I am not sure if my youngest, Matthew, is actually related to me. I mean I look at him and see that he is the perfect combination of Eric and me, but there is something that is just off about him.
He hates football. Seriously. Hates it. He can’t honestly be a Greer and hate football. I mean it is our family tradition.
We can usually convince him to go to the first few games, but I never make it to a game past mid-October. Eric still goes with Ethan and Ella rallies sometimes too. I stay home with the Grinch who hates football.
Yesterday on the way home from our trip, I asked Matthew why he hated football. Without skipping a beat he growled (just like the Grinch)…
When they get in the stadium it is filled with that
I have done the “Black Friday” experience a number of different ways, but this year I freakin NAILED it.
A couple of years ago, my sister in law had the “iPad Christmas” for her triplets. Obviously, that mandated a late night Wal-Mart run in order to save literally hundreds of dollars. And we had a blast. Our husbands came too and it was like the most hysterical, entertaining, pitiful double date. And I didn’t even have to get dressed up. We plotted and strategized. Drank caffeine way too late. Found the Blu-Ray player I didn’t even realize I HAD to have. Made friends with complete strangers in line. Searched for the ever-elusive $3.99 chopper for Nana. Combed through $5 DVDs that we would never watch. Sent the boys to investigate when we heard there was a fight over a basketball goal. But the bottom line was even though our goal was to get gifts for kids…there were none in sight. Holla!
This year that was no big item that necessitated Wal-Mart crazy. There is one thing on my kids’ list that was $50 off. After thinking about it, we decided we would pay $50 to have a chill Thanksgiving night. Since I was sawin’ logs before 10:00, that was a solid choice.
Our Black Friday morning tradition is to go to the town square in Eric’s home town, Paris, TN, to see Santa come to town in the fire engine. How many more years will our kids be excited to do this??? “Santa is coming!!!” (You have to read this like Buddy the elf). We saw Santa come in and even got a hug from Mrs. Claus. Afterwards, we went and shopped at some local businesses that were full of Christmas cheer. My favorite, of course, is “My Favorite Things,” were Nana works. It is such a cute shop with tons of character and is filled with lots of things that could become my next favorite thing 😉
We went home to have a plate of leftovers even though we were no where near hungry…because I will have to wait a whole other year to eat Thanksgiving food again, so why not??!! We packed up our stuff ready to head back home to Nashville.
As soon as we got home and got everyone squared away, I headed out to do my Black Friday shopping…a full 24 hours past the official start. And friends, after 6 days of non-stop family, I was seriously needing some Steph Time. I love my family; there isn’t a single one that I don’t love to freakin pieces. But sometimes it is nice to just not have to talk. Just have peace and quiet.
So naturally I went to my zen place – Target. I pulled into the parking lot with my list and nearly got a front row Joe parking spot. Score. Sure I had to flick some stale popcorn from the bottom of the cart, but there were plenty of carts to choose from. Score. Found my 7′ un-lit tree (because I have sworn off pre-lit trees because the lights always go out and look janky) Score. Got all our super cute clothes on sale for our angel. Score. Scanned, bagged, and paid for with my Red Card in less than an hour. Score. And I figure since a lot of the DVDs and Door Buster things that I would have just thrown in my cart were gone, I actually came out ahead savings wise! SCORE!!
So I think I have this Black Friday thing figured out. (For me anyway). Enjoy Thanksgiving and Friday morning. Let the crazies get off the road and out of the stores 😉 Then the world (or Target) is your oyster. At least until we have the “iPad Christmas.” Although, Mama doesn’t even have an iPad yet, so we have some time yet 😉
So tonight I can relax with a glass of Chardonnay, while I watch my husband put up my new tree and string the lights. (Because he won’t let you touch the tree or lights because I may have strung them one year and it looked janky, so I lost Christmas tree privileges. Really who is the winner now??? 😉 Score.
Love. Math Skills. Patience. And UT Football. These are the things my husband, Eric, brings to the parenting table. I admit when I started dating Eric at the University of Tennessee, I wasn’t a huge football fan. I went to the games, but I really only cared about if we won because that would dictate how fun the parties would be that night. Fortunately, we had a full nine months of dating before the season started so that he could bring me around.
Little did I know that his (and now my) love of UT Football would be a cornucopia of life lessons for our children.
Here are 7 Vol For Life lessons for my kids:
Tradition is important. UT Football isn’t just a game. It is a TRADITION. I married into a family that is steeped in this tradition. If it is a Saturday and the Vols are playing, you are there cheering until you are hoarse the next day. We planned our wedding around the school calendar for the teachers, the harvest for the farmers, and the UT football schedule for the inlaws. Our Saturdays in the fall are reserved for the Orange, White, and Family. Watching and cheering on the Vols has given an opportunity for our oldest son, Ethan, to have a special bond with not only his Daddy but his Papa too. He loves to watch the game and ask a million questions so that he knows the ins and outs of how the game is played. UT football is a tradition for our whole family that will last a lifetime. Whether we win or lose, we don’t lose our tradition.
MyAll. We give our all for Tennessee. We don’t just roll into the parking lot right before the game. No. We warm up with a big tailgate. Make a mad dash to Peyton Manning Pass for the Vol Walk. Watching Ethan’s excitement as he brushes fingers with Coach Jones and all the players he idolizes on the field makes the huge crowd worth it. We tear up as we sing the alma mater, nearly come out of our skin with excitement as we watch the Pride of the Southland Band form the Power T, cheer wildly when we see the team storm through the T, sing Rocky Top at the top of our lungs, devour Touchdown Dogs, and third down for what like no one’s business. And we don’t just do this for the “big” games. Every. Dang. Game. And that is what you gotta do in life. You can do it halfway just to get through or give it your all and really live.
Teachable Moments. Sometimes when you are giving it your all, you encounter people who take a whole different meaning to that saying. The week before the first game this season I had been talking to the kids about alcohol. I was trying to explain to them that when you had too much, it would cause you to make bad choices. When we were tailgating at Nissan Stadium, Ethan and I witness a man who was stumbling around and singing “Rocky Top” at the top of his lungs up and down the parking lot. At 10 a.m. I looked at Ethan and said, “Son, you remember when I said too much alcohol can cause you to make bad choices?” He answered, “Yea. You mean you can act a fool.” Bingo. Bless that man. I am sure he thought he was giving his all for Tennessee, but I am fairly certain he wasn’t standing by the time the game started four hours later. All kinds of lessons of what to do and not to do at games.
Celebrate the wins. I was spoiled when I was a student at The University of Tennessee in the late 90s. We were on a great winning streak. We expected to win. We haven’t had a season like that in Ethan’s lifetime. Ethan was the only one in the family that could make the Georgia game because of other commitments we couldn’t get out of. It’s ok. He didn’t need us. He just met his Papa at a Truck Stop off the interstate and rolled on to Rocky Top without us. I was so glad he was there to experience that win. I had tears rolling down my face when I saw the players sitting on the wall in the end zone with the fans. They deserved that win and were basking in its glory. When I finally talked to Ethan a few hours later, I could still hear the excitement in his voice. It is important to take the time to celebrate the good times.
Don’t let Defeat defeat you. Ah, there is always that other side of the coin. And unfortunately, we have had more experience with this side than we would like. That is the way life is though. Sometimes we work our butts off, think everything is going to go our way, and fail. And it sucks. And sometimes it isn’t fair. It is a really hard concept for a 9-year old boy (or even a 37-year old man). We can get mad when things don’t go our way. Sulk. Hang our head in defeat. Get ready to just throw all our plans out the window. And sometimes you do have to get your mad out. Last week after the loss to Bama, Ethan was heartbroken and spittin’ mad. We gave him some alone time. When that wasn’t enough, we had him run some laps around the house. Then my husband gave him a stick and told him to go hit a tree. (Laisseze Faire parenting at its finest 😉 After all that is said and done, we have to dust ourselves off, learn from our mistakes, and prepare for next week. But back to #1. Tradition. You don’t turn your back on your team.
No one is perfect. There are eleven players…people…humans that are on the field. Not a one of them are perfect, but we expect them to never make a mistake. Every kick that is missed…reception that is dropped…ball that is fumbled. No one wants that play to be executed perfectly more than that player. And that player? I will blink and Ethan will be the same age as him. They are still kids growing into men with the pressure that I could not even begin to understand. They are going to make mistakes because they are human. The key will be for them to learn from the mistakes and practice to improve just like in real life. And we have to learn to not be so hard on others.
It’s all about CHARACTER. Ethan has no less than six Peyton Manning jerseys (UT, Colts & Broncos, of course). Sure he is an amazing athlete, but he is an even more phenomenal man of character. I am proud to see Ethan wear his number on his chest. I gladly plastered a Fathead of Peyton on his bedroom walls. I am thankful for players like Joshua Dobbs who works his tail off on the field and in the classroom. Oh how he wishes he could have a Dobbs jersey!! Darn NCAA rules!! 😉
So now we are faced with a real grown up sized problem. The next game is Saturday night…in Lexington…on Halloween. It was a time of serious contemplation in our house. Travel 3.5 hours to Lexington to cheer on the Vols? Or Trick or Treat.
Dun Dun Dun!!!!!
Agony. Tears. Then…free candy won out. That is the great thing about tradition, we have a lifetime to cheer on the VOLS. But I am on borrowed time of having kids who still want to be kids.
And Ethan is dressing up as his other fav – Jalen Hurd.
If you missed the first letter to Ethan and Ella, check it out first 🙂
Nine Years Ago Today – October 15
October 15, 2006
Dear Ethan & Ella –
Steph in the hospital with her visitor – Majors!
The last few days have gotten harder on me. I am trying to remain strong. I have gotten more and more uncomfortable. I can only lie on my left and right side and that gets old 24 hours a day. But I will do it as long as I can! I made it to the 32-week mark, so now we are aiming for 34-weeks.
It is funny I have had the same nurses the whole time I have been in the hospital. They are now getting to the point of being surprised that I am still here after they come back from their days off. “You haven’t had those babies yet??!!” We are hanging tough, and they are all cheering for me.
Your Nana and Papa came and visited with us on their way home from Knoxville today. My back started to hurt more and more throughout the day. It got pretty tough to lie back with a smile on my face and act like I was okay. It was a brutal night. I feel like it was one giant constant contraction that never lets up. I wasn’t able to sleep more than a few minutes at a time and I am in so much pain that I have actually thrown up a few times. Your Daddy is starting to look a little freaked out and that is not easy to do!
I still love my Opals & the love they represent
Daddy knew I needed some cheering up, so he gave me a present today. When I opened my gift bag, I found an opal necklace and earrings. Opal is the birthstone for October. It brought tears to my eyes. It cheered my up not only because they were pretty, but it was the message he was saying to me. My due date is in December, and we knew I would never make it that long. November is only 17 days away, but it feels like an eternity away. He was telling me that I have fought hard, and that it was ok to have you in October. I can’t tell you how much that meant to me. I wouldn’t be letting him down if I couldn’t make it until November.
But I still have 16 days left in October. I will keep fighting as long as I can.
Every day = 4 less in the NICU. Every day = 4 less in the NICU.
Life can be a series of highs and lows. My life has certainly been a testament to that. Met and married my wonderful husband Eric – High. Tried to conceive for a couple of years, failed fertility treatments, surgery – Low. Successfully got pregnant through IVF – HUGE High! High risk pregnancy that left me on bed rest for what felt like most of my pregnancy – Low. Delivering premature but healthy twins – High/Low. Five weeks and one day of being separated from them in the NICU – Low.
I could go on and on. I want to share with you one of my favorite Highs. He is my little Miracle High. Eric and I were told that there was absolutely no way that we could conceive naturally. For that reason we went through IVF to conceive Ethan and Ella. I have no doubt that it was, indeed, a fact. As I said this is a Miracle High.
I woke up just like the day before. I had no idea that this morning would change all of our lives so much! Eric was getting ready for work and I was lying in bed watching Sports Center (his choice, not mine). I remembered that I needed to call in a prescription that day. Before I could get it, I had to take a pregnancy test. My cycle was running way too long and I needed to get on progesterone to get me back on track. I always thought this was a funny thing for me, of all people, to have to do. I mean, we know I can’t get pregnant. On top of that, I went back on birth control after I had Ethan and Ella. I was simply taking it for convenience sake. Eric and I often laughed about what money we wasted on all those birth control pills early in our marriage. So off I went to pee on my little stick. I unloaded the dishwasher, sat down, and watched TV for a minute. Should I get the kids up? Oh no wait…better go check the test and get that out of the way.
I walked into the guest bath and looked at the test on the sink. Double take…were those TWO lines? Huh? I must be seeing things. I heard Eric say something so I threw the hand towel over the test and jumped back in bed. Eric said, “Why do you look so weird?” I was still in shock so I said, “Just tired.” He went back to the closet to finish getting dressed and I ran back to the bathroom for a second look. Yes. Definitely two lines. How did this happen??? I mean I know how it happens for most, but not us! We were told that we couldn’t get pregnant on our own. Holy cow. Eric’s birthday was the next day. Boy, could I have fun with this!!! I ran upstairs to get the babies up and whispered my secret in their tiny ears. I was pretty sure they smiled.
Thankfully Eric left shortly after that. I am told later that I am in MAJOR trouble for letting him go to work because he would have called in sick. Whoops. I quickly called my mom, my sister, and Kristen. Kristen, my personal OB nurse, reassured me that the home tests are pretty accurate. Even so, I had my mom come over so I could get an official blood test at the doctor’s office. I still didn’t believe it. I went and looked at the home test again. Still two lines! When I called Dr. Blake’s office to get the test they acted like I was crazy. “Mrs. Greer, we usually don’t do blood tests if you have a positive home test.” I replied, “I know, but I don’t believe it. When can I come in?” I went in immediately, got my blood drawn, and paid to have the results to me stat.
I cried and prayed on the whole way home from the doctor’s office. I was smiling ear to ear and laughing as I praised God. I am sure anyone who passed by me on the road thought I was crazy. And I was. Crazy happy. I couldn’t believe God’s blessing on us. How could this be? It took so much for us to get pregnant with Ethan and Ella. Nothing had changed with us. We were still infertile. I mean, I was on BIRTH CONTROL too! This was really a miracle straight from above.
All day I avoided calls from Eric and his sister, Amy. How in the world could I play this one off? I couldn’t even sit down I was so excited! I finally got the “official positive” test results from the doctor. Hallelujah! Praise God!! I checked the home test one more time and finally threw it in the trash.
Now how in the world would I give Eric the total shock of his lifetime??? The way we found out we were pregnant with Ethan and Ella was so impersonal. We called into a voicemail box and listened to a stranger tell us the good news. Not that we minded one bit. We were finally pregnant!!
I decided I would get the kids Big Brother and Big Sister t-shirts, take their pictures in it, frame it, and give it to Eric for his birthday. Well I am not sure how many of you have tried to get a 16-month old kid to stand still so you can get a good picture of him. Now throw in a second child. It isn’t possible. Just take it from me. So I decided the next best thing was to just wrap up the shirts and let Eric open those.
We waited on pins and needles until Eric got home. Of course since we were anxiously awaiting him, he didn’t get home until after 7. After the kids’ bath, Eric read them a story, and then they just had to give their Daddy an early birthday present.
I turned the camera off right after I told him so we could all snuggles. There were lots of happy tears all around. I was told later that Eric was thinking “Why in the world did she give me some shirts for the kids for my birthday?” Apparently what I thought was pretty plain isn’t plain to a man.
How many times did I chant that as I was a student at the University of Tennessee? A Gazillion. And it still gives me goose bumps. This is Matthew’s favorite cheer because he “cannot even begin to spell Tennessee!”
I say it is great to be a Tennessee Vol!
I became a Tennessee Volunteer when I started my freshman year in 1995. I became an Elementary Volunteer several years later when my kids started Kindergarten.
I admit at first it was because I couldn’t let go of them. Just being in their school helped me feel closer because I just missed the little boogers. Very quickly it turned into so much more.
Here are the top 6 reasons, I volunteer at my kids’ school:
The schools need us. I am fortunate to be part of a wonderful, top-notch school system. Still…I get overwhelmed with my three kids…and I only have them for a few hours before bed. Why would I not expect a teacher with 20 or so kids all day need some help from time to time?
Volunteering gives me an outlet to express one of my primary Love Languages: Acts of Service. I absolutely love to help people. And if I can reciprocate to those who devote their life to helping my children…I am in Heaven. What a blessing to be able to do!
I get to know the teachers and staff at the kids’ school. These wonderful people spend more of my kids’ waking hours with them than I do! I want to be acquainted with them. I want them to know they can count on me to partner with them to help make the kids’ education the best that it can be. Or they can just count on me to spoil them with snacks when they have a long, hard day 😉
I meet the kids’ new friends that I heard so much about at the dinner table. With school and after school activities, play dates are quickly becoming a thing of the past. How else can I meet Sally or Johnny?
And just as important, I got to know their mamas. I have kindled new friendships while at the same time getting to know the parents who will be spending a great deal of time with my kids for years to come. If your kids are going over to someone’s house, you want to feel comfortable with the parents!
For now…and who knows how long it will last…they want me there. I am absolutely savoring every moment. They are excited when I get to pop into the cafeteria or they bump into me in the library. Sometimes I get a sly, “I’m trying to be cool” smile and sometimes I am almost knocked down with a bear hug. All the time, though, it is a blessing. I got to read to Ethan’s 3rd grade class on Friday. They hung on every word as I read “The Wizard of Oz.” How many more opportunities will I have to do this? Not many. Savoring. Every. One.
I know volunteering in our children’s school isn’t something that everyone is able to or even may want to do. And that is okay.We need to recognize that we all have different circumstances, abilities and desires. Every one of us serves our own very important role in our children’s lives. We need strong, Christian women in the classrooms teaching our kids. We need strong, Christian women in the boardroom being a positive influence in Corporate America. We need strong, Christian women taking care of us in the doctor’s offices. These are women that my daughter can look up to and say, “I can be a CEO or a doctor if I work hard because I see Joy’s mama did it!”
I had a hard time when I was faced with the decision about continuing to teach or taking time off so that I could focus on my family and writing. I struggled with whether it was ok for me to quit working and “just volunteer.” The bottom line was that God put the desire in my heart and the circumstances that allowed me to volunteer…to serve in my children’s school. And there is nothing “just” about that.
I started the day the same way I always do with a nice, brisk 3.5 mile walk. Just me, my iPod, and my God. As I walk I pray over my family and day. I end each prayer with “Lord, help me make good choices with my time. Make this your day, Lord.”
You see, since I quit teaching last year to focus on my writing, I have become very cognizant of how I spend my time. Call it responsible or call it stay at home mom guilt. The truth is probably somewhere in between. Either way I am really trying to make a conscious effort of being a good steward of my time.
This actually fits quite nicely with my Type A personality. Eric calls it crazy. I call it very organized. I have my iCal organized to perfection with seven different color-coded calendars. It helps me know where I need to be and what I need to accomplish during my day.
This particular day was packed to the gills. I had a lot to do while the kids were at school, and my parents were coming over for dinner that night. I was ready to strap on my roller skates and hit that to-do list from drop off to pick up like a BOSS. I got my three kids loaded up to head to school. We were on a roll… no fighting for the second day in a row on the 5-minute ride to school…Holla!
Just as the alarm rang for the kids to hop out of the car, my oldest son asked, “Mama, can you come eat lunch with me today?” I was surprised. Ethan never asked me to come eat with him anymore. In fact, the last time I ate with him at school, he practically ignored me the whole time as he chatted with his friends. My feelings weren’t hurt. Those kids work hard all day and are excited to just get to visit with their friends as they shove lunch in their mouths. That was their time. Feeling as if I was almost intruding on their friend time, I hadn’t made it a big priority to go eat lunch with them at school this year.
I glanced from his big, beautiful brown eyes to my full iCal with a little bit of panic. “Oh no! Oh no! I don’t have this on the schedule. I haven’t even showered yet today!” I thought frantically. Oh, but those eyes! And I remembered what I prayed…Lord, help me make good choices with my time. How could I choose anything over spending some time with my baby when he asks? “I’ll make it work, Buddy,” I said as I kissed his cheek. He beamed at me and jumped out of the car.
Skates strapped on, I raced to accomplish as much as I could before lunchtime. I squeezed in a shower and put on clean workout clothes…because the hair and make-up bar is automatically set lower if you are sporting workout clothes 😉 I sat at the lunch table in a rowdy cafeteria with my three kids and three of their friends. I celebrated with Ella about the test she was sure she aced. I encourage Ethan and his friend about the test they were going to take after lunch. Matthew and his friend caught me up on the gossip of first grade. And it was wonderful. The best part was getting to give them each a hug before they left. Maybe they needed that extra bit of affection in the midst of the day. I know I did. I left the cafeteria knowing I made the right decision. I was able to finish everything I wanted to accomplish that day and even got to make some cookies that weren’t even on the agenda!
How often do we schedule ourselves so much that we miss out on the little things that really are the big things? The school lunches with our kids. The walk with a friend. Just being available to sit and talk to someone who needs a friend. Or just not feeling like a zombie by the time you lay your kids down, so you can actually stay awake to spend time with your husband??
I think my goal of being a good steward of my time is a positive goal. Being able to stay home is a gift that I never want to take for granted. However, I need to remember to keep my ears open and listen to God as He directs my day. It’s what I prayed for after all, isn’t it? Praying for His day then filling it with all My plans makes me miss God’s APPOINTment.
I am a work in progress. I am far from being “fly by the seat of my pants,” but I am at least leaving room in my schedule to attempt to be spontaneous 😉
This was the new game that my three young children were playing. Over. And over. And over again.
Have I mentioned that my kids are a tad bit on the weird side? I have no clue where they came up with this variation on the classic game. The rules were similar to how I played:
Rock smashes Scissors.
Paper covers Rock.
Scissors cut Paper.
Then there was their addition. God. Simply put, God beats everything.
Even given that divine slam-dunk, they didn’t choose God every time. Then they would be shocked if their sibling chose God and won. My husband, Eric, and I would die laughing.
Why wouldn’t you choose God every dang time??
But we are all that way, aren’t we? When we are faced with a tough situation, do we always make the right choice? Do we immediately choose God? Or do we choose:
Rock (trying to deal with the issue on our own),
Paper (avoiding the issue by filling up our life with distractions) or
Scissors (talking to everyone else about it except God)?
Rock? Paper? Scissors? God?
BAM. God Wins. Every dang time.
My youngest, Matthew, put a different spin on it this weekend. Instead of doing Rock, Paper, Scissors, or God, he added a new one. He made a motion in sign language. When I asked what it was, he yelled, “I just went all Holy Spirit on you!!”
Never in this world has this phrase ever been uttered.
In my “Stuff Steph Loves” blog posts, I like to feature products or businesses that enrich my life. Whether it is because I love their product, what they stand for, or if they make my life easier, I like to spread the love to my readers. Gotta help Mamas out, right?
With Kindergarten Toolkit, I hit the trifecta because it hits all three. The Kindergarten Toolkit was developed by my good friend and a former Kindergarten teacher, Carrie.
I remember feeling a TON of pressure as my kids were approaching Kindergarten. Let’s be honest. Kindergarten today is nothing like my childhood Kindergarten. It is more like the 80s 1st grade…minus the Trapper Keeper and Roos! Kids today are expected to start Kindergarten knowing what we learned in our first year of elementary school. Yikes!
Before my kids started Kindergarten, I would stay up at night thinking… Are they ready? Do they know everything they need to know? What if they are behind? Oh my goodness. If they start behind, how will we ever catch up? Are going to be living in my basement at 30 years old?? I am not a teacher. How in the world can I help them learn everything they need to know?!?
If you have ever thought any of those things too, the Kindergarten Toolkit is for you. Here are a few ways that the Kindergarten Toolkit can turn you, Mama, into the Teacher of the Year!
Designed specifically for preschoolers. You can start with your child at two and it will grow with them all the way through Kindergarten.
Builds a foundation of learning throughout the preschool years to promote Kindergarten readiness! Confident kids = happy Mamas. It is perfect for those off days of preschool and summer vacation!
The Toolkit focuses on 10 main goals based on what kids will be assessed on to ensure your kids are confident and comfortable when they started Kindergarten.
Each of the 10 main goals has 3-4 mini lessons on how to teach that goal. There are also “Toolkit on the Go” ideas for when you are out and about. Follow Kindergarten Toolkit on Instagram and FB to get great ideas about how to use your Toolkit in a ton of creative ways! I am constantly amazed about how simple Carrie makes it and the kids are having FUN!
Designed so that anyone can work with the child and the tools in the Toolkit. No education degree required! Parent, Grandparent, or babysitter…anyone can easily use the tools.
One stop shop….everything you will need in one box!! No more searching for random learning tools around the house…..flashcards, workbooks, lined paper etc.
Got 5 minutes to kill while you are waiting? Lessons can be that quick. Perfect for your preschooler’s short attention span! Have fun learning instead of trying to keep them from licking everything is sight 😉
Only one Toolkit per one family needed. Items included in the toolkit are:
The Toolkit booklet – 3-4 mini lessons for each of the 10 Kindergarten goals. There are also supplemental pages in the back that are designed to be copied for future assessments and lessons, so you can use it for multiple children!
Four sets of flashcards – Upper and lower case letters, Numbers 1-20, 25 Kindergarten sight words,10 colors and shapes
Whiteboard and pen
Last and certainly not least, the Kindergarten Toolkit was created to foster one-on-one learning time with your child. Quality, special, sit down learning time…that isn’t at Preschool, from an iPad or the TV. Those can all play a very important part, but you are establishing yourself as a partner in their education.
Be kind. Say please and thank you. Look people in the eye when you speak to them. Say your prayers. Eat your fruit and vegetables. Read at least 20 minutes a day. Keep your hands to yourself. Wash behind your ears. If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Please quit tooting.
These are the directions that I pepper my children with daily. At times, it can be overwhelming for them (and me!) but it is necessary. Raising children is tough work. There are some days when I lie in bed and think, “Well, I really blew it today!” Instead of talking about good choices with Ella, I made a bad choice and argued back with her. The kids fought all afternoon. I yelled. Their dinner plates did not have a single vegetable or fruit on it. My dinner plate was a bag of microwave popcorn. I didn’t read with Matthew today. I ran around all day and still didn’t accomplish everything I meant to. And I am pretty sure I nodded off during Ethan’s prayer. Mama. Of. The. Year.
Even though I fail sometimes, all of these lessons are necessary. I mean we want kids who can function in society with manners and no tooting, right? As I sat in Sunday School this week, I was reminded that of all the lessons I teach my kids, there are a couple that are the greatest.
Jesus replied, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 15: 37-39, NIV)
We have been singing Amazing Grace and Jesus Loves Me since they were in my belly. My babies know how much Jesus loves them, and they are growing to love Him more and more each day. What a comfort to me that they will grow up having Jesus in their heart and by their side.
The second commandment can be tough. When everyone is getting along and it is good times, it is easy to love your neighbor as yourself. But what about those times when thy neighbor isn’t being nice? What about when your neighbor can be down right un-neighborly?
Ella came home last week upset. “Mama, can we have some alone time?” She crawled in my lap and cried big, fat tears as she told me about how her feelings were hurt at school. My Mama bear side wanted to say, “Sissy, what would Taylor say?? Shake ‘em off, girl. Go swing with someone else! You don’t need friends like that!” What was that scripture? Oh yeah. Love your neighbor as yourself. There was no condition like “Love your neighbor as yourself….so long as they are loving to you too!”
After some rocking, hair smoothing, and praying for the right words, I gave it my best shot. “Ella, sweet girl, I am so sorry your feelings got hurt. You can’t control how they act, but you can control how you act. Continue to be kind to them, and let’s pray for them to make better choices. Spend time with your friends that are being kind and don’t take your friendship for granted. When the other ones realize they made a bad choice (because you know they will because girls are fickle as all get out!), forgive them. Your best friends, however, need to be those friends that treat you the way you treat them…with kindness. Those are the best kinds of friends that you hold close to you.”
I may fail on a lot of my Mama Objectives. I can’t make my boys quit burping or tooting (and Lord knows I have tried!!). I don’t always succeed by having the perfect food pyramid in my kids’ diet. I may have to shoot “crazy eyes” before I get a please and thank you. And I get frustrated and raise my voice more often than I care to admit.
But if I focus on the great commandments in my family’s life, it’s all gonna be alright.