Thursday, November 20, 2014

Homework anyone?

At least once a week I get a phone call or text from someone asking if we have tonight's homework.
"Can you take a picture and text it to me" or "Can you scan and email it to us".  If we are not sharing we are doing the searching. And then finally when we are not sharing or searching, we are complaining.
"I didn't hear her say do the back of the worksheet! It wasn't on Schoology - I wasn't the only one".

What is going on?!  This is public school - they can't beat the children for missing assignments like the nuns of my day.  Why are we all so terrified of not getting homework done? I understand the kids being upset....we've already been down that rode this year.  The teachers are taking away recess.

For a school that uses the Love and Logic discipline model - how does taking recess away show consequences for not having your homework? Just sounds old school to me.  The nuns either beat us up, sent us to confession, or took away recess. 

There are no letter grades until fourth year, but there is plenty of testing.  Third graders take three different standardized test. Fall and Spring.  What are third graders getting done besides test prep, test taking, or test reviewing? That's not stressful.

Do we have the wrong theory on successful schools?  Those with great test scores and lots of homework are making the best students? The best citizens? Are we really preparing our children for the Twenty First Century? Maybe we are holding on too tight to how things used to be.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

We are not raising athletes here....

I was walking in the neighborhood the other day and stopped briefly to chat with a group of mom's who had just put their kids on the bus.  One of them was asking us "sports" moms what season it was now because she was thinking of getting her son signed up for something.  Another mom gasped and said it was Basketball season but most teams had already started practice.
"If you are not a team by now you may have trouble finding one." She stated as nicely as suburbianly possible.

The woman's response has been swirling in my head for days, she just laughed and said,
"Oh that's not a problem we are not raising athletes over here."
So what are you raising?

Seriously? Are you raising Desk Jockey's? Scholars? Hermits? I didn't think I was raising athletes either necessarily. There's no Pele or Jordan in this house. I'm raising my children - more specifically boys. Most boys I've met, especially mine, need exercise and lots of it. Sitting around for too long starts World War IV in our house everyone gets so crabby.  Locking kids up for 8 hours a day is the governments job, it's called the public school system.

I'm not just saying this because my husband is a Personal Trainer Extradinaire who eats, breathes, and sleeps exercise.  I know it personally-my anxiety, depression, IBS can get out of control when I get too stagnant.  We all know that your body needs exercise but now there is powerful research that proves your brain needs it! So especially if you are raising scholars they need exercise to grow that big brain.

The last four or five days when I take off for my morning workout which starts with a two mile walk/jog her statement just keeps popping back into my head-.
I have decided that I am raising athletes, and proud of it.  Because life is a full contact sport.  I want them to be ready for everything, able to handle anything, and not afraid of sweat or hard work.  If they learn some of that through Basketball or Soccer - fantastic! (Because I've spent a awful lot of time hanging out with them there.)

But if they also learn that from cleaning out the garage or basement, mowing the lawn, raking the leaves, shoveling our driveway as well as all the neighbors over 65 - fantastic!  Good thing we got a workout in, I'm tired just writing about it.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

My Mother's Parenting Book

My brother is going to kill me for writing this blog. I can hear my phone blowing up right now with "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING!"  Just hear me out, bro.

I am currently in the process of pulling together poems that I have already written along with stuff I am writing specifically to consider for publication.  Most of these poems have a similar theme, anxiety.  These are not adult poems, so no free verse catharsis about my years spent living with anxiety.  Think more along the lines of Dr. Seuss meets Dr. Phil.  That sounded better in my head.

After seeing this common theme among so many of the silly rhymes that I have written, I took a look through my files today. I think I have mentioned that there is not much I collect other than words. Since anxiety is a huge part of my life from birth to giving to birth to two anxious boys (and marrying the third) I have collected a lot of words on this subject.

I have copied pages out of magazines, taken copious notes from books that I checked out of the library, and bookmarked 100's of websites.  There is no shortage of information at my fingertips.  So I started to route through it all.  I found something interesting.  In everything I have collected on parenting a child with high anxiety they all say something similar,

"You will never be able to take anxiety away for your child - they do need to experience some anxiety and overcome it in order to get through life."

Wow. I do not ever remember reading that before. But I did, I even copied it out of a book, and re-wrote it. I obviously wasn't ready to hear it.  Since having my children, I guess I have been so focused on them not having the same childhood that I did that I was convinced I could take the anxiety away.  Or that I could fix it. Or maybe absorb it.

My parents never worked to fix my anxiety growing up. In fact until about 5 years ago I thought they were totally clueless of the hell I went through just getting to school each day let alone the field trips, overnights, and high school. Then my mom told me her side of the story about the day she put me on a bus for a three day overnight camping trip with my class.  I just remember thinking I was going to die, my heart was pounding, my head was throbbing from crying for the last three hours.  I don't even think I packed my own bag that was a combination my mom and my older sister.  I just kept thinking, "How could she put me on this bus and expect me to make it?"  I was scared shitless and miserable.

So was my mom, evidently.  She told me that she sat in her car in the parking lot crying after the bus left.  She wasn't sure if she had done the right thing. But there was no one to ask and no way to know so she had to trust that I would pull through and if not she would get a call in two hours to come get me. She never got that call.

Little did I know my mom was writing the ultimate parenting handbook - Less is More by Barbie Babyboomer.  In talking with other friends with parents this age, we all have similar stories of thinking our parents would rather be with their friends than with us and not even knowing us growing up.  It has made us sensitive to making our children's experience of childhood so much different - coaching their teams, being their room mom's, video taping every event, performance, and milestone. We had none of that!

I turned out ok. I made it through (barely) but I did and look what I am today!
Ok now I can hear my brother laughing. Shut-up bubba you know what I mean.

What I am trying to say is, I can be mad as hell that my mother didn't spend as much time as I have reading, researching, worrying, and obsessing over my children's every experience and interaction. Or I can take a page from her parenting handbook and maybe step back a little now and then.  A lot of anxiety hasn't killed me-yet.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

That's what sister's are for ;-)

So I got a text from my older sister tonight. It read-
"I just grounded J for hitting K! Seriously how old is he? He is not ready for college!"

I busted out laughing. I couldn't help it. Her kids are 17,14, and 11.  Her baby is getting ready to head off to college next year. WOW, how time flies. I digress because I wasn't really reminiscing, I was still laughing my ass off and telling my husband stories of my sister at that age. 

Like the time she came home after school with her friends and found me wearing her socks. She tackled me, sat on my face, and ripped them off my feet.  Or the College visit with Dr. Jeckel and Sister Hyde.  She cursed my mother for making her go then spent an hour and a half in the car without speaking to her. (This is pre-celluar, ianything, or even decent radio out is Sticksville Midwest mind you) Only to get on the campus and run into a cute boy from our hometown. My  mom was livid as she suddenly turned into a charming demure young woman, who promptly ditched her mom.

Being the sensitive sister that I am I text this to my older sister who has obviously reached out in her hour of need-
"Remember when you...."

Hey, that's what sister's are for. I'm just keeping it real. Peace out.
Your Welcome.

P.S. to J and K - I have a lot stories more I could tell you ;-))))

sneaky little ....

Let's make this clear - I am the only one allowed to hide in the closet eating Halloween candy around here. Especially when it is in MY closet.

I love Halloween. Not because of the costumes, the decorations, the meaning, blah blah blah Because my kids bring home 5 lbs. of candy that I would never buy and further more that under any other circumstance my husband would not allow in the house.

So why do I hide it? Because my son's have my lack of self-control when around 5 lbs. of candy. None. And because my husband would have thrown it out on October 31st- if he could have found it.  I realized this after several Halloweens where, after I woke from a chocolate coma on Nov. 1st, the candy bag was empty and the garbage taken out. He knows me well.

The boys candy bags have been in the back of my closet behind a bag of extra toys I forget each year at Christmas and two purses that my mother unloaded on me.  I use them to store the tablecloths my mother-in-law unloads on me.  (When will either of them realize I don't use purses or tablecloths!) This blog is getting way off course isn't it?

We just took down a small tree that was dead and I thought it would be a great night for a fire pit. It isn't freezing cold yet, it was the perfect Fall day and the boys have been outside all day.  I have some graham crackers, marshmallows, but no chocolate. While I was debating running to the store it dawned on me that we had Halloween candy. Eureka!

I pull the bags out and start to dig for anything smore worthy like a full size Reece's cup or already smashed Snickers bar. Hey - this is not my first trip to the Rodeo, ladies.  As I am digging through my youngest son's bag I start to notice an unusual amount of empty wrappers.

Let me preface with -my boys are not super savvy when it comes to being sneaky. Like saying they have to use the bathroom when asked to clear the table, or saying they are going to take a "nap" with their itouch, and obviously like eating Halloween candy and leaving the empty wrappers in the Halloween bag. HA! Rookie. Everyone knows you shove the whole piece in your mouth and throw the wrapper away in the kitchen garbage bag under the dog poop bag. Well now they do anyway.

Needless to say we had a long talk about this sneaky behavior and the consequences were no smores or candy tonight. I think what I am most mad about is that this is the child that will not go anywhere in our house without one of us escorting him - but somehow found his way into the dark recesses of my bedroom closet to his candy bag. God I love these kids!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Emotional week

It's been an emotional week. The Lauren Hill story has been  daily news not only locally, but nationally. It makes you hug your kids tighter.

I meet our former babysitter, my husband's former co-worker, and a dear friends' 7 week-old baby boy.  He is beautiful! and talkative and alert and active- I don't want to change clothes because I smell like baby.  It's like that episode of Modern Family where Claire is rubbing the baby all over her while her dad looks on like she is nuts.

My children are happy one minute because there is no school on Election Day and then screaming the next because they can't play Nerf wars.  One minute my husband is pumped to go mountain biking in this unseasonal and gorgeous November weather and curing the next because the kids won't pick up their shoes.

It's been a week of up and down. A roller coaster ride. I'm never sure whether I'm laughing or crying, coming or going.  I keep hearing my grandmother saying "Expect the unexpected." But it wasn't until today in a quiet moment after the baby left, with all the boys outside busy somewhere that I smelled her.  Out of the blue, I smelled Grandma.

That's when the water works poured.  I have never felt so completely confident that my Grandmother was sitting right there next to me since she passed.  So I talked - just like old times. I made a cup of tea and almost got out the butter and crackers except I didn't have the right kind of crackers.  I told her how much I loved her, and missed her, and needed her here by my side.

I'm still going to hug the boys a little tighter tonight. Right after we go through old photo albums and relive some of those precious and not so precious moments that have made life richer by far.  Because like Grandma always said, "You have to take the good with the bad." or was that Facts of Life???

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Good things come to those who love...and never give up

This is a story you won't soon forget - this story touched us in more ways than one seeing as my Uncle George battled a nasty form of brain cancer similar to Lauren's that grows tentacles, is resistant to current medicine, and will ultimate take the life of the individual.  Lauren's motto "Never Give up".

But also this young woman's Coach, Dan "Bear" Benjamin, is a dear friend who has kept his love of coaching alive no matter how many times he was told to "give it up".  He is an amazing teammate, friend, coach, and father. He is like a brother to my husband and someone we are honored to call Uncle Bear.  Recently named the Head Women's Basketball Coach for Mount Saint Joseph University I know that he was put in this place and time for this young lady.....

Today is Lauren's last game, and Dan "Bear" Benjamin's coaching debut in college basketball.  Today they will both enter the arena one person - and exit another. Forever changed - forever touched by one another.

God Bless you both.

the TODAY show - NBC

here is the link to game highlights and interviews

MSJ website


the foundation taking donations for brain cancer research-Layup for Lauren

Ding Dong the Soccer's Done!!

At least it was for about a minute. I was so excited. I have had this day marked on my calendar for weeks - END OF SOCCER - and yet here I am gingerly holding my phone in my hand thus I may push a button without meaning to and suddenly get myself into a whole new pickle.  There is a text for one son's team asking if he can sub tonight for the first indoor game and a text from a former teammates mom asking if the other son can play indoor on their team in January.

I really want to be done. I really want to say good bye to soccer altogether, and yet here I am posed on the precipice of soccer drama to come.....stay tuned.