Saturday, October 19, 2013

Bragging On My Babies (the big ones and the little one)

I know I haven't blogged a whole lot.  It's just that I'm busy.  So busy!  And every time I say that, which is A LOT (I'm sure I sound like a broken record.  And I'm also sure I've decided I'm just not going to say, "I'm busy," anymore.), people look at me like I've grown three horns and an extra eye.  I suppose it's just ludicrous to think a stay-at-home mom is busy.  Worse yet, what about the stay-at-home mom who just can't seem to keep up and has a longer to-do list at the end of the day than at the beginning?  GASP!

Here's a little glimpse of my life.  Every morning except Saturday begins at 5:00am:
Sundays - Church Day:  teach 4/5 year Sunday School class, play the piano for worship, direct choir practice
Mondays - I try to catch up on laundry, pick up around the house and prep three days worth of meals before leaving to pick the kids up from school so Mason can go to Speech and Educational Therapies.  Oh, yeah, and play with Ellie!
Tuesdays - This is my third year in Bible Study Fellowship.  But this year I was asked to be a Children's Leader so I co-teach the young 2's class while their mommies are in Bible study on Wednesday mornings.  So my Bible study and Leaders' Meeting are on Tuesday mornings.  Ellie and I leave around 7:45 to go to Baton Rouge.  We usually get home with only a couple of hours or less before having to leave to pick the kids up from school so Hannah Kate can go to dance.  During that time, I finish supper so it will be ready when we get home and do laundry.
Wednesdays - Ellie and I again leave around 7:45 to go to Baton Rouge for BSF.  Again, we usually get home with only a couple of hours or less before having to leave to pick the kids up from school to go back to Baton Rouge so Mason can go to Occupational and Educational Therapies.  Just like Tuesdays, I finish supper so it will be ready when we get home.
Thursdays and Fridays - Basically I spent these two days catching up on laundry and housework and grocery shopping.  I try to go grocery shopping or run errands after Bible study or even during therapy sessions, but that doesn't always work out.  If I haven't finished my Sunday School lesson or music for Sundays, I'll work on that, too.

Seth has been working a lot in Wyoming lately.  Yes, you read that correctly.  Wyoming.  He's actually there right now.  It started snowing about three weeks ago, and it has snowed on him everyday this week.  He called me on Monday complaining about the snow and the cold.  I told him he was more than welcome to come home and help Mason with his science fair and social studies projects.  Otherwise, he could stop complaining and build a snowman.  He decided on the latter.  I haven't seen a picture of a snowman.  But neither have I heard anymore complaining.  Except yesterday he did say that it was REALLY cold.  Cry me a river, buddy!  Science fair project, anyone?  That's what we spent our Saturday working on today.

The hot and humid days of summer and early fall have finally given way to some not-so-hot days.  I did try boots and leggings this week, but it's still a little warm for that.  It isn't too warm, however, to enjoy being outside.  Last Friday the big kids didn't have school so we went to the zoo.
I didn't take a lot of pictures, mainly because I was chasing a certain 15-month old around.  But they're always a sucker for the tiger cage.  Even Ellie had fun with it.
This picture makes me smile.  These children bring so much joy to my days.  
This week at school was one of the kids' favorite weeks of the year.  It was Pink Week.  There were activities throughout the week and opportunities to dress up each day to raise money for cancer research.  Yesterday was Pink Day.  Mason requested pink hair.  Hannah Kate wanted just the ends of her hair pink.  This was Abbie's suggestion.  The tips of her hair actually just blended in with her shirt.  Mason's hair was a lot pinker than what this picture shows. 

Report cards came home this week, too.  This year I'm a lot more relaxed when it comes to grades, and I don't have to constantly monitor Mason's test grades online.  Most weeks I even forget to look.  I could've looked at his report card online, but I didn't even do that either.  So Wednesday afternoon we were on our way to therapy when Mason matter-of-factly from the back seat informed me that he had all A's and B's on his report card.  All A's and B's?  And that's it?  No other letter grades?  I asked him to pass his report card up to me so I could see it.  And there it was.  A B IN READING!  And not just a B, but a B that is only two points away from being an A!  I couldn't believe it!  I knew he'd had a lot of B's on his reading tests lately and even an A three weeks ago.  

Regarding this test in particular, Mason came home and told me that the reading test that was was really hard and that it was so hard that most of the kids in his class made a D.  Well, that usually means that he makes an F.  I was shocked when he said he made a B on this test.  A few days later, he came home with the test.  Because the majority of the class scored poorly, his teacher went back over it again and adjusted everyone's grades.  So he ended up with an A!  This was the first A he's ever made on a reading test!  EVER!

I just can't tell you how proud we are of him!  He is working so hard!  We have so much encouragement and support from his educational, speech and occupational therapists and his teacher, too.  This year is, by far, the best start we've ever had to a school year.  I can also tell you that the Lord recently blessed us with another victory.  Mason is now receiving 504 services under Bulletin 1903 (Louisiana's state dyslexia law) at school.  This means that the school has finally recognized that Mason is indeed dyslexic (he had to complete yet another educational evaluation and some additional testing) and was at a disadvantage from the rest of his peers who do not have a learning disability.  So some accommodations have been put in place to help level the playing field for him.  For example, one of the accommodations is that he has more time to take his reading tests.  I fought for this for eight months.  And when I say fought, I mean FOUGHT.  But it was worth it, and if I had to do it all over again, I would!  What I really wanted to do was say I TOLD YOU SO to the "powers that be," but I just graciously acknowledged their conclusion and then nearly went dancing down the hall like Annie did in that scene in Field of Dreams after she called Beulah a Nazi Cow during the discussion of the differing interpretations of Terrance Mann's book and delivered her emblazoned plea against censorship at the PTA meeting.  Now, I'm not calling anyone a Nazi Cow.  But that's one of my favorite scenes from that movie, and I've always loved Annie's passion and enthusiasm and especially her reaction as she was walking down the hall afterwards.  That's what I felt like after our 504 meeting that day.

But I digress.  Mason's report card, and Hannah Kate's, too, were something to be celebrated.  So I came home with Mason's favorite cookie cake yesterday.  I surprised him after school, and he was so excited.        
I couldn't get the cake for Mason and not do anything for Hannah Kate (because she couldn't have done any better on her report card either!) so I got her a new hair bow.  That's what she's holding in her hand.  It's cheetah print with a hot pink H embroidered on it.  Did you know that cheetah print is a neutral?  I know!  I felt the same way at first.  But now I get it!  I just found that out a couple of weeks ago, and it has revolutionized my wardrobe!  Well, not really, but I'm on the cheetah print train these days.  I'd seen this hair bow earlier in the day and really wanted to get it for Hannah Kate, but I didn't because I couldn't justify it.  So after I got the cake for Mason, I realized I could indeed justify the hair bow so I went back and got it.
Besides being so proud of Mason for how hard he is working at school and in therapy, I'm just beyond blessed to have him as my son!  He has so much energy and enthusiasm for pretty much everything in life.  He lives it to the fullest and to the loudest.  He is growing up for sure.  I bought new blue jeans a few months ago, and now I'm doing it again because those are too short.  He has recently become very interested in sports, as in watching sports (baseball and football in particular) and understanding what is going on and who the teams are and who he wants to cheer for and why.  He is such a great big brother!  He loves both of his sisters very much.  He is especially protective of Ellie.
Hannah Kate experienced her first field trip last week.  We went to the pumpkin patch, and she had a great time.  I'm so glad I was able to go with her and spend the day with her.
Hannah Kate is really loving school right now.  She just loves everything about it and truly embraces learning.  She's always very excited each day to tell me what all she did and what she learned.  She looks forward to their new sight words and letters each week.    She is very creative and is always drawing new pictures and stories and cutting and pasting things.  She, too, is a great sister to both her big brother and her little sister.
And this little girl . . . oh my is she something!  I love spending my days with her.  She is so funny and always gives me something to laugh about.  She talks constantly.  Her vocabulary is growing daily.  She can say a lot of words now.  Some of her new favorites are juice, bath and thank you.  She loves to look at books.  She also loves music.  Her favorite toys are those that play music, and she also loves to dance.  She loves to give kisses.  I think that's mainly because she likes to make the "smacking" sound.  It's the cutest thing ever!  Oh, and she loves to wave!  She has that Miss America wave down!  No matter where we go, she's waving at folks . . . in the line at the grocery store, in the carpool line, at cars in the parking lot.  She waves when we leave to go somewhere, when I put her down for a nap and when she goes to bed.  She's also a very loving, affectionate child.  She enjoys giving hugs and sitting in my lap.  She also likes to rub my arm, especially when she's tired.  She's a picky eater though.  A very picky eater.  She might be a little better than Mason, but that's about it.  She'll eat sweet stuff all day long if I let her.  Other than that, she likes corn, chicken, sometimes macaroni and cheese and hotdogs (gross, but I buy only the expensive, organic, "real" ones).  She will not leave a headband or a bow in her hair at all.  That's such a bummer, especially considering all of the cute hair candy she has.  Her hair is very different from Mason's and Hannah Kate's.  It is very straight and doesn't have any curl or wave in it at all.  
I thought it was finally cool enough last night to put her in footie pajamas.  Well, not really, but I did it anyway.  I'm just a sucker for footie jammies!  She was being so silly.  She LOVES playing with her big brother and sister.  

But this girl is a mess, too!  This is what she does when she doesn't get her way.  She throws herself down on the ground.  One day she's going to hit her heard so hard that she's going to knock herself out.  Not really.  Hopefully.  Right here she was mad because we weren't going back through these red doors to the wild bird habitat at the zoo.  I think she mainly wanted to just open and close doors, but you have to keep the doors closed so the birds won't fly out.
And last but not least, I wanted to share this picture with you.  This was the sunrise at my house yesterday morning.  The sky was full of pink, just like Mason's and Hannah Kate's hair!  There were some oranges, too.  The fog was lifting from the field beside us.  And it was just gorgeous!  These are some beautiful days the Lord has blessed us with!  They are mostly beautiful because of the people in it, particularly my husband and three babies!

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Book reports are NOT what they used to be.

So the last time I wrote, it had been a really tough week.  And I wasn't looking forward to the next week (which was last week a week ago!) because Mason had a book report due.

Book report.  You know, that means you have to read a book.  Which he did.  And then you have to write a report.  Or so I thought.  Book report.

When we went to orientation at the beginning of the school year, I remember signing a "book report" form in the midst of all the 79 forms I had to sign times two by the time I signed all of Hannah Kate's forms also.  And I'll be honest.  I signed that book report form without reading it.  Because I knew that meant we'd have to read a chapter book, and we'd not yet been able to do that before.  So I didn't want to even think about it.  I signed the form because I had to, but I didn't read it.  Nor did I make a copy of it to keep for myself, which is something else rather unusual for me.  But, again, I was really just trying to make the book report go away.

So then the book report showed up on the September calendar, and it was due at the end of the month.  I don't usually procrastinate.  And since we're just taking things one day at a time over here, I didn't particularly want to borrow trouble too early.  So two weeks before the report was due, I started looking for my book report form, and I couldn't find it.  I figured Mrs. B would send another form home with all of the kids just for good measure.  But a few more days passed, and I still didn't have it.  The weekend before it was due, I emailed her and asked her to send home a copy with Mason the following Monday.  She said she would and even invited me to come to class on Monday to look at some of the examples she'd shown the kids in class.  Examples?  Of a book report?

Now look.  I can write a book report.  As a matter of fact, I sort of secretly love writing book reports!  Not that I was looking forward to helping Mason write a book report, but still.  I live by the 3.5 (three point five) rule - you write five paragraphs with three main points.  The first paragraph is your introduction.  The next three paragraphs are your three main points.  And the last paragraph is your conclusion.  Five paragraphs.  Three points.  Done.  Book report.  Sure, I didn't exactly write 3.5s in college, but the concept is still the same.

So I'm thinking 3.5.  My only question was whether or not the book report could be typed (I was hoping so!) and if there was a length requirement (I was hoping not!).  In the meantime, I asked Mason about the so-called book report examples that Mrs. B said she'd shown them in class.  And, of course, he had NO IDEA what I was talking about and looked at me like I'd grown three horns and an extra eye.

So Monday came, and I stopped by his classroom when I picked them up from school.  I knew we were in trouble as soon as I saw the book report examples.  I got a copy of the book report form, and we left to go to therapy.  All the way there all I could think about was that we had only four nights to complete the "book report."  And I had no idea how in the world that was going to happen.

Because . . . let me just tell you.  A "book report" is NOT what it used to be!  There are ten options for the book report.  Mason will complete four book reports during the year, and he has to choose a different option each time.  Here are the options:

1.  Write a different ending to the story you have read.
2.  Design a new book jacket for your book.
3.  Find a shoebox and construct a DIORAMA of a scene from the book.  (Oh.  What is a diorama? you ask.  Because unless you're in 3rd grade, you might not know.  You basically create a scene from the book using all kinds of different materials you can find, such a paper and stuff.)
4.  Write a TV commercial on the book you have read.
5.  Write a sample book review for a school newspaper.
6.  Write a letter to your best friend advising him/her to read your book.
7.  Construct a mobile of characters in your story and hang them from a clothes hanger.
8.  Choose an interesting scene from your book and illustrate it (must be at least 12x18 in size).
9.  Make a storyboard/comic strip illustrating important scenes with captions from the book.
10. If a movie has been made of your book, compare and contrast the movie version to the written one.  (REALLY?!?  We are in THIRD grade.)

Book report.

So we talked about this on our way to therapy that day.  And, of course, Mason wanted to do the diorama.  Just my luck.  Oh, and by the way, how in the world he totally missed out on all of the dioramas and mobiles and book jackets that were displayed in the classroom for the kids to see as examples is BEYOND ME.  I asked him what scene he wanted to construct, and he immediately knew what he wanted to do.  And I started thinking.  While he was in therapy, I ran to Hobby Lobby to purchase a few supplies for his diorama.  Yes, I did!

Mason was so excited when I showed him all of the supplies, and he knew exactly what to do with them.  He worked on the diorama Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday nights and had it ready to turn in a day early on Thursday.  He absolutely loved working on his project, mainly because he got to use the glue gun all by himself.  It really was so refreshing to see him actually enjoy something that has to do with school.  Here he is with his diorama.
The book that Mason read was Four Mice Deep in the Jungle.  It tells the story of Geronimo Stilton, a mouse who was afraid of EVERYTHING.  His family finally orchestrated an intervention of such, and he ended up facing all of his fears in a boot camp type situation in the jungle with three other mice.  At one point, they had to cross a river in the jungle via a rope that was suspended over the river.  As they were going along, one of the other mice just couldn't hold on any longer and fell into the dangerous waters below.  Without giving it a second thought, Geronimo let go also so he could fall into the river and save his friend.  This is the scene Mason chose to illustrate.

I found some scrapbook paper with forest trees all over it so that's what he cut and lined the box with.  He glued florist foam to the bottom of the box and then stuck pieces of faux ivy in it that we cut apart for the trees and foliage in the jungle.  He covered the foam with shredded green paper for the grass.  He used blue tinsel for the river, brown ribbon for the rope over the river, blue paper for the sky and cotton balls for clouds.  I really wasn't sure what we were going to do about the two mice, and I told him that.  But he knew exactly what he wanted to do.  He wanted to make them out of play doh!  And I thought that was a great idea.  Granted, I wouldn't have made them like he did, but I was not about to say anything.  I have to say this "book report" really wasn't so bad after all!  
The week that I wasn't looking forward to really turned out to be a great week for us!  And, not only that, but Mrs. B also mentioned to me that Mason had a great week the week before, one of his best weeks yet.  That was the week that I thought was our worst!  All I can say is that God has done some GREAT THINGS for us during these past couple of weeks, and I can only thank Him for His mercy and grace and love.  This applies to "book reports," too!

Now to Him who is able to do EXCEEDINGLY ABUNDANTLY ABOVE ALL that we ask or think . . . ~Ephesians 3:20

Are you in need of something?  ASK HIM!