Teachers

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 When I was younger I played school. My students where my stuffed animals and dolls, including my Cabbage Patch Kids. My teachers would give me left over worksheets at the end of the year and I would be entertained for the whole summer. My siblings were much younger then me so they could not be used as my students. My children are about 2 years apart, making the oldest and youngest about 4 years apart. A great combination to have a teacher and some students.

My son was called the dictator. His sisters hated that they had to play school with him. He would be fine for the first little bit and then WHAM the girls would giggle or not do what he instructed and he was the meanest teach that ever taught in the universe. He did provide lunch and did school photos as well. Eventually the girls learned to say NO when he asked them to play school. The rule at our house has always been if you start something you need to finish it.

The oldest girl, the one who is actually going to school to be a teacher now, was much kinder. However she gave harder work that her students struggled to do correctly. She also was able to get leftover papers from her teachers at the end of the school year and a few times got some retired library books, if I remember correctly.

Nobody played school when the youngest was the teacher. All she wanted to do was stuff about animals anyway. So when she played school she did so with her stuffed animals. I think she probably had the most fun. Her animals almost always listened to her and they didn’t talk back as much as real people did.

They all have grown and discovered other things about themselves. They have grown and become three entirely different people. They all are passionate about different things and they all love to tell others about what they love. I hope they each continue to share their loves with the world and educate others along the way. The best teachers are the ones who have the passion to share with others.

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Lies and Lessons

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I was given a reminder last night about why I am currently unattached to another human in an intimate relationship. My focus is currently on raising my final child through the remainder of her high school career. She hasn’t had much to do with her father in the last year, by her own choice. He hasn’t taken the time or effort to be part of life and when he does it is usually for his own benefit. He has neglected his parental duties, pays for nothing to support her and excludes her from his “other” family. Most of the time she finds out what is going on in his life through Facebook.

Last night he stopped by the house to drop off some stuff to her, late as usual. After a lovely argument, because I was going to now have to pay for what he failed to follow through with, she went to bed upset and disappointed. I went to bed mad and frustrated. First of all I really hate that he hurts her and there is nothing I can do about it. Second I wish he loved her half as much as I do. Third I wish with all that I am that he would just go AWAY! Really I do, he is that awful to her.

Lessons learned from this last encounter are that a liar is a liar and normally they do not change. A liar likes to look good in front of others and will change the words to make themselves look good regardless of the outcome. Honesty hurts but only for awhile. Honesty means you don’t have to remember the lie or lies and you can say what you mean and feel. If you are going to break my babies heart at least have the courtesy to be honest  with her and not pretend you care when you don’t. Thanks!

Jurassic Quest

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In 2014 Jurassic Quest was in town. I took my youngest daughter to share in the experience. She was 17 at the time. The plan was to spend the whole day. We only lasted about 2 hours. My little girl was tired from babysitting the night before. I was sad to cut or adventures short, how ever I enjoyed every minute we were there.

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This is the first thing we seen once we were inside.

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This is one of many exciting dinosaur attractions we seen on our Dinosaur Tour

We missed out on a lot because we only stayed the 2 hours. I really wanted to see the baby dinosaurs that did their own walking tour, but since we went on the larger tour first I missed out. There were tons of things for kids 12 and under to do. Face painting, dinosaur crafts, dino dig, bouncy houses, dinosaur rides and games. I also missed the larger dinosaurs walking tour. My hope is we will be able to go again at some point. My little one did feel bad for being so tired and we decided that even though we were missing out on a lot we would always remember our time at the Jurassic Quest. Especially with our cute souvenirs.

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This is Blueberry, my little Triceratops 🙂

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This is my daughter’s T-Rex, I have forgotten his name, oops.

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Here is a group shot of our little friends.

Happiness is a dinosaur expedition :)!

Emotional Chaos

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Having children causes emotional chaos. From the moment they start growing inside of you they create emotional chaos. The second you feel them that emotional chaos intensifies. Growing and growing and engulfing your entire being. You may not even notice this is happening.

The first time I experienced emotional chaos I was confused. I was young and inexperienced emotionally. I was a young first time mother. Married with a plan for my future and then I discovered I was pregnant. My hopes, my dreams and my plans changed in an instant. It became more than me. Suddenly I was a protector and provider. Like a lioness on the hunt for her young.

Loving small children is easy. They are sweet, kind and helpful. As they grow older they discover they like different things and they like to explore their boundaries. They enjoy testing the waters and finding their way. The more they grow the opportunities to enjoy the emotional roller coaster increase. By the time they reach their teenage years it is a good chance you have had some highs and lows.

Lies are my least favorite things. My daughters will tell you how much fun it is to be caught in a lie. I come close to falling off the deep end when I get lied to. Follow that up with my son deciding he wants to raise money for one non profit organization or another. Back to back highs and lows. I will admit most of the time my kids caused few highs and lows. There were times of course that the lows lasted way to long for my liking.

I look forward to the next rounds of emotional chaos that my adult children will be causing. Whatever that may be!

Death

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Death is something that happens all of the time. There is no hiding from it, no running and no bargaining. First you live and then you die. The end of anything can be seen as the death of everything. My children have seen death a lot more frequently than I would have liked. Depending on how you view things you may or may not agree on the importance of the death they have seen.

I love animals. All kinds, doesn’t matter if it is a mammal, amphibian or a reptile. Heck it could even be a bird. Growing up I was only allowed one cat for the longest time. Then we had some dogs and some other cats along the way. I felt deprived. Honestly I did. Guess who made up for that when she had children? Any guesses? Yep I sure did!! And I have absolutely NO regrets.

When me kids were younger we went to get a kitten. Just one for the three of them to share. Of course we came home with three. Those kittens soon grew into cats and on one of the visits to the vet one escaped and was never seen again. Then we had to move and find new homes for the other two cats. In about a year we tried for a different kind of pet. This time we did hamsters. Three fun little hamsters, little bundles of furry fun. I was not a fan of these guys. First of all they bite, second they are not very smart and third these guys did not use their hamster ball. I believe this was our first round with death and my children. One day someone was cleaning the cage and didn’t latch the cover correctly and one of the little escape artists got loose. We assume this one died. He was never found again. We know where he was a few times as we seen evidence of the chewed cords and small piles of chewed paper. Lucky for me hamsters do not live for ever. I am not even sure that my children noticed the other two were gone.

Flash forward a few more years and another set of cats. This time I can say the cats lived out happy lives and again the kids didn’t notice when they were gone. One disappeared, later found in a wood shed years later and the other was struck down by a school bus. Thankfully the neighbors seen what happened to our second cat and took care of him and let us know later. During this time there were some ferrets that the kids got to visit at their grandparents house. Sadly this was the first animal death that they probably remember. The brown ferret was not nice so they didn’t have a lot of interaction with it. Therefore they didn’t notice when it wasn’t there like they did the white ferret. The white ferret had an allergic reaction one day and come home from the vet in a box. There were tears and a funeral was planned.

Then came the third set of cats. Two orphaned babies whose mom died right after birth, my children did not know the mom cat. These little angels had to be bottle fed and cared for in every way. The kids were older and up to the challenge. These babies grew and then found a sister in my youngest daughter’s cat that she saved from her cousin. About three weeks later my oldest daughter was hanging out with her cat and her uncle went outside and her kitten tried to follow and the front door slammed into her. This was heartbreaking for my daughter and myself. There was nothing that could be done for the kitten and another funeral was planned.

My youngest daughter also faced a small animal tragedy when her rat passed away the day after Christmas. She loved this rat more than you can even imagine. Even more than she loves her cat that currently lives in the bathroom. She was between 6 and 7 and cried for days. She is 18 now and will still cry over her long lost rat, Ord.

All of these animal losses created conversations about heaven and hell and possible afterlives. They each have their own opinions now that they are older. Their own views on what they think happens after death. My views are different from theirs as well. At times those views and opinions clash into very loud family discussions. An outsider may think we need an intervention yet the reality is we just need space to communicate and share.

Four years and four months ago my children and I faced our biggest loss with death. My very young mother passed away after a month long stay in the hospital after a battle with many illnesses that had been plaguing her for over a year. Every treatment created a new set of problems health wise for her. We had to make a very hard family decision one I still wonder about sometimes in my darker hours of sadness. This death is the one that has had the most effect on their young lives and mine. Redefined who we are and who we want to be. Has turned their young minds and hearts toward their current beliefs. Gives them pause to make impactful decisions about their own lives.

My children now mark time by before and after the death of Nana. Even now, over four years later, the stars are not as bright, the water not as clear and the grass not as green. We keep on keeping on though. With each passing day we take the time to appreciate each other and work on making an impact in the world around us. Death is an end, but only for the person or thing that has died. Whether it is a person or animal that death has taken from us time keeps marching on and we need to find our rhythm again.

Coloring Books and Crayons

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Growing up my kids could never have enough coloring books and crayons. They each have had their own relationships with these items. I have also heard much debate over providing children with coloring pages and books and how they stunt their artistic abilities.

My son could not handle the complexity of the coloring book. From as young as 2 years old he would have a major melt down if he colored outside of the lines. For him it was safer to provide him with blank paper so he could draw. It did not matter if he scribbled all over the place with multiple colors as long as he did what he wanted and didn’t have the opportunity to make a mistake, like coloring outside of the lines. By the age of 3 he had a large white board that he could draw on. He used this board for hours of play time and even shared with his little sister. Today he is 21 and is interested in art, but still not huge on coloring books and crayons.

My oldest daughter loves to color. She has the most coloring books with a wide range of topics. Princesses, animals, Sesame Street and other popular movie coloring books. She does not like the coloring and activity books. These tend to have more activities than coloring. Whenever she is having trouble sleeping she colors, when she travels she brings a coloring book and crayons, and when she needs a break coloring helps her relax. She is 19 now and still loves to color, paint and is interested in photography as well. She, however, is not able to draw to save her life. Unless of course all that is needed is a stick person.

The baby of the family, my youngest daughter, has a somewhat different interest in coloring. She loves coloring as much as her sister but likes dinosaurs, jungle animals, dogs and dragons. Her completed pictures look like they passed through a rainbow versus her sister’s that are more true to reality. The youngest colors to avoid other activities like homework and housework. This young lady is preparing to go to college for business entrepreneur so she can own her own business doing landscape photography.

I was recently advised that the only coloring crayons worth buying are Crayola. If I wasn’t going to buy Crayola I shouldn’t buy anything at all. Apparently the other crayons out there are simply wax with some color in them and are not very effective for coloring. I have to admit that I was shocked when my girls told me this. I have been buying them the cheapest available crayons for years and not once did they complain or tell me how awful they were. Now I know and will NEVER make that mistake again.

As for the debate on whether allowing children to have a coloring book versus only providing blank space for them to explore their own artistic talents, I am on the fence. I am not sure what I believe as I have never given it much thought. I did what my children indicated they needed. My son didn’t function well with a coloring book yet the girls loved them. Perhaps each family needs to decide for themselves what will or will not work for them.

Books, Books, Books and More Books

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Books have always been a huge part of my life. I love escaping to another reality, even if it is for just a little while. I started a love for books with my children before they were a year old. This love has grown in them each and every day. Their love started the same and then changed in each one over time.

The start was simple little board books with pictures, texture points and reflective surfaces. Moving on to Dr Seus, The Bernstein Bears and other similar books. Then came the more challenging children books, the ones with tons more words and sometimes did more than tell a story but taught a concept as well. Next were chapter books and then bigger chapter books. I read to them a lot. It was a bed time ritual, one that I miss some times.

A list of some of our favorite books:

  • The Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • Books by Shel Silverstein
  • The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling

Their tastes in books have changed since those days and sometimes when I visit my son I see one of these old childhood books laying around his house. When I ask he assures me I am not missing a book of the book shelf that holds all of their childhood books. I look forward to sharing those same books with the next generation.