Friday, August 29, 2008

Back to School, Part 2

The Sacred Heart students have returned to school...and of course I had to post this photo of Julia on her very first day of Kindergarten!

And here they all are together...Lindsey's first day as a 3rd grader, Sam's as a 2nd grader and Joey already 2 weeks into his 5th grade year at Valley View. Yes, the other kids definitely envy Joey his daily free dress and hot lunch. Ah, well.

Tony starts Mission Bell preschool on Tuesday, so watch, naturally, for the next post in the series. Five in school (well, two mornings a week, anyway)...I just might be cooking something good for dinner!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Geography Lesson

This morning, 3 year old Tony asked, "Where's Daddy?"
"In Texas," I replied.
"Oh, Texas," he said. "I know that place."
"You do?" I asked, pleased that he already had some awareness of our United States.
"That's where Sandy is from."
"Sandy..." I responded, thinking of who that might be. Then I realized who he was talking about.
"You mean Sandy the Squirrel? From SpongeBob?"
"YEAH! I just didn't know her last name."

Wasn't it me who said SpongeBob wasn't educational? Clearly, I stand corrected.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Back to School Has A Whole New Meaning

Joey has gone back to school. For most kids, this means a return to the classroom after a few months of vacation, but for Joey it means something far more significant: he has not been to a physical school in two years.

His return to the classroom was a mutual decision, but one that we both have fretted over nonetheless. He worries that the work will be too hard and that he will fail in front of the other kids (though he doesn't admit this forthright). I worry that his teachers won't be able to see him and his potential the way I do or that his values will be tested by the kids he meets. There is plenty, all told, to worry about.

Joey joins his fifth grade class in a public school with an IEP (Individual Education Program) in place. What this means is that he is entitled to assistance, as needed, with his schoolwork due to his learning disabilities. We are only in the second week of school so it is really too early for me to comment on how this is working, but so far I am pleased with what I am seeing in all areas.

I suspected that a teacher might get Joey to work harder at things he dislikes than I did, as I often got discouraged by his resistance and eased off. So far this is proving to be true, as he has brought home more writing work already than I know he would have done in the first month of school with me, and he is not complaining about it. His work is better, too, with neater printing and a greater effort in spelling. I hope this lasts!

I am very proud of him for the way he has gotten up early each morning, showered and dressed for school without any complaints. I know he must be nervous, I know he hates the actual schoolwork, but he is facing it like a young man and doing what he must. My child who likes to sleep until 10am is up at 6:30 with a good attitude--he is an inspiration.

He has made some friends, immediately identified the prettiest girl in his class, and is liking the hot lunch program (but not as much as me--I love not making lunch and wish Sacred Heart would build a cafeteria!). He likes his teacher--a man for the first time--and is already feeling comfortable with the routine of the day. Overall it is going even better than I had hoped it would.

This attitude of his, combined with his continued diligent work on the football field in recent weeks, is changing the way I am looking at him. My child is slowly but surely being replaced by a man, in front of my very eyes. Granted, this is at times clearer than others (for example, he still tortures his siblings like the 10 year old he is), but for the first time I am seeing glimpses of the adult he will become and I like what I see.

I hope and pray I will have such positive things to say a few months down the road. Of course, I will keep you posted.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Fruits of My Labor

Months of planning, planting, tending, pruning and watering are beginning to pay dividends. As you can see, my humble garden is thriving! Take a look at what I harvested from my garden yesterday...
I gathered basil for pesto, yellow squash (which made a yummy casserole), tomatoes, and my "test" picks of bell pepper and white corn. As it turns out, these two crops are perfect right now, so I am planning to pick the rest tomorrow for a meal of fresh corn and peppers for all.

This is my first time gardening and and I am pleased and proud of the results I have achieved. I have had as many failures as I have successes (peas, beans and carrots, for example, did not fare so well) so I am learning lots along the way from the mistakes I am making. I have done well with the above shown fruits and vegetables along with pumpkin, butternut squash, strawberries, onions and melons. Actually, the jury is still out on the melons, because although the vines have thrived I have no evidence of actual fruit and it may be getting too late in the season for any to appear...but we shall see, as our growing season goes well into October.

At any rate, I simply had to share what I have accomplished here, because it has been so much fun for me to undertake. Next year, when I know better what I am doing, I will let the kids help and, perhaps, each take some responsibility for one of the five boxes. Watching vegetables grow from a single seed has given me renewed respect for God's creation and I can't help but think it will do the same for my kids if they have a front row seat to the action.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Happy Birthday, Sam!

As usual, I am late posting birthday wishes...but the sentiments remain unchanged, even 5 days after the fact!

Sam, how can you be seven years old already? Your growing up is somehow sneaking up on me! Perhaps it is because you are such a content child. You go through your days happy, undemanding, independent, resourceful, and generally compliant. You are such a pleasure to parent, indeed, to simply be around!

My favorite thing about you is your stories. Your enthusiasm for whatever you are going to tell me simply bubbles out of you. I can never guess what the subject will be. An observation. A "remember when". Sometimes it's the plot line or a funny snippet from the program you just watched on TV. The little things you share about your life keep me uniquely connected to you. Don't ever stop talking to me about "whatever"!

You have an exceptionally clever mind, and the way you look at things often changes my perspective. I can't wait to see what you will become, all the ways in which you will undoubtedly succeed. I love you with all my heart and am truly honored to be your mother.

Happy, happy birthday!

Friday, August 08, 2008


Yesterday I testified as a witness in a criminal trial. Although I have twice served on a jury, I have never testified before, and have never even entered the courthouse here in the Antelope Valley where the crime scene is clearly more nefarious than in Disney-like Marin County.

This trial is about a contractor who made off with our deposit on a gate (and that of other people in our neighborhood) and is being prosecuted for fraud, so it was relatively low-pressure testimony in that it only involved theft and not violent crime.

The entire experience was fascinating. From the moment I walked into the courthouse (it is an amazingly beautiful building for our rinky dink little valley) to the time I walked out, I was enthralled by a world completely different from the one I am accustomed to. I will share some of my observations.

First of all, WHO ARE ALL THESE PEOPLE?! No one I know gets in trouble with the law. No one I know screams on their cell phones in echoing hallways about the pros and cons of accepting plea bargains or whose fault it really is that their kid is on trial. Yet, there were literally hundreds of people in this building who seemed to be totally comfortable with this scene. I am so very sheltered from a larger world that exists outside the church, school and neighborhood where my life takes place. It really made me think.

Second, how did the D.A. have time to make it through college and law school when he is, apparently, only 12 years old? When did I get so old that I reached the point where people around me look too young to be doing what they are doing?

Finally, if the courthouse cafeteria can serve a really delicious tuna melt and soup for $3.25, why do the places across the street charge $7 for a lesser product? If I learned anything yesterday, it was that I'm taking the family to the courthouse cafeteria the next time I want a good meal out.

At any rate, the experience was a nice change from my daily grind and made me truly appreciate the life I am living. I hope and pray my life NEVER revolves around a criminal trial that I am directly involved in. I certainly have a new compassion for those who are in this situation with family members, friends, or as victims.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Hell Week

Joey has just made it through the hardest thing he has done in his young life...the first week of practice for tackle football, otherwise known as "hell week".

I found this name to be perfectly descriptive of the 10 hours of conditioning Joey had to endure in 100 degree heat. Two hours each day, three breaks per practice for water, less than a minute per break. The boys ran. And ran. And ran. And did push ups. And ran some more. Until I actually thought some of them might keel over for good. But no one did, no one quit, and despite some very low moments, they graduated today to a future of a new kind of hell: hitting eachother with full pads. Can't wait.

As difficult as it is to watch Joey go through all of this, I know this is a wonderful thing for him. In front of my eyes, I have seen him grow up this week. I have seen him control his emotions and his discomfort better than he ever has. I have seen him push himself farther than he thought he could. Tonight I saw his new confidence, the bounce in his step that was fueled by the knowledge that he had made it through the hardest part and was now really and truly a football player. This is the first time I have seen him really go after something he wanted without changing his mind when it got harder than he thought it would be. I couldn't be prouder.

Joey is excited and ready for what is coming. He is not afraid of tackling and hitting--after all, he has had enough practice with his siblings! It will likely be too difficult for me to watch (the coach has already warned us to not freak out over the abundance of bruises coming our way), but I am so happy to see Joey in this state of enthusiasm that I am sure I will find my way through it.

I will keep you posted on the next phase. In the meantime, Go Rebels! Go Joey!