Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Assigned School Projects for Home

As a teacher, I like the idea of projects for families to do with their children. Projects provide connections between home and school and are a time for the kids to share what they're learning and for parents to spend quality time with them.

Switching hats, as a mom, I confess that projects can be annoying. Finding the materials, finding the time, pestering the kid, and being tempted to just do it yourself can ruin the fun of any project. That quality time with your kid becomes a nightmare.

Currently, Zoe has a book report project due for her ELA class and a project display board for her academic challenge class. Yes, we have known about both projects for about a month. One project was due this week and the other deadline right around the corner. No, we had not started putting anything together before this week. We had talked about what she was going to do, but the actually doing part was lacking.

This week though with some unexpected snow days, I have had a blast working with Zoe on the projects. I LOVE the book summary assignment where they had to choose a container and include 5-6 objects that represent the book, write a summary, and be prepared to present their book. Zoe chose a mystery book that took place in a replica of the Titanic so this is her finished project...

We had so much fun spray painting, discussing the story elements, choosing the objects, and putting it all together. Even Dylan got in and helped us making some of the Titanic's elements work. I'm amazed at Zoe's creativity. She has such great ideas and I love listening to her thoughts. Oh and as a teacher-mom I was thrilled with her book summary. She is such a great writer too.  That probably comes with her ability to tell such great stories!

Enough bragging.

Today, we are conquering our second project. We started yesterday and realized we were some glycerin and paint short.

Thank goodness for snow days!!!

How do you feel about homework projects??

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Mother's just know

Always follow your mother's intuition. I finally understand what my mom meant when she would tell me she "just knows things." This week, I just knew. 

Dylan received an iPhone at the beginning of the school year. He comes home by himself and we don't have a home phone so we agreed he would get an iPhone for his 14th birthday.  That way Zoe could get his hand me down phone to have in the house in case there were times when she would get home and Dylan was not already here. While I know some parents who actually have written contracts for cell phones, Dave and I just agreed on some boundaries with Dylan. First and foremost, the phone belongs to us. It is our property. At any time we can take the phone for a random phone check. We can (and will) look at messages, photos, apps, and anything else we want. Because after is OUR phone. Over the last 6 months we've had frequent phone checks. Dylan would laugh because he said he was always nervous even though there wasn't anything to be nervous about. And there wasn't.

Skip forward to this week:
I had a feeling. I knew it was time for a phone check. So I went in, said "random phone check" and saw an absolute panic come across my teenagers face. A look that made my stomach sink. I knew this wasn't going to be just an ordinary phone check. And it wasn't.

As a parent blogger, as my kids have grown older I've had to decide what to share and what not. They deserve their privacy. So to protect my son's privacy I'm not going to share his story, but only mine.

My son grabbed me and gave me a hug of somebody who was fighting for his life. I could feel his desperation. As we hugged, everything came out. I knew everything I would find on the phone.

I couldn't think. I wasn't ready. 

I sat and listened. I cried. I didn't let him go. He didn't let me go.
After about a half hour we finally parted and I left with the phone.
As I did the usual phone check, I felt sick.

My son who I had worked so hard to protect had been put in some situations that I did not think he would be in. At least not at 14. Nothing that was earth changing and thankfully nothing that would have consequences beyond embarrassment. To be honest, to some it may not have even been a big deal at all, but to our family it was big enough.

It was parenting showtime. Time to have some more talks. Deeper talks.
So we did.

It's been an awkward week. I know my son is embarrassed and I am sad. We had a couple quiet breakfasts and evenings. But, I didn't let him shut me out. I hugged him. I told him I loved him and that nothing would change that.

As the week has gone by, things are getting back to normal, thankfully. I'm getting my boy back. A little older. A little wiser. But, I'm getting him back. As things have settled I can't help, but think he wanted us to know. He wanted advice. He wanted us to help him. I'm glad that I just knew.

It would have been easier to not look at the phone. It would have been easier to not have the conversations. It would have been easier to just ignore. But, I love my kid too much. 

So for all my friends who are in the same boat with me of parenting teenagers, STAY STRONG! Stay involved. Keep talking. Keep being a parent. It's not going to be easy, but it will be worth it.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Kid Conversations

The radio was playing a song which led to this conversation with Dylan...

Dylan: "Hey, this song is on my iPhone. I never ordered it, but when I got my phone it was already on there. I like it."

Me: "Huh. Who sings it?"

Dylan: "Some band I've never heard of...U2. It's just a 'U' with a number '2'. I actually have a few songs of theirs that was on my iPhone. They're not too bad."

Me: "Oh U2. They've been around for awhile. Pretty popular"

Dylan: "Oh I thought it was a new band or something."

Dare I ask about Paul McCartney?

Friday, January 16, 2015

When did I get old enough for my kid to go to high school?

I feel like I'm still 18.
So how can I possibly have a kid headed to high school next fall?

One of my first posts was my little boy beginning Kindergarten.
Now I'm writing about him getting ready for high school!
Somebody stop the time!

This past December, Dave and I attended a parent information night at the high school to learn about the pathways that students are expected to choose in 8th grade to follow throughout high school. Pressure much? 

Dylan had visited the high school that day and came home very overwhelmed with all the choices. He was extremely nervous thinking this was going to be one of the most important decisions of his life. We assured him that really it wouldn't be. Not even close. So we started by eliminating pathways; performing arts acting and vocal, nursing, construction, vet, sports medicine, etc.

That narrowed it down to three: Performing Arts Instrumental, Communication Arts, and Pre-Engineering. We then started discussing career interests.  Dylan has always said he wants to eventually create the music for video games. He's also expressed interest in teaching music, which I'm sure is due to the amazing band teachers he's had during elementary and middle school. We discussed though how this is a very focused major.  We explained that if he keeps up with his piano lessons and is part of band he will still keep progressing in music. He decided to cut Communication Arts as he was not too interested in graphic design, which was the focus of the classes. That left us with Pre-Engineering. Of course this pathway only accepts a limited number of applicants so now we are keeping our fingers crossed.

He has gathered the recommendations, completed the applications, wrote his essay, and submitted it all this week. Now we wait.

Next up, attending the scheduling meeting at the end of this month.

Who knew that high school planning started in the middle of 8th grade?
Exciting times as I know Dylan is off to great place, but this is one nervous mama!

Thursday, January 15, 2015

I don't feel like a kid anymore...

...that is what Zoe told me last night and it brought tears to my eyes.

On the way home from gymnastics, out of the blue, Zoe asked if I was the one that moved our elf. I asked, "why" and she said, "just tell me the truth." I evaded the question. She again said, "just tell me the truth." So I did.

Through the sobbing, I could hear her saying, "I should have just kept it a wonder. I didn't want to really know the truth."

Then came the other questions. What about Santa? Easter Bunny? Tooth Fairy?  So I told her.

This past Christmas I read The Truth About Santa and I thought about how when the time came I would totally steal the letter. So I did. When we got home I held her tight while she read the letter and more tears came. I told her how we were all Santa and by helping her believe we were able to share in the Christmas magic. She was surprised to hear that her brother knew the truth, but still shared in the elf antics and Santa stories. We talked about the Christmas magic comes from seeing other people happy. Giving. Sharing. Caring.

Then, my sweet little girl, said "Thank You." As she realized where the Santa presents really came from she said she couldn't believe we would do all that for her. She gave me a big hug and told me she loved me. Both of us were crying then.

I will confess that through the ordeal I wondered if we had done the right thing. Was it right to "lie" to her all those years? Did I cause her pain that she didn't really need to ever encounter?

Then I think about all the love, magic, hope, and happiness that was shared each year. That was priceless.

It's going to be different this year. It will be interesting.
But, rest assured Santa will be stopping at our house again!

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