Wednesday, May 21, 2014

An Open Letter of Thankfulness to the Teachers Whom Have Touched Our Lives

1st Day of School
Here I am, the end of yet another school year.  I have done this thirteen times now and each year seems to become shorter the more I experience my children growing.  This year, though, is different.  It differs in a few ways. This year was the first that all six of my kids were sitting in a classroom funded by taxpayer dollars. We spanned kindergarten through senior in high school with quite a few grades in between. This year would be the last for Eric. Graduating in just a few days, he will be venturing into the university world in the fall. This year would be my last (I think) year in kindergarten and all of the firsts that encompass it. This year, would be the thirteenth and  final year spent at our little charter school that we have watched grow during our tenure. You see, next year, my final four children will be moving on to an education under a different roof.

Kindergarten here we come!
As I ponder the letter I need to write to our long time principal for the reasons we are making this change, my heart settles on the people who have altered not only my children's lives but the Hubster's and my lives also. How do I tell them how much they mean to me. I wanted to write a personal note to each and every one of them but, after the time we have spent under their roof, we are talking a lot of letters and not enough time to put my heart into each one. So, here I am, writing, what I hope will be received as a heart felt note filled with appreciation and memories.

To you, the teacher of my child,

I am sure you have heard this quote from me, "We believe that you are our partner in parenting." During the school year, it is you who has the attention of my child for the majority of their day. It is you who has the opportunity to mold my child in a way few do. It is you who revels in my child's success as well as laments in their failures. Over the years each of you has touched our family in your own unique way. That is why this letter is so painful to write. You see, this year will be the final year our family graces your hallways. I want you to know our departure has nothing to do with you nor the effort you have applied to my family. The years spent under your tutelage is priceless and greatly appreciated. No, the motivation for our departure has absolutely nothing to do with the love you have poured out upon my children.

Science Fair Projects are all about family
So, I want to say "thank you". Thank you for the many years of devotion to making parts of my family successful, thus strengthening the rest of it. Thank you for the long hours of questions without answers and answers without questions. Thank you for the hours of personal time you have dedicated to my child. Thank you for the noses wiped, tears dried and scrapes cleaned. Thank you for an ear that listens to not only my child but to me. I know I get excited about things and, at times, forget you have thirty little minions to keep an eye on. I don't think you know just how important your support is to me. Over the years, I have shed tears upon your shoulder and I thank you for your compassion.

Most of all, I want to thank you for the memories...

Sneetches, some with stars and some with none
The day I handed my crying first born over to you on his first day of kindergarten. Tears streamed down my face as the Hubster and I walked through the parking lot to our car, all along my little girl skipped singing, "Next year I get to go to school!" prompting more tears.

Teaming up with me to cure my little socialite of the need to chat during class.

Sticking with our family for 4 years, including summers, and still loving us.

Taking my 2 1/2 year old, strong willed, child number 5 and doing the potty training for me.
Our Graduate!

Allowing me to sit in class all day and make dinner menus for weeks to come, while my 13 year old swears I am staring at the back of his head.

Loving on my kindergartner even when she has hidden your cell phone in the tank behind the toilet.

Letting our very big family take over your classroom on "Book Night" and smiling all the way through.

"Encouraging" our picky eater to try everything on her lunch plate. (even if she cried)

Telling me of the time one of our most challenging children was doing classwork and began, quietly singing "The Rainbow Connection" while one by one his classmates joined in.

Enjoying my loud, boisterous, busy, boy who has no sense of personal space and still being steadfast in your sweet gentle nature.

Granting my young teen daughter the opportunity to assist in the "planning" of your wedding to keep her busy while her siblings were in Homework Club.

Embracing my most precious of children and brushing up on your American Sign Language to do so.

Student of the week shows off her bronze medal
There are so many more I could write about and so many more that I will remember later. Some moments will be spoken of at graduations and weddings. Some will simply bring a tear to my eye. One thing is for sure, without you, none of these precious gifts would be part of our family's history. With out you, our family would not be the same.

Please know that even though our time with you is drawing to an end, you will always, always be held dear to our hearts.

Me and one of your students

With much love and respect,

The mother of your student.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Therapy Thursday: Mirror, mirror on the ????

Needs to be on her knees.
I don't know about yours, but my kids, don't always want to do as they are told.  I know, I know, my kids disobey me? As shocking as it sounds, at any time of the day you can probably find one of my brood of six relishing in rebellion.  Whether it is wake-up time, get-ready-for-school time, get-in-in-the-car time, homework time, chore time, meal time,  bed time, or any time in between, you can be sure a resistance is brewing. Therapy time is when our youngest, chromosomally gifted, girl will most definitely be displaying her defiance.  Finding ways to afford her some independence and yet still get the job done is one of the most imposing facets of my masterpiece called "parenting".

Just because Jillie has an overabundance in the DNA department doesn't mean she is lacking in intelligence. In fact, her sibling she seems to be following intellectually is her 18 year old brother who has been accepted to one of the sought after colleges to study aeronautical engineering. He was also a very independent thinker at her age.  Some days, making her do therapy is just a big, frustrating waste of time.  So, I need to be creative when her therapist "friends" come for a visit.

Now, for a while there, Jillie would not speak to her speech therapist. Her physical therapist was a different story though.  We often joked about combining the two. Before we had to result to that solution we discovered her reflection.  Actually, we discovered that she had discovered her reflection and would sign and speak to it whenever it was available. She found her image everywhere, mirrors, windows, refrigerators, bathtub faucets (as well as that little round piece right below), taillights and, even pizza cutters. So, I took her infatuation for her girlish good looks and applied it to her speech. Thus, I bought a full length mirror and mounted it upon the wall just above the baseboards. That way she could get some good tummy time also.  As she grew I raised the mirror.  When she was learning to stand, I raised the mirror. She loved that mirror so much we were able to take care of physical therapy at the same time.

Years have passed since she first detected her likeness, yet the attraction is still irresistable. As we were getting ready for bed in our hotel room this past weekend, she discovered the mirrored closet door.  After a few pirouettes, karate kicks, and funky dance moves we were able to finally turn out the lights and turn in for the night.

Singing and Signing away

Sunday, May 11, 2014

How do you measure success?

Amazingly, Awesome Travelers
Here I am, about two thirds of my way to our 12 hour destination, riding in the "Party Van" complete with 12 seat belts and hand crank window winders. The Hubster and I are accompanied by our four youngest as well as a trailer full of racing, rowing shells (boats). We hit the road at 3:30 this morning when it was so dark in my hometown that the stars were beaming.  As we belted the children in, it was difficult not to feel a little sorry for myself because the duration of time my head rested on my pillow was only about three hours.  Why so late to bed?  We had to finish packing after returning from the Academic Award ceremony at the biggles high school. There our oldest was decorated with tassels, sashes and cords because of his achievements throughout his four year tenure. The Hubster and I were rewarded by receiving a plaque as a result of our contributions. Don't be mistaken, this was not due to us providing our 200 student charter school with some financial windfall. No, it was because of the time we have spent, as a family making sure the school's rowing crew was operational. 

Sitting on the metal bleachers, my mind wandered as I wondered, "How do I measure success?"   Is it in the trophies and gifts on the wall from those whom are appreciative of our efforts?  Is it in the in the accolades of others whom look at our family and ponder "Just how do they do it?" Is it in a paycheck we receive (if you knew what we live off of the answer to that question would be obvious) or possessions we own, or people we know? As much as these things are all well and good, the Hubster and I base our success upon what we do with what God has given us.  Whether it is children, chores, change or championships our goal is to do our best with what the Lord has provided. 

Our best often consists of late nights comforting friends, confronting people on behalf of a child, spending time listening to the youth both inside and outside of our home encouraging them to rise to the occasion. It consists of wiping noses as well as bottoms, tying shoes and hair.  It means last minute schedule changes and unexpected visitors, driving friends home as well as dropping kids off. Whether it is cold dinners or hot, cold toes or hot foreheads, at any moment we are to be  shining as best as possible. What we don't realize while in the midst of the job entrusted to us, is others are watching. Our children's friends, coworkers and even strangers are able to observe our every move. It is then that our success shines for us. All too often it is our failures can make us look dim. It is then, though, that God, if we allow, takes the difficult and turns it into the glorious.

Now I have about an hour left of my journey and, once again, I have attempted to put forth my best. I have missed blogging so much these past few months but my Lord has given me the subjects of many future posts. I leave you, today, with one final thought.

"Strength and dignity are her clothing, and she laughs at the time to come."
Proverbs 31:25
My Biggles getting set to row together for one last time!  (sniff, sniff)