Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Cultivating Gratitude = Retreats, Thanksgiving trees and the Little Things

Let's recap.

School started just one week and one day ago. That being said, Ella only went every other day in increments and now, suddenly, out of the blue, September is gone. Seriously?! Where did September go? Where did the last week go?!

Cultivating gratitude has been constantly on my mind - I have been mulling it over like the spiced apple cider that warms my body and soul during the winter season. So days 9-15 is going to come by way of a weekly recap.

School. Ella's class. Her teacher. So. Much. To. Say. I am grateful. It is going well and in the coming days (or at the rate I am going, weeks, I will tell you all about it.)

This past weekend we went on a Church retreat. It was mostly work for me...but fun work. I had the kids do many of my favourite camp activities like cooking piggies in a blanket over the fire, of course, roasting s'mores and going on nature scavenger hunts. To say Jakob had a blast would be an understatement. He kept asking why it wasn't a week long. And during the family game time on the Saturday evening, he wanted to be the participant in every game - we're talking games like picking up cotton balls with a vaseline covered nose, or being wrapped in plastic wrap and wiggling to the finish line. I was blown away by his enthusiasm and I think everyone else was too.

Saturday afternoon during our free time we took a drive to Lake of the woods, located just outside of Hope for a little swim. It was stunning. I am convinced that my love language with God is His creation. It is where I know him most intimately.

Finally, as I have been considering gratitude, I have also been considering how to cultivate gratitude in my children. To be honest, I don't know how much Ella understands gratitude. Ask anyone - she always says "thank-you"...multiple times if you do something for her, or give her something but gratitude? I don't know. The thing about Ella, is that there is so much that she understands that I don't give her credit for. Because she speaks a language solely unto her own, only God knows what really goes on in that little head of hers. It's like the baby - does she understand that there is a baby growing inside me? She prays for it...but does she only pray for him or her because we always pray for the baby? Then again, sometimes when she prays, she comes up with things that are totally original....like thanking God for slurpees. The rest of the time, only key words are discernible, like Ry-ry (Uncle Ryan) or Papa or day. At any rate, I play along as if she understands just as much as Jakob and encourage her to think of things she is thankful for. When asked, she never really has an answer, but we give her a little card anyway and we hang it on our Thanksgiving tree. 

I have wanted to do one of these for a number of years but just never had the time. Turns out, it is quite easy. I went for a walk in the woods one day and grabbed some dead branches, cut out some circles and each day at breakfast or dinner, we each get a card to draw on or write on. It is fun to see what the kids come up with. The first day Jakob drew a piece of chicken and spaghetti...why not really? 

I am so grateful for autumn. I am grateful for this autumn. Seriously, quitting my day job was the best decision I have made this year. I have had so many appointments, that I think I would have lost it just trying to navigate the time off for those plus getting Ella and Jakob settled into school. I still work 20 hours a week at the church doing children's ministry but I am so so so so grateful that I am able to drop the kids off at school and pick them up every day. I can connect with Ella's aide and find out how her day was and I can bring Jakob and her a snack before we head off to ballet or choir or soccer - all the little things that would have otherwise not been possible. I am so grateful.

What are you grateful for this week?

Monday, September 29, 2014

Confession: I hate the way I look pregnant

I do. I hate it. So this may be the first and last belly photo you see from me.

I naturally have quite a bit of junk in the trunk and the legs to support it, so when I am pregnant, I just get fat all over. Not to mention, I gained almost 60 lbs with Jakob and close to it with Ella. Don't get me wrong, it's not that I don't like being pregnant, I just hate being fat. I hate elastic waistbands, I hate constantly trying to keep the cleavage PG and I hate looking at myself in the mirror whilst I watch my flat stomach get round and my round buttocks get flat....there, I said it. 

All this to say, Christmas cards may not include a photo this year.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Letter to Ella's Kindergarten Teacher

**This post was adapted from Pudge and Biggie...again, because she is brilliant. **

Dear Madame,

We are so looking forward to this school year. Even after one day, I know that Ella is going to love being in your class...But there are some things I feel it would be helpful for you to know about Ella and some things that I must ask of you.

1.    Ella calls her brother “stop-it”…yes, you heard that right. His actual name is Jakob.
2.    Ella is left-handed. This will be very obvious in a short amount of time.
3.    Ella will often just say poo-poo if she needs to go potty…it does not necessarily mean she needs to poo, however.
4.    Ella will wander…far away. Please make sure someone is watching her at all times.
5.    Ella does not like loud, crowded and/or dark places.  Her exit strategy is to ask to go to the bathroom…possibly, incessantly and will get very clingy. Once she is finished with the bathroom however, it is good to keep her in the situation. She deserves to be a part of it just like any other child.

Despite her challenges...

Please claim her as your student.  She's on your roster.  I've told her she's in YOUR class. We practice YOUR name daily.  Please claim her as your own. Please be the one in charge of what she does with her aide.  Please know exactly what she's working on. Please have the ultimate say in how her instructional time is being spent.  Please don't take advantage of the opportunities to pass her off as someone else's responsibility, because the opportunities will be numerous.  Please remember when she's asked to name her teacher it will be your name she says.  Please be just as quick to say her name when you're asked who she belongs to.

Please help her with her yogourt cup. 

Please don't accept cute as currency.  Please don't let a grin and a hug get her out of doing what is hard.  Please remind her that disobeying as you smile and giggle over your shoulder is still disobeying and still earns a consequence. 

Please let her fall down.  Please let her mess up.  Please let her experience the natural consequences of disappointing a friend with her behaviour.  Please step in quickly to help her fix her mistakes, but please let a friend's rejection teach her more lessons than an adult's reprimand.

Please help her when I choose fashion over function and forget the cardinal rule of Kindergarten, "Don't Send the Child in Pants From Which They Cannot Quickly Escape".

Please, when she churns out work that is crap...call it crap.  Please let her own her failures so she can own her progress and successes, too. 

Please wait...a long time...without talking...after you ask her a question. Please give her time after you talk to her so she knows that hearing her voice is worth the wait.

Please let her run amuck at recess.  Please let her cheat death on the equipment the same way her friends do and remember she isn't easily broken. 

Please be patient with her mom.  I may be pushy, overly inquisitive and a tad too assertive but please know I want to be your collaborative partner and your biggest fan and forgive any fumbles I make along the way.

Please let her know you believe in her.

Please never forget she believes in you.

Please tell me if she's running low on extra changes of pants or friends so I can respond accordingly.

Please remember to call me if you should ever need anything at all.

Wishing you a very merry school year...

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