Sunday, September 16, 2012

Kansas City Fun

As I mentioned before, we got to spend a little time in KC on our way home from Manhattan visiting with my sister and parents who also drove in for a short time.  We visited the Deana Rose farm while we were there.  It should've been fun, but it was so hot it really was more miserable than fun.  It's a miracle that we got decent pictures and the kids didn't whine any more than they did.  Not a repeat unless the weather is nice I must say.

Manhappiness 2012

Our Ruskabank friends always call Manhattan Manhappiness so I'm taking their cue here.  It does make us happy every time we go and it is probably going to be our annual tradition to catch the first game of the year.  This year was no exception; it was our second trip to see the game.  We got to see good friends.  The kids had a blast playing with little buddies, and we got to reminisce about the good ol' days.  We totally became "those parents" who bore their kids with the explanations of how Mommy and Daddy used to do this here or there as if they would open their mouths in complete awe and say "Wow!"  LOL.  Another added perk is we get to see my sister on our way home through KC.  Well anyways, here's the proof of our trip in pictures.

There were naps in the van

Yummy pizza on the way there in Lawrence

Look kids!  Daddy actually designed this logo and they're still using it!

Look kids!  Daddy won an award and his name is still on a plaque in the radio station!

Look kids!  This is where Mommy spent MANY hours doing violin lessons in this teacher's room.

Whoa!  Some things have changed at the music building.  Look how tiny our kids look!

She lasted 2 seconds.  Her face says it all.

Kadyn wrote "I love KSU." in the sand waiting for the pep rally to start.  I heart!

I SOOO got into the pep rally this time. LOVE the tubas.  Wabash is my favorite.  I was one of few adults who actually did it.

Kids eating with the Madgwick kiddos.

Family pic at the park

Sweet Madgwick family and their newest addition.  Love them!

In honor of our ratties who can't travel with us we take these with us on trips instead.

Kadyn and her Ruskabank friend Belle were good buds at the game.

I felt like such a goof turning around to take this with people right behind us.

Dada and Bren followed suit!

Finding balance

I'm two weeks in to my new job and schedule and I am am as happy as ever with our change.  The only thing that needs a little tweaking is finding balance.  As I suspected, finding time to keep up with my house chores has been a bit of a challenge.  Fortunately, I was able to add a couple more hours to my schedule at work which I originally thought I wasn't going to have.  This makes my income just a tiny bit below what I was making before which is a huge relief.  I am now consistently getting off of work at 1:00, but rarely make it out the door at that time.  I typically don't get home until 2:00.

When I get home it is nap time for Bren so that time I thought I would have with her one on one really hasn't been happening.  That's the bummer part.  However, I am getting to see her throughout my morning more often than I expected.  Once during snack time when both PK4 classes come together, during recesses, and also when she comes to music class where I actually get to teach her.  So not having that time with her after school hasn't been too much of a bummer because I still get a little time with her in the mornings during school even if it is in a school setting.

I originally thought when I got home I would have time to get my housework done. This has not been the case.  I don't get a break at school so when I come home it's straight to the fridge to stir up some lunch. Then I feel I must sit and take a break as I am on my feet all day at school expending a lot of energy to tame those monkeys I work with every day.  They are EXHAUSTING!  Needless to say, I'm feeling a little wiped by the time I get home around 2.  That hour sitting and eating lunch and catching a short show on TV is just glorious!  No kids, no obligations, just peace and quiet and getting to do what I want to do.

The last hour before Kadyn gets off the bus is spent doing what I can on the house without waking Bren up and doing prep work for school.  This is the part that has been SOOOO time consuming.  It has taken me literally hours and hours of prep work every week to be ready for class.  The curriculum the principal has given me is incomplete.  I have all the lesson plans, but not all the materials needed to do the lesson it suggests. I have had to make these manipulative all by hand.  I enjoy this a lot, but it makes it difficult to find time to get everything done around the house as I am usually on the computer creating, then cutting, then pasting, then laminating, and then repeat, repeat.  Since I am unfamliar with this curriculum I have also had to read through the lessons several times and practice giving them.  I do not want to be one of those teachers that reads from a paper for lessons. I want to have a general idea of what I'm doing so it will feel more natural in front of a kids.  Should I repeat this job again next year, all of this will be much easier as I will be more familiar with the curriculum and have made everything I need for all the lessons by then.

In addition to all this, I have added workouts at the YMCA and gymnastics for Kadyn into our schedule, and I will have to start preparing for my work at church since I have volunteered in the church to help with children's worship (volunteering was part of our membership agreement).  Consequently, I'm going to add time in my schedule somewhere to start learning the songs and script for this obligation.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. I LOVE LOVE LOVE teaching again.  I'm so much happier than I was doing daycare.  I'm just just trying to figure out our new groove and how to make our new schedule gel a little better. I have decided it was time to recruit the troops to help me make it through my week.  The girls have been given more responsibilities around the house. I have even put together a chore chart so they can check things off daily and have started a small weekly allowance to help teach the concept of working for money and managing money.  Jobs not done well will not be paid for.  Also, supper isn't served to those who do not have their chores done.  They get to choose when they want to do it after school, but they understand if it isn't done by supper they get no supper.  Great motivator!  So far Kadyn does bathroom counters, toilets, and her own laundry.  Brennan picks up, dusts, and helps a little with laundry too.

I have decided that doing laundry all on one day is unrealistic with my new schedule, so now I have taken my friend Sara Roach's idea of doing a load a day to help cut down that burden a bit. I am also trying my best to do one other chore a day and a little planning and prep work for class with the hopes that by the weekend I can actually have time off.  Time off from schoowork.  Time off from housework.  Time to just relax.  Use the weekend for what it ought to be used for.  We shall see.

I have to give kudos to my amazing husband.  He has been SOOO helpful during this transition pitching in where he can with the kids, even cooking when I just can't find the time to do it.  He also doesn't complain that the house is often left in a mess when I walk out the door in the morning and he has even helped me create one of my projects for class. I am so lucky to have him!

So anyways, all this is to say, finding a new balance is really a work in progress right now.  But this new challenge is a welcome one because for the first time in a long time, I am finding peace and contentment.  God has certainly called me to be a mother, but it is obvious that he has called me to teach again too.  So happy!                                   

Friday, September 14, 2012

Giving her what she needs

Ever since Kadyn started school I have always been concerned about her growth in education.  She is the biggest sponge of a kid I have ever met.  She LOVES learning and eats it up.  This has resulted in a child who seems to always be ahead of peers her own age in many subjects.  Being a teacher myself, I am acutely aware of how easy it is for a bright child to be forgotten because they "get it."  Focus and time can often times be primarily spent on those who don't "get it."

I liked Kadyn's teacher last year and I expressed my concerns to her.  I didn't expect her to devote a ton of time to challenging Kadyn, of course, but I was more than happy to work on stuff at home with her that challenged her if she was willing to send it home. Kadyn never seemed unhappy with her experiences at school in terms of being bored, but I never got the sense that she was really being challenged in Kindergarten and more challenging work never came home.

I took it upon myself to challenge her over the summer.  When the school year began, I once again addressed my concerns to her teacher.  Two days ago I received a call from her teacher saying she was concerned the math curriculum was too easy for Kadyn.  She tested Kadyn and realized she really needed to be in a 3rd grade math curriculum and a 2nd grade reading curriculum.  She was asking my permission to do so.  As if I would say no!  FINALLY!!!!  A teacher that is willing to put in a little extra work to make sure my baby keeps growing.  Sigh! 

She also told me that typically children who are ahead have trouble socially but that she has not seen those problems in Kadyn and has no concerns for her socially what so ever.  She also expressed how patient and kind Kadyn is with the other kids.  Aw!  Music to my ears.  All those talks about being patient have paid off.  I do believe, that having to share me with other daycare kids all those years taught Kadyn a lot about patience and dealing with friends in a loving way.  Something good came of it.  Even Kadyn admitted that she learned it from me when we talked about it. So anyways, I love Ms. Lee.  Somebody give that teacher a raise!  She is earning her keep in my books.  I wish all teachers were as attentive to their different learners as her. 


All it took was one bad experience

Bren.  She's my cautious one.  Never been one to chance things for her fear always trumps the possibility of actually having a good time.  I feel badly for her because it seems as though she's going to miss out on a lot of fun in life if she can't get past her fears.  For one, she still has yet to enjoy a good ride on a swing at a playground, I'm talking baby swing people.  She can't even do that.  Riding on Jeff's shoulders scared her to death. She'll do it now, but only for a short while as her fear starts to overcome her.  Bouncy houses....forget it. Of course, her fear in the water this summer was another big obstacle, but I somehow managed to make huge strides of improvement there too.  The point is, it's just part of her personality.  She doesn't like pain and will do anything to avoid it if there is even the slightest chance it could go wrong and she could get hurt. 

With that said, let me tell you about my biggest obstacle at the moment.  Now some mothers out there might think I'm nuts for sharing such personal details about my child's private things, but I'm desparate people.  I need help.  So here goes.

Bren has always had trouble in the number two department.  She has been on miralax for over 2 years.  Yes, I feed her a healthy diet of fruits, veggies, juice, and fiber (when you look at what the preschoolers I teach are provided for lunch, I look like mother Teresa for what I pack for Bren to eat).  I do not know why this is so troublesome for her.  We've had some pretty rough patches where she has experienced some painful attempts and regressed in her potty training.  Somehow we managed to make it through.  Recently I think she caught some sort of bug that made things too loose with the miralax.   We were about to go on a trip so I needed to get it in control again so she would be comfortable for our trip and not having accidents. I backed way off of her meds.  BAD IDEA.  I'm sure you can guess what happened.  It caused one bad painful experience in the bathroom and now she REFUSES to even try.  I'm talking days here people.  I have increased her meds to clean out doses like I had to almost a year ago when this happened to her.  And like a year ago, it's starting to happen in her sleep because the girl REFUSES to go during the day.  I'm at my witts end.  I've tried everything out of desparation: bribes, threats, consequences, gentleness, you name it.  She has just decided she's never going to go number two ever again on her own. 

So....if you have any ideas please give em to me and help a Mama out.  I'm leery of going to the doctor and having them order a bunch of unecessary expensive tests.  Our insurance is pretty awful in terms of any kind of coverage for anything out of the ordinary (yet another reason I want to get back into public school teaching, better health coverage).  As long as the girl passes something, even if it's in her sleep, I'm not worried about her becoming toxic yet.

Man, I'm so ready to be done with poop issues in children.  Seriously.  Seriously!!!! 

Thursday, September 6, 2012

1st week

(OK I still have one more day to go, but we're almost done!)

First day of school was rough.  I worked 8 hours (was only supposed to work 5) and only had one 5 minute bathroom break and no lunch.  Apparently I got all the "strong personalities" or so I'm told.  After the initial hour, I began to wonder how much I would enjoy this job as it seemed every one of my students weren't afraid to pull out all the stops for the first day.  I got the pleasure of dealing with back talking, kids getting into things, kids fighting, kids refusing to let me touch them or near them, kids tattle tailing, kids crying because they didn't get their way, kids refusing to do what I said, and kids crying for their mothers.  It was just stupendous!  Ok maybe I'm being a sarcastic there.  The point is, the kids wasted no time trying to have me for lunch and see just how far they could push me.  I didn't let them down though, a few of them got the well deserved time outs they were seeking. 

After those time outs things started to get better, but not as good as I would have liked them to be.  Sometimes when you have worked with the same kids forever and ever, you forget how far you've come with them.  I think that is how it was with my own kids and my daycare kids before.  My older daycare kids were little angels compared to what I was dealing with my first day here.  But I know they weren't always angels.  It took a lot of hard work to get them to that stage.

The good thing was that I was able to keep perspective.  I knew that it was going to take time to get the kiddos to behave up to my expecations.  They need time to get to know me, trust me, bond with me, and see just how far they can go with me.  Not only was I new for some of them, but the building itself was also new for all of them.  A lot of change for tiny people on day one.

Day two I went in with the determination to lay down the law. We spent a lot of time practicing following directions, walking in straight lines, and not being monkys in the restroom.   It helped.  It's still far from perfect, but I can say we've made big strides of improvement.  The crying is almost down to nil, the kids aren't back talking anymore, and there have been only a few cases of the wanders.  I feel my teacher groove coming back VERY quickly.  I can honestly say I am enjoying the job. 

As I said on facebook, teaching regardless of the subject, just really feels like an old glove.  You never really forget how to do it once you've done it.  It's been 6 years since I have been in a formal teaching setting and it feels like I was just doing it yesterday.  I'm not discounting all the homeschool preschool lessons I did those last 6 years, but I will say that was so much different because it was WAY more casual.

Brennan has done OUTSTANDING!  Her teacher gave me compliments on how sweet she is to work with.  I expected nothing less of her and knew she'd be great!  She is probably one of the easiest students there by far.  The only thing Bren has had trouble with is leaving.  She gets pouty every single day about having to leaving.  Needless to say, there have been no problems getting her adjusted.  She's in her element.  I get to see her during snack time, lunch time, and recess time, so that part has been awesome!  We still get to stay connected throughout the day.

Lastly, coming home to empty house that is not full of other people's kids has been glorious!  As I told my mother, running a daycare feels a bit like when you are showing your house to sell it.  You always feel like your house has to be in tip top condition because you need to make a good impression.  6 years of that gets old fast!  If I don't get everything picked up off the floor before bed time, so be it.  If I leave the kitchen untidy before I walk out the door, so be it.  It's just nice to be able to relax in my home again.  It's a feeling that is hard to describe. 

So anyways, I expect this will be a great year.  Next week I begin my music classes. I'm excited to get that part of my life rolling again.  I also will begin helping out with music worship in the small children's ministry at church.  It's going to be a lot of change for me this year, but I welcome it all.