Friday, September 19, 2008

Good Days, Lots of Praise!

I became a "Blue Hair" much earlier in life than I ever expected as this evening a gaggle of boys wanted to spray it with the colors of our high school for the homecoming game, and so...why not? I bent down and let them do it as well as apply face paint. Go Pirates! We had a wonderful evening with 23 of our our Cub Scouts and their families as we attended the Olathe High School homecoming game after a tailgate party where plenty of hot dogs were consumed, and thanks to several parent volunteers I got to do what I love with the boys. We had several Nerf footballs and spent quite awhile throwing them around with me as the quarterback. Yes, thanks to my Dad I actually CAN thrown a mean spiral quite accurately, and I earned the respect of a few of our Scouts tonight as we enjoyed the warm evening sunset prior to attending the game.

Watching so many other boys as they mature alongside our own sons is an extraordinary gift, one that I am thankful for daily. I love building relationships with "our" Scouts, these wonderful little boys who are changing so quickly and who each have something unique to offer the world. It is a lot of work, and at times a bit overwhelming as I am not a "Creative Babe" nor am I the best organizer so it is a real struggle for me to come up with fun and interesting meeting ideas. We have many new Scouts this year as the program is growing rapidly, much to our surprise. We are well over 30 boys now, having started 2 years ago with only one. We also have 5 more Kindergartners waiting in the wings as they are all siblings of Scouts who can't wait until it is their turn. Joshie has been so patient, and will be so proud the day he finally gets to put on a uniform.

I volunteered this morning for the first time in Matthew's class, and really enjoyed it. It was kind of funny as his teacher asked who knew Mrs. LaJoy and every single hand in the class was raised, and as I looked around the room I saw the faces of children staring back at me whom I have helped learn to read for years...and now we are moving on to more serious writing. Matthew has a really incredibly teacher this year, someone quite gifted at his profession and who was born to teach, it is so obvious. I will be helping with writing on the mornings I volunteer, which I will really enjoy.

Today was a big day for Kenny, he received his first report card with real grading. It was mid-term time, and last year Kenny had not progressed enough where it was fair to grade him on much other than citizenship and classroom behavior. We were very, very proud of him as we read his report card and saw an A+ in social studies along with all B's with the exception of one C in spelling. Of course, he is being graded on the work that is appropriate for him, which is not at grade level but is pretty much first grade work...but he is working very hard and his teachers are all commenting on how much he improved over the summer. I am sure that the Time for Learning online curriculum helped a great deal as we really concentrated on working on that a lot and it helped make up some of the basics that had been missed. We also read a LOT in our house and keep the TV time to a minimum without going overboard and striking it out completely. But mostly I give credit to Kenny's determination and work ethic which even at 9 years old is very strong. Matthew brought home a terrific report card as well with all A's and one B, and I was touched by his desire not to be the center of attention or bring it up much, instead he went out of his way to compliment Kenny on his good work so far and encouraged him to keep working hard. Matthew has no idea what an important factor his attitude has been in Kenny's adjustment and school success. Joshie had no real grades but received some very nice comments on his report as well. I think tomorrow is ice cream day to celebrate their hard work!

I dearly love this phase of our life, and I can see how quickly it will pass. It is easier now that Joshie is a bit older and more able to take care of himself. I loved the "baby stage" and at moments wish we had the opportunity to experience a little more of it, as I feel a little ripped off at moments when I think back to missing a year with both Josh and Matt along with the continuing struggles we had with Josh well into his late toddler years. I missed out on some of the snuggling and rocking, the helpless reliance on me as the mom. I would have liked to know what Kenny was like as an infant, if his personality today mirrors that of his babyhood. The boys are all still at the stage where it doesn't stink to have me around, in fact Matthew was very enthusiastic about having me volunteer in his class again this year even though we don't really interact that much with one another in class and no one would know it. But he even asked me at the beginning of the year if I would still do it even if other parents stopped in 4th grade. I am caware about giving him his space, dipping in and out as appropriate, and without being overly motherly we give one another secret winks when no one is looking. I am not really the "cool" mom as some are, but for some reason I am pretty well accepted by the kids in the various classes I have worked with. I am not sure why, as I don't really work at it, I am not at all "hip" or pretty, and I am certainly not a pushover and don't let them get away with much. In fact, I am pretty demanding and hard on them if I am going to be honest. I have expected that most of them wouldn't care much for me because I expect them to do their best and not slack off, and have been somewhat surprised that they are ok with me.

Tomorrow I had hoped to remain at home and enjoy a quiet Saturday being lazy with everyone, but I think we are going to have no choice but to go to Grand Junction and try once again to re-order Matthew's orthopedic shoes. We ordered them over 2 months ago and they have not arrived, so we cancelled the order and need to get a different brand. Matt was actually almost in tears tonight as his feet and ankles are hurting him so badly. He is currently in some cheapie shoes designed just to get us through until his new ones came in. Alas, that has yet to happen and his feet are really giving him a problem now. I think he had started to adjust to the orthopedic shoes and we had seen some improvement on his pigeon-toed walking, and now it hurts his feet to be in standard shoes. We are hoping to avoid further surgery as he grows older, and when I see the pain he is in now I realize it is definitely worth the exorbitant cost for his special shoes. It was a side effect of malnutrition and rickets that caused it and it was unexpected, as I had never given it a second thought once he did all that catch up growing the first several months. If we don't get it corrected and keep him in the proper kind of shoe, he will continue to have steadily worsening pain and that could cause damage to knee and ankle joints, so we can not ignore the problem.

I also realized I forgot to post what became our final solution to our laundry issues. We had a friend contact us about a front loader washer and dryer set that was for sale in a small town about an hour from us...he had seen it on Craig's list and remembered we were talking about it. The set was a year and a half old and had been used by a single woman to do two loads a week, so was basically brand new. Two loads a week? Ha! I do about 9 or 10 now, and that will increase exponentially this next year. She was asking $650 for the set, which was an incredible bargain, so we went up to take a look at it. The woman was moving in a couple of weeks and had to get rid of it, but no one was willing to drive all the way up there to check it out. Dominick offered her $550 for the pair...and she accepted! Can you believe it? It was like brand new it had been used so seldom. So we ended up getting the set for quite a bit less than the price of one piece of the set. The woman met the boys and ended up giving us several nice board games as well which they will enjoy. We feel so blessed to have stumbled on this deal which really is solving what was becoming a worrisome issue for us. And I am not totally sold on front loader washers after having used this for a week. Man, are our clothes cleaner! I also noticed that softener is actually leaving the clothes softer now, it is more effective than the top loader used to be. AND, most importantly we are using far less water which will be really helpful for our septic system, so Dominick is relieved. I think that now we are prepared, laundry-wise at least, to become a family of 7. My washer and dryer might go into shock with all that impending pink, purple and frilly stuff coming it's way, but at least it will get it clean. And we will be far less likely to wake up one morning to a sewage back up due to a failing septic system.

Oh, the joys of parenthood :-)


Maureen said...

I am glad to hear that you had a good day of fun and football with your scouts.

I was reading about Matthew's orthopedic shoes and wondering how you knew he needed them to begin with? Our son has been diagnosed with rickets and is a little "knock kneed." He doesn't complain of any problems and he seems to run and walk just fine (mostly too fast for me :-)). Did a doctor diagnose Matthew or did he start to complain about pain as he got older? Thanks!

Christina said...

I'm glad to hear that the laundry delima was worked out! How great to be so blessed:) We had our first family campout (the kids on the floor of our room) last Saturday night and it was a hit. I had never really thought about it, then read a blog of yours, and so I mentioned it to my hubby. He was all for it, and the kids have been asking all week if this weekend we could campout again! Funny thing is that when they were first ours, they slept on the floor lots of times becuase they were scared. They dont' really remember being scared now, and just think it is a fun "camp out" experience. We are 2 weeks away from the biological family wedding.... lots of preperation going on and I don't mean packing :)

Michelle said...

i love my front loader - it is way easier for the little ones to help load know how everyone loves to help! frilly pink and purple clothes and hair accessories found in every nook and cranny and every load of wash!