Friday, October 31, 2008

I Cried Happy Tears Today!

Disclaimer: This goes against my "Do Not Blog" Rule, but since it is positive about Noah, I am going with it.

We're coming into conference times, starting next week.

Last year conference time was so stressful. Everyone else was posting about how wonderful their kids were doing and how much the teachers loved them. I left both conferences crying last year because I was frustrated at how frustrated the teacher was with Noah. Academically, he was way ahead of the other kindergartners, but he was doing dumb things like throwing books across the room when he was mad and goofing around with other kids when he could easily have been paying attention.

By the end of the year, I almost pulled him a month early because you could tell the teacher just couldn't stand him anymore. It was enough to make a mother's heart break. Noah was part of a group of four boys that were messing around all the time. The problem was also that Noah isn't sneaky, and always the one getting caught. He would take the shenanigans of the other kids, add a bit of flair and spice, take it to the next level of obnoxiousness, and be the one who got in trouble. I started wondering about ADHD, even though I was quite sure that it wasn't the proper diagnosis for Noah.

At the last conference of the year, his kindergarten teacher actually told me that "Mrs. T is pretty worried about having Noah in her class next year." What a wonderful thing to hear, huh?

Over the summer, we played with his food selections and frequencies. We had an AWESOME summer. His aggression all but went away and he learned so much that I was hopeful for a good first grade year.

As this year started, two of the four boys that cause the trouble got sent back to kindergarten, one didn't return to Noah's school and then there was Noah. I was very hopeful. I was still concerned about the preconceived notions of Noah from Mrs. T and I worried that he wouldn't have a fair shake this year.

There have been many emails back and forth this year as Noah has settled into first grade. The jump from Kindergarten to first grade in work level has been huge. His teacher makes and takes suggestions and Noah is doing quite well. She has said numerous times about how much he matured over the summer.

Last year when he got in trouble, it was for being aggressive or rude; this year it's for talking without raising his hand.

This week is the first week he has gotten perfect behavior EVERY DAY so far and we have been praising it BIG TIME. But then I got this email from his teacher yesterday:

Kristi, Noah seemed kind of sad today. He talked about doing school at home tomorrow and said he did not want to come to school. Just wanted to let you know this. I asked him why and he just said he likes it at home. He didn't say if anything was bothering him. If something is bothering him, please let me know. Thanks! :) Have a great night.

I responded with:

Thanks for writing. I really appreciate your being so in tune with him. It shows how much you really care about our kids. I think he is getting really stressed out about being good all the time. Especially when he so close to having a perfect week for the first time all year. I asked him about it, he just says he's tired from working so hard all the time. I am glad that he's working so hard and learning so much. Please keep me informed if things get worrisome. I also think he's fighting a virus of some sort...he sounds scratchy even though he never admits when he's not feeling well. Thanks again for your concern. We are so lucky to have you teaching him this year. See you tomorrow at lunch. Kristi

And the icing on the cake was this morning's note from her:

I think something is going around. The kids have been coughing-on each other and on me-ha-and it's not even winter yet! He has been working very hard! I am proud of him. He did say that he wanted to sit at the yellow table all year. I told him he would probably want to sit with friends for some of the time, but he said no. I said that would be fine, but he freely moves back and forth which is great. I think he likes being at the yellow table kind of away from the "temptation" of messing around. I think he is such a great kid...he has a great sense of humor, he loves science, and learning. He is working really hard on self-control...good for him! See you soon!

(Note: The yellow table is the extra table in the class and I suggested to Mrs. T that maybe he would want to do his quiet work there to avoid distraction. I suggested it to his Kindergarten teacher last year and she wouldn't do it)

I am actually crying happy tears again as I re-read the note. It feels so good for others to see the greatness that I knew was there all along.

What a difference a year can make! I am actually looking forward to his conference next week.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Photo Story Friday: October School events

Warning: Long-ish post ahead!

October events for two boys in school seemed to be plentiful. Of course, Mommy came along for the ride (actually, driving in Noah's cases) taking pictures all the while. The boys are so used to mommy tagging along with the camera that as of now, there are still no "Mom, you're embarrassing me!" I am quite sure that will come soon enough.

Noah's school is so small (202 in the entire K-12 school) that they don't have buses. Instead, fields trips require parent drivers. There's nothing so embarrassing as getting an email from the teacher on the morning of a field trip reminding me that I haven't put my new insurance info in the car yet.

The first of the field trips was Noah's trip to a play, Fantastic Mr. Fox. As I sat down with Noah, I noticed something STICKY in his hair. It was quite yucky feeling, even though I couldn't see anything. Then, just after we got the kids settled, the school's fire alarm goes off. The class heads out to wait and Noah is now obsessed with the stickiness in his hair.

While the wait seemed to take forever, Noah also had to share his ickiness with other fascinated first graders.

After we got let back in and the play started, everybody settled down, but after the show, when the actors came into the audience to mingle with the kids, Noah didn't want anything to do with the "scary" characters.

The next week, Aaron's preschool class took a field trip to the library. I was amazed at how many kids had never been to the local library before. It was quite a long walk, but it was a beautiful day and one of the parents knew a short cut path through the woods.

Aaron put on a puppet show with a little friend from his class

Got a bracelet to hold his own library card (which has long since broken)

And they even had a story time with Miss Rita, the children's librarian. Notice my little boy the one who wormed his way onto Miss Rita's lap.

The next week, Noah's service field trip got a little goofed up. They were scheduled to go rake two homes and it started raining by 9:00 and never let up.

So because the kids were already going to McDonald's the parents decided that we might as well take them for lnh anyway. Because there had been no outside recess, the kids were very wound up and Mrs. T had no lesson plans done for the day since they were supposed to be gone, they played in the play area of the McD's for close to two hours. Rather than taking Noah back to school for an hour and a half to watch a movie and then drive the 15 minutes back to school to get him, we started the weekend early and I brought him home after lunch. He thought he was so special to be leaving early.

I don't know if they are going to try to make up the raking trip or not.

This week (finally), Aaron had two events.

The first was a "pumpkin patch" at his school. The teachers actually made an imaginary pumpkin patch outside, complete with scarecrows, hay, and pumpkins. The kids went in small groups to three stations; a scary story, donuts and cider, and "picking" pumpkins.

For some reason, Aaron decided to feed his pumpkin to the scarecrow...who knows why?

Luckily, the last event didn't cause any hard feeling between brothers. Noah's school isn't allowed to do Halloween, so Friday was a regular day of school for him. But Aaron's does, complete with allowing them to wear their costumes to school.

SPiderman is quite the hot costume this year. Mine is the one on the left.

They made cookies

and played games

I don't believe November holds as many activities, but I am looking forward to lots of days off with the kids, between conference days off (which of course fall on two different weeks) and Thanksgiving break.

I hope everyone has safe Halloween fun this weekend and comes back on Monday to sign Mr. Linky if they shared their weekend events on their blog.

Thursday Thirteen; "Whither Thou Goest"

It's no secret. Our kitten Pumpkin is driving us crazy. He is unusually pushy. Rather than sitting nicely on our laps, most of the time he has the need to climb and stick his yucky, I mean wet, nose on your chin or neck. He is driving older sister Minnie nuts too.

He feels the need to always be in the center of whatever action is happening. Minnie has learned to stay out of the way, but not Pumpkin. So much so that Pumpkin got banished to the bedroom during Aaron's birthday party Sunday, while Minnie sat in a corner and watched the entire event.

1. It started the very first day we brought him home...snuggled into Noah's lap.

2. In the present box as Aaron opened his birthday gifts

3. Being involved in bedtime stories

4. On Grandma's lap during a birthday party

5. Wrapped up cozy warm by Aaron

6. He doesn't even just reserve it immediate family members. He took a snuggle with Cousin Kira

7. And took a nap with mommy

But his most common activity is to follow Minnie around everywhere she goes.

8. The computer desk

9. Wishing that Minnie would give him his bed back

10. Sleeping with Noah

11. Fighting over the furnace the minute it is turned on for the first time this fall

12. Even following to the facilities

Of course, Minnie doesn't always like a tag along little brother

13. I'm not sure if this is a hug or a fight, but it is the most common position of these two cats lately.

In all reality, Pumpkin is a very sweet kitty, but he really is driving us insane. The struggle comes with the fact that Noah absolutely loves him. I can't imagine the kind of irreparable damage we would create if Pumpkin went to live somewhere else.

So I guess he can stay. But I really wish he'd leave our necks alone!

Thursday Thirteen is my favorite meme of the week so feel free to let me know if you are participating this week so I can visit you by signing Mr. Linky below.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tackle It Tuesday; Gratitude

I have been thinking a lot about gratitude lately. Do I show it? Do I show enough example for my kids to display it?

It all came to a head yesterday afternoon. As I have mentioned, tables have turned recently and we are severely struggling to make ends meet. I spent yesterday applying for nighttime jobs to try to supplement our income a bit. I don't mind taking another job if it means that we won't feel this panic any longer, especially going into Christmas.

Because of this, I went to a consignment shop a few weeks ago and got Noah both a fall jacket and a winter coat. He didn't like the winter coat, and disliked it so much that he "lost" it. I understood the situation...the coat was quite a bit too big for him and didn't have a hood so I finally decided to break down and spend the money to get him a good winter coat. I justified it by saying that it had to make it through two kids. I'm sure the old coat will turn up and then he'll have an extra and it will fit him better next year.

I found a good deal and was happy to get it for him. I knew it would keep him warm and it wasn't "puffy" so I knew he wouldn't complain. When we got home from school yesterday, I said, "Hey Noah, I got you a new winter coat. Please come try it on." Rather than, "Thanks Mom", I got "Mom, No, I don't want to try things on." And he proceeded to throw a bit of a tantrum. Then when Steve got home, he went to go take the boys outside to play. He told Noah to go get his new coat and Noah's response was, "No, I'm going to throw that coat in the garbage. I don't want it!"

So now I get a call at work from Steve yelling me at me because he's mad at Noah. So I told him, "Fine, I'll take the coat back. Then I can put that money toward getting the mortgage paid."

When I got home, I indeed went and put the new winter coat away. Steve says, "Here we go again."

Apparently, there had been quite a battle when I got off the phone about said winter coat. Now all of a sudden it's, "No Daddy, no Mommy, I want the coat" begging and pleading the while. At bedtime, while I was doing books with Noah, we spent some time talking about gratitude. We talked about people who don't have all of the things they need. I was also very honest with him about Mommy and Daddy not having a lot of money right now and how we worked very hard to get him the coat and when he doesn't appreciate it, it hurts our feelings. He seemed genuinely repentant.

This morning was the coldest morning of the year. The winter coat is still hanging in my closet, out of sight. I was VERY tempted to send him off with no coat, but that would just be abusive. So I sent him with his fall jacket and hat and gloves. A small, very bad, piece of me is really hoping that Noah feels a little cold on the playground today. I hope I am teaching him a lesson and not scarring him for life.

What does this have to do with Tackle It Tuesday, you may ask?

Let me tell you.

Aaron received gifts for his birthday all week last week. When someone gives you a gift, the proper thing to do, whether they were there when you opened it or not, is to write a thank you note. I was told this when I was younger, and it is maybe the ONE thing that I credit my mom for in my upbringing.

I think I mentioned this after Noah's birthday. We always get them written, but for some reason, I tend to forget to put them into the mail...every time

So here sat Aaron yesterday getting them all written. I bought the kind where you just write the person's name, the gift, and the child's name as a way to make it easier. Aaron is actually writing his name LESS clearly since school started...I'm not sure why.

The nice thing about my Grandma Buelke is that every time she has ever sent a present for one kid, she always sends one for the other. Noah got a really neat seed book from her.

So he wanted to write one too.

Now I just need to make sure they make it into the mail today.

Steve has done one thing every night at dinner ever since the boys were really small, that is starting to become a habit. Whomever made dinner each night, right after prayer, Steve always says "Thank you mommy for making dinner" or I say "Thank you daddy for making lunch". It is now becoming habit for the boys to race to see who can thank us for the meal first.

So gratitude can come in many forms. I don't expect the boys to bend over backward just because I washed their underwear. But I worry that I am not displaying enough gratitude in my own life, and therefore not instilling it in my children.

So I open it up to you, my readers. How do you teach gratitude in your household? How would you have handled the coat issue?

I will be eagerly awaiting your thoughts.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Weekend Top Five

You know, some weekend I struggle to try to think of five interesting things we did. This weekend I have the opposite problem. I am having trouble narrowing it down.

Aaron's birthday took over the weekend quite well. A birthday weekend is always fun.

Hold on to your hats we go.

5. Friday night at the mall

Every one kept asking me what to get Aaron for his birthday. It became a quandary for me as well because Aaron is different than Noah was. Noah knew what he liked and what he wanted from an early age. Aaron just kind of goes with the flow, which makes it a little more challenging.

So we decided for his birthday to let him go to Build A Bear and make a bear for his birthday, since he never had before.

He filled it with fluff

Gave it a "bath"

Gave it a name on the computer ("Man") for his birth certificate

and gave it a hug to officially make it his own

Of course, the bear had to accompany him to the play area in the mall, including a trip down the slide

and when we went into the book store, there was a special Friday night story time with Spot the dog there to greet kids. Spot the dog loved "Man" too.

4. Saturday Morning Toy Battle

There are no pictures for this joyful experience. Saturday morning has become a battle ground in our household. It is the ONLY day of the week that I require the boys to clean up their rooms. It has become more them complaining and me yelling at them and it is pretty much as ineffective as is it is stressful on all of us.

After an hour and a half of the fight on Saturday morning, I had had enough. I marched upstairs and just started scooping up toys off of the floor. One by one, I marched all the way to the basement with them. Noah of course flipped out but I was determined to follow through.

I am not quite sure about how to have him earn them back yet. I guess we'll see what happens next Saturday morning during clean up time.

3. Birthday Trip to Chuck E Cheese

Since we knew we were having Aaron's party the next day, we decided to take the boys to CEC for a fun night on his actual birthday. Deb brought her girls to join us.

Aaron enjoyed the games

Aaron and Noah rode the simulator together

Tried to play skee ball without throwing the ball into other people's lanes

and Aaron learned to do something else that I had never had to deal with before...token begging

2. Church

After all the hullabaloo, I didn't do anything wrong this week.. Woo Hoo! Actually, I have pretty much hid in the choir room or Sunday School rooms so as not to offend anyone and because I don't really know whom I can trust anymore.

The good thing though was that my cherub choir performed really well, even though about half of them were gone this week. Noah participated really well...he really is one of the strongest singers in the group. He is on the top, 2nd from the right.

1. Aaron's Birthday Party

We have quite a small house, so at about 2:00 Sunday afternoon we decided to clean out the basement and try to hold the party downstairs. It worked out pretty well.

We fed the kids

They played Halloween twister. I learned that my niece Piper is EXTREMELY flexible.

Noah picked out trophies for prizes to the winners. Look how proud my birthday boy is in front.

Had cake. Nancy brought the cake for us. She called on Saturday morning to see what kind of cake. I said, "Oh, just pick whatever." About two seconds after I got off the phone, Aaron says, "No, Mommy, I want chocolate." so he got to call her back and make his request . "A Chocolate Superman cake"

All of the kids loved playing with the Lincoln logs that Aaron got from Grandma and Grandpa

So, yup, it was definitely an action packed weekend. I hope you will consider participating in the Weekend Top five. Feel free to steal the button at your right and sign the Mr. Linky below. Ii really is a fun way to sum up your weekend and also make a user friendly post for your readers to share your weekend events.