Halloween

We had managed to make it to 3rd grade with nary a word from Robert about Pokemon. It’s always just been about cars and he flirted a bit with Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers in his younger days. But then Ali came along. Ali is a year younger than Robert. They ride the bus together and both of them are the only kid in their grade in the gt class they attend one day a week, so they’ve become really close.

Ali would bring his collection of cards to the bus stop in the mornings to show Robert, who was fascinated. And then Ali kept giving Robert cards. I finally decided that Robert should reciprocate, so we got him a set. Oh my goodness! I had NO idea what I was unleashing! This boy is obsessed. I think he literally cannot think of anything but Pokemon because he’ll just randomly start telling a story and we sit there confused for a bit wondering what on Earth he’s talking about until we say, “Wait, is this about Pokemon?” And inevitably the answer is yes. I finally told him no Pokemon in his writing homework because every sentence was about Pokemon.

But because he is my son and I dearly love him and I know that this isn’t the end of the world and eventually I will look back fondly at these days, I have fully indulged him. He was having a hard time deciding on a Halloween costume, but when I suggested Ash Ketchum, there was no more debate. His destiny was to be a Pokemon trainer. I made his costume and I even took him to Build a Bear to get Pikachu as a treat when Clara and Chris were at the church father/daughter retreat one weekend.

IMG_7670

IMG_7672

IMG_7673

Halloween was a bit of a bummer again this year. I took Robert to a Trunk or Treat at the high school the night before because thunderstorms were predicted Halloween night. We hadn’t been before, so I don’t know if it’s always that crazy or not, but it was packed! People may have been thinking the same thing as me. The lines to play games and get candy were all soooo long and it was shoulder to shoulder people. We just hung around for a few minutes, he got a little bit of candy and we called it a night. There were lots of high schoolers there and I kept hearing them yell, “Hey, it’s Ash!” all night. I think he was enjoying the attention.

Halloween was on a Wednesday, so I let Clara walk Robert around to a few houses before we left for church. It was still early, so only a few people were home. He mainly just got a handful of Chinese cough drops from the neighbors. Ha! I love them. When we got back from church, the rain was just about to start, so they ran to a few more neighbor’s houses and right when they got back to the house, there was a downpour.

There are no pictures of Clara’s costume, because she decided she didn’t want to dress up this year. :( They can even wear costumes at the junior high but she wasn’t interested. Makes me sad.

Day 6- Robert’s Very Venetian Birthday

We woke Friday and Robert couldn’t wait to open presents. This wouldn’t be the first time we’ve opened gifts in bed with Daddy not feeling well. Both kids got their birthday presents early on the way to the airport. Robert got a Kindle and Clara a camera. So he just had a couple of gifts from grandparents to open. Right now Robert is a pokemon crazy man. Our world has been invaded by pokemon and he has a hard time telling a story or even writing a sentence at school that doesn’t involve pokemon. It’s a little out of hand, but man he loves those things, so I’m resigned to the fact that this will be a birthday and Christmas filled with pokemon and shared gift ideas with grandparents. He’s wanted the t-shirt for awhile. From top to bottom is the trash panda, danger noodle, sea flap flap, formal chicken, boople snoot, tiger pony, murder log, leather bird and death floof. He also got a case to hold his cards and more cards.

The kids and I headed downstairs for a lovely breakfast buffet and Chris joined us a little later. Robert chose a pink sprinkled donut for his birthday breakfast. It was about 9:00 and checkout was at 11:00. I guess I had it in my head that Chris would be feeling better by morning like Robert had, but alas, he had me ask for a late checkout (12:00 was as late as we could get) and sent us on without him. :( Clara was being a little moody as well, so I was feeling pretty bad that Robert’s birthday was looking kinda crumby.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You couldn’t tell by looking at his face here though. He’s had bad luck on a few of his birthdays and yet he always manages to keep smiling. It takes a lot to ruin a birthday I guess.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

70,35,186,166.922485

39,37,192,174.544601

76,35,173,185.156677

There’s not just a whole lot for a 9 year old boy to do in Venice, so all along I had kept Venice flexible so we could let Robert help decide. Neither of them really wanted to take a gondola ride, which surprised me. I kept mentioning it and letting them know we needed to be heading to our airport hotel in the afternoon and it was supposed to rain later, but nope, didn’t want to. I also wanted to see the Doge’s Palace which is right next to the basilica. We scratched off a trip to Murano when Chris started feeling bad. The one thing he did want to do was walk to the top of the bell tower. Oh, and chase pigeons.

The line into St. Marks was really short, so I told them we should go ahead and get in line. They weren’t too interested, but it’s free to walk through and it only takes a minute. Turns out it didn’t open for another 15 minutes so we waited on the raised walkway as the acqua alta slowly raised all around us. It was pretty cool to see it rise. You can see in these pictures that the water covers the marble entrance. I think it’s like that a lot of the time now. They were working on a project to protect the basilica. They had terrible storms at the end of October and Venice had the worst flooding it’s had in 50 years. Click here to see pictures of the recent flooding. Pictures aren’t allowed inside. Clara said she liked this one better than St. Peter’s. The mosaics are just incredible. I just can’t wrap my head around all of the amazing art and architecture that’s been around for so long and that people hundreds, if not thousands of years ago saw and experienced the same sights. I think it’s particularly hard for Americans since our country is so new and when something gets old you throw it out and build something new. I’m grateful for all of the hard work these countries do to keep these historical places renovated so that they can be appreciated by people from around the world. So, thanks Italy!

We spent those 15 minutes goofing off and taking some pictures from where we were perched on the walkway.

37,37,213,219.257782

36,35,209,206.990356

34,35,229,239.923431

91,55,243,213.104355

50,35,218,188.000000

Here’s another look at the acqua alta. The water comes up on either side of the piazza with a dry strip down the middle. I think it rose until around 10:00 and then was mostly dry again by about noon.

35,35,180,176.534821

 

107,37,199,189.065155

39,35,175,176.195312

There weren’t a ton of people out and yet the walkways were pretty crazy. Acqua altas mainly hit during the fall and winter months, but it must be nuts to deal with one during the height of tourist season. I felt for the people hauling luggage on them trying to get around people and on and off different walkways. They’re only a couple of feet high, but you just have to jump off when you want off. At one point Clara had gotten a little ahead of me and had just stepped off of the walkway. An older lady put out her hand and asked Clara to help her off. I held my breath hoping Clara would be able to help steady her and she had no problem. A lot of people thought she was older over there. As we were getting our tickets for Pompeii, our guide going back and forth in Italian to the ticket seller and then she asked me to show her Clara’s passport. Under 18 is half price and thought we were lying about Clara’s age. Ugh.

We walked over to the bell tower and gosh darnit, there was a sign that said we couldn’t take the stairs. Robert was bummed, but grudgingly agreed to go up in the elevator. I let him spend 2 euro in a commemorative coin machine as we waited for the elevator and that made up for it a bit. The kids know I’m a pretty big pushover on their birthday, especially when things aren’t going quite as planned. I even put a euro in the binocular machine for him. Not for Clara though. It wasn’t her birthday.

36,37,227,210.797531

The view from the top was amazing. It might have even been worth taking the stairs. :)

34,35,161,168.103577

 

43,37,229,205.586121

I took the kids to a shop called Ca del Sol. It’s a true Venetian handmade mask and costume shop. There are a lot of fake made in China masks in all of the souvenir shops, but I wanted to make sure we went somewhere to support a local artist. The shop was awesome and we loved looking at all of the masks. There were signs saying don’t touch, but the worker told the kids they could try on anything they liked. She didn’t have to tell Clara twice. She was back and forth to that mirror a dozen times. There were many beautiful, ornate masks that were over 100 euro, but I steered the kids to the little more reasonably priced ones and these were the ones they ended up choosing. Robert found a fox and Clara’s has a pretty shade of blue with some bars of music.

34,35,332,338.528778

On the way back to the hotel, we came across this restaurant. It would have been a fun place to have his birthday lunch, but when I skimmed the menu posted outside and saw that the appetizers were 18 euro, we just kept on a walkin’ and settled for a picture.

34,35,244,254.962708

We went back to the hotel to collect Chris since he was about to overstay his welcome. We had to unwrap the mask that the lady had just painstakingly packed for our trip home to show Daddy and then we grabbed our bags and headed downstairs. We left the bags while we headed out for some lunch.

36,35,214,213.617279

We stopped off in a candy store (for a second time in 24 hours). Google Captain Candy. The shop was filled with huge barrels of over-priced self serve candy sold by weight. We may have spent a bit too much on candy, but it was Robert’s birthday, so I couldn’t say no. And then we stopped in a shop for some gelato. And then lunch. It was just about to start raining and we had to get back to the hotel and get our luggage across the piazza to an airport vaporetto, so we headed back. That’s when Robert said, “But I wanted to ride in a gondola!” Seriously kid?! I was just slightly peeved and had zero sympathy. I had really wanted to ride in one myself and was sure the kids would love it, but I wasn’t going to force him to when it was his birthday. It was only around 2:00, but we needed to get Chris to the hotel and we still had an hour long boat ride to the mainland, not to mention the rain, so I was a bit peeved at the boy for not taking me up on the offer earlier.

Getting to the mainland from the island isn’t cheap. I searched for the cheapest option, and a one-way vaporetto seemed to be the cheapest you could get at 15 euro a person. Yikes. There were a lot of stops between St. Mark’s and the airport, but at least we got to sit. It docks right by the airport and our hotel wasn’t too far. It was something like 6 euro a person to get on the bus, so we decided to walk to the hotel. But then the sidewalk ended and we were on a road with about a 45 mph speed limit and an almost non-existent shoulder with three suitcases, two carry on duffles and kids backpacks for a couple hundred yards. Oopsie! Chris may have been a bit frustrated with my frugalness at this point. But come on, we just spent 60 euro to get across the water! You want me to shell out another 20 to ride a half mile? And then the rain picked up a bit, so 20 euro was sounding like a deal. (But don’t tell Chris I said that.)

We made it to our room at Best Western only mildly soaked. It was a nice enough room, but I was right. It was NOT an ok substitute for staying on the island. If you ever find yourself in Venice, you HAVE to stay on the island at least one night. The front desk pointed us in the direction of a restaurant for dinner, but it didn’t open until 7:00. Some of us napped and the kids and I showered before dinner so we could get straight to bed when we got back.

We walked a block to the restaurant in the rain and it looked to be packed with tourists either just arriving or like us, getting ready to fly out of Venice. Getting out in the cold had aggravated Robert’s cough and I hadn’t given him cough medicine since that morning. He was still having occasional fits if he got worked up laughing or running or got out in the cold. As soon as we sat down, he started coughing like crazy. I moved him between me and the wall and tried to get him to cough into me to hide him away from others, but I was really embarrassed. I know people were wondering why we would bring him out with a cough that bad. After a few minutes it settled down and he was able to enjoy what would hopefully be our last meal of pizza or pasta for awhile. (We had just about had our fill by this point.) Robert chose one more birthday dessert because he hadn’t had enough sweets that day and then we got to bed early in preparation for a really long day on Saturday.

Next Up–April

This is like Christmas in June. I’m spoiling y’all!

Justin’s birthday party was the day after Robert got his ear infection diagnosis. He actually felt ok, but he kept having those coughing fits, so we decided he probably shouldn’t be hacking all over the party guests and we’d be almost an hour away from home if he did. Chris stayed home with him while Clara and I headed up to Spring. The newest Decarlo is the spitting image of his big brother. Clara helped keep him corralled for Danielle since he didn’t want to miss out on any of the action.

IMAG0450

IMAG0452

Here’s a comparison pic. Travis is a year older here. Awww, weren’t they cute?

100_6642

It was a good thing Robert didn’t come. Before I got home, Chris called and said he was having a coughing fit and couldn’t catch his breath. He had thrown up everywhere and just could not get it under control. It wasn’t a productive cough at all. I got him into the bathroom and started the steam. I gave him a cough suppressant but he just threw it right back up. I ended up getting a syringe and giving him just a tiny bit when it slowed and he could catch his breath and then waited a minute before giving him more. It took about 20 minutes, but it stayed down.

I felt so bad for him. It was getting really late and he just wanted to sleep, but it still wasn’t slowing much. In between coughs he asked me “Am I going to die?” :( Poor guy. If he hadn’t stopped soon after, we probably would have taken him in, but the cough eventually started to subside and he was able to get a good night’s sleep. He was back to school on Monday, but fell asleep on the bus ride home. He got in trouble at school and fell asleep early on the couch the first half of the week. It really wiped him out.

I took on another project and cleaned the shower tile with an acidic cleaner that eats away all of the hard water deposits, leaving it smooth as glass, as well as re-caulked. It was not as easy a task as I had envisioned. (Is it ever?) There was crumbling grout behind a lot of the caulk, so not only did that make it harder to remove, but then I had to remove the loose grout as well. In the end though, I’m happy with the lovely bright white.

IMAG0456

IMAG0466

 

Chris has made friends with a man at church that is a car aficionado and he told him how much Robert loves cars, so one night after church, he let Robert sit in his cool car. I don’t know what it is. BMW something or other, maybe?

IMAG0471

 

We went to Temple for Easter weekend.

IMAG0474

IMAG0475

IMAG0476

IMAG0479

Saturday night before bed, the Easter bunny’s assistants had convened to discuss the gameplan for distributing each of their batches of eggs on Sunday. It was decided to wait until after church to hide eggs outside while lunch was being prepared. Well, during the night, an impostor entered the home and left eggs all over the house. Neither of the bunny’s true assistants said anything but both were wondering, “What the heck? Didn’t we just talk about this?” The reason I know this was an impostor is because the eggs contained Hot Tamales (which the kids hate, but which look a lot like red Mike and Ike’s that were intermingled in the eggs) and also Jelly Belly beanboozled flavored jelly beans. I didn’t realize this until I got what I believe to be a mouthful of dog food flavored jelly bean. Linda found eggs hidden in random places for days after we left, including in her purse.

IMAG0481

I just took a picture of a worksheet Robert brought home one day because I’m pretty sure I didn’t learn the term “oviparous” or “non-oviparous” in first grade. In fact, I think I learned the two new words that day.

IMAG0486

The kids had their field days at the end of the month. Clara and other RDR members got to help with the two sessions for the younger grades, so she enjoyed missing almost two full days of class between her own field day and the other two sessions. She was “working” the hula hoop station during this session. And that’s the only picture I took because I was busy helping pass out snacks the rest of the time.

IMAG0488

Robert fell off of his bike about five times over the course of a few days. He got back up pretty quickly with minimal tears each time, even this time when he hit his lip and almost busted it.
IMAG0499

I’m going to get in trouble for posting this next picture. We’ve decided to finish out one of our attics. It already has a full size door going into it, so we’re adding flooring and insulation and it will have an area for storage, as well as a space for Chris to spread out his hobbies. We had worked on it over the course of a month, and as he was laying down the second to last piece of plywood, he stood up fast and hit his head hard on the rafter above, falling off the plywood, one leg in the garage. We just added it to the quote the drywall/painter guy gave us, so no biggie. :)

IMAG0500

The science lab teacher had asked me several months back if I would help chaperone the 5th grade field trip to the Museum of Natural Science. The district changed chaperone rules this year and official chaperones must ride the bus with the group. I don’t want to re-live all the gory details, but suffice it to say, I was traumatized for a week. Some of the kids were awful, even after getting a huge lecture before leaving the school. We were late getting off (b/c of lecture) and then hit traffic, so we got to the museum an hour late, having missed our scheduled IMAX movie. Everything had to be re-arranged and we never did really get things under control. It was awful. One boy got in trouble and ended up having to sit on the bus with the principal the entire time. In the end, we watched a different IMAX about the Galapagos and the kids did calm down and enjoy that thankfully, so I was able to calm down and breathe for almost an hour. I think a lot of them had never seen a 3D movie. We also watched a film in the planetarium. We only had a short amount of time between the two, so we had to scrap the initial plans of splitting into groups and ended up just winding our way through the dinosaur exhibit quickly in one long line of 130 kids and then had to eat lunch out front quickly before getting back on the buses. No pictures because I was trying not to flip out on kids the entire time. :)

March

The last week of February, first week of March, was literacy week at school. They borrowed my awesome corgi knee high socks and wore matching, mismatched socks for Fox in Socks Day. For Cat in the Hat Day, Clara donned this dragon hat, proving without a doubt the unwavering self-confidence she possesses. :) They also had their storybook parade, but I didn’t get pictures. Clara wore her Athena costume and I cut up a t-shirt and added some red fabric paint to the edges so he could be a boy from “I Survived the Shark Attacks of 1917”. He pulled his arm inside his shirt for the parade so it looked like it had been bitten off. It may have been a tad inappropriate for school. Ha!

IMAG0318

IMAG0380

IMAG0381

We tried out a hibachi grill nearby for the first time for my birthday. I don’t think Robert had ever been to one. He loved it and said it’s his favorite now.

IMAG0378

I was so excited about getting the wallpaper off the powder room walls that I jumped head first into the kitchen. I just love having loads of unfinished projects piling up!

IMAG0383

IMAG0416

Around this time, our roofer sent someone out a few times to repair a couple of leaks in the ceiling. We then had to wait for a hard rain to make sure the repair worked. And then one of the repairs near the chimney again started leaking, so they came out again. They hadn’t replaced a rotted piece of wood against the chimney, so they did that and then caulked all of the siding around the chimney. Waited for another storm….. Then they sent someone out to make the ceiling repair. While he was here, I got quotes for texturing my walls and painting in the living room/entry since the walls are too high for me.

The painter had another long job already lined up, so it wasn’t until the beginning of May when he was able to come back out. He patched the spots on the ceiling and thankfully the roofer decided to repaint the entire ceiling for us! So they did that as well. They started on the kitchen and powder room walls as well. He had another job lined up after that and was supposed to call back a couple of weeks ago, but I still haven’t heard from him. I wasn’t too worried about it though since I’ve been so busy with end of school stuff. Anyway, that’s why these rooms are still works in progress.

We usually go camping during spring break, but we decided to stay home this year. Chris was leaving for Rio at the end of spring break and since someone always gets sick because of the allergies at that time of year, we thought we shouldn’t risk it. We hung out with the Couringtons at their new house one night, celebrated Chris’s birthday, went and saw the Lego Batman movie and Chris worked half days and worked on extending our fence that whole week. Our neighbor has been asking if we would mind extending it and we were good with that because that would put our pool equipment in the backyard. Plus, a storm in February had left that portion leaning and the gate would hardly close, so we needed to repair it anyway. Robert was a good helper.

IMAG0421

IMAG0424

I don’t think I took on any projects while he was in Rio. Maybe because he was only gone a few days, but also, I might have been in trouble if I had added another unfinished project to the pile. :) Chris’ trips were pretty short, but he managed to miss math/science night, the glow run and Clara’s last school choir performance, which was at the end of March.

IMAG0403

Once Chris got back, we got the pool cleaned up and the kids had their inaugural swim.

IMAG0441

That last week was STAAR testing for Clara. Robert ended up getting sick that week. After her first test on Tuesday, they swam after school. Robert was complaining a little and acting a little sick and I wondered if he was coming down with something. He woke Wednesday morning and said he didn’t feel very good, but he was showing no symptoms. He was running around laughing and playing so I thought he just didn’t want to go since it’s pretty miserable during STAAR for the entire school. Felt pretty awful when he got off the bus and looked miserable. Took his temperature and he was running a fever. This boy has been to the nurses office too many times to count but when he’s justifiably sick? Nope. Just suffered through the day without telling anyone. :( I emailed his teacher and she felt bad too. She said he was more quiet than usual but didn’t suspect that he was sick either.

He really didn’t have many symptoms except for the fever. It wasn’t even that high and he wasn’t miserable, so I didn’t even treat it. He eventually developed a cough, so he did get some meds for that at night when he had coughing fits. I finally took him in to the CVS clinic on Friday morning. Mind you, this was less than 48 hours after taking his temp after school on Wednesday. The pa gave me a really hard time and couldn’t believe I didn’t treat the fever that went that long. I told her I only treat them when they’re feeling miserable and can’t rest. Otherwise, I let them do their job. She eased up a bit when I said I had given him cough meds. I guess she thought I was a crunchy mama who refused to medicate? I don’t know. Turns out he had an ear infection in one ear. He hadn’t had any pain, but he winced when she shoved it so deep in his ear and she just kept moving it around, pulling on his ear. I just about stopped her because it was obviously hurting him. I haven’t seen anyone be so rough with an ear check. She said it was ruptured and I’m pretty sure she did it. She asked him if it hurt and he said yes. I asked him later and he said it didn’t start hurting until she shoved the otoscope in his ear. :( I prefer to give people the benefit of the doubt, but I’m not entirely convinced that wasn’t done to teach me a parenting lesson.

Moving Right Along– February

RDR has a fundraiser each year that they call the Glow Run and the kids make posters to hang all over the school to promote it. Lauren came over one afternoon to help finish one they were working on. I was in the hallway one morning right after they hung it and overheard some kids saying it was the best one. The glitter put it over the top. That was my idea 😉 I did have to stop them from glittering the entire thing though.

IMAG0190

I never posted it, but Clara had one of her pieces of writing featured in the school’s writing gallery back in the fall. I can’t even remember what it was about. I’m assuming an owl was written in there somewhere. I know, I’m terrible. Parents of the winners come up a few minutes before school starts to see them receive their award from their teacher in the hallway in front of the gallery. The teachers tell a little bit about why their piece was selected from the entire grade and the kids read their work for everyone.

Just like what happened with the POD awards, Robert was devastated that he didn’t win the writing gallery award. He was angry and couldn’t understand why he didn’t win. The 1st grader who won was in his kinder class last year and I think that stung a bit since he knew her. The girl’s handwriting was impeccable and her drawings that accompanied the writing were very detailed and colored in nicely. I explained to Robert that he hates writing. I have to stay on him to come up with a few sentences of writing homework he has each week and he rushes through it without even thinking, doing the bare minimum. He forgets punctuation and capitalization and doesn’t understand why he needs to correct his “Ss” when he writes them backwards. He hates drawing pictures to go with his writing and his handwriting is atrocious. There is no way that he deserved that award more than her and I told him that. I said he would have to step up his writing game if he wanted to win that award. I saw this look in his eyes and I thought to myself, “By golly, he’s going to get that award next time.” I can’t explain it, but I was sure of it.

1490705250694

1490705250867

So February rolls around, and would you look at who won the writing gallery award for 1st grade. :) He is unbelievable. When his teacher called to tell me, I couldn’t help but shake my head and laugh. Of course he won it. To be fair though, the first grade assignment this time didn’t require too much in the way of writing. It was an acrostic of his name. R-Responsible, O-Organized, B-Brave, E-Energetic, R-Relaxed, T-Trusting. I think Obstinate, Bullheaded and Tenacious would have worked as well.

IMAG0193

IMAG0194

I heard him telling Clara what his self-portrait looked like that he did in art class, so one day when I was walking through the halls I spied this magnificent piece of art and knew it was Robert’s.  :)

IMAG0235

He lost his 2nd tooth some time in February I guess. The pic was on my phone. Don’t remember it at all. Just know I didn’t throw this one away. Oh wait, I remember now! I heard him get up the next morning to go to the bathroom and panicked because I had fallen down on the job. I ran to find some cash, ran upstairs and threw it under his pillow, hoping he hadn’t looked yet, and then high-tailed it back downstairs. Fun times. He had written a note asking the tooth fairy if he could keep his tooth and get some cash, so I didn’t have to go searching for it.

He figured out the Santa thing right before Christmas, so I had assumed the gig was up with the toothfairy too, but he hadn’t mentioned anything. And then, right before bed he was talking about the toothfairy and I saw a lightbulb go off. He asked if I was the toothfairy. I don’t remember how, but I evaded the question or acted like I didn’t hear him or something. He didn’t ask again, so I think he decided that maybe he didn’t need to know. I was good with that.

IMAG0260

I was in the workroom on Valentine’s Day when I heard a sing-a-gram being delivered to staff in the conference room next door, so I snapped a quick picture of Clara with her choir friends. They have so much fun doing this. I saw them catch the asst. principal in the hallway and stop her to sing “Skidamarink” and then they ran off to deliver the rest.

IMAG0263

This whole year has been rough for Clara and her allergies. Some days she has been absolutely miserable. I ended up leaving Benadryl in the nurses office and she would call me and ask if I’d like her to take it. That was part of the reason for her struggles in class this semester. More than once she brought home a paper or test that she got a failing grade on and every time she said it was because she had a bad headache or was an itchy, sneezing, plugged up mess. She would leave the house just fine most days and by 9:00 was miserable. I started to think it was something in her classroom. Especially when she looked like this. She went to the nurses office before 9:00. I was at the school, so she called me in to take a look. Her eye did not look like this when she left the house an hour before. I was crazy. It doesn’t even look like her. I brought her home early one day and Chris took meds up one day when the nurse couldn’t reach me. This is when I filled out the forms to leave the Benadryl. Sometimes it helped, other times didn’t do a thing.

IMAG0197

IMAG0199

Around this time, I ordered allergy drops specifically formulated for Texas trees, weeds and grasses that go under the tongue. It helped almost immediately. Only problem is it wears off after a few hours. For a week or so when she was dealing with this eye stuff and major nasal congestion and sinus pressure, I started giving her allergy eye drops and a decongestant before school and then checking in on her and giving her another dose when she went to lunch. When the drops came in the mail, I gave her just a couple for her first dose to make sure she didn’t have a reaction. The next morning, I gave her a few drops along with the decongestant. I went up to the school at lunch time to drop of Puffs Plus and a small tube of eucerin for her nose because it had gotten so chapped it was about to bleed. I kid you not, I walked in to the cafeteria, she ran over smiling and said she didn’t need the medicine or kleenex! No runny nose, no rings under her eyes, nothing! Her eyes and face looked clearer and happier than they had in weeks. I was amazed. I told her it was the drops. She refused to believe it at first and fought me on it because she hates the taste. In the end though, feeling human again won out, so she grudgingly took them each morning for the next couple of months. We had also removed dairy from her diet a few weeks before this to see if maybe that was the culprit. She was waking with stomach aches every single morning and wasn’t eating breakfast, but she would feel better by about 9:00. After some reading, it sounded like it might be stress related, so I thought it might have been because of STAAR testing or something else. She assured me that she wasn’t feeling stressed out about anything. Now that I think about it though, it may have been. I just realized she’s been eating better these last few weeks since STAAR testing is over. Hmmm, I’ll need to mull that over a bit.

Moving right along. Chris went to Calgary for a few days at the end of February and I went and got myself in trouble again and had a nice surprise for Chris when he returned. This time I peeled off the horrid wallpaper in my powder room that has been mocking me every time I’ve entered these past two years. Seriously, I’m like a toddler. Chris can’t turn his back on me for one second. He was only gone for three days, so I didn’t even attempt to finish it up. He couldn’t be mad at me because he was coming home on my birthday. :) I would show you an after, but it’s not done yet. Someday maybe.

IMAG0312

IMAG0313

IMAG0314

IMAG0323

And here’s a picture from Clara’s glow run. She stayed after school and put together the balloon arch you see in the background and helped with registering the runners before the race.

IMAG0331

I only got one picture of Robert and his friend Aldin at the starting line. Clara was off doing her thing, so I didn’t even see her until after it was over. It’s so nice that she’s old enough to not have to worry about her and to know that I can just go find her when it’s time to leave. Not quite there with this one, but he’s getting closer.

IMAG0333

School’s Out for Summer!!

This was yesterday at 12:40 and I’ve already threatened them with boarding school. Is it August yet?

IMAG0714

Well, this in new. More of that public school influence. :) I just googled it to make sure he wasn’t throwing up gang signs or something (I’m also so white) and here’s what it means according to Urban Dictionary–

The act of putting up the peace sign with both hands while simultaneously crossing both arms. Also used to signal that you are leaving the premises.
1. My closest bromigo and I wanted a rad picture together, so we decided to throw up the double dukes.

2. I had to dip from the party, so I chucked up the double dukes and left.

I guess I can be ok with that. :)

IMAG0717

And this is the state of my front rooms after party and school desk-clean out.

IMAG0718

Robert Wraps Up 1st

At a campus meeting sometime this year, I expressed my frustration with the end of year “Celebrations of Learning”. I explained how pointless I think they are and what a waste of time I believe them to be to sit there for an hour and half to just have the kids walk across the stage and receive an envelope with their name on it. The gym is unusable for almost two weeks as it’s set up to accommodate 8 different assemblies and the admin and specials teachers are pulled from their normal duties into each assembly as well. I said it a nicely. I think. :) And since I’m usually one of the only parents to come to any parent/school meeting, I’m listened to quite often. They beg for parent feedback, so I give it to them. Myself and another mom got kinder homework to be optional last year when we argued that five year old boys don’t need more sit down work to do when they get home from school. They added a second recess for K and 1st this year after I expressed concern about how little free play time they have, and even the 5th graders started going out to the playground first thing in the morning before they went to specials. The teachers know they need more activity, but it takes parents standing up a lot of times to get things like that changed.

And this year, celebrations of learning for the younger grades were held in their classrooms. Woohoo! I’m sure some parents hated it, but I much preferred a shorter, more intimate setting to a long drawn out ordeal in the gym. Robert’s teacher gave out personalized awards to each of the kids. She read the name of the award and had the kids guess who might be the winner before she announced it. Robert received the Worm Award for always having his nose in a good book and the Owl Award for always sharing tidbits of knowledge with his friends. (He gets that from his grandpa) 😉 The kids got a cupcake and watched a slideshow the teacher had prepared. They loved getting to look back at their year. They sang a song for us and we watched them dance to a couple of Go Noodle songs on the smart board. Go Noodle is what they do for indoor recess and “brain breaks” during the day to get the blood pumping. Robert was really shy and wouldn’t dance at first. He kept looking back at me and smiling but the music must’ve gotten to him, because he busted out some moves that I’ve never seen before! It was hilarious and I was able to get some of it on video. He is so very white.

IMAG0688

Robert had a great 1st grade year. He loved his teacher, had lots of friends, learned a lot about dealing with difficult people (ahem) and showing empathy, and his reading and curiosity has just continued to skyrocket. A diverse Title I public school classroom is chock full of real world learning opportunities, let me tell you. :) I’ll be honest, I’m frustrated at times with the environment and think a more affluent school would be a nice break, but I also believe it’s so good for them and there are wonderful teachers and staff here. There are also a lot of benefits that come with Title I funding that all of the students benefit from. We’ll continue to re-evaluate each year. If we ever feel it’s gotten too bad, we’ll be looking at alternatives, but for now, we’re happy, I’m involved, and the kids feel secure. My plan is to continue to be involved and to effect change where I can to help make it a more positive environment.

2nd grade, here we come!

P.O.D. Drama

Robert’s teacher explained to the class about the POD awards earlier in the school year in preparation for their first POD awards assembly.  POD stands for Practicing Outstanding Determination and is awarded to one student in each class at the end of each grading period. A pod is a group of young alligators in case you’re wondering why on Earth it’s called that :) All of the kids in grades 1-5 come to the gym for the assembly in two different groups of either 2 or 3 grades.

It’s kind of a big deal. The kids are surprised and they get to hear their teacher say really nice things about them in front of their peers and parents. Robert was so excited for his first POD awards. His teacher talked to the class about disappointment, being happy for our friends and to remember that only one person would be receiving it but there would be lots more chances to earn it in the years to come. I reiterated all of those things, especially when I got the call from Clara’s teacher that she would be getting it but I hadn’t heard from Robert’s.

The morning came and when I went to wake Robert, who is not normally very chipper in the morning, he shot out of bed with a huge smile and said, “Today’s the day!” Uh-oh. I asked what was special about the day and he said it was the POD awards. I reminded him about our conversations and he said, “I know, I’ll be happy if one of my friends gets it.” I asked him if he thought he might get it and he smiled shyly and said “maybe”. I could tell he thought he had it in the bag and I know how badly he handles disappointment. He’s so hard on himself. If he’s not perfect or the best at everything he does, in his mind he’s stupid and a bad person. (We’re working on it.)

So I debated in my mind for about three seconds before I told him that he wouldn’t be getting it. He was heartbroken and it broke my heart to see him like that. There were lots of tears. I know he needs to learn to deal with disappointment, so I appreciate these kinds of situations that allow him to work through those feelings. I didn’t want him to be going through it at school without me there to help him process it though. I told him that I wouldn’t tell him any other time and that if he asked in the future, I would just say “I don’t know.” I also decided not to inform him that his sister would be getting it that day :)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Grandma was in attendance because that was the morning she was coming to pick Clara up for their roadtrip to San Antonio. She just got to town a little early to surprise Clara. And that meant we could prolong telling Robert because Clara and her award would be long gone when he got home from school. Win-win!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

 

The second POD awards came around right before the holiday break and look who is the now a proud POD member :)

 

 

 

Clara was so funny. Robert hadn’t even mentioned the awards and I set out a bit nicer shirt for him to wear hoping it wouldn’t raise suspicions. I had also been combing his hair all week which is unusual. I’m an awesome mom. Couldn’t let him receive an award and have his picture taken for the wall with bed head :) He was eating breakfast as I saw Clara come downstairs in her school spirit shirt. I shooed her back upstairs and told her to change so I could get Robert to school in his nice shirt and told her why. She was so excited. A minute later, she waltzed downstairs with a new shirt and her award dangling from her neck. (Each assembly thereafter, the kids get to wear their award if they want.) I caught her and told her to put it in her backpack until she got to school. As she sat eating her breakfast, I looked over and she was smiling down sweetly at her unsuspecting brother. It was really cute, but I was just like, “Dude! Play it cool!” Ha! Normally they’re fighting like cats and dogs in the morning. Then I ran into her teacher before the awards and Clara had told her he was getting it. During the assembly, I could see her talking to her friends and pointing him out and clapping a little extra when he got it. She was so proud of him :)

He was obviously proud of himself and we got some pretty cute smiles when he spied us sitting among all the parents. But then he got home and told us he didn’t want it anymore :( He said that a boy in his class, who has been causing him a bit of trouble lately I might add, cried and cried because he didn’t win it. This boy has acted pretty terribly toward Robert and others and Robert has made me so proud by forgiving him and remaining his friend. I’m pretty sure there is some jealousy involved since Robert does well in school and being “good” just comes naturally for him. I just don’t think things are as easy for the other boy and he is continually in trouble. This boy has hit and tripped Robert, among other things, and yet my child still felt bad that his good fortune caused sadness for someone else. I’m tearing up as I type this. I am so lucky to have such compassionate kids. Both of them have dealt with meanness directed toward them this school year and both have taken the high road. They really seem to grasp the concept that these classmates are struggling. They can see them struggling both academically and behaviorally and I’ve reminded them that that’s just what they can see. We have no idea what their homes and families are like and so we need to have compassion for them. I try to help them understand some of the issues of poverty, divorce and abuse that many of their friends may be dealing with and how that might affect how a person behaves, but it’s hard for a kid who is safe, fed and loved to grasp that not everyone feels the same way. It has certainly opened up plenty of conversations about what we believe and how as Christians we are to do all things in love.

Chris had a long conversation with him, and I think he’s decided to proudly accept his distinguished award.

Robert’s 7th Birthday

Robert had a race car birthday party here at the house this afternoon to ring in his seventh year. He invited a few of his classmates and one boy who rides his bus, so four of the six boys at his party I met for the first time today. Two of the moms I met a few weeks ago and they stayed for the party, so I was able to get to know them better. Elijah was in Robert’s class last year and is in a different school now and Ethan is in Kinder and rides the bus with the kids.

img_7020

Lauren and Emily are Ethan’s big sisters, so they brought him over and hung out with Clara and helped out a bit with the party.

 

img_7022

The party was very informal and my plan was to just let them race with all of Robert’s different tracks. We pulled the Mario Kart slot car track out of the closet earlier in the week and one of the controllers was broken. Chris worked all week cutting and soldering and was finally able to get it fixed.

img_7026

img_7027

Um, yeah, lots of sugared up 6 and 7 year old boys running around my house in a blur.

img_7028

Looks like the kindergartners didn’t make it into many pictures. Ali was very shy and enjoyed playing upstairs away from these crazies. Thankfully he and Ethan are in the same class, so I think that probably helped. All of the boys were very polite and they all got along very well. Elijah found Chris’ Skipper hat and wore it around for a while.

 

img_7032

img_7041

img_7042

img_7043

img_7046

img_7047

img_7050

img_7051

img_7054

img_7056

img_7058

img_7062

img_7063

Ali had to leave a few minutes early, so I didn’t get him in the group shot. And Javier doesn’t like smiling for pictures, it seems :)

img_7064

 

 

img_7068

img_7071

img_7075

I forgot to get a picture of the whole dining room decorated before the party so I snapped a quick one before clean up.

img_7076

As the party was ending and guests were starting to leave, we got a special delivery at the door. Chris snuck it to the garage and put it together. It’s a little big for him, but I think he likes it.

img_7077

 

Ralph S. Mouse Pumpkin

We recently finished reading The Mouse and the Motorcycle, so Robert decided to make Ralph for the school’s Storybook Pumpkin Patch. (He’s sporting a ping pong helmet with a rubberband strap in case you’re not familiar with the daredevil mouse named Ralph.)

imag00451

I took Robert to school the morning he was turning Ralph in so that he wouldn’t get torn up on the bus ride to school. Turns out cars aren’t too safe for a mouse either. Ralph was sitting on the seat next to Robert and took a spill when I rounded the corner, breaking off his nose. Robert seemed to take it in stride, especially after I told him I’d glue it back on when we got to school. He just laughed and said that Ralph must have leprosy :)
imag0041-copy1