We’re limping to the end of the school year and the soccer season.  Honestly, how is it that the school year is still going? It feels like Nico has been in fourth grade for 65469898 months.

Since he has been old enough to entertain himself (more or less), I stopped stressing about summers and days off.  When Nico was little, it could be stressful trying to figure out what to do with him when he was out of school and I still had to work.  Particularly during those times when I switched jobs and didn’t have any PTO or that one spring break when the guy I was working for was a real son of a bitch and didn’t “get” childcare issues.  I said what I said.

For about the last 2 years though, I crave summer.  During the school year, we have to get Nico up for school between 615-630.  It was 6am when we lived in North Park.  Then it went to 615 when we moved to Rogers Park.  Back in March, we chopped the routine down further, so that we can get him up at 630 and still *mostly* make it to school on time (which starts at 730).

But because I don’t want Nico to be a surly bastard at school, it means we have to get him in bed by 930.  I mean, I would prefer that he is in bed at 900.  But sometimes a lot of times, we will settle in on the couch to watch a Cubs game and he’ll fall asleep there. Even so… right now we have three sports going on: judo on Mondays, soccer on Tuesdays and Thursdays, baseball on Wednesdays and Fridays, Me playing soccer on Wednesday night, Dave playing soccer on Friday night.  Not to mention the myriad of baseball and soccer games that happen on the weekend.  Most nights that we have some type of practice, we’re getting home at 8pm.  Which means that we are whipping through the night, getting dinner, showers, homework done, etc.

But that is only because we have to have a dropdead time of 9-930 for bed.  When Nico doesn’t have school the next day, nights are luxurious.  We take our time with dinner… I don’t have to crack the whip at Nico and Dave.  We can listen to music and read and go to bed when we are ready.  Sometimes, if Dave is still working and Nico isn’t ready to sleep… I’ll go to bed when I am tired. Or early if I want to catch the gym in the morning.

In my opinion, we don’t talk enough about how much of a beat down the school year is for parents.

In any case, this is the first year that we haven’t signed Nico up for park district summer camp.  The first two years, he was really into it.  But he’s nine now.  And has a play station, ipad, ipod touch.  And wifi.  And a dad that works from home.  So, we have had progressively more resistance to going to summer camp… which I don’t really blame him for.  I would be the same, particularly since some of most relaxing times involve laying on the couch reading stuff on my phone.

We have some plans though… Nico would like to do a lot more crafting this summer.  Which is absolutely fine with me.  We need to overhaul his room and I want to get a crafting nook/work space in his room that I can just stock with stuff from my craft closet.  And stuff he wants to learn to do.  Also, despite the fact that I seem like I am on him all the time to stop being a dickhead about stuff, he is actually fairly mature.  I would be proud to pop into any pottery studio or any place that is doing craft stuff with him and I think he’d be all in.

Some of the things we’d like to do this summer:

  1. Do some of the crafts on 5 minute crafts (Nico and Jessi).
  2. Learn to paint with water colors (Nico and Jessi).
  3. Practice french (Nico).
  4. Piano or guitar lessons (Nico).
  5. Get a planner set up for next year with quotes, pics, etc (Nico).
  6. Learn to use a camping stove (Jessi).
  7. Lake Michigan Circle Tour (Jessi, Dave, and Nico).
  8. Craft nook for Nico’s room (Nico and Jessi).
  9. Purge craft closet (Jessi).
  10. Lego robotics lessons (Jessi and Nico).

I think this has the makings of a fun summer!

Dog Days of School

The boy has been struggling with school this year. He definitely is the driver of the Keimpf-Wagen at school.

It’s not like he is dumb, he just doesn’t like most of the parts of it, particularly the ones where he has to do busy work, worksheets.  It is unfortunate because you know I got that ADHD- so I suspect that is partially what is going on here.  But maybe part of the problem is that his early education, his preschools, were so amazing.  The FSU Infant Toddler Center, Creative Preschool (in Tallahassee) and Wonder Montessori are just off the chart on what I think of as ideal educational settings.  SO MUCH PLAY.  And I know that early childhood education is not my research area, but from everything I have read about it, they are the ways schools should be done.  His school seems the exact opposite of this.  It seems like lots of emphasis on seat work, doing worksheets, homework.

It’s weird because last year and this year have been really hard… which I could understand if he struggled hard in kindergarten, first, and second grades.  I don’t know if there is something dramatically different about instruction in 3rd and 4th grade.  Or if its the teachers.  Like, maybe it just takes a special kind of person to be a kindergarten teacher?

But then I try to take the broader view- like, a soccer coach doesn’t become a soccer coach so that they can teach kids how to pass and trap.  Its the higher level parts of coaching- strategy and fostering important relationships that draws a lot of people to coaching.  I am sure 3rd and 4th grade teachers don’t sign up to teach so that they can spend all their time trying to motivate my inattentive kid to complete worksheets.

I don’t really know how to help him.  The idea of being given work and not doing it the second it was handed to me, is so foreign to me.  Maybe it wasn’t healthy, but a big part of my identity as a kid was wrapped up in being a good student. So, I don’t really understand a person who is of my flesh and blood not being the same way.

Buuuuuuuut, maybe this is good.  Maybe he will be happier and have a more positive/resilient identity.  Like, maybe when the going gets tough for him, it won’t cause him to question his own abilities, like what sometimes happened to me when I was younger.

The thing I wish he could do is just to gamify the whole thing.  Like, yeah, worksheets are dumb.  Especially when you already know how to do the work.  But, what if you made a race out of it?  What if you had a competition with yourself to see how many you could answer right?  What if you were so good at it, that you could show others how to do it?

He is completely uninterested in it.

But he is all in on P.E.

*Patience.  Need so much patience.*

3rd Grade Down

I was out of town on Nico’s last day of school- so Dave had to grab the last day pic after school.  He had a baseball game, hence  baseball pants at school.

He is looking forward to not going to school for a couple of months.

He also got all As and Bs, so I guess I have to get him a play station… I don’t remember exactly  how this came to pass… all I know is that I am on the hook for this now.  But… no Cs… so I guess that is a win.  Don’t worry, I hate me too.


Homework Blues All the Way

This guy is reading like a champ lately.

There is too much homework, I think.  I mean, I don’t think his teacher has much of a choice, it was the same for kindergarten.  I think that there are probably a lot of parents who don’t do much with their kids- so the homework becomes necessary, to make sure that those kids can keep up.
But Dave and I do all kinds of things with Nico that aren’t homework, but that are adding to his academic skills.  Like, most mornings we have spelling tests in the car.  Its been hard lately, because it is still so dark early, but some days, I can get Nico to read to me in the car.  We do math to divide up the bullets whenever we have a nerf gun fight in the house.

But the homework is just such a beatdown.  She sends home a packet on Mondays with 20 activities for each week.  Sometimes, we only get through half of them.  😦

But I guess maybe I dont have to be worried yet, Nico got his progress report last week and it was all A’s.  So, I guess we’re not failing him yet. YET.

He’s really amazing…

I know, right?  Do I even blog anymore?

It’s the end of the quarter.  That is all I can say about that. I wish there were some better reasons why I find it so hard to keep up with the blog.  Nico continues to amaze us every day with the things that he does and the things that he says.

Last week we went to pick up his report card (CPS requires that you actually go and get it from school- it gives the teacher a chance to sit down with parents).  It was a really good experience… Nico is off the chart on a lot of things.  She mentioned that he gets off task some times- but not in a destructive way.  She will say something or they will do something in class and it will remind him of something he thought about last week… so he will tune out for a while.  She thinks that this is partly due to his experience with Montessori school, where that kind of thinking was encouraged and emphasized over the day to day “tasks” of completing work.  She said that this would probably be a struggle for us for a while- because he is so smart and he does have a really good memory… and that is the way learning should work- being able to follow thoughts and ideas to their natural logical conclusion.  Ultimately, this isn’t a model that works well with public school where you often have 10 minutes for an assignment or an activity.

She is encouraging us to do even more activities with Nico at home- because she is afraid he isn’t going to get anywhere even close to his potential only doing the work that they do in class.  The good news for us, is that he is starting to get curious about a broader range of subjects and topics.  He is passionately curious about nature and animals and geology.  Combined with his interest in military history and his now developing interest in reading and writing, and I am floored.  His writing needs work- and his drawing/coloring does too.  But he is actually trying to figure out how to spell things.

This is such a departure from before, where he wouldn’t even try to write his own name because he didnt want to be wrong.

What is crazy is that the writing thing came on very fast.  For so long, he resisted sitting down to write and just wanted no part of it.  And now, whenever we are watching sport on TV, he’s finding a notebook or a scratch piece of paper to write down the scores to the games.  He likes being the score keeper for games that we play at the house and even had a go adding items to my grocery list!!  Even better is that he is starting to be able to self-direct on homework.  So when he started school, one of us usually had to sit right next to him and encourage/goad/admonish him to do homework.  And now he knows what to do… so it just tears through it.  This morning, it was sitting on the table at breakfast and he picked it up and did a sheet of it without either of us even asking.  Even crazier is that we don’t do homework in the morning.

I say this about all the ages, but this one is really fun.  I love that he is getting curious about the world around him.

First Week

Nico’s first week was awesome.  It may be early for this, but Dave and I are kind of doing a victory lap with how well it went.  In the course of a week, we completely changed the home/night/morning routine and Nico loves school.  LOVES IT.  He’s excited to go- and he’s starting to make friends.  His teacher is amazing.  She’s African-American (squeeeee!!) and just loves on her kids.  She had no problem telling me on the first day that Nico had a little bit of a hard time listening, but it was okay, since he was going to get a chance to listen tomorrow.  Awesome.

Nico didn’t cry and didn’t fuss.  He was curious about what was happening, but was not in any way anxious for us to hang around.  He’s excited that he will get to do PE, drama, art, and the library once a week.
At home, we have dramatically changed everything… since he has to wake up so early, we’re getting to bed and doing dinner a lot earlier.  This means, we’ve cut down his TV watching and playing.  But he seems to be doing fine.

This weekend he also started soccer up again.  What a difference a couple of months makes!!  Nico was a completely different kid this go round.  Part of it had to do with the fact that he has been playing a lot more soccer lately.

But also, he was playing against a bunch of kids who’d never played soccer before.  And at least he played a couple of games in the spring.  

He scored three goals and had an assist!
Isn’t that crazy?
One of the goals happened when a teammate was dribbling around in our defensive third and he just took the ball from her, dribbled down the field and scored!  It was very funny!  Still no goalkeepers yet, but I think he had a good time!!

In the Feels!!

Nico’s elementary school sent an email today with a school supplies list.  I’m not going to lie, I am kind of tearing up at the idea of him starting kindergarten in a month.  Seriously, where did the last five years go?  Truly?

The good news is that 30 years later, and school supply lists aren’t much different.  With the exception of these:

Isn’t that cool?  A place to practice writing AND draw pictures?  SPOT ON!! I am pretty excited about those.

I am probably way more excited about this than Nico will be.  I don’t know if you knew this or not, but school supplies are pretty much my favorite.  And you know Nico isn’t gonna get any of that RoseArt nonsense.  All crayola, baby.  So excited!!

In any case, I leave you with a video of Nico’s latest goalkeeper training.

Test Schmest

So, Nico had his school testing yesterday.  

He started out the morning dragging his feet about going.  Didn’t want to go.  Wants to go to school with Justin and Collin (his little friends).  I hung around the house and helped get him dressed, then he and Dave dropped me at work and headed down to the Loop to do the test.  They got there a little early- so the tester people took Nico a little early.  Apparently he was on the verge of tears and was about to not go when he finally agreed to go “Just for a few minutes”.  Well, he went in, and apparently was  a bit of a rock star about it.  
The teacher/tester had three pictures: one of a boat, one of a fire engine, and one of a backpack and just asked Nico to tell him about them.  And Nico did.  Even better, he said he had fun and that he wants to do it again!! Can you believe it?  
We won’t know how he did till later in the Spring.  But I am just so glad that he went into the test. 🙂 


I know it’s impossible, for our weekends to get any funner… but hold on party people.  Uncle JJ and Uncle Scott are coming to town this weekend.  I know, seriously,, right?   I was able to get Cubs tickets on Craigslist a couple of weeks ago.  I got 4 tickets, thinking that if neither made it, we’d only have to eat the cost of one ticket.  It means that Nico won’t go to the game and we’ll just pick him up from school after.  Does that make me a bad mom? 

The good news is that he really, really, really likes his new school.  When school started, he lost his best friend, a little girl named Addison because she went up to the kindergarten- so he only sees her in the afternoon. I am sure that they were probably pretty annoying… their thing was that they would call each other animal names… like Alligator Chicken.  Or Chicken Dinosaur. His new little friend is a girl named Zoey, who he really likes.  In fact, last week he said that he loves her.  Which is absolutely darling.  They have a funny game they play called “Gaga”.  Which is basically just them dancing with their hands up and shifting their weight back and forth on one foot to the other.  It’s pretty hilarious.  

Le Nico was invited to a birthday party this weekend, so I hope Uncle Scott and Uncle JJ are okay with that.  It’s at a water park, I guess.  So, that will be fun.  Dave is looking forward to being around adults.  Turns out when you work from home, it can be a bit lonely.  Apparently, the dogs aren’t much company.  
Nico and Dave went to the YMCA after school, so it was late when we started dinner.  Dave told Nico to finish up his blueberries to which Nico replied that “he would gobble them”.  This apparently means to stuff blueberries into one’s mouth.     Which is weird, because I dont use the word gobble.  What is even stranger is that he seemed to have the idea that gobbling also meant holding one’s hands up to one’s face while stuffing blueberries into one’s mouth.  It’s pretty funny.  

Still a bit undecided about what we are going to do about school next year.  I spoke to one of the faculty members at DePaul who has a daughter who is three.  She sort of gave me the run down on schools.  I had been thinking about the possibility that if we got him tested for selective enrollment schools, that if he managed to make the cut that he might end up in a school trying to do work that is beyond him because he willl be so young.  This faculty member said I ought not to worry about that and that the real reason to get him into a selective enrollment school is beause those schools tend to be much better… with parents who are much more involved.  She also gave me the breakdown on some of the better, more diverse schools.  I haven’t had the chance to talk with Dave about what our priorities should be… whether we’d rather have a selective enrollment school or a diverse school.  While they might not be mutually exclusive, I’d rather not have to choose.  There is still plenty of time to worry about this, I guess.  

Chuck Taylors and Underpants!

What you say?  Is Nico running around the house in a pair of chuck taylors and underpants?  Yes.  Yes, he is.

So yesterday was kind of a beatdown with the potty training.  He didnt go on the potty at all at school and had two accidents… which I guess is good because it means that he is holding it.  During naptime (they put a diaper on him) he peed a gallon.  We got a new potty seat at Toys R Us yesterday and he sat on it and peed a gallon.  Again.  So really, he’s just holding it.  His teachers say we’ll give him two weeks with this to see if he “gets it” that its much better to just go than hold it all day.  Hopefully at the end of two weeks, he will be okay with the potty training.

And the really awesome news:  we are going to move to another daycare/preschool.  Since Nico is about to age out of FSU and because the Preschool there is like the infant and toddler center, we have decided to start looking for other options for daycare.  We found this place that is research based and everyone we know loves.  Its expensive and sort of out of the way.  But we did a tour there today.  And we love it.  Its run by this old hippie woman- who is all about taking things back a bit.  Not classrooms, they stay in groups and can go from playing outside, to the water deck, to making food, to reading, to blocks, to all kinds of awesome.  They also have a garden, a hamster, some fish and some birds.  Its pretty great.  We’ll apply this week and see if he gets in before we give the word at FSU.  Its kinda sad  because we really adore Jenn, Sue, Dana and all Nico’s teachers.  But this place is pretty awesome.  Hopefully when we go there with Nico to check it out, I can grab some photos.  Its off the hook!!