The Older We Get

Birthday Candles courtesy of BHMPics. Click for link.

Today is my birthday. My 36th birthday. I was almost 35 again this year, until a very dear friend reminded me that I was older than she was… and she is turning 36 this year. That was nice of her, sort of. You see, I am the type of person who has a clock in every room in an effort to try and be on time. (I make it about 50% of the time.) I have a plan A, a plan B and sometimes even a backup plan after that. 

I have realized something over the last 6 years, and have tried to live my life by this philosophy:

Women are like a fine wine, we only get better as we age… until we get old enough to turn to vinegar. 

I haven’t reached the vinegar stage, no matter what my kids tell you. But, I have reached the stage, thanks mostly to my husband, to try and be a bit more flexible with plans. So what if I might not be done with babies by the time I’m 35? So what if my career isn’t exactly where I wanted it at this point. I’m ONLY 37! I have continued a great journey with the help of some wonderful ladies to become healthier, and I’m trying to be a more available mom to my kids. I’m trying to do more homework, reading and after school activities with them especially now that the husband will be travelling for longer periods of time. Come this time next year, I won’t have ‘made it’, but made progress. It is a journey after-all. 

Open Letter to a Teacher – Sean

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In a prior post, I wrote a letter to Archie’s teacher. This is the letter to Sean’s teacher. In an effort to increase the appearance of their individuality, I am writing two letters, not just one letter for both children.

Dear Teacher

Sean Patterson is in your classroom this year. He is a bright boy and so kind. He is generous in spirit and loves to please. His desire to please will lead him to frustration. If he thinks a project isn’t going well, or if he thinks he is disappointing you, he will not do his work. Please remind him that his work doesn’t need to be perfect.

He is a good big brother to the youngest in the family and a great helper when asked. But he tends to take too much on himself. He helps others, including Archie, so much that others depend on him. Please keep an eye on this. Others, including his brothers, can take advantage of his peacekeeping tendencies and take too much upon himself.

To encourage Sean, he loves words of encouragement, atta boys. When he is tired or hungry, as with most growing boys, he can get a little over the top and fussy. Quiet time for him is the best option. He simply can’t process anything while in this state. After he quiets down, he is ready to have a conversation. If he can understand the ‘Why’, you’ve got him, hook, line and sinker.

Also, when a big event is coming up, like the fall or spring recital, it’s important to keep calm and limit the sweets. He tends to build up in his head and go slightly spastic, in a little-boy-misbehaving kind of way. He gets nervous and will take it out on whoever is handy, most likely his brother. Once the stress or excitement is gone, he is back to his old self. He actually had to miss last years spring recital because of this.

Sean is a good boy and his first reaction is ‘Why’. You might have to connect some of the dots, or explain what things are functionally good for, but once he has that concept, he is raring to go. Sean gives the best hugs because likes to show his affection for those he cares about.

Open Letter to Teacher – Archie

Last year, I wrote an open letter to my twin boys Kindergarden teachers. They were in the same room and I wanted to make sure their teacher knew they were separate and individual units, not two halves of a whole. This year (hallelujah) they have different classrooms for 1st grade. Some twins do very well in a same classroom setting, others not so much. It is a decision for each family to make for themselves. My boys tend to like the same things, so when it came to free choice time in the classroom, they were fighting over the same things. My boys are a study in extremes, they either love each other, or they hate each other: give or take the hour of the day. Even though they are in separate classrooms this year, their classes do a lot of ‘cooperative’ time together in order to group similar abilities in reading and math groups. So, these letters will go to both teachers.

Letter for Archie

ArchieArchie is a good boy. I must lead off with that, because sometimes it can be difficult to remember. When he is overly tired, or hungry especially, he can be challenging. His biggest challenge is the way he reacts to a particularly difficult task. His knee jerk reaction is a whiney “I can’t do it” or “It’s too hard”. He will tackle a sentence a few words at a time, or a project broken out into pieces, but anything that seems overwhelming brings out the instant “no”. He fears not doing something perfectly, or not doing something well.

His biggest strengths are his ability to make connections between unrelated objects. He loves to see how subjects interact, like learning about the the water cycle, measuring rainfall and adding and subtracting rain amounts. He gets it. Making those connections keep him engaged and feeling like it isn’t too big of a task because he is building off of something he already knows. He also marches to the beat of his own drum. Much like Tacky the Penguin stories, he is taking a project you have given him and created something new entirely, especially in Art. He is creative, and his art will inevitably look a little like Picasso. He likes feeling free and not so hemmed in my mundane tasks like chores at home (he still has to do them) or routine worksheets and flashcards etc.

I find the biggest way to encourage his participation is two fold. First, I try and find the right motivator. For instance, I told Archie and his brother I would write a letter to Santa, when they started reading books to me, that they could earn a 1/2 hour of Nintendo DS time for every book they read me. We do not have a DS. The understanding is that only with my letter and consent will Santa bring the DS to the house. I know they are quickly becoming too old to believe, but I will use it until they figure it out. Another motivator would be to warn them about a loss of privileges if they do not get their work done quickly. I try and press home the concept of work first, so you can enjoy your play or free time. Left to his own devices, Archie would quickly become the grasshopper in the Aesop fable.

Again, he is a good boy, and a sweet boy. He is sensitive to others feelings and will often give his brother a hug if he has hurt himself. He is also gentle and helpful to his little brother. My sweet boy likes to take the easy road, no doubt. But he will pick you flowers on the way.

Stress Can’t Operate Without It

I haven’t posted in a while and here is why. There wasn’t enough going on and there wasn’t enough stress. This summer was a pretty easy summer. The kids spent most of it with Grandma and Grandpa on the farm, and I was supposed to be studying hard for an exam I just completed. I spent more time relaxing, re-growing the brain cells that shrunk from school year stress and re-connecting friends I hadn’t seen in quite a while. When I got the kids back:

  • The older two had grown at least a foot
  • The baby was potty trained (Thanks Grandma)
  • The kids expected to eat ice cream after EVERY meal (Again, thanks Grandma!)

1stDayofSchoolSchool started last week and the older boys are now in 1st grade. Thankfully, they were placed into separate classrooms. They tend to rely on each other quite a bit in between driving each other crazy. If Sean knows how to read, then Archie feels he doesn’t need to learn it. And, as they get free time in the classroom, they tended to choose the same things and steal supplies from each other which leads to more fighting.

The baby now toddler started Montessori 3 days a week. This little bugger will charm everyone and is the smartest person (including me and my husband) in the house. We are all excited about his starting school and enjoying the learning process.OliverMontessori

We’ve also decided to change up our childcare solution as well. With the husband traveling so much, and with me having a 1hr commute each way into and out of work, the days in daycare were just too long. Drop off at 6:45 and pick up by 5:45. By the time we made it back home, had dinner and went to bed, the kids (and I) were cranky snots. A friend of mine turned me onto an AuPair service that he uses. When I costed it out, I was only going to be paying about $200 more per month than what I was currently paying for my daycare. (More about that later) But, we are super excited for the boys to have shorter days away from home, more time for homework and a more relaxed day!

Since I hadn’t studied much over the summer, the last few weeks have been chock full of school supply shopping, getting used to the noise of the kids again, trying to learn how to drive while handing out snacks and listening to non-stop questions “Mommy why…?” and trying to study at the same time. I haven’t slept or blogged much in the last few weeks, and this is why. Im sure you understand. The test is over as of last weekend, I tried to sleep as much as possible and even went to bed early after Church on Sunday. We will find out in 8weeks if I actually passed. But it appears that I am MUCH more effective when I have multiple things in my life demanding my time and attention. Does anyone else have this? Is this like when soldiers become conditioned to high stress situations and can’t re-acclimate to home life. On a much smaller scale obviously, no one is in danger of losing a life at my house, only a limb if they try and take my bagel one more time. Maybe Im the only one who feels like this. Maybe Im not, but I would like your input.

Me Catched It

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Out to dinner and Oliver, the little guy, is eating spaghetti. He droops some on his pant leg and says (proudly)

“Me catched it!”

Me: “You caught it?”

Oliver: “Yep, with my pants!”

Guess it’s a good think I just bought a new bottle of Shout.