Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I'm Not Crazy - or - The Difference a Teacher Can Make

School last year was a nightmare for Big Boy #1.

For some unknown reason, it seemed that BB1's third grade teacher was intent to prove that he was nothing special - and he absolutely absorbed her message. BB1 is normally a strong, confident student. But last year he would say things like "I read like a baby!" or "I hate school!" or "I'm stupid!" Her evaluations seemed rigid and when she assessed him her results always seemed off to me. It was enough to make me doubt my own observations. Was I crazy?

When he wasn't putting himself down, he was raging at home. It was like it took everything he had to hold it together in school, and once he got home he would let it all go. I would look at him and think "Something is NOT right!" It was beyond frustrating for me and had brought me to tears on multiple occasions. I was worried. Seriously worried.

Diamond kept saying; "Let's wait to see what happens next year, with a different teacher."

Oh what a difference a teacher can make!!!

This year BB1 comes home all kinds of chatty about school. He's never been one to talk about what he did in school, but he's so excited about what they have been doing that he can't help himself. He thinks about what he is learning outside of school, piping up with random things like "Did you know that the state flower is a Columbine? Isn't that COOL?" I'm not sure what this teacher is doing right, but, WOW! He is back to liking school, liking learning, and most of all, liking himself.

At home, he is a different kid. The meltdowns have all but disappeared. The bitterness, the defensiveness, the hostility - all back to reasonable amounts. I can't say he is perfect, but he has returned to the helpful, fun kid that I used to know. It's like I can breathe again.

So maybe I'm not crazy after all!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Lessons from my Mother-in-Law

We had the great pleasure of having Diamond's parents in town over the weekend. As the mother of three boys, I have taken mental notes of how to be a mother-in-law from Diamond's mom. Here's what I've learned so far:

Learn how to play the "Brush Your Teeth" song on the piano. It's always a crowd pleaser.

Buy them ice-cream, Sonic slushies and pizza. (Grandpa sure helped out on this one!)

Happily walk to the grandkids school and "oh" and "ah" over how cool their classrooms are.

And have a great relationship with your daughter-in-law. It seems that every time we see Diamond's parents, Ann takes the time to pull me aside and tell me that she thinks I am doing a great job raising our boys. (And she does that with a straight face!) Her sincere compliments always mean so much to me. She is supportive and loving to me as a person, as a mother, and as her daughter-in-law.

I sometimes worry that my future daughter-in-laws will find me thoroughly aggravating. However, if I can manage to follow Ann's example, I think I might actually do alright.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Any Ideas?

With all the volatility in the stock market this past week, I'm tempted to pull our money and just put it in the bank.

Wait. No. The banks are failing. Um, let's see.

Maybe we should just cash out and hide $20 bills throughout the house. Diamond's grandma hid $20 bills between each piece of her china during the Great Depression. (It was a major score for my mother-in-law who inherited the family china!)

Wait. Didn't I just hear that the government is printing more cash, which means inflation? Well, that idea doesn't seem particularly secure either.

Anyone have any better ideas?

Saturday, September 13, 2008

An Only Child?

While I was holding the Caboose, Big Boy #1 came over and started cuddling up to me.

"No! MY Mommy!"

Um, hate to break it to your Caboose, but you've got no monopoly on that one.

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Tonight on MSNBC they have been replaying the original news footage from 9/11. It's almost painful to hear Katie Couric say things like "We've got an update from our correspondent in Washington D.C." or "There are unconfirmed reports of a plane crashing in Pennsylvania." And when a camera zoomed in on a whole group of fire fighters walking toward the Trade Towers, a little cry escaped from my chest.

Hearing it all unfold again brings back so much of that old pain. However, it also calls other emotions to the front. Gratitude being top on the list.

I certainly don't say it (or even think it) enough. But, thank you to all of the fire fighters who run into the burning buildings to get other people out.
Thank you to the military who take themselves away from their families and put themselves into harms way so that I can be safely home my family.

And thank you, to those past and present, who have created a legacy of freedom and opportunity which I proudly share with my family.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Left to Tell is a powerful book about the Rwandan genocide of 1994. As a former Geography teacher, who taught a unit on modern day genocides, I found the book fascinating. While the book does not spare the reader from the horror of what happen that fateful summer, it maintains a message of hope. Similar to The Hiding Place, Left to Tell relates the deeply spiritual journey of one of its victims. Left to Tell relays both the best and the worst of human nature. I'm equally mystified by the viciousness of the killers as the peace and love Immacule was able to find.

I also just finished I Need Chocolate with that Diagnsis written by my friend Sara Johnson. The title alone makes me love her! This book tells of Sara's journey of faith and hope as she fought her infertility. I have to admit that I felt a tad guilty as I read this book. It was like I was reading her diary! When I have read memoirs in the past, I didn't know the person, and there was a measure of distance in that. In this book, I was finding out ALL about my friend. If I ever get around to writing a book about my life, I'm not so sure I want anyone to read it. Hmm, well, maybe I'll just skip writing that book altogether.

Next? Maybe These Is My Words??? Has anyone read that?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

S is for School

After two and a half months of summer break, the boys are BACK IN SCHOOL!

I did my best to begin summer with some structure and a positive attitude. We had daily chores and daily activities. However, it seemed that the positive attitude began to wane about the same time that our schedule fell apart. The Olympics did us in, and the last two weeks have felt really, um, long.

But as of today they are back into a routine. And tonight, for the first time in months, the boys were sound asleep by 8:30.

Who ever said that Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year?