Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Our Annie

There's not a more iconic a role than Annie, in my opinion, at least. So, when Julie auditioned for the local "Annie" production and scored the lead role, we were all ecstatic.

Because of conflicting times, Julie had to give up basketball (her favorite sport), to be in the play. But, we figured being "Annie" was worth it.

For two months, Julie worked hard to memorize her lines and dance numbers, and Saturday was the big day.

Seeing her up on stage wearing a red wig and singing "Maybe", I couldn't help but get choked up. How awesome to see your little girl shine on stage! Though the production was much smaller than we initially assumed, and there were some hiccups along the way, our Annie was amazing.

Scott and I, both can't help but live vicariously through Julie, as she seems to literally light up on stage. It's definitely where she belongs...for now at least.

Thursday, February 23, 2017


Some of my favorite memories include my cousins.
I'm a bit younger (five to 10 years) than most of my cousins, but I loved every moment spent with them. Whether it was ping pong tournaments at Thanksgiving, tubing at Deep Creek Lake in the summers, hunting eggs in my aunt's backyard or kickball tournaments in New York, there were so many moments I look back on and smile.

Cousins were a big part of growing up, and I think it's that way for my kids too. Though they don't have any cousins who live close, when they spend time with them it's always so fun.

Last week, we had a visit from Scott's brother and his family Todd, Melinda and their 2 1/2 year old son Matthew. Though Matt's quite younger than the older 2, he's the size of a 4 year old, he has a great vocabulary and he can do stuff that some 5 year olds can't--like ride a bike, hit a ball with a bat and whiz around on a two-wheel razor scooter. Julie and Johnny loved having him around. Josie too, though she couldn't quite keep up with her big (literally) cousin.

We loved showing them around---to the aquarium, zoo, a gold mine, and the local parks. Because we live far from family, these moments don't come very often, so when they do, we're sure to savor them.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Sting of Disappointment

This has pretty much been Julie's year.
She doing great in school.
She's excelling in karate--often earning the special "top gun" award for best performance. She's been scoring top parts in plays: Jafar in "Aladdin", Annie in "Annie" and Sebastian in "Little Mermaid". She was selected by her teachers to help with the school's animals on Zoo Crew and she earned a spot on the schools Honor's Chorus.

Things have been going her way this year.
So, I think she was completely shocked when her teacher didn't choose her speech as the best in the class. Fifth graders were asked to deliver a speech on optimism, and the teachers were asked to choose the best in the class to compete with other fifth graders in the school, then at the county, and finally at the state. Winners receive $250.

Julie was convinced hers would win. She spent hours writing, memorizing and practicing. Did I mention winners receive $250?

Friday Julie and her classmates each presented their speech and the teacher chose the best one to move on to the school level.

It wasn't Julie's.

She was crushed. After school, she burst into tears and proclaimed her utter dislike for the teacher.

"But I was the only one who memorized it! The girl who won kept looking at her paper and reading super fast!" she bawled.

I do think she had a pretty darn good speech, and the way she delivered it was impressive for a fifth grader. We were proud of her, regardless of whether she won.

But, there was a bigger lesson.

Sometimes you don't win. She really hasn't lost a whole lot this year, or in life in general, and things have pretty much gone the way she's wanted. So, this was a little teachable moment.

She came around a little, and admitted the winner, who happens to be her friend, had a great speech, though her presentation might need some work. And while she tried to blame it on her teacher for choosing the best behaved kid in class, we eventually got her to understand that she's pretty amazing but she's not going to win everything or be the best of the best all the time. Sometimes things don't always work out the way you want. Besides, other people have to win occasionally right? ;)

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Roses are Red

"Roses are Red. Violets are blue. Keep messing with me and I'll karate chop you!"----that's the poem Scott's brother Todd suggested Julie write to the class bully. 

The kids are supposed to write Valentine's cards to every classmate. "I'd rather not write any than have to write something to him," Julie said of this bully.

Because. Yeah. There's this bully. A real jerk of a kid in her class, who bears a striking resemblance to the freckle-faced mean boy on "A Christmas Story"---messy red hair and all.

All year he's been picking on Julie.
The first I noticed was probably before Thanksgiving break, when I started reading Julie's school emails. (They go directly to my inbox, but I hadn't bothered to read most of them until I saw she had a few from a boy named Joseph.)

They weren't long. Just short little bratty snippets. Shut up. You're weird. What's wrong with you? Go home. Etc.

Julie had never uttered a word about this boy until I brought it up. Then, she told me the whole Joseph story--how he's mean pretty much every day. Says mean things, tells her he's wiping dog poop on her chair, called her "the worst actress ever" in the school play.
But, that it doesn't really bother her. She's Ok because she knows none of it is true.

While I'm extremely proud of her confidence, I was not OK at all with this boy's behavior. Point blank. He's a bully. I told the teacher, who in turn, promised to talk to the kid and possibly his parents.

Of course things died down after that, but, like most bullies, a few months passed, and he started right back up.

So, here we are a week before Valentine's Day and school protocol says kids have to give every classmate a card. What would you do?
I totally get why she doesn't want to write this kid any sort of love note. I, personally, would like to write a note to his mother, and it wouldn't be a nice note.

But, do you force your child to give a Valentine to someone who has been mean all year?
Do you let them not give one? Do you allow them to make their own decisions? She is, after all, in fifth grade.

I'm so torn. Part of me thinks, teach kindness. Encourage her to be the bigger, better person. The other part, thinks she has every right to not want to be nice to this boy, and that she can decide for herself.

Still not sure what to do, but I feel like there's some sort of life lesson in this whole thing. You agree?

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Too much is too much

It's Friday at 7:30 a.m.---15 minutes before the bus arrives.
Julie is feverishly writing, and obviously stressing. I look over her shoulder and she's writing a letter to Trump begging him not to build "the wall."

I don't get much response when I ask her what the heck she's doing, but after some hounding she confesses that she's working on a school project due Monday. A major Social Studies project worth a large portion of her grade. And she hasn't started.

Say what?
This was the first I had heard of said project, and after looking over the assignment, her scribbled letter to Trump didn't come close to meeting the project's requirements.

To say I was pissed, was an understatement. We've backed off a little this year, and let her take responsibility for her assignments, and up until this point, there haven't really been issues. Almost perfect grades, and never a missed homework assignment.

I was dumbfounded at how she could put off on starting a project. How could this happen?
After some discussion, Scott and I realized the poor girl has too much going on. She's trying to earn her black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and takes classes three times a week. She's rehearsing for two plays, in which she has major roles. (Annie in "Annie" and Sebastian in "Little Mermaid"). She's in chorus and Honor's Chorus, takes theatre classes and on Monday mornings she helps take care of the school's animals with the Zoo Crew.

It's just too much.

Though we aren't taking her out of any activities yet, we told her how we felt and that she can ask for help whenever she needs it. And, also, that if grades start to slide, something has to go.  She wasn't happy about that.

She loves every one of these activities, and excels at them all, but her plate is full. Every day after school, and even on Saturdays she has a commitment. So much so that she's had to step back from some things because they would conflict---like basketball and Girl Scouts.

"But I love being busy. I love being in a lot of things," Julie blurted out, when we told her what we were thinking.

But school comes first, we told her.

Needless to say, I think we've learned our lesson. While it's so fun to see Julie enjoying her activities, there's a point when it might be too much. I'm thinking next year, especially since she will be in middle school, some tough choices might have to be made when we limit the number of extra activities.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Two butts

Apparently, in the process of potty training I gave an unintended sex ed lesson last night.
Josie, who has been running around naked during this whole process, ran to the door when two neighbor boys stopped by to play.

Shocked, one boy, who's 5, screamed "What?? Does Josie have two butts?? Because that's what it looks like!"

Yikes. No comment, just whisked Josie upstairs to put on pants.

While this was pretty hilarious, I did have to inform the boys' mother that she might get some questions later. She just laughed it off, but Scott was not happy.

First, a little background. The potty training book I've been reading suggest kids initially go naked, or at least pant-less. Apparently, this gets them more in-tune to their bodies, and also it's just easier for them to quickly sit on the potty when they have to go...instead of trying to get their pants down---which is almost impossible for a toddler.

I've been following this advice, because it seems to be working. Josie is pretty much accident-free when she's bare bottomed. Scott is so not a fan of this because (1.) He hates when the kids run around naked. (2.) It's just gross.

But, I've been doing it anyway because I'm determined to get this girl trained! 

Friday, February 3, 2017

The Case of the Missing Frog

I think it's safe to say we aren't the world's best pet owners.
(Read previous blogs about our dog who we had to give away, and you'll learn the story.)

We travel a lot and with three kids, the house is constantly chaos, so it's hard when you throw animals into the mix.

But, the kids love animals, and they desperately wanted a pet.

It started with Grandma buying Johnny a pet frog this summer. Where we live, frogs are a big part of summer. There are frogs everywhere. I'm pretty sure Johnny caught two a day. Just look on our deck in the evenings and you're bound to spot three or four tiny frogs. Johnny absolutely loves those critters. There was one particular frog Johnny fell in love with last summer, while Scott and I were away on a work trip. Grandma was in charge and gave Johnny permission to keep the frog.

Of course the little guy escaped, I'm thinking with the help of his ornery big sister. And Johnny had a meltdown. So, grandma, of course couldn't help but take Johnny to buy his very own pet frog at the pet store. His name was Croaky.

Well, Johnny took great care of Croaky, feeding him and cleaning his cage, and playing and snuggling with him. (This may have aided in his demise). But, three months later, Croaky lived up to his name and croaked. Johnny was devastated, and we buried him beneath the deck. Croaky was immediately replaced, to ease Johnny's sorrow, by "Scroaky," who Johnny claimed was the father of Croaky. (Don't ask.)

A couple months go by and it's almost Christmas and Julie is requesting an iguana for Christmas and Johnny is saying Scroaky wants "friends" for Christmas.

So, under the tree on Christmas morning was a larger cage for our pet frog, and permission to go the pet store to pick out two more frogs. Along came Piggy and Ridey because when Julie and Johnny saw them, they were giving each other piggy back rides. (Yes. Yikes. I know...but we haven't seen any baby tadpoles yet.) 

All is good in the world of Scroaky, Piggy and Ridey in their brand new cage with a little swimming pool, a big pile of moss to play on. Until....last week Scott was away for work and I was in charge of feeding the frogs their crickets (Yuck at first, but actually kind of cool).

One afternoon, I went to feed them and the top of the cage was open a little, and there were only two frogs sitting there.
Panic Mode!

Not only did I feel bad that I lost the kids' pet, but more importantly there's a frog hopping around my house somewhere, and if I don't find that sucker soon, I'm sure we'll all find him a few months from now, when he starts to smell.

Well, we looked everywhere for that guy. Seriously. Everywhere. He's  nowhere to be found. I'm dreading the day we find the remnants. I'm hoping he somehow hopped out the door!