Thursday, February 28, 2013

Another school tour

This past month, I have been busy making arrangements for everything that had to be done as far as getting my son into kindergarten in the fall. But I had to keep reminding myself of something else: I have more than one child switching schools in the 2013-14 school year.

My youngest will be entering elementary school and my oldest will be entering middle school.

Wow! Middle school! My oldest child will be going into 6th grade. How fast the time flies. I still remember her as a little baby.

So, yes. I had to take care of business with both of them as far as school changes are concerned. And today was the very last thing to do as far as what had a deadline. Today, my daughter and I toured the middle school – that is, the middle school she wants to go to. She has her heart set on this school and both of us are going to be disappointed if the lottery decides that she has to go to the OTHER middle school. Because after seeing this school today, I think it’s perfect for her! Even better, their mascot is the wolf, my favorite animal.

We ended up arriving for the tour a bit late. Apparently, the clock at this school is 8 minutes faster than the clock at my son’s preschool (where I had dropped him off before heading to this tour). But it was all good; we still got to get the papers we wanted and still get information during the meet-and-greet. We asked questions and discussed the things that they talked about on the screen. Jennifer was excited to learn that she’d be able to take classes such as Film, Publications and Band. She’s definitely interested in those! (She has actually been spending a lot of time on this one web site that allows her to create animated cartoons. Neat stuff!) she knows her future is in art (something this school excels at) but she’s also interested in Journalism and Filmmaking.

There was a lot of Q&As after the talk. Jennifer told me that one of the dads pointed out that his daughter was already studying Algebra and Trigonometry and wanted to know if she could be put into Advanced Math instead of regular math. When I learned this, I was surprised! The kid was probably Jennifer’s age, and she was a math whiz! Wow!

After the talk, we all walked around the school. Jennifer remembered one of the gyms because when she had played basketball, she once had a game there (and I had been sick with the flu at that time but still cheered her on all the same). We were really impressed by the school and especially by the size of the library and that it had a Science Wing. When we were done checking out the school, we asked the man in charge some extra questions.

After the tour was over, we went to the office and talked with the secretary I’d met with on my last visit. She helped me with certain areas of the School Choice Form I was not clear about then showed us a sample schedule of the types of classes 6th graders take. She also answered extra questions Jennifer had. 

After that, we checked out signs, awards and art displays in the hallway, then we went out to lunch. We talked about the tour during lunch and Jennifer kept going on about how much she LOVED the school. We are both hopeful she will be able to go to that school in the fall.

And I hope my son can go to the school of choice for elementary, as well.

Now we just have to wait for April to find out.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Bad boys

I know that it’s okay to ask for help from time to time, but I really don’t like doing it. I try to do things on my own. There has just been WAY too many times in my life when people I thought I could trust or rely on ended up letting me down. So I try to do things on my own.

And I know that parenting should not be one of them, but I DO try to do this parenting thing on my own. With stuff I don’t know, I research or surf the Web or read books or check out articles, etc. And people just throw advice at me without asking. And that’s all well and good, as long as I’m not the one asking!

But today, I had to change that. I HAD to ask for help. I was . . . out of ideas, at my wit’s end and fed up, because of something really bad that happened with my son last night at the grocery store. Where everybody had to watch!!!

The first time he had a meltdown at a grocery store, I prayed that would be the only time.

But last night … oh my God. It was terrible. I just wanted to grab him and get OUT of there. But he was having a MAJOR meltdown. On top of that, he got angry at me and was pushing me!

He’d never done that before and I was shocked. Where did my sweet little boy go? He turned into something else right before my eyes!

I was embarrassed, frustrated and humiliated. I was also scared that someone would call the police and report it, as well as angry at myself for NOT knowing what to do or how to fix the situation.

It was awful.

When we got home, he got the Riot Act from his father after I told his dad what happened. Then, in the morning, he got it from me (and I told him he is NOT allowed to push his parents). Then, later in the day, he got it from his big sister, because she had heard about what happened when I told his father.

And that was not the end of that. I was so distraught and upset about it last night, I ended up having a bad dream. I dreamed that an older Jesse got mixed up with the wrong gang and was causing trouble and I could not do anything about it. Might as well have slapped FAILURE on my forehead!

After I woke up from that dream, I was too upset to go back to sleep. I did try to go back to sleep, because it was early, but I couldn’t.

So I got online and sent my older sister an SOS. My older sister has three boys (two of them are over 18) and so I figured she might have “been there, done that” with this kinda thing.

Jesse is my only boy! I have no experience parenting boys! Sure, I’ve babysat boys, but that’s not the same thing. And I’ve read books on raising boys, but that’s not what I need to learn how to raise a boy! I need someone who has been there.

And I gotta say, these experiences have given me a new sense of respect for parents out there who have raised boys. They deserve a medal! Seriously, give yourselves a pat on the back!

This stuff is hard. But I’m not going to give up on my son. I love my son so much and the more he pushes me away, I will love him even more! I want him to grow up to be a good person. I don’t want him to end up in juvenile hall by the time he’s 10!

So, yes, I did email my sister. I was nervous, of course. I thought she’d laugh at me for being SO clueless or rub it in on how hard it is to parent a boy.

But that didn’t happen. My sister was very understanding and very concerned. She was also helpful. She shared some good pointers on how to handle certain behavior problems I’ve been having with my son. And I am grateful to her for that. I’m grateful to her for not being sarcastic or anything. (Thanks, Jeanette!)

So I’m going to follow through on her advice. If I have to cut back on how much work I am doing with my books, so be it. I have to work on things with my son and set things right. I just hope that there will be some improvement and a lot less of the public meltdowns.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Love day

Today is Valentine’s Day and while we don’t usually make a huge fuss over this day, we do make it a point to show each other we care. And it’s not just me and my husband exchanging Valentines; we ALL exchange Valentines in the family. The parents and the kids give each other something special to show that we all love each other.

And I think “love” is an important message we need more of in this world, especially with all the terrible things going on in it. All of the violence, murders and wars going on. We need some more love in this world!

Recently, I was shocked to learn that a local elementary school had canceled Valentine’s Day. Who on earth would want to cancel a day meant to show love? Especially in a setting where bullying, violence and shootings can happen. We need to teach children to learn how to like, even love, each other, not hate each other or create death lists or want to kill each other. So I thought it was a bad call for this school to do such a thing. (A lot of schoolchildren are still trying to heal from and understand the Sandy Hook school shooting.)

As for Jennifer’s school, I asked her if they were going to cancel Valentine’s Day there, too. She said, “We get to choose.” Basically, everybody at her school could participate in Valentine’s Day activities or not. It was totally an optional thing. I was glad to learn this, but Jennifer was not all that eager to go crazy about Valentine’s Day at her school. She is not exactly into the whole “love” thing. And I told her, well, then just be extra nice today. Be extra kind to everybody. It doesn’t HAVE to be about love; it can be about like. (She ended up making Valentines for her best friends, as well as a teacher’s aide who didn’t get any Valentines from anybody.)

Valentine’s Day was also celebrated at Jesse’s preschool, as well. In fact, they have been doing projects related to Valentine’s Day all week and today they all gave out Valentines. After he came home today, he kept reading and rereading his Valentines with a big smile on his face.

They really DO make people feel special.

As for us, I got my husband a book set as well as chocolate for Valentine’s Day. He got me chocolates and chocolate covered strawberries (which is what I asked for – yummy!). Husband and I also went out to lunch. The kids got me flowers and their dad chocolates. We gave the kids chocolates. And, of course, we all wished each other a Happy Valentine’s Day and told each other “I love you.” (Well, I already tell the kids that every day!)

It was a nice “love day” for all of us but of course we don’t need a special day of the year to remind each other that we love each other. We already do that every day. But getting a lot of chocolate in one day was definitely a nice perk for celebrating Valentine’s Day.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lucky number 13?

Today is the 13th day of February. When I pointed out to my daughter that today was 2-13-13, she said that it was appropriate to start with the number “2,” because there were TWO thirteens in today's date!

Now, for some, the number “13’ is unlucky. I don’t really subscribe to that belief and always shrugged it off when people mentioned that it was Friday the 13th. Well, maybe for some people, 13 IS unlucky, but it hasn’t really been all that unlucky for me.

Especially after today, because three awesome things happened for me today.

The first thing that happened is that I wrote and submitted an article this morning. Big deal, you might be thinking. But it IS a big deal for me. It has been so long since I have written an article, let alone submit it somewhere! I have been sooo busy working on books and the PR gig. It was nice to write an article again. Even nicer to send it off to a market!

The second good thing that happened today is that I signed and sent off the contract for a new poetry book. Yay! I talked about this book on my writing blog so no need to get into details about it here. But now it has OFFICIALLY been accepted.

The third awesome thing that happened today is that I am now a ghostwriter for books. Woo-hoo! Thus far, I have ghostwritten blog posts and articles, and now I’m going to ghostwrite books! Today I learned it’s going to happen after all and I have my very first client. Sooo happy about this! It has been my dream to ghostwrite books!

As for my daughter, she had a so-so day. She lost the art contest her drawing had been entered in and she was pretty bummed about that. I told her that no matter what happened, I still thought she was a winner! 

And she had three awesome things happen for her today, as well.  She made a short film with her little brother, she landed an opportunity to be interviewed about her book, AND ... she got a contract for her next book BEFORE the publisher even saw it! I was blown away when that happened. I told her that in all my years writing books, I have NEVER seen that happen. She is THAT good! Yay, Jen!

So she had some good things happen for her today.

So, with us, do we think a 13th day is bad luck? Hmm, nah, not really. Today actually wasn’t such a bad day after all, even despite getting hit with the number 13 two times on this day!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Doctor Who?

For a long time, I have been a big fan of the TV show, Doctor Who. I remember watching it as a kid and I have watched it on and off through the years. But the one thing is that I never saw the very first episode of Doctor Who. Not ever!

Recently, the BBC Network aired a Doctor Who 50th anniversary special, "Doctor Who Revisited." In this program, they aired the very first episode of Doctor Who. Unfortunately, I was only able to catch bits and pieces of it as it aired on TV, being as busy as I am with writing, keeping house, running errands and taking care of the kids. However, I DVRed it, thinking I could watch it later.

But the thing of it is, my life has been so insanely busy lately, later kept becoming later and later!

My husband will occasionally clear out the DVR recordings to make room for other stuff and he was doing that today. In the past, I or Jennifer got upset if he deleted something we had not watched yet. So today he had me and Jennifer watch as he went through everything and started asking if we’d already watched it yet BEFORE deleting it.

The thing of it is, Jennifer is THE huge Doctor Who fan in the family, so of course he asked Jennifer about the “Doctor Who Revisited” program to see if she had seen it. He didn't ask me, he asked her. I was trying to get his attention and trying to tell him that I wanted to watch that and to NOT delete it, but he ignored me. And went ahead and deleted it.


I was SO upset. I even cried a little. But my tears were because I had just been brushed off like that. My voice did not matter. What I wanted did not matter.

Later, he told me that Jennifer is the one who watches Doctor Who. I told him I watch it sometimes, too. My life is busy, I hardly EVER have time to watch any TV! And anyway, he and the kids hog up the TV every day. I hardly get to watch anything on TV! And I explained WHY that particular program was important to me. He said it’ll come on again sometime. Uh, no. It won’t. It was the 50th anniversary special. I seriously doubt it will come on again this year! And good luck finding the very first episode of Doctor Who closed captioned on DVD. Sure, they put old TV shows on DVD, but hardly ever do they have captions for the deaf viewers.

Grr! I was so upset. I said I’d never watch TV again AND I went ahead and deleted all the other programs I had saved for the time I HOPED to get to watch TV at some point in this lifetime!!

But now, forget it. I don't care anymore. THEY can have the dang TV. I will just read a book. At least no one can delete books.

...Well, I MIGHT watch TV again. If the program is aired again. And this time, I will cancel EVERYTHING ELSE to sit down and watch the whole thing.

UPDATE! I just checked the listings and this particular program, with the VERY FIRST episode of Doctor Who, will be on again on 2/24!!!


Thank you, TV people.

All of this has made me realize I really SHOULD make time to watch an occasional TV program. I know the kids like to watch TV and the husband likes to watch TV, but so do I! And I think I really SHOULD tell everyone, you know, let me see AT LEAST ONE THING on TV each day. Just one thing. Please.

Especially if that one thing is an episode of Doctor Who!    

Sunday, February 03, 2013

A mean girl, a clapping song, dead dogs and football

Last night, Jennifer spent the night at a friend’s house for a birthday party sleepover. I went to pick her up today and on the way home, she shared with me something shocking that happened while she was there. One of her former friends was violent to the other girls. In fact, she strong-handled one girl then sat on her chest. The girl ended up having a hard time breathing and needed attention from her grandmother after the girl was removed from her chest. She also wrestled too roughly with other girls, and bit two girls, as well! In fact, Jennifer is one of the girls that got bitten.

My jaw nearly dropped to the floor when she told me all of this. I was shocked! I was also appalled that one of the girls got hurt so badly that she ended up crying from the pain.

I could NOT believe this behavior was even tolerated. I was furious!! And I wanted to know WHY the adult in charge did not send that girl home. If that was happening at my house, I would tell the girl she was not welcome there and had to go home. But apparently, these girls had to fend for themselves.

When we got home, I talked about it with Jennifer. Jennifer kept saying that this girl bosses her around and that she has to do what this girl says.

“That’s bullcrap!” I told her. “That girl  is NOT the boss of you! You are your own person.”

“Not when she’s around,” Jennifer said.

I told Jennifer, “You don’t need friends like that!”

She told me, “She’s not my friend.”

“Good!” I said. I shook my head then said, “I don’t want you playing with that girl and I don’t want you to hang out with her. Seriously! Avoid!”

I was seething over the whole thing and was very close to calling the girl’s mother to raise hell about it. But then I realized that if I did that, then Jennifer would be labeled a tattletale and that would make things worse. So I had to figure out some way to resolve this problem, because this mean girl is getting away with hurting other kids! (Well, except for my friend’s daughter. Jennifer told me my friend’s daughter would punch this girl in the nose if she was violent towards her.)

Other things happened today that are of note mentioning. One thing is something interesting that happened with Jesse.

I was reading an article in the newspaper today when Jesse came up to me, took my hands and made me clap them 5 times, in a certain beat. I smiled and said, “That’s the Bingo song clap.”

“What’s the Bingo song?” he asked.

“You remember the song, Bingo? About a dog named Bingo?”

He shook his head, so I started to sing “B-I-N-G-O” as I clapped my hands along with it. It took a while and more of me singing the rest of the words until he remembered the song and started clapping along. We used to sing that song together when he was younger, as well as some other songs. Thinking on that, I asked him, “Remember the song, Old MacDonald?”

He shook his head.

So I started singing, “Old MacDonald had a farm....”

He smiled and sang, “E-I-E-I-O!”

Ah, he remembered that one, I started to think there must be something about these children’s songs, such as a clapping pattern or letter combinations, that help the children to remember them, just as nursery rhymes were commonly sung in a poetic form to make it easier for children to remember them. I was curious why he remembered the clapping pattern but not the song.

Later in the day, I was sitting at the table with the children and we were eating a snack. I was remembering the movie I’d watched the night before with Jesse, Frankenweenie, and I remembered the part where Victor buried his dog, Sparky, in a pet cemetery. I remembered watching that scene and reflecting on how so glad I was that I have made sure our dog, Chewie, will have a final resting place in a pet cemetery. I mentioned this to Jennifer and she frowned. “I don’t want Chewie to be buried in a pet cemetery,” she said.

I almost choked. WHHAAA??? After I went to all that trouble to arrange it because she wanted that for him, now se says she doesn’t! (Of course, it is not up to her, but I want something we will all be happy with.) So we talked about this and decided we would like to have something more personal for him when his time comes. I have contacted the people at the pet cemetery and I told them I might be canceling my contract with them. I told Jennifer I would give her some time to think this through and discuss it some more before I actually cancel it.

Aside from that, I watched the Super Bowl game today. Usually, I defer the TV to the husband and kids, but today I told them, “You guys hog the TV all week, and it’s MY turn to watch TV!” Heck, yeah! My favorite team, the San Francisco 49ers, was playing, so Mama was gonna watch her game! And I watched the whole thing, too. In fact, even my husband brought me a plate of honey BBQ chicken wings and a glass of Coke while I watched the game. (*swoons*) At one point, I got so excited, I was calling out different things and he came over to tell me, “Stop yelling at the TV.” Uh, I tend to get that way when watching a Niners game. ;) Or a San Francisco Giants game. Or a Chicago Bulls game! It made me remember one time when I was in the hospital and my parents and I were watching a 49ers game on TV. We all got so excited and cheering so loud, a nurse had to come in and tell us to quiet down. Heh. It’s hard NOT to get caught up in those games! I don’t go so crazy for all the other team games, but for my favorite teams, most definitely!

Jennifer was not interested in the game at first but she DID watch the national anthem being sung (hooray for someone signing it in ASL!!) and she told me the kids from Sandy Hook Elementary singing the song sounded so sweet. She REALLY got into the game later, though, especially during the last quarter. And she was cheering for the 49ers, too! We were really tense during those last minutes when the Niners were SO CLOSE to winning.

The 49ers lost the game today, though. Boo-hoo. A friend (who is a fellow Niners fan) and I texted each other our thoughts on the game after it was over. I still loved watching them play. And I’m still a 49ers fan no matter what!

Friday, February 01, 2013

Visiting schools

Not too long ago, I started a conversation with a friend (a local mom) about school enrollment for Fall 2013. Jesse starts elementary school and Jennifer starts middle school, so I wanted to know when I’m supposed to start getting things together to get the kids enrolled in their new schools. It’s REALLY interesting that I asked my friend about that at that particular time, because she directed me to a web site and the schools were opening doors to visiting new students and accepting applications right now!

Wow, I am SO glad I asked.

Anyway, I went over the web site with all that information, then had a sit-down with hubby and Jesse to talk about school choice. We decided to let Jesse pick which school he wanted to go to for kindergarten. (In Oregon, you don’t HAVE to enroll your child into the school that is in your district, which is how it was in California when we lived there.) He decided he wanted to go to Jennifer’s school. Jennifer already knows what middle school she wants to go to, and we have been spending time going over the school’s schedules and deciding on how to get her ready for this transition.

So now that I knew which school both of them wanted to go to, I arranged for Jesse to have a tour of the school. He ended up getting TWO tours, because after the secretary informed the principal she would be giving us a tour, the principal said she wanted to give Jesse a more formal tour at a later date.

Today was the date of the first tour. After I got Jennifer to school this morning, I woke Jesse up and we talked about his appointment for the tour while we ate breakfast. As he got dressed, he started to express some concerns to me. What if they don’t like him? What if they don’t like his hair? (His HAIR??!!) What if the kids think he is a baby? Etc. (Jesse still speaks with a bit of a lisp, just like Jennifer did when she started kindergarten.) I assured him they would love him and everything will be fine. There were lots of kids at the school who were his age and, besides, the little kids are on one side of the building and the big kids are on the other side.

So I eventually got him to the school right on time for the tour. The secretary was so nice to him and even at one point was holding his hand as they walked all over the school. They just really clicked! Jesse loved the school and everybody was so nice to him. (He especially liked the playground, too!) At the end of the tour, he drew a picture for the secretary and I bought him a school T-shirt. He has proudly been displaying it ever since he got it.

But I did get some bad news while I was there. After the tour, I was talking with the secretary and we went over the School Choice form which I had filled out and which I had given her when we arrived. She told me that, unfortunately, the school we choose is NOT guaranteed. Apparently, the school district has set up a lottery and students go into the schools they can be fit in. The officials draw forms from a basket and if the first choice school is not full, the student will go to that school. But if it is full, the student goes to the second choice school.

I was disheartened to learn about this. What’s worse is that Jesse does not have sibling priority, in which he’d be given priority for a school a sibling already attends. This is his sister’s last year at this school, so he doesn’t get priority. So we don’t really know if he’ll be able to go to that school. He might not be able to. Which stinks because we wanted him to go to that school because Jennifer went there, even though we left the decision up to him and did not say anything about what WE wanted. We decided to let him choose. But it seems the school district will get to choose; not the student and not the parent. I understand the reason for it but it still sucks.

I was bummed to learn this because another elementary school that is closer to us just had an Open House and we missed out on that because I was set on getting Jesse enrolled in the school he wants to go to. But at least the schools are still having tours. That is a good thing. I’ll have to get in touch with the two other elementary schools I put on the School Choice form and see if we can arrange a tour for Jesse.

As to Jennifer, I decided to head on out to see this middle school she and her friends kept talking about at their school. Students from this school have actually visited her school and told her about it. She has her heart set on going to this school but when I told her about the lottery, she got upset and a little angry. Anyway, I visited this school today as well and met with the secretary. She was very nice and the school itself was nice, too. There are lockers there! A big change from elementary school! So I talked with the secretary and scheduled a tour for Jennifer at a future date. I also asked about the middle school that is in our neighborhood, since I’ll have to put it on the School Choice form anyway, and made a mental note to check out one other middle school I’ll have to list as a third choice.

There was one other school I visited today – but not for scheduling a tour for the kids. This one was actually to donate a copy of Dogs Forever! to, since they opened up a Book Nook and put out a call for donations of gently used books for the students. This school, an elementary school, looked so much like Jennifer’s and I had to wonder how many other schools look so similar. It was still yet another school I had to visit today, and I got a cold reception at this particular school. They wouldn’t let me past the office! Well, I'm glad it's out of our way; certainly would not list it as a choice on the School Choice form! Still, I had a nice “school visiting” day all around and feel I got a lot accomplished.