Category Archives: Munchkin

Ain’t no sun

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There are days when the sun just won’t shine. Days when it hides behind clouds, or the sky is darkened with rain. 

It’s rained a lot lately in Texas. I would say too much, but it’s so nice to have it, I loathe to disparage it too much. 

There are other days, though, that have little to do with the sun in the sky. Days like today. No matter how pretty this day might turn out to be, the sun has hidden its face from me. 

Today, like I do every summer, I walked part of my heart to the gate and watched her until I couldn’t see her any more. 

Today, she cried. She hasn’t done that in a long time and it tore my heart out. It was all I could do to stand there and keep it together. 

I’ll wait here until she’s off the ground, and then I’ll go home. And wait for my sunshine to come back. 

Sidenote

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Sidenote

It’s Saturday. I haven’t blogged in a while and, if I had more time (duh), you’d be able to see why.

We’ve finished up our first competitive cheer season, Doc is trying to beat CR7’s goal-scoring record this year in *cough* first kick rec soccer, and The Boy is trying to set a record for the number of times he can bang his face on the ground, into the lip of a table, or corner of a bookcase in a single month. Coach is finished with soccer season and has moved full-on into yearbook (which means he’s busy covering every sport, concert, play, and awards dinner at THS). Work is work for me. I love it. Busy, busy, busy. They keep giving me things to do so I’ll take that as a good sign.

I have been feeling the urge to reorganize, purge, and simplify our belongings (again). Realizing the reality is that we probably won’t try and move this year, all the STUFF in this house is making me crazy.

I want to redecorate the Boy’s room. It doesn’t really say anything now that I’ve taken his sports stuff out of his crib. I think we’re doing race cars, but I just haven’t had the time.

*sidenote* I’m writing on Coach’s mac (#love), but I’ve gotten used to my Surface and so now I keep touching the screen. */sidenote* HA.

Doc & Munchkin (can I still call an almost 13-year old “munchkin”?) (and, @sarah, is it more correct to put the punctuation inside the “” or outside, since the “” was to designate a name, not a quote?)

What was I saying?

This is my life. I can’t keep a !@#($% thought in my head for longer than about :25 seconds. So, you see why blogging has been such a hit or miss thing this year. I want to. My life would make a great sitcom. My children are hilarious and I really should be writing this down because [in my most obnoxious, patronizing voice] “they won’t be little forever.” (see, I know I used it correctly there.)

And it’s not all fun and games. There are things I want/need to pour out so I get them out of my head, but I open up the page to write and stare at a blank screen. And then life intrudes and demands my attention. So, in my head these thoughts stay.

Speaking of. The Boy just poured a cup of cinnamon toast crunch out on the kitchen floor. Because 18 months, you know?

Excuse me while I go back to the mess.

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The last year I say I don’t have a teenager

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I can’t believe I missed writing your birthday post this year. So, happy unbirthday, Munchkin. You aren’t really a munchkin any more, though…are you? This is the last year you won’t be a teenager. *sigh* I’m not sure I’m ready for how fast it has started going.

You are a voracious reader, a minecraft aficionado, and a Sims4 whizkid. I love your enthusiasm for theatre, your indifference to folding clothes, and even your dislike of eating more than six bites of almost anything at one time. (that drives Daddy nuts, by the way)

You’ve started listening to music that I think is complete drivel and you talk about boys more than I want to listen to (but make no mistake – I’m listening – and checking them out).

You are beautiful. I mean, you’ve always been beautiful, but now you are stunning. There isn’t a whole lot of “little girl” left when I look at you. On one hand, that kind of makes me sad, but not really. Because, despite being in full-swing-drama-queen-adolescence, you are really awesome.

Watching you this year in cheerleading is so much fun. Your confidence level grows by leaps and bounds. You have found an inner strength that has been amazing to watch.

This year you want to be an interior designer. The things you design in minecraft and sims4 are incredible. Scary smart doesn’t even begin to cover how bright you are. I’m watching you discover your intellect and learn how to use it. Stretch. Grow. You are capable of ANYTHING.

I love you so much, Munchkin. Don’t ever think you are too big to sit in my lap or lay your head on my shoulder. Keep inviting me to lunch. I’ll keep coming as long as you ask. I might sometimes act like I’ve got to move things around to make time, but I look forward to seeing you every time. I’m really enjoying middle school through your eyes. I hope it stays this good.

Keep growing.

Watch out for boys. And girls.. Be nice to everybody. Pray a LOT. Eat. I love you, babykins.

12

 

 

milestones

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first cry.

first smile.

first word.

first tooth.

first steps.

first scrape.

first loss.

first day of school.

first report card.

first failing grade.

first blue ribbon.

firsts.

….

Today is Munchkin’s fifth grade awards assembly…graduation, if you will. Not with caps and gowns, but a milestone nevertheless. It’s been a banner year. Perfect attendance, A/B Honor Roll, passing STAAR test with flying colors, being cast in The Wiz, making the cheer team, keeping school drama to a minimum, making new friends, winning two second place ribbons at Little Wildcat Relays. A really good year.

I am astounded elementary school is coming to an end. Tomorrow is the last day of school and then she’ll be a middle schooler. I would be lying if I said there wasn’t a bit of trepidation about this new chapter. Middle School is…well, Middle School. You can smell the crazy on them. (stolen from one of my favorite lines from The Avengers.) Literally. Middle Schoolers smell bad. DEODORANT, children. Sorry, I digress.

school pics

 

5th grade

Congratulations, Munchkin. Daddy & I are so proud of you! You are becoming an amazing young lady and we can’t wait to see what is next!

 

ps. This is what the three year old thought I meant when I said “use some magnets to put this on the refrigerator.”

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More

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I knew three was going to be more. More kisses. More snuggles. More laughter.

And, yes, I knew it would be more work. What I underestimated was how much more. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t wonder what on earth I got myself into and when I’m going to feel a little less overwhelmed.

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Overwhelmed by the mess.

Overwhelmed by the noise.

Overwhelmed by how tired I feel. All. The Time.

Who knew adding one more little person to the mix would add all this work?

I’m pretty sure I’m messing it up. The Boy cries when he’s tired. Or hungry. Or wants to be picked up. (which is all the time). Princess Crybaby is a tyrant. Munchkin is growing up too fast. WAY too fast.

Oh, and have I mentioned the mess? And the noise?

 

….SIGH…

Just when I feel like maybe I can’t take any more, they do this:

And then I laugh. And I do. Laugh, that is. A LOT.

There is a lot more of that, too. Delight at the beautiful young lady Munchkin is becoming. Amazement at how fast Princess Crybaby is learning and how incredibly smart she is. And the sheer joy of falling in love with a boy. (they really are SO different)

I read something the other day that said to have young children is to accept that, for a time, you just have to hunker down. And I guess that’s what I’m doing. I just hope I make it out alive. *laugh*

Quiet

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It’s a little before 5am. The house is quiet; everybody still sleeping. I’m sitting in the dark living room, finishing my first cup of coffee and thinking about a second. It’s a rare treat that I get to enjoy a cup of coffee in silence since the arrival of The Boy. Has it already been almost three months? Has it only been three months? He seems so much part of our lives that it’s hard to imagine him not here.

Princess Crybaby is good. The other night, Coach told her it was time to go to bed. She walks over, stands in front of his chair and says, “can we talk about this?” And that about sums up where she’s at. Everything has to be explained. She’s into the “I need reasons mother” phase. It’s obnoxious. And adorable.

Munchkin is in a play at the high school. Yesterday, I picked her up from the house to take her to rehearsal. I smiled inwardly as I noticed she’d taken great care to get ready. Her hair was arranged and there was a certain “big kid” air about her. A part of me sighs a little more each time I have the opportunity to witness this young girl transforming into a young lady. I am happy, of course, because that’s what she’s supposed to do, but still. Glimpses of the little girl are becoming a little more rare. This part is new for me, so I am trying to approach this with a certain air of conservative detachment. (yes, I made that up)

As we pulled into the high school parking lot, I asked her if she wanted me to drop her off or walk her in. (I kind of thought she’d just want to be dropped off – I mean, I’m MOM and she has started striking out on her own a little more…I didn’t want to cramp her style and I knew she was perfectly safe) Because it was right at 4 o’clock, there was still a lot of traffic – both people and cars. She asked if I’d walk her in. Playing it cool, I parked the car and she hopped out. This is our world – we spend a lot of time around Temple High School – so, as we walked through the parking lot, we chatted about rehearsal and what she would do when she was finished. I reminded her to turn her phone off during rehearsal (no, Munchkin, silent isn’t enough. If it accidentally goes off, you might get tossed off the stage… LOL – just kidding. kinda)…etc.

At this point, we’ve waded pretty far into the mass of humanity in the plaza outside the student center. It is all the sudden I feel a very close little shadow at my side. She leans into me a little and says, “there are so many people, Mommy,” and she takes my hand. It is then I am reminded that she is not so very grown up after all.

I smiled down at her and reminded her that they were just bigger versions of her and we navigated through the crowd and into the student center. I noticed the little bounce in her walk returned once she had ahold of my hand and it was all I could do not to kiss her head. (I know that would have been way over the “MOOOOOOOOM” line) Once we got inside the theatre, she slipped her hand out of mine and bounced off to her world in the theatre. The moment was over.

It was a sweet reminder that I still have a few years before I enter the uncool phase and she’ll struggle with her desire to be close to me and, at the same time, the need to be independent of me.

So much in which to delight. Mine is a cup that overflows. And that’s why the floors are sticky.

But, for now, it’s dark. And quiet. And you can’t see the piles of laundry still not finished (as if), and the dishwasher that’s full of clean and the sink almost full of dirty (I think they multiply like tribbles when we aren’t looking), and the …. well, you get my point.

And my coffee cup needs a refill.

The clock ticks

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The clock ticks

I don’t want to be a stay at home mom. I thought I did. I used to be. But I don’t anymore. This is not a post about the pros and/or cons of staying at home. This is about me. Because it’s my blog. LOL

I stayed home with Munchkin until she was two. It was, circumstances aside, Amazing and super rewarding. Being able to watch her develop and learn real-time was incredible. When I went back to work, we both had a very hard transition. Becoming a single parent necessitated going back to work. I will tell you, in our experience, two was too late to introduce daycare. Munchkin suffered terrible separation anxiety and every transition issue you can imagine. This compounded my own personal guilt at not being able to continue the plan of staying home with her until prek; illogical as it would prove to be. I felt like I failed her by not being able to sustain the plan.

Princess Crybaby was a daycare kid from six weeks. She did not experience separation anxiety the same way and she missed a lot of the transition issues her sister went through. She is not a hitter, or a biter, and potty training was a breeze. She gets along well with classmates and is, overall, very accepting of adult caregivers. All of this could be personality and have little to do with early socialization. Certainly well-socialized kids still hit and bite, struggle with potty training and have terrible separation anxiety. Shoot, who knows how The Boy will shake out. (So far so good, though)

As I was pregnant with The Boy, then, scenarios went through my mind of staying home; both with and without some kind of income. I felt some measure of sadness as I accepted the reality that finances and our chosen lifestyle just wouldn’t permit me to stay home without some kind of income, and legitimate work-at-home jobs seem scarce or hard to find.

Once The Boy arrived, it was quite different. I found the long days at home very lonely, blissful as they were, with only The Boy for company. I found myself craving a creative outlet, but felt too tired and attention-torn to focus on anything. I started to feel a little crazy without regular, adult conversation. I started rearranging the house, cleaning and organizing. That makes my husband VERY nervous.

I realized that my wanting to stay at home was less about the kids and more about me.

Now that I’ve gone back to work, albeit only a couple of days back, I find I am happier and more satisfied during the day. Of course I miss the children and can’t wait to see them at the end of the day, but I get that much-needed creative exercise. And, being home with the kids all evening isn’t exhausting, because I haven’t already been with them all day… I can still be a good mom and not be home all day.

I believe God uses our circumstances to gently teach us. I am pretty over the idea of a God who beats us over the head in order to bend us to His will, or employs the “because I said so,” style of leadership; blaring truth through loud speakers. He was gentle (and silent) in this circumstance; allowing me to discover for myself that His plan (going back to work) really is in my best interests.

So if you, Dear Reader, are sitting and watching the clock tick, sit tight. Search your heart for how you feel and where you see God leading. Try not to get too hung up on the why; I think it becomes apparent, but sometimes not until you’ve moved past.

disclaimer: I am a skeptic. I love The Lord with my whole heart, but confess to asking a LOT of questions. I have invested in fleeces, because it seems like I have frequent opportunities to use them. Thankfully, I worship the God of the universe: big enough to put up with all my obnoxious questions, and small enough to take the time to answer them.

Brilliant..now be yourself

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My dearest, most precious Munchkin –

You are 11. What? When did that happen? When did you go from this tiny thing with the biggest eyes that took in every detail of every minute of every day to this amazingly beautiful, incredibly brilliant not-as-old-as-she-thinks-she-is-but-older-than-I’m-ready-for-her-to-be? You are spectacular. You are irritating. You are incredibly self-possessed and insecure – at the same time – it’s maddening.

You are a natural at nearly everything you try (except people, but that’ll come in time). You are a beautiful dancer. Elegant and graceful. You take to nearly every new activity like you were born to do it.

You are growing into a beautiful person. You drive us crazy because you are so dramatic, but that is part of who you are and I wouldn’t change it if I could. Because then you would be somebody else. And that’s just no bueno. (mmm, bueno. Taco Bueno – we should do that again. Soon)

Things you love:

  • Minecraft
  • your iPad
  • your little sister
  • your little brother (who you haven’t even met yet)
  • Subway
  • Mio
  • Harry Potter
  • Hamburger helper

Things you hate:

  • Peas
  • Most green vegetables
  • Anything that even sounds like in a former life it might have been spicy
  • “plain” water
  • taking direction
  • being wrong (sorry, kid – you get that from me)

You are a brilliant girl. Now, be yourself. Stop chasing so hard after all those silly little girls who will NEVER be you. You are one of the smartest people I’ve ever met. Acting dumb isn’t pretty and it just smells fake on you. (like that tween-stink perfume that your little sister got into and smeared all over her cousin.) STOP IT. Just relax. Let God continue that good work he began in you. Trust your parents. Don’t talk back. (really. it’s obnoxious)

And know that I love you. To the moon and back.

 

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Enough is Enough

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Be warned: this is my soapbox. There are many like it, but this one is mine. I am heartily sick of the “Temple ISD needs better communication.” “Temple ISD needs to do more to get the word out about their successes.” For the record, I was Communication Director for almost six years. The two that have followed me can probably tell many of the same stories; even in their short tenures. They are ONE person. They can (and DO) work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; forsaking time with family and friends, their health, enough rest, their own personal opinion and much of their privacy to get out the “good word.” They take hundreds of pictures, post hundreds of Facebook posts and tweets, maintain a website, send school messenger messages, hustle to get articles above the fold in the newspaper and on, and on, and on, and on. The cycle of work NEVER ENDS. And still, people complain. I have more than a dozen awards that prove Temple ISD is doing Communication RIGHT.

The ONLY way the “perception” about Temple ISD will EVER change is when parents and staff in the district who are part of the success (even the baby steps) stand up and say, “ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.” When parents, students and staff say, “I don’t know what Temple ISD you’re talking about – that’s not what I live and see every. single. day. At the end of the day, people who like to bash Temple are bashing 8500 CHILDREN. That is my daughter. 1300 employees working every single day for children. That is my husband and I’m SICK of it.

Temple ISD is an EXCELLENT school district. Is it perfect? Is anything? You show me a perfect school district and I’ll show you a perfect church. It doesn’t exist. Yes, there are all the problems of public education; balancing the needs of so many children with radically different instructional, emotional and physical needs, but there are also miracles (big and small) happening in every classroom – in every hallway – in every school in the district. Yes, there are stellar teachers and there are those who need to find something else to do. (but can’t that be said for ANY business – anywhere?) But the very things that make Temple a challenging place to live, teach and learn are the very things that prepare children for what is OUT THERE. People who look different. Who talk differently. Who worship nothing. Or something else entirely. 

I’m not on the payroll anymore and I never will be again. Those doors have closed and I’m ok with that. Yes, I miss the people. Yes, I miss the stories. But it is becoming abundantly clear that I can be more effective as a mom, wife and citizen, than I EVER was as spokesperson. 

My mother taught hundreds of students that communication is the responsibility of the sender. I took that to heart. When I couldn’t break through the web of lies, ghosts of a past that may or may not have ever existed (aka. “The Good old days of Temple”), a time of upheaval that seemed to be never-ending, an uncertain, but optimistic, future, and the inevitable mistakes of living, breathing humans; I would change tactics. Adding more and more and more to my plate as I tried and tried to figure out the magic formula for making a difference in what seemed to be an insurmountable task.

*sigh*

Look, I obviously don’t know all the answers. What I do know is that there are an awful lot of people, working really hard to make a difference in the lives of children and it breaks my heart to hear that the only message that gets through is the ugly. The hard. The sad. What if we only told the stories about when our children failed? When our spouse made us angry? No stories of forgiveness. No stories of redemption. No second-chances. Just condemnation. It poisons the very air we breathe when we focus only on the bad. We must find the good stories and TELL THEM. SHOUT THEM. Never stop letting people know that, yes, I disagree with the way this is done or the way that conflict turned out, but MY GOD, she’s making straight A’s in Math and, when I take the time to do something nice for these people who are with my headstrong, uber-bright Alpha-child for 8 hours a day – along with hundreds of other children, all of the frustration from that parent-teacher conference disappears and we are reminded that we are on the same side!

So here is my story for the day:

Last night, Munchkin (now in 5th grade) was finishing up homework. One of her assignments was to write a list of historic events and she was frustrated because “social studies is just not her thing” and she didn’t really know what to do. (in the words of one of my co-workers at the office: this was a sprinkle on top of an 8-layer cake) After digging with lots of questions, I finally get that they are going to write a short story around a historic event and this is, evidently, ground-work for that story.

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Then, she shows me the warm-up they did earlier in the day (I’m guessing as an intro to this assignment). “If you could go back to any point in history and talk to any historic character, who would it be…” She chose Rosa Parks (I was impressed, by the way). Well, this centered the discussion around the Civil Rights Movement. LIGHTBULB! So, we start looking up civil rights milestones and she finds a great timeline. She’s only 11 and hasn’t had that much exposure to this particular topic. Some of it is, frankly, pretty grisly, so I stay with her to talk through it. This leads to a really cool discussion about Brown v. Board of Education. What could have been a facebook rant about the lack of information she brought home in order to correctly do this assignment, or the same “kids have too much homework” rant that’s been played out hundreds of times, I had an opportunity to take a few minutes to sit at the table with her, looking up stuff on her iPad and talk to her about another time in the history of our country. At one point, she asked me, “How do you know all this stuff?” And I told her, “because I had good teachers who made me do stuff like this all the time.” Betcha Mr. Hall didn’t really plan for that in his lesson plan for the day. Good job, Mr. Hall. Good job.

I yelled at my kids today

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It was NOT a good mommy morning.
I yelled at Princess Crybaby for dropping her cookies in the car.
I didn’t tell Munchkin “goodbye, I love you” when I dropped her off. I told her to be good and mind her own business.
I mumbled something huffy under my breath when I had to find the compact cards for Coach.
I feel like I failed as a human being today by being a complete bitch. I’m going to make something yummy for dinner tonight, to make up for my awful-ness this morning. And read bedtime stories.
And, yes, I’m trying not to cry about it, but I’m not doing a very good job.
I’m tired of being pregnant. I feel fat, my uterus feels like it’s starting to fall out and I DO NOT want to hear another person tell me how quickly September is going to go by because I might punch them in the throat.
I’m terrified about having three little people need me – at the same time- to help them get ready for the world when I, myself, feel like such a tangled mess.
I’d like to go back to bed, please. I’m being unkind and that’s the same crap I yelled at Munchkin for.

Routine

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alarm-clockI will freely admit I am a type-A personality. (PR people like stating the obvious) I like routine. I dislike disorder. So, summer’s “what do you want to do?” “I dunno. What do you want to do?” schedule makes me CRAZY. (and it doesn’t take much to accomplish that these days.)

So, I’m super excited school starts Monday. My children? Eh, not so much. I’ve been pushing morning wake-up earlier and earlier and I’m noticing two little grizzly bears emerging from where my daughters had been.

Lump it, kids. Momma can’t think when we’re in a hurry. Then I can’t ever find my keys and you KNOW how that works out. I call Daddy and start yelling on the phone. #truestory

Who’s betting I’ll start getting up BEFORE 5am; just to get a quiet moment with my coffee before I have to start wrangling kids. And that’s BEFORE we add The Boy. OMGosh. Somebody shoot me now.

invested

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When you are in a long-term relationship, you make certain investments in the relationship to help it grow. You give it your time and attention. You are careful to respect boundaries while still pursuing intimacy, trust and friendship. You work through bumps in the road together. You make certain concessions when the other party isn’t playing ball and hope they allow you the same courtesy. You never, ever quit. 

No. I’m not talking about my marriage.

I’m talking about school. I’m talking about our decision to trust our children to the public school system. To date, only one is currently enrolled in public school and she’s going into 5th grade this year. Our last year of elementary. Then…OMG…middle school. [excuse me while I take a moment to stuff that impending reality back into the dark corners of my mind; not to be thought of again for at least a few months…]

The last few years have been challenging. (to say the least) Oh, I’m not denying Munchkin’s culpability in creating and/or maintaining some of the drama through which we found ourselves wading. I’ve posted before about her amazing ability to find the most dramatic situation and implant herself smack dab in the middle of it. I’m also not denying there were things that were just part of another year of getting older, moving on, transitioning into another phase of childhood, etc.

What I AM saying is that there were some parts of the last couple of years where I felt a real sense of partnership and cooperation with the school and parts where I felt like I was dealing with avoidance, passive-aggressive behavior and constant conflict. Again, I will reassert that Munchkin can be something else and she IS entering the phase where she thinks she is more grown-up that she is and following those “little girl” rules are starting to pinch her, but she’s not mature enough to handle any more freedom. When she IS given freedom, she usually puts her foot in her mouth or makes some other dumb decision that, upon reflection, should have been foreseen by the adults in charge (ahem…us).

Academically, last year was an enormous catch-up, but the instruction was great. She made up all the ground she’d lost in the jumble of third grade math teachers and she gained and built on the spark ignited for reading and writing. Socially, my gawd I lived for weekends and holidays. I KNOW this is the age where girls hate each other with a venom that rivals the most poisonous animals on earth. Females can be vicious and cruel and we experienced both sides of that equation: Munchkin as victim AND Munchkin trying on the role of the spider. I watched her struggle with the seemingly endless cycle of cruelty. She was unhappy with her own behavior, but not mature enough to navigate away from it or work through it when it found her. I saw a side of her last year I hadn’t seen. I hope the experience worked itself out of her system and she is now content to go to school to learn; not be a gladiator. And yes, I know some of this is unavoidable. This cycle lives and breathes and grows freely in “good” and “bad” schools alike; public and private. So, no, I’m not looking at this through some kind of wonderland looking glass. The jabberwocky is everywhere.

Where I am hoping to see some measurable change is in the overall climate of the school. Teachers need to be supported by administration to demand respectful behavior in the classroom. Violence against one another MUST not be tolerated in any way.

Investment. Rather than pull her out and run to another school or district, we are going to stay in the fight and work through it. Because we have a relationship. Because Munchkin must learn that the way to handle your problems is not to run away from them but to roll up your sleeves and work HARD to fix them. Find a way to dialogue on topics you don’t understand or approve.

And I’m scared to death.

Scared to be “that mom.” Scared NOT to be “that mom.” Scared that not moving her to another school is going to automatically doom her to another awful year like I’m on the quest for the holy grail and her experience becomes collateral damage.

I just want to get it right.

 

 

This parenting stuff is hard, y’all.

Going all “one of THOSE moms”

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madyDisclaimer: If you are not in the mood for a smidge of a rant (ok, it’s pretty full-blown, but then it’ll be out of my system and I can go back to being a happy public school parent again), you should probably just come back another day.

So…..this day started as many days do – with Munchkin preferring to do just about anything over getting ready for school. She settled on an outfit that I would clean the garage or the bathrooms in, but it’s the last day of school so WHATEV, y’all. At least she brushed her hair and put earrings on. I dropped my girl off for the last day of 4th grade today, fully intending to meet her for ice cream around 1-ish with some friends.

I am happy we made it to the last day of school because this year has been a chore. Munchkin is coming into adolescence and she is trying on the mean girl routine. It grates on my nerves and breaks my heart because I KNOW she has to learn the hard way that being a $hit to people around her does NOTHING to engender the affections of the people who have to live in the same world as she. So, I’m ready for a summer away from all of her normal crowd, where she will put her nice girl outfit back on and behave like we who love her KNOW she can (caring, kind, sensitive, a great helper and a really sweet little girl), and pray some of it sticks to a little older and (hopefully) a little more mature Munchkin once hell school starts back up in August.

I’m working. It’s work. I would prefer to be at home, getting ready for our vacation, but I’m at work. And that’s ok. I have a good job that gives me a paycheck and doesn’t make me cry or want to drink. And then…………I see on Facebook where a friend and fellow mom is on her way to the FOURTH GRADE AWARDS?!! WTHeck? What awards? I scroll back through my email, calendar and even go (even though I KNOW there isn’t going to be anything on it) to the campus calendar on the website. Nope. Nada. So, I call the school and, sure enough, there IS a 4th grade awards ceremony in 10 minutes. I jump up and race to the school. Thankfully, we live in a small town and the lights were all working in my favor today (yes, I’m feeling rather Hunger Games-ish) and I made it in time not to miss anything. (Good thing too because her class went first.)

Munchkin got a Reading Achievement award which I thought was very neat. (Being an avid reader myself, it DELIGHTS me to see Munchkin’s passion for the stacks growing) The ceremony itself was only about 15 minutes long and there was a only handful of parents there; confirming that it wasn’t just me who was unaware of the morning’s activity. (The parent who had tipped me off said her daughter had called her less than an hour before the event and told her)

This is where “That Mom” moment comes in so bear with me. Like I said, I have to get it out of my system. I am fully willing to believe this event was sprung on the teachers, at the last minute, with little time for collaboration or comprehensive coverage of the kids in the grade. Munchkin has good teachers who have worked very hard this year with, as I understand it (and am sorry since one of “them” was mine), a difficult bunch of kids who seemed to thrive on drama as much as water and air. BUT. It felt halfway done. And not just because it was NOT communicated at all. Each teacher had different awards. Some children in some classes received Honor Roll awards and then some didn’t. Some were recognized for test achievement and some weren’t. Some awards received certificates and some medals. And, a LOT of children received nothing. It seemed like nobody really wanted to be there and everybody was a bit uncomfortable. The kids sat on the floor, crammed together in a space that would have been more appropriate to a pre-k bunch than a bunch of lanky almost fifth graders who are all legs and mouths. Munchkin’s reading achievement award was her only certificate this year, but it shouldn’t have been. She made all A’s ALL YEAR in Math, Science and Social Studies. She participated in the Honor Choir and, with the exception of being counted tardy (by about 20 minutes) for attending a pep rally at the high school with me (then, the Director of Communication for the district) Perfect Attendance. She was Commended in Reading on the STAAR and made a 20 point improvement on the Math STAAR.

You know what? I get that Munchkin is challenging. I get it. She sometimes tries to manipulate people and situations to suit her pursuits but has not yet gained enough maturity to learn that, most of the time, that is grossly inappropriate and not something people who care about other people do. She tries to fit in when she should just be content to be herself. She is already walking that stupid path of girldom that says you must be like ______________, you must dress like ________________, you must act like _______________ in order to be “someone.” Well, y’all, I never fit in like that – no matter how hard I tried, and neither will Munchkin.

But there was an opportunity to recognize her for what she IS good at today – academics. But they didn’t do that, spending a LOT of time, instead, on conduct awards. Behaving at school IS important and I’m not trying to take ANYTHING away from the children who are more compliant. Absolutely not. (I’m mad, but I’m not THAT mom) Do I sometimes wish Munchkin was a little less….Munchkin-like and a little more….somebody/something else? I would by LYING if I said it never went through my head. But then she wouldn’t be Munchkin, would she? She would be somebody else and losing that brilliant little flame is just unacceptable to me; even it it meant all Excellence in Conduct awards and an end to the headaches and “Um, Mrs. Fridaynightgirl, may we speak with you a moment about Munchkin” calls.

*sigh* Venting my spleen is hard work, ya know?

Munchkin is a beautiful girl. She is brilliant. She is a gifted dancer, actress and a pretty good singer too. She loves her little sister to the moon and back and, despite the season of perpetual chaos she seems to bring to every conversation and encounter, she IS a very good little person in the making. And, for that, I love her. Endlessly. And I don’t need any certificate or award or medal to show her how proud I am that, despite the 10,000th screw up, rolled eyes, sucking teeth or smart-a$$ remark, she always comes back to say she’s sorry. She loves us. And can she try again.

And that’s better than any damn certificate.

I got nothin’

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I’m tired. It’s been a crazy, hectic week; to be followed by a hectic Friday and Saturday before I can relax. I am SO thankful, though, for the holiday weekend. So, today’s post is a whole lot of nothin’. Nothin’ funny. Nothin’ sappy. Nothin’ inspiring.

I’m empty today. Well, that’s not true. I have a baby boy the size of a bell pepper hanging around that I’m trying to get to know, two little girls who light up my life with their fireworks every day, and a husband who delights, completes and overjoys me. I have friends who encourage me, family that holds me close and faith that keeps me afloat. I have Jesus.

You know what, maybe I’m not so empty after all.

mommy

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Today is Wednesday. I woke up to the sound of Princess Crybaby whining in her bed. I let her whine. She woke up happy this morning and I didn’t wake up with feet in my ribs. I’d call that a success! Downside to whining at 2:30? Preggers Mommy can’t go right back to sleep. SO, I feel a little dazed this morning. I’m hoping coffee will solve it. *grin*

Overall, things are going well. I need to come up with a nickname for baby #3 for the blog – any suggestions? I feel great (besides still being uber-tired and HUNGRY a lot of the time). I don’t know why, but I feel like this is our boy. This pregnancy is so different from the girls. Virtually no morning sickness, food cravings not involving sweets, exceptional tiredness, but overall a piece of cake so far.  This baby is going really easy on me. Maybe this baby will be my sweet, compliant son. Why are you laughing? 

The girls are good. Munchkin finishes standardized state testing today. I’m confident she’s done well. She’s a smart kid and she has good teachers. The entire testing system is ridiculous, but I don’t have a good solution beyond abolishing it, so I’ll just be thankful to have a child who performs well and doesn’t seem to suffer very much at these things.

Princess Crybaby is growing like a freaking weed. I think, in the last month, her arms and legs have sprouted – all the spring dresses we bought her before Easter already require leggings underneath; and not just because this weather is schizophrenic. It was 80 Monday; 45 today. She hasn’t even been able to hardly wear them because it’s been so up and down and the ups turn down in the middle of the day so I’m never confident she won’t be cold. URGH. Ready for summer.

It’s cold in my office, but it’s always cold in here so it’s hardly worth remarking. I have decided to bring lamps in here. These florescent lights are driving me crazy. Other than that, work is good. I’ve created some projects that are keeping me busy enough not to mind being stationary. Boy, that’s probably the single biggest change. Being in one place all day long. I don’t know that I’ve had a job where I didn’t get out and travel since my very first job out of college.

There are so many things I could blog about, but haven’t found a way to articulate them so, for now, I’ll just wait (or put them behind a password).

Talking to Myself

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I’ve decided there are some things I just shouldn’t say until I’ve heard them outside my head first. I think people over-estimate the ability of “professional communicators” to effectively communicate in every situation. There are some situations where I cannot remove my own personal bias. My own personal emotional triggers. But people assume that, because they’ve seen me clearly, calmly and non-emotionally communicate every type of situation for my job, I will also carry that same level of detachment into every conversation. Well, here’s a newsflash. What they see is the FINAL draft. A distilled version of the Real.

The most important part of the process to create authentic communication (in my opinion) is finding a voice that is relatable. Showing enough emotion to demonstrate compassion and empathy without muddying the water. Getting the facts straight is a given. So, what happens when that emotional line is too close to the surface? When I haven’t had enough time to process through my emotions to get to a rational, centered (*cough* level path) response? Or, my systematic beliefs differ from those with whom I’m communicating? That’s where the task of communication becomes drastically more difficult. And I find I’m all out of answers.

*sigh*

That brings me to talking to myself. An English teacher of my youth always advised reading a written thing out loud so you could hear any weird syntax errors or oddly structured sentences/paragraphs. I’ve taken this advice to heart and, to this day, no written communication leaves my desk until it’s been read out loud. Quality control, you might say. That has somehow spilled over into my spoken presentation as well. Sometimes, something sounded good in my head, but once I get it outside I realize how dumb/angry/defensive/flippant/whatever I sound. That is a red flag to change my approach BEFORE I say it in the course of a conversation and hurt somebody’s feelings. Mom says that’s part of growing up. (please don’t remind me that I’m the mom now.)

This brings me to today. I have a conversation planned with a teacher. A friend. An excellent educator. One I hold in the highest esteem. But. (yes, Mom, I know what that means) She’s taken exception to a certain pattern of behavior and I don’t really understand at a level I can intelligently relay back to Munchkin the expectations to achieve a satisfactory “grade.” (Yes, I know it’s February – this just started happening, ok?) So we are meeting this afternoon. [insert ominous music here] The dreaded parent-teacher conference. Not because of any academic reason. But because there seems to be a disconnect in their expectation, my perception and Munchkin’s performance.

I readily admit Munchkin can be a challenge. A bright, shiny, wonderful, exasperating, infuriating, delightfully brilliant challenge. She is my joy and my truest test of patience. I easily identify places where I have not been as consistent, but I also acknowledge never giving up; always admitting my lapse and picking the gauntlet back up and getting back in the fight. Because it’s worth it. She is worth it. Mercy so, but I love her – how could I do anything less? She deserves my absolute best effort. And I think, MOST of the time, that’s what I give her. And, while there are days where I want to rip my hair out or grind my teeth into dust, I see so many flashes of the incredible heart and spirit of that child; I KNOW I am on the right track.

So, how do I effectively advocate for her when I’ve heard one side of the story and taking responsibility for one’s behavior is our current battleground learning opportunity at home? How do I balance needing to give her the benefit of the doubt and partnering with the school in teaching Munchkin to respect the rules set forth by ALL adults; even the rules we (meaning mom) think are stupid/illogical/irrational/impossible? How do I separate my loathing of the Stepford method of classroom management adopted by the District and the need to keep order in a classroom filled with children; some with no sense of discipline at all? How do I keep from coming off as “that Mom” who never thinks her kid does anything wrong; while still raising a red flag and saying, “Come now, let’s reason together?”

I talk to myself. That’s how. I spend a great part of the day practicing how I will communicate that I think asking a child (any child; not just my child) to sit still and quiet and never get up and never blurt out and never talk above a whisper and automatically know (at 10) how to be kind, patient, fair, unselfish and how to NOT be immature or otherwise obnoxious all day, every single day is STUPID, IRRATIONAL and UNREALISTIC. That I think the conduct grade is nothing more than a math formula; lacking any kind of big-picture, whole child LOGIC or COMMON SENSE at all; solely based on a number of “offenses” divided by the number of days in a grading period. 9 marks; regardless of the severity (or lack of) is considered “not satisfactory.” 9 marks in six weeks. That’s one a week, with three exceptions where you get two. I don’t know that I could go five days without somebody telling me (when I was 10) to sit down, Regina; raise your hand, Regina; please let them do their own work, Regina. That’s three in 10 seconds. I’d be branded a trouble-maker too. Shoot, I don’t know if I could do that NOW.

Like I said before, I’m NOT saying she is never difficult. Lord knows that would be laughable. And I’m also not saying I don’t want to know when she’s disrupting instruction with her impulsiveness. I want to know when she fails to be kind, patient, fair and unselfish; or she’s being immature or otherwise obnoxious. That is part training up her character. But talking? Laughing? Being out of her seat? What am I supposed to do with that at 6 o’clock at night; when the offense happened at 10am? Kind of makes you want to throw your hands up, doesn’t it?

I guess I have a little more talking to do. I’m glad this conference isn’t until this afternoon. I’ve got all day to figure it out.cat-lion-mirror-image

Routine

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Munchkin has STAAR test tomorrow. She’s a big third grader and that’s the year testing starts. I’ve read all the recommendations for pre-test meals and bedtimes.. And, I’m a rebel. What can I say? Other than bed a little early, we kept the routine pretty normal. Otherwise, it would make her nervous. My goodness, she’s like me.

I remember the night before the All-State auditions; my senior year in high school. The music was Mozart’s Requiem and I’d made 1st Chair Region and 2nd Chair Area. Everybody said I should sit in steam, drink hot tea and lots of water to conserve my voice. Well, they’d all been to all-state and I hadn’t. That night and the morning of the auditions, I did exactly what they said to do. As the minutes passed in the warm steam, I could feel myself getting more focused on the upcoming auditions and my anxiety rising.

I got to the first audition and I drew last in my group. Great. Have I mentioned I hate waiting? Needless to say, I bombed my first audition. Totally went in and completely tripped over my own feet (vocally, that is). SO. Being certain I’d just destroyed my chance to make All State Choir, I sat down and had a slice of pizza and a Dr. Pepper. I drew first in my group for my last two auditions. I’d come this far so I went ahead and sang through. I was relaxed (heck, what did I have to lose, right?) so I felt like I could leave happy – maybe I’d make alternate.

That was the year I made 1st Chair in the All State Choir.

Moral of the Story? Don’t change the routine or you’ll freak yourself out.

So, tomorrow is a big academic milestone for Munchkin. She’s ready. She did well on her benchmarks. She’s smart. She’s a problem-solver. She’ll do fine. But she is a WHOLE lot like me. So, we didn’t change the menu. I didn’t keep her from the iPad (her favorite after-school distraction). She went to bed about 30 minutes early. But that’s all.

And tomorrow, she’ll be fine. Maybe a few butterflies because she’s my kid (and we have a tendency to over-think things), but it won’t be because we went all crazy over a test.

One of our Assistant Superintendents talks about when he was a campus principal and one of his parents got all upset because he didn’t send anything home before the test so they could “get ready.” Calmly, he looked at her and responded, “well, ma’am – your children have been ready for some time. There really isn’t anything else for you to do. It’s just one test.” I like that.

Living in Crazyville

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I’m not sure, but I’m beginning to think Crazyville isn’t just some silly name I came up with when I was designing this blog. I’m pretty sure it’s one of the more accurate labels I could put on our life.

Working in the school district, I get spring break off. During spring break, it became abundantly clear how desperately I’d been craving some downtime. We didn’t go anywhere and just being home, with no games, meetings, appointments, dance classes, work functions, WHATEVER was amazing. It was probably more time together, as a whole family – maybe ever. Crazyville.

Then, school started again and immediately we were right back up to our eardrums in all of the above. I woke up Tuesday morning after spring break and that knot at the base of my neck was back. In less than 48 hours. Crazyville.

Then, you come to something like our crazy day today. (incidentally, from the time I posted the diagram of my afternoon to now, the picture has changed three times) Crazyville.

How do we simplify? Coach can’t stop being a coach. Well, he could but that’s like telling me to stop singing. I tried that for a season and all the color went out of my life. Not an option.

I can’t stop doing my job. Well, I could but what would I be gaining other than some free time? And, who’s to say it would work? I am a high-octane personality who tends to grow my job into a high-octane job; no matter where I am. My job today is significantly bigger than when I inherited it – I did that.

We could stop taking Munchkin to extra activities but I don’t think anybody would accuse us of overscheduling our kids with extra-curriculars.

And Princess Crybaby is just a toddler along for the ride.

This may just be a season that we’ll grow out of (or just have to live through). All in all, we have a great life – just a busy life. Crazyville.

Where is John Madden when you need him?

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Normally, most afternoons are not THIS nutty. Today is a special case, though, so I thought it appropriate to post it; for safe-keeping. That way, when people say to me, “boy, you look tired,” I can point to this and say, “well YEAH.”

Short weeks are fun, aren’t they?

Excuse me, do you have gruel on the kids’ menu?

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I have beautiful children.  Would you like one (or both) of them?  *giggle*

Just kidding.  Yes, really.    Although Princess Crybaby has started screeching at us.  Now, I know you’re saying to yourself, “but Mom, you’ve been talking about your pterodactyl for almost two years.  How is this any different?”  And to that I tell you “meat, madam.  Meat.” (that’s from Oliver)

Meat, madam, meat. You’ve overfed him, madam. You’ve raised an artificial spirit in the boy unbecoming of his station in life. If you’d kept him on gruel, madam, this would never have happened.

Really.  I think the key to docile children must be how much meat they eat.  There might be something to that gruel diet after all.

Y’all know I’m kidding, right? 
*arching eyebrow* 

Christmas is over – thank goodness!

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*whew* Thank goodness that’s over! 

Christmas IS my favorite time of year.  It is an amazing opportunity to rest, recharge and reconnect with family and friends.  It is a time to celebrate the birth of our Savior.  It is a time to enjoy good food, the cutest decorations of the year and PRESENTS!  *giggle*  (sorry, channeling my inner 9-year old)

Monday we go back to work; the kids are back Wednesday.  On one hand, I’m ready to go back.  The kids are getting stir crazy with only boring mommy & daddy for entertainment.  And mommy needs something to do all day but pick up KIX cereal and bananas off the floor. 

On the other hand, I love being home.  This is the only time of year I see so much of everybody.  During our regularly scheduled craziness, there just isn’t time to sit on the couch and watch a movie together, or play a playstation game together unless we schedule it. 

Munchkin is sitting on the couch, practicing her cursive in a notebook.  She’s ready to go back too.  She’s excited and curious to meet her new math/homeroom teacher.  She’s been reading like a true crazy-viller. 

Princess Crybaby is currently wearing her coat.  Not that we’re leaving; she just wants to wear it.  She’s got her cup in her hand and she’s dragging her ride-on whateveritscalled around.  We should have gotten her a wagon. 

Coach is playing his online game.  He’s like a level 75 super-hunter.  I am a wimpy little level 22 (almost 23). 

And yours truly is sitting on the couch, touching her blog for the first time since…well, before Christmas.

So, while I’m glad the cooking, endless cleaning (because you never know who’s coming over) and wrapping and cleaning up presents is over, it’s been simply heavenly to rest and recharge. 

Tonight is New Year’s Eve.  As a family, we are setting goals tonight.  Wellness, family time, and whatever else we think of.  More on that later. 

For now, toodles!

Flying Monkeys (a.k.a. air travel with young children)

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 Tips for toddler travel: lots of stuff to do. WAY more than you think they’ll need. Headphones and a portable video device were a life saver when we traveled with Munchkin (3.5 hour flight to Jersey every year since she was 3). Color, read, play with dolls, look out the window, give them a disposable camera to play with, save a few things they’ve never seen (new coloring books, NEW crayons, Crayola Color Magic stuff, new story books, etc) for once you get in the air so you can capitalize on their curiosity with new things.

It was my experience keeping Munchkin up (trying to make them extra sleepy) backfired every time. Munchkin was so curious about the flight, even though she was exhausted, she would fight sleep. Then, she was a sleepy mess.  I made sure she’d had extra sleep (just the opposite) so, even if she didn’t sleep she wasn’t tired and cranky. (one less thing to fight with) Oh, and snacks. LOTS of snacks. 

WHEN they get tired of all your glorious efforts, walk them up and down the aisles periodically. They’ll appreciate the movement.
ps. And if you are an adult NOT traveling with small children, try to remember when your kids were little and LIGHTEN UP. Little kids are GOING to be curious about their surroundings, a little fearful of all the strangers, restless about being pinned up and maybe even a little uncomfortable with the pressure changes.  MOST parents go through a LOT of agony preparing to fly with small children and YOU behaving badly because all their carefully planned efforts have failed is NOT helping.  
 

The Urge to Cut

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I’m growing my hair out. Yes, I know it looks nicer, more professional, etc at a chin-length, stacked bob. BUT. I’m planning to audition for Oliver at the Temole Civic Theatre in (I guess) December and I don’t think chin length was “in” back in Dickens-era England. The growing process is EXCRUCIATING. I have a lot of hair and this fluffy mess is very tedious to get together in the mornings. I know this is the worst part. I will survive. Speaking of musicals, Munchkin made the Honor Choir at her school! YEAH, Munchkin! Now there will be even more singing in the house. And dancing, too since she’s taking dance. Now before you go all over-scheduled on me, dance is thirty minutes, twice a week. In this awful, unending heat, it gives her a way to get active in a way she loves and it furthers HER goal to be a Kitten at Temple High School. She still has plenty of time to do homework, play and relax after school. Coach was invited to work with goalkeepers in the local clubs and thats a huge win for him. He’s been working on that a while now. So to be invited to a regular gig is a huge success. He talked about, maybe in the future, taking on a team but he’s got a lot of after school responsibilities with Yearbook that sometimes just pop up so having a regular gig outside of school isn’t really possible right now. So Munchkin is watching Jem and the Holograms. It makes me laugh to see her watch a show I enjoyed so much as a girl myself. *laugh*Ok, it’s time to get everybody corralled for the morning. Have a great day!

That time of year again

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June is here. 

Graduation is in the books, along with another school year. 

June 1 was my 4th birthday as a WILDCAT. 

It’s time to switch from school year omgosh-hair-on-fire-frantic to summer not-as-frantic-frantic. 

Munchkin leaves for the East in 13 days.

Reorganizing and redecorating Munchkin’s room begins in 14 days.  (I’m really looking forward to this)

Rite of Passage

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I can’t believe the day is here. A day I’ve talked about as far, far away for her whole life. No, she’s not graduating from high school. Drivers license? Nope. First date? Not yet. So what is this momentous occasion, you may ask?

Munchkin is finally old enough to…gulp…get her ears pierced.

I’ve been telling her since she was old enough to notice earrings she could have them in third grade. Well, that was simply ages away so it felt like a nice, safe target. A few months ago, Munchkin pointed out to me that she would be a third grader at the end of this school year. Hmmm…true. Realizing there was no more putting it off, I set the appointment. And here we are.

This makes me think about how fast she’s growing up. It seems like only yesterday she was learning to walk, talk, run, and all of the other milestones. Before I have time to take three breaths, it will be time to register her for high school, drivers Ed, graduation, college visits….ok, you get the idea…

How do we slow this down? I guess we can’t. We take lots of pictures, keep a blog and stay on our knees so we have lots of guidance on raising uber-bright, exceptionally beautiful wunder-kids at the speed of light.

This summer, while she is gone, I will undertake my annual redecoration project in her room. She’s decided she wants a “big kid” room. She has chosen only a few toys to keep, preferring to trade the space for a new art easel and a tv/dvd player. This year, she had a hand in choosing the colors and theme (turquoise and zebra print) – something I’ve always done for her.

This brings me back to today. She chose her new haircut (a cute little jaw-length layered bob).

My baby girl is growing up. Father, give me wisdom. Give me patience. Give me a sense of humor. AMEN.

Pole Position

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I can remember that game – Pole Position – my brother and I played it all the time!  (he almost always won)  It was a cool racing game before racing games were cool.  haha  The point of the game, of course, was to maneuver your car into first place and win.  You did this by racing around corners at badly animated speeds.  (well, bad compared to now)

Looking ahead to this week, I can already see an exhausted me at the end of it.  We’ve come to the part of the year where we have something almost every night; sometimes two or three things.  It’s pole position – just in real life; with better graphics, no music and people instead of cars – maneuvering around obstacles and insane curves (schedules), trying to get to the finish line (friday night).

Monday night, I have my standing meeting for the bond.  (and there is a board meeting but I can’t go to both)  Wednesday after school is Munchkin’s dentist appointment. Thursday before work is an appointment I’m looking forward to.  Thursday afternoon is the egg stuffing party for our staff easter egg roll.  This weekend already has plans rolling too.

We are less than a month from early voting.  This rush of information has been good practice and helped me really hone my time-management and organizational skills.  I’ve always had the ability and I really good at pulling off the impossible (most of the time) but I’ve certainly been able to put that ability on the test track with this bond to where it is an all-the-time endeavor, rather than a project-based focus.

Even though it’s crazy busy, life is really good.  I made an appointment at the end of May for an all-girl day with Munchkin before school is out.  We’ll go to lunch (anybody know a fru-fru place open on Saturdays, in Temple?), haircuts and new nail polish at the salon then, the day I’ve been promising for going on five years – I’m going to let M get her ears pierced.  That way, she’ll be a few weeks into the routine before she goes to her dad’s house for the summer.  We’ll be a week from summer break (I told her she could get them the summer before third grade).  It will be our special day.  I will probably cry.  (because I’m a sap like that)

I’ve got to get her registered for summer arts camp at the CAC before too long and find somewhere for Princess Crybaby to be during the summer since her daycare is through the school district and it’s only during the school year.

Also on my Munchkin list – she is asking about baptism so we’re going to make an appointment for her to sit down with Brother Andy (our pastor) to talk about what baptism is and why it’s important.  Then we’ll know she’s really ready.

*whew* I’m going to be ready for a vacation or something after May 14.  Hold on, folks – here comes another corner!

Haha – follow up

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Ok, the great thing about dialogue is the realization things are not as they seem.

I received a very nice email from Munchkin’s teacher this evening stating the issue with the conduct grade was a typo. 

I reassured her the purpose of dialogue is discovery so all is well.
We are still going to meet to discuss the brilliant child.  But I’m sure glad the conduct grade, at this point, is ok.

Wanting a Dr. Pepper and debating helicopter parenting

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That was a random title.  Yes, I know. 

So, I get these wonderful grade triggers for Munchkin’s grades.  I have a trigger set to let me know when there is something that goes in so there won’t be surprises at the end of the six weeks.  99% of the time, Munchkin’s grades are stellar.  Conduct grades seem to be the place where she struggles. 

I’ve said a number of times I’m looking forward to not getting the “tattle-tale” sheet home every day with a smiley face (or something else).  Yes, I know we can help reinforce good classroom behavior by being consistent with behavior at home.  And we do.  But, when push comes to shove, I’m NOT in that classroom from 7:30am-3pm and, therefore, am NOT in control of behavior – that’s the teacher’s world and her responsibility.  Am I wrong here?

Frankly, I’m a little weary of getting the little notes home letting me know she “was a little too talkative” or “had a hard time sitting still” or, my favorite, “had a hard time getting along with classmates.”  That’s not to say we won’t hold her accountable for her behavior BUT what can I really do?   The best discipline is immediate reinforcement.  Up to eight hours after the whatever it was that irked the teacher that day is a little after-the-fact and totally counterproductive. 

We’ve done retesting on her for our exceptionally gifted program.  She was 10 points from qualifying.  What that says to me is that, while I’m glad she’s getting that enrichment one day a week, what happens the other four days when she’s NOT getting that higher level of learning?  Giving her extra work isn’t the way to go either. 

I don’t know the right answer.  I feel like it’s my responsibility, as her mother, to make sure she’s getting what she needs.  I won’t make excuses for her behavior but she is BORED.  I’ve read enough about super-bright kids to know the danger we face if she remains habitually unchallenged at school.  She will begin to check out. 

I’ve asked/offered to send workbooks, story books, etc. to school with her but have been told they would be a distraction and my requests were always politely declined.  I don’t know what else to do at this point. 

We will meet with her teacher, principal and the elementary advanced academic facilitator who tested her.  Hopefully, between the group of us, we can figure out how to help Munchkin enjoy school and NOT be a fartknocker. 

*sigh*  This parenting gig is tricky, you know?

Finding her way through the tangle

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Have I mentioned Munchkin is one of the brightest children I’ve ever encountered? She loves bigger than most too. This can make for an explosive combination.

Last week, I was told I isolate myself.  I have a theory about that and it comes from watching Munchkin try and find her way through the tangle of social relationships.

Munchkin often finds herself on the wrong side of a little disagreement between girls. All girls do this. But what few know, is that Munchkin, even when she instigated it, takes it very hard that she cannot figure out how to be with the “in” crowd.

I remember that sense of hurt and bewilderment that I’d somehow said something wrong – again.  Even if I imitated behaviors I’d observed, when it came out of my mouth, it came across as bossy or mean-spirited.

As smart as I was, I often found myself alone because of this inability to translate the social behaviors of my classmates into my own personality.  Books became my friends. I couldn’t understand how to communicate my longing for friendship and so I tucked it away until I got older and could surround myself with like-minded people who understood my intentions, even when I didn’t always say it right.

In some ways, it was a very lonely childhood. I am thankful God gave me a brother with whom I could truly be friends.  I also had a few very close friends on whom I could truly rely.

Since Munchkin is already so much older than her sister, I trust God will bring her a friend; a sister of the heart.

I am still a solitary creature. Some of those childhood lessons left pretty painful scars that leave me cautious around those I don’t know.  I like to feel out the temperature of a room before I enter it. I try to avoid those who sow dissent and division.  I despise duplicity. And while I have become very good at communication, my black and white perspective on character can still make me hesitant to reach out when I’ve watched them practice gossip, slander, selfishness, and all other manner of hatefulness. 

People still confuse me.  I hope she will do as a child what took me a lot longer to achieve: the ability to overlook the failings of the human heart; especially her own, in order to make friends.