Monday, April 30, 2012

Monday, April 16, 2012

Difficult Decisions in Growing Up

Noah is growing up.

I see it in so many his desire to become more independent, in his ability to take on bigger tasks around the house, in his efforts to try to think before he acts (at least sometimes).

Unfortunately, getting older brings on many challenges that kids don't have to deal with at younger ages.

In two words...SOCIAL STRUCTURE.

This is definitely taking a toll on him this year. He is struggling to find his place within the social structure in this school. Being a small school, his class size (17 total fourth graders) can bring some challenges in finding the right place to fit in. And GIRLS this age seem to be going through lots of changes that are confusing him. We have had MANY discussions this year as he tries so hard to figure out why the girls whom have always been such good friends are suddenly acting so different.

He has one particular female who has stayed his constant throughout, whom he locked onto in kindergarten, and throughout all of the social changes, the two of them have stayed friends.  It is a friendship that we downplay for the sake of not making a mountain out of a molehill, but also one that we fully support, as does the young lady's mom. Yes, it comes in waves, where he'll come home and ask "Mom why isn't K being nice to me today?" and I always have to tell him, "That's just the way girls are at this age and and she will come back to you" which she always does eventually. She will even defend him if other girls are starting their little petty crud against him.

Here is Noah with his gal at the 4th of July fireworks on his birthday last year

In short, he is confused as to why everybody is changing and why things can't just stay as they are. I hurt for him when we are having some of these discussions because he really is so confused.  In addition to this confusion with K, there are many other social triangles causing him stress and heartache and I just wish I could put him in box and protect him from it all.  But alas, I cannot.

So Friday night, a difficult situation arose. His girl, K, invited him to her little birthday party. He was to be the ONLY BOY. It was a very difficult situation. They really do have a special friendship and he really wanted to go to be part of her day. But he was also concerned about being the only boy at the party and feeling like the oddball (his word, not mine). On top of that, there was a huge overnight celebration party at church and he had been looking forward to that for weeks now.

So Friday afternoon after school, the poor kid was in tears after school about how to make the decision. He REALLY wanted me to make it for him and I just couldn't do it. He was so worried that K would be sad if he didn't come and was so excited to have been asked to her party, but he didn't want to feel out of place and he also wanted to go to the church party.

So I broke down and called K's mom, whom I absolutely adore. She is just the neatest woman and I would really love to get to know her better (especially if someday we are MILs together :) ). We talked not just about the situation at hand, but also about the social stuff that's been going on over the last few months in this class.  It was a great talk and I felt much better after talking to her. I also felt honored when she was the second mother this month who reminded me again how lucky I am that my almost ten year old boy still openly talks to his mommy about his feelings.  I know the day will come when this won't be the case, but I am EXTREMELY lucky that at this point it is still true.

Mommy and her special firstborn

So the decision was made together that he wouldn't go to K's party but would still bring her a small gift on Monday. Also, that it would still be okay to invite her to his party in July, which is really what he wanted all along. And K's mom assured me that K had already been worried about Noah not feeling comfortable, even though she wanted him there.

Hubby and I struggled over letting the boys go to the church sleepover as well, not sure if they were ready for it. But actually what made our decision was this same social structure of which I've been talking. With the boys going to such a small school with limited people to choose from as friends, this is another opportunity for them to start finding other healthy social groups from which to choose friends. And the best part was that both boys came home talking of new friends they made. And Sunday morning as we were walking both into and out of church, Noah and new friends were socializing, which we hadn't seen yet in the two years we have been at this church.

These two goofy pictures are from the professional photographer proofs that the church hired for the fiesta.

So yes, growing up is hard to do. Physical changes are a part of growing up. But it sure seems to me that as we face the tween years, the social pressures  that our boys face may be the more challenging issues that we will have to be careful to guide these developing minds through. It is so hard to fight the desire to protect them from mean people or fix their problems. But I have to say, I am getting better at sitting back and watching things play out.

 Growing up is hard to do...for the kid AND the mom. But we WILL make it through!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

We Have Stones

Yes, that title could mean anything. Thankfully, it's not gall or kidney of which I speak :)

No, I am talking about landscaping. In a  few weeks, we will have been in our house for ten years. That alone blows my mind since a couple of years ago I realized that I have been in this house longer than I was ever in one place in my life.

Our front yard has been through many many transformations over the years. I tried to dig up some old pictures for this post but came up short unfortunately. It has gotten me thinking about the changes though.

At this time last year, I had just started my second job with hopes of trying to get our house out of foreclosure (which we did thankfully) but the entire year before that I had done absolutely NOTHING to our yard, either in landscaping OR maintenance because I thought we were going to lose the house.

So this year when we had that warm stretch a month or so ago, I realized that I have 2 to 3 years of no yard care to make up for. Not a small task I must say. But actually, a fun one.

(Left side before stones)

(Left side after stones)

It will look much prettier after the hydrangea and lilac bushes are in full bloom but you get the idea

I love working in the yard. I love getting dirty knowing that the end result is going to be amazingly different and make me feel good when I look outside. Each year for my birthday, my parents take me to a local flower store and we get some flowers or shrubs for my yard. Some things have taken to the ground well and others have had to be replaced.  But the one thing I haven't been able to do is follow up on the flora with any kind of actual landscaping. A few years ago, I did manage to get some paver blocks to put around our front and the tree, and then a couple of years ago I redid that area to make it bigger. But trying to keep a huge area of dirt weed free gets to be a huge task and by mid summer I end up giving up when it gets out of control.

This is the reason I was ecstatic when my neighbor met me at my car last week, announcing that she was going to kill off her lawn, pull out her shrubs and start from scratch. Through the process, they were going to get rid of the MANY stones they had around their bushes and asked me if I wanted them.

Less than an hour later, I had donned my "play clothes", gloves, and the wheelbarrow and together with my neighbor and her significant other, we went to work.

It was probably a little over two hours later when we were finished with my front and the boys were happily sitting outside watching them use a borrowed truck to pull out her bushes one by one. You'd think it was major attraction with how fascinated the boys were by the process. Okay, I admit it....I enjoyed the show as well :)

(Here is the right side where Noah went to work pulling out the weeds that were coming up and the leftover phlox that never quite took)

I have to admit that this picture doesn't do the "after" look justice since all the rocks were still wet. It looks great now though

So now I have stones and hopefully will be able to keep the weed population at bay this summer. I think I am getting greedy now and kind of wishing for some kind of fun ornament to put in the big open space on the right. The boys think I need gnomes like in Gnomeo and Juliet. I'm not sure but it just may be what we will be searching for on my birthday excursion this year :)

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Spring Break ReCap

Spring Break was uneventful for the most part since I had to work a few hours on three different days, which meant the boys had to sit in the little office while I taught. Funny enough, the boys actually don't mind going to work with me. Noah loves watching the babies when they smile at him and Aaron just likes to play on the big cushion we have for jumping into.

A sad disappointment came at the beginning of the week when we found out that Aaron did not get a part in the community musical that he auditioned for. His dance ability hurt him so we will definitely work on that with him before he tries again. He was disappointed but we handled it well so I think he will be fine. I am hoping to find a small and inexpensive way for him to work on this this summer. All of the camps I found are over $100 so that's not going to work. It's so frustrating that only wealthy people or people who know how to secure free stuff can send their kids to camp when normal, really hard working parents should be able to give their kids those opportunities as well...

One nice thing about the week was that we gave the boys their Easter present a week early so they would have an outlet outside. Since we couldn't take a trip anywhere we decided to use the small check we got from Steve 's old job with his PTO to get the boys a trampoline. Anyone who knows Aaron KNOWS that this is just what that crazy kid needs and we were right. He spent the entire week on and off vacillating between the trampoline, basketball hoop, and his bike. I definitely think that this summer will be easier for him when I say "Go outside" because he has something to do.

On Monday I took the kids roller skating. Noah is a great skater and Aaron did quite well with it when I took them over Christmas Break so I thought we would have a blast. Unfortunately, only 2/3 of us had a good time and Aaron just never really got it this time. Poor kid did not have fun and I think we will save the next skating outing for just Noah and his momma.

Tuesday took us to a new play place in our area. We have quite a few of them but new one exceeds all others in size, activities, parent comfort, and safety, and overall value. It was awesome and I know we will be going there again. We have spent so much time at all of the other types of play places but now after being at this one, we probably will not go to any of the others anymore. It was just THAT good.  I even had a chance to talk with the owner of this new place for awhile about how our businesses actually complement each other quite well.

On Wednesday I wanted to try out another new-ish venue we have in our area. It is a health center kind of like a YMCA and I thought the kids would love it. I even put out a question on facebook to see if it would be worth the money since it was a bit pricey for the time we would have to enjoy it.  The pool was kind of fun but both kids were done after about an hour. They did both love the climbing wall and Noah made it to the top a bunch of times. But for $17, we will drive to the Holland Aquatic Center next time and get our money's worth much better.

Thursday was our day to kind of relax at home. It was a beautiful sunny day and we were all happy to be home relaxing (after my hour at work). It turned into a "work party" of sorts though...a happy one. As I was pulling into the driveway, I was met by my neighbor who is in the process of redoing her yard and asked if I would want the stones in her front. I was so excited since we have been in our house for ten years and our front has never been landscaped other than putting in and taking out various shrubbery until I figured out what would work. So for the next three hours, my neighbors and and I dug up, moved, and re-laid stones in my front yard. Noah even did a great job helping for a little while filling buckets from her yard and dumping them into ours. The boys' favorite part however was watching as my neighbors then proceeded to use their truck to pull ALL of her bushes out of her yard one by one. They cheered loudly as each one surfaced. It was quite the event! Yes, we have no life :)

Friday dawned early as our old neighbors were in town for a visit and we set out to walk a nature trail with them. The boys found some trees to climb and got some visit time but things toook a own hill turn when it seemed that Noah wasn't feeling well and by the end of the day  was sporting a fever of 102 that lasted through Saturday night.

Saturday was a calm day while Steve took Aaron out and about and I stayed home with Noah as he was sick on the couch. Hubby finally fixed my bike (that was broken the entire summer last year) so Aaron and I could go on a nice long bike ride. We followed the ride by a cook out and our first meal on the picnic table that I had bought from our neighbors last year. I think that table is going to get a lot of use this year.

Easter Sunday was somewhat uneventful was well but a pretty nice day. Noah was feeling better (other than his voice, which still sounds awful) and we had a great church service. It was followed by a quick egg hunt outside and then a trip to the park to try out the new kites. A very windy day brought us home early and we spent the rest of the day just hanging out and being together.

  And here we are back to real life again. I liked that we tried out some new places over break even though they met with varying degrees of enthusiasm. No matter what, our city has so much to do for families, which makes having a "staycation" a very fun possibility.