Student of the Month

Today was a very exciting day!

Actually, the excitement started on September 5, when Moose brought home a letter from school, letting us know that the teachers at his school unanimously selected him as “student of the month” for his academic work and respectful demeanor. They even put a sign in our lawn for everybody to see!

I cannot tell you how proud I am. He works so hard, even when things aren’t easy for him. And I am thrilled that his hard work, not to mention his attitude, have been noticed by his teachers. Tonight he got to be recognized in front of the school board with the other “student of the month” winners from the various schools in the district.

I’m so happy we were all able to be with him tonight to recognize his achievements!!!

State Testing

It’s that time of year again at Moose’s school…ISAT time.

Now, he hasn’t been affected by this directly, yet. I believe the actual testing begins in third grade. But he’s already indirectly feeling the effects (and has been since he started in the Early Childhood program way back when), as they have signs up all over the school demanding quiet in the hallways, the teachers are constantly reminding them that tests are beings taken, and there’s a general somber feeling that clouds the school. Yes, they try to make it fun, too, by having special themes each day, but those end up being just another hassle, as he tries to locate the right color of shirt to wear each morning for two weeks.

Yes, I said two weeks. That is true bureaucracy for you. Perhaps if we didn’t take two weeks out of every school to test the children’s knowledge on what they’ve learned, the teachers would actually have time to, I don’t know, teach. Or maybe that’s just too reasonable of a thought.

More 2012 in Review

This has been A Year. There’s really no other way to describe it. It was, by far, the best year of my life to date, and there’s a part of me that doubts that there will ever be another year quite as good. The events that occurred, and the timing of those events, was so outstanding that all I can do is sit back and thank God for the way He arranged this year of celebrations for my family!

January was by far the quietest month of the year. We celebrated our 100th day of school, and Ladybug joined in, as she unofficially started kindergarten during that month. We finished preparing our home for Chickadee’s arrival. I was sad to see the end of One Life to Live, although, if it had to end, it certainly went the right way. We also re-subscribed to cable TV, so I spent a lot of my pregnancy-induced sleepless nights catching up on What Not to Wear!

In February, things started to get busy. Ryan rejoined the American Kantorei for the Bach at the Sem series, and we all enjoyed attending his concerts. I got to see Chickadee holding onto her umbilical cord during an ultrasound…it should come as no surprise, then, that she loves holding onto my hair now! We also made sure she’d be well-equipped for her first Opening Day and Cardinals game. Turkey had two teeth pulled, and hardly even noticed it happening. Ladybug picked out new animal print glasses. We had a fun field trip, started a new Lenten tradition, and celebrated Leap Day. Above all, we spent all of February excited knowing that Chickadee would be arriving the next month!

Without a doubt, March was the craziest, most exciting month of the year. The highlight was, of course, the birth of our little Chickadee. A few other things happened, too, though. We finally got a Dunkin’ Donuts, which was very exciting for me. We had fun celebrating St. Patrick’s Day, and even got to help Moose make a Leprechaun trap for school. I spent a lot of time baking, even though I couldn’t indulge in eating many of my creations due to gestational diabetes. Turkey turned nine. The children got to meet their new sister, and we brought her home!

April was almost as busy as March. Turkey and Bunny were confirmed on Palm Sunday, the same day Chickadee was baptized into God’s family. That was one of the most amazing, emotional days of my life. We celebrated Easter a week later. We had our traditional Opening Day food fest at home, and less than a week later, took Chickadee to her first Cardinals game. Much to Bunny’s delight, an American Girl store opened in St. Louis. We found that last year’s bird’s nest was once again in use. We also had the interesting experience of oven shopping.

Things remained busy in May. Chickadee started smiling at us–so cute! Our new oven was delivered. I got a new pair of glasses for the first time in over five years, and I must have been inspired by Ladybug, because they, too, have an animal print. The next generation of baby birds hatchedLadybug turned five. Ryan and I got to go to the Cardinals game (along with Chickadee), where Tony LaRussa’s number was retired. The following day, Ryan and I (and Chickadee, again), went to the Science Center to see Star Trek: The Exhibition. Moose graduated from kindergarten. We not only went to Art on the Square, but actually bought something for the first time ever. We spent an afternoon at Grant’s Farm, one of our very favorite places to go. Ryan and Ladybug went to a Cardinals game, just the two of them, and got to meet Fredbird and get autographs from two players. We celebrated the birthday of the church on Pentecost  Turkey started his third season of parks and rec baseball, and loved every minute of it.

Life finally slowed down a bit in June (but only a bit!). We celebrated Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee from afar. As part of our celebration, we had our first tea party of the year. This was one of my favorite non-family related parts of the year, learning all about the Queen and her reign. Turkey and Bunny finished third grade. The summer really started to heat up, making everybody miserable.

July brought an end to the slower pace we enjoyed in June. I spent my first-ever day at the spa, and hope I can go back again sometime. We celebrated the Fourth of July in our typical fashion, but sans fireworks, thanks to a ban on them due to excessive heat and drought. Turkey had his last baseball game of the summer. Bunny turned eight, and we enjoyed tea party number two of the year to celebrate. Chickadee attended her first-ever VBS at our church, along with the rest of the family, of course. She also gave up being swaddled at bedtime, which was a little bittersweet. We enjoyed the beginning of the London Olympics, which included tea party number three, and special lessons in school.

At the beginning of August, we managed to tear ourselves away from the Olympics long enough to go to Build a Bear day at Busch Stadium, which also included a walk along the warning track. It was also a “turn back the clock” night…I loved the throwback uniforms and high socks! We had our own family Olympics, in which “Team Markel” won. We got rid of cable TV–again. I got ready for the start of our fifth year of homeschooling by rearranging the school room–again. Moose started first grade, Ladybug officially started kindergarten, and Turkey and Bunny began fourth grade. We went apple picking and got 12 pounds of apples. Chickadee was our little tagalong in school, and constantly kept the whole family amused with her antics.

At the beginning of September, I worked on creating a logo for our school, with help from the children. We were quite happy with the results. I discovered that one of my favorite books ever had finally been reprinted. Chickadee started crawling. We saw the Thunderbirds perform at the Scott Air Force Base air show. We took in another baseball game, and had a kind usher take the best picture of the seven of us to that date. Chickadee reluctantly started eating solid foods. We had fun making handprint angels on Michaelmas.

We spent the month of October learning about the Reformation and enjoying the beautiful fall colors. We had our annual trip to the pumpkin patch, where we picked over 40 pounds of pumpkins. Moose lost three top teeth…eating became a very interesting activity for him! Ryan and I enjoyed the “Kozmania” that overtook Cardinal Nation, especially since we had seen his very-first major league at-bat the year before. I finally found a hat to wear to church. We watched Felix Baumgartner’s incredible, insane skydive from practically outer-space, some of us with morbid curiosity.

In November, Chickadee figured out how to pull herself up to a standing position. Moose turned seven. I had my best-ever game in Bookworm, and promptly stopped playing so I could go out on top. We started Thanksgiving school, and a “Thankful Tree.” We had a nice Thanksgiving…it was especially fun to share Chickadee’s first Thanksgiving with her! We went to our town’s tree lighting, and then went back downtown on a nicer day to look at all of the gingerbread houses. I rearranged our schoolroom–yet again. I think it will stay this way for quite a while! We started our Christmas celebrations a little early by taking the children to their first Boar’s Head Festival, in preparation for our “Christmas in England” theme in school this year.

December brought our favorite time of the year…the Advent and Christmas seasons! Many of our favorite activities take place in December…Christmas on the Hill, Tuba Christmas, and going to St. Charles for the Christmas Traditions festival. In school, we continued making banners for the church year, and learned about Christmas throughout England’s history, which included reading some great books, such as A Christmas Carol. We had a Christmas tea party (number four for the year!), and an English Christmas dinner to accompany our lessons. It was great fun being so very British this whole year! We added readings for the Great “O” Antiphons to our Advent traditions. We spent a lot of time baking, decorating, and delivering cookies and other treats, and basically kept busy right up until Christmas. It was especially fun to get to celebrate a first Christmas again! We even had a white Christmas, although a few days late…but it was still during the season of Christmas, so it counts! I did a lot of work on my blog this month, too, adding pages for liturgical year things such as feasts, festivals, and commemorations, the Jesse Tree, the Great “O” Antiphons, and the Jesus Tree, that are important to our family.

I can’t wait to see what 2013 holds for our family…I know that there will be lots more holidays and celebrations to look forward to sharing together. I pray that God blesses all of your families as greatly as He has blessed mine!

New School Year, New Concerns

It’s that time of year again…back to school.

Every year, when Moose goes back to his school, I find something new to worry about. The very first year, of course, I just worried about him going at all. After that, the worries changed a bit, mostly to more academic concerns. For example, last year I was really worried about him learning to read. And I shouldn’t have been, because he excelled at it.

This year, my worries don’t focus on the academic, because I realize that he’s risen to every academic challenge that’s been thrown at him. Instead, I’m more worried about the social aspects of his first grade year. He’s going from a specialized class, of about 10-12 students, one teacher, and two aides, to a mainstream class that could have close to 30 students and just one teacher. Oh, and no classmates from his previous classes. That’s a huge change for anyone, but especially distressing to a guy like Moose. I worry about him getting the help and attention he needs, about him getting lost in such a big group and withdrawing, about him making friends, having someone to eat lunch with and play with on the playground.

He’s done well in everything he’s needed to do so far, and I’m sure this year will be no exception. As his mother, however, it’s my job to worry about these things…if I worry about them, then he doesn’t have to!

A Weird Turn of Events

Today was Moose’s last day of school before his graduation tomorrow. I was surprised to find that it was almost more difficult dropping him off for his last day of Early Childhood Education than it was dropping him off for his first day, two and a half years ago, but for completely different reasons.

When I had to leave him at the school that November day, I was so worried about how he would do. He couldn’t talk, and so I worried about how he would communicate with his teachers, and let them know what he needed, as well as how he would communicate with us when he got home, to let us know how his day was, and if he was happy at school. I worried about him being just barely three, which was, (and still is), in my opinion, too young to be away from home, at least for a “normal” child, (which, of course, he was not).

Today, my worries are about the future. How will he do in Kindergarten? Will he be able to keep up with all that’s expected of him? Because the expectations will be higher, and to be perfectly frank, Kindergarten “counts.” He *has* to be there, while ECE was always optional, and we could have removed him from the program at any time, if it hadn’t gone well.

Now, I know he’s surpassed what I thought he could do in ECE, so I’m assuming the same will happen in Kindergarten, and I’ll be pleasantly surprised, (and reassured). But I also know that things will be hard for him…I don’t know how hard, and I don’t know in which ways, but he will have struggles, I’m sure. And I would do anything to be able to take those struggles away from him, because I don’t want to see him get hurt.

And so, just as I did the day I first dropped him off, I shed tears. Not because I didn’t want to leave him, which was the source of my tears that first day, but because now, I don’t want him to have to leave the comfort and familiarity of the program I was so worried about leaving him with in the first place.

Prayers Answered

Less than a year ago, I sat in the gym at Moose’s school, waiting for him to receive his first-ever perfect-attendance award. Don’t get me wrong, I was very happy he was getting some kind of recognition for his first quarter in school, but let’s face it, at this age in particular, perfect attendance is more about the parent’s dedication to getting everyone out the door on time.

But during that assembly, I watched other children receive a “rising star” award for outstanding improvement, and I prayed that *someday* even if that day was years down the road, Moose would win such an award.

Well, this morning, less than a year later, I sat in that same gym, as he did, in fact, receive a “rising star” award. I didn’t know that’s what he was getting until his teacher gave it to him–he could have been there for citizenship or perfect attendance as far as I knew. But he won the award that I selfishly prayed that he would get, and I couldn’t be more proud of the hard little worker he is!

Of course, this award does not mean that he’s caught up to where he’s supposed to be, or that all of his problems are gone. But it does mean that he’s made significant progress, that he’s constantly trying, and that he wants to do well.

And that’s really all I could ask for!

Back to a Routine

Turkey and Bunny will be starting their third week of First Grade today, and I think we’ve got our routine figured out. We have about an hour more of school each day than we did in Kindergarten, so we have school in the morning (Bible/Catechism, math, and language arts, including handwriting and spelling on the appropriate days) and then we have about an hour of school in the afternoon (history, geography, read-alouds, science, and electives on Wednesdays and Fridays). It’s been a bit of an adjustment, but all three of us are really enjoying the topics we’re discussing, and nobody seems to mind the extra hour of school work–Turkey and Bunny are usually begging for science each afternoon.

Moose started back to school today. He had just under two months off, as he had a month-long summer school session, and I know he’s happy to be back. We have to readjust our routine a little bit, to make sure everyone is dressed in time for him to get to school, but it’s not much different from what we were doing anyway.

So, everybody is back doing the things they’re supposed to be doing. I appreciate the sense of order routine brings, but I sure did enjoy our time off together!