Friday, October 25, 2013

Today

Yesterday was a busy, crabby, stressful day. It is state testing at school, and these days prove to be long for both students and teachers alike. I was feeling crabby and ungrateful by the end of the day. However, I went and got my boys and had a great evening watching cartoons, eating pizza for supper, giving baths, and reading stories. I fell asleep at 8:30 with one boy in my armpit and the other holding my hand and Thanking GOD for the wonderful gift of being a mother.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Ugly

Today I'm feeling ugly in every sense of the word. My heart is ugly, my thoughts are ugly, my mood is ugly.

The truth is, deep down, God knows my heart and forgives me for this ugly day.

I find myself tired, wanting, and angry today.

Today could change. I could change today. Tomorrow is a new day.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Vacation Memories

*giggly boys
*excited boys
*happy boys
*bunk beds
*cabin
*outdoor air
*gravel roads
*coffee in the morning
*wine at night
*Charlie Brown
*deer in the yard
*picnics
*hiking
*Mickelson Trail
*rock hunting
*track finding
*pre-bike week
*Reptile Gardens
*crocodile show
*petting a baby croc
*46 year old tortises
*Storybook island
*choo choo train
*Prairie Berry
*sleepy boys
*smell of sunscreen
*snuggly boys
*tired of driving
*baseball caps and boonie hats
*Love
*Marriage
*remember why I like you
*Wyoming
*trampoline gymnastics
*campfire
*smores and peanut butter
*Family
*reading and snuggling
*nieces and nephews
*uncles and aunties
*hugs and kisses
*turtle pool
*all our clothes on
*all our clothes off
*make the neighbors wonder
*a beer or two
*telling stories
*short on sleep
*playground fun
*leftovers
*long drive home
*need caffeine
*out of good snacks
*pit stop
*pick up puppies
*panic attack
*finally home!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Swimming Lessons

My biggest little man started swimming lessons this week. Real swimming lessons; Don't need mom to swim with me; I can do it all by myself; swimming lessons. I won't lie, I had to swallow my tears and dab my eyes as I watched him happily march off with his preschool swimming class and teacher. Gulp. My baby is growing up. Tear. Sniff. Sniff.

There is a certain feeling of helpless, sadness in watching your children grow. However, watching my son walk away reminds me I am doing something right. He is secure enough in himself to know he can take this next step toward independence. Besides that, he never once stopped checking to be sure I was still there! I am doing something right..roots and wings.

I am so proud of the brilliant, vivacious, funny little boy he is growing into, but I am also mourning the baby years. Lately he has been wanting me to "read" his baby book to him. I can't believe he is three and a half already! Seriously now, where does the time go!?! The passage of time is inevitable, but experiencing these little moments reminds me to slow down and enjoy the here and now becase the truth is, my babies will grow up. The truth is, they will get older. I will get older. The truth is, every moment counts, even the bad ones. The truth is, I won't enjoy the bad moments. The truth is, I do need to be thankful for and praise God for the ALL the moments I have with my children.

Fly my little man, fly!

Blip

My husband and I are currently working through a blip in our marriage. A blip, as defined by me, is not quite a bump in the road, but more like a strong pull toward the ditch, a pull that wakes you up and reminds you to keep your eyes on the road, slow down, enjoy the ride and know that there is a rest stop just ahead.

I wish that we were not experiencing this challenge right now, but I know from the past that when (not if) we make it through, we will come out stronger, better, more unified. I thank God for the gift of this challenge and the tools he is given me to overcome it. I thank God that I have a marriage worth sticking around and working for. I thank God for pushing my husband to be an honest man (though it took awhile, and hearts - specifically mine, were hurt in the process). I thank God for giving me this time to reflect on what I have done in the past to hurt our relationship as well as what I can do in the future to make our marriage stronger.

The truth is, there are blips in the road. The truth is, we are all human, and we all make mistakes. The truth is, this situation is NOT my fault. The truth is, this situation is not a reflection of my own self worth. The truth is internalizing this hurt, will only hurt me and our marriage more. The truth is, this will most certainly not be the last blip in our road.

Happy Independence Day

On Saturday, my husband was explaining to our three year old the significance of Independence Day. As my baby and I came banging out the tornado tattered (4 years ago - not recent) screen door onto the back deck, my three year old proudly proclaimed, "Mom - Independence Day means we can swing in our own backyard whenever we want," and then happily continued swinging back and forth in the blue little tikes swing in OUR backyard.

***

A few days later, on the actual Fourth of July...our family of four cuddled close watching the ten o'clock fireworks. The boys were dressed in their jammies and sweats with red, white, and blue glow lights adorning their necks (great idea Grammie!!) We brought the old patchwork quilt, spread it on the tailgate, and with one boy by my side, one in my lap and my hubby behind me, I thanked God for freedom.

Happy Independence Day!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Proud to Be an American, Proud to Be a Mother

As a mother there are moments that take me to the brink of insanity. Moments when I look at the raging monster I helped create, laying on the floor kicking and screaming, and wonder what am I doing wrong. But then there are those blissful, wonderful, moments when I look at my children and know I am doing good (mostly this happens when they are sleeping.) One of these blissfully gratifying mother moments occurred last night.

My husband had the day off. My 3 year old and I had dentist appointments in the morning (his first, not my first) followed by a coffee date (is that bad parenting??). We then planned to take naps and head thirty miles west for a picnic, park play, and a wonderful outdoor musical that has become a family tradition (even though my husband has firmly stated makeup-ed, dancing, cowboys are not usually his thing).  I love the feeling of pride  and home the show gives us (and my husband, makeup-ed cowboys or not, agrees).  After naps, my three year old was a wreck...the term "woke up on the wrong side of the bed" doesn't even really get close.  However, we headed out anyway.  I was determined to make the most of it and choose to have a positive attitude about how the remainder of the evening would unfold.  We were a little rushed (as usual), but not to the point of being frazzled when we got there.  The kids were a little sticky with jelly and sunscreen, but otherwise excited to see the big amphitheater and escalator.  We made it to our seats just in time and only minutes after we settled in the National Anthem, signaling the start of the show, began.  As I sang along with the familiar song letting my heart and mind rejoice in the gift of being an American, I looked down at my son...He was not signing (he's only three), but what he was doing was even better...he had both little hands placed on his chest and was quietly pondering the proceedings while honoring our country and our flag.  I cried.  In that moment, I knew I was doing something so right, and I was so so proud of the little man I helped create.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Why?

As summer rolls along, several tragedies have taken place in the small community and surrounding areas where my husband and I grew up. It seems so senseless, the taking of vibrant, young life, but who are we, mere mortals, to question that which God has planned. When tragedy strikes, the first question so many people ask is, "Why, God? Why?" I know, because I have been there. I have lost someone near and dear to me, long before I had deemed it her time to go. Asking why of God is a natural progression in the grief process. I have since grown in my faith and now my questions have changed.

As the news of a tragic accident or an untimely death reaches our ears, we are often bombarded with text messages, Facebook posts, and emails suggesting we hold our loved ones closer. My questions are, "Why now? Why weren't we already doing this? Why does someone else need to suffer lose and pain for us to realize that each day is a gift and what is important should be held close...everyday. But we do, we seem to need that tragic reminder to put down the laundry and run with our children, to leave the house unkept and read just one more story before bed. Why? It sounds as if I am on my soapbox, but I too am guilty of putting the urgent before the important, of needing that gruesome reality check to be a better person, a better mother, a better wife.

I try to remind myself daily to live as Jesus did, to put my life in his hands, follow his plans and not my own. I try not to dwell on the what ifs and live in the moment and I also know that I am human, a sinner, and God will forgive me and sent me straight when I don't.

So for yesterday, today, and all of the tomorrows...I will hold that which I love closer.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Summer Reading

So far:

1. Splendors and Glooms (MG/YA novel) - fantastic, dark, magical mystery about the joy of finding "home."

2. Me Talk Pretty One Day - I slugged through...I found one bright spot.  Thats all.  Period.

3. The Lightning Thief - (MG novel) fantastic!  Makes me want to study Greek History!  Can't wait to read the rest of this series.

4. Reading Lolita in Tehran -

***

5. The Storyteller - fantastic fiction set during the Holocaust

6. Two Kisses for Maddy - sadly happy! www.mattlogelin.com

***

7. Miss Peregrines Home for Peculiar Children

8. Moon over Manifest - Love, love, love - speakeasies, Spanish influenza, finding out where you came from, the bond between a father and daughter - excellent young adult read!

9. Redeeming Love - BEST. BOOK. EVER. God's love is sooo good!

10. Hattie Big Sky

More updates to come!  So many on my "to read list" this summer!

11. The Diviners

12. Wonder

13. A Tangle of Knots

14. Glory Be

15. Wedding Night - hilarious and light!

Welcome Summer

I sit quietly typing in the dark as my family sleeps.  Ruffled hair and flushed cheeks snore softly as tiny toes peek out from under blankets reaching for a cool breeze from the moisture sodden air blowing in from the open windows.  I love summer!

Just a few short days in and a new kind of routine has taken the place of our school year busy-ness.  We are more relaxed.  We sleep later, play longer, and wear our pajamas well into the start of a new day.  Sometimes I get frustrated...my children are one and three, but then my husband reminds me to take time for what is important.  What is important isn't the laundry or the dishes (though these do beg to be done from time to time).  I must remind myself that in having children, I traded sandy smiles and grass stained knees for an orderly home...and I wouldn't have it any other way!

Hello summer and Welcome!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Letter to a Fellow Teacher and Friend

Dear Friend ~

When I first met you two summers ago, I knew you were kind and maybe we were like souls.  When I later spent time wandering Barnes and Noble with you, I was convinced we were.  Now as you prepare to move on to the next leg of your journey, I only wish I would have spent more time with you, cultivating our friendship and sharing our likenesses. 

I know this move is bittersweet for you, but I have no doubt that you will excel no matter where the wind blows you.  You are a model for what I think every teacher should be.  Sure we all have our own style, but the love you have for your students and the compassion you have for all those around you is enviable.  I naively thought when I went into teaching myself that all teachers felt that way about their students, but sadly, I was mistaken.  You are one of few and I know your good heart will stand the test of time.

I know it is a clichĂ© to say "keep in touch,"  however, I truly want to keep in touch.  I want to see what you become Miss McLean. I want to share books, stories, and photos of our families.  You have made a fantastic impression on me and the students we share.  You are irreplaceable and will be greatly missed.

Great things are in your future...namely a friendly gathering tomorrow, book club this summer, and a wedding within the year!



***She is leaving our school to be with her fiancĂ© because they could not both get jobs within our district.  She is young, bright, and so very full of amazingness! 

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Just Be

I meant to write earlier this week. I meant to write a reflective, heartfelt piece all about what being a mother and Mother's Day means to me. But I didn't.

The truth is, I don't need to write a beautiful, heartfelt piece just to affirm that I am a good mother. What I do need to do is just be. Just be myself, just be a mother to my boys, just spend time with them without plans and checklists and to dos.

My husband has been away all week for work, my oldest went to the farm with my parents, so it was just me and my baby last night. At first, I thought of it as an opportunity to get all kinds of things done, checked off my list, but then I realized...I don't ever get this one on one time...my oldest had two years full of mommy time, but not my baby. So I decided to forget the list and just BE.

Today - I am encouraging others to forget the list (its super hard), leave the dishes in the sink (or at least the dishwasher, leave the clothes on the floor, and leave the finger prints on the window. Tomorrow is a new day and these moments of brief one on one time with our children last only for a short while. Today - I am encouraging others to just BE.

My new daily to do list goes something like this:

Take time to:
cuddle
read
play tractors
laugh
pray
relax
BE

These are the things that matter most. The rest can wait. Just BE.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Confessions of a Book Hoarder

I love books. 



I have books in ever nook and cranny in both my classroom and my house.

I buy another book even when I still have ten (or 20) more in my to read pile.



I think the book is always better than the movie.

I have a book in my purse at all times...just in case (of what I'm not sure...a train stop...a wait at the Dr...a natural disaster in which all other books are destroyed...security: I just can't bare to be without a book!?!)

As a child, I took a stack of books everywhere (yes this dates me a bit...no e readers yet).

My dad put carpet on the tractor floor...I alternated between sleeping, reading, eating snacks, and the occasional singing, but mostly reading and sleeping.

I have multiple book wish lists, sorted by interest level and topic.

I have read the entire Harry Potter series 3 times.

I have read Black Beauty more times than I can count.

I like the feel of a book in my hands.


My hubby and I were once asked to leave the public library because they were closing.

I could spend hours in Barnes and Noble.


I am a book nerd and love it!

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

What Good Did God Give You Today?

This is the phrase I ask my 3 year old every night before bed.  I ask because I want to know and because I want him to know that God gives all things.  Sometimes he lists his toys.  Other nights, his Grammi and Papa, and still others, activities we have done as a family.

Last night, while eating supper on the deck, in the beautiful May weather, he proclaimed, "God gave us eating?  And playing!  And laughing!"  I was so very very proud of him...and myself.  He gets it!  I get it...and despite my less than stellar parenting moments, I am raising a child who will know God.  I am doing it right.

What Good Did God Give Me Today?  - The gift of being that beautiful boys mother.



What Good Did God Give YOU Today?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

What I'm Reading Now

I'm not sure how I'm doing on my top 20 must read list.  I think as my book lover self goes...I have gotten distracted by other books.  A month and a half long headache has kept me from reading at my normal rate lately, but some painkillers and doctor appointments later and I am back at it!

I just finished a YA novel entitled "Out of the Easy."  It was set in the Quarter of New Orleans...such a different world from my own.  I thoroughly enjoyed it!



I am also reading (therapist recommended) "How to Act Right When Your Spouse Acts Wrong."  I haven't gotten too far yet, but I think I am going to like it.  It is the definition of - kill them with kindness - but yet it doesn't suggest you should just sit back and take crap from anyone either. 


And next up on my list another YA novel entitled, "Splendors and Glooms," which looks to be a spectacularly dark fantasy novel involving puppeteers (and the winner of a Newbery Honor)...more to come as I delve into this one!


I also recently downloaded "The Whiz Pop Chocolate Shop," and am anxious to start it.  This book looks to be in the same caliber as "The Candymakers" and "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory." Who doesn't love a book about chocolate!?!





Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Be More Sloth-Like

We got a new book...PS, I love new books! It is entitled, "A Little Book of Sloth" by Lucy Cooke. My 1 and 3 year old as well as my 32 year old all thoroughly enjoyed it. It is all about the superbly relaxed, odd little mammal that is the sloth. My 3 year old refers to it as "Sleepy Sloths." The boys enjoy the colorful photos and the descriptive language...just chill...cuddle puddle...slothpital, but I enjoy the peaceful feeling the sloths inspire. This is a creature who knows how to relax and my goal is to be more sloth-like in the next month. School is on the down hill slide and the excitement of summer is in the air. I am starting to make lists (to do lists, shopping lists, and wish lists) of all the things I want to accomplish over summer break. But right now, in this moment, I need to channel my inner sloth and just chill.

 
 

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Camp Out

It was a blizzard weekend and a snow day Monday.  Hubby was working crummy shifts...the boys and I snuggled and read and watched movies.  They both wanted to sleep with me...because of the blizzard of course - according to my three year old - a camp out in mom's room.  I love my little loves sleeping all stretched out in our king size bed and the feel of their squirmy little bodies inching closer to each other and mine in the middle of the night...searching for the radiant warmth of someone they love.  And even at 6am (yes 6am on a snow day!), I love those sleepy little smiling faces being the first thing I see.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Living the American Dream

On our wedding day, a good friend of ours, while dancing with the bride (me), said, "Well - this is it.  You are living the American Dream.  It's pretty good."

***

I woke up early this morning for a snuggle with my little one and a few extra minutes to just lay in bed and savor the last few minutes of the weekend before it was officially Monday morning.  It was one of those fabulous, perfectly average weekends at our house.  The weather was spring-like, though you wouldn't know it today, and we spent time at the park, getting coffee, raking leaves, and finally-finally taking down Christmas lights.

Over supper at Dairy Queen last night, while savoring the creamy sweetness of our blizzards and the quiet from our boys that only comes when little mouths are full, I asked my hubby, "Is this what you pictured when you were younger and looking forward to your life."  His response - "Yes, yes it is and so much more."

It is the simple things that make me appreciate my life...and fast forward seven years...we are living the American Dream.  A little house, a little dog, some little kids, and a beautiful, wonderful marriage built on friendship, trust, and respect. 

It's pretty good.

Friday, April 5, 2013

And They Brougt Me Flowers

Yesterday was a sad day for me professionally.  I was totally bummed.  Instead of my afternoon run, I  had a glass of wine and a hot shower.  It helped.  I deserved it.  Today I am less angry, less sad, but still disappointed.  I am "cleansing" my classroom of junk and clutter in the hope that one day I will be thankful I did because I am moving...where to, I do not know yet...or maybe I will just be thankful it is clean and organized with more room for new treasures!

And then, my boys brought me flowers, purple wildflowers to be exact, and all was right with the world.  They brought me flowers and stopped in to eat their morning snack with me.  They snuggled and helped me file the junk during my prep period.  When they left, they left not only flowers, but warm arms, crumbs, and a sticky circle on my table.  And for now, that is enough.  I will close my door tonight and go home to my boys and know that that is enough. 

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Waiting

Again I find myself waiting.  I had applied for what I hoped to be a change in my career path (for the third year in a row).  Alas, it was not meant to be.  I prayed for God to show me what to do with my gifts, to guide me...either I am already there and I just need to open my eyes, or God has something else in store for me.  So once again, the words of that familiar song are playing in my head..."I am waiting, waiting on you Lord."  Wait and pray, pray and wait.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The Last Two Weeks

*snow
*sun
*rain
*wind
*warmth
*chill
*Easter
*church
*hugs
*kisses
*good nights
*tractors
*puppies
*sugar cookies
*cake
*red boots
*puddles
*mud
*swings
*smiles
*giggles
*puppy licks
*warm blankets
*piles of laundry
*busy days
*tired nights
*long runs
*fast sprints
*coffee dates
*snuggles
*Dora
*Scandal
*steamy books
*silly books
*farmer boots
*ice cream
*teaching phonics
*writing reports
*best friends
*new shoes
*grilling
*sand box
*I love you's

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Perspective: Everyone Was Happy

My three year old's version of the Easter story:

Jesus died. Everyone was "beary" sad. Then they went to the drippy cave and Jesus was not there. It was a miracle! He was alive! Everyone was sooo happy. And then the big bad wolf blew down the three little pigs house.

From the mouths of babes! everything about his rendition of the Easter story is my favorite. What speaks to me the most though is his "everyone was sooo happy followed by the big bad wolf. Jesus's followers were so happy, but that isn't where the story ended. Figuratively there were still big bad wolves in the world. Everyone wasn't happy, but that ones that were, were happy in spite of what might happen next. In that moment it was a miracle and they were sooo happy.

***

Life doesn't always go as planned. In fact with two small children, supper rarely goes as planned let alone life! As it goes, the Easter weekend was beautiful. I had a very long weekend to recharge my batteries, spend time with my own kids and the hubby, and we even had made plans to all go to the farm together for Easter Sunday. Mother nature had other plans. The weather was beautiful, springlike...right up until Easter Sunday. As we headed out, my anxiety got the better of me before we had even left city limits...and I wasn't even the one driving! We stuck it out for several more miles, but when two sheriffs and an ambulance flew past us with there lights on, we decided we better turn back. I was sad. My boys were sad. My family at the farm was sad. I should have been happy just to have my boys and my hubby, but I was sad and I've learned that is OK too. Sadness is an expression of just how much something means to you and this day meant a lot, so I was sad.

The day was well spent anyway and relatively uneventful. Much better than spending the day in the ditch...life...God had a different plan for us and I am learning to trust that there was a reason, much bigger than my sadness, for this.

Everyone was soo happy in spite of "the Big Bad wolf." Happy Easter!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

The "Box"

I recently came across a passage via social media entitle, "The Marriage Box." This box is figurative. It stands for all the things a couple puts into a marriage. You can only take out what you put in and if you put in nothing the box will be empty. Thats the short version anyway.

After reading this passage, I thought about how true it was and how this concept could apply to other kinds of relationships too. Parenthood, friendships, familial relationships. A relationship does not automatically come with a set of prerequisite feelings, behaviors, or ideals. Relationships are built on what either party brings to them.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Leprechauns Came!

"The Leprechauns came, mom!"

This weekend has been wonderfully relaxing and much needed. The boys and I snuggled up to watch Santa Pups last night. We all squeezed into the big recliner with the popcorn bowl and there we stayed for the duration of the movie. An hour and a half of pure joy!

This morning, as I set breakfast on the table, my 3 year old, noticing the green sprinkle waffles and green milk, proclaimed, "The Leprechauns came, mom!" And indeed they did. Those silly Leprechauns...

Monday, March 11, 2013

A Birthday Party, A New Rug, and the Flip Side of Anger

The invitations were sent for a little man bash, a moustache bash if you will. I thought I had stumbled onto a "new", creative, party theme, but apparently moustaches are all the range. Who would've thought!?! Anyway...the invitations were sent, the moustache balloons filled with 30 dollar helium were hung, the little man birthday banner, hand tied with handsome baby ribbon, was stretched across the dining room door way, the boys were dressed in their moustache and tie shirts, the cups, plates, napkins, and straws were all adorned with cute little die cut moustaches, and last, but not least the cupcakes were skewered with little black moustaches. I thought I did pretty well even with a pop-culture theme...and then my husband's grandmother said, "What's on the cupcakes? Sunglasses?" She's an old German farm wife, what can I say (and I mean that very affectionately). The party was a hit and the kids made it almost to the end without a meltdown. The hubby and I decided that it should be mandatory that birthday parties be accompanied by a babysitter and/or a good bottle of wine.

***

Friday night the "USP" (UPS) man made a supper time visit, delivering a large, flat, rectangular package to our door. The package contained our new "wellness mat" a thick, foam, rug for the kitchen which is supposed to be better for your back, legs, etc... etc... The rug is dark brown with a swirly pattern embossed on it and edges contoured to meet the floor; perfect for a little tractor loving man to farm on. Also apparently the perfect place to practice crawling back and forth. I have spent the last two and a half days pulling that rug into position in front of the sink only to find it in the kids bedroom, the bathroom, or under the dining room table.

***

And finally, the flip side of anger. I have a bit of a temper. Lets blame that on the "wee bit o' me" that is Irish (sorry, I had to). I have outgrown it some, but I occasionally lose my cool. Nothing out of control or worthy of a call to the police (that is supposed to be funny), but think more banging pans and throwing shoes. I have recently decided that my temper is not necessarily a bad thing. Being able to express emotion (within reason) is an expression of passion. Think, "if I didn't care so much, this wouldn't make me this upset." My husband may disagree, but he does understand my logic!  Could I use better avenues for dealing with my frustrations...absolutely! But, for me, I need to know that it is OK to feel anger. It is even OK to be angry. It is what I allow myself to do or become as a result of my anger that really matters. I have been reading a great deal about forgiveness. I need to work on forgiving myself. I need to "let myself of the hook" every now and then and I need to remember that the flip side of anger is great love and passion. So if I am capable of anger, I can flip it and let love and passion rule instead.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Baby Turns 1!

My baby turned one yesterday. It was very bittersweet for me. I know it is the "circle of life," but dang it, I wanted to savor those baby moments a little longer. I cried. I cried because he is technically no longer a baby. I cried because he is weaning. I cried because what if this is my last baby (God willing there are more), but I still cried. And then I scolded myself for crying because it has been a beautiful year. A wonderful year. A year full of growth and love and family. 

Although I still felt a little emotional, I tried to make the night fun (the "party" isn't until the weekend).  I bought a little whip cream cake, Neapolitan ice cream, and a cupcake birthday balloon.  The moment my little boy saw that balloon in the car, his eyes lit up; he was mesmerized by its ability to float, shine, and make soft (or not so soft) thrumming noises as he pulled on the string.  Unfortunately for me, my three year old was quite enamoured by the balloon as well...silly me for not thinking that through.  Lesson learned: when in doubt, buy two balloons!  All the same, I drank in those precious moments of playing with (and bickering over) the cupcake balloon. 

We wound down the day by reading through a new stack of books from the library, eating fruit snacks, and snuggling in the big chair.  I have been meaning to get the baby out of our bed, but decided it could wait a few more days.  They are only little once.  Happy Birthday my baby boy!

Monday, March 4, 2013

If I Could Write A Letter To You

Dear You,

If I could a letter to you, I would remind you everyday that you aren't perfect and I love you just the way you are.  You will sin, you will be a bad mother, wife, teacher, daughter, daughter-in-law, and friend, you will make mistakes, not everyone will like you.  But its OK.  Do your best and don't be too hard on yourself.  Learn from life and teach your children how to live life.  Trust in God for everything because you have no control over anything.  Smile often.  Laugh much.  Love with every ounce of yourself.  Spend time with those who don't care if your house is clean, your dishes are done, and your laundry is folded.  Take time to pray, cuddle, relax, and play tractors.  Run to make yourself feel good and be healthy, not to be skinny.  God has made you for a purpose.  Just be.

Love,
Me

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Waiting

The words of a familiar song are playing in my head this week as I battle the blues. I can't remember all of them, or the artist, but it goes something like this, "I am waiting, waiting on you Lord. And I am hopeful...hmmm hm hm hm hm."

My life is beautiful. I thank God everyday for all I have been blessed with. I try so hard to live in the moment, but I am a controller, I have anxiety and depression, and sometimes I can't see the forest through the trees, but I am hopeful. I am working hard to battle my genetic and chemical deficits.

When I was younger, I watched my mother constantly battle depression, and I didn't understand. I knew her life wasn't perfect, far from it, but there were so many things to be thankful for. I could see God working in her life for good, but she couldn't. I could see that God gave her this burden so she might help others, but she couldn't. And now here I am.

I know there is a reason God gave me this burden, but now I need to work on TRUSTING this knowledge, TRUSTING God to lead me where I need to be. These are very very difficult things for me to do. I want everything done yesterday, I want what I want to happen now, but I do not know the plans God has for me, so I must wait and hope...and pray and TRUST God to lead me where I need to be.

I am waiting.

Little Red Rain Boots

Earlier this week, my three year old stopped me as I was on my way out the door to work. "Mom, wait! I need to show you something before you go," he said. He then ran to the book shelf and pulled out a frayed, softened, and obviously well-read baby board book. He knew exactly what page he was looking for and flipped right to it. The page he choose was a picture of a pair of little red rain boots. "Mom, can you get me a pair of new boots like this today? My black ones are getting too small (they are). I think they are in aisle 5 or maybe 9," he matter of factly told me. We live in a rural area, so the chances of finding toddler sized, shiny, red, rain boots in aisle 5 or 9, let alone any aisle were slim to none. However, I went to work, and searched the internet (not aisle 5 or 9) for little red rain boots. I found some too at one of my favorite sites! Yesterday, when I got home from work a shoe sized box was waiting for me by the door. Excitedly, I opened it up and then told my son, "I have a surprise, come look!" He was so excited and so convinced I found them in aisle 5 or maybe 9 thanks to his good directions.

The little red rain boots, wanted so badly by my little three year old boy, arrived just in time for a spring thaw day. It was beautiful today and the mud and water were both in abundance. We all went for a short walk to the park this afternoon and my boy had a fantastic time splashing through the puddles in his new red rain boots. The joy was palpable and helped to lift my blue spirit.

All that joy from a pair of little red rain boots, found in aisle 5 or maybe 9.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Good, The Bad, and The Stomach Flu

Friday, though I wasn't feeling a whole lot better, I got up and went to work. (Knowing that I was probably only the first in the house to be sick and those sick days would be needed for my little ones.) It was a long uneventful day. A good friend brought me a fancy coffee, of which I managed two sips before sadly putting it in the fridge for a day when my stomach felt better. (PS - I overflowed it in the microwave Saturday morning and never did get to drink it anyway). After picking the kiddos up from daycare, I managed an ice cream date that had been postponed from the previous day due to the stomach bug. The kids enjoyed the cookie toppings more than the ice cream. In a fit of spontaneity I also offered a visit to the movie store to which my three year old replied, "No thanks mom. We have movies at home." Indeed we did and we thoroughly enjoyed them even on the umpteenth viewing.

On Saturday, after a fun indoor play park date with good friends and their children, Saturday night was a little "shitty"...literally. As I wrote previously, I caught a little stomach bug. (and it has been making the rounds at daycare as well). Well Saturday afternoon it seemed the boys got a touch of it as well. I woke up from a much needed nap to poo everywhere thanks to the bug and a leaky diaper. This was shortly followed by an accident in the big boy underwear. It was at this point, I think, that my husband was rethinking taking his supper break at home. There was no "supper" per say. There was eggs and toast though, breakfast for supper is always a good lifesaver! The plus side to all of this was two fully bathed boys before 630. The rest of the night proved uneventful...thank goodness. We settled in to watch a few movies with cups of pedialite and powerade zero. Quite the trio we were! I went to bed with high hopes that this would be the extent of the stomach bug at our house.

And so it seemed. The boys and I spent the morning trying hard to be quiet so hubby could sleep in a little. It worked for a while. In the afternoon the kids took a short, but restful nap and after waking sat up to the table to have a snack and listen to some of my favorite tunes while I prepared supper. And then it began...the complaints of a tummy ache, followed by all the classic symptoms of the stomach flu. At one am, my hubby arrived home to chaos. We divided, baby and dad in one room, mom and flu kiddo to another. Needless to say it was a long night.

We are home today on a sick day. Aside from feeling awful for my little one and being thoroughly exhausted, it is a good day. I am thankful it was only the stomach flu. Ugly as it may be, I can deal with the stomach flu.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Worm Charming

A group of my students and I read this book in our small group today:

 

It was all about worm charming!  Who'd a thunk!?!  Visit the website www.wormcharming.com for more info.

Funk

After a long weekend, I thought I would be rested.  I was rested.  Now I am not.  I love being a teacher, but my heart is longing for more time with my children.  The stress of educating our lowest learners with increasing demands from administration is taking its toll.  I know the plans God has for me are far greater than I could ever imagine, so I will keep on waiting.

***

The "bug" also got me this week.  I always despise being sick, but  I used to be able to find some joy in sick days because I got to take a bath, catch up on my TV/movie watching, and maybe read if I wasn't too busy sleeping.  Now being a mom comes first, and sick or not, my children still want and need me.  In fact they seem to need and want me even more when all I want to do is crawl back under the covers.

This week has been difficult.  I am in a funk.  I feel like I don't deserve to be in a funk.  I am so blessed, there are so many others who deserve the funk more than I do, but yet here I am, in a funk.  I need sunshine and healthy kids, less stress, and more time to "play."  That is on me though, happiness is not an emotion, it is something I must work at every day.  I have all the components for happiness, I just need to make the decision to feel it...everyday.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Teacher, Stay at Home Momma, or Zookeeper

Some days doesn't it feel like they are all one in the same? 
Teacher, stay at home momma, or zookeeper.  

Today my 5th grade students were talking about what they wanted to be when they grew up.  One of them said, "Well, you are so brilliant, but what would you be if you weren't a teacher?"  (Ha, brownie points!)  My reply was, "A stay at home momma."  To which another student said, "Yeah, me too!  A teacher, a stay at home momma, or...a zookeeper!"  Little does she know...funny stuff people, funny stuff.

A day in the life...

5:35 1st alarm goes off

5:50 2nd alarm goes off

6:10 get out of bed - ask hubby to listen for baby to wake (he is asleep in our bed)

6:25 hubby and baby bust in bathroom (baby is fully dressed for the day though...yay!)

6:30 baby pulling on leg and trying to dig through the garbage as I attempt to apply makeup or at least cover up the spots

6:35 3 year old busts in bathroom and hubby leaves for work

6:40 fight breaks out over 3 year old's blanket (he has it, baby wants it)

6:45 3 year old aims incorrectly at toilet while trying to escape baby (I clean it up)

6:50 Sit down to nurse baby, turn Dora on, fast forward to baby side, check work email, have conversation with 3 year about why Christmas is over

7:00 Switch sides nursing, check regular email, open fruit pouch and juice for 3 year old

7:05 fix hair (aka: a messy bun-the only thing my hair knows how to do these days), change 3 year olds clothes, refill milk, pack backpacks

7:10 brush teeth, start car, make protein shake

7:15 haul bags to car, toast waffles

7:20 coats on, boots on, hats on

7:25 kids to car, smash waffles together and stuff in paper towels, throw leftovers in lunch bag

7:30 return to locked house for lunch and blankie

7:35 Drive to daycare - notice and discuss all the vehicles we pass

7:45 Arrive at daycare, unload kids and backpacks, undress kids, stuff clothes in bag, hang backpacks up, deposit milk, settle dispute about blankie, buckle kids in highchairs,

7:50 Give one more hug, kiss, and I love you

7:52 drive to work

7:59 Arrive at work - 1 minute to spare

8:00 Join initial evaluation meeting

8:02 Explain learning disabilities, dyslexia, and achievement testing to team

8:20 fill out paperwork

8:25 Finish protein shake and cold waffles

8:30 receive text from hubby requesting phone call

8:35 teach 4th grade reading

9:15 respond to hubby's text

9:17 in laws are coming to visit tonight (but they are bringing supper)

9:20 dispute via text message over who gets to run tonight (with hubby)

9:23 I get to run

9:25 Pump, check email, call student loan center, read chapter from Dyslexia, schedule two meeting with parents

10:00 teach 2nd grade reading...and on it goes...

No wonder I am tired!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Fantastic Saturday

Two simple words, my facebook status, summed up my Saturday.  I woke up to two little snugly boys in between my husband and I, sleepily smiling and silently waving to one another.  We lazed around a bit and then decided to go downtown and enjoy the beautiful February weather.  We hit up one of our favorite shops to make Valentines and play, then got a quick bite to eat at a neat little organic restaurant with a cozy atmosphere.  The morning was rounded out by grocery shopping with the big car cart and naps for all.  We then had a spontaneous pizza party with good friends and ended the day with Dora and "Happy Birthday Hamster."  On Sunday morning, at the breakfast table, my husband looked at me and said, "I love our life."  Me too!  It is truly fantastic!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Being the Mom

***I roughly wrote this a few weeks ago and forgot to polish and publish.  I decided not to polish it.  I like the raw emotion and frustration portrayed by my draft. 



Being the Mom is hard. Harder than I ever imagined. Now don't get me wrong, I'm sure being the Dad is tough to, but I can only speak for being the Mom. Some of the things that define my role as mom:

*I am the one they run to when they are hurt
*I am the one who they cuddle with when they are sick
*I read the best stories
*I know the right toys to pack in the church bag
*I don't ever forget the blankies and loves when we go somewhere
*I get the brunt of their anger and crabbiness at the end of a long day

After a wonderful family weekend, it was tough for everyone to go back to the weekly routine. I didn't particularly want to go to work (so much so, that I shut off my alarm this morning - luckily my internal clock did the job instead), the 3 year old cried about going to daycare, and neither boy napped well today. Needless to say, today lived up to every stigma ever put on "Monday."

I worry about my children all day every day. No one told me (or maybe I didn't listen or understand) that once you are a mother, once those children are no longer in your body, under your heart, the worry is just beginning. It is like letting a piece of your heart walk around unattended 24/7...the true meaning of wearing your heart on your sleeve. As a mother, your child's cries make your own heart ache. The injustices of life become twice as painful for a mother because of the inability to protect children from every cruel lesson life has to offer. People I once thought I would give my own life for have now become the same ones I would push in front of a train if it meant I could save my own child. A mother's love knows no rational boundaries. Some days I wish I could be the dad. I don't really know how it feels, but it looks like fun. Shovel snow, wrestle, love mom. Seems much simpler than what I do every day. When I really think about it though, I would never want to give up that bound of mother to child. I carried these children for nine months. I knew them before anyone else but God. I had nine months with them that no other person got to experience. I nursed them every day for over a year and sustained their lives with mine. There are some things I would not give up, even for a day of shoveling and wrestling.

"For I Know the Plans I Have For You"

Jeremiah 29:11

New International Version (NIV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

I must remind myself of this verse on days like today.  Things have not been going well with daycare.  We have a wonderful daycare provider.  Over the past year, her life has been plagued with tragedy.  It is only natural for these events to have taken their toll on her.  However, in this situation, I am the mother and my number one priority is the care of my children regardless of what scars life has left on another.  I want so badly to be able to stay home with my children, at least part of the time, but this does not seem to be in the cards for me.  I don't want someone else raising my children while I work to pay them to do so.  But if this is where I need to be, if work is where I need to go, then my mother's heart needs to know that whomever is caring for my children, is doing so with every shred of love and kindness in their heart.  We are all human, we ere.  I make mistakes that affect my children.  I am no more perfect than the next parent of caregiver.  I get that.  All I can do is pray.
I pray for guidance. 
I pray for understanding. 
I pray for wisdom. 
I pray for an open heart.
I pray for my children.
I say a prayer of thanks for all I have already been given.

To Read or Not to Read...That is NEVER a Question

I love to read!  Those who know me know this well.  As a kid, I would take stacks of books everywhere, including bumping along in the tractor (I had the ability to sleep in the tractor as well if that tells you anything).

What I am reading now:

1. Overcoming Dyslexia for Dummies
2. The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest
3. Wonderstruck

Top 20 Books I MUST read soon:

1. Anna Karenina (and THEN see the movie)

2. The Storyteller

3. The Devil in the White City

4.Small Damages by Beth Kephart

5. Gone Girl

6. A Walk Across the Sun by Corban Addison

7. Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo
8.

 9. Wicked Appetite - (an "easy" "fluffy" read)
 10. A Secret Kept
 11. Two Kisses for Maddy - (only when I have my anxiety under control)
 12. Unbroken

13. The Round House by Louise Erdich

14.  Floors #2: 3 Below (a children's novel - think Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)

15. The Casual Vacancy (author of the Harry Potter books)

16.The House I Loved by Tatiana de Rosnay

17. & 18 InkSpell and InkDeath (fascinating fantasy series for young adults)

 
19. Shadow of a Night (book 2 in a triology)

20. The Kitchen House

 



Thursday, February 7, 2013

Memories

I had a dream last night complete with a cast of characters from my past. It was not a nightmare, but it was not a happy, fluffy dream either. I woke up tangled in my blankets, sweating. As I lay awake listening to the breathing of my sons (one cuddled up right next to me and the other in the room next door), I thanked God for that dream. It may sound odd, to wake sweaty and be thankful. But, I was happy to have woken up and I was happy I could remember. My past isn't all unicorns and rainbows, a life well lived never is, in my opinion. I thanked God for my past, because the scars have made me who I am. The people I have loved and lost have shaped me into who I am today. All things, both the good and the bad, have helped me know what I want, to know that the fear of losing or being hurt, can only ruin the enjoyment of what is happening right now. As I lay there, I took slow deep breaths, I kicked my feet out of the blankets, and I thanked God that it was just a dream. I thanked God for those beautiful sleeping boys. I thanked God for waking up and I thanked God for the gift of remembering.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Playdates and Oreos

So on Wednesday of last week, my husband and I decided we would have a little Superbowl party. My husband sent a mass text and I prepared a menu. As things often go though, our plans went awry. Apparently you need to decide sooner than five days in advance to have a Superbowl party. Needless to say almost all of our friends already had plans. The exception was a close friend of ours (her husband made her a Superbowl widow to attend a "man" party, need I say more...really though, I do like him too :) and her 6 month old son. Our Superbowl party quickly turned into a play date and a weeks worth of eating spinach dip, monster cookie bars, and chili. To be honest, that is kind of more my speed anyway!

***

My oldest son is a mini me of my husband. In looks, he is my husband all over again. His spunk, well maybe he is what happens when two type A personalities have a baby! Mostly though, he is his own person. Spunky, quick on his feet, smart, articulate (for a three year old), imaginative, funny, outgoing, kind hearted, handsome, sweet, loving, loud, sensitive...I am his mother, the list could go on. The one thing I know for certain he got from me is his love of Oreo cookies. Peanut butter, mint, confetti cake, double stuff, black and white...he, WE, love them all. As a child, my paternal grandparents kept a Tupperware container (you know the one...cylindrical, opaque, with a cream colored lid, held about 2 quarts) full of Oreo cookies just for me. Hidden behind the bread box, fruit bowl, and dry goods containers on the counter, it was one of the first things I went for when I visited. I was not required to share my cookies with anyone else, but when someone did want one, I had a process. I am not ashamed to admit that I knew the Oreo cookie jingle by heart, still do, and I used this knowledge against anyone who wanted to share my cookies. It was simple, sing the song, get a cookie. Want another? Sing the song again. We do not have a cookie jar, but my three year old does know the old jingle. However, he is smarter than I am and works his cookie addiction into everyday bargaining. Some Oreo funny-isms from my three year old are as follows:

Several nights ago -

Husband: Do you want a snack?

Three year old: Yes.

Husband: (Using best love and logic) You can have a yogurt or a banana.

Three year old: (without missing a beat) or an Oreo cookie. Yeah how about that? That would be good.



This morning -

Background: We are all fighting colds, coughing, runny noses, etc...

Three year old: Coughing

Me: Oh man, that is a bad cough.

Three year old: Yeah, you know what would make my cough better mom? An Oreo cookie. Yeah that would be good, right mom?


Gotta love his persuasive efforts!



Saturday, February 2, 2013

Pirates and Football

My husband and I have had the "who runs the ship" conversation at our house on multiple occasions. Of course, on multiple occasions we have also decided, hands down, I do. In the past I have likened our roles to pirates...get it, ships - pirates, myself being the captain and my husband the first mate. I have often said, "you are a great first mate, but the captain you are not." This is true, but everyone knows what happens to the captain without a good first mate, right!?! Well in case you didn't know, the captain ends up walking the plank. Not a happy ending and I for one am a fan of happy endings.

This conversation came up again this morning..."who runs the ship?" In honor of the Superbowl being tomorrow, my husband said, "Well you are the quarterback, but I'm a darn good receiver." He is in fact a darn good reciever and I am thankful we are on the same team.

Moral of the story: choose your first mate (or receiver) wisely.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Hum Drum

It has been a "hum drum" week. Aside from a continued difference of professional opinion at work, the week has been an ordinary run of the mill week. The kids are fighting little colds. Translation: I'm not sleeping. I've been fighting a nasty headache. Translation: I'm not sleeping. My back is sore from running. Translation: I'm not sleeping. And my husband has been snoring. Translation: I'm not sleeping. However, this IS my normal and I wouldn't trade it for anything (well maybe I would trade it for some sleep at this point).

I have had a student observing me teach reading for the past several weeks and today I handed over the reins and had her teach a lesson. It was no big thing. A small group reading lesson. We did a running record together, she taught the lesson, I observed. She forgot to do a big part of the lesson, but I didn't tell her that because it didn't matter. What she did do was great and when I told her "I noticed..." about your lesson, the look on her face was so worth with holding information. This student gave me hope for the profession. Her obvious pleasure in being able to be the teacher was palpable and that right there is the start of a great teacher. It felt good to have a hand in teaching the teacher. Maybe a PhD IS in my future!?!

Weeks like this make me reflect on what is really important. I am busy, but I haven't been meeting myself coming and going. I am tired, but it's nothing new (and I have fantastic friends who bring me coffee without me asking). Weeks like this allow me to take pleasure in the small moments, to see the spark of a life-long passion and career echoed in another, to take the time for "just one more hug and kiss mom" from my runny nosed babes as I leave them at daycare, to get a massage after a month of being back at running, to appreciate the goodness of worth of friends, and though I don't always like that other person (or the sounds they emit), to appreciate that the one person I have choosen to love forever is sleeping next to me.

Hum Drum is good.

Monday, January 28, 2013

From My First Year of Teaching

I found this stuck in a book the other day it was dated Tuesday December 19th, 2006.  I was in my first year of teaching at that time.  I was teaching 1st grade in a very low income area.  Little did I know then how very true this was and how much more real this would become only six short years later.

The rest of the world doesn't know that teachers spend their evenings, weekend, and summer vacations grading papers, making bulletin boards, writing lesson plans, and taking classes for recertification...how hard a teacher tries to find the right words to chide, comfort, explain, and inspire...how teachers worry over their students as if they were their own children...how teachers weep when a school erupts into violence because they know it could have been theirs.

- Julia G. Thompson

Unless you are a teacher, you do not know.  You can relate, you can sympathize, but you do not know. 

Friday, January 25, 2013

My Truths

In dealing with my anxiety, I am learning to tell myself the truth.  These are my truths (for now - remember, I'm working on it):

I'm a terrible mother.
    The truth is, I am a good mother and my children love me.

I'm fat.
     The truth is, I'm not fat. 
     The truth is, I have had two babies in three years.
     The truth is, I'm working at it...really hard at it.
     The truth is, my time (for working out) is not my own.

I'm a terrible teacher.
     The truth is, I'm not a terrible teacher.
     The truth is, I work hard every day (and night, and weekend) to be a good teacher.

I don't have any friends. 
     The truth is, I do have friends.  Good friends.

I'm afraid to let the people I love travel.
     The truth is, the people I love are good drivers.
     The truth is, I don't have any control over what might happen.

This is hard work and I am learning it is easier to tell the truth than it is to believe the truth.






Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Potty Training and Weekend Review

On the advice of my sister in law (sought in desperation by my hubby and I), we went straight underwear on New Years day with my three year old. We knew he was ready, however, the trauma of his baby brothers arrival was continuing to affect our efforts towards potty training. Well...that and a very stubborn and independent three year old. These two factors combined with tears, temper tantrums, and wet floors lead us to call my sister in law who has two young children of her own (both potty trained might I add). We had already begun to use a visual timer, additionally though, she suggest getting rid of diapers completely. So we did. That day. That was on New Year's Eve. The result, potty trained! And now the preschoolers version of 20 questions...all about anatomy! More on that later...

***********

This weekend was cold. I mean really cold! -10 was the actual temperature! That and the babes has a little cold, so we did alot of indoor activities. First up, a two man band! We dug out all the non-breakable pots, pans, and containers and set up a drum circle. One orange smiley face spoon was the only casualty. :) We also built a fort (Dad headed that one up), and created with an assortment of odds and ends from mom's days as a classroom teacher leftovers. We also had a Cars movie night complete with sleeping bags and snacks picked out by my three year old. He even put the straw in my juice box for me! I very nearly finished my book this weekend as well...The Girl Who Kicked the Hornets Nest...fantastic crime drama...more on that later too. I also did some fantastic cooking and baking if I do say so myself; turkey meatloaf, homemade mashed potatoes, jam tarts, yum yum brownie muffins. No wonder I am running again! Speaking of which, the running is going extremely well. I did a double run on Friday because I felt so good and this weekend I signed up for a spring 10K and a summer half marathon...yikes! All in all a fantastic weekend!

And then Monday morning came. While I was getting ready my three year old was playing at my feet. The conversation went something like this:

Me: Do you know you get to stay home with daddy today?

3 year old: Yeah. With you too?

Me: No, I have to go to work. I wish I didn't have to go to work!

3 year old: oh yeah, I wish you would go to work.

Okay so I thought it was a fantastic weekend!

Friday, January 18, 2013

Sick Day

***I borrowed the format of this post from one of my favorite bloggers, Kelle Hampton.

Sick day: pancakes, puzzles, farming, jammies, no makeup, sweatpants, movie, grape juice, pintetest, arts and crafts, cake pans, spoons, two man band, scrambled eggs, snuggles, books in bed, breathers, hugs and kisses, john Deere ice cream truck, phone call from friend, quiet dog, sunny weather, fleece blankets, cuddles, peanut butter toast, daddy's home, laundry, dishes, check the weather, menu planning, naptime, email, pasta, double run, bathtime, vicks, mighty machines, tylenol, dragon, prayers, I love yous, nightlights, no bed time, fox news, puppies, sleep.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Special Education Teachers and Books

Special education teachers are the best.  I know this is a generalization and therefore by nature a false statement.  I also know that because I am a special education teacher, this statement may be a little bit biased.  I'm OK with that.  It's my blog, my opinion.  Here's why I think that:  Special education teachers are the best because they spend weeks, months, even years teaching skills only to have students progress at a glacial pace and then when they do make progress, they celebrate it like a 30th birthday!

****

I am a reader.  When I am happy, I read.  When I am sad, I read.  When I want to relax, I read.  When I want to learn more, I read.  As a special education teacher, here are some of the top books on my reading list.  This is not an all encompassing list, this is just a list of the books that have inspired me to be who I am both as a person and as a professional...for me, it's not just a job, it's part of who I am. 




Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Sad

It is Tuesday and the weight of the week seems to already be crushing me.  Meetings, meetings, and more meetings, followed by two nights filled with conferences and another day of IEP's.  I love my job, but even the best and most loved jobs have a dark side.  Meetings and paperwork are my jobs dark side. 

Last night, I had to tell a mother, that although I have discovered what challenges her child has, I can not fix them.  She cried.  I stayed strong in the moment, but the strain of her tears showed in my mood and actions the rest of the night.  And then I felt guilty because that is her life, she has to watch her precious child struggle and know that she cannot fix what is wrong, while I go home to my own children and leave her to deal with her own problems.  I have written about this child before.  He weighs heavily on my mind day in and day out.

Then the guilt comes.  While I spend hours helping other children, my own are at daycare being raised for eight hours a day by someone else.  A wonderful woman, yes, but me she is not.  By the time my school day is done, especially days like yesterday, there is little left over.  My emotions are raw, and my patience is worn thin and all my children want is a little piece of me (or in this case a big piece of me because it was Monday night and Mondays are always hardest).  Then the guilt comes.

Today, my post is gloomy and sad.  I make no apologies for this.  I am sad for the child with a profound learning disability.  I am sad for the mother whose dreams are crushed and I am sad for me because I have not been giving my own children the best of me.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Food and Funny

First, funny. The Sunday night supper table conversation at our house:

Hubby - "Josh looked really skinny, but he was wearing skinny jeans." (talking about next door neighbor).

Me - "Josh was wearing skinny jeans?"

Hubby - "Yeah, I didn't really take him for the skinny jeans type."

3-year old - (busily playing at the table in avoidance of super) "Jesus was wearing skinny jeans?"

And if thats not funny, you either don't have kids or you have lost your sense of humor (or possibly, you don't know what skinny jeans are).



Now the food. First up, the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever made. If you like your chocolate chip cookies crispy, these are not for you. However, if you like them chewy and dense...these are the best!

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies



I love to make pasta. My hubby's reaction to this recipe; "Is this the Olive Garden?" Home Run!!

Creamy Mushroom and Shrimp Pasta



Last but not least, "clean" baked apples...well almost anyway. We topped them with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of caramel syrup. Delicious!

"Clean Eating" Baked Apples

Saturday, January 12, 2013

An Apple a Day

Fooducate. The new app I was recently introduced to, Fooducate, is yet another "tool" promising to help us make healthier choices in regards to eating. It is rather helpful and informative. You simply scan the bar code on food packaging and the app spits out a grade from F-A with pluses and minuses in between, F being the poorest in nutritional value and A being the most nutritional. Being the kind of person and mother I am, I am constantly looking for ways to feed my boys the most nutritional food possible while still making it taste good.

In light of my new found knowledge, I am trying out some new things this weekend. Multi grain french toast for breakfast. Chicken breasts and Kale chips for lunch. It was rather comical to watch my skeptical boys try this version of chips. There was quite a lot of chewing accompanied by thoughtful stares. The verdict: not so bad. If you are curious about how to make kale chips, see below.***

Okay so now on the flip side, it is -3 degrees with a wind chill that makes that temperature feel like something more like -20 or -30. Healthy eating of not, it was a cookie baking kind of day. Chocolate chip on this day, as requested by my three year old. Dad threw down the rule, only one before lunch, but I believe he broke his own rule by 2 or 3, but who's counting. This brings me to the title of my post today, apples.

I recently read an article about weight loss and healthy eating. One piece of advice that stood out to me was, "If you aren't hungry enough to eat an apple, you aren't hungry." Great advice! However, today, I was hungry enough to eat an apple, which I did and I still had room so I ate three cookies as well. Maybe that's not what they meant. Oh well, we all thoroughly enjoyed the cold cookie baking day and especially the end product.

I did have my apple today and I do try my best to feed my family nutritious meals. I am learning though that the body is not the only thing I need to take care of. My spirit is hungry as well and my boys need me to not only feed their bellies, but also to feed their spirits. My three year old reminded me of this last night at supper when he requested his favorite prayer, Johnny Appleseed, a long standing family favorite. The connection was clear for me, the spirit is hungry for "apples" too.

Literally and metaphorically...an apple a day.





***Kale Chips

1 bunch kale, washed and dried, stems removed
1-2 tsp. olive oil
fine salt (popcorn salt) or seasoning salt

Directions: Line non-insulated baking sheet with parchment paper. Tear kale into bite size pieces and spread on parchment paper. Drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt. Bake at 350 for 10-15 minutes until edges are slightly brown, but not burned. You may have to "stir" them around once or twice depending on how evenly your oven bakes. Remove from oven, cool, enjoy.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

IEP Day and 3 Year Old Lessons

Today was and IEP day for my teaching partner and I. We have a wonderful system. From 8am to 2pm we schedule a meeting every hour, alternating hours. So I have one then she has one then I have one and so on until we reach the end of the day. It is a rather exhausting day, but it is so freeing to have all of them done in one shot and not have to constantly be checking the calendar for dates. In between meetings and typing IEPs, I did a little creative research for materials that would help my students. Among the finds:

*an awesome sight word kit at teachers pay teachers called Rainbow Words
*blank punch cards for monitoring kids behaviors and earning rewards (think coffee cards)
*a list of series books for boys, separated into different reading levels

I can't wait to utilize my new finds (and finish typing IEPs so I can check that off my to do list).

On the home front, my three year old was involved in a scuffle at daycare in which he walked away with a clawed up cheek. I don't know that he learned the value of sharing from this incident, however, I think he did learn the value of telling mom and dad the truth. I discovered today that I am a bit of a helicopter mom (not full fledged, but the tendencies are definitely there). In spite of my tendencies, I felt good about the way I handled the incident and as a result so did my son.

A full day was topped off by a surprise visit from Papa, who practically has celebrity status at our house...and he brought supper!

I am busy and tired, but I am so blessed. AND tomorrow is Friday! Now, if only it could be a snow day...

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Dyslexia and Bananas

Tonight after school, I went to the grocery store to pick up macaroni, chocolate milk, and bananas...a few forgotten items from yesterday's stock up trip. When I got to the check out, I realized I had forgotten the bananas. Luckily, the cashier was kind enough to let me run back and get them. By the time I returned two more people were waiting in line, waiting for me to get my bananas. I jokingly said, "that's what happens when the list is in my head and not on paper.". This of course had some truth to it, but the bigger reason for forgetting the bananas was because I had dyslexia on my mind. Specifically, a 7 year old blondie, with a shy smile, a love of hunting, and a soft spot for dogs...who just happens to be dyslexic. Some people can leave work at work, teachers cannot.

I have been involved with this student for over a year now, however, his dyslexia identification is a recent development. Being the kind of person I am, I have been reading and information gathering since the word "dyslexic" came up. I have recently been to a workshop with presenter Karen Bourne as well as consulting with a local "expert." Additionally, I have been scouring the internet for information, listening to books on audible, and immersing myself in the self-proclaimed user friendly "Dyslexia for Dummies." But it's not enough! I keep thinking, if this was my kid, I would be researching, fighting, advocating, to find a way "around" dyslexia - so I must keep researching, fighting, advocating, and searching for a way around dyslexia because this kid is "mine."

Dyslexia is a diagnosis. Dyslexia is a disability. Dyslexia is not a choice. There is no cure, but there are ways around this obstacle. I am determined to find them.

No wonder I forgot the bananas!

Monday, January 7, 2013

John Deere Green, Sleds, Christmas Trees, and Naptime

It is a very sad day when my husband and I ask each other at 7am, "How many hours until nap time?" We calculate this, not because we dislike our children's company, but instead, we ask this question because we are exhausted!

Our second child is our pride and joy equally as much as our first born is, but they are very different children. Where our first born came into the world with a loud, spirited, and curious personality, our second child came into the world with barely a cry and has continued to be the passive observer. We know he is just as smart as his brother, because he watches everything and takes it all in before acting. Well, until about five days ago that is! Ear infection? Teething? Growth Spurt? Weather change? I hope there is an explanation...we are exhausted!

Despite our exhaustion, we ventured out on Saturday for coffee and cookies from the local coffee shop and a trip to buy a sled. We were looking for a hard plastic or rubber sled, with enough room for two, handles, and an optional pull rope. Doesn't seem like such a tall order for a rural Midwestern town on the first weekend in January. However, apparently sled market closed around Christmas time...needless to say we went home with a little red shovel instead of a sled. Our three year old seemed satisfied with helping shovel for the time being. I guess we will count our blessings that he is excited to help dad shovel! (on a side note, I did find what promises to be an awesome sled on-line and it should be here by Wednesday!)

In addition to excitement about outdoor winter activity, our three year old has had a very creative speaking vocabulary lately. When I hollered, "What are you doing?" from the kitchen on Saturday, the response I received was, "Riding my John Deere green bike in the hallway. That's just what boys do Mom!" Yes indeed...that is what boys do.

Speaking of things boys do, our 10 month old took the tree out for the third and final time on Sunday. It was not as traumatizing the third time as it was the first, so we decided as long as it was down, we would officially take it down and put Christmas away.

Which brings me to my to do list this week:

1. Take down and pack up Christmas decor.
2. Plan meals for next two weeks.
3. Fold laundry and put away.
4. Begin training for 10K (run at least 3 days this week...ugg).
5. Get groceries.
6. Pick up new glasses.
7. Type 5 IEP's.
8. Find creative, easy, screen free activities for boys to do. (thanks pinterest)
9. Read "Dyslexia for Dummies" (stay tuned for blog post regarding Dyslexia)
10. Work on updating boys scrapbooks and journals.

Whew! And thats how we do weekends at our house! Have a great week and here's to getting your "to dos" done.

Friday, January 4, 2013

What do you mean you can't find it?

So yesterday morning, what was supposed to be a quick trip to pick up my husband's pickup from the shop, turned into a 35 minute ordeal in which we were very seriously told, "We can't find your vehicle."  Those who know me, know that I am not a very patient person in certain circumstances.  This was one of those circumstances.  Those who know me, also know that I am not a morning person most days.  This was one of those days.  Needless to say I was frazzled by the time I arrived at work twenty-five minutes later than expected.  In a conversation with my boss, I explained not only the ridiculous reason for my tardiness, but also that I had spaced out a doctor's appointment and would therefore need to leave early.  I felt like just flushing the entire day with a start and an end like that! 

However, five minutes later, a little boy who loves super heroes, changed my mind.  An hour later, a little boy who finally learned all his short vowel sounds, changed my mind.  Two hours later, a little girl with a new haircut, changed my mind.  My day was not a waste.  There was so much good to be had and here I was choosing to be mad about waiting for our pickup instead of enjoying the extra thirty-five minutes with my kids (even if it was while they were strapped into their car seats while my husband and I waited for our vehicle to be "found").  I was choosing to have negative thoughts about my doctor's appointment even though I thoroughly enjoy the company of my doctor and respect what she has to tell me.  I was choosing to throw away a day that had just begun for the students at my school.  Lucky for me, that little boy who loves super heroes, changed my mind early.  I thanked God for that little boy today.

While getting my own children ready for bed last night, my three year old whispered, "Mommy, you a sweetheart.  I love you like crazy cakes."  My day was not a waste.  I thanked God for that little boy today too.

Everyday has something good and I am so thankful I didn't flush this one away.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

New Year and Looking Back

"It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags.  Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before.  Maybe Christmas doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas...He thought...means a little bit more."
                                                                                                        ~ From the Grinch the movie

Today as I started each of my groups, I gave each student two minutes on the visual timer to spend talking about whatever they wanted to share that was special about Christmas break.  Some of the kids shared about the new xbox they got, or the new snowboard, or video game.  However, the majority of the kids spent their two minutes sharing what they did and who they did it with.  Though they may have thrown in a "I got a new __________ from __________," the excitement and focus was not on the gifts, but rather the joy found in who it was from and spending time with those they love and those who love them.

Reflecting on my own life, I can only pray that I have the tools as a mother to raise my children to appreciate the who above the what.  During my own vacation it was a joy to see my children open up their packages and get excited about presents...a new combine from a favorite Grandpa picked out for a little one who loves all things farm...special night lights to give the children a sense of security from Grandma...warm blankets and new jammies from Mom and Dad to cozy in bed in on Christmas Eve.  These gifts, I know my children will use, love, and remember, but above all, I hope they will cherish the special people they received these gifts from but more importantly the time spent - sleeping in and baking cookies with mom, riding in the tractor with Papa, shoveling snow with dad, snuggling with Grandma, playing with cousins at the hall - when they are given their two minutes to share what made Christmas break special.

Happy New Year!