Category Archives: School

3 Awesome Things – about back to school

Today Oldest Son goes back to school. This time last year I was a blubbering mess! For real. Like sobbing. What a difference a year makes:). No sobbing today. This marks the day all the kids are back in school. So, I thought it would be fitting to have 3 Awesome Things about Back to School.

  1. Changes in Routines– I love to mix it up! I really do and back to school definitely brings that about. We all get up earlier, go to be earlier (mostly) and keep somewhat consistent schedules. I’m as ready for that as I am for the carefree schedules of summer come May. I would probably have to qualify it as loving predictable change – like the seasons, school year, holidays, wardrobes, menus. Not the big scary changes like jobs, family moving away, or new rules I can’t control. Nope, don’t want that kind of change. I’ll just take my happy, predictable change.
  2. School Supplies – I love them all! I want to buy a bunch of pencils and sharpen them really sharp! ‘Cause we all know a sharp pencil is a sign of a sharp mind! And notebooks. I love crisp new notebooks without those wavy pages they get when you drip water on them. Or the ones where people have torn parts of pages out. No, don’t like that kind. Or when there are lists and phone numbers, and reminders all over a page. Don’t like that! That’s why I love brand new notebooks. They are clean and neat and orderly. I like that. And I like pens. Really good, medium point, pens with nice grips. I have a lovely blue pen at work. I’ve had it for nearly 7 years. {True confession: it came with me from my last job, at the church! I wasn’t trying to steal, but after reading all the questionnaires about workplace theft, I don’t know. It is just a papermate pen. Does that make me a thief?} My co-workers all know about my blue pen. I will hunt you down if you happen to walk off with my blue pen – how else would I have held on to a papermate pen for 7 years?!
  3. Marching Band – I love listening to the marching band play! It just gets me excited! The drums doing their cadences so loudly your chest thumps. The kids all working together. I just love listening to them. And watching the shows progress each week! So very cool. I was not in marching band. I, graciously gave our high school band the pleasure of not having me play. I don’t have a musical cell in my body {I hear I might get that from my Uncle Denny}, but I love listening to others make beautiful music. So glad my kids got that gene from their dad!

That’s it. 3 Awesome Things about back to school; changes in routines, school supplies and marching band!

What are your 3 Awesome Things about back to school?

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He’s Coming Home!

It’s hard to believe, but today I will head back to Manhattan. This time I’m going to get Oldest Son and bring him back home. As of 1:30 today he will have completed his freshman year of college.

It. FLEW. By.

Completely.

I remember sitting at the dining room table last August writing a post and sobbing.  Just sobbing as I wrote. I couldn’t help myself. I knew it would all be ok, but I just wasn’t ready. And watching him walk away, actually pushing him away, that first day. Painful. The pain of that is still fresh. It seems so recent. And yet his first year is over.

I’ve learned a lot this year.

  1. I can survive what seems like the end of the world. Ok, that’s a little dramatic, but I really didn’t know how I was going to manage. I was so sad and not ready to have our family life change. But we are adaptable creatures. We figured out how to be a family of four – for the school year anyway.
  2. The way to Oldest Son’s heart is not through his stomach. {It might be through his wallet.} At the beginning of the year we would take home-made treats or chips and salsa to him. When we went back two weeks later, only a couple brownies had been eaten. {I think he might get that from his grandpa} We thought it was a fluke and sent lots of snacks for finals week. Then when we brought him home for our spring break vacation, he brought loads of snacks along. Apparently they feed him well in VZ dining hall.
  3. Middle and Youngest Son get along much better when Oldest Son isn’t here. It might be the whole odd number thing. Or maybe, I’d like to believe, its Middle Son taking on that big brother role. Doing for his younger brother like Oldest Son did for him. Buying him a treat in the morning for the day they posted drumline tryout results – he said it would either be a consolation or celebration treat. I didn’t even think of doing that! They help each other with homework, go to movies together and talk about the books they read. It’s pretty awesome. Until they start pushing each others buttons again.
  4. I don’t have to solve all his problems. I know this because he told me so. It was a tough transition for me. Each time he would call with a challenge, I wanted to jump into problem solver mode and fix it. But it’s harder to fix from a couple of hours away. When he was making plans to get home for his brother’s confirmation, it was messy. We went through so may different arrangements and one thing after another fell through. I told him this was stressing me out. He told me it shouldn’t cause it’s his problem to fix. Hmmm. True I guess. So I let go and low an behold he made it home. Lesson learned, kind of.

And now I’m excited to have him back home again. And a little anxious too! I remember how hard it was to come back home to Mom & Dad’s after I’d been on my own. They had different ideas about when I should sleep, how I should spend my days, when I should come home at night. I remember the feeling of not quite belonging. I longed to be “home” for the summer. But somehow it didn’t feel the same when I got there. It’s a weird limbo place to be. So I’m bracing myself for that, trying to keep my expectations in check. But I do have quite a Mason-can-do-that-when-he’s-home list going in my head. And his brothers have plans for him to take the dog out and feed her every day to make up for all the times he missed over the last nine months.

I guess we’ll be negotiating some ground rules and expectations on the drive back.

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Slowly Learning

Another summer has flown by without me. Each year is the same, you’d think I would catch on eventually. Maybe next summer. Each year as school lets out the lazy days of summer lie before us like a blank slate waiting to be filled with adventure. We make plans. We dream. We change our pace. It’s a time filled with potential and excitement.

June is packed with sports camps, mission trips, and summer fun. July 4th seems so far off. But inevitably it will sneak up on me. I rarely get decorations out for this holiday. It seems I wake up one day and realize it’s less than a week away. It’s too much work to get everything out for a week. Especially when we are gone; there is usually some kind of visit to family in Iowa around the 4th.

And then suddenly, without warning, I look at the calendar and realize we are on the downhill side of summer and picking up speed.

That’s what happened a couple of days ago. I had a weekend to myself, all the guys were gone. I had to work on Saturday and made a quick stop at Target on my way home. I don’t even remember what I went in for, but I ended up by the school supplies. And that’s when it hit me! Summer is over and we’re behind on the back-to-school prep. There is so much to do this year. We’re blazing a new path – adding college preparations to our high school routine. That’s a whole new ballgame.

Oldest son leaves for college in less than three weeks. Whoa! I’m so not ready for that. As I stood there in Target I began pelting him with texts.

What colors do you want in your dorm room?

Are you going to use your quilt or a comforter?

There were so many questions running through my mind. Thankfully I didn’t text them all to him. I may have come off as a crazy Mom! So my solution? I bought a set of sheets. Like that makes it all ok. Just one set of sheets and he’s ready for college. We can finish our summer in peace. I thought about buying more than one set. And then I remembered…I have a son. If they get washed more than once a semester I will feel like I have succeeded as a parent.

So the move out preparations have begun. {And I know the weepiness is right around the corner. I’m super excited for him. But I’m gonna miss seeing his happy face.} And the other two boys couldn’t be happier. This transition means they will no longer be sharing a bedroom. I think that might prove to be a happy thing for all of us. The silver lining in the cloud.

Maybe next year I will see it coming and not be caught by surprise…but I doubt it:)!

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We Survived Graduation!

We did it! I mean he did it! Actually, we all survived. We made it through graduation and all the festivities that ensued. And more importantly, or maybe the question you’ve all been thinking, I survived my Oldest Sons graduation without a meltdown. If you are new to my blog, please know, I’m not a crazy lady. I’m just a pretty emotional Mama. I try to live in the moment and savor each milestone, which sometimes leads to tears of joy, sadness, or frustration. But mostly joy!

Oldest Son’s graduation was a week ago yesterday and a few tears were shed. But the entire week was a joy! It was such a pleasure to watch him participate in all the celebrations. Watching him visit with adults wishing him well, planning a party with his friends, and fitting in time to go to all the celebrations made me proud.

We had a beautiful night for graduation! It was held outside in the football stadium- a relief since tickets are limited if weather forces the ceremony inside.

The ceremony was nicely done – kudos to the administration!

His name was even pronounced correctly! Not a small feat with our last name:).

One set of grandparents were able to join our family at the ceremony. My parents came the weekend before and we put them to work! More on that later. Between that and the amount of walking required, they were both exhausted by the end of the evening. But we’re so glad they could be there!

As we sat in the stands waiting for the ceremony to start, I turned to Hubby and asked, “How did we get here?”

It really did go by in the blink of an eye. It seems such a short time ago we moved to Kansas and were trying to figure out where he would go to elementary school. I remember thinking that was a long ways off. And now, here we are. Parents of a high school graduate! Soon to be parents of a college student. I feel like someone is going to tap me on the shoulder and say – excuse me, you are not qualified for this role. And I will have to say, “I KNOW!”

I guess that is how it always is as parents. You do the best you can, with the information you have. And quite often that information feels very inadequate. I think it’s a miracle really that so many kids turn out to be such great young adults! I know we are beyond proud of the man Oldest Son has become. He continues to amaze us with his integrity, his kindness and his generous spirit. I really can’t wait to see where he goes and who he becomes! Great things are ahead for him.

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Thankful Thursday – Teachers

I’ve missed a whole lot of Thankful Thursdays. It isn’t that I haven’t felt thankful. Just that I haven’t remembered until Friday. Kind of lame, huh? Well, today is the perfect opportunity to get back into the routine.

Tonight was the teacher conference night at the middle and high schools. We had 21 teachers to see for all three boys. We got to talk with most of them, a few weren’t available or had too long of a line. I think we talked to 16 teachers. And I am so grateful for them! These professionals spend a good amount of time with my kids. And with lots of kids. There really wasn’t one of them who didn’t seem to care. They have been at the school since very early this morning and they were still there at 8 pm. I know they spend countless hours outside of the work day grading papers, preparing lessons and giving kids extra help.

I’m thankful for each of them. For their dedication to helping my kids get it. For their determination when it’s not sinking in. For caring about my kids and their future.

Thank You Teachers!

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Makin’ the Grade

My kids are grading my performance. And I’m not particularly happy. I think it might be time for a conference. Let me back up and explain a bit. They have all three had the same Geometry teacher. And he’s a great teacher. He covers so much more than geometry. He teaches them about life; about things like stocks and bonds, the heart transplant he received, and politics, you name it! I’m not quite sure the context of the message that promts it, but each of the boys have done the same assignment. He has them take out a sheet of paper, gives them a list of categories and has them give a grade to their Mom and their Dad for each one. Then they figure each parent’s GPA.

Mind you, I didn’t know I was being graded. Had I known I might have tried harder at some things. Maybe done some extra credit work before grade time. I mean it’s hard to remember to do all those parenting things all the time. There’s a lot to remember. You have to discipline, teach, counsel, be the financial advisor, advocate, police, cheerleader. That’s a lot of careers I didn’t train for! It’s all on-the-job training. Sink or swim.

I have the benefit of having three kids. You’d think it would help. I got to try things out with the first one. Tweak things with the second one. I should be getting straight A’s by the third one.

Not so.

I have to admit…I have no idea where the grade card is from Oldest Son. Being the kind, considerate guy he is he probably didn’t show me to spare my feelings. He probably graded me high, because he could empathize with where I was coming from. That’s just how he is.

Middle Son’s parent grade card has been hanging on the fridge for a year! Yeah, it was that good! Nearly straight A’s. There was one C for Help with Homework since math homework is impossible for me. Made my heart swell a bit. That’s actually better grades than I ever received in school!

Pride cometh before the fall.

Youngest Son brought his parent grade card home this week. Ya, it’s on the fridge. But for a whole different reason.

Revenge!

My goal is to live up to his evaluation of me. Shouldn’t be too hard. Apparently I’m just a middle C Mom.

He actually gave me an F. An F! You know what it was in? Drugs & Alcohol. I had to ask some clarifying questions about that one. Was he grading me on my consumption? On whether I endorsed it? Whether I’ve told him not to do drugs or whether I’ve provided them for him? Apparently, the F is because I’ve never had the don’t do drugs “talk” with him. Like formally sat him down and told him the dangers of drinking and drugs. Yes, I have told him he shouldn’t drink til he’s 21. Yes, I’ve told him how drinking impairs your judgment and you end up doing things you wouldn’t normally do. Yes, he hears me ask his brothers before they head out if anyone will be drinking where they are going. Yes, I have told them all that if they drink they are risking all the things that are important to them and it’s not worth it. But he gave me an F. Because we haven’t had the “talk.”

I only got two A’s from Youngest Son – Academic Encouragement and Saying “I love you.” I guess those are nice things to be good at, but really? A middle C average?

He did give me a few B’s – Birthdays {I think he must have done this on Friday, before his birthday on Saturday!}, Discipline and Shoulder to Cry on. Hmmm…do those go together? Discipline and a shoulder to cry on?

Round it out with C’s for Smoking talk {apparently I’ve covered that, just not well}, Quality Time and Sense of Humor. Here and I thought I was pretty funny. Maybe it’s just 13-year-old boy humor I don’t find funny?

So now my goal is to live up to his expectation of my parenting. I got off to a good start when I lost track of time and got him to basketball practice 15 minutes late. I didn’t mean to, and I did feel really bad. But of course, when he was telling me how upset he was I pointed out that I was just living up to my grades. Ha ha! {Now there’s a sense of humor:)}Ya, I’m that evil of a Mom. I just wish I hadn’t made his friend late too.

The only satisfaction in the whole rate your parents thing? For the first time in my entire life…I’ve actually gotten better grades than Hubby!

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A Test of Potential for Success

We are deep in the throes of college applications at our house. Things are getting intense; there’s so much to consider. And so many applications to look at, both for the schools and scholarships. We are narrowing things down while keeping his options open. How’s that for non-committal? I think he might be ready to say for sure where he’s going. I’m not. And I have no idea why not.

In this process we’ve learned a lot about college admission exams. Namely the ACT. Oldest son is taking the ACT for the 4th time as I write. We all hope this is the last time. Of course he is trying to reach that magic score that means a significant renewable scholarship. No pressure, Son. It’s just thousands of dollars riding on this test. See, he has met all the other requirements; class rank, GPA, rigorous course of study. Just the ACT score remains. They say it is a good judge of how successful a student will be in college.

I disagree.

On a couple levels.

I think its a reflection of natural ability or aptitude, years of rigorous courses, test-taking skills and a parents ability to pay for special tutoring. The reality is, if you have the money for the tutor, you can most likely raise your score. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing – I do believe in capitalism after all. But to say it is an indicator of whether you will be successful in college? I don’t know. More a reflection of the perseverance to keep taking the test until you get the score you want/need. More a reflection of the expectations put on you by your family – you have to get a better score. More a reflection of your parents’ ability to pay for additional help. I suppose all those could be considered contributors to a successful college career. I just think of the kids who weren’t told to take the test many times, who didn’t know where to get practice tests. Who’s parents don’t have the money to enroll them in an ACT prep class. Are they destined to fail?

I believe there are much more significant factors in whether a student will be successful in college. Things like, can they balance a checkbook? Have they had to live within a budget, keeping track of expenses and income, saying no to fun activities when they aren’t in the budget? Have they lived in close quarters with others? When you move into a 12 x 14 ft room with a total stranger, those quirky little things become really big things. The potential for conflict is great and if they’ve never had to negotiate, compromise or give-and-take they are at a huge disadvantage. Have they had to budget their own time, manage their own meals and keep their own schedule? The dining hall won’t make them a sandwich when you get home from a late study session. And a professor isn’t really concerned with the fact that you had to work last night. College requires students to be self-sufficient. Where’s the assessment for that? Who is asking the student if they know what they are getting themselves into and if they have the determination to go the distance to get their degree? I think that’s what will determine their success.

But, it doesn’t really matter what I think now does it? I’m pretty sure the colleges aren’t going to revamp their system because I don’t like it.

And from the look on Oldest Son’s face when he got home from today’s attempt, there are more ACTs in his future.

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