family · life

Thankful week 1 -things

thankful blog

For the month of November, each Friday I will write a thankful post. I think it is important to stop and think about the things you are thankful for. Those things/ people/e vents in your life that just make your life a bit better, a bit more meaningful.

This week I will focus on things.  What objects am I thankful for having in my life? How do they make my life more meaningful?

Our House

Image may contain: house, sky and outdoorI’m thankful for our home. We have lived in our house for a bit over a year now. It is now home. Granted home is wherever I spend most of my time with my family. It is the place where my children soundly sleep in their beds. It is the location I see my guys first thing in the mornings. It may not be the first home we lived in as a family, but it is the home we are loving and growing in now…. for that I’m thankful.

Technology

Image result for technology clipart

Many people think I am anti-technology since I limit the amount of technology the boys use. I’m quite the opposite. I enjoy technology, but I understand the needs for limits. I enjoy the connections that technology allows. I enjoy being able to dance my fingers across the keyboard and access a huge variety of knowledge, products and so much more.

Food

Image result for healthy food

I love food… ok who doesn’t? I love to cook, bake and explore with foods. I have been working very hard the last few months on being more proactive in my food selections. It is often easy to say… this tastes good, so I must eat it. But, thinking that way can get you in trouble. So instead, I think this is healthy AND tastes good… so I can eat it.

Changes

Image result for change

There have been so many changes in the last few years. I know that change is hard, but change is good. Change brings about growth. Changes brings out the best and the worst in people. But, it is important to be flexible enough to deal with change.

 

I have decided to have the boys join in this thankful process.

Blake is thankful for our house. “Without it we wouldn’t have the life we live”

Colby is thankful for nature. “Nature shows us there is more to life and change. That the real world happens beyond technology”

Join in… What things are you thankful for?

 

 

 

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family · life

Why?

(let me state that I’m writing this post as I, but Richard and I both deal with all these conversations with our sons in the same way. I’m glad that he and I are almost always on the same page and we know that together we show our sons the love and respect that parents can have. We show them that we are both here for them no matter what)

I let this post mull over in my brain yesterday. Yet again we are living in the city that is coping with sadness do to ignorance and prejudiced.

We were living in Orlando, FL at the time of the Pulse Nightclub shooting. These people were out enjoying time with their friends. They were doing the same things others do every weekend. They were doing their own thing and not bothering anyone.

I had to explain to my sons that people thing they are better than others. That people believe that you should not be allowed to love whomever you choose. We had conversations about better ways to disagree. Better ways to deal with anger. Better ways… there have to be better ways!

Now we live outside of Pittsburgh, PA. Yesterday there was a shooting in a synagogue. What was happening inside this house of worship? a Bris. This is a baby naming service. This is a joyful time for parents and family members. It is a new member to the community.  They were doing their own thing and not bothering anyone.

I had to explain to my sons that people still believe that there is a difference between the religions. That some are “better” than others. They do not understand people who are different believe different things and worship differently.

What makes you and yours right and someone else’s wrong? What make you thing that violence will solve problems? I always tell my children and my classes that violence doesn’t solves problems… it just makes new ones.

What can we do to get people to realize that they aren’t helping anyone.

Mr. Rogers was from Pittsburgh and filled his show here. I leave you with a few quotes from him.

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, textImage result for mr rogers love your neighbor

Image result for mr rogers hero quote

life · PreK class

It’s Monday!

What a busy month this has been. I feel like the weeks are flying by and we will soon be posting about Christmas plans.  Eek, never mind I’m not ready to go there yet.

This weekend we went out kayaking for 3 hours. Let me tell you that if you kayak correctly, you get a really good core workout. I was focusing on keeping my “paddle box” and not paddling with my arms as much. I could really feel it in my lower back and abs. We saw the blue herons, cormorants, blue jays and ducks. This was scheduled to be a fall leaf tour, but the leaves still haven’t changed here. I think this is going to be a very blah fall. The leaves aren’t changing, but they have started to fall off the trees. I hate falls like this. There is something magical about the colors of fall and when they don’t turn it feels like something is missing. This is one of the changes I was glad to have again when we moved to PA. I always missed the color changes when I lived in FL.

Today was one of “those days” at school. You have those days from time to time where you feel like it must be a full moon, but it’s not. I must be talking in a different language, but I’m not. Ummm ok it’s just an off day. Tomorrow we go on a field trip to the pumpkin patch. Today it is raining…. This means tomorrow we should be having a very muddy field trip. I will have 17 children and their families in a muddy pumpkin patch, oh joy! Oh and the temperatures have finally decided to drop into fall temperatures (Saturday we didn’t get out of the 40s!) My class is meeting at 10:30 it is forecast to be 39F at 10am and 42F by 11am. Cold and muddy. I think I’m pulling out my warm boots.

I hope life is treating you well in your little corner of the world.

 

 

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?

 

Education · PreK class

No apple painting in my class

Yesterday, I wrote about teaching and the fact that we were learning about apples. Notice you did not see anything about apple painting in my lessons. When I was in grad school, I began looking at some of the projects that teachers typically do in class with foods. I decided that I needed to rethink this way of thinking. I cut way back on the items like this I did in class.

My first job in Orlando, I taught in a very low income area. All the children were on free or reduced lunch. Many struggled to put food on the table, or had to choose between buying food or paying the bills. I looked at the fact that I was feeding my students breakfast, lunch, and one (sometimes two) snacks.

This got me thinking… how can I waste food when they struggle to have enough food to eat. How could I used beans as a math tool or an art project, when beans were the protein staple in their home?

So I will use food from time to time in science experiments, but I never use food for art, in the sensory table or for a manipulative in any way.

Food is food. Food is precious to so many children and their families, I can not show children that in school food is a toy, an art medium or other things that then get thrown away.

This is why you will never see my students apple paint.

family · life · through my camera lens

Kayaking

Since moving to PA, we have been trying to get out and do a variety of outdoor things with the boys. The took mountain biking lessons, we’ve gone hiking, they learned to sled, ice skate and make snowmen. We are enjoying the county park that is located about 3 miles from our house. We love that we have 3075 acres of nature to explore and enjoy.

Out latest adventures was kayaking. We have always seen tons of people out kayaking and stand up paddle boarding on the lake in North Park. We often talked about getting out on the water and trying out kayaking. Saturday was the day we got out. We went through LLBean Outdoor Discovery School

. (We went with them on 2 hikes last year) Our feeling was to get with an instructor who would help all of us begin to understand the techniques of kayaking.

Each of the boys was able to paddle their own kayak, which was a big plus. None of us were perfect, but we had fun. Colby struggles in the beginning, but Richard helped him muddle through the basics and then his paddle stroke became near perfect. Blake on the other hand just went at it. His stroke is a bit sloppy but that doesn’t stop him from going.

For me I found turning to be the most challenging, part, but I’m getting there.

Richard has the most water craft experience, so this was a lot easier for him. (he is the one who had the camera, hence the picture of me)

While on the water we saw lots and lots of Canadian Geese, they are starting to practice for their migration flight. We saw Harry the Great Blue Heron and a snapper turtle who decided to pop up right in the middle of all of our kayaks.

Education · life · Must Have Monday

Must Have Monday — Back to School (things edition)

TTM_MHM

When parents are getting their children ready to go back to school, they often think about getting clothes, backpacks, notebooks and lunchboxes. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, you will often get a list of supplies from your child’s teacher as well.

Image result for back to schoolWhen picking out items for your child to use at school it is often worth spending a bit more now so you don’t have to replace these items later in the year. Over the years, my sons have had 3 backpacks. I let them pick out a fun/novelty backpack for preK but after that we switched over to a better quality backpack. Make sure the size of the backpack is proportionate to your child. We tend to get JanSport backpacks. The ones that we purchased when Blake was in K we still have and use to this date. This is smaller than the one they now use for school (we got those ones when Blake was in 4th grade). When you get a quality backpack it will last years. I had many years where children had cute backpacks, but by February they were destroyed (typically the zippers broke or the pack itself will tear)

Lunch boxes do tend to be something that we replace yearly. This is more because things will spill, the lining will tear or in other ways it will get ruined/destroyed. Again make sure you buy something that is proportional to your child’s size. I also always get reusable ice packs to put in the lunch box with their lunches. Make sure your child is able to open up all the containers you put inside their lunch. When packing lunches take into account the timeframe that your child will be given to eat. Most schools have about 25 min for lunch, but this includes getting into the cafeteria, sitting down, eating, TALKING, and cleaning up. Many children get frustrated when they have too much, or not enough lunch.

When getting clothes for school make sure your child is able to get in and out of the items independently, for bathroom purposes. Make sure you send your child in wearing clothes that they can move, work and play in. Do not send them in wearing clothes that they feel like they can not get dirty or play in. Your child will be sitting on the floor, going to recess, as well as the various special area activities (art, music, pe). Send your children wearing shoes that they can run and climb safely. Also, make sure you check out your school’s dress code.

Some of these things seem trivial, but to your child and their day it is major. School days may seem long to you, but the days are packed and busy. There is limited time for doing tasks, and you don’t want your child struggling with materials, clothes, or lunch items when they don’t have to the time to fumble through the process.

 

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)

life · through my camera lens

Different way of looking at things

There are so many things in life that could frustrate and upset you. You could feel like things will never workout the way you expect them to. You could feel like the cosmos are going against you.

I look at my backyard and realize that I should be frustrated. The clover has taken over. Now granted I know that I haven’t done a ton to improve the quality of the yard. I can’t get mad at the yard when I don’t put the effort into making it look the way I wish it looked. I get it!

But, then I look again! Now I see that the clover has attracted butterflies, bumblebees and bunnies (sorry I didn’t get a picture of Easter or Peter that’s what we call the rabbits who visit out yard). So it isn’t all bad.

Some times what you have to do is look at life from a different angle. You have to stop and reflect on the positives. Now I’m not saying that I’ll never work on getting rid of the weeds in my backyard. Just as I need to work on working out to improve my health/physical shape. Just like I need to keep working on my relationship with the boys and with Richard, all things take work, but doesn’t mean that they are bad. It just means that sometimes you have to look at it from a different angle to see the good parts.

Take the time to realize that even negative moments help you grow as a person. Take the time to stop and breathe and realize that there isn’t totally bad, just as there isn’t total good.  Look for the butterflies and bees…. they flit in fast and are fleeting, but they are there.