Thursday, March 31, 2011

The Final Installment

I put the administrators at Aiden's school through the wringer this past week over the situation that landed his sorry butt in ISS. I don't regret fighting the fight that I fought and I would do it again were the same circumstance to come up. What happened to him was wrong and the consequence was too great, but one thing I can't deny. The principal, vice principal, and teacher carried themselves with grace and respect for my feelings.

Did I mention that I was REALLY mean and tough about the situation? I was. I probably added a few gray hairs to their heads. (Thank goodness for hair dye, right?) While I'm good at pointing out the bad, I'm also pretty dang good at acknowledging the good. I figured, if I'm going to post everything I didn't like about the situation, it's only fair to also post the good. The following will be the last you'll hear about what went on this week. It's an e-mail I sent to the superintendent of schools here, a copy of which I'll be printing off for each them to keep for their own records. They put up with a LOT of crap from me, and they've earned it.

Dr. DuB.:

My name is Aimee and my son, Aiden, is in 5th grade at TCE. We came here from a school that I dearly loved and shed tears over when we had to leave. When we were looking at houses, we toured the school and met Mrs. T. and Mr. S. Their overall demeanor and enthusiasm for what they do sold us on buying a home in this district and putting our children, 3 of whom have special needs, in that school.

This past week, my son made a stupid comment and it was hurtful to another student. In our home, if a sibling hurts another the consequence is "you are now his slave for 45 minutes" or something to that affect. Aiden's class happened to be studying slavery in school this week. During free time, my son was goofing off with some of his peers and said to another "now you're my slave" which was followed by another peer saying "no, he's my slave". Unfortuntely, Aiden happened to make this comment to a boy who was blessed with dark skin. Aiden by no means intended this to be a racial slur, but was given three days of in school suspension despite never having been in trouble in his life and being known as a kid who goes out of his way to be accepting of others, especially those with special needs. This is wrong on so many levels, but I don't want to debate that right now. (Although I would love to sit down with you and the administration sometime and work out a more age-appropriate plan of discipline for the school.)

What I want to discuss here is the way Dr. R. and Mrs. T. handled themselves. To say I gave them a run for their money would be the understatement of the century. I went in with guns blazing to fight for my son's honor and to protest the excessive punishment that was given. I pointed out their every flaw. I expressed how disappointed I was that common sense wasn't used here. I forced them to go round and round discussing the same points over and over and over again, despite knowing we would never come to an agreement on the situation. Never once did those two women lose an ounce of professionalism. Not once. They were kind, respectful, and considerate of what I was feeling and saying. When I called them on the fact that they hadn't explained to Dr. C. that they knew Aiden didn't intend his comment as a racial slur and explained that they owed him at least that much, they didn't hesitate. Dr. R. assured me that she would call Dr. C., and I followed up. Dr. R. said only the kindest of things about my son to her. This shows that she is indeed a woman of her word.

Dr. D., you have amazing people working for you at TCE. I will NEVER agree with the severity of the consequence my son was given. That is beside the point. Disciplinary plans can be worked out later and perhaps a committee can be formed to look over these situations and see what can be done to improve upon the plan.

As the mother of many special needs children, it matters to me who is in charge of their schooling. While I know the decision has already been made, I hope you will add my vote in behalf of Mrs. T. In our house, we say she reminds us of Miss Frizzle from "The Magic School Bus" series. That is a REALLY big compliment because we hold that character as the epitome of what a teacher should be. She's thoughtful of the needs of her students and their families, she's not afraid to think outside the box, and it's obvious to me now that she is able to hold her own in a very difficult situation. While it is a loss to the school to have Dr. R. leaving, I can rest assured that Mrs. T. will take the school far in her leadership role.

Additionally, I want to point out what a phenomenal teacher you have in Mr. S. My son was understandably nervous about leaving his friends and everything familiar behind to move to a new school. For the first time in Aiden's young life, his father has to travel frequently on business. Mr. S. has been THE KEY PLAYER in making this transition better for Aiden. He is a creative, hands-on, actively involved teacher who has made a lasting impression on my son so important that there is no gift or reward great enough to thank him for it. The situation that occurred this week was VERY telling of Mr. S.'s character. When I went storming into Mrs. T.'s office, he was already there and it was clear by the look in his eyes that this was as painful to him as it was to me. I dare say that Mr. S. loves each and every child in his classroom as he would his own two sons.

I don't know that there is some magic red ribbon or fancy trophy that is given to outstanding educational professionals in the School District, but if you had one to give, this group of people would certainly have won it by a landslide. Thank you for putting such an effort into your selection of educators for my children. You can pat yourself on the back for a job well done.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Final Decision

Well, I'm not happy about it, but that's okay. The school knows I don't like it, and being the stubborn pain in the butt that I am, that's oddly good enough for now.

The final consolation is that Aiden gets to count yesterday's time in the office as a full day, so he can go back to class on Friday morning instead of half way through the day. They're still calling it three full days of suspension and I still think that's too excessive and they still think they're right and I still know they're not right and really no one is going to agree on this. We could chase our tails all day and make no progress, but who does that benefit (other than me for getting to give myself a new tiara that reads "Meanest Mom in the World, But Only When You Tick Me Off)?

The truth is that I would back down if Dr. C. required to apologize to Aiden. I want him to learn that even adults make mistakes and need to be held accountable for it. What Aiden said was dumb and his timing was even worse. I get that. Aiden hurt another boy's feelings and he had to apologize in person and in writing. Dr. C. said she KNEW he intended a racist comment. She was wrong about that. She owes him, not me, an apology in writing and in person. It doesn't have to be huge. It can be something to the affect of "Aiden, I said something about you when I didn't know all the facts. What I said was untrue and hurtful, and I'm sorry. I hope you will forgive me." Really, that's all I want. More than the suspension being taken away, more than the embarrassment he feels, more than anything else, I want her to apologize.

So, that's where we are. He misses the choir concert. He spends another day in ISS doing useless busy work. He goes back to class on Friday. Mrs. T., I know you're reading this. Am I correct in understanding he can go to drama club practice Friday morning then?

And, while we're on the subject of Mrs. T. and Dr. R., I want the record to show that for as much as I disagree with their decision, I appreciate them listening to me and putting up with my constant interjections and arguments. (I didn't mention to them that I was really into debate in college, and have a had a high win rate. Poor girls!) I may not have won the whole battle, but I didn't go down without a fight. They remained professional and held their tongues when I'm confident they were thinking "Dang! Mrs.Supermom totally didn't take her happy pills today." I will never see eye to eye with them in THIS situation, but am confident there will be lots of other areas we can agree on.

Either way, I did what I felt was best for my son. I'm a tough, sometimes grumpy (shocking, right?) mom. I expect more of Aiden than I do of any other child. He sacrifices a lot for the best interest of his siblings, usually without being the option of not sacrificing those things. At the end of the day, though, he is mine. And I love him. I love him with every bone in my body. And I trust him. I know his character and I know who he really is. I have taught him about acceptance sensitivity. And, when his character was questioned, I defended him. I stood up for him. If I were to die tomorrow, I would die knowing he KNOWS I know who he is. And I am proud of the son I've raised. He is taking his consequence, unfair as it may be, like a man. He knows what he said was wrong and why. In the end, isn't that what this was all about anyway?

Well, We're Making Progress

The assistant principal just called. We went round and round and she insisted that the punishment would stick, but he wouldn't lose his part in the play and still can't be in the choir concert tonight. I said that wasn't good enough. She asked what I wanted. I was very clear.

1. I brought up the situation with CJ where he was picked on repeatedly for weeks and threatened with physical harm. She said that child was 2nd grader and Aiden is a 5th grader so it's different. I said I would agree with that except that he is 11 and was compared to an adult yesterday. What's good for the goose is good for the gander, right? She said she'd have to "look into that more."

2. I said that, when Aiden did something wrong, he had to apologize to the little boy in person and in writing. I want an apology from Dr. C. for calling him racist and saying she KNEW that's how he intended it. She said that wasn't necessary because he didn't know the other woman said that. I said he most certainly does know and that I explained it to him as a means of helping him understand why such an extreme consequence was imposed. And, even if he didn't know, she said it and should have to admit to that and apologize. Period.

3. I said that it was clear that this consequence was given with political motivation and not a full understanding of the whole situation, and it's okay to say to Aiden and the other little boy "We were really upset by what you did and didn't really stop to think about it, but this is a little bit more consequence for what you did." I think they should ask him why what he said was wrong and why he shouldn't do it again. If he knows the right answers, I felt that they could say, "we're sorry were so extreme and we think it's time you go back to the classroom tomorrow morning." I said that sometimes I'll tell him he's grounded for two weeks for something stupid and then realize how extreme that was and apologize for flying off the handle and then give him a more fitting consequence for his actions.

4. She said they were firm, so I asked where to go from here for mediation. I said I felt that it's obvious I won't budge on my feelings and that they won't budge on their feelings, so a third party would be brought in. "I don't want to go legal here, but I have a job to defend what is best for my child". I asked the process for mediation. Does he serve the time while it's being mediated, or go back to class until it's all over? I'm willing to work with them. If he serves the time while it's being mediated and it is determined that I am right, what is the compensation for Aiden for that? I was clear that I did allow him to go today and sit in ISS, but I will not allow another day of it. She offered to let him serve the suspension at home. I said no. It's still an extreme punishment no matter where he serves it. I said it MUST be taken care of today because he belongs in that classroom tomorrow morning. It's wrong to even concede tonight's concert, but whatever. I will deal with that loss.

She did note that I am VERY good at advocating for my kid. (That made me giggle a little.) I think they realize I mean business now and will NOT be backing down on this. She needed to "look into a few things", but will call me back later today to work on a better resolution. I'd say that's at least a little progress.

An Update to the Mama Bear Post

I was up all night long last night until after 3am. (I see a caffeinated beverage in my immediate future for sure!) I have thought and thought about the situation regarding Aiden that I posted yesterday. I want to do the right thing. I want to be sure my motivation for fighting this is driven by appropriate reasons. Not everyone agrees with my opinion of the matter, and I'm okay with that. In fact, I value the opinion of others. It opens my mind to points of view I may otherwise not have seen.

In the end, it came down to the fact that my heart simply says this was not handled in an acceptable way and the punishment is too harsh for the crime. Let's be honest. I'm probably going to lose this battle, and that's okay. As a mom, I need my child to see me respectfully arguing in his behalf. This is a kid who takes a LOT of heat. My expectations for him are high. Very high. While the point made that he does say stupid things is valid, I would point out that most eleven year old kids speak out of turn and have their less than stellar moments. I would say most of us even as adults do.

The number one reason I need to speak up for Aiden is that it was suggested repeatedly by a woman who has never met him that he intended his comment to be a racial slur. What Aiden said was stupid, but it wasn't a racial slur. Just as someone who says to another person who mishears something "what are you Deaf?" is not intended to be making fun of my Deaf children. Aiden represents our family and our faith when he steps out of the house in the morning. When it is suggested that my child is being a racist, it is suggesting that members of our home and faith believe that is true. That is not what is taught here, and it needs to be corrected.

With all of that said, I did write an e-mail to the school administrators involved and will follow-up on it today. Here is what it said:

Dr. C (and others copied into this e-mail):

I would like to apologize for my behavior today regarding my son, Aiden. It was childish and wrong of me to call you crazy and hang up on you, and for that I am truly sorry. I will definitely be making a better effort at being more adult about this.

I think we need to further discuss Aiden's punishment. While I am able to keep my cool with administration at TCE, it is obvious that I need to work on my behavior with you, so I'd prefer to communicate with you via e-mail for now. I will speak with Mrs. T in person or on the phone tomorrow.

There are a few things I want to clarify. First, and foremost, I want to be clear that I believe Aiden has the absolute best teacher on the planet on his side. Mr. S is a shining example of what a teacher should be and he is to be commended for his stellar performance as a teacher. I don't think teachers get enough credit, and he has made a lasting impact in Aiden's life this year. He deserves to be recognized for his efforts. It is because of the fact that I KNOW that he is going to make this situation okay for Aiden that I am able to step back and breathe a little. Additionally, Dr. R and Mrs. Tt are both tremendous leaders. This situation leaves a lot of gray area, and I can imagine this was a tough call for them. I breathed a sigh of relief when I learned that Mrs. T would be our new principal because I know what kind of person she is and what sort of culture she will bring to the school. She will pick up where Dr. R is leaving off and do amazing things. Both of them are clearly kind and loving women with the best interest of their students at heart.

With all of that said, I still think there are some issues that need to be resolved.
1. It was explained to me that the precedent for this incident was set with a similar situation last year. Okay. Fine. I get that. We were told that this falls under disrespect. Okay. I get that, too. What about bullying? Wouldn't that qualify as disrespect? I called and spoke with Dr. R earlier this year because my 1st grader, who is Deaf, was being bullied on the bus. In fact, after weeks of bullying, the kid finally told my son that he would "punch his face in". She was a great listener and resolved the situation in a way that I felt was acceptable. It stopped the bullying, and that's what ultimately mattered. BUT, that child was not suspended to my understanding. His mother was called, a conversation was had, and that was it to my knowledge. Maybe more went on than that. It's not my business. But I am confident that child wasn't suspended. If the precedent was set last year that all disrespectful children would be suspended for three days, the child picking on my kid should have had the same consequence. I could even stretch and say that I believe CJ was picked on because he's Deaf just as Dr. C suggested that Aiden made his comment because the boy in question has dark skin. The reason the child wasn't suspended was simple. Dr. R used common sense. It would be my hope that common sense would prevail here as well.

2. I am still really struggling with the fact that Dr. C said that Aiden intended this to be racist. She explained that his actions were worse than spitting in a teacher's eye because it was intended to be racist. I explained that I didn't believe that was the case and you insisted that it was. You were not there. You do not know my son's character. If you did, you'd know that he has a reputation for putting his neck out there to defend other children with special needs and befriending those who don't have many other friends. You would know that Aiden goes out of his way to make others feel welcome and a part of things. Please, in the future, do not presume to know the intent of a child's heart.

3. My understanding is that the main reason for this punishment is to be sure that he has really learned that what he did was not okay. I asked Mrs. T if she felt that Aiden knew what he did was wrong. She said he did. I asked if he was honest about the situation. She informed me that he was. I asked if he was compliant when being questioned about the situation. She informed me that he was. I asked if she felt he'd ever do this again. She gave me a firm NO. He knows what he did was wrong and thoughtless and stupid. Help me understand what anyone has to gain by putting these two little boys in seclusion for three days. You are costing him his part in the choir concert tomorrow night. You are also costing him two days of rehearsals for the drama club play. The rule in drama club is that missing two rehearsals means losing your part. He has worked long and hard on this play. His whole heart and soul has gone into it. This is a triple whammy. It's too much, and it's unreasonable.

4. I whole heartedly agree that Aiden needs a consequence for his actions. He took it upon himself to write a letter of apology to the boy in question. He also apologized in person. He spent the entire afternoon being questioned about this without the benefit of his father or I being there to be a part of the situation. In fact, it was a full three hours after the fact before we were contacted. He is embarrassed that it's gone this far. He was trying to be funny and instead said something really dumb at the wrong time to the wrong person. I get that. I also feel that just one day of ISS is more than enough of a consequence for what was done.

I think we're all on the same page with believing he was in the wrong. I think we all also agree that he deserved a consequence. What needs to happen now is a coming together of minds to make sure the punishment is fitting for the crime. This isn't something I can let go. This is an amazing little kid we have here. He's at an age where learning life's lessons can be tough. I fail to understand why we need to make it tougher.

Thank you for hearing me out on this. I look forward to your response, and as I said, I will speak with Mrs. T more tomorrow. I hope we can find a common ground.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The Mama Bear in Me is Coming Out with a Vengeance!

Get your popcorn out. This is going to be a doozy. Let me give a little back history first:
1. When one of my kids does something stupid to a sibling, I will often say "Okay, now you're their slave for 45 minutes".
2. Aiden's class has been studying slavery in school.

I got a call from the assistant principal today telling me Aiden was in a little trouble. Apparently he and some other little boys were all playing and being goofy, and Aiden said to one kid "Hey! Now you're my slave". Then another kid in the same group said, "No, he's my slave". A little girl overheard the conversation and told the teacher. The problem? The "slave" has brown skin. The teacher asked the boy if his feelings were hurt by it, and the kid said something to the affect of "Well, it hurt my feelings that they were teasing me". Because the little girl who reported it was offended, the teacher had no choice but to report it to the principle. As the teacher was telling me this, I was agreeing that what he said was stupid and thoughtless, but explained how the term is used in our house. Never once has it been suggested as a racist term. I agreed that he needed a consequence to help him remember to think before he speaks next time. The consequence? THREE DAYS OF IN-SCHOOL SUSPENSION.

I asked if it would have been the same if he'd said this to a child of a paler skin color and was assured that it would. She went on to say he'd been in with her for nearly three hours already. THREE HOURS and no one called me!!!! I explained that I felt that it was excessive and was sure he didn't mean this as a racial slur, and she said she believed me but this was going to stick no matter what. He had to learn that this was wrong. I asked if he had argued when approached about. She said no. I asked if he'd been honest about what happened. She said yes. I asked if he seemed repentant. She said absolutely. I asked if she thought he'd ever say anything like this again. She said definitely not. What more is there to learn by keeping him out of class for three days??

It means he can't perform in the choir concert, and will miss two days of drama club rehearsals. Two misses means you're out of the play. We are waiting to hear what the drama coach will decide about all this. The choir thing he's not real big on, but has put a lot of time into. The drama club thing has his whole heart in soul in it. I became more than a little angry and tried reasoning, but she wasn't budging. She suggested that I call Dr. Carter, who was over district discipline.

I called Dr. C., and said I felt that this was a punishment fitting of a kid who got in a fight, used the N word, spit in the teacher's eye, etc. She told me what he did was worse than any of that because it was a racist comment. WHAT THE FREAK!?!?! The assistant principle had told me this would have been the same consequence regardless of color!!! Then we had the following conversation:
Me: I assure he didn't mean it in a racist way.
Her: Yes he did.
Me: Ma'am, that is not what he meant.
Her: Yes. It is.
Me: You're crazy.
Her: I am not crazy.
Me: Click.

I went straight to the school and had Byron meet me there. We were there nearly two hours. Here are the key things brought up.
If he were an adult and said this, he'd lose his job. Ummmm...he's not an adult. He's ELEVEN.
Surely Dr. C. couldn't have meant that she thought Aiden was racist. I'm not kidding when I tell you what I wrote above was our exact conversation. That's what she meant for sure. The principal said I was taking it out of context. I said "Oh? Kind of like Aiden didn't mean that this boy was his black slave? Well, if he'd been an adult he'd have lost his job. Since Dr. Carter is an adult and said something offensive she didn't really mean, maybe she should lose her job." That didn't go over very well. In fact, it was just sort of ignored with "We can't have a say in what administrative consequences are."
The school says they know Aiden is "a great kid and of good character", but none of them had the balls to stand up for him and defend his honor when district administrators were brought in.
Aiden wrote a letter of apology without being told to, but the principal hasn't given it to the kid. I spoke with the kid's mom and apologized profusely. She did at least say that the principal told her she didn't believe the boys intended it racially. (Too bad they couldn't say that to the powers that be, right?).
They promised me no one else would know about the consequence except for Aiden and the other boy in ISS. Then they said they were counting today as half a day, so the boys could return to class on Friday after lunch. Really?!?! No one will raise a brow about that?? I think not! They said they'd "work through it with them and help them feel good about themselves." I thanked them and explained that they'd done quite enough about Aiden's feelings, and to please not do anything further in that department. I'll take care of it.

I'm SO ANGRY! This is perfect example of political correctness over-riding common sense. There are more details, but they're so jumbled in my head I can't even think straight right now. Did he do something wrong? YES. Does he deserve a consequence? YES. I think one day is more reasonable, though.

Someone talk me down. Am I over-reacting? I feel like Aiden is being made an example of. The assistant principal just last week was promoted to principal next year, and I feel like she has something to prove in her abilities to be politically correct. He has perfect attendance, straight A's, only good things said about him from his teacher. None of this was accounted for. No one stood up for his character. So. ANGRY.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Well, we finally decided it was a good idea to take the plunge and take the kidlets to the science museum. They've been really bugging us to take them to the Grossology exhibit, which is closing this week.  Since Aiden has a birthday coming up and it was Spring Break (which I'm so glad is OVER), we did it. We gathered Kassidi (my right-hand girl), her mom, and brother to come. Then we asked my friend, Aimee, if her kidlets would like to come, too.  I could not have asked for a better day. Really, it was WONDERFUL!

I think the kids' favorite part was definitely learning about burping, farting, peeing and vomiting.  I'm adding a ridiculous number of pictures here because, well...I like them and it's been a while since I've had some decent pictures to add. I hope you enjoy.  There are, of course, captions where they're needed.

Courtney, Kass, and Amber with my little heathens in the food court.

Here is Liam crawling down the esophagus slide. Yes, you read that correctly.

And, here he is coming out the rectum tunnel. Yes, you read that right too.

CJ's FAVORITE part was this fart machine. He laughed and laughed making the farts happen.

Aiden, Devin, and Judge didn't mind the fart machine either.

CJ scaled the zit and scab wall like a pro.  We were really glad we ate before going to grossology.

Amber and Courtney helped Liam and Drezden enjoy the nasal cavity. Note the snot dripping down the back.  Classy, right?

Rachel LOVED Urine: The Game (You're in the game, get it?)  It was an interactive game where you have to fight off the urine stuff coming at you. Red blood cells, things that looked like rocks, and I have no idea what else came flying at her.

Drezden really liked Cyberville.  He played on the computers as if he had a clue in the world what was going on.  I think those headphones may have been a little big for him.

Here was our whole rascally group.  I set the self-timer on the camera and just prayed we'd get a decent picture. It came out pretty well if you don't count Aiden's weird photobomb over there in the corner. Silly kid.

As much as he can be a total nut sometimes, Aiden is a really wonderful big brother. He spent a good amount of time showing Liam how the draw bridge works.

Rachel enjoyed the science playground. She wasn't quite tall enough for the friction wall, though.

Drezden wasn't tall enough, either.

Liam thought he was super cool because he could spin the wheel and make the organ go.  I couldn't tell how well he heard it, but it doesn't seem like that mattered much.  He just loved spinning the wheel.

We found some great trees to climb for pictures. I love this one of Aiden.  

This picture inspired me to cut their hair the very next morning, but I love how big they've gotten.  They're sitting on a dinosaur foot here.  

Look closely. What is wrong with this picture? I'm pretty sure I need to submit this one to Awkward Family Photos or something.

He has just gotten so big! I'm so proud of my little tornado on feet! 

I'm pretty sure he was plotting something here. 

Devin, Aiden, and Judge thought they were pretty cool sitting up in that tree. It gave me a heart attack, though.
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Friday, March 11, 2011

This is What Happens When Your Sister Dresses You


The other day I was cleaning the kitchen while Liam napped, and Rachel and Drezden played in her room upstairs. About twenty minutes into their play, she came running down excitedly announcing that I just had to come right away and see what she'd done.

This photo is pretty much what I saw. She had him dressed from head to toe like a Stepford Wife. He had the cooking hat, the pretty little apron, and the matching oven mit. The kid was rearing to go! They were both far too proud of themselves.

The funny thing is that CJ wore that very apron to school today, as well as a pair of Rachel's purple flowery leggings and a pink Easter hat. In his defense, though, today was Freaky Friday at school.
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Bye Bye Binky!

For as long as we've had children, we've almost always also had binkies in the house. For those who are unfamiliar with the term, this is the children's pacifier. Their sucky thing. Their mute button. Their plug. In short, for the first couple of years of their lives, this thing has been their best friend.

Everywhere we've been for the past several years, we've had to make sure we had a binky on hand. If by some tragic chance, we happened to forget to bring it with us, bad things would happen. By bad, I mean nearly apocalyptic. There is weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth. The kids cry, too.

If the child were to lose his or her binky in the middle of the night, Byron and I would often be found on our hands and knees looking under cribs, behind beds, in toy boxes, and in every nook and cranny we could think of to try and find the beloved pacifier.

CJ and Rachel were the two hardest to break of the habit, but I was starting to think Drezden would be pretty challenging, too. It was really hard to break Drezden of the habit when Liam was still using his binky at night. Drezden would find one around the house during the day and insist that he needed it for himself, even awake.

Two and a half weeks ago, something wonderful happened. Liam got his tonsils and adenoids removed and was in pain. I'm not saying the pain part was good, but it did lead to good things. He was so sore that he felt the need to chew on everything in sight. In a matter of three days, he'd chewed the tips off of just about every binky in the house. There was some whimpering and some tears and a few restless nights, but I'm proud to report now that both children have been binky-free for just over a week now.

Honestly, I thought these two were going to need a twelve step program complete with sponsors and mentors and mottos they'd have to repeat daily. Who knew taking out that useless hangy thing in the back of his throat would be all it would take to break them of the habit. Now, if we could just talk about toilet training...

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Family Night Fun

Well, we've finally gone and done it. We have managed to get a regular routine of having family night once a week on a regular basis. In our faith, it's encouraged to have "Family Home Evening" every Monday (or whenever you can fit it if Mondays just don't work). We've tried it on and off in the past and never gotten it to take off, but now it's really working.

Who knew an hour a week of real quality family time could be so exhausting and fun all at the same time!?!? I took cues from my friend, Tracey, and created a "Family Home Evening" book. We use it to guide us each week. One person gets to conduct our "meeting" by welcoming everyone, choosing someone to do a prayer, someone to read a scripture, someone to lead a song of their choice, someone to make a snack, someone to tell us what acts of kindness they've seen in our house over the week, and someone to do an activity (that may or may not have some sort of lesson hidden in it). We also use the book to write down all the important events that have happened over the week.

So far, the book has documented a science fair (Aiden got fifth place in the fifth grade out of 36 entries and CJ got 3 place in first grade out of not very many entries!), school plays, pinewood derby entries, Byron marking his ten year anniversary with his company, Liam having his tonsils out, and a whole variety of other silliness that was somehow important to the children or us.

Activities we've done so far have included making our own Valentine bags and then putting a note a day in each person's box for a week, making a care package for two missionaries, learning about money using pony beads as currency, and we spent one week brainstorming what we could do to help the family of a dear friend who had become critically ill. (She had a miraculous recovery, by the way, and is back home with her family now.)

I'm hoping to start adding pictures and details on a regular basis just from the silly things we do on Family Night. No matter what, there's no going back now. All the kids are addicted to their Monday night time with Mom and Dad and I'm pretty sure there would be some sort of ugly mutiny if we opted not to do it anymore. That said, I wouldn't want to give it up. I think there will be some amazing memories and laughter that comes from our weekly family night fun.

That's One Way to Get a Girl...Scout

A couple of weeks ago, a little girl in Aiden's grade came by selling girl scout cookies. I don't know about anyone else, but a I can not say no to a girl scout cookie. Ever. (I've tried, and just fail miserably). I took a few minutes to look over the order form full of over-priced confections to be sure I'd ordered everything I wanted. After the little girl left, Aiden happened to mention that she goes to his school and is in his grade.

Yesterday the cookies came in, and Aiden spotted her down the street preparing to deliver. He came running in and yelled to put some better pants on Drezden and make sure his glasses were straight. "Reese thinks Drezden is so cute and wants to meet Liam." Since when did Aiden care if anyone thought his little brothers were cute??

He kept her at the door for about ten minutes having Drezden do tricks like make fist, bump it into her fist, and then pretend to have it explode. He had Liam wave and play peek-a-boo. THEN he slyly turned to her and said, "They're available if you want to come play with them again sometime". She smiled and said she'd be coming back.

That's right, ladies and gentleman. My ten year old just pimped out his baby brothers in order to get a cute little blue-eyed, brown-haired, freckle-faced girl scout to come back over. AND IT WORKED! Later he asked me if I liked her and I casually said that I thought she seemed nice. "I kind of like her, too. She's sort of pretty." was his response. Yeah, dude. I already noticed that you like her when you gave your little brothers an ounce of attention because she was here. He promptly ran out the door to play with his other friends the minute she left. Liam and Drezden didn't seem to mind. They were just happy that he'd played with them for a while AND that some cute girl scout gave them attention.

Do you think having your kid on really good terms with a girl scout would qualify a mom to get cheaper cookies? Hmmmm....