Kindergarten is Hard!

Do you remember kindergarten? I do.

I remember the kitchen set and loving the baby dolls, we had the "diversity set" with dolls of 3 ethnicities and both genders.

I remember really fat crayons and giant headphones in computer class. I remember the monkey bars and the swings.

My daughter's experience is entirely different. She has cried so many times in the last 19 days since school started. And for her it's only 15.

We've been working on sight words, coloring homework, walking in a quite line, did I mention homework?, learning to tie shoes and .... going without a nap!

Maybe I am being a bit mellow dramatic. But, maybe not.

It seems like all of our high stakes testing and pushing is breaking our children. Kids are freaking out and losing control and getting upset over so many things that in the long run don't really work.

Why does this article on WebMD about dealing with stress in small children, even need to be published?

What happened to Montessori education?

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Long gone are the days of students self selecting their play and self selecting their activities and having time to explore the world around them.

Parents are regularly told to spend crazy amounts of time making flash cards and small little reading books to "reinforce the work done at school". I don't know about you, but I need a break after a busy day and I'm guessing our kids do too....

Yet, there I was cutting up those flash cards with the best of them. Peer pressure.

Maybe I'll learn something better tomorrow.

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Chapter # what?

Today, I sit in my classroom 4 days away from the next chapter of my life. And quite possibly the scariest one yet.

On Monday, my husband is moving to Knoxville.

Map from Memphis, TN to Knoxville, TN

Most people have responded in one of the following ways:

1. Are you guys getting divorced? No.

2. Are you crazy?!!?? Possibly, but I have 5 kids, so we crossed that bridge a long time ago.

3. Why? In short, it's his turn.

4. Are you guys moving to Knoxville? Eventually.

5. Aren't you sad or upset or??? Yes, and everything else, too.

Here's what it boils down to for me...

For the last 15 years, Geoff has said yes to me. Every thing, idea, degree, WHATEVER, that I came home and said I wanted to do, minus very little and very few, he said yes. I have done nearly all the things that I have wanted to do with my career choices, life choices and personal choices. It's time for me to say yes to my husband and give him the time and the space he needs to pursue his goal, his dream, his career and, most importantly to me, his happiness.

So, for the short term, because 8 months is a short amount of time, I will have a house, a job, 5 kids and 4 dogs to myself. I will get all the hugs, kiss, boo boos, tears, joys and everything in between to myself!

I will also be working to rid our home of excess clutter, trying to make time to see my husband, continuing to give high quality lessons and care for my children. I want to continue to sell monograms and appliques.

I will gratefully and happily accept help and swallow my pride and even possibly, ask for help.

It's going to be the busiest and possibly most dramatic time I've had in a long time, but I'm up for the challenge.

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Loved from afar....reflections after loss and Orlando

My mother died on December 24, 2011. At the time I was 30, I had been married for 10 years and had 3 children with one on the way. I had started a good career as a teacher, at a school I really really liked, my husband was finally going to graduate college and was a stay-at-home dad with plans to get a pretty good job or stay home in the fall. Life was ok.

Losing my mother put my husband and I in a tailspin. She was an integral part of our family. Picking up my children from school, having weekly dinners with us and generally just being a great grandmother to her grand children. But more than that, she was my friend. She was my husband's friend. We had no way (or desire) to replace her. But, there was such a huge void. It was more than the cliched "hole in your heart"....it was a crater in my life!

Over the last 4.5 years we have attempted to make small changes and edits to our lives to allow the pain of that crater to be some what diminished from the pain it was originally. But it has taken some serious work and a lot of time.

This summer, I am teaching summer school at my mother's last school assignment as an Art Teacher before she died. There are several pieces of art around the building and they are all captivating, which was her style. But, she also left a more everlasting piece of herself. Her love for gardening. She started and created a beautiful courtyard, complete with a seedling of her grandmother's rose bush. I have been asked to help maintain those flowers, and oh what a gift it is. It is a quiet gift of her love to get to care for her roses.

Earlier this week there was a shooting in Orlando. If you had not already heard, it was pretty awful. My heart hurts for those who have lost loved ones. For those who feel threatened. For those who have felt this pain. Then more recently this week, a child was ripped from his parents at a beach in Orlando at a Disney Resort Hotel.

There is no simple way to solve the many problems that are affecting our society right now. For what ever reason, some people have real fundamental problems with other people for religious, social, cultural or other reasons. I do not pretend that I understand what is going on.

All I can say to those who have lost loved ones or are affected by the many tragedies; you are loved.

I hope over time you are able to find love and support in these times and are able to find peace.

Look for the moments when your loved ones will speak to you. Because they will. It will be subtle and quiet, but it will be there.

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Day 3/365: Surrogacy

A long time ago I leaned about surrogacy. Surrogacy is when a woman carries a baby for a couple unable to conceive and carry their baby on their own. 

When I learned about surrogacy I was in high school. Now I have several children of my own and know that being a surrogate is something I am meant to do. Having babies is, apparently, something I am REALLY good at. Not sure why I got that particular "gift", but I did. 

Finding the right couple has been a challenge. I'm quite sure that one day I will meet the right couple who I will be able to help. Not sure when that will be, but I know in my heart, it will happen. 

Friends, if you're the praying kind, or spiritual in whatever way suits you; please direct your energy at the mama who needs me. She's in quite a struggle. Asking someone to care for your child is hard. Think how picky mamas can be about babysitters! But asking someone to carry your unborn child is an insurmountable fear and relinquishment of responsibility. How scary that must be! How great the compassionate she will need for that journey! How awesome the gift and responsibility. 

Tonite, mama, you're in my heart. May we meet soon that I can help fulfill this dream and may the journey be as smooth and calm for you as possible! 


Day 2/365: today

Today I really wanted to be present. To focus on my kids and the sunshine and being present in the moment. And it was awesome. 

We played in the sunshine, kicked our soccer ball, threw the softball, played in the swings, went on a nature walk, ate Popsicles, met friends and had a great day. I doubt this day will stand out in my children's or even my memory, years from now. But it was one of those really wonderful and really simple days. 

We came home, had pizza and they were right back outside, together. Playing their own game on our trampoline. Now everyone is just about asleep and all I can think is how today was exactly the kind of day I want to have with them. 

Our park, happily covered with people and sunshine. 

Day 1/365: Time to be reflective

There's a whole lot going on in my head. In nearly every corner of my life, I am at a crossroads. 

Career: I've been teaching high school biology for 6 years, spoken at several national conferences in what I do in my classroom and I'm about to self publish my first book on the same. 

Children: My 5 children are, quite literally, at every stage of child life development other than participating in college. 

Personally: I've run a marathon and an ultra and I know what it feels like to be at my top physically. 

Mentally: I'm not any where near middle aged, but I've lived a colorful life thus far. I miss my mother terribly, as her loss was premature. 

House/home: We have decisions to make regarding either selling or "fancying" up and sticking around for a few more years. 

What does all this mean? I'm not sure. But I'm planning to spend the next year working it out. Or cleaning, we'll see how it goes!

In the meantime; some ducks from the zoo today. 


Clear and Precise Instructions

With 5 kids, a job and what I'd like to call a life, there is little room for miscommunication. I just don't have time to deal with incorrect instructions for filling out forms, signing up for things or missing out because we just didn't know.

It seems that this is a necessary fact in nearly all aspects of my life. I think it's why I appreciate lists so much.

So, today, here are a few ways to improve communication skills in your own life.

I think you might recognize these....

1. Who? Who do you intend to involve, or for that matter, exclude. For example, if your child gets an invitation to a party, do not assume that all of the children are invited. If it is a friend hosting and you feel comfortable asking, ask. If not, you have 2 choices; either ask or don't ask. If you ask, be prepared for them to say no, it's their party. If they say yes, great! Proceed as necessary. If you are the host, make your mind up ahead of time and invite who you intend to.

2. What? Make sure you give and get clear instructions regarding what is expected of you. It is much easier for everyone if you clarify for yourself whatever you don't understand. The moment you think of a question, it is time to clarify to make sure you proceed forward correctly. This makes everything better.

3. When? How do people ever do anything spontaneous anymore? I have no idea! Because I always have a when. When are you arriving, when am I arriving, when do I need to leave my house to be on-time? Am I perfect at this, HECK NO! I have 5 kids, you silly person. But, I know when I needed to be there... Double checking date, day of the week and time are all important!

4. Why? Well, I should hope you have not arbitrarily agreed to do something without knowing what it was, but the purpose is still important. That said, understanding the purpose of your event will have a direct effect on number 5 in this list...

5. How? How should you dress? How should you act? How should you expect your children to act? All of this is answered in understanding how this thing, whatever it is, is about to go down...

6. Anything else? You don't always have to understand anyone's reasoning for doing anything. But you should know if you are expected to bring plates and napkins to a party. These details are important to more than just you. Check on them.

If you get through these items and you are still unclear about what is going on, maybe you need to call your host, the friend, or possibly, your boss. It's only kind to make sure that everyone is on the same page. As you continue to do these things, you will become better prepared for events and more and more people will (we can only hope) quit thinking that mom = mindreader....because it doesn't. But asking these questions and knowing what is expected of us, will help us all feel better about meeting any of the expectations laid out for us.

Keep it up my friends, you're doing great!
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