Sunday, October 25, 2015

Blake - Academics and Attitude

Blake still is active, inquisitive and could most likely charm the socks off of anyone. He is very social, loves people and has a caring heart. He gets all teary eyed during touching movies and worries when someone is sick. Blake loves to argue and enjoys trying to convince anyone that he is right. I foresee a career in law or politics!

In the 3 1/2 years since joining our family, the three most prominent issues with Blake are academic delays, motivation, and respect for authority.

Academically, Blake is far behind his peers. He struggles with math concepts and reading. That being said, we saw improvement over the Summer. More on Summer tutoring in another post. At the end of the school year, we discussed the best options for Blake for the 2015/2016 school year. The skills support team believes he is still getting more one on one teaching time at St. Anthony than he would in the public school system. So for now, Blake will remain at St. Anthony. With middle school quickly approaching, we may find it necessary to switch him to the public school. This is not our first choice because Blake loves the religious aspect of school so much. In addition, he has been well accepted at St. Anthony and we so love the teachers. We are in our 16th year at St. Anthony, and leaving the school would be difficult.

Blake has always lacked motivation to improve. Whether it involves academics, sports, music and even riding a bike, Blake wants to give up almost before he starts. Blake has great aspirations, he just wants to start at the top. Getting him to understand that being good at anything takes practice and a lot of hard work has been a challenge. I think he is beginning to see that he has to work for his successes. We have slowly started to see some maturity in this area. When we started swim lessons last Spring, he was adamant that he could not go in the deep end without a life jacket. With lots of encouragement, he was swimming across the deep end by the end of the 5 week session. Now he is learning how to do the back stroke and tread water. He is very proud of his swimming accomplishments and he knows he had to work hard to get where he is now.

We adjusted some of his extracurricular activities to help him understand this concept and create self-motivation. He hated having to practice piano, but loved to practice singing. So we stopped piano lessons and he joined the children's choir at church. He seems to be much happier with this choice and choir is free! I am no longer paying out $100 a month for lessons and arguing with him about practice.

He started golf lessons in the Spring as well. He was excited to play golf because his cousin is a good golfer. He was less excited when he realized he wasn't as good as his cousin. We had him stick it out and explained that Conner had been golfing for many years and it takes a lot of practice and lessons to be really good. He has since completed two more sessions and he has gradually began to enjoy the lessons. This is a sport that Blake is able catch up to his peers and potentially be good enough to play on a team in high school. It appears that he also has improved quite a bit. He was practicing his putts out in the front yard this past August and I noticed he had pretty good form. Then he got out a driver and I didn't think much of it and wanted to see what his swing looked like. I didn't know just how good of a swing he had. He nailed the ball and what a drive it was. The ball flew about 4 houses down and bounced hard on the road. I was very grateful there were no cars or people around. We then decided that he can no longer use his driver in the yard. I know I should never underestimate that kid!

The golf program also teaches core values, including responsibility, honesty, respect, and sportsmanship. So this is very good reinforcement for Blake. He will start up his 4th session in November. He will be practicing chips, putts and drives in an indoor facility and spend part of the time working on school work with a mentor. First Tee is a great program.

The other area of concern with Blake is respect for authority. He doesn't like having to follow orders from parents, teachers, babysitters, etc. Over the Summer, we noticed some improvement in this area. We were adamant about reducing privileges for arguing, back talking, and general disrespect. It seemed to sink in a bit even though he wasn't happy about it. But overall, we had a pretty good Summer behavior wise with Blake.

He had a rough start getting back to school this Fall. Same as prior years. Didn't want to do his work. Wasn't happy about his teachers "telling him what to do". He had a few meltdowns at school and at home over "not wanting to be bossed around". After a long meeting with the school staff, we approached his behavior by explaining that his teachers are doing their jobs by telling him what work he has to do. If they didn't give him work, they wouldn't be doing their jobs. His job is to do his work. We came to an ageement whereby any work not completed at school came home with him and was extra homework on top of his regular homework. It took a few days for him to realize that the less work he completed in school, the more of his free time was taken up after school to complete the work. It has been going smoothly now and he is in a good school/homework routine.

Overall we have seen progress in Blake's attitude toward school work and authority as well as academic progress. We expect to see more improvement throughout the school year. Parenting a strong willed child isn't easy. But seeing a proud smile on his face when he accomplishes something or makes a good choice, makes it worth the effort.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Life Updates in Pictures

Dad was due for a new car. But instead, the girls got a car! Really helps mom out

Blake was Priest for a Day and even went out to lunch with Father Mark.

Emery's Spring Gymnastics Show.

Happy Father's Day

Summer flowers on my deck.

Happy July 4th

Our family went on a week long vacation to California this Summer.

We stayed in Sunset Beach and visited Disneyland, Hollywood, Rodeo Drive

and Fashion Island.

We all had a great time.

Twins loved the hot tub

View of the Pacific from our house

Blake flying a kite on the beach for the 1st time.

Breakfast with Goofy

Tea Cup Ride

Emery loved Buzz

Ended up having to stay a night in Denver due to plane problems.

Poor Emery was too tired to eat dinner after 7 long hours at LAX.

Blake always manages to strike up a conversation with the pilot.

This is Blake sitting in the cockpit. All smiles of course.

Hanging out with my twinkies on the boat at the lake.

Cottage Ice Cream Party. Yum!

My silly niece

The Blakester


My handsome nephew

Ashley ran in the Grand Rapids Color Run this Summer

Ashley loved the colored chalk spray and sparkles

Color Run with friends 2015

Gracie and Harley patiently waiting for a boat ride

First Day of 4th grade

1st Day of School. Ashley a sophomore and Nicole a junior.
Ashley is West Catholic Cheerleader this year.

What a cutie!

Blake loved kayaking in the cove this Summer

First day of school for Emery. Look at that smile!

Giant Adirondack chair at the ice cream store.

Grand Rapids Art Prize 2015

Art Prize

Blake has been playing golf with First Tee since Spring.


That is a summary of life since my last post. A lot more going on. Will try to update on some specifics soon.