Saturday, May 21, 2011

Prep School Boys

My older son goes to a Catholic prep school.  He was homeschooled for eight years and then he went to Cardinal Gibbons for two years until the Archidiocese closed them down.  He now attends Archbishop Spalding High School in Severn.  If you've never had the pleasure to be in the company of prep school boys, let me tell you what it's like.  First, you will be called "mame" or "Mrs. ___" all the time.  You will be greeted upon their arrival or yours and you will be told thank you and goodbye when they or you leave.  They will ask you how you are and they will stand there to listen should you decide to tell them.  Do you need help?  Just ask.  All of them will be at your side in an instant, waiting for direction and happy to be of assistance. They are Christians.  They believe in God and they aren't afraid to say so.  They pray every morning before classes and every afternoon before going home.  Before every sports event they ask God to protect them and to help them to be strong.  There is a beauty in that!  They have pride in their country, their school and in themselves.  No baggy jeans and questionable clothes either.  They wear uniforms to school and shirts and ties to functions.  When they "dress down" in their own casual clothes, they are tasteful and clean, underwear UNDER their clothing and nothing offensive to be seen.  They are upstanding citizens and you can easily pick them out in any crowd.    My husband's cousin died a few years ago and he was very active in the youth and high school football communities.  Many, many kids were there, but the prep school boys stuck out in the crowd.  They were in shirt and tie and they stood together respectfully, walking two by two when it was there turn to pay their respects.  They were soft spoken and extremely polite.  Don't get me wrong...these young men can be loud and wound up and carefree, but when an adult addresses them they immediately quiet down and wait to be told what they need to do. 
In today's society many adults have nothing good to say about the youth who will be running our country tomorrow, but I think they are just looking in the wrong direction.  Prep school boys will be the ones leading our country in the future and they will do so with dignity and respect.  It's an expensive education and it often can put a strain on the family during those years of endless tuition, but I will tell you from experience, it's worth every penny.  I am proud of my son and proud of his prep school friends.  They can come to my home any day and hang with my son all they want.  They are wonderful young men and you can tell them I said so! I will proudly take my place in line as a prep school mom and I would encourage you to at least try to do the same.  Your child will get a fine education in academics and a wonderful education in morals and values.  

Friday, May 20, 2011

If the world was ending tomorrow

Fueled by the recent ridiculousness of zombie attacks and earth's impending doom tomorrow, I have given brief thought to what it was that I would want to do and say should this indeed be true.  If only given 24 hours until it was all over, I'd first want to bring my daughter home from North Carolina so we could all be together for as long as possible.  I would tell her how incredibly proud I was of her for realizing some of her dreams and for reaching for those that she has yet to achieve.  I would thank her for the wonderful anticipation of the last few months, when we have planned together to welcome her daughter, my granddaughter into the world.  I would thank her for being there for me always and for being not only a wonderful daughter, but a wonderful friend.  I admire her as much as I love her and I have learned so much just being in her company. 
To my second daughter, I would tell her that I know that deep inside you is a wife and mother just waiting to be given the chance to shine.  Someday your prince charming will arrive and you will be everything you are only dreaming of being now.  I am certain that you will find your way and all your dreams will come true.  I am so very sorry that your road was derailed and your plans put on hold, but remember that what doesn't kill us (hopefully not the zombies tomorrow ;-) will make us stronger and you, my sweet baby girl, are building strength and character right now.  Hang in there, because there are wonderful things ahead and I love you, very, very much.  Your day is coming and I am going to be right there cheering the very loudest when it does!!
To my oldest son, you are everything a mother could want in a son and then some.  You are gorgeous and smart and sensitive and kind and I have been truly blessed by the angels in heaven to be your mother.  I hope that we can remain close and continue to discover the world together as you grow into manhood.  You are a daily joy in my life.  I can never thank you enough for that. 
To my baby son....the one who will challenge me the most!  What a pleasure it has been to be given the opportunity to do it all one more time.  Thank you for giving me the chance to see the world through your eyes.  You are so funny and witty and handsome and smart!  Everyday is something new with you and you are right when you say "it never gets old"!  You make every day an adventure and I love being your momma! 
To my husband of twenty years, the love of my life, my knight in shining armor.  I cannot even imagine what this world would have been without you!  You have made my life exciting and full of love and hope and fun and anticipation of all that's left to come.  Someone once said "Grow old with me.  The best is yet to be."  That's what I want from you, my love.  Grow old with me.  We were so young when we began.  We were friends, parents and lovers for years and we become grandparents for the first time next week.   We have shared the good, the bad and the ugly and we are here to tell about it!!  I still think you are sexy and gorgeous and you light up the room when you walk in the door.  I love you.  That doesn't seem enough to say, but I hope you know the unspoken words that go along with it. 
To my momma....I love you so very much.  You are a tough cookie sometimes, but being loved by you has always been like being wrapped up in a cocoon of soft, luxious warmth.  I know now how it feels to love my kids the way you have always loved me and I want to thank you for that.  Some people never know that kind of devotion and I've been blessed by it every day for almost 46 years.  You are the best mom.  I am very glad you are mine.

And I could go on and on and on, but I think I'll just wait and tell everyone how much I love them on Sunday, because the Lord is good and he doesn't "do" zombies and if you believe that the world will really end tomorrow you should re-evaluate yourself and your faith and know that HE expects you to live your life like every day is the last one you will receive.  So come on, Saturday, May 21, 2011.  I believe in the Lord and I believe in his mercy and his love and his forgiveness.  I am not afraid.  I know you will never lead me astray. 

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Last Day At Passport

Today was my last day at Passport and I was afraid it would be too emotional and stressful, but it turned out to be a fun day.  The kids, for the most part, are oblivious to my not coming back.  For some of them, I'll see them in the fall.  For others, I won't, but I don't think they were aware of that.  We did our presentations on their imagined countries and had plenty of time left over to autograph each other's certificates of promotion and to play country hangman on the board.  Afterward, Dakota went to his science class and I went upstairs with the preK kids and did all their favorites with them...singing, dancing, reading, paper bag puppets and painting.  About half way through one of the moms burst in and said the fire alarm was going off and to get the kids out.  We scooped up the tiny ones, took the others by the hand and headed out.  It was hard to stay focused on my students and not go to find Dakota, but I knew Lavender would make sure he was safe.  I called her and found out it was just a faulty alarm box and we all went back in.  Afterward Dakota was searching for tears, but I was able to move the subject along to something else and avoid that.  I will definitely miss the co-op and the kids too, but all I could manage today was relief that the planning and time consuming tasks were over.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Half way to the weekend

Today has been gray and rainy and I've been fighting a severe sinue headache all day, but we know as homeschooling parents, that the kids could care less and your day must go on!  After dropping Brian off at school we came home and did our usual morning routine of breakfast, bath and chores and then we finished our two projects for classes at co-op tomorrow.  Dakota had to make up a report for his science class on his favorite body part and he chose the brain.  For his geography class he had to make up his own country, which is right up his alley.  He loves to create new scenarios, but I have to admit that he was less creative than I felt he could have been.  I guess he's done as much as I am!  We squeezed in time for a few reading books and then off to Kung Fu for his hour class.  He really enjoys this and today his dad came to see him.  He does a great job, but there are several little boys in the class and they are...well, little boys!  They get wound up and silly and Dakota happily joined right in.  Nothing too bad, though.  We grabbed lunch on the go and then came back to the house to putter around and let me nurse my headache that advil nor aleve wants to budge.  American Idol is on tonight, but I'm not really all that excited about it since the one I felt was the dynamic performer got the boot last week and Ghost Hunters are all reruns.  Darn.  Guess I'll be hitting the bed early

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Counting the days

I am not normally someone who likes to see life rush by.  I try to savor every minute, stop and smell the roses....all those old cliches that I really do believe in.  These days, however, I am counting the days to one of the best things that has happened to me in the last six years.  Next week, on Wednesday, May 25th, my oldest daughter...my very first baby...will be giving birth to my very first granddaughter.  I am beside myself with joy at this event and I am truly counting the days until my husband, youngest son and I can leave to make the drive to North Carolina to see my daughter and to be there with her as she takes this giant step in her life that she has been waiting so very long for.  I can't sleep at night and I can't focus during the day.  I think about the birth, my daughter, the first moment I lay eyes on my granddaughter.  I dream of holding her in my arms and starting a relationship with her that will last a lifetime.  Her mother is one of my very best friends and I hope that my granddaughter and I can have that kind of bond as she grows up.  I want to be a very active part of her life, cheering her on, holding her hand, being her biggest fan in everything she does.  I know that it will be bittersweet and very, very hard when I have to leave her a few days after her birth to return home to Maryland, but if I can manage a few weeks at a time between her visits she will soon be here to stay, coming to my house daily while her momma works and fitting snuggly into my life.  I've never been a grandmom before and I wonder why I didn't feel quite so giddy about the birth of my children....but then I remember that I did certainly have all these dreams, but I was also sick, swollen, uncomfortable and very tired of being pregnant during this stage of their development and with my grandchild, I am fresh and well and physically comfortable and therefore I can truly enjoy these last days leading up to her birth.  I can only hope that all goes as well as I have imagined, because my dreams are heartbreakingly tender and I am living for the day when I can hold that sweet little girl in my arms.  One more week.  7 more days.  Tick, Tick, Tick, Tick.....

Monday, May 16, 2011

Beautiful day

Although the weatherman called for rain all day, it was absolutely gorgeous outside.  Dakota and I did his journal, which has really improved as the year has gone on, and his handwriting before curling up on the couch for a vocabulary reader and some reading by Dakota and to Dakota.  I read Click, Clack, Moo to him and found one of the lines hit my funny bone and the two of us giggled and laughed and enjoyed each other's company.  Afterward, our friends stopped by for lunch and we got an hour of outside time before coming back in, where Dakota's sister helped him finish his plant packet.  We went back outside and found 3 dandelions, in various stages of growth, and talked about them and how the cycle continues.  We also found a "helicopter" that had come off the big tree in our side yard and planted itself in our garden.  Luckily for us, a sprout had formed, but the curled seedling and the hard seed coat were still attached.  Dakota's reaction..."This is AWESOME!".  Love that!  We did our science workbook outside, talking about plants, and then for Social Studies we brainstormed his personal country that he is creating for his end of year project in Around the World and got all the names and details down on paper and the flag template printed.  Inside we did our math work, lines of symmetry and subtracting ten from a number, and called it a successful homeschool day!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Laid back weekend

This weekend was wonderful for all the things we didn't have to do!  We found ourselves with an empty weekend and unexpectedly good weather, even though showers were called for all weekend.  My husband cleaned up the yard, mowed the grass and remulched the play area.  My sons hung out with friends, watched movies and played video games and I spent alot of time thinking, pre-planning for my planning (thinking it out more than actually getting anything done!) and getting a jump on my work for the psychology company I work for.  There was nothing particularly special about what we did, but that in itself was great.  Wish we could have at least another few days to chill out like that, but unfortunately, it's Sunday night and Monday morning will be here in the blink of an eye.  At least it looks like a pretty slow week around here, especially during the day.  For that I am thankful!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Glad to be back!

Blogger.com has been down and I didn't realize how much I had come to depend on the site for keeping track of the highlights (and lowlights) in my life.  It's the journal I never had the time to write and I love looking back and reading about our adventures. 

As is often the case by mid May, homeschooling has taken a softer note, with more days off and less time spent doing our seatwork.  We have gardened, gone to karate, fun errands and played outside.  Wednesday evening we dropped our older son off at the Lake Shore baseball fields to umpire and then my husband and I took Dakota to Downs Park and hiked and looked out over the Chesapeake Bay and lingered in the Mother's Garden.  What a beautiful park!  I don't know why I haven't been before, but I can't wait to go back again very soon.  Thursday we had our last regular class at co-op and finished the continents by going over the details of Antarctica and then reviewing what they had learned over the year.  Even that was cut short so that we could get in some playtime outside.  It's been an absolutely gorgeous week and we have wanted to take advantage of every moment.  Koda's spent lots of time playing in the yard with the neighbors and he's been getting in plenty of exercise and sleeping well.  Today we did our grocery shopping for the next two weeks and tonight is going to be a date night for my husband and I in Annapolis while we wait on our older son to umpire a double header in Davidsonville. 

Anyway, glad to be back!  I hope to stay caught up now and keep writing about our homeschooling and family adventures as they happen.  There should be lots to write too!  I am due to become a grandmother in less than two weeks time and I am looking forward not only to seeing my granddaughter's birth, but to going to North Carolina and seeing my daughter, whom I haven't seen in two months. 

Friday, May 6, 2011

Homeschool Review

Today we had our second and final homeschool review with the county for our kindergarten year.  The gentleman was new to me and looked stern and gruff, but he was actually a very kind man who went through our binder, chatting with us about what we worked on and allowing us to show off a bit.  He told us we were "incredible homeschoolers"!  Afterward we had a wonderful playdate with three other homeschool families and Dakota enjoyed the bounce house and swing set with his friends as much as I enjoyed the chatting and sharing with the moms.  Now it's time to relax a bit, work a bit, make dinner and head off to the Oriole game with family and friends tonight. 

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Teaching is a satisfying vocation

As my time with my co-op classes comes to a close, I am feeling a little sentimental about the time I have spent with these kids.  Unlike the past few years, I am moving on to create my own co-op in the fall and will not be coming back to my current co-op where I have taught the same group of kids for the past three years.  I started here when Dakota had barely turned four and I taught a double period of preK/K that gave me the chance to work with the kids from 9:30 to noon.  They were 2 to 5 years old and just as sweet and open as then could be.  I think I started with 6, but ended up with about 12.  We did theme based activities and had a snack together and playtime outdoors whenever possible.  Today, as I taught my Around the World class, some of those very same children looked back at me, now "big kids" at 6 to 8 years old.  I have always considered them "my" kids and I have made it my business to know them well, to love them and to encourage them to do their best.  Now they write, read and easily remember to raise their hands.  They are really good at mapping now and know their continents and countries and it's so rewarding to know that they have this knowledge because of me.  They are always respectful in my class and well behaved...I demand it and they live up to the demand.  They are sweet, hornery, hysterically funny and sometimes tearful and incredibly needy.  I have given them high fives, stern looks and many, many hugs.  I have seen them smile at me with teeny tiny baby teeth long ago and now with gaps and holes where their big teeth are.  I helped them learn to write their letters and their names and now I expect them to write the names of continents on dividers and follow detailed mapping instructions without fail.  They are fabulous.  I love them....each and every one.  Each one of them has a story to tell and most of them trust me enough to share some of that story.  As I looked out at them today I felt an incredible amount of pride and a great deal of love.  Several of them will be coming with me to my new co-op in the fall, thankfully, but some of them...they are the ones that make my heart break a little.  I am going to lose them now.  They will go on in their co-op with other teachers and new friends and they will most likely forget me before too long.  I, however, will always hold each one of them in a very special place in my heart.  Now I know how it must feel for those school teachers who let those kids that they have spent 9 straight months with, five days a week go off to their next grade.  How it feels to say goodbye to children who will move on so quickly you will only be a faint memory by this time next year.  So to my longtime young friends whom I will leave in a few weeks..Siobhan, Eric, Joseph, Liana., Kyran....I am so very proud of you and it has been my pleasure to teach you each week and to watch you grow.  Thank you for the glimpses into your young souls.  You are very, very special children and Ms. Cindy has been a very, very lucky teacher to have known you and loved you for the last few years.  

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Not a good day

Today started out promising when my husband offered to take the older son to high school and I was given some free time while Dakota slept in to drink my coffee and check my email from the deck swing listening to the birds.  I thought it was going to be a great day.  My friend called and had to go into work for a few hours and I agreed to watch her children since her son is my son's best friend and it was perfect weather to break out the bounce house that had been put away all winter.  I thought I'd let the boys play for awhile and then get some school work done....NOT.  The boys, who usually get along well, did nothing but snipe at one another, repeat one another, tattle on one another and roll around in the bounce house beating on each other.  By the time my friend came home a little after lunch there were many time outs that had been given and my own son was punished for the afternoon for disrespectful behavior.  Okay.  So I was NOT in the mood for school and decided that I was very backed up on my work and would do that for a few hours....NOT.  My boss called and I ended up taking dictation over the phone for a contract for two hours.  So now it's dinner time and I still haven't completed one folder from work, I'm grouchy and irritable and my son is a bear because he's punished.  By the time we have dinner we have to rush out the door to baseball...we leave very early for our 15 minute ride and it takes 45 minutes in nothing but traffic to get there.  Then we had two hours of 5/6 year old tball and, while these kids are adorable both in looks and actions, I had already had enough of my own son and really had to try hard to have patience coaching these little guys today.  We didn't get home til after 9 and I just had to go in to Dakota again at 9:45.   (His bed time is 8pm)  Now tomorrow I'll have to cram in school and housework in addition to my work that has to be completed AND Dakota will be grouchy from being up too late.  Not a good day.

Monday, May 2, 2011

New York City

This Christmas I was able to take advantage of a Groupon (http://www.groupon.com/) for a trip to New York City for the two boys and my husband and I for only $25 a person round trip.  It was a good deal then and now, with gas at $4 a gallon, it was an even better bargain.  We lined the trip up to coincide with my older son's eighteenth birthday (two holiday specials for one! lol) and this past Friday we all got up at 5:30am and headed to the park and ride to get on the bus.  I was surprised at how well six year old Dakota did for those four hours, considering his movie player was only going to last the length of one movie and we couldn't find his Ipod.  When we got there we took a short walk around Madison Square Garden and then grabbed a quick bite to eat.  We walked to Times Square and I, personally, am completely fascinated with all the lights and sounds and flashing billboards and stories tall movies that are playing all around.  We found the giant Toys R Us and spent a good hour in there oooohhhing and aaaahhhhing at the over the top displays and then the boys rode the 3 story tall ferris wheel.

When we left Times Square we took the subway (only $13 round trip for four people!), much easier than I'd anticipated, and went to the Statten Island Ferry station.  Dakota was fascinated with Lady Liberty and I was fascinated with the whole scene.  Huge orange ferries took hundreds of passengers at a time out to Statten Island, right past the Statue of Liberty and the best part again...Free!!  Tour boats in the area cost $45 per person, but you can see everything just as well from the ferry for absolutely nothing.  Once on Statten Island we walked to a minor league baseball stadium just past the boat dock and watched a few minutes of a high school baseball game.  The stadium was ordinary, but the NY skyline in the background made it something special.  Grabbing a quick hot pretzel from a vendor, we boarded the ferry again and headed back to Manhattan.  Instead of getting right back on the subway, however, we decided to walk the several blocks to go to see Ground Zero and the 9/11 Memorial.  I was at first disappointed because you really can't see anything.  Large fences are blocking your view of the construction and I wondered why anyone would come here at this point.  Then a gentleman who was selling 9/11 booklets approached us and so kindly paged through pictures of the devastation from that horrible day and pointed out that we were standing right where it all happened.  He showed us pictures of the building to our right, destroyed completely and now shiny and black and looking like new.  He showed us the Century 21 building next to that, completely gutted by the explosions and now, of course, perfectly fine.  We were standing in front of a church and a graveyard....nothing looked out of the ordinary.  He showed us a picture, however...one I had seen on the news and in the papers dozens of times, of that very same church and cemetary where we stood now literally buried in debris and dust.  It was humbling and awe inspiring.  We bought the booklets he offered for a very reasonable $10 for both and then walked around the corner and went into the building where the pictures and memories are all on display.  My little son had no idea why we were there and he wasn't exactly well behaved, but for the three of us who remembered, you will never forget being there.  Everyone in the building was hushed and the pain was written on their faces.  You could stop and look at a fire chief's helmet that was all that was recognizable when they found him after the building's collapse.  There were pictures and notes attached to a replica of lady Liberty, films rolling, pictures of the devastation and pictures of hope, the memorial that is set to open this year on September 11, 2011, ten years to the day that our world changed forever. 

We hopped on the subway after viewing the memorial and didn't make it back to Times Square until very close to the time we had to catch the bus.  We made it to Rockefeller Center to visit the Lego store (not half as good as the one in Arundel Mills) and then walked by Radio City Music Hall to see the who's who in the football draft world that were gathered there.  Our hopes for a sit down meal were dashed and we didn't even have time for fast food, so we grabbed a drink and literally ran to the bus where we munched on our snacks from home and Dakota soon fell asleep for the entire ride back.  It was an exhausting day, but very memorable and my little guy feels like he has "been there and done that" so we are all happy. 

Spring Break...a thing of the past!

Today we set about regaining some semblence of normal after a very busy two week spring break.  We did our journaling and handwriting to start off slow and then we finished off a year long workbook about countries around the world and did his ATW homework for co-op this week.  I used PE, art and music from recent spring break activities and we sat together and read some books about Earth Day and going green that we didn't get to read for the actual Earth Day because we were away and began a new daily task that Dakota is in charge of.  He needs to read (and record on the paper taped behind his door) two books of his choosing each day sometime between waking and the time he gets ready for bed.  Every evening he watches a 30 minute tv show.  If his reading is not complete before it's time for the show, he has to read instead of watching.  My hopes there are to encourage independent reading and to add to our list of books, which never looks long enough to me.

We took a break from 12:30 to 1:3 and then after lunch we did a math assessment and some addition and subtraction practice and then started a new science unit on plants.  The SchoolExpress unit on plants is a really good one and that, combined with my Harcourt text and workbook, will make for a fun, comprehensive unit on plants that will lead from living and nonliving things to our animal babies unit at the end the year. 
My county review is this coming Friday, but it's not too big of a stressor for me because things are together for the most part, his binder is in order minus a few papers from the last few weeks and my record book is always up to date.  After that, my plan is to get in approximately three to four full weeks before we end our kindergarten year, but with my granddaughter due in 22 days and our spur of the moment trip to North Carolina for a few days when she decides to arrive, that may or may not pan out.  Not to worry, though, because I'm already looking forward to 1st grade and starting to get some ideas on units and routines that we will use throughout the year.