life

technology at the table

On Saturday, we watched the UCF football game on tv and then decided to go out for dinner. Ok we knew we were going out even before we started watching the game, but that is neither here nor there for this post.

We went to a local restaurant called Stack’d. We have been there many times in the past. I found it interesting that as we were getting seated I noticed that every party that came into the restaurant with children were seated in one area. Hmmm ok. I thought this was odd, but I don’t really care. There were a few other families and the children were not being disruptive or anything. I realize that one part of the restaurant is more of a bar area, and not seating the children in that section is fine, I just think it is odd to seat all the families with children together. It almost implies that the children should not be sat with adults groups for some reason.

So, Richard and I were talking about this observation. We also began talking about the addition of technology to meal times. When you walk into Stak’d with children the first thing they ask is if you want tablets for the children. Ummm no. First of all, there are tv’s everywhere. Second of all, why is a restaurant encouraging children to be plugged in instead of talking to their families? What lesson are we teaching the next generation? Do you really need a device to sit at the table?

When my sons were younger, we would often bring in books or paper and crayons. They did not get these items until they decided what they wanted to eat and the orders were taken by the wait staff. The items were then put away once the food arrived.

Lately it feels like 9 out of 10 restaurants have televisions going around the room. I still struggle to get the boys to stop watching tv and eat. They are pretty good at having a conversation, but it is often tied to whatever they are watching on the tv. They certainly do not need to have the tvs AND a tablet… do they?

Are these children ever going to learn to have a conversation at the dinner table? What happens when they have to go to a business dinner/luncheon? Will they just sit there and play on their phone/tablet/whatever device we have at that time?

All I know, is my boys know enough to say no thank you when they are offered the tablets at the restaurant. I know that may not be the answer they want to give, but they know it is the answer they are expected to give.

What is your feeling on this topic?

 

Advertisements
family · life · Must Have Monday

Must Have Monday– back to school (routines edition)

It’s that time of year. Back to school time!

If we still lived in FL, the boys would be going back today. But, here where we live they go back on the 23rd. Yes, I know that there are other places that still don’t go back until after Labor Day.

It doesn’t matter when you go back, it all is the same… change!

While we all know that going back means getting new clothes, backpack and lunchbox. There are so many other things to do to help your child get ready to go back to school.

Work on adjusting their sleep routine back into school mode. I know most parents, myself included, allow the bedtime routines to slip a bit during the summer. Maybe you let your children stay up later, or sleep in longer. Maybe you drop the reading before bedtime or other routines. You should start these routines back up 2 to 3 weeks before school starts. This will help on that first day/week/month getting up and moving in the mornings.

Establish new routines and set expectations ahead of time. Each year your child should be gaining more and more responsibility for their school prep. I’m not talking about making them buy their notebooks. I mean get an alarm clock and have them wake up and get moving on their own. Or have them choose their own clothes to wear. Or have them pack their own lunches. The more steps you encourage them to do independently the easier it will be later in life.

My sons began picking out their own clothes when they started K. They had to put out their clothes on their toy box the night before. I had and still have veto power over outfits. They have school clothes that they keep separated from their play clothes. I keep their bottoms neutral (demin, khaki, navy and black), this makes it easier to put together outfits that will work. When we go shopping they pick out the clothes they have, so they like what they have.

My sons began packing their own lunches when they were in first grade. I packed in kindergarten and they used the same lunch containers in first grade. They used bento style boxes that had three sections. They packed a protein (sandwich, deli roll up, leftovers etc), a fruit or veggie and then a junk (chips, pretzels, goldfish, etc). Now they use zip lock bags, tupperware or thermos to pack their lunches. They know to have a main item (protein preferably), a fruit or veggie and then a snack type item. I do pack the lunch items into their lunchboxes in the mornings. Hmmmm maybe that will be their new thing this year?

My sons became responsible for all paperwork when they were in third grade. At this point I stopped checking folders/binders etc. They could give me everything or they could pick out what I needed to see (I prefer the later). They needed to be on it as I won’t go hunting down permission slips and other papers that need to be filled out. I typically know when things should be coming home and may provide a few gentle reminders at that time but it’s their paperwork.

I also only check homework if they ask me to, that started about 4th grade. It is their homework, their responsibility. I do help if needed, but they need to try on their own before they can ask for help. They come home, have a snack and start homework. They must complete it before asking for any kind of technology. School based technology is the last step in the homework process.

I know there are parents who would feel that I’m way too hands off when it comes to my children’s school work. I want them to own their successes and failures. I want them to learn now that it is not ok to turn in things late. That no one is going to rescue you when you are unprepared. I want them to see that they can get themselves prepared and going. They need to learn to leave time to do the things that need to get done. They can’t be late (or in my opinion on time… as on-time is late). If they learn these lessons now when grades are not as important as they are in high school and college. If they learn these lessons when we are here to help pick up the pieces it will help when they live on their own.

I’m helping my children grow up.

Education · life

School Supply Lists

It’s back to school time. Which means it is time to hear people complain. Let the complaining begin, or should it?

You will start seeing/hearing/reading about people complaining about supply lists. I know both sides of these lists. And, while I understand the issues, I also understand why these list exist.

So… here!

Why do teachers send supply lists in the first place? Because school systems do not supply materials for classroom use. I’ve worked in schools where teachers get a $25 budget to buy resources for the classroom… do you know how far this goes for 18-22 children? Back to school time is the time that items are on sale. So while your child may not use 50 pencils in September, he/she will use/lose that many during the school year. Plus most classroom teachers have to share specific supplies with special area teachers (art, music, library, computer lab, pe … etc)

Why do teachers ask for specific brands? After teaching for many years you get to know classroom supplies. We realize that it is cheeper to buy store brand, but it won’t last as long. Crayola crayons color in true color and most other crayon colors are slightly off. Friskar scissors are the sharpest and do not break. I’ve had students with off brand scissors have the scissors break during the year. These kids are NOT gentle with their supplies. We do not get money from these brands, we are just trying to find the ones that will last the longest. Trust me it is worth a bit more investment now instead of having the teacher/your child ask you to replace the items later because they are broken, dried out or totally lost.

When teachers ask for specific color folders, notebooks or other items, they have a system in place that uses these colors to help your child get organized. They are not trying to make it so your daughter can’t have the super cute folder she wants. They want to be able to say take out your red writing folder. Or pull out your green science notebook. This helps speed the process of transitioning between subjects.

Think of this, your child’s teacher is having to store these items in the classroom for future use. But, as I stated most of the items teachers ask for on back to school lists are on sale at this time of the year. When grade level lists have to be created teachers spend a lot of time hashing over what to ask for and where to store the items until they will be used.

As a teacher, I often find it quite humorous that the parents who are the most forceful on everything being equal are the ones who often complain the most about having to buy a specific brand item. This isn’t about being equal, or trying to make parents spend too much money or any of the things you think. The teachers are attempting to figure out everything your child will need to be successful. If you question a product, ask the teacher what it will be used for, they will tell you.

For example, I overheard a parent a few years ago complaining that their kindergartner needed dry erase markers. The parent was saying… how many markers will a teacher go through in a year. My child will probably never even get to use the marker on the board. Where if the parent asked they would probably find out that every child in that classroom will most likely have a lap size whiteboard that will be used in the learning process.

Parents… Teachers are not trying to make you go broke. They are not trying to punish you. They are not even mildly attempting to be unreasonable in their requests. Just remember that if they do not ask for these resources now they will either have to ask later (when parents are less likely to buy since they won’t be on sale) or buy the items themselves. I know myself and most teachers I know spend a LOT of their own money for the classroom. If you can’t afford items the teachers will not make your child’s life miserable, the teacher will just go out and buy the items him/herself.

life

Ready for the new school year?

It’s hard to believe that the summer is almost over. There are often times when I wish the boys went to school all year long. They do so much better when they have a routine. Then there are days when I am so happy that they have summer break. I love the slower moments of life.

Today the boys got up, had breakfast and then went downstairs. They are playing with hot wheels cars. They take control of the fire stick, but that is fine. They don’t always play well together, but when they do it is nice. I enjoy the easy relationship they have together. They certainly are best of friends and worst of enemies. They have a natural relationship together. They are both strong willed and that shows in ugly ways at times, but I wouldn’t change in either of the boys.

We have kept up some routines, schedules and expectations over the summer, but also loosened up some of them too. I like that as they get older they have more independent times. We are getting to the phase in their lives where they balance is shifting. They need to make more and more decisions on their own. They need to be more responsible for their choices, actions and forward movements in life.

So many times it seems that parents want to keep their children younger. They want to shelter the children. They want to stay in control of the choices and decisions that are made. That is not the way that Richard and I parent. We want the boys to have a firm grasp on reality. They need to understand choices and consequences now before those wrong choices could land them in more trouble than an apology can fix.

So am I ready for summer to be over? Yes and No. Am I ready for the boys to grow up? Yes. I love seeing the changes in the boys. I am excited to see what the next change will be. I’m excited to see the growth and development in all aspects of life. Going forward into the next grade of school is a huge step in the development process… so bring on 6th and 5th grades. I’m ready to see the changes it with bring in their personalities, development and all around self. (Not that I’m ready to start the whole get up and function in the mornings)

family · life

Your “Hard Thing”

My post earlier today, coupled with a conversation I had at dinner with the boys got me thinking…

When you talk about grit, you are talking about the thing that you are passionate about, the thing you work hard to achieve.

So I got thinking about myself. I know I have grit and passion about teaching. I’m always learning and changing as a teacher. I believe that that you have to constantly grow and improve in teaching. There are always new methods, ideas and ways of disseminating information.

But, what else am I passionate about? What is the thing that I enjoy? I realized when I was talking to the boys about finding that thing for them that cooking and baking would probably be one of those things for me. How did I figure this out?

I was talking to one of my sons about the fact that when he was young he was good at playing sports, but never put in the effort to get better. When you are passionate about something you don’t settle with “good enough” there is always a way to get better, stronger, faster, whatever… but you are never good enough. And that good enough isn’t defined by anyone but yourself.

So what is grit? it is the that push, the drive, that desire to not be good enough at something.

So my friends…. have you ever thought about it? What is your hard thing? What is the thing you keep pushing yourself to do more in? What is your passion?

family · life · Must Have Monday

Must Have Monday- Kid Packing

TTM_MHM

As I often mention on my blog, I’m big into teaching my sons to be independent in life. They are learning to cook, clean and do many other things on their own. Here is another life skill that they have been working on since they were young…. packing!

I always hear about mothers complaining about packing to go on trips. When the boys were little I used to dread this task. I knew I’d have to pack for 3 people, and the dog(s), and get the house ready to be left alone for as long as we were traveling. So as the boys got older I began teaching them to pack.

They are given a packing list! On the list they are given the number of each article of clothing they need to pack. They put the items on their bed in outfits and let me know when they are ready. Richard or I then go and check to see that they have the right items and if they need to switch things out because they don’t go, or are more play clothes then we want them to travel with at that time. Then the boys pack everything into their suitcase.

They are also allowed to bring their backpack with things to do on the drive/while we are there. They have to bring books, their tablets, some kind of learning something and headphones.

This means I only have to pack for myself and any times that we need as a family. The packing lists are catered to what we are doing and where we are going, but I’ll tell you that taking the 2 minutes to write out a packing list for them (and often times myself as well) will solve a lot of headaches and a ton of time for me now and on the trip!

family · life · Must Have Monday

Must Have Monday- Summer Break Edition

TTM_MHM

The boys started their summer break last week. Over the last few years I have learned a few things about summer break with my boys, so I thought I’d share these insights with you.

  1. Turn off the alarm clocks! But, do not let them sleep forever. I have one son who still wakes up around 6/6:30am and one who would sleep until noon if I let him. I do not have their alarm clocks on, but I won’t let them sleep past 9am.
  2. Shift bedtime, but not too far. My boys go to sleep at 7:45 in the school year. In the summer it typically is 8:15pm. There is fluidness of it depending on what is going on in life, but keeping a consistent bedtime helps too.
  3. Create loose routines that help them keep in check. Children are used to being at school where life is all about routines and procedures, and they need this to feel comfortable and content at home. Some children still need hard fast routines, but I feel that most children do well with loose routines. My boys know that they need to work in their workbooks every day. They need to make their own breakfast and lunch. Once camp is done we will get into more of a routine that includes outside time, inside time and technology time.
  4. Make mealtimes special. I get the boys involved in grocery shopping as well as making meals. This summer they will each make one meal a month from scratch.
  5. Continue to limit technology and don’t allow your day to be structures around the technology times.
  6. Being bored is cured by cleaning. When my sons tell me they are bored I tell them what they can clean.
  7. Outside time is not optional
  8. Trips to the library brings new books to read

The boys are off at camp this week, but next week we will get into our summer life routine. We will head to the gym. They will help with the household chores. We will get outside. We will cook, play games, read and so much more together. Summer life is slower than the school year, but it needs to have a loose structure to prevent the summer slump and boredom.

What are your summer break hints and tips??

family · life · through my camera lens

Catching you up on life

Wow I think I missed posting more in the last 7 days than I have in my whole time I’ve been writing this blog. We were busy this weekend as I talked about here. The boys finished up school yesterday, so there were a lot of end of the year things happening. Also, yesterday I had a job interview.

I will hear back from them in about a month, they are between sessions right now and have a board meeting coming up. They also need to finalize with the existing staff what hours they want before hiring. Not that I know if they will offer me a job yet or not. I have another preschool that wants to interview me later in June once they too get their summer program up and going as well as the director of that one is going on vacation in the middle of June.  We shall see what comes about from these places.

I always hate when interviewers ask canned questions. I’d rather you ask me specific questions that I can tell you actually want to know the answer. The first question I got in this interview was tell me about yourself… ummm what do you want to know? I’m a mom, I have two kids, I’m a teacher, I have lots of teaching experience,  ummm umm crickets in my brain.

Another interview question that is always asked that I never know how to answer is “Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?” Now when I was young (as in right out of college) I was better at answering this… now, not so much. When I got asked this question at my last interview, back in FL, I laughed and said if you asked me this question 2 weeks ago it wouldn’t have been “I see myself interviewing for a teaching position”. They knew this, but that is another story for another post. This time I was like…. if you asked me last year I wouldn’t have said I’d be in Pittsburgh. Life has to be a bit more fluid when you are a mother. I’m lucky in the knowledge that I don’t need to work and that if life says I need to stay home I can. I instead talked about the fact that I want to go back at sometime and get my PhD (that won’t be until we’ve paid the boys college tuition… they come first), and that I would love to teach in a either a HS, tech school or college where people are in teacher training programs. I have a lot to share and I think I’d do a decent job teaching people to become teachers. But again, that is on the back burner right now because I need to take more courses to get the certifications I’d need for that. I think of life this way in 5 years, Blake (16) will be going into his junior year in HS and Colby (15) his sophomore year. In 10 years Blake will be 21 and Colby will be 20 and they will be in college. How can I know what I’d be doing then when I can’t even imagine them at those ages?

Ok enough of that. Blake and Colby finished their first round of mountain biking classes last night. They enjoyed this so much that we signed them up for session two, that starts on Monday. They went a totally different route and actually ended at a different part of the park. North Park is 3,075 acres so there are lots of trails and paths to take. I decided to drive down to where I would pick them up and hike from there for a change. This was an area I’d never visited, but I will be back. I didn’t walk as far or as long as I typically do, but I finished feeling tired and covered in sweat, guess I call that a good workout,

IMG_20180531_175527.jpgIMG_20180531_175817.jpgIMG_20180531_175426.jpgIMG_20180531_175554.jpg

family · life · through my camera lens

Busy week and birds

This has been a strange week. Originally I had thought it was going to be a busy week. I took Monday and plowed through most of my house cleaning jobs. The boys has mountain bike class Monday night. It had rained before that and they came home a muddy mess, but they had fun. Richard got off work early and met up with me to walk. He decided to stop home and pick up Dixie too. I walked around 3.5 miles. Richard and Dixie walked about 2.5 miles.

Tuesday Colby was supposed to have his field day. I had volunteered to help out. I got an e-mail at 7am saying it was postponed until Friday. The weather was calling for storms, plus they said there were field issues, probably flooding.  I went to the grocery store, made another pasta salad and baked chocolate chip cookies (it was national chocolate chip cookie day).

Blake went on a field trip. Chatham University backs up to their school campus. They have been learning about streams, fish and other natural environments, so they went to Chatham to collect water samples. They also looked at the creatures who live in the stream. After that they went to the garden there and helped work in the garden. They at lunch in the University cafeteria as well. Blake said he had a great time and the campus was “really cool.”

Today is Blake’s field day. We were a bit shocked to not get an e-mail saying it too was cancelled. The rain is now forecast to start at 4 instead of noon like it was last night. So I will be heading over there around noon to help with his field day. Colby is going on a quick walking field trip today. His class is walking over to the lower elementary school across the street. They are going over to read poems to the first graders. He had to write a poem that he shared with his class yesterday and the first graders today.

Tomorrow we are back at mountain biking!

Busy is good.

On a calmer note, we have a new visitor to our bird feeder. Baltimore Orioles. We added an orange sliced in half, added the wilting grapes and are trying to convince the Orioles, and other birds to stay. All four of us enjoy watching the birds visit the feeder. It is so relaxing and such a great way to touch nature.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

book · family · life

With May Came Spring!

Finally we have had spring weather. The windows are open. Everyone is wearing shorts (don’t look at our scary white legs). It feels good to finally feel like spring is here to stay (we won’t discuss the fact that we had flurries on Sunday).

Today I went shopping. Blake decided that he needed new school shorts. Let me tell you something shorts for boys are hard to find. I do not let my sons wear athletic shorts to school. I make them wear cargo, jeans or something on that idea. Yes, add this to my mean mom criteria. I just see school as their job and I’m going going to work in workout clothes unless I work at a gym or something on that idea. I want them to see that play clothes are play clothes not play and school/work clothes. So after three different stores (Target, TJMaxx and Kohls) I managed to get him 5 pairs of shorts. There was not a pair of jeans shorts anywhere. Oh well!

In my shopping, I did pick up a few shirts for myself, some pajamas and new bedding for our bedroom. We haven’t got new bedding for our own bed in a quiet a few years and it was time for an update! I picked up a few shirts for Blake and Colby as well. Plus Richard needed a new wallet.

I don’t go out shopping very often beyond the grocery store and Costco… so when I shop… I shop!

When the boys got home from school we headed over to Costco. Blake got new glasses this weekend and they were ready to be picked up. We actually got him glasses and prescription sunglasses. He was very happy since he’s never been able to wear sunglasses. Both the boys now have to order adult size glasses. This was a challenge, but worked out fine. I also picked up a package while I was there. Richard ordered me a new laptop. I’ve had this one for quite a while and it was refurbished at the time. I’m excited for him to come home and set it up. The one I have/had couldn’t hold a charge for the last two years so it really is a stationary laptop now. It will be nice to have a lighter laptop that hold a charge so I can use it where ever I want, not just at the end of my island.

My parent purchased me a Kindle Paperwhite E-reader – Black, 6″ High-Resolution Display (300 ppi) with Built-in Light, Wi-Fi – Includes Special Offers that I started playing with today. I finally finished reading Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban: The Illustrated Edition (Harry Potter, Book 3) yesterday so today I downloaded a book to read. I set up Goodreads first and downloaded Coming to Rosemont: The First Novel in the Rosemont Series. I’ve only read the prologue so I won’t share anything about it yet, but I will. Hmmm maybe I’ll take my kindle outside and read later?

I hope spring has sprung in your part of the world. Time to make dinner. We are have quesadillas tonight…. so easy! I have one more recipe from Alton Brown: EveryDayCook, Roasted Thanksgiving Salad.  This one is healthy and tasty and full of veggies.