Thursday, November 24, 2011

Favorite Fall Pictures

Here are some of my favorite pictures from this fall.

Reason To Be Thankful

Here is this year's list of reasons Heather's Growing Family is thankful.

1) Everyone is a "forever" member of the family. We all have the same last name now and are all permanent members of the family. No one is a "foster", "pre-adoptive" of temporary family member. We are just a family.

2) Jacob and Matthew are getting excellent educations and doing well. This is a huge relief for me. There is nothing more important to a child's chances at success and realizing their dreams than a good education.

3) Everyone is healthy. Thankfully, we live in a country with great medical care and we are fortunate to be able to access it.

4) We have enough food to fill our stomachs every day. Not everyone in this country or other countries has that. We are fortunate to be able to eat as much as we want every day and we are thankful for it.

5) For friends and family. Being a parent is tough at times. Being a single parent is tough at times. Family and friends make the bad days possible and the good days more enjoyable.

6) A job I love. Even my children will tell you I am much happier and less stressed now. I spent almost 10 years at a job that I really disliked for 7 years. Thankfully, I now have a job I really enjoy with great co-workers and supervisors. I no longer dread going to work or count the hours until I go home. I enjoy my job and find it much easier to balance work and family needs with a job I enjoy going to.

7) Our pets. Yes, they are expensive and get in trouble but we love them any way. After all, who better to snuggle with on a cold or sad day than an animal. Who better to lift our spirits than watching dogs run and wrestle or our crazy cat climb the ladder on the bunk beds.

8) Clean drinking water. I don't think I ever really appreciated this until I saw people living in areas where clean water was not accessible. Not just for drinking but also for bathing.

9) Education. We live in a country where advanced degrees and college educations are open to almost every one. Sure, it may cost too much and require loans and working part or full-time, but it is possible.

10) The opportunity to show my children every day that democracy works. They protested with me last winter, see the people collecting recall signatures and go to the polls when I vote. We have had many conversations about why people are unhappy and what they are doing to try to force change. Whether the recall is effective or not, the politicians have started listening and some of the outrageous bills have now been defeated. My children have seen that peaceful protests do work and that every one of us can and should stand up and make a difference in our communities.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

End of Fall Update

The leaves have fallen off the trees and we are wearing winter coats. I have purchased new snow gear for the kids and we are just waiting for those first snow flakes to fall. We actually had a dusting about a week ago but it wasn't really enough to play in and only lasted a few hours. While I'm not in a hurry for winter, it will be fun to take the kids sledding and build some snowmen.

So it appears the end of fall is here. We had a great Fall. As my previous posts discusses, school is off to a great start. The kids are enjoying it and having lots of fun and success.

Jacob's school has an active PTO and the kids have a lot of opportunities. I went with his class on a field trip earlier this year to a playtime farm and pumpkin patch. I led a group of 3 kids through the farm and we all learned a lot about being a farmer. The next week Jacob's class went to a play downtown that was a lot of fun and a nice break. We actually saw it the day before as a family but it was entertaining enough to be fun twice.

Jacob attended his first dance last week. It was the fall family costume dance and he enjoyed wearing his costume for school. The kids all had a great time running around the gym and playing games of chase and tag. It's an elementary school so there was very little actual dancing going on and the kids had a great time. I even got on the dance floor and danced a little with Jacob at the end.

Matthew's school has not been as active and unfortunately he has missed the field trips with day care because he goes to 4K for 3 hours every morning. I have tried to make up for some of it by taking him myself for some one-on-one time but I know it's not the same. It's actually becoming a little bit of a problem because he is feeling left out and frustrated. I have been trying to spend extra time with just him and am going to a family dinner at his school Monday night. It's only the second fun activity the school has done and the first one we could join. I'm hoping he enjoys it and it helps him feel a little less liftout.

Jacob finished flag football and had a great time. He really enjoyed it. He has also gone to a couple of UW-Women's basketball games with my dad which he really enjoys. My dad and Jacob are both enjoying him being old enough to do a few more things togther that they both enjoy.

Both kids are loving swimming lessons. They are both making progress and having fun. It is one after school program that they have to participate in. I want them to both be strong swimmers so they can have fun with their friends when they get older and be safe.

Life with two boys is busy but also full of blessings and fun. The good times definitelly out number the challenging ones and everyone continues to do well. I can't ask for more during this month of thanksgiving.

1st Quarter Completed

Jacob and Matthew have completed their 1st quarter of their public school careers. I attended parent teacher conferences and was very impressed with their progress. They are both ahead of most of their peers academically. Jacob has already completed all of his end of the school year goals and Matthew has started the second quarter curriculum at the end of 1st quarter. I am hoping their academic success will continue.

Jacob has started having nightly homework. He brings a simple phonics level book home with beginning sight words that he is suppose to read three times. I know how important reading is to his future academic success so I actually make him read his assigned book and then also read a book of his choice from our home library. I am happy that he is in the top reading group for his class but that doesn't mean he gets to relax now. I want to make sure he is continuing to practice and progress and doesn't begin to slide.

Math is an area that I haven't really started to emphasize too much. As he gets older I may force him to practice it more but right now it doesn't seem to be necessary. His teacher stated math comes very easy to him and every time they introduce a new concept or ask him to do something a little harder, he easily accomplishes it. Last week he started bringing home basic addition worksheets. I will probably have him do extra math problems if he ever starts to have trouble but right now he is accomplishing math skills for the end of kindergarten or the beginning of first grade so I don't want to push him too hard at home.

Matthew also is finding school is very easy. I was told last week that he is getting to his day care in time for their 4K curriculum. That means he is getting the school district curriculum as well as the day care's which is a little more advanced. I am hopeful that it will give him a little bit of a head start for kindergarten next year. He is really excited about learning to read so I am hopeful he can continue to love reading and learning.

So far their school careers are off to a great start just as I am preparing to end mine. I have most of my work done for this semester which means I just have 2 classes, a research project and an internship to go before I graduate in August. It will feel so great to have this degree and work behind me. Now I just have to complete my licensure exams and I will be all set. I plan to send in the paperwork for those tests next week and hope to take the exam in December.