Sunday, September 6, 2015

Back to School for Anyone and Everyone

Blink! Summer's over. Wow, that was fast!

It's my fault it went so quick. Did I mention at any point in my last post I was taking teacher certification courses over the summer? Well, now you know. And I got a teaching job; a great job in a Title 1 School with an amazing staff. So school has started and we all went back. Here's the proof:
Tinker Bell - 2nd Grade

The Blitz  - 1st Grade

The Captain - 2nd Grade


Special Ed Faculty at Voigt Elementary Yay!

In addition to being back to school, we are back to ball. I should have some photos to post next week but here's one little cutie to warm your heart:

Happy Labor Day Weekend!!

Friday, June 26, 2015

Life in the Fast Lane

Oh, the lazy days of summer!  (This is where you insert that sound of a record scratching to a halt.)

Okay, they haven't exactly been lazy days! If you saw my post on organizing the family for all-day out-of-town sporting events, you have a pretty good idea of how my summer is going.  Here's our schedule:

Monday - recover from the weekend and do a mountain of gross, sweaty laundry (see Saturday and Sunday). I exercise. Take the kids swimming. Reading. Math.
Tuesday - boys have therapy and other appointments; try to squeeze in cleaning the house. I exercise. Reading, Math.
Wednesday - Weight Watchers, I exercise, take the kids swimming; more errands and appointments. Laundry. Try to spend  quality time with husband. Reading, Math.
Thursday - I exercise (see a trend here?, Spend the day finishing the laundry, grocery shopping, prepping snacks and packing for the weekend. Reading, Math.
Friday -  Hit the road early with Sunshine, Tinker and the Blitz. Check into our hotel, head to the ballpark. When we drag back to the hotel late at night, swim the Littles, bathe everyone, get them in bed. I exercise. Meanwhile, Dear Hubby, Pepper, and the Captain stay at home to do the same ball playing with The Captain.
Saturday - Just like Friday without the driving.
Sunday - Just like Saturday except the driving comes at the end of the ball playing and Mama gets a day off of exercise . . . well, after I get in at least 10K steps, that is!

It is a wild and crazy life and I wouldn't have it any other way. There is nothing I love more than watching my kids play ball. And the exercise, well that's about leveling up my own life, so that has to hit the top of my priority chart.

We are also having a lot of fun, so that's what summer's about, right?  Sunday I called Pepper to let her know we were headed home to celebrate Father's Day, and not only had she organized a Father's Day meal, she had also organized a picnic to Barton Creek for Monday!  So much fun and something I'd probably not have gotten to without her support. 

It made me revamp my schedule to decide that Monday will be FUN Day after our busy ball weekends. Yes, the laundry must be done, but so must FUN!

The saving grace in all of this is I do have a master schedule for the week days, so most days we are getting in the kids reading time, sight word games and math. At least we are managing to preserve their brain cells and hopefully avoid the "summer slide." 

This is our last week of our summer round of well-checks, dental appointments, etc., so that will be several hours back in my day. I can finally stop emergency cleaning and get onto decluttering! Yay. In July, we have only Sunshine playing ball so may get some camping in. That said, I am also on the lookout for fun, free family activities, so if you have any ideas for us, send them my way via comments or Pinterest!

Have a wonderful weekend.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Surviving All Stars and Select Tournaments! (In Comfort if Not in Style!) WIth FREE Printable lists.

It's Select and All-Stars season.  For us, that means every weekend we are watching one or more tournaments in the Texas heat and humidity.  Half of the time, we're away from home and staying in a hotel. Special preparations are required to save our lives and our pocketbook!

In true Dreena-fashion, I made a couple of checklists to help us not only survive but thrive during tournament season.  Keep in mind that there are one to three youngsters in tow who are not playing ball so some of these preparations cater to them. My goal is to keep everyone well hydrated and reasonably well fed so that when we have a long enough break to go eat, we are able to make healthier choices. Certainly this strategy would apply to lots of hot-weather activities; think: 4th of July, swim meets, soccer matches; the list is endless.

Here is my packing list for tournament weekends, printable in PDF format. It's two pages.

In case the embedded link doesn't work, here is a direct link.
Here is my shopping list for tournament weekends:
If you include other items in your comfort/survival packs, let me know! I am always working to improve our process.  You too can look this relaxed at the ballpark!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Spring Break Photo Fest

Here are a few photos from our Spring Break camp-out at Galveston Island State Park:

It was verrrrry cold the first day

We woke up to a display of hundreds of these interesting webs.

There is a small cold boy regrouping under here.

The Silly S'more Selfie collection

Pleasure Pier

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Parenting 101: Behavior does not Cause Reactions!

I am reading an interesting book about play therapy. Attachment is an ongoing issue around here. These little ones brought some baggage with them and attachment seems to be the only way to unpack and organize it.

I know all three would benefit from formal attachment therapy, but at what cost? I realized that in order to get even one or two of them in regular therapy, it would necessitate giving up T-ball for the boys. With school, there are simply not enough hours in the week; we barely scrape by as it is, timewise, during ball season. So then comes the necessity of deciding which will benefit them more, play therapy or "play ball."

This book, The Parent Survival Guide: From Chaos to Harmony in Ten Weeks or Less, offers me a chance to do both. I am in the stages of assembling my kit and making my plans, so "special playtimes" haven't started yet. The Captain, on the other hand, is undergoing some sort of new metamorphosis that is not sitting well around here. He has become extremely stubborn and has realized I will not physically make him do anything so is experimenting with simply not doing anything at all -- and or having a giant tantrum -- when I get too directive with him.

I, on the other hand, no candidate for parent of the year, am trying to remember to use the reflective technique the author, Theresa Kellam, teaches in the book. Basically, I am to narrate his behavior, without sarcasm, meanness or irony in my tone. "Oh, you are laying on the floor," "You're pretending you can't hear me," etc. Once I've done that, the next step is to narrate his feelings. "You are angry because I said you can't watch TV."  This part is trickier than it sounds because I don't honestly always know what precipitated the behavior. In that case, it has to be simplified to "you are angry, you are afraid," etc.

It is very hard to remember to do this when a child is pushing my buttons. When I can remember, it works very well. It takes some self discipline too; my first impulse is to push back. A mark of adulthood is having the maturity to regulate my behavior. It seems so obvious but it is so easy to blame the child for my reaction. I cannot control my emotional response but I can control my reaction/behavior. To me, the real irony in all of this is that this is exactly what we are asking our child to do and hoping to teach them. Your emotions/feelings are real and valid; nonetheless, you have to control your reaction.

I have said all this as much to remind myself as to enlighten you. So step one is for me to get very good at the technique just described and, step two, is to gather the tools I need for the therapeutic playtime and implement it as soon as reasonable. I am aiming for getting it started during spring break.

This is a good book with sound principals and no "tricky" parenting. I recommend it for anyone in the trenches.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Fast Food Fast and Food Stamps Budget

It's Ash Wednesday. Somehow I got confused and convinced myself that last week was Ash Wednesday so I am a whole lot more prepared than I would have been then!  Last night we celebrated Fat Tuesday with Fettucini Alfredo, Roasted Chicken and Banana Pudding.  Hence forth, desserts (rare as hen's teeth around here) will only make occasional appearances on Sundays and feast days.

This year we will take our third go at living with a "food stamps budget."  The average SNAP benefit for a family of 6 is about $925/month, about $5.07 per person per day, so that's what we will go with. In our past experience, we have found we can eat healthy food with no problem, but virtually no eating out and very few convenience foods fit our budget.  I am thinking of adding a new spin this year and paying cash to make it easier to be sure we meet our budget. Our Fast Food Fast for Lent is easier with the Food Stamps Budget; we just don't have the resources to grab that food very often or at all.

I have talked to Sunshine about it; teens need advance notice of such things --but I will talk to the little ones tonight over our simple meal of soup and biscuits. They are still young enough to need reminding about Lent and why we make sacrifices.

Sunshine had a great idea: Near the end of Lent, we will take $100 and use it to distribute food to the homeless in our community. This will be an excellent way to "press out" our sacrifice in a way that our children can relate to. Sunshine has a big heart for the less fortunate. I have a few weeks to figure out how best to accomplish this!

Our family does not typically give up sweets for Lent, but we do cut back on having sweets around the house and available. I'm thinking now of the Girl Scout cookies we just bought and how I'd better put them in the pantry until Sunday. Fortunately, I employed a lot of restraint in my cookie purchases.

Well it is Ash Wednesday so I'd better go fix the Littles some lunches or they will eat chicken nuggets at school!  Does your family observe Lent (or something similar) and if so, do you make a sacrifice as a family?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Back to Old Town

A couple of months back, it began dawning on me that the charter school was not the right place for Tinker and The Blitz. It was a tough decision for "bloom-where-you-are-planted" me but in the end, we decided to move them back to their home campus of Old Town Elementary.

We have only had good experiences at Old Town. Initially I started Tinker in a charter school for Kinder so she and The Captain would not be in the same school in the same grade. I wanted him to have a chance to blossom on his own. That worked but since this year, The Captain followed me to Forest Creek, the conflict would not be there. 

We moved them over the break and it has been wonderful. Tinker is getting only "good marks" for behavior and The Blitz has had a total turnaround in writing confidence. They needed a chance to succeed; they are too young to give up on school.

Don't misunderstand; I think their charter school is a great school and we loved our teachers there. The teaching methodology was not a good fit, however, for these two early learners. Additionally, I think the numbers of students who were ahead of grade level also impacts the experience for kids like our little guys.

So, for now, la vie en rose!