Posted in HomeSchool Summer, Motherhood

Wow, so… it’s been three months…

…and a lot has gone incredibly off track since then. School has ended. It’s been one of the most difficult years I’ve ever had as a teacher. That’s saying something considering my first class was a “trial by fire” with some of the biggest behavior problems in the school in that class. I miss those guys. I felt like craziness, at the time, but I look back on that year and think about how well we meshed and how much support I had. I haven’t had it since. Part of that may be moving to Savannah from rural North Georgia, but even if I don’t count that first year (Lord knows the state of GA doesn’t!), the culture of the classroom has changed so much in the last 14 years…

*waves her hand* I’m not going to babble about that. It’s summer break. Time to let it go and move on! Me and my fidget spinner are embarking on a new world!

You see, both of my girls need academic help this summer. Tadpole doesn’t know even 50 sight words. Peanut has trouble with comprehension on things she’s not interested in reading. Tadpole needs to learn addition facts, Peanut needs to learn multiplication facts. Both have been promoted, both are going to need A TON of help unless I can turn this around for them this summer.

Translation, I’m trading a traditional classroom for a homeschool classroom for a few months.

While this sounds easy, I know it’s not going to be. Sure, I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education. Even more, I have 3 additional certifications! One in Reading, one in Science, and one in Gifted Education. I have a certification for Brain-Based Teaching and I have been trained on all the latest technology and… I can’t get these two to keep their rooms clean! *rubs her temples*

So, I’ve spent the last few weeks establishing my attack strategies. Starting tomorrow, we will be on a home school schedule every day. It will begin at 8 AM, when the girls grab their Rise and Shine Binders and begin their morning work. Breakfast will be eaten before this (or during this) and it is VERY INVOLVED in the morning work department. I’ve already differentiated (ugh, that word during the summer!!!) their Morning Math, Vocabulary, and Reading assignments. I’ve added a reading goal using the Tower of Books Challenge (20 books in 8 weeks isn’t bad!). I’ve added comprehension strategies using a single text and a more difficult reading passage by incorporating Trifold Read-Its but focusing on an easy phonics concept. I’ve added more difficult reading strategies and questions for Peanut, and I’m focusing on basic story elements with Tadpole. I have journals for them to write in, complete with a new digital camera for each of them (it was cheap, don’t start thinking I’ve hit the lottery) that will have journal entries written about each picture taken, as well as handwriting practice! I will have them online at alternating times, giving me one-on-one time with each kid to make sure they’re understanding what I’m throwing at them. Peanut will be on Moby Max Learning, Prodigy, XtraMath, or Sumdog; Tadpole on ABCMouse, ABCya, XtraMath, and RazKids.

I’m looking for field trips, from the super organized stuff like the local Forts to the beach and Chuck E Cheese. I’ve built in recess time, read aloud time, library time, independent reading time… I’ve written lesson plans.

 

*sighs*

 

And I’m praying that all of this will balance with enough fun stuff to equal a good summer AND academic growth for next year. It starts tomorrow. Yes, on Memorial Day. Guess what we’re going to be researching and visiting tomorrow??

Posted in 2017, Motherhood

Let your kid be a monster!

That was a total buzzy title, wasn’t it? No, I’m not advocating badly behaved children, here. Sorry if you were hoping to get justification of your kid’s temper tantrums in the grocery store. You’re not going to get it here!

No, what you’re going to get here is a note about letting your kid be who they want to be. This is one area I like to think I excel at, with some slight limitations, of course. Let me introduce you to my girls…

DSC_7308

My oldest, Peanut, is 9 this year. When she was younger, she wanted to be just like my sister. So much so that my sister nicknamed her, “Prissy.” Naturally, my sister became “Aunt Prissy” because if Peanut was being Prissy and acting just like her, then… um… yeah. She loved pink stuff, loved wearing clothes that were frilly and ruffly, enjoyed glamming up everything! She hit about 4 and that started changing. Her teacher spent a month talking about dinosaurs and my little prissy girl was gone, forever! In her place was this confident, excited, little girl who loved everything about dinosaurs! Then she started watching Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles on TV and that was awesome, too! She’s loved dragons her whole life, but suddenly, they weren’t just beautiful things in stories! How to Train Your Dragon made them so much more! Since then, she’s been into Transformers, Legos, and, most recently, Minecraft! She loves building things and got her first set of building blocks at the ripe old age of 18 months! There’s been no turning back, my friends! When she turned 7 and could get “big girl Legos,” HOLY COW! Now she’s 9 and there’s not a single block she’s too young to own! She wants all of the Minecraft kits! I was picked on this weekend for not having Legos of my own and HAZED by my own 9 year old for cackling like a kid because the dragon’s tail was articulated and could move! I’m not even joking! She rolled her eyes at me and told me I was being silly! (Then I didn’t let her play with my dragon because she was picking on me! HA! Take that!) For Halloween, this year, she wanted to be Bumblebee from the Transformers!

Now, let me stop right there for a second. You see, my poor baby girl tells people she should’ve been born a boy because she likes all of that stuff. Her self-esteem is in the toilet, because, as a girl, kids don’t “get” her. She likes all the stuff that the boys like, so conversations with girls who are excited about things like lip gloss and American Girl dolls is just difficult, to say the least. Talking to boys isn’t easy, either, because they can’t understand why a girl would be interested in these things. It breaks my heart and I have fought this with the kids in her class for years, talking about how awesome Star Wars is and arguing about which superhero movie came out first. I want them to see that a grown woman can have this conversation, so why is it strange that a girl their own age can, too. Why does my 9 year old have to feel out of place because she doesn’t fit society’s mold of what’s acceptable for a girl? Why does she have to feel like an outcast because not only is she interested in really complex things, but she’s also gifted in the engineering department and can explain how those things work! She can argue about the structure of things like no one I’ve ever met, my husband included! Sometimes even he, a contracted air craft engineer, has to acknowledge that she’s right and he’s wrong! SHE’S 9! Why is this BAD?! Who the hell decided that it was BAD?! Why can’t I punch them? I have made it my life’s work making sure that beautiful girl understands that she can be smart, interested in building and physics, dragons and dinosaurs, and IT’S NOT WEIRD for her to do so! And when I find the person who’s made her life this difficult so young, I will make you pay for every tear she’s shed about this!

Why? BECAUSE I BOUGHT THAT GIRL A BUMBLEBEE COSTUME and she FREAKIN’ ROCKED IT for Halloween! And she was happy about it, too!

Tadpole's first pedicure

Then, let me introduce you to my youngest, Tadpole, who is 5 this year. This is my princess. Every convention you hear associated with girls, this one lives and breathes! She loves mani-pedi day, refuses to wear a skirt that isn’t “foofy,” would wear a tiara and high heels every day if I let her, plays with dolls, and collects what she calls “mama stuff” for her baby.  If it sparkles, she loves it! She is drawn to makeup and “smelly stuff,” and wants me to share mine every morning before school. Her favorite color is pink! She loves Monster High, Ever After High, and My Little Pony.  She’s only interested in Legos because they’ve started making Monster High kits! She sings, plays her bright pink guitar like a rock star, and even named her guinea pig, “Princess.” What did she want to be for Halloween? The Queen of Hearts! That skirt was so thick in tulle she took up about 3 feet of space when she stood up!

Now, time to stop here. After that last diatribe about my oldest daughter, you’re expecting me to rant about her “girlishness.” You’re not going to find that, I’m afraid. You see, that’s who she is. She is all about everything that is “fantastic” and I refuse to make her feel bad for that, any more than I make her sister feel bad for her dinosaur addiction! No one will ever pick on her for not being girly enough. No one will ever shake their head at her for not being what they expect and she’ll never have that “I don’t fit in” moment like her sister. My little general will tell you exactly what’s wrong with that idea, anyway. Everyone accepts Tadpole, everyone adores Tadpole. I’m glad for that, in a big way, though a small part of me knows that, some day, she’s going to find the people that don’t accept her or don’t like her and it’s going to hurt her very deeply. Like her mother, she feels every negative thing soul-deep. You fuss at her for ANYTHING, even something small like not putting her plate in the sink, and she’ll squish up her face and cry. She’s not trying to manipulate you, either. She’s genuinely upset that you’re angry with her! I fear for her heart in the years to come, I do.

AND IT’S FINE!

Do you know why it’s fine? Because I firmly believe in letting my girls be whatever monster they want to be! I make sure the oldest one is wearing underwear and that the youngest has something on her legs when it’s cold, but otherwise, they are their own people. Just as they should be! It’s my job as their mother to help make them comfortable in their own skin, to accept themselves for the person they chose to become, to not be influenced by what people think they “should” be doing, but by what they’re comfortable with doing. I’m not here to be their friend and I make sure they are adhering to common decency expectations (“please,” “thank you,” “yes, ma’am,” “no, sir,”… that’s the least of it!). I’m teaching them to be hard working, to not expect things to be given to them, and to be sympathetic to the needs of others. I’m (trying) to teach them organization and clean spaces (hahaha… trying to teach myself, too!). What I refuse to teach them, however, is that society’s version of what is acceptable is correct. Why? Because it’s not. Not even close. What is acceptable? Acceptance, itself.

For those of you who know my girls, please take this to heart. They do not conform to society’s ideals. I’m making sure they don’t even know what those are. But, if their manners are lacking, please point it out! I need them to hear that it’s not acceptable from someone else, too, so they know I’m not just making it up. If their behavior is not in keeping with the fundamental idea of treating people with kindness, I want to know!

I am a very nice person. I avoid confrontation ALL THE TIME! However, if you try to tell Peanut she’s not normal, I will be all over you. If you try to tell Tadpole that she’s too girly, I will make you wish you’d kept your opinions to yourself. I am ruthless when it comes to my girls. Let there be no mistake. They, and you, are completely free to…

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Until next time,

~Tiff

 

Posted in 2017, About me, Growth Mindset, Motherhood, Optimum Health, Tired of being Tired, Word of the Month

My Word for the January 2017: Growth

I’ve decided, rather than pick a word for the whole year, I’m going to pick one for each month and work towards achieving that word by the end of it. I’m going to tailor my Level 10 Life towards that word, in the hopes that using that word as a focus will help me move towards achieving it.

My word for this month is 7bd1f3842c7da29a4d2e0ef6fad3dfdc.

Dictionary.com defines growth as: the act or process, or a manner of growing; development; gradual increase.

So, how does that apply to the Level 10 Life concept? Well, there are 10 areas of the L10L concept and all you have to do is apply that word to each one. Here is an example circular spread I found online (here) to show you the 10 areas:

wheel-of-life

 

Well, let’s walk through it:

Area 1- Family and Friends= Growing my relationship with my family and friends has a lot to do with interacting with them. I’m going to do this a few ways this month: dating my family, writing letters to my brother and to a friend I’ve been horrible about keeping up with, and continuing to pray for their well being each night.

Area 2- Personal Growth and Development= the word is right there, people! In my case, I’m going to do this by working my way through Growth Mindset trainings and books to get as close to proficient in it as possible! I will probably have to put off starting my Masters until Summer so I can afford it, which makes me angry, but… nothing I can do about that.

Area 3- Spirituality= I need to learn how to meditate. Research and implementation will begin this week. In some ways, this can be Personal Growth, too, so there’s that!

Area 4-Finances= I suck with money, let’s just get that out, now. I pay my bills, but the rest… yeah. This will be the year that changes. On January 1st, I set up a savings account and I will put money in it every time I get paid. My goal is to have $1,000 sitting in that account for emergencies by the end of the year. I’m growing the habit of being conscious of money. I also need to get back on the coupon bandwagon. That’s another goal on my 100 things list!

Area 5- Career/Business= I’m applying that Growth Mindset to my daily life, even in my classroom. My class will be learning it with me, and I will try to take each day with the opportunity to grow in mind in my classroom. There’s so much to learn from each class. I need to remember that, too.

Area 6-Significant Other= I’m going to date my husband and spend time with him, just us!

Area 7-Fun & Recreation= I’m doing some work this winter learning about plants and seeds. You may not consider it fun, but I totally do. I’m dating my family, which is, by definition, fun. I’m also working on my 100 things list, which has a ton of fun things on it. My growth in this area is mostly in trying things and getting my backside off the couch!

Area 8- Contribution/Giving= A donation to the United Way is taken out of my paycheck every two weeks. That’s rather passive. I want to grow in this area, too. I’d like to attack the people at school, honestly. Start a “Random Acts” kind of thing where I just do something nice for a random person. I like seeing people’s faces when they are on the receiving end of it. I handed the guy I buy my newspapers from an extra $20 the other day. He’s a really nice guy who caught me in a math blunder and, instead of being a jerk about it, he was actually very gracious in his correction. I owed him some of that money, but, more importantly, I know he needs the money and I had it to spare. The smile on his face was totally worth it.

Area 9- Health/Fitness= I fell off the wagon with my health plan in the last few months and I need to get back on it. Since it’ll be easier once my schedule is back to normal, I will start this when I get back to work. I also want to hit 10K steps every day and to do that I’ll need to go for a walk every evening. There’s a really nasty weather system moving through this week, so I also need to clean up my treadmill and get it moved into the house so I can actually use it. This is my growth area here this month.

Area 10-Physical Environment= Holy cow! I need to get my physical space back in order. Something I’ve learned about depression, mostly by living it, is that when it hits you, your physical space goes to hell. My motivation for putting things away was nil for three months. At home, at school… I couldn’t keep up with it. I’m in a better place than I was, so now I’m going to tackle it. Christmas started the fix-up in my house, so now it will spread to my classroom, too. I want it all done by the end of the month.

 

 

So, there it is! My plan for my Level 10 Life with the focus of Growth this month. I’ll reflect on this when I choose next month’s word. Come play along with me!

What’s your word this month? How are you working towards accomplishing it?

Until next time!

~Tiff

 

Posted in 2017, Motherhood

I dated my kid on Monday…

Something I realized over this winter break is that I spend a lot of time with my kids, but I don’t spend a lot of time WITH my kids. There are a billion reasons for this, cleaning, projects, TV, Minecraft, arguing about whether to watch Pepa Pig or Shimmer and Shine… the list is endless! To be honest, my kids drive me insane! They’re kids, they’re supposed to. A lot of parents forget that, I think. Teachers, too (guilty).

So, one of the things I’ve decided to do this year is DATE my family. That means I will spend a night with just ONE of them every month. That’s three nights a month that I will spend with JUST THEM doing what WE want to do. It sounds so easy, but this crazy thing happens when life gets going… we don’t make time for that one on one time that we all need. By taking one kid out for the evening, the other gets quality time with Dad. By leaving them both with a sitter, and spending an evening with my husband, I can actually focus on HIM. Not on his nap, his RC car, taking him lunch or dinner because he can’t leave the track… I married that guy for some reason and, as God is my witness, I’m going to remember what it was!

So, on Monday night, my youngest daughter and I went on a date. It wasn’t anything horribly extravagant. We just went to the mall and shopped the sales. We stopped by Claire’s for jewelry, went to Build a Bear for clothes for her Bear, avoided Bath and Body Works (“I’m so sick of that place, Mom,” says Tadpole in her most teenager tone!), went into a store called Charming Charlie’s (higher end bling than Claire’s where everything in the store was “so fantastic” and “glamorous, mom!”), wandered through Hollister (because it has a porch out front, people!), then proceeded to go into every store that sold clothes for small girls looking for the perfect dress. Alas, nothing matched what we had in our heads. It was either not foofie enough, not sparkly enough, or the wrong size. Tragic, I know! We agreed that buying a new book was a good consolation prize and proceeded to Barnes and Noble to pick one out. Luckily, they had a perfect fit! 😉

Now, I know you don’t care much for my personal blathering about my date with a five year old, but I’m not really writing this for that purpose. I’m writing it because I want you to DATE your family, too. Even if it’s not every month, just spend time hanging out with ONE person, giving them your complete and undivided attention. My monster and I had so much fun tonight and I’ve already scheduled date night with my oldest daughter two weeks from now! While I don’t have a day nailed down for my husband, I WILL be going to see Rogue One (which I still haven’t seen, yet!) this month and he promised we’d go together to the awesome theater with recliners in Pooler! No phones, no kids, no distractions… just us!

Now, it’s your turn!

Until next time!

~Tiff

Posted in Motherhood

My Tadpole will be 5 tomorrow!

While tomorrow is a big day for everyone in my family, it brings to mind the circumstances surrounding my baby’s birthday. The morning didn’t start off well, though it ended so much better.

This was not my first pregnancy. I was no stranger to swelling and edema. Having been on my feet for days working on my classroom, I had completely lost my ankles. August 9th was no exception to the CANKLES syndrome I’d been working on. I met with my dr for my last ultrasound and the 2nd of my weekly check ins. My C-section was scheduled two weeks from then. Something felt…weird. I couldn’t put my finger on what, though, so when I told my OB that I was done and ready for this to be over, even though I love being pregnant, he just patted my knee and told me to suck it up and wait out the two weeks. It was in the best interest of my Tadpole, after all. I laughed and sighed, then left shrugging off the weird feeling I had.

The rest of the night was pretty simple. We picked up my oldest monster from the day care and went home, cooked dinner, I propped my feet up, and went to bed at a decent time.

The problems started the next morning. At 6:30, my husband woke up to go to work. He was moving around in the bedroom and it woke me up. I rolled over and dozed, though. My arm was tingling like it was asleep and, since it’s not the first time THAT happened while I was pregnant, either, I didn’t think anything about it. Peanut woke up and climbed in with me, but she wasn’t sleepy. In fact, she kept pestering me with questions. That’s when I realized there was a problem.

I couldn’t answer her. I don’t mean that I couldn’t think of an answer. I mean that the answers in my head weren’t coming out of my mouth. I couldn’t make my lips move. My arm was still tingling, too. I sat up and Peanut took that as her que that was time to get up. The fact that I wasn’t answering her finally annoyed my husband enough that he started asking me questions. I couldn’t answer him, either. My lip was numb, half of my tongue was numb. I was fully forming full responses to questions in my head, but I couldn’t get them past my lips.

I reached for his phone, opened a message and tried to type him an answer to a question. I fixed my spelling, edited the message so that it made sense. He showed it to me later. It was jibberish. Sitting up probably saved my life. I was able to get my mouth to move after a few minutes, but the words I was able to get out, one at a time, were so horribly slurred, they may as well have been jibberish, too. My husband called the doctor’s office, which was still forwarded to their nurse service. The nurse forwarded the call on to my doctor, who called my husband back pretty quickly and told him to take me into the office. He was in surgery all day, but the other doctor would take a look.

So, we dropped Peanut off at the Day Care, stopped and got me a pack of those little coconut donuts, and headed to the doctor for an 8:30 appointment. Their appointments don’t start until 9. That should’ve told me something. I sounded drunk. My ankles were still MiA, the tingling in my hand and arm had slacked off a lot. My lip was still numb and the numbness had spread to my whole tongue. She was very concerned and told my husband to get me to the hospital and get me registered.

An hour later, I was in a hospital gown, stretched out in a bed, with an IV going. My husband was sure they’d send me home, since the numbness had relaxed a lot. I still sounded drunk. He was so sure that he left me up there to go get food around 10. Naturally, that’s when all the big decisions were made. My blood pressure had hit 173/109 while I was hooked up. Apparently, I’d been having contractions. Small and irregular, but I didn’t even notice. I had tested negative for preeclampsia. My doctor decided to do the c-section that day. He gave up his lunch break to do my surgery, his fifth of the day. The fact that I ate those little donuts became a running joke on the floor, and I’m not sure why.

He made it a point not to freak me out with what he was concerned about (Tadpole’s lungs may or may not be fully developed at 37 weeks, I had just experienced a stroke, the edema in my legs was so bad that pressing on my thigh left a dent for more than 10 minutes…) when he was talking to me. He kept it brief when he talked with my husband, never said a thing about the stroke.

An hour after that, there was a little bundle of joy that was all mine. She was a sweet little snuggle buddy who only cried when they pricked her foot.

They always tell you that the pain of being pregnant and childbirth, the hard stuff that comes with being a mother, disappears completely the first time you hold that baby. They’re not always right, those mystical holders of wisdom. This time, though? Completely right.

So, on this eve of my baby’s 5th birthday, please let me give you a gift, internet. NEVER blow off swelling! The going theory is that the swelling was so bad it cut off the blood circulation to my head, thus the stroke. Don’t take that chance, any of you. Edema isn’t a thing to mess around with!

Until next time!

 

Posted in Motherhood, Tired of being Tired

SAVERS with kids!

I found this thing while I was setting up my bullet journal, which lead me to something else and then, something else. Before long, I stumbled on a post at Bohoberry.com about this book called The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. He sounds like one of those public speakers that is as slick as a car salesman, but I liked the way he organized life goals. He also said that how you start your morning determines how your day goes. I can agree with that, so it made me think some more. Part of my problem with Peanut comes when she’s not medicated. She’s wild and impossible to talk to. Heaven help trying to get her to do something, too. I was looking over this list of things that is designed to help bring focus and calm to your morning, and wondering how it would translate to an 8 year old. So, yesterday, I sat down and made a kid-friendly version of SAVERS with the girls.

Really quick: SAVERS is an acronym which stands for:

S-silence

A-affirmations

V-Visualization

E-Exercise

R- Read

S- Scribe

 

Silence and Exercise- 

The girls are all excited about yoga thanks to their teachers, which I think it awesome, so the “silence” part isn’t actually going to be silent. Today, I started gonoodle.com with the yoga and exercise options there and totally went crazy with it today. GoNoodle is a really neat website that hosts short rhythm and movement videos with some meditation, yoga, and other things wrapped in. It’s great for classrooms that need to wiggle, awesome brain breaks and, for the teacher with two kids that need to have someone besides me teaching them yoga, it’s a GODSEND! Since we can do both yoga AND dancing exercise at GoNoodle, that’s a two-fer!

Affirmations-

I found some affirmations for kids (you can find them here) and made these little cards using them and Word’s clipart finders. I cut them up and put them in a little Tupperware container. Each girl has her own set and each day they pull one. Today, Tadpole’s was “I am beautiful,” and Peanut’s was, “I reach for the stars.” They love them!

Here is my version of these lunchbox notes with clipart I got through Word. SAVERS file

Visualization-

I let them pick their visualization today (yesterday, I picked it so that they could see what I was talking about). Peanut decided to visualize remembering to turn her light off in her room when she leaves it. Tadpole is still working on her room, so… yeah.

Read-

We then read a chapter from the BFG. They’re enjoying it and the chapters are short. It works and there’s a movie coming out that may provide us a chance to go to the movies before school starts.

Scribe-

For Scribing— I grabbed them a few sheets of loose white paper and let them draw about their day. Tadpole’s is full of angry scribbles, and Peanut organized hers into four sections. Me? I wrote this in a journal entry in my Penzu journal before editing it up and posting it here as a blog entry!

 

I call today a success! Tadpole got bored with Yoga pretty quickly, but otherwise was right there with us the whole time. I’m starting this over the summer during the day, so we can work on getting it tighter before school starts. In an ideal world, I’d like to do this before school every morning. Wish us luck! Today, this process took us 30 minutes, but we did all of it and we did about 20 minutes of Exercise and Yoga. We’ll start getting faster now that we know the parts!

I’ll keep you posted on our progress. With any luck, I can roll this into my exercise routine in the evening, too, and get everyone involved! I have built in workout buddies, why not use them?

Until next time!