My son isn’t the victim, he’s the hero

10 Oct 440e64fa36f3064d17c6cb6ac5ba57fb

For several months, my family has been dealing with some precious snowflakes who seem to have made it their life’s work to make my children’s lives miserable. They haven’t been as successful as they (and admittedly I) have thought. After some concerning situations, I had a long and eye-opening talk with Max, and I was pleasantly surprised at the depth of not only his heart, but his wisdom.

When it started Max was blissfully unaware of what was going on between him and these precious snowflakes. I, however, was all too aware of what was going on. With Max’s ADHD, he is behind a bit on his social skills, and therefore didn’t notice the bullying behaviors his “friends” were engaged in towards him. A catchphrase of, “Fine, I’m not going to be your friend anymore!!” Was a daily, constant echo, when these precious snowflakes were outside. “Get me your guns to play with”, another echo. “These toys suck” and “You can’t play with us”, were also in the mix, not to mention being ignored, isolated, shunned and harassed. Now, any of these, in any combination, would be a common, experience for every kid growing up, however, when they ALL happen, EVERYDAY, and are said by the same precious snowflakes, it becomes more than just an ordinary experience.

At first, since it wasn’t bothering Max, it was ignored. As we had other things we were working on as a family and things we were helping Max to improve as well. We didn’t want to fail at the techniques that his Behavioral Therapist, Dr. L, had given us, so since it didn’t seem to be a huge concern at the moment, we left it be. However, after nearly 2 months, of this junk behavior towards Max, I felt complicit in him being bullied, because I knew what was going on. I heard it, I saw it, and I was doing nothing. I was being a bystander. So, we started talking to Max about what good friends do, vs what bad friends do. How to stick up for himself, by telling his friends when they are hurting his feelings or being disrespectful. I was even telling the precious little snowflakes MYSELF that they were being mean and rude. (Although in the end that didn’t work) And I was happy that I was giving him the tools to making Real Friends.

Unfortunately, some precious snowflakes didn’t feel like treating Max with respect and instead of becoming more kind to him, the opposite happened. These precious snowflakes actually seemed MAD that Max was now sticking up for himself. So, things got worse. The new catchphrase became, “If you play with Max, I won’t be your friend anymore!!” and the precious snowflakes would follow Max around, no matter where he went or what he was doing, the precious snowflakes would just “happen” to be close enough to not directly tease Max, but to talk loud enough to other kids and say things like, “Yeah that is Max and he is a loser” (sometimes more colorful words were used). Our area, is big enough where precious snowflakes could play, far away from Max, where he wouldn’t have to hear or see them, but by some crazy circumstance (lack of manners and proper parental involvement) precious snowflakes would always be visible and made sure to be heard.

And so it has gone on, some days, nothing happens. Max is able to go outside and enjoy being a kid. While other days, he is followed around, threats are bandied about like they are just harmless words that mean nothing and are treated by some as “boys being boys”, and he has to come inside, like HE is the one in the wrong. And basically nothing can be done to stop it, since no physical attacks have actually happened. Hopefully since the precious snowflakes know that I am watching, and that they have my undivided attention. (I’m a stay at home mom with 24 HOURS on my hands. Dishes can wait until after bed time, so that I can make my constant, undying presence known to the precious snowflakes because I know they will give me a chance to catch them, they cannot help it.) I’m hoping it will all fade away and they will find something more productive to do. Take up a nice hobby. Join a sports team. Do.Something.Else.

The conversation I was able to have with Max was eye opening. I wanted to make sure that he didn’t believe the things the precious snowflakes were saying about him and that there wasn’t anything wrong with what he was doing. That he was doing his very best in trying to treat these precious snowflakes as he would like to be treated. I told him that he has good friends, who think he is pretty awesome and that love to share what he finds interesting, and that he has many family members who feel the same way. And as he sat there, thinking about all I had said, he simply says, “I’m not sad for me, I’m sad for ‘the precious snowflakes’. They must be really sad and all they need is somebody to help them not be sad any more.” I sat there, stunned. The #1 rule in our house is, “Treat others the way you want to be treated.” I tell him, that if he isn’t sure which choice is the best choice, that using that rule, will help him make the best choice. We’ve talked over and over about why bullies do mean things, and that is has nothing to do with Max, but that there is something going on with the bullies and that they need some extra niceness in their lives. I was stunned because as a child with ADHD, empathy and emotions and thinking of others is thought of as something (although not enough research has been done to prove this theory) that won’t come naturally to him. But, since we’ve made it a very central part of our parenting, something that gets said often, something Bill and I try and model ourselves (admittedly we do fail sometimes, but when we do, we don’t shy away from admitting to our kids that what we did was wrong, and explaining how better we could have handled the situation), we have unknowingly given Max (and of course Rory) a head start with dealing with empathy and emotions. In that moment, I no longer saw him as a victim, because he isn’t. And even though I’m still going to worry about him, right now, these precious little snowflakes, have not damaged him, have not changed him, have not wrecked him. My just shy of being 7 year old, is a wise, wise boy. I don’t think there is an end to his wisdom nor his heart. I can’t wait for all of the things I’m going to learn from him, and all of the love that is going to be brought into my life because of this little guy.

As Biggie and Puffy said back in the day:

“Can’t nobody take my pride, can’t nobody hold me down oh no
I got to keep on movin’”

T’was the night before school

14 Aug

Tonight, is the night before school. Max will be starting 1st grade tomorrow. He is excited. His new teacher Mrs.L, is in the room next door to his kindergarten teacher. He has some friends from his preschool and kindergarten class, so that should be good. We are trying to start this year off on the right track. I made him a 3 part schedule.
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It is hard to see, I know, but it is broken down into before school, immediately after school, and before bed. It will tie into his behavior chart and he is responsible for checking off each part of his schedule upon completion. For each section he completes, he will get a star. I figured since he will be missing 7 hours a day for 5 days per week (most weeks) it will be harder on him to acquire the stars he needs to in order to get his rewards. I thought I could adjust the number of stars, but then I would have to adjust Rory’s, and I feel for each kid they are at just the right amount of stars, to where they really have to work for it. It isn’t too easy but yet it isn’t too hard. In fact just 2 weeks ago, Max got 17 stars and Rory got 14! Which was 2 more for each than the highest award ( Special Trip with mommy and daddy)  So, by tying his schedule in with his behavior chart, it is enforcing 2 ideas together! We have yet to set up an appointment with the school for his 504 plan. Which we hope to get started soon. We will need a letter from his doc about his ADHD anyway, and since we have that appointment with her on the 18th about starting meds I figured we’d wait and see how school started before we try figuring out all of that stuff. I know the school is awesome and is going to work with us in getting Max the best possible chance to succeed in spite of the ADHD.  Max has his reading placement test last week, and did amazing. Scored a level 8, top being a 10, and the average being a 5. So, needless to say I’m pretty jazzed about that. Bill and I were actually worried because at home while reading he has been guessing at words and making mistakes he has never done before, but luckily he didn’t have any of those problems while doing the test.

Rory and I will be doing year 2 of our preschool together. Bill and I wanted to send her to preschool, but honestly we just can’t afford it. Which makes me feel guilty, since Max had the chance to go to preschool, but what can we do? I’m not worried, but I just feel like she might be missing out on some things that Max got to experience. But I guess as long as she is kindergarten ready, that is all that matters. In fact, I had some kindergarten readiness papers left over from when Max was getting ready for kindergarten round-up, and I went over the questions with her, and shoot, she is a handful of items away from being kindergarten ready now! And that really takes the pressure off of me. I didn’t go to school for early childhood education. I went for secondary music education. Not really the same thing, but I guess my play first, follow my kids’ lead approach has really helped both of my kids be ready without too much fuss. I do have a schedule planned out for Rory and I. I do want to reinforce things she already knows, and work on things she hasn’t got to yet, but I will always follow her lead and some days we might throw our schedule out the window and just have a tea party and just spend the day playing!

I am trying to get “into shape”. Last year during wrestling season was an eye opener for me. Just sparring with Max left me winded. Helping him warm up, helping him with new moves left me winded or pulled something in my back. I don’t want to be the mom that has to tell her kids she can’t play football or kickball or tag with them because she’s “too tired’ (aka out of shape and can’t run). I hate giving excuses for why I have to stop the nerf wars before they are done because I can’t do it any more without wanting to throw up. I want my kids to remember me playing with them, going on hikes, just being healthy. I don’t want them drinking 3 pops a day as they get older because they have seen me do so for years. I don’t want them to keep eating past the point of being full because they have seen me do so for years. I want to be around to see them grow and have families of their own and heck, maybe even see my grandkids have families of their own. I’m not ashamed of my body. I used to think I was. But my body has done some amazing things. I’ve played soccer, rugby, and wrestled. My body has even grown, given birth to and nourished 2 kids.  I like my new butt (my pre-pregnancy butt was pretty flat), My hips are a bit wider than they used to be which gives me some curves. I’m not too impressed with my breasts, but those are here to stay unless I get surgery. I don’t care about my stretch marks, cellulite or even having a little “pouch”, I just want to be able to walk without my knee hurting, to chase my kids around a shoot them with nerf guns and spar with Max at wrestling practice. So I’ve started the 30 Day Shred by Jillian Michaels. I’m nearing the end of my first week and I’m doing everything with weights with only 1-3 breaks to catch my breath. I’m not trying to get to a certain weight. If I get to 130 (currently am around 140) and I feel better, I’ll be happy. I’ve been cutting calories and watching my portion size. I’ve stumbled the past few days, but I’m not going to let that stop me. I’m excited to being healthy again. Something that I haven’t been able to say for 7 years.

And lastly, we are house hunting. We’re getting our debt taken care of bit by bit, and we are getting out into the market and seeing what is where and what we can get for our money. We would LOVE to stay in the area we are currently in, as the school district is literally the best in the area, the town is small and is up and coming and we just love it. Catch is, it is EXPENSIVE. But it will be worth it. But we’re also checking out other neighborhoods and schools. If we find a house we love and can afford, we might even have the option of open enrolling. The thing about this “new” “development” is that, if you would have asked Bill and I 6-7 years ago if we would ever be able to buy a house, we would have laughed at you. We had given up on that dream. But we’ve been working pretty hard in taken care of our debt and that work is starting to pay off. We are going to take it slow, as we do still have some credit work to do before we can even start the process. But for now, we are looking and seeing what is out there and seeing what we like and want and what we don’t want. and that is still just as fun!

So many things going on right now, and it is great! Hope to write again soon!

AK

Summer 2014

8 Jul

This summer has flown by pretty fast. We’re down to about 5 weeks before school starts for Sir Max! I know I’m not doing a very good job at keeping up with this blog, and let me explain why. I started this blog because some close and distant family members were being complete douche bags about my parenting choices. Going onto MY facebook page and ranting about my posts. I post too many pics of my kids, I’m a “lazy, waste of space” for being a stay-at-home-mom, or the fact that just because I was post pro-breastfeeding pages on my profile, and the fact I was/am proud to have breastfed my daughter for 3 years, meant that somehow, I was insulting those who couldn’t breastfeed or just chose not to. I started this blog, as a way to defend my choices, which after sometime, seemed ridiculous. I then wanted to mark my journey with the fun things I do with the kids. The active role I gladly take in their learning, but I honestly don’t have that much time to dedicate to keeping up with a blog. I suppose I could find the time, but I just haven’t done so. When I do sit down to blog, all I can come up with are trivial posts on our simple, day-to-day stuff that probably wouldn’t even keep my own mother very interested. Plus, it seems a bit pretentious. Like, who would actually care to read that I did 3 loads of laundry, vacuumed, and cooked tacos for dinner today? I’m sure nobody. I do want to use my blog as a way to keep distant (near and far) family and friends up-to-date with the more important life events in our lives, but currently, there isn’t much to tell. We are still working on changing our rut of how we work with Max. These aren’t BIG changes by any means, but they do take some time in order to work.
We haven’t found a preschool for Rory yet and quite honestly, we might not. We just haven’t had the money to put down a deposit to hold her spot, and so we haven’t really been able to call around and look at places. And with school starting so soon, I’m sure even the waiting lists are getting full. Luckily, I still have papers and resources left from when Max was in Head Start, and I found a “kindergarten readiness” Checklist and I went through some of the bullet points that they look for when deciding if your child is “kindergarten ready” and we were able to check off most of them for Rory. So I do have a guide of some kind to go by and I’m sure I can find some help from a few of my Early Childhood Education friends, and she should be “kindergarten ready” even without preschool. And she plays with kids from many ages, 3-8 around here at our Apartment Complex, so I’m sure her social skills are pretty spot on where she needs to be as well. I was looking forward to the free 3-4 hours to get stuff done while she was at preschool, but oh well. It would have spoiled me for when I finally get back into the work force full time here in a year.
So this is my update. Which really isn’t much of an update. Because there really isn’t much to update. Ha, our lives are blissfully simple…and I should probably knock on wood so that they stay that way!
-AK

Getting to know my son.

15 May

Max is an amazing kid. Very bright, and unbelievably kind. But with this ADHD, it feels as if I haven’t really gotten to know my son; how he feels and learns. I know he loves the color black, Angry Birds, AC/DC, wrestling, and of course fart jokes. But, sometimes I feel as if I’m speaking a different language than him. And not the same way a parents feels as their child enters puberty, but in a very fundamental way. He literally thinks and feels differently than I do. And I don’t mean in opinions. I mean his brain processes things differently. And there isn’t anything that needs to be “fixed” about that. And I swear if one more person insinuates that he needs to be hit in order to be “taught” a lesson, I WILL flip out on them. Which is honestly why I am so excited about our behavioral therapy sessions. I say our, because Bill and I will also be going and talking and learning about ADHD too, not just Max. We are going to be learning how his brain works, how his processes thoughts, how his actions have no filter, how his temporal lobe is even more compromised and impulse control is basically nonexistent. We will be learning how to teach Max how to slow down, how to filter, how to learn about consequences ourselves. After a few years of floundering in doubt and fear that I am not getting through to him, I’m finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel. He’s not to blame, nor I am. It just is. He just is. We just are. And while it won’t be easy, we are already seeing some pretty good improvements and we haven’t even had our first “real” session yet. 

We met with his B.T. (Behavioral Therapist) a few weeks ago, and it was basically a “get-to-know-you” session. She talked to Bill and I, and talked to Max, and even talked to Rory a bit. She watched him interact with Rory, Bill and myself. And at the end of it all, confirmed what Max’s Primary Doctor already told us, he has ADHD. She explained how she will give us the understanding and the basic tools for Max and ourselves so that we can figure out the best approach of any given situation that might arise in our daily lives, so that we don’t need to constantly come back to have her solve our problems. We have started a Behavior Chart for both kids (Rory felt left out) and each have a few “goals” to work on, such as picking up toys, not back talking or interrupting people when they are talking. Each time they do these things without Bill or me telling them, they get a sticker. After a certain number of stickers, they get to pick a prize out of the prize box. We have a few small toys in there and of course gum and candy. So far both of them have gotten their number of stickers, 6 for Rory and 10 for Max, and are working on round 2. 

We plan to spend as much time outdoors as possible this summer as research has said that eliminating screen time and adding more time outdoors helps children with ADHD, and well, I’m sure every child could stand that kind of childhood. We have a State Park not 5 miles from our house and 2 Nature Centers, one with hiking trails and the other has biking trails. We live across the street from a lake, so we’ll be getting fishing licenses this year and will be going fishing often. The Riverfront has a marvelous walk/bike path along with several Riverfront parks. Add in the Art Museum, Music, Museum, Train Museum, Air Museum, and our City Library is having a science themed, weekly event. Further away are a Butterfly House/ Aquarium and other things to discover! Plus we are going to try and head back to Minnesota for the Vikings training camp and visit the Mall of America and the Water Park of America and we have friends and family a few hours away that we really need to visit and maybe go to a theme park! And they have their sports stuff going on throughout the summer. 

I’m hoping that through the Behavioral Therapy, our adventures outdoors and just spending quality time together this summer will help us understand Max a bit more and for him to feel more in control of himself. I have a wonderful feeling this is going to be a great summer! 

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Catch up!

23 Apr

When we last left off I was freaking out about Rory and preschool, but excited about our upcoming family vacation! Now, it is time to catch yall up!

Our FIRST family vacation went AMAZING! It was perfect. We loved Nick Studios, Water Park of America AND the Mall of America!! Plus, all 4 of us got to go to the Vikings preseason game! Max and Bill had 1st row, 1st level seats of course but Rory and I scored some nosebleeds and she absolutely loved it! It was easy to “plan” and doesn’t break the bank, so we can hopefully make it an annual event!

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After we got home, school started. Max started Kindergarten, and Rory and I started our “preschool”. Max has been kicking butt all year in school, he loves it. He is reading and doing great in math. He is ready to move onto 1st grade!!

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Rory and I started off hardcore on our preschool stuff, I bought a ton of supplies (food coloring, shaving cream, borax, glue, paints, paper, workbooks…you name it I bought it) and started getting to work. I had a lesson plan and everything. Pinterest helped me with crafts, recipes and projects.  We were doing amazing, but towards the end of November, Rory was done. She wasn’t interested and didn’t want to do it anymore. So rather than force her, we stopped. Of course we have still been doing “field trips” and project and crafts and activities, but they aren’t planned out with an objective of specifically learning something in mind. She has been asking to do more school stuff lately and we have been. Letter finds, tracing letters, numbers, her name. Nothing too out there. She recently started writing her name! She still misses letters when reciting the alphabet and skips numbers when counting to 30, but meh. She’s still 3. She is doing 200, yes that is right 200 piece puzzles now. The last time I posted she was only doing 20 pieces. Bill, Max and I do help, but not because she needs it, but because it is something we all enjoy doing. It takes her mere weeks to master a puzzle, to where she can put it together alone in less than 30-45 min.  She’s currently eyeballing this 500 piece kitty puzzle from Barnes & Noble, she’ll probably get it for her birthday. The Head Start program has openings for this upcoming year and we have yet again applied, but for this school year we made too much and Bill’s done gone and gotten at least another raise since then, so we aren’t holding our breath. However, I have been talking to Rory about going to preschool and explaining to her that it won’t be a big day like last year, but a little day, and she seems good with that and she’s starting to talk positively about going to preschool once again. In the months since pulling her and Max out of daycare, whenever we would mention it or drive near daycare, she would get upset, and say she hates “miss candy’s school”. But I’m hoping us talking about going for short days and how no big kids will be there, has kind of helped her to get excited about it again. Bill and I would like to have her in preschool at least 2 days a week for 4 hours a day this upcoming school year. We can probably afford to do even 3 days if she likes it. But I’m totally done freaking out about her “development”. She is doing some sports again through the local “Y”. Next Tuesday is her last day until June (I think) when I singed her up for another class. She also says she wants to do wrestling with Max (See Max’s paragraphs below). And I wrestled in high school. Nothing amazing. Just 1 season, sucked bad, was too old (16) to start learning when kids usually start at 4-6. But she says she really wants to, and she has a pretty good double leg blast going on right now. The wrestling coach is pretty excited about it and says he’s cool with it. He’s currently looking for some wrestling shoes small enough to fit her. haha.  She is doing amazing, she is just doing it differently than Max.

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Max started wrestling this past fall. And he is a natural at it. His season wrapped up last month and his stats were pretty awesome for a first year wrestler. 37 wins, 13 losses, 29 pins, 2 tech falls and 1 major decision. He placed 2nd in State District Qualifying, went to Regionals where he got a pin, and placed 4th. And although he didn’t qualify for State Championships, there is nothing but pride since he was a first year wrestler going up against 2nd and 3rd year wrestlers. Next year will probably be a tough year on him though. But he has the determination and passion even at 6 to push through it. He gets to practice with one of the leading wrestling clubs in the country, and he has the privilege of going to some pretty awesome camps with the likes of Jordan Burroughs and David Taylor, and will be going to a Steiner brother clinic. Right now, he has been doing some freestyle stuff and has taken to that quite well, along with his wrestling partner. These 2 are going to push each other for years to come.

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Earlier this month, we had Max assessed for ADHD. This is something we’ve been keeping an eye on…his motor, his always on the go, energetic, bouncing off the walls- self. And in preschool, it didn’t interfere with anything, so we weren’t worried. Even at the beginning of this school year, he was always bringing home awards for good behavior, and we breathed a sigh of relief that he had grown out of it, matured. Then just before X-mas break, all hell broke loose. He was getting into “trouble” at school and things were getting difficult at home. The “trouble” wasn’t him being a jerk or hitting or anything “bad” or “naughty” it was just he could no longer sit still. He was getting up, walking around during work time, doing his work too fast and making silly mistakes his teacher knew he shouldn’t be making, needing to sit out in the hall to complete work…stuff Bill and I had been primed to keep an eye out for. So I talked to Max’s teacher and we came up with a plan, and while we waiting for Max’s assessment by his doctor, his teacher changed up a few things for him in class. The most helpful of which was sending him to the “Behavioral Interventionist” for some yoga-type work outs for about 10-15 min a day. Then when we got into his doctor, she told us that yes, Max has classic ADHD and that his “kind” would best be helped with medication. However, she knows Bill and I , and knew we would want to do non-medication options first and recommended a Behavioral Therapist. In the meantime, the Behavioral Interventionist has come up with a special chart for Max at school, and we’ve got one here and in the nearly 3 weeks since, he has be awarded another award for “caring”, which he will be getting next week. He has received only 1 “bad” day, and things at home have gotten much less difficult.

Currently, I am trying to figure out what I am going to do when Rory goes to Kindergarten. I want to be home when the kids get home from school, so that makes finding a job pretty difficult, especially with my long absences in my resume and erratic work history. I can’t do call center work ever again. No matter how well they pay. So I’m thinking that this is a sign that I go back to school, part time of course. I don’t want to overburden myself with my school work that I neglect my children and their needs. They are used to having me around and us doing some pretty awesome stuff from time to time that if I’m in classes or doing homework all of the time, I just won’t be the same mom that they are used to. The only problem I have is deciding what my major will be. I was going for secondary music education. However, that just doesn’t seem practical any more. With the economy as it is, many school districts have cut or are in danger of needing to cut fine arts. But a major like science, that will always be needed. But while I ponder that question I could get some of my pre-requisites out of the way. It might take me a few years to finish up my bachelor degree, but my main focus is my kids. I get pretty nerdily excited when thinking about taking college courses again. There are plenty of colleges around for me to choose from too, so I should be good to go! The only problem is if I choose music… I’m so out of it, I would need refreshers on Theory, pedagogy, and of course I really haven’t touched my trumpet in nearly 7 years, so I’m way towards the SUCK end of the scale on that front. Heh. Good thing I have a year to think about it!

I’m not good at this blogging thing. I read a number of amazing blogs written by moms and dads and I think, “Man, they sure do make it look easy”. I’ll keep trying though!

-AK

Exciting Summer!

8 Jul

So this summer has been full of surprises! As many of you know, I got a job working at a call center doing tech support on electronics (mostly TV’s). Bill works there as well, although he is in the computer department doing tech support on computers and testing products. Anyway, I got the job so that Rory, our now 3 year old daughter could go to school, like she has been BEGGING for, for MONTHS now. We found a preschool/daycare we really liked but unfortunately, the kids just haven’t adjusted to it still after nearly 2 months, so it was with regret that I put in my 2 weeks notice, nearly 2 weeks ago. Actually this Tues and Wed are my last 2 days at work. My managers are disappointed since I was really starting to get the hang of everything and doing a pretty darn good job, but you gotta do what ya gotta do. It was starting to get way too stressful taking the kids to daycare every morning. Fighting and crying and bribing… not good times. About 2 weeks ago it when it came to a head. On our way out the door, Max broke down into tears, saying how he doesn’t like school and doesn’t want to go any more. And it was at this time that my mom intuition really kicked on and was telling me that something wasn’t right. Max LOVES school, and when he doesn’t want to go that is a sign that something just isn’t right. I know…I know there are people that will read this and think, “he is just manipulating you into not going…” yadda yadda yadda. And well, that is wrong. I know my son, he’s loved school since the first day he has started and last summer when school was out, was furious it was over for the summer. While talking to him about it, he was finally able to just come out and say that he didn’t like it because he missed spending time with me and his daddy. Which broke my heart. And I get it. We never get to eat dinner as a family any more. I get off at 9pm which is bed time, and once I get home it is a few minutes of playing catch up on their day and then I rush them off to bed so that I can spend some time with Bill before he has to go to bed since he has to get up at 6:30 to go to work in the morning. Bill’s days off are Friday and Saturday while mine are Sunday and Monday, meaning we don’t get any time as a family at all. And while a shift bid is only a few months away now, the way things currently are is the best we can hope to do to ensure that the kids are in daycare the fewest hours per day and the fewest days per week. So, after hearing my son say that he misses being with us, and that Rory wanted to go to Miss Love’s school (which is Head Start, the school Max was going to) we just thought, what is the point of me working? We aren’t making any money because daycare is so expensive, Rory doesn’t like it, and she was the reason why I started working? What is the point in paying for her to go to school when it is just making her miserable? And that is where we are. Back to square one. Bill also had to go and get himself like a 5% raise during all of this, which means we probably now officially make too much for Head Start altogether. Although I still have to email Ms. Bye and see, so now I’m spinning my wheels trying to figure out how to make this work.

I’m lucky though, I have several friends who have taking early childhood education classes and who are early childhood teachers (pre-k-1st grade) so I’m hoping I’m going to be able to pick their brains a bit for some advise and whatnot in trying to set up something at home for Rory. While I’ve been doing research on how to do that I’m stumbled upon a person conflict. I’m not sure how to approach it. With Max, we just let him be. We let him play, and do and learn through play. We read to him, played with him, drew, colored… everything with him and he just seemed to learn through osmosis everything. He was writing his name and the alphabet by 3, reading by 4.5 and now doing rudimentary math concepts of addition and subtraction. All seemingly on his own. Rory, on the other hand is taking a different path. I wouldn’t say she is “behind” as she is way more vocal and better able to communicate than Max was at his age, but she isn’t writing letters yet, she has just learned the alphabet, still working on shapes and colors, something Max had down by 2… and I know that kids learn differently and at different paces, which is my point. The way I was doing things with Max might not fit how Rory learns. So my concern is how to figure out the best way for her to learn, without forcing it down her throat?

Right now, I don’t think I’m going to start doing anything different just yet. I like the idea that kids can learn everything they need to just by being left to explore. After all Rory learned how to use the potty just by me leaving her alone and she’s been potty trained for 7 months now. She is a puzzle master and is already putting together 20 piece puzzles alone, and is starting to draw life-like people. I know I shouldn’t compare my kids since they are individuals and will learn things at different times and in different ways.

So what I am going to do is try and dig up as many out of the house activities we can go to. We don’t have very many places like the nearest major cities do in the way of events and places for kids, but I think we have enough to keep us occupied. It is pretty hard to uncover these events though…even with the internet and facebook, many times we don’t hear about fun stuff until AFTER they happen which really makes me mad.

But I’m thinking I’ll do something simple. Maybe a letter and a number a day, sort of like Sesame Street (maybe I’ll even see if I can dig up some of their episodes and plan around that), and a project a week or something like that. She is only 3, so I really don’t think it should take more than 1-2 hours total a day to do a few things.

I haven’t been on pinterest in awhile, but I do have many activities on there to use as well. Too many actually. I think the most important thing I need to keep in mind is that she’ll learn at her own pace and I just have to enjoy it, so she can.

There are 2 things I can’t wait to try this summer. Fishing and camping. Both of which I think my kids will love. We just have to fix our tents (broken fiberglass tent poles), get our fishing licenses, and figure out where and when to go!

And I’m excited about going to The Vikings Training Camp! In August we’re going to go watch them practice, get some autographs and have a blast. Maybe we’ll camp then!

Anyway, that is our exciting summer. I’m going to miss work, it was nice getting out of the house, but I’m happy I still have the option to do what is best for my kids and my family, and that is all thanks to my husband. I’m pretty lucky to have a man like him. We make a pretty awesome team!

-AK

Forward

23 Apr

My last post was well, upsetting in a way. I look back and it seems as if I haven’t learned to trust my mothering, my instincts that have proven to be spot on thus far. Granted, I’m only a year removed from when I first started this blog, after 2 (distant) family members saw fit to attack me for my parenting choices…so I guess I still have a lot to learn and more thick skin to grow.

I don’t have much time to write my blog. With cleaning (trying) and playing with Rory, I don’t get much time to prepare what I want to say and then say it. So usually my blogs become a jumbled mess and sometimes I don’t fully say what I want to say. My last post was me, freaking out about how drastically things are going to change for our family in a few months, and honestly not knowing how to prepare for it. I love, love, love, how we haven’t had to force our kids to go to bed. How bedtime hasn’t really been a power struggle (until recently). The kids fall asleep when they are tired and wake up when they are not. It has been simple, easy and it has kind of felt like we’ve figured out the “secret” of parenting. However, when I realized that it wasn’t going to remain easy, simple for much longer, I freaked.

Right now, Max (Rory isn’t as consistent when she falls asleep yet) falls asleep at around 11. Sleeps about 11 hours, and wakes at 10. School starts at 11:30, he’s done at 3 and that is that. This fits in perfectly for his natural rhythm. However, when Kindergarten starts next year, it’ll be a different story. School starts at 8:10 or so. And so he’ll have to get up at like 7:00!! He’ll be at school for a full day, instead of a half day. So my thought was to prepare us for this drastic change. I wanted to slowly push back bed time and wake up earlier. I thought it was perfect. Fool proof. And at first it was working. (Or so I thought) The kids were in their room by 9. Quiet (relatively) and Bill and I got some alone time to chill, play some video games, watch our shows. It was awesome and we felt pretty awesome for getting it done. Until the kids made it known what we really going on. They weren’t really going to sleep at 9 or a little after. They were just playing quietly and reading and talking until they feel asleep, probably at their regular time. Finally after a few days, it got old, and the novelty wore off and they started leaving their room, asking for cup of water after cup of water, going to the bathroom 3-4 times before bed…. all of that junk. It was then I realized, it wasn’t going to be as easy as just pushing back their bedtime. So I started to research on the internet ideas and “techniques” to get the kids to sleep earlier. All of which were either some form of baby training (um NO) or manipulating them (Some alarm clock that tells them when they can get out of bed and when they can’t…not very smart to use for kids learning to night potty train, or in the event of fire… seems more of a safety risk than anything). So I was hoping to find some inspiration from other parents. Wondering how they got their kids to bed early, and realized, the only way to do it, was to follow my kids’ lead… as we have been doing. There is no way to force your kids to be tired… short of drugging them. So, my new plan is to brace for the first week of school, summon all of my patience, empathy, and positive thoughts and bear through it. We’ll eventually, hopefully adapt to a new rhythm. I wanted to avoid Max having a rough first week of school, I wanted to avoid the inevitable crankiness that will come with over tired kids, but well, it will be a good life lesson for both kids. A lesson in the importance of sleep, rest, and that sometimes life is rough and you just have to do your best to make it through. So I guess this will turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

Oh. And a new development. I have a job. That is right. While trying to figure out prepare for next school year, we found out that we make too much for Rory to have an automatic spot in Head Start (Free Preschool). She would be wait-listed and when a spot opened up, she would then be in the class. There was no telling how long the wait would be, she could get in right away or it could take a full school year… or 2! Since she is only 2, she isn’t in dire need of preschool, she just wants to go. And we had been telling her that when she is 3 (this summer) she will get to go. And now, we’re going to be liars. So we looked around and wanted to see how much it would cost, see if we could afford it ourselves. Well, we could… but only if I got a job. Our plan has been(since Rory was born) that I would be a stay-at-home-mom until Rory was in Kindergarten. 2 reasons, we feel it has been the best for our kids for me to be with them and because we just can’t afford quality daycare.  We have no family or friends in town that can watch the kids, so it just made financial sense for me to stay home. It has been hard and stressful, but it has been totally worth it. However, we’re flexible. Rory wants to go to preschool, so why not do what we can to make it happen. So we kept her on the waiting list, as we needed a backup option just in case I couldn’t find a job. I mean the economy is still trying to get turned around, and I haven’t been in the workforce for nearly 5 years. As luck would have it, the Call Center Bill works at was hiring and I applied. While we were waiting for a response, we started talking about our options. We decided that we would take Rory off the list, even if I didn’t find a job, because well Rory is smart. Just like her big bro. She doesn’t need preschool at 3. She just needs a bit more socialization. And once Max is in full time school, she and I can take more advantage of activities that go on around town that we can’t right now because they conflict with our schedule. Plus, I would feel…guilty taking a spot for Rory, when she doesn’t really need it. I would always worry that a more needy child was missing out because Rory was in that spot. Rory is lucky enough to have me stay at home and do awesome stuff with her. And if we make too much and we’re struggling like we are, I can’t imagine how other folks are getting it done who make less than we do. It just doesn’t seem right. So that was decided. I got an interview for the job and then landed the job. I start in mid-May. I’m nervous and excited and well we’re going to be starting our prep for school early. As both kids will go to preschool/daycare while Bill and I are at work. And it will ease us unto next school year. So my panic attack was all for naught.

We found an amazing preschool/daycare. The cost is half of what the first place we found was. HALF. Plus, Max’s Head Start teacher from last year, Ms. Rosemary is now a teacher at this preschool. As soon as we saw her, and how excited she and Max were to be seeing each other again (She is proud that he is already reading and doing math!), we knew this was the Preschool for us. Right now, every day Rory asks if it is time for her to go to school. I think we’re going to make a countdown. haha. Most families make countdowns for Disney Trips… while my kids want a countdown for school. I LOVE IT.

Max is reading. And writing and doing Math. Addition and Subtraction. Rory is currently a puzzle master. She has mastered the several Melissa and Doug 6-10 piece puzzles we have and is now working on more complicated real puzzles. She is also starting to show interest in letters. She has realized that letters have names and sounds and when you put them together you can read. So now she’s “reading” her own stories in her books. I’ve gotten a few activities to help her with learning the alphabet. She hasn’t really been interested until recently, so that is why she doesn’t know them yet. No reason to force her. She already has her shapes and colors down and is counting to 20+. By rote of course. But she is following along Max’s trajectory, so she should be reading and writing and doing math before she is in Kindergarten too.

We don’t do anything “special” with them. They are free range kids.  We don’t over schedule or organize activities for them. They are able to play, read, draw, run around and do basically whatever they want. I let them get bored and let them figure how to become un-bored. I let Max, 5, be outside for periods of time alone.  I pay attention to them and their interest and build on it. When Max was 2-3 he was into the alphabet. BIG TIME. We would spend literally HOURS drawing pictures for him and the words describing the pictures. Going over the letters their sounds… he LOVED it. And now look, he is 5 and reading and writing  We didn’t get tutors, fancy flash cards, DVD’s…nothing. It was all us, drawing and talking to him. They aren’t in every sport known to man either. Their weekends aren’t so full of sports and classes and activities that they don’t have time to just be. While that may be awesome for some families, that just isn’t us. We put Max in Rec. Center sports last year to get him around more kids his age since he was with me all day. They are 6 weeks long (6 games) and no special practices (practice is 10-15 min before the game starts). We have only played 2 sports, basketball and soccer. And so far Max has shown more skill and passion for soccer. This fall he’ll be old enough for parent/kid flag football. So we’ll do that. Then he’ll also be able to do wrestling. He has said he wants to do both, so we will see how it works out. Rory hasn’t been in anything yet as she isn’t old enough for Rec Center sports and I don’t feel she is old enough for dance classes or anything. This fall the “Y” is having a Itty Bitty sport class that does T-Ball, basketball and soccer. So it’ll be the perfect stepping stone to figuring out what she’ll like to continue to do next year.

I’m nervous and anxious about how things will go next month. It is going to be a major change for everybody. But we can do it. We just need to stick to our free ranged, relax way and it’ll all fall into place. I have found that when we just sit back and follow the kids’ lead, things tend to figure themselves out. And I think that is the way it should be. If only I could just stop worrying so much… but I guess that comes with being a mom.

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