March 29, 2010

Oh...where to begin...

So the last couple of weeks have been...interesting, shall we say? We went to an outdoor birthday party last Sunday...and it stormed. Oh, that was fun. Kids banging away on a piƱata (one that strangely enough made a metallic clanging sound if they hit it right), while all around us thunder boomed, lightning flashed, and the rain blew sideways under the pavilion roof at us. Yay!

Wednesday was a half day at school, and it was another fun day. I had a doctor's appointment in the morning, only an hour and a half before the end of school. I was lucky enough to get there early, and they were able to get me in early. But then...the boys had appointments for eye exams that afternoon. And all that time I saved in the morning...was lost. And then some. Three hours for eye exams. The only plus to that was that their eyes haven't really changed. Which is good, but also makes it all the more frustrating that we were three for THREE hours!

But, the really exciting news is: J is done with speech therapy! They scheduled a meeting for last Thursday at the school, and when I went in, they told me he'd met all his goals, and was graduating from speech therapy. That absolutely made my week. I am so proud of him. He worked so hard and tried so much to overcome the impairment and he did it. He still can be hard to understand when he gets very excited or if he is very upset, but if you tell him to calm down and tell you again, he will. He also will stop and think while he's talking to make sure he uses the right word and says it clearly. It's a technique they taught him to cope with the speech impairment, but he's really taken it to heart and it makes a huge difference to how he speaks.

They are having the World's Fair at school next month. This is something they do every year. Each classroom does a different country, and they do all kinds of little projects to display, and they learn tons of little facts about the country their class is working on, and on the night of the fair, they always learn a fact or two about all the other countries, in order to get a stamp on their "passport". It's a wonderful learning experience, both for the kids and the parents. J's class is doing the United States. His teacher always tries to get a picture postcard from each state. They almost had all of them last year. This year...well, she's going to have quite a few. With D being a truck driver, I've enlisted him to help with this little project. I figure he's the ideal person to help us get a lot of postcards. J's teacher is quite excited at the prospect. I figure J will be excited when he begins receiving the postcards.

Some of my friends at the school and I have been contemplating how to get rid of the principal. The school has gone downhill in a serious way since he took over this year. He's alienating the parents, and doing nothing for the kids. There is a substitute teacher that is terrorizing the kids, the daughter of one of my friends in particular, and the principal is doing nothing to stop it. D has offered to create a website on which we could start a petition to try to get rid of the principal. If things continue, though, I think it may come down to a bunch of parents getting together and just going directly to the school board to demand he be fired.

Well, there's other stuff going on, but I'm tired and my brain just isn't functioning right now. Oh, wait, there is this:

We were at the eye doctor, waiting for them to be called back for their exams. C had found this plant and plucked a piece off of it. While he played with it, it broke apart into several smaller pieces. C held some in the palm of his hand, came over to me, hand outstretched, and said, "Here, Mom, have some weed."

I couldn't even speak, could barely breathe, I was laughing so hard. Then, once I was under control, all I could think was that I hoped no one had heard, because how could I explain that he had no idea what he was saying, and how would I convince someone that he hadn't heard that at home? Thankfully, no one heard. But I will never forget the day my son unwittingly tried to make his first offering a sample.

March 11, 2010

I wonder if I can do it...

Well, C & J's friend is back at school this week, after his surgery. I was very happy to see him, and his mom. Her and I have had a couple of wonderful conversations this week. One of which, in combination with other things, have led D & I to thinking about making some very major changes with the boys.

As I believe I've mentioned before, Caroline and I have real issues with the principal at the school. We are not the only ones. It seems there are a lot of parents that don't like him, and even a couple of teachers don't like him. Since he took control, the school has changed drastically, and not for the better. When D & I first began discussing the idea of moving in together, I was adamant that I wanted us to live in this school zone, so that the boys could continue attending this school. Now, I'm not so sure.

The people in the offices have gone from being friendly, happy, kind and always helpful to cold, distant, and acting as though you are interfering with their day by coming into the school. As a parent, I do occasionally have cause to go to the school: a meeting regarding J's speech therapy (more on this later!), the book fair, a question for the teacher regarding homework, a conference to assess how the kids are doing. All valid reasons, in any reasonable person's opinion. But if you come in to this school, they would look at you like you came in and asked what color the sky is.

The kids can't talk in class. Understandable. They are there to learn, to do classwork, and they can't do that if they are chatting away. But now, the dean of discipline has decided they can no longer talk during lunch. Now, parents who homeschool are always told they should send their kids to school so they can socialize. Well...if they can't talk during class, and they can't talk during lunch, when exactly are they going to socialize? On the 5 minute walk to the car?

Caroline and I joked about starting a petition to get the principal removed. It started as a joke anyway. We agreed that with our luck, he'd find out we did it and our kids would be treated even worse. But, when I mentioned it to D, he actually had some really good suggestions for how we can do it and not have the fallout be on our kids. Caroline and I are still discussing and trying to determine if we really want to do this.

Regardless of what we do with that, though, D & I are seriously considering homeschooling the boys starting next year. With as bad as this school has gotten, and being uncertain that any other school would really be any better, homeschooling is sounding more and more like a good option. We can teach the boys on their own schedule, moving them forward or sticking on a topic as needed for them, instead of as needed for the slowest kid in the class, which may or may not be C & J.

Another thought behind this is that I think a large part of C's problem is that he is bored. He is very smart, and I think he just gets bored and doesn't put forth the same effort that he would if he wasn't bored. It's something I used to do. My dad did it as well. So did D. Homeschooling would eliminate this boredom, again because we'd be teaching them at their own individual level.

They would, quite possibly, spend less time in "school" than they do now. All the research I've done so far indicates that most homeschooled kids spend 3-5 hours a day on school related things, as compared to the more than 6 hours that the boys are currently doing, and then still come home and do homework. We would be able to do fun activities that would count as school activities, such as going to the zoo, or a museum, things like that. And we could go on days when everyone else is in school, therefore finding it less busy and more fun for us.

The only real drawback we've found so far is that all indications are that I can't homeschool and work fulltime. D apparently had already realized this, but I had not. I expressed concern that we might not be able to make it on just his income indefinitely, but he says that although it would be tight, we could make it work. I trust him, and I trust his judgment, so I'm going to hope he's right.

So, now, my last hesitation is wondering if I can really do this. Not just if I can teach them the things they need to learn (which I am fairly certain I can; and what I can't cover, D can), but if I can handle basically never having a break from them. Not that I don't love them and love spending time with them. But when they are in school, I get the house clean, laundry done, and some me time. Some time during which I can watch a little TV, read a book, do a word search, play around online, and just relax a bit. That will disappear if I am homeschooling. Granted, they are old enough to help with household chores, and in all honesty, they are probably old enough to do their own laundry (or C is, at any rate). Being a stay at home mom was always my dream, and when I stayed home when C was younger, I loved it. But C was younger. He was cool to just sit on the floor or in his playpen and play with toys while I cleaned up a bit. He took naps, so I had that time to read or watch TV. No more naps, and with two of them, there's always a fight over toys and such.

Fortunately, we still have several months to do more research and discuss it before we make a final decision. I want to make sure we do the right thing. I want the boys to have the best possible education, whether that is from a public school, private school or homeschool. And I don't think that going back and forth between homeschooling and regular school is really going to provide them with the best possible education. We have to decide on one and stick with it for the long haul.

The good news, though, is that yesterday I got a Meeting Participation Form from the school. This is what I usually get at the beginning of the year when we meet to evaluate where J is and what we expect to accomplish this year with his speech therapy. The reason given on this one is change in placement. I'm very hopeful that this means they will tell me he's met all his goals and no longer needs speech therapy. He has made amazing strides over the last year and a half. He still gets overly excited and becomes hard to understand. Or if he cries, you can't really understand him. But in an average conversation, he speaks clearly now.

Things are looking up, all the way around.

March 7, 2010

Singing in the, shower

So, C has developed a new...talent? hobby? interest? Something like that, anyway.

When he's in the shower, he likes to sing. I don't mean Madonna "Papa Don't Preach" type singing. I mean, making up his own songs singing. It's quite entertaining for those of us on the outside. Today's concert started out with a quiet version of "help me, help me, help me", peaked with "I'm a crocodile" and had an encore of gibberish. The last part I went and stood outside the bathroom, on the phone with D, and even D was cracking up. I was laughing so hard I couldn't even tell C he needed to get done and get out of the shower. I told D that next time, I'm going to get out the video camera and tape it. I can see it now...

C: Mom, I want to bring my girlfriend home to meet you and D. You, don't have any naked pictures of me on a bearskin rug or anything do you?

Me: No, sweetheart, no bear skin rug pictures.

Two days later...

Me: So, girlfriend, I have a video from when C was younger. Why don't we watch it?

I'm such an evil mommy. :)

So this week, C takes his first FCAT test. I'm worried, but not. I'm worried, because this is really pretty much a make or break test. I'm not because C has always done well on these types of things in the past. But I can't help but be afraid that he might freak out and not do well, and end up repeating 3rd grade over something this silly. J is taking great pleasure in reminding C that he doesn't have to take this test. Brothers...they live to torment each other.

I found myself making some rather...unusual mistakes today. Well, I don't know that I would call them mistakes, exactly, considering the direction D and I's relationship has been heading. We are moving in together, quite possibly within the next few months. But what I found myself doing today shocked even me.

I was in my mommy group (which I know I was going to leave, but it's like a soap get hooked and can't stop) and there were 3 questions that I answered this afternoon. I felt they were good questions, one that deserved honest answers. The type of question required me to speak about my relationship with D as well as my children, and I found myself referring to the boys as "our" kids. Usually, I call them "my" kids, or "my" boys, or whatever. It's always been "my", though, because SD doesn't deserve any credit for them, and I've been raising them alone. And I've answered other questions since meeting D that required me to talk about both my relationship with him and my kids, and used "my". But today, I found myself using "our". Initially, I was surprised, and even kind of thought, "what the heck did I do that for?" I even said it out loud, at which point I ended up explaining to D what I'd done. He laughed and said he'd found himself calling C "son" so he didn't think it was a big deal. Later, after I did it the 3rd time, he even said he didn't mind.

So, the first time I did it, I surprised myself. The second time I did it, it was more like, "oh, for Pete's sake, I did that again." The third time, I decided it was hopeless and I just need to accept that apparently this is what I'll be doing from now on. I'm not sure why I did it. I'm not sure what it was that made me suddenly think of them as "ours" instead of mine. I do know one thing, though. When I was with SD, even though he helped conceive them, I never ever thought of them as "ours". Even then, the boys were always "my". So...the fact that I am thinking this way about D says a lot about how I feel about him and our relationship.

It also just proves that DNA is not what makes a family, or a father. In the short time that D has been a part of our lives, he's already acted more like a father to them, without even trying, than SD has in their entire lives. They seem to have readily accepted him as a part of our lives and our family. I know there will probably be a day when they will rebel and pull the "you're not my dad" bit on him. I know there will come a day when they will probably resent him, hate him, or at the very least, make his life difficult, which means mine will be difficult. But I figure that's normal and bearable. And we'll deal with that if and when that day arrives.

It's very strange. I used to swear that no man would ever meet my kids before we'd been dating at least 6 months, and even then, only if the relationship was serious. I stuck to that rule for many years. No man I ever dated met my kids. And then D came along. And we haven't been together 6 months, but he's already met the kids, and I already can see him as their dad. We're already moving in together. The kids have accepted him and have no problems with him and I being together. And none of this feels rushed, or like a mistake, and I don't feel like I should feel guilty that we didn't wait longer for this stuff. I guess whoever said that when it's right, you'll know it, knew what he or she was talking about.

March 3, 2010

Student of the Month!!

So, I go to pick the kids up today. And the teacher that runs the car rider line was running a bit behind today, so by the time we got pulled up, the kids were already waiting. The boys climb in the car, and I notice C has this red ribbon on his shirt. So I ask what it is as I lift it, and read "Student of the Month" on it. I immediately have to start driving, as the line is moving, but C starts telling me how he's student of the month, and handing me a bumper sticker, a certificate, and his coupon that entitles him to a free sundae at Sonic. excuse for me to go buy ice cream. :)

I am so proud of him. He's come such a long way since Kindergarten and 1st grade. If you go back to some of my much older postings, you'll read about the trouble he had and the diagnosis I didn't want to get (Most of this will be found around April 2007, just to help you out a little). He had such a hard time not only with grades, but also behavior. He couldn't stop talking, couldn't sit still, couldn't focus. ADHD was truly making his life miserable. I strongly regret not getting him diagnosed sooner. I was so determined to think that my son didn't have that problem, or that I could get him past it naturally, without medication, and all I did was force my son to struggle when it wasn't necessary.

And when I look at where he is now, I am glad that I did finally give in and get him officially diagnosed and started on meds. His grades have improved, his behavior is so much better, and he is a much happier child (although he already has a teenage attitude!). He would be in a completely different place right now had I continued to try to convince myself that disagnosis and medication weren't necessary.

J, however, is very upset that is not, and has yet to be, Student of the Month. I tried to tell him to just be patient, and to remember that it took his brother until 3rd grade to get it, but J does not want to hear this. He wants to just pout and feel like he's getting ripped off somehow. Forget the fact that his grades are always through the roof, and that he's never had the behavior issues that his brother had. He doesn't want to hear any of that, because it doesn't suit his agenda of pouting and being miserable.

Sometimes I wonder about children.

D is well entrenched in his new job. He is quite the happy camper. He's getting lots of miles, he loves his new dispatcher, and sounds so much happier than I've heard him in a long time. This makes me happy, of course. I still miss him, and I still can't wait until he comes home so I can see him and hold him and touch him, but at least now I know he's not absolutely miserable and stressed beyond belief when we're apart.

Of course, he still likes to tease and torment me, so now...I'm off to plot my revenge. :)