Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday gumbo

Busy month:

- Volunteered twice with the 1st graders. The best kind of surprise to Ben.
- Trip to DC to visit Air and Space and hang out with the Hahn family
- Election night celebration with my hopeful political junkie
- Read three books, a record for any month in 2012
- Lots of daily reassurances to Ian that we are not going to a car wash after an epic toddler meltdown
- Family trip to Great Wolf Lodge.  Ian Vinson = proven fearless once again
- Art classes for Ben. I've never seen him so excited and proud of himsel.
- Lots of time enjoying fall leaves on  family walks in the neighborhood in the lingering warm weather
- Missed keeping up with online photo class. Have made the decision to try to capture all the treasure hunts in 2013. No intention to post, just to keep for myself and continue learning to take better pictures.
- Moved gym membership to a cheaper option, went more in the last 30 days than the last 3 months.
- Final minor procedure with plastic surgeon.  Done. Finished. Very content.
- Thanksgiving with my brother. What I wouldn't do to live closer.

Much of November as well as most of 2012 has been defined by working WITH Ben and FOR Ben for the best possible outcome with his ADHD.  By our measure at home, he's been calmer with very few outbursts of anger and frustration.  Today we will meet with the LDC director to consider a medication change and then the 2nd meeting with his counselor to finish outlining a treatment plan.  Part of me wants to change meds as he continues to loose weight with little appetite. Part of me wants to stay put as the behavior, a driving issue for our original action, seems to evened out.

All of me is very, very tired of anxiety filled, sleepless nights worrying.

I'm welcoming December with the genuine joy and excitement the boys have about the holidays.  We've gotten a head start reading a holiday book by the Christmas tree this week.  It is tradition I remember from my mom that I want to pass to the V boys.

It's a quiet place after busy, trying days. It's a starting point for a holiday season to focus on the time together over any gift I can purchase.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Happy little trees

Yesterday after Ben's therapy appointment we stopped by a local craft store for fake magnolia leaves for the apple board in progress. 

I asked Ben if he wanted to look at art supplies and add anything to his Christmas list.  Our method in the last couple of years is to let him take pictures to his heart's content and then draw the list from his top pictures.  I cannot tell you how much whining this curbs.

He did and proceeded to take pictures with my phone (mostly blurry, as he was skipping down the aisles snapping everything he saw).

Then he stopped and picked up this and commented, "what is wrong with that man's hair?"

I got nothing other than I busted out laughing.

Once home I pulled up some vintage Bob Ross online for him to watch and he again was completely focused on his hair.

Never mind that EVERY.SINGLE.PAINTING looked identical and was ruined in the last 5 minutes of the show when he would paint a ginormous honking tree in the foreground.

Make that a happy little tree.

Just in case you need a good laugh, check out below.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Probably not going to wash it off anytime soon

I lost a very cheap but sentimental watch at the NC State Fair 3 years ago. Bill had given me this watch for some holiday back when we had tons of student loans and not much else to our names.

After loosing weight and not resizing, the watch was more like a bracelet and was a daily reminder of  how hard I had worked. I was very sad when I lost it.  Part of me was lazy in not replacing the watch.  I got used to not being time bound the year I stayed home with Ian.

Last summer as I was packing for Kenya I realized that my travel alarm had long been lost and since I wasn't taking my phone I needed some way to wake up.  If you are curious our rooms had neither a phone or clocks. We did have one working plug for the entire room of 3 women.

So enter my cheap, Target sport watch to be used as an alarm, watch for Kenya time as well as time back home.  Once home I've continued to wear this cheap watch for a couple of reasons:

1.  I set the two alarms for 6:30 am- get out of the house for work   5:00 pm last chance to leave work and still make pick up by 6 pm with expected traffic

2.  It's a daily reminder of being in Kenya, of the families, the teachers, the kids.  I didn't realize until after I got home that I had gotten orange paint on the strap from the day we were doing hand prints with the village kids. I kept the 2nd time setting to always know what time it is in Michura.  

Sunday I attended the 2013 trip interest meeting at church. I am all in for going again but the timing is horrible.  The only trip I can do during the summer the departure date is the day AFTER the last teacher workday and start to summer break.  The idea of starting an physically demanding and emotionally draining trip on an empty tank gives major pause.

In the meantime besides my paint splattered, cheap watch, our family has continued to correspond with Siprin, the 12 year old girl our family is sponsoring her educational opportunities.  We exchange letters, photos, artwork from the boys, and messages written on whiteboards.  The 410 Bridge contact that comes once a month to the village prints out the messages and takes into the village along with other supplies. We are not allowed to pass any actual items, only correspondence.  Ben has especially gotten into wanting to help, for which my heart is full.

I think about Siprin everyday. I pray for her family, her safety, my hope that today she is at school and not having to stay at home and help with her siblings. If there is anyway to see her and return to Michura, it is a top priority for 2013. My last words to her in that amazing final day rainstorm were I would see her again. 
I want to hold myself to that promise.

In the meantime my paint splattered watch and a handful of pictures are enough to maintain a connection for this very important relationship.

Monday, November 26, 2012

A holiday not stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey

A few Thanksgivings ago Bill and I gutted a room ripping up carpet, painted, cleaned out in preparation to move Ben to a big boy room and ready a nursery for Ian.  I remember being insanely proud of all we accomplished in a few short days.  Granted we don't have a baby on the way but we attempted to make the most of the days at home taking advantage of the quiet before the next 30 days of holiday insanity.

Over the past few days what did we do?

-Ordered holiday cards, updated mailing list, and purchased stamps

-Went through the final load of stuff from my mom's house and donated about 95% to charity.  I did pause as I handed over her wedding dress but am hanging onto the box of piano music in hopes of finding a new home for the scores of books, many with new music

-took several walks with the dog, with the kids enjoying the sunny and warm weather
- prepped 3 freeze ahead meals

-worked out 3 times at the gym (this should be a post as exercise continues to be a stumbling point)
-tried to get caught up on Superhero Photo homework and uploaded some assignments

-graded, planned a new unit, including spending a couple of hours at school Sunday

-Bill took Ben to see Wreck it Ralph 

-watched an enormous amount of Breaking Bad and American Horror Story after kido bedtime

-met up with friends to see Lincoln (go see this movie even if you hate history, it's amazingly good)

-sorted through, cleaned out/organized all Halloween decorations and stored 

-put up all holiday decorations inside and out minus the new (fake) apple board which is to be made this week once I finish buying board and paint

-Hit one Black Friday sale at midnight Friday (Ulta for Bare Minerals at 75% off).  I was up anyway after watching American Horror Story (so, so good and so, so scary)

-Started massive toy clean out to be continued before Santa's arrival

-Attempted a potty bootcamp with Ian, but abandoned it on Day 3 as Ian was not interested and was being a typical toddler: whiny, obstinate, basically a joy.  

Next attempt over the winter break on potty camp, take 2.  I seriously don't have it in me to even attempt it before the next break.   

Overall a busy but not insane Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Harvest Table 2012: The Obvious is Never Tiresome of Repeating

Thanksgiving Day 2012 was filled with children who slept late, lingering over a double pot of coffee in pjs at almost noon, watching the boys excitement over the Macy's parade, playing outside on a warm day with our neighbors.

We walked with the boys and the dog on the greenway chatting and catching up.  After lunch the boys had MUCH needed quiet time and Brian and I watched the comedy the Campaign curled up on the couch like as if we had been transported back to many a holiday past watching some movie with our dad after the holiday meal.

Brian had brought a final load from my mom's house to me to sort through.  There was a bit of sadness watching Brian bring in the last items to go through and to be quite honest this whole week I've been playing the, "wishing for one more holiday" game in my head.

We both recalled the last time our whole family was together in that disastrous Thanksgiving meal at mom's physical rehab hospital. The meal where we forgot half the food and feasted on little juices and crackers raided from the nurses station.  The one that was one of the best family meals ever.  Brian pointed to my still very sore finger and declared it's not a holiday in our family without some type of injury or hospitalization.


The food was good and didn't require an enormous effort since I had made and frozen ahead several dishes. I had bought the ham and turkey in advance and after the hand injury, resorted to paper goods to minimize clean up.  I even had the forethought to make several dishes to freeze ahead while I was prepping including an extra PW apple pie and extra pans of dressing.

But it wasn't about the food today. It was about loving every minute of this:

and this

and this

and at the end of the day this being the last thing to see before I go to bed and the first thing in the morning.

I am so incredibly blessed and surrounded by pure, unconditional love from so many people, but especially my family.

A happy Thanksgiving it was, indeed.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Harvest Table 2012- Friends in Low Place

I *intended* to write this post when I got home from having drinks with a couple of teacher friends last night, alas I got home only to watch Frontline, keep reading on my book and well... then this happened this morning before I could think about writing a post.

Yep.  That would be a Thanksgiving casualty.  As I was cleaning up from making mashed potatoes, I thought the hand mixer was unplugged.  Nope.  It wasn't, and instead I cut my finger resulting in 8 stitches and some serious swelling and pain the rest of the day.  Needless to say I purchased disposable plates and have phoned in the rest of the T day dinner.

The culprit of the injury was a brand spankin' new mixer that my friend had given me when she heard of a soup arm-burning trying to blend batches minus the proper kitchen equipment.  My friend Katie is awesome like that, leaving little gifts on my desk with kind notes and the recipient of the many yummy foods she demonstrates to her Foods I students.  She makes long days at work sweeter in ever way.  When she texted me to ask what happened, I immediately wanted her to know that outside of the injury, that my mashed potatoes were the best ever thanks to her generosity.

I am beyond blessed with adult friendships.  When we picked up our lives in 1999 I never thought I would replace my close college and high school relationships.  I was unbelievably lonely those first months in NC.  Slowly as I found work, returned to grad school, began teaching and had kids, friendships were an added bonus.  Adult friendships are harder to maintain, given the demands of work, housekeeping, spouse schedules, and the ever present needs of kids.

I  have made cultivating friendships a priority, even if it's only a quick text or FB message to check in.  I try to make regular contact to meet up, even if I'm tired or could negotiate the time would perhaps be spent staying on top of school/house work. I am blessed that in return I have friends who have become surrogate family to me.

To my friends who have listened to me with non judgement and have given me a soft place to fall, thank you.

To my friends who have continued to ask me about life on the other side of my mom's death, or Ben's issues, even when the answer is not a quick, easy to hear response, thank you.

To my friends whom I have worked at a prior schools thank you for wanting to maintain contact and getting together, thank you.

To my friends who check in on me before leaving work or leave me notes on my windshield joking about who made it out first, thank you.

To my friends who brought food, stopped by to visit me, helped me with the boys while I was recovering from surgery, thank you.

To my friends who helped financially and spiritually support me make the journey to Kenya, thank you.

To my friends, some I only know online, who stop by this space to read and sometimes comment on the mundane of my life, thank you

When I pulled out my camera last night and told my friends that I wanted to capture a quick picture, but not of them, they looked surprised.  Instead I wanted to capture evidence of the time and energy spent talking, listening, usually enjoying a drink, being thankful of the friends that mean so much to my life.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Harvest Table 2012- An unlikely place to be thankful

Here. My 2nd home for a good 10 hours a day, 5 days a week, occasionally Sundays as well, for 10 months of the year.

I'm thankful in the continuing faltering economy when others are unemployed or underemployed, that I have have steady and reliable work. 

Work is work, but most days I like what I do, I like working with students. I love getting to teach something I am passionate about with the autonomy to teach how I want from a supportive administration. 

Last week I organized conferences with students who are failing my class.  It was a herculean task to find mutual time agreeable to all parties including asking counselors/administration.  While I didn't get to everyone, I hope to jumpstart the 2nd part of the semester for those failing.  

Having now been on the other side of these uncomfortable meetings I think I bring more of a listening ear than ever before.  One of the admin said to me later, you go the extra mile for some of our most difficult kids.  Thanks, it is always nice to feel appreciated in a career often trivialized. 

We are doing a mock trial today.  Yes, strategically planned for the often off-the-chain craziness the day before a holiday.  It's one of the favorite things I do and culminates in taking a class picture that I keep for myself. 

After what feels like a gazillion students to have passed through my classes, it a reminder that I hope they leave a little more knowledge and a bit of positive in the often awkward high school experience. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Harvest Table 2012

A church we used to attend celebrated Thanksgiving week with a community service in which members brought something to share (usually jams, baked goods, or sewing) and left them around the alter.  Towards the end of the service everyone had the chance to take something else home to enjoy at their own Thanksgiving table.

I really liked this idea and started trying to incorporate the same idea in our home. Before setting my own Thanksgiving table decided to spend a small part of the holiday week thanking those people that make our lives brighter, happier, and often easier.

I really liked several friends posts about the book 29 Gifts and may extend my own Harvest Table week into  December as part of our annual tradition of giving to our community.

To start Harvest Table week I wanted to thank Ben and Ian's teachers.  When I say "you see my children more awake hours of the day than I do 5 days a week, I mean it."  The boys' teachers are a large and powerful force in their social and academic development.  I want to thank them for not only the time they give to each of them, but the unending patience they display.

This year I included a note from each boy and a small basket with homemade strawberry preserves, chocolate truffles, spinach dip mix, and homemade hummingbird bread with cream cheese icing.

Thank you teachers at DDE and PCA for giving of yourselves for our family.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Junior Jazzercise, the Fall Edition

We opted to sit out more sports until T-ball season again to try something new, classes at the Cary Art Center.  Ben loved the their week long summer day camp. Mom has had to accept that his often large pieces of artwork are becoming permanent fixtures in most rooms.  Solutions of how to tenderly throw out kids art accepted. 

*Thinking outloud*  Considering hosting an art gallery showing of his best pieces for some of his friends over the holidays.  Thinking of planning an art themed playdate and before we start let the kids walk room to room viewing his selections.  My thinking is we can pair down the odd 30 or so pieces down to the top 10 to keep. 

This as it seems like a double win to pair down the collection while letting him choose the most important.  Showing to friends would be self esteem building, especially if he plays docent.

We looked through the courses online and picked out three classes.  A basic drawing class teaching "Monsters, Ninjas, and Robots" that he is currently taking on Monday afternoons.  Last Saturday he did a one-day class called, "Bringing the Outside In", using natural items and learning collage technique.  Seen here is a castle built out of bark.  

In December Ben is enrolled in a ceramics class teaching him the basics of using clay.  Remember when we took a chance on the summer Jr Jazzercise class and it wound up being his favorite camp of the summer?  I'm getting the feeling that ceramics is going to be the fall edition.  

Ben keeps asking when the clay class starts and if we can go ahead and start learning at home. The awesome thing is that after he completes the basics class he is allowed to come with a parent on Sundays for kids open studio.  Basically for the price of clay you purchase from the Center the studio time, supplies and firing of pieces is included. 

I cannot tell you how happy it makes me for Ben to be engaged in something positive that he can channel extra energy.  More nights than I can count he is forgoing watching his one tv show to spend working on some type of creation.  My only ground rules are make whatever you want, but you must clean up put away all supplies.  

This past Saturday I also did a parent child class with Ian where we make a turkey for our Thanksgiving table.  Ian helped color the feathers with happy faces and scribbles, paint the dots while I glued all the parts together.  Needless to say a room full of toddlers with art supplies was organized chaos, but Ian left telling me, "I like brother Ben. My turkey."

We finished up our trip with a visit to a local drugstore, the real deal with a soda counter that still serves a killer cherry smash drink and hand dipped ice cream.  While we were waiting, the boys took advantage of the wall of toys beckoning small hands. 

Interestingly there was a student there taking pictures for a school photography project involving landmarks in Cary.  She came over and asked if she could include a picture the boys playing.  Before she could finish telling me about the project, I looked at her and said, " just go for it."

Go for it is my moto with Ben (and Ian as well) on exploring new interests. I'm hoping in making the biggest mess possible they will discover a life long interest in the process. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

* No photo available

We returned late yesterday from an overnight stay at Great Wolf Lodge.  Thanks to a money saving Groupon room rate, mom's kick ass post-Kenya ability to only take exactly the right amount of everything, and Bill's ability to corral the boys off the waterslides, we had a great trip.

So great that I didn't even think about taking one picture to capture the moment Ian looked at the toddler area and then pointed with one finger in the air to the big kid area and said, "I not go baby slide, I big boy.  I go potty, I go big slide."  By the end of the night he had gone down the bigger kid slide into the double digits and was still going strong when Bill finally cut off his fun.

Ben especially enjoyed something we did at Blizzard Beach at WDW, obstacle course over water.  Can we say, watch Wipeout much?  He and I also played basketball in the pool and hung out on the lazy river chatting about who can win at Plants vs. Zombies. What I really liked about Great Wolf Lodge is that you have access to the water park before you can check in and after check out.  We took advantage of both and left completely worn out for the drive home.

Our room was configured so that the boys had a separate "cabin" within our room that included bunk beds.  As this was Ian's first time not his his crib, it took a good hour to get him to stay in the bed.  The reward was both boys slept until 9 am, allowing us to also sleep in as well.

So much win all around.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Two meetings involving Ben

It has been an unbelievably busy week on all fronts.  Earlier in the week we had two meetings about Ben.  First up was a 1st quarter teacher conference then later a parent/therapist meeting to discuss his treatment plan. 

Ben's teacher is pleased with his reading level which has caught back up to put him on grade level! She commented that she was glad we had worked with a tutor for the summer and showed us evidence of his growth.  Ben also has done well with math, and comments regularly that he really likes math. 

Areas for growth include continued work on handwriting, spelling (uh.. he has my DNA, there is little hope.) She also talked about how behavior wise that he is nothing like what she expected. 

Before the mamma bear in me said, "so just what did his previous teacher tell you," the teacher in me replied, "yes, he had a really difficult year and we appreciate everything Mrs S did to work with Ben and stay in daily contact with us.  She only saw Ben on a medication the final weeks of the semester."  I also said that we asked for a placement and naturally would think you would discuss his strenghts and weaknesses before he arrived.

Another positive is that he is not showing any type of anger issues in class.  She is concerned about him yelling out correct answers after repeated redirection and if not acknowledged will turn to anyone around him and tell them, "I knew that."

Ben and I talked about this the other night and as suspected he told me that he wants everyone to know that he is smart, so he yells out answers.  He also said that he feels bad when peers tell him he's not smart.  His teacher commented that Ben is very aware that some students are being pulled out for Gifted programs and asks why he is not getting to go. 

Part of me is sad for him not being at a level to be considered gifted, but the realistic side is thankful that after a year of lagging behind, he is making progress. I will continue to say that I would much rather have an average student who likes who he is more than a honor roll bumper sticker on my car.

That brings me to the other meeting, an in depth discussion with his counselor about what she had gleaned from that crazy, long developmental history as well as her findings after 4 sessions alone with Ben. 

I don't know how much of any of this I want or am ready to post publicly, but Bill and I came away from that meeting knowing that:

1.  We are at the right place for treatment
2.  Early intervention is going to be key for the long run, both academically and socially
3.  We have surely been over our heads in trying to help him by ourselves for a really long time

As suspected there is more than just ADHD on the table, other issues are exacerbated by the symptoms of his hyperactivity. Our real focus has been on his misbehavior only. 

We have more upcoming parent meetings with her as well as the center director to discuss what his treatment plan looks like including taking over his medication management. 

When she used the word years, with a little s, as far as what she would feel is optimal for his treatment, including multiple visits per week, part of me just sunk back in my chair.  While we were not expecting a quick fix I was thinking maybe a 6  month run tops with likely a weekly visit would likely be the recommendation. 

The guilt of just what kind of awesome parent has really kicked in this week, and while I know there are so many more factors that have contributed, I can't help but think that some blame has to lie with parenting. 

Bill and I are committed to doing what is in his best interest regardless of time investment or money.  Neither are an issue to even consider when Ben's well being is at stake.

We have a much needed date night planned over the weekend, as well as an overnight family trip planned to Great Wolf Lodge.  Something tells me a night of waterpark fun is needed by all. 

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

(Almost) Wordless Wednesday

My house around 8 pm, armed with 2 blank electoral maps, blue and red crayons, mom's poster from my classroom (thanks CSPAN!), and one very excited 6 year old.

Around 9 pm, watching the states be called and explaining in simplified terms about how each state gets votes based on how many people live in the state.

As promised after taking a very reluctant Ben to bed just before 10 pm that I would continue to fill in his map and let him know who won.  I wish I could be there when he opens his door to head down for breakfast.

When we were sitting on the steps of the Lincoln memorial Sunday wrapping up our trip, I told him that 4 years before I had gotten to see Mr. Obama take his oath to become President and it was something I would always remember.

I told him that I hoped he would always care about who wants to be the President and when he could vote that he would.  I told him that many important issues would be decided based on how he voted.

While "my guy" won I will not kid myself that Obama's easiest day in office was his 1st term Inauguration Day. Over 200 years ago in another contentious battle to adopt the Constitution, Madison wrote in Federalist #10 of the division that factions would bring to the new nation.

He warned against political divisions from overshadowing the most important matters facing our country. Timely advice for what will be another difficult four years ahead for our nations' leaders.

Let's move forward if at all possible, together.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

May the odds be ever in your favor

Bill reported during volunteering yesterday that Ben asked another parent volunteer about who she was supporting and why.  Bill reported that it took her by surprise and she was kind enough to explain her position.  

That's my boy.  Especially since Ben very politely replied, "I like Mr. Obama, but you can like Mr. Romney, that's ok too."

Ben informed me when he made his ballot that he was voting for Mr. Obama, his friend Dillon, and himself, in that order.

As much as I long to see election predictions on some old school white boards later tonight, I'm settling for a colored in Electoral College map with crayons with my (hopeful) future political junkie.

"If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem"

-Civil Rights Era credo

Please pick a side and vote in your Federal, State, and Local elections.

XOXOXOXOXO--- Your local Civics teacher

Monday, November 5, 2012

DC Weekend: millions of puppets and butt fighting

A big thanks to the Hahn family for letting us stay with them over the weekend.  When I mentioned to Beth back at the end of the summer that I was thinking taking a Saturday day trip to do Air and Space with Ben, she immediately said make it an overnight trip.

Ben and I headed out Saturday morning on the Metro with the intention of doing one museum then meeting up with Beth, William, and Seth later in the afternoon on the Mall.  It was cold and windy and by we had walked to the Capitol, Ben was spent and wanted to be inside.

Beth took us on the driving tour of the monuments and the White House. We spent the rest of the afternoon letting the boys play.  I was so happy that Ben's behavior was spectacular all weekend.  Even when he was cold, he was agreeable and excited to be doing something new.  Go Ben!

I think he told me, "this is the best day ever" at least 8-9 times while in the museum.  I let him decide what we saw and when to leave.  His favorite was any and all exhibits that had something he could manipulate.  He declined to do the flight simulator but did want to watch the video explaining how it worked for a good 15 minutes.

When we left we came came upon two guys with puppets that were talking to each other crossing the street WITH the puppets.  Ben was the first to give them the WTF look with me soon to follow as we stumbled upon the Million Puppet March.

*Note* We saw maybe 30 total puppets, so I have to ask if they exceeded their expectations just a bit

Once back at the Hahn home the boys played lots of educational games  lots of cars crashes and watched some really bad shows.  Several Ben has already asked to put in our Netflix queue.  Ben bestowed his knowledge of the "butt fight", something that obviously my after school care $ is going to help endow.

Sorry Beth, I'll see your awful movie FRED and raise you a butt fight.  At least Ben didn't show them "tackle down" or "bull tag" as well.

Best of all was simply getting to hang out with Beth and talk, for uninterrupted stretches about our kids, parenting struggles, the upcoming election as well as her inside thoughts on the Senate.
Beth, you have a totally cool job.  I'm so jealous.

Ben asked before we left if we could go back to the Lincoln Memorial, or as he in is 6 year old speak, "Giant Mr. Lincoln's house."  So we headed back into town and walked over.  He thought it was really cool.

We wrapped up the morning by sitting on the steps looking out over the Mall and talking about favorite things seen.  It may have been the calmest, most focused I've seen him in months and definitely something to remember when the days are tough.

Thanks Beth and your generous family for opening your home to us.  We hope to come back again to do more museums and to share more inappropriate boy games.  

Friday, November 2, 2012

DC Bound!

Where else would this political junkie want to be days before the election than DC!?

Actually earlier in the fall I had planned a trip with Ben to the Air and Space Museum.  Bill has upcoming weekend events with Y Guides so I thought this was a fair swap.  Plus I've really wanted some one on one time with Ben.

We are DC bound as soon after school today.  Over the past few weeks, we have checked out a few age appropriate books about DC and specifically the White House.  Ben's only request other than visiting the "cool museum with the airplane pictures" is to walk by the White House. He has been asking lots of questions about what the President does and why people vote.

I took Ben with me to early vote last week and talked over what happens at each step.  He made his own ballot and voted for himself.  We have talked a lot in the past weeks about how each side believes in specific ideas and how everyone has a say about how our government works.  We even played 270 to Win when he saw it up on my computer, working on something for class. 

Granted it was a very simplistic conversation about the electoral college but he now wants to watch some of the election returns with me Tuesday and color in a map for the states called before he goes to bed.

Earlier this week I had the chance to attend AP Government training.  A room full of Civics teachers a WEEK before the election sharing resources? 

Better than porn. 

I have loved playing both sides of this election, refusing to talk about who I am supporting and rather facilitating their discussion of the candidates, issues, and potitional outcome.  In the end, I want them to leave with some understanding how political process works and most importantly why they should care. What I think is totally irrelevant.   

One of my past students was at the DNC Convention earlier this year. He sent me a picture from the NC delegation hub with the caption, "I liked politics before I was in your class, I left loving it." Feedback like this makes all the days of write ups, oodles of parent contacts, and grading piles of work worth it.

Score one for future political junkies masquerading as high school students today, maybe two if Ben continues to show an interest.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Pretty Freakin' Sweet

Let's see who got the better deal on Halloween?

Bill: Graciously picked up dinner at the new Chipotle with kids in tow, then took Ben trick or treating with some neighbor friends until everyone was chilled to the bone.

Heather:  Stayed inside a warm house, grading a final stack of essays and hanging out with the littlest (scared) Vinson. Ian opted to stay home, working yet another floor puzzle eating cheese sticks and watching Dinosaur train.  

He agreed to put on his costume for a picture and to visit the neighbors, but was super scared of all the people in masks.  

Once home Bill and I checked over the candy loot and did an abbreviated bedtime.  Both boys were out cold by 9 pm where I caught up on Good Wife and did some research for our weekend roadtrip.

Pretty freakin' sweet, and I'm not just talking about the candy.

PS:  When I saw this picture of Ian all I can think is not a bit of a baby face left, only a little boy. Sniff..