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March 2011

February 2011 entries

Turning Over a New Leaf

Last week, I met with Aidan's teacher, who shared some concern for Aidan's behavior in class.  I was surprised, to say the least, because Aidan tells me every day that he's doing great, he's never in trouble, he gets along with all his friends.  Little did I know that he has been acting out for attention and has been taking more of Mrs. Jones's "reward tickets" than she told him to and has been fibbing about minor indiscretions in the classroom. 

Aidan and I met with his teacher (Michael works 45 minutes away and couldn't be there for the meeting) and we had a productive discussion.  Aidan admitted to not telling us the true story about his actions at school because he didn't want to get in trouble at home, too.  I also learned that Aidan's not been cooperative in music class.  (Seriously -- does this kid even KNOW who his parents are???)

That night, Michael and I had another good talk with Aidan.  I think that he really understands what he did wrong; he knows he's disappointed people he cares about.  He's such a sensitive kid -- I think he's really beating himself up too much about the whole thing.  For example, this morning, when he and Gabrielle were kicking and fighting each other as they tried to get as close to me in bed as possible, I told them both to separate and go to their own rooms.  About 5 minutes later, Aidan snuck back to apologize:  "Momma, all I do is let people down."  Poor thing! 

Tonight, as we got the household ready to start a new week, I encouraged Aidan to sit down with us and set some goals for himself.  He came up with four:

1.  Tell the truth.

2.  Be honest about tickets.

3.  Give 100% in music class.

4.  Follow directions.

I drew little check-mark boxes under each goal, for each day of the week.  If Aidan is successful with his goals, he will earn his Pokemon cards back on Tuesday (for mid-week encouragement) and be able to use the Wii and Netflix on the weekend. 

I am sure that he'll do well.  He is a really good kid and he's earnest about trying to do better.  Can't wait to see how this next week goes!


Poker Face (Nonexistent)

Gabrielle:  "Momma, do you know what?"

Me:  "What?"

G:  "Sometimes, I just CANNOT sit still.  I try to, but then these little tingleys in my brain start telling me to MOVE!"

Me: [snort; cover it up like it was a sneeze]

G: "Bless you.  And I know sometimes I have to sit still, but I just have to move.  I just can't help it if my brains tell me to do it."

Me: [failing miserably at keeping a straight face] "Really?" [The end sort of comes out like a laugh.  I can't help it.  The facial expressions on this girl are priceless. Gabrielle's no fool.  She's on to me right away.]


Get a Grip, People.

I think we all know people who seem to love walking up to mole hills and saying, "Hey there -- you look like a mountain to me!  I don't care what anyone else says!  You are definitely a mountain, so don't even try to deny it.  I know a mountain when I see one!" 

For some reason (maybe because I am accutely aware of such personalities), I seem to encounter people like this nearly every day.  People who are always sniffing out a conspiracy, people who have a stranglehold on their benefit of the doubt, people who obsess over the most insignificant details, the most unintentional slight.  And I can't help but wonder how some of these people reached adulthood without having an "Aha!" moment in which they realize the brevity of life plus the mortality of man should be multiplied by patience and perspective over time. 

[Editor's Note: I apologize for my poor attempt at a math metaphor.  I don't even like math.  What was I thinking?]

Seriously, though.  What happened to "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff"?  Because, you know, most of it really is small stuff.  I like to think I'm fairly easy-going and approachable -- "What's that, class?  You all have an AP World test on Thursday, the same day our essay is due?  Let's move our deadline to Friday instead." -- which is ideal in the classroom, because I'm interested in my students' best work, not their harried, stressed-out, gotta-rush-through-this-because-I-have-to-cram-for-that-test work. 

Being easy-going and approachable is downright required as a mother, in my opinion.   We've been all set to walk out the door -- all 5 of us, that is, complete with carseat and diaper bag -- when we've heard the tell-tale sound of Liam needing a diaper change . . .PRONTO!  And, what do we do?  Come back inside, revise our plans, and sometimes, end up running a few minutes late.

I wasn't always this way.  I'm a fairly classic Type-A personality.  I label practically everything I own (much to my students' amusement and my children's frustration); I have lesson plans made up months in advance; I can't rest unless I've finished what I've started.  But, as I've grown older and as I've been blessed with good health and a healthy family, I have cultivated a perspective on life:  I try to focus more on what really matters -- the big "stuff": God, family, friends, creativity, self-actualization -- and less on the minutia -- the trivial things that seem to enthrall those "mountain" spotters: who's first in line, who's last to know, who's paid more, who weighs less. 

I suppose what I can't wrap my mind around is that more than a few of the people I know who tend to dwell on the trivia of daily life are older than I am.  Shouldn't the appreciation for life, for oxygen, for relationships grow over time?  Shouldn't we become more and more patient, more and more appreciative for the blessing of life as we age?  Dammit, shouldn't we know better?

Is there something in our culture that impedes this process?  that stunts this growth?  Is our moral compass so completely askew that we misalign our "true North" with superficial values and rewards?  I can't say I know for sure the answers to these questions.  I think, most likely, it is a combination of factors.  Thinking about the significant issues of life takes energy.  It takes self-reflection and it requires a prioritizing of desires.  It's much easier to allow others (the media, our peers, our society) to determine our value, our ranking of success.  Also, perhaps as we grow older, we have a tendency to lose patience with mankind.  Perhaps we expect younger people to know already what we do now.  And when they don't, maybe we get impatient and frustrated and disenchanted.

All I know is that while I do happen to live in the mountainous region of Central Pennsylvania, I see an awful lot of molehills around here . . . because I know a molehill when I see one.


21st Century Play Date

Last night, Gabrielle invited me to a party in her room.  She wanted "girls only" but graciously allowed Liam to attend "since he's just a baby."  Upon arrival, I was asked what I would like to drink.  I told Gabrielle, "I could use a good cup of coffee."  She surveyed the contents of her dollhouse and reported, "I'm afraid I'm all out of coffee, Mom.  How about some milk instead?"

After enjoying our milk, which I was told, "has calicum and is good for our teeth", we decided to make cupcakes.  Gabrielle asked me for recipe for cupcakes and when I told her we'd need eggs, she again lamented, "I'm afraid I'm all out of eggs.  I'd better go to the store.  You're in charge, Mom."  She went to her drawer, informing me, "I'm going to need my purse, my phone, and my money."  After acquiring all three, she left for the "store" in the hallway.  While there, she called me, asking, "Is there anything else we need at the store?  I'm almost done here."

She returned to the kitchen and we finished the cupcakes, which were delicious.  I struggled to keep a straight face (Gabrielle HATES it when anyone laughs at her when she's being serious) as she mimicked such grown-up behavior.  Monkey see, monkey do: 2011 style. 

Support Public Broadcasting!

In our current budget climate, many belts are being tightened and many programs are being eliminated as a result.  Right now, Congress is considering cutting all funding for public broadcasting.  As an educator, I use National Public Radio as a source for articles and interviews on a variety of topics that tend to be ignored by commerical media.  I can't imagine not having this valuable resource!  Please check out this website, and get involved today:


For Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Aidan wrote the following about his dreams:

"My dream is  Pokemon to be alive.  My dream is Daddy's student did not steal Daddy's phone."

[Editor's Note:  Unfortunately, one of Mike's students took his cell phone last month.  Fortunately, it was returned without damage.]

I think it is incredibly sweet that Aidan was thinking about Dad, even if it was after his Pokemon.

Too Young for Philosophy?

A few nights ago, at the dinner table, I told Gabrielle the timeless aphorism:  "If you keep doing what you've always done, you'll keep getting what you've always got."  I can't even remember the context, to be honest.  Why would I say such a thing to a 4-year-old?  Her reply was also timeless:


"I just farted."

Happy Birthday, Aidan!

Yesterday, my little boy turned SIX!  Incredible, but true.  I woke him up yesterday, telling him, "Happy Birthday, Aidan."  He immediately jumped up and hugged me tight:  "Thank you, thank you, thank you, Mommy!"  Me:  "For what, honey?"  Him:  "For having my birthday on this day!"  What a sweetie!

We had an early morning doughnut run and presents time, followed by a grueling day of kindergarten.  After school, we went to Friendly's for a family dinner.  Tomorrow's his skating party.  And, yes, I ordered the Mr. Sticky's cinnamon rolls that he wanted. 

Happy Birthday, Bug!

Busy Days, Family Fun

This past weekend, Gabrielle and I went to a baby shower for Michael's cousin, Jennifer, who is expecting her first baby at the end of March.  She and her husband, Jeff, have decided on a beautiful name: Cameron James.  What an exciting time for them!  Gabrielle was beside herself to be going to an "all-girls" party with me, Aunt Michelle, and Grandma Tina. 


The next day, Aidan and Gabrielle's friend, Katie had a swim party for her 6th birthday.  Since we've joined the YMCA near our house, Aidan and Gabrielle have become very comfortable in the water.  Aidan rarely wears a floatation belt anymore, and he can't ever get enough of the slide!


And Mr. Liam has been growing like a weed.  At almost 5 months old, he has the most hair of any of our kids.  Yeah.  I said the most.


And as for Mike, well . . . I don't have too many pictures of him since he is the "Papa-razzi".  I can't even get a decent cup of coffee without being harrassed.


He's just soooo artistic.  :)  After the baby shower, we did get a chance to go to a dinner dance held at Lourdes for people involved in the various ministries at the Church.  Linda grabbed the camera and snagged this shot of us: