Tuesday, September 28, 2010

We're in Arkansas Virtual Academy!

We are now an Arkansas Virtual Academy family! My younger daughter has been accepted into the school and my older daughter has been moved to the sibling waiting list.

This is a public charter school that is based online and done at home. It is free as it is public school and all the materials, books, etc. you need are sent to you. The website is www.k12.com/arva. There are all the same requirements as traditional public school like attendance, testing, and accountability.

I've been interested in this program since it started the year my older daughter entered kindergarten. I got them both on the waiting list for this year and sent them to school while we waited. We got a call this weekend and began filling out online and paper applications. My younger daughter was officially approved last night. She withdrew from school today and is continuing some things she was doing at her school until our books and materials come in.

We are excited and nervous and hope her sister is called soon.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Ten years ago

We became parents at this moment 10 years ago. I became a mother exactly 10 years ago.

Our daughter was born at 12:43 a.m. Friday, July 9, 1999. She entered the world flamboyantly, and has lived the last 10 years in that exact same manner. How we do love her passion, her enthusiasm, just her.

Parenthood has been the most incredible, wonderful, challenging, and downright difficult thing I've ever done, as pretty much any good parent will tell you. There have been a lot of lows, but I like to think that the highs greatly outnumber them, and I like to think that we are raising a loving and respectful person. Though I have often struggled to understand her, I have never had any difficulty loving her and accepting her just as she is. She is a beautiful human being and I am proud to be her mother.

Growing in parenthood with my co-parent has been a delightful experience as well. Watching him interact with our daughter through all her confounding moments and all of the moments that are just HER has been truly a privilege. I knew that he would be a good father, but never did I imagine that he would be quite the father that he is.

We were entrusted with the responsibility of caring for and loving unconditionally a little human being 10 years ago. We have made many mistakes along the way, and have often felt that we are making it up as we go. We have often been perplexed and wonder which way we should guide her. She has understood this all with a remarkable maturity and has pardoned us for our inexperience and accepted our attempts at directing her life. She is growing into a young lady with all the hopes and dreams that a young girl who is loved, safe, and happy would have. I only hope that the next 10 years of her life fill her with the realization that she is indeed loved and secure no matter what.

We have been parents for 10 years, an entire decade. It seems nearly like an eternity yet a fleeting moment at the same time.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Ketchup the Siamese fighting fish

The kids want a dog, they ended up with a betta fish (Siamese fighting fish) today.

They've asked for a dog forever, and I keep saying no as there is no way I can take care of all of them and a dog too. We don't even have a fully-fenced yard. The neighbor has beagle mix puppies he's trying to give away and I had to be just downright mean about it the other day. NO!

We all went to Wal-Mart this morning to get tires for my daughters $2 yard sale bike, and my husband walks straight back to the fish and announces that we are getting a betta fish. (If you know him you know that he has thoroughly researched this in his own way and has been thinking about it for a while.)

We got two red fish, one for our kids and one for our nieces, plus bowls, food, and water de-chlorinator. We took our nieces' fish right to their house, and he was promptly named Prince Ruby Fin. Our girls named their fish Ketchup. He has a bit of purple on his side but Prince Ruby Fin is solid red.

Ketchup loves his bowl and his live philodendron, too. His water has to be from 78-82 degrees, which is what our house usually is during the spring/summer but I just read that water gets cooler than room temperature. These fish are native to Thailand and prefer warmer water. Now I'm wondering how to keep his water warm.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Character of the Month

My fourth-grade daughter was honored as the "Character of the Month" from her class at school today. She got to eat lunch on the stage with a guest (well, two guests, her baby brother and me) and a friend from her class.

The character word for the month is "contemplation," and her teacher said it was very fitting for her since she's so thoughtful in her schoolwork. (That's just about it, otherwise she doesn't think about anything first!)

I just figured out something with the Character of the Month honor, they let the new kids be Character of the Month first.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

I'm impressed

We had a houseful of kids last night (ours plus our two nieces) so I employed my no-nonsense bedtime routine. I was preparing to employ my no-nonsense morning routine but my 10-year-old niece and nine-year-old daughter informed me that they were setting their alarm and they were going to get up early to work on some projects. Maybe they would, maybe they wouldn't. At any rate I have to get up earlier because I have double the kids to get out the door, and two of them leave the house at 7 a.m. on the bus. That's early!

At some point around the time my alarm went off this morning I saw a glimpse of my niece's face and heard her say, "We're already up." Okay great, so I snoozed for 10 more minutes. Then I realized I had one more niece to wake, the one who has to have her blood sugar checked before she leaves for school. The bed was empty, though, all the beds were empty.

All four of the girls were downstairs, dressed in matching uniforms -- red tops and navy skirts -- doing crafts! They'd eaten! They'd brushed their teeth! Blood sugar had been checked! They had shoes on! WOW!

"Who are you children and what did you do with MY kids?" I teased. They just smiled and explained that they were making cards and other crafty gifts for their teachers and some other teachers. My older niece's teacher from last year is getting a card with a stuffed long-armed monkey wrapped around it!

Since it was 6:40 a.m. and the only thing I had to do in the next 45-50 minutes was comb two heads of hair, I laid back down with the baby for a few minutes.

These children will probably never return to my house but it was nice while it lasted!

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Two weeks, seriously?

My fourth-grade daughter hopped in the car after school today and promptly announced that she and her entire class have two weeks of detention for talking in the cafeteria today, starting tomorrow.

Two weeks, seriously? Come ON. That's a bit excessive for talking, I thought, but I have been in the cafeteria quite a bit and they do talk QUITE a bit. But this year they have changed cafeteria monitoring styles, using one quite effective male to keep everyone in line instead of three or four nearly useless women who have to spend the entire lunch period making threats. I'm not sure why the ladies were overseeing lunch today but evidently they weren't able to control the kids, who talked so much that they landed in detention for TWO WEEKS. My daughter did point out, though, that her class stopped talking once they reached the three DAYS in detention mark; the cafeteria lady must have heard Mrs. So-and-So's class talking.

Now, I'm one to be honest with my children. If I think two weeks of detention (or any punishment) is a bit much (or not enough) for a particular crime, I say so. They already know it anyway. BUT, we are working very hard to teach them to be respectful and obedient, so I always encourage them to accept what is handed to them and be mature about it, and learn from it. I wasn't upset about the two-week punishment since it was obviously out of line, so I just noted that it was a bit excessive for talking and moved on to the positive points, of which there are many!

When you are in detention, you must miss your recess (which is right before your lunch) and go sit in the cafeteria and read or do school work. (This is a bit traumatic for a child like my daughter who very rarely gets in trouble and on the rare occasion that she does, it's usually the result of a misunderstanding.) My daughter has gotten a bit behind in some of her work because of going to her advanced/gifted and talented class, so I said, "Oh! What a GREAT opportunity for you to catch up on all your reading or even get ahead! Think of all the reading you can do every day for two weeks!"

She agreed and thought that detention wouldn't be so bad, especially since it wasn't even her fault, it was the entire class who got in trouble. We have talked many times about how innocent people have to take punishment along with the entire group they are with. They should be mature about it, taking their punishment and letting it build their character. So that's another positive aspect of the situation.

I explained how sometimes bad situations turn out to be very positive (lots of reading, strong character building for the young people in detention) and even a blessing sometimes.

After this lovely discussion my first-grade daughter piped up and said HER whole class has detention tomorrow for talking in the cafeteria. (*sigh* why can the cafeteria ladies not keep order??) Oh well, reading time!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Summer break creeping ever closer

I am already dreading summer break. I mean really, really dreading it. As in near-tears, tummy-hurting dreading it. I'll be smacked with it in about a month and although I'm already anticipating it I'm afraid it's going to leave me gasping for air like an unpleasant surprise that I wasn't prepared for.

Last summer was horrible, so frustrating and overwhelming with so many children to take care of all day long. (There are five of them, maybe not a lot to some people but definitely a lot to me.) The endless cooking, cleaning up after them, trying to keep them from getting too unruly, taking care of a baby and a sick child, and attempting to get some paid work done was just more than I could handle most days. Mondays were the worst, since I had had some help from my husband on Saturday and Sunday, and was again left alone with all of them while trying to get my work week started. By Tuesday mid-day I wondered how I was ever going to get through the week. This cycle continued pretty much all summer; by the time I figured out (with the help of a younger sister, thank you so much dear!) that I could spread my paid work out over the entire week a bit more instead of trying to do so much of it on Mondays, my first day along with all the children, it was almost time for them to return to school.

My plan had been so simple: work at the beginning of the week and take them somewhere fun at the end of the week. We had had a very good summer the year before, which was my first summer with our new baby and with taking care of my diabetic niece. I had thought that summer would be really tough, but since it turned out to be really nice I got my hopes up pretty high for having a good summer last year.

All my hopes came crashing down very quickly. I got behind the second week into summer and never caught up; there were several weeks where they didn't get to go anywhere at all. I was so behind, so exhausted from all the cooking, cleaning, maintaining, trying to get through the hours until another grownup showed up, and just so mentally and emotionally tired that I couldn't bear to think of all the preparations necessary for an outing. With a baby and a sick child you can't just stick your feet in your shoes and walk out the door. And you can't just send the kids somewhere for the day or weekend either. I tried pretty hard to arrange some times when they could all be gone but it never really worked out; other people have jobs, illnesses, and lives of their own.

I surely don't mean to be a whiner and a complainer, and I love every one of them so much I could just pop wide open. Spending time with each and every one of them in their all-too-fleeting childhoods is a privilege I cherish every single day. I just don't like summer break being dumped on me. I'm gonna pull myself up by my boot straps and try to be a big girl about it but I do not have high hopes at all.