Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Happy First Birthday, Rebecca Leigh!

Today my littlest granddaughter (so far!) turned one!  She is a wonderfully sweet little girl, full of giggles and smiles, who adores her mommy and who just started walking a few weeks ago.  She is the spitting image of her mom and a joy to everyone who knows her and she is the light in this Nana's eyes, along with her big sister.

On September 30, 2013 we spent the day in labor and delivery with my daughter and son in law, hoping for a natural birth, but by evening we realized Rebecca was wedged up against my daughter's pelvic bone and was not coming down.  The started the prep for a c-section and one of the OR nurses happened to be a girl I went to school with.  As it was late and there wasn't too much going on, she allowed me to go down to the area just outside the operating room so I could be as close as possible without being IN there.  My daughter and my son in law disappeared behind the doors and I could see in the room, but only the doctor's heads.  At 10:01 I heard the cry and the nurse held and wet and slimy little girl up to the window for me to see.  Just a few minutes later she appeared, clean and swaddled, and the nurse put her in my arms while they finished up with my daughter.

Rebecca Leigh Brown, 6lbs, 5 oz, was alert and gorgeous.  We do make pretty babies in this family, if I do say so myself.  She was a good color, plump and fully formed, wide awake and looking all around.  I stayed with her for two hours while her mom rested and dad made the phone calls to the family.  She and I got to know one another and I told her how much her mommy loved her and wanted to be with her right that second, but was in recovery so her Nana would stand in until mommy was better.  That little girl stayed awake the ENTIRE two hours I was there, well past midnight when I had to finally admit defeat and head home to my own little son.

When I came back the next day, the entire family got to meet her.  I brought big sister Natalie with me, as well as Uncle Dakota, Uncle "Gee" and Poppy.  We all got to hold her and love her and welcome to our lives.

Today we had cupcakes, streamers and a happy birthday song.  We will have a family party on Sunday.  Happy Birthday, sweet little Rebecca!  Nana loves you so very much and I can't wait for all the adventures we will share as you grow up!

Monday, September 29, 2014

Trouble with My Tween

Ah, the years of tweendom and teendom are upon us and I am not happy about it.  My Dakota can be so sweet and loving one minute and mean and dangerously angry the next.  He has always had a swagger and an attitude, but the older he gets, the more I am concerned for the next ten years here in our home.  I want so much for us to maintain a close and loving relationship, but days like today have me fearful of what his teen years may bring.

Today started out as a typical Monday.  He doesn't want to get up.  He doesn't want to get dressed.  He doesn't want to start his schoolwork.  He yawns and mopes, complains and carries on.  Lately, he has begun to talk back, repeatedly speaking on top of me, yelling, stomping, being rude and vindictive.  This has been going on for several weeks and when I keep my composure and ask him to be quiet he simply cannot.  He can not be completely quiet.  He must make a comment, get the last word.  He doesn't hear what I say because he can't stop complaining and carrying on long enough to listen.

I have repeatedly told him that if homeschooling ceases to be fun, we will put him in public school.  He is completely against this, but I fear it may happen sooner than I had planned.  I was at my wit's end by lunchtime today.  It doesn't matter if the work is hard or easy, if we do fun experiments, go on field trips or write a report.  He is lazy and manipulative and does not want to work.  My feeling is that if homeschooling is working and we are enjoying each other, than we will continue, but if it is a constant struggle, it isn't worth it for either of us.  I would be really sad to end this part of my life, as it defines me in so many ways, but this endeavor is supposed to be enhancing my relationship with my son and I don't see that happening most days.

At lunchtime today I decided that we were going to go with a behavior chart.  I made one up, giving him a warning and a consequence, essentially four strikes before he is out.  The first strike is 15 minutes of extra chores before he gets to do his own thing.  The second strike is the chore time and two chapters of a book before he gets to do his own thing.  The third strike is no video games of any sort, but he can watch TV before bed.  His fourth strike is no screens of any sort.  Screen time is what hits home for him and I'll use it if I must to enforce my rules.  At day's end, his father must sign the behavior contract.

Dakota lost his mind when I put the chart up.  He stated this was embarrassing and unfair and he did NOT want this chart up on the door where everyone could see it.  I moved it to the refrigerator and he still was losing it.  We finally put it in a folder, but he would not look at it nor would he let me explain it to him.  He was out of control now and very, very angry.  He quickly got his first two warnings and two strikes.  After about 30 minutes, he calmed down and worked in the kitchen with me making bread dough and doing experiments.  All was well until 3:00 when I told him we were finished and then enforced the consequences.  Wow!  Angry didn't even begin to describe him.  My husband happened to be home and he addressed the issues, but Dakota was rude to him too, which really made my husband unhappy.  Never before, in our almost 30 years of parenting, have we dealt with outright defiance and anger directed specifically at us.  I feel that if we don't control this now, we will be on the losing end of every day in a few short years.

Tonight Dakota wants to act like nothing ever happened.  I am not over it.  It is definitely lingering on my mind.  I feel this is a serious issue and one that is completely new to me.  My daughters would get angry, but they would slam their bedroom doors and turn up their music before letting loose on their anger in private.  My older son was super mellow and sweet and very devoted to me.  I never dealt with anger issues with him.  The youngest has always had a temper and now the hormones are getting involved and it's just getting ugly.  Please say a little prayer for me if you are reading this that my son and I will resolve this issue and our relationship will stay a close one.  I love him so much and I don't want him to be a distant, angry teenager.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Star Spangled Kick Off

I have been waiting all summer for the start of the Star Spangled Sailabration in downtown Baltimore to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the War of 1812 and the writing of the Star Spangled Banner.  Today my daughter and I took the kids to Federal Hill for a picnic lunch and to hopefully catch a few of the tall ships coming in to the harbor to celebrate.  Though we only saw one ship and it wasn't terribly impressive, it was a gorgeous day and the kids had a great time playing with friends on the playground, in the grassy fields and looking out over the harbor at all the activity.  The vantage point from up there is breathtaking.

Around 1:00, we packed up and headed to the Science Center across the street.  My friend, Kelly and I took the 5 older kids to the IMAX theater to see Star Spangled Banner on the big screen while my daughter let the little ones play at the dinosaur exhibit.  The IMAX movie was only twenty minutes long, but so well done and very powerful.  The kids were mesmerized by it.  We finally got back to the house around 2:30 and we were all wiped out from the day's activities.

Tomorrow, with any luck, the Blue Angels will repeat their practice plan from two years ago and I will be able to sit in my front yard and watch them buzz through our neighborhood and dip and soar and swoop through the skies.  They are spectacular and I have been so excited for their return!  I also hope to get the kids down to tour the tall ships and Saturday I hope to catch some of the re-enactments at Fort McHenry and see the fireworks that night.  This is Baltimore at it's finest and makes me appreciate living here in ways I don't always do.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Happy Birthday, Dakota!

This is Dakota, my "baby", holding my baby granddaughter, Becca.  Today was his tenth birthday.  I can't believe he's so big!  Let me tell you a little about my boy....he is a tough guy with a tender heart.  Dakota has a quick temper and a smart mouth, but a passion for children and for those he loves.  He is close to his family and loves sports, video games and his nieces.  His love right now is Minecraft and he and I are going to be redoing his room in that theme in the coming weeks.

Today we invited our dearest friends, the Webers, to help us celerate.  Tyler, Evan and Zachary came by at ten and we all went to Shadowland, a great laser tag venue in Columbia, MD, where we met three more families and all eight kids played two rounds of laser tag.  They were loud, excited and sweaty!

After laser tag, two of the families joined the Webers and Dakota and I at Pizza Hut.  The kids had a blast together, talking and eating, while the moms enjoyed some chatting and a bit of quiet at our own table.  One of the many things that is great about homeschooled kids is the ability to easily incorporate kids of every age into their group as their "peers".  Yesterday's group consisted of seven boys, age 6 to 11 and one girl.  No one was left our and everyone was treated the same. 

When we got home I rocked a sick daycare baby in my lap until his mom picked him up then took the birthday boy out to GameStop to spend his birthday money.  He easily did, of course, on two DS Pokemon games, and still needed $3 from mom.  He had to go to football with dad last night and I had to run and pick up a few holds from the library.  I also picked up six novels to read in the next six weeks.  Hahahahahahahaha!!!  I can't find the time to read six novels in a year, but I brought them home anyway.  Dinner was again at 9pm then a little baseball watching in bed before crashing for the night.  Just another day in paradise, lol.
Happy Birthday, Dakota Matthew.  I hope your year of being ten is filled with fun and friends and love and laughter and that you continue to be strong and healthy and kind of heart.  I love you!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Too Hot for Fall

This year Baltimore experienced the "summer that wasn't" and I couldn't have been happier.  Cool temperatures and low humidity meant coffee on the deck in the morning and Thursday we got to spend the entire school day out there working.  It was gorgeous.  Labor Day weekend came and now we are stifling.  It's going to be 95 and humid, meaning the kids can't play outside, the dogs can't be outside for more than a minute and my house will heat up quickly if we open and close the doors too often or even keep the blinds open too much.  Looks like sandwiches for lunch and a late dinner.

Today is the last day my youngest will be nine.  We had a party for him Sunday night, complete with Minecraft inspired food items.  He got his own laptop, which really opens up schooling for us.  Currently he has done his morning work and finished his reading assignment.  He is now typing away, doing a book report, and loving his freedom.  He is testing out in Math to see where we start and that should last several school days.  We are also reading these crazy grammar books by Brian P. Cleary.  Today we read How Much Can a Bare Bear Bear? and Stroll and Walk, Babble and Talk.  Then we practiced a page each on homonyms and synonyms.

In Science, we checked out our petri dishes from last week that are growing our own personal fungus from our body.  Ewww!  He is recording his findings for that and then growing bread mold.  I hear that different breads grow different color molds and since I currently have several different kinds of breads, we are doing to try on a few of them.  A little more practice in scientific notation will close that out for the day.  History is about the nomads.  We read our chapter, did the vocab and important people and then read You Wouldn't Want to Be a Mammoth Hunter.  I love those books, but last year Koda didn't care for them.  I hope he has grown into them!  A little BrainPop on Digital Media Safety for Technology and Health and vvvwwwaaallla!  Done!

Tomorrow is the big birthday.  We will be celebrating with friends.  No school for us.  Thursday and Friday, however, we will be back on track.  Love, love, love that fall is here....but hoping the summer weather disappears as quickly as it came!