Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Not sure what to think

Bella came home with a behavior report today - a bad one. She was talking too much (we get reports of that once every couple of weeks or so) and that she wouldn't stay in her seat (that one was new). We discussed it with Bella at length, and told her that she would be punished at home, to which she replied that she had been punished at school. I told her that was only fair, and she said: "My teacher told the class to give me and (another student) a round of applause since, because of us, the whole class lost recess for 13 days".

I don't really like that she is doling out a group punishment with the blame placed on two children that she named to the class. It isn't fair to the other students, for one. I agree that Bella needed to be punished, go ahead and use her as an example, certainly - if you want to tell the class that because of the way she acted Bella lost recess for 13 days, that's fine with me. But to name her and another student specifically and point out that it is their fault that the entire class lost recess - and for 13 days, which seems like a long time - well, I don't think that is appropriate. I would guess that the point of a group punishment would be the hope that other class members would try and encourage the students to stop misbehaving, but I think that is a little over the head of first graders. For older children, I could see how that could work - with older children, peer pressure is a huge incentive, so risking the displeasure of fellow students is anathema.

I also know that self-preservation is a strong instinct, especially among children, so there is always the possibility that Bella is not telling the truth. However, I don't think she could make up the phrases that she used - 'round of applause' is not in Bella's vocabulary. And I asked her the one question that is guaranteed to eke the truth out of her - "If I go ask (teacher's name) whether that happened, will she tell me the same thing you just told me?". Bella normally crumbles under such logic, but when I said that tonight she just said, "Yes, that's what she said - you can ask her". Hmm.

My first thought was to send an e-mail to the teacher, thanking her for letting us know about Bella's behavior and letting her know that we are working to correct it, and then nicely asking the teacher about the situation. I'm not going to CC the principal or anything, and I'm not expecting anything to come of it, but I would like her to know that I think there is possibly a more appropriate way to handle that situation. But I am going to wait until tomorrow - I'm going to sleep on it.

I must add that, while this would bother me slightly under normal circumstances, I wouldn't be so troubled by it if my husband had not mentioned it to his parents. They were immensely bothered by it, thus making my position a little more awkward. My FIL even asked if I wanted him to handle it - I quickly assured him that would not be necessary, and that I would take care of it. Don't mess with their grandbabies!

Sigh. It will all work out - I'm sure of it. Small potatoes, as my Grandma would say. Don't sweat the small stuff. I'm going to lay on the sofa and read and forget about all of this. Good night!

**UPDATE: I didn't do anything. Sending an e-mail would have accomplished nothing. I could express to her that I felt her actions to be innappropriate, and it would change nothing. It's almost the end of the year, anyway - Bella has another month or so in this teacher's class, so there doesn't seem to be much of a point in stirring the pot. No hard feelings, just glad that this school year is drawing to a close. It's almost over!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

In need of thoughts, input and advice

I would greatly appreciate some input from anyone who has experience with Catholic schools, in whatever capacity. Specifically I am wondering about band and/or orchestra programs in Catholic schools. Heck, in any private school (except PCA). If you know the answers (and I fully realize you may not, and that's OK), I would love to hear from you. What I am wondering is:

  • Does your Catholic school have a band or orchestra program?

  • If so, does it operate strictly within the school, or is it parish or diocese-wide?

  • Is there a charge for participating?

  • Do the classes take place during the school day or is it an after school program?

I am asking all of this because Bella's music teacher left the school, leaving a small band class high and dry and with no other options. She also forced the cancellation of the school's spring musical. Bella has been at this school for three years. In those three years she has had 5 different music teachers. Two of those teachers left during the school year, both of them abandoning a band program that the teacher who followed them could not teach.

In my opinion, it would be beneficial for both the students and the school(s) to offer a band program. So I am doing some reading and research right now to try and look into other options for offering band classes. I would greatly appreciate any information anyone could give me - if you don't feel like commenting feel free to send me an e-mail. Thanks!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

And we're back!

I miss the family being all together, and I miss my gorgeous, sweet little niece, but I am glad to be home. I have edited this post multiple times throughout the course of the day, but keep ending up being waaaay too wordy, so I decided to break it down:

The trip up: Loooong. We got on the road around 5:30pm on a Friday night, and got there around 12pm Saturday. Bella and I were crammed into two tiny seats in the back of the SUV we rented, but we enjoyed ourselves despite being surrounded by all the stuff that didn't fit into the roof rack. I did not sleep at all, because I was worried about Brian driving, since he only had bout 5 hours of sleep under his belt. But we made it!

My niece: Absolutely gorgeous, adorably cute, captured my heart at first sight.

Bubba felt the same way, apparently, because he smooched all over the baby. Everytime he walked by her he had to stop and give her some spitty kisses:

Our sleeping arrangements: My in-laws slept in the master bedroom; my sister-in-law, her husband and their baby slept in the baby's room, and my little family slept on the living room floor or on the couch or loveseat. It was difficult because Bubba would just wander around playing until he collapased from exhaustion, then he would be out of sorts. And stayed out of sorts for the better part of the trip. But all of the family was together, and that is what mattered.

Easter Sunday: A good day. We went to the base church for mass. The service was lovely. Bubba slept through it, but Bella dissolved into tears halfway through, I think because she was tired. The music director accidentally turned her microphone on about ten minutes before the service started, so we got to listen to her correct some intonation issues, ask the piano player if she was playing the same song the choir was singing, and then, possibly as a grand finale, burp. Bless her heart. Anyway, it was a good day, all around.

Children's Museum: Fun. Educational. Some of the better exhibits were broken, but I think you have to take into consideration that, being a children's museum, things are bound to break or be broken on fairly regular basis. Bella was fascinated by most of the displays. Bubba was bored until we got to the under-3 play area and then he ran around like a fiend before staking out the top of a climbing toy as his spot.

Virginia Aquarium: Lovely. I was smitten with the sea turtles, Bella loved the seahorses, and Bubba was very, very grumpy. I actually bought him a crab stuffed animal as a souvenir, because it fit his personality that day. Bella discovered a love of spiders, which was interesting. She was actually afraid of the sea turtles - I asked her to stand in front of the tank to take a picture, because there was a turtle slightly bigger than her floating right beside her, but she said she didn't like turning her back on it. I don't know what she thought it might do, but we did get the picture - Bella looks scared, and the sea turtle is swimming off, probably disgusted at the implication.

Colonial Williamsburg: Just as wonderful as I remember it. I could have spent days there, days and days, but Bubba was unhappy and Bella's feet were tired after an hour of walking. We did stay for a few hours, though, and Bella learned quite a bit. I just can't say enough good things about it - I would go back tomorrow, if I could. If it wasn't 16 hours away.

The dress is a period costume rented from the visitor's center, the jeans and Hanna Montana shoes are NOT period dress but it was too cold to roll them up and I wasn't buying new shoes. Despite the odd mix of old and new AND the fact that there were tons of other children roaming around in costume, we were stopped multiple times by people who wanted to take Bella's picture.

The trip home: Long and agonizing. I was able to sleep, which helped. Bella and I, once again crammed into the back of the truck, were close enough to each other to have the following conversation:

Bella: "Mom, you have a hair growing out of your chin"

Me: "Yeah, that happens sometimes when you get older"

Bella: "I'll get it" and then leaned over and yanked the hair out. "Mom, are you growing a mustache?"

Me: "It's not a mustache, Bella, it's just fuzz. Why don't you read? Where's your Junie B Jones book?"

Bella: "But I'm just wondering, why would you want to grow a mustache?"

Me: "Where's your gameboy?"

Bella: "Are you going to grow it out like Dad's, in a goat?" (meaning goatee)

Me: "Find something to do other than look at me, Bella"

She eventually did read, and finished off the novelization of 'Barbie and the Diamond Castle'. She is a zippy reader!

We left Virginia around 12PM on Friday afternoon and arrived back home around 4:30am Saturday morning. After unloading the car, I ran to the store to get groceries, then came back home and attempted to sort suitcases and other things out, then dropped the kids off at my sister's house and was at work by 10Am. Whew!

Some other random thoughts:

I am sooo glad we had the GPS unit my sister gave us for Christmas. Even with the GPS, we still got lost a few times, but it would have been much worse, otherwise. On that note, does anyone remember AAA triptiks? I remember when I was a kid we would get a triptik to go anywhere. It was a little comb bound book that showed your route via multiple pages of maps, and construction areas were stamped on in red, and rest stops, etc. Old school!

Bubba threw horrible tantrums the whole time we were gone. Hitting, kicking, throwing himself to the ground, screaming. An amplified version of his normal behavior. I'm really, really hoping it was because he was so tired and off his schedule, because otherwise I will never be able to take him anywhere. I haven't really taken him anywhere since we got home, actually, because I'm sort of scared. Bella never threw tantrums, so this is very new to me. I just don't know what to do when he does that. My instinct is to remove him from the situation, which is usually inconvenient or rude if not both, but that's the best I can come up with for now.

Before we left for this trip I was mulling over some changes that I need to make in my life, for my own good and for the good of my family. I am going to steal a page from Jennifer over at the Conversion Diary and make this time after Easter like a mini-new year, a time to re-evaluate, assess and make changes. I have a lot of ideas, of course, but one concern I have had for a while now is the amount of television that Bella watches. And not only does she watch a lot, she is a TV zombie - when she is engrossed in a show you can't talk to her or tell her anything, because she won't hear it.

For that reason, and since the timing worked out so well, we are going to participate in TV Turnoff Week. And since I'm ripping off other bloggers' ideas, I'm going to borrow the idea (and the image) from Unplug Your Kids to take that one step further and include ALL screen time in that turnoff. So I am going to try and avoid the computer during the times I am at home. I probably won't be posting until the week is over, but lately I haven't been posting that frequently anyway. I'll still be able to check and comment on blogs from work, though, which makes me feel better. Wish me luck!

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

I'm (almost) out

My head is spinning with preparations for our upcoming trip. We are actually setting out Friday evening, in the hopes that we can put a few hundred miles behind us under the cover of darkness while Bubba snoozes. Eventually he will wake up, and then he will protest, vigorously and loudly, his entrapment in the car seat, so we want to avoid as much of that as we can. Alas, Bubba is not a car seat baby. Five minute trips to WalMart make him quite unhappy, so I can just imagine how he will feel about a sixteen hour jaunt up the east coast. I think Bella will do well - she has been on long car trips before, and we will be loaded up on the entertainment options - lots of chapter books and puzzle books, and her gameboy and the portable DVD player - so she will be busy and happy. Bubba, however - different story. My in-laws, who are making the trip with us, are considerably more stressed by listening to Bubba yowl from the backseat, so I'm certain they will insist on stopping more frequently. Which is fine by me, but my husband is one of those people who hates stopping on long trips, so this should be interesting.

I jokingly - well, half jokingly - asked my husband if someone could just do a 'Mr. T' (hopefully someone will get the A-Team reference) for myself and Bubba - you know, just give us something to knock us out until we get where we are going, but he did not seem to think that was the best idea. I'm betting somewhere around South Carolina he might change his mind. I don't sleep well in cars, and I tend to get a bit queasy riding in the backseat of a car - not full on, bring-me-a-bucket car sick, just uncomfortable-and-slightly-grumpy-nausea.

I am packing and frantically cleaning the house, so that when we arrive home exhausted and bearing multiple loads of dirty laundry, the house won't already be a mess. And also so that my sister and nephew, who will be feeding our fish while we are gone, won't think that we are disgusting people who live like animals. My problem is that I am packing and frantically cleaning while also working, so I have been up until at least 1AM every night this week. Maybe I will accumulate such sleep debt that I will conk out in the car anyway. Hey, there's the upside to this whole lack-of-sleep thing!

I am getting excited about this trip - I get to meet my new niece, whom I plan to spoil relentlessly - as much as you can spoil a 2-month old infant, anyway. I get to hang out with my SIL and her husband, and take the kids to new will be fun. It will all be worth 16 hours in a car with my children and my MIL and FIL. It will all be worth it. :-)

My sister-in-law does not have a computer nor we will really be anywhere with access to one, so I will be away from the internet for (gasp!) the entirety of our trip - roughly eight days or so. That has crossed my mind more than I would like to admit, so maybe I need a break. More than once I have felt a little concerned about my e-mail languishing unread, both work and personal, and about the blog posts I would miss reading and all the other little things I count on to waste time instead of doing housework keep me entertained, amused and in touch. But, it will all be there when I get back, and it will do me some good to get away.

I want to wish everyone a happy and blessed Easter! I will be in church on Sunday with the whole family, together again. Exciting!

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Trouble, with a capital 'T'

Tonight I was cleaning up once the kids were in bed, and I was so amused by the mess Bubba left behind that I had to document it. The picture below was taken earlier this week, but I think that smile says it all:

I must disclaimer: my floor is messy from Bubba and the random little things he picks up and then drops. I promise we aren't living in squalor over here, despite how it might appear.

Little known fact: like a good white wine, some toys are better if chilled slightly - the bottom shelf of the fridge is the perfect place.

Shoes can double as storage! Who knew!

Hate the nasal aspirator? Then sneak it out of the diaper bag when mom isn't looking and hide it under the sofa cushions! (I was looking for the cordless phone when I encountered these)

Is it a golf club or a toilet tissue holder? It's both!

I can honestly say that is rarely a dull moment with Bubba around. Every day is an adventure.