some type of mailbox to hang outside their bedroom doors in case cupid came by to drop off treats and letters and such.  We again used a box from Costco, this was an over sized Cheerios box.  I cut off the tabs at both ends, I didn't need to cut the ends and it would have been useful to have them later on, but it worked out fine this way too. After cutting the ends, I cut between the front cover and side of the box, and the back and opposite side.  This made a folder, the top part is longer than the bottom, see the pictures below.  After making the cuts, I turned them over to the kids and told them they needed a way to hang it at the top and close it at the sides.  We pulled out all the craft supplies and both kids went to town.  Bean defiantly went more Valentine like, she opted to tie two pieces of yard through some hole punches to close the side and used ribbon and tape on the top.  I am not sure if it was because Bean had a specific idea or what, but she was very organized with how she put her box together and she hardly asked me for any help. Chicken of course used me all he could for manual labor and I hole punched so much I think I have a hand cramp from it.  Chicken opted to weave the sides of his envelope shut and then just used a long string to bring it up through the punched holes at the top and tied it off.  Chicken of course choose something much less Valentine like, he went for black paper, with international flag and agile tape.  

It was great to see both kids get creative and make something they were proud of, I wonder if cupid will bring them something fun?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Academic Concerns are back...What now

In the last few weeks Bean's homework has not been coming home with the grades and clean handwriting we have come to expect from her in second grade.  Flipped letters have started showing up in assignment and tests.  Her handwriting has been messy again, her line spacing is haggard. When we finished tutoring last summer we cut a deal with Bean, as long as she keeps up in class she doesn't have to go back to tutoring.  The thing I am struggling with is if this is officially falling behind and we need to call the tutoring place.

When we finally figured out that Bean was struggling and would probably always struggle there was a lot we were able to do right away to help her.  Somehow those immediate actions made me feel like maybe with extremely dedicated attention we could help her this once and she would be fine, she would be able to keep up with her classmates. In the last year I have watched as her math skills have soared and she seems to get concepts that are a struggle for other kids. Her focus in class has increase, she can sit and do an assignment without prompting and finish it, in the expected time.  Her spelling has consistently been above what we expected and her handwriting has been neat with limited flipped words.  I took a breath of fresh air thinking things were going to work out, she was going to be fine.

The school year has progressed and new friends, new teachers and life has all gone on; and we haven't thought a lot about whether we need to continue tutoring this summer. As new concepts have been introduced in class, and more has been expected she is starting to slip. The reality of this slip has been sinking in and what next steps need to be done and what long term things we need to plan for need to be addressed. The first thing we are planning on is a tutoring educational assessment, where she is at where should she be at will be important to the next activities we decide.

If tutoring is needed again and when it needs to be done will be a huge decision point for us. We are hoping that we won't have to do tutoring until summer, that way we can save up some money and we don't have to run back and forth in evening traffic to tutoring. The other advantage of waiting till summer is that it won't mean school all day and tutoring at night, this just tires Bean out and makes us all cranky.  The downside of summer tutoring is figuring out how to schedule getting her to and from without am impact on our jobs, last year tutoring was an hour and a half three days a week from 9 to 10:30, yet meeting time at work.  There is always the option of changing where we do tutoring, but where she currently goes knows how to teach to her strengths and she can get the tutor she had for eight months so someone who knows her.

There is also getting her to accept that she needs to go back. Bean has a lot of adaptions so people don't notice her learning issues, including attitudinal adjustments to hide her confusion or non-understanding of issues.  Bean is a kid who doesn't like to admit that she isn't right there with her peers academically, but somehow I want her to realize she needs help and not ask for help, but accept it.  In a few short years Bean needs to be able to tell someone that she needs more time, or that she doesn't understand, and how can she learn that skill when she is still trying to hide when she can't figure it out.  Addressing this particular issue is what concerns me the most, and counseling didn't help. The thing is I have no idea what to so or how to help her with this.  I keep thinking I will find an article a book, something that leads me in a direction where we find success, but this has yet to happen.

The longer term impacts of this slip are also starting to get discussed by the Hubs and I. Her learning challenges are not going to go away, they are here and we need to plan on how we are going to address these year to year. We need to start financial planning on summer tutoring at the least and possibly year round down the road. We need to plan for the chauffeuring duties needed to get her too and from, for 504 discussions and teacher education year in and year out.  Financially there may be more technology supposes to support her needs and mentally there will be more years than planned on working closely with her on homework and organization.  Most of these things are to be decided later, but they are now in our consciousnesses.

We knew there was a slim chance that one year and a little medication would fix it all, but hey you could hope right....

Sports Fan..Nature vs Nurture

Hockey is currently on the TV in the living room. I likehockey, I like to watch lots of sports, I just don't want every waking minuteto have a sports game of some type playing in the background, Chicken doesn'tshare that view.

At some point in the last year Chicken has become a sportsfan and a lover of sports at a level way above anyone else in this house.  I have no idea where this crazed love hascome from, but I really wish he would grow out of it. This weekend alone wehave watched college basketball, NHL hockey, NFL football, and NCAA football;and he considered tennis for a few minutes. It isn't like he watches for hourson end, we would all go batty with that, but when given a choice of what hewould like to watch, if there is sports on he'll watch it. He doesn't care ifhe knows the rules, he doesn't care if he knows the team, it is sports and thatis good for him.  For sports he knows andis familiar with we get the joy of a verbal play by play, a constant neverending stream of verbal junk coming out of his mouth the entire time he it ison, until one of us snaps and loudly asks him to HUSH. 

My question is how the heck did two people who liked to playsports, but really only watch college football and a little hockey andbasketball end up with a kid that seems to obsess on sports of any type?

Yes Chicken is a boy on an epic scale, but I assumed eventhe most stereotypical boy behavior of sports watching had it's limits.Apparently I was wrong with that assumption. What I am curious about is theresome crazy sports watching gene that Chicken was born with or did he just pickup some crazy sports watching gene from someone who doesn't live in thishouse?  Additionally, how do we managehis sports watching behavior so that we don't buy him a TV, put him in a soundproof closet and just hope for the best?

Teaching good fan behavior is not something that I thoughtwould be part of my parenting required skill set, I was wrong.  What are we doing to help Chicken and Bean begood sports fans? When we watch sports we remind the kids to cheer their teamand disparage the other team. We encourage them to learn the rules of the gamethey are watching so they can know what the penalties mean and not justcomplain about the Ref. Chicken has brought home a sports related library booknon-stop since November. We are also working with him on not giving a play byplay when a game is on, not just for our sanity, but because we don't want tohear the game through his voice. We keep working on all this and eventually things will get better, but we may still put him in a sound proof room with a TV.

Happy Sports Viewing......we'll we over here with ear plugs.

The mean girls and boys

There are always mean kids and they say and do things that no parent can imagine ever being ok with, but what happens when you're kid is the mean kid?

A little over a year ago we were the parents of the mean kid and it was horrifying.  As someone who is trying to raise compassionate, empathetic kids that can stick up for themselves you don't really think you're kid is going to end up the bully.

Like most things bullying seems to travel downhill, and as long as you are not on the bottom of the pile think little about if what you are doing is bullying or not.  Chicken was being bullied by older boys who thought nothing of abusing the little boy who would do anything to be considered part of them and in turn he was bullying other children. As much as I wanted to profusely apologize to the bullied child and ream the behind of the bullies I knew that Chicken was going to have to deal with this and clean it up on his own, because in the end he will still see and deal with those kids day in and day out.  I am not saying I did nothing, we talked with his daycare facility and discussed how to help keep Chicken away from the older boys.  We spent a lot of time talking about what bullying behavior is and how what he was doing and what was happening to him was bullying. I still wonder when another incident will occur and if we will find out about it, but I hope he has more skills to deal with it better this time. I have no illusions that both kids will be mean off and on, it is part of childhood, learning what hurts and what doesn't, learning how to hurt and how to be a good person.  The discussions of these topics are always around in our house and I hope this allows the kids the openness to talk to us when these things come up.

Boys are rough and tumble, but their confidence and hearts can still be hurt.  They can talk smack to each other and it is no big deal, but where is the line between good fun and hurt, and how do you teach them not to go over that line. Part of the process for us has been teaching Chicken to look at how a person is reacting to his words, do they look hurt, what is their face telling you that their mouth isn't.  Slowly the skill of being competitive and having a strong personality and not being a total butt head is sinking in.  The big trick with Chicken is teaching him to tell someone they are being mean, or he is angry and not just saying the first thing on his mind, but isn't that the lesson all of us need to remember on a daily basis.  Learning to use your words positively, reading others to see how they react and slowing down enough to notice and do those things will take time, but my hope is that he will be a better kid and adult for it all.

Girls can be just as mean and catty, and teaching Bean to stand up to someone taking advantage of her or being mean has been another lesson formed over time. Last year someone Bean thought was a friend got hurt and somehow Bean became her personal slave at school.  Along with slave duties this girl gossiped a lot about other girls and encouraged Bean to play along with this. Thankfully, Bean could care less about the gossip and didn't pass anything on that we know of, but it led to some great discussions about what is and isn't bullying.  Eventually Bean told this girl to stop bossing her and what she was saying about the other girls was mean and she shouldn't talk like that, but it took a lot of encouraging to get her to do that. Bean's chief fear in standing up to this girl was that she wouldn't be her friend anymore or that she would gossip about her to the other girls.  We talked a lot about what a friend is and if someone treating you like a slave is really a friend and someone you want to be friends with. The other thing we talked about was that if this girl was talking bad about other girls and those girls knew it, would they believe her if she talked bad about Bean.  Though these things we talked about with Bean are not the overt aspects of bulling that Chicken was involved it, it is still bullying.  Somehow the importance of what a good friend is and how to be a good friend is something that will translate into her having solid supportive friendships all her life and not put up with the bulling of others.

Has your kid had a bully situation? Were they the bully or the bullied? How did you deal with it?

Paper vs Digital

Yesterday I bought the kids books, real paper page turning books and I bought myself a few off amazon earlier in the week.  As much as I love and covet real paper books I suspect the time is coming that they won't be used much longer in this house.

I may be assume a leap in politics and education, but honestly by the time the kids hit high school I assume paper text books will be a thing of the past.  For them school won't be about lugging a heavy backpack laden with books and bringing up the passage in a book won't be a scramble through pages, they will carry a light tablet and the passage will be a click away. The thing I struggle with is the idea that they and I will find the same enjoyment from clicking the next page as you do from turning the page a physical page.    When I think back to Pillars of the Earth or Harry Potter or Les Miserables I remember the weight of the books in my hands, the feeling of turning the worn pages and the satisfaction of finishing such a large piece of literature.  Will Harry Potter or Les Miserables still be as satisfying to finish reading even though you don't feel the weight of the accomplishment?

In me there is a tickle that the end of paper books is near in this house, except for my favorite authors I no longer buy books, but hit the library for my reading needs.  The only reason I don't download my books from the library is that the iPad isn't conducive for reading at this point. It is heavy, in an OtterBox case, and I have yet to find that good font to letter ratio that I need for reading. The other issue with digital for me is that the wander through the library or book store disappears. Spending an hour or more wandering a book store looking for that one book, or ten, that take my fancy doesn't really happen for me with ebooks.  Where can you go to wander the isles of the sci fi section to see what you see?  I realize you can go wander Amazon, but for me it isn't the same quite yet, though I am sure eventually it will happen.

The last year I have struggled repeatedly with the idea of just getting the kids kindles and being done with it. A light, single source of reading that is easy to use and they can tote with them anywhere is appealing.  Bean would have the opportunity to ready in a consistent size and font, which I have read can be beneficial.  Then again buying them a hundred dollar piece of technology that I haven't been able to rationalize buying for myself yet seems crazy.

Who knows what will happen, I assume I will eventually cave and buy them used Kindles, but until then we can all keep enjoying the feel of paper when we turn the page.  What is your preference and the preference of your kids, ebook or paper?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Can the Find My iPhone App find everything else?

We recently installed an app called Find My iPhone. We did this because my parents have an iPad and wanted to be able to, find their iPhone, if they lost the iPad. They only have a single Apple device and since you need two iOS devices to Find an iPhone, we installed the app on our iPad.  Being the geeks we are, we then proceeded to install it on ALL the Apple devices in the house.  It turned out to be a really good thing that we did this.

The beginning of the new year seems to bring a lot of chaos into our house. Kids go back to school, work starts to play catch up the holidays, winter sports starts and I am desperately attempting to deep clean the house.  With this as a backdrop my desire to just sit inside with a good book and hibernate doesn't usually play out very well.  Invariably with all this and my hibernation instinct things start getting lost. Keys end up in the freezer, coffee cups get left in random place and my usual spaciness starts to seem excessive. In the last three days keys, shoes, clothes, and an iPad have all been misplaced. Sadly the iPad was the only thing that was able to find itself.

Loosing the iPad could have been fatal, someone may kill someone else without that lovely little device as a distraction, but thankfully it never came to that.  When I came tumbling in the door with three bags and a ton of wet clothes last night I assumed I put the iPad down on the table and started getting the kids organized.  Getting homework started, dinner going, and cleaning up the mess of wet clothes and bags can take awhile. A few hours later as things were settling down it was time for a little Flipboard on the iPad, but the iPad was no where to be found. The house, the bags and the car were turned upside down. Then the Hubs asked, "Did you leave it a Taekwondo?"

"No", I was adamant.

"Lets use the Find my iPhone App."

"Fine, but all it is going to show is that it is here, it won't tell us it is in the washing machine or anything."

Wanna guess where Find My iPhone found the iPad.......Taekwondo......

After locating it, and finding out it started talking at Taekwondo we were relieved to be reunited and headed to pick it up on the way to another activity.  My question is thusly..If Find my iPhone can find the iPad, can it also find the clothes, keys, and shoes that we have lost?  It would be really helpful.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Learning to lose...

As parents it seems like there are always things to surprise us and keep working on new things with our kids, this weekend I found out Chicken needs to learn how to lose.  For some reason I had assumed with daycare, playing games as a family and all the sports that Chicken had learned to lose, and be a good sport, I was wrong.
The kids have been going to chess club since school started and really wanted to participate in one of the monthly tournaments.  With a weekend that wasn't too busy we went this last weekend.  The tournaments seem very well organized, but they start at 8:45 and you usually don't leave till after 1 pm and you only play three games, to put it mildly there is a lot of waiting around.  The waiting around and noise of well over 200 kids crammed into a cafeteria wasn't horrible and I brought the iTouchs so the kids could amuse themselves, but they were a bit restless to say the least.  All the noise and the waiting isn't always the best environment to see a kid at their best, especially mine, but generally both kids played their games and had a good time with the other kids while they were waiting around.

The first game Chicken played he won, the second he drew, and the last he lost, and this is where as a parent there was a glaring neon sign that we needed to start working with Chicken on losing.  The draw game he argued but eventually the referee was able to help him see that his best choice was to draw and get a tie.  The first two games by random chance he played against the same child, a cute girl who looked about his age. This last game was played just as quickly as the first two but about half way though even I could tell that Chicken was going to loose. I don't play chess, I don't really know anything about chess but I could even tell a lose was in Chicken's very near future. Both the boys while playing were not exactly playing by the rules, you touch it you play it, but towards the end as the end was in site it only got worse, Chicken was touching all the pieces and rolling around pieces as he waited for the other boy to play. As Chicken was approaching the end the other boy checked him and he could not see a way out. Technically this boy really check mated him, but as I didn't actually here him say check I am unsure he said anything at all. Next thing the other boy was raising his hand that he had said he won and Chicken was trying to figure out what was going on. The referee asked if they both agreed and Chicken immediately started arguing that he could still play, pieces started getting confused and moved and he was scrambling mentally and physically to refuse to lose. This is where I wished I could have stepped in and walked Chicken through the process of being a good looser, but at tournaments parents can't go out on the floor and I had to watch helpless as Chicken continued to try and scramble out of losing.  Eventually the referee got him to agree that the other boy won, but he was not a happy kid, he hopped up and came to me without looking at anyone and buried his head in my side. I knew he was upset, but felt like he still needed to be a good sport. We hunted down the other boy and shook hands and said good game. Within seconds of this Chicken was in tears and was getting just plain cranky, for the next hour he was a total pain in the butt and it dawned on me that besides being tired he was a bad  loser.  

Eventually Chicken calmed down and we had a talk about losing and how to lose to be a good sport.  Chicken did not like, nor really respect the ideas we talked about there were lots of buts and eye rolling. I decided that until he can lose to me we are going to really have to talk before any more chess tournaments. Yesterday morning I had the kids teach me the basics of chess and quickly beat Chicken, he immediately started arguing that he didn't lose. Bean helped me explain how I had won, thank goodness, and eventually Chicken agreed. This launched another talk about being a good loser, and how it is OK to stick up for yourself, but not OK to be a bad loser.

The balance between sticking up for yourself and accepting defeat on occasion can be a thin line, but something tells me Chicken wont' have an issue sticking up for himself, losing without being a total butt head, that is a different thing completely.  

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Slip of the Pencil...

Last weekend while reviewing Bean's homework I noticed her pencil had a slip of the lead, she had just spelled penises instead of pennies.  I call this a pencil having a slip of the lead because I spent a lot of my childhood unintentionally meaning things totally different from what I thought I had written, a slip of the tongue just with a pencil.  Sometimes when a you have a learning issue, like I or Bean does you have to somehow learn to laugh at yourself and just embrace your faults, like being a crappy speller.  While I was trying to stifle laughter and posting the hilarity on Facebook about Beans slip of the lead, I realized how alike our learning issues really are.

In first grade I spelled shit instead of ship, and the ex-nun of a first grade teacher was not happy with me.  Let me note, this woman was everything you could imagine an ex-nun to be, skinny, harsh, a slight mustache and a total lack of a sense of humor. In her mind girls were meant to sit, play and be quiet in all things and god for bid, literally, if you ever disobeyed.  For those of you that know me, I can feel you cringing at the year this must have been for cute, precocious, loud six year old me, and then I spelled SHIT.

I remember this day like it was yesterday, my six year old self sitting in a desk that seemed a little big, swinging my legs and making a  mess of a worksheet the teacher had just given us. I sat behind my best friend and used her as a shield against this woman, and frequently my friend would turn around to see me work, as I mumbled to myself I must have been a great distraction.
On this fateful day my friend turned around and immediately started into her classic you're in trouble "ooooooohh".
"What, what I pleaded", knowing there was something not right, that Mrs. Scary Ex-Nun would be furious at me for the minute she perched at my desk.
My friend giggled, "you spelled shit", she whispered it knowing the weight the word had to our six year old selves.
I frantically searched the page. "What where", I was near frantic.
"The ship, it is spelled with a p not a t."
Searching the page again I saw my error and desperately tried to erase the thick lead T on the page and replace it with a lower case p.  Out of no where my friend swung back around and I knew that meant our teacher was coming nearer. I worked as fast as I could to repair my dirty little pencils slip of the lead.  As the she demon of a teacher swept down on to me I handed her my paper praying I had corrected my error well enough and cowering in my chair hoping she would just move on to her next victim, noticing I was already thoroughly abused for the day.
She looked down on me, "Thought you would be funny, heh?  You are lucky to have such a good friend to help remind you, you are here to learn not make a joke of your work."

Now these are not the exact words, that was a really long time ago, but they are close enough to convey the total fear and embarrassment I felt at my pencils slip up.  Ship wasn't the last word I spelled incorrectly, I have done it multiple times in this post alone, but I am thankful for auto correct every day and Bean is learning to be too, she asked last night why she has to have spelling since the computer always corrects for her. I reminded her that she needs to know that when the little red line shows up for a misspelled word she needs to know the basic spelling of the word she wants to spell or who knows what she will be telling people in her spelling essay for the week.

Even though 100 penises might make a dollar and she may be decomposing in class, we will always share the grief and frustration of having pencils that slip up on us.

Monday, January 9, 2012

The Great Kid Room Clean Up

About twice a year I go through and deep clean and organize the kids rooms. This year I am going to make them help me and I am dreading it a bit.

Cleaning their rooms is one thing, but the deep cleaning done twice a year is a through cleaning that doesn't really keep the attention of any child, but my two have started to hide things to avoid them getting donated or sharing them with a each other.  We methodically go through all toys, books, and clothes in each room to make sure things fit, books are in good condition and being used, and toys have all their parts and are of use to the room they are in. We have a playroom that holds mutual toys and books, but sometimes one kid will want to get back at another so will hide a mutual treasured object in their room.

There are a few key issues with room decluttering that are always a struggle. One that comes up a lot in these cleanings are clothes that are either too small or trashed no wanting to be let go of. We manage this through keeping those few super special items to add to a quilt. I have been keeping t shirts and clothes the kids love to make a quilt when they get older, this makes it easier to let go of those sacred clothes and then I at some point an going to have to learn to quilt.  Stuffed animals are another point of contention, Bean has so many I swear they will consume the room some day.  The deal we have is that she can only have enough stuffed animals to fill two bins and after that she has too many and we need to cull the pile. There is always a lot of crying and frustration about donating her 'stuffies' but we remind her that by donating her animals another child gets the chance to love on them, that helps a little.  Decluttering and deep cleaning require a lot of work and focus and while Bean is a great cleaner, the decluttering part is a struggle, the opposite is true for Chicken.

Deep cleaning can be a real chore when you don't really think your space is dirty to start. Bean somehow put french fries in her underwear drawer once, and as soon as she found them again she threw them out no problem, she is clean just very cluttered.  Chicken on the other hand doesn't keep tons of clutter, everything seems in it's place, he is just a dirty kid.  At one point he was wiping things on this wall, I don't want to think what, so during a deep cleaning spent his time cleaning that.  Another deep cleaning time Chicken spent almost the entire afternoon cleaning out under his bed, apparently he had decided it was a great place to keep everything that should be thrown out or didn't have a place in his room. It amazes me how much garbage and collection items can pile up in a matter of months, and who cares if something got wet on the playground it will dry out under his bed.

Do you declutter and deep clean your kids rooms or do they do it? So you make them get rid of items or let them keep things until they are ready to get rid of them? How do you manage french fries in an underwear drawer and goodness knows what wiped on the wall?

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Youth Sports...Happy Fun Good Times..Maybe

Yes she was that stinkin' cute
B-Ball First Grade
This time of year brings squeals of joy to Bean and dread to me and the Hubs, why you might ask? Basketball season starts next week.  The idea of a child participating in a sport is a wonderful thing, it is active, social, teaches team building; to be honest I believe all kids should participate in some type of team sport at least once.

So why then would I a proponent of team sports dread by wonderful Bean playing a little ball?  She doesn't practice outside of team practice, which is once a week and only starts two weeks before the season starts. She has a ball, we ask her at least every other week or so and have for years, do you want to go play some basketball.  We have a hoop in the yard, there is a hoop across the street and there is a hoop at her school a short bike ride away, but Bean never goes out and messes around with the ball.  We have been to a few Boise State Women's basketball games, she really enjoyed herself, but it didn't make her practice.  Why do I care whether she practices or not, it isn't any skin off my nose right?

I care for two reasons, I don't want to see all the pouting when she starts sitting the bench because she isn't as good as her team mates and she has a commitment to her team to try her best. Lets talk the first issue I have, Bean sitting the bench.  I honestly believe that until she sits the bench for most of a season she won't connect that she needs to practice if she really wants to play.  We are in an everybody plays sort of league and though Bean has usually played a fair amount, she is tall enough to get the play time, it isn't like she is making plays out on the court. In third grade basketball I am expecting a more competitive environment and Bean will suddenly be on the bench because you need to be in the game to play.  Sitting the bench will cause Bean to complain to me, eventually, that she isn't playing enough;  my response to this will be, practice more and you will play more.      Some kids just pick up this lesson, Bean is going to have to learn it the hard way, and sitting the bench and watching her frustration with that is not going to be fun.

The second issue with her lack of motivation to practice is that she has a commitment to her team. As a team member and someone who wants to play and be a good team member there is an expectation that she will bring her best to her team. In my mind bringing your best means that you practice, that you try your best. I am not asking for an hour every night or anything; maybe shooting baskets one other time a week outside of practice or playing a little basketball with dad.  When you are a member of a team, any team, you are expected to come prepared and how prepared can Bean be if she just practices with her team once a week and that is all she puts into it.  I am not sure if this is a crazy ex-team player in me or not, but being a good team mate, even at 9 isn't just showing up and cheering, or for Bean is it?

For the last year or so Hubs and I thought her desire to play basketball was motivated by the social and game play aspects of the sport, and it may still be, but she swears she loves the game.  We will see this season whether Bean plays for the game or so she can be social with a bunch of other girls her age. Lets hope there isn't a lot of pouting along with all the cheering.

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year..Same Stuff

Instead of this being some great prepared thing, I am watching the Rose Parade this morning and quickly scribbling this out.  I had Chicken and Bean do a bit of typing to tell us about what they are hoping to do or looking forward to int he next year. What they had to say surprised me, but nothing totally outrageous was on the list.  I scribed for Chicken and Bean did her own typing so you will notice a difference in the amount more because all Chicken had to do was talk and that is exceptionally easy for him.  I don't really do resolutions, more intentions or things I want to try and do. The new year brings a lot of assessment about what did and didn't get done in the year and for me is a time to look back, figure out what worked and what didn't and move from there.

Before I include the kids comments I want to declare my own intentions and things to look forward to in the new year.  In looking back at the last year I want to spend less time focused on school and work and more on having a good time with the family. I can't wait till our family reunion in Newfoundland this summer, the trip should be great and an amazing chance for the kids to meet family they don't ever see.  I need to trust my gut more and when I don't think things are right with the kids at school I need to pursue it and stick with it and trust that when I am concerned I should be and need help and to find it.  I intend to spend a little time find time for myself and getting a better balance between family and me.  There are just those days and weeks and months that it has been all kids all the time and I think we all need a little more breathing room.  My house still isn't clean but I am not going to make myself crazy, I always figure I have until Chinese New Year to have it deep cleaned and it will or won't get done and I won't make myself crazy either way. I hope everyone has a happy and safe year with more ups than downs and more laughs than tears.

Beans notes on the New Year:

What I ant to happen in the New Year is to make more friends. I want in class we make more art. I hope it snows.  I can’t wait till 4th of  July. I love the fireworks.  

Chickens notes on the New Year:

I like New Years Day, because you get to eat a big ol' turkey dinner.  We got a new dog in 2010, her name is Emmie.  Emmie turns two in a couple months, I want to keep on hugging and loving Emmie.  This year we all need to work on training Emmie more, so she stays on her bed.  This year I want to launch a rocket.  I want to get through football season without breaking anything.  I want to see the bats at the zoo this year.  I want to have more turkey today, turkey is good.  I want to learn how to make my dads world famous mashed potatoes this year.  I want to go up to mema and popis and play in the river a lot this year, when it is warm.  I want to learn to make rice krsipie treats. 

Have a great start to the New Year, and may you smile more.