Jan 27, 2017

Motivational Speech for Teenagers

1/27/2017 — cori

Our school district has this nifty little app called "Campus Portal" where parents and students alike can check their grades at any time. How cool is that?! To have had this gift as a high schooler would have been invaluable to me. Bennett, apparently, doesn't share my excitement for this wonderful little tool. He doesn't make as good of use of it as I would have imagined.

The other morning, after making lunches and waiting for the kids to wake up, I was perusing this important, data-filled site. I made an interesting discovery while looking at Bennett's grades. He got a 40% on an assessment. Not cool. And it was in a class he actually likes and is good at. Armed with this new knowledge, I asked Bennett, "Um, Honey? Why did you get a 40 on a test?"

"Um. I don't know."

"Ya. That answer's not gonna work."

"Um. What class was it?"

"Food and Nutrition."

"Ya, it wasn't a big deal. Don't worry, I've got it all under control."

"Um, no. It is a big deal to me. If you keep this up you're going to end up being a factory worker and you will not like that!"

I was upset if you can't tell. Plus, factory worker?, what hat did I pull that out of? That's the worst possible job I could think of? Granted, it was early morning, but usually I'm on my "A" game at that time of the day. Its the kids who aren't cognitively functional before the sun comes up.

The threat of unfavorable future employment didn't seem to affect Bennett. He just shrugged it off. My little motivational speech went over like a lead balloon. I was going to have to change my strategy.

The whole thing is actually a little ridiculous if you think about it. Bennett is a good student. He has A's and high B's mostly. Every once in a while he'll bomb a test. I'm not a Tiger Mom. I want them to enjoy learning, see the gift that it is, and take advantage of the opportunity to increase their knowledge base. I also know that alot of what schools call "learning" is actually just repetition of facts thrown at them and does them little good in the scheme of things. I always encourage my kids to do their best and I'll be proud of them. I'm not hung up on their grades. But a 40% - that's just not trying. That's give up.

Since my earlier prophecy of future factory employment didn't seem to motivate him, I tried a different angle. I told him of a quote I'd recently heard. He likes quotes. Then I told him how it affected my life. He loves to relate to others and see that he's not the only one who screws up.

"Buddy, remember this: 'The way you do anything is the way you do everything.' So if you cut corners on your math homework, you're cutting corners on the basketball court. If you're not giving your all to physics, you're not giving your all to basketball. Do you understand, Sweetheart?"

This time he actually looked at me, nodded his head and agreed. Everything in his life goes back to basketball. If he thinks he's not doing his best on the court, it really upsets him. His hardest battle is his mind-game. And this quote plays right into that. I told him that I wanted him to repeat that quote every time he walks into a new class, when he runs up and down the court, when he's doing the thing he dislikes the most. Remember.

So he made a screen saver for his ipad with his new mantra on it then headed off to school.

This just goes to show that I still have no clue what I'm doing as a parent. I'm making it up as I go. I always say the wrong things at the wrong time. I don't think of good come-backs till its too late. And as I just proved, I come up with the worst examples when its crunch time.

I honestly have nothing against factory workers. We need them. Thank you Industrial Revolution. And unfortunately, in our current era, most factory workers are being replaced with robots and/or being automated. Sadly, it is no longer an upwardly mobile career option in the U.S.

But my point to him was, you may very well end up in a job where you have zero control of your own time and have to do only what you're told to do. This is not the path you see yourself on but the one your actions are going to bring you down if you don't try your hardest at everything - even a stupid test. It was the mindset I was trying to point out - not the job. I'm sure I could have picked 100 other jobs that are 10x worse than a factory worker. But you know, that's me - always sticking my foot in my mouth.

I apologize to all factory workers out there. I'm a moron.

Jan 16, 2017


1/16/2017 — cori

We've been watching the same group of boys play basketball together since they were in 4th grade. We have never been the winners. We've always been the losers. We got very good at losing. We never seemed to find our stride, get our groove, learn how to play as a team. There were a few games that stood out as highlights where all the stars aligned and the boys played like a team, but for the most part, it always seemed to be 5 kids on a court all trying to get a basket.

But this has been the year everything changed. The boys are all in 9th grade now. These same boys I've known since they were 9 are all taller, sweatier, and more muscular. But the one thing they have now that they've never had is teamwork. Gone are the days of each kid wanting to play the hero. These boys have learned to play unselfishly. Wow! A good coach makes all the difference! This coach pushes them beyond their limits. He trains them hard. He follows through on threats. He pulls kids out when they do it wrong. He's taught these kids the benefits of playing as a team.

And as a reward for all their dedication and hard work, we are now undefeated in our bracket. These awesome kids are on an 8-0 streak! We've never experienced anything like this. They win big too - most games are won by over 20 points. The boys have learned how to respect each other instead of feel jealous or competitive against their teammate. They've learned to see and admire the skill the other has and how best to use it to the team's advantage during time on the court. Their confidence in their skills and what they bring to the team has increased dramatically.

As a parent this is a beautiful lesson to see your kids learn. This has been a long, hard road. I love the way the coach speaks into their lives and all they learn from him. I don't want Bennett to be a superstar, I want him to be a team player on and off the court. This year and this coach are enforcing this beautiful life lesson in him. Winning is just a nice added bonus.

Jan 12, 2017

A Reflection on 18 Years of Gavin

1/12/2017 — cori

Eighteen years ago
There was no way to fully know
How completely you would steal my heart
On this journey we would start
Together as a new family
When your birth now made us three.

We couldn't imagine what you'd be like
this new human, keeping us up at night.
Making it through the first few weeks
Definitely brought us to our knees
Learning humility, sacrifice, and responsibility
Of caring for you during your fragility.

Together we learned and grew
Wanting to understand what made you, you.
Intense, active, determined and kind
Wishing we could read your mind.
Always eager to learn new things
Excited about what each day brings.

Imaginative beyond compare
In your brain, many worlds lodged there.
The books we would always read
Sparked your deep curiosity
For how the world around you worked
Keeping you always on alert
To learn as much as you possibly could
And share it with me once you understood.

The way you smile with your eyes
Brightens up all our lives.
Your smile is genuine, big, and bright
An outward show of your inner light.
You laugh at yourself with grace and ease
This my friend, makes you free.
Your humble, gentle, sensitive heart
Is the very thing that sets you apart.

Loyal, considerate, smart, and wise
There's so much lurking behind those eyes
The person you are evolving to be
Has left a deep impact on me
With you I learn new points of view
I watch you listen and think things through.
All of life's mysteries I see you ponder
Oh, the depths that your mind does wander.

Logic, math, languages too
These things always came naturally to you.
You learn these skills all by yourself
By watching someone or from a book on your shelf.
There is nothing you will not know
Because your drive and intensity push you so.
The joy of learning was evident in you from the start
You follow your passion straight from the heart.

You showed me how to me a mom,
You've been my teacher all along.
 Listening to your mind and heart
I'm thankful to play a very small part
In raising you to be a humble man
Willing to reach out and give others a hand.
Patient, gentle, cautious too
These are traits I cherish in you.

Always sensitive, polite and kind
Filtering new ideas through your mind
Until they sit upon your heart
As you meditate and do your part
To help those around you know
How they can also learn and grow
And participate in the circle of life
Doing their part to make things right.

Your convictions are the deepest part of you
They're what you contemplate and decide to do
Pursue your dreams with all your might
Yet always remember to never loose sight
Of who you are and where you stand
In this beautiful circle of man
This life is more than just about you
Please remember the outcasts and marginal few
Because when they do well, so do we all.
Do your part, no matter how small.

Being your mom has been my life's joy
Watching you grow to a man from a boy
You've always stayed true to who you are
That is the most important knowledge by far.
Staying true to yourself in this journey of life
Will cause you less stress, fear and strife.
When people tell you what you do is grand
Remember it's on the shoulders of giants you stand.

Jan 6, 2017

Tea Kettle Magic

1/06/2017 — cori

We're used to snow and cold up here in the arctic circle (I jest, we're 1,493 miles from the actual circle...I googled it, just to make sure because some days I'm not so sure we are). What we're not used to is ice. This past Monday, we were expecting a snowstorm. Instead, we received an ice storm. It was very unwelcome. It was accompanied by a lot of wind and the polar vortex. In the course of a day we dropped over 30 degrees. This was the beginning of that day.

This happened to be the first day back to school after a glorious, restful winter break. Bennett usually goes out to warm up the car before getting ready for school. During this time of winter it takes a good 20-30 minutes to get the car inhabitable by humans and workable. However, on this fine day, we were still unaware of the previous night's ice storm until Bennett headed outside to do his typical morning routine. He came back in stating that there was no way he was going to get into the car, the doors were stuck shut with ice. 

Hmmm...that is quite a conundrum. But what am I supposed to do about it? I'm just the mom. I'm not equipped to solve problems of this nature...usually. The "call a friend" option was out because Chuck was not available. Darn. Now I really have to start thinking of a solution. Then a little light bulb went off inside my head *ping* heat up the tea kettle and pour boiling water over the ice. It felt like a message from heaven. I was rescued and could now rescue my poor, befuddled children.

I got my trusty tea kettle filled to the brim and set it to boiling. In the mean time, Donald Duck (aka: Gavin) wakes up and is all in a huff because the car is not on or ready and they are going to be late now. Good thing he woke up 10 minutes before he had to be out the door. I say that to explain the duress I was forced to work under. I had to stay extra calm because everyone around me (Gavin) was falling to pieces, if not literally, at least mentally. The worst possible scenario for him is to be late. Unfortunately, we were all working under a time crunch...I was also late to work.

Do you see the black driveway I'm standing on? That is a sheet of ice. I had Bennett go salt the driveway so I wouldn't fall down while carrying boiling hot water out to the car. In hindsight, that wasn't my best decision. The kid who just busted his thumb, broke his pinky and has a basketball game that night is the one I send out onto an inclined driveway covered in black ice. Like anything good can come from that. But I was laser focused on getting the car doors unstuck - I was liable to make some errors in judgement. Remember, I work best under perfect conditions and these were less than ideal.

I slip and slide my way outside (forgetting my coat), while holding boiling water in my very full tea kettle (after all, I needed enough water to pour over both doors). After only a few seconds, we found that my method was indeed successful. What do you know, I actually can problem solve while under stress. I learn something new everyday.

Unfortunately, that was not to be the end of our problems. Bennett was able to get in and get the car started, but they were still late and still needed time to warm up the car. And then there was the little matter of a windshield covered in a sheet of ice that was not going to defrost in less than 20 minutes. We didn't have that kind of time people. Our collective ETAs were negative 10 minutes. We were working on borrowed time. 

So I figured I could just repeat the tea kettle magic on the windshield. There was no time to think through this. Donald Duck was not happy. He didn't even give me enough time to bring the water to a full boil. I skimmed back across the ice a second time to pour my magic water over the frozen windshield and watched as the ice disappeared. The boys were off as soon as they could see through the glass.

I have to admit, I was rather proud of this moment of clarity and ingenuity. This doesn't happen often for me. I like to bask in success when I get it. I'm normally "learning from my mistakes" and "putting my foot in my mouth". I'm not usually lucky enough to save any days or solve any of life's bigger problems. But this one put me on the map....until I told Chuck.

It was then that I find out what apparently everyone else already knew....you're not supposed to put boiling water on a frozen windshield because it could 'supposedly' crack the glass. It was at that point that I became grateful for a flustered Donald Duck hovering over me and not giving me time to bring the water to a boil. Apparently my water was warm enough to melt the ice, but not too hot to crack the window. Whew! Disaster averted. I didn't even know I was about to cause a disaster. Things could have gone a lot worse this morning had my water gotten to a full boil. Then things would have been out of the scope of my ability to fix. As it was, I think we averted disaster effectively, if not only out of sheer luck. What I previously thought of as an ingenious plan where 'desperate times call for desperate measures' was actually another case of me "learning from my mistakes" again. If I haven't learned humility by now, I never will.

Jan 1, 2017

Walking On Water

1/01/2017 — cori

You know you live in Minnesota when....you hear yourself saying, "It's going to be warm today guys (30 degrees), we should go do something outside." I cannot believe I actually uttered those words. Back when we lived in Texas, we were donning our winter coats in 50 degree weather. Now, living up north, coats are optional in 30 degree weather. It actually never got to 30 degrees today, that was just what was forecasted. I think it was around the 22 degree mark when we decided to take a little family jaunt to the lake to check on the ice thickness.

I'm always a tad bit leery of walking out on that lake. It's hard to know how many inches of ice are between me and the bitter cold water lurking just underneath my feet. Caution is a good thing in these matters. But when you live with a pack of risk-taking boys, you learn to meet risky adventures head-on. In the above picture, I'm still standing on solid ground, while my crew are already risking life and limb 5 feet out onto the ice.  Since no one fell in yet, I deemed it safe enough to traverse. However, I stayed very close to the edge of the lake, you know, just in case.

Even Ninja got in on the fun. She LOVES this weather; it seems to invigorate her. She would have found the one part of the lake that hadn't yet frozen over and found her way through it, thus, the leash. None of us were in the mood for a sub-zero water rescue mission today.

And here is proof that we all made it onto the ice and lived to tell about it. I have no idea why Chuck is wearing a monkey hat. This was a fine way to spend the first day of the new year. It's nice to be outside during the winter whenever we get the chance. 

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