Thursday, September 27, 2007

Bad Mommy!

I was editing photos tonight and came across something that shamed me to no end.

Tristan's birthday is in late August, the last bit of summer. I took tons of pictures of his party. It was an event ... bowling with his friends. 12 kids in all. Cupcakes. Presents. Chaos. I captured it all. Even remembered to do some posed shots of him on his 9th birthday.

Fast forward 2 weeks to Chase's birthday. Mid September. School has started. There's a soccer game. And the Sauerkraut festival. Chase has a slumber party with his 3 closest friend. I take one picture of him ... and a horrible one at that.

Ugh. I suck!

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Stick an L on my forehead ...

because I'm officially a loser. Life has been so busy that I haven't taken the time to update my blog in weeks. So this is my catch-up post for you all.

We did change the kids school. They started a week and a half ago.

It's definately a change for us all. The frienship pool is smaller, since there are only 80 kids in all of the K-6 school. I think it's been a bit hard, especially for Chase, to make new friends at this school. Thankfully he still has his neighborhood friend Brenden and we've promised to try to have his friends over more often now that he isn't going to school with them. Tristan is a bit luckier, as he has one of our neighbors in his class. Plus he's already make friends with a boy who lives on the island. Good for him. Carissa is, of course, the social butterfly and has a new BFF, Gyllian. She seems to be doing well with that and is enjoying her new school.

Academically the changes have been quite big. Carissa's teacher does individualized reading levels with her kids and Carissa started in level 14 (out of 23). Most 1st graders start at level 1 so we were pleased to see her so high. She's a great reader though and she's proud of her reading level (she's already moved up to level 16). She also has her own caterpillar that just turned into a chrysalis. They're looking forward to letting them lose in the butterfly garden after they've transformed.

Tristan's teacher is just awesome. She has tons of field trips planned and has others coming to the school for demonstrations for the kids. He has been doing a moon journal nightly to study the phases of the moon. His spelling is still too easy but I'm hoping that he will move up to the next level or be given more challenging words.

Chase is always my problem child when it comes to the educational system. He doesn't tell me much about what's going on and his teacher is a bit hard to read. She has great ideas but I don't know how much of that has made it into the classroom. He is way advanced of his age group and I don't know whether she's had the time to test him for math advancements or not. I just really feel lost here so we'll see how things pan out. It is stressful for me ... I'm just worried about whether we did the right thing, whether he will fit in, whether he will be able to learn how to work hard at something instead of just having A's given to him. My migraines have been bad lately because of the stress and worry ... I'm hoping that will subside over time.

Aug. 31st was Tristan's 9th birthday. He had a bowling party and lots of fun with his friends. Sept. 15th was Chase's birthday (bad mommy forgot to take pictures at his birthday slumber party!!!). It was a busy day because it was soccer pictures, soccer game and the Sauerkraut Festival, our towns annual community celebration. Brian had to work it but called me to come watch the cabbage bowling competition between the Police Dept. and the Fire Dept. He did GREAT (a strike, a spare and 9 pins in his 3 rounds) and was definitely the top bowler of the Police Dept. They had a lot of fun even though they lost to the Fire Dept. by ONE PIN.

Since Belle left Brian has been wanting another pet. He's just an animal lover, I tell you. But this one is definitely ALL HIS, as I'm not particularly fond of this particular species.

This is Coral, Brian's new milk snake. She is very pretty and all but there's something about snakes that just sits wrong with me. Nonetheless, she graces a place in our front room now. The kids like her a lot and like to hold her, though none of them were really wanting to see her catch and eat the adorable little mouse that was her food this week.

Thank you to all who voted for me in the Scrapbook Warehouse "Queen of the Crop" contest. While I didn't win the popular vote (95 votes for me, 100 for another layout), I did win the judges vote and thus was named "Queen of the Crop". I came away with this awesome prize package:

My absolutely favorite piece is the Making Memories trimmer. That sucker sells for over $50 and I normally would never own it because of that. But I'm excited to get it out of it's box and play with it! In addition to that I got a CropADile, two carstock stacks, the entire line of My Minds Eye Bohemia papers and embellishments, two albums, and tons of other goodies. A nice little prize package. Best of all, it came in this adorable wooden trunk that I just can't wait to alter.

Soccer is in full swing - literally. See what I mean ...

That's Carissa (#30) and her teammate Aurora swinging their arms during a recent game. Can you tell that she's not really into it? She'd much rather talk and play with the other little girls. She did manage a goal the first game but only because the ball landed right in front of her and she just booted it into the goal. She doesn't like running after the ball and she hates when she gets accidently tripped or hit by the ball. I have a feeling that she won't be playing again next year, but it's cute to watch her anyways. Such a girly girl ...

So there you go. That's the update. Take care all.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Why do we have to be good people?

Seriously. Why can't we just be mean people for once?

Today Belle's previous owners called... again. It was our 3rd call from them since we adopted her 5 days ago. This time they were calling to ask us if we could find it in our hearts to give her back. Debbie has apparently been crying since she gave her up and realizes now that she should not have done so. They really wanted her back.

After much deliberation between ourselves and after talking to each of the kids we decided to give her back. We just couldn't deny that our 5 days worth of attachment was nothing compared to the 5 months worth of attachment that Debbie had. And Belle had a good home with Debbie.

None of us are particularly happy with the situation. We liked Belle. She fit our family. Sure, she had a lot to learn but she was doing fairly well here.

But we really wanted to be good role models for our kids. We wanted them to learn that we must think not only of ourselves and our feelings but the feelings of others as well. It was a hard lesson to learn. There were tears and frustration from us all, but we feel that we did the best we could possibly do given the situation.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

In other news ...

I won! I am one of Scrapbook Warehouses Queen of the Crops! I was the winner of the contest for the Newport store and will soon go pick up my prize package of $300 worth of scrapbook products. Thank you to all that voted for me! I truly appreciate the support.

The other pressing subject is one that has me constantly worried. It's school. We have fairly good schools here in Scappoose. Sure, the class sizes are slightly large but the schools still have some extra programs and are fairly well supported. They work for most families, but I'm not sure they're working for ours. See, our kids are special. Really. I'm not just saying that. Tristan and Carissa are well ahead of most of their classmates. Chase in particular is a very, very bright child.

I remember our first school experience with Chase. He was days shy of turning 3 and we decided to send him to 3 year old preschool. We walked into the classroom that first day and he asked where the puzzles were. The teacher pointed out the puzzles to him and he just looked at her and said "no, where are the real puzzles?". She had pointed out the board puzzles with 6 or 7 large pieces fit together to make the picture. He wanted what he was used to doing at home, 100 piece puzzles. And I remember the summer between kindergarten and first grade. He read the entire Harry Potter book that summer all on his own ... at age 6! Right now he is reading the entire encyclopedia from A to Z. These things made me realized how smart he was and how hard finding good education was going to be.

This has been an ongoing issue. Each year I have to argue and cajole the teacher into more difficult work for him. Sometimes they will do it, sometimes they won't. Some years he learns quite a bit. Other years are a total wash for him.

Fast foward to today. He's in 5th grade. His spelling words this week include "worse", "skirt", "accident", "hospital" and "remedy". The challenge words include "emergency" and "universe". These words are nothing for Chase. He got them all right the first time I asked him to recite them orally. There is no challenge here. There is no difficulty factor. There is no trying for him. And with 30 kids in her class this teacher doesn't have a lot of time to put together extra lists for him. Sure, she'll do it once I pressure her time and again to do so. But that solves just one one subject of the many he has. School is WAYYYY too easy. He doesn't know how to work hard. He doesn't know what it means to have to study. He doesn't know what it is like to sometimes fail at something. School is no challenge for him. When I'm working in his class I can see his boredom. I can see him fidgeting and standing up and reading when he's bored. I can see how, in coming years, he could totally lose interest in education because of his boredom.

I see how Carissa and Tristan are following in many of Chase's footsteps. I can see how many times they aren't challenged. How they just skate by without trying. How they take for granted how easy things are for them.

We just plain can't afford private school. No question about it, it's just not in the cards for us. But here we do have one more option. That is to send them to a little school on Sauvie Island, about 20 minutes from Scappoose. This school currently has 77 kids total in grades K-6. The kids are in mix classrooms, meaning that the 1st & 2nd graders share a classroom, the 3rd & 4th graders share, the 5th and 6th graders share. Sauvie is used to catering to kids with different ability levels. They offer the opportunity for kids to test out of the "average" level classwork and instead work a grade ahead. They have teachers who take 1 on 1 time with the kids and who have aids in their classrooms to help out. They have extra teachers for subjects like art. They are even considering adding on a Spanish teacher!

There are so many positives to having the kids move to that school. But there are negatives too. The social issue is the biggest thing for me. Chase would have to leave his group of friends that he's made at Peterson. He'd go to a school where there are 10-12 kids in his grade. He would have a much more limited choice of friends and those friends he did make there would probably live near the school, which is fairly far away from us. That's the other issue. The drive. It's 20 minutes. Yes, there is a bus. It picks up the same time as the bus they currently take, but instead of having 3o minutes down time at their school they would be on the bus most of that time. They would get home an hour later than they currently get home. They'd barely be home in time for Tristan to get to Tae Kwon Do.

So I don't know what to do. I'm wracking my brain here considering all the positives and negatives. Considering whether 2 years at Sauvie will make a huge difference for Chase (the other kids would have longer, but Sauvie kids head to Scappoose once they reach mid school). Would I lose my right to have my kids go to Grant Watts again if we decide Sauvie isn't right for us? (We're currently grandfathered in, but if we move them will they let us move back? Or will we have to go to the other school the rest of the neighborhood kids go to? *shudder*) Is it the right decision for them socially? Or should I worry only about their academics?

I'm really trying to make this decision soon, as I don't want the kids getting too invested where they are if they are just going to change schools. *sigh* So much to think about. I just really don't know what to do ...

Friday, September 07, 2007

Why do I do these things to myself?

Seriously? Why do I do this?

Today was Tristan's birthday party. 8 boys invited blossoms into a total of 12 kids. It was at the bowling alley. There were 12 cupcakes, 4 pizzas and 3 pitchers of pop consumed. $5 worth of quarters were gone in a matter of minutes. Utter chaos I tell you, but Tristan sure enjoyed his 9th birthday party.

We came home and low and behold the neighborhood friends want to play. We have a great little group of friends here though so I didn't mind. Then Tristan wants his friend JT to spend the night. Then Chase wants Brenden to stay. And Carissa wants Anwen. So guess where they all are right now? In my house of course.

I started out with 16 kids in my preschool class. Then had 12 kids at a party. Now 6 kids to spend then night. Oh, I also have that 8 month old bulldog who loves to stealthily steal the kids shoes and toys. Why do I do this to myself?!?

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Day 2

Day 2 of school and we're already back in the swing of things. I started teaching again today too and I feel like schedule and order have taken over the chaos of summer. It is SOOOOOO wonderful!

Of course, I must always complicate my life a little more. I guess I should say that BRIAN must always complicate my life a little more, since this next complication is all his.

Meet Belle, the newest addition to our family.

Belle has been a long time coming. Brian has wanted an English bulldog for as long as I can remember, but one look at the price tag convinced him otherwise. So for years and years he's planned for the day when we could afford one. No, that day did not come. Luck while doing a good deed came.

You see, Brian's mom's dog died about 6 months ago and she's been looking for a new one. So he was being the good son and scouting CraigsList for her. Well, one of the days he was doing that he came upon an ad for an English bulldog. The owner was away from home 12-14 hours a day and just didn't feel like she was able to give the dog the love she deserved. Brian emailed her for over a week, telling her a little about our family and answering her questions about our dog-raising skills. The owner decided that Brian should adopt Belle. So yesterday we went and got her. We're now the proud parents of an 8 month old.

At times Tucker is thrilled to have a playmate. At other times said playmate disturbs Tuckers much needed slumber. But they do have a great time together and I know Tucker will be happier in the long run.

The cats are less than thrilled about Belle. While Mira absolutely detests her (and all other dogs for that matter), Violet is curious.

The kids think Belle is the cutest thing and they love that they can walk her (Tucker is just too strong for them to walk). Belle is only 8 months old though, so she does get in some mischief. The Barbie's have new hairdos thanks to Belle slobber salon. And Tristan got very distraught when his favorite stuffed Pokemon got picked up and carried around the house. She hasn't chewed anything up yet, but the kids are quickly learning to keep their doors closed until she learns the rules of the house.

So there she is ... our new family member.