Monday, September 15, 2008

On We Grow, Learning What We Can....

The school year has only just begun.  The kids are doing well, but not exactly happy.  I don't know how I feel.  I feel that some of the time, I need the freedom and am enjoying it.  Other times, I feel that I need to be with my kids and savor their time in my household.  They seem so grown-up and very close to leaving my "nest".  I know for a fact that one day I will be doing something else.  I know that I am in a "training" or "holding pattern" for now.  I am a minister to my children and "snatches" for other people such as my girls at church and the ESL students I teach on a volunteer basis. 

As far as my children, I feel that my time with them is significant for what they teach me sometimes more than for what I teach them.  But, I do hope that they are learning some skills that only maturity (NOT!!) or age can bring.  One thing that seems to be a recurring theme is "Never, never, never give up!!" Also, I hope they learn that life is not necessarily supposed to be fun. I hope they learn that a lot of times, the fun you have is while you are doing something that is fulfilling, often hard or even back-breaking "work".  That the times when you are happiest is when you are contributing to a bigger, greater good.  For me, that is the most important piece of sage advice that I can pass on.  I love them deeply, greatly and want they to be happy.  But their happiness will have to play "second fiddle" to developing them as people.  They MUST get this!!  They can and they WILL!!  And they must get that making others and God happy comes before pleasing their own flesh.  And when they please others and God, they ultimately please themselves.  That is TRUTH!!!  

So, for now, they stay in school, working hard, learning all they can about themselves and others.  They stay away from me 8-3 or so, and then the intense 3-8 time, I try my best to fit as much discipleship in as I can.  I try to encourage them get some chores done, along with the (at times) loads of homework they have.  I try to fit in family activities and a dinner together (not always).  And there does seem to be time for pure, unadulterated FUN!!  

Friday, September 12, 2008

Teacher Conferences

I had a conference with #3s teachers yesterday.  It is very hard to describe the emotion I felt leaving the meeting.  The tears wanted to pour out of my eyes, but I held them back relishing the euphoric feeling that was coursing through my body.  She is doing well!!  She is achieving beyond what I could have wished for.  She is amazing me and those who worked with her before.  And all of this is so "out-of-character" for her. 

To know how big this is for me, you have to know the background.  This is a child that seemed to have a moderate learning disability that was almost across the board.  The majority of her issues were in the areas of written expression, but she tested for learning disabilities also in math and reading.   Not only that, but there were some behavior issues that I didn't think she would overcome easily.  I thought we would always be afraid of how she was going to handle the next difficult thing that came her way.  Because of how she reacted to certain things in the past, we (teachers, husband and I) tried very hard not to rock the boat.  We tried to assess whether we could ask more of her.  We were careful that she not be asked to "carry" too much. But, she is amazing me beyond belief with what she has been able to handle this year:  rotating schedule, two lockers and combinations, seven teachers, keeping up with large amounts of homework, etc.  And, she is HAPPY!!  

I am blown away by God's faithfulness to me in caring for my child.  I don't know if it is anything short of a miracle!!!  Her reading, which at the end of last year was on a sixth-grade level, is now, in vocabulary and comprehension, post high school!!! Over the summer, she read voraciously and the best we could count, read about 20 books!!  The books that she found very difficult during the school year last year were her "bread and butter" reading material during the latter part of the summer and now!!  These are books she is "plowing" through quickly as we speak.  

So, we are moving her into advanced reading (this for a child who didn't read until 3rd grade), and out of academic support (her elective where she gets help with homework) into a regular elective track where she will get to try the classes that the other kids are trying.  Bottom line:  she will get to have fun!!  

She has also signed up for three clubs: scrapbooking, First Priority (a Christian club), and crochet/knitting.  This was the child who didn't want to do anything extra last year!!!  And despite the fact that she is "NOT!!!  sporty" (her words), she is enjoying P.E. and having fun with it.  To what do I attribute this success?  Her finding the right combination of teachers, support at school, and help at home.  And the hand of God in an awesome way to help her put all those pieces together in a way that cannot be explained by any other means.  

Thanks God, for overwhelming me with your kindness.  Words truly cannot express what I feel.  I feel very small and worrisome and yet, you care about those things.  You are loving me in a way that is beyond my expectations.  I am not saying that there won't be further trials with this child, but you will help us through until we see the light at the end.  Thanks God.  Thanks.

I called the conference a couple of weeks ago because she was not happy: complaining, frustrated, and sad.  I asked her to write down the things she didn't like about school in order of how bad they were. Here is her list: 
                             1. Science is all in groups 
                             2. Too much homework
                             3. Girls are mean
                             4. I have no friends in school except for a few.
                             5. Academic support is boring
                             6. U.S. Studies - too many quizzes
                             7. P.E. is hard because I'm not!!! sporty.
                             8. Language Arts is hard because of writing.
                             9. I hate Math!
Lots of these things have not changed, but she is handling them.  She is dealing with school and doing much better about everything.  Her "case manager" asked me to have her list 10 things she likes about school.  So, we were walking one day and I asked her about doing that.  She said that she didn't know if she could come up with 9, but she knew 7 right away.  Her seven were her teachers!!  She is willing to put up with the things she can't change because she is "feeling the love" from her teachers.  She is "clicking" with them and they with her.  Again, thanks be to God!!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Hippies, pregnant teachers and more

This is an older post that I felt was pretty good.  I didn't post it immediately....not sure why, but it seems good, looking back on it.  I think it still applies.  I hope you get something out of it.  It makes me step back from the day-to-day struggles and see my kids for what they are:  AWESOME!  Of course we have our moments, but I thank God for giving me the grace to look above or around or beyond the craziness of the hard days to the great things He is teaching us (but mostly me).  Ok, I will pipe down and let you read for yourself.  Here it is:

When my kids were "wee ones" I never thought I would be discussing the things that we are discussing here lately and getting as "in depth" as we are!!  We can no longer confine the conversation to the "pretty" or "sweet" side of life.  There are lots of things about hippies that I would rather my kids not dwell on, such as drug use and "free love", but I do want them to know the truth, so we discuss these aspects (with some picking up more than others, of course).  I also stressed that everyone that is called a hippie is not really a hippie.  The next topic we covered is how sometimes pregnant teachers are grumpy because they are hormonal.  That was a "mind-full" for the pre-pubescent or post-pubescent boys that I am raising, I am sure.....but it is true and I want them to know that those things are a part of life.  I told them that they might not remember this, but when I was pregnant, I wasn't very nice to be around sometimes.  I told them that sometimes at night, I would cry because I had taken how I felt out on my kids.  That also was a lot of info for their minds.  But, we can't live in the past when things are simple.  Things are not so simple anymore.  But, I wouldn't trade these days for those.  They are just different.  The kids are growing up.  Their school days contain things that I wish they didn't, but, the kids are growing up to be people who (at least most of the time) filter what they think and what happens to them by what my husband, I, and even God says about it.  And for that I am grateful.  They aren't relying on "snotty-nosed kids" to tell them what's-what.  That is huge!!  For anyone with teens and tweens, that is so big and so wonderful that I can't even express it. So as they labor away with their mountains of homework, I sit here trying to express my pride in what they are becoming.  And I pray for grace for the days ahead, which will no doubt be tougher than these are!!   

Monday, September 1, 2008

More "perfect accessory" pictures

One more "perfect" thing....

The perfect playmate for a recently "displaced" two-year-old baby of one family is the older, wiser "baby" of another larger family!!!  

The perfect accessory

My sister is here to visit (or more realistically to flee the wrath of Gustav), along with my nephew and three week-old niece.  I have decided that the perfect accessory to any human - adult or child- is a well-loved and cared-for baby!!!!  My beautiful niece, has been the object of my obsession with picture-taking, along with the person who is holding her at the time.  Here is the proof......