Yes, You Can Have Candy After You Brush Your Teeth!

School is back in session and the morning routine, or should I say struggle, is back in place.  Despite my husband’s wise advice of, “Well, you may just have to get them up earlier,” I have to remind him, I could start last night and I would still be pushing them out the door 5 minutes late. They are kids!  Two kids I love dearly of course.

So, I started thinking strategically last night, how can I simplify the process in the morning and get them out on time?  There really is no simplifying the process honestly…how hard is eating breakfast, getting dressed and brushing your teeth?  But I still needed a creative idea.  So this morning I told the children that the first one to get ready got a piece of candy.  They always love some competition. It worked beautifully!  They even had time to watch TV for 5 minutes.  Well, my daughter won and got 3 skittles.  Upon receiving them she asked, “Mommy, can I have the candy now even though I already brushed my teeth?”  My response….SURE!

Now, I probably will not be considered for Mom of the Year, but my morning battle disappeared and everyone was happy.  So was it really that bad of an idea?  I won’t ask their dentist!

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The little things in life…

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I have the joy of helping at my kids’ school once in a while; it is so nice to see what takes place during their day and how much they love it! And what a huge relief to see your children interacting with other children, happy and loving to learn. (On a light note, based on the “college fund” that we gave Primrose Schools in the early years of their lives, they better be the smartest, most social children at the school!)

Just last week there was a Mardi Gras wagon parade at the school (it was delayed due to the EXTREME winter weather Atlanta experienced that caused school cancellations the week before…yes “EXTREME” is sarcastic!). This parade was something that seemed so uneventful to the adults, but the children were so excited about this wagon parade all day, that the teachers had a hard time keeping them focused on school work. I look at these types of things and look at my kids every day and realize how much your perspective changes in adulthood. Why does it take so much to thrill us as adults? My children are always so excited about their next birthday, losing their next tooth…I am about to turn 40 and let me just say, I am not counting down the days because I am so excited…I am counting down the days I have left in my 30s wondering where the time has gone and wondering if we can slow things down.

I try my best every day to encourage their creative minds, pretend play, youthful thinking but sometimes it does require me to take a step back and correct myself. As grown-ups we often try to rush them along in our busy days and I remind myself, how unfair that is. Let them play school, color and make a mess on the kitchen table, paint, dress-up, make paper airplanes…let them be kids. And mostly importantly, learn something from them…slow down and enjoy life. The house doesn’t have to always be spotless. And who cares if dinner is not on the table at 6PM as planned?

Urgent! Grab Your Milk, Bread and Beer!

Oh my gosh!  There is snow headed to Atlanta!  Time to stock up on bread, milk and beer.  Especially the beer!  So, the expected accumulations are unknown at this time…it could be an inch it could be three.  And in the end, it will probably be none.  Everyone gets all excited then not a single flake falls.  But IF it snows, one inch shuts down our city for one day, three inches is at least 3 or 4 days.  This is pure entertainment for those people in Boston. And honestly, we even laugh at ourselves in Atlanta.  But Atlantans are like kids in a candy store when it comes to snow.  We always wish really hard for at least one snow a year because it gives us a couple free days at home.

Let’s not forget Snow Jam 2014.  Within about one hour Atlanta was in gridlock on the back roads and interstates.  There may have been an inch of snow on the ground at that point!  It took my husband eight hours to get home what should have been a 35 minute drive. Both of our cars have four wheel drive, but it was difficult to get around all the two wheel drive cars blocking the roads.  (I was able to utilize sidewalks and things to get around all the cars that were in the way.)  It was quite an adventure.

But the most amazing thing I learned from Snow Jam was the wonderful community we live in.  We had kids stuck at schools, families stuck in cars and people walking several miles home barefoot in the snow (just kidding about the barefoot…I just had to throw that in there). Those with four-wheelers were making trips back and forth to rescue people from the roads and schools all during the night.  Those without four-wheelers were placing gas containers on their front porches for them to use.  One guy was even picking up pizza orders at the pizza place for everyone.  Groceries, food, you name it…everyone was helping each other. In the end it really made us appreciate everyone around us and realize, that despite the craziness in life we can all come together when needed.  (That sounds kind of deep considering it was 1 maybe 2 inches of snow, doesn’t it?)  

My children sometimes wish we lived in a city with more snow, but I warn them, those cities have equipment to keep the city operating and it takes a lot of snow to cancel school up north.  The drama and excitement snow creates in the south is far more exciting!

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Heart of Gold

We live on a great street in a wonderful neighborhood located in the middle of suburbia.  Yes, even I make fun of suburbia, so go ahead!  But fortunately, it does provide my children with a safe street full of kids where they can play sports and hangout…of course the houses are on top of each other (but the good thing…less yard to mow).

Our street has about ten to fifteen kids that play outside on a regular basis.  Ages range a great deal, but for the most part everyone tries to include everyone.  When it comes to the boys on the street, my son is the youngest of the group, however, we have a couple older ones that do an excellent job watching out for him.  Unfortunately, none of them were present yesterday when six kids were playing basketball in our driveway.  Playing in our yard is always welcome, and it does often to seem to be the basketball goal of choice…not sure why.  Anyhow, it had started with three elementary school kids then two high school aged kids joined the game.  I was watching out the window to see if my son was getting the ball since the older kids joined the game.  Avery started playing recreational basketball this past season, but he still has less experience than all the other kids and often has to fight for the ball.  I understand this will improve over time, but of course a mother is always protective of her babies.  On that note, I try to avoid being that helicopter parent.  I called Avery to the door after a while of seeing him be left out and quietly told him to speak up and say he wants the ball too.  I doubt he said a word.  My Avery has a heart the size of Texas and he just wants to make sure everyone is happy.  For example, last night his sister had her cup of water taken away at bedtime because she was mad and kicked dad.  Avery took his cup of water to her when dad walked away.

Last night, while sitting on the sofa, I asked my sweet boy, “Honey, does it upset you when the big kids don’t give you the ball, or do you just enjoy having all the kids at our house to play?”  It broke my heart when he said he wants the ball and wants to play too.  I took the question a little further and said, “Do you want mom to speak up and tell everyone to make sure everyone is equally included?”  (Not sure what age parents start becoming embarrassing.) I was actually surprised when he said yes to that as well.

Sometimes it is so hard to keep yourself in line as a parent.  Where do you let your child fight for themselves, and where do you step in?  I certainly would not walk down to someone else’s driveway and give orders, but when kids are playing in my driveway, my kid gets to play.  I look at my children and see so many differences.  My daughter, who is three years younger, has no problem fighting for herself…remember, she kicked her dad when she was upset.  But my boy has the huge heart and always wants to play nice and fair; I really hope he does not get walked on in life for being so sweet.

A Debate With The Husband

As mentioned in yesterday’s blog, I volunteer at the school a couple hours a week helping my kid’s teachers. Usually, I am sitting in break room stapling, sorting, cutting out laminated items, etc., but every once in a while I spend time helping the teacher in the classroom. So my husband and I recently had a discussion that turned into a debate about parent volunteers in the classes. We are very fortunate to have our children in an excellent public school. The school has an outstanding staff and a great deal of parent involvement. Both things I feel are vital for excellent schools.

The debate began when my husband and I started talking about parents in the classroom. Jonathan (a.k.a. the husband) does not recall parents helping in classrooms when we were younger. His opinion is, since it is a public school, parents should be able to help at the school but not in the classrooms. Why? He feels public schools are meant to be equal for all children. Therefore, it is not fair that one child’s mother can help due to a flexible work schedule and another child’s parent cannot due to a different work schedule. There may be one child that their parent’s inability to help at the school really has an effect on.

His thought is valid in my opinion, but I think the benefit of having additional parents helping in a classroom far exceeds the potential downfalls. Due to struggling budgets in school systems these days, the student/teacher ratio has been raised in many places. As a result, a teacher is expected to teach to 23 children at all different levels, keeping the advanced ones challenged and reaching out to those children that learn a slightly slower rate. Is that possible?

I am extremely lucky to have two children that are very bright and advanced (of course we read and learn new things at home, but I feel we owe a great deal of where my kids are academically to the Primrose environment that they were in from newborn through Pre-K). For example, my 2nd grade child is reading on a 4th grade level. Although wonderful, having an advanced child comes with its own challenges…my child can cause disruptions in class if he gets his work done too quickly. A friend of mine often goes into the class and takes the advanced readers into another room and works with them on things so the teacher can focus on those that need a little more help from the teacher. To me this is a benefit to all the students. Another example is the weekly fluency tests. Every week each child must read a story so the words they read per minute can be measured. A volunteer parent can handle that while the teacher continues teaching, or the teacher can give kids some busy work while she tests each child individually. I feel the parent involvement is beneficial in this situation as well. So my question to you…what is your opinion? Should parents be allowed to help in classrooms?

The Simple Minds of Children

Since my son started school a couple of years ago I have been very fortunate to be involved at the school.  I have gotten to know many of the teachers that you can truly see have a passion for children.  Although some days (when my two children won’t behave) I wonder how a teacher handles a full classroom of kids, I have seen the blessings they receive from teaching.  Just as a mother that volunteers at the school an hour or two a week, you see how big the hearts of so many kids are…they get so attached even to those of us that just make an occasional appearance.   

So, this week I went to help my son’s teacher for a couple of hours.  Part of the time I was working in the classroom while his teacher was teaching.  The teacher was walking through the responsibility of homework, and how in 2nd grade it is no longer mommy and daddy’s responsibility to make sure homework is completed and turned in.  Of course I understand why they are starting to train them in that direction, but honestly, I still feel I should check my son’s homework at the big age of seven.  Anyways, I believe every child in that class asked a question…What if my dog eats my homework?  What if my mom forgets to put it in my folder?  What if I finish my homework but leave it at home?  What if my mom throws it away?  Imagine 23 of these questions.  By the end of the discussion the teacher laughed and explained that all possible questions had been asked and answered.  The funny part, these questions were asked with the straightest faces.  They were thoughts that actually ran through their little heads. It made me realize how their simple thoughts can bring so much laughter and happiness to us if we just take the time to take it in.

Back in the Swing of Things

Well, the school year is now underway. The crazy summer had me slacking off a little on the blog. My kids are loving school, even the kindergartener. Unlike my son that cried and reached for me as I walked out the door, my daughter simply confirmed I would come back for her, then said good-bye without the tears. The odd part…we have been in school for over two weeks now, and today Emory cried as I dropped her off in the carline. “I don’t want to go mommy!” Wow, did that tear at my heart strings. How can their tears make us moms so emotional? So of course I cried on the way to work. I am such a sucker!

On a lighter note, my son has had a smooth adjustment to second grade. I think he is actually starting to build friendships and looks forward to school.  Always a good feeling for us parents! Now, the most entertaining part of the school year so far are the updates I receive from my daughter’s kindergarten teacher and par pro. One morning I was actually pulled aside in the hallway and told “Emory is PERFECT!” Oh my gosh! Are you sure we are talking about my child? Perfect? Really?  “She just sits in class, obeying all the rules, raises her hand, stays quiet when asked to.”  Now I’m not sure if they are amazed at any child who behaves like that, or just because they had my son two years ago, and she just is not behaving very Bohlander-like.  Regardless, the word perfect did give me a good chuckle.  Thinking I should record her and her brother fighting one afternoon and show that to her teachers.  She has quite a devil side to her.  Lucky for her, she is super adorable!

Despite all the joking, I honestly have to say, we are so lucky to have two happy, social, normal children that love school.  It makes our lives much easier.  I am thankful every day for our excellent school and teachers.  Another year is underway…boy does the time fly!