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Category: Kids & Parenting

School is in Session

Today we began distance learning from home for all three kids. The teachers are breaking them in easy this week. They have mostly review items for now as they adjust to this new way of doing school. It is going to be an adjustment for sure – for all of us. I nearly had an anxiety attack yesterday just trying to keep all the emails from teachers and school admins straight. Just trying to keep track of which teachers teach which classes for which child is enough in itself.

So, like my usual Excel-loving self, I made spreadsheets. Each child now has a weekly checklist with class/subject, teacher, where to look for assignments, and a spot to check off that they have checked/completed assignments for each class. Several teachers are utilizing Google Meet to get some face time with their students, so we have to keep track of those times as well.

Today was interesting as we got into this new school mode. I set up a desk down in my office for Caleb as he will require the most hands-on help from me. I feel extremely unqualified to teach him, but fortunately, he was able to guide me along. I can tell I’m going to get some resistance as we go along but today went fairly well. I’m definitely going to need to put in some prep time ahead of him sitting down with me (or get his sister to fill in) on the math. There are so many new terms with Common Core Math that I have no idea what they are talking about. I never was one to be able to explain myself when it comes to numbers. I just knew how to get the answer.

My high schooler – my most school avoidant child – says he would rather be at school in class than doing it at home. While he refuses to open his school issued chromebook, he did at least pull up his assignments and complete them using his phone. +1 to Google for being accessible on any device!

And my middle schooler, who is a fairly consistent high-achiever, completed all of her work and was “bored” while waiting for her Google Meet time with her band class. We’ll see how long that lasts. She also is my most social and really lit up when she got to see some of her classmates on the screen. They went straight from that to setting up a Google Hangout so they could talk longer.

Today started the beginning of the 30 day Stay-at-Home order issued by the county. At this point, we’ve already been mostly staying at home (with the exception of hubby who is still going to work) for ten days. The kids are finding ways to keep in touch with friends, though I think the lack of in-person interaction will get harder as we go along. Even my youngest is getting some talk time in with his friends while playing Fortnite. As much as I dislike the game, I do appreciate that it gives him some virtual time with friends right now. I am truly thankful that we have the technology to allow us to keep in touch with friends, to work, and even go to school when we can’t leave our home.

For me, I am hoping this time allows me to write more. Besides the therapeutic aspect for me, I also want to document. This time in our lives is something my kids will tell their kids about someday. Maybe they will look back on these pages and realize why mom was so nuts during that time. Maybe they will appreciate having this time to slow down and be together. Either way, this Pandemic is a piece of history being made and like it or not, we’re here for it.

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When Mama Bear Comes Out

Some days it really is a struggle. I try to keep it contained as much as possible, but some days the Mama Bear within me just comes out. Let’s just say Monday was not really a good day.

It started out great. Everyone got up on time and got off to our various places for the day. I’m at work going on about my day and things are good. About 9:30 or so I got a call from the high school nurse. It is only the 4th day of the school year, so I definitely was not expecting that quite yet. The nurse tells me that Zach has fainted in the locker room after gym class. Oh.

I’m a worrier when it comes to my oldest son. He has his share of difficulties and school has not always been easy for him. And gym class is one of his least favorite classes. He chose weight training for his Freshman PE credit because it keeps him from having to do group sports activities in the traditional PE class. When I heard during curriculum night that they would be doing quite a bit of running I was already a little worried. Then he told me Friday that he felt sick Friday when they had to run outside so I was already a bit stressed about the whole thing.

And now he has passed out. The nurse assured me he was ok, but that he had hit his head on the floor when he went down. She was making sure he had something to eat and was making him drink juice. She was going to keep him there for a bit and then send him back to class if he was feeling ok. No need to come pick him up.

So. There I sit at work worried like crazy. I chatted with a co-worker about it and about how I am really struggling to between taking care of him and letting him be independent and take care of himself now that he is in high school. It is a skill he needs to develop, but he’s still my baby.

A little bit later, my phone rings again. It is the school nurse. Zach has now thrown up in class, so they are concerned that he could potentially have a concussion. Now it is time to pick him up and yes, I should probably take him to the doctor to get checked out.

As I rush to get to his school, which is now about a 30-minute drive from where I work, I’m calling the doctor’s office to see if I need to bring him there, go to urgent care, or to emergency room. I haven’t done the whole concussion thing before. They said to bring him in to their office and they would check him over.

When I got to school, he was looking so frail and weak. It broke my heart. There’s that thing where no matter how big they are, you just want to wrap them in your arms and protect them. That’s where I was in that moment. But, I’m sure he’d had enough embarrassment for the day so I refrained.

We got to the doctor and had him checked out. The doctor did not see signs of a concussion. Whew. She did tell him to take it easy the rest of the night, drink lots of fluids, and no screens. She also gave him a 48 hour pass for gym class. She pretty much determined the whole episode was caused by over exertion and getting over heated, which is not unusual for him.

He pretty much slept the rest of the day (on the couch ’cause I wasn’t letting him out of my sight) and most of the evening. I made him get up to eat and then he went right back to sleeping.

During all of this, Evie and Caleb got home from school and Caleb’s bus dropped him off at the wrong bus stop. It is down the block at the other corner. It wouldn’t have been a huge deal, except for the fact that this was the third time (out of 4 days) that it had happened. I thought it was fixed after a call to the bus company, but then it happened again. And the heat index was 106 degrees at the time. My poor kiddo came in the door dripping with sweat and bright red cheeks. Mama was not ok with this. I certainly didn’t need a second kid passing out or throwing up because of the heat. Another call was made to the bus company and well, I can’t say that I was very nice on the phone. However, on day five, he was dropped off at the right stop.

Also in the mix of all of this, I had to leave to go to a meeting at work. Oh, and did I mention that Hubby was out of town too? I gave Evie strict instructions to keep an eye on her older brother and keep the noise level down. She did her job, and also texted me photos of him sleeping while I was in my meeting.

When I got home from my meeting, the house was a mess, the dog needed walked, the trash needed gathered and the bins put out for trash pickup, I needed to update the school nurse on Zach, contact his gym teacher, and I was just mentally exhausted.

I sent out a quick email to the nurse to let her know Zach’s doctor does not think he has a concussion. Then I decided to email the Coach. That may not have been the best idea. I should have let me head clear a bit, but at that point I wasn’t sure if Zach would be going back to school the next day or not so I wanted to make sure he knew about the 48 hour pass for gym class, plus fill him in a little on Zach and his physical ability. I tried really hard to be tactful, but the mama bear may have been showing a bit.

I may have yelled a little too much getting the kids in bed. Then I still had to walk the dog and do all the cleaning up before I could go to bed. While I was walking the dog I called Hubby to fill him in on everything and I pretty much just spent all that time griping and complaining about everything that had happened that day. Not my finest moment, but I guess I just needed someone to listen.

Things are better today. Zach is feeling better and is back to school today. The bus situation was fixed yesterday and hopefully continues to be fixed this time. I wish I could go back and fix my attitude, but sadly it doesn’t work that way. I obviously still need to work on better stress management.

Here’s to the rest of the week being as uneventful as possible!

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School Days

Here we are again. It’s been a while since I have posted anything here. We have had a whirlwind of a summer. I feel like summer had really just begun these last couple weeks and here we are starting school again.

This was the summer of “The Move.” We finally bought a house. It is terrifying – the financial responsibility home ownership after renting for so long. But, it was definitely time to do it. We spent most of the month of May getting the new house ready – painting, cleaning, etc. The kids got out of school June 7th and we moved June 8th. Then, amidst unpacking and trying to get settled in the new house, we spent most of June cleaning, painting, and fixing up the old rental house before we turned the keys over. July sped by as we worked on getting settled and here we are already in the middle of August (still with some boxes to unpack) and school has started.

There are so many reasons we wanted to move, but the primary reason has always been to get the kids in better schools. One day in and I am so incredibly grateful for the school district we are now in. The supports they have built into the school day for the kids are amazing. Teachers and counselors have been extremely responsive. The higher expectations they have for their students are laid out from the beginning. I am so excited about the options and opportunities they will have here. Even my oldest, for whom school is rather challenging (and who hates change and new experiences) had a great first day yesterday and is very positive about everything so far.

The hardest part of school starting is going to be adjusting to a new schedule. The bus is coming at 6:40 for the big kids, which is a huge difference from what they are used to. And a huge difference for me. My new wake up time is 5:30 a.m. Let’s just say I’m not a morning person and neither are my kids. The bus thing is all new as well. For the last 9 years, I have driven kids to school every morning. It is strange to put them on a bus and trust someone else to get them to school and back home.

The benefit of this schedule, however, is a little quiet time to myself in the mornings in between the bigs leaving and the little one getting up. I don’t know how long I’ll keep it up, but for two days in a row now I’ve been showered and ready to start my day at 6:30. Since Caleb’s bus doesn’t come until almost 8:00, I have a little time to just do my thing before I even need to wake him. Today, I’m writing. Not that this is anything amazing, but knocking the cobwebs down in this space is a good thing. I’m hoping to spend more time writing, reading, photo editing, maybe even exercising (!). I’m sure a routine will work itself out over time. For now, I’m just enjoying the quiet in this space.

We also added this guy to our family about a month ago. Phoenix is an almost 10-month-old Jack Russell Terrier. His family needed to re-home him due do some medical and scheduling issues and I’m so happy that we were able to add him to our family. He is super energetic, but also so sweet and loving – just not so much toward the cats. We’re working on some training, but he loves to go on walks (and runs) and is getting me out exercising as well which is a great thing. I’m totally smitten.

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6.99

Tomorrow Caleb turns seven. It’s not one of those big monumental birthdays, just a regular middle-of-the-road kind of birthday, yet it still feels very significant. This morning I pulled up Facebook and was greeted with a photo memory the two of us, taken just before his first birthday. Oh how life has changed since then.

caleb reading bey blade paper
Checking out new bey blades

As I scrolled through the memories that Facebook so graciously pulls together, I clicked over to one of my Tuesdays With Caleb posts. That sent me through a wormhole here on this site as I read and reminisced over the photos taken during that time with him. What I wouldn’t give to have those days back. I was definitely thankful then for that time, but even more so now. Being able to work from home a couple days a week and spend time with him was such a gift.

caleb on ipad
a little iPad time

So much has changed since then and I’m a little sad that I’ve failed to document it. I’m really sad that I was not able to continue the photo project I started with him. I’ve taken snapshots on my phone and posted little tidbits to Facebook and Instagram, but the early years of his life were not documented in the same way that his siblings were. I can blame it on life being more busy with three little ones, or the fact that life with Caleb has been a little bit more of a difficult adventure than we expected, or even the fact that I just can’t calm my brain down enough most days to focus on writing, but regardless, I am sad that I don’t have that time to look back on. I have memories, but the details are lost.

caleb with bey blades
Let ’em rip! Bey Blade time!

Today is President’s Day, so the kids and I all have a day off of school and work. We’re preparing to celebrate Caleb’s birthday tonight with the family as tomorrow will be busy with back to school/work/activities. I pulled out my camera this morning and decided I’m going to document just a little. I can’t promise that I’ll continue to write, or even keep up with the photos – but for today, I’ll have those photos and this post to document this time in his life.

cat playing with paper
Bonus kitty photo!

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Gifted

A couple of months ago, my phone rang. It was a local number I didn’t recognize, so I almost didn’t answer. I caught it on the last ring, just before voicemail would have picked up, thinking that it could be one of the kids’ schools calling.

The woman on the other end of the phone introduced herself and said she was calling about my daughter. Based on recent test scores, they wanted to test her for a program for exceptionally gifted children and she was calling to ask my permission. Say what?!?

It is no secret that my children are all very smart kiddos. The two older kids are both involved in the gifted program at their schools and have always done very well in school. I’m pretty sure that Caleb will follow right along in their footsteps in a couple years as well. I mean, hey, they all take after me, right? Seriously though, I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging, but they are all very intelligent kids.

This whole thing took me totally by surprise though. For one thing, I had never even heard of this program. For another, there are only two (yes, 2) other kids in her grade level currently in the program out of the three school districts that it covers.

To make a long story slightly shorter, I agreed to have her tested and she passed and even I was impressed with the results of the IQ test. Yes, I knew she was a smarty pants, but whoa.

However, there was still a lot to consider. Going into this program would mean changing schools and school districts. Since she just changed schools last year, I worry a little about uprooting her again. Plus, we have to consider transportation to/from school, lunch costs, and before/after school costs (which are much higher).

Then there is the social impact. Evie is a very social little girl and always has been. At the new school she would be going into a classroom with only a few kids in her grade level. They do join the other regular classes for recess and specials (music, art, p.e., etc.) during the day, but the majority of time is spent in a very small group.

The educational experience though, is so far above and beyond what she can get in a regular classroom. It really would be amazing for her and allow her to really excel.

So we went to visit and check out the program. The first thing we found out when we got there was they she knows the other two kids that are in the program – one from her kindergarten class, and the other from preschool. (+1 in the social department!). The other kids in the 2nd/3rd grade class told us all about the kind of projects they have been working on and a little about how they do things in the classroom. We were also given a quick tour of the school by the girls. Then we got to see some examples of the coding project that they have been working on.

All in all, Evie was very impressed. We went in not knowing for sure if this was something either one of us wanted to do, and left feeling pretty certain that it was the right thing for her. She is very sad about leaving the school she’s at now, but is also now excited about going to a new school and experiencing all that it has to offer.

It will mean a lot of schedule wrangling and adjustments, especially since the kids will not even be in the same school districts. I hope that we find it is worth it though. And, if she doesn’t like it or we find it just isn’t a good fit for her, she can always go back to her home school.

I’m still a little blown away by the whole thing, but it really is happening!

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Mother’s Day

I miss writing. These days I’m moving so fast there is rarely time to complete a single thought before I’m moving on to the next thing. Today was the first day since at least early March where I actually had nothing pressing on my to-do list and nowhere to be between church and an evening dinner. It also happened to be Mother’s Day.

My day started out with kids waking up at 6:00 a.m. Shortly after the first one was up, Caleb came sneaking into my bedroom and climbed up into bed where he snuggled up, melting completely into me. At four years old, he still feels like so much a part of me, like he did in the days just after he was born. We snuggled and slept together for a couple more hours until I woke to see the sunlight shining through the window perfectly outlining his profile. I couldn’t help but stare. He is simply beautiful.

Before long, it was time to get up. As we got ready for church, I spent some time braiding my daughter’s hair. We don’t spend a lot of time together these days, but I do love doing simple things, like braiding her hair into a crown that makes her feel like a princess. Someday, I hope that she will remember those moments, and not the mother who is always so busy.

Evie said her stomach was hurting and ended up going to church with us instead of the children’s program she normally attends during that time. She spent all of church snuggled up in my arms. Maybe she really didn’t feel well. Maybe she just needed some time with mom. Miraculously though, she felt just fine after church. I didn’t mind either way.

I got lots of hugs from Zach today. He is growing up so much, and even though he doesn’t say it, he shows that he still needs mom from time to time. And, he can tell when I need a little extra love too. Every time he walked past me today he stopped and said “I need a hug!” and wouldn’t let me off the hook until I gave him one.

To top off my morning full of snuggles, I even fit in a nice rainy afternoon nap. Gotta take a little time for myself on Mother’s Day, right? I can’t even remember the last time I got to do that. No kids, no interruptions (besides the loud claps of thunder and the occasional screaming kid), just me, my bed, and the sound of the rain falling down. It was rather glorious.

We ended the evening with a family dinner at my mom’s house with my brother, sister, their families. All in all, it was a pretty great day.

My favorite thing about today though, was spending just a few extra minutes with each one of my kids.  I love how they each found their own way to get that little bit of extra time with me. It is so easy to get caught up in the busyness of life and miss out on those little opportunities. My kids are amazing, each in their own unique way. They are changing and growing up so fast. I’m so glad that I finally had a chance to slow down a little today and appreciate them for exactly who they are right now.



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