Since the last post “In This Storm,” our family has experienced first hand God’s providence and care. Eric has been restored to full employment. I have been blessed to transition into a new position as assistant principal at an elementary near our home in the school district I have worked for the past 8 years. Emmarie was able to go on a mission trip to Corpus Christi (mom, too), attend UNT Choir Camp, go to Summer Church Camp and end the summer starting rehearsals for the Middle School Musical, Lion King. Kristopher became fully engrossed in the digital phenomenon of Pokemon, Go!, created stop motion videos via NISD Stop Motion Camp and continued to learn more about robotics through the NISD Lego Robotics camp.
I will not minimize that the first half of 2016 was rough. I have said many times in the first six months of this year… “I am ready for 2017, 2016 needs to make a quick exit!” However, I would not trade the life lessons: our family growing closer through the difficulties and seeing my children, husband and my own faith grow. These experiences have also helped me to be grateful and less consumed with the small “hiccups of life.”
As educators, we have two New Year’s. There is January 1st and then there is the first day of a new school year. We are lucky to have the opportunity to start a new calendar year and then a new school year. This year I am using it as a “reset button.”
We have already faced some challenges with our “new normal.” This includes Eric being in California for 10 days and missing Meet the Teacher and our first day of school. That’s not what we are going to focus on, rather, we are looking forward to the ways we can embrace the changes.
Part of that is me reaching out to my village of support, setting aside my default to do everything on my own, and not stressing about the small stuff. God has got this and he has already placed me in a web of support that is better than I could have ever hoped.
Here’s to the 2016-17 school year and hitting the reset button!
Kritterman had a banner year in many ways. He took his first state standardized test this spring. Got his own phone on when he turned 10 years old and has taken on lots of new opportunities and responsibilities at school and at home. As mentioned, he moved from a one digit age into the world of two digit ages. This year’s list reflects not only his accomplishments and new responsibilities, but his ongoing passions and newly discovered passions.
15. Early in 2015 Kritterman took the many hours of reading from a specific list of books and participated in Battle of the Books at his elementary campus. While his team did not win at the campus level, his dedication to read and work with a team of fellow readers further encouraged his love of reading.
14. One exciting new responsibility is helping Dad mow the lawn. That involves driving the tractor (or sitting lawnmower). In late February was his maiden “voyage” and he’s been helping Eric ever since… that is until the tractor bit the dust! Yes, we are on the hunt for some new wheels and nothing would make Kritterman happier than to be back in the driver’s seat!
13. Kritterman continued to showcase his learning through his favorite medium… technology. For the fourth year in a row Kristopher presented at our district’s Techno Expo. You can read a previous post about him and his sister “#digitalLearning… It’s a Family Affair.” He continues to amaze us how he utilizes digital tools to emphasize his strengths and support other learners.
12. For the third year Kritterman competed in Destination Imagination with his team. They practiced for hours months before the regional competition. It is amazing how much he enjoys this truly kid driven, creative problem solving competition.
11.Soccer continues to be a love of Kritterman’s with him playing Outdoor Spring, Summer Indoor and Outdoor Fall seasons, with a total of 3 1/2 years of soccer. He truly enjoys being able to play on the same team, the Firebirds, with the same coach for several seasons.
10. Kritterman spent the two previous summers attending the district Lego Robotics Club and his skills have grown exponentially. He was asked by special invite to join 4th and 5th graders to be part of his school’s Robotics Club. This led to him having the opportunity to be part of a presentation at Northwest ISD’s Night of No Limits (a Problem Based Learning- PBL Showcase). He continued to attend the robotics camp in Summer of 2015 and earned half of what was needed to purchase his very own Lego EV3 Robotics Kit so he could pursue his passion for robotics and programming at home.
9. While our aim is to always be at school, when we found out Kritterman had earned an award of Perfect Attendance we were both surprised and thrilled. It wasn’t our pursuit.. it just happened. So, when the end of the 2014-15 school year awards came around it was worth celebrating!
8. Did you read #12 and #10? Need I say more? Attending his 3rd Lego Robotics Camp was his thrill… his bot did not win the battle like he had hoped but he has plans for this year. Watch out world… or at least all the other campers!
7. This year was Kritterman’s “decade” birthday. We wanted to do it in style. EmBug and Mom were on a mission trip on his actual birthday, June 23rd, so to make a big splash a Minion Birthday Party was planned early in July for the opening weekend of the movie “The Minions” at the luxurious dine and watch movie theater, The Moviehouse.
6. When you have your own YouTube channel, blog and have created video tutorials for robotics programming you might be asked to sit on a panel and be asked questions by educators wanting to know why technology in the classroom is important to how you learn. This happened this summer at an Educator Conference called 1:World where Kritterman with a handful of other students shared the importance of technology for their own learning.
5. In September Kritterman took a road trip with Mom and Dad to go to the Texas Tech vs. Arkansas football game in Fayetteville. This was his first trip with Mom and Dad all to himself and he enjoyed being their focus of attention and celebrating the Hogs!
4. Together Kritterman and Mom ran several 5Ks throughout 2015 (Reindeer Romp- December, Larry’s Run in Bentonville, Arkansas- September, and Run for Change- April). This has helped develop a new interest and a determination.
3.Of course part of running some of the 5Ks were motivated by the challenge to run a total of 26.2 miles for the the Marathon Club he participated in the fall of 2015. He reached his goal of 26.2 miles when he ran his final 5K of 2015 at the Reindeer Romp. It won’t be long before he will be passing Mom and beating her to the finish line.
2. How can it be said other than this boy loves Legos. No box of Legos can be left undone. Any extra cash, birthday money or Christmas money goes to a new Lego kit.
1. What do you do when you get a video of your son at a sleep over demonstrating his second time on a Pogo stick… and he has wicked Pogo stick skillz? You modify the Christmas list… 3 days before Christmas!
There are lots of other joys, celebrations and accomplishments that any grandmother, aunt or mother would want to share, but for the rest of us, if you are still reading, this list is already way to long and must come to a close. We are looking forward to 2016 and as this post is getting it’s final touches Kritterman is already accomplishing more things worthy of posting. Here’s to hoping, as a mom, Kirsten can capture the events in a more timely manner throughout 2016! If not, know we will have another list of Top Events next year… we may be too busy enjoying the moment to get it published on the blog.
It wouldn’t be a post on Kritterman if we didn’t say, “May the Force Be With You… and build on!”
Somewhere between the last snow day in March of 2015 and January 1st, 2016 my good intentions and many plans to blog about events, activities and celebrations remained unwritten and many images are still stored in “the cloud.”
So in an attempt to capture what was missed the next 3 posts for “The Wilson Family Stories from Razorback Ranch” blog will consist of a list of Embug’s, Kritterman’s and our Family’s top events of 2015.
Hopefully in 2016 the posts will be frequent, short and keep us smiling!
The district I work for, and where the kids attend school, puts on Techno Expo, a technology integration showcase, of exemplar student work (a byproduct of their learning) every year at the end of February. The last two years, in my current role as an Instructional Technology Coach, I have co-hosted the production of this event with my entire IT team.
Our district of 20,000+ students is provided this opportunity to showcase their best technology integrated work. From all of the submissions approximately 1,200 student products are selected as the exemplar products to be presented by the students on this night. This year I was part of another spectacular showcase. Even more exciting was being able to take time to be a proud mom as well.
This year Emmarie had two presentations. Her first presentation was with a team of girls who put together a video documenting a Science PBL demonstrating potential and kinetic energy with the use of eggs and soda. The second presentation was over her Google Site that showcased various content addressing standards through her summer reading selection. In both situations she shared not only her knowledge of the content but her skill in creating the products presented.
On the same night Kristopher was also featured with his tutorial video created for the districts Lego Robotics programs. He had gone to a specific campus to support them as they began their Lego Robotics unit and from that created a screencast to support those learners as well as future learners who may need the resource. His presentation was impressive as he shared how he created the video but also how screencasting could be used to capture student learning.
For me it was a proud moment: as a mom, as an educator, and as a member of this community. My children amaze me constantly and this evening’s event was no exception. Their commitment to learning, excellence and service is incredible. Eric and I have been blessed and know that God has and will do great things through our children.
It is amazing to watch God work through my children and see prayers I uttered sometimes years ago and sometimes moments before answered in ways I never dreamed.
What amazing ways do children in your life amaze you? How is God working through you and those around you?
Every kid dreams of it…. the illustrious “Snow Day.” They are not a come lately event here in Texas, so when our “Snow Day” event comes along it is like a major event in history. My kids recall events from their winters tied to a snow day. Embug might say, “Remember in 1st grade when there was already 2 inches of snow on the ground and Daddy drove us to school only for us to be dismissed early? That was the year I worked with Mrs. Friday on my reading after school.” or “Remember in 4th grade when I made snow angels in the driveway in my PJs when you told us we didn’t have school that morning? That was the year I was elected to be in Student Council.”
Snow Days hold great importance to this family. Not because we all haven’t experienced snow. Goodness knows both my time in Michigan as an adolescent and Eric’s time in Connecticut and Massachusetts provided us more than our fair share, which one might add was too far north to get a snow day! They are important because they are like a much needed pause button in the race of life. We get a chance to connect, slow down and enjoy just being together.
Below is a Flipagram of some of our “Snow Day” pics of this past winter. We actually had very unusual, and late snow events this year… yes we had more than one!
Every boy has certain rites of passage. In the rural and suburbia America one such rite of passage is learning to mow the lawn. I do think it’s a bit more exciting when it happens on a riding lawn mower vs. a push mower, but it’s still an exciting time; that is, until the boy learns he is forever indentured to the green lush monster called a “LAWN.”
Kritterman experienced this rite of passage this spring. It first began with guided rides with his dad and quickly moved to solo rides and cutting the fenced part of our acre lot.
He is quite tickled with his new found skill. He truly is eager to provide this service and his dad is only too eager to hand over the keys.
It makes me so happy as a mom to see him so eager to help, and at the same time, a little sad. He’s not a little boy anymore. He will forever be a slave to the green lush monster… that is until he teaches his little boy this rite of passage.
This is Kritterman’s first season to play basketball. Learning the fundamentals have been his focus. Passing, dribbling, standing his post, defensive and offensive moves. While the glory comes in making baskets, that was a skill that when in the heat of a game was more difficult for our little man.
So fast forward to mid-season. Our local sports association had agreed to play with another local sports association to give both associations kiddos more games to play. Part of that agreement resulted in our association traveling to their home courts to play a tournament. What wasn’t shared with the coaches or our association’s Basketball Commissioner was that when they planned the match ups for the tournament… they put their kids aging the youngest on their teams a full year older than our oldest on our teams. So, for example, your 2nd grader age 8 would be playing a 4th grader age 9 1/2.
It was daunting for all of the boys on the team. The shortest boys on the opposing team were still four to six inches taller. This huge difference in size was not lost on the boys. However, they rallied. Did I want to call attention to this obvious miss-match of age and by default skill? Of course, but in the moment, I had to make my kiddo believe that he could do the impossible.
I would like to be able to say that the Jayhawks won both games they played in the tourney that day, but they didn’t. However, there were some amazing things that happened. The boys NEVER gave up. They played hard all the way to the end of both games. Even Kritterman had his moment… he shot for a basket and made his first one for the season in the second game. We were so excited we jumped up and screamed with joy. He had chipped his tooth right before the second game in a random accident… we were sure he wouldn’t bounce back, especially with the uneven pairing of the opposing team of giant 5th graders with his 3rd grade team.
So it wasn’t a fair match. Did it frustrate the boys? Of course. Did I want to right the wrongs of the situation? Sure, what parent wouldn’t? But sometimes there is a time to talk and other times it is a time to stay silent.
When have you stayed silent and let the life lessons rise to the top, that if you had spoke up, would have been thwarted?
This year Kritterman surprised us when he spread his wings and decided to be part of his elementary campus’ Battle of the Books club.
Students were given a list of books to read over the summer. In mid-fall they were asked to sign up to compete. They were asked to take an entrance test to earn a spot on a campus team.
In the fall of 2014 Kritterman did just that. Most 3rd graders do not make it on a campus team the first year… but he did. From mid-November until late January he and 6 other teams of six to seven students per team met. Teams consisted of 3rd, 4th and/or 5th graders. Kristopher’s team was mostly newbies and had the most 3rd graders with a couple of 4th graders and no 5th graders. In late January all the campus teams would compete to determine the team that would represent the school in the district Battle of the Books.
Odds were that his team would not be the campus team to move on to the district competition. However, they fought valiantly. They were a cohesive team, respected each others strengths and supported one another.
Kritterman was saddened by the loss, but is more determined than ever to return next year and come out on top.
Sometimes defeat is all the motivation needed. Now Kritterman has the experience paired with desire to not allow defeat again.
How has defeat turned into determination for you or your children?
We are trying the sport of basketball this winter. Kritterman showed interest in trying out a new sport. Neither Eric or I are under the delusion that just because he has the “tall” gene, he will play this sport with ease. Eric knows first hand the misplaced expectations placed on a tall person to be a “pro” at basketball. So we encourage Kritterman, while realizing that it should not surprise us if he walks away not loving it.
So far he is thoroughly enjoying learning the sport, practicing with his team and coach, and playing the game. He has seen first hand adults act a little crazy and make poor choices, all for the sake of a win. He has also seen adults stand up for what is right. He has experienced a huge defeat, the taste of almost winning and finally a win. Most of all he is learning the importance of teamwork and a love for the intricacies of the game.
This season he is a Jayhawk and is enjoying all the thrills that come with the “round ball” sport.
There are many traditions that families have during this time of year. Some light an advent candle and have an advent calendar, others visit every holiday show and light display possible throughout the season, and others may do an Elf on the Shelf.
Whatever you do it is something your family looks forward to with anticipation. Some traditions are influenced by your childhood, others are new traditions that have been created as a unique part of your family. There are opinions about all of them and with the explosion of social media and blogs there is no shortage of said opinions. I have come to a point that I don’t pay attention to others’ opinions, but rather, focus on the house where my husband and I create a home for our family.
One tradition, new to me but is part of my ethnic background, is Sinterklaus Day. Sinterklaus is the Dutch Santa or St. Nick. From what I have learned over the years Dutch culture and tradition separate the visit of Sinterklaus and the birth of Jesus. Sinterklaus Day comes early in the Christmas season while Christ’s birth is observed on the 25th. This white-bearded man, donning a long colorful winter coat, rides in on his horse late in the evening on December 5th. Dutch children leave their wooden shoes on the front porch with goodies for Sinterklaus’ horse in great anticipation. On the morning of December 6th children awake to find goodies such as succulent fruits and sweetbreads if they have been well-behaved; if not they find switches. The idea of the wooden shoe is believed to have evolved into the American tradition of hanging the stockings.
When my Daughter Embug was born we started celebrating Sinterklaus Day. While we do put out wooden shoes, they are not shoes we wear like the Dutch children. Embug and Kritterman enjoy leaving hay, an apple and carrots for Sinterklaus’ horse. On December 6th Sinterklaus usually leaves each child their Christmas PJs for the season, Christmas ornament, Christmas t-shirt or sweater, a Christmas Movie or CD, plus a variety of yummies and winter stocking caps/mittens. This tradition has become such a part of us that Embug and Kritterman were surprised when they found out from their peers that Sinterklaus did not visit their homes. However, Sinterklaus has made his way to homes of our friends in recent years once those children learned of his practices.
In addition to the tradition of Sinterklaus, the family has been caught square in the web of the Ugly Sweater themed Days and Parties. While there are too many events to recount, one party got Kirsten and Eric caught red-handed in the knitted disasters.
How are you creating memories and celebrating new and old traditions in your family?