Friday, September 27, 2013

Where has the time gone?

I felt compelled to go to my blog tonight and was surprised by how long it has been since I have been here.
There is so much to catch up on--so many milestones and sweet moments in the past 9 months.  My girl is growing so much!  We've had some great talks (brief as they are), finished first grade and smoothly transitioned into 2nd, had her first dance recital, experienced her best friend changing schools, and so many other things.

Tonight I have on my mind a few challenges that have come up recently so I'll have to catch on all that other stuff later.

We have entered the world of "little white lies" and it is troubling to me.  It started with her new glasses and school.  She is supposed to wear glasses at school but doesn't need them all the time.  She has had them in her backpack every day but when the teacher has asked her about them she responds "I forgot them"  or "I don't have them".  When I found this out I questioned Hannah and she just buried her head in my shoulder and couldn't look at me.
then she had a little problem with another girl on the playground at school.  She told her teacher that the other girl "did it first" but the teacher found out from the playground monitor that Hannah actually did it first.  When I confronted her she still insisted to me that the other girl did it first.  When I said the teacher saw you do it first she got upset and said "You never believe me".
now tonight she got ready for bed while I was doing something else.  When I got there she was climbing into bed.  I asked her if she did all her stuff--going potty, brushing teeth, and flossing.  She said "yes I did it all" so we went to bed.  Later when I went into the  bathroom I could tell she had not used a towel (I had just put new ones out) and the sink showed no signs of teeth brushing--usually traces of toothpaste are always in the sink.  So I feel fairly certain she lied to me again.
I am perplexed by this as I never caught her in a lie before and she used to tell me everything--even if she knew it would make me mad.  Her teacher tells me it is age appropriate.  I just don't want it to continue.  How do I balance pressing her for the truth between letting her know I trust her?  Right now I am going with the angle that I know she has a good heart and she needs to show that and always tell the truth.

I know at age 7 this is just a preview of things yet to come.  I just pray for wisdom to know how to deal with it all.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Pre-Christmas Part 2

We've talked a lot about the reason for Christmas --the baby Jesus.  Hannah knows the story and it has caused her to ask a lot of questions about babies, real parents, etc.
We have used an advent calendar and read the bible verse each day as we open each little door, lit the candles on the advent wreath each Sunday, and Hannah was in the Christmas pageant at school.  I am happy with how we have kept the religion in the season.

The commercial side is more perplexing to me.  I want her to get excited, have fun, and join in all the things her friends are enjoying but...I don't want her to get materialistic about it.
She had really given me no indication of what she wanted for presents.  She doesn't ask for much or beg me to get her things in the store and I like it that way.  I had friends tell me that they give thier kids the toy catalog and tell them to circle everything they want.  I just didn't want to do that--I don't want to teach her that she should ask for things.

She only ended up asking for two things--a kitten and legos.  Unfortunately mom nixed the kitten idea (She thinks she can get it for her seventh birthday--we'll see).  So that left Legos for Santa to give.  I was on my own to get things from me to her but it wasn't hard.  I got her some new clothes, new shoes, and some things for her barbies, and one game we can play together.
Santa has three Lego sets and a plethora of things for her stocking.
There is no one big ticket item this year and I am ok with that.

I attended a parent's workshop earlier this fall and the speaker sent out a Christmas newsletter.  He talked about free but meaningful gifts we can give our kids and they all helped build the relationship between parent and child.  I took one of those ideas and hope to do it every  year.  So..along with her presents, Hannah will get the following letter from Santa:

Dear Hannah,
I know the song says "You'd better watch out--You better not cry, you better not pout" but I really don't care if you have been naughty or good.  I care about what kind of person you are and I want you to know that I am proud of you.  This past year I have seen you:
--help your friends when they get hurt and I love how you care for others
--help your mom with dishes, laundry, and picking up your toys.  It shows you know what it means to be a responsible family member.
--work hard on your spelling words even when they are hard
--tell your Mom the truth when you have done something wrong.  Good for you for being honest.
--Dance around the living room to your favorite music.  Always keep that joy in your heart.
--Pray to God every night and give him thanks for the good things in your life.  I have even heard you say the Sign of the Cross in French!
--Always ask for treats and eat more sweets than you should but then you ask for some healthy fruit.
--work on your cartwheels until you got good and you keep practicing your handstands, soon you will be very good at them too!  Never give up.
--Get so excited when  you can visit your cousins.  I am glad you know how important family is.
--Give your Mom special hugs and kisses and tell her you Love her.  She really likes that and it makes her feel happy inside.
--tell people you are sorry when you have hurt their feelings or accidently hurt them.
--Use lots of imagination when you play--you can think of the best stories in the car.
--Get so excited when you can play with some one's pet, like Annika's hamster or Mary Lou's animals, or David's horses.  Always keep that love of animals.

I know why your Mom is so so proud of you. 
I am too!
Love, Santa

Pre Christmas Part 1

We have had such a fun Holiday season this year leading up to Christmas.
Many special events have helped us get ready and into the spirit of the season:

Hannah's school had their Christmas concert on 12/12/12.  It was Hannah's first stage debut and she did great.  Despite it being crowded and chaotic, I truly enjoyed watching her.

She had her second stage debut performing in the church pageant of the Christmas Story.  All the first graders were star bearers and each had to make thier own star to carry.  It was another fun night.  She also had her singing debut when she sang "Away in a manger" with two other friends.

We spent a lovely afternoon having tea with the Sugar Plum Fairy and then later went to see "The Nutcracker".  Hannah just loves that story and the ballet.

Our final event was the Lori Line Christmas Concert.  This was somewhat of a tradition for my parents and I.  We went together many years and they both loved it.  Now I am able to pass that down to Hannah.  Somehow on this night she looked like such a grown up girl in her Christmas finery.  She loved the show but slightly more than halfway through I got proof that she was still my little girl as she fell fast asleep and missed the last 45 minutes.  She even slept through a killer drum solo!

Things we did together at home included decorating the tree and making cookies.  We also made santa, a snowman, and a snowlady to adorn our front window.

Christmas is so much fun with a child!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Just catching up

I started this post with nothing profound to write about but realized it has been so long since I've posted and I really should get some of our life down in word.

Summer has just zoomed by. The many hot days of July seemed to slow us down a bit as it was just too hot to go the park or do anything outside other than swim so we had quite a few pool visits.  It is one of Hannah's favorite things and there were always other mom's there so it was all good.

In July we did vacation in Northern WI and stayed at a cabin on the lake with my sister and her family.  My brother's seven year old daughter came with Hannah and I and the girls had a blast.  We lucked out with the best weather that week and truly enjoyed every minute of it.  It was interesting having another girl along with us.  I was worried about my niece getting lonely for her mom and dad and she did a few nights but overall did very well with it.  Hannah's reaction was interesting also--at one point she reminded me, "I am your only daughter, right Mom?".  Another time I called my niece sweetheart and Hannah said, "You can call her Mary Lou--you can only call me all those other names."  Made me smile inside.

We also had a great McNab campout weekend in August.  Our biggest turn out ever with 63 people there.  Kids running around having fun for three days.  My cousin's wife added a new feature this year by planning a very elaborate three hour scavenger hunt that has us running all over town.  48 of us participated and were divided into 8 teams--it was really the highlight of the weekend.

If you look back two posts ago, you will recall that I struggled some with the decision of what grade Hannah should attend this year. 
She started first grade and is quite cute in her uniform if I say so myself.

The first week was the honeymoon.  On the first day of school the teacher sent home a puzzle piece and asked the parents to write their wish for what they want their child to get out of 1st grade.  I had many wishes in mind like learn to read, understand math, etc. but had to think about what my one primary wish was and I wrote "to learn the love of learning".   She had already asked the children to fill out the same thing. When we went to school the teacher had the parents puzzle pieces up on a board next to their child's.  Hannah's puzzle piece said "To love school".  I was so thrilled to see that Hannah and I had the same wish for her at school.
Then the adjustment started and it was quite an adjustment.  When the homework started, the tantrums started and it was hard for about a week.   She practically begged to go back to Kindergarten and said she wanted a different teacher because "I just want a fun one, not a learning one".  School has not come easy and she needs to work hard.
Fortunately she has a great teacher who sees her for who she is, enjoys her, works with her, and reassures me that she is working very hard in school so don't get to worried about grades.  She also qualified for Title One reading and has begun that which is a very good thing.  Spelling words every night were such a struggle that first week. 
I have talked with her teacher and listened in on a webinair about adoption and school.  It made so much sense and gives me some good info and ideas.
We seem to have made it over the worst part--she does homework willingly most of the time, she tells me she loves her spelling words, and I am seeing improvement in understanding and study habits.  She is working hard and is so happy when she does well.
Yesterday in the car she started writing in a little notebook she has and she told me--"I am practicing my numbers because I want to keep my brain thinking".  When we got home I saw she had written 1 through 65 and had them all in correct order.
I know we will have to keep working hard this whole year and probably many more to come but I think we are on the right track and I know Hannah can do it--she is a very bright girl.  Hopefully we are headed towards that love of learning we both desire for her.  Although she still says her favorite part of school is when it ends.
In this past week we have added activities also--I have kept the school nights free but on weekends Hannah has lessons for ice skating, ballet, and swimming.  I heard her tell my mom that she likes them all allot but swimming is her most favorite.  We got to keep some fun in our lives and Hannah has already learned that she likes Saturdays best--no school and no church--ha!

When I in the middle of the adoption process I found a small group of women that were all adopting also and had formed an adoption support group.  It was and still is an invaluable group to me.  All the women have children now but we still enjoy getting together and now include our children some of the times.  The woman who started and organized the group has a very busy life and stepped down from the organization of the group so I volunteered to take that on.  We always take the summer off and are now starting back up in October.  I have kept in pretty close touch with some of them but  I am excited to reconnect with all of them.

On a closing note--we are both loving this fall weather.  Hannah can't wait for winter and snow but I hope it holds off for quite a while.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Life is good

So often I get caught up in my busy life--it's not so busy compared to a lot of other people but working full time and being a single mom sure seems busy to me.
I feel the pressure of rushing in the mornings because I can't be late for work and then being so tired by the time we get home.  After dinner is made and eaten, it seems like we have very little time for fun and often my patience is barely hanging on. I have been known to lose it when Hannah can't decide what she wants to wear that day or when she stops to look at every little thing on the way to the car or when she just decides not to listen to me and keeps doing her own thing.  I also get quite disgusted with myself for doing things like forgetting her swimsuit on sprinkler day, forgetting to take her to her tutor session, misplacing some important papers from work, and all the other stupid things I do that I blame on not having enough time.  Somedays I feel completely overwhelmed when I look at how behind I am on laundry, how dirty the bathroom has gotten, how full my closets are, or how dirty my car is. was a beautiful summer day that made me forget all that and just enjoy my life.
I did spend the morning cleaning.  Hannah alternated between watching a movie and playing when she was not helping me clean--which she did happily so it was very peaceful.
After lunch we went off to the pool with good friends--two other single moms and their girls.  We swam most of the afternoon, ate at subway together, and then went back to swim most of the evening.  Weather was perfect, the kids were great, and the company was good.  We had a great combination of kids playing nicely so we could have time to have adult talk and kids playing with us.  I even overheard  Hannah tell some one else, "My mom's the best".
On the way home we stopped at Dairy Queen and shared an oreo brownie sundae-- totally awesome treat and we had such fun sharing it.
At home we showered, put on our pajamas and then Hannah asked me if she could snuggle with me and watch a movie for a little while.  How could I say no to that so...I said yes.  We found an American Girl movie on TV and snuggled into the couch.  She leaned up against me and enjoyed what she saw of the movie.  It felt so wonderful to have her fall asleep in my arms and to carry her into bed like a baby.  I remember the first night I had her at the hotel in Russia--my heart feeling so full as I watched her sleeping in my bed and could hardly believe she was mine.  I relived that feeling tonight.

I don't care about any of that stuff in the first paragraph---I  love my life!!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

On to 1st Grade

If you remember, last year we were debating if Hannah should start Kindergarten or not and decided to challenge her and go ahead and move onto Kindergarten.
She has done well socially and with most subjects however, reading basics have come hard for her.  When meeting with her teacher mid way through the year, she recommended that we consider Hannah repeating Kindergarten as she was behind the other kids in reading basics.
So began the conflict in my mind--send her to 1st grade or repeat Kindergarten.  Of course I wanted to do what would be the best for Hannah but what would that be? On the one hand, it is better to hold a child back at a younger age because self esteem issues come later in years.  I have also heard people say that no one regrets holding thier child back.  But..on the other hand, I want her to move ahead with her friends, and I believe that she is still catching up and will get there eventually so is it better to challenge her?
I started working a little more with her at home and developed our own "homework" based on what they were learning at school and I could see first hand where her difficulties were.  I will admit that sometimes I was frustrated because I did not know how to teach her.  However we plugged away and I started to see some improvment but always wondered if it was enough.
Standardized testing at Hannah's current school showed that she was improving throughout the year but still lagged behind in some areas.
Her current school is a private kindergarten and does not have any higher grades so I planned on switching schools either way--that way, even if she repeated it would be new to her.
Again I researched schools and wanted to find the one that was the best fit for her and for our life.  I found a great school and am excited to be sending her there.  I started working with the principal there and we did the standard testing that they do for their own students at the end of kindergarten.  Again Hannah tested in the average range but had some areas that were lower.  The principal felt that all the deficits showing up on the testing could be handled in first grade.  I also met with her current teacher who felt that Hannah had made great strides during the second half of the year and she was confident with her going to first grade also soo.........I have a first grader.
Her new school worked with me already and I am hapy with our plan.  Hannah will receive tutoring in reading this summer from her new 1st grade teacher.  I think this is great for many reasons--it will help her reading skills, she will get to know her new teacher before the first day of school, and the sessions are conducted in her new school so the environment will be familiar to her before the first day of school.  She will then have this teacher next year and this teacher is the special reading teacher for the school so she will know Hannah's abilities and be able to help her right at her level.
Everyone at her current school and her new school have been so wonderful to work with.  I am very happy and confident with our plan for her education.
Still..there is a part of me that wonders if we will face this discussion every year and as she gets older it will be more difficult to hold her back for other reasons but I guess we will cross that bridge if we have to.
For now, we are getting ready to celebrate Kindergarten graduation.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Mother's Day 2012

Celebrating Mother's Day is very special to me--maybe because I waited 49 years to do it but maybe because I have a great Mother and a great daughter.

This year we spent the weekend at my Mom's house.
Well---Saturday we took my Mom to my brother's house and spent the day with them.  We watched Mary Lou's soccer games in the morning--they won both games and she was quite good.  One of Hannah's many highlights was getting donuts after the game.

We spent the rest of the day at Mike and Connie's place in the country.  They have Mary Lou (who is one year older than Hannah) and horses so it is one of Hannah's favorite places.  We grilled out for lunch--yum yum and Hannah got a horse back ride.  And the weather was unbelievably nice.  What a great day. At one point Hannah sat down next to me and sighed and said "I am having so much fun"

Mom had other plans Saturday evening so the rest of us went out to eat Sat. night and just had a good time being together.

Sunday was spent at Mom's.  We gave Mom a corsage to wear to church and Hannah was with us when we bought it so she picked one out for me as well.  It was my first time with a corsage on Mother's Day!
We made a great Lasagna meal for lunch and all of Steve's and Mike's families was there.  I just love being around family and Hannah does too.

On the drive back home, I asked her "What was your favorite part about this weekend and she said "Being with Mary Lou".  At night when getting ready for bed, I told Hannah that I had a great weekend with her at Grandma's.  She said, "Me too....You are the best Mommy in the whole dress pretty".  Oh my heart--I asked, "Why do you make me so happy?" and she replied, "Because I love you so much and I will stay with you forever!"

It was an awesome Mother's Day.