- What is your favorite color? red
- What is your favorite toy? light sabers
- What is your favorite fruit? mango
- What is your favorite TV show? I don't have one
- What do you like to eat for lunch? Food...sandwich, cheese, ham
- What is your favorite outfit? Jammies and a t-shirt
- What is your favorite sport? karate
- What is your favorite snack? Skittles
- What is your favorite animal? penguin
- What is your favorite song? Don't have a favorite
- What is your favorite book? The Bridge Home
- Who is your best friend? [Sunshine], [M]
- What is your favorite cereal? oatmeal
- What do you like to do outside? play
- What is your favorite drink? water
- What is your favorite holiday? Memorial Day
- What do you sleep with at night? Pup pup
- What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast? Smoothie
- What do you want for your birthday dinner? Hamburgers
- What do you want to be when you grow up? structural engineer
My Sweet Baby Angel,
This year has been one crappy year. Three broken toes, a tooth knocked out, and then, 2020, just in general so far. Yet, through all of it, your positive light has shone through. You have been able to find the good through it all.
I am so proud of the young man you are becoming. You have such a huge, caring heart. You are the best big brother a girl could ask for. You are reliable and responsible.
I'm so proud of you for trying, and excelling, at new things this year. You found a love for snowboarding. You were an office aide. You were chosen as a student presenter at the Made In Medina County Fair. You are taking on more responsibility at karate by teaching classes. You have a live app published in the Google Play store. These are huge accomplishments. You do all this while maintaining a 4.3 GPA.
This year is going to be a year of so many changes. First, it's a crazy year to begin with. Who would have thought there would be a global pandemic where you need to finish school online? In fall, you start high school, but we're still unsure of what that's going to look like. Whatever it is, we're pretty sure it won't be "normal". Whatever it is, though, you will be amazing. You are such a great student who loves to learn.
I truly wish this summer could be a "normal" summer where we go out and do all of the fun, wonderful things we do. However, the world has drastically changed in the past 3 months and we're living a new normal. You will make the best out of this summer because it's who you are. You will not look at all of the things we can not do, but you will appreciate all of the things we can do. I love that about you.
Even though I'm sad at the current state of our world, I'm excited to see what this year has in store for you. I know that what ever comes your way, you will do great things.
Don't ever forget who you are and remain true to that.
I love you forever.
The annual Mother's Day survey. Purple is Sunshine. Red is Monster. I love these answers because kids were not around each other when answering!
1. Something mom always says to you?
I love you, Sweet Baby Boo. Do you know I love you?
I love you.
2. What makes mom happy?
Doing things with her family
Her children behaving
3. What makes mom sad?
When her family fights
Her children not behaving
4. How does mom make you laugh?
By telling me bad jokes
By saying funny things
5. What was mom like as a child?
6. How old is mom?
25 this year...
7. How tall is mom?
8. What is mom’s favorite thing to do?
Play and do things with her family like hiking, soccer, and stuff
Be with her family
9. What does mom do when you’re not around?
Clean, do the groceries
Enjoy herself, hopefully
10. If mom becomes famous, what will it be for?
Singing or ballet
11. What is mom really good at?
Singing, ballet, soccer, and baseball. And being a good mom
12. What is mom not very good at?
13. What does mom do for her job?
A market person. I don't know. A computer designing websiter?
Takes care of her family
14. What is mom’s favorite food?
Potatoes and broccoli and healthy stuff no one else likes
15. What makes you proud of mom?
How accomplished she is at being the best mother and how she can multi-tasks with all our sports and everything
Everything, I'm just proud of who she is
16. What cartoon character would mom be?
17. What do you and mom do together?
Play outside, soccer, snuggle, read, and watch Heartland
18. How are you and mom the same?
We both are sensitive during movies and we like the same kind of music
We both have blue eyes and wear our hearts on our sleeve
19. How are you and mom different?
Hair and eye color and she's taller than me. And I like math, she doesn't
She has red hair
20. How do you know mom loves you?
She tells me
She tells me and she shows it
21. Where is mom’s favorite place to go?
By the water
Soccer has been a part of life for many, many years. I played soccer when I was younger. I loved it. I was not the best player. I could hold my own. I couldn't score a goal for anything, but was a good at defense because I wasn't afraid to get hurt (as the ER in my hometown learned). The older I got, though, the less confident I got in myself. The less confident I got, the more I didn't want to put myself out there. So, soccer became something I played in my backyard. It got to the point where I wouldn't even play with Husband anymore.
Then, I had kids. I live in a big soccer town. Where I grew up, soccer wasn't popular, so having my kids be able to start soccer so young was crazy to me. We started Monster in soccer when he was 4. He liked it. Thought it was fun enough. He even went to soccer camp for two years that was run by Otto Orf. If you ever watched soccer in Cleveland as a kid, you would know going to a camp run by Otto Orf is pretty damn cool. Since her big brother did it, of course, Sunshine also wanted to play soccer. Back when she was little, soccer wasn't open to anyone under 3. We got permission to sign her up at age 2.
We only had one season where both kids were in soccer. Monster decided he didn't like the competitiveness of it, so he was done Sunshine, well she loved it. We spent many seasons playing on some awesome teams with some amazing coaches. All of those coaches kids eventually moved on to travel or club soccer. We chose to stay with rec soccer since Sunshine is also in dance and softball. Since so many coaches left our league, a friend of ours decided that he was going to coach. I told him if he did, I'd assist. I had sworn, after a horrible season of coaching my darling darling daughter in t-ball, that I would never coach one of her teams again. Yet, here I was, years later, coaching soccer.
Never did I imagine how big of a part of my life coaching would become. When soccer was cancelled this season, not only was I sad for Sunshine, but I was sad for myself. I love coaching. Coaching brings me the same joy that teaching did when I first started teaching, back in the day when teachers could actually teach instead of muddle through all the bureaucracy. Of course I love watching my daughter play. She's come so far and is fierce on the field, but I also love watching the team play. I love seeing the girl who was timid and scared of the ball her first few times playing steal and make an amazing pass. I love watching the girls run plays that we did in practice and work together as a team. I love watching them grow into amazing players. I love getting to know the personalities of our girls and pushing them to step outside of their comfort zones because I can see where they will excel, even when they don't yet see it. It helps that the person I coach with is also great. We work well as a coaching team. We balance each other out. Over the past several seasons, our team has gotten to be extremely tough to beat. This season, with most of our players coming back to our team, we could have been undefeated. Being undefeated isn't important, but showing the girls how they work as team is. Our first season coaching, only two of the girls had ever played together, the other coach's daughter and Sunshine. It was a little difficult for the two of them to work with their team because they knew they could rely on each other. We got a lot of kids on our team who were new players. We didn't win a single game. Next season, we had returning players, so they knew how to work together a little more. Each season, we had more and more parents request us coaches. Fall season, half of our players actually played up a division just to be on our team. That makes you feel like you're doing something right. It wouldn't have mattered if our team was undefeated or not. These girls have finally come to work as a true team and they were robbed of that this season.
I would love to say that Sunshine and I spent our time off the fields fine tuning her foot skills, but we did not. Coaching your own kid is hard. She and I have gotten to the point where we only have one argument during a game per season, but practices are different. She does not like being told what to do by her mom. She does not like the critiquing of her skills, even though I'm doing to same thing to each player. At home, it's impossible to get her to do anything with me. I don't force it because I don't want her to lose the love of the game. Instead, I let her get out there and have fun and play with her brother and father and I try to keep my mouth shut.
I'm crossing my fingers that fall soccer happens. I can't wait to be with my team again. I never thought this would become such a big part of my life and I'd miss it so much.
This summer was supposed to be filled with more adventure. More freedom. Before all this, we even let the kids have a "test run" of what they'd be allowed to do and where they could go. They rode their bikes to the gas station and bought candy. The ice cream shop is just across the street from there, and that was another place they'd be allowed to go on their own. The boy was given permission to go even further and head to the store that's just another mile down the road. This would be the first summer that Sunshine was allowed to ride to her friends' houses without her big brother following behind and coming to pick to her up. This was also the summer of getting outside and trying new things. My shoulder is stronger now, so we were going to go paddle boarding and kayaking. We discovered we love museums, so this was to be the summer to head down to Columbus and go to new places, like Otherworld. We were supposed to go to Cedar Point. At this point, very few of these things look possible. Already, camps have been cancelled and softball is iffy. It's sad when my kids going into the gas station to buy candy and riding to friends' houses to play are some of the things that may not be possible for the summer.
We don't know what things are going to look like this summer. We don't know when or if things will be back to how the where. We can keep our fingers crossed that summer remains our time. That summer remains special. We realize that some of things may not happen, but we are allowed to remain optimistic that they could. We changed our bucket list to the things we hope we are able to do and seem more realistic in this crazy time.
So, with that, our annual summer bucket list:
This is not how I had planned this letter to go. Never, in a million years, could I have predicted that we'd have to celebrate your birthday during a global pandemic. Never would I have thought that no one could be here to celebrate. We knew your birthday was a Thursday, a dance day. We knew we wouldn't be able to even have a sleepover tomorrow with H because you would have a soccer game Saturday morning. We were sure, though, that H would come over tomorrow. We'd go out to dinner. We'd laugh, eat cake, and have fun. These were things we thought we knew. Obviously, the world had other plans. But, I promise, my Sweet Baby Boo, that we WILL go out to dinner with H. We will laugh, we will eat cake, and we will have a great time, soon. I promise those gifts we ordered a month ago will shortly arrive. You have handled this all better than I have. You have accepted your birthday is not going to look like we thought it would. You are disappointed, but have made peace with it, even though I have not. This was not the tone I had intended for this letter. I wanted to speak to your about your bravery and your accomplishments, but never did I think I would be discussing how strong you are to understand that life has been flipped upside down and there's no fixing it.
So, I'm going to try to write the note that I wanted to write before. Before the world stopped moving.
Happy Birthday, my Sweet Baby Boo! This has been a huge year for you! You should be so proud of yourself and all of your accomplishments. I know I am. You've done so much and had so many magnificent moments since last April.
It has been an honor to be able to watch your skills grow. I'm not just talking about one skill here or there, but a wide range of them. Your soccer skills get better each season, as do your dance and softball skills. This year has been a stellar one for Math. Have i mentioned lately how proud I am of you for your math skills? I know your confidence is low in this area, but you wouldn't be in advanced math next year if you weren't capable. Writing has always been your strong suit, but even those skills have really blossomed over this past year (I knew they would because you have some kick butt teachers!).
This year, you tried new things and excelled at them. You added on a dance class. You were nervous you wouldn't be able to keep up, but you were. You are sticking with it by doing the online classes for not only your level, but higher levels so that you can push yourself. This winter, you learned how to ski and loved it (still not sure where you and your brother came from on that one since your father and I hate the cold!). Listening to you talk about all the hills you went down and how you tried hills that were difficult gave me such a sense of pride. You are bold and brave and willing to try almost anything.
You have shone with your leadership skills this year as well. Every teacher you have ever had has said you are a leader and a good roll model for other students. This year, that was recognized by being chosen as a Safety Patrol Captain and Co-President of K-Kids. I believe you understand that you don't have to be bossy to be a leader. A leader listens and makes the best decisions possible for everyone involved, not just themselves. You truly are a leader in your every day life.
You are so kind hearted. You take the time to help your friends and make them feel better. Even more, it's not just your friends. You have included students you are not fond of because they were left out. You try to make others happy, regardless of it they are your friends or not. I know that during this pandemic, it's been so difficult to keep in touch with everyone. I love that you spent 2 hours on the phone playing Uno and other games with H yesterday. I love that you and K spent time on Zoom making up dances. I love that you and A were able to do dance classes "together" on Zoom. I hope that, as we're confined to our houses, you do more of these things to help you feel connected once again.
I am so proud of all your strength and dedication to your education and sports during this time of change. I love that you have taken time to learn new things. I love that your take the initiative to do workouts for dance on your own. I love that you head outside, almost every day, to throw the softball or kick the soccer ball around. I love that I don't have to hound you to do your school work. I love that you do the optional activities with as much gusto as the assigned activities. I love that you DO things instead of sitting around watching TV or playing on electronics. I love your passion for reading and how you've branched out with what you read. I love that you have contributed so much to this household.
My wish for you this year has changed since the world has changed. My wish for you for this year is that you don't lose hope. Stay strong and know that some day, you will once again play with your friends. You will have dance class that is not in our living room. You will play softball with a team rather than your family. You will play soccer on a field instead of in your backyard. You will once again learn in a classroom instead of your bedroom. Until then, stay true to who you are. Know that people love you and are here for you. Like all times, you are not alone. We are all here for you. Your brother, father, and I would move mountains for you. You have caring and kind friends who have done a lot to make this day special for you. That speaks to your character and who you are.
I hope you have a wonderful birthday, my sweet Baby Boo.
I love you forever.
Husband and I do no do winter sports. We do not enjoy the cold. Often times, though, we've wanted to take our kids skiing. We looked into it a few times and decided the price was just not going to work for us. No way we could justify spending almost $500 for a day none of us could ski.
Every year, our school district offers ski club. This year, I decided to look into it. After I did, it made we wish I would have looked into it sooner. I'll be clear, the cost is still not cheap, but when my two kids could ski a minimum of 6 different times, with lessons included, for the same price the 4 of us could go, without lessons, one day, I was sold. Heck, worst that happened would be they didn't like it but learned a little bit. Like I've told my kids from the moment they started any activity, "We can do anything [x] amount of times".
My kids were excited to try. Sunshine didn't know anyone other than her brother, but knew she could make new friends and, even if she didn't, it would only be 6 times. Monster chose snowboarding, while Sunshine chose skiing. This meant they would be split up, but only for lessons. They rode the bus there and were given permission for Monster to ride the elementary bus with his sister.
Day one, we pick them up and Sunshine immediately tells us she had so much fun. Monster tells us he loved it, he hated it [it was really hard], and couldn't wait to do it again First time was a success. In each of the progressing weeks, the kids had more and more fun. Not only were they learning new sports, but they were gaining confidence.
They were also strengthening their bond. They depended on each other. They took care of each other. They had fun together. On the car rides home, they talked and laughed and had so many shared stories.
The past weekend was probably the last weekend we'll get to take them skiing this year. The weather has been so warm and rainy this winter (which is not good for the polar bears!). We told them it would most likely be the last time and they were bummed, but, at the same time, excited for next year. As a family, we all learned some lessons and some tips and tricks. This experience could have gone two ways. We were thought we were prepared for both, but it turns out none of us could have anticipated exactly how special it would be.
This past week, something brought the past back to the front of my mind. There is a program called Hope Squad. Students for this "squad" are chosen by their peers. I'm not here to talk about this organization, what I'm going to focus is on child, in particular, that brought up my question. One child that made school hell for Monster. This child is supposed to be "safe person" for kids to go to if they are feeling bullied or suicidal. This kid, who is arrogant and mean spirited. This kid who makes fun of anyone who is not his friend. What if teachers knew? What if parents knew?
It was hat day at school. I believe it was the very last time Monster ever participated in a spirit day. He was in third grade. He came home with no hat on. I asked him where it was. He told me he was asked to keep it in his book bag. I asked him if he was playing with it. He told me no, and no other explanations. His teacher reached out to me. She had asked him to keep it in his book bag because this other child kept taking his hat and throwing it around the room. Since she could not control this child, it was just easier for Monster to take off the hat. I am not criticizing his third grade teacher. She was amazing. Let's now look at what other kids went home and said, "[Monster] had to take his hat off and wasn't allowed to wear it today". Parents thought, "Wow, what a bad kid". What if they knew?
In first grade, Monster's teacher didn't know how to deal with a child who was so advanced. She set him aside and had him read on his own. She then got frustrated when he finished his work before everyone else and read. Letters began coming home every day about him not paying attention. [Note, this teacher is no longer in our district] Soon, kids would go home telling their parents how Monster had gotten yelled at. How Monster had gotten in trouble. Let me be very clear here, he was not a distraction to the class. He was not mean. He did not disruptive. He read. All the time. He finished all his work, correctly, and read. What if they knew?
It was like this for most of elementary school. Parents treated Monster differently because of what their children came home and said. They still do. But what if they knew? What if they knew their kids called him names? What if they knew their kids pushed him down on the playground? What if they knew their children would put him up to things they knew were wrong because they wanted to laugh at him? What if they knew?
And what if they actually knew Monster? What if they knew that one of the current first grade teachers stopped to tell me how amazing and patient he is with the students he works with? What if they knew what the adults at karate thought of him with his good attitude and willingness to help out? What if they knew that his teachers from 5th grade on tell us how wonderful he is? What if they knew how anyone who has ever had him over to their house has told us how polite he is and he's always welcome to come over? What if they knew that parents of kids at karate tell me how wonderful he is and how much their kids like him and look up to him? What if they knew that he was never the "bad" kid and just the kid who wasn't challenged? What if they knew?
What if they knew that Monster is true to who he is? What if they knew he learned his lessons the hard way that he doesn't need to be friends with people who don't like him for who he is? What is they knew he has more confidence and respect for himself at age 13 than their children will ever grow to have? What if they knew that he doesn't care what their opinions are of him and he knows whose opinions to value? What if they knew that he's a better person than their judgmental selves will ever be? I'm pretty sure if they knew, they'd dislike him even more. They are the people who will never admit they were wrong. They are the people who don't care about the truth. They are the people who will continue to believe they are better than others and will always judge. What if they knew we knew they will never be more than arrogant, judgmental people with nothing better to do then put others down to make themselves feel better? What if they knew?
Friday, my son forgot his sport glasses for snowboarding. The amount of mom guilt I had was over the top. Even though I know it is not my responsibility he has them, I still feel guilty for not asking him if he had them. The truth is, we all forget things. This past Thursday, we had a ton of snow and I wore my boots to the gym. I forgot my shoes. It happens. Yet, as a parent, when my kid forgets something, I feel as though I haven't been teaching them the skills they need for getting through life. With time slipping away at an alarming rate, I realized I only have 4 years left to teach my son some critical skills that we tend to take for granted. There are things that we all know we need to teach our kids, but sometimes the little things get taken for granted.
1. Addressing an envelope. This seems like a no brainer, right? Everyone knows how to address an envelope. Except they don't. Letter writing is a lost art (which I just wrote about). If they can't write a letter, how do we expect them to know how to address envelopes. It isn't until 8th grade that they even learn postal abbreviations for states. This means that along with those letters people are going to start receiving from us, envelopes will be addressed by the kids.
2. Writing a check. We live in a credit card world. Tap, swipe, even scan your phone. Some things, though, can not be paid via credit card. My plumber, he doesn't accept Venmo. Some things require an old fashioned check. Thankfully, this is actually something I had thought about years and years ago. I saved the checks from an old, closed out account. The kids actually did fairly well writing checks. The writing out the amount was the only part they had to get instructions for. We are very fortunate because our school did teach cursive, so my kids can both sign their names. There are way too many kids out there who can not.
3. Balance a checkbook. Let me be honest. I don't balance a checkbook anymore. It's all online. I do check it online and make sure transactions are correct, but as far as balancing, I let the computer do that. Starting out though, it's important that kids understand the relationship between their purchases and their money. While is not exactly balancing a checkbook, my kids have counted up the money in their piggy banks and then had to subtract their purchases to see how much they had left. Same concept, but, again, in this digital world, one that is forgotten about.
4. Saving money. My kids know all about budgeting (if you have not taught your kids this, I strongly suggest it). We've been working on budgets since they were little. My kids know how to save up for something they have a tangible number for. For example, several years back, Monster wanted to save up for a Lego Mindstorm. He knew the cost. He saved and saved until he got it. He did a fantastic job. He had a goal and obtained it. However, we need to teach kids to save money for less tangible goals. In two years Monster will 16 (!). We are trying to encourage him to save for a car. Unfortunately for my children, we can't buy our children cars for their birthdays like so many people do for their children. So, my kids will have to save up. A car is more difficult to save for. First, it seems like so far in the future, even though two years will fly by. They have no idea how to drive. They don't know what kind of car they will get. They don't have an amount that it costs. It's difficult to save money for so many unknowns. Yet, we need to teach this. Sure, you can spend your money on junk, but then, in two years when you want a car, you won't be able to afford it. This helps prepare for the real world. You want to buy a house? Don't spend your money of unnecessary things.
5. How to read and follow a recipe. I was originally going to say, "how to cook", but it's more than just that. A lot of kids can not follow a recipe. A recipe includes making sure you have all your ingredients, looking at the steps ahead of time to make sure you know what you're doing, and then following through. It also means using common sense. If you are going to be making several things, you need to make sure you understand timing. If you want to have dinner at 5:30 and whatever you are cooking takes 35 minutes in the oven, you need to be able to factor in prep time and cook time to know when you have to start a meal. My kids have been cooking and baking since they were old enough to hold a spoon. However, we normally tell them what to do. We normally tell them when to start. Sunshine likes to bake and cook more than Monster, so she has more experience with this since she does it more often. Whenever we can, we try to get Monster involved and give him a recipe to follow. Even if you don't bake or cook often, you need to understand how to use recipe.
6. How often to change sheets and towels. We all know we need to teach kids to do laundry, but, if your kids are like mine, they believe clean sheets and towels just magically appear.
7. How to mow a lawn. Both males and females need to know how to mow the lawn. You never know when you're going to have to do it.
8. How to peel vegetables. I remember the first time I had my kid peel a potato. It was comical. He literally had no idea what to do. Growing up, that was my job in the kitchen. My father likes to tell the story of how the first time he ever peeled a potato was in the Army. It's a skill I've always taken for granted, but so many kids don't know how to do it.
9. How to use basic tools. Crazy as it sounds, there are adults out there who don't know how to use basic tools. They don't know how to take measurements with a ruler or tape measure. Those won't be my children. We keep encouraging them to help us with home projects. We put them to work taking measurements, and using screwdrivers, hammers, wrenches, and even saws.
I hate to leave this list with only 9, but those are all I can really think of for now. I know that throughout the next few years, I'll come up with 100 more things. My hope is that I teach them what they need before they leave this house. However, I'll always be here for them, to teach them whatever I forgot, when they need it.