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And the Painful Truth Shall Set You Free….


John and I both had splitting headaches all day.

Kids seemed fine, but we felt awful. I was worried we’d been exposed to something and were coming down sick.

On top of that, the last two days I just haven’t been able to get going in the morning as well. John felt the same. I kept thinking today, what’s wrong with me? I can’t get focused like usual.

Well, with a howl from John tonight, we discovered why.

My emergency run to the store for coffee Saturday night (because there was no way I wanted to do without coffee Sunday morning) was not as fruitful as I thought. I accidentally grabbed decaf……!

Categories: Family, Humor

Under the Tree


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Categories: 'Tis the Season, Family

Parents, Please Volunteer…


As families feel the crunch of the economy, one of the sectors that is suffering is volunteering.  It seems as people become fearful, they don’t just stop spending, they stop giving anything, even time.   I ran right smack into that wall yesterday at my kids’ school.

Parents, you want things to happen for your kids.  You ask, please don’t cancel this tradition or that.  Please take office.  Please raise money. Please have a PTO so we have a voice.

But the fact is, in many cases there’s only one or two of us doing the work.  And no one is stepping up to help us. Most of us are work at home moms or work flex schedules.  I hear stupid things like I can’t, I have 3 kids.  Well our president has 6 kids from 3rd through 12th grade.  Don’t give me that bs.

I believe it is your duty as a parent to volunteer at your kids’ school at least once a semester.  Don’t give me any crap about how you pay taxes and shouldn’t have to.  Especially when I know darn well some of you don’t pay taxes.  Taxes alone are not enough anymore. If you value pleasant memories and community events that involve school, you have to be a part of it.  You have to.

Be the solution you want to see.  Stop expecting others to do it for you.

When You’re Finally A Rock Star…


My darling daughter came home last Friday with the request that I just had to make a hat for her classmate for her birthday yesterday.  Say what…? I have four shows this month that I’m trying to get ready for and a deadline to meet tomorrow.

Over the years, several of her friends have received one of my fun hats for their birthdays, usually when we attend a party.  I don’t know any of these kids’ birthdays unless I’m dragged to a party.

So anyway, someone in her circle who hadn’t gotten one of my hats yet in all these years finally approached Jess and actually asked if she could please have one for her birthday too, even though she wasn’t having a party.  (sigh) They’re in middle school and they’ve all practically grown up together since they began school.

So I said **NO**.

Of course I didn’t! My daughter picked out the yarn and I made her friend an ear hat Sunday night.  Had her wrap it though.

I have to admit, it can be flattering when your kids and their friends think your stuff is so cool they just gotta have it.  Though I wish the timing were better since I’m trying to get ready for shows.

Then all the girls decided they would all wear the hats I’ve made them to school today.  And they actually did.  I think even Coach wore hers.  I just wish I had a photo.

Then my daughter comes home and tells me, “Oh Mommy, it was great.  Everyone LOVES your hats.  And oh yeah, the boys are feeling left out too.  Michael wants one that says Texas Tech for Christmas.  Even Zach said he’d wear one.”

“And which kind would that be, the one that looks like it has a pony tail, or one with ears?”  I ask.

“I don’t know.  And there’s also Marley (in the rock band) and…..”

“Jess! Do your friends know how much my hats cost?”

“Well, no, but they are hoping you’ll be at the school Christmas bazaar….”

errrghh….

Yeah, always awesome when your kids volunteer you for birthdays and Christmas.

If I end up making hats for the entire 8th grade, they better drop my name around a few times…..

I Fixed It! My Piano ‘n Me…


Today I fixed my antique piano.  It’s the Gulbransen 1936 upright piano that my Aunt Kerry gave me when I was like 10 years old.  It was originally from her family, but she was not using it and I’d shown promise at piano.  She gave it to me under one condition.  If I were to ever decide I did not want it, it had to come back to her family.  This has never been a problem, since I have never wanted to be without it since it came home with me.  This piano and I have been through so much together.

Today, my son loves to play on it as well.  But we started noticing that two of the keys did not want to play.  A little known secret is that before I found out I was pregnant with my first child, I was pursuing becoming a member of the local piano technician’s guild.  Pregnancy (and massive morning “all day” sickness) rather changed my immediate plans and birth my long term ones.  But I have never forgotten, and never become discouraged at, the idea of someday returning to those plans and accomplishing my goal to learn not only how to tune pianos, but fix them.

Anyway, today I got a wild hair.  You see, occasionally there are tunes in my head.  And when they make their presence known, these tunes have to get out of my head or I won’t get much done.  My piano is always my remedy for that. But today, one of the notes I needed was broken.

Perhaps it was due to my penchant for seeing how things work and fixing things.  Perhaps it was the recent class I took at The Crochet Liberation Front’s crochet conference/retreat, learning to not only make my own hooks, but fix hooks I haven’t been able to use in years because the wood had split.  My teacher was Jim Price, an excellent teacher and a master hook maker.  It removed my fear of repairing any wood hook that comes into my possession.  Perhaps it was recent events that proved to me that often when we hesitate out of too much caution, we never live and we miss valuable things.  Perhaps it’s my shift towards not putting up with over planning or hiring someone else every time anymore.  I don’t know.  But with a tune in my head, inspiration hit and I needed to pull that piano apart and figure out what was wrong.

I grabbed grandpa’s old screw driver and started pulling things apart.

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After getting through layers of dust, I discovered that parts that used to be glued together had come loose and were no longer glued together.  I have no idea what they used in 1936, but I headed to Home Depot and picked up a tube of Liquid Nails.  It wasn’t the easiest fix in the world, but largely because of several moving parts and not really having all the right tools.  I had to pull the whole mechanism out to get to the parts, and without enough space in my home to work (one of the reasons I hadn’t yet returned to the idea) I had to use my bed as a work space.  However, I managed to isolate the broken parts, pull them out and restructure them.  Took a little doing to get everything back, but it’s done and better than ever.

If there’s one thing this experience has taught me, it’s past time to get me a tuning hammer!

Categories: Family, Music

The Mud Show at Texas Renaissance Festival


Today I was chaperon for my son’s 6th grade school field trip to Texas Renaissance Festival in Plantersville, TX.  I went two years ago when it was my daughter’s turn.  This year I got to see the Mud Show, which I missed previously before.  It was very good! It was one of the very few things that I turned and found my son grinning ear to ear during.  The Mud Show is a comedy act between to “beggars” that takes place in a mud pit.

Categories: Family

The Hidden Disability – Chapter 5


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Here are a few approaches that seem to help our son most.

1) He goes to a charter school with shorter hours and more individual attention.  The very nature of this school also reduces the stress of being picked on by his classmates.  The day is shorter and there are fewer kids to provide that kind of “input.”

2) We begin homework pretty much immediately after school.  It is too hard for him to break too long from the “educational momentum” started at school. But we build in breaks either through 5-10 minute computer “game” exercises for his therapy, or shifting the homework subject.  Some are more right brained while others are more left brained.   I’ve discovered that he just cannot take a nap and be expected to function well for homework afterward.  I don’t know why, but it’s very real.

3) We provide the main structure for him.  This is the lot of parents anyway, and of course as kids get older we provide less and less as they learn to provide structure for themselves.  In this case, we still handle a certain amount to help him organize his activities since he already has hurdles most children just do not have.  This is always approached with the goal in mind that he must become autonomous and not always need this help.  So there’s a lot of evaluation and re-evaluation as to where we let go a bit more.  I mainly help him organize his schedule and order of tasks.  He cannot yet recognize when he’s hitting that wall and needs to switch subjects.  It helps if an adult is helping with structuring his time and activities.  Homework due the next day is done first.  Harder subjects also first.  Items that have a few days to complete get paced over time as much as possible.

4) The more he is exposed to other students (older boys in particular) who desire good grades and have a good homework ethic, the more he also values and desires to emulate that.  Especially slightly older boys.

5) We never compromise diet or sleep for homework.  If that means consequences, that’s what it means.  There comes a point he has to want it.  I also am adamant about this from my own experience of sacrificing sleep and nutrition for grades.  I literally woke up one day and could not move.  Regarded as a child prodigy, I nearly lost everything I worked hard for because my immune system burned out.  The human body repairs itself and grows only during sleep.  And honestly, I worry for children today with the amount of stress is simply considered “normal.”

6) Life enrichment is essential to everything else, including homework success.  Kids need life skills too.  They need time to spend with family, time to do chores, time to learn how to cook, how to sew a button, and time to relax and play.  We also try to feed his passions as a reward.  When you find what that is, it’s an excellent motivator as well.  We all need little successes in life for encouragement, and we all need things we can believe in and see that somehow we matter.  This is no different for kids.  Many cases of children helping to tutor other children reflect the success of this.

7) Lots of communication and relationship building with teachers.  Makes a huge difference.
I’m sure there is more I will want to add to this, but for now I delay this no longer and put it out there.  I hope by sharing our story that it somehow helps you too.

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5

Categories: Education, Family, Kids, motherhood
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