I have a problem with New Year's resolutions. You would think that the problem is keeping them or making attainable goals. Nope- with me the problem is that I can only make them for myself. Wouldn't life be better if you could pick resolutions for other people?
I decided to write some resolutions for others...
For my husband, Aaron- I resolve to always take my dirty, filthy boots off before I enter the house. I also resolve not to use every pot we own when I am making dinner. Since I don't want my wife to drown, I resolve to always put down the toilet seat.
For my daughter, Sydney- I resolve to do all of my homework this year without complaining. I also resolve to listen to my parents the first time they ask me to do something. Since my mom is awesome, I will tell her that she is the best mom everyday.
For my son, Lucas- I resolve to no longer use diapers and to only use the potty. I also resolve to chew my food and swallow it. I will no longer hoard my dinner for hours in my cheeks. Since I wouldn't want my mom to work any harder than she already does, I will not spit my milk in to my toys this year.
For my daughter Ella- I resolve to sleep at least 10 hours every night during 2013.
For my neighbor- I resolve to quit smoking so that my neighbors no longer have to smell my second hand smoke as it wafts up to their windows.
For President Obama- I resolve to value human life.
For the people I always end up behind on the highway- I resolve to avoid the left lane and drive in the right lane where I belong.
For all of the other women out there- I vow to gain weight so that Amy Delmanto will look skinny in comparison.
I could go on all year writing resolutions for others. It is much, much harder to write them for myself.
I am often asked what my views are on home schooling versus Christian school versus public school. I have pretty strong views on all three but that is for a different blog post.
Today I want to give parents suggestions for success when they are sending their child to public school. I made the choice to send Sydney to public school, but many Christian parents send their children there because they have no other choice. Let's face it, private schools are expensive! Home schooling requires one parent to be home and is not financially feasible for every family. When that is the case, the kids must go to "free" public school. Some parents feel anxious about that decision.
Sydney is in second grade now, so I have had a few years to learn my way as a Christian parent of a public school student. Here are my tips to make this experience the best:
1. Get Involved!- There are many ways to get involved in your child's class and their school.
Volunteer as a class parent. This will afford you the opportunity to go on your child's class trips and to be in attendance during class parties and events. By being present in the classroom, you get to see the teacher in action and you get to know the children that your child spends their day.
Some schools have a limited number of class parents so being the class mom may not be an option for you. You can still volunteer. Offer to come in to class and do a craft or lesson with the kids. Volunteer to be a reader. When I was teaching, I loved having an extra set of hands. Sydney's teacher have always been willing to let me come in and read. This year her teacher allowed me to come in and do a craft with the kids. It was awesome to see the interaction between Sydney and her teacher and I got to know the kids in the class better. In Kindergarten, a friend and I went in and helped the class plant flowers.
The schools in New Jersey give parents the opportunity to observe their child's class during Education week. Take this opportunity. It doesn't matter what part of the day you see. It is important that both your child and your child's teacher know that you care and are involved. The teacher will be more willing to come to you and share her concerns or praises if she has seen you in person and knows that you want to be involved.
2. Ask Questions- I learned early on that asking Sydney, "How was your day?" was not going to tell me much. She would always answer with, "Good."
Ask probing questions such as:
"What was your favorite part of the day today?"
"What was the funniest thing that happened today?"
"What was the most boring part of the day?"
"Who did you play with at recess and what did you play?"
"What was the most interesting part of your day?"
If you ask your child every day when they get off the bus, they will come to expect this inquisition. Sydney says she thinks about it during the day. She says when something happens she thinks to herself, "I need to remember this to tell mom."
If your child is used to talking with you, they will be more likely to share with you if something is wrong at school.
3. Remember that you are Responsible for your Child's Spiritual Education- Enroll your child in classes at your church. When a child attends Christian or Catholic school, they are getting religious instruction on a daily basis. (I would know. I spent 12 years in a Christian school growing up.) When your child goes to a public school, it is solely your responsibility. You need to be consistent and attend your church regularly. Enroll your child in a children's program at your church. My church, Sayre Woods Bible Church, offers an AWANA program for children on Thursday nights. There, Sydney and Lucas are able to learn about the BIble and our faith since they won't receive that instruction in school. During the week, we practice our lessons and verses. Just because your child attends public school, it doesn't mean that they can't have Biblical instruction.
4. Stay Positive- Don't trash talk your child's school. Even if sending them to that school was your last resort. Speak positively about your child's school and teacher. This is your child's "home" for 6+ hours of the day. If you have concerns about your child's teacher, express them to the principal at the school. Don't share them with your child.
5. Don't Believe the Hype- So many people grow up with preconceived notions about what public school is. When I was younger, I attended Christian school all the way through my senior year. I would hear parents say that public school was evil, that public school teaches your child to be gay, that public school doesn't have any character education and so on. Don't believe what you hear through the "grapevine". Do the research for yourself. Go to your local library and check out the curriculum for your child's school. If you see anything that you are unsure of, make an appointment with the Director of Curriculum and Instruction for your district and ask questions. If you are still concerned, you are allowed to "opt out" of any instruction that goes against your religious beliefs. Find out for yourself! Do not believe the gossip!
6. Pray for your Child- This is something that all parents should be doing regardless of where they attend school. Make it part of your daily routine to pray for your child's safety and interactions at school. Pray that they will be a positive role model and a "light" to others.
Ella's First Christmas
My sweet Ella Grace had her first Christmas! She had a beautiful smocked dress made by Aunt Becky. Ella was surrounded by family that loves her. In the Delmanto family this was Ella's first and last Christmas as the baby of the family. There will be a new baby girl cousin next Christmas!
This afternoon I took my daughter Sydney and my nieces Kate and Kylie to the ice skating rink here in town. A great guy at our church organizes outings for families to attend. Since I have been pregnant for about the last 1,000 winters, this is the first time I have been ice skating in awhile. We had a fun time together and Kate was by far the best skater of the four of us. We enjoyed seeing some of our friends from church and hanging out together.
Many people would end their blog post there. They would post the highlights of the outing and some of the pictures of the fun moments. Since I promised to keep it "real" I am posting a video below.
Let me set the scenario, turn the sound up and you will hear that Sydney wanted me to make a video of her skating. I proceed to follow behind Sydney with the camera rolling. I struggle to keep up with her. She is a much better skater than I thought!
Watch it until the end, it is worth it!
Yes, that is me totally wiping out. I crashed and burned. I fell so hard on my ribs that I completely knocked the wind out of my chest. After I was able to breathe, I laughed hard at myself. I am glad that I learned at a young age to laugh at myself!
Christmas 2006- Sydney at 18 months
Christmas 2012- Ella at 9 months, Sydney at 7 years
Do I laugh at my children? Yes! I know I am making some of you cringe again. You are thinking that I may scar my children for life. It is possible... but I think that laughing at them actually helps them (more cringing). It teaches them how to laugh at themselves. This is a skill that will come in handy during their teen years and on into adulthood. By having the ability to laugh at yourself, you can hold up a lot better when the bullies in life pick on you. You all know there are bullies in adulthood too! They may be more subtle at it but are still bullies.
The picture of Sydney with Santa is one of her favorites. Every year she cracks up when we pull it out at Christmas time. This year she laughed hysterically when she realized that Ella did the same thing on Santa's lap. One day Ella will laugh at that picture too.
So many people look for the "perfect" Santa picture. They only print and purchase the photographs where the children are perfectly posed and smiling at the camera. I think that more people need to "post" and blog about the pictures of their "real life." Hold onto those pictures that aren't so "perfect" and teach your kids to laugh!
Speaking of "real life"... where is Lucas in this picture? He is on the floor throwing a fit and refusing to sit on Santa's lap. I should have snapped a picture of that!
My husband Aaron is a landscaper and in my opinion a very talented one. In September 2011, he made the decision to leave his job working at a nursery to work for a landscaper in Westfield. Just last week, that landscaper laid Aaron off. Was it mistake for him to leave the job he had at the nursery? Why would God let this happen so close to Christmas? and at a time when medical benefits are crucial for both Ella and me?
Even as Christians, we question and doubt the Lord. We are still human beings with a sinful nature. You would think that after what I went through with Ella that my first instinct would be to trust. I didn't. I had about a 24 hour migraine laced pity party. I slept for 24 hours straight and woke up periodically to cry.
After that, I pulled it together and tried to review all of the challenges that God brought us through this year. Nothing is too difficult for Him. So we are waiting on the Lord to see what the plan will be. Is there something better for Aaron out there? Was the Lord protecting Aaron by removing him from a toxic boss?
I thought of a story that I heard right after 9/11. I don't remember who the author was so I can't give him credit. He was telling the story of what happened to him on that Tuesday morning. He started by saying that on 9/10, he was fired. He left his office in the Twin Towers devastated. He questioned God. Why would God let this happen to him? He was angry. Angry at his boss and angry at God.
He woke up Tuesday morning, September 11th and was still angry. He finally pulled himself out of bed and turned on the news just in time to watch an airplane crash into the window where he used to sit. He broke down immediately realizing that it should have been him. He got the answer to his question. God allowed him to be fired to save his life. God had a purpose for him. He was left on this earth for a reason.
It has been a week since Aaron was fired. We haven't seen the literal reason why Aaron was fired like the man on 9/11 did. Nonetheless, we know that there was purpose and reason behind it. We will try to patiently wait on the Lord.
My sweet Ella Grace is the reason why I gave my blog the title, "Some of the Best Things in Life are Mistakes." Getting pregnant with Ella was a mistake. I know some of you cringed when you read that, but it is true. She wasn't planned and was a complete and total surprise, a shocker!! She was the best mistake I ever made!!
Some people have "ooops" pregnancies or unplanned pregnancies but my pregnancy with Ella was nothing short of a miracle. After having my son Lucas, I had a tube tying procedure as a permanent form of birth control. It was advertised as being 99.9% effective. Well, we were the .1%. The procedure failed.
I had difficult pregnancies. No, difficult isn't a strong enough word- atrocious, terrible, horrendous. I had a condition called Hyperemesis Graviderum. It is very rare and most people haven't heard of it until recently when Princess Kate was diagnosed with it. It is a severe form of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. I lost 20% of my body weight and fought dehydration the entire time. I was in and out of the hospital dozens of times during my pregnancies. So after having Lucas we decided that I would have my tubes tied. My body could not go through that again.
God had other plans. Needless to say, I was in shock when I discovered that I was pregnant 7 months after having my tubes tied. My son Lucas was just 9 months old. I was depressed as well as shocked. I cried for days. I could not imagine being pregnant again so soon after having my son. How would I take care of a baby while vomiting all day. In my misery, I prayed for a miscarriage. I didn't know what to do.
God was in control! I trusted Him and the pregnancy continued. My husband Aaron was so supportive and knew that this baby was a blessing. It was more difficult than the other two pregnancies. I lost so much weight that my baby stopped gaining weight. The doctors decided to induce her at 36 weeks so that she would have a chance to grow.
Ella Grace was such a sweet little baby. She was a peanut leaving the hospital at just 5 pounds. I looked at her and knew that every bit of the suffering was worth it. The mistake was a blessing.
Little did I know holding that little baby that she would save my life. In that picture above, I did not know that I had breast cancer. I was 37 years old and had no breast cancer in my family history but I had breast cancer. At this young age, I would not have had a mammogram for many years and I would not have had another breast exam for at least a year. Six weeks after having Ella I went to my OBGYN for my postpartum checkup and the lump was discovered. It was discovered that early because of Ella!
The cancer was removed, a full hysterectomy performed and radiation administered. I am cancer free. The Lord knew back in the Summer of 2011 when I got pregnant that this baby would save my life. I spent that summer wondering why the Lord would allow me to be pregnant and it took a year but the Lord answered me loud and clear.
I learned that I need to trust God in all situations no matter how difficult they may be. Ella is a constant reminder that God loves us and that He is in control.
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Some of the best things in life are mistakes... My family is proof!
In this blog, I will be writing about my life and family and the many mistakes that have happened, both good and bad. Jesus Christ our Lord has brought us through it all.
My goal is that my story will be both humorous and inspirational to my readers. I also strive to be real. I am known for telling it like it is and that is what I plan to do. You may end up reading about the good, the bad or the ugly.
This is my family in all their glory...
Lucas (2 years old)
My daughters Sydney (age 7) and Ella (9 months) with me