Second Grade Summary – Slice of Life

Every summer I try to create a little end-of-the-school-year blog post. As a virtual school/homeschool family, it can be hard to see the “positives” day in and day out. The end of the school year posts are my way of reminding myself and my son of how far he came in the previous school year.

Kory had to fill out a little form to share with his online class for their last session. Here are his responses.

– What I learned that I didn’t know before:  Vikings flick fleas out of their beards to go North.

– Favorite part of his online classes in Elluminate :  Writing on the whiteboard. Can I say I LOVE watching my son maneuver his way around his online classes.  I can only imagine where his technical astuteness will take him!

– One thing he would share:  We participated in a monthly homeschool art class at our local library.  The theme  one month was Faith Ringgold’s Tar Beach.  Here is Kory’s version of it. His is titled “Candylane.”

– Name at least one thing you hope to learn about next year:  How do people make video games.

Kory has said the silliest things this year and the deepest this past year. Some I wrote down. Some I didn’t.  I have watched him struggle with reading and begging to stop after only a couple paragraphs. I have watched him endure hours of vision therapy sessions (makes great health time credit) and vision therapy homework sessions.  I have watched his reading transform into “Can I take this book into the office with me?” “Can I take this book in the van to read?”  “Can I get another book?” “Can I read before I go to bed?”

As I reflect on the year, I think of how I will remember second grade.

I will remember a silly boy, a serious boy, a tired boy, and active boy. Baseball, gymnastics, and swimming – yes some times they all overlapped on the same day. And yes, I will plan better next year. I will remember a boy who tried new things like piano lessons and sitting at orchestra concerts.  I will remember a boy who drove me crazy when he didn’t focus. I will remember a boy who tried his hardest and never gave up.  I  will remember a boy who was so very flexible when schedules and available programs changed. I will remember a boy who cheered when he started his weekly homeschool co-op fall and spring sessions. Best. Homeschool. Decision. Ever! I will remember a boy who was sad when co-op ended for the school year. I will remember a boy who has gone on so many field trips, waited in so many lines and learned in so many “real life” situations.

I will remember that he is only finishing second grade.  He has so much in front of him.

I will remember that I’m so grateful to be a part of his daily learning because sometimes, sometimes he becomes my teacher.

I’m posting every Tuesday as part of the weekly Slice of Life over at Two Writing Teachers.

Summer (June) Goals

Yeah!  It is the start of summer for us today since Kory’s official school work is done!

I love summer. Always have. As a kid, it meant no school, plenty of time to play outdoors, eating watermelon (and having watermelon seed spitting contests with my siblings and cousins) and lots of time swimming!

As an adult and especially as a homeschooling mom, I look forward to a break over the summer. Plenty of watermelon to eat. Fresh blackberry limeade waiting to be made. Hosting cookouts (I hope!). Swimming and lounging by the pool – hopefully we will get it set up soon!

And most importatnly, three months to fully focus on me!  During the school year, I fit “me” in where I can.  In the summer, it is about “me”.  Time for me to be a bit more selfish.

Last year, I had two summer goals:  1. purge my house of baby stuff (check) 2. train for a tri (check).

This summer, I am working on my summer goals list. And no, I won’t be training for another tri this year. My Trek bike sits in my garage, and my hip and shoulder are recovering from injuries resulting from one leg being shorter than the other.

I have too many things running through my brain of what I want to do this summer. Relax. Work on flower beds. Go through pictures. Sort through bags of “stuff.” Purge my kids’ toys. Read. Write. Exercise.

I’m trying to not “overwhelm” myself on my first day “off”.  Instead, I’m going to make goals for each month.

June’s goals

– Exercise:   My husband and I are doing an exercise challenge. For each day in June, I will do the same number of push ups and chin ups. Of course, I will adapt the push up and chin up simply because my arm strength is really low. 🙂  June 1st – one of each. June 30 – 30 of each.  I also want to get back into the habit of daily walking.

– Writing:  I  signed up to be part of a virtual writing camp called “Teachers Write” hosted by Kate Messner. I’m excited to see my personal writing progress grow as well as picking up some teaching tips through this summer camp.

– Flower Beds:  I want to tackle, clean and remulch one of my smaller flower beds. While I was mowing yesterday, I noticed how overgrown it had become. I figure one flower bed at a time is better than trying to plan for the 4 flower beds I have – one which is really really really huge and overgrown but hidden by our fence.

Simple goals for June right?!!  I’ll try to post at the end of June with my progress.

What are your goals for June?

Mother’s Day without Children

Happy Mothers Day people cheer all around.

You stand there without children.  All the moms are getting flowers. Do you go up for one?  You are a mother.  A mother without a child. Your child is buried in a little cemetery. All the other moms have kids running up with them. Do you walk up alone?

The mothers are invited up to the altar at church for special prayer.  It is awkward standing there deciding. Do I go up. Don’t I go up. Oh what do I do. Will I have to explain. I’m not really a mother. But I am a mother.  My child lives in heaven.

Happy Mother’s Day people say as you walk in the building.  They are all smiles. But you are faking the smile. Inside you are grieving. Your mother died years ago. This day of celebration breaks your heart. If you could only see her one more time.

Happy Mother’s Day you hear. Yet you are struggling to have children of your own. Maybe you have miscarried more than you want to share.  Maybe you have been told you could never have children. Maybe you are still holding out for the miracle.

You watch moms being loved on. You love on children. Your nieces, nephews, maybe “adopted” children in your life. You never married. You married and never had children.  You chose to not have children. You didn’t have a choice in not having children.  When is your special day of honor?

These women deserve a mother’s day just as much as the ones who bore children, adopted children, raised children.  They are all around us on this day of joyful celebration of mothers.

I’ve been one of these moms. After I lost Aidan, we skipped going to church on the first Mother’s Day. I couldn’t imagine the pain of sitting there and hearing all about how wonderful mothers are knowing that I, as a mother, had made some of the most difficult decisions ever for my child. Decisions that went beyond which was the better apple juice to buy, whether I should buy organic/non-organic or whether to either breastfeed or use formula.

The second Mother’s Day was easier.  I was pregnant with Kory. I could at least “look” the part of the mother without extra explanation.

My heart still cringes on Mother’s Day. I think of all the women I know.  All the women I don’t know. The women walking among us every day. The women we casually bump into. The women who are hurting on this day of celebration for “Mother’s”.  So yes, you will hear me wish a Happy Mother’s Day, but you will also hear me applaud the women out there who are mothers in so many ways.

The ones who are not mothers by choice but deeply involved in a motherly role.  The ones who have tried for years to have babies of their own. The ones who never married – whether by choice or not. The ones who face the day without their own mothers.  The ones who put on a fake smile.  The ones who tear up not out of celebration but sorrow.

Those are the ones who really deserve my tribute today!

Choosing to be thankful….

The last couple of days have been quite stressful at my house for many reasons.

I finally felt calm and at peace after I vented to a couple close friends, asked some friends to pray for me, and then took the afternoon off with my boys. Funny how an afternoon of driving around for errands while listening to audio books can be so soothing.

I came home Tuesday evening thankful instead of stressed.

Here is what I am choosing to be thankful about in the midst of the past couple of days.

I’m thankful for the times when plans suddenly change because you never know what God is protecting you from or what He has planned instead.

I’m thankful for tech support that listened and patiently worked on an issue.

I’m thankful for the pre-paid postage label to ship my son’s laptop for repairs (again for the fourth time).

I’m thankful for a little three year old, my son, who made me laugh and then spilled his slushie at the store.

I’m thankful for the cashier who told me to get a replacement slushie at no extra charge.

I’m thankful for my almost eight year old who said, mommy, I don’t like it when you are stressed.

I’m thankful for the extra tight hug he gave me at bedtime.

I’m thankful for my husband’s complete understanding when I just stand and put my head on his chest.

I’m thankful for my sister and sister-in-law who so patiently listen to my venting.

I’m thankful I have so much to be thankful for in spite of the chaos of the past few days.

I’m attempting to take part in the “The Fifth Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge” through the month of March. The challenge is run by Two Writing Teachers.

Two Lollipops, Please

I usually ask for two lollipops, please.

Today, I wanted to be a kid again.

Today, I wanted to be responsibility-free.

Today, I didn’t want to worry about what to feed my family for dinner.

Today, I didn’t want to worry about whether my youngest was wearing his real underwear or his imaginary ones.

Today, I didn’t want to plan out my son’s school work plan.

Today, I didn’t want to organize and coordinate all I had on my plate.

Today, I asked for three lollipops, please, at the bank drive-thru lane.

One for my oldest. One for my youngest. One for me.

For just a few minutes I was responsibility-free.

My lollipop was yellow.

I’m attempting to take part in the “The Fifth Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge” through the month of March. The challenge is run by Two Writing Teachers.

playing in the rain

My youngest son and I went to the gym first thing this morning.

When we left the gym, it was raining.

“Look at that puddle. Go jump in it.”

Splash. Splash. Giggles.

My youngest son and I ran to the store to pick up a few things.

When we left, it was still raining.

“Look at that puddle. Go jump in it.”

Splash. Splash. Giggles.

When my youngest son and I got home, I asked him to get the newspaper and recycling bin from the curb.

It has stopped raining.

“See that huge puddle. Go jump in it.”

Splash. Splash. Giggles.

“But no. The newspaper doesn’t get thrown in the puddle.”

Splash. Splash. Giggles.

How about you?  Do you see that puddle over there?

Go jump in it. Then wait. You will hear it too.

Splash. Splash. Giggles.

I’m attempting to take part in the “The Fifth Annual Slice of Life Story Challenge” through the month of March. The challenge is run by Two Writing Teachers.

– Five Hours –

I like to feel productive. Rarely do I take time away from some to-do list I’ve created. I joke often that I have to continually go through my husband’s detox program of doing nothing. Absolutely nothing. It means ignoring the piles of laundry, dishes and toys to curl up with a book or my favorite shows. I have gotten to the point of really cherishing these down-times even though I quickly hit reality when I see piles of dishes and laundry waiting for me.  I have declared today a pajama day.  That means my kids rest and play, while I work on paperwork, laundry, kitchen stuff. It isn’t the same as doing nothing.

The hard part for me, though, is that I “control” when I want to take that time of nothing. And now I am faced withe five hours of “nothing” every week. Two hours for my boys’ gymnastic classes. One hour of joint swimming lessons for the boys. Two hours for vision therapy for my older son.

Five hours. What will I do with five hours of nothing but sitting and waiting?

My boys have been in gymnastics for a couple months. They absolutely LOVE it!  I have to remind them to not show me their gymnastic moves on  the couch or the playground.  I usually use their class time to catch up on magazines   I also text friends and family and check twitter and websites through my phone. Oh, and I end up watching the gymnastics teams who practice for competition. I go between feeling like I should hold up a “10” score card to admiring their arm muscles and secretly wishing I could have arms like that.  🙂

The boys have been in swimming for awhile. Usually I’ve been able to coordinate their swimming so I can work out after (with Cade’s lessons) or during (with Kory’s lessons).  Now they will have lessons on the same day and time, so I will have an hour to sit. Sadly I won’t be able to work out before, during or after this time. 🙁

Then there will be vision therapy sessions twice a week for Kory over the next six months.  Thankfully Cade can come with us and play in the eye doctor’s toy area in the lobby.  Yet I’ll be sitting and waiting and watching the lobby’s tv that plays CNN.

How can I rest and still be productive during these five hours each week?  I’m  half tempted to do reverse lunges or jumping jacks  – oh wait I’ve had three kids and I “can’t” do jumping jacks – while waiting. Okay not to that extreme. I do plan to take magazines as I have them and download ebooks to read. I really don’t want to lug my laptop around to “work” on things as most of these places don’t have wifi, and I really don’t want to be sitting with a stack of bills in an office somewhere.  I’ve already started a bag for my sitting and waiting time.  Currently, it has two books and a word-find book.  I hope to add more things so I can use my time wisely.

How would you use five hours while waiting – with or without Internet access?

Keeping my focus in yoga and in life…

The other night I started back into yoga.  During the school year, it is my weekly hour escape from my responsibilities.

I’m not the most flexible. And I’m sure many of my poses look awkward, but the feeling when I leave is worth it all.

My first night back, I ended up running a bit late. Well actually I got to the class on time but that meant all the “good” spots were taken. My favorite spot is against the wall so my view is the huge windows looking outside.  While I am working through the poses, I can focus outside on the birds, trees, or whatever else catches my eye.

But this night, I ended up in the back of the class room.  My view was … the wall, the exercise balls at the top of the shelves and the door leading to the hallway. Yep. What a view for yoga.

Since I hadn’t been in yoga for about three months, it was a bit harder to get into different poses.  My muscles just didn’t want to go where they needed to be at times.

We were in one pose where we had to look straight ahead on the floor “with your eyes open” the instructor said.  I focused right on the carpet in front of me. As long as I focused on that one spot, I was fine.  Then the instructor said “oh, so and so, you are holding the pose wonderfully.”  What did I do?  I looked up.  I stopped focusing.  I stopped looking at the one spot that was helping me hold my muscles the right way and my pose in the correct form.

My body lost its balance for a quick second, but I was able to quickly recover and focus back on the carpet. Focus on the spot that held me in place.

And that’s when it hit me. How often do we look up to see what someone else has accomplished?  Do we look up to see what is going on around us?  That’s when we lose it. Our balance. our confidence. Our peace. Our contentment.  When all we really need to do is focus. Focus on that one spot that keeps us centered.

For me, it’s my faith.  If I keep myself in the right pose and focused on the right aspect of God, nothing else matters. It doesn’t matter what someone else has accomplished. It doesn’t matter what is happening all around me. Who has what. What I don’t have.   I am grounded into that spot on the carpet of my faith. And allowing myself to be content, be at peace, be in confidence, and in the right balance.

All because I focus on that “carpet” of my life.

I had written this draft a few months ago and had “forgotten” about it until I started using my blog more regularly to post student writing from a homeschool co-op class I taught this fall. This blog post was exactly what I needed as I look to go back to yoga tonight after a month off because of traveling and holidays. 🙂

The Little Glimpses….

Sometimes as a parent, I feel like all I do is remind, reinforce, and occasionally nag. 

Pick this up.  Don’t forget this.  Put your glass in the sink.  Is that where your shoes go?  Did you forget to hang up your towel again? 

Sometimes I wonder if it ever sticks. 

And then a day like today happens.

I woke up with a massive tension headache. Instead of enjoying the day with friends, I spent most of the day snuggling with Cade on the couch. Thankfully I was able to sleep for a good part of the day and get in lots of Cade-snuggles!!

Kory was quite disappointed that our day’s plans changed.  He was mad. He pouted. He actually changed into his blue shirt – the matching shirt color of choice for our activity – and a pair of shorts. He marched himself down to the living room and sat down. He even made sure I noticed that his shoes were on since he was ready to go.  I told him it was okay to be mad but that we also rescheduled our plans for later in the week.

Shortly after that, he said, “so can I get changed back into my pajamas?”

And that’s when I saw the glimpse that it sticks.  All the hard work of reminding.  All the times I feel like I am repeating and nagging.

After he changed into his pjs, he brought down his overflowing basket of dirty clothes and put them in the laundry area.

He walked over to me with a bucket – “just in case you get sick, mommy.”

He brought me a Sprite – even though it was a half-empty bottle that he had been drinking from over the past few days.

He asked, “Is there anything else you need?”

I made sure to tell him thank you after I told him I was fine.

And then he played quietly – or as quietly as Kory can play with his superhero sound effects. 🙂

At one point, I woke up from a little nap, and I heard him in the kitchen.  I looked at the clock, and it was 11:30.  Never once did he ask me for lunch.  Never once did I hear him complain about being hungry.  Instead, he had pulled up a chair to the cabinet to get out the peanut butter and nutella.  And he made his own lunch – I think he claimed he had three pieces of bread with peanut butter and nutella.  Don’t worry I ended up making Cade and myself something simple.

My headache ended up breaking in the afternoon, and that wonderful headache fog was gone around dinnertime.  Kory ended up playing with a friend for most of the evening.  While we were going through his bedtime routine tonight, I, again, thanked him for his help today. 

“I just tried to take care of you like you take care of me when I am sick.”

It does stick. All the reminding. All the repeating.  All the times I feel like I am nagging. And all the times I don’t say anything but just take care of him.  The little glimpses make it worth it all!

and someday his future wife can tell me thank you!  🙂