summer & education

I’ve been pretty lucky with Rhiannon. Because so many of my clients are high-level educators, I’ve always had plenty of guidance in what is best for her. Testing into GATE opened up so many doors – thank you, special education! – and we’re able to manipulate her schooling to match her needs. In a state like Idaho (we rank 50th in per-student spending), I’ll take all the help we can get!

This summer, her teachers supplied her with fractions and algebra workbooks to keep up her math, and she’s currently reading Watership Down (and a bunch of Doctor Who graphic novels!). She tested into high school math and college-level reading, so we’re trying to keep her interested. She’s still taking piano through the summer, amping up her art skills with the help of some fantastic YouTube channels and an art teacher who comes monthly for both kiddos (Thank you, Tanith Brown!), reviewing Spanish, and is about to force me back into running so she can train for next track season.

Before you start commenting that she needs a summer break, this is what she chooses for herself. She also spends most days at her school’s Boys and Girls Club, where she plays hard, teaches younger kids arts & crafts, and gets to go on amazing field trips. She and Sebastian (who is with us every other week) play plenty of video games and veg out (more than I’d like them to…) watching YouTube, but that’s important, too.

We’re letting them attempt more independence and are giving them plenty of free-range time this summer. They’ve already had multiple sleep-overs and the house sometimes bursts apart with their friends, but it makes Tony and me happy to be that house. Granted, it’s messier than we’d like, but we’re working on a chore list. Rhiannon is working on earning her own laptop and we’re trying to give her ample opportunities to get money.

She’s also auditioning for commercials and wants to send her resume out for more acting work. She’s begging for lessons, so we’re looking into different programs. Luckily, Boise is a creative city and we know a lot of performers, so it shouldn’t be hard.

So, yes, we’re still learning everyday, knowing that school will be popping up quickly. Yes, we’re trying to keep them busy and happy and still moving forward in their skills. Yes, we’re still more mellow than it reads in this post, but we have smart kids who need stimulation.

And I kind of feel like summer is the perfect time to get in the fun learning. Which is why I’m studying Rhiannon’s Spanish books and playing her piano when no one else is home. 😉

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some people

The greatest people I know look beyond their own ego to make sure the world is a better place. They don’t care about the perception of others; they just do the right thing, even if it isn’t popular.

Mistakes don’t make them wince. Hard work only makes them roll up their sleeves. What’s going on inside is more important than creating a perfect picture. No one buys into perfection anymore anyway, so why live your life hoping you’ve convinced everyone that you are better than you are? Why not use that energy differently?

Be a better example for your kids. Admit when you’re wrong. Apologize. Teach them it’s okay to give their time and friendship to those that deserve it. Tell them it’s okay to let the others go. Show them the work ethic you want them to have. Praise their talents and get them all the help you can for the things that cause them to struggle. Don’t look away from their imperfections. Let them know we all have them. Prove to them over and over that you love them as they are.

They’re watching you.

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helplessness

Nothing I say will change anyone’s mind tonight.

No rant about politics or policies will unkill the many that are gone.

No spiritual meme about what good is left in the world will change the fact that people kill people.

No argument with a stranger will impose my beliefs onto him.

Nothing I write will change you. Not tonight.

So I’ll keep living my life, with all of its hopes and growing fears. I’ll hug my family tighter and be glad that they’re safe in their beds at the end of another day. I’ll keep dreaming about a better tomorrow for all of us.

And I’ll light a candle in my heart for those that aren’t safe in their beds, dreaming about their
tomorrow.

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on being mom

Tonight I cuddled with two sad kids in different bedrooms, going back and forth to assuage their worries. Every good parent has been there, at that point in which he or she hopes to say just the right thing to make things better. You choose your words carefully on nights like tonight.

For my daughter, who is sensitive and a worrier, emphasizing that some things are out of our control – especially the behavior of others – might seem counterintuitive, but I think she’s a little relieved to have been reminded. She’s happy to take that burden off of her giant heart. No 11-year-old girl should carry that.

For my son, who experienced his first real panic attack complete with shortness of breath, a rapid heartbeat, and uncontrollable gulping tears, it was trying to convince him that he is powerful and capable.

“My brain is making me feel weird, though.”

“It’s when your worries turn sad. It’s not a bad thing. It just means you’re not hiding from your feelings. You’re brave.”

Power has been his topic of choice a lot lately. Power is his biggest wish. He feels hopeless and helpless at times, as we all do, but this particular 11-year-old is feeling it a lot lately.

For both these kids, who are learning to navigate a world that holds them accountable when they feel so little (and, yet, at the same time so old…), it’s reminding them that they are loved by me right now and forever, no matter what else is happening. It’s backrubs and hand massages for my girl, and it’s big, tight hugs for my boy. It’s telling them over and over that the one thing I know for sure is that I will love them forever and protect them when they can’t protect themselves. It’s reminding them that I always want them to do their best, but that I understand that on some days their best is fantastic and on other days it’s the ability to breathe without crying. It’s reminding them of how special they are and that the world needs them…