Monday, September 29, 2008

A spy in volunteer's clothes

Today was the first day of my volunteering career in the classroom. I plan on working at least 3 days a month in Mason's class. I want to make my face known amongst my kid's teachers so I can stay informed of what is happening. I'm also doing it to spy on Mason. Boys tend to not tell you everything that happens during their day. One word answers is usually how he tells me how his day goes. I'm very curious to know who he chooses for friends, how he acts in class and how the teacher handles her students.
The first thing I noticed was that Mason was super excited to see me in his classroom. He was all smiles the whole time I was there. Of course, I soaked all this attention up since I know that this may only last for a few more years.
I'm also quite sure that I'm not designed to be a kindergarten teacher. They are very needy and require a lot of attention. I was in charge of helping a center group make a leaf man. They are working on the letter L this week. I had to help a few kids hold a scissors and show them numerous times that the leaves were legs not arms. I can't imagine having to deal with all those students on a daily basis. His teacher must always be tired!
I also realized today how much Mason really does know compared to other kids his age. I'm proud to say that he is one of the few kids that can read. Again, the thought of homeschool crossed my mind. He is not challenged or learning anything new in his current school situation. I know that if I homeschooled him he would be learning new concepts daily. He loves to learn. I also know that he struggles in a few areas that I would be able to focus more time on then he coudl get with a classroom of other students.
One thing I realized as I was contemplating pulling him out of school was that he is in need of socialization. He is sort of the loner kid during recess. He sat with a few girls on the floor to eat his snack and then proceeded to ride the tricycle while talking to only a few people. When I asked him if he had any friends he said that he had lots of friends and that all the kids in his class where his friends. I felt responsible as tears came to my eyes watching my child play by himself. Did I not expose him to enough playdates? I'm fairly certain that since birth I have very successfully introduced him to many friends that he has enjoyed. I think that is the difference between toddler-hood friends and school-age friends. One is mom introduced and the other they pick themselves.
I realized once again that my first born has a very different personality then his mom. He is happy to play by himself and is not affected at the least that he has no "close" friends to share his secrets with. In his five year old mind anyone he meets is his friend and in reality that is how it should be. I know that at least for today our decision to keep him in public school will help him make friends..... a priceless resource.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Mason... a celebrity?

Mason made the paper! Yep that is right... right there on the front page was his little face.

Monday night was the Hesperia District Board Meeting, where they honored Ms. Sherri for giving Mason the Heimlich while choking on a fruit snack a few weeks back. We attended to honor Sherri and to give the board a face to the little boy that Sherri saved. The local paper got wind of the whole process and showed up to school on Tuesday morning. They received permission from Allen to interview Mason and take some pictures.

Wednesday morning, the picture and story is on the front page. Mason was more then thrilled. I received 4 phone calls and 3 emails from people in the High Desert that wanted to make sure we knew about the article. One of your dear friends was over tonight and asked Mason for his autograph. Mason is happy and giggly about his new found celebrity-hood!

It is sad that in this fallen world, a sad thought crosses my mind. The newspaper article which is viewed by all the cities in the High Desert contains Mason's full name, school name and picture. It is scary to think of what could happen if this information falls into the hands of an evil-doer. I am sure this thought did not even cross Allen's mind as he gave permission for them to interview Mason as it probably would not have mine. This just reminds me to have one more talk with my kids about strangers and safety in public. How sad that we have to even think about things like this.

Monday, September 22, 2008


We decided to brave camping again. I felt that it was necessary for our kids to be campers. Isn't that what kids do. My last post about the animals and our lack of exposure to them is very scary to me. I don't want my kid's friends to mention camping and them have fear of it cause it is unknown. So we ventured out.

We went to Vail Lake. It is close to home and some dear family friends were also going and said that they would provide all the food - so just pack what we needed for a night. HA! We took out one seat in our van and still had to unpack some stuff cause the kids would not fit. After the 2-3 hours it took Allen and I to pack us for one night.. we were off!

We arrived at the camp site at about 2:30 pm and started the unloading and setting up. Setting up the tent in the heat with three children who just want to run and play and can't cause they are too young to be off by themselves, was not pleasant. The kids rode bikes and we took walks. The two hours between set up and dinner time was the best! Then dinner time hit. We had to eat on dirt. The floor was dirt. Everywhere was dirt.

Sleeping was awful. 5 people in a tent. Our tent says its a 10 man tent.... really? How small are these men that are fitting into this ten and I'm sure they were not sleeping on an Aero bed! IT was freezing the whole night and I spent much of it comforting a whimpering baby or sleeping in the bathroom. Of course as luck would have it something did not agree with my tummy and I feared of getting sick in a small-very thin walled tent. I spent alot of the night in the public restroom sitting in a chair trying to sleep, so that I would be near the toilet if it called for me.

The next day Avery was stung by a bee. Bees where everywhere and lo-and-beyond - the minor tempered kid who did not swat at the bees was stung. Poor girl was a wreck. She cried for about 3 hours (no exaggeration). It was cute to see her Daddy and big brother in action. Both were ready to take that bee and any bee that crossed our path and squash it with their bare hands! We ended up leaving the camp site earlier then planned to tend to our tired bodies and Avery's swollen hand.

I made a mental checklist on the way home about the pros and cons of camping. We own a timeshare and I think that we are perfectly fine doing timeshare vacations from here on out.

Timeshares have tables and chairs and carpets under our feet - where as camping has dirt!
Timeshares have bathrooms within the same walls as your bedroom - where as camping requires you to walk 1/2 block to the nearest bathroom.
Timeshares have heating and air conditioning for the inclement weather - where as camping you have to layer your clothes or sweat.
Timeshares don't require you to build your bedroom upon arrival.
Timeshares have kitchens to prepare your food and do your dishes - where as camping you do it on grill in the dirt.
Timeshares allow you to sleep alone in your big bed and your kids are in the next bedroom - where as camping, everyone is right next to each other.
Timeshares have TVs for those moments that you just don't have the patience to keep the little ones entertained.
Timeshares have locks on the doors so that you can prevent a 2 year old from escaping down the road.

My mental list goes on and on. I have convinced myself and Allen (who didn't need much convincing) that we will only vacation in a hotel or timeshare from here on out. We see nothing wrong with raising our kids this way and when they become boy scouts and are old enough to not be stolen by strangers we will try again.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Kids and animals

So we have put a lid on the bird idea and now we are on to dogs or cats. I hate cats... When I look at them I see a moody animal armed with claws and sharp teeth. My aunt had a lot of cats growing up and they always jumped on me. This could be where my fear lies. In the same sense a cat makes a good pet. They potty train themselves, clean themselves and leave you alone - for the most part. I'm just not sure this is what we need to de-fear our children.

My kids have a terrible fear of animals. We were eating breakfast at a friends house last week and out comes their cat. Jack and Avery screamed and jumped into my arms, as if a tiger had just tried to claw out their eyes. Mason tried to be brave... but I could see fear in his eyes as he side-stepped to my leg. This is RIDICULOUS. Not only is it super embarrassing, but I feel like I have not done my job as a parent and exposed them to animals. Maybe its too late and I've already scarred them for life. I know a lot of their fear is my fault. I'm not an animal lover and tend to steer the stroller away from stray dogs. I arm myself with a walking stick to "beat the dogs" if they come near. Maybe the children have picked up on that. I'm fearful... but I'm not a maniac. I don't crawl up Allen's arm at the sight of a hampster.

When people are afraid of clowns, closed spaces, heights, animals... what do you do? Despite my lack of psychology degree, I think you should conquer your fear my meeting it head on. ON the a way home from our breakfast date last weekend we stopped at Pets Mart. The animal shelter was there with 6 dogs for adoption. AWESOME. A dog would be perfect. He would play with the kids and maybe even settle my urge for a fourth baby (wink,wink!). We fell in love with a small dog in the bottom cage. The kids were okay looking at the animal from behind the cage, until a big dog on a leash walked by. Ear piercing screaming began and the whole store was staring at us. The lady from the shelter told us that maybe we should visit a few more times before we take one home. She was probably right and I realized that my problem would not get solved overnight.

I'm hoping that bringing home a dog will quickly cure the fear in my children's minds. I know it will be hard and I know that the kids or the dog will be in their room/crate for the first few days. I anticipate a lot of tears. I'm also aware that this new family member will be a lot of work. Training, feeding, cleaning. This is where I want to throw in the towel. Do we have time to do all of this? My kids need this and I feel like in the end our sanity needs this. I don't want to raise children who are scared of things, especially my boys.

A dog will be in our future. It's exciting. It's right. It's scary..., but here we go!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A bird as a pet?

I have a new family on my roster this school year. Very sweet. Mom has three grown children and has adopted 5 children into her home. 4 of them are in CAVA this year. I stopped by their home to have them sign some paperwork this morning. Avery and Jack were with me. Avery is a grumpy kid to strangers... which is another blog for another time..... so that was frustrating cause she was attached to my hip the whole time.

This family has a mini-farm. They have 7 or 8 baby quail and 1 baby duck. She said they buy the eggs through the internet and then they "heat" them and watch them hatch... WOW... such a cool experience for the kids. They have a duck pond in their back yard with a few ducks and geese. They have 2 turkeys... which they plan on eating in a few months. They also have lots of chickens, which they use for eggs. How cool! I'm not sure I could handle all of this work.... but i think it's so cool that their kids are experiencing all of this.

My kids are huge chickens (no pun intended). They are afraid of everything, especially animals. I carried both kids on my hip - yes, that was 60 pounds in my arms - so we could avoid the D-O-G that would have ate them if they we not in my protective arms. We successfully made it to the chicken coop and I was able to release the heavy weights in my arms. The kids were less then thrilled to see the chickens and ducks. In fact they seemed to be more excited to see the outside of my leg. The other children did not understand why my kids were acting so strangely... I tend to wonder if I'm doing them an injustice for not having any pets or not forcing them to like animals... It's something that stresses me out alot!

As we were leaving, the Mom asked me if I wanted to take home one or two of the baby quail. She said all we would need would be a cage and some feed.... I'm not an animal person (apple doesn't fall far from the tree), but maybe this is the baby step we need to start our kids on the 5-step program towards animal tolerance.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Waiting around for people to show up

The last several days I have been having teacher meetings with my 13 families. They are scheduled hourly and I do them at our local library.... which has wireless access so that I can blog or facebook when I'm bored!
Well today, I have been stood up twice! I don't like to be stood up... I'm currently waiting for appointment 6 today, for which I hope they show up cause I'm starting to run out of things to do.
It's been interesting people-watching these last few days. Many weird people live in the High Desert. I mean you have the normal "scary-looking" people, in which I respond with smiling. My theory is that people can not shoot you if you are smiling. It's just rude!
Yesterday a lady walked in with her four children. She had a baby carrier, a 8 year old, a 4 year old and what looked like a 6 year old. She put her backpack looking thing on the table next to me and pulled out a nursing cover. I thought "oh, how sweet, she's going to nurse her baby." For those of you that know me, I'm obsessed with breast feeding. I always have to know if they are breastfeeding or formula feeding. I'm not judgmental about it, cause I didn't nurse all my babies for that long... I'm just super curious. Part of me is a bit jealous cause I wish I could be nursing a newborn right now too (but shhh.. don't tell Allen that part!) Well instead of hooking the baby up under that blanket, she pulled out a breast pump! We were in the middle of a very crowded library. I was very nosey and kept sneaking peeks at her. I just wanted her to talk to me and tell me why she would be pumping her milk, instead of feeding the baby. She looked like she did this all time, as she rocked the carseat with her foot and yelled at her 4 year old to sit down.
I love people watching..... it kills the time while I wait..... Oh, here is another one of my appointments....

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

A busy mom.....

I realized yesterday that when I’m busy, I do what ever I can to make the “needy” child happy.
The place was the car, which is where we seem to spend most of our time these days. Avery, Jack and I were on our way to pick up Mason from school. I decided to call one of my dear friends. I never get to talk on the phone anymore because I am constantly having something to do that supersedes the friendly phone call. I thought I might have 20 quiet minutes in the car while VeggieTale tunes kept the other two kids busy.
The first 10 minutes of my drive was smooth. I was able to chit chat as if their were no kids even in my car. Then the car came to a stop in the school pick up line. Jack started yelling to go, as if he didn’t notice the large grey SUV in the way in front of me. He didn’t like the way I answered him and began yelling again about the CD’s above my head. We have a CD case filled with kid-friendly CD’s on the visor of the car. He noticed them and I handed them to him. This was Step 1 of Operation Try to Get the Kid to Stop Screaming. It crosses my mind that a 2 year old holding a stack of CD’s could end up with non-working CD’s at the end…. But I really wanted to talk!
The CD’s lasted another 5 minutes and Mason was still not out of his class yet. Jackson grew impatient. I gave him a bog full of pennies that I had in my car. At this point, anyone reading this might question my parenting. Aren’t pennies chocking hazards? Jackson chocked on a quarter about 6 months ago and since then he has never put things in his mouth that should not be there. He loves counting pennies, so I felt very safe about Step 2 of this operation.
Well Step 2 lasted a few more minutes before he started throwing all the pennies around the van. I gave him a sucker. Step 3. He asked for another, I gave him another. He asked for another, I gave him another. I kept unwrapping and handing him Dum Dums and he kept screaming for another. I kept talking. Mason got in the car and we headed home. I had to cut my conversation short cause I just could not talk through the 2 year old screaming for suckers and the other two yelling in excitement to see each other.
We arrived home 30 minutes after we had left. When I opened the van door to retrieve the 2 year old. I found 6 CD’s and 30 or so pennies thrown around his carseat. I also found 7 suckers clung to his little hand. All of them licked once or twice.
I realized that no matter what I handed that kid he would have kept screaming. He just wanted out of the car because the minute I unbuckled his little body – he stopped screaming.