May

May tends to always be busy, and that was especially true for Clara. The first weekend in May was the RDR finisher’s race. It involved all of the schools in the district who participated and was held at the football stadium. The kids ran their last 1.2 miles to earn their finishers medals. The kids started in waves and made the first lap on the track and then they had a course marked off around the stadium and back in where the finish line was. The kid who crossed the finish line first was in the third wave! You could tell who the runners and “non-runners” were. Clara wasn’t too concerned with her finishing time. She just wanted to stay by her friend Kaneeze :) They pulled some kids aside and asked them a few questions on the loud speaker. The first dozen or so they interviewed said their favorite part was the running. By the midway mark, most of them said being with friends or reading was the best part of Read Deed Run. Ha!

This was the start of the race. Clara is on the inside of the track by her friend, watching what’s happening on the field, not even looking ahead.

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After this weekend was when I came down with some kind of weird stomach bug. I couldn’t stand up without being dizzy and nauseous for about five days and didn’t leave the house that entire time. There was one benefit to my sick time. The science lab teacher had sent me home with some extra caterpillars and enclosure she had left over from her classes. She’s so sweet and knows how much my kids love that kind of stuff. Different grades this year raised butterflies, chicks, frogs, hermit crabs and praying mantis. Robert got to witness his classes chicks as they were hatching. As for our butterflies, they started emerging from their chrysalises while I was couch-bound, so I moved the enclosure right by me and was able to catch three of the four as they emerged. I called the kids over and they saw a couple of them and we got it on video even. It happens fast. Within a few seconds, it’s cracked open and they have their  wings unfurled. It looks like a crime scene once they’re out.

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Around the same time I got sick, Dan and Linda both came down with something different. I got better and got busy on my party planning and preparing for a visit with them and Tim the following weekend. Clara was performing with a district-wide honor choir and they were excited to come see her. Dan and Linda were just getting over their illness when Tim arrived and then he came down with it and spent his entire trip sick. All week we spent waiting and watching to see if their trip here was going to happen. Tim was starting to feel a little better, but in the end they decided not to risk coming and possibly exposing us and traveling would have been pretty taxing on him after being so sick. We were all pretty disappointed :(

The choir was made up of 4th and 5th grade choir students from around the district (3-4 per school) who auditioned earlier in the year. Clara, Phi and Jazlynn represented their school. They practiced at home and the three also practiced together at school quite a bit. Clara attended two evening practices with half of the choir in the spring. This day in May was a culmination of all of their practice and the first time the entire choir was together. They attended a full day choral workshop with a guest conductor from out of state. The day included lots and lots of singing and fun. Some high school choir members performed for them and talked about what it’s like to be in choir in high school and their lunchtime entertainment was provided by a local high school jazz band.

At the end of the day, they performed for all of the parents. I was blown away! They sounded absolutely incredible even after a full day of singing. The guest conductor leads the Birmingham Boys Choir and he was amazing. He spent a lot of time speaking with the kids about character, making good choices and the importance of balance in life. I’m so glad Clara got to be a part of this amazing experience. She’s on the top row, first person on the left.

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The next week, Clara got to go on her RDR end of year field trip to Main Event for a full day of fun. The next day was not so fun. She got two more teeth pulled at the dentist office. At an ortho appointment earlier in the year, the orthodontist didn’t like the way her permanent lower canines were looking in the x-ray. He compared them to an earlier x-ray and it was obvious they had started going astray. They were no longer coming straight up, dissolving the root and pushing out the baby canines. Instead, they were coming up between her baby canines and the teeth next to them. The roots were soooo long! They hadn’t dissolved at all. A day or two of Tylenol and soft food and she was good to go! This should be the last pulling required. I said that last time though, so we shall see. She’s now got three permanent upper teeth she’s waiting on and now these two lowers. Her upper canine that was pulled over 2.5 years ago is still nowhere in sight, but the other canine that was pulled when she had her ankylosed tooth extracted 1.5 years ago has just started peeking through. Yay! This is the first permanent tooth (that had it’s corresponding baby tooth pulled) that’s made an appearance on it’s own, so that’s a relief.

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Clara got an invite to attend a fancy masquerade birthday party for her old friend Brielle which meant she finally had an occasion to wear her masquerade mask that Chris brought back from Rome several years back. I especially like the look in the second pic.

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I wanted to do something for our teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week. Since we were basically without a PTA last year, I asked a few other moms that volunteer if they’d like to help me write chalk messages to the teachers and I ended up having a couple moms and kids come join me and the kids. One was especially good at chalk art. You couldn’t quite tell if mine were done by an adult or kid.

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Robert wrote this next message. It’s to the science lab teacher, whose name is misspelled. It says “Your part of our life” at the top. He drew the life cycle of a butterfly and that is a caterpillar at the bottom, not his teacher :)

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The kids begged to go up early to school the next morning so they could see their teacher’s reactions. A lot of teachers were already there when we got there, but some were still coming in. The kids were bubbling over with excitement and some of the teachers thought it was cool and were reading the messages, taking pictures of it and telling the kids thank you. I was surprised to see a number of staff just quickly walk by, some without even glancing down :( I get it. It’s chalk. Not that big of a deal, but I felt bad for the kids.

I also wanted to decorate the bulletin board for teacher appreciation week. The school’s theme last year was “Reach for the stars”, so I went with a space related board. I had Clara design the alien and I asked both kids if they’d like to make some planets for me. Clara brought me two planets- a turquoise and pink polka dot Saturn with chevron ring and “Planet X” which was also brightly colored and covered with ice cream and sprinkles. Robert said he would rather make the Kuiper Belt. My kids rock. After I googled “Kuiper Belt”, I suggested maybe he could make the Earth or the Sun. He wasn’t too happy, but he eventually relented.

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And because I had a few things on my plate those last couple of weeks of school, I just did a little tweaking and voila! End of year countdown bulletin board!

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May also included Chris chaperoning the 1st grade field trip to the zoo, teacher appreciation breakfast and lunch, workers doing ceiling, kitchen and powder room prepping, patching and painting, 5th grade scavenger hunt at the junior high, orchestra meeting, volunteer breakfast and end of year events I already blogged about. Whew!

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.

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

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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.

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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?

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We went to Temple for Easter weekend.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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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. :)

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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!

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.  :)

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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School’s Out for Summer!!

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

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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. :)

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

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5th Grade End of Year Party

A couple of months back, 5th graders came home with flyers asking for parent volunteers to be on a planning committee for the kids’ end of year party. Fifth grade is the only grade that gets such a party, so the kids really look forward to it. About 10 people said they’d be on the committee. Beginning of May rolls around (less than a month before the party) and we have our first meeting. I was the only parent to show up. We don’t have a functioning PTA this year and staff is too swamped with end of year stuff to put on a big party. Sooooooo, unless we wanted to scrap the party and just have ice cream in their classrooms, I had to take it over. It was me, an asst. principal and two 5th grade teachers at the meeting. The 5th grade student council had decided on what they’d like to do, so we went over a few ideas for the party.

I sent out an email to everyone informing them that I was the only one to show and so I would coordinate. I made it very clear that I didn’t actually want the job, am terrible at planning, had never planned a party in my life and would gladly hand it over to any interested party :) No one took me up on my offer. A few were apologetic and asked if we could meet again, so we set a date a week later because having a closed campus due to STAAR testing got in the way. I was the only one who knew what was going on and then I went and got sick and couldn’t attend. Grrrrr. So I sent them my notes and the few that showed came up with other ideas. It was so frustrating trying to get on the same page. I begged for feedback or for someone to take on a portion of the party, but everyone just kept saying that they’d “help”. Needless to say, these last few weeks have been quite frustrating for me. In the end, only about 3 or 4 people helped with any of the planning or prep involved. The rest never even replied back to me. One mom shared plenty of criticism with me and others for how badly this party was being organized and how horrible the school is. Some were under the impression that it was a dance and weren’t happy that we didn’t hire a DJ. Even when told that the party ideas came from the kids themselves, this mom was still was upset. Apparently the 8th grade has a fantastic PTA that goes all out for their dance. Ok fine, but why should we force a dance on 11 year olds that said they don’t want a dance? Mind boggling.

Ok, rant over (mostly). The kids decided they wanted a glow in the dark themed party. They wanted to play games, including ping pong and Just Dance on the Wii. They wanted blacklights, fog machines and disco balls and wanted to paint t-shirts for the party with glow in the dark paint. We added glow in the dark bowling, face painting, a photo booth, posters with the class pictures to have signed by classmates, Twister and sno cones, popcorn and cupcakes.

No one wanted to take on decorations, so we just bought a few glow in the dark stars and balloons and I made this poster the night before. The stage was supposed to be completely dark for glow bowling and we had borrowed a couple of blacklights so they could come on stage and hang out for a bit and see themselves glowing. I put two volunteers up there to keep the kids under control and to only let a handful up at a time. Well, a few minutes into the party, I saw the lights come on and turns out some kids were throwing the softball too hard for bowling. They’d hit the volunteer twice and then hit a blacklight and broke it. I had borrowed it from a teacher and feel terrible. So what I thought would be a highlight of the party for the kids, being able to hangout under the blacklights, got axed :(
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We had lots of prizes to be given away as drawings and the kids hovered around the prize table like vultures. I had to guard it like a hawk and send them away the whole time. In hindsight, I should have had someone stationed there, because I couldn’t check on everyone during the party without grabbing an adult to stand guard for a minute. I incorrectly assumed that my other party planning volunteers could figure out if there was a problem and fix it. I was totally overwhelmed at that point, so I was counting on everyone to do their part. I had lots of parent volunteers but no body takes any initiative. They only want to be told exactly what to do. There were even parents who said they were unable to volunteer but would be at the party, but they couldn’t be bothered to pitch in when there was a problem. I probably could have prevented the blacklight fiasco if I had seen they were getting rowdy. Chris took the pictures for the photo booth. Halfway through the party, some kids found the table with photo booth props 20 ft. away and asked if they could move it closer. My few set-up volunteers hadn’t moved the table near the backdrop and Chris didn’t even know they existed. I’m like, “Come on people! Work with me!” Then my class picture volunteer forgot to tell the kids to sign the posters for their teachers and to bring their posters back when they were done so they didn’t get messed up, so the kids carried them around the whole time and I saw them laying around, getting stepped on. Rant #2 over.

I didn’t get many pictures (see above rant) and because it was so dark in the gym. Here is Clara and Ivonne playing the game where you see who can get the most cotton balls from a bowl on your head and into the bowl on your lap with a spoon in 30 seconds.

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Chris’ friend Scott let us borrow his party disco light. It was huge and sat on top of a speaker. We just plugged in a laptop and played kids bop songs. The kids started requesting songs from the asst. principal, so she ended up being my impromptu dj. They wanted a few line dances and had lots of fun doing that as a group. One of the teachers even joined in a couple of the dances.

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Clara and Kaneeze plopped down for a rest in front of the prize table, so I was able to snap a quick pic.

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The person who said they’d decorate for the photo booth was unable to, so about 15 minutes before party time, people were running to the workroom and grabbing paper to slap over the window. Sigh. Oh well. I couldn’t do every single thing and my party volunteers were showing up and asking where to go and what to do, so I just had to lower my expectations a bit and go with the flow.

Here’s before and after finding the photo booth props. Ha!

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And having a bit of fun with her blinking ring.

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Chris took this pic of the party light across the gym. That thing filled up the entire gym ceiling. It was so cool and I’m glad we were able to borrow it and even more glad that we didn’t break it :)

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In the end, despite the hiccups and headaches, I’m glad I took it on. I do NOT want to be in charge of something that large again any time soon though! Ha! It felt completely out of control, but I have gotten countless compliments on how well organized it was, how age appropriate the activities were, and how much fun the kids had. The teachers and staff who came in told me it was the best party they’ve had at least in the years they had been there. Even people who didn’t come in to the gym were telling me they heard how great it was and kids were thanking me in the hallways :) I aim to please.

Saying Goodbye to Elementary

It’s been so long since I’ve blogged that I forgot my username. We’re just going to pretend I haven’t slacked off for half the year.

The kids’ last day of school was today. It’s been a busy, busy couple of weeks around here as the school year has been wrapping up. Anyone that’s read my blog for any length of time knows how much I’ve loathed the end of year celebrations at the kids’ school because no one actually receives an award and it’s such a waste of time. Well, I’m happy to report that fifth graders get an actual, real life awards assembly. I can get behind an end-of-elementary awards assembly. The 5th grade pep squad members performed and the choir came onstage to lead the entire grade in a couple of songs. They also had a performance by the “Cha Cha Roaches” (an elite group of 5 boys in the Orff ensemble that basically put together (and obviously named) their own group, wrote their own music and bugged the crud out of the music teacher all year long by never leaving her room. Ha!) They’ve been featured all spring at various events. The principal is so proper and old fashioned though, that she could never bring herself to introduce them as the “Cha Cha roaches”. A group of four girls wanted in on the attention and convinced the assistant principal to let them sing a quartet as well.

For most of the awards, the kids’ names were called and they just stood at their seat and faced the parents to be recognized. The one award that the kids came up front to receive was the Presidential Award. Six of them received it this year, including Clara. I’m so proud of how hard she works. The rigor definitely ramped up this year as the state has pushed standards down to lower grade levels and she struggled here and there. I’m a wee bit nervous about her keeping up in junior high. She will be in Pre-AP reading, language and math. Pre-AP math does work above grade level so that the kids can take algebra in 8th grade. Good thing she has a live-in math tutor :) The other two subjects cover the same grade level standards as the regular classes, just different reading requirements, instruction and assignments I think. She’ll have no problem keeping up with required reading. She decided against Pre-AP science and social studies, so hopefully that will keep her from burning out. Sorry, got off topic there :)

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Two students from each class were awarded best girl and boy student in art, music and PE. I guess the teachers had a tough time choosing in a few classes, so an extra student or two was named a few times. Clara got the music and art one for her class. I was a bit surprised she got the art one but not at all surprised she didn’t get it for PE :) She got hit in the face with balls and went to the nurses’ office probably a dozen times or more this year, once by the coach during dodge ball. Hey, we all have our strengths. She also had perfect attendance, all S’s for behavior and all As this year. That one surprised me because she brought home a couple of Bs on her report cards this year. Maybe they average the grades for the year? She was also recognized for being in choir, being a Leader in the Library and being one of three students from their school that were in the district-wide elementary honor choir. They still did the call-every-students’-name-to-walk-across-the-stage thing, but I didn’t mind so much this time. It just takes for-ever and people start getting restless and start talking by the fourth or fifth class when their student’s already gone.

At the end, the choir kids came onstage to lead everyone in singing “Possibilities”. Clara was at a microphone front and center with her friends Ivonne and Ivette. They were doing hand movements and I looked around and saw that they were the only ones doing them. I thought they had just made them up and was a little embarrassed that Clara was just doing her own thang up there. I asked her afterwards and she said everyone was supposed to do them. Ha! I love that they had absolutely no qualms about being the only ones. They were smiling at each other, enjoying every minute. After that song, they sang their school song, complete with hand movements. (Everyone joined in on that one.) They were all looking around at all of their friends, smiles plastered across their faces. You guys know me. I’m not normally a sentimental person, but that one hit me in the feels. I may have had a tear in my eye. Their last time to sing their school song together. Sigh.

We had a few minutes to take pictures after the assembly was over. The principal announced her retirement about a month ago after being in education for 45 years. Every time she’s mentioned her retirement in front of a group, she’s gotten choked up. Her final awards assembly was no different and she held back tears as she started the assembly. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know the assistant principal on the left, so I was sad to hear last week that she is moving to a different position in another school next year :( There’s going to be lots of changes around here next year.

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Here she is with Ivonne and Ivette. Don’t ask me which is which. They still dress alike and wear their hair the same. Clara says you can tell them apart because one has pink on the inside of her glasses and the other one doesn’t, like it’s that simple. I just call them “Ivonne or Ivette”.

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Here she is with her ELA teacher. She had tears streaming down her face at the end of the assembly, sad to see her students moving on. She is so sweet and has been wonderful. She has lived all over the world and brings so much passion into the classroom. Clara’s writing assignments would come home with long critiques about ways to improve her writing, but she also included a great deal of positive feedback. She’s convinced Clara that she should publish a book someday and the students have been excitedly working together on puppet shows the last couple of months, performing them for the younger grades. She really does try her best to work around all of the constraints that have been placed on her due to standardized testing.

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This is one of her best friends, Kaneeze. She’s from Pakistan and is very sweet and reserved. They became close last year when they were in class together.

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And this is Phi. He was in Clara’s class and was also in the honor choir. He’s a cutie and so is his mom. They’re Vietnamese and his mom is not very fluent in English, but she wanted to get a picture of them together. They look so awkward. I love it :)

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This is her homeroom/math and science teacher.

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Here she is with Lauren and their friend Emily. They made up half of the quartet that sang during the assembly. Clara and Lauren have become really good friends since her family lives right around the corner from us. But not for long. They’re moving :( I really want Clara to have strong friendships with kind, confident girls in junior high, and Lauren is a sweetheart, so I’m sad to see her go.

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It’s hard to believe I have a kid in junior high! I can already tell I’m going to be a mess at high school graduation here in a few years. How did this happen so quickly? Wasn’t the first day of kindergarten just yesterday? I want my babies back!

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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 :)

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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!

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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.

Eleven!

Well, almost. Officially on Thursday, but Clara had some friends over for her birthday this past weekend. She had an owl party, of course :) I found a cute little pinecone snowy owl craft online for the girls to make, but  I sorely underestimated the amount of time it would take a group of giggly tweens to complete their owls.  Everyone chatted and snacked while they made their owls. Some chatted a bit much. Clara’s looked a lot like a penguin by the time she was through with it.

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A couple of friends got there really late, so I had to rush them and the other slow pokes a bit. As they were starting to finish up, they played Beanboozled, the game where you spin and take a Jelly Belly jellybean and you don’t know if you got the good one or the nasty tasting one until you bite into it. Most of the girls had played it before. Robert went first. He thought he had lime at first but then ate it up and said, “nope, it was lawn clippings.” Later that night I noticed all the lime green ones were gone. Turns out Robert likes lawn clipping flavored jelly beans :)

They moved on to the photo booth and STILL there were a couple of girls who weren’t done with their owls. I had Clara take individual pictures with each of her friends and she insisted on switching out props each time.

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By this time there was less than 30 minutes left and we hadn’t done cake or presents. Chris had taken Robert to get a late lunch so I was scrambling to clean the glue, pinecone droppings and feathers off the table before I could bring out the cake. I cut myself some slack and decided not to make her cake this year. I love making their cakes and there are some really cute owl ones out there, but I had such a busy week last week that I just couldn’t add it to my to-do list. Instead, I took her to HEB and let her choose her cake. She chose chocolate with cookies and cream icing. And the girls got to build their own sundaes too.

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Clara had three church friends and three school friends plus Abby who is a year older at her party. All of the girls are so sweet and polite and are lovely friends. Junior high will be here before we know it, and I pray she continues to surround herself with kind, positive girls that can help each other stand strong rather than tear each other down.

I decided we needed to take a few pictures of us and our owl creations before I took all the decorations down.

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Two parties down, which means no party planning for me for another 2-3 years. Woohoo!

Meet the Teacher

The kids’ school grew so much in enrollment last year that every grade except 3rd added an extra teacher this year. It’s so nice to have their class size go down a bit. Between those 5 new teachers, about 5 who switched jobs to non-classroom positions still at the school and about 7 who left the school, there are lots of new faces in the hallways. Both kids got “new to us” teachers. This is Ms. C.

Robert has had a rough start to his school year. He seemed to settle in a bit in week three. He has a hard time with change and misses his kindergarten teacher and friends. They’ve added a second recess to the day for K and 1st students, which has me so excited! I really hope it helps the kids stay more focused.

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Clara’s getting a little too old for pictures with her teachers, so I spared her the embarrassment :) She has three this year and loves them all. Her homeroom/science/social studies teacher is a male and is very enthusiastic and energetic and was at our principal’s old school several years ago. I think it’s going to be a great year for Clara. She’s decided not to continue doing orff ensemble and pep squad but I’m sure she’ll want to replace them with something. She really wants to do dance class, but I’m not sure I want to pay for dance class. And I’m fairly certain she’s going to want to be on student council. She was made for student leadership :)

I really liked what I heard at Clara’s orientation last week. Science is about 50% hands on experiments along with keeping a science journal and they still have their trip to the science lab every other week. Math is still doing timed multiplication/division quizzes to keep those times tables fresh in their minds. Reading and writing will be going back to doing some spelling practice, cursive instruction, in class book clubs in small groups with aides reading three different books on varying reading levels, and they will be writing and performing puppet shows. It sounds very engaging. There seems to be a lot of new things they are trying and I love it!