Monday, July 17, 2017

Advocating for our kids: Let's allow them to use their own voice.

All too often, I've run into parents too concerned about speaking on behalf of their children.  Just today, we had a woman in with her daughter and she was speaking for her.

The daughter had the ability to speak.
The daughter used that ability to speak.
The mother continued to speak for her, but when the daughter was speaking she did pause her interruption.

I believe that the daughter was mildly learning disabled.  She spoke on her own behalf.  She made her needs known in appropriate ways.  She responded appropriately.

So why was mama speaking for her?  I believe that she has probably protected and advocated for her all of her life but since this young lady is probably ball parking 16, she is going to have to have mama loosen those communicative apron strings a bit.

As parents, letting those strings out can feel uncomfortable.  As parents, letting those strings out could also cause us more work.  As parents, we need our children to learn to live outside of our protective or hovering presence.

There was another young woman who came into work to inquire about a job.  As you can guess, mom was with her.  Mom ran her over, ran to the counter, interrupted her and was completely overbearing.  The child could not speak up for herself and she was 18 and going into college.

Parents, we can't do this to our kids.

We need to teach our children how to advocate for themselves.  We need them to learn to speak their needs, themselves, and to learn to be (as my kiddo would call) problem solvers.

I was just talking with M this evening and said that it was a blessing for K to move to a school system that I have not been all involved in.  At her elementary, every teacher knew me.  I was the PTA president, was there all of the time and wrote the monthly newsletter.  K was there with me all of the time schlepping tables for book fairs, decorating things, setting up different events and I think that in some small way, this earned her a bit of a communicative pass from some of her teachers.  Now this isn't to say that K didn't communicate at all, but she was far more shy about making her needs known.

Fast forward to 6th grade.

M and I dropped K off to a strange school with a building full of kids she did not know, no one knew her mama and she had to make it on her own.

Honestly, at the end of her 6th grade year, she fell flat on her face.  It was ugly.  We knew that it was happening because of a series of poor choices, but she needed to learn.  She was in big trouble.  (Lying and not turning work in.)  Her teacher allowed her to turn her work in late, but at a maximum of 50% score.  It sucked, but we had to let it happen.

She pulled through and in the end, open enrollment continued for her 7th grade year.  (We have to re-apply every year, making this mama quite nervous.)  K dusted herself off in middle school, found the book club, volunteered at the library, helped her Language Arts teacher during lunch (we didn't even know this until the end of the year) and was chosen to be Student of the Month for October.

She did this all on her own.

It's not to say that there weren't gaffs in 7th grade, but she really pulled herself up by her bootstraps and made her needs known.  She discussed some inappropriate speak that was going on with one of the young men, asked me my opinion and I gave her both sides.  The next morning she told me, "I've decided to go speak with Mr. L about it.  I know what can happen, but what is going on isn't right and I need someone to know."  Though retaliation was a definite possibility, she spoke with the Vice Principal about her concerns and throughout the remaining part of the year, he would check in on her and make sure that all was okay.

She did this all on her own.

Children's choices may not be our choices, but we need to allow them to make decisions.  We need to allow them to learn to effectively speak for themselves, make appropriate choices and speak out when wrongs need righted.  They need to know ramifications of poor decision making. (Clearly we need to make certain that they are safe and keeping others safe.)

We need to help them to model good behavior and good citizenship.

We need to be an example to them of:
  . . . love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23gentleness and self-control.  Galations 5:22-23
We need to allow them to use their voice.  We needn't speak for them.  We need to guide them.  We need to be there to listen.  We need to allow them to do it . . . on their own.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Goodbye, 7th grade.

K's last day of school was yesterday.  If you don't think that we're having what my friend refers to as a "Super Nothing Day," you have another thing coming.  M has been downstairs playing guitar.  K has been binging on TV.  I have watched TV, read more about our loss of Chris Cornell, sent a few e-mails and watched The Village.

We needed a SND.  7th grade took everything we had.

K had projects and papers, tests and exams.  This is all pretty typical.  This year was her first year for exams.  Prior to exams, she had two A's, three B's and one C.  After exams, she had two A's, one B and three C's.  You know what?  That is fabulous.  Exams for a kiddo who has severe test taking anxiety are pretty rough.  I will give credit to her social studies teacher though.  Not only did he tell the kids and parents from day one that there would be a final exam, but he had them save every paper from the entire year and helped to prepare them for their first exam.

I would love to say that the math teacher did the same, but not so much.

Mr. Math Teacher decided to tell them of the exam on 5/15.  He told them that this exam would cover the entire year and it would begin on 5/17.  It started on 5/16.  It was a group exam and despite her being grouped with some super smart kids, their grade was a 48%, which dropped her 85.5% down to a 71.4%.  Gee, Mr. Math Teacher, thanks for that kick in the gut.

She had an A or a B in math all quarter long.  If she would have ended up with a D or an F for the final quarter, she wouldn't have been in trouble.  Why?  Because she tried her best and she could only study for what she could.  You can't cram studying over an entire year just overnight.

Her social studies grade was a B, dropped less than a percentage point, but that kicked her .22% into a C.  Some teachers have kicked the teetering grades up.  If he doesn't, I certainly won't ague.  The final report card isn't posted yet.  That will be this afternoon.  Still, she rocked it out.  The 7th grade social studies curriculum that they used he referred to as "the equivalent of the pass/fail course of Ancient Civilizations that all of you parents may have taken in college."  Sweet love, he didn't lie.  I never studied the Peloponnesian War, The Roman Crusades . . . in school or in college.  It was some rough stuff to wade through.  Yet, as the teacher guaranteed, they would make it through.

There were nights I was up studying for tests with K until 12:30 AM.  There were times I had her back up at 5:45 AM studying for the same test.  John Calvin, Sir Francis Drake and others, you arrived to me in my nightmares.

Flash cards.

Chapter reviews and the 30 question kid written quiz.

Last year was rough.  Super rough.  Transition to a different school where the kids didn't really accept her all that well didn't go over particularly well.  She found a place for herself this year.  Middle school rocked for her.  She participated in Solo & Ensemble, Music in the Parks and other orchestra performances this year.  She participated in book club, she was a library helper, a class lunch time assistant, and though orthodontia made perfect attendance impossible-- the child never missed one single day of school this year.  There were a handful of days where K was late because of bracket appointments . . . nothing we could do.  (The orthodontist isn't very accommodating in regard to certain appointments.  Otherwise, they are spectacular.)

K rocked it out.  The year wasn't without a catch or a hitch.  There were certainly times I would have loved to sling her over my shoulder and haul her to the car.  (She's over 5'8" and there will be none of me doing that.)  Some mornings, girlie fell a bit behind.  Last week, I asked her if she thought that my car had wings because it certainly does not.

But . . . summer.  :sigh:  We have arrived.  😀

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Motivation to Minimize: Why do I have 3 bundt pans?

For a very long time, even before we were married, M and I discussed his want to move out west.  That want of his has never gone away.  It quieted a bit, but over the past few years, the call has been louder.  The Pacific Northwest is calling him and to the PNW we will go-- some day.

(And before any family panics, K would be out of high school so it isn't any time soon at all.)

We sit back and consider what a move to what most likely would be the Seattle area would involve.  While this move is no where in any near future, we look to now to start asking the question-- do I really need this?

We watched a documentary about The Minimalists.  Now don't think that we went all cult churchy about them, but their points are very reasonable.

We don't need all the stuff that we have.  As my title says, why do I have three bundt pans?  I can tell you how I have three bundt pans.  I can also tell you that I do not need all three bundt pans.  In fact, I forgot that I owned one of the three.

I can also tell you that I cannot recall the last time I used the bread maker.  I do admit that I used it for the first several years we had it.

I can tell you that I have tried the Cake Pop maker a few times, it sucks and I'll never use it.  I also don't need the chocolate warmer that I bought to go with it.

I have several cake carriers.

I have several odd pots and pans that my aunt purchased for me.  I have never used them because I have tried and true pots and pans.  Never had the room for them on the pot rack.

I have never used that 4 piece set of china that my neighbor gave to me not long after we moved in.  It's taking up space and I do not need them.  We do not use them.  We have never used them.

I have a crock-pot that is extra hot.  (Meaning warm is low, low is high, high is extra boiling.)  It has always been this way and I have to watch what I cook in it.

Clothes.  Shoes.  None of us are clothes horses by any stretch, but sweet love of all, I went half way through our closet and through my half of the armoire and was able to produce 2 trash bags of clothes (the white kitchen kind) with absolutely no problem.

Hello, rummage sale.  They will be getting a lot of things from us this year.

We have found that we have truly been re-evaluating what we think we need, what we have that we can re-purpose, what we have that we think that we want to replace and why . . .

Friday, March 24, 2017

Because some days you need a lil motivation to get you through the grocery aisles.

My friend and I were discussing the need to tackle the grocery today.  We have common complaints/comments about shopping.  I said that we needed to make a bingo game.  

Not everything on this list should be viewed as an irritation.  Some things are just common observations that both of us have.  

Thursday, March 9, 2017

One more quarter to go . . .

It's been a big last push to get K through the end of the 3rd quarter.  Sweet love, it was like studying for college finals.

Extra credit be thy savior.

This quarter, K's rotation class was STEM.  Sitting here now, I can tell you more about this class than I could on January 3.  The school system uses trials of particular STEM programs and since they are trials, access for grading such things aren't in a traditional manner.  Add to that my child is not the most technologically savvy.  She turned different projects in, or thought she turned them in, only to find that they popped up 5-6 weeks later as not turned in.

Yes, it took her teacher 5-6 weeks to get around to grading the projects.

The sticking point was that these fine trial programs had run through their trial period.  No more access to these programs by the time he decided to grade them.  WHA?  I set M to task.  She submitted the blank spot assignments four separate times.  I even had her print quizzes and whatnot and I sent her with a folder of 50 printed pages. (No exaggeration, y'all.  Amazon saveth my fanny with 2 day printer cartridge shipping.)  It wasn't right.  It had to be submitted again.

I may have uttered words that should not be included in this post.  In fact, I guarantee that M and I both did.  She worked for hours and yet, all for nothing.

The teacher had kindly responded to each of my e-mails.  Turns out that my kiddo failed to follow directions.  There were technical details she didn't understand, but she thought she did.  Alrighty then, let's get her back on track.

I'm thankful that though I cursed Mr. T (not to his face but out of frustration to M) that he did extend forgiveness and accepted late assignments for full credit.  "They are complete, I don't know what happened to the transmission of them to you."  Well, now I know.

Hello valley of frustration.  I know you so well.  STEM went from an F to an A all in one fell swoop. :wipes the forehead:  Sleepless nights on that one.

We knew that K was going to have a major test in Social Studies.  Add that to the wonderful opportunity that her generally not as grade generous teacher offered this past weekend only to be an "Opportunity Weekend."  Kids were able to turn corrected quizzes, tests and missed assignments in for half of the credit/additional credit that they would have earned.  Turns out that a shortened day of classes in order to make room for a pep rally ended up leaving K with an assignment in her locker and not with her since the classes were switched around (she knew that) and shortened (her first period teacher neglected to inform them) so she was not able to turn that assignment in.  Not with you?  No credit.  (We don't blame him.)  However!  She was saved by an opportunity.  This forgiveness opportunity allowed her to pull her grade up to the next grade level and padded a lil room in case she bombed the upcoming test on-- The Middle (snoozer) Ages.

As M helped her to get STEM straightened around Monday night, I set to the task of breaking down the chapter into a giant mom test.  I used to homeschool her through 3rd grade social studies (she was pulled out for math tutoring and the teacher didn't compensate for that) so I just went back to how we reviewed before.  Grueling, but if I could pull her up from a C to an A in 3rd grade SS, I figured I would roll back to that style again.

Y'all, it worked.  All of that writing and studying late at night (one night we retired at 11:45 PM only to return to studying again at 5:45 AM, next night until 10:30 PM when neither one of us could remain awake any longer and to return to review again at 6 AM) paid off.  

K had her test yesterday, was pleased that she knew all of the material and though it was a group test (group work never works to her advantage) she was able to carry the group through to a 90% A.  (Two girls hadn't studied and were unprepared, one was prepared with her quiz study guide like K, but was feeling fairly unwell.)  That was able to pull K's grade up to a firm/not teetering grade and lifted her spirits.

She can do it.

I'll tell you though, the Middle Ages kicked our butts.

We have discussed different study strategies.  What K has been trying has worked only marginally well.  She is an A, B, C student but sometimes that C was not quite a C.  A's B's and C's are fine.  As long as she is truly putting her best effort out there, any grade is acceptable.  We are going to turn to a quarter of note cards.  I am going to break the chapter of SS down like I did before.  I will do the same with Science.  The way I break them down will be a process done with her.  That way, she will get more of an idea of how to consume a study chapter part by part rather than swallowing it whole and not having the information catch.  She gets overwhelmed and we're going to make this process less overwhelming.  Get her to the point where she can self op like she's been trying but hasn't been doing as well as she would hope.

One more quarter then all three of us will have passed 7th grade.  :sigh:  I can't wait!

Friday, February 24, 2017

I may have been just a touch overzealous.

There has been a very noticeable absence of winter this year.  I have come to the conclusion that my beloved winter is just not to be this year and as my eyes are already watering and my nose is running, I decided to break out the seed packages and embrace what is.

I had some seeds from that I had purchased last year.  I also had some basil and parsley seeds I picked up from Aldi last summer.  A big surprise was when my Secret Santa gift arrived from Victoria BC including-- SEEDS!  Vicki from Victoria was very kind in sending along a number of gardening items and the calendula was included in that.  

Basil just popped up this morning.  The zinnias, portulaca and catchfly are happy.  The zinnias are particularly pleased.  (Oops.)  Here's the thing, it is my goal to grow all of the plants I intend to have in the gardens this year, so it isn't so bad that I got a slightly early start.  

I'm most curious to see if the passion flowers will germinate and grow.  They claim that they have a 30 day germination period.  Y'all, that is going to try my patience.  I want to see them sooner than that!  

Once I get these plants big enough to transplant, I'll make a run at starting some more.  I know that I have beets (not a fan, but VfromV sent them, so I'll try them), carrots will be a direct seed as well as yellow squash.  I have cabbage (from Baker Creek/ that I received as a freebie with an order.  I do love some cabbage, so I may toss a few directly in the ground today just to see what will happen.  

So things are growing!  That is a very good thing! 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

When your child has a Google account and other good reasons of why we have been away.

I swear.  We do still exist.  My first most excellent and really the one big excuse that is why I haven't been on here is because K has a Google account for school.  Thanks to a good friend who handed an old laptop down to K, she has her own computer and now accesses her account from there, but here-- it gummed up the works.  I couldn't gain access.  We tried logging her out.  We tried logging me in . . . Nope.  No can do.

So now.  For some odd reason it has now decided to allow me to come back.

Hey!  I've missed y'all!

Since mid-September, a lot has happened.

K is doing yoga.  Loves it.  Loves Miss Jenn and enjoys her Monday evening class with her.

K is in the 7th grade.  Loves her middle school.  Loves that they give them more freedom than at the other school she attended.  She feels less like the new kid this year, has friends but still deals with the same ole middle school garbage we all dealt with at that age.  It is amazing how the same crap goes on and on.  Just this time we get to spin some social media into it.

Speaking of, we still do not have her doing anything with social media.  She has learned far too much from what others have done that they shouldn't have.  She's okay with hanging back.  She's asked about Instagram, but do people really need to see pictures of her?  Um, not really.

School is still a challenge for K and we've just come to the conclusion that it always will be.  It frustrates her at times, but as long as she is trying her best, that is all we ask of her.

We're divorcing Toyota.  (We aren't divorcing.  No worries.)  Since July, I had both the local Toyota dealership and the tire place juggle us back and forth, telling me that my front end shaking in the RAV was just tires, no it isn't, yes it is . . . Well, it wasn't.  No one believed me.  My front right axle was about to go out, but the Toyota dealership told me that I was fine to drive on it for a year.  When it was replaced, the repair shop told me that it was rare to replace the axle and mine was in worse shape than he had ever seen.  Stabilizer links went out.  A coil spring broke.  (The big, giant springs that you have under your car.)  My differential was leaking.  We've discussed this with Toyota and the response was, "Well, what do you want from a car with 100,000 miles?"  Toyota offered to work with us to replace my vehicle but when they were told that while we are okay financially, we couldn't afford to purchase a car and to have a car payment, all offers were rescinded.  I told the gentleman that 100,000 was half life for a vehicle from them considering that two other Toyotas we owned had over 200,000 miles when they needed retired.  One had over 235,000 miles!  Again, they care none, their quality has gone to crap and we're stuck paying the bill.  Subaru will be our next pick.  We just have to finish paying off braces, buy a violin . . . It'll be a while.

November really sucked.  The month started out with my brother's house burning up.  Turns out that there was an electrical short in the rental they were living in.  They ran out to the store, came back and found the back of their house up in flames.  They lost a dog and a rabbit as well as all of their belongings besides the clothes on their backs and some tubs of Legos.  They had no renter's insurance (don't ask me why because they certainly had the funds for it) but a lot of generosity has pulled them back around.  They are currently waiting for the house to be rebuilt and have plans to move back in some time in May.

M's Aunt Ann died.  She was 92 or 93.  As she was a beloved family member, she had lived a long life and will certainly be missed.  We went back and forth for the calling hours and funeral, M serving as a pallbearer.  We enjoyed time getting together with family and sharing a meal before all of us went off to start life again.

Less than a week later, M's Uncle Jimmy passed away.  This was quite sudden.  A shock.  Uncle Jimmy had just been sitting next to me at the funeral dinner the week before.  "How are you feeling, Uncle Jimmy?"  "I'm doing great!"  I still hear him answering back in his Uncle Jimmy voice.

M's heart was completely broken.

Once again, M served as a pallbearer.  Poor guy.  Twice in one week and this one was the most difficult one he had to do.  Grand kiddos came up and put coloring pages in the casket.  Of course, that was when I broke down.  So very sad.  K was so sad that she opted to go to school because she couldn't handle the funeral.

Uncle Jimmy passed away Thanksgiving weekend, so it was kind of difficult to hit the ground running with Christmas.  We did everything we usually do, but it seemed that we were going through the motions.  That isn't how Christmas is supposed to be.  In my own lil head, I just kept hearing Aunt Debbie sobbing.  Oh, how she broke our hearts, too.

On happier ends of things, because I think I haven't been sprinkling dust of happiness thus far, M celebrated his 45th birthday and we celebrated our 20th anniversary.

We've hit some concerts this past season, the most recent being The Lumineers.  We saw them down in Columbus.  K absolutely loved the concert.  M, not his music, was blown away by their performance.

That brings us to today.  I have a tray of soon-to-be seedlings growing in the window.  It's early, but I've settled in on the fact that winter is just not to be this year.  I made a new spring wreath and put it up already.  I also changed the garden flag to the "Welcome Spring."  Again, must embrace.  I could act like it is winter, but . . .

K and M worked on the bikes the other day, parted two bikes together for her (she had a bike that she won that needed a new rim) and the two of them biked about 9 miles the other day.  Walking at night is going to start happening again.  We all miss it.

Crocus' are up.

K brought me bloomed dandelions in JANUARY.  It's Ohio, y'all.  Just remember, climate change isn't supposed to be a real thing.

K is looking forward to the Solo and Ensembles competition coming up.  She'll be playing a solo on her violin.  I did just learn that she needs piano accompaniment.  Hmmm.  Gotta look into that.

We're here.  We're pulling through and frankly, I am looking forward to summer.