Thursday, October 31, 2013


It's been awhile since I have posted. Life just gets in the way. I enjoy writing on here and sharing about our little family. I started this blog as a way to show the world that single parenting by choice is a positive way to have a family. It was also a way to share with family and friends. Time has gone on and instead of showing the world on this blog we are showing the world just through living and having fun. Yet I still don't mind sharing (as long as it's not anything embarrassing to my children). Here is an update from the past few months.

-Jacob turned 8. You can read my post below and see a picture from last summer to learn more.

-Matthew has become my little swimmer. It's hard to know how much he loves it. He is in a phase right now where he says he doesn't like most things just because wants to be silly. His smile in the pool tells a different story though. Yesterday he was disappointed that they played games in the pool instead of having a regular practice. It's a long season and he has a long way to go before March. There will be days he doesn't want to go to practice but most days he is happy to get to the pool.

-Matthew beat Jacob at backstroke! It was only about the 5th time Matthew has ever swum in a meet. Backstroke has never been Jacob's best stroke and Matthew seems to be a natural at it. Matthew took 2nd place and Jacob took 3rd at last week's meet. Matthew's time was just .4 seconds slower than Jacob's best time ever. Jacob claims he let Matthew win.

-Matthew jumped 7 reading levels at school. I could go on for awhile about this topic but I'll just focus on the positive that he is finally getting what he needs at school and loving it.

-Jacob continues to be ahead of grade level. They didn't give him the extra text book for advanced students yet but they are monitoring him closely. He needed to be able to complete his subtraction facts in less than 5 seconds. He is very close. I worked with him last night and he missed 4 out of 56. Jacob's school is a "focus school." Basically, not enough kids are passing the standardized tests (less than half). I saw the numbers at school and it is scary. I know Jacob has gotten a good education there but I am concerned they don't push him enough or go fast enough. I am exploring different options but for now just trying to supplement his education at home. It's really all I can do at this point.

-I'm still working the same job and enjoying it. Every job has good days and bad days but most days are good. I have flexible hours and enjoy the job itself.

-The boys just finished soccer and did great. There was even some talk of having Matthew play with the next age group up but I want him to stay with the kids his age. He just doesn't have the maturity to play with the 8 year olds yet. They both seemed to dominate their teams and age groups.
-Basketball starts this week although we are missing the first week for a swim meet. They are both excited and we will have to wait to see how they do. Matthew is very tall so he may be good at basketball someday. Jacob has been practicing a lot at school with his friends so that should help him too.

That is it for now. I hope all of my readers had a great summer and are having a great fall.

Happy Birthday Jacob!

Somewhere along the line life got busy and I stopped blogging. I'm going to post a couple quick updates now. I can't promise anymore soon but one never knows.

Jacob turned 8 years old at the end of September. My baby is now a big 2nd grader. Here are 8 things I love about Jacob.

1) Jacob's smile and laugh. They are infectious. It is just hard not to smile and giggle when he is.
2) How smart he is. He learns quickly and loves to learn new things. He prefers non-fiction books and enjoys going to museums and zoos to learn more.
3) His determination. This kid is just amazing when he sets his mind to something.
4) His work ethic. That's funny to say about a young boy but this kid has great work ethic. Whether it is trying to complete his homework, getting good grades or completing a difficult swim practice, this kid works until the job is finished.
5) His caring heart. Jacob is a great big brother and a great friend. Sure he fights with his brother and enjoys watching him get in trouble but he also watches out for him and takes care of him. Jacob also cares for younger children and his friends at school.
6) Popularity. I don't want to place any of my children in a popularity contest and I certainly don't take time counting their friends. I can say that Jacob is a very popular kid at school. He is the only kindergartner I ever knew that had friends in 5th grade who would ask him to join their game on the playground. Now in 2nd grade he has friends throughout his school and still has middle school students stop to say hi. I think its his smile.
7) Helpful nature. This goes back to the caring heart a little. Jacob has always loved to help others and that has not changed. Whether it's clearing the table because he knows I'm tired or just helping someone carry something, this kid is always willing to help.
8) His fun sense of humor. This kid is just fun to be with. He really is my pride and joy (along with his brother of course). There is no one I would rather hang out with than my boys.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Happy Birthday Matthew!

The past year has brought a lot of changes for Matthew. He started kindergarten, made new friends, was baptized and develop some new interests. Matthew has grown a lot this year as I realize all children his age do. It's amazing to watch how much young children change as they leave their preschool years and become school age children. It's a much harder transition than I ever realized. Both of my boys struggled at times during this transition but also blossomed.

Matthew turned 6 years old last week. It's amazing to look at him and think about how far he has come. He is no longer the scared and traumatized 1 year old boy who first came to stay at my house. I didn't know then if he would be here for a few days, months or years. I had mixed feelings back then. I fully supported all of the efforts to help his birth mother and allow him to return but I also quickly fell in love with him and didn't want him to ever leave. I look at him now as my 6 year old son who is here to stay and I am amazed at how he has changed and grown. Sure, we still have our challenges but the challenges are so much less than they were when he first arrived. His fighting spirit got him through some very difficult times when he was a baby and have helped him to be resilient and thrive as a young boy. I know there will be challenges ahead but I also know there will be many more wonderful times with a truly amazing young man.

Here are 6 things I love about Matthew. I could fill up pages of things but I will limit myself to 6 since it is his 6th birthday.

1) Matthew's smile. I know I don't need to worry as long as Matthew has that smile on his face. Even when he is in trouble, he is usually smiling and having fun.

2) Matthew's sense of humor. Matthew can make even the grumpiest people laugh.

3) Matthew's resilience. The kid never lets anyone get him down for more than a few minutes. I have never known him to be grumpy for more than about 10 minutes.

4) Matthew's enthusiasm. Matthew has never been a kid to settle for "good enough." If he decides to do something he does it all the way. Whether it is painting a picture, writing a story or learning to ride his bike. He won't quit until he gets it just right.

5) Matthew's brotherly love. There is no one Matthew loves more than his brother and no one who cares about him more. Matthew is always happiest when he is with his brother. It doesn't matter if they are fighting, playing or scheming together.

6) Matthew's compassion and love. Matthew just wants to have fun and he wants other people to have fun with him.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Losing The Hockey Battle

                                                                            From this....
To this...

                                                                          In just 6 years.

I remember when Jacob first came home. He was a sweet and innocent baby who always made his mommy proud. Well, almost always. He still makes me happy and proud but he has been corrupted by his grandfather. His grandfather has been taking him to college hockey games and Jacob is now obsessed.

Jacob spends hours practicing his hockey skills and even made me buy him some street goalie gear. His ultimate goal is to learn to be a goalie. I have tried my best to steer him in other directions but it just isn't working. The child can spend hours watching U Tube videos of hockey skills and how to wear the equipment properly. He wears his inline skates around the house and driving and practicing his stick skills. All of this after just one year of hockey.

My other dilemma is that Jacob is good. There was only one other child able to keep up with him at hockey and that was the coaches son. It's hard for me to say no to a sport that he appears to be showing natural talent at. I realize he will never play for the NHL and probably not even college but he really loves the sport now and he's good at his level.

So what is the problem? Well, a couple. One is that hockey takes a lot of time although my supervisor at work keeps telling me I will make it work if it's important enough to him. The other problem is the cost. The next 2 years won't be too bad but it gets really expensive after that. I can't imagine paying almost $900 for one child's sport in a year. That doesn't even include the cost of equipment or the two or three overnight trips we would have to take for games.

Other sports are so much cheaper and the schedules are more consistent. Yet, I know that he doesn't have the same love for them that he has for hockey. So I am stuck. Hockey is a game that if he doesn't continue to play and build skills, he will be behind his peers very quickly and not able to play later. He can still play hockey and my true love, baseball, but he would have to stop winter swim team and just swim during the summer.

We have until August or September to decide. I guess I will wait and see how summer swim team goes and then decide. He can always start swimming again later and he is now a strong swimmer that I don't have to worry about drowning. Which is really why I put him in swimming in the first place.

Break Time

I spent the past 3 years in grad school (graduated last August) and have spent almost all of my time either at work, school or with my kids. Work and school took up so much time that I didn't want to lose anymore time with my children so I decided to just put my social life on hold unless I could take my kids with me. It also meant that I never got time to just have fun without responsibility. Even when playing softball (which is a stress reliever for me), I had my children for all but 2 games and had to split my attention between the game and keeping at least some kind of eye on them.

I am done with school now and had a chance tonight to go out with a friend I hadn't seen in over a year. This friend also has a young son but wanted it to be "kid free." My first reaction was to turn her down. After all, the restaurant was expensive and I knew I couldn't afford to eat there and hire a babysitter. I talked to my dad about it and I think he realized how badly I needed some adult time with a good friend I don't see often. He and my mom volunteered to watch my kids which meant I didn't have to pay for their dinner or a babysitter.

I can now say that was some of the best money I have spent. I came home feeling more relaxed and energized than I have felt in a very long time. All of a sudden, I had more energy when getting the kids ready for bed and can feel myself being more patient. I don't know how long this relaxed feeling will last but I can say that it was well worth the expense of a dinner out. Especially since it's the first time in my life I have spent that much money on one meal and the last time I will spend that much for a very long time. And don't forget it's the first time in three years that I had a girls night out. Every girl deserves one and three years was way too long to wait.

I love my kids to death and want to spend time with them. I am also learning that by taking a little time to myself, it makes me a better mom the rest of the time. I have more patience, more energy and feel better. I have a habit of always giving to others and forgetting to care for myself. I know this and I struggle to find a happy medium. I am learning that time to myself doesn't count if it means  I am spending it shopping for Christmas or Easter gifts for my kids. I am still being a mom then and spending that "free" time meeting their needs and not my own. My kids will always come first and I will never want to leave them with other people so I can go out very often but once every 3 years is definitely not often enough. For now, I am just going to enjoy having my batteries recharged for the time being. That and hold, hug and appreciate my children during the time I am able to spend with them.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Ethiopian Camp Plans

Parents who don't adopt from other countries, cultures or nationalities may not realize how important culture camp is. It's hard to explain or completely understand how important it is until you see the look on a child's face as they explain to others what it means to be from their culture. I see the pride when my children talk about Ethiopia or share an Ethiopian story with their friends. Even my youngest son (who was born in the US) is proud of his brother's Ethiopian heritage and used to try to convince people he was also born in Ethiopia. Jacob could find Ethiopia on a map when he was 3 and both of my kids can tell you what time it is in Ethiopia.

So why is culture camp a priority? After all, my kids are already proud of our connection to Ethiopia. Here are some reasons.

1) Other families that look like ours. It is one of the few places we go where Matthew is in the racial minority and almost all of the families are multiracial.

2) We aren't a conspicuous family where people make assumptions about us based on our different skin colors. Everyone knows we are a family formed by adoption and celebrates it with us. We don't have to fight stereotypes or respond to people asking questions about if Jacob is Matthew's friend and how great it is that he gets to spend so much time with him. They all know the kids are brothers.

3) We see adults, children and teenagers who were born in Ethiopia and who all love the culture and country. There is no better way to learn about another country and culture than to hear about it from people who have lived there.

4) Everyone there is learning from each other. We are all there for the same reasons. To make friends, learn about Ethiopia and have fun.

5) No negative stereotypes. My children are exposed to the same media that everyone else is. Pictures of children starving, reports of disease and comments from people who have no understanding but are quick to judge people who live differently than the  way we live in the USA. At camp, everyone is accepting and loves Ethiopia and the information shared is based on facts and not stereotypes. We leave camp proud of Ethiopia and ready to share and educate others when they make comments based on media reports and not true life.

6) We leave camp with new friends, stronger connections to old friends and a reminder of how lucky we are to have been touched by Ethiopia. Not too mention on blessed we are to be a family.

There are camps and organizations around the country. None of the camps are cheap but the lessons we learn are priceless. I encourage anyone who's family has children from different cultures or countries to look into a cultural camp near you. Or even one you can travel to. You will not be sorry.

Saturday, March 30, 2013


Spring Is Finally Here!

Everyone has been complaining lately about the Spring that seems to be hiding. What we seem to forget is that Winter did not come until almost December making this winter not really any longer than any other. Yet I am anxious for warmer weather just like everyone else.

Last week was Spring Break at our house. It's been a lot of fun and a nice break from the regular routine. We have been spending most of our time right around our home. We went to the book store and library to find some new books to read. Matthew recently started bringing home books to read and sight words to memorize so we are now reading 20 minutes a day which means we need books to choose from.

Thursday we went to the Field Museum in Chicago. I am now a firm believer that the Illinois legislature does not like tourists. It cost over $12 in tolls just to get to the suburbs and that doesn't count the tolls we paid after we met a friend and used her IPass. Then there is the cost of parking down town and the overnight road construction that started at 7 when it wasn't even dark yet. Our 2 hour trip to our friend's house turned into a 4 hour trip home because of the construction. Yet we still had a good time when we weren't driving. The kids really enjoyed seeing the mummies and I enjoyed the dinosaurs.

Yesterday I finally started cleaning out the boys' bedrooms. I finished Jacob's and plan to start Matthew's today. We started collecting toys 6 years ago. Jacob began to outgrow the preschool toys 2 years ago but Matthew was still really enjoying them. Then grad school got crazy and there was absolutely no extra time to spend cleaning out and organizing the boys' rooms so the toys have gotten out of control. My goal is to have both rooms completely cleaned out by the end of the weekend. Then I can start cleaning out the rest of the house next week.

Not bad for one week of vacation. We have another vacation in June and probably won't go anywhere for more than a couple of days then either. Maybe I can get the rest of the house cleaned then.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Medicine or Miracle Grandma Care?

It has been a long week around our house. Jacob came home from school last Tuesday with a temp in the high 99 range. Not quite a fever but he didn't appear to be feeling well. He hovered right around there for 3 days and had mild cold symptoms and headaches through Saturday. Then just as Jacob began to feel better and get more energy again, Matthew came down with a fever on Saturday night.

Matthew never really felt bad on Saturday or Sunday. He just needed a little Tylenol to bring his temperature down. He was upset when I told him he couldn't play with the other kids at the swim meet but other than that he seemed fine. Yesterday morning was the only morning he really wasn't feeling well but he slept for a couple of hours in the morning and was better by the afternoon. This morning he is running around the house like a wild maniac, eating cereal and begging to return to school. I can't wait for the school bus to get here.

Having sick kids is never fun and having them sick for a week is really not fun. At least they didn't really feel sick other than a little more tired than normal and a stuffy nose. It was much better than watching them suffer for a week and not being able to do anything to fix the problem. Either this virus is just a minor frustration or my parents give excellent care to sick children which causes them to heal quickly and feel better even without medicine. I'll give my parents the credit.

Saturday, February 9, 2013


Jacob is definitely my sports kid. Any sport. Any time. Hockey is one of his favorites. Unfortunately, he can only play this season. I allowed him to do the introductory lessons so he can learn the game and play with friends. I have tried to be creative and find ways for him to play next year but it just won't be possible. The practice times change every week so it would prevent his brother from playing basketball or any other sports during the fall and winter. It's also very expensive and I just can't justify the expense when there are so many other sports he enjoys.

I did agree to allow him to get street hockey gear for doing so well during the first semester. He has been begging for this gear since last fall when he first saw it at the store. I am sure he will get a lot of use out of it playing with his brother in the driveway. He also got a street hockey ball and he can use his hockey stick from hockey lessons. He can also use the gear next winter when he goes to open skate times.

Jacob was one very happy little boy when he bought the gear last night. He tried to wear it to bed but quickly discovered it was just a little too uncomfortable to sleep in. It is now sitting in a box next to his bed waiting for him to wake up. I am sure it will get more play time today and over the next several days.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Reading Progress!!!!

Guess who read a book in Spanish last night! I was very proud of him. It is really hard to learn to read in a language that you are just learning to speak. I met with Matthew's teacher a couple of weeks ago and she stated he was having trouble reading. I watched him in class and noticed that he wasn't reading the sight words as quickly as the teacher was showing them and although he was looking in her general direction, he didn't seem to be looking at the words. I asked his teacher if there was anything I could do at home and she stated she would begin sending books home in about a month.

A month is a long time for a young boy to wait to get individual attention in reading. I have never been good at just patiently waiting for my children's teachers to decide they are ready to teach something and have always tried to find ways to supplement the children's education. I just get frustrated trying to help Matthew because his curriculum is in Spanish and there isn't very much available.

I found a book store that had some easy reader books in Spanish and spent way too much money on books. I took some of Matthew's worksheets at school and began working with him at home on reading and writing his "sight words" and he picked them up almost immediately. I also started reading to him at home almost every night from the Spanish books. Yesterday Matthew picked up one of the easier books and started to read it to me before I could start reading to him. He got stuck a few times on the bigger words but overall knew most of the words. I started working with him on looking at the word and picture when he gets stuck instead of just guessing any word that starts with the same letter and he did even better.

It was a huge relief to see him reading on his own and seeing that he will be able to pick up reading quickly once the teacher starts sending books home. We will keep reading at home and I recently started working with him on math to build his number line. He went from struggling to read the numbers in the teens to being able to read them and put them in order forward and backward within 2 practice sessions.

Matthew may still qualify for summer school especially since he is just learning Spanish but he is making significant progress with just a little extra attention. His biggest challenge continues to be having a very limited Spanish vocabulary but that will change as he speaks Spanish and hears Spanish more.

Dreaming of Summer

Matthew returned from school yesterday freezing. He was wearing shorts, a sleeveless shirt and his winter coat. I immediately asked him where his pants and sweatshirt were since that it was he had on when he left for school. He stated he took them off at school as soon as he got there. He then spent the rest of the day freezing because he didn't want to wear his pants or sweatshirt. The high yesterday was 15 degrees.

All I can say is ugh!!! I also told him it is still January and he needs to save the shorts for basketball on Saturdays and Summer. He wrapped up in 2 blankets and tried to convince me he wasn't cold in his shorts. It didn't work. While I believe in natural consequences, a kindergartner wearing shorts in the middle of winter is not okay. Hopefully, this is the last time we will have to have this conversation. Or at least until he is in high school.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Report Card Time Again

Our school district doesn't distribute reports cards until 2nd quarter of the school year. It drives me nuts. The 1st quarter parents meet with teachers to discuss progress. This leaves the perspective of if the child is performing as well as they should be to the teacher and doesn't allow the parent to be able to decide if it meets the parents expectations. I am one of those parents that looks at my children's work whenever they bring it home and stays in frequent contact with teachers but still wants to know what the report card says.

Jacob and Matthew both did very well. Matthew is learning in Spanish and so I expect his grades to be slightly lower due to needing to learn Spanish as well as writing, reading and math. The children in his program eventually catch up academically and I just have to be patient. His teacher told me that he was struggling a little bit due to not having a large enough Spanish vocabulary so we have started working with flashcards and reading more books in Spanish. I have seen steady improvement.

Jacob did better than I expected. I spoke to his teacher about 2 weeks ago. She hadn't started assessments and testing yet but wanted to warn me that his grades might be lower than last year (mostly reading and writing). The district is using new standards that are much more difficult. There was also an article in the paper earlier this year stating that children's report card scores would be lower due to the new standards. I am all for asking more of our children so I don't have a problems with higher standards. His scores actually improved over last year.

I am a strong believer that parents need to have high expectations for their children and be involved in their educations. I don't think parents need to be "tiger parents" and demand perfection but I do think children should be encouraged to do their very best. Whatever their very best is. I know for Jacob that means performing mostly above grade level and anything in reading or math that is not above grade level is something he can work on a little more. That doesn't mean we sit at home and run math drills for hours every night but it means we work on fun math games and have reading and writing time at home. For Matthew, it means working on learning to speak and understand Spanish through fun Spanish programs on the computer, reading Spanish books and working on Spanish flashcards to increase vocabulary.

We work for about 15 minutes at a time about 3 times a week. Pretty much, any night we are home before 8:00 we work on reading or math for a few minutes. That works well for us. I don't force it on nights we have other activities since bedtime here is 8:30 and I don't want the kids to be tired the next day. They won't learn as much if they are tired and that 15 minutes will not have helped.

Education is extremely important in my home. Not only do I want to have the children performing well enough to get into private school later if we want, but they are going to college. It's not a choice. I want them to be able to get in to any school (within reason) they choose and that means having a good educational foundation now. It's my responsibility as a parent to make sure that what we do now will not limit their opportunities in the future. That means getting a good education now so they can use that foundation later.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Talented and Gifted?

Jacob and Matthew both have been described as very bright. Jacob's teacher described him as "having a very neat brain" and wanted me to know how "cool" she thought his brain was. Of course, I think every part of him is "cool" so I can't disagree. I have always encouraged my children academically but never really needed to work hard at it.

Jacob has always been in the highest reading group but he has also had to work at reading and is usually number 2 or 3 in his class for reading level. He is always in the top tier for math and math comes easily to him. His kindergarten teacher first commented that everything she presents to him he masters immediately and she was impressed with his abilities. His ability wasn't really an issue in kindergarten though since math was a fairly small part of the day and they focused mainly on counting.

Jacob was complaining that school was too easy earlier this year and I asked his teacher to look into challenging him more. She agreed to try to challenge him a little more and stated they had just finished evaluating the kids and would start to work with them more. She said she was still having him use the same workbook as the rest of the class but was working with him and two other students on harder material also. Then a little over a month ago, Jacob began telling me about the new math book he has at school. He stated only he and two other students have these books and they work independently in them. I told him I wanted to see the book because I was curious about what he was working on. I enjoy seeing the kids' work but since Jacob's work was mostly in his workbook at school, I didn't get to see his work at home.

Last week I had the opportunity to stop in his classroom and see his math book. He normally completes 3-5 worksheets a day in it although some days he is a little more challenged and only completes 2 or 3 pages during their math time. I decided I should see exactly what he was working on since the sheets he brings home are the sheets the other students are working on and he finishes them in less than a minute most days.

I asked his teacher to see his math book and she immediately stated, "You can see it but I know what you are going to say. It is obviously too easy. I spoke to the district and they want him to finish this book before they consider other options." I wasn't sure what that meant and assumed this was a district policy regarding harder work. I was complaining to a co-worker about this "policy" and that Jacob tests at a 3rd grade math level so why isn't he doing at least 2nd grade work in the classroom. She suggested I look into talented and gifted services. I had briefly thought about it but hadn't really done much research into the district's TAG program or our options if he continues to struggle with being challenged.

I started looking up the district's policies for talented and gifted services (TAG) and actually feel much better about Jacob's education now. Apparently being given the separate math book is the first level of TAG services (general curriculum changes given by the teacher). If the child does not appear to be challenged adequately with the advanced material, the teacher or parent can then request guidance from the district TAG coordinator and possibly refer for additional services outside of the classroom. This appears to be where Jacob's teacher is at. She stated she has talked to the district a couple of times about Jacob so I am assuming she is talking to the TAG coordinator. It makes sense that the district would want to wait until Jacob works through the "advanced" book before seeking additional services to challenge him. Especially since he is in 1st grade and most of the testing doesn't start until 3rd grade. I am relieved his teacher is starting the dialogue with the district and that they are considering whether or not he is getting his needs met through the normal curriculum despite only being in 1st grade. I don't want his first 3 years of education to be wasted.

I am not sure how I feel about additional services. I know Jacob is not challenged as much as he could be. He loves doing more challenging work at home and asks me to buy him math books at the book store that are for higher grade levels. I want him to be challenged and have his needs met. I don't want him to be bored or the teacher frustrated because she is having trouble challenging him (which I get the feeling is happening at times now) . I also don't know how I feel about him being given different work outside of the classroom and possibly stigmatizing him. It's a lot to think about and if he continues to excel at this speed it is one the district and I may consider in the near future.

I never knew having children who excel could be almost as stressful as having children who struggle. I will take the stress though and continue to research and advocate. After all, I could have much worse problems.

Desired Teachers

I am like most parents and have teachers I secretly hope my child will get. There is a teacher at Matthew's school who really seems to click with him. She goes out of her way to say hi to him at school and in the community. His face lights up when he sees her and they both seem to enjoy being around each other. She even said today that she would like to be his teacher next year.

Now the only problem is that Matthew doesn't know this teachers name. I may have to do some research so that I can figure out who she is. I don't normally request teachers but I may have to make an exception despite the school district policy. Matthew needs a teacher he respects who also likes him and finds enjoyment in his antics.

I won't know who his teacher will be until next August but I would love for it to be this wonderful woman who really seems to enjoy being around him.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Where Does She Get Her Money?

Jacob seems to be growing up way too quickly lately (well both of my kids if I want to be honest). Jacob came up to me last night and we had the following conversation.

Jacob: Where does Grandma get her money?
Me: What do you mean?
Jacob: She doesn't work anymore (she retired 2 years ago).
Me: She saved money for retirement and Grandpa has what is called a pension. It's money he is paid by his old boss after he retires.
Jacob: So they just pay him without him working???
Me: Yes. It's less than when he was working but they do continue to pay him every month.
Jacob: Are they going to pay you when you retire?
Me: I have a retirement pension and I also have been saving for retirement.

I'm not sure how much Jacob really understands but then I'm not sure how much I completely understand about pensions either. At least he knows that Grandma and Grandpa aren't stealing their money.

All In His Head

I know my children are intelligent. I have no question about that. Or at least they are both as intelligent as most other children. I see it every day when I practice reading or work on flash cards with them. Yet sometimes I wonder what that really means.

Matthew's latest line is that he can do things in his head only. I am amazed at what he can do in his head only but not out loud for anyone else. Here are some examples:

-Matthew has some beginning reader books at school. When asked if he can read the words (they are in Spanish and he is still learning the language), he stated "only in my head." I asked if he reads them to his teacher and he stated "No. I can't read them out loud. Only in my head."

-Matthew checked out an adult level Star Wars novel from his school library. When asked why he chose that book he stated, "So I can read it." I explained that it was a little too long for me to read it to him in a week. He stated, "No. I can read it to myself." I asked him to show me and he stated, "I can only do it in my head."

-Matthew is convinced he swims well enough to join swim team. I asked him to show me that he can swim the length of the pool. He stated, "I can only do it in my head." I told him he will need to be able to show me outside of his head and in the pool before he can join the team.

Matthew is a smart kid and reading will come to him. He is in a dual language program where they teach literacy in Spanish. Since Matthew is just beginning to learn Spanish, he doesn't always know what the word he is reading means so picture clues don't really work. He can read many of the words for objects he knows such as colors, numbers and a few items he uses every day. The rest will come as his Spanish improves. He does understand a lot more Spanish than I thought he would at this time. I speak Spanish to him occasionally at home and he seems to understand a lot of what I say. The reading will come. The experts state the children should be caught up by the end of 3rd grade and most are advanced in reading by the end of 5th grade with the goal that the children will be fluent in English and Spanish by the end of 5th grade. Matthew is in kindergarten so we have a few years to wait to see what happens. Of course, I will continue to work with him over the next few years and he has an amazing teacher who will also continue to work with him.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Dedication or Too Much?

I was at the Y today for open swim with the kids. We love to go to open swim and make it almost every week for at least an hour. This time is just for fun. I want the kids to be able to just play and figure they are improving their swimming skills just by chasing each other through the water and experimenting with different ways they can move themselves. I try to leave the coaching/teaching for practices and lessons.

Today I saw a mom with her two children at the pool. They came in with their fins and kickboards. The mom asked the lifeguard if the kids could swim laps and then gave the children instructions for what to swim. She sat on the side and occasionally came over and gave them additional instructions. I have seen these children and this mom at swim meets but have no idea how well the kids swim. To be honest, I don't really pay attention to the kids in the pool unless it is someone I know. I don't even know what team these kids swim for and it may be the same team Jacob is on. It doesn't matter.

My concern with what I saw was whether or not the children wanted to swim laps. Did they have the choice? I don't know. It's possible they were having fun and wanted mom to run her own practice. Jacob will sometimes choose to swim laps during open swim and really enjoys racing me in the pool when I have someone who can hang out with Matthew in the shallow end while we race. The difference is that I don't tell him what to swim or how far. I believe that should be left to the coaches at practice (which is later today so really no reason to make him practice twice in a day).

Again, I have no idea what this mom and kids were doing other than swimming laps. I definitely don't want to say that what they were doing is wrong since it may be what they all wanted to do. I just have seen too many parents who put too much pressure on their kids to excel at sports and it stops becoming fun. Children need encouragement and lots of time to practice their new skills but it should be in a fun manner. Especially outside of practice and team functions.

So if you see the kids with me at the pool, don't expect to see me telling them how many yards to swim or what strokes. Other than giving little reminders or enforcing safety rules, you won't see them "practicing." You will see them playing tag, racing each other or me and just having fun. There is plenty of time for working hard later.