Sunday, October 31, 2010

Firsts

Our lives have been filled with many firsts lately. When I thought about writing this post, I was thinking more about the firsts that Gage has been experiencing - outdoor school, middle school dances, mainstream classrooms, but the more I thought about it I am experiencing firsts as well. It's amazing how easy it is to lose sight of the newness of life when you are going 90 miles a hour ahead into the unknown.

Gage went to outdoor school this past week. He was so excited about it. As long as I have known Gage, he has talked excitedly about outdoor school. His older cousin Jonah got to go a few years ago, and I think that is probably when the seed was planted in Gage's mind. He would bring it up randomly, but more so when we were preparing to go camping or were actually camping. He would hypothesize what it would be like to sleep away at camp with strangers, or whether he would like the food. Sometimes he would talk about the stuff he would like to do including archery, swimming, food fights and general tweenage fun.

When the time came this year to actually go to outdoor school, I was a little worried that he wouldn't enjoy it as much. I know what it's like to build something up in your head so much that there is no humanly way possible for it to come true. I really hoped it wouldn't happen this way for him. So when I saw his sweet face debarking from the school bus last Friday, I was excited to hear how it went.

For nearly two hours he recalled all his adventures, shared stories of hiking, archery, new friends, bugs, two desserts a day, short showers, dressing in sleeping bags, earning beads for leadership and all the other fun he had. After he finished up, I asked him if it was everything he thought it would be. His answer was no, but that he would do it again if he had the chance.

That response was another first for Gage. He has rounded the corner heading full steam ahead towards maturity, and we have been working hard to help him realize that life isn't always going to be the way you want it. However, you do have a choice in how you respond. You can either stew on what you don't have, think you deserve, didn't get and want to have or you can enjoy the ride and know that maybe next time it will be different. It's a hard lesson for anyone, but he's getting it.

It's moments like these that are firsts for me. I feel like I am really contributing to the wellbeing of this sweet child. Occasionally I have moments where I feel frustrated or unsure in my role. I am not his biological mom, but I am responsible for his wellbeing, both physical and emotional. There are things that if I had it my way, I would have done differently. However, at this point it's neither here nor there. So I sit back in my role as step-mom and do my best, hoping some of my good qualities will rub off on him too. I can't wait for more firsts and being there to share them with him.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Fall Fun!

Team Mongoose decided to spread our pumpkin adventures over the course of two weekends! We tried to organize a pumpkin farm adventure with friends, but I failed to anticipate the craziness of an early Sunday morning at the farm. We did get to hang out with Kelly & Michael and Suzanna & April. Sweet Dizzle, Michael & Kelly's dog was along for the ride too. The Shattuck-Hardy Family started out with us, but it proved to be a little to overwhelming for the little ones. Better planning next years, meaning get there earlier and bring a wagon! All of that aside, it was a GORGEOUS October fall day. We couldn't have asked for better weather.










The following weekend, Team Mongoose spent a rainy Friday night designing and decorating our pumpkins. Alan and Gage decided to go the fancy route and use a stencil to create their ghoulish pumpkin. Me, I stuck with the simple first grade look. Why change it up when I am so good at that!? ;)












We had a really good time. Gage is still young enough to have fun and not get too caught up in the "my parents are sooo dorky" attitude! I totally remember feeling that way about my parents. Hopefully we have him a little bit longer! :)

Friday, October 29, 2010

I think I must be doing something right...

After two hours straight of the kiddo telling me all about his outdoor school adventures - every counselor he met, hike, stinky boy stuff he did - he tells me he learned a song that he "knew instantly" I would really like. I asked him to sing it to me, which he said he was too embarrassed to, but he really wanted me to read the lyrics. Check this out...

" A penny's made of copper,
love is made of hearts,
magic is within us all,
too soon we must depart,
a magic love is in the air,
the spirit round you flies,
a magic penny means i care,
your magic in my eyes.

For a magic penny says the things no words can say,
its a silent song of friendship that has grown,
to someone who gives back to you,
the love you gave away,
a magic penny will never be alone

For nothing can be had,
from a penny you don't spend,
love can never grow inside till given to a friend,
i've learned so much from all of you,
i wish this would not end,
but if we learned to share our love,
it will come back again.

For a magic penny says the things no words can say,
its a silent song of friendship that has grown,
to someone who gives back to you,
the love you gave away,
a magic penny will never be alone."

How sweet is that? And that he thought of me. Even sweeter. I sometimes don't know how good of a stepmom he thinks I am, but in moments like that I think I am doing ok.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

we are all learning...

I think we all forgot what it was like when 2/3 of us are back in school and Alan works full-time. Now that Gage is in middle school and is mainstreaming, there is more homework to be done. Getting it done on time means something different than it did before. We are all working on getting our schedules figured out and making sure that our needs are being met.

Co-parenting a middle school student is a bit more challenging too. They want more freedom, but there are also more responsibilities, both personally and academically. At Chateau du Mongoose we are trying to teach Gage how to manage multiple responsibilities and prioritization, both of which are challenging for adults to do, let alone an eleven year old. As I arrived home from class last night at 9:30pm and watched Gage and Alan put the final touches on his first big social studies project due this morning, I felt a mixture of pride and frustration. I was proud that with little struggle, Gage was getting the project done. He had spent the better part of his time, since arriving at our home around 6:30p, crafting all the pieces, writing up the notes and decorating the box. Gage is a great artist and enjoys doing crafts, so this project was more fun than work.

However, I was also frustrated. I was frustrated that he hadn't told us about the project when it was assigned three weeks ago and that we had to learn about it at Back to School night. I was frustrated that he was supposed to have been working on this project for the last three weeks and for the last two weeks, when ever we asked about it he said he was working on it at his mom's. I was frustrated that it was like pulling teeth last week when Alan sat down with him and tried to get him to work on the project. Lastly, I was frustrated when he arrived back at our house yesterday with only one craft done.

These are the years in which we are laying the ground work for how he will be as a student during the rest of middle school, high school and hopefully college. Having a few college degrees under my belt, I know how hard it is to stay on top of projects and how miserable it is to have to stay up all night to finish something I had all term to complete. I wish I would have learned how to plan my time better. I wish I would have learned that doing it incrementally would save me tons of stress and frustration. I don't want Gage to fall into these bad habits.

I know it's only the first project and I probably shouldn't stress it, but I really want to see Gage be successful. It's our job as his parents to make sure that he learns how to do this. We have to lead by example, by sitting with him to make sure he's working on it, and by checking in with each other to make sure we are all on the same page in supporting him. We are all learning this year.

Friday, October 1, 2010

apparently I bought a ticket to overwhelmedville...

Well back into my first week of my final year of grad school. I am really excited to be back. I loved see old friends, and enjoyed meeting some new folks too! My classes are all great, the work load doesn't seem to overwhelming so far. I got to do two days at my internship, both of which were great. I am looking forward to getting to work with clients, hopefully sooner than later.

On the work front, well not much going on there. I was notified by the employment department that I have qualified for the Training Unemployment Insurance program. It was created for displaced workers that could better their job situation if they got an associates or were less than two years from finishing their undergrad degree. I applied for the program last fall, but they denied me. I decided that I would try again this time and since I am over 1/2 done, they made an exception. All it means is that I do not have to actively be looking for work while I am in school. It doesn't give me a bump in the amount that I receive weekly (a whooping $97 after taxes)and the program will end the day I get my degree.

I am still looking for work. I had a second interview on Wednesday. It seemed to go really well until the second to last question. It felt like they wanted a really specific answer and I guess I wasn't understanding exactly what they wanted me to say. I was told that I would hear either way by today and as I haven't heard anything, I am assuming I didn't get the job. So yeah, i am feeling a little stressed about how it will all play out. i am trying really hard to keep a good game face on, not get to stressed out and do the best that I can with what I have. It's all I can do right now.