Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Reluctant Readers and Exceptional Teachers

As a parent, there is nothing that compares to the helpless feeling of not being able to fix something for your child. It doesn't matter if they are a screaming newborn who has been fed, burped, diapered, and rocked, or if they fell and cut their lip on the corner of the coffee table, or if they got treated poorly by someone on the playground, or if they are struggling to understand a math concept. The helpless parent feeling sucks.

In those helpless moments I do a lot of praying. And the crazy thoughts about this happening being good because it brings me to prayer goes through my head and I am not going to talk about the theology of that kind of thinking. It's not the point. I go to prayer because that is what I know to comfort me in my helplessness. There is someone I can trust who is NOT helpless in this situation.

I've done a lot of praying about my reluctant reader. I wish I could say in honesty that I've only prayed. But the truth is I have worried, a lot. I have felt so helpless.

We've had good teachers, really good teachers. Teachers with decades of experience, skilled and masters in their trade. I've had every confidence in them. But still, my reader has been reluctant, dis-interested, insecure, and frustrated. And this momma has been all those things too.

Then two weeks into school starting, because of large class sizes, we found out that my reluctant reader was going to be one of the students that would be moved to a new class, with a new teacher. The teacher didn't have decades of experience as a third grade teacher, most of his experience was as a music teacher. And I admit, even though I knew him to be an exceptional music teacher, my head worried, even though my heart was at peace. In the quiet of my heart I hoped that this was God moving, answer my desperate prayers.

During the Parent Curriculum Night he didn't just give permission but he encouraged us to read aloud during some of their reading time. (This was something I had previously felt very guilty about, concerned we were "cheating".) So with our recently discovered Judy Moody books we started to take turns reading together. She read a page, then I read a page, back and forth. We could go much beyond the expected twenty minutes. She'd ask to read "just one more chapter, Mom." My reluctant reader, though still below her reading level was no longer reluctant.

My heart began to really hope and relax, just a bit.

Then last week when my reader came home from school she was agitated, bursting into tears over trivial things. So I pulled her back to the bedroom for our private after school cuddle time and my daughter wept as she told me that she had a math test (the common core one they give you meant to gauge where the kids are at the beginning of the year so that the teachers can prove they taught your child something). She cried because she couldn't read some of the words and her teacher wasn't allowed to help her, "But Mom, it was the MATH test." I just held her as she cried and told her I didn't care how she scored on those tests and that I knew she knew how to do math and it was okay because she was getting to be a stronger reader every single day.

And I felt angry even though I didn't show it. And I felt so helpless.

But the next day the energy was back and she was eager to read, asking if we could do double reading (40 minutes) because she got proud points for the extra reading. So we continued to read and my new to me eager reader was back.

Then the test scores came home. Her math was ten points higher than the fall expectation and her reading was only seven points lower than the fall expectation. My heart soared. I pulled her aside and we looked at the scores together and we talked about how incredibly well she was doing and how her diligence was paying off. And I praised God. I praised God for a teacher who seemed to know how to encourage and motivate my precious child!

Yesterday, after studying her spelling words and taking a pre-test with me and missing only one (out of eighteen, she'd been know to bomb her tests, even after studying) she eager asked if she could help Gracie with her words. Yes! She started to skip down the hallway, but stopped at the kitchen and smiled at me, saying:

"Mom, Mr. C. is a really good teacher."

No, Mercy, Mr. C. isn't a really good teacher. We've had lots of those, Mr. C. an EXCEPTIONAL teacher and I am so overwhelmed with gratitude.

I know there are hard days ahead. Reading will likely always be challenging for one of my children, but my heart is encouraged and so grateful for this tremendous gift we've been given right now when it was needed the most.


Saturday, October 4, 2014

When Progress Looks Like Progress Because That's What I Need To See

I have been waiting for my sweet man to build my desk for over a year now. Today we made progress. I know this looks nothing like a desk. It isn't. It's a "wood shed". My husband has been concerned about the wood he's cut that has been rotting for lack of cover. No, we don't burn wood. But we certainly wouldn't want good wood to go to waste. We share the wood, once it's dried out. Lately it hasn't been getting dried out. So this little project was one on a list of projects that required his attention first. Before my desk. So now that this is almost done... we are getting closer. That's what he tells me. And that's what I believe, because I need to right now.

Next is assembling the shelving we bought at Costco this morning. For the garage. Why is that first, you ask? Well the shelf needs to be in place so that it can be loaded up with the tools that are in the middle of the garage. Therefore, space will be cleared in the garage, so that my sweet man can start on my desk. "Soon," he said this evening.

And I am so excited.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Project Life | Week Twenty-Seven and Twenty-Eight

I was starting to question whether or not I planned to finish Project Life this year. I have been perpetually behind, a lot, months. It doesn't feel good and it was a bit tempting to give up. But I decided rather than give up I needed to give in and give myself some grace to just get photos and cards in the pockets and move on.

So that's what I did yesterday. Last Friday I had gotten caught up on printing my photos. I was motivated by an expiring coupon. These days I'll take whatever motivation I can get. So when we went to my brothers to watch the football game yesterday afternoon I dragged all my Project Life stuff with me and worked on it there while the boys watched the game. It was perfect because ordinarily I get irritated having to sit through a three hour game. But the time flew and I got more than a month of Project Life pages done and I didn't even work the whole time.

Win-win. Well not exactly. The Seahawks lost the game :(

Spread 1, Left side

I lumped these weeks together primarily because we went out of town over the fourth of July weekend. We do every year and I like keeping the photos from a trip all together. So here is the first page of what ended up being three double spreads.

 Spread 1, Right side


I am learning how to use my Silhouette. I love it and and should use it more. I had made this card earlier and it fit perfectly with the spread. This ended up being my favorite element of the layout.

 Spread 2, Left side

Spread 2, Right side

This is a good example of my "letting go" and just getting cards and photos in the pockets, not extra embellishments. Fast and easy, but honestly, with using the Project Life Blush Edition pocket cards, I loved it!
 Spread 3, Left side

 Spread 3, Right side

I've seen Ali Edwards, among other writing on the lines of their PL cards like this and didn't think I would love it in my book. But I finally tried it and I really do.

I decided to follow the lines of this crazy fun pocket card similarly. Ended up liking it too. But what I really liked is whipping out two weeks so quickly! Fast and simple!

What kind of motivation is helping you either get caught up or not give up on Project Life?


Friday, September 12, 2014

The Power of Realistic Goals

Around here life is changing and I am attempting to find new rhythms. It's harder than I expected. I dreamed these days with kids in school would be filled with "getting this house in order". I fathomed by the end of the second week there would be bags of stuff lined up at the front door, waiting to be hauled off to the Goodwill. I expected that each night my hubby and kids would open the door and either smell dinner or freshly baked cookies. I knew that my "more rested" self would handle getting dinner on the table, cleaned up, listening to my girls read aloud, checking math homework, and managing the kids' evening chores and routines to be done with smiles and patience.

Around here I expected to have Project Life spread out on my dining room table because everything else would be caught up and I could spend time doing what I have been waiting to do for months... get caught up.

Well my days haven't been all I expected them to be. Somehow there managed to be something away from here every single morning. By the time I got home and fixed lunch and did some very minimal clean-up it was time to start figuring out dinner, which has suddenly gotten even more challenging with Weight Watchers not so simple Simple Start. (I am a points girl and can NOT handle their Simple Start Plan, it's driving me INSANE and if I hadn't lost all the weight before on Weight Watchers I would have already quit! But I digress.)

Last night, after a rather low moment where I snapped at my husband (over something really silly) in front of all three children, I decided that I needed to set some realistic goals for my day. Things weren't working out the way I intended anyway. At the top of my list, right next to a load of laundry and shaving my legs (for the first time in a month), I wanted to get Project Life photos printed for the last two months.

At noon today I pulled in with my photos and a smile on my face. The dryer is now on, with my second load of laundry for the day, my legs are shaved, and even if I don't do anything with these photos today, I exceeded my goals because they were actually realistic.

What realistic goals are you setting for your day?


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Digital Freebie | Weight Watchers Inspired Mini Kit

Download Weight for It Mini Kit HERE.

I shared last week that the kids went back to school and that my youngest is now in school full time. That means new routines for me. The biggest thing that I needed to regain control of in my life is myself. I've put on all the weight that I took off a number of years ago (after I had Gracie). I lost weight the first time with Weight Watchers. It's the only weight management program that has really made sense to me. Eat less, move more. Write it all down. Write it ALL down. When I went to the doctor recently I complained that it was so much harder to loose weight since turning forty. She looked at me, smiled and simply said, "You did it before, you can do it again."

It was time. I was mentally ready. Anyone who has every battled food addiction knows the head space I am talking about here. So I went back to Weight Watchers on Monday. Don't worry, this blog won't suddenly become all about my weight battle. That's just one part of life right now. But I did want to give some context for this little freebie.

My return to recapture my Lifetime Goal (which is frightfully far away at the moment) inspired this little freebie that I'd love to share with you. If you, like me, are on any part of your weight management journey, perhaps these pocket cards will encourage and inspire you to document this part of your week.

I'm expecting my journey to take some time, but I'm determined to make it something worth working for. So, Let's do this, right now.