Are You in the Mood For Love?

Are you thinking about Valentine’s Day? I sure wasn’t until I came across this little ditty in my daughter, Iris’s room that she wrote:

Valentine’s Day Song

It’s Valentine’s Day.

Watch out for Cupid. Cupid could get you.

You would think he is sweet but he shoots arrows at you.

Stay clear from Cupid. But watch out for his arrows.

You do not want to get shot because you will fall in love.

Iris's Song

And then my son Bency drew this picture the other day:

I love people in my class

I love people in my class

These sure got me thinking that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and with that comes the Valentine exchange at school!

So this year I thought I would make their Valentines on the computer and send in the files to be printed as 4×6 pictures. They can write their messages on the back and have their own unique Valentine’s to hand out!

This project took me a 1/2 hour and I ordered 50 prints total which cost $7.00 with shipping.

And here are the finished results:

Iris's Valentine for school

Iris’s Valentine for school

Bency's Valentine for school

Bency’s Valentine for school

I just noticed now that I forgot the apostrophe in Valentine’s on Bency’s card and I already have them sent in! Wow, that’s so typical of me!! Good thing I’m not a perfectionist!

Have a great day and don’t get shot by an arrow!!

Melissa

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Don’t Mess With My System

In the past, I’ve never had any arguments about clothes from my kids. I buy their clothes without any input from them and I lay out what they are going to wear each morning. They’ve never said a word.

My pediatrician once recommended that I begin giving my children choices when they turned 3 years old. For instance you should hold up two different shirts and let them pick one so they feel they have some control.

In theory, this sounds logical. However, I know my children. Their decision making process is long, drawn out, can take hours and they always regret their choice. This in turn has sometimes caused tears when they have picked plain M&M’s at the store and later wished they had chosen peanut.

I figure our system works so why mess with it.

My 5 year old son, Bency, has recently thrown a wrench into our fine working plan.

I also have a 7 year old daughter, Iris. You would think if it was anyone is causing me clothing stress it would be her. The closest moment of “clothing hysteria” she has caused me was when she was in Kindergarten.

I sent Iris to school in thick cotton tights striped with rainbow colors, a spaghetti strap undershirt and a purple corduroy dress that buttoned up the front. She looked absolutely adorable. Much to my surprise, Iris came home in the afternoon wearing only her tights and undershirt. She said she had got hot and taken off her dress mid school day. I was completely horrified that my daughter had been running around school sans purple dress. Since then, I have never bought a dress that buttons up the front, worried that she might mistake it for a cardigan again.

We need dresses that zip up the back!

We need dresses that zip up the back!

Like I said, it is my son who is messing with my system after receiving a Christmas gift of an Angry Bird shirt from a friend of ours. Everything has changed. It is all he wants to wear. He doesn’t even want to take it off. I finally got him out of it a few days ago after I showed him the snot on the sleeve where he wiped his nose and the ketchup blobs on the front. He agreed I could wash it but as soon as it was out of the dryer he needed it right back.

Bency's new Angry Bird shirt

Bency’s new Angry Bird shirt

I’m sure this is only the beginning. I’m sure all of my kids will rebel at some point. If my two year old begins requesting Blues Clues shirts tomorrow, I will throw up my hands and move us all to a nudist colony. They certainly couldn’t mess with that system and the thought of no laundry sounds blissful!

Give a Random Hug, Kick Up Your Heels and Jingle Your Bells

Last week was my children’s Christmas concert at school. I absolutely adore watching children sing. It is hands down one of my favorite things in the world.

I have been going to the same school for years now to watch this event. It started when my nieces went to school there and I would go to watch them sing. Two years ago I got to go watch my daughter Iris’s first performance and this year began the tradition with my son, Bency.

I have come to anticipate the hilarity and sweetness of this event.

My daughter’s performance was at 8:30 in the morning. Two hundred 2nd and 3rd graders filled the risers. 400 family members filled the bleachers. The children sang their hearts out, played their instruments and tried their best to get their hand motions in sync. Iris was picked to do the polka this year and her heel kicking had me in stitches! My family and I were high in the bleachers. My 2 year old son sat on my husband’s lap enjoying every minute.

Iris all ready to sing her heart out!

Iris all ready to sing her heart out!

My son Bency’s performance was at 1:30 in the afternoon. Two hundred Kindergarten and 1st graders filled the risers. 400 family members filled the bleachers. The children sang their hearts out. My family was on the very bottom bleacher. My 2 year old son was antsy. He didn’t want to sit and enjoy this performance. He wanted to run free. We tried to contain him but he kicked and whined. In an attempt to not have the gymnasium filled with screams we let him go. He stayed near us for the most part, doing spins and twirls, minding his own business.

Cesar spinning and twirling and doing his own thing during the concert

Cesar spinning and twirling and doing his own thing during the concert

I kept my eyes on Bency who decided to make up his own hand motions to the songs and put a twirl in here and there when the spirit moved him.

Bency at this first Christmas concert

Bency at this first Christmas concert

A group of 1st graders gathered on the gymnasium floor to sing a special song and play the xylophones. Cesar stopped twirling momentarily. He gazed at the performers. Something struck a chord in him because out of nowhere he ran over to one of the 1st grade girls and gave her a hug mid dong on her xylophone.

I immediately ran to retrieve him and felt hot, redness fill my face knowing the whole gymnasium of people just watched me scrape my 2 year old from the embraces of one of the performers.

As I sat there trying to recover from my embarrassment, my son Bency and his class made their way to the gymnasium floor to perform a special song with the accompaniment of bells. The music teacher began playing the piano and cued the kids to begin singing. All the kids began caroling except for Bency who stood up and began walking around and searching wildly for something. Bency lost his jingle bells.

The music teacher noticed, stopped playing the piano and announced, “I have never stopped during a concert before but this is really important.” She then proceeded to find another bell and go give it to Bency.

More redness filled my face thinking about the fact that my child was the first to ever cause a concert to be stopped before.

This was my favorite Christmas concert I have ever attended. This concert took place on December 14, 2012. This was the same day that 20 elementary children were killed in Newtown, CT. I learned a little bit about this right before I left for my daughter’s concert. I learned a little more throughout that day. Today, I know a lot.

I know that I am very blessed I got to see my children sing.

I am blessed that I got to see my 2 year old give someone a random hug for no reason.

I am blessed that Iris kicked up her heels to the polka and that Bency got to jingle his bell.

I am not embarrassed anymore.

You Have A Piece of My Heart

In my 2nd grade daughter, Iris’s school the word “friend” is not a part of children’s vocabulary. Everyone is referred to by BFF (Best Friends Forever). Iris calls about 20 kids her BFFs (both boys and girls). This term of endearment started in 1st grade but it wasn’t until this past summer that Iris actually learned what it stood for. She came home excitedly from a friend’s house one day and asked if I knew what BFF stood for. Before I could answer, she yammered out the answer for me and stated how unbelievable it was that she had so many people in her life that were going to be her friends FOREVER! Up until that point she just thought she had best friends.

Dear Iris,Thank you so much for being my BFF! I remember the first time we met the first day of first grade. You are the best friend I could ever have.

Dear Iris,
Thank you so much for being my BFF! I remember the first time we met the first day of first grade. You are the best friend I could ever have.

The other day, Iris came home from school and said one of her BFFs had downgraded her to a BF (best friend). She wasn’t terribly upset about this because there had not been a fight or drama. The girl just merely dropped a “F.” Iris couldn’t understand how once you make a promise of “forever” how you can just go back on this eternal promise. “Forever is forever. It never ends.” is how Iris put it. If being downgraded to a BF wasn’t bad enough, the same girl dropped Iris down to an “F” (friend) later in the afternoon because Iris put a snowball down her 5 year old brother, Bency’s coat. All of Iris’s friends have taken a shining to Bency and are all mother hens around him.

As we sat at the dining room table discussing how it’s possible to go from being a BFF in the morning to only an F in the afternoon I found myself reflecting on my own childhood friendships. I remember the excitement of exchanging gold heart necklaces with my best friend. My half of the heart read “B FR” and her half read “EST IENDS.” When you put them together it spelled BEST FRIENDS. I remember sitting perched on top of the monkey bars together and making promises to grow up and live next door to each other.

I explained to Iris that as lovely as forever sounds that it really isn’t the reality of how many relationships will be in her life. As we grow and change so do our friendships. Not necessarily because of fights or that we don’t like each other but because our interests or outlooks change. Childhood is the time to learn how to be a “good” friend and how to receive friendships too. It’s a process that takes practice and reflection like anything else. It’s wonderful to have a lot of people we call friends and if some of them stick around forever, what a truly great blessing that is.

I haven’t seen that girl that I exchanged heart necklaces with in many years. Life got in the way and we ventured down different paths and created families that keep us busy. I’m certain though that if we ran into each other we would laugh and reminisce about our childhood days. The countless sleepovers and the sledding in my backyard that always inevitably got me stuck under the chain link fence and she would have to help me get out. The sledding in her woods; which made us pros at weaving in and out of trees and stopping just before we would land in the creek at the bottom of the hill. The year she received the BB gun when she was 8 years old and how we would go and shoot squirrels in her backyard with it. And the hours upon hours we spent building forts out of tree limbs; never bothering to go in for lunch because we were having too much fun. And of course I would bring up the necklace. I still have it in my jewelry box.

Friendships have a way of making an imprint on your heart. A memory that is forever. No matter if it is a BFF, BF or an F.

My half of the heart

My half of the heart

Me Yoga Girl, You Gym Teacher

My 7 year old daughter, Iris, is a mover and a shaker. She is full of ideas, has a kind heart, is always busy and is constantly trying to change the world.

Yesterday, Iris asked me for several small gift bags.

Apparently, Iris is in full Christmas Spirit mode because she had created gifts for all of her teachers. I asked her if she perhaps thought it was a little early for Christmas present giving but she disagreed. It clearly is never too early to start doling out Christmas cheer according to her.

I had to hide my chuckles when I saw what she came up with.

Personalized cards in the shape of a Christmas tree with a special message on back and each teacher received some of her Halloween candy.

Iris’s homemade Christmas cards

 

The messages on the back of the cards were the hit of my day:

To: (Mrs. Art Teacher)

Merry Christmas! Thank you for teaching me about lots of art paintings! My favorite thing you teached us is to make portfolios. Did you know the elephant is kind of simple? From Art Girl, Iris

To: (Mrs. Gym Teacher)

Merry Christmas! Thank you for teaching us ALMOST everything! I really like stuff you teach us! From, Gym Girl Iris

To: (Mrs. Librarian)

Merry Christmas! Did you know I love books? Thank you for letting us check out books! From your book lover, Iris

To: (Mr. Gym Teacher)

Merry Christmas! I really like what you teach us in P.E. or gym! Do you know my favorite thing in gym? Yoga!! From Yoga Girl, Iris

 

Iris said she still has more teachers to give to so she will be working on more throughout the week! I can’t wait what other monikers she gives herself!!

 

 

Dick and Jane To The Rescue

He asked if he could read another story.

It was huge to me. It was a mind blowing, earth shattering, birds chirping around the world kind of statement.

My 5 year old son, Bency is in Kindergarten and is learning to read.

Unlike his older sister, who emerged from the womb and began her love of books and desire to learn to read Bency was indifferent about books.

He likes when I read him stories but he rarely picks up books during the day and tries to read them by himself. My daughter, by 2 years old had memorized the majority of her books and could fool anyone that she was a reader. She read from sunup until sundown and still does.

In Kindergarten they began by teaching the kids the easy words such as the, it, is, can, see, etc. Bency does have these memorized and so now they are moving on to simple books that contain these words.

Last week I brought out an old Dick and Jane book and told Bency I was going to have him read it for me. He made a noise indicating that this would be painful and threw his hands up to his head. I kind of tilted my head and gave him a look and he said, “Fine, but you know I can’t read yet.”

Fun With Dick and Jane from 1940

Lo and behold, Bency CAN read. He actually did quite well and only stumbled over a few words. The words he didn’t know he would only look at for a second and then throw his body back and whine, “I don’t know that word. I can’t read.”

He is seriously dramatic and stubborn.

I kept pushing on night after night. I was patient and amazed watching him get better and better.

Night after night Bency grumbled, moaned and threw his hands to his head like my suggestion for him to read Dick and Jane with me was on par with getting seared with a hot branding iron.

Last night something happened though. We got through the same two chapters we have been rereading for the past couple of days and I began to close the book.

Bency said, “Hey, wait…I want to read the next chapter. I think I know how to read now.”

A half hour earlier when I told Bency that it was time for us to go up and read he said, “Do I have to?” and proceeded to do a rolling flip off of the chair that I can only assume indicated that he would rather knock himself unconscious or end up in the hospital then have to go read what Dick and Jane were up to.

I’m hoping the future holds the constant request for one more story!

I Know A Lot About Thumbs

Trying to get my children to reveal any details about their day at school is as tough as breaking into a bank vault.

Actually with the use of a stethoscope, the ability to hear the clicks and a look out person I would have a much better chance of cracking that bank vault because there is no stethoscope in the world that would allow me to hear the clicks in my children’s heads after a long day at school.

If I ask how their day was, I get the canned answer of “good.”

I’ve tried different techniques such as asking them what the worst part of their day was. I’ve asked what they wrote about during writing time. I’ve requested what they talked about during sharing circle time.

My children, who CAN remember what they ate for dinner 7 weeks ago on Thursday, CAN NOT remember who they played with at recess two hours ago. They shrug, grunt and go grab a snack.

On my son’s first day of Kindergarten, he came home, gave me the obligatory answer of “good” when I asked how his day went. I was like, “Are you kidding me? This is the first time in your life you’ve ever been away from me and you’re giving me….good? I need details…lots of details.”

My 5 year old, Bency, looked me in the eyes and as serious as you can possibly be, said, “I’m sorry Mom. I can’t tell you anything about my day. My teacher said everything that goes on in Kindergarten is Top Secret.”

I told Bency’s teacher this and she started laughing and said I had a little jokester on my hands. I would have called it a bald-faced liar but I guess jokester sounds nicer.

My 7 year old daughter, Iris, is exactly the same way except I have been able to get some information out of her 30 minutes AFTER she is tucked in for the night. My husband and I will just get settled down to watch a television show and out will come Iris, full of news. One night she told me that a kid had got sick all over the computer lab that day and they just wheeled the kid down to the Health Room in one of those rolling office chairs. This news sent off alert signals in my brain because no one who carries my DNA could possibly wait until bedtime to share this kind of information!

I have now added, “Did anyone throw up at school today?” to my daily line of questioning. I still get shrugs and answers of, “I don’t remember.”

I had a tiny glimmer of hope when I asked Bency the other night at the dinner table if he learned anything new that day. He went into a lengthy explanation about the importance of thumbs on human beings. I sat there, intently listening, picturing 20 Kindergarten children enthralled in their teacher’s lesson on thumbs. After his 10 minute dissertation, I finally got the opportunity to ask in an amazed voice, “You learned this all at school today?” He looked blankly at me and said, “No, I’ve always known a lot of information about thumbs.” I sadly shook my head and asked him to pass the peas.

Parent/teacher conferences are being held in two weeks. I’m hoping to get some answers to fill in the gaps on what I’ve missed the last two months.

I know “good” means absolutely nothing because my husband asked Bency how his day of school was last Thursday. Bency answered “good.”

That’s a very interesting answer considering Bency didn’t even have school last Thursday!

Iris’s first day of Kindergarten and the beginning of me hearing “I don’t remember what I did at school.”

Pajamas and Bad Breath Are Fine With Me

Today my 7 year old daughter, Iris woke up crabby and tired. She had no interest in eating the breakfast that was waiting on the table for her. She went directly from her bed to the couch and cocooned herself in a blanket.

I ignored her and waited a few minutes before requesting that she get moving.

She did go eat but then plopped herself back on the couch. I told her she couldn’t lie on the couch and that it was time for her to get dressed and brush her teeth.

In her whiniest voice she spewed, “But Mooommm, I’m too tired to get dressed and brush my teeth.”

In the sweetest voice I could muster I replied, “That’s fine honey, I have no problem with you going to school in your light blue footy pajamas with pink elephants on them and with bad breath. It doesn’t affect me either way how you present yourself at school but in 20 minutes you are leaving.”

She huffed off into the bathroom to groom herself but began sputtering, “I never get to watch television anymore. I’m tired and just want to stay home watching TV all day.”

I walked into the bathroom and in my sweetest voice said, “I understand sweetheart, let me shoot an email to your teacher today and request she let you watch some shows today at school.”

Iris’s eyes got huge and she came back with a slightly terrified voice, “But Moooommm, the teacher would not go along with that. Please don’t email her.”

While I was busy brushing my own hair I said, “No, I think you’re wrong. You’ve said yourself that your teacher is amazing and really nice. I’m sure she won’t have a problem letting you watch My Little Pony instead of doing addition and subtraction today. She seems like a very reasonable lady and THIS is a very reasonable request.”

Iris stood stunned for a few moments trying to come up with a reason I should cease and desist any of my further actions to possibly embarrass her for life. Her next statement was “Well, she doesn’t let us whistle. My older cousin said my teacher has let kids whistle in her class in the past and this has never happened. There has NOT been any whistling in class.

I looked at Iris, nodded my head and agreed that a teacher who does not conduct whistling sessions in class will certainly not allow the viewing of My Little Pony.

I told her I would scratch my intervention idea but to hurry up and get ready for school.

Five minutes later, Iris was ready to go to school with a smile on her face and a big hug and kiss for me!

The moral of this story is: If you want to be a superior teacher, allow whistling in your classroom. Your students will think you are amazing!

Picture of Iris wearing the pajamas I almost sent her to school wearing today

Mr. Potato Head Got Cool

Mr. Potato Head

 

This is one of the first pieces of work my 5 year old, Bency brought home from Kindergarten. I immediately told him “Great coloring job Bency!” I then told him I liked Mr. Potato Head’s multi-colored teeth. Bency replied, “I wanted to give him some gold teeth to make him look cool.

I found this odd as I don’t think Bency knows ANYONE with gold teeth let alone someone “cool.”

After further examination I also noticed Mr. Potato Head has black rotten teeth intermingled among the gold, blood-shot eyes and a whiskey nose.

For fear of what his answers might be to the inquiries of these observations I simply was thankful that Mr. Potato Head didn’t have any tattoos and a big gold necklace hanging from his neck.

P.S. Bency was able to recite back to me the Kindergarten Rules!

 

 

It’s Kind of My Thing

Last year I volunteered at my children’s school to present an author kit to each of the first grade classes once a month. This basically just entailed being supplied an author that you had to give the class a brief presentation about and then read one of the author’s books of your choice to the kids.

This year I am not volunteering.

I may have mentioned before that I absolutely LOVE reading children’s books. It’s kind of my thing! I love doing the different voices, making large swooping motions with my hands to make a point and I love putting the mystery in mystery books!!

I thought this volunteer job had my name written ALL over it. It didn’t.

I kind of swept the whole “presentation” part under the rug. I’m not great at talking in front of large groups of people but these were 1st graders. I had nothing to fear…. Right?!

My first clue that I was making a huge mistake came at the meeting and handout of our author kits. I was given the author Audrey Wood. I wasn’t familiar with Mrs. Wood but I didn’t care; the big tote of books they gave me was filled with brightly covered front pages and amazing titles. I knew I was going to love Audrey! However, as we made introductions with our fellow volunteer counterparts I realized everyone else who was volunteering was a retired school teacher. I gulped. I have NO experience with kids besides my own. I have never been to college. I certainly do NOT have a degree in child psychology or have any idea what makes a kid’s mind tick. And then the lady in charge of the volunteer program asked if there were any questions. I raised my hand. WHY DID I RAISE MY HAND??? It makes me want to kick myself all over again today just thinking about it. I asked, “How do you hold a book when you’re reading to a group of children?” You see, when I read at home my kids sit next to me on the couch so while I’m reading they can see the pictures at the same time. I knew I wasn’t going to be able to do this with a large group so I wanted to know if I held the book in my lap and then showed the pictures after each page or if I held it up the whole time and tried to read at an angle. The head of the volunteer group was very nice and said she preferred to hold it up the whole time but I was almost certain I saw a look of panic in her eyes. How had they let someone like me slip through the cracks. I clearly wasn’t qualified to be reading to small children. She probably wanted to give me a reading test to see if I could in fact actually READ. I saw her kind of eyeing up my tote box full of books and I think she was mentally trying to figure out how she grab it away from me and run. I actually thought about just handing it back over but knew I was made to do this volunteer job….I LOVE TO READ CHILDREN’S BOOKS!

My first reading assignment was to be in two weeks so I began to feverishly pour over all of Audrey’s books. I read every article I could find about Mrs. Wood, perused her website and even went to the library to check out the rest of her books that were not included in the author kit. Night and day I read about Audrey and read her books from flap to flap. I KNEW Audrey Wood backward and forward. My children had to endure long sessions of me explaining about Audrey and sitting on the floor while I held my books up and practiced reading from an angle.

I owned this assignment, took it super serious and when I was done EVERY 1st grader was going to know who Audrey Wood was, fall in love with her as much as had and WANT TO BECOME AUTHORS THEMSELVES!!

I BOMBED!

I began with my daughter’s class. All 18 children looked so innocent and sweet. They sat nicely with their hands in their laps and stared silently at me, ready for me to begin. Or were they scrutinizing me? I couldn’t tell. I started to talk about Mrs. Audrey Wood and suddenly everything disappeared from my head. I couldn’t remember anything. I started stumbling with my words. The more I stumbled the more I thought the kids were judging me. Behind their sweet faces there was probably raucous laughter waiting to burst out. The more I began to wonder what they were thinking the more lost my words got and the hives started to break out all over my neck and face. I quickly moved on to the book. I picked Tickleoctopus. This book is about cave people who discover an animal called the Tickleoctopus. This book is amazing. It gives kids a glimpse into prehistoric life plus has a huge opportunity to do CAVEMAN VOICES!!! I was in my element reading the book and the horror that had happened a few minutes prior melted away as I gave the performance of my life! After I was done the kids clapped, cheered and asked me to read it again!

I went home and told my husband about my utter disaster. My husband does this sort of thing for a living. He gets up in front of people and talks and teaches them almost every day. He told me just to talk from my heart and not to worry about it so much. These were 1st graders after all. They clearly are NOT judging me.

The next time I went to school to a different classroom, the words flowed out of my mouth with ease. I gave the kids a lot of information about Audrey. I put it in terms I thought they could understand. I gave them reasons to want to become authors themselves. I shared with them the fact that when Audrey was in elementary school she wanted to be an author so bad that she actually scribbled out the name of her favorite author, Dr. Suess, on a book and wrote her own name over it (immediately after I told them this, I regretted it. What if I had just caused a rash of book graffiti artists because they all wanted to be like Audrey). I told them that Audrey met Don Wood in college; they fell in love, got married and began working on children’s books together. (A child asked what Audrey’s maiden name was because if Don’s last name was Wood, Audrey’s last name couldn’t have always been Wood. I had no idea what the answer was. I felt like a complete Audrey Wood fraud.). I told them that Audrey began writing books when she was a new mom and was now in her mid-60’s…probably the same age as some of their grandparents. (A child raised their hand and said that was the same age as their dad. I felt horrible. Of course there are older parents. Why did I make this statement? What if I gave that child a complex for the rest of their life?) Again, I moved onto the book and got another round of applause and pleas for me to read it again.

I did this for the rest of the year, each time causing hives and creating questions in my head wondering if I had just scarred these poor 1st graders for life. The only thing I nailed was reading the book. Every time I was at the school for some reason or another a child would approach me and say, “Hey, you’re the lady that came and read us Tickleoctopus! I LOVED THAT BOOK!!!”

I loved that book too and I love a million more children’s books but I will leave the teaching to the experts. Hopefully someone new will volunteer this year and be able to portray Audrey Wood the way she deserves to be portrayed and I will stick to reading to my kids, the neighbor kids and any friends that pop on over because it’s kind of my thing!

A picture of me reading to my kids last year!

 

 

For more information about Audrey Wood please click here for her site!

If you have a child who is struggling with reading please click here for Dr. Connie Hebert’s blog. She is a literary specialist who has a lot of ideas on how to guide those children who need a little extra help. She has a published book and another due out soon. Check it out!!!