Everything Matters

Until it doesn't anymore

Being a parent and an educator in the same school district is tough. I would go so far to say that being a parent and educator no matter the school district is tough. Heck, just being a parent OR an educator is tough.

However, having children in school district where you work does help to provide little subtle reminders about the power of being an educator.

As a family, we are in a year of transition. My son has now entered 6th grade and attends the middle school where I work. My oldest daughter is in 4th grade while my youngest has entered kindergarten.

As an educator I love learning. My wife and I are both teachers and we just have a deep passion for learning and for kids. We want our children to be happy, to love learning, and to feel successful. We also want that for every student that we come in contact with as an educator.

As an educator it is easy to lose sight of the idea that everything matters. We become so used to the routine and atmosphere of our school and our classroom that we sometimes lose sight of the small details that are the most vital for successful learning. We become so stressed to meet the needs of data, standards, spreadsheets, forms, and other elements that we all know are not always the answer. Because of this we don’t pay much attention to the pieces that have long lasting impacts on a student. We feel rushed to get through more and more and more that we sometimes skip over or gloss over the little moments that can make monumental gains in the life a child. We simply strive to survive a job that is proving to be more and more difficult each day.

My daughter, the one in kindergarten, is just a spitfire in life. She says the craziest things, holds her own to anyone, and can go from giggling to pure anger in a nanosecond. As tough as the tries to act she is very sensitive and thrives off emotion. And so it has been an interesting year as she has moved to kindergarten. Letters and numbers are not her thing because they don’t come easy. She has had problems with speech and a few other things. She tries her best to not act like anything is wrong, but there are times when she shifts from acting angry to tears. She wants to be like her brother. She wants to be successful like her sister. She wants it all to come naturally and easy as it appears it does for her siblings. She is five, but is smart enough to know that mom and dad are intelligent and wants us to approve of her work.

She does not want to disappoint.

Herself

Her mom and dad

Her family

In one of these moments of anger the other day my heart broke as a parent. You see my daughter wakes up every single day during the week and instantly starts yelling. She throws a fit about her clothes. They don’t fit. Therefore, she won’t be able to go to school. Her socks don’t fit right. Her hair is a mess. She won’t eat breakfast. She yells. She screams. She is angry. Why? Is it because these things are true? No, it is because this is how she copes with the idea of heading to school where she does want to go. She wakes with stress. She wakes with fear. She wakes not with excitement to learn, but fear of what she can’t or won’t be able to learn. And this hurts me to the core.

She celebrates days when her class does not have centers. She was talking about school one day and she broke into tears. She was sharing how she always gets smaller stars on her paper because she is not as smart as the other kids. I don’t for one second believe this is intentional. I believe what happens is that during the work time the teacher simply marks the papers with stars as they finish and get things correct. However, in the eyes of a five year old who lacks confidence these stars are everything. They mean the world to her and are a gauge of her self esteem. These five pointed symbols are a sign of how others view her in her mind. It explains why she draws monster size stars at home when she plays school for hours upon hours on end.

Even if it is intentional to showcase the difference between right and wrong this small act, this small nanosecond of a quick scribbled shape on a piece of paper is the difference in the outlook and feeling of school to a child. This split second moment is everything.

Yes, we talked with her. Yes, we are working on things at home, but it is tough because she does not like to work on them because she “knows it already! DAD!”

The moral of this story is to make sure we take notice of the small things. Do we say hello to everyone? Do we acknowledge all kids regardless of how they act, perform, and behave? Do we provide positive reinforcements to help bring a smile to their faces? Do we do the things necessary to create positive relationships? Do we ensure that the stars we draw for our students are big and beautiful?

Because without relationships nothing else matters.

But with a relationship everything matters. With a relationship these small moments can be the difference between a smile and tear on the face of a child in which these two factors can be the greatest impact on any spreadsheet or data set that everyone seems to require these days.

 

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Spike the Elf: Days 1-9 Adventures

Here is a rundown of the adventures of Spike the Elf in the Maurer household.

Day 1: Started out pretty simple. He just sat down in a high chair in our dining room that we used at Thanksgiving time(I know too lazy to carry it down to storage). For an obvious spot Spike was not noticed all day until the time of getting ready for bed. Simple and not too glamorous of an entrance.

Day 2: After sitting unnoticed all day in an uncomfortable spot he need a soak in a marshmallow bath. He was noticed right away as the kids tried to brush their teeth before school. They were fascinated by the magic marshmallows from the North Pole and took extra caution not to touch. Spike also wrote them a letter back on the paper that they hid the first night. Thank goodness someone overheard the kids talking strategy about hiding the paper to test Spike! This could have proved disasterous.

Day 3: Once again he was easily spotted as he accidentally trapped himself on the mantle of Christmas decorations. He somehow got wedged in this container and was trying to break free. It was pretty crazy when the kids were talking about Spike being stuck and he moved his arms while we were all around him. It really startled them all.

Day 4: Spike moved to the top of the fridge for our next day. He was spotted in record time despite being hard to notice. He was wearing these amazing glasses that turn Christmas lights into 3D shapes and patterns. These particular glasses make Christmas lights look like Snowmen. He was spotted and was in great viewing for the behavior of the kids who were not being the best! Spike took note and took copious notes.

Days 5 and 6: Spike became quite clever with this next challenge. In our dining room he set up a brainteaser. One his note behind the candle it stated that the kids had to move two toothpicks to create four equal squares. If they did this, then they would receive a prize. It took the kids two days of trying before they gave up. Needless to say no prize was given, but brain cells were lost during the thinking process. Spike moved on to another spot and gave them a chance to recover.

Days 7 and 8: Spike moved on to another hiding spot that he thought would be super obvious, but lo and behold he was stuck idle hiding in the Christmas tree for two full days before being discovered. Spike could not believe that he had to sit upside down for 48 hours. This was one that he thought for sure would be easy after the challenging brain teaser from the days before.

Day 9: Spike returned back to the giving spirit by creating a cool little setup. He asked the kids to plant some peppermint seeds and water with candy sprinkles for a tasty surprise to grow. He set three containers up for each of the kids. Addy and Ava were on this quick and ready to go. Now the kids have to excercise some patience waiting for the treat to grow. What will it be? Only Spike knows…….

Stay tuned for the prize and the rest of the events to unfold.

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36 Days Remaining – Race For The Cure with Kids

Today I woke up the trio early to get them ready for the Race For The Cure. They have grown used to sleeping in a little bit longer than 6:45. Amanda is in Chicago for the weekend with her friends having some time away from the daily grind and I decided to register the kids and let them experience the race atmosphere.

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Ava ready to run…

In some ways this was nice to share this with the kids. However, I won’t lie and tell you that placing the bib on my shirt and the timing chip did not make me flip my competitive switch. I would have liked to give this race a go to see where I am at in terms of pushing the limits. But, I had a great time with the kids.

It was great seeing so many people out supporting those who have battle cancer especially breast cancer. As I stated on FB this morning when you stop to think about everyone affected by cancer it is scary and alarming. Right now there are a lot of people in my life both in family, friends, and teaching circles that are battling cancer themselves or have a child battling cancer. It makes me stop to appreciate my health and give these fighters much credit for not giving up hope and staying strong. When I am sore from a long bike ride I really should not complain when I stop to think about how lucky I am.

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Ready to Race!

This morning it became hot fast. LIVE UNCOMMON had a great turnout and the new shirts were SWEET!

When we finally got there we had quite a walk to the LIVE UNCOMMON area. I think that was about half the race. We hung out for a bit and then made our way to the start. We were way in the back which I am not used to. It took forever for us to get to the starting line. Ava was in no mood for the stroller as she was tired of looking at butts and wanted me to carry her so she could people watch(like her mamma).

Here is the view from where we were

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After we finished we ate some cookies, popsicles, and of course found the jumpers for the kids. We met many people and I even met someone who is looking to jump in a and train with us in the mornings. I love these crowds and these people who are all about making themselves better in whatever pursuits they have.

IMG_3239So far I have survived The Solo Adventures of Hanging with Dad. Below is a slide show of pictures from the weekend so far. I will continue to add to this throughout the weekend. I can assure you that the best is yet to come.

All in all I bet we walked close to 3 miles between walking to and from the car, the one mile race(Ava was in no mood for 2 more miles), and just walking around. Addy came home and crashed for a 3 hour power nap. Ava slept about 2 hours and during that time I sanded the deck. Aiden lost a tooth.

For lunch Ava decided to put ravioli in her hair(pictures coming soon to the album) and I am trying to pick up the house a little bit before Amanda comes home.

Here is the slide show of the weekend so far. More will be added throughout the weekend.

Trying to rest as much as possible the rest of the day. I have a 13 mile run to get in tomorrow night and then a recovery week in my half Ironman training leading up to the QC Tri and then things get crazy as I cram in a major week of training in four days before I leave to party and dance the night away with the Dave Matthews Band for three days. By the way, I have a ticket available if anyone is interested in one wild weekend where anything can happen. One ticket is open and one spot in the Tailgate Beast Van.

Alright, back to meeting the demands of my girls…….

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Maurer Family Has Been Hooked on Geocaching

Last night I took my kids outside to try out Geocaching. Geocaching is simply using a GPS enabled device or a compass to locate hidden treasures and locations that others have created. I wanted to test out the Geocaching.com app as we are exploring geocaching with my 4th grade ELP group. While we wait for more GPS devices I wanted to make sure I knew what I was doing.

IMG_2459I tried to explain to Aiden what we were going to do. My explanation did not work out well as he was not the least bit interested. Aiden and I had to make errand run and while I was waiting for him I tested out our location to see if anything was nearby and lo and behold there was a spot about .3 of a mile away. I gave him my phone and told him to navigate me to the spot. We drove to the Family Museum and got out and began to use the app to track down the treasure. This treasure was called Leonardo from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This was one of several clues in the series. After wandering and wandering we finally made the discovery. Aiden was so excited. I knew by the look in his eyes that he was hooked. We took one of the treasures and replaced it with another treasure from my car,hid the contents, made sure nobody was looking, and took off home.

When we got home Aiden instantly went to work making his own little treasure to hide. In the meantime I found that there were two more pretty close to our house. I loaded Ava in the stroller and Addy got ready and we headed out exploring.

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Aiden brought his treasure in case he found a good spot to hide it.

They were in heaven looking for the treasures. Over an hour later we had tracked down two more treasures and walked easily 1.5 miles if not more. It was awesome to see them so excited and getting exercise at the same time.

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She was one proud girl tracking this one down.

Tonight we hope to hide his treasure and get it loaded up on the geocaching.com website. We are also going to explore Duck Creek for me treasures.

The nerds have found a new way to waste time together. Time to get ready to explore.

Here are some pictures from our travels. SPOILER ALERT! A few of these might give away certain hiding spots so if you are interested in finding these then don’t look through the photos.

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How Does This Happen?

This morning I was loading up the kids, getting things around, turning off lights, etc.(all the basic things that happen in a 7 minute window in the morning). I always keep Ava in her highchair so she does not wander off to mysterious places. While loading up my school gear in my car I came back to Ava looking like disaster. Not only disaster, but she somehow placed some of her breakfast with pure precision on her nose. I think it was placed so accurately she did not even notice.

Nothing special to this post, but just had to share as it cracked me up. Crazy hair(it never does anything but stand up all over the place), breakfast all over her outfit(not sure one bite made it to her mouth), and one piece stuck ever so perfectly on her nose.

To be young and carefree again! She was just content that someone was smiling and looking at her. It is the simple things in life.

Is there something on my face?
Where did my breakfast go?
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BIX Photos – Here are some visuals from the race

Below are some photos from the BIX 7 race held last weekend. The ones with the proof emblem are from the official photos taken on race day and the others were taken by me when the kids ran the Jr. Bix the night before. Enjoy!

Aiden(age 6) and Addyson(age 4)

Me with Aiden after his race. I have never been so proud of anything or anyone as I was watching him run with all his heart during his 1/2 mile run.

Big boy chowing down waiting for Addyson to run her little race.

Addyson is going to be our athlete. She cried their entire Moonlight Chase, but she tore this race up and was very proud of her medal.
This picture made the QC Times and Aiden is behind the kid in the tie dye shirt on the right.

Here I am pre-race as I was just getting ready for my warm up run.

Notice the change in expression as this is me after the race. I was dead and did not have enough energy to even smile.

Heading on home and my legs were going on me quickly

My stupid arm position that my wife always makes fun of. I finally see it after all this time.

This picture captures how tired I am. I left it all out on the course and the results were worth it.

The finish line FINALLY! It is amazing how the brain and legs realize this line and instantly shut down.

One more shot of finishing. I needed water so bad and yet it felt like it was miles away.
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Summer 2011 Photos

Here you go. My latest photo project.

People ask me for photos of Ava. People ask me what I do with my time in the summer.

I put two and two together added my other kids because they are just as important as Ava and decided to come up with the Summer 2011 Photo Project.

Each day or every couple days I will add photos to this gallery for you to enjoy. From this point on I will keep a link over in the sidebar. I will not post each time I add a photo. I will add some descriptions to the photos.

It would be cool if we had a collective group posting a pic or two each day. If you would be interested in doing that then simply email me and I can create a group on Flickr so we can all be connected.

Here is a updated batch of photos of summer so far. Descriptions will be up later when I have time.

Enjoy

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