Friday, October 22, 2010

Wow - Two days in a row...

Now that I figured out how to compress the video and the best way to load it for blogspot, I've got Henry's second talk all ready for you.

Again, the video quality isn't the best.  I was trying to watch him, video, take a picture, and follow along all at the same time.  The video drifted a few times.  Also, sound quality is bad again.  If you want to follow along, it was 1 Chronicles 11:1-14.

From my completely biased perspective, he did AWESOME!  I must say I was very nervous, though. 

It started with a breakdown on the way home from school with exclamations of being scared.  I reassured him that it was totally NORMAL to feel scared.

Then, dinner and the stomach ache.  Nerves in all their glory.  He had the fidgets horribly as we tried to get ready.

When we arrived at the hall, he was a ball of energy.  He kept telling me that he was too scared, that he was going to pee his pants, that his tummy ached.  I kept reassuring him, at the same time questioning if I had pushed him too hard. 

Then I reflected that I had not pushed him at all.  I had told him it was his choice and to only join if he was ready.  I explained that this was a long-term commitment, not just a one-time action.  I questioned him and challenged him if he was really ready.  And to make sure, I made him approach the school overseer on his own versus doing it for him.

For all his nerves, they seemed to disappear the minute his foot hit the stage.  All of my coaching about waiting until the podium was adjusted and the microphone put in place had been applied.  My encouragement to pace himself and not rush through the reading was taken.  And at the end, the radiant smile of someone quite proud with himself.  At the seat, a huge sigh of relief and a "whew, I'm glad that is over".  After the meeting, there were exclamations of "that wasn't so bad, I can't wait to do it again".  And me, beaming with maternal pride.  It couldn't have gone any better.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Hello, Remember Me?

Hi.  Yep, Henry and I are still alive.  Life has been hectic.

We had a very active summer, and fall has been pretty busy, too.

I thought that since Henry has his SECOND bible reading tonight, I should go ahead and post the video of his first one.  The sound quality of this is BAD.  If you want to follow along, he was reading 2 Samuel  22:1-20.  He practiced for weeks and weeks and did an awesome job.

Tonight, he'll be in the front school...on the stage...with a microphone.  I'm hoping he doesn't look up and chicken out.  (Note to self:  Talk to school coordinator and make sure he has a plan in case Henry chickens out.)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Recent Henryisms

When I was visiting him in his classroom and tried to kiss his cheek: "Mom, you can't do that! You're humiliating me!"

When deciding which necklace to put on his Astros Bobblehead Doll: "Yes, this one. You look much more attractive that way."

When having a light saber fight with Aunt Leslie: "I am very disappointed in your Jedi skills."

I think he must be reading the dictionary after he goes to bed at night!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Field Day!

Henry recently had Field Day at school.  There was much anticipation, and in the end, a good time was had by all.  I appreciated that the kids all had fun, and the events weren't overly competitive.  They were much more focused on participating and having fun than on winning anything.  There was lots of water activities, and while the kids at first shirked the thought of getting wet, in the end, they loved it.  Here is our photo recap:

First, they had free play on the basketball court.

Next was the first water activity.  It involved wringing a wet sponge on the person in line behind you.  The second round included the chance to dump a glass of water on the person in line behind you.  The goal was to be the wettest team in the end.

Next was the classic game of "tug of war".  First, it was Henry's class against another class.  Henry's class got womped.  So Henry's teacher and I jumped in for the next round and helped their team to win.  Next, they switched up in boys against the girls.  Again, girls womped the boys.  So again, teacher and I jumped on and saved some face for the boys.  (Can I just say that my arms were sore all weekend because of this!)

Next was a game of chase with the waist flags.  Last man standing with his flags in-tact, won.  Henry tied in one round for first.

Next up, another water activity.  This one involved passing a full bucket with holes in the bottom over the heads of the team until it reached the end of the line and the remaining water was dumped into a bucket.  In theory, the first team to fill their bucket won.  In Henry's case, he ended up at the end of the line with some of his buddies.  Very little of the water left in the holey bucket ended up getting poured in the team bucket.  

This was some kind of obstacle course.  There was really no goal and no winners.  The kids just took turns rolling a tire back and forth, and running a styrofoam cylinder across while jumping hurdles.  It did burn off a lot of energy.

On to the Bounce Houses.  There were about 5 bounce houses and inflatable slides set up.  Even Henry's teacher got in on the action.

Next, it was scooter racing in the cafeteria.  This looked like so much fun I wanted to try (but I didn't).

This was followed by a few games of dodge ball in the school gym.


The kids got to jump rope or play with hula hoops.  Henry's jump roping skills are on fire!

The final event was another that involved water.  The kids had to wrap a towel around their back, run to the pool, dip the towel in, and wrap it around their back again.  They then ran to the next kid who repeated those steps.  In the end, the kids were all a giggling, sopping mess.

From there, they went to the side of the school and had a picnic lunch.

All in all, a great time was had by all.  Even Nana and Papa stopped by to watch some of the activities.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Multi-Cultural Day

Today was multi-cultural day at Henry's school. The kids were encouraged to dress in clothing of their "native" country. The kids who "dressed" then got to walk in a parade in front of the parents and the kids that didn't "dress".

Henry marched proudly (if a bit shyly)in his Russian shirt.



Unfortunately, my camera battery died so these were the only 2 shots I got. I also feel funny about posting pictures of other people's kids, hence the green splotches on their faces.

But the parade was amazing. Henry's school is very diverse and some of the kids wore wonderful and beautiful cultural costumes. We were constantly pointing to different ones that caught our eyes.

Of course, the "American" kids dressed as cowboys and baseball players. It was a fun event to participate in. There were also some programs for the kids that I didn't get to stay and watch. I'm anxious to hear Henry's description of them.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"My Mom"

Henry recently brought home a little book that he made for me and about me at school.  It is so endearing and insightful to his thoughts about me.  I'll share the content with you, but rest assured that the actual book contains many things that needed to be read and interpreted for me.  We're really going to try and focus on handwriting and spelling over the summer!

Also, each page is decorated with "lovely" pictures of me, us, our house, and us playing football.

"My mom was born in IL. Now my mom sits at a computer. My mom loves me. My mom's hair is brown and gray. She is fun and the boss of the house."

"My mom's job is to clean the house and help me. She is sweet and cool. She is pretty. She has 2 jobs. She reads nice, she has nice shoes, nice clothes, nice attitude and nice love. I love mom."

"My mom's favorite thing is snuggling with me, and reading and kissing me and being loving. I like it, too. And my mom loves my family and loves her family. Her favorite movie is Survivor and Iron Man. She loves me."

"In bed, she lets me play on the computer. She loves me and I love her and I love the earth and take care of my mom and everywhere around. I like that."

"My mom loves everything about me and my family and the earth. When I am sad, she helps me and my family and the earth and my tree. I love my mom and my trees and the earth."

I think they worked on each of the worksheets on different days. You can see that this project overlapped a little bit with earth day and arbor day, with all the earth-loving and tree-loving.

I love how much he knows he is loved. I love that he thinks I am the boss of the house. I hate that he knows my hair is gray. I love that he knows my favorite things involve loving him. My favorite movie is NOT Iron Man, but I did go to see it during this project, so it made it into the story.

I'm glad that he mentioned all the ways that I am nice and comforting to him, and that the book wasn't about me yelling at him.

This is definitely something to treasure (and something to bring out and embarrass him with when he brings home his first girlfriend!).

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Braggin Dragon and Tooth News

I think I've mentioned before about some of the challenges Henry has been having in first grade in the public school system.  His teacher has been awesome in working with both Henry and I.  One of the goals that the entire class has is to earn the title of Braggin Dragon for a week.  Ms. M clearly communicated to the children what they needed to do to earn the title.

Henry has wanted it for a while.  Ms. M explained to him very clearly what he needed to do in order to earn this goal.  He was very discouraged because some of the kids were on their second time around and he had yet to earn the title.

Then, we had a very bad week.  Actually, a couple of very bad weeks.  Okay...maybe they weren't so bad.  When we started this whole color coding thing, the infractions were many and they were major.  So now, the infractions aren't as many, and they aren't anything close to major.  But still, when you are looking at a color coded chart for the week that should be a sea of green, and you're seeing splashes of red and yellow all over it, it seems like a bad week.  I guess the reality was that we had made major improvements, and then we got stuck.  And I was tired of being stuck.

So Ms. M and I had a nice little email exchange, she had some conversations with Henry, and then I had some conversations with Henry.  Serious conversations.  Clear expectations.  Threats that he knew I would follow through on.  As a result, I missed going to my super bowl party and ended up watching most of the game by myself after he went to bed.  He was disappointed, but he got the point.  I was irritated that I lost my privilege of going to the party because of his behavior, and he got that point, too.

So before the next week started, he asked me:  "Mom, what would happen if I stayed green the whole week?"  Since that had never happened, I wasn't really thinking it was something that could be a reality.  So I responded:  "We'll have a party like you wouldn't believe!"  He knew that if he could pull it off, he'd also be a shoo-in for Braggin Dragon.

Monday:  All green...happy child, happy mama!
Tuesday:  All green...happy child, happy mama!
Wednesday:  All green...thrilled child, thrilled mama!
Thursday:  All green...proud child, worried mama (how was I going to plan the "Party That You Wouldn't Believe!")
Friday:  All green...Braggin Dragon child, ecstatic mama.  And special thanks to Leslie who found out that the Aeros hockey team was playing at home and offering special pricing for mid-field seating 9 rows behind the penalty box...instant "Party That You Wouldn't Believe!"

We rocked it and pumped it about how special it was to have that kind of week; how proud he should be of the effort he put into his behavior for the week; how much we knew that he had worked hard to achieve this goal.  If it provided positive reinforcement, then it happened.

One of the things about being the Braggin Dragon is that you get to bring in a poster all about you.  Since this wasn't necessarily meant to be an educational experience, I didn't feel guilty doing most of the work on this one myself.  I did let him select which pictures, help with the layout, and dictate the text that went with each photo.  It will hang outside his classroom all week.  Also, classroom time was dedicated to him explaining to his classmates what was on the poster.



Another part of the honors is to actually get to bring Braggin Dragon home for the weekend.  The kids are encouraged to interact with it during this time, and then are requested to provide an entry in the Braggin Dragon's journal about the time that they spent together.




Finally, there are some class room privileges that come with it as well.  Mainly, Braggin Dragon gets to sit on Henry's desk all week, and Henry gets to be the line leader and a few other things.


I was worried that his behavior last week was a flash in the pan.  However, this week is shaping up to go down as another great week.  We had one issue yesterday, but really, it was typical boy stuff and not really the behavior we have been so focused on.  However, one of my threats did include the condition that any further reds and yellows on his behavior chart would incur 5 "extra" chores each.  Since we had a yellow, I felt like it was my duty to consistent parenting and following through on my "threats" to actually assign them.

First, he actually reminded me that he needed to be assigned the 5 extra chores.  Then, as I announced the chores, he actually cheered.  And finally, went about happily singing while he dutifully accomplished all that was assigned.  Makes me wonder how effective that was as a form of discipline, but I'll stick with it for now.

And, our final news from last night, he officially lost one of his top teeth.  It has been loose...really loose, for several weeks now.  But it just wasn't ready.  Then he looked at me last night and moved it totally sideways with his tongue.  I decided it was time.  I reached in, gave it a tug and it was gone.  Henry wasn't too sure about it, but it was over before he had time to think about it and the look of surprise and relief on his face was priceless...wish I could have captured it with my camera.  Instead, here is a picture of his new smile:

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Monday, February 1, 2010

100 Days

Today is the 100th Day of the school year. To celebrate, a weekend project was sent home. The directions were both explicit and generic at the same time. What it boiled down to, was that the child was supposed to affix 100 of "something" to this yellow piece of paper and return it on Monday. Explicitly, the parents were directed to allow this to be the child's project.

So, when this came home on Friday, we started discussing what Henry should do. A little guidance isn't a bad thing, right? I figured it would help him learn how to plan and design a project before he just jumps in and starts gluing things down. We continued the discussions on Saturday, and by the end of the day, we had the rough outline of what he wanted his project to be.

He wanted to have a dinosaur on it, but decided he wasn't that good a drawing dinosaurs. We found a coloring book that had dinosaurs in it. So he picked the one he wanted, picked the colors he wanted to use and set out to color it.

Now, I must admit that I helped him by cutting out the dinosaur once he was done coloring it.

After that, he counted out popcorn piles. He counted out piles of 10, and then counted by 10s to make sure that he had a hundred. (Mommy recounted everything and found a few discrepancies, but I made him recount the piles that were off and fix them on his own.)

Next, he decided where he wanted the various groups of popcorn to be attached to the dinosaur. I applied the glue as I wasn't ready to hand over the glue stick to Henry at the kitchen table. He placed all of the kernels where he wanted them.

After he was done, he remembered that we had some glitter glue and begged to have some glitter glue applied. Again, I wasn't ready to hand over the glitter glue to him at the kitchen table, but he picked the colors and placement, I just did the actual application.

At the bottom, he wrote the label for the piece, and then we accented it with more glitter glue.

In the end, I feel like this was a good representation of what he wanted it to be. I think he was proud of it, but of course he worried how it would stack up against what the other kids did. He also worried about what his teacher would think of it. I reassured him that the important thing for this project was that he followed the directions he was given, and that HE was proud of the work he had done.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

I did it myself...

So this morning was a big milestone for us.

As I've posted before, we have a pretty standard routine that we follow every morning before school. We end up heading downstairs for breakfast at about the same time every day. But today, for the first time, our schedule was a bit off.

First, I didn't want to get up myself, so was a few minutes late rousing the boy (somehow his alarm clock accidentally got turned off this week and I keep forgetting to turn it back on). Then, when I went to get him, he also didn't want to get up. After a little cajoling, he got up and climbed in the shower.

This just seemed to set our whole upstairs routine off by a few minutes. When it was time to head downstairs, I remembered that there was something on the computer that I needed to email to myself for access on my work computer. Of course, the computer was acting up and needed to be rebooted. So I sent Henry off in search of his shoes downstairs.

After a few minutes of messing with the computer, I realized how far behind schedule we were, so I called down to Henry to make sue he was picking his breakfast so he could eat as soon as I got down. He called back, "I already did it myself." Hmmm, curious.

When I arrived downstairs a minute later, I found that he had
  • Gotten a bowl from the upper cabinets and a spoon from the silverware drawer
  • Picked a pack of oatmeal and emptied it into the bowl
  • Got the measuring cup (from another upper cabinet or dish drainer -- not sure which)
  • Measured out 2/3 cup of milk and added it to his oatmeal
  • Put the oatmeal in the microwave and set it to cook for 2 minutes
  • Put the milk away
  • Threw away the wrappers from the oatmeal packet
So there was the perfectly cooked oatmeal in the microwave, just waiting for me to lift the hot bowl out and add the frozen blueberries. I had no idea he could do all of that on his own. And he didn't make a mess and he cleaned up after himself. Wow, I must be doing something right!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010