Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Taking It Easy

Today was supposed to be a busy day.  We had an early dermatologist appointment for Dakota's ever-returning wart and then co-op, errands and picking up Keri.  It's my one day of the week I don't have my granddaughter, usually, so I try to pack it all in.  Things didn't quite go as planned.  The dermatologist decided that Dakota needed to have his wart frozen off.  He warned this would be so cold it would feel like it was burning.  Dakota vowed to be brave....and then the process took place.  The poor kid screamed bloody murder, saying that it hurt.  The doctor smiled weakly at me and said "it really does".  Great.  We were supposed to leave there and arrive at our co-op late and Dakota had a report to do that he was more than ready for and eager to share.

My teary, sobbing boy and I leave the doctor and head to the car.  It is POURING outside.  UGH.  He is still crying hard when we get to the car and he steps in a huge puddle and it soaks his sock.  THEN I get a call from the teacher of the class...her car is broke down and she won't be there.  Oh my.  I decide then and there that this is not really going to be a good day if I continue on the path I am currently taking.  I make the executive decision to call it a day.  No more. I get tylenol out of my purse and give it to my son.  I contacted a friend at co-op to tell her we wouldn't be there.  I called my daughter to tell her I was picking her up early.  I did, and then I went home.  I let my spent little guy get in his comfiest pjs and climb under the covers and watch a movie.  In about 30 minutes he felt alot better, but he isn't very spunky and active.  It could be the weather.  It could be the trauma.  It doesn't matter.  I got my own comfy clothes on, pulled out the blanket and here I am.  Thank goodness for good friends who can take up the slack, soft pjs and warm blankets.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Learning About History

We have had a lot of fun over the past few months learning about the Civil War and the time period scanning the 1800's.  We've touched on Lewis and Clark and the Industrial Revolution, but we have spent quite a bit of time on the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln and slavery.  These three things have captured Dakota's attention and piqued his curiosity and so we have embraced them.  I think the most impressive thing for Dakota, the thing that made the most impression, was the Magic Tree House book, Abe Lincoln at Last.  In the story we met Abe Lincoln as a boy and then again as a man who was not only a new president, but the father of two young boys whom Dakota could relate to.  He was shocked to hear that Willie died at age 11 and that just after the Civil War ended, President Lincoln was assassinated.  We talked about slavery and read about Harriet Tubman, watching a great video that seemed to be speaking right to my little boy.  He was outraged at the injustice of slavery and I was proud that he felt that way.

Recently we talked about John Brown.  We discussed how he fought to end slavery just like Harriet Tubman, but in a much different way.  He felt that it was necessary to fight to free slaves and Dakota said that was wrong.....but was it?  Didn't slavery come to an end only after the Civil War?  Was it right?  Was it wrong?  Who had the authority to decide?

We have been having beautiful weather in our region all winter long.  This past Saturday we did absolutely nothing but enjoy each other and read and watch TV.  Sunday, however, we decided to take a day trip and I suggested Harper's Ferry, a beautiful West Virginia town only an hour from us that was the sight of a raid by John Brown and his men and where he was captured by the US Marines and sentenced to death for murder. I wasn't sure how much Dakota would get out of the day, but at the very least we would have fun, take in some beautiful scenery and get some exercise.

From the start, Dakota seemed to know exactly what we were looking at when we arrived. He made me so proud, this little seven year old boy, talking about Abe Lincoln, Clara Barton, the Civil War and John Brown.  We went in the bookshop and I was pleased to see him recognize the many events in history and the people that were important to the time.  He seemed to understand all about John Brown too. Not many children are even taught US History at this young age.  Maybe he won't remember all of it, but at least he will be familiear with the events that were important in our history and, when we learn about it again in a few years, hopefully he will be just as involved, just as enthusiastic as he is about it now.

Monday, February 20, 2012

My Strong Willed Son

Dakota and I decided to take the long 4 day weekend with my older high school aged son.  Dakota was thrilled to have some time to play and I tried to catch up on work and school planning.  Today we got a call from a grandmom who's grandson is on Dakota's basketball team and who we found out lives a few streets over.  They invited him over for two hours and Dakota was super excited.  I gave him the lecture on the way over about being a good friend and being polite, all the while holding my breath because Dakota marches to his own drum and if he doesn't like something, he has no problems voicing his opinion.

I raised all four of my children with the same values and sense of right and wrong.  We are polite, considerate and thoughtful to others.  There are few exceptions.  The other three seemed to understand.  "I may be a handful for mom, but I better not misbehave at school or out in public."  They gave me a fit at home more than once, but when I took them someplace I knew that they would be well behaved and polite.  Dakota, however, doesn't really care about well behaved and polite.  This is my boy who, when told that he had to be good at the store to go to the park afterward, said "Aw man, and I really wanted to go to the park too".  Not "I'll be good".  If I impress upon him how important it is to be well behaved somewhere, the best I get is "I'll try".  Once I printed a behavior chart from Chuck E. Cheese.  I explained that if he was good for two weeks, getting a sticker every day, he would get 10 free tokens at CEC.  He was about five at the time.  He was thoughtful and quiet for a minute and then said "Hmmm.  Be good for two weeks and get 10 free not worth it".  Yep, that's my boy.

So back to today...I drop him off and run to the store.  Two hours later I arrived to pick him up.  What unfolded was so embarrassing for me that I can't even type it.  Basically I was informed by a very kind and soft spoken grandmom that the boys fought and didn't get along.  Dakota then proceded to be rude, mouthy and talked back to me before stomping down the steps and into the car.  I could have just crawled into a hole.

Needless to say, there was some shouting, some tears, some denial, some punishment.  More crying.  More shouting.  More punishment....and a demand that a full apology would be made at basketball on Tuesday.

Sigh.  Very big sigh.  What am I doing wrong?  Why is this child so headstrong and unwilling to behave if he is provoked otherwise?  How in the world can he be so rude when that is definitely unacceptable in our household?  I felt like I needed to call Supernanny immediately and have her give me a stern talking to about my rude child and his lack of self control.  My mother and younger daughter swear he has ADHD.  I think that's nonsense.  The child has a swagger in his step and an attitude way bigger than his tiny body.  He does what he likes to do and he doesn't care for one minute if that's not what you like.  He is a cocky, overbearing, rude child in one breath and in the next he is so kind and loving and sweet.  How do I get him to have the self control to bite his tongue and not make waves?  I don't want him to be anyone's doormat, but he could be accomodating, especially when he is with someone new.  What must this woman think of him and of me?

Tonight, as I tucked Dakota into bed, he told me that he was going to apologize to the little boy and his grandmom tomorrow and that he was going to ask him if he'd like to come to our house and see if they could have fun.  I was proud of him for taking the initiative, but I still feel inadequate in my attempts to raise this strongwilled boy in a way that I find acceptable without breaking his spirit.  No one every said that parenting would be easy and I am okay with that.  Humiliation, however, is not something I enjoy.  I sure do hope that a lesson was learned today, but at seven, I am almost sure that this is only the beginning.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Light Bulbs

Dakota and I had a great day of homeschooling yesterday.  We read about Harriet Tubman, watched a video about her and read our Abe Lincoln At Last, our current Magic Tree House book, all snuggled up under the blanket.  We did our work at the table, baked some Valentine's day sugar cookies and wrote out Valentine's for our co-op classmates.  My favorite moment, however, came during Science.  We were talking about matter, properties and mass.  We read about solids, liquids and gases and were talking about how air is in everything, even if you can't see it.  I tried to explain how air is in the bathroom cup he turns upside down and submerges in the tub to get bubbles, but he didn't understand, so we filled up the kitchen sink, got a clear plastic cup, put some dry paper towels in the bottom third of the cup and turned it upside down and put it into the water.  His eyes got big when we took the cup out the paper towels were dry.  I explained that the air was trapped in there, but I could tell he still didn't understand.  We did it a few more times and then I put the cup under the water and tilted it.  Blurp!  A big bubble came to to the top and he turned to me with wide eyes and a huge smile and said "that's the air that was in there!"  AHA!  The lightbulb went off and he was so proud of his new knowledge.  THAT is why I homeschool.  Why should some teacher who really has no vested interest in my son, get to witness that pride?  It makes it all worthwhile.  Love, love, love those light bulbs.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Homeschooling fun

Yesterday Dakota and I had a good day and when we were relaxing that evening he told me that the day was "fun".  Now we have alot of fun days, but this was a normal homeschooling day and Dakota is a tough customer to please so I was very happy that he felt this way!
I am not sure that the day was really special in any particular way.  We started with work at the table, doing Language Arts, Draw and Write and Math.  He went into his room for computer time for spelling and to read his library books.  We wrapped up the morning finishing our Magic Tree House Civil War on Sunday book and then had lunch.
After lunch we sat together in the chair and went through some websites made by school children about Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad.  We found a good one that was compelling and gave Dakota the chance to play the role of a slave who was escaping and make the decisions he may have had to make about what road to take and whether or not to continue.  We spent more time on that than I had planned so I scrapped the rest of the history lesson and we did our character lesson on responsibility.  Here's where I considered the fun to start.  Dakota is the master of excuses just now.  There is always a reason for everything that doesn't make anything I say appealing.  We had to make stick puppets for Responsible Rhino, Lazy Llama, Too Tired Turtle, Forgetful Ferret and Too Busy Beaver.  Then I read different statements made by adults and Dakota had to answer for Responsible Rhino and then for one of the Excuses animals.  He found this hysterical and used different voices to talk like each excuse.  We wrapped up the day starting a new science unit and went over matter, properties and mass.  Text reading and worksheets were finished quickly and then he got to have movie night with Dad, watching Real Steel, a robot wrestling movie, which is right up his alley just now.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Crazy, Crazy, Crazy

It has been another one of "those" weeks.  I always know that when we have too much planned I am going to feel a bit overwhelmed.  I stayed home all day on Sunday because I knew it was going to get busy.  Monday was okay.  Dakota had practice that night for basketball.  Yesterday, Tuesday, we had a field trip.  I didn't have Natalie in the morning so Koda and I got up, got ready and headed out with plenty of time to get to Irvine Nature Center for our Maple Sugaring hike.  My directions, however, were lacking and after we finally escaped the traffic I drove up and down the same road four times trying to find the road on my directions.  After finally getting better directions I managed to get there.....last of the group...and I was the coordinator.  Embarrassing to say the least.  We broke our 30 kids into 3 groups and headed out immediately.  Dakota was with some co-op friends and we had a great tour guide who was sweet, informative and great with the kids.  They were taught how to identify trees by alternate or opposite branching and got to practice drilling into an old tree trunk.  They got to see a tapped tree and taste some fresh sap.  Afterward they learned about the boiling off process and got to do a taste test between pancake syrup and pure maple syrup. 

We left Irvine around 11:30 and went to Columbia to pick up Natalie.  It made my heart sing when I went into the nursery at Kristy's center to pick Nat up and she dropped her toy and crawled over and up into my arms.  We took Kris to lunch and it was nice to be together, the four of us.  After dropping her off and dropping Keri's check off to her, we finally made it home around 2:00.  We were ready for some downtime!  After a few quiet hours we went to Dakota's basketball game, which was very fun, and then dropped off his form for scout camp at cub scouts.  By the time I got back out to the car Dakota wasn't feeling well with a tummy ache.  We stopped and got some ice cream but by the time we got home Dakota wasn't feeling well enough to have any.  He got on his pjs, climbed into bed and cried about the injustice of it all.  He told me he felt "carsickish and stomachbugish" :-)  I said a few prayers, Lysoled a few surfaces and moved a trash can close by.  He fell asleep shortly therafter watching a movie and thankfully slept well all night.

Today was supposed to be my day off watching Natalie.  Her other sitter had a job interview, however, and I had her.  I had scheduled several things into the day, thinking I would get the running done without having to drag her in and out.  Not going to happen. After seeing my oldest son off on his three day senior retreat,  I went in to get her at 9:15 to head to our hair cut appointment and found that I couldn't scoop her up and put her into her seat in the waiting car because she had pooped up her back and all over her clothes.  I had to carefully disengage her and her onsie, take everything off down to her socks, wipe her down and redress her.  Of course we were now running late and I wasn't able to get my hair done, just Dakota's, because our co-op members were waiting on me at 10:15 to open the church doors for our game day.  Sigh.  Game day, however, was a huge success.  We ladies got to chat while the kids, age three to nine, engaged themselves playing Twister, Connect 4, Uno and other fun games with little adult supervision needed.  I love that about homeschooling kids.  Afterward we headed home for lunch and then at 2:30 left for Koda's doctor appointment.  Kris met us there and took Nat and we went in to see Dr. Sam.  We love him!  He is sending us to a dermatologist for Dakota's wart and to get bloodwork for his bouts with dizziness and saying he's tired often.  He doesn't ACT dizzy or tired, but he says it all the time. 

We headed to the library to pick out some books and got a nice surprise when they were running a scavenger hunt for African American History Month.  Dakota was happy to do the activity and a lady from the Arbutus Times trailed after him taking pictures.  He got a cool purple pencil for his efforts and we got him his own library card, which he ran his fingers over and saying how cool it was.

At home, we got to see Natalie's new pierced ears and then Dakota and I were alone for the evening.  We had dinner and he played so nicely tonight with his toys.  He was so sweet...a novelty lately.  We had dinner together sitting close at the table and now we are in the recliners under blankets, eating cake and ice cream and waiting for American Idol to come on.  Nice.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Rejection is not my friend

My older son, Brian, is the ultimate sports fanatic.  He loves most sports, keeps up with all the teams in most leagues and knows statistics and trivia like most people know their address and phone numbers.  He is also a hometown boy, loyal and true to his hometown teams, which for him means the Baltimore Orioles, the Baltimore Ravens and the Maryland Terrapins.  His wardrobe is almost exclusively that of either his high school team or his state's teams.  His ambition is to be a sports broadcaster and journalist.  His go to the University of Maryland and be a true Terrapin fan. 

As the years have gone by, Brian has always expressed his desire to go to Maryland.  It is, however, one of the tougher schools to get into.  Brian is a straight A student at Archbishop Spalding, but his SAT scores were not great.  He is athletic, but not of a caliber to compete at the college level due to his small stature.  We knew all along that Maryland gets somewhere in the area of 25,000 freshman applications and takes only around 6000.  We knew that they are a big SAT score school.  We knew the odds were stacked against him for those reasons, but we also knew that our boy wanted this in a big way and, for the most part, he has gotten what he has desired.

Last night the emails came out and my sweet, deserving, athletic, handsome, intelligent son still did not make the cut.  How dare they!  He was angry and hurt, resentful of those who did get in that he felt didn't work as hard as he does.  He stated his days as a fan were over,  He was turning his sights to his second school...Towson University.  His dad and I were heartbroken that our son was feeling so rejected.  We reacted differently, my husband lashing out and angry while I played the mediator and devils advocate, trying to urge my son to look forward and to remember that he was still all those wonderful things that he was minutes before, but when the die were cast, he came up short.  Rejection happens in the real world.  And rejection hurts.  Bad.  I tried hard to put a positive spin on things because I truly believe that his second choice school will be a much better fit for him, but if I had anything to do with the choice I would still have chosen what he wanted in his heart.

So today he had a hard time getting up and going.  He wanted to stay home from school, but did not.  At school there was a meeting of other kids that also didn't get their first choice of school.  They all talked about how they felt and my boy came home a stronger, more resilient man.  I miss the days when I could kiss his hurts and make them all go away.  I want to hug him close and call that stupid school and tell them that they have no idea what they are missing.  I want to rant and rave and tell them that it is their loss.  This young man is like no other.  You messed up, big time!!  But of course, I do not.  I hug him and hold him close for the few seconds he will allow.  I tell him I love him and that he will survive.  I remind him that God has three answers to our prayers:  Yes.  Not Now.  No, I have something better planned.  God has seen this boy through so much.  He was thrust into this world twelve weeks early and he fought to survive.  He was always the littlest kid on every team, but with the biggest heart.  He was always described as the "scrappy" kid.  Today, he is still scrappy.  He will fight his way through this.  Where ever he goes I know that he will shine.  Life is full of rejection.  It is full of things that hurt and disappoint.  Life is also a beautiful place full of wonder and love.  It is full of acceptance and encouragement.  Brian has alot of people on his side and he knows that he is loved above all else.  He will make the right choices and he will make the very best of what God has chosen for him.  I am so proud of him.  He is and has always been a winner.  That's my boy!

Co-op Friends

Today we went to co-op and I was happy to see the ladies there who always make me feel better when things are particularly stressful at home.  I didn't have to teach a class so I was able to send Dakota into his classroom where he learned all about the state of Virginia and made cute museums out of paper and pictures.  At 10:45 all the kids from both age groups along with the younger siblings came upstairs to celebrate the Chinese New Year.  The kids had a great time jumping rope before we settled down and learned a bit about the reason for the celebration and found out which zodiac animal each of us was born under.  I gathered them around and read them the story of Henry and the Kite Dragon, which kept them all interested and quiet from start to finish.  To wrap up the fun we gave them red envelopes with candy and then helped them make a Chinese paper lanterns.  The kids had a great time and I was proud of the co-op that my friend and I envisioned and made happen.  Some of us stayed to have lunch and then everyone cleaned up and headed out about 1:00. 

Back at home the day is flying by and I have so much I want to do.  My dog is still not feeling well so there is a vet visit scheduled for him in the morning. I need to be at the Severna Park Racquet Club at 3:15 too.  I have to figure out when we can get our schoolwork in without causing too much of a distraction for Dakota.

Tonight I need to work, but all I really want to do is sit and watch tv.  I am behind, though, so I really need to get to it.