Wednesday, May 24, 2017

An iPod Lesson

This evening, the boys were having a difficult time calming down and getting settled for bed. It's been a trend of this, the last few weeks - an argument between the two of them, Chase being loud while Cole was trying to fall asleep, Cole demanding a book from Chase... and its worse at night, when my patience is low and I'm tired.

Earlier this year, I caved and allowed  Cole to listen to his beloved ipod at night until 7:30 - it kept the boys from baiting each other and provided a quiet buffer for Cole to fall asleep without Chase's loud noises.  It was working super well - everyone was falling asleep earlier.  But Cole's ipod hasn't made an appearance in a couple of weeks, and despite my inquiries, Cole insisted it wasn't broken and everything was fine.

Finally, this evening, I climb into Cole's top bunk to snuggle him a bit before bed.  Something about the quiet, the dark, the before bed... Cole's defenses are down, he's more likely to open up to me so we can talk.  I tread carefully during this time - I don't want to abuse the privilege of his confidence by nagging, attacking, or accusing.  I gently ask him if I can take his ipod downstairs to put a new book on it - he quickly answers, "No, that's ok."  "Are you sure?  I have three new good ones, I know you'll love them."

Suddenly, he breaks down, sobbing in my arms.  I hold him close and ask him as non-accusingly as possible - "Cole, is your ipod broken?"

He looks up with a tearstained face and the words tumble out, tripping over each other in their haste to get out. "Yes - it's locked again - I'm sorry, I didn't mean to -"

My first instinct is to hold him close.  I can feel his shame.  I'm so sad he's been holding onto this burden for weeks.  He's embarrassed, he's worried we'll be angry with him, he's been missing his most cherished object. 

And I'm heartbroken, for him and for me.  You see, one of my main goals as a parent is to be my children's rock: the one they can come to, no matter what.  I want my children  to know no matter what, they can rely on their mama to help them. Kids make mistakes - little kids make little mistakes, big kids make big mistakes.  I don't want my son to be afraid to ask me for help when he slips up and makes a wrong choice, whether it's accidentally pressing a wrong button on his ipod or making a wrong choice and getting drunk at a friend's house as a teenager.  Fear of parental wrath has escalated so many situations into tragedies.

I remember growing up, my parents had a rule. Anytime, anywhere, any situation, if we called them they would come pick us up, no questions asked.  It didn't matter if we were drunk, if we were at an unsupervised party, if we had missed curfew.  I never had to use it, but I was always comforted in knowing that my safety was the biggest importance.

I'm always working on finding the balance in parenting.  My latest goal is to find the balance between disciplining our children and fostering the trust and understanding between us, so they know they can always come to us for help if they make a mistake.  That's my job as a parent - to help my children navigate this tricky world we live in. And how can I do that if they are too afraid to come to me for help?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Crazy Driver!

Isla had entirely too much fun driving the shopping cart the other day!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Train Park

Last week we finally made it to our local mini Railroad Park.  It's super close to our house, but for some reason we haven't been in a couple of years.  It was the first time for Chase and Isla and it was SO fun!

Just look at these happy faces!



Isla LOVED it! She was giggling and laughing and "WHOA!! WHOOOOAAAAA!!!" the whole time!

A couple of train-loving boys!





Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Faster

It's always the little things that sneak up on me.  I'm mentally prepared for the big ones - the first steps, the first time sleeping in a toddler bed, the first day of school, driver's test... but the little milestones are sneaky.  I'm not ready. 

One day at the park, I put Chase in the toddler safety swing, and the next day I didn't.  My big boy - holding on so tight as he begs me: "FASTER MAMA! I WANT TO GO SO FAST!"
You are going so fast, little guy.  Slow down just a bit for your mama, ok?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Spring has Sprung!

I think spring has finally arrived in the valley! We've had more sunny and warm days than not the past few weeks, a sure sign the season is upon us. I can't wait for summer - park playdates, Cole's summer vacation, and running through sprinklers!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

School: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

We're almost all the way through Cole's first year of public school now, and my brain has been going 'round and 'round about what to do for next year.  So here's the lowdown on Cole's education:

Cole has been in first grade at our local Waldorf Public Charter School, but we have a couple other options for next year if we choose to move him.

The Good:
  • Cole LOVES school.  He adores his wide group of friends, he loves his independence, he enjoys getting his boundless energy out in a social setting.
  • I enjoy the variety of educational opportunities offered at Cole's school.  This year, he's learning American sign language, Spanish, handwork (knitting - it's Cole's favorite!), woodworking, music, (eventually he'll learn a string instrument) and has daily Games class (similar to PE).  Compared to public school, which is bare bones of reading and math, I feel as though Waldorf education is more broad and whole-child based.
  • Chores.  I love love love that the last fifteen or so minutes of every day is spent doing chores in the classroom.  The school custodian is part-time, so the kids take the recycling out, dump the trash in the community trash bin, sweep the floors, etc.  They are responsible for every bit of cleaning and it's amazing.
  • A huge focus of Waldorf education is preserving the environment and nature.  I totally respect the dedication the whole school has to using less waste, eating healthier and more balanced meals, and teaching the children by example.
  • Small class sizes.  Cole's class has only 26 students, absolutely no more.  Since public school first grades are getting upwards of 32, 33 students, this is a plus.

The Bad:
  • It's a loooonnnnggggg day away from home.  I miss Cole SO much most days, and I feel like our relationship is not as close with him being away for such a long stretch.  On the same vein, I feel as though we are incredibly busy.  Mornings are go go go getting breakfast, teeth brushed, lunch made, and out the door, then we are home around 3:45, just in time for Cole to play for a bit while I make dinner and bath and bed between 6:00-7:00.  It feels rushed, and being rushed doesn't bring out my patient side. I worry about preserving Cole and Chase's incredibly close relationship. 
  • Of course, any school setting is going to bring out some of the worst - we've had some situations of Cole practicing some behaviors (and words!) at home that he learned at school.  Totally normal and expected, but still frustrating.
  • I didn't expect it to be so time consuming and difficult to transport Cole.   Even if bussing were an option, which it isn't, I wouldn't put him on the bus (I learned all the major swear words AND how to spell them in my first week of kindergarten on the bus).  But that means about an hour and a half out of my already busy day is loading/unloading my various kids from their car seats to get Cole to school and pick him up.  It's a real pain, and it's super hard on poor Isla's nap schedule.
  • A big concern for me with any school that is based on a philosophy is how dogmatic they are with their philosophy.  I admire educational philosophies that reflect the most recent research about children's minds and learning.  Waldorf education is based from an educational philosophy that's over a hundred years old - there have been huge strides in what we know about how children learn in the last one hundred years.
  • On that note, I'm also a little concerned with his quality of education.  I desperately want Cole to be a creative thinker, to be curious, to truly LOVE learning.  I want his educational experience to be relevant to him; I want his teachers to lead him on a path to discovery, not simply force feed him information to be regurgitated. I'm not entirely sold on how high-quality his education is at his current school.
  • He's not getting quite enough STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, math) subjects in his daily classes, which is a concern for me - particularly with science and art.
  • I'm also not entirely sure how much of his day is spent sitting at his desk. While Cole is super well behaved, any six year old is bound to get squirrely sitting for long periods of time - kids' bodies are just not meant to be sitting!  Kids are sensory-seeking, energetic, and their brains turn on with movement.  I was hopeful that Waldorf education would expound on this, but every time I pop into Cole's classroom, the kids are seated at their desks.
  • Fundraising.  Just once, I'd love for the military to have to hold bake sales and auctions to raise their funds for the year.  I loathe fundraising with a passion and I hate that I have to take time out of my already busy schedule to do it. 

So we have a lot of pros and cons to discuss and figure out in the next few weeks.  Education is so vitally important to me, I feel a lot of pressure to get it right for our kids!  Wish us luck as we figure this next step out!

Friday, April 28, 2017

Chess

One of my favorite things about Cole growing older is being able to do so many new and interesting activities with him.  I've loved watching Chris teach him how to play chess this winter - piece by piece, building on strategy and patiently explaining such a complicated game.



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