Junior High and the Start of Drama Season

Well a new school year has started and with the advent of football/volleyball and fall, comes the most important season to Junior High Girls….Drama Season. It breaks my heart that girls everywhere have to go through this very trying time of growth and development. The maturing difficulties, gossip, bullying, and just plain mean.

Last year Rebecca had some very hard lessons to learn about being on the other side of the table and what it meant when a “mean girl” gets rehabilitated. This year she starts off being a recipient, and learning a new lesson.

She has liked a boy from a neighboring town for a few months now. She has seen him sometimes at the home of mutual friends, and then last Friday at a football game. They have talked a bit and she thought that over the next few months maybe he would ask her to be his girlfriend. Imagine her excitement on Monday then when he texted her on my telephone that he liked her and would love to have her as his girlfriend.

She was so excited!
She couldn’t wait to share the news with all of her best friends who are her support system. Many of them who knew that she had a crush on him. She spent the evening, and the next day calling and telling her friends from school. She also tried to get ahold of on her best friends “C” from the boy’s town to let her know.

Yesterday at the gym when her “C” came in for class Rebecca nearly tackled her in excitement to let her know….but “C” brought with her the news that the young man had changed his mind, and did not want to do the boyfriend/girlfriend thing after all. Well Rebecca was disappointed but an hour later she was ready to move on and didn’t give it to much thought.

“C” left the gym to head home for the evening and then texted Rebecca on my phone a little while later with a confession. It had been her all along, pretending to be the boy Rebecca liked the day before. She had thought it would be a funny prank to play, and that she was sorry.

Now Rebecca is angry because one of her best friends played such a mean trick on her. She is embarrassed that she told so many people and now has to go back and correct the situation. She is worried the young man will find out, and never want anything to do with her again. She is heartbroken because the trust that she thought she had in a loyal friend was not really there.

This morning I called the girl’s mother to tell her about the situation and she is handling it. I am sad that a joke went bad at the expense of my child, but I understand the lessons that have to be learned with it. Rebecca learned to not trust blindly things that come from text/Internet. She learned that her friends make bad choices, just like she has made in the past. She has learned that friendship and trust are treasures to not be abused. She has learned not every joke or prank is funny especially if you are the victim.

What lessons did you come away with in Junior High?

Polliwalks Review and Giveaway

Are not these the cutest kids shoes you have ever seen? It is so difficult to find children’s shoes that are tough durable, and fun to wear. Polliwalks are taking the kids shoe world by storm and are virtually toys for their feet. They have been featured in Parenting, Parents, and Kids Trends magazines as well as making an appearance on the popular TLC show John and Kate plus Eight.

One of my favorite features are the bottoms of the Polliwalks shoes…they leave tracks just like the animal would make through the sand or dirt. They are durable and will withstand any shoe destructive child.

On a personal note to some of my mom readers who have a tough time finding shoes to fit over leg braces…like I have had problems finding Regan cute and durable shoes that also adapt to the added width. There is no need to look any further than Polliwalks. I tested a pair out over her braces, and they fit comfortably with no problem at all. In fact she loved the look. and walked comfortably in them.

New out for Spring 2009, Polliwalks is debuting two new styles that you will want to add to your son or daughter’s wardrobe. They are premiering the fish lips and the firefly styles. Currently these two styles will only be available for purchase from Dillards and Zappos.com.

The Fishlips style has color changing technology as soon as it is out in the sunlight the lips will change color. The FireFly style lights up and flickers as your child plays.

I am really excited that the generous folks over at Polliwalks has agreed to allow me to give away one pair of their adorable shoes. Unfortunately this does not include the two new styles from their spring line. The following styles are available for this giveaway: puppy, kitty, gator, duck, frog or ladybug. You definitely won’t be sorry with any of these styles.

To win your own pair of Polliwalks visit their website and let me know in a comment which style and color you would choose for your child. If you are entering anonymously please be sure to leave your email address to get hold of you should you win. This contest for US residents only.

One extra entry for anyone who becomes a follower of my blog or comments that they already are.

This giveaway will end on December 15th at midnight. A winner will be drawn randomly and will have 3 days to claim your prize.

A special thank you to the Family Review Network for this wonderful opportunity.

Dumpster Diving at Retama

Last night John Mark, Regan and I headed to San Antonio to go watch the horses race at Retama Park. We love going to the horse races, and at one point we were even co-owners of a horse ourselves. It is a really fun family activity and a great way for us to meet up with some of our SA friends.

My brother David, and good friends Mark and Teresa along with “new to me friends” all had a fun evening at the races. Since Regan had gotten an “A” on her history test, I allowed her to pick a horse in a race. She looked at the book and immediately went for the most “french” sounding name. Did I mention she has an obsession with all things France?

Amount Regan won….Zero

My brother David and I studied the racebook, looked at the jockeys, and made specific decision based on statistics and past performance.

Amount I won…..Zero

Our friend Mark “has a guy” who is really good at that stuff and came prepared with numbers to bet in every race. John Mark just did what Mark did so…..

Amount they won….tons!

Of course there was the race where there was a question before they could call it official. John Mark and Mark where on pins and needles to see if there was a winner or not. They did win, but it was on tickets they had already thrown in the trash.

Mark went in for the classic Dumpster Dive.

Of course I had to get a pic of Mark doing the dumpster dive, but can’t say to much because he won…and I did not, but it reminded us how much fun the track is and it is definitely an evening we want to do again

Bored in Wal-Mart? Play Bingo!

Do you just hate those Wal-Mart runs?
Are you lookng for ways to make your trip just a little more interesting? Need some entertainment while you glance through endless racks of clothing and shelves of weight loss supplements. Well then I have the perfect game for you!

I mean really aren’t these the strange unexplainable kinds of people you can see at any given day at this place. Last year we saw a lady who had transformed a pair of men’s tidy whities into a tank top. To this day I am baffled if it was for pure necessity, or whether she was trying to make a fashion statement. So enjoy your next trip to the theme park that is Wally World, and play the game that is all the rage. Come back and tell me if you get a Bingo!

Side note….no this is not my own invention, just found it oddly humorous when it was sent to me in an email. If this offends you in any way….I suggest don’t shop at Wal-Mart

And if you see the unattended crying children sorry those are my girls I wouldn’t let them have the free kittens.

Sentimental Sunday

This afternoon my good friend Cheryl and I were discussing junior high romance. Both of us have girls this age, but different opinions on the subject. I look back upon my junior high days and remember being so excited when a boy asked you to “go with him” as the phrasing went in the ’80’s. I remember my heart skipping a beat and thinking about seeing them at the Friday night football games with a large group of all your friends. Passing the random notes between classes, and maybe a quick shy and embarrassed phone call (with the voices of your brother and sister in the back ground squealing about a boy in need of an acne treatment calling the house).

That isn’t to say I don’t remember the bad times too. The boy who broke up before valentines and gave the carnation meant for you to another girl. The boy who really just wanted to find someone to “make out” with and then broke up when he found out you aren’t that kind of girl. These to me are hard lessons but worthy of learning. To test the waters a bit to understand what relationships are about at all types of levels even the most immature. It is a foundation and stepping stone for future relationships. In my mind to know your heart you have to use it and learn from it.

Cheryl has a completely different idea. She prefers her daughter to remain on the sidelines of teen romance scene and not share her heart at all. To keep it pure and intact for when the right one comes her way. She says a piece of your heart gets torn away with each relationship you try. A fine and noble concept that I completely admire. I know her daughter has watched and learned by avoiding the pitfalls of her lovelorn classmates. She has figured out that the guys around her are not right for her. It has worked for her daughter to some degree but in my opinion it is not a route you learn or grow from.

I don’t think either of us is right or wrong, just very different opinions. I don’t think I would be able to love my husband as much as I do If I had not learned some of my lessons the hard way. As I guide my girls through their own junior high romances I wonder if I am dong the right thing by allowing them to test the waters with these beginner relationships, or if indeed I am not leaving their hearts pure for their one true love. I am curious to what others remember about this age are there good lessons to be learned, or just lessons to be avoided?

Disability Camp Series: Taking the Plunge

There is a song by Steven Curtis Chapman called “Dive” that emphasizes well how apprehensive but determined I was for Regan to experience summer camp. The chorus read like this:

I’m diving in, I’m going deep in over my head, I want to be
Caught in the rush, lost in the flow, in over my head, I want to go
The river’s deep, the river’s wide,the river’s water is alive
So sink or swim, I’m diving in

I promised many of my readers to talk more about Regan going to camp. I can tell you it is a tough decision but one I am so glad that we made for her benefit and for ours. Like the song, I just had to let go and dive in head first and I am so glad we did. Honestly, she is a camp crazy kid….but I can tell you I was extremely apprehensive about sending her. Here were some of my many concerns:

1. No one can take care of her like I can. What if they do the wrong thing? What if she falls from her walker? What if she gets scared or hurt?

2. These people are going to be doing personal things for her….like helping in the shower, helping dress from the wait down, and helping with some basic toileting needs. What if they are not trained…..or worse some sort of child predator.

3. Will I be able to sleep an entire week leaving her in the care of perfect strangers? Is that really bad parenting on my part….that I kind of crave the break….but I am anxious that so much can go horribly wrong.

Well when she was ten we decided to take the plunge and try our first camp. First of all it was about 40 minutes from my house…..so the proximity if anything happened was very comforting. It also came highly recommended from friends of ours who had experienced success with their child at this camp. So we made the commitment and requested the paperwork for Texas Elks Camp in Gonzales, TX.

Let me say first of all that the requirements for every camp are very different. At Texas Elks Camp they take a variety of disabilities ranging from ADD to Downs Syndrome, but they will not take children who are wheelchair bound or need major medical help on a daily basis. The staff ratio is three kids to one counselor….and each session is open to all the special needs they accept….so it is not that they have “cerebral palsy week” or “diabetes camp”. It is kind of a free for all in terms of campers. The counselors are all college kids most who return year after year to work with the kids. The counselors have gone through numerous interviews and family background checks to work at the camp. There are several adult staff members, a camp director, and nurse to oversee everything.

The funny thing about Texas Elks Camp is that they very rarely are actually at camp. It is headquartered in an old Polio hospital that does not have extensive grounds or activities of it’s own. So every day the whole camp has trips to places. They go swimming at the local public pool, and go bowling at the bowling alley. They go to an amusement arcade that has go-carts, virtual rollercoasters, and a rock wall. They spend a few days at Splashway….a nice Waterpark in our area. They also bring in entertainment for after dinner, like a magician, have a camp dance, and outside water fun and barbecue. They also give each parent a detailed schedule for the whole week so at any time I can look at her schedule and know what she is doing. The first year I checked the schedule obsessively!!!!!!

Here is Regan on a blow up water slide they had one evening .Well, after the first week at camp, John Mark and I could not wait to pick her up….first to see if we had made a huge mistake….and she really did need us for every moment of the day. I was also sure she had missed us and would be so happy to see me that we would both be shedding tears of joy ( I am still waiting for those tears from her….three years later).

Okay, so she loved it! She loved making friends with people who are a lot like her, because honestly she doesn’t know many. Secondly she had a social life…..like boys asking her to dance…and girls to gossip with. She was also a huge hit with the counselors….so much that she was voted the “Blue Moose Girls: Camper of the Week”. They told me her positive attitude and her willingness to try everything made her a joy to be around ( yes, just like her mama).

She chatted the whole way home, and well into the night about everything and everybody, and then said “I am going back next year right”?

It is a plunge well worth taking.

The Boyfriend Rules at our House

The curse of having boycrazy girls is that I have actually had to come up with guidelines to address this situation for my 13 and 11 year old. My girls have never not liked boys…..even in kindergarten they were both mooning over someone, that is just part of their character and something I would rather manage then deny completely. In my mind if you deny or ignore the existence of those kinds of feelings than in my experience it happens behind your back and you end up with sneaky children.

Why do I know that….because I was a sneaky girl, and I know how much I hid from my parents and got away with. I don’t want my girls to feel like everything they do or feel must be kept in secret or that they should be ashamed of how they feel. So to keep the drama to a minimum we have come up with a few guidelines that we can all agree with until High School when we will reevaluate.

1. The first rule is you may not have a boyfriend that attends your school. this is actually really easy for us because my girls go to a rural country school and all the boys they know there are like brothers to them. This also allows for full and total concentration on school work as the number one priority.

2. To have a social life with boyfriend (like go to football/baseball games or junior high dances) You must have an “A” average on schoolwork. This makes Rebecca have to maintain her grades, and forces Regan to focus on her work and not get distracted.

3. The boy must meet specific standards
-good family
-believes in God and attends church
-kind to others
-good sense of humor
(Rebecca says it helps if they are hot too)

4. If there are plans to meet at the movies with a group then mom gets to go too.

Those are the official Junior High dating rules at my house, and I am so glad we were able to sit down together and come up with rules we can abide by and everyone can live with. It is already looking like my social calendar is about to be filled with Thursday and Friday Night football games and Saturday night movies…..maybe I can change answers on the girls homework and put them into a “B” average.

There I go being sneaky again.